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DarkHorse

Lost memories

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A warm breeze snaked through the trees, rustling the leaves. It tussled the curly, knotted mass of deep red hair spread across the ground. Its owner was in a similarly disheveled state, her pants and baggy shirt covered in a mix of blood and dirt. Next to her lay a dog nearly as big as she, his shaggy grey coat flecked with mud. He was whining, his nose occasionally nudging the woman's cheek in an attempt to wake her. She groaned and scrunched up her bruised face before opening her green and gold flecked eyes to look up at the tree canopy with confusion. She turned her head stiffly to regard the dog next to her with surprise, he let out a bark and wagged his tail. 

"What the hell happened?" She groaned and attempted to sit up. Shooting pain shot up her side and her head spun, she quickly lay back down with a bigger groan. 

The dog continued to whine and nudged her shoulder with his nose. She reached out an arm and gently stroked his head, the dog was familiar with her, but she couldn't remember ever having a dog....in fact, she couldn't remember anything prior to her waking up. She sighed and tried to push herself up to sitting once again, gritting her teeth she pushed through the pain shooting up her side and the world spinning and managed to sit. She closed her eyes a moment and hoped the spinning would stop, it was making her queasy. When she felt the earth still, she bravely opened one eye and closed it quickly to prevent the dog's wet lick from going into her eye. He was sitting too, wagging his tail and panting, he attempted to lick her again and she pushed him away. 

"Agh!" She cried, trying to fend off the dog while her side agonized her, "enough! enough!" 

He sat back and looked at her expectantly.

"I don't suppose you know how we got here do you?" She asked, "A better question would be where are we?" 

He continued to wag his tail and regard her happily, he barked causing her to flinch from the splitting pain in her head it caused.

"Not so loud!" She scolded, "My head feels like it is going to fall right off my body..."

She looked down at her blood soaked clothes and put a hand tentatively to her scalp where she felt a burning pain. When she pulled it back there was a red smear on it from blood. 

"I've got to get all this cleaned out..." She ground out, attempting to use a nearby tree to pull her to standing. 

The dog began to whine and lay back down.

"I'm not going to lay back down." She said through gritted teeth.

The world spun again and she clung to the tree, her stomach finally losing its battle, she vomited. The dog looked at her knowingly and she could swear it looked a little smug, as if to say "I told you so." 

"Yeah, yeah yeah." She glared back at it, waiting for the world to stop spinning. 

When it did she took a tentative step forward, when the world didn't spin and her stomach didn't empty, she took another one and then another. The dog stood and followed her, occasionally looking at her quizzically.

"I need to see if there are any clues as to who I am, who you are or even how we got here." She told him, "Be helpful and start looking too!"

He sniffed around while she slowly scanned the ground around her. 

"Nothing but dirt!" She said in frustration, the movement loosening up her stiff limbs.

The dog sat and barked, he looked at her expectantly once again. She approached him and he nosed the ground, she bent stiffly and lifted a necklace from the ground. She ran her thumb over the dirt encrusted engraving on the back. It read "Zafira." 

"Who is Zafira?" She asked, "Is that me?"

The dog barked and wagged his tail. 

"I'm going to take that as a yes for now..." She searched the ground for any other clues, "Now I have to figure out what you are called..."

The dog stood and pranced in a circle, whining. Zafira ignored him and continued to search, she found a strange looking stringed instrument in the bushes. It looked to be once ornately painted and carved, it looked battered and well used now. She plucked a few strings for amusement and her fingers flew across the strings, producing a haunting melody before one of the strings broke with a very ugly sounding "thwang." 

"Well....it appears I know how to play music." She said furrowing her brow, "But how can I remember how to play music if I cant remember the name of the darn song?"

The dog barked and wagged his tail happily. 

"You don't happen to know where a stream would be do you?" She asked the dog, fully expecting him not to answer.

He leapt up and loped off into the woods. Zafira shouted angrily after him and began to stiffly walk in the direction he ran off to. He doubled back and walked next to her.

"If we are to be companions I should figure out your name..." She mused, "Perhaps I will just make one up."

The dog growled.

"Fine, I will try to figure it out..." She tried to think through the splitting headache, but it was like trying to hold sand, it kept slipping away, "Its no use, my memory is gone...is it -" She looked around, "Tree?"

She could have sworn the dog raised an eyebrow at her.

"You are right that is a stupid name, I would never name something that..." She looked around again, "Sky?"

He ignored her and continued to lead her towards water. 

