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> Blood on the Moon, A Journey of Discovery
post Aug 18 2019, 04:29 PM
Post #1381

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Joined: 13-February 05
From: The Smoky Mountains

@SubRosa- Oh yes! Max would be perfect! I still sometimes see Athlain as played by a slightly taller Martin Freeman- especially his constantly beset version of Watson playing opposite Benedict Cumberbatch's Holmes....

She "declared herself an adult" at something like 4... Her earliest amusement (rather than "toy") was a bow adapted to her ability. And yes- despite all of that, they were children too- with all the squabbles and scuffles attendant upon growing up together.

We have been watching "The Last Kingdom," and that, plus other random reading, influences my view of the Skaal. Thus the idea of the mundane realm as a place of testing, with something like Valhalla (or Sovngarde) as the reward for dying a warrior's death.

They will probably be wishing for all the help they can get- after a couple of details are worked out. Though I imagine Persephone might cause Athlain to pass out...


After we left Korst, Athlain gave an apologetic shrug and started back to our cabin, mumbling something about “needing to write a report.” Despite his uniform, I sometimes forgot he was now an officer in the Legion, but he obviously did not. Although part of me wanted to enjoy the sun and sky, I also wanted to see what the translation of the Sosine Gaiden could tell me. Plus, I felt the need to keep Athlain where I could see him. It wasn't so much that I didn't trust him as that I knew him. His question about a “lone champion” was as plain to me as the printed page. So I linked my arm through his and said brightly, “Sounds good to me. I need to check your stitches anyway.” And possibly put a leash and collar on you, I thought, but did not say.

He grumbled a bit, but only for form's sake. It was when he decided not to argue with me that I became concerned. So I was encouraged by his continued muttering as he sat on the bed and removed his shirt. Once he settled, I decided everything looked good. Um. What I meant was the wound had healed well.

“This might hurt,” I said before I started snipping and removing the stitches.

Athlain gave a sudden hiss and then wheezed, “Do you really think so? Maybe we could ask Krish or Dulk if they would rather do it.”

“Did you just compare the person who is treating your injury to a couple of rieklings? The well-armed person who is sitting behind you, I might add?”

“Ah... no? It was delirium brought on by your excellent medical skills? I'm still under the influence of the sleeping potion, which reacted with some unexpected vapors in Korst's house? It was just the wind?”

I was in a perfect position to see the tops of his ears turn red as he tried to talk his way out of the hole he had just dug. Finally, I gave in to the laughter that was threatening to choke me and watched his shoulders relax. And I resolutely avoided noticing how broad and muscular they were, except for maybe a second or two. The laughter felt good; we always used to laugh as much as we argued.

“Now put your shirt on and write your report. Remember that 'Legion' only has one 'L'. I'm going to read for a bit.”

Athlain stood and pulled his shirt back on then stepped back out of my reach before saying, “Are you sure you didn't train with the Imperial torturer?”

He should have known better; I sent one of my blunt-tipped darts flying and caught him dead center. I always kept a few handy to drive off annoying pests that I didn't want to kill- or Athlain. Same thing. I pointed him to the writing table and he gave me that “Athlain grin” that said he had scored a point by making me hit him first. Rather than giving him the satisfaction of another bruise, even if he deserved it, I vented my frustration by punching my bedding into submission.

He wandered over to the desk, but then turned back to me. It was clear from his expression that his good mood of a moment before had vanished. His complaint was one that concerned me too, but that I had not given voice to. “We don't even know how to find Hircine. How do you hunt a hunter?” His question was a good one, but also one for which I did not have an answer. I touched the bear claw that hung from my neck, more for reassurance than because I thought it held any answers. My response, when it came, was annoyed and not terribly helpful- which was a good description of my state of mind. When Athlain saw that I wasn't in the mood for pointless discussion, he went back to the desk and started working on his report.

