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About Milke

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    this boy is not correct
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    The Heart of Darkness
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    Roleplaying and story crafting mostly. Also music!
  • Occupation
    Professional Disaster

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  1. Ardmore follows Eldridge and Cecco in turn, not wanting to end up falling behind in case the instant they entered the mist proved to be a disorienting one. He figures getting lost is the literal worst case scenario for the little expedition team. The boy feels an unnatural chill run up and down his spine as he takes a step into the ethereal mire, feeling as though the strange essence was...calling out to some small part of him. It draws him into an almost dreamlike trance for a few seconds before the voice of the witch brings him back from the brink of delirium. "H-Huh? Oh! Yeah...what he said."; he chuckles nervously, rubbing the back of his head with the faintest blush. He had no idea what Cecco was saying but he can deduce it was something courageous. As the three progress through the magical mist, sticking close together, Arty takes heed to his companions. Ever the attentive little street rat, the lad's quick to peer through the encroaching fog as best he can, the low visibility making it difficult enough to discern details let alone any that'd stand out behind the colorful shimmering distractions. Even so however, it only takes about a minute of scanning for Arty to make out...something shifting in the near distance. It's subtle, not much more than a darkened shape adjusting itself upon some monolithic, arboreus perch; he reaches out to try and tug on Eldridge's sleeve. With a whisper he'd point; "O-Oi. I think I saw something on that tree over there. At about 3 o'clock, 6-or-so meters away." He'd look between Cecco and the witch, a quizzically concerned look spreading across his boyish face. "Should we check it out?"
  2. Ardmore looks between the both of them, swallowing the nervous lump that formed in his throat as he shrinks away from the distant presence of the looming fog. "Yeah sure, but why do we have to be the 'someones' dealing with it?" The boy adjusts his hat, looking to prince with a strikingly concerned expression; the boy points to himself, eyes wide in disbelief. "M-Me!? No...no way! Uh-uh!" Arty shakes his head, holding his arms in the shape of an 'x'...that is until he hears Eldridge is going. He thinks about what she had said earlier, about the boy proving himself to be a reliable member of this motley crew. With a hefted sigh the boy changes his tune; "Fiiiine! On second thought, sure — I'm coming with you two, too." Of course, the thief had been forgetting his less intrepid companion; surely Barbarossa has a say too right? The Capuchin is quick to leap out of his bag and scramble away from Arty, hiding behind Prince's leg. Seems something about that fog has the primate particularly spooked; he refuses to follow his trusted master any further. "Heh. Have it your way, ya ol' scaredycat Barbar." Arty waves off the Capuchin's concerns, after all; "What's the worst that can happen? It's just some funky mist." Stepping aside, Arty looks up to the towering fellow who he can only assume is none other than Cecco. Great; he can't understand a word of what the seemingly kind giant was saying. Something about the mist? Maybe he was wondering if they were going in now or not? In any case, the words he does heed are Princes — the boy simply smiles and nods. Hell, he even throws in a thumbs up! "Yep! You hit the nail on the head, big guy." Strapping his bag on tight and fastening his leather gloves, the agile urchin suavely saunters up beside Eldridge with a coy shrug. "I'm ready whenever you guys are. Consider me a tag along."
  3. The fog continues to billow ominously over the yonder treetops, down the canopy until it settles beneath the understory just mere inches off the forest floor. Whatever was causing the mystical mire wasn't keen on sending the mist any closer - it simply remained stationary, creating an ominous presence even at the great distance Prince placed between the caravan and the cloud. The otherworldly sheen emanating from its precipice takes on many hues, ranging from a hazy blue to a striking magenta, almost like a psychedelic kaleidoscope. Arty hops out the wagon and saunters up beside Prince and Eldridge, his Capuchin cowering, ducking his fuzzy head back into the safety of the bag. A cold wind blows across the way, sending an uneasy shiver down the young urchin's spine. "I'm gettin' a bad feeling about that mist, I is! Sure it's raining and all but...something ain't right about it." As stridently intrepid as Ardmore presents himself, he's still just a kid who's been thrust headlong into whatever perilous adventure life's prepared for him. His first instinct is to seek comfort and guidance in his more experienced company. Turning to Prince and Eldridge the boy would ask; "Are we...going in there?"