"What about Cat?" She joked, he growled at her again, "It was just a joke - jeez - Good thing there is no one around, they would probably think I'm crazy talking to a dog."

The sound of running water caught her attention and she momentarily gave up on her quest to remember the dog's name, she wasnt even sure if the name on the locket was her name. But she would borrow it for now. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by DarkHorse

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They emerged from the densely wooded area to find a small stream babbling happily across the land. A deer that was drinking from it startled at their sudden appearance and darted away, the dog took off chasing it. 

"Hey you!" She yelled after it, "Leave the poor creature alone!"

The dog ignored her and loped off into the woods. Zafira sighed and looked around to ensure there was no one near....why there would be anyone near in the middle of the wood was beyond her, but she looked around all the same. When she felt relatively confident there were none nearby she stripped off her clothing and set to scrubbing it as best as she could in the stream. Some of the dirt and blood came off, but it appeared most of it was caked into her clothing and would stay there for a while. She lay her clothes out on a rock to dry and splashed into the stream, the water stinging on her battered form. She scrubbed as gently as she could to get the dirt and grime off her body and dunked her head and rinsed out her hair. She popped up out of the brook with a strangled gasp and cursed the stinging pain that radiated from her forehead down to her chin. The water was moving too quickly for her to see her reflection, so she assumed she must have a large cut on her face. 

The sound of sticks and twigs snapping in the woods drew her attention and her heart flew into her throat. Perhaps the people that did this to her realized she wasn't dead and were returning to finish the job.....It was the dog, he leapt through the trees with a dead rabbit flopping out of his mouth. He dropped it on the side of the stream and barked. 

"What in the golden shore's name are you doing leaping out on me like that!" She exclaimed.

The dog suddenly became excited and leapt about for a moment, barking madly. 

"Alright alright, thank you for finding us some food." She said with a roll of her eyes, "Now get over here and let me wash you...you stink."

He bounded into the water and with an ungraceful splash sent water flying everywhere. Zafira none too gently scrubbed the mud, dirt and grime off the dog. He happily let her, lapping up the water as it rushed past him. 

"You may be clean but you still stink." She crinkled up her nose, "and I know for a fact that it is not me that smells that badly." 

He looked at her as if offended and climbed out of the water, he walked over to her nearly dried clothes and looked back at her. 

"Dont you dare-" She began.

He shook, getting water all over her nearly dried clothes. 

"Ugh!" She emerged from the water and sat on a rock, she flipped her clothes over to dry the other side of them and tried to gently comb out the knotted mass of hair on her head. 

She flinched as the tugging hurt her bruised and cut scalp. 

"How do you propose I prepare that rabbit huh?" she asked, "I dont have anything to skin it with..."

He nosed the rocks beneath his paws, she noticed several of them looked rather sharp. 

"Not a bad idea, its worth a try." She said, "That is supposing I can start a fire." 

He looked at her wagging his tail.

"No help there huh?' She asked flinching as she worked on a particularly matted section of hair, "Too bad I cant just magic a fire eh?"

She could have sworn the dog rolled his eyes at her.

"Why do I get the feeling you know more about me than I do?" She asked glaring at him. 

 

 

 

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The dog continued to stare at her and wag his tail, he looked at her expectantly. 

"Look -" she told him, "I'm not going to make any guarantees that I can prepare this thing, I have no idea how to start a fire."

Again he rolled his eyes at her and barked. 

"Its not like I can hold out my hand and say 'fire!' and expect it to appear!" She told him, "that would be magic and as far as I can tell, thats not possible." 

She felt a burning in her chest and she thumped it with her fist several times to ease it. It continued to grow and the dog barked at her excitedly, he was leaping around again. Zafira turned her head and blew out a hot breath as if it could get rid of the burning, a stream and red hot flames shot out from her mouth and disappeared with the burning sensation. 

She blinked in surprise, falling backwards off the rock she was sitting on. The dog bounded over to her and licked her face. 

"Argh!" She tried to push him off, "What was that!" 

He barked in her face, causing her splitting headache to return. She pushed him off again and stood, rubbing her backside. She saw a trail of scorched rocks that were proof of her new found talent. She blinked at them, tendrils of smoke snaked up from the bits of burnt grass that lived between the rocks. 

"I'm going crazy..." She said sitting down and clutching her head, she flinched and eased her grip, "First I'm talking to the dog and now I think I can breathe fire....I must have really knocked my head..."

The dog gave an annoyed bark. 

