Socializing in Tref
SUMMARY: While in Tref dealing with an emergence of the Corruption, adventurers hang out and socialize with the locals.
Tref is a decidedly liminal space, existing right on the border between a refugee camp and a genuine town... striving towards the latter, but not yet there. There are buildings, to be sure -- some are even substantial -- but many residents are living in collections of tents, or just sleeping on the streets. As for other structures -- shops, temples, gambling halls, etc. -- these are all temporary, an open-air market mostly defined by tarps and hastily erected wooden fences.
Erakirak and Silverwing are trading in one of those structures, trying to exchange a basket of recently caught fish for other, more interesting food.
Murder tags along behind Erakirak and the Griffon, eyeing the things up for trade or sale. "Hmm, maybe we should catch some more fish. And I know where we can find some strawberries.", she offers up to the Egalrin.
Morgan comes from the town with two large bags in each hand, she has not noticed the other two yet.
"Strawberries?" That comes from two older-looking Arvek Nar playing a game involving flat stones on a stone pedestal on which a complicated pattern of lines have been engraved. They sigh. "I remember strawberries," one of them says. "Before the war, they would have bushels of them in the market most summer days. My wife would bake them into pies."
"Your wife's pies were awful, though," says the other, sliding a black stone along one of the engraved lines.
"True," the first one agrees, before turning to Murder. "You have strawberries?"
Erakirak regards the two Arvek, then smiles at Murder. "Sounds like you would have some happy customers," he agrees.
The Goblin blinks at the two Arvek pouring over a game of flat stones, and she stands on tiptoe to get a better look of it. "I know where to get some strawberries, yes. Did you want some, then?", she wonders. "What game is this? How does it work?" Murder glances to Erakirak and nods. "I just may.", she says with a toothy grin.
Beaglefarts has arrived.
Morgan gives the two large bags to some on the way to the incampent "use sparingly the store is out of the herb and I dont know how long it will take for them to get more." the man smiles and walks away.
The first Arvek's eyes light up. "Young lady, I would _love_ some!" Then they go dull and listless again. "But I ain't got nothin' to trade for 'em."
The second nods agreement. "This?" he echoes. "We're playin' tak-lees." He sits up a little straighter as he explains. "Each player starts with five black stones and three white ones. Every turn you add a stone, or move one. The black stones move along the curved lines... line this, see?" He slides a stone along one line. "The white ones along the straight lines. If you line up four or more stones, you take 'em. Winner's the one with the most stones when there's no legal moves."
Erakirakjoins Murder and the other two, having traded his basket of fish for a few plates of fried... well, it's unclear _what_ they are, honestly. Probably shellfish of some sort? Anyway, Rak seems to be enjoying them. He hands a plate to Murder, then after a moment's thought offers some of his to the Arvek Nar, who glare at him. "We don't take no charity, birdman!" one of them snarls.
Murder cants her head slightly to one side at being addressed as 'young lady'. "Well, we can do it one of two ways. I can get them for you, or I can tell you where to find them, and you can go and get them yourselves. In return, you teach me how to play this game." She snatches up several of the questionable fried thingies, and wolfs them down in short order. The Goblin frowns at the Arvek. "He is my mate, and he is simply being generous, as I have been. You don't need to be an ass to someone who is sharing. Didn't your mothers ever teach you to share?"
"Tak-leeeeees!" A barefoot child, a human child, comes running into the town and past you all. She's about three, the age where they want to help--and so often end up adorably underfoot. Down the way, a few townsfolk make their way in after her, slower because they're hauling a cart. Nothing looks remarkable about it, unless one were to remark on firewood.
Erakirak grins fondly at Murder's protectiveness.
"Sorry," one of the Arvek mutters, not seeming terribly apologetic, and Rak waves it off. "But, sure, we can teach you. I'm Cornelia, by the way, and this is Moritz." She gestures Murder to a seat, which is really just a flat-surfaced rock, and hands her eight stones. "You put em anywhere you want, but only where lines cross, and not next to each other."
""Right," agrees Moritz. "There some strategy to how to place 'em, but that comes later. For now -- oh, hey Junior!" he says as the child runs in. "You wanna play too?"
Erakirak is paying relatively little attention to the explanation of tak-lees, still less to the human child, some to his fried whatever-they-are, and quite a lot to the Arvek.
Silverwing, for her part, seems FASCINATED by the child, though. She practically sticks her beak in the girl's face, curiously.
