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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY
Hrafnhildr

Let's have some fun (attn : Masan)

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"Hey now." Masan scolded, dismounting. "You don't get to play brigand and them swooning damsel. That's not how the bloody rules work, Soldier." He scoffed, helping her to sit properly so she didn't topple, in spite of the harsh tone to his word. 

 

"Alright, so that apology sounded sincere enough. But being hungry and tired still isn't a good enough reason to rob someone Little Miss. We were doing honest work right up until you clobbered me. Why wasn't it okay to share the room?" At this he snorted loudly in some form of ridiculous laugh. "It's not like you'd be in any bloody danger from me. I won't claim to not be a lecher. But little girls just aren't to my liking." He snickered, giving her a pat on the head. "Not that any woman has ever been to my liking." He added, mostly to himself as he stepped back.

 

"The apology is good and I consider your paddling the punishment you're going to be getting for being a back stabber. But I feel like the explanation is lacking. Look. If you're in trouble all you have to do is just say so. I'm not the most honorable man in the world. Light knows it. But I'm no villain either. I've made mistakes because everyone does, but it's how we take responsibility for them that makes us honorable or dishonorable. I may still be persuaded to let you stay in my room, given that you convince as to why I should? Oh but you have definitely lost the bed. Bed-roll for you. But it's still better than sleeping under a bush." He smiled a little at his own humor. He'd try to be understanding and kind. He'd try to be the bigger person. But light, he was still mad and a young soldier has to learn their lessons. He couldn't set her to digging pointless latrines like his grandfather used to make him do 'to build his character.'  

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The word "soldier" made her strengthen her back.

 

'I am not a damsel!" she protested with a too low voice.

 

Somehow, her heart started to bounce when she heard that Masan was satisfied with her apology. She felt so happy that she almost forgave him for calling her "little miss" once again.

 

'Why wasn't it okay to share the room?" the Arafellin asked.

 

Fang opened her mouth to answer then closed it. How can I tell him that I never thought about sharing? She wondered, feeling her cheeks burning.

 

She waited patiently for her companion to be done talking as she didn't want to interrupt him. Also, she needed time to rearrange her thoughts.

 

She had never told her story to anyone. Since she had left Tear, she had only talked to a couple of people. Most of the time it had been to order food, or when looking for a job. She had made no friends. And what should I try to make one? I won't be staying anywhere... No one can know who I am...

 

To be on her own had not been easy. She had felt lonely at times but for her it was better to be safe than sorry.

 

However, Masan had proven that he really cared about her situation. Even if he had said that he was not the most honorable man in the world, he had offered help. Maybe she could trust him a little ?

 

The Arafellin didn't seem to know about her real identity nor about her father. He would not make so much efforts to try to pull the truth from her.

 

"I am on the run," she started, tears gathering in her eyes.

 

"My father is looking for me... he wants me to marry one his business partners. An old disgusting trolloc... and I don't want that."

 

She took a deep breath.

 

"Now, he's powerful enough to have sent his goons to look for me... I am not a daughter for him, I am a flaming tool. And I don't want to be used by him anymore."

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As Fang told her story, her eyes starting to shine with tears, Masan felt his chest tighten slightly. Wow. That really was bloody awful. No one should be made to marry someone they didn't want to. 

 

"You're a noble lady then?" He asked, rubbing a small circle on her back. He'd found this to be soothing to his mother when his grandfather had passed. That had been hard on Masan too but his grandfather had made sure to prepare him for it. His mother couldn't really emotionally steel herself to lose her father the way grandfather had pressured Masan into it. But light, she had to be a noble lady then. Poor people were almost never pressured into marrying someone they didn't like. Frankly there was no pressure to marry at all if you didn't want to. Masan's own family had long ago accepted that he wouldn't be taking any brides. His brothers had even joked that it would be unfair to some poor girl to tie herself down with some rascal like Masan. The only people he knew of who married for reasons other than that they wanted to... or that they'd made a child together and now had to be... were the nobles. They married children off to get land and agreements and allies and all sorts of nonsense. If that was the kind of trouble she was trying to get away from Masan couldn't blame her. He'd be ready to bite the heads off nails if someone told him he had to get married!

 

"I'm sorry I said I'd take you to your parents. I didn't know the situation. I'd thought you were just a mischievous kid who needed to be sorted out. No one's going to make you go back, least of all me if I can help it." He said, trying to be comforting. "I can't stick around here long though. I'm looking to sign up with the Dragon Reborn's army. They say he took the stone of Tear, so Tarmon Gai'don must be around the corner. I want to lend my sword to the Last Battle if I can." He said. "If you want to stick with me until I find a proper way to get recruited than you're free to."

 

After a minute he took on a look of concentration, he pulled a lock of her hair up to inspect it, oddly enough comparing it to the end of one of his braids. He muttered to himself something for a few seconds before he suddenly jumped to his feet and ran over to Boko, rifling through one of his saddle bags. "I was planning on selling these if I had to once I got further south. Maybe in the city of Tear itself where I could find a proper silver smith. But I think we can put them to a little use before we get there." He said, grinning at his own genius. "Now. I'm only LENDING these to you. I'll need them back should I need to pawn them. I got these on my naming day a while back but I'm too fond of the ones I'm wearing." He explained, holding up a pair of Arafellin silver bells, the sort that dangled from the ends of their braids. These seemed relatively new and hardly worn, odd seeing as Masan's pair were horribly mismatched. The set on his left were tarnished and of a different style than the ones on his right, as though they were from two different sets and of different ages. The pair he had in his hand, however, were a matching set and obviously belonged together.

 

"Hold still for a minute." He grinned, using his fingers to comb her hair and part it down the middle. He braided the two parted sections, slightly differently than how he braided his own hair. The braid started higher up on her scalp and came down the side of her head. This was different from his own where he had the hair pulled directly behind his ears and twisted tightly starting there. The bells he'd produced were threaded on a thin leather cord that he used to snugly tie off the end of each braid. Giving her an opportunity to examine them he returned with a rough linen handkerchief and his water skin. He dampened the cloth and made sure to clean her face a little better than it had been as well as cleaning up his own bloodied nose. 

