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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

    While Talia drifted off and got some rest the Chip carefully cleaned the bowls and kept the soup hot. She would need more when she woke up. Since she broke some bones he was not certain that she would wake very soon. It might be 2 days, maybe 3. Her body would determine the rest she needed. Then again it could be different since she was not Chippequoti. There was no telling how this would affect her body.

    Shortly after she fell asleep Arames took himself outside to check on the falcon and feed her. There were some that eyed him from their own little platforms and he glowered right back. They could stare all they wanted, but he was doing what he could to help this creature. It understood him better than they did. By now the falcon seemed to know that he was there trying to care for it and it didn't protest to his presence. In fact, the great bird nuzzled him and nudged with her head when she didn't think he was paying enough attention to her. Holding a few scraps of meat for her he spoke gently, "You'll fly again. Grow strong." Gradually the animal seemed to settle in and get comfortable again. That was good to see.

    Once the falcon was taken care of Arames looked up to the sky to see the red falcon was still making its rounds to check on him. It was good to know the falcon had not abandoned him here. Arames grabbed the screen over the doorway with one hand and pulled it aside so that he could step into the little hut again. Sitting down near the fire the Chip lifted the edge of his shirt to look at the small wound in his side. Peeling the edge back on the bandage he could see that it was scabbed over and the small stitches were now covered by the scab too. It was hurting a little underneath and it itched, but he knew better. Scratching at this was not a good idea for now. The wound would reopen if he started to pick at it.

    Leaning his head back against the wall on the other side of the hut Arames drifted off to sleep. He woke with a start when the screen over the door was pushed aside and a woman stepped in. She was far from welcome and he scrambled to his feet before he marched right over to stand in front of her. "Get out."
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  2. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    She found herself nose to stomach with the literal wall of a man her daughter had brought home. He took up more than the entire doorway and her eyes traveled up his torso with a hard gaze and her fists clenched at her side. "I am not even in yet," she replied smartly, "I have come to see my daughter and speak with you."

    Arames stared at the woman for a long moment. "Huh...You stay here." Turning his head slightly he looked toward the bed where Talia was laying. He couldn't tell if she was awake, or not, but he didn't want to let just anyone into the little hut. If she was in trouble the last he needed was to let someone in close to her. Stepping back slightly he tapped the bottom of her foot with his hand. "Hey, this woman says she's your mom."

    Talia twitched at the light tap but didn't do anything besides smack her lips a little and curl her legs under the blanket. In the same moment her mother slipped in while Arames had his back turned and dipped in beside him. "By the goddess what happened?" She swooped to Talia's side, her eyes scanning over her and pulling back the blanket. The bruising on her daughters face combined with the specks of blood and the obviously splinted hand. Her expression went from pinched worry to turning on Arames with a vengeance. "Did you do this? Is it not enough that the man she is bound to hits her?"

    The fact that the woman seemed to think it was him was insulting beyond belief. "I didn't do it! One of you're filthy people did it. I came in to find her looking like this and I've been taking care of her." Clenching his jaw he stared at her for a long moment. She was fast and sneaky. He didn't see her come in while he was trying to rouse Talia. "Why don't you leave her alone. Nobody needs to gawk over what happened. I doubt she'd want to see you anyway."

    The woman glared at the foreigner as he spoke, denying that he had any involvement. "I know my daughter and it would have taken more than one man to do something like this. She fights well. Someone your size could perhaps, or more than one, but never a single man." She laid a hand over Talia's forehead, and smoothed down the shock of curls crusted with dried blood. "I'm her mother and that's why. She has chosen such a hard road and this only makes it worse. I don't know how it was she came across you but if you barter for her and I catch you hitting her, I'll kill you myself."

    "I'd never hurt a woman like this!" Arames glowered at her. "It's a horrible thing they did to her and I'd kill the ones responsible if I knew who they were. I'll find out soon enough. They took the sword I made for her." It wouldn't take much to find that out and he maybe couldn't take them on with skill, but they were far more delicate than he was and all it would take is a few well placed hits.

    She recalled the intricate sword on her daughter's hip and her teeth set together in a hard grind causing the muscles in her jaw to work over. A new offer was forming in her mind and she glanced back to her daughter before looking up to Arames. "When the time is right they will die," she told him, her words shaking with anger. "If I kill them now they will assume it was you and you will have to run as will she. She can't do that right now." Her eyes swiveled back to Arames, golden orbs brimming with fury, but less accusatory. "This is not the first time this has happened, but it will be the last. You came for the birds and in exchange the Chief offers you Talia. She will be seperated from her husband and given to you as payment. When the breeding is done take her far from here." That was what she had originally come by to tell her daughter and the stranger who had charmed the birds.

