RP:Duty is Heavier Than a Mountain
Part of the Death is Lighter Than a Feather Arc
The world spun in a timeless dance, the sheer ebon and infiltrating opal of existence mingling in a myriad of vague and indistinctive hues to form faint sensations of reality in a ne’er ceasing plethora of events; times past, times present and things yet to be. Cenril burned, Kelay fell to blight and the elves of Sage were slaughtered by the black hands of their brethren. Rheece saw it all in a flash that seemed to stretch on eternally. With a sentience and still lacking a form he paved his way throughout times past and times to come, watching as the world folded upon itself and rebuilt in the same perpetual breath. Breath. It caught in his chest and suddenly it did not come, was he to die. Moments flew by in stilted anguish and then relief, oxygen flooded his lungs and the colossal black of his vision drifted away to spots of light and recognition. The girl, the thunder and the storm. Sensation returned at length and he felt the hard embrace of stone beneath his beaten body, back still stricken from the branch which caught him off-guard and his shoulder still riddled with the detrimental after thought of the poisonous dagger. The girl. Where was she, did she survive. Sea green eyes swept the restricted line of his current sight, hoping and praying that she was not with him, that she had escaped whatever fate had befallen him.
The rise and fall of Astrid's chest, the sensation of musculature working to draw in breath and then expel it was real but her addled brain couldn't perceive the movements as anything but a figment of her imagination. She had come to accept the fact that she was no longer of the world, and had risen to a higher plane of existence, but if swimming through blackness was all she'd be doing for the rest of time, she must have done something horrendous to offend the gods, but what? She had lived a simple enough life, she cared for those who couldn't care for themselves, she loved others, and the only person she ever purposefully hit was Krice- surely that wasn't what had her floating through a benign layer of Hell. Prayer might be the only way to escape this pit of nothing, and as she turned herself to assume the kneeling position, a rather sharp object poked into her hip. She tried again, and was met with another uncomfortable sensation against her ribs. Her hands reached for the sharp entity digging into her side, and eventually Astrid's fingers curled around a rock. A rock? What was a rock doing here? As she fought to determine the purpose of the rock, a light began to curl around the outer reaches of her vision; until it was so bright she had to shield her eyes with her hand. It took a while before she was able to remember that Rheece had been struck to, that the boy might have suffered the same fate as her, so she forced her eyes open despite the uncomfortable light shooting daggers of pain into her head and scanned the area through narrowly lidded lids. She was met with his back, rather than his front and because she hadn't witnessed him move within the seconds of her eyes being truly open, she managed to force herself into a somewhat seated position. "Hey! You're alive right?" Her voice was genuinely worried, and she sought to move closer to his felled form by crawling across the rocky ground.
The movement behind him was hear for certain and with the first whispers of the female assuming a more comfortable position Rheece closed his eyes, seeking desperately to regain the full use of his ocular faculties. The youth makes very little move to come about and face the female, despite the unerringly cruel nature of the stone bed he found himself lying on, “Yeah, I’m good, I’m good. Thanks, you? Are you all okay? Nothing broken, I hope, would be a shame, pretty girl like you!” He barks a laugh toward the end of his pained timbre, a brave face in front of the horrifying clarity that was fast becoming his reality; his eyes, they could not focus. The world was a series of blurred objects and fuzzy shapes, the horizon a wave of enveloping cloud and the ground before him a parchment of scattered greys and other hubris. “I..uh…maybe I’m not so good, my eyes, they can’t seem to focus. I don’t want to panic you or anything but yes, I can’t see worth a grain of salt, miss. Must have been the lightning, oh Light help me I hope this passes.” A frantic tinge of fear was audible now in his verbal deluge before it was reigned in harshly and his voice croaked another question aimed at the woman behind him, “What can you see?”
