Private Tales Return to the hindlands.

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Sannoru

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Trade routes had once more opned between the once secluded islands.
It was not hard to gain a ride towards the hindlands.



The winter wear still came useful this down south.

Sannoru stepped on hard land in the middle of snowfall. The elf ruffled the cloak upon their being.
It was not the cold that froze to the bone, it was not the embrace of death.
It was comparibly warm to Eretejva, with the snow crunching pleasantly beneath each step.
The sky was coated in silver flecks and tinted a perywinkle blue. The crescents of both moons pleasantly showed their pale sides. It felt almost magical, the land resonating with the body as if the gods still walked the earth.

"This is it, Sigrith." The elf's gaze turned towards the village that surrounded them, composed of huts out of thatch and assembled wood.
 
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Sigrith

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In much the same way that Sannoru had been safer traveling with her under the guise of a wolf, Sigrith found it best to do the same. So, after some months of traveling from Faarin and back down through the mountains of Eretejva to the last place she'd considered home, Sigrith found herself walking into unfamiliar territory.

The black and white-marked direwolf walked alongside the elf and took in the sights of the village and surrounding area. A gaze of blue and violet panned across the many homes and people moving about. Elves. Nordengaard hadn't the best of relationships with them for the longest time and only in the last century had attempts been made at peace. Difficult to say if Borvenir's stint on the throne had burned that tenuous bridge - she'd rather not find out at the point of an arrow, sword, or spear.

The wolf issued a low rumbling reply, calm for as threatened as she felt. A cold, wet nose pressed into Sannoru's side in an unspoken question that asked what was she waiting for?
 
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Sannoru

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Sannoru's eyes shifted down towards her companion. There was a sense of trepidation upon the elf as she gazed upon the tired village. A few elves walked about, they were of blue skin, but looked nothing like the people Sannoru dragged across the narrow channel.

The elf wondered if her homeland was still at war...
The elf greeted scarce passerbys with a few hand sigils as they made their way out towards the scarce birch woods. Their delicate stripes the darkest mark upon the land.
 
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Sigrith

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Though a wolf in attendance to a Nord, in a Norden settlement no less, was enough to turn most heads, it seemed nothing short of natural here. Sigrith thought she remembered Sannoru speaking stories of these lands to her in the dark hours of the night when neither of them could sleep. They never spoke much when on the move, but when still and resting the words came more easily.

Black paws followed quiet footfalls across the earth and through the village. No one seemed to recognize Sannoru or even care that she was here. Had it been so long? Sigrith realized, with a sudden sense of surprise, that she had no idea just how old her elf companion really was.

As they reached the birch woods the wolf gently shook her anxieties free in a flurry of fresh snowfall and black, mottled fur.

"It's warm..." the wolf rumbled, taken to panting. Ever so much warmer than Eretejva.
 
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Sannoru

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"When I first came to these lands, I was just a young girl without a name to myself or much experience on my back. To me... It felt colder than in the dampest of caves."

Imagine the shock when winter befell Eretejva. "Life is easier here... Calmer."
Sannoru herself did not explore the hindlands much, and the people here lived in relative isolation.
 

Sigrith

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There came a rare, rumbling chuckle from the wolf at the mention of it feeling cold here. Yet having helped clothe the elf back in Withereach what felt an age ago, she knew just how thin San's skin really was. No fat on those bones and very little meat to speak of. The elf would not make a good meal, even in a pinch.

It did feel calm, however. Even compared to what would have been calm in Eretejva. Tundra calm was different than the calm of a temperate valley. Tundra calm, as San had learned, often preceded terrible storms and followed in the wake of blizzards when the world was covered in feet of snow and a sheen of ice.

Warmth was different. It clung like snowflakes to her fur but not in the light manner of coldness. She felt the damp moisture weighing on her and found she would much rather prefer to be covered in snow.

Made her wonder how she would handle the summerlands if this was barely even a taste. How had Gemaudelene survived the desert cities she spoke of on their journey from Faarin back to Nordengaard?

"When did you gain your name?"
 
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Sannoru

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Sannoru made their way through the soft sheets of snow. It seemed more like the coating of sugar atop a pastry than thick icy clumps.
Even if it weren't as cold, she kept her furred cloak high above, up to her cheeks. Her cheeks.
Yes this will be some trouble back when they start moving south.

