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Outside Elmis, Remonia 
3rd-Jun-2006 08:01 pm
Mortimus had taken special care to hide his camp away from prying eyes. Out here, in the plains of Remonia, the likelihood of being found was miniscule. Elmis was but a white speck dotting the horizon from where he sat; if any soldiers should happen to be dispatched from Malfalcone's stronghold, he would know them before they hit upon the camp. Anyways, it wasn't them he was worried about. It was that one, deadly mage who had killed those hunters back in Yalin without so much as blinking an eye. He shuddered at their fate. Not for the first time.

The camp was modest just his tent and a small fire pit he had dug. Nearby, his bow lay propped up against a lone tree, one a sparse few that dotted the landscape. The mage-girl was in his tent, bound and drugged so she would be unable to cast a spell on him but not so much that she wouldn't be able to talk. That was what he really needed.

In the meantime, he sat back, his mask pulled away for the time being revealing his sturdy features. The air was pleasant around him, so he reclined a bit, feeling fairly confident in the natural defenses of his camp. He was ready to break at any moment, ready to flee at the slightest hint of danger. And he was alert. What more could he do? Everything was as prepared as it could be, given the circumstances. So why did he feel uneasy?

He looked to the girl in his tent, still unconscious from the flight the night before. It was still dark in the morning air, but the sun's approach was not far off, he knew. Then they would flee. For now, he studied her, wondering what secrets she kept, what she knew about this mess. Indeed, he was prepared to call it a mess now, for things had gone drastically out of control. Wherever these people went, he mused, they seemed to leave a trail of mayhem. What did that old man know that had gotten him killed? Or, perhaps more importantly, what hadn't he known that might get Mortimus killed? He sighed, finding his own thoughts confusing. He hoped the girl would have some answers.

She sputtered slightly, coughing. Rising, Mortimus moved toward her, stopping a few meters from the tent, just to make sure. She moaned, twitched a little, but gave no sign that she was preparing a spell to smite him where he stood. Still cautious, but less so, he continued his approach.

Her eyes fluttered open, staring at him. He nodded. "Good," he said simply. "You're awake. I was afraid I wasa going to have to carry you further, for we can't stay here long." He moved to the fire, poking the embers slightly to invigorate them. Over them, suspended on a crude contraption of wood and rope hung a brace of birds he had snared earlier. "I suppose you're hungry," he said dispassionately. "The gods know I am. But there will be time for food later."

He returned to her, kneeling in the dirt outside the tent. "There are certain things I must know. What is your name? Why are you and your companions here? What did you do to anger the king of Yalin enough for him to put a bounty on all your heads? What about that old man back in Aelyn?"
Comments 
4th-Jun-2006 03:25 am (UTC)
Keaira's blue eyes stared at her captor fiercely. Did this man really think she would be so willing to tell him what he needed to know? Did he believe her to be that stupid, that she would betray her fellow mages so easily? She glared, leaning her head back and glancing around the tent before looking back at him.

"I'll tell you nothing. Do you really think I'd be so traitorous as to tell you those things so quickly, or at all?" she asked, raising an eyebrow.

Yes, she was hungry, she thought inwardly. But she didn't bother saying anything in reply to that.

"The only name I will give you is Jaded Ashes. I'll tell you nothing more than that," she said finally, eyeing the bounty hunter once more. This was the first time she had seen his face without the mask on, and he was...handsome. No, Kea! she thought. He's not handsome. He's your enemy; he'll kill you if you don't watch yourself, with no care. Remember why you became a mage. Still, it was hard to avoid looking at his face and in to his eyes, so she narrowed her gaze to the dirt and attempted to pull at the rope (or chains? o.o) that was holding her arms behind her back for a moment before stopping. She flexed her hands, but she was still rather uncomfortable.
4th-Jun-2006 03:42 am (UTC)
She looked away, infuriated at his questioning. Mortimus smirked, having figured that as much would have been. No captive ever easily gave up information so readily. Still, it had been worth a shot. In retrospect, he had been to eager to get to the bottom of the mystery that he hadn't reasoned things out carefully enough.

He shrugged, rising. "Suit yourself, Jaded Ashes." He moved over to the dead birds, now thoroughly cooked and began cutting them down. "I will need you to cooperate eventually, of course. Believe me, Miss Ashes, there is something very wrong afoot and I want to know what it is. This isn't a simple job; someone wants you dead and they're ostensibly offering a hefty sum for it. Although I doubt they'd pay through, if you follow my meaning." He stared off into the dying stars, reflecting, not for the first time, that the nly clemency this job was likely to offer was the kind that left you in the grips of the underworld gods.

