Title: Bring Me That Horizon
Ailmaer Alfvaldson - March 18, 2011 11:08 PM (GMT)
Ailmaer hated the ocean. Hated the rushing sound, the cloying smell, the unsteady feeling of a deck shifting beneath his feet, something he'd never been able to get accustomed to or gain balance on. He hated sailing, hated ships, and yet he was still occasionally drawn down to the seaside, even to the docks, to smell and to hear and to see - it was more sentimental than he was used to, but he was fully accustomed to needing no reason to do the things he did. He'd remember Valeria sometimes, remember the uncertainty of sailing aboard the Marie Elena, but more often he'd find himself staring off from the harbor into the distant horizon, remembering the Frostbacks and his home there, when life had seemed much simpler. It wasn't a melancholy thing, not really - more a way to pass the time than anything.
He'd done his remembering for the day, however, and had long lost interest in the harsh tang of sea salt on the nor'easter and the grumbled murmurings of dockhands and laborers wondering just what in the name of Andraste's flaming knickers he was doing there, and would he get out of their bloody way, please? And so he did, absently brushing at the front of his leather jerkin as he rose to his full, almost startling height, scratching at his grizzled cheek as eyes like molten gold swept the docks, wooden planks riddled with rot squealing beneath his weight. Rough, burly men with sacks and crates over shoulder stumbled out of his way as he strode down the pier, muttering bitterly in his wake, and a pair of elven children peeked curiously from behind a slat of barrels just unloaded from a mooring galleon, but no one directly addressed him, as he was well used to by this point.
He could smell the black sulfurous odor of the abandoned Qunari compound through the stench of flotsam and wet dog, hear the commotion of Kirkwall's seedier taverns even so early in the evening. The ringing of the harbor bell, the groaning of decks - strangely comforting when compared to the feral clatter of the wilderness he retreated into at night, reminiscent of the ruckus of the Clan back in yonder days - he was absent of the impulse to leave just yet, and so he proceeded to do what he did best these days; wander. He slouched along the outskirts of the masses, ducking into alleys when he could, for he still despised crowds even now, drawing awed glances and disdainful sneers as he passed - purposeless, roving, unsure of what exactly he was searching for.
"Nh." He grunted as some passing figure clipped his elbow, barely catching a clever hand brushing his hip, grazing the thick hide pouch strapped there. Brazen, to attempt such a thing, but the mousy red-headed man was clearly not so quick as he liked to believe - Ailmaer's monstrous hand shot out and gripped a scrawny wrist, squeezing until he heard a satisfying snap!, spindly fingers relinquishing a handful of herbs and weeds they had clearly been hoping would be coin. The would-be pickpocket howled in pain, wriggling away with a shout as the great bear of a man released his vise-like grip. The Avvar stared into the crowd after him with a raised brow, a stoic frown creasing his rough-edged face. Foolish and confusing, the lot of them. Honestly.
stygium - March 19, 2011 02:30 AM (GMT)
Somehow, the sea always had a relaxing effect on Dubhan. The soft in and out of the tide, lapping against boats and leaving that lovely scent in the air... If only the bloody shems would piss off. Dubhan sighed, and looked over the crowd, searching for something interesting. It didn't look like his tea was going to be coming in from the Imperium today, which was sad. He'd really hoped it would make it before the landsmeet, to capitalize on any elven servants who came with the Banns. "Ah well. Cannae be helped now, I s'pose." He dropped from the wall he'd been perched on, and turned towards the path to lowtown.
Almost instantly, he was knocked aside by a shemlen cradling his wrist, dashing toward one of the darktown entrances nearby no doubt, and running away from a man the size of the barely remembered Halla from Dubhan's youth. Interesting.
Dubhan kept back for a little bit, keeping an eye on the massive stranger. he had little doubt that the man could sense him there. Anyone who could catch a dock-pocket would have no trouble sensing an inconspicuous (hardy-bloody har) ex-dalish in clompy boots. So, he did what anyone in his situation would do. Went on the offensive.
