Tourmaline - 05 - Autumncrest

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The woods give way for Tourmaline, revealing a small clearing where a modest number of houses line the road, and opens up to a small village square and well.

And here is the square! Wonderous! And my knight awaits!

Jerin says "This is Autumncrest. The land of ever-autumn, and of the pinnacle of autumn's beauty at its peak."

Jerin, do you think it possible for my chivalrous knight to await me just a little bit more, as my eyes rest?

"It seems awfully quiet... there are no lights... nobody about..."

How can you say? The birds sing, the crickets call....

"Wait. I see one light. Yonder." He points to a large manse.

It is dinning with life!
Ah! Let us thrust ourselves on the kindness of this noble stranger!

A manse in the distance beyond the village square seems to have several lights in its windows.

Shadows can be seen moving about inside it.

Kitsune says "People!"

Yes! Let us visit!

She hops out of the moving cart, tucking and rolling somewhat ungracefully.

They must have congregated there for an event!

"You've found your town! I'm going to find another!"

A celebration is just what I need!

She begins to book it at a hustle back into the woods.

Thank you for your wonderful guidance, Kitsune!

"It's been a travel! Look for me again!"

I shall!

She disappears in the woods' shade.

An eye must be kept open for my friend, the powerful and illustrious sage!

"Well... uhh... that was odd."

He cocks his head.

"You don't suppose she has a thing against people?"

    •  ::: looks playfully at Jerin :::
And now you are alone with me, Sir Knight!

"Me? Knight?"

You are knight to my maiden at this event!

He puts the back of his hand to his forehead.

Please! Accompany me in their festivities, I as your protege!

"Oh, my, what have I gotten myself into?"

It all began with the pie this morning! I have you in my clutches, fair knight!

"I can't even pretend to... I really can't..." but lets himself follow your lead, continuing to doubt himself.

"Okay... what's my knight name?"

And now you are terribly in my debt, as we travel through this strange land! I am but defenseless in this mysterious town!

"Sir Jerin something of something..."

Sir Jerin! As I have always called you!
    •  ::: picks a cattail :::
I knight thee now, fair sir!

"Sir Jerin... something... of Smallvale... no..."

    •  ::: taps shoulders and hands "pommel side" down, to Jerin :::
Sir Jerin of the wooded path!

"Well, I graciously accept, Lady... Lady... I never did ask your proper name."

Tourmaline, my Knight!

"Sir Jerin and Lady Tourmaline of Woodvale..."

Ah! But we tarry!

He rolls the phrase around. "Woodvale?"

Look ahead! Methinks I can see the festivities already at their height!
    •  ::: waves hand, making an illusion of the walls becoming invisible, with costumed people celebrating inside :::

A door opens at the base of the manse. The windows seem congregated-at.

There is a candle in every window.

A white candle in every window.

And light coming from inside, brightly.

"Sir Jerin the Journeyman and Lady Tourmaline the ..."

Come! Come, laggardly knight!

    •  ::: gallops Starfire at a pleasant clip towards the building :::

"What hey there, yonder!?!" comes a voice at the door of the manse.

Good day, or rather, good evening, cousin!
I have traveled far, and I beg of your hospitality!

"You must stable your horses, before sunset, Lady and Gent. Around back, you must!"

Why thank you muchly, kind sir! My Knight will do so presently!

"We shelter any who seek it, here."

"The stable is attached around the right side, back. We can meet you."

"Err, left! Left side!"

Lovely! And what a fine home you have created for those who seek it!
    •  ::: steps up to doorway :::

"This manse is our refuge."

"We know not, but something beseiges us, and all we can do is stay safe here during night time hours."

"You are welcome to join, cause ye no harm."

A small crowd of people begin to flock towards the entrance.

A seige? How dreadful!
What is it that assails?

Varying townsfolk are muttering, but there seems to be universal encouragement it is getting dark, and you must stable your horses and stay the night.

    •  ::: grabs a good-sized hand of dirt as she walks in, pouring it carefully into a pouch :::

"I am head-Priest Talos of the Order of the Sun. This is our ancient monastery."

