RP:We Are All Learning
Part of the Home Sweet Home Arc
Synopsis: Zahrani and her elven group happen upon Kelovath and his companion Marcel in the Sage Forest.
Kelovath roamed the forest with Marcel, his loyal companion. Marcel was a younger man, dressed down in robes with his hood down. Kelovath was dressed the same and the two talked softly to each other. Marcel mentioned something about Josleen and then something about Frostmaw, to which the paladin simply shook his head, "I don't know, Marcel. It's all very...Difficult." The younger man nodded and considered asking another question, but Kelovath continued, "Do you suppose Gilwen knows we are here? She seemed to be doing quite well with the forest, last we saw her." Quickly, Marcel spoke, "Not sure. She was gathering some folk to do another cleansing of the forest, from what I remember. Maybe we should help with that? And take a break?" A small smirk formed over the lips of the robed paladin. "A break, huh?" He stopped and looked around, then casually shrugged. "I suppose we could stop here for a few hours." They didn't do any of the traditional 'setting up camp' activities. Marcel found a nearby tree and sat down in front of it and leaned against the giant and closed his eyes soon after. Kelovath stayed on his feet and paced around a bit, admiring the living forest. Helping Gilwen seemed like the right move. Eventually going to Larket was also on his mind, but he knew quite well Josleen would lock him up and Macon would surely have him killed. But the need to talk to Josleen weighed on his mind. Their previous encounter was...Civil, for the most part, but not everything he wanted to say had been said. He couldn't have fully expressed himself in front of Marcel like he wanted too and being in Frostmaw at the time, it would have been best to remain calm. Which he accomplished, barely. For now, his mind slowly grew quiet and he found himself praying to Arkhen and thanking him for a last few peaceful days.
Zahrani had just departed the recaptured fort with an assignment from Gilwen. A piece of parchment and an elven seal are placed securely in her satchel before the paladin makes her way into the woods. The feline has an earth colored robe covering a simple, but well-maintained, breastplate, leggings, and boots, her own hood up over her head. A black panther nose extends from the head covering, nares flaring with curiosity and her ears turning at the sound of unfamiliar voices in the forest. Her tail swishes idly behind her, androgynous form stalking quietly towards the source of the two voices. An elven scout notices the familiar paladin, and proceeds to follow her through the trees; he had barely heard the voices of Kelovath and Marcel, but if they have Zahrani's attention, perhaps it would be prudent to investigate. The feline stops at a bank of earth, giving her a vantage point over the two strangers. They don't look or smell threatening. Were they to look up at her, the paladin would raise an armored paw in greeting, the action causing her amulet of Cyris to reflect the light that peeks in through the trees.
Marcel was already starting to fall asleep, so clearly the paladin was going to be on look-out. With how quiet the forest continued to be, it wouldn't have taken much for any noise to be noticed. Above is where he heard it and so his gaze lifted and searched. A flash of light and then a figure. He paused, saw the greeting, and cautiously returned it with his own. "Marcel, we have company." The younger man moved some and his eyes opened, searching for his friend. He stood, slowly, and saw the flash from the amulet as well. "I see it." Kelovath nodded and then offered a small smile before speaking to the unknown figure. "Hello!" He called out. Marcel did not, but he did move closer to the robed paladin. "Friendly?" The companion asked. To which Kelo replied, "I don't sense anything else..." Marcel visibly relaxed.
The feline reaches up to lower her hood, revealing a panther's head with bright cyan eyes that contrast sharply with ebon fur. The longer hair atop her head has tight curls to it, carefully unified into a single braid that travels from the top of her head and rests on her shoulder, out of the way. At Kelo's last statement, a warm smile forms on Zahrani's face. She hops forward over the embankment, landing at the men's level with a supernatural grace and lightness. The elven scout remains in the trees, joined by another curious sentry. Zahrani stands merely an inch shorter than the male paladin, but with the athletic form beneath her robes and armor, she looks to be in the same weight class as him. Upon closer inspection of her garb, a mace can be seen holstered at her belt, and a crossbow and bolts accompany the satchel over her back. "Well met, fellow travelers," the panther speaks. Her voice is a mid-tenor, with a characteristic feline roughness to it. She looks from Kelovath to Marcel, then back. Humans, just like her foster father. Robed in a familiar garb. She speaks again, crossing her arms, "I wander many places, but I do not know if I have seen you two before. My name is Zahrani. What is yours?"
"I am Kelovath, Paladin of Arkhen." A small gesture to his fellow. "And this is Marcel." Marcel eventually finds the bravery to wave, but even though he has relaxed, this is still a tense situation. Both the men knew there was at least one other person nearby, but it didn't stop the paladin from keeping a conversation going. "I see you are a follower of Cyris. Have you been to Larket? To the chapel there? Lovely place, last I knew." His arms slide back and rest upon the small of his back, fingers linking together casually. His brown gaze scans the surrounding forest behind the feline, curious as to why someone may be keeping their distance. Marcel should have been doing the same, but it seems the younger man had never been in the presence of a feline before. His eyes were wide and constantly watched the tail of Zahrani. If Kelovath weren't focused elsewhere, he would have straightened the man up some. Instead, Marcel continued to look like a fool.
