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Moths to the Flame :: A Story of Coth

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Like a wind, the story of Coth swept across Terrenus. 

A church, a town, a dream of a new world. The promise of Coth had emptied the thorps and villages of the countryside, a great migration of the scared and scarred and desperate slouched toward a new destiny for the realm. They came in droves, farmers and craftsmen and beggars alike, all the people without tears left to cry came to Coth, all the children without parents, all the survivors, all the broken and ill used. They came with nothing, and it was said that once they reached the Church on the Hill, they received. 

New homes, fresh fields, things unheard of in war-torn terrenus lived on in Coth. And the people spoke of the guarantor, the prophet, the priest. Constans. His green fire had swept back the evils of the world, the stories said. Below the ruins of the old Gaian church around which Coth had sprung, this man had created the seed of a new order in the world. One civilization, one people, one god. Peace and prosperity. Freedom and respect for all men who were willing to work for it. 

Anger lived in Coth too. Righteous fury at the world which had caused such needless suffering. Coth represented for some a place where that anger could be transformed into a solution. It was a place where a man no longer had to cower in fear of the overlord, where the only law was kindness and the only command was decency. Those who came followed the priest by choice, not obligation. The deliverer turned away only those who sought to bring harm to the world. Opinions here were not secrets to be hidden and yet somehow, despite it all, harmony remained. For when men were free to think as they pleased, and given good work to temper their vices, they thought rather of the promise of tomorrow than the injuries of yesterday. 

They didn't have to seethe over the world's injustices. They had faith that the father of Coth would set them right. 

This story is the story of those sort of people who journeyed to this fabled land: victims of betrayal, injured by ill society. Theirs is a story that would be told again and again in a thousand different forms, with a thousand different faces. These were the people who were destined to herald the new world that was promised by the new god. What bound them was hope, as you will see.  

@LikelyMissFortune @Moon Owl

Edited by Vansin

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It was the little boys that first gathered in the village square.

They would sit there, in little groups and do what most little boys did; holler and scream and run around. They threw rocks at dogs and relieved themselves out in the open. The ones with missing limbs, however, just sat where they were, staring at each other. Those ones never spoke.

They were always there first, long before the wives of the village folk would stir to do their usual labour. 

 Make fire, heat water, make breakfast. Come tumbling out of their little hovels, or their great stone houses- pinch faced. Eyes watery.

 For Odille, the prospect of being the wife of the village folk was far more pitiable than the plight of those boys. It was a thankless, terrifying one- being tied down to some smelly, old merchant or farmer or tradesman. 

 A prospect most of her friends had chosen, so soon after the war; bending gracefully to their parents will.

 Yes, Father, they had all said, I’ll marry Billy.

 There was never a different option for them, it seemed. And, despite Odille’s barely arched ears, it seemed it was her destiny too.

 No, Father, She had wanted to scream. I will not marry Billy.

 The shock of the news, however, made her smile and graciously say nothing. But there was another choice for Odille. There had been news, of a Church- her Father spoke lowly of it, and that’s how she knew it was an institute of note. A day’s ride away, Coth seemed like the perfect place for her.

 If not perfectly permanent, at least a place to help start off.

 How he’d even managed to find a prospective son-in-law, Odille couldn’t say.

 The villagers had always treated her with barely concealed suspicion, at best. Especially the older ones, they cursed at her if she passed by them, making the sign to ward off the evil eye. Even now, the village boys were staring at her- stick thin figures, most of them, their hollering hushed and muted now as they observed her. She quickened her pace, drawing her heavy woollen cape around her a bit more securely.

 They couldn’t harm her. Odille was at least a quarter elf- stronger than a rabble of under nourished, maimed little boys. The sky was beginning to lighten now, however, she needed to hurry- smoke already trailing lazily from the village inn, her destination. It didn’t take much for her to slip into the rickety shed that served as the stable- to discover three horses. Two were from whatever visitors were staying up at the little inn at the moment, one a dark, tall creature- the other was smaller mud colored mare. Her steed however, was a grey dappled mare.

 Softly, she hummed so as to not draw anyone’s attention towards her, the horses did not neigh or even move- the mare, accordingly stayed silent. She continued to hum, the tune from a story she had learned recently. 

“I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream
I know you, the gleam of your eyes are so familiar a gleam”

 She had to saddle the horse quickly- light swept through the cracks from the thatched roof above. The stable boy was frequently at the farm for milk, and, as a result was easily persuaded to leave the stable unoccupied during the wee hours of morning. 

 Odille didn’t bother to lead the mare, heffer, as she had named it out of the stable, instead, pulling herself on to the saddle. The horse neighed, finally, when Odille stopped humming. 

 By now, she gauged, forcing the mare to trot out of the stable, veering it around on to the street- earning a fair amount of suspicious looks from the stirring folk. They all looked like 

 She leaned forward, and with a pull of the harness she forced the mare into a hard gallop Eastbound. By now, Papa, would’ve noticed I’ve been missing.  The thundering horse finally alerted the residence in the inn of suspicious activity- in fact it seemed the whole village was out and about. Barely light, but still getting up to do their work. 

“... Stop Her!”


