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#977596
Sun 11/08/19 14:39 UTC
Sun 11/08/19 14:39 UTC
Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 5,574
Wolf Offline OP
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Wolf  Offline OP
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The Heartwood
Dawnview Vale
Dawnview Castle
Attaday, the Ninth Day of Horse


Bekkah, Daxia, Keiko, Lyric, Karina, Kisa, and Tomomi

clip... clop... clip... clop... clip... clop...

It was the sound of hooves on the stone path. The road ran west from Dawnview Castle, which was only to be expected. It was the easternmost Keep on the Mainland. Even if Glacier was higher up in the mountains, it was to the northwest. Behind the small group, to the southeast, there were only memories.

Memories of breakfast, memories of partings. Some were shocking and hard; of waking up to find a Rhoni lad having already gone in search of his own. Some were far warmer. Kisa had watched them ride down the path from the Castle gate. Her Mother and the Dayalan Captain had stood behind her. It was an inevitability that Bekkah's suggestion could not have been followed. Kisa didn't have her own bodyguard, and that meant Reena had to stay. And if Reena had to stay, so did Linnel. There were costs to being a Noble. Kisa had escaped that price for far too long, now they had finally come back around demanding to be paid.

That all said, there was the parting between Kisa and her Knight. It started formal, polite, as appropriate between Khorall and a Dayalan. But Daxia could not get three steps down the trail before the young Khorall broke all decorum, suddenly running to throw herself at Daxia. Then there was the kiss. Since the invention of the kiss, there have been five kisses rated the most passionate, the most pure. There was a rumored sixth even more wonderful, but even that one paled and was left far, far behind by a scholar and her most precious warrior.

clip... clop... clip... clop... clip... clop...

Tomomi rode with them. It was a different type of Tomomi. This was not a Mouse just following her Forever Friend. It was not a quiet collector of pigments and snow silk. It was not the young woman who found a quiet joy making lace in the firelight. This was a Mouse that had to see places. She had more than worth, as she silently followed the others up the trails. Today she was not just a Mouse seeking her own worth. She was a Mouse, perhaps the first, who had a Duty.

A duty to the place she wanted to call home.

Once, as she looked to the west, towards the West where Snowgate Keep waited for her, her head tilted. She looked so serious for a long, long set of heartbeats. Then she smiled.

"I think...

"I think...

"I think...

"Just perhaps...

"That there is a very big difference between being just a tool and having something you have chosen to do."

Thus, when she rode, no matter how cold the breeze was, she had her travel cloak hood down. So she could see. So she could see and remember.

clip... clop... clip... clop... clip... clop...

For those who knew the Highgaard roads, the paths that lead to Glacier were even higher, cut into the very side of the mountains. As they rode east, it was familiar, just like the ride to Dawnview Castle. Eventually, however, the path turned north, and then things began to change. It was not only tall rock cliffs that defined the way — rising tall on one side and dropping away harshly on the other — but more and more, sheets of hard white ice. They were entering the Jambles, where the frozen wastes that were the top of the world had broken through and crashed into Dawnview Vale. Those with a more military mindset might compare the advance of the ice like the breaching of a castle wall.

The world was also becoming much, much more bright. The path to Glacier Keep was well-kept and well-crafted. Slipping because of the rock on which they tread was not a problem. Rounding a sudden switchback and being blasted by a harsh, almost blinding glare was significantly more dangerous.

There was another disturbing sight, but this one... this one would have just been another part of the mountain vista to anyone else. Every now and then they would look up and see black, a vein of black rock cascading down the cliff face. It was often spiked and jagged, like a sudden bursting of water that was immediately frozen when wrapped with ice.

Darksteel.

The earth that made up the mountains this high, this far east was, most certainly, not very deep.

clip... clop... clip... clop... clip... clop...

They did not stop at Glacier Keep, but they saw it in the distance. It rose like the prow of a ship over the trail, high above them. It watched over this path much like Snowgate did in the west. As if, perhaps, it too watched over an entrance to Dawnview Vale. It too had the image of a fortress. Anyone with ill intent would have to deal with Glacier before being able to move on. They could not see a path leading to the keep — that they would not find for another two days' travel and then to visit Glacier Keep would have been a move backward and not forward.

clip... clop... clip... clop... clip... clop...

The path did not stop climbing.

Upward and upward, until there were broken walls of ice rising on both sides. There were many crevasses and snowy passages leading off this way and that, but they seemed more random, more chaotic than any route to a destination. Throughout day and night, they would hear loud snappings and rolling thunder, where the temperature difference between light and dark, crag and snow peak would cause a portion of the glacier to shatter and fall. They would also hear the growling of large beasts and spy the occasional pawprint of something bear-ish, but much larger than any forest-bred bear.

The worn path seemed the only safe route. Even when it crossed over a thin-looking snow bridge that arched hundreds of feet above a snowy canyon.

