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Re: Another Year, Another Dance.

Wed Dec 26, 2018 12:19 pm

The points of her ears swiveled forward in interest. "Before the what? Before the tul--ah, beg pardon, the..." Once tultharian got into her head, she genuinely could not find the word they used for themselves, and had to click her fingers in front of her face before it finally returned. "Before the human king, you mean? How long is that?"

Before the Crossing? Before the Sister-Queens? The very idea thrilled her to the bone. But he couldn't be as old as all that; he must mean his people had been here so long. Where were his people? Where was anyone? Who were the others who came in summer? Had all this been sitting right behind her den this whole while, nigh on four years? Why then had the circle forbade her cross it? What about--?

She suddenly felt starved for answers, wanting to pounce on him and rummage his pockets. But she was meant to be a guest, and she hadn't even been shown through the door yet. They did not know one another, and he, poor thing, had not even a pocket to rummage, no good neighbor she. Plenty of time to let him put on some trousers and the two of them share a civil drink ere she started in plundering.

He opened the door, and she, with a ladylike mien that clashed with her rag-bag winter wraps, dipped her head to step beneath the frame. If her fingers lingered momentarily upon the runes, it was incidental, only long enough to tell if they wished her welcome or meant her ill. She blinked rapidly as her pupils shrank to adjust to firelight, and her gaze slowly traveled around the enclosed space, curious but uncritical. Not finding herself invited in often, it was always interesting to see how other people lived.

At last her slow revolve brought her back around to face him. She studied him as well as he turned to draw the ale. One of the Others. She had seen a few of them but rarely up close. They were a bit of a puzzle, a whole in history. This one was polite enough. Bit mannerly for her tastes but overly mannered was probably better than the alternative, particularly when one had started off on the foot of bold burglary.

When he offered her the bowl, her own manners stumbled briefly: did she take it from him or bend to sip while he held? The second way stirred dark connotations. She didn't feel much like pledging herself to anything tonight.

Instead of fumbling, she held herself in check, pride stepping in to cover the lack. She would do exactly as she would do at home, and if it was wrong, he could correct her, if he cared. Carefully she touched her first two fingers to the liquid at the edge of the bowl, then flicked her wrist. Two little droplets flew away to vanish upon the floor. "Seo don Mháthair."

Only then did she cup both hands under the bowl, lifting it slightly toward him as she met his eyes. "Sláinte mhaith." And sipped.

Re: Another Year, Another Dance.

Wed Dec 26, 2018 3:19 pm

He eyed the woman for quiet moment as she made her own ceremony of this act. It was as if he was judging her. Perhaps weighing on how long to keep her. Or if she'd want some soup. It was hard to tell, as shaded as his eyes were. As it was the corners of his mouth began twitching upwards at the words that tumbled from her lips.

The elf knew a great number of languages, having gained some mastery over some during the long span of his life. This one, however. It twisted at the edges of his mind. Similar to one he had heard far to the east. Was it east? Deep within another set of woods, there upon the edge of a high and cold land. He dredged up the memory. Considered a moment, and would take the cup from her hands.

He considered again, then raised the cup in salute to her and brought it forth. It was not quite his own language, but he liked the tongue when spoken. It reminded him of old friends.
"Ygeía kai megáli diárkeia zoís gia esás." And then to his own lips where he would take a long, bracing pull. Once done, the cup would lower and he would return it to her. Fingers would then grapple with the other, holding it before his chest for a moment.

"I hope I understood you rightly. Your tongue sounds familiar, much like a song from my youth." From his youth, he says. The man looked as if he was firmly in the middle of his third decade of life. No more. His eyes shone with their own light, despite their dull hue. His hair maintained a bright golden tone, with no shades of silver to mar the sheen. "Hm. No matter. To your health."

A smile and the he would step away from her, this newfound companion of his. In the process he would lift the other kylix and dip it into the barrel. A turn to refill her bowl from his, and then dipping it once more. Satisfied, he would move towards a wooden bench that sat before the fire. He intended to check on the soup, and perhaps add a log or two to the blaze.

"Ah. Some time, I would think. To answer your previous question. Some time indeed." Again, how did one put into true words the amount of time he had walked this world? He could hardly believe it, when he thought upon it. It was often better to not answer truthfully, though he had a feeling a false answer would be sussed out quickly by this dark-eyed woman. So, as he often did when such a choice was to be made, he simply told the truth.

