Welcome, Dreamer, to the Kingdom of Anduro. Peace reigns in this lovely kingdom, but there is much strife. It has been fifty years since the kingdom was torn by war. Alinor, a small kingdom to the north, invaded our kingdom, in the hopes of moving their kingdom into warmer weather. The northern wastes are harsh and cruel. The people of Alinor were starving, and in their starvation, they became desperate. Posing as friends, they sent delegates to Arten, the capital of Anduro. There, the delegates learned much of the Andurian way. The delegates came before the court, and offered their proposal of friendship. As the great king, Marcus, pondered over their proposal, the Alinorians struck. Their slaughter of the village of Valus left the kingdom in a state of shock, and the Alinorian army took full advantage. They spread throughout the border villages, plundering what they could, gaining footholds, and were ever marching towards the capital. The Andurians retaliated with full force. The war was bloody and lasted for five years, by the end of which, the Alinorians were all but wiped out. And Anduro was left devastated. The damage ranged from the Northern Border, through the western plains, and down to the shore of the Great Sea.
In more recent years, Anduro's economy is on the verge of collapse. King Marcus had died in the war, and with him, the remnant of Anduro's Golden Age. His successor, his nephew, Lucas, does not hold to the same policies as his uncle. As a result, Anduro has fallen upon dark times. Rumors of revolution and civil war are whispered throughout the land, from the darkest tavern, to the poor man's table. Yet if change is to come, leaders must step forth to lead. But who would dare to raise their hand against this tyrant?
Yet even in this dark time, hope shines in the hearts of a few. For there are legends that tell of Dreamers, people capable of tapping into the Currents of Dreams and harnessing the magic of its power. For it is said that magic stems from the realm of dreams. And who knows? Perhaps even the greatest legend of all is true: the existence of the Dream Vortex, the source of all magic. Will these few be able to reverse the darkness and let the Currents shine once more?
For more info on Dreamer's, read Explanation of a Dreamer in the profiles topic.1/17/2011 . Edited 1/21/2011 #1
Nidel stumbled along a trail up in the mountains that bordered the eastern border of Anduro. He knew these trails well, and could almost walk them blindfolded. Not that he would. Last time he had done that, he had accidentally walked into a ladies restroom. That hadn't gone over well. The bartender of the tavern, a bulky woman by the name of Mariana, still laughed at him for that. But things like that were common.
He froze as his ears picked up something. His eyes darted up in time to see the bird perch. It was large, maybe three feet in length, with a six foot wingspan. Its plumage was an unusual coloring. The back and head were a turquoise, it's underbelly was a light blue, and its wingtips were a deep purple shade. It stared down at him with a semi-interested gaze. Without warning, it took off, flying further east, deeper into the mountains. Nidel certainly wasn't going to follow it. The last time he followed a bird into the mountains....he shook his head. Now wasn't the time for that. He needed to get down the mountain. He had important information, and it needed to get to the capital.1/17/2011 #2
(really? lol... guess who?)
Alex had flown back to her own place of residence, after seeing the strange man. She wondered where he had come from, but would have rather not followed him. 'Maybe some other day,' she told herself. She had started a fire in her own little house/cave and reminisced about her parents, and the ones who killed them so long ago. Actually, they had killed her father, then r*** and killed her mother in front of her. The only thing she could do at the time, was to run and hope those evil men had not found her. It was all she could do to keep from crying then.
After learning a few fighting strategies and moves, she found herself getting out of many fights, winning some, or even making logical strategies to avoid them. Alex had learned three different styles, until one day when she found an easier alternative. Her crystal making. It was hard enough to cut diamonds into fine powder, and held well against the elements. After that, she realized that she could affect the weather by thinking what she wanted it to do. Alex tested this by making a storm.1/17/2011 #3
Alex had decided that not only did the bird seem out of the natural fauna, but she would have to choose something a little less extravagant and more inconspicuous. She thought a nice little squirrel would work, but then again, most people would shoot an arrow at a squirrel if they thought it would mean food. As she pondered this, she went out to go walking about. Her form of choice was again, the giant wolf she had known and loved. Alex stood about eight hands high (two more than normal horses), and was bulked out mostly with muscles and blond fur that waved in the light breeze. Her eyes remained amber, but glowed a little in the dimming light. Now, she would go about the woods and make sure that there was no wrong doing in her lands.1/19/2011 #4
Nidel was hopelessly confused, and not for the first time. He had been in the mountains what felt like an hour ago, and he had stopped for a quick power nap (he often traveled at night). However, when he awoke, his surroundings were not the forested mountain he hap closed his eyes to. Instead, his eyes widened as they took stock of none other than a back alleyway in the market sector of Arten. Blinking blankly, he stepped out into the hustle and bustle of the crowds. He was coming here anyway, but.....what for? Still blinking, he brushed past people in a slight daze, until he came to the market center. Where he stopped in the dead center and stared blankly at a statue. Without warning, a hand grabbed him by the shoulder and began hauling off.
"Where the blazes have you been?? Do you have any idea how worried we were?" The person hauling him muttered. Nidel could only stare at the man dragging him along. Without warning, his snatcher hauled him down an alley, making several twists and turns, but clearly leading him somewhere. Before long, Nidel found himself being pulled through the back door of one of the manor houses. In Upper Arten. Where the Nobles lived. And for a brief moment, his blood ran cold. Until he came before the man he was brought to see.
Valerin smiled at his guest. "Ah, Nidel. We were worried. The pigeon said you'd be here as soon as possible, yet it has been two weeks since we received that message."
Nidel shrugged. "Had to take the long route. Some of Lucas's hounds were on my tail. Fortunately, I lost them in the foothills of the mountains."
Valerin nodded. "Clever. Don't you know those mountains well?"
"I thought I did..." Nidel frowned. "That is...until I fell asleep in that forest and woke up in the market sector."
Valerin frowned. "Again? But you...still have it, don't you?"
Nidel blinked. "....have what?"
Valerin put his face in his palm. "Do you have a letter?"
"OH! The letter! Where is it???" Nidel opened his coat and began rummaging around through the inside. Valerin couldn't help but stare at all the pockets. It seemed almost like there wasn't enough room for all of them, yet this man was rummaging through all of them up to his elbow! Finally, after a ten minute search, Nidel pulled out a perfectly conditioned letter. With a huge sense of accomplishment, he presented it to Valerin. "There it is." And he promptly turned and knocked over a maid. "S-sorry!"1/19/2011 #5
Alex had taken yet another person into the city. For some odd reason, people kept getting lost in her land. As a service to them, she took them to the heart of the city, in her favorite disguise of a large wolf. The citizens of the city simply said that she was a forest spirit that brought lost souls to the city to be taken care of. He had left a bad taste in her mouth, but she was soon too tired to carry him anymore, and had been taken (in her human form) to the nearest tavern to rest after collapsing. Nobody had dared ask her name, but they figured they would help her out since she was young and there was no man around for her protection.
