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Work work work - Elyna has a new assignment

The capital city of the of Rynmere, here is seated the only King in Idalos.
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Elyna
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101 Ashan 716
After two days of flying, Elyna was grateful to have some time with Ember. She had been assigned to accompany Captain Ophelia Odean along with her crew of five assorted Knights and Sergeants to Verona on horseback. Their task was simple, to escort a caravan of merchants, specifically wine and spirit merchants from Fort Venora back to Andaris. It was a punishment for her previous 'outing'. She knew it, her own Captain knew it. Of all the assignments possible in assisting the Knights, this was a punishment. At least, Elyna had reasoned, as Ashan was advancing, the weather would be better and it would give her a chance to exercise and care for Ember each day, instead of leaving her in the care of the Stables. She couldn’t quite afford the standard of care for her beloved horse that she would like, and relished the opportunity to complete the tasks and exercise the mare for the duration of the journey. She had also had time to fully prepare and pack, determined not to be caught off guard, yet again. She’d also met and worked alongside Captain Odean the previous Arc. The woman was exacting, but fair.

It would be good to get out of the city for a few days. The sun was rising slowly over the horizon as she and Ember trotted out of the gates toward the designated meeting place. Her shirt sleeves were rolled back, hair neatly braided and pinned up and off her neck as it promised to be a warm day. If an Ashan rain was going to fall, it was likely to be light showers, more refreshing than drenching. The smell of earth rose up from the ground and she rose up in the stirrups to catch a glimpse of Odean’s party. It was then that Ember, sensing something was wrong, slowed to a walk.

It wasn’t Odean’s group. She couldn’t see Captain Odean anywhere. How was this even possible? As Ember approached she counted the faces of the crew she knew too well. Kathryn approached with a smile and a wave, “good fortune,” the woman said and Elyna forced herself to smile in reply.

“Where is Captain Odean?” She asked, still hopeful, and twisted in the saddle to look back the way she’d come. There were no more hoofbeats on the road.

“Captain Odean sustained an injury last evening, we’re picking up the run to Venora. You must be our Skyrider?”
Elyna pulled in her top lip and nodded, “it seems that way,” she replied with a nod. Kathryn turned back to the party and led the way.

Elyna realised that she could turn back and simply ride away. She could say she was ill, or faint or injured. She knew that she’d certainly lost weight since over the past series of Trials and that her clothes hung a little looser. She could refuse the mission, but there would be too many questions. Instead she offered a brief nod to Heath and Benjamin as she passed them and approached Captain Krom. She forced her shoulders back and steeled herself to sit up straight.

This was not how she had wanted to encounter him again. She swallowed, sure that everyone was watching, even if they weren’t.

“Good morning, Ser” she greeted him formally, fingers tight on Ember’s reins. She scrambled for something else to say, and failed. Her heart thudded hard in her chest. There was so much she wanted to say.

"I-" she stumbled, "I'm assigned to map the landscape as we pass."
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The season had flown by and each trial seemed to pass faster than the one before it. The unit was used to taking on last minute assignments, but another four day mission, so soon after the last had a few of them down in the dumps, especially Ronald, who had taken Simon's death hard, and Nathan, an avid family man who preferred working within the walls of Andaris. Veronica and Keith were settling in nicely after a rough start, and learning to pull their weight and follow orders.
Their mission was to make a quick trip to the foot of Nora's Peak in Venora, where a shipment of well aged, expensive wine still in the barrels would await them with a cart driver pulled by four horses. Venora was known for its wine and the road was often plagued by bandits during the warmer seasons, driving farmers to move their goods sooner than they usually did. Malcolm had given his team strict instructions and orders on formation. Ronald, Veronica, and Peter were to ride at the front, Kathryn, Keith, and Nathan would ride centre, and Heath and Benjamin, along with the Skyrider they were waiting on would take up the rear with him. No one could have anticipated who would be joining them and when Elyna made her appearance on the bay mare she had taken all the way to Krom earlier in the season, Malcolm felt his heart swell and chest tighten.
The noble woman was swiftly greeted by Kathryn who had a soft spot for her, before she moved on to acknowledge Heath and Benjamin who were both sat on their horses near the captain. When Elyna made her approach, greeted the captain and announced that she was to be in charge of mapping their route, Malcolm lowered his gaze and nodded, acknowledging her as if she were a squire, far below his station and insignificant. "Very well then," he agreed and turned his horse to get on the road.
Benjamin and Heath looked at one another and cringed, wondering what might have gone on there between the two, or perhaps, as they had often been led to believe in the past, Malcolm was just keeping things professional. "It's good to have you with us," Heath smiled warmly and followed the captain's lead, tugging on the reins to bring his horse around.

