Taog sat there for a while, listening to Juniper wash her face, debating on whether or not it'd be better if he just laid back down. He didn't feel well at all. How could the Dwarves drink this ale if this is how they felt like afterwards? Not that the wine they'd had was any different. Taog almost wished he would just be sick, so his body could be done with it. Instead, Juniper's light touch was paired with a healthy dose of her magic, warming him from within. Rather than stop her, Taog welcomed Juniper's healing gift this time. He did feel a little better afterwards. With a deep sigh, he stood and staggered over to the basin to splash some water on his face. His fingers hissed and complained at the cool water's touch and the veins hidden underneath his hair were no different.
Curiosity sparked again. Taog nipped at the water some to rinse out the taste in his mouth and felt reasonably okay then. He wondered who it was Barut would have them meet.
He found Mirriam and Juniper in the great hall, amber eyes scanning the large room for Barut. A lot of Haven's people were dotted about, continuing their conversations of last night, confirming friendship and stories. The atmosphere was less excited than last night's, but no less friendly. Juniper might be right when she suggested that this place wouldn't be bad to make their home, if the Dwarves chose not to trust them.
There was food, but Taog didn't feel like having any of it yet.
Barut came at them with another Dwarf in tow. Taog cocked his head and looked at the Dwarf. A young Dwarf, surely.
"This is the blacksmith's apprentice Arque," Barut introduced them. "He will take you down to the blacksmith, Taog," he said.
Taog furrowed his brow. To the blacksmith?
"Nice to meet you," he told Arque, though Taog wasn't entirely sure why he would meet a blacksmith. He recalled his conversations with Arewen, and how he'd said that fire magic was good for forging, but in no future did he become a blacksmith.
Catching Taog's confusion, Barut patted his shoulder, "...I haven't finished talking, we might be here a while. The blacksmith knows fire magic," Barut explained.
Taog's surprise was written on his face. Another fire magic user?
"He may teach you, if you can prove yourself worthy," Barut said. "Don't disappoint me."
What about Juniper? Taog looked from Arque to Juniper and back. He had no choice but to go. This was a rare opportunity and like Barut said, he couldn't mess this up. The one way to move forward was to become stronger and his fire magic was effective against the Council. He would kill again, if it meant protecting the ones he cared for.
"Master Rocha is fair, but strict, you'll find," Arque said as he started to lead the way further into the fast building, leaving the Great Hall behind them. They went down stairs and deeper into the mountain. Taog felt he was approaching a great source of fire; much like the Council, there was no denying its strength to his poor senses. It was like the molten river. Or it was exactly that, he realized.
Especially when he finally laid eyes upon the elaborate forge.
Rocha wasn't the only one at work either. Many a Dwarf was gathered around the searing flames, work-benches and dark water aplenty. Some were crafting weapons, armour or plain objects like mugs and the like. Pipes too. Taog paused to take it all in, until Arque thought he'd watched aplenty and nudged him into the blacksmith's workshop.
/ THERE IS NO EXPLANATION OR REASON / Urizen
/ 6d 12h 16m 19s
Sleep must have claimed her soon after Taog had flopped on his bed because the next thing Juniper knew was there was hustling and bustling and she opened her eyes. She frowned when Barut cane in being far too loud and far too demanding. Juniper sighed and buried herself further into the blankets, if she ignored Barut maybe would go away and leave her alone but no luck as he kept at them to get up. Juniper grumbled to herself as she sat up and took a few deep breaths. She didn’t feel nauseous but she did feel tired and groggy and her head was agony.
“Ugh...” She mumbled as she got to her feet and found a basin of water, rinsing her face and looking to Taog. She figured he felt as bad as she did and she dried her face before reaching over and touching his shoulder, spilling a little healing magic into him, hopefully it would help if he was feeling nauseous or had a headache and Juniper cursed that she couldn’t use it on herself.
"Come on, both of you. Seems neither of you can stomach Dwarven Ale." Barut quipped and Juniper shot him a glare, they were adults, not children.
Juniper washed her face, made her hair as presentable as she could given Barut said there was someone worth meeting. She fixed her cloak and looked herself over, maybe something to drink would help with her head and she let Taog wash up, heading to the Great Hall and thankfully Mirriam had brewed some tea.
