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Pri(M)ordial Resurgence (Axl X Jabba)

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Offline Axl

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Primordial Resurgence


Volcanic heat scalded oppressively, a whip sharing the sentiment, cracked through the air on its way to lick the back of lethargic slaves. A trembling sound, as if it too, was afraid of receiving an unjust lap. Vjeko Krall couldn't see a few feet past his pickaxe, let alone where the terrible tongue came from. The red marks across his back looked like notches on a wall, counting the days gone by. It wasn't always like this, for the race of gnomes. But Vjeko, a slave born, knew no other life except that which he dreamt.

Freedom, forever a carrot on a string, dangled just out of reach. Being thrown in the hollow mines was a death sentence for most; you either die mining or get lost in the heat, looking for a way out. Escape fairytale-like and utopian plagued the thoughts of the downtrodden. Bedlam Cauldron wasn't always hollow nor used a mine, long ago before the destructive collapse of the gnomish kingdom, it was one of the few ice volcanoes in the world. The gnomes harvested the ice and used it for many things, such as keeping food and drinks cold, and as a staple ingredient in potent magic.

As one can imagine, it takes a lot of magical imbalance to change the characteristics of nature. After the gnomish collapse and the outbursts of chaotic magic still seen to this day, the ice evaporated leaving only heat and gems. These gems are of different colours and magical properties, and where there are gems there are dwarves. Ever-present tyrants barely looming over their once allies. Allies now breed in captivity for manual labour a penance for ancestral mistakes.

“I've been myself for twenty-four years and I still don't know who I am” Vjeko mused as he struggled to pull his pick from the shimmering wall in front of him. A jolt of unfamiliar pain forced the young gnome to his knees. “Mother of Mystery” Vjeko choked out as he looked at his hands, calloused from years of mining and raw from the heat now burned with intense cold. His pickaxe froze solid in its place began to shatter. Nearby calls for help fell on bewildered ears as the heat gave way to a deep and unfamiliar cold.

Slaves not quick enough to let go of their tools became mocking ice sculptures. For the first time in eons, the mines were cold as if nature herself had finally started healing. Dwarven slave drivers froze in the middle of whipping, running, and shouting. Like a painting etched out of a mountain, nothing save for the young gnome showed a semblance of life. Vjeko shivered as he stood, gaping at the freshly carved statuettes.

 “What’s going on,” he thought as the wall he had previously been mining yawned half-heartedly. The cold now filled with unnecessary lust began to dig its claws into Vjeko. The wall’s breach more inviting than his current lover’s embrace, the gnome darted into the eerie unknown. He pulled himself through the teethed maw for a small eternity before ending at a cliff face. Stepping onto the frighteningly small ledge Vjeko peered into the darkness below. The ground gave way under his sudden weight before a sigh of fear could muster enough courage to escape his cracked lips.

Silence heavier than the mountain itself grudgingly filled with the sound of ricocheting stones, his dry throated scream trailing behind. Pockets of icy wind caressed the young gnome’s face as he fell. The dark vertical tunnel slowly filled with ghostly undertones of light; a light, long-dormant, forgotten and twisted. It was light, trying to escape a frozen lake, before drowning in the blue. He had barely enough time to marvel and wonder at the source before he landed breathtakingly on a chunk of floating ice.

“Little Gnome,” a shifting glacier of a voice reverberated off the walls “Your kind tipped nature's scales long ago, long before the ink, before they changed your world.” With each word, the ice chunk glided slowly towards the light and its source. “It is time for the old ways.” The ice chunk halted abruptly in front of a glacial being. It’s frigid breath circling around and through Vjeko. “Seek out the others, places twisted. Heal as you healed here, grow as you have grown here. Primordial powers, make them remember.”

As the Gnome opened his mouth to utter his confusion the being waved their hand dismissively. Conjuring an arctic breath that sent Vjeko into a shaft of torpid air below. Darkness and silence shared a meal of time and distance as he fell. After what seemed a millennium he was finally spat out of the mountain like a vulgar insult. Vjeko’s first meeting with the ground as a free Gnome was unforgiving.

