Fable - Ask Luuruk-Hur, the Coming of Spring

Um Min-Kyung

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"Small size is often an advantage, you will be harder to see, and will fit into spaces others will not be able to. Don't just not let it stop you, use it." He says to her. "Like right now, use your small size to get close to the herd, then loose an arrow, I will watch, and make sure you aren't trampled, it is your hunt after all."

He wanted to let her have a kill or two after having taken one from her yesterday. That and he wanted to give her a chance to grow.
 
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Zeri Rekani

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It took until after noon of that day.

Um prompted Zeri to take the lead on the hunt. It had caught her by surprise at first, but she came around, and within her an eagerness fostered and grew. Yes, she did want to show off her own skills a little, in a way proving (vicariously, if not directly to her parents) to a befriended stranger that she was capable. More so, she had some proving to do to herself after yesterday's botched shots and the escape of the Zebras. To home she would bring a fine kill. Before she had left she promised her family a Delta Zebra--both Ma and Pa encouraging and supportive, if still a little apprehensive. Yet that was before she had met Um, had seen the power of his bow and the superior technique of his archery. And the Water Buffalo was a powerful beast with a mighty spirit, a more dangerous hunt to be certain. And she didn't want to fail.

There were no immediate tracks or sign where they had landed at the shore, nothing that had disturbed the small rocks or the weeds overhanging the river further down. Zeri reckoned her direction, headed south, for north would eventually spill out into the saltwater sea and that would be no good. And through the lush grasses along the river bank they went, these sentinels of the untamed wilds brushing against their shins and their calves on their passing. The sounds of the running river and the gentle sway of the trees beyond the thin grassy bank kept them company, let their ears hear the song of the Spirits of Water and Air.

The sun above had made some progress in breaking through the calm gray clouds, splotchy bits of blue sky and the occasion burst of raw daylight before again it would be swallowed and the cool shade fell draped over the land once more. And it was during one such episode of brief sunlight that Zeri found some sign: dung. She crouched and looked down at it and didn't have to do much else--she could smell it, see plainly that it was fresh. The animals that had been here sure to be only an hour or two removed. She examined the dirt of this area of the bank between the blades of grass and found more droppings, yes, but also a few valuable hoofprints that gave an indication of the direction the herd had gone.

West. Due west, just about. Through the strip of forest that clung to the periphery of the life-giving river and then when the trees grew sparse and few out into the wide open grassland of the Steppe. Here so close to the river and the sea the grasses were green, but further into the interior of this vast landscape Zeri knew that their color shifted to an amber like her eyes or to a faded yellow like an autumn leaf. Hardy bushes and rolling hills and the occasional rocky outcropping were the only places in which to hide, and otherwise the sight of the Steppe stretched on until the land met the sky at the distant horizon.

And all of these--these bushes and hills and outcroppings--would be needed.

Zeri spotted far in the distance a herd, a flock of birds overheard giving them away before she had even laid eyes upon them. A mixed herd of animals, those selfsame birds and antelope and wild horses and Delta Zebra and water buffalo and even a mother boar with her piglets toward the edge of this gathering minding her own business.

But the spirits of the wind were with them, carrying their scent away from the herd. Zeri moved low and slow, practically crawling across the ground at certain points when they had to cross from one defilade to the next or from one bush to another. And she got as close as she dared, her approach taking nearly as long as the journey to the sighting of the herd itself. Now she was within a hundred meters of the herd, and she had her eyes set on a water buffalo that grazed lazily and stood closest to her, its neck exposed at just the right angle.

Zeri glanced to Um. Nodded. Quietly took an arrow from the quiver attached to her pack and nocked it from behind the cover of a thorny bush. Leaned out to the side and took careful aim. And loosed.

The arrow sunk right into the buffalo's thick neck. It jerked, bellowed, startled some of the animals near it, but did not fall. Zeri nocked another arrow and loosed--by some gracious allowance by the spirits of the wind or blind luck having it land also into the buffalo's neck, drawing more blood than her first.

And the buffalo reckoned where the pain was coming from. Turned toward the bush behind which hid Zeri and Um. And as the mass of the herd began to surge into motion with fright from this buffalo's grunting bellows and stampede away in a growing crescent of panic and the birds among gave flight and fluttered into the air above like a great flapping canopy, the wounded buffalo was the sole animal to charge directly at them.

