Old February 5, 2018, 07:35 PM   #1 (permalink)
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[Principality Of Moonstone] Return To Sender

Era XXV - Spring - Cryxatum

It was with an uncharacteristic spring in his step that Moss made his way towards Ziel Aerca's gates, headed for the Principality of Moonstone's countryside, bound for Port Alyxandrya. He had with him a parcel to be taken to the City of Queens, and he was looking forward to spending time with friends while he was there.

But completing his delivery was essential, not simply as a means to see the task through, but - he hoped - as a means of securing more work in the future. If those in Ziel Aerca could see that he was capable of this relatively simple task, perhaps other job offers might materialise as a result.

And besides, he could do with the extra coin.

A cursory glance was sent to Telath's triple suns before the human did a last check of his gear, ensuring his water flask was full to the brim, his ration supplies were topped up, and all of his equipment was in place as he readied himself for traveling on springtime roads.

Upon reaching the gates, he allowed a small grin to form at his lips as he breathed in the fresh air that lured from outside. He was ready for another journey, and solitary travel seemed to suit him.
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Old February 5, 2018, 08:57 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Hmm. Drowning. That would certainly be a fitting way to die. Your corpse just sort of floats surrounded by a halo of ripples. Although, in this lighting I’m a bit more bony than I’d like. It’s always been said the more attractive you appear, the more likely people are to try and rescue you. She paused. I guess that wouldn’t matter, though. Being dead and all. Can’t save that!

I guess I would make a decent zombie should a willing necromancer practice out in the open.


This grim thought process came to her once she came back up from the Centripax Basin. It had to have been at least a day since she took a bath last and she refused to let it slip beyond that. I may have to dress like a tramp, but I don’t have to smell like one. Pale, slender hands brushed the auburn strands from her face which were blocking her vision. Her paranoia had kept her alive thus far so she had no plans to change tactics now.

Still alone. Perfect.

Content with the current state of the area around her, she dived back under and went for a little swim. Might as well get some exercise in while she was in there, after all! It was better to be muscular than bony, from an appearance standpoint. The other aspect, of course, was that if she built up some strength - she could probably protect herself.

Try and grab me, you feth! I’ll break your fingers!

The reminder of such a frightening incident seemed to quicken her pace. What was once small ripples began to transform into individual waves while she made her laps through the large basin.
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Old February 6, 2018, 07:30 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Moss was less than half a candlemark beyond Ziel Aerca's gates when he caught sight of the Great Centripax Basin, and he was immediately reminded of his awkward encounter with Calanon and Kailin upon its shores. Thankfully, he wouldn't be passing through Eriale this time, which meant the only remnants of the decrepit tavern that he could see were the lakefront views that The Thirsty Swan had boasted of.

And, in all fairness, that view was not too bad, with the autumnal oranges and browns from his previous visit now replaced by great expanses of green, dotted with pockets of yellows, reds, and blues, and all manner of hues that mixing those colours could create. It had been a fine sight a few months earlier, but it was decidedly stunning in the spring weather.

It was as Moss skirted the edge of the shore that he saw a static brown shape among the long grass and - as far as he could tell - there was nothing and nobody else nearby. As it had so many times before, curiosity struck the mystic and he left the road, cautiously stepping through the long grass until he realised he was looking at a pile of dirty, dark brown rags.

It was just as he went to turn that he heard a splash. Dark grey eyes shot across to the water and the bearded blonde caught sight of pale white limbs, glistening in the sunslight as they broke the surface, splashing about as an undeniably female form took to swimming in the basin. He stared for a lingering moment, catching sight of her from behind, which resulted in an all to familiar warmth teasing at his cheeks before he moved to step away and leave the poor woman to swim in peace.
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Old February 6, 2018, 09:20 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The water felt soothing despite its true lack of temperature. It was almost as if her fears and anxiety could simply sink into the depths and leave her in a peaceful state. The thought was appealing, but simply not possible. She emerged from beneath the surface, flipping her head back to prevent any auburn strands from sticking to her face. Once she wiped some of the excess water off, her gaze searched the area for any oddities nearby.

Her heart stopped for a split second as a chill surged through her delicate frame. There was a figure in the process of moving away from her clothing.

No...

She quickly sank back down, allowing the water to consume her from below her nose as she observed the man. Alright. Now is not the time to panic. Try and focus on logic. He’s still walking away which means he didn’t see me notice him. More than likely he’s finding a place to hide so he can get the jump on me once I’m out. I have the upper hand for now. I need to keep it that way.

The plan was simple. Act as if she hadn’t noticed and keep swimming.

