And it feels like me on a good day [seasonal event]
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Hand of the Queen / Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 12 - Strg: 34 - Dext: 34 - Endr: 35 - Luck: 34
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
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Posts: 1,924
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#1

a m a l i a

Deepfrost is a loathed season; the dark and cold offer nothing to the girl, who dreams of sunlight and fire and song. Going out requires a level of effort greatly displeasing to the simple girl, who given an option would always choose to stay in an area of comfort, be it the Atheneum or her shop. Yet traditions must be upheld, ancient ways respected: and so Amalia ventures out at the earliest crack of dawn, her expression stubborn, sleep still heavy in her eyes. She wields a lantern like a shield and wraps herself in furs and scarves, hilariously over-armored against the winter chill but determined not to suffer any undue cold.

It is some time since Amalia last ventured to the Oasis, but as the girl trudges through waning banks of snow the warm pleasure of familiarity thaws some of her displeasure, easing her mind. As the glittering ice comes into view the girl lets out a happy sigh. She cannot deny that this is one of her favorite places, even in the dreaded cold - especially in the winter, when it retains some semblance of the warmer months, unsullied by all but a light dusting of snow. Glow stones cast a warm illumination, even in the lingering dark. It is a perfect place to look for luxere, and it is for this reason Amalia has come, despite her aversion to the chill.

Finding a relatively dry patch of earth beneath a tree, the girl hangs her lantern and drops her bag, kneeling down to rummage through and find the treats within. There is little, alas: her stores are woefully empty this winter, and she has only a few handful of oats to spare. She will have to rely on her voice this year, on song and supplication to coax the gentle giants of light.

Rolling back onto her heels, the girl settles into a seated position, oats placed carefully in a nearby bowl. There are luxere nearby, Amalia knows this: she has seen their tracks, careful cloven hoofprints in the snow-kissed earth, tufts of their fur on wayward trees. Closing her eyes, the girl sighs, finding peace in the quiet of a late dawn. "O Rae, who governs nature," she softly prays, "Please smile on me today. Send your children to grace my home, that I may be protected on this Long Night."

Her prayer finished, the girl sings, alto voice lilting in the cold.

"For flowers that bloom about our feet,
"For tender grass so fresh and sweet,
"For song of bird and hum of bee,
"For all things fair we hear and see,
"Rae and the Old Ones, we thank thee,
"Rae and the Old Ones, we thank thee."


Jigano

Jigano Silversmith
the Sage
Provost of the Loreseekers Soul Shepherd / Outlander Advisor
Portal Guardian
Age: 29 | Height: 6'2" | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander
Level: 10 - Strg: 30 - Dext: 33 - Endr: 37 - Luck: 35
ISUMA - Mythical - Gryphon (venomous)
Played by: Cirago Offline
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Posts: 3,414
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#2
Jigano was not, by nature, an early riser. He did his best work in the evenings, playing songs and stories in the Rathskeller (and many taverns before that) to earn his room and board, and then, if the night had been lean, hunted in his fox-form or just explored for awhile in the peace of darkness. No, he usually preferred to sleep until mid-morning before getting his day started, and since he was currently living in an abandoned badger holt near the Glade, he was rarely bothered or woken out of turn.

And never by someone singing at the crack of dawn.

One blue eye pried itself open in the dark beneath the earth, and he wrinkled his nose where it was tucked beneath a fluff of white tail. The singing wasn't stopping and, more, it was quite good. He could go back to sleep to it, in fact, it was so sweet and soothing.

Or... he could get up, and find out who had such a lovely alto that would complement his tenor nicely.

A white fox emerged from the hole in the ground, obscured by a fallen log that also protected it from the snow. He shook himself, sitting down to take a moment and make sure he was presentable before trotting over the snow. A snort of a large creature caught his attention and he paused to look at a deer-like beast with softly shining horns heading in the same direction, though more slowly than he was.

They had been drawn to his singing, as well, not so long ago. The thought had him smiling as he continued on in the grey light, hoping that whoever was calling this time had good intentions as well.

