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Lingering Wounds

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Thaddeus Medvyed

Post  Colin Marcus on Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:30 am

"I agree..." Thaddeus said thoughtfully. The mystery of Varnhold had nagged at the back of his mind for some time. Situations hadn't given the opportunity to truly delve into it, but it was always there... waiting its turn.

"I was also surprised that we received no message, no call for help... nothing. That alone gives me some hope for them. If it was a planned retreat then they may still live...

"If it was just a slaughter... someone should have been able to send word." The reasoning sounded hollow to him. There were many possibilities that included both, no letter and no survivors.

"Truthfully I'm not sure what I would have done had there actually been a call to aid... We were counting every soldier we could for our own defense... to take some east?"

He sighed and shook his head a little. "On some level I'm glad I didn't have to make that choice..."

He flagged down one of the servant girls as they neared the library.

"Meralise, could you see to it my dinner is brought to the library?"

Turning toward Wynn he eyed her with a suspicious grin. "How about you ambassador? Have you eaten yet tonight?"
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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Sat Jan 04, 2014 1:54 am

The aasimar's eyes narrowed in their own suspicion. "Did Kaz send you?" She joked, finishing with a helpless sigh. "He made me promise to finish my bowl of eel broth before he would leave me to my correspondence. Apparently eel broth is what they have been feeding me for three weeks.

"Now please do not get me wrong. . .I am terribly grateful for the care that the servants and especially Kazimir have been giving me, but I must admit a certain level of embarrassment at the knowledge that I needed to be spoon-fed at all!"

There was something supremely humbling about the entire experience that, though undoubtedly building character as such trials often did, just made her want to cringe. Wynnsaren always fought to maintain a certain amount of togetherness. She tried to be both mentally and physically organized while she was out in public especially, for when she seemed sure of herself, others tended to be more sure of what she had to say. It made her job easier.

That so many had seen her in a completely helpless state. . .that the king had seen her in that state, did not make her feel especially capable!

"A pot of hot water and some linden tea should be all I require, Meralise, thank you." As the girl trotted off to see to her monarch's commands, the king and his ambassador pushed open the intricately engraved doors to the library. Glas immediately left her side and loped over to his favorite lounging place, the thick rug that lay in front of the great hearth.

Wynnsaren turned to him then, curiosity getting the better of her. "What was it that you wished to show me, Your Grace?"

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Thaddeus Medvyed

Post  Colin Marcus on Sat Jan 04, 2014 4:42 am

The library had seen various changes over the new king's reign. From various trophies to books of every kind, his personal sanctum seemed to reflect whatever hobby struck his interest at the time. Currently when not beset by enemies on all sides, he turned his eye towards art.

Thaddeus' mind had struck on this fancy over a year ago now. He remembered fondly the shock he'd felt when he realized how little of his kingdom Wynnsaren could actually see, and by extension how much he never wished to forget. Certain views, certain memories, things that could easily be taken for granted. The king had started commissioning various paintings and while the results seemed to decorate many of the halls in this castle, his favorites still hung in the library. Chief amongst them, the glow of a morning sun shining on the Tuskwater. The way the artist captured the small fishing boats eager to catch their morning wares always brought a smile to him. On the other wall, a view of the castle, its many towers still being constructed. The forging of a kingdom is what the artist chose to call it, and Thaddeus treasured them greatly.

In recent months however, the king had tried his own hand at the craft. Some showed potential, though all were rougher then the professional pieces. The king had a sure hand with the brush, his instructors had told him, but still needed much practice. As is the way with things he was convinced.

Two of the smaller landscapes on the shelves between the bookcases were his own. One was a view from a particular favorite picnic spot. The other a work in progress of the Cathedral he so desired. He had tried to capture the work that had already been completed... with a ghostly overlap of how it would look when finished. He could never decide If he felt he had succeeded or not with that piece... but he kept finding himself smiling when he looked at it.

The half finished portrait of Feluanil hidden under the sheet on the easel however, odds are he'd end up burning that one. Every brush mark he made he instantly wanted to take back. The resulting mess didn't look anything like the image he had in his mind of his betrothed...

"You asked me how I separate myself from the horrors we faced... This is what works for me." With a somber tone he walked over to a section of the wall draped in a heavy curtain and gently pulled it back. The painting behind it was a starkly different from anything else the king had displayed openly.