Zeri made a small, nervous sound, but quickly withdrew another arrow and nocked it and took aim. Said sideways to Um amidst the thunder of a hundred hooves, "I can do this! I can do this."

She loosed another arrow and it sank with startling precision that was all but in stark contrast to her showing yesterday into the left eye of the buffalo. It swung its head about madly and gave out an enraged cry.

And kept charging toward them. Even as it thrashed its head and could not see clearly where it was going.

Um Min-Kyung
 

Um Min-Kyung

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It took until after noon of that day.

Um prompted Zeri to take the lead on the hunt. It had caught her by surprise at first, but she came around, and within her an eagerness fostered and grew. Yes, she did want to show off her own skills a little, in a way proving (vicariously, if not directly to her parents) to a befriended stranger that she was capable. More so, she had some proving to do to herself after yesterday's botched shots and the escape of the Zebras. To home she would bring a fine kill. Before she had left she promised her family a Delta Zebra--both Ma and Pa encouraging and supportive, if still a little apprehensive. Yet that was before she had met Um, had seen the power of his bow and the superior technique of his archery. And the Water Buffalo was a powerful beast with a mighty spirit, a more dangerous hunt to be certain. And she didn't want to fail.

There were no immediate tracks or sign where they had landed at the shore, nothing that had disturbed the small rocks or the weeds overhanging the river further down. Zeri reckoned her direction, headed south, for north would eventually spill out into the saltwater sea and that would be no good. And through the lush grasses along the river bank they went, these sentinels of the untamed wilds brushing against their shins and their calves on their passing. The sounds of the running river and the gentle sway of the trees beyond the thin grassy bank kept them company, let their ears hear the song of the Spirits of Water and Air.

The sun above had made some progress in breaking through the calm gray clouds, splotchy bits of blue sky and the occasion burst of raw daylight before again it would be swallowed and the cool shade fell draped over the land once more. And it was during one such episode of brief sunlight that Zeri found some sign: dung. She crouched and looked down at it and didn't have to do much else--she could smell it, see plainly that it was fresh. The animals that had been here sure to be only an hour or two removed. She examined the dirt of this area of the bank between the blades of grass and found more droppings, yes, but also a few valuable hoofprints that gave an indication of the direction the herd had gone.

West. Due west, just about. Through the strip of forest that clung to the periphery of the life-giving river and then when the trees grew sparse and few out into the wide open grassland of the Steppe. Here so close to the river and the sea the grasses were green, but further into the interior of this vast landscape Zeri knew that their color shifted to an amber like her eyes or to a faded yellow like an autumn leaf. Hardy bushes and rolling hills and the occasional rocky outcropping were the only places in which to hide, and otherwise the sight of the Steppe stretched on until the land met the sky at the distant horizon.

And all of these--these bushes and hills and outcroppings--would be needed.

Zeri spotted far in the distance a herd, a flock of birds overheard giving them away before she had even laid eyes upon them. A mixed herd of animals, those selfsame birds and antelope and wild horses and Delta Zebra and water buffalo and even a mother boar with her piglets toward the edge of this gathering minding her own business.

But the spirits of the wind were with them, carrying their scent away from the herd. Zeri moved low and slow, practically crawling across the ground at certain points when they had to cross from one defilade to the next or from one bush to another. And she got as close as she dared, her approach taking nearly as long as the journey to the sighting of the herd itself. Now she was within a hundred meters of the herd, and she had her eyes set on a water buffalo that grazed lazily and stood closest to her, its neck exposed at just the right angle.

Zeri glanced to Um. Nodded. Quietly took an arrow from the quiver attached to her pack and nocked it from behind the cover of a thorny bush. Leaned out to the side and took careful aim. And loosed.

The arrow sunk right into the buffalo's thick neck. It jerked, bellowed, startled some of the animals near it, but did not fall. Zeri nocked another arrow and loosed--by some gracious allowance by the spirits of the wind or blind luck having it land also into the buffalo's neck, drawing more blood than her first.