“You look horrendous, Juniper.” Mirriam remarked and Juniper felt horrendous so she wasn’t surprised. Mirriam gave her a touch of healing magic, enough to take away the headache and the hint of exhaustion. Mirriam handed her some tea which was sweet and hot.
“I see you had a lovely time last night.” Mirriam remarked as she handed over some bread and cheese and Juniper eyed it, not exactly feeling hungry.
“It was nice, the Dwarves are nice.” She said with a smile and Mirriam just gave her a look but said nothing else.
Juniper had a little to eat, just enough to stop her feeling hungry but she didn’t want to tempt fate. She mumbled to herself about needing more sleep, she was almost sure Barut could have waited for another hour or so before waking them up so brashly. The Great Hall seemed alive with their hosts chatting to the different people from their caravan of outlaws and rebels. It was nice to see them getting along and the mix of races seemed curious about each other and Juniper hoped this was a good sign.
King Dwarf? Leader? King? Oh. Taog watched Juniper, a little muddled. He probably shouldn't interfere then. He looked at the door, then the empty bed and Juniper. Sleep.
"I don't want to sleep," Tao protested, though everything in his body and mind was ready to shut down and get the rest he needed. Juniper seemed to have forgotten she'd had her hair cut and it made Taog chuckle. Rather than sway in the spot indecisively, Taog took a few steps closer to Juniper and sank down on the floor near her bed, legs crossed as he watched her. Slayer of Mothra, was it?
He didn't stop to think that he'd slept a whole day, away from everyone and everything, watched over only by Tian and her Seers. For another little while Taog just sat there, but then sluggishly started to make his way over to the other bed and tried it out. It was softer than what he was used to. How did that work?
No, wait. He'd slept in a bed like this back at Haven's caves too, hadn't he? After Tian had sent him to sleep without visions.
Taog snorted. He was warm enough without. He just flopped on top of them and waited for the gentle swaying to stop and settle. His stomach was less pleased with the change in position and he was helpless to stop a hiccup from escaping his lungs.
"Hmm, beds are weird," Tao said drowsily. Juniper probably didn't hear, but that didn't matter. He wasn't expecting a reply of any kind.
He wasn't sure exactly when sleep conquered his mind, but Taog woke after a few hours, still a little out of it, to the noise of people shuffling out of their rooms. Taog didn't think the ale would still affect him, but it did. He was sprawled out on the bed haphazardly and his stomach felt a bit uneasy. So did his head. Taog didn't think he was ready to get up yet without being ill. Rather, he ignored the people moving about as they seemed to be in no particular rush and slung an arm across his eyes to block out what light reflected into the room.
It felt like only moments later that Barut stood in their room, unimpressed it seemed with the state of them.
"If you have energy to feast at night, you have energy to be up. Up, up!" he coaxed them. Tao groaned and shifted to roll over and carefully sit up, cradling his head.
"You don't have to shout," Taog said, sending Barut a glare.
"There is someone you need to meet. Wash up, then come to the main hall," he instructed. Tao could tell there would be repercussions if he didn't and so he just sat there for another while, head hung and eyes closed.
/ THERE IS NO EXPLANATION OR REASON / Urizen
/ 6d 19h 31m 34s
Juniper watched Taog on the floor, why on earth would he take the floor? She pulled a face at him when he called her stubborn and stuck her tongue out like a child. She rubbed her head, trying to straighten out the room. Well, she could be stubborn she supposed and she looked up at the ceiling, doing her best to keep herself. She watched Taog get up and mumble about speaking to Barut, looking bewildered. Did he have to? Barut was probably still chatting away to their leader and she squinted slightly. She propped herself up, it took more than one attempt and she smiled a little. She giggled at his hiccup,
"Can't fly, well..." She looked half tempted almost to try it because she had never tried flying after some amount of drink. It didn't feel like a great idea, she could imagine face planting and she didn't move the goofy smile off her face.
"He was talking to the King Dwarf...Leader, King." She said, clumsily as she tried to figure out what was going on.
