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Invisible Lines

Discussion in 'Mixed-genre & Uncategorized' started by aryamajor, Aug 2, 2018.

  1. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    Arames sat near the fire with his metal and simply let Talia go about as she wished. He stopped his work only temporarily when she suggested that he should kill anyone that came through the door that was not her. Like she thought he'd really do that again. Keeping his back to the door he rolled his eyes slightly and pounded the gold again. He wanted to make it thin before rolling it.

    It must have taken Talia a while to find whatever it was she was looking for because he was nearly done rolling the metal when she returned and he'd started to play with twisting it into filigree. Arames didn't have his usual patience tonight and he wanted to get to the better part first and do a little design before finishing hammering out the gold. Suddenly in the middle of his work the girl flopped food on the floor next to him. Arames didn't care to eat right now, but he knew he wouldn't hear the end of it if he refused. Taking one of the little pies in his big brown hand he started to unceremoniously shove it into his mouth one handful at a time. A few crumbles fell out of the corner of his mouth and more from between his fingers.

    With his cheeks bulging he tried to chew and it was impossible to keep his mouth closed. Bits of the bread and meat showed from between his lips as he forced the food between his teeth and mashed it down. When his mouth had a little more space he pushed the few crumbles he gathered from the floor and shoved them in with the rest of the food. She didn't ask it to be pretty, so he just ate and got it over with. No sooner had he finished shoving the last of the food into his still stuffed face then he felt her jerk his shirt up.

    With a grunt he jumped slightly and cast her a disapproving frown. His shirt had been stuck to the wound and plastered in place with a small bit of blood that had seeped from the injury. It wasn't bleeding anymore, at least not until she tore the shirt away from the wound. Turning from her again he continued to work on the filigree. When she finished caring for the wound he could hear her grumbling under breath and the groaning of the bed while it was shoved from one part of the room into the other part. Maybe it was backwards, but it felt satisfying to hear her try and thank herself on his behalf. If he really thought what she did was necessary he would thank her. In the meantime she could stand around and gripe all she wanted. The food and neither was her pestering with his wound necessary. She was just trying to fuss about and try to make herself more useful than she really was.


    Arames hadn't gone to bed until the wee hours of the morning. That girl could order him around all she wanted, but he was going to do as he pleased. He'd been a man long enough to know what his limits were. He wasn't at his limit yet even if she thought she was testing him. Morning came a little earlier than the day before and he narrowed his eyes slightly at her. Talia had gone to bed early and she wanted to see if he'd drag behind her today. His side felt better and he was going to be proving her wrong.

    The morning mist felt cold, but he tried to keep his arms moving and legs at a good pace. It was fast enough the girl had to jog to lead the way. Cold like this felt so strange ad made him feel heavy. Talia didn't act like it was cold, but that was probably because she was used to the cold by now. Arames much preferred the desert and the constant heat. It made moving easier and he felt more like a natural Chip instead of a giant wooden creature with stiff limbs and brittle bones. Once he got the pace going and his blood pumping a little bit the Chip felt better.

    About time it looked like they were making progress he felt Talia pull at him and he frowned at her and resisted for a brief moment. The girl practically hung on him and then he relented and went down to his knees. Thhhppp! A dull thud sounded as an arrow planted itself not far from where they were at. Instantly Arames started to feel a little panicky. He closed his eyes and focused for a few precious seconds while trying to ignore the girl behind him yelling. For that moment he was trying to envision where the arrow came from, the wind direction and approximately how hard it would be to get to that location. Opening his eyes again took a deep breath and stood, but only so high as a crouch. Letting out a long breath he started to dart off through the tall grass toward the forest. Sometimes he would dip low enough that he would disappear and then other times he would rise up a tiny bit.

    He wanted to do this like an animal would stock its prey. If they could see him then he would drop out of site again and change his direction slightly until he reached the forest. Once he was in the forest Arames scanned the area. He was sure he spotted the offender that had shot at them and he made a charge for them. His plan was to tackle them and then he really didn't know what he was going to do. With just a hint of hesitation he took one step and then launched himself full force at the offending party.
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  2. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    Arames didn't listen. What in the wilds would possess him to do the exact opposite of what she said, but closing the gap rather than getting out of range? He was an 8ft tall target who thought he was being smart by running towards whoever was shooting. Not only could that be a trap, a single bowman to lure someone stupid enough to run at the full force into a barrage of arrows from all sides, but he had the nerve to leap into the underbrush where she couldn't see. "You idiot!" she hissed in Reylian, "You can't even fight!" She was supposed to be delivering him to the mountains alive and she'd had enough interruptions. She was tired, hungry, and more or less done with Arames foolishness altogether.

    Gritting her teeth, she moved with surprising speed across the meadow, keeping low to avoid any other fire. She was very much aware of exactly how stupid following him was and yet here she was doing it anyway. When she made it to the treeline she could see dirt being thrown in the air along with grass, marking the area where their assailant and Arames scuffle was continuing. With a shake of her head, she drew her scythe and slipped into the cloud of debris ready to take down whoever was firing at them.
  3. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    When Arames leaped for the figure of the bowman he felt their bony little body collapse. They were surprisingly light for their size. Whoever it was happened to be lithe as well, he could feel them slithering beneath him and desperately trying to get loose. What in the world he was doing, he didn't know, but he belly crawled right after them and dropped his whole weight over them again. After a few long moments of struggling he felt them go slack underneath him and he got up off of them.

    Almost as soon as the Chip got up off the well mashed archer he turned to glance at Talia and shrugged with a smirk on his face. He maybe didn't know how to fight, but he knew how to use his weight. The archer behind him was slowly peeling themselves out of the ground and wiping dust from themselves. Without any further need for communication Arames was ready to get going again and he beckoned for Talia to show him the way. If she thought her way was always better than she was mistaken. Even archers knew when they'd been had. He may not have been any good at fighting, but Arames did pride himself on a little wrestling and tackling. That was something he did enjoy from time to time and it was great to mix it in with a bit of stealth.
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  4. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    Talia watched the scene unfold with no small amount of irritation and her mouth gaping. He could have easily taken an arrow to the head, though she doubted there was an arrow around that could crack that hard nut he had for a skull, or somewhere else vital. Did he enjoy making himself a big, fat target? She had half a mind to poke him with the pointy end of her own weapon by the time he popped back up, dusting himself off with a pleased look on his tan face.

    She walked over, sword still gripped in her hand and shook her head. "You don't listen and now you've gone and opened your wound again." Nodding to his side, she noted the fresh blood dotting his dirty, stained shirt. "Keep doing that and it will end up infected for sure. C'mon. There's no where clean to fix it until we hit the village anyways." With that, she motioned him toward the north side of the treeline shaking her head all the while.

    * * * * * * * * * * * *

    The terrain became rockier, inclining toward the base of the great mountains with evergreens growing thick and tall. Their fresh scent smelled like home and Talia took in deep lungfuls of the crisp air. Home smelled so much cleaner than the city or that hellish desert where even the meat stank in the heat. They followed along a broad mountain stream, climbing along the ridges where they had to and taking deer trails in other places until Talia paused. "Stop," she told him in common tongue, throwing out her hand to Arames, "Don't move."

    The soft cooing of a bird hidden in the hills paused as they did and Talia brought her hands to her mouth, letting out a long owl's call before her bright eyes scanned the treeline carefully. As if made of shadow, figures began to slip out of the trees. They wore black and grey stripes, lending near invisibility among the trees in daylight or moonlight. Some carried bows, while others had only their war scythes.

    "Talia Greiymare," she said simply. "This is my charge." Not bothering to look back, she motioned to Arames with a olive toned hand. "Take me to the Chief."

    They were silent, but she could see the silent exchange of looks. It was all the better a reception she could have hoped for. Upon further inspection she recognized a few of them, noting her cousin among the group as well as what had one been her best friend. In silence, they beckoned the two travelers forward and Talia stepped into the path, glancing back to the big man on her coat tail. "They wont hurt us. Let's go."

    Talia followed the interrupted hunting group further into the trees until the area began to thin out, having obviously been inhabited. If someone were to simply walk without taking in the entire view of the forest around them, or kept their feet down, the village would be easy to miss, particularly in the dark. However, she could hear the ongoings of village life despite the absence of dwellings. "Look up."

    Above them was an intricate neighborhood network built among the trees and hidden nearly 50ft or more in the air. Wide verandas swept in spirals down the massive tree trunks and homes with thatched roofs, common rooms, and fire pits sat among them. Children played on the rope bridges between broad islands of dwellings, all solidly framed. A call came out from above and a rope was dropped with a simple loop at the bottom. They werent meant to put their feet into the loop and a pulley system would haul them upward into the rafters using a counter weight. There was an immediate problem with that when it came to Arames and she sighed. "Nai. Send the ladder!"

