Kyrie's Story | 28 057 / 2557 3A +

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 12:48 am

Location: Jielam, Arkandia
Year: 28 057 (2557 T.A)
Status: Winter


Kyrie pulled a second arrow from her quiver and put it to her bow, tucking it against its rest and clicking the string into place. Her black eyes were emotionless, betraying nothing of what was going on in her mind as she lifted the bow that was taller than her and took aim. Archery was definitely not her preferred form of attack.

Twang! Thop!

It was way too noisy. But it would have to do. She wasn’t sure if she would take the bow with her when the time came, but it was a necessary evil for her plan to succeed. And that meant she was going to have to practice with it until she was efficient with it as she could be, the same goal she had for all of the other weapons she was learning to use.


Two. Three.


The three bullseyes she’d gotten meant nothing to her. Being able to hit a stationary target was nothing, even if it was at eighty yards. To hit a moving target at the same distance on the run – that was what she was going to have to do.


Twang-crack! Her shot went wild, hitting a tree instead of the target. The arrow shattered into several pieces, but Kyrie’s eyes were on the pale-faced man behind her. Her expression was calm, hiding her smoldering interior.

“You’re late!”

Kyrie blinked slowly, deliberately, forcing herself not to clench her jaw. The twitch of the muscles would show him that he was getting to her, and she was determined not to let him know. Turning her back to him, she moved to collect her spent arrows.

“You should be more grateful,” the man shouted after her, his voice filled with anger. “You’re an illegal: you have no right to be alive! For all I’ve done for you in the past three years, the least you could do is show up on time for dinner!”

Oh, he had helped her, all right. He had taught her how to use the weapons she had been given, and more. He had fed her, clothed her, sheltered her, and kept her hidden from the lawmen. But he had also shown her that even the elves were capable of the atrocities that the humans had performed on her, and he had allowed her to surprise herself at the realization of how much hatred she was actually capable of feeling. But she had learned from the humans, too, and it was here that she was putting the knowledge she had learned from them into effect: eighteen months of daily torture, simply because of the fact that she was not of pure human blood, had taught her patience. She could endure anything. Time was her friend. If she held on, her time would come. She would extract her revenge.

She finished retrieving her arrows and returned them to her quiver as she made her way back to the man. She had never learned his name, never cared to. As far as he was concerned, she couldn’t speak, so there would be no point to learning it anyway. He of course knew her name, but that was from the Dark Elves who had smuggled her to him. She didn’t hold them entirely to blame: they had told her the truth, that he would teach her all she could possibly hope to learn about weapons, and she wasn’t entirely certain that they had known in advance about his abusive and licentious nature. No, she would not go after them.

But the White Elf who called himself her teacher?

She would drain him of everything he knew, everything he could possibly give her – and then she would take his life.

Well, that part was up for debate at the moment. Some days she wanted to be merciful and simply kill him when she felt she was ready to leave, and other days she wanted him to suffer as she had suffered, to torture him as she had been tortured, and then leave him to die slowly and painfully.

When she reached him at last, she held the bow out to him. He took it with a scowl.

“Sometimes I can’t help but wonder about your intelligence,” he told her, shoving her roughly towards the cabin they shared. “I swear I’ve never had a student as slow as you are. And stupid! Three years you’ve been here and I swear you’re as addlepated as you were when they brought you.”

He had always attributed her silence to a brain injury, supposedly acquired during her captivity in the human land of Poleria, the country of her mother’s birth. It stood to reason: she was, after all, covered in scars of varying degrees, and that included her face. That didn’t mean that he was right; but it worked to her advantage that he thought her mentally incapable of thinking for herself, so she let him think it. Truth be told, she milked it for all it was worth: taking her time in doing the chores she disliked, putting off the time when she would eventually have to go to bed, hoping that he would already be asleep by the time she made it.

“Give me your quiver,” he sighed as they approached the cabin. “I’ll put it all away while you fetch water.”

She unclipped the quiver from her hip and handed it to him. Anything to get a bit of time away from him. Without hesitating, she turned towards the worn path that led to the river from which they got all of their water. The pale bushes to each side of the path were dotted with small white flowers, but their beauty was lost on Kyrie. She ignored them as thoroughly as she ignored the weight of the man’s body after he had satisfied his lusts on her. She had only one thing on her mind, and that one thing blocked out all other thoughts, for good or ill.


And the day was fast approaching. She was almost satisfied with her skill level. In blades she was easily a match for her teacher; with the staff she surpassed him: it was only with the bow that she was not yet satisfied with her abilities. And yet it was important. Even if she did not want to use the bow, she had to know how to use it. To defend herself at a distance. To hunt for food the most efficiently. To dispose of people in her way while keeping out of sight.

She waded into the frigid water, the crunch of the ice beneath her boots giving her a feeling of slight satisfaction. This was the one thing she was going to miss when she left this place: the river. She liked its volatility, its unpredictability, the way it could be so calm and reassuring one moment and overwhelming the next. It could be dangerous, it was true; but it was indiscriminate in where and when it acted up. She could handle that.

She plucked the large wooden bucket from its hook on the tree and leaned forward to fill it with the icy water. Her thoughts were whirling. Maybe she would get rid of the man when he returned from his next trip into the village. He only ever went once a month and no one ever came out here. She could have an entire month to keep training herself before she would have to worry about anyone missing him. She doubted anyone would come looking for him, but she couldn’t take any chances. If she were spotted by any of the other White Elves, she would be arrested and executed – if they didn’t kill her on sight.

As the thought entered her head, her actions slowed so that she would have a bit more time to think about it. It was appealing. A month with no fear … a month when she could be herself. She would have all the supplies she would need – twice as much, really, which meant that when it came time to leave, she could have a month or more of supplies to take with her, which would be nice. She knew the area by now. She had seen enough maps to know where she needed to go. And she knew what she needed to do.

She blinked suddenly, realizing that her eyes had fixed themselves on the sun’s reflection on the water. As much as the man believed that she was slow in general, she couldn’t afford to overdo it – at least not often. She swirled the bucket to try to avoid any chunks of ice and scooped up as much water as she could, then turned and headed back towards the cabin, holding the bucket with two hands so that she wouldn’t spill it over herself.

When she entered the cabin, her teacher was sitting at the table, leaning back in his chair, his feet up on the table, his boots dripping melting snow on the tabletop. She didn’t even glance at him as she headed to the fireplace and poured the cold water into the pot. She swung the pot over the fire and turned to the pantry to get some ingredients for the soup they had every single day. She could feel the man’s eyes on her, but she ignored him. That was the second skill she had learned during her captivity: how to ignore just about everything. That and patience were the only things that had kept her alive.

She heard him spit on the floor, and she couldn’t keep her lip from twitching in disgust. She would keep her boots on now until she had a chance to wash the floor again.

While the soup boiled, she set the table, keeping her eyes on her work so that he wouldn’t read anything in her expression. All through dinner, she kept from looking at him, and when after dinner she grabbed the bucket and went for more water, he grunted his disapproval but went to bed anyways. She pretended that she couldn’t find the scrub brush she usually used to wash the floor and instead used a rag, which meant it would take her three times longer than usual.

Her plan worked. He was fast asleep before she was even halfway finished. And by the time she did finish, she had her entire plan worked out.

All she needed to do now was wait.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 12:55 am

Location: Jielam, Arkandia
Year: 28 058 (2558 T.A)
Status: Spring

The early morning sun shone down on Kyrie as she watched her teacher trudge down the path. Her black eyes were emotionless, hiding her thoughts. Her breath was slow and even, and when she exhaled it was slow enough to be invisible, even in the frigid air. Her exposed skin was pale, even the scars that dotted her body. Her muscles were tense, her lips taut in anticipation.

Today was the day she had been waiting for, the day for which she had been preparing for weeks.

Today was the day that she would be free.

She watched until her teacher was safely out of sight, then turned and headed to the cabin. Instead of going to the room that was their kitchen and bedroom, she headed to the other half, where they stored all of their tools and weapons. Opening the door, she picked out a shovel and checked the nose to make sure that it was strong and sharp. She would have only one chance at this, and if she had to stop for a broken shovel – a very real risk, as the ground was quite solid from permafrost – she could lose precious time. If she did not finish before her teacher returned, he would kill her.

There were worse things.

She had chosen the location for his grave very carefully. It would have to be deep, at least an ell, so that wolves and bears would not be attracted to the smell, and it would have to be as out of sight as possible, just in case someone passed by. Not that anyone had done so in the three years that Kyrie had spent there, but it was possible.

Not far behind the cabin, the opposite direction of the river, a thick forest started. She couldn’t dig a grave in there; the roots were so thick she would break the shovel before she got anywhere at all: but between the cabin and the forest was some brush that would cover a grave quite nicely.

But even before she could get to work on the grave, she had to make sure that her other preparations were ready. She had the bow sitting out, unstrung for the moment, and a quiver of arrows. The rest, she could get when she needed.

Once that was ready, she marked out the dimensions of the grave and began to dig.

Though it was only the first day of spring, the first day of the new year; and though the air was cool and a fresh blanket of snow had fallen during the night; and though Kyrie was wearing very little, only a very short skirt with a slit up both sides to maximize movement and a top that was little more than a bra, plus her boots of course, it was not long before she was sweating. She paused only now and then for a quick drink of water, and, when the sun had reached its zenith, for a very quick meal. By the time the sun was headed noticeably towards the horizon, the grave was ready, a full ell and a half deep.

She prepared the bow next: strung it, checked the string, the rest, the limbs, making sure that nothing would fail on her. She double checked the arrows for any signs of wear or weakness: any with splinters, that were warped, or that had loose feathers were discarded. She had overcome her emotions and decided at last that he would die immediately rather than slowly – not because she hated him any less, but simply for simplicity’s sake. Dead men couldn’t escape or make a commotion.

As the sun began to sink below the horizon, she heard his all-too-familiar whistle, the one that meant he had someone cheated someone out of something on his visit to the village. He had never taken her with him, of course – that would have gotten both of them killed – but he had often bragged to her how little money he needed to spend to get everything that they would need. He would lie, cheat, and even steal, all to save a few coins.

Usually, Kyrie was disgusted when he came home whistling. She hated how he did his business, and when he was in a good mood, he always wanted to finish of the day taking out his pleasure on her. But today was different. Today, his good mood was good news for her. It meant that he would not be paying much attention to what was ahead of him, and he would be expecting what she had in store for him now less than ever.

Quickly, she pulled a white cloak over herself so that when she went outside, she would blend with the white landscape, then took the bow and arrows she had selected and went out the back door of the cabin. She snuck around the far side of the cabin, skirted around a few bushes, and took up position behind a tree that she had chosen for its vantage point. From there, she could clearly see the path from which he would approach the cabin, and she would have a clear shot at him.

He wasn’t quite in sight yet, and she silently blessed her elven hearing, inherited from her father, for giving her such advanced warning of his arrival. Keeping as still as she could, she reached down slowly and picked up a small handful of snow, putting it into her mouth to lower the temperature of her breaths so that it would remain invisible. She knew the signs to watch for, to see if someone was watching her: she had learned them from him, and she had to make sure that she did not reveal her position in any way.

She had left the fire going in the cabin to make it look as though she were still inside, and she had left the soup on the fire to entice him to head directly inside when he arrived.

A few minutes later, his head came into sight. He was clearly pleased with himself, his whistle loud and off-key, his expression smug. There was a bit of a skip to his step, and Kyrie noted it carefully. She would have to be careful. If she missed her first shot, she would have a very difficult second one, and probably no chance for a third.

She kept her breath slow and even, and she raised her bow slowly. The arrow was already nocked, prepared long in advance already, and she pulled the string back slowly, carefully. She took aim, waited for him to turn the curve in the path so that his back was to her, and then stepped slightly to the side so that the tree was no longer in the way. She checked her aim, pulled the string back a bit further, drawing the bow to its full strength, and just as he paused to fumble with the door latch (drunk again, she thought disgustedly) she released the bowstring.


The snapping of the string straightening sounded like a canon shot in her ears, but she didn’t allow herself to wince, willing herself to watch her first arrow fly even as she nocked her second. She took very quick aim and shot again, her movements so quick that the first arrow hadn’t even struck its target yet.

The noise of the string snapping taut caught the man’s attention, and he turned his head just in time for the arrow to hit his forehead with a thud. Blood spurted from the wound, and as the light faded from his eyes, the second arrow struck, this one entering his right eye. Kyrie watched as he fell, and it felt to her like everything was happening in slow motion: the arrows’ flights, him being hit, his eyes registering surprise before he fell slowly, lifelessly, to the ground.

Kyrie let out a slow breath. That had been easier than she had expected. And far less satisfying.

Calmly, she walked up to his lifeless body and peered down at him. For several moments she stood there, lost in thought, recalling the abuse she had endured at his hands over the past three years. Was this really the man who had subjected her to such abuse? Such fear? Such hatred? Looking down at him now, he seemed so small, so insignificant.

She shook her head, shaking away her thoughts, and turned to the task at hand. She slipped the bag from his back and brought it inside, then stripped him of his weapons, coin purse, and anything else she thought she could use. Then she hefted him onto her shoulders and headed around the cabin to the grave she had dug for him. She buried him immediately, making sure to pack the ground as firmly as she could to discourage scavengers. Once that task was finished, she rested against the shovel to catch her breath. It was quite late by this time, and she was very tired, but she felt as though she had forgotten something.

She stared at the patch of fresh earth, wondering what she could be missing. For a long time, she simply watched it, and as her sweat began to freeze, she started to shiver. Still she didn’t move.

At long last, she realized what it was that she wanted to do. The corners of her lips turned up in a smile, bordering on a smirk. Yes, she needed to get a first and final word in. Something to signify her freedom. She was free to speak again, and free from him, and she needed to show it, prove it to herself.

“So long, bastard,” she said, her voice creaking slightly from disuse. “Whatever Mandos has in store for you, I hope it’s what you deserve.”

She spat on his grave. “I hope I never run into you again.”

And with that, she turned back to the cabin for a warm bath and a good night’s rest, such as she had not known since her days in Dolerum.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 12:56 am

Location: The Jielam/Dolerum Border, Arkandia
Year: 28 058 (2558 T.A)
Status: Mid Spring

The morning sun shone high in the sky, its rays warming the air and the ground alike. Spring was in full bloom. The trees were green, flowers blossoming, and animals were active in abundance.

Kyrie had been traveling for three weeks now, after having stayed in her dead teacher’s cabin for three weeks. She had traveled mostly during the night, her black hair and tanned skin helping her to blend in the shadows, though when she had been trying to get past settlements as quickly as she could, she had also pulled on a white cloak and made her way carefully away from areas where there were people. She had started in the northern end of Jielam but by this time she had made it all the way south and east to the border of Dolerum. She could have left the country sooner, but that would have meant that she would have had to enter Friesia, a country belonging to the Fire Elves, and that would not have been safe for her either. Even Dolerum was a risk, but since she did have some of her Dark Elf father’s elven looks – slightly pointed ears and eyebrows – she had a better chance of survival there than anywhere else.

Of course, it helped that they weren’t at war with anyone at the moment.

But before she could count herself home free, though, she was going to have to cross the border, and that was going to be harder than anything she’d done yet. Sneaking through the countryside – a walk in the park compared to making it past the border control.

She had arrived at the border just past daylight, but after a full night of travel, she needed to rest before she even tried to plan how to get across. The only thing she gave herself the time to do before that was to find a safe place to hunker down for the day. In the end, she found a tight cluster of evergreen trees and buried herself under layers of needles and dirt so that she would be out of sight.

Then she slept.

By the time she woke, the sun had set, and she listened carefully for a long time before she ventured to stir from her hiding place. She left her things there, taking only a brace of throwing knives and a long dagger that was strapped to her thigh in case she should be spotted. She was confident that she wouldn’t be, but it was better to be safe than sorry.

She spent the night scouting, watching the patterns that the patrols followed, memorizing how often the shift changed and where, watching who was allowed through the gates and who wasn’t. Not that many people made an effort.

As the moon began to wane and the sky began to lighten, she allowed herself a few hours of sleep, hiding once more, and then, when the sun was high in the sky, she woke again and resumed her watch. It was imperative that she ensure her observations of the previous night would hold true: if she were wrong, if she made a mistake, it would cost her her life.

She kept up her vigil for three more days, until she was satisfied that she had memorized the schedules and habits of the gatekeepers, and only then did she make her move.

She gathered her things together, and every time the guards were about as far away from her position as they were going to get, she darted forward, keeping low to the ground, and stuck part of it through the fence, making sure that they were hidden somehow – rocks, leaves, debris; whatever she could get her hands on to hide it quickly before the guards turned and spotted her. When the last of her things were over, she picked up the large staff that she had been using as a walking stick. She would have one final use for it now, and only one. After that, she would either have to find or make another one to use.

She waited while the guards did their rounds – pacing up and down along the fence, clearly bored with their positions. It was nearing the end of their shift, and they were not as alert as they should perhaps have been. She wasn’t going to complain though – it was to her advantage that they would be slower to react, if they noticed her. She wasn’t afraid of them chasing her: she would have her weapons on the other side, and she knew that she could defeat them if she needed to. No, her fear was that they would use the magic of their kind against her: the ice shards that she knew from experience would slice through her skin like razor blades.

She breathed slowly, shallowly, keeping her heart rate down and her noise to a minimum. Anyone passing by, unless they were concentrating, would hear nothing apart from the breeze that was whispering ever so lightly through the trees. Her hands gripped the top of the staff, fingers tightening, loosening, repositioning, and tightening again as she watched for her opportunity. She knew how many steps it was to the fence, knew how long it would take her to run it, how much time she needed: all she needed to do was time it right – and hope there were no rocks on the other side to break her ankles when she landed.

Finally, she saw her moment. As the White Elves reached the end of their walk, one of them yawned. Instead of turning and continuing on his vigil, he called out to his partner.

“When are our replacements due?”

“Quarter hour. What’s the matter, kid keep you up again?”

“I swear, she never sleeps at night!”

“Just wait until she’s a bit older, it’ll get better. Now get going.”

And with that, both of them turned and continued their patrol.

Kyrie let them each take about ten steps before she fixed her grip on the staff and darted forward from her hiding place. Her bare feet made almost no sound as she ran through the fresh grass, and she kept careful control of her breathing so that she would hear if there were any changes to the guards’ paces. She picked up her pace and when she got nearer the fence she thrust the staff, like a pole, into the ground against a large rock she had picked out earlier, pushing off with her feet and vaulting over the fence. It was only as tall as she was, and she could have climbed it easily enough, she supposed, but it was faster to launch herself overtop of it instead.

When she reached the apex of her jump, she released the staff and braced herself to land. She hit the ground rolling and was immediately back on her feet, racing for the nearest tree large enough to cover her.

Behind her, she heard a shout, followed by rapid footsteps. She glanced over her shoulder, looking to see what would happen. One of the guards was running towards where she had gone over the fence. He raised one hand towards her, and shards of ice shot forward out of it. She ducked behind the tree to protect herself. She heard the sound of shattering, though nothing hit against the tree. She peered out and saw the strangest thing she had ever seen in her life.

The ice shards had not made it past the fence.

It wasn’t that they had hit the fence. They had shattered against an invisible barrier, and now the shards were embedded in the air.

Kyrie’s heart leapt into her throat. The Dark Elves had been at war with the White Elves long enough to figure out how to put up a magical barrier around their country! That certainly explained why only the countries around them had fences and guards.

Though it did make her wonder how she had been able to cross it.

Without hesitating to see if the White Elf would be able to climb the fence and cross the barrier himself, she ran forward and grabbed her gear from its various hiding places. She strapped on as much as she could quickly, glancing up constantly to keep an eye on the border guard. He hadn’t even tried to climb the fence, but was running towards the gate, shouting at his partner as he went. She reached through the fence and grabbed the staff that she had thought she would have to leave behind, and the moment she had everything in hand, she ran.

For a full quarter hour she ran without slowing, until the shouts behind her went silent. Then she hid all her things but her bow, the throwing knives, and her dagger, and doubled back to check on her pursuers.

They were gone.

Satisfied but tired, Kyrie collected her belongings once more and set off in search of a place to rest and eat.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 12:56 am

Location: ???, Dolerum, Arkandia
Year: 28 058 (2558 T.A)
Status: Late Spring

It was the sound of laughter that dragged Kyrie from a deep and sound slumber. At first she didn’t recognize the sound: she hadn’t heard it in such a long time. Not since she had been a child. She let the sounds waft around her as she lay in bed, the blanket tucked up under her chin and over her head. Her eyes were still closed. She was still so tired: she didn’t want to get up. She felt as though she never wanted to get up again. She couldn’t remember ever being so comfortable.

Nearby, she heard the sounds of birds chirping. Children playing. Squirrels chattering. A busy marketplace. Horses clip-clopping past. Carts and wagons. Singing.

It was like being home again.

Suddenly, her eyes flew open. Home? That was impossible! Where was she?

She sat up and looked around, her eyes wild. Her heart raced as she took in her surroundings. She was in a large bed, the frame carved from what looked like oak, its design detailed and intricate. Next to the bed was a chair of similar quality, and across the room a large desk that was the same. The walls were bare wood, save a single framed painting of some birds nesting in a tree, but a window on the wall across the room from the bed let in sunlight and a warm breeze.

Kyrie couldn’t see any of her belongings, and when she felt down at her waist to see if she was still wearing any of her blades, she found that she wasn’t – and that she wasn’t even wearing her own clothes. Instead, she was wearing a long nightgown, pale yellow, something that she wouldn’t have worn even if she’d had a choice and the luxury. Still, it wasn’t as if she could take it off now. Her clothes, like her weapons, were not in sight, and she had nothing else on beneath the nightgown.

She was feeling much more awake now, the adrenaline still coursing through her veins. She needed to find out where she was, how she had gotten there, whether she was safe, and where her things were – not necessarily in that order. She slid one foot out of the bed and set it on the floor – and blinked in surprise. She looked down at the floor. Instead of the hardwood floor she had expected, the floor was covered in a thick, plush carpet. The strands of it tickled her toes, but her expression didn’t change. She stepped with both feet onto the floor and stood up.

A wave of dizziness washed over her, and she stumbled, catching herself on the edge of the bed. She sat there a moment, panting slightly, shocked at how weak she felt. What in the world could have happened to her, that she would wake up somewhere totally foreign to her with no idea of what had happened and so weak that she couldn’t even walk?

She lowered her head and closed her eyes, breathing deeply, trying to regain her sense of balance. She flexed her muscles as she did so, starting with her fingers, hands, arms, shoulders … all the way down to her toes. She found that they were all working properly. Once she had caught her breath, she sat up straight again. She must have been here for a while – wherever here was. A head rush: that was all it had been.

She stood again, more slowly this time, and now when she took a step, she felt as strong as she ever had.