"This ground is sacred, and no evil may tread upon it."

Have any been harmed in this seige?

"The town has lost its officials, who stayed the night in the village hall."

This is most unheard of!
And what is this evil that lurks about? What form does it take?

"The church has proved to be haunted, as well, and those who sought refuge there, ..." He looks down.

And how far does the blessed land extend?

"It is just about this building. It was built with the blessed stones our ancestors mined many generations back."

Sir Jerin has taken Starfire and Magnus around back, and the priest is leading you toward the stable.

"How have you made it through the treacherous lands?"

Have there been any survivors that have seen this treachery?

"None. We only know that, at night, some sort of shadowy raiders, dark or cloaked, have roamed the town."

"We can see them from the windows. There cannot be more than a dozen, but nobody ever sees them clearly, nor survives to tell. Our town has dwindled, having lost all the religiously faithful and all those who run the offices."

"Those who believed me and have sought refuge here have been the only survivors. We return to the town in the morninglight, but we are here by firstset, just in case."

"At first, it was foodstuffs and supplies, but then it became a child, a woman, a man, a family... and the town went into panic."

"Good knightly Sir," he says to Jerin, "would you have the bravery to help us, deliver a message for aid, or have you brought us word your warriors are coming?"

Aye. This will not do.

Jerin has finished ensuring Starfire and Magnus are each in roomy stalls.

Alas, but I am so tired.
I shall look into it this evening, and rest afterwards.

Your horses seem to be the only horses in the stables.

You all have my protection now, as well as your own.
Will our horses be safe?

"We thank you, milady, milady... Lady..."

"Lady Tourmaline!" exclaims Jerin.

"And Sir Jerin!" he continues.

Our horses. Will they be safe?

"Yes. This stable has not been used in some time, but it is part of the monastery."

"It is within the sacred walls. No harm shall enter. The windows are warded with blessed candles of white, and those here ensure none are burned out at night."

That is well.
And do you have wounded?

"Lady Tourmaline." He bows.

Show me your sick and wounded, and I shall try my skills.

"We have no wounded nor sick."

    •  ::: gives him a shining smile :::

"We are well, here. Shaken, but well."

You need not bow to me!

"And with hope your presence offers the hope of a new day."

"You may rest anywhere you wish -- the second floor has many rooms with beds, far exceeding the number of refugees here."

This will not do!
Bring the refugees to the main hallway.
I must speak with them.
Especially the children.

"If you wish, milady. I shall call upon those of us here."

He bows again, and begins to set off to find people.

    •  ::: grabs Jerin's arm and leans into him :::

"I hope my sister is among them and well," says Jerin.

"They seem so hopeful for help, they didn't question my knighthood."

"I am worried."

Then you must be their Knight tonight, my friend.
We both must call upon reserves of strength this evening.
This is an ill tiding as I have never seen before.
And I only have the power to build, not to destroy.
If there are evil men out there, I will not be able to stop them.

"Me... a knight," he mutters... "I only have the power to build shoes."

    •  ::: looks directly into his eyes :::
And that is the curse of being a man, Jerin.
    •  ::: returns your gaze softly, somewhat distantly :::
A woman becomes a mother, and discovers within herself powers and strength that she never knew existed.
She finds the gift of life within her, the power to make a new existence.
And then, it's proven to her that she has the strength to bear burdens, for months at a time.
Finally, she is tested a third time... with the birth of a child.
Once all this has been done, she finds that she had wells of enormous strength -- ones that had never been hers before.
Men must presume this strength, with no trial of life to prove it.
And yet, my friend, byu their witness, I know it lies within us all.

"To be a man... I must... although..."

"This is so far from me... I must pray."

Jerin, do you trust me?

"But let us see to the safety of those here."

"We must take charge."

"These people have no idea what is about."

"We are their guiding light, somehow."

And what a light we are!

"We are blind leading blind, but one of us shall eventually see."

"We have faced enough today, what is more?"

"These people are happy to see us."