She opened her eyes to see the room. It was somewhat kept, with a few things thrown here and there, and the sheets were something else entirely. Alex shivered, feeling a little cold, and the inn keeper of the tavern knocked on the door.1/20/2011 . Edited by Flamian, 1/20/2011 #6
Embry Hawke looked up from her desk as the clock struck the hour. A glance out the window showed that the cobblestone street was dark, dimly illuminated by the streetlamps. Her stomach rumbled and she looked to the clock again. How had it gotten so late? Pushing her short, curly hair out of her face she stared at the book before her. It was a volume of poetry, very old and much abused. Much loved, too, since it's owner had agreed to her nearly exorbitant fee to restore it. It was delicate work, though, and Embry was beginning to think she should have charged more. Sighing, she rose from her workdesk at the back of her bookshop and moved to the front, turning down the lamps as she went with a wave of her fingers. The flames fluttering in their lamps responded to her thoughts, dimming. Once she reached the door, Embry turned the slender brass key over in her hand for a moment. She savored the soft, worn feel and the way the dim light glowed on the yellow metal before stepping through the door and turning to lock it. The sign above her head read "Hawke's Nest: Fine Books Bought, Sold, And Restored" in bright yellow paint, still new and undimmed by the weather.
The wind was bitter and Embry pulled her grey cloak closer around her neck to ward off the chill. Her stomach rumbled again, and she opted for closer over the higher quality inn another several blocks away. As she pushed open the door, Embry remembered why she usually tolerated the longer walk. It could be classified as an inn, but was more correctly a tavern. The main focus of the regular visitors was drinking, but the food was tolerable and Embry chose a table well away from the main crush. She ordered a soup of some sort from the harried barmaid and hoped that it would be edible. While she waited, she watched the people around her. Not much for interaction, she still enjoyed observing humanity. Glancing towards the kitchen to see if her meal was on the way, she caught sight of a man she recognized as the inn keeper climbing the stairs to the rooms above. She suppressed a shudder; having lived in one of those rooms for a week while moving to the city, she felt for whatever occupant was staying there. As a place to spend a night on the road, the rooms were acceptable if a little bare. To live in for a week? Torture. After two nights, she'd resorted to buying her own bedding to avoid what was provided by the tavern.1/20/2011 . Edited 1/20/2011 #7
Nidel stepped into the dimly lit tavern and looked about, inspecting the people as he always did. He was never sure why he did that. In fact, he was never really sure why he did anything. His memory was horrible. His gaze fell upon a girl at the bar. She was odd; everyone kept giving her furtive glances. He shrugged and marched to the other end of the bar.
The bartender, Mariana, turned and her face brightened up. "Well, if it isn't my own dearest customer. Been peeping on anymore ladies?" She asked, winking broadly.
Nidel's face went bright red. "You darn well know that was never my intention, you blasted, confounded..." He went silent when she bopped him on the head, none too gently.
"Oh pipe down, you ol' windbag! That happens to be one of my favorite memories of you. My main one being of you first walking through my door. What a mess you were." Mariana laughed. "Now, what can I get you?" With this last statement, everyone went back to what they were doing, but Nidel couldn't help but notice one girl was staring at him out of the corner of her eye. She quickly ducked her head away.
"Who's that?" He asked. Mariana glanced in the direction of the girl, and her face hardened.
"That would be Embry." She said bluntly. She leaned in real close to Nidel's face. "Now, you best mind your manners round that girl. She's the sweetest thing I've ever laid eyes on, and let me warn you like every other guy. Lay a finger on her and your outta here. Got it?"
Nidel rolled his eyes. "For the love of all that is holy, that restroom thing was an accident!" He hissed, then he paused and sniffed. "Is that Atari Mountain Brewed Ale?? Where on earth did you manage to lay your hands on that???"
Mariana's eyes sparkled. "Wouldn't you like to know?" She smiled before her face darkened again. "No magic."
Nidel's face fell. "But Mari! That lightning fire was a complete accident! I only meant for harmless sparks!"She thrusted a thumb at the opposite wall. It was completely blackened. He gulped. "I see your point. One tankard of the Atari Ale."
"Five shillings." Mariana smirked. To her utter amazement, Nidel pulled out a money pouch and dumped out a pile of gold coins. "Still using gold, are ye?"
Nidel smirked. "It's the only way to go, if you ask me. You never can go wrong with gold." He handed her ten gold coins.
Mariana glanced at the pile. "You've got enough there to have at least...what, a crown?"
Nidel smiled. "Ten actually." He held up a hand to stop her protest. "No one would dare steal from me," for a moment, Mariana could swear she saw a dangerous glint in his eyes, but then it was gone, "they'd never be able to find it." He laughed, placing the pouch back into a pocket. She handed him his tankard and turned to another customer. Nidel glanced around for a place to sit, and he found himself heading to the quiet girl, what was her name....Embry?....and he sat down across from her, causing her to stiffen and stare at him. He smiled. "You're a Dreamer, aren't you?" Over her shoulder, he could see Mariana glaring at him.1/20/2011 . Edited 1/20/2011 #8
Embry tapped her foot impatiently under the table. She'd ordered soup, for goodness sake. It shouldn't be taking this long. Irritated, she rose from her relatively quiet corner and wove her way past the rambunctious evening crowd to the bar, where she struggled to make herself understood over the noise. After explaining herself to the barmaid three times, Embry finally got her bowl of soup. Thoroughly frustrated, she navigated back to the fortunately still-empty table and was able to eat at last. From her seat, Embry had a clear view of both the bar and the door.
An odd fellow in a ridiculous pointy hat entered and Mariana greeted him warmly. Embry didn't come here often, but she had gotten to know Mariana well during her stay last year and the two had become sort of friends. Embry tried to focus on her soup, but the conversation was too interesting (and Mariana too boisterous) and she watched the interaction curiously. It was over soon, though, and Embry returned her focus to the meal in front of her. Tired as she was from working, she let her surroundings fade away to the back of her mind, barely registering the hubbub of the other patrons. A sudden change in the light caused her to look up, right as the odd man from the bar sat down across from her. Embry stiffened defensively, unused to having her solace interrupted. He smiled, which wasn't unusual, but Embry had never heard anyone say what he did next. "You're a Dreamer, aren't you?" he asked. Embry's eyes hardened instantly and she stood abruptly, fishing a noble from her breeches pocket and slapping it down on the table. "None of your business," she told him grimly, preparing to leave.1/20/2011 . Edited 1/20/2011 #9
Nidel sipped from his tankard. "Pardon me, but a Dreamer hardly ever gets the chance to meet a fellow Dreamer." Quick as lightning, his hand shot out, grabbed her wrist, and pulled her back into her chair. Within the same movement, he pulled her hand closer, inspecting her fingertips. "Interesting....a flame user..." His thoughts were immediately as a shadow fell across him.
