The Hunt for a Runaway | 29 035 / 118 4A +

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The Hunt for a Runaway | 29 035 / 118 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Aug 24, 2014 12:40 am

Location: Tal En’Enko, Jielam, Arkandia
Year: 29 053 (118 Fourth Age)
Status: Mid Spring
 
Daenis had no trouble keeping her good news to herself when she returned home early in the evening of the day she had met the travelers. Her saviours, she called them to herself. They were going to get her out of this life, the one thing she had so desperately wanted for as long as she could remember. She had always had to hide her emotions, and this would be no different.
 
“Daenis!” her father growled when she entered their home, a multi-roomed tent with furs for walls. “You need to be home earlier! It’s dinner time already and you’ve yet to start it!”
 
“Sorry, Father,” Daenis apologized, bowing her head meekly and letting her hair fall forward. “I lost track of the time. The sun is staying up longer each day.”
 
“Well, if you know that, you should compensate for it,” her father replied, but his tone was softer than it had been. He sighed. “You need to learn to be on time. A good wife needs to make sure-”
 
“Father, you know I have no intentions of being anyone’s wife at present,” Daenis interrupted him, her voice cold. Her pale eyes blazed. “When I marry, it will be on my own terms.” Holding her cornett close, she brushed past her father, towards her room.
 
Her father didn’t call after her, but she knew the discussion was not over. He was, for some reason, pleased that Feraïs wanted to marry her. He was the tribe’s weapons master, and yes she understood that it meant that he had the second-highest position in the tribe’s system of ranking, but not only did she not love him, she simply wanted nothing to do with him. He loved his job. He loved the fact that he was the best fighter in the tribe. He loved being able to beat other people. He loved that it was his job to beat other people.
 
To put it bluntly, he just plain loved himself. He got what he wanted, no matter the cost to anyone else, and Daenis refused to have anything to do with a person like that.
 
She put her cornett away, wrapping it carefully in its fur-lined carrying case, and took a moment to breathe before she went to start dinner for herself and her father. When the meal was finally ready, Daenis served her father, as she always did, making sure he had everything he would need – his meal, dishes, utensils, his drink – before taking anything for herself.
 
“You know that Feraïs is the best husband you could hope for,” her father told her as she began to eat.
 
“So you tell me, Father,” Daenis replied evenly. She took a bite of her soup.
 
“You know you would never be in want of anything.”
 
She bit her lip to keep from retorting. Nothing but respect, she wanted to say. Love. A kind word. Even mere appreciation. But none of those protests would avail her anything. She chose to ignore her father, focusing instead on deciding what she would like to take with her when she left. She would have to limit her choices, since no one must suspect what she was doing. Her cornett, of course, that went without saying. A few changes of clothing, only the barest of necessities. A knife, the only weapon-like thing she grudgingly agreed to own, and only because it was so useful for everyday things. Would she need a blanket? She probably should, just in case the people who would take her away from here might not have any extras.
 
Suddenly she became aware that her father was speaking to her, and she blinked up at him, her cheeks flushing with shame. “Sorry, Father, my thoughts ran away with me,” she murmured in apology. “What were you saying?”
 
Her father was annoyed, and made no effort to hide the fact. “I said, Feraïs will be coming for dinner tomorrow, so I want you to make something special.”
 
The flush of her cheeks grew darker, but it was not with shame or embarrassment this time.
 
“No, Father, I will not prepare a meal for him,” she said angrily, rising to her feet. “His attention is not welcome and I will do nothing to encourage him, even for your sake!”
 
Her father had also risen to his feet, and he was equally angry. “You will do as I tell you,” he said in a threatening tone. “Tomorrow he will be here for dinner, and you will prepare your best meal. Is that understood?”
 
Daenis clenched her fists so tightly she could feel her nails digging into her palms. “No,” she hissed. “I will not-”
 
A cry escaped her lips as her father struck her across the jaw, knocking her to the ground. He stood over her, livid with rage. “You will prepare a special meal tomorrow, and you will be on time,” he growled. “End of discussion.”
 
He left her there, lying on the floor, and stalked out of the tent; and Daenis lay there for a moment before putting one hand to the corner of her throbbing jaw. That was going to leave another bruise, of that she was certain. She fought back tears as she rose slowly to her feet, tears of pain and frustration. Why did her people have to be like this? She knew her father was not the only violent man – everywhere she turned, her people were being trained to kill, encouraged to kill, threatened to kill; and where they did not kill, they hurt, even their own families. Some days she envied her mother for no longer being a part of this world.
 
