Private Tales The March of Progress

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Vass

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"Not me." Vass said simply.

Briefly he thought about just how terrible of an idea it was to have sent him. He knew it was because of the Red Hundred he was the least likely to be noticed to be gone. The youngest and newest of them. No legend had grown around him yet, and thus even the ordinary soldier would not know his name.

Yet, negotiation took skill, none of which Vass seemed to have. "The leaders of the army."

He began to explain.

"They don't know the full story, just what the King told them." Vass knew how insane this must have sounded. "So...My Commander figures if they hear the truth, they will be less inclined to help."

Thus, saving their people. "That or...twenty thousand men march into this forest in a week."
 
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Ahsoka

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Chaos erupted.

The Elder was quietly reading the scroll when his two guards - and sons - begun practically shouting at one another in a heated debate. Both were clearly trying to get their father to see their way of thinking though the old man ignored him and Ahsoka seemed to be in danger of tugging her braids from her head as she watched them exasperated, occasionally adding in her own thought which often enough got a glare from both the men.

Eventually though the Elder held up a hand and the chaos came to an abrupt stop.

"I must discuss this with the others before I can offer your Commander an answer," said the wizened man and begun to rise. "You are to stay with us until then, apparently," he waved the scroll in amusement then glanced to Ahsoka and said something in their native tongue. With a nod she quickly withdrew the blindfold and stepped over to Vass to tie it about his eyes quite firmly.

"You were so eager to wear it after all," she murmured low in his ear then took his hand to help lead him after the others.
 
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Vass

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Vass didn't react when the other broke out into chaos.

One thing he did learn to do quite well was keep a steady face. The Drow had taught him that, though he was more than sure that they hadn't meant to. Their knives had cut deep, and their questions had been offered with nothing less than the utmost violence.

After a while it had become easier and easier to keep his face straight, to keep his reaction away from all of them. This? This was a cakewalk. "Oh, sure was."

Vass said with a shrug.

"Just make sure nothing stabs me while I'm blind." The Human said with a shrug, deciding that at this point he was probably dead anyway if they wanted to kill him.

He was a good swordsman, but he wasn't master. Not yet at least.
 
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Ahsoka

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"That is not part of the Way."

Though she was pretty sure the Chiefs sons would have happily slid a dagger between his ribs. Both of them. Even if one agreed with the idea that they needed the help of these outsiders to turn away the outsiders who wanted to oust them from their home. Neither of them would act without their fathers go ahead though and for that, Ahsoka was thankful. She didn't particularly care enough for Vass to throw herself between him and steel.

She kept a tender hold on his hand, catching his elbow every now and then to help him over rough terrain, and saw him through the fairly long trek back to their little village. Vass of course would not see anything but the smell of smoke, animals and cooking soon filled the air and shortly after that the sounds of people and life. Children laughing whilst they played, the sound of steel on steel, women chattering as they flapped items of clothing.

Once they were within the settlement Ahsoka undid the blindfold to reveal the tents which made up their home. They fanned out in a crescent around the edge of a wide lake with deep forests at their back so the tents stayed perfectly hidden. Ahsoka tied the big of fabric back around her waist.

"You must stay with Ahsoka whilst you are with us," the Elder begun speaking once Vass' eyes had adjusted to the light. "Outsiders are not... trusted as of late," he smiled sadly. "We will meet tomorrow when I shall give you our answer."
 
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Vass

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Vass rubbed at his eyes as the sun went flooding into them. He blinked once, then twice, then half a dozen more times as he finally managed to adjust to the light. "Worse than a week in the underdark."

He said with a frown, though doubted his own words.

The Elder spoke, his voice stern and serious. A frown touched Vass' lips but he almost immediately ducked his head in a quick nod. He wasn't about to argue with the man. "Of course."

For just a brief second the brash and brazen young man that he'd presented to Ahsoka for day and a half was gone. It was replaced by a man who followed orders, and knew when it was better not to question when something told to him.

"I won't leave her side." He glanced at the other not-elf with a smirk, offering a quick wink.
 
