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» Forest Near Carpatus
Sun Aug 12, 2012 1:40 am by LadyLilliAschuill

» The Cold Wind Rounds
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 Forest Near Carpatus

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PostSubject: Forest Near Carpatus   Sun Jan 10, 2010 7:02 pm

Loki maneuvered the familiar path through the forest as quietly as he could to where he usually met Arianna. It was the place where she procured herbs for her shop. He could see the entire village from this vantage point, and picking out his adoptive daughter from the others was easy even for a dragon as old as he. While he knew she was with child Loki was as concerned as any father would be. Because, as it so happened, he could sense via their bond that his little Ari wasn't feeling her best.

Was there something wrong with the baby?

Was this normal for human child-rearing? He hadn't read of any such thing...

Had she merely caught something from another of her species?

Or was there a human in Ari's midst trying to poison her in an attempt to get her to go back to him?

It was that last notion that had the dragon on pins and needles with distraction, watching every person, creature, or thing that dared get near his daughter's store but forsaking all else. Every interaction he could see was monitored for even the least little bit of peculiarity. Perhaps he was being over-protective and fretting over nothing...

However, it was rather difficult to see everything from this distance. While his eyesight was keen, Loki still had to look around trees and had not the ability to see through man-made walls. The dragon longed to and would have gotten closer, but any further would surely lead him to being spotted if not by the wandering coalitions of slayers than by the townsfolk, who would then call the slayers.

There was only one human Loki knew he could trust. While he cared not for the lives of the other bipedal creatures of Arianna's species, Loki would rather avoid them rather than make a snack of them. Killing without reason was not this dragon's way of things, despite the tales most humans wove about his kind.

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PostSubject: Re: Forest Near Carpatus   Sun Jan 10, 2010 8:39 pm

A group of Dragon slayers treaded lightly through the forest, hunting for none other then a dragon of course. They knew a dragon lived in this part of the woods and rumor had it a human girl had protected him. Throwing there hunters off and sending them in the wrong direction, more often then not knocking the men unconcious. But a certian few slayers in the group felt that that day would be there lucky day.

They would finally find the blood thristy creature, and by gods good graces be rid of it forever... eventually. If they were sucessful in finding said dragon they had a new poison to try on it. It was claimed this poison could render a dragon completely disabled, take away there ablity to breathe anything, from there special lungs that made Fire breathing possible for example, and mess with the creatures keen senses. It had been tested on a young baby dragon once and the results were promising, only the young hatchling had been ill and injured to begin with, they needed an adult, a healthy adult to test their new weapon on.

Then one of the young new slayers spoted a familiar form through the woods and he pointed.

And what a find it was, it appereard to be a full grown male from it's size, how old it was was unclear, but it appared to be in good health.

One slayer motioned for the rest of the group to circle the large creature, to cut off a path of escape. They were in a pretty much heavy forested area, trees and their branches would make it very hard to simply fly away.

Then the slayer took out the poison dipped spear, and seemed like he had a clear shot he through it at the beast hoping his aim was true.

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PostSubject: Re: Forest Near Carpatus   Sun Jan 17, 2010 9:18 pm

All of a sudden, something didn't feel right. Large, slit-pupil eyes narrowed upon the little store Arianna owned. Nothing... Then what was off? Was it something inherently with her, or could he just not see perhaps a hidden attacker?

Pain!

With a roar of anger at the feel of something piercing scale and puncturing the tough skin beneath, Loki swerved to see what had assaulted him. His long tail immediately rose and knocked several of the slayers off their feet, sending them flying a rather great distance. The membranous crest atop his head was standing straight up in alarm, and would prove highly useful spikes in the event anyone got too close to his head. Glaring a steely yellow-orange eye directly at the nearest slayer - the one who was most likely to have thrown the spear - Loki immediately turned to make himself as less of a target as possible. A bellowed insult in the Dragon's Tongue followed before bowing his head in an attempt to rake any foolish enough to stand in the way with the bony crest crowned upon his head.

