Lay of Solaria

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Lay of Solaria

Post by Jagtai » Wed Jul 27, 2016 1:38 pm

Centuries ago, the Emperors of the Solarian Empire sought to rid their lands of magical creatures, out of fear and hatred. They succeeded. Elves, dwarves, halflings and other magical creatures are now considered legends, tales told to children.

They are not. Their kind persist, hidden away in the deep, dark corners of the land, licking their wounds and nurturing their hatred of Men. Meanwhile, the Empire has grown oppressive, using fear and brutality to keep those in line, who would restore friendship with those magical creatures who persist. But ancient ties of blood is about to change everything...


Carrovan
10 years ago


Kara was walking in the woods as she was wont to do. She often walked into the forest, even though her father had expressly forbidden it. She didn't care. She felt at home in the forest. Despite its reputation, she never felt threatened.

The Forest of Glamours, it was called. Said to be home to evil, magical creatures bent on killing all Men.

Not that Kara had ever seen one. She had seen many animals, but never evil magical creatures. She smiled at the thought.

Leaves rustled nearby. As she turned, she saw it. A boar. It snorted. Blood dripped from a wound in its side.

Kara could feel the lumb developing in her throat. A wounded boar was a deadly foe for any hunter; and Kara was no hunter, just an eight-year-old girl.

She did the only thing she could. She ran. The boar snorted and charged after her. Kara ran as fast as she could, ducking under branches and crashing through undergrowth. Still she could feel the boar gaining.

A vine caught her foot. She fell. Then the boar came crashing out of the undergrowth. Kara screamed.

The boar charged, only to be thrown off its feet by the impact of a black arrow, fired with tremendous force. It tried to get up, only to have another arrow slam into it at great speed and power. Another arrow ended its life.

Kara feinted.

* * * * *

"Where's Kara?"

Lord Tywin looked up at his wife, Merowa.

"How would I know? That girl only does what she wants."

Merowa glanced at him.

"You spoil her. She's probably on one of her forest walks again."

Tywin shook his head.

"Hardly. I told her specifically..."

Merowa raised an eyebrow.

"You said it yourself - she only does what she wants."

Tywin considered it for a moment. Then he hastily rose, and grabbed his sword and bow.

"Damn it..."

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Re: Lay of Solaria

Post by Jagtai » Wed Jul 27, 2016 8:48 pm

Kara stirred. Something smelled delicious, and her stomach growled. She opened her eyes.

She was propped up against a fallen tree trunk, the remains of a tree felled by lightning some time ago. A campfire was roaring at her feet, close her enough to give warmth, but far enough away so as to not burn them. A large roast was arranged on a spit across the fire, being slowly turned by a young woman.

Kara studied her. She looked no older than twenty, but she carried herself with the confidence of someone twice that age. Her long black hair was braided so as to not get in the way when she moved, flecks of green and gold seemingly intertwined in the braid. But what struck Kara the most, was her eyes. They were green as the first leaves in spring, but they were not the eyes of a young woman. As the women looked at her, Kara realized that this woman was far older than she looked.

The woman smiled. It was a friendly smile, to be sure, but Kara noticed that it didn't quite reach her eyes. Kara returned the smile. "Where am I?" she asked.

"The Forest of Glamours, in the Glade of Golathir." The voice was strangely melodic, but Kara thought she could hear a hint of reluctance, as if the woman had preferred not to speak.

"Golathir?" Kara had never heard of the place or the man. "Who was he?" The woman didn't reply. Kara decided to try another question. "Who are you?"

The green eyes seemed to look into her very soul for a moment. "Morwen."

Kara smiled. "I'm Kara." The green eyes studied her again, and Kara felt compelled to expand upon it. "Well, Carawen actually. But everyone calls me Kara."

Morwen suddenly seemed more interested. "Carawen. That's not a normal name in these parts."

"It's an ancestral name," Kara replied. "My great-great-grandmother was also called Carawen."

"I see." Morwen looked at the roast, slowly turning on the spit. "I once knew a Carawen, a child of House Mineth."

Kara was confused. "That can't be," she said. "The last Carawen in my family was my great-great-grandmother, who died 20 years ago."

Morwen looked at her again. "She is dead?" Kara nodded. Morwen looked at the roast again. "I did not know that. I am sorry."

Kara had the feeling that Morwen was not apologizing to her, and said nothing. They sat in silence for a while. Finally, the roast was done. Morwen withdrew a blade and cut several pieces of the roast. These she placed on two wooden plates she had prepared in advance. She handed one plate to Kara and took the other for herself. Kara dug in immediately.

While she ate, Kara studied Morwen. Her movements were slow and deliberate, one bite at a time. Every move was graceful, even her chewing. Kara found herself fascinated with this strange woman.

"Do I fascinate you, Carawen?" Kara hadn't realized that she had been so obvious in her staring. She forced herself to look away.

"I'm sorry."

"Don't be." Kara looked up to find Morwen smiling again. This time, it reached her eyes. "You are not the first to find my people fascinating."

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Re: Lay of Solaria

Post by Jagtai » Wed Jul 27, 2016 11:09 pm

"Have you found her tracks?" Tywin looked at his guide with apprehension. The Lord of Carrovan rarely entered the forest, and so he had asked his gamekeeper, Aenhart, to help him.

Aenhart looked up. "I have, milord. It's this way."

The two men walked for what seemed like hours, Aenhart stopping now and then to check the trail. Suddenly he stopped. Tywin watched him search the ground. "What is it?"

"I have her tracks. There was a boar here." He walked a few feet. "She ran here, followed by the boar." He touched the ground. "It was wounded. We must hurry."

The pair began to run, following the destruction. Suddenly Aenhart stopped dead in his tracks. Tywin looked at him. "Well, come on!"

Aenhart shook his head. "We can't." Tywin stared at him, anger and fear tying his stomach in a knot.

"Why not?!" Aenhart pointed at a mark carved into a tree.

"They forbid it."

Tywin examined the mark. "They?"

"The denizens of the forest. We are forbidden from entering."

Tywin was about to yell at Aenhart, when he noticed that the man had grown pale. He was afraid of something. He took a deep breath. "Who are these denizens?"

Aenhart shrugged. "I don't know what they are, but they protect the forest. I have been warned off before. If we enter, we may never leave."

Tywin tried to suppress the anguish he felt. "But Kara..."

