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Old July 9, 2018, 06:25 AM   #1 (permalink)
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[ZA] A Warm Winter's Eve (Calanon, Social Thread)

Timestamp: The First Week of the Calendar-Era XXVI; Winter

As promised, Akina had returned to the nice tavern with the friendly barkeep. After they had been so helpful on her arrival to the city, Akina decided it was high time to warm her paws against a crackling fire and treat herself to a little something for all her hard work. It had been a month of exhausting errands, heavy parcels, and not-always-pleasant interactions, but the white dorin felt satisfied with her life thus far.

Akina greeted the barkeep with vigour, ordered a pint of their warm, mulled cider, and quickly scooted over to a chair by the fire. Not that there was much competition - Akina had cleared her brightening so as to be free from work, and thus had arrived when she knew the tavern would be quiet and the drinks would be flowing.
Nobody to be bothersome, and no dramas to behold.

It was at some point mid-brightening when Akina had settled in with a nice drink, a tasty snack, and some light reading in the form of various pamphlets and leaflets which had been handed around the academy in the city's center. Most of them were very boring - the sale of 12 large pigs, some not-very-convincing arguments to join a group of Jalat worshippers, and an infographic about the various uses of hallucinogenic mushrooms - so Akina was open to the prospect of making some conversation.

The female dorin sighed and leaned back against the wall with an air of contentment. She'd found herself a job, succeeded in her various tasks, and had no urgent matters to deal with until the next brightening. She'd even found herself a comfortable place to live that was dry, and had a door! Life was going very well for Akina, indeed. Soon she'd be able to afford luxuries, like soap that smelled of flowers, and a small envelope of tea leaves. Perhaps even a teapot of her very own! Akina mused with her imagination for a little while on that pleasant thought. Would she get a yellow one, or a green one, or perhaps one with paintings of little birds on it? It was a mystery.

As the tavern started to fill, various creatures took their place around the room. A hooded, cloaked figure sat ominously in the darkened corner furthest away from the fireplace's light; a group of Katta took a table by the door, and a handful of merchants decided to have their lunch in the center table. Each time newcomers arrived, Akina sipped her drink and wondered where they would sit. And, each time one of the newcomers avoided her table, her tail drooped slightly.

Was she truly that unappealing to sit by?

She quickly gave herself a cursory inspection. Fur was soft and clean, she didn't smell, she wasn't bleeding or looking otherwise dead. Her nails were nice and short, her nose was healthy and wet, and the Jalat pamphlets had been discarded into the fire so that nobody got the wrong idea. Worriedly, Akina made sure she hadn't appeared silly by dribbling her cider over herself.

Nope, clean and very presentable. Her ears flattened momentarily.
How rude, she thought, to ignore such an acceptable-looking person like myself! Do these people not want friends!?

As if struck by a moment of clarity, Akina realized (drawing on her past experiences) that not everybody wanted friends. Somewhat crestfallen, Akina turned her attentions back to her tasty pint and resolved to just enjoy the warmth of her spot for the time being.
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Old July 10, 2018, 06:43 PM   #2 (permalink)
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The winter had sunk its claws well and truly into the city of Ziel Aerca, and in turn, into the elf that pushed open the door to the tavern with a hand numb from the cold, even through the leather gloves he wore. He had not long arrived, and the draw of warmth, the light spilling from the tavern windows had put paid to any plans he might have had to be more discerning about where he ended up. Perhaps he might get a room here too?

As he stepped inside, he brought with him a blast of cold air as a reminder to those already safely ensconced within that it was not quite so cosy beyond the heavy wooden door, which the male pushed closed behind him before reaching up to lower his hood. Dark hair, slight unruly despite the attempts to tame it, was drawn back from a face that bore the sharp angles of elven kind, the delicately pointed ears that peeked from beyond the strands of black a confirmation of such heritage. Calanon swept a cursory glance about the place, he did not expect to find any he knew here, only having visited the city a couple of times before. But still, it was always paid to take a measure of one’s surroundings.

