Keepers of the Mountain

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Re: Keepers of the Mountain

Postby SkieNight » Sat May 20, 2017 12:33 pm

James had not been sure what response he expected when he had asked Ayal what their next step would be. Perhaps he had wished for some form of comfort, or maybe a promise that it would all be okay in the end – the kind a father or mother tells their child when things being to head South. Or maybe he had wanted the truth. Maybe he wanted to reassurance that he was not the only lost soul tonight, wondering as though half in a dream. Whatever response James had been looking for, he hadn’t been ready for how softly the older Keeper spoke and how unsure he sounded. It caused James to pause, open his eyes, and study the pile of sticks before him.

Ayal recovered quickly, of course, in a way James could never dream of. He could barely wrap his mind around what they had just seen, nevertheless take a deep breath, put on a brave face, and march forward towards the unknown. Still, there was a strange sort of half-comfort, knowing that he wasn’t the only one wondering. Ciess bumped her head against his side not all too gently, and he turned to watch her. She stared back at him with blazing, golden eyes. She was right, as she often was, they were in this together, all of them. They were Keeper, they were brothers, and they had a job to do. Especially if they were the only ones…

James cleared his throat as a way to clear his mind and blinked out of his haze, or at least tired to. He took a steady breath, resting on hand atop Ciess’ head as a way to ground and steady himself before kneeling back before the fire. Tea was important, as was water. James hadn’t realized how dry his throat was until he was thinking about the last time he’d had a sip of water. The mountainside, that was it, before he and Ciess and Gweli reached the top. James had packed just enough water to make it back to the monetary, any more would have been too heavy. Besides, there was snow he figured it he needed it he could use it. Well, they needed it now.

“I’ll work on the fire,” James said with a nod. He picked up the flint and steel that Ayal had pulled out from his bag and rubbed the two together. Friction was needed if a flame was to take hold, as was heat. In order to produce both some strength was required. Normally, it wouldn’t have been much of a problem for James. He had started many a fire in the past, both with and without flint. But with numbed hands, a body chilled to the bone, and damp logs the young man found himself questioning his ability to produce a flame. But they needed the heat, and one look towards Ciess and Gweli and then to Ayal and Zlabia reminded him that they needed it soon, lest they freeze to death on the side of the mountain they call home.

Three more quick strokes of the rocks and suddenly a spark flew. For a moment James wasn’t sure it would catch, but one of the branches was dry enough, and soon a small flame began to lick at the sticks. The light that emanated from the fire was greater than the small candle Ayal had brought considerably more warmth. For a moment James let his hands hover just inches above the sticks. He moved them only when the flames began to grow and build.

“I got the fire started,” he said to Ayal who was out just beyond the entrance collecting ice. Settling back beside the fire, James picked up another stick and began to trim back some of the back. Ciess settled against his side, relaxing some, though he could still feel the tension along her back as he ran a hand through her fur. “What do you have to eat?”

James himself wasn’t hungry, but it was bad news not to eat, especially in the cold and especially on a mountain. Altitude sickness could kill if one was not careful. Besides, food in their systems could be good. It would help them think and allow them to have more energy to face whatever was to come their way. “I don’t have a lot myself,” he continued as he trimmed away as much damp wood as he could without totally destroying the stick, “some bread, some leftover dried beans, and nuts.”

What he had wasn’t a lot, but they didn’t need a lot, at least not now, but later. The longer they wanted to stay the more food they needed. But if that wasn’t an option, perhaps they’d have to start back down the mountain sooner than they expected.
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Hiding under sheets with the news on repeat
'Cause the screams and cries are hard to delete
While I'm trying to sleep, oh how could I sleep?
Laying in bed, trying to empty my head
All these acts of violence ripping this world to shreds
While I'm trying to sleep, oh how could I sleep?

Wish there were words to say to make a change
Oh, the words to sing to end this suffering

Let's start a revolution where we all stand as one
Cause we need to make a change for a new day
We need to be the generation that’ll awaken a solution
Cause we need to make a change
Make a change, make a change for a new day

~MisterWives

______________________________________________________________________________________________

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Re: Keepers of the Mountain

Postby Silverhart » Fri May 26, 2017 10:33 pm


    The fire fluttered to life, and orange light spilled out across the cave as Ayal retreated back inside. Immediately the world seemed to shrink in on itself, coalescing to only the two men, their ligers, and a single otterling bathed in soft firelight. Long shadows went scuttling back into the shadows, and the world, if smaller, at least was a bit brighter. Ayal settled down close to it, the tiny flickers breathing a bit of warmth back into his fingers as he held them out. He sighed, pleased to see some progress being made. It was quite astonishing how a simple fire suddenly took a bit of edge off his anxiety, even it was just a bit. At least they could pass this night in relative safety and warmth.