 

"There." He grinned like the cat that got the canary. "The clothes are wrong. Of course. But you look like you could have grown up in the Borderlands. You're a little tanner than I am but it's hardly any consequence. When we get back I'm going to thank Neril profusely for sending my little sister, who followed me all the way from Arafel because she thought she could convince me to take her hunting for the Horn of Valere, to find me in the stables so she could help me with his bandit problem. If your father's goons come looking for you Neril will have no reason to think of YOU! Why would he tell your father's men about some Borderland siblings that wandered through town?" He held out his hands. "You can call me bloody brilliant if you would like."

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who wants art??? I goofed though and made masan a few inches too tall. Whoops.

 

2017-03-17%2023.43.01.jpg

 

 

 

Edited by LadyGreyfist

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OOC : I am sure that Fang is bending her knees a bit to look like a better "little sister" XD

it looks great :wub:

 

 

 

"You're a noble lady then?" Masan asked.

 

His touch made her forget about the bitterness she had felt a moment ago. "I am a noble," she said with a low voice. "But, I am not a lady... not anymore."

 

"I'm sorry I said I'd take you to your parents. I didn't know the situation. I'd thought you were just a mischievous kid who needed to be sorted out. No one's going to make you go back, least of all me if I can help it." Masan's words made her stop in her track.

 

You would help me? She wondered. Her companion had surprised her. No one had really wanted to help her, except the orphans with whom she used on hang out, back in Tear.

 

"I can't stick around here long though. I'm looking to sign up with the Dragon Reborn's army. They say he took the stone of Tear, so Tarmon Gai'don must be around the corner. I want to lend my sword to the Last Battle if I can. If you want to stick with me until I find a proper way to get recruited than you're free to," he added.

 

Fang smiled. "I'd like that," she said, impressed by Masan's dedication. 

 

She thought back about Tear. It was her birthplace and she was still emotionally connected to it. But, for her own freedom, she had to stay away from the flaming city - as long as it was possible to.

 

And now, the Arafellin who was so kind with her would have to leave her side to go there... where he will probably stay till Tarmon Gai'don.

 

I hope you will enjoy your time there, she thought.

 

Suddenly, Masan pulled a lock of her hair to inspect it. "What are you... " Fang started. 

 

Seeing how focused her companion was on comparing his hair with hers, she decided to shut her mouth. The young man muttered something to himself then ran over to one of his saddle bags.

 

"I was planning on selling these if I had to once I got further south. Maybe in the city of Tear itself where I could find a proper silver smith. But I think we can put them to a little use before we get there." He said, grinning.

 

"Wha?"

 

"Now. I'm only LENDING these to you," Masan said, interrupting her. "I'll need them back should I need to pawn them. I got these on my naming day a while back but I'm too fond of the ones I'm wearing."

 

In his hand was a pair of Arafellin silver bells, very similar to the ones that dangled from the ends of their braids, but in better shape.

 

"Hold still for a minute." He told Fang still grinning. He used his fingers to comb her hair.

 

"OUCH !" she protested. It had been a while since she had been able to pass a brush through her mane of dark hair.

 

Quickly Masan made two braids, one on each side of her skull. She had to fight not to stop him.

 

"You are making me look like you..." Fang started. She grabbed the first braid and toyed with the belt that Masan had tied at the end of it. ... "why?"

 

The Arafellin didn't answer immediately. He grabbed his water skin and a piece of cloth to clean her face. "I can do it myself," she muttered, still allowing him to finish what he was doing.

 

"There! The clothes are wrong. Of course. But you look like you could have grown up in the Borderlands. You're a little tanner than I am but it's hardly any consequence. When we get back I'm going to thank Neril profusely for sending my little sister, who followed me all the way from Arafel because she thought she could convince me to take her hunting for the Horn of Valere, to find me in the stables so she could help me with his bandit problem. If your father's goons come looking for you Neril will have no reason to think of YOU! Why would he tell your father's men about some Borderland siblings that wandered through town?" He held out his hands. "You can call me bloody brilliant if you would like."

 

Fang's jaw had dropped. She had always thought herself clever but Masan had clearly surpassed her. This was flaming brilliant, and she told him so.

 

She kept her face in check though. She didn't want her companion to know that she was in awe.

 

"Thanks," she quickly added.

 

***

 

They arrived at the inn sooner than Fang had expected it. She was feeling so hungry now that she imagined her stomach trying to eat itself. Not wanting to ask more of Masan, she hadn't dared to ask him for water, even if it would have helped her fill her belly for a while.

 

Master Neril was outside the inn, looking towards the road and grumbling about newcomers who had sent a messenger to announce their arrival.

 

"Nobles..." he said, sighing. "Can't do anything like others, can they. Want me to ... keep rooms for them and I am not even sure they'll show up... If the wife knew about this..."

 

 

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Masan put a smile on his face as they headed towards the inn. He casually rested a hand on Fang's shoulder and said, under his breath so only she could hear, "Just relax. Follow my lead and everything will be fine. The best lie is a simple one." He was a youngest child, he knew all about the finer points of the Little White Lie. He'd never lie about anything IMPORTANT but sometimes, like now, it was good to be a convincing liar.

Masan took a deep breath and readied himself. "Master Neril!" He boomed cheerfully. "I didn't get to thank you efore we left to do your job."

"Th-thank me?" Neril stammered, rubbing his hands on his apron.

"I really appreciate how kind you were to my sister. She told me how you calmed her down and told her where to find me. I didn't even know she'd left home after me!" He grinned, patting the balding, sputtering man's shoulder.

"Oh! But where's my head!" Masan continued, bonking his own forehead with the heel of his palm before producing the bloodied yellow bandanas collected from the dead bandits. "Here you go. They won't be bothering your town anymore. My sister is exhausted so we came right back but some village boys can collect the bodies tomorrow. Do you mind if we turn in now?" He asked. Neril stammered, clearly flattered by all the praise Masan had heaped upon him and likely thinking himself a hero for giving Fang the bare minimum of courtesy earlier. 

 

"O-Oh of course lad! Happy to help a young lady in trouble! Is she well?" Funny how people seemed to care more about your well being when you seemingly had a brick wall for a 'protective' older brother.

 

Masan patted Neril's shoulder again. "Oh she's made of tough stock. She'll be fine but she did have a tough time by herself. We'll get her sorted with a bath and some food. Do you mind if I take our food up to our room for her? I'll bring the dishes back myself." Masan asked, taking on the perfect image of a concerned big brother.

