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Nklos 11/20/2014 1:16 AM
-*Warms hands by the fire.*
Aluatris 10/31/2014 4:45 PM
Second: Creatively - charged bard in the house. Y'all just watch out ;)
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First: That was a beautiful tribute Vali. Thank you for sharing with us! :)
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Shared something that I've kept to myself for far too long...
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Happy Thanksgiving - I am thankful for having known you all. :)
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*sneaksneaksneak* *waves* *random tacklehugs* *flees*
Intayazz 8/8/2014 1:24 PM
Below the Charter, Calendar, Mail tabs
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In a tiny little bar above the forums, you should have the line of 'Forums: Search * Change Handle * Your Active Topics * Subscriptions * New Activity'
Karathinel 7/30/2014 3:25 AM
hrm.... Struggling to figure out how to change the character associated with the account, since only a couple of people ever met Kara. But this is Red / Spellfury.
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*wave* I realize I kind of vanished a year ago and it's likely no one really remembers any more, but I actually have a bit of time for gaming again and figured I would see what people are up to?
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*sneaks in, drops a wall of text, and runs away* :)
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aww... *hugs and cookies for zolt*
zoltando 3/20/2014 9:44 PM
ddo doesnt seem to want to work for me , curse you DDO!
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Test!? I'm so not prepared...
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*taps the mic* Test, test
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Forums : Your Characters' Story(s) > Xy's Conversations and Extra Bits
SickleYield (Applicant) 7/3/2011 1:07 PM EST : RE: X. Drunk
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Xymorel Trannyth limps home, scorched wicker basket clutched in one hand.  Her footsteps echo down the quiet street.  Most of King's Way is in bed right now.

She did not die tonight, but her eternal wand was not powerful enough to completely heal the wounds in her right leg.  It was savaged by a fiendish lion before she atomized the creature.  

Well, at least she accomplished her intended end.  It was a nice picnic beside the lava before the lions showed up.  Xymorel actually grins for a moment as she approaches the familiar door.  It would be nice to have someone to share it with, but one can't have everything.  Besides, there's something oddly personal in a sorcerer's affinity to her first element, and she doesn't feel quite comfortable talking to her sister Xyries about it.

Xymorel taps softly at the door, in case her sister is sleeping.

"It's Xymorel," she says.  She is busy trying to fumble her key out of a belt pouch when she hears the bolt shoot back.  The door opens to reveal her sister, clad in the plain brown robe she sometimes wears at home now.  Without her armor she seems even taller and thinner.  Xyries steps back to admit Xymorel, then shuts and locks the door behind her.  Xymorel is aware of her sister's scrutiny as she limps toward the kitchen.

"Wait," Xyries says.  "I will heal you."

Xymorel stops as her sister extends a hand toward her.

"Unyielding Sovereignty."

The sorcerer shudders as the healing charge hits.  The Sovereignty is powerful enough to unknit and reknit sinews that have healed poorly, at least for a day or so after it happens, but the process is not pleasant.  Xymorel leans in the kitchen doorway as she waits for the process to complete.  New nerves tingle oddly for a moment after the spell fades.

"Th-thank you," Xymorel says.  Xyries nods once and firmly.  

Then there is a snuffle from over past the table that occupies the center of the front room.  Xymorel drops the basket in the doorway and edges warily sideways, allowing herself an unencumbered view.

The mattress that is normally kept folded in the alcove under the stairs now lies spread out on the bare wood floor.   On top of it is a quilt, and underneath the quilt is -

"M-master Palerose?" Xymorel says in disbelief.  She stares from her sister to the apparently unconscious elf.  The quilt is pulled up to his shoulders, but one arm is flung carelessly up beside his head; he is obviously still wearing the day's robes.  His red hair has come undone and lies spread in a fan over the mattress.  A harness and belt are neatly laid out beside him.  Ondranar Palerose has always been fair of complexion, but there's a bright spot of color in each high cheekbone now.  His eyes are firmly shut.  There is definitely a smirk on the thin lips.  

"He will not hear you," Xyries says.  She folds her arms.  "He is drunk."

"Really?"  Xymorel steps closer, peering at the elf.  He does not move.  He is not snoring, but his breathing is definitely audible.  "Ye g-gods, I've never seen him drunk.  What happened?"

"I convinced him to accompany me to the Phoenix," Xyries says.  She walks over beside Xymorel.  Neither woman attempts to moderate her tone; an elf drunk enough to lose consciousness is not likely to be roused by voices.  "Quillarianna was there, and so was one of Arachan's sons.  Daisliv."  Xyries rubs the spot between her eyebrows.  "And Smudge.  There were others, but - "

"Right," says Xymorel.  "Th-those are the relevant ones.  He d-didn't handle it well, then."

"I thought he was doing rather well until Blinten and the dragon Aaliana arrived," Xyries says.

Xymorel considers this.  "Was D-daisliv still there at that point?"

"No, he left shortly after the arrival of a cleric of the Flame.  The family has some history with that church, I gather."

"He wouldn't g-get drunk in front of one of the old n-necromancer's sons," Xymorel says firmly.  "I d-don't know why but he seems to respect that f-family."

"Do you not? Well, in any case, it does not matter.  I had to assist him back here and he was quite insensible by the time we arrived."  Xyries purses her lips in remembered annoyance.  Xymorel reinterprets the last statement as and I had to carry him most of the way.  She stifles a giggle.  "You find this amusing?" Xyries asks coldly.

"I f-find it hilarious."  Xymorel pulls out a chair from the table and collapses into it, giving in to the bubbling laughter.  After a moment Xyries unbends, smiling herself.  It's not a long-lived expression - it very literally hurts her to smile - but it is sincere.  

"Not so loud," she says.  "You will wake Gruumal."

Xymorel attempts to stifle herself, and after a couple of hiccoughing attempts, succeeds.
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SickleYield (Applicant) 8/7/2011 4:49 PM EST : XI. Cookies And A Letter
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One week ago:


Evening has come in King's Way.  Everbrights glow from a few windows in addition to the flickering lights of wax candles and torches.  One or two of the area's oldest residents stand or sit on their doorsteps, smoking pipes and enjoying the cooler air.


There are few house numbers here.  These houses have addresses, technically speaking, but one generally has to find them by counting from the end of the block.  The sixth house on the right as you come from the Kundarak bank has no number, either.  Instead there is a symbol carved from pale wood, new and unvarnished, hung in the upper middle of the door.  It's a symbol of the Sovereign Host, three vertical lines crossed by a single horizontal one.  It is large enough to be seen from down the street, by eyes bleared from fatigue or injury.


This is, as a matter of fact, the topic of conversation inside the house.


"Where did you get it?" Xymorel Trannyth is asking.  "I've seen them in the M-market, but they were a lot more decorative."  Xymorel's health and general appearance have improved in recent weeks.  Now she just looks a little shaky, not the creature of bone and whipcord she was before.  She is proud of her ability to stand quite close to her elder sister Xyries, sharing the kitchen counter space as they work on a batch of chocolate cookies.  She keeps her black hair clipped closer now.  No matter what she does with it, it always wants to stick straight out.


"Thelydd carved it," says Xyries.  "I gather it took her some time.  I find I prefer the simpler design."  


She shoots an approving glance over at Xymorel's careful mashing of butter into sugar.  She nearly always wears a quilted robe inside the house now, leaving her armor for when it is necessary to go out about the Host's work elsewhere.  There is some resemblance between the two sisters, but where Xymorel's appearance tends to be wild - frayed robe, wide eyes, random objects shoved into her belt - Xyries is fanatically neat.  Her hair (also black) is always parted straight down the middle and cropped mannishly short.


"You would," Xymorel says.  "I haven't seen her in a while. What's she d-doing?"


"I would not presume to say," says Xyries primly.  She nods at the third person present.  Her fingers do not cease their rapid, mechanical movement as she chops nuts on a cutting board.  Unlike her sister, her hands never, never shake.  "I assume you have not met Thelydd, Bearer.  Should you see a white-haired halfling lurking about, it is probably her."  Xyries raises a thin black brow.  "In which case she probably wishes to be seen, I might add."


Bearer nods.  The warforged stands holding the flour bin in her big padded hands, watching the two humans.  It is never very easy to read a construct's expression, and Bearer has eyes like green glass marbles, but her general posture suggests stolid contentment.  Xyries approves of the delicacy with which she moves about the kitchen.  The construct is both shorter and wider than most warforged, but she has neither broken nor knocked over anything yet.  She looks particularly at home amid the kitchen's simple wooden and cream-colored fittings.  Most of her body's woven surface is eggshell or buttery in color.  


"This person is known to all of you?" she asks.  A construct's body is essentially sexless, or even masculine looking, given the usual breadth of their shoulders.  It is Bearer's voice, a high, sweet soprano, that tends to solidify her preferred gender in the human mind.


"I'm not sure she is exactly known to anyone," Xyries says.  "I have been acquainted with her since before Xymorel came to Stormreach."


"Xyries healed her one time," Xymorel says.  "And she sort of adopted us.  Does this l-look right?"  She holds out the bowl for inspection.  Bearer nods.


"Very good, young miss.  We will add the salt and spices next, then the flour."


"Er."  Xymorel looks from her own twitchy hands to the little spoons used to measure out the cocoa and baking powder.  "Xyries, d-do you want to do that?"


"No, Xymorel," says her sister firmly.  "You will do fine."  She picks up the teaspoon and places it firmly in front of her younger sister.


Xymorel mutters under her breath, but she picks up the utensil.


"All right, B-bearer.  How much?"


The warforged recites the proportions without hesitation, ending with,


"And one half-teaspoon cream of tartar.  It adds a subtle textural element that I find is usually appreciated."


Xymorel, tongue between her teeth, measures out the white powder into the bowl.  There is a light dusting of mixed substances on the countertop around it, but she has managed not to spill much.  


Xyries smiles.  The inevitable stab of headache is less than it has ever been.  Perhaps one day soon it will be gone.  She watches as Bearer measures out the flour.  Xymorel stirs with her usual jerky movement, resulting in a small cloud of flour above the bowl.


"I'm surprised Xyries even has c-cream of tartar," Xymorel says.  "Nuts?"