He returned to the mysterious Jaded Ashes, withdrawing a dagger. At first, she appeared alarmed and tried to struggle, but he continued. Rather than make an attempt on her life, though, he cut the robes binding her. She stared at him perplexed. Responding to the unspoken question, he said, "I don't suppose you're in a position to harm me. I would easily best you in a match of strength and you don't have your magic staff. Besides which, I have taken certain...precautions against a possible attack on my person. And like I said," he added, proffering a dead bird. "You must be hungry."
4th-Jun-2006 03:57 am (UTC)
"You must know that I won't fully cooperate. I'll never betray my friends," she said. She eyed the dagger, swallowing hard, only to find him cutting her lose. She blinked, staring at him before pulling her arms back in front of her and flexing her hands and arms. She watched as he then began to cut at the dead birds.

Her stomach growled; she was hungry, and it was food. The offered piece of meat was in a piece of square leather to keep from getting dirt on it. She was thankful for that at least. She began tearing at the meat and pulled off a few pieces, chewing slowly.

She swallowed before speaking once more. "Are you really so oblivious to what's been happening to those born as mages in Remon for the past...thousand years? It's been going on for generations. People are being outcasted in to Yalin because of what they're born with, because of their abilities that make them...unique. Apparently uniqueness is not something His Highness likes too much," she said, a hint of sarcasm in her voice. She took a few more bites of meat. "If you want, just call me Ashes. I don't know how proper a captor is supposed to be to his prisoner, but I personally am not a huge fan of properities."

(Is "properities" a word? o.o)
4th-Jun-2006 04:08 am (UTC)
(I think you mean proprieties?)

He laughed. "Oh, I'm well aware of the situation in Remonia, but this development in Yalin is rather startling. Being from that country myself, I was always under the impression that mages were, at the very least tolerated."

He walked a ways off and sat in his original spot by the fire. "In any event, I do not think I am your enemy. In the end, what we seek is the same thing: answers. Perhaps just not the same kind. I have tried to make the accomodations as comfortable as possible, but the gods know this is a difficult task in our current circumstance."

The sun had begun to peer over the horizon. "We will have to be moving out soon. You may take an hour to rest up, however, if you wish. Contrary to what you may believe, I am not taking you to Yalin to collect the bounty. In the meantime, I suggest we at least work together to avoid capture. That would not be benificial for either of us, I think."

He began eating his own meal, meager as it was. Still, out in this plain, it was the best he could do. As he chewed the tender meat, which was palpable if not satisfying, he couldn't help but wonder what part this girl was playing in the grander scheme...and if she even understood it herself.
4th-Jun-2006 04:22 am (UTC)
She thought about his words. If they weren't enemies, what were they supposed to be? He had captured her, put a knife to her throat...banged her on the head, drugged her, and tied her up. Didn't those things qualify as things enemies would do?

She finished eating her food, thankful for having a full stomach. "Honestly, I don't think I could rest right now. There's...too much on my mind that I'm worrying about," she said. She was worrying about Icthus and how he had taken Farah's news to her capture. She knew it hadn't been easy for him. "And I do have to agree with you...it would be best for both of us to avoid capture. Mostly me, I think, since I'm the one with the price on my head. You were right about something else, which is that I am basically useless as a mage without my staff. I have some power but not enough that would do me any good against you."

She put the last remainder of the bird back in to the leather pouch and closed it up before moving carefully toward the fire and sitting on the ground, pulling her legs in front of her and staring at the fire. She could feel the flames pull to her in a way that any normal human would be scared stiff of. The flames were not something to be scared of for her. She reached out her hand, palm outward and toward the fire, twirling one finger around in a circle. In front of her, the flames twisted in the same motion her finger was going in.

"See? That's pretty much all I can do right now," she said. Not only was it because of her staff not being with her, but it was because she didn't know much more than that. But, she wasn't about to reveal that to him.
4th-Jun-2006 04:23 am (UTC)
(Adding this on)

As she sat down, her eyes saddened. She thought of home, of her friends, of Icthus...she tried to hide her sadness, but it was an emotion that was becoming very hard to hide for whatever reason. Part of her even missed Grace's loud mouth, and that brought a small smile to her face.
4th-Jun-2006 06:14 am (UTC)
Mortimus noted her sad eyes and felt pity for her. However, the need of the situation demanded that he remain collected. He merely nodded. "Very well. Then I suggest we move out as quickly as possible. We'll need to strike camp quickly. We'll not stop until sometime mid-afternoon, I suspect, so we can get a good lead on any pursuers."

