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A Boy and His Toys (Pahl's Arrival)


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The world was a huge and wondrous place, a place where one should feel in awe of everything that one saw and experienced. There was so much that was beyond explanation. The way birds flew through the air, for instance, or how fish breathed underwater, all of these things were so telling of the wonder that was the world. The only plausible reaction that one could have is utter amazement. Only a dissatisfied or demented mind could not appreciate the world in all of its finery, thinking only instead of the "how" and the "why."


This is precisely why Pahl Ebersol had been running for nearly an hour.


First, he had wondered why there was a rather foul, yet interesting odor coming from the side of the road. Then he had wondered how the corpse of the deer lying there had come to be so corpse-ish. Then he had wondered why a bear cub would be left all on its own near a deer corpse. Right now, all he was wondering was if the mother bear had finally stopped chasing him. It seemed likely that the bear would not have bothered pursuing him much further than five minutes at a hard run, but Pahl was loathe to actually test this theory, instead choosing to believe that there was only one Pahl Ebersol in the world, and it was his duty to make sure that that one Pahl survived for as long as possible.


Pahl strained to hear over the sound of his gasping breaths and footfalls, listening for any sound of pursuit. This focus meant that he was not as focused on the road ahead of him. He never saw the rock in the road that caught his toe. Fortunately for him, he was wearing steel-toed boots. Unfortunately, the metal content of his boots had nothing to do with his ability to stay on his feet, and Pahl found himself skidding across the ground on his chest. The leather-fronted pants and vest that he wore meant that he slid quite a distance before finally giving in to friction.


He laid still for a moment, curled into a tight ball and waiting for a potential mauling from an angry mother bear. After a few moments went by where a bear failed to maul him, Pahl stood and dusted himself off. He knew that, if somebody was actually looking at him, he would be quite the sight. His boots were of heavy leather with riveted steel toes. His pants had a heavy leather front stitched onto them, and his vest was, once again, made of heavy leather. On his head, he wore a leather cap with a peculiar pair of glasses. Instead of wire rims, they were large circles lined with leather that, if placed over the eyes, would completely seal to the wearer's face. Based on Pahl's experience with mirrors, he knew that the goggles would also make his eyes appear overly large. They also magnified anything at which he looked, which led to some disoriented motion and a tendency to run into walls.


As he brushed himself off, Pahl's eyes took in the pair of weapons hanging from his belt next to the arm-length leather gloves. "Why did I build you two in the first place?" he grumbled. The two bizarre weapons did not answer, as they were wont to do. Of the two, only one worked more than one time out of four, and then only barely. If he had been allowed more time to work on them, then he would have some sort of reliable defense in a world that was slowly beginning to lose any semblance that it may have had to sanity. Without really knowing why, Pahl lifted one of the two weapons, a long and thick wooden rod with steel end-caps and a steel plate in the center which bore two buttons and four square key pins. Inside was a complicated clockwork mechanism that, when engaged, would fire a pair of blades out of the wooden haft. The blades would lock into place, effectively creating a bladed quarterstaff. Press another button, and the blades would retract.


In theory.


In the bushes, Pahl heard movement. It took him a moment to react, but the second weapon at Pahl's belt found itself in his free hand. This one looked like nothing more than a wide metal tube with a wooden handle. The mechanism for this weapon was much simpler, but it still was incredibly unreliable. At the back of the tube was a cocking mechanism set on a heavy spring. Against the spring was a heavy metal spike. The cocking mechanism was rigged to a trigger similar to a crossbow. Releasing the trigger would fire the bolt with enough force to puncture heavy plate armor at a pretty fair range. Pahl had no desire to see what it would do to an actual person.


Out loud, Pahl called to whatever was out in the forest, "Puh-please come out. I ruh-really ha-have no desire to hurt anybody..."

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Stretching his neck and tightening his scouting coat, Arkin kept his ears pealed as only a scout could. True, his scouting abilities seemed to come mainly from years of hiding from and sneaking up on potential victims of his petty thievery, but the means were irrelevant. The ends was that Arkin walked soundlessly on his balanced feet, his ears ever-alert for the sound of foreign footfalls.


These skills had been increased further by his brief time in the Panarch's palace...Arkin shook his head to clear it. He wasn't going to distract his mind by thinking of the Palace. He was trotting ahead of the party, scouting for the scouts, if you will, only a little while in front of them, but enough that he was the only one around to hear a crashing nearby. A second's warning was all he had before a man came flying over the ground towards him. Taking a sidestep to dodge the awkward and potentially painful collision that would ensue had he stayed put, Arkin cocked his head to the side as he watched the man blur off through the other side of the bushes. Arkin was simply astounded by the speed of the missile the man made.