Until finally, finally, they were blasted with light. They had reached the top of the shattered glaciers. Their path was now through hard-packed snow... mostly. Tomomi couldn't help herself. She had never seen so much white, and bounded playfully into the drifts on either side of the trail, only to immediately vanish, swallowed by the white ocean like an armored warrior falling into a deep lake.

There was a horrible heartbeat of silence.

It was followed by a whumf as a totally terrified Mouse appeared on the trail a handful of feet behind them, who then immediately hopped to Keiko and wrapped her arms tightly around her forever friend.

"SQUEAK!"

From then on, explorations beyond the path were forbidden.

Eventually, the Path became marked. Tall poles of wood — worn and dried out and hard as rocks, marked out a way leading east. They had worn pennants tied to them, one very high at the top and one halfway down. They were a faded black, a color that could easily be seen against the white glacier or the pale blue sky. The lower part of the pole was darker to just below the lower flag. It was probably the height of the snow when the season of storms arrived.

Two days later, they were no longer alone.

Ahead, where the path climbed even higher, there was an outcropping of rock. It rose defiantly above the ocean of ice. It had a flat top, too flat to be natural. It was the size of a small village, but no village rested there. It was capped with a structure that was familiar to some. If it were stone, it would be like stone circles scattered across the mainland. Places of ancient magics — important to those who studied the First Age, important to the wandering Rhoni, and vital to Lyric's people. They were the size of a very small but thin and tall house; it would take three people standing on each other's shoulders to reach the top.

Except they were not made of stone.

They were pillars of rune-carved metal.

White metal.

Above them was a similar ironsilver mechanism. It was made of hoops and gear, and it slowly spun in a clockwise manner — from sunrise to sunset.

Clustered around the base of the outcropping was a small settlement. The buildings looked to be made from small rocks stacked like bricks. On the one hand, it was sturdy and definite protection from the bitter cold, but on the other hand, they had a temporary feel to them, as if the glacier might slip and require the shelter to be relocated. The roof appeared to be made of wood rafters with clay shingles. They were probably imported at a great cost.

Other shelters appeared to be carved out of the glacier itself. On the mainland, they could have been the forts made by children during a Highgaard or Dawnview winter. Here they were not child's play.

Night was falling; perhaps, if they pressed hard, they could reach the settlement before it was too dark to walk.

But halfway between them, a single figure stood. Whether it was man or woman could not be told, they were garbed in a far too heavy cloak of fur. The fur had was white, but it had also been dyed in two broad stripes of red. The person leaned on a tall wooden spear, easily twice their height.

And they appeared to be waiting.

#977756
Wed 14/08/19 00:47 UTC
Wed 14/08/19 00:47 UTC
Joined: Jul 2011
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Kel Offline
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Lord Protector, Her Ladyship Verchovai Daxia Yurisdotter
[Daxia serves DAYALA... the GM ESPECIALLY should get this right]

The last time Daxia had left Kisa behind — more than a year ago in Snowgate Pass — she’d tried to hide her tears from Gilly. This time, the Dayalan had a bittersweet smile on her face and even more warmth in her heart.

Of course, knowing the weather and terrain heading up into the Jambles would be even more treacherous than the foothills leading up to Corliss and Snowgate Pass, she made sure everyone had warm clothing — cloaks, hats, mittens, scarves, extra socks. Lyric had been unprepared for the weather coming up to Dawnview Vale. Dazi hoped that her clothing would be better suited for the mountains on this trip.

Knowing what she now knew about her family, it made much more sense now that her father had traveled from the Sapphire Lake region up into the Jambles. He had been a darksteel smith — and Daxia wasn’t sure there were richer veins of darksteel in the Black Mountains. He had come this way to find darksteel and found... Yuri Tashasdotter as well.

The sight of the darksteel veins seemed to unnerve the Rhoni lass — something about the blood of dragons. Well, yes, hadn’t she and Lyric spoken of their experiences at the Keep in the Forest? Not enough of an explanation, however, to explain the wave of sadness that seemed to roll over the young woman at the sight of the dragons’ blood. Perhaps she’d speak of it, if for no other reason than to release a burden from her heart.

And perhaps she wouldn’t. Daxia was beginning to understand that Rhoni kept their own counsel, often not speaking of things closest to their hearts.

Tomomi’s misadventure was a frightening thing even for the Dayalan. Reading about the ice and snow in the Jambles did not prepare one for the sight and sound of ever-present snow and glare-reflecting ice — both of which made sounds that couldn’t be described in scrolls and books.

But the ironsilver... oh, the ironsilver! How many foresisters had cried to create the pillars? How had such large pillars been cast to include the runes? Where were the molds for all the many pieces of the calendar machine?

Somewhat less interesting, but requiring immediate attention, was the person waiting for them.

“Hoi!”

Climbing up here to the Highbeck Jambles had made Daxia very aware of why the Jambles dialect made so much sense. The air was thin and very cold — fewer words were sensible. The journey had been slow enough for them to acclimate, to prevent the sickness that sometimes afflicted people who journeyed this high in the mountains. But the air was still thin and very cold.