Astrid’s own vision wasn't up to par either, but she could focus on the shore and Rheece; anything past a five foot radius wasn't nothing more than bright lights and blurred objects, but the chalked up her inability to the fact that her eyes were still growing used to the environment and source of light after having her eyes closed for so long. His question pertaining to her well-being spurned a fervent need to scrutinize her body thoroughly, and after moving every limb and joint and checking for cuts or scrapes, she decided she wasn't any worse for wear than a few bruises and cuts brought on by the sharpness of the rocks. "No, nothing's broken." Since Rheece claimed he, too, was alright, she slowed her progression towards him until she was sitting behind him. The mention of his inability to see properly developed into a worry, and she reached for his shoulder to pull him over onto his back. "Let me see." While she wasn't proficient in healing magically yet, she could at least try. "There's not much to see anyway. Lots of rocks and seaweed and the ocean." After listing what she could see, she realized that this wasn't the place that they had been at before the storm. "I don't know where we are, but it isn't where we were before the storm, that's for sure." Astrid managed to school her voice into a stoic octave, where neither her fear or the pain of her bruises could be heard. "Here, lay your head here, and let me take a look at your eyes." Her hands sought to gently angle his head across her thighs while she simultaneously surveyed his body for any other signs of weakness.
Rheece doesn’t need much convincing to roll over onto his back, supressing a groan as his back is riddled with a momentary, shooting pain. “Agh, Light, I’m bloody useless in this state.” His verdigris hued gaze stares up blankly at the sky which is nothing but a blur of clouded sapphire to his hazy stare. “Not sure what you can do for me, this seems like something that a bandage can’t fix? I’m no physician but…” he negates to answer his own foretelling of doom, what if his sight never returned, what use would he be then, either in their escape from this new environment or in the Guard should he ever return. “I bet we are just off the coast of Cenril or something, maybe washed over by a wave and taken down shore or something, I don’t really remember much after that bolt hit us but maybe…” He didn’t sound too hopeful, for one the inner layers of his clothing seemed to be dry enough, unlikely he spent any amount of time submerged under water and what were the chances if they both were taken by the sea to land together, “What do you remember of things?” Despite his questions he was a good student, remaining still and quiet if necessary and requested, his pain threshold fairly poor in general but when it came to being delicately handled by a female it tended to increase a notch or two, for bravado’s sake.
"I have no doubt that a bandage could fix your sight, but we don't exactly have one right now. And I'm just going to take a look, so close your eyes." Once he had, her index fingers settled against his temples, while her thumbs pressed lightly against his lids. No light hovered over her hands, or colored the air around her touch, no chant of words or arcane circles drawn- instead, a minute vibration might be felt, more of a warm humming sensation than anything else. "It doesn't feel like any permanent damage has been done… We need to find something to cover your eyes with for now." Her own shirt was considered, but the fact that the material was white deterred her simply because it wouldn't block any light from seeping through. "Your clothes might work. Do you mind if I ruin them?" It would be more practical to just rip off a strip without permission, but practicality was never Astrid's best suit. "If not, well… I don't know what we could use."
A little of Rheece’s good humour was restored with confidence in Astrid’s movements, the steadiness of her voice and the minor vibrations of what could only be an arcanic grasp of healing flowing through his system, “Oh yeah, that ol’ chestnut, I’ve heard that one before!” He jests, his edgy tone lightening a touch as he gazes upward blankly at what he can hazily make out to be her head, “Just don’t try anything funny, you hear?” His wry attempts at a laugh are cut off by a spluttering cough, Light, he really was worse for wear. Rheece would let Astrid tend to his eyes and whatever else she deemed fit in silence, posing this following question only when he was allowed a moment of opportunity, “So from what you see around here, where do you think we should go?” Nimble hands fumble downward in search of his long belt knife which has become unsheathed in his rough placement upon this foreign floor – the leather wrapped hilt of the blade obvious no more than two feet away, “Ah, Sven strike me down, I’ve lost my blade. You got something sharp I can use – y’know just in case?” A good natured shrug follows his request, though offering a blind man a knife surely cannot be safe!