    Looking to Talia he nodded. "Then they will live for now. When it is time I'll take her far away, but she has her choice. I will not force her to stay with me. I never force myself on anything. The falcons comes and goes as it pleases and so will she when I take her far away. I cannot own anything that lives and has a desire of its own.

    A flicker of surprise came across the older woman's face but she quickly recovered and stepped back from her daughter. "Then that is better than she could hope to have here and you're a better man," she said. Her eyes gave a quick scan of the door before turning back to him with a hurried sort of sigh. "Tell no one of the arrangement until it is announced to the village. Her husband will be very angry and I imagine any sort of code or decorum will be long lost in his mind when he is told. He will come for you, and for her. I will bring you both a scythe tonight when everyone is asleep. Keep it with you and by the Goddess don't use it until you have to."

    It sounded like the woman was going to help them and that was fine, but Arames had no idea what this deal was with him taking her as payment. What was she payment for? He would take her away to keep her safe and that was all he was going to do. Watching the woman leave the hut Arames glanced to Talia again and he wondered what sort of barbaric tribe she lived in. They had to be barbaric to let this happen and try to force her to stay with the man that was apparently her husband. Not to mention they were now thinking about making her a form of payment as if he should own her.

    She left with her robes trailing her and a small breeze rustling the cabin door. Through the day Talia tossed and turned but her eyes never opened nor did she say anything. It deep in the night before a small knock echoed outside on the cabin wall and the clink of metal followed along with the rustling of the female falcon tucked outside the door. A long draw string bag made of animals skins had been left at the door containing two long scythes of the Goddess' ore as promised.

    Talia stirred in the darkness before the sun rose up and groaned slightly. Not only had some of the pain returned, but she had slept for a long while in the same position which had caused her to stiffen up. Her golden eyes flashed open as she ran a hand through her crustied hair and puffed out a breath. A big shadow set against the firelight told her Arames was still there but it was hard to tell if he was sleeping or not. She thought about trying to get up but that would involve stirring up her urge to pee and she didn't want to go outside. It was still dark and she would be alone. Instead, she rolled over, trying not to hit her already throbbing hand, and closed her eyes to go back to sleep.

    The sun was up when she woke the second time and the clinking of clay pots told her Arames was awake. He had made more tea from the smell of things and judging by the ridiculous amount of heat pouring from the little stove, he had made himself at home. Swiping at the sweat on her brow, Talia rolled to her side and watched Arames prodding at the fire. "Mmmm...you stayed," she said in genuine surprise, "I wouldn't have blamed you if you left. It's all a bloody mess and it's my fault." She sat up slowly, her aching muscles trembling a little with the effort and she put her bare feet on the floor. There were a few popping joints that sounded off when she stood up and took the few wobbling steps toward the large Chip, her mouth contorting into a grimace when she remembered her sore ribs. "Uhg..." Her good hand came up to brace her stomach slightly as she stooped in hopes of saving herself a little pain. "Am I really free if I go with you?" She had heard bits and pieces of her mother's conversation with the man. Her plan had fell together, even if it cost her pain and her dignity. Even if he had tried to go with it and claimed her as his own, she would have run off and made her own way. As it happened, he didn't do that and it made her curious.
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  3. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    After the woman left Arames stayed in the little hut. He figured it would be dangerous to go out and as big as he'd just been talking he had to admit that he was pretty scared. He wasn't much of a fighter and if he was going to have to fight his way out of this place he was certain that it would not be easy. More than likely he'd end up getting hurt and his ribs were just now recovering from that nasty slice he'd gotten some time ago. Occasionally Arames would poke his head out the door to feed the gold falcon and then he would resume his sitting and waiting.

    As the night drew near the hut started to get colder and Arames put more wood on the fire. When it was at last comfortable he laid near it and fell asleep. Every now and then he'd hear the wind outside, but that wasn't anything of a concern until he heard the bird squawk. Sitting up he listened for a moment and then heard the soft bumping and gentle chime of the blades hanging outside. He didn't want to leave time for them to be discovered by someone else and so Arames only waited a few seconds to get up before he wandered over to the door and reached outside to grab the bag with the swords.

    Arames didn't want the swords to be obvious to anyone if they happened to walk into the little hut and so he slipped them underneath Talia's bed and then went back to sleep. It wasn't until the early morning hours that Arames awoke ad it was again to the bird squawking. She'd grown accustomed to receiving little treats from Arames and she wanted more. After tossing the last of the food to the bird he went inside and began to prepare the last of what he had for Talia too. At some point today he'd have to go get more food and that was a bit of a troubling idea at this point.

    Eventually Talia woke up and she was already trying to wander about. The girl was hunched over, but the obvious pain certainly hadn't stopped her curiosity. Arames blinked a few times before he answered her question, "Yes, you're free if you go with me. I cannot own you."