    Unless... Ayal shook his head, as he went to his pack. He drew out his bag. “I hope you like oatmeal. And oatcakes. And oatbread.” Zlabia growled and rolled her eyes. “As I recall, one of my old teachers was fond of saying: 'if you want to be as strong as a sleipnir, you had best eat like one.'” A memory niggled at the back of Ayal's mind. “I remember, the next time I was in town, I went out of my way to sample some hay from the stables. It was not one of my better ideas, admittedly.” Zlabia snickered, if it could be said that a liger could snicker. Ayal smiled at James, hoping to lighten the mood somewhat. “I would not personally recommend it.”

    The older Keeper picked up a stick and prodded the fire, before tossing it into the flames. “Stoke the fire nice and hot,” he said, moving the pot of snow closer to the fire. Then he turned his attention back to his bag of vittles. He spread them out on his pack for James and Ciess to survey. It wasn't much. Ayal liked to travel light, and on his journeys he was constantly supplementing his supplies with what he could gather, or bargain for. The weather and the remoteness rendered both of those options impossible however. Though it may make a rather bland meal, there was enough for a hearty enough supper. Between the two of them, they may even be able to stretch their supplies another day.

    “And I will assure you that I have more than enough tea leaves to last us weeks.” His liger licked her lips at that, as the big cat loved her freshly brewed tea as much as her Keeper. As they waited for the fire to grow larger, and the snow to melt and boil, that same thought from before struck Ayal. He tossed it over in his mind, gnawing at it worried like a dire with a bone. “You don't think...” he started, then went silent. Should he speak up and possibly add more worries to the young man's growing list? He looked up across the fire at James. The flickering flames cast deep shadows on his face, making him look far older and tireder. No, Ayal should share his suspicions with James, even if they were unfounded. There was not much more he could say to unsettle the young man after all he'd seen, and he wanted James' opinion on that matter.

    “I'm wondering if it's possible they'll come back.” He didn't need to elaborate who 'they' were. Whoever had done this to their brothers and sisters. Ayal hadn't wanted to say it; to pin the blame on some entity or group of them, but now that he had he felt almost better. He hadn't a single notion of what he would do if they did come back, especially not knowing what their intentions were. Zlabia curled up around her Keeper, lending him her great warmth, and he absentmindedly stroked her massive head.
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Hellooo!
My name is Silverhart and I am here to collect pets, draw fanart, and geek out over Eld related things. And all while simultaneously searching for the truth behind the very many excellent questions. I am a stamp enthusiast, a loyal minion to my Lord Sullivan, partaker of muffins, and a shipper of apologies.
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Re: Keepers of the Mountain

Postby SkieNight » Mon Jul 03, 2017 12:02 pm

The fire was like adding a six-member to their small group. As it grew and danced before them it brought with it the life and energy that James felt he lacked. As the older Keeper settled down across from him, he began to talk and James sat back and did what he was best at, he listened. Listening was a skill James had learned from his mother. It was no passive, as some liked to believe, but active. One had to listen carefully and listen well if one wanted to listen at all. Or so his mother had said, and James trusted her word. So he listened to Ayal’s words and nod along and even smiled too. It was a fleeting smile, gone as soon as it came, but it was real and filled James’ chest with some warmth. Though perhaps that was just the flames, which were larger now thanks to Ayal’s poking and prodding.

James looked over the other Keeper’s supplies. Between the two of them, they probably had three days on the mountain, if they rationed correctly. Ciess shifted and took a deep sniff of the options and wrinkled her nose. She settled back against James, a deep rumble coming from the back of her throat, almost as if she were grumbling under her breath. James silenced her with a soft jab of his elbow. “I believe we can make this work,” he said, looking between the food Ayal laid out and the food that was in his own pack. “At least for a few days.”