    A call went out but no ladder came. After a few minutes of debate, a host of warriors in full dress came down from the trees. They landed with soft, almost silent thuds before releasing their ropes with well practiced hands. She recognized them immediately and dread crept into her stomach like an ivy vine threatening to climb her throat and choke her. To the right was her mother in her robes and to the left was the First Warrior Symek. The tall man in the middle with high cheek bones and eyes bright as her own stepped up to her with a war scythe in his hands. A cap of gold and red cyrn feathers were braided into his long, curly hair as he took her in with an unreadable expression. Talia stood her ground as they gazed at each other, then made a fist, clapping it over her chest and offering the knuckles as a greeting. "Brother?" she said carefully.

    The Chief, her brother, stared her down before curling his fingers into a fist and smacking his chest in return. Then with the same fist he reared back and punched her in the jaw. Talia's world was met with an explosion of stunning pain and she pitched to the side into the leaves with a vain effort to catch herself. Her face stung as blood began to pool in the corner of her lip. He hadn't hit her hard enough to knock her teeth out at least. "Why did you come back?" he asked flatly.

    "Because..." the word sputtered out of her mouth, "I found a male cryn, Orey. I can make our people whole again. I can save the birds." She wiped at her mouth and climbed with shaking shoulders to her feet in order to look her brother in the eye again. "If you want that, you wont hurt him or me."

    Orey's golden eyes flicked to Arames, studying the big brute of a man before snapping his fingers. Ropes dropped down from the platform high above them along with a singular rope ladder made of strong vines. "You are welcome here so long as you obey the rules. No harm to the people, no harm to the birds, no theft."

    Then the chief turned back to his sister. "If you enter, you know what will be expected," he said to her, "And if you are lying you know what will happen."

    "Yes brother," she said, spitting out a wad of blood from her mouth.

    With that, the Chief and his first warriors slipped their feet into the waiting ropes before zipping upward into the trees. Talia looked to Arames and sighed, the side of her face already bruising. "Let's go." Offering over the heavy duty vine ladder, she waited for him to take it.
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  5. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    Talia had to ruin the moment and Arames just narrowed his eyes slightly. She could say what she wanted, but he was going to enjoy the fact that he'd done exactly what she was too scared to do. Someone had to take care of the archer and if she wasn't going to do anything about it he would and did. Besides, he was fairly certain by now that she was built very delicate like the one he had accidentally killed the other day. Just thinking of it made him feel sick and he quickly lost the smug expression.

    Since they had a ways to go Arames held a hand over his side. It was sore to say the least and the trek seemed to be ridiculously long. Part way up the mountain he had to stop to catch his breath. Arames was in good shape, but he was not used to being in the higher elevation. To make it worse the air was cool and he didn't have nearly enough to keep himself warm. By the time he they reached a good place to stop for a few minutes so he could rest he had both his arms wrapped tightly around himself and he almost jogged in place just to keep generating some kind of body heat.

    Above him the bird kept circling, but he could tell by the way it flew higher and higher that it was getting nervous. The bird knew this land and it remembered the dangers of it. Again the momentary guilt rose up. What if he was taking the bird's trust and using it in a way that would cause harm to it. This creature trusted him to care for it and know what was good. It was still young and it was learning. Still, he knew that the bird needed to find a mate and at some point the birds here would die out if this was truly the last male of the birds. Arames grimaced a bit at the thought and tried to tell himself that it would all turn out for the better. When they finally started moving again he winced. His side was getting to be quite tender between all the heavy breathing, and the strenuous climb.

    At last they stopped though he didn't see anything right away and then the little forms of people started to appear. Talia was perfectly fine with it from what he could tell so he waited to see what else would happen. Only a few moments later a group of people came down the ladder that Talia had asked fr. One of them from the sounds of it was her brother and Arames watched with a blank expression. Even when her brother hit her he glanced at Talia and then back to her brother.

    These people had no sense of sophistication. He just listened to the most pathetic rules and he gathered a little spit wad in his mouth. Making a loud hacking sound he made sure that everyone within hearing distance would be able to know exactly what he was about to do and then Arames spit on the ground near the feet of her retreating brother. The oaf deserved it. Somehow he had acted as though such rudimentary rules were all Arames was capable of understanding and the Chip didn't take to being treated like an idiot.

    The next plan was to try and find a good place among the rocks in the mountain to set up a little camp. Rocks could be cold and cause the area around them to be cooler, but if he could get a fire going and heat up the rocks too and then create a shelter around it he could be plenty warm and he liked that thought. Glancing to Talia he examined her face for a moment. Once he had a shelter he might consider making a little salve for his wound and bit to help soothe the ache that would likely be starting in her jaw. Without a word he turned on his heel and started for the first and best looking place among the rocks on the side of the mountain to begin building a little place to stay.
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  6. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    Talia heard her brother growl at her as he ascended into the tree tops. "You'd do well to watch that ward of yours. His safety depends on you from without and within." She nodded in understanding as he disappeared into the treetop city, but inwardly she winced. Arames made dumb decisions when it came to combat and her brother had essentially made him her responsibility. If Arames didn't behave whether against a stranger or one of her own, it would be her that had to answer a challenge. It was tradition, and meant to keep those who didn't know the rules from succumbing to them by accident. There would be someone else she would have to face when she walked into her cabin too, and she wasn't exactly looking forward to that thrilling conversation either. She'd have to make sure to angle herself so the hit would be administered on the opposite cheek of the one her brother bruised.

    Her jaw was already starting to throb from her brother's punch, but she ignored the thumping in her cheek entirely. No sooner had she arranged for a ladder to be dropped down was he marching away as if he had somewhere else to be besides exactly where he was. Did he not understand he was supposed to go up? Of course he did. He was always smarter than what he let on and this time no different. He was being a stubborn mule and doing what he wanted, which seemed to include leaving. Gritting her teeth, she mustered what patience she had left with the man and called up to the sentry at the top, "I'll be right back."

    Scowling, she dashed after the big man and caught up to him easily to walk along side him. Her strides were as large as she could make them to match his in order to keep up. "Wait, Arames where are you going? There is a bed and food waiting that way. We have to get your side looked at too or it will get infected. I'm supposed to look out for you here." He didn't seem to slow down at all and she reached out, grabbing his arm to slow him down. "Are you really going to bail on me after coming all the way here?"
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  7. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    The girl wanted to know where he was going and Arames kept right on walking. He had no intention of allowing any of these strangers know that he could speak. Then there was the added bonus that whoever her people were, they weren't too happy to see her. If they weren't happy to see her then he could only imagine that they were not happy to see him and the bird was the only reason they were doing well. This all came to one great conclusion. He was not going to be sleeping up in a tree with any of them.

    Even if he didn't say anything the girl seemed insistent and she acted as if she knew what he wanted. Food did sound good, but he wasn't sure it would be good enough to tempt him to sleep near any of her people. They were just as bad as the men that attacked him in the street because he refused to sell them swords. Perhaps he had come here for the birds, but he was starting to wonder what would happen if he did try to leave. Would they kill him just so the bird wouldn't want to go? So the bird would have no reason to fly out over the desert again? More than likely this was going to turn out bleak and he was going to be trapped in this miserable little mountain kingdom with mush headed people that had horrible tempers.

    Arames turned slightly when she grabbed his arm and he narrowed his eyes. "You think these blood thirsty, mush headed animals would let me?" Grumbling a little he turned to go back with her toward the ladder he was supposed to climb. If she was going to be part of the reason he was allowed to live instead of them enslaving the bird then he was going to make sure they didn't hit her this time.

    Pushing Talia to the side Arames climbed up the ladder first and he watched as she slowly made her way up. It didn't take a genius, or even a trained man to see which one of these mush heads were planning on hitting her. As soon as he saw the fist go flying Arames stepped in the way and let them knuckles crack against his ribs. It probably hurt their knuckles more than it hurt him. At most he'd get a little bruise, but it wouldn't be enough to make him swell and smart like her. Meeting the foreigners gaze he sneered. "Touch the bird, or her and I'll break your hand next time." Breaking a hand was something easy to accomplish and he was sure he could do that without needing any great training. Arames wasn't about to make an idle threat and he was sure that whoever this stranger was knew it.
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  8. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    Despite what anyone else thought, Arames could speak and he could do it with intelligence. She had discovered that quickly and his rebuttal didn't surprise her other than the fact that he had answered to begin with. Of course, he thought they were all animals. He was as backwards as she had ever seen, treating animals better than people and seeing people as animals. Sometimes they were and sometimes they werent. She'd seen both sorts and while she agreed in part, it didn't make her see him as any less nutty. He pushed her to the side and began to scale the ladder ahead of her with heavy thumps of his feet. His movements caused the entire rope ladder to pitch and wobble as she climbed up behind him.