    She eased down on a mat but did so with a pained grunt, scrunching her eyes against the stabbing in her ribs and the dull throbbing everywhere else. When she finally settled in, she let out a sigh and opened her eyes to study Arames. Why was he such a strange one? "Anyone else would jump at the chance for a slave or servant. Why not you?"

    The tiny lady was understandably confused. Many were by his little philosophies in life, but it didn't do much to change the way he lived. "I don't want one because I don't like what it does." Studying her for a long moment he decided she looked trustworthy enough to hear more. "My mother was stolen away from our tribe during a war and she was used for some time. When she escaped and returned to her agreed she was pregnant. She became no man's woman and I am the son of no man. They all thought they could own her, but in the end nobody wanted her when someone else had their way. It's better to consider someone free than try to own them and leave them with no one in the end. If you allow them freedom and they will stay if they feel safe. Not all the animals I cure feel safe and they go where they belong again. Some feel safer with me and they stay. It is their choice. I don't own any of them."

    Talia listened while Arames spoke and found herself surprised in some ways and not surprised in others. It explained why he lived the way he did, and it wasn't uncommon for a man to use a woman and take her before casting her aside. What did surprise her was that he didn't turn cruel or bitter about his situation. Some how he had stayed gentle. Unpredictable, but gentle. She reached for a tea cup resisting the urge to hiss and plucked up the clay container. "War does that. Some would have us think that we should hate the world for it." Picking up the kettle, she poured herself a shaky cup of tea, splashing herself over. "The birds died because of me." Bringing the cup to her lips she took an unsteady sip and stared at Arames, though her eyes were distant. "A man from the attacking tribe was in the forest hurt and I was told to kill him. He was so young. Younger than me and he had pissed himself from the thought of being hurt and staring down my blade. I didn't kill him. I couldn't. And he lead them to the birds. Murdered my group...and..." Her throat tightened and she couldnt say anything else for a long moment. "They killed the falcons, crushed the eggs..."

    Almost as soon as he finished the girl started to speak. She understood to an extent, but she went further in her little understanding and decided to tell him about the birds. Arames stared at her in silence and then nodded before he turned back to the fire to continue cooking the little bit of stew that was left. He could see why she would not have killed the young boy and now the birds suffered because of it. There was not much that he could think to say and so he chose to say nothing more.

    When he finished heating the stew to a nice hot temperature he served a large bowl full for Talia and handed it to her. He didn't like to think about what happened to her and he didn't really like looking at her either. All the bruises reminded him of what happened and it made him feel angry. Once she had her stew Arames served a bowl for himself and kept his face close to the food so he wouldn't have to look at her.

    "When you're done we need to collect more food. You mother left swords for us and I put them under the bed." Slurping another bite from the ladle he had in his bowl he continued eating. Going outside sounded dangerous, but it had to be done and he couldn't have anyone knowing that he was scared. If they knew it would give away part of what was going on.
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  4. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    Arames didn't reply and that was all the better. They both seemed to have some sort of mutual understanding at this point which was helpful. Now, all she had to do was keep both of them alive long enough to finish breeding season and successfully leave without getting beaten, used or worse. She sipped on the familiar and easy tasting soup in silence and only nodded in agreement about the need for food. In reality, she knew going out when there were many of the villagers on the walkways was safest. Less of a chance someone would try something if it was in full view of the others. Then again Teylouse could prod Arames or herself into a fight and claim self defense if he wanted to. There was always a way to cheat the rules.

    "We will go to the river," she said, "It will make our trek faster and we can get things we need. I can clean up and you...can help catch a fish or two." She felt disgusting from sitting in what they had done to her over night and she hardly had the energy to go to the river, but the thought of a bath was raising her spirits. She would drink more of the prevention tea too while when they came back. "There are big, fat fish that swim up stream and catching them is easy. They make a good meal for a day or two."

    After a long time trying to get up the energy to move, Talia gathered herself and found the weapons tucked neatly under her bed. Using her good hand, she pulled them out of the sack and inspected them. "War scythes. This is the metal I was talking about," she said, holding one out to Arames. "Impossible to break when tempered right. If I can get you the raw ore you could make something to sell that would be worth a years pay." Holding it out to him, she waited until he took it and then picked up a bag of clothes with a sore grunt. Those bruises in her ribs were deep and they made bending or turning an affair, but she would deal. It was facing what was beyond the comfort of her cabin that bothered her more.

