Silence of the Caravans: Planning

Part I of Saga

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Noth
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Silence of the Caravans: Planning

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55th Zi'da, 716

Only a few trials had passed since the twilight hybrid’s last interaction with the man-eater known as Paplo Ynush. He had shown him incredible things, unfathomable abilities that he had not considered even remotely possible, except perhaps by will of the godlings that ruled Idalos. He had offered to keep the man fed if he would work with him during some future projects, and he now found himself thankful that the offer had been made. Feathered fingers played across a piece of paper that had been ripped away from the back of his book of legends. He hadn’t found an adequate quill in his squalor, but he had managed to transcribe at least a somewhat legible letter using the tip of his hunting knife dipped in rabbit’s blood. Admittedly, it held a certain dramatic air to it, and even the process of writing in blood seemed to hint at threat, but realistically Noth was simply too poor to afford a good vial of ink, and had determined that a dead hare would work just as well. Of course, that assumption had been somewhat incorrect, and though the letter should have taken only five bits to draft, it actually took somewhere around thirty.

Of course, the process of delivering the letter held its own challenges as well, but those were expected issues. The twilight hybrid could not simply waltz into Etzos and hand-deliver his message to his newly acquired acquaintance, especially not with the gradual accrued reputation that he seemed to have upon those who laid eyes on him. Instead, he needed to flag down a traveling merchant, or a family of travelers whenever they passed through the woods, calm them down enough so that they didn’t immediately shoot at what they perceived to be a monster, and then ask of them the favor of delivering his message.

He was only shot at once, and he became immensely thankful that he had decided to wear his chainmail hauberk. The family had been reluctant at first, but after determining that he would leave them alone if they promised to carry out his request, they became suddenly far more willing to assist. He had returned home, and began to recall all of the aspects of his grand plan, the scheme that had rattled around inside of his skull for the past few trials. It was true that he made decent enough conversation with the traveling merchants and wanderers who passed through his territory, and for the most part they were left alive and in good health simply because the Avriel needed a line of information to and from the city. He was also quite accustomed to speaking with assorted wandering drunkards, and it was a combination of these two types of people who he had met only four trials prior.

The drunken merchant had spoken to him as if though he were going to tear him apart and eat him, and had cowered so badly that there was little doubt he had wet himself the instant that Noth’s crimson eyes had laid upon him. He had cried out that there was a caravan that would be leaving soon, and that it was a far tastier meal than he was, and to spare him because he had a family and a dog, and they loved him very much, and they would be so terribly saddened if he wasn’t able to go home. Merciful apathy had saved the poor fellows life, along with the fact that he had clearly not been paid in over a week, likely due to his blabbering mouth.

Under usual circumstances, the twilight hybrid tried to keep out of the way of the Etzori, mostly because they presented a viable threat due simply to their proximity to him. If they were satisfied that the monster in the woods wasn’t real, or that it wasn’t causing any true issues, or that it was just a random Etzori citizen who preferred his privacy, then they would leave him alone. If it became apparent that he was some manner of brigand, and that he delighted in creeping through the town to eat orphans, or some other ridiculous notion, then he would have far greater issues. The potential profit far outweighed the risk in this venture, however, especially since the aforementioned caravan seemed to be quite small by all means, and they were an independent venture, not technically owned by the city, albeit probably sponsored by the government.

If the drunkard could be trusted to keep to his word; and honestly that was an important question, then there would be somewhere around ten to a dozen individuals traveling with the caravan. The caravan itself was supposedly transporting some recently excavated gems from the mines of Etzos, as well as a small supply of other miscellaneous goods in case they came across wandering vagabonds or intrepid traders seeking a very specific sort of item.

It would be a difficult fight, but Noth felt confident in his abilities, and with the assistance of Paplo Ynush and the experiences that he brought with his miraculously long life, they had a decent chance of procuring their goal, and not ending up dead on the side of a ditch. With that in mind, the hybrid ensured that his hauberk was worn correctly, and that it was covered over with one of his sets of cotton clothing. He proceeded to gather together his collection of arrows, and his longbow which he strapped over his shoulder whilst he collected his mace and tied it around his waist. He was geared for war, though they would certainly need to gather several more provisions before they departed on their journey.

