Private Tales Scorched Earth

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Fife

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Fife understood what she was saying about as well as she understood what Fife had signed. What was Bralanese? What were sultans? Confusion notwithstanding, the librarian shifted forward and reached for the book.

Raigryn was nervous, and so was she. But she hadn't made it this far without a bit of steel in her backbone. Besides, Raigryn had warned her to make a good first impression. She'd outrun orcs and inky demons, had fought bandits and mechanical soldiers, and had killed aberrations and monsters. Raigryn's friend commanded her respect, but Fife wasn't afraid.

Looking from Raigryn to the librarian, she took a step forward and held the book out before her. Her hands passed through the line between light and shadow. Her eyes were fixed and wide, curious.
 
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Raigryn Vayd

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The librarian leaned forward until her face reached the light. Her eyes were inky black ovals the size of Fife's palm. Membranes slid back and forth across them as the librarian squinted in the light.

Her head was as large as an ogre's, her mouth lined with thick, razor sharp teeth for crushing shells.

"Did you want to browse for another book then?" she asked curiously.
 
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Fife

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The Librarian leaned forward and maybe Fife was just a liiittle afraid. Nevertheless, she held fast and met her eyes. It satisfied a curiosity to see her features more clearly. In a way, she became less frightening as the unknown became known.

Still, it took a lot of effort not to look at her mouth as she spoke.

Fife nodded yes, never taking her eyes from the librarian's, and raised a hand to sign. Please. Thank you.
 
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Raigryn Vayd

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"Humph, my eyesight is not what it was and the idemni seem to have bastardised the old Bralanese sorry," the Librarian replied. She turned to Raigryn.

"She said yes please and thank you."

"Well then, let's get out of that horrible sunlight."

The librarian drew herself to her full height and turned around. She moved away at such a consistent pace she seemed to be on wheels. Many flexible limbs moved beneath her cloak to propel herself forwards.

"Shut the door behind you!" she snapped. Raigryn obliged. In a few moments his eyes adjusted to the enormous space beyond and the dull candles that barely lit row up row upon row of books.

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Fife

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Fife took the opportunity to look over the librarian's features when she turned to look at Raigryn for a translation, though kept it brief. She didn't want to gawk, but her curiosity demanded satisfaction. Sure, she was a little frightening. She was also fascinating. Her eyes, her limbs, the way she moved -- it all piqued her interest in her more. It was no wonder Raigryn liked her; he did like mulling on questions he couldn't answer.

They were beckoned in and Fife flashed a grin up at Raigryn as she stepped into the darkness within. He shut the door and it swallowed them up, her eyes adjusting slowly to the soft lights.

It wasn't so different from Belgrath, she thought to herself. The lights very likely were there only to accommodate themselves, as little as it provided them. It was enough for her to see the enormity of it.

Fife couldn't help gasping quietly. There were so many books! For a girl who had never once been in a library, it was impressive and bordering overwhelming. She had been polite about not staring at their host, but her head swiveled as she looked around, slack-jawed in awe at the scope of the hall they stood in.

Looking back at Raigryn, words and signs escaped her. She couldn't have put her wonder in context even if she'd been able to speak. Fife had never seen anything like it. How many were there? How much knowledge was kept in this room alone? It seemed impossible for any one person to be capable of reading them all, and yet she had no doubt the librarian had.
 

Raigryn Vayd

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"Where are you travelling next you old hermit?" the librarian demanded of Raigryn.

"Belgrath I think," he replied, turning his head just far enough to watch Fife as she took in the rows of bookshelves. Perhaps Elbion had a greater collection, but certainly not one that cut as deep into the past of Arethil.

"That far? Well then if you want to take anything away it will have to come from Section C and the children's books!"

"Section C is the fiction section," Raigryn countered.

"Same thing!" the Librarian replied.

He knew that she didn't mean it quite like that. She had waxed lyrical about the value of the art she held here, but she certainly treasured her historical accounts and instructional tomes far more than works of fiction.
 
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Fife

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The pair kept talking and Fife closed her mouth. Still, her eyes continued to travel across the shelves as she trotted after Raigryn to catch up for lost space. Belgrath caught her attention again, and Fife smiled excitedly. She would never admit to the insufferable man himself, but she was excited to see Belduhr.

