Of Winters and Warm Fires

Farinyir's Basin; Harroc, Mara, Khan

Domrhask, with eight magnificent towers, is Khy'eras' northernmost city governed by Dwarves. A cautious group due to past incidents, Dwarves do not easily invite adventurers inside and disapprove of magic in their city, no matter the type. Read more...
User avatar
Galynhun-Khan Tinnudir
Character
Khy'eras' Greatest Detective
Level
01
24 / 24 HP
16 / 16 MP
0p / 0g / 0s / 50c
Race: Kerasoka
Class: Ranger
Posts: 13
Joined: October 27th, 2019, 8:28 pm
Been thanked: 1 time

Of Winters and Warm Fires

Post by Galynhun-Khan Tinnudir »

The blasted cold didn’t sit well with the elven Ranger, though Asfaloth seemed to be particularly agreeable. The pair had been tracking a small herd of deer through the morning, something Khan found regrettable if not for his dwindling supply of rations; but it was what it was. Necessity was often the mother of all things. The intricately carved bow had been drawn, and an arrow did rest upon its nock on the string though it hadn’t been pulled back as yet. What did his Elven eyes see cast, but hoofprints in the snow as his familiar stalked along with him. The tracks told him the herd was moving more-or-less together, at an even gait. Perhaps moving toward a source of water, or in search of something to graze.

Khan came to an all-stop, wordlessly willing Asfaloth to a halt as well as the ranger knelt down to inspect the tracks, now diverging in many directions as if in a panic. Had he followed too closely and alerted them to his pursuit already? Even after hundreds of years of hunting, Galynhun made mistakes, but it seemed….unlikely. As he rose back to his full height, the snow that had gathered on his dark cloak was swept away to join the rest of the whitewashed plane. A shiver rocketed up his spine, though not from the unbearable, damnable cold wind that threatened to give even the most seasoned traveler frostbitten extremities. Fractions of a second later, his companion stiffened up, sensing it too.

And there it was, the missing clue to his current conundrum. Something had indeed frightened his prey. It was faint, but there was another scent on the wind, clearly distinguished from the indigenous creatures of the frozen scape. Ah, not something but someone. Beneath the hood, his face turned dark with a scowl. Irtuen was renowned for its highwaymen and general banditry, though Khan had hoped not to encounter people out this far. His offhand moved to stroke his familiar’s fur once or twice to calm her. “Easy, girl,” he uttered, barely audible. Though it wouldn’t have taken much more than a whisper to carry across the open space with ease and give away his position.

Asfaloth remained firm, all but confirming what he already knew. ‘Twas no beast, but a man out there that had forced his quarry away. If curiosity had been what killed the proverbial cat, Khan would have been died a hundred times over. With a silent nod, the ranger resolved to investigate further. The hand ceased petting his wolf of gray, still happy to prance in the snow. The pair trudged onward, away now from the hoofprints and toward the new intrigue. Khan let his familiar take point, knowing her nose was far more finely honed than his own…
Word count: 470
User avatar
Harroc Crownegrove
Character
Disciples of Balance, Defender of the Woods
Level
01
24 / 24 HP
21 / 21 MP
0p / 0g / 0s / 50c
Race: Elemental and Shapeshifter
Class: Druid
Posts: 140
Joined: August 5th, 2019, 1:48 am
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 4 times

Re: Of Winters and Warm Fires

Post by Harroc Crownegrove »

Harroc was not a man made for the colder climates. He felt the biting wind cut through a small gap in his fur lined chest piece as he stumbled, his boot landing in a deeper snowdrift than he expected. To add to his woes, he was laden with the heaviest gear he’d ever worn. His normal thin trousers and tunic replaced with fur lined leathers. His gauntlets and chest piece also reinforced against the cold. He was even wearing gloves and a series of scarves that felt as though they were lightly choking him.

“I am terribly unhappy with this place,” he said in a muffled complaint to Mara as he came to a halt. “The keeper in the lowlands said this was where the great beast resides, but I find myself uncertain a noble guardian would live in such an unforgiving place and need our help,” he added as he looked ahead at unseen forms. He’d sensed the life of the deer ahead of them for some time now. It seemed they’d gotten close enough to scatter the creatures.