Teeth gently clutched the spear, and with a grunt of pain Loki managed to pull the thing best described to him as a toothpick out from between his scales. It hurt like hell and bled a fair bit, but it would heal with time and treatment. First, however, he had to get away. The dragon didn't need to glance up to know flying was pretty much out of the question: it would be too difficult. And he was surrounded.

"I do nut nee' a toofpick, fanks," he mocked, spitting the spear out at yet another group of slayers. This was now a self-defense issue, so he cared not about the trio of poor souls that had just been impaled upon the weapon like a shish-kabab.

Loki glanced at the escape route he'd hoped he made, only to find further slayers advancing. A growl from deep within his chest met the sight, followed by what the dragon had intended to be a blanket of ice...

Only to spew a few gallons of water in a relatively weak trickle...

A look of startled shock crossed the reptilian features. His ice lung had never failed him before, and he'd rather only use acid if he absolutely had to... Flight wasn't plausible... It would seem melee was his only 'safe' option out of this situation...

And yet despite his plight, Loki prayed Ari was not in a similar predicament.

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PostSubject: Re: Forest Near Carpatus   Fri Jan 22, 2010 3:50 pm

Despite a few of there fallen conrades the slayer fetl a sense of victory, when the first stages of the poison seemed to be taking effect. Disabling the creatures powerful Elemental lung or lungs depending in the creature.

"He had been infected, quickly ready the chains " one of the slayers hollered. "Rest of you swords out, we should keep him here until the poison fully kicks in"

The Slayer quickly filled in the gaps that had been made there long swords out and a few more of them had spears, none had arrows as they were not strong enough to penitrate the dragons tough skin.

"Don't break the circle! We have got this one !" cheered the leader of them all.

A line of 5 or so slayers took aim from behind, though stood at a further distance behind to avoid the mighty dragons tail.


___
Ari's Store, backroom

Ari was starting to feel better after her days of weakness, though still felt less then steller. She was in the backroom preparing her herbs when she felt something... a sour feeling rose up from deep withing her chest through out her entire body.

Something wasn't right.....

Then her eyes widened as she seemed to immediatly understand what that was.. Her father was posioned... ill, and injured.... the cause as to why made her blood boil...

Slayers.....

She needed to go and help him, she needed to.. if anything happened to her father she wasn't sure what she would do... but one thing she was certain.. her child wouldn't survive the shock should it happen... and likely neither would she.

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PostSubject: Re: Forest Near Carpatus   Sun Apr 25, 2010 11:34 pm

‘Poissson... That explainsss everything...’ Loki thought darkly, allowing an angry growl to erupt from his throat. To the untrained ear, it would sound like a roll of tumultuous thunder, no doubt heard from there to the borders of the Alranian capitol. Green head spikes were stiffly on end, more lethal than ever as his face resembled that of a pufferfish; daring any soul brave enough to try to get near his face. Dragon Slayer Shish-Kebab was his favorite thing to prepare when fighting for his life.

Without proper treatment, the use of acid could do more harm than good. That only left melee and a risky gambit at his disposal. Squinting to attempt to separate where the one line of slayers ended and the other began, Loki lashed out with a taloned forearm in attempt to take a swipe at the slayers nearest his line of sight. “I ssshall die beforrre I willingly allow humansss to take me prrrisssonerrr again!” Loki bellowed, following up with a ferocious roar directed primarily at the head slayer of the group; saliva spraying anyone within a ten foot radius. In further attempt to warn the slayers to leave him alone, Loki’s tail whipped through the air in attempt to throw any slayers he couldn’t see out of his way.

Orange eyes darted about wildly, as no matter which way he looked he saw slayers many men high and in clusters of six or so that looked precisely the same. There weren’t nearly as many here as before! Loki backed up a few dragon-sized paces and shook his head in hopes to be rid of the hallucinations. There couldn’t be that many. He’d managed to kill a good number of them. Why were there so many?!

"Don't break the circle! We have got this one !"

“You’ll have me the day Hell itssself frrreezesss overrr!!!” roared Loki. That said the dragon gave a kind of snort and, with a wince of great pain, sent a shower of acid to one of the groups of slayers, unaware of the ones coming up from behind. His vision blurred with a combination of the poison’s effects and tears in reaction to the scorching sensation now seeming to set his esophagus ablaze.

