Quinn's Tale | 106 4A+

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Quinn's Tale | 106 4A+

Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Feb 21, 2016 10:43 pm

Where: Wing Haven, Amon Darthir
When: Late Autumn, 106 4A
 
Life in Wing Haven was difficult. It was a beautiful place, and as its name implied it was a safe haven from the gnomes that had been attacking the people for thousands of years; but safety from gnomes did not mean full bellies or enough clothes to wear – or, for some, houses big enough for the families that lived in them.
 
Like most families, Quinn’s family lived in a home with one bedroom, one kitchen and living area, and one loft. When it was just the three of them – he, his brother Seith, and their mother – it was fine; but on the very rare occasion when their father and older siblings were home, it became very crowded.
 
Not that that had ever happened, in Quinn’s memory. In fact, if asked, he wouldn’t even be able to describe his father’s appearance, or Tarron or Tali. Well, he could remember Tali – vaguely – because when she had visited, she would sing him and Seith to sleep at night. He knew the next-door neighbour lady better, however: while his mother was away during the day, working in the castle, the lady from the next house over would watch over him and Seith, give them some lunch, make sure they were clean before their mother would make it home for the evening.
 
To Quinn, that was life. It had always been like this, and he expected it always would be.
 
This particular morning began like any other. Mira, Quinn and Seith’s mother, climbed the ladder into the loft, knelt next to the boys, and shook their shoulders gently to rouse them.
 
“Come, my darlings,” she murmured, her green eyes warm but sad, as they had been for as long as Quinn could remember. “Time for breakfast.”
 
It was still dark outside, but that was nothing new. Seith rolled over to try to go back to sleep, but Quinn was more concerned about his belly. If he didn’t eat breakfast, he knew there would be nothing until lunch, and even that wouldn’t be much. Even at four years old, there were things he was wise enough to know.
 
“T’mon, Seif,” he said, poking his twin’s side. “Time for brea’fast!”
 
He crawled towards the ladder, his knees catching on his night-shirt and nearly tripping him.
 
“Careful!” his mother gasped, catching his shirt with lightning reflexes and saving him from a nose-dive over the edge of the loft.
 
It took a few minutes, but soon enough all three of them were safely down in the main area. Quinn and Seith were seated at the table, eating their bowls of porridge, while their mother pulled out clothes for them to wear for the day. Light began to filter in through the window, and by the time the sun was up, the boys were dressed and ready to go.
 
Quinn was reaching for the door handle when his brother suddenly exclaimed, “Mama, look! People!”
 
He was pointing at the window, but rather than moving to the window to look at what his brother had seen, Quinn opened the door to see what was going on. Sure enough, between the houses on the other side of the street he could see what looked like a crowd of people making their way up the road.
 
Mira’s brow furrowed deeply and one hand moved to her mouth. “It can’t be,” she murmured, shocked.
 
“What is it, Mama?” asked Quinn, looking up at his mother curiously.
 
Mira’s face lit up with sudden joy, and she knelt and picked up both of her sons. “Aerin-sol!” she exclaimed gleefully. “She’s returned!”
 
She hurried out of the house, and with a child in each arm she didn’t even bother to close the door behind her. She cut across the yard and joined in with the growing throng of people who were cheering and whistling.
 
Quinn had never seen anyone acting like this before, and he was a little scared. He put on a brave front, however – he could, while he was in his mother’s arms – and looked around, trying to figure out what was going on and why it was making everyone behave so strangely.  From his vantage point, he could see over peoples’ heads all the way to the front of the crowd, and he could see some very strange people. There was a lady who looked just like everyone else leading the way, but with her there were some people with odd hair colours – colours he had never seen before: one was black, like the night sky, and two others were pale, like certain flowers in spring.
 
They continued through the streets of the city, and it became louder and louder as more people joined them, until Quinn was convinced at last that no one in the city had been left behind. How could they? The crowd was so loud that no one could have missed hearing them!
 
It wasn’t until they left the city entirely that his eyes filled with fear. He had never left the city walls before – he had never dreamed of it! Outside the city was where the gnomes were!
 
“Mama!” he cried, scared now; but she couldn’t hear him above the noise of the crowd.
 
Suddenly everything turned silent. Quinn’s fingers tightened around his mother’s collar, and he twisted around to see what had happened. At the front of the crowd, he could see the king. He had never seen the king before, but he knew that that must be who it was, because he was wearing a crown, which only a king was allowed to wear. The normal-looking lady was talking to him, but he didn’t look happy to see her. He couldn’t really hear what was going on, and what few words he did hear, he didn’t understand.
 
“What’s happening, Mama?” he asked his mother; but before he could even finish articulating the question, she shushed him.
 
“Quiet!” she hissed, but not angrily. “I want to hear this!”
 
Quinn leaned forward and looked at his brother, but Seith was also looking at the king. Quinn could tell he was listening very closely, because he had two fingers in his mouth, which he always did when he was listening to something.
 
Suddenly, the people at the front of the crowd began to argue, and Quinn couldn’t stop the whimper of fear that escaped his throat when the lady grabbed the king by the neck. His eyes darted to the soldiers around them to see what would happen, but none of them moved to help their king. The king’s face was growing quite red, and he shouted at the soldiers: but still none of them moved to help.
 
Then someone in the crowd shouted: “Down with Aerennel!” and then someone else added: “Up with Queen Aerin!” Others joined in, and very quickly it became a chant that was shouted by each and every person: “Down with Aerennel! Up with Queen Aerin!”
 
Quinn had no idea what it meant, but even he was swept up by the energy of it all. “Down wif An’en’el! Up wif Q’n Aewin!” he shouted, pumping one fist in the air as so many others around him were doing. “Down wif An’en’el! Up wif Q’n Aewin!”
 
He couldn’t see what happened next, but a massive victorious cheer rose from the throats of the thousands of people in the crowd. Then, as suddenly as they had begun, everyone fell silent. The lady at the front, who had had the king by the throat, turned to the crowd and spoke to them. There were a lot of people, and Quinn was surrounded, and his ears were still ringing, so he couldn’t quite hear what she was saying; but apparently it was good, whatever it was, because suddenly everyone cheered again.
 
When the cheering stopped, the lady spoke again, and this time Quinn couldn’t even hear the faintest sound of her voice. He turned to his mother once more to ask what was going on, but he stopped when he saw the look on her face. She was smiling and looking happier than Quinn had ever seen her before, but … she was crying.
 
“Mama?” he murmured, so concerned that everything else was immediately forgotten.
 
Seith had also noticed the tears and was also concerned. “Mama? You ’kay?” he asked, his eyes wide and fearful.
 
Mira laughed and wiped her eyes on Quinn’s shirt, then kissed him and his brother in succession. “More than okay,” she laughed through fresh tears. “Oh, boys, this is the best day of our lives!”
 
She hugged them closer, though by this time her arms must have been aching, and kissed them both again. Quinn didn’t understand, but he did recognize that he wouldn’t be getting any answers at the moment. It didn’t look like his mother would be able to say anything more for a while.
 
The next time the crowd broke into cheers, it was so loud that he had to use both hands to cover his ears. Maybe his mama thought it was the best day, he thought with a pout, but he was getting a big headache.
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Re: Quinn's Tale | 106 4A+

Post by Nara-pyon on Mon Feb 22, 2016 10:44 pm

Where: Wing Haven, Amon Darthir
When: Late Autumn, 106 4A
 
By the time the crowd began to disperse, Quinn’s head was spinning. He didn’t understand what had happened, the noise had been too great for him, and the rush of energy that had filled him was beginning to drain away. He put his head on his mother’s shoulder and closed his eyes.
 
“We going to Rilla’s now?” Seith asked as they headed back the way they’d come.
 
“No,” Mira replied softly, shifting her sons in her arms. “We’re going home.”
 
Quinn opened his eyes in surprise. “No work today?”
 
“Not today.” Mira pressed a kiss to his cheek. “Today we get to be a family again.”
 
Quinn frowned. “But we are famlily,” he protested.  
 
Mira laughed and squeezed him lightly. “You’ll see what I mean,” she promised. She kissed his cheek again, then Seith’s. “Just wait. Come on, let’s see what we can dig up for a celebration.”
 
She set them down when they reached their yard, and Quinn ran ahead and through the open door. He wasn’t quite sure what to do once he was inside – he couldn’t remember actually being home during the day before. He turned and looked questioningly at his mother.
 
“Pantry!” she beamed at him. “We have to see what food we have!”
 
Quinn and Seith hung back, watching as their mother pulled things out of the pantry and began to put it together. Though she did prepare dinner for them in the evenings, it was always something that took very little time or effort to put together: after a day’s hard work in the castle, she didn’t have the energy to do anything more. This, then, was new to them. They watched her curiously, occasionally asking questions about what she was doing.
 
Suddenly the front door opened, and a tall, short-haired man stood in the doorway, dressed in battered armour, carrying a sheathed sword and a bow. Quinn froze and stared up at the man, clueless as to his identity, and Seith ran to hide behind their mother’s skirt.
 
Tanithil!” Mira cried joyfully. Dropping the spoon she was using to stir the contents of a bowl, she rushed over to him, threw her arms around him, and kissed him repeatedly. He laughed and dropped his weapons, returning the kisses.
 
Quinn looked over at Seith. His mother looked too busy to answer any questions, so he shuffled to his brother’s side and took hold of the bottom of his shirt in an effort to curb his anxiety.  
 
“And look at you two!” the man exclaimed. He put one arm around Mira and stepped into the house, his eyes on the twins. “How you’ve grown!”
 
Quinn and Seith hugged each other and backed away slowly, afraid of this strange man and his overly familiar manners, and the way he was making himself at home.
 
They were surprised when their mother laughed. “Come now, boys! Don’t you recognize your own papa? Come say hello!”
 
This stranger was their papa?
 
Seith backed away again, but Quinn looked closer at the man. Some of his anxiety left him. He didn’t remember the man, but … if his mama said that it was his papa ... well, he had to trust her, didn’t he?
 
“Take off your armour, Tanithil,” Mira giggled, rapping lightly against his metal breastplate with her knuckles. “Maybe you won’t scare them as much.” She ran her fingers over his face, then through his hair. “I can’t believe you’re back … it’s been two years …”
 
“No wonder the boys don’t remember me,” he chuckled. He reached up and began to unbuckle his armour, and Mira helped him to remove it and set it aside. Quinn watched with wide eyes as the man transformed from a battered warrior to a regular man. He listened to his parents’ conversation, and after a bit, something tickled at the edges of his memory … the voice was familiar … if only slightly.
 
Suddenly, the door opened again, and another man entered the house. This one was slightly shorter than their father, and thinner, but looked very much like him – short hair and all.
 
“Tarron!” Mira squealed. She ran to him and hugged him and pressed a single kiss to his forehead, though she had to go on her tiptoes to do so.
 
The man laughed and returned the embrace. “Hello, Mother. Good to see you again.” He inhaled deeply and grinned widely. “What a glorious day!”
 
“Indeed it is!” Tanithil beamed. “I had given up on Aerin-sol’s return a long time ago. Her return is …”
 
“The best thing that could have happened,” Mira finished her husband’s sentence.
 
“Considering that we didn’t even know about her existence,” Tarron added.
 
Mira laughed softly. “It was such a long time ago that it happened,” she smiled. “It’s nothing to think about now.”
 
“Or at least wait until your sister arrives so that we only have to explain it once,” Tanithil quipped.
 
By this time Seith had retreated all the way back up into the loft, but Quinn was seated at the table. The room was getting too crowded to stand anywhere else. It wasn’t a very large room, and there were already two extra people in it, plus the armour that Tanithil was removing. Tarron was also wearing armour, but his was leather, so he wasn’t taking it off. Quinn watched his brother (though he didn’t remember him any better than he had remembered his father). He was more curious about the sister that had been mentioned … for some reason, that was triggering more of a memory than the two who had already returned.
 
“How is Tali?” Mira asked, her excitement tempering briefly. “She is coming, right?”
 
“She’s coming,” Tarron assured her, “she’s just making sure Starweaver is properly taken care of. She shouldn’t be long.”
 
“Tali?” Quinn perked up. He did remember her. She had used to sing him to sleep, tell him stories ... “Tali coming?”
 
Tanithil laughed heartily. Half armoured, he picked up the boy and swung him in a circle. “That’s my boy!” he chortled. Quinn giggled, and when his father hugged him, he threw his arms around his head and hugged him back. “Of course you would remember Tali best of all.”
 
Seith was peeking over the edge of the loft. “Why?” he inquired curiously.
 
Their father looked up at him, still grinning. “Because she spoiled you more than the rest of us,” he chuckled.
 
“That, and she only joined the Wing Riders last year, whereas Tarron joined two years ago, and you’ve been there their whole lives,” Mira explained.
 
Quinn wasn’t sure what that meant, and when he looked up at Seith, he could see that his twin didn’t know either.
 
“Hey, Mom, what are you making?” Tarron asked, looking into the bowl of half-mixed ingredients.
 
“Something special,” Mira said, hurrying to take over the bowl once more. “You’ll find out later.”
 
She went back to her preparations while Tanithil and Tarron turned themselves back into civilians. Quinn and Seith kept themselves out of the way, watching warily from the loft. Neither of them really knew their father or older brother, but they were waiting eagerly for their sister to return.
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Re: Quinn's Tale | 106 4A+

Post by Nara-pyon on Wed Feb 24, 2016 11:13 pm

Where: Wing Haven, Amon Darthir
When: Late Autumn, 106 4A
 
Quinn and Seith spent most of the remainder of the morning up in the loft while their mother, father, and older brother caught up down in the kitchen. Even once dinner was in the oven, the three of them couldn’t seem to stop talking with each other, over each other, and through each other. The boys had never seen anyone talk so much.
 
Then, just as Mira rose from the table to check on lunch, the front door opened for a third time.
 
“Tali!” Quinn squealed, recognizing their older sister. She was Tarron’s younger twin, and had joined the Wing Riders shortly after him. She was the one other family member that the younger twins actually remembered, however, and the excitement of seeing someone who Quinn actually recognized was immense.
 
Like her twin, Tali also took after her father, both in appearance and mannerisms. Her green eyes sparkled brightly as she pulled the door closed behind herself.
 
“Quinn! Seith!” she laughed at the boys who were scrambling for the ladder. Ignoring the others for the moment – she saw her brother and father occasionally while they were working, and her mother looked busy – she skipped to the bottom of the ladder and reached up to pluck her little brothers down: Quinn first, as he had been the first to start down the ladder, and then Seith. She hugged them tightly and nuzzled their cheeks with her nose. “How I’ve missed you two!”
 
Her hair had been cut to chin-length, and Quinn giggled as it brushed across his cheeks. “That tickles!”
 
Seith wrapped his arms around Tali’s neck. “You were gone long time,” he complained.
 
She kissed his cheek. “I know. It couldn’t be helped. But I’m here now and I’m going to spend as much time with you as I can!”
 
“Going tell us stories?” Quinn beamed.
 
“Sing us at sleep?” Seith asked, equally eager.
 
Tali laughed again. “Yes, yes, I’ll sing you to sleep tonight,” she promised.
 
Tanithil looked at his wife, his expression slightly hurt. “Why do they remember their sister and not their father?” he asked her.
 
“Perhaps,” Mira murmured, her own smile sad, “because you’ve only been here once since they were born. Tali was here as recently as last Spring.”
 
Tali joined the others and set the boys on the floor next to the table so that she could greet her mother with a hug.
 
“Now that Tali’s here,” Tarron spoke up, “you promised you would tell us about Aerin-sol.”
 
“Queen Aerin,” Tali corrected her brother. She took a seat at the table between the younger set of twins. “But if you’re going to tell stories, tell away. I’m dying of curiosity! I mean, I know Captain Striate was the one who brought her here because Skyel’s been gone from the rookery for ages and he wasn’t here to lead us but where did he bring her from? Why wasn’t she here? I mean, in a way I can totally see why she would have left, King Aerennel was a bit of a monster-”
 
“Tali!” her mother exclaimed in horror.
 
Tali shrugged. “He’s gone now, I don’t see what the big deal is. And he was. I mean, seriously, we never got to come home with him in charge, and if things are still as bad as they were when I joined the Wing Riders, I’m willing to bet that what you’re making for lunch, Mom, is just about all you have left in the house to make.”
 
She looked at Mira, whose blush showed her response even before she nodded.
 