Aenhart tried to force a smile. "Is probably fine. They watch the glades here. If she has been spotted, they would not leave her to die." He sounded more certain than he felt.

Tywin looked beyond the trees. "What do we do now, then."

"We camp and we wait. If they do have her, they will likely lead her back here. Eventually."

* * * * *

"Morwen?" Kara had finished eating.

"Yes?" Morwen was sharpening her blade, a long curved sword in an unfamiliar shape. It was single-edged and had a marked forward curve. The handle was exquisite, covered with gold and encrusted with emeralds.

"What is to happen to me?" Kara feared the answer. Though Morwen had treated her well so far, she was still not certain of her intentions. Her apprehension was considerably lessened when Morwen looked up. The smile once again reached her eyes.

"Nothing. In the morning, I will lead you back to familiar trails."

Kara smiled. "Thank you, Morwen." Morwen resumed sharpening her blade. Her answer came shortly after.

"You are welcome, Carawen of House Mineth."

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Re: Lay of Solaria

Post by Jagtai » Thu Jul 28, 2016 11:30 pm

Kara woke at daybreak. A plate with fruit was placed next to her. On the other side of the campfire, Morwen was setting black feathers on a black arrow. Kara sat op and began to eat. As she did, she studied Morwen. She now noticed several things she has missed the day before.

Morwen´s eyes were almond-shaped and slightly slanted, and her pupils were almost catlike. Her ears were shaped differently than Kara´s, slim and somewhat elongated. Her features were soft but her almost grim demeanor made them seem harder. Kara caught herself wondering what had happened to make Morwen so dour.

She started when Morwen looked up. Her spring green eyes had turned dark, almost black. Kara blinked, only to find that Morwen´s eyes were back to their natural colour. Morwen rose.

"Come. It is time." She fastened her blade to her belt, picked up her bow and quiver, and began walking. Kara followed.

They walked for some time, before Morwen stopped. She turned to Kara and pointed to a trail, barely visible in the undergrowth.

"Follow that."

"Where does it go?" Kara felt apprehensive again. She still remembered the boar.

Morwen smiled. "Home."

Kara looked at the trail. When she turned her head again, she found herself alone. Morwen was gone. With a sigh and no small amount of apprehension, she turned and followed the trail...

* * * * *

Tywin had woken a few minutes earlier. He had kept watch the first half of the night, after which Aenhart took over. Now, they were waiting, eating their cold fare and preparing for a long wait.

Suddenly, something rustled in the bushes. Both men readied their bows. A small figure emerged from behind a tree. Tywin dropped his bow and ran to meet Kara, who breathed a sigh of relief when she saw her father.

Tywin held his daughter for a full minute, before letting go. "Are you hurt, Kara?"

Kara shook her head. "No, Morwen saved me."

"Morwen?"

Kara was about to reply, when she was interrupted by Aenhart.

"Milord, look!"

Tywin and Kara both followed his gaze. A lone figure stood among the trees, half-hidden. Kara raised a hand, the figure doing the same in reply. Then it vanished.

Tywin looked at his daughter. "Who was that?"

"Morwen," she said matter-of-factly.

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Re: Lay of Solaria

Post by Jagtai » Mon Aug 15, 2016 1:08 pm

Carrovan
Present day


A dust cloud betrayed the approach of the riders. One of the guards alerted Lord Tywin, and when they rode into the courtyard, he was waiting for them on the steps of the manor.

Ruwen Mineth, eldest son of Lord Tywin, jumped off his horse, handed the reigns to his valet, and approached his father. Tywin smiled to his son.

"What news from the capital?" Ruwen did not return the smile.
"The Emperor wishes to ensure the nobility of his steadfastness against the enemies of this land." Tywin sighed.
"Another crusade?"
"Indeed." Tywin nodded.
"Wash off the travelling dust and come eat. We will talk later." Ruwen nodded.
"Thank you, father."

Ruwen passed his father and entered the manor. As he ascended the stairs, he could barely hide a smile when he saw Kara waiting at the top of the stairs. She returned the smile.

"Good trip?" Ruwen reached her and swept her up in his arms. They both laughed. "Tell me everything." Ruwen let go of his little sister, a frown on his face.
"Not good news, I'm afraid."
"What do you mean?" Ruwen shook his head.
"Later."

* * * * *

After Ruwen had greeted his family, and they had shared dinner, he and Tywin withdrew to the Lord's chambers. After closing the door, Tywin turned to his son.
"Who are the target of this new crusade?"
"Everyone."
"How so?"
"The Emperor is resolved to root out traitors and heretics among the nobility." Tywin looked puzzled.
"Traitors?" Ruwen nodded.
"Yes. All those with even a smidgeon of Inhuman blood is to be rooted out and destroyed."
"An inquisition, then. Who is to lead it?" Ruwen hesitated. He had dreaded this moment since he had left the capital. He took a deep breath.
"That's the problem. He has appointed Lord Ealdhelm of Kilgill as Imperial Investigator."

Tywin felt his legs grow weak under him. He stumbled to his chair and sat down heavily. He and Ealdhelm had been enemies since their youth. The inquisitions were based on personal rivalry more than anything - whoever was appointed Imperial Investigator had free hands to eliminate his rivals.

When he spoke, his voice was barely audible.

"This could very well mean the end of House Mineth."

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Re: Lay of Solaria

Post by Jagtai » Mon Aug 15, 2016 1:41 pm

Umyl Dorei
Ten years ago


A large pyre was assembled on the outskirts of the city. No body lay on the pyre; instead an empty shroud lay where the body would normally be. This was a common rite, when no body could be recovered.

Only a handful of people were gathered at the pyre. One of them, a man dressed in a white robe, stepped forward.

"We hereby return your soul, if not your body, to the Earth Mother. May you walk among us again, Carawen, Daughter of Chasianna."

He nodded and Morwen stepped forward, a lit torch in her hand. She lit the pyre, when quickly lit up, fuelled by the oils rubbed into the wood before the pyre was built. As the flames increased in strength, she whispered:

"May you walk among us again, melda sell."

She turned before anyone saw the tear on her cheek.

Umyl Dorei
Present day


She stalked into the hidden city like a panther. Most who saw her avoided her, as she made her way through the city.