After several strokes, she reached the edge near where she had left her clothes. She took a moment to wring some of the water from her hair before using the ground as leverage to free her from the basin. So far, so good. She reached for her clothes, one hand on top while the other searched underneath. With a dagger in hand, she was ready for the final act.

In one swift motion, she jerked upright and sprinted toward the man who was still in the process of retreating. I’ve got him right where I- A simple looking package caught her eye, acting as a wall which Tali had slammed right into. She stood there, frozen while her mind quickly tried to reassess the situation.

This means one of two things. The assassin decided to kill two birds with one stone, literally OR I caught an innocent man in passing thinking he was trying to kill me.

Either way she was still both nude and armed.
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Old February 7, 2018, 10:16 PM   #5 (permalink)
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As soon as Moss began to move away from the rags, he heard another splash of water. Without breaking his stride, he dared to turn his head slightly and caught sight of wet auburn hair breaking the surface of the Great Centripax Basic.

Feth...

The warmth in his cheeks grew beneath his beard, and as soon as shoulders also came out of the water, he stopped looking, quickening his pace and looking directly ahead.

That was until he heard the sound of footprints behind him and he turned, expecting to have to explain himself to a woman in rags, but he caught an eyeful of much more than that. Dark grey eyes widened in shock before cheeks flushed bright red and Moss half stumbled backwards - partly because of the naked blade, and partly because of the naked maid.

He would have welcomed the vision, were it not brandishing a deadly weapon.

One hand reached out behind him as his footing faltered, catching him and enabling him to get upright again. His steps halted then, just as Talindra's had.

"I'm sorry," he flushed, realising nothing could excuse his curiosity but trying to explain nonetheless, his words coming fast and breathy as he struggled to maintain his composure. "I saw something on the ground, and I went to look, and it was..."

The mystic pointed back over the woman's bare shoulder at the rags that lay on the ground as he visibly struggled to keep his eyes from wandering.

"...your pile of clothes."

He paused then, eyes doing nothing to hide their confusion as the woman stood before him, still dripping with lake water. Moss was certain that she must have goosebumps on her skin, given the gentle breeze of the brightening. So certain, in fact, that he didn't dare take the time to look.

"Aren't you cold, milady?"
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Old February 7, 2018, 11:02 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Feth. I hate it when I’m wrong!

Tali broke free of her statuesque state as she lowered her arm back down to her side. There wasn’t much point in covering anything up, she had given him the whole damn picture - free of charge! Her cheeks began to grow a brighter shade than her own hair, harshly contrasted by her pale complexion as she struggled to figure out how to proceed.

Heeey how’s it going? I totally thought you were here to kill me so no harm done!

No.

You found my clothes? You can have them because they’re not even mine to begin with!

Not even close!

Feth, it’s cold out here.

Irrelevant, but it could work since he mentioned it first.

Tali wrapped her arms around her torso, a deep shiver causing her body to tremble. In this new position, a necklace with a wired rock attached to the end decided to make its presence a bit more apparent by resting at the very top of her enlarged cleavage. “Y-Yeah, it’s a bit cold out. Um...” Tali found herself at a loss for words, her mind continuing to scramble and find a way to salvage her dignity - if she even had any left. As a new breeze brushed off the water and left her skin dry and frigid, her mind was shocked back to being able to create an actual sentence. “Right. Cold. S-so, I’m going to go and p-put my clothes on and we can try this a-again.”

She wasn’t sure which side of her was better. The front certainly had more appeal than the back, but there was still a chance he could be lying. One should never turn a blind eye to a potential enemy. Although I doubt it with how bright his cheeks are. Unwilling to set aside her paranoia, she took a few steps back. Her gaze shifted between the man and the ground beside her until she managed to find the heap that started it all. As she reached down to pick it up, a new realization struck her.

They’re still dirty...

To be clean or to freeze. That was the real question, although it wasn’t a difficult one to answer. She could handle the breeze as it danced across the basin, but not feeling the dirt grind up against her clean skin. Priorities! Still nude, she hesitantly approached the man again. However, to make things easier on them both, she dived behind a tree and poked her head out from the side. Droplets began to litter the ground she stood on as she cleared her throat.

“Right. So. Let’s try this again. I’m so sorry for this misunderstanding. I thought you were...someone else. Please forgive me for my odd display and threats.” She bowed, trying to keep mindful of hiding her more delicate areas. “The c-clothes aren’t mine. I stole them f-from someone else because I don’t have much money.”