With a frustrated sigh Harroc stretched his shoulders. “I’m going to shift and get us moving to a higher place. See if we can get the lay of this valley we’re supposed to be following,” he added through his layers of scarves. “Then we can find something to eat,” he said as he tensed his muscles.

The druid lept into the air, shifting in a roiling mass of expanding green light and smoke before he reappeared. Where he had landed there was a great wolf, just over 18 hands at the shoulder. The body was long and sleek, but powerfully muscled, beneath a coat of silver and black. Despite the creature’s size, it rested lightly on the snow making large depressions but not sinking.

Harroc’s breath came in huge clouds of sparkling mist as he shook off the last vestiges of his shift. Comfortable, he spread his paws outward and lifted his muzzle to let out a slow mournful howl. It wasn’t deafening like he was capable of, merely meant to announce his presence to the surrounding packs It was considered rude to wander in without offering a greeting after all.

The sound stretched, echoing off the hills even with the dampening snows. There were several minutes of silence before faint replies echoed back. Harroc turned his massive head and gave Mara a wolfish grin, his tongue lolling out of his mouth. ‘Get high, hunt, feast,’ Harroc thought as the wolf instinct began to bleed into his thoughts, pushing a thrill of excitement into his chest.
Last edited by Harroc Crownegrove on November 2nd, 2019, 5:54 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Word count: 443
User avatar
Mara Whitewood
Character
Disciple of Ristgir
Level
01
24 / 24 HP
20 / 20 MP
0p / 0g / 0s / 50c
Race: Human
Class: Cleric
Posts: 24
Joined: September 13th, 2019, 5:49 am
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Of Winters and Warm Fires

Post by Mara Whitewood »

The Irtuen Reaches was a place Mara had only experienced second hand, either as words on a page or tales from passing travelers. Until recently she never would have seen herself making the journey there, if only because safe passage was significantly more expensive, to say nothing of the dangers she might encounter on her own. Compared to Ajteire, it seemed alien and altogether uninhabitable.

Harroc apparently shared this opinion. If he had not said so explicitly, Mara would have guessed based on the amount of grumbling emanating from his direction and the degree to which he seemed to struggle with the trek through the snow. She couldn't blame him, and in truth, if he had not been there, she would have been faring far worse. Her staff could not sweep the ground as effectively, and it became necessary to reach out and take hold of Harroc's arm more than once to stop herself from pitching headlong into the ice.

Mara paused beside her druidic companion and leaned a little heavily on her staff. Like him, she was kitted out for their wintry excursion in a mixture of thick wool and furs, with hide boots fashioned expressly to keep out moisture. One hand, sheathed in a thick wool-lined glove, rose to pull a red scarf below her chin. She was huffing a little from the hike and her breath joined his in plumes of steam on the brisk wind.

"It is entirely my fault," she admitted apologetically, and not for the first time. "We might have gotten ahead of the snowfall if we had left sooner. I was naive to think I would be unaffected by the higher altitude."

Within the first few days on the mountains, Mara had overextended herself and fainted, necessitating they stop and take shelter to recuperate. In so doing, they had eaten into their rations and assorted supplies which only complicated matters in the present moment.

Mara nodded and drew away slightly to give Harroc space when he declared his intention to shift. She pushed her scarf back over her reddening nose and clung to her staff to wait for the transformation to be complete. It was over in a matter of minutes, concluded with a soft tremor through the earth under her feet when he landed on all fours, and a throaty introductory howl.

Although she couldn't see it, Mara sensed the vaguely smug look Harroc threw her way and shook her hooded head. "Yes, yes. You are a very impressive specimen," she said with feigned exasperation, stretching out a beseeching arm in his direction. "If you would be so kind as to help me to a flat spot I will start clearing away snow for a fire while you hunt. I think I hear water nearby, too."

