Ameiko Kaijitsu's brow had been knit with concentration. A half-second later, her face wears a dazzling smile. Sandru Vhiski's grin nearly matches hers as he walks through the creaking door of the Rusty Dragon. As she has done more times than her patrons could count, Ameiko springs over the bar, hoisting herself as her legs swing clear of the oak counter. A moment later, she is in Sandru's arms.
"Ah, civilization!" Sandru says, laughing. "It is good to see you."
Ameiko steps back, beaming. "I do hope you have tales to share from your trip. There have been few enough lately."
Sandru sighs heavily. "My mind is too weary to spin them well. But...strange folk have accompanied me here. One of them carries...well...you will need to see it for yourself."
Ameiko raises an eyebrow. "Oh?"
"And of course there were goblins."
"And of course."
The front door again swings open with a loud creak. Koya Mvashti enters, the dust of the road still hanging heavily on her colorful silks. She smiles at Ameiko, but says nothing as she finds a quiet table in the corner. Without even acknowledging her, Ameiko walks back behind the bar and begins fixing a drink as Sandru dully recounts the goblin ambush and how easily it had been turned aside. Ameiko steps back out and goes to Koya's table, depositing the reddish beverage and giving the old woman a loving pat on the shoulder.
Koya smiles again. "Thank you."
For the three of you not yet inside the Rusty Dragon, you can certainly narrate your entrance.
Prostrating herself at the altar dedicated to Desna, Lisabett recalls the chill of her homelands as though it were only this morning the frosty wind was wiping her hair across her face, into her eyes and mouth. It seemed, some mornings, that it was her own frosted hair that had left so many scars across her face. Lisabett could almost taste the snow and ice in her mouth, feel the pressure of her frozen mucus pressing against her sinuses.
But the borealis, and the spheres... Lisabett exhales sharply and rises, her blonde hair falling shaggy around her face. Skald"It has been many years, my Lady. Without your guidance... I was lost"/Skald. "Thank you," she whispers, softer than a prayer.
The feeling in Lisabett's breast at that moment is profound, the weight of her sins weighs heavily upon her, but Sandru-
Lisabett is relieved when the ruckus taking place behind her interrupts her inappropriate thoughts about the handsome caravan leader. She cranes her neck to see the source, and catches only the doors slamming closed after its exit. The kindly priest that showed her to Desna's altar seems confused when he turns and apologetically addresses Lisbett. "I hope Koya is as glad to see you, Brother Holheim," he says.
Lisabett follows the brother's exit with her eyes for a moment, then slowly rises. She knows that her impressive height has the manner of unnerving some, and the scars on her face and arms worse, but the priest favors her with a gentle smile.
"Pray, pardon me, Uncle, but in my haste to commune with my good Lady, I have forgotten to inquire about living arrangements," Lisabett speaks carefully, her words sometimes inclined to a musical quality as is common among them who speak her language. "Are you familiar with a place in town where I might lie and observe the spheres in peace?"
For a moment the priest seems to consider Lisabett, her height, face and accent too, before answering that there is no such place that he is aware of, but should she need lodging, she will find rooms available at the Rusty Dragon. Lisabett asks and receives directions to the establishment, and sets out with her meager belongings immediately.
She arrives in time to see Sandru embrace a short, beautiful, and dark woman with much grace and laugh, and immediately feels guilty for having intruded on the scene.
Strange folk have accompanied me, Lisabett's mind repeats as she easily glides towards a table far from the happy couple, and from Koya as well, observing. She considers the small amount of coin she retains from her raids woefully, and giving it all up here, but would it be worse if others drank from the profits of her ill gotten gains? She wonders how Koya might answer that, but keeps her peace, content to remain unnoticed.
Learning to speak, read and write Tian had seemed so easy at first. But the last couple of weeks had proved tricky. No matter how many times he went over these modifiers they always seemd to slip out of his mind. He thanked Shelyn every day for the time he got to spend with Ameiko but it was getting a bit frustrating to keep stumbling over the same things again and again.
So engrossed was he that he jumped a bit when Ameiko shouted, "Shandru!. Dazed, he looked over to the entrance and it seemed to take a moment for the scene to register. Ah, Shandru's back...they seem tired but no worse for the wear. And there's Koya - I still can't believe she made the trip, though I understand the desire.
Sighing, he turns back and looks down at the sheets in front of him but the characters seem to dance before his eyes. Standing up, he turns and heads towards Ameiko and Shandru...for about two steps before changing direction and heading over to the table where Koya is seated.
"Lady Koya," Sorin says with a merry twinkle in his golden eyes as he gives her an extravagant bow, "I trust that the art of the world has enriched your life? Welcome home."
He rises from his bow but is distracted by the door opening again. He raises an eyebrow as he sees the Ulfen woman enter. Well that's...different. She doesn't seem like one of Shandru's normal companions. He smiles at a sudden thought, Perhaps there's a tale worthy of song here...
Koya smiles at Sorin. "Thank you. And it has, as it always does, but it is ever the same art." She sips from her drink.
