Private Tales Scorched Earth

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Raigryn Vayd

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"Not properly," Raigryn admitted. "I suppose I should find something to read myself too. She has gone somewhat over the top."

Standing up, he circled the table and the neat piles. There was little to go off to choose. The titles were neatly embossed down the spines of the books, but there were no descriptions.

"Amazing to think how few people read now and how few copies there may be left of some of these. Most are still made by hand."

He slipped two books from a stack and placed them down in front of Fife.

"These I know. Sargassum is a tragic love story. I believe its one of the last stories left from the old Eldashen kingdom. The other is Away from the Heart. Story of a boy who is forced from his home only to find out his family were Kings and Queens from a far away land. Lots of swords and sorcery."
 
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Fife

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Not a lot of guidance to be had, then. Fife glanced over the ones he set down in front of her. She had no idea what the Eldashen kingdom even was, but she wasn't even versed on modern kingdoms. Adventure or tragedy. Something expected or a surprise.

Fife pursed her lips and counted the books. She turned to Raigryn.

You choose a number, she instructed him. A smile was tugging at the corner of her mouth. She didn't know how to begin choosing, and she was bad at making choices anyways, so she would let pure luck choose where she started.
 
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Raigryn Vayd

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Not having known which order she had sorted the books, it was going to be truly random for a pick.

"Number three," he replied.

Raigryn sat back down, watching her carefully as she sorted through the books.

"Would you like to stay here a few days, just relax and do some reading? We can find a wing and add a little more light. My eyes can't read very long in the light the librarian can tolerate."

Raigryn did state, but it was probably obvious, that he would like that very much. Never able to quite let things go, he was going to ask what she might have on ancient dragons. See if he couldn't find something on what had flown overhead.
 
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Fife

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Number three. Fife glanced over the selection, counting them in the same order to three. She withdrew the book from the stack and turned it over to read the spine.

Herasmus.

Fife pursed her lips. How had Raigryn put it? A heartbreaking end? If this was to be it, then this was to be it.

She had thought to ask for a happy story because so much of her life had felt like it was culminating toward a bad end. Perhaps she may enjoy a sad story now that things weren't looking so terrible in her own life. She was loved and wanted -- however frightening and dubious that felt. She didn't have a purpose but she was doing more than simply scraping by. They didn't have a direction, and they didn't need one. For now, she was happy.

While she knew he couldn't read her thoughts, his suggestion to stay for a few days seemed awfully close to ehat was on her mind. Her smile came easy as she nodded.

I would like that. She didn't stop smiling as she looked down once again to begin stacking the books neatly aside, cheeks flashing with a tint of pink that had nothing to do with his query.
 
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Raigryn Vayd

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"Well you have some fairly heavy reading there," he said. "Just ask on any words, it probably has a lot we have never used in conversation, let alone looked at the spelling. If you stay here I'll go and fetch a couple of lamps."

Raigryn rearranged some of the books nearly and took a few steps away from the table.

" Where are you going!?"

Raigryn stopped and looked up. In the shadows he could just see the librarian looking down on them from the upper level.

"Sixth sense for when I move around," he muttered.

"And very good hearing!"

"Going to get some more of the storm lanterns," he called up.

"Fine but don't you go exploring without me. And cover them up when I'm around!"

"I know the drill!"
 
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Fife

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Nodding, she remained seated. She had her book and there was a meager offering of light. Fife would be fine entertaining herself with her book while he was gone. Unable to hide her amusement, she waved to Raigryn.

If the idea of being left alone here bothered her, she didn't show it with any of her usual tells. The Librarian was strange and intimidating, but she had learned a long time ago that appearances were not what they seemed. There was a small assurance in someone looking the part; it took out the guesswork.

Besides -- anyone who tolerated Raigryn enough to invite him back with any frequency required to gain the familiarity of her domain surely wouldn't mind her quietly and politely lingering.

