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There are tales of ghouls and the dead rising along the Eastern Allir Reaches. The Templar chapter based of Allria has gone to investigate the matter... and perhaps bring to an end to whoever is at the root of this evil...

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OOC:
A necromancer seems to be ravaging the Eastern Allir Reaches(near the spine). Some of the Templars are trying to stop him/her. Feel free to join in as a survivor, a passerby, maybe the necromancers servant!

Tales Out of Place

Discussion in 'The Chronicles' started by Hath Charosh, Sep 22, 2018.

  1. Hath Charosh

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    The fire crackled and popped. The wind was coming in off the northern seas so Hath placed his palms close to the flames. It was warm during the day and list most orcs he didn't need to keep very covered, but when it was a northern wind the cold crept in quickly at night.

    Scabhair had gone as the sun kissed the horizon. Her bag was still on the ground on the far side of the fire. He was still confused about her last warning not to panic when she returned with her companion. That had seemed an odd thing to say, but Hath was used to keeping his own company and didn't like to ask too many questions.

    The company was guarding a caravan that was a mile or two behind them having just set out slowly that morning. Simple work, a couple of days riding north to guard them on their way to Elbion, then looking after them on their way back to the town. The orcs would keep ahead, finding the easiest path and warning them of anything dangerous.

    Hath was far more concerned about the prospect of waiting in the city than the journey itself.
     
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  2. Scabhair

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    Heralded by a soft whistle, Scabhair stepped into the pool of firelight. Her tribe back home would use the cry of the Baaran kestrel instead, but here in the desert the Yellow-tail teal was more common. Once they got all the way up into the valley of the river she’d have to rely on the caw of the Cairou tern, of course, but that was still a few days’ march away.

    She paused there, seeking out the gaze of the other orc. Her hands came up in a placating gesture. “No sudden movements now, alright?”

    With that she moved closer to the flames, clicking her tongue for the beast on her heels. A great shadow lumbered into the circle, shoulders rising and falling like the waves of a desert ocean. Her golden eyes glinted in the dancing light as she came to a stop beside her companion, whiskers probing the air for his scent.

    “Hath, this is Inodeirr,” Scabhair explained as she placed a palm on the scruff of her neck. “Aiforn has a long tradition of… symbiosis with her kind. Allow her to acclimatise to your presence and she might let you touch her yet. She’s best used to orcs.”
     
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  3. Hath Charosh

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    The sound of the bird call was out of place enough to draw his attention. He hadn't been this far north east before, didn't know the birds. That didn't mean that his attention hadn't been on his surroundings. Sat closer to the fire than he normally would, Hath had slowly attuned himself to sounds around them. There were bats clicking occasionally as they strayed towards the insects that gathered near the fire. A pack of jindyr far enough away to the east that they weren't yet a concern. Didn't know how to make them. Would have to learn.

    He gave a shrug at her request and watched the flames dance. There wasn't much that could... His eyes widened and it was definitely a sudden, if small, movement.

    For some reason it was the size of the front paws coming into the light that really hammered home how large the creature was.

    Hath was silent for a few seconds. He felt no shame in how fast his heart was hammering all of a sudden. He read nothing threatening in the great lions behaviour and he felt his pulse start to drum out a steadier beat.

    "Fascinating," he said. Hath didn't admit that touching Inodeirr wasn't an activity he was particularly keen to get to quickly. "Should have brought that skinny scout," he grunted, peeling his gaze back towards the fire. One of the humans had been volunteered to join them and promptly turned down. Hath had suspected he was a scout due to lacking the size of a warrior more than because he had any particular skill.

    "If Inodeirr got hungry I think I could have outrun him."
     
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  4. Scabhair

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    Even in a seasoned hunter, apprehension was to be expected at the sight of such a beast. Scabhair didn’t hold it against him and instead puttered about the usual fireside activities as Hath adjusted to the massive predator keeping them company.

    The oiled leather of her travel pack came apart as she untied the hemp ropes. For the night she ignored her roll of parchment in favor of the bundled canvas with supplies. She offered a long string of jerky to Hath without undue words, then settled down between fire and Inodeirr. Amol-Kalit could grow treacherously cold at night, but falling asleep next to a sprawling lion helped ward off even the fiercest chill.