Tali grinned and leaned forward. “Don’t worry,” she winked. “A little birdie told me that by the end of today, each and every household should have enough good food for a week!”
 
The others were all stunned. “There is so much on the island?” Tanithil asked in shock.
 
“All grown on the palace grounds,” Mira murmured. “King Aerennel was always well-fed.”
 
“Just wait,” Tali grinned. “Sometime this afternoon, there’s going to be a-”
 
She was interrupted by a knock at the door. Quinn and Seith exchanged a look and shuffled closer to their sister while Tanithil moved to answer the door. It was a soldier with a crate of fresh food for them: fruits, vegetables, flour, salt, and more. It was more food than the family had had at once at any point in their memories.
 
Seith stayed next to Tali, but Quinn ran to see what was in the box once the soldier was gone again. There were things in there that he had never seen before, and he didn’t know what most of it was. Mira was going through it all, brushing tears from her cheeks as she did so.
 
“Mama, you ’kay?” Quinn asked anxiously, looking up at her.
 
Tanithil put one arm around her shoulder and pulled her close. “She’s fine,” he smiled down at Quinn. “She’s just very happy.”
 
“So are you going to tell us what this is all about?” Tarron asked, leaning against one wall.
 
“Set the table,” Mira sniffled, wiping her cheeks once more. “We can talk as we eat.”
 
With six of them there, setting the table didn’t take long – though it was made more difficult by people bumping into each other in the small space they had to live in. Once they were eating, Mira began the tale.
 
“It was over four hundred years ago,” she murmured. “Gnomes were not the only threat we faced then. At that time, there were also dragons. Big ones, old ones. There was a younger sola, too – he shared a name with the king. It was when he was born that the former queen passed away, and even he did not live very long. He trained to be a soldier, and his very first day out, he fell prey to one of the oldest of the dragons. At that time, Queen Aerin – Aerin-sol, as she was then – was a skilled dragon hunter.”
 
“Aerin-sol, Dragon-Slayer, we called her,” Tanithil murmured with a nostalgic smile.
 
Mira smiled at her husband. “Yes.”
 
“So she’s a warring ruler, too,” Tarron said with a frown.
 
“No,” Tali disagreed. “If she were, then today would not have gone as it did. Were you present when she confronted her father?”
 
Her twin frowned uncomfortably. “No …”
 
She grinned at him. “Then you didn’t hear her say that everything has to change. The men need to live with their families. That there’s going to be one final push to take care of all the gnomes at once – total extermination instead of trapping and culling – and once that’s done everyone who wants will be released from service. No more conscription, no forced services … even working at the castle will be optional.”
 
A slow smile spread over Tarron’s face. “Wow …”
 
“Story!” Quinn protested, pouting.
 
Tanithil chuckled softly, and, smiling, Mira once more took up the tale.
 
“Well, one of the elder dragons attacked the castle,” she continued. “The youngest sola was the first killed. Queen Aerin rushed in to defend, and she did take down the dragon – but she was so badly wounded she nearly died. Then one day, she was gone.”
 
“Gone?” Tarron blinked. “Just like that?”
 
“Just like that.”
 
“No one had any idea what had happened or where she had tone,” Tanithil took up the story, “and even those of us stationed in the castle weren’t told anything. Rumours began to go around that she had been taken away to be treated, but eventually even that went quiet.”
 
“The longer she was gone, the worse conditions became,” Mira murmured. “That was when the king became a true monster-”
 
“I thought you didn’t want me to say that,” Tali protested, though she was smiling bemusedly.
 
Mira shrugged apologetically. “You were right. But Aethos-sola began to become just like the king, too. To be honest, after four hundred years, I think it’s safe to say that we had all given up hope … but after today …”
 
“Happiness and cheer!” Tali laughed. She picked up her glass of water and raised it in a toast. “To the new queen!”
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Re: Quinn's Tale | 106 4A+

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Mar 01, 2016 12:35 am

Where: Wing Haven, Amon Darthir
When: Late Autumn, 106 4A
 
Three days after Tanithil, Tarron and Tali returned home, the entire family was summoned to the castle. The three of them had been returning to the palace each day to do their jobs, though Mira had been staying home, but when they had shown up that morning, they had been told to return home and bring the whole family back with them two hours later.
 
Quinn was trembling when they approached the castle. He was being carried by his father – and a good thing, too: if he had been on his own two feet, he’d have been running as fast as he could in the opposite direction. He still didn’t like the place, even if his mother had worked there every day of his life, and even if there was a new ruler who was making sure they all had food to eat and time to spend with their families.
 
Mira was carrying Seith, and Seith wasn’t too keen on being in the castle, either. He had his face buried against his mother’s neck, and that didn’t help Quinn to feel any better.
 
When they reached the castle doors, there were two guards stationed on either side of them, and a single woman standing just outside where the two doors met. It was the black-haired woman whom they had seen with the queen when she had returned to the land. The boys stared. It was their first time really seeing someone who looked different from their people – and it wasn’t just her black hair, either: her skin was slightly darker, her eyes a dark brown, and she had no freckles; her clothes were different, and rather than carrying a sword, the only accessory she carried was a tall, glittering staff. But what was even stranger was the creature next to her: a pale blue winged feline, half as tall as the woman, with white snowflake shapes all over it. None of the family had seen anything like it before, as there were no cats on the island, and though the older members of the family were able to ignore it fairly well, the two young boys just hid themselves from it as best they could in their parents’ necklines.
 
“Welcome,” the woman greeted them with a warm smile.  “I am Lady Rhea Aldrich Striate, wife of Captain Aurin Striate, and one of Her Majesty’s advisors. I’m here to bring all of you to her.”
 
The feline looked up at the woman and flicked its tail at her, and she laughed softly. “Of course, how thoughtless of me. This is Whisper. She is what is known as a Fluffy Cat, and she is my friend and protector. But you have nothing to fear from her, I assure you.”
 
Smiling warmly once more, she turned slightly and beckoned for the family to follow her. “Come.”
 
The doors of the castle opened, and the woman led them inside, the blue cat trotting alongside her. Perhaps in response to their curious looks, or perhaps just sensing their curiosity, she gave them some information about herself as she led them forward.
 
“Queen Aerin, when she was brought from here to be healed, ended up in the land where I grew up,” she explained, “so I’ve known her most of my life. I came here … rather accidentally a few years ago on a trip, which was when we learned about Her Majesty’s connection to this place. Captain Striate returned with us to bring her back, and she married us. And now we are honoured to help her to rebuild not only this city, but the lives of her people.”
 
She looked at them and her smile widened. “Your lives.”
 
Quinn didn’t understand, but he listened intently anyways, trying his best.
 
“We are already indebted to her, more than we could ever hope to repay,” Tanithil smiled back at the woman. “When we returned home the other day, my sons didn’t know me. To be with my family again is an incredible thing.”
 
A look of sadness entered the woman’s eyes, and she shook her head slowly. “I still do not understand how it could ever have come to this,” she murmured.
 
So far, she had led them down a massive corridor, and now they were coming to the end of it. There was a set of huge doors directly in front of them, partially open, and the throne room was visible through them. The large, golden throne looked abandoned and out of place in the giant room, void of anything else. It was not to this room that Lady Rhea led them, however. To their right was a set of doors of regular size, and here was where she took them.
 
The doors opened as they approached, and the family stepped inside. It was a large room, easily two or three times the size of their house, but still far smaller than the throne room (even with the small glance they’d gotten into it). There was a long red carpet leading to a smaller version of the throne in the other room, and two long tables with chairs on the long side of it. This was where Queen Aerin was, recognizable by the crown she now wore – the same crown that King Aerennel had worn only a few days previous – and she was not alone. There were the two pale-haired men, one dressed now as a soldier, and the other seated next to the queen and wearing a smaller version of her crown; and Lady Alena, the one face that they all recognized as the woman who had been the advisor of the former king, and the one person who had occasionally come to the city to check on the people.
 
“Tanithil and Mira,” Lady Rhea announced as they entered. “And their children: Tarron and Tali of the Wing Riders, and Quinn and Seith.”
 
The couple set down their sons and bowed deeply, both of them going down on one knee. Tarron and Tali did the same, and Quinn and Seith looked around, lost and confused. Seith put one finger in his mouth, and Quinn stepped closer to his father’s side and took hold of his shirt sleeve.
 
“Rise,” said the queen, her voice soft but firm.
 
Quinn’s eyes were drawn to her. He couldn’t say why, but she seemed … nice. So different from what he had expected.
 
His father rose once more, tugging his sleeve from Quinn’s grasp, and Quinn immediately grabbed the next closest thing: his father’s belt. When he looked back at the queen again, she was smiling in a very welcoming manner.
 
“You already know who I am,” she began, “and I am certain that Lady Rhea” – she said the name as if it were new to her – “will have introduced herself by now, but allow me to introduce the rest of us.” She gestured towards the pale-haired man seated next to her, who was smiling in an almost silly manner. “My husband, your new king, King Caranthir.”
 
Fear jolted through Quinn, and he instinctively darted back to hide behind his father’s legs. Kings meant bad things, in his knowledge.
 
Tanithil smiled softly, but made no move to urge his son forward. Nevertheless, when the introductions continued, Quinn couldn’t help but peer out from between his father’s legs.
 
“I’m sure you already know Lady Alena,” the queen went on as if nothing had happened, though there was a sparkle in her eyes that hadn’t been there before. Lady Alena smiled warmly at the family and nodded at them as they bowed their heads to her. Then the queen motioned towards the pale-haired man with the icy blue eyes dressed in armour. “And this is Lady Alena’s husband, Sir Elros.”
 
Quinn felt a tremor of shock jolting through his father’s body, and he jumped in surprise and looked up at him.
 
Lady Alena laughed softly, which startled Quinn even more. He looked up at her fearfully, but she was smiling warmly. “Since before our people came to this land, it was so,” she explained quietly, her green eyes shining as she looked towards her husband. The man looked back at her, and his eyes, still a bright, piercing blue, warmed as he looked back towards her.
 
“And of course, you know Captain Striate,” the queen concluded, nodding at the captain.
 
Quinn looked at the man. He knew the name, at least: this man was his father’s commander, and (he was reasonably sure) his older siblings’, too. He looked like any other soldier Quinn had seen: Sky Elven, orange hair, green eyes, freckles … there was nothing very remarkable about him.
 
The introductions completed, Tanithil addressed the queen.
 
“Your Majesty, what service can we offer you?” he asked curiously – a polite and respectful way of asking what they were doing there.
 
She shook her head, a pitying smile playing about her lips. “No,” she murmured, “that is not why you are here. You are here so that we may find out what service I may offer you.”
 
The entire family was stunned into silence, and the queen motioned for them to sit in some of the chairs. Tanithil took the nearest chair and pulled Quinn into his lap, and Mira and Seith took the chair next to them. Beyond them, Tarron and Tali also took a seat.
 
“Under the rule of the former king,” the queen explained, “no one was free. No one was given an option of what they wanted to do with their lives. So I asked you here to find out a bit more about you, about what you did while the king ruled over you, and what you would like to do now.”
 
They questioned Tanithil first, and he gave some background about himself: five thousand, six hundred and fifty years old; at sixteen had been conscripted to join the Wing Riders, though he had soon afterwards been relocated to the ground forces; he enjoyed his work well enough and wished only to spend more time with his family.
 
As he spoke, Lady Alena took notes, leaving the queen to conduct the interview herself. Once he was done, it was his wife’s turn: she was one thousand, five hundred and forty years old; at thirteen she had been selected to work in the castle’s cotton field (indoors, as she and the other workers had used their Gift of firecasting to produce the light and energy necessary for the plants to grow); in her thirties, she had been promoted to working the harvested cotton and spinning it into thread. From time to time she had been allowed to work with the dyers, though she had never been allowed to stay with them; and while she didn’t hate her work, she wanted to do something that would allow her to remain home with her children.
 
As the eldest of the children, Tarron followed his mother’s testimony. Eighteen years old, he had begun training four years ago and joined the Wing Riders only a year and a half previous. He loved it and wanted to do nothing else with his life.
 
Tali of course was the same age, and though she and Tarron had begun their training at the same time, she had only joined the Wing Riders a few seasons previous, and though she loved her work and wished to continue with it, she did add that she was enjoying spending time with her family and wished she could do so more often.
 
When she was finished with the adults, the queen turned her attention to Quinn – the elder of the younger set of twins – after, of course, having asked the parents to identify which was the elder, and his name.
 
“And what about you?” she asked him with a warm smile. “What do you do during the day while your mother is away?”
 
Quinn shied away from the queen, focusing his attention instead on a button on his father’s shirt. He tapped it with one finger, glancing towards the queen every few seconds to see if she was still looking at him.
 
“Quinn,” Tanithil said softly, reaching up and taking his son’s hand in his own, “you must show respect to Her Majesty. She has asked you a question. Look at her and answer her.”
 
Quinn’s heart began to beat a little faster, his breath coming in shorter bursts, and he looked at the queen, up at his father, and then at the queen once more. His chin began to quiver. He didn’t want to speak with her! She seemed nice but how did he know that was what she was really like?
 
“Quinn and Seith stay with our neighbour while I’m away during the day,” Mira answered finally in her son’s stead.
 
The queen sat up straight once more and looked towards Mira, her eyes sad. She did not appear to be surprised by the answer, though, and she turned back to Quinn and smiled again at him.
 
“Do you like going to your neighbour’s house for the day?” she asked him brightly.
 
Quinn’s fingers wrapped around a fold in the fabric of his pants and he squeezed them tightly, fighting fear. He tried to answer, but as soon as he even thought about speaking, his throat closed up and his mouth went dry. Finally, he shrugged – only one shoulder, his other one didn’t seem to want to move.
 
The queen didn’t seem bothered by his response, though. She just smiled wider and asked in a voice that was at once both very soft and very kind, “If you could have anything you wanted, what would it be?”
 
Quinn blinked. If he could have anything he wanted … but he didn’t even know what it really meant to want something – at least not consciously – and even if he did, he had no idea how to voice it. No one had ever asked him what he wanted before, and there had never been any reason. Food had been very strictly rationed, which meant that there was never any option in what to eat. You ate what you had, or you went hungry. The same went for material and clothing, and most people on the island didn’t even have footwear.
 
Apparently the queen understood his hesitation, because she just smiled and rephrased the question. “What do you like?”
 
That was much easier for Quinn to answer, and he answered it with a wide, shy smile. “I like Mama and Papa and Tarron and Tali home,” he replied softly.
 
“Me, too,” Seith agreed from his place on Mira’s lap.
 
The queen’s eyes grew warm, and she looked from one twin to the other. “And I shall do what I can to make sure that happens,” she promised.
 
And Quinn could tell from the look in her eyes that this wasn’t the kind of promise that Rilla often made to the boys – when she promised to see what she could do about more provisions for meals but knowing at the same time that it was out of her hands; this was the kind of promise that she could do something about, make it come true.
 
The next thing he knew, he was smiling back at her.
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Re: Quinn's Tale | 106 4A+

Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Mar 06, 2016 11:52 pm

Where: Wing Haven, Amon Darthir
When: Yestarë, 110 4A
 
One week after the family had their interview at the castle, all the soldiers in the city were called back to active duty so that they could make one final push to finish off the gnomes. There was no word for another week – though there were regular deliveries of food from the castle – and then, at last, the soldiers returned home, triumphant. The city celebrated for days, and for Quinn and Seith, the joy was something they had never seen before. It was infectious, though, and both of them reveled in this new experience.
 
From that time forward, life was different. Tarron and Tali remained with the Wing Riders, but they now came home every evening. Tanithil was offered a post at the castle, which he was honoured to accept. Mira was offered the opportunity to remain in the castle employ if she wished, but she declined, instead choosing to stay at home with her family and be a real mother for the first time since her marriage. A wise decision, as it turned out: a little less than a year later, she gave birth to a third set of twins, a boy (Lashul) and a girl (Imril).
 
Now Quinn and Seith were seven years old, nearly eight, and Quinn was excited. Seith was just as quiet and shy as he had ever been, and for about a year now had been learning to play music from someone in the city, but Quinn had grown to hold his older siblings in a position of awe, and he wanted to be just like them. Every year since Queen Aerin had assumed the throne, on the first day of the year, anyone – boy or girl – who was entering their eighth year (or older) could go to the palace and apply to enter combat training. The first five years would be general training, and then they would spend the next three years in specialized training (for either Wing Riders or ground units) and at sixteen, if all had gone well, they would enter their branch of choice.
 