"You should sleep." She said, her cheeks flushed rosy and she ran a hand through her hair, looking disappointed when she got to the ends and frowned. When did her hair get shorter? She looked to Taog, questioningly but everything came back and she emitted a soft 'Oh'. She watched Taog sway and she stifled another smile, it wasn't so bad here to rest up and their hosts were agreeable and very good company for the moment.
Juniper gestured to the bed,
"Go to sleep, stubborn Fey and slayer of Mothra." She said with a smile. She wiggled out of her cloak. She got herself comfortable,
"You can stay." She said and shrugged, settling down under the blanket and hugging it around her form.
"It was cold without you." She mumbled half to herself, emerald eyes glassy and watching Taog with a content nature. She really didn't mind right then if she had a headache in the morning. Juniper shifted and closed her eyes to stop the room spinning out too much.
No home, ever again? Taog zoned out a little watching Juniper as that thought sunk in. Of course they'd have a home again. They'd somehow defeat the Great One and then the world would be their home. Then again, they wouldn't be celebrated by all. A Dwarf broke his thoughts and Taog's hand slipped as he shifted to look. His other hand only just managed to hold on to the table to help prevent him from utterly face-planting it. Juniper's hand was there, suddenly and Taog looked up at her, a small smile playing across her face.
"Shush," Taog hushed Juniper. "I don't think my legs work either," he confessed with a whisper.
Taog leaned heavily on the table with one hand, as standing made the horizon sway uncomfortably. After a few seconds however, Taog carefully shuffled after the Dwarf. Juniper occasionally bumped into him, but soon there was a wall and Taog held a hand out to it just so they wouldn't tumble. Somehow, his arm had come to rest around Juniper's back, making sure she didn't fall down, rather than holding her hand.
Once there, Juniper managed to slump down on one of the beds and Taog just smiled at the Dwarf, covertly leaning against the door-opening.
"Thank you," he said with a satisfied smile.
"Get some sleep, ey?" the Dwarf said and went off to undoubtedly bed more of Haven's drunken lot. Resistant?
Taog snorted and watched Juniper, then sunk down near the wall. It was simpler to just rest on the floor. He didn't need a bed anyway. Taog didn't feel like laying down. He sat there, legs sprawled out in front of him, watching Juniper stretch out.
"Go to sleep, stubborn Fey," Taog chastised her with a smile.
Visions cropped up uninvited once more. Taog zoned out watching them and came back to a blurry bedroom. He was tired now. Tired, full and worried. Barut had talked with the elder Dwarf for a long time and they hadn't seemed finished even after the feast had mostly ended.
"I should find Barut and talk to him," Taog started and clumsily worked his way back to his feet. Once he did, a hiccup interrupted his train of thought, followed by a chuckle. He wasn't as far-gone as he had been on the wine they'd fed him at the Vale, but Taog didn't quite feel himself. He hadn't felt himself since the rite and he hated it.
"Don't fly off again," Tao told Juniper and swayed on the spot for a moment before realizing he'd have to actually move and find Barut if he meant to talk with him.
/ THERE IS NO EXPLANATION OR REASON / Urizen
/ 7d 9h 13m 1s
Taog's close proximity by his choice was a little odd, she knew he usually preferred his own space. She watched him speak and he seemed scattered oddly enough. She tilted her head, listening to him try to piece it altogether. It must have been difficult,
"Well, as long as you don't get lost in the dreams." She mused, not understanding everything fully when it came to this kind of thing. Dreams were sometimes wonderful and full of promises and it was gut wrenching to wake up sometimes. What if Taog just decided not to come back? She had every faith Taog was strong enough to come back each time. 'Our future' he said and she furrowed her brow, she was in his future so maybe she didn't perish entirely or hold him back. That was a nice thought.
"Sure I miss it, some of it." She freely admitted and said softly, eyes watching him and she smiled a bit.
"It was home, only home I've ever had." She said quietly, "I don't think we'll have that again, a home you know?" She said and got that far away look again as she turned her eyes to the fire.
"Oi! You two planning on camping together there?" A Dwarf said and Juniper frowned a little, "Up you get, we got you a room sorted. Beds an' all!" He chuckled as Juniper was jostled to her feet and Juniper groaned as she stood up, a little shaky and wobbly.