Deciding to put distance between them in the attempt of saving any further awkwardness, Malcolm swapped places with Kathryn, who was more than happy to ride at the back with Elyna and help her map the way, though for the most part she seemed to just enjoy the chance to talk another woman's ear off for a change.
Well after midday they stopped for a break to eat, water their horses and stretch their legs, with Malcolm choosing to wander down to a small catchment of water, leading the chestnut gelding behind him. He waited for the animal to drink and then untethered one side of his reins and sat down in the grass, giving the horse enough range to graze under the afternoon sun. Benjamin came to sit with the man and sunk down against the trunk of a tree, groaning about his tired legs and stiff back, any excuse to start a conversation that eventually led to him inquiring about how things had gone with Elyna. "Did you tell her?" He asked.
"About Yorath?" Malcolm looked around and lowered his voice.
Benjamin nodded.
"I don't think it's my place, I've hurt her enough with all of this."
"Well if you don't tell her, at least try and be nice to her?"
"What do you mean?" Malcolm asked, surprised to hear Benjamin of all people, scold him about they way he was interacting with another person.
"I get it," he said, "I can see what you saw in her, don't let it end on bad terms, that will just lead to one of you taking a shitty job in some backwater town where you end up regretting your decisions and making yourself miserable."
Malcolm smiled. "You've put a lot of thought into this."
"I care about you, that's all."
The captain slapped Benjamin's shoulder with the back of his hand playfully. "You're right, I'm being selfish," he agreed, "too much pride, not enough sense."
Benjamin got up and helped the man to his feet, "come on," he smiled, "I won't have you moping about."

Malcolm didn't make any attempt to approach Elyna until later that night when she took over watch duties from Peter, who went to join the others near the campfire, most of who were already asleep. The captain sat down alongside the Elyna with a blanket and offered one end to her. Malcolm seemed thoughtful for a time as if waiting for Elyna to speak, but decided in the end to take his turn, it was better she didn't know, better if they put it all behind them. "I'm sorry," he began, "for rocking the boat with vicious assumptions, I hope I haven't upset you beyond the chance of salvaging our working relationship... or friendship."
Last edited by Malcolm on Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:54 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 880
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Elyna wasn’t sure what she was expecting of Malcolm, but she could be certain in her disappointment at his response. If any other Captain had treated her with so little respect, she would have stood her ground. She was a Skyrider and a Lady, she deserved better and wasn’t usually reluctant to fight for recognition. But of course, Malcolm was different and though she nodded silently in reply she simply waited for the party to move off hung back, offering Kathryn a weary smile as the woman offered to act on point.

She pulled out the leather which had been stretched and thinned so that it could be written on. She’d mapped out the pathways between Andaris and Nora’s Rest from the air over the last few weeks in preparation, but she was missing the details and what could be found beneath the canopy of leaves and trees. It was a general task of Skyriders to carry out the mapping of Rynmere and beyond, so wasn’t unusual for one to accompany a party of Moseke Knights. They all benefited from up to date and accurate representations after all.

The Skyrider focused on the task at hand, using a charcoal pencil to make changes and notes that she would later go over in ink, once she’d returned home. She wasn’t one for words or writing, but she enjoyed drawing and her sketches and maps were considered to be amongst the more accurate. She and Katheryn discussed the group and the changing dynamic with new members being bought in. Katheryn seemed to consider that she, Elyna was as part of the team as Nathan, or Ben, for which Elyna was grateful. It was nice not to be considered an outsider. They spoke about Simon and Ronald as well, dropping to hushed tones.

Malcolm kept his distance and she was thankful of that as well. If for any reason the distance between them started to close, her hand started to tremble and the lines blurred. It was impossible not to be aware of him, riding ahead, giving orders. It was impossible also, not to feel regret and a vast longing for his attention. But she also dreaded that moment. She was happy to avoid it for as long as possible.

She dosed after eating that night, preparing for the late shift of watch. Peter woke her and she stretched, making her way to the edge of the encampment. For a nearly half a break she thought that she was safe. Until Malcolm emerged and settled down at her side. She accepted the blanket, silent. It would have been churlish to push it away. She pulled her cloak closer around her shoulders, burying herself in the warmth savoured from the fire, inhaling all the wood smoke smell. All of the thoughts that had been spinning for the past few trials were kicked up again, like dust on the road. She couldn’t settle on any one thing to say, and when Malcolm started to speak she found she couldn’t say anything. Dumbstruck she looked at him. For all he’d said, he could have winded her. She found herself staring at him in disbelief. He wanted to salvage their friendship? He’d rocked the boat?