  4. Ardmore watches in contemplative silence as he watches Eldridge saunter away, his request for a partnership politely declined but a deeper understanding of the witch obtained. The boy heaves a sigh as he watches her go, collecting Barbarossa in his arms and perching the little monkey atop his shoulder. "Kind? Guess that's one way to look at it - never had much of a way with people." The boy laments to Prince, standing up tall. "Aye aye Cap'n, let's get a move on." Arty nods with a sense of affirmation, adjusting his hat and turning it about face. "Might be...or I might be the first to drop dead, should I manage to piss off a pixie or something like that." Taking the opportunity for a new challenge in stride, the young thief quickly makes his way back to Prince's wagon, walking past all the other carnies laboriously packing up camp. Just like that, they're off yet again! Soon after heading out, the clouds quickly grow overcast as a light rain rolls in over the horizon. Arty decides to combat the dreary atmosphere, by regaling the full details of his earlier run-in with the guards to Prince, omitting the part where his touch alone aged wooden scaffolding into naught more than bone-dry dust. He doesn't want to cause any alarm by revealing the nature of his power. The hours toiled on rather uneventfully, the night soon to come as the group made progress towards the Fenwyld's border. Ardmore doesn't notice it at first, but his attentive companion Barbarossa makes certain to pull the boy's attention towards a curious mire. "Whoa! H-Hold on!" He'd request Prince bring the wagon to a stop despite the urgency caused by the swelling rain shower. The boy points out what a thick, ethereal, almost silvery fog that's accumulated just on the precipice of a far off swathe of land. The sight is still a fair ways away, but its almost otherworldly qualities and expansive range makes it stand out, even at a distance. "I know it's raining 'n all but...there's something odd about that mist. Tell me I'm not crazy, Prince?"; the lad looks to the man, a quizzical frown forming across his boyish cheeks.
  5. Likewise, without question or hesitation, the brave young soul reaches out to Eldridge with a soft smile. "Well seeing as Barbar's already warmed up to you, I'd be crazy not to ask you." Arty's hand remains outstretched, the boy beaming with confidence in his choice. He can't quite put his thumb on why, but he feels an unspoken connection with the enigmatic and taciturn witch. "My mind's plenty strong--promise!" He'd spare a glance to Barbarossa, snickering playfully. "Barbarossa here on the other hand? You may wanna keep an eye on him. His allegiance is swayed by nuts and berries, can't imagine how he'd fair against fey magic!" The boy's playful jab is met with the angry chittering of his Capuchin companion, who promptly turns away from Eldridge for a moment and leaps at Ardmore. The boy gives a brief shout as he stumbles to the ground, gently wrestling with the comparatively tiny blur of fur! "I was joking Barbar - only joking!"; he'd plead, giggling profusely as he manages to finally get a hold of the monkey. Arty and Barbarossa both look up at Eldridge from the ground, the boy still smiling confidently. "What do ya say? We can watch each other's backs."
  6. Ardmore chews his lip as he hears the untold dangers of the Fenwyld - in truth he'd heard stories during his early childhood of strange happenings in the vicinity of that place. People seeing things, people going missing, people sometimes dropping dead...such cautionary tales were common among the adventurous pirates with whom the boy associated. Still, the boy shows resolve and fearlessness characteristic of his defiant and foolhardy youth. Shaking his head, Arty maintains a staunch look of determination before saying to Prince; "I'm not afraid. In my whole sixteen years of life I've never been afraid - what I'm looking for out there is worth dying over. Although don't get it twisted; I don't plan on dying no time soon!" He declares, a cocksure smirk spreading across his cheeks as he flashes his gaze towards Eldridge now. With a quiet whistle and a subtle gesture of his hand, Arty sends Barbarossa back over to the witch. The Capuchin settles just in front of her, walking on all fours at first before sitting down and chittering happily with outstretched palms. "Seems you've got a way with animals."; he'd say, snickering softly at his companion's antics. "Barbar never warms up to strangers this fast, Eldridge." The boy walks over to her, squatting down in a similar fashion to his simian. He hugs his knees. "What of you? Are you afraid of the wylds?"
