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 Post subject: Dajemma of the Lion
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2016 4:22 pm 

Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2011 6:15 pm
Posts: 275
Location: New Zealand


"Have you ever seen a Lion, Rashemi? This is what you remind me of; they are not the largest of the great cats, but yet they seem to possess the most pride, and courage. They are powerful and cunning hunters, able to take down prey far larger than they. Even in a world full of dragons, the Lion is still a king of beasts. To me, you move as a Lion among Men." - Heron Rhayne


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Race: Human (Rashemi)
Gender: Male
Age: Undated birth - early 20's
Height: 5'5"
Weight: 98kg
Phenotype: Endomorph, muscular composition - built for strength, not speed
Hair: long black mane, straight cut fringe, two long braids, no beard
Eyes: sky blue
Teeth: white, strong, all accounted for
Hygiene: average

General Health: Strapping young man. Exceptional fortitude (Base Constitution 16)
Deity: "The Three"; Bhalla (Chauntea), Mielikki, The Hidden One (Mystra)
Initial Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Profession: No professional training or formal education. Previous gladiatorial combatant.
Base Class & Proposed Development: Barbarian/Frenzied Berserker
Habits/Hobbies: Wanton violence, promiscuity, drunkeness (jhuild), weapon maintenance and upkeep. Kanithar is very superstitious.
Languages: Common
Weapon of Choice: Rashemen Greataxe ("Heron's Ear") as preference, but any two handed weapon, or brutal single handed weapon (such as warhammer) with a shield when fighting defensively


Background: Kanithar was born and raised in Rashemen. He was a prospective member of the Wolf Lodge when his dejamma began - a rite of passage to adulthood when a young Rashemi will wander the realm seeking high adventure. The mysterious Thaymount on the horizon lured him south despite the wise counsel of the elders. He travelled to Thay and he travelled alone.

Kanithar resisted arrest at a border taxation checkpoint and was hunted in the swamps of Surthay for seven nights. Eventually he was tracked down, cornered, and captured alive by a group of Thayan slave-hunters who returned him to the Surthayan authorities for a respectable bounty.


After several weeks languishing in the dungeon without enough food to sustain his strength Kanithar was sold on at the local slave plateau to a Red Wizard. The magus, perceiving Kanithar's prowess as a warrior, threw him into arena contest with beasts both magical and mundane.

Over years of survival, victory and triumph Kanithar earned a reputation in these arenas.

Soon, Kanithar began to receive magical arms and armor. He received concubines and luxuries prohibited from other slaves of his master. When his master ventured throughout the tharchs he made certain to be accompanied by the "trophy" Rashemi - a conversational piece.

Kanithar did not care. He enjoyed the prestige of high reputation and the rewards of his performance.


Soon, every tharch of Thay had hosted the sensational barbarian. His renown was widespread.

It was unexpected that Kanithar found himself taken from his master's estate by Thayan Knights the night before a scheduled combat. They took him to the tower of the Zulkir of Transmutation. Without explanation Kanithar was escorted through a magical portal.

When he arrived at his destination, he assumed he was still in Thay, for all interior was reminiscent of the country. Outside, however, the bustling western architecture and the western sea suggested that his dejamma had taken him further from Rashemen than he ever could have dreamed.

He did not know why he was sent here - only that his time in the arenas was behind him. Whether he was still an owned man or not Kanithar could not know - all he knew is that he was no longer shackled, and it seemed he was at liberty to roam...

But Kanithar had not forgotten the wealth of the nation of Thay.

Goals and Ambitions:
Kanithar means to achieve wealth and renown however they may be accumulated in the Western Heartlands for this purpose and this purpose alone; he means to raise a horde of barbarians, monstrous humanoids and even undead. He will lead these in raids east across Toril back to the nation of Thay which he dreams of plundering for her great and magical treasures, and to debase those who debased him.

Life in Rashemen

Foreigners view Rashemen as a mysterious, magical land of harsh winters ruled by masked witches and populated by berserkers. Far away from the southern climates and the warming oceans, it is a barren waste of frozen plains and snow-covered mountains where a person can freeze to death overnight even in the middle of summer. Such talk is exaggeration, but it is based in truth. Much of Faerûn owes its safety and security to Rashemen, for this small nation has held its own against the armies and collected magic of Thay time and again, sparing Thay's other neighbors from the attentions of the Red Wizards.

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"A black lion rises from the western sea with a shaven mane. It was chained. Now it roams - from the north to the south, it wanders. The hunger of the beast is undying. Ever roaring toward the east. Its claws are many axes. Its teeth are many swords. It has eaten its own tail that none may take it in their hand."

Kanithar sits cross legged before the shaman.

He wears a wolf skin cloak, a woolen tunic and trousers - boots, too, that are too big for him. A walking staff is laid on his lap and a jar of jhuild is beside him. He is prepared to travel. It is his sixteenth winter - already, physically, he is a man. He is strong. A born fighter, and spirited adventurer. The day of his dajemma is come - that rite of passage by which a man must know himself by venturing outside of Rashemen and exploring the realm and finding the keys to her secret wisdom.

Berserkers encircle the youth in the Wolf Lodge, his father among them.

The prophecy draws a glare from the youth.

"What does it mean?"

The shaman crows on, "The lion crawls toward the rising sun on its belly. It crawls through hedges of spears, leaving a blood trail for the hunters who chase. It climbs a mountain to reach the sun. But the lion is blind, eyes burning in smoke. He wild and sightless in battle. A great bull wrestles with the lion, and gorges him with its four horns. It stomps him with its hooves. The lion's teeth are shattered and claws are broken, scattered to the four winds. He who roared to the east now roars to the west, but who can hear him?"

Kanithar scowls at the words of the spirit shaman, but bows his head quickly as the elder begins to sing in an eerie trembling voice and circle the youth, sprinkling him with the cremated ashes of a fallen warrior. Though the prophecy is grim the berserkers join in the ceremonial choir, lifting their barbaric voices together into a powerful chorus of Rassalesian accents that rattles the youth's spine with shivering empowerment - the affirmation is undeniable.

"Kanithar," it is his father. He kneels before the young man during the ceremony, a hand on his shoulder, "Kanithar. You have set your face to go south, haven't you? It is no secret."

The young man looks up into the face of a concerned father. His own is cold, giving nothing.

"Do not go by Mulsantir, Kanithar. Your dajemma will not take you to Thay."

The father and son gaze on one another a moment silence. Kanithar does not submit. The father pats the youth firmly on the cheek, holding his hairless face, "I have spoken."

The ceremony continues into the night. Morning arrives and Kanithar kisses his mother and sisters goodbye. His father gives to Kanithar a broadsword in boar-hide. It is his father's father's. Kanithar receives the gift with his father's blessing and takes the road east.

A friend of his father follows Kanithar on the road east. But when they pass the landmark that signals the border of their territories, the ranger turns back leaving the youth to the guardianship of the local spirits. Now Kanithar is truly free. A wicked grin spreads on his dark lips, the sun bronzed youth turning off the track to run south through the forests that are local to him.

He makes for Lake Mulsantir - to Surthay - toward the glorious fortified volcano looming on the horizon that is no other than the Thaymount.

Life in Thay

Best known for the crimson-robed Red Wizards who rule the land with an iron fist; Thay is a realm shrouded in mystery. Few outsiders have traveled extensively within its borders unless abducted and sold into a short life of slavery there: The Thayans who do talk about their homeland speak of it with such pride as to make most listeners doubt their amazing claims - were it not for the fact that these same rumors surface again and again from a dozen different sources.

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Surthayan Slave Market

From his vantage upon the stone plateau Kanithar glared into a sea of hairless tattooed faces below. They bickered and bartered and auctioned furiously in a language that he did not know. Taking their bids and goading them for more, a quite overweight man in dark silks with great gold rings piercing his ears paced the platform back and forward in front of Kanithar.

He occasionally stopped near Kanithar, slapping the Rashemi's strong thighs or lifting an arm out by the wrist to example his might to the prospective buyers. The barbarian followed him with a dark gaze, unflinching with the strikes and without resistance to being so handled.


From the crowd, one voice suddenly rose above the others and silenced them all at once - a bid so extravagant none dared to oppose. The crowd parted and the man emerged - a young man, but walking with a blackened mithril staff - one that was twisted and ribbed like the horn of a goat. He wore a flowing red gown with chips of ioun orbiting a generously tattooed cranium. As he ascended the steps of the plateau the piercing gaze of the bidder met with the bloodshot scowl of the brooding Rashemi. The man with the staff searched out the depths of the warrior's sea blue eyes without fear.

Kanithar perceived that the source of this man's confidence was not the strong pair of knights that accompanied him. This was surely a Magus - a Red Wizard of Thay.


The Colosseum of Eltabbar

The audience were wild and tumultuous and many were up on their feet as Kanithar, bare chested in the glaring heat of a midday Eltabbaran sun, circled with his final opponent in the Thayan Arena.


The foe, who had until this point been Kanithar's ally in the fighting by some unspoken understanding, was a dark skinned Chultan - almost a foot taller than the stout Rashemi. He was shaved of head and clad in exotic spotted pelts and sections of splintmail armour. In his hand a flail swept slowly, winding to keep a ready momentum.

Each knew there could only be one victor in the arena today - a secondary placing was first among the dead.