 Odille streamed past them, a gust of wind and the deafening sound of Heffer's thundering hooves. The gallop made her feel as though she were flying, leaving behind her home and family, in hopes of finding something better. Talk has been filtering through- about how wonderful, wonderful religion was. The church of Green Fire, some had called it, with miracles and justice, and all those things those troubadour’s talked about. 

How could she resist such a temptation?

 The town of Coth was only a day’s ride away from the Village. But, it took Odille the better half of two days to get to the west ward plains, following the curves and bend of the river bank. There were too many people on the road, the wounds of war had left marks on the land, it was never completely safe to travel by yourself. 
 But, it had left her sore and bruised, her rations of hard cheese, bread and grain for Heffer were running low. 

 She could just let Heffer graze, while she dug into the grain- but it wasn’t too good of an idea to

 Especially this close to Blairsville, five days on foot North East. It was with dread she noted that the closer she drew to this town upon the hill, the more she sensed of some kind of wrong having taken place.

 There was talk of invaders, a couple of days before she left- Odille wasn’t allowed out of her room for the better part of the week because of that.

 Now, with the wind blowing west ward, and the smell of burning flesh, Odille faced the prospect that maybe, maybe she shouldn’t hadn’t made the right decision after all.

 Even Heffer seemed to not want to go forward, neighing and bucking when urged. Odille’s body ached as well, and her throat was dry- cracked. She was sure her thighs were chafed raw and bloody from the ride now. There were blisters on her hand the size of grapes. She had to stretch. Do something.

 But, when she slipped off of the horse, her legs buckled- and with a yelp she fell face first onto the buddy bank. Heffer whinnied and neighed, almost sarcastically.

“You stupid, stupid beast.”

 Anger wouldn't solve her problems- especially not on her horse, neither wished to continue onwards- into the actual waiting arms of death, perhaps.  Odille was at a stand still- dirty, muddy and exhausted by the bank of the river.

"And I know it's true that visions are seldom what they seem"

Edited by LikelyMissFortune

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“So, do you think these rumors are true?” Cedric Échelot Dermont asked the question that had been their central point of focus for the last few weeks. Seeking council regarding the legitimacy of these the claims that had reached them, he turned to his cousin Ezekiel Béchardieu Dermont.

“Could it be possible that the stories are accurate, and that there is the possibility of spiritual redemption in under the guidance of this Cothic church?” The origins of this newly arisen faith had proven to have remained an elusive mystery even after several inquiries surrounding the validity of the news coming out of both Blairville and Dougton about the fallout of the devastating civil war that have ravaged the land of Terrenus.

While the those born into power had sought to take advantage of the conflict to indulge in their own greedy ambitions, it was the people of Terrenus that had been the victims of the gluttony of their masters. It sickened him to think about how their misguided aspirations had caused so much suffering, so much death. From his perspective, their ravenous cravings to further their own agendas and grow fat on the misery of the land had corrupted their minds and tainted their eternal souls. They had to be stopped.

“I cannot say for certain, however I wouldn’t put too much stock in these tales.” Ezekiel turned to face away from Cedric and instead observe the crushing outcome of the civil war that had been overbearingly apparent as they have traveled the land.  

“For the people here have been suffering greatly from the civil war and thus it’s possible they might alter the already seemingly convoluted truth in order to give ease to the gloomy realization of their own suffering and personal anguish.” The old man concluded before turning back to Cedric again.

“Perhaps we should find out the truth of these claims for ourselves, eh?” He proposed.

“Make the necessary preparations, we will depart for the city of Coth at first light.” He did not take long to consider the proposal, nor to entertain further speculation regarding the accuracy of the reports. For better or worse, they would find out the truth for themselves.  

-  Several days later  -


The entourage of Cedric Échelot Dermont had begun their final approach to the Coth, the city upon the hill.

The party consisted of him, his cousin Ezekiel Béchardieu Dermont, his wife Nevaeh Farran Dermont, her brother Zacharias Farran and their daughter Brianna Échelot Dermont. 

In their progress to their destination, the road had been a tainted canvas painted with the grim misfortune and grievous afflictions of the people of Terrenus when the party came across a seemingly youthful elf woman standing in the middle of the road. Cedric gestured to halt their advance and they stopped close enough to make conversation. By the looks of it, it seemed like she have had a difficult time travelling the lonesome road all by herself.  

“Good day to you, Miss.” Cedric greeted her plainly but still in a respectful fashion, hoping his words would draw her attention if their advance hadn’t already.

“My name is Cedric Dermont.” He paused for a moment to allow her to respond to his introduction before he would continue.

“We’re travelling to Coth in order to inquire about the newly established Cothic church. I pray that I am not overstepping by asking this, but do you know if the rumors floating about is true?” He paused again.

“That this supposed Prophet has truly provided divine providence?” He waited for her reply while hoping that his questions had not given offense.

Edited by Moon Owl

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Another set whinnying, however, caught Odille off guard. It was followed by the unmistakable sound of approaching journeymen. 

A group.

Cowshit and crows.

It was a proper entourage, approaching from the South- Odille had been so enwrapped by her thoughts she seemed to missed the tell-tale signs of travellers. She grabbed Heffer’s reigns, pushing herself up, just in time to face these strangers. There were five of them.