    “Where do you think she’s been the past week?” Scabhair asked with a mild smile. She washed down the salt with a swig from her canteen and nestled deeper into the rough fur of her companion.

    “You know what they say about horses and water. Gathamhr… they can take care of themselves.” She chewed the wiry meat for the spell of another log. “Do you ride, Hath?”
     
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  5. Hath Charosh

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    Even though he knew that the big cats could go a long time without food, it still seemed that Inodeirr would need a whole squad of humans to stay fed for a week.

    Orcs also needed a lot of meat. More than humans at least. He took the offered strip with a grateful nod and grunt. He had to hunt frequently on the move. Those damned wiry elves could keep running for days on a crumb of bread it seemed.

    "Yes, but not well," he admitted. He was happy running for hours on end across the open ground. He looked down at his bedroll then over at Scabhair leaning into the lions fur. That looked a warm place to rest. Even when he looked in another direction he couldn't help notice the shape of the predator on his periphery. It was going to take a little while to grow used to this.
     
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  6. Scabhair

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    For a while there was nothing between them but the hiss of cinder and the noises of the night. The insects whirling above the river buzzed around their ears until one of the three beasts swatted them away; the rest was the quiet lap of water and whisper of the reeds.

    Between the lumbering Steelheart infantry and the burdened animals that carried precious cargo for the caravan, the dust roads carved into the floodlands of Baal-Asha were their only option. Even for a lone traveler or a small party of riders, cutting a line straight for Elbion was a dangerous endeavor – knowing the Amol-Kalit well enough to wayfind the rare oases across the ever-shifting erg was a feat all of its own. Then there was the matter of shelter from the scorching sun, the howling sandstorms, and the various brigands that preyed on merchants just like the ones that had hired them.

    It wasn’t called the land of ten-thousand kings for nothing.

    “I must confess I’ve not met many orcs from the savannah,” Scabhair finally spoke again as she reached to extract her ink and codex from her travel pack. “Are you nomads as well?”

    To the best of her knowledge, big strongholds like Bhathairk weren’t very common in the west – or perhaps human scholars simply hadn’t bothered to record them. It wouldn’t be the first time.
     
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  7. Hath Charosh

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    Hath gave a nod and made a positive noise at the back of his throat. For a second that might have seemed like all she was going to be offered.

    "We move in the summer. Follow the herds and go to the water sources. Sometimes you don't have to in the wet season."

    Hath had spent many, many hours with rain pouring off his brow and trudging along with the tribe.

    "In the dry season we head south. Near the woods. Elves piss us off. Humans shout 'stop trampling on our land.'" Hath shrugged as if this was a minor nuisance.

    "A few times we head west. Cross at the narrows or with the Riznak clan at the stones if they bring their shaman. Usually means fighting." He grinned. This didn't seem so much of a minor nuisance as a much as a sport. He'd won his axe the year they'd crossed west and had a falling out with a local tribe.

    Hath hadn't realised what she was doing at first, but in the dancing shadows of the firelight he saw what she was laying out.

    "You write?" he asked sharply.
     
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  8. Scabhair

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    It was her turn to make noises of agreement. In practice it was more a hum than anything else; a sound lost in concentration as she endeavored to keep Hath’s words in her mind while she worked to bring the stubbornly dry dram of ink back to life.

    Once the black liquid clung as it should to the sharp point of her pen, Scabhair scratched quick, sure lines onto the unfurled parchment in her lap. It wasn’t the minuscule she’d been taught in Elbion – that took too long – but rather a shorthand she’d developed during her many travels. Setting the fresh text to dry just in sight of the fire, the half-orc helped herself to another strip of jerky.

    “Yes, I do,” she said on a quiet, gentle voice. Few of her people read; hell, few of any people read. Being the exception was hard, sometimes, but then she’d been long accustomed to the feeling of scorching sideways looks. Another cause for resentment had faded in comparison to the temptation of education.

    Besides, it was easier to take the jaded attitude in stride when you had a headhunting axe and a bristling lion at your side.