Smooth.
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Old February 8, 2018, 12:24 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Moss' confusion was only compounded by the woman's next actions, actively trying with mixed success to look away when she wrapped her arms around herself. The necklace was barely even noticed. But, as if to deliberately puzzle him further, she retreated to the rags and - instead of putting them on - she moved to hide behind a tree, sticking her head out from behind its trunk to talk to him.

The mystic cocked his head, mouth agape and utterly baffled by the behaviour. The woman was still naked, which meant she would still be cold, so why wouldn't she just put on her...?

Dark grey eyes caught a sight of her tattered, dirty rags as they rested in her grip, peeking out around the tree trunk as if they, too, were trying to find a way out of the awkward situation.

Moss' cheeks were still red - matching Talindra's - as the elf spoke again, explaining her situation. The confession was surprisingly candid, but to Moss' surprise, it was also surprisingly understandable. The bearded blonde wondered what he would do if he too was unable to afford even the most basic clothing.

The mystic found himself contemplating the woman's situation even as her auburn hair clung to the pale skin of her neck and shoulder. After a couple of moments of consideration, he knelt down, hoisting his knapsack off his shoulder and placing it on the ground, with the parcel placed next to it shortly after. Appreciating his own distraction, Moss reached into knapsack and pulled out a spare tunic and pair of leggings.

"It isn't much," his gravelly voice spoke, "and they might be a little big, but you can wear these."

The human tossed them towards Talindra, and they fell at her feet beside the trunk. And then he stood, awkwardly and consciously turning to face the Great Centripax Basin so that the poor, shivering woman would be at his back, and hopefully already in the process of covering herself and hiding her nudity.

He was sure he'd seen enough for an entire lifetime.
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Old February 8, 2018, 02:28 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I think I broke him.

Tali’s explanation seemed to have done nothing more than add further confusion according to the human’s expression. There was little else she could do, save for dive back into the basin and wait for him to leave. As the appeal grew off of that idea, the man broke free and began to move. Her cognac gaze fell upon the package that had caught her in the act. I wonder what that could be. He’s so baffled and thrown off, I bet I could snag it and be gone before he could rea-

Her train of thought was instantly shattered, leaving her mind blank as well as her expression when a decent-sized tunic and leggings fell within her range. He explained why, but it didn’t seem to click right away. She stared at the pile while she tried to consider all options. I doubt he would give me clothes if he meant to harm me. Maybe? Usually, it took her a bit longer to contemplate everything, but a new gust of wind sent her body lunging forward. She scooped up the clothing before ducking back to the safety of the tree. He had his back turned, of course, but there was still a chance he could peek.

The man’s tunic fit like a baggy dress, covering all that had been once revealed and left the usual exposure behind. Upon further examination of the leggings, however, she was nearly certain they wouldn’t fit unless they were pulled up nearly to her breasts. She slipped on her light brown boots which came just below her knee and glanced over herself in the basin’s reflection. Her slender frame poked out from beneath the enlarged clothing, almost like a child donning their parent’s attire. I’ve looked worse. At the very least, this adds to my disguise. Despite her less than attractive appearance, a warm smile spread across her brightened cheeks. The tunic was rather soft and aided in reducing the trembles that plagued her.

The best part, however? It was clean.

Leaves could be heard crunching softly beneath her bare feet as she hesitantly returned to the man. Now that she wasn’t in fight or flight mode, she was able to take in the sight before her. Dirty blonde hair seemed to brighten beneath the sun’s rays as he stood facing the basin. He looked as if he were a soldier, his shoulders broad and his posture kept straight. A longsword caught her gaze next, sheathed comfortably by his side. He certainly has the means to kill me if he wanted to.

She let out a quiet sigh. “Thank you, um...for the clothes.” An awkward pause broke her attempt at mending the situation. “I-I’m Tali. It’s a pleasure to meet you, although I’m sorry again for the way it happened.” Auburn strands fell off of her shoulders as she bowed her head. With everything that had occurred, she found herself unable to meet his gaze.
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Old February 10, 2018, 12:37 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Moss stood awkwardly as he looked out across the manmade lake before him as the elven maiden behind him changed into his clothes. Or stabbed him. Given her initial lack of inhibitions, that possibility seemed just as likely. As such, he readied himself, listening for an approach, prepared to turn and deflect the blade if he thought it was headed his way.

In the end, however, no such assault came. Rather, the woman made her presence known by loudly stepping on leaves - though he wasn't sure if it wad deliberate - and reservedly introduced herself. Perhaps normality would be restored, after all.