"Well." Ameiko yawns at Sandru mockingly as he finishes telling her of the goblin attack. "It is fortunate they were scared of you."
"It was not me they were scared of." Sandru sends a quick glance in the direction of Lisabett, but his eyes do not linger.
"Your dogs then?" Ameiko teases.
"Yes. My dogs. My ferocious dogs!"
"If only the goblins of Brinestump were so easily frightened." Ameiko's tone is no longer playful.
Sandru looks are her quizzically.
"Don't worry, Sandru. Sorin was going to Belor Hemlock this very afternoon to inquire about that. Right, Sorin?" A wicked grin comes to her face.
Lisabett colors at the implication that she and the brave men that had followed her at the costs of their own lives, proud warriors who had accepted the bonds of slavery before they challenged the thin, dark man to mortal combat for their freedom were dogs. She raises her tattooed and scarred arms slowly, and places them before her on the table, the flats of her palms against the table top to show that she has no intention of bringing violence to this place.
"That is... rude?" Lisabett answers Sandru. As of late, her grasp of the common tongue has been falling to the wayside in favor of deciphering and learning the languages spoken amidst the caravan. "Espen, Andres and Large Ulric would not have harmed your crew, or your kin," she adds passionately, a blush blossoming on her face at the last.
Embarrassed that she has suddenly called attention to herself yet again, Lisabett slides her left hand up and over her right wrist and rubs where the bonds Sandru had placed around them had chafed all those days while she marched in judgment of him. Thinking on it caused her hands to seize, as they often did in the greatest chill, which sends a shiver up her spine. Her pride... yes, her pride of a warrior, installed in her from the moment Maens had gifted her with her spear, had been surrendered to protect folk whom she did not know, and comparison to a dog was what her voluntary shame had earned.
Lisabett swallows hard as the conversation turns from her to the subject of goblins, relieved that the focus of conversation has turned from her.
Sorin watches the exchange with interest, though not much comprehension. "This is a strange drama I'm witnessing," he thinks as he glances back and forth between Sandru and the Ulfen's. "I don't think that..." Sorin blinks a few times as he suddenly realises his name has been mentioned.
He turns to Ameiko trying to pull his scattered thoughts back into order. "Uhm...Belor? "That"?" Sorin frantically tries to pull his face into something that resembles a look of understanding. "I mean, of course Ameiko. In fact, she was just about to finish explaining..."that" to me when you came in, Sandru." Gods above, I'm acting like an idiot...
Sandru's face falls in bewilderment. Rarely have you seen him without words. A moment passes in silence, and all eyes in the Rusty Dragon dart between Sandru and Lisabett. At last, the Varisian speaks, albeit not with his usual eloquence.
"Are you...insulted by the fact that I said they ran from-" The realization hits him. His mouth opens wide for a brief moment before he roars with laughter. "I do not call you or your companions dogs. It was a jest, but I meant...I think Ameiko meant my dogs. Literally, the dogs that were mine...with the caravan." Ameiko punches him in the stomach. "Oof!"
She speaks in Varisian. "That is for Espen, Andres and Large Ulric." She laughs. Sandru laughs. Ameiko then turns to Lisabett with a smile, then to Sorin as he speaks.
"I too am jesting, Sorin." She leans against the bar behind her. "I would never volunteer another for that kind of work. Laugh as we might at the bloodthirsty little monsters, they are dangerous. The group that went to root them out has not sent word in three days. And a fresh explosion in the sky last night...it's disconcerting, to say the least."
Lisabett watches the smaller woman's fist connect with Sandru's stomach and sees something very different, the head of her spear connecting with a warrior's ribs, breaking them, and killing him. She closes her eyes and shakes her head, but she cannot easily throw off the memory of who she allowed herself to become in those years. The scars of her shapely arms, the tattoos - each were permanent reminders of the warrior she was previously...
When Sandru begins laughing it feels as though she is taking a spear to the ribs. She knew the sound only vaguely. There was not much cause for celebration in her homeland, a successful hunt, or raid, or the successful culling of a new thrall to one's will or fists.
That is your way, was your way, she reminds herself, not theirs. Sandru's caravan traveled with animals, for milk and companionship, not to slaughter and feed dozens for a night, or two, only to hunger again in three. Mercenaries, raiders, never had the skill for long term planning. With Maens and his jarls, honor predominated, but then I no longer have a place among them...
Lisabett rises intending to excuse herself from this very awkward and public scene. She is more than capable of finding a place to herself outside the city with her companions. She pauses for a moment, wondering if she should speak to Sandru before she leaves and hears the young dark woman, Ameiko Sandru had named her, mention that the goblins have begun attacking the sky. Odd, she muses, I had not thought that goblins were in possession of such powerful magics.
"Mistress, I am a stranger to these lands, and a simple warrior besides. Might you explain how goblins have come to possess the ability to attack the sky?" she inquires, her careful, though heavily accented voice emphasizing her incredulity at the notion.
Koya, finally back. Raziel's thoughts were rushed and confused. That she had left town before her mother's funeral, that she had gone without a word, that she had maybe left him here and gone off on her journey without him...