His expression relaxed to something of a half-smile at the thought of tea. At least they could still have something from the monastery, some semblance of life. Perhaps they could even pretend that they had just gone off on a retreat to meditate and clear their minds. But James knew that was no the case, there was too much to be done and too much that was real. With a quiet sigh, James dipped his head. Pretending that they were here for any other reason besides tragedy was childish, to say the least.

James didn’t look up for Ayal’s question. Instead, he shifted slightly to show that he had heard the man and watched the flames flicker. He could only imagine what terrible things could destroy a monastery and the people in it. No… they were not all destroyed, some of them had to have escaped, James reasoned. The most probable event was that some of them escaped… whatever had come. He racked his mind for a reply. They could come back, there was no denying that. Or maybe not. What was left aside from ruins? What was there to go back to?

“I pray to the Ancients that they don’t,” James said softly into the fire. “The Monastery is destroyed. I don’t know what else they would want. There’s…” James’ voice broke and he dropped his head again, unable to look at Ciess or Zlabia or Ayal. “There’s nothing remaining for them to return to.”

The admittance was the final arrow in his chest. There was nothing left. Sure they found books and things among the rubble, but what good were they? They were pieces, mere pieces of the greatness that had once topped Mount Bastion, and now all that was gone, washed away for the histories to remember and recall. There was nothing. Ciess pressed herself into James’ side, and even Gweli scampered across the floor – eyes always on Zlabia – before climbing up the Keeper’s back and hiding away in the crook of James’ neck. The warmth of his bondmate and his companion did little ease the dark tension swirling around in his chest. Nothing was left, and as much as James’ liked to think that some, at least a handful, got away, he wondered what it meant if they hadn’t. If he and Ayal were the last Keepers. Sure, Ayal would make a good teacher to train and help the next generation, but what of James? He was still learning himself. What did he possibly know? And was of Cerdiwen? Was the great Ancient of Knowledgeable to escape, or had he fallen like the other rumored Ancients had.

“What is happening to this land?” James asked, finally lifting his eyes from the flame to look at Ayal. “Why are we suddenly falling apart?” What can we do? James’ third question hovered in the air, unspoken, but clear. What could they do in this darkness in this despair? What could they possibly do?

Ciess nudged his side, and James glanced down at her. She watched him with an unweaving gaze and gave a soft grunt, her long tail flicking against his back. James ran a hand over the top of her head and down one cheek. “Perhaps you are right, Ciess. Perhaps we need sleep before we think ourselves to death.” Turning back to Ayal, James let out a shuttering breath. “What do you say, brother? We sleep and then talk more in the morning when our heads are clear?”
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Hiding under sheets with the news on repeat
'Cause the screams and cries are hard to delete
While I'm trying to sleep, oh how could I sleep?
Laying in bed, trying to empty my head
All these acts of violence ripping this world to shreds
While I'm trying to sleep, oh how could I sleep?

Wish there were words to say to make a change
Oh, the words to sing to end this suffering

Let's start a revolution where we all stand as one
Cause we need to make a change for a new day
We need to be the generation that’ll awaken a solution
Cause we need to make a change
Make a change, make a change for a new day

~MisterWives

______________________________________________________________________________________________

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SkieNight
 
Posts: 5493
Joined: Mon Aug 05, 2013 12:38 am

Re: Keepers of the Mountain

Postby Silverhart » Sun Jul 23, 2017 12:36 am


    It was so quiet. Strange, the quiet never bothered him before. Ayal supposed it was because he'd never been in a place so desolate feeling, both within and without. The monastery had been quiet yes – but even in moments of silence the hallways and libraries were filled with the gentle sounds of human and animal life. The swish of a tail against a tapestry. The sudden soft flap, and intake of breath as a page was turned and the fictional murderer revealed. The steady, nigh imperceptible heartbeats of those curled up in meditation striving so hard to remain still, and yet fluid.

    The hissing sizzle of the boiling snow melt interrupted Ayal's thoughts. That took was an old comfort – the sound of tea being prepared. Ayal fetched out his little sweet-smelling bags of tea blend as he watched James closely for a response. He seemed so... unsure. It was a jarring to remember James' youth, and see it so displayed in that uncertainty. I have to keep reminding myself – he's young. He needs reassurances, not worries heaped upon him. Ayal sighed, already regretting his statement. This is why he didn't work with the younger monks. “Don't let it trouble you.” He shook his silver head. “I'm just an old man, rambling. Don't pay me any mind.” Zlabia growled deep in her throat, hackles rising. “Yes – if they did come back, they'd have to face an angry Zlabia, which I'm sure even the boldest of drakes would think twice about. But you're right. There's nothing left for them here.” Nothing but two ligers, their keepers, and the charred remains of centuries of knowledge, for whatever that was worth. He ran his hands down the liger's soft mane, smiling as he did so, before remembering the tea. “Oh!” Quickly he added the bags into the boiling water, and settled back down to watch the bubbles.

