Sometimes, you have to make your own destiny.

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Chapter 4, Pt. 4


Silay could almost feel the silence pressing down on her. She and Riya had only traveled for half an hour before it was clear Silay needed to rest. They had set up camp for the night, Riya setting her own wards on top of the ones Silay had brought. As an extra precaution, they had taken turns keeping watch. Now, they were up and traveling again.

Since Silay's rescue, Riya had tried to give her space. Silay had filled her in on what little was known about the coming plague, and Riya had only interrupted her narrative when she needed more information about something. But now they had been walking in silence for over an hour, and it was clear to Silay that Riya was waiting for her initiate any conversation. She still had mixed feelings about Riya, but didn't think she could stand traveling with someone without speaking to them. She sighed inwardly, and broke the silence.

"The weather has been nice."

Riya swung her head around to face Silay. "Huh?"

"The weather. Ever since I've left, it's been nice."

"As it should be, this time of year.' Riya raised an eyebrow. "Are you trying to make small talk?"

"I suppose." Silay gave a small shrug. "If we're going to travel together, we might as well talk to each other."

"Fair enough. So, the weather's been nice?"

"Yeah. It's almost disappointing. I mean, things are bad. A plague is coming, people are going to die, and the sun is shining cheerfully with barely a cloud in the sky."

Riya turned her head to look at Silay. "And you'd rather it be bad? I, for one, am perfectly content  not wading through mud."

Silay gave a small smile. "It just seems... inappropriate".

"Ha!" Riya gave a short laugh. "Inappropriate weather? I think you read too much."

"Maybe." Silay shrugged. "There wasn't much else to do back home. People there blamed me for the Seer refusing to tell fortunes anymore."

"Sorry. I didn't mean to bring up bad memories."

"It's fine. I'm used to it."

"That doesn't make it right."

"Thanks." Silay gave Riya a smile.

They lapsed back into silence, but this time it was a comfortable one.

A few miles after they stopped for lunch, the road branched off. Silay pulled out her map, and Riya peered over her shoulder at it.

"We want to take the branch that goes through Griffin." Riya pointed. "It's a shorter route to Dilest, and Giffin will be a good place to stop for the night and get supplies."

Silay nodded. "All right, then." She rolled up the map, putting it away, and led the way down the path toward Griffin. It was one of several big, walled cities in the area, and they were about half a mile away when they came to a barricade stretching across the road. Silay halted and Riya drew up beside her.

"What's going on?"

Riya shrugged. "No idea. Let's find out." She raised her voice. "Hello? Anyone there?"

Three men, in uniforms that marked them as members of the Griffin City Guard, appeared on top of the barrier. "Turn back. This route is closed."

"Why?"

"You haven't heard?" The same Guardsman look at each of the women.

"I hear lots of things." Riya shrugged. "Nothing about Griffin closing the road, though."

"I think I know." Silay spoke softly, so only Riya could hear her.

The Guardsman continued. "We had a messenger late afternoon. Told us there's a plague coming. The whole city is on lock-down."

Now Silay spoke up. "This messenger, was his name Talis?"

The Guardsman nodded. "Came from Dagrosa. Had information from their Seer."

"And there's no chance of us being allowed through?" Riya pointed to Silay. "She's from Dagrosa too. The Seer sent her after Talis." It was close enough to the truth, but the Guardsman didn't believe it.

He shook his head. "No passage. That's final."

Silay and Riya stood in front of the barrier for a moment. Finally, Riya spun around. "Fine." She turned the donkey and the cart around, and she and Silay headed back to where the road had split. 
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Word is spreading...even faster than the plague is. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Character Profile: Riya (May contain spoilers)


Age: 27
Height: 5’9"
Hair: Black
Eyes: Green
Destiny/Occupation: Travelling Magician

Description: Riya, like most people with magic, is taller than average. A travelling magician and sometime-thief, she specializes in illusion magic, and is more powerful than she thinks. She wears her hair in six braids that start at her forehead and hang to just above her shoulders, and her favourite colour is yellow. She travels with a small wagon that holds her tent and the tools of her trade drawn by a bright yellow donkey.

The wagon is also bright yellow, with green spirals painted on the sides. When she stops for the night, she spells the wagon to be a dull brown, so it doesn't attract attention. She has to cover the donkey with a blanket to hide him, since she made a mistake when casting the spell to turn him yellow, and can't turn him back. When she's set up at fairgrounds, she spells the tent to match the wagon and donkey, though it's usually brown. The donkey doesn't have a name, as it is easily identifiable as the only bright yellow donkey in Ohicink.

