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The child seemed to ease and the woman was pleased despite that the questions returned.

"The stars are not so different throughout the world. I suppose a slave wouldn't get to see many stars. I'm sorry for that. They truly are beautiful." Her voice, though it sounded as enchanting to her as it did before, was now only laced with her magic of tongues and not of enchantment. The shift was subtle, but the other magic was unnecessary if the girl was at ease. Sometimes she was unaware of using her tantalizing tongue. It was something so automatic since trust was key to catching her prey. It was like constantly using her ace-in-the-hole to ensure a lack of suspicion.

"Yes, I have a friend in Cyriel. It's a lovely place, known for the beautiful flowers that grow nearby and work well for healing and other magic. There are good people like the owner of the inn. He's a dear friend of mine and has been since we were both quite young. This is why I know he will treat you and the good sir well. But if you came here to rest, then don't let me interupt. We should sleep and be on our way. Perhaps we can reach Cyriel in time for the early meal while it's nice and fresh. Good night, little one." She rose and shifted her hood and scarf back over her head as she returned to the camp.

2/14/2009 #31
Chasing Skylines

The slip of charm intertwined with the woman's usual voice had retreated.

Flowers? This Cyriel must surely have practitioners of magic if it was able to defy the stable, dry climate of the north. No matter, the intruding woman had left. Muffy made sure the woman was well away before scooting closer to the pond.

A drip of blood was all it took for the pond to serve her purposes. The slave child locked in her mind stayed imprisoned as she realigned herself with the void.

2/14/2009 #32

When the woman returned to their campout, she noticed Thirilight's eyes were open and he was looking up at the expanse of stars. They truly were a sight, speckled around the moon almost yearning to be as dominant, but together they had their own power over people's eyes. She casually took a place beside Thirilight. Just seeing the man made her very aware of the sword hidden across her back beneath her cloak, but she was a professional. She was calm, cool and collected at all times. She had to be.

"It seems your young friend enjoys the water. She may choose to rest there for the evening. And how are you fairing? Will you be prepared for tomorrow's journey?"

2/14/2009 #33

Again, the woman's approach had gone undetected, and this irked Thirilight, though he left his face impassive and body relaxed. The woman irked him further by sitting so close by - he was at a disadvantage lying flat on his back, and it would take precious moments to leap up if she (or anyone else) should attack.

Thirilight levered himself up into a sitting position, the light of the stars tinting his normally grey eyes a glowing silver. He kept his gaze carefully aimed at where her upper chest would be, were she not so heavily cloaked, so as to easily see her every move.

"I will be prepared."

2/14/2009 #34
Chasing Skylines

The gates' hinges creaked open a sliver. Nevertheless, the calm stream of energy did flow. All she had to do was form the conduit.

The pool swirled and turned opaque. There would be one less watering hole by tomorrow for the pesky animals inhabiting these burrows.

She walked back to their make-shift resting camp. Stars glinted past a transparent mist trailing behind.

2/14/2009 . Edited 2/14/2009 #35

The woman smiled and nodded at Thirilight's declaration. "Very good. Then it would be best that we rest. The sun will be up before we know it."

She slid a little farther from Thirilight and laid back, staring up at the sky. It wasn't long before the younger girl returned and the group was settled for the night. When morning rose, the woman offered bread to her companions as a little nourishment before leading them onward to Cyriel where they could get a real meal. She kept to a brisk pace that took them the better part of the two hours she predicted and it was obvious when the town was drawing near. A short distance away were small buildings in a shallow sea of color. Blossoming flowers made the town of Cyriel inviting from a far and the hospitable folk kept it inviting within.

"Beautiful as I said," she mentioned to the girl. "But I'm afraid this is as far as I go. I really must be heading back on my way. Find the inn and tell the inn keeper that Ri-" she paused, frowning, and covered her mouth as she coughed. Curses! She nearly revealed her true name. Why was she so lax? She was a professional! She blamed the irritating man and little girl and her own love for her true name, but it was useless to her now. "Pardon me. Tell the inn keeper that Runida sent you. He will be happy to serve you. Safe journey to you both."

The woman didn't linger long. She turned back the way they had come with her focus set on the shore for a boat that would lead her towards the specified city. She owed her master a certain sword.

2/14/2009 #36

Thirilight caught the slip and made note to watch out for the strange woman, not that that would be easy. He nodded in acknowledgement as the woman bid farewell, looking forward to entering the town and locating the inn. If the townsfolk were as inviting as the town looked, he would be well-supplied and on his way by this time tomorrow.