Skidding to a halt midstride, he realized that running off to see her wasn't how things should be done. He let the sun wash over him for a minute, basking his Lady's light, before returning to his small room to gather the items Niska had left for Koya.
Walking to the Rusty Dragon was hard, since Raziel had to refrain from breaking into a run at least twice. Finally entering the inn, his eyes adjusting to the interior. The odd grouping of Sorin, Ameiko, Sandru, and tall, barbaric looking woman caught his attention. Pausing at the door, he wondered at the woman's comment, and concluded that he had missed a goodly part of the conversation.
Then Raziel's eyes spotted Koya at her table, and he made his way over to her.
"Koya.., he began. Half a dozen thoughts dashed through his mind, reflected in his face, before he settled on one and spoke again. "How...how was your journey?"
Having watched the object of his affections struggle to teach Sorin Tien, Alezandaru was feeling rather irritable. He had learnt her native language many months ago and was now considered to be fluent with it, but alas it had failed to impress her. As Sandru made his entrance the young Sczarni operator nodded respectfully to him, but kept his distance. Sandru had little if anything to do with his employment, but his association with the criminal underworld was based almost solely around his surname. Instead, the young man walked casually over to Sorin, leaning over his shoulder and looking at his progress, ale in hand. With no introduction he critiscized-
These four letters are wrong- you must always consider the context of who you are talking to when writing speech. How are you faring this day anyway Sorin? Keeping yourself busy?
"Raziel." Koya's face has signs of new wrinkles. For all the warmth of her smile, she wears a tired expression but for her hazel eyes, which are as keen as ever. "You are flustered, and so you ask a question to which you already know the answer. I am pleased to be returned to Sandpoint, but the road is ever more welcoming. Not by any fault of yours, though. It is good to see you."
"Strangers are welcome under my roof." Ameiko gazes at Lisabett. "The goblins cannot actually harm the sky or they would try more readily. What they can do is play with fire. They have found devices that allow them to do so readily. Fireworks, if my suspicions serve me. I have heard of them, but never seen them before the last few weeks. They are of Tian make, which is particularly odd. I thought I was the only thing of Tian make in the Sandpoint hinterlands." She smiles, but there is severity in her voice. "Fireworks are for celebration. They make use of flashes of colored light...of smoke and fire, to awe those that see them. But the goblins aim them at passing caravans. The last one they hit became a conflagration, and a girl of five licked by its flames will now wear burns for the rest of her years."
Lisabett pales at the mention of a girl burned, and inclines her head woefully. Her golden hair, wild as ever, falls in front of her own scarred face, and she pushes them away with a large, scarred hand. Not every scar is dishonorable, she reminds herself gently. She very much wished to know the name and location of this girl, so that she might teach her the value of them. It is a curious impulse, she recognizes, as she is an outsider here.
"Tian make," the word seems to tumble from the tip of her tongues and spills out her lips. "My people have a healthy respect for fire. We are of ice and snow and darkness, and know little warmth."
Lisabett spares a cautious glance at Sandru, the first of the evening. They have not shared many words beyond her laughable attempts to communicate in the smatterings of Varisian she picked up from the children of his caravan. Lisabett wondered how he thought of her at all, large and scarred as she was, if he thought her previous silences suggested that she were simple. She colors slightly, and quickly averts her eyes.
"If these... fireworks? are as rare as you, Lady, how is it they came to be here? I have... considered your terms, and they give the impression that you have no knowledge of their construction, and I have also noted your abhorrence of their particular employment."
Any character that is paying attention to the conversation between the Ulfen woman and Ameiko sees that Lisabett is indeed large, taller than most men, with broad shoulders hung with savage furs clasped with a simple silver chain. The neck of her dress shows a fine smattering of knotwork tattoos of varying quality, some laying over scars, others bisected by them. Her face, too, is scared, one particularly deep slice running across her left cheek beneath her eye, and another smaller, and older scar like a claw mark bisecting her right eyebrow. Her appearance gives every indication that she is as she says, a warrior. She is not overtly masculine, however, any passable glance at the figure beneath the heavy furs can see that it is curved, and in a certain light could be considered attractive, if you are into warrior type gals. Finally, a shock of white blonde hair of varying lengths has been pulled into a thick braid that lays across her right shoulder and hangs to her middriff, but the lengths seem to be quite wild, as though her hair has been cut several times in battle and she has not the time or skill, or even attention to detail to deal with the mess.
Raziel reddens slightly at Koya's comment.
"You left so soon... I was not sure that you were going to return," Raziel continues. Unspoken is the thought that he was left behind.
"There were a few things that... Father Zantus thought that you should have." He hands over a small package, wrapped in a bright scarf. "I've kept the house as clean as I could..." His words trail off into silence.
"Welcome back, Koya," he finally says.
"I am sorry if I worried you, Raziel. I honor my mother's memory in a different way and the open road was my place of mourning." Koya reaches out to take the priest's hand, leaving be the bundle of items. "It means much to me that you have cared for the house in my absence, and I am glad of your welcome."