Astrid had appeared only truly worried about Rheece's eyes, because the moment that no damage could be found, she slid his head from her lap, and nudged his shoulder. "You need to put your arm over your eyes until I can get you moved to another place with more shade. And no, I don't have a knife on me, I don't own one." She paused to look around, and with plenty of sharp rocks at hand, she picked out a long, slender piece with an edge sharp enough to fray rope if enough pressure was applied. "This is the best I can do for now." She murmured as she pressed the natural weapon into his hand. "I'm going to go have a look around. Surely there's someone around here that can fix your eyes better than I can, and I'll try to figure out where we are. I'll be back soon. Take a nap or something, maybe that will help your eyes a bit." She patted his head gently before pushing herself onto her feet, and despite the stiffness of her joints, and a pain in her ankle, she managed to hobble from Rheece and their drop point without so much as a grunt of pain.
Astrid hadn't intended for the trek towards civilization, or at least towards where she thought civilization might lie, to take as long as it had; it might have taken less time if her knee and hip wasn't bruised from the harsh treatment of the Cenril storm and the equally harsh ground she had wound up on. The scenery was foreign, she realized, but she hoped that the palm trees and rocky shoreline would fade into sandy beaches and the familiar sea side, heathen filled town of Cenril she had grown to love. Unfortunately, that dream never came true, and instead of Cenril, Astrid was met with a small village of strange shacks, and strange people. Plagued with an all too trusting nature, she sought out for the friendliest of faces and asked for directions to the nearest healer. She had no money, and no means of paying for her supplies, and though she explained her situation, no aid was given. Reduced to desperate measures, she employed tactics learned from her shady youth. Thankfully, the village offered stalls that bore fabrics, food and miscellaneous products. Taking advantage of distracted owners, and under the cover of customers, she managed to get away with a satchel, five apples, two coconuts, and a roll of black fabric that had previously been intended for quilting purposes. Despite the success she found, but Astrid couldn't bring herself to take more than absolutely necessary, and since the market didn't provide a medicinal stall, she had plenty to survive off now. By the time she made it back to where she had left Rheece, it had been a little over an hour and a half, and she was exhausted.
Rheece had tried to sleep, he really had, his head bobbing up and down on his chest in that oh-so-infuriating way that ended up with him remaining unrested and with an unpleasant crick in his neck. Light, it felt like he hurt everywhere, neck, shoulder, back and well every nook and cranny that had absorbed the brutal impact of his being dispatched here. The youth's eyes remained blindfolded for the moment, his hands clinging to the crude dagger as if it were all that separated him from life and death and perhaps it would at that; his head cocked to one side in a vain attempt to take full advantage of his aural faculties. With Astrid's approach he is suddenly alerted, albeit the sound of footsteps only registering when she is a lot closer than he would care to have thought had she been a stranger, "Hey..." he whispers, "..is that you, how did you do? Are you okay? Are we near Cenril?" The Guard's nose wrinkles momentarily, "I know this sounds weird but it doesn't much smell like Cenril around here. Don't ask why I think that. In fact everything smells strange to me at the moment." A perplexed expression dons the sharp angles of his face as he turns completely toward Astrid, suddenly very much aware of something he had failed to noticed previously, "-You- smell different, or well you did earlier too but now I can really get it, I just thought it was something in this area. You...smell.." He lapses into silence, it suddenly occurring to him that he must sound mad, he didn't want her thinking the storm had knocked his brain loose inside his skull, "Never mind, how did it go?" he sheepishly finished instead.
Astrid released a heavy sigh of relief the moment she saw Rheece again; the trek to and from the village had completely restored her vision, and she realized how unlike Cenril this place truly was. A thick jungle flanked a good stretch of the rocky beach, and only thinned out once one was to reach the town to the east. "Not so good, I'm afraid, and yes I'm fine." She slid the stolen satchel from her shoulder and dropped that down beside Rheece before following suit. Before she could answer whether or not this place was Cenril, Rheece began on about the scents of this place. Despite the fact that he couldn't see, Astrid nodded her head along with his words until he trailed off. "No, you're right. It isn't Cenril. I got a better bandage for your eyes; the people I met weren't too hospitable when it came to not having any money." She didn't verbally acknowledge the fact that she stole their equipment as she pulled out the apples and sat two in Rheece's lap. "Here, eat." As he hopefully ate, she quickly sought to wrap the black strip of cloth around his head twice, and tie it against the crown of his head. "This will keep the sun out of your eyes, and we need to move somewhere else. There's a village about half an hour east of here, or if you're feeling stupid and brave, a jungle behind us." As she spoke, she tore away the husk of a coconut, and managed to beat two holes into the hard shell. "You need to drink this, considering we don't have any water. There's a hole right here." She sought out one of his hands, and took up his index finger to guide it to the hole she had made. "Don't spill any, there isn't a whole lot." Once she had made sure Rheece had finished at least one apple, and the coconut water, which she would be horribly pushy about should he refuse either, she finally asked, "What does this place, what do I smell like?"
