Ever since Ardelia returned from the old tree, a feeling of unease kept tugging at her. Although unsure why, she couldn’t help but feel that there was a great reason why the object was revealed to her today, rather than on any other day.
“Miss Ardelia?” She heard a soft voice near her and almost dropped the bucket of water in her hands.
“Ah! What is it, Dani?” She turned to the young girl with a smile.
“Are you unwell, Miss?” The girl looked at her with genuine concern in her eyes.
“I’m fine, don’t worry. I’ve just been lost in my thoughts, so got a little bit distracted,” she replied to the child. “Let’s get back to work.”
Although young, the girl, Danielle, was showing great promise of a Healer, which were few in numbers now. Since her own mother died when she was young, Dani did not have anyone else to guide her, aside from Ardelia, who, as a Grower, was one of the strongest filament users in the village and had the abilities closest to the girl’s. Together, they were tending to the medicinal herbs garden that was hidden behind Ardelia’s house.
The sounds coming from the village livened up, greeting a new arrival as Ardelia could distinguish from the sound of hoofs coming towards village square.
“Stay here,” she motioned to the girl as she walked around the building. Ardelia quickly recognized the rider, her father, Gard. Someone was already bringing him and the horse some water, both looked like they have been riding nonstop to come here as quickly as possible. Without anyone who had the ability to speak to animals in her village, her father was the one in charge of carrying news to and from the village and so many have already gathered around him, waiting to hear what could’ve sent him galloping home.
“Father?” Ardelia spoke as her fingers touched his forearm. The tired man turned towards her and closed his hand over hers.
“It looks beautiful,” he smiled as he nodded towards the garden. His expression, however, told Ardelia that something was very, very wrong. He then turned back towards the villagers, most of whom had already gathered, even coming from the very outskirts from the farms and orchards.
‘I’m afraid that the news are very grim. The worst that we could imagine has happened,” he spoke, his loud, raspy voice quickly shushing everyone as they listened with intent, fear slowly appearing on the faces of the people. “We must leave, as quickly as possible.” The last statement was met with murmurs and complaints.
“What’s going on?” Someone shouted from the crowd.
“How or why it all started, I do not know. But there has been an Engel uprising in the south, the one excuse that the Aerthens needed to get rid of us. They are mobilizing against us. It is only a matter of time until soldiers arrive here.”
Fear covered the faces of the villagers as they looked at each other and then back at Gard, unable to believe what they were hearing. Ardelia felt her hand squeeze her father’s arm more tightly, and his fingers tightened around her once more before he let go.
“Everyone must leave. Now!” He bellowed as he turned towards his daughter and marched past her towards their house. His command spurred the people into action, as they started moving towards their own homes to gather up the most needed essentials. Although still visibly shaken and in a state of disbelief, everyone was prepared for a day like this to come since they were small children.
Ardelia turned around and walked towards Dani, who was clenching her skirt as she watched the people disperse.
“Quickly, go gather up any of the herbs that you could use now and take as many of the seeds as you can. Then go to your house and help your father get everything together,” the girl was still standing in place, “Go, now!” Dani nearly jumped at the harshness in Ardelia’s voice and scurried back to do as she was told.
The Grower then walked into her house through the back door, seeing her father packing the most essential supplies and the few pieces of memorabilia that were small enough to carry without taking up any precious space.
“I wasn’t sure what you would want to bring with you,” he said without looking, although Ardelia could see his ears turn a slight shade of red. They didn’t see each other very often, so the man was always a little awkward around his now-grown daughter.
“I’m not coming with you,” she said, stopping him mid-movement. Gard turned to look at the Grower.
“Did you not hear a word of what I said? They are going to be here soon! We must leave,” she noticed the glint of fear in her father’s eyes and shook her head.
“You must go with the people, papa,” she spoke softly, “But there is something that I must do before I can leave this place. Don’t worry about me, I can keep myself safe and hidden if the Aerthens come here first.”