Do not get lost, she told him. I will be right here. Fife would be true to her word. She had moved the books into stacks to be put back, then opened Herasmus to the first page.

And made it two before her eyes started to get heavy in the lingering dark. Her head bobbed and her vision swam. When active, Fife could outpace Raigryn ten to one. However, she was often tired and could sleep anywhere the moment she became at rest. She propped her head in her hand and tried valiantly to fight a catnap. "Tried" being the key word. At least it wasn't on the book.
 
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Raigryn Vayd

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To use the brighter lamps, he had to find the brighter lamps. His night vision was not what it once was. Whilst the librarian was infinitely fussy in the placement of her books, the store cupboards were a chaotic mess. He eventually found two working lamps, the second was actually out together from one with a broken handle and another with broken glass.

Fortunately there was no way to get lost. With almost no natural light filtering down he could see the librarian several floors above and Fife at the table.

When he found her quietly sleeping, he peered down at the book. Only two pages in. Reading in the dark could made him tired. He looked around briefly. It was another chunk of his past he had brought her to. That couldn't carry on indefinitely, he thought to himself. Through her he felt great joy as each retrodden step but either he would run out of places he was welcome or she would need to forge some paths of her own. One of those had to win.

Placing the brighter lamps on the table he leaned down to gently prise Fife from the table. He whispered soothing words and tried to scoop her up from her chair.

"To the guest quarters," he said softly.
 
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Fife

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There was probably something to be said about the fact that she felt comfortable enough to sleep here, but that wasn't on her mind as she nodded off. Her brief nap was uninterrupted by the nightmares that plagued her -- a common trend these days.

Raigryn's voice began to wake her, deep and soft. Still, it was the feeling of her body shifting that startled her fully awake. Drawing a sharp breath, she didn't flail or grab him. Fife only started and looked up at Raigryn with eyes wide in a brief state of confusion. Fear still colored her mind, however, which might have been worse.

Thankfully, it was brighter and she saw Raigryn clearly. She tried to laugh it off even though her cheeks were tinted red with embarrassment.

Bad dream. A small lie. One not told maliciously, but not also for the sake of her own pride. Fife didn't want Raigryn to ever misconstrue her dreams for mistrust in him. This, like so many other parts of her life, was also changing for the better. It just required more time and patience than a lot of others.

We are going? she asked. The question attempted to move on like it hadn't happened. It also gave away that she hadn't retained a lick of what he'd said.
 
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Raigryn Vayd

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At least, he thought to himself, he hadn't left her with a knife on the table. He saw through the lie for what it was. There was no need to acknowledge that. Even with unlimited time, a wound left a scar. There was no way to tell how much the wounds of the past would fade into Fife psyche.

"No, I was just taking you to the guest rooms," he said softly.

He walked through a long corridor with shelves entirely devoid of books. There were countless areas like this. When he asked the Librarian how long she had been here, she would only ever reply 'too long'.

There had been a ledger, but left open. Most of the pages had decayed and the only scraps the librarian could piece together were written in a shorthand none of them could recognise.

What she had once shown him was a room full of rusted armor and weapons. It had been strewn around the library when she had found it. Whoever had once owned this place, its last inhabitants had died fighting over it.

There was natural light in the room at the end. It filtered through one window and a fireplace. It still wasn't particularly bright, but at least there was a made bed.

"Do you actually still want to rest?" he asked.
 
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Fife

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Not leaving. Only changing location. She nodded and rubbed her eyes, then picked up her book. Fife only gave the other books a moment of hesitation before turning to follow.

Though her head swiveled as she took in their surroundings as they walked, she drew her mind closed. Like curtains, they kept her feelings quiet while the barrier prevented her from seeing the weather changing. It was a blatant admission of things she didn't want him picking up on. Still, Fife wanted to feel guilty in her own head. Raigryn wasn't going to fault her for things she couldn help, but that didn't mean she wasn't frustrated by it.