They seemed dangerous, wealthy merchants judging by their clothing. The two women looked haughty, one young, the other old- the men looked dangerous, like they were just waiting to cut her to pieces on the spot.
Odille, clutched her reigns close, shuffling closer to Heffer, sweat beading on the top of her lips, she was ready to bolt.

“Good day to you, Miss.”

 The tone was respectable, she immediately assessed that the speaker was not from these parts, he looked to be around fifty, at least, judging by the lines on his face and his hair- starting high and already fading to grey. She relaxed a little, just enough to lead Heffer to the side of the road, closer to the river bank. “My name is Cedric Dermont.”

“Good day, sir-- I.. Sir.” She paused, drawing a calming breath- forcing her voice to stop trembling. If they were gonna cut you down, it would’ve happened already. “My name is Odi… Odille Rothbart.” Her answer was a touch too melodic, Heffer stopped moving beside her, Odille kept her head lowered.

“We’re travelling to Coth in order to inquire about the newly established Cothic church. I pray that I am not overstepping by asking this, but do you know if the rumors floating about is true?”

“P-pardon, Sir?” She was surprised to hear the name of the Church, “There is indeed a Church town- not half a day’s ride to the East.” She clarified, stepping back, towards the river bank, her shoes squelching into the mud.

“I’m afraid the raiders may have gotten there before us, Sir.”  Heffer was far too obedient, now, her voice cloyingly smooth.

“That this supposed Prophet has truly provided divine providence?” 

“I’m not… not too sure myself, Sir” She could barely spit the words out, “I travel to Coth, to find an answer to that question as well, Sir. I’m a bard, see.” 

 Now, she wished they would cut her down- and her eyes darted to the darker skinned man mounted next to this Cedric Dermont. She was no bard, just a part elf peasant with a half decent voice. 

God, help me.

Edited by LikelyMissFortune

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“I see.” Cedric observed the young woman as she spoke. While her ambition seemed harmless enough, he couldn’t shake the feeling that she wasn’t letting on the full truth about her reasoning to travel to Coth. Perhaps it would be best to keep an eye on the elf woman, at least for the time being. After all, it seemed like they were headed in the same direction.

“It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Odille Rothbart.” He nodded as a polite gesture following his words, then shifted his attention to his wife momentarily and called her to his side. Her brother decided to follow her in her advance to his side. Nevaeh smiled politely towards Odille as her and her brother entered the conversation at her husband’s request.

“What is it, my love?” She inquired while remaining attentive towards her husband.

“I’ve just learned that this young woman shares our destination. I was thinking of proposing that we could travel together.” His proposal caused her to again shift her attention towards Odille and she took a moment to inspect the woman.

“Apparently she is a Bard and would surely make the tedious roads in front of us much more pleasant, don't you think?” Cedric consulted his spouse for her opinions. Something that would surely prove his respect and devotion towards her judgement but also prudence. For this was troubled times with fire and steel ravaging throughout the land of Terrenus, and thus one would be wise to be cautious not be dragged into the conflict personally.

“She's a Bard, you say?” Nevaeh face lit up in an unconscious reaction to the revelation.

“I think we would be delighted to have you accompany us on our way to the city of Coth, Odille Rothbart.” She concluded while still conducting herself formally and in a polite manner and then turned to her brother that had remained at her side when she was called to Cedric.

“Zacharias, be a darling and see to the lady’s needs. It must have been a terrible ordeal, travelling alone with the threat of this terrible conflict still lingering in the air.” She instructed her brother before she would turn and remove herself from the conversation in favor of returning to their daughter who had been kept at a distance with their old but still quite capable and highly accomplished cousin, Ezekiel. Although it had been for her safety, from the looks of it the restriction had not been received well by Brianna.

“Certainly.” Zacharias responded and dismounted his horse and approached the elf. He examined her further as he walked in order to try to determine her condition.

“Are you hurt?” He asked.

Edited by Moon Owl

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Never in her short years had she been so made acutely aware of herself. 

“It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Odille Rothbart.”  It was a relief to nod to that, keeping her eyes firmly on the tuft of mud and grass in front of her feet- churned up by Heffer's hooves. "The pleasure's all mine, Sir."

The Villagers could try, but the heavy, probing gaze of the travellers made her acutely aware of her journey worn appearance- the mud that fully coated the hem of her cloak, the tangles in her hair, worn loosely, tumbling around her shoulders. A feat none of the villagers could accomplish for one simple reason; they were familiar, a constant threat. Constant, but ultimately harmless, if open a hostility. With these strange travellers, however, it was completely unfamiliar sense of apprehension and dread that tingled down her spine. A lone traveller, loose hair, an elf. Even with the presence of the women she felt uneasy, stuck between wishing her face slightly dirtier, and wishing to have none of those pesky tangles in her hair. A mess. A complete and utter mess. 