And the buffalo reckoned where the pain was coming from. Turned toward the bush behind which hid Zeri and Um. And as the mass of the herd began to surge into motion with fright from this buffalo's grunting bellows and stampede away in a growing crescent of panic and the birds among gave flight and fluttered into the air above like a great flapping canopy, the wounded buffalo was the sole animal to charge directly at them.

Zeri made a small, nervous sound, but quickly withdrew another arrow and nocked it and took aim. Said sideways to Um amidst the thunder of a hundred hooves, "I can do this! I can do this."

She loosed another arrow and it sank with startling precision that was all but in stark contrast to her showing yesterday into the left eye of the buffalo. It swung its head about madly and gave out an enraged cry.

And kept charging toward them. Even as it thrashed its head and could not see clearly where it was going.

Um Min-Kyung
When the arrow sunk into the beasts eye he knew that she had it killed. Though not yet, she seemed to be overeager to kill it, though a swift death was best, one must not hurry, or they are likely to fail. "Patience child, wait. You've already killed it, you simply neet to wait for it to bleed. Once it charges into the brush, follow the blood cautiously and without haste, it will drop eventually, then you finish it cleanly and bring the kill with you. Patience is one of the most important things you can learn as anything, hunter, adventurer, warrior, guard or craftsman, patience is essential to success."

She viewed his form of archery as superior, but it wasn't better or worse, just different. He was watching her own archery to see how it might differ or exceed his own. The drawing technique seemed to be easier to use, as he had previously observed, and require less strength from individual fingers. And her bow seemed interesting to him. He was watching so that he might learn, and so that he might mimic it later.
 
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Um's words were encouraging. Encouraging, but with one small problem.

The wounded water buffalo was still stampeding their way. Bellowing its enraged bull cries and swinging its head about madly and bleeding profusely from the neck and eye and running purely on that selfsame rage and the lightning current of adrenaline coursing through its body.

"It's still coming this way..." she said in a low, nervous voice.

The buffalo stayed on its path, closing the distance to the small bush behind which they hid. The rest of the herd obscured now in the great cloud of dust stirred up by their retreat as they all fled in opposing directions to the lone buffalo.

"It's still coming!"

There was nothing else to do but leap out of the way when the buffalo trampled over the bush and stumbled down into the small depression further behind it. Zeri landed hard and flat on her stomach, but otherwise unscathed; the bull had fallen onto its side and kicked its legs about but did not seem to be able to stand.

She didn't see what happened to Um. She hoped he was okay!

Um Min-Kyung
 

Um Min-Kyung

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Um had simply stepped aside. The bull was raging and running headlong and heedless, so he simply needed to step aside, and let it run past, leaving him unscathed as she. He watched as the buffalo tumbled over as it tried to turn and charge him while running full-speed ahead. It was a fruitless effort made by a weakened beast. It's hour had come, and it had lost too much blood to stand up again. So Um stood, calm and without worry, not two feet from the trampled bush where they had hid not moments before.

"Well placed shots Zeri, now don't let the poor thing suffer. End it, and end it quickly, and cleanly." He says with a smile. He was sure that from there her skill would only grow. And with this skill, she'd be well equipped to handle the challenges and issues that fate sent her way.
 
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Zeri pushed herself up to her hands and knees and gave a wild and worried glance back over her shoulder--

Oh. Oh, Um was alright. It was almost like he had barely moved. And Zeri's cheeks burned red with embarrassment: she probably made a fool of herself, when all she needed to do was...that. She stood up, brushed some dirt from her arms, half-smiled and half-bit her bottom lip, and said, "So I...I, uh...I really thought it was going to...yeah."

She nodded earnestly when Um told her to end the beast's suffering. He was right, she mustn't lose track of what was important here. And so she walked down the small slope into the depression where the water buffalo lay on its side, and the thrashing of its legs had mostly abated save for a defiant kick here and there. She hooked her bow onto her pack and pulled her spear from it. Squatted by its head, where its uninjured eye gazed up at the sky with a wide-eyed anger and dementing pain. She aligned her spear. Waited for its head to still. And thrust the obsidian tip through its eye and through the socket and into the brain beyond.

The buffalo stiffened sharply. Then stilled.