The comparative heat of the common room caused colour to crest on his cheeks, and having gotten his bearings, the Sylrosian made his way toward the bar and asked after a room, as well as a whiskey to chase the chill from his bones. Having tugged off his gloves and shoved them in his pack, cold, clumsy fingers handed over the required coin, and one hand wrapped about the tumbler of whiskey. Calanon turned, his gaze flickering briefly around once more before he was drawn like a moth towards the well-banked fire and its promise of warmth.

There was a Dorin occupying the table nearest, but the elf only flashed a look her way as he passed, setting his drink on the mantle and shrugging his pack from his shoulders as a precursor to warming his cold hands in the glow of the fire. Only, it didn’t take long for the heat to call prickles of feeling back into the tips of his fingers, and Cal shook out his hands as the blood surged and let him know that perhaps too close to the fire was not a good idea either. It was a quiet sigh of relief then as he took a sip from the tumbler and gazed into the coals, glad for now just to be out of the cold.
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Old July 10, 2018, 10:09 PM   #3 (permalink)
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OOH! A FRIEND!!

Struggling to maintain composure, Akina sipped her drink as slowly as she could. Her feet were feeling tingly - not for cold-related reasons, but because that's what her feet felt like when she was tipsy - and she had to start pacing herself.

Drunk Akina was sometimes a little too friendly for her own good.

So, she quietly sat and behaved herself, tail wagging intermittently. From past experience, people in a tavern did not enjoy being assaulted with excitement and eager greetings until they had settled into their drinks. Even then...calm, Kina, she reminded herself. You'll get to say hi soon, don't worry!

For a few moments, Akina waited until Calanon had a few mouthfuls of his beverage, looking slightly less blue around the edges as he did so. While she waited, Akina ran through a list of acceptable conversation-starters in her head.

Can you wiggle your ears like I can? Didn't feel right. Too personal, too soon. So she thought some more. She always had wondered if elves could do that, but most elves she had met came across as far too aloof to hold a friendly conversation. This one seemed...open to the possibility. Perhaps the way he was sitting, ignoring her and staring absently into the coals, tipped her off.

Yep. That was definitely the sort of person who would love to make a new friend!

Must be challenging, not having fur at a time like this. Was another one.
No, wait. That sounded like she was poking fun at the furless kind. It wasn't their fault they were naked as newborn pups under all that cloth. It was an unshakable deficit in humans and elves, and she wasn't so rude as to draw attention to it now.

Best to start with something vague, and benign, but friendly. Something vague...

"Long brightening?" She queried kindly, indicating at the pack Calanon was carrying. He had evidently travelled from...somewhere. Sharing camaraderie over travel was usually a great way to start, if her experiences in Sancta Nova were anything to go by.
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Old July 13, 2018, 10:11 AM   #4 (permalink)
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It didn’t take Calanon long, once he had thawed somewhat, to become aware of the regard of the Dorin nearby. He allowed himself a sideways glance but soon regretted it, for a moment later it seemed the stranger had taken it as some kind of invitation to make small talk. He half turned from his position standing in front of the fire, a grudging concession to the attempt to start a conversation that the Dorin had made.

“Hmm?”
The elf tracked the creature’s gesture toward his bag which had been set by his feet, and then looked back into the friendly face of the female before replying. “ Oh….long enough, yes”.

Still reserved, he nevertheless let his gaze sweep over the Dorin. Not a new sight to him of course, but he’d had little actual interaction with any of her kind before, and it was this slight curiosity that stopped him from just turning back to the fire and ending their brief conversation. The Empire continued to hold its mysteries for the elf who had grown up in the somewhat sheltered and isolationist elfhame. And having already decided he was not going to seek out Sliucha until the morrow, Calanon supposed it would do no harm to talk a while with the fluffy white creature.

“You seem to have acquired the best seat for this kind of weather” he offered in return, dark brows lifting a little as he glanced around the common room and coming back to settle upon the Dorin. His words carried with them a slight accent, though his common was flawless, a learning that had served him well after his abrupt departure from his home all those eras ago. He certainly had enough practice with the language anyway.

