Private Tales A Murder of Crows

Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

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“So you’ll accompany me? I suppose I would enjoy the company.”

He nodded, and then with his free hand tucked his hair behind an ear as he took one last look behind, and then started forward. He was accustomed to traveling off the path, but did think that the further into the Spune they traveled, they may find benevolent refuge in a smaller settlement, perhaps unaware of the rumours that were about. But, he would differ to her comfort - it was her safety that was in greater peril, after all.

And this would prove all too true, as a second(or third) sellsword had found her - and him. Erën reacted swiftly, drawing his sword loose and intercepting the mercenary's elusive attack.

There was a loud clang as their blades met.

"Hold! The one you seek is-"

"Quiet!"

The mercenary pushed against Erën with a grunt, and the drew back before swinging his sword once more. Erën met it again, and this time did not move to hold, parrying it to the side instead. From there, a back and forth between the two ensued, and the mercenary fought fervently for his coin.

 
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Namidre, though useless in close combat, was clearly adept in a support role despite her clear lack of experience. She had begun to conjure various things that kept the mercenary from getting the upper hand, and to give Erën a hand. She had conjured mostly more comets, which were only lethal with direct hits, were very useful for sending the mercenary off balance by making miniature impact explosions at his feet, usually behind him to minimize risk of accidentally hitting her ally. In addition came a fire that was numerous unnatural hues, mimicking the colors of a nebula, and was quite hot. This fire she used to attack the mercenary’s weapon hand, which despite his armor, eventually got too hot for him to hold, and he dropped it.
 

Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

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As he and the mercenary clashed, it became clear to him that this swordslinger, though talented, lacked the proper formal skill he would have required to best one such as Erën. What made it even simpler was Namidre's support - which was not to be downplayed. The concequences of her efforts left the mercenary unarmed and maimed. Erën delivered a forceful kick to the man, strong enough to break the man's balance and land him on his back.

Then, Erën was upon him, sword pressing against his neck.

"It is over," Erën growled, relenting for the moment - but would not hesitate to end the man right here and now should he move unpredictably, "you are beaten. Leave, and tell no one of what you've seen here."

It was a risky, and generous offer - perhaps one that would inspire co-operation. The poor fool was only operating under false pretenses anyway.

 
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"It is over," Erën growled, relenting for the moment - but would not hesitate to end the man right here and now should he move unpredictably, "you are beaten. Leave, and tell no one of what you've seen here."
The mercenary growled angrily and standing up, he moved away hastily. Not quite running, but definitely in a hurry, maybe to come back later, maybe not. When out of sight he ran, he ran a good distance, until he was quite deep into the forest, and rested on his knees. No pay this time, and now he needed to buy a new sword. Standing up he pulled out his map and began to try to orient himself, when a man in a green cloak approached him.

“Hello friend, it would appear that we share a common goal.”

Back with the duo, Namidre made sure that Erën was uninjured. Once any injuries were handled they went on their way. “So where do you hail from?”
 

Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

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He'd gone unscathed, but uncertain as to whether he'd made the proper decision in letting the man go. He watched him leave, careful to take note of each detail of the fleeing man. Erën would not be so forgiving a second time.

And so they carried on, and Erën took up his usual quiet demeanour as they went - until she addressed him, questioning him. And such was usual, to learn what all you could or cared to while journeying with one another. She was an elf, the sort he wasn't familiar with, so he too had an interest in some... chit chat.

"I come from Aeraesar, a kingdom of the eastern Falwoods. And you...?"

She had not yet mentioned her name.

"Where are you from?"

 
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"I come from Aeraesar, a kingdom of the eastern Falwoods. And you...?"

She had not yet mentioned her name.

"Where are you from?"
“I’m afraid I haven’t heard of it. My people are rather disconnected from the world.” She said in response. “My people live in a valley high in the spine. A place we call Nebulis, a small city. What are your people like? What’s their culture and religion? I’d like to know as much as possible.”

She was willing to share the same information with him if he asked for it. She walked beside him, basically letting him lead the way since he seemed to know a little bit about the area. She kept looking up into the sky, and using the stars for guidance of some sort.
 

Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

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...A place we call Nebulis, a small city. What are your people like?...

What were his people like?