He sidled up until he was keeping time with the shem's massive strides, looked up at him, and said int he most innocent voice he could muster,
'You're bloody tall for a Shemlen aren't ye?" He scratched a cheek idly. "You've probably just given an apostate food t'eat tonight Friend. Well done on that."
Ailmaer Alfvaldson - March 19, 2011 04:38 AM (GMT)
Absently shaking his head, Ailmaer turned about, scratching at the back of his neck through the white wolfskin cloak draped over his shoulders - he noticed he was being given a considerably wider berth now, those nearest the incident skittering away or eying him warily from a distance, those newly arriving from down the street noticing this and doing the same, just to be safe. He found himself gladdened by the fact that he was not in one of the better-to-do districts, where the guards would surely have been sizing him up by now, wondering whether or not it was worth trying to kick him out - he much preferred to solve problems pragmatically (read: occasionally violently), and the 'law's insistence on constant pacifism never ceased to vex him.
He been walking scarcely another minute when a prickling on the back of his neck alerted him to the fact that he was being followed, sharp hearing immediately attuning itself just behind him, where a deliberate set of footsteps could be picked out from between the general shuffle of the crowd - light, too wide to be female, so likely a slender man. Another pickpocket? Not after that display, no, and the pacing was too relaxed for someone intent on accosting him. No threat, then.
"You're bloody tall for a Shemlen, aren't ye?" Ah, an elf. Ailmaer glanced down at the man inscrutably, head cocked a fraction off its axis as he obligingly slowed his stride enough for the other to keep up comfortably - it wasn't often anyone dared to speak to him, for good or ill, and it was interesting enough of a phenomenon to merit his attention. As for the question itself, Ailmaer refrained from pointing out that he could often say the exact opposite of the locals. He was accustomed to 'shemlen' being as big, if not bigger than he himself, and he could far more easily label Kirkwallers as short than Avvari as tall.
"So others have said." He responded as he deftly refastened the flap on his herb pouch, looking the young man up and down with that earnest, unblinking stare. The tattoos and accent marked him as one of the wild elves, the confident set of the shoulders differentiating him from a servant or laborer - perhaps worth a moment, then. "It was not intended." That word, 'apostate' - another bit of this society he would never truly understand. He had come to know long enough ago that magic was reviled here, but he couldn't for the life of him understand why; he knew only that the Guardian he could feel thrumming within him even now was not welcome here, and must stay hidden away. Frustrating.
"What is it you want?" Direct as ever, perhaps painfully so.
stygium - March 20, 2011 01:08 AM (GMT)
"I have no doubt of that, friend. You look like you could wrestle down a bereskarn." He smiled, and continued keeping pace with the stranger on the busy street deftly avoiding the sea of people steering clear of his massive companion. He looked the man over, taking in the massive expanse of cragged, rocky skin, painted more than most Dalish keepers...
'Even if unintended friend, it's always nice to see a good man able to ply his hated trade." He scratched his head for a moment before continuing. "You don't sound like you're a Marcher. For one thing, you didn't threaten to rip sensitive parts of my body off for associating with apostates... Nor did you assume I was an apostate as well, and beg for assistance. Tah for that, by the way. It's not often I can get a word in edgewise, as an elf."
"What do I want? Goodness, do you know, I didn't think that far ahead..." He rubbed his chin, beardless, as most elvhen were. "I suppose... Well, I suppose I wouldn't turn down a cup of tea. You're welcome to join me stranger, take in the sights of our fair city. I know a nice wee teashop just up the Alienage. Care to join me?"
Ailmaer Alfvaldson - March 20, 2011 07:43 AM (GMT)
Ailmaer's lip quirked up a fraction as the elf nattered on, golden eyes slightly narrowed in amusement, a rather shocking contrast to his usual implacability; it wasn't that his people were particularly stoic, mind, however similar their philosophies might be to the Qunari - as a matter of fact they were what one might consider abrasively expressive, but they didn't put nearly as much stock in facial expression as outsiders invariably did. His unflagging stare seemed to be unnerving to most, and he had learned early on that friendly shoulder slaps and back thumps (to which he had been thoroughly accustomed) were more liable to break bones than lend camaraderie, not to mention his grasp of common Fereldan was stilted and blunt at best - all that said, he was often left at something of a loss as a conversationalist. It was strangely relieving to find one content to carry on the better part of the conversation.