"We must be brave."

    •  ::: stands in front of Jerin with a hand outstretched and clasped :::
  •  ::: clasps Tourmaline's hand(s) :::

"My Lady, we must bring our strength."

La! And here is my brave knight, once again!

"Perhaps it is there, after all."

Now, quickly, there is much to be done.
    •  ::: starts walking her to the foyer :::
Let us dress you differently, shall we?

"Hm? I thought you were going to tell me to catch your arm regally."

    •  ::: waves hand, and Jerin appears in nobleman's attire :::

Jerin is shocked, and starts patting himself down.

    •  ::: spins once, and changes to finer attire with a bright flash of light :::

"But what of you? You are wearing but white, maiden."

Hope begins skin deep, and seeps, Sir Knight.

"Ah, how startling... you are so enchantingly skilled."

    •  ::: flashes a smile :::
  •  ::: takes Tourmaline's arm at elbow with his :::

"Shall we?"

And yet, I am exhausted. I will need you tonight.
    •  ::: takes Jerin's arm :::

He attempts to walk regally and majestically.

Step regally, my Knight!
Goodness! How your cape flows behind you!

He flares up the pomp at your encouragement.

"Hm... I can't pull it off this much... I can hardly breathe like that."

How came I across such a gallant host?

"I will measure my energy."

He walks purposely, but slowly, with a straight back.

    •  ::: enters the hall :::

A small commotion can be heard at the foyer.

And what is this?

Normal bustling of people chatting.

People wondering what is happening.

(is it dark yet?)

The evening sky is nearly darkened.

The second sun has set.

    •  ::: waits for the sky to darken further :::
    •  ::: gathers more dirt ::::

(You're venturing outside?)

(is that allowed within the walls?)

(The only dirt within the walls is in the stables. The rest of it is a large manse-house, but not any formal gates or walls. or courtyard.)

(OK. Fair enough. Is there any other powder I can grab? Or rice, or anything?)

(There would be a kitchen with rice, likely, or a powder room perhaps somewhere else.)

(Nevermind. I have a better idea.)

The main hall seems to only have 6-8 people.

The priest is not among them. They are sitting about, or wandering slightly, talking amongst themselves.

They look over at you and Jerin briefly, but they seem timid, and mostly waiting for the 'meeting'.

Ok. When it is dark, I want to send a gust of air into the room, blowing out the candles.
Then, glowing slightly, I want to walk slowly into the room.
Cast shimmering on my handfull of dirt, and cast it about the floor, making it glow.

It is dark enough. There is only the faintest hint of light in the sky.

The woods darken the rest of the area well.


You gust into the room, and the candles flicker and go out.

People begin to make scared noises and seem to clutch to each other, a couple trying to silence fear.

And they all look as you enter.

Once the light is there, and the tension is at its height, I want to say "Peace. Calm, children."

They seem to almost ooh and ahh, and watch as you scatter the shimmering sands.

And then I'm going to cast tranquility, calming everyone's tensions with magic.

A small baby that was being hushed by its mother in her arms quiets down.

I am here to tell you a tale, this evening.

People begin to gravitate towards chairs, some sitting on the grand stairwell.

(The grand stairwell is two staircases at either side of the foyer, going up along the walls.)

    •  ::: Jerin has been instructed to bring pillows and blankets to everyone as Tourmaline tells her tale :::

There are about 8-10 people in total. Talos is watching from the height of the stairwell.

Be comfortable, as I tell my tale.

Jerin goes about, checking each person quietly.


(The head-priest.)

There was once a beautiful princess, trapped in a tall tower.
Her hair skin was fair, and her eyes the most shimmering blue.
Her hair was long, shimmering, and beautiful, and she braided it with silver threads, taken from the treasure stored with her.
Her every need and desire was magically granted for her, save that she could never leave her castle, and no one could ever enter.
She was held there, guarded by a fierce, hulking, magical troll.
Every day, she looked out her window, seeing the troll, and wept terribly.
    •  ::: waves hand in the air, bringing the story to life with illusions as she speaks :::

People ooh and ahh appropriately.