    Scabhair allowed a private smile as she continued. “The city where we’re headed – I went to college there. They know... a lot. But it’s empty, sometimes. They don’t understand the land,” she gestured to the wide expanse of sand and stars, “nothing about how it breathes, how it lives, how it dies. They can build a house, but know not how to fell a tree, how to know its timber is any good, how to shape it so they can use it. They can cook the finest feasts on a fire, but know not how to start it, how to keep it burning summer to winter, how to carry it from one camp to the next.”

    The quirk of her mouth turned a little sad as she reached to check on the vellum. “They are children.”
     
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  9. Hath Charosh

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    Hath sat slightly more upright and peered at the parchment. She was scratching away making those tiny little scribbles. There was no point looking any more than that. His understanding of writing went as far as the fact that each little block of squiggles was typically a word. There was orcish writing, but it wasn't the same. A big bold character for each word, usually used to mark territory or for other purposes. There was one for warning. That one he did know. Hed seen it carved into the trees of the Eastern edge of Falwood because of an infestation of giant spiders.

    "So that's human writing," he stated. He had expected it to be elven. She dressed like an orc, had come from a clan who had taught her the right things. But that accent when she spoke common was definitely human. His lips threatened to form a grin around his tusks as he considered her dressed like one of those scholars who scurried around the towns making coin with their paper and ink.

    "Stone, they know how to work stone. But they build a city and then start filling it with too many people. They turn grasslands to desert by putting too many animals to graze."

    He chuckled. A deep throaty sound that filled the air. It abruptly stopped when the big cat turned its eyes towards him.

    "Better to take their herd and have a good feast before they cause more damage." The laugh had clearly been for a find memory.

    "What else do they teach?"
     
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  10. Scabhair

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    #10 Scabhair, Sep 23, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2018
    “It’s my writing. The humans are inefficient. Some of them spend years and years writing just a few pages.” She shook her head as she raised the translucent yellow skin to the light. “All because they want it to look good. It’s silly, and pointless, and I’ve hardly the time or the ink for it out here.”

    She touched a finger lightly to the lines to test that they were indeed dry, then sorted the parchment neatly into the leather-bound codex. “Chiefly they are split into scienza, filosofia, and magia. They say the former is about understanding the world, but…” she shrugged, “I’ve met plenty of those Maesters and they don’t know the first thing about it. Some of them can’t stop going on about how Arethil is supposed to be round. Can you imagine that? Round?”

    The next to emerge from her pack were dried mushrooms. They hardly tasted any better than tree bark, but they could double as tinder when kindling was sparse. She offered a handful to Hath and continued, “After a few months I stopped going to those lessons. I knew the land better than any of them, but well… humans. Most of them think they’ve grabbed god by the balls. This rock has better listening skills than those men. Filosofi, on the other hand…” Scabhair prodded the fire with a fond smile. “They strive to understand life, you know? Why we’re here, where we came from, subjects like that.”

    “I never met anyone before who’d asked those kinds of questions. It was… interesting.”
     
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  11. Hath Charosh

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    "Round?" he asked incredulously. This was, he reflected, the most he had spoken since a tribal celebration a few months ago. "If it was round all the water would fall off," he said with a shake of his head. Hath pictured rain pouting down streams off a hill. If the entire world was round it stood to reason the same thing would happen. The oceans would pour into the lands or off the world entirely. Someone must have taken a ship out to prove that wasn't the case by now. Seemed like the kind of things the humans would do just because they could.

    His brow furrowed at the notion that this filosofia was interesting. He gave her questions a few seconds of consideration.

    "Because we're scouting ahead and that way," he said, pointing towards his homelands south east of where they were. He watched her reaction carefully, assuming he was missing something.
     
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  12. Scabhair

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    Her brows shot up and then she was laughing. It wasn’t malice, but rather heartfelt, genuine amusement that came from the simpler pleasures in life. Certainly the scholars of Elbion were a source of much stimulating debate and food for thought, but their incessant babbling and aloofness could quickly turn into a boulder dragging down the soul.

    With the wide open sky above and the vast, sure ground beneath her feet – only then did Scabhair feel free. Looming walls and cold flagstones were the voluntary prison cell of many a Maester from the college. In a way, she felt sorry for them, for the joy they would never know.

    Then again, they would also never have to deal with the buzzing mosquitoes of the river or the lurking scorpions of the desert.

