RP:Gearing Up for Desert Blizzards

From HollowWiki

Part of the I Got 99 Problems, and a Congenital Defect is One Arc

Synopsis: Josleen shops for new attire to help see her through the dangerous mission that lies ahead. Unfortunately, Josleen doesn't know weather resistant leather from insulated lining. Thankfully, a helpful elf ranger who identifies himself as Rhoss helps Josleen buy the clothes stressed for the weather she will encounter on her journey.

Merchant's Corner

Josleen inspects the quality of leather leggings, her brow furrowed in concentration despite the fact that she has no idea what she is looking for. The half-elf dons the uniform of the provincial civilian lady: floral dress, impractical boots, and nothing more than a small purse to carry around change and rouge for the lips and cheeks. Wedged between the crook of her elbow and ribs is a pair of boots designed for walking in dry, hot weather, but which would be completely useless in temperate forests and wetlands - any adventurer worth their salt would know that. Yet, the pants she inspects are designed for temperate forest climate. The pieces simply do not make any temperate set, and Josleen, who now picks up overly thick socks meant for a frozen tundra, seems clueless to her mistakes.

Rhosorien has been watching the woman who also occupies the shop as he tries on the same two pairs of boots, examining each with scrutiny before pulling his current set off to put on the other pair for the fourth time. At first he had glanced idly at her – for what man wouldn't? - but now he follows her progress with bemusement. Outdoors his whole life, as a ranger of the woods Josleen's mistakes are plain to Rhosorien, who eventually decides he can bare to watch no more. He settles into the elven-made boots (more out of principle than quality) and hastily replaces the other pair he had been considering, before rising and crossing towards the woman. “Ma'am,” he greets, with patience in voice, “may I ask where it is that you plan to go?”

Josleen welcomes Rhosorien with a pleasant smile prepared in advance, as if she was already aware of his attention and suspected that he would approach. It’s a talent native to most women, cultivated sometime soon after puberty and sharpened over the years. Handsome elf or not, Josleen is wary of divulging to strangers her plans and whereabouts. Her smile grows as a stalling tactic and she hesitates, hoping he can infer her discomfort at the question on his own without her needing to spell it out for him. That would be rude and unladylike - un-Josleen. Instead, she asks a question of her own to evade his and engage him in a way she prefers. “Oh, is it not evident from my selection?” She laughs airily. “I must admit, I feel like a fish out of water. I’m not exactly sure what I am looking for. You tell me, with this gear, where should I go?”

Rhosorien sees Josleen's discomfort plainly, but does not react to it – his passing smile does not warm, and he does not take a reassuring step-back. The social intricacies of 'civilised' folk, though known, are not his concern, and the elf thinks it folly to see anything beyond question and answer. “Someplace where you expect your feet to be dry but your legs to be wet,” he responds, this time cracking a grin, “such a place happens to be unknown to me, I would be thrilled to hear of it.” His fair hand lifts in a lazy, dismissive wave to show his jest, “the pants may serve you in all weathers, away from ice and snow. But you have chosen winter socks to pair with boots best suited to sun and sand."

Josleen maintains her pleasant smile and ease in the face of the woodsmen’s stoicism. The bard has encountered all sorts of personalities and is quite adaptable. It isn’t something she forces either. She can genuinely find something agreeable in most people, and in Rhosorien it’s especially easy. She grins sheepishly at his jest. Her cheeks flush pink. “Well, at least my feet would be well prepared for a sudden blizzard in the Nameless Desert.” She jokes feebly. “Let’s say that I was traveling through the sage forest and going on a caving adventure with some friends, and then suddenly found myself on windy moors. What would you recommend then?” Under the pretense of playfulness, she lets her eyes roam over the length of him when she over enunciates the word ‘you,’ when in fact she is collecting information about him by his dress and demeanor. Does he look like he is from around here? To what trade does he belong?

Rhosorien equipment speaks his trade loudly, from the forest-green cloak that shrouds him and the fitted leather pieces that clothe him to the bow and quiver slung over his shoulder – this elf is a ranger of the forest; surely one of few who remain, since the oppression by drow and duergar the elves seem to have suffered. Were his arms before him instead of clasped behind his back, Josleen would be able to see the few metallic armaments he wears. “That depends,” Rhosorien answers, after the considering the question with a brief silence, “the Sage paths are sturdy and will weather all steps, but amongst the growth of the glades moisture from the frequent rains may saturate the soles of padded boots best for walking amongst stone. Leather, I would recommend, with an especially sturdy sole. Perhaps thick socks may serve, but I personally would wear a more everyday pair, and compensate by lining the boots with fur. Fitted pants will serve, not too thick or the climbs of the caves may irritate you. And a cloak, as always.”