Kanithar's elbows and knees were scathed and a lacerations split the skin of his shoulder and back - the claw marks of an animal. Otherwise he was unharmed.

Dead men and beasts littered the floor of the colosseum. One of the few who remained alive struggled with the undertaking of dragging his dismembered body away from the carnage, leaving one of his legs behind.

The dust of the arena clung to Kanithar's skin for all the blood and perspiration. His fist gripped a long fighting dagger in reverse while the other hand, free, was open and ready to literally grab at any opportunity that might gain him advantage.

The noise of the assembly was deafening. The heat of the sun was intense. Eager for the kill, the Chultan hustled forward through the mirage of heat swinging the barbed ball of his chain link flail mightily overhead. He hoped to finish the battle with a single deadly blow. But Kanithar had read the intention of the warrior - and he was ready.

With the agility of a great cat Kanithar sprung around the oncoming adversary, easily timing his assault out of the way of the flail's cruelly spiked ball. He gripped the larger man by the buckler of his left arm and used all his might and his enemy's own momentum to yank and throw the attacker off balance. The giant negro staggered and jarred to catch himself - but he was no novice combatant. Quickly regaining his footing he back-peddled hurriedly, a hand outstretched as if to ward Kanithar off while he began to wind up once more the momentum of the flail that had fallen limp.

Kanithar wasted not the opportunity.

He closed in quickly and aggressively with no second thought - a direct attack, like a charging bull. The Rashemi shrugged off a desperate kick from the Chultan to his hip and reached to snatch the wrist of the man. The instrument of whirling death was paralyzed in Kanithar's iron grip.

The melee quickly degenerated into a grapple. The clash and contest of their might was brief and explosive - they were almost equals in strength, but Kanithar's reserve was greater. Berserker rage surged up in the barbarian and turned the tide - a rush of adrenaline by which the stout Rashemi out stepped the strong legged Chultan and threw him down onto his back.

Kanithar fell with him into the cloud of dust, straddling the winded man, pinning him. One strong hand gripped the Chultan by the throat. The man groped desperately to strangle Kanithar in return - but the barbarian sat upright enough to be out of reach. His dagger was overhead, poised and ready to drop.

While the Chultan's bloody fingers brushed at Kanithar's throat, the barbarian's gaze roamed the vast colosseum benches. Multitudes upon multitudes. The crowd roared for a merciless ending and Kanithar found in the darkness of his rage that he was more than willing to fulfill their desire.

Wild blue eyes lowered to stare into those of his enemy. The Chultan saw no remorse there in Kanithar's glare - it was betrayed to him in that moment what the barbarian determined.

The fine dust of the arena that had kicked up in their skirmish and collapse partially obscured the murder from the audience - that savage rising and falling of Kanithar's red dagger - slow, deliberate, strong repetition. The audience roared and chanted his name silencing the screams of second place.

Kanithar! Kanithar! Kanithar!

When it was done, Kanithar staggered off of the dead man and gazed round about at the havoc he had wrought in the insanity of battle. He was the last man standing. Once more, his eyes lifted to the applauding audience. Kanithar lift his dagger in a blooded fist and hailed them silently. This met a further cry of acclamation even as an entourage of Thayan soldiers entered the arena armed with towershields and swords. When they siezed Kanithar he did not resist their shackles and chains. Away he was led by the mob - back into the dungeon.


Wargames in Rashemen, King of the Hill
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Outside of Thay's Arenas - the infamy of Kanithar begins
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Field of the Dead
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Tooth decay is the leading cause of Barbarian Rage.

Last edited by Darradarljod on Sat May 21, 2016 12:52 am, edited 17 times in total.

 Post subject: Re: Dejamma of the Black Lion
Unread postPosted: Wed May 11, 2016 7:35 pm 

Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2011 6:15 pm
Posts: 275
Location: New Zealand

To Skin An Orc

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Kanithar strode confidently down the street with a sack of supplies slung over his sun bronzed shoulder. In his fist he holds several human and dwarven heads by the hair of their scalps.

Nearing the beergarden, Kanithar's blood splattered face broke with a wolfish grin, "Heron alive - by the empty womb of The Bitch Queen, there are few sights so fine to these my eyes."

Kanithar enters the beer garden, dropping the dripping bundle of slack-jawed heads unceremoniously onto the floor where they begin pooling. Beside them the sack falls with a clunk of iron. Kanithar dusts his dirty hands off and plants them as fists on his hips. "What drink is it tonight?"

She was found standing- leaning, rather, against the table- an enormous tankard already in hand, from which she readily drinks. On the table would be the half destroyed carcass of some large fowl. As the Rashemi barbarian approaches with his grisly trophies, she would blink only once as they would be deposited with a rather wet sounding thud to the beer garden's floor. Instead, her focus returns in a wide eyed and slow traveling gaze back to the barbarian and his battle harness. Up and down her gaze goes, and try as she might to prevent it, it's appraising. Finally she reaches over and tears off a piece of the fowl with her fingers, and tucks it between strong white teeth, before offering an equally wolfish smile as she chews. "I suddenly feel as if I know you way, way more than I have a right to, Lionheart." There's a chuckle, and then she swallows down meat, and chases it with mead. "Tonight's drink is whatever you want, on my tab- man comes in here showing that much skin, he deserves to have a lady buy him a drink or twelve."

"Black," Kanithar announces, not only to Heron but to the nearby waitress.

He promptly sits at the table whereon the half-elf leaned and stands his great-axe beside himself. Fresh bits of skin and hair cling to the weapon's stained double-head from a slaying no later than an hour or two gone.

Soon the waitress arrives with a great mug on a platter, overflowing with the froth of a truly dark stout. Taking this stein by the handle in one strong hand Kanithar watched the woman go, then slouches over the wet table on scarred elbows.

The sky blue eyes of the savage turn back to take in the sight of tremendous northern woman - a brooding stare melting with amusement as he recognized an irony in what Heron's eyes betrayed; here Kanithar was on the receiving end of an appraisal just as shameless as that he so readily and so often rendered to the women of the Coast.

Kanithar only bared his teeth in a sneering grin, a low laugh with it, "Fie! You're too generous, Sundabar ... and don't think I mean the ale;" he reaches across the table to break flesh from the fowl. He drinks, and follows the stout with meat. As his strong jaw gnaws the gristle and skin he gesticulates to the beer garden at large with the tattered bird wing, "for here you are, Trollsbane herself - The Soldier of Sundabar," blue eyes fix Heron with a playful challenge, "giving the orcs one last night with their concubines?" the little limb wagged to scold the half-elf, then was wrestled again by Kanithar's strong teeth.

Chewing, the barbarian laughed, "By Mielikki," that crooked grin of the Rashemi is hidden just as it became most apparent vanishing behind a mug and drowned in the bitter brew.

Her own amused smirk travelled further, becoming even more savage as it did so, and one grease- slicked thumb lifted to slowly trace down the scar upon her face. "Let them savor these moments, Lionheart." She took a deep draught from her mug; and reached out to grasp a hunk of breast meat from the roasted bird, wrenching it free.

She remains quiet for as long as as food and mead are consumed, but behind dark blue eyes it's evident that tableau after tableau are being replayed in her mind. Eyes squint dangerously as memory offers up sights, sounds, and smells of battles past with what must be startling clarity.

"We'll find that Ilmatari if we can, so he can give the wedding vows to those orcs most lasting union- their blood, and our steel."

The pile of heads not far from Kanithar's sodden leather boots became glaring witnesses to the barbarian's darkening mood as Heron echoed his own desire to war. Even so, the barbarian continued to eat and drink with ravenous gusto. Occasionally he looked up from his meat to watch the taciturn half-breed brooding over her past battles - but the berserker did not break silence until the Trollslayer herself spoke.

"Caric," Kanithar named the man with ready approval, "if he is on live, you know I am ready to fight and die alongside him."

An emptied vessel in bloodstained hand was set down amidst what had become a graveyard of bird bones and spat fat. The barbarian's eyes could never hide his mercenary greed. That sky blue pair betrayed that Kanithar wanted more than battle - he wanted the spoils of it. Such covetousness framed his blood-lust in grim tenebrosity.

Kanithar rose from the table and barehanded took as one the pile of heads that had now stuck to the floor. The grisly trophies dangled and spun from his fist, bumping against one another dabbing and painting the berserker's rock hard thigh with their hacked necks and bloody faces. "As for you, Sundabar," he regarded the warrior-maiden with high estimation, "I know you are ready to fight and die alongside me."

With the bulky sack of supplies now slung over a broad shoulder Kanithar seemed as he had when he had arrived - though fuller fed and surely more drunk. But his words rolled forth soberly in the thick and striking accent of Rashemen - a parting word, "And you know, Heron, that I am the same for you."

The battle-harnessed barbarian turned out of the beer garden and strut away west toward the docks - there was a bounty to collect. Indeed, the merchant had asked only for the return of supplies stolen by a local cohort of bandits - but it seemed right to Kanithar to show the man the heads of his enemies...

His traditional Rashemi waraxe, "Heron's Ear", was left standing against the table under the guardianship of her namesake. Kanithar surely meant to return before long.

