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Author Topic: Aurek's Egg-cellent Adventures [Chp. 1-3]  (Read 9738 times)

Multimedea

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Aurek's Egg-cellent Adventures [Chp. 1-3]
« on: March 14, 2009, 05:46:41 PM »

Hi, everyone! I've posted this at EQ.com and though I'd add it here too.

Critique Level 3 (for all stories)
PG
______________________________________________________________________


2009 MultiMedea

1 • Journey's Beginning

Well. The Great Egg never saw that coming.

After this immense press of time, that it should be her? I suppose it stands to reason; when our tribe was great in number and mighty there was no need. Now, we are no more than a pitiable handful. Not even an Eight of us survived the mountain’s fall. I wouldn’t have survived without a tribemate’s help. Yes, you, Two-Edge, who spits upon your Glider blood with the vilest of curses.  You shouldn’t fight it so, tribe brother. Your mother is of the mightiest of us and her magics burn as hotly through you as any other Gifted child. It is our nature, our way. Our blood will seek out its level, will sear us through and through til it is satisfied. When it burns, we dance among the spheres.

When it calls...we must answer.


~*~

“Aroree, old friend, need you grip the egg quite so? Granted, it’s not vulnerable to crushing. But the last time an elf maiden looked upon my treasure with such lust in her eye, I had a deuce of a time trying to get it back.”

Aroree exhaled a soft gasp. Her fingertips flew away from the small relic as if it burned her and the sudden action sent her floating backward from Egg’s touch. From his presence. But nothing, it seemed, could break the gaze of his ocean blue eyes on her. Strangely, she found she didn’t want that at all. Perhaps she had been too deeply immersed in the Egg’s...no, Aurek’s sphere. It happened sometimes back in the days of the Great Hall. An elf would sit in contemplation of its wonders and mysteries, carried along with Aurek’s powerful mind and his overwhelming desire to see, to know, all there was to know. Questing so far and so deeply one forgot to eat, to rest, to drink. Until one day you awoke tumbled upon the chilly marbled floor with Lord Winnowill’s even colder pale hand unkindly slapping you back to consciousness.

And a cold, stinging slap was exactly what she felt when she first locked eyes with her old, dear companion after so many thousands of turns of the seasons. A slap that rang within her and cried, Wake up! No more sleeping, the time is at hand. She didn’t know if she quite liked or even understood this new knowledge about him or herself. And she desperately needed a moment to herself, away from those all-encompassing eyes, to sort her feelings and half-formed longings.

~*~

“I’m sorry,” she whispered. She drifted over to a sun-speckled corner of his cheery stone cottage and fingered the flowered vines growing abundantly there..

Aurek let her go and turned his gaze back to his other guests. She needs time, he thought, knowing that for all her boundless enthusiasm for new experiences Aroree had never been one for contemplating the personal changes every being must go through from time to time. A failing of most of my people, he sadly mused.

But not all. He smiled on the incongruous sight of Two-Edge–Two Edge!–perched upon a marbled bench, sipping moss tea from a cup meant for delicate elfin fingers, not a burly trollish grip. The half-elf was ready to dance attendance on the slightest move of the dark elf maiden demurely seated at Aurek’s table, her own tea cup raised to berry-red lips. Venka, her name was. And if he wasn’t mistaken, with her lustrous golden eyes and shining blue-black tresses, she was of the Palace Master’s issue. But where’s Rayek’s powerful will had scoured with the strength of a desert sandstorm his daughter’s serene presence calmed and refreshed one with the gentleness of a rare desert rain. Oh how very different this meeting was from her brash, restless mother Kahvi’s visit!

Venka raised her gaze from contemplating her cup to looking directly at him.

“Aurek,” she said, “ your sudden smile looks to hold some amusing memory?”

“Oh, I was just thinking on how far the child’s road can travel from the parent’s journey.”

She grinned brightly herself and set down her cup, which Two-Edge promptly retrieved and refilled. “With clear insight you speak directly to the heart of my own mission. Have you any news of my mother’s whereabouts or of her future journeys? I know she travels with your tribemate Tyldak. I hoped that, perhaps, they had stopped to visit for a spell.”

“Indeed, they did. Not more than three turns of the season ago. At about leaf-fall time and left heading toward the Vastdeep. Your mother was very eager to fill her boodle chest with a bright, shiny prize for her tribe. But I think the treasure she left with will be a greater richness to them.”      

Venka silently contemplated the news as her fingertip tapped the fragile porcelain of her cup. “Three turns? Not a great length at all. Ah, we were right to come in this direction. Surely we’ll catch up to them before another two snowfalls!”

Aurek tried to follow Venka’s musings but was distracted by a frisson of chilling heat radiating along his right side. Aroree had rejoined the group and sat delicately folded on the chair next to his elbow. Two-Edge handed her a filled teacup across the table. “H-How did you decide to turn this way?” Aurek finally managed. “I’m a bit off the beaten path for casual drop-ins. And most humans would rather try to swim the shark-infested Sound than trek through the ruins of Blue Mountain’s haunted bones.”

“It was Timmain, mother of all, who took me aside at the start and told me my travels would be many and I should begin my journey here. That the stone of Blue Mountain would be my guidepost and my ‘map’ to the future. I know that ‘maps’ are picture-words that humans use to find their way. But I’m not quite sure I understand what it means to me or my companions.”

Aurek smiled ruefully. “Wise Timmain,” he chuckled. “She has the stars’ own knowledge of the way of things. And isn’t adverse to kicking one or two of them into the proper celestial course if it suits her needs. Or...the needs of others.”

His gaze slid back to Aroree’s pale golden form. Her graceful hands cupped one of the tea bowls as the fragrant, woodsy scent of the hot liquid steamed upward to curl around the gamine oval of her face. A wispy tendril of winter wheat hair had escaped from her neat hunter’s bun and she chased it back with a flick of a finger. Exquisite, he sighed to himself. How could I have never noticed in all that time. She is...exquisite.

“Exquisite, Egg.”

He startled at the echo of his own thoughts. Aroree raised the cup to eye level and repeated, “This is exquisite. Both the tea and the vessel. It almost doesn’t feel like stone but the eggshell of the great birds. I’ve never quite seen a blue of this color before. And such whimsy in the symbols. Does it...mean something, Egg?”

He pulled back into himself. “Ah, the tea I can claim credit for. I cultivated the mosses and bark myself. But the cups are, surprisingly, a human design. The seafarers on the coast get them in trade from a people far across the Vastdeep. The folk of that land form them from a fine clay called porcelain and the glaze baked into them is called Cathay Blue. It is exquisite for human work, still, the color is...but a wan reflection...of an elf maiden’s lustrous blue...”

Aurek’s voice trailed off as his eyes slowly, inevitably locked again with Aroree’s soft sapphire gaze. Can’t I complete a sentence in her presence without sounding like a tongue-tied fledgling? he fumed. This is absurd. We’ve known each other longer than I’ve known the very stone beneath my feet. Timmain, what have you gotten us into?

He mentally shook himself and brought himself back to Venka’s dilemma. “I may be of more use to you in the search for your mother. At least, the Egg of Six Spheres may be. Kahvi lives her life so close to the surface the traces of her passing should be simple to read in the Egg’s record. Do you wish to try?”

“Oh, yes!” Venka clapped eagerly. “Timmain said I should view the Great Egg, if I could. I’ve tried to turn the Great Scroll alone but the weight of such time got to be a bit too much for me and I needed Father’s help. Will you be my guide on this journey?”

“Yes, of course. That is my task. I will guide you all where you wish to go.” At a slight mental summons from him the Egg lifted from its perch on the plant stand and hovered over the center of the little gathering. Aurek looked around the table at his guests.

Two-Edge warily glanced at the glowing sphere with a shaggy, uplifted eyebrow then shook his head. “No, Father of Memory. There’s nothing in my past that I’m fond to review. I’ll rejoin you later.” The Master Smith rose from his seat and walked out into the afternoon sunshine.

Aroree’s shy, sad doe-eyed glance toward him nearly sundered his heart in two. “I-I would like to see dear, sweet friends again. If I could, Egg?”

“Of course, you can. And, please, call me Aurek, if you like?”

“Thank you. Aurek.” She quickly returned her gaze to the slowly spinning, swirling orb.

The sound of his true name spoken in her soft, trilling voice made him feel as if the word had never been spoken until this day. That it had never existed before this moment and would never be the same, dull, syllables again after. Ha, she needs more time? I need more time. A star’s time. What dark magics possess me, Mother Timman, that I should feel this way about her? That I should feel this deeply at all?

Aurek made a last, valiant effort to shut her bewitching influence away from himself and threw himself fully into contemplating the revolving Egg. Kahvi’s deeply mystic child–unlike her flighty mother–needed no drugging help to sink herself into the Egg’s subtle song. The elf maiden was already raptly following the swirling, tumbling cascade of images on the shell’s surface, her concentration pulled this way and that with trying to follow the whole of Abode’s story. He lightly skimmed the thoughts her last impressions of her mother and married those to his own remembrance of the brash Go-Back chieftess then let his powerful mind drift along the currents and eddies of Kahvi’s most-likely path in this world. When he picked up the traces of her and Tyldak that had no counterpart in his own living memory he gave Venka a subtle mental push down that stream of consciousness and she eagerly began gliding along the way.

That task completed, he turned his attentions to Aroree’s dreamily-rapt contemplation. This elf maiden, he knew, was well aware of how the Egg’s story shifted and swayed with both time’s passage and an observer’s view of it. Still, she would also need a subtle tweak to find what she sought quickly. Feeling both strangely reluctant and greedily eager to do so, he blended his thoughts with her most apparent ones. The image of a silver-haired wolfling with an elf’s eyes and a laughing heart surfaced in his consciousness. Oh, yes, he remembered, the starry-eyed trickster who was constant, loving companion to the wolf chief. They had brushed minds only once, briefly, in the Great Hall. He almost regretted the touch was not longer, deeper. The stargazer’s mind was so much more expansive than his tribemates. So much more willing to wonder what if? and why not? Aurek could see why Aroree would be infatuated with such quicksilver wit. He appreciated such himself.

He tried tracing her thoughts of the Wolfrider to follow the song’s path to him but found himself pulled/dragged/drifting through their last, blazing encounter with each other. A chilly night with Mother and Child Moons nestled low on the horizon, spilling their liquid silver bounty over all, edging everything in pale reflected starlight. Gilt strands and white whipping around thin, heated bodies wrapped completely around the other. Laughing and howling into the night breeze that buffeted them to and fro. A quick, jerking splash of hot seed between creamy thighs then the deep oblivion of complete sation.

He supposed that he should be embarrassed at interloping on such an intimate memory. But he wasn’t. Frankly, he wondered why his tribemate had settled for so little. Such quick, fleeting escapades reminded him uncharitably of his own rare, fleeting touches over time with particularly daring human maidens he’d meet during less rare visits to a human town or village. The ones who did dare to try to catch his eye were so...charmingly gauche but willing for his touch. Like chirping hatchlings greedy for any sweet morsel they could beg. He felt it was almost a cruelness not to satisfy their avid curiosity. But he felt little or nothing during such an encounter. What was such a vague, quick touch compared to the glories and perfect beauty of Time and Space? To the majestic turn of the wheel of the heavens? To Starsong and the sweet music of Everlasting Life? If he could show her these things he’d make certain she’d never settle for less than being bathed in pure starlight, than being blanketed in warm solar winds. She should be lulled by the chiming of celestial spheres and laid upon a bed of inky black space to show off her lustrous opal skin. The glory of a exploded nebula should pillow her golden, wild tresses.

