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TheWilySpookster

[Talthanus] A Knight to Forget

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"Are you some kind of like, hallucination, man?"

A rotund man with long hair and a poorly fitting, multi-colored robe as see through as a pane of glass took long drags from his pipe, staring at the thing before him with red, squinty eyes and a dumb smile on his face.

"No, I am a knight errant in search of adventure and glory."

"Killer, man. But that still doesn't answer my question."

"Whatever do you mean, good sir?"

The man continued to suck on his pipe, a loud slurping noise accompanying each pump that entered his lungs.

"I mean like, yeah, you're Knight Aaron---"

"---Errant..."

"But Knight Aaron could still just be a fabrication, you know? Maybe you're supposed to be the symbol of the inner workings of my mind, you know? Like deep down inside, I'm Knight Aaron."

"Knight Errant."

"Shit, bro, I don't know if I'm Knight Garret, cause as much as I'd like to say so, I don't think I can have that many people inside my soul, you get me? It's a bit too full of me and Aaron to have any more."

"Oh, for the love of Gaia, Sir! Listen to what I'm saying, I am not, a Knight named Garret or Aaron, I am Whisk Caulder, and I am a knight errant, and I'd very much appreciate if you were to point me out to anyone in need of a heroic warrior such as myself."

The man stared at Whisk for a few moments, eyes practically slits at this point from how focused they had become. He didn't speak or move, except to take tiny breaths from his pipe, the smoke slowly flooding out of his nostrils in-between breaths. This went on for about a minute, until his pipe had finally burned through all its contents, and he pocketed it in a deer-hide satchel over his shoulder.

"Alright, I'm gonna level with you here. I'm getting a bit tired of arguing with you over your nature of being just a figment of my "enlightened", read drug addled brain, so let me make it clear exactly why you aren't real. You sir, Mr. Knight Errant,  are a scarecrow wearing a bunch of random pieces of armor, with what look like crabs poking their claws out of all your assorted holes and tears, now if that isn't the trippiest, most unreal shit you've ever seen, then I don't know what you've been smoking, or smoke-cepting, man."

Whisk's black button eyes were incapable of demonstrating emotion, due to their artificial nature. Nor could his mouth, due to it being a vaguely smile-shaped curve stitched onto his face. Yet somehow these static, and of course completely fake facial features managed to express intense anger in a way that was indescribable, and incredibly unsettling. The man quickly took notice, and flinched appropriately.

In a split-second, Whisk shoved his left hand, adorned with a gauntlet lacking its fingers, directly into his right armpit and pulled out a sizable lobster, and slapped the man across the face with it, sending him reeling to the ground.

"That feel unreal to you?"

"...No..."

"Is there a tavern in this town?"

The man had already sat up, and was in the process of lighting his pipe when he heard the question, and weakly pointed up the hill they were a few feet away from.

"I think you've had enough."

Whisk snatched the pipe out of the man's hand, and tossed it into his armpit flap. No sooner had he done this, the man had pulled out another pipe and had started lighting it.

"I...but you...oh never mind, I'm done with you."

The man chuckled as Whisk briskly walked past him, and up the hill towards the tavern. When he reached it, he weakly pushed on the door, barely able to push it open for himself, but eventually making his way inside. It was almost completely covered in a smoky white haze, reducing the visibility to misty morning levels of total blindness. But regardless, Whisk waded through the smoke and crowd to reach the bar counter and its barkeep.

"I'm looking for work befitting a knight."

 

Edited by TheWilySpookster

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The miasma of smoke that spilled from the Inn was suffocating, how the people inside manage to survive such a thing was concerning, troubling, even. Aone rubbed her orange hued eyes as she whined pathetically, it burned, itched, and made her feel rather strange. The fire nymph swished her spaded tail as she tried to draw in a breath, engulfed in another cloud of smoke as a patron exhaled. A cough shook her lithe frame and her horned figure bent, hissing softly as she ducked beneath a table in hopes of finding cleaner air.

There was none to be had.

Aone coughed once more, her bare feet scrambling at the wood to escape before she was roped into lighting someone elses’ pipe. Since they had discovered her ability to bend fire to her whim, the townspeople had roped her into their delightful partying…but now her mouth was dry and she desperately wanted nothing more than to find some Lava to consume. Admittedly, it was a vastly different experience to the other towns in which she had been in, most had shunned the nymph in fear that she would leave their homes in ashes.

With a wiggling motion, Aone’s orange and scrolling rune covered body burst from the door, behind her a rolling mass of clouds that threatened to consume the very country side as she drew in a fresh breath of air as though her lungs might collapse.

“Nyah!” She stuck her tongue out in a childish motion towards the innards of the inn. She was met with cajoling, before she spun suddenly and started her march down the pathway, not seeming to mind where she was going at all.

“Icky townspeople, smell funny.” Aone muttered to herself as she patted a cloud of smoke from her tunic.

