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RP: The Homecoming: Part one

Discussion in 'UO Sonoma' started by hiai, Oct 3, 2004.

  1. hiai

    hiai Guest

    Sorry for the formatting on this one...but I'm too lazy to fix cut and pasted stuff...okay? lol

    Ilianara slowly eased her mount to a halt, lifting her helm to wipe away the dusty streaks of perspiration with the hem of her dark blue cloak. She lifted her head to let the chill mountain breeze ruffle through her hair, listening to the labored breathing of her exhausted steed. She leaned over to give his neck a solid pat. "Almost there, boy," she promised, "You'll get the rest you deserve, I swear." The weary bay flicked his ears at the sound of her voice, seeming almost to understand her words.

    She gazed out over the promontory on which she was halted into the valley spread out below. The scattered pockets of snow gave way to scrubby heather not far below, which in turn gave way to rolling, wildflower-filled meadows further on. Ilianara breathed deeply of the biting air, trying for a whiff of the Spring's new growth. "I love Darkmoor in the Spring," she commented aloud. The only response was a soft nicker from the bay. With a weary sigh, she narrowed her eyes, concentrating her inner strength. The landscape altered itself before her eyes, bringing the distant cluster of buildings into sharper focus. A shimmering bright aura seemed to light the air around the town.

    A crooked grin lit her face as she recognized some of the shifting colors. "Well, I see some things never change," she snickered aloud. Again, there was no response beyond that of nature's sounds. Suddenly frowning, she leaned forward, sharpening her concentration. "Hmmm. Lots more people around lately," she murmured, obviously in the habit of verbalizing her thoughts. She scanned the valley below more carefully. Her frown deepened much further at the sight of the single low building farthest from her sight, and it's lack of any aura whatsoever.

    The frown stayed as she relaxed her concentration wearily and sat back in the saddle, the auras fading away from sight again. With a dismissing head shake, she clucked to her mount, setting him a slow and easy pace down the hillside, toward the distant town. Now so close to her goal, the great weariness, so long kept in abeyance, seemed to descend upon her all at once. By the time she pulled up in front of the Skyview, she was wary of dismounting, for fear of falling out of the saddle altogether. Dusk was falling as she rallied her resources for one last large effort. The young stable boy approached with an unlighted lamp in hand, obviously feeling put upon by her arrival. Upon closer inspection, he recognized her and the sullen look fled before the dawning smile.

    "Milady Ilianara! You are full two days early!" his grin was infectious and brought an answering rueful grin to her face. "Aye, Pollux, and my backside is paying the price of it now!" He laughed delightedly, offering his sturdy adolescent shoulder as a dismounting post. She took care not to unbalance him as she threw her leg over the saddle, one hand firmly gripping the proffered shoulder. At her move to lead her mount to the stable, Pollux grunted in mock indignation. "Hey! That's my job, remember?" he growled humorously. She grinned appreciatively in response.

    "Ah, but how do I know you won't leave a burr under his saddle like you did to the Duke's warhorse?" she questioned archly, pretending disdain. He grinned widely in response, not at all fooled. "Because you pay much better than the Duke!" he laughed. She chuckled, shaking her head, as she pulled out her money pouch. "Well, not much better, this time, " she admitted, eying the flatness of her pouch ruefully. "Well, then you will have to owe me a pint!" he quipped, with an impertinent wink. She grinned again, dimples dancing, as she reached to ruffle his curly locks. "Do better to get you a haircut, raggamuffin!" she growled affectionately. He answered with a raspberry, dodging quickly out of her reach. "Boy, if I weren't so tired, and you hadn't grown at least 5 inches since last I saw you, I'd teach you some manners!" she exclaimed, trying in vain to sound severe.

    He straightened proudly to show off his new height, which was more like 2 inches, as he took the reins from her weary fingers. "I can almost fit into Da's platemail!" he declared, obviously pleased at her attention. "Oh, aye, I can see that," she agreed, eyes twinkling, "Soon the Legionnaires, the Templars, and the Baronial Houses shall be fighting over who gets to train you." He led her beleaguered mount away with stars in his eyes, promising to give him a thorough rubdown and hefty share of oats.

    Ilianara fingered the depleted money pouch one more time as she stepped up onto the stoop of the large inn, then slipped it back under her surcoat with a sigh. She contemplated how much gold she had found as loot in her battles, and how easily it slipped away when paying tithes at every shrine in the land. With an inner shrug, she pushed the swinging doors open, savoring the warmth of the resulting draft. The odors of roasting meat and fresh baked bread made her mouth water instantly as she stepped just inside the doorway, letting her eyes adjust to the bright lamplight within. The unexpectedly loud and chaotic swirl of noise and color made her pause to survey the crowd.

