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Author Topic: chasing sunbeams  (Read 2197 times)


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chasing sunbeams
« on: July 01, 2015, 01:14:00 AM »

Setting: Outside Ithilien, Late Night/Early Morning

It was a practice in folly, a double-edged dagger in both bravery and recklessness. To prevent a situation turning from short summary to lengthy exposition, it was not the safest of times in this Age to be out and about alone and unescorted, be you man or woman, and the land reflected it as such. Beautiful, rippling plains that, while no comparison to Rohan, shown in the dawn and silver in the moonlight, and inspired the stories taught to children of the lands that surrounded Ithilien, the place in which her current sojourn for her business had taken her. Well, to Ithilien, at any rate. Where she was now, apart from the city, in the evening, was Sefaedra's own choosing. A completely irrational thing, to prefer the cold and open air at such a time-- but to the mind of the Dunedain, perfectly logical.

 And yet to the perceptive eye were they scarred too, these fields, pitted here and there with the remnants of skirmishes fought and fires long burnt out, a precursor if one travelled further west again to the rocky bareness that was the road to Mordor.

The bay colt now cropping grass nearby had spooked wildly on the meandering run that had led them to where they rested now, with Sefaedra (glad, in hindsight, that she’d chosen to journey upon her old, reliable drafty rather than her usual half-enjoyment, half-learning session that was riding the still young Eiritóir) discovering that what she had thought was simple high spirits was, in fact, Eiritóir’s discovery of an equine cannon bone, not quite bleached entirely from exposure yet. She’d tucked it away in her knapsack once Chase (as she so endearingly alone called him for one of his many personality quirks, derived though it was from the Westron conception of his full name – Sunchaser) had stopped blowing and jumping about and actually had a good smell of it, saying a quiet prayer of thanks and forgiveness to Béma for the care of the deceased’s spirit and for the usefulness the bone would provide before moving on, for by that point, even placid Cloud had begun to shift uneasily.

One might say that the finding of the bone was an ill omen, a sign that to venture from the safety of walls was to play dice and cards with Fate. Her cousin would certainly say as much, and pester her with his worrying relentlessly if he were there – loving, chronically worried man lest he was with his horses that he was, all a confusing mixture of Gondorian preference for protecting walls and Rohirric superstition. And Sefaedra knew he meant well, even if the pragmatic part of her (the Dunedain in her soul and blood, perhaps?) cast oft. a cynical eye on those fancies; he always meant well, for it had been his well-meaning insight that had sent her away to safety more than once, before any higher authority had contemplated doing so. She was grateful to him for his devotion now…even if it left her in a kind of anguish for the manner in which she was more unaware than she would like of the goings on in the world as a whole, in particular, Rohan. Sefaedra had long come to love the glimmering walls of the White City in the late afternoons, the turn of the flowery vales in Lossarnarch, and the sheer beauty now that was Ithilien in the late night, but she had been born of the Mark, and it ran strong in her.

And that was partly why, in the end, she had ventured from her lodgings in the predawn-light. She was restless. The heavy rains that had confined them all to the indoors for several days past and prevented her from making back for Lossarnarch with her goods had only made the skittishness all the worse, and Sefaedra had decided that once it had stopped and she had apologised to whomever had suffered her cavin fever, that she would venture out--cometh hell or high water. If nothing else, the horses needed desperately to stretch their legs. Especially Eiritoir, ball of high spirits and energy that only the young could be. Sefaedra could sympathise with that still, even if the years that had gone by and the losses to be found among them occasionally made her feel terribly old.

The clouds still dwelt above the plains, heavy in the far east with the promise of yet another storm later in the day. For the moment, though, they turned above a lighter pearly silver and grey – there was even, occasionally, a sliver of deep blue and starlight to be found among them. The grasses rustled damp but not unpleasant in the lukewarm breeze.

Rather like a small sliver of hope, really, Sefaedra reflected idly, before exhaling softly in a huff of irony at the maudlin thought. But it certainly was worth the escape into the outdoors regardless of any such threat, if only because it did clear the mind, and rid the body of the skittishness that her father had often liked to call as releasing the butterflies…though the term tended to be applied more liberally to his observations of his mounts, the manner in which they often would, when nervous or spooked or just plain energetic, exhale loudly and gustily when they calmed…releasing the butterflies indeed.