He picked up his bow and slung it over his back. Securing his rapier around his waist, he took down the small tent while Ashes tended to the makeshift cooking fire. It would have to be put out, or else anyone tracking them would have a clear sign to follow. He wondered if she's considered that and was planning on leaving some clue for here companions to follow them. He sincerely hoped not, for her sake. Anything she left behind would stand out just as obviously to the Royal Army of Remonia; and if they caught up with them, there was no telling what might happen.

"We'll procure horses at the next town," he said resolutely. "We'll make better time on horseback." She said nothing. He advanced on her and clasped her shoulder. She looked at him, surprised. "I mean it when I say I mean you no harm," he assured her. "There is something greater at stake that any can realize...perhaps even your leader. You must understand, I am only doing this because I must know."
4th-Jun-2006 06:43 am (UTC)
(>.> Snuck online on me, hmm? You still online or did you just sneak on to post?)

When he put his hand on her shoulder, she felt her heart jump, and she swallowed hard, her gaze lifting to meet his eyes.

"Why must you know?" she asked, her voice almost a whisper. "Why is it so important to you? I..." she shook her head. "I can't tell you. You must understand my position...it would be betraying everything I've fought for, everything I've strived to learn and use when the time comes. I mean...I can't even give you my real name. If the wrong people were to find out who I am, then who knows what could happen to my friends? I can only give you little details, and even then it might be too much. Giving you the name I did might have been too much. Besides..." she stepped back. "I'm too stubborn to immediately trust a captor and tell him everything, no matter how..." she almost said something, but stopped herself. "Nice and generally caring they've been. I'm not one to easily give such valueable information out to anyone."

She turned away slowly, her hair flowing against her back as she turned away from him. She reached up to pull it back in a ponytail, keeping it out of her face.

"After you," she said, waiting for him to lead the way.

She thought about what she had started to say. If she were to somehow develop feelings for this man, Icthus would never forgive her. He could've been the bounty hunter who shot the arrow, after all. He had captured her...drugged her. He wanted important information that she couldn't give to him. If she gave it at all, she would have to trust him incredibly. She would have to trust him with her life, and she wasn't at that point.
5th-Jun-2006 01:27 am (UTC)
(Lol, yeah I came on for about five minutes to do that post before I had to go to bed. ;-))
5th-Jun-2006 01:52 am (UTC)
(You still online? Gonna reply? -Cries-)
5th-Jun-2006 07:52 am (UTC)
In the next town, Mortimus used what money he had to buy horses for the two of them. It had been an arduous trek though the morning, but he felt confident that they had a good lead on whoever would follow them. In addition to the mounts, he procured enough supplies to last them a few days out in the open.

The latter half of the day was spent riding in relative silence. He tried a few times to ask her questions in an attempt to get closer to the heart of the problem, but she was hesitant to speak about the matter further.

Finally giving up, he brooded silently the resy of the way, thinking things over, trying to make sense. Sense escaped him.

They found a small grove of trees, which he declared a good place to strike the tents for the night. Within half an hour, a small fire burned as the two of them sat nearby.
5th-Jun-2006 08:34 pm (UTC)
Keaira had never been one for horse back riding. She liked horses, as she did most animals, but she hadn't done a lot of riding in her life. So when she had to try and get up on the saddle, her cheeks turned red as she struggled to get up, and she would've bet ten shillings (er, whatever the currency is) that her cheeks were as deep red as her firey hair. Nevertheless, she finally got up on to the horses back and took the reins in to her hands, trying to watch the bounty hunter and follow his lead.

When they finally stopped to make camp, she slid off the horse, greatful to be back on the ground and not so high up. She pulled some oats out of a pouch at her waist she had bought in the town they had been in and put them in her hand, palm out. She reached her hand out to allow the horse to eat, scratching at its nose and smiling softly. When she turned around, he had made the fire and she moved to sit down near it, brushing away the crumbs from her hands. She pulled her legs up to her chest, wrapping her arms around them and resting her chin on one knee.

She tried to think of something to say, anything really. Just as long as it wasn't so silent.