And when he entered her she would blaze within and without with Life’s own light. Be filled to brimming with soulfire. Be truly completed by the mingling of his own living essence with hers. As his soul Recognized the match to his own...

A gasp echoed loudly throughout the entire cottage, snapping Aurek back to the here and now. He found himself nearly nosetip to nosetip with a shock-eyed and round-mouthed Aroree. From the corner of his eye he vaguely noted Venka leaping up from the table to chase after the erratically wobbling Egg floating out the door.

“I, ah, I...” he stuttered, at a loss at what to say. Aroree’s lips closed but her eyes remained widely open. She rose from the table slowly and Aurek followed in her wake.

“I-I hope you found what you were seeking, in the Egg, I mean...”

“I’m not certain, anymore, what I’m seeking.” The graceful elf maiden looked toward the doorway where a slightly confused Two-Edge and Venka were now entering. The dark maiden kept a tight grip on the wildly flickering and pulsing Egg that almost threatened to lift her off the ground. Two-Edge looked askance at first the Egg, then Aurek, then Aroree, and back again at the now behaving orb. He blew out a gusty sigh and leaned against the ornate doorsill, folding his arms across his barreled chest.

“If we mean to travel any longer today,” his deeply bass voice grumbled, “we should begin now. The sun is almost below the mountain peaks of Sun-Goes-Down. Which way shall we go, Maiden.”

Venka smiled wryly at the name the smith never failed to call her. Her lips then puckered into a small moue. “I’m not certain. I don’t recognize the landscape that I saw Mother and Tyldak in at all.”

“May I?” Aurek murmured and Venka cocked her head in acknowledgment as she shared her sphere vision with him.
 
“Yes,” he nodded. “I know of this land. It’s the same as the one where my tea service came from. Many days’ passage over the Vastdeep by ship. Perhaps with a strong bondbird and many islands to land at one could possibly fly there... No. Without the Palace, a ship–even a human ship–is the most practical way. We’ll rest here tonight and go to the seashore after sunsup and book passage on one of their vessels. I warn you now, it won’t be a comfortable trip but it will get us where we want to go.”

“We?” Venka asked, her jet black brow raised in question. Two-Edge merely snorted from his perch at the door. “I would not ask of you to be our actual guide. I know you have your own duties, Father of Memory.”

“Pish-posh, lass. This moldering pile of bones can take care of itself quite nicely. And I’ve been wanting to go a-questing myself lately. It seems the thing to do for all fashionable elves. There’s a chamber already made up below. You and...Aroree...should find it quite comfortable for a night’s stay.” Aroree looked at Aurek again when he mentioned her name in such a soft, reverent tone but he tried greatly to ignore her presence.

Venka handed the mutely glowing Egg to Aurek and said, “Now we are Four. Welcome to our fellowship, Aurek Egg-shaper. And I thank the High One for her wisdom in sending us to you. Good night.” Venka took Aroree by an arm and the two elf maidens descended to the chambers below, tightly lock-sending all the way down.

Aurek turned toward the open doorway and stared into the deepening shadows of nightfall. He felt a gruff yet familiar presence brush his mind and he opened himself to it.

**I know why I go. Wherever she leads I will follow. Whatever she needs I will do. Whoever threatens her I will destroy with glee. But you, Memory’s father...a night’s tumble and the matter is done?**

**Get some rest, tribe brother. We have quite a journey ahead of us.**


The smith nodded brusquely. “True,” he murmured. “‘Night.”

Aurek waited til the echo of Two-Edge’s footsteps faded then slowly floated out the door and up to the ornate portico’s roof. He folded his lanky legs beneath him and stared at Mother Moon’s glowing half-face with undisguised longing. Sometimes, he thought, if he could just rise and rise he could step upon its surface as easily as he stepped through his own doorsill. Even though he knew for fact through his sharing with Timmain that it was many, many, many, leagues away and then some again. That no Glider, no matter how talented, could ever reach it unaided. Still, it seemed such a clean, pristine place to be. No humans, no problems, no messy entanglements. No life. The High One had pulled his soul back into the worlds of the living as surely as Two-Edge had pulled his broken, shattered body back. And he owed them both beyond measure for his rescue.

But, High One, he laughed, did you have to weave a web of such sticky entanglements? To Venka Kinseeker I am to be guide and map to the wondrous, frightful journey that lies far ahead of her. To my dearest old friend Aroree–whose name now sings in my heart like a captured sparrow–I am to be Father of Memory in name and deed, raising up a lost tribe and its past glory. And to poor, tortured Two-Edge...my most daunting task, perhaps. To finish the healing the gentle Leetah’s searing touch began long ago.

He hopped down to the doorsill and entered his house–for the last time in many, many turns of the seasons–determined he would complete the last task beyond Timmain’s wildest expectations. It was the least he could do for his mad sister’s only son.

« Last Edit: March 24, 2012, 08:37:59 AM by Multimedea »
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The sorrow of the elves is that
The things they love must die...
(The Tree of swords and jewels waits for me)
Time withers all about them,
Yet the elves it passes by...
(When shall I hang my own upon the Tree?)

Multimedea

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Re: Aurek's Egg-cellent Adventures [Chp. 1-3]
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2009, 05:54:05 PM »


~*~

The morning began with clear, pinkening skies over Sun-Comes-Up and raucous bird chatter rising from the forest floor at the mountain’s foot. An auspicious beginning as any, Aurek thought as he set out steaming plates and platters for their morning meal. He didn’t mind at all rising before the dawn to cook a hearty repast for his charges. Better to not leave anything in the cottage that could spoil and he rarely slept much at all anyway. He supposed on some level he never truly slept, his mind always in tune with the Egg’s endless story.

As he set the last of the dishes on the table he could hear soft but steady movement from below. Two-Edge, he guessed, from the substantial thumps that vibrated upward through the stone. Though Aurek knew the smith could be light and quick on his feet when he chose, the packing noises must be in deference to the maidens. A wake-up call. Aurek’s own filled pack, hunting blade,  and traveling cloak lay propped beside the door. One by one, his visitors ascended from the chambers below, twitching noses and growling bellies testifying to their readiness to eat.

“Oh,” Venka sighed with a swooning noise, “is that baked boar flanks I smell? With poached eggs? And creamed cheese? Do I dream a spirit dream?”

“If you dream,” Aroree swooned in unison, “we share a delicious vision. Hot wheatcakes...beesweet....berry jam! I haven’t tasted that since leaving the Sun Village.”

Aurek chuckled at the delirious pair as they made their way to the table. “You two behave as if you haven’t had a hot meal in a High One’s age.”

“Nearly,” Venka laughed. “Well, that’s not true. We do cook for ourselves out on the trail. Simple traveler’s fare. But I’ve lived with the Wolfriders most of my life. If meat doesn’t come steaming raw from the game’s flank they won’t touch it. And a cook fire is almost an unknown concept to them.”

Aroree nodded. “That’s one thing I never quite got used to in my time with them. I often longed for the great feast days of Tenspan’s Hall. Orolee made the most succulent rolled eel balls and Aranerne’s fresh oakbark bread was splendid. The Wolfriders’ fare was filling enough but, sometimes, it was...”

“...Bland.” Aurek placed a heaping dish in front of first Two-Edge, then Venka, and finally Aroree. He leaned his long form over the table as he did so, laying the dish gently in front of her. But his fingertips lingered on the plate’s edge as his eyes locked with hers and his whispered words were meant for her ears alone. “Without spice or heat or savor. A pity your delicate appetites couldn’t be fulfilled by a Wolfrider dish. Glider delights are always best. You should taste them again.”

Aroree’s pink lips formed a softly rounded ‘oh’ of surprise as her pale cheeks flooded with color. Aurek pulled back quickly and sat heavily in his chair, shocked as well at his own uncharacteristic forwardness. He thought he’d done so well in the wee hours of the night to place the raging fire of his Recognized state in a proper, contained space inside himself. That the space where Aroree now lived in his soul was merely a well-banked collection of embers and coals, steadily and softly warming throughout the night. Capable of being stoked higher when it was necessary. It galled him now to admit it was more akin to a wildly leaping forest blaze, capable of singeing him to a crisp without a moment’s notice. And that the spark that fed the tinder was the mere mention of his erstwhile Wolfrider rival. That he could have any competition for her attentions touched an old, dark, coiled place deep inside his spirit that he never knew existed before yesterday. And he was not happy with the knowledge.

Both Two-Edge and Venka silently noted the exchange as they quietly devoured the meal before it grew cold. If they sent between themselves about this current complication, they didn’t mention it.

“Aurek?” Venka asked as only a slight distraction. “How long will it take us to reach a...sea-port?” She stumbled over the word, still amazed at the human idea of traveling over the waters in a small wooden craft.

The Glider reluctantly turned his attention away from his tribemate. “Oh, even with a gentle ride for your traveling stag we should reach the coast before mid-day. And perhaps a few days’ in town to gain passage, depending on when a ship is leaving. The best port to leave from will be Ironforge. It’ll be busy enough to not cause us undue attention but it’s not so major a town that some officious higher-up will have the power to detain us. Humans know of us and aren’t apt to kill us on sight any more, but we really don’t want to attract too much of their notice if we can help it.”

“True,” Two-Edge murmured as he collected the now empty plates. “I have no particular fear of them but we are four while they are many. Still, a well-forged hammer can crack a human’s brain nut as well as a troll’s.” His gaze slid to his own pack in the collection at the door and the heavy, tooled sledge that rested upright near it.

“Actually, I’m counting on your awesome reputation among them to keep us out of most of their mischief. Human mothers have sent their babes to bed quaking with tales of the dread Master Smith for thousands of years,” Aurek slyly acknowledged. Two-Edge’s equally sly and feral grin set Venka’s lips in a thin line.

“I wonder if the two of you wouldn’t welcome such an encounter. Perhaps Timmain wasn’t as wise as she thought teaming two such old cronies together.”

Aroree’s tinkling, answering delight to Venka’s jest left Aurek’s heart fluttering against his ribcage. He could swear to it. And even the smith colored slightly under the stern, golden gaze of his ‘maiden’. Tribe brother, we are both prey well and truly caught in the raptor’s claws. With little chance of escape.

To cover his embarrassment Two-Edge huffed, “Daylight’s burning away, you know. Can’t we get this menagerie on the road before another turning of the Daystar?” He stumped over to the collected packs and picked up the lot with two sweeps of his hands.

Aurek’s eyes swept his cozy cottage for the last time. “A few last tasks, my friend, and then we leave.” He moved to each corner of the room, carefully picking up all the potted and vining plants scattered about. He then walked out past the doorstep and just as carefully placed each pot upon a shallow outcropping of tumbled stone.  With a moment’s fierce concentration, he changed the pots to pulverized soil and the outcrop to a delicate fillagree of latticework and stone roses. With another twitch of his upraised hand he lifted a nearly full water cistern from the porch and let it hover over the plants. Small holes then speckled the bottom third of the pot, draining the liquid to a gentle watering of the transplanted garden.