    Sure enough, people were staring as they walked along the wooden plank pathways toward the riverside ladder. Women stared in horror and glanced over Arames in fear or general confusion. The men whispered to one another like tree branches swaying against each other in the wind, everyone eager to catch the rumor breeze. She could hear them talking, asking themselves why the chief's sister was limping along and covered in vicious bruises. "You think it was the big man? Or maybe she just bit off more than she could chew. She was never the obedient wife...serves her right...." By the time they reached the ladder, Talia felt sick from a combination of what was being said about her and general pain. Climbing down the riverside proved an near impossible task too. She ached all over and broke out into a cold sweat from the effort of taking each stair slowly and having only one hand to hold on with. The core of her body screamed in protest by the time she sat foot on the soft, grassy river bank and she stood there for a moment trying to catch her breath. "Just...go on down...I'll be there." He seemed reluctant and she didn't know why. The man was twice as big as any of the men in the village and that alone was a deterrent.

    Finally she caught her breath and hobbled along to her bag which she had tossed down before making her decent. She liked the river. The water was cool and clear, full of fish and crayfish. Sure, you had to be careful of snakes, but soft grass grew around the banks and wild flowers too. She found them a nice side pool carved out of the small, tumbling water fall over the years. It was gentle enough there was no current and it was a good place to catch fish. "It's not deep," she told Arames as she started peeling off her boots with a less than gentle kick, "If you wade in there to about your knees and stay still the fish will come to you. Then you grab with both hands." She gave her foot another kick and the second boot went flying toward Arames before falling short at his feet. That was when she noticed he was hesitating again. "What? Just...don't look at me. It's best if we stay together, but I don't want you looking any more than you want to be seeing."
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  5. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    People stared at them on their way across the small village. Arames could almost feel their whispering and murmuring crawl up his spine. It was infuriating to think that some of them thought he would have done this. It was a horrible thing and he didn't think that any man should be considered a man at all if he treated a woman like this. She was tiny and had the mushy bones. Who would think that beating her was acceptable? As badly as he wanted to just pick up and leave right now, they had to be cautious. Coming here was a bad idea and it was all so he could get some of that precious metal. Metal that he hadn't even got the chance to test.

    While he was thinking about the fact that they were in a mess he saw the sword that he'd given to her. Some nasty little man had it and he stared at them as if he wanted to fight. Arames could feel a little hint of rage rising. He wanted to take the sword back. That had been a small work of art that he'd given to Talia and it wasn't for someone to take. The sword belonged to no other than Talia.

    By the time they reached the small stream of water Arames stopped in his tracks. The water wasn't just standing, it was moving and that made it all the more dangerous. Of course the girl didn't seem to have any brains about her and wanted to get into the water rather than bathe with a bucket. What kind of lunacy was this? Did she think that she needed to drown to make her life better? If she drown now she'd never get to be free and she'd just die with her misery. There was always something more to live for. At least that was what his mother told him and she'd told him a few times that he was worth living for. Perhaps that meant that there was something for this Talia. What was worse was that after all this she seemed to think that he should get in the water too. Surely their situation couldn't be that dire.

    "No..." Spluttering the word he stared at her and then reached out with one hand to hold her arm. "Don't get in the water. You could drown. Its moving and that's very dangerous. You have something to live for." Pausing for a moment he finally let his hand drop from her arm. He didn't want her to think that he would hurt her. "We will live because I will fight when it is time to go. The falcon would be sad if we chose to give up."
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2019
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  6. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    When Arames reached out to her and took her wrist in his big brown hand, a little instinct in Talia screamed at her to run. It begged her to move away, and to claw and bite at the touch until it was gone. She didn't have the energy to fight it though. Every bit of her hurt and moving was a feat, much less fighting anyone off. The end result was that she froze like a scared rabbit in fear of its life as her heart pounded loudly against her rib cage. Outwardly, she simply looked angry, her brow furrowed and her jaw tight. All of her muscles were poised to force a run or fight of whatever would happen. Finally, he seemed to realize she didn't want to be touched and the big hand fell away. She pulled her hand close to herself protectively and rubbed at it even if her hand was poking a prominent bruise there. If felt good to rid herself of the touch.

    It was only in that moment she truly processed what he was saying. Something to live for? Drowning? He seemed entirely at a loss and given how she felt it took her a long moment to realize what he was implying. Fight when it is time to go...and the falcon would be sad...

    Some of the initial shock of being touched faded and the corners of her lips quirked into a tentative, but covering smile. "You think I was going to drown myself?" She started to chuckle and then the chuckling turned to out right giggles. "If I wanted to do something like that I would just have you bean me in the head with your hammer or find a place high in the mountains to pitch myself off of. You're not going to get rid of me so easy, blacksmith. Not by a long shot. We still have a bird to breed and some ore for your payment, yeah?"