The Goblin looks to Cornelia a moment. "So it's a deal? I'll get you strawberries and you teach me to play?", she ask sweetly, a scratchy quality to her voice. She settles herself onto the stone, and pulls her feet in so that she is cross-legged. "And er, can you explain that again?" The child is eyed strangely as he comes running up. Murder blinks at Silverwing, and reaches out a hand to nudge the Griffon. "It is a youngling, a child.", she says to Silverwing. "Careful or you'll be giving rides all day/"
"I can't play I've got to help with firewood. But I'd /like/ to play. Takeese is the best game!" The three year old bounces her hands at her sides, and one of the adults--the arvek of the pair hauling the cart--laughs. The woman beside him is human.
"Alia just has energy because she can't run and play right now. Thank you for finding that spring. We've got all the kids avoiding it, but it was their favorite play area. I'm Friedrich, by the way. Friedrich's brother."
The three year old bounces her arms like rubbersticks, and spins around in a circle near the pretty griffon! "Pretty feather! Pretty feather! You've got pretty feathers!"
The light-hearted and thoroughly non-Arvek sound of a merry panpipe, not unlike the tune with which the Pied Piper of Hamelin enticed all the village's children away in fable. Soon, the source of the whimsical piping emerges from the wilderness, the ranger Ga'Elian, walking beside his companion, a griffon laden with several packages. He walks toward the hovel of one Mori and her grandfather.
Cornelia nods. "It's a deal," she replies... then smiles, the first smile you've seen from her in a while. As she settles down to explain about how to move stones, Rak whistles to Silverwing to reassure her that there are no threats here, and the griffon licks Alia with her rough tongue. "She _does_ have pretty feathers," Rak agrees, settling down to the ground closer to the girl's eye level. "Would you like one?"
Murder's ears stand up at the sound of piping in the distance, and she eyes Ga'Elian a moment before grining and looking back to Cornelia. "Hmm, you should smile more.", the Gobbo says, before staring intently at the stones. She turns the ones in her hands over and back again, looking at them curiously and nodding to the Arvek. Taking one of the white ones, she places it down on the most central point. "They'll go nicely in her hair.", she offers to Erakirak.
Alia's eyes get wide. It seems she would.
"Watch her for us, would you Cornelia?" asks Frederich. "We'll be back after a spell." And, with the relaxation of a small town, he and the woman next to him set the cart rolling, again.
Mori's home is one of the better-made in the area. That just means it was one of the earlier ones, or that her grandfather used to have some influence. The door is closed as Ga'elian nears it.
"What you need to understand," Rak explains intently to Alia, "is that griffons are magical creatures. So their feathers are magic, also. They can only be given freely, never taken by force, and only to people who've been good. Have you been a good girl?"
Cornelia watches the three of them carefully while Moritz guides Murder through the flow of the game.
Ga'Elian stops piping and puts the instrument into his bag. The 5'4" elf raps smartly upon the door. Meanwhile, Erithamiel chirps at <Auran>Wings in Moonlight</Auran>. Ga'Elian takea a knee and watches the door.
The Gobbo plays cautiously, hoarding her strength in the miniature battlefield. Her eyes keep straying, though, to the Egalrin, which causes her to grin each time. "Haha, of course she has been a good girl.", she says, shaking her head. That's what they always say. "So you get to keep and use pieces you capture from your opponent?", she wonders, of Cornelia. Murder's pieces are in a suitable pattern for attack.
The door opens and--it is Mori. Her expression shifts as she sees who it is. She glances towards the road, and then back towards the kneeling sylvanori.
The silence stretches. Ends with, "Well, don't just sit there. What brings you out this way?" Though, she doesn't move from the door.
Meanwhile, Alia ...entranced by the griffon would be too small a word. Erak's words though? She stares at him, eyes wide. And bobbles her head in agreement with Murder, as only a three-year can.
"Ya don't keep the stones, just points for taking lines of 'em. Anyone can place a stone that's not in play," Cornelia explains.
"Well, all right then," Rak agrees, scratching Silverwing's ruff vigorously and retrieving a yellowish-grey feather, which he carefully places in the girl's hair.
Silverwing nods a greeting to Erithamiel before returning her attention to licking Alia.
Murder hmms. "You can make lines with other people's stones, right?", she wonders, sliding a white stone around to make three in a row. When the feather is handed over, the Goblin huffs. "Those are speacial feathers, too. So special that not even I have one.", she says, eyeing 'Rak with a toothy grin.
Alia is a ball of giggles, right now. She is not a human being. She's a ball of giggles. The griffon might bear witness to this transformation--and also that she's flailing at the catbird's face, or trying to hug her, all uncoordinated. Because three.
