Zion - Light of the New Moon, Part 2
The party continues onward. Since Contributing Readers for Elias and Elesin did not provide a vote, each character loses another Willpower (and another -2 Favor for Bannihar)... ouch. The modifiers to Bannihar for this chapter are currently + Willpower and - Delay if successful or ++ Delay and - Luck if a failure. These can still be modified.
'The Risen' rolled its way along the Highway. With two people able to fit into the wagon at a time, rest periods were limited to 6 hours. Elesin sat with her back to one of the wagon walls, the back of her single-edged, cleaver-like sword pressed against her knee as she ran a whetstone along the business-end of the blade. Every now and again she'd glance to Sebastian, who was laying down, wings pulled in tight around his body, beak resting on his crossed talons, not unlike a big dog napping.
"So what's YOUR deal?" she asked as she put the finishing touches on her sword.
The two fur-tufts on either side of Sebatian's head raised, "My... deal?"
"Yea." the kangaroo put her whetstone away, "I mean... a talking gryphon? Those aren't too common." she gave her sword a firm swing, burying the blade a half-inch into the wood of the wagon; she left it there with the hilt pointing toward her for easy access.
"What makes you say that?" Seastian inquired, not so much as raising his head.
"Well... before you, I've never seen one."
"Just because you've never seen a talking gryphon before me doesn't mean we are all that rare." Sebastian countered, opening a single eyes and turning it to face her, pupil dialating as it focused in, "Besides... you couldn't tell a talking gryphon by sight... so, by all rights, you'd have to say, before me you've never HEARD one."
"Before you, I've never heard one." Elesin corrected herself without so much as a pause.
"Just because you've never heard a talking gryphon before me doesn't mean we're all that rare." Sebastian modified his comment, likewise without even batting an eye.
"Alright... fair's fair." the kangaroo noted resolutely, "So how many talking gryphons have YOU seen?"
"Heard." Sebastian closed his eye.
"A whole herd?" the battle mage questioned.
"A group of gryphons is called a pride." the gryphon corrected.
"Not a flock?" Elesin asked.
A wide, beaky grin split Sebastian's face, "Flock no."
"Did you just say--?"
"Flock." the gryphon repeated, "But if you want you can think I said fuc--"
"That beak of yours could get you into trouble some day." Elesin chuckled, rubbing her first finger against her thumb, grinding the metal dust into her paw pads.
"Some day?" Sebastian raised his head, feathery ear-tufts sticking straight up as his tail lashed mirthfully from side to side, "Lady... that ship sailed a long time ago." he turned his head to face her more fully, "This thing gets me in trouble ALL the time." and he clacked his beak several times for good measure.
"Isn't that always the way?" Elesin replied, curling the tip of her tail around her ankle, chuckling, "Oh... I remember the first time I said something that came out all wrong in just the right way." she giggled like a school girl.
"Oh?" the gryphon asked, "My problem is for me it usually comes out just right in all the wrong ways."
"'Comes out just right in all the wrong ways'... heh... sounds like my last flock." Elesin grinned wryly.
"Did you just say--?"
The kangaroo's grin widened, "Maybe." and she leaned back against the wall again, "Anyway... enough about our respective prides..." she chuckled to herself, "I want to know your deal."
"I don't have a deal." Sebastian answered, laying his head back down with his eyes still on her.
"Everyone has a deal, gryphon." Elesin countered, pulling her sword out of the wood. She inspected it briefly before sheathing it again.
"I don't." he insisted, "I'm just here to help Roarg."
"That's quite a friendship you have if you're willing to travel all over the Wild Lands just to help out your badger." Elesin pointed out.
"Nah..." Sebastian shrugged, his wings unfolding slightly with the motion, "I'm used to the Wild Lands... I'm a 'nasty-killer-Wild-Lands-beast-creature', remember?"
"Mmm." the kangaroo acknowledged mirthfully, "Sometimes that's easy to forget... I haven't met too many well-adjusted 'nasty-killer-Wild-Lands-beast-creatures'."
"Just because you've never met many well adjusted 'nasty-killer'--"
"Oh stop that!" Elesin laughed, and she hurled a small sack of grain across the wagon at the gryphon.
"Oof!" Sebastian hammed up the impact, "Ow! That could have been the end of me!" he noted, pointedly sliding the bag away from him several inches before laying his head down on it.
"Usually I'm deadly with a pouch of wheat... that's why everyone's so afraid of me." the kangaroo boasted melodramatically.
"And here I thought it was because you were Moon Crazed." the gryphon smirked.
"Nope... it's because grain is my murder weapon of choice..." and she leaned a few inches closer, lowering her voice for effect, "you see... I'm a--"
"Cereal killer." Sebastian finished for her in a bland tone, and was forced to protect himself from an incoming bag of rye, laughing the whole while.
* * * * * *
The path was dark, but the cool, soothing, pale-blue glow from Kayte's Divine Shield allowed Elias to guide the wagon. The thurible was hanging from her staff, which had been slid securely into the notch next to the wagon's driving bench, the one usually reserved for a lantern. The censer was lit, giving off a pleasing aroma of cinnamon and fennel but, unlike a mundane incense holder, the Divine Shield released a gentle, whorling cloud of silvery smoke that glowed with its own light. Kayte had taken to using it on a more regular basis after leaving Cliffholm.