The man’s shoulders sagged, defeated. “Your mother was the same way, too. She refused to leave this place, even when we were much younger, no matter what I told her. Well, I…. Just stay safe. And when you‘re done with whatever it is that‘s keeping you here, travel north to meet us in the Great Forest.”
Ardelia walked up to her father and gave him a tight hug, “I will. You stay safe too,” letting go of him, she looked over the items that he has packed. “Take Dorie with you, she’s well rested and eager for travel. I will take care of Faren, she’s in no condition right now to ride for long distances. If I find a way, I will send you a message once I leave this place.”
It took the village just under an hour to mobilize and prepare for travel north. Some tried to persuade Ardelia to come with them, but gave up quickly when they came across her resolve. Dani looked at her mentor with fearful eyes, uncertain if she would ever see her again.
“Don’t worry, Dani, we will certainly see each other again. For now, you have a very important job. You must take care of the villagers. Whenever you can, use medicine, don’t rely on your powers too much. Conserve the energy for things that herbs alone cannot take care of. Take care of the animals, too,” Ardelia spoke to the girl, giving her a tight hug.
“You’ll come back, right?” She sniffed, her eyes red from tears. “I…I don’t want to lose you,” the girl hugged Ardelia, unwilling to let go.
“Everything will be fine, I will meet you up north,” she let the girl go and turned her towards the villagers.
The Grower watched the procession leave the village, their sights set on the Great Forest in the north. She could only pray for their safety and hope that other settlements as well receive word in time to evacuate. Ardelia patted Faren’s back as the animal grazed, the mare was still tired but looked much better than she did just an hour ago. Her own belongings along with some food were laying nearby. She wasn’t quite sure how long she had to wait for, she wasn’t even sure what she was waiting her, but she was prepared to leave as quickly as she could. For now, the old tree was rooting her to this place, the power within it resonating strong enough for her to feel even at this great distance.
Kahli moved about almost mechanically, her usually bright blue eyes dim, almost dark. Even as she turned from the Ranger, retrieved the med-kit, and set to work on the woman’s body the only thing that kept playing through her mind was the sight of her mother falling to the ground, a blossom of dark life spreading across her chest. She should have been paying attention, should have watched and expected something like that to happen; she could have stopped the spike, she knew she could have.
“I am called Kahli, Ranger,” she said in her soft, normally musical voice, now low and bleak. Though the light was low, she was still accessing the filaments around them, and through the power of a Fist she could make out the woman, her face pale from pain, the blood that made streaks in her coat. She helped her take it off, as gently as she could. When proffered a pair of small tongs with which to grab and pull the spike free, she simply shook her head, gripped the piece of metal between two fingers, and pulled it free. A small amount of blood gushed from the wound, but it didn’t spurt, which she took for a good sign. She placed a patch on it for now, letting the blood saturate it and hold it in place. Next she attended to the wound on the woman’s back, spreading a golden ointment on the laceration. Done with that she removed the patch from the Ranger’s arm, applied the ointment, patched it again, and then wrapped the arm and shoulder as best she could.
“That’s the best I can do for now,” the fifteen-year old said, straightening up from the Ranger. “Just hope we don’t have to do anything strenuous soon, or they will start bleeding again. I don’t think any of them need stitches, just time to heal.” Time we don’t have, she added silently.
Kahli looked toward the entrance of the cave, where Ren had disappeared to gather wood and likely scout the area around them. She wanted badly to go after him, make sure he was ok, protect him. All her life she had thought of him weak, and that it was her duty to keep him safe since he always refused to fight. After watching him tonight however, she would have to re-think her opinion on her half-brother. She reached around and gripped the bottom portion of her Scythe, fingers brushing her long dark hair in the process. She grimaced at that, her hair. She had always kept it long to mostly cover the large bulk of the weapon strapped to her back, to draw less attention to it.
“May I borrow your knife,” she asked the Ranger, turning to her in the darkness, hand held out. Her eyes, moments before so dim as to be normal Aerthan eyes, now seemed to have a bit of their life back.