    “Yes, we are,” she agreed with a wide smile. It didn’t always have to be complicated – a lesson she’d tried and failed to impart to her colleagues at the college. “I’ll take the first watch. Wake you at second firemark?”

    They’d have to set out before the dawn to make the best of the cool hours. It was the only time where the shimmering lights of Amol-Kalit couldn’t deceive the eyes of a scout, practiced or not. As many men had died of thirst on these sands as there fell in the civil wars of their kings.
     
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  13. Hath Charosh

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    "Morning," Hath grunted. When she started the stir he turned to kick earth over the dying embers of the fire. The sun was still well below the horizon but a dusky pink warmth was spreading across the sky and chasing away the stars.

    It took a fraction of.a second to realise that the deep rumble that shook his bones was Inodeirr yawning. He was afforded a full view of its array of teeth. Fearsome. He'd watched the big cat sleeping for a while. The sheer volume of muscle that shifted beneath its hide when it flexed was remarkable. He'd watched Scabhair too. Elves were odd looking creatures. They had eyes which always looked sad. Or angry. Orcish blood seemed to have won out when she was made, which was of little surprise. After a time he'd decided the elvish didn't detract from her appearance a great deal.

    Hath looked to the east. No birds in the sky yet. When the sun was on the ground there would be. The largest would ride thermals, scanning the open ground for prey. The vultures always did a good job of showing where the predators were.
     
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  14. Scabhair

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    Even if there were any birds chirping away at the impending sunrise, her popping joints would’ve drowned the last of their twitter. Scabhair curled up from her bedroll, spine creaking like poorly oiled joints as she twisted this way and that.

    Behind her, muscle and sinew shifted to tickle at her lower back. She pried one eye open to meet the golden gaze of Inodeirr. Scratching the great cat behind the ears earned her a sloppy lick for the trouble.

    “Gods, you smell.” She raised her arm and grimaced. “We both do.”

    The pleasures of the open road, indeed.

    “Breakfast?” she asked, nodding towards the river. Between two bows and a lance they would be feasting on fish in no time.
     
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  15. Hath Charosh

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    Hath chuckled as he rolled up his bag. "Well, if you didn't before, you do of lion now. And yes, breakfast."

    It was said with some enthusiasm. There were plenty of mushrooms that were edible on Arethil. They could be made into soups and kibbles and recipes varied across the land. But nothing beat meat. An orc needed to consume a lot to keep it's mass of muscle through long days of travel.

    The lion could probably have a wash in the river too, he thought to himself.

    "Can a big cat fish?" he wondered out loud. He had seen plenty of animals with claws do so. Hath unfastened his jerkin and dropped it on top of his bedroll. There was another popping sound as he classed his hands behind his back and stretched his broad shoulders.

    He abandoned his boots too. Preferring not to waste arrows he took up his short spear and fastened a spare knife to his belt. He tended to carry quite a few knives for various purposes. For a flat blade for peeling bark, to a stiletto for poking eyes behind visors.
     
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  16. Scabhair

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    In a similar state of undress, Scabhair mirrored Hath’s stalking gait as they advanced across the flooding plains. The ground remained fairly solid under their clawed feet thanks to the sand, and she was quietly thankful for it. Trudging through the knee-high mud of the Iuk-’u was an experience she wasn’t in any hurry to replicate. No wonder most animals there moved through trees.

    Since fish couldn’t very well run away, the half-orc merrily picked up their conversation from the camp. “They do, sometimes. There are a few massive species of fish in the Baaran lakes. But antelopes, zobr, that’s more to her tastes, isn’t it?” Inodeirr’s long tail swished at the back of her legs in reply, and Scabhair chuckled. “We’re agreed on that one.”

    It was one of the reasons why the Aiforn and the gathamhr could hunt together as they did. Tracking and tackling prey was the chief bonding ritual between orc and cub, undertaken from when they were both cubs until one of them died.

    Soon enough the wet soil gave way to shallows, and Scabhair raised her spear in preparation. One of the more anal scholars at the college had argued it was a lance, seeing as she used it from a mounted position on the back of a charging animal. The orc maintained it was a spear. The human insisted that in order for a polearm to be called a spear, it had to be used on foot and possess a particular type of point. She challenged him to a practical assessment in the college courtyard.