Quinn wanted to be a Wing Rider.
 
“Don’t you even think about leaving without eating,” his mother told him in a threatening tone as he ran past the breakfast table that morning.
 
“You have to wait for me anyways, Quinn,” his father added with an amused chuckle. “Just slow down. Have some patience.”
 
Quinn blushed lightly as he sidled back to the table and sat down. “But I want to go!” he grinned at his parents. “I don’t want it to start without me!”
 
Tanithil laughed. “Trust me, we’re still plenty early.”
 
“And you won’t have strength to last the morning if you don’t eat your breakfast,” Mira said firmly.
 
The mere size of the breakfast that they were eating was already a sign of how much things had changed. Already years ago the castle had stopped bringing weekly supplies, and they now had the funds to purchase their own necessities in the city’s new open-air market. In addition to the three soldiers’ salaries, Mira had begun her own sort of business as well: she had begun to make tapestries (first to decorate her children’s new bedrooms, once their house had been rebuilt two years previous) and through word of mouth had received many requests. Between commissions and taking care of the youngest twins, she was far busier now – but happier – than she had ever been.
 
“And don’t eat too fast,” she added as Quinn began to wolf down some food. “You’ll make yourself sick, and what kind of impression would that give?”
 
Quinn froze for a moment, then swallowed down his mouthful slowly. “I didn’t think of that,” he admitted, blushing lightly.
 
“Slow down and eat properly,” his father told him firmly. “We’re not leaving for another quarter hour, anyways. You don’t get bonus points for showing up earlier than the sergeant.”
 
Quinn wasn’t feeling very patient, but it was another fifteen minutes, just as his father had promised, before he and Tanithil made their way towards the castle. They were met at the castle door by a soldier and a handful of other children who were also hoping to join the army someday, and there Tanithil left Quinn.
 
“Hey! Quinn!” called a freckle-faced youth, elbowing his way past a few others to reach Quinn’s side. “I didn’t know you were coming here today!”
 
Quinn grinned at his friend, who was several months older than Quinn himself. “You must be pretty stupid then, Jonas,” he teased. “I’ve been waiting for this day for as long as I can remember!”
 
Jonas laughed and slapped Quinn on the back. “This is going to be even better than I thought it would be!” He eyed Quinn, a broad grin nearly splitting his face in two. “So what are you thinking? Wing Rider? Or castle guard like your father?”
 
“Wing Rider, like Tarron and Tali,” Quinn grinned back. “And I don’t have to ask you, I know you want to be a Wing Rider.  You haven’t shut up about it for the past month.”
 
He took a moment to look around at the other hopefuls. There weren’t many of them, less than ten including Quinn and Jonas, but that came as no surprise. In another four or five years, there would be plenty more recruits – three and a half years ago, after Queen Aerin had returned and taken over the kingdom, the population had exploded exponentially.
 
Their conversation was brought to an abrupt halt when the soldier who was with them hit the butt of his spear on the ground to get their attention and said crisply, “Attention! Fall in!”
 
Some of the children looked at each other, bewildered, but Quinn, Jonas, and a few others who still had family in the military snapped into a line, standing straight. The soldier looked at them with satisfaction before turning his attention to those who did not know what to do.
 
“When the order comes to fall in,” he told them sharply, “you line up and stand straight, your attention fixed on me! Understood?”
 
“Y-yes, sir,” a boy stuttered, scrambling to take a place in the line.
 
“Pardon?!”
 
The boy looked at the soldier fearfully. He clearly had no idea what was expected of him.
 
The soldier looked around at the others. “Who can demonstrate a proper response?” he barked at them.
 
Quinn was about to raise his hand when Jonas said loudly and enthusiastically, “Sir! Yes, sir!”
 
The soldier smiled his approval. “Well done.”
 
“Show-off,” Quinn muttered out of the corner of his mouth. When he glanced over at his friend, he wasn’t surprised to see that Jonas was grinning rather smugly.
 
“All right, boys,” the soldier said as if Quinn hadn’t spoken and despite the fact that there was a girl in the group. “The moment we cross the threshold into the castle, you belong to me for the next year of your life. You eat when I say, you sleep when I say, you do what I say, when I say, without deviation. If you don’t think you will be able to do that, then this is the time to leave. Once you go in, there is no going back.”
 
He looked each recruit in the eye, one after the other, clearly challenging each and every one of them to do just that: leave. But no one did. No one even tried.
 
“Good.” The word came out as little more than a grunt. “Then follow me, boys. And listen up, because I will not repeating anything.”
 
Turning his back to them, he motioned for them to follow him through the castle’s massive doors and inside.
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Re: Quinn's Tale | 106 4A+

Post by Nara-pyon on Fri Mar 18, 2016 2:32 pm

Where: Wing Haven, Amon Darthir
When: Yestarë, 110 4A
 
The soldier introduced himself as the group headed into the castle – Sergeant Ryul – but didn’t slow down. They began with a short tour of the main floor of the castle, with very strict instructions on where they could and could not go, who they could or could not speak with, and how to behave in the presence of the various ranks of people who inhabited the castle. Once the brief tour was complete, he led them to the barracks, where they received a second, similar tour.
 
“This is where you’ll stay four days each week for the duration of your training,” the sergeant explained as they moved down a hallway with large rooms on each side. “Here two days, home one, here two days, and home one.”
 
“Do all the trainees sleep together?” asked Kaya, the only girl in the group.
 
Several of the boys made sour faces at the mere suggestion of it, but the sergeant quickly put their minds at ease.
 
“There are separate quarters for males and females,” he said crisply, “and don’t you ever even dream of visiting the others’ quarters. Some have tried. Few have succeeded. None have ever tried a second time.”
 
The threat was clear, and none of the recruits even considered thinking about it. Of course, they were at the age where none of them would want to, either.
 
At the end of the tour, they were brought to a metal door at the end of a hallway and told to line up against the wall.
 
“One at a time, you will go inside to be registered,” he told them. “You’ll be dealing with Lieutenant Kendal, who will be keeping records of you during your time here in training as well as your entire career in the army: your merits, your strengths … your demerits. Punishments, which also go on your records, may include anything from kitchen duty to extra hours of work or training to corporal punishment, depending on the situation – and expectations are higher here than in most other lines of work on the island.”
 
He paused and looked at each one of them in turn, and for a brief moment his expression softened. “It is not an easy thing you have chosen to do,” he murmured, “and I only hope that each of you bring the same honour to the position as applying for the position brings to you.”
 
Quinn wasn’t sure about all of the others, but he knew that he was going to do everything he could to be the best that he could be. He couldn’t hide the grin that spread over his face.
 
“Once your registration is completed,” the sergeant added, “you’re free to go for today. It’s a day of celebration. But you will be expected to be here tomorrow morning before sunrise to begin your training. Exactly where you stand now.”
 
With that, he bid the children farewell for the day and left them alone to be registered.
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Re: Quinn's Tale | 106 4A+

Post by Nara-pyon on Sat Mar 19, 2016 12:44 am

Where: Wing Haven, Amon Darthir
When: First day of Spring, 115 4A
 
Quinn applied himself to his training. For a year, it was four days a week, and then five for the second year, and then alternately five and six for the three years after. All throughout that time, Quinn and Jonas kept up an attitude of a friendly rivalry, and through their constant competitions they grew in strength and skill over and above all the rest. Their only real contender was Kaya, who, as the only female in the year, felt she had something to prove.
 
The previous day had been Yestarë, the day of the New Year celebrations, and this year Quinn, Jonas, Kaya and the others in their year all had something special to celebrate. They had now finished the first five years of their training, which meant that their general training was over, and that today, the first day of Spring, they would be split into their specialized training, either in ground tactics for Ground Army training, or in air training for Wing Riders. There was some sadness, as the group had become quite close-knit in the past five years, but for the most part they were all filled with excitement. This was their second big step to becoming what they dreamed of being, the first major step since beginning their training in the first place.
 
Now the nine of them were standing in line, at ease, at the front of the training arena, waiting for Lieutenant Alinar, who would tell them each the result of their past five years’ training. There were somewhere between three and four dozen other recruits in the dojo, those who had joined in the five years since Quinn’s group, including those who had just registered the day before. They were watching, just as Quinn and his friends had on their first day, to see the fate of the sixth-years.
 
Despite there being so many people outside, it was still sufficiently quiet that when five men – Lieutenants Kendal and Alinar, Sergeant Ryul, and two others the group had not yet met – came outside, their footfalls were audible. The moment they appeared, everyone in the yard fell into formation – even the newcomers, who were quick to take their cue from those who had been there for longer. Quinn and his fellows stood at attention, right hands raised to their brows in salutes. The five men approached the lineup and halted. They returned the salute, and as one, nine hands went down.
 
“Today,” said Lieutenant Alinar, using the same speech he gave every year, “you nine who stand before us will be recognized for your hard work over the past five years. Some of you will move on as you are, others with a rank of your own.”
 
He looked around at them all. “When I call your name, you will step forward to be recognized.”
 
Sergeant Ryul held up a tray of scrolls, and the Lieutenant took one of them and opened it.
 
“Trainee Pharis!” he barked out.
 
The young man in question stepped forward, still at attention. “Sir!”
 
Lieutenant Alinar read the scroll aloud. “Trainee Pharis, you have completed your requisite five years’ general training and have submitted a request to join the Ground Forces Training. Based on your performance during general training, your request has been approved. Today you will join Sergeant Ivran in training with the rank of Recruit.”
 
He handed the scroll to the new face on his left. Looking only at Pharis, Sergeant Ivran called out: “Recruit Pharis! Fall in!”
 
Quinn watched as his former companion moved to stand at attention next to his new Sergeant.
 
The lieutenant took a second scroll and read it aloud. “Trainee Belanor, you have completed your requisite five years’ general training and have submitted a request to join in Wing Riders Training. Based on your performance during general training, your request has been approved. Today you will join Sergeant Zaos in training with the rank of Recruit.”
 
This time he gave the scroll to the new face on his right, and it was this man who called for Belanor to fall in next to him.
 
The third scroll was for Duran, who joined the Ground Forces as a Recruit. Then Hoccar joined the Wing Riders as a Recruit; Laos joined the Ground Forces as a Recruit.
 
Next was Kaya.
 
“Trainee Kaya, you have completed your requisite five years’ general training and have submitted a request to join in Wing Riders Training. Based on your performance during general training, your request has been approved. Today you will join Sergeant Zaos in training with the rank of Private.”
 
A murmur of shock rippled through the bystanders. It was incredibly rare that anyone actually got a proper rank while they were still in training – and most knew from their fathers and siblings that no female had ever before received a rank in training.
 
When Kaya was called to join the others with Sergeant Zaos, her entire face was positively glowing with pride and excitement, though her expression never wavered.
 
Now there was excitement. Were they going in order of worst news to best? Would all the three remaining trainees be given ranks?
 
“Trainee Voron,” came the next announcement. “You have completed your requisite five years’ general training and have submitted a request to join in Wing Riders Training. Based on your performance during general training, your request has been denied.”
 
The shock was as audible as the excitement of the moment before had been. Voron looked as though he had been slapped. Lieutenant Alinar went on as if he hadn’t noticed. “Your score, though it does not meet the requirements for Wing Rider Training, does meet the requirements for Ground Forces Training. Therefore you are presented with a choice. You may resubmit a request to join Ground Force Training verbally this time or declare that you no longer wish to continue with training at all.”
 
He looked at Voron evenly. “What is your decision?”
 
Those who knew Voron well could see that he was blinking back tears, though only the quaver of his voice betrayed his emotion to those who did not know him well.
 
“Sir, my only desire is to serve my country and my queen in any way that I may,” he replied. “Sir, I hereby submit a request to join Ground Force Training.”
 
The lieutenant nodded shortly. “Trainee Voron, based on your performance during training, your request is approved. Today you will join Sergeant Ivran in training with the continued rank of Trainee.”
 
This was something that was also unheard of, that one would keep their beginner’s rank when they continued forward. It said something about his skill – or lack of it. Of course, the others in his year had noted that he seemed to have more difficulty with the training, but his heart had been set on it as only a few others had shown. Still, though his face was red with shame and his eyes filled with disappointment, he moved to stand next to Laos with the others who would be going on to join the Ground Forces Training with his shoulders back and his chin lifted as if it hadn’t fazed him.
 
Quinn wanted to look at Jonas and see what he was thinking, but he didn’t dare. He had been well trained as well, and his body was able to obey his training, no matter his thoughts or emotions. His heart was racing, though: had they already passed over the good news and were now on to the bad?
 
“Trainee Jonas.”
 
Jonas stepped forward smartly. “Sir!”
 
Lieutenant Alinar gave him a serious look before turning back to the scroll that had newly appeared in his hands. “You have completed your requisite five years’ general training and have submitted a request to join in Wing Riders Training. Based on your performance during general training, your request has been approved.” He paused. “Today you will join Sergeant Zaos in training with the rank of Private.”
 
Relief, followed by joy, flashed across Jonas’ face before he masked his emotions once more. Still, his face was glowing as he moved to join Kaya and the other Wing Rider recruits.
 
Quinn’s heart raced even faster. He was the last one left. His eyes focused on Lieutenant Alinar and he steeled himself for what was to come.
 
“Trainee Quinn. You have completed your requisite five years’ general training and have submitted a request to join in Wing Riders Training. Based on your performance during general training, your request has been approved. Today you will also join Sergeant Zaos in training with the rank of Private.”
 
Quinn felt as though his heart would burst from his chest, but he managed to keep himself composed as he moved to join Jonas and the others who had made it to Wing Rider Training. Then Lieutenant Alinar, Lieutenant Kendal and Sergeant Ryul stepped forward until they were where the new graduates had first been lined up and turned once more to look at the two lines which had now formed.
 
“Congratulations, all of you,” said Lieutenant Alinar. “I look forward to seeing you all again in three years, when you have completed your training in its entirety. Continue to work as you have been, and Her Majesty will be honoured to one day have you at her command.”
 
He raised one hand in a salute, and then the two others with him followed suit. As one, Quinn and the others returned the gesture. The trainees, who had been watching the entire thing, also saluted, and then began to applaud.
 
When things had quieted down once more, Sergeant Zaos turned to his group and addressed them. “You have one hour to return to your barracks, pack all of your things, and return here. In one hour precisely I shall return to bring you to your new barracks. Dismissed.”
 
At last, Quinn was free to show how he truly felt, and a wide smile broke through his otherwise serious expression. He grinned at Jonas, then past him at Kaya. He was glad the three of them were together. While he and Jonas had enjoyed their rivalry, they had always remained impressed by Kaya – both her attitude and her abilities. She was someone they would have missed.
 
“See you in an hour,” Kaya grinned at both of them. She winked. “Privates.
 
She ran off in one direction, and Quinn and Jonas started in the other direction, laughing.
 
“That sounds really good,” Jonas murmured dreamily. “Private Jonas.”
 
“And Private Quinn,” Quinn added, trying it out. He grimaced slightly. “Maybe it’ll sound better with time.”
 
“Just you wait,” Jonas grinned. “They say you’re almost guaranteed to rank up in the process of specialized training. Won’t be long before it’s Corporal Jonas and Corporal Quinn. Now hasn’t that just got a nice ring to it?”
 
Quinn chuckled. “Sure does.” He gave his friend an amiable slap on the back. “Come on, time’s a-wasting.”
 
Both boys broke into a jog and headed back towards their barracks to pack.
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Re: Quinn's Tale | 106 4A+

Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Mar 20, 2016 1:40 am

Where: Wing Haven, Amon Darthir
When: First day of Fading, 115 4A
 
Usually the Enderi were the days that Quinn – and every regular person – looked forward to the most in the year, as the Enderi were three days (or six in a leap year) in which the entire population of the island celebrated with music and dancing and fun and games and skits and … well, it went on. But Quinn, Jonas and Kaya were looking forward to the end of the Enderi this time, and though they had spent the three celebratory days together, they had not hesitated to bid each other good night when Queen Aerin had closed the festivities at dusk. They had been in Wing Rider training for half a year now, and that half year had been intense: in addition to continuing their physical training, they now also had classes in tactical training (for the mind) and various classes regarding rocs. They had first learned about the creatures in general – anatomy, biology, behaviour, and so on – and then, only a week in, they had been assigned general chores on a rotating basis: cleaning the rookery and the roosts, helping to care for wounded or ill rocs, grooming them, and so on. They had also looked at the theory of flight: the physics of flight itself, and the how-to of equipment, riding and training.
 