For example: Noth needed to gather Paplo Ynush.





Last edited by Noth on Sat Dec 31, 2016 11:09 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 975
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As a note: Noth is a Grandmaster in Intimidation. That means that he's at least as scary as the Count from Sesame Street. Beware.

"The tyrant confuses those he can't convince, corrupts those he can't confuse, and crushes those he can't corrupt." - Anonymous
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Silence of the Caravans: Planning

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The teacher’s mind was boggled once he was face to face with the red characters that composed the letter. At first glance one could realize just whom had redacted it, for the dramatic air of the liquid used for its draft was as sinister as the author. Noth, the physically, mentally, and socially flawed Avian Paplo had met trials prior was undoubtedly its author. Having had to bribe a refugee to decipher the letter, Paplo was indeed shocked to discover that said Avian was able to write, and thus read, when Paplo couldn’t. The irony grew once the fact of Paplo’s recent employment as a teacher had made him responsible of the education of the youths, and all of them too could read. Certainly, if he was a lesser man, Paplo would’ve been furious. Being surpassed in skill by that aberration was quite humiliating, indeed.

As Paplo laid in his bed, eyes fixed upon the letter, his sighs repeated themselves again and again, for almost a strange sort of lethargy was taking over him. After their last encounter, Paplo had decided to place some trust upon said Avian, yet now he had a few doubts about the relationship being built with said individual. Befriending mentally uneven individuals was fine, yet trusting them was a completely different matter. Whatever task and proposition Noth had hinted at within his letter would probably revolve around the butchering of the innocent, the raping of horses or the ritualistic blood baths the crimson-eyed Avian seemed to take. Paplo expected nothing less from him, after all. The most irrational and absurd conclusions would surely be part of the Avian’s reality.

Unwilling to share the psychopath’s company for too much time, for perhaps Paplo’s own sane mind could be infected with Noth’s madness, Paplo decided to include the company of Aerlan, a sociopath, to balance the figurative scales. It’s not like the ambience of madness would diminish or be soothed, but at least Aerlan had a sense of logic and common sense Noth’s ideas desperately needed. It felt weird to be the sane one in the little group he’d bring together.

Pushing himself off his bed, Paplo disposed of his suit to instead don the old tattered clothes he still stored. He would rather maintain his suit, which he donned whenever he taught the orphans, untainted from bloody remains, traces of vegetation, and soil stains as long as possible. Once the clothes stolen from flayed, and posteriorly devoured, bodies covered his flesh, Paplo left his place of residence and ventured within the streets.

Outside, the cold was easily felt, to which Paplo hugged his torso as he advanced. The breeze was the worst, of course, and something Paplo had grown to dislike, yet nonetheless had to tolerate. His mind worked on trying to decipher whatever Noth had in mind, and absurd ideas like abducting females were quickly discarded for something more realistic and logical. The mystery was in the air, but a nice twist at the end of the story was always appreciated. Furthemore, it was time to see how the two individuals the Mortalborn interacted with the most mingled with the other, which would be a fun learning experience.

Without knowing where Aerlan resided, Paplo instead placed himself where they had first met, for he suspected said route took him towards his place of employment, and he waited. Whenever the male arrived, Paplo would just ask him to come along to meet somebody, and the trek to Noth’s dark forest would take place. For once, Paplo wished the Avian lived somewhat closer to the city.
word count: 619
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Aerlan
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Silence of the Caravans: Planning

Aerlan found himself wandering the city as was his wont when neither work, study, nor feeding his addiction called to him. His footfalls thudded softly as he was subconsciously headed to the market district. The numerous people present always aroused the one key emotion he felt: curiosity. The way they walked, spoke, various forms of body language. It was always so fascinating. Each person unique in a way, even when they all fit in categories. Searching for that difference was what kept him watching those creatures that he would just as well Flay for the power they provided.

”That is their only true purpose, afterall. I don’t see why you watch them. Do you watch cattle in the same way?” The shadow stayed invisible but Aerlan felt the gaze of his Harvester. And ignored it.