The portrait hanging there, showed the view of Akiros from the balcony window. Dark swatches of reds and yellows showed his beloved city was in flames. Giant boulders scattered about the streets, buildings were damaged and the dead lay scattered just as it had been in life. Set in the day, the clouds were dark with smoke, yet occasionally the sun still peeked through. Just a glimpse of light, somewhere beyond the darkness.

While some of the Thaddeus' work could use improvement, this was not one of them. Thaddeus gasped a little when he saw it again and felt a familiar knot form in his gut. The mix of emotions he felt with this piece always affected him. This was the city as he'd seen it, when Sarala had finally convinced him to leave the field of battle. When he could do no more as he was exhausted both physically and magically.

"This was the afternoon after you fell. Not many hours after we found you actually... So many died, so much blood... But that's not what I see...

"The painting used the battle as a setting. The destruction sets the scene. However look more closely..." He pointed out some various squiggle marks that represented people. Farmers and merchants, women and children. Citizens forming bucket brigades to help save the city they all loved. Medics tending the wounded. Helpless peasants who were cheering the surviving defenders.

It was a painting that celebrated life.

"These are the people Ivan died to save. That one there... that could be his mother. That one there his sister... Ivan gave his all to save the ones he loved, and I have little doubt if the stakes were as high, he'd do it again.

"You asked me how I handle the pain of war... I focus on the lives we saved. I remember the lives we lost... but I focus on the ones we saved. Had Ivan not been where he was... had you not kept the farmers in place... That wall would have fallen.

"These people here...." He said as waved his hands over the eastern side of the portrait. "These people would have died."

"According to Paido and Zaistrun... the last count had the kingdom of Novastasia at ten thousand or so. Ten thousand that the Red Doom wanted to destroy. We lost over a thousand good people that night. A thousand people that I wish were still here, but we saved nine thousand lives. THAT is what we need to focus on. Any day that you can save nine thousand lives... is a good day.

"That... is at least what helps me sleep at night."
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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Sat Jan 04, 2014 10:22 am

There was nothing delicate about the way Wynnsaren collapsed into a nearby armchair as she took in the view of the painting. She did not see the those heroes fighting fires or aiding the wounded. . .at least not at first. Instead, she heard the screams of the dying and the crackling heat of the fires. The tacky film that caked her face and body; the blood of her friends as well as a good deal of her own. The pain in her arm from her acid burns had been so severe that the oracle, healing magics spent, bit her lip bloody simply to keep herself from screaming out in front of her troops.

Horror and carnage. That is what she saw and heard in her mind's eye when she looked that painting. It was just all too near.

Wynn's eyes glinted with unspent tears and she sank deeply into the cushioned chair, burying her face her in hands. "Forgive me, Your Majesty. . ." She uttered the apology in a small, spent voice, clearly embarrassed by her display of weakness. "You skill with paints has been improving greatly. Maybe too much so!" Her subsequent chuckle sounded more like a choked whimper.

Uncovering her eyes she turned her face back toward the painting. "I see what you mean and the sentiment you have captured here is beautiful, but while I logically understand what you are saying to me, I cannot help but vividly remember those terrible hours. The death. The blood. The screams.

"I am afraid to sleep," Wynn admitted finally. "I am afraid that I will live it all again. . ."

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Thaddeus Medvyed

Post  Colin Marcus on Sat Jan 04, 2014 2:57 pm

Thad's heart broke a bit as he heard the distress in her voice. It was a powerful painting, and that was the reason he kept it covered. When he needed a reminder it was there... but he couldn't bear to see it often.

He knew too well the horror that she was going through. He'd felt it himself as the darkness came and memories took over. More importantly he had seen what had happened to others who had survived such disasters. Broken men, lying in their bottles or the gutter. Men who had surely died on their own particular walls, their bodies just waiting years to stop moving.

"You will Wynn..." Thad said with compassion in his voice. He sat in his own chair and grasped her hand comfortingly. "Again and again the dreams will come... And that's a good thing.

"I have seen men... leaders... who see people as pieces to move around a board. When a battle is won, the leader takes the glory. Should they fall... he replaces them with new pieces.

