Private Tales This Ill Fate

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Veithir

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The Autumn Court
Laigin


Continued from here.

The time taken to return had been within Veithir's estimation. And save for stopping to remove that nauseating armor the girl wore before traveling the Ley there weren't any unexpected stops needing to be made. Time was of the essence, after all.

Ralene had survived the trip thanks to her constitution, tenacity, and the impromptu treatment she'd received from the necromancer. So said the healers, anyway. They had much to say. Something about the futility of trying to save her—she was only a mortal, they said. Too close to death, they said. It would be a waste of time, they said.

Veithir always spoke plainly and openly, so when he promised to make accessories of their eyes, ears, and tongues, the healers had no reason to disregard his threat and did as the Hound commanded.

Some days passed. When Ralene stirred, she found herself in an impossibly comfortable bed within a spacious room. Sitting by her bedside, Veithir patiently flipped through a book. Behind him were archways that led to a balcony and a view of the wilds. When the huntsman noticed her come to, he saved his place in the book and set it down on his lap.

Good morning? Ah, you're awake? I'm glad to see you're doing better?

Unsure of what exactly to say, Veithir just stared at the girl.
 
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Ralene

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So this is what death felt like?

Drifting on clouds amid an airy, open space of fluid, blurred colors? The scent of flowers and nectar wafting in, infiltrating her senses. Her fingers were the first things to move, twitching across silk sheets that were certainly not her own. Ralene did not know anyone who slept on silk sheets - not even the whores at the brothels around Vel Anir did. Theirs was a fine-woven linen, soft but far from luxury.

The next thing to stir was the slow, drifting movement of her head as she waded in and out of consciousness.

Her vision refused to focus, but it did capture movement to her right. Ral turned her head to look and immediately regretted the decision as her head violently swirled a miasma of throbbing pain and nausea.

She made a sound of displeasure, tried to ask where she was, and realized moments later that her throat was parched. The words were dry, broken, and sluggish.

Fuck man, being dead sucked.
 
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Veithir

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How very sad, the girl's pitiful state. Veithir sat patiently as she fought to return from the brink of death, and barely understood the start of her question. The rest he made out through guesswork.

The Puca picked up a half-filled pitcher of cool water from the end table next to her bed. Slices of mixed citrus fruits floated in it. Viethir poured a glass, set the pitcher down with a quiet thud, and slid the glass across the table to her.

"Drink."
 

Ralene

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Falling still as she sensed movement again, Ralene strained to listen to the sound of clothing gently rustling. Something being picked up, the sound of water pouring into a glass. She tried again to move, gritting against the swill of her head to push herself to sit up - a great effort that it had not been in such a very long time. If her memory served her correctly, the last she'd felt this terrible was the first time Edric had nearly drained her dry of life.

Only this time she did not feel ... hollow.

Her hand reached out to the bedside, bumping into the table edge and smoothing across to the glass. Ralene brought it to her lips and drank deeply, leaving it empty in just a few gulps. Her lungs then gulped for air and for several moments she merely sat there, willing the world to stop spinning.

"Where...am I?" that was better, "Why can't I see?"
 

Veithir

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The huntsman answered slowly, his voice a gentle hum, "Thisss isss my home, Laigin. You were treated here. To cure the poissson."

Veithir set his book on the table next to the pitcher, and his own glass of water. He softly cleared his throat.

"You are under the effect of a ssspell. Ssso long as you remain within the Court'sss demesssne, you will be without sssight. When you leave, it will lift. Such wasss the condition of your treatment."
 

Ralene

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She could not remember much past the arrival of Drastus and his abomination he called a mammoth. There were brief flashes of watching the horizon over Edric's shoulder, lost in the stench of death upon which they rode. Ral wasn't even sure if the heartbeat she remembered hearing with her head against the back of his shoulder was his own, or the one pulsating in her head. The taste of that acrid bile was somehow still fresh on her tongue.

Brow furrowed over a growing grimace, Ralene leaned forward with her head in her hands, kneading at her eyelids. There was something strangely familiar about that voice...that hiss.

"Laigin ... Court?" try as she might to wrack her brain for such names, nothing turned up. History. Maps. Strategy. Kingdoms and Empires. Wars and battles. Diplomacy and subterfuge. These were the learnings well within her wheelhouse and none of them ever made mention of a Laigin.

Perhaps, she thought, it was such a small place as to be relatively unknown. There were plenty of towns and villages like that, but the word Court made her think bigger.

"Where is Laigin?"
 

Veithir

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Veithir answered plainly, as his manner was, "The Court exertsss itsss influenccce acrosss the entirety of the Ixchel Wildsss. Laigin ressstsss in the far eassst. More water?"
 

Ralene

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A pause of silence from Ralene. She wasn't one to ask for much of anything, but presently she felt as though she could drain an entire lake and still have that taste at the back of her tongue.

A slow breath out, she nodded and held the empty glass out in the general direction of the hissing voice.