When the ex-militiaman turned, however, the half-Esh'lahier wasn't quite adorned as he'd expected. His light coloured tunic appeared oversized - much as he'd expected - but his leggings were nowhere to be seen. Instead, the woman's pale legs were visible from her mid-thigh, turning the one item of clothing she'd decided to wear into something resembling a nightgown. There was no arguing that it was better than nothing - literally - but she'd still need to find something to cover her limbs before too long.

"Serale," his gravelly voice came, much more composed than when shed wielded the dagger. "I'm Moss."

The mystic awkwardly extended a hand in greeting, though his curiosity had yet to be satisfied.

"Is what you said true?" he asked, dark grey eyes studying any reaction as he cocked his head. "You actually went to the trouble of stealing...those?"

And with that last word, he nodded his head towards the torn rags that Talindra had abandoned when she had climbed into the water.
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Old February 10, 2018, 01:03 AM   #10 (permalink)
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So far so good!

The slow recovery process of her meeting with the human seemed to be mending as he exchanged names with her. Moss. Humans certainly have strange traditions when it comes to naming their children. The comment was kept to herself, however. There wasn’t a need to insult the man who not only had shown kindness, but also mercy to her.

Big. Pointy. Sword. Keep an eye on it.

As her paranoia clung to what it believed to be logic, her arms came out to offer his leggings back to him. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Moss. I-“ her sentence was abruptly interrupted as the motion in progress knocked into his extended hand. A small squeak escaped her lips, startled by the collision. So much for it going well! She gave a mental scolding of how it was her fear of meeting his gaze that led to the incident occurring in the first place.

She scrambled into another bow. “Please forgive me. I fear I’m a bit weary from my swim and don’t seem to be paying attention.” The words spilled out, an excuse built off of trying to regain some dignity. The offer was attempted again, but as she did her gaze wandered over to the clothes he had brought attention to. “Hmm? Oh. Yes, I needed something that would help me not stick out in a crowd. Not many pay attention to the homeless and ill-dressed.” That was the intention, at least. Thus far, it had done the opposite.

In an effort to keep the exchange of conversation floating away from her idiocy, she gave a small nod toward the package. “I saw you carrying that earlier. Are you keeping it sealed for a later date or delivering it to someone?”
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Old February 10, 2018, 12:19 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Moss took the leggings back with thanks, then considered the mixed elf who stood before him.

The more Talindra spoke, the more curious Moss became. A lopsided grin formed at his mouth as he contemplated first her threat with the blade, then her admission that she'd stolen the rags, and now that she'd prefer to remain unseen.

That would be a challenge, with her pale legs showing and her torso in a light coloured shirt. The human had to wonder how someone who stood out so noticeably hoped to avoid detection. He wagered he could probably locate the woman at a hundred yards in the middle of the darkening, so pale was her appearance. Were she to stand on a rock in the Great Centripax Basin, she was about as close to a sentient lighthouse as anyone could get.

His brief daydream ended when he realised the woman was talking about the parcel.

"Oh, it's just something I'm delivering to an address in Port Alyxa-"

He paused, narrowing his eyes as he looked down at the cognac gaze opposite him. She was a curiosity, but that didn't mean she wasn't dangerous.

"Dare I ask who or what you're running from, and precisely where you're headed?"
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Old February 10, 2018, 01:01 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Tali let out a quiet sigh of relief. Ah, so we have finally gotten past the awkward conversation and found ourselves in the interrogation process. This I can handle.

It was as if her whole demeanor changed. The once skittish elf that stood before Moss straightened her figure, her gaze finally meeting his. There was a moment of hesitation, however, for her mind fell blank at the newfound sight. His face added to the overall portrait she had painted, leaving her heart pounding although she couldn’t understand why. It felt as if his dark grey eyes were trying to expose her for more than the criminal she had admitted to be. This mixture of emotions forced her to break contact, resting her gaze instead on the scruffy beard that had shaped itself around his lips.

“There’s someone out there who wishes to end my life. I’m trapped in a pit, trying to find shelter wherever I can find it in hopes of living to see another brightening. With this in mind, I fear I don’t have a specific destination except away from the place I once called home.” Each word was precise and lacking in the quiet tone it had before as confidence began to build itself back up. It was difficult to remember at times, but allowing fear to control her would do nothing but dig her grave.

A newfound friend had taught her that, but she didn’t believe it was necessary to mention her or that she had shelter in Moonstone should she need a place to hide.