Zeri pulled out her spear and sat down on her heels in the grass and placed her spear on the ground and her hands flat on her lap. She bowed her head and closed her eyes. Spoke quiet words of gratitude, thanking the spirit of the buffalo for the food it would provide to her family and the goods that would be made from its hide and its horns. And she reached out and touched the buffalo's forehead briefly after her words had been spoken. Allowed for a moment of graceful silence as the sound of the herd faded with its evergrowing distance.

Zeri opened her eyes and grabbed her spear and stood and looked to Um. Offered a smile. Said, "Do you think these horns will be good for the bow? They're huge--but that means there's a lot of material to work with. That has to be good, right?"

The buffalo itself was an enormous animal. They might have to quarter it and take what they feasibly carry between the two of them. Maybe that boar would come back with her piglets, or some wolves would come, if indeed they had to leave some--so nothing would go to waste.

Um Min-Kyung
 

Um Min-Kyung

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Oh. Oh, Um was alright. It was almost like he had barely moved. And Zeri's cheeks burned red with embarrassment: she probably made a fool of herself, when all she needed to do was...that. She stood up, brushed some dirt from her arms, half-smiled and half-bit her bottom lip, and said, "So I...I, uh...I really thought it was going to...yeah."
Her embarrassment was a little unnecessary, while what she did was a little more than what was needed to get out of the way, if she wasn't as attuned to how far she can move, how quickly and how far she needs to move, then it was better to be safe than dead. He just smiled at her, "It was going to, and we both did what we needed to to stay alive."

She nodded earnestly when Um told her to end the beast's suffering. He was right, she mustn't lose track of what was important here. And so she walked down the small slope into the depression where the water buffalo lay on its side, and the thrashing of its legs had mostly abated save for a defiant kick here and there. She hooked her bow onto her pack and pulled her spear from it. Squatted by its head, where its uninjured eye gazed up at the sky with a wide-eyed anger and dementing pain. She aligned her spear. Waited for its head to still. And thrust the obsidian tip through its eye and through the socket and into the brain beyond.

The buffalo stiffened sharply. Then stilled.

Zeri pulled out her spear and sat down on her heels in the grass and placed her spear on the ground and her hands flat on her lap. She bowed her head and closed her eyes. Spoke quiet words of gratitude, thanking the spirit of the buffalo for the food it would provide to her family and the goods that would be made from its hide and its horns. And she reached out and touched the buffalo's forehead briefly after her words had been spoken. Allowed for a moment of graceful silence as the sound of the herd faded with its evergrowing distance.
Her way of ending the buffalo was a little different from his. He would have taken his dagger and thrusted it up into the brain at the corner of the jaw, not the eye, but it was still effective. Her almost ritualisting prayer over the dead buffalo was slightly different from what his people did, his people would thank the spirit of the animal by burning it's heart and praying before cooking it's meat and using it's hide and bones.

Zeri opened her eyes and grabbed her spear and stood and looked to Um. Offered a smile. Said, "Do you think these horns will be good for the bow? They're huge--but that means there's a lot of material to work with. That has to be good, right?"
"yes, those horns should be plenty, probably enough for two or three bows, since we only use a smal stick of horn for each arm."

He grabbed a fallen trunk, about as thick as his thigh and slightly taller than he was. He did as he did with the zebra and tied the fetlocks to the trunk and it's forlegs higher up. Then he put the log over his shoulder and began to drag it behind him. It was difficult of course, and he did need her help with it, but they would be able to get it to the river.
 
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Zeri Rekani

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Um was strong. Exceptionally so. More orcish in his strength than human, and therein some level of irony between them. Or perhaps not. It might well be that Zeri simply represented the meeker end of her particular spectrum as a half-orc, while Um represented the pinnacle of his as a human.

It was still rough going, and they'd all the same ground to cover backtracking to the banks of the Bystrza. But they ought to make it by sundown, and Worrzug would be there to pick them up and ferry them back across the waters to the Delta Camp.

And as they left the expansive openness of the Steppe and found the forest along the river's edge, Zeri couldn't contain her excitement. With a burst of glee she said, "I can't wait to show my Pa this kill! Oh, he's going to be so impressed! And so is Ma but Pa more--he's the one that takes me out hunting. This is going to last us for-for, I don't know, a month! Maybe two, if my brother Gurrash doesn't keep having seconds every meal."

She wiped sweat from her brow and continued to help pull and push the massive carcass of the buffalo.