"I told you to behave yourself." Mariana hissed.
"Cool it. I was just curious." Nidel replied calmly.
"Then release her wrist, or you're outta here for good!" Nidel let go of the girl's wrist.
"Does she know?" Nidel took a sip from his ale.
Mariana glared at him, but glanced at Embry. "Of course she doesn't! Why would I get her involved in this?!"
"You know how hard it is to find good Dreamers. There aren't many of us left."
The bartender's eyes widened. "She's one of us?"
Nidel nodded. "Pretty good at flame wielding I'd say. From the looks of her fingers, I'd say she'd make an excellent Forger."
Mariana was silent for a moment, then glanced around suspiciously. "Tell her only what you must. Nothing more. And be careful! Lucas is looking for you. And Nidel? It must be her choice." And she walked back to the bar.
Nidel frowned. "That buzzard? Looking for me?" He glanced at the girl and frowned. Then, he leaned forward. "Have you ever wanted to do something great with your life? Something so great, that you could go down in history for it? Yet you must understand one thing. If you decide to stay and listen, no one will ever know. Not for years to come. So, the choice is indeed yours. Will you stay, and listen to what I have to tell, or will you leave? And go back to your bookshop?"1/20/2011 . Edited 1/23/2011 #10
Embry thumped back into her chair as the man pulled her down. She yanked her wrist back as he drew her hand closer and inspected it, but he was stronger and it did no good. "Interesting...a flame user..." he mused, sending cold chills down Embry's spine. Mariana intervened then, making the man let go of her wrist. Embry snatched it back, rubbing it where his fingers had left marks and glancing from the man to Mariana as they talked. One of us? What did they mean? A sense of unease crept over her. Embry had known she was a Dreamer for quite some time, and had guessed that Mariana might be too. She'd even had her suspicions about this man, Nidel apparently, but what was this one of us business? The tone spoke of more than being a Dreamer, it was something deeper.
She looked Nidel directly in the eyes when Mariana left. "I am not interested in whatever scheme you have going," she informed him. "I don't want to do anything great, I just want to survive. I've got a good thing going here, and I'm not going to ruin it by getting involved with some clandestine society. I have a feeling the only way you're going to go down in history is by dying, either as a martyr or a traitor. Thanks, but no thanks." Standing, Embry drew her cloak around her again. "Have fun getting killed. Me? I'll go back to my bookshop."
Embry walked out of the tavern without a backward glance. Still, she couldn't get the phrase "one of us" out of her mind. She thought about it all the way back to her bookshop, rolling it around in her mind. It seemed fairly obvious. Some crazy Dreamers had decided to take matters into their own hands, probably through an underground network since Dreamers were not exactly approved of under the current ruler.
Embry didn't mind being a Dreamer. The whole fire thing was pretty handy, kept her expenses down in the shop since she didn't have to pay much for lighting or heat. She didn't like the way things were going in the kingdom either, but she'd always felt safer just going along and making the best of things. What could she do, anyway? She didn't have the kind of power the legendary Dreamers did. She was a shop keeper, a book collector, and a restoration artist. A rather good one, too, since it hadn't taken long to become established in the city. Embry stopped suddenly in the walkway. How had Nidel known she kept a bookshop? He was a Dreamer, true, but still. Embry thought that over as she continued. She supposed that the smell of paper, leather, and age probably clung to her after she left her shop. A glance at her fingertips showed traces of glue and ink, as well, and she decided that it wouldn't be hard to make an educated guess based on those things. Back in the dim entryway of her shop, Embry called a small flame by snapping her fingers. Balancing the delicate blaze on her fingertips, she opened the door and trudged upstairs to the set of rooms above her shop.1/21/2011 #11
Nidel watched as Embry left, but rather than disappointed, he smiled. He had seen the look in her. So she's one of us? Mariana had said. He had been slightly irritated when she said it, but now...it may just be the thing. But he knew what she was thinking. It was what everyone thought. What good would come from standing up? From raising your head? For daring...to dream?
Nidel took another sip from his tankark. He briefly felt something...a slight...stirring in the back of his mind. And then it was gone. He stared down into his tankard. It was often like this. Memories would try to surface, and then they'd be gone. He could barely recall the last ten years. He took a gulp. "What good comes from Dreaming?" he muttered. His eyes roved to the wall next to him. It was untouched, unscarred. And spotless. A mural covered it's entire length. He remembered asking about it. Mariana had told him all about it. A legend. Ages ago, in the ancient past, a fearsome beast had come and devastated the land. It had devoured villages, burned towns, and swallowed cities. But in the midst off all the darkness and chaos, a group of travelers had come. They, harnessing powers far greater than normal men and women, had engaged the beast in battle. The battle had raged, whole plains being raised into large hills, hills were flattened into plains. The whole of the kingdom had watched from the mountains as the Dreamers fought the beast, until one morning, they awoke to silence. Out of the group of Dreamers, only three were left alive. The king had offered them the whole of the kingdom's wealth and treasure, yet the Dreamer's had refused. Instead, they built a pyre and burned their dead, spending a week in mourning. Once the week was over, they had left without a trace, just as they had come.
The mural depicted the final part of the battle. The beast was depicted as a giant shadow with red eyes. Before it, bathed in a divine light, the Light of the Currents, stood the three remaining Dreamers, their companions lay dead around them. Nidel often gazed at this wall. The Ancient Dreamers were so heroic, and yet what was their legacy? Nidel sighed and chugged the rest of his ale. Going up to the bar, he handed over a few of his coins. "I'll be in my room." As he turned to go, he bumped into a girl. The same girl he had seen at the bar earlier. A girl with amber eyes.1/21/2011 #12
The sunset lit Oriana's rocky path as she stepped lightly along the cliff side.She ran her fingers along the eroded rock, identifications flashing through her mind. No such luck. The metal she searched for was rare, even in an impure form. Still, very little was necessary for this particular concoction, and she did not have a reputation for letting down her customers. The path took her to a trickling waterfall on the edge of the escarpment. Though the stream was relatively small, the path ended at that point, as if for sightseeing or as a source of water. Taking a moment to quench her thirst, Oriana assessed how best to continue, if at all. The water had a familiar sweet tinge to her tongue. Curiosity overrode reason and she clambered up a gentler slope until she was level with the creek. Its source seemed to stem from deep inside the rock face, flowing from some form of grotto. Near the origin was a narrow tunnel. The sun had almost completely set now, and Oriana took out a vial of phosphorescent material to light her path. These had become quite popular among miners and hunters. In fact, she mused, it was possible her client was a miner. The substance requested was employed in dissolving certain crystalline substances-extremely potent and even volatile. A blacksmith was possible, given the nature of their work. But the weedy looking man who requested it hardly looked strong enough to be either, or even to afford the expense.
