Healthy farms lashed out

14-03-2009, 02:36 (This post was last edited: 14-05-2010, 22:58 by Ichigo.)

RE: IT: Summit flowers (450 d.E.)
"Not better yet?"
"I'm not afraid, young sir."
Arjuk looked over the shoulder of the old healer as his wrinkled hands wet the sick man's feverish forehead with water. For weeks his mother had been lying on the pillows with a pale face and getting thinner and thinner.
Arjuk frowned in disapproval. "I want her to get well again. When will you finally heal her?" He asked impatiently. "Hey, what's that supposed to be?"
The old man had started to giggle softly. Arjuk grabbed his shoulder. "Are you making fun of me?"
"Young gentleman", the healer apologized, "I would never scoff at you. I will do what is in my power for your mother, but there are things that are out of our control ..."
"But you get paid to heal them!" The boy snapped.
"I'm paid to try." The healer looked compassionately at the boy, who gently clasped his mother's weak hand. "Don't worry," he whispered to the patient. "Soon we will find a better healer, then we will no longer have to rely on this charlatan."
The healer silently shook his head. The son of the Count of Noato might well be before the age of seventeen, but he behaved like a stubborn child. No wonder, since everyone in the property had always tolerated his temperament. Now the beautiful, even face was clouded over.
The old man sat down on the edge of the bed. "Young gentleman," he began cautiously, "you must know - the human body is not made to last. Mion gave birth to us, and he will justifiably kill us if ..."
"I don't care what your God is doing," Arjuk interrupted haughtily.
"Mion doesn't care if you're interested in him," the old man replied calmly. He hesitated. "Young sir, has it ever occurred to you that your mother might die?"
The boy froze. His dark eyes looked up at the healer. Fear was written on his face. "Dying?" He whispered. Suddenly he jumped up. "Stupid old fool!" He snapped at the healer. "You don't bother with your work! We don't pay you to tell stories here!"
"I don't need your gold," said the old man coldly. "Least of all to heal your mother. The only one that could possibly help is a herb, older and more powerful than you can imagine. It grows high in the mountains. Your father doesn't want to bring it to me. He believes well, I'll tell him a old wives' tale, or I want to replenish my supplies at his expense. " He slowly pulled a folded piece of parchment out of his pocket and held it out to Arjuk. "If you want to have the slightest chance of saving your mother," he said urgently, "then you must see to it that this plant is brought here."
Reluctantly, Arjuk took the parchment.
"In your place," the healer added quietly, "I would ask Mion for assistance."

The girl who was pushing through the colorful crowd in the market square turned when she heard the call. Her face brightened when she saw the stocky greengrocer waving at her over boxes of fruit and vegetables.
"So you ended up in Noato again after all?"
"I'm just passing through," replied the girl with a wink.
"As always." The dealer looked at the idiosyncratic figure. The girl who stood before him wrapped in brightly colored, patched rags was still half a child. The men’s trousers, which were much too large, would slip off her thin hips if she didn’t tighten them with a belt that looked downright bulky on her slim figure. Her oval face was framed by long strands of brown. Last but not least, her little feathered companion Chaju was clearly enthroned on her shoulder.
Matthias shook his head. "How you've grown again," he muttered, touched. “The next time I see you, you will have become a real young lady. Tell me, child, haven't you wandered around soon enough? Don't you want to settle down somewhere? "
Dimples appeared on Jo's suntanned cheeks as she smiled thoughtfully. "I do not think so..."

The sun was at its zenith. The traders, who had already sold their goods in the course of the morning, dragged in new boxes, baskets and sacks or were already packing up their goods. As every day, Noato's small market square was completely overcrowded and a mass of colorful, screaming and laughing people. There was gossip and complaint, but last but not least, there was also - bought. As far as the quality of the goods was concerned, everyone agreed that most things could be obtained better and possibly cheaper elsewhere. But when it came to diversity, it was not without good reason that the market was also called the "market of hidden treasures". And as in every market, all sorts of dubious and mysterious figures crept around here, and so it was, so to speak, the first commandment to keep your wallet as safe as possible ...
Normally, the girl's appearance would have drawn astonished looks and caused all sorts of gossip, but in the confusion of buyers, sellers and viewers, not even she was noticed. Jo, who, as always, was out and about in brightly colored clothes and had her trusty bird Chaju on her shoulder, strolled curiously from trader to trader. For the time being she felt quite comfortable in the deafening, wild crowd and Chaju seemed to like it too, because he croaked in delight and exuberance.
"What do you think we could spend the whole day here!", Jo informed her companion happily and laughed at his stormy response.
"Of course, but if I spend too much money, I'll have to sell you for better or for worse," she joked and giggled when Chaju broke out in horrified clamor.
"Come on, let's get something to eat," she finally soothed the offended bird and drove to a grocer to buy some bread and fruit.

"I tell you, I don't know any other healer than old Kaspar." There was impatience in the trader's voice. Jo looked at the scene in amazement. A finely dressed young man, presumably not much older than herself, held a fragile piece of parchment under the merchant's nose.
"There must be more herbalists in town," the boy insisted. "Someone has to know this plant. It is said to have enormous healing powers." He brushed a dark curl from his forehead when something else seemed to occur to him: "Don't you know anyone who is familiar with the mountains? The plant grows in the Blue Mountains and ... "
"The Blue Mountains?" Interrupted the trader. Suddenly he started laughing. "Boy, if you want to hear my opinion - someone has tied a bear for you. The Blue Mountains! Nobody dares venture into the Blue Mountains, especially not for a piece of greenery! And now get out of here if you don't want to buy anything."
The boy had turned deep red at these words. He was already starting to reply briskly when Jo stepped between them.
"Two oranges and half a loaf," she demanded happily.
While the dealer complied with her request, Jo gave the fellow a warning look. What was that newbie thinking of stopping the whole business just because of some blade of grass! When she had paid and looked around for him, the stranger studied the parchment, his brow furrowed.
Jo took him aside. "Listen," she said softly, "you can't do this like that. No wonder the dealer is dismissive when you block his stand. You should have jumped at least a few coins."
"Don't interfere," the boy replied dismissively. "I can manage on my own."
"Oh," said Jo, amused, "that's why you've just been so incredibly successful."
The stranger looked her up and down. "In any case, I don't need any help from strays," he replied snootily. Jo gasped for air. Was she wrong, or was the look on his face actually disgusted?
"Then see how you can manage on your own!" She exclaimed. "In any case, you won't find the only person who has what it takes to conquer the Blue Mountains this way!"
Outraged, she turned on her heel and wanted to run away when she heard the boy call out breathlessly: "Wait!"
Jo stopped and took a deep breath. "What do you want?" She asked without turning around.
"You know someone who has been to the Blue Mountains?"
"But you just said ..."
"I'm not telling you anything anymore."
Jo was about to run away when the jingling of coins reached her ear. She turned in surprise.
"Well so what." Normally she wouldn't have taken money from him, but the temptation to teach him a lesson was too great. With a sweet smile she accepted the coin. "Well you've followed a stray's advice after all ..."