Then, one day, a valiant Knight came to destroy the troll.

You sense Jerin pause at the word 'Knight' and watch intently.

He carried a magical, shimmering sword and rode atop a powerful, white horse.
The knight and troll battled long and hard, for three days.
The woman watched the entire time, holding her tears at bay, as she poured every hope into the success of the knight.

People seem to feel the suspense.

You can sense held breath.

Then, the knight tired, and the Troll bested his strength, defeating him.

Sighs emerge.

And with that knight's death died the hopes of the fair lady in the tower. She took a glittering knife from the treasure trove and,

standing at the window, took her life.

But upon her death, the spell broke. She fell from the window, landing in the arms of the troll.

A couple of people have a sharp intake of breath.

Except the troll was not a troll at all! As the magic of her spell dissolved, it was shown that he was a powerful king from a nearby


And the knight who attacked was not a knight at all, but a terrible monster, who had come to take her away.
The King, with tears in his eyes, laid her down in a field of flowers, and took a talisman from his pocket.
Laying it on her chest, he breathed upon it.
The talisman lit up, and through it, the King gave the maiden his very life.
She awoke, and as she did, she saw the King laying beside her.
"My Lady," he sighed, "Though transformed, I have guarded your castle all these years, out of my eternal love for you."
"I had no power to enter, but I never gave up trying."

"Although this must be my final service to you, know that you are free now, and that the treasures held within this tower are yours."

You hear an "awww" from a young lady.

Sobbing, she said, "My King! But is there nothing I can do for you?"
For she knew now that she loved him as well.
"Only this. Never forget the love I've held for you, and tell others of my story."

You hear some more sighs of relief from the peanut gallery...

With that, she made her vow, and the King sighed and passed away forever.
But the magic of the talisman extended the life of the Lady, and she lived for a thousand years.
I have met her in my travels, and even now, the power of her love, and her radiant beauty shone on.

There is a tense appreciative silence.

Jerin seems to want to clap, but isn't sure if he should.

Speaking with her gave me this piece of wisdom, which I share with you: "Love runs deeper than any force on this land. Deeper than magic, deeper than appearances, and deeper than a thousand years."
There is much love in this building this evening, and darkness has done much to it.

Jerin's hands are poised, waiting.

But they settle.

But I promise you that what we hold within ourselves will prevail, and you will be safe.
    •  ::: nods to Jerin :::
    •  ::: bows :::
Jerin raises his hands back and slightly claps, quietly, slowly at first.
    •  ::: throws her hands up in the air, and flowers rain down :::

Others join in, slowly, but appreciatively.

And deliberately, since there are only about 6-7 people clapping.

    •  ::: the flowers spell :::
    •  ::: Jerin knows to leave when this happens :::
Now sleep, friends, and be at peace. I am here.

Jerin slips back towards a kitchen area, behind a doorway.

    •  ::: slips out of the room as the sleeping effect takes hold :::

"You certainly know how to charm a crowd... good word... they're all..."


"Sleeping?" chimes in the head-priest, from beyond the doorway, as you speak. The head-priest smiles. "Like children," nodding to them.

    •  ::: looks at Talyn seriously ::::
I am jealous of them, but only a little. They are in far greater need of a peaceful night's sleep than I am, I'm sure.
  •  ::: Talos smiles at you :::

"Yes, and you have given them that. They must be dreaming of wondrous things... things never as they seem, things which bring greater hope from sacrifice..."

I pray they do.
But my night is not over, nor are yours.
I must leave my body now, and I will need you both to protect me and the others.

"You look wearied yourself, beyond your garb." "You must rest, yourself, too."

There is no time for weariness right now. I must stave it off a bit longer.

"I will watch vigil over the warding candles." "Your Knight may help me."

    •  ::: Swaying a little :::

"You, she who has the most magic, must rest."

Alas, not yet.
This must be done.
Each night will bring more evil to this land.

"What do you think we might be able to do beyond this night, or with this night?"