For a moment, Arkin considered what he should do now that he'd seen a man come hurtling through the forest. He was potentially injured, but he was also potentially dangerous...his unconventional mind kicking in, Arkin glanced around his surroundings until he found a suitable solution to his problem and quickly scaled a large tree with reaching branches.


It was from this vantage point that he looked upon perhaps the most oddly dressed man he had ever seen. Cnsidering the things Arkin had seen in his life and what he himself wore, that was certainly a big judgement for him to make, but the man seemed to be covered in heavy leather, and his eyes, surrounded by odd glasses, seemed to be twice, nay, thrice the size of a normal man's.


Arkin immediately liked him.


He was shocked when the human missile suddenly clambered to his feet and looked towards the bushes, pulling what must have been weapons from his side, uttering the most unconvincing threat that Arkin had ever heard. He couldn't have been threatening Arkin, he was too quiet, and the man wasn't even looking in his direction. Following his eyes to the bushes, Arkin didn't bother to stifle his laugh as he spotted a small bird jumping from branch to branch, creating quite an ominous rustling.


Figuring it was time to put the man out of his misery, Arkin whistled to signal the other scouts and leapt lightly down from his overhead perch to land directly in front of the man. The bird, scared by his jump, flew off and out of the bushes. "Never fear my friend, the fouls beast is gone." Arkin laughed.

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With an audible yelp, Pahl jumped in the air, turning around to see who- or what- was addressing him. Just because he had never heard an animal speak did not mean that they were incapable of it. Alas, it was not a talking rabbit that met his eyes. Instead, it was an oddly-garbed man. Around him, Pahl could see other men and women emerging from the brush. A hot blush ran to his face, making him feel incredibly hot for a moment. Making a slow turn, Pahl took in the details of the garb of the various people surrounding him. Predominantly dressed in shades of green, they were, with various shades of brown thrown in to break up the monotony. "Ah, earth-tone greens and browns. Camouflage. Hiding from prying eyes, it seems. Suggests either unusually clever bandits or militia of some sort."


Several of the people surrounding him looked at each other in confusion. Pahl noticed, but he was unsure why they would be confused. Apparently they had never heard a man speak his thoughts out loud. It helped Pahl to calm himself, which in turn eliminated his nervous stutter. It also helped him to think. "No white or sunbursts, so probably not Children of the Light. No horns or hooves, definitely not Trollocs. Too organized for militia. Perhaps... no it can't be that simple." Looking again at the man who had spoken, Pahl said, "You, sir. Are you from the Band of the Red Hand?"


There was another moment of confused silence. Pahl felt tense. There was no reason for them to really be from the Band. It was more likely that they were going to kill him and take everything of value from him. The thought was amusing to Pahl; he held very little of worth. "I should warn you that I am armed," he said. Then, closing his eyes tightly, he pressed one of the two buttons on the wooden shaft. Immediately, there was a disturbing noise from inside the handle of the quarterstaff. "Hit the ground!" Pahl yelled as he lifted the weapon above his head. A few seconds later, the blades of the weapon sprang free. Pahl could feel the catches shear off, and the blades soared free from their restrictive mechanisms, each striking a tree on either side of the road so hard that they buried themselves into the wood, standing straight out from the tree. "Err... Sorry, everybody. It does that sometimes."

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  • 1 month later...

As the other scouts slowly emerged form the bushes, Arkin pulled off the bandanna that held back the clinking noise from his hair trinkets and earrings and such. He shook his head to release his hair, releasing a soft ringing and dull clanking into the air as he ran a hand through the dark locks. It had been a long day and they were heading back to the Citadel, after a day rather lacking in entertainment as far as intruders went. The downfall of being a scout was that Arkin couldn't cure his boredom by his default technique of loud singing, instrumental improvisation and chatter, as the job description of a scout detailed the need to be silent, something Mehrin had picked up on straight away. And so, Arkin had been suffering through in complete silence, actually doing work with no distractions. Up until now.


The man before them now turned his magnified eyes onto their dress, their scouting 'uniforms'. His comments, drawn from the obvious connotations of their clothing, shocked the other scouts, but Arkin merely barked a laugh, amused by the man's intelligence and his free tongue, similar to Arkin himself.

The man turned to Arkin and asked clearly whether they were of the Band. The other scouts didn't deal well with having an intelligent man around, and Arkin couldn't help but laugh at the lack of forethought the man displayed. He asked their origin because he wanted to know, he was curious, not because of any result their identity would have on him.


