Open Chronicles an Elder Fires' Night

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A being of cascading sheepskins, crowned by three pairs of livestock horns and made mountainous by concealed stilts, turned in the firelight in an ominous dance. The wooden visage was carved roughly with a chisel and hammer, and resembled neither man or animal but rather a mix of the two. Positively monstrous, and yet thrillingly mysterious as for its silence that concealed all identifiers of whoever hid within.

The guardian, of forest and field both, was not to speak, for no voice or language of mortals befit the part. As it moved around in the darkening eve, sometimes in group with more of its kin, a mere clatter of cowbells announced its presence. The skins were black, grey and brown, lending ease to blending in and out of shadows. It wasn’t meant to be frightening nor villanous, but that didn’t stop some from using it as a device to urge their children from straying to the forest at night. Or keep best behaviour, lest they be taken by a spirit.

A touch transfixed by the folk creature, Oliver took a swig of his drink. He’d come to help tend the myriad of fires that would keep the entire settlement enveloped in a warm glow through the night, not so much for the harvest feast as for pure nostalgia. Or was it some comfort, allowing one reminisce the past and things that no longer were, perhaps let them be replaced by new experience. Something brighter and cheerful, perhaps.

That’d be all well and good in his book, even if the event was as much for celebration as it was for mourning and remembrance. The latter had been for yesterday, wherein tables had been set overnight for the dead and people had left their houses so whom had passed on could dine in peace, alongside the many household guardians. To great contrast, tonight was for laughter and the living, marking the end of a summer’s toil in the fields that’d been generously rewarded by a bountiful yield.

Some of that barley had been distilled into liquor, plenty enough that he imagined the night might well get rowdy. There was not a worry in the world, save that the master of ceremony not get too drunk, as them passing out foretold a bad year ahead. It was ultimately out of his hands, naturally, but it wouldn’t hurt to keep an eye out regardless.

Had he the time alongside his tasks, that was. He’d come with Kaarle, who harboured much the same reasons for joining in as he did, but the man had since disappeared from his company. He didn’t much mind it, as his fellow knight was allowed to go as he pleased, but Oliver wasn’t so far gone he couldn’t appreciate the convenience of magic. He glanced at the bundle of kindling at his feet, lips twisting in thought.

It’d be fine. He’d done it all in his lonesome before.

The liquor burned his throat as he slinged his head back, draining the cup.
 
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Walk across the cookfires, if you dare, but beware the jester who has come here looking to fight.
There was more than one guardian ready and willing to face danger, brave, who would swing fist.
Granted, these guests had come in celebration, wherein mourning and remembrance was distant.
Only yesterday, not forgotten, but tonight was to honor those memories with life in the firelight.

Well, the flames may blaze in hell, yet such evil tendrils had no place within this here settlement.
Still, and just as well, for one soul had decided to spend this festival to the full—if yet in vigilance.
He didn’t look for a fight, was foraging for no fool, but he kept his eyes alive, as bright as the fires.
Garbed in his armor, dwarven steel, iron shield, large warhammer, axe and dagger, pacing the pyres.

“Dance and drink with me, ya hairy beast!” Cried a human lady. A comely thing. No mistaking a face.
“My apologies,” the dwarf smiled. “I must keep my wits. At least for the moment.” The night’s young.
“Save me a dance?” He offered his hand as a certificate to his promise. The lady smiled back. “Okay!
She went on her way. That left the dwarf to walk forward, explore perimeter, watching others play.

“My kinda party.” He’d be silly to dismiss it. Tonight’s for laughter and the living, marking summer’s end.
“Here you go, my friend,” spoke a human man who appeared beside the dwarf. “Can’t beat chicken!”
“Aye.” Torin Gemheart obliged, seizing the offer, sinking his teeth in, and biting into juicy deliciousness.
“Now I just need a horn of mead to wash it down.” Like everyone else; like that orc in the distance.

Oliver
 
“Did someone say mead?”

Ravelyn's voice was accompanied by the clinking of numerous bottles of mead so contained within square based vessels clutched within both hands. These pyramids of liquour were to be handed out liberally, as was Ravelyn's custom as such events. She trusted in people's own ability to discern their limits of things, and besides, it was early and livers were barely strained by the present supply.

She set down the bottles which were quickly grasped as shadows did play across the scene, her own eyes looking from the mask that did parade and prance. Such shows were always refreshing to the imagination, she thought, and worthy of the time of year. After all, what was life without a bit of zest of the stranger things that did parade the mind and field of imagination.

