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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:18 am

Location: Dekra Outskirts, Garnelia, Arkandia
Year: 29 050 (115 Fourth Age)
Status: Early Summer

Considering that they were in the middle of the forest, dinner was pretty extravagant, Kyrie thought. A tender selection of venison roasted with fresh vegetables; thick, smooth gravy for the large pot of herbed mashed potatoes; a loaf of bread fresh from the oven; and cool, clean water to drink.

“You seem to do very well, considering you don’t go to the city for trade,” Kyrie smiled as Dae’er passed her a very well loaded plate.

“We work hard to provide all that we need,” Arphenion replied, clearly pleased by Kyrie’s praise. “Mathias and Chesnet help out quite a bit as well.”

Dae’er blushed faintly as she continued to serve the rest of her family. “Until last night, I must admit I resented Mari somewhat for not helping out more than she does … but now I realize, she is very busy doing far more important things.”

Kyrie chuckled softly. “My apologies. I’m afraid I was the one who said she should trust no one.”

“With reason,” Dae’er agreed. “Do not apologize.”

“But we are very happy here,” Arphenion added. “It’s very peaceful.”

“Not at tax time,” spoke up the eldest son, a handsome young man.

“Ruaven,” Arphenion said in a warning tone.

“Ruaven is right, Papa,” the girl spoke up. Still a child, she was as beautiful as her mother, and far bolder. “The soldiers are not nice at all and it always takes you a long time to repair things after they leave.”

Kyrie blinked at that. “Why would they destroy things?”

“Well, we haven’t any money,” Arphenion explained, “and so we must pay in goods. We do what we can to keep the amount we owe as low as possible. We’ve a large cellar, well hidden, and since we came here we have always hidden the children in it.”

“Taxes are by the head,” Dae’er explained. “The more people, the more taxes you must pay.”

“We also hide away about half of our crop yield in there,” Arphenion went on. “Make it look like we haven’t much to give. They check our storehouse, take more than they’re supposed to, break a few windows, sometimes break the door … nothing that can’t be fixed. The children are safe and we are left with enough food for the winter.”

“Seems a fair arrangement,” Kyrie mused. “Though I suppose you’re not quite as far from the General’s eye as I thought.”

“No one is,” Dae’er said softly. “Even the others must pay their taxes. Mari hides as well, and Mathias and Chesnet pay in furs.”

“I think I like our taxes back home better,” Kyrie decided. “Seven percent of coin, though my husband doesn’t have to pay.”

“You’re married?” Arphenion was surprised.

Kyrie smiled. “Yes. His name is Ahkshi. He is a physician, which is why he does not pay taxes, and why he does not travel with me.”

“Ahkshi,” Dae’er repeated thoughtfully. “What country do you live in?”

“Shiezin,” Kyrie replied. “He is a fire elf. Our marriage is not much appreciated there, but he doesn’t let it bother him. The people need him, so he doesn’t fear repercussions. And there have been none since we have been married.”

“Why do you travel?” Iadrim asked curiously. “Mama would never go anywhere without Papa, or Papa without Mama.”

Kyrie rubbed the back of her neck as she thought about how to reply. “It is true, I miss Ahkshi very much when I travel,” she admitted, “but … when I was young, my family was attacked while we were traveling. My parents were killed, my brother kidnapped, and I was taken captive. I escaped and learned to fight to defend myself, and I decided that I would dedicate my life to helping other travelers, so that what happened to me and to my family would not happen to them.”

She smiled at Iadrim. “I do miss Ahkshi terribly, but it makes our time together more precious. And when I can help others … it is worth it.”

“Do you have any kids?” asked Janos. Thirteen, he was in the middle of a growth spurt, and seemed too skinny for his height.

Kyrie shook her head. “No. And I never will.” She pushed her chair back and showed them the scars that raked her belly. “I was attacked by a bear and the damage was so severe that I am unable ever to have children.”

“Aw, that’s sad.” Iadrim sighed and continued with her dinner.

“So where exactly do you travel?” asked Dae’er as she cut her meat.

Kyrie swallowed down her mouthful of food. “Well, I’ve been in every country on the continent except for a few of the White Elven countries,” she replied. “They’re too dangerous. I’ve enough of my mother’s blood in me to pass for human in the human countries, and enough of my father’s blood to pass for elven in the elven countries, but White Elves are too dangerous. They’ll kill anyone who isn’t a White Elf.”

“You’re a half-blood, then?” Hamir spoke up for the first time. His youthful features were etched with surprise. “I mean, I kind of wondered – you don’t … uh … I mean …”

Kyrie laughed. “I know. My clothes, my ears, my height … not exactly standard, are they?”

Hamir blushed and fixed his eyes on his food.

The comment caused Iadrim to look at Kyrie’s clothes more closely. “I don’t know,” she said hesitantly. “I think it would be too cold to dress like that …”

Dae’er put her face in her hands, and Kyrie knew what she was thinking: Don’t you ever dare dress like that! Kyrie would discourage most people from dressing like her, too, for many reasons. Modesty being the primary one. But she also knew that Dae’er would not say it aloud for fear of offending Kyrie, and so she took it upon herself to reply.

“Well, Iadrim,” she smiled, “for most people, yes, it would be too cold, and also very dangerous. In fact, I don’t know anyone else who dresses like me, and really, it’s not a very good idea. But I dress like this for two reasons. For one, I don’t feel cold, so I don’t have to worry about that. And secondly, I-”

She caught herself just in time. She couldn’t just say, I’ve been violated in every way imaginable and so I have no modesty to worry about. She was dealing with a child, a child younger than she herself had been when her parents had taken her and Khetal on that fateful trip.

So what then? I need it for my work? She didn’t work in a brothel, though her clothes suggested otherwise. For freedom of movement? Other clothes allowed the same.

Iadrim was watching her intently. “Because you don’t feel cold,” she repeated, “and …”

Kyrie smiled faintly. “I’m sorry. But I can’t explain my other reason. But trust me when I say that it is extremely unwise for anyone else to dress like this.”

“Oh.” Iadrim was still watching her, though. After a moment, she pointed at Kyrie’s stomach. “Why did you paint a dragon on you?”

Kyrie laughed. “Oh, it’s not paint, it’s a tattoo.”

“A tattoo?”

Kyrie nodded. “Yes. I … just trust me when I tell you that you don’t want one. It nearly killed me, getting it.”

Iadrim was puzzled. “Then why did you get it?”

Kyrie looked over to Dae’er and Arphenion. “May I?” she asked, gesturing towards Uruloki’s image.

The two exchanged a glance, then nodded, and Kyrie smiled at Iadrim. “Don’t be afraid,” she murmured.

The tattoo rippled and Uruloki slid into Kyrie’s lap – hatchling sized, as appropriate for the situation.

Iadrim’s eyes lit up, though the boys just stared in surprise and fear. “He’s so cute!” she exclaimed, pushing back her chair and coming closer for a better look.

“Iadrim,” Dae’er cautioned her.

“No, it’s all right,” Kyrie replied with a smile. “He is harmless to those who mean no harm to me.”

Iadrim didn’t hesitate to reach out and stroke Uruloki’s head. “What’s his name?” she asked eagerly.

“My name is Uruloki,” the dragon replied for himself. Iadrim squealed excitedly, and Kyrie laughed softly and returned to her meal.

This might just turn out to be more fun than she thought.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:18 am

Location: Ostacarad, Kelxit, Arkandia
Year: 29 050 (115 Fourth Age)
Status: Early Winter

Kyrie had spent the entire Summer and Fading in Dekra, helping Mari where she could and getting to know the new family there. She had also trained Arphenion and Dae’er’s children in the use of weapons and had stolen some for them out of the palace armoury – with the help of Maravel, of course. But with winter coming, she wanted to move on. If possible, she would like to make it all the way to Caras Galadhon to visit her family; but if not, she wanted to at least spend the winter somewhere a bit warmer.

Kelxit was only slightly further south, but had a completely different climate. Only the north was heavily forested, and the rest of the country was mainly rock. It was inhabited by Earth Elves, and over the years of her travel, Kyrie had made many friends in the country.

There was one man in particular that she liked to stay with: Vaan, a fur trader whom she could always count on to let her sleep in his fur shed. In return, she always brought him some furs that she took on her way there. Having spent so much time in the forests, she was very good at trapping the animals and the furs she brought always fetched a higher price because they had less damage than the rest. He was good at his job, but Earth Elves were not as skilled in the forest as others.

This time, as she left the forest and headed for the town where he lived, she pulled a bundle of elk pelts on a makeshift sledge. Elk were very large and difficult to hunt without damaging the pelt, so their furs, if undamaged, were worth quite a bit. Three sets of antlers dangled from her hip: those she would keep, though she would share the meat with the entire town. There was enough meat from the elk she had caught to feed a large number of people, and she half-wondered if they mightn’t make a feast for the occasion.

It wouldn’t surprise her. The people here threw a feast for every reason they could think of.

There were also other things from the elk that she would give to the people: the hearts could be made into a concoction to ease stiff joints – an ever present ailment to the people who spent a good deal of their time working with the rock; tails which could be made into dusters; and hooves which could be ground into a sticky paste.

As she drew near the town of Ostacarad, she saw the town’s blacksmith outside, working at her forge. She raised her free hand to wave, and the brown-skinned woman broke into a wide smile and waved back enthusiastically.

Valar be praised! Kyrie’s returned!” she shouted, turning towards the town and waving her hammer to get peoples’ attention.

The younger people of the town of course had no idea what she was talking about, since Kyrie had been absent for two full centuries, but the older ones were clearly excited by the news. By the time Kyrie actually made it to the town, there was a crowd waiting to welcome her. Vaan was at the front of it, his brown eyes bright with excitement. “Kyrie!” he exclaimed, arms outstretched. “Welcome back!”

When she was close enough, he threw his arms around her and hugged her tightly. She laughed and dropped the rope with which she was pulling the sledge and returned the hug. Before Vaan let go of her, he kissed her lightly on both cheeks.

“Let me get that for you,” he grinned, bending over and grabbing the sledge rope before she could take it up again. He put his other arm around her shoulders and started walking with her through the crowd.

“Make way!” he grinned. “Make way! Valuable cargo coming through!”

“Valuable cargo?” Kyrie laughed. “What am I, chattel?”

“Who said I was talking about you?” Vaan teased her. “It’s the gifts you always bring us!”