The man's nerves quickly showed themselves as he hurriedly re-asserted his oh so threateing armed state before Arkin could respond.


Everyone's eyes widened as the man raised his obscure weapon over his head. His face quickly fell and a look of horror put everyone on alert as the call to hit the floor went up. Fast reflexes which were a trademark of the scouts made sure that most of the crew did as they were bid before the blades flew out of either end of the man's staff.

Arkin, who was closest to the man and directly in the blades, grabbed the newest, rawest recruit who was standing right behind him with paralytic shock over his face, and threw him down to the ground. Arkin himself didn't bother-he was much shorter than the blade's trajectory.

Opposite him, the scouts' biggest member sidestepped from the blade's path and grunted as it buried into the tree beside his head. He scowled at Pahl and wrenched the staff from his grip, throwing it over to Arkin, who caught it in one hand and pulled up the guy he'd forced to the floor with one end.


Holding out a hand to the man who had wielded the weapon and leaning on his staff, Arkin grinned and nodded. "Not to worry friend, we are indeed of the Band of the Red Hand. And who would you be, with your amazing technology?"

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  • 3 weeks later...

"Technology. Right," Pahl muttered, failing to notice the man's proffered hand as he made his way to the first of the two trees, donning his gloves as he went. "I wuh-would not call something that never works when it needs to work 'technology.'" Taking a firm grip on the blade, Pahl leaned backward, pulling the blade out of the tree. This also resulted in another fall, but he did not care. At least the blade had not stuck too firmly, this time. As he walked to the other tree, Pahl continued. "Muh-my name is Pahl. Pahl Ebersol. I... am an inventor. And a good one at that." You really do have a flair for the dramatic, Pahl thought as he listened to his response. No stutter or anything.


Looking at the various men and women around him, Pahl became aware of several people looking at the wooden haft in his hand, then to the remaining blade in its tree. "Wuh-well, except for thuh-this damned thing." With a growl, Pahl dropped the handle and kicked it as it fell. It flew over the heads of the gathered scouts and bounced off a tree with a mournful twang of coiled springs releasing. Immediately, he blushed. Stupid! Stupid! As he took hold of the second blade, Pahl muttered in embarassment, "Um... could suh-someone puh-please go find that? I need to rebuild it."


Another lean and another encounter with gravity later, Pahl stood and examined the blade. "Catch sheared off. Spring too tight, then? Can't be. Less tension, the blades do not come out fully. Might need to strengthen the catch. Err..." Slowly, Pahl became aware of the men and women again. Their stares felt like needles prickling his skin. "Err... sorry, everyone. I tuh-tend to get caught up in things." The man who had first spoken was still closest to him. "You are the Band, then? Guh-good! I've been luh-looking for you for awhile now. You are not easy to find." Pulling himself up to his full height, Pahl thrust out what little chest he had and adopted what he believed to be a military look. "I'd like to report for duty, sah!"

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  • 1 month later...

(Ooc: So sorry! I thought I'd already posted my response to this!)


Both Arkin and the other scouts continued to grin as he watched the little man duck about, retrieving his blades and displaying his temper. His mood swings were large in proportions, but also held a clinical feel to them, a feeling of contained emotion.

Following a step behind the man who obviously had a good brain in his head, but few ways of expressing it, Arkin didn't bother to remove his smirk, merely clasping his hands behind his back and bouncing on his toes.


"Pahl, then, lovely to meet you. I'm Corporal Arkin Fletcher." Arkin couldn't help but grin at his new title. Who would ever have picked him as a corporal? "Reporting for duty then, hmm?" he queried amiably.


There was an audible twang and Arkin's brow furrowed in confusion for a moment until he saw some part of Pahl's impressive construction fly off into the bushes. The inventor quickly ask for it to be retrieved. Arkin's brain, still wired for performance, quickly analysed the man's lack of confidence in his voice and stance, storing away his slight stutter for later thought. He quickly waved a hand for the newest scout to go and collect the part while Pahl continued to talk to himself in such a way that he seemed to forget where he was and who he was with, everyone, in fact, except the malfunctioning staff in his hands.


When he eventually recalled his situation, which Arkin was waiting for him politely to do (not hard seeing as how amusing it was for the ex-thief), Pahl drew himself up into a military stance, so obviously never used that Arkin had to bite the inside of his cheek to stop from bursting into laughter. He didn't want to hurt the man's feelings, after all. The same could not be said for the rest of the unit.


Rolling his eyes as the rest of the scouts began to snigger, Arkin threw his bright grin at the inventor. "Well, you've come to the right place! Why don't you tell me your story a bit as we walk to the Citadel?" he asked.