"Look here sparky -" She shook her finger at him, "Logical human beings do not believe they can communicate with animals or breathe fire -" 

He growled and lay down next to the dead rabbit, he let out a huff and refused to look at her. 

"Give me that rabbit," she said picking up a sharp rock, "If this is a delusion, then at least I will fill my belly with what I think is cooked meat." 

The dog continued to ignore her and she stood and snatched the rabbit from next to him. She slapped it down on the rock and skinned it, gutted it and drained it of blood. It was messy work, she was glad she left her clothing drying on the nearby rocks or she would have gotten them even more messy. She wandered to the dense brush next to the stream and found a thick stick, she made it pointed at one end and stuck it through the rabbit. She took a deep breath in and blew it out - nothing came out. She tried again, the dog groaned and covered his eyes with his paws. Zafira thought about the burning sensation in her chest before, she thought about fire and took another deep breath in, hot air swirling in her chest and she blew out. The resulting stream of fire caused the dog to jump out of the way and the rabbit to be nearly incinerated. When the stream stopped the remaining charred caracas of the rabbit was smoking pathetically. 

"Shit." She sighed, "I didn't think that would happen..better than nothing I suppose." 

The dog slunk back towards her from his hiding place in the bushes, he was covered in bits of stick and burdock. Zafira laughed at him and broke off a piece of the rabbit before tossing the rest to the dog. He caught it in his mouth and carried it a distance away, looking at her warily.

"Look, I didn't mean to nearly incinerate you too." She apologized, "I don't know how this thing works..."

With a sickening crunch the dog chewed on the charred rabbit. Zafira took a tentative bite and made a face nearly spitting it out, it was incredibly crispy, not an ounce of it was tender, it was burnt through. She chewed it anyway and forced herself to swallow, she nearly threw it up. She forced herself to eat the remaining bit she had, recognizing she needed some form of food if she wanted to survive. 

When she finished she put on her nearly dried clothing and watched the dog play with the remaining bits of rabbit. He didn't seem to mind that she burnt the shit out of it. 

"Stop that." She said crossly, "Get over here so I can get that crap out of your fur."

He shook the charred remains causing it to shred and the bones to go flying in all directions before approaching her. She took great care to pull all the burdock and sticks and leaves from his fur and sat back with a sigh.

"Well, we are clean - ish, fed - kind of, and I cleaned out most of my wounds - I think..." She mused, looking up at the pink orange and red hues of the sky, "It looks like it will be night soon, so we have two choices...camp here for the night or keep wandering...What do you think?"

The dog stretched and yawned, laying down. 

"Yeah, I suppose you are right." She said, "We should probably sleep...."

She set about gathering all sorts of leaves and moss and pulled up a section of brush, making herself a nice little hidden nest to lay down in. By the time she finished it was dark and she could barely see the hand in front of her face. She didn't dare risk a fire given the rabbit disaster, she didn't want to set the forest of fire on accident. The dog sniffed around until he found her hidden nest and lay next to her, his furry body keeping her warm. She curled in next to him and closed her eyes.

"Chase away any big bad beasties for me yeah?" She said sleepily before drifting off. 

 

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Zafira opened a bleary eye, the sun was just peeking up over the horizon, the stream continued to babble on the other side of her make shift bed. The dog was still sleeping soundly next to her. She startled to find a squirrel at her feet staring at her, her head tipped to the side. 

"Good morning." Zafira pushed her messy hair out of her face, "If I can call it that." 

Her head was still pounding, the cut on her face burning. 

"You don't happen to know of any herbs that would help with this headache would you?" She asked the squirrel jokingly. 

It twitched its tail and disappeared, Zafira lay back down and threw her arm over her eyes. She groaned and tried to block out the pain that was radiating in her head. 

She felt something run up her leg and she sat up with a surprised startle. The squirrel was sitting on her leg, a leafy herb held in its mouth, it dropped it on her leg and chattered at her. 

"I can chew on it just like this?" She asked.

The squirrel tipped its head to the side again and made a chattering noise.

"Alright..." She said popping the bitter herb in her mouth, praying it was not poisonous. 

She made a face as she chewed, the squirrel continued to watch her with interest, its head now tipped to the other side. She swallowed and pursed her lips together to keep from throwing it back up...her headache was easing slightly. 

"Thank you friend!" She said brightly, her stomach grumbled. 

The squirrel hopped up and ran off again. It returned moments later with a berry in its paws. It stuffed it in its mouth and ran back into the woods. Zafira watched the squirrel do this several more times before realizing the poor creature was trying to show her where to get breakfast. 