He wasn't sure he really knew anymore, not after all that had trsnspired - things that had not yet any real closure. He truly was uncertain where he rightfully stood with them now...

But there were, of course, many things he knew to be true.

"We are ourselves rather seperate from others.

We are - most of us - of one accord, bound by a collective link we call the Soul Forge. Through it, we are of one mind, though also many."

It was difficult to fully explain, especially no longer being apart of the mentioned collective.

"We remember the Celestial gods, praise them. We remember Fal'Addareth, where the first elf was made manifest in light. We seek to rid the world of any memory of the Dark Ones, and the evils they instilled in the world."

He cast her a curious look, "what of your people? In truth, I've never seen one such as yourself - and I have traveled the Spine many times and never heard tell of a place called Nebulis."

 
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"We are ourselves rather seperate from others.

We are - most of us - of one accord, bound by a collective link we call the Soul Forge. Through it, we are of one mind, though also many."
A hive mind? One yet several? United but devided? A little difficult to visualize but she could make a little bit of sense of it. Maybe they kept individual thought, but all thoughts were visible to the collective? It was interesting to be sure.

He cast her a curious look, "what of your people? In truth, I've never seen one such as yourself - and I have traveled the Spine many times and never heard tell of a place called Nebulis."
“I’m what my people identify as Noxcealii, in the common language it would translate to ‘People of the Night Sky’, you can see why.” She said with a light chuckle spreading her arms in a self gesture. “Our city is guarded by magic that’s constantly being layered by our most skilled mages, compounding our illusion defenses, making it look like an empty, sheer cliff valley.”

“We are a people very focused on academics. Our biggest buildings are the library, the vniuersitatis or university, and the temple. We worship the universe as a whole, specifically the stars, moons and other cosmic bodies and the life giving owner time that they represent. It is this focus on stellar bodies and a higher wisdom that drives us to learn a small much as possible, and we have long felt that the outside world’s violence and politics would interfere with this mission for complete knowledge and wisdom. So we hid away in a place that is both difficult to reach, difficult to find, and reinforced it with illusions that are constantly being reinforced and improved upon. And due to this belief in perfect knowledge and that the world was made the way it was out of the the Cosmos’s infinite wisdom, we also believe that everything has a purpose and that that purpose must be fulfilled. So we tend to have more children than other elves seem to have because of our acceptance of how nature arranged things. Our culture is a little difficult to explain, if you’re confused I’m sorry, I can try to clarify, but I don’t know if you’ll understand completely.”
 

Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

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“I’m what my people identify as Noxcealii, in the common language it would translate to ‘People of the Night Sky’, you can see why.”

"So not all of your people bear your likeness?"

The more she expounded, the more similarities between their two peoples unfolded. Her kind as a whole reminded him of the Aeraesarian' of the Highborn sphere, often the most researched, knowledgeable and affluent of his kind. And their faith - it fell under a category of benevolence: the celestial bodies were written into Aeraesarian teaching as aspects of the Celestial Pantheon's mark upon the world, reminders and gifts left over following the Exodus.

"We too have an appreciation for the lights of the sky, but we draw our power from within..." he gestured toward his center, "And it has been written that some of our most renowned warriors had even received blessing from the gods... as for purpose..."

Surely that was true, surely there was purpose, meaning, behind everything.

It was a.... comforting thought.

"But...I fail to understand why your people would have expelled you as they have. Do they fear you?"


 
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"So not all of your people bear your likeness?"
“There is a great deal of difference between individuals yes. I myself as you can see, am a little more on the blue spectrum, but some of us are a nebulous red, others are green some white and others black. There is a large range of possibilities.”

The more she expounded, the more similarities between their two peoples unfolded. Her kind as a whole reminded him of the Aeraesarian' of the Highborn sphere, often the most researched, knowledgeable and affluent of his kind. And their faith - it fell under a category of benevolence: the celestial bodies were written into Aeraesarian teaching as aspects of the Celestial Pantheon's mark upon the world, reminders and gifts left over following the Exodus.

"We too have an appreciation for the lights of the sky, but we draw our power from within..." he gestured toward his center, "And it has been written that some of our most renowned warriors had even received blessing from the gods... as for purpose..."

Surely that was true, surely there was purpose, meaning, behind everything.

