|7-17-09: Our lives are made in these small hours, these little wonders, these twists & turns of fate
||[Jul. 21st, 2009|05:14 pm]
The Chronicle of Aldencia: Saving the Kingdom
In the morning, while Bendigar and Nahla prepped for the upcoming journey to Irenia and Keleroth went back to research, Dora, Oertan, and Matthias returned to Romdas after their night in the gypsy camp, each checking on Elara. While Oertan remained with her, and Matthias went off to do his administrative work, Dora went in search of Theodor, who was also seeking her. The woodsman apologized for not being there for Dora with what had happened to her sister, and after explaining her feelings, Dora forgave him. Then, with great pleasure, she shared the truth – she and Theodor were going to have a baby. Though the shock took a few minutes to sink in, shortly Theodor was overwhelmed. The morning passed quickly after that as both began rearranging their thoughts with this new little reality peeking through. Dora also spoke to the Ojaluche about her child, and the sphere replied simply that it was singing to the unborn baby and sharing a little of its own light and joy.
Over lunch, the secret began spilling out slowly. Dora’s glow was telling enough for Bendigar and Nahla to pick up on the joyous news, but Matthias, without the benefit of sight, could only conclude that Theodor and Dora had had a very “pleasant” morning. Keleroth, his head still buried in centuries-old research, misinterpreted the couple’s joy entirely, instead fearing that another curse had been laid on Romdas. Unfortunately, Nahla, sitting beside him, chose not to illuminate him to the true state of things, instead barely suppressing her laughter at his confusion. At the end of the meal, Matthias pulled Keleroth aside, trying to set the firemage’s mind at ease; with this hint from Matthias, Keleroth at last understood the true state of things, and then unknowingly notified Matthias of the pregnancy as well.
The afternoon was spent in mostly lighter spirits than usual for the group, though Matthias continued his usual duties without much extra happiness. Dora and Theodor made a visit to the gypsy camp to share their news. They also made it clear to the Menderskin that, though they intended to marry, and very possibly reside with the clan after the end of the war, they would not hold the ceremony until Elara was well, for it was she they wished to bind them. Meanwhile, Keleroth had resolved to make up for his mistake over lunch by crafting the couple a gift – a congratulatory, illuminated manuscript. However, such an endeavor was quite complicated, including one disastrous incident with ink all over the library, and he made slow progress. Sometime during the afternoon, Bendigar and Nahla joined him, seeking maps. The two had been discussing their own futures, given the news at lunch, and had come upon an interesting possibility. A map of the northern lands confirmed it – the valley in which Nahla’s family lived was part of the estate that would be Bendigar’s upon his father’s death. Tempting as it was to lord over her own family who had treated her so ill some years prior, Nahla and Bendigar both preferred to travel, calling upon his barding skills and largely ignoring the noble lifestyle.
Just before dinner, Keleroth gave his congratulations to Theodor and Dora, presenting his gift with as much heartfelt flourish as he could, and both warmly appreciated it. Theodor also began planning to frame it. The evening meal was a cheerful one, though the talk of children and life after the war became difficult for Matthias and he excused himself early to sit with Oertan and tell the boy stories. While Dora, Nahla, and Theodor remained at the table to talk, Keleroth and Bendigar decided to go into the courtyard to spar – it had been several days since either had been particularly active. However, while trying a new attack, Bendigar failed to parry a blow, taking a great smashing hit to his unprotected head. Bendigar dropped, and Keleroth was at a loss for what to do – he was no healer, there was no one about, and his friend was hurt. Rushing as fast as he could in search of Dora, he finally located her with the others in the dining hall (after a false stop in Elara’s room), leading them out to Bendigar. Nahla and Theodor carried the wounded man to his bed while Dora did what she could to make him comfortable – the blow, though severe, was not fatal; he would likely be fine when he woke up. Keleroth reported the accident to Matthias, and was strictly lectured, before making himself scarce for the night. Matthias checked on Bendigar, but certain that he was in good hands, returned to Elara’s room. Dora and Nahla agreed to watch over Bendigar, both grateful when he at last woke some hours later, and if Nahla slept very little, Dora slept not at all having not woken her friend for a shared night watch.
Meanwhile, Oertan asked Matthias again if he could accompany the group, having overheard in Matthias’s lecture to Keleroth of their destination. Matthias, concerned on so many levels, told Oertan the story of a son whose father could not protect him, and explained how much he and Elara would hurt if something happened to the boy. Oertan correctly guessed that Matthias was speaking of his own son, and agreed to remain behind to protect Elara and to live for all their sakes, but only as long as Matthias would promise to come back. The boy argued that it wouldn’t be fair to anyone if Matthias wasn’t there when Elara finally opened her eyes. Matthias promised. As Oertan hugged him, his boyish heart as fond of Matthias as he was of any other adopted parent, he shook slightly. Explaining that, like his mother, Oertan was touched with a bit of prophecy, the boy said that he felt scary things ahead for Matthias, things that they would probably survive as long as he was there, and that a butterfly was important. Matthias soothed the boy, tucking him in beside his mother and sitting with him until he fell asleep. That night, Matthias dreamed of the conversation, now able to watch the emotions play across the boy’s face, and woke glad that Oertan had agreed to remain behind. However, he did ask Oertan to keep Elara’s other earring so they could find one another if anything went wrong in Matthias’s absence.
With these goodbyes, Matthias’s group and 6 guards rode for Mendoza, escorted by a small group of gypsies. With gypsy saddles and cloaks, they were indistinguishable from outriders from a clan from a distance. The journey took 5 days, during which Bendigar fully recovered from his head injury and everyone else had time to reacquaint themselves with the fine art of long-distance riding. However, upon arrival at Mendoza, they learned that the city had barred its gates against “bandits;” the riders Matthias had sent ahead confirmed that the city had closed itself off in fear of the army and was only permitting its own fishing boats out and back from the harbor. However, a nearby cove was serving for those still shipping (aka smuggling), and among the ships moored there was one belonging to Captain Trevor Vartain. The captain was willing to accept these passengers once again to Stone Cove in Irenia, though he lamented that Elara was not present for flirting. Matthias spent several days in a sharp-witted debate with Vartain, both enjoying the sparring as long as it did not turn to Elara. Vartain did possess some useful information on the situation in Irenia, mostly regarding Red Wolf’s increasing military strength and Crom’s seemingly random push towards the interior of Irenia, heading in a definite straight line but for what goal he could only speculate.
The journey was meant to be relatively easy, though longer than the previous one – given the warships in the area, Vartain was taking a rather roundabout route to the Cove. On the third day at sea, Theodor became extremely ill from some bad water, but Dora was able to set him to rights. On the fourth day, before making the Cove at low tide at midnight, a sail was sighted. After a few anxious moments, Vartain ordered anyone with the appropriate skills to deck and the others below: approaching fast was a warship of Crom’s army, and a battle was therefore unavoidable.