“Bekkah...” Daxia gestured toward her sister, then tapped her own chest. “Daxia. Daughters of Yuri Tashasdotter. Here to visit Grandmother Starwatcher. Yah?”

No, it hadn’t made as much sense to talk like her mother once she and Bekkah went to the Temple. She hadn’t wanted to let go of that little bit of Mama that she could keep. The more Kassia chastised her for it, the more she refused to let go. It had taken her weeks to accept that she’d need to speak the way Kassia had always wanted her to, and she’d only done so when she admitted to herself that leading her little group of misfits made sense.

Of course, Darian and Romana still understood her perfectly well even when she strayed from “court speech.”

“Friends Lyric, Keiko, Tomomi travel with us.”


"Everything is bad except unicorns." -- Phoebe
#977781
Wed 14/08/19 13:46 UTC
Wed 14/08/19 13:46 UTC
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 46,895
Nivek Offline
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Bekkah

For all the things in this world that she loved, snow, ice and cold were not among them. Bekkah had always been far more comfortable in nothing but her simple robes. Having to wear furs, a hat and thick gloves were an inconvenience she knew were necessary, but she didn't like it. She kept the warm cloak wrapped tightly around her. At times, you could see nothing but her brilliant blue eyes. Every morning, she still prayed to her Lady.

She was quiet most of the trip, wanting nothing more than to reach their destination. When Dazi stopped and addressed someone ahead, she looked up, not even having noticed the person. She stepped up beside her sister and waited for the person's response.

#977782
Wed 14/08/19 14:41 UTC
Wed 14/08/19 14:41 UTC
Joined: May 2000
Posts: 22,339
Phoenix Prime Offline
One of the Evil GMs
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Lyric, a cold minstrel again

The Fae woman did not like the cold. She was of the Court of Rain, not the Court of Ice. The cold seeped in, invading, intrusive, unrelenting and it stayed inside you. The cold was uncomfortable sometimes painful. And there never seemed enough clothing to add to make much of a difference. And she preferred wearing as little clothing as possible. Oh, how she preferred the warmth of the sun, at lower altitudes. Snow might be pretty and fun for a few moments, but it was water that was closer to ice than it was to rain.

The days that followed after their departure saw Lyric in her true form. There seemed to be no reason to cast the complicated illusions over herself at this point. All of her companions had already seen the Fae woman for how she truly appeared.

The days that followed after their departure saw Lyric quiet and contemplative. To find out that Cesare had decided to leave them was a sad thing and lyric couldn't help but feel her presence was part of the reason, though she didn't know how so. Mikal had left, Pietro had barely arrived and then left, Kadri had died... and Lyric felt the responsibility of that deeply, and now Cesare was gone.

What was she doing on this Quest? What really was her Quest? To find a song to save her people? What did that even mean? And how ever in all of Creation did would she find answers on a scary path, winding ever upwards into the mountains of snow and ice and bitter, cutting winds.

Yeah, the winds... that was how the cold got in. The winds just slashed and pushed and there seemed little respite from them along the winding trail. She was better prepared and her clothing served her very well, and yet she still felt the cold seeping in. Or, maybe she was just imagining it. The bright sunlight reflecting off the snow could be maddening, so bright and yet no heat, and it made your eyes hurt to look at it.

And so she travelled, hood up, tightly bundled, and let her horse follow the lead of the other horses. Her thoughts were her own during the rides, and even the encampments found her to be quiet and reflective. A few songs, even one night playing an instrumental piece she had written a great long time ago, or was it in the days before she was exiled and then Banished. Did that really matter? The passage of time didn't always attract her attention enough for her to recognize it's passing.

The days that followed after the days after their departure brought them to see greater and sharper mountains, but perspective was an illusion here as well. It was only when one found the right vantage point and looked back did a poor minstrel realize how far and how high they really were. That was the perspective that made these sheer and jagged mountains with cliffs and canyons all that much more inspiring and frightening. Mostly frightening. Falling snow and ice, tumbling rock, loss of footing. Oh, Lyric hated the cold. She could not feel her feet as it was, let alone set them bare upon the rock to feel the energy that flowed through them.

She could have ignored the view at any given stretch after she saw it for the first time. Come around a bend and pause an overlook out over a valley, or clear a rise and see the jagged teeth of the mountains stabbing skyward. In that first moment, the awe and wonder is compelling, but the ride continues and the cold never seems to end. That is, until she heard Keiko make a noise. Lyric looked up and then up at what Keiko was seeing. The black veins of Darksteel. The Blood of Dragons, Liquid turned metal, if it could really be called metal, but hardened and held in that icy fissure. So much of it in that jagged crevice. Did the blood create the fissure under pressure, or did it fill the gaps of one that existed? How deep was the Dragon? How much blood had been lost to bring this vein of Darksteel to the surface? Was the Dragon still in pain? Was this blood turned 'magic metal' so very ancient now that all her questions were moot? Was the dragon still alive. STOP! Enough with the questions.

