In Which the Rat is RevealedIawen wished she really was the size of a small doll, if not to be detected by the elf! Instead, she placed her arms inside her sleeves, folding them across her chest (Teng Huanese-dress style), and simply waited to see what sort of response the elf is going to have with her presence. Nervously she drummed her fingers on her arm, making a note on whether or not she had a weapon available (none other than fists). 'If only I could hide behind something without drawing notice in the first place.'
A small glimmer caught Iawen off-guard, positioned directly in front of her face. A quick, translucent wall coalesced from the air, and then disappeared. Iawen's mouth hung open a tiny bit as she expressed a silent 'thank you'. The elf, however, pulled a book out from within the folds of his robe, and continued to a hole in the floor ('Was it there before?') and down another set of stairs. His speech was going too fast for Iawen to translate, and the opening swallowed the elf up once his head lowered out of sight. The room resumed its silent nature, with the second chair now missing.
Iawen narrowed her eyes at the floor, turning her head slightly toward where the elf had been. "Gray robes... mark of mage... maybe he was the ArchMage, which means *he* would be the rat from below Rhiassa! Sarlys *is* alive!" 'Well, that's a friggin' over-the-top performance answer, just to find out if some elf is alright. Thanks a billion, Eris... or Diskordia, whoever likes screwing with me today. Usually Diskordia.'
Just then, the tower rumbled as if a giant had leaned against the walls. Iawen reflectively ducked as a booming voice reached her good ear. "WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU SENT SOMETHING THERE?! WHERE DID YOU PUT THAT CRYSTAL?!"
It was the rat turned elf. Sarlys the ArchMage. And he sounded pretty pissed.
Iawen cursed out loud as she now frantically began searching for a way out, running towards the walls to perhaps find a frame or a crack to indicate a door. 'ABORT ABORT ABORT Go back home, get the crystal, make it into a necklace, find the letter ABORT ABORT ABORT' With no luck, Iawen dashed back to the area where the sigil was. 'Come on, come on, which rock was it?!' The familiar glimmering of magic used was noticed out of the corner of her eye, and Iawen faced it to see another archway appear in the wall.
Sarlys' voice echoed throughout the room, causing Iawen to dart her head this way and that. "What do you mean she is still here? Look, you, I'm going to straighten this all out anyway... Take me to the top of the tower this instant or I swear, I'll turn your stones to Jelly Beans!"
'How rude.' was Iawen's first thought, followed by 'What the hell is a Jelly Bean?' She turns her eyes skyward and address her silent host. "Le hannon, Room, but I must away for now. Drego!"
'Wendmor. Home. What is home? Is that home? Well, it's got my house in it. A house I had to pay for. I'm all out of money. Figures Chimeron starts actually paying people after I leave the kingdom. Some days, it doesn't pay to be me. But who else would I be? Well, if I could have just been a good omega then I could have been in the militia. Ugh...' Iawen peers down the archway, seeing nothing there, and looks behind her one last time into the room. 'So where is home? Home is where the heart is? My heart has been spurned a lucky three times now. So where do I keep my heart? In my chest. Is home in my chest? Does that make me a contortionist? Dammit, faerie curse! Could you focus for one friggin' second--!'
Lost in her thoughts, Iawen steps forward only to slam into the elf she had been avoiding. Sarlys was a frail mage and fell back onto his rump. He cringed from the impact. "OH..."
Instinctively, Iawen offered a hand to help the elf up, and then stepped past him to figure where a hallway might be. Instead, it was as if she had walked from one room to another adjoining, and where the other was rather sparse this room was smaller and yet practically filled to the brim with books, crystals, vials, bubbling beakers, and scrolls. Pendants hung from hooks, a couple of pendulums sat un-used in a small, sand-filled tray. Green glass bottles sat in a line with different colors of beads on each other, a metal disc sealed in with a symbol on each. A quick skim brought air, fire, earth, water, and aether to mind, but Iawen could not identify the rest. Papers written in elvish script were strewn everywhere, as if someone was researching a spell. Two head-sized orbs sat in one corner and a crystal ball in another, polished perfectly.
The elf finished dusting himself off and gave a polite thanks to Iawen. Then he paused. "Wait. Aren't you... don't I know you?"
'REALLY bollocks!' thought Iawen as she tucked the ticket away into her shelving unit, keeping her hands free from the sleeves. 'Act natural...if that's possible,' she mentally warned herself, and so she began to skim book titles and visually picking things up as best she could. 'Trapped now, might as well make the best of it.'
