Mountain Shadows


Syral Moon-son

    Green to Gray
  • Warlord Prince
  • Played By: Jones

    Moon King
    Glacia Kaeleer
    10 Posts    318 marks
Mountain Shadows
« on: September 12, 2019, 10:55:20 AM »
A silver morning cut through a light cover of clouds. Spring was not yet in the crisp air. The blooming of wheat and grass in the central plains told a different story, however. That was where the promise of warmer temperatures and fruitful crops was whispered. Between grass shoots. In the hollows between tree roots. It made the young men restless, and the young women even more so. When? When would they meet with the other tribes? Their blood was ready for celebration, heat, and an excuse to be themselves to excess.

Smiling to himself Syral helped his people bind up their houses for carrying on wagons instead of sleds. Then lead them west and south to the cradle of the mountains where the twelve tribes came to sing ancient songs. And dance timeless dances of every kind. Winter had been kind to his tribe despite their enemies soiling the waters. They were strong bodied, and impressive in number. The least city touched of the Nukti as a whole. Tradition nearly forgotten by others preserved in their crafters hands. It made Syral proud to see his old women passing skill down to their granddaughters. Just as proud as bringing in the largest hunt of the first night.

They painted their bodies in the colors of sunset and the feathers of fierce birds. Thousands of voices rose up in song. A hundred fires were danced around. Matches were made. And babies too, he was sure. Syral was too busy minding his sisters to delve over much in the wildness of the first night. For a little while the packs joined up to run as one, and howling at the full moon before they feasted. His eyes searched every pocket of shadow, though. Scanned the faces in the crowd with mild expectation.

On the second day she was there. She might have been all along, his attention too torn to be entirely accurate. Late or early, he didn’t care. It amused him too much to find her there at all. Hovering between tribes. As if she were not sure where to mingle. Syral sat outside of his tent with a few old women of the tribe. They gossiped about skills and good genetics as the keystones to marriage while he played the role of romantic. Every year was different. Sometimes he argued for preserving their culture while they safeguarded the right to happiness. This year he defended love matches while they argued for choosing with the head instead of the heart. The conversation dropped as he spotted the face he had hoped to see. ”Valeska,” He called to her with a short raise of his hand. Voice strong over the soft conversations around them but not quite a yell.

”We’ll think more on it,” He said to the old woman, who were quiet in that smirking way of old women that saw more into an instant than they should. ”let them enjoy the flirting for now.” Leaving them to their sideways glances and snickering he waded around clusters of families and friends. Mind turning from one task to the next. They had survived bad marriage pacts before. Why worry before the vows were made? Besides, the tribe meet was good for more than spouse finding. Many came to trade, or learn. Things he assumed a woman with several dependents would be interested in. More interested than she would be in marriage proposals, anyway. As a chief he knew the rites and tricks to getting the best deals. And if he was careful in offering her that advice, he might convince her to stay long enough to accept a different sort of proposal too. ”Enjoying yourself yet?” He asked as their paths finally converged. 


Valeska Spearfang

    Summer-sky to Green
  • hearthwitch
  • Played By:

    Glacia Kaeleer
    7 Posts    0 marks
Re: Mountain Shadows
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2019, 10:59:10 PM »
For hours Valeska's rage and disgust and desire warred within her. A mess, tumultuous, she stalked from the water to her home, snarling and flashing black eyes at anyone who got too close, mind whirling over the request - the order - that weighed down her chest.

On the one hand, the forever-memory of her brother's scent, cold flesh trapped in the snow. His body, too light in her arms as she'd carried him home. Her mother's tears.

On the other, every dance and song and story, every breath of tradition. Of a laws that hadn't changed despite the shifting tides and waning moons, of a unity of people that Val was still part of, tenuous as it was.

The consequences for her actions could be monumentous. Traitor. War-bringer. Because that would be what she was, if she failed in any way. Bring a wrath of people down upon a group that she held allegiance to by kinship, if not by blood. But what was stronger, then? If it got out who - or what - she was, it could be a stain on all of them. There would be consequences, repercussions, that would ripple beyond her.

Ivanhoe's empty eyes haunted her thoughts as much as the taste of her own conflict.

I will try. If there is an opportunity.

The ghost of her mother hung over her, sad eyes and phantom frowns. Already guilt ate at her. There was something so wrong about the idea. Val was no stranger to death, either by tooth or by hand, but.


If there's opportunity, take it.

Valeska packed, left but several of her nets and her bows and her traps, and spent the night before her trek in the water. Alone, in the sea, surrounded by the cold dark void, she pretended she was once again alone. Some things were so much easier, before.

She'd forgotten the noise of a group who were happy. Darkness, she wasn't used to this many people in general, never mind the sheer volume of sound they made. She'd packed for comfort and made her way slowly, and still she came upon them as they congregated, and for a while she lost herself in something she hadn't known as an adult. Stilted, her tent pitched alone and a little away from others, it was a kind handed neighbor who guided her in making paints, another in how to weave her family's tokens into her hair, withdrawn from the depths of her cabinet with care.

Her steps were stilted. The dances hurt in a way that her mind shied from. She ate silently at a different neighbor's fire, smile thin and uncertain, and turned in early. When sleep failed to take her, framed by the softness of her mother's frown, she listened to them sing long into the night.

The following morning was little better. She rose stiff, washing herself of any lingering paint, but her hands wouldn't obey her to par her hair back down to its simplicity. The weave remained, and her calloused fingers lingered over a length of leather and beads she could just faintly remember her mother putting together, smiling. Not a strong enough memory to keep in the wood, but a feeling. An ache, beside her heart.

Crisp air greeted her, and she banished the thought from her mind. She had a tent to look for, a sign of her target, and it would be... good, to mingle. To build bridges, perhaps, and lessen some of the weight of her position at home, of her guilt here.

She circled the hunters and their wares, engaging in conversation more about knives and fish hooks and spear shafts, evading those that asked after her people. Let them imagine, with their speculative eyes and dismissive minds, their kind hearts, why Valeska appeared alone. No outright lies, just misdirection. She had practice at building the shadow of a distant people even before Syral and that ox hunt. She was good at this, she reminded herself. There was nothing she could not do that she set her mind to. Look how long she had survived.

Hadn't she?

His voice came to her over the susurrus, caught wandering between people, spiraling in her mind. She watched him approach in clipped moments, far in one, in front of her the next. His question passed through her, caught blinking up at him while it registered. "Yes," she said at last, looking away, past the crowd, toward something not full of people she didn't know how to interact with. "There are more people than I remember." From what little she could remember. It could have been larger when she was a child, and she wouldn't know. There seemed to be no memories in her mind, locked away by the humming anxiety the crowd inspired and her refusal to contemplate her mission in the light. "And yourself?" Let him talk, and pull her mind elsewhere.

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