No one is in a position to help but I, and even then I may be powerless against it.

"There is something more than a simple food raid, I can tell, but I cannot divine its source."

I may be of help.
But I am nearly depleted of strength.

"My magics are limited, similar to yours, but of less power."

Please, let me proceed now, so that I may rest sooner.
    •  ::: sits cross-legged on the floor :::
Sorry, Jerin, but I must pull my strength to myself.
    •  ::: both outfits return to their original state :::

Your outfit returns to your white garb.

Jerin's outfit returns to a cobbler's suspenders and such.

"How long shall you rest here like this, milady?" asks Jerin.

"We shall keep watch and alert you if you ask," speaks the head-priest.

    •  ::: casts superimage :::
    •  ::: pales slightly, as the image steps out of her :::
    •  ::: original T is meditating, with eyes closed, giving this her full concentration :::

Your superimage has added resilience due to full concentration.

    •  ::: the image stands before them, looking as pale and tired as the original :::
    •  ::: forces a slight smile :::

The men's jaws drop.

Wish me luck?

"Luck and all you may ask, milady, be safe in whatever you do," offers Jerin.

"You have my blessings, May Light go with you," says head-priest Talos.

Where can I leave that will not compromise our safety here?

"The main door is safe, all other doors are bolted securely."

I thank you. I will be very tired when this is over. Please have a bed and tea ready.

"We shall. I will set for you the first bedroom atop the staircase, and prepare the tea." He looks to Jerin and begins to address him about the warding candles.

And begins to give him the tour.

    •  ::: leaves through main door :::

The town square is silent. No sounds from anywhere nearby.

Keep to the shadows. Remain still for long periods of time, then move.

The town square is a T -- that headed north to the monastery, east to the town and woods, and to the south, you can see a church's parapet.

Let's check out that church.

It is recessed from the road, and there is a graveyard before it on either side of the walk-up.

The whole area there is surrounded by a stone wall, with black metal fences around the grave areas.

Stand near it, in the shadows, and watch quietly

A stirring occurs from the town square.

    •  ::: watches :::

Nothing clearly visible.

A shadow skulks from the wooded area towards the hall buildings.

    •  ::: try to quietly follow :::

You hear rustling between some of the buildings, on the far end of the village hall.

    •  ::: stay still and watch :::

There are two figures between the buildings.

They seem to be whispering to each other about entry, pointing and such.

    •  ::: keep to the shadows :::
    •  ::: try to listen to what they're saying :::

It's indecipherable. It must be a different language, but it is more guttural speak.

    •  ::: watching, and following from a great distance when possible :::
They head in your direction, keeping to the buildings as they come down the road-path.

But is there an alleyway, open doorway, or other such hiding nearby?

Liberally, what you decide roughly, it is there.

Then I shall draw my cloak around me, step into an open doorway, and peer through the cracks in a curtain, standing back in the shadows.

The shadows move past, grumbling in a guttural tone, towards the church. Not noticing you.

Do I make out any details about them?

They are composed almost purely of dark shadow.

They have no distinguishing features, they do not reflect ambient light.

They move a little awkwardly.

Oh, dear. Hardly anything learned, and I am so tired....
Let me follow them from afar.
Keeping to the shadows as much as I can.

They travel to the church.

They take the front entrance.

The door seems to be already somewhat ajar, as they slip in.

I will walk around the perimeter of this building, and see what I can see.

The church is rather small, maybe 40 feet wide, maybe 50-60 feet long... at the front is a small burial ground.

The walk-up is surrounded by the graveground.

The grounds are surrounded by a small colonial stone wall, and the burial grounds are enclosed by short black metal fencing.

The church's front doors are a double-door, arched to a point at the top.

Nothing else seems special around it.

I shall open the gate and sit cross-legged upon the ground.
Does anything immediately happen?

The main gate has already been flung open, loosely hanging open.

Then open it proper.

It opens.

Nothing immediately happens.