Lyric knew she couldn't answer any of them but it weighed heavily upon her. She remembered that unnerving and deeply emotional discovery. Never had she ever needed to know the nature of Darksteel in all her life before, and never had she even cause to know that Darksteel even existed. But to realize the evil involved in the 'mining' of it from the Kin created as tools to the actual invasive cruelty in extracting it. She remembered how, in desperation, she twisted her own magic to pull the magic out of the Darksteel. She remembered the gore of the blood as it spilled inward at them from behind a door. She remembered the Dwarves and the sacrifice the Pack was willing to make... She remembered the feeling that engulfed her as hot and as thick as the blood itself when she refused to leave them behind. She remembered the magic she used to change the odds in that battle in the evil foundry room. She remembered sweeping through and around the Dwarves like a wraith, revealing why the Fae were so dangerous in battle. A secret shared with the pack, revealing herself to be a creature whose purpose was war, and whose people refused to be used as tools so very long ago... and yet, still so very efficient when it came time to be that very tool again.

She remembered it all. The grief was less, but she remembered it as vividly as ever. She lowered her head, hunched over the saddle. The wind had a harder time getting inside the hood of her new winter coat if she didn't face it head on.

Hours? Days? There were rests and sleeps, but asking a Fae Minstrel to tell you the time is a fool's errand. So, some time later they came to a place where an arcane and technological machine waited. Probably not waiting for them, but it waited. Doing whatever it was it did. Maybe the others understood the function of it from where they stood, but Lyric did not. Still, the 'Standing Stones' appearance of the lower portion of the... the... whatever it actually was... Lyric had no words. She just stared at it. A part of it meant something to her but it was completely alien in its own way. And yet she felt in her heart that it was the answer to some question she didn't know how to ask...


#978119
Sun 18/08/19 15:17 UTC
Sun 18/08/19 15:17 UTC
Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 5,574
Wolf Offline OP
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[b]The Heartwood
Dawnview Vale
Dawnview Castle
Attaday, the Nineteenth Day of Tiger[b]

Bekkah, Daxia, Keiko, Lyric, Nizhentska, and Tomomi

Quote
...the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently. It covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and it says, "Go to sleep, darlings..."

- Jamble Lore, First Age

The ice, the snow, they were not simple things. It was true that it lay over the top of the world like a blanket, but it was far from featureless. It, like the oceans on the other side of the world, had crests and valleys. It was also scored with cracks and crevices, some like rock baked in the sun, some deep enough to swallow shaggies and small villages without a moment's hesitation. The white was not pure. If Montague was a place of many shades of gray, the Jambles were proof there were as many tints to white. And every now and then, rock defiantly pierced the glacier, like islands in a stormy sea.

By now the cold was the norm, a constant companion, another of their group. For Lyric, it bit deeper than the others. Not because she was less prepared — Daxia had seen to counter that — but because it was actual, true, there-to-be-felt-and-reminded-of-every-day cold. It was true she was born into the Court of Rain, and her nemesis should then be the Court of Ice. But it was apparent now that the name was just metaphorical. While those of that Court fancied themselves frosty and their magics often took the form of snow and frozen water, they now seemed like children pretending to be all grown up.

This was real cold. This was true ice. This was more than some Fae reality, this was something actual.

You might spend forever weaving your view of the world but, without walking this eastern path, still not understand the true nature of ice.

In its way, it led to an equally disturbing thought.

Was it the same for the Court of Rain?

Was this why she needed to have walked this path?

Her other observation was more personal... personal in that it was completely focused on their little group. As they approached this settlement, with its white metal circle of tablets, the look that Daxia gave them was hauntingly similar to the same expression those who fought for Forestfolk wore when they passed a Darksteel strike. It was not the same as theirs, but it certainly was kin.

The Highbeck Glacier was not entirely lifeless. It was something Bekkah noticed first. There were the sporadic tracks of snowy creatures. Some were small and spaced very far apart. They were probably from some critter little but fleet of foot. Some were large and more moderately paced, presumably those of the predator that hunted the smaller. But even rarer were the glacier wildflowers. Where the earth did break through the ice, there were often collections of wildflowers, proof that even the simplest of life could find a foothold in the most inhospitable of places. There were two types. One was a pretty flower with white petals and a blue center. The second was taller and wisp-like, with a spray of tiny white blossoms at the top.

For Daxia, it was a good feeling to see how well her preparations had turned out. Without that guidance, this trek would have ended either in retreat or an absolute disaster. That people would actually choose to live out here was proof of folks determination and stubbornness as well as being more than a little daft.

Though the person before them seemed right comfortable. When they got close enough, they were rewarded by a few more hints. Their greeter had red hair, though their build was still hidden beneath the bulk of their furs. Their face was obscured by something very odd. Spectacles; or rather, something very spectacle-like. They were white, possibly carved from bone, but instead of lenses like those worn by Renyard, theirs were close-fitting solid discs with a narrow horizontal slice, like a helm's visor.

Daxia would also notice that the spear had a leather-wrapped grip. But it was in the wrong place. It was too low; as if being used to stab things was a secondary matter. It seemed more like a walking stick, perhaps to check the sturdiness or depth of the snow if one ventured from the path.

