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Even though Insae never once looked directly at Alloen, that feeling of being minutely examined with every syllable pronounced was one she knew very well. Whether it was haggling over buying or selling prices, practice bouts, or just simply being a the rare oddity which was a dragonkin, it was practically a requirement to be used to this feeling or face the dire consequences of rash actions.
Alloen pronounced her name correctly the first name, no one had ever mispronounced her name, those still alive, due to its simplicity in both length and letter placing. The people and creatures who had mispronounced her name had done it on purpose while fighting, and they were all rotting bodies and buried skeletons. As to the dragon's tongue comment, Insae could not decide whether Alloen poked fun or was earnest about wanting to hear it. That would be unveiled at a later time, but for now the interrogation would proceed.
Now Insae had not any liking to this interrogation. The day had been free of trouble and she had been looking for a similar evening to end the day. Instead all this bullshit had popped out of the forest. But if she wanted to live, she'd have to continue being an actress in this farce.
Insae could hear the disapproving tone in Alloen's voice concerning her [i 'behemoth of a blade'], the fact that dwarves would commend her mattered not. Yes the blade was long, wide, but it had a keen and sharp edge along with a sturdy and unyielding pommel backed up by a fighter who had the know-how and strength to use it effectively. Insae knew not to kid herself when it came to elven blades. Simple, light in weight and small in size, an edge with an unparalleled sharpness, all backed up by fighters who had many more years of fighting experience. Insae knew she'd lost every single one-on-one fight with an elf, as one old elf she'd encountered had shown her in the course of 10 practice bouts.
To be honest, Insae herself questioned these farmers as well. The doubt had always been there ever since they had approached to hire her. Normally people would pay up front, but these farmers made promises to pay her once they reached Dorfeen. Usually she wouldn't do such contracts, but these farmers did know about her enough to understand that braking a promise with her would lead to some very undesirable consequences, they had even stated as such after her initial refusal.
Insae let some doubt creep into lips, a slight dip on the left half of her lips, and eyes as they focused on the fire. Shaking her head slightly with a deep sigh, [+purple "Even I've had doubts about them. They did not pay me up front and instead promised to pay me once all of us reached Dorfeen. I refused them initially, but they knew about my reputation as a helpful sell sword and they seemed to understand what I'd to them if they did not pay me"]. Insae coughed a few times, a dried out throat not helping to talk at all. [+purple "It feels like they are part of some farmers conglomerate. But...…. but that can't seem to explain why they'd go alone.. Too pogaan voknownne] [size10 *1].
Insae abruptly stopped speaking, only now understanding the void she had uncovered.
*1 - Too many unknowns
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat She was cool, calm and collected, handling the knowledge of his power and title with no concern. She may have dragons blood but it was ice that ran through her veins it seemed. Watching her intently his bright eyes watched as she spoke her name and offered up a very brief history of her life to this moment. Not leaving silence to linger long his fingers rapped upon the arm of his seat.[+firebrick “Insae.”] He mimicked her pronunciation and the syllables roll from his tongue, head tilted a touch to the side as he regarded her and the name she spoke. It did not sound of any race he knew, so he assumed it to be from her draconic heritage.[+firebrick “Beautiful. Dragon’s tongue is such a fascinating language. I would like to hear it more one day.”] Perhaps another time, when she was less mysterious and had served all use to him. For now he had to keep focus.
The cup in his hand was brought to wet his tongue once more before he brought his hands to his lap, fingers interlinking together.[+firebrick “So you are a sell sword and blacksmith in one? I will assume you were the one to forge that behemoth of a blade we took from you. I’m sure the dwarves would commend you for working such material into a working piece.”] It was clear he disliked the sword in drawing comparisons with the little folk’s weaponry. It was crude, large and heavy and it showed the wear of use. No doubt it would be cumbersome to wield. A mirror opposite of an elven blade.
[+firebrick “Though such a weapon, and such an [i 'alluring'] woman as yourself, heading north with some hostile peasant farmers is what has me stumped.”] He remained sat back in his seat, his voice rather than his body language conveying all his interest in her.[+firebrick “You said you were heading for Dorfeen with food. That is normal as it is a path many take with their goods. But they often form large caravans for safety as they cannot afford hired blades. So what begs the question is; what makes you so special dear?”] In his dismissive tone it came across a little disparaging on her character to ask why anyone could possibly find her skills useful.[+firebrick “Indulge me here Insae,”] again her name is spoken perfectly and with respect,[+firebrick “how much were these peasant farmers able to pay you?”]
Gone with the wind. The feeling of annoyance crept in with having her words falling on arrogantly deaf ears about such a serious matter as a hidden knife. No matter whether she was or was not, she was, trying to make fun of the leader of this 'hunting' expedition.
All she could do was follow the lead of the elves as they led themselves and her around the tree. It did take awhile to navigate the circumference of the tree as it was thick, but not thick enough to be 'dummy thic'. All the while intrigued bystanders, though curious, hastily stepped back to let everyone pass through; even they were afraid of the guards' capabilities.
Eventually, they came up to quite a big house. For sure had to be at least three times bigger than the huts they had left behind. A staircase connected the ground to the porch of this grand building, and even from here Insae could see the intricate designs laid upon the building.
And of course every little thing had to be cleaned to a very impeccable state. Not a single blemish or unpolished spot on the metal, not a single microscopical drop of dust, not a single scuff mark, and even the wooden boards squeaked of clean as they stepped all over it.
Standing in between the two fires after the guards left, Inase could see two figures. One was the arrogant prick from really earlier ago, and the other she saw for the first time. Similar looking to the arrogant prick who sat on the grand oak chair, the chair appearing more to have been naturally grown instead of carved and moved, except the hair had a very noticeable length advantage.
So the two were related, but that didn't really mean anything. I mean, there was nothing wrong or right really in having this arrogant prick talking with his uncle. Family was after all family, unless your family either was dead, disappeared, or both as was with Insae.
