Valor and Discretion

Valor and Discretion

Postby Kestrel » Sat Feb 29, 2020 11:48 am

Niall...

The Lady darted awake with a gasp, ramrod straight in the straw, uncomfortable bedding that was her stark reality in this little town of Myrken. Impatiently, she wiped away the tear that threatened to spill upon her cheek with frustration. She wondered at its source. Her gaze swept across the room and over to the small window in the east corner of her purchased room. She watched silently as the sunlight began to creep in to chase the shadows away.

She frowned and scrubbed at her eyes, trying to recall the nightmare before the daylight chased it away to be forgotten.

Too late.

Too late.


It was gone.

Shrugging as the last wisps of recollection slipped through her too-curious fingertips, The Lady rose to begin her day. Swordplay and sparring at the forest’s edge first, a jog following that, and finally breakfast. Then, a brisk walk along the streets to keep her moving between that and the midday meal. And while she roamed, averting her gaze from inquisitive stares, she pondered solitude and all that it brought with it. She found that she missed the men whom she called family. Better than family; for what use was blood in a harsh world?

She stopped, suddenly, and her brows knit together. Memories of banishment and the forest, huntress and thief suddenly assailed her and she frowned in confusion. It came to her quickly, on flash of lightning - or was it in the space of a flirtatious, playful wink?

Elliot.

Elliot?

Elliot Brown.

Holding tight to the memories that threatened to steal away, half-formed and half-recalled, she took haste back to the gritty little Inn at the heart of the town. She set pen to paper, seal to wax, and pressed gold into palm.

Find Niall, she tasked the sellsword.

The letter was simple, even though the deep, flowing letters were not. Enough to set curiosity upon the cat, or so she hoped.

Dear Niall -
Elliot Brown dreams of you.
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Re: Valor and Discretion

Postby Jirai » Sat Feb 29, 2020 2:03 pm

They all came back to Myrken eventually.

Glenn Burnie, Gloria Wynsee, and others. They tried to leave, to stay away, but eventually, sooner or later, something drew them back. She was no different.

Her return to Myrken some time ago had been a silent affair, not that anyone would expect anything different of the standoffish, taciturn girl who had grown into a standoffish, taciturn woman. She’d avoided the town, had gone out of her way to avoid anyone she had known before, but she couldn’t avoid everyone.

The old man had bred horses all his life. Sometimes he’d even done well at it, generally just in time for some Myrkenish catastrophe to ruin everything he’d worked to build. But he was as stubborn as any Myrkener, and every time he simply picked up the pieces and started over again. The years took their toll, however, and with his children dead or gone there was more work than his hands alone could manage. He’d hired a few people on to help and the scarred woman - to everyone’s surprise, including her own - fit right in. They both preferred the company of the horses to that of other people, and if he had any knowledge of who or what she was, the laconic old man never mentioned it.

That was just fine with Niall.

Unfortunately, others were less discreet. She expected no less. Even with her tattoos carefully hidden, Niall was distinctive and it was inevitable that word would slip out, here and there. Enough so that only a moderate amount of effort on the part of the sellsword would be required to locate the scarred woman and deliver the sealed parchment. She did not open it immediately, and it was as well that she’d waited until she was alone to do so.

So few words. So very few words to hit her so very hard. There was no one to see the look on her scarred face as she read those words, no one to see the way her whole body flinched, one hand curling into a tight fist.

The talon slid across Niall's palm. The pain was like nothing she had felt in years, but what was she save for someone who could weather pain? He was ready for this, had some control over the moment. Even as the pain was there, his hand was as well, pressed against hers...

---

Several days would pass before she rode into town, a few quiet questions enough to direct her to the Inn where the Kestrel was staying. Her curiosity had, indeed, been roused.
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Re: Valor and Discretion

Postby Kestrel » Mon Mar 02, 2020 10:35 am

They all came back to Myrken eventually.

Niall.

Egris.


Though, arguably, the former had more right to be within these city walls than the latter did.

Egris also knew a thing or two about being distinctive. The Kestrel’s red hair did it; unnatural, vibrant, a shock against the grimy monotony threatening to encompass her. Moreover, it was the way that she carried herself; it kept her separate. The highborn Lady carried herself with all the assurance of a woman used to rubbing elbows with aristocrats. Despite the fact that she was far more comfortable among the common people, she would never fit in. They parted in her wake, whispered at her back.

