Pleasant Confusion and Peaceful Contemplation (1 Viewer)

Moolight

Member

The campfire of her most recent stay crackles up into a dark and star-dotted sky. An unclouded spattering of light so far away and out of reach... Yet not everything eludes her grasp. Sheltered by the makeshift roof and a bed of hay, Avos has already settled down for the night. Her hound rests with his head against her thigh and while he watches the makeshift hearth, she does not. Instead, Quince sits with a staff laid across her lap, and in one hand her finger traces the grooves of a four leaf clover gently, the note open beneath it. The tokens, while certainly not unwelcome, draw a note of confusion to the woman's face, her brows drawn together slightly. Decades on the Road, decades aspiring to the word-of-mouth and seldom-written traditions of the Traveler... She has often kept to herself, just as consequence of drifting around so ceaselessly. If these were... merely left by someone, who? Who knows of the path she walks...

"... 'M reading too much into this," she mutters, pulling a hand up through her hair. The silence broken- Peak perks an ear and glances up to her and in return, the woman offers a faint smile, going to scratch between his ears. "Don't worry, buddy. You're all good..." Quince lifts the staff and turns it once clockwise before leaning it up against the side of her tent. The clover and the note still in hand, to which he gives a curious sniff, then looks back up to her. She smiles. "Does it confuse you too? ...'S alright. We'll get it figured out, yeah? You, me, Avos..." Her gaze turns up to the stars. The desert has such a stark sky... unlike any other in the world. As endless and wide as the wanderlust that pulls her to the Road. Some more brightly than others and in her time, Quince's eyes automatically go to paint connections between them- seeing the shining sparks as towns and cities, the darkness the woodland and roads between them and not for the first time, she wonders if that is what the Traveler sees of their world. Just pricks of light, of mankind, cast against a dark field... Wisps of clouds making the roads between. "... 'M probably missing something crucial that would make this... entirely mundane.-that someone just left these and... really, they have nothing to do with you. Maybe 'm just hoping for too much, yeah?" Quince chuckles, mostly to herself though Peak gives her an encouraging nudge.

A silence passes, and she sighs lightly. "I know you're out there..." Addressing the Traveler, as she so often has in the space between dinner and rest... Quince tucks the clover away and sets the note aside, placing a pebble over it to keep the desert winds from blowing it away. Pulls an odd knob of wood from her pocket and takes her carving knife to being working it into a familiar design, much like the tokens she has already made in her spare time such as this. Time to reflect, time to ask into the silence, time to wonder with hope if she will be able to still travel when she gets older and grayer than she already is. Not quite grizzled yet, but, on her way. ".. I know that even though you don't say anything... you're out there... Dear Fellow Traveler... ...the comforting silence on the Road... In the gentle reassurance of not being alone in the flats and crags that stretch between the edges of society..." Small curls of wood are shaved off and fall onto her lap as she works at the wood. ".. Don't worry, I won't be staying in the desert wrong... but I like to think your Road brought me here for the reason these people currently face... snakes that threaten their freedom, their will to travel... beings that make the desert dangerous. ...I've resolved to stay until I've helped them, then move on again..." Quince smiles gently as the rough outline of a horse begins to form in her carving. "You have taught me well, and I have long since left behind the idea of seeking anchors..."

Her gaze roves off to the staff, the note, the clover.. Then down to the faintly green amulet she has worn for.. as long as she can remember. Or to the familiar weight of the beaten compass in her pocket. "... Is this your doing, or another who.. understands... ... ...I don't expect an answer, but if it is you, then... thank you..." Her heart warms much like the fire that lights her face and her work. "...Thank you, because... I've often wondered if it's ever noticed... I know I've made no big or grand gestures.. I'm not a preacher, and you're not a war god... the Road isn't a place for bold actions really.. it's just something you stick with, yeah? Defend it, respect it, get by, go along... but I do try... I do try to be worthy of.. getting to some day walk your footsteps.. walk alongside you. Wishful thinking, yeah? ...maybe so.." Quince pauses, looking to the rough coin shape now in her hands- a bit larger than one would actually trade with, but the design, though simple, is recognizable. She runs a thumb over its face, then the other. Is this praying? Probably not... more casual, more of a conversation... and not of religion but of faith. Nothing rigid.