"Two more days, Um," she said. Still giddy. "The day after tomorrow we'll be breaking down the Camp and loading the boat and sailing back to Bhathairk. You're going to love it! I-I keep saying that, I know, but you are, I know you are. We'll be back in time for the Great Feast of Luuruk-Hur and the dances and the games and the vision quests and, oh, it's really a special time, Um."

A grin and she pointed and added, "You're going to see a lot of other people with those leis of spring-blooming flowers too."

Um Min-Kyung
 

Um Min-Kyung

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And as they left the expansive openness of the Steppe and found the forest along the river's edge, Zeri couldn't contain her excitement. With a burst of glee she said, "I can't wait to show my Pa this kill! Oh, he's going to be so impressed! And so is Ma but Pa more--he's the one that takes me out hunting. This is going to last us for-for, I don't know, a month! Maybe two, if my brother Gurrash doesn't keep having seconds every meal."
"I'm glad to see that you have done so well." He says with a grin. "This is indeed a very fine kill. Well done, swiftly done and quickly done. All things that are essential, and all things that you have excelled at today. Well done indeed. If your father weren't impressed, I wouldn't know what to think. I look forward to meeting them, if you'll allow me to of course."

"Two more days, Um," she said. Still giddy. "The day after tomorrow we'll be breaking down the Camp and loading the boat and sailing back to Bhathairk. You're going to love it! I-I keep saying that, I know, but you are, I know you are. We'll be back in time for the Great Feast of Luuruk-Hur and the dances and the games and the vision quests and, oh, it's really a special time, Um."

A grin and she pointed and added, "You're going to see a lot of other people with those leis of spring-blooming flowers too."
"What are these vision quests I wonder." He thinks aloud as he recovers his breath after leaving the carcass on the ground by the riverbank. He was strong but that was nothing short of exhausting. "Oh, and speaking of this lei-thing, I forgot to give you something in return didn't I."

He reached into his shirt and pulled out a simple string necklace, with two claws facing away from each other with a feather in between. "This is something given to all fully trained rangers back in my homecountry, I'd like you to have it." And he placed it over her head.
 
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Oh, and speaking of this lei-thing, I forgot to give you something in return didn't I.

Zeri was catching her own breath when Um said this. She held up her hands in a warding off gesture and grinned guiltily--she didn't want to give him the wrong impression! That he owed her something for her gift given. "No, no, no, Um, y-you don't have to if you don't want to."

But he did. He produced a necklace of his own, adorned with a pair of claws and a feather, and presented it to her, explained its significance, and bestowed it upon her. She looked down with a mounting glee and touched the feather lightly with her fingers.

To Um, she said, "Really? Am I an honorary ranger now?" Then she smiled broadly and said, "I'm just kidding, Um. This is a beautiful gift! Thank you! And of course you can meet my Ma and Pa--I'll show them what you gave me! We'll feast together on the night of Luuruk-Hur. Oohhh, it's going to be great!"

The river ran and across the waters on cue with the setting sun Worrzug and the boat he captained was sailing toward them to pick them up.

Two more days at the Delta Camp. Then all of the orcs would load up their kills from the Great Hunt and together would sail up the river and back to Bhathairk in time for the coming celebrations.

Um Min-Kyung
 

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Um was happy to provide her with such a gift that brought a smile to her face. Over the next two days he and Zeri hunted zebra. He tried to learn how to use archery like she did, and tried to find out how to apply it to his archery to make it better. They bagged three total zebra, plus the two the he had killed the day they met and the buffalo.

When they boarded the boat, he noticed how different it was from the boats of his home. It was interesting though, and he had a good eye for detail, he quickly sketched it and helped bring his kills onboard as well as Zeri’s kills.
 
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Zeri was ecstatic.

Not only was she bringing home the water buffalo, but also three Zebra. Three! She didn't think that they would have the time to find a herd before the Hunt came to a close and the Camp had to be packed up, but they did! Oh, oh, with the water buffalo and its horns secured and one Zebra for her family and maybe an extra, who knew, maybe she would take two to the Bazaar, but even one would be good, yes, even one, imagine, oh, just imagine what she could get with it! Even if those other components of bamboo and mulberry wood were rare, she could barter for them easily with such prized meat and hide! Then she could make a bow just like Um's and the pride of her own crafting hands would cover every inch and curve of it.