"You... we still see the people behind the swords and bows. This compassion makes us better people. Nightmares and sleepless nights are the price we have to pay for that.

"You're not alone in this Wynn." He said with steel in his voice. "Just because I can sleep at night, does not mean I sleep easily. I know well the nightmares you fear... I get them too.

"We just have to be stronger then the memories. Remember them for what they were... but cling to the brighter tomorrow."
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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Sat Jan 04, 2014 5:02 pm

With eyes glowing soft as moonlight, Wynnsaren turned to regard her king. Many men had squirmed beneath that penetrating gaze and many had fallen entranced by it, for it was one which seemed to pierce through every wall and barrier placed before it to see through to the truth of the soul.

Her first visions of the Stolen Lands had given her some basic idea of who Thaddeus Medvyed would become. . . or at least who he needed to become, but she hadn't anticipated a king who showed so much compassion or who would somehow along the way, become so dear a friend.

"Thank you, Your Grace," she whispered, grateful for the words of comfort that fell so easily and honestly from his lips. "There may be no choice but to face these memories but it is nice to know that at least I find myself in good company."

Wynn smiled gently and squeezed his hand before pulling it back and modestly clasping her fingers together in her lap. She hoped he'd not felt the annoying tremble that continued to persist.

"Has there been some sort of memorial ceremony in dedication to those fallen in defense of your city? Maybe a monument erected? I would hate to have missed such an event. . ."

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Thaddeus Medvyed

Post  Colin Marcus on Sat Jan 04, 2014 10:16 pm

"Nothing yet..." Thaddeus said disheartened. There have been a few small celebrations, but nothing... 'official' yet.

"Everything seems to move slowly... I have already considered a monument commemorating the fey and the humans joining forces and sacrifices... But then several artists wished to bid on the honor of sculpting it... then I had to judge my favorite... then there was the actual work of creating it...

"Three weeks seemed interminable... but we feel little closer then we did that night." He chuckled a little in frustration.

"Then again... perhaps the delay is a godsend... To truly commemorate all the fallen, I would like the fey to have a presence that day. Perhaps something you could approach on your visit...

"I'll be sure to add it to the letter!"
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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Sun Jan 05, 2014 12:01 am

The aasimar nodded in silent assent to his will and raised her eyes to the painting once more. She tried to see. . .to feel the hope expressed in the painting this time, but had little more success than the last attempt.

"You have had much to deal with these past weeks since the siege," she acknowledged, wishing she could have been there for him to lean on when he must have needed it. "There has been so much to manage and knowing you," Wynn added with a smirk, "very little time spent attending to your own needs.

"I am sorry I have been unavailable for you, King Thaddeus, and that now I suddenly reappear with only more concerns to pile upon your already overfull plate. If there is anything I have learned over the years, it is that Fate never seems to call at convenient times, let me tell you!"

A knock came upon the library door and the paladin-king bid enter. It was not Fate this time, but five servants that swept through the doors, arms laden with food, each setting their burden one by one upon a long table where the king often took his meals. The first held a steaming bowl of leek soup, and Wynn caught the scent of a rather exotic spice that she'd been familiar with as a child, while the second brought a large platter whereupon a whole honey-roasted chicken lay upon a bed of greens and buttered beets. The third carried a loaf of freshly baked crusty bread and a small dish of baked apples, heavily seasoned with cinnamon. The fourth and fifth servants brought in a bottle of wine and the aasimar's requested pot of tea respectively.

"Well, at least it seems Brynhilde has been taking good care of you!" Wynn chuckled at the spread laid out before him once the servants departed.

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Thaddeus Medvyed

Post  Colin Marcus on Sun Jan 05, 2014 1:59 pm

"That she has," Thaddeus said with a laugh. "And not just me it seems." He chuckled at the extra plates and the food too plentiful for just one. Though the aasimar had told Meralise she was fine, it appeared the servant girl had chosen a better safe than sorry mentality.

He showed her the extra plate as he started to fix a plate for himself. "Should you change your mind... I mean... it's no eel broth.... but if you wish for a little variety to your diet... by all means. Thomas is with his mother this evening and I believe he's already eaten... Though with that boy it probably wouldn't matter. He has the appetite of a goblin!

"I swear that boy could eat a whole saddle in one sitting..." He chuckled to  himself then stopped as he realized that Wynnsaren had no idea who he was talking about.