She stood with a groan and when the squirrel returned, she followed it. She came across a massive berry bush, the luscious red and purple berries ripe and delicious looking. She gathered as many as she could in her shirt before heading back to the stream. The dog was still sleeping, his legs up in the air. 

"Some guard dog you make." She said as she walked past.

He leapt up with an ungainly bounce and followed her towards the stream. 

"I made an unlikely friend." She told him, "And look what she got us."

She tossed him a large berry. He caught it in his mouth with a snap and chewed on it happily. Zafira ate one as well and tossed him another. They continued like this until all the berries were gone. She smiled and stood with a stretch.

"Well, what do you propose we do today?" She asked, "Shall we begin our wandering?"

He barked and wagged his tail. 

"Yes, I agree, we should definitely begin to wander...but in which direction?"

He stood and began to walk into the woods. 

"Hey wait for me!" She cried following him. 

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When she caught up to him she began to sing a jaunty tune.  Her voice casting a hazy web around them as they walked, its booming sound rebounding off the trees.

"Away we go, our feet will tread,

Not a memory in my head.

Where our feet will take us now,

Is only know by this hound!" 

When she said hound, he let out a rather on key howl as if adding to the song. She winked at him, "nice!"

"No road in sight,

No food or bed,

An adventure is upon us, soooooooo

Away we go, our paws will walk,

Creatures alike come and talk!

This dog my friend,

He will defend,

So I fear not the beasties of the forest!" 

She ended with a flourish. The dog looked at her at this last verse.

"Yeah it didn't fit in so well." She agreed, "I'll need to work on it. So where are we going anyway?" 

He barked.

"Well, I have no idea where that is...." She said with uncertainty, "Is it - safe?"

He growled and barked.

"Yes it matters if it is safe!" She retorted, "I hardly think wandering about with just the two of us is the smartest of ideas." 

He rolled his eyes at her and they emerged from the wood onto a winding road. She looked up and saw a what she could only describe as a massive air ship flying through the sky in the direction they were walking. 

"Whoah!" She exclaimed, "What is that thing?" 

"Watch out there!" A shocked yell grabbed her attention and the dog yanked her out of the way by her pants. 

A man on a tall horse skidded to a stop, barely missing her. The horse snorted.

"Oh, Hello -" Zafira said shakily, "Sorry about that-"

"Damn right you should be." The man growled, "I nearly killed you.

"I wasn't apologizing to you!" She counted, "To your horse, poor girl thought for sure I was a gonner."

Zafira ran her hand up the mare's nose and she snorted into it. Zafira smiled at him.

"Right nice horse you have there..." She said.

"Who the hell are you?" He demanded, completely bewildered by her lack of caution.

She looked up at him, "Zafira - " She didn't add that she wasn't sure, something told her it wasn't the best of ideas to let a stranger know she lost her memories. 

"Zafira -" The man said incredulously, "Where are you from 'Zafira?'" 

The man clearly didn't believe that was her real name, well that was fine by her because at least they agreed on something. The dog barked, distracting him for a moment. A cart, hovering above the ground zoomed past them, kicking up dirt and creating a cloud of dust around them. When the dust settled, he turned his attentin back to her.

"What the hell happened to you?" He asked, "You look like shit."

She was taken aback by his straight forwardness.

"Is that how you are supposed to talk to a lady?" She demanded, waiving her hand grandly, "I was on my way to visit my dear Grrrandma when I was attacked no less by bandits! They took nearly all I had!" 

She worked up an impressive fake tear, the dog hung his head. The man looked between the two of them, completely unsure of what to make of them. He began to laugh, he didn't believe a word of her story, but the pair looked so bedraggled that he couldn't help but feel a twinge of sympathy. He hopped down off the horse and tossed the reins over her head. 

"Alright, you keep your secrets." He said, letting her know he didn't believe her, "Since you are walking this way, I am assuming you are heading to Katukar?"

Zafira looked down at the dog from the corner of her eye, he barked in agreement.

"Yep, thats exactly where we are heading." She said with a bright smile.

He sighed, "I'll walk you there. But let me warn you, if you are some sort of bandit or you try to do me harm I can do some serious damage with fire magic. I wont go down without a fight."

Zafira's hands flew up in innocence, "On this dogs grave I swear I really mean no harm!" 

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He looked at her skeptically before beginning to walk along with her. 

"That cut on your face - " He said, "It looks infected." 

"Stings like it is infected." Zafira agreed, "I'll need to find a doctor."

"And somewhere to bathe and new clothes." He wrinkled his nose, "you two stink!" 