"Hoi!"

It was a softish voice that called out to them.

"Yah. Yah. Yah. Akaneshka said expect folks. Did not say kin."

There was a long, purposeful pause and then a very, very dry continuation.

"Surprise."

Turning, their escort motioned to the settlement with her walking spear.

"Come. Come. First-meal come soon."

Her white furs threatened to have their escort just fade into the snowfield. However, the broad red stripes made her easy to follow.

As they walked, the sun sank lower and lower and lower.

"Nizhentska. Me."

As Her light faded, the sky above slipped from azure to black.

"Youngest of Watcher's kin. Get all stupid tasks."

They reached the settlement at the fall of night. Most folks bustled on their own tasks, though most seemed bound for the ironsilver circle on the black rock mesa. It was an odd amount of activity; anywhere else folks would be preparing for sleep. Yet here, at the top of the world, it was more like a sunny village morning. Nizhentska pointed to a set of exquisitely carved stairs leading up to the circle and then to a rather long stone building that boasted several stone chimneys.

"Starwatchers. First-meal. I choose food. See Starwatcher every day."

Above, the reason why this village was different became all too obvious. Yes, there were children here, but it seemed that even the children had their duties. Their task was to run from house to house and shutter each and every window, to make sure each and every door was shut.


And above?

The night sky arched overhead in a canopy of black velvet and diamonds. The cold air was clear, thin, and crisp.

Where did all the ironsilver come from?

That was such an easy question to now answer.

The glacier sky, the sky of a winter's night, held more stars than any of them had ever seen before.

Last edited by Wolf; Sun 18/08/19 21:49 UTC.
#978138
Mon 19/08/19 02:34 UTC
Mon 19/08/19 02:34 UTC
Joined: Jul 2011
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Kel Offline
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Lord Protector, Her Ladyship Verchovai Daxia Yurisdotter
[Daxia serves DAYALA... the GM ESPECIALLY should get this right]

“Same at Temple. Dazi get stupid tasks.” Then she laughed. “Always lessons in stupid tasks! Takes long time to find sometimes.”

The backward, topsy turvy, dusk-is-morning life of the Starwatchers made sense. One couldn’t watch Her children and document their activities while She was outshining them.

The darkness of the Jambles night was not absolute. Even with the moons tucked behind craggy outcroppings, the stars themselves provided light. Not enough to read by, certainly not enough to travel by, but Daxia could see the silhouettes of her companions and the village’s structures.

Oh, dear Goddess, the stars...

“Hoi,” Daxia whispered, awe vibrating in the sound of her voice.

She nudged Bekkah.

“Go. Eat. Be warm. Rest. Take others.

“Dazi climb, see...”

She gestured to the star-filled sky. So many Sisters... For a Dayalan, it was a most profound and holy sight. It almost seemed as though she could reach up and touch them. Yet, the display was one that brought the magnitude of Dayalan losses into stark relief — it was one thing to intellectually know that tens or hundreds or thousands upon thousands of Dayalans had died since Time began, it was another thing entirely to see those numbers arrayed across the night sky.

The past year had strengthened a nightly habit that began the night Morning Star found her — her eyes swung to the Dark Patch and the two stars shining there. She smiled and silently greeted Tashka and Linette.

Then she gazed at the carved stairs for a moment before turning to Morning Star. The unicorn would do whatever he wished. She shrugged and started up the stairs.


"Everything is bad except unicorns." -- Phoebe
#978722
Fri 30/08/19 19:06 UTC
Fri 30/08/19 19:06 UTC
Joined: May 2000
Posts: 22,339
Phoenix Prime Offline
One of the Evil GMs
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Lyric, a Minstrel to Glaciers

She did not know what to expect when this part of the journey began, but if she had to make a list of the possibilities, finding people living in a village at the top of the world would have been on it. This was not a life she could ever imagine for herself, let alone anyone else. She had many questions, not only of herself and her understanding of reality versus metaphor, but also of the purpose of such a people and place when found beyond the reach of rational logic.

Maybe Daxia was headed to the answer to the why of this place, but it appeared as if this was not open for others to follow. Lyric followed where she was directed, towards the food and hopefully some warmth.

But care and caution would have to remain her companions. It had been days since she last cast the illusions magic. Even inside she was certain it would be a wiser course of action to keep herself cowled until she better understood the who and why of the people who endured this ice realm and called it their home.

#978864
Mon 02/09/19 14:35 UTC
Mon 02/09/19 14:35 UTC
Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 5,574
Wolf Offline OP
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The Heartwood
Dawnview Vale
Highbeck Glacier
Attaday, the Eighth Day of Horse


Daxia, Morning Star, and The Starwatcher

The steps that wound their way around the stone mesa, which rose above the settlement like a harsh stony ship becalmed in the sea of ice, had a very long tread and short risers. It was an odd detail, requiring several turns around the outcropping's circumference to finally reach the top.