Xyries carefully tips the nuts into the bowl as Xymorel sets it on the counter.  "I think Terry bought it while he was still staying here, actually," she says.


"Aha."  Xymorel surveys their handiwork, a bowl full of
chocolate-dark dough.  "How's that?"


"Excellent," says Bearer.  To Xyries' relief, she accepted immediately that she cannot casually pat Xymorel, but there is a great deal of benevolent approval in the construct's voice.  "Now we will form it into small spheres and put them on the cookie sheet.  With your permission, I will separate some of the dough into another bowl and help with this part."


"All right," Xymorel says.


Xyries turns to open the oven door and peer inside.  The everwarmers inside seem to have reached the desired temperature.  "I would like to send some of these over to Terry and Sentacer," she says.


"I thought you were g-going to be re-warding the house," Xymorel says.  "Ondranar must be n-nearly done with his part now."  The sound of distant chanting is no longer audible from the roof, at least.


"Which is why I said send, not take," Xyries says.  "In fact, I think that I will send Master Palerose.  Bearer can then heal anyone who should arrive at the door in need of first aid, and I will not have to pause.  Is this acceptable, Bearer?"


"Of course," Bearer says.


"And I'll s-stand guard?" Xymorel says helpfully.


"And you will stand guard," Xyries confirms. "He will of course be fatigued, but I am sure he can make it to Terry's house and back."


She holds the oven door open while the warforged slides in the cookie sheet.


"They will need to bake for eleven minutes," Bearer says.


"I always leave things in too long," Xymorel says apologetically.


The warforged nods calmly.  "Not to worry, young miss," she says.  "I have a very accurate sense of time."


---


Now:


The drow Shurjra Baen'rett walks lightly up the steps of the walk-up apartment.  Vines twine up and down the stuccoed walls of the building, their broad leaves casting odd shadows in the early evening light.  Shurjra's dark gray complexion blends well with the shadows, and she keeps her mithril chain blacked to enhance this effect.  No neighbor will remember seeing her here.


She has not seen the wizard Quindros Xydorith in more than a day now.  This in and of itself is not unusual.  It's odder that he has not written to suggest another day's employment for them both.  It's his turn, after all.  He seemed to be looking forward to it the last time they spoke.


She spots the paper stuck under the door almost immediately.  Shurjra pauses to listen before she touches it.  There is no breathing thing inside the room.  A quick survey through the keyhole with a tiny mirror from her belt finds no visible occupant, either.  The bed is made, the small rubbish bin is empty, and the closet stands open and empty as well.  Shurjra tucks away her mirror with a sinking feeling in her gut.  That doesn't stop her from putting on gloves before she reaches for the paper.  It is folded very neatly in half, no signs of panic or hurry.


Shurjra hops over the rail and drops down behind the stairwell, landing easily on her feet.  There's a little dark space back here, next to a rubbish heap consisting of mostly potato peelings (the landlady's, she assumes; Quindros's apartment has no kitchen).  The ground is graveled.  The approach of an enemy from anywhere but above will be detectable instantly.  She squats with her back to the wall and unfolds the paper.

The hand is certainly Quindros's, legible but inconsistent.  He is no calligrapher.


Dear Shurjra,

I think it's better that we not continue to work together. 



"What?" she hisses.  


I think I know you well enough to say you're going to be angry, so let me assure you this is no slur on your professional competence.  I have the greatest respect for your abilities.  Whoever I work with in future, I don't expect they will be your equal.


Shurjra finds she is not at all mollified by this.  It is very like Quindros to assume she will be, however.  Her dark complexion darkens further as she reads on, blood rising hot to her face.


The trouble is that I find I'm growing more attached to you than is appropriate for a human in company with a drow. This is far beyond just noticing that you're attractive (though gods only know that's true as well). I want to be where you are, to fight beside you, to learn and change and grow with you for as long as I live.


I know you can't feel the same way.  I can't even tell myself that you should.  So I think it's best I bring things to a close now, before I do anything to make myself look a greater fool than I already must.


I don't plan to come back to the Phoenix.  I hope you'll forgive me for saying it would just be too difficult to see you there.  At this point I would offer my future services if you are ever truly in need, but in good conscience I can't even do that.  You are surrounded by the wealthy, the wise and the skilled.  There is nothing I could possibly offer you that they cannot.


Veldros sends his regards as well.  I know he enjoyed your conversations.


With all wishes for your future health and happiness,


Quindros Xydorith



The shadow twin has signed his name below his brother's.  The handwriting is more pointed and slants harder to one side, with a sharp little slash over the i.


Shurjra turns the page over in her hands a couple of times.  Then she reads it again.  Nothing has changed.


I did not know.  She folds the note very carefully and tucks it into the top of her tunic as she stands up.  It will not do to stay here, but she needs time to think and to consider this.  Shurjra turns to run lightly from shadow to shadow up the cool street.  It's very easy at this time of day, and the Phoenix is not so very far off.


She remembers Quindros joking on the first day they met, about being a lonely man in the presence of a pretty woman.  That was all it seemed to be, joking.  In his own odd way he is a social being, more so than Shurjra has ever been.  She supposed it was simply a way to deal with the embarrassment of a difficult situation.  And then they went out to seek treasure and employment again together, because each knew the other could be trusted when their back was turned, and again because by the third time it was so seamless that it seemed inevitable.  


By the time things actually went wrong on a job, it didn't even occur to her to hesitate.  Quindros was wounded and out of power again, limping as he tried to avoid magic missiles.  So she chased a Quickfoot mage out onto a ceiling beam, and thought it a job well done when he fell with her; and then she heard the call from Dolurrh once more and came back to find the wizard - her wizard - standing beside her at the cleric's home.


The Elder was there that day. Quindros said he teleported us both to the Chorster house.


Shurjra frowns, silently vaulting a rain barrel, as her thoughts turn down another track.  Quindros did not behave as if he intended to leave the last time she saw him.  Something has happened between then and now.


The letter's bitter words seem branded across her memory now.


You are surrounded by the wealthy, the wise and the skilled.  There is nothing I could possibly offer you that they cannot.


The missive contained no words of blame.  It would be unlike Quindros if there were.  But if there is anyone who might convince him to leave her forever, to abandon all hope of requital when she has never -


That is the trouble.  She has never discouraged him from joining her at work, or even at the Phoenix, but neither has she encouraged him to believe anything more is possible.  Shurjra snarls in frustration, white teeth visible for one instant in the gathering dark before she regains control of her facial expression.


She slows as she approaches the tavern, then turns aside to scale a fallen pillar of giantish design.  There are deep shadows at the plinth end.  She seats herself there, one leg dangling down the curve of the structure, and is still.


She did not realize what was happening before.  She never loved another person in any way before she met her adoptive family, and she has never known what it is to love a man at all.  Sex, yes.  That was weapon and coin for her Master before she was free of the Banelord's thrall, the very implication a means to weaken and distract those whom she intended to betray.  But love?  It is a concept so fraught and so complicated that even those of more normal upbringing struggle to explain it.  The letter now hidden nearest her heart talks about it without ever using the word.


Well. Now that it is perhaps too late, she understands.  It is absolutely imperative that she keep a very close eye on her wizard for the rest of his natural life.  It's not as if Veldros can supervise him all by himself.  Look what he's let happen.  She does not shy away from the thought of how very short that life will undoubtedly be.  To have him and lose him in fifty years seems infinitely better than to have lost him already, forever, now.


It is not too late.  I will find him, she resolves silently.  And if I cannot, I will find one who can.


Shurjra slides down the pillar and lands on her feet, entirely composed now that her decision is made, and turns to pad softly into the tavern.
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SickleYield (Applicant) 9/12/2011 5:29 AM EST : XII. Comfort
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The construct who thinks of herself as Bearer walks slowly up the street that is locally called King's Way.  She knows her way to the house with the plain wood symbol of the Host on the door.  It is very late now, and the area's working families have all gone to bed.  One or two insomniacs still show everbrights in their high windows, spilling orange-red light out onto the cobbles.  The stocky warforged walks straight through light and shadow without much heed to either, muting her big two-toed feet as best she can to avoid waking anyone.


Bearer is built differently from most constructs.  She is about six feet high, and wide for that height.  Most of her body is covered with quilted padding in the butter-and-eggshell color scheme that once suited her for an Aereni family's nursery.  It seems a little incongruous with the greatsword she wears strapped to her back.  Now her posture is discouraged, broad shoulders slumping as she approaches the familiar door and raises a hand to knock.


"Wait, old thing," says a voice from above.  Bearer looks up to see an elf's head silhouetted against the night sky, crimson hair forming a halo against the lights of an airship far overhead.


"Hello again, young sir," says Bearer.  She knows Ondranar's names - all of them - but she has to remind herself to use them, and at the moment she is tired and unhappy.


The elf tilts his head alertly, seeing that something is wrong, and then vanishes from view.  A few moments later, the door opens.  Bearer steps inside.  It's mostly dark in the front room now, with its soothing blue walls and the new wing chairs.  The alcove under the stairs is empty.  Xymorel sleeps upstairs now, curled up against Treycen Bradshaw until the day they find the house-for-hire that will satisfy both them and the young man's three children.  Xyries Chorster is already upstairs for the night, sleeping the sleep of the truly exhausted.  Bearer is sure of this without checking, and that makes her a little sad also as she listens to Ondranar drawing the deadbolt behind her.


"Whatever has happened, old dear?  You look as if you've been to a funeral," Ondranar says.  He is wearing a dark green robe today, with a black sash and a matching ribbon braided into his hair.  He lays a hand on Bearer's arm, offering comfort and reassurance.  She holds her arms open.


"I would like to be hugged, please," she says, pitching her high, sweet voice low enough not to disturb anyone upstairs.  Ondranar wraps his arms as far around her waist as they will go, pressing a high-boned cheek to her front padding.  He is not tall even for an elf, a full head shorter than Bearer.  She folds both arms around him in turn, careful as she is always careful, and holds on.  Bearer does not have the anatomical features necessary to weep.  Instead she just stands there for a while, holding and being held.


"Poor thing," Ondranar says.  He leans back a little, looking at her turtle-beak of a mouth and the eyes like green glass marbles.  There is no light in them right now.  They look dull.  "I don't know that I've seen you looking so glum since you first came and found me here.  Are you all right?"