He was starting to tire... never before had he become so tired so quickly... Yet the dragon fought on to keep from being overcome. Loki was putting up a good fight both against the effects of the poison and against the slayers, but it was all in vain. Black spots popped up before his eyes, further invading his vision. He didn't know which way was up. And so dizzy...

Before Loki knew it everything swirled into the black abyss of unconsciousness, spiny eyelids closing themselves to the rest of the world.

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PostSubject: Re: Forest Near Carpatus   Sat May 01, 2010 11:19 pm

*A few hours later....*

Arianna walked up the main road that led out of town, she had managed to leave notes at Lilli and Ichabods houses with out being seen. She left them to assure them she hadn’t been kidnapped or anything. She knew they would still worry considering her health as of late, but it couldn’t be helped, she needed to get her father out of danger… she needed to… if he died…She shuddered at the thought.. She couldn’t bare to think the loss of her Dragon father and the pain it would bring… she loved him so much. And besides she had debt to repay him.

With her sword strapped on her back and her purse full of herbs she was more less ready to go.

She looked up at the early morning sky as she walked as fast as she was able in her condition, the way to the forest wasn’t far way and she was soon approaching the forest border and the cut off to the highway to led to the cities capital.

She then heard a noise coming from behind her, she turned around and saw a speeding carriage coming right at her. With wide eyes bolted to the side of the road and almost stumbled in to a tree in the process.

“ Oh great bloody Gaia!” she exclaimed as she lent on the tree and lowered her self to the ground so she could calm her racing heart. “Oi.. Was the driver processed to something…” she muttered as she pulled her self up and started her journey into the forest to help she beloved father out of the Slayers merciless hands.

“Hold on father…. They will pay for what they have done to you… whatever they have done..” she muttered to her self, she sword now in her hand ready to use it if she needed. She looked down at her middle… A slight whisper in her mind wishing she wasn’t with a child… but she silenced it quickly. She placed her hand on her swollen middle… “Forgive me for the exertion little one, I promise after this is over I will rest in a comfy bed and eat a healthy breakfast that Ichabod would be proud of” she said with a slight smile on her lips as she thought about the gentle inventor who had taken care of her when she was weak.

She silently hoped her two trusted human friends would understand, she had to do this… she didn’t want them being angry with her… yet would understand if they were, for causing them worry…

Griping her sword Ari trudged on through the forest she had known so well as a child… It looked different now… since she had last been there..

In her thoughts and memories Ari didn’t notice she had dropped a glass vial of hers that had rolled to the side of road on the forest border…

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PostSubject: Re: Forest Near Carpatus   Thu Aug 12, 2010 1:52 pm

* Ichabod’s Residence *
Xanthus, after his first night in Ichabod’s home, had decided to sleep outside from then onward. ‘I live by sleeping outdoors, and it is so warm here... I shall sleep well enough,’ had been his excuse to Ichabod. While they were all true statements, they were merely made so that he wouldn’t have to endure another night of the strange sounds of inventions whirring, buzzing, whining, squeaking, creaking, and every other noise imaginable.

And so this was how the Carakleinian spent his nights amongst the people of Carpatus. Compared to the first, this was much better! Xanthus slept upon a hastily-built hammock between two apple trees on Ichabod’s property. Being the light sleeper that he was, he had sensed someone approaching and heard the footsteps of simple shoes upon wood. Bluish-green eyes opened ever so slightly and watched as Arianna seemed to be leaving a note on Ichabod’s door, then made to head out of town. ‘Strange’ he thought, noticing her head for the forest highway. Belatedly he wondered if she were merely going out to gather herbs, for they would not all be commonly found in easy reach. The sight of a pregnant woman carrying a weapon did not disturb him: most people in his village carried weapons with them wherever they went, including the expectant mothers. Seeing her almost get hit by a carriage, however – that alerted him. For the inventor’s sake he stayed awake long enough to make sure she was not injured.