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Ahsoka

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Ahsoka didn't catch herself in time to stop herself from rolling her eyes at both his comment and the wink. She stiffened when she realised what she'd done and glanced to the Elder who merely smiled and reached out to pat her cheek.

"It will do you some good, child. Perhaps you can teach him some of the Ways so he understands," Ahsoka scrunched her nose up and looked back at Vass with obvious doubt at the Elders words, uttered in their shared tongue. The Chief only laughed and patted her cheek once more before turning and leaving them to it. One son fell straight into step with him but the other stayed and continued to glare darkly at Vass.

"If you cause trouble here, I do not care what my father says," he said in plain common and stabbed a finger at Vass' chest. "I will cleave your heart out and--"

Ahsoka slid between the pair, a knife appearing in her hands.

"Leave him alone, Jet. You heard your father," the taller man took a wary step back, eyeing up the naked blade, then spat and stormed off after the chief. With a sigh Ahsoka put her blade away.
 
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Vass

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If there was one thing Vass had learned in the Red Hundred, it was how to deal with someone trying to intimidate him. The not-elf squared up to him, jabbing a finger into his chest and practically spitting at him.

Vass didnt reply.

He didn't need to. All he did was smile. The other man was taller than him, but with the way Vass looked at him they might as well have been the same height. He looked at the man like a wolf looked at a puppy. There was no fear to his gaze, nothing at all that denoted worry or concern.

None of that would do him any good. He knew that. If this man decided to fight him there was no winning. Even if Vass cut him to ribbons, everyone else around them would likely see him hanged from the nearest tree. Thus the better option was just squaring up, daring the man to move, and showing him Vass wouldn't.

Then Ahsoka squeezed between them.

His tongue remained silent as the other man backed off, spitting onto the floor with some sort of curse Vass didn't understand. After a moment he shrugged, and then took half a step away from Ahsoka herself. "I think he likes me."

Vass commented.
 
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Ahsoka

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Ahsoka's eyes rolled towards the heavens and she wordlessly mouthed a small prayer. If someone else didn't kill him, it was highly likely she might by tomorrow morning. With a long suffering sigh she shook her head.

"Come on."

She wasn't entirely sure what to do with him. The Chief had called him a guest which meant just sticking him in one of the tents and tying him up was out of the question, which was a shame considering all the work she had to catch up on. As she begun to walk however she realised that the first place she needed to go was the healers. So without a word she thread him through the thongs of tents, the warren of their nomadic city which seemed to randomly open up onto large markets, or pastures where horses were grazing without harness or rein.

"Ahsoka!" They were just coming up to the medic tent when a petite nurse stepped out. There was clear alarm on her face when she saw Vass and she took two quick steps back.

"Peace, Marion. He's our... guest," she threw a glance at the man that said behave in whatever language he spoke. "His name is Vass... but I'm here for me," she grimaced slightly and put a hand on her ribs. The nurse's ears twitched as she followed her friends hand then concern melted the fear.

"Come inside... both of you," she added reluctantly.
 
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Vass

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Vass tagged along with Ahsoka, walking through the camp with his head on a swivel. He watched everything that he could, not for any nefarious purpose, but because...well that was simply what he did.

A big reason he had joined the Red Hundred was to go see more of the world.

Of course in the first year that had ended with him being tortured in the middle of the Underdark, but...well one had to take the good with the bad. His gaze flickered around, watching the tents and everything. It was an interesting mark of culture, and clearly a nomadic one. Oddly enough Vass could see the appeal in all of it, though he himself preferred a roof over his head.

When yet another not-elf popped up Vass only offered a friendly wave.

He decided that staying quiet was probably the best decision here. A stranger in a strange land did not do well with sticking themselves in every little things. Especially since half the people here looked as though they were ready to stab him at a moments notice.

As the nurse lead Ahsoka to what appeared like an examination table Vass took up a post on the corner of the room...tent.
 