THat comment about her ability to speak elvish, he wasn't being rude or arrogant about it. Insae knew that her elvish sounded like if she'd be listening to the guttural noises of orkish. As long as he understood everything she said or tried to say in the common tongue then there wouldn't be much of a problem.
Either he was bluffing about knowing the knife, or he truly did know about the knife in her bag. Either way, the whole 'demeaning search' thing just sounded like a ton of bullshit. The act of searching the entirety of a person for any weapon did have a purpose and that was to disarm so nothing unexpected would happen later. Unless the elf felt comfortable with her keeping her knife, which he probably did because he'd probably kill her before she could even unsheathe her knife.
Insae preferred life over death, so she wouldn't be doing something that stupid.
A prince eh? No wonder he acted with such arrogance. Elves by themselves were already arrogantly annoying as fuck, but the royals were even more so. Something about being high and haughty just made them shake their leafy tail-feathers in excitement. Unfortunately, that meant she'd be dealing with one right now.
Even though she was part dragon, Insae didn't breath fire, or anything else for that matter, in reality. Yes, reality was often disappointing, but not like she'd say that to the arrogant Alloen. But in way he was right, she was a blacksmith, not as good as the elves or even dwarves but still good, which meant she was a fire-tamer.
Insae breathed in letting the air peruse her mouth, nose, and lungs, before shooing it away with the beginnings of her answer. [+purple "In a way, I am no one"], staring upwards and into space as she rolled her tongue on the bottom left teeth inside her mouth, [+purple "I have a name, and only one name. My name is Insae, the name which my mother bore"]. He didn't need to know which one was the human and which the dragon, all he needed to know was that a dragonkin had a human and a dragon as parents. [+purple "I am a dragonkin. I come from a village which now exists only as a smoldering village."] Insae shrugged her shoulders, the elf probably though nothing really of all this except that what she said was boring. [+purple "I hire myself out, a mercenary basically, and I do know how to run a smithy."]
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat As the dragonkin girl was brought forward, she was guided around the central hub tree, skirting around its thick roots that protruded from the ground at times. As they circled about it, a few more of the curious elven villagers stepped out to stare intrigued by the sight of such a being and children were quickly pulled close to their mother’s side lest they dart off to get a closer look. They were respectful not to get in the way and parted without issue before the soldiers in their emerald cloaks. This is how the procession continued until they came upon the ‘Masters Home’.
The building was easily the size of four or five of the huts she had seen on entering. It looked to be two floors though it did sit on thick, rich mahogany stilts, about five or six feet up. A central staircase rose up to porch, the handrails particularly intricate and etched with very fine details that were touched with deep moss greens and gold that highlighted complex shapes like bow wielding elves, prancing deer and flowers in bloom. Taking the woman up this way the doors were already open and she was led into the grand hall. From here she would see it was only one floor with a vaulted ceiling held aloft by pillars of wood that were decorated similarly to the stairs. Everything was so exquisite and impeccably clean too, the floorboards creaking under the boots of those who entered.
The guards took Insae as far as the middle of the room before leaving, two large fires on both sides of her illuminating the room in a golden hue. On adjusting to the new light she would find the same arrogant elf as before sat before her in a grand oak chair that was partially carved. Pieces of it were still wild, as if it had grown into that shape, and in truth it had been carefully nurtured to make a beautiful design. Nothing was done without purpose it seemed. He sat there with his same subtle smile though he had shed the emerald cloak and now sat in a red tunic edged in silver. His hair had been brushed back a little and in a hand he held a metallic chalice, likely silver. An older gentleman stood at his side, hands folder behind his back, hair dark like the seated man but much longer. As Insae spoke however, his head tilted to the side a touch and he watched her silently in judgement.
[+firebrick “Thank cin uncle an iuithi- -o cín thamb but im will ceri- hi govanneth eriol.”][size10 1] He spoke confidently as he watched the girl before him. The elder elf inclined his head and stepped aside to a door not far behind where the chair sat, moving through and closing it quietly behind. For a time the remaining elf sat enjoying the crackling of the fires and a sip now and again from his cup. There was no need to hurry this along, yet he was a touch too excited to not speak.[+firebrick “We will speak in common as your elven could do with some work.”] It was passable, and he understood her, but he felt like he was listening to an Orc speaking dwarvish and that would not do. At least common, though basic and dull, would not hurt his slender ears.
[+firebrick “I knew about the knife dear, do not congratulate yourself too soon. If it is not in the boot it is in the waistband. But with that long tail of yours, and that little figure, I did not wish to demean you too much by searching deeper.”] The smile only grew as he raised the cup a touch mockingly to her, taking a long sip and licking his lips of the residue.[+firebrick “Though keep the smile, it is rather sweet to see on you.”] He sat straight-backed in the seat, resting the cup down on the arm of the chair as he looked forward and down on her – it sat on a platform after all. Allowing himself to lord it over her a little longer he finally decided to begin their talk properly.[+firebrick “I am Alloen Blacksong, Crown Prince of Fostinhen, Protector of the Western Elves and Heir to the Realm of Feanor.”] He had said those words a thousand times and it still sounded rather nice. Leaning forward in his seat he raised the cup towards Insae,[+firebrick “And who are you, my little tamer of dragons fire?”]
1 - Thank you Uncle for use of your hall but I will conduct this interview alone.
Now before this ragtag group stepped off, the leader first prioritized in making sure that his orders concerning the cart and dead bodies would be carried out. The stop did not last even a single moment for the leader know his subordinates well and therefore knew that they'd carry out his tasks well done and in a timely manner.
Now the procession had a amusing, circus look to it. A rider upon a magnificent elk with two columns of eight riders upon lovely white horses, the main attraction of this travelling circus. As to the other half whose task it was to bring smiles with laughter, another rider upon just as a magnificent white horse as the others with a rope which wrapped around an odd looking female and two male farmers. But all this did not take into consideration of the weapons on the elves, their armed to the teeth look would quickly convince anyone that this was no travelling circus, but elves escorting prisoners.