“In that case …” With a grin, Kyrie ducked out from his arm and took a step back.

Vaan squawked and dropped the rope in his attempt to grab for her again. “I was kidding! Kidding!”

Kyrie laughed, as did the crowd around them. “Well, I’ve food for the entire town,” she began; and, as expected, Telmar the mason was the first to shout “Feast!”

His suggestion was met with a roar of approval, and the crowd began to take from the sledge the things that they knew were for them: physician taking the things for remedies, the bookmaker the hooves for paste, and everyone enough of the meat for their families. The pelts were left for Vaan, and nothing else was left over.

“You’ve really turned this into an art,” Kyrie remarked in wonder, grinning at Vaan.

He chuckled. “Well … they’ve had practice at gauging portions, let’s just say,” he winked at her. “Now come on, I can see you’ve got some excellent pelts for me. How many?”

“Ten,” Kyrie grinned. “All elk. Three male, seven female.”

She saw the light in his eyes, and she laughed again. She knew he preferred the fur from the females when possible. It was softer. She liked the male elk better, since they usually had more to offer for meat and supplies, though one of either would feed her for two weeks, easily.

She smiled and put one hand on his arm to draw his attention away from the furs she had brought. “Come on, let’s put this away. There’s a feast to prepare for.”

Vaan laughed heartily. “So there is!” he agreed jovially. He slapped her amiably on the back. “And you, Kyrie, are going to explain why you’ve been away without a word for two centuries!”

“Adventure stories? You?” Kyrie teased him. She knew full well he loved tales of her travels. She didn’t tell about all of her adventures – she couldn’t tell him about Garnelia and her part in what was going on there, for example – but she managed to keep him entertained. She also passed on stories that she’d heard in other places.

Vaan pouted. “Kyrie …”

She couldn’t help but laugh. “All right, all right,” she giggled. “At the feast.”

Vaan’s eyes sparkled with anticipation. He knew he wasn’t the only one who would hold her to that promise.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:18 am

Location: Caras Galadhon, Caras Galadhon, Arkandia
Year: 29 050 (115 Fourth Age)
Status: 20 Stirring

The morning after Kyrie had arrived in Caras Galadhon, she woke early. Of course, she had gone to bed early, so it stood to reason. She left the bed silently, careful not to wake her niece, and dressed quietly and headed outside. She wanted to talk to Luk, her oldest friend, and she wanted to meet his family. His sister.

She shook her head. How had Elysia survived across an ocean? To the continent the furthest away, of all places? And still been strong enough to give birth? There was no surprise that it had taken her life, she must have already been half dead by that point. Still …

The sun was up by the time she reached the city’s northern gate, and no one questioned her as she left the city. She followed the white marble path to Luk’s house and blinked in surprise when she came upon three tents. All was quiet, and for a moment she thought that perhaps she should turn around, let people wake on their own – but then one of the tent flaps opened and a young woman stepped out. She was slightly taller than Kyrie, and with her golden hair and light mocha skin, Kyrie could tell that she was of some kind of mixed blood.

“Good morning,” the girl said, smiling brightly despite the fact that she was clearly surprised to see Kyrie.

“Good morning,” Kyrie replied, blinking at her. “Who are you?”

The girl giggled. “I’m River. Are you looking for my uncle?”

“Your uncle?”

The girl laughed and nodded. “Yes, my uncle. Uncle Luk. This is his place, after all.”

A slow smile crept over Kyrie’s face. “Then his family is larger than I was led to believe,” she mused. “Yes, I’m here to see your uncle.” Then, remembering her manners, she added, “I’m Kyrie. Luk’s friend.”

River beamed at Kyrie. “Oh! Uncle Luk told us a bit about you! He said he hasn’t heard from you in a really long time, though. I bet he’ll be glad to see you!”

Suddenly the flap behind her opened again, and a slightly taller girl, his one black-haired and dark skinned, stepped out. “River-” she said; and then she cut herself off when she spotted Kyrie.

Kyrie smiled at the girl. “Hi.”

The girl nodded in greeting, and Kyrie saw the familiar flicker of her eyes going over Kyrie’s appearance. It didn’t bother Kyrie. She was used to it, after all.

River was still grinning. “This is Kyrie,” she told the other girl. “Uncle Luk’s friend. Kyrie, this is my older sister, Jasmine.”

“Pleasure to meet you,” Kyrie smiled.

The girl dipped ever so slightly in a hint of a curtsey. “And you,” she said in a voice barely above a whisper.

River laughed and poked her sister in the side. “Don’t mind her,” she grinned at Kyrie. “She gets her shyness from Mama.”

Without another word, Jasmine returned inside the tent, but River stepped into the yard and beckoned for Kyrie to follow her. “Come on,” she invited her. “Uncle Luk’s always the first one up. I bet he’ll be really happy to see you!”

That alone made Kyrie grin even wider. She hadn’t seen Luk smile in nearly a thousand years.

When they entered the house, Luk was preparing some breakfast while a blond-haired young man was sitting at the table.

“Good morning!” River chirped, leaving Kyrie at the door and seating herself in the chair next to the blond young man. Kyrie chuckled to herself as she watched the young man smile warmly at River before greeting her with a kiss on the cheek.

“Morning, River,” Luk called over his shoulder without looking up from his preparations.

“No greeting for me?” Kyrie teased him, leaning against the doorway.

Luk whirled around, his eyes wide. “Kyrie!” he cried joyfully when he saw her. He laughed aloud and dropped what he was doing and threw his arms around Kyrie and twirled her around. “You’re alive!”

Kyrie laughed and hugged him back when he put her back on the floor. “Yes, yes I am. It’s good to see you again, Luk. And I hear you have a family now!”

Luk chuckled. “You have no idea. Stick around, you’ll meet them all soon enough. I can see you’ve already met River.”

Kyrie grinned at the golden-haired girl. “Yes. And Jasmine.”

Luk chuckled again. “Well, this here is Jess. No relation yet, but he and River will be married as soon as both of them are sixteen.”

“Hello,” Jess said shyly. Kyrie grinned and returned the greeting. She moved away from the door as she heard someone outside take the latch, and in stepped a whole train of people: a tall blond-haired man with a scarred face; an earth elven woman with one eye scarred shut; a pale-haired earth elf with vibrant violet eyes; a light elven woman; then Jasmine; and finally a smaller version of Jasmine.

Kyrie had never met Leontis, and didn’t even know what race he was, but considering that the Four Lands naturally held only Light and Dark elves, she had a feeling she knew which of these was Luk’s half-sister.

“Kyrie,” Luk grinned widely, stepping forward and putting his hand on one of the one-eyed woman’s shoulders, “this is my sister, Arthael. Arthael, my childhood friend, Kyrie.”

The two women smiled at each other, and Arthael bowed her head. “A pleasure to meet you,” the darker woman said softly.

“Likewise,” Kyrie beamed. She laughed softly. “It’s like meeting a ghost.”

“So I’m told,” Arthael chuckled. “I’m also told I look like my father.”

“I wouldn’t know,” Kyrie said apologetically. “I never met your father. Your mother was one of the most amazing people I ever knew, though.” She tilted her head and smiled. “You have her eye. Eyes.” She added that last word quickly, anxious that she might have offended the woman.

Arthael just smiled. “Thank you. Don’t mind my eye. Humans.”

Kyrie’s smile turned sympathetic, and she gestured towards the scars that covered her body. “Same.”

Luk took his hand from Arthael’s shoulder and continued on to introduce the others: Halmir, Arthael’s husband; their son, Timaeus, and his wife, Alyse; and their three daughters, Jasmine (the eldest), River, and Brooke (the youngest). Jess was River’s fiancé, as Luk had already explained, and it seemed that both of them were just shy of adulthood, when Timaeus and Alyse would allow their daughter to marry Jess.

Kyrie stayed for breakfast, asking and fielding questions, and after breakfast was over, it became apparent just how comfortable the family had grown to be in the city. Most of them left to do their own thing, and only Brooke stayed behind with Arthael, Kyrie and Luk. Dishes were of course the first thing on the agenda, and Kyrie was more than willing to help out, which gave Brooke the opportunity she needed to go back out to the tents and play. It was also a good time for conversation.

“So what do you do, Kyrie?” Arthael asked curiously. “Professionally, I mean.”

The question was one that Kyrie hadn’t really thought about before. Having a profession usually implied that the person made a living doing their job, and she didn’t really earn money. She wasn’t sure her work with Ahkshi counted, since really she just helped out – he was the doctor.

“Travel, I suppose,” she answered finally. “Sometimes I stay in a place for a while, but more or less I’m always on the move. I spent the last two centuries with my husband, Ahkshi. He’s a physician, so I helped him out there.”

“You’re married?” Arthael sounded surprised. “But you’re here alone?”

Kyrie smiled ruefully. “He can’t travel, and I can’t stay in one place. It just makes our time together all the sweeter.”

Arthael frowned slightly. “Why can’t you stay in one place?” she asked, not understanding.

Now that was an easier question to answer. She’d been asked that same question far too many times. “Because there are people who need me,” she said simply. “People who travel … sometimes they’re not even travelers. But things happen. Attacks. Kidnappings. Accidents. People being forced into slavery. People who need help. For whatever reason, they need help. I have the ability to help them … and as such, the responsibility to help them.”

She grew quiet then, thinking once more about the last bodies that had been found near Makshim. If only …

No, she had to put away that kind of thinking.

She shook herself out of her reverie and looked back at Arthael, who was smiling bemusedly at her. “What?” she asked, confused.

Arthael chuckled softly. “Your profession does not sound so different from my own. Halmir and I met at the ranch where we work, and where we now live. Haven. For a long time, dwarfs and humans were stealing elven children and using them as slaves. The ranch was established to stop that. It took us a long time, but we did it. We hope.”

Kyrie shook her head wistfully. “I wish I could know that my actions were doing any good,” she murmured. “Every time I turn around, there are more people that I didn’t save … people who are dead, or worse … it drives me mad.”

“You’ve always seemed pretty sane to me,” Luk put in.

Kyrie laughed. “Yeah, well, you were the crazy one who cut yourself off from civilization for a millennium. Anything is sane next to that.”

Arthael chuckled at that. “Well, just be careful not to have too many weapons on you when my husband comes back,” she warned Kyrie with a grin. “He might challenge you to a spar.”

Kyrie half-smiled. “I’m afraid that might not be a good idea,” she said apologetically. “I don’t … spar.” She never had, aside from her white elven teacher, and she didn’t want to delve into that memory. “I kill.”