A touch at the water pushed the thoughts out of her mind-this was what she was looking for. Running her fingers along the riverbank, she tracked the source to the mouth of the cave. Large crystals grew along the ceiling of the entrance. Impure green-and from the touch, rich with berylne. She brushed her dark hair off her eyes excitedly-this was an incredible find. Rummaging in her pack for her notebook, Oriana squinted in the gloom as she penned a few notes about the area and how to find it. Explorations would be necessary later on. She reached for her chisel, then thought better of it. In this near-darkness, it would be difficult to make a safe cut. Best to take the path back and assess findings another time.
She crawled back over to the edge of the rock face and gingerly tried to edge her way back down. A misplaced foothold led to a rapid slide down to the path, and she landed on her tailbone hard. Oriana grimaced as tears pricked her eyes and pain popped at her lower back. Slowly standing upright, she began an ungainly limp back to Arten. It was going to be a much longer walk going back.1/23/2011 . Edited by Flamian, 1/24/2011 #13
Nidel paced about his room. For whatever reason, that amber eyed girl unnerved him. There was something about her....and he couldn't shake the feeling that it involved his past. Grabbing his hat, he plopped it onto his head and stole out of his room. The bar was nearly empty, just a few stragglers and drunks left. Once outdoors, he continued walking. He paused before a bookstore. This must be Embry's. He thought. But she would have to wait. As Mariana had said, it was her choice. He sighed. The Guild of Dreamers, the Dream Initiative. At this rate, it's revival seemed hopeless. And now Lucas was looking for him. That was one reason for the scarcity of Dreamers. How many had Lucas rounded up? Five? Any other openly active Dreamers had all fled. Not that there had been many. Ten years ago, there had been at least a hundred. Two years ago, only twenty remained, the others having left. And now it seemed, only a handful were left. And Embry had a point.
His thoughts were broken as he saw a group of soldiers heading towards him. Shadows that fall, hide me! He thought, drawing upon his dreams. Surprisingly, the spell went perfectly. The shadows of night crept around him, causing him to simply vanish. The soldiers marched on. They paused where he was standing.
"I thought I saw someone here." one of them said.
The captain tightened his grip on his spear. "Aye, so did I. It may have been that Dreamer Lucas wants. Nidel Nitorin." He glanced around. "Seems we were wrong. There's no one here, boys. Let's move on to tonights target. Mariana Slarn. Report says she has ties to Nidel and another Dreamer."
Mariana. Embry. They're going after them! Nidel realized. Quickly, without really thinking of what he was doing, he leapt out, the shadows dispelling from him. "Blessed winds, here my call! Erase their minds!" The soldiers turned back to him in fear. The wind picked up and died. The soldiers stared uneasily for a moment, then began to first chuckle, and then laugh at the seemingly failed spell. Nidel didn't pay them any attention. Instead he looked up above them and frowned. "Oh crap...." The area blazed with light as lightning fell unwontedly, striking each soldier. Nidel blinked as he saw spots everywhere. He heard the soldiers m***, and after blinking profusely, he was able to see them lying on the ground. "Well....I suppose that works too." He muttered. He sniffed, then took his hat, threw to the ground, and stomped out the small flames. He inspect his beloved headgear with a crestfallen face. It would take a very skilled person to mend it, and he certainly didn't trust his own magic to fix it. He glanced around. Fortunately, no other fires had erupted, but several people were starting to come investigate. He turned down an alley, summoning the shadows, but the spell failed. Slightly crestfallen, the dreamless Dreamer wandered back to the Old Oak tavern, where Mariana gave him a worried look as he passed her without a word. He went straight up to his room, gently laid his damaged hat on the dresser, and fell onto the bed for another dreamless and restless night.1/23/2011 #14
Fire, all consuming, engulfing her books, hungrily devouring page after page of priceless volumes and no matter how hard she tried Embry could not quench the flames. She brought bucket after bucket of water, from where she didn't know, but it evaporated before it even touched the flames. Somewhere in the distance low, malicious laughter rumbled, causing Embry's body to shudder even though she was trapped in her dream.
Embry tossed on her bed, waking from the dream and sitting bolt upright with a gasp. She held her sweat-damp hair away from her face, trying to catch her breath. The dream was a recurring one, and she hated it more each time. Embry could never figure out what it meant and finally gave up trying a few months after moving to the city. Crawling out of bed, she moved to the window. Her bedroom was directly above the front of the shop and overlooked the street. She leaned against the window frame, resting her head against the glass. The outside air made the glass chilly and brought welcome relief to her burning skin. Embry stared down the twisting street, eyes unfocused, until a flicker of motion caught her attention.
A group of soldiers walked along the street. They were still pretty far up, but their shadows danced through the street lights periodically. She watched with a cold, dispassionate stare until something caught her attention out of the corner of her eye. It was like something was there and then gone, but not quite...she couldn't describe it but the heightened senses that came with being a Dreamer told her that it wasn't her imagination. The soldiers stopped in the street below her shop and she could just hear them if she strained. Nidel? The crazy man from the Old Oak? What did they want with him? He lurched out from the shadows then, and her eyes grew big when lightening crashed down into the group of soldiers. He put out the remaining flames with his hat and then vanished into the alley. Embry glanced at her clock. It was late, but Mariana would still be up. There were some questions that needed to be asked.