But, in the way they conducted themselves around at least provided sufficient evidence in what they were. Odille unconsciously mouthed their words- completely fascinated by the soft, foreign accents. The way their 'r's and 'a's were pronounced was softer, more feminine than the way she pronounced her words- she could only imagine the way songs would sound with that sort of accent. Perhaps it would be something she could try out, later. But, her conclusion remained, made stronger by the rarity of the strange lilt and tone of their words- these were noble men, perhaps not so mighty- but a world and then some above her station. It was so apparent, from the way one of the men had stepped in front of the younger woman (Lady, she's a lady, most probably), to the way this Cedric Dermont spoke to the elder one- his wife, Odille felt slightly stupid. Their actions were chivalrous, straight out of the troubadour's ballads. It seemed to be a familial group her- and her curiosity doubled over what possible reason they could have to travel to Coth. 

Let alone the Green fire church.

Weren't they supposed to stand against nobles, and their despotic lifestyle? Would they even be welcomed there? Odille kept these questions to herself, absentmindedly brushing Heffer's mane, smiling sweetly at this Lady, unsure of whether she should curtsy or not- quite unsure of what to do with herself as they discussed her amongst themselves, awkwardly with in earshot- but right then, treated as a child. Be seen, not heard, at least the lady seemed happy pleased at the 'Bard' part.

Odille had a feeling this would either be the greatest mistake, or, the best decision she had made thus far. Needless to say, she smiled shyly at the group, determined to be as pleasant as she could be. “I think we would be delighted to have you accompany us on our way to the city of Coth, Odille Rothbart.”  It was not an offer she could refuse, it would do nothing to look helplessly between the Lord and his Lady- and once more, she was reminded of the difference in her station. Instead, she managed to nod, graciously "Thankyou, Lady, I... hope to be a delight to you as well." It was a struggle to pronounce her words correctly, making a conscious- torturous decision to pronounce her 'r's and vowels and 'h's as delicately as them. It sounded almost perfect. Just slightly farcical on the peasant's tongue, when she had spoken so differently before- she hoped the wouldn't take offence against that. 

“Zacharias, be a darling and see to the lady’s needs. It must have been a terrible ordeal, travelling alone with the threat of this terrible conflict still lingering in the air.” The dark skinned man, who looked much like the lady in question assented- and before Odille could process what happened- he had dismounted his ride and stalked towards her. His strikingly light eyes, caught her offguard, they were trained on her with such an assessing gaze that her muscles locked- bright, fearful eyes trained on his every move. 

Are you hurt?” 

Such was her fear that she forgot that she stood on the slippery, muddy riverbank and the half step she took resulted in her almost loosing her footing- Odille was only able to catch herself by flingning half her weight against Heffer. Thus, she earned another layer and inch of mud on her clogs, and cloak- and a hot flush, that came with the knowledge that she must, indeed look very, very clumsy to these fine folk. Just yesterday, she was practicing arabesques and demi-plié's secretly, in the barn with Bessie- and, now, here she was, being as clumsy as could be when the moment called for her to act with grace. She giggled- in spite of herself, the melodic chime almost garaunteed to instill a calm, jovial atmosphere among her travelling companions, now. How strangely the world works.

"I've been riding hard for a day, Sir," the mirth had brought a new smoothness to her countenance and voice, and she stuck her right hand out for this... gentleman (though, he seemed rather too coarse to be on the same level as Sir Dermont, at least, in her eyes), to see the painful sores and blisters that had formed. "I'm quite alright, I assure you."

And, sheepishly, she added, almost an after thought, "When travelling alone in these parts, it's best to push yourself. The raiders are still nearby, it would be terrible to have come across them without prior warning." That particular mistake, Odille had done- and had almost stumbled upon them- unarmed, by her lonesome. She shuddered to think of the nasty outcome- the lingering smell of burning flesh and decay heavily weighing in on her mind, feebly dismissed with an unconvinced giggle.

Edited by LikelyMissFortune

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When he witnessed her slip in a moment of inattentiveness, Zacharias moved to catch her if she would have fallen. However it was by the grace of her strong mount that she managed to remain on her feet. The event seemed to have caused further apprehensiveness as she turned her gaze away. He smiled as he continued his approach and proceeded to position himself at the other side of the well kept mane of her horse. There he patted the creature and then began to brush its mane with his fingers and palm downstream while appreciating its hardy and strong composure. Glancing back at her he did his best to make sure that his gaze would not be so intensive as it had seemed to have been considered by her earlier.

“You must indeed be very determined to reach your destination to be inclined to travel in such a hurry and with such haste.” He concluded before looking back at the horse. Although he did not ask about the nature of her apparent urgency, but he intended for her to know that if he had caught wind of it then the others surely would have as well. It served as a gift from him to her, a subtle hint to allow for preparation for any foreboding angst in regards to further questioning at a later date. Most likely from Cedric himself. 

“It is not my position to question or attempt to lecture, but I would nonetheless advise that you ensure to allow for proper rest and recovery for you and your mount.” Following his words, he reached for his belt and offered her to drink from his water-skin. After the deed he would attach it again with a leather strap to his belt. He continued his gentle patting of her horse and combined them careful strokes along its mane.

“You have a beautiful horse, what its name?” He asked quickly and smiled in her direction.

“You’d do well to take good care of it, and it will take care of you in turn.” He paused for a moment.

“Such is the ideal constitution between a master and a servant, a truly perfectly balanced symbiosis. Something that the current rulers of this land seemed to have forgotten. They treat the people like slaves and justify their cruelty with false idols.” He spoke with passion to her.