"Where do you think you are...?" the elf asked, after getting no response to his first question. The knight lightly placed a hand on top of a book so she could lean non-chalantly, but it went right through: the book was an illusion.
He smirked. "Umm, excuse me, miss... but what are you doing?" The elf walked further into the room to join her, and squarely looked into her face. "...Iawen, isn't it?"
The female frowned, backing up a step. Not only did he not respect personal space, but the elf's smirk reminded her of Gryf, Chimeron's Champion, and one of the romantic battles she had lost to him. Fine. If the elf was going to start off being a prat, Iawen could certainly play along. "Tancave," she replied evenly in Middle-Earth elvish, to see if he knew it. She only knew a couple of words from there: "Yes", "no", and "I'm wounded". Turns out the last one was particularly helpful, but she never experienced that war: only her mother did, and it was only the last three battles.
The elf snorted with Iawen's response. "Oh, please!" he exclaimed, rolling his eyes. "Granted, languages are complex things outside the tower, but everything in here translates to the native speaker's tongue! Well, once I think about it, it does." He shook his head, turning away and shuffling some papers together, placing them on a shelf. "I'm sorry for your 'kidnapping'; the tower apparently decided you were interesting enough to bring here." He faced Iawen again, hands folded behind his back. "The tower has been alone for some time and developed some very rude habits..." his eyes look all about the room as if appraising it briefly. "I will need to correct that."
Iawen's frown deepened. "If the Tower wishes to have guests, is that not a small whim that should be respected?" '...you pompous asshole? After all that happened under Rhiassa, all that we did to get you fixed or un-cursed? I thought we could be friends but sod it.' Iawen breezed past him in a dismissive step, heading out the way she came in. 'Tower. Exit.'
No entry came forth from the floor, the walls, nor even the ceiling. Iawen halted before a bookcase, stifling the new feeling of fear and stoking the annoyance factor as the elf casually responded, "Yes, it is okay for the tower to have guests, but not without first warning a person properly. I mean, snatching people from their homes in trickery isn't very pleasant."
'Arch.' Nothing. 'To the parlor room...?' Still nothing. Iawen cursed in her mind as she snapped, "Why should it warn thee? It's not like the Tower doesn't like you, correct?" 'Please, let me out, Tower.'
He laughed. "No, no, no, not me! Well, warning *me* would be nice. There are dangerous things in this tower that people should not have. However, warning the person who is being snatched..." he paused and tilted his head back, as if listening. "From what she tells me; she didn't exactly tell you she was taking you. "Oh, by all means," he added, "please sit if you wish." He lowered his head and snapped his fingers. Iawen whirled about and stumbled forward a couple of steps as a chair appeared behind her.
"I'd rather not sit, and I'll tell you why," Iawen's annoyance turning to anger. "Because I thought you were dead. You ARE Sarlys. I worried about your safety! Instead, I get an arrogant bastard filled with powers that I cannot hope to comprehend. You remind me of someone who loathes me, who hurts me, who makes me feel this big," Iawen gestures with her hand, "and had a hand in me having to leave a kingdom. I invited you to safety and tea because I thought there might be a kinship. Clearly, I thought wrong, for what could a powerful being such as yourself want for a dour friendship with a mortal?"
Inside, Iawen's heart felt emotionally drained. Too many times in this situation was she reminded of the South. She wanted to remember the good things: like Sir Cecil (just became Knight Commander of the Knights of the Realms) or all the bar(n)s in Qua Terreth Nuuna, or the smiles of Azure Guard when she had worked with them once. Instead, all she got was Nero's memories, Bouquet's memories, and the negative ones of her own.
'Trapped again.' thought Iawen, balling up here fists to fight. 'Held to somebody else's whim until they tire of me. It's the Dark Carnival all over again. Well, I won't be a bloody ring again, I won't! It's Nero and Faerie and Chimeron and Aurora and Xaos. Fuck this!'
The elf seemed surprised by Iawen's reaction, then gave a look of hurt. "I'm sorry... I didn't know you were waiting for me for tea. I'm not sure what you have been through..." he avoided her steel gaze, "or what you are thinking of me now. I guess that doesn't mean much."
The silence was overwhelming, and the elf gave a dejected sigh. "You have to say 'Balor Anon' to get a door way out of the tower," he spoke quietly, "or I could send you back if you have the token the Tower brought you here with." He turns away, and Iawen felt a twinge of guilt for being riled up.
But twinges can be easily worked out.
"No, thank you!" she snapped, refusing his offer as she rummaged through her garb. "Tea. Tomorrow afternoon, second bell. And Sarlys? Try to act like a wise elf instead of a wise ass." She tossed him a tin full of her smokes, and he caught them with a perplexed look. "So you can track me more easily; you seemed to be bad at that under Rhiassa. Balor Anon!" Iawen stated the last two words tersely, folding her hands over her chest and glaring as she faded from view.