19-03-2009, 20:13 (This post was last edited: 27-02-2011, 00:53 by Ichigo.)

He had stayed away from humanoid civilization for far too long. Doronin longed for some fresh bread or a cake. The very idea increased his salivation and made him careless. Since the early hours of the morning he followed the heavenly scent of baked goods and wine. So he fought his way through the undergrowth for hours. Most of the bushes and trees were friendly to the druid and let him pass. They knew that this person did not mean anything to them.
Only when Doronin saw the end of the forest did a cheeky little tree take advantage of its inattentiveness and let it stumble over its roots. Doronin fell straight into a puddle of mud, which amused the wooden rogue even more. Sighing, the druid straightened up. Wisdom comes with age, he thought to himself. This sapling will survive many years. His light brown coat was now speckled with dark spots. The druid didn't care. He lifted his nose to the wind and followed the tantalizing scent.
When he stepped out of the forest, the druid paused for a moment. The sight of the lush meadows made a deep impression on him. In the distance he spied fields and a farm. Doronin's heart leaped. How much this scene was like the images from his childhood! He was about to turn back, to flee the memory back into the forest, when the smell of cake rose to his nose - closer, stronger than before.
And Doronin followed him.

"Where are we going?" Asked Arjuk, out of breath. He found it difficult to follow the girl's long strides. He had never seen the streets they walked through before.
"Old Farim lives out of town," replied the girl who had introduced herself to him as Jo. The peculiar bird she was carrying sat on her shoulder and stared straight at Arjuk. The animal seemed to be looking at him with interest, even with mockery. Arjuk tried to ignore the look from the knowing bird's eyes.
"Shall we go through here?" Arjuk shouted, aghast as they turned a corner. The path lay unpaved as bare earth before them, pecked with puddles and rubbish. Countless children's eyes, peeking out from under tousled hair, eyed the strange newcomers from every street corner. The buildings, which were pressed close together, were only poorly made up.
"Those are the suburbs," explained Jo and added with an amused look on Arjuk's horrified expression: "You must get your fine boots dirty."
Arjuk took a deep breath. "Well then, what are we waiting for," he said casually.
They found their way between shaggy street cats and children playing, between colorful clotheslines and the view of backyards where women were peeling vegetables. Jo seemed to know exactly which streets she was turning into.
"Why are people staying here?" Arjuk asked quietly. "Who would want to live here?"
"What else are you supposed to do?" Replied Jo simply. “They are happy when they can get something to eat and buy a pair of new shoes every now and then. There is nothing left to build a house elsewhere. "
Arjuk silently shook his head. These people were just too stupid to get a real job. The servants, cooks, housekeepers, soldiers, and many other people on their property were all well cared for and lived in stone houses.
When they left the city streets behind, Arjuk's boots were dusty brown. He looked around, enchanted, as they approached the edge of the forest through tall grass interspersed with meadow flowers. In the shelter of a group of trees, Arjuk could make out a tiny hut, which Jo was heading straight for.
“This Farim should live here?” Arjuk had imagined the dwelling of a scholar, and Farim evidently was such, differently. He looked skeptically at the rough-hewn door at which they had stopped.
But Jo replied: “He's been here for as long as I can remember. Nice here, isn't it? ”Her brown eyes shone.
Arjuk didn't know what to say. When he realized he was staring at her, he looked down in shame.
"Let's see if he's home too," said Jo and knocked. Nothing moved inside. When her second knock also went unresponsive, she carefully pushed the door open.
No Answer.
"Let's take a look," whispered Jo Arjuk, adventurous.
This did not feel particularly comfortable with the thought of rummaging in an abandoned house, but finally his curiosity won out and he followed the girl into the room.

