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kellinator

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  1. Zeke sleeps soundly now, the rasping sounds of the last few nights gone. Bhogmur, still holding Aridwyn's hand, rises. "Can we get soup, mama? I missed dinner."

     

    "Yes, let's do that. I'm hungry too," Aridwyn replies. She gazes at Zeke in wonder. Janara said he had the Gift, but I never dreamt anything like this...

     

    "Who wants dump-liiiiings?", she says softly in a sing-song inflection, then gently closes the door and returns to the main room and to Joe.

     

    Aridwyn looks up, but Janara is already gone. A smile creeps on to her face. I haven't given her enough credit... she does have a subtle bone in her body. Or maybe she's just anxious to get back to Joe?

     

    "Dumplings sound good right now," she says to Bhogmur, and then she summons every ounce of her strength and scoops him up, hugging him tight. She feels a pang in her gut, knowing this is the last time she will ever pick Bhogmur up -- if I see him again, no, when I see him again, he most likely will be bigger than I am. "Bhogmur, I am so very, very proud of you," she murmurs, and kisses him on the forehead.

     

    Then (and not a moment too soon, as Bhogmur has grown like a weed on Zeke's cooking), she sets him down, musses his hair, and gives him her biggest smile, though she wants to cry. "Now let's go see about those dumplings." She takes his hand, and elf and orc go in search of the others.

  2. Aridwyn awakens to check on her son, only to find his pallete empty. Her well trained ears detect a slight humming, and she follows the sound to it's source. She finds the boy standing beside the exhausted halfling, his left hand resting on Zeke's forehead. Bhoghmur is humming the "Lady Rai" song, and crying at the same time. Finally he looks up at her, and speaks, "Zeke need me to stay, Mama, he is so sick." He reaches his right hand to the elf. "I can help him."

     

    Aridwyn gazes down at her son, and her eyes fill with tears. Rune had warned her recently that the road to Aizen Krahl would be dangerous, and though he hadn't mentioned it, she knew at its end waited a people not known for their kindness to orcs, no matter how small and extraordinary. Though she wanted him with her, she knew it was selfish. He could learn much from the Reptus, and Zeke needed him. What kind of mother would she be to prevent him from doing good? Besides, a little voice in her head that sounded suspiciously like Adeline was murmuring he doesn't belong to you... he belongs to all of Taltos. "Of course, Bhoggy. Of course." She takes his outstretched hand and squeezes it as she kneels beside him, and then she does two things she has not done in years. She softly begins to pray: "Aurellius, keep my son safe... and please favor an unworthy elf and let me see him again someday." Then she begins to openly weep.

  3. "D'ya think we ourghtta wake up Bhoggy when that monk comes 'round to talk to us? We ourghtta be shure it's what he wants."

     

    "Perhaps we can talk with the priest tonight, then ask him to come back in the morning once Bhoggy's awake. He's had such a wild day, I hate to interrupt his sleep. He'll be thinking more clearly after a good night's sleep anyway, I suspect."

     

    "D'ya think maybe my mamma..my real mamma felt like this when she decided to leave me with the nuns?"

     

    Not for the first time, Aridwyn asks herself what right she has to brood over her own misfortunes when Janara has encountered so many more and yet manages to remain cheerful. "I imagine so. Yes, I do," she murmurs softly.

  4. "Maybe it don't seem like a long time when you live as long as you do, but maybe they wanna keep him for ten years..maybe 'till he's all grown up..maybe longer even."

     

    "No... it does. It seems like forever. He's growing so fast, and I don't want to miss a minute of it." Aridwyn feels a pang in her stomach. No mother wants to outlive her child... mine will be dead of old age before I have my first gray hair. She looks at Janara and immediately feels another pang. Perhaps this is why elves keep to themselves... it hurts too much to outlive your friends.

     

    "He's got the healin' gifts, maybe even more than I got. He's smart too, an' prob'ly needs better schoolin' that what we can give him..but not if they're gonna make him stay if he don't wanna..an' not if they're gonna teach him nothin' bad...or tease him b'coz he's a orc."

     

    Aridwyn throws an arm around Janara. "He is smart, and wise beyond his years. But he is strong too, and he knows right from wrong. And he's got you, me, and Joe. That's nothing to sneeze at."

     

    She smiles, a little sadly. "I had hoped he might find his calling with your Aurellius."

  5. "Did'ja find out anything about any Harmony Child yet?", she asks as she picks up the orc-book again, pretending to be nonchalant about it. "When we was lookin' for Zeke there was some monks outside like the ones we seen this afternoon. I kinda... I suppose I ourghtta asked first, but .... I asked Freen to ask one of 'em if he'd come tell us 'bout why Bhoggy's so special to 'em."