    There were no more debates after that.

    Grinning at the fond memory, Scabhair brought her classification-defying weapon to bear on the nearest sparkle of a silver tail.

    To no-one’s surprise but perhaps that of a reclusive academic, the tapered bit of pointy steel worked just fine for impaling fish.
     
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  17. Hath Charosh

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    Even though Scabhair went to the task almost immediately Hath was still more cautious. He eyed the waters carefully. Not knowing these lands he didn't know what threats might have lurked below and he wasn't one to trust words over what he saw with his own two eyes.

    What he saw was clear waters, fish lazing below the surface and waiting for the heat of the direct sun and the grin on Scabhair's face. He brought his arm up, muscles coiled like springs to snap it down. He missed the first, but soon had several skewered and moved into slightly deeper water.

    What he didn't notice was that Inodeirr was close behind. The lion had gone very still. Very still. The only warning he got was the great cat rearing up out of the water and and then plunging back down. Inodeirr juggled a fish briefly before it escaped her clutches to a growl of frustration.

    Hath looked back at the lion with wide, incredulous eyes. Splashwater dripped from his brow, dripped from everywhere.

    "Fuck-ing. Cold!" he exclaimed.
     
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  18. Scabhair

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    #18 Scabhair, Sep 25, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2018
    The great splash could’ve been anything – most worryingly, it could’ve been one of those long, heavy lizards that oftentimes lurked in the reeds of desert rivers. She’d seen their long jaws snap cattle like twigs before they dragged them to the depths. They were sluggish on the shores, but once underwater...

    All this knowledge lurked in the back of her mind as she twisted around, a whirl of red hair.

    “Wha—” and then she was laughing. Bracing against her thighs, even, at the sight of a grown, muscle-bound orc frozen on the spot with the look of a wet dog. Had the same mix of shock and sadness in his eyes, too – like he couldn’t believe someone would upend a chamber pot on his head right in the middle of the street.

    Inodeirr whipped her tail across the smooth surface of the river. Cool off, Scabhair, said her stroll back to the shore as the half-orc wiped the side of her face.

    “Well,” she started, shaking off the dripping water, “we did need a bath.”

    Of course, they would be right where they’d started by the end of the day; brown from tusk to claw with road dust and wrinkled like old leather. But if nothing else, any would-be pursuers would lose their scent awhile in the lazy stream of the Baal-Asha.

    Scabhair turned an appraising eye to the line of fish on her spear. “I’ll get started on these.” She loved a nice sear if she had time to start a fire, but for now she’d just scale them and let them soak up some flavor from the embers left over from last night.
     
  19. Hath Charosh

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    She had a point. Hath shook his head at the lion, but that was all the admonishment he dared give. By some standards he was a large, powerful creature, but not by Inodeirr's.

    A shiver ran up his spine and he gave Scabhair a bemused look. Hath chuckled and then sat down in the water and leaned his head back into it. He let out a sharp hiss at just how unbearably cold that was. He stood up and shook the water from his hair.

    "Front pocket of my pack is some spice. Good with fish." There was nothing of great value in there and if she took anything he would just kill her. Simple.

    Or so he thought. Andasian spice was one of the most treasured substances being traded around the world. The small bag he had was worth enough to buy a small house and he had been rubbing it into half the meat he ate. A caravan guard had fired an arrow at him a few weeks ago so he had done the decent thing, cut him down and taken what he wanted from their cart.
     
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  20. Scabhair

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    “Spice?” Bemused brows climbed a silver forehead, then tipped into inevitable curiosity. “Where’d you get it? What kind?”

    Her voice grew distant as she disappeared back into their camp – a little clearing of trampled reeds in the spined tall grass that sprouted from the fertile soil of the floodplains. The thicket did much to hide the light of a fire in the night, let them keep warm despite the bite of the desert nights.

    She tenderised the fish against the large stones demarcating their little hearth, scaled and gutted them with fast, sure strokes of a hunting knife. Left to soak in the flavors of charred greasewood, Scabhair finally tugged Hath’s pack closer to rummage for the promised herbs.