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Ahsoka

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Marion kept throwing Vass looks even as she worked and Ahsoka began to disrobe. The bruises looked far worse now they had had a day to settle deep into her skin. Her right side was almost completely black with a smattering of purple and there was a subtle hint of white where the bone was pressing unnaturally against the skin. She grimaced as she ran a finger over it before Marion slapped it away with a tut.

"You should have come here straight away."

Ahsoka decided not to point out she hadn't had a choice in the matter and merely nodded whilst the healer begun to smear a rich smelling paste across her skin with murmured words. Magic pricked the air.

"Does he always just stand there so... quietly?" she shot another furtive glance his way.

"You can talk to him. He only speaks Common, mind," Ahsoka added sourly. Marion blushed and then bit her lip before plucking up the courage to ask.

"D-do you need healing?"
 
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Vass

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"I do not, thank you." Vass said about as politely as Ahsoka had ever heard him speak.

He was no stranger to being a guest. Half the year the Red Hundred were introducing themselves to one new culture or another. It was important to be respectful, though that often didn't matter when conflicts were raging all around.

Better to be nice than to end up getting tortured again. "Some water would be nice, if you have it."

They had left the camp so quickly that he'd barely had time to grab any supplies at all.

It had been a foolish move in retrospect, but they'd made it well enough to the camp without problems. Unlike some others though Vass couldn't go quite as long without food or drink, a fact that he was sure would earn him some mockery from Ahsoka.
 
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Ahsoka

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Marion looked torn between surprise and suspicion with Vass' polite tone and her ears twitched several times before she finally nodded and went to fetch a jug and a cup. Her hands were shaking as she poured the water but she managed to get some semblance of calm before passing it over to him. Then she quickly returned to Ahsoka's side. The Tsa'lagi was laid out on the table with golden mists slowly swirling over her side. Bit by bit the bruising seemed to be fading and the white puncture didn't seem so prominent. Marion checked then clicked her tongue and the golden light faded.

"I do not think I can do much more for you, but I mended the break at least. You really should be more careful," she frowned as Ahsoka gingerly sat up. "I'll put some bandages on to help, but take it easy."

"Yes, healer," Ahsoka intoned dutifully with a tiny quirk of her lips. Marion shot her a dark look but went to fetch the bandages. When she returned she was swift in fixing her back up and Ahsoka was soon on her feet and tugging on her shirt again.

"Remember, rest," Marion repeated, glancing between the pair of them with some concern. Ahsoka offered her a tiny smile then ducked out of the tent with a sigh.

"Is there anything in particular you want to see?"
 
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Vass

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Vass took the cup with a grateful word, noting the shake in the woman's hand.

It was the first time that it occurred to him that all of Ahsoka's anger and curt words were naught but a mask for fear. Perhaps not for herself, but for her people. The healer was scared of him, and there was really only one reason for that. A frown touched his lips, Vass losing himself in thought before the bright golden glow of magic fell over the inside of the tent.

His attention was dragged over to the mist almost immediately, interest piqued. They had a few healers in the Hundred, but all of them had different methods. Some used herbs and salves, but one or two used magic. Nothing like this though. He tilted his head as the mist disappeared, and the two women quickly spoke in their native tongue before Ahsoka once again beckoned him outside.

Vass lingered for a brief moment, tempted to ask a question, but instead wordlessly slipped out of the tent.

"Me?" Vass asked with a slight frown, glancing at Ahsoka. "I don't think so."

He said with a shake of his head. "But then again that may just be my propensity for self preservation. I have a feeling that some of your...friends would eagerly like to accuse me of spying."

Friends was an overly kind title to give the two men she had brandished a knife at earlier.
 
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Ahsoka

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Ahsoka snorted.

That was certainly a nice way of putting what her 'friends' hoped to be abuse to accuse him of. She couldn't say she blamed them. She, in a way, felt much the same. They had lost many to this fight, a fight they had never wanted to have, all over the right to live in these forests as they had done for millennia's. Sometimes when she shut her eyes she could still hear the sound of the children screaming when their tents were being set on fire.