Arthael shook her head sympathetically. “Then you’re more merciful than I am,” she said softly.

Kyrie could hear in her voice that she didn’t want to explain, so she didn’t press. Still, she couldn’t help but wonder.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:19 am

Location: Caras Galadhon, Caras Galadhon, Arkandia
Year: 29 051 (116 Fourth Age)
Status: 47 Summer

Kyrie was rather enjoying her time in Caras Galadhon with her sister’s family. Of course, neither of the children was living at home anymore by this time, but she still saw them regularly. She enjoyed visiting Corazin at his shop, though she only did so usually once a week, as he was busy with his young apprentice; but she made regular visits to Lily at her new home. It was a busy time for Luk and Lily – Lily was still making the house a home, since they had only been there a few weeks, and Luk was working hard at building a house for someone else as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality so that this other person could also get married.

On this day, though, Kyrie was on her own. Lara had been commissioned to do another portrait, Cantor had been asked to review the city’s books, Lily had gone with Luk to the new house to help out, and Corazin was in the forge with his apprentice. As it was a particularly warm day, Kyrie had decided to go for a swim. There were several people at the beach, but she ignored them, preferring to swim alone. Truth be told, she wasn’t a very social person, so it didn’t bother her in the least.

She had spent the better part of an hour in the water when she noticed that one of the people on the shore was watching her with seemingly more than a passing interest. She was fairly tall, so Kyrie guessed that she didn’t have any human blood in her, though she looked as though she were part light elf and part white elf. She was very pale, though not white, as was her hair; and her lips and eyes were a matching tint of pale lavender. The way she watched Kyrie was a bit unnerving for her – she couldn’t think of why anyone would pay her much mind, especially when most people went out of their way to ignore her.

You could always ask her why she’s watching you, Uruloki pointed out as Kyrie dove beneath the water again. And you know that if you don’t, it’s going to bother you.

Both were good points, Kyrie had to concede, and so she changed direction and headed back for the shore. She had not brought a towel with her, counting on the sun to dry her well enough before she returned to Lara and Cantor’s house, so she headed directly for the woman.

She was puzzled when she saw the woman smile at her as she approached, but she hid it as she had so long ago learned to hide all of her emotions.

“Good afternoon, Kyrie,” the woman greeted her warmly, surprising Kyrie. “I don’t suppose you remember me. The only time we have seen each other was at Luk and Lily’s wedding.”

Kyrie thought back to the event. Yes, she remembered now … She smiled and nodded. “We never had a chance to speak, though.”

The woman shook her head. “No, unfortunately we did not. But it was a very hectic day, so perhaps that can be excused. After all, it was a very large gathering of people.” She held out one hand to her. “Kyrie, right?”

Kyrie nodded and shook her hand. “Yes. And you are …?”

The woman smiled warmly. “Lancaeriel. I understand you are going to be our guide when we travel the continent. You are a seasoned traveler, yes?”

Kyrie nodded again, more slowly this time. “I am. You’re one of the people who are coming along on the trip, then?”

She couldn’t help but give the woman another look. She seemed a very dainty woman, wearing a fancy dress even on a hot day like this, her hands smooth and soft and perfectly clean. She looked as though she had never worked a day in her life … or fought. Clearly, she was going to be one of the people who needed protecting.

Lancaeriel tilted her head and nodded. “Yes. My hope is to find my husband, if he is in this land. He was killed many years ago, and I am hoping that by this time he might have been reborn again.”

“I see.” Kyrie wasn’t quite sure what to make of that. Obviously, the woman had been through this sort of thing before.

“I just hope that it’s not as dangerous to travel as most people seem to believe,” Lancaeriel added, sounding somewhat worried. “I mean … they make it sound as if the moment we leave the borders of Caras Galadhon, we’ll be killed.”

Kyrie smiled faintly at that. “Oh, it’s not that bad,” she assured the pale woman. “Yes, you need to be careful, and it’s best if everyone has a weapon to defend themselves in case of an attack … but I’ve been traveling for nearly a thousand years, and I’m still here.”

She hesitated a moment, then asked, “Do you carry a weapon?”

Lancaeriel pursed her lips thoughtfully. “Well,” she murmured, “I suppose it depends on how you define ‘weapon’. I have a knife, though admittedly it would not be much of a defense. It’s more for cooking.”

Kyrie nodded and smiled, but inwardly her heart was sinking. Useless. She felt like a babysitter. She had thought that at least all of the adults in the group would be able to defend themselves.

“You seem disappointed,” Lancaeriel said, smiling faintly at Kyrie. “Please, do not underestimate me. I am well able to take care of myself.”

“Oh?” Kyrie asked, unable to hide her scepticism completely.

Lancaeriel smiled and nodded. “I have spent my life – all of my lives – studying magic,” she said quietly. “And while my focus was on magic in general – how it works, why it works, why some people can use it and others cannot – we all learned to defend ourselves with it as well. As with any great power, it can be used to aid or to afflict. To heal or to destroy.”

Kyrie was confused. “I thought that magic was innate, not learned,” she said slowly; “that if you were not born with it, you couldn’t use it. Otherwise there would be more magic in this city, wouldn’t there?”

“That depends on how you define magic, I suppose,” Lancaeriel mused. “If you are born without magic, clearly you will never have the innate abilities that elves have. But it does not necessarily follow that you will never be able to use it. You will simply have to learn what is available to you and how to control it.”

Her eyes narrowed slightly and her brow furrowed thoughtfully. “And I cannot explain why,” she said so softly that Kyrie had to strain to hear her, “but I have the oddest feeling that you do have some magic at your fingertips. It is a faint signature, but … it is there …”

Kyrie wracked her brains trying to imagine what the woman might be talking about. She didn’t know … and it was a little creepy.

“Perhaps it’s the fact that my elven blood is stronger than my human blood, and I’m immortal,” she suggested.

Lancaeriel nodded slowly, but Kyrie could tell that she didn’t agree with the suggestion. Still, she really couldn’t think of anything else it might be.

“Were your wounds healed by magic?” Lancaeriel asked, nodding at the scars that covered Kyrie’s body.

Kyrie blinked. It had been a very long time since she had even thought about her old scars. She tried to think back to the time of her imprisonment. Had her wounds been healed magically? She doubted it. She had been held captive by humans, they wouldn’t have had the magic to use. Had they even been treated?

She honestly couldn’t remember. It had been a very long time ago, and her mind had mercifully erased the worst of the memories of her captivity.

“I don’t think so,” she said finally, “though I can’t say for certain.”

She ran her fingers through her hair and adjusted the band with the stone she used as an eye patch. She wasn’t sure what to say. She wasn’t really a conversationalist, especially with people that she didn’t know, and she felt as though she had just about run out of conversation.

You could ask her how she knows so much about magic, Uruloki pointed out from his place on Kyrie’s abdomen.

Lancaeriel’s eyes narrowed ever so slightly, so briefly that Kyrie almost missed it.

“Anyways,” Kyrie smiled at the woman, hoping that she wasn’t being too abrupt, “I need to dry off and find a change of clothes. It was nice meeting you.”

“Likewise,” Lancaeriel replied, bowing her head respectfully.

With a final wave, Kyrie left.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:19 am

Location: Makshim, Shiezin, Arkandia
Year: 29 051 (116 Fourth Age)
Status: 50 Stirring

On the way back to Ahkshi’s clinic after bringing the rest of the group to the inn, Kyrie was thoughtful. How were they going to pay for the group’s stay at the inn, indeed? At the moment, they were using three rooms, but if Iorlas and Daeron joined the rest of them, that would be four … and even if one room wasn’t expensive, four rooms quickly became quite pricey, especially when they didn’t know how long they were going to be staying there.

Akoreyl and Coravel, Ahkshi’s parents, would have the room at their home for at least a few of the travelers. They had the two rooms that had once been Ahkshi’s and Cantor’s, as well as two other guest rooms. But even that wouldn’t be enough for the group, since that still only totaled four beds. Even with two to a room, that would leave two of the group on their own – plus the child they’d found.

By the time she had reasoned this much, she had arrived once more at the clinic, and she headed in to join her husband, Iorlas, Daeron and the child. By this point, they had left the emergency room and were in one of the recovery rooms. A soft bed had been made up for the young child, who, at this point, had fallen asleep.

“What news?” she murmured softly in the Common Tongue, sidling up to Ahkshi and slipping one arm around his waist.

He smiled softly and drew her close, tucking her head under his chin. “He’s t-t-taken almost a f-f-full bottle,” he replied just as softly. “And with the extras I a-added to it, there’s h-h-hope.” He pressed a kiss to her forehead. “Y-you got him here j-j-just in time.”

Iorlas and Daeron were sitting together on the edge of the bed, just beyond where the child was lying, and Iorlas looked up at the two of them when she heard Ahkshi’s remark.

“If he does recover,” she asked quietly, “will there be lasting damage?”

A pained expression crossed Ahkshi’s pale face. “Unf-f-f-fortunately,” he murmured, “given the t-t-time it took to get him here … y-y-yes. I c-c-can’t say what it will b-be, b-b-but … there will be s-some.”

He looked down at Kyrie. “W-w-what happened?” he asked.

Kyrie grimaced. “As best as I could tell, given that I couldn’t complete my investigation, it looked like an honour killing,” she replied.

“Honour killing?” Daeron repeated curiously. “What’s that mean?”

Kyrie looked at the foreign prince. “It means that it’s most likely that White Elves from Sier Belen felt that their family was dishonoured or shamed by the fact that their daughter – or whatever relation she was to them, a sister perhaps – chose to marry someone of another race, which in their eyes is an abomination. In order to restore honour to the family – which is a big thing for the White Elves – they had to destroy not only the girl, but the man who had, in their eyes, seduced her, as well as their offspring. The rest of the people in the area were in all likelihood nothing but collateral damage.”

Fury blazed in Daeron’s eyes, but the young man managed to keep himself outwardly calm. Iorlas simply looked sad.

“Even here, where the Valar lived and guided the people for so long,” the prince seethed, “people are so foolish. I had thought that in our land it was at least partially understandable, since the dwarfs were not creations of Eru, but here – here where everyone is essentially the same – I would never have expected …”

He trailed off, the touch of his wife’s hand on his cheek keeping him from losing his temper.

“And we shall raise this child,” she told him softly, “and teach him better.”