Comforting.

And comfort on as rough a path of life as the Road is a beautiful, wonderful thing. Her fingers close over the token before she tucks it into her pocket, sheathes the knife, and takes up the note. Turning it over to write very simply for whoever or whatever might have left the clover an the walking stick-

Thanks,

The Vagrant
34976




((@ Whoever the heck left 'Oklamat's Luck' and 'Bethezael's Walking Staff' outside her camp))
 

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Moolight

Member

Another long night falls upon the woman as she has found a reply to her previous note, as well as yet again the bounty of the Road laid at her doorstep- tent-step? Ruin-steps? One of those. It gives her plenty of thoughts and a warmth in her chest that no campfire could instill. As the stars creep across the sky and the moon makes its slow crawl, the cloudless expanse gazing down once again... She hums softly to herself, letting the crackling campfire die down to nearly embers. Peak eats happily at the gift the Traveler- or whoever it might be- left him. A hefty steak, a dog's dream. Dinner has already been cooked, her own finished- a salmon, simply cooked and for which she is thankful. Of everything she has done in her life, Quince could still never manage to get the swing of fishing...

Curls not of wood but of ivory fall around her, Quince's blade very carefully working away at an old bit of whalebone she'd come across some time back. Kept telling herself she would do something with it.. since she has practiced her carving with the tokens, she feels confident enough to finally work at it... Slowly but surely, a shallow outline of a satyr-like figure is formed as she hums a gentle tune to herself and her hound. Avos, always the good steed he is, has once again gone to sleep for the night, leaving the old duo awake beneath the stars. Eventually, Peak finishes and comes to rest with his large head over one leg, his own tucked beneath him. Seems to enjoy the tune. Avaltan- an old herding-call a farmer taught her the last time she was up north. Her knife moves in slow, steady strokes over the material, making a bar relief, much like one would place on a coin... of Bethezael, walking along down a roughly-depicted road holding a staff not unlike the one resting against the nearby wall now.

A light sigh escapes the woman as she sets the whalebone and knife aside to stretch her hands, let her fingers rest... Thoughts wandering as the Avaltan song fades, its foreign notes lingering on the desert breeze. Another note left for her,- two this time, now, and she reaches over to grasp the walking stick and lay it over her lap. Wanderlust grips her- not that it doesn't always, but this is the kind that is.. refreshing. It hits you in the face like rain and leaves you wanting for the petrichor when the storm is over. But she doesn't want the storm to be over.. no, Quince's grasp tightens slightly, knowing full well how she would dance in the rain for years.- how she has done exactly that... And thus her mind wanders further, to the... obscure dinner she had. Again, getting hit with a refreshing burst of rain.- the salmon, a welcome treat for dinner... and a time long forgotten that graced her evening...


The gentle lilting tones of a low-hummed tune sound from a small tent propped up under a pine tree... a foggy and rainy night turning the whole world damp and chill in the forests north of Al'Sel. Theoretically, it's summer. Theoretically... The girl- and at this point in time, she is a girl- sits under the sagged eaves of her tent, trying to get her campfire to light. It occupies a sad, sheltered hollow from the rain, but collecting dry wood hell and a half. And to KEEP it dry was a whole separate issue. She sits back from it with a huff, glaring at it. This has been her first winter on the Road... No money but what she made from carving little things and selling what she could from her hunts.


An old wooden talisman rests against her check as she looks to the campfire-in-progress. She'd gotten it to smoldering. It was almost there, she knew it. Just a matter of sticking with it without her arms getting tired. The girl sighs and falls quiet, listening to the rain patter against her tent.. And the steady rhythm of it calms her, surprisingly. Bring peace, even a smile. This is what she signed up for. This is her life now, and damnit, she WILL get that campfire going. Quince wraps her gloved hands around the talisman and begins speaking softly into the falling night.