»My name - At birth, it means small sun...« San's voice trailed to silence before raising her head. »You mean... Sannoru of the Thousand Valleys. It was an honorific title awarded to only a few people. Blessed by the milky-eyed prophet. I was on some accounts, as a hero...« Sannoru exhaled deeply, rubbing her face.
»Now I'm just Sannoru the betrayer, the murderer. Perhaps still wanted if they do not deem me dead yet.«

The elf let out a brief chuckle. »There's a holy pilgrimage site not far from here, even visited by humans. The stacks to the stars. I can tell you everything.«
 

Sigrith

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Being what she was, Sigrith would no sooner judge someone such as Sannoru for her proclaimed crimes than she would any of her coven sisters. The elf had killed, had betrayed - without the story and the context this was only heresay. Truth be told, Sigrith had always been a fan of stories that weren't of her own making.

"I would like to hear it," the dire wolf replied.

Holy places of pilgrimage were of great interest to her. Regardless of the culture, those places spoke to her in the language of the ether. Mages only understood specific dialects, but Witches understood the meaning between them all.
 

Sannoru

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The snowy field made way to a path that was the result of many people stomping the snow down to be almost level with the ground.
Thankfully it was not slushy like Withereach in spring.
It rarely was.

Sannoru gave a brief, bittersweet smile.
Oh, where do I begin? Perhaps there when it was tamest.
»I was not close to being twenty. That was... some thirty-five years ago? Thirty-three years ago...« Sannoru finally decided.
»I was a young warrior to my clan, trained in the arts of subterfuge and those of hidden murder. Not remarkable in any way by but my name.«
Sannoru briefly went quiet when a dark elf walked past them. This was no hindlander.
The elf tucked her face under her fur lining and averted her gaze. One hand moved to Sigrith's nape, holding the fur.

Once he was gone out of ear reach the elf still looked back to make sure.
»Others of my age were at the time, smarter, faster, stronger, and more reputable. So when the well-received high priest and prophet Milky-Eyed came to our town, asking for an escort... I had no chance of being picked for the task.«

She smiled, covering her face loosely with her palm.
»When he walked past us...I remember it like it was yesterday. 'Girl, what is your name?' --- 'Sannoru', I replied.«
»Little sun. What a wonderful name you have, I want you to go on my journey... See, us dark elves, even the hindlanders loathe Sannonasu, the sun god; the thirst maker, blinder and the witherer. God who once smote the earth and will consume it one day too. Yet, because of my name, I was met with a windfall. This very path we are taking, I walked that many years ago.«

The stacks to the starts slowly started to appear between the trees, it's end neatly surrounded by stars. They were an unbelievably high stack of rocks of various sizes, some placed in quite illogical ways.
It was a small miracle that they stood there at all.
 
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Sigrith

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The wolf looked contemplative, as they were want to do in their stoic silence, as Sannoru's story began. Curious she should learn now the elf's age, or general frame of which, and her manner in that past-life. It made Sigrith feel no different concerning her relation to San: in the tundra the elf had been her charge and so, here too, she remained. Even if now there was reason to believe the dark-skinned woman could take care of herself, the Witch still felt bound to her as a guardian.

As a companion.

Perhaps she had been spending too much time in this form; the nature bled through after any length. Speaking to the rigid stiffening of the beast at San's side when she fell silent at the approach of a stranger. The rumble that birthed within the wolf's chest was low, held at frequency by the fingers in her mane. It was not just San who looked back as he continued on his path.

They pressed on, the story continued. Sigrith settled back in-stride, her gaze sweeping forward through the trees and to the towers of rocks with curiosity. She could feel the shift of the ether, passing into a new current of unbidden energy. It felt different, as it should, but only in the way a wind felt different coming from the sea as from the tundra. It spoke to her of its origins and all the many things it kept.

Just whispers, nothing more.

"You were chosen for your name ..." a perplexing thought for she who went by many names. Names were powerful tools for a Witch, but names did not make a destiny; destiny made the name.

"How now would that same name be met?"
 
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Sannoru

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The stacks of stones were growing only taller and taller until fully in view. Many of them were coated with powdered snow.
Surprising how long they stayed like this, undisturbed by person nor wind.

»Here...The hindlanders know only of my deeds,« she pointed at the stack of stones. »At home, I am just merely a criminal now. They tattoo the hands of workers in wide bands and dots and the faces of those that don't. This way we are forever marked and marred. There is no such thing as to repent. Elves live a long life, that's more than an eternity for a human to be ostracised«
 

Sigrith

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When they came to a stop the wolf settled her haunches in the snow, ears perked as she took in the sights around them. The area was as unique in the living realm as it was in the ether. Of all the subtle currents of energies and the latent presence of magic she'd discovered and felt across the tundras, this had a wholly different feel.

Even now, her familiarity with Sannoru was changing as more of the elf's history was revealed. The hidden details revealed much, explained more, beget further curiosity. There was deeper kinship to find in another exile, one much like herself. Seemed they were both errant of their people, drifting across the winds of the world to find a place of belonging. Sigrith did not think that was here, but the only way to tell was to seek.