    It was as fine a speech as any for a woman who wanted to assure her business partner that she was capable of fulfilling the deal. Talia could tell that it was more than that which concerned him, however, or at least the way that it seemed. A business partner wouldn't say the bird would miss her or be so inclined to stop her from offing herself. He would have nothing to lose if she did that. It could be he wanted the ore more than he let on and that was his only interest, but she didn't think so.

    Stepping further towards the water, she motioned for him to follow. "It's not enough to down in unless you're actually trying to accomplish that. Come see the fish." Already they were springing up from the water it wild, flailing attempts to leap over the water fall. Their bodies were covered in pink and silver scales, fat with good meat to sear over a fire with herbs. "It's easy to catch one." She dipped a toe into the water and then slowly eased herself into the pool with a small sigh. Her eyes closed as she enjoyed the cool water washing away any left over smells from the night before. When she opened them, Talia glanced at the hesitant Chip. Her expression was that of relief and for the briefest of moments she nodded. "We will live Arames and sometimes it means we'll have to fight. You won't have to do it alone though. Plus, I think your bird would miss you more than it would me."
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  7. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    Arames held the little woman's gaze steady and his left eyebrow raised some. She was starting to smile at him like a maniac. Was she going to throw herself in anyway? Instead her lips gradually turned up and she started to laugh! Somehow she thought it was funny that he had tried to save her. There wasn't anything funny about this. The Chippequoti simply held his ground and maintained his best stoic expression of disapproval.

    To make it all the worse she seemed to think that he was indicating the bird would mourn her. "No, the falcon would not be sad you were gone. It would be sad I was gone. The falcon is not mine either. He is free to go where he wills, but he is my friend and he likes to go where I go." Still standing back he watched her get into the water. Whether she thought it would take work to drown in this water, or not he wasn't about to find out for himself. There must have been something special in the water, or something special about her race. She sunk in the water, but it didn't wash her away and she seemed to think that he should capture the large flopping bodies of the fish swimming against the current of the stream. This place was strange and backwards. Fish were not known to swim against the current.

    After a few more minutes of observance Arames haltingly put one foot in the water and then cautiously slid the next in. At first he stood just on the edge of the stream and let the water run over his brown boots. He didn't want to take his shoes off, just in case. After a few more seconds he waded into the water up to his ankles. It was cold, miserable and terrifying. Still, Arames moved into the water up to his knees and then stopped. It was all the deeper he would go and he was close enough to the large, flopping fish that he could take a chance at swooping one out of the water.

    Patiently Arames waited for one of the fish to get close enough and he swooped it up with his right hand cupped and tossed the fish onto the bank of the stream. The fish flopped there for a few moments and then seemed to quiet. Arames swooped another one and the third he swooped triumphantly only to hear it make a wet splat as if it hit something that wasn't the bank. Looking up from his wet work in the stream he looked to see where it landed. There was water splashes covering his trousers and shirt, but he felt quite successful with this sort of hunting.
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  8. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    And in a fashion she had grown used to, Arames bluntly told her the bird wouldn't miss her and insisted it would miss him because they were friends. She resisted the urge to chuckle again as the first time had caused her sore ribs to ache along with the rest of her body. She let him figure out the water on his own, but occasionally she would look up to make sure he wasn't actually drowning. From the sound of it, Arames had never gone swimming before, or really been exposed to fishing. When he seemed more comfortable with wading out into the water, she sank back into the cool stream and dunked her head, allowing the water to wash away everything. It was soothing to feel the flow over her sore skin and muscles. Her arm was still bound up, puffy, and altogether broken but even the coolness began to bring down some of the swelling.

    She washing methodically with her one good hand and when it came time to wash her more private places, Talia dipped behind one of the shelf-like rocks to clean herself. She didn't need anyone seeing her like that. When all was done and clean as she could make it given she only had one hand, she emerged from her hiding place and waded out of the stream to find Arames had already captured two fish. A third came flying toward the bank as she walked onto the shore and she side stepped to keep from being hit by the fat fish. Her body protested at moving so quickly and she stumbled into the fish rather than away, it's tail flapping against her chest with a wet thud before sending them both crashing to the bank. "Yow!" The creature knocked the wind out her lungs and she landed on her rear in the grass as it wrestled around wildly. "Arames," she wheezed, "That's... good...enough fish..." Arames was gazing up at the shoreline looking all too pleased with himself and his catch of the day.

    Talia managed to catch her breath and began pulling on the fresh clothing she had brought with her. For the moment, she felt much better even if everything did ache. She showed him how to tie a bit of twine around the glimmering tails of their fish so they could bring them back to her cabin. It was later in the afternoon now and there were more villagers milling about than before. Most of them still stopped and stared at her. She ignored them to a point, but it was hard to ignore it when she spied Teylouse sitting on the corner outside her hut as if he were there to spy or wait until she came out alone. "Let's get inside," Talia swallowed as she pushed aside the curtain.

