The Hollow Road (Between Djose and Rabao) Feb 24, 2012 17:01:47 GMT -5
Post by Bharune on Feb 24, 2012 17:01:47 GMT -5
[[A continuation of Familiar Sights [Djose Temple] ]]
As the reluctant summoner and stigmatized mage left the twisting roads of Djose, Lucien summarized the events that had led up to him seeking out someone capable of performing a Sending.
Nearly a week ago, he’d arrived at Rabao from Deling City with every intention of investigating Djose Temple, and had spent the night comfortably at an inn near the port. Before he left Rabao, though, an older Galkan merchant he’d spent some time with during the voyage sought him out and begged him to aid in the search of his adopted hume daughter, who’d gone missing several days prior to the man’s return, likely exploring the surrounding stretch of uninhabited land. The merchant received a ransom letter from a gang of thieves and scavengers for an exorbitant fee that he could not pay and, being new to the city of Rabao, failed to raise the sympathies of the fellow residents enough to meet the price. The small militia was also reluctant to get involved, having their hands amply occupied with the increased ferocity of energy-sensitive fiends and wary of the potential cost of warring with the scavengers.
Lucien, who was not in any rush to Djose and secretly appreciative of the Galka’s company, agreed to scout out the location of the encampment, suspected to be buried in the dense forest south of the port. Despite the Galka’s insistence that he accompany the mage, Lucien reasoned that he could travel much more quickly and discreetly without the decrepit hulk, possibly retrieving the girl using stealth. The Galka didn’t question his ability to achieve this end.
But it was quickly rendered unnecessary, as Lucien was met with blood and death when he discovered the encampment. The work of a pack of fiends, from the look of the leftovers – bodies ripped apart and partially devoured. It was odd, since there were no tribal fiends of such a dangerous disposition and ability in the area, but the nature of the destruction was of little concern to Lucien. He found the young woman’s body and took a memento of hers back to the merchant, who was understandably devastated. Both the beloved lady and the majority of the thieves were of Spiran origin, so the Galka made the final request of Lucien to seek a summoner during his visit to Djose.
It didn’t matter to the redhead whether or not Rheis believed his story, nor did he attempt to convince him or present any corroborating evidence – the summoner would assume as he assumed, it made little difference.
After a mere few hours of travel down the road that sliced the forest and would, eventually, break into dry wilderness, the deep sun had already started swathing the sky in fiery hues. Much of the journey was conducted in silence, but even though Lucien didn’t feel the need to fill that emptiness with banter he didn’t refrain from posing the occasional question, usually about local flora and fauna. Such inquiries were most often preceded and succeeded by a thoughtful stretch broken only by the chirruping of insects and flittering birds, but once in awhile Lucien verbalized a subsidiary train of thought or sly comment before leaving Rheis in peace once again. The redhead, accustomed to long periods of solitude, had no difficulty in entertaining himself and never once complained of fatigue or boredom.
He was never bored, far too enraptured in his observations of the environment. His hardened, cryptic cynicism gradually faded more and more as time elapsed, leaving behind a disposition that was unusually receptive and insatiably curious. While these traits didn’t display on his features as obviously or as enthusiastically as a child’s, the openness with which he watched everything that captured those red orbs suggested an oddly similar characteristic. More than once he stopped to examine a colony of mushrooms (“Do you suppose these are toxic?”) or to follow a large lizard briefly out of sight (“Sharp dermal spines provide posterior protection, yet movements are flexible…”) or to study the weave of a discarded bird’s nest. Even at the dullest of sections Lucien found plenty worth observing, proving that nothing was mundane to the young mage – one might even suspect him of having never been outdoors before, but that wasn’t the case. He never travelled far from Rheis, though, nor did he ask Rheis to wait or slow down.
Any and all traces of this puerile, receptive nature disappeared as soon as that smirk touched his lips. No matter how faint, it subtly altered his features into something else entirely, evoking the profound and enigmatic disposition he had displayed earlier. This harder demeanor was used to meet any traveler they happened across, dissipating only with the return of the near-solitude Rheis’ company provided. Even with the cynicism that often tainted his perception, he didn’t move with the same weight as the summoner, as if there was nothing he regretted, nothing that pained or shamed or haunted him.
Once, they encountered a couple of territorial basilisks that had strayed to the road, but the beasts were quickly dispatched by the able pair. Despite all indications of being a mage, Lucien did not use his magic, relying on physical prowess regardless of the added danger. He didn’t reveal any additional abilities, nor did he speak of them, and he didn’t ask Rheis any potentially invasive questions about his own ability or religious creed. Even during their passing conversations, Lucien remained sensitive to the smallest shift in the summoner’s disposition, discarding any pursuit that caused him to harden.
Lucien liked Rheis, though this was not as difficult to achieve as most were inclined to believe. He didn’t expect Rheis would like him, but that didn’t matter. Most people didn’t – he was too different, too off-putting. Even before the branding by Ark, most shied away from him, deterred by how easily he dissected with his gaze and commanded confidence with his posture. Those who were attracted to him were often trouble, rising to some unspoken challenge initiated by his indomitable attitude. But, in the barest of truths, Lucien Serbanescu did not like solitude, and rarely did he choose it when an alternative was available.
“Night is rising quickly,” the mage remarked from Rheis’ side, keeping ever closer to the summoner’s steps as the darkness continued to deepen. “Luckily for us, I do believe the light ahead marks the warmth of an accommodating inn.”
He gestured towards the distance, where a small glow broke the trees, offset from the road a short way.
“It wouldn’t be prudent to travel the forest after nightfall, especially if whatever slaughtered the thieves happens to be feral rather than leashed.”
He laughed softly, the light sound passing from his lips and disappearing into the dusk chill.
“And I admit, my own vision suffers in poor light, even moreso than the average hume. We’re not far now; we can easily make it by mid-morning if you’re an early riser, as I suspect you are.”
He glanced at the taller man, offering that subtle curve of his lips. “I found the hosts to be cold and unwelcoming on my earlier travel through this region, but I’m sure the beds are clean and the water cool, at the very least.”