Riya herself typically wears a gray or other neutral coloured, sleeveless tunic that comes to just above her waist, and loose-fitting black trousers that go down to her knees. She wears black leather boots that cover her calves and lace up the sides when performing, and soft black leather walking shoes when traveling. Riya always wears a calve-length jacket with wide sleeves that flare out at the wrists. The jacket is open at the front, and has embroidery around all the edges. When she's traveling, the jacket is light brown with green spirals. When she's performing it is, as you might expect, bright yellow with green spirals. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Chapter 4, Pt. 3


Silay's eyes felt glued shut. She went to rub them, but her hands wouldn't move. What was going on? She slowly opened her eyes. Light from the sun filtered through the trees around her. She tried to move again, but still couldn't. She shook her head, trying to clear it. She was tied to a tree. Why? There was a tree, she had drunk something, and something else. There had been a map, and a person. "Talis!" The sound of her voice startled her. Hadn't she been gagged earlier? But no, Talis had taken it off before leaving. But she was still tied to the tree.

"Hello? Anyone there?" Her voice sounded foreign. And much too quiet. "Help!" There was no answer. Silay's head drooped and she leaned against the tree. She was so thirsty. How long had she been here? Her stomach growled, but the thought of food made her feel nauseous. She pushed the feeling away only to have it replaced with one of pure terror. "Hello! Help! Somebody?" She struggled against the ropes as she shouted, not caring that they cut into her wrists. Then, as suddenly as it had come, the feeling of terror was gone. Silay collapsed against the tree, too exhausted to even cry.

She had no idea how long she stayed that way before she heard footsteps. She raised her eyes and found herself staring at a pair of black leather boots. The boots were replaced with Riya's face. "You," she said, "Are very hard to track. None of my usual spells worked. I had to track those wards you carry with you. Good thing whoever did this left your pack." As she spoke, Riya cut the ropes holding Silay to the tree. Helping her slowly stand, she then cut the ropes holding her wrists behind her back. "There." Riya took a step back, as is surveying her work. "Much better, don't you think?"

Silay raised her head, but didn't answer. Riya's eyebrows narrowed in concern. "Come on, let's get you out of here." When Silay didn't move, Riya took her hands and gently led her out of the woods to her wagon by the side of the road. "Sit." She guided Silay to the edge of the wagon and wrapped her hands around a waterskin. "Drink. Slowly."

While Silay sipped the water, Riya pulled a small jar out of one of her packs in the wagon. When Silay finished drinking, Riya took the waterskin from her. "Let me see your hands". She opened the jar, revealing the pale pink cream it held. She dipped her fingers into it then gently spread it on the raw skin of Silay's wrists. Silay winced, but didn't pull away. When she was done with her wrists, Riya rolled up Silay's sleeves. Her frown deepened when she saw the bruises Talis had left on her arms. Riya put more of the cream on those, and on the bruises higher up on both arms where the rope holding Silay against the tree had pressed into them. Finished, she closed the jar and returned it to her pack.

Riya crouched a little so her face was on level with Silay's. She took her hands in her own. "Silay, I know you've been hurt, but you need to talk to me. Who did this to you?"

Silay didn't answer, but Riya continued. "I can't imagine what you're feeling right now, but if you talk to me, maybe I can help you. What happened?" She paused. "Was it Talis?"

At the sound of his name, Silay started. Her eyes jerked up to meet Riya's. "How... how did you know that?"

Riya sighed, and dropped her hands. The last thing Silay needed right now was to feel betrayed, but it was even more important to Riya to tell her the truth. She drew the Farstone from her jacket pocket. "I spoke to your Seer."

Silay stared at the Stone in Riya's hand. "You have one too?"

Slowly, Riya shook her head. "It's yours." She dropped the Farstone into Silay's hand.

Silay wrapped her hands around the Farstone. "You took it?" She pushed herself off the edge of the wagon, moving away from Riya. "You stole from me! I thought I could trust you!"

"Silay..." Riya took a step towards her.

"No! Stay away from me!" Silay stepped backwards, pulling her dagger out and holding it front of her body. "Don't come near me!"

Riya stayed put. "Or you'll what? The way you're holding that weapon, you"ll hurt yourself more than me." She rubbed her eyes, wearily. "I'm not going to force you to do anything you don't want to do, Silay. You want to go off on your own again, fine. I could use the money I would have made at the festival. But I did come here to help you."

"After you robbed me!"

"Yes, I took the Farstone. I just wanted to know why you had one. I'd meant to return it before you noticed, but you left before I could. You want proof? I gave it back to you just now. I didn't have to come here, you know."

"I don't trust you." Silay paused. "Why did you come looking for me? Was it just to return the Farstone?"