Please and thank you weren't exactly part and partial to an Initiate's vocabulary. Growing up, using such words made one appear weak. A prime target for opportunist fellow Initiates. They were words used only at the edge of threat from a Proctor or, Gods forbid, an elder Dreadlord come to teach a lesson. Needless to say, they weren't words Ralene used often at all and wouldn't be used now. Not when she had very little idea of where she was or who made her present company.

"Court...what Court?" The Ixchel Wilds were massive and sprawling. How could a single entity claim influence across their entire spread?
 

Veithir

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There was the quiet sound of water filling the glass and the subtle weightiness that accompanied it.

"The Autumn Court," Veithir continued, "It isss one of the many entitiesss that rule the Fae. You ssshant find the bordersss of thisss Kingdom scribed on mortal mapsss. It exissstsss in a realm ssseparate from your own. And I have brought you here for your treatment."

The Hound folded his hands in his lap.

"And upon your recovery, I will return you to your comradesss. Sssuch isss the condition of the pact."
 

Ralene

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Ralene's brow furrowed ever deeper as he spoke.

This...had to be some kind of joke. Or perhaps she really was dead ... or lucid dreaming from the poison and still on her way to death. Either way, she decided that regardless of either, she wasn't staying here.

"Fae Court...right," she brought the glass to her lips and downed it in a matter of a few moments. Ralene had only heard of the fae and anything remotely related to them through strange mutterings and comments made by Chasmine. Or comments made about Chasmine. Neither of which gave her much stock in whatever the fuck this was.

"Well I don't want to trouble the fae any longer. Consider me recovered. Just give me my armor and affects and I can be on my way back to my comrades."
 

Veithir

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"You will crosss half of the world, then? In that ssstate? Do not be recklesss. You need more ressst."

Veithir stood and walked to the arches, drawing the long curtains open to let the sun and a warm breeze in. He stood there for a moment, looking out across Laigin, then turned back to Ralene.

"Besssidesss, there isss no trouble. You are here on my authority," he returned to his seat, "Be asssured, your belongingsss will be returned. And your armor will be replaccced by the bessst that our blacksssmithsss have to offer."
 
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Ralene

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Stubborn as she was, Ralene could appreciate the distance traveled even if she still wasn't fully aware of just how far it really was. The Dreadlord Initiate was, begrudgingly, about to relent to pragmatism until that last sentence hissed through his teeth.

The sound of shattering crystal rang through the room. Ralene's fingers closed tightly around several large shards of the empty glass in her hand, drawing an eager well of blood.

"And why..." a dark grimace shifted across her face, voice wavering just a pitch above boiling rage, "would my armor need replacing?"
 

Veithir

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Veithir's elliptical pupils thinned into tiny slivers of black as his attention snapped to her now-bleeding hand.

"The armor wasss left behind," the Fae didn't hesitate to admit the simple truth, "It would have made traveling here complicated."
 

Ralene

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Ralene squeezed the crystal shards, "Then my armor will be retrieved," a hard line formed along her jaw, blood began to freely drip onto the comforter, "not replaced."
 

Veithir

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Veithir fell into a brief contemplative silence. The sounds of grating crystal urged him to a quick decision.

"Very well," he said plainly, and after a pause, he stood up, "Excussse me a moment."

The huntsman's light footsteps circled the large bed and receded towards the door. Veithir left for a moment and returned with a small tray of supplies: a hand towel, bowl of water, bandage roll, shears, and salve. It quietly rattled as he returned to his seat. He set the tray down with a soft thunk on the end table.

"I'm sssorry," Veithir hissed, "If I'd known it wasss important to you, I wouldn't have left it behind. May I sssee your hand?"
 

Ralene

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For several moments she felt that fury continue to sear through her veins, bidden by the one thing in her life she'd ever placed any value on: her armor. It wasn't pretty nor was it perfect, but it was the only thing she had in her entire life that she could call her own. Designed and crafted by her own two hands, her armor had seen several years of use and abuse, repair and refurbishment. Upgrades and enchantments.

It was bonded to her by the blood, sweat, and magic poured into it. Like a second skin. It couldn't just be replaced, especially not by some souless, lifeless pieces of metal fabricated by a complete stranger.

How dare he.

How-

"I'm sssorry,"

The blood in her veins and the air in her lungs almost immediately froze, so taken aback by the apology and the ease in which it had been so sincerely delivered. He could have struck her out of nowhere and it would have caught her less off guard than those words. Her bleary gaze, still refusing to focus, snapped to follow the sound of him near the bedside and she leaned away in reproach, grimacing in refreshed anger. He was joking, had to be.

"I made that armor myself," she snarled at him, her hand now crunching down around the glass shards, "and I've worn it for years, of course it's important to me!"
 

Veithir

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"I sssee," Veithir thoughtfully responded. He did not hold an attachment to things. Nor was he a craftsman and couldn't begin to understand the pride and ownership in toiling with his hands to create something. "It will be returned. I ssswear it."

He slowly reached out and cautiously touched her wrist, "Ssshow me your hand."
 
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Ralene

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The anger desperately held on, gripping at her with all the weight of the baggage beget by years of mental, physical, and emotional trauma. Anger kept you safe. Anger kept you sharp.