Across the room, Ameiko shrugs. "I have no idea how they came to be here or how goblins, of all creatures, could have laid their hands upon them."
Sandru had noticed Lisabett's momentary glance. His eyes have not gone from her since. "What is being done about this?" he says, still focused on the Ulfen woman.
"A bounty." Ameiko responds, brushing her shock of white hair from her face. "The first in years."
Skald"Enough!"/Skald Lisabett snarls and rises, displacing her chair when she does. "I will have no more blood money. You tell me that women and children suffer on account of these beasts, I will join any effort organized to combat them," Lisabett announces. She looks to Ameiko. "Lady, would you direct me to the home of this girl who was burned? As you may have noticed, I have extensive experience with scars."
Exuding confidence otherwise unknown to her, Lisabett does not color although she has achieved Sandru's attention. "I apologize if have spoken out of place, Captain. It has never been my intent to usurp authority from them who hold greater responsibilities than myself," Lisabett says, and inclines her head in a sketch of a salute.
Neither Ameiko nor Sandru flinch at Lisabett's abruptness. It is Sandru who speaks first. "I hold no more authority over you, Lisabett. You and your comrades have proven your loyalty. You are not my prisoners, though if you wish to accompany me when I set out again, you are welcome to."
"The child." Ameiko interjects. "She is not from Sandpoint, but a wanderer, along with her mother. As I understand it, they have been at the cathedral, under the care of some of its clergy."
"As for your desire to bring justice to the goblins, that is good." Ameiko continues. "That you do it out of compassion instead of greed is even better, though do not begrudge others for seeking some compensation. It is deadly business, and brave as you are, you should not undertake it alone."
"Of course not, Lady. I am more than passing familiar with mercenaries," Lisabett answers. She unties the stay of her purse and places it on the table. "For the interruption," she says. "Or any who has not coin enough to spare to eat," she adds after a moment,and draws the quiver of javelins up around her shoulder. "Me and mine have the way of feeding ourselves. My thanks for the information."
Lisabett looks to Koya for a moment, then briefly to Sandru and affords him a slight smile. "If it is Desna's will that we meet again, I may follow you," Lisabett allows in a soft voice, and blushes again. Would that she might, Lisabett secretly wishes, but does not actively communicate. "I believe She has made a place for me elsewhere, meanwhile."
Sorin tries to keep up with the growing chain of events and conversations suddenly taking place. He sees Raziel come in but barely has time to think on it when he hears Alazandaru's voice beside him.
"Oh, hello Alazandaru, I didn't see you come in." He glances blankly down at the Tian papers but his scattered thoughts refuse to refocus on the intricacies of the Tian language. "I've been well though not very busy. I've been thinking of selling the old house. Five of us used to live there and now, with father passing two years ago, it's just me; I don't need all that space."
Sorin turns to Ameiko. "A a group has been missing for three days? You should have said so earlier, Ameiko, I would have gladly investigated or helped to do so...you know you have only to ask." Missing for three days while searching for goblins...that bodes poorly.
He then turns to Sandru and the Ulfens. "I apologise. I seem to have abandoned my manners tonight. Welcome home Sandru. I also have not met your companions before; I believe introductions are in order." Turning to the Ulfens Sorin bows deeply, "Sorin Nicusor, servant of Shelyn, at your service."
As each person is introduced, Sorin will bow again. When Lisabett is introduced. Sorin will bow and, without thinking about it, take her hand and lightly kiss it.
"Lisabett," she introduces herself when her turn comes, inclining her head in a salute. Among her people, names are earned, not given, and she lost the right to speak hers quite some years ago.
Lisabett blanches like a apple when the strange man bows over her hand and kisses her. She looks to Sandru desperately, and quickly reclaims her hand, effectively resisting the urge to rub the kissed spot.
A warrior is not to be deterred by such a strange gesture, she derides herself, and settles her eyes on the young man, instantly guilty that she would look elsewhere at all. Lisabett did find it curious that the men of the south did not seem to favor beards. She had often wondered if men had lips at all beneath the hair that gave the impression of keeping their faces from freezing in the winter.
"Is Shelyn a very powerful lord, to afford you such heavy armor?" she wonders. "How many jarls has he that he has no need of your blade?"
Sorin continues smiling despite Lisabett's reaction to the kiss. Use you wits. Sorin berates himself mentally. These people are clearly strangers to this place and you might have given offence.
Sorin is momentarily taken aback by her question but then laughs merrily. "No, Shelyn is not my lord. I serve no lord in the way you mean." His eyes shift, ever so briefly, to Ameiko. "Sheyln is my goddess.
Sorin pauses a moment before continuing. "You seem a little ill at ease. That is understandable if you're in a place where the ways of people are not your own. Please take no offence at what is said and done here for it is not meant as such. Many in this room are old and dear friends. Should you stay, I hope you all will become such as well." He then makes an attempt at a dazzling smile.
Lisabett appears even more flustered. "The misunderstanding is mine. I..." she pauses and swallows. "I observed the children at play and found that their use of the language was easiest for me to decipher. I did not think to observe social norms, bound as-" Lisabett arrests herself.