Thus, it was not hard at all for Morning Star to keep pace with his partner. He was both happy and disgruntled.

...my coat is now all poofy and rough and thick as mud. It is indeed magnificent. But it is magnificently ugly...

Indeed, it was true of their equine companions too. They had responded naturally to the glacier's cold — perhaps yet another hint that Mother Nature was less dead than some folks believed — by a thickening of their undercoat. It was definitely warm... but also rather rough and tumble silly looking.

...and it itches ...

Yet despite his grumbling, even he was made speechless when they crested the last step and reached the circle of stones.

The sun had completely set. Down in the dark settlement below, her companions and their guide were probably sitting down to a hot meal now, able to banish the bitter cold from their bones. Not that Daxia felt the cold, at that moment. The night sky had stolen both her and Morning Star's attention.

The sky was an upside-down bowl of black velvet. It was scattered with uncountable stars, uncounted spirits of her Sisters. And if she, as Morning Star did, turn around in a full circle, it would not be wrong to believe she could see every single star in all the worlds.

Every single one.

EEEP!!!!!

It was a sound that Daxia had never heard Morning Star make. It was perhaps the only thing that could steal his attention from the vision above. All those sisters... all those companions that he and his brothers lived for and gave their lives for. It was so incongruous and completely unexpected.

The black unicorn had just had his nose slobbered on happily by one of his sisters.

It took a blink, one then two and even three, to put the ridiculous scene into context.

They stood beneath a towering ironsilver trilithon. Its surfaces were smooth, carefully polished, and the sky above reflected in brilliant sparkles of white on white as if diamonds had been set into the precious metal. Ahead of them, halfway across the large mesa, was an older looking woman, her attention upward, as if pointedly ignoring what was going on around her. She had a wooden plank cradled under one arm, just large enough to back the book she had open and was scribing notes in. This woman was far enough away to look smaller than expected. This place was that big.

And then there were the other ironsilver tablets.

They were just as grand, and each bore a rune etched on its very center. These, however, were not set into the stone. They floated, just at a person's highest reach. And they moved, each in their own orbit within the greater stone circle. One moved extremely fast and bore a Horse rune. The one with the Forest rune marked a calm and determined pace. Directly opposite this stone, moving at the same pace, was the tablet bearing the Wheel of Chaos. Each element had a stone, and they each had their own speed; something that would have made Romana smile. There was only one that bore two runes, also elemental, those of the elements of Water and Ice. This one seemed to be standing still.

Two tablets appeared to be anomalies. One was of black metal, but it was dull, so it wasn't darksteel. It bore the rune of Death. It was matched by one very hard to see: crystal. It bore the rune of Mastery.

Then there were the unicorns.

There were a few black ones, perhaps three, and they stood clustered around the woman in the center as if reading over her shoulder. And then there were the white ones. They danced all around the orbiting stones as if playing a game of tag. They were impossible to count, as they flickered in and out of existence. They were jumping in and out of the ironsilver tablets, either through the floating ones or between the fixed outer ring.

"Took your time, Starstealer."

Finally, the redhaired woman in the center turned to the Starlord and her partner.

"Remember to bring her? So we can throw her back where she belongs?"

She then turned head and looked upward into the constellations.

"Hush you. What's right is right. And what is not right is not right."

Closing her book, the old woman crossed her arms.

"Bah.

"Why all my family make trouble for me?"

#979127
Sat 07/09/19 12:27 UTC
Sat 07/09/19 12:27 UTC
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Kel Offline
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Lord Protector, Her Ladyship Verchovai Daxia Yurisdotter
[Daxia serves DAYALA... the GM ESPECIALLY should get this right]

Dazi just patted Morning Star’s neck.

Yes, yes. You need a good brushing.

And is the first time you’ve been to the top of the world? Is that why you’ve never told me about this?

When they reached the top of the stairs, she looked around her in wonder. She was grateful for the warmth of her cloak — she could probably stand still for half the night before starting in on all the questions she had.

The tablets were... utterly fascinating. She recognized them; she knew what each of them meant. But in this context? Some seemed to make sense, though Dazi had no idea if her intuitions were anywhere near the reality of their meanings. Some of them were beyond baffling.

And all the unicorns!

The Dayalan Priestess was grinning from ear to ear.

Given your reaction just now to your Sister, perhaps I would believe that you’ve never been here before.

“Dazi busy, busy,” she said to the Stargazer. “Stargazer family big secret until Kisa share last year. Dazi here now.

“Nin, nin! Not steal! Just borrow! Kay busy, busy for now — has important work to do.”

Then she pointed to the Dark Patch.

“Help two new stars. No stealing!”

Daxia Yurisdotter regarded her grandmother quietly for a few moments and finally shrugged.

“Dazi thorn in many sides. Do not mean to upset family. Daprivenya.”


"Everything is bad except unicorns." -- Phoebe
#979189
Sun 08/09/19 19:43 UTC
Sun 08/09/19 19:43 UTC
Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 5,574
Wolf Offline OP
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Wolf  Offline OP
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The Heartwood
Dawnview Vale
Highbeck Glacier
Attaday, the Eighth Day of Horse


Daxia, Morning Star and the Starwatcher

Her big black partner just snorted.