For Insae, the pace of a light jog even when tied to two bumbling farmers was an easy thing. For one who'd accustomed to trudging many miles per day with a heavy pack in addition to the sword and armor, jogging in armor was a literal jog through the park. As to the farmers' complaints and pleas, Insae did wish for them to shut up, hadn't they already realized the total uselessness of both of those actions when dealing with arrogant elves? At least the fading view of the world as it slowly let itself be swallowed by darkness and the chill air rushing in and out of her lungs served as a most useful distraction from the farmers' laments.
Upon entering a forest the pace was eased somewhat. No doubt the elves dare not risk breaking the legs of their precious horses and singular elk nor their own necks resulting in such a tumble. They would not have given a single damn in any of their prisoners had stumbled resulting in a twisting of a little digit on one foot or the breaking of an entire foot.
Insae's curiosity rose sharply at the sight of abundance and variety of creatures that had appeared the instance of entering the forest. If this had been a hunt, no better place to hunt than here could have appeared from thin air. Any hunter would delight in the number of creatures they'd be able to kill, as well as the variety of different game meats they'd be able to bring back to either save or sell. No doubt any such hunter would be killed before they even had a chance to draw their bow or spear, but at least their final thought before death would be a happy one before feeling a sharp feeling of pain followed by a warm, red stream of blood leaking from the penetrating hit of an elven arrow.
Insae's curiosity would have vanished as fast as it had came if it weren't for her observations of the creatures' actions. Usually any of these creatures would bolt away from anything bigger than themselves in the blink of an eye, but the usual, at least for Insae, was not what she could see with her own eyes. Upon the sides of this strange groups the creatures sat or lay and watched what was for them a curious looking group pass by them. No doubt the elves they were accustomed to seeing, but a dragonkin and two humans accustomed they were not. And as it concerned the creatures in the front, they ran as if they knew what to expect. Without a doubt there existed a relationship between the forest creatures and the elves, the creatures offered services to the elves in return for services from the elves.
Such a curiousity this was to Insae that she missed the entrance into what appeared to be a courtyard through a set of gates imbedded in a hard, wooden palisade. No doubt even if the curiousity of the coexisting creatures had been nonexistent, Insae wouldn't have noticed the well made camouflage. The only way to notice such a well hidden wall would've been to run into it nose first.
The curiosity of the creatures had now been replaced by the curiosity of the elven inhabitants who called this place their home. From the youngest to the oldest, all had gathered just outside their huts to see what had been brought in from the outside. No doubt the humans had a boring appeal to them, they weere plenty and easily encountered in the world. But Insae, no regular human. One didn't really run into dragonkin, one had to really scrounge for one in the land; Insae had been the exception, but exceptions happened and sometimes they happened for exception reasons.
After some waiting around, something or something was being waited upon, a rider returned to converse with the leader. So the humans were being sent to prison, while she herself to the master's home? If she had been human, she'd probably end up side-by-side with the two farmers in some dark, dank, musky scented cell. But because of her being dragonkin, someone here was obviously interested in her, aside from the leader of this cavalcade, and wanted to see the curiosity which was a dragonkin.
Insae still had the dagger on her back, quite a sharp problem if discovered still upon her. The best option, telling the leader of the knife when he had initially searched her, had already passed and gone, what was in the past stayed in the past. The next best option, would be to tell them now before being accused of some stupid assassination attempt. But that didn't mean Insae would allow for an opportunity to make of the leader simply pass by.
[+purple "Ni am somewhat surprised, even as ilya your diligence, i tye failed ana men i sicil."] [size10 *1] Even though Inase kept a stony expression, such that a stonemason would delight to use as a model, Insae allowed a smirk to creep onto her face.
*1 - I am somewhat surprised, even with all your diligence, that you failed to spot the knife.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat It was nice to see some reaction from the young woman. It may have only been the raising of an eyebrow or her lips pulling taut as she fought a building sneer, but he took the reaction for what it was and he would silently commend her drive in maintaining her silence. Often people had one of two reactions to this situation and the three surviving members were showcasing that. The humans muttered their prayers and offered their pleas to be allowed free, to travel on with their goods. They were 'simple and honest folk'. And the dragonkin, she was stoic, she was quiet and resigned to accept what was going on now for silence brought with it her best chance of living.
Back in his saddle he looked past the young girl before him and observed seven of the bowmen from around him dismounting to do as he had ordered, Alysha directing them to their roles and getting on with the task at hand. He tugged at the reins and turned his mount away, pushing it to climb back up and over the ridge to the lake. The rope that tethered Insae to her farmer employers was taken up by a lone rider who tugged it sharply to get them moving. Once they had cleared the ridge line the elves took up two single file lines flanking their leader, eight to each side with the prisoners in the middle.
The path to the meadow was easy and almost a straight path. Not wishing to arrive too late and take the ire of the Huntress who presided there, the speed at which they travelled was a steady canter for the horses and a light jog for those who walked. The leader atop his elk did not look back save to talk to a subordinate at his side who promptly nodded for another to step out of line, bringing their horses up to a gallop as they went on ahead with their orders. At times the farmers would stumble and call out asking for pace to be slackened so that they might not fall or be left to drag along the ground. No elf looked to give them any respite and the tempo was upheld.
The sun had fallen beyond the horizon by the time they came upon the small cropping of trees, the last vestiges of day giving way to a sky twinkling with stars and a full moon. There were no horns or shouts to denote they had been seen and their presence relayed to those in the meadow. Rather a slew of woodland critters ran before their path, eager to be the first to report on their arrival and gain the small treat for their service. Others, perhaps too lazy, full or simply curious, lined the pathway that led into the trees. Rich carob rabbits, bushy tailed fox squirrels, striped chipmunks and silver mane raccoons sat atop tree trunks and along the thick branches above, squeaking, talking, singing their interest though all seemingly focused upon the dragonkin girl.
Brought through another few minutes into the treeline they suddenly passed into an opening and on looking back would find a wooden palisade behind, large gates closing over. They had been so well disguised within the foliage of the trees around that it had been a shock to the farmers to be brought within some form of civilisation.