    James' next question made Ayal look up. For a long moment the man didn't know how to answer. A thousands words of wisdom pattered through his mind, each one sounding more disingenuous then the last. Buck up lad, tomorrow's a new day! Things are always darkest before the dawn. Sometimes, these things just happen. and any number of other half-truths. His eyes traveled over his roughened hands, tracing over every bump and wrinkle and absently wondering when each one had appeared without his noticing. There was ash stuck under the fingernails, and the skin felt like crackling paper along the back as he flexed the tendons there, rubbed raw by the wind and dryness. Glancing at Zlabia, he saw the ligress seemed to have truly taken notice of James for the first time, her bright eyes fixed on him. In any other big feline the expression might have been seen as curiosity – a soft, alert look. Her slow blinks told Ayal otherwise. The big cat felt sympathy towards the young man.

    The sweet aroma of tea drifting on the woodsmoke spared Ayal from having to answer James' questions, at least for the moment. “Sleep would be good,” he agreed. But first, he fetched a pair of tin cups and a shallow bowl from his pack. He filled the bowl with from the pot, and set it down where the animals could reach it. Zlabia immediately shuffled closer to breath in the steam, her whiskers practically curling in delight. Ayal dipped the first cup into the pot, bringing it up again brimming with hot tea.“Have some tea first. It will help.” Ayal help the cup out to him. “I promise.”
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Hellooo!
My name is Silverhart and I am here to collect pets, draw fanart, and geek out over Eld related things. And all while simultaneously searching for the truth behind the very many excellent questions. I am a stamp enthusiast, a loyal minion to my Lord Sullivan, partaker of muffins, and a shipper of apologies.
Eldemore Fanfiction ~ Current Project ~ Deviantart
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Re: Keepers of the Mountain

Postby SkieNight » Sat Jul 29, 2017 1:39 am

Even without glancing up, James could feel their eyes on him. It wasn’t like the people back home, who’s stares bore into James’ back and burned his neck. Nor were they like the fleeting glances of the people in the markets, who were watching simply to size him up. Ayal and Zlabia had gentle gazes, warm like the fire between them. For the first time in a long time, James felt very young and very lost.

It wasn’t as though he was unaware of his age. He was young in comparison to many of the other monks at the monastery, but he was no longer green as he had once been years ago. Though for all his awareness of his age, James wasn’t used to feeling it. He was the oldest of three siblings. He was the one who took care of them, watched them, made sure that they didn’t fight and when he did – and when he was not involved – he helped to calm them so his mother and father didn’t have to. He was the caretaker and the protector. He was the one with the answers. Now it seemed that all he had were questions, and even the older man with him couldn’t answer them.

That wasn’t to say Ayal didn’t try. He did, and for that James gave him credit and a silent nod. He tried to listen to Ayal, to push the thoughts out of his head, to roll his shoulders back and relax. But he couldn’t. With each shove, the thoughts grew louder and louder and his mind spun faster and faster, conjuring up new creatures that could have caused this disaster. Perhaps a massive drake. Or maybe, one of the basilisks had traveled across the land and buried its way into the mountain. Maybe, it was just an ancient, angry and vengeful that took its pain out on the inhabitants of the mountain. Each thought was larger and louder than the last, but James did his best to look passive and calm. He didn’t want to worry the old man as he tried, truly tried, to take Ayals’ words to heart.

Ciess rested her head against his side, staring up at him with gleaming eyes, but for once she didn’t try anything, didn’t distract him. She knew he needed this time, to think and pick through the facts and the thoughts, distinguishing one from the other. And she knew that if he didn’t do it now, it would over take him. Gweli, on the other hand, had taken to playing with strands of his curling hair. Her small tugs were more calming than anything else, though the occasional pull could be a bit painful. He didn’t brush her off, though. It was her way of showing that she cared. Or perhaps she was simply bored, it was hard to tell with the otterling.