Josleen is struck by how much Rhosorien reminds her of her best friend and sister-by-choice, Skylei. This likeness puts Josleen at greater ease. Each word is no longer hyper-scrutinized before being uttered. She nods when appropriate to let him know that she understands and holds up new selections for his approval. “Like this?” “Or this one?” Rhosorien is a ranger-cum-shopping-assistant. This is the downside to reminding Josleen of Skylei; the bard ropes him into being her accomplice. Thankfully it’s only for a few minutes. Josleen has never worn a cloak outside a costume party, but this doesn’t stop her from agreeing, “Yes of course.” She makes a mental note to add a cloak to her purchase today, after Rhosorien has left. For some unexamined reason, the lack of cloak-ownership embarrasses. “I am Josleen, by the way.” A petite hand pokes out from beneath a cache of clothes draped precariously over her forearm. Her other hand is occupied with wrestling a pair of boots and several balls of socks. She sways to the left then the right, trying to keep the articles of clothing from falling onto the ground.

Rhosorien keeps his quiet throughout Josleen's shopping fervour, answering her queries with facial expression only. His hands remain at his back during the ordeal, and his preference for keeping them this way presents dilemma, when this new-found acquaintance extends her hand to find his. “Ah,” he utters upon a slow breath, then hitches his arms further up as he back as he instead steps back to find the room for a straight, almost cordial bow. “You may name me Rhoss,” Rhosorien responds with his first true smile, giving the name he uses whenever he is in the cities over the full moniker reserved for the company of elves, or rangers of other species. “Do let me,” now his hands separate and come forward, outstretched arms awaiting a share of the woman's burden, “for your ease.”

Josleen hadn’t thought anything of Rhoss’s arm-behind-the-back habit. He is an elf. A wooden affect is codified in his genes. However, when his arms seem to shimmy up his back and he bows, his behavior does inspire suspicion. Granted, it isn’t that she suddenly distrusts him, he has helped her far too earnestly for that, but rather that she suspects there may be something off about his behavior and character that she had missed early on in their encounter. Is he a germophobe? Does he not touch women due to some religious orthodoxy? The idea that he may have been fingering weapons at the ready - just in case - doesn’t cross her mind. She shares her heavy load, not the least bit shy about giving him the heavy boots and pants and retaining the lighter clothing for herself. “Thank you, Rhoss.” She scrunches up her nose cutely over a smile as she repeats his name. “‘Rhoss.’ That’s an atypical elf name, isn’t it? Is it short for something?” Her own father’s full name possesses more syllables than he has inches in his height. She walks and talks, moving towards Angrod and paying for her goods as she converses with Rhoss.

Rhosorien would be a sorry excuse for a wood elf if he were a germaphobe, as life in the woodlands contains its share of dirtiness. It is simply his somewhat purist preference to imply trust through gesture instead of touch – handshaking is something he thinks primitive, and he will only ever take a lady's hand with scandalous intention. His smile would slip at her questioning, his expression soon retreating back into the guarded civility with which he had first greeted her. “Yes,” he answers flatly, in the sort of tone that might suggest his desire to not pursue this line of inquiry, and continues to speak with frankness, “it has been my pleasure to assist you, Josleen, but I happen to have been here longer than I intended, even before you arrived. Haste, please, for my leave beckons.”

Josleen isn’t put out by Rhosorien’s stiff evasion of her question. That’s how it goes with the elves; she is far too aware. She thanks Angrod and places her new gear into cloth bags she will return to Angrod soon - ah, the joys of village living. Everyone knows everyone and trusts in good faith. “I won’t keep you any longer, Rhoss. Thank you again for your help and patience, and if you are ever in town again, do ask for me. Godspeed.” She waves goodbye and turns towards Xalious Village, her home.

Rhosorien barely nods and waves in recognition of Josleen's depart as he turns to Angrod to pay for the boots he is already wearing. That done he sets off to return to the village.