"My people are raiders. It is not often that we settle, and rarely do our villages achieve this level of sophistication," she presses her lips together. Lisabett did not wish to recall her last wintering.
"I have placed my faith in Desna, and will walk the path She has lit for me," Lisabett affords Sorin another salute. "If you are among those who would combat these creatures the Lady Ameiko speaks of, I am certain She will allow us to meet again. For myself, however, I wish to return to the cathedral and speak to this child and her mother. I believe that it is the path that I am meant to take at this time."
Sandru smiles at Sorin's welcome. "Do not apologize, Sorin. I gave you not greeting either. I hope you will forgive my poor manners."
Ameiko watches the exchange between Sorin and Lisabett, a half-smile on her lips. "I just heard the news about the original party this very morning, Sorin. I am sorry I was not forthcoming. It is a dangerous undertaking, but you are brave and capable. If you are sure..." She puts a hand on Sorin's shoulder.
After a moment, she turns to Lisabett. "Whether or not you seek payment, check with Sheriff Hemlock before you charge off to Brinestump Marsh. His information will be valuable." Ameiko picks up the purse on the table. "But as to this: if interruption carried a fine, I would be mired in debt. I won't take your money unless you're buying a drink, and if you drink the worth of the coin in here, I'm afraid I can't sit idly by and let you hunt goblins. I mean no insult, but tithe it to the cathedral if you're looking to get rid of it."
"I do not have the easiest way with mead," Lisabett demurs with a smile that shows dimples in her scarred cheeks. "But Large Ulrick has no such qualms," she jests lightly and recovers the purse. I will not taint the symbol that is Her church with wicked gains. Lisabett's smile persists however, and she touches a tattoo that graces what is visible of her collar bone, "As you might tell," she continues, leaning forward so the smaller woman can examine where the details were blurred. Or rather, Ulrick had started while inebriated, and then-
"Thank you for the referral, Lady. I will speak to this... sheriff? Perhaps he might find a place for my companions."
Lisabett looks to Sorin. "If it is your intent to pursue these creatures, please do think of me in the future," she concludes, then excuses herself politely with the intent of returning to the cathedral to seek out the burned girl and her mother.
Listening to the comments from the others (and they do not seem to be the quiet sort), Raziel appologises to Koya, "Sorry to leave you so soon, but it looks like I should, ah... escort the ...lady. I'll be back to speak to you soon, I promise."
Raziel stands up, and with a polite bow to those still there, he hurries out the door, chasing after Lisabett.
"Miss... Miss Lisabett!" he calls out after her, jogging down the street after her.
"I am brother Raziel Holhiem, priest of Sarenrae, and I have been tending the child that you seek and her mother. If you would permit me, I would take you to them."
His thought continued in his head, And make sure you do not frighten the child.
I hope the fact that I seem to be posting at a different time than everyone else doesn't slow things down too much.
No problem at all, Raziel
Koya bows to Raziel. "Please, I understand. But perhaps I shall seek you soon."
Ameiko bows to Lisabett. "You are welcome, Lisabett. I am moved by your passion and pleased by your acquaintance. Good luck."
Sandru gazes after the Ulfen as she goes.
Lisabett turns when she hears her name called by another, and seeing him hurrying to catch up to her, slows and waits, as is only polite to.
"Brother Holheim?" she repeats, her mouth and musical voice struggling with the strange syllables. Her blue eyes seem to smile. "Ah! We appear to have missed each other at the cathedral earlier. And yes, I would welcome a guide," Lisabett looks about her, appearing ill at ease in Sandpoint in general.
"Sarenrae?" the name seems wrong, and the attempt almost childish. "What manner of goddess is She? And this Shelyn? Pardon my curiosity, but my people pray to Gorum concerning our occupations, Erastil and Torag when we take to shelter in the winter, and that Desna in her wisdom might entertain our sleeping hours, but not give us too much to hope for.
"Know you this sheriff? Is he a lord in these lands?"
"Sarenrae is the Dawnflower, goddess of the sun." Raziel gestures upward. "Her light guides us, and shows us the correct path," he continues, at ease to be teaching about the gods (something that he has done before).
"Shelyn is the goddess of beauty and arts. Her story with her half-brother trying to redeem him inspires mortals to persevere in adverse circumstances."
"Erastil and Gozreh, Desna and Abadar, these six have shrines in the cathedral. I believe that a shrine to Irori also is in town."
"Yes, I know sheriff Hemlock. He's in charge of keeping the peace here in Sandpoint, but he's not a lord." Raziel smiles a bit, wondering what Lisabett would concider a 'lord'.
"If you mean a noble, that would be Mayor Deverin, I guess. She heads the government, such as it is, here in Sandpoint. She, the Valdemars, the Scarnetti, and Lady Ameiko back at the bar would be the local 'lords'. There might be some others that live in Magnamar, but they usually don't come here."