 

"Well, actually, that would be convenient for us both, if I must be honest. I have some self important nobles coming and I figure they're going to be bossing my poor girls around as if they wore livery." Neril snorted indignantly. "They won't be here for another hour or two. How about you both head off to your baths and you get that darling girl settled. I'll have Marva keep two plates hot for you in the kitchen. You just come down and fetch them when you're ready. If you can serve yourself it'll be easier for us all." The fat inn keeper seemed to inflate Thinking of one's self as a hero tended to make them feel morally superior.

 

Masan smiled. "You are truly a man of honor! I didn't know the south men bred such as you. Please, you'll let me pay you?" Masan asked. It seemed like a dumb thing to say but he had Neril absolutely figured out.

"Oh no. I'm simply doing as anyone should! But. alright, I know you Arafellins are concerned with your honor. If you'll pay for the baths and any ale you drink the room is still covered for the work you've done and I'll add your sister's meal with the meal I promised you." His round face stretching as he smiled back at Masan.

"Light shine on you." Masan said sincerely, wrapping an arm around Fang's shoulders. "Follow Master Neril up to the room, Fangeline," He had to make that horrid name sound real in some way. "I'll take care of Boko and then have Master Neril tell me where he put us." Neril had no idea that Masan was grinning because he'd gotten the better of the old man. Likely Neril thought he'd make out on having those baths and horse supplies paid for as well as the bandits dealt with being worth more than one room for a night and two plates of food. Never mind that otherwise Fang would have had to pay for room, food, and bath out of pocket. Masan was quite proud of himself. He hoped to have them shut in the room before Fang's father's men arrive and then for the two of them to be long gone before dawn.

Edited by LadyGreyfist

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Fang tried to smile as she listen to Masan's story. He was really gifted, she had to admit to herself. Neril believed every single of his words. Wanting to be as helpful as possible, he didn't even react when Masan mentioned that the both of them would eat in their room. She had thought that the innkeeper would have protested at having to offer two meals and at having to house two instead of one traveler, "because of his wife" ...

 

His next sentences brought an interesting explanation about his state of mind. 

 

All his thoughts were turned on those "self important nobles" who would be coming. Fang's heart tightened. She needed to know where these nobles where coming from.

 

Neril saw her shiver and took it for fear to be inconvenienced by the newcomers. Indeed, some nobles couldn't behave themselves around young commoners.

 

"They won't be here for another hour or two," the innkeeper added, trying to reassure her. "How about you both head off to your baths and you get that darling girl settled. I'll have Marva keep two plates hot for you in the kitchen. You just come down and fetch them when you're ready. If you can serve yourself it'll be easier for us all."

 

Neril smiled, his fists on his fat waist. The picture of a real hero.

 

Masan immediately replied. "You are truly a man of honor! I didn't know the south men bred such as you. Please, you'll let me pay you?"

 

At her companion's words, Fang opened her mouth to protest. He's offering it all, flaming...

 

 

"Oh no. I'm simply doing as anyone should! But. alright, I know you Arafellins are concerned with your honor. If you'll pay for the baths and any ale you drink the room is still covered for the work you've done and I'll add your sister's meal with the meal I promised you." the young woman was so surprised to hear the innkeeper decline the payment that she almost strangled herself with her own spit.

 

That man needs to teach me lessons, she told herself.

"Light shine on you." Masan said sincerely, wrapping an arm around Fang's shoulders. "Follow Master Neril up to the room, Fangeline. I'll take care of Boko and then have Master Neril tell me where he put us."

 

Not wanting to destroy the Arafellin's efforts, Fang smiled and let herself be guided by the innkeeper. The fat man, his back straighter than ever before that day, accompanied her to one of the rooms that laid on the second floor. It was a very small one, compared to her room in Tear but it looked comfortable enough.

 

"There you are, lass. I think you should take some rest."

 

"Thank you, Master Neril", she replied.

 

As soon as he closed the door, she rushed towards the bed. She needed to lay down. The mattress wasn't filled with fluffy feathers, it made her feel a bit disappointed.

 

When the door opened a couple of minutes later, she jumped on her feet. She knew the bed was for Masan, after all he had done for her.

 

"Fangeline..., really?" she asked him.


 

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Masan led Boko back to the stable to get her a proper rub down and to fill her feed bag and water trough. He was horribly hungry himself by this point but Boko was his darling girl and she deserved to have her needs tended first. Once done he rinsed off his hands in the barrel of rain water outside the stable and headed into the back door leading into the kitchen. The equally plump head cook, Marva, snapped her head up at him, her steel grey bun bobbing as she sized him up.

 

"I suppose you're that Borderlander who did in those bandits?" She asked skeptically.

 

"I should hope, do you get many Borderlanders here in Southern Andor?" He asked, putting a smile on his face. Marva was clearly far more clever than Neril and saw right through his sarcastic remark. She narrowed her sharp, thin brows at him. "Don't you sass me young man!" She snapped. "My youngest is old enough to have bore you and I will not suffer any lip flapping from someone your age." She gestured at him fiercely with her wooden spoon. He chuckled, ducking his head apologetically but knowing she saw him for the scamp he was. "Sorry Mistress Marva. I'll just collect the plates for my sister and me and I'll get out of your kitchen." He promised.

 

"See that you do!" She snorted. "And when you bring those dishes back you make certain they are washed and stacked. Light shelter you if I come in tomorrow morning and have to tend filthy plates!" Masan had no doubt that shaking the men sent by Fang's father would be far easier that evading Mistress Marva with a flea in her ear over a less than tidy kitchen! 

 

"Yes, Mistress Marva." Masan replied, bowing his head to give her the proper, submissive respect she felt entitled to. And with her age she probably was entitled to it anyway so there was no pride he needed to swallow over the display. He collected the plates. Some slices of roast glazed in what smelled like a mildly spicy sauce accompanied by root vegetables. Though Masan couldn't help but notice that Marva had tried to slip a sweet glazed bun underneath the smaller plate. The portions were relatively the same, but the larger plate was heavier and less ornate. Clearly meant for him to eat off of. Masan did smile that that hidden bun. Marva was a brisk woman, but clearly she'd taken notice of Fang and was doing something a little extra for her. If Fang were his actual little sister he probably would have been touched by the gesture. He pretended like he didn't notice until he entered the common room to get the room direction from Neril, who was hopping about like a sparrow on a frozen branch. For all his complaints about nobles he clearly wanted everything perfect for them. Neril quickly instructed him on the directions and shooed him from the common room. Clearly feeling no noble would want to look at the scruffy soldier. 