"You get plenty, I think." The deep rumbling in his chest sounded more like a growl than a chuckle, but the mirth in it was apparent all the same. "And I am not. I am Avvar. I do not fear druids. Your apostates, that is." It had occurred to him even before the elf made his invitation that this might be some sort of con - he was not so fluent in this tongue that idiom, irony and guile did not often fly over his head - but nevertheless he found himself intrigued. The man had not even asked his name, which he had learned was customary, and he was asking him to what he knew vaguely to be some sort of drink. Admittedly, he had interacted seldom with the wild elves - perhaps they did things differently. It wasn't as if he had plans, was it?
"Yes." He answered simply, inclining his head to indicate the elf (whose name he had yet to learn) should lead. It was only when he allowed his companion to overtake him slightly that the man's scent hit him properly - he smelled of the city, naturally, but also quite strongly of some sort of herb. It was a familiar smell, one he had picked up on the streets from time to time, but he had yet to place a name to it. He wanted to ask, but another of his early lessons in civility was that commenting on a person's smell was apparently improper. Particularly females of wealth - he had been slapped quite handily across the face for that, once. Confounding, truly.
stygium - March 22, 2011 01:08 AM (GMT)
Dubhan smiled as the giant revealed his homeland. "Really? Goodness me, I don't believe I've ever met an Avvar before! Oh, but where are my manners." He bowed his head slightly. "I'm Shem. Shem Dalarian. Andaran Atish'an, friend." He continued as he lifted his head once more. "I'm glad apostates don't fill you with fear friend. You'll meet a lot around here, even if the Chantry doesnae like to talk about it."
He took the lead as the man fell behind a little, indicating he should lead. "It's just up here, in the alienage. Don't worry, the crime's way down since the Rose took over Lowtown, and noone'd be stupid enough to try and mug a man wearing a wolf." Dubhan enjoyed moving slightly ahead of the man. Truth be told, he didn't smell right. Almost like some of the more... Militant apostates he'd met over the years, almost... Sulfurous. Then again, maybe Dubhan was crazy. Stranger things had happened. Whatever the case, he opened the small herb pouch on his shirt's front, and withdrew some embrium, sprinkling it on his path. "Creators bless this place." he muttered softly, before taking a few turns that led to the alienage.
He led the way past the dilapidated buildings and the Vhenadahl to a small storefront, with the words 'Tranquili-Tea' emblazoned on a large wooden sign. He opened the door, revealing an interior with only a bar and a few tables. "Come in my friend! Welcome to Tranquili-tea!"
Ailmaer Alfvaldson - March 22, 2011 05:35 AM (GMT)
The elf really was rather wordy, wasn't he? Ailmaer had to concentrate to keep up with his quickfire speech, occasionally losing track of his meaning, though he could catch the gist easily enough - he had been away from the Frostbacks for going on seven years now after all, and as hermit-like as he tended to be, he'd had time to get an acceptable handhold on the language.
"Tivan kvedja. I am Ailmaer, son of Alfvald." He introduced himself in turn, merely nodding in response to the man's comment on the issue of apostates - the Guardian could feel magic everywhere here, could feel how thin the Veil was, and their shared mind often felt the tingle of other Fade-beings' presence. That druids-mages, rather, would flock here was hardly surprising. He had little worry about the 'crime' Shem spoke of, in fact could hardly understand how these 'criminals' could be faulted for many of their actions - if any were to attack him he would respond in kind, as was only natural; it was hardly anything personal. Survival, nothing more.