Sisters should learn to be more magnificent.

As Daxia approached the center of the rings, a little more could be discerned. The tablet that was marked with the Forest rune... its pace was stately. It matched the movement of the stars above — such that it would make a full revolution in one day. The black and clear tablets moved at that same speed and were directly opposite each other.

"Bah. Excuse."

She looked at the stars and made her notes.

"Everybody busy."

A few steps closer and another strangeness of this place could be seen.

The stone she walked on was black. The ravages of time and the harsh environment had scattered snow, ice, and stone all around the perimeter. It thinned out the closer one got to the center. One could not stand in the center, of course, because like all places sacred to Dayala, there was a perfectly cylindrical shaft piercing into the depths of this outcropping of land.

Like all Dayalan wells, it had a ring of runes around its circumference. It was very different, however, from the wells across the mainland. They were not on a raised ring of stone, they were flat, carved into the smooth ground.

There was not a single ring but three.

The innermost, equally spaced, held Forest, Horse, and the Wheel of Chaos.

The next ring also held only three runes: Water, Time, and Chance.

The outermost, of course, was marked by Earth, Fire, Ice, Mastery, Air, Death, Man, Mobility, Interaction, the Beast, Plants and last, of course, Darkness.

Like the tablets, they were inlaid with ironsilver, and they too moved, rotating about the well's center, each at their own pace.

"Da. Da. Tashka and Covener.

"Took long enough, but still broke rules. Covener in the sky? Coveners go back to earth, make more Coveners."

But then... then she actually let her gaze soften. It was like a shield going down, and for a moment, it wasn't a Starwatcher that stood before her but a Grandmother.

"Time cares not for Love. When found, even Goddess knows must be cherished.

And then her personal shield was raised once more.

"Borrowed. Stolen. Words. But even Goddess impressed, managed to do without breaking The Clock.

"As for you, Starstealer?"

The Dayalan crone finally turned to face her granddaughter.

"No apologies. Thorn in side. That your job.

"You do well."

She then took a deep breath.

"But real question, ja? Why come poke my side?"

While Daxia considered the Strawatcher’s query, Morning Star simply walked up behind her, so his head could look over her shoulder. Only then did he confirm what Daxia had surmised: that he had never walked among these stones before.

And then he told her why.

Because I am the Magnificent Font of all Knowledge.

Thus I always knew I would not just have a Partner, that I would have the best Partner.

And knowing that it was no longer important if I lived forever or if Krysta had turned her back on me, if I was not marked by the passage of Time or if for me Time stood still.

Meeting you was just a matter of Time.

#979191
Sun 08/09/19 23:05 UTC
Sun 08/09/19 23:05 UTC
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Kel Offline
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Lord Protector, Her Ladyship Verchovai Daxia Yurisdotter
[Daxia serves DAYALA... the GM ESPECIALLY should get this right]

Daxia snorted softly at her companion’s comment.

The white unicorns, your sisters, are silly. It’s hard to be magnificent when one is silly. Let them be who they are, da? You and your brothers are magnificent, and you are the most magnificent.

And you know you scramble my brain when you talk like that — you wandering outside of Time or being unconcerned by Time. Even if it’s just an attitude, it seems painful for this human person who is completely constrained by Time. Clearly, you are exceptionally well-suited to convoluted conversations like this. Hmm. Perhaps you and Lyric ought to converse on the nature of Time, and one’s existence outside of it!

“Da! Everybody busy! Is good. Boredom makes trouble.”

Well, except if one was Dominic Dominie Korie... then even not being bored could result in trouble.

“Tashka and Linette.”

Perhaps it didn’t matter to the Starwatcher that the Covener had a name. It mattered to Daxia. She swore to remember them. Of course, it would be hard to forget the only two stars in the Dark Patch.

“Why come?”

Dazi tore her gaze from the stars, from the mechanisms of the Clock, and looked at the Starwatcher.

“For whole life, think Bekkah and Dazi have no family except Mama and Papa. Then only Bekkah and Dazi for four handful years.

“Then Kisa say, ‘Yuri’s family in Jambles.’ So. Dazi come. Bring Bekkah.” She pointed down the grand staircase toward the village. “Bekkah with friends. Not Dayalan. Bekkah serve Attera. Friends are... huh. Do not serve any gods.”

Then she looked at the tablets and the runes... the well and the stars once again.

“Meet family is not poking.

“Poking is task set by Karina, by Kisa for Dazi. Find... maybe... Starwatch Reaches. Maybe find lost wisdom. Kisa, Dazi scholars. Like to learn. Maybe find...”

And then she shrugged.

“Karina thinks... weapons? Way to fight Imperials who want to take gods away from people.

“Do not mean to poke Starwatcher.

“Please teach simplest lessons of Clock!”

She grinned broadly and restated a sentiment that she had shared with Morning Star many, many times...