Before the woman had left his sight, Thirilight began the walk to Cyriel, his long-legged stride devouring the distance in a timely fashion.

2/14/2009 #37
Chasing Skylines

It was revolting. They had clotted buildings together, a multi-pastel colored stain on the canvas of the land. The flowers were repugnant shades, weak reds and shallow blues that served a mockery against the vibrant hues of the lightening sky above. Sunrise accentuated the plains nicely, but for the town it did little. Quaint, yes, but it was all wrong. It disagreed with the true Will.

These hospitable folk were protective, she saw. Wooden palisades shielded their pens and homely farms from wolves human and feral. A wooden, but sturdy, watchtower had been erected on the side of the coarse road that led to the town, where the flowers numbered less.

Muffy trailed after Thirilight's brisk, long-legged pace. However, she made sure to direct her indiscernable follower elsewhere: to the shore.

((Fluffy, really, typos? I have fixed them.))

2/14/2009 . Edited by Kyllorac, 2/14/2009 #38

The inn was easy to locate; it was, by far, the tallest building in the town, its multistoried facade towering over the houses and shops which lined the main street. Nearby the inn, the town square bustled with its folk a-marketing, and Thirilight discerned the acrid smoke that haunted smithies everywhere. Next door the smithy was a farrier whose shop consisted of a shed attached to the town stables. The stalls were barely half-filled, and Thirilight sighed at the high price he would have to pay for a steed.

Thirilight mingled with the shoppers, locating and securing various supplies - a spare change of clothing, a bedroll, a tinderbox, two canteens, tack for a horse, rope, plenty of jerked meat and dried fruit, and a bag with which to carry all his supplies in. Throughout this all, he remained aware of Muffy's trailing presence, and he even considered purchasing a replacement set for the rags she wore before dismissing the idea as a waste of precious resources.

2/14/2009 #39
Chasing Skylines

She trailed after Thirilight for as long as she could, to give the impression of traveling companions. Some of the more desperate, or blind, fellows had taken to leering at her. It had been a bad move sending the specter after Runida.

The thriving town had mud-lined streets, cracked walls, and the smoke was appaling, but tolerable in comparison to the mines. It was rowdier than she was used to. She eyed balefully the assortments of clothes on sale. The colors were even more pallid than the famed flowers.

She turned to Thirilight, who was inspecting the horses with a calculating expression, one hand thumbing a coin. She wondered how he had gotten the native currency. Did Cyriel accept the coin of Valmon as well? Or were there other cities she had yet heard of? There would be much to do. Ah, she cursed sending the spirit off. The slave girl's natural curiosity was gnawing at the restraints.

"Why all the supplies? Are you headed far?"

2/14/2009 #40

Thirilight glanced up from his inspection to look at Muffy while he answered. "I do not know. Someone stole something of value from me, and I intend to track them down and retrieve it. It all depends on how far they have managed to travel since yesterday."

Thirilight turned back to the bay he'd been eying, kneeling down to feel the gelding's legs. They seemed straight and solid, and he could feel no defects in the bone or joints. The bay's temperment was also satisfactory; the horse had barely batted an eye at Thirilight's touch. Yes, this horse would be quite suitable.

2/14/2009 #41
Chasing Skylines

She watched as Thirilight gripped the horse's legs and scrutinized details she must not have seen. She didn't hold horses in high regard. Humans had never had overwhelming success with the animals; for at the end of a bloodshed, they were only extra, faster legs. Easily encumbered legs.

"Are you going to track down the thief with a horse? It shouldn't be too hard; you hardly know who the thief is, do you?" She kept her tone polite, as Thirilight often attempted. Truth was, this was daunting. The brutish, unrefined essence of ambient enchantment would've clashed strongly with the specter; for that matter, it was wearing thin on her patience.

2/14/2009 . Edited 2/14/2009 #42

Thirilight stood and glared down at Muffy. On a chain around his neck dangled a bleeding heart pendant, dislodged from its position beneath his shirt - a charm to ward off mortal wounds. "Hardly, however, I possess other means of tracking them that do not require knowing their identity."

Noticing that his pendant was in plain view, Thirilight tucked it back under his shirt.

2/14/2009 #43
Chasing Skylines

There was a gruesome onion dangling from his neck. It pulsated with energy. Muffy could only wonder what had changed on this world since her last arrival.

Thirilight glanced down and noticed the repulsive pendant, and so crammed it back under his shirt.