"Tonight I spoke to a person who is very sick," Bearer says.  "He is dying.  And he was hurting terribly, and he was angry and afraid.  He let me try to comfort him, but it made him feel worse.  He had to try so very hard not to hurt me."


"Oh, Bearer."  Ondranar squeezes harder.  "I am so terribly sorry.  You couldn't do anything for him?"


"No," Bearer says sadly.  "His illness is not of the type that I can heal, and he did not wish to see the cleric."  She does not bother explaining that the half-elf whom the others call Reuken would damage both her and himself if she tried to bring him against his will.  It is irrelevant, because Bearer would never do that with a person not completely and visibly insane.


"Then this is a terrible thing, and you are right to be sad.  Anyone should be.  But you are home now, and among people who love you, and everything will be all right.  Do you understand me, old dear?  This is the place where things are all right."  Ondranar steps back a little, letting go so that he can capture one great three-fingered hand with his small smooth ones.  "It wasn't Simon, was it? I know he considers you a friend of sorts."


"No," Bearer says.  "Simon is all right, as much as Simon can be.  I do not think this person would want me to tell you.   It was hard for him to tell it to me."


"Oh."  Ondranar reaches up and unashamedly pats a cheek made of a smooth stuff something like wood and something like metal.  "Well, never mind.  Perhaps we will find a way to convince him.  Meantime, you come up with me."


"Thank you, young sir," Bearer says, and allows herself to be led by the hand up to the roof.  There she has to duck and crawl to get into the green-walled tent where Ondranar generally rests.  The air is thick with arcane power here, permanently impressed with the subtle and complex aura of a powerful illusionist.  A paper dragon that hangs from the top support whirls in a draft.   Bearer settles crosslegged on the cloth floor.  Ondranar drags over most of the tent's supply of brocaded pillows (there are a surprising number) and props them up around her, piling some in her lap.  Then he settles with his back against her right side, letting her wrap one arm around him.  It is a thing she remembers from when he was much smaller even than he now is, when he was often ill and had trouble resting - too old for a lap, not yet ready to be alone.


"Now just be still," he tells her firmly.  "I know that you no longer require it, but I give you leave nonetheless."


"Thank you," Bearer says again.  "Is there a time when you wish me to wake you, young sir?"


"Definitely not before sunrise," says Ondranar Palerose.  He pats the nearest padded surface and folds his manicured hands neatly in his lap.  Bearer can feel rather than hear it as his breathing grows more regular, a gentle, familiar thing.  She does not sleep - she never does - but it is a tremendous comfort just to listen and be still, holding on to something healthy and familiar and safe.


And the night wears on, and the sun comes up.
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SickleYield (Applicant) 10/6/2011 5:04 PM EST : XIII. Sunrise Underground
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Quindros Xydorith wakes slowly, as he often does.


He grew up in a comparatively safe place. His own parents, uneasy as they sometimes were with the knowledge of what he is, would never have harmed him as he slept. Even as an adventurer, he has always had his tireless brother to keep watch; and, while he will wake completely and suddenly at the right words in the right tone, there has been no such warning this morning. Right now he is aware only of the warm pile of quilts and sheets, the soft pillow against his clean-shaven cheek, and the firm warmth of another, smaller body curled up tightly against his spine. Sleeping nude might seem romantic, but down here and at this waning time of the year, it's too cold. Both of them have linens on.



After a moment he recognizes the feeling of something light and elastic against his face, like a cobweb. His brother Veldros is presently in his most corporeal phase, light as air and hard as armor to the edge of any weapon. Quindros moves fractionally, verifying that the shadow twin is also stretched around the other person in the bed with him. He evidently is. Quindros feels him stretch and adjust around Shurjra as she uncurls and turns to insinuate herself in closer so that she can whisper in his ear. The mass of white hair that is normally bound up slides silkily around her, brushing his skin as it mingles with his own loose dark hair.



“Awake, wizard?”



“Hrmph,” Quindros says, and rolls carefully onto his back so that he can kiss her on the cheek. “Getting there. Did you rest?”



He feels her nod against his shoulder. Quindros drags his arm away from his side, tucking it around the drow carefully. He is a middle-sized man, but beside Shurjra he always feels enormous. He blinks his eyes open. One everbright lights the laboratory now, showing him a dim, red view of the stone ceiling. It curves down into a mossy wall beside the iron bedstead without the intervention of a corner. This sizable cul-de-sac was not originally built as a residence, but as a maintenance area for a section of sewer tunnel that is now disused. Quindros sleepily recalls the hours of work it took to get the smell out.



A thin area of membrane vibrates near Quindros's ear.



“HhhI will ghho and read?” Veldros offers helpfully, a ghost of a whispered voice. There is a pile of books on the empty crate that serves as a nightstand, and a comfortable rocking chair a few feet away, always facing away from the bed. The compromise that conjoined twins have used since the beginning of time is made that much easier by the fact that the umbilical that connects the daelkyr half-blood with his shadow twin can stretch nearly ten feet.



He can feel Shurjra quickly shaking her head. Veldros makes a soothing noise, a gentle static not-quite-purr that Quindros never heard him make before they met Shurjra Baen'rett. Quindros gives her a reassuring squeeze.



“I think we'll just stay here for a minute,” he says. “Shall we do that, rogue?”



Nod.



Quindros pulls the covers up more securely around both of them as he glances around the laboratory. The cul-de-sac is spacious, but the ceiling is low. Everything is as he left it when he crawled into bed last night: the little dining table and chairs on the bright rag rug; the everbright stove they fixed together after they found it mouldering down another tunnel; the sink with its tangle of plumbing covered by a curtain around the base; the other curtained enclosure that holds the little shower and sanitary facilities they spent so much time and care plumbing in; and the yards of mismatched benches and shelves that a wizard needs for research and practice.



The curtains are made of gray cotton with a minimal floral print. Shurjra chose them, the most domestic thing he's ever seen her do. She brought the weapon racks that stand near the bed, and the mats and the target that she uses for her own sort of practice. Quindros did not ask where from.


One small round door is the only access to this place. There was one other, but it is now choked with stone and rubble, left open just enough to admit the free flow of air. Traps and wards cocoon the space, within and in the surrounding tunnels. It is the safest a wizard and a rogue together could make it.


And Shurjra has not left it in almost a week. Before that there was just the one visit to the Phoenix. She has not wanted to go anywhere since the wizard Caladhain forced her to steal a helm from the home of the cleric Xyries Chorster. No evil person could enter the cleric's house. Shurjra could. Caladhain lay in wait for her outside the laboratory's entrance and ensnared her with the spell Dominate Person. Afterward he simply left her on the cleric's rooftop. He did not care who knew what he had done. And Shurjra confessed all that she had done to the cleric, fled silently back to this safe haven, and has not left without Quindros and Veldros since then.




That is not like her. Quindros has never claimed the right to know where she is all of the time, but he has always known what sort of work Shurjra does when she is out alone. They work together more than alone now, and he has always urged that for that very reason. She argued at first that she was just as safe on her own, but even someone very stubborn has to acknowledge that while a good assassin can command a high price, a rogue and a wizard can sometimes earn even more together.




Practical considerations are more apt to persuade her than emotional ones in every area except one. Quindros has always known this. He doesn't know quite why he and Veldros are the exception. He has been afraid to ask, afraid that if he looked at the thing too closely it might disappear. It's not a rational thought, but it's there. It's there even in the very sane moments like this one, when he is fully rested and his eyes see nothing that isn't really there.




And now his rogue, the person whom he has seen run out onto a ceiling beam with just a knife in her hand to get at an enemy mage, this person will not leave the laboratory without him, will not voluntarily let him out of her sight.



Shurjra,” Quindros says, into the top of her hair. “I need to say something.”



Nod.



This thing that happened, that Caladhain did. It didn't seem like it upset you that much when you were captured the first time.”



Firm head shake.



Why was this so much worse? He didn't chain you up or make you wear the helm.”



Shurjra is silent, but Quindros can feel her tensing up beside him. He rubs her shoulder, trying to soothe her. Veldros makes that sound again:
Vrrrlrrrrlrrrrl.

“Before he waited in ambush,” she says into Quindro's ear. “Used poison and a dagger. It was the sort of attack I would expect from a colleague.” A small hand with hard fingers kneads at the flesh of his upper arm, as if reassuring herself that he is there. “This time he was inside my mind.” Shurjra's voice drops to a hiss of furious loathing, but Quindros is listening. He can hear the undercurrent of fear. “I fought him but I could not disobey him.” He feels the quilts shift, and he knows she is reaching up to touch the chafe scars at her throat, where the Collar of the Fanatic once rested.



“Kshhhhbasstard,” says Veldros.



“You mean like before,” Quindros says. That ugly thought has occurred to him. He did not know Shurjra while she was the Banelord's thrall. Arachan d'Lartil saved her from that, broke the Collar and freed her and welcomed her into his family. It is the only truly kind act Quindros has ever heard of Arachan performing, but then, an unwanted son-in-law is not apt to see a father at his best.



Nod.



Quindros gives her another squeeze. “They've caught him, remember. He'll never do it again.”



“But they will try to cure him,” Shurjra says, her voice barely audible. “And then they will let him go.”



“Only if they succeed,” Quindros says. “You know the cleric. Would she be part of this if they were going to just turn him loose to do what he used to do?”



He feels Shurjra shake her head again.



“She is not a subtle woman, wizard. She might be deceived.”



“We won't be,” Quindros says. Veldros adds his assent, a vibrating hiss of dire promise.



“Wizard,” Shurjra whispers, shivering once. “He is more powerful than you are. He is almost like the Elder. I am no mage, but I can tell this. He would demolish your wards like a strong man does cobwebs.”



“He won't hurt you again,” Quindros says. “He won't be allowed to.”



There's a derisive snort from Shurjra, almost immediately echoed by another one from Veldros. Quindros is opening his mouth to expound further on this theme when he realizes what that means.



“You're not afraid he'll hurt you,” he says. “You're afraid he'll hurt me.”



Nod.



Quindros rolls over to face her, gathering her in close. Shurjra relaxes just a little, encircled by familiar arms and a familiar aura and the thin, diaphanous armor that is Veldros.