Deciding that it would be more than presumptuous to pull out the spare chair at the table the Dorin sat at, Calanon waited to see if the invitation would be extended.
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Old July 14, 2018, 01:55 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Noticing that Calanon noticed the empty chair at her table, she eagerly extended her hand to indicate at the chairs' aforementioned emptiness. Humans and elves did all sorts of strange things - angstily staring at walls, brooding in darkened corners, giving pained expressions to their shoes while leaning against the mantelpiece - so the fact that Calanon had chosen to stand by the fire didn't appear strange to Akina at all. Yet, a chair was there, and she would be remiss to not offer it.

"You're very welcome to join me at this warm spot, sir!" she offered with a smile.

A dorin's smile was usually creepy, with bared fangs and unsettling stares, but thanks to Akina's breeding the fluffy white creature's ears lowered, her mouth opened slightly, and her eyes squeezed shut for a second to indicate a pleasant facial expression.

If the elf sat, that means he would be willing to talk longer! This interaction was going great. Akina's tail wagged as her ears perked up again.

"So, what brings yourself to this particular tavern, in this particular city?" Akina ventured as politely as she could without appearing to pry. To provide context, she offered some information about herself in return,

"I myself travelled from Sancta Nova - which is slowly emptying of people as the refugees all find new places to live. Since I got a job as a mail-dorin, my first mission was to deliver a letter here, and I've been here ever since!"

Akina chuckled to herself, apparently finding the fact that she hadn't left yet amusing.

She had always imagined that mail-dorins were swashbuckling heroes, running across all of telath encountering daring pursuits - so she figured that remaining within city walls was, well, grossly ineffective for her particular set of skills.
(Running. Her best skills involved running).
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Old July 16, 2018, 04:40 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Calanon blinked at the Dorin, which for all intents and purposes was smiling at him. And not a grimacey, toothy slightly threatening smile as he might have expected , something approaching a real smile. Slightly bemused, the corner’s of the elf’s mouth nevertheless curled a little in response, and he set down his glass on the table. A nudge of his pack with his boot so it sat a little nearer, and Calanon foldern himself gracefully into the empty chair, a whisper of a relieved sigh as he got settled.

“My thanks to you then…..” he let the sentence trail off so the Dorin might provide him with a name. He’d offer his own in return then. Did Dorin shake hands..paws? Cal wasn’t sure, so he hung back and waited for the other to take the lead in that. And then, before he had gotten much further, there was a question directed his way that at least meant he wasn’t having to fill an awkward silence.

He opened his mouth to respond, but then paused as Akina spoke on, and she hadn’t said much at all before Calanon inhaled sharply, and dropped his gaze to the glass he now wrapped one hand around.

Sancta Nova. It was just a place name, but that, and the update on the state of the many refugees that had fled there, was enough to poke at things that Calanon would rather not dwell on. A reminder that he had made a promise he had not fulfilled, and the elf closed his eyes briefly before opening them again and dipping his head in acknowledgement.

“It has been eras since I was there. I am sorry that you, like so many of us, were given cause to flee there”

He wondered briefly if the Dorin had lost friends, family..but she seemed merry enough that he dismissed it, and also pushed away the inevitable bitterness that made itself known in his own thoughts when he remembered that godforsaken place.

“I had come to call upon an acquaintance here,as I was travelling nearby.” Calanon steered them away from heavier subject matter. “I have only visited the city two..no perhaps it is three times, but I can see that it holds its distractions.”

Pausing to take a sip from the whiskey he cradled, the Sylrosian looked speculatively at the Dorin. “What has kept you here then?”
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Old July 18, 2018, 02:32 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Akina - gods bless her naivete - hadn't noticed Calanon's shift in humor when she mentioned Sancta Nova.

Human-ish creatures, huh. They just did odd things, like breathing in different ways that was supposed to mean something. For what it was worth, Akina had managed to come out of the whole refugee-crisis-situation relatively unscathed. Mostly due to her family's early departure from Frigid River in the early days of the Fog, but also due to the fact that she was more of a dog-presenting dorin than something that appeared like a human-dorin hybrid (as some particular breeds were). Humans, elves, and other races that had fled the Xet were more willing to look upon a young Akina like a very friendly, intelligent hound than another person competing for resources.