As Ari continued on her way, seeming just fine, Xanthus drifted back into the realm of dreams without another thought.

** * **

Ichabod rose from his bed and stretched, ready to begin a whole new day. It hadn’t been the most restful night’s sleep, but he felt as refreshed as he could get. Truth be told, he was still worried about Ari since she had fainted despite the fact that she looked and even said she’d been feeling much better. Bleary-eyed, he made his way over to the wash basin and cleaned himself up a bit before donning fresh clothes for the day: a simple white tunic coupled with brown trousers, and brown buckled shoes. They’d once been simple turnshoes, but after a bit of tweaking Ichabod had fashioned them into a slightly fancier variant.

Curious to see whether or not his guest had left for the day, Ichabod went to his door and opened it just enough to poke his head out of it. However, instead of Xanthus, a note upon his door caught and held his full attention. Opening the door wider, Ichabod detached the note and immediately recognized Ari’s handwriting:

Ichabod

Something of utter urgency has come up, I must go and see that it is done. I will be back I promise.. I will be fine... Your care of me the last few days has made what I have to do much easier... for I am not sure I could succeed in my weakened state as it was....

I know what you are thinking.. The baby... know this Ichabod if don't do this.. it won't matter...

I thank you from the deepest depths of my heart

Yours,
Ari


Beneath the name of the woman he adored was a yellow rose. The inventor took keen notice of it, smiling at the sight and scent, though re-read the words of the letter a few times in hopes he’d misunderstood the contents. Being the way he was, he couldn’t help but wonder what was so urgent that Ari would leave for Gaia only knew where and possibly place herself in great danger. In a flurry of panic – the thought of preparing to break fast or do anything else entirely forgotten – Ichabod burst through his doorway and glanced around for Xanthus. Upon spotting the man, he bolted toward him in hopes maybe he had seen something – anything – that would be of help.

What if Ari ran into bandits – or slayers – or slavers – or any other similar sort – while she was out there?
What if the creatures of the wild attacked her?
What if whatever she had gone to do could very well get her killed?!

All of these thoughts – and many others – made Ichabod run faster than he ever thought possible.

“Xanthus!” the inventor panted, practically whispered since he was so out of breath, and reached to shake the man’s shoulder. In an instant Ichabod found himself in a chokehold with a dagger poised to strike somewhere to his left, near the throat. “Ari’s gone missing!” Ichabod gasped, hoping that this information would be enough to stop various scenes from his life flashing before his very eyes.

To Ichabod’s immense relief, Xanthus released him and put away his dagger. “What do you speak of?” the Carakleinian asked.

“She’s gone and I have no idea where! Please tell me, in your time out here, that you saw which direction she went?!” Ichabod explained in a flurry of words and panic, raising his voice ever louder with each passing word.

Xan winced at the volume, though now sat upright upon the hammock. He didn’t understand why Ichabod seemed so high-strung this early in the morning. “She made for the woods, some hours ago,” he answered, gesturing the direction in which the woman had gone. In his state of half-wakefulness and due to Ichabod’s hysterics, the Carakleinian didn’t think it was wise to mention the carriage that had nearly ran Arianna over.

Ichabod looked nearly ready to explode with his panic and worry. In an attempt to calm the man, Xanthus suggested lightly, “Perhaps she left to get herbs. She is the village apothecary, is she not?”

“If she had gone to get herbs, she would not have left this!” Ichabod answered frantically and thrust the note he had been left into Carakleinian hands.

Blue-green eyes scanned the letters, but something was wrong. “I cannot read it...”

Ichabod leaned, curving slightly to see what the problem was for he thought Ari’s handwriting quite legible and neat, then shot Xan a look that clearly indicated the inventor thought he were being mocked. “That is because it is upside-down...”

Xanthus turned the paper around, reserving his irritation for another time. However, his countenance went from neutral to slightly icy to show his own less-than-amicability of the moment. It took him a little longer to read it than Ichabod, for he was not constantly using the Alranian tongue in writing or reading. “It sounds simple enough...”