  7. Chrysanthemums. Funeral flowers. Surely this was an omen born of the Deep itself, a prolific sign of things to come. He drops the lute, a worrisome sense of urgency plainly stricken across his palling expression. Scoffing indignantly, he'd groan almost sardonically; "Death in the east, funerals in the west. Why can't these premonitions ever warn of anything pleasant?" Despite his apparent annoyance, there's an unspoken sense of determination swelling up within him. Today is the day. He's done hiding, he's done running. It's time for Elisar Omanan to stop simply surviving, and start seeking. Turning his back on the setting sun, the half-elf starts trekking due east. He leaves the decaying shadow of his former home creaking in his wake, uncertain if it'll ever house another within its walls. He doesn't turn back his mind's been made. There's something brewing beyond the furthest reaches of the Deadwoods, something dreadful. This is his chance, to finally make use of the prophetic dreams that come to him in sleep and plague his every waking moment. The dull thumping of his heart is like a sonorous war drum - he can hear the blood starting to rush to his head. What is he going to find? No. . .that's not the right question. 'What is he going to look for?'; that's much more relevant. Duty? Fulfillment? Closure? Vengeance? There's a lot of life he's been missing out on, it's time to start living it. Fin.
  8. The roof to the three story home is absent in multiple spaces, the structure having crashed in on itself like an imploding star. All around Elisar, his recollection fills the vacant gaps and empty hallways of the ground floor. Splintered wood, rotting supports and shattered glass panes are the only surviving decoration in the once garishly furnished plot. Although they could never count themselves among the ranks of the upper-class, the phantom family who once inhabited this desolate dwelling lived in relative luxury. They were. . .happy. Striding past the precipice of the doorway, the seer would feel his skin crawl as an underlining dread perforates the very ground beneath his feet. The elegiac psychometry engenders Elisar's deepest despair, the sight of his half-ruined home striking a dolorous chord with the young prophet. He's shaken so, that he must seek to test the firmness of the near wall, lest he be taken by another fainting spell. Caught within a vertiginous vortex, Elisar struggles to force himself back to the waking world, nerves steeled against the unrelenting onslaught of his own worst enemy - his emotions. Why was his body behaving like this? He is not some feeble, waifish crone, unfit to even stand on his own! He believes he's shaming the memory of his late father with such frivolous falterings; he came here to fish through the wreckage, not gawk and stammer at it. . . .the seconds pass into minutes, then the minutes into an hour. Those scoundrels! Those looters! They'd picked the walls bare like crows feeding on a mass of carrion. Heirlooms, furnishing, not even memoirs were spared; it's enough to easily frustrate the regularly resolute Elisar. Was all his effort really for nothing? Even after amassing all his strength would he have nothing left to show for it? The half-elf kicks aside a panel in his rage, groaning as he pulls the wool of his hat over his eyes. Clunk! Elisar's keen, pointed ears perk to the dull, blunted thud of a rusted iron handle smacking against wood. It was so faint he'd nearly missed it. That sound. . .it's familiar, far too much so in fact. It's with a slow turn that the half-elf would allow his eyes fall to the creased, tattered fabric of the patterned rug concealed beneath the splinters. With an uncharacteristically erratic deftness and dexterity, the seer rends the decoration aside to reveal the sight of a trap door. Of course, he hadn't forgotten it - how could he? It's to this threshold Elisar owes his salvation, and therefore his misery. It was ironic, in a way. Before the old Oathsworn attacked, his mother never permitted him to explore beneath the floorboards, for fear of the boy scarring himself on loose nails. In contrast, she had to practically stuff him down there once the tyrant king's forces came knocking down their door. Elisar reaches for the latch, before delicately pulling it back... Dust and debris soar over his shoulders and he fishes around, toiling in almost total darkness just as he did all those years ago. The hidden trove beneath the floorboards wasn't as accommodating as it was then; his body's grown considerably since his childhood. After a many arduous attempts at excavation, Elisar finally emerges to find his stash still intact. Yes, while his mother expressly forbid him from going beneath the floorboards, he was always an adventurous young lad - often to his detriment. The relatively open space of the house's foundation was a breath of fresh air compared to the cramped, dusty tunnel of moments' prior. Everything is here! Wooden swords, cloth slings, assorted antlers and bones he'd scrounged up from the woods. Alongside these stereotypical trappings are the first talismans and effigies he'd constructed; he was marginally more enthusiastic for his enigmatic abilities back then. With renewed hope, Elisar starts delicately plucking up his handiwork. A gust of breath dismisses the coating of dust that'd gathered upon them, causing him to recoil with sealed eyes and a pinched nose. Gently, they join the meager haul he'd accumulated thus far. Despite his excitement, however, another sight within the dim conditions of the hiding place catches his eye and gives him pause. "So that's where I left it." Elisar exits his dilapidated dwelling with upright posture, an old lute cradled tentatively within his hands. As he takes a seat on the porch, the half-elf looks over the town he'd spent his whole day mourning and many years forgetting. This place was dead. Her people, dead. However, a piece of them still endures - he's proof of that. That alone is reason enough for him to go on. There was something living in these woods, once upon a time, something worth preserving. His people won't disappear; even as mother nature conjured vines to choke their abandoned structures