"No greater reason to leave than that," the wolf replied.

"I must rest soon," she added. As Sannoru knew by now, her state as a dire wolf could only be held for so long.
 
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Sannoru

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The elf solemnly nodded, still something lingered in her.
Return.
Return to your roots.
Even if it hurts.

Was she truly the betrayer...
Sannoru sat down before stacking of stones. »There's a temple nearby, we may rest there« she kicked some snow aside.
It was light and fluffy, nothing like the wet mush in Withereach or the thick crusts of the north.

Sannoru glanced at the stacks of rocks one last time before turning to Sigrith, whispering quietly. »Many people live here, humans too. Yet... I almost feel estranged walking among them on two feet...«
Perhaps hinting at how they needn't have t hide, while still feel feeling the motion of feeling estranged in her own body.
She stood up once more and gazed at her closest, it was time to go.
 

Sigrith

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Snow fluttered through the stacks, settling upon black fur. The wolf's breath fogged before her muzzle, surrounding her in a plume before catching in the breeze. It was quiet here, still and tranquil. In another life Sigrith might have liked to stay.

Not this life.

She pressed her snout gently into the elf's hand, following to push back to all fours. Another long look was given the stacks as Sannoru took her leave of the place, colored eyes shifting along the towering stones. Somewhere in the distance wind chimes rang softly, the sound echoing like a ghost through the trees. Sigrith turned and followed, leaving not but paw prints in the snow.

Upon reaching the temple some time later, paws shifted to boots, fingers lacing through the soft layer of snow. A snarl melded into a moan, puffs of breath shifting from her lips. The Witch took a moment, stooped where she was on her hands and feet, to gather her composure. She was tired for many reasons and the dull, throbbing ache of the blood in her veins had yet to subside. Pushing to a stand she shook her thick mane of hair free of snow and stepped in after the elf.

Had to duck, of course, elves weren't know for their exceptionally tall stature. It was warm inside and smelled heavily of incense. It would do for a rest.
 
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Sannoru

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As they neared the temple, funny animal idols became a staple of the little side path, chubby looking crocodiles, foxes, racoon dogs and cats. One might even say they possibly passed the same ones over and over again.
Why else would they be chipped and worn in all the same places, and all the same critters lastly lay arranged by the sides of the little temple?
Nevertheless, Sannoru slid the storm shutters wide open once they arrived at the little temple.
A temple like this was not rare in the hindlands, but this one was rather special.
The flooring was mostly rough tiled stone and at the back lied a raised woodwork altar. On it was an ancient body covered in withered flowers, though some were still fresh. Hauled from the Summerlands and preserved with subtle magics.
»We're all just refugees on this world, the destination? Perhaps. It is the Hindlands, afterlife.« Sannoru approached the body and lingering there for a good while. As far as the custom of the Hindlands, temples were as much the houses of the spirits gods as the houses of the living and dead.
The elf slowly meandered around it before approaching some items that lay within the building. She pulled out a cloth of dark green and pink blossoms.
It lay neatly folded in the corner of the temple. Some disappointment flowed over the elf.

»Wait, I'll help you,« he offered, reaching out to her. »Put them on? Just to get them soaking wet?« Sanno shook.
»No way, besides...« She stood up away from Chiro, fluttering the blossomed patterned sheet. »I'll be 'borrowing' this for the time being.«
»How else will I guarantee you'll come to me next time...«

»It's still here,« Sanno chuckled in bitter delight, unravelling the blossomed sheet and approaching Sigrith with it. »We're not disturbing anything, I left this here.«
 
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Sigrith

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Tired but attentive, Sigrith took only a few steps into the building but made no effort to explore. It was a simple place, one that could be seen from where she stood quite well. Instead her gaze followed the movements of her companion, watching silently as the elf perused the familiar corners and fragments of her memories. The presented cloth was a curiosity, something that clearly held sentimental value to San if the expression on her face was any indication.

Sigrith took the gesture of the elf holding it out towards her as an invitation to touch it, so she did. Worn and caloused fingers reached forward to gently stroke across the fabric, gathering it carefully at the seam to press it between fingerpads. It was smooth and soft in a completely different way that fur or pelts or felted leather was. They had silk in the tundra but it wasn't overly common. If nothing else, the sensation reminded her of her mother's hair.

"Goes with your eyes," the witch remarked, letting the fabric fall free from her grasp, "does it have a story?"
 
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Sannoru

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Sannoru then hoisted the blanket over Sigrith and herself, snuggling in as she sat down right next to her.
The elf let out a quiet chuckle at the remark.
Perhaps she even felt nostalgic.