    “Well, where is it… ha. Found— …you.” Surprise superseded satisfaction as she finally found the little bag of bluish leaves.

    “Sweet Thuseireadh.” She’d seen it change hands a few times in the markets of Elbion. On the other end of a small package like that was usually a purse leaden with gold. Sometimes a small strongbox. One thing was sure – it wasn’t served with the fish.

    When Hath returned to camp he’d find the food ready and the spice set aside, untouched. “Have you any idea what that is?”
     
  21. Hath Charosh

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    He answered her from the river with a shrug having decided to stay still until the fish returned to warm up his muscles skewering a few more.

    When he returned the sun was beginning to crest over the east. It gave him hope that it would finish drying him off and take away the icy bite of the morning wind. It was nice to have the grime washed out of his skin, but it came at a cost. One thing he had appreciated about the orcish city in the east: the view of the mountains at dawn. He could stand to see those again.

    He pushed his spear into the ground to keep his fish from lying in the mud and went to retrieve a knife suitable for gutting fish and removing eyes.

    "Yeah, it's spice." Although apparently it was now a herb.
     
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  22. Scabhair

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    #22 Scabhair, Sep 27, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2018
    “Yes, but— well, no, technically…” Scabhair stopped and pinched her brow.

    How to explain this to Hath? To anyone who didn’t give a shit about the humans’ trade economy? (Probably rightly so?)

    The level and willingness for understanding between these two entirely disparate strata of society was, essentially, nil. Most scholars thought them savages and brutes. Those that didn’t instead treated them like some fascinating animal in the wild, to be caught and caged and studied. Her people, on the other hand, often dismissed every finding, every bit of knowledge that hadn’t been passed down through the tribe from the time of Uroghosh.

    Stone may stand strong for millennia, but water erodes it all the same.

    She sighed and handed the other orc a charred fish. Didn’t rightly know the species – could be a silverscale, maybe some sort of blueish tilapia. The important part was that it tasted good.

    “That thing is worth as much as a thousand bear skins.” Scabhair chewed, swallowed, and added, “Just because it’s rare.”
     
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  23. Hath Charosh

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    There was a flicker of amusement on his face. At least she had related it to something he might have traded. Hath had told her the story of the trouble with currency. He suspected she had been trying not to outwardly show amusement as he had explained.

    A thousand was a lot. Too much to easily visualise. More of something than he would ever need.

    Hath considered this as he took the offered fish. He peeled back the skin and scooped out an oily mouthful of the meat. As he chewed and considered this news he set his knife to work gutting the fresh fish he had brought back. He took care not to get the acrid guts on the hand he 2qs using to eat.

    "Can smoke these ones," he suggested. Dried fish could last a long time. Wasn't the most pleasant fragrance to carry around but it was a good snack for the road. Took a lot of food to keep an orc his size on the move.

    "Could you trade it at Elbion?" he asked. "You could keep half." Hath had his own form of cunning and he had decided he was quite willing to forgo a cut if it meant avoiding a marketplace and currency. She spoke common well, knew the city and could probably get a better price.

    Besides, he hadn't paid anything for it.
     
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  24. Scabhair

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    Scabhair Bestriding beastrider

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    “Me?”

    It came out a bit muffled between mouthfuls of fish, but their language had grown around speech impediments. Pieces of meat had nothing on long tusks and broken teeth and pierced tongues.

    Scabhair shook her head and took up his suggestion without comment. The gutted fish were skewered on the sharp reeds and hung low over the smouldering coals. It was scarcely work to turn them over every once in a while.

    “It’s your work, Hath. I can trade the arglia for you if you’d like, but the money is yours to keep.”
     
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  25. Hath Charosh

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    "Less than half then," Hath said. He worked quickly with the slender knife to gut and head his fish. The orc's hands were used to the delicate tasks of making and fletching arrows. There were some large flat leaves back closer to the water he had seen. He decided he could use those to wrap the fish. They could last for weeks if well smoked.

    "Something for the trouble. I didn't buy it, wasn't much work either." He chuckled quietly and decided to pick another mouthful of fish. It was warm and oily between his fingers, nearly crumbling on its way to his mouth. "Less than cutting down a tree."

    Cutting down a tree typically took more than one swing of an axe.

    Scabhair
     
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