Elyna pushed the blanket to oneside and stood up, “excuse me,” she muttered and made to walk away. Until she turned, fists clenched as she wrestled with herself.

“Vicious assumptions?” She grit her teeth and knelt one knee on the ground so she was on an eye level with him once more; struggling not to lose her temper. Or to speak in a way that would get everyone else’s attention.

“You believed what you said, and you’re right. You’ve never lied to me, and I’ve got no reason to ever think that you would…I’m sorry that I reacted the way that I did- but it was a bit of a shock,” and therein lay the understatement of the arc, but she forced herself to take a breath, dropping her gaze. She started pulling up strands of grass from the earth, “so I’ve been dealing with that. If you believed what you said, if it’s true-” her voice caught and wavered and she stood up again. Elyna pushed her hands into the pockets of her jerkin and looked to the stars for answers. There were none, “it means I’m a hundred times of idiot,” she let out the air caught in her chest with a sigh and straightened up properly. Etiquette lessons paying off, “it means he didn’t deserve what we had together and he certainly doesn’t deserve anymore of my time. Past, present or future.”

The young woman looked back at the captain and lifted her shoulders in a shrug, she was angry, but she was no longer angry at herself. There was at least, somewhere now to direct her grief and the overwhelming sense of shame and guilt. At Yorath, for his deception and his lies. For leading her down a path filled with despair and abandoning her there.

“I wanted to say all of this to you,” she found Malcolms gaze for a moment before shaking her head, “I wanted…” She glanced over her shoulder at the encampment. He wanted for them to be friends. He wanted to be able to work with her. She could understand his desire to make it through a mission without any drama.

“Thank you…for your assistance. I’m sure that we can continue to work together, Ser. Please have no concerns about my ability to be professional, and see out this assignment to the best of my ability” she offered a polite and formal bow of her head. A Skyrider to a Captain before the frustration rose again and she couldn't help but snap "but as for friendship, you can stick it! I have no desire to be your 'friend'” No, she wanted so much more.
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As Elyna got to her feet, so too did Malcolm, the small hairs on the back of his neck fixed at attention, and the blanket they had shared pooled at his feet. She had that tone about her voice again, authoritative and exacting, one that made her seem firm but distant, and yet Malcolm could sense that Elyna was trying to be open and honest with him. The noble woman had a way about packaging the truth that was somewhat brutal, blunt even. She didn’t want to be his friend? Well he didn’t want to be hers either!
Malcolm felt his hands close into tight fists as heat rose up through his body, concentrated at the base of the neck and the edge of his jaw, teeth pressed together tightly, and brow pinched. Elyna was infuriating, proud, stubborn, and… he was completely besotted by her. The beast softened. There was no point in yelling and causing a scene, or explaining the lengths he had gone to in order to prove he wasn’t lying, something she already believed, and thus no reason to drag up old ghosts again, such would just be selfish now.
“Elyna,” he said to stop the woman from leaving and took a step closer to her, but anything else that might have followed was halted by the sudden urge to kiss her. “Good,” Malcolm said instead, “enjoy your watch.”
Last edited by Malcolm on Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:54 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 242
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Maybe it was because he was a mortalborn, Elyna thought. Maybe that was why whenever he advanced toward her like that all her desire to fight against him fled. Perhaps it was some additional ability, to exact power over people. As it was, her eyes lowered to his boots but she tilted her head up a tiny, imperceptible amount, anticipating his next motion to kiss her. When his words fell instead, she felt as though she was burning up. Heat scorched her from the neck down and she took a step in retreat, eyes flying open to stare at him. Drowning, even with so much space between them she was drowning.

Enjoy your watch. Stung, she all but hissed through her teeth, like a cornered cat. She tried reaching for a retort to throw back at him, but the only thing that came to mind was 'I will, or you enjoy your watch!' Both of which were pathetic and would surely only display her vulnerability and hurt at this moment. Professional it was, they would work together and when this mission was done she would submit a request to focus on her Skyriding. She had more than enough breaks with the Moseke this arc to cover the requirement.

She tried to think of anything that would sting him in return before she simply gave up. He had made his decision clear. Her fists clenched and unclenched and she turned to leave, only to glance back at him once more a few strides away, "I know what I want, Mal," she covered the distance with soft words, "because I am right here," she indicated the ground she stood on with a small tap of her foot. Ironic really, that she said it as she was trying to leave. The skyrider slumped though and looked forward at the trees and the darkness beyond the firelight.