    When they neared the top, she climbed onto the platform with a practiced hand before taking a look around. A cursory glance told her there were several men around them, all of which looked familiar and one of which she knew entirely too well. He was the first to move in. A meaty fist came swinging at her and she prepared to block the blow, but somehow she didn't have to. A yowling cry erupted from the man as he withdrew his hand, shaking it vigorously to dispel what sounded like a fair amount of pain. His fist had connected with Arames solid torso and it was obvious which man had one that little contest. Why was he suddenly taking up for her? Who knew. The best she could figure is that he logically came to the conclusion her health meant his too. Which was entirely true.

    As the threat growled from the big man's mouth, the first attacker shored himself up and reached out to her from in front of Arames. A deadly finger was pointed at her by the thick fisted man. "You disappear and come back with another male?" he hissed. At Arames words, his focus shifted to Arames. "I'll do what I want with my wife," he spat back, "She has been unfaithful and disobedient to me. Now, move stranger."

    Talia's eyes connect with her husband's and she could tell time had done little to soften his temper in the slightest. He was a short man, leaving her taller by an inch though he was older and his head was shaved on either side while his dreadlocks piled down his back with leather ties of red. His brown eyes remained forceful and cool as ever while he assessed her. Nothing about him had changed at all. "Go to hell, Teylous. I came back for the birds sake and my people. This is my ward. Touch him again and I'll challenge you." That comment sent a nerve spiking through Teylous in the form of a popping vein on his temple and he didn't waste his time trying to shove past Arames to get to her with a roar of anger.
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  9. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    The command to move didn't do Arames' temper any good. He could see the man was struggling with an ugly temper himself and there was only way to cool it down. They both had to get it out of their system. Naturally the girl seemed to think that talking to the oaf was a good idea and it made things worse. Arames planted himself directly in the man's way and he only took a slight step back when the man collided with him. Grasping for one of the man's hands Arames decided to make good on his promise. He was going to break one hand because this 'husband' of hers was an idiot.

    Talia was ready to meet Teylous head on. Getting beaten on by him once was his shame, letting him do it again with out a fight or defense was a shame on her. Baring her fists, she gritted her teeth and side stepped, intending to let him barrelling past her before taking him down with a well placed hit. Instead, he was met with the solid wall that was Arames. The man hardly budged, though Teylous was strong as an ox, and promptly grabbed up one of her husbands thick wrists. A resounding snap echoed through the tree tops followed by another pained bellow and the elite warrior tried to retreat with his newly broken wrist. Talia blinked once and it didnt take much to see that some of his friends would move in and Talia changed her tactic, freeing the sword from its sheath with an easy swing to point it at the encroaching men. "Uhuh. Attack my ward and I protect him. Go before someone else gets a broken wrist." They all regarded each other with cautious looks and she knew no one would challenge her right now. She was still the chieftain's sister and formidable even without Arames.

    With the man focused on his hand Arames figured everyone else would leave him be. Typically with a pack of animals all you had to do was disable one and others would begin to shy away. Sometimes hurting one, or two more would be enough, but most of the time the first one was good. Instead they acted like rabid beasts that wanted their maddening fill of whatever it was they craved. Arames hated people when they were like this. It was only fair that he gave warning and the man that claimed to be Talia's husband was stupid.

    Most of the commotion was settled down a bit after Talia drew her sword. Here it was, all his concerns confirmed. These people were hardly worth the time they took to look at. All of them were violent and they were eager to kill. Looked like the girl was about the same as they were and she used the sword so flippantly. Clenching his jaw he looked from her to the men that faced them and then decided to pick a spot to sit down. He was going to get some of that food and then pile in with some blankets and get a good night's rest. Wasn't any point in waiting around for more trouble.

    Pushing past a few of those left gawking he made his way over to the pot of food and took one of the plates near it. Digging into the pot hot food he piled some on the plate and began eating without a care for who was watching, or who might care that he could have eaten out of turn.
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  10. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    With the others stayed, things seemed to be calming down again in short order besides the sound of Teylous taking in unsteady breaths as he clutched his broken wrist. It served him right. She had expected such a welcome from him, given when she left he tried to stop her by force. Talia shot the man, technically her husband, a harsh look and waved her hand sending him on to wherever it was he would sulk or drink away his troubles. Then she turned to Arames who had started to talk off with a scowl and plopped down on a nearby platform to help himself to someone elses dinner they had left on the family table outside. And he thought her people were uncouth. The man had practically plopped down to a families well earned dinner to consume it himself without asking.

    Talia grumbled to herself as she hid the sword again and walked away, rubbing at her jaw. He could eat for now so long as he didn't leave. The way to her cabin was familiar enough even after nearly a half a year gone and she found it exactly as she left it. There were only a few things she was able to keep hidden from Teylous inside and it didn't look as if he'd bothered to go hunting for anything. She hadn't bothered to move in with the man even after they'd wed and he'd only managed to take her once or twice. Not moving in was considered acceptable because of her social status. Her hammock remained hung on the far wall, a small wooden table carried an oil lamp and the box beneath that held her clothing which was admittedly richer than most. She had certain ceremonies to attend as Chieftan's daughter and now sister. There were a few of her weapons, mostly knives, and her hunting bow in the corner. Tossing off her travel worn shirt, she plucked a fresh, loose fitting tunic from her box and a matching pair of flowing pants which she tucked into her boots. Changing into fresh clothes felt so much better and she resolved to find Arames some too.

    Her next stop was her grandmothers. The woman wasn't home, but the cabin was open to visitors. Talia stepped inside and took an oversized shirt from her grandmother's pile then payed a visit to the medicine man. "Honey and herb. Bandage," she said simply. It was best to stay simple right now. She could hear people whispering about her as she walked to where she left Arames.

    By the time she arrived, there were two wide eyes children with dark, frizzy hair staring at Arames with their mouths open. "He's so big," one of the gasped, "I think he's a giant!" The other one just groaned back and pouted. "He ate most of the stew." Talia smirked a little at the children and ruffled the hair of the closet one. "Go tell your mother your a guest in the chief-mother's cabin for dinner tonight. Go on." There was a great flurry of excitement before the two dashed off. Sidling up to Arames, she plopped down next to him with her item in hand. "You did eat their dinner," she told him, "If you're done, I brought some stuff to make salve for your side and a fresh shirt for you. I think it will fit."
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  11. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    Arames was entirely surprised when the little boys came out and stared at him. They seemed to be having a conversation all to themselves and it wasn't all that wonderful to overhear. He understood their language just fine. However, he hadn't expected that a random pot outside with food would belong to them. It looked like it was for anyone. Shouldn't the food have been made inside if it was intended for yourself? For now it was easier to pretend that he didn't understand them and the Chip looked up and gave the boys a dumb expression. Perhaps he could make it up to them in another way. He wasn't the best cook, but he could hunt. These people were good hunters though and that didn't seem to be a good gift. One thought that Arames decided on was to leave some training swords for the boys. They would like those and it might pay for the meal that he just ate.

    While the boys watched him Arames finished the food in his bowl more slowly than before. Part of it was the rising guilt of eating what should have been theirs. Occasionally Arames would glance up from his food and he would take visual approximations of the boys size, height and possible arm length. If they were indeed the same people as Talia and her nasty husband then they would be light for their size. With that in mind Arames figured he would need to use lighter metals than what they chose to make swords out of for his people and their children to train with.

    Only a few moments later Talia arrived and promptly noted again that he was indeed eating the food that should have belonged to these boys. Casting her a sidelong glance Arames sighed and then finished what he had in his bowl. The tiny mushhead woman was talking about getting him a new shirt and cleaning up his side. Arames didn't say a word, but he set the bowl aside and followed her to wherever she was staying for the night.

    Inside her little shack Arames sat down and pulled his shirt off. It hurt when she wiped at his side and he frowned. Whatever the salve was he thought she must have misinterpreted the name. It didn't feel like a salve. When it first went on it burned and the soothing didn't really take effect until nearly 10 minutes later. When the burning finally subsided Arames was sure that his side felt better because it was numb, not because it was soothed. About time he started to settle in for the night Arames heard the familiar swoosh of the red falcon flying overhead before it perched on the roof of the little home. Wrapping the blanket a little tighter over his shoulders Arames scooted as close as he could get to the fire without lighting himself aflame and went to sleep.


    The next morning Arames woke earlier than usual. It was cold outside the fire had died down to glowing embers. Taking the blanket off he shivered a little and gathered up the new shirt. He needed to wash because he was sure he stank at this point. Digging into his bag he grabbed one of his bottles of oils and took himself out to a small stream. At the stream Arames cupped his hands and splashed water across his chest a few times and then poured a little oil into his hands and rubbed the water and oil all over himself and smeared it to his back too. It was horribly cold and he didn't like it, but he had to wash. The dreaded part of taking his pants off came and Arames rushed through the rest of his morning wash before he scrambled back into his pants.