"... Uhm.. hey there, Traveler. I know my mother said I'm not supposed to ask the gods for things, or pray just when I need something, and I promise I won't... But just this once can you lend me a bit of luck, Dear Traveler. See, I need to get this fire going or I'll get sick tonight from the cold... and I like the Road so far. I don't want to have to step off it soon. By your luck and legends, I hope to walk your Road until my hair is all grey like Gran's." The girl smiles gently and.. waits in silence... after a bit mutters, "...Whether or not you listen, thank you Oklamat... I trust you.."

Cracking her knuckles, the girl sets back to her tinderboard and the collection of twigs- logs collected earlier to be put on the fire once it's going.. She sets to it, resting her thumbs in the twine tied over and through a notch atop her small stick against the board- two loops on either side. The tinder and some curls of wood shavings rest at the base around the stick. Quince puts pressure on it and begins moving back and forth rapidly, the friction beginning to draw a wisp of smoke. The fledgling huntress is filled with hope, then anticipation- and finally, triumph as light flickers at the base of her stump of wood, the smoke now curling in earnest. It takes and the most beautiful sound graces her ears, mingling with the rain- the crackling of the beginnings of the fire. Gently, she transfers these to her makeshift hearth, and thus is graced by the golden glow and warmth of such.

"... Thank you..." Even if it wasn't Oklamat, even if the Traveler wasn't watching way back then... it still gave her some measure of joy...


And when the memory had faded, Quince was returned to the desert and her dinner... now she looks upon a campfire after nightfall, and the thought lingers with her... how endurance and faith are likely what saved her on those long cold nights... gave her the will to keep going. They still do. They still drive her, as her bones grow old and she finds it funny now to be living her childhood dream... Old and grey and still on the Road. makes for an interesting story, no? With everything she has seen...


Another note is left in reply for whoever is bringing her these fortunes and favors.- longer, and with something to reciprocate. Only polite, no? Thus a scrawl is pegged up and a satchel beneath it with a bottle of a foreign wine she'd had the good fortune of finding, to save for special occasion, and a minic flute. Both interesting in their own way, both tokens of her time on the Road.


"Thanks for the food and the wineglass. Peak certainly enjoyed his meal, and reminiscing was welcome... Here I've left some gifts for you as well. I hope you will enjoy these, from my own time traveling. Drink in good health, play in high spirits.
- 34996



(( @ Whoever left the steak for Peak, the salmon, and the wineglass, find the items posted in-game.))
 

Moolight

Member

"When you lose someone... people try to tell you they're gone forever. That it's not your fault, that you can't change anything.. And you should just let it go.." The huntress rubs her fingers gently between Peak's ears, the hound sat beside her.. a ways off from the camp, the small fire only background noise to the vast white sound of breeze subtly shifting the northern desert sands. For miles around, asides from the campfire, that's the only sound... No longer in Mutajara, but off on the Road again. She needed a few days to get away. She built, as far as she knows, the first shrine to the Traveler in this world... Now sitting atop one of the mesa flats, she thinks... "... Fifty years I've been around, Peak... give or take. You haven't been here for most of it, hell you haven't even been here for the darkest of it..." Her gaze turns up to the stars, little flecks of light splattered almost carelessly across the sky. No reason, no order... and they're perfectly beautiful. Chance taken to the wind, to the sky itself.

