Welcome to Chapter 4.2 for Bannihar!
In this post Elias and Kayte have a rather pointed discussion about how important understanding relationships can be and why it's important to continue to work on them. Either she complains a lot or he's really not good relationship material... or both? Oh... and interesting stuff too: the group's getting chased by a Torment-- that's kinda big deal as well!
It's now time for Contributing Readers to vote! The group will be encountering another traveling party displaying the flag of Myre. Keep in mind that CHARACTERS may not choose to play friendly, so don't expect coming to a mutual agreement with Contributing Readers will keep things safe. That being said, time to consider options:
1) Welcome them warmly and suggest traveling together! "You seem to be trustworthy individuals... would you care to join our group? (MAJOR combat negative, solid diplomacy bonus)
2) Engage in some tepid diplomacy and attempt to reach a peaceful arrangement. (Minor combat negative, minor diplomatic bonus)
3) Defensive positions and prepare for the worst. (Minor combat bonus, minor diplomatic penalty.)
4) Myrenese on the Banniharian Highway? There has never been a surer sign of villany. ATTACK! (Solid combat boost, MAJOR diplomatic penalty!)
As usual, votes are due this Thursday by midnight (2/23).
Zion - Light of the New Moon, Part 2
Elias, Kayte, Roarg, and Sebastian will be the focus of this chapter... and they are about to find out that the party is quickly being overtaken by a Torment. The group has elected to go as quickly as possible along the Highway in an attempt to escape the Torment and get into the Periphery of Zion. Let's see what happens!
Kayte gazed across the interior of the covered wagon, looking to Elias. She studied his face as he focused on the spherical black stone held in his hands. The priestess eyed him, watching the armadillo breathe softly on the perfect, almost reflective surface of the orb; he smiled faintly as the rock rippled slightly in response.
"Elias..." she spoke softly.
The Geomancer responded with a simple "Shh.", causing Kayte to pause. He gazed deeply into the stone ball and whispered, speaking in a tone too quiet for Kayte to hear in words that she knew would make no sense to her even if she had. The priestess felt her ears flush slightly in embarrassment... and other emotions.
"Could you please put that down so we can talk?" Kayte requested.
"This..." Elias noted, slowly pulling the orb away from his gaze as he rotated his eyes to face her, "...is kind of important, Kayte." and he slowly returned his attention to it.
"Maybe you should ask Dana for help." the words were out of Kayte's muzzle before she could stop them, and she immediately felt embarrassed. Regardless, the words did elicit a distinct response from the armadillo and he put the stone away immediately.
"This isn't about Dana, Kayte." Elias responded, finally making prolonged eye-contact, "...and it's not about you either... it's about me."
The wolf stopped herself half-way into some words she knew she'd regret and took a breath instead, "Right now it feels like you're shutting me out." she rubbed at one of her ears as she glanced his direction; he was still looking at her. "You've spent more time talking to that rock than... well... me."
The armadillo slid across the wagon to sit next to her, "Kayte..." he let out a deep breath, reaching a hand over to rest it on her paw, "I'm pretty sure you've figured out that I am not very good at most things involving dealing with people--"
"You'd get better if you tried it more often." she interrupted.
"Damn it!" he objected, "will you just--" and he paused, taking his hand back, "Sorry..." he took a breath, "See what I mean?" he rubbed the back of his head before folding his hands in his lap, "What I mean is..." he looked back up at her, "I'm good with rock... and stone... and dirt and earth. They're all things you can feel and measure and touch. Rock doesn't move and stone doesn't have feelings." Elias took another breath before looking up at her, "What I mean is, I know what to expect from that kind of thing. If I make a mistake it's obvious and I can fix it... but people..."
"People make it hard to be perfect..." Kayte offered, reaching out to take back his hand from his lap.
"I know buildings. I know construction." Elias shrugged, "Compared to that, relationships seem like they're hardly stable."
"I don't know a lot about buildings, Elias..." the priestess responded, giving his hand a squeeze, "But I know foundations are important."
"Then you know the most important thing." he acknowledged, "You see... with a building you have to--"
"BUT!" the wolf quickly interjected, "Foundations are important for relationships too, Elias... and talking to-- speaking with-- paying attention to one another... those things are what a relationship's foundation is made up of."
She watched as a faint spark of understanding graced his gaze, "Goddess..." he murmured, looking away, "I'm not good at any of this... I feel so incompetent!" and he pulled his hand back.