Ichabod took the note back and sighed in exasperation. “That is the problem! Listen, I know a fair bit about Ari and two of those things are that is she is firstly stubborn, and secondly is more than capable of making a hill out of a mountain! ... I cannot explain it but something tells me she is headed for great danger! We must attempt to follow and make sure she is safe!” Ichabod urged, going so far as to grasp the Carakleinian’s tunic. After saying his piece, and noticing the warning in Xanthus’s eyes, Ichabod released the cloth. “Apologies...”

Xan shook his head to brush off the apology. “Can you wield a weapon?”

“Well, no – I-I mean I don’t know...”

“Meet me by the highway out of town; I must see to a few things first,” Xan stated slowly and clearly, having a feeling Ichabod probably ran from combat rather than faced it head-on. If things were as bad as the inventor predicted, Xan had a feeling that Ichabod would be getting a crash course in the art of battle before the day was through.

“Please hurry,” Ichabod, now as pale as fallen snow, murmured with a nod before taking off to get his horse.

Xanthus donned his armor, made sure his weapons were secured to his belt and back, and awoke his sleeping horse. Toivo snapped to attention and allowed his rider to leap unto his back with cat-like grace.

There was just one thing left for him to do...

At a gallop, Xan made his way to Atwood Manor.

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PostSubject: Re: Forest Near Carpatus   Wed Feb 02, 2011 8:56 pm

(continued from Atwood Manor courtyard)

Lilli was well aware of Xan’s displeasure in her decision to aid in the search for her sister-friend, and as a surprise to even herself, she cared little. This was by no means an impulsive jump at a chance for glory and adventure, lives are possibly at stake and the threat of danger is almost certain. Lilli knew in her heart that her choice was the correct one, whether anyone else agreed with it or not.

“If you are certain you are ready...”

Lilli hesitated only briefly then nodded. She did indeed feel ready, but the feeling of fear and nervousness was still present. She took one last glance behind her towards the house, half expecting her father to have already burst through the door in an attempt to stop her, and then nudged Jasper to follow Xan, keeping nearly the same pace, but hanging back slightly.

As they rode down the path, Lilli drilled herself over and over of what to possibly expect in the mission. For all she knew, Ari could be only a few miles from the village, safe and resting alongside the road. On the other hand…no, Lilli did not let herself imagine the worst, despite the possibility. She had to believe Ari was at least alive, wherever she was. Lilli began to wonder if perhaps she truly knew what she was up against. The possible sight of her dearest friend wounded and/or dead was perhaps more that she could handle. The more she thought about it, the more fearful she became and the more hasty as she briefly rode ahead of Xan before remembering she was relying on him for direction.

Pulling back to ride alongside him, she could still see the expression of disapproval upon his face. At this, she felt a sudden twinge of guilt, knowing she has put him in a terrible position regarding her safety. Despite this, she did not regret her decision and hoped in time he would come to understand it.
“I am sorry for the position that I have put you in. But you must understand mine. I made a promise to Arianna and I am not about to break that because of a chance of danger. I don’t need your approval nor do I desire it….” she paused to study his reaction, though continued. “I…I appreciate all that you have done for me, but we cannot forget that you are but a traveler among us and I have no obligation to you….” She was aware of how stinging her words might be, but she spoke the truth. In reality, she was not bound to him except by a verbal agreement between them to teach her the sword, though she would honor it regardless.

But this was another matter that he had unfortunately been caught up in. She was indeed grateful that he was present and willing to assist, though in retrospect, she wished he didn’t have to be bothered. This wasn’t any of his concern, truthfully. But the fact that he was now volunteering to help stayed within her conscience. Just why would a man traveling through the village agree to a search and rescue on top of already taking time to teach a woman sword skills? He certainly had no obligation to, unless he felt so morally. The only conclusion she could render was what she had come to learn about him over the course of the days. If there was one thing had learned it was that he definitely did not lack morals, in fact, quite the opposite. Also he seemed to have an extreme sense of honor, even if he didn’t always openly show it. Something told her that even though he disapproved of her coming with them, that he on some level honored her decision. The thought alone make her lips crack into a slight smile, though, she now somewhat regretted he harsh words to him.