Today, however, was going to be different.
 
“Step three to becoming a Wing Rider,” Jonas reminded him as they dressed that morning. His grin was as wide as his face. “Today we actually get to mount one.”
 
“Ten styl says Kaya gets sick,” Quinn grinned back at him. “She has to: she’s too perfect in everything else.”
 
“There are some who say the same about us,” his friend laughed.
 
Quinn pulled on his gloves. “Not without reason, of course,” he quipped. His eyes sparkled with excitement. “Set?”
 
“Set.”
 
They headed together to the rookery, where they expected to meet Sergeant Sharif, the keeper of the rocs. They were nearly there when they were joined by Kaya, who looked as excited as both the boys felt. The three of them laughed and joked together on their way up.
 
“I’m thinking at least three of us are going to end up sick today,” Kaya predicted as they made their way in single file up the final flight of stairs.
 
Jonas snickered. “Quinn’s betting you’ll be one of them,” he teased her.
 
Kaya’s eyes widened with mock appall. “Quinn!”
 
“Now, now,” Quinn said defensively, “that was strictly on a need-to-know basis, and she doesn’t have the need to know!”
 
“And just how much are you betting, Quinn?” she demanded, though she was grinning.
 
“A week’s wages,” Jonas snickered.
 
Kaya snorted. “Tell you what, if you’re wrong, Quinn, you owe me another ten styl. Now you’ve got two weeks’ wages riding on this.”
 
“And if I’m right, you both owe me,” Quinn shrugged. He gave a cocky smirk. “I’ll be fine. I’ve got flying in my blood.”
 
His father had once been a Wing Rider, after all, and both his older siblings were. He had heard that his grandfather and great-grandfather had also been Wing Riders, but they had both been killed before he had ever been born. Regardless, he had every confidence in how the day would go for him.
 
Hoccar and Belanor were only a minute behind the three, but very soon all five of the newest members of the Wing Riders Training group were in the rookery, ready for whatever would befall them.
 
“Attention!”
 
Instinctively, all five stood at attention. Their backs were to the stairway, so they did not see who it was who called them to attention; but they recognized the voice as Sergeant Sharif, the one whom they would be working with for the day. Sure enough, it was he who came around them.
 
“Today,” he announced in a gruff tone, “you will go up for the first time. Don’t get too excited: we are going to fly, yes, but not high to begin with, and you can fully expect that most if not all of you will become airsick. It is very common, and nothing to be ashamed of. From now on, we will fly each day, and each day you will practice preparing the roc and getting it ready for roost when its job is finished for the day.”
 
He looked around at all of them. “Are there any questions?”
 
There was about three seconds of silence before all five of them replied sharply, “Sir! No, sir!”
 
Without further delay, the sergeant lifted a whistle that was on a string around his neck and gave it a sharp blast. It was very high pitched, so high that some of the group couldn’t even hear it. About a minute went past before anything happened. At first, they could hear wingbeats, quiet first, and then louder; then they could hear the wind whistling through feathers; and then a brown and gold blur appeared in front of them, coming up through the massive open floor and coming to roost on the enormous marble bar designed for just that purpose.
 
“This is Wind Rider,” the sergeant introduced the roc. The enormous creature turned its magnificent head to look at the five and made a clicking noise in its throat. Sharif chuckled softly and looked at the five. “He likes you. He is my partner – and make no mistake, they are our steeds, but they are our partners. It is a relationship of mutual respect, and if you show the slightest disrespect in any way, you may fully expect your life to be forfeit. The rocs are willing to put up with a lot, but don’t take advantage of their patience. There is a limit to it.”
 
He strode over to the bird, speaking to it softly all the while, and stroked its head gently. Then he beckoned his students to approach, which they did as quietly as they could. He brought them step by step through the process of checking and double-checking all of the harnesses to make sure that they were all in good shape, not worn, in proper working order, and correctly assembled. Safety was paramount: even now, falling was the number one cause of death amongst Wing Riders.
 
When the inspection of the equipment was complete, they inspected the roc itself to make sure that it was properly groomed and healthy. If they failed to care for their roc, it might become ill, die, or turn on them – all of which had equally disastrous results.
 
With all inspections completed, the five climbed onto the roc’s back and strapped themselves in. They were all excited, but none of them showed it: their training had been thorough, and it was not without cause that only the elite made it into the Wing Riders Training. Then Sharif checked each of their harnesses to make sure they had tied themselves in correctly, and once he had also harnessed himself in, they were off.
 
Wind Rider gave a little jump and hopped off the perch. Like a rock, they plummeted straight down – through the floor of the rookery and towards the ground. Belanor let out a small yelp of fright. Quinn felt as though his stomach had been left up in the rookery.
 
Then the roc spread its wings and as suddenly as their drop had begun, it stopped. They curved away from the ground in a gentle glide. Quinn had to swallow hard. His brain felt like it was bouncing in his skull, and his breakfast was revisiting him. He was determined not to be sick, though: his reputation was at stake.
 
He ventured a glance at Kaya and Jonas. Neither of them looked bothered in the least: on the contrary, they appeared to be enjoying themselves. Quinn was, too – he thought – but he didn’t like the feeling in his stomach.
 
“Heading higher,” the sergeant called to them over his shoulder; and sure enough, the roc began to beat its wings, each downstroke taking them higher into the sky.
 
Quinn closed his eyes. The downstrokes made his insides bounce, and though they had only been flying a few seconds, he was already looking forward to being back on solid ground. He could never admit it, though. Jonas and Kaya would never let him live it down.
 
With that thought in mind, he forced himself to open his eyes once more. Almost immediately, he wished he hadn’t. They were face-to-face with a cloud, and when he peered over the side of the roc, the ground was so far away that he could barely see people moving around the streets of the city. His stomach flopped again, and he pressed one hand to his mouth.
 
Sergeant Sharif laughed as the roc spread its wings to glide and their ride suddenly became smooth.
 
“Look at you all, you bunch of pasties!” he cried gleefully, looking at them over his shoulder.
 
With the bumping and bouncing over for the moment, Quinn lowered his hand and looked at the others. Hoccar and Belanor were gasping for air, much as he himself felt like doing, and Jonas and Kaya both looked a little pale.
 
He allowed himself a small smile. So they weren’t entirely unaffected, either.
 
“Hold on to your breakfast!” Sharif warned them suddenly; and in an instant, their world turned upside down as the roc did a mid-air 360-degree roll.
 
“Permission to speak, sir!” Kaya called out as they leveled out once more.
 
“Granted!”
 
Kaya swallowed hard. “Sir, I thought you said we were not going to go high today, sir!”
 
Sharif grinned at her. “Always expect the unexpected.”
 
Quinn wasn’t really paying attention anymore. He had found that things were better with his eyes open, but he had to keep swallowing, he found, to keep his breakfast down, and he now also had a new problem: his bladder was feeling pretty tight …
 
“Hold on!” the sergeant called again.
 
Someone whimpered – it might even have been Quinn himself – as the roc leaned forward into a dive.
 
Just let it be over soon, he found himself begging as the ground grew rapidly closer. Don’t throw up … don’t throw up …
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Re: Quinn's Tale | 106 4A+

Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Mar 20, 2016 11:44 pm

Where: Wing Haven, Amon Darthir
When: 2 Fading, 115 4A
 
As it turned out, each and every one of the five rookies who had gone on a roc for the first time in their lives were sick afterwards. Quinn was twenty styl richer – but he felt so awful that he didn’t care.
 
When the group had returned to the rookery, they had been met by a castle servant with a tray of drinks for them: malek, a common anti-nausea draught. Once he had drunk his down, Quinn felt immediately better in that he no longer wanted to throw up – which he didn’t, thankfully, though others had – but his head continued to swim, and he found that he was quite unable to walk straight. His sense of balance was off, so far off in fact that Sergeant Sharif had, rather than have him take care of Wind Rider and clean the rookery with the others, sent him back to his quarters to lie down.
 
Upon reaching his bed, he had kicked off his boots and passed out immediately.
 
He had no real recollection of what happened that night. He had a vague idea of rising to semi-consciousness at some point during the night, and then of someone shaking him when it was slightly light in the room – and then nothing until he woke, sweating and bleary-eyed, in a bed that was not his own.
 
He blinked a few times, trying to clear his vision. It was light in the room, he could tell that much, and he sensed more than saw a window on the other side of the room, but aside from that, he wasn’t really sure about anything. He was cold, though, and he rolled onto his side and rubbed his arms, shivering lightly.
 
“Oh, you’re awake,” came a soft female voice. There was the sound of a chair scraping against the floor. Quinn squeezed his eyes closed and began to count to ten, hoping that by then his vision would have cleared somewhat. Before he could reach even five, however, he was startled to feel an extra blanket being pulled over him. He opened his eyes again and looked up. It was a woman with black hair – that was all he could tell. That left only one possibility: Lady Rhea, the queen’s advisor.
 
“How do you feel?” she asked, pulling up a chair and sitting next to him.
 
Quinn blinked a few more times, and his vision cleared slightly, enough that he could see, albeit in a blur, some of her features. She was smiling at him, and suddenly, in addition to feeling tired, cold, sweaty, and ill, he also felt embarrassed.
 
When he didn’t answer, she reached beside his head, and he blinked yet again and turned his eyes to follow her movements. There was a small table at the bedside. He watched as she poured a pale yellow drink from a pitcher into a small glass.
 
“Drink this,” she murmured, turning back to him. She slipped one hand under his head and lifted it slightly and with her other hand she held the glass to his lips, tipping it slowly so that he could swallow down the liquid inside. Malek. He recognized the taste the instant it hit his tongue. He managed to down about half the glass before she took the glass away, setting it once more on the side table, and lowered his head to the pillow.
 
“Better?” she asked him, smiling.
 
He licked his lips slowly. “Better,” he agreed; and he was surprised to hear how raspy his voice was. He blinked slowly, and his vision finally went clear. Then he cleared his throat and licked his lips again. “Where am I?”
 
“Hospital wing,” she replied, her voice both soft and warm. “It seems your first flight was a bit much for you. I must admit, I’ve never seen anyone react quite this badly before.” She paused. “And how are you feeling now?”
 
Quinn closed his eyes and took a quick inventory. “Cold … but getting warmer … my head still hurts a bit, but not … hurts … more … spinning.” He opened his eyes again. “What day is it?”
 
“Anarya.” She bent forward and picked a cloth out of a bucket of water and wrung it out. “Your flight was yesterday. Sergeant Sharif was a little over-enthusiastic in his demonstration of flight – sometimes I wonder if he doesn’t do it on purpose. You were rather ill through the night, and when your bunkmate couldn’t wake you this morning, Sergeant Zaos sent for a physician, and here you are.”
 
She began to mop his face, wiping away the sweat. “And, in case you’re wondering, it is also well past noon.” Her eyes sparkled. “Let me know if you’re hungry. I understand you’ve had nothing since yesterday’s breakfast.”
 
“Probably a good thing,” he quipped weakly.
 
Lady Rhea laughed. “Sense of humour intact – check!” Her eyes grew warmer. “Well, Private, you have a few options before you. If you wish, you can remain here to recover on your own, hopefully within another day or so. Otherwise, I could fetch Alassëa-sol to heal you, and you could be back with your friends in less than an hour.”
 
Quinn stared at her. He was eager to be back with the others, and though he had heard about Aethos-sola’s miraculous change since having met the woman who was now his wife, but …
 
“Are you certain it wouldn’t be any trouble for her?” he asked hesitantly. “Surely she has more important things …”
 
“Nonsense,” Lady Rhea cut him off. “Her greatest desire is to help those who need her.”
 
She lowered the cloth back into the bucket. “And I’ll make sure there’s a flask of malek for you to take with you every day you go flying. I think it would be wise, at least until you get used to it.” She nodded at the pitcher and glass on the bedside table. “Try to drink a bit more of that. I’ll send for Alassëa-sol and have some food brought for you as well.”
 
Quinn nodded and pushed himself up into a sitting position, then shuffled backwards so that his back was to the headboard but propped up with the pillow his head had been resting on. His head spun, and he paused a moment for it to clear before he reached for the glass once more.
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Re: Quinn's Tale | 106 4A+

Post by Nara-pyon on Mon Mar 21, 2016 1:36 am

Where: Wing Haven, Amon Darthir
When: 2 Fading, 115 4A
 
The meal arrived before Alassëa-sol, and Quinn felt stronger, though still dizzy, after eating. He had just given his plate back to Lady Rhea when he heard a tap-tap-tap coming from the corridor.
 
“Here,” came a male voice.
 
It was followed almost immediately by a woman’s voice, which said, in an annoyed tone, “Yes, I know.”
 
Quinn looked at Lady Rhea to see what was going on, but she was just smiling and shaking her head. It only confused him further. He looked back to the doorway. He recognized the sol and sola from their wedding, which he had not been able to attend, but had been able to attend the festivities afterwards, where he’d had the opportunity to observe them both. Alassëa-sol hadn’t had a stick then, though she was using it now …
 
He had heard rumours that she was blind, but he hadn’t believed it until this very moment.
 
“Private Quinn?” Aethos-sola asked as he led his wife into the room.
 
Quinn started to nod, but it made his head throb again so he cleared his throat and said in the strongest voice he could muster, “Yes, sir?”
 
He was surprised when the sola smiled at him. “Calm down, at ease,” Aethos-sola murmured softly. “You’ll only make yourself more ill.”
 
Quinn felt his face growing warm, and he lowered his eyes self-consciously.
 
“Chair?” Alassëa-sol asked her husband, turning her head slightly towards him. He led her to the chair which Lady Rhea had been using and helped her to sit, and then she turned toward the bed.
 
“Are you sitting close, Private?” she asked, holding her hands out, palms upwards.
 
Quinn wasn’t sure how to answer. Did he say where he was? Take her hands to show her?
 
“Private,” Aethos-sola spoke up, coming to his rescue, “sit directly in front of her and let her take your hands.”
 
“Yes, sir.” Quinn did as he was instructed, shuffling closer to the sol. He set his hands in hers and she grasped them firmly. He was surprised by how strong she was, considering that she wouldn’t really have real work to do around the castle – not that he knew anything of her life before she had come here.
 
“Put one hand to your forehead, the other to your cheek,” she instructed him.
 
He did as he was bidden, not quite sure what to expect. It came as a pleasant surprise when almost immediately he began to feel better. His head stopped swimming, the room stopped spinning, and finally, for the first time since the drop the day before, his stomach didn’t feel like it was going to erupt on him.
 
He sat in silence for a few minutes, and just when he had decided that he had never felt better in his entire life, the sol lowered her hands.
 
“How do you feel?” she asked with a warm smile.
 
“Incredible, your highness,” Quinn beamed. “Thank you so much!”
 
The sol’s own smile widened. “Good. Then I believe it is time for you to return to your group. But should you ever need such assistance again, do not hesitate to send someone for me. Helping with healing is all that I can do to help, and it is my greatest wish to do so as much as possible.”
 
Quinn rose to his feet and bowed deeply. “Thank you again, your highness,” he murmured. “I shall not fail to do so.”
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Re: Quinn's Tale | 106 4A+

Post by Nara-pyon on Mon Mar 21, 2016 7:51 pm

Where: Wing Haven, Amon Darthir
When: 3 Fading, 115 4A
 
The rest of the group had been out for another flight when Quinn had returned to his quarters, so he had spent the remainder of the day in the training yard with Sergeant Zaos. At dinner, Kaya and Jonas had been very willing to pay up the styl they owed him; they had felt that bad for him.
 
“To be fair,” Kaya had pointed out as she counted out her coins, “I think the serge was trying to make us sick on purpose.”
 
“He didn’t do it today, though,” Jonas had added with a grin. “So I’m sure you’ll be fine tomorrow again.”
 
Now tomorrow had come, and once more, Quinn and the others were dressed and in the rookery, waiting for Sergeant Sharif to take them on another flight. As promised, there had been a flask of malek waiting for him at breakfast, and he had drunk about half of it and now had the other half of it safely secured at his waist – just in case.
 
“You’re sure you’re up for this?” Jonas asked Quinn worriedly.
 