Snow had a way of muffling sound, casting an eerie kind of quiet over the area. That was true here. In the few minutes they had stopped, her sensitive hearing had detected a faint susurration, as of moving water a short distance away. Likely Harroc's newly acquired canine senses picked it up, too, and he could locate it faster.
Word count: 523
User avatar
Galynhun-Khan Tinnudir
Character
Khy'eras' Greatest Detective
Level
01
24 / 24 HP
16 / 16 MP
0p / 0g / 0s / 50c
Race: Kerasoka
Class: Ranger
Posts: 13
Joined: October 27th, 2019, 8:28 pm
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Of Winters and Warm Fires

Post by Galynhun-Khan Tinnudir »

The stillness of the environ was quite unsettling, but the veteran ranger held no fear. Reservations, yes; any brigands hard enough to eke out an existence this far North had to be worth pausing to consider actually engaging them. Still, Khan pressed in the only direction there was: onward. At times he liked to believe that when one opportunity was missed, another presented itself. Not necessarily better than the previous one, however.

Moving fast in such an extreme climate, particularly one he was unaccustomed to, had an unfortunate tendency to sap the body’s reserves rather quickly. On the same token, so did moving slowly. Galynhun met both risks in the middle and settled on a brisk walk, still careful of leaving much in the way of tracks behind them, lest the hunter became the hunted. Their path became difficult as the terrain shifted to an uphill track, Khan opting to continue up it rather than waste the extra time going around it. Breathing became labored, visible in the freezing air by the time the pair reached the crest of the small hill.

Galynhun paused again, his familiar doing the same out of instinct. In part, born of a need to catch his breath for just a moment, and in part due to spotting the faint outlines of two creatures seemingly mirroring himself and Asfaloth, though the canine counterpart appeared much, much larger than the average wolf—even at that distance. Beneath the dark hood, his scowl turned upward slightly to a wry sort-of half-smile. The great wolf bellowed out an equally-great howl, prompting his own companion to talk back in their native language.

Asfaloth planted both of her front paws, using the whole of her body to return the call with a mighty “AWOOOOO!”, punctuated only by the echo of it reverberating across the frozen scape. Khan’s smile faded quickly, replaced by a groaning wince through clenched jaw. Sensing her master’s displeasure, the she-wolf turned as he crouched down in a vain attempt to conceal himself. Though he wasn’t quite as tall as most of his kind, Khan was taller still than the average human. The earthy tones of his garb made it especially difficult to blend in against the stark white backdrop of snow, though the more that fell did all the more to help obfuscate him.

Reflexively, Asfaloth went down to her belly as well, but it was likely all in vain as their position had been broadcast to any who were within earshot. Carefully, Galynhun properly readied his bow with a second arrow, clasping each nock between his fingers and drew back the string with ease. The wolf whined a bit, as if realizing her mistake (though unable to help herself). ”It’s alright,” he urged in the same hushed tone, teeth still baring down on each other. “We’ve been in worse spots, eh?”

Khan closed his non-dominant eye, judging the pair of travelers he had abandoned his quarry to track to be just shy of his accuracy. Wait for them to close, he willed himself silently. The thought had occurred, they might be in as dire need of supplies and rest as he and Asfaloth were; simple adventurers on a quest, rather than highwaymen. And there was still the possibility that they would take no interest in him, though that seemed folly and hubris. Time would dictate his course of action, be it to extend a proverbial olive branch, or loose a hail of arrows and maneuver to a more suitable firing position.
Word count: 592
User avatar
Harroc Crownegrove
Character
Disciples of Balance, Defender of the Woods
Level
01
24 / 24 HP
21 / 21 MP
0p / 0g / 0s / 50c
Race: Elemental and Shapeshifter
Class: Druid
Posts: 140
Joined: August 5th, 2019, 1:48 am
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 4 times

Re: Of Winters and Warm Fires

Post by Harroc Crownegrove »

Harroc nodded his assent to Mara’s request and moved closer to kneel beside her. There was some shuffling and then she was nestled into his broad back. He took a few tentative steps in a wide circle, letting her get truly settled before he began to increase his speed. Mara was right about the faint sound of water. He had sensed the stream, but knew that travelling near it could be dangerous this high into the Reaches. He’d also heard the lone she-wolf on a nearby hillside. It wasn’t yet clear if she was a roaming scout for a pack, or simply an adventurous hunter in her prime seeking prey.