"Sarenrae is of the spheres?" Lisabett says excitedly. "The sun is very important to our farming folk, and your Lady blesses them all through the summer. Erastil, who is lord of the hunt is easier to identify with for the simple folk," Lisabett says, and blushes.
"I am unfamiliar with these titles," she admits sheepishly. "Among my people, one distinguishes him or herself as a lord by being strong, not just in his arms, but in his mind and in command. He acquires honor and wealth in battle, and other men join and pledge their allegiance to him," Lisabett's song-like accent becomes slightly thicker as she explains her vision of nobility, then arrests herself as she appears to recognize that her hard won concentration is slipping away from her.
Men of honor like my father, and uncles, she recalls, men who will have no more of me.
"Such a figure is called a jarl, and his companions are called thanes. We know no kings, or inherited titles, although I believe that the greatest comparison is to your lord," Lisabett continues. "It does not surprise me that the Lady Ameiko is no ordinary woman. Proprietors of mead halls are central figures in my lands as well. They... they assure peace among us during the winter months," Lisabett's voice trails.
Lisabett's eyes narrow slightly, and a leg of the walk to the cathedral passes in silence before she speaks again. "Pardon, I became lost in my thoughts. You mentioned that you cared for the girl and her mother. What might you tell me about them? I will be guided by you, of course, as their attendant," she adds almost immediately.
"Jarls and thanes, eh? Seems odd to me," Raziel answers. "But Lady Ameiko, she's not noble because she owns her inn. Her father passed on a few years ago, and she being the only heir to the Kaijitsu name. She possesses a fine house and the glassworks, but seems to be happiest running her inn and listening to adventurers. I've heard that... but that all gossip, and you'll not be interested in that."
Raziel grows softer spoken when discussing the child and mother.
"The girl, Minhzeri, has not spoken since I have met her, and her mother, Kasha, has not said much beyond their names. I fear that the terrors of the attack are still oppressing them and casting a dark shadow on their lives." Raziel seems momentarily sadden by their fate, then looks at Lisabett with the slightest hint of steel in his eyes. "I feel you mean to help, but if they are further frightened by you, I'll ask you to leave."
Lisabett reacts physically as if struck, and stops. "Of course," she says softly, and studies her hands. These hands have known so much blood. These scars and marks, while not unknown in my lands, are wholly uncommon here.
After a few moments of silence she addresses the priest again. "I had not considered that my appearance might frighten a child. Perhaps it is best if you point me in the direction of this sheriff?" she suggests.
"Your pardon, Ma'am," Raziel appologises. "I did not mean to change your mind about the child! You may have more success than I in reclaiming her smile."
"But if you wish to speak with the sheriff first, it would not be out of our way." Raziel gestures up ahead, where the road rises to reach the upper portion of Sandpoint.
"See, on the right hand side is the Cathedral, and the large building on the left is the Garrison, where we will find Sheriff Hemlock, or at least news of him. And the large building in the center is the Town Hall."
We would be walking up Main Street, facing north, on the map of Sandpoint (for those who care).
"No apology is necessary, Brother. I understand that your intent is to aide the girl's recovery. Having recently traveled with a varied group, I had forgotten what impression my size and ways might leave with one who is not used to such," Lisabett answers, managing a soft smile. She gestures in the direction of the cathedral, "Please, if I could be of any help to you," she says.
Lisabett glances over her shoulders at the heavy furs and instruments of war strapped to her back. "Do you know of a place where I might store my kit before we speak?" she asks. "A child traumatized by battle will not take kindly to them.
"I have not a trained voice, but my people are known for their love of singing. I have noticed that the traveling people enjoy songs as well. Have you any success in using music as a method of reaching the girl?"
Lisabett and Raziel
The sun breaks from the clouds as you reach the Sandpoint Cathedral. The impressive spire is lost in the glare. You step into a long shadow as you come to the building's heavy doors, however, and spy Father Abstalar Zantus sitting in the shade with a book in hand. He looks up as you approach.
"Brother Holheim. You return, but Koya Mvashti is not with you. A shame. I had hoped to speak with her. It seems, though, that you have made a new acquaintance."
Alazandaru and Sorin
"I like her." Ameiko says, a moment after Lisabett and Raziel have departed. She pours a mug of beer.
"Do you?" Sandru asks. "You did not even introduce yourself."
"Did I not?" Ameiko chuckles. "I shall do so at the next opportunity. But your legs must be as tired as your wit. Sit." She thrusts the mug at him. Amber liquid splashes his leather tunic. "Drink."
Sorin watches as Lisabett and Raziel leave.
"The northerners do not seem like normal travellers. How did they come to be in your company, Shandru?"
Turning to Ameiko, "As for the missing party and the goblins, it isn't even a question; just tell me when and I'll be ready. I do feel as if I've missed half a story however. Who are the mother and child the others spoke of? Did someone say they were burned?"
Alazandaru and Sorin
Sandru takes the mug from Ameiko and gulps from it. He wipes it from his beard with a dirty sleeve. "Mercenaries that surrendered to us, if you'd believe it. I thought it some trick at first, yet we came under no attack from their band. The four of them aided us during the goblin ambush, and so have proven their loyalty. The others fear Lisabett, and though I find her formidable as any man, it has nevertheless been my curiosity why. There are none better suited to travel to Brinestump Marsh, in my estimation, though I would that she had assistance."