And she was very frustrated when she saw where he'd been taking her. It was easy to imagine Raigryn carrying her here to sleep off days of travel. It was a simple gesture, but one that carried a greater meaning to her. She wanted that. Everything about it made her want to go back and try again. Being fully awake and realizing what she'd ruined made her heart constrict. She was generally thankful her mind was already muted from him.

Fife stood in the doorway to survey it all. Like she usually did in mew places. Like someone who still preparing to bolt. She used the moment to contemplate her answer to his question.

I will read, she finally decided. Coming in, Fife took a seat. Her hand traveled over the blanket, following the furrows of quilting with her fingertips. Beds and blankets. Two things she was not yet accustomed to and that she greatly appreciated. Especially after they had been travelling.

Did you get a book? she asked. It dawned on Fife that she had no clue how long she'd napped.
 
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Raigryn Vayd

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Raigryn was as patient as ever. Not quite ever. When it had come to the decision over training fro Maellarn they had clashed. The end result had been rather intense.

"No haven't got a book yet," Raigryn replied. "I think I might go and bother the librarian to help me find something. I think I will do a mix of light and heavy reading whist we are here."

Raigryn have no context on what exactly that comment meant.

"I might be a little while, so if you want to finish that nap you go ahead and I'll be quiet coming back in. Probably should have let you sleep on the table, but it didn't look that comfortable."
 
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Fife

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Perhaps she had not slept long, then. Fife nodded like she knew what he meant, even when she really didn't. She also wasn't going to ask for clarification. Fife was already frustrated with herself; she wasn't in the mood to also feel stupid.

He seemed fixed on her taking a nap again, and her eyes finally rose to meet his. For the span of a few seconds she wondered if he understood -- if he was frustrated, too. Empathy couldn't tell her everything, however, and she still wasn't very good at understanding how the very limited palette translated to the almost limitless spectrum of emotions.

Fife smiled, a small breath of laughter making an attempt to seem okay.

I can sleep anywhere, she told him with a mark of good humor. I have practiced. An honest truth. While she often struggled to stay asleep, she had unfailingly slept every single day they had been together -- on cold lumpy earth, rocky slopes, and beds of needles and cones. Her prerequisite for sleeping was limited to I'm not moving.

Go see your friend. I will be here. Fife shooed him away. She wasn't tired, but she did want to be alone for a little while to sort herself out.
 
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Raigryn Vayd

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Raigryn frowned briefly, offered a smile and turned away.

"I'll try not to be too long," he said. "Can probably save some weight on the horses in blankets."

Raigryn was still trying to work out their new relationship, even after this time since the fundamental shift. He wasn't just here to try and fix everything. He couldn't make everything right.



"What are you looking for then?" The call came out to reach him as soon as he reached the top of the stairs.

"What have you got...on dragons?"
 
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Fife

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She waited after he had gone, listening for the receding sound of footsteps. When it once again grew quiet her hand balled in her lap. She waited a few breaths more and, when she still heard nothing,

Stupid, stupid, stupid. Fife closed her eyes and pressed the heels of her hands against her temples. Why? Why couldn't she just be normal?

The hiss of her sharp exhale and the soft pat of the impacts of her fists filled the otherwise quiet room. It wasn't loud enough to satisfy her. She was always too quiet. She wanted to rage and rant like that would take the crimson red edges from her mood.

But she couldn't and there was no fixing her. There was no relief from her affliction, no magical cure, and there was no escaping her own shortcomings. Fife knew it was a stupid thing to be upset about, but she was still upset.

Fife laid down. Maybe Raigryn was right and she needed a nap. She laid quietly for a while, lost deep in contemplation for a long time, only to sit up and look at the book.

There was no point in feeling sorry for herself. Fife wiped the angry tears from her cheeks, sat up, and pulled the book into her lap.
 
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Raigryn Vayd

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"Dragons?"

"Yes dragons. I thought you had perfect hearing."

"And I thought you were beyond such flight's of fancy."