Morwen - Morlhinn or Blackarrow, they called her - was different from most other inhabitants of Umyl Dorei. She wore dark green, almost black, garbs and were always armed with blade and bow. Yet no-one doubted her loyalty or sincerity. Morwen Morlhinn was an ardent defender of Umyl Dorei.

She walked up the stairs to the palace, the guards not challenging her as she did so. They knew her well. She weaved through the brightly garbed nobles and came before the throne, where she knelt before her lord.

Prince Elidyr smiled as he saw her. He rose and motioned for her to follow him. They entered an adjacent room, where Elidyr closed the door and turned to Morwen. He grabbed her lower arm, a warriors greeting which she returned.

"What news, dear sister?"
"The Human Emperor has declared another Inquisition."
"Who are the targets?"
"My informants say that House Mineth is at the top of the list." Elidyr let go of Morwen's arm in surprise. Morwen continued. "What do you want to do?" Elidyr considered it for a moment. Then he answered.
"We need more information." Morwen's eyes turned black, a clear sign of anger. A sign Elidyr knew well. He loved his sister, but she could be rash. "No, Morwen. If we reveal our existence, we would not only endanger House Mineth, but perhaps even Umyl Dorei."
"We cannot stand by and do nothing." Morwen's voice was low, but the steel in it was clearly evident. Elidyr found himself wishing she had never been exposed to the world of Men. But, he thought sadly, it was too late for regrets. He took her hand.
"We will not. Go to them, but do not reveal your true self."
"So I have your blessing?"
"Yes. But do not act in anger, unless no other actions are available." Morwen nodded. She bowed and left the room, leaving Elidyr wondering if he had made the right decision...

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Re: Lay of Solaria

Post by Jagtai » Mon Aug 15, 2016 10:58 pm

Carrovan
Present day


Kara stared at her father and brother, trying to take it all in. She wasn't the only one. Around her, her family - her mother, her other siblings, her uncles and aunts and cousins - looked as stunned as she did. Finally, the Lady Merowa - Kara's mother - spoke up:

"What implications does this have for us?" Tywin decided that honesty was the best approach.
"At best, we will be exiled, forced to leave our lands. At worst..." he hesitated for a moment, "...we will be condemned as heretics and traitors; in which case the choice is exile - or the stake." Merowa nodded.
"So, exile is inevitable?" Ruwen interjected.
"Not necessarily. Our family is seen as ardent supporters of the throne. There are rumours that the Emperor will demand proof of our Inhuman blood. If he does..." He was interrupted by Lady Kethrylla, the eldest in the family, and grandmother of Tywin.
"...it will mean nothing." Everyone turned to look at her. Most looked surprised, but Tywin and his mother, Lady Leena, did not. Kethrylla continued. "Don't look so surprised. It is common knowledge that the members of our House live long - in general longer that most others. I myself is a great-grandmother, yet at the tender age of eighty-seven, I am as healthy as a forty-year-old. Even if this has nothing to do with us having Inhuman ancestors, Lord Ealdhelm will use it as proof. Another piece of evidence will be our close proximity to the Forest of Glamours, a suspected stronghold of Inhumans. The fact that none of us have met an Inhuman in the forest is irrelevant: the proximity will be evidence enough for the Emperor." The room was silent for a moment, then exploded in noise when everyone tried to speak their mind. Tywin raised a hand, and silence slowly fell.
"I do not doubt that you are right, Grand Mother. I take it that you advocate voluntary exile." Kethrylla shook her head.
"I advocate caution. Caution and a backup plan. If the worst happens, we need to have an escape route prepared." No-one replied. Everyone knew that the only escape route would be through the forest - a prospect everyone dreaded. Finally, Tywin spoke.
"Let us turn in. We will meet again tomorrow. Perhaps a good nights sleep will bring new hope." Everyone did as he asked, but as they made their way to their various chambers, hushed voices spoke in fear of the coming days...

* * * * *

It was late. The moon had risen. Everyone but the sentries slept. Except Kara. Unable to sleep, she had donned her hunting garb and left the castle. She found her thoughts clearer, when she was in the forest; almost as if it spoke to her.

She was so consumed in her own thoughts, that she only noticed the hooded figure when the moonlight fell upon it. Her hand flew to the sword by her side.
"Do not worry, Carawen. I come in peace." The melodic voice was hushed, but seemed familiar. The figure pulled back its hood, and Kara's heart skipped a beat...

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Re: Lay of Solaria

Post by Jagtai » Mon Aug 15, 2016 11:28 pm

"Morwen." It was not a question; though it had been ten years since their meeting, she had never forgotten the strange woman. But she looked different, standing in the moonlight. It took a moment for her realize that Morwen´s eyes and ears had changed. Her pupils were round rather than slit and her ears were no longer elongated. But, she considered, perhaps her memories served her wrong. "What are you doing here?"
"I was passing through, and needed a place to stay for a few days. Do you think your family will receive me?" Kara nodded.
"Of course. Come."

The pair made their way back to the keep in silence. The sentries looked suspiciously at Morwen, but as she was with Kara, they did not challenge her. The pair entered the manor and went to the chambers of Lord Tywin, where Kara gently knocked. A few moments later, Tywin - still dressed in his evening robes - opened the door.
"Kara? What is it?"
"I need to talk to you, father. Alone." Tywin nodded.
"Come." He stepped into the hallway, gently closing the door behind him and turned to Kara. Only then did he notice the tall, black-haired women beside her. "Who is..." Kara interrupted.
"In a moment. Please trust me, father." Tywin nodded and lead the women to his business chambers. After making sure that the door was locked, he turned to Kara and Morwen.
"Kara?" Kara motioned towards Morwen.
"Father, this woman seeks our hospitality. She needs a place to stay for a few days." Tywin shook his head.
"This is not a good time..." Again, Kara interrupted him. Tywin was about to become annoyed with her. Then he understood her words.
"Father, this is Morwen."
"Morwen?" He suddenly recognized the name. He looked intently at the woman beside his daughter. "You are the one who saved my daughter´s life ten years ago?" Morwen nodded almost imperceptibly.
"I was merely at the right place at the right time, milord." Tywin stepped forward and grabbed her hand.
"I owe you a debt that can never be repaid, milady." He composed himself and let go of her hand. "You are welcome to stay as our honoured guest for as long as we are able to have you."
If Morwen had not known the truth, she would have been surprised by his words. Instead she gently bowed her head. "You honour me, milord."
Tywin looked to Kara. "Kara, please have a room prepared for our guest." Kara nodded and left. Tywin looked at Morwen and motioned to a chair. "Please, milady."