“Shurjra,” Quindros says quietly. “My very own rogue. There is no wizard, however powerful, who can remain in contact with my mind long enough to give orders. Do you remember what happened when you tried to talk to me through your father's crystal ball? Did you think that was because you aren't a wizard?”



Nod.



“Well, it isn't. The same thing will happen to anyone, arcane or psion, who tries to make that kind of contact with me. I can't help it. Veldros, either. We are wombwarped. We will always be of unbalanced mind.”



Shurjra winds her arms around him and squeezes hard. Quindros woofs in comical protest as he hugs carefully back.



“Easy! I still have to breathe, you know.”



“You relieve me, wizard,” Shurjra says.



“Good. And you're probably the only person who would ever feel that way about being told I'm basically insane and always will be, rogue. Breakfast?”




“Yes,” Shurjra says. She tucks her head against Quindros's chest for a second, reaching up to tangle her hand in his dark hair. “But first I want Veldros to go and read a book for a while.”

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SickleYield (Applicant) 11/10/2011 7:05 PM EST : XIV. Departure and Arrival
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I. Departure

The caravan is nearly ready to set out. It's not very impressive, as caravans go. There are a couple of wagons pulled by mules, one by a couple of grumbling hired ogres, and two pulled by hill giants. The giants stand placid in their traces, looking around incuriously at the travelers who go on foot. There is a human girl on the shoulder of each, whispering in their ear, the employee of some clever local entrepreneur (as the giants are themselves). It is early morning, humid but not yet hot, and the little group stretches out over a few yards of ground outside the Southernmost gate of the city of Stormreach. A dusty road winds off into the green jungle ahead. Colorful butterflies flit here and there even at this waning time of year. It's never really winter in this part of the continent, not until Risia lies very near this plane.

Ondranar Valaesyri, sometimes called Palerose, stands beside a giant's foot with his knapsack on his back. Gray-white almond eyes survey his fellow travelers sideways, never directly. Most look like the more desperate sort of tinkers and peddlers; only the most prosperous have more goods than they can carry on their backs, and these have presumably rented space in the wagons for what they are bringing. One or two glance at the elf with amusement or curiosity. He is dressed more conservatively than is his wont, in leather harness and shoes and cotton traveling robes. It's the pale green color of the robes and the floral embroidery on all of the above that probably draws the eye. The ribbon that secures his tail of crimson hair matches the fabric. A pair of dull steel rings hang from his pointed ears, swinging slightly as he looks around.


There are guards, of course. They are freelance, because that's what the merchants who chipped in for them were willing to pay for. Ondranar Palerose recognizes some as ex-Deneith mercenaries, hardbitten human men with flesh like tanned leather and quick, sharp eyes. They are not young. Probably they retired out of the House and just went on working, needing to pay their bills and not ready to spend their golden years fishing or gardening. There is an alert drow sorcerer whose very aspect breathes fire, smoke rising occasionally from his fingers as he stalks around the perimeter of the caravan. He wears no symbol of Vulkoor, but that is not surprising. They are traveling toward Sulatar territory, and Ondranar suspects he is of that tribe himself.


There is a single halfling among the caravan's guards. The body inside the dark, fitted leather armor is undoubtedly female, albeit sturdy and hard-muscled, but there's not much else to be told under the spike-topped helmet that surmounts her head with a crown of spines. A pair of greatswords are strapped high up on her shoulders, one ordinary weapon and one seething with frost. She is looking around at the caravan, trying to see; she is tall for a halfling female, but that only puts her at about three and a half feet, nearly two feet shorter than Ondranar. As he watches she gathers herself and bounds straight up, easily clearing the nearest human's height. She has plenty of time to look around on her way back down. She doesn't fall very quickly, suggesting she has at least been prosperous enough to purchase herself a pair of feather falling boots. The other mercenaries pay her no mind. It's obviously not the first time she's done it.


The master of the caravan, deputy of the small merchant cartel responsible for organizing all of this, is taking a final turn around the caravan, making sure everything is ready. She looks more akin to the mercenaries than to the travelers, a dwarf with darkly tanned skin and narrow little eyes. She wears a long chain shirt over her robes. There are axes on her back as she passes Ondranar, long braid twitching down her broad back. It occurs to the elf to wonder what sort of dwarf a Sulatar would voluntarily trade with more than once. He watches with interest as she strides back up to the front. Most dwarves have that same short-legged rolling gait. Not many have that air of absolute self-assurance, of blusterless certainty. She looks exactly the sort of person you want to see in front of you on your way into a jungle full of hostile beasts and men.


There's a harsh call from up front. Wheels start turning. Ondranar adjusts the satchel at his hip one more time - it won't do to have his spellbook chafing him over the long day's walk - and starts off as the giant foot beside him lifts off the ground.


The halfling mercenary ends up trotting along beside him, looking around alertly at the foliage as they move down the road. A tail of brown hair sticks out from under the helm in back. All he can see of her face is an occasional glimpse of a large, limpid brown eye in a face full of scars. At one point she glances up at him.


"Are you a wizard?" she asks. She has the kind of voice one expects from a halfling female, high-pitched and cheerful.


"Beg pardon?" says Ondranar.


"I said, are you a wizard? You got one of those big books, an' sorks don't carry those. And you got no armor on and I don't see any weapons."


"Several people here have no weapons, Miss," Ondranar points out mildly.


"Hee! I'm not a miss, I'm a barb. I'm Gracenys. And yeah, but not all of 'em walk like they oughta be carrying. You do. Slinky."


"Very astute of you." Ondranar grins down at the halfling. He sees a flash of teeth behind the helmet's grille as she grins back. "I have a pair of rapiers, but I generally store them elsewhere until I wish to summon them. Blades are not my first recourse."


"Ha, see, I knew it," Gracenys says. "What's your name, Mister Wizard? I mean, not like I'm gonna remember it, I'm real bad with names, but we're gonna be walking for a few days and I figure I'll probably pick it up sooner or later."


"My name is Ondranar, and I am very pleased to meet you, Gracenys." Ondranar sweeps a decorative bow highly inappropriate to their surroundings, then scampers a few steps to catch up to the hill giant and avoid the wheel of the cart he is pulling. He hears the barbarian's high-pitched giggle.


"I'm going to like you," she says cheerfully. "You're funny. I like people that are funny. Especially on long walks, which are kinda boring. I been on this run a couple times, you know. To wherezitsname, Ob - ?"


"Obsidian City," Ondranar supplies helpfully.


"Right, there. We don't get attacked by stuff all that often." She looks around at the jungle again. "If we do, you stay on that side of me, okay? I'm fine with people shooting stuff over my head, but it's easier to tell who I oughta hit and who not that way."


"So noted," Ondranar says.


"Great! I can tell we're going to be friends!" Gracenys gives a little hop as she trots along. It's a short one. It only raises her to Ondranar's eye level. "How come you're going to Ob - Orb - where we're going? You don't look like you have stuff to sell."


Ondranar smiles back. At least it looks to be an entertaining trip.


"I have not," he says. "I hope to find a place to set up a second home."


"What, around a bunch of drow who worship fire? You tired of living?" The halfling turns and peers worriedly up at him. There is certainly nothing in Ondranar's appearance to suggest this, but he doubts the halfling would perceive it if there were.


"No, no." Ondranar waves a slender hand. "I will leave the caravan at Obsidian City and press on into the jungle. There are ample ruins throughout the continent, land that belongs to no one. I hope to find some tower intact and unoccupied. I need some time to think and study."


"You can do those things in Stormreach, can't you?" Gracenys asks. The spiked helmet pivots as she turns to look around again.


"I could, Gracenys, but Stormreach is a very populous place and I presently require solitude."


"Oh. Okay." Ondranar is not completely sure she recognizes the word
solitude, but if not, she is apparently able to guess from the context. "You want me to stop talking, then?"


"Not in the least," Ondranar assures her. "We will be in Obsidian City soon enough. Talk as much as you like."


"Ha, see, I knew I was gonna like you," Gracenys says.


The caravan winds on into the jungle, leaving behind a little cloud of dust.



II. Arrival


The airship has been in the air for days now. It is a sizable craft, reasonably well-appointed but not luxurious, with a big enough hold for a small cargo and enough snug cabins to carry ten passengers plus its crew comfortably.


Provided no one is claustrophobic, that is. Keterexia Aradren Sinismont, only daughter and second child of the house that rules that rich and insular little city at the base of Breland's Graywall mountains, spends much of her time wandering abovedecks. She is closest to her native element here, to the air that winds through her corporeal body with a presence more substantial than flesh, and she has trouble sleeping below. The imprisoned elemental that powers the ship is not suffering, is probably barely conscious in the human sense - she tells herself this firmly - but she can feel it revolving within its constraints. It saws at her nerves. So she walks, pacing to and fro on the deck, quiet booted feet on the wooden boards.


She stayed in Sinismont for weeks and weeks. That may not be long enough to explain her blue-black hair growing down to her jaw. But that is hardly strange compared to the other changes, the ones not visible to the naked eye. Dren (she has always thought of herself as Dren) is largely at peace with the blood of the great wyrm that flows in the veins of every son and daughter of Sinismont. This was not the case when she came to her brother, weary and uncertain of herself and in constant, painful flux. The birthright of air came to her late in life. She can only be glad this tiresome second adolescence is now over. The fact remains that, grateful as she has been to Frin, she could not stay. Her widowed stepmother seems to have him well in hand, and Dren is confident that the two of them will be making a truly scandalous announcement any day now.


While she was away from Sinismont, she missed it. When she was away from Stormreach, she found that she missed it even more. Her city of birth is largely a human community, without the amazing variety of species and peoples that coexist in Xen'drik. And, while a singleton of noble birth and good fortune is apt to receive the attentions of the opposite sex, she could not interest herself even a little in the hidebound sons of her late father's friends and colleagues. One could not possibly suppose them interested in her for her own sake.


Dren has a handsome enough face for normal purposes - that's the word people usually use of that curved beak of a nose and determined chin, handsome - and a trim enough figure. But she is thirty and two now, and scarred, and to see younger and fresher creatures passed over because they are less rich brings her no pleasure. To wed a noble of Sinismont is to doom one's self to the life they lead, the pliable dagger of sharp words, the subtle negotiations that pass in notes and glances. Dren is not, at bottom, a subtle woman. She has never been at home in that world.