First Chapter
Discover

Vjeko drifted through a stew of unconsciousness, life an enigma only understood in fits of clarity. He finally had what he always wanted, freedom, and like an infant with a new toy, he had no idea what to do with it. The uncertainty of time left Vjeko consumed with bewilderment when consciousness returned. The only indication of its passing was the blessing of snow upon the long withered forest at the volcano's base. If this area had a name he’d never heard it, he knew no more of the world than he did of the future.

Exactly how he got in this winter wonderland wasn't all that clear. Like walking down a foggy path only being able to see a tight circle around one's feet. Standing up he brushed the snow off his bare chest and arms. The cold just a dull foreign annoyance in the back of his mind slowly beginning to suffocate under the ever-growing need for sustenance. Wrapping his arms around his bare chest Vjeko began to walk through the forest. Hoping to find someone helpful, dreading the all too real possibility of that someone being a Dwarf.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2020, 03:32:37 PM by Axl »


Offline Jabbathejack

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The stylus trembled faintly in his hand, but Zaiah held it as steady as he could, dipping the tip in his pot of homemade ink before he applied it to the bare skin of his forearm. Slowly and carefully, he traced the glyph that he had memorised, whispering the words to bind it there. The moment that he had finished, the glyph glowed brightly, stinging his eyes in the darkness of his makeshift hovel.

He gave a sharp breath as he felt the spell take hold. Suddenly, the glowing glyph faded to black, the ink sinking into his skin to form a permanent tattoo. Already, he could feel the power radiating out from his forearm, rushing through his entire body. His head rocked back in ecstacy.

It was a simple protection glyph, but it was the most powerful spell that Zaiah had managed to perform. He fell back, staring up at the hole in the roof of his hovel that allowed the smoke from his fire to escape. Through the hole, he could see the moon, shining brightly down.

When he woke up, Zaiah picked himself up with a groan. His fire had reduced to ash with only a faint glow in the embers. Daylight poured through the hole in the roof, making him wince at the unwelcome brightness. A glance down at his forearm told him that the glyph was still in place, now firmly etched into his flesh. Slowly, a grin spread across Zaiah's face and he reached for his worn shirt, pulling it on over his head.

Releasing the protective wards that he'd set on the door, Zaiah stumbled out of the hovel, rubbing his eyes against the glare of the sun on the snow. It was beautiful up here, far away from the city below, but despite that, Zaiah was well aware of the dangers that the wilderness held. Especially for a city born lad like him.

Zaiah was a tall, skinny human man. His dark brown hair was unkempt, reaching down past his chin where there was three days' worth of stubble. He was twenty-four, with the pale look of a man who had spent the majority of his life in the city. He had only ventured out in an attempt to find the privacy that could not be achieved back in the city, even with wards to guard the door.

Reaching up, he stretched, his breath visible in front of his face. It was time to get the fire started again, to have some food before he contemplated the journey back home.


Offline Axl

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“I’m sitting here staring at a blank page. Words arrive like welcomed guests. Alas, all but the ones I want. Infinite possibilities looking over my shoulder. Creeping from the corner of my eyes. To pick just a few is daunting. We create worlds with our imagination. Such a thing is a beast untamable. We waddle in too deep and drown in the sickly sweet ink. Try as we might  for air, we only breathe what we…”
A knock brought the Gnome out of their thoughts and back to their bleak reality. Shafir Okropir, one of the few remaining free Inkers of their race, sat in a stone chamber devoid of decorations save for a lightless window, a table and chair occupied by the Gnome. Though, calling furniture carved from the stone itself a decoration hardly fits the word. Rubbing their eyes the wizened gnome turned in the direction of the knock, gestured and watched. The silence of the room banished by the sudden grinding of stone hinges.