Slender fingers outstretched themselves toward Moss, pointing to his package as Tali gave a warm smile. “So, now that I’ve answered your questions, I can get a proper response from mine. You’re taking that to Port where?”
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Old February 11, 2018, 07:00 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Moss' gaze hardened as Talindra spoke of being hunted. It was not an unbelievable tale, but just another layer of mystery and confusion that appeared to surround the auburn-haired woman. While it was true that she had rushed at him, blade in hand, with his back turned and thus out of fear, the mystic had to ponder just how difficult it would be for a hired killer to carry out their task. She wasn't well armed, she clearly wasn't well dressed, and she didn't particularly seem all that well trained, either. Surely, an assassin who knew their quarry wouldn't find this the most challenging assignment?

Of course, it was also entirely possible that the woman was paranoid, running from shadows that weren't even there.

And yet despite it all, something tugged at him. His innate desire to see good take place - in whatever form that might take - versus the understanding that nobody sought your death without a reason. It was possible that the woman was indeed dangerous, despite all appearances to the contrary, and letting her join him might invite danger upon himself. But then, he'd already decided that her would be assassin probably wasn't really up to the task.

Ultimately, curiosity won the wrestle within his mind.

"I'm headed to Port Alyxandrya. You're welcome to join me, if you like," he eventually replied, gauging the woman's reaction, "just as soon as you tell me why someone wants you dead."
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Old February 11, 2018, 12:02 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Tali’s expression fell a bit, her head following suit as she bowed. Tension grew in her shoulders, causing a newfound wave of trembles - light but not caused by the slightly chilled surroundings. She closed her eyes as the whole scene played itself through her mind in rapid fire. Flashes of black interrupted much of it, but the physical aspect was what she recalled best. The life being forced out of her. Fighting a battle that she couldn’t win unarmed. A sudden gasp of desperation. Confusion upon her father’s words echoing through the abyss, demanding she run. Her body obeying the command despite her mind wishing to stay. Finally, nothing. She woke up on the side of the road, in a dark green gown that was torn and blood-stained.

A sharp breeze shocked her back to reality, causing her stiffened frame to jerk. Her eyes shot open and she couldn’t help glancing around to confirm it was nothing more than a memory. Her gaze fell back on Moss and the tension seemed to subside a bit. She was still silent, however, as a cold stream had stained itself upon her cheeks. Slender fingers outstretched themselves toward her face in order to identify the cause.

Had she been crying? How embarrasing!

She quickly wiped her face dry, clearing her throat as she let her head drop a bit to hide this action from Moss. “I’m afraid if the decision to allow me to join you relies on that, I will have to confinue roaming alone. I don’t know why someone wants me dead. I’m not even sure if my father still lives after the attack on our home. So much of it is surpressed in my mind, to the point I can’t access it no matter how hard I try.”

Her gaze fell back to the package. It was heading to Port Alyxandrya? If she were to join Moss, there was a possibility she could aid him and expand her mental map for future use. Sliucha had believed it to be a good idea to find allies rather than try and handle all of this alone. However, this man’s suspicion was understandable and her reply wouldn’t give him much confidence to trust her.

How could she mend the situation without lying to a potential companion?

“I...I’m not sure what I could say to ease your mind except assurance. I’m not a killer. I kill only in self-defense or the wicked. I’ve never taken the life of an innocent. You’ve shown me kindness despite my threats. Please allow me to repay you, even if it’s nothing more than giving you company on your journey.”
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Last edited by Talindra Koranthil; February 19, 2018 at 09:04 AM.
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Old February 14, 2018, 05:58 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Talindra had Moss' full attention when she gave her answer, although she almost lost it near the beginning. Upon hearing that no explanation would be forthcoming, the human's gaze had fallen to the ground between them in disappointment, and there was even a fleeting consideration of apprehending the seemingly harmless woman to claim whatever bounty hung tantalisingly above her head.

But then she mentioned memory loss, and the mystic found himself groaning silently and internally. A rueful grin was belatedly cast skyward as he cursed the gods and their self-serving ways. He closed his eyes slowly, regathering his thoughts, and slowly lifting his dark grey eyes to face the woman.

He studied her for a few moments, letting her request fall away into silence as he considered his words.

"I know what it means to lose memories," he eventually spoke, his deep gravelly voice cutting through the relative silence that surrounded their little perch over the Great Centripax Basin.

The human then turned to face the water, feeling the cool breeze ripple through his beard as it caressed his face.

"If you wish to join me, you may do so."

The statement was spoken out towards the refracting light that bent against the ripple-free surface, though his tone was kind enough. He lingered there for a moment, before turning back and bending to collect his knapsack.

"But we will need to find something to cover your legs, or you'll freeze come darkening."

A cursory glance was sent to the woman's rags as Moss readied to continue his journey. Perhaps they - and their owner - weren't worth discarding just yet.
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Last edited by Moss Oktra'rek; February 14, 2018 at 09:53 PM.
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