It was a.... comforting thought.
Similarities there were, noticeable but there were also noticeable differences. For example, her people disposed the idea of a hive mind, always seeking to promote individual will whilst encouraging willingness to be a part of a collective while not being forced into it. But she didn’t frown in him for the disagreement between their cultures, he had protected her twice now,

"But...I fail to understand why your people would have expelled you as they have. Do they fear you?"
“Fear me? That it unlikely, bordering in impossible with the amount of far more experienced, knowledgeable and powerful mages that make me look like an outclassed baby. My exile is penance. I... I was too eager, too rushed to learn more, and I tried a spell. A spell with my twin brother Kiu, and I grossly underestimated its power, and my brother died because of it, as a direct result of my choices. To kill one of your own kind is bad enough, but family, there are few things worse than that. So I was sent out into Penitent Exile for a period of ten decades. It will be a century before I can return home.”
 

Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

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Again, she was steadfast in her claim, that it was only an act of ignorance that had led to her exile. He resigned that he would drop the matter from here out.

"It is... most unfortunate. I am sorry for your loss," he thought the punishment was perhaps a bit harsh, but who was he to judge the wisdom of one culture's own ways.

"When I was yet young, a terrible tragedy took place which set me against my own blood. I was forced to slay them, for the treachery they had commited," he looked away, out into the surround, "far from an act of ignorance. A deliberate and outright betrayal."

He quietly hummed to himself as he shut the memory away once again, "these things stay with you."

 
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"It is... most unfortunate. I am sorry for your loss," he thought the punishment was perhaps a bit harsh, but who was he to judge the wisdom of one culture's own ways.
“I appreciate your sympathy.” She said gratefully. She understood the purpose behind the harshness of the punishment, to ensure that a lesson is learned. And she knew already that a lesson would be learned.

"When I was yet young, a terrible tragedy took place which set me against my own blood. I was forced to slay them, for the treachery they had commited," he looked away, out into the surround, "far from an act of ignorance. A deliberate and outright betrayal."

He quietly hummed to himself as he shut the memory away once again, "these things stay with you."
She stopped walking. And contemplated what this meant. Her killing her brother, though technically murder was not the intended outcome. But he had to do it deliberately, he was forced into a situation where he had to deliberately kill not one but a number of his kin. He was definitely right, that kind of thing stayed with you. She said sorrowfully, “I’m sorry. I had no idea.”
 

Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

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Kinslayer.
It was a mantle he had taken up in an act of righteousness, and years later again in self defense. But no amount of explanation changed the meaning of the word.

Slayer of one's own kin.

She stopped, and he proceeded several more steps before also slowing to a halt.

“I’m sorry. I had no idea.”

He turned and looked at her,"I am honoured, but please... each of us have many burdens to bear. The only thing to do is-"

His head snapped to one side, in synchronicity with a sound in that direction. Surely as sharp as his ears were, her's were of similar acuity.

 
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His head snapped to one side, in synchronicity with a sound in that direction. Surely as sharp as his ears were, her's were of similar acuity.
Oh she heard the sound. What it was she wasn’t sure. She strained her ears, and conjured a comet spike and held it at the ready should the sound prove to come from a hostile source. She looked around, then looked up and her eyes flashed again. After that she turned to face the direction that the sound maker was located, and was ready to react to what she saw coming.
 

Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

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Erën looked into the dark cast by the night, and deepened between the trees. It was difficult to see much through it all, but he could hear that there were at least two distinct sources. His face curled into frustration, imagining that their two previous stalkers had maybe returned to assault them together.

But this proved untrue when an orc warrior took up a charge against them. Behind, another began to approach, this one dressed in the fur of what appeared to have been a bear. Many bones and treasures hung from him, and it was clear he was a shaman of some kind. This was made clear when he began to wave his hands about in archaic ways, likely conjuring some ill-gotten spell of green fire. All the while the warrior charged, and Erën drew his sword ready to defend.

 
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A mage and a warrior. Duels it was to be then. She launched her comet at the shaman, and followed up with a second, before disappearing from sight, only to appear a moment later some ways to the right with a third comet that was soon launched at the shaman. He proved to be resourceful and melted the comets swiftly, leaving them a spear harmless water with his fires. So she decided to put them out, and soon his fires were cooled by air that had gone so cold that it kills to the touch by shock, not electric but the medical state.