Red Trepidation

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Some time after departing the Friendly Arm Inn, the gigantic Sundabarian makes her way back from Baldur's Gate. Her features have frozen to a stoic mask, while narrowed eyes remain hard as the northern ice. Boots slam into the earth with each determined step, speckling her calves with the mud created by the constant seeming rains. Upon her shoulder rests the Heart of the Lion; bared, ready and gleaming even in the overcast light.

Nothing about the woman's glowering demeanor invites interaction, but bandits are desperate... or stupid creatures- and it is not long before the Sundabarian and her blade are once more baptised in blood. Should it bother her; the readiness with which she kills? Has she been too long in the company of the barbarian, that the values her Knight had tried to instill were slipping? Perhaps this thought crosses her mind, because a grim, crimson spattered smirk appears. Helm, she likely reminds herself, has no place for pacifist. Especially not where the safety of the roads are concerned. Still wet and sticky from slaying, the Heart of the Lion once more returns to it's place upon her shoulder.

When the Friendly Arm once more comes into view, the half-blood's expression momentarily reflects her internal worry- She'd left her Rashemi companion in the company of a Red Wizard. One who, if the dessicated arm were any indication, was powerful and more than willing to dabble in dark magics. The thought caused an unconscious growl to rise in her throat as brooding eyes cast about, in search of the loin-cloth clad barbarian. He may have been his interpretation of polite to the Wizard, but she knew well enough the rumors of Thayan opinions of Rashemi- so if he could not be found, she'd beat down the door of the enclave itself if she had to.

Wine Hangovers are the Worst

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Whenever the barbarian awakes, he'd likely do so with the pounding in his head that is a painful reminder that a wine drunk leads to simply the worst hangovers. A quick inspection would reveal to him that he was first, in a bed. Secondly, in an inn room, and thirdly feeling remarkably clean. Even his braids had been undone, and his black hair would still feel damp. He'd clearly been undressed, bathed, and put unceremoniously to bed while in his stupor.

Over in one corner of the room, he'd spy a table set with food- smoked meats, hard rolls and cheeses as well as a couple of pitchers. The next corner would be a chair, and laid against it and on it would be his gear- all of it gleaming with what was clearly a meticulous cleaning and repair. Steel had been honed to sharpness and buffed to shine, while the smell of oil dictated the exact same attention had been given to leather harness and buckles. The third corner would reveal the looming form and dour expression of the half elf herself. Her own armor was scattered about her as she sat, stripped down to basic pants and a simple tank, cross-legged in the floor. Severely cut blonde hair was tucked behind pointed ears, and her attention remained for a time on the diligent duty of maintenance and repair of her equipment.

The Sundabarian's figure seemed to lack the soft and gracious curves of most women- powerful shoulders and biceps flexed on arms more accustomed to wearing steel, and wielding shield and blade than wearing silks- if ever such finery had even adorned her (it seemed unlikely). Upon her flesh was written the years of service and the fierce battles she'd seen; scars of varying severity criss-crossed across bared arms, then vanished beneath the thin tank and no doubt continued onward, decorating her body with a grim testament to violence. Her expression was brooding and dark as she set aside her gorget, then picked up the enormous elven forged great blade and lay it across her lap. She was troubled by thoughts moving too fast to capture, and it shone plainly on her features as she took whetstone to the blade and made it sing down it's length. Eyes lifted, as they no doubt had a number of times, to check on the barbarian's state.

Upon seeing him moving to consciousness, she'd first just jab a finger toward the table and the food thereon before returning to her work on the blade. She'd hold her grim peace for some minutes more before finally speaking.

"You have no discipline, Lionheart. You live your life through instinct, and momentary self gratification." Her right arm would flex as it lifted the great blade upright, allowing her gaze to travel it's length in close examination. "These may have served you well and kept you happy until now, but they will only serve you, and you alone." She sets the blade down, then leans forward to prop elbows on her knees. Blonde hair slips from behind her ear, and falls forward to cover and partially conceal one eye of her intense gaze. "Perhaps I do disservice to my cause, knowing your ambition as I do, by giving this advice... but if you do not foster discipline, if you do not foster some form of control.... any army you gather will scatter to the winds before you even begin to march. You will never have the respect and command of your soldiers, your enemies will overwhelm you, you will die, and your Dejamma will end with no one to sing your name."

She pauses, drawing in fast, deep breath, and exhaling it sharply through flaring nostrils as she waits for whatever reply might come.

Dreamless sleep had ended abruptly - and reality was dry throated agony for Kanithar. The last night seemed not to exist as anything more than a sense of knowing that his mind was made blind to the passing of many hours. Strangers faces and voices were all a vague and disjointed recollections that promised he had not been alone.

Bleary and bloodshot eyes began to blink. Blurred vision sharpened to realize carved ceiling detail, nostrils flared to immediately take in the scent of fresh food. At the same time, rough hands found themselves feeling fine sheets that covered his body. Suddenly, adrenaline shot through the berserker - alarm at the realization he did not know where he was - alarm that he sensed he was not alone.

Kanithar would have exploded into action had he not being so painstakingly tucked in. He kicked at the blankets and scrambled with some difficulty out of the restrictive bedding, throwing it off himself by the fistful only to discover his own nakedness. Unashamed, he arose from the bed, pacing the room like wild animal finding itself caged, heart beating like a wardrum in his ears, eyes roaming all that could be seen in hyper-alert.

There was peace here. No enemy. Only Heron. She did not look pleased.

The scent of food, again, found its way into his hungry nostrils and caused his belly to ache more than his head. As quickly as he had been beset by such alarm he was at ease - priorities shifted from security to survival.

Kanithar almost flinched as the half-elf began to scold him. As she began the hungover warrior exhaled heavily through the nose and staggered barefoot over to the table of breakfast. He looked on all, but took up first a pitcher in his scar knuckled fist and waved it under his nose. He set it down. The second pitcher Kanithar took up he smelled only very briefly before taking to his dry lips and guzzling therefrom. Weak ale trickled out the sides of his mouth and down his black-stubbled chin. When the pitcher was empty, Kanithar gasped and took that of the water as well, not breaking until it was all gone.

By the time both these were empty, Heron seemed to have said her piece. The barbarian's sky blue eyes regarded her only from their corners at the sound of her own frustrated exhale. There was a moments wary silence before he moved again, watching her as he strut over to his equipment. His attention changed to the oiled leathers and polished, sharpened steel. He began to touch it, re-familiarizing himself with the new maintenance of his arsenal and armory - though there was ever little of the latter to speak of.

Kanithar brooded. It may have seemed as though he did not care to hear, or even did not listen at all.

But he had. The rebuke of the woman was not wasted on Kanithar. It did not break on a stiff neck. It went into his ears and down into his innermost parts, burning him with shame. The greatest men of Rashemen looked to the Wytchlaren for wisdom and guidance in all things - and in this moment it seemed to Kanithar that even so far from his homeland The Three had not forsaken to grant him a guardian, albeit this brutal Sundabarian soldier was nothing alike the women he had ever known.

His was a wayward path. It seemed it had ever been. Rebuke as a child was frequent and fruitless. Rebuke of his lewd and wanton behavior outside the Thayan arenas was more-so, and the severity of consequences there made the punishment of the elders seem weak. Yet it was only Heron that challenged Kanithar in his current liberty.

Never had the man known a purpose so compelling and irresistible as that which commanded him toward the rising sun of the far east. She had not seen what he had seen . But Heron knew his ambition intimately.

She spoke - not that he might be prevented, but that his conquest be brought forth and come to its fruition. For love of him alone, for his quest was not according her desire nor had ever warranted her approval.

The barbarian perceived easily in this moment that Heron's rebuke would not see his vision frustrated or his hope deferred - contrary, and he was loathe to accept, it would establish them all. She looked to the man that he must become, even while he did not. The self-control and discipline she spoke of left Kanithar untempted. It demanded the death of much of the man that he was and had ever been. His desire to continue untamed in all of life seemed now in conflict with the reality of his goal.

Feeling the edge of his waraxe by thumb, Kanithar broke his silence to speak in a Rasselesian accent so thick it seemed barbaric in itself, "Thank you."

Silent thereafter, Kanithar fixed the half-elf in a fearless sky blue gaze, arresting for its blatant regret, shame and a storm of conflict ignited by rebuke.

Setting the ax back against the table the gladiator lowered his eyes and began in humiliated silence to fasten his battle harness. He began with belting his loincloth, then worked the strings of the fur lined bracers encircling his broad wrists and forearms. Kanithar would have concluded with the iron disc that armored his chest, but his compact and thickset Rashemi build made it difficult - though not impossible. Here he lagged, as he always had, oft broken fingers fumbling clumsily at polished steel buckles in hard to reach places.

Heron watched the Rashemi. She watched him as he fought with the blankets and sheets, she took note of how adrenaline surged and triggered the man's fight or flight reflex. Her gaze remained fixated to his form as he prowled the room like some caged beast. If ever the thought or concern of her own personal safety crossed her mind, it never once showed itself on her stoic features, nor was it ever reflected across her penetrating, unblinking gaze. She was as utterly mindless of his blatant nudity as the barbarian himself was- that hard stare instead watched something more telling about the man; and it drew her scowl deeper as his body language seemed to imply his disregard of her words as she spoke them. She finished, cutting herself short with yet another frustrated sigh and an angry shake of her head.