Then she remembered the three women she had met earlier that day, and her resolve to leave her home grew stronger. Only a few more days, she reminded herself as she began to clear away the dinner dishes. Only a few more days …
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Re: The Hunt for a Runaway | 29 035 / 118 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Aug 26, 2014 11:56 pm

Location: Tal En’Enko, Jielam, Arkandia
Year: 29 053 (118 Fourth Age)
Status: Mid Spring
 
It was barely noon when Daenis left the unicorns behind, Mailon at her side. She was nervous about him coming with her, but she knew that if she had been returning home on her own she would have been absolutely terrified. Her father’s ultimatum still rang in her ears: You will prepare the finest meal possible for Feraïs tonight, or else you will become his wife tonight – if I have to watch him do it myself!
 
Even now, as she thought about it, she shuddered. She was going to prepare the meal – how could she not? – but she still didn’t trust her father not to force her into the marriage anyways. That of course was why the others had insisted Mailon come with her, to protect her if the need arose.
 
She glanced up at her silent companion. He was White Elf-kind, like her. Like her father. Like Feraïs. He looked no different. How could she trust him?
 
Ira trusted him, she recalled. And if a unicorn trusted him, how could she not? No one had the ability to sense people’s intentions like a unicorn.
 
He caught her looking at him, and he blinked slowly. “Yes?” he asked softly. “You have a question for me?”
 
Daenis blushed and looked away. Of course she did. But how did he know? Well, she had been staring at him, and the man clearly was no fool.
 
She cleared her throat awkwardly. “I … ah … I was wondering …” She hesitated again, and then decided that whatever he might to do her, it couldn’t be as bad as what she knew would await her at home if she messed anything up. “Where are you from? And why are you traveling with those other people?”
 
She looked up at him curiously, and some of the heat left her face when she realized that he wasn’t bothered by the question. Actually, he seemed to be … smiling. It was a strange expression for her to see on a White Elf’s face, and it startled her.
 
“Well,” he replied, “I could tell you the whole long tale of my lives … but I’m afraid it would be very dry. Allow me to sum up and say that because of my skills in my first life, I was more or less born with all the skills our people consider to be most important. I believed as almost all our people do, that those who are not the same as us are not worthy of living.”
 
He rubbed the back of his neck slowly, and Daenis got the feeling that he was more sensitive than he looked – which, if he had any sensitivity at all, he would have to be, as he looked no different from any of the men of her tribe.
 
“I was asked to deliver a message in Kelibrae,” he went on, “but I never made it to my destination. I was ambushed and left for dead. It took me a long time to return home, but it gave me a lot of time to think. Why had I been attacked? Simply for not being human? How unfair.” He shrugged. “Then I realized, that is exactly what our people do. We kill people simply for not being born in the same country as us. For not having the same coloured skin or hair as we have. I realized how … how horrible the actions of our people are. When I returned home, I spoke out against these actions. For that, I was exiled from my tribe. I was the Weapons Master, I had helped the chief to remain alive for a very long time … but it was he who ordered my death.”
 
He looked down at Daenis, and she felt a sense of sympathy for him. These were thoughts that she had also considered. She had lamented, for as long as she could remember, the actions and values of their people.
 
Suddenly he smiled. “The people with whom I travel, they are good people,” he told her softly. “I have done terrible things in my past, even to one of their group, and yet they are willing to accept me. And there are more like us, Daenis. We are not the only White Elves dissatisfied with our race. You will meet them too, in time. You will not be alone.”
 
The idea gave Daenis hope, and she smiled back at him, for once feeling confident that things would not be terrible when she returned home.
 
It was nearly an hour’s walk from the unicorns back to her tribe, but she and Mailon did not speak much after that initial conversation. Instead, she played her cornett, and though she didn’t play nearly as well as she usually did – it was nearly impossible to play well while walking – Mailon complimented her on it as they approached the village. It was the first compliment she had ever gotten – well, that wasn’t from a unicorn – and it made her blush.
 
When they passed the training grounds, Daenis could feel Feraïs’s eyes on her, boring into her, but she refused even to look in his direction. She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction.
 
“By the way,” she murmured quietly to Mailon as they approached her home, “you may want to keep a weapon on you at all times, just in case. You never know what someone might try.”
 
Mailon nodded silently, and when Daenis looked up at him, she was startled to see the change that had come over him. Gone was his kind expression, gone was any semblance of warmth, replaced instead by the same cold if not deadly expression that most of her people had.
 
“Daenis!” her father greeted her when she came into the tent. “You’re on time. Imagine that.” He blinked in surprise when Mailon followed her inside. “And who is this?”
 