    Somehow the bit of dampness from his skin absorbed into the pants and only made things much worse. In the desert it was perfectly comfortable, but here it was far too cold for that. He would have to find a blanket of sorts to dry himself with next time before he put clothes back on. Crouching near the stream Arames dunked his head in the water and quickly rubbed the oils in his hair and then ran all the way back to the house where Talia was staying.

    On the way into the house Arames grabbed some wood and he made sure to get the fire going again. Once he had the fire to a healthy size he got closer to it and dried off as best he could before slipping the fresh shirt on over his head. Even if it was fresh, it smelled strange and he wasn't sure that he liked the smell. Taking the shirt off again he dumped a little more oil into his hands and then rubbed the oil into the shirt. The shirt smelled much better after that. With his morning routine finished Arames stuffed the oil back into the bag he had carried all the way here and then decided to take himself outside.

    Almost as soon as he stepped outside he spotted the boys from the night before. Beckoning them over he quickly pulled out a little bag filled with pretty polished stones. They were not of great value, but children liked to have swords adorned similarly to that of their parents. When the boys came over he poured the stones out on a little cloth he fished from his bag and then pointed to a small sign where he had written in several languages, including their own instructions: Pick out 3, or 4 stones for the hilt of your sword.

    The boys didn't seem to understand and stared at the sign and the stones and him with dumb looks. With a few moments more Arames burst out in exasperation. "Don't you know how to read?" Of course the boys didn't and he sighed. "Fine, pick out 3 or 4 stones that you like. I will put them in a hilt of a sword for you to train with. Give me 2 days and when you come back your training swords will be ready."
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2018
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  12. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    Talia was relieved to see he didn't argue about following her back to her cabin and letting her fix the mess on his side. The wound looked puffy and red, but it wasn't oozing anything which was good sign. Hopefully, it wasn't just irritation from all the ridiculous movements he'd been making without thinking of the spot. Once he was all patched up with fresh medicine and bandage, Talia gave him a blanket and a woven bedroll. "Here," she said, "This should work." She knew the blanket would be too small but it was the best she could do until she could find someone to weave a bigger one for him. He took the offerings in silence and she shrugged before building a little fire in her stove out of hot coals. It wouldn't create alot of smoke and it would burn longer through the night. At one point, she heard the bird land on the rooftop of the cabin, it's feathers brushing over the thatching and its claws gripping the thick bundles as it tucked in for the night too. It needed to go roost with its own kind but maybe it didn't know that's what it was supposed to do. She'd have to lead Arames into the cliffs in the morning to test the theory.

    When she had the fire good and toasty, she left Arames bundled up in the floor and went to her mother's cabin. There was a coal fire going in the brazier there too and the woman sat in her robes by the stove on her woven sitting mat. A bowl of stew was cupped in one hand as she watched the red hot coals. The lights reflected in her dark eyes when she turned to look at her daughter her entered with out announcing herself. Talia looked wreck. There were dark circles under her daughter's golden eyes, the bruising on her cheek was clear even in the dimness. She looked thin and her skin was darker than it had been when she left, no longer the lighter olive tone, but a deeper sort of brown brought on by exposure to the sun.

    The two women looked at each other for a long moment before her mother rose from her seat and walked swiftly over to capture Talia in a earnest hug. "I thought you were dead."

    Talia dropped all of her pretense the moment her mother's arms wrapped around her, clamping her eyes shut against impending tears. "I almost was. A few times. But I promised to find a way to fix what had been done. I really did bring back a falcon mom. Kulytra led me."

    Her mother's grip tightened for a long moment before she let go. They both wiped at their eyes and she was allowed to sit next to the fire. Her mother stirred the coals and offered over a bowl of stew which Talia accepted without a word. "I see things have not changed."

    Her mother shook her shaved head carefully. "Your brother remains in his ways. We are shut off from the world still. He believes Kulytra commands it. When you left, he had you marked as a heathen. Had you returned without the bird, you would have been killed."

    "I know," Talia said, taking a sip of her stew. It tasted like rabbit and rosemary, one of her favorites and she savored the bite with a small hum. "When I found the bird, I couldn't not come back. Kulytra challenged my worthiness many times over and..." -she thought of Arames as she swallowed- "And still does. But I won't give up until I see the birds restored."

    Her mother nodded and they ate in silence for awhile longer. "That is new," she said, gesturing to the sword, "A gift from Kulytra?"

    Talia raised a brow at her mother, knowing exactly where she was going with the question. "In a way. My scythe was lost and Arames gave it to me."

    That made her mother sit up a little straighter and Talia held up a hand to get a chance to finish. "It was a gift of necessity, not out of extravagance, and nothing more. Trust me, he's not what I would choose."

    "Neither was Teylouse," her mother said loftily, "You didn't even try with him."

    Talia's brow crinkled. "That's an entirely different thing and you know it."

    Another, more strained silence fell between them and Talia finished her stew though the enjoyment had faded some. "He's my ward and nothing more. I don't care what the others say. Especially, Teylouse. Just because I've returned doesn't mean I'm coming back as his wife either."

    Her mother sat down her bowl and looked up. "He will not see it that way and he will beseech your to enforce the bargain he struck. Don't make it hard, Talia. None of us marry for want."

    Talia rose to her feet and dusted off her pants, giving her mother a pointed look in the process. "I'm not a toy and I came back because I was called to. Teylouse can keep a cold bed." Without letting her mother say anything further, she marched out of the cabin and returned to her own to find the falcon asleep on the roof and Arames snoring on the floor. It was roasting temperature inside and somehow Arames was curled up as if he were cold. Rolling her eyes, she got up and tossed her own blanket over him before flopping into her hammock and closing her eyes. She would have to sleep light tonight. It wouldn't do well to have her husband come calling.

    * * * * * * * * * * * *

    At some point, she must have fallen asleep in earnest because when she woke the fire was out, the sun had risen and so had Arames. Rubbing her eyes, she rolled out of her hammock and wondered if she was going to have to track him down or if he had simply gone out exploring. The former seemed more likely. Talia yawned and pulled out a fresh tunic, warm wool pants with an underlayer of leggings, and a pair of warm gloves. Her water pitcher sat to the side and she settled it into the warm coals to bring the temperature of the liquid up before using a rag to bathe off with. No sense in using cold creek water when she could have something much more comfortable. She even washed her hair over the bowl and used a sweet soap to set her curls nicely.

    It felt good to be home after so long away. She was wearing her own clothes and had he own cabin again. The only thing she couldn't place was a strange smell. It was spicy and not at all like the pine scents of her home tree. The smell was so strong it made her sneeze a few times before she could escape her cabin. "Uhg..." Wiping her nose, she shook her head and then adjusted the sword on her hip. It looked bad to be carrying it around rather than the scythe that Teylouse had commissioned for their betrothal but she didn't rightly care. Arames had made it and to not use it was an insult to his craftsmanship as well as his companionship, whatever that was. She milled around the market for awhile and ignored the looks before purchasing a bushel of apples and a jar of honey. They would be nice to keep around the cabin again. Then she bought a few squirrels. Normally, she would hunt them herself, but she was too eager to bring Arames up to the cliffs to take the time.

    Talia asked around and finally someone told her they had seen the outlander wandering toward the outskirts of the tree platforms. Sighing, she walked over to the direction indicated, expecting to find Arames mid escape from the mountain. Instead, she found him talking to the two boys from yesterday as he worked on something metal between his two big hands.

    "The outlander is making us swords," one of them said with a big grin.

    Talia ruffled the boy's hair with her free hand and chuckled. She liked the kids in the village more than the adults. They didn't carry half of the silly beliefs the adults did and at a certain age didn't care about tradition. For now, they saw her as a neighbor that occasionally brought them tasty fruit and that was all. "Well, see to it you use them wisely when he's done. He might have to finish later though."

    She wandered over to where Arames was working and held out an apple for him. He probably hadn't had any breakfast and this was as good as any. "Breakfast. I want to show you something when you're done eating too."
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  13. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    Arames glanced up at Talia when she thrust an apple toward him. Setting the little sword aside for the moment he took the apple and sniffed it once. This was a food that he'd seen many times in the markets, but he hadn't tried it yet. These were strange looking little foods of sorts. From what he had gathered it was a fruit, but not all fruits tasted good. Oddly enough the fruit didn't have much of a smell and Arames took a small, precautionary bite. There was a satisfying crunch as he broke the skin and his teeth sunk into the juicy white flesh of the fruit. The little bit of tang at the end was pleasing and Arames nodded a little to himself before he shoved the entire apple in his mouth. For the time he would hold it there while he finished a few last adjustments. It was certainly better there than sitting around and becoming filthy.