    She was taken aback to see an abundance of Ducal and Noble house colors. This was not generally considered a place for such people to frequent. Her eyes homed in on the brooding figure of the Duke, flanked by his armsmen, scowling at an intense-looking noble that argued with him earnestly. Her eyes widened in surprise, taking in the tense stance and the thunderous expression, recognizing that particularly grim bulldog look. She ducked quickly back into the shadows as he swirled abruptly to stalk towards the door. The loud, argumentative voices swelled as the Duke pushed open the doors with unnecessary force and stomped out, discomfitted-looking armsmen scrambling to catch up. Only when she heard the heavy beat of his warhorse's iron shod hooves fade away did she ease herself from the sheltering shadows.

    The crowd was beginning to disperse, sharp voices still raised in loud complaint as knots of richly dressed nobles spilled out of the inn and into richly appointed carriages. She thoughtfully approached the still-crowded bar, eaten alive with curiousity, listening to the excited chatter of the craftsmen and laborers that comprised the usual crowd at the Skyview. A charming smile was bestowed upon the burly cooper who promptly offered his seat at the bar. He blushed firecely, stammering, as she proffered her thanks. He walked to the table his companions held for him with a dazed expression on his face. The dimple on her cheek danced again, watching him receive the guffaws and backslaps of his companions with the same response. She turned back to the bar, glancing down to spot the bartender. At the sight of his harried expression at the other end of the bar, she sat back patiently, glad merely to rest upon something that didn't move. She shifted in her seat uncomfortably with a wince, an exhausted sigh escaping.

    "Saddlesore?" came the dry inquiry, causing her to look up abruptly. The ruffled-looking bartender eyed her with a sour expression. She grinned wryly, recognizing the devilish glint in his eye. "Aye, and if you were any kind of barkeep, I'd already have a brew in my hand to dull the pain," she quipped, her eyes crinkling merrily. A foamy mug appeared before her instantly, as if by magic. "And if you were any kind of paladin, you could just.." he trailed off, waving his hand in the air vaguely. This elicited the desired laugh, as she gripped the mug gratefully. He quirked an eyebrow eloquently. "What, did you fly in your eagerness for my company?" They both chuckled over that one, Ilianara spluttering a little over the large swig she was swallowing.

    His tired grin widened as she dabbed the foam with the bedraggled hem of her cloak. "Such a dainty lady you've become," he drawled sarcastically. "That whole holier-than-thou paladin training has gone to your head." She rolled her eyes extravagantly, flicking the bits of foam on her fingertips at him. His even white teeth showed in a wide grin as he wiped his face with his sleeve.

    "How ever have I gone this long without you here to deflate my self-esteem to nothing?" she grumbled good humoredly, sticking out her tongue. "I couldn't begin to guess," he drawled on. "Gotten way above yourself in your travels, no doubt. Gonna have to knock you down an extra bit as a public service, I guess.." he trailed off, pretending to cower before her playfully raised fist. Her expression turned serious as she leaned forward and lowered her voice. "What's going on tonight? Never seen it like this before," His expression matched hers as leaned forward as well.

    "Town meeting. The Duke called for a counseling session about all the new growth, and the increase of crime in the town." Only one who knew him as well as she would detect the faint sneering emphasis he habitually pronounced when referring to the Duke. She could almost see the quotes around the title. This brought a faint shadow of her former smile to her face, and the barkeep lifted that expressive brow questioningly. She shook her head once, waving him off. He shrugged, used to her elaborate internal dialogues. He stretched his back, one
    hand held behind in support. She watched sympathetically, hunching her own shoulders tiredly.

    "You look as tired as I feel," she commented, wincing at the crackling of her spine. He smiled crookedly . " If I wasas tired as YOU look, I'd be dead," he quipped, eyeing her in hidden concern. She humphed, shrugging off his silent questions. He glanced down the bar at his other patrons, shrugging eloquently. The crowd had thinned considerably by then. He caught the pretty barmaid's eye and quirked his chin at her, cocking his head to indicate the weary paladin. She followed his glance to recognize Ilianara. Her eyes lit briefly and she nodded once, tilting her head to indicate an empty table near the huge hearth. He walked down around the end of the bar and grabbed Ilianara's elbow, gently dragging her towards the table.

    "I am not exactly a cripple, now, Kol," she drawled, allowing herself to be drawn along. "No, 'Nara," he returned absently, "But I'd bet you're about to keel over right at the bar, and that's bad for business." She snorted again, settling into the more comfortable chair with a weary sigh. The pretty barmaid appeared at her elbow with a huge trencher of thick soup and a fresh, foamy mug.

    "You're an angel fallen from heaven!" she breathed, tucking in ravenously. "Tell that to these brutes!" the barmaid replied saucily, with a toss of her silky curls. Ilianara grinned at her over a huge mouthful of bread. "I'll recommend your boss give you a raise. He obviously doesn't appreciate the miracle that is you," she snickered, after swallowing noisily. Kolian rolled his eyes in exaggerrated disgust. The two girls exchanged winks, and the barmaid flounced off with a grin to answer the bellows for more ale.