He was lead to a ramshackle building heralded by a wooden sign inscribed with curving black letters - useless to him of course, as he could scarcely speak the language, let alone read it, but Shem seemed good enough to tell him its purpose without prompting, and it took Ailmaer several long moments of pondering to realize the irony of the name. He was not familiar with puns outside his own language, but he could get a solid enough grasp of it to realize that it was a rather painful one, if amusing. He led out a resounding bark of laughter, eyes narrowing in mirth.
"This is your place." He commented as the realization came to him, the same herb scent the elf radiated wafting seemingly out of the walls. He had been advertising, then; attempting to draw customers. Why he had chosen him, Ailmaer could not fathom - it seemed to be the general assumption of all he met that he had no money, and oftentimes they were right. In the mountains you traded useful items, bartered - currency held no weight there, and he rarely felt the need for it. He wondered if he should tell Shem this.
stygium - March 22, 2011 09:53 PM (GMT)
"Yes, it is mine, for my sins. Goodness only knows how I manage to keep her open, I mean, not many around here come in for business. A lot of charity." He entered the shop and started dusting down. "By the Dread Wolf, someday I'll clean this place up before I open, I swear." He grabbed a cloth and wiped at a small area of the teabar, leaving an island of bare wood in a sea of dust.
He stood behind the bar, in his little kitchen, and opened his stove. "Here let me just light this..." Under the guise of grabbing a match, he reached into the fade, pulling fire from the heart of it. A small flame appeared in his hand, and he dropped it into the tinder. It caught quickly, and he set about finding kettle and cups, tea leaves and other sundries.
"So friend, shall I pick the tea? We have a few fine brews... Here, this should bring back some memories. The fellow I bought these leaves from assured me they came from the best plants in the frostbacks. I haven't tried them yet, but, well. Why not break them out, eh?" He set the water to boiling, and turned back to his guest.
"So, Ailmaer. May I call you Ailmaer? Or is that disrespectful.... Sorry, I have a tendency to ramble. But I digress, what brings you to the city of chains friend?"
Ailmaer Alfvaldson - March 24, 2011 04:00 AM (GMT)
Ailmaer nodded - he knew this word. It was the word gifted to sjalfsainn, to give freely of oneself, and one of the few 'civilized' concepts he found easy to understand; when one existed within a tribe they were just a small part of the greater whole, and to give without thought to receive went without saying, as the benefit always came back around. He had noticed that the tame elves living beneath the great tree had something of a pack mentality, if he could deign to call anything outside the wild such - nice to know some things remained sacrosanct.
"Dread Wolf..." He murmured as he seated himself where indicated, the stool groaning insistently beneath his weight. This wasn't an invocation he heard often, though it occasionally slipped the lips of the tame elves with painted faces - he had come to understand that many viewed the wolf as an evil creature, not to be trusted, even to be hunted. This he could not fathom. Wolves were proud, noble beasts, the pinnacle of survival and a model for every Avvari child, strength, speed, cunning and loyalty at their finest. They were due the highest respect, and he could not help but bristle at the curse, the Guardian flaring in his chest with a rumbling growl, one he silenced before it passed his teeth. It was the taming of this ire (uncharacteristic), that caused him to miss the lack of a rasping match-strike before the fire flickered to life.
Had he been an animal, his ears might have pricked with interest when Shem began to shuffle through tea leaves. The heat of the boiling water began to permeate the air, still uncomfortable despite the fact that he hadn't lived in an arctic climate for nearly a decade, and he reached up to push back the wolfskin hood, revealing a short-cropped mane of scruffy brown hair, shot through liberally with gray at the temples. He sniffed as the elf walked by with the leaves, closing his eyes as he caught the scent - he knew it, in fact had a small amount of it in his herb pouch at that very moment. Rodinn Fljot, a plant chewed into a pulp and mixed with salt, then pushed into a gash to prevent infection, or burned and inhaled to settle the stomach. How was it to be made into a drink?