“That is why we seek to unshackle the people that has remained bound to the will of those who consider themselves their betters simply due to their primogeniture.” With that said he moved to her side of the horse again.

“I give you my apologies we must continue, for it is not safe to linger too long on the roads.” He was notified by the fact by Cedric that had taken the liberty to begin to move ahead.

“But rest assured I will do my best to convince Cedric to allow us to make camp before long.” It was with a kind and warming smile he gestured to offer to help her back on her horse.

“Do you need me to help you back on your horse?” He asked politely while hoping the question would not serve to strike at her pride.  

Edited by Moon Owl

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Odille was mildly surprised by this man's countenance; she had expected to have met some sort of distaste, a withering look of disdain as cold and pale as his eyes perhaps- instead, she was met with a gentle disposition, it seemed. He arranged himself accordingly, inspecting Heffer, dark fingers entangled in her mount's grey mane. He still stared at her, appraising her- but with a kinder gaze that she appreciated much, much better, Odille couldn't help but smile back, allowing her to relax... just a little.

“You must indeed be very determined to reach your destination to be inclined to travel in such a hurry and with such haste.” There was a tone of concern in the statement- an incredulousness she met with a hearty laugh. It is not my position to question or attempt to lecture, but I would nonetheless advise that you ensure to allow for proper rest and recovery for you and your mount.” He dislodged a water skin from his belt- an offering she gladly accepted, the encounter had left her parched.

"Elves aren't exactly a welcome site around these parts," she tried to not trip over the word, 'Elf', it was the first time she had ever even used it- she had always been reffered to as a 'creature' or as "of that ilk" by those that bothered to claim a distinction between her and the Village folk. "Let's just say there were some... circumstances. Sir"

They could still be murderers and vagrants, she was sure, a trickle of guilt that made her shoulders hunch defensively, but at least for now they seemed like the honorable type. Indeed, she had been wrong on her assumption that this was the course sort of soldiers that had deluged the village, Zacharias seemed to have something of Sir Gawain in his manner of conduct... so she chose to be as candid as she could. He seemed to really appreciate her ill begotten mare.

“You have a beautiful horse, what its name?” 

It was a quick question, she appreciated the attempt as small talk.

“You’d do well to take good care of it, and it will take care of you in turn.” 

"Heffer's her name, Sir, I'm not very familiar with horses- but this one seems to have a sweet temperament, " she admitted, clutching the Mare's reigns- earning her a soft nicker. "Why, I don't think anybody could treat such a creature poorly..." a thought said out loud almost, half a question.

“Such is the ideal constitution between a master and a servant, a truly perfectly balanced symbiosis. Something that the current rulers of this land seemed to have forgotten. They treat the people like slaves and justify their cruelty with false idols.” There was true conviction in his words, such that puzzled her.

“That is why we seek to unshackle the people that has remained bound to the will of those who consider themselves their betters simply due to their primogeniture.”

"Are you not noblemen as well?" The question had been burning in her mind for sometime, and she couldn't help but ask it. "Most nobles don't visit their territories much these days, the men in around aren't serfs- but there are farms around here. The folk are left to themselves, they raid if they feel like it." She tried to elaborate, her brow knotting into a quizzical expression. "Too little governance, I feel can be as bad as too much."

She would've loved to have idled, talking to this strange man. He seemed to have experiences, seemed to have seen much in his years, the all look like they have- Odille felt very much like a newly hatched chick around them; it just meant that she could glean much information about them. But, it was time to go- as he said, it wasn't a good idea to stand around like ducks in the middle of the road. She thanked the man for his promise of respite, soon, with a smile- mounting Heffer with no assistance, and moderate ease- a laugh tinkling forth from her. 

"Thank you, Sir, I do not wish to slow... our progress however, " She urged the mare to turn back to the East, towards Coth the progressing figures of her companions. "If I may be allowed one question, Sir?" She continued quickly, fidgeting with the reigns- Heffer shifting underneath her impatiently.

 "What is your interest in the Green Fire Church?"

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Zacharias chuckled at her question if he was a noble and for a moment he entertained the idea in his mind before he would reply to her.

“No I’m not a nobleman, I’m lowborn. However my sister had noble status granted to her when she married Cedric. As you can probably suspect, this did not go over well with the other nobles. I fear that it was the beginning of the end.” He ended the sentence with a grim tone and looked away in no particular direction.

“However that is a conversation for another time.” He brushed the gloomy thought out of his mind and then allowed for the conversation to continue in a more lighthearted manner. However before he had time to answer the questions about their reasons for seeking out the Cothic church, he was suddenly interrupted by Nevaeh that had seemingly caught on to their conversation.

“We seek to inquire about the legitimacy of these claims of divine providence and if the supposed prophet truly is of virtuous design. If so then we might be inclined to join their cause, as long as it would be deemed justified.” She answered her question as plainly and honestly as she could. Hopefully the elf would have her curiosity satisfied for the moment and then could move on. She had no doubt that they would revisit the topic at a later date, however she did not want to divulge too much information until they were sure that they could trust the woman. They began to again slowly make their way towards their destination and Nevaeh made sure that Odille would be allowed to ride next to her and her daughter Brianna, at least for the time being.