    The huge barkeep hooked his foot around a nearby chair and sat in it backwards, ignoring the chairs squeaky protests he rested his folded arms on the back of the chair, leaning forward. He waited patiently as she bolted down most of the soup, washing down the chunks of bread with huge draughts of ale.

    As she finally began to slow, he began relating his news again. "Maximus has all the nobles in an uproar this time, " he chuckled, his habitual disdain for rank very apparent in his voice. He went on after a silently urging look," Seems he believes that there is not support enough for the Temple and the town from the nobles and the town guilds." She eyed him questioningly, breaking off some more bread. "Well, for once I find myself actually agreeing with His Royal Pain." He paused to appreciate the startled look before going on.

    "Well, lately they've all been talking about the lack of activity or energy being put forth by the Templars and the Legionaires, both. Many have complained about the lack of new recruits and the way that the veterans, like yourself,
    have been allowed to disperse on their own 'personal' quests." He earned a derisive snort with his emphasis on the last. His crooked grin widened appreciatively. "Seems their precious hides, and their precious trade caravans, are needing more protection, since of course they are the lifeblood of the
    community and all of us lowly workers depend upon them for our support." His voice sharpened over this last statement, and Ilianara raised her brow at the hint of real anger apparent. He nodded sharply.

    "Oh, yes. Seems they are all far more important than the likes of US. But of course, when Maximus suggests an increase of taxes to pay for all of these oh-so-important changes, who is it that needs to pay a higher rate?" the sarcasm in his voice was thick. Ilianara shook her head, all too aware of the political machinations that had made her quest seem a welcome getaway, despite the incredible hardships she endured.

    "Ah, Darkmoor!" she exclaimed, sopping up the last of the soup with the end of the loaf. "How I have missed this place!" the last was partially muffled by a huge yawn as she stretched painfully, arching her back and pushing her raised elbows back until even Kolian heard the crackling.

    His sullen look, donned at the thought of the new tax proposals, transformed to one of gentle mocking. "So, you're getting awfully old now, with all this questing of yours!" he teased. She grinned tiredly in response. "Don't I know it! I can feel every year and every mile on these tired old bones. And if you don't get me a room to collapse in right now, I'll see about making sure that YOU feel them too!" she growled in mock threat. His answering grin lit up his handsome face, causing more than one appreciative glance in his direction. He arose abruptly and circled the table to clasp her shoulder briskly. "It's so good to have you back!" he exclaimed, all trace of mocking gone.

    She muffled a groan at this enthusiasm and tilted her head to crack her neck loudly. The grip on her shoulder tightened as he pulled her bodily out of the chair and put his hugely muscled arm around to support her as she staggered. No comment was made as he half-carried her up the stairs to let her collapse on the clean, fresh-smelling linen of the narrow bed in the largest, airiest room of the Inn. He completely ignored her incoherently mumbled protests as he pulled her boots and armor off, leaving her in her sweaty, travel-stained linen and silk. He pushed her back onto the bed inexorably, shoving her weapons and armor under the bed with his foot.

    Her protests about her filth and the quality of the room were ignored completely as he filled the washbasin next to the bed from the nearby ewer and wet the rough toweling folded there just enough to wipe her filthy face and hands as if she were a helpless baby. Her protests were silenced as she gave in to his ministrations drowsily. Half-asleep, she barely noticed as he blew the lantern out and briefly rested one hand on her tangled hair.

    "You'll have a hot bath waiting for you in the morning. And a big breakfast. Tomorrow is soon enough to report in. And if your precious Duke has a problem with that, he can just come to me with it!" This last comment was uttered fiercely between gritted teeth. She smiled sleepily, and murmured something unheard as her eyes closed. She didn't hear the last thing, breathed lightly as he stroked her hair once and turned away. "I really did miss you. We all did." He paused in the doorway to look at the shadowed figure, already breathing deeply in sleep. A worried frown marred his finely cut features once more as he eased the door shut carefully and trod quietly down the creaky stairs. The noisy room quietened abruptly at the sight of his formidable scowl, and the murmur that began again when he turned away was a very subdued one.

    (to be continued)
  2. Very well done! /php-bin/shared/images/icons/smile.gif
  3. *applauds*

    Wonderfully well-writ!

    Thank you for this.

  4. Lady Vixen

    Lady Vixen Guest

    *claps* Well writ indeed!!!!!
  5. Wonderful Tale!
    Cant wait for part two!

    Good Fortune!
  6. hiai

    hiai Guest

    Thank you all. Part two is forthcoming next week...RL permitting. hehehe