He reached the edge of the Oasis in comfort before taking the shape of a man, winter-clothed and yawning as he neatened his braided white hair, hidden safely back in the shadows of the trees. Pulling his grey-furred cloak around himself his feet crunched quietly through the snow as he stepped out to discover the early-morning songstress.

A girl sat there, sweet-faced and apparently unarmed but for a lantern and a bowl and a song. Jigano smiled at the tableaux, appreciating the artful arrangement even as he gave a cautious nod of greeting. "Good morning," he spoke softly, stifling another yawn. "I didn't expect anyone else to be up so early out here. Would you be kind enough to sing that song again? I didn't quite catch the beginning." His smile turned winsome as he offered a brief bow of greeting - too tired yet to do anything more flamboyant. "My name is Jigano, by the way. May I ask yours?"
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Hand of the Queen / Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 12 - Strg: 34 - Dext: 34 - Endr: 35 - Luck: 34
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
Change author:
Posts: 1,924
MP:
#3

a m a l i a

Solitude, serenity. How easily it is interrupted, plans for quiet laid to waste by the crunch of footsteps in the quiet grass. The man makes little noise, so little that she does not notice at first, does not hear over the sound of her own singing. A snap; the girl looks up, her lips drawing closed, dark eyes wide and hopeful, though the eager expression shifts quickly to surprise as the source of the noise grows apparent. Not a luxere but a man, tan and tall with hair a shade of shocking silver Amalia has never seen. Bemused, the girl swallows her voice, the second verse of the melody dying in her throat as wary self-consciousness overtakes her mind. She does not sing for audiences, not often, not anymore.

"It's an old hymn," she offers instead of a bar, looking up from her seated position. "For Rae." The thick cloak is drawn closer around her narrow shoulders as she shifts into a more alert position, now on her knees and ready to rise should there be any provocation. She swats gently at her pants, shaking off the earth and snow, nervous and uncertain with this new development. In exchange for his smile she gives a nod, still wary of his intentions and not a little irked. “It’s old,” she adds unhelpfully, stubbornly unable or unwilling to sing on command.

Jigano. Now named, the stranger is slightly less strange, and the girl relaxes somewhat. "Amalia." Her attention shifts back to the woods around the oasis, eyes scanning the treeline before returning to him. "I am looking for luxere. They seem to enjoy the peace at dawn." A pointed remark, perhaps uncalled for, but she is not sure what else to say. She came here to lure luxere and find solitude, and she’s all out of solitude.

Still, she is not entirely unwelcoming, despite the unexpected surprise of him. Amalia gestures to the ground beside her in invitation: he is welcome to stay, if he will stay quietly, and not distract her quarry. "I saw some tracks, and earlier- ah!" Her voice cuts off in an excited whisper, enthusiasm lighting a flame in her heart. Distracted, the girl nearly bounces with a bright and sudden joy, all trepidation momentarily burned away in the ardent flame of success. "There, in the trees- do you see it?" A lone stag lingers in the brush near the oasis, luminous and lovely in the rising light.

Jigano Silversmith
the Sage
Provost of the Loreseekers Soul Shepherd / Outlander Advisor
Portal Guardian
Age: 29 | Height: 6'2" | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander
Level: 10 - Strg: 30 - Dext: 33 - Endr: 37 - Luck: 35
ISUMA - Mythical - Gryphon (venomous)
Played by: Cirago Offline
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Posts: 3,414
MP:
#4
"Rae," Jigano mused, a little surprised. "The Old God of nature? I found his name in a book in the Atheneum. I went and prayed at the shrine in the glade but..." the bard shrugged wryly, for gods not answering prayers was the usual way of things.

Unless you were Remi, apparently.

But it was far too early to be thinking about that young disaster. Especially with someone else so near at hand. "A pleasure, Amalia," he assured her with a smile, then had to cover another yawn. Ambling over at her invitation, the tall lorekeeper leaned against a sturdy tree rather than risk the damp ground, but there was a little smile on his face as he looked down at her, as if about to share a lovely secret. "And if you're looking for the old man, he's on his--" Her voice cut him off as she lit up nearly as bright as her quarry, pointing the direction Jigano had come from.