"C'mon, keep up, wings and fire, let’s go." How were the dwarves so... sober? She chuckled slightly as the room tilted. She looked to Taog and wondered if he was alright. She squinted at him and leaned on the table, almost trapping him in as she offered a hand,
"Not for you, I don't think I can walk very well." She said with a bewildered look of realisation.
Juniper leaned back and almost fell, giggling softly at herself. At least she was happy, no worries or cares as she looked to where the Dwarf was waiting and she kept a hold of Taog, doing her best to keep her feet moving as she followed down one of the halls, others were in different rooms and Juniper poked her head in and saw two rather comfortable beds and she looked relieved,
"Hey-" She hiccupped which brought around another batch of fresh giggles. She made it to a bed and slumped down, stretching rather dramatically,
"Y'know these things're really resistant." She remarked, remembering his hesitation around them, "You won't break them." She said her thoughts as scattered as his now and she hummed to herself as she lay back on the bed.
"A rite," Taog said, stifling a burp from escaping him. The ale was fizzy and his stomach didn't seem to favour it much. Once he settled again though, Taog assumed his previous position, chin resting on the palm of his hand, elbow on the table. He leaned a little closer to Juniper than absolutely necessary, watching as she talked. Tao liked watching her mannerisms, the way she moved. Her hair was fresh and it was different, new.
"I like your hair," Taog said softly.
"A rite," he corrected. Tian called it a rite.
"Like... Tian never explained it," Tao said. Did she ever? He snorted, looked at his ale and decided he'd had enough. He felt like the drink acted with a delay and he'd already had quite a lot, to be honest. More than enough.
More confident, was he?
"My head is just full. I've seen so many things, possible... possibilities," Taog said. "It's... I- the only thing that's important is now, you know? All those things that will happen? They're meaningless if you're not looking at now."
Happier? Taog snorted and chuckled, then shook his head.
"It was a nice dream, that's all," Tao decided with a nod.
"I dreamt and it shattered in countless pieces," he described. "And every piece I looked at, it was a different way for my future to play out," Taog said. "And every time I looked away, there was another facet or shard, and it looked very similar, but there'd be small differences to it. To my future. Our future. Some of it."
He shook his head and licked his lips.
"There's no way to tell which of the shards are now, just looking away for a small moment, and..." he made a gesture with his hand, "it's different again. I don't get how Tian does it. I do get why she sees more futures than one now. She said it'll fade. The dreams, they'll fade."
Taog felt sleepy now. The warmth from the large hearth, the food and ale combined made him drowsy. Taog stared at Juniper with a dreamy, glassy gaze. He didn't trust his legs to walk in the directions he pleased, so Taog figured he'd just stay seated and wait it out, but he'd rather have been somewhere he could sleep.
"Do you miss the Vale?" Taog asked softly.
"You looked so sorrowful, standing there on your own."
Unlike him, who was used to being alone and at peace with himself, Juniper had friends in the Vale. And much of what she'd thought safe and truth was now uprooted and twisted into something else. It couldn't have been easy for Juniper. Taog looked down at his hands, fingers still curled around his mug of ale. There wasn't much left of it. He almost wanted to lift and drink it again, but it seemed like a lot of effort right then.
/ THERE IS NO EXPLANATION OR REASON / Urizen
/ 8d 11h 8m 40s
Juniper watched the crowd disperse and looked to Taog as he spoke, raising an eyebrow a little at his jumbled up statement. He was confused, probably wasn't the best time to ask him about all of his visions given his sober mind was clouded up too. She looked surprised when he mentioned seeing her relaxed and she thought for a while. He was probably right. It had been a while since they had both just let loose like this and she glanced to the ale, it had helped. She only gave a bit of a laugh and nodded to him,
"Things have been tense I guess. Since that night in the Vale." She murmured, looking Taog over with glassy eyes.
"I could say the same about you, you talk more and you get more confident." She remarked to him and said with a brief look back to the Dwarves. She didn't think they were threatening at all. The tempo was slowing down a little and it was a little more relaxed as Juniper adjusted her position so she could soak up the heat from the Great Hall's fire. Juniper looked back to Taog, apparently forgetting earlier that she reckoned speaking to him about his visions was a bad idea. He was more honest this way.