Morwen removed her blade and bow and sat. The chair was soft and surprisingly comfortable. Tywin sat down opposite her and studied her.
"You are not from around here?" Morwen hid a smile. He had no idea.
"No, milord. I am from beyond the mountains."
"How did you get here?" Morwen shrugged.
"I passed through the forest." Tywin looked surprised, and Morwen smiled. "I know the rumours as well, but I did not see anyone as I traversed the forest. It seems to be only that - rumours." Tywin did not reply immediately - he still remembered the fear with which Aenhart, his gamekeeper, had refused to enter a certain part of the forest.
"Perhaps. Or perhaps you were lucky." Morwen shrugged.
"Perhaps."

Though she looked calm, Morwen´s mind was racing. It did not help that her emotions was raging as well. If only they knew...

Just then, Kara returned with word that the room was ready. Tywin rose, and Morwen followed his example.
"I hope you will sleep well, and that we will see you at breakfast, milady." Morwen bowed her head.
"I would be honoured, milord."

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Re: Lay of Solaria

Post by Jagtai » Mon Aug 15, 2016 11:47 pm

After Kara had showed her to her room, she left Morwen to sleep. Morwen was not tired - her people did not need sleep like Men did - so she waited until she was certain that Kara was gone. Then she hid her blade and bow, retaining only her hunting dagger, and slipped into the hallway beyond.

She walked through the hallways, careful to avoid the few sentries patrolling the manor, and slipped into one of the galleries. Here, she looked at the paintings on the walls. Now and then, she stopped to further study a painting, before moving on the next. She was almost at the end of the gallery, when the door nearest to her opened. The two women - Morwen and Kethrylla - stared at each other for what seemed like minutes before either spoke. Kethrylla was the first to recover.

"Morwen?" Morwen gently took her hand. Unexpectedly, her eyes were filled with devotion.
"Kethrylla, melda sell. It has been too long." Kethrylla smiled. Someone twisted the handle on the door at the far end. Kethrylla looked at Morwen.
"Come." The two left the gallery before the sentry saw them, and entered the hallway beyond, before entering a large suite. Kethrylla closed and locked the door, and then turned to Morwen again. It was obvious that she was overwhelmed with emotion. Morwen smiled and squeezed her hand.
"Lost for words, melda sell? That does not seem like the Kethrylla I knew." Kethrylla smiled. Tears was running down her cheeks.
"I did not expect to see you again in this life." Morwen's voice was full of regret when she answered.
"No, I tend to forget how short your lives are. I..." her voice trembled now, "...I did not return in time to see your mother one last time." Now it was Kethrylla who squeezed Morwen´s hand.
"She knew that you thought of her. She had no regrets." Morwen voice was almost inaudible when she spoke.
"I do."

Kethrylla put her arms around Morwen, and the tall black-haired woman hid her face on her shoulder and allowed the tears to flow.

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Re: Lay of Solaria

Post by Jagtai » Tue Aug 16, 2016 11:05 pm

Morwen stayed with Kethrylla for the better part of the night, talking. Kethrylla did most of the talking, telling Morwen of her life since their last meeting, Morwen only interjecting now and then with questions. By the time the sun rose, Morwen had memorized the names and descriptions of everyone in the manor. Finally, Kethrylla rose.

"It will soon be time for breakfast. You should go get ready." Morwen smiled.
"You do not think my current attire is appropriate?" Kethrylla returned the smile.
"A hunting garb? You are among nobles now, amal. You must dress appropriately." Morwen´s smile widened. She was impressed that Kethrylla remembered the honorific.
"You are right, melda sell. But I brought nothing with me." Kethrylla smiled knowingly.
"Don't worry, I will have a dress sent to your room." Morwen nodded. She leaned in and kissed Kethrylla gently on the left cheek, and then left the room.

* * * * *

Most of House Mineth had already assembled in the dining hall, when the herald raised his voice. "The Lady Morwen." Everyone turned their heads, and several hearts skipped a beat. Morwen had exchanged her hunting garb with a forest-green dress whose colour matched her eyes. Her black hair was braided and ran down across her left shoulder and onto her chest, flecks of gold shining within the braid. The result was stunning. Even Tywin had to draw in his breath before he could act. Then he rose.

"Milady. Have you slept well?" Morwen smiled and bowed her head.
"Very well, milord." Tywin motioned to the chair on his left side.
"We have saved a place for you."
"You are too kind, milord."
"Not at all." One of the valets pulled the chair back to allow Morwen to sit, and then pushed it back to fit her as she sat. Tywin looked around. "May I introduce the lady Morwen, the saviour of my dear Kara." Morwen bowed her head.
"I was merely at the right place at the right time."

The servants brought food and the rest of the meal continued much as normal, though everyone shot stolen glances at the beautiful woman next to Lord Tywin - even his wife, the lady Merowa. After the meal ended, Tywin and his sons offered Morwen a place in their hunting party. Morwen politely declined, claiming weariness after a long journey. Though visibly disappointed, the men accepted her apology and rode out. Morwen quickly changed back into her hunting garb - she had never been comfortable in dresses - and went in search of Kara.

* * * * *

Kara was standing by the window in her room, when someone knocked on the door. Without turning, she replied: "Enter." Morwen appeared by her side, dressed in her hunting garb again. Kara smiled to her.
"You clean up nicely." Morwen returned the smile.
"Thank you, Kara." She looked out the window at the forest below. "I was wondering if you would give me a tour of the castle?" Kara nodded.
"Of course."

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Re: Lay of Solaria

Post by Jagtai » Wed Aug 17, 2016 3:27 am

Kara and Morwen spent most of the day touring the keep. They visited the towers, the main manor, toured the galleries; they even visited the dungeon. But as she showed Morwen around, she had the sneaking suspicion that Morwen had been there before. She feigned interest, but Kara had been around enough nobles to know when a person was genuinely interested, and when she was just putting on a show of interest.
Even so, she enjoyed herself, and Morwen seemed entertained as well, despite the lack of interest.