and weeds to reclaim their cobblestone streets. --and the sun begins to set in the west. Elisar finishes absentmindedly tuning the old instrument, then looks off to the horizon as he begins to play. It's something his mother taught him, although he'd always been too embarrassed to share it with many others. He'd oftentimes resign himself to strum and pick all by his lonesome beneath the floorboards when no one else was home, so that nobody would hear him. The circumstances are eerily similar now as to how they were then, only now his solitude was anything but voluntary. It's a bitter fact, but it's one he's ready to swallow irregardless; Elisar isn't going to claim justice for his people's slaughter or make a purpose for himself, until he leaves these festering wilds behind. TWANG! The bottom-most string of the lute snaps, the frayed end jutting from the rounded end and pointing to the wayside. Elisar heaves an accepting sigh; that wasn't unexpected, but that doesn't make it any less disappointing. His gaze follows the strewn string's path, eyes half-lidded with an incredulous and frustrated tinge. That was, until they suddenly widen in apparent shock. A nervous lump tugs down the parched length of his throat, a contemplative frown colors his expression. Weep not when turning to the west... ...there's good company among the dead. Every funeral is a coronation, a ring of flowers around the crown.
  9. Ardmore takes a deep breath between hungry mouthfuls of stew, clearly showing some semblance of his urchin lifestyle due to his lack of manners and abundance of hunger. He pays heed to Eldridge's words, taking care to commit their destination's name to memory; ". . .Wicket." He repeats, nodding to himself. As the boy is lost in thought for a moment, his monkey chitters excitedly before he'd jump off of Arty and onto the witch for a moment. He'd politely take the bag of nuts before bowing his furry little head to Eldridge, then promptly hop back to Ardmore. "Sounds like a lovely place; I'd kill for some peace of mind, personally." The boy jests, waving his hand in front of his face as he sets down a now empty bowl. Upon his shoulder, Barbarossa snacks on the assorted nuts and grains with wild enthusiasm. "So long as Barbar and me get fed, I'd say we're happy with wherever we end up." As the camp winds down, descending into general merriment, Arty perks his ears as Eldridge inquires as to why he's so interested in visiting the Fenwyld. "O-Oh! Uhhhh..." Before he can think of an answer, Prince jumps in and offers him a treat. He slowly takes the chocolate ball with a faint blush staining his cheeks. "Yeah! Let's just say I'm looking for...something. I'm just not really sure what it is yet, if that makes any sense?"
  10. @Phaedara Don't worry about it, I'm definitely still down to plan something out! I'll PM you later and see what we come up with!
  11. Ardmore flicks the front brim of his hat up, tilting it back before turning it all the way around. His face is lit up, allowing him to flash an unobscured and friendly smile to Eldridge. As he does so his monkey emerges from his bag, climbing up the length of the boy's body before perching atop his right shoulder. The Capuchin rolls his eyes and lightly pulls on his apparent owner's ear. Tossing his head back in laughter, Arty gently slaps a hand against his forehead. "Oh right! Where are my manners? I'd almost forgotten about poor Barbarossa 'ere! We're delighted to meet'cha Eldridge, both of us. The monkey cocks his head all the way to one side, tilting his head and neck while blinking curiously at the witch. The animal seems less like a pet and more like a unruly and rambunctious companion to the "chore boy". Arty also tilts his head at Eldridge as she asks his intentions in joining the carnies, mirroring his monkey's contemplative expression. "I'm. . .traveling. Looking for someone, or something."; he'd explain before reaching out to give a tentative handshake. The witch can feel there's especial hesitation and caution carried by his grip; it's like he's afraid of breaking her, even though he lacks any real muscle mass. "You'd be right - I don't usually do grunt work or hard labor. This is just a temporary change in career, y'see?" His quizzical expression fades, once again replaced by his cocky and roguish smile as he lets go of his half of the shake. "You could say I was something of a freelancer, worked for myself most days."; he says, seemingly quite proud of his self-sufficiency. "That being said though, miss. I don't know if I could say I'm good or not, but I'm perfectly happy to share whatever I've got - and I've got plenty." Arty winks before popping his hip and crossing one arm over the other, appearing to be pinching a gold coin between his middle and index finger. He starts to glide the coinage between each of his fingers, dexterous digits working it back and forth before he slips it into his sleeve out of sight. Just then, the appearance of the twins throws the boy off his rhythm as he moves out of the way to make room for the pair. He looks between the two and Eldridge, seeming to take a pause at how they interact. Ardmore's never really seen anyone listen to someone before solely out of familial reverence or respect. Mealtimes back on the streets of Drasir were a chaotic grab bag of who could get what first, sometimes even erupting into all out brawls. Here though? These people were. . .charitable. Hell, one of the twins even offers him the bowl of soup they'd poured, a gesture which he accepts with tentative silence at first. "T-Thanks, shortstuff." He tips his hat to Ava with his free hand, flashing a friendly smile yet again as he tries to chase away the lurking feelings of loss and longing. As he starts to scoop up spoonfuls of stew, Arty steps aside while he speaks to Eldridge, the other members of the motley crew coming to receive their share. "The Fenwyld?"; this makes the boy perk up! Yes! That's perfect, he's bound to find someone who can help with his circumstances on the way there, right? He nods, enthusiastically! "Yup! All the way there, for the long haul and beyond. Though...why are you guys heading there, exactly? If you don't mind me asking, of course."