The cold Zi’da breeze caressed him and every so often would stop and flow slowly, ruffling his black hair, before moving on. During such moments, the smallest flicker of a twitch in his left mouth would arise. It was the closest he ever came to smiling. As always, the Elements never let him fall into that one crucial emotion that arose from the emptiness within him: loneliness. Cold, heartless, and utterly without compassion. These may be true. But the Elements always tried to keep a certain part of him alive. If Aerlan could feel thankfulness, then he would. Instead, his subconscious merely gave a passing nod at the elemental hug and moved on with his life.

His footsteps brought him closer to the location he had met one of his only companions in Etzos. The same scent of a killer hit his senses as he approached. His eyes opened slightly wider in what he assumed would be a close mimicry of surprise. In the same spot they had met stood Paplo Ynush. Aerlan smirked without humor and closed in on the man from the blind spot. The Eidisi was curious as to how well-attuned his comrade was with this particular faucet of their senses. He approached as silently as his furred boots would allow, his Harvester chuckling with humor in place of his emotionless partner.
Last edited by Aerlan on Sun Jan 08, 2017 9:38 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 370
"Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world... No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it. A man is to carry himself in the presence of all opposition, as if every thing were titular and ephemeral but he. I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"
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Silence of the Caravans: Planning

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Paplo dealt with cold the same way he dealt with hunger – he just kept his mouth closed and did not allow himself to howl out dirges for the skies. He often dreamed of running off somewhere warm, where the darkness never came and the temperatures were forever warm, and yet his path always brought him somewhere cold, full of snow, and always surrounded him with mentally unstable individuals. Were he not as perfect as he was, Paplo would’ve surely perished a long time ago. To combat the cold, Paplo often rubbed his chest with his hands, even if his arms were freezing. Limbs he could perhaps regenerate – an experiment he wasn’t brave enough to conduct just yet – but disease was still a thing. Last time he had gotten a cold he had been sneezing his intestinal tract all over the place.

The wait seemed to take forever, and Paplo was about to give up on his pretentious attempt to locate the Eidisi. He was curious to see how said blue-skinned individual got along with Noth, or at least how long until both of them tried to kill one another. None of them would win, of course, for if they proved to be incapable of functioning within a small group, Paplo would be safer if he ate them both. He would also be more satisfied.

Unfortunately for Aerlan, his sinner’s aura was not something that could be hid from the senses, and a creature as careful – if not paranoid – as Paplo easily felt it. His eyes looked left and right, and after squinting, he made sure there was no blue individual down the street. There were some citizens, however, so his safety was guaranteed. For a moment, Paplo hesitated in turning around, for Vuda had the same aura yet his power was far superior to Aerlans’. Unwilling to be chained and displayed like an animal once again, Paplo turned around.
“I did not imagine you were the kind to enjoy sniffing hair,” said Paplo after a sigh. “With your recent attempt, however, I am now convinced you regularly stalk on females in order to satisfy your rather disturbing kink.”
Paplo smirked, and signaled with his head towards whence the Eidise came.
“Come on, I have been waiting on you for a while now.” As Paplo walked, he felt the cold somewhat fade, especially when he increased the pace of his gait. “You need to disclose where you reside if you wish to enjoy my company more often, my friend. I will no longer await your azure presence to casually traverse the street, especially now that the cold is seriously advancing upon us. Do you bring coin? I could really use a cloak, you know…”

Despite both of them really lacking any sort of sympathy for the other, there was mutual benefit to their relationship. Trust was not present in the equation of their alliance. Nonetheless, Paplo still treated him as he would treat any friend – or, at least, how he had imagined friend treat friends. Jests, sex jests, and constant demand of favors is what friendship was.
“I want you to meet an acquaintance of mine. According to his latest message, he has a proposition he believes will be profitable in some sort of way. I believed you’d be interested.” Paplo breathed into his palms, rubbing them together. “You will find that, despite him being somewhat unique and special in various ways, he is very useful and skilled in what he does. Unfortunately, and to compensate for these good traits of his, he takes residence within the nearby forest, and so we have to fight the cold for approximately ten bits. Are you interested?”
word count: 625
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Silence of the Caravans: Planning

”HA! As if you would know what a kink was, or even what to do with a woman. Should I use shadow puppets to explain, brother?” Glaren cackled lightly, but just loud enough that Paplo might hear him. I know how sexual reproduction works, as you know. His thought was fired back with a hint of annoyance. The Harvester merely chuckled all the more.