    With the apple shoved into his mouth there was the issue of drool. Eventually the saliva had become so bountiful that it began to slip toward the edge of his lips. Slurping loudly the Chip kept on working on the metal. Any interruptions from the female were ignored, or met with a raised palm. He wasn't going to talk to her at this moment. It seemed that Talia lost her patience after a while and Arames widened his eyes slightly before he shoved the little swords into his bag and then slung it over one shoulder. Since his other hand was free now he opened his mouth and pulled the apple out. A string of drool hung precariously between the apple and his lip before it finally broke. Arames took a larger bite this time and he finished the apple in just 3 more bites.

    Whatever the little fruit was that Talia had given him it wasn't going to be nearly enough to eat and Arames hadn't seen anything near the camp that would be worth eating yet. There weren't even any good snakes. Perhaps there wouldn't be any snakes in this area. Often times he noticed that colder areas didn't have too many snakes. It simply meant that he would have to find something else to eat.

    The further they moved away from the village the more rugged the land got and it was colder. Arames heard a shriek overhead and he stopped mid-stride on his climb up the mountain. Leaning forward slightly the Chip rested one hand against the face of the mountain that they were climbing. A gold colored falcon was standing up in her nest and puffing her chest out. Almost as soon as Arames had spotted the female he saw the red falcon begin to twist in the air and perform a sort of mating dance. That was why they were here. Arames stopped where he was at and decided to watch for a bit. He wanted to know that the falcon was safe and that it had chance to do what it came here for. If they left and the red falcon had not mated with any females than the entire trip would have been in vain.

    A small worry started to mount in his mind. What if this woman's people would never let him leave again. If they knew the red falcon was here because of him and it was the last male they could be here for some time. With that thought in the forefront of his mind he glanced toward Talia and he clenched his jaw slightly. "You brought me here and you know I'm trapped as you are. I can see you have no love for this place. How many birds must the red falcon mate before your people will be satisfied?"
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  14. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    Talia watched as Arames studied the red apple with apprehension. Had he never seen one before? Of course he hadn't. The man might have been more well traveled than he let on but the desert didn't have much in the way of fresh vegetation from what she had seen. This was probably the first time he'd bothered to try something out of his comfort zone. She expected him to take a tentative bite out of the apple to test the taste. After a few crunches, the food seemed to be satisfactory and she waited to see if he would eat the rest. Instead, he opened his mouth wider than any humanoid should have been capable of and tucked the entire apple into his mouth. Was he really going to eat the whole thing like that? No. Apparently, he was simply storing the fruit in his mouth like a rodent would for winter while he finished what he was doing.

    "Are you-"

    He raised his hand and then kept working, pausing her sentence. Scowling at him, she crossed her arms and continued. "Going to-"

    Arames cut her off again with a pointed palm aimed in her direction. Talia scoffed and stepped a little closer. "-Really finish that now?"

    He kept right on working with drool running down his mouth on to his chin. Even warriors had some semblance of table manners, if only a few, and Arames drooling with a large bulge tucked into his cheek was probably one of the grossest displays she'd ever seen. "Come on, we can finish that later. The female birds will only be in their nests so long."

    That managed to get him to move and she sighed in slight relief as he shoved his work into his bag with a bit of a grumpy look then proceeded to pop the apple out of his mouth. A long string of drool followed the soggy fruit and she grimaced at the slimy sight. Was he really going to eat it? Her question was answered when he chomped down and at the fruit up as if it was perfectly natural. "That's just disgusting," she commented with a raised brow, "C'mon. Lets go."

    She led them out of the tree village down the rope ladder and into the mountains. The trees began to thin and the terrain became rockier as they climbed into the craggy hills of the mountains until they entered a valley where the bird nests were once plentiful. Now, there were burn spots on the ledges where the nests had been destroyed by their enemies. Those that had been destroyed no longer roosted there, but there were other nests. It didn't take long for the male falcon to find his first female and for the dance over head to begin. He would have to show the female he was able to keep up with her in order to warrant letting him father her children. Seeing the two bird intermingle made her smile. She had finally accomplished part of her task.

    They sat in the hillside while the falcons cried to one another, their shadows crossing across the canyon floor and all was fairly peaceful until Arames asked her a question. It was an odd question, though not entirely inaccurate and she tore her golden eyes away from the birds to look at the strange giant man. "My people are the keepers of the Goddess' birds. My love for my situation doesn't affect my duty to ensure the animal's survival. That's what I came back for. Kulytra lead me to you and the male falcon to see to it they survive. My task isn't done until the birds made and the chicks hatch and there are more males to carry on the line. I will put up with what I have to from Teylous and my brother to see the task is done and I will see that you are able to return...home." She was honest when she said it, but she knew very well it would be a challenge for her to leave again now that she had returned. Teylous and her brother would be watching closely.
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  15. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    For a split second the answer seemed to be satisfactory. Talia could believe what she wanted, but there was no such thing as this goddess that she spoke about. It was the Four Winds that kept the birds. Without the Winds there would be nothing on which the bird could fly. What was even more misguided was the way her people almost seemed to take ownership of these animals. The longer he was here the more Arames regretted his decision to lead the falcon back. When he tried to leave it was likely that her people would not let the bird return with him. He could only hope that what was needed was accomplished quickly.

    If there were not anymore males born and raised in a short time the red falcon would get used to her people and perhaps they would trap the animal if Arames tried to leave. Working his jaw he watched the birds go through their dance before going off to the female's nest to mate. While the birds were mating all he could do was wait. More than likely they would be up here all day.

    While he was in the mountains he was going to find a way to get himself and the red falcon home. In time it would be large and he could fly it. The trick wasn't getting the bird to trust him. It was knowing which direction to fly so he wouldn't get the bird killed by the neighboring tribes. Without a word Arames stood and started to climb further up the mountain. There was going to be plenty of time for him to get to know this area and to come to know what it would take to escape. He didn't need Talia to get him out and he wasn't sure that he trusted her anymore. She wanted the red falcon so badly that she wouldn't even tell him when they started out that it would be troublesome to leave again. The girl had let him believe that he would simply be able to leave when it was time.

    In part Arames was angry with himself. He was dumb enough to let the girl weave her tail about the birds and needing the red falcon and he came back without thinking of the possible trap it may be for himself and the bird. All the way here he worried and still couldn't think of what the real danger was. Ultimately he was to blame. On his way up the side of the mountain Arames tore a mini boulder out of the mountainside and simply let it roll down behind him. On second thought he hoped for Talia's sake that she wasn't behind him. He wasn't used to traveling with others.

    With a growl the Chip continued his climb until he heard the pitiful cries of a wounded falcon. It was a sound all too familiar and he started toward it immediately. If the falcons were like other birds they were not in danger only from the other tribes that Talia mentioned. These falcons likely fought each other. Just as he started for a rougher part of the mountain Arames spotted the bird. It was struggling with a lame foot and a damaged wing.

    The falcon appeared to be a young one and Arames could only guess that the bird had gotten in the way of a mature falcon and lost the fight. It was a beautiful gold and he approached slowly. At first the falcon tried to fight him off. It would naturally think he was a predator. After trying to get close a few times he settled on a boulder not far away and waited for the great bird to accept her fate. In time animals would quit fighting because they were too tired and they could do nothing more.

    When the falcon was quiet at last Arames moved in closer to the bird. He had a few of the treats for the red falcon with him and that was a good thing. First he dropped a small treat for the golden falcon and she fell to the food almost immediately. Somehow he was going to have to get her back down the mountain and into the village to care for her. Within a few more treats he had the falcon more relaxed though it was still weary. If there was one thing that Arames knew he had to be careful of it was the falcon's beak. A falcon bite was nasty and he'd nearly lost a few fingers before.

    Finally, after an hour of working with the young female he got close enough that he figured he could make a rush for it. Taking his belt off Arames moved slowly a bit closer to the bird and he tossed another treat to the ground. While the female was plucking at the treat he moved in close and wrapped his belt around her beak. Arames left the belt loose enough for the bird to open her mouth slightly, but he didn't want it to be enough for it to try chomping his legs off. There was a short struggle from the bird and he let her tire herself out again.