With his companion settled, Harroc began a slow loping jog towards the source of water. He gave little care towards remaining hidden. His massive form and long ranging greeting had already revealed their location. Stealth was out of the game, and if there were any untoward travellers about they’d simply have to deal with them in a more direct fashion.

As they left their rise and entered the slow sloping valley Harroc took the time to let his paws sink into the lighter drifts of snow. The wide spray of powdery white amused him and did little to impede his movements. Perhaps he would visit this place again one day after they’d completed their quest. It would be nice to explore without the pressing need of a summons.

It was on his third dash through a drift that Harroc smelled the scent of Elf. He skidded to a halt, baring his teeth and tossing his head about to catch the scent more fully. It was coming from where the she-wolf had howled. He planted his feet and let out a low keening wail, {Danger, Man, Safe?} He wanted to make sure the she-wolf hadn’t been hunted. If there was an apex so close it could only mean one of a few things. ‘Companion, Predator, or Prey,’ Harroc thought to himself as he shuffled around trying to get a more solid fix on the scents of the she-wolf and the elf.
Last edited by Harroc Crownegrove on November 2nd, 2019, 5:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Word count: 356
User avatar
Mara Whitewood
Character
Disciple of Ristgir
Level
01
24 / 24 HP
20 / 20 MP
0p / 0g / 0s / 50c
Race: Human
Class: Cleric
Posts: 24
Joined: September 13th, 2019, 5:49 am
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Of Winters and Warm Fires

Post by Mara Whitewood »

Riding astride was almost never a fun experience for Mara. In lieu of sight she had learned to interpret the world utilizing her other senses, including minor vibrations in the earth. This had provided her with, at the very least, the illusion of control, which vanished as soon as she was in the air. Astride any kind of beast, her feet dangling freely, there was always a distinct feeling of helplessness.

Somehow, up on Harroc's furry back, the feeling was somehow both better and worse. Conscious of her awkwardness and her anxiety, he did his best to make sure she was comfortable and secure, padding slowly about in wide circles while she arranged her limbs. She was getting better at acclimating herself to the shifting, rolling muscle underneath the pelt, but she hadn't quite managed to overcome the stomach-dropping disorientation that seemed to accompany being aloft sans control.

Mara found a position that felt adequate and gave Harroc's flank a light squeeze with her heels to let him know she was ready. She had to keep a firm grip on the thick fur of his scruff once they began moving in earnest, not because he was ungainly, but because he simply did not move like the horses she had ridden. He had a good deal more range of motion for start, which never felt more obvious than when he topped the hill in a few bounding steps.

Gritting her teeth and counting down the moments until she would be back on solid earth again, Mara became alarmed when he suddenly stopped and began to cast about, snuffling energetically. Harroc's sides heaved between her knees with every deep breath, and she swear she could hear his massive lungs inflate as he took in the necessary breath to howl. She felt that, too, vibrating through her body to her very bones.

"What? Is it trouble?" Mara spoke directly into the fur of his back, her voice hushed out of consideration for the tension she sensed within him. In spite of the question, she did not anticipate he would answer with words -- none that she would understand. Nevertheless, she had begun to interpret the various grunts, growls and yips as long as she kept the questions straightforward.

Sitting up a little, she leaned towards his left ear. "Should I get down?"
Word count: 389
User avatar
Galynhun-Khan Tinnudir
Character
Khy'eras' Greatest Detective
Level
01
24 / 24 HP
16 / 16 MP
0p / 0g / 0s / 50c
Race: Kerasoka
Class: Ranger
Posts: 13
Joined: October 27th, 2019, 8:28 pm
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Of Winters and Warm Fires

Post by Galynhun-Khan Tinnudir »

The great wolf’s second howl echoed throughout the valley, Asfaloth cocked her head to the side for just a moment as if considering the apparent question posed to her. Straightening she brayed in response, yipping out a short yodel-ey bark for punctuation, affirming that her ‘master’ (if he could truly be called that) was not one of malicious intent, at least toward her. She turned back to Khan, whimpering a bit. The ranger’s grasp of the canine tongue was far poorer than her grasp upon Common or Elvish, but their bond allowed for communication through closeness and keen senses. ”Hm?” the elf queried lowly at his companion’s request to unready the arrows poised to be loosed. Khan turned his head just slightly to see his friend’s body language and pondered his own response for a moment.