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    Mother had always told her, from the time she was able to comprehend it to the day she ran off, that the world is a strange and unusual place. Full of a myriad of obstacles and people that she may never be able to understand or even believe could exist. In response, just like to almost everything else her mother bothered to try telling her, Lyr just laughed it off.    
         
    However, the smiles and giggles of disbelief wore off when she was robbed twice on the road, chased through the forest, and began to hear the grumbling of her underfed abdominal region. By the time she made it close to the next town, the toes of her boots were dragging heavily against the pavement with her upper torso hunched and forward leaning. Hungry, tired, and fretfully beaten down by this thing she called 'adventure'. It is definitely not for the faint of heart.    
         
    Despite all this she remains strong, ever bent on becoming a great among greats. Some sort of grandiose sword swinging knight to slice down evil with the best of them. Which is what landed her in this predicament in the first place. Albeit nearly starved, having only eaten some grass shoots and berries she found along the path, she suddenly heard the sounds of others in need of nourishment.    
         
    Upon approaching Talthanus, and breathing in the acrid and tainted air, she began to notice strange beings swaying to and fro all over the place. Loose garments and wreathes of flowers adorning the thin taunt frames of smiling fiends. Many of whom were complaining of being hungry and needing treats and snacks. And being the gallant gal that she is, she ran further into the town, completely misunderstanding and confusing their smiling and starving with some sort of cruel aesthetic of witchcraft. And so deeper into the smoke induced coma her mind drifted.    
         
    Chop...chop...chop...chop!    
         
    Every swing of her sword down onto the cutting board makes a eardrum ringing ping. But it never seems to end, the constant swing and chop of her blade, because the hunger of those at the window never seems to dwindle. A loud voice booms over her shoulder with every batch that is cut. “BROWNIES!! FRESH BAKED BROWNIES!! COME AND GET 'EM!!” How long she had been stuck inside this bakery in an attempt to help these poor starving folks, is lost on her. The woozy effect of the towns namesake beginning to make her body sway and rock, a tad more frigidly, like the the townsfolk.    
         
    And even she, takes a couple of brownies in turn for the chopping. But they never seem to sate her appetite either.    
         

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"Man...knight's are like...they're just gonna harsh everyone's vibe, man. Knight's've got like, no place around here, unless they're like, super chill man."

The barkeep was a rail-thin man, bald with a handlebar mustache platinum blonde in its color, sipping from a wine glass with one hand, and dragging on the familiar pipe with its noxious smoke in the other. His mustache was stained red in the middle of his lip, and every sip seemed to end in a coughing fit that left Whisk's body stained wherever his wine-filled spittle had the misfortune of landing. Whisk was displeased.

"Surely there is something you hipp---people...could use a hired sword for. Monsters roaming the countryside, bandits attacking people, anything?"

"Nope."

"Nothing at all?"

"Nothing at all, my man."

"Nothing whatsoever."

"Nothing wha---"

At that moment, the barkeep's coughing chose to be much more violent and wet, covering the left side of Whisk's face in wine, and leaving the material looking a sickly rouge.

"---tsoever. Sorry."

He certainly would be sorry, considering his outsides were just about to become indistinguishable from his insides within the next few moments. Without really thinking over the repercussions, Whisk reached for his estoc, and began drawing it out of its sheathe. But before he could pull it out halfway, he watched the bartender drop his pipe and wine glass onto the bar, the latter spilling out onto the counter, as he jumped back in fear. Whisk's previous anger quickly subsided, as he slowly slid it back into in, head lowered.

"I'm sorry...I overreacted a bit."

The barkeep drew forward with caution, not speaking or making any subtle movements for a few moments, before grabbing his pipe and offering it to Whisk.

"Take it man, you seem like you need it."

Whisk highly disagreed, and was intent on making that clear as politely as he could.

"Thank you...but a knight errant such as myself should really try to stay pure and natural."

"It's a plant man, can't get more natural than that."

"I'd rather not have to suffer any negative effects."

"This shit's got none, man."

Whisk glanced away for a moment, questioning what to do.

"I wouldn't want to take your only---"

He turned his head back to face the barkeep, only to notice a second pipe in his hand, which he began sucking on.

"Always gotta have a spare, man."

He held the spare pipe out again, shaking it a bit for emphasis.

"Come on, man, take it. It'll lighten you up a bit."

Whisk sighed, shaking his head but finally taking the pipe.

"Just...tell me if any job opportunities come to mind."

"Sure thing."

Whisk walked over to an empty stool near the fire nymph lighting everyone's pipes, and sat down. He eyes the pipe a bit, before jabbing it into his throat until a hole in the fabric formed. He stuck it in far enough to balance without falling out. With nothing else to do, he waited to see what would happen.

 

 

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The nymph had already escaped. She was free! The wind in her hair, the smell of the sea on her nose! However, it was clouded once more by the passage of the smoke that seemed to hang in a permanent cloud about the place. The sunny little village was full of the stuff, everywhere you went, someone was puffing a cloud into your face, or worse, you were being handed a pipe of your own. 