“Master Okropir?” a voice, winded as if from a hasty climb up a steep staircase, called from outside the granite portal “There has been an awakening” “Show me” Shafir commanded as they stood up and walked towards the portal. Past musings left on the table to be picked up later. The granite portal led to another stone chamber, one filled with books and scrolls. Tapestries of tales old and forgotten adorned the walls, torchlight danced in stale air to music unheard. In the middle of the room stood a round gem-encrusted wooden divination table.

The table held a pool of viscous liquid slowly solidifying the closer Shafir became. A small bird-like creature perched on the table across from the Gnome began to speak. “Bedlam Cauldron '' it's once winded voice now bewildered. Shafir acknowledged the creature with a shrug before peering into the now solid-liquid and the once-dormant ice volcano it showed. “Raja, show me the surrounding area” Master Okropir peered intently at the table as the image zoomed out to show what is now known as Alembda’s Reach.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Alembda’s Reach, five herculean fingers seeking to escape their earthly prison. The long-dormant ice volcano lay to one side, a mockery of an index finger. Ice frothing down the sides covering the long-dead foliage and earth. The four accompanying mountains varied in their approach to the new status quo. Some were never void of winter, others took to the heat quickly. Those that embraced the heat now fought to keep it, while those that stayed cold experienced no change. Valleys below a battlefield of elements, heat and cold, each one standing their ground, demanding to exist.

Creatures long evolved to the sweltering conditions fleeing or freezing solid in their attempt to escape. Vjeko avoided many woodland creatures as he wandered lost and numb. With freedom still new and scary. The gnome adjusted his dirty torn pants, the only article of clothing he wore, and continued to wander down the volcano’s side and into the soon to be snow-covered valley below.


Offline Jabbathejack

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With some much needed food in his belly, Zaiah was able to see the world around him a little more clearly, the euphoric fog brought on by his illicit exploration into the mysterious world of magic having eased somewhat. Of course, near the top of a mountain like this, he expected it to be cold, perpetually encased in snow, but now that he could concentrate, he realised that it was far colder than he had expected. Certainly, it was considerably colder than when he had first made the journey there, only a few days ago.

Zaiah frowned, shrugging to himself as he bent down to heft his pack up onto his shoulders. It was high time that he was on his way; freezing to death on this desolate mountain was not something that he particularly wanted. He made his way down the steep slope, choosing his footing carefully. A fair few times, Zaiah found his worn boots slipped on a patch of ice, almost falling flat on his arse.

Reaching out to catch the trunk of a tree to steady himself, Zaiah paused to catch his breath, taking a small swig from his canteen, but the water was so cold that it felt as if it were freezing his lips. Zaiah frowned, wiping his mouth with his gloved hand.

Slinging the strap that held his canteen over his shoulder, Zaiah was just about to carry on when he paused, his frown deepening. Raising a hand to shield his eyes from the sun's glare on the snow, Zaiah peered into the distance. Further down the slope, it almost looked as if there was a figure, partly obscured by the snow covered trees. At first, it seemed as if they were just a shadow, but as he watched, he realised it was indeed a person, a short, squat figure making their way down.

Zaiah picked up his pace, sliding down the snow covered slope. As he got closer, he wondered if the figure was a child? Yet that could hardly be possible, could it? A dwarf, perhaps? Zaiah raised his voice, calling out to the stranger.

"Hoi there!" He waved briefly before continuing his way down towards them. "You lost, friend?"

As he got closer, he realised with shock that they were half naked. The figure seemed to be a little on the thin side for a dwarf. He grimaced, as if that really mattered?

"You must be freezing there." He dropped his pack to the ground and pulled out his tatty blanket, offering it out to the stranger.

Now that he was standing face to face with the stranger, he could see that it was a gnome, the thick welts obvious across his bare hide. Zaiah winced faintly, for he knew damn well what those marks were from, but he kept the blanket held out.