If the remarks were supposed to upset her, it went far over Fife's head. Raigryn countered something about sections and fiction. She didn't know what fiction meant in regards to books, really. Instead, she was still looking around as she followed, head swiveling like an owl and eyes just as wide.
 
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Raigryn Vayd

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They reached a wide open space. One of the only ones here between shelves. Raigryn knew the place went several levels deeper. Down at the lowest levels were endless, empty shelves.

The librarian had not built this place. Whoever had built it had done so with the intention of filling it with far more books than it held now. Given how long the librarian had been collecting, it was baffling to think of how many books there had once been.

"Sit," instructed the librarian to them both. "Now tell me what kind of books you like. Raigryn you translate."
 
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Fife

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The room opened up and they stopped. Fife finally abandoned her survey and looked from the librarian to Raigryn as she took her seat. No introductions, then. Right to business.

If only she had any idea how to answer that question.

I don't know, she told Raigryn. I like… Fife waved her hand as she tried to think of a way to say it. I liked the story. The people. I like reading about fighting monsters more than me fighting monsters. Fife smirked. A book with a happy ending. Maybe a book with less…

Fife glanced toward the librarian briefly. A touch of color hit her cheeks and she was quick to avert her eyes once more.

You know, she told Raigryn, biting her lip. She hadn't learned the word for it. Less of the surprise in that one. Fife gestured to the book the librarian still held.
 
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Raigryn Vayd

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The librarian looks towards Raigryn impatiently. Raigryn was looking towards the bookshelves, a touch of colour across his cheeks. He had not known that the elven version of the text was quite so colourful and he certainly wouldn't have predicted quite how much it would change their path.

"Have you got any more epic adventures?" he asked. "Heroes and monsters and maybe less romance? With a happy ending?"

"A happy ending?" the Librarian asked Fife directly. "How are you supposed to be appreciate the true lessons the greats are trying to tell if the book has a happy ending? Books are for learning, not feeling good.

"Pah!" she continued, though her demeanour seemed to shift rather quickly. "I suppose I should be grateful for ankther eager soul who I can trust amongst my shelves. Follow me then!"
 
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Fife

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Fortunately, the librarian was a little more oblivious than their other friends. Even Raigryn was a little red, and it made biting back a laugh even harder. Fife smirked up at him as she turned to lead the way and they followed after.

Why so red? she teased. The pot calling the kettle black, since she was just as red. I could read more? Get ideas. She already had ideas. However, she had no intention of following through with her jest. Her eyes glittered with mischief and she glanced ahead to their hostess. While she felt a bit guilty, it wasn't called the Silent Way for nothing. Fife wasn't missing a chance to rib him, even here -- even if she fully expected him to turn it back at her.
 
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Raigryn Vayd

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He was not easily embarrassed. The influence that one chapter had on their lives would probably embaress him for some time yet.

If you want to try new things then you will be sore tomorrow morning, he signed back sharply. No idle threat either.

"Private conversation?" the Librarian asked, twisting her head to look down at Raigryn's hands. "I hope you are not being mean about me."

She smiled. The smile was more unnerving than the leering.

"Down here now," the Librarian said.

They reached a spiral staircase. Finally the depth of the underground chamber was revealed to Fife, the full extent of the library.
 
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Fife

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There it was. Fife was the color of a ripe apple and couldn't fight the huff of laughter that escaped through her nose. Her hand hurried to cover it, and she looked at the librarian rather sheepishly. Tossing him one last glance, she resolved to let her comments lie for another time.

They walked on a little further before arriving at a staircase. She took up the rear and that was probably for the best because they arrived at another hall of books. Her feet stalled on the steps momentarily before the gears in her mind started turning again. Fife hurried to catch up the lost space, but kept glancing up at the rows of books. How many were there??
 
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Raigryn Vayd

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"Now the indexes are in old elvish which..." the Librarian trailed off, looking towards Raigryn.

"I still cannot read well," he admitted. It was very much like a teacher admonishing her student.

"Well sit, sit and I suppose I can spare the time to find some books..."