Knowing what Iorlas was – or rather, what she had been, Kyrie couldn’t help the questions that suddenly flooded her mind. Had Daeron known about Iorlas’ past when he had fallen in love with her? Had she already become an elf at that point? As one who had once been another creature, did Iorlas have the same capabilities of the elves? Would Daeron and Iorlas ever be blessed with children of their own? Or, like she and Ahkshi, would they remain barren?

The touch of Ahkshi’s hand on her shoulder drew her back to the present.

“You’re l-l-looking thoughtful again,” he murmured softly into her ear.

Kyrie shook her head to clear it and sighed. “Nothing that’s my business,” she told him. It wasn’t a matter of her keeping Iorlas’ secret: she would never dream of keeping such a thing from her husband, just as she never kept anything else from him; but it was exactly as she had said. The questions she had weren’t her business; they were the private affairs of the young couple in question. It would be rude of her to ask them.

“Anyways, we’re going to need to sleep in shifts,” she murmured, slipping out of Ahkshi’s arms and sitting on the second bed in the room. “Someone is going to have to watch him all night, and if he wakes, try to get him to keep drinking.”

Ahkshi nodded. “I’ll prep-p-pare more of the solution f-f-for him,” he told them, “so that we w-w-w-won’t run out in the night.”

“Iorlas,” Daeron said as Ahkshi left the room, “you should sleep first. You never slept a wink on the trip here.”

Iorlas shook her head. “I want to watch him.”

Daeron sighed and tugged her gently away from the boy. “You have limitations,” he reminded her. “Come on.”

“I’ll take the first watch,” Kyrie volunteered, moving off the bed so that Daeron and Iorlas could take it. “Both of you, rest. I’ll wake you in a few hours.”

She made sure they were comfortable, brought in a second pillow and a blanket for them; and when Ahkshi returned, she put a finger to her lips and nodded towards them to let them know that they were both fast asleep. Ahkshi smiled warmly, and he and Kyrie took a seat where the others had been sitting earlier. It felt good to be back with Ahkshi again – it had been a long absence for Kyrie this time – and rather than waking Daeron and Iorlas as she had promised them, Kyrie spent the entire night watching the child and simply talking with Ahkshi. Despite the grim situation, she had to admit that she was happier than she had been in a while.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:19 am

Location: Makshim, Shiezin, Arkandia
Year: 29 051 (116 Fourth Age)
Status: 51 Stirring

It was Daeron who woke first in the morning, and as he fought the grogginess he couldn’t shake a feeling that something was off. The first thing he saw was Iorlas lying next to him, still fast asleep; and after pressing a light kiss to her forehead, he blinked to clear his vision and looked around. They were still in the recovery room, together in one bed, while the child, a light blanket over him, was on the other bed. Also on the other bed were Kyrie and her husband. Ahkshi was awake, and he put a finger to his lips when he saw Daeron look towards him, then gestured towards Kyrie, who was fast asleep sitting up against him, her head on his shoulder.

“She j-j-just fell asleep,” he whispered in the Common Tongue. “She d-d-d-doesn’t d-d-do that enough.” And he put his finger to his lips again.

Daeron nodded. He knew the feeling. Iorlas didn’t always sleep either, when something was troubling her.

“Is it morning?” he asked quietly, his voice thick with sleep, as he glanced towards the window.

Ahkshi nodded. “Barely. The city w-w-won’t be up for an-n-nother hour or s-so.”

Daeron nodded again and yawned. He was comfortable, and he didn’t particularly want to get up; but he knew that if he wanted to let Iorlas continue sleeping, it was probably better if he did. Carefully, he peeled back the blanket and slid off the side of the bed, pulling the blanket back up over Iorlas’ shoulders and tucking it under her chin. She shifted slightly in her sleep and her fist closed around a wrinkle in the sheet, but she kept sleeping.

“How’s the boy?” Daeron asked, coming around the bed and looking at the child.

Ahkshi smiled. “He w-woke three t-times in the n-n-night,” he murmured, “and each t-t-time he drank a f-fair amount. H-h-his c-c-colour is imp-p-proving already, as is his b-breathing. I think he’s g-going to m-make it.”

Daeron smiled with relief. He knew Iorlas would be happy, too.

Ahkshi’s smile grew wider. “It’s g-g-good to s-s-see that your wife isn’t the only one who c-c-cares.”

“Are you kidding me?” Daeron chuckled. “This may be the only child we ever have.” At the physician’s curious look, he explained, “Because of an experience in Iorlas’ past, we don’t know if she’s able to bear children. It’s something we’re prepared for, though of course there’s always the hope of someday. Miracles are known to happen.”

He wasn’t prepared for the shadow that passed over Ahkshi’s face. “What?” he asked guardedly.

Ahkshi shook his head. “It’s n-nice that you can still d-dream,” he replied quietly. With his fingertips, he lightly brushed some of Kyrie’s hair away from her ear. She sighed softly, still asleep, and settled closer against him, and Ahkshi looked up at Daeron again. “We’ve kn-nown since before we were m-m-married that Kyrie would never have ch-children, and she almost r-r-refused to m-marry m-me because of it.”

He smiled softly. “It’s n-never bothered m-me, but … I kn-now that she still r-re-regrets it.”

Daeron opened his mouth to ask what had happened to prevent Kyrie from having children, but then he realized that if Ahkshi had asked him for the same detail about Iorlas, he wouldn’t answer. He closed his mouth again and simply nodded sympathetically.

Instead, he decided to ask a different question he’d been wondering about, though he wasn’t sure if he was being too nosy about this either.

“Tell me if this is too personal,” he began cautiously, “but … your stutter … you didn’t have it when we first arrived, when you were examining the child …”

Ahkshi chuckled, which filled Daeron with relief that he hadn’t said anything insulting.

“N-no, no,” the physician assured him, “f-for some reason that’s the only t-time it leaves me alone. It’s s-some-something I’ve always h-had and n-no one knows why.” He shrugged one shoulder, the one his wife wasn’t lying against. “Half the time I f-forget that I have it.”

Daeron was about to reply when suddenly the child began to stir. He froze. He had no idea what to do. His eyes flickered towards Ahkshi for direction, but the physician just smiled.

“Kyrie’s been sleeping for ha-half an hour,” he said simply. “I’m n-not moving. W-wake I-I-Iorlas, she knows how to ch-check him.”

Daeron didn’t want to wake Iorlas either, but Ahkshi had a point: Iorlas had had a full night of sleep, but Kyrie hadn’t, and both had been awake equally long. Not to mention, he was certain that Iorlas would relish the opportunity to care for the child that she’d found.

With a nod, he turned to do as he was told.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:20 am

Location: Makshim, Shiezin, Arkandia
Year: 29 051 (116 Fourth Age)
Status: 51 Stirring

As Kyrie made her way to her and Ahkshi’s home, she brooded over the rudeness of her mother-in-law. The way she had swept into the clinic was one thing – calling out despite knowing there was a patient who, for all she knew, could have been resting – but then, in front of the others, she had openly shown her prejudice against those who were different from her. Her slur about Kyrie being willing to pick up any trash she found was beyond unforgivable. And while it was clear that Akoreyl hadn’t expected anyone to understand what she had said, the worst part was that Iorlas, having once been a dragon and thus having a gift for languages, would undoubtedly have understood.

“You could always apologize for them on Akoreyl’s behalf,” Uruloki reminded her from his perch on her shoulder. “I’m sure they would understand. They wouldn’t hold it against either you or Ahkshi.”

He was speaking in the White Elven tongue, a language no one in the city would understand – with the exception, of course, of Iorlas and Andarien. And since neither of them was around, it was a safe way to have a private conversation.

“I’m just amazed she had the gall to say something like that,” Kyrie muttered darkly. “I mean, honestly. I’ve always known she’s not fond of me, but I at least thought she would have the decency to keep her prejudice to herself in front of others. And there’s a reason I introduced them with their titles! Even if she doesn’t respect their races, couldn’t she at least respect their positions?”

Uruloki nuzzled against her ear, trying to calm her. “I know,” he murmured reassuringly. “But look at the bright side. Ahkshi is nothing like her.”

Kyrie sighed. “Yes, I know. But I somehow doubt now that, despite the fact that she and Coravel have enough room for at least most of them, they would be willing to take them in. The inn is way too expensive. They’re planning to be here for quite a while, which I really hope they do. But we need to find somewhere for them to stay.”

“Not before tomorrow,” Uruloki said firmly. “You and I are under strict orders. You are going to sleep, and I am going to make sure that you sleep, if I have to bite everyone who comes near the door.”

His comment drew a laugh from Kyrie, relieving some of her tension, and she reached up and plucked the tiny dragon from her shoulder and hugged him gently. “What would I do without you?” she giggled. “But please don’t bite anyone. If I’m not allowed back to the city, Ahkshi would have to leave, too, and I don’t want to make things harder on him than they already are.”

Uruloki stuck out his tongue. “Spoilsport.”

They arrived at the house, and Kyrie let herself in. “No one will come looking for me, I’m sure, but do keep an eye for me, won’t you?” she requested, holding the door open.

Uruloki hopped out of her arms to the ground. “You know you don’t have to ask.”

As he flew up to his perch on the roof above the door, Kyrie smiled and closed the door. As much as she wanted to be a part of what was going on, she knew she needed sleep.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:20 am

Location: Makshim, Shiezin, Arkandia
Year: 29 051 (116 Fourth Age)
Status: 51 Stirring

More than sleep, Kyrie desperately wanted a bath. It had been a long time since anyone in the group had had the opportunity to have a proper wash, and so rather than making her way to the bed – which, she admitted, looked incredibly inviting at the moment – she filled the tub in the bathing room. As she sank into the tepid water, she wished belatedly that she’d had the foresight to ask Ahkshi to at least come and warm the water before going back to watch Amir again. When she was bonded with Uruloki, the coolness didn’t bother her; but without him she was far from accustomed to it. And frankly, she didn’t have the energy at this point to go and ask him to come in again.

She cleaned as quickly as she could, though with her lack of energy it still took some time, and then she dried, dressed and drained the tub. Since her own clothes were dirty, she picked some of Ahkshi’s non-robes to wear. If it were night, she wouldn’t have bothered with even that; but during the day there was always the risk of having to answer the door, so it was best to have something on, she reasoned. Even with Uruloki keeping watch.

She was just about to turn in – had already pulled the blanket back, in fact – when the door opened and Ahkshi stepped in. She blinked at him, surprised to see him.