"Take it, you'll catch your death out here."


Offline Axl

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The clouds above shed their dandruff on the world below. Covering flora long dead, land cracked with thirst and fauna bewildered by the sudden shift in their climate. Sounds of distant avalanches filled the valley. Snow accompanied by bouts of extreme cold no longer lackadaisical in its encroachment. Moisture in the air freezing before it could reach the cloud’s caress and turn to dandruff, begun falling to the ground in various shapes and hardness.

Vjeko walked through the valley deafened by fear and freedom. Each forward step filled his mind with questions and doubts unanswerable. What if this is just a dream, a test, a lost cause? What if his next step brings a dwarven slaver? What if it doesn’t, where does he go, what does he do? Why does the cold comfort him when it seems to bother everything else? What is this white dust and hard chunks that angrily drift and plummets from above and why does it melt upon his skin? Is this all that there is?

The gnome, deep in thought and the effortless act of walking. Didn’t hear or see the figure until it was in front of the gnome with an outstretched limb. The sudden appearance jarring him from thoughts, sending Vjeko into a panic. As he threw up his hands protectively the ground erupted around him in a jagged barrier of glacial stalagmites. Behind the semitransparent barrier, Vjeko exhausted and malnourished fainted with the exertion often accompanied by first-time magic use.

-----------

Shafir looked up from their table as the image began to take on more liquid properties. “Raja, this gnome would make for a spectacle. Races already love our games, this will entice more gold from them.” The bird-like creature eyed the old Gnome as they spoke and awaited the orders it knew was coming. Master Okropir walked over to a table adorned with scrolls in various acts of being read. Some rolled up and bound, others sprawled open with weights in their corners.

“Master? Shall I contact Thaksin and his team for a retrieval mission? If so, what of the other we say in the image?” Raja chirped out as it landed upon the table that its master was now rummaging through.

“Yes, yes. That would be wise. Retrieve both, preferably alive. I’m sure they’ll serve as fodder one way or another”

With a dip of its head, Raja oozed into the stone wall behind it and into the sky outside the stone tower. The bird-like creature hugged its grey wings to its side as it plummeted from the tower. Cackling as the air fought against its weight Raja bid it’s time until it was closer to the village below. As it plummeted past the first rooftop the bird-like creature spread its wings and soared back up into the air. Gliding towards Thaksin’s safe house on the other side of the Gabori River.


Offline Jabbathejack

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His eyes widening in surprise, Zaiah threw himself backwards to avoid the ice that rose up out of the snow covered ground, his arms up to ward off the attack, unconsciously mirroring that of the stranger as he readied a barrier spell. Yet the attack never came.

Frowning, he scrambled to his feet, gazing down at the mass of ice shards that had sprung up from the ground, surrounding the stranger. There was magic here, no doubt, and powerful too.

"What's going on?" He growled, yet there was complete silence. Within their self crafted cage, the stranger was lying on the snow, out cold.

His mind told him to turn around and make his own way home, leaving the gnome behind and avoiding danger, yet his gut made him stay. Muttering a curse under his breath, Zaiah slammed his elbow against the ice, smashing his way to the stranger inside. A gnome, he realised, lying prone in the snow.

Zaiah understood why the gnome had collapsed; the magic had either been too much for him, or that he was far too weak to be out in the freezing cold with bugger all clothes on. Maybe even it was a combination of both.

Once he'd fought his way in through the ice prison, Zaiah threw his blanket over the gnome and hefted him up, throwing him ungainly over his shoulder like a sack of spuds. Grunting beneath the weight, Zaiah made his was down the slope.

He checked once or twice that his burden was still alive, but as the gnome did not wake, Zaiah replaced him back on his shoulder and kept on going, his feet slipping in the deep snow.

***

After a few hours, they reached the outskirts of the city that Zaiah called his home. It was getting dark by the time they reached the large imposing gates that barred the way. Rather than having to answer questions on why the hell he was carrying an unconscious gnomeish slave, Zaiah cast a spell to hide them from all but the most persistent of minds and he slipped inside the gates and made his way through the winding streets until he had reached his hovel.