So, ignoring any prospect of heavy conversation topics, angst, and general boot-gazing, Akina continued on her merry ramble.

"The name is Akina - I'm from a family of Samoyed-Dorinfolk that originated from High Peak many eras ago to a dorin that's like...8 years. Well met, Calanon!"
Akina raised her front...pawhand...in a makeshift salute that looked like she was tipping an imaginary hat.
Dorins - at least not in Akina's family - didn't shake paws. Tugging another's paw was an invitation to tussle, and Akina thought it would have been rude to invite a brawl right in the middle of the tavern.

She also smiled again, indicating no knowledge of the added layer of horrors which had occured in her hometown. Calanon may have noticed at this point, as Dorins are famously short-lived, that this fluffy white creature would have barely been a pup when all the troubles began, and thus probably didn't consider the modern state of Telath to be concerning. It's just the way she had always lived. The pride she displayed in her pedigree was also a Dorin thing, regardless of the issues which transpired in the place she was born.

"I arrived here to deliver a letter for the patriarch of House Kha'Serith!" She informed Calanon proudly, tail wagging again as she took a moment to quickly sip her mulled cider, "but it turned out to be more complicated than I thought. Turns out, not all Kha'Seriths are shiny and blue and ancient - some of them just look like regular dracons! Then I decided to get some more coin by delivering mails for Governor Sliucha and, well, today's my brightening off I guess!"

Not expecting any of her current life-story to be of any interest to anyone, she returned the focus to her new buddy without skipping a beat,

"What kinds of distractions do you like to enjoy here, Mister Calanon?" Akina inquired, "Games of two-up? Fresh bread-smells? Watching dwarven craftsmen make clocks?"
Evidently, it seemed, those things were the kinds of activities that Akina got up to in the small hours of an early cycle.
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Old July 21, 2018, 12:20 PM   #8 (permalink)
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“And well met to you also, Akina”. Grateful for how easy the Dorin made it to move past things he would rather notthink upon, Calanon was glad instead to hear a little more about the fluffy white female,making quiet observations as he listened.

It had only been when he had begun to travel the empire that the Sylrosian had become aware of just how sheltered his home life had been. There was such suspicion in his people of these outsiders, these other races, and Cal wasn’t sure he would ever shake of the curiosity that had awakened in him once he had stepped outside the protective boughs of his forest home.

Not to say that it was not tempered with his own share of mistrust. There were some races that he found it harder to tolerate.His elven cousins, for obvious reasons. The stubborness of Dwarves. Goblins and Orcs and…..

Well, he was not without his prejudices, let it be left at that.

Dorin though? Calanon found himself rather fascinated by this merry creature who indeed appeared much as a faithful hound. He was not familiar with the House Kha’serith, whomeever they were, but of course, he was in Ziel Aerca, so Sliucha’s name was bound to come up.

“It is the Governor I have come to see” he said, wondering if the Fox Elf managed to personally greet every individual who set foot in her province. It seemed like it at times. He had just raised his glass to take another sip when the Dorin threw his own question back at him, and then Calanon had to swallow around the laugh that wanted to erupt.

What distractions indeed? It seemed a little early on in their acquaintance to regale Akina with tales of Kailin and his night at the casino. And something in the youthful enthusiasm that the Dorin possessed made him wonder if he really ought to talk about the wide array of drugs that could be found in the city, or of Sliucha’s more...interesting business ventures

“Ziel Aerca has plenty of them to offer” he settled on, perhaps only a little guardedly. “ The nightlife is lively I believe, but as I mentioned, I’ve only visited once or twice” He glanced about the tavern and then to the dreary weather outside. “ It seems today at least, a warm fire is enough of a distraction for many.”