The door was closed, and when she opened it, she was peering into a wide corridor, also with a carpeted floor. There were pictures all down the corridor, all of them apparently painted by the same hand. They all had the same ebony frame as well, and it gave Kyrie two ideas: first, that whoever lived here was very rich; and second, that they either were an artist, or were very fond of a particular one.

There were other doors in the corridor. Two of them looked like kids had dipped their hands in paint and left prints all over the door, one of them was painted with climbing ivy, and the fourth was painted with two phoenixes circling together. That made up Kyrie’s mind. Whoever lived here had to be the artist of the paintings. They were all in the same style.

She took a moment to look at the door of the room she had been in. On it was a unicorn, kneeling at a pond and touching its horn to the water.

She blinked. A symbol of healing …

There was a noise around the corner of the corridor, and Kyrie dropped instinctively into a defensive stance. She flattened herself against the wall and moved slowly towards the corner, listening carefully. She could still hear laughter in the distance, but there were no other sounds directly around the corner.

When she reached the corner, she peered around as slowly as she could so as not to attract attention, if anyone was there.

The room she saw was a large living room. Like the other rooms, it had plush carpet on the floor. There was a long table in the middle of the room, and around it was furniture that was cushioned and covered with velvet or something similar. Flowers grew in pots in the corners of the room. There were paintings on the walls in this room as well, and of the two doorways, one had no door, and the other was blank.

A noise from the room with no door made her tense up again, and she froze. She backed up again, one hand behind her to feel for the wall so that she wouldn’t walk into it. She took a step back along the wall, intent on returning to the room she’d started in and finding another way out, but she had forgotten something important.

The paintings.

Her fingers brushed against one of the paintings, and before she could react, it fell to the floor with a clatter.

The noise from the other room stopped suddenly, and after a moment of silence Kyrie heard footsteps approaching. She turned and hurried back to the room she’d woken up in and closed the door behind her, and looked around for a place to hide. She felt panicked in a way she hadn’t felt in years, not since she had first been taken captive in Poleria. She had no idea what was going on, and that frightened her, more than all the chaos she had been through.

Through the door, she heard a soft voice murmur, “Oh … the painting fell …”

Taking the simplest hiding place, she dove back into the bed and pulled the blanket up, the way she had woken up. She evened out her breathing and closed her eyes, and a moment later the door opened. Footsteps approached the bed, and there was a soft sigh.

“If she doesn’t wake soon …” came the same soft voice she’d heard through the door. It was a woman’s voice, and it sounded sad. Still, Kyrie didn’t allow herself to react, a skill she had gotten quite good at over the years. She felt a hand being put to her forehead and a thoughtful “Hm.” Then the blanket was pulled back and the person picked up Kyrie’s wrist, feeling her pulse. She tried to keep her heart rate down, but her ignorance of the situation was eating away at her, and she couldn’t do it. Her wrist was put down, and the person moved around to the other side of the bed to check her other wrist. There was another thoughtful “Hm”, followed by the footsteps walking away, and then the door closed again.

Kyrie waited half a minute before she opened her eyes again. She needed to figure out what to do from here. Where were her things? Her clothes?

She sat up and sighed softly, her eyes troubled. She needed to find her things …

“Ah,” came the same voice as before, this time from across the room.

Kyrie whirled on the bed to see a woman standing just inside the room, leaning against the closed door and smiling at her. She had long, black hair that was pulled back in a braid; soft, black eyes; and pointed ears. Clearly a Dark Elf. She was smiling at Kyrie: a warm, satisfied smile; and her pose was completely relaxed, despite Kyrie’s clear panic. Her long, pale dress seemed to float around her – until Kyrie realized it was from the breeze that was coming in through the window.

The woman kept smiling at Kyrie. “I had a feeling you were awake,” she said amiably, watching as Kyrie looked around yet again for another way out of the room. “Your fever is gone, and your pulse was wild. I would imagine that’s from not knowing what’s going on.”

There were no other ways out of the room, and Kyrie didn’t want to attack the woman outright. After all, she hadn’t harmed her – and Kyrie needed to find out where her things were.

“I don’t blame you, you know,” the woman went on. “Waking up in a strange place, people you don’t know … but it goes both ways, you know. I don’t know you either.”

She was clearly asking for a name, but Kyrie could play the ‘stupid’ game for as long as she wanted. She had managed over three years with her White Elven teacher, after all. She simply stared at the woman instead.

The woman laughed. “Well, that tells me something too,” she said, referring to Kyrie’s silence. “It tells me that you’re more afraid than I am, so I’m probably safe. Shall I tell you, then, how you got here, and where you are?”

Kyrie tried not to look too interested, but since that was something she was dying to know, she failed. Her eyes filled with curiosity, and the woman’s smile widened when she saw it. She moved away from the door, trusting that Kyrie’s need to know would keep her from trying to run away, and moved to sit on the desk on the side of the room away from the bed so that Kyrie wouldn’t feel threatened by her moving too close.

“Well,” she began, “it was about five weeks ago now. My children were out playing with their friends in the forest and suddenly the burst into the house shouting for me. ‘Mother! A body!’ they were yelling. ‘In the forest!’ Well, naturally, I had to go investigate.”

Here she paused a moment before explaining, “I’m a physician, which means that when a body is found dead, I also investigate if it’s a murder or natural death to see if there needs to be a search for a murderer.”

Kyrie nodded despite herself and settled onto the bed, wrapping the blanket around herself for comfort.

The woman continued. “Well, naturally, I went out with them to see what the fuss was about, and there you were – buried under the leaves, it looked like, and fevered as I haven’t seen in ages! Only the Valar know how you made it that far.”

As she spoke, Kyrie felt bits and pieces of her memory coming back to her. A bear attack two weeks after entering Dolerum … she’d killed it, but she’d not gotten away unscathed … infection setting in …

“So I called my husband, and he carried you back here. I had to use every trick I knew to get rid of the infection in those gashes, but eventually the fever broke. Now that was just a few days ago, mind you.”

It explained why Kyrie hadn’t any idea how she’d gotten there. She only remembered a very little bit after her encounter with that bear, and that would have been a while before she’d been taken here, if the season was as late as it smelled like from the window.

“I do have to apologize for one thing, though,” the woman added, her smile fading completely. Her eyes became sad, and she looked as though she might weep. “I … had to do some surgery … you were … quite torn up …”

Kyrie put one hand to her stomach, where the bear had gotten that swipe in. She could feel fresh scars, bumping up above the rest. It didn’t bother her overly much, she had been covered in scars even before that. So why was the woman so distraught?

She looked at the woman quizzically.

The woman cleared her throat and looked away. “I … I’m afraid I wasn’t able to save your child,” she murmured. “And you will never be able to bear children again.”

Kyrie stared at the woman, the gears in her mind grinding to a halt before she mentally reversed what the woman had said. She became lightheaded again, and she grasped at the bedframe to keep from falling over. She swallowed hard, then took a deep breath.

At last, she found her voice.

“I was … with child?”

Her mind made one more attempt to comprehend what the woman had just told her, but again it failed. The shock of it was just too great.

She fainted dead away.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 12:57 am

Location: ???, Dolerum, Arkandia
Year: 28 058 (2558 T.A)
Status: Late Spring

The next time Kyrie woke, she was back under the blanket, lying on her back, though the blanket was only up to her chest. She felt oddly hot and cool at the same time, and it wasn’t for half a minute that she realized that there was something on her forehead – a cool, damp cloth, as she realized upon touching one hand to it. She removed it and set it on the edge of the bed, away from where she was lying. She didn’t like the feeling of being wet like that.

She continued to lie there, simply resting. Her body felt heavy now, unnaturally so, and she wanted nothing more than to lie there forever. Her mind, though, was awake – and racing.

She had been pregnant. She was still trying to wrap her mind around the fact. Three years she had been with the White Elf, and after two years with the licentious wretch she had believed that somehow she would be safe from such a thing. But clearly that hadn’t been the case. And if she had been so little into her pregnancy that she hadn’t even realized that she had been with child, then she would have had to have conceived only shortly before she’d killed him.

The door to the room opened, and Kyrie’s only response was to turn her eyes towards the sound. The same woman she’d spoken with the first time she’d woken walked into the room and closed the door behind her before making her way to the chair next to Kyrie’s bed. Since Kyrie was so still, it seemed as though she wasn’t aware that she was awake: it wasn’t until she spotted the wet cloth on the edge of the bed that she realized that Kyrie had woken.

The two women watched each other for a few minutes in silence, each taking stock of the other. Kyrie was calm now, calmer than she had been the first time she’d woken, her heart rate perfectly normal, and at last, the woman commented, “You’re far calmer than I had imagined you would be.”

Kyrie continued to watch her, her expression unchanging.

The woman smiled at her. “Come now, you needn’t pretend with me. You forget, I know you’re quite capable of speech.” She hesitated a moment, then said, “My name is Lynliss. You’re currently in my home. Usually, I would keep my patients at my clinic, but you’re a special case. I wanted to be able to keep a closer eye on you. I also thought it would be safer. You’re not a full-blooded Dark Elf, and there are some people here who … shall we say … aren’t appreciative of people like you.”

The corner of Kyrie’s mouth turned up in a slight smile. “I’m used to that,” she said, her voice creaking slightly. She cleared her throat. “Thank you. For taking care of me.”

Lynliss’s eyes grew sad again. “I wish I could say I felt I deserved your thanks,” she said softly. “But I failed you. You lost the life of your child, and the possibility of having any others in the future.”

Kyrie just watched her silently, her expression still not changing.

The woman tilted her head slightly. “Still no reaction … you were horrified to learn that you were pregnant in the first place, but you have no reaction to having lost it? To never being able to conceive again?”

Kyrie licked her lips slowly, taking a moment to consider how to respond. “To be honest,” she said quietly, “I’m not sure how to react. I … it was not the first child that I lost.”

The first had technically been a miscarriage – it was during the early days of her captivity in Poleria, and she had been beaten until she had bled out – and the second had been a forced abortion, where she had been force-fed a toxin that would take care of her “problem”. Truth be told, she had, for a while, hoped that the toxin would have left her sterile, so that she would not have to endure the pain again.

So much for that.

She realized suddenly that the physician was looking at her through pity-filled eyes, and before she thought, she blurted out, “Don’t feel sorry for me for their sakes, they weren’t the products of love, anyways.”

The physician’s eyes grew wide with shock, and Kyrie realized what she’d said. She rolled onto her side, her back to the woman, and put one hand to her mouth. What was with her? Why would she say such a thing aloud? She still didn’t know much about her, and she still didn’t technically know where she was! She didn’t even know if she could really trust this woman, or if she were spying on her for someone, trying to get information from her.

And she had just told her that she’d been raped multiple times.

“Forget I said anything,” she said, her voice muffled by the blanket. “At least now it can’t happen again.”

There was such a long silence from behind her that after a while, she was convinced that Lynliss must have left the room; but when she looked over her shoulder, the woman was still there, her eyes filled with tears.

“Don’t,” Kyrie said in a warning tone. “Don’t cry for me. Please.” Her voice lowered into a desperate whisper. “Don’t … please.”

Lynliss shook her head. “I … can’t not,” she murmured. “You are so young … and to have such a past …”

She reached out to touch Kyrie’s hair, but Kyrie bolted upright and pushed herself backwards, away from her hand, eying it suspiciously.

Lynliss looked at her tenderly. “When is the last time you heard a kind word, or felt a kind touch?” she asked softly. “When is the last time you weren’t afraid?”

A tear fell from her cheek, and as Kyrie watched it fall, she felt her own chin begin to tremble. She took a deep breath, determined to hold herself together. It had been too long – nearly eight years. She had barely reached her eleventh birthday when her parents had decided to make the trip to show her and her brother where they were from. She had barely passed her eleventh birthday when her parents had been killed and she had been separated from her brother, barely eleven when she had been taken into captivity and tortured for a year and a half. At twelve and a half, after already having lost two pregnancies, she had been rescued by the Dark Elves of Dolerum who had mistaken her for one of their own people – and when they had found out the truth, that she was of mixed blood, they had nursed her back to health in a cell and smuggled her off to the White Elf that had taught her everything she knew about weapons, and whom she had killed. No, it had been far too long since she’d been able to trust anyone at all. Since she had not known fear. Since she had been shown any sort of kindness.

The physician was still looking at her with motherly concern, and a second tear fell down her cheek. “You poor, poor child,” she whispered.

Kyrie swallowed hard to try to get rid of the lump in her throat. Tears pooled in her eyes, and she tried to blink them back. She opened her mouth to speak, but she had to clear her throat again before she could croak out, “Kyrie.” She took a deep breath. “My name … is Kyrie.”

As soon as the first tear found its way down her cheek, she knew she had lost the battle. Instead of fighting it, she gave in to her body’s need, and for the first time since her original captivity, she allowed herself to weep.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 12:57 am

Location: ???, Dolerum, Arkandia
Year: 28 058 (2558 T.A)
Status: Late Spring

For three days after finally giving her name to the woman who had saved her life, Kyrie remained in bed, sleeping intermittently, eating at the desk in the room, and seeing no one but Lynliss, the physician. She kept the window open, closing it only during a brief thunderstorm, but she kept away from it, afraid to look outside, and afraid to let others see her from outside.

But after three days, Lynliss announced that it was time for her to leave the makeshift infirmary and at the very least eat a meal with the family.

Kyrie just stared at her.

Lynliss laughed. “Come now. You can’t hide in here forever, and you’ve regained much of your strength. Now you just need to get used to people again. I’m not throwing you out into the world on your own, you’re simply going to sit at the table with my family while we eat a meal.”

Kyrie’s mind was awhirl with excuses. “But – but I’m not properly clean,” she protested.

The physician giggled at her. “Then come and have a proper bath,” she winked at her. “It would be good for you anyways. You haven’t left the room since you got here, and you need it for your health. Sponge baths are not good enough, not for this long.”

“But my clothes,” Kyrie tried again. She had still been wearing night dresses from the physician, even after she had begun to leave the bed, and she still had no idea where any of her things were.

Lynliss held up one hand. “I’ll bring your clothes to you,” she promised. “I can’t say as I like them, but they are yours, and I will return them to you. Clean. After you’ve washed. On the condition that you join us for dinner.”

At that, Kyrie had to pause. She wanted her own things, wanted them desperately. Even if it was just her clothes, it was a start.

Lynliss saw the look in her eye, and she knew she had won.

“I’ll go draw a bath,” she said, rising from the chair. “I’ll be back for you when it’s ready.”

Kyrie was no ingrate, and when an hour later Lynliss was back to get her for the bath, she went willingly. As she sank to her chin in the steaming water, she couldn’t stop the smile that crossed her face. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d been in a tub big enough to fit her entire body, and the water was so hot that she felt her muscles relaxing the very moment she was submerged.

As it was, she didn’t leave the bath until the water was cold – nearly two full hours later.

As she was drying off, Lynliss came in, and she wrapped the large towel around herself before turning towards the physician. Her face was expressionless, unchanging even when she saw that the woman had brought her clothes to her.

“Dinner is as soon as you’re dressed,” Lynliss told her, setting the clothes on the edge of a small table. “We’ll be waiting for you.”

She smiled. “And the sooner you come, the warmer the food will be.”

Kyrie only blinked, but her mouth began to water. She hadn’t had warm food since she’d been here, nor on her travels – not since she’d left Jielam. How was it that Lynliss always knew exactly what to say to get the reaction that she wanted from Kyrie?

She finished drying quickly and pulled her clothes on. She took a moment to run her fingers over the supple leather, loving the feel of wearing her own clothes again. She also felt much cooler: the night dresses she’d been wearing, while thin, had covered her head to toe. But now, in her own – rather skimpy – clothes, she felt as though she had full ability of movement, as well as the ability to keep cool.

She also took the moment to brush her extremely short hair (she needed it cut again, it was starting to tickle her ears and neck, she decided, looking into the mirror) and put on the leather cord she always wore around her head, carefully positioning the crimson stone just in front of her right ear.

Her instinct to hide from the people she knew were on the other side of the bathing room door was gnawing at her, but her desire for some freshly prepared hot food overcame her anxiety, and after hanging her wet towel over a rack on the wall, she opened the door slowly. She was nervous about this. She had no idea how to act around people. Lynliss was different, she was easy to talk to – or rather, impossible not to. But other people? She had no idea.

The voices went quiet as she opened the door, and she stepped out hesitantly. The first person she saw was Lynliss, who was sitting with her chin in her hand and grinning at her widely. She beckoned for Kyrie to take a step closer, and Kyrie did so slowly.

The next person she saw was a girl, black-haired and black-eyed, about Kyrie’s age, and a bit taller. She had her mother’s friendly face, and Kyrie had a feeling that she also shared her bubbly personality.

The next person was another girl, this one about ten or twelve years old, and Kyrie caught her breath. This girl was the same age Kyrie had been when her parents had been killed, and when Kyrie had been taken captive. The sight of her brought back memories, and she felt the blood drain from her face.

The girl noticed Kyrie’s stare, and she looked at her mother, fidgeting uncomfortably. Lynliss smiled and shook her head slightly.

Kyrie blinked and forced herself to look away from the girl.

The only other person there was – presumably – Lynliss’s husband. He had strong features, and his black hair was only slightly shorter than Kyrie’s own. His brown eyes were warm, and his smile seemed to come easily. He nodded at Kyrie, then at an empty chair that was across the table from the two girls.

Kyrie looked back at Lynliss, who laughed softly.

“Come on, we’re not going to eat you,” she teased Kyrie. She patted the chair next to her. “Come. Sit. Dinner is waiting.”

Kyrie nodded and stepped forward, averting her eyes so that she couldn’t see the way the children were staring at her. She had guessed from the way Lynliss always dressed that her clothes were different from this country, but despite how long she had worn the same clothes and how comfortable they felt, she was just now beginning to feel how exposed her body really was, how many scars she had accumulated over the years, including her most recent – and obvious – ones.

As she sat down, Lynliss began to introduce everyone.

“Kyrie, this is my family,” she began. She motioned to the first girl. “My eldest daughter, Lara. My second daughter, Gwen. My husband, Leo.”

Kyrie’s eyes flickered from one to the next as they were introduced, and she nodded slightly at each one.

“Everyone, this is Kyrie,” Lynliss continued, taking Kyrie by surprise.

“Hello, Kyrie,” Leo said warmly. “Welcome to the family.”

Kyrie stared at him as the welcome was echoed by both of the girls. “Family?” she repeated hoarsely.

Leo chuckled. “Lynliss didn’t tell you, did she?”

Kyrie looked at Lynliss, her brow furrowed in confusion. “Lynliss?”

Lynliss smiled innocently. “As long as you’re here,” she said, her tone disallowing argument, “you’re going to stay with us. One of the family.”

Kyrie opened her mouth to protest, but before she could say anything, Leo said, “Let’s begin, shall we?”

Lynliss distributed the food – steaming mashed potatoes, a large venison roast, gravy, corn, beans and applesauce. There was a bottle of wine on the table, a deep red wine, and Kyrie wondered what it tasted like. She’d only ever had water and, the odd time, beer. Her parents had used to drink wine, but she’d been too young for it before they’d died.

“Now Kyrie,” Lynliss said as she handed her a fully loaded plate, “I want you to take it easy. Don’t eat more than you can handle. If you leave food on the plate, that’s fine. If you overdo it, you’re going to make yourself sick.”

Kyrie blinked and nodded slowly. She picked up her fork, holding it like a foreign object, studying it before she put it into her food.

At first, the meal was silent, until at last Gwen looked at her older sister and asked, “Did you find what you were looking for? Something to paint?”

Lara smiled at her sister and nodded. “Downstream, there’s that waterfall. The spring melt is long over, so the rocks are above the surface again. It’s perfect.”

Kyrie looked at Lara, and she couldn’t hide the curiosity from her face. Lara saw it, and she smiled shyly. “I paint,” she explained. “The walls in the house, the doors, the paintings on the walls … I’ve been painting for as long as I can remember.”

Kyrie smiled ever so slightly. “Your work is very good,” she murmured.

Lara’s smile widened. “Thank you.”

The conversation after that was slightly more comfortable, though Kyrie was still very quiet. It wasn’t so easy to break a habit of many years, after all. But by the time the meal was over and she returned to bed, she couldn’t help but wonder if she might enjoy eating with the family a bit more often.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 12:57 am

Location: Winum, Dolerum, Arkandia
Year: 28 058 (2558 T.A)
Status: Early Summer

For two weeks, Kyrie had been joining the family every day for dinner, though she still had breakfast and lunch in bed and spent quite a bit of time sleeping. But over time, she grew more and more comfortable with Leo and the girls, to the point where she would even play games with them after dinner was over. She was beginning to enjoy her life, beginning to feel comfortable – until one day she realized something that disturbed her.

It was during one of her daily baths that she noticed. She had finished washing and was in the process of drying off. She’d spotted a fly on one of the walls, and her first reaction was to kill it. She picked up the bar of soap – something that would kill the fly no matter what part of it hit it – and flung it at the insect.

Too slow.

By the time the bar hit the wall, the fly was gone.

Kyrie stared at the wall incredulously, then looked down at the bar of soap on the floor. She walked to it and picked it up, examining it. The corner of it was barely dented. She stared at it for a moment before returning it to its place on the edge of the tub. Then she stood in front of the mirror and stared at her reflection. She raised one arm and flexed it, watching her muscles, then did the same with the other arm, and then did a few lunges on each leg.

After only that much, she knew that she had been right.

She had lost most of her muscle mass during her time in bed.

She dressed slowly, her mind whirling. She calculated how long she had been there. Five weeks under the fever, three weeks before meeting the family, two weeks since then … totalling ten weeks.

Ten weeks.

Most of which had been spent immobile.

She hit her wrist against her forehead. Stupid! Of course she had lost muscle mass, she’d been sitting and doing nothing for almost a full season!

She finished dressing and headed out of the bathing room, hoping that Lynliss was somewhere in the house. She found her very quickly in the kitchen, working on preparing lunch.

“Lynliss!” she exclaimed, bracing herself against the doorway.

The physician jumped, startled by Kyrie’s sudden appearance, and she looked up at her anxiously. “Are you all right?” she asked. “Did something happen?”

Kyrie didn’t quite know what to say – in fact, was at a loss for words. “My – my arms – my – muscles – I’m – I’m –”

“Weak?” Lynliss supplied for her, calming down. She dried her hands on a towel. “I’m surprised it took you this long to notice. I have to be honest, when you were first brought in, I was amazed at how strong you seemed … but lying in bed as you’ve been doing, you’ve been growing weaker. More quickly at first, it’s slowed down recently, but … Kyrie, you haven’t left the house, and you’ve barely left your bed. You really oughtn’t to be so shocked by it.”

Kyrie felt as though she were going to cry again. “But- but I- I worked so hard,” she squeaked, her eyes wide and filled with shock. “For – for years!”