He chuckled softly, glancing up at the reindeer he'd met twice before, and kept his voice gentle and quiet. "He, not it. I passed him on my way to investigate who was singing so bright and early in these woods." He grinned back down at the girl, feeling unexpectedly at ease with her clear delight in the beautiful creature - or perhaps it was just because he was so tired. "Sing for him, please? I'll pick up the refrain as you go and we'll see if he won't come close enough to investigate." As long as he didn't go looking for treats in Jigano's long mane again, the lorekeeper was just as glad to see the bright creature doing so well.

It lifted its head and snuffled in their direction, taking a few cautious steps through the trees closer to the oasis.
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Hand of the Queen / Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 12 - Strg: 34 - Dext: 34 - Endr: 35 - Luck: 34
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
Change author:
Posts: 1,924
MP:
#5

a m a l i a

His faltering knowledge of the Old Gods is enough to set the girl further at ease. The Atheneum earns her another point: at least he has tried to learn the old ways. "Nobody has heard from the old gods for years," the girl affirms, her own shrug echoing his own. A smile softens the edges of her face. "But I am glad others still pray."

She watches him as he wanders closer, wishing he would sit instead of stand. It puts her at a disadvantage, forces her to either move or crane her neck, and perhaps she would have restated the issue, should the luxere not have chosen that moment to appear. As it is the annoyance is quickly forgotten, washed away in the joy of something beautiful, something good and pure. "He," Amalia repeats in a reverent whisper, her breath forming pockets of icy steam. The buck steps closer and she rises to her knees, still quiet despite her quickening heart. Twenty one winters, and the sight still entrances her. She is a child in the face of wonder.

But then there is something dirty, something dark and black to shade her mirth. The request for a song pulls Amalia from her reverie; she falters, falls back, ugly anxiety rearing its cruel head. She does not sing on command - cannot, has not since she was a girl and things were so different, and she was not alone. "I-"

She is not the only one faltering. As though sensing her trepidation, the luxere pauses in his approach, suddenly not sure these humans are worth his time. Stupid, stupid! Amalia thinks, shame rising hot to kiss her face. A moment ago she was singing, a moment ago it was fine. Again she tries, but her voice catches in her throat, dies in a strangled and pointless note. Defeated, she falls back onto her heels, hands clenched into furious fists. "Will you, instead?" She does not look at the tall stranger: her eyes are cast down on the ground, since at least dirt cannot judge her. As far as she knows.

Jigano Silversmith
the Sage
Provost of the Loreseekers Soul Shepherd / Outlander Advisor
Portal Guardian
Age: 29 | Height: 6'2" | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander
Level: 10 - Strg: 30 - Dext: 33 - Endr: 37 - Luck: 35
ISUMA - Mythical - Gryphon (venomous)
Played by: Cirago Offline
Change author:
Posts: 3,414
MP:
#6
"It seemed... right," he said quietly, remembering that visit to the shrine under the starlight, with the glowing stones and folded paper he'd brought as an offering. But at least she didn't make fun of him for it, or view him with mistrust, as those who had experienced some of the... other gods might have done. It made introductions easier, and he approached as slowly as he would have a wild thing, both sleepy and not feeling particularly quick-footed, and not wanting to startle her.

He needn't have worried - the luxere provided a far better distraction and he couldn't help but smile at her joy in it. His request for the song was made innocently, but her reaction was not one simply of shyness, but distress. The lorekeeper straightened, looking down at her in worry as she stuttered. He forgot the luxere for the moment - the deer was more common to him than Amalia - as she tried to sing and not merely faltered but failed, throat closing tight on the first note.