At lunch, they ate in the kitchen with the servants - something Kara had always liked to do, despite countless reprimands from her mother. The servants seemed even more fazed by Morwen than Kara´s family had been, but they soon warmed up to her. Kara was less surprised than expected, when she realized that Morwen was much more at ease with the help than among the nobility.
As they left the kitchen after lunch, she decided to mention it:
"I noticed that you seemed more comfortable with the servants than you did this morning." Morwen shrugged.
"I find that servants care less about your clothes and your status, and more about you as a person." Kara stopped to look at her.
"You don't like nobles?" Morwen shook her head.
"In my experience, most of them are pompous and believe themselves better than those lower on the social ladder." She noticed Kara´s expression and smiled disarmingly. "Not all nobles, of course. Your family seems rather grounded for nobility." Kara forced a smile.
"Well, we can't help being born into nobility." Morwen sighed.
"No, sadly we cannot." She turned and continued up the stairs. As Kara followed, she couldn't help wondering if Morwen was more than just some wandering hunter.

She didn't get an opportunity to ask her, as the hunting party returned shortly after. They had downed a stag and several rabbits. Kara was rounded up by her brothers, and as they led her away to brag about their bravery during the hunt, she saw Tywin pull Morwen aside.

* * * * *

Tywin had spent most of the hunt thinking about Morwen. There was something about the woman that intrigued him. He had eventually decided to speak with her, to try and learn more about her. Thus decided, he pulled her aside as soon as he could.

"Lady Morwen, a word." Morwen smiled and followed him into the manor. She had a feeling what he might have to say. Tywin led her to his business chambers, and closed the door behind them. He offered her a chair and sat down in another.

"Lady Morwen, you are quite the mystery." Morwen smiled.
"Oh. How so, milord?"
"You say you are from beyond the mountains, yet you have no hint of their accent. You claim that you have never visited before, but you wander our halls with intent. You claim you were merely at the right place at the right time, but my game keeper fears the forest - a forest you have no problem entering. What am I to make of this?" Morwen shrugged.
"Make of it what you will." Tywin felt the anger growing in him.
"Lady Morwen, I must see to the safety of my family first. I cannot have strangers running about my castle at night." Morwen considered his words. Then she nodded.
"I understand, milord. If you wish me to leave..."
"No." Tywin realized that his reply had left his mouth before his mind caught up. He tried again. "I mean, there is no reason for you to leave. I merely wish to know more about you." Morwen smiled.
"Very well. I am from an isolated community, where we speak a different language. I have no accent, because I rarely speak your tongue." Tywin nodded in understanding. Morwen continued. "I often wander the forest. Perhaps whoever your gamekeeper fears has decided to allow me passage."

Tywin smiled. It made a certain sense. Then he remembered something.

"And the fact that you seem to know your way around?" Morwen smiled mysteriously as she answered:
"I never said I had never been here before." She smiled at his surprise. "You merely assumed that I had not."

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Re: Lay of Solaria

Post by Jagtai » Wed Aug 17, 2016 11:02 am

It took almost a minute before Tywin overcame his initial surprise at Morwen´s words. But just as he was about to reply, there was a knock on the door. Tywin looked at the door, then at Morwen, then back at the door. Then he sighed.

"Enter." One of the guards entered.
"Milord, several riders are approaching. Possibly a messenger."
"How long before they get here?"
"No more than an hour." Tywin nodded.
"Summon the council." He looked at Morwen. "We will have to continue this conversation later, milady." Morwen rose and bowed, the mysterious smile still lingering on her lips.
"As you please, milord." She walked past the guard, who stepped aside to let her pass, and disappeared from view. Tywin looked at the guard.
"What are you standing here for. Go." The guard saluted his lord.
"Yes, milord."

* * * * *

When the riders arrived, Tywin and his sons was waiting for them. It was indeed an Imperial Herald. He dismounted his horse and bowed before Tywin.

"Milord. His Imperial Majesty summons you to court to answer accusations of treason." He held out a scroll. Tywin took it. His voice was calm when he answered.
"You have done your duty, Herald." The Herald bowed again, remounted and rode away. When he was out of earshot, Ruwen looked at his father.
"What now?" Tywin broke the seal on the scroll and read.
"I am summoned to answer accusations of treason in three days time."
"Three days?!" Ruwen was visibly upset. Tywin smiled reassuringly at his son.
"It takes only two days to reach the capital. I leave tonight."
"I'm going with you, father." Tywin shook his head.
"No, Ruwen. If I am found guilty, you will need to take our family to safety." Ruwen stared at him.
"But...what about you?" Tywin smiled, trying to sound brave.
"I will stall them. Begin to make preparations for your departure, in case the worst happens." Ruwen looked like he was about to object. "Ruwen, my mind is set. Please do what I ask of you." Ruwen nodded, resigned. Tywin turned and walked up the stairs. He had to tell his wife...

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Re: Lay of Solaria

Post by Jagtai » Wed Aug 17, 2016 11:26 am

Tywin was in his chambers, packing what he needed for the trip to the capital. He had spoken with Merowa, and though she was horrified at the prospect of potentially losing her husband, she had taken it well. She was now working with her family, making preparations for the departure of House Mineth.

The door creaked. “Tywin.” Tywin smiled at the sound of his grandmother´s voice.
“Grand Mother.” He did not turn. “Come to give me the final words of wisdom?”
“Yes.” Tywin heard the seriousness in her voice and turned.
“Are you alright?” Kethrylla shook her head.
“No. But I will be.” Tywin was baffled with her seriousness. She was always serious, certainly, but he had never seen her this...upset.
“What can I do to help?” Kethrylla stepped closer and locked eyes with him. Tywin began to feel apprehensive about all of this.
“Take Morwen with you.” Tywin snorted.
“Morwen?! I don't know her, and I'm not sure I trust her.” Kethrylla took his hand and squeezed, like she had done when he was a child and she wanted him to listen.
“This isn't up for debate, Tywin. There's no-one you can trust more than Morwen. Besides, her skills may come in handy.”

Tywin was about to object, when he saw her eyes. They were dark now, almost black. There was no arguing with her when she was like that. He sighed.

“If that is your final wish, I will take Morwen with me. If she is willing.” A light melodic voice answered him from the doorway.
“She is.” Morwen had entered the room, dressed in her dark green hunting garb. She wore a longbow over the shoulder, and a strange sword at her side. A quiver with black arrows was strapped to a bandolier across the chest, and a greyish cloak covered her left shoulder. Tywin looked at Kethrylla again.
“Very well. We ride in an hour.” Morwen nodded.
“I will be ready.”