     

    "Well, some," Aridwyn says, pursing her lips, "but it's wrapped in enough vaguery to rival the most cryptic elf mage. I'm impressed. This indicates that the Child of Harmony will come from outside, but mentions nothing of the child's race. Oh, and while many Reptus will welcome the child, an equal number will declare this heresy. So now we know why fighting broke out in the streets, at least." She sighs and closes the book. "It will be good to speak with a monk about this. Perhaps he will be a bit clearer than this manuscript." She glares at it in frustration.

     

    "I think they wanna keep Bhoggy here b'coz he's in their prophecies. Even if he's all they said he is, it ain't fair them jus' takin' him away from us like that." She tries to hide the fact that she is crying from Joe, but her voice begins to crack and waver. "It ain't right leavin' him here like that with folks we don't hardly know nothin' about. 'Least we know we love him an' he's happy with us. It ain't no more right than if we jus' left him at the doorstep in a egg-basket."

     

    Having accidentally opened up a second emotional floodgate, she decides the best course of action is to find somewhere she can go have a nice long cry alone. Once in her sleeping quarters and away from everybody else, especially the one she wants to make believe she is strong, she curls up fetus-style on a bunk, buries her face in the lumpy pillow provided and sobs freely.

     

    Aridwyn looks up in alarm as Janara bursts into tears. She starts to try to comfort her, but Janara is out the door before she can speak. "Excuse me," she mutters, and hurries off after Janara. She enters the room quietly, uncertain if Janara will welcome her or push her away.

     

    "Janara," she begins softly, sitting down on the bed and placing a hand on her friend's arm, "no one is going to take Bhoggy anywhere he doesn't want to go." She leaves her own fear unvoiced: that Bhogmur will want to stay with the Reptus.

  6. Meanwhile back at the legation, Aridwyn sits with the book of Reptus prophecy, carefully making notes about the "Child of Harmony" on some paper from her backpack. Occasionally she steals a glance at Bhogmur, who is still contentedly playing with Joe, then shakes her head and returns to the manuscript, obviously deep in thought. Could it be? Was it truly compassion for another victim of the Darkspawn filth that made me take him in... or was I simply a cog in a very large wheel? What are the chances that the rare elf who speaks orcish would arrive in the city of the Crusaders just in time to rescue an unnaturally intelligent and gifted orcling who then journeys to the lands of the Reptus and dwarves? Is this all part of some grander design? And why me? I gave up on my own gods, couldn't save my own sister; what business do I have in the care of a child so special? Because Child of Harmony or not, he is destined for greatness in a way I have never seen before.

     

    Aridwyn looks up from her contemplation and finds that the possible savior of Reptuskind has fallen asleep at his game. Aridwyn smiles at Joe as the huge half-orc gently and silently scoops Bhogmur up and carries him off to tuck him in. From the solemn nod he gives her, Aridwyn suspects Joe has been thinking much the same thoughts as she has.

  7. Aridwyn eagerly takes the manuscript from Ernesto and begins to search it for information on the Child of Harmony, pausing only to snicker at Janara's slack-jawed admiration of Gragg Elfslayer. "Looks like Joe has some competition..." she whispers to her friend in her lowest voice, hoping Ernesto won't notice.

  8. "I don't know what's s'pposed to happen next about Joe.", she whispers to her friend. "He arready gave me presents, an' he still has that ol' blue sash from my dress...but now what do we do? I don't wanna be unproper, but ... but..."

     

    Aridwyn listens eagerly. She had had a feeling this conversation was coming.

     

    "I wanna ask him if he'll marry me...jus' like Yvette did. If I keep on waitin' on Joe to ask, I'll be as old as you before... er.. I mean, I'll be awful old... not that you're old.. but you'd be old if you was a hafforc."

     

    Aridwyn's eyebrows shoot up, but she tries to hide her surprise. She had known of Janara's feelings for Joe for some time, but had not realized Janara was thinking this seriously yet.