Aurek set the restored pot back to its place and turned to his friends. “Who knows?” he said. “By the time I return this whole mountainside might become a lush garden.” Both Aroree and Venka grinned widely at the touching gesture. But the elf maidens started as he reached up and began uncoiling what they thought was a boiled leather collar from around his neck. What the Glider really held in his hands was a goodly-sized black snake with sharp yellow eyes that flickered coolly over the group.

“Ah, little friend,” he cooed at the snake. “Don’t you want to stay here and watch over the garden? Where you can have all the plump, juicy fursoft cradlebabies you can catch and laze in the sun all day? It could be dangerous where I go.” The snake merely lapped a few coils around Aurek’s wrist and squeezed the elf tighter.

“Very well,” he shrugged as he slipped the serpent into the Egg’s belt pouch. “But don’t hiss at me if some fussy human dowager takes a fancy to you and wants to turn you into a belt.”

Two-Edge walked Venka’s saddled stag up to the maiden and she rubbed his velvety muzzle with her hand. “Quickstep!” she sighed with delight. “Are you ready to go again, my friend?” His impatient snort was all the answer she needed. With a light, elfin leap she landed in his saddle then reached down to give the smith a hand up to mount behind her. Two-Edge settled himself with a grumbly pout and turned back to Aurek.

“Today? Do you think, Great-Grandfather of Memory?”

“Just one last thing.” Aurek’s eyes closed to bright blue slits as his arms rose to shoulder height and the very air around the group grew heavy with ponderous intent. First pebbles, then rocks, then boulders larger than a full-grown troll began dancing and skittering along the ground. With a large whoosh of air the entire mass of moving stone swooped into the opening of the cottage’s doorframe. A blinding flash of light–then an ornate slab with an intricate depiction of the Great Egg surrounded by stylized wings filled the frame.

The Master Smith snorted, unimpressed. “Fancy-do elfin frippery. Can this day get any worse?”

Aurek slipped on his cloak and shouldered his traveling pack. “Granted, it’s not nearly so grand as the work of a troll master smith. But seeing as I don’t have four moons to close my door and the banging and clattering of hammers and chisels only makes my head ache, I thought I’d do it the old-fashioned way this time.”
Aroree hovered over to Venka and lock-sent, **Do you think it will be like this for the whole journey?**

**It wouldn’t surprise me a bit,** she returned. The two maidens shared a look and a thought that didn’t need sending. Men!

“Hello! Hello! Hellllllooo!”

A fluttering, iridescent mass of green and red streaked into the clearing from the forest and circled Aurek’s head twice before landing squarely atop it. The smith took one look at the gossamer wings and the large liquid-eyed stare of the sprite and smacked his head with one hand while moaning, “No-no-please-no...” The preserver, for its part, completely ignored Two-Edge and started grooming Aurek’s golden mop into some semblance of order with its long red claws.

“FlyHigh Eggshaper miss Hollyhopper? Longtime and far and far Hollyhopper flew lookings for rosynose berrysweets for juiciness. No find anywhere growing here now. Sorry.” The preserver buried its face in a strand of his hair in sadness.

“That’s all right, little friend. I don’t have time right now to ferment another batch anyway. Hollyhopper, these are my friends and, as you can all see, this is...” He pulled the tenacious sprite from a too-tight grip of his hair, “...Hollyhopper.”

Two-Edge refused to even look in the creature’s direction as Hollyhopper gasped and ahhed over its new acquisitions. “Oooooh! Much more softpretty highthings for Hollyhopper! High-Digdig...SharpGold Highthing...GoldenSadFlyHigh. The sprite took a closer look at Aroree then spun around the hovering Glider faster than the eye could catch. It stopped at her shoulder and clasped its tiny body to her pale cheek.

“GoldenFlyHigh be sad no more. Be happy again! FlyHigh Cradlebaby come soon-soon, yes?”

Aroree’s fingertip gave the preserver’s delicate wingtip a caress as her eyes shyly glanced toward Aurek’s strong, lean body hovering beside hers. “Perhaps,” she said softy, but the look she gave him as her gaze roamed him from top to toe was anything but soft. He felt at that moment that he could rise all the way to Mother Moon, no matter what Timmain said.

“Is good, is good! Muchly-much more Highthings for Hollyhopper to take care of. Will make soft wrapstuff rocky cradle for FlyHighBaby for softsleep. Not let fly too high, too far at first. And beesweets and mother’s milk everyday for strongest FlyHighBaby ever! You see, you see! Hollyhopper take gooood care of FlyHighBaby-To-Come... The preserver’s screechy sing-song tapered off as it swiftly followed Aroree’s hovering trail down the mountainside as she set out on point for the party. Only after the pair were out of sight and hearing did the smith remove his thick fingers from stoppering his ears.

He lightly clasped Venka by the waist as Quickstep started to pick his way down the mountain trail. **Puckernuts. I wondered how things could get worse. Do you see, Eggshaper, what you have condemned us to? A flipping Preserver for a nursemaid til the child grows a beard as long as Father Picknose’s. I should have left you in that hole. I knew it would come to a bad end someday to be kind,** he sent. A small grin creased Venka’s features as she clucked the stag to a faster pace.

Aurek laughed with joy as he soared into the brightening sky, pursuing Aroree with as much ardor as Hollyhopper. “Don’t be such an old maggoty sourpuss, tribe brother!” he called behind him. “If a chattering sprite is the worst travail to befall us on this journey, what do we have to fear?”
« Last Edit: March 24, 2012, 09:02:37 AM by Multimedea »
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The sorrow of the elves is that
The things they love must die...
(The Tree of swords and jewels waits for me)
Time withers all about them,
Yet the elves it passes by...
(When shall I hang my own upon the Tree?)

Multimedea

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Re: Aurek's Egg-cellent Adventures [Chp. 1-3]
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2009, 01:19:58 AM »

2 • The Trouble With Pery

“I fear, Sir Pery, that we have worn out our welcome at this establishment.”

Pery began to slowly, painfully, slough away the mud and muck from his person as he and his companion sat hip-deep in the middens behind The Three Troll Inn. He cast a gimlet eye at his equally muck-laden manservant and growled, “What was your first clue, Harry?”

A harsh, shrieking voice harangued the sloppy pair from the inn’s back door. “Good riddance to the both of ye! I run a clean, respectable place here and I’ll not be having ye befouling my custom with yer vile, heathen rantings!”

Pery turned his eye to the proprietress of the dirty, ramshackle hovel trying to pass itself off as an ‘inn’. She was a squat, sour-faced harridan wearing a non-too-clean pinafore and she was flanked by her hulking bully-boy sons on either side. The whole lot of them could easily be the models for the three trolls painted garishly on the inn’s sign, he thought unkindly.

He slowly and majestically–as majestically as one could manage while dripping muddy dung–rose to his feet and addressed the woman in a clear, rolling orator’s voice. The gathering crowd around the inn’s courtyard was merely a bonus audience.

“Madam. And I use the title in its most pejorative sense,” he began, “You wrong both me and my boon companion. Cleanliness, like goodness, kindness, womanliness, and hospitality, are in the discriminating eye of the beholder. Why just the day before yesterday I soaked myself in yonder mountain stream for a good ten minutes. Probably risking good health, nay, my very life in the process! Harry got wet, too.”

“Oh, I mean yer screeching and yowling of vile and blasphemous things on yon string box.” She nodded to one of her boys who then tossed out a long, waterproof case toward Pery’s head. Fortunately, the thug’s aim was as bad as his features and the instrument missed the musician by a mile and landed in a nearby bush. His twin thug must have had a bit more practice because his toss landed both of the travelers’ packs squarely in the middle of the muck. A quick snatch from Harry kept them from sinking into the mire.

The innkeeper clucked her tongue and shook a crooked finger at Pery. “In my own common room ye were singing and speeching of demon things like flying ships and the forest folk and wagons that roll along the ground on their own. I’ll not have it! May Threksh’t forgive me for letting a minstrel under my roof and not strike my house down with holy skyfire. Off with ye!” She made the sign of the Evil Eye to ward off any lingering wicked presence and slammed the door in their faces. The amused onlookers, seeing the show was over for the day, moved on about their business.

Harry picked up their packs and, having no other clean spot on his body,  piled them on top of his head. “That went well,” he murmured.

“Oh, shut up.” Pery reached over and gave his tall companion a hand up to his feet. He then carefully picked up his case from the bush and slung it over his shoulder, the only clean spot on his body.

“I mean,” Harry went on, “getting tossed out of three inns in as nearly as many days. That’s a record, even for us.”

“I mean, really, shut up.” Pery set off down the alleyway at a quick, determined pace, meaning to find a laundress at the riverbank who worked on the cheap. Harry quickly jogged after him to catch up. Townsfolk they passed by in the lane gave the pair a wide berth and swiftly covered their noses with any handy clothing.

“Maybe if you changed your repertoire, sir?” Harry continued, undaunted. “Toss in some unrequited young love or chronicle the unspeakably heroic deeds of some local constable or clan chief. That sort of thing always plays well in the back-country. It might pay a bit more, too. The few coppers in my purse are getting lonely for companionship.”

“Another word,” Pery growled, “and I’m going to get lonely for companionship. Real quick.” He took a few more determined steps then slowed and eventually stopped in the middle of the road. Harry, as always, stopped where his master stopped.
 
“Harry, my good man, a true artist can’t just play to the masses because that’s what they want,” Pery tried to explain with a frustrated sigh. “He should always attempt to lift himself and his listeners with his gift. He should never settle for the coarse, the mundane, the popular, the...” He shook out a heavy sleeve and a clump of mud fell to the cobblestones with a wet splat.

“...the muck.”

Harry nodded sagely, with the pack straps jangling before his face, having heard the same lament many times before. “Come, my lord, I think Medea the laundress  will take our custom on account. With, perhaps, a few couplets written in her honor?”

“Ode to an Ironforge Washerwoman...?” Pery shrugged, continuing toward the river. “Doesn’t have quite a gallant ring to it, does it? What I need, my good fellow, is a Muse. A genuine, bonafide, otherworldly source of beautiful inspiration to dedicate my heart’s and life’s blood to. For that, I would suffer any indignity, overcome all petty, earthly concerns. I would follow her to the ends of this world and back merely to bask in her presence. Do you think that’s possible in one man’s lifetime, Harry?”

“To find a source worthy of such complete devotion. In Ironforge?” He gave Pery a peculiarly opaque look. “Perhaps. But I think it more likely the forest folk will come galloping through yonder town gate in all their splendor first.”

~*~

Aurek thought it best they approach the town gate by foot in their hooded traveling cloaks. To the casual eye they should look like a man, his wife and their child. Two-Edge agreed to stay inside the forest’s edge holding Quickstep’s bridle until nightfall as the others arranged private stabling for Venka’s unusual mount and accommodations for themselves. Though he had rare use for the human idea of money, Aurek never feared he wouldn’t have enough small gold disks to cover their arrangements. That was one of the advantages of being a rockshaper who felt the presence of any given mineral or ore deposit in his area at any given time.