The shaman was tough, and she was left breathless by the end of it, but eventually she had left him in her own superheated nebula fire, which was more of a plasma than anything, his flesh and bones disintegrating. She looked for Erën, concerned for his own wellbeing.
 

Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

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He moved forward to meet the oncoming attacker. The orc carried an axe in his right hand, and a buckler on the other. As Erën came near, the orc raised the axe up and swung down at him. Erën stepped to the side, and swung his sword across. The orc managed to block with his shield, and lunge toward the elf in an attempt to push him eith it. Erën was too swift for such tactic, however.

He leapt further around the orc, and as soon as his feet both hit ground again he was off like a shot, bringing his sword back and jabbing it up. The tip of his blade dove in under the orc's jaw and up into his skull. He pulled it free and kicked the orc, who dropped to the ground lifelessly.

His eyes looked to the light of Namidre's magic, finishing off her foe. Then he turned to her and approached, grabbing his cloak and wiping his blade clean with its ends before returning it to it's sheath.

"It seems our fears were warranted," he said, casting a sideways glance to the remains of the mercenaries.

 
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"It seems our fears were warranted," he said, casting a sideways glance to the remains of the mercenaries.
“Indeed they seem to have been, and likely will keep being so. Are you injured Sir?” She asked him. “I can help you if you’re hurt. If not we should probably keep going, the sooner we reach the city the sooner we’re safe.”

She, who didn’t know the way, wouldn’t have to follow his lead. While their first enemy gathered together a unit of the bounty hunters sent their way.
 

Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

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"No, I am fine, thank you. Let us continue," he said.

So, going with what knowledge he had, he started once again in the direction of the portal stone. It would likely be some time yet, but the further along they traveled the more he noticed features that had been mentioned to him. Landmarks, that they were on the right path.

They crested a hill, and down a narrow road he could see the lights of a village near to a river.

They were some ways away from the place they had come from.

He looked at her, "perhaps we could find some shelter here for a time, if you tire from the journey."

 
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perhaps we could find some shelter here for a time, if you tire from the journey."
Tired she was. The walking having taken its toll on her frankly limited stamina. Her legs begged for mercy and shook with effort just to keep her upright. But she wasn’t going to complain, she understood that him being with her put him in more danger, and the longer they were together, the more danger he was putting himself in for her sake. She really wanted to stop, but she also didn’t want him to pay a price for her safety.

“No, we.... I can keep going. We don’t have to stop, not on my account.” She said, not really fooling anyone.
 

Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

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No, she really wasn't fooling anyone at all. A quick survey of her quickly told him that. He thought a moment as he looked down the road, then he undid his hooded cloak and handed it to her.

"Here, though I doubt we'll find trouble, this should help us avoid any. But I think it would be best if we rested."

It was unlikely - to him anyway - that if they were aware of Namidre here that they would be looking for a pair. He also imagined his features differed well enough from hers that it would deter further investigation.

 
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"Here, though I doubt we'll find trouble, this should help us avoid any. But I think it would be best if we rested."
“Alright then.” She said taking the cloak. “But would it not be easier to not hide my identity, but to let it be seen and under the guise of your prisoner? Would that not be easier and dissuade the other hunters we come across?”

She didn’t understand how they worked it seems. She accepted the cloak gratefully and wrapped it around her shoulders. “Thank you though.”
 

Eren'thiel Xyrdithas

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His lips hinted at a smirk, and he shook his head, "I would not demean another elf in such a way. And, I think it best that you could move freely, in case the need arise."

He'd never really been one to take prisoners either.

He nodded as she took the cloak, and he turned back toward the settlement. He had some currency that would be worth a bit to these folk, likely enough to have them quite comfortable for a time... provided they aren't deemed a threat.

He started toward the town, "do you think word may have traveled this far already?"

 
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"I would not demean another elf in such a way. And, I think it best that you could move freely, in case the need arise."
“I appreciate your concern for my pride, and you make a valid point. If the circumstances change, and that I should the best option, then you needn’t worry about demeaning me.” She said, slightly relieved. She had thought that it might convince people not to attack them.

"do you think word may have traveled this far already?"
“Possibly, it’s been a month or two since they first discovered me. But I don’t know.”