Riya shook her head, making her braids swing. "I told you, I spoke to the Seer. She said to warn you about Talis. That if he wasn't stopped, he could make things worse." She sighed. "That's all I know. She was worried about you, so I came looking. You have the Stone. Ask her yourself."

Silay hesitated for a moment. Could she trust Riya? She'd stolen from her, but it was true she'd come to find her. And she had saved her. She looked up from the Stone in her fist. "I can't."

Riya tilted her head. "Can't what?"

"I can't use the Farstone. It doesn't work for me."

"Hmph." Riya raised her eyebrows. "After the difficulty I had tracking you, that doesn't entirely surprise me." She walked towards Silay a couple of steps, the stopped. "You haven't exactly been honest with me either, Silay the Bored. But I'm inclined to trust you all the same. In my experience, good guys don't tie people to trees. It's usually the other way around." She took a few more steps forwards. Silay flinched, but stayed put. Riya kept talking. "You've been hurt. You're not in a hurry to trust anyone. I get that. But it's not safe to travel alone, and I'm willing to help you. Your choice. You don't want help, just say the word and I'll turn around and head back to the festival."

Silay's arms dropped to her sides. After a moment, she slid the Farstone back into its pouch, and the dagger back in its sheath. She glanced up at Riya. "This doesn't mean I trust you. It just means I trust you more than Talis."

"That's fine for now." Riya checked the donkey's straps. She glanced over her shoulder at Silay. "But maybe you can tell me what this is all about? I did save you after all."

Silay nodded. "I might as well tell you. Talis knows too."

"Good." She gave the donkey a pat, then picked up his lead. "You can fill me in as we walk". 

*Check back Wednesday for a Character Profile on Riya*
Want to know how Riya's conversation with the Seer went?
Check out the Alt. Perspectives tab!
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Once burned, twice shy. Silay isn't going to be quick to trust anyone again. This post is slightly longer than usual, since I wanted to reach a good stopping point. I don't like leaving my characters in bad situations for too long. Want to know what happened between Pt. 2 and Pt. 3 from Riya's perspective
It's posted here.
Also, I've come to the conclusion that the reason so many books have a male and female protagonist working together, is that it can get really hard to keep track of the pronouns with two female characters talking. Just saying.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Chapter 4, Pt. 2


There was a knob pressing into Silay's back on the tree she was tied to. She had struggled at first, but that had just made the ropes cut into her arms and wrists. Besides tying her to the tree, Talis had cut off a piece of her tunic and gagged her with it. Now he was digging through her bag.

Talis held up a jar and studied it. "Pre-made wards? Can't you make your own?"

He looked at her, and Silay glared back the best she could, her eyes filled with frustrated tears.

"Are you crying?" Talis demanded. "Not much of a hero, are you? That is what you're supposed to be, isn't it? Trying to stop the plague and all?" Silay looked away, but Talis continued. "There hasn't been a true Hero for years. I'm the closest in generations. If anyone is going to stop the plague, it'll be me."

 While he talked, he continued to dig through the bag. He pulled out the map and grinned. "Ah, here we go." Unrolling it, he looked at the town the Seer had circled for Silay. "Dilest, eh? Never even heard of it. Can't be very big." He set the map on the ground, and placed another one next to it, copying the markings on Silay's map onto his own. Then he put everything back into Silay's bag and set it on the ground next to her. He saw her eyes flick towards it. "I'm not a thief," he said defensively. "I'm just trying to get information. I'm trying to help."

Silay pulled against the ropes holding her. People who wanted to help others, she thought bitterly, did not tie people to trees.

Talis watched her struggle. "I could untie you. But I think you'll either try to attack me or run. And I don't want you to do either. At least not until I've gotten a head start on you." He stood, running his hand along his chin as he considered the problem. Finally, he sat back down and opened his bag, pulling out a small satchel of something. He poured the contents of the satchel into his water-skin and swirled it around, watching the water dissolve the mixture.

Silay was staring at him intently. "See? I'm not the bad guy here." He gave the water-skin another shake. "I'm leaving your water untouched, so you'll have something to drink when you wake up." Silay's eyes widened at his words, and Talis noticed.

"Look, I didn't want to do this, all right?" Talis stood and stepped towards her. "But it's my destiny to be great, and this plague is the first thing I've heard of that could help me do that. If you had just talked to me instead of trying to run off, we wouldn't be here." He glared at Silay. "I'm leaving you with all your things, even your dagger. You'll be able to get free after I leave. If you're smart, you'll go back home. Or something. Just don't follow me."