Daenis hesitated a moment, clutching her cornett tightly with both hands. The ease with which Mailon had changed frightened her, and once again she was wondering if she had done the right thing in bringing him with her. Still, there was no going back now.
 
“Father, this is Mailon,” she introduced him nervously. “I found him wandering a short distance from the village. Mailon, my father, the chief of our tribe.”
 
“I need a night’s lodgings on my way through your village,” Mailon said to the chief, cutting Daenis off before she had finished her introduction. He was facing the chief directly now, ignoring Daenis entirely. “I expect you won’t object to a Weapons Master staying under your roof for a night.”
 
Daenis lowered her gaze. He was acting exactly like Feraïs, and it frightened her. What had she gotten herself into?
 
It seemed her father was impressed, though. “Weapons Master?” he repeated, rising to his feet. “Well, then, we’ll be graced with the presence of two Weapons Masters at dinner tonight.” He arched one eyebrow at Daenis, and she glared at him rebelliously. “Set for four, Daenis. I trust that won’t be a problem.”
 
Daenis bit back a retort. It wouldn’t do her any good here. “Yes, Father,” she said, though she was glowering at him furiously. She cast Mailon her best traitor glare and headed off towards the cooking area.
 
She didn’t understand what was going on. Was this the real Mailon that she was seeing now? Or had the kind and gentle man with whom she had walked here been who he really was? Which was the man, and which was the mask?
 
She set herself to the task of preparing dinner, and very soon she was lost in it. With a meal of the sort her father was expecting, it took not only all of her time, but all of her concentration, and it didn’t take long before she forgot about everything except the meal. Some of the meats had been marinating all morning already, but others needed different preparations. She also needed to prepare the sauces, the seasonings, the side dishes …
 
“Smells good.”
 
The voice made her jump violently. So intent had she been on her task that she hadn’t heard anyone coming up behind her. She turned around and saw Mailon standing just a few steps away, looking sheepish. “Sorry,” he apologized. “I didn’t mean to startle you.”
 
Daenis felt her face warming, and she turned back to the food. “What do you want?” she asked him shortly, irritated at his presence. Or at the way he had come up behind her. No, she decided, it was because of how easily he had changed face earlier. She no longer trusted him.
 
Mailon was a few moments in answering. “Well …” He seemed to hesitate. “Actually, I was going to ask you if you need any help …”
 
She stirred one of the sauces in silence, frowning. What was he playing at?
 
“I’m fine,” she said darkly. “What do you care, anyways? You’re no different from any of the others.”
 
She heard him chuckle softly, and turned around to look at him. “You think I’m being funny?” she demanded coldly.
 
Mailon was smiling, but he shook his head. “No, not that,” he murmured. “I suppose I’m just amused that even you believed in my acting. You are no stranger to pretending to be like others, are you? How many have you deceived? Your own father, I’m certain.”
 
“Had I not, I would be already married.” Daenis scowled. Suddenly remembering to check on some of the meat, she turned around again to check on it.
 
The silence lasted a moment longer, and then Mailon commented, “You must really hate the man.”
 
“Which man?” Daenis replied quietly.
 
Mailon stepped beside her, and there was pity in his smile. “I was referring to the Weapons Master.”
 
She paused, her brow furrowing slightly, and looked up at Mailon. “Why do you say that?”
 
He chuckled again and dipped one finger in the sauce she was stirring. He sucked it clean, then winked at her. “Because I have never tasted anything so good. Considering that your father has threatened to force you into marriage if your meal is not good enough, it’s clear to me that you are doing your very best to avoid that situation. Considering the only higher position in this tribe is the one your father holds, and that most girls would kill for such a husband – no matter his disposition,” he added quickly, foreseeing her protest, “it speaks volumes of your hatred for him.”
 
“And for all like him,” Daenis sighed. “This … this whole way of life.”
 
He smiled and leaned in closer to her. It was a bit of uncomfortable feeling, and she held her breath apprehensively. But all he did was whisper in her ear, “One more day.”
 
The thought made her smile despite herself, and Mailon chuckled again. “You should smile more,” he murmured softly, straightening again. “It looks good on you.”
 
Daenis felt her face warm again, and she let her hair fall forward to hide her blush. She couldn’t see Mailon with her hair in her face like that, but she heard him chuckle yet again. Then he murmured, “I’ll leave you to it.”
 
She heard him walk away, but before she could relax, she heard another set of footsteps, and then Mailon said, his voice gruff once more, “Quite the daughter you have there.”
 
She heard her father grunt. “Don’t get any ideas,” he replied shortly. “She’s spoken for.”
 
“Oh?” Mailon sounded amused at the statement. “That’s not the impression she gives.”
 