I shall begin to sing as sweetly as I can.
First, I will begin by singing without words, humming and singing soothingly.
"Rest now, sweet mothers and fathers....
Rest, strong sons and beloved daughters....
The Healer is at your door....
Take Peace, Grandmothers and Grandfathers...
Your troubles shall soon be no more....

From inside the church, a mild scuffling sound occurs, the same scuffling that the shadows made when they passed by you.

Take comfort, aroused spirits of the homeland, for your eternal hour is at hand.
I have come to bring thee the peace you seek, and bear you to your lord's land.
Rest now, good mothers and strong fathers...
Rest now, beloved sons and sweet daughters....

At the door to the church, you see a shadowy figure, peeking, but trying not to stay open, hiding behind the door.

The Healer has come to help you.
    •  ::: humming softly and soothingly :::

It stays behind the door, but you can hear a chuffling or grumbling coming from it.

Come sit with me, gentle brothers and sister,...
Rest by my side, worthy fathers and mothers...

The shadow disappears mostly behind the door.

Take my hand, beloved children.... the healer has come to stand with you.
Cling not to your unrest, beloved ones.... love not your pain, forgotten ones...
Come sit with me, brothers and sisters of my homeland...
The Healer beckons you....

You hear more of the scuffling from inside the church, echoing.

Fear not, worthy souls.... Fear not, ancient children....
Fear not, for comfort lies just beyond the next horizon...
Wait not... your minds are strong, and you souls thirsty...

A shadow emerges from the church door, but stands warily.

I bring you help, for I am the Healer, and I have come to ease your pain..
    •  ::: humming soothingly and smiling :::

Another shadow joins the first.

... Greetings, my sons and fathers...
I bid you well, my mothers and daughters....
You are welcome by my side, dear sisters and brothers...

The shadows are joined by a third.

I have come to learn your pain.

You can hear a grumbling guttural sound coming from them again.

I have come to give my aid...

It sounds slightly melodic, but gruff and coarse at the same time.

My hands are supple for you... my back is strong for you....
My eyes are sharp for you... my spirit is potent...
Bring to me what burdens you... so I may ease your burden....

The shadows growl slightly.

Teach me... fathers and mothers...
Allow me to learn, my children...
Walk beside me.... brothers and sisters....
So I may give you aid....
    •  ::: humming again :::

The shadows seem... unconvinced.

One of them slips back into the church.

    •  ::: stops singing and looks up, similing :::
A fair evening to you, gentle ones.
My name is Tourmaline.

Another one seems to slip back into the church.

I have walked this land for since my childhood.
I am known across the lands for my magic and healing
And I have come to offer my aid to you as well.

The final one gives you a slow nod... looking toward the indoors of the church.

And begins to slowly sidestep back into the door.

The head continues to poke out of the door...

May I come inside your home?

A shadowy hand, grasping the door... seems to beckon.

And then the shadow disappears within.

    •  ::: removes her weapons and leaves them at the gate :::
    •  ::: smiles and walks down the path to the door, slowly, with hands clapsed in front of her. :::

Nothing hinders nor interrupts.

    •  ::: comes to the door and peeks in :::

The chamber is dark.

Ah! But what a fine home! I must take off my shoes before entering!
    •  ::: removes shoes, leaving them at the door :::
I would loathe to sully this place with my traveled feet.

(The Church thanks you in an official memo 3 weeks later.)

    •  ::: steps in and looks around :::

It's still dark.

I thank you for inviting me in your home, gentle ones, but I am afraid that I cannot see well here.
Whatever am I to do?

You hear a scuffling, chuffling, from the entry chamber, towards the central church chamber.

The grumbling attempts to sound slightly melodic, using your melody from earlier.

    •  ::: Follows scuffling sound, humming to their tune :::

You stumble over the threshold slightly, but recover.

The main room carries the echoes.

Be at ease, Gentle Ones...
The Healer has brought herself to you...
Fear not, Restless Ones... her will is for you...

You hear the grumbling occur at the far end of the chamber, where the down stairs usually occur in a church.

Mild moonlight filters in through the very narrow old-style windows.