Aerlan had stopped abruptly upon realizing his failure at stealth. It came as no surprise. He had never been one for physical excellence. Part of him knew it was a glaring weakness that he should work on. His growing aptitude with magic did not make him all powerful. Any enemy would find the stereotypical mage weakness and exploit it. That, however, was a thought for another day. The conversation drew him back to reality.

Aerlan faked his best smile at his companion’s jests, but had no idea how to retort. That was yet a social ability beyond his reach. Mimicking Paplo further would at least make it less obvious. “My apologies, Paplo. I have yet to memorize the address, but I know how to get there. I will show you the way when time allows.”

His ears pricked at the mention of coin and his belt’s weight became overwhelming in his mind. Charitable was not a description that would ever be attested to this Eidisi, nor would Aerlan ever want to be so unless there was purpose to it. It didn’t take a lot of thought to see a purpose for this instance. He could not have his companion suffer from cold and the cost of a cloak was fair recompense for any future dealings or inclusions in nefarious, yet prolific, schemes. Keeping his hands and coin pouch within the folds of his wolf-skin cloak, Aerlan pulled 5 GN, doing his best not to show how much he truly had on hand.

Aerlan handed the coins over with a shrug as he listened to the rest of Paplo’s words. “The cold is my domain. I may falter if you ever mention heat, though. Of course I am interested if profit or power are the rewards. Please, lead on…my friend.” With a fake smile and a gesture, Aerlan indicated for Paplo to lead on to the meeting with this most mysterious of beings.

Wonder if he’ll be tasty?

If Paplo hasn’t eaten him, then I doubt it. Profitable is of greater worth than just fuel, brother. Keep yourself in check.

Shove it, blue boy. Being around your friend always makes me hungrier. And I know the desire bubbles within you too.

Aerlan shifted uncomfortably at the truth of the statement, his eyes alighting upon his companion, and the thought of Flaying teased him ever so much.
word count: 474
"Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world... No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it. A man is to carry himself in the presence of all opposition, as if every thing were titular and ephemeral but he. I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"
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Silence of the Caravans: Planning

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Paplo’s smile was shining for the world, for he no longer felt cold. Wrapped up in his brand new cloak, purchased by a quick detour and paid by Aerlan, Paplo’s satisfaction could not be any greater. For once, he hadn’t had to murder anyone for it, and the fabric currently lacked any sort of stains. Order and cleanness were important for the Mortalborn.

Advancing through the cold was easier for the body, but not so easy for the feet, for soon enough the Outer Perimeter grew distant, and the roads had come to a halt. First came the tricky terrain of the deforested areas, full of dead wood stumps that caused a man to zig zag in order to advance. However, at least the soil was compressed and easy to advance through, which offered some comfort. When the trees began rising tall, however, the problem of the zig-zagging was worsened, for the soil was tricky, the roots were abundant, and the bushes and uneven terrains made the advance of the pair quite the task.

Paplo was panting already, grunting every so often as his mood worsened – or he portrayed it as worsening, if one wished to be precise. He did his best to protect his garment from the various obstacles he encountered, attempting to save it from evil branches or damp rocks, for they plotted the demise of his cloak.
“Shouldn’t be too far now,” said Paplo at last, looking back towards his blue companion. He stood out a lot against the brown and green of the forest. “Can’t be very certain, though. This damned forest looks all the same to me. That bird is too ugly to even show himself by the city gates without being shot at…”

Some rocks interrupted their current path, and so a detour was taken yet again. It seemed as if the presence of rocks was increasing, which meant the caves wouldn’t be too far. Right?
“Now, considering you’ve never met him before, allow me to, ugh,” Paplo balanced himself over a rock before advancing both his position and his words. “Tell you what to expect. First, don’t look at him the wrong way. Better yet, avoiding staring towards him. Avoid laying eyes upon him. If you do, don’t comment on how ugly he happens to be. He would probably attempt to return the insult quite unsuccessfully, and he’ll try again and again until he succeeds.”