 

He climbed the stairs and pushed open the door with his shoulder, letting the food enter the room before himself. 

 

"Fangeline..., really?" she asked him.

 

Masan snorted, loudly. "What, like you call yourself by a real, convincing name? I'm sorry, Fang is not a real name. I had to pull something out of my ear to make it sound like it comes from a real one. You can start with, 'Thank you' and finish that up with taking your plate. Seems like the Head Cook is soft on you. The leathery old bird hid a sweet bun on your plate. Eat up. If you want a bath before those nobles get here." Masan shrugged, setting her plate down on the small table in the room, but instead of seating himself he just leaned his back against the wall and began to tuck into his own food, clearly famished himself. "As for me, I'm going to get this in me as quick as I can. We're not staying all night. We can't be that arrogant about this plan. We need to leave while those nobles are asleep, just in case. And I, for one, would love a bath and a few hours of sleep before we have to slip away." He had an amazing talent for talking and eating at the same time. His food was nearly gone but he'd hardly spoken with his mouth full. He knew how to eat quickly, efficiently, and move on to the next thing. He'd shovel in a mouthful, chew quickly and swallow hard before tacking on another sentence.

 

He licked some of the spicy sauce one of his fingers and continued. "Now, I heard that Southern women have problems bathing in the same room where men are bathing. Is this completely true?" He asked, he didn't want to just strut around as bare as the day he was born in a room full of women if they were going to be aghast by the experience. In the Borderlands there wasn't the same kind of taboo feeling towards it. Public baths were common, even his own village had a public bath house. Borderland winters were horribly cold and sometimes it was nice to go to the bath houses where the water was constantly heated either by heat vents from under the earth of heating stoves that were kept burning constantly. His village's bathhouse was small, it could really only accommodate one large family, or two small ones, at a time. He had, however, heard stories about the Bath Houses of Fal Dara in Shienar. Large, sprawling buildings constructed over natural heat vents. He'd never been to Fal Dara, but had he ever found himself in the capital of his neighboring country he would have certainly visited the bath houses! Taking a bath in this tiny inn would hardly be an enlightening experience, but if Fang absolutely required privacy he'd let her go take a bath first so she could hide away in the room before the Nobles arrived but, selfishly, he didn't want to wait for his bath if he didn't have to!

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Fang was trying to eat as fast as she could. It was tough, though, to patiently cut her meat in small dices like she used to do at home. Her stomach was urging her to go faster but her hands refused to obey it.

 

"Thanks," she muttered.

 

Since talking while eating was not the polite thing to do, she listened to Masan as she tucked her food in.

 

"Now, I heard that Southern women have problems bathing in the same room where men are bathing. Is this completely true?" He asked.

 

Fang almost chocked on her bread.

 

"Your women bathe with men? How? Why?" Her eyes widened.

 

Her father had always forbidden her to be too close to men. She had understood later that it was because he wanted to be sure she would still be a virgin for her wedding. When she had been bathing in Tear, it had always been in the presence of her female servants.

 

The image of her, naked in front of Masan, made her cheeks redden. Even if she knew that she had nothing to worry about with the Arafellin she didn't really feel comfortable with her body.

 

Think silly, she thought after a minute.  If the innkeeper knows about this custom... you'll break your cover if you don't act like a true Borderlander.

 

On top of it something inside her pushed her to show that she wasn't scared. She wanted to prove to Masan that she was tougher than she looked.

 

Eventually, she took a deep breathe. "As long as you don't watch", she said trying to sound like the orphans she had been hanging with in Tear "I don't care!"

 

"But," she added right after. "These noble men are worrying me. I have to know who they are and if they are coming from Tear. We have to be careful..."

 

Her use of the "we" surprised her. Until then it had always been "me" or "I".

 

It made her understand that she was caring about the Arafelin. She didn't want anything bad happening to him.

Edited by Chaelca

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At her explosive reaction to his question Masan began to laugh, with his mouth full, causing him to choke and cough to prevent himself from bloody dying. Once his windpipe was clear he continued his chuckle, wiping tears from his eyes that were only partially due to his momentary asphyxiation. 

 

"Fang, you REALLY don't have to be alright with me being in the room if you don't want to." He snickered, "I just wasn't sure if it was true that Southerners were so... stiff?" He said, trying out the word. He'd have said prudish but that wasn't really it was it? "To answer your question, in the Borderland it's not uncommon for whole families to bath together. You can help get your siblings cleaned up and you scrub your elders' backs. It's not like a brothel or anything like that. Though I shouldn't say that because I'm sure not a few babies were made by young people sneaking into the bath houses for privacy in the dead of night." He snorted. Masan had a ridiculous amount of noises that he used to express himself beyond words. "What I mean is that it's not MEANT be taken as a lewd thing. Just a nude thing." At this he laughed boisterously at his own flaming, stupid pun. 

 

"Look, here's how we can have our bread and eat it too. Neril's going to expect me to at least pay for a mug or two of ale, right? How about you take a bath, a quick one, and I play the spy and chat these fellows up? Ask about lodgings in Tear and such what. You know. Foreigner stuff. You get washed and zip back here as fast as you can, but don't take those braids out. I'll come up after two or three mugs and check to see if you're back here. If you are I'll go take mine and be back in time to sleep. If you're not, sorry. I will have to come collect you in the bath room. If you don't want me to walk in on you stark then you best not dawdle." The insufferable man had the audacity to grin wolfishly at that statement. He was really shaping up to be just like an actual, teasing, horrid older brother. It was kind of fun, actually, not being the youngest for once. At least, he promised, he wouldn't be as bad as his own older brothers. He'd not pour honey in her hair or make her eat dirt... well, alright maybe his brothers had only done that once and they were all under the age of ten when they'd done it. But still. Dirt was flaming horrible. 

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"Let's do this your way," Fang said meaning that she was ok with them taking their bath at separate times.