Rheece is taken aback by the matronly manner which suddenly consumes Astrid, the apples and coconut mechanically chewed and drank almost as if a favour to her, although the truth of the matter was that his body was starved and he was incredibly grateful but something deep down inside of him had acting up like a child; weird how people can regress. "Yes, yes, thank you, thank you, I'll eat it!" He huffs for only a short time, acknowledging the woman, or where he assumes her to be with an ingratiating smile at every chance, "I suppose it's better that I don't ask how you managed to come by these when you said people weren't so keen on you when you had no cash." Letting it slide because without the assembled supplies things would have been a lot worse, "Thanks though, seriously." The all-encompassing black of the wrap was a such a welcome relief he found himself sighing, breathing in deep the fetid air of this place which only resulted in more wrinkling of his nose, though he found it easier, if only slightly, to separate them now. Whilst carefully handling the proffered coconut he begins to attempt to put words and phrases to the scents that float on the air. Masked by the blindfold very little of Rheece's facial expressions are on display, so his words carry a sort of monotone perplexion, almost as if every sentence ends with a question, "It's uh, well strange you know. This place smells bad, not like waste or anything but worse than that as if I don't know it is very strange. I have never encountered a scent like it in my life. Can you not smell it? That can't be good, maybe I just took a knock to the head." His head has turned almost as if to survey Astrid now, his chin slightly lifted as he attempts to drink in her scent, "For what it's worth, you smell good -- not like the usual way you do but like -good- as in pure or something. As if you could wash away the smell of this rotting place and replace it with a goodness to it. I don't know how to explain it. It's not like a perfume, I don't know." The youth just shakes his head, "I really don't know what I'm babbling on about. Maybe I should have got some rest, heh, I could be going crazy." He winces, way to inspire confidence, Rheece.
Astrid was unused to the fact that Rheece was currently blind, even with the bandaged that covered his eyes, because she nodded along with his words while she herself worked on devouring her own fruit. "I can't smell anything but the sea." She managed around a mouthful of apple in answer to his question. But as he continued on, she found herself surveying the area as if it held a blatant danger she hadn't noticed before. When he described her scent being pure rather than the normal jasmine perfume she usually donned in the mornings, she arched a brow questioningly, but said nothing until he was entirely finished with his explanation. "I don't think you're going crazy," she murmured thoughtfully after a while. "My ex-boyfriend had a rather uncanny ability to scent things; it was almost as if he had the nose of a hound, but then again, his abilities didn't extend beyond that of, well smells. He couldn't tell if something were wholly evil, or wholly pure by the perfume they gave off. And I've certainly seen and heard stranger things. But then again, you could be hallucinating or something due to hunger, sun sickness or dehydration. Who knows?" Despite her words, Astrid's tone of voice never dipped into the sceptical octaves of a disbeliever. "The village I found wasn't anything to boast about, and their way of living was entirely too simple, or at least that's what I saw when I was there, so they could have denied me hospitality simply because they couldn't afford to give me a hand-out." Astrid was far too gullible for her own good at most times, and often found herself finding excuses for behaviour, and giving someone the benefit of the doubt all too frequently. Once she had finished her second apple, she placed the last remaining one in Rheece's lap, and knocked two more holes into the second coconut so she could have a sip of the water that had gathered inside. "Go ahead and drink the rest of this too." She searched the rest of the satchel she had stolen, not because she expected more items to be inside, but because she wanted to know how much she could hold. "Do you have anything on you that you might be able to trade for boarding somewhere? If not, I'm sure I can scrounge up some money offering help somewhere. We just really need to get out of the sun for the sake of your eyes."