"You haven't met Thomas yet, have you..." He smirked a little as he thought of the sandy haired scamp who was living at the castle now. "It seems in your absence, I've gone an acquired a squire now..."
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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Sun Jan 05, 2014 11:07 pm

"Have you really?" Wynnsaren arched an eyebrow in surprise. Before she had a chance to continue, her stomach growled pitifully at all of the lovely and certainly more substantial fare that had been denied it the past weeks, so after the king's invitation the aasimar had little recourse but to move over to the table and attempt to sate her hunger without making herself sick.

She helped herself to precisely two ladles of the leek soup and found a seat at the table where she poured a small cup of linden tea with unsteady hands.

"There must be a tale in this somewhere," Wynn spoke up curiously after her king took his own seat at the table and tucked into his dinner. "I had no idea you were searching for a squire! When and where did you find this Thomas, if I might so inquire?"

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Thaddeus Medvyed

Post  Colin Marcus on Sun Jan 05, 2014 11:33 pm

"I wouldn't say I was searching for one... but I do seem to have found one," he said with a chuckle as he noted the irony.

"I'm not sure if you met his father or not. Thomas the Elder, they called him. Good man. Good soldier..." Thaddeus recounted with a hint of sadness.

"I rode with him in the campaign against Hargulka and the trolls. Friendly chap. Talked incessantly about his wife and kid. He claimed he was one of the first in line for this new chance we were building. He truly believed in the dream of Novastasia. Didn't seem intimidated by me, the way most of the soldiers seem to.

"Thomas saved my life at least once during that battle, perhaps even twice." He swirled some of the wine in his glass as he remembered his first real troop 'command.' Most of the men in the First Light are brave beyond compare. Thomas fit well in their ranks.

"I didn't see him fall defending the wall, but I heard he died well. The First Light was one of the smallest armies we had that day, but they fought as well, if not better then the others. They and the kobolds were responsible for holding the gate, and the gate never fell..."

He drank down the rest of his glass and poured a little more.

"After the siege, I heard things... I don't even remember where now. There was so much chaos. There were so many broken homes... so many orphans. When I heard that his widow and son were going to have to move back to her family in Brevoy..." His brow furrowed at the thought. The idea that Thomas the Elder's dream for a new beginning had been dashed so fully... it stabbed deep even now.

"Well, that's when I made a decision. I offered Helen a place in the castle. She's apparently a fair hand as a seamstress," He said with a little grin. "Actually, we may have quite a few new servants or faces floating around the castle now days... I can't help everyone... but I did what I could."

"As for Thomas the junior... I offered him the chance to squire. To... possibly follow in his father's footsteps. If he has half the bravery as his father, I think he'll be a knight for certain. He's thrown himself into the work so far. Paido has taken a solid hand in correcting him, usually before I even get a chance to..."
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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Sun Jan 05, 2014 11:36 pm

"That was well done of you, Your Grace," Wynn offered appreciatively as she shrugged off her starry cloak and draped it carefully over the lovingly carved wooden chair in which she sat. "Honoring the service of the father by taking care of his family after his death. . . very well done of you. There is no doubt that your actions following the siege will be well noted by your people and they will love you all the more for them. Indeed how could we not?"

She smiled softly as she spooned up a bit of soup; a thin broth thick with the exotic scents of ginger and saffron. Only a little of it was lost as she brought it to her lips with a trembling hand and sipped it delicately.

"Have there been any plans to organize care for these orphans? It is a dreadfully frightening thing to find yourself suddenly alone in the world and just one person's kindness can be the difference between hope and hopelessness."

The aasimar's expression spoke a good deal more than her words. She knew. She'd been there, but the tragedy that these children faced seemed so much greater for to lose your parents at such a young age and in such a terrifying siege, was only to heap sorrow upon fear. Once more Wynnsaren regretted her overly extended 'nap'.

These things should not be her concern she understood, especially not now in the face of another vision! The oracle was not sent to the Stolen Lands to comfort widows and orphans, but to keep Star-Spawned Horror in her dream from creating an infinitely greater number of them! That had to stay her focus. Still. . . Perhaps there would be some small way for her to aid in such endeavor in spite of her duties so often taking her far afield.