     

    She furrows her brow in thought, searching for the right words. "Hmmm... the thing is, Malachias is a soldier. He's used to taking orders... not that Yvette gave him an order, exactly... at least, I don't think so..." She sighs and abandons that line of thought before Malachias can wander in upon them. "Joe, it seems like he's used to doing his own thing, even with the Crusaders. I'm not sure how he'd react... not that I think he would react badly, but, you know, sometimes men like to think those things are their idea." Aridwyn pauses for a second, reflecting on the supreme irony of advising Janara on matters of the heart. Janara, if you knew how badly I mucked up my one and only romance, you'd not be asking me for advice. "Remember, I've not known Joe for very long. Perhaps someone who's known him longer could advise you better. But what I think is, we still have a long journey to the dwarven lands, and you and Joe will have much more time together. Wait for now. Oh, I don't mean don't talk to him or flirt with him... do those things, definitely... but give him a chance to ask for your hand himself. If by the end of our journey he hasn't come to his senses, well, Sir Erik can be counted on to defend a lady's honor." She giggles at her own joke, however ill-advised.

     

    Janara and Aridwyn have hardly left the room, and the turmoil of Freen attamting to play Joe and Bhogmur, when the hear excited muttering from a small room. Peeking in, they see Ernesto running his hands over a shelf full of scrolls, books and maps.

     

    Aridwyn gazes in wonder at the room, which rivals the finest elven libraries.

     

    Songs and Lore of Ti--Tiri---Tithi---Thi---Tirilith---Tithirillia?". She hands the beautifully bound book with silver lettering on the cover over to Aridwyn, suspecting it's to do with elves.

     

    Aridwyn decides not to bother with correcting Janara's pronounciation right now, especially seeing as Janara is already rushing on to other books. She begins to leaf through the book, turning the pages with care so as not to damage them.

  9. "Anybody wanna come with me an' find Ernesto?", she asks, looking around the room for a volunteer or maybe two. "I don't wanna go all by myself after all what happened this afternoon."

     

    Aridwyn shrugs and stands. "I'm game. Let's try not to miss dinner, though."

  10. Aridwyn's eyes light up at the beautiful silks brought to her, and she gazes at them in wonder for a few moments before donning them. She had of course worn beautiful things in Almirithil, but the past few years of solitary roaming had left little opportunity to dress up.

     

    After dressing and arranging her hair, Aridwyn rejoins the others in the common room. The sight of Bhogmur dressed like a young Reptus prince brings a grin to her face. "Bhogmur, you look so handsome!"

  11. "Don't worry, Janara, there's plenty enough water for all of us. Though I do fear I should have thought to ask Khowloon of Reptus bathing customs. Do we rub ourselves down with these soaps first?" Aridwyn investigates the jars, sniffing each one and finally selecting the one she thinks smells the best. "Or can we simply jump in and soak? I'm sure Khowloon is busy with other things now, so we'll have to figure it out for ourselves as best we can." Apparently untroubled by questions of modesty, Aridwyn quickly disrobes and slides into the warm water. "Oh, it's heavenly. You must come in," she breathes to the others. "So delightful and so fragrant. I give you fair warning, I may never come out."

  12. "I thought he was diff'rent too..not jus' b'coz he's a orc either.", she tells the elf as the two of them wait to enter the home "I forgot to tell ya 'bout this mornin'. He was with me in th' wagon an' I was gonna give the Healing to Mal.. an' I don't know even why I done it, but I let Bhoggy help since he likes to help alot.. but he has the Gift too. I know he does.Maybe he also dreams of things that ain't happened yet."

     

    Aridwyn is left speechless by Janara's news. She gasps. Once she is able to collect herself, she murmurs, "I had sensed your Aurellius had something in mind for him, but I had no idea it would come so soon. Nothing that happens with Bhogmur should surprise me, though."

     

    "Strange ain't it how Bhoggy an' me an' Joe all got the Gifts? Is it 'cuz we all got orc blood in us?"

     

    Aridwyn firmly shakes her head. "No. I have known other orcs, fine examples of orcdom to be sure, but they were not gifted as you three are. I suspect the Gift has far more to do with the devotion all three of you have to Aurellius. I did not realize there was still such faith left in this world."

  13. Bhogmur has settled down, and hugs the knees of Aridwyn and Janara.

    "They knew t'LadyRai song....my song..from d'jar."

     

    Aridwyn kneels and embraces Bhogmur. "And it is a fine song too," she murmurs, trying to hide her tears of relief. She takes several deep breaths. Now that they are out of immediate danger, she reflects on how oddly unsurprising she finds the whole incident. She had sensed some time back that Bhogmur was destined for great things. The Child of Harmony? Look at how many of us he has already brought together...

     

    Khowloon moves to the simple flat-roofed building adjoining the garden.

    "Why, we are at my hatch-mother's house", opens the door and invites everyone in.

     

    Aridwyn stands and smiles at Khowloon. "You are too kind. Thank you."

  14. Still following Khowloon, she says to Aridwyn ruefully, "Bein' green's never easy..even here where ev'ryone's green."