The bitter, earthy smell of herbs met them. Sunbeams filtered through the windows and between the bunches of dried plants that hung from the ceiling. A figure lay motionless in one corner.
"Farim!" With a few steps Jo was at the bed and sank down next to the old man. Her fingers trembled as she stroked the reclining man's forehead.
"Farim ..."
It seemed as if her lips were forming the name of their own accord, in the hope of getting another movement out of the man, but the white face remained lifeless as if carved in stone. Horrified, Jo buried her face in her hands.
Arjuk stared petrified down at the old man who was resting on the spreading furs. The ghostly white, furrowed face was turned towards him. He hardly noticed how Jo left the hut without a word.
You must know - the human body is not made to last.
Strange - it almost seemed to Arjuk as if there was a slight smile in the corner of his mouth of this gray mask that had once been human. Arjuk blinked.
Has it ever occurred to you that your mother might die?
Arjuk's heart jumped painfully. Should his mother one day see him with a pale, strange face ...? The hut, the shelved walls suddenly seemed threateningly close. He backed away. The floorboards creaked under the intruder's feet. His scream ate its way through the silence as something tugged at his hair. He lashed out wildly. His arms tore the bouquet of herbs that had caught in his hair from the ceiling. With the elbow he hit something hard, which crashed to the ground. Arjuk turned around. In disbelief, he looked at the rack that he had knocked over.
It was a partition. Arjuk took a deep breath. His heart was still beating fast and fearfully against his ribs, but his movements were calm as he bent down and carefully set the familiar painting tool back in its place. The picture that must have been on the partition wall lay with the painted side down on the bare floor. Arjuk took it carefully in his hands. Sunlight slipped over the canvas stretched on the frame as he turned it over.
A pale landscape looked at him: a lake, only outlined in a few lines; in it an island on which a single, overgrown tree rose craggy, crouched under the cutting wind; and behind ...
Arjuk caught his breath. Mountains. Silent, inaccessible peaks. They consisted of just a few brushstrokes: their tips turned into the pale sky and dissolved into fog towards the bottom - just a hint in the distance, an incomprehensible hint of size that might as well be an illusion.
Arjuk lowered the picture. The walls, covered with shelves, pictures and bunches of herbs, now stood silent and motionless. The small, contemplative world of Farim lay neatly before him.
Arjuk turned to the corpse.Sunlight glistened in the long hair that was spread around his head like a silver carpet. The painted canvas must have been positioned just so that the old man could see it from his bed.
Arjuk drew his sword. He carefully cut the picture from the wooden frame and slipped the fabric into his coat pocket.

Jo was sitting in front of the hut and had buried her face in her hands. Her free laughter, her unwavering security were blown away.
"Thank you for showing me here," said Arjuk softly.
Jo didn't move. The silence was already uncomfortable for Arjuk when the girl raised her head.
"Let us get wood," she said softly. Her expression could hardly be read under the strands that hung wildly in her face. "We can't leave him like that."
Tall grass brushed their legs as they turned their steps toward the boiling, noisy jungle of the city. A gust of wind went through the meadow, whispered between the flowers and scurried through the stalks as a foaming wave until it was swallowed by the dark branches far at the edge of the forest.
Arjuk's gaze searched again for the column of smoke, which unscrewed darkly. High up in the sky it grew pale, translucent, until Farim, Farim's hut, and Farim's world dissolved into the blue firmament.
Mion gave birth to us, and he is right to kill us too.
Arjuk gritted his teeth.
We will see.
He felt for the fragile parchment, for the painted scrap of cloth. His decision was made.

It was getting dark when Doronin opened the door to the tavern. The smell of human beings - for a moment the hair on the back of the druid's neck rose. The smell had taken him to a hostel on the outskirts, where all sorts of strange figures were eating, drinking, singing and occasionally fighting at this hour. Under the stench of sweat and beer, the druid recognized the subtle smell of envy and greed. And what smelled like a tempting roast to the others was the pungent, pungent smell of death to Doronin. What the hell was he doing here?
"Have a seat," the landlady called to him. “May I have a Lord's Supper for you? Or do you just want to move into quarters for the night?
She looked friendly at the newcomer. Her gaze stayed for a moment on the eye-catching tattoo that snaked down Doronin's cheek, identifying him as a druid.
Doronin calmed down. He carefully adjusted the shoulder strap of his bag and followed the landlady to the counter. The wooden floorboards under his feet whimpered softly. The beams above his head also mourned their former life as trees in the forest. Tables, chairs, all the wood in this tavern sobbed.
The druid stroked the wood of the counter with his palms to comfort it. He started in horror when a horrific woe flared up under his fingers. Involuntarily he pressed his hands to his ears, but this was no ordinary sound - a long, lofty spirit had struck his head. The other guests didn't seem to hear him. The tighter he clung to Doronin's mind and screamed in great agony.
Doronin tried to stop at the counter. The counter - of course! It was their wood, which the naturalist had become aware of and which now screamed, raged and asked him to help him.
Wait! I can help you, but let go of me ...
Doronin was horrified to see the devastating power that tormented nature developed in its desperation. The long period of suffering and pain had made the wood nasty. Hungry, it stretched for its magic and its life force. The hand with which he supported himself on the counter slowly sucked the energy out of the druid. Small, green shoots and white root hairs were already sprouting out of the wood around his fingers. They grew up and encircled his arm ...

When Doronin came to, he looked into the worried face of the landlady.
"Are you feeling better now?" She asked.
Doronin looked past her and straight into the evening sky. They had carried him out of the tavern.
"What about the counter?" He asked.
"We cut through the plant stalks that attacked you and carried you out," explained the landlady. "A naturalist like you should be more careful with his powers."
When she disappeared back into the tavern, Doronin sighed. Cut the stems! The wood had only begged for assistance. It almost became his last encounter with nature ...
The druid laid his head on the damp ground. The blades of grass caressed his face as if to comfort him. He would never forget this experience, this nightmare. The human looked longingly up into the sky and spotted a couple of crows playing "chase" in the clouds.
This world, the world of the humanoids. It's not for me, it's way too dangerous. It will be better to go back to the forest today and never come back.
His gaze fell again on the birds playing.
You have to have wings.
Doronin straightened up. His gaze turned to the east. He had known it for a long time; now he could finally no longer avoid the thought: he needed more control over his strength, otherwise he would endanger himself and everyone around him.
I will retire to the mountains.
The mountains - Doronin shuddered. These unapproachable creatures in which ancient powers slumbered. It was no accident that the most powerful healers and druid masters withdrew to them. He would surely find a master there to teach him. And other humanoids would probably not run into him in the impassable mountains either ...
Doronin rose resolutely. The blood-red eye of the evening sun shone above the horizon. Briefly the druid turned once more to the tavern, let out a relieved breath and then began to move.