"They say you were good at Geomancy the first day you started doing it..."Kayte commented casually, still watching him.
"I was." Elias acknowledged, "It's this relationship stuff that's the hard thing."
"So the first day you started doing Geomancy you were able to raise entire buildings like you do now?" she inquired, flicking an ear.
"Of course not... don't be stup--" the armadillo objected, but paused before finishing the sentence, "--silly."
"And what made the difference?" Kayte questioned, offering a faint smirk.
"Experience... practice... a lot of time."
The priestess nodded, "Well then, my apprentice..." Kayte slowly slid closer to him, "it's time for you to learn some new magic."
"Huh?" one of his ears turned sideways as he regarded her.
"I'm going to teach you how to get along with people." she smirked, "...and it'll be magical."
"That might not be a good idea." Elias countered, "and it's a bad analogy."
"It's a great idea." she argued, sliding over to sit on his knees as she took hold of both of his hands, "and why is it a bad analogy?"
The armadillo glanced to the side, a sheepish look spreading across his face, "Because I did some real damage to my grandfather when I was his apprentice."
Kayte's smile grew, "Oh did you now?" she wriggled her rump against his legs, wagging, "So you're telling me you plan on 'wrecking' this, do you?"
Elias' ears turned even redder, "I... what I... I mean..."
Kayte shook her head mirthfully, "We have a long way to go..." They didn't, however, end up with the chance for any lessons.
* * * * * *
"TORMENT!" the shout called Roarg's attention immediately back behind The Risen. Hanging from one of the laborer's handles at the side of the wagon, the badger had only to glance back toward Jules to see why the warning was given; a wall of multi-colored vapor swirled like a pool of writhing pirannah. The cloud was at least a mile long in either direction and it surged after them as if it were a creature chasing down its prey.
"Go!" Roarg shouted at the beasts hauling the wagon; above him on the driver's bench Raes was snapping the reins but the badger knew it wasn't necessary-- his cry had been for the benefit of the beasts because he knew they were aware of what he wanted. Pushing themselves with all due haste, the animals ahead of The Risen hauled it faster. He didn't know if it would be enough, and continued gazing back at the Torment... it was getting closer.
He heard some commotion from within the wagon, but he didn't bother to pause and answer any questions, rather, he simply shouted through the canvas to the occupants, "Hold on! It's gonna get real bumpy!" He heard Kayte and Elias fumbling with the cover at the tail end of the wagon. Exclamations from the two followed by the cloth being tied back down told him everything he needed to know: they knew exactly what the situation was.
"Hey... Badger..." Sebastian spoke up.
Roarg turned back to see the gryphon skimming the ground next to The Risen, head on even height with his own, "Gryphon." he responded casually.
"You have a Torment behind ya, you know." Sebastian offered.
"I had noticed, thank you." Roarg acknowledged calmly.
"Gonna do something about it?" the gryphon's talons and paws touched down onto the Highway and he began running beside the carriage.
"It's not slowing down..." the badger observed, "...so we're speeding up."
"Fair enough." Sebastian snorted, "And how long are we keeping this pace?"
"Well..." Roarg glanced ahead of the wagon then back toward the Torment, "Until we reach Zion's Periphery..."
"That'll stop the Torment?" the gryphon kept pace with the transport.
"It should." the badger offered hesitantly.
"And if it doesn't?"
Roarg shrugged, "Then we run for the rest of our short lives."
Sebastian sprang up off of the road and flapped his wings several times until he was airborn, just a little higher than ground level, "Where did this thing come from anyway?"
The badger glanced down at the earth rolling by beneath The Risen, "A Paragon was killed."
"Another one?" the grphon squawked.
"Yea..." Roarg nodded quietly.
"One of Tah'alia's?"
Roarg shook his head, "No."
"Not good..." Sebastian acknowledged, "not good at all..." he glanced over at the badger, "So... how many left?'
"Worry about it later." the badger stated flatly, "Get into the sky and find out how far until The Periphery... look for the road change and circle there for us."
"Fine, Dirt Rat." the gryphon snorted, "But don't you go getting swallowed by a Torment while I'm gone." and, with that, Sebastian gained altitude and shot far ahead of the wagon.
Roarg took a deep breath after Sebastian left and hazarded another glance at the Torment; it was still gaining on them. "How many left?" he asked quietly, looking up at the gryphon, who was flying so very far ahead, "Just me."