Having said that, the Sylrosian realised he was becoming almost uncomfortable hot in the heavy winter cloak he had yet to remove, so he shrugged it off and let it drape over the back of the chair. With any luck the heat from the fire would chase off the dampness of it. With an inquisitive sort of expression on his face, Calanon nodded toward Akina. “You must pardon my curiosity, but how do you not overheat with your..coat..”
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Old July 22, 2018, 01:21 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Ah! They both knew Miss Sindosa! That make a common topic much easier to approach. Akina's mind bubbled with things to ask about her. What kind of flowers did she like? What's her favourite beverage? Are there things she considers to be 'good' personality traints? Where...

Ah! A question about her fur. Fantastic.

As the 5' female dorin was a tad tipsy, she petted the soft white fur on her own cheek in a gesture of pride.
"I take very good care of my fur!" she informed the inquisitive elf proudly, "washing and grooming keeps it dry and soft, and it helps me stay warm in these Wintering months - feel!"

She offered her arm across the table for Calanon to see for himself. Dorins, while mindful of others' personal space (sometimes), had no issue with being touched. So, Akina was perfectly comfortable having a stranger pet at the down-like softness of her arm-fur in demonstration of the quality of her pelt. It was both her greatest asset, and her greatest risk - Akina was acutely aware of certain Vysstichi who would pay a princely sum for her skin to be mounted at the top of a woolen cloak.

Needless to say, Akina tended to avoid those who were barbaric enough to consider skinning a sentient being just for high-quality pelt.

Should Calanon venture to do so, he would find Akina's snow-white fur soft to the touch - like a warm duckling, or what lying in a bed of dandelion puffs would feel like. Akina went on to explain,

"Dorins don't sweat like humans do - we pant, or release heat from our feet, when the temperature rises - but because my fur is in good condition, it insulates me very well, meaning that I don't gain too much heat, or lose too much heat either. The fur underneath this top layer is a different thickness, and keeps me from massive changes in temperature."

Akina nodded to herself, reciting some of the information her father had taught her back during her puphood. It was important stuff to know, particularly when you lived on one of the most consistently-icy places in Telath.

"I'm more at risk when I go swimming. Even in summer - wet fur doesn't work as well, and so I'm more vulnerable to catching a cold or overheating until it dries out. Same if someone tried to trim my fur back. If I don't have all the layers, it doesn't do the job well."

She tapped her nose with the mulled-cider glass, noting to herself that it was already half empty. She'd have to get more! Yes, more cider was always welcome. Though, her feet were comfortably numb, and standing up to fetch more might be troublesome. Hmmm.

"That being said," Akina admitted, "I didn't choose a place by the fire simply because it's cosy - being too close to the door isn't good since I intended to remain for a few candlemarks. Being blasted by frosty air every godsdamn time someone walks in isn't healthy, yaknow! I spend enough time in the snow delivering mails - it's good to defrost and enjoy being toasty now and then, even if it is a little warmer than I'd like."

Noticing that she was rambling a little longer than intended, Akina waved her hand idly in the air.

"But enough about the ins and outs of my family's fur - every Dorin family is different, depending on their pedigree, so I can't speak for everyone - how do you know Miss Sindosa? Are you friends? Can you hear better than a human with pointy ears? I heard pointy ears helps with the hearing."
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Old July 24, 2018, 08:23 AM   #10 (permalink)
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The elf got a little more than he bargained for in response to his idle curiosity, with a far more comprehensive understanding of the fluffy white fur that the dorin sported than he had begun with. And because it seemed impolite to refuse, he reached a hand across the table to touch the proffered arm, eyebrows shooting up as his fingers sanks a little into the plush fluff. It really was soft.

With a bemused ‘huh’, Calanon pulled back and folded his arms in front of him, nodding to show he was listening as the female continued to expound upon the properties of her coat. It was much more complex than he had ever given thought to before, but that was likely because he hadn’t given any thought to it before.

Helpful though, that the Dorin seemed so content to fill the space between them with her chatter so he could play the lesser part. He didn’t always have the patience or inclination for small talk, and it certainly made it easier when he was not having to drive the conversation. Still, he interjected in agreement to Akina’s words regarding the necessity to just soak up the warmth of a fire now and again, the chill just starting to flee from his bones, and his otherwise pale complexion looking a little glowy now.

