Shadow of Hope 48

In his usual quiet manner, the barbarian said, ” I am Borlak Dotkina of Sunari, well met.”

“Finn Farstrider of Anatomber, well met again.”

Linking arms with Talon, Rôhn pulled him toward the party, speaking to him as if the Halfling were not present and gesturing to each of the rest of the party members in turn and pausing after each introduction to allow the inevitable superfluous exchange of verbiage characteristic of Humans.  “Allow me to introduce Katarina Tshurka, Priestess of Trymeya…Marcus, Scribe of Denevor…Kurn the Swordmaster…his squire Haron…and *this*–” he gestures toward the Lizardman, “is Cheskith, chef and Chanter of the Silvaraean catacomb-dwellers.”  Rôhn’s tone became more enthusiastic, “His people fought bravely against the Hordes in the Great War!”  Rôhn tucked his thumbs in his girdle and rocked back and forth on his heels, looking up with smiling eyes at Talon, eager to ask him about his whereabouts and exploits since the collapse of the Dragonkeeper’s temple.

Talon nodded to each member at their introduction with a friendly smile across his mouth and eyes only slightly narrowed in concentration.

At Rôhn’s introduction, Katarina bowed with a sweeping of cloth and a pleasant jingling of jewelry.

Finn couldn’t help but staring and blushing at the beautiful priestess of Trymeya and knowing nothing better to do, he bowed as well, hoping the redness in his cheeks was attributed to the trek through the woods.”

Haron offered Finn a youthful smile, and a simple “How do, sir.”

“Doing fine, lad.  Yourself?” Finn returned.

Though Cheskith’s saddle had undergone sufficient alteration to let him sit more or less comfortably in the thing, his expertise in riding had grown only slightly – and his lower body had yet to fully adapt to the continual stress of mounted travel.  He wasn’t quite as badly off as the first day, granted, but all the same he wasn’t about to try bounding off of the horse the way Rôhn just did.  In all likelihood he’d end up flat on his face as his legs buckled.

An attempt at a courtly bow, in imitation of formal introductions which he’d witnessed among many other societies, was thus out of the question.  He settled for raising his hand, palm forward, in a still wave that often served similar purpose in less refined gatherings.

Kurn took his cues from Erellia, Zulian, and finally Rôhn, as to the disposition of the newcomers.  He had little to say for the occasion; the only thing that would surprise him further on this venture, it seemed, would be completing an hour without surprises.  He had let loose the mount he had been leading on the first appearance of the pair to free his hands, and he stepped three paces forward of the horse, standing casually but alert.  As the friendly exchanges drew out into flamboyance, and then into banter, Kurn’s arms crossed, wondering how long they’d be standing here but voicing no dissent to the pause.  He glanced aside impatiently, looking over the terrain to the left, and was both relieved and grateful when Rôhn stepped forward to succinctly complete the introductions.

He nodded with Rôhn’s identification, “Hail,” though the affectations merited a skeptical raised eyebrow, and a subtle, sighing shake of his head on Haron’s identification as a squire, and though he suspected any attempt to voice a correction at present would be superfluous, he corrected, “Haron sets his own path.”

Kurn was plain and Human, by all counts, and appropriately matched Rôhn’s impromptu title; fitted leather armor and a chain shirt that — as of this day — now needed maintenance along with the longsword carried easily on his hip stated the core of Kurn’s reason for being present.  Were it not for the weary experience in his otherwise neutral eyes, Kurn would blend into the background of any group of conscripts or guardsmen.

When the newcomers’ attention traveled elsewhere Cheskith regarded Erellia once again and asked in a low voice, “This is not possible, you say?  Why is that, I wonder?”

“Just when I was beginning to appreciate the quiet nature of this company too,” Zulian mumbled with enough sarcasm for all to hear.  She then moved off toward the edge of the clearing, nodding a polite welcome to Finn as she passed by.

Erellia looked at Cheskith as he voiced his question, staring for a moment as if she had never seen the Lizardman before.  Then shaking her head, she said, “My apologies, a poor choice of words.  More appropriately I should have said, ‘This -should- not be’.  Though when dealing with the likes of Talon,” she added somewhat wryly, turning to look at the smartly dressed man, “the impossible not only becomes possible…but quite probable.”

“I will answer your question in a moment,” Erellia assured Cheskith, moving away from the group and toward Talon.

“Talon, come here,” Erellia said as she moved closer, beckoning to him, “I need to insure that you were not followed to this place.”

Reaching a slim hand up to the side of his face, she placed it alongside his jaw and closed her eyes.  After a few moments, a faint glow can be seen emanating from her hand, and then she lightly jerked her hand away from his face.

Turning back to face the others, she let out a deep sigh.  “We are in a sacred place.  One that is warded and protected from many forms of outside intrusion.  Now that I know we have not been followed and that we are safe within its walls, we may speak somewhat more freely and discuss matters at more length.”


Shadow of Hope 49

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