“Now that we have revealed our intentions to travel to the city on the hill, I’d like to know what your own aspirations are for seeking out the Cothic church?” Nevaeh was a direct woman with little regards to personal space if it would impede her curiosity or concerns.

“Are you running from something?” Her gaze remained steady but with a kind composure.

“Mother!” Brianna exclaimed in reaction to her mother’s blunt investigation and decided to intervene on Odille’s behalf.

“Perhaps she is simply looking to find herself a valiant knight!” She spoke and a gracious laugh followed.

“Please excuse my mother, sometimes she lets her curiosity get the better of her.” Her smile shifted into a playful smirk that would linger while she threw a look of intent towards her mother. She knew that she was most likely playing with fire, but she just couldn't help herself in that instance.

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So it was this Cedric Dermont, then, who was the Lord.

Not Zachair, it mattered little to Odille, who was herself from what could arguably be considered the lowest rung of society. The touch of resentment caught her attention, the air of bitterness that descended over him- and then carelessly brushed aside. Whatever, this great tragedy is, Odille mused- glaring at the road ahead as though it was the most fascinating scene, It was none of my business. She let the silence drag on, content with her observations- though the urge to comment on the quality of the day, if only to dispel the awkward silence rang strongly in her.

“We seek to inquire about the legitimacy of these claims of divine providence and if the supposed prophet truly is of virtuous design. If so then we might be inclined to join their cause, as long as it would be deemed justified.”

Luckily, she was saved by the Lady- and she soon found herself flanking the Lady to the left. Odille was struck by the woman's presence; there was just something in the way she carried herself that allowed her to be at ease. The gleam of her dark hair, her gaze and her skin conjured images of mermaids- dangerous folk when provoked, according to what little she knew of them at least.

“Are you running from something?”

Odille let a nervous laugh fly with the probing question, a flush rising to her tanned cheeks. By now, Odille was gripping her reigns so tight her knuckles were white and Heffer snorted in protest.


The younger one's chiding was welcomed relief, but it didn't dissipate the knot of dread that grew in heavy in her belly- Odille laughed right along with them, though even to her, it felt a little hollow.

“Please excuse my mother, sometimes she lets her curiosity get the better of her.”

"Th-there's nothing to be excused," She said, slipping back into her 'peasant's accent'. "My Father didn't kindly t-take to my being a Bard, y'see? So, he wanted me t-to marry and sett-settle down and ta-take over the farming." Odille cringed at the slow, ponderous tone of her voice. "I... quite like not being married, beg pardon Lady- the songs call to me as well. I couldn't stay there anymore."

These folk, noble or not had treated her with utmost kindness and consideration thus far. Perhaps she had been lucky in finding them- and she reciprocated their honesty and candor. She sat uncomfortably in her saddle- desperately trying not to slouch. "I would much rather put my services in the hands of church," her fingers were absolutely frigid, "T-there's been so much lost, I-I'd like to help"

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Well perhaps the elf woman was only looking for a brief tumble in the hay, Brianna thought to herself and giggled. She pondered about giving a comment to the matter, however decided that perhaps it was best to not make such lustrous claims. Instead she would commend Odille’s noble desire to help the downtrodden and desperate with a nod of respect of such agendas. Even though she did not know much about the young elf, she felt like they would get along well and hopefully in the future be allowed to become good friends. For out here in these foreign lands riddled with dangers around every corner for the inattentive soul, a trustworthy friend should be considered a cherished commodity.  

“A valiant aspiration, then. I pray that you will find what you seek, Odille Rothbart.” Cedric’s voice interrupted the conversation, and a brief silence ensued within the party. He positioned himself next to his spouse and offered her the gentle embrace of him palm as a gesture of his affection.

“I sense that the fates have much in store for you, young lady. Do not disappoint.” He instructed her and then turned his attention away from her to speak to the group.

“It’s getting late, perhaps it’s time for us to make camp and settle in for the night. I don’t want to risk being caught out here in the dark by vagrants.” He expressed himself as if he was making a suggestion, however it became quite clear as he returned to Ezekiel without much consideration for their reply that he expected them to heed his council. It was not long after that they decided to halt their advance in favor of making camp before nightfall. While Zacharias was instructed to attend to their mounts, Cedric and Ezekiel began working preparing the campsite for the night, allow the rest to rest and relax for the moment.

Looking up into the skies, Brianna reached for Odille’s arm.


Brianna was anxious for them to finally arrive at their destination. She had as the rest of them heard all about the rumors regarding the city upon the hill, and she had pondered many times if it could be possible that the rumors were true. Being an idealist at heart, she shared Odille’s ambition to strive for the betterment of the land and its inhabitants. There had been many times she had sought to prove herself to that end, however the majority of her pleas to be allowed the chance to make a difference had been met with deaf ears by her mother.

While she did not doubt her mother’s eternal affection, her overprotective ways continued to smother her growth as an individual. Something that had cause much frustration with Brianna and something that had at times caused strife between her and her mother. It was her hope that things would change when they would arrive in Coth, and because of that she could not wait until they would reach their destination.