At the base of a tower, Iawen looked all around her to see forest. The air and the trees felt... off to Iawen, but she chalked it up to enjoying the Nothing more than Gaia's groves at work. She turned to the tower, craning her neck to see how far into the sky it reached, and then sighed. Still angered, Iawen placed a hand on the Tower's outside wall and spoke to it quietly. "I'm sorry... I was not the most useful nor entertaining guest. I am honored that I got to visit you, however. Maybe next time, I'll understand a bit more, and we might... interact for a longer period of time?"
The stone warmed a bit under her touch, then faded. 'Well, at least the Tower isn't an ass,' Iawen thought as she picked a direction and began to walk. 'If there is a next time...at the very least, I can't be too lost.' Iawen halted at the forest's edge, and pulled the strip of cloth off her right hand, stretching it from end to end. "Find the Path to Wendmor," she spoke to the air quietly, a magical echo lying underneath each word. "Find the path to Wendmor, so I might walk it straight and true. Show me the way, using small lines of blue..."
In Iawen's eyes, small sparkles of magical energy swirled off the strip and onto the ground, showing a direction through her spectacles. She sighed and rummaged around for her smokes, then harrumphed. That's right, Iawen had tossed them to Sarlys. She strode into the tree line and followed the blue lines directly. After a few hours, Iawen made it into a large clearing, and couldn't help the audible "Whoa" that came forth as she tilted her head back.
A giant arch, bigger than any tower in Achoria, sat on a stone dais as wide as the feast hall in Chimeron. Iawen tentatively stepped onto it, running a hand against the rough stonework. All around the dais were broken ruins; whether statues or tablets or columns, Iawen couldn't tell. While there wasn't any dust or signs of natural age (moss or lichen upon stone, the rocks sinking into the earth), Iawen looked once more into the sky and came to the conclusion that she wasn't anywhere close to the Realms she knew. Specifically peering within her spectacles once again, the blue lines stopped at a pedestal not far from the dais. She dropped her hand to her side as she looked over the flat top. There was a perfectly round recess into the pedestal. Perhaps one of those orbs from Sarlys might have done the trick.
Iawen stood at the pedestal silently, her thoughts her own. Not a creature stirred around here, no singing birds, no predators or prey, nothing. Iawen let down her guard a bit, slumping over the top portion of the pedestal. She understood the Nothing, the Void... but for her, it was worse to be surrounded by THINGS and no heart-beat other than her own. Being alone was truly awful to Iawen. She'd much rather feel Nothing, know Nothing, then be alone, be abandoned or left behind. That's usually why she didn't leave Quazar behind if she could help it. She never wanted Quazar to feel like Iawen did as a ring, or as a construct. To Iawen, being left behind seemed unbearable.
Interrupting her thoughts, the hair on the back of Iawen's neck rose slightly. She raised her eyes above the pedestal's edge, scanning the tree line. She was certain she wasn't alone any longer. Someone or something from the shadows was watching her, paying attention. Iawen began to straighten up slowly.
Suddenly, there was a loud burst of noise next to Iawen, and she threw herself down to the ground, covering her head defensively. A familiar voice sounded over her thudding heart-beat: "Sorry, but if you want tea tomorrow; you'll forgive me for not waiting until later."
A shadow moved from behind a tree and and the elf pointed at it, releasing a large fire ball from one of his rings. In a whoosh of flame, the tree was incinerated. Iawen laid there, shocked as a blackened branch fell to the forest floor. Such power, indeed.
"Forgot about those," Sarlys casually remarked as he swirled his right hand in a circle. One of the orbs from his room came into being, and he offered his other hand to Iawen to help her up. "Take this," he said, "and place it in the recess here. You can then walk through the gate. It will put you as close as it can to where you want to go."
Iawen rolled over to face Sarlys, completely and utterly at a lost.
"Hurry, there are more than just one of those things around! Talk about it over tea, yes?" Sarlys dragged her to her feet and placed the orb in her hands. Iawen reflectively did as told, and the orb glowed. Iawen's eyes glazed over as she stared into the orb, and her hands seemed to work on their own, spinning the orb this way and that. Sarlys smiled but Iawen couldn't question him, couldn't ask a thing. The orb's color changed to scarlet as Iawen worked faster, and finally was able to think 'it's a key'.