* * * * *

Kara watched her father and Morwen ride across the courtyard and out through the gate. She could feel a lump growing in her throat.

"Will we ever see him again?" Kethrylla, standing beside her, nodded.
"Nothing will happen to him." Kara looked at her.
"How do you know?" Kethrylla smiled.
"I know Morwen. She will never let any harm come to him." Kara was confused. She had no idea that her great-grandmother knew Morwen.
"How do you know her?" Kethrylla shrugged.
"I have been a child too, Kara," she said enigmatically...

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Re: Lay of Solaria

Post by Jagtai » Thu Aug 25, 2016 12:18 pm

Tywin and Morwen rode in silence for several hours. Each had brought two horses in order to make good time on their journey.

Now and then, Tywin cast a glimpse at the tall, dark-haired woman in the dark green garb riding beside him. She did not speak or looked at him. Instead, her eyes were darting from side to side, watching for threats ahead. He still didn't quite trust her, but it was too late to turn back now.

When they made camp, it was almost midnight. They camped in a small copse, and ate their cold fare in silence. Tywin was the first to speak.

"I'll take first watch." Morwen shook her head.
"You need to sleep. I will stand guard." Tywin nodded; he was tired.
"Very well. Wake me when it is my turn." Morwen simply nodded. Tywin lay down his saddle as a pillow, rolled onto his side, and was soon sound asleep.

* * * * *

Tywin woke at the break of dawn, the smell of frying eggs reaching his nostrils. He opened his eyes; a small frying pan was placed above a small fire, a pair of eggs frying on it. A small wooden plate of fresh berries stood beside the saddle.

He sat up and looked around. Morwen was gone. With a shrug, he removed the pan from the fire, and gently slipped the eggs onto another wooden plate. He was chewing happily, when Morwen sat down opposite him. He started, almost dropping the plate.

"How'd you...?" Morwen simply smiled. "Where were you?"
"Scouting." Tywin found her curtness annoying.
"Anything dangerous?" Morwen shrugged.
"Not anymore." Tywin considered asking what she meant, but decided that he didn't want to know.

They broke camp an hour later. As Tywin led on, Morwen looked back. Then she followed Tywin.

* * * * *

Godwulf was a simple farmer. But this morning, he was out hunting for rabbits.

Commoners hunting for rabbits was generally considered a capital offence, but the good Lord Tywin allowed it, as long as one didn't take too much. He was a good sort, that Lord Tywin, Godwulf thought.

He had tracked the rabbit to a copse near the main road. He knew the copse well, because a lot of rabbits had their holes in there. He gently moved inwards, so he didn't alert the rabbits. Then his senses directed him into a small glade.

Something black was sticking out from under a bush. Godwulf cautiously approached, bow in hand. It was a boot.

"Strange," Godwulf mumbled to himself, "strange place indeed to be laying about." He crept around the bush - and then he saw it.

Two men was propped against a tree. Both were sitting up, both were clad in travelling clothes - and both had a long black shaft sticking out of their chests.

Godwulf turned and ran. He had heard enough to stories to avoid dead people - especially ones with arrows in them...

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Re: Lay of Solaria

Post by Jagtai » Sat Sep 03, 2016 12:54 pm

Desimere

The journey was uneventful, and Tywin and Morwen reached the capital around sunset on the second day. Tywin led the way through the streets, Morwen riding beside him. She was studying the buildings. Tywin smiled.

"Magnificent, isn't it?" A few seconds passed, before Morwen answered:
"I suppose so." She couldn't help comparing it to Umyl Dorei. On its own, Desimere was indeed a beautiful sights; but next to the wonders of her home, it paled considerably. Tywin raised an eyebrow.
"You 'suppose'?! This is Desimere; the capital of the Empire, one of the oldest cities in this part of the world. Few places compare to this!" Morwen nodded absently. She missed Umyl Dorei and quite frankly found Desimere filthy, crowded and smelly.

They finally arrived at a small mansion. Handing Morwen the reins, Tywin strode up the stairs and knocked twice on the door. A moment later, a voice came from within:

"What is it? I've told you, Lord Tywin isn't here." Tywin grinned.
"He is now, Alwyn." The door slid open ever so slightly. An little man peered out. He was short and thin, and obviously nearing the end of his life. The sour look on his face was replaced with a smile, when he recognized Tywin.
"Milord!" He opened the door all the way. "Do come in." He turned his head and yelled. "Daewan! Get up, you little runt! You're needed at the stables!" Morwen had to suppress a start - it was incredible, she thought, that such a voice could be contained within so tiny a man.

A young boy, no more than twelve, appeared in the door. He ran past Tywin and down the stairs, only to grind to a halt when he found himself opposite a tall, beautiful woman with long dark hair. She was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. He stood there, staring, for several seconds. Then Alwyn yelled at him again, and he managed to tear his eyes away and take the reins. Morwen handed them to him with a smile. Then she strode up the stairs to Tywin.

The old butler led them both to the dining hall, yelling different names. By the time they had been seated, he had managed to wake up the cook and both maids.

After a cold but hearty meal, they both turned in for the night.

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Re: Lay of Solaria

Post by Jagtai » Mon Dec 26, 2016 1:26 pm

When Tywin woke the next day, he found Morwen standing by a window, looking at the hustle and bustle of the streets below.

"May I ask why you came?" Morwen shrugged.
"The Lady Kethrylla asked me to accompany you."
"Why?"
"To keep you safe."

Tywin scuffed.

"If the Emperor condemns me, there is little you can do." Morwen turned her head to look at him. Her eyes were dark, almost black.
"I can do far more than any of you realize."

For a moment, Tywin felt a shiver run down his spine. He suddenly had a feeling that Morwen was far more dangerous than she seemed.

"I implore you, don't do anything to endanger yourself. If I am condemned, I would rather that you return to help my family escape."
"I will. And so will you."

Tywin considered arguing the point with her, but thought better of it. Instead, he turned and went downstairs to get something to eat, leaving Morwen looking out of the window.

* * * * *

By noon, he bid Alwyn and his staff goodbye and headed towards the Imperial Palace. Morwen insisted on following him to the gates. As they reached it, Tywin turned to his companion.

"I want to thank you for the company. You are welcome to stay at my mansion as long as you can."
"Thank you, milord. I will see you soon."