“Here you are my good fellow, enjoy the bottle and have what fuels your good time of things!" She handed the dwarf a bottle entire.

"Used the finer honey in this batch, you know, the bees that do glow as they busy themselves in hives further afield. They had their part to play in this meadful to the needful, can't forget their efforts to make us all drunk as drakes on Ashenwort, they go mad for the stuff like cats on, well, catnip! Awful sting with them if you're not careful, the bees I mean, not the cats. The exotic bee known as The Bastard Firefly, leaves a mark that glows if it's stinger does strike along with many days of pain! But with the proper suit and proper smoke to calm the minions of the Queen, well, it's no bother! That is unless you're afraid of insects of course, but everyone's afraid of something.”

She laughed at her own merriment and punched the dwarf Torin on the shoulder lightly as she sat down beside him.

“Bet not you though! Right?”
 
It was to the proud pound of festival drum and the jaunty song of flute that one god of forest and field did prance and shake. Its long stilted legs jut out, dark curled cloak a shudder and a shift as long landed in step with the music.

A small crowd of lookers-on looked on. Wide smiles painted across their faces. Gasps of delight and laughs that came with claps as the quiet beast shimmered and shook. Ribbons with silver and gold glittered tinsel streamed and drape with the swing and swell of measured movement.

Beneath it all. In a heap of shadow and heat. Roki grinned wide as he peered through the holes in the hide. His arms and legs braced against the stout poles of his performer's stilts.

His bell a-clang-clanged as the fires burned high and the revelers danced spry.

So too did one god of forest and field. Silent, for no voice could fit the part.
 
Sitting on a lonely stump at the edge of the flickering firelight's reach, Mara watched the celebration unfold with a mixture of fascination, anxiety and melancholy. She found that she always preferred to observe people rather than mingle with them, which required a certain amount of presentation... or at least confidence. The latter was a skill she was still developing in her own way - quietly, privately.

She, too, found the dark dancing figures fascinating in their surreal play, even if she knew deep down that it was all make-believe. There was something so tantalizing in seeing them as living stories, like those sometimes told by the knights. Or that elf lady that smelled of weird plants.

The older ones danced and drank, the sobriety of their lives suspended in merriment and myth. Mara considered trying some of that amber drink that freed emotions so handily, but she couldn't bring herself to try it again after that ale that just tasted like bitter hops. Or was it bitter hopes?

But she had contented herself to make off with sweet bread rolls and skewered meat. One of each for herself, and an extra piece of bread for someone that - much to her surprise - she wished to remember.

She flipped slowly through the small brown journal in her lap, fingers tracing the letters and drawings on each page. Some of the words were written in charcoal, others in ink, some in common, others in a strange curving script the lady had called druidcant. Remnants of lessons never finished.

It had been awhile since Mara had bothered to look through the book, and doing so now made her feel angry. Angry and sad. The journal was a gift from the lady who talked to plants and stared, smiling, at trees; the one who'd told stories to a small group of intrigued squires around another autumn's fire. Then, as winter gripped the Vale in its icy embrace, she disappeared without even a farewell.

Mara's eyes locked on the second roll as she bit into the first. She remembered the day they'd met, when she'd come across the elf in a small natural grove just outside of the monastery.

Come, join me, she'd said to the staring squire with a kind smile.

What is your name?

They hadn't spoken much, but the lady sometimes told stories about her homeland, her people, the things she'd seen. Mara loved the stories - mostly the ones about spirits and monsters. The elf had drawn a few of the creatures from her stories in the book for her; although Mara couldn't read the words, she had committed every drawing to heart.

The squire closed the book with a bittersweet smile as the costumed creatures continued their silent performance in the flickering firelight. Maybe she was still out there, somewhere.

In a rare moment of reverence, Mara broke the second piece of bread and let the pieces fall to the ground for the animals.

You will find your path one day, Mara. Trust your feet to find it.
 
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It was definitely one thing to walk around the perimeter of the party on voluntary guard duty. Didn’t matter if it wasn’t necessary. If nobody, including the host, had asked for it, then there it was. The dwarf would not be caught off guard in his nearly ritualistic practice of keeping watch, especially at a party.

Sure, there were some drunkards already, but they were merry. Amid the chicken between his teeth and a need for mead, Torin was more worried about thieves and scuffles and other troubles otherwise natural in occasions such as these.