  12. Will be gettin replies out sometime later tonight or tomorrow. Gotta pack up cause I'm moving apartments 😅

  13. ...should he feel guilty? ...should he feel anything? He hasn't walked these streets in years, it's no surprise that he's gotten lost. Walking circles, looking for a thread to guide him, Elisar stumbles through his disjointed thoughts and memories in a fugue haze. These ruins, they weren't just his home; he couldn't even claim sole ownership of this minuscule fragment of elven legacy. Countless generations, a diverse and progenitive society, all of it deconstructed on the whim of a single individual. A mad genocidal king, aided by his loyal hounds. However, that's all in the past now. Elisar's parents, his people, and the one primarily responsible for their destruction; they have faded, all of them, into ash and dust. They're not too unlike the monuments and mausoleums with which the sage surrounds himself, kept alive only for the sake of his memory. Elisar himself isn't a pure-blooded elf - but he seems to be the only one who returned to their ancestral homeland. Doesn't anyone care anymore? Perhaps the world's content to forget what occurred here. Elisar endures and yet The Deadwoods resist him; despite his efforts, the forest and the civilization that once thrived wherein remains inert. The entrance to the old village is marked by a collapsed stone archway; all that remains of them are two weathered pillars flanking a weed-laden pathway. The sleek marble and ornate cobblestone streets are adorned with cracks and fissures; stalks and greenery grow up from beneath them. Not a single structure was left standing - this is the norm for the once stunning sights of the elven settlements. The tragedy of lost architecture however is the last thing on Elisar's mind. Such paltry, petty, meaningless matters are only the concern of archaeologists or the odd looter. Although this extinct little hamlet appears unremarkable, bearing nothing to distinguish it from the multitude of razed ruins scattered throughout the woodlands, this place once meant the world to the half-elf. Phantom footsteps thud against the freshly paved cobblestone of Elisar's memories. Phantom laughter rings within the dish of his pointed ears. They march in order two-by-two, although they're not more than the echoes of his recollection. A sweeping gust crests against his skin, delivering a chilling sensation to the pallid blanch of his cheeks. The wind carries a nostalgic scent of pine and pollen - Elisar sneezes. He'd swear, he could almost hear his childhood coevals teasing him over the embarrassingly voluminous noise he produced. The bitter taste of stagnation wets the top of his tongue before it clicks against the roof of his mouth - he's long since grown indignant of the specters that catch in the recesses of his mind. Bundling his cloak snugly around his shoulders, Elisar makes progress towards the edge of his former township. As he goes he scans the streets - images of children at play and bustling vendors plague his troubled sight at every corner, down every alleyway. Elisar didn't make it very far before breaking down. Sweating, wheezing. . . . . .collapsing. A silver lining presents a golden opportunity for the hysterical half-elf to seek cover from the unrelenting onslaught of his own vivid memory; he stumbles his way into the ground floor of the long since demolished distillery. He remembers this place: the owner Lathai, the clerk Aenwyn. He remembers his mother raving about the richness and flavor of elvish wine; being so young at the time Elisar never understood her admiration, but it warmed his heart so see her so enthused. The emotionally exhausted elf regains his composure with a warm smile, propping his back against the near wall and resting his weary soul. He recalls Lathai and Aenwyn again, their hospitable attitudes and friendly dispositions. Elisar can't remember a time he ever caught Lathai hinting at a frown; reminiscing, the young sage hazards to slowly scan the remnants of the room. Splintered husks are all that remain of the barrels, kegs, and racks. Embedded into the far wall is a lumber axe - the deep bloodstains littering that end of the room. . . Not far from the village a noble stork was wading its way through the shallows of a pond. Suddenly, a frightful scream sends it fleeing in a panic! The bird departs upon the air, not pausing until it's far away from that accursed commune