Tywin nodded, though he doubted he would see her again.

"I hope so. Goodbye, Morwen."
"So long, Tywin."

* * * * *

Tywin stood in front of the tribunal. On a dais behind the tribunal sat the Emperor in an ornate throne.

Lord Kilgill, the Imperial Investigator, rose and read from a scroll:

"Lord Tywin Mineth, you stand accused of treason. How do you respond?" Tywin did not flinch.
"I am innocent."
"Innocent? This Tribunal has found evidence to the contrary."
"Then the Imperial Investigator should present the evidence, so that I may refute it."

Lord Kilgill looked back at the Emperor, who nodded. Then he looked at Tywin again.

"Very well. Lord Tywin, do you deny that your family is known to be long-lived?" Tywin shook his head.
"No, the Gods have blessed my family in that way."
"The Gods? Or the Inhumans?"
"I know no Inhumans, milord, so I must assume it is the work of the Gods."

The audience smiled. Kilgill continued.

"Do you deny that your family have lived next to the Forest of Glamours, a notorious holdout of the Inhumans?"
"Holdout? I have seen no Inhumans there."
"But do you deny having lived there?"
"I do not."

Kilgill smiled. Tywin silently cursed him.

"Your Imperial Majesty, Lord Tywin does not deny the charges of long life and proximity to Inhumans. There can be no doubt as to his treason."

Emperor Gordan IX rose.

"It would seem that way. Do with him as you please, Lord Kilgill."

Kilgill smiled as he announced his judgement.

"From this day forward, House Mineth is cast from this land, to return upon pain of death. Lord Tywin will burn in the morning. Take him away!"

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Re: Lay of Solaria

Post by Jagtai » Mon Dec 26, 2016 1:56 pm

Tywin looked out of the window between the bars. The sun had set an hour ago, and the cell was dark save the light from a burning torch set on the wall outside the cell.

He has feared that it would end as it had. Hopefully, his family would escape in time; hopefully, Morwen was already riding home to help them.

* * * * *

The guard at the gate looked out into the darkness. He heard a scraping side a few feet away, and grabbed his spear, peering into the darkness.

"Who's there?" He took a few steps forward. A grey shadow slipped behind him, moving soundlessly through the gate and into the courtyard.

* * * * *

One of the dungeon guards appeared in front of the cell, hammering a tin cup against the bars.

"Another Lord to burn. You'd think you folks was made of wood; you burn so well." He laughed at his own joke. Tywin did not reply. "Come on, Lord Tywin. Might as well talk to me. I may the last man you'll ever talk to." He laughed again. Tywin did not turn. The guard yelled out.

"Cobern, come look at this one. He won't even talk to me." There was no reply. "Cobern."

"Cobern is indisposed at the moment." The voice was low and melodic and dripped with anger. The guard started to turn. Then his legs gave way under him, as something smashed his head against the bars, knocking him out cold.

Tywin turned to find Morwen looking at him. She was dressed in her usual hunting garb, except that a grey hooded cloak now covered her head and shoulders. It seemed to shimmer, making her image blur before his eyes. Then she spoke.

"Come. We must hurry."

As Tywin watched, she unlocked the cell door.

"What are you doing here?"
"I am getting you out of here." She threw a piece of cloth to him. "Now, come."

* * * * *

Tywin followed Morwen out of the dungeon. He had put on the clothing she had tossed him - hooded cloak similar to one she wore herself - and ran behind her. He noticed that she did not make a sound as she moved.

Now and then, they came across an unconscious guard. Morwen had made short work of the guards on her way to the dungeon, it seemed. They finally entered the courtyard and followed the wall towards the gate. As they reached it, Morwen motioned to Tywin to wait, then slipped around the corner. A moment later, she appeared and motioned for him to follow. As he turned the corner, he found the gate empty - there was no sign of the usual guard.

Once past the gate, Morwen led him to a pair of horses. They mounted the horses and rode towards the city gates. Finally, Tywin dared to speak.

"I am impressed."
"Good."
"How do you propose that we get out of the city?"
"It has been taken care of."

As they turned the corner, they found the city gate ajar. Five horses and riders were waiting for them. Tywin recognized Alwyn and his staff. Alwyn smiled as they reached them.

"Milord. Lady Morwen told us to go here and wait for you."
"What of the guards?" Alwyn shrugged.
"There were no guards when we arrived, milord." Tywin glanced at Morwen.
"I see."

The seven riders rode through the gate and began their journey back to Castle Mineth. As they rode, Tywin looked at Morwen again.

"They will come for us." Morwen´s voice was cold, when she replied.
"Let them come."

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Re: Lay of Solaria

Post by Jagtai » Thu Dec 29, 2016 2:58 pm

"How could this happen?!"

Lord Kilgill had just been woken up by the castle Bailiff and was now pacing his office in the Palace.

"How could he be allowed to escape?!" Kilgill stopped and looked at the Bailiff. "Well? Answer me, man!"

The Bailiff shook his head.

"I do not know, milord. Someone managed to sneak into the castle and incapacitate the guards, free Lord Mineth, and sneak out again, without anyone noticing him."

Kilgill stepped up to him.

"You incompetent fool! You should have hired better guards!"
"The guards all came from the Imperial Guard, milord. There are no better guards."
"Excuses will get you nowhere, Bailiff. Leave me!"

As the Bailiff hurried out, Lord Kilgill turned to his Lieutenant, Togul.

"Togul, gather your men. I want Tywin back here by tomorrow morning - alive if possible, dead if necessary." Togul nodded.
"Yes, milord."

* * * * *

The group had halted in a small copse for a short while to rest. While the others rested, Morwen had turned back. Now she rode into the copse.

"We are being pursued." Tywin rose from the tree he had been resting against.
"Do you know who it is?"
"They carry the crest of a green boar." Tywin nodded.
"Kilgill's men. I knew he would not give up so easily. How far away are they?"
"An hour or so. They are pushing their horses."
"An hour?!" Tywin looked concerned. "They will catch up with us soon, then."
"No. I will delay them. Ride as fast as you can, and I will join you later."

Tywin saw the look in her eyes. There was no arguing with her. He nodded, and ordered Alwyn and his staff back onto their horses. As they rode off, Tywin looked back, to find no sign of Morwen or her steed.

* * * * *

The scout looked up at Togul.