"They shouldn't have threatened you like that, it is not..." her lips flattened into a thin line of irritation though it was hard to tell whether that was directed at Vass or the men from earlier. With a sigh she shook her head and set off.

"If you don't want to see anything then you can sit quietly while I work."
 
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Vass

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Vass frowned for a moment as she spoke, then suddenly cut herself off. Teeth sank into his lower lip for a moment as he thought. "No no."

She'd made the offer, the least he could do was accept it.

"I want to see things." This was one of the strangest conversations he'd ever had. Maybe because just a few hours ago Ahsoka had threatened to stab him. More than once. "I just think it's probably best if you decide what I should see."

A shrug rolled over his shoulders. "That way at least I have plausible deniability."

If it ever came to that, which he certainly hoped it didn't.
 
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Ahsoka

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Ahsoka stopped mid step then turned back to him as he changed his mind, fists planted on her hips. Men! No matter the race they were always so indecisive and slow. She listened, barely stopping herself from tapping her foot, and then gave a long suffering sigh when he explained his thought process. Once more she rolled her eyes towards the heavens and said a half prayer before turning that smudged-eye look back to him with a considering pout.

"Well... I'm hungry and I didn't see you eat either, so let's start off with the market," she didn't fancy cooking. Healing might have helped but it didn't take away pain and it was only making her more hungry and irritable. With a nod of her head she lead off in the direction most of the people traffic seemed to be heading in.

To an outsider the tents probably looked random but then that was the point. For the Tsa'lagi who lived there it couldn't be simpler, as it would be for any visiting Tsa'lagi. The market was at the very heart of their community and was a bustling and vibrant place. Most wares were on the floor on colourful blankets of luscious furs. A few were on tables and several used nearby trees to hang their wares. Food stations were a series of different cooking fires which wafted luscious scents over it all.

Ahsoka wound her way lazily through the throngs of people.

"What do you eat?"
 
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Vass

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For some reason Vass didn't expect this place to have a market. Perhaps it was all the tents, the odd transient nature of it. He had sort of thought that perhaps it was a communal thing, though perhaps it could still be even now.

A frown touched his face for a brief moment, but he refrained from asking stupid questions as the two of them made their way through the tent city.

Quietly he tried to form a layout in his mind. Not for any nefarious purpose, but...the way those men had looked at him made him feel as though it might have been something he would need. Just in case things went truly wrong.

As they reached the market Vass looked around once more, a hand scratching at his beard. "Hm?"

He was half caught up in everything around him when she asked, his brain taking a second to catch up.

"Oh." The young soldier said. "Pretty much everything. I mean, The Hundred tend to be rather...diverse in their cuisine. I like fish?"

Vass was from a coastal town after all.
 
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Ahsoka

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"Fish."

Ahsoka repeated as though he had just said 'meat'. Clearly not satisfied with just a general idea the Tsa'lagi sighed again and then begun to lead him past the stalls with the smells of fresh stews and spitting meats. Families and groups gathered about the fires and chatted as they ate. A few people passed over good or small tokens which to most cultures might have just looked like the exchange of presents but was what the tribe used instead for currency. She stopped when they suddenly appeared almost on the bank of the lake. Here the fires were more spread out and it was less busy; most people had already come to collect the best catch of the day.

"Take your pick," she offered and waved her hands towards the fires. One held a pot with some kind of bubbling fish concoction, another had wrapped fish in giant leaves and was smoking over large flat stones, and another was deshelling shellfish and serving it up with a good smelling sauce.
 
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Vass

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Vass perused the three dishes with a great amount of interest.

Back home fish was the main staple of almost every meal. He'd grown up eating it prepared in a hundred different ways by a hundred different people. Stews. Roasted. Fried. Whatever the hell else one could do with fish.

He'd never had it in a leaf though. "That one."

Vass said as he pointed to the odd leafed Fish sitting over the flat stones.

"It's new to me." He told Ahsoka, half turning back towards her. "And according to the Commander you should always try new things."

Though that attitude had gotten more than a few new recruits killed. Not that anyone openly admitted to the fact.
 