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Thaddeus Medvyed

Post  Colin Marcus on Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:31 pm

"I think something is being done... Traica seemed to be organizing something... though I confess in the confusion, I'm not sure what.

"I know only that the others and I seemed to heal the children as quickly we as we could... provided there weren't more critical adults of course... and once healed they were moved to less... traumatic areas while we focused on whoever was left."

Many of the damaged building were being refitted and reinhabited as the weeks went by. Compared to Tatselford, they had done remarkably well... but compared to what it looked like before? Well, many of the shops were repairable but severely damaged. Fire had claimed much, but rarely completely. Even the shops and homes that had survived unscathed... didn't guarantee their owners had survived.

Signs and locations had changed much, and there were some areas that he felt lost traveling down. A visitor in his own city...

He was certain that at least one of these places was now an orphanage of sorts... though he'd never be able to point out where on the map that was...

Before he could turn his attention back to that however, he had another vision-monster to battle...

"Wynn... Do you mind if I ask something a bit personal... I'd understand if your not up to it tonight, of course."

He glanced over to her with an eyebrow raised in curiosity.

"Before you came to the Stolen Lands... How often did the gods send you on these kinds of missions? Have you been saving the world for over seventy years... or is this something a bit... new?"
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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:34 pm

"Saving the world?" The oracle managed an amiable chuckle. "Hardly. . . That is in fact your duty I believe, Your Majesty, and that of the other three fates to which I have been sent. As for me, I am just here to help tip the odds in the world's favor."

After another spoonful of soup, Wynnsaren leaned back into her chair, clasping her cup of tea between both hands.

"This particular mission is entirely unlike any I have dealt with before simply due to the sheer scope of it. Nothing that the gods have deemed necessary to set in my mind has come anywhere near the danger that this threat poses. . .as you say, to the world. All other purposes that have come before seem to have been preparing me for this one point, as if I was born for precisely such a time as this. Indeed, maybe I was. Who can say but the gods themselves?"

Her eyes gazed unseeing over the rim of the porcelain cup as she took a swallow of the smooth tea and considered her own unknown Fate.

"The first time I was taken, I was sent to the Shoanti peoples of the Storval Plateau. I was about thirty years old then. A baby," she grinned. "Long prior to that, knowings had become commonplace and I had learned to act on the imparted knowledge, having some vague understanding that the information I was given was most often meant to be relayed for the benefit of the subject of said knowing. Tests perhaps. I was being groomed for a larger duty that I could not have understood at the time.

"I was two years with the Lyrune-Quah before the gods shunted me back to the Crown of the World once my mission was complete. It was by far the longest I have been given, save for the one I am currently on." Wynn tipped her head to the monarch in acknowledgement.

"Most are usually a day or two, some even a few hours depending on what the gods deem necessary. Often a single meeting is all that is required to align the pieces, and though I am but a drop of oil in the gears of a grand machine, it would be satisfying to see the bigger picture on occasion as it is unusual for me to be privy to such knowledge. I see it here, however. I do. . . Perhaps I should be more careful about what I wish for, hmm?

With a self-deprecating smirk, Wynn took another sip of tea before cradling it carefully in her lap.

"Between the Storval Plateau and the Stolen Lands lay about forty-five years. In that time I have been taken to various missions about two dozen times, but have received countless knowings within the places through which I tend to wander. Many fewer here than I am used to however," she considered. "My purpose here in the Stolen Lands seemed to be intensely focused toward that one goal, which gives rise to my conjecture that perhaps this is the purpose for which I have been called."

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Thaddeus Medvyed

Post  Colin Marcus on Tue Jan 07, 2014 12:08 am

"I know what you mean..." he said with a nod. "And yet at the same time... I can't imagine."

The king shook his head in amazement. Truly she had lived a fascinating life, and to be tossed around by the gods with such... whimsy seemed to boggle his mind. Tian xi... Crown of the World...Varisia... the Shoanti... Galt... Brevoy? Where hadn't she been!

"I am beginning to finally understand what it means to be used by the gods for a purpose... That's what paladins are, you see..."

He couldn't help but grin a little self consciously. "I remember a conversation I had with Sir Tambor when I was much younger . We were talking about divine intervention... The idea that people had, that the gods protected their followers and would miraculously save them. Of course the young lad that I was couldn't understand why the bad things were allowed to happen at all... If Saranrae was able to beat Rovagug himself, why not just stop all the evil.