Antar silently shook his head at the hype the druid had caused. Magic could quickly become a dangerous friend.
Do you speak from experience?
Antar leaned back over his soup bowl. Out of the corner of his eye, however, he searched for the man who had struck him before he was distracted by the screaming about the druid. He was leaning against the counter. The fine features of the pale face looked young, but his composure made him appear older and more mature. Under the long black coat he had taken off in the meantime, plain, dark clothing had emerged. His black, wavy hair fell over his shoulders as he leaned over to his neighbor, who had spoken to him.
"My journey has been going on for a long time," Antar heard the stranger say softly to the person sitting next to him. "I'm looking for ... work." His voice was as impenetrable as his mine. Carefully emphasized each word. Despite the accentuated casualness, the tone of voice was clearer and more cultivated than that of some of the aristocrats whom Antar had already offered protection.
"Come on," Antar called out to himself. "Think! What's weird about this guy?"
Yes come on You know it. Pay attention to the voice, the posture, the tone of voice ...
Antar winced when the man suddenly turned. Two eyes flashed gold under their dark brows, their penetrating gaze directed straight at Antar.
Antar took a sip of the beer. Usually he knew how to make it look like he was busy with his meal and still keep an eye on his surroundings. But with this slim man leaning against the counter, he wasn't sure whether he was missing a rustle of a mouse.
"Here in this area," said the pale man, "I must have been hungry."
Hunger ... Antar involuntarily felt for his dagger. Come on you have to feel it slowly! You can almost smell it!
Antar literally jumped on, but with the best will in the world he couldn't see what it was. His thoughts literally raced and tried to put the hunch into words: "Pale skin, wolf eyes, pale skin, wolf sa ..."
Hunger must have brought me to this area.
He knew there was no movement in his expression, but inside he shivered. Pale skin, wolf eyes, smell and hunger ...
Unobtrusively he made the dagger disappear again. Simple steel wouldn't help him against this man.
Slowly he continued to spoon his soup. While he was mopping up the remains of the liquid with a last piece of bread, he heard the pale man ask the landlady to make him a bed for the night.
That could be cheerful!
Does the Lord run out of courage?
"The Lord knows the difference between courage and recklessness, that's all," he thought to himself as he pushed the empty soup cup away.

Antar turned lazily when he heard the door of the inn open. He had seen the brightly dressed stray woman entering the tavern here before. The slim figure with her radiant, self-confident smile and the wild head of hair always attracted all sorts of looks.
Today she came in male company. Antar looked with interest at the young man who sat across from her at the table. He was well dressed, too well to be a regular at an establishment like this. His dark hair and tall, slender stature immediately suggested that at least part of his family were descendants of the Easterners. He might well be the son of a rich merchant, perhaps even a nobleman; in any case, his wallet should be filled many times better than Antar's own. What brought such a fellow here?
Antar pricked up his ears. He couldn't get all the details, but what he heard was interesting enough. It seemed that these two young people, almost still children, wanted to go to the Blue Mountains.
Antar shook his head. What a fool would come up with such a foolish idea! The Blue Mountains were a dangerous stretch of land, especially the higher regions. Bare, loose rock that broke away from under your feet alternated with steep walls that no aid could climb. That was what they said. Antar himself had never been there, had only seen them on the horizon, as they could be seen on a clear day deep into the wooded plains of the Nyltra River. He had never been interested either.
Antar hesitated. This boy and his companion had to know that they could not survive long in this inhospitable mountain landscape, not without help - and if they did not know, they would be convinced ...
Money, money, money, how I miss you Yes, what not to be done at face value! You even throw yourself at your customers like a barker.
The mountains are old. And old things tend to get mischievous. - Jugglers rubbish!
Quickly but not rushed, Antar rose, picked up his crossbow and sword, and went to his new customers.
There is a saying in the south: Heaven and earth are like gold and blood. One conditionally affects the other.

12-05-2009, 22:33 (This post was last modified: 27-02-2011, 00:54 by Ichigo.)

There was a lot of activity in the tavern. Normally Jo would have watched the guests with interest, would have joined in their loud laughter, but today she poked dejectedly at her plate. She had hardly any appetite.
"I wonder how long it takes to get to the Blue Mountains." Arjuk gave the potato on his fork a critical look before carefully tasting it.
"Blue mountains ... who cares. Besides, I've never seen blue mountains ...", Jo mumbled, shoving her plate to one side and resting her head on her hand. Arjuk, however, didn't seem to notice her grief.
"They're not blue, they're just called that," he explained instructively. "However, people don't seem to know you very well. But some adventurers will find themselves for the job - the few mountains can't be that dangerous!"
"Mountains, I only hear mountains the whole time! You don't look like a very talented hiker", Jo replied gruffly and examined Arjuk's clothes.
"What do you mean?" Growled Arjuk. "I've hiked for days without getting tired."
Jo suppressed a contemptuous laugh while Arjuk fished out the parchment that he had probably already shown the dealer. Almost lovingly he unfolded it and stared at it with burning eyes.
"If I only knew," he said lost in thought, "where I can find this snow root. Searching the whole mountains for such a little thing will be difficult ..."
Jo started. Every single word her new companion had spoken so far was all about this ridiculous plant!
"Do you know what you don't understand?" Jo glared at her counterpart across the table. "How can it be that someone prefers any herb to a human life! No matter how valuable this plant is, which you talk about all the time - goes you are not at all close to what you have experienced in the last few hours? You have seen death. And yet it is this plant, this spice that worries you! "Her voice tipped.
"It's not a spice," shouted Arjuk indignantly.
Jo looked at him contemptuously. He didn't seem to understand the gravity of the situation at all. "I'm really starting to believe," she murmured harshly, "that you come from a completely different world where the life of one person matters nothing ... nothing."
Jo fell silent and laboriously swallowed her tears. Farim had always seemed like a good-natured grandfather to her. They had a lot in common. And now he would never tell his mysterious stories again, with his thoughtful voice and the friendly smile on his face ... never again ...
"You know, this plant, this medicinal plant is very important to me."
Was she wrong, or did Arjuk's voice sound thick? Jo looked up in surprise, but Arjuk avoided her scrutinizing look.
"My mother is very sick," he muttered. "I don't know if this medicinal plant really helps, but ... something has to ... I mean, maybe it will soon ..."
He bit his lip. Jo looked at him in silence and with wide eyes. So that was what brought this greenhorn with his fine leather boots to the market. Now he sat slumped in front of her, his dark eyes wet. Embarrassed, she looked at the floor. She had wronged him. The value he was looking for in the plant was not one that could be measured in gold ...
Arjuk meanwhile traced the grain of the table top with his finger. The blood had rushed to his cheeks.
"You should eat something," he finally said conciliatory.