Fear not, Shy Ones... One has come to be your champion....
    •  ::: following the sounds, taking care with my steps :::
Fear not, Cautious Ones.... There is joy beyond the Door...

You arrive past the altar, where a very very dim light flickers down the stairwell.

The shadows are not visible.

Hesitate not, Peaceful Ones... the Healer is among you...
I am in your hands...
I shall be your sword...

You hear something sounding like a rasping wheeze or cough from down the stairwell.

I will be your salve...
I can bring you comfort...
    •  ::: walk towards the wheeze :::

You proceed down the stairwell.

I will guide you home...

A meeting hall seems to have been converted into a crude rooming chamber.

There is a candle burning at the far end of the hall.

But there is a mass of shadows between you and it.

I will bring you peace...
I offer you my love...
Be at peace...

The shadows are absorbing the light from the candle, you notice.

Find the rest you seek....

They begin to writhe... and groan.

And they start to shift among each other -- there are at least 6 distinct shadows.

    • [Look closely at the candle]

The candle seems unremarkable. It is a tall votive church candle.

It does not look like a holy ward?

It does not.

The shadows groan and begin to build up in some sort of noise.

Goodness! And who has lit this, my friends?
Shall I take this away for you, or shall I put it out?
Or would you prefer me to light more?

The noise, guttural and coarse, sounding like rocks grinding, peaks at something like a dull roar...

And the shadows launch themselves outwards from the cluster they are in.

At least two pass by you, and graze you with some sort of sharpness.

Your superimage would falter normally, but your concentration holds together, with effort.

Be still! Harming me won't help you a bit.
Vanquish me, and you have no one here to aid you..

Your image has missing pieces where you were grazed, like a tiny blade.

The shadows seem to disperse, though, after this.

Goodness... now look what you've done.
Such a shame....

A small figure with a wreath of shifting darkness aura about it stands in the center of the room, where the shadows had been massing.

A very small figure. No more than 2-3 feet in height, but the aura extends up a couple feet above it.

La! And who is this?





You see it hunch and contract forward over itself, almost doubling over.

"K... k... k-k-k..."

"Krrrr..." it almost purrs.

Mercy be!
    •  ::: lifts candle and brings it to him :::

It seems to be shuddering, but the dark aura of black light keeps shifting about it.

Bring it closer still.

The figure is small and covered in a dark cloak.

Its head seems large, or shifty.

At least half its body-height, it seems.

Who are you?

"Kr... kr... krrr..."

It almost purrs with the 'r' sound trilling.

It seems to be shivering.

    •  ::: touches the dark shroud with the candle :::
Away with you now, shroud!

"Krr!" it hops back.

Shoo! Shoo!

The shroud pops off, though, in a serendipitous coincidence.

It seems to be a cross between a cat and a rabbit... but it has a large fluffy pom bobble atop its head.

Ah! There we are, young Master!
You're free! And what is it that has happened here?

It's still shivering, and its eyes seem glassy, its fur seems dark, its pom is not of a discernable color.

    •  ::: gets on knees to look at it eye-level :::

"Krr... kr..." It pauses, and concentrates aside.

A shadow creature erupts from a puff of dark smoke.

And then disappears.

"Krr..." It looks up at you.

Little Master, are you unwell?

You sense a hint of forlorn in its glassy dark eyes.

It nods its head, and the pom bobbles with it.

Please, eat this for me.

It awkwardly jilts after nodding.

    •  ::: hands him a blessed healing bread :::
    •  ::: mild ability to heal and rejuvenate -- like 10hp :::

It attempts to pick up the bread between its paws and eat.

It chuffles.

It seems to fight with its own paws to bring the bread to its mouth.

    •  ::: takes the bread and feeds it to him :::

It "krrs" softly and kindly when you take the bread to do so.

    • Please, eat up, Young Master, and regain some of your strength!

It nibbles at the bread tepidly.

Gentle ones! I thank you greatly for the chance to help this little one. I am much in your debt, as is he.
Is there not more we can do for you?