"Amasynia was formed... hm. By their reckoning, some seventeen hundred years past. Give or take a decade, of course. We were here before this. I can remember Archenhaud laying claim to his valley." He considered again, taking a sip from his cup and eyeing her over the rim of the bowl. He was gauging her in this.

Re: Another Year, Another Dance.

Wed Dec 26, 2018 5:37 pm

Seventeen hundred years.

She tallied the numbers in her head, counting them backwards, realized when she tried to add them forwards again that the totals didn't match, then promptly gave up. She was terrible with numbers. Tultharian accounted their seasons differently anyway, and even her best guess would be long, long after the Crossing.

"Ah," she replied, nodding matter-of-factly, before she dropped her eyes and lowered her head to sip from the bowl, the better to conceal disappointment. Simple answers did not often fall out of the sky. She was silly to have jumped to a grand conclusion straight from the gate.

The tall woman followed him to the fire, first setting her bowl upon the end of the bench, then lowering herself to the floor, long legs crossed. Leaning forward, she reached for a split stick of wood and passed it to him. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught a gleam of his kneecap shining in the firelight and managed to suppress a smirk. Not very neighborly of her to mock discomfiture she herself had occasioned, though he won full marks for not immediately pulling on his clothes again once he had them. There was something to be said for a man so comfortable in his own skin.

"My people...we quit these lands some time ago. There were always stories that not all had gone from here--that some had chosen to stay, or had been overlooked, or lost. But we always thought that if any still remained, they were all dead and gone, or else they'd bred with the tultharian and must be quite separate from us by now. Then I came Here. Now I know not what to make of it." Her voice was soft, with a rare note of girlish shyness to it. She peeked up at him, with a small smile and a dip of the head as apology for the awkwardness. "And this is all my very roundabout way of saying you might well recognize my language. I would not presume us kin, though there is a small chance we could be cousins somewhere along the path."

Re: Another Year, Another Dance.

Wed Dec 26, 2018 6:35 pm

Truth be told, he had almost forgotten. His previous mate had preferred a more natural approach to life, including a general lack of clothing. She had not left his side that long ago, and sometimes habit stuck.

The length of wood is taken, and first he shifted the pot to glance at the contents. A satisfied nod, then, to himself. Shortly it would be added to the fire. He considered her words for a moment, taking in a slow breath.

"There were others here when first we came, or so my sister did say.
She had a more... aetheric mien. She came before me, before you ask. How to do the numbers... Nn. Five times as long as Amasynia has been a region for the humans. She said that this world was wild and alive in those times. I thought I had missed it all." Another drink of that sweet ale. If his numbers had any right to them, almost ten thousand years before he came to this place.

Another thought, considering her glance.
"To your suggestion that we be cousins though... Hah. Not for lack of trying, but in all these millennia no child of our blood has been birthed upon this world. Between ourselves, or with those we found here. We must go home... and if we go home, we cannot come back." It was said all very matter of factly. He sighed at this, however, before looking down into the kylix.

Then, as if the melancholy was fleeting, he smiled again and looked her in the eye. The brightness was back into his gaze.
"The gods are fickle, hm. Bloodkin would be a fine find. Alas. However, I also found this realm to be a fine and wild land all those millennia ago. And so, here I remain." He grinned wider. "And glad that I have. Now though, about you, hm."

He most certainly had some questions of his own.

Re: Another Year, Another Dance.

Thu Dec 27, 2018 6:51 am

Her head cocked to the side, braid sliding off her shoulder against her cheek. "Why do you stay, then?" Annoyed, she frowned and gathered the wayward hair behind her neck, adding with unconcealed disdain, "I've certainly found nothing here I could not get twice as much and better back home."

Which was not quite fair, and not quite true, but true enough when one had a point to make.

Now she sobered, hunching her shoulders and drawing her drinking-bowl into her hands for a careful sip. It was quite good, better than the watery toothless stuff the tultharian brewed and certainly more refined than her own semi-drinkable attempt at winter beer, sweet without being cloying. Two sips and already there was a comfortable buzz in the back of her head, though that was probably only wishful thinking. She chuckled as she set the bowl before her. "Like this," she said, gesturing downward. "This is the first proper drink I've had in nigh six years. I count the days."