"Elias?" she asked quietly, glancing over at the stoic armadillo seated beside her.
"Hmm?" he acknowledged, his fingers unconsciously tightening up slightly on the reins at the sound of her voice. He glanced from the road to her, "What's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong." she smiled reassuringly, "I was just..." she paused, cocking her head to the side. "You're from Zion... aren't you?"
A smile fought its way across Elias' muzzle; he had difficulty making small talk, but it got much more difficult when it was about him and his past, "I am." he nodded, "originally."
"Tell me about it." she requested, facing straight at him, she reached over and wrapped her paws around his forearm.
The smile became a fraction more genuine at her touch. He reached across himself and gently slid his fingers through her mane, pushing it back over her shoulder, "You don't have to ask... honest." he offered.
"I'm not asking because I 'have to', Elias Hewen." Kate stated, hinting at a condescending tone, "I WANT to know about you."
The armadillo went to open his muzzle, but, thinking better, closed it. He rubbed his sideburns with his free hand and fell silent... but only for a moment, "Sorry..." he apologized, "I'm used to people taking an interest in me for all the wrong reasons."
Kayte stroked his arm and patted him on the back the hand holding the reins, "There's no wrong reason to want to get to know someone, Elias."
"There is if they're trying to take advantage of you." the armadillo stated, perhaps a little colder than he had planned.
"You..." Kayte paused, ears alternating between forward and flat, "think I want to take--"
"No! No!" he quickly objected, "You? No! Not you! I mean..." he paused, eyes frantically searching for some hint at what he could say that wouldn't only mess up the discussion further, "...other people."
"Other people?" she asked, "Such as?"
Elias cleared his throat, "There are people who take advantage of others because of their position..." his eyes went back to the road and the armadillo gave the reins a light flick, using the attention to his job as a driver to take a few extra seconds to plan his next words, "...and... I was in a position as a well-to-do Geomancer that... on a few occasions... some women would... try to..." he cleared his throat, "ingratiate themselves... into... my..." he slowly gazed back at Kayte, who wore a huge smile. She leaned forward and kissed him. "...favor." he stated when the kiss ended. "Now I'm confused."
"I'm a Priestess of Bannihar, Elias." Kayte answered simply, "Of COURSE I know what you mean."
"You... do?" he asked, ears rising.
"Sycophants, Mr Well-to-Do Geomancer... people who are looking for favors, money, power... anything they can without having to work for it." her tail beat pleasantly against the wooden bench, "Did you think priests and priestesses couldn't be targets of that kind of thing?"
"Well... I just... I mean..." he felt his ears reddening as he blushed, "I didn't think that... you're not like me-- you're too smart to fall for..." he paused, "Kayte?" he looked straight at her, "I'm not after anything from you."
The priestess alternated between a smile and a frown, as if she were trying to figure out how to take the comment. In the end, she laughed. "Oh Goddess, Elias... that was the last thing on my mind!"
"But it's true." the Geomancer stated with certainty, "Whether you were thinking it or not, I don't ever want you to doubt it... because I'm not."
The priestess rolled her eyes, "Alright..." she smirked, adding in a bemused tone, "And I'm not after anything from you." she stated, "Regardless of how beautiful and gorgeous your gifts are, I would be happy enough without them just knowing that--" and it was Elias' turn to silence her with a kiss. "What was that for?" she asked with a faint smile.
"I've never known anyone who would be happy without gifts." the armadillo admitted.
"You're kidding..." the priestess smiled. Elias shook his head, gazing down slightly. "Oh, sweetheart..." Kayte's smile disappeared as she slowly pressed a paw to the side of his cheek as she gazed at him, "Not everyone has to have their affections bought." she leaned over in the bench and wrapped her arms around him, "You're an amazing man, Elias Hewen... if people don't realize that... if they're only in your life because of what you can give them or make for them then they obviously don't see the most valuable thing about you is you."
The armadillo didn't respond to the comment, he simply sat, staring forward at the dark road as the wolf comforted him. He didn't reach up to wipe the tears away from his eyes, or to smooth out the errant tufts of fur that were sticking up with unfettered emotion. He just breathed, waiting for his voice to steady before saying, "I was born in the northwest part of Zion... called Second Quarter." it had been ages since he had discussed his home, "My grandfather raised me, and taught me everything he knew about stone working and Geomancy."
Though scarcely a day had gone by in which Elias hadn't thought about his grandfather, it was the first time in years he had ever spoken about him aloud. It was one of many things he revealed to her as he told her everything. There were few moments in the armadillo's life when he felt inclined to discuss anything about himself, let alone the most private of topics: his past. That, however, was one such moment.
Elias continued talking and Kayte continued to listen. She didn't need to ask any questions and he didn't need any prompting; he continued talking... talking for hours, which was something he had never done. It was probably because it was the first time Elias felt he actually had someone listening to him for something other than orders... and it felt good.
* * * * * *
Chapter 2.2 for the Bannihar group in Zion: Light of the New Moon part 2.
The focus of this week's post is on Elesin talking with Sebastian as well as Elias and Kayte. Next week the group will get down to business with their event arc.
Contributing Readers should visit the journal post located here:
This will tell you all you need to know about your contributions for this week. Make sure you help secure the safety of the travelers from Bannihar; you have until Thursday, December 15th to do so!