She revolves these things as she walks. Sometimes the wind blows her hair about, and sometimes it seems to move when there is no wind at all. Other passengers see her there, straight-backed and brisk in her woolen robe and leather tabard, and some take her for a guard or crewman. Therefore it is not altogether surprising when a balding man in a linen tunic comes sprinting up from the hold, red-faced, and makes a beeline for the compact human in her practical boots.


"Beg pardon, Ma'am, but the golem's loose, Ma'am, and I don't know what'll happen."


Dren turns to look sharply at the worried man. "Loose? It wasn't in restraints, Sir. Has the mage lost his hold on it?"


"He must've! I don't know. I think he might be dead. He wasn't looking good. I scarpered as soon as I saw him. It took a swing at me, missed by a hair. I don't know how long it'll stay down the hold, Ma'am. I'm just a steward! Can't you help?"


Dren appears expressionless as she considers this. If the man notices the hem of her robe stirring, he probably doesn't connect that with the total lack of breeze around them.


"I'm no wizard," she says after a moment. "I might be able to put the thing down, but I can't command it. Isn't there an artificer or anyone of the sort on board?"


The man shakes his head vigorously, producing a quiver of jowls.


"Merchants and musicians. There's a bard, but he says he can't do anything with it. Hurry, won't you? It was smashing crates."


Dren sighs. "All right, then. Show me the hold, Sir. I'll see what I can do."


The man leads her to a door and a short stair. Dren hears it click firmly shut behind her as she starts down. A few everbrights on the walls provide a warm, steady light. The stair is narrow, meant to provide access only to people. There will be a larger hatch in the outer hull for loading goods.


She hears the sound of wood splintering as she reaches the bottom. The hold is just about big enough to hold a dance for five couples, provided they all get along well and the band isn't too large. It is mostly filled with crates and barrels, or it was. Now they are thrown about, some smashed to splinters, their contents scattered. Bales of silk and velvet are draped among the ruins and stained with spilled beer. Grains crunch underfoot.


In the midst of all this chaos stands a ten-foot humanoid form made of dull clay, stamping at a barrel-hoop with an enormous, roughly-formed foot. The golem's body is rounded and nearly featureless, just a few surface carvings suggesting a rough undergarment and wrist decorations. The proportions are almost toddlerish, thicker than an adult human or elf. It turns its earless head at the sound of Dren's approach. Fires burn in the round sockets. A lipless mouth gapes as it emits a rumbling growl.


"Do you understand me?" Dren asks. It's just possible that the thing is sentient, that its seemingly mindless fury has real and justifiable cause. She knows that constructs have been known to spontaneously acquire consciousness. But the golem shows no sign of having understood. It rumbles again as it turns toward her, abandoning its careless destruction to focus on a more interesting target.


"If you don't attack, I won't harm you," she says, trying once more. The golem's only response is a flail of a fist bigger than Dren's head. She ducks just in time as it whistles over her head. Then she steps inside its grip, lays both hands on the thing's enormous body. There are no magic words, no symbolic gestures. There is only the lightning bound and then let go. Lines of white light crackle and dance over the golem's body.


There is a stink of burning and a sound of cracking clay. The golem's roar shakes the floorboards. Dren tries to avoid the flailing fists again, but this time she feels the stunning impact as a shard-studded fist catches her left arm and side. She is aware of her feet leaving the ground, and then of the pain. Dren clenches her teeth around a gasp as she hits the top of her arc and starts to fall downward toward a splintered pile of wood. This might be the end of it for a normal person, but Dren drifts downward with dreamlike, feathery slowness, as if she has no weight. She has not been able to fall since before she ever left Stormreach the first time. She twists away from the wreck and has her feet under her in time to see the golem start to turn. Bits of it are cracking and falling away. Even the weakest release of her energies can hurt a thing made of earth, of the element opposite hers.


Which is a mercy, because I can't let go a real lightning bolt in an airship made of wood. She can think through the pain. Once a soldier, she is not automatically weakened and horrified by the awareness of her own blood staining her clothing.


The golem swings again. This time the movement sends it off balance. Dren actually feels the airship tilt as the construct thuds to one massive knee. She darts in to seize the nearest massive arm, seeing her opportunity, and lets go the power again.


The golem's growl turns into a high, weak whine. Then it collapses into powdery fragments. Dren stumbles back, coughing and waving away the dust.


"Are you all right? Hold still, I'll heal that," says a voice. Dren nods, squinting through the motes, and feels the charge of positive energy as she hears a voice raised in song. The language is Aereni, of which she knows only a few words.


The pain is gone for one blessed second. Dren starts to step forward, to thank the young elven bard who stands there with his lute in hand, but then it comes back with a jolt. She stifles a gasp as she clutches at her arm.


The voice trails off. The elf is peering at her, pushing back his loose yellow hair. His eyes are the same color.


"That's not supposed to happen," he says. "I'll try it again."


The second attempt has the same result. The wound reopens a second after it closes. Dren can actually feel the flesh tear itself open as blood begins to flow.


"No good," she says. She keeps her voice level. It's not his fault, after all.


"You need a real cleric," says the elf unhappily. He slings the lute back onto his back. "I'm afraid it's cursed, and I'm too new at this."


"Well, never mind," Dren says. "We're not so very far from Stormreach now, are we? See what you can do for the wizard. I can dress this in my cabin."


"Are you sure?" says the elf doubtfully. The golem's broken knuckles have left long scrapes down the human's arm and side, shredding her robe there, and he can see the scratches bleeding more than the depth of the injuries seems to warrant.


"Quite sure," Dren says firmly. It doesn't hurt so very much. She's felt worse. "I'll just go and ask the steward where the nearest cleric is to the airship spire."


"All right, but I don't think I can do much for this wizard," says the elf. He is now over past a pile of broken barrels, throat bobbing as he swallows. "It, er. There's not much left of his head."


"Pity," says Dren as she turns toward the stairs. "House Lyrandar won't be able to dun the irresponsible bounder for the damages."


She does dress the wounds as best she can, tying gauze from her pack around her body and arm and padding them with the remains of her torn robe. She puts on another, looser robe over the dressings. The bleeding does not stop. She can feel the padding growing heavier and damper as the airship glides sedately into port. She receives the steward's thanks courteously and inquires where the nearest cleric might be found.


"Oh, we're close to King's Way," he says. "There's a Vassal there, Xyries Chorster. She helped me when I had a box land on my leg one time. Bit stiff, but she'll get it healed up for you all right. Can I send someone with you? I don't know what we would've done if that thing had bashed a hole in the hull."


"No, thank you," Dren says firmly. "But I'd be very grateful if you could see that my things get to my room at the Phoenix. I bespoke it by mail and Cog promised faithfully to hold it for me." She sent a significant advance payment to secure it, but there's no reason to go into that.


"Oh, absolutely," the steward nods quickly. "Well, I won't keep you, Ma'am. You be careful."


"Thank you, Sir, I will," Dren says, and goes briskly off down the gangplank. The humidity hits like a wall after the cool breezes of the upper atmosphere. Dren shakes her head at it, then regrets it for the dizziness it causes. She does not list toward the injured side. People are watching, and some of them may not be friends.


She remembers how to get to King's Way. It's getting harder to lift one foot and put it in front of the other, but she will get there. It's not so very far.

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SickleYield (Applicant) 11/25/2011 5:36 PM EST : XV. Rattlebones
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The construct who calls herself Bearer sits at the big table in Xyries Chorster's front room, sipping a tonic.  She has placed a small twist of silver foil on the saucer beside the plain ceramic mug.  She hasn't seen the person who gave it to her in a few weeks now, but it warms her to see the small bright thing there.  It's been cold for Bearer this last little while.


This room has changed since she first came here with the elf whom she persistently thinks of as Young Master Ondranar (three hundred and thirty-one years and five feet two inches of jaded, flippant Illusionist).  The walls, once white plaster, are now painted a soothing pale blue.  There is a large and comfortable armchair to either side of the kitchen door.  There is always a quilt and pillow on the folded mattress in the alcove under the stairs now.  Patients often rest there, and while the cleric herself may not be  a rapidly adaptable person, she does come around fairly quickly to what is best for her patients.


The cleric is upstairs now, watching over Reuken Kjersti as he recovers.  It seems easier for her than it feels to Bearer.  The construct knows why that is, but it is nobody's fault, like so many things.  There's nothing to do but keep on until it's past.  Not all constructs are fundamentally patient people - there is nearly as much variety there as there is among humans or elves or orcs - but Bearer is.


The door rattles weakly.  Bearer recognizes the sound of someone trying to pound furiously on the door and failing because their arms have gone weak.  She pushes back her chair and goes quickly to unbolt and open it.  


The creature who stands on the doorstep is apparently trying to be a drow.  Its form keeps fluctuating between that and a paler, thinner creature, between crimson eyes and colorless ones.  Its clothing is ragged and mismatched, and Bearer's diagnostic eye immediately notes the crimson stains at left breast and right side.  It's hard to identify as male or female, breastless and thin-shouldered and delicately featured in both forms.  The creature is breathing hard, eyes wide and upset.  The persistent shiver might be from cold or might be from resurrection sickness.  The construct, feeling a great swell of pity, increasingly suspects the latter.  That doesn't stop her from noting the dagger and the tool bag attached to the aged belt.


"Hello, prettyforged," the stranger says.  "I'm Rattlebones.  I was here before, but I was a kobold.  The cleric was nice to me.  I died and came back and I don't feel well."


"Poor thing," Bearer says, standing back to let the stranger inside.  "My name is Bearer.  Perhaps I can help you."


"Oh, thanks," says Rattlebones, and stumbles inside.  Bearer bolts the door carefully behind it, then turns to look down at the stranger.  She is six feet high, not so big for a construct.  Rattlebones looks to be about seven inches shorter than that, and thin-boned as the most delicate of elves now that its form has settled into the paler version.


"Is there anything in your wounds?" Bearer asks.  "We don't want anything trapped inside when I heal you."  She goes to pull out one of the chairs.  Rattlebones flings itself into the seat willingly, wincing as the movement pulls.


"No, all clean," the creature says.