She leaned back against the wall, and her skull impacted the paneling with a solid thump. Scarred features seemed sullen, reflecting her own thoughts as the barbarian brooded in his inspection of his equipment. Was it wasted breath, the words she'd just spoken? Was it better, perhaps, that he refused to listen? Why did she even care- his desires were counter to everything she was supposed to represent, and defend. Why did she care?

It wasn't until those arresting sky blue eyes finally turned to meet hers that she saw, and began to understand. His utterance of those two simple words, when they could have been sneering, aggressive rejection, gave her a pang. Again she gave a frustrated shake of her head, and long, muscular legs unfolded then lifted her with surprising fluidity to a standing position. Finally, she moved to Kanithar's side as he fumbled with buckles.

The body of the half elf- now standing and likely seen without armor or immediate injury for the first time- would be equal compliment to those powerful arms that reached forward to lend themselves to aid the barbarian. Unburdened by steel, it was obvious that this woman was not without beauty, or grace- elven heritage saw to that. Whether that beauty was recognized, and it certainly was of no obvious importance to her, depended entirely upon the viewer- she was no delicately blooming flower, but instead an expertly crafted weapon, oft tested and well tended. She towered over the stout Rashemi, and grasped his tortured fingers in a vice-like grip, before moving them away and seeing to the straps and buckles he struggled with.

Her breathing slowed, becoming patient. When she finally broke silence once more, there was no scold or chastisement in her voice. "There comes a point, Lionheart, when you must understand that there are things in this world that are greater than you are... and in that moment, you have a choice. You can choose to cling to what you know, or you can strive for greatness, for purpose- even though it means you must be reforged in the process. You will never be the same, but you step forth anyway, sacrificing parts of yourself for something unknown, because what you seek.. it matters. It matters more than you alone ever will.

"Physical maturity means naught. Conquests in battle, conquests in the bedroom... they are naught. It is in that moment of knowing sacrifice, Kanithar, and that moment alone, that the child becomes a man."

Heron Awake

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The climax to the warrior pair's trespass deep into the bowels of the orc caves beneath the desecrated forest of Sharp Teeth was brutal indeed...

Heron would awake - not to the sound of battle and snarling beasts, but rather to the crackling of logs in a fire near to her and the sound of a heavy rain showering against great stone walls. The room she found herself in was a compact rental chamber of the keep known as the Friendly Arm Inn.

A small window filtered the dim light of the grey sky into the chamber from low on the west, telling it was nearer to evening than mid day. By this light a shadowy guardian could be seen seated on a basic chair near to the door. His bare skin was unwashed, marked with mud and with layers of drying blood - some red, some black.

Raven black hair - long and thickly plaited once again on either side of his head - hung damp from the rain rather than washing. It stuck to powerful shoulders and back. It was Kanithar. He watched the door with a loyal patience, his Rashemen war-axe standing between his knees and resting against his bruised shoulder.

For his vigil, he had not realized the half-elf to have stirred.

Heron would have awoken to find herself laying atop the bed firmly bandaged in many places for the horrors inflicted by the claws and jaws of the bear. More superficial lacerations among the more grievous were filled with chewed herbs and only overlaid with clean cloth. Many of the wounds tended are beneath the long, clean tunic she wears - which is not her own. She is laid upon the bed rather than beneath the sheets. Her equipment is piled carelessly in one of the rooms four corners.

If the woman would notice, a single thick plait of Rashemen style has been woven on the left side of Heron's head while she slept - as long as her severely cut fair hair would allow for. Whether intentional or not, the plait draws hair away from that side of the woman's face and bares more prominently the distinctive scar beginning under her eye.

Eyes break seal and open, blinking hard to bring vision into focus and assess her situation. Her first breath is a deep gasp of air as adrenaline surges through her body- in her mind, she is still in danger, still under attack. She instantly falls back to training so intense it's become instinct: Locate the enemy. Find cover. Secure your weapon. For Helm's sake, hold the line, woman, hold the line! Those words- yelled out into battle's chaos so many times are the first to find way to her lips as the desperately wounded woman tried to jerk upright, even as her right arm flew out to grasp blindly for her great sword.

"Hold the line!"

The startled yell quickly becomes a sudden yelp and then gravelly whine of pain, and her left arm crossed over her middle, intent to hold in guts that, in her mind, surely must have been trying to spill out. Across her bandages fresh crimson began to spread. Wild eyes scan the room without seeing it- she is seeing something else; another time, another place, and she's lost in it. Panic edges her voice- now higher in pitch, but softer in volume as pain pushes her back to prone despite herculean effort. Even still, her right arm still searches, and fingers still clutch air, hoping to grasp the hilt of her blade. The panic reached her frantically searching gaze, and great tears of undiluted fear fall down her scarred cheeks.

"Hold the line.... they're coming again... Hold in your guts and hold the godsdamn line, there will be time for dyin' when this fight's won!"

Kanithar's attention snaps to the injured at the sound of a voice. He rises immediately from the chair and sets his axe against the doorframe, crossing the room slowly with the quiet steps of a hunter.

Arriving at the bedside, the barbarian grabs the groping hand and drops to a knee, listening to the tortured whispers escaping the soldier of Sundabar and all she had to say.

"We both know battle. But only you, my friend, have learned to war."

Still clutching the hand, Kanithar dunked a rag in a bucket of water beside the bed and slapped it down on Heron's forehead. It trickled cold water freely, rinsing blood from hair and soaking the pillow under her head a rusty shade. Now he takes the bottle of jhuild from the side table and uncorks it by his teeth - the only thing the barbarian knew that might numb the pain of her sore wounds and drown ghosts of Sundabar. It is waved under the nose - the scent of richly fermented grapes, fruits and strong herbs.

The fire-wine is tipped gingerly, but then generously as she will take it. It burns the belly, but it gives strength to the body and the absence of mind - both help for the berserker to endure the demands of rage as well as its aftermath of recovery.

While she is medicated, Kanithar is able to examine the bandaging. It is bled through already. He must find a healer.

Moments later, Heron may sense she is alone in the room. But blissful comatose must surely follow.

Some time later...

With the bandages changed and Heron having made some promising recovery, Kanithar leaves the Friendly Arm Inn leaving her in the care of Rathren. He declared Nashkel was his intention and it seemed to all who saw him that he went that way, for he traveled south - past the Lion's Way, but never arrived at Beregost. Kanithar cuts off the track eastward and disappears into the wilderness of the Western Heartlands...

What Sleep May Come

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Rathren had made his departure shortly after the barbarian did. Despite Kanithar's proclamation that it was time for her to get up, the former soldier was loathe to do much. She realized soon after being left alone she didn't even possess the strength to put her armor back on. That was worrisome- just as the haunted look in the elf's eyes had been worrisome to her. What had happened, while she was out? What had she said? What had she done?

She remembered next to nothing, except disjointed sensory input that did not make sense: The bear- suddenly coalescing out of pure nothingness, all violence and rage. She remembered the splintering sounds of bones crushing.. she remembered an awful, wet ripping sound. There was the sense of sudden heat coursing down beneath her armor, and the coppery taste filling her mouth, choking her. Then she remembered a hand- grasping hers with such ferocity it hurt; it held her down, then smoothed back her hair, offering comfort.

With painful slowness, she stripped down- pulling the tunic oh so carefully over her head and laying it aside. Eyes looked down to bandages that once again needed changing. With care, so as not to pull away more of her flesh with them, she peeled them off, dumping them on the floor beside the bed. Finally, she could see. Her gaze travelled over her naked form, lingering with amazed horror upon what exactly had been done to her body in those brief, frantic moments. Only once before had she observed wounds of such nature- He was a soldier of no more than 19 summers, just assigned to the wall. She could see his face with startling clarity inside her memory. She remembered how beautiful, how youthful he was- and how terrified. There was another wave of orc kind, already crashing against the wall... there were no field medics, no clerics. The only thing she could do for the boy, the only act of mercy available to her, was lay blade to throat, and end his suffering. She remembered how, as life's light faded from his eyes, she'd wept. She'd wept, and screamed, and committed awful, awful murder.

Kanithar would have literally had to put her back together before he could have gotten her out of the orc cave. How had she managed to cling to this world, and not slip to the next? Why had she lived?

Dressings were changed. Blood was cleaned as well as it could be. She gingerly pulled the tunic back over her head, and somehow managed to shuffle her way to the top of the stairs, to yell down for food and drink to be brought up. She told them that if the Rashemi returned, he not be denied access. And then the broken woman crawled back into her bed. There were no hordes howling at the walls, no battle horns sounded alarm. She could rest. Heal.

As sleep once more loomed, offering up it's awful promise of dreams and memories best left behind, she thought of the barbarian. He'd business, somewhere. It seemed odd to her, that he would be absent. But, then, was it not actually odd, that he was always present? Was it not odd, how that simple fact gave her... security, comfort?

Eyes drifted down over deep blue eyes, and sleep claimed her long before food and drink ever arrived.

Music from the tavern floor beneath Heron's room is boisterous and jubilant as night falls on the land. Some time during the night, footsteps sound up the hall causing the boards to groan in protest at the weight of the walker. It is at Heron's door the lock rattles and the portal creeps ajar. Light from the hallway's torches spills into the darkness as if from a cup, like an aura of light around the clean cut shadow of a man. It is Kanithar returned. The door closes behind him. With his arrival the room smells of sweat, and mud, and blood, and even the tangy scent of orc is faintly present.