    Moving in close to the bird he gently stroked her head and neck while speaking in Quoti. "You will be a strong falcon. Feathers will shine in the sun soon. Let me help you." Speaking to the animal in a soft voice he worked his way to her wing and gently folded it over her back. The bird screeched some in pain, but the wing had to be carefully folded over her back if he was going to carry her down the mountain without hurting her. After some long and hard work Arames had the bird calm and he hoisted her into his arms. The walk down the mountain was far more work than going up, but he had a falcon to mend.
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  16. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    Arames didn't reply and that was just as well with her. What needed to be done couldn't be changed. The only way the birds would survive properly and for certain was if they made sure a male was born. That way Arames could leave and the red feathered male falcon that was so attached to him could follow if it wanted. The man could leave and go wherever it is his heart desired. She watched the birds for a few more minutes until she felt Arames shift beside her. His hulking frame lifted up from his hiding spot and he wandered further up the mountain. The man probably had to take a piss or something and she wasn't about to follow him for that show. The way he was going, there would only be one way to escape and that was the way he came in the first place. There was no way he could walk past her and not be noticed.

    "If you're going to piss try not to do it near the falls!" she called after his retreating back. If he heard her, he made no indication of it. They didn't have streams in the desert like they did in the forests and she didn't want him pissing in their drinking water. A common sense concern, but she found the man was often lacking in sense that would otherwise be obvious to other people sometimes, whether it was by design or not.

    She waited with her arms crossed as the birds continued their mating ritual in cycles and waited for Arames to finish his business. Minutes stretches into a quarter hour and then a half. Nobody took that long to relieve themselves and she wondered if he had some how managed to sneak past her or if he had gotten stuck somewhere. Nothing would have eaten him except perhaps a mountain cat or a nyte beast, but they normally wouldn't have roamed that far into the crags. Rolling her eyes, she set off into the trees to track him down.

    It wasn't a hard task. He left behind a decent trail of over turned rocks and even a small bolder tossed down in his wake. How hard would have been to just walk quietly? Things like that could attract the wrong kind of attention. She climb up to one of the ledges and spotted a smear of blood along the rock. Arames' blood? She wasn't sure, but it was drying quickly. Talia checked all around the ravine looking for the trail again and found nothing. "Arames?!" By this point he could have circled back around and out of the valley. Sighing, she hitched her belt up a little and climbed down to the valley floor before making a light jog into the trees. Maybe he would have gone back to the village if he was hurt. No, he would be a stubborn ass and post up somewhere under a tree like an over sized mole. Her eyes scanned over the trees, trying to see if he was somewhere close by.

    A snapping twig caught her attention to her left. She already knew they had been followed since they left, but now she was more concerned with finding Arames for his own safety more than anything. "You might as well come out now and make yourself useful," she smarmed at the hiding warrior. A tall man, whom she recognized as one of her brother's elite stepped out, his sycthe strapped to his back. "Did you see the man?" she asked.

    "Aye, he went back to the village. Carrying a falcon on his back," the warrior answered truthfully.

    "Shit." Talia didn't bother to ask anything else. What was Arames doing with another bird?! She dashed into the trees a top speed, leaving a flutter of leaves in the wake of each swift step toward the village.

    When she arrived there was some sort of ruckus going on below the platforms and that was usually a good indicator that Arames was there. Running over without a second thought, she found the man with a young female cryn, her glossy golden feathers caked with someones blood and the man petting at her head. One the guards had found them and was glaring at Arames, as he removed his scythe to point it at the man.

    "Your ward showed up with a bird covered in blood and refuses to speak," he growled, "You know the law about theft and damage of the Goddess' Birds."

    More guards were starting to arrive and Talia shifted herself in front of Arames. "Wait, just wait! I don't think he hurt the falcon."

    "He's your responsibility and you lead him straight to the nesting grounds," he said, "Now he comes back with a bird. You tell me you didn't let him take one for himself or maybe even for you?"

    "That's alot of 'if's'" Talia snapped back, "And I'm sure he's going to put the bird back."

    Glancing over her shoulder, she looked to Arames. "You're actually going to put it back, right?"
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  17. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    The gold falcon was in worse shape than she initially appeared. All the way down the mountain the bird held very still. Arames knew that had she been in better condition she might have tried to fight more. Instead it was as if the bird had grown silent and accepted her fate. She was too worn, injured, and frightened to do much else. Gradually the ground became a little more smooth, though there was no such thing as smooth ground in the mountains.

    By the time Arames reached the little village he was practically surrounded by angry men. He wouldn't have cared so much except for the fact that he could feel the bird begin to struggle. They were frightening her. It was a bit surprising to see that gradually they backed off, but the people were still watching him with angry gazes. Arames shot them his own disapproving glances and slowly lowered the bird to the ground. While she was still bound he mixed a little bit of herb and a few other things from his bag. Digging a bit deeper he found the little treats for her. These were meat bites that he would feed to the red falcon, but the female needed them now.

    Arames untied the falcon and he carefully approached her once she was free. The bird was more than willing to accept the little meats from him and he gradually moved closer and closer. After a while of working his way toward the bird he got close enough to touch the falcon. It was all a game of trust and communication. She had to know that he would not hurt her and that he was trying to care for her. For the time he needed her trust to get close enough to touch her. After the falcon was comfortable with him he would try applying the herbs to her wings and injured leg. To try and put the herb mixture on her now would be foolish.

    While the Chip was busy working on the falcon's trust the group started to shift again and the bird squawked nervously. Talia came marching right into the invisible bubble and she caused enough concern that the falcon started to shake her wings unsteadily and wobble in her attempts to make a defensive stance. Tilting his head Arames worked his jaw and stared at her for a long moment. She was trying to make him talk and he hated it when people did that. However, from what he'd gathered these people were about to kill him and Talia. This was going to require an answer. In many ways he felt like screaming at them all, but that wouldn't help the situation. Working his way closer to the falcon again he worked at calming her with a low hum and firm, but gentle restraint.

    Once the animal was calmed again he met Talia's gaze and then looked out toward the others standing by. They were all waiting for some kind of answer. "I will heal her and then she chooses where she goes. I do not own any animal, they choose their life. If she chooses to stay with me as the red falcon has, then I will not force her to leave." That was all the more he intended to say and they weren't going to get anything else out of him.

    Most of the night Arames stayed up. He knew that night time was the most likely for a predator to think that it would try for an easy meal. Every now and then there would be a sort of happy shriek from the red falcon. It was still trying to roost on top of the flimsy houses in the village. The falcon would circle overhead and then it would settle down again nearby. Arames would drift off to sleep every now and then, but he'd be reminded to wake with the sighs of the gold falcon. The bird was in pain and he knew it, but she would fly again if she didn't fluster too much and damage her wing more.
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  18. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    "See?" Talia said after Arames spoke, "The bird is just getting a little help. He's good with animals. Then it will be free to fly where it likes." Waving her hands, she made to disperse the crowd. "Now, go on. There's not much else to see here." A few of the folks hesitated, looking confused or angry and she drew herself up. "I am still the chieftan's blood, unless you've so easily forgotten. My order is to leave. Leave."

    That seemed to spur people into dispersing quickly and Talia turned to Arames, an equally grumpy look on her face. "Just try to stay close to me. They don't like outsiders much here. Especially not ones who look to touch the goddess' birds. We've had enough trouble with wild hellions killing the birds already and I don't need them thinking you're going to do the same." Not that he would care, but if he caused trouble, she was the one who had to pay for it and he was the equivalent of taking care of a child from one moment to the next.

    She stayed nearby for the rest of the day, watching but not interfering in whatever he wanted to do to help the bird, then close to sunset, he loped back to her hut. "We're having dinner in my mother's cabin," she announced, "It's good food and you'll like it. The falcon will be fine for a little awhile." Her announcement was ignored and she sighed. "C'mon..." Arames' big boned body refused to move from his mat and she grumbled. "Fine then, be hungry." She had half a mind to let him starve, and yet the other half of her knew she couldn't do that. He'd end up with a basket of food brought to him. Jerk.

    Talia met her mother for dinner in her cabin and when she pulled back the tent flap, she automatically recoiled. It wasn't just her mother waiting for her but her brother and Teylouse. Her lip curled and she paused in the door way staring at them both.

    "Talia, they've only come to talk," her mother said with a firm voice, "You are going to sit down and be civilized."

    If she squeezed her jaw any tighter, she was sure her teeth might crumble to powder. "No."

    "See," Teylouse said, "I'm not the one being unreasonable here. She comes tromping in with a new male after leaving without a word months ago. Do you know your mother thought the enemy killed you? Dragged off your body to be raped and paraded around?"

    "I saw the bird, I went," Talia said working her teeth, "I followed the Goddess' sign. Enjoy dinner."

    Then she turned on her heel and started to leave but her brothers barking voice cut through the cabin. "Sit. Down."

    Talia's hands clenched tightly and she could nearly feel the will of her brother clashing with her own in a turbulent storm. It was a direct order and that couldn't be disobeyed without threat of retribution, so she turned on heels again and plopped down hard on the pillow farthest away from Teylouse and next to her brother. "There."