"All right, then.  Be healed."  Bearer holds out a hand toward the stranger and whispers the words of her most powerful healing prayer.  She has no mastery of Unyielding Sovereignty.  Her greatest strength is in the cords and thews of livewood that make up her soft-surfaced body; it is only by the outstanding favor of the Host that she is able to heal at all.  She has to say the prayer a couple of times before Rattlebones' injuries are completely healed.  


"Be restored."  The changeling's shivering decreases as the restorative takes effect, pale light fading around its thin body.  It slumps a little in the chair.


"Thank you, prettyforged," Rattlebones says.  "You look squeezable.  Do you give squeezes at all?  I need one."


"Of course I do."  Bearer opens her arms.  Rattlebones latches on as if for dear life, skinny arms wrapped tight around the construct's stubby body.  She has only just met this strange being, and it is still armed, but she correctly gauges the dagger as too short to reach anything vital inside her thick padding.  Unless it gets at something on her head, that is, and that is easily preventable.  It says a great deal about Bearer that she is capable of making this calculation without any cessation of the warmth and affection with which she enfolds Rattlebones in her big padded arms.


She is momentarily startled to realize the changeling is weeping.


"There, there," she says, carefully patting a bony shoulder.  "Is this the first time you've been killed, Rattlebones?"


"No," sniffles the changeling.  "But it's the first time I had to kill me.  I couldn't think of another way to get away.  I didn't want him to lock me up in the ground forever.  It's boring and cold and lonely."


"Who tried to do that?" Bearer asks.  Her voice remains calm.  Bearer has no real mechanism for showing anger.  When she is most furious she is absolutely silent.


"The old sad thing," Rattlebones says.  There's a pause as it sobs a couple of times, face buried in quilted livewood.  "He was mad because I sneaked into his house and ate his food.  And I thought we were getting along so well.  Daisliv seemed nice."


"Well, stealing is wrong, Rattlebones," Bearer says gently.  She is beginning to have an inkling who the old sad thing might be.


"Oh, sure," says the changeling.  It hasn't stopped crying.  "I know that.  I just didn't know it would be that mad about it.  I mean, I only turned off three traps, and it's not as if the djinn didn't come back again!  They can't even be foreverkilled!  Any more than I can," it adds.  Its grip has not slackened, and there's no sign at all that it even remembers it is armed.  Bearer continues to hold and pat it.


"I could understand this person expelling you from his house, but to try and Imprison you seems extreme," Bearer says.


"He tried to shut me in the cell first.  I followed him out," Rattlebones says.  Its voice is a little muffled as it presses its face into Bearer's padding.  "He lied to me, too.  He said he would take me to a place with good food and the food in the Catacombs is awful.  I mean, not that I have a problem with lying, I do it all the time.  But it should at least be, you know, funny.  This wasn't funny at all.  It was mean.  And then he tried to grab me so he could lock me up, and I dodged, and then he shot a ray at me and it hurt and I was too weak to get away.  So I stabbed me before he could trap me.  And then I woke up at the Phoenix and I came here, because the cleric was nice to me."


Bearer listens patiently to this recital.  Then she asks,


"Did you steal something of his?"


"Yep," says Rattlebones.  "Two apples and some roast turkey and some bread and some cheese and a glass of this nectar stuff, it tasted really sweet.  And some dried apricots.  I was hungry."


"Did you steal anything besides food?"


"No, I didn't think of it," Rattlebones says.  Its sobbing seems to have subsided.  It wipes its nose on a dirty sleeve, letting go of Bearer but continuing to lean on her.  "Besides, I saw him at the Phoenix before, and he wasn't mean then."


"I see," Bearer says.  She pats Rattlebones again.  "Are you hungry now?"


"No," Rattlebones says.  "I'm tired and I'm not happy.  I feel better now than I did, though.  Thank you, Bearer-Who-Gives-Hugs."


"You are welcome," Bearer says.  "Rattlebones, I want you to listen very closely, all right?"


The changeling turns wide colorless eyes on the construct.  "Okay."


"You need a bath and some different clothes," Bearer says.  "And after that a rest.  I'm sure the cleric wouldn't mind me giving you these things.  But you have to promise not to steal anything from this house."


"Nothing at all?" Rattlebones says plaintively.  "But what if there are cookies?"


"Then you can have cookies," Bearer says.  "That's allowed.  In fact, you can have as much food as you want, poor thing.  But not the books or the cleric's other things.  All right?"


"All right," Rattlebones says.  It grins winningly up at Bearer.  "I don't want those things anyway.  They're not very shiny."


True to the construct's expectation, based on years of caring for young elves, the changeling's manic energy doesn't last much past a hot bath.  Bearer waits outside the bathroom and hands in the clean old robe belonging to Xyries, then guides the yawning creature over to the guest room.  Rattlebones stops in the doorway, pushing back against Bearer like a balking horse.  She can feel its shudder.


"I don't want to go in there," it says.


"Why not?" Bearer asks.  She pats Rattlebones reassuringly on the shoulder.  It turns wide, frightened eyes on her.


"Because the door will close, and what if I can't get out?"


"You still have your tools, don't you?" Bearer asks.  Rattlebones peers down at its belt, now buckled on over the baggy and ill-fitting quilted robe.  


"Yes, but I don't have any magics."


"No one will try to trap you with magic," Bearer says.  "The cleric would never do that, and I would never do that, and I certainly will not let anyone else.  But if you would feel better resting downstairs in the alcove, you can do that."


"Okay," Rattlebones says promptly.  "Will you sit with me, just for a minute?  Please?"


"Of course I will," Bearer says.  Rattlebones yawns its way down the stairs, blinking sleepily.  It crawls readily into the alcove and snuggles down under the quilt.  Bearer sits cross-legged on the edge of the duvet, a large, warm presence.


"Rattlebones," she says.  The changeling curls up on one side with eyes trustingly shut.


"Mm hmm," it says.


"How old are you?"


"Secret," it says.  "Can't tell.  I'm newer than I look, though, if that's what you're wondering.  I feel like maybe.. seventy or eighty in elf years?"  There is a pause as it resettles, one hand under its cheek.  "Or.. twelve or thirteen for a human person?  I get confused.  You have time here and it doesn't.. let itself be rearranged..."


Bearer waits, but that seems to be all for now.  The construct stays put for a while.  She listens to the changeling's regular breathing, and to the sound of Xyries walking to and fro upstairs.  Once Rattlebones whimpers in its sleep.  Bearer rests a big, warm hand on its shoulder, and it sighs and subsides.


And Bearer feels better than she has for a long time.


I do the work that needs to be done.  But I was made for this.
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SickleYield (Applicant) 2/6/2012 10:07 PM EST : XVI. The New Domain
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The cleric Xyries Chorster sits in her front room at the big table.  Here at home she wears a comfortable tan robe.  Quilted panels at front and back add warmth.  There are cornflowers embroidered around the hem, and she has glossed her nails again, to remind herself that she can.  The little touches are awkward on such a thin and austere person as Xyries, and she has not chosen to grow out her hair - it's still shorter than most men's - but the reminders have grown to be important.  She never takes off the ring on her right middle finger, with the ruby as big as her pinky nail.  The plain little ring of Protection From Hideous Laughter nestles up against it, nearly hidden by the width of the setting.

The construct Bearer is away at the temple, and Ondranar Palerose is off doing research of his own, and Ormollien Elanesse - well, there's no telling where Leon is.  Xyries is not quite sure how much it is appropriate to ask.  Mutual debt and harrowing difficulty have united them, but it is not strictly accurate to call him a friend of hers.  He is not here, and the house is quiet, warm with the glow of the everbrights.  The house's old and new wards are a thing felt and unseen, a gentle pressure of constant divine power.

Xyries sits with her hands resting on either side of a book of psalms to Olladra, an old and well-loved volume to which she often has recourse for her evening meditation.  Dark eyes skim the page, large in her thin face.  Her mind is elsewhere.

Reuken Kjersti, as usual, presents a problem.

Oh, not Reuken himself, at least not this time.  Xyries believes that she has a tolerable understanding of what he is likely to do.  No, it is their last conversation that preys on her mind. 

Evil is coming to Stormreach, the same evil that made Reuken the thing that he now is: like a chip of flint, a hard, sharp thing, but also fundamentally something broken.  Xyries has only tried to defend herself from Reuken once.  Only his deliberate choice spared her life on that occasion.

Now she has a great deal more to lose.

Xyries nods to herself once.  She rises, closing the book, and takes it to its accustomed place on the shelf.  Then she turns to another shelf, the one furthest from the doorway.  It has not been allowed to grow dusty.  Nothing is, in this house.  But these books are more often unread, many of them left her by her aunt Denora. 

Xyries suspects that Denora herself never read some of these, perhaps receiving them in bequest from the aunt who raised her.  She has disposed of anything that held a trace of Denora's writing.  These survivors do not.

On the very bottom shelf, in between two thicker volumes, is a slender tome with writing embossed into the spine.  The plain, square-edged words were originally silver, but time and tarnish have worn them nearly black. 

Xyries tugs it carefully out.  Then she opens the front cover to read the words on the flyleaf:

The Repose Domain.
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SickleYield (Applicant) 2/9/2012 3:47 PM EST : XVII. Port in a Storm
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The construct Bearer putters about the kitchen in Xyries Chorster's home, tidying up and organizing.  Xyries herself allows no part of the house to be untidy (other than the guest room, when it's occupied), but a lot of the kitchen's equipment has been added or updated by Bearer now.  Xyries is no cook.  She has no idea of half of what now occupies the cupboards.  Bearer pokes about wiith her big padded fingers, occasionally brushing flour off the cream-and-yellow quilted padding that covers most of her visible surface.


Bearer has wandered on her own for many years now, since the last of the elves she still thinks of as her boys grew up.  Finding Young Master Ondranar here in Stormreach would have kept her for a little while, perhaps, but it's everyone else who anchors her here.  There are so many people orbiting around this house like lost comets.  They need feeding, and hugging, and sometimes defending, and Bearer is equal to all of those tasks. 