Rheece listens intently to Astrid's medical diagnosis of his possible illness, a slightly pallid tinct claiming what remains on display of his cheeks as he swallows a draught of coconut exasperatedly, "Ah ha, yeah, maybe those things, heh, aren't you just a ray of sunshine." At least some of his good nature remained, "You're right about this sun though, maybe we should make a move -- I can finish the food later, I feel loads better already." The second coconut was declined, "You need it as much as me, drink up and we'll get some more later, no worries." With a lopsided grin he makes to stand, wobbly at first but finding residence on the rocks and some semblance of stately balance after a long moment, "See, good as new. I might need you to guide me through any rough patches though. Heh." The fact he was such a burden made him grind his teeth, so much for being the hero in an adventure, speaking his thoughts he awaits her touch before moving, "This certainly isn't how it is in the books I've read, you're the hero and I'm the damsel -- I can never let the lads in the Guard find out about this, I'll never hear the end of it." A faint frown disappears as soon as it comes, "Do you think we should maybe head back to the town, try find a stable to bed down in and maybe attack the new day tomorrow rested and well?" Regardless of her response, Rheece is ready to move at her beckoning, proving to be light on his feet and relatively sure on the stony outcroppings or whichever way Astrid should deign to take them, if they head toward the city he would only make minor complaints about the 'smell' but should move toward the jungle at any point the youth would voice considerable reservations speaking of the fetid stench and surety of rotting flesh on the air. However, as he was at her whim he would follow as requested; his right hand clutching the shank and his left darting between reaching out to touch Astrid for balance and balling into a useless fist at his own failings.
Astrid finished the coconut in the wake of Rheece's refusal of it, and tossed it, and the one he had finished prior into the satchel; if they couldn't find anything to eat later, then the remaining fruit would have to do. "I promise not to tell anyone about your current predicament. And if you want, I'm sure once you can see again, I'll find some way to stumble into trouble, and you can take your rightful role as hero, and I the damsel." With everything packed away and her bag slung over her shoulder, she rose in time with Rheece and took hold of his elbow. "The rocks thin out a bit up a ways, so it the whole walk shouldn't be unbearable." She hadn't wanted to diminish the remaining amount of his independence, so occasionally, she released his arm for small stretches of time until either he reached out for her for stability, or she needed to turn his trajectory back toward the village. "The suns setting, so by the time we get there, it shouldn't be bright enough to cause further damage to your eyes. I'm going to take the blindfold off before we get there so people don't assume you're weak and unable to defend yourself." She didn't insult him by saying that he couldn't, even though at the moment he'd probably lose within seconds of a fight. "When I find us a place to sleep, I'll put it back on." Once they made it into town, and Rheece's blindfold hidden within her satchel, she steered them towards a small, run-down in she had passed by previously. Once there-in, she left Rheece's side and strolled up to the counter. "Is the owner in?" She asked, and the conversation soon turned into a small, untruthful explanation that she and her husband's small boat had snagged on the reef and sported an unfortunate hole, and they were stuck here until they could find a way to repair the damage. They had no money, but she was willing to clean the kitchens or any rooms that needed it in exchange for hospitality. In the end, they were granted a key to a small room with promise that Astrid not only cleaned the kitchens entirely, but cleaned the three other rooms and laundered the sheets and rugs. They could stay until the bargain had been settled or until they could pay for the amenities they used. "Thank you, we're both exhausted and we appreciate you letting us stay here." The place wasn't much to brag about, and the dilapidated bar hosted a menagerie of unseemly guests, most of who regarded the pair of new comers with a greedy, hedonistic stare. "Come on, we have a key, let's go." And with that, she led Rheece up the rickety stairs to their procured room and quickly locked the door in their wake.