The breeze that shifts the sands winds its way up to grace over the camping pair. A pair of dice sit on the grass beside her, another token left behind by this mysterious wanderer who has been exchanging little bits and pieces of the Road with her. She drapes an arm around her hound and scratches under his neck. "People say 'let the dust settle'... 'let it fade'. Walk away." Quince pauses, then shakes her head. "... I honestly think... that's the worst way to treat someone who was close to you. Someone you cared for.- Because it's all we are, isn't it. We're just collections of memories.. tied up in meat and string and sent out into the world to make more. ...Life is experience." Quince falls quiet for a time, wondering how to word this. Not that she expects Peak to understand, but she needs to know how to say it, for her own sake. To settle her own nerves. To speak her understanding into the darkness... and hope that the Traveler might hear. Hope that she isn't alone. Maybe she's just getting old, and wants some hope... maybe she just wants to know for herself that her life hasn't been for nothing. Is this her justification? Her plea for atonement for what she has done? Finally, her mouth opens and she speaks into the darkness.- to the stars, to Peak, to the Traveler, to ... whatever might be listening.

"...You can't sit somewhere and read about life.. that's what makes it so special... there's no way to truly capture in record what it was like- what impact someone made, how they made others feel. That goes beyond ink, my friend. ...Even the stars can't write that sort of thing down. The Traveler knows of course... I wouldn't put it past Him to know every step that has been made by the vagrants and wanderers of the world. But the people here below who treat it as something so ordinary... something that can be summed up in a few words and processes and put in the ground like it's nothing... ...You know why... I felt wrong felling those marauders... because as much as I loathe was they signify... as much as I despise the trouble they make for good, honest people on the Roads... They're important too, to the people they knew. Every life is a story and... I've never had any power, any authority... I have no right, no place, to script the end of theirs. I have no right to decide when their final chapter closes... ...and for that, I hope Oklamat sees the intentions beyond the acts... to make somewhere safe for His merchants and vagrants, to make the paths just a bit easier to tread... Do you know how I apologize to them, Peak? ...How I make it up to them... ...I never forget them. I never forget their faces. They deserve at least that..."


"So, in a way... 'moving on'... that's the worst thing you can do, isn't it? Forget them... We die twice, Peak... Once when the breath leaves our bodies and for the final time... when he last person who really knew us... says our name for the last time." ...And thus in the silence begins to slowly arise in the woman a reminder of what she fears. She turns her gaze down from the stars, down and out to the dark path of the road wound through the sands and red stone. A dark figure walks along it, staff in hand- then she blinks, and they're gone, and her shoulders fall slightly. "The Road is a beautiful place to live,.. that does not make it a beautiful place to die. Unless... you are very, very lucky... and there's someone there to die with you... or even just to live on, but... so that you're not alone in your final moments. Even the old wander the Road, Peak... give it another ten or so years and I'll be among them." The woman cracks a quiet chuckle. It sounds too loud in the relative silence of the world. "... Because... it... is possible to die twice, at the same time. It's possible to reverse the order.. the last person you know, who knew you, dies, and it's just you."

And at that, the thought of her companions fill her chest with warmth.- both the physical, and the faithful. Garai, and the Traveler. A presence new in her life, and another that has been there, pulling at her wanderlust since she was young... And he gets it, Garai- he understands what she wants from life. No anchors. No settling. No staying. Just the vasteness of it all... to see and wonder at every experience of life, witness every vista from the southern shores of the Luk'Mali isle to the very tip of the North. And she's so, so close... She's done it before, aimlessly, but now she has a purpose. And her gaze turns to the shrine. ...Something to leave behind for other wanderers, something so that they know they're not alone out here. Someone else gets it, too. Someone else understands the lonely companionship of the Road. The distant strings that pull each vagrant to the single guiding pinpint that is the idea of the Traveler.

Peak's ears lift and angle towards her, and she realizes the words she'd faded off with could be worrisome. The huntress grins slightly and scratches between his ears again. "Don't worry, buddy... I've got the Traveler to remember me... and we'll have the Road, until the end of our days... ...and then we'll have the Road up among the stars..." Quince's grin softens to just a faint, warm smile. "We've got a long time to go yet, yeah? C'mon. Let's get some sleep." The woman puts a hand on her knee and gets to her feet, going to light the candles at the shrine before ducking into the tent to call it a night...