 

Deciding to abandon her manners, she gulped down her food. Mmmmh... I want more! She thought, knowing very well that she didn't have the money for it. The mug of ale the Arafellin had talked about would have to be enough to fill her stomach.

 

As soon as their plates were emptied, Masan went downstairs to ask for the servants to fill in a tub. In the meantime Fang dug in her pockets to get a small comb she had stolen a couple of weeks before in a small farm. It was clearly not enough for her long mane of dark hair but it was better than nothing. She hoped that that the innkeeper had enough soap and oil to scrub all the dirt from her hair and her body.

 

The bath was readied faster than she had expected. As soon as she entered the bathroom she took off her braids and clothes, then dove in the tub. The water was warm enough to make her wince. But she didn't care, she needed it!

 

She rubbed as hard as she could, wanting to be like her old self. With a pure and clean skin. Next came her hair, that she submerged in the water. Combing them without oil was very painful. She cursed many times as she had to fight against knots.

 

It is only when she heard someone walking in the corridor that she remembered that Masan had asked her to be quick.

 

She jumped out of the tub and pulled her shift on her head just on time, right before the Arafellin passed the door with two mugs of ale in his hands.

 

"Your braids!"

 

"I am sorry," Fang said. "But I had to take care of my hair!"

 

She made a step towards the pool made by her discarded clothes."The bells are here, don't worry!" she added.

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Masan collected their plates while Fang finished her sweet bun and headed down, asking one of the serving girls to fill the tubs on his way so that Fang could take her bath first. He then shuffled down to the kitchens. Thank the Light Marva was apparently on her break so the kitchen was barely staffed as he washed the plates and set them out to dry. 

He lurked into the common room and shuffled over to the bar to order a mug of ale. Apparently Neril had run off to prepare something else. Masan's eyes ran across the faces and clothes of the people in the common room. Most of the people filling it seemed to be local folk in sturdy wool and linen, faces line hard from years of working in the fields. But he managed to spot a table where two men in silks happened to be sitting. They were quite different from each other. One was stout and, Masan thought, if he put on anymore weight the buttons of his coat would begin to strain. Masan had probably never seen a man with so many chins in all his life. His companion was the very opposite. He looked like a bundle of twigs wrapped in dark slashed silks. He was clearly the older of the two if the thinning hair atop his head was any indication. The only thing the pair seemed to have in common was their pointed, oiled beards marking them out as Tairen. Clearly they didn't belong to Andor and were likely the men that Fang feared were looking for her. One thing was a little amiss, though. The clothing was fine but it was far from new. On Twig the elbows of his coat were starting to become worn and had the coat been tailored to the fat one it would have certainly been made to fit better, one would think. This suggested to Masan that these men weren't real nobles, but probably people in the employ of or representing an actual noble and were wearing cast offs so that they looked the part of a well to do noble's man.

 

Instead of just getting the one mug he ordered three, carrying them over to the table where the would-be nobles sat. At the sight of him the pair scowled, well, the fat man scowled as much as his jowls allowed.

 

"What do you want, peasant?" Twig sneered.

"Oh just to bring these to you, M'Lords." He said, slipping into seeming the oblivious peasant. Peasants were in no way as oblivious as nobles (and those who wanted to seem noble) thought they were, but challenging them would only make them angry. "But, I happened to notice that you were Tairens based on how you dressed, and likely quite knowledgeable about your city. I was wondering if either of you two knew the best way to find lodgings or work in the city of Tear."

 

Both men accepted the ale, confirming that they weren't likely nobles. The ale wasn't horrible but it was far from the best Masan had ever had. He was certain a real noble would have turned his nose up at it. Despite accepting the free drinks they were still as haughty as before. "Do we look like we require lodging or to find the kind of meaningless work your sort would do?" Fatty sneered, taking a swig of the mug. 

 

"Frankly I would rather we were still in Tear." Twig scoffed, bringing his own mug to his lips. "Shoo, away with you." He waived irksomely at Masan who bowed his head, but made sure to shoot the pair a scowl of his own, just so they thought he was done with them. He took his own mug over to a table nearby, but not right on top of them, and acted like he was absorbed in watching a dice game going on in the corner, meanwhile he kept his ears tuned in to Fatty and Twig behind him.

 

Masan listened for a good half an hour. Most of their jabber was just complaining. Whining about the countryside, about being around peasants, about how everything would look up as soon as they brought The Girl home to Master Dasso. Now, Masan didn't need to know Fang's real name or her father's name. All the clues made it evident that they were for certain her father's men. Thank the Light they were bloody incompetents. Aside from the two mugs Masan had brought over each had created a sizable pile of empty cups for themselves that the serving girls were trying to keep clear. 

Finally emptying his mug he got up and headed back for the bar. "Thanks miss, the two drinks I brought the gentlemen are on their tab, but can I add two more to this one?" He asked, giving the serving girl a winning smile. She smiled back and accepted his emptied mug back and filled him up two more. "Thank you. Here, I'll pay them off now." He smiled, dropping a little extra coin in her hand as well. "That's a little tip for you. Don't let those stingy misers over there work you too hard." One more flash of that smile for her and it was all set. 

 

He marched back up the stairs and cracked open the door to their room. Vacant. Ugh. Flaming mother's milk in a cup. Ask a woman to be quick about anything and she does the exact opposite. Is it spite? Is it just not wanting to be told what to do? Ugh. He pulled the door shut again and stepped over to the bath room. He did not care. There was nothing in there that he hadn't seen a million times before other places and she had already been warned. She had no expectation that he would not just let himself in. Fang must have heard him in the hallway because, before he reached the door, he heard the loud slush of water as though a body threw itself out of the tub.

 

He pushed the door open just in time to catch Fang struggling into her shift, water still dripping down her hair. That had been unbraided...

"Your braids!" He snapped. Burn him, he'd worked hard on those and he had told her to leave them in, hadn't he?

 

"I am sorry," Fang said. "But I had to take care of my hair!"

 

She scampered over to her pile of discarded clothes. "The bells are here, don't worry!" she added.
 

Masan pulled the door shut behind him and put the mugs on a stool beside the door. "Well I'm glad you didn't lose those bells this means I have to redo those braids to make sure they're in the Arafellin style. He grumbled. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Was this his punishment for teasing her earlier? Probably. 