    It didn't take long to make a fire and show Arames how to de-scale the fish before filleting them in half. "Then you have to pick out the bones." Talia flopped one of the fish in her lap and used a thin knife to pick out each bone down the spine. Already her stomach was growling over the thought of juicy fish with sauce rather. When the fish was done being prepared she helped fry it up over the tiny stove with the Chip's help. "Mmm..." she said, breathing in the scent of the quickly cooking meat. A moment of quiet filled only by the sound of sizzling fell between them and she could hear the platform outside her hut groaning slightly. Was it a breeze? Or Teylouse? Her golden eyes shifted warily to the door as her hand crept over the war scythe sitting by her side. The hut itself creaked and gave a solid shudder, making her jump before she realized it was only the falcon returning from his day of courting females. A breath of relief escaped her and she dropped her head back against her hammock some. "It's only the bird." Pulling her shaking hand away from her scythe, her eyes traveled to Arames who was sitting by the fire and looking hungrily at the fish. "Arames? When we leave, where will we go?"
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  9. Silence

    Silence Anonymous Me Staff Member Benefactor Warden

    He wasn't sure how much she thought he would eat, but Arames figured she had underestimated him and he planned to eat two fish for himself and he needed one more for the golden falcon. She was still healing and she would need a good bit of meat. Fresh meat was far better than what he had been feeding her and by now she would be ready for it. Ignoring the mush headed woman for the moment Arames scooped a final fish out of the water before he waded back toward the edge of the stream. Once he was on ground his boots squished and water oozed from between the seams. He hated how it felt and he wasn't sure that he would be dry enough come morning, but it would have to do.

    On the shore Arames carefully tied his two fish together the way that Talia showed him. He would let her take her two into the little hut and then he would give one fish to the golden falcon. Soon enough she would get strength and she would want to fly. Thankfully she wasn't male. If she were male there would be fighting and the red falcon that roosted on his roof would likely kill the competition. It was the way of the animals and especially when it came to mating and territory. Tossing the fish over one shoulder Arames started the wet, squishy walk back toward the village. There were still people staring at them and he ignored them, but he did take note as they got closer to the hut that a nasty looking fellow was perched near the edge of their hut. Since they were above ground it was tempting to walk over and shove the man off the platform. The only thing that made Arames nervous about it was the fact that the man probably had mushy bones too. If he was killed it would make problems.

    Instead of making a scene Arames simply pretended that the man was not important enough to heed. First he made sure that Talia entered her little hut safely and then he untied the first fish from his set of two and set it front of the golden falcon. The bird gave a grateful sort of squawk and then began to peck at the flesh with a ferocity only matched by her golden eyes. For a few moments Arames watched with content. As he turned he saw the man sitting at the edge of the platform get up and then he saw the sword. The sword that he'd made for Talia. Tomorrow he was going to get that sword no matter what the man said.

    With the third fish Arames was about to step into the hut, but he heard the golden falcon call out and he looked behind himself. She was done with the first fish and eyeing the one in his hand. He could manage to settle with one fish tonight if she was hungry and wanted more. Taking the last fish over to the falcon he set it in front of her and watched from his place on the platform as the man with Talia's sword he made for her walk away.

    Inside the hut Arames watched Talia prepare one fish and he followed her instruction to make his own. As the red meat cooked over the fire a nice film of white fat came to the top and rested there. It meant that it would be a soft, and savory sort of meat. No wonder the bird liked it. Anyone would like a meat that was filled with such nice fat and oils. They were there without needing to soak it in a brine, or other tenderizing sort of mixture. By the time the meat was done cooking Arames stomach had already let out a good rumble, or two. While they cooked he had noticed that the little woman was jumpy. He would have to make sure that she was secure and awake before he left her tomorrow to go get her sword back.

    The two of them finished their meal in relative silence. Arames preferred it that way. He didn't like it when people talked and especially not when they expected him to respond. Back to having silence was comforting. For the time the only sound was that of the meat as he swallowed it. There was a good strong sound that reverberated in his ears with with each swallow. After they were done eating he wiped the cookware off and then settled onto the small mat near the fire. It was too cold in this place to sleep comfortably unless the mat was near the fire. Getting as close as he dare without catching his blanket, or clothing on fire Arames settled in and drifted off to sleep. Throughout the night he would wake when the wind shifted, or it sounded like the falcons were fussing. He was sure that someone was stalking about outside. However, he would take care of all that in the morning.