“I think you did well to stake out your claim when you did” he observed, for the tavern seemed to have filled even in the moments since he had arrived. And there was a subject he could at least contribute a little more toward than the particulars of fur.

“Sliucha? We met through a mutual acquaintance”
. Well, he amended to himself, that wasn’t entirely true. He’d ending up meeting the Governor before Kailin had been able to introduce them, but that was an unnecessary level of detail. “ My ...significant other had apprenticed under her or something, and she introduced us” He stumbled a little over how to refer to Kailin, and it surprised him. Not because of any uncertainty in how he felt, but he wondered what they were. More than lovers, but the very fact of their disparate races made everything that little bit less simple. He took a sip of whiskey to chase the thought away and returned to the matter at hand- Sliucha. “Friends, yes I suppose so, she is very easy to like”.

And because the dorin had rather run her questions into one long stream, the elf’s answers followed suit, and he gave a little shake of his head, before answering one of the most common misconceptions about his people. “ We do not hear any differently from humans” he clarified “Or at least, as far as I know we do not.” A fact which made him wonder -what was the point in the pointed ears sported by he and his kindred? He had not considered it and absently ran a finger over the tapered tip of his own ear as if it might give him some further understanding

You are delivering mail you say?” he asked after a moment, realizing he had become rather distracted. “I’d imagine that is a fruitful business to be in at the moment with plenty to keep you busy?”

With no real postal service to speak of, there would surely be no shortage of work for those running messages and parcels across the empire. Indeed, he knew it was something that his love had been considering as the Alyxanda ships moved between ports. “Has your work taken you far afield?”
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Old July 24, 2018, 08:57 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Akina listened intently to the friend-of-Sliucha, who had a partner! Wow. Akina hadn't taken Calanon for the taken-type. But there he was. Akina idly wondered to herself how many pups elves had. Did the elf before her have pups?

"I deliver things here and there, and use my spare time to fix up the place I'm staying in."
She grinned, took another sip, and continued,
"I'm heading to Port Alyxandra in a cycles' time, after I get the last of the mails to deliver there. That should take me a few cycles at least, before I need to return. How exciting! I read in a book somewhere that Port Alyxandra was the type of place I can find golems! And wizards! And listen to seagulls! And find nice silks!"

Akina allowed herself to daydream for a few moments. So, elves didn't hear any better just because their ears were pointed, but she imagined they looked good in silk. Did Dorins wear silks? Would it be appropriate? She had no idea. Akina realized she might be going a bit past tipsy.

"I ran past Arakmat once. Well, the map told me I ran past Arakmat. But I hear it's dangerous and full of snakes, so I ran really fast in that spot. I didn't stop on purpose, because I was worried that snakes would come out of the sand and bite me. It was very stressful."

Stressed by the memory, Akina took a generous gulp of her drink and raised a hand for the barmaid to bring another.

"I don't really want to go back across the desert...but thankfully I don't think anyone has business in the North anymore. I certainly haven't been asked to deliver anything there, and for that I'm glad."

When Akina's drink arrived she sniffed at the warm, spicy beverage and sighed happily. Apples, cinnamon, and cloves. A sweet combination.
Curious, the white dorin peered over at Calanon's whisky.

"Whachya got there? Is that what you always drink?"
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Old July 27, 2018, 06:20 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Port AlyxandryaOf course. The elf’s brows crept upwards as the Dorin revealed her plans, and then inched higher still as she detailed all her expectations of the City of Queens. “It is where I have been living these past few months” he revealed once Akina had paused for breath. “ It is a fair a city as any of the human settlements I have visited. You will find plenty there to keep you busy I’m sure”

He looked carefully at the Dorin then “Though….I have never come across a golem. Where have you heard about them?”

When Akina drifted on to talk of Arakmat, Calanon looked curious. “It does not seem so long since I was there” a handful of eras only. “..and it was not all snakes. A fascinating place, but the spices did not agree with me. The air was thick with them in the souk and they made me sneeze terribly.But many things change.I had heard the Lamia hold rule there now..” And the elf was reminded of the differences in measuring time between his own people and the shorter lived races. So easy to forget when he had been so absorbed into human society, and he felt that familiar worry that set in when he let his thoughts stray in that direction.