"Yeah -" She had the decency to look a little embarrassed.

"Good thing you are paying your dear old grandmother a visit eh?" He asked her. 

"Oh - um" Zafira tried to think quickly, the dog barked a few times, "She is uh in the next town over - uh -"

"Merdoth?" He asked with a grin, he couldn't help it.

"Yeah!" She agreed, "That place!" 

"Look," He leveled her with his gaze, "You aren't bullshitting anyone with that story. Judging by the gash on your head and the egg over that eye of yours, you probably don't have a pearl of memory left in that head right now."

She looked at him in surprise. He laughed.

"I would know- I am the doctor." He said clarifying, "I'm no stranger to these parts by any means, and I know for a fact that Merdoth was destroyed a while back, there isn't a soul in it..." 

"Perhaps she is in a different village?" She asked with uncertainty.

"Don't worry, I wont blow your cover." He said, "Good thing you have that dog around, looks like he probably saved your neck more than once. A few things about Katukar you should know - the people aren't unfriendly per say, but they are suspicious of outsiders, especially after what happened in Merdoth. Without the proper amount of coin you wont get anything."

"I can play for it - " She said with a wink, "That is if I can get some strings." 

The doctor sighed, "I can get you some strings, and heal those cuts, but don't go expecting anything more from me. You should get what you need and get out as soon as you can. The longer you stay the more suspicious people will become." 

Several more carts zoomed by, kicking up more dust. The first houses and farms passed them by as they walked into the increasingly busy town. 

"You are going to want to start at the tavern." He said, "I will leave you there, get my supplies and some strings and come back to heal you. The owner is generous and more used to outsiders and odd folk, like you - and your dog. You will likely be able to play to earn a few coins, some food and some clothes."

Zafira smiled at him, it caused the cut on her face to pull and sting. Further conversation was made difficult by the sound of the rather busy town. The bits of debris of confetti, papers and colorful banners made it look as if there was some sort of festival not too long ago. The Tavern loomed ahead of them, tucked between an apothecary and a magi-tech shop. A brightly colored and decorated sign said "The singing moose." 

When they entered there was a thunderous roar of applause and cheering in greeting. Zafira looked just as in shock as the doctor. A portly woman with greying hair tucked up into a bun swept over to them. 

"There you are!" She cried excitedly, then took in her appearance with growing horror, "What in the world happened to you?!" 

Zafira exchanged confused looks with the Doctor, the dog however, looked as if he expected this greeting.

"Oh never mind!" She said, mistaking the confused look, "Come in, come in. Tavish! Get our friend here some food and drink! Good doctor, what are you doing standing there? Go and fetch some supplies! This woman is in serious need of healing!"

Shocked out of his stupor, the doctor bolted out of the bar. Zafira tried not to scratch her head in confusion. It was clear she had been here before - however whether this was where she was from, or if she was just visiting was unclear. The woman liked to talk though, so perhaps she could get more information.

"I don't have any coin to pay for the food - " She said haltingly. 

"Oh Posh!" The woman slapped a large bag filled to the brim with coin, "You and your friend left before I could pay you! My tavern has never been so packed before! That contest you two held was might fine! I see you brought a new friend with you this time though....where did the other fellow go?"

Zafira tried desperately to string together the bits the woman was telling her. So she was here, at this tavern, and not too long ago by the sounds of it. She was in some sort of contest, likely a musical one judging by her instrument. Perhaps the man she was in the contest with was the one that did this to her? But if his motivation was coin - well, all the coins were left behind... She looked down at the dog who was trying his best to look as confused as she - she guessed he knew more about it than she or the tavern owner did. 

"I am not sure." She said slowly.

"You didn't know him?" The Tavern owner seemed shocked, "You two seemed very friendly at the time....but you were both very into your cups..."

"Did you catch his name?" Zafira asked.

The woman thought for a long, long moment, "You know- I think I did but it keeps slipping my mind....You came into the tavern, sat down to have a drink and he seemed to just sort of appear, I cant quite remember him coming in or if he was already here....you two boasted of your musical skill and he wagered his instrument - a beautiful thing really - as the prize should you win...You were the very clear winner, and you and he left....I assumed he was going to give you the instrument - a 32 stringed Tambur - strangest thing I have ever seen.... But then again, my tavern has never been so packed before....I made a killing....you both left before I could pay you-"

"Did he seem angry?" Zafira asked.