     

    "Maybe they're jealous of his lovely shade of green," Aridwyn replies just as ruefully. The look of fear in Bhogmur's eyes unsettles her. I haven't been that scared since Adeline... She reaches out and squeezes Bhogmur's shoulder, murmuring "We will keep you safe" in Orcish.

  15. Once Khowloon answers Aridwyn, she begins to follow the entourage, noting with irony that it is far easier for her to track Overlord troops in the snow than a large group in broad daylight. She is content to follow and observe until the mood turns violent, at which point she pushes as close to Bhogmur as she can. She is happy to let Janara carry him, as Bhogmur has grown quite a bit and Janara is far stronger than she.

  16. Aridwyn finally returns with her purchases from the street vendors. "Here, eat this. The bread will settle your stomach," she says as she pushes hunks of bread into Janara and Bhogmur's hands. That accomplished, she takes out her own purchase, a hunk of cheese. She sniffs at it skeptically, then shrugs and takes a bite. "Not bad... though it does seem rather heated, do the Reptus add spices to everything or is it just in the air? I wonder where they get the milk. Krungbeasts, most likely." She takes another bite as she leans against a wall and watches the city around her.

  17. "I could eat, but something tells me I should ask, good Sir Erik, exactly what was your first bowl like?" Aridwyn asks lightly. "I don't mind being dared to eat odd things, I just like knowing what I'm getting into upfront." In truth she is hungry enough to slurp down a bowl even without Erik's explanation, but she does not wish to offend their hosts by spilling soup on herself or worse, spitting it out.

  18. "Erik!" Aridwyn throws her arms around the Crusader. "I had not dreamt we we be so fortunate to see you again in this journey. We have much to tell you... Oh, and you must meet our new compatriot Rune," she says, gesturing to the dwarf. "I was just telling him how much you two would like each other."

  19. "Mmmmm, beer and mustard," Aridwyn muses, rather more enthusiastically than one would expect from an elf. "All this talk of food is making me hungry. I wonder where we can get something to eat? Preferably not rat." She looks at Freen, hoping he takes the hint.

  20. Aridwyn grins broadly at Janara's barrage of questions. "I imagine they have many of the same things you'd find in the shops in Denelspire, and some things neither one of us has seen before. I doubt we look poor so much as different... or they might think some of the unfamiliar things we have are very impressive. Bhoggy might want to come with us, or he might think shopping is too girly for him now and get Joe to give him some arm-wrestling lessons instead. I'm sure many of the Reptus speak the other languages of Taltos. I imagine they keep the krungbeasts outside the city. I don't know when we'll get to them -- after we've done our business in the city, most likely. And yes," she leans forward and whispers conspiratorially, "I daresay Joe thinks you're beautiful."

  21. "Yeah..everywhere's got humans. I know Elfs live an awful long time so if they was here first, there'd be a whole lot more of 'em than there are..right? I s'pose there'd be more Orcs too but the Crusaders ain't about to let 'em overrun Taltos... 'nless you count Haff-orcs as Orcs.. but... "

     

    "Though we elves have been here a long time, by necessity we must keep our numbers small," Aridwyn murmurs, half to herself. "Since elves lead such long lives, we must have but small families lest we tax the land beyond what it can sustain." She reflects to herself that orcs' short lifespans may have something to do with their large numbers, but does not voice it out of consideration for Janara. "My people say that the Reptus too have been here for many years; they are spoken of in our history of this region."

     

    Still grinning, she quickly returns to where Aridwyn is, almost knocking Malachias down in her giddy haste.

     

    "Lookit what Joe got for me! It's gotta be magical or somethin'. He won it offa that reptus there, an' it's got a dead dragonfly stuck in the middle of it."

     

    She passes the object to Aridwyn, finding it curious how the thing so quickly grew warm in her hand unike any stone or piece of glazed crockery she has ever held. It also is very transparent, almost like glass, but yet there are no bubbles or ripples in it like any windowglass or drinking glass she has ever seen.

     

    Aridwyn braces herself when she sees Malachias wobble. She grins at Janara's news, and examines the amber, holding it up to the sun to admire its color and clarity. "Truly a lovely specimen. It would be much envied in Almirithil. Perhaps you could have it made into a pendant to admire all the time." Joe's getting bolder. And a good thing too, lest Janara club him on the head and carry him away!

     

    "I wanna give him a gift too, but I don't know what yet."

     

    "I need to do some shopping myself while we are in the Reptus city," Aridwyn replies. "You know his tastes better than I do, but we can look together, and perhaps find a setting for your amber if you wish it."

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