"Nice to meet you, Kahli."
As the girl tends her wounds, Reyna studies her. She'd thought the girl to be close to her brothers age at first, but now upon closer inspection she finds that she was wrong in that assumption. The girl must be no more then sixteen, which would make her substantially younger than her brother. It's hard to see anything in detail much farther then a few feet, and she is only able to see that thanks to her years of night patrols. However what she can see tells her a lot about the girl. Strong arms, bulging with muscle, and a sturdy frame, tells Reyna that the girl most likely has blacksmith blood in her, or at least something along that vein that requires finely tuned muscle in large amounts.
Kahli gives Reyna some words of reassurance before standing up and looking out towards the exit. It's obvious the girl is worried about her brother, and Reyna can't blame her for being anxious. If she wasn't so anemic, she'd be pacing frantically with worry, wondering if her adoptive father made it away safely. She does her best to give the girl a reassuring smile, that she may or may not be able to see in the dark, as she uses her good hand to pull her hat from her head, setting it down next to her carefully.
"Your brother will be fine. Derek, my hawk friend, followed him out. He'll keep watch and let me know if anyone or anything comes within a mile of us. If he calls once there are enemies approaching, while twice means possible allies instead."
After doing her best to sound reassuring, Reyna turns her attention to the med-kit next to her. She spends the next few minutes doctoring the graze on her leg, and making sure it is free of debris. Once that is done she rummages around until she finds a small pouch full of leaves. She puts one of the leaves in her mouth, and chews it, the taste is bitter to the point that she wants to gag, but she keeps on chewing. Eventually the chemicals in the leaf works, making the majority of her pain fade to the back of her mind. She waits an extra minute to be sure that the medicine is in effect before slowly getting to her feet. What comes next is a routine she developed back when it was her job to deal with unruly animals, and would get thrown or trampled. Starting with her toes, she slowly flexes every joint and muscle, learning more clearly where she is injured, and where she needs to be careful. The pain heightens as she does her check, but she shoves it to the back of her mind.
Once done, she steps across the cave and begins to untack her stallion, so his back can rest. After the saddle is placed against the wall, she runs her hands over the soft hide of her horse, checking for injuries. The stallion has some cuts of his own, but nothing serious. It takes her longer then it should to return to her former seat and retrieve the med-kit, but she still manages to do it all the same. The stallion stands patiently while she doctors the tears in his skin. She dismisses him with a friendly pat, causing the large horse to move farther into the cave to get a drink.
Although painful, Reyna manages to return the med-kit to her saddlebags. The chill of the damp cave begins to sink into her bones, making it even harder to stay upright. Near the back of the cave, the horses are huddled, sleeping on their feet. Reyna smiles at their tired forms as she unties a blanket from her saddle. With the last of her energy she wraps the blanket around her shoulders and returns to her former seat against the small boulder near the cave's center. Once settled into a somewhat comfortable position, she closes her eyes and leans her head back against the hard rock. Thoughts of home fill her mind, the summer dinners out under the evening sky with her adoptive family. Rosie had always loved Engel lore and songs, so she had learned them and taught them to her children, so they wouldn't forget their heritage. With her eyes closed, Reyna can hear her stepmother softly singing an old engel song. The melody is one of her favorites, and the ranger begins to hum it softly to herself, but humming isn't enough for her aching heart. All the death has left her feeling colder then usual, and the need to feel connected to her heritage thrums in her veins. Ever so softly, Reyna sings, just loud enough that she can hear herself.
"Land of horse, and land of falcons
Land that gave us birth and blessing
Land that called us ever homewards
We will go home across the mountains
We will go home, we will go home
We will go home across the mountains
We will go home, we will go home
We will go home across the mountains"
The words bring back memories of the before times. Before she was a ranger, back when her fellow engels had treated her as one of their own.