“I’m sorry…I did not mean that how it sounded…I just….this is just something I must do and cannot afford to let anyone talk me out of it.” She hoped he would not take too much offence in her words. After all, though she may not be aware of it, she was beginning to take quite a liking to him.

As they road towards the edge of the village, the sky began to brighten with the morning sun, but it still lacked its splendor with the looming danger ahead. Lilli could see Ichabod waiting in the distance and even though they were still many yards away, she could see the worry upon his paled face. Lilli’s own insides twinged a bit with the same feeling as she prayed to the gods to aid them in Ari’s swift recovery.

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PostSubject: Re: Forest Near Carpatus   Thu Mar 31, 2011 7:59 pm

Xan noticed Lilli hesitate but said nothing immediately. A vague thought passed through him, hoping that she would not hesitate when or if actual danger showed itself in their journey. When she glanced backward to the Manor, Xan couldn’t help but advocate further haste. If they were going they needed to go now, not after hours of debate with Lord Atwood regarding the safety of his daughter, and further oaths that may or may not need to be initiated between warrior and Baron. It was odd, the Carakleinian noted, that she followed somewhat behind him rather than beside. Then again, Alrania was a very different place... though perhaps only slightly different from that of other regions of Caraklein he had passed through. Regardless, it was a practice he had not grown up with in his miniscule corner of the world.

They rode in relative silence. Several things were going through the warrior’s mind: what state the apothecary may be in upon rescue, how he would regroup or stabilize his team if the need arose, how to deal with Lord Atwood when they returned, and he wondered what his most recent companion had on her mind. Xanthus contemplated preparing Lilli to face the very worst case scenario. Perhaps that would discourage her from the path she’d chosen... then again it may also serve to spur on the opposite. No matter what culture one hailed from, Xanthus mused, the female mind was an enigma his gender had yet to fully understand. The Carakleinian was distracted from his musings as Lilli and Jasper sped ahead of him for a time. Keeping a close eye on them, Xan decided to say nothing unless Lilli deviated from the path. He had a feeling she knew all too well that if she was going to find Arianna that he would be needed to lead the way, and felt that dangling such a reminder over her was both pretentious and unnecessary.

Sure enough, without need to beckon her back she slowed her pace. Teal eyes watched her under an eagle-like gaze, although said alert was more for her safety than a scolding. Xan still wore his expression of disapproval but once more kept his voice still. He almost expected her to ask him things, or in some other way attempt to strike up conversation. Were it not for the gravity of the situation, the Carakleinian might have laughed when not even moments after the thought appeared Lilli had begun speaking.

“I am sorry for the position that I have put you in. But you must understand mine. I made a promise to Arianna and I am not about to break that because of a chance of danger. I don’t need your approval nor do I desire it….”

Teal eyes shifted from gazing straight ahead to survey the noble. A muscle twitched in the upper portion of his cheek, and blond eyebrows folded downward with increasing seriousness. His lips tightened further, resolutely saying nothing, though whether his silence was from the gravity of the situation or holding himself back from comment was difficult to say.

I…I appreciate all that you have done for me, but we cannot forget that you are but a traveler among us and I have no obligation to you….”

“Your business, milady,” Xan muttered, the last word faintly sour upon his lips. “I am a traveler and a warrior. Nothing more.” That cloak of neutrality he strove to maintain fell slightly to reveal an indignity at the perceived rebuke. A pink crescent of tongue surfaced as Xan licked at his lips, clearly debating on how much if anything more to say. His jaw once again set to force his lips into a thin line. Although he was tempted to nudge Toivo into giving more haste to ride ahead of his charge Xanthus did nothing of the sort. There was a validity to her words, even if he didn’t agree with it all.

“I’m sorry…I did not mean that how it sounded…I just….this is just something I must do and cannot afford to let anyone talk me out of it.”

Xan exhaled a breath he had not realized he’d been holding with an audible sigh. The tone of it was hard to place. He glanced down at Toivo’s mane for several long moments, attempting to formulate a response. “You must do what must be done. Be ready for anything,” he answered gravely.