35034
 

Moolight

Member

Breeze ruffles the huntress's hair, the platinum blonde catching light in what sun falls over the Reikland meadows. It tickles the back of her neck just slightly and sends wisps of curls obscuring the vision of what she is carving. A gnarled bit of wood being slowly transformed into a talisman of a cart wheel. With her hunting knife in hand, little bits and curls and chips of wood fall into her lap. Her bow lays nearby, though one of the quivers is elsewhere, missing with her arrows in the retreat. Someone has it, she hopes, or she'll have to go back for it once the matters have quelled and the area is secure... For now, she focuses on the sound of her knife moving through the wood, the wind moving through the tall meadow grasses. How long ago was it now that she and Peak had run through them? How many have come and gone running alongside her? The hazy summers, the smell of wildflowers and the bright petals as the sun turns them from flora into drops of stars when shown through.

So many faces come and gone. The woman's gaze fades out to memory, only to be pulled back with a sharp gasp as her blade slips on the wood and she nicks herself. Quince drops the knife but not the wood, and immediately goes to fish for it among the grasses as her thumb bleeds a thin trail. It stains and soaks into the earth, quickly gone by the time she finds her knife by kicking around a bit with her boot. In reaching down, her gaze catches the edge of her bandages peeking out from under her sleeve. Nothing major, but a bitter reminder perhaps.-
No. ... A moment passes, the woman sighs and closes her eyes, letting her shoulders fall. A woman already her age has no time for bitterness... she wasted too many years over being bitter. It saddens her, yes... It weighs on her heart, yes, to see good men fall on the field of battle to a witch who would see the world returned to chaos... Quince fights because she cannot imagine a world without travel, a world where the threat of necromantic abominations and magical warpings hangs in the air with every small journey... "The most any of us can do is try, no?" She scoops up the knife, this time handling it more gingerly, cutting groves around the spokes to hollow out the space slightly, bring it forward.

And, as she always tends to with carving, even if the gentle undertones of the world are replaced by wind rather than the cozy crackling of a campfire... it's still soothing. It still brings her some peace. It still makes her smile even though she has yet to tidy up and wash the blood off her boots. Helps take the mind off things, get into a rhythm, remember times that weren't necessarily better, but different. She turns her gaze up and out and over the fields, letting herself be lost to that same distant haze... wildflowers and the promise of rain yet the warmth of the setting sun still shines upon her. She hears... running. She hears someone calling, calling her name, and the woman with her eyes closed rises and turns, a warm smile, trying to remember the voice without opening her eyes.

The promise of rain comes too soon.

A drop of rain hits her forehead, then another on her cheek.. And another, and another. The voioe fade and is replaced by the gentle hiss of rain on the grass. The sunlight that had been warming her back fades, and the woman looks down to the rainwater now mingling with the blood from her nicked thumb, turning the wooden carving dark. Her shoulders fall and yet still she smiles faintly.
The path before me is the path meant to be. It will not always be happy. It may seldom be easy... but no, I trust you. The roads diverge and I go where your fate takes me... I would close my eyes and follow you into the dark woods, if that were the path ahead. Faith, without seeing what's there. That's trust, right? ... I am done being bitter over circumstances... I do not have enough time yet for such things. She sheathes the hunting knife and holds the half-carved talisman to her chest. Besides... there is... so, so much for which I am thankful to you... Slowly but surely, you will have a mark upon the world... For all of us lost and wandering your Roads.

Quince begins to make her way down the hill and under a nearby tree where she'd tied Avos. On her way down, the wet grass soaking the knees down of her pants, the woman tucks her hands into her coat pockets and turns her face to the sky.
"...Do you hear the rain, Dear Fellow Traveler, wherever you may now be?"