The clearing centred around a large tree with ashen bark and golden leaves. It stood devoid of any building or construction, left to grow freely and without constriction rather than be used to hold platforms or homes much like the elves were fond of in their cities. Around the clearing, close to the palisade though leaving large avenues to guide a horse through, were many small huts of wooden design with leaves used in place of thatch roofing. Despite the lack of sunlight, the moon and stars had been harnessed through shimmering pools of water that reflected much of the light and bathed everything in an ivory hue. Using this lighting the prisoners would see a number of elven faces of all ages watching them from their doorways, interested to see whom had arrived so late in the evening.
The group was stopped abruptly, though the man atop his elk continued on, riding around the tree and out of sight. For a little time there was no interaction from the elves to their dragonkin and human 'guests', not until one of the riders sent on ahead earlier returned, speaking to the lead rider who nodded their head.[+darkorange “Take i humans na i gador. I lúg gwen, na i Masters Bar.”][size10 1*]. Immediately those riders around them dismounted, tethers were cut and the two farmers led off to the right whilst the girl was pulled forward and to the left, following the path of the elk-rider.
1* - Take the humans to the prison. The dragon girl, to the Masters Home.
Even during her semi-pious moment, Insae could still hear of the happenings around her. The sounds of metal swords scraping inside their sheathes informed of the confiscation of these weapons from the farmers, while a rustling of clothes and slight foot reposition told of the patting down of the farmers in the case that there were tucked away daggers. No doubt if given the chance these farmers would brutally avenge the wrongful, from their perspective of course, deaths of their two family members, but the farmers' only course of action would be limited to holding in their fury for vengeance against these elves.
Now the two elves assigned to search-and-confiscate duty were going to finish this sacred duty with her, but the leader waived them aside by a simple yet effective hand gesture. Instead, he would conduct the mission on her in person. Why he did not let his two underlings do it Insae did not know, everyone has their own reasons they keep to themselves, but that did not change what would happen.
Deep down inside Insae wanted to slap the elf like a mother does to a child, a little reprimand to wipe off that smug smile off his fair elven face. If it had been bad enough, even though the current situation was as bad as it was, Insae would've replanted the dagger from the sheath which she carried tucked away into her back and into that smug smile; a beautiful sight that plant would make, lips still in a smile while blood leaked from the roof of the mouth discolouring the white teeth with oxygen-rich blood across that perfectly stone carved face.
Neither did Insae take any enjoyment from her sword being compared to a sword crafted for mercenaries. The time taken into planning the design, gathering the necessary materials and their amount, and forging the metal into what would be its final resting form all the while keeping this a secret from her dad just felt perfectly insulting. But from an elf's arrogant perspective, anything non-elven crafted or designed equated to something way down below their level.
But what this elf, this arrogant filled scumbag bag of skin and bones, did next might have just taken the pinnacle of douchebaggery. He had the bloody nerve to lay his slender fingers in a lighly pinching grip on her chin. Being forced to submit to a search was horrible enough of its own, but to be forced to stare because of a grip on her chin blew that out of the water. If the elves had not taken the precaution of securing her wrists, Insae would've made sure that their leader would lay prostrate and bleeding out from a lightning dagger strike.
Insae focused on repressing her suprise, a possible raise of a black short thick eyebrow or a small movement of pale, rosy lips, how had the elf not picked up on the possibility of something sticking out her back as the handle of a dagger? For all their suspicious actions concerning hidden weapons, this one came off as slightly unnerving. Was this elf truly missing the handle, or was a deep game being played?
Now a long march awaited them. Insae hoped for at least being able to walk amidst an elven guard. But if they'd be blindfolded and dragged by the horses all the way to whatever this meadow was, Insae could see that possibility.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat A quick check of the cart found no-one hiding, which was perhaps best as they were liable to joining the two rapidly cooling bodies on the floor. With such swift deaths the three remaining travellers were quickly bound by wrists and tethered together. Weapons were removed from the two farmers, though they bristled as they were quickly patted down for a hidden dagger. As the elven men in their thick cloaks turned to the woman however, her prayers whispered aloud but not understood by those listening, they were waved off by their leader.
He swung down from atop the great elk, brushing a hand along the beasts neck affectionately as he ducked under its antler and paused before the dragonkin.[+firebrick “Aren’t you just delightful.”] He commented now that he was closer, a gentle smile on his face as he stepped in just a touch more and to her side. With a short movement of his hand he pulled her sword a little from its hilt, looking down her figure as he did so.[+firebrick “A mercenary dragonkin. My, what a sight to behold you are.”] He said to her as his eyes travelled up her petite body and he observed the horned protrusions rising high and pointed. The sword was fully drawn out then, passed on to one of his men who took it across to the cart and threw it inside with the other weapons.
The man before her however took a moment to finally returned his eyes to her face and a hand reached up to take a hold of her chin lightly, lifting her head up as he inspected her.[+firebrick “You wouldn’t be hiding anything from me, would you?”] He asked her though it was rhetorical and his free hand quickly found itself on her curving hip, pressing flush to her body. Releasing her chin his other hand found her other hip, and together they ran around her waist, up to where her overcoat ended at her chest, to the sides and back down. He crouched and ran hands down to her knee before coming back up and grasping around to her back. All the while he maintained his gaze upon her face, watching her for any reaction during his inspection. Though he felt something at her back, he put it down to a buckle or strapping from her belt.
Lingering a moment with his arms around her he retained his slight smile, holding that position for a just a moment longer before his hands slid away.[+firebrick “There we are. Not too bad I hope.”] He murmured to her before turning away and walking back toward his mount.[+firebrick “Alysha.”] An arrow was taken from string and the bow returned to the saddle from a soldier off to the right. Hands rose up and pulled back the hood, a womans slight face brought into the light of fading sun and flickering fire. She had fine features and beautifully rich emerald eyes. Her hair was silken and blonde, tied back in a pretty braid.[+firebrick “Take your group and search the bodies. Have the horses and the cart brought back with you. Burn and bury the dead when done.”] He caught her gaze for just a moment before putting his foot up into stirrup and hauling himself up onto the massive creature, settling back into his saddle.[+firebrick “We will head to Sarlins Meadow. Meet us there when you are done here.”] The place in question was east of the elven town of Indelar, a few hours ride west of their present location and nestled in a small copse of trees not far from the river. It would do for the night.