"Land of freedom, land of heroes
Land that gave us hope and memories
Hear our singing, hear our longing
We will go home across the mountains
We will go home, we will go home
We will go home across the mountains
We will go home, we will go home
We will go home across the mountains"
A single tear threatens to run down her dirty cheek, but the ranger quickly dashes it from her eye before it has a chance to fall.
-->Need help or questions answered in regards to RPing? PM me! I'm more then glad to help!<--
Kahli took the knife that was proffered to her as the ranger finished tending her thigh and gained her feet, unsteadily as that achievement was. The young woman sat on the rock vacated by the Ranger, listening as she spoke of the Hawk, realizing then that she must be a Speaker, on that could commune with animals of all types. Somewhat satisfied that Ren would be fine out there in the darkness, she tore her gaze from the open maw that lead into the night and focused on the Ranger, watching as the tall woman managed to remove the saddle from the large horse. She thought to offer assistance, but somehow knew that it would not be needed, nor welcome.
Silence descended for a moment before the soft words melted into the air, words of a song that Kahli had never heard. The tone was familiar, somewhat, and she thought it must be one of the lullabies hummed by her mother when she was a child. Hearing the words now, the pain that was wrapped up in the simple lyrics caused her heart to twist within her chest. A pain shot through the organ, and again she saw her mother falling to the cold ground, the blood and the blossoming.
Her luminous green eyes ventured to the blade held in her lap, her hair falling forward to hide part of her face with its curtains of darkness. The hair had been nothing but a symbol of their captivity, the fact that she wore it loose and long for the sole purpose of hiding. If nothing else was a symbol of the world they had lived in only hours before, it was that. With one hand she gathered her hair in a long pony tail, gripping it tightly at the base of her neck. She could feel strands popping from her scalp, tore out at the roots by her grip. She brought the knife up and under the large bundled gathering, and began sawing.
Though it would be barely audible to anyone else, she could hear each strand as it was sliced through, and within seconds the entire length from her shoulders to her waist fell away, slithering down her back and to the floor like headless snakes.
She brought the knife around to her lap and laid it there as the last syllable fell away into the darkness of the cave. Her gaze found the Ranger by the horses, the woman perhaps unknowingly surrounded by hundreds of miniscule filaments, slowly swirling about her as though she were their center.
“What do we do now? This will spread, our people-“ she cut off, swallowing. “What will we do?”
"What will we do?"
The fear and sadness in the girl's voice pulls at Reyna's heartstrings. The poor thing had seen her mother die in front of her just hours ago. The ranger had never known her true parents, but she had watched as one of her adopted brothers died at the hands of an aerthan merchant, so she could undertand the horror Kahli is suffering through. Ryder and Rosie had once had five children, but fate and time had been cruel. Only two of those born to them ever made it to adulthood. Luke, the youngest, and Flynn, the second born, were now grown men. Flynn has a wife now, and young Luke just turned eighteen a few weeks ago. Silently, Reyna offers a prayer to the gods that her family is safe. Her attention returns to the girl, who's hair now lies in a pool around her. The dark strands seem to drink in the tiny bits of light filtering from the front of the cave.
Reyna thinks over her answer to Kahli's question, when she speaks her voice is full of a hard strength and conviction.
"We will do what we can. The resistance has hidden tunnels and paths that will help protect those that escape the villages. There are refuges up in the mountains, that my fellow resistance fighters have kept stocked with food."
A small but strong core of engels and engel supporters had reached out to Reyna after hearing about her rescue of her fellow engel all those years ago. Slowly but surely they had come to rely on her more and more, and soon the small group grew larger. Now all of the Lanakila family was involved, not just their adoptive daughter. Many an engel family had been snuck to safety at night, or an aerthan raiding party disabled before they could reach their intended targets.
"I don't know what you or your brother plan, and I cannot speak for our race as a whole. But I think it's time we leave this accursed land. The aerthans never wanted us, and with the passing of time they've only grown to hate us more. I'm sick of needing to be part of a resistance. We need a place of our own. I refuse to bow and scrape to another of those bastards."