Cue the arrival of another handout. It wasn’t rude, anyhow. From a woman giving him his hand to dance, to a man bringing him some chicken, well, the bottle of mead may as well be taken at full throttle. Calmly, dwarf.

Another human woman, one not asking the dwarven man to dance. He accepted her gesture with composure. It wasn’t difficult to assume what the dwarf was doing as he roamed around the festivities in his armor, not looking suspicious so much as looking for suspicions.

It made sense, then, that some would give him gifts for some semblance of merriment. Torin was content with it as he accepted the mead with a grin. “Honeyed mead, aye?” He set the chicken thigh aside.

This other gal appeared to be no more sober, but that was no problem. Rather, that was par for the course. Amid madness and catnip, drunken drakes and Ashenwort, well, there’s your bee’s knees and business. Beside The Bastard Firefly strike, the woman had it right. We all have our fears…

He might have revealed his own just then when a fist bumped his steel instead of bone. Torin couldn’t help but grin back. His meal on the table by his side, now a horn of mead, he sat down, his guest on his right.

Amidst fireflies and firelight, the scent of sweet mead and meat ripe off the bone, the sound of laughter and chatter, Torin propped his armored arm on the tabletop and didn’t even sip. He just drummed his fingers in observance.

“Exile.”
The word was served cold as rock in the warm song and dance all the while. The dwarf raised his hand, drinking deep of mead, eyes on the celebration, not the woman. “To be banished from clan and hall…”

He sighed. “My eyes do not perceive this as coming to be, my service on the surface on purpose, but to be driven from my people, well…” He finally smiled at her. “That would be the spell cast by the dark heart of some elf!”

Ravelyn Anne Conleth
 
Ravelyn didn't laugh at the elven comment, but instead drained a good portion of mead from the bottle straight from the neck of it. She became in good spirits once again, as if the mead revitalised her good cheer.

"What a traditional fear you have. A classic! But it's more a dread than anything. A concept, not beastie! What about a pack of hydras, all swarming and gnashing! Or perhaps a bright hearted elf who would braid your hair incorrectly? Which the more terrifying?" Ravelyn jested and gave a low chuckle at her own friendly barbs.
 
Torin had switched from being serious to merry in a moment, which did kind of fit the occasion, from a certain perspective. In a sense, the fire’s night had shifted from yestereve’s mourning and remembrance to this evening’s celebration following the morning.

There was a poem in there, somewhere, but poetry was lost on Torin Gemheart.

Rather, his answer to the woman’s question having been turned against him, in a playful way no less, the dwarf’s grin only broadened. He seized the bottle of mead and took a hearty swig. He breathed, permitting himself a moment before speech, observing his contemporary.

Her cheek was carved with a scar, eyes dark and black, and she had long brown hair that settled well with her eyes. There was some brown to them, in hindsight, as if in definition those oculars were torn between being black and hazel. As if she has seen more than a few drinks, meat and mead, and the likes of me with those eyes…

Torin cleared his throat before he finally answered. “Pack of hydras, huh?” He shrugged, loving the merriment. “I have had scarier packs of hyenas, never mind gnolls.” That was a tale to be told. Elves, though…” He whistled, spotting an elven woman in the distance.

“Well…” He bit into his chicken. “I’d rather be stung by bees in hell for eternity than have an elf braid my hair! HA!” He laughed. “Say, what of you?” It was her turn. “What is your fear? Tell it true.”

Ravelyn Anne Conleth
 
Ravelyn played coy as she looked at the bottle, keeping chipper as she spoke of things she had a healthy respect and aversion towards.

"Ice magic. Takes a lot of energy to overwhelm or out play it. And, well, ice flows." She shuddered at the thought of being trapped under ice but did not mention that particular fate. She resumed talking, enthusiastic despite the memory.

"Oh, and white dragons. You know, the drake that can breathe ice at serious pressure. Damn near killed me when I had to venture against such a thing, but you know, managed to get out of there. I'd be able to handle it now, if flame really came to frost, I've got more range in heat these days and less expulsion of heat about the boots. If it has temperature, I can spot it, I can anticipate it. But things which run cold to the core? Hiding in clouds of snow, cruel cunning in them to hunt. A fire dragon often wants to speak before it breathes from it's igniting maw, but a white dragon? They just want to make everything still before cronching on the popsicle sticks they render. Gotta admire the simplicity of that particular drake. I'll tell you this true, they aren't afraid of making you comfortable on some rendered ice and then shattering the entire thing with a mighty crack of their tail. Almost my end! Better, warmer days now away from that place, but hey, you learn a lot when you push your fears."
 