Insae knew about the quality of Elvish, no need at all to read the expressions on the faces of the elves. Just imagine someone with hands on their arms and nails on their fingers taking certain substances and slowly dragging their nails on that substance. The constant, high pitched screeching resulting in such an action would give anyone a headache and an atmosphere of annoyance and frustration at the person or creature going through with such an heinous action. To the elves in front of Insae, her Elvish sounded precisely the same as the scratching of the nails to someone's ears, if it hadn't been for the situation at hand Insae would have popped a smirk seeing elves distressed over such a mere thing as someone somewhat butchering their language.
Still, Insae did want an explanation as to the elf's, in completely grammar and pronunciation error free because an elf spoke it, curiosity comment. Why was it a curiosity that someone who wasn't an elf spoke elvish? Did that comment have to do with the fact that elves didn't run into too many non-humans who knew the elvish tongue? Such a probability existed, but not a viable question to ask given the situation.
Insae took back an earlier thought; these elves weren't arrogant-free, at least the leader had some arrogance in him. Technically, she herself had not made a single move to defy the elves unless her single action of simply standing the fuck up instead sitting on her ass counted as an action of defiance, which in Insae's books was considered aan load do shit. [size10 *1]
Not even halfway to their first city and one of the humans whom she'd been agreed to protect would die. No use continuing to protect him unless she had that bad of an urge for 24 arrows hitting her simultaneously in less than one heartbeat, and Insae's urge was on the opposite end of the dying spectrum.
Before the elves's feet hit the dirt, Insae had extended empty hands so the approaching elves would clearly see her hands. Better to have arms extended and suffer the minute consequences of a partial 'idiot' look accompanied with perhaps a little burning feeling than fidgeting with swords and escalating the situation further.
[i Another gein bitdro fin dust] [size10 *2]. Talk about one person who you were supposed to protect die without reaching even the bloody fucking halfway point to the first town, talk about losing half of the people you were supposed to be protecting and being able to do jack-shit about it. Frustration coursed through Insae's veins and arteries. Never had she ever felt so useless, except for that one time in the past, locked in inaction. At the same time that one part of her urged to act, the other part's urge of standing still and being binded overruled the other urge. Insae could only grudgingly submit to her arms being tied in front of her, the other two farmers being tied in a similar fashion along with a rope putting them in a three point line, and two of the humans dead.
Lowering her head, Insae closed her eyes and began to whisper, [+purple "hel, lot goddess, daughter do loki
guard do fin spiritte do fin dilon
two farmedro lost come wah hi Nu
ol nust kneel before hi, hel
Mindok Nas pogaas nust were lovaan ko thdro laas
ahrk Nas pogaan nust lovaan ko daal.
before nust crossaan over nust were honorable souls;
soaring spirits, kril people.
watch over niin,hel, ol nust crosse fin bridge
Nol thdro laas wah fin next.
ahrk welcome niin voth zin ahrk Moro
ful tol nust aal lahney Nau Mahfaeraak
ko their familydo heartte ahrk memoridro."] [size10 *3] A deep and heavy sigh followed after a few seconds of silence, Insae raising her head and reopening her eyes, ready to continue down an unknown path led by elves.
*1. a load of shit
*2. Another one bites the dust
*3. Hel, great goddess, daughter of loki
Guard of the spirits of the dead
Two farmers have come to you now
As they kneel before you, Hel
Know how much they were loved in this life
And how many they loved in return.
Before they crossed over they were honorable souls;
Soaring spirits, brave people.
Watch over them,Hel, as they cross the bridge
From this life to the next.
And welcome them with honor and glory
So that they may live on forever
In their family's hearts and memories.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat For a time it seemed all tongues would remain still and there would be a need to begin certain tasks to extract the necessary information. It would not be difficult. Four farmers, humans at that, were like teaching a child that the fire is hot. With some strong persuasion they could be brought to kneel and tell him what he needed to know. Yet thankfully for them, the dragonkin girl raised her head and on meeting with the elk-riders gaze she spoke. It made him smile.
The men either side of him, resting on their pure stallions, drew in breath and cast glances aside of them at the one she spoke to. He knew they were looking and he understood their distress, but still he smiled as he looked down on the bold girl.[+firebrick “Cin are a curiositui.”][size10 *1] The elven flowed beautifully and grammatically correct and he looked down into the girls eyes with the amusement that permeated his tone.
[+firebrick “Cin stand before nin in rúth, im should gar- cin put na gurth. However, cin ped- honorablui in mín lammen im will let cin cuin.”][size10 *2] It was rather odd how elven had merged with parts of common tongue, to supplement itself. In a way it was similar to how they had taken up human spun silk to relax in, or dwarven furniture to adorn their homes. Life for a long time had been about assimilation of different cultures, but that did not mean they had forgotten the past, and looking beyond the girl to the men behind her he waved his right hand.[+firebrick “Belth- i angrui er. Restrain i others - i gwen aswell.”][size10 *3]
He watched as a majority of those with bows drawn now slackened the drawstring, returning the weapons to catching points on their saddles and slipping from the backs of their horses. A few remained seated, bows ready should the farmers decide to become aggressive. Unfortunately for one man he panicked as two men closed in, reaching to his waistband and drawing on a short knife. No sooner did it glint in the flames of the fire than three arrows struck him with heavy thuds. Two hit his chest, one his throat, leaving him to gargle on his own blood as he slumped to the ground. He was joined in this act of self-drowning by the man who had gone for his bow, head pulled back and a sharp silver blade drawn along his neck, a fountain of warm blood running from the open wound down his front and his body left to fall forward. His hand ripped free of the arrow as he fell and a wheeze of pain escaped the steaming incision.