"No - not at all -" She took the two plates of food from the server and set one down in front of Zafira and one of the floor in front of the dog, "It's on the house! Would you mind playing tonight?" She collected herself, "Of course you and your friend here need a bath and some decent clothes. You can find some clothing in a store down the street called the 'Thimble and Patch.'"

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Goruza trudged wearily down the small road that ran through the countryside. North Genesaris was a beautiful place, flush with verdant wildlife and an almost tropical feel. Her travels as a disciple had brought her here, essentially stable hopping (couch surfing?) through the countryside as she volunteered her time to those in need. It was certainly true that being a disciple of her religion was never dull, her vow to help any good person who was in need led to an interesting lifestyle. Her long, black, braided hair slipped around her shoulder to her front and she brushed single braid behind her back, the long black tresses always seemed to get in the way, she wasn't sure why she hadn't cut it short, nostalgia perhaps? As she focused on taking one step after another down the dusty road her armor clanked in a steady rhythm, her helm especially so from its position at her belt. The weight of it pressing down on her during this long journey, coupled with the dusty haze that sat over the road, dried her throat out to the brink of unbearable. Her water skin had long since been emptied as she walked the distance between the town former town of Merdoth and Katukar, her desire to aid those who had survived its disaster causing her to travel there.

It was well into the afternoon by the time the town of Katukar came into view, the peaks of the buildings cresting the horizon of the road. Traffic coming through the town seemed higher than it should have, which might have been explained away by the remnants of what looked like a celebration, or the fact that Merdoth was a smoking crater and no longer a viable place to ply goods. Either way, it made navigating through the town a bit of a nightmare, and after nearly having been trampled by a runaway cart for the second time she decided a drink was in order. She craned her neck, looking at the artfully painted signs advertising the shops and their contents, trying to spot anything that would signify a tavern or a gathering hall for travelers.

She caught eye of something called "The Singing Moose", almost hidden between two other buildings with frosted windows that prevented you from seeing inside. With a name like that, it had to be a tavern. She approached the building and pushed through the doorway, having to turn slightly to allow her broad shoulders to fit through the doorway. The inside was well lit despite the lack of natural light filtering through the nearly opaque windows, it had a comfortable feel to it. Almost like the living room of a home, familiar. The place was packed to the brim, patrons were practically spilling over into the street and she had to force her way through the crowd, easier said than done considering her large size and stature as a warrior.

She 'found' an open place at the bar, more likely the other patrons had glimpsed her half orc features and the savage scarring on her face, and promptly vacated the immediate area to give her room. She ordered an ale, "Dark and Dwarven", and leaned against the bar to observe the room while she gulped it down. There wasn't anyone particularly interesting in her initial scan, a mixture of the grungy regulars, merchants, and businessmen looking for a cheap meal and a drink. It wasn't until she had finished chugging the ale and was turning to leave the glass on the bar top that she noticed a woman who stuck out like a sore thumb; she was average height, with long, curly deep red hair, a slight frame, and paler than average skin. The thing about her that stuck out, however, was the large gash that ran from her forehead to her jaw, quite similar to the one that adorned her own face in fact. She idly ran a finger along her own scar, almost shivering at the feeling of the bumpy ravine like scar. The woman's gash looked worse than her own had, the skin red and inflamed surrounding the wound, she could practically see the infection of it from here.

Her vow forced her forward, her legs practically moving on their own as she walked over to the table where the woman sat conversing with another. She didn't want to appear intimidating, something she was probably failing at, and tried to minimize her presence.

"Excuse me, I apologize for the interruption. I couldn't help but notice your injury."

She gestured to the woman's face.

"I happen to be a battle medic, and it would please me greatly if you would allow me to treat your injuries."

She accompanied the statement with a smile, hoping the small tusks jutting from the corners of her mouth didn't put the woman off.

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The tavern owners voice trailed off and her eyes grew twice their size as a rather large woman - half orc to be exact - practically loomed over them. Zafira turned to look up at her brightly. The dog at her feet continued to eat hungrily, not at all bothered by their guest. So Zafira assumed she must be alright. 

She pointed to Zafira's face. 

" I happen to be a battle medic, and it would please me greatly if you would allow me to treat your injuries." She said with a smile, her fascinating tusks emerging from the corners of her mouth. 

Zafira had to resist the urge to look closer. The half-Orc's face was a tapestry of battles won and lost. She spotted a scar that no doubt would match her own when the gash healed. 

"The good doctor will be back shortly and he will see to it!" The tavern owner was quick to say with a stammer. 

"She looks more than competent." Zafira smiled at her, "No use bothering the doctor any more than necessary today. Why don't you fetch my new friend here a beer?"