The Librarian huffed and slithered away, pretending this wasn't one of her favourite things to do. Her kind was almost gone from this world. She had once admitted to Raigryn that she had lost contact with any of her kind that she still knew. For all they knew, she was the last.

"The tragedy of Herasmus the Canny," she called as she returned with three books. "Battle Dune sagas and if you must have a happy ending and no lessons then I suppose The Crystal Tower. It was a play and so does not read very well. I believe its last showing might have been before the very oldest elves left were born."
 
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Fife

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Fife was good at waiting quietly, if not patiently. With something to look at, that was even easier. She had the good sense not to wander too close to the shelves, keeping beside Raigryn. It was too dim to read any of the books from the distance, but she wasn't sure if they'd be in common anyways after the Librarian's remark on indexes.

Her mind was only partly on the books. Meeting his friend only underlined a lot of questions. There were a lot of gaps in his life story that he had yet to fill in for her. And the Librarian herself was such a mysterious character that she had plenty to ask about when they weren't in her company. More questions she hung up for a better time.

It wasn't a long wait. The Librarian returned with three offerings. Fife immediately looked to Raigryn.

Have you read them? A battle saga, a tragedy, and a play. They all sounded interesting -- even if only one had a happy ending as per her request. Which one do you think?
 
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Raigryn Vayd

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"There are many versions of Herasmus and-"

"This is the best one," interrupted the Librarian as she walked away. She was not yet done fetching options for Fife to peruse.

"It is heart breaking at the end, but sometimes you need that in a story. I've not read the other two."

Raigryn picked up a tome with deferential care. The styles of the other two could not have been more different. One was gilded and came with elaborate illustrations on every other page. They did not seem linked to the text.

The other was plain and simple. Written in the form of a play on the page. Lines for the actors and brief descriptions between them in italics.
 
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Fife

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Fife bit back her grin, highly entertained by the Librarian. She was aloof and somewhat condescending, but Fife didn't think she was unkind. She got the impression this was just her nature. Much like her own.

Leaning in to peer over his arm as he opened the other books, she was immediately intimidated by the gilded and illustrated tome. Gods help her if she were to ever have an accident with that one. The other was in a strange format. Fife had climbed fences and homes to catch a peek of a couple of public performances, and it matched that art form.

The Librarian was off looking for more, but Fife picked up the Herasmus story and turned it over. She supposed she didn't know if she liked something until she tried it.
 
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Raigryn Vayd

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The Librarian returned, leaving another neat stack of three books.

"The Treaty of the Boarree Peninsula, The Color of Life and Jurrel's Voyages. Raigryn, you are not to leave books in disarray over my tables and go to sleep again. Last time you were digging into historical references on the nagai you not only left eight books open and bending their spines but you were asleep and drooling on a ninth."

"Wont happen again. Would you mind if I fetched some more candles to light?" he asked. "Once you've done making suggestions of course."

Her species didn't have the greatest eyesight, but they were highly sensitive to the light.
 
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Fife

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Fife took the top book from the new stack and was turning it over as they spoke. But the comments jogged her memory. Naga research? Fife looked between the pair. A story he had told almost a year ago came to mind. At the time she hadn't been sure if the yarn he'd spun was formed out of reality or if it was another tale like many others, told too loudly over drinks in a tavern.

Now, however, she was rethinking it. Raigryn was never so careless with his books. To be so with the Librarian's?

Waiting for the Librarian to return to her pursuit of book recommendations, she touched his arm.

Snake people? she asked. Close enough. Her eyes were watchful and curious, but Fife was treading carefully. Like your story?
 
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Raigryn Vayd

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"Yes, snake people," he admitted. "They were very active around the Reach at the time. Pushing further west. A friend of mine lost a daughter to one of their raids that year and I had to get her back."

Raigryn had, in the moment, entirely forgotten weaving the tale of a great battle mage rescuing the damsel in distress from a nagai camp to Fife and a group of dwarves. He had been a few pints in by that point and had certainly exaggerated his own deeds.

"My story?" He asked, distinctly oblivious. From the shadows was an almost constant stream of muttering from the librarian as she perused the shelves.
 
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Fife

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So he had been telling a story of his own experience. A story he quite clearly did not remember telling. Fife laughed in spite of the siber topic.