"You wanted to know my name earlier," she said, not looking at him. "I gave you one name...will you tell me yours so I don't have to call you "bounty hunter" all the time?" She tried to add some humor in to her statement, hoping to lighten the mood.
8th-Jun-2006 11:25 pm (UTC)
He was silent for a moment. So, she expected her to trust her, while she would not afford him the same comfort? He shook this thought from his mind. He supposed, somewhere, that, she had never intended this to happen. After all, it had been he who had kidnapped her, not the other way around.

"Most call me the Foxhound, and I let them," he said. After a brief pause, he added. "If you wish, you may call me Mortimus."
9th-Jun-2006 12:46 am (UTC)
Mortimus. It had a nice ring to it. She pushed that thought in to the back of her mind and sighed softly. Part of her wanted to trust him. If he had wanted to kill her, he would have. How did she really know he wasn't bringing her to Yalin for the bounty to be collected?

"Keaira," she said softly, allowing her eyes to look up at him. "I know better than to trust you, Mortimus...but I think that if you really, truely wished to harm me, you would have done so by now. I am wondering how I am supposed to know that you do not plan on bringing me to Yalin so you can collect your bounty, or use me as bait to get to my bro..." she stopped herself and winced. She closed her eyes for a moment before opening them again. "My friends. How am I supposed to know that your intentions with me are good? And where is it, exactly, that you're bringing me?"

She had messed up, and she knew it. She just hoped for her sake, as well as Icthus's, that he did not catch on to her and find out that she meant to say "brother." He was a bounty hunter, though; most bounty hunters were not as dumb as they looked, and it seemed like the case with this one. He would probably know, which meant she had put her brother and friends in even more danger.
12th-Jun-2006 02:04 am (UTC)
He nearly twitched as she caught herself. Her words had trailed off inaudibly to his ear, seeming to end on a single, indecipherable sound, a lost syllable. He heard her say that she worried that he intended to use her as bait to get to her friends, but he could tell that was not what she meant. Still, he supposed that he was lucky to have gotten that much out of her and decided to let it drop.

"You have a rapturous name, Keaira," he complimented. "Poetic, in a way. As you say, if I intended harm, you would have been dead long ago. That is not what I want. I want to know why the king of Yalin has gotten mixed up in this affair. That man back in Aelyn, the elderly gentleman who your leader found with a knife in his back - what did he have to do with this? Why did he die? Question, you see, questions mulling in my head and I will never be truly satisfied until I know the answer.

"As to my intentions, I can give you no guaruntee other than a promise that I won't harm you or your friends. I was forced to slay one unfortunate chap, but I didn't realize back then what a whirlwind I've gotten myself into. Beyond this, you must realize what a predicament I'm in. I do not know where we shall go, but believe me it will be far from this place. I've no desire to linger here, I can assure you of that."
12th-Jun-2006 03:49 am (UTC)
Kea felt a slight blush come to her cheeks as he complimented her on her name, but hoped he would only think it was the light of the fire on her cheeks and nothing more.

She shook her head slightly, sighing. "I honestly can't speak for the king of Yalin. I can only tell you that he is a good king, and he will fight for the rights of his people. I mean, before he became king, Yalin was a mess. It was chaotic, and it wasn't until he stepped forward and was chosen as our king that Yalin became more organized. He's only trying to defend what he believes in, as are myself and my friends," she said. "You must understand the position I'm in, Mortimus. I've all ready given you way too much information. As a bounty hunter, you probably have ways of using even the tiniest detail, such as what I've given you, to find even more information."

Keaira reached up to twirl a piece of lose hair around her finger idly, something she did when she was slightly distracted. She bit her lower lip, her eyes looking down at the ground for a moment as she thought.

"As for that man in Aelyn...I honestly have no idea what it was he knew about this situation. I think he was a friend of my leader, and he must've known things through my leader that got him killed. Other than that, I can tell you nothing," she said. She paused before speaking once more. "By here do you mean Yalin itself? Do you plan on taking me out of the country?"

She had never been anywhere outside of Yalin or Remon. The thought of him taking her out of the country and away from either place almost frightened her. It would bring her further away from Icthus and the other mages, and Icthus would have no clue where she was. She swallowed hard, pushing those thoughts to the back of her mind before allowing her eyes to look back up at him as she awaited an answer.
12th-Jun-2006 05:09 am (UTC)
"No, just out of the vicinity, to one of the outlying towns where the king's reach isn't so long. If he found us together, there's no telling what might happen to us. If at all possible, I would like to eventually meet with your leader and try to sort our way out of this mess. In the meantime, I would like to avoid either camp for the moment." He picked up his sword, still housed in its scabbard.