“It always brings me comfort to look up into the skies. Because no matter how heavy the world might feel on our shoulders, we are nothing but tiny specks in a seemingly endless ocean.” With those words, she urged Odille to join her as they would examine the clouds and the faint glittering stars above.

“See, in the end it doesn’t really matter what happens to us. It's a relief to know that even if we would to in our fail personal endeavors and ambitions, the universe will still continue to exist. Don't you think?” She explained and proceeded to ask the elf about her view on the matter. Perhaps it was a naive perspective, however it had served to bring her heart ease during many troubled nights. 

Edited by Moon Owl

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She felt increasingly embarrassed at the praise she received for her aspirations- never had Odille been acknowledged for voicing her opinions. It had always been met with incredulousness at best, and scorn at worst; " And, how, missy are you gun' be able to afford that? Such disrespect I've never heard of."

 Not quite knowing how to handle it, she could only smile- shoulders hunching almost up to her ears. The young woman could've meant no harm, surely, she seemed nice enough. And was empathetic enough to stop her Mother from interrogating her. Odille had nothing to hide, but her Village was but a days ride away- it would be foolish to give away more than she already had, especially to these noble strangers. A furtive glance towards the young woman, however, pulled something in her- a want for someone she could, perhaps, rely on? She dismissed the thought as being foolish- instead bringing her thoughts back to the gentle sway of her horse in sway. 

“A valiant aspiration, then. I pray that you will find what you seek, Odille Rothbart.” The Lord's voice startled her enough to induce a small exclamation from her- his declaration pleased her. A smile returning to her lips, he was, indeed a 'kind' Lord. She didn't know if they existed, in her songs they were either Brave and Courageous warriors or Evil and Sly slayers.

"I sense that the fates have much in store for you, young lady. Do not disappoint.” At this she felt the need to protest, Odille was just a young Peasant girl. The fates had as much in store for her as it did for the Dairy Maids and Beggar girls in her Songs. Not much, she hoped. She would be content with a full belly, with seeing the world and by singing the rest of her days away. Wishing someone an eventful life was a curse- not a blessing.

She couldn't bring herself to protest, however; the new found awareness of his position made her choose words carefully, and his attentions were quickly diverted by the setting of camp. This time, Odille took care in slipping off of Heffer, holding the reigns tightly, knees bent in order to avoid slipping or landing awkwardly.

A touch to the hand, however, drew her gaze away from Heffer to the Young Woman, there was nothing said- she seemed as though there was a lot to be said, for that alone Odille allowed the silence to linger and envelope the two. Watching her and Heffer's shadows lengthen in the fading light of the day, the evening star twinkling behind a haze of clouds.

“It always brings me comfort to look up into the skies. Because no matter how heavy the world might feel on our shoulders, we are nothing but tiny specks in a seemingly endless ocean.”

Her words urged her to truly examine the twilight skies, and was awed by the deepening purples, the smudges of Oranges so bright it seemed to burn her eyes and most of all, the darkness that seemed to creep up behind them. Taking over the skies, slowly, and then all at once- leaving only the distant, cold light of stars behind to guide them, where they may go.

“See, in the end it doesn’t really matter what happens to us. It's a relief to know that even if we would to in our fail personal endeavors and ambitions, the universe will still continue to exist. Don't you think?”

"It scares me, a little. We're so insignificant- all we can do is try to live a fulfilling life- and try to help others live a fulfilling life as well. But, the vast emptiness of the heavens scares me; theres so little that we know, so little that we do know about those eternal objects, it makes me grieve." She felt foolish, putting it in words, her pauses were painful- but it was how she felt. The growing darkness also made a song take root in her head- and as she unpacked her skin of water from Heffer, she sang it quietly. 

"A Lark sometimes did breed,
within a field of Corn
And had increase when as the grain
was ready to be shorn.
She wary of the time,
and carefull for her nest:
Debated wisely with her self,
what thing to doo were best."

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Had finished their preparations, Cedric approached Brianna and Odille while the elf seemed busy unpacking belongings from her mount. He heard her modest singing and it reminded him of his home and the family that he had left behind.

“You know, my son is a Bard.” The man let on, but it was with a certain sadness in his voice that he spoke of the subject.

“I’m sure you would get along well.” He commented with a weighted smile, referring to Odille’s singing but his attention was quickly shifted by the sound of hooves gradually becoming louder as they approached their camp. He wasn’t the only one who had noticed the sound, Zacharias and Ezekiel quickly joined at his side to greet the party. Cedric glanced over his shoulder towards Odille and Brianna while they walked up towards the road.

“Fetch your mother and make sure to keep yourself behind us.” He instructed before he would then turn his attention back towards the road. In the distance he was able to spot several riders with torches drawing nearer for every passing moment. It seemed like the mounted party had noticed them as well as they began to slow down their advance. Cedric placed his hand gently upon the hilt of his blade as the two groups moved into conversation distance.

“Evening to you, fellow travelers.” Cedric spoke with a respectful tone with his cousin and Zacharias at closely at his back. However it gave him further concern when the party ignored his greeting and instead proceeded to inspect the party, both them and his wife, daughter and Odille further down behind them.