The last words leave her lips, and the years of anger behind them cause her blood to warm slightly, banishing the chill from her body. The horses around her shuffle and huff uneasily in response to her irritation, wondering if they should be worried about something. Their reaction forces Reyna to calm herself, and she sends a warm blanket of thought at the equines to calm them.
Ren walked in just in time to hear the Ranger speaking, but said nothing as he looked his sister over. He was shocked at first to see her hair cut shorter than he’d seen it since she was a toddler, roughly at that. It was on his lips, the words to question her, when he remembered the reason why she’d always kept it so long; to help draw attention away from her Scythe. That’s right, unlike him, everything she’d done since the age of ten had been with thought of resisting, of fighting in mind. Almost he let a feeling of shame wash through him, but at the same time he knew that he had done what he’d had to do in order to protect his family in the only ways he knew how.
From the open entry way, though you couldn’t see the night beyond due to the way the opening curved, Ren said, “We will do what we have to do for the survival of our people. If they have been hiding out for long as you say, there should already be a form of order.”
He walked past his sister and the ranger, vanishing around the small partition at the back of the cave. It was only five or six feet deep, but it would help further diffuse the glow that was soon to come from a fire. Ren created a small stack of kindling, the thin twigs standing on their ends and leaning against one another, then overlaid those with larger sticks, until finally every piece of would in the large bundle he’d carried in was placed just so, forming a pyre some two feet tall. With flint and steel from his pouch, Aerthan’s had strikers, but such had always been forbidden to Engels, he struck it several times before finally catching a spark.
“We have somewhere we have to go before we can find these caves though,” he said in between light coaxing breaths upon the glowing embers that were slowly being coaxed into a small flame. “It is a village north of here, on the other side of the mountains.” He sat back on his heels, the flame having become several that were slowly but surely eating up the wood as if starving.
From just beyond his shoulder, having followed him apparently, Kahli said, “It was what Mother was saying just before…” Ren nodded.
“We’ll go there, then figure out the rest.” He stood up and stepped around his sister, gently pushing her into the depression. He looked over at the Ranger. “You should come warm yourself, if you like.” He gestured with his head toward the fire, then looked up at the ceiling to make certain the smoke was doing as he hoped, which it was. Thin and thick tendrils of it rose fluidly toward the rocks above, following an unseen draft that would carry them up through the mountain and harmlessly into the air, if it even made it that far.
The fire slowly comes to life, thanks to the shepherd's careful tending. Getting up again had been painful, but the warmth was a worthy reward for her effort. The stone wall presses against her back, helping her tired body stay upright, the dark wool blanket wrapped tightly around her shoulders. As she had settled herself, she'd mulled over the conversation the shepherd had shared with his sister, and his offer for her to join them on their quest.
"Before I make any decision about whether or not to continue to travel with you, I'd like to know your name and more about you and your sister."
The firelight catches the gold in her eyes and makes them glow brighter as her gaze focuses on the young man.
"As I told Kahli, I'm Captain Reyna Lanakila."
She'd worked hard for that title, and just dropping it from her name rubs against her pride. Just because she no longer serves with the Aerthans doesn't make her any less a captain or a ranger for that matter. The routine, code of honor, discipline, even the uniform, had all become a part of her, and trying to remove that would be denying part of herself.
"Where exactly is this village, and what is it's name? I may know a way there."
Part of her rebels at the idea of accompanying the siblings anywhere, as her heart is worried sick about the fate of her adoptive father and the rest of her family, but she stuffs those feelings out of sight, as worrying will do her no good.
Ren runs a hand through his dark hair at the Ranger’s mention of knowing his name. Normally he would have already introduced himself and felt a small burning of shame creep up his cheeks at his oversight, though the night had been pretty full. He leans back against the wall, palms flat against the cool rock, the firelight dancing in his luminous gaze as he turns to her, nodding his head.