“And you’ll have to do so again,” Lynliss replied simply. She looked at Kyrie for a moment, then sighed and moved to stand in front of her, putting her hands on her shoulders. “I … haven’t wanted to mention this,” she said softly, “but … it’s time for you to leave the house. I don’t mean get out, leave, I just mean … go outside, get some fresh air … some exercise …”

Kyrie looked anxiously at the window. There were so many people out there …

“They’ll have to get used to you eventually,” Lynliss pointed out to her, moving back to her lunch preparations. “And I promise you, you’ll be safe.”

Kyrie turned and leaned against the doorway, her eyes still on the window. “But I don’t even know anything about this place,” she said softly. “I don’t even know where I am … the country of Dolerum, yes, the land of my father’s people, yes … but … beyond that …”

Lynliss put her hands into a large bowl of ingredients and began to mix it. “Our city’s called Winum,” she replied. “It’s sizable enough, I’d say … maybe three miles both ways.”

That was indeed a large city, Kyrie mused. “Government?” she asked.

“Leo’s magistrate,” Lynliss answered the question. “We’ve a sheriff and a few soldiers as deputies. For now, I would suggest you go out with either Lara or Gwen, just until you get to know the area. Word went out a while ago already that we’ve adopted you into our family, so you won’t be bothered. And if you are, you just tell us and we’ll take care of whoever it is who’s bothering you.”

She smiled at Kyrie over her shoulder. “It really is a beautiful city. I think you would enjoy it. And there’s plenty to do, so you shouldn’t get bored.”

Kyrie was still watching the window. “Room to run?” she asked. “Practice?”

Lynliss blinked at her. “Practice?” she repeated. “Practice what?”

“With my weapons.” Kyrie turned her eyes from the window and looked at the physician. “If I can have them back, that is.”

Lynliss’s eyes grew suspicious, and she watched Kyrie silently for a moment. Kyrie could see the battle going on in her eyes. Did Kyrie want to leave? Was she going to hurt someone? Could she be trusted with so many weapons?

“Lynliss,” Kyrie said quietly, turning to face the woman squarely, “look at me. Really. Look at me. I need my weapons. I need to practice with them. I gave my life – my body – to a man for three years of my life so that I could learn to use them. So that this” -she gestured towards her myriad of scars- “could never happen to me again. If I don’t have my weapons, if I forget how to use them, if I even get out of practice with them … then all of it, even losing the chance to ever have a child, will all have been for nothing.”

She felt desperation creeping into her voice, and she fought to control it. She didn’t want to frighten Lynliss, she only wanted to convince her of how important this was to Kyrie.

Still, she could see that the physician wasn’t convinced.

“Lynliss, look at me,” she said again. “You saw how I came in here. Of all people, I know I’m in no shape to go anywhere, and why would I want to do anything to hurt you, or your family, or your family’s reputation? You took me in, you taught me that not everyone is trying to hurt me. You showed me that love still exists in this world. That I’m worth more than what I had always thought. That even though my parents were killed, and I have no idea if my brother is dead or alive, that I’m a part of a family. I would never do anything to betray you, to hurt you. Ever.”

Lynliss looked as though she was considering Kyrie’s words, and she pursed her lips thoughtfully as she turned back to kneading the dough she was mixing. For several minutes, she was silent, until the dough was ready and she put it on a stone and stuck it into the fireplace oven. Then she brushed her hands together and turned back to Kyrie. Still, it was another moment before she spoke.

“I must be honest,” she said quietly, unusually serious. “This is a peaceful city, for the most part, and no one wears weapons openly. As much as it will cause a commotion for you to be out and about with everyone, if you have your weapons with you, people will not trust you, and may even pick fights with you. As you said, you’re not at your full strength – it would be bad for you to fight with someone, but it would be worse if they were to hurt you.”

“That’s why I need to practice,” Kyrie replied, sounding patient but feeling far from it. “I won’t let myself be defenseless again. I won’t. I can’t … I can’t go through that again.”

Her voice was quiet at the end, and her eyes became unfocused. Thinking back to her years in captivity, she began to feel uncomfortable again. She fidgeted, rubbing her arms as if she were cold, and pressed herself against the door frame as if trying to hide.

Lynliss’s eyes grew sad, and she looked at Kyrie the same way she had that day that Kyrie had admitted her past abuses to her. She washed her hands in a basin of water and dried them again on the towel, then stood next to Kyrie and put one hand on her shoulder.

“I will see what I can do about finding an indoor area for you to practice,” she murmured, “safely out of the eyes of the people. If you would like to run, then I would recommend running around the city … it’s about twelve miles. I know it’s a lot, but you could work up to it. But when it comes to your weapons, I think it would be best if someone else carried them for you while you’re in sight of citizens.”

Kyrie blinked, startled from her stupor by the physician’s words. She bowed her head respectfully.

“Thank you,” she said softly. “I’ll try to do as you ask.”

Lynliss watched her a moment longer, then smiled faintly at her. “Not until after lunch,” she said, suddenly cheerful again. “Come. It’s nearly ready, help me finish.”

Smiling back, Kyrie complied readily.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 12:58 am

Location: Winum, Dolerum, Arkandia
Year: 28 059 (2559 T.A)
Status: Mid-Spring

A full year now, Kyrie had spent with the family of the magistrate and the healer in the city of Winum. A full year that was the most peaceful she could remember. After her talk with Lynliss, she’d had her weapons returned to her, and she had stored them in her bedroom where she could care for them as they needed until she was able to practice with them indoors. She had begun to run daily, starting with around the yard, moving to around half the city, and eventually around the entire city – and now, a year later, her body back to the strength she’d originally had, she ran twice around the city each day, a minimum of twenty four miles.

The bedroom which had become her own now had its own paintings on the walls: paintings that Lara had painted of Kyrie as she’d trained herself, whether with her weapons or as she ran or did other drills. The house had truly become Kyrie’s home.

The only time she felt any sort of discomfort in her life was when one of two things happened: either when she had nightmares about the past nine years of her life, or when the people of the city treated her as an outsider. Even now, after a year, there were many people who had refused to accept her due to the human blood that flowed through her veins. She had been ignored, jostled around (not that she could accuse anyone of doing it on purpose, they had been careful to make it seem accidental), denied some privileges, teased, and other things – but no one had laid a physical hand on her, and for that fact alone, she was grateful.

But as comfortable as her life had become, she knew that she couldn’t stay. The time had come for her to move on. Not permanently, she would return; but she had some business to attend to, business that would not wait.

After breakfast, she accompanied Lynliss to her clinic, using the time to talk to her.

“Lynliss,” she began hesitantly as they left the house, “I’m afraid I have to leave for a while. Not for a long time, just … for a bit.”

Lynliss looked over at her. “Oh?”

Kyrie nodded, returning the woman’s gaze. “I have unfinished business that I need to take care of. Time is pressing.”

Lynliss was quiet for a moment. “You … haven’t mentioned anything about this before,” she said slowly.

“I know.” Kyrie took a deep breath. “It’s … from a long time ago. A very long time ago.”

Lynliss looked at her, puzzled, and Kyrie knew it was time: time to let the woman know what had happened to her, the path that had led her to the physician’s doorstep.

“Do you have some time?” she asked. “I know you’re on your way to the clinic, but … afterwards, perhaps?”

Lynliss touched Kyrie’s elbow lightly. “I can see that whatever this is,” she said softly, “it’s serious. The clinic can wait. Come, we can talk in your training arena. No one can overhear us there.”

Kyrie smiled, but her heart was pounding. All the way there, she had to fight to keep it from going wild. Once they were inside, Kyrie barred the door as she always did so that she wouldn’t be interrupted. Then the two women took a seat in the middle of the arena floor, far from the walls, and far from anywhere where people might try to listen in.

Before she began, Kyrie took a deep breath to calm herself. She glanced at Lynliss and cleared her throat.

“My father, as I’ve told you, was from the country of Dolerum,” she began. “My mother was from Poleria.” She shook her head. “From what I’ve seen of the relationship between the two countries, I have no idea how they met, let alone how they fell in love. But they did, and they left, and settled in the land of Caras Galadhon.”

“Caras Galadhon?” Lynliss asked curiously.

Kyrie smiled. “It’s a country in the far west of Arkandia. It’s a place where people are free to be who they are, to love whom they will. Dark Elves, Light Elves, Humans, Water Elves, Fire Elves, White Elves – they all live there together, in peace, and many of them have begun families together. There are entire communities of people of only mixed blood, and yet there is no fighting. It’s a wonderful place. It’s where my brother and I were born.”

Lynliss smiled warmly. She had not known that there was such a place in existence. She knew that her husband had lost some of the respect people usually gave him when he had announced that Kyrie was going to join their family, and he had always been well-liked.

“When I was almost eleven,” Kyrie went on, “Mother and Father decided that I was old enough for traveling, as my brother was older than I, and so they decided to show us the countries that they were from. I have no idea if they had been at war before my parents had left or not, but I can only hope not, since it would have been very foolish of them to take us anywhere if they’d known. We passed safely through most of the countries we passed, and at last we reached Poleria, the nearer of the two countries we were going to see.”

Lynliss nodded slowly, her mind working to calculate the year. She knew Kyrie was nineteen now, and if she had been eleven at the time …

She paled. That had been during the worst part of the war.

Kyrie continued on, not seeing the look on Lynliss’s face. “Almost as soon as we were in the country, we were captured, all of us. Mother and Father were killed in front of Khetal and me. They took Khetal off somewhere else, and after that I never saw him again. To this day, I don’t know if he’s dead or alive. As for me …”

She hesitated, her memories bringing her pain again. “I … I was with them for a year and a half, and … not a day went by that … that I wasn’t tortured … somehow,” she said, her voice soft now. She motioned to the scars that covered her body. “Almost all of this came from that time … as did my first two … failed pregnancies.”

Lynliss noticed the tactful way that Kyrie had worded that, but her mind was also still doing the math. By that time Kyrie would only have been twelve and a half years old … She felt tears coming to her eyes, but she blinked them back, putting one hand to her mouth to hide the short gasps that had become her breathing.

Kyrie didn’t notice Lynliss’s reaction, and she kept going. “Finally, I was rescued by Dark Elves from Dolerum who mistook me for a Dark Elf. I inherited more skill from my father than looks, but black hair, ears pointier than a regular human’s, slanted eyebrows … I guess it was enough. They took me to their country – to this country – but when they got a good look at me and realized that I wasn’t fully Dark Elven, I was put in a cell somewhere. I’m not entirely sure where. It wasn’t a full prison – at least, it wasn’t like the Human prison.”

She looked up at Lynliss and smiled faintly. “They took care of me. I mean, considering that I wasn’t one of them, and compared to what I had been through … they took pretty good care of me. They kept their hands off me. They didn’t hurt me. I got two meals a day, a bed with a mattress, a blanket. They kept me a year and a half, until I had more or less recovered – at least physically. Then they gave me the weapons that I still have. They said that they couldn’t train me, but that it was important that I learn all of those weapons, and so they said they would take me to someone who could train me properly.”

Lynliss nodded apprehensively. It sounded as if Kyrie’s life had taken a turn for the better, but she knew that it hadn’t been the case. She knew after all that when Kyrie had shown up here years later, she had been pregnant again, and not by choice. That was never a good sign.

Kyrie began to trace one finger lightly across the scars of her opposite arm, distracting herself from her story so that she wouldn’t be brought too intensely into it as she told it.

“They smuggled me into Jielam, to a man who was a weapons master. He was retired. He lived in a little cabin in the far north, away from anyone else. No one would dare invade his privacy, not if they valued their life. They offered to pay him to take care of me, feed me, and train me, but he refused payment. Said that passing on his knowledge was reward enough. The Dark Elves were surprised, but he had been highly recommended to them, and so they accepted what he said, and they left. They left me with him.”

Lynliss did the math again. That meant Kyrie would have been fourteen, maybe fifteen by that time. Still a child.

“I don’t blame them for what happened to me,” Kyrie went on, a mirthless smile on her face. “How could they have known what he really was?”

The physician reached over and put one hand over Kyrie’s, reminding her that she wasn’t alone, and that she didn’t need to be afraid anymore. Kyrie glanced up at her, and she smiled faintly and put her other hand over Lynliss’s.

“I was with him for three years,” she said softly, her eyes on their hands. “And he kept his word – he trained me to be as skilled with the weapons as he himself was. He even added a few weapons of his own into the mix. Theoretically, I should be able to hold my own against any number of people, with any type of weapon, in any fight. But he also lied to the Dark Elves who had brought me to them. He told them that simply passing on his skill would be reward enough. That part was a lie. He demanded payment, and he got it. Nearly every day, he got his payment. He took it … from me.”

At that, Lynliss couldn’t stop herself, but she shifted closer to Kyrie and put both her arms around her, hugging her close. She couldn’t stop the tears that fell from her eyes. She had known that Kyrie’s life had been difficult, had been a life that no one should have had to live – but she had never imagined it might be anything like this.

Kyrie put one hand on Lynliss’s back and rested her head on her shoulder. “I killed him,” she said softly. “I waited until I thought I was skilled enough, and when he wasn’t expecting it, I killed him. I took everything that I needed, and I left. I made it across the border and kept on going.”

She smiled, finally finding something to be amused about. “Isn’t it funny? I survived a year and a half in captivity with the Humans, and three years with the White Elf … only to be nearly killed by an infection from a bear attack.”

She sat up straight again and looked at Lynliss, taking both her hands and squeezing them slightly. “I owe you my life,” she said, “in more ways than one. You saved me from death … and you showed me that there is life out there. Real life. Happiness. Love. Kindness. I owe you more than I could ever repay you. But there is one more thing that I do have to ask of you.”

Lynliss swallowed hard. “You have to leave,” she murmured sadly.

Kyrie nodded. “Not forever,” she said again, her voice quiet. “But I do have to go. There are people that must pay for what they did. To my parents, to my brother, and to me. They can’t get away with it. I will never be able to be truly at peace until I’ve taken care of it.”

“Kyrie, you have to be careful,” Lynliss warned her. “I understand how you must feel, but our nations are already on very shaky ground with each other … if they find out you came from here … it could be war all over again.”

“I’ll be very careful,” Kyrie promised. “And I’m sure they know that the Dark Elves are not much different from them, that I would be no more welcome here than in Poleria. As far as they’re concerned, I’m a woman with no country. And that’s if they even see me. I made it all the way through Jielam without being spotted, and everything is white there.”

At least in Poleria she would have a slight advantage, in that she was half-human, and so she would blend at least a little better than in Jielam, where the people had white hair and silver skin.

Lynliss nodded slowly. “There’s no way I can talk you out of this, is there?” she said softly.

Kyrie shook her head. “Even if I don’t find and kill those who did this to me … I have to at least see if there’s any word about what happened to my brother. Whether he’s dead or alive … I just have to know.”

Lynliss nodded again and sighed softly. “Then … at least give us a week to help you prepare,” she requested. “At least give us that.”

Kyrie smiled. “I can promise you that,” she agreed. “After all you’ve done for me, I can give you that.”

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Kyrie's Story | 28 057 / 2557 3A + Empty Re: Kyrie's Story | 28 057 / 2557 3A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 12:58 am

Location: Poleria, Arkandia
Year: 28 059 (2559 T.A)
Status: Mid-Summer

Poleria was a land that had lovely summers.

At least, that was what Kyrie thought. Jielam, further north, didn’t get fully dark at night, and was way too dry. Caras Galadhon, the country where she had been born and spent the first half of her life, was warm, but too humid for her tastes. Dolerum was fine, though a bit dry. Poleria on the other hand, was warm without being overly hot, and without the humidity that increased the heat. It rained usually once a week, sometimes twice, so the land was never too wet or too dry, and the air was almost always clear. There was really only one thing that spoiled the country for her, that made her really not like it.

The people.

Yes, they were her mother’s people. And in that way, they were in part her own people as well. But they were killers. They were torturers. And she hated them with every fibre of her being.

She would harm no one that didn’t deserve it, though. Unless she was attacked, she would harm no one but the men who had tortured her. She was no murderer. She would not lower herself to their level.

For three weeks now, she had been in the country. Crossing the border hadn’t been a problem – it had been far easier than getting out of Jielam. Since the war was over, crossing the border was restricted, but at least it wasn’t a death sentence for someone not fully human to be in the country. Once she had entered the country, however, she had disguised herself so that no one would take note of her. It had worked very well – with her short hair and the thick, heavy cloak she had donned, most people had mistaken her for a man, and she had remained unmolested.

And now, she had found it. The place where she had been kept. The prison complex.

It was larger than she had remembered. Then again, she had only been taken between two areas during her captivity, so perhaps that wasn’t so surprising. She had been brought in blindfolded, and had passed out during her rescue, so she had never seen her prison from the outside. Nevertheless, according to the information she’d acquired when she had asked around, this was the only prison camp that had kept prisoners for more than a month at a time. It had to be the place where she had been kept. She spent a few days now scouting it out, observing it from every angle.

There were two main buildings: one that covered approximately an acre of land, and one that covered slightly less than that. While the entire compound was surrounded by ten-food barbed wire fence, the larger of the two buildings was also surrounded by the same fencing, and she assumed that was where the prisoners had been kept. The smaller building had people entering and exiting all day long, people dressed in uniforms, and she guessed that that was where the command center was located.

There were other buildings as well, small ones, the size of houses, and some even smaller. Those ones, she discovered, were for storage of food, water, weapons, and other supplies.

She had everything she needed in the two bags that she carried with her, as well as the belt she’d had made for her back in Winum. One bag had her daily essentials – clothes, food, water, and so on; the second one held smaller pouches of various powders she’d learned to use during her time in Jielam as well as some of her smaller weapons. Her belt held her blades, but it also had leather rings to hold several small vials. These vials held a variety of powders and liquids. She had to be careful with them: while they were all safe on their own, if the vials broke and they were mixed, the results would be catastrophic for her. She would need them for what she wanted to accomplish here.

The first thing she would have to do, of course, was check and see if there were any prisoners left. She didn’t want to hurt any innocents, after all. Then she would destroy the compound, as well as any of the people who worked there, who made their business out of destroying the lives of others.

Kyrie spent three days simply observing the complex, watching it from every angle, learning its routines and its layout. It was obvious they weren’t worried about people getting in: there was only one guard, and he was at the gate that led into the complex. The other three sides were left unguarded, save for the barbed wire that stood ten feet high. Still, that was little more than a deterrent for Kyrie.

On the third night, she made her move. She used two of her smallest knives to saw through the wire of the fence the furthest from anyone’s sight, taking cover in a nearby bush any time she heard a noise. Once she was inside, she donned her black cloak and pressed herself against one of the walls of the larger building to blend with the shadows of the night. She followed the wall along the fence, where there were no people, until she came to a window. She peered inside.

The window was covered in dirt and smudges, but there was a candle lit in the room, and she was able to make out two men: a guard reporting to his superior. She didn’t recognize either of their faces, and she simply filed away the information for later.

Ducking below the window so that she wouldn’t be seen, she continued along the wall until she came to a wooden door. The door was old, not in good repair, and she could see through several cracks between its wooden planks. What she saw was a long hallway that led to an iron door, and along the hallway were several smaller wooden doors.

A chill shot down her spine, and for a moment, she forgot to breathe. She recognized that iron door. She knew what was beyond it. The cells.

For a moment, she felt incredulity stealing over her. She had escaped from these very walls only a little more than half a decade ago. What was she doing, stealing her way back in?

She took a deep breath and steeled herself, gathering her courage. She was on a mission. She had to find out what she could about her brother and then destroy the compound, and anyone who got in her way. That was the reason she had returned here. The only reason.

She pulled two thin pieces of metal from her belt and inserted them into the door’s lock, but even before she began to pick it, she realized with some surprise that it wasn’t locked. With some trepidation, she pushed the door open slightly. The hinges, rusted from years of disuse, creaked loudly in protest, and she stopped immediately, cursing silently. So much for an easy way inside.

Still, she wasn’t out of options. She opened her bag and pulled out a soft cloth, as well as an oilskin pouch that was wrapped around the lard that she sometimes used for cooking while traveling. She wiped some of the lard onto the soft cloth and rubbed it into the hinges to silence the squeaking. It took her a full quarter hour, but the next time she tried the door, it opened with barely a sound. She slipped the oilskin and cloth back into her bad and stepped inside the building.

There were no candles in the corridor, but Kyrie didn’t need them. She knew this place far better than she liked. Of course, it helped that she had inherited her father’s eyesight: the shadows, while they would have been black areas to full-blooded humans, were dark but distinguishable for her.

She stepped carefully through the shards of glass and wooden splinters that littered the floor, making her way to the iron door. She had no intentions of going through it; there were other paths she would prefer to take if they were passable. But she did want to look through the keyhole and see what she could expect on the other side.

She used her cloak, wrapped around her fist, to clear the debris from near the iron door so that she could kneel without worrying about embedding anything in her knees. Then she knelt down and put one eye to the keyhole.

On the other side of the door, the corridor was lit with torches, illuminating the bars of the cells that lined it. Kyrie had to fight down that feeling of coldness again. She had spent a year and a half in one of those cells – the worst year and a half of her life. She forced the feeling away and instead of focusing on it, she looked for indications of what else was there.

At the far end of the corridor, a single guard kept watch. He stood, motionless, facing the cells, but Kyrie could see on his face how exhausted he was, how little he was actually paying attention. She was glad of that – it would make things much simpler. She watched him for a while to make sure he was actually alone. No one came to talk to him, and there were no sounds to indicate that there was anyone else nearby.

At last, Kyrie slipped into the room to the left of the door, her movements silent. There was no door in there except the one she had entered, but she wasn’t worried about that. That wasn’t her purpose in coming in here. She needed the room for cover for the moment. Nothing more. She took a moment to prepare her things for what she was about to do. Then she opened the door to the outside through which she had entered the building, leaving it wide, and slid back into the darkness of the side room. She picked up a brick that was loose in the wall and knelt once more at the keyhole of the iron door. She threw the brick over her shoulder, at the door to the outside, keeping an eye on the guard on the other side of the iron door.

The brick hit the door with a thud loud enough for the guard to hear, and he blinked and started forward. Kyrie backed away from the door and slid into the dark room again just as she heard the sound of a key in the lock. The door opened, and the guard stepped through it. He saw the back door open and stepped forward to check it out. As he passed the room Kyrie was in, she stepped out silently behind him. She grabbed him from behind, one hand over his mouth so that he couldn’t cry out, and in one swift move, she twisted his head hard, snapping his neck. She dragged the body into the dark room and hid it behind a pile of debris. Then she grabbed her things again and returned to the iron door.

There was no one else in the corridor, and she quickly pulled a small pouch from one of her bags. She opened the drawstrings and put one hand inside. She grabbed a small handful of powder and dusted a line along the length of the corridor, right where it met the wall. Hopefully it would remain undisturbed. She was counting on that.