    With the first glimmer of morning light peeking between the slats of the little hut Arames rose and he nudged Talia gently. "I'm going out for a few minutes." He knew she would fuss if he told her, but he would get that sword. It was a fine piece of workmanship and he hated to see it in the hand of a thief. With no small amount of anger burning in his eyes he stepped out of the hut and began scanning the area for the man with the sword. As soon as he spotted him Arames immediately started down the ladder. With a loud voice he yelled. "Thief! You take what is not yours. You did not pay for the sword at your side, you did not barter for it, and it is not the work of your men in the mountains." A few people turned to look at them and Arames squared his shoulders. He hated talking, but he wanted that sword back. No blacksmith liked to see a fine piece of work stolen.
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  10. aryamajor

    aryamajor Curious Adventurer Benefactor

    Teylouse hardly noticed when he heard angry shouting coming from the platform ladder until something about a sword was mentioned. He turned almost casually, his brown eyes settling on the foreigner. At the sight of the man, it was almost enough to make him want to kill him right there, but he was playing a smarter game now than when his wife first returned with the heathen. "I took what was mine," he said bluntly, "I didn't buy it, but I did trade for it. You have one skinny brat of a female and for the loss of my consort, I get some thing bigger than you." With that, he grabbed his crotch roughly and smirked. "Or isn't that what you wanted?"

    The man was surely the one that hurt Talia and in a way that disgusted Arames. "It is not a trade to beat a woman, take a sword and defile her. You will give back what is mine." Taking step forward he glowered at the tiny man. "You have weak bones and you made a bad choice to steal from me. If I leave the red falcon leaves. I came here to help your people because Talia asked me to. This bird is precious to you and yet you steal from me. I will consider you as dirt until you have returned what is mine."

    Teylouse didn't back down when the big, tan man stepped up. Instead, he closed the gap further and let his anger flare in his eyes. "Those are some serious charges," he growled, "Theft, defilement? Defilement is a pretty low hit accusation. I'm her husband, or I was. That gives me the right to do as I please, but even so, I wouldn't leave the marks on her like you left." The crowd exchanged confused looks. Teylouse smirked and stepped back. "You're not getting this sword back."

    It seemed that this man wanted to make some sort of fight out of this instead of doing the honorable thing. "The charges are accurate. You say that you were her husband and you think that gives you the right to defile her. You condemn yourself. I will have the sword back, or you will pay me for it." Holding out a hand he beckoned with his hand for the sword to be placed in it. "Give it to me."

    "Come take it," Teylouse spat back, this time his real anger showing through, "Or take it to the Chief if you don't have the balls to challenge me for it here. I'm sure he would come to some sort of other arrangement since he's already bartered away his sister to you in exchange for the bird." Another murmur swept through the crowd around them and a few of the soldiers came to back Teylouse, but the women stayed where they were, their faces set into a scowl. he smart men stayed by their women's sides and watched the argument between the two uncertain on how to intervene or if they should.

    Just as he would have at home if he needed to make an argument Arames made his appeal to the crowd. Often times an unreasonable man could be swayed if he saw that his argument was bad. "Now, you see who is violent. I simply ask for what is mine." Arames looked back to Teylouse. "She had no reason to give you the sword. She has her home, I am there, the birds are mating and so it shows you're a thief. I ask you again to return the sword to me. You have already shown all those here that you are violent and it makes you highly suspect as the one to defile her as she is mine. Her beating is from you when you took her sword. Give it back to me."

    Teylouse did not back down. To do so would have shown weakness and an inability to stand his ground. The men behind him didn't either, but it was the women who were edging closer that he made note of more so and they far out numbered him. His eyes shifted briefly to his surroundings before he shook his head. "Fine," he spat, "You don't want to fight me for it, then you take it up with the chief. I'll give it back when he pries it out of my fingers himself, stranger. Run along and go to him, if that's what you want. His hit is at the north end of the plat form." He waved his hand as if dismissing the man, but there was nothing light about his words as he spoke them. A dangerous gleam shone in his eyes at his challenge and it was easy to see he was more than ready to be down right malicious.

    Arames met the man's gaze and he still held his hand out and beckoned for the blade again. "I give you a chance to hide your dishonor. Give me the sword and I will refrain from calling you thief whenever you should cross my path. You're an evil man and I will not let you steal from me and defile my woman simply because you consider it a 'right'." Beckoning with his hand again he stepped in closer. "Give it to me. I would gladly go to the chief with my complaints against you, but I'm giving you a way out."

    Apparently, the foreigner was a coward or he was dense. Maybe both. Teylouse didn't like repeating himself either way and he wasn't a fan of the man's tone. Not to mention he wasn't going to back down when he had taken the sword and had to have the guts to back up his words. "You call me a thief, but it was you who stole a man's wife," Teylouse growled. The more he thought about the audacity of the man before him, the angrier he became until he drew the sword and in one quick, well practiced motion slid the blade over Arames' palm. "That's as close as you'll ever see this sword again," he spat as blood dribbled. About that time some of the women stepped forward and began hissing at Teylouse. A ripe fruit thrown from one woman smacked into the warriors chest with a solid splat. "You dishonor our guest rights," she snapped, "Leave the market now, or on your head it will be Teylouse."