Sefaedra missed her father immensely, and that was a thought indeed to sigh over. So the normally cheerful woman did exactly that, shifting her arms underneath her head and the leg that had been resting loosely over Cloud’s shoulder to cross over the other ankle resting upon his neck, grateful for the warmth of the broad back on which she lay. It was horribly unladylike a situation to be caught in, lying back and sky-gazing on your horse’s back in the open air, but then again, she’d long ago given up any attempt to behave in the manner of the ladies of the court. Body more like a boy’s, hair she stubbornly refused to grow long tousling in her face, and hands that had, since the passing of her husband, grown more than ever into that odd mixture of softness and calluses – trademark of leather maker and saddler. She even had the gritty scar on her left hand of the horseman who had once held the rope too tight about his hands when faced with a rearing, plunging horse, rather than let go – the texture that only rope burn could leave wound around the hand…no, the concept of lady-like appearance was something of a moot point for her. What did it matter anyway? Widowed and working (and childless, she thought painfully) as she had been these several years past, not even beauty and sorrow could make such things up in the eyes of another. Had been another man’s, though faithfully, and one doubted even the late Lady of Meduseld herself, epitome of sorrowful beauty, would make up for that.

“…you’re right, I’m getting maudlin again,” she chuckled when Cloud stamped a plate-sized hoof into the damp earth under them, slapping his rump with good-natured grumpiness in response. That elicited a snort and a head-shake, which might have made Sefa laugh had the snort not been echoed in a way by Eiri in a manner that made the little blonde woman feel slightly sick. It was the harsh, blowing noise of a horse startled to suspicion and subsequently into flight, and Sefaedra scrambled to a sitting position fast enough to near tip off Cloud’s back, grappling for the knife kept in the saddlebags slung over wide draft horse shoulders, for all the good it might end up doing.

And promptly cursed too, long and lengthy and hissed fluently in Rohirric (though the tone left no doubt as to what was issuing from her mouth), when the blasted blade tipped from her packs and onto the grass underfoot – completely unhelpful and out of reach from a normal-sized horse, let alone the behemoth that was the now the restlessly shifting Cloud, ears pinned towards the middle distance to whatever perceived threat had sent Eiri careening back from his explorations. Fat help the colt was, too; she might have tried to use his need to gnaw on everything to get her knife back without dismounting, but he’d decided to play the coward for once, and had pressed himself as closely behind Cloud’s flank as was possible.

“What kind of son of Bema are you, you great bloody chicken?” she groused, giving the lost knife another desperate look before turning her attention more fully to the landscape, fingers seeking to grab Eiri just long enough that she could take the pole from his back. Seeking what had scared him, contemplating wisely flight instead of a likely failed attempt at fight, and praying upon prayers that whatever had scared the colt was not half the threat his reaction had perceived it to be.

'nothing's perfect. the world is far, far from perfect. but it's a constant,
and it's there trying for us. and that's what makes it so damn beautiful.'


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chasing sunbeams
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2015, 10:56:00 PM »
This area was called Ithilien, and Eskr had shaped the name more often with a quill than with his mouth. And he had spoken it many more times than visited it. Not once had he ever been pleased to find that a caravan he was travelling with was planning to detour that way – the area was almost eerily empty, inhabited only by scattered scouts and brave or foolish farmers (and the rumoured occasional band of orcs further east). And knowing some of the history behind it… Well, it didn’t reassure the scribe in the slightest.

 They had arrived at their destination the day before – not in the settlement itself, unfortunately, the leader of the expedition was the enthusiastically frugal sort – but the scouting company that they were to rendezvous with and sell to had yet to show up, meaning that background noise to muffle the moan of the wind over the plains was sadly lacking. By the time evening fell, Eskr’s layer of apathetic calm was being poked apart from within as an old itch for movement and activity refused to be salved by ink swept across paper. Usually he could ignore anything short of a battle raging outside wherever he had ensconced himself to work, but today he couldn’t manage to completely lose himself in the angled strokes of letters.

 The desire to go outside and move anything more than his arms wasn’t exactly uncommon but it was rarely so strong. Nor so inconvenient, he mused as he made his way to where spare mounts were tied. A low, eager bleat informed him that he wasn’t the only one uneasy with staying so still all day.

 Ellit had gifted him (well, insisted that he buy) the freemartin kid as he had left the Iron Hills more than a decade before, with a breezy promise that this was the lowest price she’d ever offer for one of her  flock (I sell corpses for more, Eskr) and a blunt statement that he would be an idiot to refuse it. Now Frost was far more liberally dusted with white, her curving horns dwarfing the little stubs she had had back then, her shoulders thicker and her steps slower. She was just as eager to shoot off up the nearest mountain or across a flat, though – far more eager than Eskr himself.