In the distance a small conglomeration of rocks was spotted. They were getting close, indeed.
“You may see a body or two in his proximity. That is very common, and mentioning it is pointless. He does not share our trait, although he is aware of it being present in me. I’m uncertain about his current mental status, or his mood for that matter, so I would suggest listening to his proposition and just nodding.” Paplo scoffed. “Hopefully, we will leave without any arrows lodged into our flesh.”

At last, the cave entrance was spotted. Paplo rose his arms, and called out towards it.
“It’s me, comrade!” he yelled towards the cave entrance. “Don’t shoot the blue individual – he’s with me, err-- us!”

Looking towards his blue partner, Paplo shrugged. “Let’s go in. Hopefully we won’t run into any trap – or, at least, not a lethal one.”
word count: 572
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Silence of the Caravans: Planning

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Gathering together the necessary supplies for the journey proved to be far less boring than the Avriel had originally imagined. At first, it had simply been a chore of tossing together a few items, and of then ensuring that they had been packaged successfully enough for the journey, but soon it had turned into determining which items were the best quality to bring along on their expedition, and how they should compensate for weight and other factors. The twilight hybrid had planned to rent out a pair of horses for their journey, and since it was relatively nearby, he hoped that his meagre funds would be capable of ensuring that part of his plan. The pair of horses were unlikely to be the mighty riding steeds of knights and other mounted warriors, though it seemed fairly likely that they would be sturdy and strong-backed enough to hold a fair amount of weight.

He gathered together a single barrel, hoisting it upon his back and carrying it closer to the entrance of his cavernous home, allowing it to be seen even from the outside due to the light which bled inside. It wasn’t terribly heavy, only perhaps a dozen pounds or so, but it would prove to be somewhat difficult to carry if they were forced to embark upon their quest on foot. Worst case scenario they could always attempt to steal a set of horses, and then simply return afterwards and attempt to settle matters with a quick bribe or a quick knife; either option worked perfectly well for the violent hybrid.

The meat that he had managed to gather into the container was still mostly fresh, having only been torn from its host’s body a trial prior to its current status. Remarkably, this had not been a beast that he had hunted down and killed as was his customary dish, but instead he had discovered a partially mauled corpse and decided to simply not waste the leftovers. Removing the pieces of meat that had already been infested with maggots hadn’t taken terribly long, and despite his better judgment he had even tried one of the wriggling worms for the sake of learning how they tasted. Admittedly, they didn’t necessarily taste any worse than basic raw flesh, but there was something about the way they wriggled whilst in one’s mouth that was an immediate turn off.

Horse meat being carried by horses brought a slight smile to the Avriel’s features, and he glanced inside the barrel to ensure that none of the meat had been affected once more by the ravenous flies and their dreadful squirming offspring. The pair of eyes that glared out of the container at him were somewhat unnerving at first, but after having seen them a few times at this point, he had determined that they were just another piece of flesh in a pile.

Other important items that needed to be taken along with them were spare clothes and perhaps even a couple of toiletries for their journey, though they could probably find extras among the caravan after they had been annihilated. He decided to take three sets of clothes with him in case some were damaged in the fighting, or rendered unusable by rain or snow or muck. He also ensured that he was carrying enough arrows to do his work, though he left a couple behind for the sake of having some to spare if he were to lose his current inventory to some unknown means.

In short, he had managed to pack for himself with a small amount leftover to share with his hopefully inbound companion, though his innate selfishness made that at least somewhat less likely than one would have hoped between the supposed allies. He cast a glance back at sleeping Vern, who still lay upon her nest of dried grasses and a blanket which assisted in maintaining her warmth. It had taken some intense decision making on his part to come to terms with leaving her behind for several trials at a time, especially with the dreadful cold already nipping at the both of them, but he felt that the rewards were simply too great to pass up. Besides, she was safe enough so long as she remained within the cave, protected by the set of spikes that he had set up outside the entrance. A pile of food had been left to her, though the quality of it wasn’t exactly sublime. It was difficult to feed birds once all of the fruits and vegetation had dried away under the wintery conditions, but he tried his best to ensure that she would be safe for his eventual return.