of collapsed homes and scattered bones. Elisar once again finds himself wandering the sullen streets of the tortuous town. Why did he even come here? What was it he was looking for; closure, comfort, some invaluable piece of his people's culture? Maybe he wanted to punish himself, this is all his fault after all. He couldn't save anyone; not his friends, not his family. He didn't even save himself - someone else did him that "kindness". Some days Elisar wishes he'd been slaughtered alongside his mother and father, at least then he'd have good company in death. Morbid thoughts of self-defeating prophecies flood his senses with unerring dread until...he feels something squish beneath his shoe. A doll. Her patchwork arms have been torn at the seams and her burlap skin is lightly signed - but otherwise the decrepit plaything is relatively intact. Funny that; of all the useless junk he's been accruing these past few months, this was in the best condition. It's not much but at least there's something that's leftover from his home. Delicately he plucks the toy up, being as careful as one would with a swaddling babe. He tries not to think on the fate of the doll's previous owner as he cradles it into one of his pockets. "Just a little further." The wardens' barracks and reserves. The shadow of death lingers over this ruined lot more so than all the others; it was here where valiant protectors made their spirited last stand against the Tyrant King's forces. Among them was Elisar's father; the captain of the guard, a warrior of the utmost discipline and renown. It was a sporting attempt - but what hope did the town guard have against overbearing odds and the famously insurmountable Oathsworn? There was a time in truth, when that sacred order were the idols of a young Elisar. It's difficult for him to admit it, even to himself, but he considered them his role models over his own father even. The guardians of the realm, the stalwart protectors of Ursa Madeum, a bulwark for the innocent and a hedge against the wicked. It all made for an enthralling series of bedtime stories - until, they became the harbingers of an unfathomable nightmare. -and in the midst of all the chaos and carnage, that night when death came to the Deadwoods, the young boy was granted his wish. He'd finally been allowed to see the Oathsworn in action...as they slew every elf in sight, draining their blood into the cold, sordid soil. After that, the Oathsworn went on to be demolished as well. If Elisar was a more comical sort, he'd call it...ironic. However, the schism and resulting deaths of the Tyrant King's butchers left a decidedly bitter taste in his mouth. Seven years. For seven years, Elisar swallowed his tears. Tears of sorrow...and tears of rage. These feelings, he'd thought they'd grown so distant that he'd forgotten, but he'd only been suppressing them. Now they've all come bubbling to the surface, loosing the calm lid he'd capped onto his emotions and BURSTING out into a muted surge. Yet he's without any avenue for release. Every part and stuff of him is confined, trapped within an oversized coffin of living wood, moss, and leafs. ". . .why?" At the drop of a hat, the answer would suddenly become so clear. Why was he alone left to rot among these monolithic wastes? What is he doing here? Nothing. The preservation of his people, the preservation of their legacy? Those are just noble excuses for Elisar to let himself waste away - sad, alone and ashamed. He's done. He's not subjecting himself to this self-inflicted hell for another moment. The wind suddenly kicks up, swelling into a orchestral swing of nature's symphony to carry the sage from the depths of his despair. Elisar turns on his heels and runs; he runs for his life. However, unlike all those years ago he doesn't run in fear but in courage. Tirelessly, unabashedly, he sprints until his legs will carry him no more. His feet clap against the firm stone beneath him, kicking up dust, pebbles and bits of loose detritus as he parses his way through an empty crowd. He's unhindered by the apparitions of happier times and the remnants of horror to which he'd bore no witness. Whatever doesn't fade simply serves to propel him further down the way. Before long, Elisar stands before a half-worn house of modest stature and height. At last - he's home. Carefully he measures each step up the splintered planks of the porch, before hesitantly leaning through the wide open doorway.