A dish is set on the side table with water. Soon, a candle is lit. It tells that Kanithar is scathed from recent battle, his body cut and bitten and clawed. He has been fighting. But his wounds are not dangerous. He kneels beside the bed, checking Heron for a pulse, checking the rise and fall of her chest. She is alive. Kanithar rinses a cloth and begins cleaning her face and neck, watching and waiting.

That scent. Tangy and awful, acrid in the nostrils. She'd been engulfed in it so many times that even the barest hint of it was enough to spark alarm. Eyes snapped open, switching this way and that before they finally settled on the Rashemi barbarian. As her senses settled into a relieved calm, she realized the sensation across her forehead was him, carefully cleaning away dried blood- bright red now turned russet brown. Human blood. Elf blood. Her blood.

Her head throbbed, still- a careful touch earlier had revealed a deep gouge, or puncture made by tooth or claw. It's a wonder it hadn't penetrated her skull and into her brain. Or... had it? Either way, it had still felt sticky to the touch, and had once more matted her hair to the side of her face. She made no protests or attempts to stop the man as he, with his own sort of gentleness, cleansed her skin. Deep blue eyes sought out those sky blues, holding them for just a moment before dropping down to note his own fresh wounds. For a time, she simply watched him- taking in the grim features of her companion in silence.

Finally, she shifted and tilted her chin upward so that he could reach where blood and fluid had crusted to the side of her neck. Eyelids fluttered, and began to softly fall back down over her haunted gaze. She tried to push a smirk onto her scarred lips, and when she spoke, it was if she'd a mouthful of cotton. " 'M convinced y' only bathe when it rains, Lionhear' ". A wheezed chuckle ends in a cough, and her right hand lifts to weakly grasp his wrist, then his hand- bloody cloth and all.

" Spent near thirty years on th' wall, Kanithar. Seen bodies.. frien's... torn like this. We gave 'em all a warrior's passin', an' mourned the loss. 've no righ' to be here, now." Eyes close, and she catches her breath- as if even talking were tiring. " If you'd lef' me... we woul' always be frien's, Lionhear'... never haffta lift blade to one another... shoul' lef' me."

The barbarian snorted, as if the solider had spoken ludicrous. Not of his rain showering - that was probably true. No, it was definitely true. But of being left behind...

He left his hand where it was held, fixing Heron with a stern gaze from above her side. "Often it seems, Heron, you fret over a day when we should be foes. I do not care for it."

Kanithar leaves the cloth and turns his wet hand to sieze that of the half-elf, gripping firmly as if he hoped somehow to give of his abundant strength to this one who was lacking. His voice is lowered, slurring in Rashemi accents sometimes too barbaric, "Where should I leave you my Sundabarian? On the floor of the orc hive buried under your enemies - a feast for worms and beasts? Or here, in this bed, when your strength is left you?

There is one day when I will leave you. But it is not here now.

If you were my enemy, Heron, I would die gladly. But I am not your enemy and you are not mine. I am Kanithar, your little Rashemi. Take peace for your mind - rest, and pray for strength.

By Mielikki! You are not undone."

Scarred lips parted slowly spread into a smile heavily laced with the need for more sleep- but this time it was not an effort; it was a genuine thing as she accepted his words. She slowly worked her other arm free of the coverlets as it's mate maintained the hold on his hand, and reached up to his face- first to gently grasp and run fingers over one of his braids, and then to lay against his stubbled cheek with a couple of pats.

"Yes, little Rashemi... I'll sleep. I'll pray."

Dropping the one hand back down to lay across her injured belly, she finally released her grip with the other- letting his own hand go free. "If the Gods would but grant me one wish, it would be that our blades never cross in enmity. I hope you will always be the Lion at my side."

Words uttered with an easy smile end in drowsy mutterings. Once more, she grasps a hold of his hand as if he truly were imparting vitality into her battered form. Blue eyes close, and breathing becomes regular and steady- deeper, stronger this time. Sleep claims her once more, and this time it's truly restful.

Breaking The Spine Of The World

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A "generous warrior" shares much of his latest plunder with the local regulars, attracting many more patrons and turning a subdued week night at the ale-house into something of a riotous occasion more typical of a wedding party. Flaming Fist patrolmen keep a watch from the shadows, wary of chaos over-spilling into the streets.

Kanithar, unharnessed from his battle belts, reclines at a table with meat and drink - Heron with him. A bard strums a tune that struck the Rashemi as likable. The young man has played to the barbarian so long now that his fingers bleed, but the coins Kanithar flicks at the young man keep him loyal.

It is in the grogginess of much mead and ale that Kanithar turns striking blue eyes onto the half-elf Sundabarian. There was fiery admiration and intent in his fixation on the warrior maiden this time. The barbarian leaned closer, dropped a hand onto her forearm to prevent her taking a drink from the flagon of mead she held, and spoke to her in low and bold accents that, despite their command, were pleading;

"Go North with me, Heron. Go North with me to the Spine of the World - and to the Uthgardt."

Elf blood gave the woman, normally, a luminous gaze through eyes colored a deep, pure shade of blue. Mead, however, gave those eyes a bloodshot glassiness, and caused them to hide behind drooping eyelids. Lazily, the obscured gaze dropped down to the barbarian's scarred, thick-fingered grasp on her arm as he prevented her next swallow. Lips parted to utter good natured protest, until he spoke.

Travel North, all the way to the Spine. Seek the Uthgardt. The proposition caught her off guard, stunning her toward a momentary sobriety. She regarded him with eyes now more focused, but also confused at this new request... and perhaps within their depths, too, a fire was kindled.

To go North, again...

She gave a slow shake of her head, setting the braid in her hair swaying. It was not a denial, but rather an attempt to clear alcohol summoned fog from her thoughts. Packing up and heading north was not so easy as the barbarian made it seem... there were duties, responsibilities...

To whom, exactly?

Truth, she'd met the man who was to be her Knight only once and then had never laid eyes upon him. What held her to this place now?

Before speaking, her eyes narrowed ever so slightly as thoughts came on slowly. She knew.. was almost certain... he wanted to travel north to seek allies for his purpose- grim and ugly as it was.

But the Uthgardt...if they sought the right tribe.... Perhaps they could succeed where she had not, and convince this man of a better way, than that he so readily sought and welcomed. And if that chance could save this man....

"Tell me, Lionheart... why do you seek the Uthgardt?

"Maybe I am the Black Lion," the man answered with a barbaric slur, blasphemously referring to himself as the totem spiritual animal of one of the Uthgardt tribes. His eyes held a mischievous light as he eased his hand off the northerner's forearm. "Or maybe I will be, if I can bribe the prophets?" It was difficult to tell if he was serious.

Kanithar leaned back into his chair, draped one of his sun bronzed arms over the back and stroked his stubbled jaw with the other. By the strength of his ale he stared shamelessly into the blue eyes of the northerner at his table. Heron was unbeautiful to look at. There were many women in the realm more pretty of face - but to the barbarian, this woman was a secret treasure. The fierceness and loyalty and strength proved her of more worth than rubies - a better companion in battle than most men Kanithar had met.

"You are strong Heron," Kanithar's hand dropped to the table, taking a jeweled dagger which he had used for eating. He laddered the blade dexterously between thick, ring decorated fingers, "It is the Uthgardt in you, and not the elf. I want your people to fight and die for me as you do. I want you at my side - come North with me."

An excess of mead and and an excess of Northern Blood is rarely a good mix. Mead has a remarkable way of making good judgement fly right out the window, and Northern Blood usually tends to make that departure happen with violent force.

His jest of being the Black Lion made her scowl, his suggestion that he would bribe the prophets made her angry. His expressed desire to have the Uthgardt fighting and dying for him made her heart sink, and the implication that she blindly did so? Well... that was the last straw, really.

Mead, apparently, also has remarkable skill in making you miss the point, and the expressed admiration, but offers all manner of assumptions to jump to. Heron, it seems, jumped straight to the worst.

Her right hand flashed out and grabbed the barbarian by the jaw in a grip so tight that fingertips turned white, and she pulled his face toward hers. "You listen to me... you... arrogant child!" The insult would likely never have been uttered had the woman been sober, but mead... and in truth, her own heart, robbed it of it's venom in the end. "You... know nothing of the Black Lion- you seek savages and raiders to go with you to raze and pillage, destroying innocent lives on your path to your goal; you will not find them there... You have not found that in me! You... you know nothing of why I stand beside you! I do not want any part of your conquest, I care nothing for your spoils of war..! "

Regardless to what his instinctive response was to her initial assault, she simply leaned back, and gave a drunken shake of her head. Her scarred expression relaxed from indignant anger, and settled into a mask so conflicted and confused it was unreadable. "You know I will... I must.. lift my blade to try and stop you when the time comes. You know this. But... you truly do not know why I stand beside you now, do you?"

The bard's song fell flat as Heron snatched Kanithar by the jaw. As she began barking at the barbarian some of the revelers stopped and stared. Kanithar obliged her fury patiently, without protest, but his eyes were glazed while she spoke with dark indignation.