"That is fair, but we did just see something with wings that was roughly the size of a large town in the air," Raigryn replied.

"Would you like Themmat's treaties on how perspective works? It has many diagrams explaining the difference between..."

"Does it show how a bird could blot out to sun to send an entire forest into darkness as it passes overhead?" Raigryn rudely interrupted.

"No. No it does not. Follow me."



It was several hours before he returned, a tome tucked under his arm. Raigryn opened the door as softly as he could, sticking in his head to see if she was awake. A soft whistle identified himself.
 
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Fife

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Fife was sitting with the book when he returned. She had it resting atop her bent knees with her back against the wall, time poised perfectly to read at her leisure with her arms wrapped around her legs. She looked up when she had heard the latch opening quietly and smiled at Raigryn when he peeked in. Any evidence of her earlier fit was gone, though her eyes were looking tired. Her mind was open and swept clean.

Hello, Raigryn, she whistled. Smile growing, she unlaced her fingers and picked up the book to show him her progress. She had read quite a bit while he was gone -- somewhere around forty pages. Not great for as long as he had been gone, but progress nonetheless.
 
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Raigryn Vayd

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Raigryn dropped a particularly old and worn tome down on the bed. It was heavy enough that the whole bed shifted a little.

He immediately ignored it in favour of seeing how far she had got. In terms of the story she had barely worked into the introduction. However, she had read an awful lot for the time he had been away. She was reaching the point where

"Enjoying it then?" He asked. Raigryn hoped she was, though if she wanted a different book they were in the right place.
 
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Fife

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The book he brought in and dropped unceremoniously on the bed made hers look very much like a child's book. Her brows rose, but she continued to hold her book out for his inspection. Fife was rather proud of her progress. She nodded and, adjusting her legs to sit cross legged, closed her book in her lap to speak to him.

Okay. She shrugged -- a response as noncommittal as her feelings toward the story thus far. Moving slow. Lots of hard names. Places I don't know. Some difficult words.

Once again, she shrugged, this time flashing him a small smile. It was not a bad thing. It was a very old story and a new reader was not likely the book's intended audience. Nevertheless…

I like reading it, Fife assured him. We are staying. I will read it more. Worst case: it didn't improve and she grabbed another book randomly from those the Librarian had set out for her.

However, her interest in her own book was rapidly waning. She turned her heavy, tired gaze to the massive tome lying opposite of her. Eyeing it, she scooted back to the head of the bed to make room for him to sit with her.

What did you find?
 

Raigryn Vayd

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"We'll be here for a few days and then I'll try and convince the librarian to let us take a book with us," he said.

Having books to hand was a rare gift in Arethil. Reading was a privilege of the few and it was a wonder. He smiled to himself at the thought of taking Fife to see a play when they reached another city.

Raigryn opened his book, flicking through to an illustration that crossed both pages. It showed several sizes of dragon to scale with a human.

He turned the page. The largest red dragon from the previous page was now the size of the human. It was swallowed up by the outline of a much greater beast.

"Elder Dragons. The only reference I can find. They're supposed to be dead."
 
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Fife

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He was always so excited about books. Then again, she supposed he would have to be the type, considering he had made something of a career with the written word. If it made him happy, then it made her happy, too.

She leaned over to look at the pages as he flipped through, hands braced on her crossed legs. Dragons. Of course it was dragons. Fife threw him an amused look.

It is not. An approximation of what she meant. There was (or had been) one, which disproved the theory.
 
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Raigryn Vayd

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"I can't find any reference that matches exactly what we saw. Even this is referencing works that the librarian hasn't even heard of, let alone seen.

"Sometimes I let it trouble me how much knowledge has been lost. Hard to imagine how far time stretches out behind us."

Raigryn looked up from te book to Fife. She looked distinctly amused. He was glad to see her smiling. Searching for the book had been a pleasant distraction, but he still felt that perhaps he should not have left her.