She continued to leave a line of powder along a second and third corridor, making sure each time that there was no one around. It wasn’t until she reached the other end of the building that she finally found another person. After dispatching of him in the same manner as the first guard, she finished spreading her powder. A quick search of the rooms revealed nothing of interest. Finished with the building, she retreated to the door through which she’d first entered before striking a knife against a piece of flint, igniting the powder with the sparks from it. It flared for a moment, and then it began to burn along the line of powder.

As the building began to burn, Kyrie slipped around the corner of the building and back to the fence. Instead of going outside the fence, she got down on her belly and slithered along the base of the fence, towards the other main building. Suddenly there was an explosion, and bricks, mortar and glass flew through the air. There was a shout from the direction of the other building, and then a stampede of footsteps as people raced to put out the fire.

Kyrie took advantage of the chaos and hid herself with her cloak, slipping into the smaller main building. People kept running past her, but they were shouting to each other, and they ignored her.

There was another explosion, and through a window, Kyrie could see that the fire had spread by means of a row of storage crates, and that these had exploded and were showering flaming debris in every direction. Someone was shouting orders, and the people split into two groups: most of them ran towards the fire and were trying to put it out, but some of them were running back to the building that Kyrie had entered.

Kyrie didn’t give herself the time to reflect on her good fortune, that the fire was spreading itself so quickly. She had a few people she wanted to track down if she could, and she wanted to go through as many records as she could to see if she could figure out what had happened to her brother. The fire was the only way she could steal the files without them knowing, and even that was a risk.

Three men suddenly appeared directly behind her, but mistaking her as one of their own, one of them shouted at her, “Hurry up! We have to save our work!”

Another of them shoved her roughly to the side. “Out of the way, you’re slowing us down!” he growled.

Kyrie bit her tongue to keep back a retort, instead taking advantage of their confusion and running after them. This way at least she wouldn’t have to search for the room she wanted: they would lead her directly to it.

They led her to a back room that was full of cabinets, and each of the cabinets seemed to be full to bursting with files.

“Get them out of here!” one of the men ordered. “Quickly!”

“Yes, sir!” the others replied, running for the files. As they began to scoop up files, one of them turned from a cabinet and shouted, “Khetal! This one’s locked!”

Kyrie’s heart skipped a beat. Khetal? That was her brother’s name – not a human name at all!

The man who seemed to be more or less in charge turned and glared at the man who had told him about the locked cabinet. “Then break it open! Those especially are the files we can’t lose!”

A third explosion rocked the building, and Kyrie couldn’t help but wonder briefly what they could possibly have in the facility that would cause so many explosions from what should have been a simple fire. But as the man in charge began to take action, she turned her attention to him to see if her hunch was true.

He shoved the man aside who had complained about the cabinet being locked, braced himself, and used his shoulder to ram the locked cabinet. A single blow knocked it open, but it also knocked the hood from his head. Kyrie bit her tongue to keep from gasping aloud. The man was clearly not fully human – he was like her.

That was enough for her. She didn’t need the files anymore. Let them be destroyed. She didn’t care. She knew where her brother was.

She reached into her belt and pulled out her knives. With all that was going on, she had killed three of the men before anyone could even react. Even then, none of them could stop her: she was a thoroughly trained killer, they were torturers and scholars. It was a matter of seconds before the only ones left alive in the room were herself and Khetal, who was glaring at her, his stance defensive.

“Who are you?” he demanded in a threatening tone, fists clenched.

“Come with me and I’ll tell you,” Kyrie replied, keeping her hood up, remaining hidden.

“And if I don’t?” Khetal challenged her, his muscles tensing as he prepared to fight her.

Kyrie didn’t want to hurt him, but she had no choice. She slid one hand down to her waist and pulled two vials from her belt. Her cloak hid her movements, and her brother suspected nothing. In a swift movement, she flung the two vials at her brother’s feet. There was another explosion, this one smaller, and Khetal looked at instinctively. He let out a cry as he was temporarily blinded, his feet and legs burned by the small blast. Kyrie darted forward and spun around, bringing the blade of her hand down on the small of Khetal’s neck. Like a rock, he slid to the floor, unconscious. Without hesitating, Kyrie picked him up and slung him over her shoulders. With little more than a glance, she headed out the back door of the building, ignoring the fire that was now burning in the file room.

Dodging behind trees and crates, Kyrie made her way back to the hold where she’d infiltrated the facility, doing her best to ignore the heat of the raging fires. She shoved her brother through, followed after him, picked up him again and headed back into the trees.

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Kyrie's Story | 28 057 / 2557 3A + Empty Re: Kyrie's Story | 28 057 / 2557 3A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 12:59 am

Location: The Forests of Poleria, Arkandia
Year: 28 059 (2559 T.A)
Status: Mid-Summer

Night had fallen the day after the fire and her abduction of her brother. Kyrie had put many miles behind them since then, carrying her unconscious brother the whole way. She’d used one of the vials of liquid for that. As much as she hated to do it, it was necessary – if her brother was working with the humans who were running the facility, she didn’t know if she could trust him or not. She had bound his ankles together, his wrists bound behind his back, and tied him to a tree, making sure that none of the rope ends were anywhere the tips of his fingers.

Midsummer though it was, the night was cool; and so that she could keep her fire as low as possible, she had covered her brother with a blanket. She had only her cloak to keep her warm because of it, but she didn’t mind. With the cowl up, she was warm enough. She’d lived in the cold land of Jielam long enough that she actually preferred to be a bit cool.

At the moment, she was cooking a small meal over the fire. The fire was barely large enough to do much good, but it was better than nothing. While she waited for her meat to cook, she munched on some nuts.

Suddenly her brother began to stir, and she looked over at him, watching him curiously and warily. His head bobbed once, twice, and then he raised his head and blinked groggily. A soft moan escaped his lips, but when he tried to put one hand to his head, he found he couldn’t move, and he shook his head instead to clear it.

Kyrie kept watching him, motionless and silent, as he looked around to get his bearings. He coughed lightly, then shook his head again and stared at Kyrie. He kept blinking as if clearing his vision (which he would probably have to do, after being knocked out with the liquid in her vial).

“Who are you?” he asked in a rasping voice. He coughed again, then continued on, stronger. “Why have you taken me? What do you want from me?”

Kyrie continued to stare at him, trying to read him. See something in his expression. Hear something in his words. Something that would tell her something about him.

“You started the fire,” he accused her, keeping his voice level, though his tone was angry. “You destroyed … years of work!”

Kyrie turned to the fire and flipped her meat as if she didn’t care.

“Why did you leave me alive if you killed the others?” her brother demanded. “I’m not much good to you, I can promise you that. You won’t get much ransom for me. I have nothing of value, either on my person or at the station.”

“That’s where you’re wrong,” Kyrie replied, keeping her back to her brother. “You have no idea how – valuable – you are.”

She threw his own word back at him, its meaning fitting the situation even if he didn’t realize it.

When she spoke, he could hear that it was a female voice, and it made him pause. He had no idea what was going on, but learning that she was a woman was a clue, and he wanted to think about it before saying anything more.

Kyrie just let him think. She was hungry, and her food was nearly done. She knew her brother was probably hungry as well, but she wanted to find out more before she gave him food. What she learned would determine how he received it – hand fed, still bound because she couldn’t trust him, or if he would feed himself because she felt safe enough to let him free.

He kept staring at her, his expression growing more frustrated and confused by the moment, until at last he burst out, “I still don’t understand. I’m of no value to anyone. Any of the others could have done the research I did. Why am I so valuable?”

Kyrie looked over at him. “What kind of research do you do?” she asked him.

He laughed. “Come on, are you serious? You destroy an entire research division, kill most of the researchers, kidnap one of their leaders, and you don’t even know why?”

Kyrie shrugged. “I know why I did it. What I don’t know is what was being researched.” She rolled her eyes, her back to her brother so that he couldn’t see. “You know what? I don’t even care. It doesn’t matter. Not to me.”

He stared at her, his expression a mixture of incredulity and frustration. He was proud of his work, and that she would dismiss it so easily – after destroying it, no less – rubbed him the wrong way, especially since he’d thought that to be the reason she’d taken him.

“Well then, since you asked,” he said irritably, “we were researching a disease that seems to only attack people of mixed blood.”

That caught Kyrie’s attention. She looked over at her brother, the fire reflecting in her eyes. “You seem to have a particularly strong bond to your work,” she commented.

He set his jaw. “The disease took my sister from me. It’s all I have left to live for.”

Kyrie stared at him. “What?”

“You heard me.” He swallowed hard, and even in the darkness he couldn’t hide the tears that sprang to his eyes. “The disease took my sister from me seven years ago, and since then I’ve been doing everything I can to prevent it from taking others.”

Kyrie’s eyes narrowed. “And where are the people you’re researching on?”

“All dead.” He looked away, angry now.

Kyrie nodded, then asked, “And if you’ve been working with these people who have this disease for seven years, and it affects only those who are of mixed blood, then how did you escape the disease yourself?”

His head whipped around to face her and he opened his mouth in protest. “How did you-”

“Don’t ask stupid questions,” Kyrie interrupted him. “In fact, just don’t be stupid. You honestly think all of those people there died of some disease? A disease that only attacks people of mixed blood? And that you could be with these people for seven years, and that it wouldn’t affect you? You, who are of both human and Dark Elven blood?”

Her brother was angry now, just about shaking. “Don’t you dare question me,” he hissed threateningly. “You have no idea what I’ve been through. This disease is the most deadly-”


Her brother blinked, taken aback by her simple statement. “What?”

Kyrie glared at him. “Horseshit. There is no disease. You’ve been wasting your time, and they’ve been making a fool of you.”

The colour rose in her brother’s cheeks, and his eyes flashed dangerously. “Don’t – you – dare,” he hissed furiously. “My sister-”

“It’s horseshit,” Kyrie said again. “There is no disease, and I can prove it to you. Right here, right now. I can prove it.”

Her brother glared at her. “Then do it,” he ordered her. “Right now. Prove to me that there’s no disease.”

Without hesitating, without taking thought about what possible patrols might be in the area, Kyrie added wood to the fire so that there was some more light. When it was bright enough that her brother would be able to see clearly, she untied her cloak and whipped it off.

“Is this proof enough, Khetal?” she challenged him, watching as his expression changed from a look of anger to a look of incredulity. “Here I am, alive and well – no thanks to the poisons that those humans fed me for a year and a half. The poisons that would have killed me if I hadn’t been rescued. The poisons that ended the second of my pregnancies when I was only twelve years old. The poisons that were given to me by the same humans who caused me to be with child, the men who gave me these scars, who submitted me and so many more like me to so many tortures day after day after day, until days lost their meaning and life lost every appeal.”

She stepped closer to him, and now she was the one who was furious, while he looked at her in stunned disbelief and hope.

“The same humans,” she just about spat at him, “that you lived and worked with for seven years. The same humans that murdered our parents, right before our eyes.”

The colour had drained from Khetal’s face. “Kyrie?” he asked in a strangled whisper.

Kyrie swallowed hard, trying to control her anger. “How could you ever trust them, Khetal?” she asked him in a low tone. “You watched as they killed Mama and Papa! You tried to fight against them! How could they turn you? How? How could they possibly have convinced you that there’s some sort of disease that only affects halfbloods? If that were the case, Caras Galadhon wouldn’t exist! How could you have been so stupid?”

Her brother was at a loss for words, and he could only stare at her, mouth agape.

Kyrie knelt in front of him, looking up at him. “How?” she asked him, almost in a whisper. “I just don’t understand … I need to understand. How could they have turned you so that you would work with them?”

“It … was you,” her Khetal replied softly, a tear slipping from the corner of one eye. “They said you’d died of this disease … there was no one person that I could punish for your death, so I threw myself into destroying the disease that had killed you … they said they were working on it. That they had seen it before, that halfbloods had died …”

“It was no disease,” Kyrie told him again, softer now. She sat on the ground next to her brother and leaned closer to him, looking into his eyes. “It was only poison … if anything they were looking for an antidote.”

Khetal swallowed hard. “And I got so used to calling them ‘test subjects,’ I never even thought about it.”

The two stared at each other in silence. Tears flowed unchecked down Khetal’s cheeks, and even Kyrie was having difficulty keeping herself calm. After a few minutes, Kyrie remembered her meal and turned back to the fire to take off the meat. It was burnt by now, but she’d had worse. She cut it into small pieces before moving back to sit beside her brother again. As she sat down, her brother said, “Your scars … they’re … all from the facility?”

Kyrie leaned back so that her stomach was more exposed. “All but these three,” she said, indicating the scars left behind by the bear. She held out one of the pieces of meat, and her brother opened his mouth to accept it. She watched him eat it, her eyes sad. “If you knew what they had put me through …”

“I’d have never joined them,” he said fiercely. “Never! If I’d known the truth about the research, I would never have taken part of it!”

Kyrie gave him another piece of meat before taking one herself. “What are you going to do now?” she asked him hesitantly, not entirely sure she wanted to hear the answer.

Khetal set his jaw. “You’ve already done what I wish I could do now. Destroy that place. Get rid of the people who made it, who tortured you. To be honest … I’d never thought of doing anything beyond that.”

He looked at her, and his expression was one of deep shame. “I … I know I haven’t any right to ask this, but … can I come with you? Shades, Kyrie, everything I’ve done since we were captured, I did for your sake, and now that I know you’re alive, I couldn’t go without you now!”

Kyrie arched one eyebrow at him. “You really are stupid,” she told him flatly, though she was smiling slightly. “If I didn’t want you to come with my, why would I have come back here? Why would I have gone to the trouble of starting a fire, just so I could get to the files and see if there was any information about you? Killed those people? Well,” she amended, “I probably would have killed them anyways, after what they did to me.”

Khetal didn’t know what to make of that comment, whether to smile or be afraid, and he simply stared.

Kyrie smiled at him. “Come on, you really think I’d let myself stay as helpless as I was back then?”

“I guess not.” Khetal ventured a small smile.

Kyrie smiled at him again, then gave him another piece of the meat. “Tired?” she asked him softly. “I’m sorry for keeping you drugged … I just didn’t know what to expect when you woke up.”

Khetal shrugged one shoulder. “Tired, sure, but … after seven years, Kyrie, sleep can wait. I want to know what happened to you. Everything.”

“Everything?” Kyrie arched one eyebrow at him again, then put the last piece of meat in his mouth and moved to untie his hands and ankles. “That’s going to take a while.”

“If you think I’m going to leave you again, you’re insane,” he told her seriously. “Sleep can wait. I have you again.”

Kyrie finished untying his hands and watched anxiously to see if he would try to escape, if it had been an act to get her to trust him so she would untie him. But the only thing he did was turn and hug her tightly.

“Now … everything,” he told her.

Kyrie smiled widely and hugged him back, happier than she could ever remember being in her life. “Come to the fire.”

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 12:59 am

Location: The shore of Arkandian Bay, Poleria, Arkandia
Year: 28 059 (2559 T.A)
Status: Mid-Summer

Within four days, Kyrie and Khetal were halfway to Dolerum. They were traveling along the coast of the Bay of Arkandia, which would take them into Dolerum with the greatest amount of safety. It also helped that there was lots of water, since Kyrie’s flask had run out days previous. It also meant that for the first time since she’d arrived in Poleria, she could wash herself.

When she returned to their fire after a midnight swim, Khetal was tending it carefully. He glanced up when he heard her return, then blushed and looked away again immediately. “Have you no sense of modesty?” he asked her, reaching for a blanket and holding it up to her.

Kyrie was still naked from her swim, and dripping with water. “After all I’ve been though, you expect me to be?” she asked him, taking the blanket and wrapping it around herself. “Besides, it’s the middle of the night, and I don’t have any more clothes. What do you expect?”

“Then at least take the blanket with you and leave it by the water so you can wrap yourself when you come out,” he told her flatly.

“And risk it being seen?” She arched one eyebrow. “Thanks, but no.”

Her brother stared at her incredulously. “You’re willing to go out there naked, without bringing anything with you, and don’t care who sees you, but you don’t want your blanket to be seen?”

“It can get stolen, I can’t,” Kyrie replied simply. She sat down next to him. “What’s for dinner?”

“We already ate,” he pointed out.

Kyrie laughed. It felt amazing to be able to feel this way, even if they were in danger if they were found. “So what, we keep going then?” she grinned at him.

“I think we should,” Khetal nodded. “The further we get, the better. I want to get out of here. It’s not safe anymore. Even if they don’t suspect arson at the facility, if we’re found here it will still look bad. Especially as I’m fairly well known now.”

“Yes,” Kyrie rolled her eyes. “Because you had to go and be a genius for them.” She put one arm around his shoulders and hugged him lightly. “But it kept you alive.” She smiled at him again.

He shrugged out from under her arm. “Get some clothes on.”

She laughed again. “Fine.” She stood up and grabbed her clothes, then turned back to her brother. “You know,” she grinned at him, “I really don’t think I can tell you how happy I am that we’re back together. When I left Dolerum, I didn’t even think you were alive, let alone that I would find you.”

Khetal smiled back at her. “I know. I feel the same.”

Kyrie’s eyes sparkled softly in the firelight, and then she turned and vanished into the shadows to get dressed again.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:00 am

Location: Winum, Dolerum, Arkandia
Year: 28 059 (2559 T.A.)
Status: Mid-Summer

The sun was setting when Kyrie returned to Winum with her brother, and that pleased her. It meant that the streets would be fairly empty, and that she wouldn’t have to worry about how others would react to Khetal. They tolerated her, after two years of her presence, but she didn’t know how they would accept her brother.

They did pass a few people on their way to the magistrate’s house, but no one spoke to them. Both of them were carrying their cloaks, so they weren’t hidden from sight, but still, Kyrie did see a few people giving them strange looks as they passed through the streets.

She knocked on the magistrate’s door before opening it, giving them some warning that the door was going to open so that they wouldn’t be as surprised, and then she stepped inside, motioning for her brother to follow her.

“Hello,” she called out, smiling widely as she stepped into the living room.

“Kyrie!” Gwen shouted from the dining room. There was the sound of chairs scraping against the floor, and Gwen and Lara came rushing into the room, their parents following more sedately. The girls both hugged Kyrie, and Lynliss watched, her fact etched with relief.

Kyrie hugged the girls back. “Yes, I’m back,” she grinned at them. She turned to Lynliss and smiled wider. “I told you I’d be all right.”

Lynliss laughed softly. “You did. And I see you’re not alone. You found your brother?”

Kyrie grinned and released the girls, then joined her brother and took his hand, leading him forward. “Yes. Lynliss, Leo, Lara and Gwen, this is my brother, Khetal. Khetal, my new family.”

Leo smiled and stepped forward to shake Khetal’s hand. “And yours, if it is your wish,” he told him warmly. “You are very welcome.”

Gwen giggled. “Khetal gets a choice? Kyrie didn’t!”

“Khetal is in remarkably better shape than Kyrie was when she arrived,” Lynliss replied dryly.

Khetal looked at Kyrie questioningly.

“The bear,” she reminded him. She’d told him everything on their trip across the country, but she knew that recounting something didn’t mean that it was remembered.

“At any rate,” Lynliss added, smiling again, “you are indeed welcome, Khetal. Come, you two must be hungry! Dinner’s on the table, hopefully still warm. Khetal, I’m afraid we don’t have a room prepared for you …”

“Kyrie can stay with me,” Lara offered, taking one of Kyrie’s bags while Gwen took the other. “Then Khetal can have her room.”

“That’s fine with me,” Kyrie agreed, looking to Lynliss for confirmation.

“For a while,” Lynliss nodded. “But I think – and actually this was Leo’s suggestion, so I should perhaps say we think – that it’s time to expand the house anyways. So that will be fine until we’ve renovated.”

“Why?” Gwen asked, blinking. “Lara’s going to be leaving the house soon, I bet.”


“Seriously!” Gwen turned to her sister. “Haven’t you seen the way Jerome looks at you?”

Lara rolled her eyes. “To be honest, it’s annoying. I have no intentions of going anywhere anytime soon.” She grinned. “Besides, we have someone else to get to know now.”

She winked at Khetal, who blinked and blushed. “Uhh …”

Kyrie grabbed Lara around the middle from behind, making the girl squeal. “Don’t scare him away,” she teased her. “I just found him back again.” She twirled Lara around and set her back on the floor. “Now come on, your mother said dinner’s on the table. Let’s eat!”

Lara giggled and hefted Kyrie’s bag. “Right after we get rid of these.”

Kyrie’s eyes grew wide, and she quickly darted forward and grabbed the bag away from Lara. It startled the girl, who blinked at her in surprise. “I was just going to put it in your room,” she said defensively.

Kyrie swallowed hard. It felt as if her heart were in her throat. She hadn’t meant to panic like that, but the bag Lara had been tossing so carelessly was the bag that held her explosives. If she’d dropped it, that would have been the end of all of them, as well as most of the house.

Her face was red as she clutched the bag to her chest. “Sorry. I … uh …”

Before she could come up with an explanation, however, Lara simply waved the matter off. “Never mind. Come on. We have to put it in my room anyways, I guess.”

Kyrie smiled and put one arm around the taller girl’s shoulders. “Come on, roommate.”

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:00 am

Location: Winum, Dolerum, Arkandia
Year: 28 059 (2559 T.A.)
Status: Late Summer

Four weeks had passed since Kyrie and Khetal had arrived in Winum, and already the renovations on the house were underway. For Kyrie, it had been easy to go back to routine: training early in the mornings, spending time with the girls, helping out where she could. For Khetal, however, things were different: he’d spent seven years working hard, researching what he’d thought was a deadly disease, and now that he knew that had been a lie, he felt lost. Yes, he had his sister back, and he was glad of that; but at the same time, his life was in no way the same as it had been. He had no way to fill his days, no purpose to fulfil.

Kyrie had tried to help him, tried to include him in things, but he was the first to admit that he had no interest in learning to fight, to kill. Leo had spoken with him on an academic level, which Khetal had really liked, and though he had learned a lot, especially about the city, it didn’t give him much of a future since, as a half-blood, he had no political rights there. He couldn’t be an active part of the government, even just to sit in on council and offer advice.

Lynliss had watched him over the course of those four weeks with a mother’s knowing eye, and finally one morning, as the rest of the family left the house to go about their daily business, she asked him if he would stay with her for the day.

“You’ve been here four weeks,” she told him, smiling warmly, “and we’ve not yet had a real chance to talk. You’ve gone along with Kyrie and Leo often enough, now it’s time I got to get to know you.”

Khetal smiled at Lynliss from where he was sitting at the dining room table, about to rise from his breakfast. “I’d like that,” he agreed. He stood up and began to clear the table. “I know you’re a doctor. Kyrie showed me your clinic once, though we didn’t step inside. I must admit, I never know how people will react to me.”

“How have things been so far?” Lynliss asked him. She filled a sink with water to prepare for the dishes.