"If-" all the heat rushed from her body and left her cold, raising a hand to Mal behind her, she signalled that they had company and slowly drew her sword from it's sheath. She saw metal flash in the darkness and shouted a warning before she ran the three steps forward. She caught the thin man by surprise; they grappled for a moment and she felt a sting of pain in her arm before she could grab hold of him and wrapping an arm around his neck. She scoured the darkness and listened to the world around her, the others were scrambling up to their feet, but beyond that, she couldn't hear anything else or distinguish noise from the trees.

"Are you alone?" She growled and nudged the man back, into the lit area provided by the camp fire. She felt his heart racing in his chest, veins pounded in his neck as he raised both hands in surrender. He was badly dressed and Elyna looked up at Malcolm for orders, "a scout?"

He was disarmed so she pushed him forward towards the rest of the company, pulling back the sleeve of her shirt to examine the thin cut. She let out a slow sigh. She always got injured with this crew- one way or another.
Last edited by Elyna on Tue Apr 19, 2016 11:33 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 539
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A high pitched whistle from the captain had his crew on their feet in seconds, half dressed and with weapons drawn they moved into attack formation, back to back and scanning their surroundings. Everything had happened so quickly and by the time Malcolm had realised what was going on, Elyna had already disarmed her opponent and had him pinned against the earth. Malcolm looked through the trees and held his hand up, calling for silence with the gesture so that he could listen, but only the sound of the low burning campfire could be heard.
"Are you all right?" He asked Elyna, only then noticing the trail of blood that ran down her arm and dripped away from the ends of her fingers.

The captain saw red and stepped forward to closed his boot over the man's throat. The thin male struggled, hands reaching for Malcolm's leg unsuccessfully. "Who are you with?" He shouted, pressing his boot into the man's neck, who coughed and spluttered as if trying to answer.

Impatient and rather infuriated, Malcolm lifted the man's shirt to check for the mark of faction VII. His heart sunk when he found one tucked under the man's left arm against his chest and took up the scout's blade, holding it to his throat where the tread of his boot had moments ago been. "Is there poison on the blade?" The captain asked quickly.
"No!" The thin man trembled.
"I don't believe you!" Malcolm roared and cut across the man's collarbone, drawing blood.

When the man started hyperventilating and clawing at his own neck, Malcolm stepped back, fingers pushed through his dark hair after drooping the blade and looking around, lost for words, his mind scrambling for sense, what should he do? He order Benjamin to tie the man up and drag him all the way to Venora if he was lucky, or rather unfortunate, enough to last that long, and went to find the med-kit hurriedly, crafting a make-shift bandage to tie around the top of Elyna's arm tightly. "Two horses," he told Heath, "yours and Peter's, we need something that will get us home fast.

Kathryn stood holding her hands over her mouth and Ronald shook his head slowly, frozen with disbelief and fear for the noble woman. Heath brought the horses over, bareback but ready to go, their bridles fastened tightly and reins at the ready. Malcolm helped Elyna up onto the horse and climbed up to sit behind her. Riding the single horse meant they could change over to the second once his legs were tired and hopefully get back to the capital on the before the poison set in. "Benjamin, you're in charge, finish the mission," the captain decided to delegate and made Heath second in command. "If that bastard makes it to Venora, you string him up by his innards and send a message to VII!" With that, the pair were on their way, split off from the group and racing into the darkness.
Last edited by Malcolm on Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:55 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 520
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It all happened too quickly. Before she could argue with Malcolm and say so much as ‘I think you’re over-reacting,’ realisation sunk in. Kathryn had filled her in about the poison and the marks they’d started searching for in the journey back from Krom. When Malcolm revealed the same on the man who’d landed the injury on her arm she felt her knees weaken beneath her. Instead of dropping though, she took a step back only reluctantly letting Malcolm take hold of her arm to wrap the bandage. She scanned the group, fighting off the urge to vomit. Poison, the blade was poisoned? She was going to die?
Why hadn’t they bought an antidote with them? Why wasn’t the message about this new threat being spread amongst the ranks…or if it was…then perhaps they’d simply change the poison in use? What if it wasn’t the same that had killed Simon? For once, she didn’t argue as she was ordered onto the horse, she was surprised though when he climbed up behind her and focused her gaze forward, flushed with embarrassment. She heard Ember pulling at the tether behind and bit her lip, Katheryn would take care of her horse, she knew that.

The young woman remained mute as they rode, it was, in some ways uncomfortable to be pressed together in such a small space. She was painfully aware of the warmth of his skin and his arms on either side of her. His breath against her neck as she lent forward, urging the poor horse on. She didn’t want to die. She remained quiet until the horse slowed to a walk, breaking up the urgent rush back to the city in stretches of walking and running. The other horse settling into stride beside them.