The other two were much more compliant. Whether they were only fearful of the same treatment or had remained frozen from the original encounter did not matter. Soon their hands were tied before them and they were tethered to the girl via a rope about their waist.[+firebrick “I have a feeling you are lying to me little dragon girl. So I will take you and your human friends here, and we will learn all we can. Should you survive that, then you will be free to leave.”] He spoke directly to her but changed back to common to ensure the two humans understood his threat. That same intrigued smile remained as he looked at her, eyes narrowing a touch as he let his gaze wander.
*1 – You are a curiosity.
*2 – You stand before me in defiance, for which I should have you killed. However, you speak honourably in our tongue, for which I will allow you to live.
*3 – Kill the attacker. Restrain the others – the girl aswell.
As the sun slowly waltzed closer to the horizon, the blue colour of the sky slowly swept away and replaced by other, more numerous colours before gradually blending into a single mix. As the sun set, the blue had slowly given itself away to emerging patches of tangerine, rose pink, mauve, and saphire. As the sun's bottom began to touch the horizon, all these patches slowly merged into one, a shade which combined both amber and maroon to present a tone of hibiscus throughout.
Now these five individuals hadn't been dilly-dallying and looking up at the sky to observe the smooth metamorphosis of the colours. On the contrary, they'd been hard at work setting up camp to sleep the night. The tents themselves were not fancy at all, merely discoloured metal poles with drab brown and green canvassing. But tents had no need to be fancy to work, even the most discoloured and drab of tents kept out the harsh, cold wind and the chilling rain as long as they had not a single peep to let any elements through.
After the tents were set all proper, the four farmhands shared a single tent while Insae had her own smaller one, a ring made of rocks was laid down on the ground. Into this ring of rocks were placed bits of wooden faggots, and over that two thicker pieces of logs were placed. The faggots were the first to catch on fire, coughing and sputtering to life as a discoloured charcoal smoke slowly spiraled into the air. After a few minutes, the fire from the faggots had passed onto the logs which caused the tendrils to blaze to life as the warmth let itself be felt.
After the blaze was given the time to settle comfortable among the faggots and logs, now the food could be cooked and the drinks warmed. Now as a rule Insae didn't usually partake in human alcoholic drinks, but she decided that this one time she could make an exception. It did help to pass the time as the meat cooked over the fire, the smell of meat slowly wafting and creating its own tasty atmosphere, but more importantly it made for some sort of moment of bonding.
But this relaxing, cooked meat smelled atmosphere had no intention of lasting throughout the evening.
Insae lapsed into silence as a quiet tremor could be felt, this same tremor caused the farmer to lapse into silence as well. Insae remained calmed even as the farmers panicked and skittered a bit, but no one pulled out any weapon just as yet.
The quite tremor evolved into a rumbling. The small rocks and pebbles could be seen skipping on the ground while the reflection of the fire against the water shaking from fear. Insae knew that only a large group of large somethings could produce a trembling of such magnitude as to disturb both land and water, but had not the knowledge of what these somethings were.
And then the something revealed themselves, faster than one could snap their fingers to wipe out half the universe. 12 white horses, with not a single blemish to discolour the pure white appearance on them, burst forth with a single rider mounted upon each horse. These were no draught horses, these were mounts for actions but they still measured at least 14 or 15 hands.
Even it had been only these 12 riders, it would be completely futile to fight as Insae knew that only the elves owned such horses. Fighting 12 mounted elven warriors only meant suicide, and Insae did not want to die in a suicidal charge for no purpose.
A total of 24 elven riders pinned them against the shores of the lake, but that's where they had stopped. If these riders sole purpose had been to kill, all five of them would be laying slaughtered as soon as the first dozen riders had galloped down the ridge. But as it was, the five of them were still breathing and standing because the elves main goal hadn't been to kill.
As this weird standoff proceeded, another trio emerged over the ridge. The two riders on the flanks matched the two dozen riders, but the center rider stood out like a sore thumb. What gave the center rider away was the choice of mount, an elk huge in stature and displaying a beautiful yet also dangerous set of antlers. Talk about not messing with big horses, one definitely did not mess with an elk.
One unfortunate accident did occur. As the the trio approached, one of the farmers caved in to the pressure and reached for his bow. He never even came close to reaching it as an arrow fired from the elves pinned his hand to one of the wheels of the wagon as his cries of pain flew across the lake and the ground, drowning all other sound except the sound of two dozen bows being drawn as the remainder of the farmers began and then stopped reaching for their swords.
During this entire time, Insae, except for standing to face the elves, had not moved an inch. This did catch the attention of the leader, what Insae labelled the elk rider, who had ridden up closer and turned so the side could be seen.
The pointy ears gave them away as elves if there had been any doubts before. Insae had had dealings with elves before. From her experience, most elves showed some amount of arrogance which always meant irritating dealings. But maybe, just maybe, these elves were the rare few who didn't show any signs of arrogance.
The leader began to demand information. Insae listened carefully, yes an authoritarian presence showed itself in his voice but not even a slight peek of arrogance. Insae smiled, but only on the inside. There was at least slight hope.
Insae raised her head at the leader, her head cocked at a slight angle gazing at his eyes as she responded. [+purple "I núr -o pher-firen pher-lúg, gar- baw settlements an ennas are ú- farn na farn -o ammen na ech- even a ae village. I answer na cín questions, a if mui answers are ú- in i conn- -o i questions im ceri- humblui apologize. Mín are headed an, but ú- sui far sui bethren. Mín destination na- i town -o dorfeen ir passing trí rotbaln a toltriin. Sui na i cargo, ha na- aes. "] [size10 The race of half-human half-dragon, have no settlements for there are not enough to enough of us to make even a small village. The answer to your questions, and if my answers are not in the order of the questions I do humbly apologize. We are headed North, but not as far as Bethren. Our destination is the town of Dorfeen while passing through Rotbaln and Toltriin. As to the cargo, it is food.]
Insae's elvish wasn't perfect, there were a few words which came out a bit rough. But even though a few words here and there would grate against the elven ears because of the mispronunciation, at least she'd be understood.