"In the meantime," he continued, "I think it's best if you have some way to defend yourself if we're attacked."
12th-Jun-2006 05:24 am (UTC)
She shuddered at the thought of what might happen if the king were to find the two of them together. She imagined Mortimus would receive quite the tongue lashing for not bringing her to him or to Yalin to claim the bounty and turn her in. As for her...she would probably be locked up in a dungeon and questioned about her friends and brother.

Keaira eyed the sword. Part of her wanted to jump off of the log she sat on, but the other knew better and knew it was okay. He wouldn't hurt her.

"I'm not very good with a sword. I've never been much of a fighter with anything besides my staff," she admitted. "I don't know how much good I'll do in a fight."
12th-Jun-2006 05:29 am (UTC)
He grinned at her. "It's time we corrected that." From his saddlebags, he produced a shortsword, very old but still in fine condition. "This is a trinket from my...more prestigious days. Wasn't always a bounty hunter, you know. I find the work rather distasteful - no honor in it. Well, this was my weapon in those days. I am giving it to you on the condition that you agree to let me train you."

He handed her the hilt of the blade. "What say you?"
12th-Jun-2006 05:37 am (UTC)
Keaira watched as he searched through the saddlebags and pulled out the shortsword. She watched as the reflection of the fire's flames danced across the blade before looking up at Mortimus, listening to his words.

She stood slowly, walking over to him. She put a hand out to take the handle of the blade as he handed it to her, her gaze lowering to the blade once more. After a moment, she gave a small, shy smile. "I say yes."

Mortimus's grin brightened when she gave her answer and he moved to stand, unsheathing his weapon and nodding for her to do the same. Once she had done so, he moved closer to her, his gaze focusing on her face. After a moment he blinked, realizing that he had been staring at her, and cleared his throat before beginning his lesson.
12th-Jun-2006 05:58 am (UTC)
"The technique for each type of blade is slightly different - for example, my rapier is best suited for dueling or piercing armor while the short sword is mor characteristic of defense and limited fightin. We'll focus on that.

"Now, you'll want to be sure your defense is strong. The key is to anticipate your enemy's attack. If I swing up near the shoulder area," he said, moving the rapier in that direction slowly to illustrate the point, "you have to see it before it happens and move your sword up to block. Pay attention to slight movements, as they usually cue you into what's on your opponent's mind. We'll go over this in a bit, I just want you to know the basics for now.

"Next, for your offense, remember there are four key areas to aim for: two on either side of the neck and the waist. They form a sort of square around the torso. Naturally, most fatal points are covered by most armors, but the neck and the waist are usually least so.

"Here," he continued, finding a tree and moving her toward it. "why don't we practice on this limb."
12th-Jun-2006 06:17 am (UTC)
Keaira listened to him, taking all of the information he was giving her in. Aim for the neck and waist, basically. She could do that.

She let him move her toward the branch and waited for her next instructions.

"Now, pretend this limb is the arm of your opponant, and the trunk is the body. Wait for your opponant to make his move, and then attack it in the four spots I told you about," Mortimus instructed, moving a few feet behind her to get out of the way of her sword.

Keaira nodded, holding tightly on to the handle of the sword tightly in her left hand. She then raised her blade up after a moment, pretending to wait for the attack, before moving her sword to the right side of the trunk where the waist would be and moving it back quickly and spinning around, pivotting on her right heel, to come around and bring her sword to her opponant's left shoulder, which was where the trunk and branch met on the tree, before bringing it back again. She then made a swing at her opponant's neck, mananging to slice the tree a bit with her blade. She pulled the blade back once more and made an aim for the waist, this time killing her opponant. She then turned on her heel to see Mortimus's reaction, wondering if she would receive praise from him, though that would depend on how well she did.

Mortimus nodded his head in approval. "Good," he praised. "Now, for the defensive part."

The lesson continued for about an hour more before they finally decided to call it a night. Keaira lay a blanket on the ground for herself, using another blanket as a pillow and a third blanket to keep herself warm. Before laying down, she looked at Mortimus as she placed the sword he had given her at her waist and gave him a soft smile.

"Good night, Mortimus," she said, before laying down and pulling the blanket over her. Her back was turned toward him as she lay there. Eventually her eyes closed and she fell asleep.
4th-Jun-2006 03:41 am (UTC)
((Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny = best song EVER))
4th-Jun-2006 03:43 am (UTC)
(Yeah, I just got the video on my iPod, so it was the first thing that came to mind. ^_^)
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