  14. Arty seemed hesitant to join Prince up front at first; he's unaccustomed to looking out for other people, however seeing as Prince has been kind beyond what the little thief deserves Arty gets over his nerves and saddles in beside him. Although he's hesitant to admit it, the boy thinks he's warming up to the idea of humble nomadic living; that is until he realizes the scores won't be as exciting or profitable as stealing. Still, the freedom of the open road is something Ardmore can admire. "Trust me - I know all about danger. Growing up in Drasir, you learn to think like a criminal." There's a noticeably casual swagger to Arty's demeanor, even the way he sits is relaxed and roguish with his hands resting behind his head and one leg strewn over the other. It's more of a lean than a seat if anything. However, despite his carefree posture there's something obviously on Arty's mind as they travel across the northerly coast. As if Prince could read the boy's mind he starts giving him advice regarding the as-of-yet mysterious figure, Eldridge. The subject grasps his attention so and thus Ardmore sits up and listens attentively. While the man was right to assume they won't be the most comforting, they do actually alleviate some unspoken fear. "That's a relief; it'd be super awkward to spend time traveling with company who resents you. Although...friends?" Self-doubt, now here's something Arty isn't used to feeling. He looks off to the side, keeping his eyes peeled but also using his time to mull over Prince's words. "I've never had a real friend before - like a real person as a friend, I mean." Arty spends much of the journey muttering to himself or enjoying the scenery. He's ever seen the picturesque coasts and countryside of Corinth, only illustrations in the dusty old readings that sometimes lined tavern shelves. It's enough to bring a smile to the jaded and sordid orphan. Soon enough the group stops for a break halfways through their trip. Piling out of the wagon after some time, Ardmore spots the foursome of Eldridge, Arya and the twins with the former-most standing alone by a cauldron. "Huh, just like a witch I s'pose." He'd muse to himself before sauntering over. Although he's nervous at first, he recalls Prince saying she's not keen on remembering what occurs while she's drunk. It's strange really - she seems like a completely different person with the combined clarity of daylight and sobriety. Eldridge seems more approachable, however the boy's curious to what inspires her drinking habit. Well there's no sense getting so personal right off the bat - he decides to start off this attempt at friendship with an unobtrusive introduction. "Hello? I don't believe we've met, ma'am. Name's Arty! I'm the new...chore boy." Extending a gloved hand the young thief tests the waters; does she remember him or has she truly forgotten she threatened to shiv him the night prior?
  15. ''...fire on the eastern shore.'' ''Death on the eastmost horizon...'' A sharp gasp, a haggard gust, an abrupt lurch; his lungs burn on the humid air through which his body thrusts! Dew accumulated on the perky surface of once scratchy skin - its muggy warmth perforates, the sensation erecting the intrusive crest of goose pimples across the delicate facet. It's on days like these where Elisar can hardly distinguish between his own sweat and tears, and the chilling shower of an early morning's rainfall. The instant his eyes open they are forced to flutter shut once again under a joint assault of gravity and climate. His every waking moment was a self-concealed battle, a struggle against entropic urges all for the simple prize of persisting, surviving. Swiftly, the erratic mire of his passing dream drains away. He raises a glove-clad hand to shield his vision, chasing away the encroaching blur of sleep and soak; he is not content to lay there upon his bed of moss and stone. . . .had he fallen asleep out in the open again? "How careless." His chiding, monotone chatter benefits no one save for himself. Talking when no one's there to hear you - perhaps the fledgling life of a prophetic hermit inspires madness even in the most sound of souls. Dressed in naught more than his bottoms, the unskilled seer lethargically slides off his perch, eyes scanning dewy blades of grass and ferns that litter the floor of his forest home. His dolorous gaze finds the folds of his cloak and shirt discarded among the greenery, fabric damp and baggy like the skin underneath his exhausted, elven eyes. ". . .should've figured." Wringing rings out across the hallowed ground of the Deadwoods, trees and ruinous structures standing like stalwart guards against the long-since absent invaders. The lonesome crowded thicket depresses Elisar as much as it soothes him - this was a home once, his home. His boyhood is still a near memory, no more distant than the ominous utterance he'd heard in his latest prophecy. He's never granted much weight nor credence to his divination; his mother never had the opportunity to instruct him on interpretation, not before everything turned to dust and rubble. No. . .there's far more practical matters to concern himself with. Maintain the wilds and garden, preserve the remnants of his people's culture, dry his clothing because he forgot to seek shelter before sleeping. Despite being in the prime of his youth, Elisar can't shake the creeping sensation of decay snaking its way up his spine. The rot permeating the ground here is virulent, volatile - it makes him shudder, or perhaps it's just the passing breeze rushing over his exposed back. Although. . . What