The would-be ruler of Myrken, the woman who saw a leader-shaped void, she who commandeered the grieving Governor to her cause through manipulation and contract; she found that the denizens of Myrken had longer memories than she had anticipated. Of course, it hadn’t helped that she’d arrived with the indomitable Glenn Burnie in tow. Was there still something there? Had the two secretly married in their shared absence? Certainly, the ladies at the tavern couldn’t stop tittering about it behind their hands when they assumed Egris wasn’t listening.

So, when Niall came into town, she was quickly pointed in the right direction.

The Floating Dragon.

Upon entering, she would be directed towards the grounds at the back. Lady Egris could be found there, taking curry comb to the hide of the colossal stallion that was her most devoted traveling companion. He nibbled at the new, tender shoots of grass while she gently nudged him aside to brace one of his hooves on her knee to pick at the mud-caked there. His ears flicked with mild annoyance in Niall’s direction, but that was the only evidence that he had taken note of her presence.

The Lady took heed and cast a brief glance at Niall before returning to her task.

“Niall,” she greeted passively, able to recall the young woman from their meeting years ago.
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Re: Valor and Discretion

Postby Jirai » Mon Mar 02, 2020 1:45 pm

Niall was not one for rumors and whispers. Until she’d received that missive with the Kestrel’s seal she’d had no idea that the noblewoman was in Myrken again. Not that she would have particularly cared. Her previous interaction with the redheaded woman had been brief and her memories of that period were not entirely reliable. It was an understandable side effect of the - in hindsight - idiotic things she had done during the Red and Gold Summer. A bit of wax on a piece of parchment had been enough to draw Niall’s attention though, and in the days between then and now she had asked a few questions and listened a little more to what she might hear.

All of that brought her here, to grounds behind the Floating Dragon. She sat on her gelding, one gloved hand gently on his neck, looking down at the Lady Egris and her stallion for a long moment before finally swinging out of the saddle, landing with a fleeting wince.

“Egris.” There were many things she could say, but no one had ever accused the scarred woman of being loquacious. The Kestrel had sent the message. She’d read it, else she wouldn’t be here.
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Re: Valor and Discretion

Postby Kestrel » Thu Mar 05, 2020 1:53 am

The stallion knickered softly and danced a little when his dark, almost-blackened eyes swept across the yard to note the gelding’s presence, but he settled with a quick pat to his flank. Nothing aggressive from the equine, just curious. She moved forward to loop his lead rope around a handy tree and released him to graze on the unkempt grass. Only then, did she move forward, while the sound of her name on a veritable stranger’s lips hung in the air around them, pinned to the silence.

She wondered, for a moment, if they should venture inside and seek out some refreshments. Niall didn’t seem the type to desire social niceties, however. So, she remained where she was, close but not too close. “Straight down to business, then, I suppose,” she mused. “I had a young man named Elliot Brown visit my dreams. He seemed real enough, and he requested that I bring a message to you. He would like your help, presumably to escape his current fate, but he neglected to give me the manner by which you might do so.” The details were kept sparing about her dream itself; that was a private moment shared and she doubted that it would help in any manner.

Her shoulders lifted carelessly. “I thought it might have just been my imagination, but I wagered that passing the message along couldn’t hurt given that it nagged the back of my mind without relief."

A pause, and then, "Is there anything that I can do to help?”
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Re: Valor and Discretion

Postby Jirai » Thu Mar 12, 2020 1:55 pm

Niall would do anything for Elliot Brown.

It was a simple, immutable fact. Perhaps the Kestrel did not know this, but perhaps she did. Gloria Wynsee knew. Glenn Burnie knew. And the Kestrel knew them. It might have led Niall to be wary, to consider the other woman and her story of dreams with suspicion… but it did not. Because, ultimately, it did not matter whether Egris knew or not. It did not matter if there were ulterior motives at play, because none of that changed the fact.

Niall would do anything for Elliot Brown.

She stood watching the red-headed woman, an arm looped through her horse’s reins. She stood stiffly, still, listening as Egris spoke and for all of her impassive nature it was impossible to hide the impact that those words had upon the scarred woman. Lips pressed together, her free hand curled tightly before she turned aside, stroking the horse’s nose in what was simply an excuse to look away from the Lady Egris for a few moments.