Quinn nodded, determined. He wasn’t going to let a single poor experience scare him away – especially when he knew that everyone else had been sick afterwards too, and that they had all gone right back on the next day.
 
“Private Quinn!” Sergeant Sharif beamed when he saw Quinn in line with the others. “Glad to see you back!”
 
“Glad to be back, sir!” Quinn replied, grinning.
 
“That’s what I like to hear.” The sergeant stepped to one side. “All right, you lot – you’ve had a few days to practice. Let’s see how you do with the pre-flight inspections.”
 
The five of them spread out to inspect the bird and the harnesses, and the sergeant watched them in silence for the most part, occasionally uttering a comment of approval or correction. When they had finished, they lined up once more, waiting for his judgment.
 
“Good,” the sergeant grunted once they were back in line. “Well done.” Of course, he had been inspecting everything at the same time to make sure that they weren’t missing anything, so he knew that everything was fine. He gestured for them to climb on and tie themselves in, which they did. After inspecting their work once more, he himself mounted the bird and tied his own harness.
 
“Here we go,” he said; and once more there came the little jump and drop. This time, though, Quinn knew what to expect, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as the first time. His stomach flopped, but not unbearably; and when the roc spread its wings and steadied its flight, he found the experience actually enjoyable. And when Sergeant Sharif didn’t do any of the sudden climbs, drops or banks, he wondered if he hadn’t been spoken to by Aethos-sola or someone else.
 
If so, he was glad.
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Re: Quinn's Tale | 106 4A+

Post by Nara-pyon on Mon Mar 21, 2016 11:21 pm

Where: Wing Haven, Amon Darthir
When: 6 Fading, 115 4A
 
It wasn’t the Valenya that the group was supposed to have off, but when they showed up in the rookery that morning, Sergeant Sharif was not there – only a Wing Rider corporal, who told them that they were to take the day and recuperate from the week of flying.
 
Quinn groaned and protested with the others, but secretly, he was glad. While the malek helped with his stomach troubles, and he hadn’t been sick again since their first flight, he had kept to himself the fact that every afternoon, when they dismounted from the rock, he was still getting dizzy – sometimes perilously so. A good night’s sleep didn’t always help, either: that morning, he had woken already dizzy. The malek at breakfast didn’t help, and even Hoccar, who didn’t usually try talking with Quinn, couldn’t help but comment on how different he seemed today.
 
Rather than heading to the city to visit his family, as he normally would on his day off, Quinn went back to bed – but even lying in bed didn’t help. He felt as though the whole room was pitching, rising and falling, all around him. It made no different whether he was on his stomach, side or back, either. Nothing he did helped.
 
Maybe some fresh air, he reasoned; and he decided that he would visit his family after all.
 
He heard music playing as he approached his family home. That would be Seith, he knew. His twin wanted nothing to do with the service: he had already many years ago begun taking lessons in various instruments. It came as no surprise to anyone who knew him. He would have made a terrible soldier.
 
“Mama! Mama! Quinn’s home!”
 
His younger sister’s voice was loud, and Quinn was certain that everyone in the area, not just his mother, knew that he was home for a visit. Imril and Lashul were nearly eight now. Imril liked to run around with boys, but unlike Tali, she showed no interest in joining the service. Lashul liked shiny things, and he was trying to persuade his parents to talk to Rolitar, the jeweler, about an apprenticeship for him.
 
Mira appeared in the front door even before Quinn had made it to the yard. She was smiling widely at him, and had a dish in one hand and a towel in the other.
 
“Welcome home, Quinn,” she called out to him. “I wish we’d known you were coming – we’d have waited for you for brunch!”
 
Quinn smiled and hugged his mother when he was close enough. “Don’t worry, Mom. I’m not hungry.”
 
The hug he got back was brief. “Well, come in,” his mother invited him warmly. “I’m afraid most of the family is out, it’s just Imril and me.”
 
“That’s fine.” Quinn followed his mother back inside, and Imril slipped in the door just before he closed it behind himself.
 
His mother was eying him thoughtfully. “You seem rather quiet,” she murmured. “Everything all right?”
 
Quinn just nodded, though he had to hold on to a chair to keep his balance. Note to self, he thought. Speak, don’t move your head. Even the simple nod had made the room start to spin around him.
 
Mira wasn’t convinced, but she didn’t push it. “You were going to actually try flying this week,” she said in a cheerful tone. “Tell me about it. How did it go?” She went back to the sink and kept drying the stack of clean dishes.
 
Quinn pulled out the chair he was leaning on and sat down. “It’s fun,” he replied, venturing a wan smile. “I think the serge enjoyed making each and every one of us sick on the first day, though.”
 
“Some things never change,” Mira laughed. “Tali was fine, but Tarron was sick for a week after his first flight.”
 
“He was?” Quinn was surprised. “I never knew that.”
 
“Well, it’s not something he’s proud of,” she pointed out with a smile. “It’s interesting, though, that you seem to have perked up just hearing it.”
 
Quinn blushed. “Well … I’ve been sick since then, too,” he admitted reluctantly. “Not in my stomach, though … Lady Rhea made sure that I get a flask of malek every morning. Just … my head. Like everything around me is moving when I stand still.”
 
His mother winced in sympathy. “Ah. That kind of sickness.” She fell silent and went back to drying the dishes.
 
Quinn frowned and turned to watch her. That had been a rather mysterious comment, he thought. As if she already knew something about it, but didn’t want to say anything. He wasn’t sure he wanted to know what she knew. He had a rather ominous feeling about it.
 
“Hey Quinn, will you play a game with me?” Imril asked him, already standing by the shelf that held the family’s game selection.
 
Glad for the distraction, he smiled at his little sister. “Sure,” he replied. “You pick.”
 
She was more than happy to oblige.
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Re: Quinn's Tale | 106 4A+

Post by Nara-pyon on Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:07 pm

Where: Wing Haven, Amon Darthir
When: 9 Fading, 115 4A
 
Quinn had hoped that the fresh air and a good night’s sleep would help his dizziness to go away, but Elenya morning when he woke it was just as bad as the day before. Still, he remained silent, suffering through it without pity or teasing from any of the others, and when it came time for their flight, he was ready with the rest of them.
 
The following morning his dizziness was even worse.
 
When he woke Isilya morning, he couldn’t even stand upright.
 
Sergeant Sharif was furious when he showed up in the rookery with the others.
 
“What do you think you’re doing?” he barked at Quinn, making the boy wince. “Do you realize that one wrong step up here and you’re falling nearly a hundred feet straight down? And the odds of you taking someone else with you are irresponsibly high! What is the matter with you, Private?!”
 
Quinn couldn’t bring himself to reply. The malek wasn’t doing anything for him today. He hadn’t even mounted the roc and he felt like he was going to lose his breakfast. He felt like he was falling over, but when he tried to balance himself, the world turned sideways.
 
“Answer me, Private!”
 
Quinn swallowed hard. “I don’t know, sir!” He felt tears coming to his eyes and blinked them back. Not in front of the others, he pleaded silently.
 
Sergeant Sharif continued to glare at him, and Quinn shook more and more; and he felt he was about to pass out when the sergeant looked away from him and towards the others, giving him the chance to take a deep breath.
 
“Attention!” the sergeant snapped. “All of you – training yard. You will work with the fifth-years for the remainder of the morning.” He turned his attention back to Quinn. “All except you. You come with me.”
 
The others left immediately. The sergeant ordered Quinn to follow him before setting off at a determined pace. Quinn started after him, stumbling slightly, and after a quick glance over his shoulder, Sharif slowed his pace slightly.
 
It was a bit of a hike, but eventually the two of them ended up in the hospital wing, in the same room Quinn had inhabited the week before.
 
“Sit down, or lay if you prefer,” the sergeant told Quinn. “We are not leaving here until we find out what’s going on.”
 
He put one foot through the doorway and peered down the hall in both directions. He had sent a servant for a physician, and was hoping that one would show up soon. But even he was surprised when, only a few short minutes later, Alassëa-sol, Aethos-sola and Lady Rhea showed up.
 
“Private Quinn,” Lady Rhea sighed when she saw him. “I thought we had this solved last week. Have you been taking your malek every morning?”
 
“Yes, my lady,” Quinn replied quietly. “Every morning, and every evening.”
 
She was stunned. “And still you’re back here?”
 
Quinn lowered his eyes in shame.
 
“Oh, I’m sorry, Quinn,” murmured Lady Rhea apologetically. “I didn’t mean to put you on the spot. I’m just surprised, that’s all. I really thought we’d solved this.”
 
“If you don’t mind, Lady Rhea, I’d like to stay until we know what’s going on,” Sergeant Sharif put in, standing by the wall. “Private Quinn shows great promise but he’s no good if he can’t stand on his own two feet. He’s going to get himself and someone else killed at this rate.”
 
“That seems harsh,” Aethos-sola frowned.
 
“Forgive me, your highness,” the sergeant said shortly, “but up in the rookery, if he’s walking about like a drunk with no sense of balance, he’s more than liable to fall and kill himself or reach out to balance himself, grab someone else, and take them down with him. It is a risk we can’t take.”
 
Lady Rhea sighed softly. “That is true,” she murmured. She turned her attention back to Quinn. “We could just heal you up and send you back, which I’m sure you wouldn’t mind; but if we were to do that, you would probably just be back here again in another week. We have to find out exactly what your symptoms are and what’s causing them if we’re going to be able to really help you.”
 
Quinn nodded slowly, just once, and the room began to spin around him. He closed his eyes and held his head in his hands. “My stomach is fine with the malek,” he muttered, “but my head … it just feels like I’m constantly rolling down a huge hill … everything’s going in circles, just spinning … and even if it’s not spinning completely, it feels like the ground is heaving. Going up and down …”
 
Lady Rhea looked at him thoughtfully, and after a moment motioned for him to come closer. “Sit on the edge of the bed,” she directed him. “I want to check something.”
 
Quinn did as he was told, and was very careful not to move too quickly as he shuffled to the edge of the bed. Lady Rhea sat next to him and touched her fingertips lightly to his temples.
 
“You won’t feel this,” she murmured, “but I’m going to use magic to sense around a bit, feel what you feel. Hopefully it will help me to understand what’s happening to you.”
 
“All right.” He closed his eyes, and, despite Lady Rhea’s word of assurance, braced himself for some feeling of intrusion.
 
It never came.
 
For several long seconds, the world actually seemed still for a moment: but when Lady Rhea lowered her hands at last, the spinning began all over again. Her expression was filled with sorrow.
 
“My lady?” Sergeant Sharif asked with a frown.
 
She shook her head. “It is very unfortunate,” she sighed.
 
Quinn’s eyes widened with fear. “What is it?” he asked, his voice cracking.
 
“Airsickness,” the lady said softly. Her dark eyes, such a strange colour to Quinn, were so filled with sadness that he could almost believe that it was her with the malady, and not he. He didn’t understand the term, however, and he frowned in confusion.
 
Lady Rhea touched her fingertips lightly together and leaned forward slightly. “Airsickness,” she began, “is something that affects a few people … it is unknown yet how many exactly, but there are some who simply cannot ride rocs. Whether it is the motion or the altitude is unknown, but it causes not only stomach nausea, which is treatable with malek, but also general dizziness and sickness in the head, which the malek does nothing to help … and in point of fact, there is, at this present time, no known treatment for it.”
 
There was a moment of silence as Quinn and Sharif digested the news. Quinn’s head was still spinning, and his reasoning slowed: his first realization was that he was going to feel like this for an awful long time … and then he realized that there was no way that Sergeant Sharif would allow him to continue working in the rookery.
 
“Does that mean …” He hesitated, afraid to voice his thought aloud. No, he would change his thought. He tried again. “Does that mean that I’ll feel like this all the time?”
 
The silence returned, but only briefly this time, before Sergeant Sharif said firmly, “No, Private Quinn. It means that you cannot be allowed to fly.”
 
The pronouncement struck Quinn like a physical blow, and he felt as if the wind had been knocked out of him. He couldn’t draw breath.
 
“But –”
 
When his breath did finally come back, his eyes filled with tears. “All my life,” he whispered hoarsely, struggling to keep his tears from falling, “all I’ve ever wanted to do is become a Wing Rider …”
 
“It isn’t for everyone,” Lady Rhea tried to console him; but he pushed himself to his feet and despite the dizziness that threatened to overwhelm him, he forced himself to stand tall.
 
“Sir,” he said, facing his sergeant and just about passing out in the process, “I request to be taken up on extra flights. Maybe I’ll get over it if I just get used to it.”
 
“That’s not how it works, Private,” the sergeant replied with a shake of his head. He looked at Quinn, his face void of expression. “I’m going to go speak with Lieutenant Kendal and Sergeant Zaos. We will see what can be done. In the meantime, you remain here. If Alassëa-sol would be so kind as to help you …”
 
He looked to the sol, who murmured, “Of course,” without hesitation.
 
“… and then I would like you to remain here until Lieutenant Kendal, Sergeant Zaos or I come for you,” Sharif concluded.
 
“But Sergeant!”


“That is an order, Private. Now sit, and do not leave.”
 
Quinn sat as he was ordered, but now he couldn’t stop the tears. They squeezed out from the corners of his eyes and trickled down his cheek: and once they began, they wouldn’t stop. He buried his face in his hands and sobbed himself into unconsciousness.
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Re: Quinn's Tale | 106 4A+

Post by Nara-pyon on Thu Mar 24, 2016 11:37 pm

Where: Wing Haven, Amon Darthir
When: 10 Fading, 115 4A
 
Quinn slept through the remainder of the day and the following night, and when he woke the next morning there was a servant girl in the room, sitting by the door.
 
“Who are you?” Quinn asked, startled, pulling his blanket close to his chest.
 
The girl clasped her hands together demurely. “My name is Shaleena,” she replied softly. “I have been asked to watch over you while you rested and to send for Sergeants Zaos and Sharif and Lieutenant Kendal when you woke.”
 
She rose from stool on which she had been sitting. “Are you hungry?” she asked.
 
Quinn thought for a moment before nodding. He hadn’t eaten since breakfast of the previous day, after all, and his stomach and head were both feeling quite good.
 
Shaleena bowed her head. “Then I shall send for some food as well,” she murmured; and she stepped out the door of the room.
 
His superiors arrived before the food did, and when they did, Quinn was standing by the open window, watching with longing the rocs that were soaring over the city. He was so absorbed in his own thoughts that he couldn’t help but jump when someone behind him cleared their throat to get his attention.
 
“Private Quinn,” said Lieutenant Kendal, the ranking officer. “If we might have a word with you.”
 
Quinn turned to look at the three men. He had never seen them so grave-looking … it frightened him.
 
“Sir?”
 
The lieutenant motioned for him to take a seat, and only when Quinn was on the bed did he speak. “Lady Rhea has come to speak with us on your behalf,” he began, “and told us of your situation.” He used the word after a hesitation so brief that Quinn almost missed it, and before he could wonder at it the lieutenant continued. “After some discussion with your sergeants, we have come to a decision.”
 
Quinn caught his breath and waited for the hammer to fall.
 
He did not have long to wait.
 
“We cannot allow you to continue your training as a Wing Rider.”
 
Quinn tried to swallow down the lump that had suddenly materialized in his throat.
 
“We are therefore prepared,” Lieutenant Kendal went on, “to give you some options. The first is the one we hope you will choose. You show great potential, Private, and you have since your first day with us. If you wish, you may join the Ground Forces Training while retaining your rank of Private.”
 
He paused, and Quinn had the feeling he was waiting for a response of some kind. He wasn’t sure what to say, exactly, but he did know that what he was being offered was something that he didn’t want at all. All his life, he had wanted nothing but to become a Wing Rider like his older brother and sister, to soar above the city and protect it from – from whatever it needed protecting from! And if he did join the ground forces, he knew – just knew! – that he would be ridiculed, made fun of. So much for reaching private straight out of basic training! Clearly that had been a mistake!
 
He swallowed again. “And the other option, sir?” he asked, his voice barely above a squeak.
 
Disappointment flashed across the faces of all three of the men, and none of them managed to mask it entirely.
 
“The second option,” Lieutenant Kendal said, more softly now, “is for you to receive a medical discharge and one year’s wages. You would then return home with the rank of Private in name only but with no actual authority. Of course, if you were ever to change your mind and decide someday to join the ground forces after all, you would begin with the special training with your rank, but you would lose the half year you’ve put in already now.”
 