And then the two of them moved off and continued their conversation out of Daenis’s earshot.
 
A few hours later, the meal was ready, and Daenis was satisfied that she had done well enough to more than satisfy her father’s wishes. Fricasseed hare, sautéed baby seal, char meuniere, and braised whale meat, each one flavoured differently, some marinated, some slathered in sauce. She had used every ounce of her considerable knowledge to choose the best herbs and spices, so that each dish, while different, would complement each other. It was also an expensive meal. Very few plants actually grew in Jielam, so herbs and spices were extremely rare, and thus, pricey. Still, her father was the chief, and she had been given very specific orders concerning the quality of the meal.
 
She was still setting the meal when Feraïs arrived. She ignored his presence, allowing her father to take care of him.
 
“… have been looking forward to this all day,” she heard the Weapons Master say to her father as they entered the tent.
 
“Well, she has been working hard all afternoon to prepare this meal especially for you,” her father replied proudly.
 
Daenis’ eyes narrowed as she set out the last of the dishes. Her father was so eager for her to marry Feraïs. It disgusted her.
 
“Hey.” Mailon’s voice came softly from the other side of the room. Daenis was startled again, but not as much as the first time he had startled her. She looked up at him, and he smiled gently at her. “You’re not alone,” he reminded her. “Do not fret yourself so.”
 
 She smiled at him, then took a deep breath and prepared herself for facing the others.
 
“Daenis!” her father boomed out, sounding pleased when he entered the dining area and saw the meal spread out in it. “Now, that is what I call a feast! Feraïs, come and sit!”
 
Daenis moved to stand next to Mailon while Feraïs and her father sat down. Not only did this put her where she needed to be to serve the meal, but it reminded her father and showed Feraïs that there was someone else there.
 
“Ah, yes,” said Daenis’ father, eying Mailon. “Feraïs, we have another guest joining us tonight.” He gestured towards Mailon and looked back at Feraïs. “Mailon. Also a Weapons Master in his tribe.”
 
“Weapons Master?” Feraïs smirked at Mailon as he stepped forward to join the other men. “Hit the ceiling?”
 
“I’ve no desire to be chief,” Mailon said smoothly, looking evenly at Feraïs. “What’s your excuse?”
 
Daenis had to bite her tongue to prevent herself from snickering at the look of shock on Feraïs’ face, and she felt a new appreciation for Mailon. Her eyes flickered to Feraïs to see how he would react.
 
The Weapons Master seemed at a loss for words. He looked at Daenis’ father, then back at Mailon. The thought flitted through Daenis’ mind: perhaps her father wanted her to marry Feraïs as insurance, in hopes he wouldn’t try to kill him and take over his position as chief. It would explain his desperation.
 
“Well, it looks as though Daenis has prepared quite the meal for us,” Mailon smiled smugly. “Seems a shame not to be eating yet.”
 
Daenis took this as her cue, and, hiding her amusement, she stepped forward to serve the men. Along with the meal, she served some wine, making sure to keep their cups full, though she noted that she had to fill her father’s and Feraïs’ cup far more often than Mailon’s. She was hungry, but she couldn’t eat until the others were all finished. When it was just her and her father, she took liberties on that score, but she had to be on her best behaviour tonight. No food until the others were finished. And if there wasn’t any food left, well, she would have to make something else for herself.
 
She remained silent throughout the meal, but she listened to the banter that went back and forth. It went more or less as it had begun. Clearly, Feraïs was seeing Mailon as a threat, but every time he tried to insult him, Mailon threw his own comments back in his face. It actually turned out to be somewhat amusing for her.
 
At length, many hours after the sun had set, the food and wine were both gone. Daenis still hadn’t had anything to eat or drink, but the amusement had made up for it. She was hungry, but she could wait. The men went off to do whatever it was that men did after they ate – Daenis had never stuck around to see what her father did when there were guests over – and she remained to clean up the dishes. With Feraïs around, she remained more alert, and so this time she was not taken by surprise when someone spoke from behind her.
 
“Quite the meal you prepared, Daenis.”
 
She glanced over her shoulder and saw that it was Feraïs. Rolling her eyes, she turned back to her task.
 
He stepped closer to her. “I just paid you a compliment.” His tone was cold.
 
Daenis cast him another glance. “Thank you,” she said shortly. And she went back to cleaning up.
 
“I must say,” Feraïs went on, putting his hands behind his head lazily, “I feel rather honoured that you would prepare such a meal for me.”
 
 “Who said it was for you?” Daenis retorted before she could help herself. She picked up the stack of dishes. They would need to be washed immediately. When she turned around, Feraïs was standing almost directly behind her, and she took a step back, startled. 
 