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Ahsoka

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Ahsoka raised both her brows and then, with a hint of amusement in her eyes and the curve of her lips, she motioned for him to approach the cook.

"Go on then, get your food."

Their ways always seemed to confuse outsiders. Tsa'lagi did not have to 'pay' for anything. Their system was a bartering one - it might be a fish for a week for a piece of jewellery, or it might be a favour or work in return for a hot meal. It was a discussion, the worth of an item judged on what it meant to the person. Nobody, absolutely nobody, ever went without food or a place to sleep. It was simply not the Way.

Ahsoka was just curious to see how this exchange would go. The rather large man squatted by the fish barely gave them a glance, waiting for them to make the first move.
 
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Vass

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For a few seconds Vass only glanced over towards Ahsoka. He watched her in silence for a moment, and then slowly stepped towards the portly man behind the counter.

He had watched enough of the interactions to make some guess at what was going on here.

Vass might not have been as traveled as some of the Hundred, but he'd seen enough of the world to know bartering when he saw it. The trouble was...how much was something worth? And did it matter that he was human?

He supposed it did in a way. Well, here goes nothing.

Vass thought to himself.

"Hello there." The common tongue was the only way to engage. "I'd like to try one of your...fish please?"
 
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Ahsoka

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The cook squinted up at the tall, pale-skinned youth from where he was crouched and seemed to assess him quite critically. His eyes ran up and down then from left to right before clicking his tongue and muttering something in their native tongue. Whatever it was made Ahsoka laugh before shaking her head. The man looked back at Vass.

"What do you offer?" he raised an eyebrow before turning the fish over so it cooked the other side. The smoky smell wafted into the air with a slight sweet tinge produced by the leaves. Ahsoka's stomach growled but she stayed back. She was curious to see what it was Vass was going to do next.
 
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Vass

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Vass considered for a moment.

The worth of a meal was not often the same in one place as it was in another. Some cultures valued feeding guests and even prisoners above everything else. It was a sign of status, a sign of just how generous you could be.

Such wasn't the case here, probably, but he figured from some of the other things he'd seen traded that he had a good weight of things. Probably. "I have this..."

Vass said as he reached back into his belt pouch.

He had his sword, his belt knife, but both seemed far too much to offer. So instead he pulled out a small ivory statuette. It had been carved by one of the Massassi tribe in the O Ka La Isles. Given to him in a humorously similar situation.

Save for he'd been the one with the food.
 
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Ahsoka

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Ahsoka watched in amused silence as the large man took the offered statue in one meaty fist and raised it to his mouth where he proceeded to bite the stone to test it. His gaze turned thoughtful and he bit it again, softer this time, then proceeded to turn it this way and that in his fingers so it caught the light. His expression changed. It was hard to put a finger on how exactly it did but it did. Like Vass had passed some silent test. With a large huff the man pocketed it and then carefully removed not one but two fish from his fire completed with leaves and put them on a piece of rough wood which acted as a serving plate. Along came a dollop of rice and beans.

Which he held up to Vass.

Leaving Vass to figure out what to do next Ahsoka stepped forward to get her own. From her hair she took a long beautifully crafted braid of colourful ribbons. The mans eyes lit up as she passed it to him and in return she received one fish. Then she led the way to the lake shore to sit and unwrap her precious bundle.

"It is smoked fish in the Anyanyan leaves, it gives it a sweet but smoky taste," she explained as she begun to pluck at the fish and rice with her fingers.
 
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Vass

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Vass gratefully took the offered food, though immediately thought that it would likely give him a stomach ache if he ate it all.

Not that it would stop him.

Carefully balancing the large wooden plated stacked half height with food Vass followed after Ahsoka as they moved away from the stall. He used his one hand to slowly munch away at one of the pieces of fish, nodding his head. "Taftes liek it."

He had absolutely no idea what Anyanayan leaves were, but she didn't need to know that.

The important thing was the food tasted good.

"Ifts Delificous." Vass declared, offering her a messy thumbs up.
 
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