“Forgive me, my name is Ren. Kahli has more manners than I do it seems.” He smiled over at his sister. She chose to sit where she could see the entry to the cavern but at the same time feel the heat that would soon be radiating outwards. She looked strange with her hair cut short, but somehow it felt right to him on this night of endings and beginnings. Her scythe rose above her right shoulder, glimmers of orange light reflecting dimly off its grey metallic surface. His sister glanced over at him now, smiled softly, and looked away.
“As to where we are going, Ranger, it is a village to the north called Sater, just outside of Haetar Prefecture. I was very young when we left, and we did so during the night, so all I know is from an old map our mother had. It is between these mountains and the Great Forest to the north, but aside from that I cannot say. I hope to learn more after we get through this place.”
Reyna listens to Ren's words, turning them over in her mind. The name of the village is vaguely familiar, but she cannot quite place why, thanks to her exhaustion. She probably visited it during her rookie years in the rangers, when her aerthan superiors had thrown every long distance pain in the ass message run her way in hopes of driving her out of their ranks. Unreasonable deadlines that would leave her without sleep for days, sabotaged tack and equipment, foul weather, it all wore her down and she'd come close to resigning more then once, but her stubborn nature refused to give the bastards what they wanted.
Air movement, ever so slight, causes the ranger's eyes to open and gaze into the darkness. A shape begins to emerge from the black, moving fast. For a brief second she thinks of moving for her dirk, but then her senses finish processing the information they'd received, causing her to relax again. A slight smile graces her face as her hawk swoops towards the fire, talons opening to drop something at Kahli's feet. With a ruffle of feathers, the large bird of prey lands on Reyna's shoulder and stares at the young woman across from him with expectation, golden eyes gleaming. His gift of a large rabbit, head at an awkward angle, showing that the hawk's powerful talons had ended it's life quickly by snapping it's neck.
Reyna smiles at Kahli after cocking her head to the side, listening to something the other two couldn't hear.
"Derek said he heard your stomachs grumbling when we entered the forest, and that if you kept it up all night he wouldn't be able to sleep so he decided to feed you."
The hawk twitters, golden eyes bright with good humor. Reyna raises her good arm and strokes the soft down on the bird's throat with an affectionate smile on her face.
At the unusual sound near the cave entrance Kahli looks around. As her body is still open to the filaments around her she is able to dimly make out the large bird of prey as it guides through the relative darkness, then watch as it swoops low and drops its burden at her feet. The animal rolls a few times before settling close, head at the awkward angle denoting a break.
The girl looks from the rabbit, to the Ranger, and then to Ren, her eyebrow raised. Her brother rose, picked up the creature, and walked to the flat rock where Reyna had sat earlier when her wounds were being tended. The sound of a knife slipping from a leather sheathe breaks the silence among the crackle of embers from the fire. She realizes the knife is probably one taken from the corpse of either a Ranger or one of the enraged Aerthan civilians. She watches for a moment, able to see him as though they were outside under a full moon while he slips the knife into the rabbit, splitting it open to remove still steaming entrails. Her gaze shifts back to Reyna.
“My brother always cooked when,” she paused for a second, luminous green eyes closing briefly, then opening. “When mother had to be elsewhere. Leave it to me and I’d probably burn all the meat away.”
In less than five minutes Ren was back, having skinned, gutted, and pitted the rabbit on a long thin stick found outside the cavern. He sets this on a shelf above the fire, propping each end in a crevice which leaves the meal slightly askew, but still good enough to cook through. He looked at the bird, then at Reyna.
“Tell him thanks,” Ren says, nodding at the creature. “For everything he’s done tonight.”
He crouches down with his back to the slowly warming rocks, arms crossed over his knees. Soon the sound of fat sizzling and popping in the cooking meat, along with the smell, fills the cavern.
I find it interesting that most of your featherless brethren don't think we can understand them. My inability to speak your tongue doesn't make me deaf.
The hawk's voice echoes in Reyna's mind, with hints of annoyance evident. Reyna strokes the large bird's plumage soothingly before smiling at Ren.