The she-wolf arched her head up to the wind, taking in the scent, and relaxed her body significantly. ”Very well,” the elf resigned, controlling the release of the taut bowstring. The hand that gripped the bow held the arrows by their shanks, refusing to be caught unawares by any sort of danger. Swiftly, he rose back to his full height, snow shifting off his cloak as Asfaloth shook with all her might to clear her body of the powdery precipitation. It was seldom the wolf was wrong in her assessments of threats, her extrasensory perceptions bordering on otherworldly. Khan had to wonder if she possessed the magic he had been robbed of, hundreds of years ago. It was a terrible thing to remember what was lost, particularly when it was intertwined with one’s literal being.

Against his better judgment, the ranger raised his offhand and waved it about for the traveler and the great wolf to behold, confirming his exact location. ”Ho! Down there!” he bellowed at them in a haggard baritone, his voice the consistency of ground glass. It was a fool who gave away their high ground, be it literal or otherwise, but it was a callused wretch who refused to offer aid when possible. Khan leapt forward just over the edge of the crest to glide down the snowy bank upon his backside, gracefully landing upon both boot-clad feet at the bottom. The she-wolf followed suit, bounding down the gentle slope, and plowed into a pile of soft snow just behind her ranger.

The pair marched on, Khan figuring the very least he could do was meet them halfway. Though it was at the ready, his bow remained pointed downward as he strode with a purposeful gait toward the lake and what could have just as easily been some kind of elaborate trap on the travelers’ part. Green eyes remained trained-and-fixed upon the horizon, pointed ears poised to listen for the first sign of trouble on the lengthy approach. Muscles were taut beneath his heavy garb, coiled like serpents ready to strike. Asfaloth remained at ease, trotting happily, tongue and tail wagging, certain there was no clear and present danger to face.
Word count: 506
User avatar
Harroc Crownegrove
Character
Disciples of Balance, Defender of the Woods
Level
01
24 / 24 HP
21 / 21 MP
0p / 0g / 0s / 50c
Race: Elemental and Shapeshifter
Class: Druid
Posts: 140
Joined: August 5th, 2019, 1:48 am
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 4 times

Re: Of Winters and Warm Fires

Post by Harroc Crownegrove »

Harroc was certain the elf and she-wolf were close to each other. Their scents mingled like those that had been in pursuit for a long while. He grunted and huffed, shaking his mane gently to ensure Mara didn’t try to dismount. If the need came he could bolt with her, she’d be bruised and exhausted, but they could get away from here. Then there was a reply to his call, a plaintive rolling bark following several playful yips. {Friend. Safe.} Harroc let his tongue loll out, still wary but willing to meet with the she-wolf.

He took slow plodding steps forward, letting his head swing side to side to track all around. If there were others he couldn’t smell them. Only the faint tingle of prey, the elf, and the she-wolf. She smelled nice, strong, experienced and still in her prime. He wanted to give her a good sniff to learn her story. Then perhaps they could hunt together, it was always nice to have a friend that could run.

Then he spotted the elf, lifting out of the snow like browned ghost of leather and cloth. He growled softly before returning some happy yipps as the pair came down the slope and the wolf burst through snow. Harroc resisted the urge to bound over to them, aware his size was troublesome to most two-legs. Instead he took slow lopes, moving forward at a clean pace that wouldn’t jostle Mara overmuch.

When he felt like he was in greeting range he halted and lowered himself down to let Mara stand. Once she’d slipped off he gave a happy bark to the she-wolf. He wanted to snuffle her, know her, put his scent on her. He was strong, young, powerful and able to run far. Instead he stood, staring at her with his tongue lolling out. He would let her come to him first.
Word count: 318
User avatar
Mara Whitewood
Character
Disciple of Ristgir
Level
01
24 / 24 HP
20 / 20 MP
0p / 0g / 0s / 50c
Race: Human
Class: Cleric
Posts: 24
Joined: September 13th, 2019, 5:49 am
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Of Winters and Warm Fires

Post by Mara Whitewood »

For a few minutes Mara's world shrank to a small bubble of space encompassing herself and her companion. Other than the sounds of her and Harroc's breathing and the crunch of snow under his massive paws, she couldn't hear a single sound. The air above her was cold, with a bite sharp enough to feel through the wool drawn across her face. By contrast, the broad back beneath her was reassuringly solid and delectably warm.