"He explained it to me like this... Paladins don't get to cower and hope for the gods to get them out of trouble. We don't get divine intervention... we were divine intervention.

"We had the tools, we had the skills. Most of all, we had the courage to stand up when others backed off... When people were in the shadow of undefeatable shadows... we were the answers to their prayers. The gods rarely acted on this plane themselves... but when their interests needed to be served... we were the ones they sent.

"A paladin's job was to ride in and save the day. It is what he said I was training for." He stared into the fire, silent for a moment as he collected his thoughts. There was no boasting or pride in his tone. More an acknowledgement of his reverent duty.

"I didn't really understand what that meant till the Stolen Lands. When we arrived at Oleg's the night before the bandits were coming to steal, kill or worse to his wife and him... They needed help, they sent for aid... and when they needed it most, I was there to help.

"It was... intimidating, to say the least."

"I hadn't... felt myself moved down here for a specific purpose. It just felt... the right thing to do. An opportunity presented itself, and I took it. Yet somehow I was where I needed to be, when I needed to be there. I helped save Oleg and Svetlana... I even saved one of the bandits. One who went on to sacrifice himself to save a lot of people here I might add! I have no doubt I was sent here by my goddess... but it was so subtle I didn't even notice.

"You? I can't imagine what it must be like to just be forcefully placed somewhere... To be ripped from any semblance of a normal life..." He shook his head in awe and a little sadness. She hadn't been given the choices he had. Hadn't chosen to be an agent of the gods. Though if Feluanil was to be believed... perhaps he'd had fewer choices than he believed as well.

"Do you ever get used to it?"


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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Tue Jan 07, 2014 12:10 am

"I have come to accept it. Normal as you see it is not something I believe I could manage very well anyhow."

Her soft lips curled up into an ephemeral smile as Wynn paused a moment for a sip of tea.

"Truly it is not all bad. Yes, I have learned to inventory any possessions I may have acquired and list to whom they should go if I do not return to a place. Yes, I often sleep with certain items that I would not want to be left without. Yes, l have known what it is to be lonely, but then again who has not?

"This life has granted me the ability to see things I may otherwise never have seen and to learn things I may never have learned! I have slept amidst rats in the city streets, in brightly painted vardos in the middle of a forest, more inns and taverns than I can count, and now even in king's castle as ambassador of a nation! I assure you, I have never been bored. The gods have given me the opportunity to appreciate every moment of this life; to fully live every moment of this life, and that, my king, is a gift, even if there is a trade off of sorts."

The oracle's words echoed hollowly in her own ears and she couldn't help but wonder whom she was trying to convince.

"I know there are certain facets of 'normalcy' that I may never experience," Wynn pressed ahead, her smile faltering slightly, "but surely a life of purpose fully lived makes up for such things.

"No doubt you can identify with that!" It was a mistake to wander so haphazardly down this path of conversation she realized, as emotionally compromised as she was this night, so it was with much enthusiasm that she shifted the discussion back toward her liege.

"There is nothing normal about being king as I am sure you have already discovered, but you do have a life of purpose. It is up to you to live it fully."

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Re: Lingering Wounds

Post  Colin Marcus on Tue Jan 07, 2014 12:15 am

Thaddeus grinned weakly at her comment. She did a poor job of hiding her feelings tonight. While it was a distinct possibility that she truly did believe these statements most nights, tonight it sounded like a rehearsed speech that she had used to convince herself those many times in the past.

"I've certainly had it better then most I've heard of... there's no denying that.

"Still... I know the value of a home. Stoneclimb has been lived in for generations of Medvyeds. It's where my father is buried, and his father, and his father before him. Even living in my own castle, in my own kingdom... when I dream of 'home'... it's not Akiros that I dream of."

That kind of surprised Thaddeus more then he expected. His estrangement from Cor and his family stung him more than he had admitted out loud before. Family and home had always been important to Thaddeus. It's why he'd move mountains for his sister... why he had been so reluctant to give up the name Medvyed. Even the logic of a new name made sense... indecision had held him off to the point that it never happened. The idea that he may never visit his father grave... or be buried in the family plot stirred an odd feeling in him.