Once inside, he set the gnome down on the floor and barred the door. Dropping to one knee, he filled the fireplace with dry logs and lit some kindling around them, working to keep the embers glowing steadily until the fire was burning merrily, casting some heat around the single room.

Muttering a curse, he rubbed his numb fingers together, trying to get some semblance of feeling back into his tired, cold, bones. He looked over at the body on his floor. Going soft, was he? Too bloody nice for his own good. Scowling, Zaiah took his water canteen and approached the figure, holding to his lips to see if he could drink.

"Hey." He muttered sharply. "Water. Drink."

If he didn't, then he was probably done for, if he wasn't anyway. How long had he been out there?


Offline Axl

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Across the turbulent Gabori River and over an apple orchard Raja flew. Its appearance is unwelcome by the farmers below.  The farmers shouted obscenities and performed gestures to rid the trees of ill omens. Creatures like Raja are seldom welcomed in most communities and seen as a sign of troubling times. The avian creature didn’t have to take this route to its destination but it enjoyed causing distress. Thaksin’s ill-gotten manor wasn’t too far from the orchard, Raja’s flight time was significantly less than the time the farmers would be worrying about their superstitions.


The Trorc’s manor used to be a brilliant brick red, with maintained shrubs, windows you could admire your reflection in while also admiring the land, chimneys happily churning out wood smoke, double front doors of polished oak and metal, and a gorgeously handcrafted gate and fence to ward off would-be interlopers. Time wasn’t kind to the magnificent building, brilliant bricks dulled by weather and overgrown with creeping ivy and other invasive floral. Crystal clear windows marred with dirt and grime, shrubbery left to its own accord grew unmanageable and wild. The chimneys gripping the roof swayed in the wind like drunk dancers to an unheard tune. Doors of polished wood and metal now cracked and rust plagued, gate and fence half erect in some places while in a deep slumber elsewhere.

Raja squawked as it flew into through the attic window and perched upon its messenger stand. Avian head turning left and right to take in the room’s interior. Dust stained linen sheets covered an assortment of furniture. From armoires to vanities and various objects in between. Besides Raja’s stand the only uncovered thing was an armchair embroidered with net and dagger, the symbol all Coliseum Stockers get branded and must adorn their personal belongings with. Raja focused its left eye on the symbol and waited for the Trorc to feel its gaze.

The Trorc known as Thaksin the Hunter stood over his proudly stood freshly butchered deer. For an entire day and night, the forest green burly being had stalked the strongly racked buck. A game of predator and prey as ancient as time and as sacred as anything had the right to be. Every time Thaksin thought he had a shot with his longbow, the buck would skitter away through the dense forest. Forcing the unfriendly green pseudo-giant to achingly trod his way quietly through the forest. It wasn’t until the sun rose and pierced the foliage above them with its lazy morning rays that Thaksin managed to let loose an arrow into the majestic beast's heart.

Before the Trorc could ponder more upon the hunt he felt his brand start to itch and a creeping feeling of being watched. “Ah, ‘other hunt” he mumbled around a sour frown and turned to the stairs leading up from the basement. His weight forced the old stairs to creak in protest as they bore each step. The main floor of the building was limited in decorations. Nails and splinters stuck out like cactus needles from the walls and floor. Thaksin had been stabbed many of times by them until he made it a habit to wear his boots indoors.

The kitchen was used the most and therefore the best maintained. Trorcs love to eat and eat often. Pots and pans reflected the dim candlelight unto Thaksin as he walked through the room and grabbed a piece of dried meat on his way to the attic. The stairs to the second floor protested his weight far less than the basement stairs but still produced a pained creak. Much like the main floor, there was only one room maintained better than the rest. Thaksin's bedroom had a magnificent bed filled with cockatrice feathers, pillows of mermaid's hair and matching blanket and sheets of bearskin and cotton.