You told the story in Belgrath, she explained, spelling out the city's name. She tapped a finger against her temple. Good memory. Fife, for once, didn't take the opportunity to tease him. Her smile was a temporary feature, falling to something softer, more contemplative.

Was she okay? The daughter of your friend? The story hadn't had a happy ending, per se. Part of Fife expected the answer to be negative, but another part of her wanted to be proved wrong -- for the grounded ending to have its fairytale outcome after all.
 
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Raigryn Vayd

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Raigryn slouched over the table a little at the question. It had been a different time when he had told that story, at least between the two of them. He tried to remember how he had told the story, having been a few beers in.

"To my knowledge she is reasonably happy. Several children, a nice estate. I haven't been back. The way she looked at me...I was a kindly old man to her and then she saw me cut down that entire camp without mercy."

Raigryn wasn't sure what to say next. He could have admitted that he had been terrified that she would react in horror to see his violent side. He had held reservations about the idemni too and that damned carving. It had been for her benefit to go.

Instead he was faced with the librarian.

"I suspect something has snuck into the lower levels. Do you have that fluffy thing that eats pests?" she asked, placing more books down neatly.

"Erm, sometimes," Raigryn replied with an embarresed shrug.
 
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Fife

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Fife chewed her lip as she listened. Raigryn clearly had some lingering regrets over the encounter. He definitely wasn't the bookish old man she'd made him out to be. Knowing him as she knew him now, Fife had a much better idea of how he must feel about it -- no Empathy necessary.

Comfort wasn't her strong suit. It wasn't as though she had a lot of experience with it. She didn't know what to say to take that far-off look from his face, didn't have the words or means to turn around the somber mood. She still reached for his sleeve before she had any idea what she would tell him because she didn't want him to linger there too long.

Before she could give it a tug, however, the Librarian had returned. Fife withdrew her hand, letting the moment go. She rearranged her book stack to make room for the new one.

She often forgot about Jocelyn. The lunasloth had had a great deal of freedom in Indretar and had never really listened well to Raigryn in the first place. Fife was seeing a trend in Raigryn's favorite things: quiet and unruly.

Fife whistled her name quietly, a trio of notes she'd strung together in imitation of her spoken name, and leaned in closer to check for the lunasloth's great round eyes in its pouch.
 
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Raigryn Vayd

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Great round eyes peered back at Fife. The soft musk of her fur left the bag. There was no movement. As far as Jocelyn was concerned it was still day time. She let out a soft grumbling noise. A tiny paw reached out, fingers aligned in a star shape and tried to grasp the edge of the bag to close it.

"She'll be in a better mood if there are some vermin to catch later," Raigryn mused. "And if I stop ignoring her."

He offered a soft smile. That she had started to reach for him had not escaped his notice. Neither of them were closed off from one another. There was plenty of time ahead of them, where Fife would come to see more of how vulnerable he could truly be.

"If it chews the books then it will not be leaving this place with its fur attached to its body!" the Librarian said, shaking her head. "Well, I have filing to do. But do come by and let me know your thoughts on the books."

It was so off-hand, that last remark. Raigryn knew it meant a lot more to the librarian than it seemed.
 
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Fife

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Hello, she whistled to the lunasloth with a smile to Jocelyn's displeased grumble. The creature fixed her wide gaze on Fife and slowly pulled the pouch closed again, and Fife obliged her with a breath of laughter. No doubt she would have plenty of time to catch her fill of bugs and things while they looked over their books.

The Librarian departed with instruction to come see her when they were finished, like they might have considered leaving without a word. It made Fife wonder if anyone else came to view her books.

More questions.

Fife looked at the books on the table, far more numerous than she had anticipated. She was bad at choices on a good day. She could make snap decisions when digits, limb, and life were the price of failure, and yet she struggled to make choices that felt like luxuries. Food and books weren't really things she'd had the privilege of having opinions on. She frowned at them, unsure where to begin but feeling overwhelmed.

Have you read any of these? She turned to Raigryn, asking something that might help her figure out where to start this foreign process. She knew he didn't intentionally try to overwhelm her. How could she expect him to know what would and wouldn't? She couldn't. She didn't know until her heart began racing and her mind scattered.
 
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