The teardown of the Camp lasted from sunrise to the afternoon on the day of departure. Other vessels from far away lands where coming sporadically in from the Ra Gnamh sea and sailing up the river with them and others were going the opposite direction, perhaps having harbored in Bhathairk for a time.

The trip progressed and on the day when the slim dot of Bhathairk first came into sight, Zeri was leaning against the railing of the ship and--somewhat haphazardly--lifting herself up and wiggling her feet just above the surface of the deck and setting herself back down before doing it again. She had her eyes on home and her smile touched her eyes like never before.

To Um, she said, "Are you going to sketch Bhathairk? Where did you learn how to do that? It's like you can take what your eyes can see and put it on the paper. That's incredible! Oh! D-Did you want to sketch me? I wouldn't mind. I think it would be neat. I've seen myself in water and glass but never on paper. It's like a painting. Is it like painting? Have you painted?"

She shifted her eyes, off to one side for a second, seemingly catching herself, yet her smile did not cease. "I'm sorry. I'm talking fast. I do that, you know I do. You know I do that, right? You know I do that. I'm just...excited!"

Um Min-Kyung
 

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To Um, she said, "Are you going to sketch Bhathairk? Where did you learn how to do that? It's like you can take what your eyes can see and put it on the paper. That's incredible! Oh! D-Did you want to sketch me? I wouldn't mind. I think it would be neat. I've seen myself in water and glass but never on paper. It's like a painting. Is it like painting? Have you painted?"

She shifted her eyes, off to one side for a second, seemingly catching herself, yet her smile did not cease. "I'm sorry. I'm talking fast. I do that, you know I do. You know I do that, right? You know I do that. I'm just...excited!"
He chuckled as she began to apologize with her stutter. “No need to apologize my friend. Have I ever painted, well, yes and no. Our writing always involves a paintbrush and black ink, so yes, but it isn’t technically art. As for sketching you, I could if you’d like me to. I learned to do this during my training as a ranger, mapping and art are pretty useful for espionage believe it or not. I was going to sketch, Bhath... Bhather... Whatever that place is called, and let pay people know what it is and what it’s sphere for.
 
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Espionage? What was that? It sounded like a word in Common but Zeri had never heard it before. Wasn't the first time. And that was one of the reasons she talked to as many travelers and foreigners as she could: to learn things she probably never would have otherwise.

Zeri glanced toward the bow of the ship and the waters of the river and the distant sight of Bhathairk beyond. Then she turned around with her back to the railing and her palms upon it. Said to Um, "I'd like you to! Do you think you'll have enough time to sketch me? I think so. I hope so. Even if you don't, you could always finish it later. I'll have to stand really still, won't I? Is my hair okay?"

Despite asking, Zeri fussed with her hair just a touch anyway, her eyes rolled toward the top of her brow as if trying to see the results of the work of her hands. Then she placed on her hands back down on the railing and kept herself steady against it.

"The boat's not rocking too hard, is it? It seems fine. But I don't know. I wouldn't want you to mess up and have to start over! Okay, well, let me smile."

And she did, showing her teeth in a wide smile. Long ears twitching slightly as the breeze shifted and caught them more directly.

Um Min-Kyung
 
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He found himself laughing at her antics. Her fussing was most amusing, and he couldn’t restrain his laughter. “Don’t worry about it, your hair looks fine.” He says through his laughter.

He quickly sketched her, it was a rough sketch to be perfected later, but he was good enough for now. He was happy to do it though, “I’ll fix it up later. You are a most amusing individual my friend.”
 
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Don't worry about it, your hair looks fine.

"Aw, well thank you!" Zeri said. "Ma says I'm very particular about my hair, and that's true! Alright, let me--let me stand still."

And she did. It wasn't as hard as she initially thought, imagining the waves of a stormy sea rocking the deck of the boat and the wind further throwing her from her balance. But it really was no more difficult than standing still on solid ground, such was the calmness of the river on which they sailed.

It didn't take Um long. Zeri's immediate thought was to come around and see, but he mentioned fixing it up later. She figured to wait until he was done: nobody wanted to wear a pair of half-finished moccasins after all!