She nodded.
»Not a long one. I took it ransom as a girl for the promise of a visit, and then it went with me on the journey with Milky-Eyed.« The elf glanced backwards at the wrapped body.
»and...at the end of it... «
Sannoru gazed back at the wrapped corpse. »After burying a friend, I didn't take it back as a woman.«

The sky was growing dark rapidly for the elf's sensitive eyes.

The elf already began to yawn as the hidden sun inched towards the horizon. »Do the Nordenfiir journey too?«
 

Sigrith

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The Witch set herself down with a heavy sigh, relieved for some promised rest. The blanket was unnecessary but welcome, as was the closeness of her companion. The familiar, if minimal, weight of the elf settling at her side provided an ease of mind. Sigrith closed her eyes, leaning back against the wall as she listened to Sannoru speak.

Milky-Eyed ... had San mentioned her before? She couldn't recall but didn't have the desire to ask.

"Yes," a quiet reply, eyes folding open again to watch night descend on the lands beyond the temple, "it is called Taking the Path. All Nordenfiir leave at the end of their childhood to discover their Svalen and return with their new honor. Some die along the way, others never come back."
 
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Sannoru

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Sannoru snuggled close to Sigrith, her hot breath turning to a puff of gentle mist in the air. »What made you...leave?«

The gentle violet of the sky dimmed out to the elf. Her eyes slowly closed and opened. Closed and opened.
The world was slowly going dark.
 

Sigrith

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Sigrith glanced down at the elf, noting the sleep growing in her eyes.

"I did not belong."

Things were far more complicated than that, but the simplest resolution was sometimes the best one. She shifted under the blanket, looping an arm around the slight figure of Sannoru and leaning her head along the top of the elf's. Years ago this conversation would have kept her from sleep. She no longer lost sleep over it anymore.

The Witch closed her eyes and dozed off.
 
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Sannoru

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The gentle snowdrift grew heavier, the sky soon turned entirely black.

One might expect the pitter-patter of various wildlife to be heard roaming the temple at night. Of course, the Hindlands were reputedly full of wildlife. But no such noise came.
Instead, steps as heavy as if they came from a boulder so heavy one would be barely able to lift it.

Tomp tomp. Tomp.
The wood bent underneath Sigrith as something, or some group moved about only to stop by her side.
Her clothes were tugged by the sleeve as if a child trying to wake its mother, while hisses or worrisome scoldings were tossed among the observers.
Their voices sounding rather small for their hefty weight of which each shift was felt upon the aged wood.
 
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Sigrith

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Witches perhaps slept deeper and more soundly than most in the north, if only for their acceptance of whatever fate lay in store for them. Sigrith's exhaustion should have made it much harder to wake her, but with the beating heart of her elf companion snugly tucked within her arms the protective nature of her wolf spirit had taken over. As it was want to do around Sannoru.

Her eyes shot open, turning immediately to look at the sensation of tugging on her sleeve, and produced a dagger in that same hand from somewhere on her person.
 
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They have awoken

Sannoru

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The dagger pointed at a little toothy, stubby snout. It was a little chubby, anthropomorphic crocodile, dressed up in man-like fashion.
»Oi, it's not polite to point daggers,« he stubbornly crossed over his hands. His voice was little and cutesy.
A little fox, equally stubby in nature pointed her nose past the crocodile. It seemed he was the biggest among them. »She was so cute when asleep, why did you wake her up... Um... Hello there, « the little foxlett turned her attention to Sigrith, waving her tiny white hand.
Around the witch slowly gathered a racoon, a cat and a dog. All well dressed, all also posessed a unique chip or nick on their ear or clothes.
They all were as heavy as stones, but didn't look like it.

Unsuprisingly, Sannoru had not woken up from the ruckus.
 

Sigrith

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As Sigrith's senses collected themselves from the slog of an abrupt awakening she came to realize there was a fairly strong likelihood that she was still, in fact, asleep. A crocodile, a fox, a racoon, a cat, and a dog (not all of these names came to mind for the simple fact that she'd never seen some of these creatures before) now encircled her. Tiny, almost as if smushed by something. Odd.

Lips thinned, she might've gone for the obvious echo of the fox, why did you wake me? but a witch was not prone to repeating things.

Instead she opted for the more obvious, "What is it you want." Clearly they wanted something otherwise they wouldn't have awakened her.
 
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Sannoru

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»There's a weird aura bout you missy, « chomped the little alligator (oops). Soon enough it might become clear that these animals were the statues that replicated themselves on the way to the temple.
»We want nothing but help. I see you come with an old visitor too. « The gator gazed at Sannoru, very much tight in sleep.
»N-o, no w-we n-need your h-help, « whispered the cat, her voice soft and stuttery. She had a cute patchy pelt, calico to be precise.
 
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