**It would be best**, he sent as they walked through the gates to the town square, **if we three dressed as much like the humans as possible. They have peculiar ideas about what’s appropriate for the women of their kind to wear and we don’t want their scrutiny. We’re unusual enough to them as is. I know it will be odd for one of the Chosen to wear a gown, Aroree. But, will you do it?**

**If it aids in the success of our goal. Besides,**
she sighed, **There’s no reason to be Chosen any longer.**

Aurek stopped in the midst of the square, utterly shocked. He grasped Aroree’s hand in his own. **As long as you breathe, as long as there is a Glider that needs protection and succor in this alien world Voll’s Choice stands. And I stand beside you, Chosen One.**

Aroree gazed back at Aurek’s stunned features and squeezed his hand hard in her grasp. Venka saw her friend’s face light from within, not from Recognition’s rosy glow, but with the sure knowledge of purpose once lost now regained.

**Tribe Brother, I am shield to you and spear. Your belly will never gnaw with hunger, your fledgelings will not fear the night. The cold and your enemies will not broach you. I fly in your service. This I have sworn to My Lord.** Aroree’s eyes teared with the remembrance of saying those very words when she was made Chosen so long, long ago. Long before there ever was a Blue Mountain. Venka clasped her other hand in support.

**My friend,** the dark maiden sent, **I can go fetch the clothes. I know a bit of their language. Enough to get by, I think.**

**No. Their dialect has changed somewhat, but I can still speak it. Besides, the coins are with me.**

**Good luck with your task,**
Aurek sent, reluctant to see her turn toward the river as he and Venka traveled farther into the town’s center. **We shall meet by this fountain before the sun reaches that tower toward the sea.**

**She’ll be fine, Eggshaper,**
Venka assured him. **Humans like to adore her.**

**That’s what I’m afraid of, my dear.**


~*~

Pery thought a few rhymed lines about how Medea’s generous bosom gleamed in the light  as she leaned over her washboard should have earned him full bathing privileges plus a saucy peck on the cheek but all it bought him was a hard bar of lye soap and a rough towel as the laundress laid out their now-clean clothes in the sun for drying. When he tried to gain a smooch on account she pushed away the bard and told him to ‘dry off’ as she hurried over to the front of the shop to service another customer. Pery slid down deeper into the tub to soak and sulk for a bit.

“How may I help you, my lady?” he overheard Medea say.

< I was told your shop was the place to come to find simple, good clothing for hard travel. May I see your wares? >

“Oh, of course, milady. This way.”

Pery tried to whip around in the tiny tub and slid into the depths of the soapy water. He broke to the surface gasping and spitting out bubbles. He clawed the wash water away from his sight, determined to catch a glimpse of the visitor to Medea’s shop. That voice, he thought. That beautiful, heavenly voice. I’ve never heard the like. How can it be human? He quickly splashed out of the basin and wrapped one of Medea’s linen orders around himself. He couldn’t imagine meeting the owner of such a voice in the altogether, but meet her he must.

< I’m looking for three sturdy dresses to fit myself, > the voice continued from farther along in the shop. < Plus, three to fit a younger, but well-developed girl about half my size. Also, some men’s clothes...a few tunics, a doublet, and leggings for someone my height .>

“I have the very things right here, milady. Very little wear on them at all...”

Pery dodged behind some stacked packing crates and peered around their corner at Medea’s newest customer. She was covered from head to toe in a light travel cloak from which only the bare curve of a pale cheek and one delicate, outstretched hand appeared . A hand with only four fingers.

< These will do quite well. >

“And will you be wanting shortclothes and dainties to go along with them?”

The hooded head gracefully cocked to one side in question as a wispy tendril of pale golden hair spilled from one side of the opening.

“Your unmentionables, milady?” Medea gestured toward her own quite generous ‘unmentionables’.

< Oh...yes. I suppose I must. If you could have everything bundled into a pack, I shall take them with me. > The pale, opalescent hand counted out five fat gold pieces from a pouch and handed them to Medea. < I do hope that’s enough? > the voice questioned with a slight, ringing trill.

“Aye, milady. That and more than,” Medea sighed at the unexpected windfall in her hands. “But I won’t be having you to trudge through town with such a burden. I’ll hire a boy to deliver them to your lodgings this evening.”

< Well, that could be a problem. I don’t know where my lodgings are... >

“Tut, tut,” Medea said. “If you have not decided yet, the only place to go is the Inn of Spirit Joy on High Horse Lane. The innkeep, Darkhan, is an auld cuss, but a good and fair man for all that. He will treat your kind with great respect, My Lady.”

< You know of my kind? >

“Aye, that I do, Lady. When last one of your folk came to Ironforge it was my auld grannie’s time, over a hundred years back. But some of us do not forget. And would never think to raise a hand against you.”

< Thank you, Medea. I shall take your excellent advice, if the matter has not been decided already. But we will all need a least one change of clothes now. >

“I’ll make up a package for you right away.”

Medea hustled toward the back of the shop with a bundle of clothes in hand, searching for packing paper and twine. She almost tripped over Pery on the way.

“What are you about,” she scolded, “lurking back here like a auld uncle in his winding sheet? That’s Mistress Kathleen’s tablecloth?! You’ll pay for the new cleaning, minstrel, mark me!”

“Oh, hush, Medea,” Pery whispered, still distracted by the unearthly vision standing in the laundress’ front shop. “Is that–” he began. “Is she...can it be true?” he wondered in awe.

“Yes, yes, and yes. Did not your big ears overhear me speaking of my grannie’s time? Well, it was my very own father’s mother who was helped in her time of dire need by one of the forest folk. For that boon I will always come to their aid if I’m needed. Had she asked I’d have gladly carried the whole pack on my head to her, without a single coin exchanged.”

“Well, I guess it’s a good thing for you she didn’t ask. You can hire ten boys and their fathers with what she paid you.”

“Off with ya, bard. And out of my good sheets.” Medea continued on her task. Pery, for his part still entranced, wandered out to the shop’s front and to his vision.

“My Lady?”

The hood looked up from a woolen scarf laying on a table and for the first time in his life Pery looked an elf fully in the face.

He didn’t have the words to describe what he saw. Large jeweled sapphire eyes framed in an eggshell oval of a face. Wisps of white-gold lustrous silk tumbled inside the deep green hood but threatened to escape to sunshine and freedom whenever given the chance. Lips of pale seashell pink merely hinted at bursting into an amused laugh at his stunned appearance.

“Are you all so, so...beautiful.” A wandering minstrel was he and he didn’t have the words.      

< I’ve always thought so. Some more so than others. >

And he was right about the voice. Otherworldly crystal chimes that tinkled and sparkled throughout him.

“Milady, your package.”

At that moment Pery could have happily throttled Medea, as much as he loved her saucy ways. The vision, the elf, took her bundle in hand. Then, she drifted out the door. He would swear to it before Threksh’t’s Celestial Court.

“I don’t like that look in your eye, bard. Have you been in your cups again?”

Harry entered the shop at her ending words. “Usually when he’s in his cups,” the manservant said, “you can hear him from a square away. What are we to do about lodgings til the ship come in, sir? Sir? ...Sir!?”

Pery stood in the middle of the clothes shop with his hair dripping soap suds and draped in only a table linen. He should have been a comical figure but he stood as straightly and elegantly as any courtly lord draped in ermine and velvets.

“We shall lodge at the Inn of Spirit Joy this evening, Harry.”

Both Harry and Medea almost tripped over themselves with objections.

“The last time we stayed there, the innkeep threatened us with a hatchet–”

“You can’t afford yer laundry bill. How can ye aff–”

Pery merely spoke his next words softly but with an unignorable air of command. “Have your boy bring our belongings there this evening. Come, Harry, I need to be dressed.” He strode back into the rear of the shop.

“Yes, my lord.”

Harry sketched a courtly bow of dismissal to Medea and followed behind Pery.

~*~

« Last Edit: March 24, 2012, 09:19:27 AM by Multimedea »
Logged
The sorrow of the elves is that
The things they love must die...
(The Tree of swords and jewels waits for me)
Time withers all about them,
Yet the elves it passes by...
(When shall I hang my own upon the Tree?)

Multimedea

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Re: Aurek's Egg-cellent Adventures [Chp. 1-3]
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2009, 01:40:58 AM »

2 • The Trouble With Pery (part 2)


Aroree returned with her package to the fountain in the square just as the sun began to inch along toward the top of the tower spiral. As of yet there was no sign of her companions so she sat near the water’s edge and let her hand trail in the cool liquid.

What an unusual human, she thought. Tall, as all their kind seemed to be, with shiny black hair almost as rich in color as Venka’s. Quirky, expressive brows that topped lively eyes with an almost elfin tilt at the corners. Their color was indeterminate, first flashing the icy blue of a mountain stream at the edges then shading to the cool mossy greens and browns of a forest glade. That nose...a nose only another human could truly love. And from what she could see from under the sheet, he had a lean strength of body that an elf could almost envy. A lovely, musical voice, too, for a human. Altogether unusual. Not so intriguing as her little star friend Skywise...or the ancient, worldly pull of Aurek’s grace that tugged at her even now...still, unusual...

Hollyhopper crawled out of its warm nest deep inside Aroree’s hood and rested on her shoulder. “Highthing, too much thinky-think! Wet bigthing with big nose not so special. What we do about FlyHighBaby? Cradlebabies so much fun! They bounce-bounce when fly too far and hit–”

“Hush, tiny friend,” Aroree whispered as she brushed the Preserver back into its hiding place. “I think the answer’s approaching now.” She rose from her seat as she watched a hooded Aurek and Venka turn the corner of one shop followed by a squat, rolling bear of a human. Aurek and the man were deep in an animated conversation with much arm-waving and guffawing from the human’s side. A hearty backslap over one of the man’s laughs sent Aurek staggering for a step or two. When the Glider corrected his near-fall by hovering for a moment then setting both feet down on the ground, the human’s eyes bulged slightly. Shaking off the sight, the man shook Aurek’s hand vigorously then set off down a lane in another direction.

**Aroree!** both elves sent happily, glad to see their companion returned from her task whole. They rushed to her side near the fountain and told her their news.
**Aurek was brilliant,” Venka beamed. **We now have passage for all of us on a ship that docked today. It leaves tomorrow on the morning tide.**

Aurek demurred a bit. **I’m not really certain how good a barterer I am. We have passage with no questions asked. But I think we’re now partial owners in a shipload of...coffee beans. Whatever those are. Oh, we also have beds for the night.**

Aroree’s lips pursed slightly. **At the Inn of Spirit Joy, perchance?**

**Are you now clairvoyant, Aroree? Or does Recognition truly open all my thoughts to you?** His eyes gave her face a searching but wondrous look.

She colored a bit at his open regard, reminded of all the matters that stood unresolved between them. **No. It’s just that the place came highly recommended by another.  And of that, I have a change of clothes for us all and the rest will be delivered to the inn this evening.**

**Good,** Venka nodded. **I will let the Master Smith know how matters stand.** The dark maiden’s golden eyes closed to slits as her powerful mind sought out the half-elf in his distant lair. After a moment, she returned to her companions.