“You came home quickly,” she commented. “Something happening?”

Ahkshi smiled. “Amir is doing well, they’re g-going out, and I need s-sleep.” He put his arms around her and kissed her warmly. “S-so I thought I’d j-join you.”

“To sleep?” Kyrie teased him.

Ahkshi chuckled softly. “To sleep.” He pressed his lips to her forehead. “Come on.”

They both dropped off immediately, their exhaustion leaving them no other option, but within the hour they were both awake again, jarred to alertness by the shaking of everything around them.

Kyrie groaned and buried her head under the blanket. “Seriously? Now? It’s been two decades. Why just when I’m trying to sleep?”

She jerked her head up at the sound of something falling to the floor – a framed painting of her and Ahkshi that Lara had done before they’d been married. The frame cracked, sending splinters flying. A candle toppled from the dining table, and half of Ahkshi’s books tumbled from their shelves.

Ahkshi scowled, putting one arm around Kyrie and leaning over her to protect her head from other falling objects. “That’s my f-favourite p-painting,” he muttered. “We’ll have t-to get it ref-f-framed.”

The rumbling ended as suddenly as it had begun. Kyrie sighed and lowered her head to the pillow again. She simply didn’t have the energy to deal with it at the moment. “I’ll clean later.”

Ahkshi peeled the blanket back from his wife’s head. “Think our v-visitors have s-seen an earth t-t-tremor b-b-b-before?”

Kyrie squeezed her eyes closed, feeling the onset of a headache. “Probably not,” she groaned. “So they’re probably scared out of their wits at the moment, which will only become worse when the aftershock hits.”

There was a moment of silence as Ahkshi waited for Kyrie to get up, and Kyrie waited for him to give her an excuse not to. Finally Kyrie cracked one eye open and peered up at her husband. He was smiling at her bemusedly.

“What?” she growled.

“Aren’t you g-going?”


Kyrie waited for him to let the blanket down again, and when he didn’t, she glared up again. “I thought I was under orders to sleep,” she said in a surly tone.

“That was before there was an ear-earth tremor.”

Kyrie still didn’t answer. She was looking for a way – any way – that she could stay in bed and obey her conscience and see if her fellow travelers were safe and if they felt safe. Finally, she realized what she could do – what she perhaps should have done in the first place.

“Uruloki!” she called out.

The tiny dragon appeared in the window. No need to shout, he chided her, his voice amused.

Kyrie sighed, both inwardly and audibly. Just check on the others, will you?

If Uruloki had had lips to whistle, he would have done so at that moment. Someone’s cranky. Go back to sleep. I’ll watch them.

He turned and flew off.

Ahkshi was still smiling at Kyrie when she looked back at him, and she scowled again. “What?”

He shook his head. “N-nothing. Go back to sleep. M-maybe when you wake up, you w-w-won’t be such a b-bear.”

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:20 am

Location: Makshim, Shiezin, Arkandia
Year: 29 051 (116 Fourth Age)
Status: Mettarë

After Kyrie and the others had left the clinic, Ahkshi had stuck around a few more hours. At first he had continued taking care of Mailon, who, after taking a medicated drink to help with the pain, had fallen asleep; and then he had waited around to see if any of the others would be returning or if any more bodies would be showing up. But when neither had happened by dinner time, he decided to return home for the evening.

When he opened the door to his house, he stepped inside and stopped dead in his tracks, stunned. The place was a mess, as if someone had ransacked it. The sheets and blanket had been torn from the bed and thrown to the floor, tables and chairs were overturned, papers were strewn about everywhere, and books had been thrown from their shelves.

Ahkshi panicked. “Kyrie,” he gasped fearfully; and he ran into the house to make sure she was safe.

Suddenly he heard a noise from the water room, where they did their bathing and laundry. His heart in his throat, he ran towards it and shoved the door open. “Kyrie!”

It was Kyrie, all right. And though the condition of the room was little better than their main room, it seemed Kyrie was unhurt. She was sitting in the tub, her forehead on her arms which were resting on her knees, steam rising from the water. Uruloki was sitting, hatchling sized, on the edge of the tub, watching over her like the guardian that he had become.

When Ahkshi entered the room and saw the two of them like that, he let out a sigh of relief and stepped forward. Uruloki turned to look at him, then hopped down off the tub and padded quietly over to him.

“She’s been in there for nearly two hours,” the dragon confided to him in a murmur. “She wouldn’t let me fetch you.”

Ahkshi’s brow furrowed in concern, and he approached the tub slowly. He looked down at his wife. Her shoulders were shaking, but she was silent. Ahkshi wasn’t sure what to do. He had never seen her so vulnerable. He had seen her sad, of course, and angry, and everything in between … but he had never imagined that she could be this weak, this helpless. He reached out and put one hand on her back and sat on the edge of the tub, in the same place that Uruloki had vacated just a moment before.

“Kyrie,” he murmured softly. “Are you all right?”

Kyrie didn’t answer for a moment, and Ahkshi’s concern for her only grew. He was about to speak again when she let out a soft sigh.

“He was the one who trained me,” she said quietly, so softly that Ahkshi had difficulty hearing her.

Ahkshi lowered his gaze. “I know.”

Kyrie raised her head slightly and rubbed her eyes with the backs of her hands. “He tortured me.”

Ahkshi swallowed with difficulty. “I know,” he said softly, pained.

Kyrie put her head down again and wrapped her arms around her knees, pulling them closer and making herself smaller. “He raped me,” she whimpered.

Ahkshi knelt beside the tub and put both arms around Kyrie, holding her as close as he could. Warm water sloshed over him, but he ignored it. “I know,” he said again, holding her tightly.

She turned to him and buried her face in his shoulder, and though the water hadn’t even been up to her knees and her hair was still dry, he felt his clothes dampen, and he knew that she was crying. He closed his eyes and laid his cheek against her head, wishing there were more he could do for her.

“I thought I was over it,” Kyrie whispered, shaking. “I thought I’d moved on … but seeing him … seeing him again …”

“Shh, I know,” Ahkshi murmured, stroking her hair gently. “There’s no way to be prepared for something like that.”

“I wish I could kill him.” There was genuine longing in her voice, and Ahkshi sighed quietly.

“You did,” he reminded her softly. “And if he were still the same person I would let you do so again. But he is not. He is indeed the person of whom you told me, the one who, like you, spends his life traveling and helping those who need it. His reasons are different, but that is his life.”

“I know.” It was Kyrie’s turn to say the words. “But it doesn’t make it any easier.”

For several minutes they sat like that in complete silence, with Ahkshi trying to comfort her, and Kyrie trying to control herself. Finally, Kyrie sniffled and turned her head to look at the room.

“I made quite a mess, didn’t I?” she murmured.

Ahkshi smiled softly and pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “Nothing that an hour or so of cleaning won’t fix,” he assured her quietly. “Don’t worry about it. You finish your bath and I’ll get things cleaned up.”

He moved to stand, but Kyrie’s fingers closed tightly around the fabric of his sleeves, and he found himself trapped.

Without looking at him, Kyrie murmured, “You know what I hate the most about him?”

Ahkshi knelt again and took her hands in his. “What?” he asked quietly.

Now Kyrie looked up at him, and her eyes were brimming with tears. “The fact that it was his child that was last in my womb,” she whispered, her voice wavering. “And that you and I have never-” Her voice cracked, and she had to choke back a sob. “That you and I … we can never … we can never have …”

She burst into tears, and Ahkshi put his arms around her and held her close again. This time, he didn’t let her go until she had cried herself out, and then he helped her to dry and to dress and put her to bed.

Exhausted as she was, she fell asleep immediately, and for a while, Ahkshi just watched her. What he hadn’t told her – what he couldn’t tell her – was that, for the same reason she hated the man so much, he’d had to fight very hard against the temptation to forget his oath as a physician and let the man die on the operating table. It would have been so easy …

But if he had done that, he would not have been permitted to still call himself a physician. He had done the right thing. Not that the thought made it any easier.

He sighed and began to clean up.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:21 am

Location: Makshim, Shiezin, Arkandia
Year: 29 052 (117 Fourth Age)
Status: Early Spring

One of Kyrie’s many favourite advantages of bonding with Uruloki was the ability she gained to see in the dark. Not only could she find her way around, but she was able to see where people were or had been. Thermal vision, Shiro had called it: being able to see body heat and residual heat. She was glad of it yet again when she slipped out of Tsara’s house well past dark. She could see that there were no guard anywhere in the street or on any nearby roofs, and she was able to make her way all the way to the palace without being detected.

Well, Uruloki, ready to try that partial bonding idea you had? Kyrie asked her friend silently as she crouched behind a bush, her eyes on the wall that she would otherwise have to climb.

She could feel Uruloki’s smile. I’m up for it if you are, he replied cheerfully.

She felt him shifting over her body, and then she felt the strangest sensation in her shoulder blades: it was as if something was growing out of her, different from the feeling of Uruloki bonding or unbonding.

Here goes, Uruloki quipped. He spread his wings, and the sensation was so foreign that Kyrie felt bile rise in her throat. Uruloki sensed her disgust and froze. No good?

Kyrie forced herself to swallow. At the very least, it’s something to get used to, she replied grimly. I don’t think I’ve ever felt anything that disturbing.

Uruloki paused. Shall we pass on it?

Kyrie took a deep breath. No, let’s give it a try, she decided. If it works it will be very helpful. Maybe I can get used to it.

She braced herself for the odd sensation in her back, but nothing could prepare her for the way it felt when Uruloki flapped his wings again. It was like her back was covered in snakes that were slithering and writhing all over her. No, not on her back … in her back. She didn’t mind snakes – she’d dealt with many of them in her lifetime and never had a real problem with them – but this was something else entirely.

Then they left the ground, and Kyrie’s stomach stayed behind. She felt like a kitten being carried by its mother by the scruff of its neck.

Uruloki didn’t seem to be faring all that well, either. His wings were flapping, but they were not flying straight.

This is so weird, he commented, and Kyrie could hear him grimacing. I can’t feel the wind like I usually do …

Just get me to the balcony and we’ll forget this ever happened, Kyrie told him flatly. She had her arms wrapped around her stomach to try to keep it settled. She did not like this at all.