Zahrani turns towards the elven scouts, raising a hand to indicate that the men are friendly. They raise a hand in return and proceed to patrol elsewhere. She turns back towards Kelovath, not appearing bothered by Marcel's staring. "It is good to meet you both." She feels like she's heard the paladin's name mentioned by clerics and priests, but she knows little about the man himself. At his questions, the panther shifts her weight, "I am a paladin of Cyris. I have been to the chapel a few times, though my duties often take me all over Lithrydel. I wish I could be there more often for the other followers. Things have been...quiet but tense in the chapel...under Larket's current monarch..." Her eyes seem to look off into the distance, but she coaxes another smile when she focuses back on the two humans. "Regardless, it seems like Cyris and the elder cleric insist that we not neglect the rest of the world for the sake of our little cloister." They mostly were concerned about their paladin drawing the attention of the king and his loyalists. But if push comes to shove, she may take her turn to protect them in the future.
Kelovath offered a small smile as well, "Yes. The current leadership is questionable at best. But, who am I to say for sure about their ability to lead." He had a lot to say, really, but it didn't seem the time, place, or the right person to talk to about it. Marcel laughed a bit at the paladin's comment and started back toward the tree he was napping at previously. "If you don't mind my asking, how long have you followed Cyris? I have some experience with the teachings and know several followers of his. Curious to learn how those at the chapel are holding up." He remained still and kept his smile present.
Zahrani doesn't really have anything to say in response to Kelovath's comment. She feels the same way. She turns her cyan gaze to Marcel, answering calmly, "My foster father was a human paladin of Cyris. He found me in Cenril when I was 8, running messages and errands. A few days later, he adopted me and offered to teach and train me. After 4 years, I took my oath as a paladin. So... I've been a paladin for 16 years, and I've been training and working as one for over 20." At his comment regarding thist who live in the chapel. "As I said before, things have been a little tense, but they've managed to keep the peace in chapel grounds. The clerics offer healing, counsel, and charity to everyone, regardless of standing or profession. Their continuing quest to empower others to achieve Freedom and Independence has no doubt created friction with some in Larketian government." She offers a wry grin at that last part. The chapel itself is not a political organization, but the services they provide to the working people in Larket make them popular enough that any overt crackdown on their teachings would be a bad move. Generally speaking, it's hard to demonize the devout priests that likely helped heal your soldiers...for free, at that.
"Well, at least something is thriving in Larket." A bold comment from Marcel, but Kelovath made no move to correct him. Marcel knew more about Larket and its current state than Kelovath did. "That is a long time to be so loyal. I'm happy to see that there is still some good in this land." Kelovath spoke so confidently and honestly, offering yet another genuine smile to the feline. "Again, if you would indulge my curiosity, what brings you to these woods? Far from Larket and the chapel, no?"
The feline shrugs, responding to Marcel, "It's not so much thriving as it is weathering a long storm." Turning back to Kelovath, the feline nodding in understanding at his question before responding, "I'm helping Gilwen with her efforts to restore Sage. The elves have been through a lot. You two saw how cautious they were when I came out to meet you." The panther takes in the detail of their clothing and their encampment, before asking, "Same question to you: What brings you two out here? Are you both paladins?" That was two questions, but...you know. She's a curious cat.
Kelovath shook his head, "Marcel back there is not. He's been with me since Hildegarde's War to reclaim Frostmaw. We were just passing through, but I thought I'd pay Gilwen and her elves a visit. Gilwen is also an old friend. We've attempted to clease the forest before, but little aid came to see it through to the end. It seems she is making another try and I think this time we need to make sure it works." Looking around once more, he takes notice of how green everything is around them. "The destruction caused by the Drow, and then the curse placed on the forest, has lingered here for a long time. Gilwen and her people should have peace again. And with their forest restored, they may also be able to help in the coming battles with Kahran." He laughed a little and looked back to Zahrani. "Or, they may want to just live in peace. I wouldn't blame them if that was their choice."
Zahrani nods in understanding at Kelovath's desire to help. She also surveys the woods; it's gotten better, but it's not whole just yet. She responds, "I was able to help her cleanse an artifact of significance to Sage, but at the moment we're gathering allies for the final push against the curse." The paladin smiles in response to the man's laugh, before saying, "I didn't ask what they would do after the cleansing was complete; if they wish to help, then I trust that they shall. I also would not blame them for catching their breath." The panther remembers she has a sealed letter to deliver to one of those said allies, and says, "I actually am on an assignment for her. If you wish to lend your aid, Gilwen is at the old fort not far from here." She removes one of her gauntlets, extending a warm, black-furred hand to the men, "It was nice to meet you, Kelovath and Marcel."
Kelovath enjoyed the thought that the forest may finally be free from the curse that has ruined the lands. A final push sounded like music to him. "Well, a few more allies she will have in her fight." He accepted the fur-covered hand and shook his firmly. "It was nice meeting you as well, Zahrani." Marcel, from his tree, gave a quick wave. Kelovath, after withdrawing his hand back, looked to the young man. "Marcel!" With great haste, the companion jumped up from the tree and approached. He bowed slightly at the waist, "Great to meet you, Zahrani." The paladin smirked at the farewell and spoke to the feline. "He's learning."
Zahrani smiles at the two humans, bowing in turn to Marcel. At Kelovath's last statement, the panther offers a grin before saying, "Aren't we all?" They say any of them stops learning will be a sad day indeed. She makes one final turn before walking east.