**He says he’ll meet us again after nightfall. But he won’t be staying in the inn. He’s made other arrangements and has a few tasks of his own to complete.**

Aurek shrugged, too familiar with the contrariness of his tribemate to question further. **I suppose it will just be us, maidens. Off to the humans’ den and may the High Ones watch over us.** He turned and began walking toward their night’s lodging. Venka dawdled behind as Aroree picked up her bundle and began to follow.

**There was more that happened when you arranged for the clothes, wasn’t there, Aroree?**

Aroree studied her sharp-eyed but gentle friend, glad again to be part of her company. **I’ll tell you as we get dressed.**

~*~

“I never mean to second guess you on any of your decisions, sir,” Harry hedged as the newly-scrubbed pair wandered into the common room of the Inn of Spirit Joy. “But, is this really one of your better ideas?”

Pery gave his manservant a small sneer as they squeezed into the last two spots on a bench near the back. “No, you never mean to. Yet, you always seem to manage to.” Only an hour after dusk and it was nearly standing room only in Ironforge’s most popular inn. Good drink, better food, and lively talk always made it the place to be for the small port town. With its reputation preceding it, Pery had made certain it was their first stop in town. To Harry’s chagrin it nearly became their last stop. But, to be fair to his master, Pery couldn’t have known the comely bar wench he dedicated most of the night’s songs to had a sullen, hot-tempered fellow paying court to her as well. Or that the loutish, heckling fellow was a lieutenant in the town guard.

Making up a ditty on the spot about how the entire town guard didn’t have enough manhood between them to piddle out a candle flame, and the free-for-all it started, that Harry squarely laid at Pery’s feet. He remembered the innkeep’s face had almost turned purple with all the screaming.

“You! You dare! Out! Out!! OUT!!!”

Kind of like now, he sighed.

Pery looked upward, then up some more, at the tall, dark-skinned hulking man with the gleaming bald skull and the golden jeweled rings that festooned one of his ears as he stood over the pair. The other tavern patrons who shared their bench began prudently moving on to other spots. The minstrel merely propped one leg up on the now spacious seat and gleamed a smile at the innkeep.

“Master Darkhan! Hail and well met again, my good fellow! Surely you won’t leave a bard high and dry before he performs his heart out for all your worthy patrons. A round of your best house ale for all my good friends here before the show starts.”

Harry couldn’t be certain, but he thought perhaps the man did turn a shade of purple at such ballsyness. He started to make a mental check of what weapons he had to hand on his person, should it come to that.
“You...You...do you remember what I said I’d do if you darkened my doorstep again!” Darkhan pulled a meat cleaver from the back of his innkeeper’s apron and brandished it before Pery’s nose. He hadn’t quite cleaned it after its last task.

Pery looked down the length of his long nose at the steady drip-drip-drip from the edge of the blade. “Come now, Darkhan, old man, I don’t think that rabbit skinner could quite manage the job. Surely you’d need the giant Scimitar of King Klublai to finish it all. Cleanly.”Guffaws and snickers greeted the bard’s jest. The light of challenge gleamed even brighter in Pery’s eyes than his smile and all Harry could do was moan over the inevitability of an eventful life with his master. But he never took his eyes away from the cleaver once.

“One song, Darkhan,” Pery bargained-pleaded. “One song to have this miserable lot hollering and banging the boards for as much ale and mead as they can swallow. What do you say?”

Choruses of, “Yea, Darkhan!” and “Let the minstrel sing!” bombarded the innkeep from all corners and Pery knew he had them before he even sang a note. All could be forgiven when a good show was offered. But Darkhan’s pride couldn’t quite let him admit that even with chants of “Per-y! Per-y!” ringing in his bejeweled ears.

All at once the chanting and hooting died away to a whisper as all eyes in the common room turned as one toward the stairs leading to the inn proper. Pery’s back was to the stairs and he wasn’t at all thrilled to have his thunder stolen by some new arrival of a pompous lording or lady of questionable morals. As if those weren’t a copper a dozen around these parts, he huffed to himself.

< Yes, I too, would like to hear the musician play. >

Pery felt his body swivel slowly around on the bench, through no conscious volition of his mind. It was her, his Elfin Lady. She descended the stairway as if from on high. A vision in a soft rose gown with wildflowers picked out in golden thread. Her pale silken tresses were now twisted in heavy coils on either side of her head, and as lovely as that looked, he thought it rather sad. For some reason he very much wanted to see her ears. She was grace and beauty personified to him, from the light-as-air tread of her footstep on the stair to the way her slim hand lightly gripped the bannister. He thought for as long as he lived he would never see anything quite as special as she.

Until his eye was caught by what she gripped with her other fair hand. It rested gently on the sleeve of the most...elegant...creature he ever imagined could exist. Tall, regal, with golden tan skin and burnished hair that streamed down his shoulders and floated on the air as he moved. He was dressed rather plainly in a white linen tunic with a russet doublet but that meant nothing to a being that carried his breeding about him as a king does his state robes. His eyes, as deeply blue as the Vastdeep, took in every movement, every hushed aside in the common room with an unblinking, unafraid regard. Pery felt he’d just been swept over by the gaze of a hunting sea hawk and had been judged too unworthy to be swooped down upon and tasted. For a moment he was thrust back into the depths of childhood and the crushing pain of being the one who was always overlooked. And that he could not abide for a minute.

“My lady,” he sang, leaping lightly to his feet. “We met yet again. I knew we would; the stars foretold it. If it is music you desire, let me be your humble servant and tune player. Harry, my case, please?”

Harry reached beneath the hardwood bench and slid out the dark instrument case from its hiding place. After unsnapping the lid, he carefully picked up an antique four-stringed [pipa] from inside. The pale blond wood of its face glowed warmly in the low firelight of the room. Its ancient grooves and depths showing the loving touch and attention of many generations of master craftsmen and musicians. With an almost reverent bow Harry handed the lute to Pery, who cradled it for a moment like a proud papa greeting his favored child.

“Sir, what are you about?” Harry whispered during the exchange, not liking or understanding the sudden, sharp change in his master. Pery had told him about meeting with the elf and now, seeing her and her impressive companion in the flesh, he could easily understand how stunned his master was. But there was more to the matter now, an undercurrent he didn’t like at all. Pery waved off his concern and strode to the middle of the room, all eyes upon him now even with the inn’s most unusual guests in attendance.

“What shall it be, gentles?” Pery asked he tucked the pipa in the crook of his right arm. “Sentimental tales of young love lost and found again? Or rousing adventures of gallant armies marching off to fight for lord and country? Perhaps a bawdy little sea-shanty or two?  Don’t be shy; whatever your desire is, I can fulfil it.”

“One for the ladies, first, Pery!” a voice from the back cried out.
“Yes,” he nodded slowly as he glanced over to the booth the fair elf and her haughty lord now occupied alone. “One for the ladies.” His fingers began to pluck the strings.

And what a one! He played and sang as a man possessed with strong drink or herb. The bawdier or more ludicrous the song the more boisterous he grew and the more the crowd loved him for it and pelted the open case at Harry’s feet with coins. For his part, the manservant kept quietly to himself and observed Pery observing any slight clue he could garner of his effect on the otherworldly pair in the corner of the inn. Harry did not like where the situation was heading at all but resigned himself to being there whenever his master toppled down from this latest high.

Even the rowdiest of the inn’s patrons needed a short rest from song after song, so Pery broke off and strode boldly over to the elves’ table, full of the power of his own popularity. “My lady, may I be so bold as to ask to join you?”

Aroree smiled at the preening human. < Yes, I think you may. Please, sit. And your friend as well? > Pery signaled Harry to come join him.

“Tell me, my lady, did you enjoy the performance?” Pery eyed her response avidly.

< I love all kinds and forms of music. And human music is always so...lively. Skipping from here to there with rarely a pause between. >

< True, > her companion added. < So different from elf music. At least Glider tunes. > Pery noted distractedly that his voice was as effortlessly musical as hers. But deeper and more sonorous, like the chimes of a great bell on a far off temple hilltop. His eyes, too were deep, unblinking, unfathomable. It was as though the elf could see, had seen, every page turned in the minstrel’s life story. And was not impressed with the tale.

“How so different, sir?” Pery stiffly asked. He was not yet ready to gift the creature with a ‘my lord’, though he quietly feared the title was more deserving to the elf than to himself.

The corners of the elf’s full lips raised ever so slightly with a touch of amusement. < Perhaps not so different in tone or theme, > he explained. < More rare and subtle. More complex in meaning and nuance. Not easily grasped by the masses. >
Pery felt himself color hotly with the subtle sting. “If the elfin ways are that superior, sir, perhaps you could lesson us mere humans by a song of your own people?” Pery handed over the pipa across the table to the elf, who took it into his long-fingered grip with due care.

“That is, if you believe we can grasp it.” Pery said. “Do you play, sir?”

The elf looked up from his light fingering of the lute’s frets and a keen, challenging gleam lit his eyes as well. < It depends upon the game, bard, > he answered. < By-the-by, my name is Aurek. I believe you’ve already met Aroree earlier today. And you, of course, are Pery, with your good friend Harry always at your side.  >

Pery heard the maiden’s name as he would a whispered wind through the treetops. Ah-roa-reee. As lovely as she herself was. He also noted the strange, trilled accent Aurek placed on his name. Pa-reee.

Aurek gave a nod and stood with the instrument in hand. < I’ve had the night to watch your fingering, Pery. I believe I can manage this. > A hushed silence fell over the room as the elfin stranger strode to its center. The firelight of the great hearth picked out random strands of burnished gold in his hair as his head bent toward the pipa and he plucked each string to find its tuning. Pery noticed a gracefully curved eartip poking through the tresses and sat back in his chair heavily. He had no clue why he’d challenged a being so alien to himself and had no idea where this night’s work would end for them all. But he did know with sudden clarity and certainty his life could never be the same again.

Aurek raised his steady, all-seeing gaze to the expectant crowd, each one fearfully fascinated over what his next words would be.

< Many of you have wondered, > he began slowly, quietly, < what we are. Where could we have come from. How can we be so unlike you. I can never answer these questions for you in one night. Or, all the nights your children’s children’s children have to spend. But I can tell you a tale of one of our kind. She who was, is, and ever will be the beginning to us in this world. And, perhaps someday, to be the end... > His long-fingered impossible hand began to pluck a plaintive refrain against the pipa and Pery’s pulse began thumping in time to it.

< Timmain, Shape-Shifter, your people are exiles
Wandering aimless, your people are lost.
Hated and hunted, with fear their companion
Chilled by the windstorm and pierced by the frost.

Timmain, Self-Shaper, your people are hungry
Far from their homeland they founder unfed.
Here in this new land their magics work twisted
As often to conjure up stones as their bread.
>

With only two stanzas sung in Aurek’s aching lament Pery could feel the dread bite of a pitiless never-ending winter as his own belly twisted empty and unfulfilled. Was this the harsh greeting this world had meted out to the elven people?