Ice magic. Torin reflected, nodded, as if in agreement, and he was to a certain extent. Having been raised in great caves, the Halls of Kazarek, a dwarven stronghold if ever one was to be told, well, it itself was in the mountains.

For a moment, memories began to bring the dwarf to winter’s icy breeze, snow-capped peaks, though the stone was not wrought in ice outright.

Of all the spells out there, however, from elves braiding hair to roaring fires, well, ice tended to catch Torin’s eye. As his lady contemporary broke into speech, her companion in this festivity listened intently, despite chewing on his meat, never mind the mead.

Dragons. Aye.” Torin agreed enthusiastically. One had hoarded a hold of gold and more. Vicious sons of whores. “Popsicle sticks,” he giggled. “Yes indeed,” toward her mentioning of pushing through one’s fears.

“Otherwise neither of us would be here, I reckon.” The dwarf was speaking to a warrior as much as a human and a woman. “Giants.” He shifted within the topic. “There was a tribe of them nearby my home in the mountains.” He sucked on a piece of bone.

“The Forest of Everwinter, we named those trees.” Torin remembered. “I was but a wee lad when I got lost exploring them. That’s when I saw him: the Jotunheimr. Big, vicious, and he might have stepped on me like an ant.” Back then, he'd shivered. Here and now, the grown man just listened to the river of music with its drum and string and wind instruments. Winter has passed…

Ravelyn Anne Conleth
 


sungryun-park-2 (3).jpg"Ha! Look at that one there," one young squire said with bright laugh and broad smile.

sungryun-park-2 (5).jpg"Ill advised to laugh at a god, Arietta," another young prospective said through crooked lip.

"Oh, hush, Miguelo ," she shoved the smaller man. "I meant no mockery,"

"No," he said easy, and bowed to her. "Nothing so pointed,"

She huffed. "It's funny is all," she bumped him with a shift of her hip. "Cute,"

"Cute, yes just like-"

"Is that Rabbit?"


Miguelo's head cocked back.
"Rabbit?" His head swiveled, and his eyes looked around. Long shadows flickered and waved along the brightness of the flame, and the twist and skip of dancers as the music swelled to quick jig. "I see no, rabbit,"

Arietta clicked her teeth. "Remind me never to go ranging with youn,"

Miguelo laughed, small and to himself. "I doubt they'd send me very far,"

Arietta rolled her eyes and stepped forward, waving happily to the infamous squire. "Mara!" she called out, and took quick steps toward her. "Come on, let's go say hello,"

"What?" Miguello asked, taken aback. "Why would we-"

Arietta glared, and hurried forward, found Mara again, and called out. "Mara hold on!" she smiled, and followed after the squire.

As the reveler's kicked their feet, and skipped like stones across the river, the bright god of the forest and field changed its pace. Too heavy with skins and bells, too laden with stilts, it jigged at half time to the beat. An easy bounce to its body, and a measured cut to its step.

Roki had heard Mara's name called out, and while he kept his act up, he swung the long stilts about, and scanned through the hole in his skins.

To all around, it looked like the glittering god, with its bell a-ring, swung its large horns round in time with the swells of the pipes, and the pace of the drums.

Mara Tillerman
 
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It was a celebration, a remembrance of those that were no longer here. A burden Margot felt deep in her heart. Memories of those she could not save in the field had begun to haunt her. No longer was she the happy-go-lucky naive girl that had a spark in her eye. No, that Margot was dead.

She of course, still put on a face for those like Sosi. Dear precious Sosi. Right now, a long somber, nearly sour look was upon her face. She had a drink in her hand, but she looked upon it as if she didn't even understand what it was.

So lost was she, the music and act falling on deaf ears and she was in her own world. Internally hurting from wounds that could never heal. She slowly turned her head as excited young ones found each other, the ghost of a smile on her lips. It faded almost instantly. They too would one day feel this pain.
 
Mara was surprised to hear her name drifting though the din of revelry around her. She glanced up to see Arietta and Miguelo heading her way and quickly tucked the journal back in her coat pocket.

"Hey," she greeted them with a small wave as they ran over to her spot. She wasn't altogether sure why they'd come to see her. Had she done something embarrassing again? Likewise she wasn't sure what to say beyond that, so she reached for what she thought might be an agreeable sentiment.