There was the hint of noise outside, and it drew his attention immediately. Crimson eyes peered out from the obscuring shadows, watching the silhouettes of two individuals step into his home, easily bypassing the defenses that had been left to keep out only wild animals. The voice of his companion was easily heard, shouting out his identity for the murderous bird to hear. He immediately recalled the manner in which Nightshade Eld had announced herself in a similar manner upon her last visit, and wondered whether it was some manner of trend that had been fluttering about Etzos to scream one’s identity, or perhaps whether they felt fearful enough of him that they wished to sate his temper in order to negotiate terms.

“You know, when I drafted my letter in rabbit’s blood, I had not truly intended that you would draft a peer in response. You say that he is with us, and by that I must infer that you intend for him to join us. I do not work with strangers that I know nothing about, for such things simply invite disaster, though if you are a friend of Paplo’s, then I shall endeavor to meet you with words instead of weapons.”

The twilight hybrid stepped from the shadows, revealing his monstrous form to the blue-skinned man.

“Speak your name and why I ought to grant you entrance.” He ordered, his voice relatively calm, though with an undertone of threat clearly present. The hauberk that he wore upon his chest rattled quietly, giving a clear alert to the fact that he wore armor. The question had been worded towards Aerlan, though his crimson eyes drifted to Ynush as well, searching for an answer from him if one should arise in behalf of the blue-skinned man.


word count: 1096
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As a note: Noth is a Grandmaster in Intimidation. That means that he's at least as scary as the Count from Sesame Street. Beware.

"The tyrant confuses those he can't convince, corrupts those he can't confuse, and crushes those he can't corrupt." - Anonymous
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Silence of the Caravans: Planning

Oooooh! An ugly, little bird. I bet he tastes like chicken, brother. Punch a hole in his chest and give me his soul before he dies. We have yet to Flay one of his ilk.

Aerlan ignored the Harvester's words with only the slightest flicker of a smirk showing at the corner of his mouth. Stepping down from his horse, Aerlan took two steps forward and faced his inquisitor without emotion on his face and the dead look of a Frayed in his eyes. He quickly adjusted his thick, winter furs and looked upon Noth. The creature was indeed grotesque, more monster than man by looks of him. Harsh words were spoken from a dark demeanor. Perhaps it was caution? Maybe it was the resort of solitude from being outcast? Surely few would look upon this Avriel and desire close proximity. It was possible that the Avriel was just downright unpleasant as a person. It made no matter to him. His blank eyes merely studied the creature known as Noth. Just another curiosity. Yes, yes. A curiosity in that you should feed me his soul and let me know what Avriel tastes like! Aerlan nearly rolled his eyes.

"Aerlan," he spoke in his usual monotone, ignoring the hint of a threat the question had been asked in.

Opting for action instead of words, Aerlan held his right hand out to his side, palm down. Breathing in and out with measured breaths, ether poured from Aerlan and into the earth beneath his feet. Come to me, my protector. Just a small measure... He called out to the dirt beneath him, and to the rock beneath that. The Frayed had never heard Earth speak in the same way as the other elements. It hummed. Mere moments passed before that deep hum of music sang out to his ears. The ground beneath his feet shook gently until it built into a small quake. Horses whinnied in fright behind him but Aerlan paid them no heed.