"I am a little envious of your adventures Wynn... You wouldn't be... you if you had lived a different life. The places and things you've seen... I'll undoubtedly never see.

"Still... to hear you talk sometimes... Sometimes you describe your 'purpose' as if it is a gift to be treasured... but other times... more like shackles.

"You said two dozen missions in forty some years... That's a lot of time 'not' being plucked about from place to place...

"Twenty years is a long time for a sense of normalcy to set in. Longer then many others have had without the gods interfering..." He couldn't help but glance over at the portrait again.

"I'm sorry," said shaking his head. "I'm prying a bit too much and you're not feeling well. I guess the news that you were once engaged, surprised me is all..."
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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Tue Jan 07, 2014 12:17 am

"Akram," Wynnsaren expounded quietly, waving off the unnecessary apology between bites of leek soup. "His name was. . .or is Akram. He should have seen well over sixty summers now if he yet lives, but the Storval Plateau can be a harsh place.

"We were good friends for nearly two years before he finally gathered up enough courage to declare his intentions toward me. He was so sweet and unsure of himself in that most personal of areas," she smiled at the memory. "You certainly would not expect such from a rough, hard-nosed Shoanti warrior, and gods help any man who called him so to his face!"

Wynn was pleasantly surprised by how separated she felt from those memories now; that the second telling stung even less than the first. Perhaps after all these years she was learning to accept the pain and yes even the guilt of that period of her history. In truth, the girl she had been would not even recognize the woman she had become! Yiska would always be a dear part of her but Wynnsaren was older, wiser, stronger and infinitely more self-assured.

"My life at the time had developed into a new normal, as you say, in spite of the distinctly abnormal method of my arrival. I believed that I was where the gods wished me to be, and I loved him," she said simply, "so I agreed. To the yurt beneath the stars. . . To the sandy-haired children playing stick ball and 'catch the lizard' among the rest of the clan. . . To everything. I agreed to a normal life.

"It was only days later that everything changed. I was sent on a journey to fulfill my purpose in that place and the gods refused to allow me to return. It seemed that Akram had his own stars to follow. . .and I was not one of them, so when I found myself back at the Crown of the World, I took a new name and was eventually able to leave that old life and home behind.

"Tsukiko's home was her father's caravan," Wynn considered. "Much as Stoneclimb is yet home to you. Yiska, as I was known then among the Shoanti, had a home with the Lyrune Quah. Ksenija was the stranger, the wanderer with no home, while Gilraen found her home within the journey itself in her time among the Varisians. As for Wynnsaren?" She pressed her lips together gently in thought. "I suppose I have yet to see."

The oracle lifted her eyes to meet those of her king and she smiled fondly.

"Akiros may not yet feel like home to you but your life here has only just begun. While it will never replace Stoneclimb in your memory, one may have many homes in a lifetime and when you see your sons playing knights in the halls and your daughters 'saving' eels from the dinner table to keep as pets," she chuckled, "when your most wistful of thoughts all revolve around that one. . .place, and you can think of nowhere else you would rather be when life is difficult and you find yourself hurting, then you will know for certain that you are home."

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Thaddeus Medvyed

Post  Colin Marcus on Tue Jan 07, 2014 12:18 am

"I like that," the king said with a wide grin. "That is a beautiful way of phrasing it." He made a mental note to lock that image in his mind.

As they finished their supper, he couldn't help but wonder what the future would hold. If this dark shadow was truly what she was 'born to do'... what then? Would the gods be finished with her? Would the shackles be removed? Or would she simply be whisked away from their lives as suddenly as she had appeared?

He kept these thoughts to himself. Thaddeus was all in favor of encouraging hope, but only true hope, and he frankly didn't understand the oracle's service well enough. The idea of raising someone's hope only to see it dashed when she was taken again, wasn't something he would relish. Besides, he was certain these thoughts had crossed her own mind.

Finally, he set his fork down. There was still so much food left and he grinned a bit to himself. It was a poorly kept secret that the leftovers were never wasted. He imagined a few servants in the kitchen eagerly awaiting the return of the trays. That's why they always sent so much he was certain.