"So, you had your ritual thing- ceremony, Mirriam called it something." She said as she waved a hand lazily.
"D'you feel different? You look a bit different, but still you." Juniper said as she watched him. It was strange how he had changed, she knew it was still him and she had quizzed him in the caverns when he had been withdrawn and careful and he had assured her he was still himself.
"Are you happier?" She asked him, visions seemed to make people oddly distant and she didn't want that to happen to Taog or for him to speak in riddles like Tian did. She liked his company, he was as constant at the fire he represented and it was nice to have someone around that she knew better. She didn't really know him though, did she? She was confusing herself and she instead quietened and watched him with curious eyes.
"Oh," Taog said, grinning a little sheepishly as he started to understand what Juniper had asked after. Dancing, right. The worst was that they were killed. Tao didn't tell Juniper that. Maybe the Dwarves would take pity on them and they could live there. Why live with someone you didn't trust? No. Taog knew Juniper's hopes were too positive, but hopefully things wouldn't come to that. Taog shot a look at Barut, but he still seemed in deep conversation, ale forgotten.
Tao watched as Juniper let herself be taught by Hjitsvan. He felt a little dazed now, tired from a broken night's watching dreams rather than sleep. As if only now realizing he still had ale, Taog raised his eyebrows and drained the mug.
He wondered where they would stay for the night anyway.
"...and then, the ice cracked," Taog told the Dwarves.
"What happened next?"
"Oh, hush, let the boy tell the story. Continue," the Dwarf said.
Most were leaning close, sat on and around the table as Taog told them the story of how he had killed Mothra.
"The water boiled on my skin, my hands were wrapped around her throat. We sank into the ice-cold water together," he continued with a thick tongue and drank some more ale. Taog wiped his lips.
"I was fading fast. It was now or never," Tao said. "I put my hand to her face. I was thinking... I want her face to look like her lies. She clawed and clawed as the heat boiled her flesh."
Some Dwarves winced. Others looked away. Taog took another long drink.
"She let go. We clawed our way out of the water and then Juniper shot her in the shoulder. It was a lost cause then. She sank into the icy lake and died."
Some of the Dwarves clapped the table. Others raised their mug in cheer.
Taog smirked and watched, finding it a little estranging to be praised for something so horrible.
"You did a good thing, boy," one of them said and squeezed his shoulder in encouragement.
As they dispersed, the story now finished, Juniper wandered over. Taog hadn't moved much since she'd started dancing, but he started to feel full on drink. See?
Taog cocked his head, confused.
"I see you?" he said, the words a little heavier on the tongue than usual.
"Oh, you mean... before?" Taog watched the Dwarves and the others feast. Some were already done for the night, but unlike the freedom of the Vale, Taog noticed they were guiding people to rooms away from the great hall.
Tao shook his head a little and sighed, "maybe. It's all a jumble. I saw so many different... different possible... I don't know," Taog muttered. Even though he'd thought himself to be full on the ale, he still took another drink.
He rested his chin on his hand, elbow on the table and looked at Juniper with heavy lidded eyes. "I think this is the most relaxed I've seen you in a while," Taog said and then scrubbed at his face. He hadn't meant to say that out loud.
/ THERE IS NO EXPLANATION OR REASON / Urizen
/ 8d 11h 57m 25s
Juniper watched as Taog spoke and she smiled a little, watching him ramble off what he had learned and she took another drink of the ale. She was listening and she doubted much of it would stick in her head for tomorrow.
"I meant if you learned the dancing." She said when he finished and laughed softly, shaking her head, "And what's the worst that can happen, we stay here?" She shrugged a little, how bad could it be just staying in these mountains, safe and a little cold. She set down her ale and gave Taog a soft look before approaching Hjitsvan and letting him show her the steps. It wasn't a dance built for Fey at all but Juniper felt relaxed after the ale and a light hearted. They weren't dead, they were both incredibly lucky to be alive and why not enjoy the moment like back at the Vale?
Hjitsvan took a moment to show Juniper how to do their dances, giving up when he realised a slim little Fey couldn't stomp around like a Dwarf and left her to her own version of what was going on and Juniper laughed a little, trying to copy the movements of those around incredibly poorly. She was under no illusion she was doing a terrible job, drinking from a cup that was offered to her.