Quinn nodded. So he would go home and have to find something else to do with his life.
 
“We know it’s a big decision to make,” said Sergeant Zaos, the one who  knew Quinn best, as he had spent the past six months with him, “so if you need a few days to make up your mind-”
 
“No,” Quinn said quickly, interrupting the sergeant. “No, I don’t need a few days. I’ve already made my decision.”
 
All three of his superiors were surprised, but only Lieutenant Kendal looked hopeful. “And?” he prompted the youth.
 
Quinn swallowed, this time to gather courage rather than force down fear. “Sir, all I’ve ever wanted, all I’ve ever dreamed about, is becoming a Wing Rider,” he said as calmly as he could manage. “If I can’t do that, then I might as well not be here.”
 
He took a deep breath. “I’ll take the medical discharge, sir.”
 
Lieutenant Kendal looked surprised, but Sergeants Zaos and Sharif’s expressions showed only resignation.
 
“I understand, Private,” Sergeant Zaos murmured sadly, stepping forward. He put one hand on Quinn’s shoulder. “I am truly sorry about this. I had high hopes for you.”
 
Sergeant Sharif was less outwardly emotional. He simply folded his arms across his chest and grunted, “Going to miss you, Private. You have guts, I’ll give you that.”
 
Quinn just nodded. He didn’t know what he could say.
 
“The rest of your group are on a full-day flight,” Sergeant Sharif added quietly. “If you want to go get your things, there won’t be anyone else there.”
 
Quinn nodded again. It would be nice not to have to face anyone right now, especially those who had become so much like his own family in the past five and a half years. He didn’t know if he could do it without crying, not yet. As much as it was his decision to leave, it was still quite a blow to him.
 
“Thank you, s-sir,” he squeaked out finally, his voice cracking. He cleared his throat. “Shaleena … the servant girl … she’s bringing me some food, sir. Would it be all right, do you think, sir, if I were to eat before packing my things? I … I haven’t eaten since yesterday’s breakfast …”
 
“Of course,” Sharif nodded. “The others aren’t expected back until dinner.”
 
Quinn lowered his eyes. “Thank you,” he murmured.
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Re: Quinn's Tale | 106 4A+

Post by Nara-pyon on Fri Mar 25, 2016 5:24 pm

Where: Wing Haven, Amon Darthir
When: 10 Fading, 115 4A
 
Quinn’s feet dragged as he walked home from the castle, his bag of possessions slung over his back. It was a bit heavy, as it had a year’s worth of styl with him, too, but that didn’t matter. He wasn’t in any rush. His muscles had grown quite strong in his five and a half years of training as well, so it really wasn’t much of a burden to him.
 
He was aware of some people looking at him curiously as he passed, but he ignored them. When he reached his house, his mother and three younger siblings were just finishing up their lunch.
 
“Quinn!” Seith exclaimed, surprised to see his twin. “What are you doing here?”
 
“Did you come to play?” asked Lashul eagerly.
 
Imril was pleased to see him, too. “How long do you get to stay?” she asked with excitement.
 
Only Mira seemed aware of the gravity of Quinn’s unscheduled return. “Is everything all right, Quinn?” she asked him anxiously.
 
Quinn didn’t slow down as he passed by the table; only thrust his letter of discharge towards her so that he wouldn’t have to explain anything. Without a word, he headed to his room, entered, and closed the door behind him. Dropping his bag on the floor, he flopped onto his bed, pulled his pillow over his head, and closed his eyes to shut out the world.
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Re: Quinn's Tale | 106 4A+

Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Mar 27, 2016 1:26 am

Where: Wing Haven, Amon Darthir
When: 12 Fading, 115 4A
 
Quinn was dreading Valenya. His former fellow trainees would have the day off, and he was certain that at least Jonas would come to see him – and he didn’t want to see his friend. He didn’t feel he could bear it at the moment: Jonas was where he himself wanted to be, doing what he wanted to do …
 
“Going out for a bit, Mom,” he called over his shoulder as he opened the door. If he wasn’t home, then it wouldn’t matter who came to look for him: they wouldn’t find him. And if they couldn’t find him, he wouldn’t have to face them.
 
But even as he turned to walk outside, he came face to face not only with Jonas, but Kaya as well. Before he could react, he felt his face growing hot. “Oh … hi,” he mumbled.
 
His friends’ faces showed only concern. “Hello, Quinn,” Jonas said softly. “We just … came to see how you’re doing. Sergeant Sharif told us you’d received a medical discharge, and after the way you looked when we last saw you …”
 
“We wanted to make sure you were all right,” Kaya finished for him. Her brow furrowed slightly and she put one hand on his arm. Her touch was light, and Quinn pulled the door closed behind him as an excuse to get away from it. Kaya realized this, and she exchanged a glance with Jonas.
 
“What have you been doing since you’ve been home?” Jonas asked, taking a half step back to make more room for Quinn outside the door.
 
Quinn stepped forward and, figuring it would be safer to walk, kept going. Jonas and Kaya fell in on either side of him, letting him lead the way. He didn’t quite know what to say, so he just shrugged. “Haven’t been doing much of anything,” he shrugged. “Not much to do.”
 
They walked in silence for a few minutes. Quinn led the way, though he had no destination in mind.
 
Suddenly Jonas, wanting to break the silence, spoke up. “The serge has got us doing nearly full-day flights now-- ow!” he exclaimed, rubbing the back of his head. Kaya had given him a good smack and was now glaring at him.
 
“Way to rub his face in it,” she hissed at him through clenched teeth.
 
“Well someone had to say something,” he hissed back at her.
 
Quinn put his arms out and pushed the two friends away from him, separating them. “All right, you two,” he sighed, “that’s enough. Yeah, Jonas, that was a bit insensitive of you, but Kaya, I’m not going to get upset at him. I wish I could be there with you two, but … nothing’s going to change the fact that I’m out. It’s not your fault, and I’m going to have to get used to the fact that if I’m going to keep hanging out with you two, I’m going to hear about it.”
 
Kaya suddenly looked alarmed, and Jonas paled slightly.
 
“Hey, don’t worry,” Quinn smiled wanly. “I do still want to keep hanging out with you guys. You’re both my best friends.” He sighed. “Just don’t fight, all right?”
 
“As long as Jonas doesn’t keep saying stupid things,” Kaya nodded.
 
Jonas reached behind Quinn and smacked Kaya upside the head, just as hard as she had first hit him. Quinn rolled his eyes, but he couldn’t help but chuckle softly. Maybe things wouldn’t be so bad, after all. The weeks would still be hard, he was sure, but at least he would have something to look forward to.
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Re: Quinn's Tale | 106 4A+

Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Mar 27, 2016 2:50 am

Where: Wing Haven, Amon Darthir
When: Mettarë, 117 4A
 
The past two and a half years had been very difficult for Quinn. Since his discharge from Wing Riders’ training, he had tried various endeavours: a few weeks with the blacksmith had been enough to convince him that he had no interest in working with metal; his first day at the jeweler’s had revealed his ineptitude with delicate objects; he couldn’t tell good wood from bad wood, and was otherwise completely useless at the carpenter’s; at the glass-maker’s, he shattered more glass than he made; he killed more plants than he cared properly for in his mother’s garden; when he tried cleaning yards, he ended up pulling up flowers and leaving muddy footprints everywhere …
 
The list went on.
 
Today, the last day of the year, was a special reminder of what he was missing out on. Today was the day that Jonas, Kaya, and the others of their year would graduate their training and become true Wing Riders. Usually it was an event attended only by trainees of the lower years and members of the family, but Quinn had been extended a special invitation, which, though he had at first been inclined to disregard, he accepted.
 
There had been changed in the few years that Quinn had been gone. Jonas and Kaya had continued to visit Quinn regularly, so they were gradual enough that he was able to observe them in action. All three of them had grown and were very nearly adults, but the one change from which Quinn was excluded was a change in the relationship between Jonas and Kaya.
 
He wouldn’t be surprised if they married each other, someday.
 
He was waiting with the crowd who had gathered to watch on the north side of the castle. It was a cool day, as it always was between Stirring and Spring, but, surrounded by people, Quinn was unaffected by the weather.
 
All chatter stopped as the four graduates were led by various officers across the yard in formation until they were brought to a halt near the top of the cliff.
 
Lieutenant Alinar was the one to address the crowd, as always, and he began with what a tremendous occasion it was and how proud he was to be standing alongside these fine recruits, and on and on …
 
Quinn found himself only half listening. His stomach was churning. He was supposed to be one of them. He was supposed to be graduating today, too. Become a Wing Rider. Join the elite ranks …
 
A little too elite for him, apparently.
 
He sighed. It wasn’t the system’s fault. He just couldn’t handle flying, and that was the end of it.
 
His attention was caught once more when Lieutenant Alinar began to call on the individual graduates.
 
“Recruit Belanor,” he said crisply. Belanor stepped forward, and the lieutenant continued. “You have completed your training. We welcome you to the company of Wing Riders with the rank of Private.”
 
One of the other officers stepped forward and held out a uniform with a private-ranked feather insignia on the sleeves. Belanor stepped forward, accepted it, and stepped back into place.
 
“Recruit Hoccar.”
 
The ritual repeated.
 
“Private Kaya.”
 
Unsurprisingly, Kaya came away with a corporal’s uniform, two feathers crossed on the sleeves.
 
“Private Jonas.”
 
Quinn shifted his weight. He wasn’t expecting anything different, though he was still happy for his friend.
 
“You have completed your training,” Lieutenant Alinar went on. “We welcome you to the company of Wing Riders with the rank of Sergeant.”
 
The shock was audible, and as Jonas stepped forward to accept his new uniform, the triple-feather on the sleeve clearly visible from where Quinn was standing, murmurs rippled through the crowds. This was unprecedented. No one had skipped a rank completely before.
 
Quinn felt a surge of pride and longing welling up in him. He clapped louder than anyone else as Jonas returned to his place next to the others.
 
The officers saluted the new Wing Riders, who returned the salute before spreading themselves out along the cliff’s edge. Then, one at a time, they lifted the whistles that were around each of their necks and used them, each giving a different call. For a moment, nothing happened, but then wingbeats could be heard; and then four rocs appeared, flying straight up from below the cliff. They circled, each of them looking for their own partner, then glided down and settled next to them. The four new Wing Riders mounted their steeds, checked their harnesses, and with a triumphant cry, took off into the sky.
 
Quinn was surprised by how strong the jealousy was that flooded through him. He quashed it down, though, and simply averted his eyes. He knew what would happen to him if he were to join them in the sky … but that didn’t stop his longing to be up there anyways.
 
While others moved forward to watch the Wing Riders and wait for them to come down again so they could congratulate them, Quinn quietly turned and made his way home.
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Re: Quinn's Tale | 106 4A+

Post by Nara-pyon on Mon May 02, 2016 9:02 pm

Where: Wing Haven, Amon Darthir
When: Mid-Winter, 119 4A
 
In the almost two years since his best friends had become full members of the Wing Riders, Quinn had finally found something he was good at, and which he had been doing now for a little over a year: essentially, a stable boy. Of course, as there were no horses in Amon Darthir, he was a roc stable boy. He would care for the rookery, making sure it was always as clean as it could be, and, when Riders were away for a few days, would have the opportunity to care for a roc as well. At first it had been difficult, working so near and yet not with the animals he had always admired; but it did give him a bit more opportunity to see Jonas and Kaya on occasion, and he eventually settled into the job and began even to like it. It still didn’t give him a sense of fulfilment, but it was better than nothing, he supposed.
 
From his vantage point, high in the castle but with only a cage-like wall around him, he could see most of the island that the nation called home. While he was kept busy most of the time, when he had a few minutes to rest, he would watch as, down at the shore, construction went on: first docks, then some small boats, and finally an actual ship. It had been completed only a week ago, and then, almost immediately, a poster appeared in the city announcing that the queen was looking for some men to hire on as the first crew. They would of course first need to be trained, but the hope was that they would soon leave on their first voyage, its goal: trade with Caras Galadhon.
 
By the time Quinn had signed up, there had been at least one hundred other applicants for the voyage. Because there were so many, the process of choosing took a few days. Quinn didn’t know what all went into it, or what made a person more qualified than another, but he was thrilled when he was chosen to become a part of it. He still wished he could have become a Wing Rider, but this was a decent substitute.
 
The ship was a three-master, and learning the terms for everything was a gradual process that took days for nearly everyone. Before setting sail, however, everyone was able to “raise”, “reef”, “lower” and “trim” the appropriate sails when necessary. The officers’ quarters were “aft” while the crew’s quarters were “fore”, and “port” and “starboard” became the new “left” and “right”. It made some peoples’ heads swim, but Valar help him, Quinn loved it.
 
“You be careful,” his mother told him as she hugged him tightly. The ship was scheduled to set sail in less than half an hour, and Quinn’s family had come to see him off.
 
Quinn was a little embarrassed by the attention. “Come on, Mom,” he murmured, blushing and trying to squirm out of her embrace. “It’s only for a few weeks, if even that. We go, we trade, we come back.”
 
“Yes, but you’re going out on the water,” his mother fussed. “It’s so … volatile!”
 
“What’s volatile?” Imril piped up. Twelve now, she was growing up, but still had much to learn.
 
“Changes fast and doesn’t give much warning,” Quinn answered his little sister, though he was still looking at his mother. “Don’t worry, Mom, I have no intention of going swimming. And it’s Winter. The weather is usually gentle.”
 
“Bring me back something!” Lashul grinned.
 
The whistle blew, calling all the crew to the ship, and Quinn gave his little sister a quick hug and ruffled his little brother’s hair before pressing a quick kiss to his mother’s cheek and bidding them all a hasty “See you in a few weeks!” Then he was up the gangplank (not a ramp) and on the ship.
 
“Stow your things!” the ship’s mate (second in command) ordered him as he reached the deck. “We’ll be calling roll in ten minutes!”
 
“Aye, sir!”
 
Quinn headed to the forecastle where the crew’s quarters were located. It was dark below deck, but there were a few torches (carefully) lit and he could see the hammock that had been designated for him. His sea chest, which he knew would be the only privacy he would have on the voyage, was tucked into a recess in the pillar from which his hammock hung. There was a pillow and a blanket in the middle of his hammock, as in each of the others.
 
He wasn’t the only one stowing his belongings at the moment: he recognized a few of his crewmates, but there were some that he didn’t know, and, he was certain, there would be more. The ship was of such a size that only about twenty men were required to sail her (not it, but her), and most of them would be sharing this one room – No, cabin, Quinn reminded himself. The ship’s boy and officers were quartered in the aft, and they were the only ones not sharing this particular space.
 
Eager to get started, he stuffed his bag into his sea chest and headed up on deck.
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Re: Quinn's Tale | 106 4A+

Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jul 31, 2016 5:55 pm

Where: Caras Galadhon, Caras Galadhon, Arkandia
When: Mid-Winter, 119 4A
 
Sailing was like flying, in more ways than Quinn wanted to admit. There was a lot to remember, most of it safety issues. It was thrilling. The spray of the ocean was like the wind through his hair. He loved it.
 
But like flying, the pitching of the ship on the waves left not only his stomach but his head unsettled, and without access to malek, there was no relief. By the end of the first day, he was nauseous. By the end of the second, his head was spinning and he was having trouble keeping down food. The third, he was confined to his bed.
 
And it was three more days before they reached port.
 
By that time, he was frequently slipping in and out of consciousness, sleep being the only potential escape from the way he was feeling. He was vaguely aware when they were brought closer to shore, and then when he was being brought ashore on a stretcher, and then nothing.
 
When next he woke, he was lying in a bed – a real bed. He couldn’t tell if it was moving or not. His head was still spinning, and he knew from experience that even if he were on solid ground, he would still feel like it was wobbling until … well, until he was healed magically, to his knowledge.
 
He opened his eyes and looked around. A room – a real room. So he was on land. A sudden ache behind his eyes made him wince, and his stomach pinched, making him gag slightly. He rolled onto his side and put his face over the side of the bed in case he threw up.
 
Thankfully, he didn’t.
 
Suddenly the door opened and footsteps approached. Quinn still had his eyes closed and his face towards the floor, so he had no idea who it might be – then again, he didn’t even really know where he was.
 
“You’re awake,” came a soft female voice, gentle and tender. “That’s good.”
 