-------

For all intents and purposes, Ichabod himself appeared just as loaded up as his mount with gear and various inventions that might come in handy. The horse itself had a strange device affixed upon its head that somewhat resembled a miniature sticklike windmill. Ichabod’s face, several shades paler than it should be, seemed pinched in all angles with worry. Auburn eyebrows flattened from their knitted position with relief at the sight of the pair, though furrowed right back to their previous state shortly thereafter.

“I-I wasn’t sure what all we would need, so if n-nothing else I-I’d say we are prepared...” Ichabod informed them once they drew near. Without further adieu he hopped onto his own horse. “H-has Ari shared any word with you a-about this, milady?” he asked Lilli. By her own worried expression however, Ichabod had a sinking feeling she was in the same boat as he.

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^Updated on: 2/20/11
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LadyLilliAschuill
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Posts : 127
Join date : 2009-12-17
Age : 35
Location : NH, USA

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Name: Liliane Atwood Aschuill
Rank: Noble Woman
Love?: Single

PostSubject: Re: Forest Near Carpatus   Sun Aug 12, 2012 1:40 am

FINALLY!!! Hopfully this will get me back into the swing of things around here. A little on the short side but, it'll do!

----------------------

Lilli forced herself to ignore the plethora of thoughts swirling in her in head in order to focus on the task at hand. The short dialog between her and Xan still lingered within her mind and she couldn’t help but still feel as though she had spoken to harshly. She had to convince herself it was the situation which caused her to seem so insensitive and made a quick mental note to apologize to him properly later. For the time being, her primary objective is to find Arianna and bring her home, preferably alive and unharmed.

The sight of Ichabod already waiting for them at the edge of town was a mixture of surprise and relief that the inventor would be joining them in their mission. Even though Ichabod was perhaps the complete polar opposite of someone like Xan, he was nevertheless still an asset. Whether it be one of his (successful) inventions that would aid them or his cleverness, Lilli was still no less than glad for his company.

“H-has Ari shared any word with you a-about this, milady?”

Lilli could not hide the disappointed frown at the inventor’s question. If she read the context right, then he know no more than she did about Ari’s disappearance.

“No more than you, apparently. I know not what’s in her head but we are not stopping until we find her.” The promise was almost more to herself than to Ichabod.

After taking one last look and the both of them and assessing her own readiness, Lilli turned Jasper towards the road leading away from the village. And overwhelming sense of fear passed over her as the reality of the task at hand hit her full force. A small part of her did not dare take on this mission with the knowledge of possible dangers and an uncertain outcome, but it was greatly surpassed by her love for Ari and the desire to keep her safe. Unsure of where to start, she searched the area for clues; anything that would stand out or give some sort of indication of Ari’s direction. Hey eyes drifted to the dirt road, not really knowing what to search for. Dozens of people travel this road every day and it would be next to impossible to determine which set of tracks were Ari’s. But, if one thing was certain: if she left town, it would have been more than likely she followed the road. The next question would be what she did next.

As with any sort of task, Lilli knew it was better to take one step at a time, keep your head, stay focused, and keep an eye for any clues. Still, taking that first step was always the hardest. Turning back around to face the others, she searched each of their faces. She couldn’t help but feel they were waiting for her word or insight as to where to go from here. Careful not to let her slight lack of confidence show through, she gave Ichabod a nod of reassurance and turned her gaze to Xan.

“I am more than certain Ari started out on this road, traveling away from town. But after that I have no knowledge. Xan, I am sure you are more skilled in tracking than I. I would not know what to look for should Ari deviate from the road. If you would, we could use your assistance.” It was plea disguised as a suggestion, but still Lilli had no doubt that Xan would lend whatever skills he possessed in aiding Ari retrieval. Lilli nudged Jasper in line next to Toivo and inconspicuously leaned to the side closer to him, so as only he could hear “And any suggestions would be greatly welcomed as well.” she added, taking great effort to hide the uneasiness in her voice.

With only a slight moment more of hesitation, Lilli nudged Jasper forward to begin their blind quest to fond the closest person Lilli has to a sister.

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