    "You are going to tell me exactly where you've been and how you found the falcon, then you are going to tell me what it will take to earn the bird back from this stranger. It's clearly attached to him. That is what your debt is after it was your weakness that allowed the enemy into our territories."

    Talia had thought bringing the bird back to breed would have been enough to make up for what happened, but apparently not. Teylouse offered her a cup of water without a word and she sipped it, gathering her thoughts. If she said the truth, it might condemn Arames, if she said anything but the truth eventually they would find out and they would both be dead. She took in a deep, deep gulp of water and thought on what she would say until an idea came to mind. "Me."

    Her brother raised a brow. "You?"

    "That's right," she said swallowing hard, "He wants me. The bird has imprinted on him and if he were to die, it would fly off and never return to the mountain. In exchange for me, he will come in the breeding season with the falcon to make more chicks with the male. Then he will leave again. He doesn't like the forest and he is losing precious blacksmithing time by simply being her. A loss for which he expects to be compensated. His price is me." It was an outright lie, but it played into what half the village thought already and it was less abrasive than the truth. Not to mention it might keep her from being bound to Teylouse. She could help the birds regrow, fix her mistake and then be free to leave, even if the thought was absolutely absurd.

    Teylouse was already starting to balk, his mouth opening and closing like a fish out of water while her brother considered the proposal. "You can't just go with someone else, you already belong to me!"

    Talia's eyes snapped up with a dangerous, cold look gleaming in them. "I belong to no one." Then she turned to her brother, the look fading ever so slightly. "I make this sacrifice as amends for my mistake."

    Her brother played at his beard, tugging on it more out of habit than anything and his brown eyes shifted to Talia. "I will consider this proposal. He is still your ward and you will keep him out of trouble in the mean time."

    Teylouse pounded a fist against the table causing half the food to explode from the bowl and her mother scowled. "Control yourself!" she hissed, "You are in the presence of your chief!"

    A thick, calloused finger was jabbed at Talia as he glared at her. "And in the presence of my wife who has been nothing but blatantly disobedient and a whore too. I demand my own compensation."

    Talia rose to her feet and squared her shoulders, begging for a challenge. "Nothing in the Goddess' code says a woman has to be obedient to a man, or have you and your comrades forgotten that the Goddess bore down to no man."

    Her words struck a cord and the cabin fell silent, all of them staring at her. The look on her brothers face was neutral while her mother seemed to hold a mixture of concern and no small amount of pride. Teylous' face had gone blood red and a vein bulged at his temple. Gnashing with his teeth, he kicked his pillow and stomped from the cabin in a less than warrior like display.

    * * * * * * *

    The rest of the meal passed in relative peace. She stayed silent as her mother fixed the fruit and bread back into the bowls, then tried to recover the spit roasted birds into their pan. She had missed the spices and herbs they used on their meet. It was spicy and salty all at once, giving the bird's skin a crunchy texture on the outside that she simply couldn't help but revel in. When dinner was over, she left the cabin but not without looking to her brother. "He is a reasonable man," she lied, "But I wouldn't cross him. If you take his offer and don't uphold it, he can be very dangerous. I've seen it." Then she left the tent with small satchel of food for the big man probably drooling all over himself while he slept in her cabin.

    On the way through the wood plank paths toward her home, she could hear foot steps following her. Frowning, she pretended not to notice and then made an abrupt turn between the stalls of the market which was long since closed. Sure enough, a figure was following her. Dropping the satchel to a stall counter she drew her sword and challenged the pursuer. "Teylouse, I know it's yo-" Suddenly, a pair of hands grabbed her from behind, grappling for the sword. She yelled and swung off the first set of hands, tossing him to the ground using his own body weight, only to be bound by another. Whoever it was outmatched her in strength as a third man dragged her down, pinning her to the wooden platform. A solid kick to her wrist caused a hard snap and she screamed when the bone broke, dropping the sword. Teylouse was standing over her looking like he was going to kill her or worse. Tears had sprang to her eyes as she was held down and he towered over her.

    "You look like you're bowing to a man now, Talia," he spat.

    * * * * * * * * ** * * * * *

    Talia dragged herself into her cabin. Her wrist hung limply, and she held her ripped tunic up with the other. She'd be one giant bruise by the next day and the wrist was by far the worst injury. Dropping the effort of keeping up her tunic top, she grabbed the water basin and poured some into a cup, then with the same hand she grabbed a satchel of herb from her drawer and dropped in a powdered root. It would prevent any lasting effects from the attack. She even dropped in a little extra to make sure nothing would come of it then drank the whole thing in four solid gulps. When that task was done, she flopped into her hammock and rolled over to sleep. Maybe if she slept long enough things wouldn't seem so bad in the morning. She would still have to face the villagers and that was going to be a difficult task all on its own.
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  19. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    The golden falcon screeched part way through the night and Arames jolted up from the mat he was laying on. Tossing the covers back he pushed the door open to see the golden falcon was simply making noise. She was not under attack and she certainly hadn't been getting flustered enough to hurt herself. Stepping out to the bird he approached her carefully and spoke to her in Quoti. With time he managed to get close enough to stroke her head and comfort her before he went back into the hut. It seemed unlikely that anything would attack her, but it was only natural for a wild animal to startle easily when they were vulnerable.

    A while later the door opened to the hut and Arames opened his eyes only long enough to see that it was Talia. He didn't notice much besides the fact that she was mixing something in a cup before bed. Turning over he went back to sleep. When the morning came he sat up and rubbed his face. It had been a long night and his head felt a little heavy. Sometimes it felt that way if he didn't get enough sleep. His side was sore, but it was healing well. First thing he moved over toward the doorway and pushed the door open again to see that the golden falcon was resting and basking in the sunlight. She would need her rest and so he determined it was best to stay indoors for a little longer. Looking over he noticed that Talia's shirt was torn open and she was showing more than she should.

    Carefully Arames got up from his place and took his extra blanket with. She wouldn't want to think that she'd been exposed. Laying the blanket over her, he studied her face for a moment. It looked like there was some bruising. She hadn't been bruised the day before. Laying out on the side of the bed away from the rest of her he could see that one of her wrists was deformed.

    It didn't take a genius to figure out what had happened. Someone had hurt her badly and they used her. Arames clenched his jaw and he stepped back away from her bed before he stepped over to the fire. He would be making soothing balms for more than just the golden falcon. Sprinkling a few of the spicy herbs into a thick paste, Arames stirred it with his finger. The spice soothed the wounds if they were not open. It would act like a heating and then relax the muscles. Her muscles would need to be relaxed if he was going to help adjust her wrist. Once he had the paste ready he crumbled some herbs into her cup and then pushed the kettle with water in it toward the fire. Soon enough she would have a hot tea.

    Arames stayed close enough that he could watch her, but he didn't want to be so close as to frighten her when she woke. Mostly he trained his eyes on the kettle and waited for the water to begin boiling. At the higher ground it didn't take as long as it did in the dessert. Within a few moments the water was boiling and he used the ladle to serve some of the water into her cup. The Chip gently moved the cup in a circular motion to help agitate the water and get the herbs moving.

    When the girl woke up he set the cup down and he held both his hands out with his palms facing her. "You lay down and rest. I make tea for you and salve. Drink the tea and put the salve on your wrist and other bruises. I will get food."
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  20. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    Talia woke slowly. Painfully. Everything hurt from the top of her head to the tip of her toes and all the bits in between. Groaning, she swallowed and grimaced at the left over taste of bitterness from the herb she had taken last night. That sensation was only coupled with the knowledge that she felt dirty. She had blood matting her in hair a little from where they had ground the back of her head into the wooden planks. She could feel it crusted into her thick hair. Then everything else felt disgusting and stiff. Her arm was the worst of it. It throbbed with every beat of her heart and it was most definitely broken. Last night she had been in too much shock to process the pain of it, but now it was there in full force. The thought of even moving her fingers made her want to cry because it was going to hurt. She'd had broken bones before which wasn't terrible so long as the rest her didn't feel like it had been dropped from a great height.

    This time she felt less than human and she knew the arm was a problem of self defense too. She wouldn't have any hope of fending them off when they came back again. Letting out a shuddering breath, she forced her eyes open and found herself in her hammock, covered by a blanket somehow. Arames was there, surprisingly, and standing over her with a strange look, his palms held up. "Hmm?" the sound was meant to be questioning but it came out more of a groan. What was he doing? Medicine? Food? Before she could really process a question, he was gone out of the door. Her eyes drifted to the cup and salve he had left behind. Her good hand crept out of the blanket and gripped the teacup shakily. Without so much as even sniffing the contents, Talia drank the herby liquid trying to make her brain work properly.