Suddenly, he yanked the gag off  of her.  Before Silay could yell, he covered her nose and mouth with his hand. She panicked, and pulled against the ropes desperately, trying to get Talis' hand off her face, trying to get air. Her lungs were screaming when Talis jerked her head back and uncovered her mouth. She tried to gasp for air, but got water instead, as Talis dumped the contents of his waterskin down her throat. She choked, then swallowed when Talis covered her mouth again. Breathing desperately through her nose, Silay continued to struggle against the ropes. Talis's hand on her mouth began to feel fuzzy, which, Silay thought vaguely, made sense, since Talis himself was starting to look fuzzy. The outline of his body began to blur with that of the surrounding trees. Then everything went black.
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Another intense post. Lest I make her out that way, it is not at all my intent to portray Silay as weak and/or helpless. She's unprepared for the quest/unquest she's been sent on, but she's also smart and resourceful.  

Apologies for how clunky the narrative feels here. I'm better at writing dialogue than action (though, if I do say so myself, I'm pretty good at narrating sword duels. Maybe I should include one somewhere. Talis knows how fence.). 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Chapter 4, Pt. 1


Silay had been walking for two hours, and was starting to wish she had thought to ask Jarlen for some of whatever it was he had put on her blisters. It seemed her shoes, which had always been comfortable for day-to-day wear back home, were not meant for long periods of walking. Already she could feel them rubbing against the same places she had gotten blisters before. She set a goal for herself. Up, then down the hill she could see ahead of her, then she could stop for a quick snack and let her feet rest for a moment.

She had just reached the bottom of the hill when a person passed her on the road. He gave her a quick, sidelong glance, then came to an abrupt stop.

"Silay! Is that you? What are you doing this far from Dagrosa?"

Silay stopped and stared for a moment. He did look familiar. Like someone she had seen around town, but hadn't known well because he was a few years older than her. A name popped into her head.

"Talis?"

He grinned. "I knew you'd remember!" Talis kept walking and Silay fell into step beside him. He repeated his question. "So, why are you out here? Not many people from back home go traveling." His eyes flicked towards her. "Unless it has something to do with your destiny?"

Silay shrugged. "Something like that."

"Well?"

"Well, what?"

"What is it? Your destiny, I mean. I left before your group's Fortune Day."

Silay stopped and turned so she was facing Talis, trying to remember what his destiny had been. It wasn't to be a Hero, but she seemed to remember it had been something considered hero-like. "My destiny is none of your business." It was an unconscious echo of her words to Riya.

"Come on, Silay. It's not like they're secrets."

"Well, mine is." She pivoted on her foot and continued to walk down the road.

Talis watched her walk away for a moment, then jogged to catch up with her. He grabbed her arm to stop her. "It's just a question."

"Let go!" Silay pulled her arm at of his grasp, and turned to keep walking. "I told you, it's none of your business."

Talis grabbed her arm again, harder this time, turning her to look at him. "Tell me about the plague."

Silay tried to push down her growing feeling of panic. "What plague?"

"Don't play dumb with me, Silay. I heard about the plague, and I know you have information about it." His grip on her arm tightened.

"Talis! Let go! You're hurting me!" Silay tried to break away, but couldn't.

"Tell me about the plague, and I will. Where does it start?"

Silay stopped struggling. "Let me go, and I'll tell you. Please, you're hurting me!"

"Do I have your word?"

"I promise. Please, just let me go."

Talis released her arm, and Silay jerked away. She paused for a moment, and took a breath, as if she was about to say something. Talis nodded, encouraging her to speak. Instead, Silay turned and ran.

She made it a few feet before Talis' hand grabbed the back her tunic, dragging her backward. Silay started to move her hand towards her dagger. She wasn't sure what she could do with it, but she wanted to be armed.

"None of that, now." With one hand, Talis grabbed her hand at the wrist, and jerked her arm behind her back. With his other hand, he pulled Silay's dagger out of its sheath and shoved it through his own belt. He yanked on her arm, turning her so she faced the side of the road. "Come on. You and I are going to talk." Still holding Silay's arm behind her back, Talis pushed her off the road and towards the trees that ran along it.

_____

So, umm...yeah. Getting a little intense. While I promise there will be no graphic violence (don't like reading it, don't want to write it), Silay is living in an increasingly dangerous world. Despite the best efforts of the seers and Healers, word of the up-coming plague is spreading, and people are starting to react to it. 

Also, since I'm trying follow the typical quest cycle here, it is time introduce an antagonist and some 'trials on the road' beyond a stand-off with a butter-knife-wielding 8-year-old. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Chapter 3 Epilogue


The fisherman whistled happily on his way home. He and his wife took nearly everything that they needed from the land and sea, but it was always nice to have a little extra to trade. And today he had just that. Twelve fish and two baskets full of the little crabs that got left behind after the tide went out. Tonight, they would feast. Tomorrow, he would take the rest of his catch down to the marketplace.