Stars shone in the cloudless sky overhead between the trees and branches. She could still hear Malcolms heart hammering against his chest, her own had slowed. There was no point panicking. She couldn’t do anything else. Maybe it was the effect of the poison, but she found herself remarkably calm. She lent back, melting a little against his chest before she turned, tucking her head against his shoulder with a sigh.

“Mal…” she murmured, “I don’t want to fight with you.”
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Malcolm stuck to the road, avoiding any bouts across country unless he knew for a fact that they were safe. He was careful with his steering of the animal, leaning gently into corners and giving Elyna warming before any tight or sudden turns. Their journey tonight was fast paced, allowing them to cover a lot more ground than they did during the daylight hours.
After riding a good break and a half, the horse’s coat was wet with sweat and Malcolm thought it time to rest the animal, slowing to a walk so that he could also see how Elyna was doing. The noble woman leaned back against him, headed lulled, touching his shoulder. He felt her soft sigh against his cheek and dipped his chin to glance sideways at the woman. Elyna didn’t want to fight. He closed an arm around her, twisting the reins about the other in order to keep them steady on the horse. Knowing exactly what she meant, Malcolm smiled and turned his head to press his nose against the side of her head, “I might need you too,” he told her, of course this wouldn’t be the same kind of fighting, but Elyna was perceptive enough to understand that.

They soon found a place to stop with water for the horses. Malcolm had decided it was time to switch mounts, but wanted to see how Elyna felt on her feet. Faint, unbalanced, tired, weak, he assumed all of these symptoms would point to poisoning because he himself had experienced them earlier on in the season, almost like being drunk while feeling utterly sick at the same time. “You’re barred from coming on anymore missions with us,” he smiled, trying to lighten the mood or keep Elyna thinking to stop her from growing tired too soon. “If you want to see me from now on it will have to be over a candlelit dinner,” the captain teased and stitched his fingers together to give her a leg up onto their second horse.
Last edited by Malcolm on Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:55 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 348
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Elyna held back her quiet smile, it wasn’t really a laughing matter. She was grateful for the break in the journey and stretched out her legs. Before, when she’d been caught by the arrow she’d had an almighty headache, and she could feel it again, prickling behind her eyes. She lifted a hand to rub across her brow.

He banned her from accompanying them anymore and she shook her head. It was a good job he helped her up on the horse as it seemed a bit taller than Ember, “but I’ll miss you,” she protested, “if your away on a mission, and I’m not allowed to be there…how do I look after you?” Elyna twisted in the seat and gazed up at him. She frowned, maybe she was feeling a little fuzzy. She reached up, and traced the line of his jaw with her fingertips.

“…dinner? Sure…because the last one went so well,” she rolled her eyes and nestled in against him once more. “You’re very warm…”
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Elyna seemed fine on her feet, but it wasn’t until she was back on the horse that Malcolm noticed a few offhand comments that weren’t really in the woman’s nature to say, or at least not to him. Though the captain enjoyed the new closeness and warmth of her words, like honey on a hot day, he knew the toxins in her blood were starting to take effect and that meant they had to hurry. “I’ll take a repeat of that dinner over any mission,” he smiled at her and got the woman to hold onto the horse’s light mane before they set off again.

They rode through the night, arriving at the city gates long before the first fingers of sunlight touched the horizon. Malcolm had managed to keep Elyna awake, but twice he had considered using his gift to take the poison away from her, the fear of her not being able to get him back to the city in the advanced state of poisoning the only thing that had held him back from doing exactly that. The captain gave the horse a final kick, encouraging it to cross the drawbridge at speed, friend in tow, and climb the street into mid-town where they would find the infirmary.
Carefully, he took Elyna down from the horse and carried her into the infirmary, sure she had the strength to use her own feet, but not wanting to risk it, extra movement would cause her heart to work harder and push the poison around her body at an accelerated rate.
“Ser we’re going to have to ask you to leave,” the nurse told him, “spouses and family only during these breaks.”
Malcolm snatched the cold, damp cloth away from the nurse and sat at Elyna’s side, dabbing the sweat away from her brow. “Get the herbalist and a doctor now,” he ordered authoritatively, and without question, the assistant doctor left the room in a hurry, scurrying off to find someone.
The tall knight took the noble woman’s hand and gave a light squeeze. “It’s not too late,” he told her, his voice but a whisper, leaning close to Elyna so that she didn’t have to strain to hear him, “I can take this, I can take the pain.”
Last edited by Malcolm on Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:55 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 396
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