"He really kill Mothra?" One Dwarf asked and looked to Taog and Juniper smiled a little,
"He really did, you should have been there." Juniper responded and took another drink as she watched some of the Dwarves playing a game of some sorts and a drinking game. So what if they never let them leave? They could stay here, Juniper could farm.
After some time, Juniper got a little dizzy and sank down onto a bench, kicking her feet up and leaning on the table, watching the others and smiling to herself. Had Taog seen all of this in his visions? She looked around for the Fey and got to her feet, wandering over, more at ease and freer,
"Did you see all this?" She asked him, sitting down and setting her ale aside, giving it a break for a moment. She had a permanent smile in place, green eyes a little glazed but no less present as she inspected Taog, eyeing his markings and her gaze wandering back up to his amber eyes.
Not leave her alone? Was she afraid? Taog watched as some Dwarves approached Juniper, curious after her wings and he chuckled, quietly drinking as he watched them interact. Indeed, Juniper had wings. She unfolded them for the Dwarves to see and Taog smiled. A gold piece? Taog cocked his head. This man owed another man gold? Slightly confused and muddled, not in the last place because of the ale, Taog watched them leave. Mirriam stole away Juniper after though and Taog shook his head. So this was the dreaded hair-cut then?
Taog watched as the skilful hands of the barber wielded a sharp blade to cut away most of the length Juniper had on her hair. Tao brushed through his own, but Elroch insisted he kept it somewhat short. Same way he insisted he bathe occasionally.
'You're not an animal, Taog.' He could still hear Elroch say it and Taog hadn't minded it. It was possible one of the very few interactions where someone other than himself touched him without being afraid or repulsed.
And now this whole world was open to him instead.
Taog's ale was topped up and he drank his fill as he watched Juniper's hair fall away. She looked younger still than she already did without it.
"They make weapons with the Earth," Taog said. "Metal, they call it iron and they dig it up. And they melt it, same as I did with my magic," he explained. Arewen had been all happy to explain it all to him.
"...and they have few magic users, but when they do have them, they're powerful. They say a great Dwarf made the mountain yield and that's how they made the house and buildings," Taog explained. He didn't realize it himself, but he ale made his tongue loose.
"Oh, and that there, they're the leaders. They farm. That's, that's when they grow things in the ground and they use specific seeds to get the plants they want in abundance," Tao said. It was revolutionary. It allowed the Dwarves to live in this place, because there was little that would grow on the rocks themselves.
"We're not first outlanders they've seen though. There are others, who travel between races," Taog explained. They were a rare sight, but the Dwarves did keep in touch. They had a select few who they trusted. And now they were welcoming the people of Haven. Taog's eyes narrowed and he looked at Juniper.
"I don't think... I don't think they'll let us leave if they don't trust us," he said. The words themselves didn't really seem to sink through in understanding however. Taog took another long drink from his ale instead.
/ THERE IS NO EXPLANATION OR REASON / Urizen
/ 8d 12h 41m 35s
Juniper glanced up when she heard her name and looked over to see Taog,
“I was enjoying the view.” She said as she brandished a hand to the city and the tall mountains and fierce landscape. It was nice to her, it was peaceful. She watched Taog for a while, trying to keep up with him as she took another drink of ale. She peered over his shoulder at the dancing and eating and drinking going on. She was reluctant but when Taog said ‘please’ she sighed out.
“Alright, alright. I really was just admiring the view, not often we see things like this.” The stories sounded enticing and Juniper looked to Taog, tugging his hand.
“You’re not leaving me alone, if you’re going to make me-“ She cut off when a dwarf stood in her way arms folded.
“This the one, Hijtsvan?!” He bellowed and Juniper let go of Taog’s hand, confused. Another dwarf grunted and nodded nearby on a bench and Juniper furrowed her brow quizzically and looked between them. She really hadn’t done anything.
“Hjitsvan says you got wings.” The messy dwarf prompted and Juniper realised Hjitsvan was the guard from earlier, “Let us see then, don’t get a lot of wings ‘round here.” The dwarf was slightly intoxicated and Juniper figured it was best to keep the hosts happy as she fidgeted out of her cloak and spread her wings.