The home of this one Vassal of the Sovereign Host is host to a plexus of overlapping needs.  Some of these gossamer threads trail out to the guild hall, or to other households nearby, and Bearer trundles up and down them like the most genial spider imaginable.  It's odd that all of this seems to be anchored by the stiff and solitary person of Xyries Chorster.  Bearer is comfortable with the capacity of organic people to surprise her. 


Now she pauses in screwing the lid back onto a nutmeg jar as she hears a tap at the front door.  It's not the frantic, near-random knocking of a relative bearing wounded, or the weak and intermittent knock of the wounded themselves.  It's a familiar coded sequence used by only one person she knows.


Bearer goes to undo the deadbolt and opens the door.  The orange-gold light of late afternoon pours in.  There's a halfling in blackened Mithral chain there, a hood of the same color hanging down her back.  Thelydd's white hair is pulled back as tightly and neatly as ever.  She looks up at the warforged with the same sharp, birdlike movement as always.  But the flesh around eyes and lips is pale with strain and exhaustion.  She looks her age today.


"Come in," Bearer says, stepping back to admit her.  "Are you hurt?"


"Naw," Thelydd says, stepping softly inside.  "'S the cleric conked out?"  She turns to watch closely as the construct shoots the bolt again.


"Yes, she's asleep," Bearer says.  "She and Leon went together to work today."


"Subterrane, yeah," Thelydd says.  "Where'd the gloomy bugger go?"


"I don't know," Bearer says.  "He was not here when I arrived."


Thelydd mutters indecipherably to herself.  "Wards still up? Undead can't get in 'ere?"  She looks around the living room with short, twitchy movements.


"Of course," Bearer says, increasingly puzzled.  She does not know the halfling well, but this seems increasingly peculiar.  "As far as I know, there aren't any exceptions.  You're aware of the ones we have for certain fiends.  Thelydd, are you sure you're not hurt?"


"I tell you, I ain't."  The halfling shakes her head irritably, then reaches up to tap the construct's leg with a gloved finger.  "Quit worryin' 'bout it.  Anybody else in 'ere?"


"No," Bearer says.  "Just the cleric and me."  Thelydd is on what she thinks of as the no-hugs list, but she risks a careful pat on the halfling's back.  Thelydd doesn't seem to notice.


"Awright," she says.  "Use the alcove?"


"Of course," Bearer says.  "Would you like anything to eat?"


"Naw, thanks," Thelydd says.  "Wake me up if you need the space."


And with that, she goes and climbs into the alcove.  Bearer watches as the halfling burrows back into the darkest corner of the space, tugging at the quilt that covers the duvet.  In a moment she is effectively invisible.


Bearer thinks about this for a moment.  Then she goes back into the kitchen.  Given the two (possibly three) indifferent appetites in the house at present, dinner had better be something irresistible.
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SickleYield (Applicant) 6/13/2012 6:05 PM EST : XVIII. Sick And Severed
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Xyries Chorster's Journal


11 Nymm, 1003


Today I thank Boldrei, for though my house has no hearth, I am blessed with home and family.


Some time ago, a friend suggested I keep a journal in order to clarify my thoughts and record personal progress. I never made the effort of actually beginning, though I bought this empty book for the purpose.  Now I've found this volume inside the cupboard in the alcove under the stairs, a sharpened graphite pencil already tucked into the binding.  I beg that any future self reading this will forgive the state of my handwriting. 


I shiver as I write the words, because I still cannot escape the fear that plagues me waking and sleeping, and if I grow worse it can only grow nearer; for if he ever considers inflicting the cure that Isirryl swears he will not, it will be when I have lost my mind utterly and become a danger to myself and others.  I feel this cycle feeding on itself but I am powerless to break it.


Zetarris. I will not take from him his name.  I will not make him the monster.  I have done him more harm than he has ever (trailing scratch mark).



11 Nym, 1003 (later)


I found the book here in the alcove because I woke up here, still wrapped in what Master Palerose calls a Greater Puffy Blanket.  From the fact that it seems to be purring I gather it is in fact a living creature of some sort.  The heat is welcome.  I have begun to wear additional layers, but I am often cold.


I find myself veering between exhaustion and what I can only describe as hysteria, emotions painful in their extremity in a way that I have never experienced.  Two days ago I laughed without being able to stop, laughed until my throat hurt; and today I began to weep with the same lack of volition.  When there was an argument over Arachan's letters, though it lasted less than a minute, I was so terrified that I thought my heart would pound its way out of my chest.  These episodes leave me so tired that I slide between consciousness and sleep without much choice in the matter.


The other things are humiliating, but I can stand to be humbled.  I have been before.  It is the fear that can end me, fear that must be conquered at once when it arises.  If I am not afraid, the thing that I fear will not come to pass.


Dol Dorn save me.


I suppose I cannot rationally bless the Host for the friends who surround me, for that would be nonsensical; but I am grateful all the same.  Bearer has arranged substitutes for me at the Temple.  Had I pursued my initial intention of returning to work after a single day's rest the consequences might have been disastrous.


I prune the tiny maple in its decorative container every morning.  I find that it brings me some calm.  Very much the opposite of his spouse Terry, Sentacer is uncomfortable with any sort of emotional display.  Perhaps this is why he conveys esteem and concern with gifts.  I am rambling.  I will go and make tea.


Note (jagged handwriting): Make sure Terry does go home soon.  Preserve his sanity, poor dear.  Puffy blanket not the same but at least warm.



Quindros and Shurjra


There are many dark corners and crannies in the sewers of Stormreach, forgotten backwaters left high and dry from everything but the rainwater that storms down through the gutters.  Because many are the relics of giantish construction, there are tremendous vaulted rooms among the winding passages, the first logic of their design long lost.  Life comes and goes down here, but the sound of dripping water is forever.


This chamber could form the sanctuary of a small church.  Moss grows thick along the stone beams and arches, riots in the cracks in the masonry that makes up the walls and floor.  Paths are treaded out through it just as if it were grass.  They moved from the doorless entry to the dais with its stone altar, from the altar to the old wooden tables and seats, from the tables to the firepit in the corner beneath the distant air shaft.  Brown-black stains are crusted on the altar and the floor around it.  The enormous symbol of the Mockery that decorates the wall behind the place of offerings is of the same stuff.  Only the row of blades that lies along the rim on a cloth is brilliantly clean, gleaming like a king's ransom in the dim light. 


The low fire casts a sullen red glow over everything.  The four worshippers and their priestess are of the ordinary races of Xen'drik, but in this light they cast monstrous shadows.  The priestess, a drow in a black robe embroidered in shades of red, waits beside the altar.  She does not appear old - no drow ever does, until they are near death - but no young creature has eyes that roil so with ancient malice.


She raises a beckoning hand to the two figures that now stand in the doorway.


"Come, Hand of the Mockery.  Is your mission complete?"


"Yes, priestess," says Shurjra Baen'rett.  She slinks forward into the room, taking in its residents and their positions.  She always does.  She knows the god she worships.  "The Cell of Arad'nir have fallen."


Shurjra is a drow, young even for that ever-young race, but the taller being who walks behind her is not.  Quindros Xydorith is, to all appearances, human.  This is not the first time the priestess has seen him.  She knows that Shurjra has taken up with one who is neither of her race nor of her faith.  The reason for this is as clear to the priestess as it must be to the other worshippers.  From his constant uneasiness, eyes shifting around the room, the man must surely suspect; but as he continues to share quarters and, the priestess suspects, a bed with the assassin, perhaps he has achieved some measure of denial.  His eyes and hair are dark, and his robe and accoutrements are brown homespun and leather.  He does not look particularly like a necromancer.  Perhaps he has absorbed some of the atmosphere of deception that attends this place.


Shurjra approaches the altar with a hand habitually on the hilt of her rapier.  It is no insult here.  It is simply an acknowledgement of the facts.  She bows without lowering her scarlet eyes from the priestess.  Shurjra wears her white hair tied tightly back and wrapped against her skull, perhaps in an attempt to make herself appear older.  It doesn't work.  The sharp-chinned and beak-nosed profile is not exactly pretty, but neither does it pass for convincingly mature.  It is difficult to believe she has accomplished what the priestess knows by divination has been done.


"You have done well," says the priestess.  "Your reward will be great.  Before it is bestowed I have one final task for you to perform.  Approach.  Alone."


Shurjra moves forward.  The man stands with hands folded in front of him, and a sound like the hiss of a damaged valve carries to the priestess's ears.  Such noises are often heard around young Quindros.  Perhaps he communicates with spirits.  Most necromancers do, in one way or another.  Now his lips move silently, speaking words no one else can hear.


The priestess leans forward slightly, keeping her hands folded at stomach level, and whispers in the younger woman's ear.  Drow come in nearly as many shades as humans do, perhaps more, and her skin is pale violet where Shurjra's is a dark and ashy gray.  She uses the local version of the elven tongue most commonly adopted by the Sulatar drow.


"L'draeval uriu doer," she says.  "Elg l'nesst."


The time has come.  Kill the man.


Shurjra is immobile for a second, impassive but obviously frozen.  Then she dips her head in a short bow and turns to move back toward Quindros.  She never shows much emotion, so the priestess is not surprised that she hides the elation she surely must feel at finally being asked to carry out the betrayal she has been so long preparing.  It is the sweetest of sacrifices to the darkest of gods. 


Shurjra drops her hand from the rapier as she moves, rotating it slightly at the wrist.  The priestess approves.  It makes no sense to arouse the wizard's suspicions.


"We have another mission," she says to the man in the Common tongue.  "Day is breaking."


The priestess is startled to hear another voice, a crackling sibilance that obviously does not come from the wizard's pale and unmoving lips.


"Kkkhhnight is fffallen."


"Yes," says Shurjra Baen'rett.


The last thing the priestess ever sees is the wizard's outstretched hand.  She raises her own hands to weave her protections, but the black ray is already licking out toward her like the tongue of a demon. 


"Shroud," Quindros says, voice vibrant with power.  Suddenly his outline flickers as his body grows translucent, an indistinct form in a cloud of dark purple smoke.  The change is complete before the priestess's corpse hits the floor.  Shurjra is already invisible to all but the keenest of eyes, one with the shadows that mask the edges of the room.


