August 03, 2017

Destiny and Desire: Anecdotes Of Adventure VI

    Vendetta and Jairus' glances met- but he quickly began stoking the fire, tidying up; she scanned the darkness once more. All the normal wind-down duties. They passed in brief, enough for her to whisper to him.

    "Wait until I figure it out, then get Shaiyla first." Vendetta moved, not giving Jairus a chance to reply. To her, it made sense- all she had to do was draw attention for a minute or two. As Jairus moved away, Vendetta took a look- she couldn't actually see anything, but she heard rustling. Something was moving in the bushes. And it was close. Very close.

    She slowly crept forward, dagger in hand. Rustling became more pronounced... Vendetta moved the bushes away, prepared to strike...

    And all that greeted her was a family of red foxes. 

    Vendetta blinked, and the foxes skittered away into the night. She stepped back, and jumped- Jairus' hand was on her shoulder. "Nothing to worry about, then?"

    "No, just a family of red foxes. Come on, let's switch- I'll get Shaiyla." In silence, the pairs switched shifts- and as Vendetta settled into her bedroll, she still felt out of sorts. Something felt amiss- hopefully it was just the turning weather.

~

    Morning brought heavy rain- enough to make uncomfortable travel. They had a cold breakfast, as a fire couldn't be made. Travel was still decent, but made difficult by the reduction in visibility. Vendetta ended up leading; she had natural ability to see in low light. After a few days, tensions and tempers ran high. Everyone was snapping at one another, people were irritable, cold, constantly soaking wet. Supplies were starting to run low, mostly from water damage.

    On their sixth days' travel in this hellish rain, they happened upon a small tavern- and all of them tumbled into it. Inside was silent- though warm, dry and well-lit. Comfortable. An older man stood behind the bar, idly cleaning. When he looked up, surprise registered on his face. Then he broke into a smile.

    "I'm surprised anyone would be out in this! Terrible weather for travelling in."

    "We don't have a choice, friend. Heading northeast- have been since we left 
Daggerford three weeks previous."

    "You've spent the entire week in that?! Come in, come in- all of you should stay here until the rains pass. It could be a bit yet."

    "I'm good with this. Warmth, comfort, hot meals- what's not to like?"

    "Besides, we're all gonna kill each other if we keep traveling. This might be good for the spirit- as important as caring for the body."

    "My companions are right- how many rooms do you have?"

    "I have four available, though you should only need- oh! I see a fourth person with you. Very quiet, aren't they? Right- you'll want them all. We can settle payment when the rains pass. Dinner is about to be served, if you'd like something hot. I suspect you'll want to change first, yes?"

    Four keys were slid out, each numbered. All of them took one- and muttering thanks, they went off. Salvation was definitely at hand here. Vendetta and Shaiyla ended up in the rooms on the right; Lord Taco and Jairus on the left. Each of them changed into their driest attire, set their items out for drying, and came back.

    That night was the best they'd had in some time. Good food, spicy and sweet cider, a raging fire. Excellent company in the form of the innkeep. Many stories shared, much joy to be had- even Vendetta's icy temperament warmed some that night. As the group all broke off, Lord Taco pulled Vendetta aside.

    "Vendetta, I... know we shared a moment that- I did wrong by you. The way my anger got the better of me..." He looked to the fire, in appeal of sorts. "That's all I've been thinking about- I should never have acted that way."

    "Think nothing of it, my Lord. I stopped some days ago."

    "... You do understand I'm not actually a Lord, yes?"

    Vendetta looked quite shocked. "I- did not, actually. So why do-"

    "A title given in jest. It was some time ago, but I found I quite enjoyed it. Besides, manners go a long way in this day and age."

    "...I see. So, what is your real name?"

    "It's been a long time since anyone last used it, but I am known by the name of Jayce Stevin. I answer to Jayce, as I'm not fond of my full name."

    "With all due respect... I've been addressing you as a Lord this entire time. Maybe it's best I continue. Mayhap one day, we'll make it a real title for you."

    "It's an idea. That aside, the initial matter still requires addressing." It was here he  dropped to a knee before her, bowing his head. She had no idea how to take this. "Lady Vendetta, it has so transpired that I find myself overcome with deep shame, for my anger took control of my actions. I apologize for this, and swear to you it will not happen again. I pray you'll find it within yourself to forgive this humble supplicant, though I shall understand if you do not."

    "I... Kindness like this, is rather... unusual. At least, given to me; from me, is another matter entirely. That said..." Vendetta bit her lip, glancing down at him. She wouldn't admit it out loud, but a part of her was loving this. "Emotional wounds do not heal easily, but I forgave the transgression some time ago."

    "Thy will be done. I will remain at a distance, until such time as you are ready to let me close to you once more."

    "I appreciate that. Though it does not settle the true matter between us."

    "Indeed not, Lady Vendetta. In all truth, it disturbs me that you think so terribly of yourself. If I could, I would discover who poisoned your mind so, and bring them to justice. None should ever feel themselves belonging to another."

    "Not without proper consent, at least." She smiled, amused at the confusion on his face. "In the Fell, some beings live in collars, and... well, you'll see. We are open to all sorts of things. It is a strength, for we accept all with good intent. It's when people turn evil, or corrupt, that lines are drawn."

    "It sounds... unlike anything I've heard of."

    "We prefer 'delightfully wicked', my Lord. Don't denigrate it before you've experienced it."

    "Very well." Here he rose once more, and she watched him. The two glances collided- and to his confusion, she smiled. A soft, sweet smile. Immediately he decided he liked it verily, and wanted to see it more. Everyone spectating- Jairus, Shaiyla, and the innkeep- all retreated at this point. The lovers in bloom deserved a little privacy, at least.

~

    Four days passed before the rains stopped. Morning of the fifth day, the innkeep surprised the group with fresh rations- more than enough to make it to their destination. All of them were grateful. They went to make payment, but the man refused.

    "You know, in thirty years of running this place, I'd never seen a group more interesting. Or so full of potential. And I've never seen a... I'm sorry, what did you call yourself again, dear?"

    "A Shadar-Kai. I'm from the Shadowfell."

    "Right, that's what I meant! A Shadar-Kai. Beautiful, too. Look exactly like my wife if she had purple hair." Everyone laughed gently at her dark blush. Still, as the man watched them leave, he called out once more. "If you folks get time, come back and see me! I'll always have space for you here."

    The group waved, and they set off. Today the skies were streaked with clouds- pleasant temperature. Everything was still damp, but easy to travel on. All of them carried on, sad to leave this little place behind. But they had a mission to undertake. It was half an hour before Jairus spoke, curiosity getting the better of him.

    "I wonder where he got the spices for the cider. Also, did anyone get his name? Or the name of this place?"

    "Sadly, I did not. Lady Shaiyla? Lady Vendetta?"

    The girls shook their heads. And everyone burst into laughter- the best four days they'd had in a long time- and they didn't even know who to thank! One of those mysteries, they supposed. Like the mystery of why Shaiyla sometimes gave off a faint, spicy scent...

    Still, they managed to make good time- evidently they were only a day and a night away. Odd, everyone could have sworn they had a week yet... As the ruins came into the view one afternoon, everyone was relieved. Soon they'd be in the Shadowfell, and could finally meet Lady Silversorrow. Once and for all, they could see what was so important, that the fates pulled them together.

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