“I thought they’d be more colourful but right enough, I owe that man a gold piece.” He grumbled after inspecting her wings for a while.
Juniper stretched her wings for a moment before letting them relax against her back.
“I don’t think they know Fey wings are meant to be... not like mine.” Juniper said as she took another drink and looked to Taog. Right then she was reminded of the boy at the Vale festivities but he wasn’t a boy now, he was a man.
“Hey- You.” Juniper looked to see Mirriam, “Come, this lovely lady is going to cut your hair. Very kind of her.” There was a dwarves woman with rather beat hair and Juniper rolled her eyes. She guessed it was for the best as she sat down and the woman went about with a very sharp blade, cutting her hair to her shoulders. It was only hair, Juniper just let it happen and when it was done with she certainly felt lighter.
The woman topped up Juniper’s drink and Mirriam shooed her with a mumbled ‘go and mingle’ and Juniper ran a hand through her hair, fluffing it slightly.
“Alright then, you seem to be a hero amongst the Dwarves, what’ve they taught you?” She asked as she watched a few dancing and it wasn’t graceful.
More Dwarves gathered. Arewen insisted he show his powers and Taog was apprehensive, but at the expectant faces of these people, which looked so similar to Juniper's when they met at the feast, he couldn't reject them. Besides, rather than using his powers to hurt, it was more fun to play. Taog let fire swirl from his fingertips into the air, creating small birds, which the Dwarves tried to reach for. They were silly, Taog thought. Whatever was in the drink put him in too good a mood to be sour about the one or two Dwarves that did manage to reach the fire and scorched themselves on it. He laughed at their misfortune. One quickly dipped their fingers into what the Dwarves called ale and the other sucked on a sore thumb.
"Aye, see, 't is true!" Arewen said, clapping his back, making it out as if these Dwarves didn't believe he had the ability to command fire. Song started, drums and something which twanged like a lute, but wasn't quite the same thing. Chanting too. Taog was reeled into the dancing the Dwarves did, which was vastly different than what they'd done at the Vale. It was the same merriment though and Taog liked it. The only thing missing was Juniper. Taog stepped to the side to grab something to drink, thirsty, and then looked around for her.
"June," he called when Tao finally spotted her.
"Why are you here?"
His words were less restrained, but Taog still felt he was in control. Over-confident maybe, but tonight he felt they could relax.
"Have you tried this?" he said, but noticed belatedly she was holding ale too. Taog smiled widely at that and stepped close, reaching for her hand.
"Come, join," Tao tried.
In so many visions he'd seen, there were bad things happening. The rare few moments they had, he wanted to enjoy fully and it seemed silly to him for Juniper to be caught on the sidelines of it all. She wouldn't be able to do so with the bad events either.
"Arewen introduced me to these others, they're fun and they know a lot of stories," Taog said. New stories. Different ones from the Vale. They might learn what actually happened in the past, with the Great One.
Wasn't she curious after these people?
Taog thought they had a certain disdain for Fey and Elves, but that vanished when you got to know them and Taog didn't think they could tell that they weren't perfect examples of either of the species their blood had in it.
"At least come eat some more," Taog tried to convince Juniper. She barely ate a thing, it seemed.
/ THERE IS NO EXPLANATION OR REASON / Urizen
/ 8d 14h 34m 24s
Juniper watched as the feast was brought out and she looked to Taog, cocking her head curiously. She had no idea how the Dwarves knew about their run in with Mothra. Maybe they had been watching, this was their territory after all? She watched as Taog's face went totally blank and she looked bewildered, almost tempted to reach out and shake him but he seemed to have a handle on it himself. She watched as he was pulled from whatever place he had gone to and then was engaged into conversation by a dwarf and she smiled a little to herself before eyeing the drink placed in front of her. She looked at the liquid. It wasn't wine and she wrinkled her nose, it smelled bitter.
She looked over to see Tian and Mirriam watching and made a face but tried some of the liquid. The taste wasn't any better and she grimaced as she swallowed. She figured she would stick to the food for the most part, looking over the nuts and fruits, picking at a few.