"If you are to take this on, Sorin, I have nothing more to tell you but to be cautious. I would not have you disappear as well." The frivolity disappears from Ameiko's voice as quickly as it surfaced. "Sheriff Hemlock will have your details, though I suggest you inquire soon before Lisabett walks south alone."
"You have a moment then, child, for she made intention to seek the mother and daughter you ask after." Nobody noticed Koya Mvashti stand, but she commands the room with her words.
"Yes." Ameiko says. "They were burned badly in a goblin attack, the young girl in particular."
"And I will seek them myself." Koya responds. "But that is a task for an old woman and not one filled with strength and youth as you are, Sorin Nicusor. Assemble your allies quickly, if you mean to go."
"Brother Holheim. You return, but Koya Mvashti is not with you. A shame. I had hoped to speak with her. It seems, though, that you have made a new acquaintance."
"I am called Lisabett," she supplies, inclining her head in a salute. "We met earlier, but were not properly introduced. Were we informed of your intent to see Koya, I might have been able to persuade her."
Lisabett pauses and takes a deep breath. "I believe it was my eagerness that blinded me. The Lady Ameiko informed me of the burned girl, Brother Holheim calls her Minhzeri. I thought, since I have experience with scarring, I might be of some assistance," she suggests, pulling her blonde hair back from her scarred face. Lisabett hoists the quiver of javelins on her shoulder, and grips her spear tighter. "Is there an area where I might lay my kit before I see this girl? Brother Holheim has suggested that my warlike ways may frighten them, and I do not wish to."
"My thanks, Brother," Lisabett replies, and bows to both priests as a gesture of respect. "Please excuse me, you must have some business together," she adds, and moves towards the door.
Disarming gives every appearance of being a ritual for Lisabett. After casting a wary glance at the door to discern its path, she picks up her skirts and kneels on the floor. The first of her warlike items to be shed is the quiver of javelins she wears across her back, which she handles as tenderly as a child, sliding the parcel into her arms for a moment to extract a piece of leather from just inside before standing it against the wall for ease of access should they be required. Her spear she draws next, across her knees, and she glides her fingertips across its blade before slipping the leather cap over it to bond it for peace.
Would that I might forever bond it, Lisabett laments as she stands the longspear besides her quiver. Her pack follows shortly, with its straps faced outwards to simply grab and sling over her shoulder without much thought.
Lisabett pauses a moment and idly strokes the furs across her shoulders. The wolves that had foolishly given their lives to craft the large cloak that maintained her life in the most inclement weather deserved no more respect than that function, she reasoned, but laments giving up this last vestige of her self among strangers. She purses her lips and removes the stay of the pin mechanism, and pulls the heavy cloak over her shoulder and into her lap, folds it several times and then deposits it on the ground in front of the backpack.
Bereft of her military kit, and the bulky furs that confuse her image, when Lisabett rises and approaches the two priests, her simple dress betrays a wholly feminine figure. Though she is taller than most men, and large besides, she is not ill proportioned, and it could stand to reason that among her own people, she might be considered attractive.
"Are there any other adjustments I have neglected to make, Brother?" Lisabett inquires of Brother Holheim when she returns.
Lisabett and Raziel
"Well met, Lisabett." Father Zantus smiles. He is quiet for a moment. Once Lisabett has stepped inside the door to set aside her arms, he speaks again, gazing out at the blue horizon.
"You need not apologize for her, Brother Holhiem. She is one of Desna's faithful, and her boldness offends neither the Song of the Spheres nor me. Perhaps her directness will be of some benefit to Kasha and Minhzeri, for they would seem to resist our gentler tones. All the same, I would have you there with her. I will remain here. I am sure Koya will make her way up the road before long."
Father Zantus turns as Lisabett reappears, but says nothing.
"No, you should be fine as you are, Lisabett," Raziel replies. "Let me escort you to where they rest."
Raziel will lead the way through the cathedral to the smaller rooms in the back. He indicates a door to Lisabett, then taps gently upon it.
"Ma'am Kasha, Minhzeri, may I enter? I have a friend who wishes to speak with you..."
Hearing a faint approval, he allows Lisabett to enter first.
Lisabett and Raziel
You open the door to the sparse chamber that has become the refuge of the burned travelers. Kasha sits on the edge of the cot where her daughter lies, her heavily bandaged hand locked with the child's. She looks to be a typical Varisian woman with dusky skin and dark hair. From where you stand, Minhzeri is not easily visible, but you can see that she is decked with gauze from head to foot.
The mother speaks in Varisian. "Who comes?"
Lisabett stands quietly under Father Zantus's scrutiny. Priests such as these, idle in the heat of the day, we unknown to her. Them of Erastil and Torag were constantly at work, hunting, or crafting items that their communities required. They would be eager to advise if their task was not overbearing, but never rarely, unless specifically requested, would they grant a private interview.