"Dear gentlemen!"
The boy turned around, startled, when he heard Vyrus ’soft, thoughtful voice. Vyrus put on an engaging smile.
"I couldn't help but overhear parts of your conversation ..."
Out of the corner of his eye, Vyrus noticed that the broad-shouldered man who had previously been watching him so suspiciously had approached. Apparently he was a mercenary who had smelled money at the sight of this young fellow. Vyrus kept his telepathic antennae with him as a precaution. Instead, he fixed his gaze on the boy, fully aware of the effect of his strange gold-colored eyes. If the stranger was indeed the offspring of a wealthy house, he should probably take a liking to the inconspicuous but elegantly dressed Vyrus, whose pale face was framed by shoulder-length, finely wavy hair.
"The gentlemen want to go to the Blue Mountains. Not a safe journey, as I know from my own experience," he said mysteriously.
"Do you know the Blue Mountains?" asked the young aristocrat in astonishment.
"Of course! Better than most," replied Vyrus with a sideways glance at the mercenary. "I know the mountains and their dangers and I am happy to provide my knowledge because my path is the same." He bowed briefly. "After all, nobody likes to travel alone."
Vyrus noted with satisfaction that the well-chosen words, his impenetrable finely carved features and the bow obviously had their effect on the young aristocrat. He eyed him with a scrutinizing but thoroughly benevolent look.
"I think we can do without your help," interjected the brightly dressed girl, who eyed Vyrus with a gloomy frown. Perhaps the intense gold-colored eyes, the pale skin had aroused her suspicion ...
"What do we mean here," the boy rebuked her. "Since when have you been going with me?"
His companion avoided the searching look.
"I don't want another column of smoke to rise," she said softly.
The boy looked at her in amazement. "Thank you," he said finally flatly.
Vyrus began to quietly wonder what this was all about, but the boy had already recovered.
"But it's still me who pays," he added thoughtfully. “So I also hire people. Have a seat, "he turned to Vyrus and added with a look at the mercenary:" And if you too want to dare the arduous journey, you too should be asked to do so. The beer is on my bill that evening. "
The stray looked at him reproachfully, but on his face was the well-calculated smile of a haggling merchant, like a mask.
As soon as Vyrus and the strange warrior sat down, the boy called for the landlady and had a mug of beer put in front of each of them. Beer - Vyrus looked morose at the golden liquid in front of him.
"Let's toast," said the boy with dignity - clearly a little too dignified for a tavern like this - and raised the jug almost imperiously.
Vyrus had to suppress a smile. His gaze met that of the mercenary and, as if on a sign, a confident smile stole onto their faces. That lanky guy wanted to drink? They raised the jugs ...

"The Blue Mountains." Young Arjuk wiped the beer foam from his lips. "Only the bravest men dare to go there ..."
"What about the brave women?" Grumbled Jo.
Arjuk ignored the objection and continued conspiratorially: "But as difficult as the journey may be, the sachet containing your reward will weigh just as heavy."
Vyrus cleared his throat. The beer seemed to have gone to the boy's head very quickly! "I can't refuse an offer like this," he said in an emphatically matter-of-fact manner, avoiding looking at the mercenary so as not to burst into laughter.
So the negotiations began between the so different people, mostly the young Arjuk talking. Although he wasn't sober a long time ago and his demeanor looked rather fluffy, Vyrus had to allow him a certain negotiating skill. He could take it for granted that the boy with the dark head of hair came from a good family. The more important was the question of what he was aiming for with this daring expedition ...
Vyrus glanced sideways at the disgruntled Jo. Did she suspect something? After careful consideration, Vyrus quietly concluded that this very young girl with her playful appearance hardly possessed such an understanding of human nature - and certainly not an understanding of monsters ...
When the exact route was discussed, the debate briefly heated up as Antar and Vyrus disagreed. The mercenary suggested the direct path along the Nyltra, but the pale man argued for the safe path near the forest. The warrior was having a little trouble speaking fluently and Vyrus grabbed his head more and more often.
Finally it was agreed to postpone the remaining questions until the next day. Arjuk was still exuberant enough to pay for the rooms for everyone, jingling his wallet euphorically and speaking louder and louder. He was going to have quite a hangover tomorrow! Vyrus began to wonder if the budget would not be exhausted when the time came with the promised rich reward.

When Antar finally stretched out on the musty hostel bed, he felt more than drowsy.
Somewhere in his head he noticed that he had drunk more than he had in a long time. At least he didn't have to give a coin for it, on the contrary, he would even earn some. Well, not right with drinking ...
A drunken fool
is seldom aware
what he says in front of others
and some have
too daring ...
With a suppressed moan, he turned on his side and tried to sleep. The next few days would be tough enough, even if he didn't lie awake all night listening to verses.
The Lord is getting careless. Soon he'll say too much ...

Vyrus strode down the stairs with a scowl, his cloak in the room. His slim figure in the black cotton clothes was hardly as impressive as the night before and the tangled head of hair was evidence of a restless night.
Vyrus paused briefly, then straightened his body. He took the last steps into the taproom with his head held high and tried to get a believable, proud look.
He hadn't expected Antar to be awake before him. And not only awake, he seemed surprisingly lively and greeted him with a malicious grin.
"Did you sleep well?" Asked the mercenary mockingly.
Vyrus glared at him and sank into the chair opposite. Even he could not oppose certain human desires and their effects. He was a little battered and knew that he couldn't use his telepathic powers for a long time.
"We should look around for equipment as soon as possible and use the day," said Vyrus dryly.
The landlady put a plate in front of his nose, the delicious smell of which had to wake up even sleepers immediately - unless they had a huge hangover.
Vyrus sipped his tea and watched the other person who hesitantly held a piece of bread between his fingers.
"Not hungry today?" He asked.
"My hunger will be satisfied often enough when I hold my reward in my hands," Antar replied evasively.
As if the mention of the upcoming assignment had been a sign, there was a noise on the upper floor, as if a soft body had fallen from a great height onto hard ground ...

