Part 2: Interlude 1Interlude
The moon has only just begun to climb over the thatched roofs of Dragonholt, bathing the village in pale light that twinkles here and there among the darkened windows. From the vantage of the Swan's second story, Athtar can see over many of the squat businesses and homes clear to the distant edge of Eventide Forest, a black curtain along one side of the horizon.
He stands at the end of one of the inn's hallways, gazing thoughtfully into the night, a fraying old bedrobe hanging loosely off his shoulders. Not a sound breaks his quiet contemplation, until...
One long, blade-like ear twitches and the Elf turns his head, spotting Deepmind standing just outside the door of the women's shared room. He smiles. Not bad for someone with the awareness of a brick, wouldn't you say?
You're assuming I didn't want you to hear me, she sniffs, sidling up to Athtar on now-silent feet. "What's the matter? Can't sleep? I know Urist snores pretty bad most nights.
No, just... collecting my thoughts. It was a harrowing journey. We're lucky to have survived.
You're lucky, maybe. Deepmind crosses her arms in disapproval. What was that noble sacrifice act you tried to pull back there? If big, bad Braxton hadn't backed you up those bandits would probably be picking your bones clean by now.
I couldn't take the risk that someone might be left behind. Athtar's posture stiffens with resolve. This mission was my idea, it's my responsibility to-
Celyse asked for our help, and we all volunteered to come along. The Hyrrnyx's hair bristles slightly, but she absently brushes it back down. You know we've all done this kind of work before, don't go running off to get killed on our account. We can handle it, and so can Celyse.
I'm not so sure... He frowns, and turns back to the window. I cannot say exactly why. Something in the letter seemed... wrong. I know we needed rest before making contact, but I fear...
Deepmind studies her companion, his tense posture, and the corner of the letter poking out of his robe pocket. You're really worried about her, huh? He gives a solemn nod. Let me take another look at it tonight, she offers, slipping the parchment discretely off of his person. Maybe there's something your brick senses missed that I can pick up on.
Athtar smiles again. With your... the smile stays frozen in place a few moments too long while he searches for a reply. ...gravel senses?
Deepmind winces We'll workshop that one.
Because gravel is finer than brick, he persists. Right?
Yeah, no, I did get it. Deepmind struggles to keep her face neutral. Night, Ath. Get some sleep. Big day tomorrow.
The door shuts behind her. Athtar turns back to the window, tracking the progress of the moon into the night sky. His eyes search the distant stars, tracing the contours of ancient Elven constellations, telling the stories of his people back unto the beginning of the world. They twinkle coldly down onto the quiet human village, universes apart from one another.
He shrugs, turns, and heads for bed.
(Hey reader! Can you find Celyse's secret message? The letter is in the second post of the thread, under Special Items, and don't forget Celyse's clue, please refer to my first letter. If you can work out the message, post it spoilered in this thread. So long as someone can work it out, we'll could that as 'solved' for story purposes where that might become relevant in the future!)