    Even while he held his hand out the man got even more angry. Arames hadn't known she already belonged to another, but he didn't blame her for wanting to leave him. A woman had a right to leave a man like that. At least as far as he was concerned. Suddenly the man drew the sword and slashed it across his palm. Arames hissed a little, but he thrust his hand closer to the warrior. "Give it to me, thief."

    Teylouse spat at Arames' feet as he slopped fruit from his chest and stepped back. "Go to the chief if you want it so badly," he said, "We're done here." He wasn't about to fight some old maids along with the man if he could help it. That wasn't worth his time. "Oh and tell Talia, I'll see her around." With that he waved away Arame's hand and began walking away with a few of his men in tow. The woman who through the fruit come to Arames and held out a hand, offering to look at the wound. "He's always been trouble. Unless you fight him, you'll have to take it to the chief, son."

    There wasn't much of a response from the man, just more spitting. Arames scowled at him and watched as he turned. "Coward. The thief turns his back and threatens my woman instead of me." Once the man was gone some of the women came over to him and told him what to expect. "I'm just a blacksmith. I'm not a warrior. I will go to the chief with my complaints." Arames let one of the women help with his hand and he flexed it slightly after he had it wrapped in a bandage and sighed. "I will go get Talia and we will make our complaints."

    The comment didn't seem to phase Teylouse. it had proven exactly what he wanted. That the strange man was all bark and no bite. The older woman tended to Arames' and shook her head when he mentioned bringing Talia to see her brother. "I'm not sure the woman will want to say who or what happened to her. It happens often this way. A fear of retribution, and not just against ourselves, but for others around us," she explained, "Try if you can, but to do not look for relief from Teylouse. If you have struck a deal with the chief, however, he is bound to honor it."

    "There is no punishment for the thief defiling my woman?" Arames could feel his anger start to rise a little more. If there was no sort of justice he would be forced to fight the man and he didn't want to do that. In the event that he had to he knew he would have to rely on his bones and strength rather than his skill.

    "There is," the woman said carefully, "Talia could say something if she wanted to. But it would bring more trouble on her and you should Teylouse come back with more. She is in no state to fight and I imagine, if she returned with you, she is trying to protect you. If the deal you have with the chief is true and she is yours then you can make the complaint. You did lose some consortium thanks to Teylouse." The woman's eyes were framed by wrinkles but they still held the sharpness of youth despite her age. "If I were to take something to to the chief I would do it quickly before Teylouse had a chance to do anything else. He is cruel and while some men are like him...not all are."

    Arames stepped away from the woman and nodded. "Then I will take Talia with me now." He didn't figure she'd want to, but if they made their complaint now, before the thief told his story first then he would have a chance to make sure the tribe was aware of the thief's cowardice and malicious intent.

    * * * * * * * *

    Talia hardly registered something nudging her arm and a familiar voice saying something. She mustered enough consciousness to nod before puffing out an answer and curling up in her hammock further. She'd been having a nice dream of running through the woods. Her feet were quick and her breath steady as she ran, wind whipping past and trees flashing with white bark. She was on the move, not hunting, but simply running for the thrill of it. Over head, beyond the trees, a falcon was crying with the same excitement. It only made her run all the faster in an attempt to best the bird for fun. Her bare feet met soft grasses and thick leaves rustled behind her until she reached the precipice where the birds built their nests, a mile deep and just as wide, the crag held hundreds of nest with chicks all crying for food. Mother birds swooped here and there, gliding with a grace like no other. She squinted into the sun pouring from the sky as a male falcon passed over and for a singular moment she saw the shadow of something more. A figure with hair red like the rising sun. Talia stepped closer to the edge and held out a hand, intent on flying along with the stranger...her toes hovered over the air....

    The sound of heavy foot falls coming into the room jolted her awake. "Uhn? Huh..." Talia sat up causing her hammock to sway and the world to pitch slightly as her eyes focused on a tan face. "Arames?" Rubbing her face, she sat up further and tried to figure out what he was talking about so early in the morning. There was something about swords...no...her sword. The one that was stolen. He had to go with her to get it back? Make a complaint? A complaint.

    Her stomach turned ot lead and dropped to her toes. "You did what? Arames!" A flash of anger came over her face and she half stumbled over her hammock . "I didn't want to make a complaint! You want me to go on and tell them all about...uhg...I can't. You can't. If Teylous decides he wants to challenge for the sword, you'll be called to fight for it."
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2019
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