It does appear as though he is at liberty, now Lisabett observes, and casts a glance at Brother Holheim, but this setting is hardly private...
Lisabett had come to admire the elder woman, Koya. She displayed the sensibilities of traveling people, moving about her own efficiently, lending harsh criticisms of bad behavior and extolling virtues in the same easy tone. She is one who commands, Lisabett realized when she first met the woman. And one who travels, she muses. No, if there were any who might hear her confession it would be none other than Koya.
But what of her relation to Sandru, and this brother Holheim? Lisabett inhales and holds her breath. For all she had spoken to the captain, he likely believed her a savage capable of frightening children at a glance, as well. What had she gained by her display of passion but a false impression of barbarism?
"Thank you, Brother," Lisabett answers Holheim and follows him through the temple, glad for the diversion from her thoughts.
Observing that Brother Holheim is allowing her to take the lead, Lisabett inclines her head in a salute, and enters the small room.
Varisian"Greetings, Mother," she says gently, and immediately kneels upon the floor to negate the terror her height might pose in the small room. "I am called Lisabett. Do not fear my bad words, I am learning them still. May I sit with you?"/Varisian she says and smiles.
Lisabett looks to the girl who has been burnt and maintains her smile. She continues in Common for Brother Holheim's benefit. "My people sing very special songs for them who have survived battles, to honor their courage and heroism. My own father taught me this one when I received this scar," Lisabett traces the claw like scar running through her eyebrow, "defending a boy from a raider's hound-"
Lisabett's Untrained Perform (Sing) 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (19) + 3 = 22.
Though there are portions of the song which do not translate well from Skald, the lyrics are simple, and tell a story of generations of warriors that have defended the home and hearth from them that would destroy them from without. It is meant to be a song of courage praising the simplest of men who raise arms as defenders, and crediting the efforts of their families.
Lisabett and Raziel
Kasha does not respond to your request to sit, but neither does she try to prevent you from doing so.
When you are nearer to Minhzeri, you notice her green eyes watching you intently. They are not without fear, but as you sing, they fill instead with wonder. The girl sits up as you conclude your song. A tear runs down the mother's face.
Varisian "You have a very strong daughter, Mother," Lisabett congratulates with a smile, and looks to the little girl. "I am Lisabett. I am from very far away, and look different than you, but our people are the same. What is your name?" /Varisian she asks gently.
Lisabett Diplomacy 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (12) + 7 = 19
"Minhzeri? It is a good name," Lisabett answers in the same, focusing her attention on the little girl. "I was taught by my elders that voices are like the music of the spheres above," Lisabett continues, and gestures to the ceiling, indicating the sky, "each one is unique, and lends their sound amid the heavens to entertain Desna and her angels on Her journeys across the sky."
Lisabett hopes that her words convey her intent properly, that she does not pity the girl, but expects her to find her own voice and give praise for all that she retains. However, she is no sage or priestess to make peace among people, she is a warrior.
Koya, Mother, please hurry.
Sorin looks at Ameiko with mock astonishment and indignation.
"Disappear?! Me?!" He cannot feign the pose for long though and quickly breaks into laughter. "Were such an incredulous event to occur, I would simply think of you and find my way home again. But I must see to Raziel and Lisabett."
Without another word, Sorin will take off out the door and run to the temple.
I would like to know if Sorin arrives at the temple in time to hear Lisabett's song. If he does, he will stop and do nothing until she finishes.
Arriving at the temple, Sorin will quickly greet the priests and rush over to Raziel's side. If Lisabett is still with the child, he will do so as quietly as possible. He whispers into Raziel's ear.
"Sandru thinks the Ulfen group is very competent but I would not have them chase after goblins alone. There is also the missing search party to consider; we must hold to the hope that they may yet live. I assume you wish to help. The sheriff has important information but most of my gear is at my house. I can meet you there or wait and accompany you." He pauses "I should have brough Alazandaru with me. I rushed out of the tavern so quickly I forgot."
Raziel motions Sorin to keep his voice down, and steps away from the door so not to disturb those inside.
"I think Lisabett wishes to seek out Sheriff Hemlock afterwards," he whispers to Soren.
"Get Alazandaru, there should be time, and meet us there. I would guess that just rushing off without proper preparation might work for the Ulfens, but we should seek out the Sheriff's information first, and then arm ourselves with the proper gear."
Raziel gives a low chuckle. "I need to don my armor and weapons too before we leave."
Lisabett, Raziel and Sorin
Ameiko's raised eyebrow is the last thing Sorin sees as he ducks out the door of the Rusty Dragon. The cloudy morning has yielded to bright sun, but most of the residents of Sandpoint appear to be indoors. The goblin menace seemed a mere nuisance a week ago, but fear is beginning to set in.
Father Zantus looks up from his book and returns Sorin's greeting with a polite nod, then goes back to reading. As Sorin opens one of the hefty double doors of the cathedral, however, the priest turns again at the sound of lovely singing that comes from within.
Sorin joins Raziel by the door of the smaller chamber. The song continues for several minutes still.