Insae slowly crossed her arms in front of her chest, patiently waiting what sort of response she'd now receive and whether the human farmers would be allowed to live.
[google-font http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Montserrat][Montserrat It was indeed a brilliant autumnal day. The blazing sun bathed the plains in light and warmth and sat long and lazily in the azure sky. Coupled with the breadth of the Mercian flatlands it allowed for a view that stretched miles on to the horizon. South Ithia was a wonderful place to ride and get away from the trappings of life. Although you could cross it at a gallop in three days the peaceful serenity of the vast nothingness leant itself to spending a little more time camping beneath the sparkling starry night sky and losing a track on time. It was such a peaceful place.
Key word being [i 'was'].
For years now the Mercian flatlands had been the site of multiple battles, ranging from single combat to pitched battles between armies of hundreds if not thousands. Mounds had built up over the plains where the bodies of men were stacked high, left to rot or set alight by those victorious. Often they would be left in the open, carrion to be picked clean by scavengers. But the further south one went the more these mounds would be covered over by a layer of soil. It was a small act of mercy, allowing the souls of dead to rest. There were suspicions it was the elven folk doing so, though why they would be travelling so far north from their woodland realm just to bury the dead of strangers was not known. Often they could be spotted in the distance by travelling caravans, keeping a track of the movements of those in the plains. Again, no-one knew why, but it was unsettling.
Unfortunately for the farmers and their dragonkin guard, they had opted to stop too far south. The lake was a good source of refreshment and a landmark of sorts, though a particularly harsh summer with long droughts, had left the lake below its usual watermark. As such, when this particular group had settled in at the waters edge they had done so below a ridge line and thus were unable to see about them. Starting their fire and cooking their meals for that evening, the whispy charcoal coloured smoke rose to the now amber and maroon sky, a beacon that would draw in any that were around. It could be forgiven not to think of all this, given how peaceful these lands were once before. But times had changed.
It began with a rumbling of the ground as if the very earth was reverberating with a pulse. With the talk about the fire, the smacking of lips from cups of ale and sucking of marrow from chicken bones and grease from fingers, it was easy to miss these early signs of what was approaching. The distant rumbling would only grow, the stones and pebbles around them beginning to skitter around the ground and the water nearest them visibly resonating with the movement. As the men about the small woman began to take notice, stopping their chatter and looking amongst themselves, there was fear evident in their eyes. There would be no chance to reach toward their weapons however, their nerves too much and overcoming the desire to move until whatever was coming crested the ridge.
A dozen pure white horses, some fourteen hands tall at the smallest with bridles and saddles of a dark mahogany colour, charged across the ridge with impetus. Their riders were lithe and covered by thick emerald cloaks, hoods pulled over their faces as they directed their horses down toward the camping group of five. They were not alone; another dozen riders following not long after and the two lines criss-crossed as they surrounded and hemmed in the fretting farm folk. Moving as swift as they were showed their skill with horse. As they began to slow and stop in a crescent against the lakes shoreline, three final figures emerged along the ridge line above.
Two of the riders matched the preceding two dozen, dark cloaks and pure white horses. The third figure sat atop a colossal elk, twenty hands tall with ash-coloured antlers the length of a grown man and a warm, dark coat. It brayed loudly as it came to standstill with the other horses and for a short time the riders remained still and silent, only the occasional jingle of reins or huff of a beast could be heard.
The sound of the elk broke the spell of indecision in one farmer and he turned his hand aside to grab for his bow left leaning against one of the wagon wheels. As fast as he thought himself, it was not enough, and a slender arrow pierced his hand as he neared the weapon, punching through and pinning his appendage to the hickory wheel. He let out a scream befitting a small child and the other farmhands braced themselves, hands falling to their waists for their own weapons though the creak of two dozen bows being drawn was enough to stay them from drawing. At least the woman had the sense to know when she was outmatched, as she remained rather still and calculating by her appearance.
The figure sat atop the imposing elk guided his steed forward and approached the group as the man's wails carried into the night. The pain would be rather self-evident, but the barbed point of the arrow would have tore through quite a bit of muscle and his hand would be next to useless for the rest of his life. A small price to pay for trying to take up arms against a greater foe. With the elk pulled closer it was guided side on, allowing the closest of the group – the woman – to look up on the figure as the cloak was pulled back to reveal the man beneath.
As if the bows and the creature he rode had not been evident enough to whom they were dealing with, the sight of pointed ears and bright gilded eyes made it certain these were Elves from the Forest of Avalone west of here. He was a particularly handsome elf with high cheekbones, short raven black hair and with skin lightly kissed by the sun. His cloak was lighter than the others, newer and of a higher quality and his saddle was more decoratively adorned than the others. Looking down on the dragonkin a smirk tugged at the corners of his lips as the panicked cries of the injured man began to subside and shock settled in.
[+firebrick “This is Lunar Drop lake, part of the elven realm.”] His voice was rich, deep and authoritative.[+firebrick “We are rather far from the nearest human settlements – let alone dragonkin. Why are you all out here?”] He spoke with such an assured tone that he was close to sounding rather smug. But when you outnumbered the enemy so greatly, it was easy to become overconfident, especially as the human farmers cowed back fearfully in silence.[+firebrick “The wagon, what are you transporting? Goods? Food? Weapons?"] No answer again.[+firebrick "Are you heading north by chance? Possibly to Bethren?”] His eyes lingered on the woman a little longer before he looked to the farmers and sought an answer out of any of those gathered. They were rather silent – but he had ways to make them talk if they remained so.
The day, 'twas a gorgeous one. The bright, munsel sky was naked with no white clouds to cover up the never ending sky. The complete lack of clouds also allowed the canary sun, already past its high point in the ecliptic arc, to shine forth in its glowing, warmth giving beauty; it wasn't hot either, for the summer months already had passed into early autumn, and a nearby small lake added moisture to the dry air.