There was a tense smile then as redirected his attention toward Akina and the elf nodded.
“ Of course. Much of the North is barren wasteland now.”

Perhaps they were saved from an awkward intermission by the arrival of another drink for the Dorin, and Calanon wondered exactly what would happen if the female was to get drunk. Could she talk faster? Be more chatty? He found it difficult to imagine and took a sip of his drink to hide his smile.

Only, that too proved to be fascinating too and the elf found himself tilting the glass toward Akina to satisfy her curiosity. “ Whiskey. And no..not always. But it does a good job of chasing away the chill. We aren’t all gifted with such good natural protection.”

Lucky then, that they were close enough to the fire for that -and the whiskey- to have left the elf feeling rather toasty now, and to his surprise, glad of the company. Feeling generous all of a sudden, he went on. “If you are coming to Port Alyxandrya we should meet. Kailin….that is, my beloved, might know more about those silks you have heard about, and I can at least find us a spot beside a fire somewhere to return your gracious sharing of this one?”
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Old July 28, 2018, 03:31 AM   #13 (permalink)
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An invitation! And the prospect of meeting a new friend! How marvellous! Akina hadn't known such wonders were possible, offered by a stranger, so she simply couldn't refuse.

Akina gave the glass of whiskey a sniff, and wrinkled her nose to the left. It was a very strong smell, and not necessarily sweet. Like if you liquidized an oak barrel containing sherry, and took out all the splinters. Fascinating. Akina presumed that it wouldn't taste anything like how it smelled - she had made that mistake with coffee, once - and so refrained from asking to try some.

"Kailin.." Akina attempted to say (what with the limits of Dorin pronunciation, and all) "...that's a nice name. How did you meet? Do you share any pups? Another fireside sounds wonderful if you don't mind having me."

As was the norm when accepting a gracious invitation, Akina smiled again and started on her new pint. Phew! This stuff was good, but the conversation was even gooderer.

"I heard about golems in stories of the Other Cities to the South of High Peak, which is where I spent a part of my puphood. Wonderful stories, of fae and magick and warm, salty waters where the suns turn orange and golden as they set..."

Akina sighed, her eyes trailing off to a more distracted look. Recounting the faerie tales of her puphood were nice, after all these eras. She momentarily wondered if elves shared different stories...being protagonists and antagonists of hers, after all.

"I also heard stories about silks with silver stars woven into them!" She continued, forcing her mind back to the table, "And that fine ladies spend their brightenings not working, but sipping on fruit juices and sweet teas in delicate glass cups. Is that true? Is that what your lady love does?"

Terms like 'lady love' and 'beloved', to Akina, were one and the same when referring to story-book characters like elves, and princesses, and knights in shimmering armor. Calanon might sense that, being raised among the brutes of the infamous Frigid River area, and exposed to the rough-and-tumble of barbarians that razed the North, anything more civilized might come across as somewhat dreamlike and ethereal. Akina immediately imagined Kailin to be some noble-type female with long hair and swishy clothes, in which she might lounge and listen to a lute player as she awaited Calanon's return from...whatever it is he did.

It would then, within reason, explain Akina's fascination with asking Calanon such questions. Particularly if Calanon's mere pointy-eared presence elicited imaginary scenes of mystical dances held under the moonlight, and stories of powerful loves that conquered all evil simply by existing. In her little canine world, such things were a veritable fantasy recounted by grandmothers to small pups to keep them out of the way during a stabbing-ritual, or a fight, or the various other rituals that Dorinfolk were famous for.
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Old July 30, 2018, 06:33 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Mild amusement at the crinkled nose of the Dorin as she sniffed at the whiskey. True enough, it could make his eyes water at times but this one wasn’t too bad. Calanon took another sip, let it play across his tongue whilst Akina found yet more questions. Perhaps he might need another drink too. Or several.

“ She was a kind stranger when I was in need of a friend” he said, thinking back to that day he had come across her in that winter garden. What a state he had been in. And all that had transpired since. There was a sharp glance up at the mention of ‘pups’ and the elf shook his head abruptly, for that was harder to think on and he was not prepared to discuss it.