"Erm... boring party, right? Another night for the sworn to get drunk and talk about the 'good ole' days'."

She rolled her eyes with ersatz apathy. She actually did a lot of listening to people, and she enjoyed it. During those times she was apparently sulking in a corner or staring off into space like any bored youth, she was really taking in a world that was happy to ignore her presence. Not that her peers needed to know that.

Even now as she glanced across the festival grounds, she was observing who was here, who wasn't here, and who seemed interested in whom. She chuckled to herself as one of the dancing gods briefly lost their rhythm mid-stride, then glanced back at the other squires curious as to their attitude about the whole thing - fabricated or otherwise.

Roki
 
Miguello laughed. "Too true," he said lazily.

Arietta frowned. "Oh, come now," she said with a friendly shove to Miguello. He laughed some and shrugged.

"What, I didn't"

Arietta's look cut him off. "It's I don't know, rather nice," she said brightly, and looked to Mara, hopeful.

Miguello smirked. "Ari seems enamored with one of the gods,"

Arietta's brow scrunched.
"Enamored?"

"Having a liking, or admiration for,"


Arietta rolled her eyes. "I know-" she huffed. Shook her head and laughed small. Looked back to Mara. "Are the Sworn really just getting drunk?" she said with hush, and wide curious eyes. Glanced to where the proud casks of drink were being tapped and served up to the revelers.

The dancing god seemed to strut and stumble, and the crowd of dancers, seemed to dance about it in glee.

Making it that much harder for Roki to keep his step. A jostle here, a jostle there against his stilts. His clang-a-clang erratic as he tried to keep his footing.

"Looks like the sparkling god's in trouble," Miguello said, more humored than worried.
 
Silver and ebony twined with trees and moonlight. Gold, red, and amber in stark flash of heat, life and merriment. A rogue breeze set the branches shivering, for the figure of the horned god danced perhaps knowingly or unknowingly upon the threshold. It was with symbol, celebration, nay, ritual that the veil became thinnest.

Always.

Between these two places, a shape flickered and wavered, weaving through the trees and stirring the leaves upon the ground into its coils. The faint glimmer of starlight could be seen in its translucent hide, but naught else defined it save for moonlight and shadow.

A patter of footsteps rustling the leaves and twigs deeper in the forest. The quiet giggling of two children snuck away from their mother's skirts.

A ripple of movement undulated along the sinuous shape, and it slowly turned to glide in their direction.

"Come on May! Look- this is the best spot to watch nay? Like I's told you!" The boy tugged his sister along, pointing excitedly at the distant figure of the dancing god. The little girl, however, was wisely nervous in the shadow of the trees, and clung to her brother, eying the dark places that the firelight could not reach. "S-sure, sure. C-can we go back to ma now? Please? It's dark out here."

A half formed shadow crawls up the side of one of the old oaks, limbs and sinuous shape a tangle in the branches. A stray ray of moonlight catches a single glittering eye staring down.

And plummets.

The boy and girl squeal as a sudden breeze kicks up around them, setting leaves and hearts aflutter, and with a scramble of feet and hands they quickly scamper back off toward the gathering. Unknowing of the large figure that had passed through them and into the ground below as if it was water.

Unknowing of the shadowy claw that thrashes out and misses the heel of the boy by inches before it is restrained in a tangle of scales and skin and teeth.

"...as always, I find you pulling pranks, Naga." a soft voice murmurs from nearby, and the ghostly shape of the entity's angular head pokes up out of the ground as if it were liquid. A melodious series of notes rings in the Seer's ears as if laughter, and the pale woman slips out of the shadows, her head shaking to side to side, but a small smile on her lips. She looks toward the retreating figures of the children as they pass by the dwarf and his companions and find their mother, who begins to scold them by the look of her thundercloud of features.

Ah well, a little scare this time of year is a given. The Seer kneeled, and laid a hand on the soil, eying the dark patch that the Naga had coiled itself within and around as tightly as woven steel. The true focus of its hunt.

Not all spirits were after simple mischief. And not all the dead were remembered, or could rest.

"See that this one stays in the Loch for this cycle, Naga. I will cleanse it after the celebrations are over." Seluria murmurs, her words as soft as a leaf falling on still water even as the coils tighten and drag the shadow inexorably down back below the veil. "Thank you for looking out for me. You know better than any of the others how the dark ones hunt."