Khetal stacked the dishes and brought them to the kitchen. “Well enough, I suppose,” he admitted. “I have noticed that Kyrie gets more funny looks than I do … and I don’t get the looks when I’m alone that I do when we’re together. It … boggles me, to be honest.”

Lynliss didn’t look surprised, and Khetal noticed it. When she didn’t answer him, he stepped closer and leaned slightly to look into her face. “Lynliss?”

She smiled at him. “Well, there is a very simple explanation for it. You look more elven than she does. She could pass for human quite easily. You would have to hide yourself almost entirely. Unless you told people that you’re half human, no one would ever know. You will be far more accepted here than she will ever be.”

Khetal blinked. “That’s … not … good,” he said slowly. “I think it might be better that Kyrie not … know that …”

“I’m sure she already does,” Lynliss said dismissively. “Trust me, she has no hopes of truly belonging here. She knows what things are like. She’s fine with it – she has us, and she has you now, and that’s all she needs.”

Khetal stared at her as she started to wash the dishes. “You really think so?”

Lynliss nodded for him to grab a towel to start drying. “She was here a full year before she left to find you. I think I can probably say I know her better than anyone else does. She’s happy here. Infinitely more so now that you’re here. She hasn’t known real happiness since you and your parents first left on the journey to see their homelands. But now she’s happy again. Lost, perhaps, but happy.”


“Think about it.” Lynliss smiled sadly. “Her only goals in training herself were to destroy the place that tortured her so much, and to find you back. She’s done both of those things. Now what? Yes, she’s still training herself, and yes, she spends a lot of time with Lara and Gwen … but beyond that she doesn’t know what to do. And yet she’s happy. She has people she loves, people who love her, a safe place to live … and she has you.”

“I feel the same way,” Khetal admitted softly. “Happy … but lost. I have her again, and it makes me happier than I ever imagined I could be again … but I don’t know what to do with my life either.”

Lynliss thought about that as she kept washing the dishes. “Kyrie told me you were a medical researcher,” she murmured thoughtfully.

He nodded. “Yes. For what I was told was a deadly disease that affected only half-bloods. It was Kyrie who told me the truth – that it was poison, and that she had been subjected to the same poison.”

Lynliss pursed her lips thoughtfully. “She must have been rescued just in time.”

Khetal looked away angrily. He had been there back then, and he’d had no idea. He blamed himself for the way she’d been treated. He knew Kyrie didn’t blame him, but that didn’t stop him from feeling badly about it.

“Be that as it may,” Lynliss continued, “it means that you have experience in medicine. I’m a physician. I’m the first to admit that it doesn’t always keep me busy, but it is a necessary job, even in a small city like this one. And I’ve seen how lost you are. You have an innate need to be doing something to help people.”

It was then that Khetal began to have the same feeling from Lynliss that Kyrie had gotten when she’d first come to live with the family: that the woman had an amazing ability to read people and know what they needed and what they were like.

Lynliss was still not finished.

“What I wanted to say, Khetal, is that I could use your help in the clinic,” she concluded. “If you’re interested, I would be quite happy to allow you to become my aide. Work for me in helping with my patients, and – I hope this especially appeals to you - helping me to develop medicines to more effectively help people who are sick.”

She turned to him and smiled. “It’s true, elves are rarely sick. But when we do contract something, it is usually quite serious. I’m afraid my research abilities are few and far between, and though I have knowledge of plants on their own, I have no idea what would happen if I were to mix any of them. I could really use your expertise.”

Khetal wasn’t sure what to say. “Are you serious?” he asked finally. “You’d do that for me?”

Lynliss laughed. “For you? Honestly, you’d be doing me – and the whole city – a favour.” She grinned at him. “Now, don’t give me a hasty answer right now. I know you want to say yes, but I don’t want you to change your mind later and regret it. So for now, for a few weeks at least, why don’t you accompany me to the clinic, give me a hand, and then in a few weeks I’ll ask you again, and you can let me know if you’re interested in doing that full time?”

Khetal was more grateful than he could say.

“Thank you,” he breathed. “Thank you so- so very much!”

Lynliss laughed. “Come now, you’re nearly as bad as Kyrie. We’re family now. Don’t you ever forget that. No thanks are necessary.”

Khetal set down the dish he was drying and hugged Lynliss. He hadn’t hugged anyone other than Kyrie since he’d been a child, but he couldn’t help himself. He was just that grateful.

Lynliss laughed again, leaning into the hug but not hugging him back since her hands were wet. “All right, now you are as bad as Kyrie. Come on, let’s get the dishes done so we can get to the clinic.”

“You got it,” Khetal chuckled softly, picking up his towel again.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:01 am

Location: Winum, Dolerum, Arkandia
Year: 28 062 (2562 T.A.)
Status: Mid Spring

Nearly three years had passed since Kyrie and Khetal had both become members of the magistrate’s family. The time had brought both of them peace. Khetal had become a full partner for Lynliss as a physician, and she had joined him in his medical research, and together, both of them were progressing rapidly in their work. Word of their medicines was spreading beyond the city, and they were beginning to get patients from other cities as well.

As for Kyrie, she had learned to be content with simply helping Lara and Gwen – who had blossomed into as beautiful a young lady as her sister. She still continued her daily training; she helped Lara with keeping her would-be suitors at bay; and she watched over Gwen as the girl flitted from place to place in search of a craft to take up. Yes, she was content -- but not quite satisfied.

“Lynliss, I’m going to head out for a few days,” she told her adoptive mother as they finished up breakfast one morning. “Just a little trip to clear my head.”

“Everything all right?” Khetal said anxiously, cutting off Lynliss from asking the same question.

Kyrie smiled at her brother. “I’m fine. I’ve just been feeling a bit restless lately. I still haven’t really found anything to keep myself occupied most of the time, and it’s been a while since I’ve gone out.”

“You’re out every day,” Lara pointed out. “You’re always tagging along with one of us.”

“Out of the city,” Kyrie amended. “And that’s my point, I’m always tagging along. I need to find something to keep myself occupied so that I’m not always tagging along with someone. I can’t do that my whole life.” She smiled at everyone who was sitting around the table. “I’ll be fine, really – I just need some time alone to think. That’s all.”

“When do you plan to go?” Lynliss asked her, rising from her seat.

“This morning,” Kyrie replied, pushing her chair back and standing up to help to clear the table. “I’ll help with cleaning up breakfast, help with the dishes, and then I’ll pack and head out. I don’t need any supplies, just to get some of my weapons from the training building.”

Khetal was surprised. “No supplies at all?”

“Don’t need any,” Kyrie said simply. “I only had some when I got you out of Poleria because I was in a hurry. I’m hoping to relax this time, so I’ll have time to do my own hunting.”

“If you’re certain, Kyrie,” Leo spoke up, wiping his mouth with a napkin. “All I can say, Kyrie, is be careful. We all love you and we want you to come back in one piece.”

Kyrie winked at him. “I’m pretty good at that, don’t you worry. I’ll be back by the end of the week.”

Late that same evening, Kyrie was sitting next to a warm fire, a rabbit roasting above it on a spit. Her headband was turned so that the stone was covering one eye. That way, if she needed to look away from the fire, she could flip it from one eye to the other and be able to still see clearly in the dark. She wasn’t expecting trouble, but it was better to be safe than sorry. Few knew it better than her.

She had done quite a bit of thinking today, walking through the woods. About where she had been and where she was going with her life. At the moment, she really didn’t have anything. Yes, she had a family now, but she needed a direction in her life. Something to work towards. Day-to-day living was peaceful, sure, but it was – and she had to admit this reluctantly – boring. She needed something more.

Suddenly from somewhere beyond the firelight, a scream rent the night air. Kyrie jumped to her feet and kicked dirt onto the fire, flipping the stone to her second eye. She stood flat against a tree and pulled a knife from her belt. She held herself defensively, waiting anxiously. Within seconds, she heard rapidly approaching footsteps. She adjusted her grip on the knife, waited a few seconds, and as a shadow ran right past her, she jumped out to stop whoever or whatever it was that was chasing him.

A tall figure ran into Kyrie and nearly knocked her over. In the faint glow of the embers, she saw the glint of a blade, and she reacted instinctively. Ducking to the side, she knocked the figure on the back of the head. He reeled but didn’t go down, and the next thing she knew, she was flat on her back on the ground. The blade flashed again, and she rolled out from under it. The attacker’s blade sank into the ground, and she thrust her own knife into his ribs. He emitted a soft grunt, and then he turned to her again, warily now. Kyrie adjusted her grip again and feinted at the man. As he slashed at her, she ducked to the side and slid a second blade from her belt.

The man stumbled past her, and he was slow in recovering. His breathing was heavy now, laboured, and his free hand was clamped over the wound she’d given him. He coughed, a bubbly, gurgling sound, and wiped his mouth with the back of his knife hand.

Kyrie watched him, her eye narrow. He coughed again and stumbled to the ground, breaking his fall with his hands. He inhaled slowly, his breath gurgling, and tried to crawl forward. He lifted one hand and reached it forward. Kyrie flipped up the eye patch, watching with both eyes now as he fell completely to the ground, twitching slightly until the gurgling noise stopped.

He was dead.

Kyrie let out the breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding and turned to build up the fire again. She lowered her stone eye patch again as she used her boot to knock off the dirt she’d kicked onto her fire, then knelt beside it to feed it some kindling. Just when the flames were beginning to lick at her rabbit once more, she heard footsteps behind her again – this time the soft footsteps of someone trying to approach quietly. They stopped shortly, but Kyrie didn’t look around. She simply kept working on the fire. She was hungry, and it was going to take longer than she had hoped to cook her dinner now.

After the fire was going well again, she squatted on her heels and said quietly, “Feel free to join me.”

For a moment, all was silent, but then there were a few more footsteps. A soft male voice said, “Thank you. For helping me.”

Kyrie flipped her eye patch to the other eye again and turned to look at the person she’d saved. It was a young man, a dark elf, wearing only some pants and a torn shirt.

“You’re welcome,” she told him. She nodded for him to sit. “My dinner will be ready soon, and you’re quite welcome to share it with me.”

The boy watched her for a moment, his eyes filled with suspicion and curiosity, and then he moved slowly to sit. One leg didn’t want to bend, and he slid it forward while lowering himself with his other leg to the ground.

Kyrie felt a pang in her chest as she watched him. She saw herself in him – the same suspicion and distrust that she had felt towards Lynliss when she had first woken in her house. She knew exactly how he felt.

“My name is Kyrie,” she introduced herself, turning back to the fire. She poked at the roasting rabbit. “I was in your place once. I’m not going to ask you any questions – at least, no personal ones. I have only one question at the moment.”

The boy took a deep breath. “Yes?”

She turned back to him. “Do you need any medical attention?”

He blinked at her, surprised by her question. “What?”

She smiled. “I told you I wasn’t going to ask you any personal information. I’ve been in your position. The last thing I wanted to do was tell a complete stranger who I was and how I’d gotten there. But I was grateful for what she did do for me – she took care of me so that my wounds were healed. I’d like to do the same for you.

“Now I noticed,” she went on, nodding at his leg, “that you weren’t bending that leg when you sat down. Are you hurt?”

The boy shook his head. “I’ll be fine.”

She nodded. It was possible it had been an old injury, something that had healed a long time ago, and that had simply left him with a limp. She had just wanted to make sure.

She checked the rabbit once more, just quickly, and then moved to where the dead man’s body was still lying on the ground. She checked over the body, looking for things she could use. He had some coins on him, the knife he’d attacked her with, and a leather flask, and she took all of those things for herself. Then she removed his cloak and headed back to where the boy was sitting.

He was looking at her with a look of mixed amazement and disgust on his face. “You’re going to wear that?” he asked her in disbelief.

Kyrie shook her head. “You are. You’re trying to hide it, but you’re shivering.” She tossed him the cloak. He shied away from it, disgusted that she had taken it from a dead body, and it landed on the ground next to him. After a few minutes of glaring at it, though, he picked it up, shook it out, and slung it around his shoulders. Grossed out he might be, but she was right: he was cold.

When the meat was ready, Kyrie divided it into strips and set them on a piece of cloth. She sat a few feet away from the boy and set the cloth down between them so that they could both eat from it. At first, the boy just looked at it suspiciously, but when Kyrie reached for her third piece, he took one and took a tentative bite. Once he started, he kept eating until he ate too much and had to lie down. Within moments, he was asleep.

Kyrie watched him thoughtfully, still eating, but much more slowly than he had been eating. She was going to have to cut short her time out here, and bring him back somewhere where he could be looked after. Of course, the only place she knew of was Winum, to Lynliss and Khetal. Somehow, though, the idea of cutting her trip short didn’t bother her, not as much as she had thought it might. She wasn’t entirely sure why … she just knew that she wanted to get this boy looked at, get him safe.

She sat cross-legged on the ground and pulled out the pouch of coins that she’d taken from the dead man. Opening it, she poured some of the coins into her hand and held them up to the firelight to examine them.

The coins were silver, all roughly the same size, and stamped with the crest of the White Elves. When she flipped the coins and added up their values, it totalled more than five hundred mari – the largest sum she’d ever seen at once.

She was thoughtful as she slid the coins back into their pouch and tied it to her belt. Why would someone with so much money be chasing a boy who had nothing? One would think it would be the other way around: that he would be trying to get the money from the rich man.

She shook her head. It wasn’t her place to question. She had been pursued as well, and she hadn’t given any information until Lynliss had earned her trust – and that had taken a long time. She wouldn’t press the boy. She would only do what Lynliss had done for her: she would be his friend.

She blinked, suddenly realizing something. For the first time since rescuing her brother, she felt … needed. Important. Was this something that she could do for the rest of her life? Go on random little trips and help those who needed her? She had to admit, with her skill set there wasn’t a whole lot else she could do.

The idea took hold on her, and her mind began to churn. If that was what she wanted to do with her life, to save others from becoming like her, then she would not be spending much time in Winum. Or even Poleria, she realized suddenly. People didn’t need help here only. There were people all over the continent that needed help, she was sure. It was dangerous, but that was what she had trained for, wasn’t it? To protect herself? And if she could protect herself, then she could protect others, just as she had done tonight.

There was one problem though. If she came across someone who needed some real medical attention, she wouldn’t have the skill to treat them. Not yet.

She set her jaw. She would have to talk to Lynliss about apprenticing with her for a while when she returned. She needed to learn a bit about healing.

After that, she would dedicate her life to preventing other people from having histories similar to hers.

Last edited by Nara-pyon on Sat Jul 12, 2014 11:20 am; edited 1 time in total

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Kyrie's Story | 28 057 / 2557 3A + Empty Re: Kyrie's Story | 28 057 / 2557 3A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:01 am

Location: Wolsic, Arkandia
Year: 28 068 (2568 T.A.)
Status: Summer

Wolsic was a small country, one of the smallest on the continent, situated northwest of Poleria. It belonged to the Earth Elves: a brown-skinned race of elves, a people born for hard labour. The other countries that bordered it were Shiezin, on the southwest, land of the Fire Elves; Kelibrae, on the northwest, a land of humans; and Jielam on the northeast, land of the White Elves. It was a hot country, too: most of the country was a mountain range, and some of the mountains were actually active volcanoes.

As much as Kyrie wasn’t a fan of the intense heat, that was her destination.

In the six years since she had made the decision to help those who couldn’t help themselves, she had rescued several people: some from animal attacks, some children whose parents had been killed somehow, and still others who had simply been lost. But over the past few months, she’d heard rumours about some funny business going on up in these mountains. She had come to check it out.

It was quite unsettling to feel the ground shaking beneath her feet every once in a while, and the smoke rising from the top of the volcano she was climbing was very disconcerting. Part of her was worried that the volcano might erupt at any time, though she had done enough research before coming here to know that if a volcano was going to erupt, there would be earthquakes before it happened. Of course, she had never been in an earthquake before either, and for all she knew, that was what the shaking beneath her feet was.

Avoiding people was no trouble here: no one in their right mind went up on the volcanoes without a really good reason. And if she ran into someone, it would probably be the people she was looking for.

A flash of movement caught her eye suddenly, and she whirled around to face it, her stance defensive. She found herself facing a wall of Earth Elves, all of them with their weapons drawn and pointed at her.

She cursed herself silently. She had forgotten where the Earth Elves got their name. They blended so well into the earth that they were completely invisible if one didn’t know they were there.

“State your name and business,” one of the brown-skinned, brown-haired men ordered her harshly.

As skilled a fighter as Kyrie was, she knew when she would not be able to win. She held her hands out slightly to the side, open so that they could see she wasn’t threatening them.

“Kyrie,” she told them calmly. “I’m a researcher. I’ve been looking into volcanoes, learning about them, but what good is hearing and reading when you can see the real thing?”

It was a cover she was prepared for. Inside her bag was a leather portfolio filled almost to bursting with papers of information about volcanoes, as well as several blank sheets for her to add information if she wanted to. She knew the Earth Elves used a different rune system than she did, but she had made sure the information was legitimate anyways, just in case they could read her script. Besides, it meant that she could reread the notes any time and brush up on her knowledge to pass for a researcher.

As expected, the man in charge stepped forward and took her bag from her to look through it.

“You have enough weapons to supply an army,” another of the men said suspiciously, pointing at her belt with his blade.

Kyrie arched one eyebrow. “Traveling through Poleria if you’re not human really isn’t safe. To have any fewer would be suicide.”

The man returned her look. “And you travel alone?”

She gestured toward her many scars. “As you can see, I’ve had some experience in fights.” Sure, none of her scars had technically come from a fight, but they didn’t know that.

The man took his time examining her body. “They don’t look fresh,” he said suspiciously.

“You either improve or you die,” she said simply. “Scars are merely reminders of lessons learned.”

The man nodded appreciatively at her words. It made sense.

The first man held her bag out to her, and she took it and slung it around her shoulders again. “Thanks.”

He nodded at her. “Be careful,” he warned her. “The tremors are strong today, which means one of two things: either there’s an eruption brewing, or else the dragons are on the offensive.”

“Dragons?” Kyrie asked in surprise. “Here?”

He nodded again. “There’s a clan somewhere in this area. Since no one’s found where they live, we assume they might live somewhere inside one of the volcanoes. Either way, be careful. If the tremors get any stronger, get out of here.”

“Thank you,” Kyrie said sincerely, smiling at him. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

As the group headed off, Kyrie turned and continued on the path. Once they were out of sight, she opened her bag again and looked through it, making sure her things were still there. She kept her money and her vials on her belt, so there was no worry for those things, which, to her, would have been the only things worth taking. Sure enough, nothing was missing.

She gasped softly as once again, the ground trembled beneath her feet. She spread her arms to balance herself and continued forward gingerly. She knew it was probably a good idea to get out of there, but if there was anyone here who needed help, then after an eruption it would be too late.

The heat grew steadily stronger as she continued, but as much as she wanted to keep drinking from her water, she knew she had to save it as much as she could. She picked a small piece of gravel from the ground, dusted it off on her skirt, and popped it into her mouth to suck on it. It was a trick that had helped her even in her first captivity, when they had kept water from her. In the long run it did nothing for her body, but it helped her mind to focus on things other than her thirst.

Suddenly the earth shook so violently that the stones on the ground began to bounce from the vibration. Large boulders at the sides of the path rocked back and forth precariously, and Kyrie looked up from trying to keep her balance just in time to see one falling from a cliff above her. She let out a cry and threw herself against the cliff wall. A second later, the boulder smashed into the ground where she had been standing. Parts of it cracked off and shattered, their sharp edges cutting her skin and making her bleed.

Still the ground continued to shake. Boulders were falling everywhere now. Ahead of her, she could see the smoke rising from the volcano’s crater growing darker, and she saw splashes of lava spilling over the crater’s lip.

Any sane person would have turned and run, but Kyrie was determined to find out what she had come to learn. Were there, or were there not, Fire Elves being used as slaves to work for the Earth Elves in the volcanic regions?

Only a few short minutes later, the ground began shaking again, more violently this time. Kyrie cursed her own stupidity and started to run. The sky grew dark as the volcano began to spew ash. A piece of the hot ash touched her back, and the pain made her inhale sharply through clenched teeth. Through the ash and the falling boulders, she spotted a crevice in the rock, and she made her way towards it. Hopefully it would provide some measure of safety – there was no way she could make it off the volcano now before it erupted!

She ducked into the crevice and flattened herself against the wall. The rock was hot against her bare skin, and she clenched her teeth to brace herself. A boulder landed just outside the crevice, showering her with shards of flying rock. She let out another cry and pressed herself further back into the crevice. Looking up, she spotted a hole in the cliff – a cave, perhaps? Desperate for shelter now, she scaled the wall and climbed inside.

In the confines of the rock walls, the heat was stifling. Kyrie began to sweat, her clothes quickly growing sticky. She wiped her brow with the back of her hand and closed her eyes to acclimate to the darkness more quickly. She counted out half a minute, then opened her eyes and looked into the cave. It was little more than an ascending tunnel from what she could see, but she couldn’t see how far it went or where it ended up. The Earth Elf’s warning about dragons echoed in her mind, and she stayed where she was so that she wouldn’t disturb any of the creatures.

Sweat was dripping down her face now, burning her eyes, and she reached for her flask for a drink of water. Her breathing was laboured from the heat in the air, and when she looked around everything seemed to shimmer before her eyes. She uncapped her flask and put it to her lips, drinking deeply. It was so hot now she was panting for breath, and her hair was beginning to plaster to her head.

As she moved to put her flask back in her bag, her fingers fumbled, and it fell down the crevice to the rock below. She groaned silently. She didn’t have the energy to go and get it, but she really had no choice. Without water, how far would she get?

She leaned over and peered down to see where her flask had landed – but when she spotted it she was shocked to see that it had burst into flames. Then she noticed that the ground was moving – and glowing. It was liquid …


She had read about lava, but she hadn’t had any idea what it would look like. It was oddly mesmerizing. Beautiful – but dangerous.

As hot as it was, a cold chill ran down her spine as she realized what was happening. She would not be able to get down that way – and if she didn’t find another way out of the mountain quickly, she would not make it out at all.

With no other choice, she turned and fled into the tunnel.

The tunnel was long and dark, and Kyrie had to move slowly, keeping her hands on the walls and ceiling so that she didn’t run into anything. It ascended only temporarily, but soon began to descend, going lower and lower into the mountain. For a while, she wondered if she was being taken into the heart of the volcano – there were so many twists and turns that she very quickly lost all sense of direction; but the temperature wasn’t getting hotter. Not that it was growing cooler, either; it was simply staying the same.

After a long time – she didn’t know how long or far she had walked – something in the tunnel began to change. Instead of it being so dark, she was somehow able to see things. Not clearly: no, it was still dark in there; but she was able to see silhouettes, outlines of things in front of her. Her mind was in such a haze that she couldn’t think of what was happening. It made no sense to her. Had her eyes adjusted so much to the darkness that she was somehow able to see in the dark? But even that would require at least a small light source. Yet this far below ground, what light source could there possibly be?