Silks of stars and ladies who lunched? Well, that was easier, and so Calanon latched on to that instead, amused by the otherworldy view the Dorin seemed to have of such things. “I am sure you and Kailin would get on then..she is more fond than I of fancy silks, with or without stars” But his love was not idle with her days, rather, he had been surprised when he had first come to Port Alyxandrya just how much she worked. It had been an eye opener for the elf who had spent more eras than she had lived playing around in the forests of home, with only the barest efforts towards work.

Of course, he had changed since then, and though he still could not claim to put in the hours that Kailin did, Calanon had his own interests that kept him busy and brought in coin. But, perhaps that did not fit with the Dorin’s imaginings, so the elf decided to humour her. “ Oh, my lady is well acquainted with such pastimes, not as much as some that I have known. Kailin is also very invested in her family’s business. But there are certainly those ladies, and gentleman too, who are content to while away their days doing very little. Is that something that appeals to you?”

There were days of course, where it still appealed to him. But that world, that life, had been closed to him even before the Fog had struck. Even when he had returned home after the Veil, all had shifted. And now it was all gone. So there was little point in dwelling on whispers of a world that could not be.

And then,because it was only polite, and because he too had his curiosities, the Sylrosian asked after Akina’s people kind. “ I had thought Dorin’s usually lived in..a pack? And yet you live here alone?”
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Old July 31, 2018, 12:05 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Akina's merriment immediately fell away. The change was marked. Like stepping on a small dog's tail. Her ears remained upright on her head, but all other indication of light and laughter in her eyes disappeared.

It was as if Calanon had struck a nerve.

Now, to be fair, Akina was...for all intents and purposes...still in a pack. Of sorts. But while tipsy the raw emotions of her memories of the word 'pack' couldn't be hidden behind a smile and a funny tale of goblins and dracons. No. Her conscious mind would go straight to the trauma. That was what drinking did, after all.

An innocent question, perhaps, but a reckless one regardless. And, since Akina was a pint and a half into her brightening, she would be brutally honest with this strange, elf-man who seemed so curious...and so unwise...as to the culture of her peoples.

"I have no honour." She murmured, eyes vacant, "I failed the Graw'lak three times. I thought my pack would be understanding. It was war-time. We were starving. I never wanted to fight. But those are the Dorin ways. So I was left behind. I am Discarded. I am unworthy of Aslan. I am a disgrace. I have no pack anymore."

Akina sat with those feelings for a while, empty of tears. Yes, she had spent many darkenings sobbing into the earth for all that had been taken from her. Her mother, her father, her brothers and her sisters. Not that they had died. No - worse - they were alive, knew that she was alive, yet never wanted to call her their sister.

She could visit any time, but she would never belong. Not until she had proven her Honour. Which, being who she was, Akina never could. They would constantly remind her that she was Not Worthy, and could Never Belong. So, the Pack had left for Aelyria Prime without telling her. They didn't need to tell her - she wasn't invited. Akina had been purposely left behind at Sancta Nova to die, because the pack didn't expect someone with such little honour to live in such a hostile, dangerous place. And so, for cycles, Akina had sobbed and sat along the Bay of Kyathis, wondering if it would be more honourable to drown, or get into a fight with an ex-squire and fall on their sword.

"It would have been better if I had died." Akina murmured again. "Then my pack wouldn't have to pretend I didn't exist. I'm trying to find a pack that doesn't mind my dishonour...but it's not the same. Dracons...don't get it. Goblins don't understand. I am unfit to have a pack, let alone lead. So I run. Alone. I deliver mail, alone. It's all I'm good for."

It might have been at this moment that Calanon realized why Akina, in all her fluffiness, looked so different from the average Dorin. Most dorins, he might have noticed, looked a tad more scruffy. More scarred and mangy, and definitely more threatening to a passer-by. Akina had no scars, no patches of torn-out fur, and no signs of surviving battles. And yet the tormented look in her eyes implied a different, more personal battle. The unseen kind. The kind that most Dorin never had to fight.
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