"He says you're welcome."
As she finishes speaking a yawn escapes her lips, she mutters an apology as she covers her mouth in an attempt to be polite. The warmth of the fire has seeped into her bones, soothing her tired muscles. She shifts into a more comfortable position, leaning against the rocky wall, blanket still wrapped tight around her shoulders. Her shifting forces Derek from his perch, and he flutters down into her lap, golden eyes reflecting the firelight as he nests in her lap. The ranger closes her eyes, safe in the knowledge that her hawk and horse would notice any approaching danger long before she would be able to. The pop and hiss of burning fat from the rabbit combines with the small sounds of the flames. Reyna's heavy eyelids shut, and she is asleep in moments.
((Mass Effect has been distracting me, apologies.))
As the ranger drifted away from consciousness Ren rose and walked to the cave entrance, turning once he was in the open to make sure none of the firelight reflected from the walls and would be seen from a distance. Nothing shone or flickered thanks to the natural baffle the twisting corridor of stone made naturally by the mountain. He heard soft steps behind him and turned as Kahli rushed into his open arms. He held her tight and felt the silent, body-wracking sobs as she poured out the grief that had been trapped within her small form all night. He wished he could do the same, lean into her and weep for what was lost, but knew he didn’t have that luxury right now.
After a few minutes she stilled and he pulled back to look down at her. Her face was red, tear-streaked and so young-looking. Sometimes he forgot that she was really little more than a child, even in their harsh world.
“It’s going to be alright Kal, we’ll be alright,” he whispered softly. She watched him for a moment, and then nodded. Ren could see her pulling the broken fragments of her composure back together, the deep steadying breath, wiping away the tears that left tracks through the dirt and grime from their travels.
“I know, I just miss her so much,” Kahli said in a hushed, hurt tone. He squeezed her once and put his hands on her shoulders, pushing her back slightly.
“We have to be strong, for each other and for her.” And for our people, he added silently. “So, I’ll keep watch for now, you go eat and get some sleep. Just be sure to save some food for the Ranger.”
“Wake me in a few hours so you can get some sleep Ren, ok?” He nodded. A few minutes later she brought him some sizzling strips of rabbit, kissed his cheek, and padded back into the cavern to curl up on her coat by the fire. Ren climbed the rocks at the front of their cavern to perch there. He opened the gates within his core and let the filaments around him light the darkness.
Reyna's internal clock wakes her despite her body's need of sleep in order to heal. Her eyes open as the sky begins to lighten outside the cave entrance. All her joints are stiff with disuse and fatigue, she is careful to roll and stretch each one before attempting to rise. The bandage on her shoulder pulls, irritating the healing wound underneath, but she ignores it. Her eyes note the curled up form of Kahli, fast asleep.
Careful not to make any noise, Reyna makes her way into the front of the cave to check on the horses. Eomer regards her with warm brown eyes, having been awake for awhile, his fellow equines still sleeping on locked knees. The soles of her leather boots tread softly on the rock and dirt floor of the cave as the ranger walks over to stand by her mount.
Derek out hunting?
Aye, said there were plenty of mice and he wants to make sure the way will be clear for us to leave.
Unconsciously, she takes her lower lip between her teeth and gently nibbles at it as she thinks about the possibility of any aerthans having caught up with them. The chance is slim, but not completely impossible.
Where is the Shepherd, Ren?
Still at the cave entrance, keeping watch. He smells of exhaustion and grief.
Reyna releases her lip and nods her friend, she pats him on the shoulder before removing the blanket from her shoulders. Once rolled neatly she secures it to the back of her saddle, which is still propped up out of the way. Her green coat is stained with blood and dirt, with new holes for her to patch from the previous day's battle. Her eyes inspect the heavy wool before brushing it off and pulling it back on carefully. Her sword is put in it's scabbard and then fastened to her belt, secure on her left side.