When she sat back, the jewelled dagger in Kanithar's hand wagged its blade point at the bard followed by a sharp glare - that was all the encouragement the young man needed to resume his song. With the melody, normality seemed to return to the garden party.

Kanithar fixed Heron once more in his full attention though for a while he said nothing. He simply reclined with the arrogance of a king enthroned on that tavern chair. He felt the edge and point of the nobleman's dagger in his hand while a brooding stare fixed the half-elf from under thick, scar lined eyebrows.

"Tell me."

She too stared at him for long moments, her scowl growing deeper at his presumed arrogance, and perhaps the foolishness of her own thoughts; her own willingness to stay. Finally she dropped back into her chair with enough force to rock it backward, and she slouched down, stretching out her long legs beneath the table. "Bah! I would do nothing more than waste breath on ears that would not listen, and do not care to hear." The woman was without her armour this night- she was instead dressed in a sleeveless, belted tunic which draped down over form fitting trousers. Clothing likely originally made for a man. She lifted bare, scarred arms up to drape over the back of the chair and then hang listlessly on either side, and once more came the drunken shake of her head- slow, and ponderous.

"You will find no aid in the Black Lions, little Rashemi... theirs is a different path, now. They are farmers and traders, and yearn not for war...

If you would have me by your side... you will seek the Sky Pony. I will not go, otherwise."

The Rashemi snorted for having asked in vain and threw away his gaze into the mob of gathered strangers. His disinterest in them was certain. Kanithar couldn't help but listen to Heron, even while a strong hand stabbed the dagger it grasped into the table and dragged it slowly back to himself - carving line after line which began to take shape of simple runes.

"Why would you have me seek the Sky Pony?" Kanithar stopped carving to ask. His arresting stare shot back to Heron, "Do you love them less than the Black Lion?"

Another stab of the dagger - the vandal's grip white-knuckled. This time the barbarian leaned over the jeweled pommel, swaying, numerous pendants dangling and colliding. Kanithar's head tilted, two long plaits tossing and swinging under his suspicious face, "Or do you think they are least of want to follow me?" he asked wryly.

Kanithar's blue eyes jumped rapidly between Heron's, unblinking in their intensity, searching, before he himself slouched back as if in defeat. The dagger was left standing in the table as the barbarian crossed his strong arms. Once more Kanithar glared among those enjoying themselves tonight at his expense with all the coldness of the Icerim. His mood was darkening quickly.

Suddenly, the barbarian slapped the table with a bare hand, an almighty clap that jarred the mugs. They spilled frothily as Kanithar rose from his seat, his eyes locked back on Heron - a boiling in them that told of rage rising. He looked down at the woman who, for her great height, most often looked down on him, "Keep your secrets Heron!"

The barbarian snatched his war-axe, Heron's Ear, that leaned against the table, the bard backing away to make room as it seemed Kanithar meant to take a sudden leave. But the stout warrior lingered, growling like a hungry wolf, "Soon, Heron, I will be gone - with you or without you. Seek me in Soubar when The Melting is at an end. If I am not found there by the beginning of The Time of Flowers... it is well with me - look no more.

... But come, Heron. Come to Soubar at least, if for nothing else than to stop me," Kanithar's gaze dropped pointedly to the Heart of the Lion. The momentary softness in the azure blue of his Rashemi eyes quickly hardened as Kanithar set his face to leave and began barging through the crowd, pulling aside commoners and noblemen alike to make his way out of the tavern grounds.

She watched Kanithar's retreating back- watched the angry set of his shoulders, the furious slam of his boots against the cobblestones. Her own frustration and anger reached a tipping point, and she stood up with such force her chair toppled behind her. Lips pulled into a scowling frown before parting and giving a frustrated, wordless yell- and then with a broad, sweeping swing of her muscular arm, she snatched up the imbedded dagger and dashed full tankards to the ground before she stormed out after the Barbarian.

Despite the length of her legs, it wasn't until he'd reached the harbor district before she caught him- a hand reaching forward to grab him by the meaty upper arm with a "Kanithar.. wait!"

She had no idea if he'd come around swinging his mighty fist or not, in truth she mostly expected it. But her grip dug in, and hauled the stout Rashemi around anyway, so that she could meet his gaze. "Do you truly want to know why I stand with you? It's because I would see you live, Lionheart... and I know the path you choose... you're only going to die, Kanithar... and you don't even care... but I do!"

She paused, wide eyed at her own rushed words. Slowly, she shook her head, and let it drop. Defeat came out in an exhaled breath, and then a slow whisper. "I stand with you... because I'm a damn fool, maybe. But here I stand, even though that loyalty only means so much to you as my ability to die for you."

Kanithar stood, clutched by the arm, his great-axe held by the throat, staring up into the face of the half-elf almost a foot taller than he was. The rain of the dying storm had slaughtered him. Head to toe, the son of Rashemen was drenched skin and wet leather.

Her words were like water on the fire. When the barbarian answered, his soul was quenched - even cold; "All have their day to die, Heron. What can you truly spare me from?"

The barbarian now faced Heron not because she held him there, but by his own inclination. "If I never go East, I might live another day. Maybe two. Maybe many years more. But for what? A death in bed? The craven end!"

The scowling berserk exhaled through flared nostrils. His free hand reached up to touch the face of the woman. He caressed the waterlogged braid to behind her ear to cradle her scarred cheek in his rough hand, brushing it with his thumb. As he lifted her face to see it better he was ashamed to be greeted by its defeated stare. Her care of him had availed her nothing - although by it, a strange pang stung Kanithar more sore than the blow of a sword, for he realised her love of him was surely greater than his of her.

The mead-bleary Rashemi stared intently into the eyes of the discouraged fighter, trying to revive her spirit. His voice was slowly warming and, to an extent, apologetic as he vowed a compromise, "We will go to the Sky Pony."

News Travels Fast

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Despite whatever difficulties they may be having as they each tiptoe around incredibly unfamiliar emotions, when Heron finally hears the word that has begun to spread like wildfire, she seeks out the barbarian just as fast as she can.

A weary and bare-chested Kanithar was piggybacking a gutted twelve-pointer up the Lion's Way. A longbow and two broad-head arrows were clutched together in his cold hand. He was filthy, smelling of mud and elk urine and blood.

The Rashemi is near to The Friendly Arm Inn when, lifting his head, he spied the Sundabarian making a hurried approach. Kanithar ceased his trudging immediately and shrugged the stag off onto the side of the road. He set down his bow and arrows. By then she had arrived.

"Kanithar! War is coming, Kanithar... war!" She's high strung and excited, her face burning with an intensity that the Rashemi had likely never seen. "Word is that orcs are massing, Lionheart... by the thousands, likely under a new war chief. We go north... We'll lend our blade to who will use it..."

The barbarian's eyes were dull and dubious, his strong hesitation clashing with all the excitement of the solider like the fronts of two armies. A deep breath - and a sigh - Kanithar looks away to the clouded eastern skies with a frown.

She pauses, watching, then steps right up to him, grasping his arms, and giving him a pleading look.

"Please say you will come? Come north with me, Kanithar... Come fight with me... there will be honor and glory to be had.... Please.

"I will," Kanithar was still gazing longingly to the east when he gave his sudden answer. When he looked back up to the face of that Uthgardt woman a fire was lit in his eyes.

"I will," the berserker repeated himself with more strength of conviction than the first answer, the wild whites of his eyes bright against the dirt of his face as he grabbed the Sundabarian by the shoulder, then slapped her on the cheek with a laugh and broke away to squat beside the stag. He heaved it up onto his back, took up his bow and arrows and arose, beginning again on his way again.

"Come," Kanithar turned back and beckoned as he began staggering up the road, "feast with me tonight."

As he turned his back and marched once more toward The Friendly Arm Inn, the northern horizon smoldered in the maurauder's brooding stare.

It was not the war he wanted ... but a war was a war.

A Snake in the Garden

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Kanithar had made his stumbling way to the Friendly Arm with naught but a mild restorative that Heron pushed into his hands. He was clearly poisoned from the halfling's blade, and likely still in grave danger. The gigantic Sundabarian then turned to friends- Alessia, and Rathren in a desperate plea to find an antidote. Tymora offered grace in the form of an amulet in Rathren's possession- one enchanted to remove poisons. Time was not wasted, and all three rushed to their friend's bedside with hopes of cleansing the Rashemi of the poison's effects.

Heron was not so delicate with door or lock once they reached the Rashemi's room- her fear and anger pushed her to set shoulder to the door and shove, sundering the latch into a mess of splinters and twisted metal. She'd pay for it, of course. Later. For the moment, she hurried to the bedside where the barbarian had collapsed. He was pale, limp, and a lift of his eyelids would display wildly dilated pupils.

She was helpless, and that was the worst feeling in the world. All she could do was turn to Rathren and Alessia with a clear expression that said "Please....fix this!" Unable to do more, she snatched up a chair and moved it closer, taking up a vigil the barbarian had only too recently held on her behalf.

As her friends did what they could for Kanithar, she simply watched and waited, her left hand clasping hold of one of his, while the right continuously stroked one thick braid and the long feather that had been tied to it.

Allie frowns as she takes to a position by the barbarian's side. Gently, the examines the man; examining his pupils as well as testing the temperature of his skin.