“If not for me, then for whom?” the man demanded, quietly but coldly.
 
“There were two others at dinner,” she reminded him, stepping around him. “You do the math.”
 
She could feel his eyes on her as she walked away from him, and then she heard his footsteps following after her.
 
“You would prepare such a meal for a traveler?” he asked her. “A man not of our tribe?”
 
“You mean a man who is exactly where he wants to be in life?” she shot back, smiling innocently.
 
Feraïs’ face darkened, and she knew she had hit a sore spot with him. He did want to be chief. But he didn’t dare try for the position. Whether he could defeat her father or not, she didn’t know, but she knew he was afraid to try. The thought made her want to laugh, though she didn’t dare show it.
 
“How do you even know that what he says is true?” Feraïs hissed.
 
Daenis shrugged one shoulder. “You could always challenge him.” She hoped he would. She wasn’t really worried about Mailon. If he had been driven out from his tribe but had stayed alive this long nonetheless – and been Weapons Master while he had been there, no less – she was certain that he could hold his own.
 
Feraïs hesitated at the idea. Clearly, he also realized that if Mailon was where he wanted to be, as Weapons Master of his own tribe, and that he was still allowed to travel outside of the tribe, that he would be a man to contend with. Would it be worth the risk to challenge him?
 
But Daenis had made her point. Whether Feraïs challenged Mailon or not, Daenis knew that he was a coward, despite his skill. She wasn’t afraid of him anymore, either. She was still going to leave, but she felt confident that, with Mailon here for the night, she would be safe.
 
“Go home, Feraïs,” she told him softly, turning her back on him.
 
She would sleep well, she was certain.
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Re: The Hunt for a Runaway | 29 035 / 118 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Mon Sep 01, 2014 12:10 am

Location: Tal En’Enko, Jielam, Arkandia
Year: 29 053 (118 Fourth Age)
Status: Mid Spring
 
Daenis woke with a start. Something, she was certain had woken her, but she was not sure what it had been. She lay still for several moments, her heart pounding, wondering what it was that had startled her awake. All around her was silent, and at length she had to conclude that it was nothing.
 
She lay her head back on her bed and closed her eyes again, but as she felt herself drifting back into sleep, she remembered what day it was.
 
Liberation day, she had named it to herself.
 
She rose from her bed and started her usual routine. Tidy her room. Wash. Break her fast.
 
It was as she was finishing her breakfast that she heard voices and remembered that Mailon was still there. At least, she assumed he was, because she knew of no one else who would be speaking with her father this early in the morning.
 
By now, her nerves were losing their calm as she thought about what she was going to do. She had no idea whether or not they would be successful, and she knew that if they were not, if they were caught, she would be forced into a marriage with Feraïs, and she would never be able to escape.
 
Breathe, she reminded herself as she cleaned her plate. Nothing can be different today.
 
“Good morning,” Mailon’s voice came from behind her, making her jump.
 
She whirled around, her heart racing, eyes wide, and had to swallow a lump in her throat before she could speak. “Good- good morning,” she squeaked finally.
 
Mailon stepped closer to her and put his hands on her shoulders. “Breathe,” he murmured, lowering his head until his forehead was nearly touching hers. “Calm yourself. Come now. Slowly, deep breath in …” He waited until she had done so. “… and out.” Again she did as she was told. Mailon smiled. “Good.” He glanced around furtively, then leaned closer and murmured, “Gather what you wish to take. I have convinced your father to allow you to walk me out of the village.”
 
Daenis’ eyes filled with wonder. How had he managed that? Perhaps, she reflected, he had managed to really impress her father the night before. But before she could ask him, he was gone again, heading outside. She took another deep breath, then headed towards her sleeping area for her cornett and her knife.
 
“Daenis.”
 
She had been about to pick up her cornett in its case when her father spoke, and she jumped despite herself. Clutching the fur case in both hands, she turned to face him. “Yes, Father?”
 
Her father entered her sleeping area, and for the first time in her remembrance, he seemed hesitant, uncertain about something. His distraction was probably what saved him from noticing her nervousness, she realized, and she forced herself to breathe normally.
 
“Daenis, that man … the man you brought here last night …” He hesitated again, then shook his head. “He’s asked you to walk him to the outskirts of the village. I don’t know if I trust him. I want you to be careful.”
 
“Careful?” She didn’t have to fake her surprise at his concern. “Of what?”
 
Her father frowned. “I don’t know. I have a feeling, that is all. He seemed … rather interested in you last night. Make sure you don’t go with him where no one else can see, all right? If he tries something, I want someone to be able to step in.”
 