"Alright." He said, handing her the mug he'd brought for her. "Let me get in my own tub. Will I soak I'll try to pick the kinks out of your hair and get it rebraided." He said, eyeing the tangled mess that washing it had turned it back into. If only he'd had some oils he could fix that. "After I do, try to keep it braided unless you're washing it. It'll keep it neater longer." It was true for his own hair anyway. He couldn't imagine how frizzy she'd look if she was still in Tear with it's damp air. He'd thought Andor humid after leaving the dry air of the Borderlands but he had a feeling that Tear was going to be as oppressive as the Blight. Fan-bloody-tastic. 

Masan was not about to dawdle. His grandfather had trained him for the soldier's life. You ate when you could, you washed when you could and you certainly slept when you could. Masan could even sleep in the saddle. He'd done that from time to time when he'd been a youth. He unbuckled his belt and proceeded to pull his woolen tunic over his head. Fang was prudish though, as she'd shown at dinner so he was going to let her look away so he could finish undressing and get in his own, now luke warm, tub. He'd let her know what he had learned once she was settled at the foot of the tub where he could try to tame her hair.

Edited by LadyGreyfist

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When Masan told her about the men downstairs, Fang felt icy sweat gliding down her back.

 

Memories flashed through her mind.

 

Her hair had been braided and tied in a large bun at the back of her head. Her body was imprisoned in a tight dress made of white silk and pearls. It made her feel uncomfortable. She didn't look like herself.

 

"My lady, you look so beautiful," one of the maids commented.

"Your father will be so proud," the other one added.

 

"My father will not be proud," she spat. "He will be happy if the groom likes what he sees."

 

The maids shook their heads. They didn't understand. For them, Fang was a spoiled little girl who had everything she wanted. For them, she should be happy to be married to one of the most powerful man of Tear.

 

I look like a whore, Fang thought. She could barely breath, since the cut of the dress had made everything to make the top of her breasts pop up while at the same time compressing her waist to the maximum.

 

"It is time!" The maids smiled to each other and left the room.

 

As soon as the door closed, the young woman dove on a dagger she had hidden under her pillow. She ripped the skirts of her dress apart to allow her more freedom of movement. She was tempted to do the same with the bodice but she was afraid to open it too widely.

 

"Goodbye, father," she said. She took the oil lamps that were decorating the room one by one, lit them and let them fall on the floor. The room got warm pretty fast. In a couple of seconds, the flames managed to reach the walls, leaving her barely enough time to jump through an open window.

 

She landed on a patch of bushes where she had hidden a back pack and stout shoes.

 

With everybody busy with the ceremony preparations, the gardens where empty. Still, she ran as fast as she could to reach the wall at the bottom of it. There, Fox was waiting for her. One of the Orphans she had spent time with.

 

"Here," Fox called from the top of the wall. She dropped one end of the rope she was holding. 

 

"Hurry, Fang! ... and that dress is so mine once we get to the Den!"

 

 

 

"Masan, we need to get away from here!" Fang said "I can't go back!"

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Masan, now properly seated in the tub with only his waist and above visible took on a worried expression. 

"We will, but you need to keep calm and focused." He reminded, "If we rush off right now it'll look suspicious. Trust me. Just relax. We're going to be leaving in the dead of night and those two are going to be too busy getting drunk to come up and take a bath. We're going to be shut up in our room before they come upstairs and they'll never even see you. But if you panic you'll make mistakes and catch someone's eye." He warned. "Now sit down and let me fix the mess you made of your hair." He ordered, indicating a dry spot on the floor next to the tub where she could sit. "Do you know how to do the Flame and the Void? It's an old soldier's trick. It calms the mind so you're able to focus. If you don't know how to do it, I can guide you through the steps." He offered. She needed to be focused and calm for their trick to work. If she lost her mind and tried to run off she'd draw all sorts of attention and the suspicion of Fatty and Twig who would just follow her to the next town. She'd probably been doing it just that way since Tear. In her flight leaving evidence of her passing. He wasn't a very good scout, for that he would be honest. Baun, despite being bigger, was much better at moving silently through brush. But Baun had always told him the best way to scout or be a scout was to cause the smallest amount of commotion as possible. Running and rushing just let others know you were there or left obvious signs of your passing. Baun always said that if you moved cautiously and with purpose you were more likely to sneak up on who you were trying to out-fox. This wasn't very different that cautiously moving through brambles in a wood, so they had to move in a planned, purposeful way. He only just hoped that she could maintain her calm long enough to do so.

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"The flame and the void?" Fang repeated. As Masan explained that it would help her focus and calm down, she raised an eyebrow. It sounded like tricks her maids would tell her. Tricks that would help behave like a proper lady, quite and all. It is only because the Arafellin had told he that it was used by soldiers that she decided to give it a try.

 

"Alright, guide me to the steps," she muttered.

 

It took all her strength to stay where she was, her bottom on the floor while Masan was taking care of her hair. Maybe I'll have to learn to braid my hair myself, she thought. I am not a flaming lady anymore...

 

"I'll trust you on this," she quickly added. "If these men find me, we will be in trouble... the both of us!"

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The comb dragged its way through her hair, Masan separating the hair into more manageable pieces as he spoke. "Close your eyes and imagine a dark, limitless void. Don't think about anything, really; just be." He started, letting the passes of the comb become rhythmic in order to help coax her into the state of mind she'd need to be in.

"Now. Imagine a flame. Any kind of flame you like. Could be a candle, could be a hearth, could be a blacksmith's forge. Just focus on the flame in your mind. Now take the things that are clawing at your focus. Take your fear, anxiety, panic. Take all of that and put them into the fire to burn them up, one by one. Until all that's left is just the void, the flame, and you." He found himself slipping into the void as he guided her through the steps. He still experienced his perceptions, but they were somehow muted and distant, as though he was feeling them with someone else's body. In this state he saw Saidin raging just outside his mind's vision. It was always there when he entered the void, so tempting but so vile. He didn't reach out or try to seize it. He knew it'd be futile anyway. Masan never had any luck with actually grabbing hold of it unless he was already firmly holding the hilt of a blade. Oh but it was so tempting! He pulled the focus of his attentions away from the seductive force writhing just out of view and placed it back on the girl sitting one the floor in front of the tub. At least she wasn't quivering anymore. 