Walking past the room he threw his bloody apron onto the floor in front of his equipment chest at the foot of his bed and proceeded to the attic stairs. More used to his weight the steps didn’t produce painful creaks but still yawned with age. The top of the stairs leads to a wooden door engraved with scenes of a hunt but time wore away the finer details so much of the scene was lost. Thaksin opened the door and was greeted by a delighted squawk from Raja.

 “Oh? You are home!” the avian creature danced from one grey leg to the next impatiently as it waited for the Trorc to be seated.

“‘Ome, or prison. To be at ‘eck and ‘all in an ‘oment's ‘otice.” Thaksin grumbled bitterly as he sat down and stared at the bird. “What’s the hunt?” as the words left his mouth a jolt ran through his body as he saw his targets as Raja did. A gnome and a human in fresh snow, one with magic and the other clothed.

“Shafir wants the gnome alive. The human, rather alive but dead will do” Raja chirped out as it flapped its wings and flew out the window leaving Thaksin to recover from the mental invasion.


-----------

Vjeko dreamed of snow and slavery, ice and fire, thirst and hunger. A touch of metal to his lips, a feeling of moisture down his throat. The water flowed down his throat like rain in an arid desert. Greedily soaking it up without care to stop no matter the harm. His small hands grabbed the canteen and drank faster and harder as he sat up, eyes still closed and deep in the timelessness of waking up. As with anything you try to inhale that shouldn’t be, Vjeko started coughing and let the canteen fall to his lap. Once the fit was over he opened his eyes and looked around the room he found himself in.

At first glance, the room looked like a castle, chairs and a table made of wood, a lit fireplace. Walls on all sides, a barred door for privacy and a bed. Vjeko blinked and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes as he looked at the room better. The wooden furniture appeared old and beaten, the bed a mess and achingly unused. Wooden walls and doors ready to leave a parting gift in whoever touched them He finally let his eyes fall upon the human who approached him in the snowy valley and all he could do was stare and ask a simple question.

“Why?”


Offline Jabbathejack

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Zaiah shrugged at the question; he did not answer immediately, turning away to give the fire a couple of jabs with the poker. Satisfied that it was burning enough, he set a kettle on a hook over the fire and turned back, rubbing at his hands.

"You'd have died if I'd left you."

He pulled a chair away from the table and eased himself onto it with a sigh, rubbing at his shoulder. It had been an effort carrying him all that way, but he knew that the gnome was a lot thinner than he should by rights have been.

He didn't bother with asking what the gnome had been doing out there, caught up on the side of a mountain half naked in a freak snow storm. It was obvious what he was.

"You can rest here tonight, there'll be food soon. Not much, but its decent enough."

Zaiah heaved himself out of his chair and began to sort out the food that had already been promised. Whether there'd be anyone out chasing just one escaped slave, he had no idea, but the less he knew about the gnome behind him, the better.

Taking a knife, he sliced up a few vegetables and threw them haphazardly into a stew pot, adding the remains of the meat that he'd had in his pack. He set it over the fire, adding water from the kettle.

Brushing off his hands, he found two almost clean earthenware mugs and threw in some dried tea leaves before adding hot water. He set one down on the floor in front of his guest and settled back into his chair.


Offline Axl

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A small eternity passed as Thaksin sat and contemplated the battle between what he saw and what he knew. Alembda’s Reach was a volcanic region devoid of snow, water and ice. A region he’d been in to drop off and pick up slaves at least twice a month. Yet, the mental barrage showed him otherwise. A Gnome, clothed as a slave miner, unleashed a glacial barrier between it and the human. A human dressed no better than a city commoner offering a blanket as worn out as Thaksin felt. Hie prey’s image seared into his mind like the brand seared on his shoulder. Only once the hunt was done would the image retreat and provide mental relief.