 The nanny tugged at her ties and pushed enthusiastically into his hand until he scratched between the ribbed horns. She was no massive war mount, nor had she been trained for it, but the horns looked the part to those who didn’t know any better. The dark, horizontal-slitted eyes were a different story. Eskr tutted. “It’s too late to go for a ride. Almost sunset.”

 A grumble answered. Eskr tilted his head, glancing at the reddening sky.

 It had darkened completely by the time the ride finished, the jumpiness worn out of Frost’s bouncing trot and Eskr’s inked fingers loose on the worn reigns. He didn’t regret tacking up and letting her have her head (see, you big child, outside air won’t actually kill you, came Ellit’s unbidden voice) – it was really rather pleasant out here. Relaxing, if you didn’t think about the proximity to Mordor itself, or how many unseen hollows were folded into the landscape.

 They crested a rise, and several things happened almost on top of each other.

 Frost leapt a few feet almost horizontally, a fraction of a second after the colt that had materialised in the grass shot its head up and snorted in terror. Eskr was last of the three to react, just barely managing to tighten his grip enough to keep his seat as the goat danced along the crest and shook her horns. The colt had struck off in the opposite direction – just a foal, no need to panic, calm down – but it was a long moment before Eskr managed to loosen his muscles to a point where it wouldn’t be considered a deathgrip, and murmur enough Khûzdul to calm Frost down. There was still a wary tautness to her – to both of them, admittedly – but less clear intent to bolt in the direction of higher ground.

 Another sound laced under his low voice. Not the ghostly singing of the wind, not the rustle of vegetation or the beat of hooves. Another voice, or the whispering traces of one, coming from the direction the colt had gone.

 Or else his hearing was going. Entirely possible, at his age and with so many blows to the head waiting to catch up to him.

 Frost had spent a fair amount of time in the care of strangers thanks to being lent to the stables while he remained fairly sedentary in Ered Luin, and trusted them far too easily. It was the mount, and not the rider, who took a half-step in that direction of her own accord. Eskr merely kept her going with a nudge of his knees, trusting in the probability that it was probably a farmer and aware that in that case he should probably make his presence known. Wouldn’t want to be mistaken for a thief or an orc, after all.

 They ascended this rise more cautiously, coming into view in three wary, jumpy steps that were spaced with pauses and focused stares to ascertain the danger, or lack thereof.

 The colt was pressed up next to a gargantuan hunk of flesh whose head Eskr doubted he could reach if he jumped. On its back – tiny in comparison – was a Man, or more accurately a woman of their kin. She appeared to be just as wary as he felt, though how she could be scared if she was in control of that giant was a mystery.

 “We may have startled your colt.” His accent twisted thick through the unsure words, carrying easily on crisp night air. “Sorry about that. No harm was meant.” A smile more polite than genuine pulled at the tattoos on his face, and Frost shifted uneasily. He rubbed knuckles along her neck absently, deciding he couldn’t leave it at that and ride off. Aside from politeness, he was getting genuinely curious as to what she was doing out here.

 Years on years of having to talk to clients had made words easier to summon, but a lot of that was just being more willing to say something and risk it sounding embarrassingly stupid. “It might make me a bit of a hypocrite to ask this, but is it not a wee bit late to be riding?”

((OOC: sjdkfb this took way longer than intended and also somehow became way longer than planned. Hope everything makes sense and works, tell me if it doesn’t, for the record Eskr’s accent is very Scottish indeed, I am excited!))



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chasing sunbeams
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2015, 12:38:00 AM »

Well, that was an interesting sight.

In the dying light, it took Sefaedra a moment to adjust. Not that her eyes were not as keen as any of her kin, but it was difficult, when one was worrying over several things at once, to quite comprehend what had suddenly turned up before them. Certainly not when it was as odd and out of place as this, and for a moment, the woman was half-convinced the bloody goat had spoken to her. Which caused a rare prickle of uneasiness  to trickle down her spine, for she had heard of shape-shifters, and though they were not necessarily evil [save beyond the bounds of which normal Men feared magic], Sefa had no particular desire to meet one when both her means of defence and her escape route had become significantly more difficult to undertake. She lamented, briefly, her almost irrepressible desire for independence, cursed the blood in her veins for it, and wondered as briefly [and with quite an inward groan for thinking of it] how sad some of those would be if she was slain. Or perversely entertained, because she would choose an interesting way to go about it.