Then his fingertips made contact with her wrist and quite suddenly she felt that anger let go and fall to the pit of her stomach. There it churned with the sickening heat of desperation as everything about the entire situation all hit her at once. How a simple dagger had so easily taken the strength from her, made her weak and pathetic in front of not just her fellow Initiates, but the one Initiate whose opinion she actually cared about.

Her hand gave one last squeeze of resolution, teeth grit and biting into a growl of anger, digging the shards ever deeper, insisting on the pain as a means of punishment ... and gave in to the exhaustion of everything.

Fingers loosening their grip, she let the fae take her hand and tend to it.

"How long..." Ral hunched over, head buried in her other hand, "have I been here?"
 
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Veithir

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Veithir quietly sighed as he carefully picked up the blood-slicked shards from her palm and set them on the tray next to him.

"Five daysss," he answered as he soaked the washcloth and put it to her hand, wiping clean her blood. Her hands were rough and large. Strong. Quite unlike how he remembered them from all those years ago.

"You're a sssmith? And a sssoldier?"
 

Ralene

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Five days.

The answer saturated Ralene's thoughts that she did not even register the pain of having crystal shards extracted from the flesh of her palm. Five days. She'd been here five days? How impossible was this? She'd never fucked up a mission so bad in her life - failed of course, every Initiate failed sometimes, but never for something so mundane as being stabbed or poisoned. At least, not for Ral. Her failures had come at the hand of opponents or targets far more experienced, powerful, and skilled than she. Failures were expected by the Proctors, but that didn't make them tolerable by any means.

How was she going to explain this? What had happened to the team? The last coherent thought of her mind about them had been arriving at the outskirts of town riding that ghastly beast. Beyond that ... her memory struggled. She'd not been aware enough after the point she'd tumbled from the mammoth.

The questions about her hobbies and career went entirely ignored.

"What happened," her gaze shifted in his direction, strained and anxious, "you said something about a pact. Why am I here? Where is my team?"
 
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Veithir

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Veithir's lithic mask of a face froze, surprised for half a breath that his questions had been ignored. How incredibly rude of her. But the matters of which she inquired about were of great importance. The Hound understood her wanting to know.

"Your large companion required asssuranccce of your return. Wordsss were not enough, ssso I offered my life to him in the event that you are not reunited in an accceptable conditttion. It putsss me in a rather compromisssing posssition, but I underssstood his warinesss. I am, after all, a ssstranger." Veithir's attempt at a wisecrack fell flat and humorlessly, "In regardsss to their whereaboutsss, I cannot sssay. I have remained here during your recovery. Finding them isss a sssimple ordeal. Sssuch is the benefit of my oath."

All the while, Veithir painstakingly tended to her hand.

"Do you have any other quessstionsss?"
 
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Ralene

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So this was Edric's doing.

Ralene felt a rush of intense emotion at this information and she couldn't be sure what exactly it was. Unsettling enough for her that she had trouble listening to the rest of the explanation. Edric had given her to this complete stranger, this ... fae ... to be healed. To save her life. There was so much to unpack in that single notion and absolutely none of it was simple.

At the very least it would be simple to find them again. One very small concern lifted from an otherwise overwhelming amount of disparity.

"No," she said finally, her throat once more feeling raw from the tension of holding in ... was it rage? The intensity was there, but this felt different. She couldn't tell.

"No I do not."
 
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Veithir

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Veithir glanced up from her hand, his own two pausing for a moment at the strained sound of her voice.

"Very well," the puca responded and finished treating her by smearing a salve over the cut and dressing it carefully.

He would leave again to take the supplies and broken glass away. Upon returning, Veithir took his seat.

"Isss there anything elssse you need? Are you hungry?"
 

Ralene

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She was grateful for the drop in questioning. The status of her thoughts were far too inclement to handle much more of an investigation. Too many things to sort out, too many things to needle her anxiety. Ralene was not a worrier, she was a planner. A strategizer. She could pivot with the best of them and work as effectively and efficiently as her body and mind could handle. Adapt when the situation called for it.

But what the fuck was she supposed to do about this?

It felt that she would be a week away a least if she had to guess. Would Ed have lead Davi and Drastus to success in the mission by now? Were they already working on finding a way back to the Academy? Were they waiting for her return? Would they wait? Or would they follow the mission and head home as soon as they had what they needed.

Everything was so fucked.

"Are you hungry?"

Her thoughts ground to a halt, as though some meager thing such as hunger might stop the freight train roaring through her mind. But after a moment of consideration and clutching her uninjured hand to her middle where there once had been an oozing, stinking, horrible stab wound, Ralene realized the pangs she felt in her gut were not from that, but that she was starving after not having eaten after five whole days.

"Yeah," she replied quietly, idly rubbing at her abdomen, "I guess I am."
 
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Veithir

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Though unaware of exactly what it was, Veithir could see from the subtle quirks in her countenance that she bore a great burden. Straining to focus his ears, he could hear the faint beat of her heart and the stressfully urgent pace it beat at. Thus, he felt guilty for posing one last question. Or a series of questions, depending on Ralene's answer.

"Do you have any preferencccesss?"
 
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