She was more than happy when Uruloki landed her on the balcony of the conservatory and retracted his wings, and once again she felt normal. Her stomach settled immediately, and she breathed easy one more. A glance inside told her that no one was in the conservatory, and there hadn’t been anyone there for a while. Her hopes fell. She wanted to talk to Maravel – he would be the best source of information she could have.

You could wait around for someone to show up, Uruloki suggested. Or we could go further.

Kyrie thought about it. She had to find out something, one way or another, and if she was caught she had Uruloki to help her out. Still, it would really let the General know that something was going on in the city, and that was the last thing they needed. She had to avoid being caught if it was at all possible.

I’ll wait here a while, she decided, and if we don’t hear anything then maybe we’ll go further in.

She settled behind the curtain to wait.

Hours passed, and Kyrie grew stiff. A few times she saw heat signatures on the far side of the conservatory door, their shapes showing that they were soldiers in armour. She was glad she had decided not to go further into the castle. Even with Uruloki’s help, she would never have been able to remain hidden.

A few hours before dawn, the door to the conservatory opened and someone entered. The door closed again almost immediately, and someone trudged slowly across the room. Kyrie peeled back the curtain slowly to see who it was, ready to fight or run if necessary. To her relief, it was the man she had been waiting for.

“Maravel,” she whispered, stepping out from behind the curtain.

The sage jumped and dropped the book he’d been holding. “You!” he exclaimed in a harsh whisper when he saw Kyrie silhouetted against the night sky. “But you – that doesn’t – what –”

Kyrie blinked. “What are you talking about?”

Maravel ran his hand over his face, and she could see that he was trembling. He shook his head. “No, nothing. Nothing.” He sighed. “I’m sorry. You frightened me.”

“Guilty conscience?” Kyrie quipped before thinking about it. She sighed. “Sorry. Things aren’t going well here, either?”

Maravel leaned against his desk. “No,” he murmured. “Not at all.” He looked up at her. “I suppose you’ve come for more information for the princess?”

Kyrie nodded, then tilted her head slightly. “Sort of. One of my traveling companions was arrested a few days ago and I’m here to find out his condition and how we can get him back.”

Maravel’s eyes grew wide. “He’s here with you?” he asked incredulously.

“Sh!” Kyrie shushed him. “There are guards outside the door!”

Maravel lowered his voice. “Seriously, though, where did you come in contact with a member of the Aldrich family?” he asked in a low tone. “They don’t live on this continent!”

“I’m asking the questions here,” Kyrie said darkly. “What condition is he in?”

Maravel shrunk back from her. “Not so well.” Kyrie stepped closer to him, and he swallowed hard. “He was doing fine for the first few days, but the General wouldn’t believe the answers he gave when he was questioned so he was brought down to the isolation cell. The General began torturing him this morning.”

Kyrie burned with fury. “What kind of information is he looking for?” she demanded in a hiss.

Maravel wiped his forehead with the back of his hand. “He wants to know who the prince was traveling with, where they were going, why they were in the country …” He trailed off and his eyes grew wide again. “You’re here to kill the General,” he realized.

Kyrie grabbed him by the front of his shirt and lifted him off the ground. “Keep your voice down,” she growled at him. “What kind of idiot is the General? He knows he has a prince, a foreigner, and he tortures him and throws him into the death cell?”

“Please put me down,” Maravel begged, pulling at her hand with his. He might have had some luck if he had two hands, but with only one he was nowhere near her match in strength. “Please!”

Suddenly Kyrie realized what she was doing and put the man down gently. She was treating him the way the General treated him. She took a step back and rubbed her eyes tiredly. “Sorry,” she murmured. “It’s just that things are bad enough …” She sighed and tried again. “Tell me, what has the General done to him?”

Maravel swallowed hard and adjusted his shirt so that it wasn’t bunched around his throat anymore. “He’s tried to starve him, though Cael and I have been bringing him food. As for the torture …” He swallowed again. “Let’s just say it’s a good thing he’s such a nice guy. He’s not going to be much of a looker by the time he gets out of here. Cael’s been tending his wounds, but unless he gets proper medical treatment soon, they’re going to scar permanently, and that’s a best case scenario.”

Kyrie’s eyes narrowed. “What do you mean by that?” she asked quietly.

“Uh …” Maravel hesitated a moment, then traced along his cheek with his index finger. One line … two … three … and then a circle around it.

Kyrie closed her eyes and grieved inwardly. They needed to help Eärendil. He might have been trained for combat, but he was not conditioned for extended torture. If he were left in the General’s possession for long, he would either break or die.

“You said that you had other companions,” Maravel ventured softly, taking courage from Kyrie’s lack of physical response to his news. “Who are they?”

Kyrie thought for a moment about how to respond to that. It would be very easy not to tell him anything, but he had helped her, and had for over two centuries kept Mari’s survival a secret. She owed him something.

“His family,” she replied finally.

Maravel started. That was one thing he hadn’t considered.

“Any chance of getting him out of isolation?” Kyrie asked then.

Maravel shook his head. “Unless Prince Cael has any luck,” he murmured. “Both he and I have been trying to talk the General out of the way he’s treating your prince, but we’re not making any headway, at least so far. Like I said, Cael is doing what he can to care for him, bringing him food, water, a blanket, taking care of his wounds … but if he’s caught even he won’t be immune to the General’s fury.”

Kyrie sighed. “Then the only way to get him out is to take care of the General.” She nodded slowly. “We’ll do what we can. You just do what we need when the time comes.”

She turned to leave again, and Maravel came after her. “How will I know what to do, or when to do it?” he asked her.

Kyrie looked at him over her shoulder. “You’ll know,” she promised him. Then Uruloki unbonded and appeared in front of her, about twice her size. She hopped onto his back, and they flew off into the night, leaving Maravel behind.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:21 am

Location: Makshim, Shiezin, Arkandia
Year: 29 052 (117 Fourth Age)
Status: Mid-Summer

Since Kyrie had told Ahkshi she would see him back at home, she didn’t bother going back to the clinic after leaving Shoneah and Eron with the group of travelers that she had been leading from Caras Galadhon. Instead, she headed back to her house and began to prepare some lunch for herself and her husband.

She heard the door latch opening, and she turned to see Ahkshi stepping into the house.

“Welcome home,” she smiled at him.

Ahkshi blinked at her and closed the door behind himself. “I d-d-didn’t expect you to b-b-be here already,” he said, surprised.

Kyrie chuckled. “It doesn’t take long to introduce people to each other,” she pointed out. “I brought the two to the others, they agreed to take them with them, and that was the end of it. They didn’t need me anymore.” She paused, then added, “Did you hear their story?”

Ahkshi kissed her lightly when he was close enough, and then moved to sit at the table while she finished preparing lunch. “Only a b-b-bit of it. They’re t-trying to get to Caras Galadhon so that they c-can get back home?”

“Essentially,” Kyrie nodded, turning back to her preparations, “but that’s only part of it. They’re from Gaia, the same world that Lin and the nekos are from. They’re willing to take the two back with them, but they do have their journey around Arkandia to finish first.”

“So you’ve t-t-two more in your group,” Ahkshi murmured, smiling at Kyrie.

She chuckled softly. “Yes. This is going to be rather interesting.”

She finished the sandwiches she’d been making and brought the plate to the table. With a meal like this, they didn’t bother with individual plates. Ahkshi allowed Kyrie to take the first sandwich, and then while they ate, Kyrie answered all of Ahkshi’s questions about the two newcomers, as well as she was able.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:21 am

Location: Makshim, Shiezin, Arkandia
Year: 29 052 (117 Fourth Age)
Status: Mid-Autumn

“It’s been a f-f-full season,” Ahkshi pointed out to Kyrie as he dressed early in the morning, halfway through Autumn. “He’s healing q-q-quickly, and he’s g-going to be leaving soon, I’m sure. If you want to t-talk to him, you’re r-r-r-running out of t-time.”

Kyrie sighed. She set down the knife she was using to cut up the fruit they were going to have for breakfast and licked some juice from her thumb. “I know he’s different from what he used to be,” she said quietly, picking up the plate of fruit and carrying it to the table, “but I still can’t trust him.”

“He’s been helping p-people for over a century,” her husband reminded her as he pulled his tunic over his head. “Just because he r-r-remembers what he used t-t-to be doesn’t mean that he’ll re-re-revert to it.”

He joined her at the table and sat down. Kyrie watched him take some fruit and begin to eat, but she was troubled and had no appetite at the moment.

“I just can’t trust him,” she said finally. “Here he’s constantly being watched, and he’s still recovering, but once he leaves there’s no telling what he’ll do.”

“You can’t keep him here.”

Kyrie sighed. “I know. And the approaching Winter won’t help us, either. White Elves aren’t affected by the cold.”

“And he won’t s-stay without a reason,” Ahkshi pointed out. He nodded at the tray of fruit. “You should eat.”

For a moment, Kyrie just looked at him; but then she sighed resignedly and reached for a slice. They ate in silence for a moment, with Ahkshi looking at Kyrie thoughtfully and Kyrie trying to avoid eye contact with him.

Finally, Ahkshi could wait no longer to make his suggestion, even though he knew that she wouldn’t like it. He swallowed his mouthful, took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. “You … could take him w-with you.”

Kyrie looked at him sharply, her eyes narrow. “You want me to keep him near me?” she asked him coldly. “Even after all we’ve been through?”

“Who better to watch him and make sure he d-d-doesn’t hurt anyone else?” he countered. “And let’s f-f-face it – who else would have the skill to stop him if he d-does?”

Kyrie opened her mouth to protest again, but nothing came out, and she closed it again. Her husband had a point. She hadn’t seen Mailon in action in his new life, but if his implication about muscle memory was any indication, he had the same skill with weapons in his new life as he’d had in his old life. Indeed, who else would be a match for him?

She sighed. “You know, I hate it when you’re right about things like this?” she murmured, half smiling and half glaring at him.

Ahkshi just smiled and leaned forward, reaching out to put one hand over hers. “I know.”

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

Location: Makshim, Shiezin, Arkandia
Year: 29 052 (117 Fourth Age)
Status: Mid-Autumn

So is there a reason you decided to do this alone, rather than take someone else with you? Uruloki asked from his place on Kyrie’s abdomen as she made her way to the clinic late in the evening.

She was on her way to speak with Mailon about Ahkshi’s idea, though she had told her husband that she was going for a run. It was only a half-lie; she was certain that after speaking with Mailon she would indeed want nothing more than to run. But why had she lied to him? So that he couldn’t stop her if Mailon said or did something that set her off? Was she looking for a way to hurt him without being stopped?