As his pen began scratching away, I felt the need to make some preparations of my own. Mostly, that meant ensuring my weapons were in top condition. Besides being a good precaution, the ritual of cleaning and honing and oiling helped focus my thoughts. I went to the table and set out most of my weapons, but not all. There was some part of me that became almost physically ill if I did not have at least one blade or projectile with me at all times. As I arranged everything to my satisfaction, well-remembered words came to me-

The mind is the warrior's greatest weapon. Neglect the mind and you will go down to defeat, no matter how sharp your blade.

I bowed to an ancient warrior whom I had never met, but whose words were as precious to me as gems. Thank you, Kensei Sosine. My physical weapons could wait; what I needed first was information. And the same master who had guided me in the way of the sword would now provide the knowledge I sought. As much as I wished to savor every word of the Sosine Gaiden, I knew there wasn't time. So I turned the pages carefully until I saw familiar terms- the Hunter, the Blood Tide, and shape-shifters. Even in translation, much of what Sosine narrated was obscure. He made reference to places, people, and events that were long lost to the intervening years. The bits and pieces I could understand were these:

On the night of the Bloodmoon, Sosine had gone to sleep in his chambers as usual, only to awaken in an ice cave. There, the Hunter appeared to him and told him that he had been chosen, because of his fame and his prowess as a warrior among warriors. He would be “tested” and, if he survived, he would have the honor of facing the Hunter in single combat.

Unfortunately, when the story reached the point where he described the actual battle, the translator had noted- “text damaged and unreadable.” It picked back up as Sosine explained how he had “taken the Hunter's own skin as my promised boon. This I then had made into a most marvelous light cuirass which rendered me proof from many spells and curses.” He then ended the section with the words:

There is no dishonor in exploiting your enemy's weakness.

I knew those words; they were one of the tenets in The Way of Sword. And what they meant was that Lord Dog Dandruff had weaknesses, weaknesses which could be exploited.

With my mental preparation as complete as I could make it, I turned back to my other weapons, and scanned the array before me. Satisfied with the arrangement, I went to my pack for the kit I had carried since I got my first blade, a kit that I kept stocked with whet stones, oil, and various kinds of cloth. It even had some small knives and other tools that I could use to fletch arrows or make the bodies for my darts. And all of it was rolled in a piece of soft leather, with a pocket for each item. As my hands winnowed the contents, seeking the familiar roll, my brain was already engaged in cataloging my weapons and the order in which I would maintain them. But then, my fingers encountered an unexpected bundle. It was squarish in shape, with an oilcloth covering. I questioned Athlain, “Did you sneak some of your books into my pack?”

“No, 'Thyna. You know I carry my own burden. Well, except for the other day,” he added sheepishly.

I tugged the offending item free and shook it at him. “So what is... this?” My words trailed off as I recognized what I held- an oilcloth package, just the right size to contain Mother's journal. But now it was adorned with an intricately knotted black silk cord.

“Messages, Princess, are sent in various ways, not just words on paper. Broken branches, scuffed prints, colored cloth folded into different shapes and,” he held out a ribbon, “knots in a string, cord or rope.”

I took the ribbon from his hand and noticed it had several knots with different sized loops and different spacing.

“It is a very good way to leave a simple message covertly, one that few would ever suspect.”

I held the bundle to my heart for a moment before I looked at the cord to decipher the code we had created that day as he sat on the side of my bed keeping me company. I was convalescing from an encounter with an injured guar, victim of an excursion through a scathecraw patch. A sound kick to the midsection had left me with cracked ribs and the slam into the wall had broken my leg.

I pulled the cord free and measured as I counted the loops and knots.

“Honor first”

Why would he send that of all things? And wrapped around Mother’s journals? With all that was happening what did he mean, “honor first”? This fight with Hircine was for my honor; I had understood that from the first time the Mutt Lord invaded my mind. I knew in my core that he was responsible for everything that had befallen us, including luring Athlain here in the first place. I could not let that go, nor could I walk away and leave the inhabitants of this island to the brutality of his whims, not even if doing so might save Athlain. My honor would not allow it. So... what did the message mean?