“Tries something?” Daenis laughed, tension easing from her chest. “Oh, Father. Don’t be so silly.” At his stricken look, she smiled and patted his arm gently. “Don’t worry, Father. I will walk him no further than the furthest tent.”
 
Her father seemed very relieved at that, and he left her alone. Her smile faded, and she let out her breath. That had been close. She was anxious for this all to be over so that she wouldn’t have to worry anymore. She tucked her cornett case under one arm, slid her knife into its sheath inside her skirt, and left the tent.
 
Mailon was waiting for her outside, and once more his expression was cold and hard, like any of the men of the village.
 
“Took you long enough,” he frowned at Daenis when she approached him. Ignoring her hurt expression, he added, “When your father agreed to allow you to accompany me, I thought he meant immediately.”
 
Daenis bit her tongue and started to lead Mailon through the streets of the village. North, he had said the day before, so that was the direction she took. They attracted many glances as they walked, and as they passed the weapons training grounds Daenis could feel Feraïs’ eyes boring into her back. Still, she ignored him.
 
When they reached the last tent of the village, Daenis wished Mailon a safe journey, bowing low to him as a woman was expected to do for a man, and Mailon in turn complimented her on her hospitality (though not quite thanking her for it) before he turned and left. She watched him for a few minutes as he walked away, then turned and headed south, towards the unicorns.
 
Who knew? Maybe she would have some time to herself to puzzle things out before anyone else would arrive for her.
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Re: The Hunt for a Runaway | 29 035 / 118 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Sep 07, 2014 9:23 pm

Location: Tal En’Enko, Jielam, Arkandia
Year: 29 053 (118 Fourth Age)
Status: Mid Spring
 
All through the day, Chief Rolitar felt uneasy. He had asked around, and he knew that the stranger, Mailon, had left the village on his own that morning, and that Daenis had come back through the village alone and gone off in her usual direction, but he still didn’t feel right.
 
By noon, his agitation was so intense that he couldn’t stand it anymore. He sent for the village’s best hunter, Orym, and when the man arrived, the chief was in the middle of his lunch.
 
“Chief?” The man stepped confidently into the chief’s tent, ducking under the outer furs but straightening when he was inside.
 
“Orym.” The chief wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and pushed his plate away. “Come here.”
 
Orym moved to stand next to the chief, hands clasped behind his back. “Yes, sir?” he said respectfully.
 
The chief leaned back and looked up at the man. He was not very tall, of average build, but he knew from experience that the man had the eyes of a hawk, ran like the wind, fought like a polar bear, and seemed never to tire. Trustworthy, at least as far as he knew.
 
“I entertained a guest last night,” he said darkly. “This morning, Daenis escorted him to the northern end of the village. I want you to make sure he’s gone. Follow his tracks, make sure he’s long gone. Understood?”
 
Orym bowed his head. “And if he’s not?”
 
The chief reached for his food again. “Escort him if you have to. Kill him if he won’t go. I want him gone.”
 
When Orym straightened, there was a gleam of pleasure in his eyes. “As you wish, sir,” he murmured. Grinning to himself, he left.
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Re: The Hunt for a Runaway | 29 035 / 118 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Sep 07, 2014 11:28 pm

Location: Tal En’Enko, Jielam, Arkandia
Year: 29 053 (118 Fourth Age)
Status: Mid Spring
 
The afternoon progressed slowly for Chief Rolitar. He wanted to know that the stranger had gone. But until Orym returned with word, he couldn’t rest. He puttered around the village, checking things out, watching Feraïs train the children. Time passed, and he began to anticipate Daenis’ return. He sort of expected her to be late, after the massive dinner he’d made her prepare the day before, but he hoped she would be on time anyways. He hadn’t liked the comments Mailon had been making the day before …
 
“Chief,” came Orym’s voice suddenly just as the chief was about to enter his tent.
 
The sun was beginning to lower in the sky, and the chief had been about to check if Daenis was back yet. He turned to face the man and folded his arms across his chest. “Yes?”
 
Orym’s expression was grim. “I’m not sure what to tell you, sir,” he began quietly. “The tracks led north for a while, and then there were some different sets of tracks … and then they vanished. Like a false trail.”
 
The chief narrowed his eyes slightly. “I hope you have more information than that to tell me. You’ve been gone half the day.”
 
“Yes, sir.” The hunter didn’t seem eager to give his news, though. “From what I can tell, he circled around the village, towards the south. There were a bunch of unicorns there, and I had to circle around them, which brought me close to the mountains. Sir … there were five or six distinct sets of tracks there. I believe one set was Daenis’.”
 