Or was she proving to herself that she could handle being around him without losing control of herself? Without needing to have a third party to help control her?

Maybe, was all the reply that she gave to her long-time friend as she entered the clinic and made her way to the back.

The curtain to Mailon’s room was pulled closed, and she paused and knocked on the door frame and waited for a reply before she entered. When she pulled back the curtain, Mailon was sitting at the window, looking towards the door. His eyebrows arched in surprise when Kyrie entered: clearly, he hadn’t been expecting it to be her visiting him.

“Kyrie,” he said, rising to his feet. “To what do I owe this … visit?”

The phrase was supposed to be ‘pleasure’, but clearly they were both aware that it was a pleasure for neither of them.

Kyrie decided to get straight to the point.

“Ahkshi tells me that you are healing very well, and that you might soon be on your way,” she began, trying her best to keep her tone neutral.

Mailon nodded. “Yes, I had hoped to be gone by Winter …”

Kyrie nodded. “I … was wondering …” She trailed off, her courage failing her. Could she really ask this man, the man who had tortured her for three years, to travel with her now? To become a part of their group?

Mailon was waiting patiently for her to continue, and he smiled faintly, though his eyes showed confusion.

“Would you care to join our traveling group?” Kyrie asked at last, blurting the question out so that she wouldn’t stop again.

Mailon blinked in genuine surprise. Certainly, of all the things she might have asked of him, that was not something he would have expected!

“Join you?” he repeated. “I … are you certain that’s what you wish?”

Kyrie looked at him, fighting not to glare. “I’m not,” she replied succinctly. “And part of me wonders if it’s a good idea at all. But …” She ran her fingers through her hair agitatedly. As much as she hated it, it was too late to turn back now – and Ahkshi would be upset with her if she did. Still, she had to be honest – as honest as she could be.

“But despite our past history,” she said finally, choosing her words carefully, “I have to face up to the fact that … if we were to go our separate ways, I would still probably run into you eventually. If it were to happen unexpectedly, I don’t know how I would react. You are not what you used to be, but I still have trouble remembering that. If … if we were to travel together … my hope is that I could get used to that. Remember that you are someone new now.”

Mailon turned to face her fully. “And be in a position to make sure I don’t go back to what I was,” he said evenly.

Kyrie felt her face warming, and she looked away from him. “I can’t deny that it’s uppermost in my mind,” she admitted. “And I am sorry for that. It’s just-”

“Don’t be,” Mailon interrupted her. His gaze fell to the floor. “You deserve to know that people will be safe from me. I have to admit that at this moment, my own greatest fear is that I will go back to what I was. I never want to be like that again, I never want to … to do those things again. Truth be told, I’m not sure how much I trust myself. I did terrible things back then. Monstrous things. I don’t even deserve to be allowed to be around people anymore. I owe you my life. More than my life. My service. Everything.”

He looked up at her again. “If you want me to travel with you, then I will. For as long as you want. My life is in your hands.”

Kyrie couldn’t help but smile a bit at that. He was very well-spoken, and more respectful than most. So different from when she had first known him. He had been very harsh then, very demanding, and completely disrespectful of anyone, no matter who they were.

“We hope to leave when Winter has passed,” she murmured. “I hope you can be patient until then.”

Mailon bowed his head respectfully. “If you can have the patience to deal with me, then I can wait a few months more.” He smiled. “It is the first time I have felt welcome anywhere since my exile.”

Kyrie’s eyes narrowed slightly with curiosity, but Mailon waved it away. “That is a long story for another time,” he murmured. “Perhaps while we are traveling.”

Kyrie nodded. “Another time then. For now, good night, Mailon.”

He bowed again. “Good night.”

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Post by Nara-pyon on Sun Aug 17, 2014 3:37 pm

Location: 20 miles into Jielam, Arkandia
Year: 29 053 (118 Fourth Age)
Status: Mid-Spring
It was dark when Kyrie left the safety of the tent, but that came as no surprise. This far north, and at this time of the year, night always fell early. Within a few weeks, though, it would begin to be daylight all day and all night, so she wasn’t going to complain about the darkness now. Besides, with Uruloki with her, she could see clearly.
She wrapped her white cloak around her body, more for camouflage than warmth, since her bond with Uruloki immunized her from the cold. She wasn’t planning on being out long, just long enough to make sure that the tent was in a safe area; but if she were detected, she would have to dispatch of anyone who saw her and that was something she didn’t want to have to do. It was difficult to kill someone and not leave any traces, and that would only draw more attention to the area.
You know, Uruloki commented after they’d had a minute to look around, he chose a good place for the tent.
Kyrie’s eyes skimmed the landscape around them, and she agreed wholeheartedly. She had to give Mailon credit. He had indeed chosen the perfect place. Nestled neatly in the cleft of a cliff near the bottom of a mountain, the site would have been difficult to see even without the camouflage runes Lancaeriel had added to the tent. If, on the off chance, it was discovered, it would be easily defensible.
Still, she wanted to be sure.
She started up the cliff, careful with her footing. She didn’t relish a fall. There was snow on the ground, certainly; but they were far enough south that most of it had already melted, and the ground would be quite hard. Probably rocky. Not fun to fall on.
Even from above, she couldn’t see any weaknesses in their position. In fact, the more she saw, the better it looked. Mountains to the east and north and west, open plains to the south. South was also the direction of Poleria, which meant that there was almost no chance that they would have to worry about anyone from that direction.
Provided that there were no settlements near them on the other side of the mountain, they would probably be safe there for as long as they needed to be there.
Do you want to check it out? Kyrie asked Uruloki, her eyes flickering towards the peak of the mountain she was on.
Brace yourself.
Kyrie took a deep breath and let it out slowly. She opened her cloak to let Uruloki out. She knew the instant he unbonded from her: she had to bite her lip to keep from crying out at the sudden cold that hit her.
“Don’t be long,” she cautioned him, the words leaving her lips in puffs of white cloud.
“I won’t,” Uruloki promised; and then he was off.
Kyrie watched him grow until he was slightly bigger than her, and then he spread his wings and vanished into the darkness. She wrapped her cloak around herself, made sure the fur of the hood was covering her ears, and settled in to wait.
The sky grew even darker as she waited, and the air became colder. She pulled her cloak closer around herself and was grateful for the fur lining. After a while, her toes began to go numb, and she shifted her position to get her blood flowing again. Her fingers were next, but there was little she could do about that: she needed to keep the cloak wrapped around herself so that she wouldn’t freeze. She adjusted her grip, shifted her position again, paced a bit, found a niche out of the wind to sit in, and then paced some more.
Finally, Uruloki returned, and Kyrie opened her cloak to let him bond again. Warmth filled her immediately, and she sighed with relief and pulled her cloak close again.
Welcome back, she told him gratefully, breathing on her fingers in memory of the coldness that had engulfed them.
Sorry I took so long.
It’s all right. What did you see?
She started back towards the tent, rubbing her arms as Uruloki told her what he’d discovered. By the time she made it back to the tent, she was satisfied that they would not be in danger where they were.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:27 pm

Location: Winum, Dolerum, Arkandia
Year: 29 054 (119 Fourth Age)
Status: Early Autumn

“So tell me again how you met everyone,” Khetal requested as he and Kyrie left the tent behind and made their way back to Leo and Lynliss’s house. “From the beginning.”

“Well, that’s an awful long story, to give each individual story,” Kyrie laughed softly, “but I’ll do my best.”

She explained how she had met the first of them – Eärendil, Lin, Miyuki and Andarien – at Lara and Cantor’s house, as three of them had been staying with them, and Andarien had been apprenticing with Corazin. From there, she had met those who had also been traveling with them: Wren, Daeron and Iorlas, Lancaeriel, Shiro and Kaito. There had been others who had not come with them, but she glossed over them, only mentioning that there were others who stayed behind.

From there, she went on to explain how they had found Amir and their rush to Ahkshi to save the child’s life. While the child had been recovering, Mailon had been brought to the clinic, suffering serious wounds from a dragon attack.

At that point, Kyrie’s story became a bit more vague. While Mailon had been recovering, half the group had gone to Garnelia. There, Eärendil had been arrested and the others had gone to Mari for help.

Khetal became irritated and restless when Kyrie reached this point of the story, and at length he couldn’t keep his questions to himself.

“Why would you even go there in the first place?” he asked her quietly as they made their way through the streets of Winum. “You knew how dangerous it was, and clearly those people are not all fighters like you are. What would possess you to do such a thing?”

Kyrie sighed. “It’s … complicated. Suffice it to say … I had my reasons. Illogical, perhaps, and unwise; but I had my reasons, and even Ahkshi agreed with me, if that tells you anything.”

“It tells me that it was serious,” her brother reasoned, “but nothing else.” He sighed, then looked over at her again. “So. Garnelia.”

Kyrie nodded slowly. “Yes. We were all sorts of foolish. I was all sorts of foolish. I took the others straight to Mari, ignoring the fact that there were probably soldiers on our trail … and I led the soldiers straight to Mari.”

She paused a moment, then decided to gloss over some of the less savoury details.

“We managed to escape them and went to Dekra to rescue Eärendil. We were caught and brought to the General … incredibly, it turned out that the man the General had raised as his son was Lancaeriel’s husband, reborn. Cael.”

She smiled. “He took care of the General, we took over the castle, and then I went with Mari to re-take the country. So that’s how Cael joined us.”

“And then you went back to Makshim and for some reason decided to take Mailon with you,” Khetal said flatly, encouraging her quietly to continue.

She nodded. “Yes. We returned and stayed for half a year. I enjoyed spending time with Ahkshi again, and I … worked through what had made me go to Garnelia in the first place. Then we left and started here.”

“Taking Mailon with you,” Khetal repeated, looking at her, his eyes probing. By this point they had reached the street where the house was located, and Khetal slowed their pace, wanting an answer before they reached the house.

Kyrie was stubbornly silent, her eyes on the ground in front of her. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to talk about her history with Mailon: she had come to terms with it. Especially after their encounter with the unicorns, she trusted the man. But she knew that Khetal would not see things the way she did, and he would probably not feel as forgiving as she now felt.


She took a deep breath and looked at her brother, forcing a smile. “Yes. Taking Mailon with us,” she agreed, deliberately not answering him.