Her ears were hurting from the pressure of the rock around her. She had to walk carefully to keep from slipping on the ground: she had sweated through her boots, and they were wet on the bottom. Her throat was dry, breathing was difficult … she just couldn’t bring herself to care particularly much about why she could suddenly see things again.

She was so distracted that she didn’t even notice when the light kept growing brighter, until it went from a dim red glow to being light enough to see clearly by. It was only when the floor levelled out and she stepped into a cavern that she realized anything at all – and when she looked around, she froze in terror.

In front of her, a rocky path led through a lake of flowing lava, and it was the lava that was lighting up the cavern.

Kyrie swallowed hard. She had always thought she’d conquered her fears … but she was proving herself wrong. Her heart was racing, her throat was closing up, and she wanted to faint. Still, she knew that if she did, she would roast before she ever revived.

There was only one way through.

She swallowed again and took a deep breath to calm herself. After wiping her brow with the back of a hand, she took off at a run across the rock bridge. She was halfway across when another tremor hit, and lava began to splatter all around the red lake. She stumbled and nearly fell, but the adrenaline was coursing through her veins, and she launched herself forward. Bubbles began to rise in the lava, popping at the surface. The heat grew more intense, and Kyrie pushed forward again.

Suddenly she felt a breeze on her face, and it felt so refreshing that she gasped in surprise. It gave her new strength, and she pushed her fears away. With new resolve, she kept on going, only now she had the clarity of mind to pay attention to where she was going and what she was doing.

She ran through the cavern, jumping over splashes of lava as she ran. When she reached the other side, the path turned upward again, and she began the ascent without slowing down.

Now that she was alert and had enough light to see, however, she was noticing a lot more – such as the fact that the tunnel was more than just the path she was following. There were dozens of openings for other tunnels, some that moved upward, and some that went down again into the earth. She paused a moment, so used to the heat now that it didn’t bother her as much, and peered into one of the side-caves. There was a small flow of lava in there as well, just barely enough to light the room, and in the middle of the room was something that looked like a nest. In the middle of it was a single large egg, easily the size of her head. It was a translucent white, and through the shell she could see the silhouette of a winged creature.

Another tremor shook the earth around her, and female instinct took over. The moment the lava in the cavern began to churn and bubble, she ran in and snatched the egg from the nest. Self-preservation was a strong instinct, but not as strong as the instinct to protect an infant, even if the infant was not her own, or even of her race. She tucked the egg against her body and headed back to the main corridor – if such it could be called. She still didn’t know if she would make it out alive, but if she did, then this egg would survive as well.

The path kept going, on and on, and it took Kyrie a while to realize that it wasn’t getting any darker, even though she was supposedly getting further away from the lava. When she did realize it, she stopped in her tracks and turned around to see what was going on. The path behind her had vanished, buried beneath the lava that was creeping up on it.

Panic washing over her anew, she turned and ran as quickly as she could, hoping and praying desperately that there would be a way out eventually. She had no idea where she was in comparison to where she had entered the tunnel, how far she had run already, what direction she was facing now, or even how long she had been underground.

Her thoughts distracted her, and her foot caught on a loose rock on the ground. She tripped and landed sprawled out on the ground.

“No!” she cried, her fingers clutching at air as the egg flew from her arms. It hit the ground – and bounced. Then it started to roll. Not away from Kyrie: that would mean it would be rolling uphill. Instead, it began to roll backward, toward the rising lava.

“Nonononononononononoooooo!” She flailed for the egg, but it evaded her grasp and kept on rolling. She watched helplessly as it rolled right into the lava. Slowly, she pushed herself to her feet, her eyes fixed on the egg that seemed to be melting into the molten rock.

She blinked and stared at it. The egg was melting!

After a few moments, the shell was gone completely, and a tiny dragon stretched its wings. It circled for a few seconds, the molten rock it was walking on not seeming to bother its feet, and then it turned and looked at Kyrie. Its golden eyes seemed to penetrate into her soul, and Kyrie had to swallow hard. She knew it was looking directly at her.

Suddenly she remembered that the lava was rising, and she backed up a bit. She didn’t want to leave the baby dragon behind, and she wracked her brain trying to think of a way to retrieve it. It wouldn’t be able to fend for itself after all, and it would probably grow into a killer – but how could she just abandon it?

The dragon supplied its own answer to her dilemma. As she stepped backwards, away from the lava, the dragon made a chirping sound in its throat and hopped towards her. She took a few more steps, and it picked up its pace, apparently afraid of being left behind. It got ahead of the lava, and when it came close enough, Kyrie knelt down and scooped it up. Holding it carefully this time, she turned and ran.

When the tunnel finally ended and she burst out into fresh, cool air, surrounded by forest, it felt to Kyrie as if she had been plunged into a lake. Gasping for breath, she stumbled to her knees. She had been suffocating in the heat, and now there was so much oxygen that she felt lightheaded.

She felt tears falling from her eyes, and she turned her face to the sky. It was dark now. Even the stars and moon were hidden. She had no idea where she was or what direction she was facing, or what country she was in. And at the moment, she did not care.

She turned around, still sitting on the ground, and looked at the cave she had just left. There was no glow coming from inside it now, but she was still afraid that she had not left the lava behind. She stroked the neck of the tiny dragon that was on her shoulder, asleep. It was as long as her arm when it stretched out, its neck and tail making up most of its length, but when it curled up and wrapped its wings around its body, it was only a little larger than her two fists put together. Its red skin felt like a lizard’s skin, bumpy but soothing, but unlike a lizard it was warm to the touch, as if the very fire which had hatched it from its egg had become a part of it.

A shiver coursed through her as her sweat cooled off. She needed to warm up now, before she came down sick. She opened her bag and pulled out her cloak, then wrapped it around herself and held it close. She couldn’t stop shivering, and even the cloak didn’t seem to help her with that.

Shelter … she needed shelter … a fire …

The adrenaline that had kept her going throughout the day was gone, and she found that she couldn’t move. The thought that the lava might catch up to her didn’t help, nor did the idea that she was out in the open and a helpless target to anyone – or anything – who might stumble upon her. Even the need to build a fire didn’t give her the energy she needed. She was exhausted, dehydrated, and hadn’t eaten in almost a full day. She simply couldn’t move.

That was the last thought that crossed her mind as she passed out.

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Kyrie's Story | 28 057 / 2557 3A + Empty Re: Kyrie's Story | 28 057 / 2557 3A +

Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:02 am

Location: Shiezin, Arkandia
Year: 28 068 (2568 T.A.)
Status: Summer

When Kyrie woke, she was lying in bed, a blanket up to her chest, with something warm on one shoulder. She was comfortable, though, and she felt well-rested. For a moment, she wondered how she had gotten home – until she opened her eyes and realized she was not home at all.

The room she was in was a small one, and though the mattress she was on was comfortable, the frame of the bed was carved from rock, as were the walls of the room. There was a large window without glass, and a small one on the opposite side of the room, which was allowing a breeze to pass through, bringing in fresh air. There was no other furniture in the room, only a wooden door; but on the floor was a bucket of water and a cup for drinking from. The moment she spotted the water, her eyes fixed on it. She remembered the thirst she’d had, passing through the underground cave without water for so long, and she pushed the blanket off her.

The warm spot on her shoulder moved, and she looked back to see the tiny dragon she’d brought out of the mountain. She couldn’t really say that she had rescued it – it had been quite safe, really. If she were honest with herself, she had kidnaped it. But she wasn’t going to bring it back there. She was never going to go back there again if she could help it.

And the way it was looking at her … and nuzzling her hand … she had a feeling that even if she did bring it back, it wouldn’t stay without her.

She smiled and stroked its head and neck. “Well, at least one of us is none the worse off,” she said, her voice cracking slightly.

She sat up and stretched, then swung her legs over the side of the bed. So far, so good. Everything was working, and she felt great. Remembering the last time she’d woken in a strange place, she was careful when she stood up; but this time there was no head rush, no weakness, and when she moved to drink some of the water, she felt just like normal.

When she turned back towards the bed, she saw that it didn’t go all the way to the ground, but had a space under it, and that her bag was there. She smiled and knelt to pull it out. If all her things were there (and they were, she found), then wherever she was, she probably wasn’t in danger.

The baby dragon came to the edge of the bed and watched her as she strapped her weapons on again. It made a clicking noise in its throat, then spread its wings briefly before folding them against its body.

Kyrie smiled at the dragon. “Looks like we’re going to be sticking together, aren’t we?” she said softly. “Does that mean I should name you?”

She had never named anything before. She had no idea where to start. Well, she supposed it could wait. There were more pressing matters, after all.

“Come here,” she told it softly, holding one hand out to it. It crawled into her hand, and she picked it up again and slung her bag over her shoulder. She didn’t know where she was, and though she had a feeling it was somewhere safe, she didn’t want to leave her bag alone.

She paused at the door and took a deep breath, then pulled it open and stepped outside.

She wasn’t sure what she had expected to see – a hallway, perhaps, a larger room; but when she stepped out of the room she’d been sleeping in, she was in what looked like a city built entirely of rock. Buildings, towers, market stalls, the road … it was as if the entire city had been carved out of a mountain!

While she was gaping at the city (which, while being carved from nothing more than rock, was still beautiful), there was a shout. She looked up the street to see someone running towards her. Her instinct was to flee, but she made herself stay in one place. She hadn’t been threatened, and it could simply be that this was the person who had taken care of her and was simply surprised to see her awake.

She hoped that was the case.

She studied the man as he ran towards her. He was elven, that was for certain, and of pure blood. His hair was a bright shade of red, almost like a tomato, but a bit more coppery. His ears were long and pointed, his build slim. There was urgency in his eyes, and it gave Kyrie the impression that he was worried. It calmed her down, made her certain that he was not intending to harm her.

“Are you all right?” he asked her anxiously when he was close enough to her that she would hear. His pace slowed, and when he was only an arm’s length away from her, he stopped.

She nodded at him. “I feel wonderful. Are you the one I have to thank for my present condition?”

He smiled sheepishly and tugged at the point of one of his ears nervously. “Umm … that depends if it’s a good thing or a bad thing,” he replied.

Kyrie realized how her question could have sounded, and she laughed. “Sorry. I mean that I was well taken care of, instead of shivering in a forest or buried from the volcano. Or sick, for that matter.”

He chuckled softly and relaxed a bit, lowering his hand from his ear and clasping it with his other behind his back instead. “Ah. Yes. Yes, sort of. My brother was the one who found you and brought you here, but you’re in my house.”

She blinked at him. “Your house? I hope you weren’t too put out-”

“N-no,” he interrupted her, stuttering slightly. “I-it isn’t my house house, it’s my … uh … c-clinic.”

“Ah,” she smiled at him. “You’re a doctor.”

He nodded his head, a quick bob up and down.

Her smile widened. “Thank you for taking care of me. I know how much I owe you. Without care, I would have become very ill.”

Up went his hand again, tugging at the point of his ear. “Th-thank you,” he said, looking away self-consciously, his face flushing warmly. “I-I was just – just doing my job.”

Kyrie had to bite her lip to hold back a giggle. He was so nervous and shy. “Well, thanks for doing your job, then.” She looked around. “Where am I?” she asked him. “Yesterday I was in Wolsic, and the volcano erupted and I escaped through an underground tunnel … I came out in a forest, and I have no idea where I am.”

“We are in the country of Shiezin,” he told her. “Our town is called Makshim.” He smiled at her. “Would you like a-a tour?”

“Please.” Kyrie’s eyes lit up brightly. It was rare that someone like her was so readily accepted somewhere else, and she had a feeling she would really like this country.

The man’s smile widened when he saw how excited she was, and he nodded at her bag. “F-f-feel f-f-free to leave your bag h-here,” he invited her. “N-no one goes in, and e-even if they did, no one would touch y-your things.”

For a moment Kyrie hesitated, but her bag was heavy. If they were going to be walking long, it would feel much heavier. Besides, it wasn’t the only thing she had with her, and if it came down to a choice between the dragon and the bag, she would never leave the dragon behind. Bags and belongings were replaceable.

“Thank you,” she said finally. “I will.”

The doctor waited outside while Kyrie put her bag back under the bed, and when she left the house he hadn’t moved an inch. He was smiling slightly, and he bowed his head in acknowledgement when she re-joined him.

“Hey,” she laughed. “You’re going to make me feel self-conscious.” She touched his shoulder gently. “Come on.”

The touch seemed to really fluster the man, and he simply started forward, his eyes focused on the ground. It really amused Kyrie, but she kept her laughter inside.

“By the way,” she said after a few steps, “my name is Kyrie.”

He looked at her through his eyelashes. “I’m Ahkshi.” His eyes drifted to the dragon that was on her shoulder, nuzzling against her neck. “F-forgive me for asking, b-but where are you f-from?”

“Now there’s a loaded question.” Kyrie exhaled slowly, thinking of how to reply. “Well … I was born in Caras Galadhon, to the far west; I spent several years in Poleria and Jielam; my family is now in Dolerum; but as of late, I have been traveling from one country to another.”

She stroked the dragon’s neck affectionately, and she was prepared to swear that it was purring (in a dragon’s equivalent) in her ear. “Yesterday – at least, I’m assuming it was yesterday, it’s the last thing I did before passing out – I was in Wolsic. The volcano I was on erupted and I escaped through a tunnel. I found this little guy on the way out. He was in his egg, but he sort of hatched. When I went to keep going, he came with me.”


“I suppose it could be a she,” Kyrie admitted. “I have no idea. I don’t know anything about it. I didn’t even know there were dragons there. I’ve never seen one before, and never looked into the subject.”

Ahkshi smiled at her. “Well, with this breed there is one real difference. If it is a female, like you, then she will be a companion; but if it is a male, which you are not, then it will have the ability to bond with you, to become a part of you.”

“Really?” Kyrie was amazed. “I’ve never heard of anything like that before.”

He laughed softly, growing more comfortable with her. “Well, it won’t happen until it’s older, if it does. But in the meantime, you must take care of it. Right now it has skin, and while it is thicker skin than ours, it is still new and vulnerable. Until it has grown its scales, you must protect it.”

Kyrie was fascinated. It sounded amazing. She wasn’t sure she understood what he meant about ‘bonding,’ but she hoped she would someday get the chance to find out.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:02 am

Location: Winum, Dolerum, Arkandia
Year: 28 068 (2568 T.A.)
Status: Late Autumn

The leaves had turned weeks previous, and the world was aglow in shades of gold and red. It was Kyrie’s favourite time of the year. The weather was comfortable, the landscape was beautiful, the air was clear … it just didn’t get any better, no matter which country she was in.

This time, she was returning home. She had spent more than a full season in Shiezin with Ahkshi. He had mostly gotten over his stutter, and he had completely overcome his shyness. She liked him. She made no secret of it. And he made no secret of the fact that he liked her, too. But both of them knew that was as far as it would go. Kyrie’s destiny lay in travel, and his was to help the people of Makshim. With that being the understanding, there were no expectations, no secret hopes, and their time together was wonderful for both of them.

Kyrie had also learned a lot about her dragon while she had been there. The breed was called the Volcano Dragon, a subspecies of the Fire Dragons. They were a pack dragon, and usually lived in groups of five or ten. When the adults would mate, the eggs were laid in volcanic tunnels, where they would remain, dormant, until an eruption would cause the eggs to hatch. Until Kyrie had witnessed the lava melting the shell of the egg personally, no one had known how the eruptions and the hatchings were connected. It had happened previously that some of these dragons had bonded themselves to a person before. When the dragon and the person had been the same gender, the dragon had considered itself the person’s guardian; but when they were opposite genders, then a curious thing happened: the dragon would literally bond itself to the person, as if they joined together. Ahkshi hadn’t had any more detail than that, but he simply told her to treat her dragon like a dear friend, and see what happened.

“So here we are,” she told it as they approached the town. “Home sweet home.” She smiled. “I’ve got to find a name for you soon. The others are going to want to know it.”

The dragon was perched on her shoulder, almost like a bird, sitting up straight and looking around curiously. At her implied question, it looked at her and tilted its head.

“Don’t give me that look,” Kyrie laughed. “Come on, it’s not that simple. What if I give you a female name and you’re a male? Or the other way around?”

The dragon clicked its throat and lifted its wings briefly. It didn’t seem to care.

“Thanks,” Kyrie giggled. “You’re a great help. Any suggestions? Preferences?”

It crawled along the back of her neck to her other shoulder. How about Uruloki? she heard suddenly.

She turned her head to look at the dragon. “That you?” she asked it.

It nuzzled against her cheek. It was a matter of time, Kyrie.

Kyrie laughed again and stroked its neck. “All right, Uruloki it is.” She reached up and plucked it from her shoulder, holding it in her arms and carrying it like a kitten. “Now, are you talking in my head or out loud?”

So far, in your mind, Uruloki replied, looking up at her. I don’t think I can talk out loud yet. I’m still a baby, after all.

“Yes, I know.” Kyrie smiled at him. “Well, now that you have a name, I suppose I can take you home.” She started off again, entering the town, and headed towards the magistrate’s house. “How long have you been talking?” she asked him. “This can’t be sudden, I’m sure.”

Uruloki curled up into a ball, laying its head against her arm. I’ve been practicing. Mostly listening to you and Ahkshi. The more I understood what you were saying, the easier it’s been.

“But we left Shiezin three weeks ago, why now?” she pressed.

It looked up at her again. I don’t know.

Kyrie shook her head. “Fair enough.” She was amused by the dragon, and thrilled that she was able to communicate with it. “I don’t know if it would be a good idea for you to speak this way with anyone else, though,” she cautioned it. “They might not understand.”


“Well … it’s something they’ve never seen before,” she said hesitantly. “I think it just might be a bit too much of a shock for them. We’ve been together for more than a season, and it’s a shock for me.”

So I should only talk to you?

“At least until you can talk out loud.” She rubbed one finger against its chin. “Please.”

Uruloki closed its eyes and made its purring noise. As you wish.

Kyrie smiled again. She looked up and saw that she was on the right street, and headed towards the house. When she arrived, she opened the door and stepped inside. “Hello?” she called out. “I’m home! Khetal? Lynliss?”

“Kyrie!” Khetal’s voice came from the back of the house, where the bedrooms were located. He appeared in a matter of seconds, his face filled with joy. “You’re back!”

Kyrie laughed again. “What did you expect? That I’d somehow managed to find a way to get my voice here without the rest of me?” She dropped her bag to the floor and gave her brother a one-armed hug, careful to keep the dragon from being squished between them. “Shades, it’s great to be home again.”

Khetal gave her a look. “You could stay here, you know,” he told her pointedly. They’d had the discussion many times. He didn’t like that she always wandered off. He never knew where she was, or when she would be back, and he worried about her. If anything happened to her, he would never know.

She simply smiled at him. “I know. But you know I can’t.” She lifted the dragon to her shoulder again. “Khetal, this is Uruloki, a Volcano Dragon I found. He … she … it adopted me.”


“He adopted me,” Kyrie corrected herself, wondering if Khetal had heard the dragon’s voice as well. “And Uruloki, this is my brother, Khetal.”

Uruloki crawled down Kyrie’s arm and into her hand, then stretched his neck forward and sniffed at Khetal, who was staring at him. He looked up at Kyrie, then back at Khetal, and then crawled back up Kyrie’s arm and draped himself around her neck.

There was an awkward silence for a few moments, until Khetal finally said, “Um … Kyrie … where did you …”

“Don’t ask,” she told him flatly. “Just take my word for it. He’s adopted me.”

Khetal held up his hands in surrender. “All right then. Lynliss might question it, though.”

Kyrie laughed. “Oh, she’ll question it. I can handle her, don’t worry.”

“Handle who?” a voice said from behind Kyrie. She turned to see Lara and Gwen framed in the doorway. Both of the girls had grown into lovely women by now, and Gwen had outgrown Lara, making Kyrie the shortest person in the family now.

Gwen squealed when she saw the dragon. “Kyrie! Where did you get that?” she asked excitedly.

Lara’s eyes grew wide, and she took a half-step backwards. “Are you sure it’s safe to have it in the house?”

Kyrie laughed. “He’s fine, don’t worry about him. His name is Uruloki, and he’s adopted me. I found him as an egg and was there when he hatched.”

“Mother will never let you keep it,” Lara warned her.

“Papa will, though,” Gwen grinned, stepping inside. “Can I pet him?”

Kyrie looked at Uruloki, who looked back at her. “Um …”

The dragon looked back at the girls, then crawled out onto Kyrie’s shoulder so that he was more visible. Gwen stepped forward and held one hand above it, hesitating before stroking his head lightly. Lara stepped in and closed the door behind her, but she kept her distance from Kyrie and Uruloki, circling around them and taking up a safe position behind Khetal.

“He doesn’t feel like I always thought a dragon would feel,” Gwen commented thoughtfully.

“He doesn’t have his scales yet,” Kyrie explained. “Just skin for now. Ahkshi says that he will probably grow scales in a few years.”

“Ahkshi?” Now Lara was interested. “Who is Ahkshi?”

Kyrie blushed. “Oh … Ahkshi is a Fire Elf I met in Shiezin.”

Lara squealed and put her hands to her cheeks. “You’re blushing!” she exclaimed. “You like him!”

“Seriously?” Gwen’s eyes lit up. “Kyrie, is that true? Do you?”

Khetal was smiling as well, but Kyrie only needed to glance at him to know that it was forced. The attention was making Kyrie feel very self-conscious, and her blush grew deeper as her face grew hotter. “Well … ye-”

The girls both squealed, making Khetal wince and Uruloki hide behind Kyrie’s neck again. “Kyrie likes someone!” Gwen cried gleefully.

“Kyrie’s in love!” Lara giggled.

“So he’s a Fire Elf?”

“From Shiezin?”

“I bet he’s very handsome!”

“Probably a fighter. Who else could handle Kyrie?”

“Or a traveler. Kindred spirits, of course!”

“Girls, stop,” Kyrie begged them, interrupting their spiel. “Please. It’s not like that, not at all.”

The girls were disappointed. “But you said you like him!” Lara pouted.

Kyrie averted her eyes. “Let me wash, and then when your parents are home and I can talk to everyone together, I’ll explain everything. All right?”

Gwen looked at her through narrow eyes. “Everything?”

“Almost,” Kyrie amended. “Almost everything.”


Kyrie looked at Uruloki, then back at the girls. “Promise.”

The girls looked at her solemnly, and then Lara stepped forward and picked up her bag. “Then you go wash, and I’ll unpack your things,” she said.

Kyrie looked at her brother, who simply nodded at her. She smiled at him, then turned back to Lara. “Sounds good,” she said simply. “I’ll see you again in a few hours.”

She hadn’t had a bath since Shiezin, and she loved to soak in the hot water. And since she had Uruloki to keep her company in there, she wouldn’t be in a rush to get out.

“Just don’t forget your promise,” Gwen said pointedly as she stoked the fire to prepare the water.