The chief’s face filled with rage. “What?!
 
Orym didn’t flinch. “I followed the trail into the mountains. They met up with several others, there are close to twenty sets of tracks. And … there was blood in the snow. The tracks headed west from there.”
 
Rolitar’s face flushed with rage. “Gather the men of the village,” he ordered the man briskly. “Now.”
 
The hunter bowed his head and headed out to do as he was ordered, and the chief went into his tent for his weapons. It had been a long time – decades, in fact – since the village had been forced to go on a full-out hunt, but it was something they were always prepared for. And anyone who had the gall to take off with the daughter of a chief … well, that was just plain suicide.
 
He had no doubts that his daughter would be found. It was just a matter of time.
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Re: The Hunt for a Runaway | 29 035 / 118 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Thu Sep 11, 2014 6:34 pm

Location: Two days out of Tal En’Enko, Jielam, Arkandia
Year: 29 053 (118 Fourth Age)
Status: Mid Spring
 
The group that was going after Daenis consisted of half a dozen men: Chief Rolitar, of course, and Feraïs; Orym, who was the best tracker and hunter in the village; and Neldor, Wyn and Hoccar, three of the oldest men – by standards of White Elven society, they were also some of the best fighters. How else could they have survived for so long?
 
After two days of no rest, Orym was promising them that they were getting close.
 
“These tracks are no more than a few hours old,” he told the chief, who was growing more impatient by the hour. “We’ll have her back by tomorrow.”
 
“Good.” The chief was nearly growling. His hand was clenched tightly around the handle of his sword, which he had not sheathed since the party had left their village in search of Daenis.
 
“Not to dampen your enthusiasm, Orym,” Feraïs spoke up, his eyes directed upwards, “but you may want to rethink your estimation.”
 
The tracker looked at the sky and frowned. The sun had vanished, and the clouds were growing thicker by the second. “What is this?” he muttered darkly. As he spoke, the wind picked up and snow began to fall. “I have never seen the weather change so quickly.”
 
“It looks like it’s going to be quite the storm,” Feraïs added.
 
“It has happened before,” spoke up Wyn, one of the older elves. His face was grave. “But only once, and that was more than a decade ago.”
 
 They were so concerned about the sudden appearance of the storm that no one noticed the look on the chief’s face. If they had seen it, they would have questioned it, because it was not a look of surprise or confusion, but sheer anger: a knowing anger.
 
Daenis. She had nearly wiped out their village with her ability when she had been only four years old, and he and Daenis’ mother had dealt with her so harshly she had been too terrified ever to use her ability again. But now it seemed she was doing just that. By force? Of that, he had no doubt.
 
“Keep moving,” he ordered the others, pointing with his sword towards the storm. “That’s the same direction we’ve been following.”
 
“Chief,” Feraïs protested, “if that storm hits us, there’s too great a chance we’ll take a wrong turn, or if they change direction-”
 
“Keep moving!” the chief snarled, brandishing his sword at the Weapons Master.
 
“Feraïs has a point, sir,” Orym spoke up calmly, looking at the chief. “Anything could happen. It’s too risky. It’s better to wait out the storm and then track them again.”
 
And by this point there was no question but that the storm was going to hit them. Snow was already whipping around them, tearing at them, and the trail they were following was filling in fast.
 
“Sir, at this rate we’re going to end up separated from each other,” Neldor warned him as visibility around them got worse. “Then we will be done for.”
 
Even as he spoke, it grew more difficult for him to see the others around him. It was made even more difficult by the fact that they were all White Elves – nearly invisible in the snow and wind. Still the chief hesitated. He wanted his daughter back. Or, more specifically, he wanted – no, needed – to punish the people who had taken her from him. If he let this go, he would lose face in front of the entire village. No one would respect him as chief – and then his life would be worth nothing at all.
 
On the other hand, killing the entire party would not be wise, either.
 
Finally, he nodded. “Very well,” he decided. “We stop here until the storm abates. Rest up.” The order came with a growl. “Once the storm is over, we continue at full speed.”
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Re: The Hunt for a Runaway | 29 035 / 118 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Sep 14, 2014 2:41 pm

Location: Three days out of Tal En’Enko, Jielam, Arkandia
Year: 29 053 (118 Fourth Age)
Status: Mid Spring

It took hours, nearly a day, for the snowstorm to abate, and the moment it became clear enough, Chief Rolitar ordered the men to continue on their journey. For hours, they walked without clear direction. There was no path to follow. The snow had wiped out all traces of the group that had taken his daughter. The only thing they could do for the moment was to continue in the same general direction they had been going and hope that they would pick something up eventually. After all, the group they’d been following would not have been able to go far in the storm either.