James finally looked up from the fire, when Ayal passed him a cup of warm, steaming tea. Taking a moment, James brought the rough tin cup to his nose and inhaled deeply. The tension running across his shoulders loosened, though it didn’t vanish, James doubted it ever would, and his heart rate slowed slightly. “Thank you,” the young man murmured over the cup. He took a tentative sip and let the warm liquid pour down his throat and settle deep in his gut, warming him from the inside out. He’d almost forgotten how cold he’d been, but the tea helped, even if it couldn’t clear all his thoughts.

James still had more questions – then again when did he? – but one look across the circle kept his mouth closed. He’d said before that they needed a rest and he still stood by his words. The circling thoughts could be dealt with later. For now, tea and then sleep.
Image

Hiding under sheets with the news on repeat
'Cause the screams and cries are hard to delete
While I'm trying to sleep, oh how could I sleep?
Laying in bed, trying to empty my head
All these acts of violence ripping this world to shreds
While I'm trying to sleep, oh how could I sleep?

Wish there were words to say to make a change
Oh, the words to sing to end this suffering

Let's start a revolution where we all stand as one
Cause we need to make a change for a new day
We need to be the generation that’ll awaken a solution
Cause we need to make a change
Make a change, make a change for a new day

~MisterWives

______________________________________________________________________________________________

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SkieNight
 
Posts: 5493
Joined: Mon Aug 05, 2013 12:38 am

Re: Keepers of the Mountain

Postby Silverhart » Fri Sep 15, 2017 11:05 pm


    Ayal smiled what he hoped was a reassuring smile as the young man took a sip of the tea. He settled back with his own cup, resting back against his massive liger's side, as Zlabia dipped her head towards the bowl. Her tongue flashed out to lap up the steaming liquid. She rumbled deep in her chest as she drank, the vibrations knocking the frost from Ayal's rib cage. He sighed, wrapping his hands around the cup and letting the warmth suffuse through his body. There had been times when he was colder he was sure, but he couldn't for the life of him remember any of those times.

    As he sipped his tea, Ayal noticed the growing silence. He'd always enjoyed silence. As a child, silence had been a hard fought luxury in a family of four older sisters. It had taken years for him to reclaim it as something for himself. But this silence was not a meditative silence. He could see the storm clouds brewing behind James' eyes. Felt his own scratching at the corners of his mind. He almost wished to break it, as every moment in which they were left to their dark thoughts, they seemed to be growing further apart from one another. And in this situation that could spell trouble. Would he even be able to sleep tonight, the man wondered.

    Well, it was worth a try. “Zlabia, will you take first watch?” Ayal asked the great cat. She blinked her yellow eyes slowly in confirmation. “I'll leave you to the rest of the tea then.” There was a bright flash of pink as a tongue swept over the big feline's muzzle. Ayal tweaked her ear playfully, and she shook her huge head. At least we have our ligers, Ayal thought. Their brothers and sisters may have perished, but they still had their most precious companions. “I really must listen to you more often, friend,” Ayal told her, as he scratched her chin. “One should never overlook their blessings, in the midst of curses.” He finished his tea in the silence, then stood. His leg flared up in pain momentarily, and he tottered for a moment. Hoping that James hadn't noticed, he quickly got his weight under him and went to his pack. He pulled out his bedroll, and as he did so, the books he'd salvaged caught his eye. A black pit opened up in his stomach at the sight of them – but no. That would be for tomorrow, when there was better light, and his eyes weren't raw from the wind and his joints swollen with ice. He quickly re wrapped them, and replaced them in the pack. He spread out his bedroll by the fire. It wasn't exactly the most luxurious of beds, but it would serve better then the stone ground. He sighed, wishing for an extra blanket or a hot pan to heat it with. One should never overlook their blessings, in the midst of curses, he thought to himself, and he could almost hear Zlabia chuckling to herself.
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Hellooo!
My name is Silverhart and I am here to collect pets, draw fanart, and geek out over Eld related things. And all while simultaneously searching for the truth behind the very many excellent questions. I am a stamp enthusiast, a loyal minion to my Lord Sullivan, partaker of muffins, and a shipper of apologies.
Eldemore Fanfiction ~ Current Project ~ Deviantart
User avatar
Silverhart
 
Posts: 3830
Joined: Sat Jun 15, 2013 11:44 pm

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