His wistfulness touched her. If it had not been such an urgent point for her, she might have left him alone about it, turned the talk skillfully to more pleasant and inconsequential matters. But this one might understand the urgency. There were few enough she could even mention it to. Even Glenn did not truly seem to understand it. "It's been much the same with us, back home. No children. Well, not none at all, but not near enough. It's come to the point now where we dwindle faster than we increase. But if it's the same here, with your folk..."

And for millennia? Did that word even mean what she thought it did? Then it was everywhere. And had been for a long, long time.

She shook her head, briskly dismissing the thought. "Ach. You invite me into your home and it's gloomy company I am."

Instead she began unwinding the woolen strips from her forearms, tucking them into her cloak's deep pockets before she unfastened the collar of the cloak itself and laid it across her lap. "Do you keep the midwinter rites, then, as we do? Is that what you were about when I found you? I've been keeping them alone."

Re: Another Year, Another Dance.

Thu Dec 27, 2018 10:25 am

"Hah! It is an old, old ritual to our goddess. To bring her gaze back down to the world and help shepard it into the next turn of seasons. The same as many, I would suppose. I find that many hold to similar belief. They just frame it in a different light." His bowl is raised up once again, and brought to his lips. It was a refreshing beverage. She certainly had the right of it.

"You ask why I stay? Step outside and look up at the sky. Breath in the air and hold it deep in your breast. There is still energy here. Enough to sustain a place such as this. How long have you resided here, and not know of it?" To be fair, a lot of the mystique of this place had to do with his mood. If he didn't want it found, then it wouldn't be. It was another reason he rarely left the Sanctuary.

"Were I to return home, surely I would be reunited with old friends and family, and certainly there is... something there as well." Here he set down the mostly empty bowl, then motioned to the air and space around them. "But it is... more stoic. Less wild. Not here, hah. The beer is better, because of it. And the company is certainly interesting."

Of course the reason the beer was so good was because he had spent the time to learn the proper methods. It was a clichè, but the stalwart folk that lived under the mountains were quite adept at the practice of beer making. Still, that was his point. He would never have learned how to make it had he never crossed over.

"Do not consider your company gloomy, Darai. Were you not here, then the solstice would have been kept in silence, hn." He did much prefer this, to the other choice. He spent more than enough time in solitude as it were.

Re: Another Year, Another Dance.

Fri Dec 28, 2018 10:10 am

“I try to keep the fire-nights Here—at least the important ones—but nothing ever happens. Back home I always felt the gods were watching, but here, I feel nothing. I’ve wondered betimes if all the gods go where all the others are and don’t notice me. If I had to pick, I’d rather the gods stay home to look after everyone else, for they need it most, but…”

Her hands were still a little cold, the palms covered with bark, with dirt in their creases from peeling aside branches in the dark. She rubbed them thoughtfully down her thighs to her knees, not looking at him. “I don't feel what you feel. I wish I did. The odd whiff here and there, but never a whole lungful. All I smell are humans and iron.”

No sooner had she said it then her mind nudged Catch? and a lopsided, puppyish smile came over her face. Well, aye, mayhap Catch, but Catch was neither fish nor fowl, and as much comfort as was in his company, she couldn't very well spend every waking moment with the man's head on her knee.

“If you find something here worth staying for, I wish you joy of it.” Picking up her bowl, she gave him a tiny salute with it, before raising it to her lips and finishing off the last.

Re: Another Year, Another Dance.

Fri Dec 28, 2018 5:25 pm

"But at times you would wish they would rest their eyes upon you and let you know that you are in their sight?" He smiled again, then rose to his feet, taking the bowl with him. He paused long enough to finish off the contents, and then sigh with some delight. A glance downwards at the woman and a momentary thought.

"Tonight is an auspicious night for such things. Asking of the gods and being answered that is. If you could ask one thing to soothe your physical ails, what would it be?" He stepped away from the place by the hearth, moving not towards the barrels, but to a separate cabinet. A trio of them, in fact. Which he would stand in front of and consider mightily. After several long seconds of this, he would nod to himself and select the center most of them. A swift motion would open the door, and he would turn again to look at her.

"Reasonable. Wild. Something to remind you of another place." Another consideration made here before the open cabinet, with one hand he would reach in. The other motioned towards the barrels of drink. "Feel free to more of the ale, by the by. Good company always deserves fine lubrication. And you have most certainly been good company."

Re: Another Year, Another Dance.