"I'm sorry," he spoke gently. "I didn't mean to cause you pain." He stepped over to kneel beside her, slipping a pack from beneath his cloak and dipping his hand into it with deft confidence, knowing exactly what was packed and where. He withdrew a wooden twintail flute, adjusting the blocks with practiced ease before raising it to his lips. The first note rang out in G minor, soft and coaxing, but soon other notes joined it in the morning air as Jigano played the instrument slowly. When the luxere blinked at him and took a step closer he stifled a smile, adding the drone side. It might not have been singing, but the deer seemed curious about the music - and, Jigano hoped, slanting a glance to his companion, Amalia would be too?
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Hand of the Queen / Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 12 - Strg: 34 - Dext: 34 - Endr: 35 - Luck: 34
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
Change author:
Posts: 1,924
MP:
#7

a m a l i a

His apology only wounds her further, driving home the weight of her ineptitude and abashment. She does not look up as he draws near, her gaze still downcast, frustration and shame written across her face. Tongue-tied and troublesome, her mother would call her. Why start something if you cannot finish it? It had been a common refrain in the girl's adolescence, a repeated mantra driving home her inadequacies, her anxieties. Her mother believed it possible to cure unreasonableness by smothering it with reason. She did not have time to sing to Luxere; it was far more expedient to offer them grain and let them about their business.

Amalia clenches and unclenches her hands. "I'm sorry," she echoes softly, more to the ground than the buck or man. Movement to her left draws her from her reverie; despite herself she is curious, cautiously intrigued by the stranger's next move. From behind lowered lashes the glances sidelong as he reaches into a hidden pack, extracting an instrument unrecognized to the girl.

The first note rings out clear and clean, soothing and softening Amalia's concerns. She had expected laughter, abandonment, haughtiness, but this? This is kindness, empathy, and the girl does not know whether to laugh or cry. Carefully she listens to the woven notes, their effect on the luxure evident as the beast steps closer, its gentle eyes warm. A thin, grateful smile flickers at Amalia's lips; they part slightly, as quietly, a hum joins in with the notes of the flute, quickly turning into words as the girl catches the tune. Closing her eyes Amalia sings, willing herself to be brave, the words of a poem half-remembered easily fitting into the tune.

"How clear, how lovely bright,
How beautiful to sight
Those beams of morning play;
How heaven laughs out with glee
Where, like a bird set free,
Up from the eastern sea
Soars the delightful day."

Jigano Silversmith
the Sage
Provost of the Loreseekers Soul Shepherd / Outlander Advisor
Portal Guardian
Age: 29 | Height: 6'2" | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander
Level: 10 - Strg: 30 - Dext: 33 - Endr: 37 - Luck: 35
ISUMA - Mythical - Gryphon (venomous)
Played by: Cirago Offline
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Posts: 3,414
MP:
#8
She seemed timid at times, but with a sharpness just beneath the surface at others. Mostly, though, she was a quiet creature, and her wariness of him was only wise. He had interrupted her call to the luxere though, and though she had interrupted his morning's sleep, it wasn't a fair trade to begrudge her the creature's blessing. It wasn't as though he owned any part of the woods, after all. If he wanted to be assured of quiet he would need to find a proper house... something he still shied away from. He'd been a wanderer too long to be comfortable setting down roots so soon after arriving, even with the bitter cold of winter upon them.

"I may ask you 'why' later," he murmured, settling down and retrieving his instrument. "I assure you, you've done nothing that would require an apology. Neither to me, nor to him." The morning was cold but still, the rising sun turning the east a warming pink in herald of its approach, and the notes of the flute rang out with soft clarity, coaxing the luxere closer. Jigano could have sung - and sung well, as part of his trade - but doing so would have been a rudeness the young woman didn't deserve. Rather than make her feel even more self-conscious about her voice in comparison to his - foolish, since he had training and made a living with it, but how often was the heart rational? - he chose instead an instrument that he hoped would give no sense of competition.

He couldn't smile as he heard the humming begin beside him, soft and tentative at first but growing more confident as Amalia found his tune, but his blue eyes warmed and crinkled at the edges. When she began to sing he didn't miss a beat or change a thing, continuing to play the simple, cheerful little tune and appreciating how well her words fit into it. Her voice was fine and lovely enough for the luxere, clearly, who perked his ears forward and stepped towards them, wariness fading at the welcoming music - and smell of oats in the bowl. A few steps more and his velvety nose had found them, lipping up the meager offering and then stepping closer to sniff Amalia's hair for more of the tasty treats.
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Hand of the Queen / Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 12 - Strg: 34 - Dext: 34 - Endr: 35 - Luck: 34
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
Change author:
Posts: 1,924
MP:
#9

a m a l i a

The approach of the luxere is met with a pretty flush of her narrow cheeks and a quickening of her heart. From behind lowered lashes she peers at the beast, the cheerful tune still dancing from her tongue as the great old buck draws near. A glance is thrown at her companion, Jigano still keeping time with his flute. Perhaps it is not so bad to have been interrupted, after all. Company can be a welcome thing, anxiety inducing as it may be.