Before he could press, she went on. “Actually, I forgot to add, it was at that time that Shoneah and Eron also joined us. They’re from the same place Lin and Miyuki and Shiro and Kaito are from, they were looking for a way home, and we have a way. So that’s how they joined us.”

She shrugged. “From there, we passed through Winum, then Jielam, where we ran into Daenis – her father was going to force her to marry a brute, so she ran away with us. Then it was Friesia, and then here.”

They reached the house, and Khetal opened the door for Kyrie, holding it so she could lead the way in.

“There’s more to it than that,” he said, pulling off his cloak and hanging it up. “You’re hiding something.”

“Do you tell me everything?” Kyrie quipped as she removed her boots.

Khetal shrugged. “I have nothing to hide. Ask me anything, and I’ll tell you.”

“Kyrie!” came Leo’s warm, rich voice.

Kyrie turned towards him and was immediately enveloped in a warm embrace. She laughed softly and returned the hug. “Hello, Leo. It’s wonderful to see you again.”

“Likewise,” Leo said warmly, releasing her and looking at her closely. “You look tired.”

“Well, it’s been an interesting few years,” she admitted as Leo ushered her towards the dining room. “It’s been a decade since I was last here … For the last four years I’ve been escorting a group of travelers around Arkandia.”

“The group Gwen has been telling me about,” Leo chuckled. “They sound quite interesting.”

“They’re quite the group,” Kyrie admitted with a chuckle. “But they’re a pleasure to travel with. Most of them are seasoned fighters, so the number of people isn’t a problem, and they’re unlike anyone I’ve ever come across before. Every time we go somewhere, something new happens. It’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had as a guide.”

“Well, you’ll have to tell us about them over dinner,” said Leo decisively as they took their seats around the table.

By this time, Lynliss and Gwen had finished preparing dinner, which was already on the table. The five of them sat down, and Lynliss served the meal.

If Kyrie had hoped that being with the whole family would discourage Khetal from pressing for more details about Mailon and how and why he had come to travel with the group, she was mistaken. The moment they were all sitting and eating, he looked across the table at her.

“So you’ve explained how and why most of the group came to be traveling with you,” he said, his tone light, as if the subject had not already been brought up, “but I’m still confused about why Mailon is with you all. If he was injured and needed keeping an eye on, would it not have been better for him to stay with Ahkshi until he had finished healing?”

“Mailon?” Leo repeated curiously. He looked to Kyrie for an explanation of who this person was.

Kyrie cleared her throat. “Mailon is a White Elf who was brought to Ahkshi for healing,” she explained to the others, looking away from Khetal. “He was attacked by a dragon and barely survived. He spent nearly a year with Ahkshi, recovering.”

“And you brought him traveling to keep an eye on his recovery?” Leo guessed.

Before Kyrie could speak, Khetal put in, “That’s not the impression I get.”

“Khetal does make a good point,” Lynliss put in softly, eying Kyrie. “If he’s recovering, would it not be better to let him stay with Ahkshi and rest?”

“And if he’s recovered why doesn’t he go home?” Gwen asked curiously.

“Well, for one thing, he hasn’t got a home,” Kyrie began slowly. Her mind was racing, trying to figure out how she could explain things without upsetting anyone. She kept talking as she thought. “He’s a wanderer. Somewhat like myself. Helps people.”

She took a bite of food to buy herself some time, but unfortunately for her, her family knew her tactics.

“So if he’s not with you for you to keep an eye on his recovery, what are you keeping an eye on?” Lynliss murmured, pressing for an answer in her gentle way.

Kyrie chewed slowly – so slowly that everyone else stopped and watched her, waiting for her reply.

“We … he and I … we’ve met before,” she said finally, her voice quiet.

“Clearly not under good circumstances,” Gwen reasoned, “if you feel you have to keep an eye on him.”

Khetal, Leo and Lynliss all stiffened, which made Gwen look around at them all, confused. “What …”

She was cut off by the others, who all spoke at once.

“Kyrie, tell me it’s not-”

“You didn’t-”

“How is that possible?”

“Are you out of your mind?”

“What on Arda possessed you to-”

Kyrie put her hands out to stop them. “Enough,” she said firmly. “I knew this was going to happen.” She took a deep breath and let it out slowly as the protests died. “All right. Yes, it’s him,” she sighed. “But he is not what he was, even to the point where, when we passed through a herd of unicorns – hundreds of them – they were as content to have him pass through them without protest.”

“But you can’t have known that before he traveled with you,” Khetal pointed out crisply. “Did you know who he was then?”

“Yes, of course I did,” Kyrie replied with a glare. “I knew the moment I saw him. I wanted to kill him – nearly did. Ahkshi wouldn’t let me. That’s why we went to Garnelia, because at that point I couldn’t be near him, half dead though he was.”

“I think I’m missing something,” Gwen spoke up, frustrated. “Who is this guy, Mailon? What’s the big deal?”

The others all looked at each other. Gwen had been only nine years old when Kyrie had joined the family, and she had never been told the details of Kyrie’s past. As time went on, of course she had gotten old enough to know about it, but it had simply never come up, and so she had never found out.

Now, over nine hundred years later, it seemed a bit late.

Lynliss looked at Kyrie anxiously. Leo looked at his plate awkwardly. Khetal was fuming.

Finally, Kyrie said tentatively, “He was the man who trained me in weapons use back in Jielam, before I came here.”

Gwen blinked. “You mean … he was your trainer?”

“And abuser,” Khetal growled.

“Khetal,” Kyrie said quickly, quietly, trying to stop her brother from saying anything more.

He stared at her incredulously. “You’re going to defend him?”

“Yes.” Kyrie stared back at him. “I admit, it took me a long time to trust him. When he showed up in Makshim, I wanted him dead. He had no memories of me, he was dead for over seven hundred years.”

“Dead?” asked Gwen.

Kyrie glanced over at her. “I killed him when I escaped Jielam. But he’s been reborn now, and while yes, he was reborn in Jielam again, and while he was raised there again, he is not like them.” She looked back at her brother. “He is a wanderer because he was exiled from his people, for speaking out against their cruelty.”

She ran one hand through her hair. “I had to remind him of who I was. Of who he had been. He was horrified.”

“You don’t know if it was just an act,” Khetal said darkly.

Kyrie sighed. “He put a knife in my hand and went on his knees in front of me. He told me to kill him – again. That he deserved it.”

Lynliss reached across to Kyrie and put one hand on her shoulder, her eyes tender.

Kyrie looked at her. “I didn’t,” she said quietly. “I wanted to, at first. But … I had killed him once already. He had paid for what he did to me. It would not have been right.” She took a deep breath. “But on the other hand, I didn’t trust him to be let loose on his own. So he came with us. The others in the group – at least, most of them – know what he did to me, and they are all quite happy to forget about it. Then we met that group of unicorns … and they judged that there was no malice, no evil intention in Mailon. Already by then I was beginning to trust him, at least somewhat … but since then I have complete faith in him.”

She looked at her brother evenly. “I know that you would like nothing better than to hate him on my behalf, but please … don’t. He has dedicated his life to helping others. He is a good man now.”

While Leo and Lynliss looked ready to take Kyrie at her word, she could tell that Khetal was not. His jaw was set angrily, his eyes narrow.

Gwen still looked a bit confused, her dark eyes fixed on Kyrie. For several moments, no one moved; then Kyrie began to eat again, deliberately ending the conversation. Leo and Lynliss soon followed suit, but Khetal continued to glare.

Gwen blinked slowly, then leaned over to her mother. In a low tone, she asked her mother a question, and though she was clearly trying to keep her question private, Kyrie overheard it anyways: Wasn’t Kyrie pregnant when we found her?

Kyrie kept her eyes on her food, pretending she hadn’t heard. In a way, she was glad Gwen had finally connected the dots. It meant she had no more secrets from anyone in the family. She only hoped that Gwen wouldn’t hold it against Mailon anymore, as Khetal was so obviously intent on doing.

She just hoped she could get her brother to play nice before the group left in two weeks.

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Post by Nara-pyon on Thu Dec 11, 2014 4:37 pm

Location: Winum, Dolerum, Arkandia
Year: 29 054 (119 Fourth Age)
Status: Early Autumn

It was quite late by the time Kyrie and Khetal left the tent for the night and headed back to Leo and Lynliss’s house. Kyrie’s conversation with Daenis was fresh on her mind, and Khetal had to nudge her to get her attention as they walked.

“Sorry,” she laughed when he finally did get her attention. “Lost in thought.”

“Well, you were with Daenis for quite a while,” her brother chuckled softly. “She all right?”

Kyrie smiled at him. “Oh, yes. She’s fine. At least, she should be, provided you don’t mess things up for her.”

He blinked at her, startled by the comment. “Me? What did I do?”

“You,” Kyrie sighed, taking her brother’s arm, “are holding a grudge that you should not be holding, and you are making it very difficult for people to move on from past events.”

Khetal frowned at her. “I don’t understand.”

“Yes, you do,” Kyrie murmured, smiling sadly at him. “Mailon. Every time you see him, you terrify him. Or guilt-trip him. Or something. Leave off the poor man, will you? He’s paid for what he did to me, and he’s honestly a good man. Give him the chance to see that.”

Khetal’s brow furrowed. “But what does he have to do with-” He cut himself off abruptly, his eyes widening in understanding. “You would honestly sentence that girl to a life with – with him?”

“Now, Khetal, don’t be so negative,” Kyrie laughed. “I told you, many times now, that Mailon is a good man. He deserves to be happy. Let him be. Let her be.”

“You just want to play matchmaker,” Khetal muttered.

“What?” Kyrie blinked, genuinely surprised.

“Like Lara and Cantor, every time you meet someone single, you want to play matchmaker,” he told her. “You can’t deny it.”

“Yes I can,” she retorted, poking her brother in the side. “I didn’t set them up together. I didn’t even realize there was anything between them for a full season.”

“You’re still the reason they met.”

“But that doesn’t mean I was matchmaking!” Kyrie exclaimed. Lowering her voice, she added in a smug tone, “And I’m not playing matchmaker with Daenis and Mailon. Daenis came to me for help because Mailon feels too guilty to let her get close to him.”

She poked him in the ribs. “So don’t you go and mess things up for them, you hear?”

Khetal winced. “I can’t make any promises,” he said grimly. “When I think of him being around you … when I think of what he did to you …” He grimaced, and his face grew dark.

“Over and done with,” Kyrie said firmly. “Understood?”

Her brother sighed. “I’ll do my best.”

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