Sat Dec 29, 2018 12:40 pm

When he rose, she draped her cloak over the end of the bench, slid the empty bowl to the hearthstone, and bounced back to her feet, in part because she disliked feeling short when she was in her common seeming, and also because she had some reason to suspect that question of his: If you could ask one thing...what would it be? Mayhap less suspicious than anticipatory, really. That was the tone she herself used when she was feeling generous and wanted to show off. It was rude for a guest to refuse a host's offer, but there remained the simple fact that she was a woman alone in the house of a man she did not know. Polite caution was the rule of the hour.

"I've had my bit of mischief. I've had good ale, good company, and a warm fire on a night when I had no right to expect any of it. What more could one need?" She returned his gaze with a reassuring grin and a playful flash of the dimple, all while trying very hard not to lean to one side and peek over his shoulder at whatever he might remove from the cabinet.

Re: Another Year, Another Dance.

Sat Dec 29, 2018 3:07 pm

He laughed at this, whilst grabbing something within the cabinet and pulling it forth. Once away from it, she could see that it was full of various knickknacks. An ivory handled brush. A copper broach. Several knives. Several spectacles. A number of various curiosities.

On the lowest level of it, however, was an array of bottles. There was writing above each slot, dates. The bottle he pulled was marked 'AR 182', by the yellowed slip of paper attached to the shelf directly besides it.

He turned, and then presented the bottle to her. It wasn't mulled, but it was a good vintage nonetheless.
"Perhaps that was an unfair question. All the weight of earlier conversion distilled into a moment of nonsense. I had hoped for something I could wittingly respond too."

He laughed some, proffering a wink in her direction. Perhaps, it might have been better had he actually put some pants on. But, things were as they were. "I am told that in this season, gifts are given to friends. I cannot say if we are such, but you did not run away with my clothes or with Drakwald. So, a gift then."

Re: Another Year, Another Dance.

Mon Jan 07, 2019 1:53 pm

The wine was a genuine surprise. Such an oddly tultharian thing to give drink as a gift, yet from him, she was more charmed than skeptical. With the same oddly ladylike air with which she had entered his home, she took the bottle from him, cupping it in both hands like a newborn at a Naming, and bent her head graciously in acknowledgement. "Good neighbor."

Then her head came back, with the same roguish glint in her eye. "Now I feel I am unjustly rewarded for my mischief. I even got caught at it. And I have nothing to offer in return. My pockets are empty. Not as empty as some, for at least I have pockets, but still."

She shifted on her heels, suddenly a bit more sober...and a bit more nervous, in a way she could not rightly explain to herself. It was like a buzzing in the back of her ears, too distant to discern where it was coming from. The bottle in her hands felt as if it were composed of thousands of tiny jagged points of glass, prickling her palms. Could be the drink; she'd nothing but bland tultharian beer for ages and perhaps she was no longer accustomed to it.

The thought oiled through her brain, cold and clean as some foul pike from a river: Or could be he's poisoned you.

Her brown face turned grey as salt. The bottle slid from her suddenly numb fingers and bumped, unbroken, to the floor between her feet.

Re: Another Year, Another Dance.

Wed Jan 09, 2019 5:09 pm

He had spent quite a lot of time among the humans, it wasn't too far beyond the pale to think that some traditions bled into one another. He found the particular act of gift giving to be a bright spot during an often times dour season of the year. And as he made ale and wine himself, giving of something so... Him just seemed to be the proper thing. Besides, it was hard to give away enigmatic words of wisdom as a midwinter gift. He was the wrong sort of elf for that. The wrong sort of elf for a lot of things, really.

But in any case, she has said some words, and Vanidor is casting eyes around for his pants to make some pithy comment in response. There were pockets there, he was certain of it. Well, one anyway, sewn into the seat as a place to hide away so...

Oh, and here she is stiffening some, and her hand loosening up upon the throat of the bottle. It bounced as it hit the floor, thankfully not breaking and spilling it's blood upon the ground. His feet pressed into the wood, bringing him closer to her, eyes narrowing as he looks over her. Vanidor had some skill as a healer, to hear Maggera tell it. It was one of the few magics that actually did cling to his spirit.

Still. He stepped that half-step closer, hand raising up beside her face. The colour of her face had taken upon itself a rather unhealthy pallor. A subtle warmth filtered from outstretched fingers, though he did not draw any closer than he already was. There was concern etched into his timeless face, you could see it at the corner of his eyes, and the way his mouth was set.