< Timmain, Shape-Changer, your people are dying
You cannot harden your heart to their cry.
See how the snow and their enemies slay them
Timmain, O Timmain, can you watch them die?
>

And Pery’s own heart cried out over the needless slaughter, the appalling waste. What could save them in such a hateful land?

< Timmain, Change-Maker, your shape is a new one
Sharp-toothed and keen-nosed, at one with the storm.
Hunter to track down the life for your people
Finding the shelter to keep your folk warm.

Timmain, Self-Changer, is gone through the springtime
Summer fast follows and Fall runs behind.
She runs with the wolfpack, accepts them as kindred
And makes her own world now away from elfkind.
>

Was that their answer? he wondered. To adapt to a world that would not bend for them? And in the change, to lose the essence of oneself?

< Timmain, the Wolf-Shaped, has sent them a leader
Wolf-blooded elfchild, young Timmorn, her pride.
Duty fulfilled she returns to the hunters
Wild heart within her no longer denied!
>++

« Last Edit: March 17, 2009, 01:45:38 AM by Multimedea »
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The sorrow of the elves is that
The things they love must die...
(The Tree of swords and jewels waits for me)
Time withers all about them,
Yet the elves it passes by...
(When shall I hang my own upon the Tree?)

Multimedea

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Re: Aurek's Egg-cellent Adventures [Chp. 1-3]
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2009, 01:48:12 AM »

2 • The Trouble With Pery (part 3)

Aurek’s strong lyrical voice ended the ballad on a triumphant note that left most of the inn’s patrons weepy-eyed but jubilant. Pery also felt the song’s last hopeful refrain of how the elves survived by blending themselves with this alien world. But his ears were too keen to miss the unsung question in Aurek’s tone: was the gain worth the cost?

It was Harry, though, who turned to Aroree with bright swimming eyes. “I’m so sorry, my lady Aroree. I never knew.” Pery nodded, too, with liquid gaze.

She clasped both of their hands. < It’s all right. It wasn’t your story to know. Or your fault. Now, no more sad eyes. Aurek rejoins us. >

On the heels of her words Aurek stepped to the table and took in the scene before him with a single, unblinking look. He again handed back the instrument with great care to not Pery but Harry and said, < I think this night has taught me more than I could you, young bard. Excuse me, everyone, but I think I now understand why our friend Venka chose to stay in our room. It’s a bit too close in here. I think I’ll step outside into the air for a bit. > He turned and left the room.

Aroree’s eyes followed her companion intensely then she rose from the table. < Excuse me, please. >

Outside, in the moonshadows of the inn’s roof Aurek rose upward to its sloping ledge and sat upon it. Aroree bunched up her clinging skirts in one arm and floated up to join him.

“What’s truly wrong, my friend?” she asked quietly. “I doubt Mother Timmain’s song can have affected you so harshly.”

Aurek felt his hands ball into tight fists. “What’s wrong? What’s wrong is, in this Recognition I don’t recognize myself any longer. I don’t mean to frighten you, my friend, but when I saw those humans touching your hands...do you know what I wanted to do to them? I wanted to float them out above the Vastdeep and drop them there.”

“Oh, Aurek, that’s silly. They’re like children to us.”

“No, Aroree, my dear, they are no longer infants. Your long sleep has blinded you to all the many changes they have gone through. And their greatest danger to us is no longer a hardened club or a burning torch. If only it were that simple again.”

“If there are dangers we will all face them, together. If my time with the Wolfriders taught me nothing else, it taught me that wisdom.”

“Yes, that is the wisest way. But I would never have you face any danger at all, Chosen one, if I had my way. And how foolish is that? Aroree, forgive me, but do you remember the day Voll died?”

The Glider maiden’s face stiffened with sharply remembered pain as tears welled in her eyes. She would never forget the slippery limpness of her beloved Lord’s body as his blood dripped through her fingers and steamed in dark red pools against bright, cold snow.

“I remember it, too,” Aurek sighed. “But not quite as you do. I remember its slow, inevitable building in the Egg’s shell, a piece here, an image there, til the whole of the horrid picture nearly broke my connection to the Six Spheres. I screamed and screamed inside myself as the wolf chief and my demented sister fought to the death right beneath my feet. Because I wanted either one of them to win through and change the story  being written before my eyes. They both had the power to change what I could not, to lead Voll through a safer path to his dream. But even that was not so horrid as the fall of the mountain.”

Aroree clasped his chilled hand to her cheek and relived his terror with him.

“For days upon days my broken, bleeding body lay beneath the crushed and mangled dreams of our people. And I was too much the coward to retrieve it without Timmain’s guidance. But there was one dream that could not be crushed or warped or twisted by Winnowill’s madness. One dream that I held to tightly as my solace and as a promise to my true Lord. That Glider children would one day laugh and play and soar in the home of our ancestors.”

He turned his palm toward her cheek and caressed the smoothness of it. “I want Voll to know his dream didn’t die in vain, didn’t die at all. I want his blessing on our child, created in the Palace of our forebears. Kahvi’s trail is plain in the Egg and we shall catch up to her and Tyldak most likely before Child Moon outraces her mother for a second time. Do you think we can wait until that time, until we reach the Palace? And then let our Lord know his dream lives on, in us?”

“Oh, yes! I want that, too. More than I ever knew til this moment.”

“Then it’s settled. Until that time. Because after that, I don’t believe any power in this world can keep me from protecting you and our child from any threat that I see to you, Chosen one or not.”

“Is that why you said those things, to get away from the humans? When you know Venka’s up in our rooms letting out her dresses.”

“No, I said that because he’s a pest. But a nice pest.”

Aroree’s tinkling laughter eased a great weight from Aurek’s soul and he’d never felt closer in spirit to her than this moment. “Thank you, my friend, for understanding,” he laughed as he hugged her to him.

The moment passed. And another and another moment after that as he drank in the touch and the smell and the taste of her on the night breeze and she gripped his solid, living presence to herself and dreamed of much more than her dead Lord’s wishes. They slowly, reluctantly broke apart and Aroree lightly hopped up to the second-floor balcony that led to their rooms.

**Until then,  Aurek.**

The Glider leaned back against the roof tiles and dreamed a few dreams of his own.

**Halloo up there, Eggshaper! Get your head out of the moonmist and come down here. We’ve got business to discuss.**

“Two-Edge, my demented tribe brother, you do know how to kill a mood.” Aurek floated down to the cobblestones before the smith.

“I know how to kill much more than that. Which is something you should be putting your cloudheaded mind to. That human boy looks to pluck your sweet  dreamberry before you’ve tasted it.”

“This has a point that’s leading somewhere?”

“Funny you should say that, because it does indeed. But first, the maiden’s fawn has been settled in a stable near the wharf with a knock-kneed stablehand who’s been given very explicit instruction to treat it like royalty or I’ll know the reason why. She should have no trouble retrieving it in the morning. Next, I hear the prices for ground coffee are going through the ceiling on the wharves of Cathay so you should have no problem turning a handsome profit on your brief foray into human consumerism. Also I hear there’s a bit of trouble with pirates off the southern coast of Junsland but we shouldn’t be sailing anywhere near there. Still, that does neatly bring me to my last and sharpest point...”

From the back of his tunic the master smith drew out a long, dark object and held it before Aurek. On closer inspection his sharp eyes picked out that it was a hawkshead-hilted sword encased in an ebony scabbard tooled with stylized wings and a writhing black serpent. Aurek took the scabbard in one hand and pulled out the blade with the other. The length of bright metal gleamed like a silver sliver from Mother Moon in the night. Its balance was perfect in his hand.

Two-Edge grumbled, “The humans call it ‘steel’ now. That mouse-sticker you’ve got is good for skinning a treewee but not for much else. And where we’re going a good length of hard steel can be more useful than all the fancy elf powers combined. And more respected. You do remember how to use one of those, don’t you, Memory’s father?”

Aurek pushed the blade back into its sheath and closed his eyes to the sight of it. “You well know I do, tribe brother. And I thank the master smith for his Gift and his kindness. Though I hope by the High Ones neither will be needed on our quest.”

Two-Edge turned back toward the edge of town. “Hoping is all well and good,” he called over his shoulder. “But put your trust and your thrust into steel.”

“Don’t be late for the ship tomorrow,” Aurek reminded him. He slid the scabbard behind his belt.

**I’ve never been late for anything in my life. Then again, what is time to a Timeless One?**

Aurek floated silently up to the balcony, his thoughts on his strangely contrary kin. For one so skilled in the arts of maiming and death, for being the spawn of the Black Snake herself, Aurek was certain Two-Edge had never killed another thinking creature in all his long, long life.
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The sorrow of the elves is that
The things they love must die...
(The Tree of swords and jewels waits for me)
Time withers all about them,
Yet the elves it passes by...
(When shall I hang my own upon the Tree?)

Paper Ghost

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Re: Aurek's Egg-cellent Adventures [Chp. 1-3]
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2010, 07:27:15 PM »

Fabulous! Do you have any plans to continue this?
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Multimedea

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Re: Aurek's Egg-cellent Adventures [Chp. 1-3]
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2010, 11:22:30 AM »

Fabulous! Do you have any plans to continue this?

Yep, definitely! Can't give specifics on when or exactly how, but I haven't forgotten the continuing adventures of one of my favorite elves. :) And thank you very much for the compliment!
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The sorrow of the elves is that
The things they love must die...
(The Tree of swords and jewels waits for me)
Time withers all about them,
Yet the elves it passes by...
(When shall I hang my own upon the Tree?)

Multimedea

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Re: Aurek's Egg-cellent Adventures [Chp. 1-3]
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2010, 09:47:59 PM »

3 • Stormtossed! (part 1)



As Harry sat upon his sea chest that sat upon the pier which sat beside the galleon ship Seabird he came to realize he’d spent a great deal of his life waiting. That he should now be waiting for Pery to make an appearance at the boat was no surprise; it was, after all, his function to wait upon his mercurial master’s every want and need. He also came to notice he waited for great things and small: he waited for bath waters to heat, for important packages and missives to arrive, for an irate husband or jealous mistress to finally get lucky with a knife throw, for clean laundry to come when promised, for their idyll in this far-off land to inevitably end.

And, very deeply inside himself, he occasionally waited for acknowledgment of the waiting. One might pity him for his steadfast devotion to the whims and timing of others, but he also knew there was an art to it. A knack. Not everyone had the talent, the patience of spirit to properly wait for what was to come. His master certainly did not. So not everyone could be rewarded for their devotion by observing the remarkable sight of a beautifully petite young girl in a forest green velvet gown leading a bridled and saddled reindeer with daggered horns up to the boarding plank of the sea-going ship.

As she and her most unusual cargo approached closer he realized the dark-skinned beauty couldn’t possibly be a child. Her large golden eyes and pouty berry lips would be the envy of any high-born lady and the grace of her every movement marked her unmistakably as another of the Forest-born Folk. He rose to his feet and gave a small bow.

“You must be the lady Venka,” he said without question.

Venka and Quickstep stopped at the edge of the gangway and the elfin maiden cocked her head slightly to the side as she remembered Aroree’s sendings of last night. < Ah! You...are...Hahree? >

Though her speech was more hesitant, less smooth than Aroree’s and Aurek’s, he noticed her voice was as beautifully melodic. Somewhere between birdsong and summer breezes over sand. He wondered if he pulled his flute from his baggage now  would he ever be able to match her effortless music.