“Chief,” Orym called suddenly, kneeling on the ground. “Tracks.”

The chief hurried to the tracker’s side and knelt next to him. When he looked where Orym was pointing, he saw nothing out of the ordinary, nothing he would have called a track. He looked at the man silently, waiting for an explanation.

Orym traced an odd indentation in the snow with his finger. “Here. It’s not a footprint, that’s true, but it’s a track of some kind. As if they had some kind of protection from the storm that allowed them to keep going.

The chief cursed and stood up, clenching his fists. “Then they have a day’s advantage.”

“Perhaps so,” Orym agreed, “but they have left a very obvious trail.” He pointed along the ground. “See? It’s almost like a ditch. And I’m sure that the further we follow it, the clearer it will get. We can make good time.”

He smiled at the chief. “Sheathe your sword, Chief. It’s time to run.”
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Re: The Hunt for a Runaway | 29 035 / 118 4A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Sep 16, 2014 12:24 am

Location: Three and a half days out of Tal En’Enko, Jielam, Arkandia
Year: 29 053 (118 Fourth Age)
Status: Mid Spring

For hours, the group of six ran at full speed, and as Orym promised, the trail only became clearer the further they went. They ran in silence, pausing only occasionally to let someone catch up who had fallen a bit behind.

“Hey, Chief,” called Wyn after several hours had passed. “Are you sure this is worth all the hassle? We’re days from the village now and each of us have things to do there – families or work to take care of.”

Rolitar skidded to a stop and whirled to face the man, grabbing him by the throat. “In case you had forgotten,” he snarled angrily, “it was my daughter they took from us. If you think that we’re going to turn around before finding her back, you are quite mistaken.”

The others slowed, then stopped and surrounded the two of them.

“Chief, he’s got a point,” Feraïs said quietly. “It’s been days. And yes, I know she’s your daughter, but to be honest, she’s not worth all this.”

The chief froze as if he had been slapped, the turned slowly to face the Weapons Master.

“What … did … you … say?” he demanded, his voice such a low growl that it was barely audible.

Feraïs didn’t back down. “I said we’re wasting our time,” he said evenly, facing the chief squarely. “I’m done. If you want to put this much effort into finding your useless daughter, you go right ahead. She’s never done anything for the village anyways.” He turned away and started walking back the way they had come. “And don’t bother coming back,” he called over his shoulder. “Clearly the village means nothing to you.”

Immediately, the others turned to head back with Feraïs. The chief was completely floored. He didn’t understand what was happening. How could they turn back, when they were so clearly so close? They had made such progress already today! Daenis was in his grasp again, he could feel it! Why would they all so suddenly want to go home? All of them!

“I’m afraid I can’t let you do this,” he growled at last, his tone icy. He unsheathed his sword and took an offensive stance. “My daughter has been taken from us. Would you really let this affront to our village to unchallenged?”

“The village?” Feraïs laughed. “What does the village care? No one ever saw her, anyways. She was always gone. Didn’t do anything that normal people do.”

The chief’s eyes narrowed. “But you wanted to marry her.”

Feraïs shrugged. “There are other women in the village. Besides.” He grinned, and a gleam appeared in his eyes. “When we get back, I’ll have the pick of any woman I want.” He unsheathed his sword and turned back towards the chief. “Because you aren’t coming back.”

The chief blinked at the sudden change in Feraïs. “What?”

“Actually, I don’t know why I never bothered doing this before,” the Weapons Master continued, almost conversationally. “I mean, even when I was a child, I never thought you were a worthwhile chief.” He grinned widely. “I think it’s time for a new one.”

Rolitar came at Feraïs then and slashed at him with his sword; but Feraïs was more than ready for the attack. He had been expecting it. He blocked it easily with his own sword, sidestepping the chief as his momentum carried him past, and with his other hand he drew a long, thin dagger from his waist and, turning after the chief, plunged it into the man’s back before he had a chance to turn around. The chief let out a cry of pain and tried to turn back towards Feraïs, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t move. He simply fell to the ground, and after a few moments of twitching, he lay still.

Feraïs stepped on Rolitar’s back and pulled his dagger free. Kneeling in the snow, he wiped the blade clean, then, sword in one hand and dagger in the other, he turned towards the other four men to see if any of them would challenge him.

Most of them had their own weapons ready, but when he turned to them, they put them away. This silent movement was an unspoken acknowledgement of Feraïs as their new chief.

Daenis forgotten, the five of them turned back and began to head home, never realizing how close they had come to completing their mission before the protective runes of the travelers’ tent had distracted them all from it.
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