She giggled at his latter comment and turned and rested her arms back on the railing of the ship. Looked ahead briefly to see the distant Bhathairk becoming every larger as they drew closer.

She glanced over to Um and said, "Can I ask you something, Um? Was it...hard? To leave your home and go adventuring? How did your mother and father feel about it?" Her smile became a touch wistful and she added, "My sister made it look so easy. She's big and strong. Had everything she needed on her back and the last I saw of her she was waving back to us as she walked toward the Gates. And then she was gone from sight and that was that. Hm. I honestly don't know if she cried or not. I did. Parting is sad."

Despite what she was saying, her spirits were hardly diminished. If anything, she seemed resolutely optimistic. "Sooo...was it hard?"

Um Min-Kyung
 

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She glanced over to Um and said, "Can I ask you something, Um? Was it...hard? To leave your home and go adventuring? How did your mother and father feel about it?" Her smile became a touch wistful and she added, "My sister made it look so easy. She's big and strong. Had everything she needed on her back and the last I saw of her she was waving back to us as she walked toward the Gates. And then she was gone from sight and that was that. Hm. I honestly don't know if she cried or not. I did. Parting is sad."

Despite what she was saying, her spirits were hardly diminished. If anything, she seemed resolutely optimistic. "Sooo...was it hard?"
His face darkened, and turned sad for a moment. "It was hard, yes, but not in the way you would think. I'd rather not go into details. I'm sorry to hear that your sister's departure wounded you so deeply, and I wish with utmost sincerity that she has been successful in her endeavors." His face brightened. "You said that you plan on doing the same thing, yes? If so, I would be glad to join you, I need someone who knows this place after all, and I'd be able to lend you my assistance wherever you might need it."

His offer was sincere, and he hoped that she might take it, since he had no idea how this country worked or what lay in store for him. She was a naive but pleasant girl, and most importantly, she was a local, so she was better suited than he to understand local customs. "If you'd have me with you that is."
 
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Zeri Rekani

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Oh. M-Maybe it was rude of her to ask that. Zeri was inescapably curious about why exactly it was hard for him, trying to think of the ways that she wouldn't at first think about, but she'd honor his request and not pry further into it.

Wounded her? No...or did it? She didn't think so. Zeri was happy for her sister, being able to go out on her own and do what she always wanted to do. But she did miss her. She did miss her. Spirits, was she not trying to emulate her? Doing exactly as she had done? And like Um, Zeri wished her sister all the best in her travels. Thought maybe that one day they would cross paths again in some strange land, reconnect after so many years. Share their own tales with one another.

You said that you plan on doing the same thing, yes?

Zeri nodded vigorously.

If so, I would be glad to join you...if you'd have me with you that is.

Again, Um offered to accompany her. And it was like a gentle nudge, a helping hand, an encouraging sentiment. She'd been arriving at this same place for the past year--maybe longer--where she would have enough resolve to almost just take the first step, that same first step that her sister made look so easy. But then she would either lose heart or her Ma and Pa would talk her out of it or there was a festival like Luuruk-Hur coming up or something, always something, that would keep her in Bhathairk.

Zeri placed her elbows on the railing of the ship and her chin in her palms, looking out over the river, and said after a small sigh, "I'd like to have you, Um, I really would, and I'd like to get out onto the open road, gather the courage to leave home like you did and...go. Just go. But..."

She slid her fingers down from her cheeks and her palms fell away from her chin and she crossed her arms on the railing.

"I love my family. I love my Ma and I love my Pa and I love my brothers Rodon and Gurrash. I love my home and my city and my people. It's...like I'm torn. I really want to go on a journey and I really don't want to leave. It's hard. You know it was hard, you don't have to tell me those details. I know it was for you because I feel it too. Maybe not in the exact same way, but...difficult is difficult."

She laughed a little. Raised a hand up to massage her forehead. "That's an astounding insight, I know. Ha, ha. Haaaa..."

She looked at him. "I know what I want to do. But at the same time I don't want to give up what I have."

Ahead, Bhathairk became larger and more distinct as the ship drew closer.