“Yes, my lady, I’m Harry, your faithful servant. May I help you at all?” He gestured toward the stag and the bundle it carried.

She shook her head in way that he believed meant no and the black fall of hair behind her veils shimmered with the slight shake. Her mesmerizing eyes opened wider in question. < You go on ship? Paree too? >

“Well, that’s the plan.” He looked off toward the end of the pier where the wooden dock met the awakening Ironforge,. He still saw no sign of his master. When Harry last spied him before daybreak the minstrel had grabbed a handful of coins from the lute case and told him to meet him at the docks. That he had old debts to repay first.

That was nearly three hours ago and Harry hadn’t a clue where to begin searching for his wayward master. All he could do was trust in Pery’s innate ability to be where he said he’d be and do what he promised to do. But that never made the waiting a moment easier.

Venka noted the tightening around the human’s mouth and his large brown eyes and was reminded of how her dear friend Zhantee once worried so about absent ones. With her free hand she patted his arm.

< Your friend he come for you. You see. We be on boat all together. >

“Just wait til the Father of Memory hears about that! He won’t know whether to squawk or fly around in a tizzy.”

The maiden turned at the voice. “Two-Edge!” she cried in her own language. “I thought you might be late.”

“Never for you, Maiden.”

Harry gawked at the burly, imposing creature stumping toward them and began making a quick readjustment on the marvels of waiting for whatever comes. Never in his wildest imagining could he have envisioned anyone like Two-Edge. Though he had grown up with the tales and legends of the Master Smith as every child had. The sharp-eyed troll-elf greeted Venka with all the courtesy he himself had and spoke to her in the rapid birdsong of the elven speech. But the smith’s voice was more like a giant hawk capable of swooping down on a helpless human and rubbed against him as sandpaper grading off a top layer of skin. Edging closer to the collected baggage, Harry seriously hoped the smith would have no reason to regard him further.

As quick as a striking snake, the smith’s keen, feral gaze caught Harry in mid-step.
< Oh, no, little mump. No backing away now. You’re as much a piece of this gaudy menagerie as that twittering friend of yours. And may prove to be just as entertaining. The annoyance factor for the Eggshaper alone is worth the weight of the two of you. And speaking of his FlyHighness... >

To Harry’s relief the smith’s gaze released him and turned to the lightly-stepping pair approaching on the dock. The lady and her lord, dressed much as they were last evening and speaking softly, laughingly in their own tongue. The elf lord caught sight of the grouping and led the lady to it.

“Ah, tribe brother, you made it,” Aurek said. “And on time, as well. What a pleasant surprise.”

“Like surprises, do you?” Two-Edge smirked. “Just wait.”

Harry could in no way follow the rapid, chattering song of their voices. But when the golden-haired elf’s eyes widened at first catching sight of him and his baggage then rolled skyward with an exasperated sigh, he figured Aurek wasn’t exactly thrilled about being traveling companions.

“They’re worse than cats,” Aurek groaned. “Play with them once and they follow you everywhere.”

Aroree tsked, “Be kind. We all must fly whichever way the winds blow us in this world. If our courses run together for a spell, let’s wish for balmy breezes and thermal highs to ease and speed us on our way.”

“Again your wise words have eased my own way, tribemate.” Aurek took one of her hands in his. “So be it. If their presence pleases you then it pleases me.”

Two-Edge looked on the cozy scene as he took Quickstep’s reins in hand and started up the gangway. “I may be ill. Crazy, moonmisted, addlepated elf. Next she’ll have him inviting the human mumps to the birthing. You’d never catch me acting so fawn-eyed.”

Venka nodded sagely as she accompanied him up the ramp. “Of course not, master smith. Your steadfast eventemperedness is legendary.”

Aurek cast another frustrated glance at Harry, who was desperately trying to keep one of the ship’s hands from loading the bags piled at his feet. “I suppose it can’t be helped, High Ones protect us,” he said. “Come, Aroree. I don’t want to miss the sight of Two-Edge’s first impression on the crew of this vessel.” The elfin pair followed their companions up the gangplank as the Seabird’s human sailors gawked and ahhed over their newest passengers.

“Come on with ye, son,” Aldar, the ship’s first mate said to Harry. “Are ye coming aboard or aren’t ye? She’ll be setting sail in a tick.”

“Please, sir,” Harry pleaded without budging. “Just a moment or two more. Surely you can spare that?” He looked off again toward the end of the dock. He couldn’t imagine that Pery wouldn’t keep his word. Still, anything could have happened...

Just as a ship’s hand began lifting the gangplank a rickety mule cart started trudging up to the pier. On the driver’s side a slightly disheveled Medea clasped the mule’s reins with one hand as she held a red-faced Pery around the neck with the other arm and kissed him repeatedly.

Harry handed up the sea chest and the bags to the crew, his sudden grin threatening to split his face in half. “Now we can shove off, sir.”

“Oh, you must be very careful, my dearest minstrel,” Medea gasped between pecks. “Truly, ye are a bard and Threksh’t’s favored but anything can happen on the wide seas.”

Pery slipped from her grasp and from the cart seat to the ground. “No fears, Pet,” he laughed. “I’ve yet to meet the jellyfish or squid I couldn’t best in a fair fight. Though octopi are another story. They fight dirty.”

Medea slid to the ground as well and looked up at him with sad but steady eyes. “I know ye think me naught but a bit of silly fluff and nowhere near as learned as ye. Yet there are things the spirit kens that no amount of book learning can teach. And my heart knows that something dread and dark awaits ye. Just remember, this world is great and wide and unknowable and we are all so very small in it.”

Pery caressed her upraised chin with a finger. “You are wiser than your years, Medea girl, and I hear you. Now, dry those eyes and give us a smile and know that someday I’ll come back through here. After all, you’re my Ironforge Muse...where would my music be without you?”

“Sir?” Harry diffidently interrupted as he handed Pery his prized pipa case. “It’s time.”

Pery slung the case over his shoulder. “Good man! Sorry for keeping you waiting. But, you know how it goes sometimes.”

Harry climbed aboard the galleon. Oh, yes. Do I know...

Medea threw one last hug around the minstrel’s neck. “I won’t hold ye to coming back,” she sighed. “Just get where yer going to safe and well. And may Threksh’t keep ye and yer good Harry. Oh, no! He did find us after all!”

Pery glanced over the washerwoman’s shoulder and saw a lathered horse with an even harder panting rider galloping full speed toward them. Both rider and mount slid to a stop on the damp planks and the older but still spry townsman leaped down from his saddle. His face was a thundercloud that threatened to rain down hard on all present.

“You...you foul villain!” he yelled at Pery as he shook his horse whip in the minstrel’s face. “Haven’t ye besmirched my daughter enough today? Release her this instant I say!

“Oh, Poppa,” Medea said with an exasperated pout. “Ye’re the one who’s embarrassing everyone. Ye sound like some bad ancient scribe. Pery and me are naught but good friends.”

Pery did release her from his arms and turned toward the furious father. “Good Master Nowth! Never would I do anything to mar your daughter’s fine name in this town. Indeed, I only tried to enhance it. Surely even you must admit her most luminous assets are worthy of a song...each!”

Medea’s head turned with an embarrassed but pleased smirk. Her father’s face swelled a furious red as he reached for Pery with one fist as he raised his whip in the other, meaning to teach the cheeky bard a lesson in humility. Pery finally remembered the better part of valor and turned to run toward the boat.

“Sir, enough of your playing!” Harry huffed as he held on to the ship’s lines with one hand and held out the other to grab his master. “The boat’s under sail already.”

A bit of a tug-of-war ensued as Harry pulled on one end and Master Nowth on the other with Pery stretched in the middle. Inevitably the ship’s momentum gave Harry the advantage and he and Pery made a tumbling flip onto the Seabird’s deck as the vessel quickly pulled away from the docks in the busy harbor.

Aurek looked on the silly scene with a jaundice eye, wondering ‘what more can you expect from humans?’ while Aroree and Venka applauded Harry’s skillful catch and even the crew on deck laughed and kidded the pair about their acrobatics. Pery grinned from ear to ear with the adulation.

“Ah, Harry my man, always there with a helping hand. Despite its charms, am I ever glad to be rid of Ironforge. I feel lighter already for...”  Pery’s smug words petered off as a horrified look slowly overcame his face. Harry feared his master had suffered some injury until the bard began frantically searching the deck around his feet.

“It’s not here! It’s gone!!!” Pery wailed, ashen-faced.

Harry truly began to grow frightened then, having never once seen his master come close to tears about anything that didn’t involve music. “Sir...?” he asked. “What’s wrong?”

In answer, Pery swung slowly toward the swiftly retreating docks of Ironforge where a frantic, tearful Medea was pleading with her equally outraged father to not toss a dark leather case into the churning waters of the busy harbor.

“Two thousand years, Harry,” Pery brokenly gasped. “Before my father’s father’s father’s time it was the pride, the jewel of my house. How could I have been such a great fool to bring it? And now lose it, like this?” His hands grasped the ship railing hard and his head slumped between his defeated shoulders in deep shame.

Aurek looked on the scene again, at the ashen-faced young human who couldn’t be more horrified if his own child was about to be tossed to the waves. “High Ones,” he muttered, “fools seem to be in great supply today.” And his feet left the deck of the Seabird.

Quick as a wink, and in full view of the entirety of Ironforge’s bustling sea harbor, Aurek’s lean body wove and dived through a floating forest of upright ships’ masts, billowing sails and entangled riggings, dazzling the crowds with his own aerial acrobatics. Before either Nowth or Medea could give astonished gasps at the impossible sight Aurek hovered before the washerwoman’s father and plucked the case from his nerveless fingers.

< I am sorry, > Aurek explained. < And I know he brings these things upon himself. But it does belong to him and watching him mourn its loss for the next moon aboard ship will be utterly unbearable. So, if you’ll excuse me, I have a boat to catch. > With a flip backwards, Aurek was again hurtling toward the rapidly shrinking Seabird with the precious pipa case securely in hand, and leaving behind another legend of the forest folk that would be told around hearthfires for the next hundred years.

“Oh, Poppa,” Medea sighed with great unshed tears standing in her large brown eyes. “It be just like the story Grannie told of how one of the Folk swooped down and saved ye from the burning fire when ye were a wee babe. A miracle it was, she said. And to think they have chosen my own bard to watch over...”

Nowth’s mouth rose in a lopsided grin and he hugged his child tightly to his side. “Aye, my lass, it is a miracle at that.”

Father and daughter watched the ship until it was the merest white speck, and then, it disappeared over the clear blue horizon.

~*~

Less than two weeks out from the coast of  Iceholt, Aurek the Immortal was convinced he was dying. Slowly. With each cresting salty spray and rolling stormy-blue surge he could sense his very lifeforce slipping away upon the ever-moving waters. He could feel his soft inner organs slosh against the bony cage of his chest in near-perfect rhythm with the slap of foamy waves against the Seabird’s stout hull. He could not think, could not hear, could barely stumble to the nearby water cask to wet his parched lips and throat. To only quickly return to a conveniently placed wooden bucket when even that small sustenance wouldn’t stay down. His existence was reduced to the cramped, dark ball he’d curled himself into in the tiny, airless cabin he shared with Two-Edge.