 

"If you don't  succeed right away, don't be dissuaded. It does take a little practice. You're a smart girl though, once you're in the void let the smarts you have do the talking, not your fear." He reminded, finally getting a section of hair detangled and moving on to the next.

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Fang closed her eyes. As Masan told her to, she imagined a dark limitless void. It was not easy to do. The light of the candles she had been watching had left traces. Even with her eyes shut, she could still see them dancing.

 

"Don't really think," her companion said.

Easier said than done, she protested. How can I not think about these men downstairs?

Ush, you. A part of her said. You said you would give it a try!

 

Following Masan's instructions, she imagined a flame, right on top of a red candle. The kind of which she liked to have near her bed, back in Tear. She concentrated on it until there was only her and the flame.

 

"Damn!" she cursed, after having lost her focus.

 

Thinking about Tear and her old bedroom had made her mind wander in an unwanted direction.

 

"Ok, I"ll try it again," she said not waiting for Masan to react.

 

Again, she emptied her mind. This time, she pictured a flame in an hearth, just like the one in the inn common room.

 

Breathing softly, she noticed that her heart was beating less fast than it had before. The realization made her lose her concentration.

 

"If you don't  succeed right away, don't be dissuaded. It does take a little practice. You're a smart girl though, once you're in the void let the smarts you have do the talking, not your fear." Masan reminded her.

 

Blushing at the compliment, Fang thanked the Arafellin. "I think it worked... more or less... well enough so that I don't feel I have to run away immediately."

 

Once her hair was completely braided, she advanced towards a mirror. "Do you think my father's men will think I am your sister? From the description you made me, I don't think I have met them before... but then my father had so many minions." She sighed.

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Masan let her go to inspect his work, taking up the soap and a coarse brush and scrubbing at his skin fast and hard. 

 

"My ultimate goal," he explained, "Is that they don't see you at all, or if they do they don't get a good look at you. You don't know how to braid your hair, so they wouldn't expect you to have two complicated braids like the kind Arafellin women wear." 

 

He hoisted up the small bucket beside the tub and used it to scoop some water out and pour it over his own head, rinsing off the soap. His own hair hung loose, but he would braid it himself once they were hidden away back in the room. So much for a hot bath. Oh well. One rarely gets exactly what they want in life. At least it wasn't as bad as bathing in a cold river or stream.

 

"Close your eyes or look away if you want, I'm getting out and dried off." He warned. It felt weird to have to warn people. Light, southerners were so prudish it was unbelievable. Did they even look at their own spouses with the lights on? Such an odd people who only got odder the further south he went. Masan carefully got out of the tub and rubbed himself dry with a towel before pulling on his britches and at least his linen shirt. Were no one else in the room and he had a knife to hold he could have dried off with the one power. He'd found it to be really effective, actually. He assumed that also had to be air. 

The element that he thought of as air came the easiest to him but it could have been that it was just the one he felt most comfortable fiddling around with. Fire was dangerous to play with and figure things out with, earth was unpredictable and water was just hard for him to get a hold of. He knew there was also Spirit but he used it so rarely he didn't really know what to do with it or try with it so it just kind of lingered there, unused. Air could be dangerous once you knew what you were doing with it, but he'd managed to figure out how to make it move in certain directions, or how to use it to keep something suspended or slow the motion of something. It was pretty handy when trying to hunt with the small bow he'd brought with him. seeing as he was such a terrible shot. If the animal was slowed it was easier for him to aim and hit true. Masan was no where near Baun's level of tracking and he did not like having to follow a wounded animal for hours in order to catch and kill it. Thing was, if he managed to wound it, he had to give it the mercy of killing it. So inconvenient!

 

He accepted that he would not be using the power for light blinded anything while Fang was around. He didn't need her to panic over one more thing. Masan may be a monster who could channel, but he could hardly help that. At least he wasn't the kind of monster that sold his own kin for business arrangements and influence. That was a choice to be a monster. It turned Masan's stomach to think of the very idea of USING a woman like that. Frankly, using ANYONE like that was galling. Fang was the man's OWN CHILD. How could he feel alright with something like that? Fang wasn't even HIS and he wanted her to be safe from lecherous beasts, a father should be better.

 

"Come on." He said, getting his bloody temper under control. "Walk between me and the wall. We'll be in the room in two minutes and then we stay put until I wake you up. Alright?" He asked, hovering by the door, not wanting to open it until she was ready.

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OOC: Oh have some more art. I actually had time to sit down and paint something!

 

 

 

if you want the full pdf to use for anything you just have to say so, I'll figure out how to host it on drop box or something...

compressedfang.png

 

Edited by LadyGreyfist

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OOC : OMG i love it ! how big is the pdf?

 

 

"Close your eyes or look away if you want, I'm getting out and dried off." Masan warned.

 

Immediately, Fang turned her back to him. She tried to act as if something had required her attention, as she didn't want him to see that she was feeling uncomfortable. Feeling red coming to her cheeks, she tried to concentrate all her attention on a small chair, near the door.

 

There's a man, naked behind me! There's a man... Ush, you! She told herself. This isn't such a big deal! Behave yourself!

 

 

"Come on." the Arafellin said at last. "Walk between me and the wall. We'll be in the room in two minutes and then we stay put until I wake you up. Alright?" He asked, hovering by the door.

 

"Let's do this," the girl replied surprised at how fast her companion had dressed himself.

 

Fang concentrated on the sounds coming from the common room. She heard people talking and laughing. They all seem to be very busy, she thought.

 

Masan looked at her, sign that it was time to move.

 

They advanced as carefully as it was possible to, Fang hiding between the Arafellin and the wall. Step by step they moved towards the door of their room.

 

4 ... 3 .... 2 .... 1....

 

Fang rushed on the door, opened it and dived in as fast as she could.

 

"Did they see us?" she didn't resist asking her companion as soon as he closed the door behind him.

Edited by Chaelca

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OOC: 7.86 mb, however it's a pretty complete file because I never delete my excess layers. So it still has my color palettes and my reference shot from my pose maker software as well as my sketchy guide art on a layer too, plus all the colors have tons of clipped layers to them for the shadows and the highlights. I am a layer queen.
 