As the last words fall from Amalia's lips, she lets her dark eyes open fully, and they quickly light with delight. The deer is practically upon her now, its nose inching closer as it seeks more food. She wishes she had more to offer: perhaps she will go to Rory and ask for apples, soon. One slender hand reaches out to scratch the luxere behind the ears as it investigates her hair. "Hello, friend," the girl murmurs, entirely absorbed in the attention of the creature, her companion momentarily forgotten as she basks in the creature's glow. "Rae made a masterpiece when they made you. Perhaps you'll look after us in the Long Night, hm?"

Finally looking back at the man, Amalia offers another smile, grateful yet abashed. "Thank you." She sits back, shifting in her place on the ground, which causes the luxere to start but not retreat, as he turns his attention to Jigano and his noted lack of treats. "I used to come here with my grandmother and sing to them, but..." She trails off pensively, not wanting to elaborate on painful memory. "It's been some time."

She inspects his face again, closer now, as though trying to memorize the lines. "I don't think I've seen you before. Are you an outlander?"

Jigano Silversmith
the Sage
Provost of the Loreseekers Soul Shepherd / Outlander Advisor
Portal Guardian
Age: 29 | Height: 6'2" | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander
Level: 10 - Strg: 30 - Dext: 33 - Endr: 37 - Luck: 35
ISUMA - Mythical - Gryphon (venomous)
Played by: Cirago Offline
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Posts: 3,414
MP:
#10
He watched the gentle stag nuzzling at the young woman, fondly remembering his own first encounter with the shyly friendly creature. He continued to play his flute, more quietly now that Amalia had stopped singing, but enough to keep the luxere calm and interested. She treated it with such kindness and respect it was hard not to smile.

He let his song drift to an end on a light note as Amalia turned to him, and now he could return her smile. At least, he did briefly, before a questing nose in his silver hair had him laughing quietly and reaching up to scratch the warm, furry chin. "No, none for you this time, my friend," he protested as he was thoroughly whuffled. Satisfied that no more treats were forthcoming, the luxere stepped away, moving a few steps closer to the oasis to drink and paw at the snow to reveal grass beneath for it to nibble on.

"My dear, the pleasure was mine," he reassured her, blue eyes sparkling in the brightening light of morning. His smile dimmed at her sadness when she mentioned her grandmother, and he dipped his head in silent acknowledgment of a topic it seemed she would rather avoid. But her question gave him an opening and he nodded, his smile returning with a little wryness to it. "Yes. I arrived in Leafchange. It feels like a long time ago already... or sometimes, as if it were just yesterday. There's been so much to learn about this place, to try and find how and where I can fit into the fabric of life here..." he gave a slight shrug, tilting his head at her beseechingly.

"What advice would you have, for someone new to your world, Amalia?"
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Hand of the Queen / Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 12 - Strg: 34 - Dext: 34 - Endr: 35 - Luck: 34
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
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Posts: 1,924
MP:
#11

a m a l i a

The young nymph's smile is shy and fleeting, the unassuming pleasure and surprise of one who is unaccustomed to praise, unable to determine how to respond. She turns away from him quickly, a puzzled furrow still teasing her brow. Awkwardly she pulls at her dampening blanket, dark eyes fixed on the luminescent deer as Jigano speaks of his venture into her home, the inconsistency of time and finding a new home. How easily he seems to accept this change, being pulled from his world and into hers! Amalia doubts she could be so nonchalant, were the shift in the world to happen to her.