A silent rustle of silk and starlight, and the Seer rose to her feet again, the ground undisturbed save for the leaves caught by a passing breeze. Taking a small breath, she sighed, and made her way toward the edge of the gathering, her posture a bit more relaxed now.
 
Trading stories was one thing, but just then the music shifted yet again, picking up into a beat that suddenly sent a stirring within Torin Gemheart’s heart. “Excuse me,” he politely offered his contemporary, of whom he had traded stories. “The night is dark and full of terrors.”

The dwarf finished his meat and mead and looked into the distance past his present companion. There that one woman from earlier was, who had called him a hairy beast, and she was a comely thing. No mistaking a face.

“As much as evening is full of bright bursts of laughter!” Had Torin heard those words from somewhere? He honestly didn’t care. He stands. “Time to dance.” At that, the dwarven bodyguard marched into the thick of it amid the thickets.

That woman did so beckon him. “What happened to your wits?” She asked him.
Torin arrived by her side with a sly grin. “Oh, they just needed to be seasoned.”
So the pair of man and woman, dwarf and human, began dancing in the light.
Torches, candles, and the fire of festivities. They were not alone in this night.

The lyre strummed amid drum and stroke of violin and the blow of bagpipe.
Finally, as the man and the woman had danced their fill, she stepped away.
Torin was not fazed. It just meant that he needed a new partner at his side.
He spotted two other human women, and he beckoned, a smile on his face.

Roki Ravelyn Anne Conleth Mara Tillerman Margot Triss
 
“ That squire appears to be losing his feet. Yet again. “

He almost dropped the empty cup as a remark alerted him, much too clearly heard despite its hushed tone. Eyes a little wild, he whipped his stare around to spot the man that might as well have just full on materialized from thin air.

Kaarle. He wouldn’t bother to curse, just drawing in a sharp breath to announce his disapproval. Syr Leinas’ amber stare wouldn’t meet his even then, wholly preoccupied with the commotion that spun to the music. There was a particularly infuriating type of innocent neutrality to it.

As he traced it, he realized the man appeared to be appraising the hulking guardian spirit.

“ We aren’t supposed to know. “ He hummed low, shrugging one shoulder. Syr Leinas mirrored the gesture, huffing with dismissal.

“ Someone will always know. “ A pause, to accommodate a sip of drink. “ They don’t get the outfits on by themselves. “
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“ Look at you, being pleasant and helpful. “ Oliver’s brows climbed with mock surprise, tone teasing. “ Harvest spirit come to possess you? “

“ Maybe. “ It was with a weight that invited one to glance. He did, wherein they lingered for a couple seconds, like two exchanging thoughts without speaking. It was a length of time both generous and vanishingly short, depending who’d describe it.

He gave an amused hum, averting as they brushed knuckles. The drum was beating faster, a different tune urging the bodies to a new spin. As much a part of the composition as separate from it, cowbells kept their erratic clatter.

“ You still don’t dance, do you? “
“ No. “ The half-hearted laugh had an echo as Syr Leinas drained some of his drink.
“ Then guard my cup. I’ve rekindling to do. “

There wasn’t objection. With a couple larger branches strapped to his shoulder and logs underarm, he made to feel his way through the dancing. Upon him was a smile to whomever noticed him, a simple request for safe passage to the bonfire. To admit him, the circle as a collective movement slowed, if just for a fleeting moment. Crossing, he looked up at the false visage of the Guardian, nodding an encouragement.

You’ve a stride to catch.

***​

Left behind, Syr Leinas was making short work of his drink, even enjoying it. That was, until a pair of children ran right past him, all squeals and hastened breaths, nigh tripping. A game of tag or — As he watched the fast transpiring reunion with a supposed parent, he thought no.

post2.png

Instinctively, he glanced to the darkness in their wake. The woodland shivered, trees animate with more than an errant breeze, great trunks and their thick bark shifting with the glow of firelight. From somewhere amidst it all, appeared a figure.

There was no mistaking her.

“ If it isn’t the Seer herself come forth from the shadows. “ Kaarle spoke in his level manner, head keeling a little. “ How doth the woodland treat yourself on this autumn’s night? “


Roki Seluria Estel'Narqua
 
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"It's I don't know, rather nice," she said brightly, and looked to Mara, hopeful.
Mara replied with a helpless shrug.