Kyrie smiled tiredly. “I won’t.”

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:03 am

Location: Winum, Dolerum, Arkandia
Year: 28 068 (2568 T.A.)
Status: Late Autumn

By the time Kyrie got out of the bath, night had fallen and dinner was on the table. When she stepped out of the bathroom, Uruloki was perched on one of her shoulders. The rest of the family was sitting around the table when she stepped out. Gwen and Lara’s eyes lit up when they saw her, Khetal looked at her disapprovingly, and Lynliss and Leo looked at her in amazement.

“Hi,” Kyrie beamed at everyone. “Sorry I took so long.”

Lynliss pushed her chair back and stood up. “I think that’s a new record, even for you,” she said, her tone even.

Kyrie paused. Her adoptive mother’s tone was one she hadn’t heard from her before, and it worried her. “Did something happen?” she asked anxiously.

Leo and Lynliss exchanged a glance before looking back at her. “Let’s hear about your trip first. We’ll talk about this later.”

Kyrie’s brow furrowed in confusion. “Now you’re worrying me. Is it about Uruloki?”

“No, the dragon is fine.” Lynliss shook her head. “Come. Sit.”

Kyrie took a step forward. No hug … something was definitely wrong. She watched the physician carefully as she took her place, and it was only after Kyrie was sitting that Lynliss also sat down again.

Leo reached across the table and patted the back of Kyrie’s hand lightly. “We’re glad you’re back, Kyrie,” he said warmly, smiling at her.

Lynliss’s face flushed, and she smiled at Kyrie as well. “Yes, we’re glad you’re back. Welcome home.”

“Thanks.” Kyrie ventured a small smile, but she felt awkward. The atmosphere in the house had never felt this way. It didn’t sit right with her. Something was wrong … very wrong.

“The girls tell us you met someone,” Leo said lightly as he started to eat. “Tell us about it.”

“You did promise,” Lara pointed out.

Kyrie smiled. “I did. Well, I passed through Wolsic, where I found Uruloki, and then I ended up in Shiezin. I met Ahkshi there. He’s a Fire Elf, a doctor.”

“Don’t tell us you met him because you were injured again,” Khetal frowned.

Kyrie rubbed the back of her neck awkwardly. “Well … technically, no. It’s a long story. I ended up staying in his clinic. Perfectly healthy, it was just a safe place for me to stay. He showed me his town. It’s called Makshim. It’s amazing, the whole town is carved out of rock, and everywhere you look, it’s all red!”

Despite the awkwardness when she had left the bathroom, she was growing excited again, talking about Ahkshi, and the others noticed.

“So tell us about him!” Gwen urged her.

Kyrie needed no further urging. “He’s got hair the colour of a sunset, and his skin is just a bit lighter than yours. He’s got these freckles on his face, it’s really adorable. And when he speaks, he has this stutter … at first I thought it was because he was shy, but he’s like that with everyone. He’s got a brother, and they both live with their parents. They’re all really nice.”

“You’re very fond of him, it sounds like,” Lynliss remarked with a smile.

“We’re friends,” Kyrie said firmly. “Nothing more. Good friends. No hopes, no expectations on either side.”

“I’m not sure I like that you had to clarify,” Khetal frowned.

Kyrie frowned back at him. “I don’t understand.”

“The fact that you had to clarify tells me that there are indeed hopes on someone’s part,” her brother replied. “It sounds like someone is being set up for disappointment.”

“Probably both of us.” Kyrie lowered her gaze. “But it could never work. I’m destined to travel, and he’s got to stay in his town to help his people. Besides, he deserves more than me.”

“Hey,” Lynliss said sharply, frowning deeply. “I won’t allow that kind of talk. You are a beautiful and strong young woman, capable of things I would never have believed anyone could do. You’ve survived more than most people ever see in their lives, and come through with no bitterness, which in itself is amazing.”

Kyrie looked at Lynliss sadly. “You know what I mean. Come on, Lynliss … you’re the one …”

Lynliss’s eyes grew wide as she realized what Kyrie was getting at. “Oh …”

The others didn’t understand at all. “Mother?” Lara asked hesitantly. “What is she talking about? What did you do?”

Lynliss shook her head, her eyes fixed on Kyrie. It wasn’t her place to say anything, though for the first time since that day, she felt wracked once more by guilt.

“Kyrie?” Lara tried again. “Kyrie, what’s going on?”

Even Khetal was concerned. He knew Kyrie had told him a lot, but he didn’t know if it was everything that had happened to her – and he couldn’t think of anything that would have an effect on this situation.

Kyrie knew she wouldn’t have any peace unless she explained, and she pushed her chair back and indicated the three scars she’d gotten from her fight with the bear. “This,” she said softly. “I will never be able to bear children. It wouldn’t be fair to him. He deserves so much more.”

“Kyrie, I’m sorry,” Lynliss said, tears in her eyes; but Kyrie shook her head.

“Don’t apologize,” she said firmly. “It wasn’t your doing. You saved my life, Lynliss. It was the bear. You and I both know that.” She smiled. “Besides, it isn’t like we can’t spend time together. I promised him I would return in the spring, once the snow had melted. I was thinking I might spend next summer … there …”

She trailed off slowly, her eyes on Lynliss’s face. The physician didn’t look relieved at all when Kyrie absolved her of any responsibility for her condition. Quite the contrary, the more Kyrie said, the paler her face seemed to grow. It worried Kyrie, brought back the anxiety she’d had when they had first greeted her after her bath.

“Now is when you’re going to tell me what was bothering you earlier,” she said slowly, watching Lynliss for a hint of what was going on.

Lynliss had tears in her eyes. “I’m so sorry,” she whispered.

A cold wave washed over Kyrie. “For what?” She looked at Leo. “What happened?”

“Calm down,” Leo told her gently, putting one hand on hers again. “It’s nothing more than an inconvenience, that’s all.”

“An inconvenience?” Kyrie echoed. She turned to the physician. “Lynliss, what’s going on?”

“Calm down, Kyrie,” Khetal spoke up, his tone firm. “Just listen. You’re twenty nine years old now. You and I are of mixed blood – not mixed elven, but mixed elven and human blood. Immortal and mortal. We have no idea if you’re immortal or mortal. So-”

“What about you?” Kyrie asked him, more surprised than anything.

“Immortal,” he replied grimly. “But that doesn’t mean that you are, and you and I both know that I inherited more of Father’s traits than you did. You really do take after Mother, Kyrie, and Mother was human – mortal.”

Kyrie was confused. “So what does that mean?” She had spent her whole life among elves, and no time at all with humans. She knew there were some physical differences, but she didn’t know the extent of the differences, and had never really thought about how it could affect her.

“We’d like you to stay here for a while,” Leo said softly. “Lynliss wants to observe you. She did the same for Khetal, but it wasn’t a big deal for him since he never leaves the town anyways. But we’re going to have to ask you to stay for at least a year, just so that she can watch you and see if you’re mortal or immortal. Whether you will grow old and die, or if you will live forever, like the elves.”

Kyrie was silent for a moment as it sank in. “But … a year?”

Lara and Gwen exchanged a look as their mother nodded at Kyrie. “At least. You’re at the age where if you’re mortal, there will start to be changes. The fact that you spent half the day in the bath today is already an indication.”


Lynliss blinked. “But-”

“No.” Kyrie looked at her with an icy glare. “I don’t care if I’m mortal or not. I promised Ahkshi I would be there next summer, and I don’t break my promises.”

“But Kyrie-”

“No!” Kyrie stood up abruptly, knocking her chair back. Uruloki curled around her neck to hide. “Lynliss, I promised him! I can not stay!”

Khetal rose and put one hand on her arm. “Kyrie, calm do-”

“No!” She slapped his hand away. “If I’m mortal then there’s nothing you can do about it anyway!” she shouted. “I promised Ahkshi I would be there, and I’m going!”

Lynliss could see that she wasn’t going to get anywhere with her. “Afterwards, then,” she conceded, “when you’ve had your visit …”

Kyrie shook her head. “I won’t go that long without seeing him.” She was calmer now, and Uruloki ventured back out onto her shoulder. She took him into her arms and held him close, stroking his neck to calm herself more. “Lynliss, if it were you being asked to stay away from Leo for that long, would you do it? Especially if it were just for the answer to a question that really makes no difference anyways? That you wouldn’t be able to do anything about?”

Lynliss looked at her husband, her expression sorrowful. She understood what Kyrie meant, but …

“It’s still an important question to the rest of us,” she said quietly, turning back to Kyrie again. “For us to know how long we would have you with us … please, Kyrie. We all want to know.”

Kyrie looked around at everyone. They were all looking at her, their expressions as concerned as Lynliss’s. She let out her breath slowly. They were doing this because they loved her, she reminded herself.

“Fine,” she said, “I’ll stay for one year. On one condition.”

Lynliss nodded, her eyes anxious.

Kyrie looked at her. “I still get to go for my visit next year so that I can explain things to Ahkshi,” she said firmly, “and Lara comes with me to paint pictures of us together, so that won’t be completely alone during that time.”

Lynliss looked at her daughter, who smiled. “I would be happy to go with you, Kyrie,” she said softly, sincerely. “I wouldn’t dream of missing the opportunity to meet this man who has so captivated you.”

Lynliss nodded again. “Then it’s settled,” she concluded.

“One more condition,” Khetal spoke up, his eyes fixed on his sister. “I go with them. I know, Kyrie, you don’t need protection, but I need to know if this guy is worthy of you, and of all this hassle.”

Kyrie nodded. “That’s fine with me.”

“Good,” Lynliss said, her tone ending the matter. She took a deep breath and smiled again. “Now, Kyrie, take a seat and have some dinner, and you can tell us all about your dragon.”

And like that, the awkwardness of the situation had disappeared. With a warm smile, Kyrie sat down and began to tell them bits and pieces of how she and Uruloki had come to be together, leaving out the eruption of the volcano. She had a feeling Lynliss had kept quiet about Uruloki so that Kyrie wouldn’t go on the defensive again, but in a way, it made her glad they’d had an argument already. If Lynliss was accepting Uruloki now, she couldn’t unaccept him later, even if she didn’t like the idea of a dragon in her house.

Which was good, because Kyrie couldn’t part with Uruloki even for a lifetime with Ahkshi.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:03 am

Location: Makshim, Shiezin, Arkandia
Year: 28 069 (2569 T.A.)
Status: Early Summer

Winter had passed slowly, and to Kyrie the passage of time was agonizing. She loved her time with Uruloki, whom the girls had nicknamed simply “Loki”. He had kept her warm during the cold nights, and she had never gone anywhere without him. No one had mentioned Kyrie’s upcoming observation period, nor the trip that she, Lara and Khetal would be taking to Shiezin later in the spring. Kyrie would even go so far as to say that things had become tense in the household. She understood why. She had never disagreed with Lynliss and Leo, not once since she had come to live with them.

Eventually the time had come for their trip to begin. Kyrie had chosen to walk, but Khetal and Lara, who weren’t used to traveling, rode horses, which made the trip as short as it had been the first time. Within three weeks, they arrived in Makshim.

Kyrie couldn’t hide her excitement as they approached the town. Uruloki felt it too, and he skittered back and forth from one of her shoulders to the other as they drew closer. He hadn’t grown much in the half year that he had been with Kyrie, and his skin was not yet hardening into scales.

“I hope he’s not too busy,” she told him, her eyes bright with excitement. “I don’t know whether to check his house or his clinic first.”

Might I suggest his house? Uruloki suggested. You’re not staying in his clinic, so he won’t be hanging around there more than he has to, I’m sure.

“Where does he spend more time?” asked Lara, who couldn’t hear Uruloki’s voice.

“We’ll try his house first,” Kyrie grinned at the dragon. She looked up at Lara. “If he’s not there, then we’ll try the clinic.”

“Shouldn’t we check in at an inn first?” Khetal asked seriously. “Put our things away, stable the horses?”

“If we don’t find him,” Kyrie promised. “Come on.”

The red rock of the town felt familiar and comfortable to Kyrie, and she led the others down the street. There were red-haired elves everywhere, but no one gave them a second glance – at least until one of them recognized Kyrie from her time there the previous summer.

“Kyrie!” he called out, waving to her. “Welcome back!”

“Hello, Cantor!” Kyrie grinned, waving back. “How have you been?”

“Great! Always busy, you know how it goes.” He laughed and joined the group. “And you? You haven’t changed a bit.”

“Ha!” Kyrie grinned at Khetal and Lara triumphantly. “See? I haven’t changed a bit. Make sure to tell Lynliss when we get home again.”

Cantor looked at her strangely, and she waved it off. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll explain later. Hey, where’s your brother?”

“I knew you couldn’t have come back to see me,” the fire elf teased her.

“No, really?” Kyrie grinned at him. “Come on, tell me where he is.”

He pursed his lips thoughtfully, his green eyes sparkling mischievously. “Well … I suppose I could do that. On two conditions. First condition: give me that hug that I’ve been expecting since I saw you.”

Kyrie laughed and set her bag down, and Uruloki crawled up on top of her head when she threw her arms around Cantor and hugged him tightly, slapping his back enthusiastically. He hugged her back, then twirled her around in a circle.

“And the second condition?” she giggled.

He winked at her. “Introduce me to your friends.”

He grinned at Lara and Khetal as he let go of Kyrie, turning her around and putting his hands on her shoulders.

Kyrie was still giggling. “All right, all right. Cantor, this is my brother, Khetal, and my adoptive sister, Lara. Khetal, Lara, this is Cantor, Ahkshi’s older brother.”

Lara bowed her head and smiled at Cantor. She liked him. He was funny. If his brother were anything like him, she could see why Kyrie had been so insistent on coming back here and keeping her promise.

Khetal just nodded at him. He was simply observing at the moment, reserving judgment.

“Nice to meet you both,” Cantor said warmly. “Kyrie’s told us all about you, it’s just great to finally be able to put some faces to the names.”

“I have to be honest,” Lara admitted. “Kyrie didn’t really tell us much about anyone other than your brother.”

“Kyrie!” Cantor rubbed his knuckles lightly against the top of her head, then quickly flicked his hand away to avoid being bitten by Uruloki.

She squealed and ducked out of his grasp. “You promised,” she told him, slapping his arm. “Where is he?”

“He’s at home,” Cantor chuckled. “I’ll walk with you.”

Kyrie was too distracted to pay much attention to Cantor, and Khetal was still not in a talkative mood, so Cantor and Lara were the ones who were chatting together on the way to Cantor and Ahkshi’s house. It helped that Lara was naturally as bubbly as her mother.

When they were in sight of the house, the door opened, and Ahkshi himself stepped out. Without looking around, he turned away from them and started walking in the direction of his clinic. Kyrie grinned and broke into a run.

“Ahkshi!” she called when she was only a few paces away from him.

He turned, his expression curious. His eyes grew wide when he saw Kyrie, and he reacted just in time to catch her in a hug. “Kyrie?” He laughed. “By the Valar, I can’t believe it’s you! You’re earlier than I thought you would be!”

Kyrie didn’t let go of him. “I was in a hurry,” she giggled. “I missed you.”

“And I m-missed you,” he grinned. He kissed her on the forehead. “Welcome back.”

Kyrie smiled and leaned into him. “Thanks.” She paused a moment, then looked up at him. “Are you on your way to the clinic?”

Ahkshi nodded. “It can w-wait, though. My father’s there.” He held her at arms’ length and smiled widely at her. “I c-can’t believe you’re here!”

She tilted her head at him. “You doubted me?”

He blushed hotly. “N-not like that, it’s just that m-most people tend to t-try to avoid me. I think m-my s-stutter makes them uncomfortable.”

Kyrie smiled and put her hand to his cheek. “It’s a part of you,” she told him softly. “I admit it’s something to get used to, but once you’re used to it, it’s endearing.” She caressed his cheek gently for a moment, then dropped her hand and turned to introduce him to the others. “Ahkshi, my brother, Khetal, and my adoptive sister, Lara.”

Khetal dismounted from his horse, his eyes focused on Ahkshi.

“Welcome,” Ahkshi greeted the two warmly. “I h-had no idea that Kyrie was b-bringing others with her. Welcome! I’m v-very happy to m-meet you!”

“Thank you,” Lara said cheerfully. “Is everyone here as friendly as you and your brother?” She grinned down at Cantor, who was laughing at her.

Ahkshi chuckled. “I w-wouldn’t know,” he replied.

Kyrie took Ahkshi’s hand. “Ahkshi,” she said softly, “I asked Lara to come with me this time because she’s an artist. I’ve asked her to make pictures of us two together. Remembrances for us, for when we can’t be together.”

“Don’t rush it,” he smiled at her. “We have all kinds of time together. Even if it’s just one season per year-”

Kyrie shook her head. “That’s what I’m trying to say,” she said quietly. “After this summer … I don’t know how much I’ll be able to come back. For at least a year, probably more, I’ll have to stay home. Lynliss wants to observe me, to see if I’m mortal or immortal. And after that … once we know … if I’m mortal then there’s no telling how much traveling I’ll be able to do.”

She didn’t like the idea of being away from him for so long, but what choice did she have? She had promised Lynliss she would stay.

He was gazing at her tenderly. It was clear he was pained by the thought of her being mortal, but she could also see that he wasn’t going to let it get between them.

“Then you go back,” he told her softly. “You let her watch you and see if you’re m-mortal or immortal. Then you’ll c-come back and tell me. After that … if you’re immortal then we can c-continue like this, right? And if not … then you c-can do what traveling you want while you’re able … and then, when you c-can’t travel anymore, you c-can stay with me.”

Tears pricked at Kyrie’s eyes. He was so wonderful to her, he really was. How many people wouldn’t care if she were mortal or immortal? How many people wouldn’t push her away when she grew old, rather than asking her to stay with them only then?

She smiled at him and hugged him again. “Have I told you I love you?” she asked him, her face buried in his shoulder.

He leaned his head against hers and held her close. “I kn-know.”

Khetal watched them thoughtfully, his expression softening slightly. He could see how much this man cared for Kyrie, and he now believed that Kyrie genuinely cared for Ahkshi as well, that it was not just an infatuation.

After a moment, Kyrie straightened again. “We need to bring our things to the inn and settle in,” she told Ahkshi. “We might as well do that while you’re checking on your clinic. What do you think?”

“I’ll meet you there after I’m d-done,” he replied with a warm smile. “I won’t be long, b-but you might take a while, what with t-taking care of the horses and all.”

“Okay.” Kyrie grinned at him. “We’ll be waiting for you there, then.”

“I’ll take you there,” Cantor offered, stepping forward.

“It’s all right, I know the way,” Kyrie replied, a little surprised.

Cantor held up one hand as if to ward off her protest. “It would be my pleasure.”

Kyrie smiled at him. “All right, then. Lead the way.”

As Cantor began to lead Lara and Khetal, Kyrie turned back to Ahkshi and gave him one more hug. “I’ll see you later,” she told him, her eyes sparkling. “I have something I’d like to tell you about Uruloki.”

The dragon raised one wing as if saluting Ahkshi before Kyrie ran off to catch up with the others.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:04 am

Location: Makshim, Shiezin, Arkandia
Year: 28 069 (2569 T.A.)
Status: Mid-Summer

Within a week of arriving in Shiezin, Khetal had a problem. He had come to chaperone his sister and Ahkshi, and Lara had come to do some art of the two together so that when Kyrie had to stay in Winum for a year, she would at least have something to remind her of him, and he would have something to remind him of her. So far, Lara had done one picture, just a sketch: her time had become occupied as well. From the moment she had begun talking with Cantor, she had been impressed by him: his easy manner of speaking, his frequently comic comments, and his completely open and friendly attitude had affected her in a way that no man in Dolerum had yet managed, try though they might. Now, instead of chaperoning only Kyrie and Ahkshi, Khetal found that he had to try to chaperone Lara and Cantor as well.

Not that he particularly had to worry, on either score. Kyrie was her own person, and she always had been. Despite the fact that she loved having a family who cared about her, she didn’t answer to anyone but herself. She would do what she would do, despite Khetal’s presence. And Lara was the model of propriety. She would never do anything that was socially unacceptable. Despite her fascination with Cantor, she would not even allow him to touch her, even just to take her hand.

He also ended up spending quite a bit of time doing a bit of his own research. Not medical research, since he was not a doctor here; but research about the people themselves. The Fire Elves were so called not solely because they lived in a land with an active volcano (only one of the Fire Elven countries had a volcano, and the Earth Elves had many), but also (and more) because they had the ability to use fire magically: to summon it, to manipulate it, and to extinguish it. Their city was built out of rock, literally carved out of a mountain, because in the past they had helped the Earth Elves with putting out fires that volcanic eruptions, more frequent in the past than in the present, had caused; and in return, the Earth Elves had helped the Fire Elves to build themselves a home in a forbidding land. They were also a country that had never been to war, and had good relations with every country around them – a fact that he suspected was a result of the others’ fear of their command over fire.

Despite the peace between their country and others, however, there were no interracial relations.


It made Khetal suspect that Kyrie had only one real reason why she would not commit to a marital relationship with Ahkshi: because he would have to leave if she did, and she did not want him to become a stranger in his own land. Part of him also wondered if it was the same for Lara, and that was why she was so careful not to do anything inappropriate with Cantor.  

Still, it was a worry for him. His only hope was that the summer would pass relatively quickly so that they could get back home. He wasn’t regretting coming along with them, but right now all he wanted was to get those two girls back home in one piece.

Last edited by Nara-pyon on Fri Oct 31, 2014 10:50 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:04 am

Location: Makshim, Shiezin, Arkandia
Year: 28 069 (2569 T.A.)
Status: Early Autumn

All too soon for Kyrie, the day came when summer ended and autumn began. As much as she loved the season, she didn’t want it to come this time. It meant that it was time to leave Shiezin – and Ahkshi.

“J-just you watch,” Ahkshi told her quietly as she packed her bag. “The year will pass quickly enough. We’ll be t-together again before you know it.”

She looked at him, her eyes bloodshot. “A week would be too long,” she replied softly. “And with winter coming on, it’s going to be a year and a half before I can come back.”

He reached for her hand. “You c-could always stay.”

She smiled and stepped closer to him, putting both of her hands around his. “You know I can’t. I promised Lynliss …”

He pressed his lips against her fingers. “I know,” he murmured. He lowered his eyes for a moment, then slipped his hands out of hers and put them in his pockets. “I h-have something f-f-f-for you.”

Kyrie blinked at him in surprise. “For me?”

He nodded and pulled a small package out of his pocket. “H-here.”

Kyrie took the package curiously. It was very lightweight and fit easily in her hand. “What is it?”

He smiled at her. “Open it and f-f-find out.”

She looked at him suspiciously and began to unwrap the cloth from around the item. It had been wrapped in several layers, and the package kept getting smaller and smaller. At last, the cloth fell away, and Kyrie was left with a small silver ring. The outside was plain, but inside was an inscription that she couldn’t read, as it was in the runes of the Fire Elves.