For the second time that night Embry made her way to the Old Oak. She had waited until the soldiers dispersed, muttering, and had then cloaked herself with darkness before stepping onto the street. Traveling cautiously and avoiding the light, Embry slid into the tavern. It was nearly empty but Mariana was still at the bar, wiping it down with a rag. Embry pulled up a stool and slid two shillings onto the counter. "Cider, please," she said softly. Mariana pulled the drink for her and Embry sipped at the cool beverage. She wrapped her hands around the mug, staring into the liquid and trying to find the right words. "What do you know about Nidel, the man who talked to me tonight?" she finally asked. "What did he mean by 'one of us'?"1/23/2011 #15
Mariana was just finishing up her cleaning, when she heard the door open. Looking up, she was surprised to see Embry. She watched as the girl pulled up a stool and laid three shillings on the counter. "Cider, please." she said softly. Mariana handed her the mug and watched as the girl formed the words. She knew what they were going to be. "What do you know about Nidel, the man who talked to me tonight. What did he mean by 'one of us'?"
Mariana sighed. "Truthfully, I don't really know that much about the man called Nidel Nitorin. No one does. Ever since he first came through my door ten years ago, he's been nothing but a mystery. He has no memory. No memory of who he is, other than his name, his past. Nothing. He barely remembers his own powers. But that man is good. Ever since he came here, covered in mud, he's done his best to help however he can. He stayed here for a year, then just left, leaving a note that he was going to travel the country. And that's what he did. He'd stop by from time to time, telling me of the state of the country. We have it pretty good, here in Arten. The major cities are holding their own, but the smaller towns and villages are constantly plagued by bandits, illness, and monsters. Nidel spent five years doing his best to help things. And then one day, he came to me. 'What we need is a team.' he said. I just frowned at him. 'What are you going on about?' His eyes took on this serious gaze. 'I know you're a Dreamer, like me. And a good one, too. What we need, is a team. A guild, of sorts, of Dreamers. I can't do this on my own.' He raised his mug to take a drink, and I was shocked to see it was shaking. 'I-I cant.....I can't do this alone. ' 'Nidel, what is it? What's wrong?' He wouldn't meet my eye. 'I can't dream. Every night, I sleep, but I don't dream. Not even nightmares.' He looked up with tears. I didn't know what to think of that, but at the time, I just thought he'd had a bit too much to drink. So, I helped him upstairs to his room, and the next day, he went with me to a nearby city to help me get a package that I was expecting. It was a rare item, you see, and I didn't trust anyone else to bring it to me. On our way back, we came across some merchants. They were being robbed by bandits, mercilessly being beaten. A few of the girls were being harassed. Nidel couldn't stand that. He stepped forward, and in a loud voice he said, 'Leave them alone!' The bandits stopped, and their leader laughed and mocked him. 'Look hear, boys, this beggar thinks himself a knight! Get him!!' Nidel stood his ground and raised his hands, palms up. 'Sacred fire, heed my call! Incinerate!!' Only no fire came. The bandits laughed even more, and Nidel gritted his teeth as he prepared for them to charge. All of a sudden, the wind picked up and began to blow, and it grew stronger and stronger. Within just a few minutes, the once bright sky grew dark as night. The wind screamed and raged, nearly ripping me off my feet. And then it was gone. The sun shone down again, and there was no trace that it had even been there. Except that the bandits, and the bandits alone, were gone. Not one of them remained. The merchants were fine, completely healed of all their wounds. And Nidel just slumped to the ground." She paused and poured herself some cider as well, except she slipped just a tiny bit of ale in it. She took a sip before looking Embry in the eye and continuing. "If there is anyone who could help us restore our country, and dispose of Lucas, it's Nidel. But he needs help, see? He needs other Dreamers. Because he truly can't dream himself. Whatever it was that caused the loss of his memory, it did something else, too. It cut off his dreams. Now don't you misunderstand. Nidel was, I've no doubt of it, and still is, one of the most powerful Dreamers I have ever met, and I've met my share of them. Stronger than me, and he calls me strong. But you see that mural?" She gestured to the wall Embry had sat next to earlier, where the mural spread across it. "If there were ever a Dreamer to make me believe that legends could be true, Nidel is that Dreamer. And mind you, not all his spells go wrong. But the thing is, when he casts, be prepare to the unexpected. The oddest part is that no matter what attack spell he ends up using, his allies are never injured, but rather, healed and rejuvenated. The stronger the spell, the more exhausted he becomes. But the way he does it so easily.....it makes me wonder just how strong he was before he lost his memory." Mariana broke off into thought.1/23/2011 #16
Embry sipped slowly at her cider while she digested Mariana's information. A Dreamer's Guild was an interesting concept. One couldn't do much alone but maybe...just maybe they stood a chance together. It was something to consider. She quirked her eyebrows together and looked up at Mariana. "He can't dream?" Embry couldn't grasp that. Dreams were constant when she slept. Most of the time they were soothing, benevolent, and barely there but other nights...a chill crept over her skin. "I can't imagine not dreaming. Some days, though...some days I'd like to know what it feels like," she murmured softly. Flames and the image of burning books danced across her eyes for a moment, causing her to close them tightly for a moment, willing the visions away.
When she reopened them with a deep breath, her grey eyes were clear and firm. "So, has anything been done about this 'guild' of Dreamers?" Embry asked the barkeeper. "He's talked to you and me, has he talked to anyone else? Is there any sort of a plan or is this just all willy nilly? Should we even be talking about this here?" Glancing down the bar at the lone drunk slumped over the dregs of his last tankard, she looked back to Mariana with an amused glance. He, at least, shouldn't cause any problems but sometimes even the woodwork had ears.1/23/2011 #17
Nidel stared up at the ceiling. He knew that he hadn't been back long. The sky was the same as it had been then. He lay there blankly for some time, before getting up. He needed a tankard. After using magic like that, good strong ale was always able to help him relax. As he neared the stairs, he paused. Mariana was speaking to someone. And she was speaking about him. He listened, and he realized she was telling someone about him. Silence reigned, and he was about to go down the stairs, when he heard Embry. "I can't imagine not dreaming............some days, though...I'd like to know what it feels like." His hands clenched into fists. She spoke again. "So has anything been done about this 'guild' of Dreamers? He's talked to you and me, has he talked to anyone else? Is there any sort of a plan or is this just all willy nilly? Should we even be talking about this here?" His fist relaxed and he smiled. The girl had spirit, and from the sounds of it, she was in. As he came to the bottom of the steps, he heard Mariana say, "Right now, we're in the recruitment phase. He's talked to some, and we have a few others on our side. Plus...." Nidel interrupted.
"We have allies. Valerin, a rather wealthy nobleman, is creating his own resistance. I've helped him out some, but he still believes this can all be solved politically. He's wrong. Lucas will never listen to diplomacy." He said. Mariana glared at him.
"We don't know that for sure..."