The dog barked.

"And one for this glutton- in a bowl if you please, he can't drink it out of a mug. Don't put too much in it, he likes to cause trouble when he is drunk." 

The tavern owner looked flustered but did as she was asked and quickly fled to the kitchens. 

"If you can get this incessant burning to stop then I would be much appreciative." She said, "It hurts something fierce." 

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Goruza politely ignored the second woman's obvious discomfort at her presence, it wasn't the first time and it wouldn't be the last. She smiled in appreciation at the red haired woman's compliment, she was indeed competent. Probably more so than any mundane doctor could ever hope be. She pulled a spare chair out from the table and eased herself into it, pleased to finally have somewhere to rest her weary body from the trip, the smile on her face deepening as her muscles relaxed. 

"I'm known as Goruza, but everyone just calls me Gore for short."

She unbuckled the gauntlet on her right hand, pulling it free to reveal her light green fingers. Reaching out to touch the injured side of the woman's face, she hesitated, should she inform her that the initial healing would be painful? Better not, better to distract her with something else. She placed her fingers gently against the skin around the wound, just barely touching, like a breathe of air. The wound looked minor, a clean gash with no jagged tearing, the only concerning thing was the obvious signs of the beginning of an infection. She focused, feeling the latent energy inside of herself, and willed it through her fingertips. She smiled sadly as the magic left her, pulling free of her arm and leaving behind micro-tears as it left, they weren't visible to the naked eye, but they would ache for some time. She had been told that the feeling of her healing was somewhat euphoric to others, a sort of fullness of self that left the patient relaxed and content. Possibly a side effect of needing to keep the patient sedated during further healing, she didn't know, it wasn't her place to question her religion.

She relaxed again, subtly cradling her arm in her lap as the bone deep ache set in. The pain in the woman would be subsiding as the magic went to work, knitting the flesh back together and destroying the infection, within the hour it would be completely healed, the only remnant of the gash a slight discoloration of a scar.

"I didn't realize that dogs could drink beer, does he do that often?"

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She introduced herself as Goruza, 'Gore' for short. Zafira tipped her head slightly to the side, what a curious name. As she pondered it, Gore's light green fingers hovered over the cut on her face. A sharp, burning pain lanced down the side of Zafira's face, she tried hard not to flinch or jerk away. The dog on the floor jerked his head up and studied Gore with a serious expression, sniffing the air before laying down. 

Nearly as quickly as it began, it started to fade, the memory of the initial pain practically erased. She almost felt a little sleepy, like after eating a big warm meal. 

"I didn't realize that dogs could drink beer, does he do that often?"  

Gore's question pulled her out of her stupor. She blinked, feeling rather stupid for a moment. Most dogs didn't drink beer - so why had hers just asked for a small one, so he didn't get into trouble no less? Zafira asked for it without much of a thought. She frowned down at the dog that was now pretending to be engrossed in something on the floor. 

"Great question - " Zafira looked back at Gore, "I'm guessing this one does....I mean he is the one that asked for it...."

A serving girl, her arms stacked with plates mugs and bowls approached the table. She weaved through the crowded tavern and somehow managed not to spill a drop. She piled the plates of food on the table and set a mug in front of Gore. She placed the bowls of food and beer on the floor in front of the dog. The dog leapt up and began to messily eat and drink, scattering foamy beer and mutton across the tavern floor. 

"Will you quit making such a mess?!" Zafira exclaimed.

The dog growled at her and continued to ear and drink messily. 

Zafira's stomach gave an embarrassingly loud grumble, all she had to eat in the last day and a half was charred rabbit and berries. It appeared as if the tavern owner sent every dish she made out to her....if only she could remember the contest - or even her life before it. She took a deep drink from her own mug of beer before looking back up at Gore. She looked nearly as travel worn and tired as Zafira felt - and probably looked. 

She pushed some of the plates towards Gore, "Take what you like! It is always nice to share with new found friends. Especially ones who heal me, it already feels better!"

She shoveled some of the warm bread with honey drizzled on it into her mouth and chewed it before asking the least of the bursting questions in her mind. 

"Why are you called Gore?" 

 

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Gore eyed the woman with interest, the dog had asked for it? Had she heard that right? Her eyes flicked down to the large animal as it inspected the floor with apparent interest, was the dog more than a dog? Or was the woman more than she seemed as well? She had met very few people who had the capability of shape shifting or communicating with animals, so who was to say? Her line of thought was interrupted as a serving girl swept expertly up to the table, arms laden with more food than she thought was possible for one person to eat, and laid them out with impressive dexterity.