Um Min-Kyung
 

Um Min-Kyung

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"I love my family. I love my Ma and I love my Pa and I love my brothers Rodon and Gurrash. I love my home and my city and my people. It's...like I'm torn. I really want to go on a journey and I really don't want to leave. It's hard. You know it was hard, you don't have to tell me those details. I know it was for you because I feel it too. Maybe not in the exact same way, but...difficult is difficult."

She laughed a little. Raised a hand up to massage her forehead. "That's an astounding insight, I know. Ha, ha. Haaaa..."

She looked at him. "I know what I want to do. But at the same time I don't want to give up what I have."

Ahead, Bhathairk became larger and more distinct as the ship drew closer.
"Understandable. But it's not like it's goodbye and that's it. It could be if you want it to be, but there's nothing stopping you from dropping by to visit them, and nothing stopping your sister from doing the same. It could be that you go on adventures, and come home, after all, a home base is very important to any traveller. And even so, goodbyes are a part of life. I remember my father saying to me, 'the day you were born was the happiest day of my life, but I knew then that there would come a day when I had to say farewell'. It's sad yes, but it is absolutely necessary. But again, that's not to say you will never see them again. And even if you don't make Bhathairk your home base for your adventures, spend a few weeks in a certain place, or always come back to a specific town, and send and recieve letters from there. It's not goodbye forever."

He watched the approaching city, grand, but so very foreign.
 
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Zeri Rekani

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Zeri listened to him.

That was all true. It wasn't like some final farewell and she always could come back. And couriers were amazing--how they could travel so far so fast and with such dedication to their task was incredible. She could at least stay in touch that way, sending back letters and picking up the ones her family sent her from a big city like Um said.

Still, the part that troubled her the most was the time she would never get to spend with her family and in her home. The life of adventure necessarily meant giving up her life in Bhathairk for however long her travels lasted. It was just a stark fact that she could not have both.

But what touched her the most was what Um told her about his own father.

She smiled, a thing of both mild happiness and sorrow. "That was sweet, what your Pa said to you. Bitter, but sweet too."

She rested her cheek in the palm of her left hand and drew little circles on the railing with the index finger of her right. "Maybe your Pa was right. Maybe that's what my sister knew and what I'm still struggling with."

Elsewhere on deck, Worrzug was calling for the sails to be lowered. Orcs went about preparing for the ship to dock at Bhathairk's west harbor. Overhead the call of sea-going birds as a small flock of them flew just above the ship and back the way it had come along the river.

Um Min-Kyung
 

Um Min-Kyung

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She smiled, a thing of both mild happiness and sorrow. "That was sweet, what your Pa said to you. Bitter, but sweet too."

She rested her cheek in the palm of her left hand and drew little circles on the railing with the index finger of her right. "Maybe your Pa was right. Maybe that's what my sister knew and what I'm still struggling with."
"It's natural to struggle, it is meant to teach. Your sister likely struggled with it for a while too, though I'll not make assumptions. You'll find the strength, eventually you will."

Elsewhere on deck, Worrzug was calling for the sails to be lowered. Orcs went about preparing for the ship to dock at Bhathairk's west harbor. Overhead the call of sea-going birds as a small flock of them flew just above the ship and back the way it had come along the river.
Um looked up as they approached the docks, and gazed out at the foreign city, so strangly constructed and so strangely organized, but still very clearly well made. The number of people there and their immense variety, it was so overwhelming for him, he had never seen such a variety of people, there were a few strange peoples from his home like the Nunsalam, the snow people (this is the word for snowman in korean).

The Nunsalam were characterized by their snow-white skin and usually misty grey hair, tall and thin, and very, very fast. They typically wore only some clothing as they were almost naturally resistant to cold, so you'd find their clothing to be pretty identical to that of most other peoples. They were largely carniverous as they usually could only hunt for food. They too were expert archers though typically didn't use horses, and were particularly good with spears made from bones that had been treated and shaped into spears, usually very light and often good for throwing and thrusting. Even their bows and arrows were made of bone, which made for some interesting archery techniques and technics, and no they weren't reinforced with bone they were acutal bone shaped into bows and arrows, the arrows usually fletched with feathers from snowy owls and beullijadeu hokeu, literally snow hawks.

But these people had green, brown, pale, tan and various other skin colors and some even had golden hair, that never happened back in his home. His only word was, "Wow."
 
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