Thankfully, Cloud was far less disturbed by the appearance of the curious creature than his younger companion, and it was this which gave Sefa the momentary grounding needed to gather her wits about her. Ignoring with a touch of disdain now her still snorting and blowing colt, she allowed it when the grey grey gelding ambled cautiously closer to the mountain goat and her rider [her? Sefa hoped so. She'd hate to offend the creature], those dinner-plate hooves and their intimidating clomp, clomp, clomp into the grass a direct contrast to the curious, almost gentle way in which the draft horse extended his nose, nostrils working as they took in the scent of and offered up his own to the other beast.

It also afforded Sefa herself a closer look at the arrival, and she was not unpleasantly surprised to put together the traits she saw before her and make the correct deduction as to who, or what, he was. A Dwarf. Not the first she'd seen by far, not with the job she did and the small travelling she'd done, but by far the most curious. Where those scars? No...tattoos. Too well defined to be scars. The thought elicited a smile from Sefa as much as what Eskr said next did, and though it was a mite shaky, her shoulders finally relaxed and some of the usual twinkling humour returned to her eyes.

"It is late, Master Dwarf...and yet here we both are. Though you have caught me out in my own defiant little rebellion -- all bravado and yet with the wits scared quickly out of me when the unknown came before me." The woman chuckled, both easy going and self-deprecating in one.

"I am not overtly fond of being cooped up in a town of any real size, and that is my excuse for being out here so late and perhaps your answer as to why I would do mount such an unconventional expedition. What is your excuse, then? You are certainly less conventional than I in this place."

'nothing's perfect. the world is far, far from perfect. but it's a constant,
and it's there trying for us. and that's what makes it so damn beautiful.'


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Re: chasing sunbeams
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2015, 06:14:48 PM »
 The horse-mountain took a few steps closer, both mounts arching necks towards each other across the considerable distance that remained between them, their level of wariness already far less than that of their riders and still shrinking.
 Dwarf eyes were made for low-light conditions, and the night’s blueish glow suited Eskr fine – in fact, any disadvantage that his vision usually dealt him by his vision was cancelled out when everyone saw more or less in greyscale. All of this added up to mean that he was able to see not just the smile his words elicited but the shakiness at its edges and the contradictory twinkle in the woman’s clear eyes.

The mention of a rebellion made heavy brows lift in curiosity, the easy admittance that he had scared her making him shrug apologetically.

 Every word hastened the fading of that momentary (somewhat shared) fear, though – the rider spoke smoothly, her words chosen well, fitting snug to each other. Spaced and measured. His smile deepened as she spoke, the slightest curve that it began as deepening into something visible and more genuine when she laughed.

 "I am not overtly fond of being cooped up in a town of any real size, and that is my excuse for being out here so late and perhaps your answer as to why I would do mount such an unconventional expedition. What is your excuse, then? You are certainly less conventional than I in this place.”

 “I may be.” He certainly was, and not only for being a dwarf. A short pause gave the wind a moment to sing mournfully across the plains as he chose his next words. “I’m no adventurer; Frost here was tired of all the standing still required of her as of late. And, well. Hers aren’t the only old bones that wished to move, and my work held little distraction for once. You gave me quite the startle as well, by the way. Ill-armed for trouble as I am.” He patted the goat’s neck once more as he mentioned her name and she took it as a signal to move (one which he didn’t contradict), walking down as he continued speaking. By the time he finished, he was craning his neck slightly to maintain eye contact. Frost could probably have dipped her head a little and walked right under the massive horse’s barrel chest. It was unnerving to be even vaguely close to something so large that lived, and thankfully Frost stopped before she was within kicking distance.

 “As to why I find myself in Ithilien, I’m journeying to the Iron Hills and my companions decided to take a detour. Their customers are tardy, so we’ve been delayed.” The flat tone of his voice was more unimpressed than truly annoyed, and he hoped belatedly that she wouldn’t take offence at the displeasure at spending time in what was probably her land. “Eskr, by the way – my name. Son of Ekri. Scribe of paper and skin, at your service.” A nod had to suffice in place of a bow, in a saddle. “Are you from the city, then?”
« Last Edit: October 25, 2015, 06:15:57 PM by Eskr »



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