"And what do you do with your pretty wings?" A dwarf sat on the other side of her and Juniper squinted at him, he was the Dwarf that had been guarding and she was very grateful he hadn't shot her down in the middle of the air. She looked to Taog and was unsure how to answer. Taog was evidently like a celebrity for downing a Council member and she didn't blame anyone. He had been so foolish to almost drown and kill himself in his passion. She cleared her throat, he deserved recognition and maybe this was what he needed to instil his confidence levels a little.
"Oh, you know, make friends and irritate my mentor." Juniper joked before looking around.
"Am I safe to grab some air?" She asked politely and the Dwarf grunted a nod,
"No stomach for proper ale then? Hah! Don't wander, you've never been a celebration like a Dwarven one." He chuckled and Juniper just nodded before taking her drink and heading out to see the city.
Juniper stood just out with the doors, looking out at the view. She had to admit, taking aside the cold which didn't seem too harsh in the homestead, the place was beautiful. She drew in a breath of cool air and she could hear singing starting, chanting and drums inside and she took another drink of the bitter alcohol, after the first swallow it wasn't so bad. She missed the Vale, she missed her friends and she wondered if everything would have been different if she hadn't ever been Chosen. She glanced back in at the festivities and she supposed the Dwarves didn't get any visitors so this was them showing off. Barut and the other leader seemed to be in deep conversation both of them looking grave.
Just curious, was it? Taog didn't like it either way. They were guided into a grand stone building, where benches were lined up. Tao let his eyes scan the room before taking in the Dwarves that were awaiting them. Had they been alerted somehow? It had to be. Then again, their procession into these halls wasn't exactly stealthy or anything. Barut was tense. Taog could tell by the muscles in his back going rigid.
One of the Dwarves spoke up to break the ice.
They were offered seats. Taog followed Juniper and sat down next to her. What exactly was it that made Barut this confident? When Barut looked over at them, Taog cocked his head in question. Surely not all of Barut's schemes revolved around them? There was Ren too. Ren, who now knew where the Dwarves were hidden. He wondered whether Tian and the others kept Ren under control using their herbal mixtures. Tian had only shown him two, after all. Maybe his powers had just triggered at the sight of Ren, not the other way around.
Tao wasn't sure.
"How did he know?" Taog whispered at Juniper.
Mothra's death was common knowledge here? Had they been watched by Dwarves from the moment they set foot on the base of the mountain? Visions welled up at the thought of that, but Taog didn't want them to distract this time. His gaze went blank for a few seconds before clearing back up again.
He shook his head.
Feast, the Dwarf said.
Food was brought out. Meat, nuts and berries. Rich foods, tarts and breads. Milk, cheese and drink. Not wine. Taog wasn't sure he'd indulge in wine again, so he was grateful it was something else. It was still unfamiliar however. His experiences with drink these days wasn't very good. The Vale, Council, Tian and Mirriam had fed him too many nasty things lately. Some of the Dwarves were looking at him expectantly however and Tian succumbed to the pressure. It wouldn't do to offend their hosts.
It wasn't actually that bad. A bit tingly on his tongue. The Dwarves nodded approvingly however and Taog wiped his mouth clear from the foam that had caught his lips. Conversations started between the people from Haven and the Dwarves. Curiosity was probably the main motivator. The Dwarves seemed happy to hear the latest news and evolutions in amongst the other races. Taog ate and a Dwarf came up, "so, I heard you're the slayer, ey?"
He chewed his food and smirked, a little embarrassed. Slayer?
"I guess," Taog said.
"Well done, boy. A rare gift, flames they are. Us Dwarves are more inclined to it than the other races, but even here we haven't had a flame-bearer in ages," he admitted. "'t is good, for forging, you see? The gift. Ay, but listen to me talk, Arewen is my name."
"Taog," he said. "How is it used for forging?"
"Curious, are you boy? Why, when metal is infused with flame, it is tempered and becomes stronger," Arewen ventured, passionately telling of his craft. More food was had, more drink too. Taog felt warm and relaxed, talking to the Dwarves, who seemed keen to learn of his gift. None seemed to care for his half-breed nature here.
/ THERE IS NO EXPLANATION OR REASON / Urizen
/ 9d 11h 17m 33s
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