Jo was crying. Her colorless face was wet with the tears that streamed down her cheeks, dripping from her chin. Not a muscle in her face twitched. Only the tears streamed. She knelt by Farim's bed. Her fixed gaze was fixed on the cold figure ...
Arjuk wanted to say something, to comfort her, but not a word escaped his lips. He turned away from her in silence, but in front of him was another death bed, on which a young man was sitting. Next to him another bed, and another, and another ... Arjuk looked in all directions over children who silently wept for their parents.
Was she here too? Arjuk paced the beds, looked into hundreds of white faces, into hundreds of dark eyes. She wasn't among them. Did that mean she was alive?
Arjuk paused. There was a boy sitting in front of his father's bed. But he did not look down at the dead man, his eyes were dry - he looked at Arjuk.
who was he? Arjuk knew that he should recognize him. He stood there paralyzed. The children's eyes caught him. So hard. Too tight. Panicked, Arjuk reared up against the power ...

"What are you doing." A girl looked down at Arjuk. It was Jo. And she giggled uncontrollably.
Arjuk carefully straightened up and noticed that his left arm hurt.
"Damn it," he muttered.
He fell out of bed. The tragedy was that Jo had noticed.
"If you're awake now, breakfast is probably already on the table," grinned Jo.

Antar chewed on his bread without real interest. It was still warm and tasted delicious, slightly nutty - but he was looking forward to getting well-prepared meat between his teeth again.
Jo came down the stairs with a big grin on his face, followed by Arjuk. At the sight of him, Antar couldn't help but grin. The boy was holding his left arm; his face showed the distinct expression of a person for whom the slightest sound was like a thunder. He must have been quite a hangover, judging by the amount of barley juice he had tasted yesterday.
"Greetings, Mr. Arjuk. Have you rested?" Antar called to the boy.
He only received a low murmur in response, then Arjuk sat down heavily on a stool. He just stared dully at the plate the landlady was serving him, as if he had forgotten what to do with breakfast.
"You should eat something. The next few days will be exhausting enough," said Jo, but Arjuk vehemently refused.
"Since you are addressing it," began Antar, "I want to ask a few questions right away: on the one hand, when exactly we want to set off, on the other hand, whether we could go to a certain shop in town for ... special equipment." He patted his sturdy crossbow, grinning.
"May one ask," said Vyrus, "what do you want to pay for them?"
"Expenses", said Antar and patted Arjuk briefly on the shoulder.
"I have to tell you something," he mumbled ashamed.
"We already heard what happened", Antar grinned with a look at the ceiling, and Jo couldn't help but giggle. Arjuk blushed.
"It's about money," he said sharply.

The word money seemed to have an effect on the mercenary. "What about it," he said, worried, "have you already spent too much?"
"Not yet," sighed Arjuk. His head was buzzing. "But I don't know how long the money will last if we get all of the equipment you suggested yesterday."
The truth was that when he secretly escaped from the palace, he had barely been able to think clearly, let alone calculate the costs. In addition, the short time he had spent in town had made another problem clear to him: although he knew how much gold was needed to run a regiment, he had no idea what a loaf of bread or a tankard of beer was cost.
“That means,” he concluded, “that you won't get your reward until we've found the plant I'm looking for and are back in Noato. Only then can I go back to ... well, home, and increase my budget. "
The two men looked at each other.
"So that's how it is," growled Antar, who didn't look particularly enthusiastic. "Why can't you just ... add something right now?"
Arjuk rubbed his temples. If his head weren't so heavy, he would have come up with an elegant story of lies. As it was, he grumbled, "Because my father is killing me. He thinks the whole thing is a fairy tale and wouldn't let a coin jump for this expedition."
"So we'll only get our reward if we find this green stuff and bring it back," said Antar. "What if we don't find it? What if it doesn't grow anywhere, there, in these mountains?"
What if it doesn't grow anywhere? Arjuk swallowed. Involuntarily his fingers felt for the parchment; the image of white faces flashed through him. He couldn't go back ...
His hand touched Farim's work. Only now did he realize that he didn't want to go back either. Not until he solved the riddle Farim had given him. He couldn't figure out what it was, but the old man must have seen something very important ...
"If we don't find the plant, I'll sell my sword and you can share the proceeds," he said firmly. And then I'll go to the palace alone and let myself be cut into four parts, he thought gloomily, but he kept it to himself. He didn't want the others to think he was a snot who was afraid of his father's scolding.
"You can have my share," said Jo to Antar and Vyrus. "Maybe I'll take a little something to live with, but I don't need much."
"Well," said Antar conciliatory, "that should be enough incentive ..."

Blinking, Vyrus stared into the morning, visibly enjoying the warming rays of the sun on his pale skin. The sun ... He was well aware of Antar's suspicious looks, but deliberately ignored them.
"Are the gentlemen ready then?" He asked with an impatient glance at the mercenary, who checked the equipment one last time.
"Yes, we shouldn't waste any more time," said Jo with an adventurous twinkle in her eyes. She was the only one who was smiling fresh and cheerful all over her face. Without waiting for her companions, she set off lightly.
"Wait!" Arjuk shouldered his bundle and followed on her heels.
The mercenary from the south packed away the last blanket, then stood next to Vyrus. Shaking their heads, the two men watched their self-appointed charges leave without looking back.
"Do you need us?" Muttered Vyrus.
"Are you paying us?" Antar replied and followed them.
Vyrus took one last look around. Noato had long since awakened, but was not yet showing his loudest and impetuous side.
Vyrus was somewhat irritated. An idea? A ... presence?
He shook his head unwillingly and strode forward.

20-05-2009, 10:53 (This post was last edited: 20-09-2009, 23:48 by Ichigo.)