“It was not just your imagination.” She said quietly before looking back. Her next words were slow to come. Finding the right words had never been Niall’s forte and right now each was offered carefully, almost reluctantly. “I tried. For years. But I could not do anything.”

At Egris’ final question, Niall looked directly at the other woman, her gaze intense as she turned it back on the Kestrel.

“I do not know. Can you?”
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Re: Valor and Discretion

Postby Kestrel » Wed Mar 25, 2020 3:22 am

Egris did not know anything about Elliot Brown. Nor did she know much about Niall.

But she could see the subtle tension and the averted eyes that spoke of emotion that the warrior wasn’t particularly comfortable showing. Especially to a veritable stranger.

The Lady did not have anyone she cared for that much. Maybe Peropis, she thought, patting the horse’s flank and neatly sidestepping to avoid the half-hearted kick in her general direction.

The woman lofted a brow when Niall mentioned that she hadn’t been able to do anything for months despite all her efforts. She considered that she had no part in this. She had delivered the message to Niall, which was all that she had vowed to do.

But Niall’s question hung in the air between them. Quiet, but forceful.

Their eyes met and the silence stretched between them. The Lady could sense the moment that she was relenting and her eyes shuttered, a soft sigh easing through her lips.

Finally, she shook her head and frowned, meeting Niall’s gaze once more. “I gave him a favor so unfortunately, he can find me again. I can pass on a message if you’d like.” Though the offer sounded forced and the woman looked unhappy to be granting such a boon. “Unless you have any other, far better, ideas given my limited knowledge of … magic.” The word was spat out like a curse.
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Re: Valor and Discretion

Postby Jirai » Wed Mar 25, 2020 3:08 pm

Niall was no stranger to silence. She could probably count the words she’d spoken in the last month on her fingers, and most of those were probably directed at a horse. So the silence that initially met her question did not bother her at all. She simply waited, perfectly still, not even blinking, watching the other woman as she thought. She watched and she waited, until the Kestrel finally responded.

And then? More silence, as the scarred woman carefully considered the Kestrel’s words and thought about her own. Some people were easier to talk to than others. Some she did not know at all, and that made it easier. Some few she did know enough, and that was sometimes easier too. But Egris… Egris she knew too much and also not enough at all. Her head tilted slightly and she finally spoke, awkward and clearly uncomfortable.

“I dream a little. More than I used to. But…” She shook her head, frowning, though not at the other woman. “Dream-magic. The magic that… took him and did this to him. I have never been able to.” A pause. “Easier, when you can just kill something. But there’s nothing left here to kill. And when she died, the others came back. But not him.” She shook her head again, more sharply. “I am here.” And what more message could she send than that?
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Re: Valor and Discretion

Postby Kestrel » Mon Apr 20, 2020 6:35 am

It was a strange thing, that moment of silence that stretched between them. Both waited for the other to speak and yet… It made her uncomfortable in a way that she was unfamiliar with. This kind of silence was expectant. Quiet expectation that heaped responsibility around her shoulders until she was eager to break its spell. Her throat cleared as she gathered her thoughts and shrugged off the feeling of obligation. “Bit out of my element, I’m afraid.”

She considered the scarred woman as she spoke of dream magic, features carefully schooled into a level of indifference. “Can anyone here do that... kind of magic?,” she finally asked, with hesitation. “Again, not really my forte, I think you’ll find,” she explained with a flash of teeth. Not quite a smile and not quite a grimace. The woman disliked magic. Publically. She preferred steel and military strategy. Magic was… a foreign language. The unknown that lurked in shadow.

“I wonder what it was about him that the magic neglected to bring him back. You know him best, can you think of anything?”
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Re: Valor and Discretion

Postby Jirai » Thu May 21, 2020 3:18 pm

She was not sure what to think about the Kestrel. There were questions lurking just underneath the surface, questions she couldn’t quite put words to. She looked aside, to her horse for a moment, then back.

“It… is… my element. Or should be. But dreams are different.” A pause, a thought, the beginnings of an idea that she did not voice. “I did not know anyone here who could do what she did. But I have been away. I could not stay away though. You came back. With Glenn Burnie.” It was almost a non-sequitur. Almost.

“Maybe it was something about him. He was the first. Or maybe it was something she did. On purpose or no.” How many times had she asked these same questions and come up with the same non-answers? Too many. And nothing had ever changed.
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