    When the tea was gone, she used the same hand to reach for the salve. It felt strange to remove the blanket. The space beneath the blanket felt safe and warm, but she had to take off the ruined tunic and wash. Staggering to her feet, she pulled off the dirty, stained garment along with what was left of her leggings. The pants were near impossible to remove with one hand and it took far too long than what her patience allowed at the moment. Kicking the ripped pants away angrily, she snatched up the water basin and sponge then began to scrub. She scrubbed every inch until her skin screamed. It still didn't feel like enough as she clawed at her shoulders. Eventually, she gave up and threw the sponge out the window not caring if it hit someone, then she flopped onto the hammock shaking in the cold. Staring at the salve vial for a long moment, she tried to calm herself. It was over and done. Over and done until the next time. Her jaw clenched tight and she fought back tears as she reached for the salve and began to apply it over the now aggravated bruises. It tingled lightly and the sensation was better than the gut-tightened sensation rolling around in her belly. When that was done she wiggled into loose fitting shirt she had originally brought for Arames to wear and then curled back under the blanket. Her eyes were half closed when a large shadow filled the door way until it registered someone was there and she jolted up, causing the hammock to sway. "Oh," she said, realizing it was only Arames. Pulling the blanket higher, she watched him as he came in. "How...is the bird?" It was a good excuse as any to avoid thinking of the night before.

    Arames gathered a few of those strange looking little fruits and he collected some of the soft grass and roots of a few plants. He could make a gentle soup for her and make sure she drank plenty of tea. It would take a few days for some of the injuries to heal and longer for others. When he returned to the hut he checked to see if the golden bird was well and she still appeared to be roosting quite happily where she was. The red falcon was off and flying toward the nesting grounds. Now that he knew where to go the bird seemed to want to continue with the mission. Arames stepped into the hut and he saw Talia sit up. Her eyes were wide and she looked like she was ready for a fight. Her question was pathetic, but he didn't bother stating that it was. "She will heal. Now I will help you." Moving over to the bed he looked at her arm. "You rub oil on your arm to soothe it and I will get some metal and wrap it to make a brace for your arm." They were going to take care of that right away and then he could make sure she ate.

    Arames seemed to think he was in charge and she started to inwardly bristle at the orders, but the thought quelled quickly. He was only trying to help and she happened to know he was good at it. At least the healing part anyways. Her arm really did need to be looked at and she would need help setting it. That was the part she's right in the most and she didn't want anyone else from the village touching her at the moment. Talia didn't argue. Instead, she reached for the vial again, her body aching with the effort and began putting the oil on her puffy, distorted wrist. Every touch sent hellfire into her arm, but she grit her teeth as she put on the oil, making her fingers twitch with the discomfort. "It's done," she mumbled through gritted teeth.

    While Talia took care of herself Arames worked on wrapping a small chunk of metal with some cloth and he added a few herbs in the folds. "The herbs will fight infections with your skin." Sometimes animals would get little infections started if they were wrapped for long and he wanted to make sure it wouldn't happen to her. When he was finished he stepped back over to where she was and he place one large hand above the injury and then he gently grabbed her hand with the other and pulled. The arm extended slightly and he felt the bones slip back together. Ignoring her squeals of pain he quickly set the wrapped pieces of metal on either side of her arm and then wrapped a cloth over the splint and her arm. "You will have less pain by the time I have soup ready for you."

    He didn't give much warning before he walked over to her and took up her broken wrist. "Ungh! Ow!" He had it set fast but she felt the bones slide over each other causing her entire body to tighten against the increased pain. A squeal left her clenched teeth andfinally the two pieces slid together before he began to wrap up the limb with precision. Her breath came in short puffs until she leaned back blinking tears from her eyes. Arames mentioned something about soup. Nodding minutely, she wiped the sweat which had formed on her brow and looked to the man hunched over her heater. "Why are you helping me?" The question spilled out before she could stop it or really think.

    The question from Talia seemed to be a bit obtuse. Arames shrugged. "Because you need help." Once her arm was wrapped he felt the tips of her fingers and bent them slightly to see if she felt any pain. It would likely hurt a little, but it shouldn't be terribly painful. "You can feel with your fingers?" With a nod he stood again and then collected the food he had brought into a pile and he worked on preparing it in silence.

    Her shoulders sagged a little at his reply. He was so strange sometimes. Well, all of the time. Maybe it was his way of repaying her for what happened in the city. He bent one of her fingers and asked if she could feel. Of course she could feel it. It made her entire arm hurt but not as badly as it had been before being set. "I can feel it," she replied. He started working on some sort of food and she laid her head back, hidden under the blanket up to her chin and the broken arm which stayed above. She watched him work in silence for a long moment. His form occasionally blurred when her eyes got watery and she blinked it all away. "I lost the sword," she mumbled. And this time she had felt a distinct sort of guilt. It had been a gift and her responsibility. "I'm sorry."

    While Arames worked on chopping the root and crushing the grass he let Talia think. She would likely be upset after this sort of thing. To his surprise she seemed to be concerned about anything, but herself. Then again it was perhaps just her way of avoiding the fact that she'd been horribly abused. Perhaps she would get lucky and she wouldn't have any children. If she did he would take the child if she didn't want it. "Hmmm...I'm not worried about the sword. It is easy enough to find if someone stole it. I know my work."

    Hedidnt seemed concerned by it and that was relieving but it also made her grow even more concerned. She had nothing to protect them with but her hands and now she was only down to one of those. The familiar panic rose up and she began to shake. "They'll come back eventually," she mumbled thickly, "I just wanted to help the birds. It was my fault." Her bottom lip trembled and she rolled away from Arames curling into herself in an attempt to make her body as a small as she felt.

    "Yes, they will." Arames agreed with her and he watched as she curled up and turned away from him as she spoke about it being her fault. "Its not your fault what others do. They have choices. Maybe you make bad ones, but maybe not." Tossing the mashed grass into the pot Arames dumped a few herbs in with it and began to chop the fruit before he tossed it in with the root. "I don't train for war, but I will protect you. Your people are weak and their bones are not strong."

    Talia closed her eyes not expecting a reply from the man much less an agreement from him. He claimed it wasnt her fault even if it felt like it. The last bit of what he said, somehow made just the faintest of smiles cross her lips, if only for a second. "Well, we can't all be hard headed as you," she replied, though she knew he was serious. Clearing her throat, she rolled back over with great effort and looked at him from her safe little blanket cavern. "Thank you." Her people didnt use the word, really, but it seemed appropriate and she didn't know how else to tell him she recognized him.

    "Huh!" With a huff Arames kept his back turned to her while he worked. Of course she thought he was hard headed. It was the only reason he was alive and he knew it. Nobody could survive if they didn't have a head hard enough to keep going with what they wanted to. However, the tone changed slightly when she thanked him and Arames turned to look at her. His eyes narrowed slightly and he tilted his head. "Why would you say that?"

    He was giving her a strange look as if he were suspicious over something. What had she gone and done now? All she had done was thanked the man. Meeting his gaze through her mop of unkempt hair she replied. "Because you're helping me when you have no obligation to."

    Arames studied her for a moment longer and then snorted, "You'd be the first." Turning back to the soup he leaned a bit closer to it and sniffed to be sure it would be good. It was smelling like it was nearly ready. After a few more minutes he collected her bowl and his and then poured a healthy serving into each of them. "There." Handing her bowl to her he sat down on the floor a little ways from her to eat his soup.

    Talia found herself at a disadvantage when it came to eat soup with any sort of utensil so she picked up the whole bowl and brought it to her lips. It was herby and still had the light taste of apples and the grass swirling around. She'd thrown up her dinner last night when they'd hit her in the stomach, and her ribs were sore, so something easy to digest like this was preferable. As she sipped, she studied Arames. He was the oddest person she had ever met and she still half wondered if he was crazy. Maybe he had been dropped on his head as a baby. She'd had an aunt like that. The poor woman had been dropped from the tree house when a floor gave way. The impact on the forest floor had broken a few things and while those bits healed, she had never been quite right in the head.

    She found herself getting sleepy when the soup was finished and she put the bowl to the side, curling up under the blanket. A constant worry ran in the back of her mind that someone would come into her cabin and do what they wanted with her. She'd fought with every ounce of herself and it hadn't been enough. Not to mention she was supposed to be protecting Arames too. Her eyes shot open when she realized she was drifting off. Arames was still there by the fire and while he said he would protect her, sometimes he did really dumb stuff which nearly got him hurt in the process. Still, she couldn't help it. Slowly but surely her eyes began to close and her head went slack against the blanket.

    Talia was still asleep and didn't stir when a shadow appeared in her cabin doorway. A tall woman in sweeping robes came calling, her thick black hair was shaved on one side and the rest piled on her head then bound by a golden hair pin. Her thin, olive toned fingers pushed aside the woven privacy screen as she entered. "Talia?"
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