Her frown deepened. "This is a poison in which I am unfamiliar..." She said as she looked to Rathren and Heron, "But I've the means of strengthening him, in an attempt to assist his own body in fighting the toxin."

The girl rummages in her pack, producing a vial with the depiction of a bear upon it. She bites her lip, looking over the barbarian with a mixture of concern and uncertainty. It may be apparent to those present that this is an event outside of her experience.

"Perhaps if we make him more resilient, and couple my magic with the amulet, we can purge the remainder of this poison." Alessia readies the vial to administer, looking to the others present for input.

Heron looked up to Alessia. The fear and anger that sent her bursting through the door almost made her snap her reply back to Alessia, but she managed for force calm into her her voice instead. "Whatever you think to do, Alessia, just do. We may not have time to wonder about "perhaps".

Allie shrinks a bit in her stance and bites her lip at the imposing woman. Frowning, she begins to administer the Bear's Endurance potion, gently cradling Kanithar's head as she attempt to assist him in the ingestion of the brew. As she does so, she hums softly; an attempt to inspire toughness within the barbarian.

All the girl can do then is wait for some measure of reaction or acceptance from the Barbarian, before the next step is to be made.

Kanithar - usually sun bronzed - is pale and washed out in colour. His eyes are ringed with darkness, lips blue. The barbarian is perspiring profusely, his breathing laboured - the sheets draping him already cling to his bare skin. He clutches the hand of Heron as best he can with fingers bruised and knuckles grazed from fighting.

Like wounded predator Kanithar's the bleary blue eyes shift groggily to follow the movements of those in the chamber with suspicion. As his head is cradled by the bardess, however, Kanithar does not resist. His thick black mane is drenched with sweat and plastered to the skin of his face and shoulders, greasy to the touch.

When the vessel is put to his lips he blinks surprised, doing his best to oblige the ministering of the potion - some dribbling down his black stubbled chin onto his chest as he gulped greedily. He turns his head away at the last of it, spilling some more down his face and front as he opens his mouth to gasp for air, "Bhalla!" the barbarian calls furiously to the goddess, smoldering blue eyes raising to the ceiling with great frustration for the incapacitated state of his strengthless body.

As Alessia helps Kanithar swallow the fortifying elixir, Rathren steps forward on the other side of the Rashemi's cot. Wasting no time, he removes from his pack an amulet of simple construction - silver chain tied to an alexandrite stone. Holding the violet pendant in one hand, he places his remaining one on the Rashemi's bare shoulder and whispers a quiet prayer to the Seldarine in the elvish tongue.

By the Moonlit Mystery, who now watches over us. By the Leaflord Rillifane, who guards the natural order. I beseech thee, protect this friend of the People from the knife in the dark and its poison. Drive away the venom that courses his veins. Protect him so that he may be our ally in defense against the coming tides of the ancient enemy.

As his prayer comes to a finish, the elf grasps his amulet tightly, invoking its power to Neutralize Poison upon Kanithar's form. Finally, he steps back, hoping that his efforts would soon see success.

The robust chest of the strapping Rashemi rises and falls slowly with the great and labored breaths in and out of his broad nose. As Rathren's hand fell on his shoulder Kanithar looked to the man who had, until he drew near, being an unrecognisable figure. "Ha... Rathren you bounder," Kanithar teased, "who let you in here?"

Kanithar fell silent at the prayer. Sky blue eyes caved into bruised sockets disappeared behind their veils as Kanithar forfeited much consciousness. He drifted into a restless state between waking and sleeping. What little strength clutched the hand of that loyal half-elf sitting beside him melted to nearly nothing. Kanithar continued to breathe and occasionally whispered in his native Rassalesian, eyelids flickering and sweat rolling down, his heart a war-drum ominous pounding slowly in his breast.

As Kanithar's grip fell limp and unconciousness came over him, Heron only moved to quickly fetch a pitcher of water, and a cloth. With it, she endeavored to wipe away the sweat, and cool his skin. "Did you hear, Lionheart... do you feel? Even the Seldarine gives you grace." Her words to the barbarian were soft murmurs. Eyes turned to her companions, and deep gratitude was reflected along with her weariness. "... We need to find Loghain, and quickly. Kanithar won't have the patience to accept the law when he regains his strength. I will remain here. If you see the Tyran, send him to me immedaitely.... please."

Her vigil began anew, and she once more took up his limp hand, interlacing her fingers with his own. Upon her lap, she lay her enormous great blade; then trained her eyes to the door. Here she would remain until the barbarian awoke, or the paladin showed, or she was required to leap to defense against intruders.

Collaborative writing with Fury_US, Chipowski, wangxiuming

Tooth decay is the leading cause of Barbarian Rage.

Last edited by Darradarljod on Sat May 21, 2016 12:50 am, edited 8 times in total.

 Post subject: Re: Dajemma of the Black Lion
Unread postPosted: Wed May 18, 2016 6:50 am 

Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2011 6:15 pm
Posts: 275
Location: New Zealand

The Road to Recovery

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The poison, whatever it had been, had sapped the barbarian's strength entirely, leaving Kanithar in a near comatose state while his body struggled to recover from it's effects. Heron remained close- refusing to leave his side. As he moved in and out of mumbling conciousness, often she would turn to listen to his words despite her inability to understand the language; and too she would speak softly to him despite his inability to reply.

Perhaps he heard. Perhaps he didn't. They were simply words to strike down her overwhelming sense of helplessness, and to hopefully let the stricken man know he was not alone.

Perhaps, too, he would be aware of being propped up, of being fed simple broth, as he would not have even had the strength to chew, or swallow at first. Perhaps he noticed when, occasionally, the half elf would give him sips of what remained of his jhuild, to bolster him. Perhaps he felt the warm steam and hot water of the bath, and perhaps he could smell the oil and hear the whetstone as she tended to his gear.

And perhaps.... Perhaps sky blue eyes would open and see the face of grim determination and unflinching loyalty upon features too scarred now to be considered lovely anymore, as she re-braided freshly cleaned hair, and re-affixed the heron's feather to one of the long plaits.

The dawn was less cruel this morning.

Kanithar found himself truly awake for the first time in days. He was surprised to find himself still embodied in the flesh - yes, he was alive! This by the grace of the Seldarine and the faithfulness of friends.

Yet this familiar vessel which had ever met him with strength in the morning greeted him today with nothing but weakness and infirmity. It took him a moment to remember why. To remember the cause. To remember its face...

Warm hues of early daylight soaked the room through the softly stained glass of the tavern window. The sound of bird-songs reached this chamber from the woodlands surrounding the keep. It was as though the barbarian awoke from too long dreaming. When his bleary eyes began to adjust and to focus it was Heron that he saw - seated beside him like a guardian-nurse. Her face, strong and grim, fixing him with all the severity of her attention.

"Heron," Kanithar murmured, his dry throat robbing some of the gladness from the exclamation. The thick-fingered hand of a warrior raised to the half-elf's scarred face and, with grateful affection, pushed its thumb gently under her left eye where the greatest of the scars began. He followed this trench of scar-tissue down her cheek, tracing over the lips of her mouth to where the mark crossed onto the right side of her chin - from which point his hand sank back to the bed as if its weight was great indeed.

Kanithar gulped thirstily. His eyes closed once more - but not to sleep. They moved beneath the lids flitting rapidly as if many things passed before him. His breathing began to hurry. Now he was summoning the strength in his legs. Strength to rise. The linen slides over the barbarian as he tries sincerely to escape the bed. It is futile. The hand closest to Heron clutched at the sheets, knuckles white.

When his gaze locked again on the half-elf it was with a strange desperation that he had never betrayed to her before, "Mielikki," Kanithar whispered, "you must ... take me to her. You must ... take me to her, now!"

She tried to offer a lift of a smile, as the barbarian looked to her, touched her with actual awareness. She would offer a cup to his lips, and help him quench his parched thirst. And then she would nod to his plea to visit the woodland goddess's shrine.

Everything the man needed, she performed, without question, without judgement. She helped him free his limbs from the encumbrance of the covers, she aided him in sitting upright for the first time in days. She dressed him without complaint or sly remark and she armed him as dutifully as squire would serve their Lord.

When the time came to walk, her arm reached 'round his back, and bore his weight with silent strength. She knew well enough that soon she'd carry him... but knew too that from this door to the edge of the wilds, those around the Inn must see him walk. She knew Kanithar would want nothing else. She knew she would accept no less.

By the time she bore the man across her back, piggy-back style, he was gasping labored breaths and once more drenched in the sweat of effort- but they were past the Friendly Arm Inn, well on their way down the Lion's way. Despite his height of only 5'5", Kanithar was solid as iron, and at this point clung to her as dead weight- her own sweat by now had plastered pale hair to her face. Still... nothing of her bearing registered complaint- only dedication and determination.

A rare piece of luck delivered them to the shrine without being harried by goblins along the way- she gave a quiet, grateful prayer to Tymora for that. She knelt down, gritting her teeth beneath the strain on muscles already taxed to their limit to ease the Rashemi from her back, then offered what aid she could to get him eased.