And besides all that, I wondered what Uncle Seth was trying to do. He never had just one purpose; there were always wheels within wheels with him. He had been direct enough when he left a black arrow pointed at Athlain's heart, along with a note telling me to work on my defense. “Honor first” and “codes in everyday objects.” Images of all my training flitted through my mind- weapons, potions, codes, reading terrain, reading people. But what had been “first?” For one thing, I had been, the first child born on Vvardenfell after the end of the Blight, followed two years and a month later by Athlain. And that had led to another “first,” my first vow- that I would keep him safe, that child with his intelligent eyes and serious face. Everything that followed had been because of that vow, right up to the present moment.

Codes and lessons were all very well, but I was in a fight for Athlain's life, because I just knew he was going to do something brave and foolish and I needed to be more watchful than ever. Perhaps that was what it meant- “honor first.” That I could not allow myself to be distracted- not by Mother's past and our sometimes difficult relationship, not even by Seth himself. So, “honor my vow.” Put all distractions aside and keep Athlain safe. Mother's journal would not help me do that, so it went back into my pack, followed by Seth's knotted message. I wandered back to the table that held my weapons and stared at them, their shapes so familiar to my hands that I would know each one by touch alone.

Cords, ribbons, ropes, and knots.... Don't let yourself get tangled up in confusion. That was another part of the message, even if he hadn't said it. I also mentally put away the other distractions, the feelings, and whatever other nonsense had been thrown at me. And, just at that moment, what I needed to do was stop Athlain from slipping out of the cabin, without even bothering to take his armor. My dagger flew from my hand to the door frame, and I told him, “Not gonna happen, Prince of Party Platters; just because my eyes are on what I’m doing doesn’t mean my ears don’t work.” I looked at him, standing there like a statue, trying to act as if he had not been trying to sneak away. “No one is going off on their own, not until all of this is finished. And maybe not even then.”

The dreams down here aren't broken, nah, they're walkin' with a limp...

The best-dressed newt in Mournhold.
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post Aug 18 2019, 05:50 PM
Post #1382

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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Between The Worlds

Athlain obviously grew up watching the same movies that most men do, extolling the virtues of a lone champion who can do everything on their own, including washing their own back.

It is great to see the very comfortable bantering and playful back and forth between A&A. It shows a great deal about their relationship, without telling it to us.

I have a suspicion that they might not need to find Hircine. If he is the Hunter, and they are the Quarry, he will come to them. Or he will try to flush them out.

Lord Dog Dandruff
biggrin.gif The Master of Mange?

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post Aug 19 2019, 01:29 PM
Post #1383

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Joined: 19-March 13
From: Ellicott City, Maryland

Hey, thanks for explaining various names, that helps a lot. smile.gif So is Trey the person who started this story? In other words, Trey is mentioned in your short list of names, and treydog is your name, so is Trey the one who you began with?

Why are you named treydog? (I ask lots of people questions about their names).

Because, to die in the Ristaag- or in the Hunt- is considered one of the highest honors a Skaal can achieve. We see this world as a test of our skill and our courage, merely a step on a longer path.

So it's probably okay to bring that (cut-down, wooden) sword to the hunt. These upper scale enemies they're going to face might take a few bruises, but at least the Skaal will die with the highest honor! indifferent.gif Yikes.

as he sat on the bed and removed his shirt. Once he settled, I decided everything looked good. Um. What I meant was the wound had healed well.


That's rather neat how they don't know where to find Hircine, but they're engaging in some detective work to try to pinpoint his location. And then that makes me wonder what tricks Hircine might also have. Especially with 1,000 years per instance under his belt.

This post has been edited by Renee: Aug 19 2019, 01:42 PM
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