What advice does she have? "Be careful," she murmurs, now tracing a pattern in the blanket on which she sits. "Especially in Long Night." She looks up at him again, her dark eyes bright with curious interest. "I don't know what other places are like. Here..." She shrugs, helpless, unsure how to proceed. What advice does she have? How can she advise someone on her world, when to her it's the world, the only world she's ever known?

"What was your world like? Do... do you miss it?"

Jigano Silversmith
the Sage
Provost of the Loreseekers Soul Shepherd / Outlander Advisor
Portal Guardian
Age: 29 | Height: 6'2" | Race: Attuned x Abandoned | Nationality: Outlander
Level: 10 - Strg: 30 - Dext: 33 - Endr: 37 - Luck: 35
ISUMA - Mythical - Gryphon (venomous)
Played by: Cirago Offline
Change author:
Posts: 3,414
MP:
#12
He nodded at the admonition to be careful, hiding a wry smile. It was certainly his intention to not get into trouble! At least, nothing that he couldn't get himself out of. But the specification of Long Night had his expression falling into more solemn lines. He kept hearing warnings about it, but everything was so damnably vague it was hard to know just how bad it really was. Still, Amalia seemed less flighty than Sam, and now he had personal warnings from two native-born people. He really should start considering finding someplace to shelter besides his fox den...

Her question surprised a smile from the bard, and he tilted his head to the side as he turned his gaze to the luxere. "Miss it? Sometimes, I suppose... but I have been a wanderer and a bit of an adventurer all my adult life. Caido is new and exciting, still, and... it doesn't have the memories of those I have lost haunting it." He offered her a lopsided smile, making an effort to lighten the conversation by answering the first part of her question. "It was... bigger, there," he said, smile turning wry. "There was no barrier keeping anyone in. Not one made of force, at least. Politics could do so, and guards, and walls made by men... but if you were clever, or quick, or strong, you could usually find your way out of - or into - wherever you wanted to go." He nibbled his lip thoughtfully, looking around the dawn-gilded oasis and mentally comparing it to places he had known in the past. "The plants there are... bigger. Healthier. The animals, too. And there are many people who aren't human." He chuckled, giving a little shake of his head. "Most of my friends, in fact, weren't. Two legs, two eyes, a mouth, and a head... I think we all had that in common, at least. Isuma had four arms, though. It's a land of elves and dwarves and goblins as well as humans, and element-kin, and orcs and quite a bit in between. There are dangers - dangerous animals, brigands, monsters of all sizes... but usually only if you go out looking for trouble. There are small villages and large cities..." he trailed off, shifting as some of the dampness began to sink through his trouser leg. Blinking, he looked around at the warm light pouring like slow honey over the world as the sun crested the horizon. Realizing he'd been talking Amalia's ear off he gave her an apologetic smile.

"Ah... I'm sorry. I do tend to go on sometimes. Miss Amalia, would you let me help you pack up? Perhaps I can walk you back to the settlement, if you wouldn't mind the company?"
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Hand of the Queen / Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 12 - Strg: 34 - Dext: 34 - Endr: 35 - Luck: 34
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
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Posts: 1,924
MP:
#13

a m a l i a

"I am afraid you will not be able to wander away from here," the girl says darkly, shaking her head. "Nobody has left for three hundred years, since the Old Ones first built the barrier to keep the New Gods in." Their prison is far from a gilded cage, but the baker can see its necessity, though knowing what she knows now of the outside world she chafes against the constraints. How cruel it must be for an Outlander, accustomed to endless horizons! Sympathy wells in the girl's heart, though Jigano did not ask for it: he does not know, yet, what it is to be a caged thing. Sooner or later, he will.

But there is not time to dwell on such sadness, for as Jigano continues to spin his tale Amalia's eyes widen in curious wonder. "What is an elf?" she interjects, alto voice bright with interest. "What is it like in a large city? Are the Old Gods there? What is an Isuma, and why does it have four arms?" She rises in time with him, gathering up her things but still breathless, still waiting for the million answers this lorekeeper surely has. "Will you tell me more about where you come from?" Eager, anxious, she falls in step at his side, enjoying immensely the tall man's stories as they make their way back to the Settlement.



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