From the earth slowly arose a high-backed, grey stone chair. Dirt cascaded off sloped edges and the rounded top while Aerlan pulled back his hand. As the small quake subsided, an intense stare poured from his eyes and the Eidisi pushed both arms out with palms up. The ground rumbled slightly once more and two sharpened, five foot pillars of stone shot up, angled at the birdman. A cursory glance was tossed at the seat and Aerlan gave a humph of displeasure. Closing his eyes and letting go of his connection to the earth with a pulse of thanks, Aerlan transferred the flow of ether to the wind around him. Immediately, the wind gusted and blew about his hair and furs chaotically. With a flick of his hand, the mage focused the channeling of his ether and the wind towards the stone chair. Dirt was flown into the air to fall as it would, effectively cleaning the seat. Opening his eyes and releasing the magic, Aerlan seated himself and smirked.

Oh lovely. You can play in the dirt and get your hair fluffed. That should impress him. You know, you could have just destroyed a tree or melted one of the horses. That'd have shown a bit more oomph , you know? Aerlan's face remained focused on the Avriel. I will not reveal you to these men yet.
word count: 570
"Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world... No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it. A man is to carry himself in the presence of all opposition, as if every thing were titular and ephemeral but he. I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"
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Limbo
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Silence of the Caravans: Planning

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Once Aerlan introduced himself, Paplo limited to staring from the side how the crafted himself a chair from nothingness. There was clear amazement in his eyes, which were wide agape – much like his maws. Paplo had stepped aside at the beginning, as if afraid of some sort of explosion or violent occurrence to be given birth from the arcane, yet that tension quickly disappeared and left only that apparent awe.

“Can you make a bed and soft blankets?” asked Paplo, quietly, only for Aerlan to hear. The question did not appear to be rhetorical at first, yet it became so once his attention returned towards Noth.

“I hope this more than admirable demonstration has appeased to your kind nature, Noth. You see, when the letter you speak of came to my hands, I found more than half of the contents have smeared on the parchment – much similarly to how your unfortunately victims’ blood smears within your cavern walls.” Paplo took a dubious step forth, glancing back towards Aerlan with that same mixture of confusion and astonishment. Was he going to float towards the cavern door now? Anything was possible.

“Furthermore, how exactly should I have delivered the response letter? Should I have told the courier to approach that dark, gloomy, and quite terrifying hole in the rock, from whence terrifying screams of a thousand victims give soundtrack to the silent hunting grounds that stand before it, with a letter in hand? I lack the payment to hire such amount of courage, Noth. Finally, I would’ve surely struggled to reason if the courier should’ve also brought along live tributes to satisfy the prince of eternal mercies.” Paplo appeared to come into his senses, offering a quick apologetic smile. “No offense meant, my good friend. This is a lovely and very cozy home.”

In case Aerlan hadn’t followed just yet, Paplo would spin on his heels and quite obviously gesture him near. Otherwise, he would otherwise glance behind him, making sure he was nearby.

“At any rate, I drug my good companion Aerlan here present for the sake of whatever enterprise you’ve got planned. We’ve traversed the cold, tossed snots in the soil, and panted to circle the many obstacles your home’s vast grounds held for us. I bestow my trust upon him, and thus let us not waste any more time. Shelter us from the cold, and speak your proposition, my good friend.”
word count: 415
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Noth
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Silence of the Caravans: Planning

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The blue-skinned man answered without the slightest hint of provocation or fear, an intriguing phenomenon, though not one that was completely unheard of by the twilight hybrid. Crimson eyes settled upon watery flesh as they outstretched a single hand, directing it towards the ground. There was little doubt that he would soon be performing some manner of trick, and whilst Noth was somewhat uncertain as to what that might be, he had met Paplo Ynush, and was now far more familiar with his manner of oddity. That vague familiarity allowed him to keep some of his fascination under control, at least enough of it so that it didn’t show through the feathery guise worn upon his face.

There was the gentlest rumbling under his feet, and Noth glanced down towards his own talons, observing the way that loose pieces of rock and dirt shuffled about upon the ground, as if though they were being tossed to and fro by the wind or by a faint gale. Gradually, there in front of him appeared an arising stone that quickly solidified its form into that of a chair. There was a dead-eyed stare that seemed to emanate out from the fellow, and a moment later a pair of sharpened pillars jutted forth from the ground, directing themselves towards the Avriel who quickly took a step backwards to ensure that his own safety was preserved. He studied fear enough to recognize it within himself, but he also knew that to admit any of that to strangers would be a death sentence, especially when dealing with the ilk that Ynush likely associated. He calmed himself, realizing a moment later that his armor likely would have stopped any piercing attempt by the stone anyways, and that his reaction was utterly unnecessary.