Cornelia nods. "Right. Don't matter who placed 'em, they're all just stones."
Rak returns Murder's grin with a glint in his eye. "That's right. She only got one of mine... not _nearly_ as cool."
For being a magical predatory beast, Silverwing seems remarkably OK with being assaulted by this small primate.
Ga'Elian rises to his feet and says, moving with neat fae-like mannerisms, "Noble woman, I am come this day to repair unto you my wrongs from two days past. Behold," he begins to unload the griffon, "I did trespass upon your home, did bodily bear your revered grandfather from the comforts of his home, only to deposit him upon the earth, unconscious, and abandon him, and my associates did cause you further distress by threatening to raze your home with flame." By now, there is about 20 tanned hides of varying pelts from rabbit to deer to bear to mountain lion. There are also woven baskets filled with apples, blackberries, and pine nuts. Finally, there are parcels wrapped in leaves. He unties ine of them and unfolds the covering leaf to reveal fresh, raw meat, presumably of the same varieties as the hides. He says, "I hope this will compensate you and your grandfather for the intrusion?" He bows again.
Blink. Blink blink. "I..."
When someone has had nothing--it changes them. The world around them--even so much as an apple, can seem precious. Nevertheless, the gift is grand even beyond those standards, and so the arvek stands there. Dumbfounded.
From inside, there's a coughing, aged voice. "Is that nice young man back? Are you going to have babies?"
"He's...he's not yet well," Mori finds words, at last.
Beside Silverwing--well, Silverwing has a bundle of giggles. As stated before, it is definitely not a human being any longer.
Murder peers intently at the game, fending off a challenge on one side while trying to press an advantage on the other, and not getting anywhere. She huffs and peers at what Ga'Elian is doing, and licks her lips. The Elf is unpacking all sorts of delicious food. The Gobbo's stomach growls. The bundle of giggles and the bemused Griffon makes her grin. "Maybe some time people could go for a flight?", she asks of Erakirak.
Erakirak smiles and looks to Cornelia. "Would that be OK? If I took the girl for a flight around the town, I mean?"
She seems decidedly uncertain. "Ah... better wait for her mother to get back, y'think?"
"But I'm good," Alia insists, with a sideways look at Erakirak. The bundle of giggles scrambles over near the egalrin, and gives him a hug. Because children are nothing like puppies, and never plot at all. Ever.
Erakirak accepts the human hug with a completely unsuccessful attempt to appear perfectly OK with it. It would require actually looking at him, or perhaps merely being in the same room, to realize he's trying to work out the most efficient way to extract himself from this grapple attack.
Murder hmms and slowly stands, stretching her legs. "I think I shall go and keep my end of the bargain, yes?", she says to Cornelia. "I suspect you'd like something sweet for after dinner, hmm?" She eyes the little one, and moves to gently extract her from Erakirak's clutches. "We're going to hunt strawberries before it gets too dark.", the Goblin explains. "You'll like they, they are sweet and delicious." The girl is set down on her feet. "We'll see you again. And maybe your mother will be here to go flying with you."
Ga'Elian chuckles at the Piotr's question but simply says, "I have been blessed to draw comfort from the Ygdrassil Sapling in the nearby Grove. May your grandfather and the others here likewise find relief from the distant alien mind."
Alia looks up at the birdperson she's drawn away from, and then to Murder. "Okay," she says. And then, "Strawberries! I'm good at those." And then she looks at the fluffy birdperson again. "I can help pick Strawberries. There's some in the field, I think."
Erakirak gives Murder a grateful look that probably isn't clearly readable from Alexandria. "Right. Yes. Strawberries. Absolutely. And flying, after. Maybe. If your mother says it's all right." He whistles a command to Silverwing and stands up smoothly. The griffon glares at him and yowls a complaint. He repeats the command and she subsides, settling down with a grumble.
"And we can ask her if you can come strawberry picking with us tomorrow, OK?"
"Thank you. I...thank you. It--" Arvek aren't supposed to cry. The image of the arvek? Stoic. Military. Organized. ...Mori is wiping at her cheeks, and stepping back as though to invite the sylvanori in for a customary drink. Stops. "Thank you," she says, instead. "I...yes. They'd--they'd be okay with that?"
There's silence inside. A cough, and the slow creak of a rocking chair.
Ga'Elian turns to Erithamiel and hops onto the saddle. He says, "Farewell. Know that Tref is being watched by friendly eyes, even if they reveal not themselves." With this he sounds his hunting horn and launches skyward as other horns from the wilderness answer.