“Can we help you lot?” He spoke again, now with much more density in his tone of voice, drawing the group attention towards him. His gaze remained steady at the man situated at front of the band. It was with a subtle brush of his thumb towards the hilt of his blade that Cedric eased the his tension towards the situation at hand. With their intentions still unclear, his attention along with the grip of his blade remained watchful towards them.  

“We’re looking for a horse thief. Have you run across anyone suspicious on this road recently?” The man revealed and demanded information as their gazes clashed. It was something under other circumstances would give him some relief, however his thoughts were quickly diverted towards the elf that they had come across.

While it was possible that their meeting were simply a coincidence, however if she was somehow related to these men and their chase after this supposed horse thief that could escalate the situation before them rapidly. For the moment it was possible that the men had not been able to spot the elf, however he felt like it was only a matter of time before they would.

"Can't say that I have." Cedric replied in a nonchalant fashion, trying to feign indifference to their questioning as best he could. However his senses remained alert to their every move and as sharp as the blade that at least for now had been allowed to remain in the well finely decorated sheath hanging on from his belt. 

"What about you guys, have you seen anyone suspicious?" He asked with a sarcastic tongue and proceeded to glance over towards Ezekiel and Zacharias. They both shrugged and shook their heads in response to his question. His gaze returned with a defiant constitution towards the group that had approached. It seemed like at least for the moment, their investigation had reached a stalemate.

Edited by Moon Owl

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Odille was getting used to these strangers sneaking up behind her; she didn’t think it was something she needed to get used to- but, to her credit when the Lord spoke about his Son, Odille didn’t flinch.

But, rather, she grabbed Heffer’s reigns and guided her towards the rest of the camp. There was a heavy tone in Cedric Dermont’s voice that warned her that there was nothing she could say that would alleviate it. 

Best to keep quiet and inconspicuous.

“I’m… sure you’re right, Lord.” Her wavering voice, however, betrayed her for the coward that she was.

"I've a way to go before I could compare to your Son, then, Lord Dermont." She flinched, obviously it was an awkward, groveling thing to say. 

There was no use-- or time, to dwell on it. Odille thought she had heard hooves and horses, but the disoriented girl had merely chalked that up to the blood rushing to her ears and no more. But, the Lord must’ve heard it as well, his whole demeanor changed. 

Odille veered her mud splattered, unsaddled  mount behind her companions, a step away from Brianna and the Lady. He hood had been drawn, casting her face in shadows, it was still too close to home for Odille to let anything go to chance. 

Her caution was justified; in the end it seemed that the travellers were indeed hostile.

Perhaps, a bit of an exaggeration; but they definitely weren’t friendly. Odille can here three horses nickering- but, she can also make out the faint outlines of two more on foot. They stopped infront of her little party- and, strangely didn’t greet any of Lord Cedric’s greetings. This, to Odille, felt much like battles from her songs; two armies facing off, waiting for the other to make the daring move and cross the Rubicon.

A flash of red hair glinting off of firelight makes her step back.

“We’re looking for a horse thief. Have you run across anyone suspicious on this road recently?”

The scratch of a familiar voice- the inkeeper!- makes her drag on Heffer’s mane.

Gods, oh dear God. If that Cothic God has any mercy, let them not see me.

Odille felt as though she were choking on the air itself, frozen in place- yet, she was tensed. Ready to sprint, throw herself onto Heffer and run, when they eventually spotted her and Heffer. It was only a matter of time.

Cedric must know this as well, for he taunts the innkeeper and his compatriots- the air of defiance in his voice was not malicious but his intent was clear: Leave us be, or else.

Guilt pricked her, as she realized the very real danger she was putting these kind strangers in- in her hysteria, Odille, foolishly pulls once more on Heffer’s mane. And, the horse who had been quiet and so obedient in such a tense situation thus far nickered.

And suddenly, there were eyes on Odille and Heffer. Mostly Heffer, she was still cloaked and covered by cloth and shadows- a terse silence that was broken by the inn keeper/

“Billy! Go check if that’s Hessian.” The he roared, and that was that for Odille.

She was caught.

The Elf mounted her horse; not a thought spared for the water skin she abandoned, or the saddle tossed onto their campsite- and turned her mount towards Coth. The Sun had properly set now- it was dark and dangerous up ahead. If she or Heffer made a mistake, if her mount tripped on root or a rock- it was truly it for Odille. Then, their fate would involve with being either being eaten by wolves or meeting with outlaws and raiders.

She daren't think about being returned trussed like a pig to her Village.

Her Father dear Gods.

She hesitated, only a moment more- a glance backwards, however, urged her to push the horse unto a gallop. The furious faces of the innkeeper- and young man with red hair spurred her on; despite the surprised face of Brianna and the rest.

It was that Billy. The man her Father had intended for her to marry, it seemed wasn’t so keen to let his dowry run away. They were in hot pursuit.

She leaned over Heffer, faster now that most of her burdens were shed- but still, she could feel rather than hear the commotion she leaves in her wake.

Once more, Odille flees for her life- twice in a day. Two more times than she would’ve ever liked to in her life. But this time, there’s a realization that turns her limbs into lead and her throat into a desert: Heffer hasn’t had enough rest. 

It was only a matter of time before the pursuit would wear her mount out.

She was trapped.

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