Nonetheless, they would be expecting a reaction from him, and so without further ado the Avriel gave a gentle clap as if though he had just observed some manner of theatrical performance. The Eidisi settled himself upon the chair, still keeping his eyes locked upon his avian host. Meanwhile, Noth directed his attention towards Paplo Ynush or Mamnon who appeared to have been amazed by the spectacle given his current wide-mouthed expression. He whispered some vague triviality into the ear of the Eidisi, but it was difficult to understand and thusly ignored by the hybrid who took it only to be some manner of compliment of his ability.

Ynush spoke quickly, taking his opportunity to use his fantastic acting skills to charm the dark bird. He stated that he hoped the demonstration would appeal to his kind nature, a sentence that merely made the Avriel chuckle. When had he ever been kind? When had the tenants of mercy and compassion ever crossed his black heart? Surely, Ynush could appeal to something greater than some ridiculous falsity, some lying notion as to his personality. Perhaps he had grown less capable during his time with the ‘worms’ of society, perhaps his feasting sessions had contaminated his mental state, and rendered him the curse of emotion.

Noth hadn’t truly considered the difficulties that might have been associated with writing a letter in rabbit’s blood, though it had been a case in practicality as opposed to an attempt at sending a subliminal message, and thus he simply shrugged at the mention of the words smearing together.

“I suppose it matters little what the message contained, for I see now that you have arrived nonetheless.”

Ynush continued, discussing how he might have delivered a letter of response should that have been his course of action. It was true that his very abode cast a certain manner of terror about itself, and it certainly didn’t help matters that the sole inhabitant of the structure was a monstrous being himself. It would have been difficult to convince any messenger to brave the dangers they foresaw, and even then it would have cost far more than Ynush was likely able to spend. It was a far easier course simply to arrive, and to discuss the subject matter he had offered in his letter. There was a hint of humor that filled his soul as Mamnon mentioned bringing along live tributes to satisfy the prince of eternal mercies. That had been the title he had taken upon saving the seeming immortal from a band of kidnappers, and it seemed as though it had left some manner of mark upon the man. Curious, at the time it had simply been a statement uttered to amplify the fear being thrust upon the trio, but now he saw that it perhaps was a far better title than simply ‘Monster’ or ‘Murderer’.

“I am not so terribly vain that I do not recognize that I live within a hole in stone, nor do I deceive myself into thinking it is a luxurious place. Fret not that you insult me somehow by uttering truths, because I prefer them far more than deceptive lies. Now then, you have brought your companion Aerlan to me, and whilst that does change my arrangements ever so slightly, I will gladly have one as talented as him along with us. Enter, and I will speak.” He gestured towards his home, inviting the pair inside as he stepped in himself.

Vern perked up at the entrance of the pair, though the reassuring presence of her master allowed her to settle back into his nest, cautiously observing the pair for signs of aggression so that she might assail them with her mighty goose abilities.

“You see, I have located a caravan and its route has been revealed to me. It is an independent business, but it carries gems that have been mined out of Etzos to some of the surrounding settlements and cities. It will be passing only a few trials ride from here, and I am under the impression that is not as heavily guarded as the officially sanctioned caravans brought forth from Etzos. Surely, men such as yourself can understand the vast wealth that can be gained from striking upon such a vulnerable target, and thus I offer a business proposal: You shall assist me in gaining these treasures, and in return we shall all share them among ourselves, the precious spoils of our actions.”

All the while, crimson eyes glared menacingly at the pair, attempting to ascertain whether either of them possessed any illusions of betrayal passing through their eyes.




word count: 1082
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Credit to Pegasus


As a note: Noth is a Grandmaster in Intimidation. That means that he's at least as scary as the Count from Sesame Street. Beware.

"The tyrant confuses those he can't convince, corrupts those he can't confuse, and crushes those he can't corrupt." - Anonymous
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