about this prophecy set it apart from the others? Mayhaps it's this newest prediction that's left the Deadwoods' keeper so unnerved. That would seem to be the case; no matter what he tries to occupy himself with, he can't dismiss those words from his mind. ". . .fire on the shore, death on the horizon. . ." A murder makes themselves known by the fearsome command of their caws, scattering at the snap of twigs and detritus underfoot. The early day's rain has since given away to the afternoon sun, the high rise filtering light through the cage of the treetop canopy. It's a welcome surprise for Elisar; he'd been expecting the overcast of the past few days to carry on into next week. Thinking it best not to waste the blessing nature's given him, the hybrid makes haste towards his destination. After all she's a fickle goddess, and who knows when the next tempest will be upon him? Soon enough the morbid sight of a great tomb parses through the trees, their artisan cuts of stone standing as one of the last vestiges of a nearly extinct people. The headstones have been picked clean of vines and vegetation, Elisar's vain attempt at a sorrowful yet heartfelt sentiment. The first time he'd stumbled upon this place he'd been moved to tears. Now? He feels nothing. Squatting in a mausoleum for two years makes for a bitter and desensitized palate; the shaman almost regards death as close companion at this point. Scattered among all the masterfully crafted graves, primitive planks of wood bearing traditional elvish epithets have been erected as well. Yet another incomplete project of Elisar's; he'd been attempting to gather whatever bones he'd came across, and give the forlorn remains of his people shallow burials. However, so many of them were so fragmented - he was having trouble putting together which bones belonged where...and to whom. It's a disheartening monument, a testament to remind him the lives lost here will never find peace. His only hope, is that one day they can know justice in its stead. This is his singular focus, his life's mission, the deed to which he's committed himself. . . .or rather that would be the case, if he could ever bring himself to leave his accursed home. A beetle scuttles across the slab and tiles - it squeezes its way into a crack and out of sight. The ground here is smooth and cool, if only a tad fractured; weeds sprout up from the narrow valleys below. He should consider his ancestors offended that he'd dare to live atop the place where they lay dead; though if they were, they hadn't let their voices be heard. Silence is his song, the stillness invents him. Elisar bears witness to the lengthy withering of the once flourishing conclave, but he's painfully aware this wasn't always the case. Oftentimes the memories come flooding back as an ocean, angry rivulets streaking down the gentle slope of his youthful countenance, as he's unable to recall what he had without recalling how he lost it. That is to say - who he lost it to. How ironic that even the isolated, quiet life of a recluse hasn't left him without his hatred, without his enemies. It's certainly left him without any allies or allegiances - such is the cruelness of life. Elisar screws his eyes shut, seething, shaking, trying to remember a happier time and ease his overactive nerves. It's no use - her scream pierces the air and breaks his concentration. . . - THWACK! Fist against firm, skin against stone, knuckles left with a crimson trickle of ichor dribbling between the gaps of his fingers. What had he accomplished, save for inflicting a blow to the near wall's integrity. "...dammit." The black racer darts across the way, drawing attention for only a second before its trailing tip vanishes behind the reeds. The serpent is but a fleeting thought - but the dark sheen of its scaly armor lingers in his mind, as Elisar finishes cocooning his hand in bandaging while he walks. Having finally changed out of his soggy cloak and into a dry one, he was content to leave behind the tomb where he'd settled. The sage has been biding his time scouring the ancient ruins for whatever runes or writings he can find, collecting and compiling a codex and chronicle of his culture's collective wisdom. More often than not, all he can find are the burnt out spines of olden tomes. It's not so much frustrating anymore as it's...numbing. 'Tis just another gash in the tattered tapestry, another wrinkle in the fabric of his people's timeline. There's already so much missing; is one or two more books truthfully going to make a non-negligible difference? He pockets another shard of some shattered, mundane artifact - perhaps it was once a piece of pottery, or even the window of a temple. It doesn't matter as none of it will ever be whole again...and for that matter neither will he. Still, there's one razed, ruinous settlement that Elisar knows well. One he's been neglecting to visit for reasons wholly obvious to him despite an intimate familiarity. The heart is such a paradoxical thing; it carries the strongest wills but bears a unfathomable weakness. Why is he so afraid? . . .why isn't he strong enough? . . . . . .why can't he just go back there? All that remains are ghosts, and ghosts are no strangers to him. Thusly, he starts on his way. Back to where everything ends and begins - back to where he'd been born and where he should've died. Elisar is going back to the home within his home, the house where his mother and father had lived and perished in. He needs to be there. He needs to know what was spared in his family's stead.
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