She turned to face him, and still kneeling before the man, in witness of the serene statue of the shrine she clasped ahold of one of his hands, drawing his attention to her intense gaze. "I have spoken with Loghain, Kanithar... I have tried to do this the right... or rather, their way. There... seems to be little they will do. But I am not done, I swear it. If Law will turn it's back upon us, I will seek a more bitter Justice.... If Tyr is deaf to my pleas, I will invoke Hoar."

Kanithar's face hardened to stone as Heron spoke of the paladin Loghain, of 'right' and of 'justice'; of 'their way'.

'Their way' indeed!

"Loghain is not my son," the barbarian met the deep blue stare of Heron with his own sky blue, stern and serene, "or my father, or my brother, that he should be my avenger."

"Don't you see how I am alive, and not dead? So trouble no more gods," he looked away from her zealous severity and up into the nearly featureless face of that weathered old statue - she who reigned ever silently at this riverside shrine. "I will get my own revenge."

The gentle wind cooled the sweat bleeding out of Kanithar's hypersensitive skin. The shock of all his ordeal and a premature departure from the bed of recovery caused his muscles to tremble. Being alive was painfully uncomfortable. Despite the brokenness of his body, Kanithar's stubborn mind was elsewhere. He seemed to be dreaming, even though he was awake.

"Why did the elf-gods answer Rathren when he prayed for this nydeshka?" Kanithar glared at the ancient idol with cold superstition. Despite its mouth, it did not speak to answer.

"It is because you are their daughter? Or something else," Kanithar answered impatiently for the speechless thing, "Yes, Mielikki - you and them, and them and Helm!"

An agitated barbarian arose from his lounging on the bank with much difficulty. His rejection of the ready aid of Heron was prideful - as if he were under some kind of public scrutiny, though they were surely alone.

Now standing, wrapped in his wolf skin cloak, he staggered directly toward the statue - one fur booted foot stomping ahead of the next in a drunken swagger.

"It's true. Even Heron's god who hates me sends the Bannik to me!" Kanithar throws out his mighty arms, baring his naked chest and casting off the cloak that had sheltered him. He staggers on thus, arms extended as if presenting himself.

Kanithar bared his strong white teeth in a snarl, "I know you only want to see me to kill your enemies!" His fists clenched, "Don't you see I am not without enemies for myself? Kill your own enemies, Mielikki!---"

Kanithar oversteps and falls to one of his knees with a loud grunt. He winded himself when he fell and broke his fall a little too late on an elbow and a hand.

Frustrated and ashamed, Kanithar clutches a fistful of the soil and gasps thirstily to catch his breath. Despite his bravado and all his defiance, he is weak. Spittle webs his chin and dangles like threads of spider silk against the black stubble. He stares up through his sweat clumped fringe at the eternally indifferent bronze form. Bitter determination steams in his bleary, poisoned eyes. But this breaks down like a wall of stone without mortar, giving way to the wounded gaze of a man sorely humbled in his infirmity.

"Send me the Bannik - give me back the strength to dajemma," Kanithar pleads quietly, but loud enough for his half-elven companion to have heard him clearly, "I will go where I am sent."

The statuesque half elf stood, then, and made her way slowly to her companion's side. Evening sun fell behind her towering form, silhouetting her armored body, but setting pale blonde hair aflame in a halo of reflected golden hues. Despite the battle worn nature of the woman, she appeared almost ethereal in that magical light. A hand reached out, then an arm encircled as she knelt once more to offer aid to the barbarian. Upon her face rested an understanding empathy, while abiding affection softened those features into a loveliness despite the scars.

"It is in that moment of knowing sacrifice, and that moment alone, that the boy becomes a man..."

She lifted him once more to his feet as determination once more steeled her brow. Once he was up, she stepped back, and crossed arms over her chest. He would walk... and she would be beside him. "I do not know what a Bannik is, Kanithar, but I am here. I always will be."

Soubar Downtime

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It was the droning of bees and the low, near constant rumble of thunder that woke the amazonian woman, finally, to bleary-eyed confusion. She peered out from under the lean-to through a narrow slitted squint, while trying to absorb her surroundings. The sky above was a crystal blue- with not a single cloud. Was there a giant hornet's nest overhead, to be making that gods awful sound?

A hand levered itself onto the steadily rising and falling chest that her head had been pillowed on, and the tactile sense of meeting skin instead of grass brought alertness on much faster. She started, quickly pulling back from the sleeping barbarian while eyes did a quick once over herself- just to make sure that their sleeping arrangement wasn't the result of way too much mead and way too many bad decisions. No... she was still in her armor, and Kanithar was as clothed as he ever was, which... wasn't saying much, but at least it wasn't even less than normal. Besides... she hadn't even drank the night before, being as on edge about her unwelcome welcome she felt she'd received in Soubar.

She shook her head, intent to shake free the last of the cobwebs. She had spent way, way too much time awake during her vigil, and fatigue didn't want to let go readily. Memories finally clicked in, and she remembered Kanithar leading her to one of the lean-to's, and insisting she sleep. She remembered too, how he'd remained close, intent to stay until she actually had fallen asleep, and how he'd been out before she was. His strength had returned for the most part, and despite weariness coming on quicker for him for now, it seemed Mielikki had sent him the Bannik, just as he'd asked.

It was certainly loud enough.

She based on one elbow and leaned into his chest, bringing her face close to his. A hand rose and clapped to the side of his cheek. "Kanithar.... You snore like an ogre."

Dreams of running alongside a majestic unicorn in the Icerim were interrupted by a clap to the cheek. Kanithar startled to life with a broad-nosed snort that caused stubborn flies on his face to scramble in all directions.

A rude reality to return to; someone else's bedroll, someone else's lean-to, and all the sounds of Soubar... but then a woman's voice.

Blurred vision, a dry mouth and a headache testified together that the free jugs of swill he sank the night before were a poor brew. It seemed cruel to the barbarian to be so polluted in the morning by an ale that refused to get him drunk the night before. But who was this he had bedded?

Kanithar lifted his head and peered down at the woman addressing him. He gazed with bleary eyes. The fair hair framing the blurry face was promising - perhaps the tavern keeper's adopted daughter, Goldenhair? Ha, a triumph to tell of, that would be!

Rubbing with his fingers to clear his eyes a little more caused a surprised leap of his scar intercepted eyebrows - it was the face of Heron Rhayne!

The barbarian was less shocked and a little bit pleased with himself, really, and it may have showed on his face - but only for as long as it took him to recollect the actual events that led to this dawn. These memories rolled through his groggy mind like a lazy dog.

An violent campaign alongside the Ebon Blade, much ale to celebrate, and then helping the exhausted half-elf to rest. Kanithar meant to abide as a watch, not to sleep. He did not even remember laying back. But there she was, draped over him under a wolf-skin and... armored still. The warmth of the steel against his skin assured him that nothing had occurred.

Kanithar dropped his head back onto the padded bedroll with a thud and a thirsty mutter that was more true for himself than it was for her;

"You need to wash your mouth."

She obligingly covered her mouth with her hand, as her tongue ran over teeth groggily. A single nod, and then she began the somewhat complicated task of extricating herself from the entanglement they'd awoke to. There... really wasn't going to be a way to do it delicately or with any modicum of grace. Once more she levered her hand upon his broad chest and pushed, attempting to lift herself into a sitting position while fighting to get free of the wolf skin cloak. "I think that damn thing still has fleas, Kanithar.... everything on me itches" she muttered and cursed until she was finally upright.

Once sitting cross legged, she rested elbows on her knees and looked out- the bleary eyed squint still remaining on her features. Lips smacked once, twice, and she grimaced before aggressively rubbing her face with her hands, then dragging them through her flaxen hair. Thoroughly rumpled and disheveled, Heron lifted a single arm and gave a not so ladylike sniff to her pit. Her grimace deepened, and she immediately began to unbuckle plates, setting them off to the side. "Ugh... I am going to find out if there is a bath house in this dump, and if not I'm heading down to the river." Out from under the lean-to she came, on hands and knees, until she could finally stand up. That particular process drew a stiff muscled groan, and before she finished stripping the rest of her plates, she began a series of joint cracking stretches.

Once barefoot and out of armor she peered back into the shade of the lean-to. "I'm going to burn every cheap Cormyrian romance novel I find. Clearly... they lie." And with that, she stumbled off in search of soap, a towel, and hopefully a less fragrant day.

It seemed Kanithar did not hear the threat, for he was laid still as if asleep once more - though the absence of his snoring might have betrayed him. As Heron left, an eye peeped open to see her go.

Kanithar hurriedly helped himself up onto a calloused elbow and leaned to reach his satchel, dragging it near to grope within.

One last furtive gaze the way the Sundabarian went, and then Kanithar turned his anxious gaze down to that which was in his hand; nothing less than the ragingly popular and equally tacky cheap Cormyrian romance novel, "On A Hot Summer Knight". In fact, a very much damaged and stained likeness of a copy that had been lacking from Heron's belongings since her recovery from the bear attack...

Tooth decay is the leading cause of Barbarian Rage.

Last edited by Darradarljod on Wed May 25, 2016 12:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

 Post subject: Re: Dajemma of the Lion
Unread postPosted: Wed May 25, 2016 12:22 am 

Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2011 6:15 pm
Posts: 275
Location: New Zealand
Update: Saga II - Soubar Downtime (Fury_US, Darradarljod)

Tooth decay is the leading cause of Barbarian Rage.

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