2.1 It finally starts ...!
They had left the city and were wandering east, basing themselves roughly on the Nyltra. As long as they could still use the well-developed road towards Kayro’har, they would make rapid progress. Certainly a trader soon found himself on this section of the road who would take them with him on his wagon for a few coins. Behind Kayro’har, however, there were only one or two medium-sized towns or cities that were largely unnoticed on the banks of the Nyltra. Then only a few carts would cross their path, but at least the settlements offered an opportunity to get provisions or equipment before we finally went into the mountains. After all, that was the reason why Vyrus had agreed to choose the route along the Nyltra - even though the smell of the nearby arm of water sent a shiver down his spine.
Arjuk's loud laughter roused Vyrus from his thoughts.
"Well, it's pretty simple, isn't it?" The boy was saying.
"Just because it's kept simple doesn't mean it is bad," Jo replied with a defiant expression. Noato was barely behind them, and already the two seemed to be involved in an argument.
"I didn't say badly," said Arjuk. "I only said that it is immediately noticeable about the picture that Farim neither had proper colors nor had any special training."
"And do you think he should?"
"Well." Arjuk shrugged. "The result would certainly have been more realistic and ... more impressive."
"Realistic. Impressive. I don't think that was his goal when he picked up the brush, ”said Jo.
"Oh, and why should you paint a picture, if not to impress your viewer?"
"Have I misheard or are you arguing about the fine arts?" Vyrus whispered to the mercenary, but he just shrugged his shoulders and grunted something incomprehensible.
Vyrus smiled. In front of him there was indeed an interesting composition made up of the most varied of sounds. There was the inscrutable juggler. She had overcome her misery and was now cheerful and relaxed, but Vyrus still remembered her suspicious look too well to underestimate her - a rather mysterious sound that could well become a crescendo. That was what Vyrus thought of her, at least for the time being.
Then Arjuk, a faint whisper, the aftermath of which could leave enormous traces. Every minute he confirmed Vyrus' suspicions that the boy was from a good family, more. He was actually a nobleman, as he was written, if it weren't for this one flaw: He had embarked on this expedition, a more than just unusual undertaking for an upscale family, and Vyrus still wasn't quite sure what the purpose was the whole actually served.
Finally the mercenary, a rude tone, but so deep that Vyrus resolved to watch out for him. After all, he didn't know how far his scale could go.
And then there was ...
Vyrus paused. He looked around out of the corner of his eye. Why couldn't he help feeling that they were being watched! He shook his head and put the problem off until later. His thoughts were still a little numb from the restless night, his feelings deceptive. And, he called himself to order, who should be chasing a tour group like this?
“A car!” Jo's call tore him from his thoughts. Vyrus smiled in relief when he saw the cart approaching them from Noato.
"Let's take a short break until he catches up with us," he suggested.

"Everything OK?"
With a groan, Doronin opened his eyes a crack, but quickly closed them again when a stab of pain shot through his head.
"What happened?" He muttered confused.
"I passed here and you were lying unconscious on the grass," explained the strange voice. A soft, rough woman's voice.
At the same moment Doronin was caught up with his memory again.He had wandered near the river, always careful not to get too close to the main road, because after human encounters he didn’t exactly suit him. He inhaled the heavy smell of moss and resin; as he tried to steer his steps to the edge of the forest, the view of lush meadows awaited him, through which the glittering ribbon of the Nyltra wound.
Doronin had been so fascinated by the sight that he had not noticed someone sneaking up on him from behind. The last thing he could remember was a sharp pain that exploded in the back of his head ...
Now Doronin opened her eyes and looked into the face of a mask. He eyed the figure in front of him, puzzled. She was completely wrapped in a dark cloak, her face covered by an expressionless mask, behind which the woman's voice that had brought him back to consciousness only sounded muffled. Had she knocked him down? A blade of grass tickled Doronin's cheek and whispered that she had done nothing to him.
Doronin sat up carefully. His eyes fell on a rolled piece of paper. A message?
"I am glad that you are better," said the strange woman, who looked restlessly around the path. “But I have to go on now. Farewell."
"Wait!" Cried Doronin as the masked woman turned to leave.
"Psssst!" The woman had turned around and insistently put her finger over the mask lips. "Be quiet!"
Doronin lowered her voice, startled. "What's your name and where are you going?" He asked.
"My name is none of your business," replied the stranger impatiently. "As for my goal, I want to go to the Blue Mountains. And I'm in a hurry."
The blue mountains? The druid thought for a moment. After this mysterious attack, it seemed like the best thing to do to travel together. He didn't want company, but the strange woman didn't seem to be a fan of big talk. That she would be considered strange in the eyes of most people didn't bother him at all.
"My name is Doronin and my destination is yours," he explained. "What do you think if we travel together?"
The woman gave a small laugh. "I don't think you'd want to wander off the beaten track without talking," she replied. But Doronin smiled. He was right about her.
"This is perfectly in my favor," he assured with satisfaction. "Since I am familiar with nature, it will also be easy for me to show you the best path away from the trade route."
A barely noticeable sigh seemed to lift the stranger's chest. "All right," she growled, unconvinced. "There's no harm in trying." She rose in a single flowing movement.
As they set off, Doronin unrolled the paper and read:

Dear victim,
Please forgive my rude way of attacking you. My name is Grond and I mistook you for a bush thief who stole my bushes from me. Should you have escaped the clutches of the reaper and continue on your way, I wish you all the best on your journey and the luck not to fall victim to another misunderstanding.

Grond of shrub

The druid shook his head as he put the letter away.