Re: Another Year, Another Dance.

Wed Jan 09, 2019 6:36 pm

Like a serpent her face jerked away from the heat of his fingertips, a little hiss escaping through her teeth as if the near-touch pained her.

"Do not touch me," she said, so quick and instinctual that she scarcely realized that she was going to say anything at all--and yet in such a casual tone that it seemed oddly disconnected both from her reaction and the inherent ferocity of the words themselves. Her palms still prickled; she glanced down at them for beads of blood, for glass fibers in her palms. Nothing there. Only the buzzing in her head, now drifting down her throat. The ceiling seemed too low, the fire suddenly too hot. Her stomach revolved in a single slow, thick hitch.

You've never been in your cups off a single drink in your life. Poison it must be, poison. What if he put iron filings in the drink, think of that. That would take a long time, wouldn't it? Plenty of time to have a few regrets while you lingered.

The sick surety of the notion froze her to the spot, even as she tried to argue against it: she still had her glams, she could still speak the common, iron would have stung her lips in an instant, they'd both drunk from the same cask...but there were more poisons than iron in the world, and for all she knew, these ones Here might be immune to it. They were not Tuatha, much as she hoped for it.

She shrank out of reach, head lowered like a young deer aiming his points before a charge, eyes reflecting nothing but firelight. It was hard to discern if she could see anything, much less something so subtle as compassion on concern, through the black-mirror glaze.

Through tight-clenched teeth she managed to spit out, "Did...you...do something to it? Did you? Did you?" The words shook with barely contained fury and a pitiful, desperate need to be reassured, even if the reassurance was itself a lie.

Re: Another Year, Another Dance.

Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:13 pm

"Pardon, Darai. We have had the same drink and the same space. Unless it is the space itself that ails you." He did not quite drop into a fighting pose, but he did ready himself. Even as he moved backwards toward the door that lead to the outside. It would not due to bring ruin to his home, though he strongly hoped it did not come to such a thing. Another sidestep, bare foot sliding along the wooden planks. An adjustment of his stance brought a hand backwards to the wooden latch.

"How much of your blood is akin to Theirs? Half. All? There is no iron here. Nor are there any bells." He was making a guess. A long shot, though the force of her probing questions from earlier brought the true Fae to mind. There was no iron here, that was true. Not even his blade was made from the metal. Even his house was held together with wooden pins and tension. What else then. His mind reeled at what could set off such a thing, but then it could be anything.

Fingers finally found the latch to the door, depressing it and releasing the catch. Even that was not of any sort of iron, though the metal gleamed dully in the lantern light.

"By Aelwydd, I swear no harm upon you, not here in my my House. And if I am false, may Aeden strike me down." This was a strong night for such proclamations, maybe it would forestall any rage that was building. But just in case, as Vanidor was also a practical man... He stepped out into the night.

Re: Another Year, Another Dance.

Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:35 am

She had not spoken the word iron but her head jerked up when he said it, not quite a flinch, as if he had plucked it like a splinter out of her own feverish brain. Her brow crimped in suspicion. Was he reading her? Some folks Here could. It was as endemic to Here as the stinging flies that nibbled the corners of her horse's eyes, a pickpocket's fingers fumbling at her purse strings, or some lout's sticky hand plunking down on her thigh as if laying claim upon it. One could not slap away a hand from one's mind so easily as the rest.

Something was wrong, just as it had been wrong ever since she came back to Myrken, and if she could but figure out what it was and take care of it, it would stop. This time she was sure she had found it. Those other times had been mistaken but this time--

"Theirs, nothing. I've no human blood." Mistaken, she took the question as an insult, answering it with a prideful flick of her braid and an upward tip of her chin. Her ears flicked nervously toward his hand's movement toward the latch. "What are you doing?" she demanded, though to her mind it was perfectly obvious what he was doing: he was locking her in.

The cold snake's voice slithered out of its dark crevice to remark, it'd be a waste to poison you when drugging you would do just as well.

That thought cracked the icy panic that stayed her. Her hand shot out for his wrist to stop him from turning the latch. At that very moment, the latch turned and the door opened--

--and outside of it, Vanidor would be greeted by a black bird. Raven-shaped, though taller and much wider of wing, it blinked grey eyes at him, taking in his lack of attire and his evident status with an oddly gracious lack of concern. "'Am I interruptin' something?"
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