"Really? That sounds good. Does it have anything to do with these amulets you have?"

2/14/2009 #44

A flash of shock crossed Thirilight's face before he quickly concealed it. "Yes," he replied, "but how did you know I possessed amulets?"

2/14/2009 #45
Chasing Skylines

"You didn't think I wouldn't notice the ear to mouth attachment you used? And the onion you just had." What a colorful range of emotions Thirilight's face was capable of, or at least, the ones that showed before being shrugged off.

2/14/2009 . Edited 2/14/2009 #46

The corners of Thirilight's mouth turned down slightly as one of his eyebrows rose. "Onion?"

2/14/2009 #47
Chasing Skylines

"The onion!" She jabbed at his chest where said onion was.

2/14/2009 #48

Thirilight stepped back a pace and drew out the bleeding heart pendant. "This?"

2/14/2009 #49
Chasing Skylines

"Yes." She nodded at the veined onion. "What does it do? Help the harvest? Or worsen it..."

2/14/2009 #50

Thirilight blinked at Muffy before he started to chuckle. Before long, he was laughing, a slightly hysterical sound, and leaning against the stall for support. The horses shifted uncomfortably at the unexpected noise. By the end of his fit, Thirilight was breathing heavily, his weight entirely supported by the stall.

"I apologize," he said, wiping tears from his eyes. "I do not know what came over me. To answer your questions, it is a bleeding heart, and it protects me from mortal wounds. It has nothing to do at all with harvests."

2/14/2009 . Edited 2/14/2009 #51
Chasing Skylines

She shifted her weight to her left leg, feeling as uneasy as the horses as she regarded the cackling man. By the end of his rupture of laughter, he was breathing heavily from his nose. She didn't know what came over the brown-haired man either.

A bleeding heart? How did he know what one looked like? She had never been one to engage in the severe depravity of her brothers, like tearing out the hearts of man to let them sink their gaze into their own worthless organs. That grisly thing they hailed as the source of love.

"Mortal wounds? You sound important, if there are people who want to hurt you so badly."

2/14/2009 . Edited 2/14/2009 #52

"You could say that," he said, his breathing almost back to normal. Thirilight's eyes narrowed and he quickly straightened, mentally chiding himself for so carelessly letting his guard down.

2/14/2009 #53
Chasing Skylines

Yes, humans are fickle. Such a quick change of --

Why was he glaring at her?

-- emotions.

She scrunched her face, blood slowly bubbling to her cheeks and blotching her ears. The world blinked black as she sealed her eyes. Another world lay under her eyelids.

2/14/2009 #54

Alarmed by Muffy's sudden change in demeanor (I just knew she was crazy!), Thirilight cautiously asked, "Are you alright?" He reached for a dagger he kept concealed up his right sleeve, just in case.

2/14/2009 #55
Chasing Skylines

The world swiveled, circling, making a jagged path around an unseen circumfrence. One bright flash. Two. Three.

A mountain uprooted? Lightning boiling the sea. Flash.

It ended. All black. The void opening again. And so come once again, did they.

Who was they?

The outside world was a blank canvas, compared to this garish mural. That she would repaint?

Yes, she would. They both would. He was wrong. August and his talk of Him are false, child.

Yes, it is.

2/14/2009 #56

Muffy did not move, and neither did Thirilight. The pair stood motionless for a long moment before a corner of Thirilight's mind snidely informed him that he looked ridiculous staring down a waif of a girl, and one with her eyes closed, at that! Still maintaining his distance and keeping his hand poised near the dagger, Thirilight hesitantly called, "Muffy?"

2/14/2009 #57
Chasing Skylines

"Yes?" She opened her eyes. "What else are you buying? Can I help you with tracking down this thief?"

Power. All this different power. The liquid enchantments that were strewn across Runida's speech. The odd trinkets Thirilight had. The two problems, Thirilight and Runida, had an answer. The thief tied it all together.

2/14/2009 . Edited 2/14/2009 #58

Muffy's sudden shifts in personality were disconcerting, and Thirilight vowed to keep a close eye on the girl. In the meantime, however, as she did not appear to be violent, and as she knew more about the area than he, Thirilight decided that it might be worthwhile for her to continue tagging along. It was a shame that this town did not have maps for sale. "A horse is the last thing I planned on purchasing, though if you intend to help me track down the thief, you will need a new set of clothes."

2/14/2009 #59
Chasing Skylines

"I don't have money, though." She eyed her distasteful rags.

2/14/2009 #60
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