Masan smiled as he softly shut the door. "No one even looked up the stairs as we walked past. We should be nearly clear." He added, locking the door for good measure and going over to unpack the bedroll for Fang. He was becoming fond of her rather quickly, yes, but she'd still clobbered and robbed him so there was no way she was getting the bed. Not a chance in the dark one's eye! 

 

He unbundled the roll on the floor and stepped away to rebraid his own hair. "Get to sleep. We're not going to get much of it here so we better get as many minutes of shut eyes as we can. I've got a good internal clock. I'll wake you up in a few hours, we'll pack up and sneak out. I'll leave Neril what's left of the money I owe him on the bedside and we'll have Boko saddled and be out of here before dawn kisses the horizon." He was rather proud of himself that this entire game had worked! He fancied himself that he could be a spymaster one day, though the realistic side to him acknowledged that he would actually be quite horrible at it.

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OOC : well layers are important XD lol

 

 

Fang was dreaming of baths and braids when she heard a strange banging noise. Weird images passed through her head, making her think that someone was banging on a tub she was in... what the ... ?

 

And then she woke up.

 

It took her a while to remember where she was. Then in a flash, it all made sense - the inn, Masan, the room - except for the banging sound.

 

"Masan!" she whispered, panicking.

 

The Arafelling ushed her. He was already awake and standing near the door.

 

"The door !" she insisted pointing towards it.

 

Jumping on her feet she grabbed her daggers, hoping she wouldn't have to use them.

Edited by Chaelca

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Masan had been startled out of his sleep by the banging sound immediately. He'd elected to sleep in his clothes. Quickly he stuffed his feet into his boots and made for the door. 

 

"Masan!" Fang whispered harshly. If this was her father's toadies she had better stay put. He pressed a finger to his lips and pointed at her to stay there. Luckily she armed herself with her dagger but didn't otherwise move. Slowly he twisted the lock on the door and pushed it open, running out into the open but trying to hold it closed behind himself to give Fang an extra barrier of protection.

 

Everything happened so fast. Had he'd actually stopped to think Masan would have realized that the while Fatty was one of the Teirian toadies, he was far too drunk and glassy-eyed to have been actually looking for Fang. He'd likely been trying to get into the wrong room. Masan did not think with his rational mind, however. He panicked, the worst possible thing he could do. Masan had already been gripping the hilt of his long belt knife should there have been a problem. In his panic about the man trying to get into his room he had, by second nature, seized hold of the source and bundled and gagged the man with a flow of air. It was not good to seize the source when not deeply entrenched in the void. It made control very difficult. He wrenched at it and it only man the gagged man panic and flail, realizing what was happening to him through his drunk haze. 

 

'Oh light no.' Masan thought. How could he have done this? How could he have been so stupid and careless? He'd been so careful since leaving Arafel! Not knowing what to do he stuffed the man in the nearby cleaning closet. He didn't know how he knew to do it, but he was pretty sure he was able to set the binding and gag to stay in place even if he released the source; he'd played around with things like that before when passing through woods and deserted places alone. He'd figured out how to keep a leaf suspended for a few hours even once he let go. Light he prayed those would hold just as long!

 

Frantic he shut the closet door as quietly as he could before hustling back to the room. Blowing past Fang he started to push their possessions back into his saddle bags. "Get up! Get your boots on!" He hissed harshly. "We have to go RIGHT NOW! Trouble!" He winced. "I had to do something bad to one of your father's men. He caught me off guard. They'll find him the in the morning, light hurry up!" Masan was trying to seek the void himself. This was his own personal nightmare. They had to be long gone, otherwise he would be caught and gentled! He couldn't have that! He needed to reach the Dragon's men and be forged into a weapon to slaughter shadow spawn! Not have some Red Sisters after him! 

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Fang made a step forward as she saw Masan rushing out of the room to meet the visitor. Something pushed her to follow him. Who would have his back if she wasn't at his side? But, the fear of being taken by his fathers' man prevented her from going much further.

 

Taking a deep breath, she focused on the strange noises coming from the corridor. What she heard didn't sound like people having a talk but it didn't sound like people fighting either. She pictured someone fighting for air then crashing on the floor. It make her want to see what was happening.

 

Flaming hell! she cursed, hoping that the Arafellin was safe and sound.

 

Before she had the time to make her mind, Masan rushed back into the room.

 

"What happened?" the girl asked, sitting back on the bed. She didn't know where was the person who had knocked on the door but she was sure that he was not a thread anymore.

 

"Get up!" Masan replied, pushing his possessions in his saddle bag. It made her jump back on her feet.

 

"Get you boots on!" he went on. "We have to go RIGHT NOW! Trouble!"

 

"Wha..."

 

Fang raised her face from the laces of her boots.

 

'I had to do something bad to one of your father's men. He caught me off guard. They'll find him in the morning, light hurry up!"

 

"What did you do to him?"

 

Horrible pictures passed through her mind. Her father learning that his men had died horrible deaths and swearing he would destroy anyone who had helped his daughter. Masan beheaded...

It can't be... No, I have to concentrate. Remembering what her companion had told her about the Void and the Flame, she fought to find some kind of inner peace. Like before it didn't completely work but, eventually, the images disappeared.

 

Masan didn't reply. What Fang saw in his eyes made her decide to hurry even more. She didn't have that many things to take with her, but she couldn't afford to leave anything behind. Quickly, she gathered her weapons and pouches.

 

'I'm ready!" she said at last. "Should we leave by the common room or by the window?"

 

She nodded towards the back of the room.

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Masan stuffed the last of his possession in the bags and shouldered them, At Fang's question he peered out the small window in their room.

"No." He said finally. "No we'd likely break something trying to jump from up here. The common room should be deserted this late." Masan craned his head to examine the moon and its position in the sky in order to give himself a sense of the time. Dawn would be in only a few hours. Likely everyone was asleep. Fatty may have just been drunk wandering as is the way with some who consume too much.

"We have to take the front door, but let's walk quickly and with purpose. We need to not make enough noise to attract attention but also be swift. Think you can move quietly like you did in the woods?" He asked, biting his bottom lip apprehensively. He felt pretty sure he could manage it. But if Fang couldn't he'd have to sneak out and catch her from the window and pray to the light that he didn't drop her. He didn't want to take chances now that he had buggered everything up as badly as he already had.

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