Antar had a bad feeling when Arjuk of all people stopped the cart. It was one of the smaller cars that ran on this street. The gaunt man on the driver's seat, whose temples were already graying, looked at the travelers somewhat disgruntled.
"You want to go with me?" He asked without any ado. "How many are you?"
"Four people," answered Arjuk matter-of-factly. "So it shouldn't be a problem to accommodate us all on the ... wagon."
"I think that's a problem." The man gave Arjuk an impenetrable look. "Four people, that's a lot, boy."
Arjuk had turned red at the words. Antar was about to intervene, but Vyrus had already stepped next to the boy and was now speaking to the dealer in his calm manner: “We are aware that we are not a small group. However, the effort will also be outweighed in gold. "
"You can jump up for three thalers per nose per day," growled the trader.
Arjuk gasped noticeably. Before anyone could stop him, he shouted indignantly: “Out of the question! Vyrus, we can't lose all of our budget to every cutthroat that runs along. In the condition in which the cart is, you should rather ask for money to do this trip anyway. "
Vyrus' golden eyes warned Arjuk, but it was already too late.
"Tell me, boy, who do you think you are," growled the man on the driver's seat. "I don't even sell myself for ten thalers for someone like that."
Without even greeting them, the driver clicked his tongue and left the travelers standing by the roadside.
Antar and Vyrus exchanged a look. Antar was beginning to wonder if the boy came from a higher class than he had previously assumed: He stared after the driving dealer as stunned as if it were the first time in his life that someone had not danced to his tune. It would take a lot of patience to gently teach the spoiled boy a few things ...
"You idiot!" Jo tapped his forehead. "Are you crazy? How is anyone supposed to take us away when you act like that! "
Apparently she doesn't believe in “gentle” methods.
"Let's go on," Antar muttered quickly, but his attempt at de-escalation was already drowned in Arjuk's resolute reply. During the next half hour Antar and Vyrus brought a noticeable amount of distance between themselves and their protégés, whose argument shifted from some painted scraps of cloth to dealing with others in general and with musty dealers in particular.
It's good if the gypsy takes on the dirty work.
Antar smiled. There was something to it ...

Vyrus fanned the embers until a cozy little fire cast its glow into the dreary shadows of the cave. The last chips that could be found pelted comfortably and plunged their little world into apparent peace. Absently, Vyrus addressed his word to the young man, who had been crouching next to him for a while and watched his actions with fascination.
"We were lucky to find this cave. From tomorrow our nights will certainly be more uncomfortable."
Arjuk was silent. Vyrus looked him in the eye. Like most people, the nobleman could not resist the golden glow for long and averted his gaze.
"Mistakes are there to be learned from them, my friend," he said, clapping his shoulder. He could see from the rich youth that he didn't know what to make of it, but other things troubled Vyrus. When the mercenary came in with one arm of firewood, he looked up.
"Are you all right out there?" Asked Vyrus.
Antar just shrugged. "What should be big, apart from the few hungry wolves and murderous bandits," he grinned.
Vyrus stared into the fire. Yes, what should be there ...

A slim figure stood at the edge of the forest, melted into the night. She stared at the flickering firelight that came from the cave entrance some distance away.
Sirala smiled behind her mask. Not even the man with the golden eyes seemed to have noticed that the lively dinner party in Noato's tavern had been watched and overheard.
Now that she was out of town, Sirala had overcome the first hurdle. In time she had learned to sneak through narrow streets, to slip past the market stalls; determined, but not so fast that she would attract attention. It was the movement people perceived for a moment in the corner of their eyes, and if anyone turned to look at it, the nameless shadow would have disappeared again into the restless crowd. Today, however, when she was on the heels of the group, more often than usual she had been forced to leave the sheltered corners and face the gaze.
Sirala hated her, those glances that stealthily glanced at her, only to quickly look away again - too quickly -; the faces trying to look disinterested, while behind the forehead was the question: What is she hiding behind her mask?
I don't think you want to know ...
Sirala inhaled the cool night air. Out here she felt liberated. Here, in the woods, by the rivers, on the plains, Sirala was in her element. She would watch her victim for a few more days, study his habits. After all, everything had to work the first time if she surprised him on her own! Sooner or later there would be an opportunity to separate him from the group ... the man whose telltale features sparked an inner heat in her that she hadn't felt in years! She had waited too long for this vengeance ...
The hooded figure turned briefly to face its traveling companion, but the druid was sound asleep. Sirala took off the mask. The blind darkness would not shrink back from her face in fright.

20-09-2009, 22:44 (This post was last edited: 27-02-2011, 20:16 by mondenschein.)
Posts: 177
Topics: 12
Registered since: Feb 2008

2.2 - Water, water, and more water
They had been on the road for a few hours since they left that morning. Vyrus marched at the head of the column, Antar a short distance behind him, followed by Jo and Arjuk, walking side by side.
Antar walked forward comfortably, drawing in the cool air with every step. They had to leave the great trade route that connected Nomae’har and Kayro’har behind and now followed the poorer roads along the Nyltra. Soon the grassland on both sides of the Nyltra would be replaced by forest with all its inconveniences: smaller villages, poorer roads, hardly any more wagons and night watch because of the wild animals. At the moment, however, Kayro’har was still close and the lush plain was clearly visible. Only a few dark clouds on the eastern horizon worried Antar.
He was torn from his thoughts when Vyrus suddenly fell back and stepped to his side.
"Do you see the clouds?" asked the man with the golden eyes and inconspicuously pointed in the appropriate direction with a slight nod of the head.
"It's been half an hour. A thunderstorm is approaching in the east."
"There is hardly any protection along the road and the river. If it reaches us, it will soak us to the bone."
Antar nodded, but then said: "The wind is still blowing eastwards, away from us. If that doesn't change in the next few hours, we will still reach the edge of the forest in the dry. Have you been there before?"
Vyrus shrugged. "Perhaps once. A day's walk away is a small settlement. Nothing that bears a name. One or two huts, none of them particularly inviting."
"A full day's march, do you say?" Now Antar looked at the sky, really worried.
"At least. But the edge of the forest could offer us a little protection from the rain. We should prepare to quicken our pace should the wind actually change. "
Vyrus threw a covert but skeptical look back over his shoulder.
Antar noticed and secretly wondered what the undead's reason might have been for offering his services.
Was it just the money?
He doubted it.
Doubts are useless. Stay vigilant is the motto.