35085
 

Moolight

Member

"I met a man upon the road.. A man with white in his hair and the whole of history in his eyes. He asked my name, I gave it. I asked his and he answered 'Cyrus Larkins'. He was old and frail, and possibly ill, but kind. He reminded me of my grandfather." Curls of wood fall into the woman's lap as her knife shaves and shapes a chunk of dead, gnarled root. It will soon become a sigil pendant. The campfire crackles, a gentle layer of background sound as she talks to Peak in the dead of the desert night. Back from the Rahktari... the chapter closed, her bow set down to rest. Unstrung. Arrows in the quiver beside it, some of which will need cleaning. Her spat with Klaus earlier and this strange matter still pulls at her. She keeps her gloves on for now, thinking- hoping- she can ignore it.. that it will pass and fade.

"... This was long ago. I was younger, and more inclined to caring for people. Caring about people. Everyone on the road believes in the kindness of strangers, at least a little. He believed in me, and I came to take care of him. We didn't travel far, and I let him ride my horse when we did go anywhere. I wonder how much longer he would have had if I hadn't come along. There's an age you get to... when you can't keep doing all the things you used to. I wonder when was the last time he hunted for himself.." Quince lowers her gaze, setting the bit of wood and her knife aside from now. She sits forward, clasping her hands with her elbows rested on her knees. Looks to the fire, then to Peak with his head on a rolled-up blanket. Scared. It's nights like this that usually get her thinking about old Cyrus. ..And others too, sometimes. The Road is not a kind life to the old.

Her eyes fall closed and she is taken back to the abyss. The plate had given way beneath her and she jumped and... fell short. And fell. And were it not for the rope, that would have been it. As it was, she swayed and dangled at the edge of a yawning, gaping abyss, staring down into it with wide and panicked eyes, until they pulled her back up. Quince rubs her arm, unsettled again. Is she really getting that on in years, that she can't jump a gap? ..Somehow Quince had never thought fifty was 'old'. Maybe because she didn't stay home long enough to watch her parents age.

"Cyrus, he... he and I traveled for many months, Peak. Until the weather got cold. I kept giving him the better portions of the hunt... stayed up once the weather got chill to keep the fire going for him, even as we moved south. Pelts, blankets. He told me all the best stories- about his life, friends, his adventures, his family... Over time, the stories became fewer. He would only talk about his family, then... he lost their names, too. And he would ask me- he still remembered me. Called me Quinny. The southern bird. Little snow huntress. And when his mind was starting to really go, he would put me in stories he'd already told of his own daughters... I still will never forget.. the scared emptiness in his eyes when he woke up and asked who I was.. Asked me who he was. Then for weeks it was that. Every morning, I would come back with the hunt and more firewood and we would talk. I would tell him both our names, and he would start up as if the last months had never happened."

"... Winter got colder." She puts her hands up to warm in front of the fire, rubbing them together. "He got worse. His health took a turn I couldn't help just with broth and blankets... and over the next three days, he died. I told him stories of his life, friends, his adventures, his family.. told him all the stories he'd told me, that wonderful old Cyrus... and he enjoyed them. He was glad, he said, that someone would remember him, even if he didn't remember himself."

"Buried him the morning after he said that.." Quince gets up and reaches for a bucket and in one go, douses the campfire entirely. It sputters and hisses and dies beneath the weight of the water.. and she sets the bucket down and turns to head into her tent. "... That's why I don't forget anyone, Peak. Even if I hate them, I never forget them... that's the worst thing to do to anyone..."

Her gaze turns up slowly to the faint light growing in the sky. Had she stayed out till dawn? The woman's brows draw together and she frowns, another shudder running through her. Remembering this story, as much as she cherishes her time with Cyrus, never ceases to make her worry. She wonders if, with the fall into the Abyss- did that happen because it was just too far, or because she wasn't good enough? Do people look at her with her wisps of white-blonde hair and think her old? Past her time? What legacy is she leaving? "... Will you remember me, Traveler? ...Will you one day let me walk alongside you?" A long silence passes... "...How much time do I have left... Will it be enough to make you proud?"

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