"Oh, yes we do." Nidel said. "Lucas is a Dreamer." His eyes glinted fiercely.1/23/2011 #18
Finally making her way into the streets of Arten, Oriana walked calmly into the heart of the city. The streets seemed unnaturally loud for such a time of the evening, and the source of the commotion was close by. A couple people had gathered around some soldiers who were pulling up comrades. She squinted at the m*** soldiers-their hair seemed blackened, and strangely-their skin smoking. Fear glinted in eyes all around.
"Dreamers!" groaned one of the soldiers, "A renegade, men-AGH," the man winced in agony as he tried to shift his body.
"On these streets! How long ago?" "What are your orders, Captain?"
Whispers shifted through the increasing crowd, faces alight, twisted with hatred or panic. Members of the Guard clustered around, and there was no mistaking the fire in their eyes. Oriana dipped back into the shadows, but it was still a quarter league back to the Medici residence. Being caught out at this hour would be most unwise for a Dreamer, even a subtle one. Catching sight of a familiar inn, she stepped lightly through the streets.
By contrast, there was an unnatural hush to The Old Oak. Mariana, the barmaid seemed preoccupied with an oddly dressed man. Beside her was Embry, the shy woman who bound Oriana's volumes on most occasions. Though Oriana and Embry had never spoken much, there seemed to be a silent understanding between them, as if they were of the same breed. In more ways than one, they were. Embry seemed rapt with what the other two were saying, and almost scared herself. Oriana took a seat at a nearby table warily, sensing that the business outside was not entirely unrelated to their counsel.1/23/2011 . Edited 1/23/2011 #19
Embry looked up as Nidel came down the stairs and listened to his brief exchange with Mariana. Allies were good, she thought to herself, but how powerful was this Lucas and how disorganized were the Dreamers? She sized Nidel up warily, remembering his little escapade and noting the absence of his signature headgear.
A draft of cold air whisked across the back of Embry's neck and she turned her head to see Oriana enter. She'd bound quite a few things for the young alchemist. Embry wouldn't call the two of them friends, in fact they rarely spoke even during business, but there was a silent connection between the two of them and somehow Embry trusted her. She watched her for a moment, noting how gingerly the other girl sat down and how guarded her body language was. She'd seen something tonight...Embry was dying to ask her, but turned instead to Nidel. "I almost didn't recognize you without your hat," she quipped. "Did it survive your adventure tonight?" She watched him, waiting for his response and feeling quite clever.1/23/2011 . Edited 1/23/2011 #20
Nidel glanced at the door as a girl walked in. Instinctively, he felt a connection to her. The same he felt around Embry, Mariana, and....that girl. That amber eyed girl. So, altogether, there were at least five Dreamers. He didn't dare count Lucas as one of them. Lucas had betrayed the Dreamers' legacy. Then Embry asked, "I almost didn't recognize you without your hat. Did it survive your adventure tonight?"
Mariana frowned at him. "Tonight? What happened?! I see you walk out, and not ten minutes later you walk back in with hols in your hat with smoke still rising off it!"
Nidel frowned. Nidel turned to the rest of the drunks and stragglers. "Everyone out! Except you!" He said, pointing to the girl he had seen walk in. "The rest of you, out now!" They all left in quite a hurry, and Nidel glanced outside, before locking the door. Next he went to all the windows and pulled down the blinds. Returning to the bar, he sighed. Mariana noticed his hands shaking, and she quickly handed him a tankard. "Thanks." He muttered, before taking a large gulp. He set the tankard down with a thud. "I ran into some soldiers. Embry here must have seen it. It was practically in front of her shop. They were on their way here." He took another sip, then turned to the new girl. "I told you to stay because your a Dreamer. Your very presence feels like these two." He gestured at Embry and Mariana. "And sensing Dreamers happens to be one of my specialties. It's my only power that never goes wrong. Good or ill, I can sense a Dreamer. And you're a darn good one too." Nidel took another sip. "And the reason I say all this is because those troops were going to use Mariana to get to me, and then possibly to you." He said to Embry. He turned to the girl. "Now, I'm not sure who you are, but you still have a choice. Those soldiers were thrown off their guard. They won't really remembered anything that great, not after that shock I gave em. So that'll throw them off our track. At least for a while. Either way, we're all going to have to be a whole lot careful. Fly under the radar. It's probably best if I just stay here in the Old Oak for a few days. No one in here will report me. And if they do...well, you know my handiwork." He finished off his tankard. "The rest is up to you. I've already made up my mind. I'm going to fight Lucas, no matter what it costs." His hands continued to shake. Mariana looked at him with concern. He held up a trembling hand. "I'm fine, just....exhausted...it's always worse when the spell goes awry." He fell silent.1/23/2011 . Edited 1/23/2011 #21
The murmurs from the bar were too faint to hear, but Oriana's eyes kept drifting back to the three of them, and there her thoughts strayed also. The bookbinder and the barmaid, faces full of seriousness, and a stranger who held their attention, his eyes burning.
Suddenly, this man turned to the scattered crowd in the bar, "Everyone out!" his voice rang authoritatively, "Except you!"
Oriana started a moment when she realized he pointed to her. She stood gingerly, casting her eyes back to Embry, who gave her a nervous but definite nod. For the first time, she sized up the strange traveler as he returned to his companions. Despite his worn traveler's apparel, he struck her as an impressive figure. His face was set with seriousness, but his brilliant green eyes sparkled in the dim light of the tavern. She wasn't surprised when he admitted his run-in with the soldiers.
"I told you to stay because you're a Dreamer. Your very presence feels like these two," Blue eyes met green, and the moment felt electric. 'Dreamer'. He spoke it like a definition, an identity. And through his rushed words of being careful…staying under the radar...Oriana was struck by an immense gravity to the situation, of which she was not aware. "The rest is up to you. I've already made up my mind. I'm going to fight Lucas, no matter what it costs." His hands shook violently, and Oriana felt a soft impulse to grip them, to understand his broken nature. It was soon replaced by confusion as she considered the situation.
"I'm sorry…but I don't quite follow what has happened here," she looked back at Embry, then Mariana, then finally the stranger, "Or what is happening. There is what is amounting to a mob gathered on the streets back there. I have been told that my life is under immediate threat because of my…abilities. And you…tell me you are going to fight King Lucas? Why? What do you have to do with this?" She appealed to Embry, "And what part, if any do I have to play? You said I have a choice, what is the alternative? What are you hoping to gain? To advance? And-" she stopped suddenly, realizing she was raising her voice. Pulling up a stool, she sat carefully, her eyes guarded, "I'm just…looking for answers."1/24/2011 . Edited 1/24/2011 #22
Nidel's sudden outburst made Embry jump. He seemed to grow for a moment as he ushered the stragglers out and secured the tavern. When he returned, though, he looked eons old and bone weary. Mariana silently handed him a tankard of something that seemed to steady him for a moment. Embry's eyes darted to Oriana and back to Nidel. It made sense that she was a Dreamer and explained the silent, instant connection she had felt to the other girl. Embry began to realize what she was getting into. This thing, this group, this was real. There would be danger, people would be hurt, maybe even die. In the course of the night, she had become a traitor. The thought sent a shiver straight down her body. It was part fear, part excitement, part dread.