There is a howl of outrage from the four worshippers, two humans and two drow.  They rush forward, two with swords and two with sickles.  A blade slices through the edge of the wraith form as if parting smoke, leaving no mark, and then a form rises up behind the human and blood explodes from his cut throat.  Shurjra turns to the nearest drow with dagger in one hand and rapier in the other, easily dodging a wild swing.  The rapier pierces cheap leather armor as if it were paper.  He falls without a sound.


The other two hang back, looking wildly between the wraith and the assassin.


"They cannot escape," Shurjra says.  "They will carry news to the next cell."


"I understand," Quindros says.  His voice is a hoarse whisper behind the pall of smoke, not so very unlike the voice that spoke earlier.  Shurjra whirls out of his field of view as the drow cultist breaks for the door.  The human charges Quindros, swinging a bastard sword in both hands.  The thin beam of the wizard's necrotic ray stops him in his tracks.  A muffled scream and a thump from the doorway says the other cultist has not fared better.


Shurjra runs lightly back to stand beside the wizard.  He twitches as she throws back her head and shrieks.


"I renounce you!"  She paces in front of the altar, hissing her next words at the Symbol on the wall.  "I serve you no more by hand, word or blade.  I have two precious things in all this wretched world.  They are not yours and you will not have them!"


There is a distant, ominous rumble.  Quindros lets the shroud fall away, feeling his form solidify into ordinary flesh again as he moves forward to lay a hand on Shurjra's shoulder.  She hears him coming.  She does not twitch, but she does stop pacing.


"Let's go home, rogue," Quindros says.  She nods.  He whispers the words of the teleportation spell, and the filthy room dissolves around them and becomes the bright, clean chamber that comprises their current quarters.


Shurjra immediately moves to the sink to clean her weapons, swearing under her breath.  Quindros can see her shoulders trembling.  His shadow twin murmurs and hisses in his ears, similar imprecations against the Mockery and the dead priestess.


"It'll be all right," he says.  He moves to stand near her, leaning on the countertop.  It is clean but worn, scavenged from disused sections of sewer just like all of the furnishings are.  He smiles at her, a quick nervous movement of the lips.  "Just think how much easier it'll be to plan the wedding now."


Shurjra sets down a shuriken carefully, then turns and seizes the wizard in a tight hug.  He puts his arms around her carefully, feeling the chill sensation that is Veldros phasing through him to stretch around both bodies.


"She wanted me to kill you," Shurjra says.


"I know," Quindros says.  "Veldros has better ears than I do.  I knew you wouldn't do it, rogue.  It's all right."  He pats her back gently.  There is no sniffling.  He has never seen her weep, not in all the months they've been together.


Now she sighs.


"I suppose my parents cannot further disown me than they already have," she says.  "Not even from Dolurrh."


"I'm sorry that it had to be because of me," Quindros says.


"That I chose you over the Mockery?  Never be sorry for that, my wizard.  If you were legless and bald and naked except for Veldros, I would guard you to my last breath."


"Ksshhope you would go get him some clothes firssst," Veldros says.


Shurjra laughs, the sound muffled against Quindros's chest.  She squeezes harder. 


"I will always treasure the look on her face when you killed her, wizard."


"I couldn't see it very well," Quindros says dryly.  "It was dark in there."  Specifically, he was focused on whether or not there were really glowing tentacles emerging from the altar.  At least his periodic hallucinations continue so otherworldly that they are not easily mistaken for real things.  He has been tired a lot lately.


There is a distant tap, a discreet noise from the direction of the door that leads to the nearest sewer passage.


"I wonder who that is?" Quindros says.  He gives Shurjra a squeeze and lets her go.  She takes up her shuriken immediately.  Very few people know how to get to this place, and even fewer could get so far in without setting off an alarm.


"Ondranar Palerose," says a familiar voice.  It takes a minute for Quindros to undo all of the locks Shurjra has set up.  There is a slender Aereni in an ornate green robe standing out in the passage, hands on his hips.  He bows deeply as he sees Quindros.  A tail of red hair slides forward over one shoulder.


"Hello again, Master Xydorith.  I've a pair of letters for you and Mistress Shurjra.  Arachan, as usual, does not trust the post."





Xyries Chorster's Journal


12 Nym, 1003


Today I thank Dol Arrah for the sacrifices made for my sake.  Teach me in turn to choose my offerings well.


Food is definitely a thing that exists.  I know this, because Bearer keeps insisting that I eat it.  My stomach is often unsettled, but if her eyes start to flicker it looks so sad that I am certain I will weep again, and I prefer not to do that.  We all sent Terry home for a while.  He worries so much about things.  I hope he will be all right.


I am in the armchair now, as my help with the dishes has been declined.  Master Palerose brought me another dreadful novel he pilfered from Xymorel's house.  She does not know I am ill.  I imagine she will before long.


I don't know.  I would rather she did not know, but I cannot help wishing she would visit.  And Treycen.  They both lived here for some while, and I have been too busy to let myself miss them.  Now I am not. 


Besides, I know so few paladins.  I could certainly do with the aura of courage right now.


I am not seeing much of Leon.  I hope he is with Xerrone and doing well and not simply staying away because he cannot endure the number of people in the house.  Someone should be taking care of him.


(Water blot smearing penciled words) blanket still.  Master Palerose has named it Lettuce, because it is mostly pastel green.  He unsummoned it and (blot) manually here so that it will stay.  I think it is (blot) crawl back into the alcove.  So tired again.
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SickleYield (Applicant) 6/22/2012 12:55 PM EST : XIX. 15-17 Nym, 1003
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15 Nym, 1003


Today I thank Olladra for present relief.  Teach me humbly to accept your healing in whatever form it arrives.


A great deal has happened.  I will try to put it down with reasonable coherence.  I am in the alcove with Lettuce again.  Even on a quiet day, I need a rest in the afternoon now.  Sometimes I sleep.  Sometimes I write in this journal.


Two days ago, the human sorceress who was Reuken's phylactery-thrall came to visit me.  She brought a parcel of candy as a thank-you gift.  We shared a small amount of it.  I suffered an embarrassing collapse into tears and subsequently had to be put to bed by Bearer.  Bearer says the woman's name is Katius.  I did not ask before.  She always referred to Kerta and Reuken with third-person titles, so I supposed she had some sort of peculiar inhibition regarding names, the way that he does.


Reuken never came to be freed from that diabolical thing.  As far as I know, Kerta still has it.  Why can he never let (smudged graphite)


15 Nym, 1003 (later)


The day after I saw Katius, Bearer asked me if Jivun could come over.  Apparently Terry sent her a Sending.  I agreed, both because I know that it causes Jivun discomfort to be near pain she cannot remove and because right now refusing any request is harder than pushing a boulder uphill.  I bless my gods that I am in the hands of (water blot) who have only my good (blot), though I have never deserved them (smear).


I gave her what I could, including some chest pain I had not really noticed until she took it, but I could not surrender the thing of which I was afraid.  I healed her.  Jivun hugged me and said it was not my fault and that she would get Zetarris.  I was frankly terrified but I could not tell her no.


The visit with Zetarris was, as it turned out, a blessed relief.  He explained that, while he is capable of intervening in the mind's structure in the case of patients with otherwise untreatable personality disorders, I do not have one and such intervention is not and will never be justified in my case.  I am afraid I cried on him, too.  Mithril gave me his handkerchief. 


When I woke up I realized further that, even if I am unable to recover from what now afflicts me, I will not become a danger to others.  None of these mood swings leave me angry or aggressive.  The ability to heal has not left me.  Even if I were reduced to complete, pathetic idiocy (and some hours I think I am already there), I will still be able to help someone.  I find this a tremendous relief as well.  I have had no further pain since Jivun was here. 


Master Palerose says a sufficiently unnatural and protracted emotional state can in fact cause damage to the human cardiovascular system.  I have, I confess, seen this in others.  He is breeding snails with glowing shell-marks.  He brought one to show me.  It was six inches long and mostly purple.  I told him it was very pretty.  He gave me a leaf to feed it.  Apparently snails have tongues on their undersides.  Odd.


I have to check that everyone is all right before I can sleep at night.  I have even checked the linen closet and under the patient beds for Thelydd, in case she was unconscious and unable to hear me.  So far this has not been the case.



16 Nym, 1003


Today I bless Onatar, master of the arcane.  Teach me to accept the words of those more expert than myself.


I am now in the armchair with tea.  The house is clean, the bonsai maple watered and pruned.  Bearer let me heal a neighbor child with skinned knees.  Then she hugged me.


I woke up this morning with a peculiar presentiment of someone in the room despite no one sleeping in the bed besides myself and Lettuce.  I said "Hello?" and was somewhat surprised to receive mumbled response from under the bed.  Thelydd emerged looking somewhat tousled but otherwise none the worse for wear.  She inquired after my health, to which I responded that I was feeling better.  She made a skeptical noise and vanished upstairs to perform her morning ablutions while I did likewise in the second floor restroom.


She actually remained present and visible for breakfast, which is highly unusual.  In fact, I have not literally seen her in some days.  She attributed this vaguely to her work, which response is not at all uncommon.  She disclaimed any need for healing or restoration but inquired closely into recent events.  I let Bearer answer most of this except when referred to directly.  It is difficult for me to explain.  Thelydd seemed to accept all of this calmly and did not offer to stab Zetarris, which seems a hopeful sign.


This afternoon Master Palerose said he is going to talk to a mind-healer recommended by Zetarris.  Zetarris feels he is too close to the situation to treat me himself, for which I cannot blame him.  I hope this does not mean he is angry.  I have no reason to think that he is.  I have apparently added fear of loved ones being upset with me to fear of loved ones concealing injuries. 


I am less than thrilled at the prospect of discussing personal topics with a stranger, but at least a professional will not respond with anger, the way the others tend to when my aunt is mentioned.  In any case, saying no to things has not gotten any easier, and I do not feel like making the attempt.  When Master Palerose asked if I was willing to try I said yes.


16 Nym, 1003 (later)


Master Palerose seems to think well of the mind-healer, whose name is Keefe.  I am to see him tomorrow at nine o'clock at Terry's house.  With any luck, Jivun will be out of the house.  I know that Vicriia cannot be left alone, poor woman.


I am worried that I will embarrass myself again.  In that case hopefully I can stay awake long enough to Recall myself home.  If not, it is not as if I have never slept at Terry's house.
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