He had been still long enough to settle his head, at least partially, and he opened his eyes to see who had entered. From his angle, all he could see was a pair of slippered feet beneath the hem of a long skirt. He turned his eyes to try to see more, but pain jolted through his skull and he closed his eyes immediately again.
 
The woman sighed softly. “Or perhaps not.”
 
There was a soft toc as she set something down and then he felt her hands on his shoulders. Her grip was not strong, but still firm, and she gently turned him onto his back once more. “So you’re still dizzy, I can see,” she murmured. “How does your stomach feel?”
 
He opened his eyes a slit and looked up at her. Her hair was pale, like King Caranthir’s, but his vision was too blurred to see much past that. He licked his lips – how could they be so dry? – and was surprised at the rasp in his voice when he replied, “Queasy.”
 
“Mm.” She pulled a chair up beside the bed and leaned over, sliding one arm behind his neck and shoulders. “Tell me if it’s getting too much for you,” she murmured as she helped him to sit up slightly.
 
He wasn’t sure he would be able to tell her anything at this point. When she reached to the other side of herself and came up with a glass of milky liquid, he just let her lift it to his lips and pour it into his mouth. He had drunk almost half of it when he realized what it was.
 
He looked up at her, his eyes filled with surprise, and she lowered the glass so that he could speak.
 
Malek?” he rasped.
 
She smiled at him, and in his fuzzy state, he thought it was the most beautiful sight he had ever seen – even if things weren’t making sense at the moment.
 
“I can see you’ve had it before,” she said softly, putting it to his lips once more. “I suppose I oughtn’t to be surprised. It is an Amon Darthirian concoction, after all. I learned it from someone who came from your country.”
 
Quinn frowned, and once more she pulled the glass away. “Then –” He cleared his throat, and when he spoke again, his voice was clearer. “Then I’m not at home.”
 
“No.” The woman smiled at him. “I’m afraid not. And we’re not sure how you’re going to get back there. You’re in Caras Galadhon. Your ship, the Sea Roc, left port yesterday. They had a schedule to follow and couldn’t risk your health in going back with them.”
 
Tears pricked at Quinn’s eyes, tears of bitterness. Whether the woman didn’t see them or pretended not to, he didn’t know; but she simply turned away to replace the glass on its tray.
 
“Your things are here in the room,” she added. “I don’t know how long you’re going to be here, but while you’re here, I’ll be helping you out.”
 
Quinn frowned. The information she was giving him was so spotty … He took a deep breath, which help to hold back the tears. “Where … where exactly am I?” he asked. “And who are you?”
 
The woman smiled sheepishly. “Of course, I’m sorry. My name is Jasta. I’m afraid I’m just an apprentice physician, but as yours is a case of sea sickness, I was deemed the more qualified to help you.”
 
His confusion must have been obvious, because after only a few seconds, she added, “On the voyage over, my mother was as seasick as you, and it was I who looked after her. You should feel fortunate. Your voyage was a week long. Ours was half a year.”
 
Quin groaned in sympathy. “I can’t even imagine.” He looked up at her. “How long did it take for her to get over it?”
 
“It was a week before she could move her head without feeling like the ground was pitching beneath her feet,” Jasta replied apologetically. “It does go away on its own eventually, but it does take time. I’m sorry. That is the only cure.”
 
Quinn didn’t bother bringing up Alassëa-sol and how she had healed him twice. Clearly, magical healing wasn’t going to happen here.
 
Jasta lowered his head to his pillow and stood. “You rest,” she smiled at him. “If there’s anything you need, just ring the bell here, by the bed, and someone will come. If you’re not feeling well, send for me. Or if you just want someone to talk to. I can’t imagine what it must be like to wake up in a strange place with no one you know around you.”
 
“Thanks.”
 
He watched as she picked up the tray with the glass, moved the chair away from the bed, and headed towards the door. Before she left, she gave him one last smile.
 
He couldn’t say why, but somehow, it left him warm from the inside out.
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Re: Quinn's Tale | 106 4A+

Post by Nara-pyon on Mon Aug 01, 2016 12:59 am

Where: Caras Galadhon, Caras Galadhon, Arkandia
When: Mid-Winter, 119 4A
 
Over the course of the next week, Quinn’s dizziness grew less each day, and he was happy to continue to be treated by Jasta. On his eighth day there – at least, the eighth day that he was awake there – he was sitting up and looking out the window, lost in his thoughts, when there was a knock at the door. He couldn’t stop the smile that came to his face as he turned, fully expecting to see Jasta and was surprised – shocked – when, instead of Jasta, he saw two very familiar faces.
 
“Tarron? Tali?” he exclaimed, surprised. “What are you doing here?” He tried to push himself out of his chair, but the suddenness of their appearance and his movement made him dizzy again and he fell back into his seat.
 
His older siblings came and stood on either side of him, each of them putting a hand on one of his shoulders.
 
“When you didn’t come back on the ship with the others, Mom panicked,” Tarron explained calmly.
 
“As did the rest of us,” Tali added, her green eyes anxious.
 
“And of course, you are-”
 
“-were-”
 
“-a member of Her Majesty’s first trade ship,” Tarron kept going as if his sister hadn’t spoken, “so someone had to come and find out how you were and if you were well enough to come home.”
 
Quinn snorted, and it was enough to stop his siblings’ tirade.
 
“Really don’t think I’ll be going back any time soon,” he told them.
 
“Why not?” Tali was surprised.
 
“Why not?” Quinn’s temper flared. “Seriously? I can’t fly, and I can’t go on a ship. What am I supposed to do, swim? I still can’t walk straight and I’ve been on land for a week and a half. Malek doesn’t help enough: it doesn’t do anything for my head, which is why I’m still here.”
 
“Aww,” Tali cooed, stroking his head like he was a pet bird. “Poor little Quinn.”
 
Quinn scowled and swatted her arm away. “I don’t need your sympathy,” he growled. “I’m not a little kid anymore.”
 
Another knock at the door interrupted whatever reply Tali might have made. The door opened without anyone waiting for a reply.
 
“Quinn,” came a newly familiar voice, “I have some lunch for you.”
 
Jasta backed into the room, both hands full with a tray laden with food. As Quinn’s dizziness had subsided, his appetite had grown, and the tray showed it. When Jasta turned around, she blinked in surprise.
 
“Oh,” she murmured, colour climbing into her cheeks. “I’m sorry, I – I didn’t know …”
 
“It’s all right, Jasta,” Quinn told her. “You can leave it on the table.”
 
The fair-haired girl nodded and, without speaking, brought the tray to the table, turned to Quinn, gave a little curtsey – which surprised him – and left, closing the door behind her.
 
The moment she was gone, Quinn’s older siblings turned back to him, and both of them were grinning widely.
 
“So,” Tarron purred. “You don’t want to come home, you say.”
 
“She’s very pretty,” Tali commented, watching her little brother for his reaction.
 
Quinn couldn’t help it. He blushed. “She’s traveled through Amon Darthir, she knows how to make malek,” he muttered.
 
The older twins both snickered.
 
“You still can’t walk straight,” Tali said thoughtfully, a sneaky grin spreading over her face. “Have you seen her outside of this room?”
 
“Well, no,” Quinn admitted, “but-”
 
“So he’s only known her as his nurse,” Tarron murmured to Tali as if Quinn weren’t sitting right there.
 
“And he’s already got such a crush,” Tali replied, grinning.
 
“I wonder if she’s already spoken for.”
 
“Wouldn’t that be terrible?”

“But poor Quinn has no way of knowing …”
 
“Well, we were tasked to come and see how he was doing and see what we could do to help him.”
 
“Of course, it doesn’t seem he needs any malek from home.”
 
“Got his own little supply.”
 
“His own personal supplier.”
 
“One he seems to really like.”
 
“But knows nothing about.”


“I know things about her!” Quinn burst out suddenly, annoyed by his siblings. “She’s from another continent and she came here only about a month and a half ago and she’s apprenticing with the physician and her parents and grandparents run the tannery here in the city and she has two brothers and one is married and just had a baby and-”
 
Tarron and Tali burst into laughter and Quinn glared out the window. The twins exchanged a glance and a grin and then Tali stood up.
 
“I’m going to see about finding a place for the two of us to stay for a few days,” she announced. “I’ll leave you two to catch up.”
 
With that, she left.
 
Quinn turned his glare on his brother.
 
“Oh, come now, don’t look at me that way,” Tarron chuckled, moving to sit on the bed. “It’s about time you found someone we could tease you about. You’ve scared off all the girls back home.”
 
Quinn just continued to glare.
 
“You know it’s true,” Tarron laughed. “And all thanks to that look, too!” Calming, he leaned forward and clapped Quinn’s shoulder amicably. “Seriously, brother, the way you looked when that girl came in … that’s nice. I’m glad you can feel that way.”
 
“You make me sound like I’m incapable of emotion,” Quinn grumbled.
 
Tarron shrugged. “Honestly? You gave that impression. Nothing back home seemed to matter to you. You didn’t put any effort or care into any of the jobs you took, you fostered no relationships except for Jonas and Kaya …”
 
“Yes, well, it doesn’t help that every time I put effort into anything it fell apart on me,” Quinn shot back.
 
“Look, that’s life,” Tarron pointed out. “Dad has the same thing, he can’t leave the ground either. He didn’t let that get him down. He’s happy where he is, doing what he’s doing. You just have to accept that life in the air and on the sea isn’t for you and decide to be happy doing something else.”
 
He paused, then smiled. “And maybe be happy with someone else. Doing something for someone else.”
 
Quinn sat up so quickly his head started spinning again. “Don’t you dare say anything to her,” he threatened Tarron. Older, Tarron might be, but Quinn had also been trained in the army, and he could hold his own against his brother. “Not one word!”
 
Tarron grinned mischievously, and Quinn couldn’t help but groan. He had thought at first that having his siblings here would be great – but now he wasn’t so sure. He had the feeling that it might end up being closer to torturous.
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Re: Quinn's Tale | 106 4A+

Post by Nara-pyon on Tue Aug 02, 2016 1:44 am

Where: Caras Galadhon, Caras Galadhon, Arkandia
When: Mid-Winter, 119 4A
 
Tali was only gone about three hours before she returned, looking very satisfied. By that point, Tarron had stretched out for a nap on Quinn’s bed (it had been a long and exhausting non-stop flight for him and Tali, and being more or less still for the afternoon had made the nap inevitable) and Quinn was reduced to doodling at a table out of sheer boredom.
 
He looked up sharply when his door opened again and couldn’t hide his disappointment when he saw his sister.
 
That didn’t change her expression, though.
 
“Good to see you, too,” she grinned at him. She sat unceremoniously on the bed, waking her twin with a start.
 
“Tali?” he murmured groggily.
 
She laughed and slapped his leg. “Wake up, sleepyhead. I’ve got us some rooms for a few days. And some information.”
 
“Information?” Tarron sat up and rubbed his eyes.
 
“Information.” Tali grinned.
 
Quinn sighed and resigned himself to being teased by his older siblings. “All right, Tali, let’s have it.” He turned and sat backwards on his chair, crossing his arms on the back rest and setting his chin on his arms.
 
Tali’s green eyes gleamed, and she crossed her legs and leaned forward comfortably. “Jasta, seventeen years old, single but not for lack of interest from others. Arrived here during the Enderi with her parents, grandparents, two brothers, sister-in-law, and newborn niece. Most of the family are tanners and have just opened up their own tannery, the fifth in the city-”
 
Fifth?!” Quinn exclaimed, unable to help himself. There were only two in all of Amon Darthir!
 
Tarron blinked sleepily at his younger brother. “Easy to see you haven’t left this room,” he chuckled. “If you’d seen this city, you’d understand. It’s huge.”
 
Tali cleared her throat and arched one eyebrow, and both Quinn and Tarron fell silent.
 
“The fifth tannery in the city,” she went on as if she hadn’t been interrupted, “but her interest lays in medicine, hence her presence here. Despite the family’s recent arrival here, they have family connections in all kinds of places, including back home.”
 
Both Tarron and Quinn stared at her, but this time neither of them interrupted her.
 
She grinned. “Good. You’ve learned. Anyways, apparently, her sister-in-law is cousin to Lady Rhea. And according to Captain Striate, they can trace their family tree all the way back to Lord Aldrich, the first of the Firstborn, back on the mainland. But even though they came here from the mainland, her family – Jasta’s, not the sister-in-law’s – is originally from here, close to a century ago.”
 
Quinn could tell by the amazed look on Terron’s face that that information meant more to his brother than to him. Then again, being as he and Tali were still Wing Riders and under the direct authority of Captain Striate himself, they would be in a position to know more than Quinn.
 
“You’ve not told me much more than I already knew,” he said flatly.
 
Tali blinked, the smug expression leaving her face instantly. “That’s not all!” she protested indignantly.
 
Quinn grinned, immensely pleased that he had gotten to her. That was a rare thing. “Then go on.”
 
“Gladly.” Her grin returned, wider than before. “All right. Her favourite colours are blue, purple and red. She loves fish, though she doesn’t get it often because her family isn’t so fond of it. Her favourite flavour is maple, though only in small quantities, and berries are her next favourite – blackberries most of all, then raspberries, strawberries and blueberries. She really doesn’t like cherries, though if offered, she will accept them to be polite. Aside from medicine, her interests include cooking, baking, sewing, sketching and reading. She loves spending time outside, whether walking or just sitting in the sunshine, and though she can’t take part in much physical activity, she claims to enjoy watching others as much as she would enjoy joining them if she could.”
 
Now Quinn was astonished.
 
“How did you find all that out?” he demanded, gaping.
 
Tali straightened proudly. “I am a member of her Majesty’s Wing Riders!” she beamed. “I know how to get information.”
 
Tarron shoved her shoulder, nearly knocking her sideways off the bed with a squawk. “You asked her.”
 
“No, I made conversation,” Tali pouted, reseating herself. “She’s very helpful – and eager to be helpful. And of course, when you’re being guided around, you make conversation with your guide. It’s only polite. I’m sure that by this time, she knows nearly as much about me as I do about her.”
 
Quinn’s eyes grew hard. “You didn’t say anything about me, did you?” he asked in a threatening tone.
 
“Me?” Tali feigned shock. “Of course not!” Her smile returned, slow and smug. “But she did.”
 
She stopped there and lay back on the bed. Tarron moved his feet out of the way just in time for her not to land on them.
 
It was a trap. Quinn knew it was a trap. He didn’t even have to see the way that Tali was grinning to know it was a trap. There was simply no questioning it. She was baiting him.
 
And wow, was it hard to resist.
 
He was saved by a knock at the door.
 
“Come in,” he called.
 
The door opened and the subject of their conversation entered the room. Her hair was loosely braided today, and she was wearing a pale blue dress that matched her eyes. Quinn felt his cheeks warming and averted his eyes.
 
“Excuse me,” said Jasta softly, a tray in her hands once more. “It is time for Quinn to have his dinner. I’m afraid I haven’t anything for you or your brother, Tali, though you will find that the inn where you’ve taken rooms will have a meal for you both.”
 
Tali sighed, disappointed that she hadn’t had the time to close her trap, and sat up. “Thanks, Jasta,” she murmured, sounding tired now. She patted Tarron’s legs. “Come on. Time for us to go.”
 
Tarron rolled and dropped his feet to the floor to make it easier to get up and then pushed himself to his feet. While he and Tali prepared to leave, Jasta came further into the room and brought the tray to the desk where Quinn was sitting. By the time she had set it down, Tali and Tarron were ready to go.
 
“Do you need a guide?” Jasta asked them.
 
Tali shook her head. “I remember the way. We’ll be fine. Thanks.”
 
Jasta nodded and smiled. “I’ll see you to the door.” With a smile and a hint of a curtsey to Quinn, she left with his siblings, and Quinn was on his own.
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Re: Quinn's Tale | 106 4A+

Post by Nara-pyon on Sat Aug 13, 2016 7:26 pm

Where: Caras Galadhon, Caras Galadhon, Arkandia
When: Mid-Winter, 119 4A
 
When Quinn finished his dinner, he left the tray on the table where he had been sitting and made his way slowly, carefully, back to his bed. The excitement of having his older siblings present had made his head swim, and he wasn’t feeling too balanced at the moment. All he wanted was to lie down.
 
He had just made it to the bed and sat on it when there was a knock at his door.
 
“Come in,” he called, closing his eyes and putting one hand to his head. He knew it wouldn’t stop the pitching and rolling sensation he was feeling, but he couldn’t help it. It was instinctive.
 