"The food's better than the usual stuff from the kitchen!" she said in friendly concession. Hopefully Arietta wasn't a big fan of the monastery's kitchen too.

Miguello smirked. "Ari seems enamored with one of the gods,"

"Really? Which one?" she asked in surprise. It was difficult to imagine the stilted figures of sheepskin and grotesque masks as captivating anyone. Unless...

"Do you know who's in the costumes, Ari?" she followed up in a hushed, conspiratorial tone, a smirk creeping across her own face.

Are the Sworn really just getting drunk?"

"I don't know about the Sworn, but that guy might be on his way to the floor tonight." She nodded towards the short man who was happily dancing with a giggling human woman. The dance finished, and judging by the language of his hands, he was looking for another partner or two.

She squinted at him, realizing her mistake. "Oh... I suppose he's a dwarf, isn't he? Maybe a fist-fight then." She might enjoy that. She couldn't remember the last time a brawl broke out at a festival. She was fairly sure there was a dwarf involved that time too. Not that she'd get herself involved, but people dropped funny things on the floor when they were busy throwing chairs at each other.

Miguello's comment turned Mara's attention back to the one dancer that wasn't quite in time with the others. It seemed this one was being slightly mobbed by its crowd of fans. It reminded her of somebody for some reason.

"I guess that's what a god gets when they're more pretty than scary," she replied, sitting back for now to see who would win the battle for position while contemplating how she'd much rather be a scary god, given the choice.

Roki Torin Gemheart
 
Seluria.png

The woman practically materialized out of the moonlit dark, her reflective robes shimmering and shifting in color until they settled upon their natural starlit hue. A smile touched her lips, and she dipped her head in turn to the knight. "Better, now that one stray thread has been tied back in place." she responded cryptically, "Though... it may do us all well to be extra sure everyone makes it home tonight after the festivities." she hums, glancing over her shoulder a moment into the dark again. There was never a shortage of such things, and it never hurt to be too careful...

Ah, but she was dragging down the mood, and that was unlike her. Seluria shook her head to herself and smiled as she looked back to Syr Leinas. "Enjoying the eve yourself, keeping an eye on the younger ones?" she asked, stepping fully into the light beside the horned one and letting her gaze wander to the ring of dancers and the Spirit teetering above them. The dwarf, the squires, and many more besides. There was so much going on it was all but overwhelming to ordinary eyes, let alone one with their gaze transfixed in the possibilities of loch-sight.

Oliver
 
Margot watched the many scenes unfold before her. The staggering dance that garnered much attention from the squires. Their voices filling the air, reminding her of her own youth, though she was still indeed young. She felt she had aged immensely, just from experience alone. She no longer looked to the light, it had betrayed her too many times.

There was a dwarf, boisterous and joyful. She could see it plain on his face. He whirled and twirled with the woman in his arms, and she felt the ghost of a smile. It was good sometimes, to not have a care in the world. Once his dance was completed, he beckoned in her direction, and she waved her hand with dismissal. Not, her melancholy mood was not needed there.

Instead, her eyes wandered to the flickering on the edge of the wood, ghostly and beautiful, the Seer made her appearance. It was there that she sought company, and she left her perch to join her and Syr Oliver. It was with them she felt she belonged tonight.

Oliver Seluria Estel'Narqua
 
So many people in one area, it was enough to nearly make Alaric turn around and go back to his room. He was definitely not a social butterfly, but he knew Saskia would be disappointed if he didn't at least show up.

If it weren't for her, none of the other knights would ever see him unless on a mission with him. He had grown ever more reclusive, withdrawn and emotionally shut down. If it weren't for his best friend, he wouldn't have a life outside of work.

No, she pestered him incessantly. Poking and prodding him to enjoy life more. He thought of her as affectionately annoying, and he could rarely refuse her. Where was she anyways?

Saskia Kerraelas
 
There was only one sure-fire way to ease the nerves and general awkwardness she was feeling on a day like today, making her way through the crowds by weaving around those conversing in high spirits, dancing to merry tunes, or even brooding off to the side like her towering best friend could be seen doing.

"Mead!" Saskia announced, pure glee in her fiendish smile and her amber eyes glistening with anticipation. She had over heard that this batch was particularly well made, and that didn't need to convince the young woman any further.

The largest grin her facade could accommodate made residence there, lifting the tankard she brought for Alaric Wulf high and before his eye level.