She chuckled at the woman's outburst as she scolded the large dog, raising one arm to block the flying beer and slobber from the voracious animal. It seemed that their relationship was less of master and companion, and more of something along the lines of true friendship. It felt good to laugh, after a long few days of traveling alone she almost craved companionship. With the stress leaving her shoulders and chest she accepted the beer, taking a quick sip to wet her throat after the exertion of healing Zafira's injury. Then, at Zafira's behest, scooped up a piece of meat that was ladled with a thick sauce and popped it into her mouth. The meat was tender, obviously having been stewing for several hours already. She eyed the bread with interest, it was dark, like a sweet molasses bread covered in freshly cut oats. She broke off half the loaf and started picking at it, determined not to over eat, but enjoying the wonderful flavor.

She nodded to Zafira, "Thank you, I appreciate your generosity and willingness to share."

Her question about why she was called Gore caught her by surprise, and she leaned back away from the table, her surprise likely evident on her face. Her hand reached up reflexively to touch the small tusks that jutted from the corner of her mouth, she hesitated, realizing that she was about to run her fingertips across the razor sharp points of the tusks. At the last second she redirected her hand, running her fingers across her bottom lip instead. A pensive look settled on her face, the question had struck a nerve, though she was certain the woman hadn't intended to do so.

"When you grow up in a 'Savage Orc Tribe', like I did, things are much... different... than in civilized society. Being a half-orc only made this worse, Orc kind are not known for tolerance, and their xenophobic tendencies meant that I received more than my fair share of abuse. Half-Orc bastard children aren't exactly praised or encouraged in their culture. Most of the scars on my body are from fighting with other full blooded orcs, they were brutal and remorseless, and tended to want to fight me just so they could remind me how inferior I was to them. Eventually I became strong enough to fight back, and to win. The first Orc that I fought to the death, I gored him to death with my tusks, proving that despite my human blood, I was still Orc enough to kill them."

Her mind was a cloudy haze of memory, flashbacks to a time of war and pain, suffering. It wasn't something that she enjoyed reminiscing about, but it was important to always remember, to always proudly wear her nickname, to embrace who she was. She waved her hand in front of her face, as if to clear away the memories that plagued her.

"I don't like to think about it often, bad memories and all that. So tell me, what's your name? And, if you don't mind me asking, how did you receive those injuries?"

Edited by Grimshar

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Zafira paused, a piece of roasted pheasant half way to her mouth as Gore told her story. Very obviously failing at hiding her memorized and fascinated state. How did a half-orc bastard, treated so cruelly, end up so kind hearted? 

Realizing she was staring, mouth open, she stuffed the pheasant into her mouth and chewed, swallowing it with the rest of her questions. Even her dog was staring at her with bewilderment, she gave him a nudge with her foot and he resumed eating too. She would have to sate her curiosity later as the memories seemed very painful for Gore, she said as much. Zafira didn't like the look of pain on her face, she much preferred her smile. 

"So tell me, what's your name? And, if you don't mind me asking, how did you receive those injuries?" Gore asked her. 

Bother and bother, how was she supposed to answer that. Truthfully she supposed, seeing as Gore had been so kind as to help her. The dog looked at her expectantly, almost as if daring her to answer without looking utterly insane. She grinned sheepishly and looked around quickly before answering, the tavern was far too loud for her to be overheard anyway, these people held her in high esteem for some reason, she didn't want to ruin it lest it destroy her chances at clean clothes, food and supplies. 

"The name is Zafira - at least I think it is." She continued to grin, "I couldn't tell you how I got these injuries....I woke up in the woods without any memories, a splitting headache, a crappy looking instrument and this glutton here." The dog belched in response. She ignored him and leaned in closer to Gore, "what I do know is that I was in some sort of musical contest here a few nights back with this other bloke. He wagered his instrument as the prize, a 32 stringed Tambur - as if that actually exists - I must have been blitzed out of my mind to believe such a story. Anyway - I won, and according to the tavern owner, we left together....didn't even take our earnings." 

The dog, suddenly tense, relaxed and lay back down on the floor. Zafira glared down at him.

"I suspect he knows what happened." She said with a frown, "But he isn't telling." 

She sighed and shrugged, trying hard not to itch at her healing cut, it was beginning to itch something fierce.

"Is this thing supposed to itch?" She asked, the sensation nearly driving her insane. 

 

Edited by DarkHorse

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