The human crew of the ship called his malaise, the dark magics that had laid him low, sea-sickness. And after the novelty of seeing the stunning creature who’d dazzled the Ironforge docks huddled into a shivering moaning heap, they tsked- tsked his sad condition and basically ignored him after that.

His dear friends Venka and Aroree, with near infinite patience, tried their gentle best to relieve his suffering, though the two elves themselves had little experience with such lingering illness. Neither maiden possessed a healer’s touch so Aurek, reluctantly but resolutely, steered the two toward the ship’s deck where the maidens quickly became favorites of the besotted crew and found their own ways to while away the voyage’s time.

His not-so-dear kinsmate Two-Edge, when not prowling the ship’s lower holds at night, would perch upon his own bunk and laugh uproariously at the Eggshaper’s tragic predicament.

“This happens every single time,” he mocked. “You’d think you would remember that, Memory’s Father. Why you ever step foot on a ship at all is beyond me.”

Aurek weakly tossed a limp arm over his eyes to block out even the wan light from the cabin’s one small port hole. “You think,” he gasped, “...if I had...bondbird...I’d put up...with this?”

“Ah, if wishes were wings, the whole world would fly. Better than you right now, I suspect.”

“Oh, go away, Two-Edge, if you don’t choose to help me.” Aurek slowly rolled toward the wooden wall and covered his head with a pillow.

The smith looked utterly startled and vulnerable for just a moment. Then he features settled into their usual mocking leer. “Oh, we’re all beyond help, elf. You’d do well to remember that, too. Where do you expect me to go? We’re on a boat in the middle of nowhere. And I’m no fish-shaper, like those web-fingered fools in Crest Point.”

“You can go and soak your fat head for all I care,” Aurek mumbled under his pillow.

Hollyhopper nodded from its perch above the elf’s bunk. “Yeah! Go soak fat dig-dig head Now!”
Two-Edge laughed and hopped down to the cabin floor. “No, I think I’ll stop by the galley first. You’re looking a bit peaked, Eggshaper. You need to fatten up and stuff yourself. I believe today’s menu is eggs freshly scrambled served with raw fish roe with a bowl of hot, runny porridge. Yum!” His mocking laughter followed him out the cabin door.

Aurek groaned and clutched his belly tighter.

Hollyhopper fluttered down to land on his pillow and patted the pale hand that clung to it. “Poor Eggshaper Highthing,” it sighed. “You go in wrapstuff now? You feel much better. You will, you will!” The sprite was the only one who had stayed with him through his entire ordeal so Aurek felt a special sense of obligation toward it.

“Sorry, little friend, I know you mean well, but I cannot.” Yes, he knew a sailing journey from Iceholt to Cathay was generally free of care. But he couldn’t bear the idea of leaving his charges unprotected should anything unfortunate happen. He could never awaken and remove himself from wrapstuff’s timeless sleep in time to be any use in an emergency. So he accepted as his fate to lay there in his dim, airless cabin and suffer and endure.

There was one visitor who brought a slight ray of hope to Aurek’s currently hopeless existence. Pery the minstrel had slipped down to his cabin one night after a boisterous evening of entertaining the ship’s crew with every bawdy shanty in his repertoire. The deck lads had repaid his tuning with gifts of grog and liquor from their own preciously hoarded stores, leaving the bard with a full wine sack and dangerously listing 20 degrees to starboard. Somehow he’d managed to stumble to Aurek’s door and offer what medicinal assistance he could.

“Here,” he said, thrusting the skin in front of the elf’s wan face. “Take a sip–or three–of this. Guaranteed to cure what ails you.” Mission completed, Pery slowly slid to his knees and dropped his head heavily onto the bunk’s covering.

Aurek uncorked the stopper and took a cautious sniff. The liquid held a sweet, smoky smell and the elf finally felt the first stirrings of an actual hunger that had been denied to him for weeks. He took a sip and felt the liquor burn a hot yet fulfilling trail down his throat. < What is this? > he managed to cough out.

“Rum, or, something I think they called it,” Pery murmured facedown into the sheets.

Aurek took a larger swallow and the liquid landed in his belly satisfactorily, warming him to his toes and fingertips within. < Mmm, sweet and hot, > he nodded as he sat up and leaned his head against the wooden wall. < Like cooked sugar. >

“I never really thanked you, Aurek,” Pery admitted, his face still turned away. “I could never go home again without it. I think it might actually mean more to my family than I do.”

Aurek drank some more as he finally began feeling actually good on this trip. < No mere object can mean more than kin, no matter how revered. >

“Oh, you don’t know my family. Or the things they revere.”

Aurek snorted loudly, almost rudely, at that. His huge, sharp eyes rolled upward toward the low oak ceiling of the cabin and his voice took on a muttering, sing-song chant. Part bird chatter, part sibilant snake’s hiss to Pery’s still-sensitive ears. He didn’t think he was so far gone into drink that he was now hearing everything muddled, so he replied with a incisive, “...Huh?”

< I said, ‘It’s as I always thought. Humans are fools.’  >

Pery chuckled. “I won’t completely deny that! Still, maybe it takes a fool to win her from you.”

< Who? > Aurek wondered, beginning to feel a bit muzzy-headed himself. < Ah, Aroree, you mean. You can try, I suppose, young fool. She might even let you. >

“I warn you, I mean for her to be my Muse. To inspire me, to raise my drab, mundane works to their highest peak. What’s say we make a fair trade, you and I: Kiti-Ping for Aroree. I’ve never met a creature so worthy, so beautiful. Why are you all so beautiful, Aurek? The lady Venka. Aroree my love...” Pery raised his head from the bed and stared bleary-eyed at Aurek.

“...You,” Pery whispered. “And even the master smith has his rough grace. I asked her once but she didn’t say. Why are you so wondrous to my eyes?”   

Aurek gazed down at him. The elf’s blue eyes took on an otherworldly luster that hurt Pery to see.< “How can I answer that, as well? In all my days, and they are many, I’ve never understood why your kind reacts to us so. Either with utter adoration or implacable hatred. Yet, your own differences are not all so unbearable to our eyes, child. > He ran his long-fingered hand through the tousled waves of the bard’s dark hair. Pery’s eyelids drooped as his head came to rest against Aurek’s chest.

“Yes, I’m a prince among men. But, I won’t give up,” Pery murmured sleepily against him. The bard began to hum a slow, sweet lament as he drifted off into a deep, alcoholic rest.

“Little foolish one, I would never expect you to,” Aurek whispered with elvish sibilants into the darkness as he finished off the wine skin.

Hours later, Aurek heard a gentle tap at the door and Pery’s servant Harry ducked his head into the cabin.

“Ah, there he is. I’ve looked high and low for hours.” Harry entered the cabin quietly and picked up his softly snoring master in his arms with a grunt.

“I beg forgiveness for the intrusion, my lord. But sometimes, when he’s in his cups he becomes...unpredictable. Not that he ever really is predictable.”

Aurek muzzily roused himself a bit, missing the warmth that had lain against his side for half the night. < Nothing to forgive. Just see him to a good rest. >

“Aye, I will. For as long as it lasts.” Harry glanced at the empty skin. “Though, when he wakes he just might regret the night’s indulgences.”

< One more thing, Harry, > Aurek asked before the pair slipped out the door. <  Who is Kiti-Ping? >

Harry looked surprised for a moment then smirked from the side of his mouth. “Why, Lady Kiti-Ping is Sir Pery’s wife, of course.”

Satisfied and fortified for the moment, Aurek slid back down into the drugged comfort of his bunk and vaguely hoped he too wouldn’t regret the coming day.

~*~

Aroree’s body thrummed with pure joy as she barely skimmed above the sea’s tossing waves, her hair and bodysuit damp with salty spray as she easily kept pace with one of the Seabird’s longboats. The ship’s superstitious fishing parties had taken a bit of a while to get used to the idea of a beautiful flying maiden who was capable of spearing or netting a full-grown mackerel as handily as one of the burly seamen. But being the practical sorts, they quickly enough caught on to the useful idea of a body capable of spotting a rich school of fish straight from the water’s surface. And her own innate charming grace and gleeful cheer in the hunt won their salty hearts to her as well as their minds.

To Aroree, the joy of the chase and hunt was partially what had kept her sane for so many turns of seasons. For all that she had been and may become in time, she was always first and foremost the skilled hunter and warrior. Those were the matchless talents that had won her place as one of Voll’s Chosen. Whether she used her skills for her people or these newly-befriended humans mattered little to her. That she could exercise them at all is what made her heart sing. That, and the resiliently strong tug that kept her connected to that small cabin tucked within the ship’s bowels. Enough time for that later, she reasoned. The hunt’s on now!

And what a hunt!
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The sorrow of the elves is that
The things they love must die...
(The Tree of swords and jewels waits for me)
Time withers all about them,
Yet the elves it passes by...
(When shall I hang my own upon the Tree?)

Mist-eyes

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Re: Aurek's Egg-cellent Adventures [Chp. 1-3]
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2011, 09:26:36 AM »

This is the best fanfic I read in a long time! The title caught my eye and I've enjoyed everything about is thus far! Is it still in the works? will there ever be more? The characters are well written and the adventure contagious! I do hope you'll continue it one day :)
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Multimedea

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Re: Aurek's Egg-cellent Adventures [Chp. 1-3]
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2011, 12:15:30 PM »

Wow, thanks for the compliment!  :D The AEA is still definitely an on-going concern, tho it's going to be at least a month or more before I can devote any time to it. (I have a move coming up.) I'm also on the look-out for anyone interested in doing some beta reading or looking over my outline material for the story.

Thanks very much again, I didn't think anyone was still reading this.  ;D
Logged
The sorrow of the elves is that
The things they love must die...
(The Tree of swords and jewels waits for me)
Time withers all about them,
Yet the elves it passes by...
(When shall I hang my own upon the Tree?)

Mist-eyes

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Re: Aurek's Egg-cellent Adventures [Chp. 1-3]
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2011, 01:56:20 PM »

Good to hear :) How exciting! I'd love to be part of a beta read so definately feel free whenever!
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Windrider

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Re: Aurek's Egg-cellent Adventures [Chp. 1-3]
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2011, 08:20:46 PM »

This is the only fan fiction that ever made me want to do an illustration for it.  I can't wait for the next chapter!
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Multimedea

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Re: Aurek's Egg-cellent Adventures [Chp. 1-3]
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2011, 09:25:50 AM »

This is the only fan fiction that ever made me want to do an illustration for it.  I can't wait for the next chapter!

Sorry that I haven't replied to this (a lot going on this last month.) I'd LOVE it it you'd ever want to do any illo from my story, Windrider. Even a simple pencil sketch. Of course, after all the calendar craziness. Any particular scene?
Logged
The sorrow of the elves is that
The things they love must die...
(The Tree of swords and jewels waits for me)
Time withers all about them,
Yet the elves it passes by...
(When shall I hang my own upon the Tree?)
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