"We are less than an hour behind them. They are riding fast, but only one of them is an experienced rider." Togul nodded.
"Good. Then we will soon catch them." He noticed that the scout did not remount immediately. "What is it?"
"One of them have left the party. Only six horses ride in front of us. But I do not see when this happened."
"Lord Tywin?"
"No, I do not believe so."
"Then no matter. Tywin is the target. The rest is irrelevant."

The scout nodded and turned to remount. He was halfway onto his horse, when he stopped in midair, grabbed for his back, and fell. A black arrow protruded from his back. Togul dismounted.

"Ambush!"

Another of his men fell, a black arrow piercing his throat. The rest of the men followed Togul's example, and dismounted, hiding behind their horses, but to no avail. Another man fell, his leg pierced by an arrow. As he hit the ground, another arrow penetrated his chest, killing him.

"We must find shelter!" Togul turned and ran for the nearby ditch, followed by his men. By the time the last man dove into the relative safety of the ditch, another two lay dead on the road. The horses, scared but unharmed, scattered.

By the time Togul and his men gathered the courage to leave the ditch, both the shooter and their horses were far away.

* * * * *

Tywin heard the sound of hooves behind him and drew his sword, turning his horse. He was greeted by Morwen galloping up to him, slowing as she reached him.

"Did you delay them?"
"They have been delayed. We should have enough time to reach the Forest now."

The statement was accompanied by a grim smile. Tywin noticed that less than half of the black arrows in Morwen's quiver remained...

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Re: Lay of Solaria

Post by Jagtai » Fri Jul 14, 2017 12:27 pm

Carrovan

Tywin and his companions were greeted by the entire family. as they rode into the courtyard of Castle Mineth. Ruwen took the reins of Tywin's horse, as he dismounted.

"What happened, father?" Tywin put his hands on the shoulders of his son.
"The Emperor has condemned us. House Mineth has been exiled." Ruwen looked surprised.
"And they let you go?" Tywin shook his head.
"No, I was to be burned at the stake for treason." He shot a glance at Morwen, who was speaking quietly with Kethrylla. "Morwen had a different opinion." Ruwen followed his glance.
"She helped you escape?"
"And stopped our pursuers; though I have no doubt that they will arrive soon, and in greater numbers." Ruwen nodded.
"Then we leave?"
"We have no choice...although, I am sure where to go. For now, we shall gather in council."

* * * * *

"So, now you know the events as they transpired."

Tywin had finished telling his family of his trip to Desimere. Everyone was looking at Morwen, who was sitting in a chair, seemingly oblivious to the attention. Ruwen spoke:

"How did you manage to infiltrate the castle, free my father, and leave Desimere without notice?" Morwen looked up and shrugged.
"My people are skilled scouts. Moving unseen is no great feat."
"Your people?" Ruwen obviously wanted to know more, but Morwen just nodded.
"Yes."

Ruwen was about to reply, when Tywin interjected:
"No matter. Lady Morwen, do you know how to get through the forest?"
"I do."
"Will you help us, then?"

A look of uncertainty appeared on Morwen's face, but was gone before most noticed it.

"I would, but my help is not mine to give." Tywin cocked an eyebrow.
"I don't understand?"
"No, you do not." She rose. "I will help you leave this place; you are not safe here. But beyond that, I cannot say yet."

Despite being pressed for further information, Morwen would speak no more of it that night. Instead, she told them to prepare to leave at dawn's first light.

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Re: Lay of Solaria

Post by Jagtai » Fri Jul 14, 2017 12:59 pm

Forest of Glamours

At dawn, Morwen had led House Mineth, and those of their servants who had chosen to stay, into the forest. She had taken them as far as the Glade of Golathir. As the last wagon entered the glade, she turned to Tywin.

"My lord, I have to leave for a short while." Tywin looked alarmed.
"Isn't this part of the forest forbidden territory?"
"Ordinarily, yes. But you will be quite safe, I assure you."

She whistled, a long, low tone. The whistle was replied in kind from behind her. Moments later, a young man appeared from beyond the glade. He too wore a dark-green hunting garb and carried a bow and a blade. Unlike Morwen, however, he wore a hooded cloak, that seemed to blur his image.

Morwen turned to him and spoke, but the words were utterly alien to Tywin:

"A star shines on the hour of our meeting, Golathir."
"Indeed, Morwen. Is there trouble?"
"The Mineth need shelter. May they rest here?"
"For how long?"
"Not long."
"Then I shall shelter them."
"Le fael, mellon."

She turned to Tywin and motioned towards the hooded man.

"My lord, this is Golathir, the keeper of the glade." Tywin held out his hand. Golathir relucantly took and nodded.
"Welcome, Lord Tywin. At Morwen's request, you may shelter here." Tywin nodded.
"You have our gratitude, my lord." Golathir let go of Tywin's hand and shook his head.
"Golathir will be sufficient. I am no lord."

Morwen interjected.
"My lord, I must go. I will see you soon." With that, she disappeared into the forest.

* * * * *

Most of House Mineth avoided Golathir, who had positioned himself against a tree overlooking the glade. Not Kara, though. When she had heard his name, her curiosity began fighting her common sense. As usual, her curiosity won.

She sat down next to Golathir, a plate of freshly roasted meat in her hand. She handed it to him.

"You must be hungry." Golathir shook his head.
"Not really." Nonetheless, he took the plate, and took a bite of the meat.
"So, this is your glade.
"Yes."

He was curt, but Kara refused to give up just yet.

"You know, this is where I first met Morwen. I thought it was named for some long dead general or some such." Golathir didn't reply. Kara continued. "You must have guarded for a long time to have it named after you."
"I have."
"Isn't that boring." She realized how it sounded, and hurriedly added: "I mean, after a while."
"No." Golathir looked up. "There is always something going on here. A new tree sprouting, a deer grazing - I have even seen a young girl stumble into it once."

Kara looked at him, and thought she saw a smile in the corner of his mouth.

"You were there?!" He shrugged.
"It is my glade, after all."
"But...I never saw you." He smiled, a real smile this time.
"Morwen was here. There was no reason for me to reveal my presence."
"I suppose not."

They sat there for the rest of the evening, chatting now and then but mostly just sitting. Kara felt more at home here, in the forest, with the strange Glade Keeper, than she had ever done in Castle Mineth...

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