She didn’t understand. “What …”

Ahkshi cupped his hands around hers. “I have a ch-chain for you to put it on f-for now,” he told her softly, “b-b-but when you come back, I want you to know that I’m p-planning on asking you to m-marry me. I know you’re a t-traveler and I’m n-not, b-but when we are t-together, I w-want us to be together as h-husband and wife. Ma-maybe it’s a b-blessing in d-disguise that you c-can’t have children. It m-means that when you t-travel you won’t h-have to w-worry about being p-pregnant.”

Kyrie was at a loss for words. “I … I don’t know what to say,” she admitted.

He smiled and leaned forward, touching his forehead to hers. “That’s the b-beauty of it,” he murmured. “You d-don’t have to say anything y-yet. J-just know that the next t-t-time you c-come here, I’m g-g-going to ask.”

Kyrie threw her arms around him and hugged him tightly. She still didn’t know what to say, but the fact that he would even consider such a thing meant a lot to her. It touched her in a way that few things could, and she felt tears pricking at her eyes. She blinked them away before releasing Ahkshi again, and then she touched her hand lightly to his cheek.

“Thank you,” she said softly. “You are without a doubt the most amazing man I know. Thank you.”

He smiled widely at her. “I c-couldn’t be who I am without y-you.” He kissed her on the nose, then turned back to look at her things. “C-come on, let’s get this put away.”

When they had finished packing Kyrie’s things and headed outside, the others were already waiting for them. Khetal had mounted his horse, but Lara and Cantor were standing together next to hers, deep in conversation. They looked up when they heard Ahkshi and Kyrie join them, and Lara and Kyrie exchanged a warm smile.

Ahkshi put one hand on his brother’s shoulder. “You m-make sure you take g-g-good care of them, you hear?”

Cantor grinned and returned the gesture. “You can count on it.”

Kyrie blinked at the two. “Cantor, are you coming with us?” she asked. It was fairly obvious that the answer was yes, but it took her by surprise.

Cantor chuckled. “Yes, Kyrie, I’m coming with you. I suppose I can understand your surprise, considering you spent the entire summer with Ahkshi. Though I must admit, I always thought you were more observant.”

Kyrie blushed, and only then did she notice the way that Lara and Cantor looked at each other. “Well … I’ve been a little distracted …”

Cantor laughed out loud. “Right, fine. You were distracted. But now you know.”

As he helped Lara up onto her horse, Kyrie turned to Ahkshi. “You make sure you take care of yourself,” she told him seriously. “I know winter is a busy time for you, but without Cantor around to help you, you’re going to be even busier. Make sure you get enough rest, all right?”

Ahkshi smiled and stroked her cheek tenderly. “I’m m-m-more worried for you, Kyrie. I wish you s-s-safe travels, and I hope your observ-v-vation goes well.”

He touched one finger to the ring that was hanging on a small chain around her neck. “S-s-see you in t-two years,” he said quietly.

Kyrie bit her lip to keep her tears from falling, and she squeezed his hand and turned away. If she didn’t leave now, she wouldn’t at all, and she knew she didn’t have a choice. Cantor led Lara’s horse forward, and Khetal brought up the rear. As he passed Ahkshi, he paused and leaned down and murmured, “I’ll make sure she comes back to you, one way or another.”

The two men exchanged a look, and then Khetal was off as well, leaving Ahkshi alone.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:04 am

Location: Dolerum border, Arkandia
Year: 28 069 (2569 T.A.)
Status: Early Autumn

The trip back to Dolerum was slower than the trip to Shiezin. Kyrie was in no hurry now, and had much more on her mind. They also had to work harder to avoid detection as they passed through Poleria, since now they had an extra person with them, one who could not easily pass as a human.

At this point, they were approaching the Poleria/Dolerum border, and all four of the travelers were growing excited. They were tired of hiding, tired of traveling, and eager to be home again.

“How can you tell when you’re crossing the border?” Cantor asked the others curiously. “Is there a sign or a fence or something?”

“There’s not much more than a border marker,” Kyrie told him. “There’s no fence, no guards … just posts every here and there that have Poleria written on one side and Dolerum on the other.”

She had crossed the border often enough that she didn’t even have to think about it.

“That’s odd, now that I think about it,” Lara commented, puzzled. “I mean, our two countries have been at war off and on for … centuries. Even when there’s no fighting, it’s not like things are peaceful. Why is the border left unguarded?”

“I have no idea,” Kyrie admitted. “When you go north to Jielam, there’s a fence and guards, but as far as I can tell that’s just to keep people out of Jielam, not out of Dolerum.” And suddenly she remembered the other strange phenomenon she had seen when she had crossed the Jielam/Dolerum border. “And when they used magic … it couldn’t get past the fence, either,” she said, her tone filled with wonder. “I mean … it didn’t hit the fence, it went between the posts … but … it didn’t make it past.”

She explained to the others about the shards of ice that had been caught in the air, and that had shattered as if they had struck something solid.

The others had no explanation for it either. Kyrie was just plain thankful, whatever it was. It had saved her life there.

“There’s a border marker,” Khetal said, nodding in the direction of a thick post with a sign mounted on each side of it.

Kyrie waited for the thrill of returning home to hit, and though she was sad that she’d had to leave Ahkshi behind, she was pleased when she found she was at least able to feel a bit of pleasure that she was returning to Dolerum.

“Nearly home,” Lara smiled as they passed the border marker. “I’m getting excited.”

“I will be happy when we return,” Khetal agreed.

“I can’t wait to tell Mother and Father about Canto--- wait, where did he go?” Lara looked around for her suitor. He had disappeared mysteriously.

Kyrie looked back and saw him still standing at the border line. She frowned. Why was he hanging back?

“Come on, Cantor,” she called to him. “You’re safer in Dolerum than in Poleria. Why did you stop?”

Cantor’s face was etched with surprise. “I … I can’t go any further,” he called back to them.

Lara blinked. “What do you mean? You’re changing your mind?”

“No!” He sounded desperate. “No, I mean I literally can’t go any further!” He put his hands out in front of him, and he didn’t seem to be able to push them further than a few inches in front of himself.

Kyrie frowned and turned back to see what was going on. “It’s like at Jielam …”

Cantor took a few steps back and tried for a running start. He picked up speed, but when he reached the same point where he had been, he bounced back as if he had hit an invisible barrier. “What is going on?” he demanded of no one in particular, frustrated.

Lara turned her horse around and returned to him quickly. “I don’t understand,” she said, confused.

“I think I might,” Khetal spoke up, joining the others. “I’ve heard of barriers like this, though I didn’t know there were any in use. It’s a rare and powerful magic. Only those with certain blood may pass through. In this case, I’m going to assume only those with Dark Elven blood. That would be why the White Elves couldn’t chase you when you escaped from Jielam, Kyrie.”

Kyrie nodded. She had heard rumours of something like this, but she had thought it to be just that: rumours. “It makes sense.”

“But how can Cantor cross?” Lara asked. There were tears in her eyes. “We can’t send him back!”

Khetal watched as Cantor brought himself back to his feet. “You have to take responsibility for him,” he told Lara seriously. “Aloud. Give him permission to enter into Dolerum, swearing that you will be responsible for everything that he does while he is in our country.”

Lara stared at him incredulously, but he just shrugged. “It’s what I’ve heard. Not my idea.”

She nodded and took a deep breath. It was worth a try. “I, Lara, give you, Cantor, permission to enter Dolerum, and take responsibility for all of your actions while within the Dolerum border.”

Cantor hesitated a moment, then took a step forward. When he didn’t meet any resistance, he took another step, and then another. A smile broke out over his face, and he strode over to Lara.

“It worked,” Lara laughed, hardly daring to believe it. “That’s amazing!”

“I guess we can really consider ourselves safe now,” Khetal chuckled. “Except for Dark Elves, of course.”

“And even those can be problems,” Kyrie replied. “Don’t let your guard down.” She started leading them forward again. “Come on.”

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:05 am

Location: Winum, Dolerum, Arkandia
Year: 28 069 (2569 T.A.)
Status: Early Autumn

It was the middle of the day when they arrived in Winum, and the streets were busy. It was one of the busier market days, as happened more often in the fall, and every which way they went they attracted nothing but stares. Kyrie knew what they were thinking. The stares weren’t about Lara, or Khetal, or even her anymore: it was Cantor they were staring at. He was a Fire Elf, different from them, something new. The Dark Elves were a nice enough people, but they did not take well to strangers or to those different from themselves.

As they passed through the streets, several people called out greetings to Lara, and a few to Khetal, though most ignored Kyrie and Cantor, other than to give them a curious glance.

“Wow, Kyrie,” Cantor said to her, arching one eyebrow. “You sure are popular.”

Kyrie just smiled at him. “It’s always been this way. Too much of my human side is visible in my appearance. Khetal looks fully Dark Elven, so he doesn’t have a problem.”

Cantor was stunned. “And this is the attitude of the Dark Elves towards people like you and I?”

“Not all of them,” she replied. “There are some who don’t care at all. But is it so different in Shiezin? There are no interracial couples there, either. You’ve never been at war, your people don’t mind having foreigners in the area, but there are no couples of mixed race. How is that different from here?”

“There is a place where such couples go,” Cantor said softly. “I have heard of it. A place called-”

“Caras Galadhon,” Kyrie interrupted him with a smile. “I know. That’s where Khetal and I were born. I have to be honest; I don’t remember a lot of our time there. I was very young when we left. But I remember being happy there. Elves and humans of all sorts live together in peace, everyone is accepted …”

She looked over at him. “If you want to marry Lara, you might consider taking her there.”

“I have been.” Cantor was not embarrassed by the admission. “But I can say nothing until I speak with her parents.”

Kyrie smiled softly. “You are a good man, Cantor. I hope the two of you are happy in your life together. And I have no doubt that you will have a life together.”

Cantor smiled back at her. “Well, I’ve yet to meet her parents and earn their approval, but thanks for the thought, Kyrie.”

Kyrie just grinned at him. She knew Lynliss would be thrilled, and Leo would just be calmly and quietly happy and supportive, though both of them would be sad to see her leave. Still, they would understand. They were the most understanding people she knew.

Well, with the possible exception of Ahkshi, anyway.

Uruloki had been sleeping on Kyrie’s shoulder, but he awoke with a yawn. Are we there yet? he asked her, looking around and blinking sleepily.

“Almost there,” Kyrie murmured, stroking his head and neck.

As they reached their street and turned to go down it, a voice behind them squealed, “Kyrie! Lara! Khetal!”

They turned around just in time for Gwen to tackle Kyrie in a hug, sending Uruloki flying and just about knocking Kyrie off her feet. She was laughing, and she didn’t seem to want to let go of Kyrie. “You’re late!” she exclaimed. “We expected you almost two weeks ago! You promised you would leave at the end of summer and that’s been too long already!”

Kyrie had to squeeze Gwen quite hard to make her let go. “Let me breathe already!” she laughed.

Gwen was positively giddy, and she couldn’t stop bouncing from one foot to the other. “Why were you laaaaaaate?!

“Poleria,” Kyrie replied flatly. “Hiding some people who at least look human is one thing, but a Fire Elf?”

Gwen blinked at her, and only then did she notice that Cantor was even there. She let out another squeal and grabbed his hands. “You must be Ahkshi! I’m so glad you came! But I thought you couldn’t travel, because you’re a doctor.”

“Gwen-” Lara tried to interrupt as she dismounted from her horse.

“But the way Kyrie kept going on and on about you all last winter, I guess she must have convinced you to come, at least while Mother keeps her under observation,” Gwen went on, oblivious.


“Kyrie’s usually pretty secretive, so when we saw how excited she always got when she talked about you, we all knew-”


Gwen blinked at her sister as if seeing her for the first time. “Yes, Lara?”

Lara stepped forward and put her hands on her sister’s shoulders. “Gwen, that is not Ahkshi.”

Gwen blinked at her. “It’s not?”

Cantor chuckled in amusement as Lara answered, “No. Ahkshi was unable to come. This is his brother, Cantor.”

“Oh!” Gwen turned to Cantor and let go of his hands. “Sorry about that! I’m a little excited I guess.”

“You guess?” Kyrie laughed. “Gwen, I’ve never seen you so excited about anything. Ever.”

Cantor chuckled softly. “So I take it this is your sister, Gwen,” he said to Lara.

Lara nodded. “And trust me, she’s not always like this,” she giggled. “She’s usually the sane one of us all.”

“Well, that’s reassuring,” Cantor said dryly.

Gwen was still half bouncing. “Come, you have to let Mother and Father know you’ve returned!”

Khetal tossed his bag at her, and she caught it against her chest with an “Oomph!” that just about knocked her back. “Hey!”

Khetal grinned at her. “Bring my bag to my room. I’ll take care of the horses.”

Cantor stared at Khetal as he rode away, leading Lara’s horse alongside his. “He … smiles?”

Kyrie laughed and poked him in the ribs. “Yes, he does, and more. Now come on, Gwen’s right. You’ve got to come with us to see Lynliss and Leo. You have to make a good impression, after all.”

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:05 am

Location: Winum, Dolerum, Arkandia
Year: 28 071 (2571 T.A.)
Status: Mid Spring

As it turned out, Kyrie had been right in her guesses about how Lynliss and Leo would react to Lara and Cantor’s relationship. They approved quite heartily, and before winter had set in, the couple had been married. It was agreed that they would stay in Winum with the family until Lynliss had finished with observing Kyrie, and that she would escort the two of them (though it had become three of them by this time, as a year and a half had passed) to Caras Galadhon, and they would stop in Shiezin on the way.

Spring had arrived again, the second spring since their return from Shiezin, and at last, Lynliss was satisfied with her conclusion that Kyrie was – most likely – immortal. She had taken her time coming to her decision, and Kyrie blamed herself for that. While she felt energetic and young most of the time, she knew that when she thought about Ahkshi she became quiet and sometimes listless, even lethargic. She missed him. A lot. From time to time she would take out the ring he had given her and simply look at it. It was then that thoughts of him particularly took hold of her.

After a year and a half, though, she hadn’t worked though her thoughts on his proposal to her either. Be a part time wife? How would that even work? And yet she knew she wouldn’t be able to stay with him forever. She just wasn’t meant to stay in one place. And did she want more than what they had now? The only real change would be that they could begin a physical relationship, and after her past that wasn’t something she particularly cared about, one way or the other. It had lost its purity for her years previous. Not that she would deny Ahkshi if he wanted it, if they married, but ...

A knock at her door startled her from her reverie, and she dropped the ring so that it hung loosely around her neck again. She slid off her bed, where she had been lying while she thought, and opened the door. It was Lara, with her little rusty-haired babe in her arms, asleep.

“Are you coming?” she asked softly. “Cantor and I are ready whenever you are.”

Kyrie blinked at her. “Oh … sorry, I … didn’t realize …”

Lara smiled. “You’ve been thinking about Ahkshi again. Take my advice. Take him up on his offer. You love him. He loves you. You’re going to drive yourself crazy like this.”

Kyrie looked down at the infant in Lara’s arms wistfully. “I’m going to go crazy no matter what I do,” she murmured. She sighed and turned to grab her bag from beside her bed. “I’m coming. Go ahead, I’ll meet you outside.”

Lara nodded and left, leaving Kyrie to collect her thoughts.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:05 am

Location: Makshim, Shiezin, Arkandia
Year: 28 071 (2571 T.A.)
Status: Late Spring

Despite Kyrie’s indecision about Ahkshi’s proposal, she found that the closer they got to the town, the more excited she became. There was no doubt in her mind that she loved Ahkshi, and there were only three reasons why she was even hesitating about marrying him. First, because she would never be able to bear him children, and she knew that he deserved to have children. Secondly, because she was a traveler, and she knew that she would never be able to spend more than a season in one place without traveling. The year and a half she had spent in Winum had been torture, and not only because she had been away from Ahkshi. And finally, because she was afraid that if she did marry him, his people might make him leave the town for having married an outsider, and she couldn’t do that to him.

Valar forbid you ever have to make a split decision, Uruloki told her when the town came into sight. He had been party to her thoughts for the past two years, and it was the first time he had offered an opinion.

Kyrie looked at him, perched on her shoulder. “It’s not like any other decision I’ve made before,” she told him quietly, hoping that Lara and Cantor wouldn’t overhear her.

It could be, Uruloki replied simply. It’s not just about you, remember. It’s about him. If these things are bothering you, why not talk to Ahkshi about them? He can tell you one way or the other whether these things would bother him. After all, they’re all things that affect him.

He laid his head against her cheek. I’ll be there with you when you talk to him. Don’t worry about that.

Kyrie smiled and put one hand on his back. “Thank you.”

As they passed into Makshim, Kyrie let the familiarity of it wash over her. It was home to her now, just as much as Winum was home to her. She had spent enough time here to be comfortable with the people and the customs. It was a nice place, a happy place, filled with happy memories.

“Kyrie,” Cantor called from behind her.

She turned to look at him. “Yes?”

“We’re going to head straight to my parents’ place,” he told her, meaning himself and his wife and child. “You?”

“I’m going to check Ahkshi’s house first,” she told him. “If he’s not there, I’ll check the clinic, and if he’s not there, then I’ll join you.”

She waved at the two, then turned and hurried forward. Despite not knowing the answer to the question she knew he was going to ask at some point, she was very much looking forward to seeing Ahkshi.

His house was a few blocks away, but Kyrie wasted no time in getting there. She knocked at the door and waited for a response. After half a minute, she tried again. After a third attempt with no response, she sighed, disappointed, and turned away. He wasn’t home.

Not to be put down for long, she squared her shoulders and turned to head up the street, towards his clinic.

She had taken only half a dozen steps when she heard his voice shouting her name from behind her. She turned around and saw Ahkshi standing just outside his doorway, his hair dripping wet, a robe thrown hastily around his body. Her heart leapt into her throat and tears sprang to her eyes, and without hesitating she burst into a run and threw her arms around him and held him tightly.

“You’re early,” he murmured into her ear, wrapping his arms around her and holding her close.

Kyrie giggled and held him tighter. “There is no such thing when I’m coming back to you.”

Ahkshi smiled and stroked her hair gently. “C-come inside, where we c-can talk.” He kissed her on the forehead and released her, then stepped aside to let her in.

Kyrie had been in his house before, but only a few times, as Khetal had been very careful not to let her do anything improper. At this point, she was beyond impropriety, though, and she knew that if Ahkshi cared he would have asked her to meet him at his parents’ house or something instead of inviting her in.

The house was a small one, as he had few needs of his own. He had three rooms: a kitchen, where he prepared his food, a bathing room, where he took his baths, and a larger room where he did everything else: eat, sleep, work, and whatever else he did.

“Take a seat while I f-finish drying off,” he told her, motioning towards a short table where he took his meals sitting on the floor. He headed back to the bath room, and kept the door open just a sliver so that they could talk while he dried off. “You know, I really honestly w-wasn’t expecting you before s-summer. How did you manage to g-get away?”

Kyrie laughed and sat down on the bed, preferring not to sit on the floor. Not that she thought it was dirty or anything, but she just liked to be a little elevated when she could. “Well, Lynliss finally concluded that I’m probably immortal, and Lara and Cantor were eager to get back here, too.”


“I’m afraid I made it difficult for her to decide,” Kyrie smiled, setting Uruloki in her lap and stroking him from head to tail. “Physically I haven’t changed a bit, which is why she thinks I am immortal. But emotionally, I have to admit I was a bit of a wreck. I spent a lot of time just sitting in my bed and thinking. Took longer in the bath than I needed. Didn’t train myself as often. Those things made her wonder if I might be mortal.”

“That doesn’t sound l-like you.”

“I know. It’s normally not. But I was just preoccupied.”

“With what?”

“Thoughts. Of whether I was mortal or immortal, though that was mostly a passing curiosity.” She looked down at Uruloki, who was making his contented sound again. “Mostly I was thinking about you. About us.”

“That s-sounds ominous.” The door opened and Ahkshi reappeared, his hair dry now, brushed and pulled back neatly, but he hadn’t had any clothes with him in the bath room and he had only a large towel wrapped around his waist. “What are your c-concerns?”

Kyrie’s eyes drifted over his exposed body. It was the first time she had seen anything more than his head and arms, and she was surprised to find that she actually felt a desire for him. She blushed and looked down at Uruloki again.

Concern filled Ahkshi’s eyes. “Look, if you don’t want to have a ph-ph-physical relationship, I won’t ask you to. I know your p-past. I just love you.”

Kyrie shook her head. “That’s not it,” she said softly. “But you deserve to have children, and I can’t give you that.”

“Why do I d-deserve anything d-d-different than anyone else?” he asked her, sitting next to her. He took her hands in his. Uruloki opened one eye and peered at him, but he knew how important this was to Kyrie, and he simply crawled off her lap and moved to the other side of the room.

“You’re the best man I know,” Kyrie replied quietly. “You deserve someone who can make you really happy.”

“No one could ever m-m-make me happier than you do, Kyrie, you know that,” Ahkshi told her. “Even children could n-never make me happier than I am when I’m with you.” He stroked her hand softly. “If you use that as your excuse not to marry me, I’m going to be very disappointed.”

Kyrie looked up at him, her cheeks still slightly pink. “But what about my need to always travel?”

He chuckled softly. “Kyrie, if I have you f-for one season a year, I’ll b-be the h-h-happiest man alive.”

She lowered her eyes again, and she found her gaze fixed on his muscular abdomen. She felt her face growing warmer again. “And … I know that interracial couples-”

“I don’t c-care.” Ahkshi lifted her chin so that she had to look at him. “What are they g-going to do, throw out the b-best healer in a hundred-mile r-radius?”

Kyrie didn’t know what to say to that. Could they? Would they? She couldn’t see it happening. And it wasn’t like she was going to be here all the time, or that it would be obvious …

Ahkshi grinned at her, sensing victory. “Have you r-run out of objections alre-ready?”

Kyrie hesitated. “Well …”

He took the ring that was hanging around her neck and held it between two fingers just in front of her. “We-well?” he murmured, leaning closer to her.

Kyrie was growing more and more flustered. She really had nothing left to say, and as close as he was getting to her, she didn’t feel uncomfortable. She was just very aware of his lack of clothing. “Um …”

He chuckled and kissed her on the forehead, then stood up abruptly and headed to the other side of the room. “I need to get d-dressed,” he told her, taking some clothes from a wooden dresser. “I’ll be right b-back again.”

And with another grin, he headed back into the bath room, this time shutting the door properly behind him.

The moment the door was closed, Kyrie rose and moved to an open window, breathing deeply to calm herself. Who was she kidding? Why had she fought herself for so long, trying to convince herself against this? Then again, she had always rebelled against authority, tried not to listen to any advice she was given. But she was convinced now.

Whenever Ahkshi asked, she would agree wholeheartedly to be his long-distance wife.

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