“Wish to learn...

“Everything!”


"Everything is bad except unicorns." -- Phoebe
#979507
Sun 15/09/19 17:34 UTC
Sun 15/09/19 17:34 UTC
Joined: Jul 2011
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Wolf Offline OP
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Wolf  Offline OP
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The Heartwood
Dawnview Vale
Highbeck Glacier
Attaday, the Eighth Day of Horse


Daxia, Morning Star and the Starwatcher

"Then it was good to send cousin to meet you."

The Starwtcher paused in her tasks, slowly closing her tome.

"Family. Do you not have family? One stands next to you. One looks from Castle to here each morning. No longer, I suspect, to dutifully watch Her rise but because you stand here. I suspect there is at least one out there who looks to you as part of his family even though you may not know that.

"And look...

"Look up.

"All sisters, friends, companions. We not like Imperials, where serving same god like walking into Hall to do daily chores."

She chuckled then, giving Daxia a very dry look — a look just like any grandmother might, having caught her grandchild doing something not right but still commendable.

"Linette.

"You two brought Coven into our family.

"Troublemaker. Every family needs at least one troublemaker. You and cousin will get along well."

Holding her book to her chest, the Starwatcher slowly shook her head.

"High Priestess doesn't understand. She cannot see past her nose, what right in front. Where to hide something best? Hide in plain sight."

With one hand, the Starwatcher rubbed her chin. She smiled again, a very satisfied smile, at Daxia's first question.

"Clock's simplest lesson."

She then crouched down, placing her hand upon the smooth blackness they stood upon.

"Do you know what this is?

"Do you know what it really, really is?"

Then she paused, looked up, waiting for a heartbeat before pointing to one of the moving tablets.

"There."

It was almost imperceptible — the one marked with the Forest rune shimmered a bit, and then a white unicorn leaped from it, landed, shook herself out and then clip-clopped through one of the stone trilithons to vanish once more.

"Our Lady most certainly is Mother of Time.

"But think now.

"Could she have succeeded if she not have the cooperation of Those-Who-Were-Always-Here?

"Could She change World without cooperation of World?

"Could last forever unless random chance always fell Her way?"

Her eyes locked with Daxia's, as she then let her in on this Ancient secret.

"You are not, we are not, no one ever really alone.

"Time most certainly our Lady's gift.

"But making Time work was conspiracy."

#979690
Fri 20/09/19 02:41 UTC
Fri 20/09/19 02:41 UTC
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Kel Offline
Sower of Insanity
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Lord Protector, Her Ladyship Verchovai Daxia Yurisdotter
[Daxia serves DAYALA... the GM ESPECIALLY should get this right]

Dazi studied her grandmother for a handful of breaths.

“Ha. Kisa say same. Family in heart, maybe not in blood. So. Yah, Morning Star, Kisa, rapscallion scamp brother-friend Dominie, Eastern sister-friend Romana, Hunter, Jvrillian, Squire, even foster mother Kassia! And Wuff sister, Broke! Fae Lyric, Card Reader Keiko, Mouse Tomomi... friends.”

Tilting her head to one side, Daxia considered the odd circumstances of Lyric’s life. The not-so-young minstrel could benefit from feeling like she was part of a family as much as Dazi had. And maybe it would sneak up on her, too... just like it had for the Dayalan. She smiled as she looked up at the sky.

“Yah. Family big... diverse, strange, complicated, Dayalans, not Dayalans. All good.”

And then she looked at her grandmother again, an expression on her face that no one had seen since she was very small.

“Nice, too, meeting cousins and grandmother.”

And it was nice. She’d always felt like there were missing places in her life where her parents had been — places that got smaller and smaller as she got older and expanded her circle of friends. Maybe she would never stop missing Mama and Papa — in fact, she probably wouldn’t — but Krysta’s priestess had assured her that their souls were content. Dazi could fill up her life with good friends to make the pain of missing them decrease.

The Dayalan priestess shrugged then at the Starwatcher’s assessment of Karina. Karina was Karina was Karina, and couldn’t possibly be anyone other than who she was. The High Priestess was concerned with a very small piece of the world — Dawnview Vale.

“Better Dazi be troublemaker than do-nothing person. More interesting, yah? Unicorns like troublemakers.”

Then came time for a lesson.

“This?” she said, crouching beside the Starwatcher. “World and mountain. World less furry with Forest now. Keiko say mountains are sleeping dragons.”

She nodded... that had made as much sense as anything else Dazi had learned in her life.

“So. Always here with World are Dragons, Unicorns. Unicorn sisters make mischief, even more than Dom Dominie. Time, keeping Time going? Good game. No wonder Morning Star’s sisters like it.”

She watched the white unicorn leap out of the Forest run and trot off to... elsewhere. Elsewhen?

“Time not work on World if World not like Time. Sister unicorns like game of Time.”

She tapped the ground in front of her.

“Don’t wake sleeping dragon. More dangerous than bears.”


"Everything is bad except unicorns." -- Phoebe

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