Sarlys conjured his staff and spoke words unknown to Iawen. An arcane shield raised around him as the giant stone arch charged with a thunderous energy. "That's your way out! Take this!" The elf removed the orb and stuffed it into Iawen's hands. "*Go!*" He prodded her forward, breaking her out of her trance-like state. Iawen shook her head and saw that creatures cloaked in shadow were heading toward her and Sarlys. Sarlys, however, prodded her again and she dashed for the dais, hesitating at the stone arch. "What about you?! I won't leave you behind!" she shouted to him.
Sarlys planted his staff and a large blue orb enveloped his general area. The creatures of shadows crashed against it, pounding on the outside of the shield. All the while, Sarlys had on the same smirk. Iawen, completely bewildered, spent no more time on Sarlys, and jogged under the arch way.
"May I help you, miss...? My, you look a mess!"
"I just need to know where I am, not a quip on my current fashion state," came the flat reply.
The woman's face blushed almost as red as her tabbard. "You're on the northern border of Rhiassa... if you don't mind me asking miss, *where* did you come from?"
Iawen was leaning on a dilapidated pedestal, overgrown with briars and weeds. She looked over her shoulder, seeing nothing but a spotty tree line, and some fields beyond. There was no dais here, no arch. No tracks or prints or signs to show that Iawen had ever been there.
As she liked it.
"Miss?" the woman's voice was full of concern. "You look rather unwell."
Iawen glared at her. "I'm fine." Her eyes scanned down by her feet, a dull-looking spheroid had gotten loose. She picked it up and stared at her reflection. Gray, much like the orb itself. Iawen frowned. "Are you militia, then?" she asked the woman, who snapped to attention.
"Lead me to a safe road out of Rhiassa. I'm traveling north-west."
"As you wish..." the woman offered her shoulder, but Iawen refused.
As Iawen crested the last hill, she paused to catch her breath, gazing down into the small valley. For whatever reason, rain and snow didn't completely bury the ruined village from before, and with all the re-building weather in general wasn't a problem. Maybe Gaia wasn't a bad choice to thank after all for watching over Wendmor.
Iawen leaned on the a branch she had wrestled out of a tree; with no jacket and no winter gear she felt practically undead, or like one of the Rhymer's frozen constructs. She had stopped bitching to herself about the cold the second day out and kept plodding through. It was what she had to do during the day. Thankfully a white belt got her floor space at night: once at a farmstead, and once in a tavern. The tavern was the worst sleep, however, with common room revelry reaching a high peak. She smelled like soured beer from the wench who had accidentally dropped a tray on her. Iawen couldn't even muster up the energy to care at that point, for the next day; today, she was overlooking the place she wished to rebuild.
After all of that adventure, Iawen had a lot of time to think of different questions. Why would the tower wants guests? Why was it alone for so long? Where exactly was it? Another plane? On the prime material or mortal plane here, just far away? Was releasing Sarlys from his transmogrification curse a good idea? What the hell was that arch, and why was an abandoned pedestal at Rhiassa connected to it?
Iawen pulled out the orb again, and sneezed. She was already fending off a cold well enough before she decided to be 'adventurous'. Now it seemed that eve when she got home and would be warmed, she would be reaping the repercussions soon enough. It was in her nature to be adventurous on her lonesome, however. What else was she going to do, lead a village?
Iawen took a few steps under the pine trees, and rested her arm on the trunk. Placing her forehead atop, she allowed herself a good, emotional cry. Confusion, bewilderment, stress, and anger all seemed to drip down into the ground with her tears, until she was left with the calm that Kellerburan taught her about. That, and exhaustion. Wiping her face hastily, Iawen made the final trek down into Wendmor. A mid-wife scolded her for being out in the snow dressed like *that*, and the baker gave her a fresh loaf on the house seeing as she needed some food.
With a slam, Iawen pushed open her door with the butt end of her stick, then tossed the branch aside before entering the home. The fire had gone out completely. Feets was curled up in its cage, but raised its head at the noise. Iawen reached into her shelving unit to view the complete ticket as she placed the orb on the floor; it rolled into a corner. The blue crystal, bereft of light, was still sitting on the table. The folded piece of paper was replaced by the papers that had burned up, but they bore no evidence of fortune telling upon them.
The knight shut the door, stripped down and grabbed her one chemise. She then took her spectacles and placed them on the table as she passed by, walking to her cot. Rolling into it, she pulled the blanket she had up to her chin, and place one arm behind her head on the pillow.
Iawen promptly passed out.
Created by Janna Oakfellow-Pushee at 02-17-10 02:59 PM
Last Modified by Janna Oakfellow-Pushee at 11-29-10 12:58 PM