She stood on her own feet and it wasn't his place to fix everything. He reached out, always gentle at first. He placed the palm of his hand against her cheek, brushing a thumb across her cheekbone. How differently he saw her now.

"I guess I'm glad we left most of the dragons in the past too."
 
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Fife

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Following that thread was difficult for her. Fife couldn't even quite fathom how much knowledge existed in this dark corner of nowhere. Imagining time and events stretching back so far that they were no longer documented… It butted right up against the limits of her imagination once again.

She hadn't thought about these kinds of things before him. Now she looked at the night sky and imagined worlds far away. She thought about the intricacies of the lives people had lived in parts of the world she hadn't even known existed. She held books that contained the mind of a person that time remembered and thought of the voiceless who time forgot.

Her mind broke away from the deep thoughts, catching instead the movement of his hand. Fife didn't shy away from him -- not this time.

More than anything else, she wondered what was in his mind on the other side of the look he gave her. What did he see when he looked at her?

Though it didn't disappear entirely, her smile softened to something more neutral. She nodded. Were they still talking about books? She wanted to pretend like this was just about books, even if she wasn't sure it was. They had already exhumed the bodies of her dragons.

Bringing her hand up to rest over his, she closed her aching eyes and pressed her face into his hand with a contented sigh. She was tired and she was ready to pick up on what that nap had started.

Her stomach, however, had its own ideas. It grumbled loudly, breaking a rather serious moment for her. She laughed and sluggishly opened her tired eyes.

It might not be Jocelyn eating the books, she joked.
 
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Raigryn Vayd

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"There is actually plenty of food," he said. His face twisted into that terrible, knowing grin. His hand stayed where it was.

"Funny story that and I should explain. The people of the nearby town do trade with the librarian. They also, sort of...see her as something like a god. Twice a week she meets them at night and they bring offerings in exchange for her wisdom. She tires of the stupid questions, but it does mean she has candles and food and fresh water and other nice things.

She might have some spare knives actually. They tend to bring nice knives despite not having a need for them."

He sat back, closing his book before standing up.

"Let's go see what selection she has in her larder. After we've asked of course."
 
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Fife

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It was not a difficult leap of knowledge why locals would perceive the Librarian as a god. She nodded, understanding completely. Though, perhaps she perked up a little too much at the prospect of knives.

On the one hand, Fife was still kicking around with the same random blades she had scrounged up while running in Elbion. Knives that hadn't been sharpened to half their original width was an appealing upgrade. On the other hand, her sense of pride could only submit to so much. Raigryn was always bringing her to old friends who had few qualms extending their goodwill to her as an extension of him. Accepting gifts was a new feeling, and one that tended to chafe against that pride. Though it was teaching her how much she craved the feeling of having earned things.

Something she would try to express later. In the meantime, Fife set her book beside his and hopped off the bed to retrieve her boots. Then her hands came up to pat her chest and she looked around like she had misplaced something. It took two full turns for her to remember she didn't need her sword in the library. It was with Socks. Her Idemni habits had stuck, apparently.

Tossing Raigryn a sheepish look, she made her hands rest at her side and stepped after him.
 
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Raigryn Vayd

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"Hah!" went Raigryn when he worked out what she was looking for. He had already started looking around for something.

He was still impressed that she had stood her ground with him on the floating bridge. It was a horror he wouldn't have expected her to stand up to, but she had. She had stayed there beside him and was beginning to blend her magic into her sword play.

That she had done so on her own reminded him that it was a lesson he needed to teach her. The two arts had been trained mostly in isolation, but they had to be brought together. When to use Fury for the killing stroke, when to save it and use posture to brace, they were all intricacies to learn.

Sometimes he envied the elves for the time they had.



"Now I did promise pie," he said, returning from the larder. "Not dwarven though."

Onto a table that was a safe distance from any books he set down a karaf of wine and a small bundle. He carefully unwrapped the cold meat and vegetable pie and started cutting it into pieces.
 
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