Walking makes the cut on her thigh twinge, but it's nothing serious. As she gets closer to the mouth of the cave she can see a heavy fog all but completely hiding the forest from view. Fog this thick will delay their departure, as the horses would have a hard time picking their way through the rocks and roots if they are unable to even see the ground in front of their hooves.
Once she's located Ren's hiding spot, she speaks softly.
"Why don't you grab a quick bit of shut eye? We'll need to wait for the fog to burn off before we can safely leave anyways, and you're no good to us half dead."
Throughout the night Ren had watched the darkness through eyes that made it seem like late evening instead of deep twilight. The power of a Fist, to see, use, and control to some extent the Filaments that make up the world. He had observed rabbits and rodents scurry from one pile of rocks to another in search of vegetation or other, smaller creatures as perhaps a midnight snack. Several times he thought about going into the cavern and passing out, to rely on the Ranger’s abilities with animals to warn them of anyone or anything getting to close to their hideaway, but the thought of relying on something other than himself or his sister always pulled him up short. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust her, it was just that he couldn’t put the life of his only family in the hands of another.
Radiant eyes, glowing in the pale nightscape, looked toward the sky above where a million lights shone. The brilliant lights, at least brilliant to his enhanced vision, seemed almost alive as their lights pulsed with the energy of the universe. As he watched several began to move, then streaked across the landscape of darkness, blazing a trail of white fire as their lives were spent in one final act of beauty. It was an omen among the Engels, that to see a star die was a portent of death to come. He closed his eyes against the burned afterimage of the dying celestials’ path.
“She will not die,” he vowed to the skies above, fixing in his mind an image of his sister, that small sly smile on her face that sometimes appeared when she was in the midst of saying or doing something clever. She was all he had left now, and he would give everything to protect her.
’And what of your people?’ A small voice whispered in his mind, conjuring of its own volition the images of his friends and neighbors being slaughtered not twelve hours ago right beside him.
What of his people? Was it enough just to save his sister?
The sound of soft boot steps reached his enhanced hearing and on reflex he reached for the dagger at his side, the same one his sister had used to chop off her hair earlier that night. No other part of his body moved except his lungs, breathing in deeply of the weakening night’s air. He smells woodsmoke, rabbit, and horses through the filaments that he breathes into his body, his mind somehow being able to make the distinction even when he inherently could not. He turned toward the Ranger as she approached.
“Why don't you grab a quick bit of shut eye? We'll need to wait for the fog to burn off before we can safely leave anyways, and you're no good to us half dead."
He looked from her to the sky once more, the stars now all but banished as the light of a new day began to creep its way along the canopy of night. Despite his will to be as far from Stane as possible, he knew she was right. He had to be able to think clearly and quickly when they once more set out away from their temporary shelter. He stood, stretching aching muscles and nodded.
“Nothing moved in the night but rabbits and mice, so it’s safe to assume we left no trail,” he said as he leaped from the boulder he had been perched upon, landing lightly, if unsteadily, beside the woman. “If your feathered friend wishes to take pity on us again tell him to feel free to drop another meal off. We can clean it before we leave, and-“ his words broke for a jaw-cracking yawn, “have it later.”
With a nod he set off into the cave where he settled down beside his still sleeping sister. As soon as he let go of that inner power to take advantage of the Filament power weariness crashed into his body like a hammer against an anvil. He was asleep before actually laying his head down on the stone.
While Reyna watches the fading mists, thoughts of her family tickle at her brain. Worry thrusts it's way into her heart. Fear of what might happen to her Mother and brothers, and fear for her Father who narrowly escaped the massacre. She only lets her emotions torture her for a few moments before walling them away at the back of her mind. She turns her attention to checking the various weapons on her person, sharpening blades as needed before returning them to their hidden sheathes.
While the ranger works, her falcon brother fulfills the shepherd's request. He catches another hare and a squirrel, which he leaves beside the fire. With his help finished he perches on the green wool clad shoulder belonging to Reyna. After one more glance around the land before them, the hawk tucks his head under a wing and grabs some rest while he can.
There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)