Embry's blood ran cold when the girl mentioned a mob. If they were gathering by the place the soldiers were struck, then they were right in front of her shop. She'd worked so hard for that shop, and a hint of the dread she had felt during her dream returned. Shaking the feeling off as far as possible, she did her best to turn her attention to the conversation at hand. Oriana's gaze was jumping between different members of the group, confusion clearly expressed. Her voice rose as she spoke, and Embry couldn't blame her. Oriana sat at the bar, watching them carefully. "I...I don't know," Embry confessed. "I'm not really sure what I'm doing here either, or how I fit in...I just know I do."
She thought silently for a moment. "I suppose our alternative, at least one that you and I could live with, Oriana, would be to try to live normally for as long as possible. I don't know how long that would be," she added, glancing to Nidel. What threat had she ever posed to Lucas? Why would he want to come after her? "As for gain...perhaps I'm selfish, but all I want to do is protect my life. If someone is going to come after me, I might as well put up a fight. I can't fight a bunch of soldiers on my own, so I have to find help."1/24/2011 #23
Nidel gave a sigh. "If there is a mob forming out there.....I need to draw them off." He pushed himself to his feet, only to stumble a few steps and fall with one knee on the ground. He began to gasp slightly, struggling to maintain consciousness. Mariana came out from behind the bar as the two girls watched silently.
"I knew you'd try to pull something like this." She said, throwing one of his arms across her shoulders and hauling him to his feet. He muttered something coherent. "Oh, you'll thank me in the morning. If I know you at all, then you haven't had a decent night's sleep in at least six months." She began taking him to his room, listening to his muttering all along the way. As she came to the steps, she noticed the amber eyed girl sitting on the lowest one.
Alex gulped. "Is he going to be ok?"
Mariana smiled. "Of course he is! Nidel's always liked this, and this isn't the first time I've drugged him to help him sleep. He just needs some rest."
Alex walked in front of her up the stairs. "I'm returning to my mountains in the morning." She gave a defiant look at Mariana. Mariana just smiled and nodded. The girl turned into her room, but turned back before closing the door. "The guards managed to disperse the mob. They aren't sure as to what happened, but the mob is under control. No damage to any buildings." And the door closed.
Mariana gave another sigh. That girl was troubled, and a handful. She never talked about her past, and just glared and growled when asked about it. So the barmaid just let her be. Still....there was something about her. And she had noticed the brief look of recognition Nidel had had when he bumped into her before. She was connected to his past. But how?
She turned into Nidel's room and gently helped him lay down. After covering him with the quilt, she inspected his hat. Shaking her head, she picked it up and headed back downstairs. Perhaps Embry could do something with it?1/24/2011 . Edited 1/25/2011 #24
Oriana watched Nidel struggle with coherence and an odd stab of pity struck her. Mariana seemed quite calm as she pulled him up the stairs, and Oriana almost asked if she needed help, then thought better of it. She turned back to Embry:
"I…think I see what you're getting at, but vaguely. So our choice is that we can walk away from…whatever this is, and hope that it sorts itself out. Or we can join, and be put in constant danger, but be prepared to do something about it," she deliberated, gazing back at her evenly, "This is some sort of Dreamers…conspiracy." Just then, Mariana returned from the rooms, carrying a peculiar hat that seemed to be blackened and torn. Embry seemed to recognize it, but it meant little to Oriana. "I've never been much for needlework, but I hear you have a delicate hand," Mariana smiled reassuringly at Embry, "Perhaps you could give it a try?" "Will he be alright? Can we find him here tomorrow?" Oriana asked.
"He'll be fine. But I'm hoping to get him a good sleep, so don't come by till around noon!" she winked, as if the previous conversation had been about nothing more than the weather.
"Fine. We'll be back then," she looked back at Embry, "Will you walk with me? I have a feeling we have a lot to talk about, at least until tomorrow."1/24/2011 #25
Nidel's near collapse frightened Embry. This was the man who, to all appearances, was heading the resistance? Oriana spoke then, cutting her thoughts blessedly short. She began to nod her agreement with the alchemist's summary when Mariana came back down the stairs.
Embry took Nidel's hat from Mariana, turning it around in her hands and letting her fingers inspect it. The poor thing looked like it had been through hades and back. The crown was crushed and, as Mariana had said, burnt patches littered the tattered piece of headgear. It was still fixable, though. "I'll bring it back tomorrow," she told Mariana with a soft nod. To Oriana, she said, "I've a spare room above my shop, if you don't feel like walking all the way back to Medici's. I could use the company, too," she admitted. It was pathetic, but the nightmare still lurked in the back of Embry's mind. Combined with the events of the night, being alone was not appealing.
Despite the chill, she moved slowly through the night with Oriana. "Nidel calls this a Dreamer's Guild," she told her, keeping her voice low. "I don't know exactly what he has planned. I don't know if he has anything planned," she sighed. "I don't even know if I can go through with it. All I want to do is keep things the way they are. They aren't perfect, but I know where I stand." She glanced at Oriana as they passed a streetlamp. The other girl seemed poised, collected, and had remained relatively cool through the evening. How Embry wished she had the same inner strength! She was tired, disheveled, and felt very, very small right now. The thought of change and her inability to prevent it irritated her, nagging in the back of her mind. Life as she knew it was crumbling, and there wasn't a thing her clever fingers could do to stop it.1/24/2011 #26
Two figures watched from a rooftop as the two women headed for the shop. The taller one, a boy, grunted. "So, Nidel's got to them."
His sister stepped up next to him. "Well, he's convinced that bookbinder, at least. I can see it in her eyes." She glanced at her brother. "I wouldn't underestimate that one. She's a natural born. Like Nidel. His memory still gone?"
"Affirmative. And the only way we can help, right now anyway, is just by being around him. Didn't you feel it?" He asked.
The girl nodded. "Aye. I felt it. That brief ripple. If he can cause the Currents to ripple like that when he's dormant, think of what it would be like to stand next to him fully dreaming!"
The boy shuddered. "I'd rather not. Should anyone really hold that much power?"
She chuckled. "He isn't the only powerful Dreamer here. The bookbinder has tremendous potential. As does that other girl. The alchemist."
The boys eyes shot wide. "You failed to mention that. Little detail. That changes things." He glanced up. "Night has fully fallen. Shall we make our report to Mariana? Or go and see what the old buzzard in the castle is up to?"
"We make our report. Mariana has been expecting us for two weeks. We slip in through the back; no one will see us that way." Cloaking themselves in shadow, they leapt from the rooftop and made their way around the back of the Old Oak.
Mariana was still up. She heard the soft knocking, and the shadows fell off as the two walked in. "Here to give our report, ma'am." Jera said. Jero sniffed. "What is that? Stew?" Mariana chuckled as she dished the two up bowls of the stew. Jero instantly threw himself into a seat at the table in kitchen and began to eat with gusto. Jera frowned at him and stood rigid. "Ma'am..." Mariana cut her off.
"I told you to call me by my name. A guild this may be, but there's no need for formalities." She said, smiling. "Now, eat up." Jera couldn't help but let a smile small cross her face, and she gratefully began to eat.
Jero finished, barely restraining himself from licking the bowl. Mariana dished up more stew. "We don't have much, but we've got some more info."
Jera wiped her mouth with a napkin. "There are reports all over of increased troop activity. Especially out around the border villages. Seems like Lucas' is fortifying all the forts."
Mariana frowned. "Is he expecting an invasion?"
"If he is, it certainly won't be Alinor. We were up there the other week, and they certainly have no intention of another invasion. They pretty much used up their resources in the war. They're thriving best they can, though. I just wish there was more we could do for them." Jera said. "At any rate, it's mostly the southern border that's been built up. And we've found something." She reached into her satchel and pulled out a roll of paper. Mariana unrolled it, and her eyes went wide with shock.
"A wall? He plans to build a wall all along the southern and western borders?!" she asked.
"Seems like it." Jero answered. "It's odd, though. The king isn't hunting Dreamers anymore. Just one."
Jera's eyes softened with concern. "How is he? We saw what happened earlier, but we were too far to do anything."
Mariana sighed. "I slipped him a sleeping potion. He won't be awake till around noon tomorrow. Or rather, later today. That lightning of his took up more than he expected. Especially after using shadows to cloak himself. But he has regained much strength. The reason he's so weak now is because of lack of sleep if anything. Speaking of which, I have your rooms prepared. Go get some rest." She watched the two hurry off. Then turned back to the plans. What are you up to, Lucas? What is it that you're afraid of? Could it be.... She broke off, then dimmed the lights and went off to bed.1/25/2011 . Edited 1/25/2011 #27
Oriana nodded slowly, grateful, yet surprised by Embry's offer. "That would be ideal, thank you." The hush as they returned to the streets seemed strained now, as if the city itself was laboring in shallow breath. Though they were alone, Oriana's eyes kept darting around street corners, conscious of danger-or company at least. She listened carefully to Embry as she spoke of the Guild, and what it would mean for their lives.
"I understand…the life I live now is comfortable, but most importantly, I am able to conduct my research. We may be safe now, within the city, but things are a far cry from how they were in the Golden Age…my mentor used to speak of how knowledge was prized, the peace that flourished, and the Dreamers, though still rare, that were honoured as legends," she breathed deeply, recalling the rich pages of the history books,
"Even further into legend, Dreamers were part of Guilds such as these, and they did incredible things. They could fully harness their abilities, and used them to defend cities, to discover…to Dream, more than anything," her words cut short as she fell into thought. They reached the stoop of Embry's shop, and the other woman fumbled with the key. Oriana considered Embry with a mix of curiosity and companionship. "I have never met another Dreamer before, that I knew of. What is it like, for you?"1/25/2011 #28
Nidel tossed and turned in his sleep. For the first time in ten years, he was dreaming. And he knew he was dreaming. Yet he couldn't understand what he was seeing. The dream was.....incoherent. Nothing but a jumble of flashes of light and images.
He watched as he saw glimpses of himself in the midst of a battle....and he knew that this was more than just a dream. A memory. He heard himself calling out spell after spell, but he could never hear what they were. All sound was distorted, like he was under water. And the images came and went.
His grip on his sheets tightened. His quilt had been thrown off earlier. There was one final flash, and the dream ended. His mind faded back into nothingness for the rest of the night.1/25/2011 #29
"I have never met another Dreamer before, that I knew of. What is it like, for you?" Embry froze for a moment, hand on the doorknob. "Let's...let's go in," she said quietly, stalling for time to get her thoughts straight. She led Oriana through the shop and up the staircase to her apartment above. Touching her fingertip to the various lamps, she quickly had a soft glow in the open room that served as her kitchen and living space. Embry made tea, heating the water quickly with a bit of Dreamer magic.
Settling crosslegged in an old, overstuffed chair across from Oriana, she took a sip of her beverage before beginning. "I haven't always been a Dreamer. At least, I don't think I have. When I was very small, my family moved to a village on the southern border. I remember traveling for what seemed like an eternity in the back of a wagon. I don't know where we came from or why we left. My father was a farmer, and the village was small. We barely made ends meet, and you know small villages; unless you were born there, you'll be an outsider til you die. They weren't cruel, they just weren't interested."
Embry settled back in her chair, memories flooding her active mind as she swirled a spoon around her mug. Of happy times at first; being swung high in the air by her father, sitting by the fire with her mother. They drifted quickly into more depressing recollections, however. "Then, when I was 10, our farm burned. My parents and I were trying to save as much as we could from the barn. Some of the neighbors were helping, but we lived outside of town so...The roof caved in, trapping them. I was near the door, but a beam or something hit my head, knocking me out. One of the farm men threw a blanket over me and dragged me out, but they couldn't reach my parents."
She looked up at Oriana, then, trying to read the other girl's reaction. "I don't remember any of this, it's all what Briony told me. No one wanted me; the farmers had too many children of their own, so she took me in. She was the village eccentric; she was odd, kept to herself, and thus was slightly unsafe. She was a Dreamer and must have had some sort of healing powers. If there was trouble, she'd be there to help if they would let her. Not everyone would, but a few sought her out when they needed her." Embry caught herself. "But you asked how it's been for me, not for my life story. "Briony warned me to be careful, not to show that I was different. They can tell anyway, though," she mused. "Something about us doesn't quite fit. Something little, as if we didn't have a shadow. They know it's not right, but they can't figure out why. I do my work and do it well, keep to myself for the most part, and no one's bothered me. Until now."1/25/2011 #30
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