He heard the door click open.
 
“How are you feeling?” Jasta’s soft voice was a welcome interruption to his solitude. He only wished his head was back to normal so that he could appreciate it more.
 
He sighed and opened his eyes partially. Seeing things unmoving helped slightly – but only slightly. He turned his head to look at Jasta. She was still standing in the doorway, holding the door with one hand, as if prepared to leave again immediately.
 
“I think,” he said slowly, “that my siblings’ sudden and unexpected arrival has left me feeling worse than when I woke up this morning.”
 
Jasta smiled and leaned her forehead against the narrow edge of the door. “I thought as much. I hope they weren’t offended by how insistent I was that they leave.” She hesitated a moment, glancing out into the hallway, and then looked back at Quinn. “Would you like some … calmer company?” she offered.
 
He blinked at her, surprised. “Don’t you have to go home?”
 
She raised one eyebrow slightly, thoughtfully, shrugged one shoulder, and murmured, “Well … eventually,” she admitted. She smiled at him. “But Mama and Papa will understand. I am with a patient, after all.”
 
The pleasure he’d had at hearing that she was willing to sit with him even after regular hours was gone immediately, extinguished like a flame under water. He was a patient to her, nothing more. Still, he wasn’t going to squander the opportunity to spend a bit of time with her, and he gestured towards the chair and lay down on the bed. He tried closing his eyes, but that didn’t help: in fact, it only made his dizziness worse. Instead, he simply stared up at the ceiling.
 
“Quinn,” Jasta said, her voice hesitant as she sat in the chair next to the bed, just inside Quinn’s peripheral vision, “there … is something of a problem, I’m afraid.”
 
Now Quinn couldn’t help but close his eyes, focusing his energy on keeping his heart rate down. “Problem?” he repeated, his mouth going dry.
 
There was a moment of silence as Jasta considered what to say. She pressed her fingertips together lightly and leaned forward in her seat. “Your illness is … well, you’ve very nearly recovered,” she said slowly. “And … well …” She paused, then sighed. “I know your situation is such that you can’t return home – not by sea or by air – and yet, you have no place to stay while you’re here. But you will soon need to leave the clinic, because the space is needed for other patients. And while your bill has been taken care of by the money your captain left for you … I’m afraid he didn’t leave you much else.”
 
Quinn sighed and rubbed his temples, his headache returning with a vengeance. He hadn’t even thought about after recovering. Back home, he would have gone back to work – but here? He didn’t have any work to go back to. That was doubly a problem, because he had no money of his own and no way to get any – and without money, where could he hope to stay?
 
“Then I guess I don’t really have a choice,” he mumbled into his hands. “I have to go back with Tali and Tarron.”
 
Which would be awful. He didn’t know how long the flight was, but flying was worse than sailing for him. And what would have been the point of being here and recovering? He would get just as sick again immediately. But what other option was there?
 
The two of them sat in silence once more: Jasta deep in thought, Quinn pitying himself.
 
“Unless,” Jasta said suddenly.
 
Quinn looked over at her. What was she thinking?
 
She was eying him thoughtfully. “Have you ever worked with leather?”
 
He blinked. “Leather?” he repeated, surprised. “Um … no …”
 
She sat back in her chair now, tapping her fingers on her knees. “I wonder,” she murmured.
 
Quinn waited to see what she was wondering, but she didn’t seem very interested in finishing her sentence. He frowned slightly and was about to ask her about it when she suddenly frowned and rose to her seat.
 
“I’ll be back in the morning,” she told him abruptly. “Will you be all right for tonight? Is there anything else that you need?”
 
Quinn shook his head before he remembered not to. “Yeah,” he said, putting one hand to his head to stop the spinning again. “I’ll be fine. I don’t need anything else, I think.”
 
“Excellent.” Jasta smiled then, but Quinn was too dizzy and confused to smile back. “Good night, Quinn. Hopefully I will have some news for you tomorrow.”
 
And then she was gone.
 
Quinn didn’t even try to imagine where she was going or what she was doing. He just put his head down, closed his eyes, and slept.
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Re: Quinn's Tale | 106 4A+

Post by Nara-pyon on Sat Aug 13, 2016 9:16 pm

Where: Caras Galadhon, Caras Galadhon, Arkandia
When: Mid-Winter, 119 4A
 
For the first time since his arrival, Quinn was awake before Jasta brought his breakfast in the morning. Not only was he feeling (moderately) better and rested, but he was curious to know why she had left him so suddenly the night before and what she was going to bring him on her return.
 
He dressed himself and carefully made his way to the desk in the room, where he sat down and began to write a letter to his parents. He couldn’t go back with his siblings, that was certain; but he didn’t want his parents to worry too much. He had just finished explaining that he was well on his way to recovery when he heard the knock at the door.
 
Finally, he thought, smiling, and he turned around in his chair. “Come in,” he called out.
 
As expected, it was Jasta who entered. Her blue eyes – like the ocean, Quinn thought with admiration – were bright with excitement. It was the first time he had seen her like that, so excited, but he knew that there was no mistaking the look.
 
“Good morning,” she greeted him, her tone calm despite her expression.
 
“Morning,” Quinn replied, leaning against the desk behind him. “You look excited.”
 
Jasta’s cheeks flushed a light shade of red, but the sparkle in her eyes only grew brighter. “Well, I hope it’s good news for you, too,” she said, setting his breakfast tray down on the small table next to his bed before coming over to join him at the desk. Her hands clasped demurely in front of her, she stood next to him, close enough that he could feel the warmth emanating from her body.
 
He looked up at her and waited for her to speak.
 
“I hope you aren’t upset with me,” she began, looking at him earnestly, “but I was speaking with your sister yesterday when I helped her find an inn, and I asked her about you.”
 
Quinn blinked, surprised at how easily she had said it. Tali had made it sound a bit more … well … he didn’t know. Maybe it had just been his hopes that she might have been interested in him – but if that were the case, wouldn’t she be a bit more like him? A bit … shyer? Then again, if that were the case, she wouldn’t have said the night before that he was “just a patient”.
 
He shrugged. “No, not upset,” he said a bit flatly.
 
“Good.”
 
The word was soft, almost hesitant, and Quinn berated himself inwardly. How could he have spoken to her like that? None of this was her fault. He had hopes that weren’t reciprocated. He hadn’t said anything to her, and couldn’t expect anything. And if Tali had implied that there might have been some personal interest in the things she’d said or asked about … well, she was his older sister. Of course she would tease him.
 
Before he could apologize for his tone, however, Jasta went on.
 
“Well, Tali told me a bit more about you … about your training, and your … well, your dismissal from the Wing Riders training … and about the various jobs you tried between then and now.” She smiled again, but it was fainter than before. “I know you’ve had … well, difficulties …”
 
Suddenly Quinn was tired with the way she was trying to be so delicate.
 
“One failure after another, you mean,” he muttered, turning back to the desk and leaning back in his chair.
 
Jasta sighed. “I’m sorry. I can’t imagine how hard things must have been for you. I’ll get to the point.”
 
Quinn winced and berated himself once more. Why was he acting so childishly?
 
“In Tali’s list of things you had attempted, there were two things that were notably absent to me,” she said, speaking more quickly now. “Not that there’s anything significant about them, but they are two things close to my heart, as they have been on my mind. Hunting and tanning.”
 
“I’ve never tried either,” Quinn admitted quietly, trying his best to be polite now.
 
“Well,” Jasta continued, “my parents and grandparents, as you know, have opened a tannery, and despite it being the fifth in the city, the business is growing fast and they need help. While we were speaking last night, I remembered that my father has been talking about taking on more help, and I thought that perhaps he would be willing to take you on, if you’re interested. Your … history of failures notwithstanding.”
 
She glanced at him through her eyelashes, and Quinn looked sharply away, his cheeks growing hot.
 
“It’s nothing to be ashamed of, you know,” Jasta said softly, reaching out and touching his shoulder lightly. “You tried.”
 
Quinn swallowed. “No, I didn’t,” he muttered, so softly that Jasta didn’t quite hear him.
 
She leaned closer. “Pardon?”
 
He cleared his throat. “I didn’t,” he repeated, a bit louder, still turned away from her. “Try. I was so bitter about not being able to become a Wing Rider that I didn’t try at any of my other jobs. I just didn’t care. Not about anything, not until the opportunity came to join the crew of Her Majesty’s first trade ship.”
 
He shrugged. “For the first time in a long time, I cared again. And look where it’s got me.”
 
There was a long silence, and when he ventured to look up at Jasta again, she was looking out the window, a distant gaze in her eyes.
 
Quinn ran one hand over his face. “Sorry. I keep making a mess of things, don’t I?”
 
“No one can make you care about things, Quinn.” She looked directly at him. “No one can make you do well. It has to be your choice, in everything. A big job, a small one, one you deem important or unimportant. It has to be your choice to put your all into it. If you can’t see your own value, or the value of your work, no one else will see it either.”
 
Quinn was taken aback. It was quite possibly the most direct thing anyone had ever said to him before, and it was … a little insulting.
 
“I spoke with my father last night,” Jasta went on before he could speak, “and asked him if he might take you on to help out, either to hunt or in the tanning process, or maybe even in the leather working, I don’t know. It would include, at least to begin with, a place to stay. But if you’re not going to put any effort into your work, then I’m afraid I can’t ask you in good conscience.”
 
She shook her head and moved away from him. “I’m sorry. I need to get to work. I’ll see you again later.”
 
And again, before Quinn could reply, she was gone.
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Re: Quinn's Tale | 106 4A+

Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Aug 14, 2016 12:18 pm

Where: Caras Galadhon, Caras Galadhon, Arkandia
When: Mid-Winter, 119 4A
 
There was no knock at the door, and Quinn didn’t hear it open, but he knew the moment his siblings arrived – and to be honest, it was later than he had expected them.
 
“Morning, Numbskull,” came Tali’s annoyed voice from directly behind him.
 
Quinn jumped and whirled around – not the stupidest thing he’d done that day, but close to it. His head swam instantly. He winced and glared at his sister through narrow eyes. “What?” he growled.
 
“Oh, don’t be stupid,” Tarron sighed. “We had rather an interesting conversation with your nurse on our way in today. Honestly, I’d have thought that if anything, you might be trying to impress her rather than annoy her.”
 
“Though I must say,” Tali added, grinning, “I’m rather amused that you would just tell her flat-out what a selfish and unambitious loser you are.”
 
“I’m not-”
 
“You told her that for two years, you didn’t put any effort into any of the jobs that you did,” Tarron interrupted him. He was frowning. “Seriously? What were you thinking?”
 
“I was-”
 
“The stupid thing is that you know your options are limited and you just blew your best chance to stay here,” Tali chastised him. She was merciless. “You might as well just come home with us now. Of course, it would make your recovery here pointless, but hey, if you want to take advantage of Alassëa-sol, that’s your business.”
 
“But I-”
 
“Actually,” Tarron said to Tali, ignoring Quinn now, “it would be right in keeping with the rest of what he’s accomplished to date – which is, of course, nothing of note.”
 
“Hey!”
 
The older twins looked at Quinn. “Yes?” they said in unison.
 
Quinn was seething. “If all you two are going to do is tear me down, then you can just go home!” he shouted at them. “When I told her what I did, I was being honest! It was the first time I even realized that was what it was, that I was being bitter about things that no one could control! Don’t you think that now that I realize it, I want to change? For the first time, I actually care about something other than myself! I hate what I used to be like, and I wish I could go back and change it, but I can’t! Does that mean that I can’t start again? Give something a real try?”
 
His fists were clenched, and he had to fight to control himself. Dizzy or not, his temper was riled, and his training was starting to kick in. He jumped to his feet and pointed an accusing finger at his older siblings.
 
“You two have only been making things difficult since you arrived here! Teasing me and bugging me and making me feel worse instead of better – I thought when you first came here that it would be great, I was so happy to see someone I recognized, someone I knew, family, but now I wish you hadn’t come! And Tali, you told me that you didn’t talk about me with Jasta, but she told me that you told her about everything I’ve tried and failed at! Do you really think that’s looking out for me?”
 
His tirade came to a stop when he ran out of breath, but he was shaking now, trembling with anger.
 
His siblings were stunned into silence. Tali sat slowly on the bed. Her eyes were wide, her face pale.
 
“Quinn,” she breathed, “I … I’m sorry, I … thought I was helping … she just asked about you and … well …”
 
Quinn turned away, his eyes burning. He was too proud to let his tears fall, though, and he refused to wipe them away. He took a breath to calm himself. It was only moderately successful, and when he looked at his siblings again, his eyes were red.
 
Even Tarron looked uncomfortable. He tugged at the point of one ear and looked away.
 
“Maybe what you need,” Tali sighed,” is a change of location. You haven’t left this room since you got here, have you?”
 
Quinn shook his head. He’d been brought a bucket of water and a sponge to wash, so he hadn’t even seen a bathing room since his arrival.
 
His sister nodded. “Then you’ve probably got cabin fever on top of everything else,” she murmured. “You should get out. See the city.”
 
“Maybe you should come to the inn with us,” Tarron suggested hesitantly. “You could share a room with us.”
 
“Or at the very least, get some fresh air,” Tali agreed. “Staying cooped up in one room isn’t good for anyone.”
 
Quinn let out his breath slowly. They were right. And, as Jasta had already told him, he was very nearly recovered, and there were others who needed the room. The care.
 
“Let me get my things together,” he agreed reluctantly. “Give me an hour.”
 
The elder twins took the hint and left their little brother alone in his room.
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Re: Quinn's Tale | 106 4A+

Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Aug 14, 2016 4:39 pm

Where: Caras Galadhon, Caras Galadhon, Arkandia
When: Mid-Winter, 119 4A
 
Quinn didn’t have much, and it took him only a few short minutes to put what he did have into his sea chest (which had been left on shore with him). When he was finished, he surveyed the room, took a deep breath, and left, leaving the door open behind him. He found himself in a corridor lined with doors – some open, but mostly closed. At one end, there was a wall with a window; the other direction led to an open area. He went that way.
 
Around a corner in the hall there was a staircase to his left, leading up, and an opening to a larger room. He started towards the open room and nearly walked into a tall, tanned-skinned man with a sandy-blond muss of hair and brown eyes.
 
“Oh, Quinn,” the man said as Quinn stepped back. “Glad to see you up and about.”
 
The way he spoke was off, accented, as if he weren’t quite comfortable with the language, but the fact had barely registered with Quinn before he dismissed it as unimportant.
 
“I want to thank you for your care of me,” he said, standing as straight as he could, though he felt as though there were some slight pitching beneath his feet. “But as Jasta said, I’m more or less better, there’s nothing more you can do for me, so it’s time I found my own way.”
 
He hesitated. “I … was she correct in telling me that my bill has been covered?”
 
The man nodded, smiling warmly. “Yes. Well, Quinn, I wish you the best – and should you ever need anything, don’t hesitate to come back and ask.” He reached out a hand to shake with Quinn, and Quinn tucked his chest under one arm to do just that. “Just ask for Whyn. If you ever get lost, just head for the center of the city.”
 
“Thank you.” Quinn smiled at him. “I’ll do that. And please, when you see Jasta again, tell her thanks for me?”
 
“Absolutely,” Whyn agreed, though surprise mirrored in his eyes. “She doesn’t know you’re leaving?”
 
Quinn rubbed the back of his neck. “Ah … no … I’m afraid I upset her pretty badly this morning.”
 
He smiled faintly. “Thanks again. And goodbye.”
 
He passed by the physician and headed into the open area. There were a few chairs there, and a table with a pitcher of water, some cups, and a leather-bound book – a large one, at that. A few paintings lined the walls, but his destination was the front door.
 
Stepping outside, he was shocked to see several inches of snow on the ground. He was shivering before he was aware that he was even cold.
 
“And there he is, too stupid even to remember that it’s Winter and he needs to wear a cloak.”
 
Quinn blinked out of his stupor and looked around. His siblings were coming along the street towards him – in fact, were nearly at the clinic already. He sighed and knelt, setting his chest down on the snow and then opening it. Tali and Tarron were surrounding him before he had his cloak out, but as he pulled it around his shoulders, closed his chest and stood, he ignored Tali’s comment.
 
“Which way?” he asked instead, looking to Tarron.
 
Tarron nodded back the direction he and Tali had come from. “This way.”
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Re: Quinn's Tale | 106 4A+

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