The man could barely handle his weapon, but he had brains in his head, and that staff had great potential. The Band could use some brains like his, and if the man was faking his good nature, well...Arkin feathered a touch over the knives at his belt, throwing a glance at the other scouts that had set up a casual circle around the inventor.


He was sure that the inventor would notice this, but he was also sure that he'd understand. And besides, the man needed to get used to a little bit of intimidation if he was ever to be introduced to Arinth.

Edited by The Bard Babe
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Something, maybe some sort of shared thought, seemed to amuse the men surrounding Pahl; there was sniggering all around him. Pahl was confused. He could not see any possible source for the amusement, unless they were laughing at the man that the spokesman, who had named himself as Corporal Ar.. Ada... Pahl sighed. He had already forgotten the man's name. Etiquette and social expectations had always been a struggle for Pahl, even though he tried. It was a relief when the scout returned with the length of wood that would only work as a club for the near future.


The Corporal smiled brightly at Pahl, which drew him out of his quiet embarrassment. "Well, you've come to the right place! Why don't you tell me your story a bit as we walk to the Citadel?" The man's cheery disposition was refreshing. Pahl was not sure exactly what he was expecting of the men and women of the Band when he met them, but warmth and friendliness had been completely unexpected. The Corporal's hands played over the handles of his knives, which Pahl ignored. Likely, he was being a good soldier and making sure that he still had his weapons. The other scouts in the party had formed a circle around Pahl, as well, which brought a broad grin to Pahl's face. He was being escorted! Like he was important! These men and women were nothing like he was expecting!


Excitedly, Pahl began to talk to this friendly man, this Corporal... Whatever His Name Was. "I'm from ar-Arad Doman. Yuh-used to be a c-c-clock maker, luh-like my father." Pahl smiled as he remembered his time back home. The painstakingly precise work of clock-making, which had come so naturally to him, was not enough of a challenge to keep him occupied. "My fuh-father thought that I nuh-nuh-needed to wuh-work with other things, suh-so I worked in suh-several places in our vuh-village."


Another unseen rock caused Pahl to stumble and flail about. After a few unstable moments, he regained his footing. Taking a look around, a blush beginning to warm his face, Pahl saw that several of the scouts had weapons out. All of them were eyeing him carefully. The blush became deeper. They must have been worried about him. Maybe they had heard something that sounded threatening. Pahl felt another smile come across his face, cutting through the blush. They really were nice people.


"Anywuh-way," Pahl continued as the group resumed their forward progress, "I soon wuh-worked my way out of the vuh-village, a-a-and I duh-decided that I wuh-wuh-wanted to do something more wuh-with my life. I huh-huh-heard stories about the buh-Band, and I fuh-felt that I might buh-be appreciated here." Smiling at the men and women around him, Pahl added, "It looks luh-like I was ruh-right."

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  • 2 months later...

Arkin listened carefully through Pahl's little history, his knives flying out of their sheaths when the inventor stumbled slightly. Quickly re-sheathing them, he shared a look with Farrow behind Pahl's back as he regained his balance. Farrow too had pulled out his sword, and had not yet sheathed it.


As Pahl continued on his way, casting a grin around the group, Arkin felt his brow crease. What about this man's situation was worth grinning about? Arkin himself more than understood the virtue of a smile but unless this fellow was dreadfully nervous, he must have been under some kind of delusion as to his carefully guarded position. Shaking his head and sending a soft jangle through the area, Arkin reached up to replace his bandanna whilst Pahl continued speaking.


Why would a man of intelligence like that want to join any form of militia? One half of his brain worked on that whilst the other speedily analysed the man's stutter. It came and went depending on what seemed to be his state of nervousness and the length of his speeches. It was easily understood and Arkin found it slightly endearing. He felt a grin come to his face as they led the little man through the forest. Well, he was no judge on the motives of a man to turn up looking for the Citadel. The majority of the Band were lost creatures, running from a past life, or trying to find in themselves some worth that they themselves could not find alone. Pahl just wanted to help. Not for the last time, Arkin considered that the Band could use more brains like Pahl's.


The trees thinned out and Arkin smiled at the sight of the Citadel. Turning to Pahl, he gestured towards the walls and roads and smells he now knew so well. "I have to say I'm intrigued as to why a man with your brains and ah, skills, is coming to a military cause, but I can't say I'm complaining. Let's see if we can't find the recruit master." he said as the rest of the scouts peeled off to go and find a drink or some other post-scouting entertainment.


"So do you have a particular division in mind for the Band? No offence intended, but if you mean to make a combat unit then you may have to work on, well, combat."

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