Such as things were, it seemed. The nymphs tail swished back and forth as though she contemplated fleeing...but she was noticing that her thoughts seemed muddled, slower...as though they were trudging through a deep river to gain a proper foothold in her mind. Slow and cumbersome, the lively nymph began to slow ever so slightly as her feet barely trudged towards the brownie stalls...food stalls were quite popular in this little town, it seemed. 

As she approached the food stall, she frowned at the crowd. So many people stuck around the food as well, it was almost impossible to get around them. The only squabbling this town seemed to have was over who would get the last brownie. 

A gentle sigh escaped as the nymph pouted and flopped on an unoccupied bench with a pout. Of course, she was only there for a moment before someone else asked her to light their pipe. With a defeated noise, she did so

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    It is with fuzzy feeling that Lyr takes her leave of the chopping block. The loud and obnoxious sounds of complaint ring in her ears as she stumbles from the kitchen. If these crazed folk could only understand... When the food is gone, IT’S GONE. For the love of all that is pure and decent in this world, she cannot fathom their need to constantly feed. Lyr’s stomach continually growling at every refreshing memory or reminder of the brownies she had been cutting. Crumbs clinging to her clothing and nails.    
         
    The smell of baked goods trails behind her in thick waves of perfume, as do the bodies of those she ditched at the bakery counter. Grumbling and moaning, eventually amassing into a greater herd of hungry snackers. No matter how quickly she tries to move, everything and one around her moves to follow. Their in-tandem hip swirls and laughter quickly become nightmarishly haunting to her. This causes her to panic and make a better attempt at running. Similar to the domino effect, her initial actions set into motion many other actions. She trips and almost swats into a lone fire Nymph. The tiny creature jars her momentarily and she turns her body quickly in order to keep from wounding the little creature.    
         
    Now if only the world would stop swirling so much, Lyr believes she can escape this otherworldly insanity. It comes off as a dream having gone completely off the deep end of the pond. Or so her mother would suggest. Not that she would ever recant this later on in life once it’s all figured out. The whole venture expressed as being quite embarrassing, to say the least.    
         
    Lightly drug feet step, then stumble as they flee through the winding clouds of smoke. A couple of short high kneed steps are taken until she finds herself before another door. Lyr feels nothing but hindrance and hesitation at entering the establishment for fear of a repeat. As tainted as her mind may be at the moment, there is no way she’s going to keep chopping up large brownie squares for these disturbed smoke riddled people.    
         
    “I’VE GOT TO HIDE!”    
         
    Inward thinking is yelled forth for all in the inn to hear as she opens the door and runs in like a madwoman.    
         
    “THEY’LL FIND ME IF I DON’T HIDE!!!”    
         

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     A figure clothed in the attire of a wanderer was standing, rather uncomfortably, in the middle of the crowded inn. Facing her was a gangly teenager, all elbows and long limbs, whose words were slurred and eyes were rimmed with red. There was far too much raucous laughter filling the air to make out her words as she spoke, but the tone was melodic and sweet, a stream burbling in the distant woods. 
     The girl stood with a hip jutted to one side, slender right arm draped across her slight body, delicate fingers clasping the elbow opposite. Her head was canted to the right, strands of ashen hair tickling the curve of a narrow shoulder. Her skin was a sheet of parchment stained with midnight ink, meticulous brushstrokes painting a tapestry that cascaded down one pale cheek before disappearing under her neckline. A simple woolen tunic covered her torso, dyed a blue that nearly matched the cloudless sky as it brightened into day. Though the fabric was fitted across her chest, the sleeves draped just past her hands, leaving only the tips of her fingers visible. Soft brown leather covered her legs, the material clinging to the curve of her thighs before disappearing into the thick leather of brown travelling boots. The boots themselves appeared to have seen their fair share of hiking, grass and mud clumped on the soles and staining the dark leather. Similar leather made up a small satchel slung across her body, carefully positioned to keep curious hands from checking its contents.
     An uncomfortable smile adorned the woman’s lips. Her expression was the picture of forced politeness, a kind expression accompanied by vacant eyes and a distant gaze. Though her chin nodded along to the man’s frenzied conversation, it was clear to anyone who knew Katsa that she was not listening. She had approached the gangly teenager in hopes of assisting him, as it was clear something was not quite right with his head. But he had brushed off any and all of her attempts to ask what was wrong, instead preferring to ramble on excitedly about whether a bench was considered a chair.

    Only the frenzied entry of a rather dishevelled woman had been able to draw the man's attention away from the one-sided rant. Using the moment to flee, Katsa wove her way through the crowds of mumbling and laughing patrons to where the woman had burst through the front doors.

"Excuse me miss, but are you alright?" A rather fuzzy thought popped into the nymph's head, then. Her words were a bit slurred too!

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