"It is my name." He confirmed with a tilt of the head. He had seen the chains, climbed them once - this seemed a more sensible name name than 'Kirkwall'. He felt he preferred it. "The fjallbarnen. Mountain children. I could not stay. I followed the winds." He shrugged, biting idly at a thick, dirty thumbnail with jagged teeth. "The trees are welcome, but you are strange. I come to see. To learn." He cocked his head at Shem. "You are a wild elf. What brings you?"
stygium - March 25, 2011 03:44 AM (GMT)
Dubhan smiled as he prepared the tea for the pot. It was an odd leaf, to be sure, one he wasn't familiar with, but that didn't mean the gentleman who'd imported it didn't know what he was doing. He casually placed the leaves in his teapot, specially designed with a small mesh cage to prevent leaves from entering the cups. It worked very well, usually, and he calmly poured the boiled water into the pot.
He heard Ailmaer mutter something about the dread wolf. "Aye, one of the first gods. The only one who still walks amongst us, in fact." He smiled. "He may not take kindly to anyone wearing his brothers' pelts." He laughed. "But I've no doubt you've earned the right, Avvar warrior you seem to be."
"To learn, eh? Well, you've certainly picked up the lannguage well Ailmaer. Though the wild elves do prefer Dalish." He laughed, and looked into the teapot. The water looked well steeped, a nice, clear brown. He took the liquid and poured it into two cups he produced from a belt pocket. It smelled alright, and he hoped it stirred a few memories of Ailmaer's home. "I'm far less wild than most dalish though. Been here in the alienage most of my life, saving money to buy up this little patch of heaven." He smiled, reinforcing his bald faced lie, told so many times he could almost believe it himself, were it not for the corpses hidden in his memories.
He raised his cup. "A toast perhaps, friend? To your learning, and your adventure." He smiled and sipped the tea.
It was horrible. Bitter, watered down and generally terrible. He coughed and lowered his cup. "Andraste's flaming bra! If that's tea, I'm a Dwarven paragon!"
Ailmaer Alfvaldson - March 28, 2011 03:07 AM (GMT)
Ailmaer had become familiar with the fact that the various peoples of the world worshiped different deities, even fought wars with those that did not believe as they did, but he was still slightly befuddled by the sheer number of gods and religions he had come to know existed. The Avvars had virtually no interest in conversion, and thus Ailmaer himself cared little to think of these other divines, but it was a part of the very learning he had claimed to seek, and he was fascinated enough to hold onto this new snippet of information.
"It was taken fairly." He said of the pelt as he watched Shem bustle to and fro. "The death is honored." Certainly not like many of the 'nobles' he had seen in Hightown, sporting fox scarves and mink stoles simply for the sake of being seen. Not that he spent an overt amount of time there, mind - the folk there seemed far less apt to tolerate his presence than those about the docks. "Dalish." He nodded, glad that his speech came across so at last - he remembered well his first bemusing days in Jader, fresh out of the Frostbacks and without a clue what these strange people were trying to say to him. He'd become so frustrated at one point that he had killed a man, and then two more in the chaos and rebuke that ensued; needless to say, his current state of fluency was considerable progress.
"It is in your eyes yet." He said as he accepted the cup, noting not for the first time that everything here was far smaller and more fragile than he would have liked, from the doorways to the people. He stared stone-facedly at Shem, noting a subtle strangeness in the way he had answered the question, with somewhat less sincerity than the elf had portrayed so far - it was merely an observation, noted and dismissed in disinterest as the conversation continued. "Aldregi skjorta." He imitated Shem in raising the cup, windburned lips quirking good-naturedly as he tasted the aromatic drink.
It was not particularly agreeable.
"I would not know." His mouth twisted in a frown as he stared at the bitter draught, brows drawing together bluntly. It tasted similar to the ceremonial herb water used by the Avvar to calm the nerves, though heated - he wondered why the elves would ingest such a thing for enjoyment. Cocking his head to the side, Ailmaer sniffed it again, noting the discrepancy between the pleasant smell and decidedly unpleasant, bitter flavor. "This is good?" He raised an eyebrow, stare questioning. Another civil curiosity, no doubt.