Forcing himself out of the armchair the Trorc faced the window and watched the sun gingerly pick up their daughter Gaia and cradle her in their bright arms. There wasn’t a doubt in Thaksin’s mind that the avian pest didn’t alert the rest of his team before submitting them all to the psychic invasion. Why would it? Slaves are like tools, to be used at a moment's whim. Lost in thoughts of chains and shackles Thaksin made his way down the barely vocal stairs and into his bedroom. Kneeling in front of his chest the Trorc traced his finger across elaborate runes and hidden switches.

Old buildings usually attract squatters, hoodlums and other pests with sticky fingers. Satisfied all his safety measures were disarmed he opened the wooden lid. The chest wasn’t extravagant by any standards, a brass pinned oaken box just big enough to fit a belt, a short sword, a quiver of arrows and steel gauntlets.  Standing up while he adorned his belt, quiver, gauntlets and attached his sheathed sword to its home on his left. Thaksin looked around his room, sighed and headed down the protesting stairs to the foyer below. His bow and travel cloak hung behind the front door in anticipation. One hand gathered his last equipment as his other opened the lethargic wooden door. Stepping out into the brisk morning wind Thaksin felt a primal chill deep in his bones. Closing the door behind him the Trorc headed towards the city of Varn’aedil, the closest city to Alembda’s Reach. His team would have shared his mental trauma and will meet him on the way.


-----------

Vjeko watched the Human prepare what he could only assume was food. Looking at the cup in front of him with warry curiosity the Gnome waited till the Human drank first. Limited in the way of the Human language and social interactions Vjeko stared at the wooden floor as he tried to articulate how to say his thanks. Moving his mouth and muttering under his breath various phrases in Dwarven and Gnomish he shook his head in defeat. Palms upturned on his lap he raised his head and looked at the Human.

“Vjeko” he pointed at himself as his voice cracked out his name.


Offline Jabbathejack

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The pause before the gnome drank the tea did not go unnoticed, but, given the circumstances, he couldn't exactly blame him for the hesitation. If the tables had been turned, he'd probably have done the same.

He glanced over at the gnome, frowning at the jumble of words that spilled out of his mouth.
"Ahh. I see." Zaiah muttered grimly.

Of course, he understood absolutely none of the words that he uttered. He was hardly an educated man, not on conventional terms, at least. Everything he knew, he'd picked up by himself, where he could.

"Vjeko?" He repeated the unfamiliar name. So much for not wanting names, but if they could barely communicate, then what would it matter?

"Zaiah." He eventually replied, tapping his chest gently. He was silent for a long moment; it would be a while before the stew was ready, but he could hardly wait in awkward silence.

"I don't know how much of this you can even understand." Zaiah grimaced. "Well, this is going to be interesting, at the very least."

***

"Damn it." Herral snarled as the vision cut through his hangover fog with all the intent of a fishmonger gutting one of the catch.

"Give me some bloody warning." But of course, he was talking to himself. The one responsible for the invasive visions was neither in sight, nor earshot.

A gnome and a human. Hardly special from the looks of them. What did he care? Herral dragged himself to his feet, rubbing at his face. Ordinarily, Herral wouldn't give a rat's arse about a lone human and a gnome, but... these were not ordinary circumstances. It wasn't like he had any choice in the matter.

Muttering yet another curse under his breath, Herral buckled on his sword belt and made his way over to his masters. Within an hour, he was where he needed to be, ready for information needed to go and find their quarry.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2020, 11:21:56 AM by Jabbathejack »


Offline Axl

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Images not of their own drilled into the Elf’s mind as they slept. Images of ice and humanoids forcefully replacing sugar plums and gumdrops. The normally painful process slowed by sleep and mushroom ale. Instead of a sudden pain that came and went all at once, it became a building pain. The longer it went unacknowledged the more it increased, until the Elf opened their eyes and mouth to scream with every fibre of their being. The scream breaking the morning silence of the forest before the birds could call for the sun's embrace.