"Come on Wulfy, my friend. With that sort of look on your face, you would scare a whole company of demons!" Saskia made a light jest, aiming to ease him up in the company of many others. Because Alaric liked to keep to his comforts, Saskia too kept a more quiet profile despite the constant call for crowds and conversation. She was delighted to see he did not break his promise to meet her here, her punishment for if he failed to hold up his end of the bargain forgotten.
 
Ari's brow scrunched, and she shrunk in to herself. "Oh," she said in small voice. "I mean, yes," she said a little brighter, though it was a colder sound. "Variety can re-liven the pallet,"

Miguello smirked. "One does grow tired of so much wild game," his face scrunched with ick.

Mara's question struck Ariette off guard.
"No, I don't, really, I just... liked the way it danced was all," her cheeks were red with embarrassment. "Reminded me of the old traveling troupes that would come through Granado,"

Miguello chuckled, and nod to Mara, as if in on the same joke.

Ari's frown deepened at the mention of the faux god, her eyes cast away from Miguello and Mara. "Is that what pretty things deserve then?" she asked the shadows beside her.

"Oh, come off it, Ari, it's just a bit of fun,"

A stilt struck through the space betwixt revelers, a few, who laughed and did dance. Worry waned, and quick grin grew across hidden face, as the dancers danced on, without a care for the dark.

The shift in music, had come shift the crowd. And a mustachioed hero, came parting the glee mosh.

A jumble step from the sheepskinned performer, and a jostle to boot. Bells clanged and rang, and the streams of gold ribbon swiveled and shook, as the false god lowed down, with split legs let lean. Up, struck the bright jumble and mess, up tall and sure strided as it turned to find Mara, and Ari, and Miguell stood about.

"Is it... looking at us?" Miguello asked, half nervous, he laughed.

With jaunty waggle step, the strange thing plopped and wiggled its way across the field, fire bright in the streams of gold strings as the music did play.

Mara Tillerman Oliver
 
Stray threads.

Syr Leinas bobbed his head as the Seer spoke, not so much in understanding as it was in acknowledgement. He hadn’t but reverence for her and the things she did, despite his lack of properly knowing either. As such, he questioned not, even as the tone shifted upon a suggestion rather sinister.

“ Last be I who argues against that. “ He responded, tracing as she entered into the light like a specter of old, all poise and nigh blinding iridescence. Her question was a welcome pivot, if a little jarring with how suddenly pleasant and casual it was. In tune with hers, his look averted at the revelry.

“ Perhaps. For despite how this looks — “ Both of the cups he held were lofted for effect, a faint smile upon him. “ Am indeed not drinking with both hands. “ Am just— guarding. At that, like summoned by the remark, a shape weaved back out of the throng.

“ Seluria! “ Oliver called out in a smile, hands tossing with delighted surprise as he approached. “ What a joy it is to have you amongst us — though I must lament we didn’t catch your presence sooner. “ In a sidestep he took a spot at the Seer’s other side, lest he obscure his company’s view of the celebration. He tapped his palms against the woolen hem of his tunic, before reaching to accept his cup back from Kaarle.

“ I hope my old friend here hasn’t depressed you overmuch — “ In a teasing grin, he let his look bounce from the man to the Seer. “ He has a way at that. “ Turning halfly on his heel, he watched the grand shape of a Guardian exit the dance, bells clicking a different tune to its steadier gait. A familiar silhouette caught his attention then and he met eyes with the woman, keeping his smile as he realized her trajectory was towards their little triangle.

“ Margot. “ He greeted with an open arm, shifting to make space that she might comfortably slot herself in their company. Upon her arrival, he wrapped his arm around her shoulders for just a beat, squeezing a gentle welcome upon her frame.

“ How's your eve? “

Seluria Estel'Narqua Margot Triss
 
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A sigh of relief left Alaric's tightened lips, his eyebrow raised as he watched his friend make her way through the crowd. He could already see the look on her face and he internally groaned. She was going to make him do things she knew he wasn't totally comfortable with. It was her nature, and for some reason with her, he allowed such shenanigans.

Saskia held a tankard of mead aloft and he grimaced. He took it from her, smelling the contents distrustfully. Her comment only making him frown deeper. "I'm not making faces." He made a concentrated effort to rearrange his features more pleasantly, failing completely.

"Sassy, you know I don't partake in drink..." He trailed off as he looked into her gleaming amber eyes. He was afraid drinking would make him look a lesser man, putting his father to shame was the last thing he wanted to do.

Saskia Kerraelas