"Tomorrow will be a big day, my friend..." He couldn't help but think about some of what she'd said. "It begins. Do you think it will end too? That we'll be able to stop this before the threat grows?"
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Post  Wynnsaren on Tue Jan 07, 2014 12:20 am

Sitting back in her chair, Wynn lazily swirled the dregs of tea around in her cup as she considered the question.

"I do not get the sense that this is the end, Your Grace, but that this is only the beginning. I must admit to you that I cannot be certain however, as these things rarely operate within the definite. I believe that we must thwart plans in preparation for its coming. . .but beyond that?" Her dark brows pinched together gently. "We will learn more as we approach Kirya."

The oracle sighed and drained the last drops of tea before setting the cup carefully down upon the table. "Pray forgive me for the ambiguity. I am only ever told what I need to know and the rest is up to us to piece together. Professional hazard," she winked.

"Perhaps I should leave you with this thought for the evening. . ." Wynn sat up and with arched brow, leveled her gaze upon the king. "If the gods did not believe it possible to prevent this shadow from falling upon us all, than I assure you, I would not be here speaking with you now. I am not sent to where there is no hope."

She let that settle into her own mind as well as his, as she pushed herself upright from her chair and magically flashed a mote of light within Glas' line of sight to alert him that they were about to leave.

Using the table, Wynn curtsied as best she could. "Your Majesty, I thank you for your kindness this evening. The sharing of your meal and a walk, but most especially for your friendship. It is a rare gift.

"I must leave you to your rest tonight and find some of my own, as tomorrow will be a long day of travel and I fear that falling from one of those phantom steeds may either put me back into a coma or do me in entirely!"

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Thaddeus Medvyed

Post  Colin Marcus on Tue Jan 07, 2014 12:28 am

"Another professional hazard I'm afraid," he said with a chuckle. "I was about to suggest the same thing. Those horse travel... very fast."

He rang a bell that would signify that the plates were ready to be cleaned with the leftovers scurried back to the kitchen and walked Wynn to the door.

"I hope you sleep well tonight, a nice dreamless sleep if possible." He had done what he could to help with the trauma, and she seemed at peace now, at least for the moment. In hindsight, it was unusual for him to be giving the advice during their meetings. He rather enjoyed being able to return the favor for a change.

"If there's anything else I can do, by all means, please let me know." He found himself smiling widely. "It's been a long few weeks here without our chats... I'm glad you're back."

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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Tue Jan 07, 2014 5:06 pm

The sentiment was returned in earnest, and feeling a good deal improved after the meal and excellent company, Wynnsaren and Glas returned slowly to her tower of residence.

She was glad to see that her well-worn couch had been returned to the roof as requested, for the aasimar had missed the song of her own stars. The ones in her vision had been comforting, but strangely foreign as she floated through the tapestry. These were the stars that she knew and on this clear evening, they sang their welcome home.

It was a beautiful night in early autumn. The air was brisk and crisp with the scent of the black ash leaves which had just begun to fall. There was also the tang of fresh cut timber on the breeze from the lumbermills working overtime to repair those buildings which were lost in the siege and the occasional waft of acrid smoke still lingered. Soon all would be put right in Akiros. All that would be left to give evidence of the battle would be the wounds suffered in the hearts and minds of her people.

Wynnsaren lay down on her couch wrapped in her starry cloak and a thin, white shift, with one arm draped over the side to maintain affectionate contact with her leonine, alien friend. A small pouch hung from a leather thong around her neck, containing Rasven's sphere and a silver raven figurine. Usually she was given a good amount of warning before she was taken but ever since Candlemere, Wynn wasn't sure what to expect, so in these unusual times, she slept prepared for just such an eventuality.

An hour passed and the celestial refrain cresendoed.

With her face turned toward the song, the aasimar wondered if the alien being from her vision even now looked upon these lands with its tentacles writhing chaotically and those intelligent eyes blinking like stars above her. She could still feel that cold, apathetic gaze and shuddered under its powerful weight. That was not her only struggle this night as she wrestled with the need to sleep, for shades still persisted at the edges of her mind. Faces that she would no longer see this side of the veil.

Empowered by the seductive strains of the evening, Fear and Sorrow sought to gain foothold but Wynnsaren, ever hopeful, found solace encased within the soft black fabric of the cloak -- which had long since been woven with sweet memory -- and the warm knowledge that with such love and friendship she need not feel alone.

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