As to the lake itself, it looked near perfect. From the center to a few feet from the shore, it went from a Prussian blue gradually shifting to a baby blue. The colour near the shores was a mix of turquoise and mint. The shape itself resembled a near perfect ellipse, with only a few rocky edges and a single rounded edge on the far shore to deform this scientific shape.
The neighing of bridled horses, six to be exact, echoed back and forth across the lake every now and then as they grazed the forest green plain laying siege to the lake shores. They seemed to smile with a certain twinkling in their deep, chocolate eyes, the pointed ears roving around. To see this expression on a horse would make one feel odd, for these were no mere ponies or light horses; these were draught horses whose sole purpose involved dragging and/or carrying heavy loads. The smallest of the six standing at 15 hands while the highest towered at a staggering 21 hands. These horses were no jokes, give them even an eighth of a reason to kick you they'd kick you halfway across the lake and be dead before even reaching the highest point of the flight arc.
Bridled horses you say? What would bridled horses be doing out here all by themselves? Well, there's always that theory which states that horses broke free of their restraints and run off at a gallop. This theory would've been true if it were not for the facts at hand; an oak post hammered into the soft ground to which the bridles were wrapped and tied to, a large cedar wagon with hickory wheels spoked with dull metal cylinders, and five individuals setting up a camp.
The first four individuals looked like typical human farmers because they were typical human farmers. Light skin which had been tanned to a smooth and even brown tan, steady hands with thick callouses, and sturdy bodies. All of them carried a dagger, some form of a short sword, and one of them had expertise where it concerned archery; they were farmers and not fighters, due to that reason their was the presence of a fifth individual.
The fifth individual was in complete contrast to the farmers. The first difference would be the sex, all the farmhands represented the male sex while the fifth individual represented the female sex; not easily guessed by what she wore, another stark contrast to the farmer's wear. The farmers had not a single piece of armour on their bodies whereas this female had denim metal armour - since it wasn't solid plates, there were some gaps to allow better agility - on her legs and arms and chest. And with that big, more in the length than width, sword in its sheath clipped to her right hip.
All these observations would attract enough questions as it were without the 1.35 foot tall obsidian horns and a 5.2 long inch tail constantly moving, whether it be just the pointy tip or the whole damn thing. So before any more questions can be asked, let me tell you a story.
The answer to the question of the appearance of horns and a tail can be attributed to one thing: being a dragonkin, one parent being a dragon and the other a human. And this is where the story begins, her being born to a male human and a female dragon. Indeed, a relationship between a human and dragon sounded most curious as even during those peaceful times the relationship between the race of man and dragon was slight distastefulness at best most of the time. But notice how I say most of the time and not all the time, which allowed for such relationships here and there.
Even with these types of relationships the dragon couldn't really stay, so Insae, the name given to her by mutual agreement of both father and father, was raised solely by her father.
Her father by trade was a smithy, crafting and repairing countless different weapons and armors for all sorts of people. Now, he didn't force her to learn the trade but Insae picked it up anyways out of childish curiosity, ant after a few years she knew how to craft sturdy, reliable weapons and armour.
Now, Insae wasn't left to a void concerning the other half of her family, her dad made sure she knew who her mother was and everything he could find on dragons. All the facts and stories she slowly accrued over the years planted a seed of desire, a desire to visit the land of the dragons.
Even as the seed began to sprout, Insae began to prepare for this eventual journey. Even though she kept quiet as a mouse, her father understood all too well; the crafting of a sword and an armour set, map examinations, hikes, even fighting lessons in both sword and hand-to-hand combat. It wasn't always easy refraining himself from asking Insae about her project as he did want to help her, but at the same time he knew that if she knew he had figured her project out it would discourage her from going through with it.
Around one month before her departure, Insae went up to her father one late evening and told him what she hadn't told him for quite awhile now. Her father, obviously, had known about this and even could guess as to how close the date of her departure would be. The conversation that followed had some awkward moments as her father kept trying to keep Insae in the dark about him knowing about her plans all along while giving advice for her journey.
A month later Insae stepped out the door and into the wild with a pack on her back, sword on her hip, clothes and armour on her body. The journey wasn't an easy one as it required many a crossing over easy terrain such as flat land and already-built bridges to more difficult terrain such as forests and mountains, always switching on the easy-to-hard gradient back and forth. Along the way there were the occasional beasts, those who decided to try and make a meal out of Insae found themselves dead.
The journey itself took a few months before finally walking inside the territory of dragons, and dragons there were aplenty. All colours, sizes, and types were equally and over abundantly represented. There were your typical fire-breathing dragons, all the way from tiny ones the size of a small palm to those who equaled the towering mountains, but they weren't the only types of breathtype present; frost, lightning, and the such were also present.
But the border was as far as she would be able to travel, for she was not allowed to travel further inland. She had not been the first to be refused and wouldn't be the last. Besides, the last thing you want to do in the dragon's territory is pissing them off after being asked graciously to leave.
And so Insae began her journey back.
The journey back should've been monotonous as there was nothing that could have changed. But the closer Insae got to her homecity, the more changes she noticed. Where there had been thriving little villages were now completely still and deserted. In some places where a strong, healthy forest had stood was now half alive while the other half burnt to smolder and ashes. Here and there were the remains of various creatures both human and non-human and animals in the forms of littered skeletons. In some places the skeletons were filled with arrows or on the end of a sword or spear, indicating a battle had taken place.
None of this on her return journey prepared Insae for the horror of seeing the only place where she had lived left in a smoldering ruin. THe buildings had either been burned down, smashed down, but a few of them still were left standing on crooked legs or mere pieces of faggot or stone. The streets, there were no streets no more, either burned into the ground along with the buildings or filled with skeletons, some skeletons missing parts because they had been strewn lazily.
A pain, a hole of unknown size. Everything Insae knew had been literally burned from existence. The only remains of her home had been a stone roof and a single, red strand thread poking amidst the broken stone and wooden splinters; that single thread she tied to her left horn and carried around ever since.
Ever since the times began to slowly darken, Insae became a mercenary, selling her sword based on her own judgment of morality. That's how it came to be now, helping farmers by protecting them from harm as they transported goods to sell.
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