Mara did not know where they were going anymore, or why. She held fast, bent low across Harroc's back, and waited in fraught silence as one moment bled into the next. Judging by the energy quivering through his muscles, she judged that they were probably not in imminent danger, and she took some reassurance from that. However, unaware of all the facts and lacking a clear form of communication with him, she could not help but be wary.

Then a voice like shifting earth reached her ears, flung from the proverbial dark at quite a distance. Mara immediately caught her breath and cocked her head, turning her ear in the direction from which it had come. The hands fisted in Harroc's scruff tightened briefly, conveying more clearly her unease.

Before too long, Harroc was slowing, and she could hear more clearly the sounds of others -- more specifically their movement through the snow. As her druid friend lowered his body to the earth, signalling wordlessly that she was to disembark, Mara did so with less grace than she would have liked. The crisp surface of the snow gave under her boots and she had to scrabble not to lose her balance as she sank up to her shins in an as yet undiscovered drift.

Bundled up from head to toe like she was, details about who or what Mara might be were not immediately obvious save for the fact that she was not very tall. A staff of polished white oak protruded from under her cloak, just visible over her shoulder, and a large canvas satchel rode her hip. She kept a gloved hand pressed against it, almost protectively, as she turned to face the elf's approach. The other rested on Harroc's shoulder, for support as much as anything else.

Mara craned her head towards the sound of footsteps. Afternoon sunlight glinted briefly off of the bright metal of her visor, momentarily reflecting it across the snow like a mirror. After a pause, she lifted her hand from her bag and tugged the scarf from her mouth, revealing a swath of pale skin and a pointed chin.

"Blessed day to you," she ventured somewhat breathlessly. "I hope my friend and I have not trespassed. Harroc?"

Uttering his name quietly, as if for only his ears alone, she gave the druid's shoulder a gentle push. "If you please?" she added more softly.
Word count: 476
User avatar
Harroc Crownegrove
Character
Disciples of Balance, Defender of the Woods
Level
01
24 / 24 HP
21 / 21 MP
0p / 0g / 0s / 50c
Race: Elemental and Shapeshifter
Class: Druid
Posts: 140
Joined: August 5th, 2019, 1:48 am
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 4 times

Re: Of Winters and Warm Fires

Post by Harroc Crownegrove »

He felt Mara sliding off his back and rose to his full height. Then he was distracted as she sank into the snow. He moved closer to her, shielding her from the light wind and letting her use him as a support. He whined softly, nuzzling at her shoulder to make sure she was okay. For the briefest moment he wondered what the elf thought, but then decided he didn’t care. He locked his gaze onto the she-wolf again, pushing outward with his power and presence. He wanted to go and play with her, smell her, run with her, but he had to stay and protect Mara.

Then there was talking and she said his name. He bumped his muzzle into her shoulder again softly. She pushed him and he whined, understanding he would not get to play. He pushed her back, blowing out her hair with a great breath. He wanted to run, to be free, not to be trapped in the snow. Then he remembered that he was here to bring her safely. He pawed at the ground before shaking softly and stepping away from Mara. He took a great leap, aiming for a packed bit of snow.

His roiling shift back was smooth but much more sudden than usual. He landed with his feet planted wide and looked around for a moment. “I want to hunt, we need food. What is her name hunter?” he turned, again locking eyes onto the she-wolf as he walked back over to stand beside Mara. The influence of the dire wolf was not so easily shaken. ‘Strong, fast, big, prove worth by hunting, bring back a feast,’ he thought as he completely ignored the elf hunter.

“Do you know a safe flat place to rest, so we can hunt?” he asked the man without looking up. She looked so soft, and warm, and strong. Harroc felt his fingers flexing of their own accord.
Last edited by Harroc Crownegrove on November 2nd, 2019, 5:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Word count: 323
Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests