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Discussion Starter #201
Kai: Riding back along the path towards your group you find that the village has gone quiet as it seems the last of the killing has finished and now either the victors are enjoying their slaughter and awaiting their reward, or the villagers won and are doing their best th come to terms with what has happened as they also try to rebuild what little they can. Spurring your horse into a canter you get away from the village as fast as you can, you look back to see that Aldegar is still following you and appears to be in thought. While returning your attention back to the new members of the group you start to wonder why exactly the hunter was in the village just before the attack of the beastmen and vampires started...you decide that when you get back to the group you will question him and get what answers you can from him, or perhaps in the time which you and Aldegar has been away from the group maybe Dyanah has learnt why the hunter was in the village and why he is seemingly helping you and your friends for free.

Aldegar: Kai explains why his has cast away your friendship just moments before setting off back up the hill and along the path back towards where the rest of the group was camping, kicking your horse into a canter to follow him you notice that Kai has gone silent and appears to want to be alone with his thoughts so you decide to do the same for now, deciding that maybe Nysard will be able to talk some sense into Kai when you return to the group. Following Kai you start to think on what he has said about Kristen, the Hunter and Dyanah. While thinking about Kristen you start to wonder if you truely love her and that if your talk with Dyanah about wanting to be with her means that your love for Kristen was false, as how can it be love if you are so eager to cas tit away for another? Your thoughts then turn to Dyanah and what Kai said about her following the Hunter in what ever he says and does without question, which makes you start to wonder why exactly she does so. She has already told you that it is because she has an oath to him but do you truly believe that?

OOC: AoB and Reever, feel free to post you have just caught up with the group if you wish.

Nysard: Your horse finally leaves the forest trail and emerges back onto the main path just a few feet away from Dyanah and the Hunter who appear to have just finished their conversation as the hunter was dismounted and now wheels away from her before mounting his horse again and kick it into a walk forward away from the group apparently just letting you all decide if you want to start following him now or wait a little while longer to see if Kai and Aldegar return. Maybe you should ask Dyanah what she and the hunter were talking about before you arrived as it seems to have placed the mysterioys hunter in a bad mood, though if you talk to her it is up to you. While deciding what to do you are joined by Keira and the man named Horus a few moments later as they emerge from the tree's behind you so now most of your group has gathered do you set off after the hunter or remain where you are waiting for Kai and Aldegar to catch up?

Dyanah: The hunters face remains in his snarl like sneer as he seemingly answers your question. "You know nothing about darkness either Child so if you know what is best for you then i suggest you drop this subject all together." With that the hunter turns in a swirl of crimson and mutters some curses in a harsh sounding language which you can not make out before he makes his way over to his mount and returns his hat to his head, casting the long shadow over his face which seems to be so dark not even direct sunlight can pierce it. Pulling himself up onto his horse the hunter Hienrick then kicks his heels into his steeds flanks before it sets off at a fast walk away from the village and back down the path. If you decide to follow him and press your question and ask more then that is your choice but you are finally joined by the other four of the rag-tag group. While looking from them back to the hunter you start to realize that someof the questions he answered earlier about himself just raise more questions which require answers. Like what happened in his home land of Sylvanian which made him so cold? Why and how does he know so much about vampires and the other forces of darkness? To you this man is truly a mystery.
 

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The horse slowly continued trotting along the forest’s dirt road until the massive density of trees began to lessen. Soon after that most of the trees vanished completely and the horse came out of the forest and back to the main road which they followed earlier.

He heard various harsh sounding words in a language that he could not make out before seeing Dyanah and the Hunter just a few feet away from him. When he arrived the Hunter was in the process of leaving. Nysard got closer and by the time he was nearby Dyanah the Hunter already rode away probably letting them decide if they wanted to follow him or sit back and wait for Aldegar and Kai to come.

To Nysard the answer was plain and simple, they had to move forward as Kai and Aldegar will have no problem reaching them because of the extra weight they are carrying now.

His horse slowly approached Guinevere, Dyanah’s mule. As he did that the mule’s ears flickered, Nysard heard the nostrils flare but once the hunter was far away Guinevere seemed to calm down a bit. She noticed Nysard’s horse and began moving aside slowly but she stopped when she realized that it was not a stranger.

Nysard watched as Hienrick rode away, he was not much of a companion, more like a guide which doesn’t want to guide the group that hired him. Nysard shrugged he couldn’t decide if they should trust the hunter he had that always mysterious shroud around him which no one except maybe Dyanah could not penetrate.

Seeing that Dyanah’s mule was not going to run away Nysard closed in. He laid a hand on Dyanah’s shoulder. She seemed to him a little pale maybe scared he couldn’t decide but when he got closer he saw that she was actually angry. He was not sure on how to handle this.

Are you alright? You seem a little pale.” He said with a warm and friendly voice. His face twisted in pain when his horse moved and stepped into a small hole in the road, it was not a large hole but it made Nysard lose a bit of his balance and put more pressure on his chest and his wound. He cursed.

Do you know what the deal with our fellow is? He doesn’t seem to me like the sharing type. Did he tell you anything interesting about himself?” Nysard asked while raising an eyebrow. “You seem to have pissed him off.” He said and laughed wholeheartedly.

Nysard looked back for a moment and saw the forms of Kiera and Horus exiting the forest path; soon they caught up with them. “So, what are we doing now? Should we wait for Kai and Aldegar?” He asked seriously, although he made up his mind it was not only for him to decide. “I think that we shouldn’t if you ask me. If Kai will decide to return than he and Aldegar will quickly catch us as they don’t carry extra weight.” He said and laughed.

He looked at everyone, he surely was not a leader but they had to make some order in what was going on and the last thing that he wanted to happen was for the group to break up even more.
 

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How dare you. You know nothing of my life or what I have faced you… you gilded, blue-blooded, popinjay of a prince-ling! What do you truly know of the reality of common men? I would lay bet that you have never slept beneath the stars because you had no home to call your own. A lean year of crops and an early onset of winter means little to one who has never blistered his hand at the plow! No, Sire Hienrick, you are the one who knows nothing!

The bruises on her jaw and neck throbbed hearth bright as Dyanah clenched her teeth in seething anger at the Hunter’s denigrating tones. It was all she could do to hold her tongue as he dismissed her, stalking away with foul words in his wake to where his destrier towered like a living shadow, only to spur the warhorse into the waning dusk of the forest road without another glance her way. The clop of hooves from behind her heralded the arrival of the others with Nysard in the lead. The woodcutter eased his horse along side of where Guinevere stood; she could see the apprehension etched clearly in his face from the corner of her eye even as he spoke.

I do not want to know… We are only chattel to him, a moment’s distraction and nothing more. He cares little for what has befallen us and I suspect he knows far more than he would be willing to speak to us common folk.’

Dyanah sighed and passed the reins to one hand, reaching up to place the other over where Nysard’s lay upon her shoulder and squeezed his calloused fingers gently.

‘I promised Aldegar I would keep watch over your wellbeing so I would rather wait, Nysard. A moments’ time will not change much in the end. No more running off alone, let us all travel and overcome this together from this moment on.’
 

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They rode past the village again and Kai was struck by how eerily quiet it had become. The screams and shouts had stopped, which likely meant all the sane villagers were now dead, or worse. The thought left Kai feeling cold, that so many people could so willingly cast aside their sanity or humanity. He started murmering a small prayer to Sigmar for those that had been so senselessly murdered by their own, he then kicked into the flanks of his horse to get away from the village faster, hoping to never lay eyes on it again.

Riding back through the forests his thoughts once again came back to the question he was starting to become obsessive over. Who was Hienrick and why had he been in their village before the attack. He refused to believe it had been co-incidence, and if the hunter had known the vampire and beastmen were coming then why wouldn't he have warned them. He would get his answers soon enough...

"I promised Aldegar I would keep watch over your wellbeing so I would rather wait, Nysard. A moments’ time will not change much in the end. No more running off alone, let us all travel and overcome this together from this moment on." Dyanah said to Nysard.

"Theres no need to wait any longer" A voice said from behind them. Kai rode into sight and came alongside. He reached out and placed a hand on Nysards shoulder. "Its good to see you awake my friend" Noticing the hunter racing ahead of the group, he asked "So, have you found out anything more of our supposed helper?"
 

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‘And what of Kristen? You so readily cast her aside in favour of Dyanah, someone you barely know!’ The words hung about in the air like a sign before a tavern or blacksmith. She had always wanted everything of him, but offered little back in return, while Dyanah had made it clear that she was not the same. Of that, Aldegar was certain; but just because one cared for him more than the other, could he truly let Kirsten go so quickly? Perhaps, but that would be a road the farmhand has to cross once Kirsten is safe from these things. Now was not the time, for Kirsten could not give voice to anything, and would he ever truly be able to live with himself if he just tossed her away? Would he, in turn, be no better than her?

“Only time will tell.” Aldegar muttered to himself before nudging his horse to follow after Kai, who had not bothered to wait for him. As he caught up with the man who may have been his friend, and now was no more than another traveler who might sooner end him than fight by his side, Aldegar thought to speak with him more but something about the air around Kai called for silence. So silence was what he tried for, and the effort was anything but easy. There had always been something to do before all this, something to take do or someone to speak with, or someone to try and be with. Now though, all he had was a silent Kai as company.

After a number of minutes, Aldegar finally broke the silence between the two of them. “I do not know how you came to see me as you do Kai, and if you would sooner stab me in the back and leave me behind, but when we return to the others you, Nysard, and I must speak of things between us and how we will go on.”


Finally, they exited through the tree’s and were back amongst the others, some sporting several others with them as well. “There’s no need to wait any longer.” Kai said in response to something said that Aldegar had not heard, as lost in thought as he was. Kai immediately turned his attention to Nysard, now awake and astride his horse, while the farmhand did the same with Dyanah. “Are we ready to be gone of this place?” He asked her before looking at the two new people and wondering how they would be coming with them,
 

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Discussion Starter #206 (Edited)
OOC Note: Upon request im moving this forward abit so we are near out first goal but not quite there. Also as its an Everyone update it means that Deathbringer, Black Apostle and BlackGuard can post if they still wish to continue.

Everyone: It has been three days since you left your village after the attack of the beastmen and followed the strange hunter named Hienrick towards Nordlands capital city of Salzemund. Within those three days there have been arguements between you all about what food you have left and trying to get the hunter to talk but he has remained completely silent after his talk with Dyanah three days earlier and now seems content to just ride his mount towards Salzemund. However while you travel towards the capital you all think on those family members that have been taken from you because of the events of the Vampires that traveled through your village and those that were killed by the beastmen which still brings up questions about what exactly the man named Hienrick was doing in your village in the first place and no matter how much you try to get him to talk he doesn't answer any of your questions. What each of you have found strange(or may not have noticed) is that usually this time of the year the wolves of the forest are strangely absent as in recent years they are usually known to attack lightly guarded caravans traveling between towns and villages yet you have not run into any since you departed your village three days ago.

Now it is the end of the third day of travelling and the sun is slowly starting to set as Mannslieb and Morrslieb start to rise in the sky to usher in the night and cold, the group has stopped just off the side of the road near a small lake and has started to make camp. The hunter named Hienrick is stood staring at the twilight sky silently though every so often he mutters something to himself before shaking his head, you are currently putting up your tent while the fire in the middle of your camp cooks what little left of the food you have got inside of a pot that the hunter let you use about an hour ago and now your remaining meat and any vegatables that you were able to find have been but up and are now slowly turning into a rather delicious smelling stew as each of you thought that now you are only roughtly a day away from Salzemund you can always pick up more supplies there. After fixing up your tent you look to your mounts to make sure they have been fed and allowed to drink from the lake several meters from your camp before returning to the fire to watch the stew. If any of your decide to try and talk to the hunter again then what do you ask him? If you remain around the fire do you talk to the others about what the first thing you should do when you get to Salzemund is? What are you going to use to barter for supplies and each of you barely has any money on you and you dare not ask the Hunter to borrow some if he has any. Do you simply remain silent and contemplate why the gods have decided to punish you like this? or do you simply try to make the best of your situation and wait for the food to stew to finish cooking.
 

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The words had barely left her lips when a voice called out in answer from behind and Dyanah released Nysard’s hand as she turned in the saddle to cast a glance over her shoulder. It was only a moment later that Kai eased his mount in beside the woodcutter, clearly relieved to see Nysard awake and in the saddle again, yet it was the husky tones of Aldegar that held Dyanah’s attention as the farmhand reined his horse in alongside Guinevere’s flank.

As the farmhand’s eyes passed from her face to the two strangers that had been forced upon the group Dyanah felt an unfamiliar and unexpected awkwardness suddenly wrap itself around her. The doors to her heart had been flung wide; the secret she had so carefully kept within cast out into the harsh light of reality leaving the rawness of hesitation and uncertainty in its wake.

How long had it been since she had first felt a stirring of care for the rough-shod farmhand?

-

Ulrik’s spear, I hurt like I’ve been used as a doormat by every shire this side of the fiefdom! Dyanah paused to rub at her eyes, belatedly noting just how grubby the hand holding the torn scrap of cloth was even in the waning light of the lantern she had propped up nearby on an overturned milking pail. Dyanah sighed, carefully picking her way around the heaving mass of the cow’s bulk to where her bags lay and fished out a jar of salve. The heifer gave a muted, mournful low as she strained again and Dyanah cursed under her breath for the hundredth time this candlemark.

The cow was heavy into labour, but the twin calves she carried were turned against their mother’s efforts and despite everything Dyanah had tried had so far stubbornly refused to budge a handspan. It had nearly been three seasons since Mervak had passed, and Dyanah found herself missing the gruff old man even more in the dark hours of a night that seemed unwilling to end. To say it had been difficult on the young woman trying to walk in the shadow of the burly Vet’s work was an understatement in the least and it seemed to Dyanah that every beast in a fortnight’s ride had chosen Mervak’s passing to become ill.

If it was only so simple as that. Dyanah groaned as she dropped to knees bruised by long hours on the cobble stones of multiple barn floors and began applying the slippery salve to her arms while eyeing the straining heifer with a tired expression of contempt recalling the disdain worn openly upon the faces of many of the local farmers. While old Mervak had been alive she had been simply a helper to the aging Vet in their minds, but now things were different. Now they had to rely upon a woman, a mere Girl in their eyes and an outlander at that, to tend the needs of their beasts! Such a divergence was met with frowns and cold indifference at best, Dyanah had simply done what was needed and left under the untrusting gazes. A scant few of the farmers had begun to accept her as the old Vet’s replacement after seeing the young woman work herself nearly to exhaustion to save their beasts, though the road ahead of her was still a hard one as half of them would not even acknowledge her beyond ‘girl’.

It was nearly two hours beyond sunset that Dyanah sunk down upon the cold floor beside her packs with a weary smile, casting a glance over her shoulder to where the cow lay nuzzling the pair of buck-skin coloured calves at her side with bovine care. Dyanah grimaced as she flexed her right hand, the arm bruised from where she had fought against the heifer’s strength to bring the first calf’s head and shoulders in line with the mother’s pelvis, but in the end, coupled with a final heave from the cow, the first of the two calves had finally come into the world into Dyanah’s waiting arms.

A low noise at the stall door made her look up, too tired to care much about the blood stains that plastered much of her tunic and sweat-damp curls that clung to her cheeks where they had escaped the like-wise stained scarf she had attempted unsuccessfully to confine them with. In the doorway stood a young man not but a year older than Dyanah herself; the farmer’s oldest son Aldegar, his skin ruddy from long hours in the fields and sable hair tousled from what looked like a quick plunge under the well-pump. In one strong hand sloshed a half-filled bucket of cool, clean water and the other balanced a napkin-wrapped parcel whose enticing aroma served as a queue for Dyanah’s stomach to launch a surprise attack upon her backbone in reminder that she had not eaten anything all day since the mouthful of cold porridge she had forced down before false dawn had even coloured the sky.

He had deposited the bucket into her hands with a soft smile and a nod before hooking a nearby stool with a booted foot to drag it over and sit while she had relished in the cool water before attacking the parcel with a gusto that brought a surprised expression to the farmhand’s face. They had made small talk between Dyanah’s mouthfuls of venison pie and, when he had finally stood up to leave; she found her eyes trailing along the young man’s sun-browned features with a perplexing stirring in the pit of her stomach that had nothing to do with the pie she had just bolted like a half-starved wolf.

-

Dyanah swallowed hard and shook off the memory, pausing as she realized that she had started to reach out to take Aldegar’s hand but he had not returned the gesture. There was a shadow of hurt in the farmhand’s eyes, something that had not been there when he had left in pursuit of the wayward Kai, and the urge to give what little support she had to Aldegar was a burning coal within Dyanah’s gut. She gave a nod and, with a sigh, gestured with her chin towards the two new members of the group,

‘The two strangers over there say they are from the village, the Hunter brought them with him and the fools wouldn’t listen when I said we didn’t have enough food for ourselves much less more mouths that we don’t rightfully know. Let us be away from here and on to Salezmund before anything else befalls us!’

Dyanah dropped her voice, her amber eyes closing for a moment before she met Aldegar’s gaze again with affection and loneliness etched in equal measure within their depths,

‘Don’t give up hope, Aldegar. I believe in you.’

-

They had ridden until the night closed in on the group before making camp again. Fatigue tugged at Dyanah's thoughts as she moved to untack Guinevere, propping up the saddle against a nearby tree before moving to do the same to Aldegar's mount, shooing the farmhand away towards the small fire built by the Hunter.

'I will need to take a look at that shoulder in a bit, but go my Wolf... get something to eat first. I'll see to the beasts.'
 

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For the briefest of moments, Dyanah was lost in a thought of some kind. What was she thinking of; some tale to spin him or maybe a memory? Whatever it was, or rather had been, she came back from it with what looked like a shudder. Maybe the days events and the loss of her father had finally gotten to Dyanah? Maybe she was rethinking of what had happened between them? These things raced through Aldegar’s own mind, and he did not notice her reaching out to him.

‘The two strangers over there say they are from the village, the Hunter brought them with him and the fools wouldn’t listen when I said we didn’t have enough food for ourselves much less more mouths that we don’t rightfully know. Let us be away from here and on to Salezmund before anything else befalls us!’ She said to him, and Aldegar could not keep himself from rolling his eyes. Of course the bastard had brought the two; for all any of them knew these newcomers were nothing more than followers of him. And if that was truly the case, then the hunter had made it all the harder to keep an eye on his actions, as well as stop him if the need be.

‘Don’t give up hope, Aldegar. I believe in you.’ She suddenly said, and the farmhand was caught off guard. For a moment, the thought of the bastard hunter increasing his strength over the group had given him some doubt of things but had it been that obvious? He tried to keep himself looking strong no matter what, but had she been able to see through? And if not, then for a moment had Dyanah believed him unable to do what needed to be done if the hunter did need to be stopped?

“And the others?” He murmured, half to Dyanah and half to himself. “Kai thinks me some sort of monster, how or why I do not know. And Nysard claimed me a coward of all things!” This he hissed the words through a clenched jaw. All he had done so far was for someone else, and now his greatest friends were tossing him away. Is that where Kirsten had gotten it from? Were all of Nysard’s blood like that, and they had simply kept it hidden?

---

They had ridden until the night closed in on the group before making camp again. Since they had started moving off, Aldegar kept to the back of the group, if only to keep an eye on these newcomers. With a look that might have been able to kill, he had kept them from asking him to help them along. They could either find a ride of their own, walk, or fatigue someone else’s horse. Finally though, they had been forced to come to a halt, when darkness took over and it became more a danger to continue onward. As he dismounted his steed, Dyanah was there and pushing him away from the mount, towards the fire made by the hunter in the direction of Kai and Nysard. Nysard had not said much to him, and Kai nothing more since he had gotten him to come back; but that would have to change, the three of them would come to an understanding of sorts. And if that was to be the end of, then by journey’s end that would be the end of things.

'I will need to take a look at that shoulder in a bit, but go my Wolf... get something to eat first. I'll see to the beasts.' Dyanah called after him, and in the wake of her words he just stood there, considering turning back to her and going to those he had called friend another time. In the end, he continued onward; deciding to do what he needed to do, and not give in to his wants. He had come this far not for himself after all, now was not the time to start. With a grunt, the farmhand dropped to the ground in front of the fire, fixing both Kai and Nysard with stairs before turning his gaze to the flames. “We three need to talk, to come to an accord of what is to happen between us. I am no coward, and will not trust men I consider brothers, the last family I have left in this world, who will end up stabbing me in the back.” This he said while glaring at Nysard. “And if I am to be cast aside like some monster, than I would have us all speak plainly and know why, once and for all.” This he aimed at Kai.

Aldegar had never been much of one for a talker, he was a short tempered brawler plain and simple. He had been this way all his life, part of it beaten into him by his pa. At times he had started the fights, and other times simply joined in to help the very men sitting across from him. But now one questioned his courage and the other acted like the farmhands actions were completely unlike him. In the end, how much could he trust those he had thought were the most trusted?
 

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"There is no need to wait any longer." A voice sounded from behind them. Quickly yet painfully Nysard turned his body around to watch who was behind them. For some reason he did not recognize the voice. It had some kind of sadness or maybe anger in it which twisted it in a way.

When he looked back he saw Kai. He was riding towards them with Aldegar just behind him. Nysard smiled, the group was whole again, at least in the sense of physical presence. After riding closer Kai put a hand on Nysard's shoulder and told him that it was good to see him to that Nysard replied with a nod and said, "Aye, it is to be among the living and breathing." chuckling from his own joke.

He did not bother answering Kai's second question. He just negatively shook his head. The damn hunter hid every piece of information about him quite well... Quite too well if Nysard was the one to judge. "Lets ride. We are wasting time standing here." He said answering Aldegar's question as well.

Only when he moved his horse forward he noticed that Dyanah left his hand. Not that it matter in any way. He than heard Dyanah speaking to Aldegar. She referred to the new group members as liability and Nysard did not care for her tone and words in that matter.

"Miss Dyanah I think you fail to understand that these strangers are in the same boat is we are. You say they are a liability and this is probably true yet it is out duty to help them as the hunter did with us. If kindness and helpfulness to others does not speak to you look at it from another perspective. We will have strength in numbers when we confront out next foe. I won't force my point of view unto you but I think that your statement is a little hypocritical considering the fact that a mere day ago we all were in the same situation that they are in right now." He coldly said to her turning his horse he rode away not waiting or an answer from her.

He had no reason to wait for her answer, he knew it already as she told him her opinion earlier while trying to prevent them from taking the new people with them. He could not understand how she could be so cold to them after having experienced exactly the same thing.

+++++++++++++++++++

Night fell quickly. The sky were covered in crimson rather early this day as if the gods themselves displayed their displeasure in the slaughter that they have witnessed. Nysard knew that it was a meager event and that much larger and bloodier battles were fought in the past yet it was his second real experience with such a bloody thing.

Soon the crimson dwindled and died just to be replaced by the dark of the night and the dim light of the moon. They stopped to make camp, the hunter as usual away from them, tending to his own business. Nysard finally decided that the hunter is too mysterious for his own taste. It seemed like he was hiding something from them or in general from the whole world. Though there was nothing Nysard could do about it he still felt alarmed a bit by this.

Nysard say by the fire that the hunter made earlier that night. It was nice and warm, just enough to keep the cold of the night away from them. Kai sat in front of him. The wind was blowing quietly and slowly. It seemed like much of the world has stopped that night, it was calm. It seemed as it was waiting for something to happen like it held his breath waiting for events to unfold.

For a moment he closed his eyes, he was tired from the days ride and from his wounds but when he closed his eyes horrific images of blood and death came to his mind. They filled the dark void underneath his eyes with terror. Images of feral and decaying humanoids which resembled the Ghouls which they fought earlier came to his mind over and over. He kept banishing them by holding to the knowledge that he did not run and that he slaughtered them like the vermin they were.

As those thoughts passed his head a quick wave of blood-lust filled his brain and body. He felt his heart beating faster and for a moment things slowed down around him. He was sure that in those moments he caught the sparkle of a set of eyes from one of the distant bushes. Could it be wolves? It was possible. He decided that guard posts would be suggested by him. He would not like to be caught by a creature in the middle of the night in complete surprise.

He was distracted from his thoughts by a set of footsteps who grew louder. He looked back and saw Aldegar coming towards them a mix of anger and determination written on his face. Nysard had no idea why and he was not about to ask. Aldegar was acting strangely the past two days, maybe because of the death of his family yet Nysard could not tell. He won't be surprised though, each one had his own way of dealing with a loss. Nysard knew that his was vengeance and determination to save his remaining family.

Nysard looked at the fire as he heard a grunt from Aldegar as he sat down. He could feel him staring at him yet he did not look back at him. He was focused on the flame. It gave him a sense of protection maybe even strength. He shivered as a thought of what lurked in such nights around them came to his mind but as quickly as it came it passed.

He heard Aldegar speaking. He decided know, Aldegar was grim and serious. Something rather rare so he paid attention. He knew that Aldegar was not very good with expressing himself and that he would probably not repeat himself. He spoke, his words aimed at both Kai and Nysard. The first ones were clearly aimed at Nysard, he said that he called him a coward yet Nysard could not recall such an event. Was it possible that in the middle of the fight he had bellowed such things at his friend. He shrugged, he did not see how it matters.

Aldegar than spoke to Kai his words pierced the silent night like knives. They were not meant to hurt yet it was felt that he was hurt already. The words he spoke to Kai gave Nysard a slight peek into what the conversation between them was when Aldegar went after Kai.

Seeing that Kai was not about to speak Nysard sighed and tore his gaze away from the warm flames. He looked at Aldegar in a mocking half-smile, "I rolled some of the recent events in my mind yet I cannot recall myself calling you a coward. If I did so it might have been in the heat of the battle while my senses were blurred. Consider also that you might have misunderstood what I meant when I said those words which made you feel like I consider you a coward." He than changed his tone to a warm and friendly one. "Aldegar as much as we may disagree you are probably the most I have which could be called a family considering the fact that you were seeing my sister. Who knows maybe after this crazy adventure you would be part of my family." His tone changed quickly to a bitter one as he muttered, "If the remnant of my family is still alive."

He looked at Aldegar with tired eyes, his strength was truly seeping away from his slowly. The wound was taking its toll on his body. "I did not mean to hurt you, in no way. Though you have been acting kind of strangely lately,maybe frantically is a better word for this. Still, we are all friends I hope. The only thing which bothers me is your uncontrollable blood-lust you tend to act like a wild beast and your anger spins out of control too quickly. Try calming yourself down." To show that he really meant it he put a hand on Aldegar's shoulder and smiled to him.
 

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Silence, it surrounded the newcomers in a blanket of social awkwardness, uneasy silence seeped from the surly form of the hunter as he sat aside, back turned.

He had spoken no words, remained utterly and totally silent as they pushed forward into the wilderness, searching for Salezmund, following a path which none could see.

Why the silence, what surly affliction bound his tongue, hushed there own movements to creeping and crawling, scared to earn his ire.

The scent of fresh food to come drifted amongst them, the scent lifting even the nostrils of the 3 that confined themselves in close conference, a sweet refreshing nector, the promise of good things to come.

It drifted on from the group of two to where the beast doctortended the mount of her lover with doey eyes, her attention half upon the beast she tended, half upon the muscular back of the one she yearned for.

What would happen when kirstin found her knight in shining armour had been fawning for another.

Mother protect, there would be a storm indeed.

Leaning back on her elbows Kiera could not help but smile.

Always enjoy the calm before the storm
 

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Their third day of travel had passed as the group made camp for the night and sat around the warm fire. The journey to Salzemund wouldn' take too long, yet they still had another day or so of traveling till they reached the city or so they reckoned. Kai was tired, their supplies were dwindling and with the lack of animal life in the area, it was hard to replenish, forcing them to ration their remaning supplies. But it shouldn't matter with the city so close he hoped. He had idly talked with Nysard and Kiera since rejoining the group, but had staunchly ignored both Aldegar and Dyanah. Dyanah had done nothing wrong to Kai really except some bitter words in the heat of the moment before he left, but he still saw her as one of the catalysts to Aldegars violent attitude and actions and also he suspected he was perhaps rather childishly ignoring her by dint of her association with Aldegar.

It was as they sat around the fire that Aldegar once again decided to demand answers from Kai and Nysard. Kai was in no mood to reiterate to Aldegar what he thought about him, he had said his part the last time they had spoken. Nysard though it seemed wanted to make ammends and explained himself to Aledgar for the first time. Kai felt his irritation rise up within him like a flood and decided to take his mind off it by speaking to Kiera. As he rose he saw Nysard place a reassuring hand on Aldegars shoulder, Kai snorted at this and muttered to himself "Don't be so quick to forgive him friend".

He walked over to where Kiera was sat and took a seat by the priestess. He had seen the flicker of amusement on her face earlier as she had watched Dyanah long after the farmhand. With a wry smile he said to her "So it seems i'm not the only one to wonder quite how Aldegars reunion with Kirsten will work out with the vet now in the picture?" He pause to allow her to answer and stared for a moment at the still silent hunter, he hadn't spoken a word to him since the village of the damneds aftermath and nor had anyone else apparently. As he thought about the other night another though occured to him. "Before i left" He said abruptly, "Nysards wounds looked grevious and deadly, i thought someone would end up having to carry him to Salzemund. But when i returned he was not only awake, but his injuries seem to be much less severe. What can you tell me about it Kiera. I know you have medical skills, as does the vet in her own way, but without meaning to offend you, those injuries seemed much above your abilty..."
 

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Kai moved to join her, knees buckling as he hit the ground with a petulant thud, his mind irked and eyes flaming with a dull rage as his eyes flitted to Aldegar and Nysard, his glare directed at the farmhand.

Words laced with spite awakened her to her own thoughts, to the true implications, to the full extent of her of her own riled emotions.

Oh how the world had changed, ripped her from her cacoon of purity, leading her to spiteful loathing and petty jealousy.

Even as Kai talked she uttered a small prayer to the mother, pray for purity, pray for redemption, pray for protection and guidance.

The next words made her prayer stop dead, affronted, shame tinged her posture, her back stiffening from its natural lounge, her eyes found the grass at his feet, the slightest of flushes tinging her face.

"Nysards wounds looked grevious and deadly, i thought someone would end up having to carry him to Salzemund. But when i returned he was not only awake, but his injuries seem to be much less severe. What can you tell me about it Kiera. I know you have medical skills, as does the vet in her own way, but without meaning to offend you, those injuries seemed much above your abilty..."


Why shame, she had healed him, as she had healed others, there was nothing wrong with it.

Yet she was ashamed, she had never told anyone, never discussed the feeling, the override of emotion that lead to the build up of energy.
It healed people,it needed no discussion, it did the mothers work.

Then why couldnt she tell him.

She met his gaze casually her voice nonchelant returning the wry smile

"Ask miss Dynah, she has been attending the wounded almost exclusively. My part was minimal, yet there are other wounds amongst this band which dynah fails to mend. The issue that comes between you and her beloved for instance."

She leant back once more and studied his features meeting his gaze intently

"The wolf may believe he is Ulric incarnate yet if it is any consolation every day he punishes himself more. He stands between two women when neither will accept another. Do you believe anyone with a lovers heart could stand idly by as her love takes another in his arms. If he chooses Dynah he will earn Kirsten and Nyrsard's ire, if he chooses Kirsten, do you believe Dynah will stand silent? Could you... having felt the touch of your loves carress, having heard his words tantalise your flesh watch him spurn you? It will come out and his lovers touch will become sullied, dulled by doubts and fears, dirtied by the fact that it has carressed anothers flesh. He has to make a choice where he cannot win. He will feel the anguish of loves burn and then he will need a friend then Kai. Nyrsard will not stand by him having scorned his sister, what man could?"

She smiled blandly

"This group stands upon the verge of collapse, you may not like him yet you must trust him. He will save your life and you his when it comes to it, for without doubt there are many horros to come even before we face our ultimate goal. You may not approve, yet they are not betrothed, the choice of whom he loves is his to make. None of us have a right to judge,"

she let out a tinkling laugh

"Of course we do, and we may not like what we see, but issues of the heart are not issues to fall out about. Know this, however different he seems, he is still the same, he is still the man you laughed with, fought alongside you, and the man that carried you over his shoulder to the temple when you took too much of the ale and picked a fight you could not win. Would you throw all that away for a girl you dont even care for...."

her mind lingered,her words taking her upon a train of thought she had never expected. Her eyes narrowed in suspicion head tilting and back arching as she leaned forward to the give voice to the idea in an intense whisper

"or do you?"
 

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Kai noticed Kieras posture stiffen slightly when he asked her the question and how she seemed to hesitate slightly before answering him. When she looked up into his eyes however, she did so casually, returning his smile.

"Ask miss Dynah, she has been attending the wounded almost exclusively. My part was minimal"

Kai narrowed his eyes slightly as he looked into her eyes, her tawny brown eyes at complete odds with his startling blue. She looked sincere, but Kai wasn't convinced, he couldn't help but feel she wasn't being entirely honest in answering him. He let her continue for now nonetheless, holding her gaze as she pressed the issue of the rift within their party.

She attempted to rationalise Aldegars situation, reasoning that whichever option he should choose would damn him in somebodys eyes, how he would need somone to turn to. If the idea was to make Kai sympathise with Aldegars situation, then it didn't work. The simple minded fool had led himself into this situation, Kristen was as much a sister to him as Jenna was, they were all like siblings to him, how could Aldegar wilingly cast that away so easily?

Kieras laugh snapped him back to the present. She pressed on, trying to convince him that Aldegar was still the same man he once saw like a brother, but he remained unconvinced.

"Would you throw all that away for a girl you dont even care for...."

Then her demanour suddenly changed, this time it was her eyes turn to narrow, never breaking their stare she leaned forwards towards him, dangerously close and whispered intensely

"or do you?"

Completely wrong footed, Kai blinked and stared at her confused for a moment. He opened his mouth to speak, but instead took in a breath. He finally broke eye contact and looked from Kiera to Dyanah, before looking back with an amused grin.

"The vet?"

He mirthfully laughed quietly, it occured to him how good it felt to genuinely laugh at something. The pas few days had been lacking severly in any form of genuine amusement. He smiled sincerley at Kiera

"A welcomingly amusing thought, Kiera, but no. Attractive the vet may be, but no, i don't long for her. Far too......haughty? Perhaps thats too strong a word, either way let Aldegar and that bastard hunter fret over her"

He looked back to the fire and stared into its dancing flames. He again thought back to the half answer Kiera seemed to have given him about Nysards injuries. He suspected somehow she had more of a hand in helping Nysard than she was letting on. But what held her back? Modesty? A lack of confidence? He spoke out again, absently scratching at the stubble developing on his face whilst still staring into the flames, reflecting in his eyes.

"You know, i think you take your skills for granted. Dyanah carries herself with confidence in her abilities, but she is still a vet. Your a priestess of Shallya and shouldn't forget that."

He reached his hand to the his head and gently touched the wound he had sustained on the night of the attack, then looked back to Kiera.

"You didn't do so badly tending to this. Granted your bedside manner could do with some improving. So try not to give the vet too much credit, how much did you really do to help Nysard? Don't be modest for her sake."
 

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Neither of them spoke for a time, Nysard staring blankly into the fire and Kai glaring at him with a look that might have been somewhere amongst hatred. It was Nysard who finally broke the silence between the three of them, at least this would not just be the farmhand talking to himself. Aldegar listened to his lifelong friend, but it was the end of what he said that made Aldegar’s lip involuntarily curl. “Consider that you might have misunderstood what I meant when I said those words.” Were it anyone else, he would be hard pressed to not now have his fist correcting this ‘misunderstanding’ of words. The only reason he could have taken the words wrong were if they were the wrong ones said; and if that was the case than it meant Nysard had said something he had been keeping hidden. What more did his ‘friend’ truly think of him?

So lost in thought, Aldegar nearly missed what Nysard said next; however the mention of Kirsten brought his thoughts back to the fore. “Who knows, maybe after this crazy adventure you would be part of my family. If the remnant of my family is still alive.” Nysard said, the bitterness all but screaming from his body. At least you still have family left that may still live. Aldegar thought, not daring to voice those words for unlike Kai Aldegar would not blame a friend for things not his fault. “Sigmar protects her, by his will we will save her Nysard. Then you will have your family, or at least revenge for them.” He said to Nysard.

"I did not mean to hurt you, in no way. Though you have been acting kind of strangely lately, maybe frantically is a better word for this. Still, we are all friends I hope. The only thing which bothers me is your uncontrollable blood-lust you tend to act like a wild beast and your anger spins out of control too quickly. Try calming yourself down." Nysard said to him, and the words hit the farmhand like a fist to the face. Uncontrollable blood-lust? Acting strangely? No; Aldegar had been acting no differently than he always had, blunt and ready for a fight no matter what.

“First Kai claiming me to be like a freak and now you. What has gotten into the both of you? Have you forgotten all the seasons? All the tavern fights, the times I came to your aid in a fight and we were still outnumbered? I know Kai has chosen to forget, like the time I saved him from that wild bull that nearly gored him. I do not know what has happened to your sight or your mind, either of you, but I am no different than any other day.” He said through grit teeth. The memories of times when he had come to the aid of his friends bringing about a wave of anger. Nysard had helped him when he had needed it, but Kai had been more selective. Taking help but more reluctant to repay it; was he little better than that bastard hunter then, was he simply going to use anyone he could and damn them in the end?

Nysard put a hand on his shoulder, and at that time Kai chose to walk away and all Aldegar could do was snort at the man’s choice. “Of course he runs away. All Kai seems to care about doing now, a choice must be made that could change everything and he turns his back from those who need him or his answers.” This he said while looking into Nysard’s eyes. His thoughts then drifted to Dyanah, and how he would have to tell Nysard about her sooner or later.

Well he was the blunt one, and sooner would allow his friend to make his choices now and be done with it. “Nysard, I have always thought you and Kai like brothers; you are the last form of family I have left even if Kai chooses to leave me for dead in the end. But when we rescue your sister, it is to you she will be with, not me. Kirsten never truly loved me the way I did her, wanting everything in return for nothing. I am no priest of Sigmar, I cannot live that way.” Aldegar finished, his eyes slowly shifting from Nysard to Dyanah by the horses.

Nysard was the smarter of them, he would be able to figure it out; all that left to be seen was how he took this. Would he be glad that Aldegar was not to be with his sister? It’s not as though he was against that very notion a day ago when he had learned the truth had he not? Or would he act the hypocrite like Kai, and rage at the farmhand again? Time would tell..
 

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Dyanah gave the last billet a sharp tug, letting the girth drop free before reaching up to pull the saddle from the back of Aldegar’s mount. The bay gelding gave an equine sigh of relief, craning its neck around to lip at Dyanah’s sleeve before she shooed him away gently with an equally tired chuckle. She propped the saddle up to air out through the night nearby and gave the blanket a vigorous shake before draping it over a low-hanging tree limb.

Guinevere gave a hopeful wicker as Dyanah rummaged through her packs before tugging free a small, double-wrapped burlap sac of grain and carefully pouring out a measure onto a cleared spot before both the mule and Aldegar’s horse. Guinevere eyed the small mound woefully before lowering her grey muzzle to lap up the grains while Dyanah stowed the bag back away and reached for a sturdy brush. She leaned into the strokes, letting the familiar motion numb her weary mind. The mule’s coarse coat still smelled of ash and fire under the dust of the road and sweat of the day, a stark reminder of the horrors that had become reality.

Dyanah sighed and moved to the dark bay flanks of the gelding, pausing to glance back towards the fire where the others sat. Kai and the priestess huddled to the side, conversing at the edge of the firelight with exhaustion showing in the slump of their shoulders. Yet, when Dyanah let her eyes slide to the fire, she found Aldegar’s gaze cast in return.

Da always said that it was in moments of hardship that the truth of a man was unveiled, like an unsheathed sword. A seemingly plain scabbard could hold a blade of the finest tempered steel and one bedecked and bejeweled could hide a sword of blunt potmetal, but it wasn’t until they were drawn that the truth could be seen. A tired but soft smile found Dyanah’s lips before she looked back to her work; chest tightening in a brief moment of irrational self-consciousness as she reached up to tuck a wayward curl back behind her ear.

The gelding lipped forlornly at the barren ground, having devoured every last grain of feed that had been placed before him, before giving a loud sigh that drew a chuckle from Dyanah in its aggrandizement. She gave the now glossy flank a firm pat before looping a length of rein over his neck in an improvised lead rope. They had camped within meters of a shallow stream and the burbling of the water could be heard over the crackle of the fire. It was a far sight easier to take the mounts to the water than it would be to carry a sloshing bucket of cold water in the darkness. Just the thought of the water made Dyanah itch for a good bath, even freezing as it was would be welcome against her bruised skin and the grime that seemed to cling to her very soul.

The thought uncoiled inside her and, tossing the geldings lead over Guinevere’s flank, Dyanah turned to walk to the fireside,

‘Your tunics,’

Dyanah held out her hand expectantly to Aldegar and Nysard,

‘I might as well rinse them out while I water the horses and Guine. It won’t substitute for a proper cleaning, but it will get the worst of the ash and blood out of them. After they are dry I will take a look at mending yours Nysard, if you wish.’

(ooc- Komanko is going to be away for three weeks so I’m going to let Revan decide if he hands over his tunic or not.)
 

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As Kai left Aldegar simply snorted at his general direction and than muttered to Nysard that it was obvious that he would walk away as it is the only thing he seems to be doing recently. In a way Aldegar was right. Kai seemed to be running away from answers or questions. Maybe he was surprised that Nysard forgave Aldegar so quickly maybe it was something else... Nysard shrugged, he could not tell for certain.

Suddenly and abruptly Aldegar spoke again. Nysard did not expect more words for him he knew the "terrible" toll that words were taking from Aldegar, the man was simply not built for speaking.

He spoke weirdly, even for Aldegar. He began by telling how he thought Kai and Nysard as his brothers and not only brothers in arms. He continued and said that Kai and Nysard were the last of the family he had even if they chose to ignore it. But than he said something that completely caught him off guard, something he was not expecting. He said that when their journey will end in success Kristen will come to Nysard and not to Aldegar. Was it not what this journey was all about for him?

Something was wrong, he knew that at the moment that Aldegar said that. He was not a brilliant person but he was intelligent enough to understand that Aldegar was not telling him something. After a short pause Aldegar said that Kristen never truly loved him, not in the way that he loved her. He said that while he gave for her everything she gave nothing back. It was strange to hear that especially from Aldegar. Yet something was still missing and he decided to let Aldegar do it in his own pace.

Slowly and quietly he saw Aldegar's gaze turning away from him laying on a figure that stood at the edge of the camp. Nysard turned his head back just to be met by Dyanah's gaze. It took him a moment and than it hit him like a hammer hitting the anvil. It seemed that the thought was forced into his skull by means unknown.

In the first moment of understanding he felt only anger, even hate. How could Aldegar betray him like that? Betray Kristen like that? He deserved to die for such things, first trying to run away with Kristen and than this?! He breathed heavily and looked at Aldegar with murder in his eyes.

No. It was not his place... Neither was it worth it. Nysard closed his eyes and unclenched his fists. He let all the air flow away from his body, he purged it like it was an evil spirit. He took in a few breaths, pacing them slowly one after the other. He than covered his face with his hands and rubbed it a few times trying to understand what he just heard and saw.

He knew that he forgave Aldegar before he even spoke. Things like that were nothing for him, his sister's love life was not his interest nor his place to interfere. She will have to deal with it after she will be rescued, as painful as it will be. After he calmed down he suddenly sent a fist into Aldegar's chest. It was not a strong one but the strongest he could give at that moment, he was weak physically and mentally.

He spoke slowly and reassuringly, his voice calming Aldegar as it was calming him. He smiled wearily before he spoke and than gave a quite chuckle. "Well you two have my blessing heh. I should kill you for something like that Aldegar but it is not worth it. You are still needed even though you acted like a little snake here." He stopped, unsure of what to say next.

"I should have hit you stronger." He said and burst in laughter. After calming down he said "That's a lot to take at once Aldegar but remember I am by your side as I hope the other will, even Kai. I do want to ask one thing. Work on your temper as a favor for me. Its spiraling out of control the more w are journeying." He than sighed and blinked several times, still not believing that he heared what just was said. "I am not even going to ask how did this happen between you two as you seemed more hostile than a bunch of bulls fighting over a cow." He said and laughed again.

After a few moments Dyanah approached them and asked for their tunics saying that she might as well clean up theirs as she is going to the nearby stream. Nysard quickly took off his and handed it to her while muttering a thank you. He than looked at Aldegar and without saying a word he told him that he should go with her. His eyes said everything. As if that was not enough he whispered softly, "Go. You never know what lurks in the darkness in this hours of the night." He than smiled. Everything was coming into perspective again.
 

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Kai: You hear a voice from behind you that stiffense your back until you become ridged and turning back you can see who'se voice it is as the owner striders past you. "I would prefer that you and your friends stop calling me a bastard Kai as it is starting to annoy me and I think you would prefer it if i didn't give you a lesson on not to annoy someone who is trying to help you. As for what you say about me fretting over Miss Dyanah she can take care of herself fine enough without my help and from what happened today it is YOU i need to fret over as you keep trying to get yourself killed." With that the hunter named Hienrick strides past you before dropping a pack onto your lap which should you open you would find some fresh un-cooked beef for you and the others to share. What unsettles you however is how the hunter was able to get from the side of the lake and to you without making any noise at all and where he got the beef from. Do you decide to ask him or simply just start cooking it for yourself and the others? Do you say anything to Keira or remain silent?

Aldegar: After hearing Nysard suggest that you go with Dyanah to the side of the stream leading into the lake you decide to do what he says and accompany her to the stream while she washing the tunics. Do you offer to help carry them or even wash them? Once at the stream you both stand there is silence as Dyanah sets about washing them. While standing there for a few moments you start to mull over what you can talk to Dyanah about as quite alot has happened between you two within the last twenty four hours and your not entirely sure where to start.

Nysard: After letting Aldegar go with Dyanah to the stream to wash your tunics you stand up and move over to Keira and Kai after seeing the hunter drop something into Kai's lap. Once you reach them you take your place next to Kai and if you wish you can ask him what is inside of the bag, while looking around you can see that the hunter is walking around the camp mumbling to himself as he picks up sticks and small logs to throw onto the fire later on andthat Dyanah and Aldegar are still at the stream. If you decide to talk to Kai or Keira about anything then that is your choice however you do start wanting to know why exactly Kai is being so hostile towards Aldegar recently.

Dyanah: Nysard hands you his tunic however Aldegar gets up and walks with you to the stream to help you clean out the tunics and keep you company while the others sit together by the fire, well all except the hunter who turns away from the lake and walks around the camp by himself clearly deep in thought. Turning your attention back to the stream you start to wash the ash, mud, dirt and blood covered tunics in the water while Aldegar simply stands there for the moment obviously trying to figure out what to say to you after all the things that have happened in the last twenty four hours and he obviously doesn't know where to start. If you wish you could be the one to break the silence, but if you do what will you talk to him about? Will you talk about your feelings? About Kristen and what will happen once you rescue her? or will you talk about something else?

Keira: You listen to Kai explain that he isn't interested in Dyanah before he quickly shifts the point of the conversation to your healing abilities and asks once again how much healing you actually provided for Nysard along with reminding you that you are a priestess of Shaylla. Upon mentioning you are a priestess of the healing godess you are hit with a sense of guilt as you remember that now you have left the temple you have technically turned your back on the godess even though you wish to go out into the world to heal those you normally wouldn't be able to see, yet you then remember that unlike some of the older priestess's you do not have as much knowledge as them when it comes to combating diesease and injuries. Your thoughts are then interupted by the entrancing and strange voice of the hunter as he drops something into Kai's lap and you quickly see that it is a bag but you do not know what is inside. What do you say to Kai? Do you answer his question or ask him what is inside of the bag?
 

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OOC: Forgive me if its not the best, I find it annoying to post without me being able to view the update online all the time...

He let out a wary smile and than stood up. He walked towards Kai deciding to try and understand what Kai saw in Aldegar that so infuriated him. He looked behind him and saw how Aldegar and Dyanah were moving towards the stream. It still astounded him, them two… They were so different.

When Nysard turned his gaze back to Kai and Keira who stood near him he saw the hunter dropping something on Kai’s lap. He wanted to know what was in there but decided against asking Kai; in his volatile mood it would be best not to bother him with insignificant things.

Yet again the camp was dividing into groups. This was beginning to get on Nysard’s nervs. They were friends not strangers. They should stay together and if not for the sake of friendship than for safety. As he took his place near Kiera and Kai he saw the hunter moving around the camp gathering twigs and small logs to throw into the fire. It seemed that once again he was in one of his dark moods as while he moved he mumbled and grumbled to himself.

Looking at Kai he decided that it’s better to give his questions a rest at least for a short while. He faced Keira and said wholeheartedly “I can’t stress how thankful I am. I think that I owe you a debt of life as I could’ve easily died out there without your help. I know how close I was to death... Too close... If the infction would've spread...” He smiled to her he had to think of a way to repay his debt to her as he did not take such things for granted.

He let his words sink while he looked at the dark wood that surrounded them. If it weren’t for burning village a few hours behind them this place might have had some sense of calmness and serenity yet the thought of mad vampire worshipping cultists constantly plagued his mind. The horrors which took place in that god forsaken village he could not easily dismiss. In a way they were the cold fist of reality smacking at his face. He was thought that life outside of his small village were tough and harsh, death crept in every corner and in the most unexpected ways. Though these thoughts scared him he knew that he had to be strong, he had to be courageous. For his friends and for Kristen. He was her only hope.

Several minutes passed and not able to contain his curiosity he finally turned to Kai and asked, “What is all that bad blood between you and Aldegar? What happened that caused you to think so ill of him? Don’t you remember that he is out friend and not an enemy?” He spoke in a serious tone, he truthfully tried to understand what was going between the two of them. “Kai, tell me what pains you so much about him. I can’t find out by myself!

He than waited for Kai’s reply while he stared at the blackening sky above, he took in long and deep breaths. He knew that he would soon have to sleep, he was beginning to feel drain by the days ride and by his wounds. It was better for him to rest.
 

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The hunter spoke out suddenly from behind Kai

"I would prefer that you and your friends stop calling me a bastard Kai as it is starting to annoy me and I think you would prefer it if i didn't give you a lesson on not to annoy someone who is trying to help you. As for what you say about me fretting over Miss Dyanah she can take care of herself fine enough without my help and from what happened today it is YOU i need to fret over as you keep trying to get yourself killed."

With that he deposited a package into Kais lap and continued onwards. Kai glared after the hunter with a stony expression and muttered under his breath.

"Then perhaps you should stop acting like a bastard. Acting all aloof and mysterious."

He raised his voice a little louder

"Any paticular reason why you insist on sneaking up on us?"

He snorted and opened up the package, finding several slices of uncooked beef within. 'Point in case' He thought as wondered where Hienrick procured the beef from. He started to cook the beef anyway, realising how hungry he now was. Perhaps the hunter may have had a point about not annoying him, but Kai couldn't help it. All he felt was cold anger for the hunter. He had arrived immediately prior to the attack on the village that left Kais life in ruin. Kai refused to believe it was coincidence, and if the hunter knew the beastmen were coming, why wouldn't he have warned them, helped them to prepare for the coming horde. And why did he remain so secretive, divulging little to no information about himself to them. No, the hunter couldn't be fully trusted, at least not until he revealed more about his intentions and explained why he was in their village better.

Before he could dwell on it anymore Nysard turned his attention to him.

"What is all that bad blood between you and Aldegar? What happened that caused you to think so ill of him? Don’t you remember that he is out friend and not an enemy? Kai, tell me what pains you so much about him. I can’t find out by myself!"

Nysards tone was serious and his voice full of concern. In return Kai fixed him with a steady gaze.

"Do you not see how his anger controls him? How he has changed? He was always boisterous before, but now he resorts to violence at every turn, abandons Kirsten at the drop of a hat for the vet he barely even knows. Do you know what he did when he came to 'convince' me to return to the group? He gave me the choice of coming back by my own will, or by his. He drew his weapon on me Nsyard and gave me that 'choice'. That[/] is not the actions of a friend or someone who can be trusted. Be wary of making any choice he doesn't like friend, or perhaps it will be you he draws a weapon against next."

With that said he continued to cook the beef, he shared some of it out to Nysard, giving him a large portion

"You can share that out with him and his new love, seeing as you still have faith in him"

He then offered another portion out to Kiera

"I'm afraid its rather plain and likely lacking in flavour, but i'm sure you'll agree it will do for now"

before wolfing his own down. It could have used seasoning and perhaps some potatoes, but in his current state of hunger and exhaustion he had no complaints.
 

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Aldegar had not replied in word, but instead had risen to his feet to walk at her side while Dyanah gathered the bay gelding and Guinevere before stepping carefully to the edge of the lakeside. The evening was quickly fading into night proper, the air holding the early bite of winter's breath and making the emerging stars shine like jewels studded across the sky. Dyanah left Guinevere to drink, trusting the mule not to over-water herself and tying off the gelding's short lead to the mule's neck to keep him from straying.

The lakeside was coarse sand and water-smoothed stone, the scent of water and the droning of late-fall insects lingering with the last colour from the sunset. Dyanah knelt for a moment, loosening her boots and slipping them off before rolling the legs of her soft calf-skin breaches to her knees and stepping gingerly into the edge of the water. It was, in a single word, freezing, and a small gasp slipped past her lips as she worked out to mid-calf before leaning down to submerge Nysard's tunic in the star-scattered water. Aldegar had been utterly silent; his presence a weight in the gathering darkness and Dyanah had to fight to keep from turning her eyes to him. Despite the coldness of the water, her cheeks flushed and she swallowed hard as she wrung the grime from the tunic. Searching for something to break the leaden silence, she spoke as she worked, cursing in her thoughts as her voice seemed breathy in nervousness,

'It would be easier to clean your tunic if you were to take it off you know...'

There was a rustle of cloth as Dyanah turned back to the shoreline to see Aldegar shrugging off his tunic with a mild grunt of pain; the twilight softened his hard features as he watched her movements. Shaking out Nysard’s tunic before draping it loosely on a low stand of witch hazel by the water’s edge, Dyanah tried to focus on the task before padding across the stones to where the farmhand stood, the day had been long and a fog seemed to cling to her thoughts. “Thank you.” His voice held the blunt edge of exhaustion when he offered the shirt to her, “another night and we are no closer, and now with more people we cannot trust. What will that bastard do next.”

‘I know not, nor do I care what he does. If I was not bound to him by word I would say be done with him!’

A cold vehemence reared up from her gullet at the mention of the Hunter and Dyanah felt her fists clench around the fabric, the sharpness in her throat betraying her pain as she took a faltering breath before shaking her head,

‘I do not know, Aldegar. We will press on, despite the hardships, what else is left beyond that? When we get to the city we can seek proper help, beyond that…?’

She sighed deeply, trying to hide the awkwardness that knotted her stomach, and looked up into his eyes,

‘Beyond that we hold onto each other.’

Reaching out to tug at his arm, Dyanah pulled gently in the direction of the water,

‘The water is cold, but it will do your wound well to be clean. Come.’

He came forward at her touch like an exhausted shire after a long day under plow, his shoulders betraying fatigue in the lay of the corded muscles. Twilight robed the colour from him, casting everything in muted tones. Suddenly Aldegar stopped, his arms encircling her and pulling her close in a protective embrace as he cast his gaze up towards the heavens. “Proper help would be good, but we have nothing to offer for it and who would take our word? It will fall to us in the end; I can feel it in my bones.” His voice was a low rumble that she could feel in the closeness, though his words made her own chest tighten as he turned his face back down to her own,

‘Then we will make them listen, do what we must…’

Dyanah felt her throat tighten, words pressed past her emotions with difficulty,

‘… I will… sell Guinevere if that is what it takes and go on foot. As long as I am at your side it will not matter. We will forge our own fates, my Wolf.’

She could feel her heartbeat racing, the cold water forgotten in the warmth of his arms and the rough musk of his skin. He could not begin to understand how much she needed his touch, sought a reason to believe all was not lost in his embrace. Dyanah reached upwards, closing the distance remaining between them to brush her lips upon his. He responded in kind, though the fierceness that had been there before seemed diminished somehow.

It was Aldegar that pulled back first this time and, despite the fact that his arms held her close still as he spoke, Dyanah felt a wash of uneasy emotion from the pit of her stomach. “We should finish here, then find out more of those others. See if they are worth putting any trust in, or if we must all watch our backs like I with Kai.” For a moment she did not want to let go, not after the heartache that the last days had brought, yet there was fear within the need. Never before had a man held her like this. The breathless embrace was a new thing; ground that had never been trod on before and as much as every touch left her feeling tight it was also plagued by uncertainty. She swallowed hard, allowing her cheek to rest against his bare chest,

‘Why does his hate turn on you now? Is it because of me he not does hold your friendship?’

His reply came after a long moment, as if he was reluctant to give voice to it. “No, it is not you. Kai looks to me for blame and me alone. He decries me some monster when I have been nothing but the man I have always been.” There was sullen pain in those words, a tension to his body that betrayed emotions kept barely in check. “He believes me terrible, that I cast away Kirsten for you out of convenience; never once using his head, acting more like me than even I would.”

Dyanah felt her spine stiffen reflexively when Kirsten’s name passed Aldegar’s lips, a cold flush chasing down her skin as she shook her head in disbelief at the foolishness of Kai’s actions before nuzzling gently at where his thick neck met the swell of his chest. Yet the thoughts lingered like crows around a newly seeded field. Reluctantly, she pulled back in his arms only enough to reach her fingers up and trace a faint scar across the bridge of his nose,

‘I remember when you got this one,’

A fleeting smile touched Dyanah’s eyes in memory of happier times,

‘Though I think the Durgan brothers remember it more when you cracked their skulls together before Cook threw the lot of you out of the tavern’s back door! Found you with your face over the horse watering trough, more water down your front than blood on your face and as drunk as a pig in the mash! I always wondered if you remembered it…’

Dyanah let her voice trail off into the darkness, a feeling of uncertainty gripping at her heart as she dropped her eyes and pulled back. The words that Kai had spoken stung even taken second-hand and Dyanah gently leaned over to wet the tunic still in her other hand before moving to Aldegar’s side and carefully using it to wipe at the wound.

'Kai will see what he wants to see, Aldegar. He is afraid, mare's hocks he has a right to be! We all do. But you are no less the man you ever were.'

Though the look upon his face told her that he had not memory of the event, he reached out to grasp her fingers and pull them to his side. “No, but I remember this one; when the wolves came four winters passed, trying to take what they could. Some came for the calves you were nursing, but instead got to feel the kiss of my axe.” His hand was warm against the chill of her wet fingers, the knot of scar surprisingly soft and smooth compared to the sun-browned swath of his hide. “I have scars for those who matter, those who mean or meant something. One for you, another for Nysard, even one for Kai; but none ever for Kirsten.”

Dyanah traced the scar with her fingertips as the memories of that winter eve were brought back sharp to her mind; the wolves had come from the shadows of the pines like quicksilver, it had been a hard winter and their hungry drove them to be ever more bold. Some of the herd had already been taken, the calves left motherless when a heifer had been caught in deep snow by the pack. Dyanah had come to tend the orphans, and the wolves to the sound of their bleating hunger.

‘I remember it. That day you were my Wolf, my guardian. I will never forget it.’

Yet there was a untruth hidden within his words that stung her like a barbed hook as she pulled her hand back. Her voice was low, barely a whisper over the night’s wind,

‘If she meant nothing to you then you would not be here now,’

And you will bear scars for her before this is over.

Dyanah sighed as she wiped the grime from his skin, she would always be second. She bent to rinse out the tunic fully this time, running the coarse sand over it with her palms and swirling the water until it was as clean as could be under the moment before ringing it out and draping it carefully over his shoulder. She could feel the clinging ash on her skin, itching under her vestments and the coarseness of her own scent after the events of the day.

‘Turn your eyes away…’

Turning her back to him, she tugged at the laces of her bodice, feeling the grit under them as they slid free and shrugged it off. The mud that clung to it was pale in the darkness and she carefully slipped her tunic over her head, gasping at the cold air that rushed in.

Her hands were full of the fabric of her bodice and tunic when his hand closed on her arm, the shock of his touch on her bare skin enough to freeze the words in her throat. “Nysard is like a brother, Kai is like a brother for what that is worth to him. I am here to save what little they have left, so that they do not have to suffer the loss I did. I thought I came for her, but I did not. I am here for them and more so I am here for you.”

Slowly, with her breath shallow and short, Dyanah turned back to face him, her words faltering,

‘Aldegar… look at me,’

Hesitation and anxiety wrapped itself around her thoughts; everything in her heart was exposed before him. Dyanah shivered in the chill of the evening and the uncertainty of one who has placed their soul bare before another’s judgment, the fabric bunched to her chest in a loose bundle,

‘I never wanted any other but you. All I have left is that now.’

The evening seemed to still around them, drawing out in an uncomfortable heaviness before he finally spoke and she felt as if the world had tipped under her feet. “Your shivering Dyanah, let us be done here and return to the fire. No good will come of the elements robbing us of strength; I cannot lose you to something like that.”

Let us be done here and return to the fire. The words cut across her like the smile of an axe. Emotions exploded inside her like a covey of quail bursting from a predator’s shadow. Shame stole her voice as she turned away, not wanting him to see the start of the tears as she splashed to the shore. Her feet were numb from the cold water, awkward upon the rough stones and lakeside, but the trembling in her shoulders was for another reason all together as she pulled her tunic back over her head. Her mind was locked in a spiral like a broken winged hawk, she had placed herself before him and he had done nothing. Did he not want her in truth? Would he rather be at the fireside? Was she a fool for having thought he would understand what his desire for her meant?

Dyanah tried to still her breath, feeling the dizziness of hyperventilation as she stood on the sand; unsure if she wanted to weep or scream in regret. Grabbing up her boots she turned to head towards the dark shape of Guinevere and the gelding before stopping with a sigh and walking back to where Nysard's tunic lay on the bushes at the waterside.

The splashing of Aldegar’s movements drew her mind from the fog of confusion as she lifted the damp tunic free of the grasping branches, the squelch of his boots on the stones stopping as she slowly turned back to the edge of the lake. The farmhand stood, pain etched in his face and shoulders sagging as if he had the weight of the world on them. But why did he hold back? Why did he not take her in his arms when her heart was open before him? Did he not understand how alone she felt?

Spite burned like the bite of an asp in the back of her thoughts- If it had been Kirsten standing before him, would he have hesitated? Dyanah pushed the thought away, knowing the truth but not wanting to accept it.

His hand lifted, reaching out for her own but stopping before he touched her as if afraid of something she couldn’t comprehend. For a heartbeat she stood, shivering and tired to the bone as the darkness coiled around them. Torn between the one she had given her heart to and the fear of being hurt yet again. Something in his face cut deep within her, a longing and pain of need that echoed her own. Her hand reached out to his, fingers touching and interlacing together. They were both heart raw, every misstep a hundred knife blades to soul deep wounds that were still bleeding. Her voice was tinted with pain. It was all she could do to force a single word past the confusion in her heart.

‘…why?’

“How would I ever deserve you if I so easily give up on everything else?” Aldegar words were low, somewhere between haunted need and loyalties. His hand held hers gently, stilling the shivering with his strength, and turning her thoughts back to words spoken out of terrified pain. A real man would have courted a girl proper. Dyanah was suddenly thankful of the darkness as it hid her flush of indignity and gently caressed his calloused palm with her own.

They walked back to the fireside without another word, Guinevere following behind like an obedient dog with the bay gelding in tow. The warmth was heady after the cold of the water and Dyanah could feel her mind growing sluggish in weariness as she stepped aside to rummage through her packs, finding the woolen blanket and the handful of dried fruit that she kept wrapped in oilcloth for times when she could not leave a beast’s side for a proper meal. It was not much more than to keep hunger at bay, but it would do for the time.

The farmhand had stayed huddled by the fireside, his tunic laid out to dry and the flames casting his features in shades of copper-gold. She draped the blanket around his broad shoulders before reaching to remove his sodden boots and setting them by the fireside with Nysard's tunic, not caring of the thoughts or eyes of the others that sat apart as took a place at the fire nearby him. She unwrapped the package in her lap carefully, still shivering slightly with the cold, taking a piece of the fruit before holding the parcel out to Aldegar.
 
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