Virag laid on a bed of moss, dirt and twigs until their breathing was steady and the scream was nothing but an echo of pain. Sweat covered their body, forcing their makeshift bed to stick to places they’d rather not have things stuck to. There wasn’t a doubt in the Elf’s mind that they weren’t the only one to experience such a barbaric way of communication. Thaksin, Blodeuyn, Herral and others not of their group. Shafir would send their best first but would expect them to take their time.

Thaksin no doubt was already on the road to the city closest to the target's last known location, Herral would be awaiting the Elf outside the forest and Blodueyn. She’d be pissed that her meditation was interrupted and be looking to kill the first thing she saw. Which was a good thing; she isolated herself in the Jag’kul Grotto far south of civilization, she’ll be the last of them to get to the city. Standing up Virag brushed what filth they could off their unclothed body and headed to the distant roar of a waterfall. The forest trail leading from their sleeping area was slowly lit up by the sunlight as it filtered through the green canopy above. The forest keeping its own time activities which could have taken Virag ten minutes to do may just as easily took an hour. After washing off the night’s filth the Elf took their time walking out of the forest and to the small cabin where their belongings and Herral would be waiting. Elven time wasn’t on the same frequency as the other races, having a longer expiration date and all.

--------


Vjeko nodded as Zaiah said his name “Zaiah” the gnome repeated before taking another sip of his tea. The rest of what the Human said were unfamiliar sounds and filled the air with a sense of detached companionship. Shaking his head to signal his incomprehension the Gnome looked around the room for some way they could communicate. All races shared common words but they were limited and not meant for long conversations, words Vjeko could only guess at. Vjeko sat on the wooden floor silently contemplating what words were used both in Gnomish and Dwarvish in hopes one or two might be useful now.

“Danger? Friend or Foe? Hungry. Slave. Safe?” The Gnome started listing off words he hoped would share meaning in Human. The sounds of an awakening city started filtering into the small room setting Vjeko on edge. Vendors calling out to people passing by in hopes of snagging a sale. Someone in Dwarvish yelling about dragons in the sky, earthen daggers piercing the clouds and forests rolling across empty plains. No doubt a mentally unstable person spouting nonsense.


Offline Jabbathejack

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Zaiah frowned at the jumble of words that tumbled out of the gnome's mouth; but at least it was something in a tongue that both of them could understand. He decided to tackle each word as it came.

"Danger?" Zaiah shrugged. "Probably."

He thought better of it in an instant, deciding on a word that the gnome might have more chance of understanding.
"Yes." It was better to be honest.

"Friend." He replied with conviction, although did it really need to be said, considering he had carried him down the side of a bloody mountain when he could easily have left him behind?

Zaiah gestured to the pot where the stew was beginning to bubble steadily.
"Food." It would be a few minutes before it would be ready, but it would be decent fare. "Soon."

The next word caught Zaiah by surprise. He shook his head, again, emphatically. He would not save someone just to ensure that they ended up back where they started.

"Free." He murmured softly, hoping that he would understand. As for safe, well, that was another matter entirely.

***

Herral leant against the cabin's wall, chewing idly on a piece of dried meat whilst he waited. Hurry the fuck up, he thought to himself sourly, so I can get back to drowning my sorrows and finding a way out of this hell hole. He gave a bitter chuckle; of course, it was never going to happen, not until they either decided that he'd paid his debt or he gave his life in their service. Whichever came first.

He spat out a glob of dark spit as he saw the elf approach and he straightened up.
"Took your sweet time."

Even now, he was still getting used to Virag's general preference towards public nudity, yet he felt he had more respect for this one than the others he'd been lumped with.

"It's a waste, if you ask me." Of course, they hadn't, but that didn't stop Herral from speaking his mind. Even the beating he'd taken on his first mission with the group hadn't done much to curb his outspoken temper.

"What do we care about some gnome lost in the snow?"