"Murr"... "krrr"...

"Krr", it looks up at you with less-glassy eyes.

It eyes are no longer black.

These creatures have helped me save you, Little One.

"Krr... ...," it punctuates.

It concentrates again and instead of a shadow appearing, only a vortex of dark smoke appears where it focuses.

It points.

    •  ::: looks closely :::

It ceases focusing, and the vortex disappears.

    •  ::: smiles :::
You are full of mysteries, little one!

It hops about slightly.

But you underestimate our strength this day!

It looks around, it eyes clearing to a between teal, blue, and green.

The wreath aura of darkness has faded to a pale silvery mist or fog.

Brave one, I have been two nights without rest, and you seem little better.

It shakes its head, looking down a bit.

Come with me to a safe place, and regain your strength.

It looks up at the last statement.

It seems indecisive.

We will not abandon this. I promise you this.

"Krr... kr.... mugu-kr...."

But I am wounded, and you are near collapse.
    •  ::: indicates damage on herself :::

It "krrs" as soon as you point to the damage on yourself, a sorrowful hint.

I fear I even have the strength to bring you to safety, never mind endure a second trial.
Come with me. We shall return when we have new strength to share with these Gentle Ones.
Take this candle, please. I shall be your guide.
    •  ::: begins to sing sweetly again ::::

It seems a little fearful, but as soon as you start to sing, you hear it hum your melody again.

"Thank You, Gentle Ones, for your guidance...
My faith in you was never misplaced...

It takes your candle and follows you.

With your company and goodwill...
Two lives have been graced...
Thank you, Benevolent Ones, for your Hospitality...

No shadows exist, as the Moogle seemed to have been conjuring them.

The church is quiet, except for the Moogle with you.

My hope in you has not been wrong...
Our quest for you has not been forgotten...
We shall return when we are strong...

The Moogle seems a little forlorn, which seems contrary to the nature of Moogles and other faeriekin, as you understand it.

    •  ::: leads the Moogle to the door and peeks out cautiously, still humming softly :::

The Moogle bumps into you from behind, not wholly having paid attention to you stopping.

"Kr!" and it drops the candle, so as not to burn you.

Despair not, Little Master.
You are living and strong....
Grieve not, Little Master...

It picks up the candle, tries to re-right itself, and continues.

Those you love have not forgotten you...
Forget not, Little Master....
You have much yet to honor....
    •  ::: looking outside ::::

Nothing of note is outside.

    •  ::: walks outside and slips shoes on :::
    •  ::: her exhaustion is visible on her face :::

The Moogle follows you consistently.

Come, Little Master... We must not tarry.
    •  ::: returns to gate, collecting weapons :::

"Krr..." it seems to chuffle to itself... intermittently groaning slightly.

It continues to follow where you lead.

    •  ::: cautiously makes way back to safe place (Monastery?) while staying to the shadows :::

The Monastery's warding candles have been in the windows, burning evenly.

    •  ::: enters monastery with the Moogle :::

"You're back, milady! I was worried for you, slightly... you are well?" Jerin bombards.

    •  ::: sways slightly :::
Jerin... give this little one a place to rest.
    •  ::: releases the superimage :::

Jerin sharply intakes his breath at the sudden superimage disappearance.

He makes his way towards your body saying, "I have made you chamomile tea and assured you a soft bed in the upstairs... when you are ready."

    •  ::: opens eyes and looks around :::
First, we must care for our Little Master.

"And ... Sir Talos, where shall we put another guest?"

    •  ::: gets up, swaying slightly :::

"Hm? Oh, milady, you must rest... let me take you to your room... and... Who is this one?"

He does not speak of our tongue, although he seems to understand my words. I have not yet learned his name.
Please... in the morning... for us both...

"I will tend to him with what I can. I will attempt to effect a cure from what I can discern," says Talos, "...or her... what it may be... I am unfamiliar with many feykin."

"Lord Jerin, you know where her room is, you assist her, I will find suite for our new guest."

    •  ::: sits down in a chair :::

"Milady, you must be tired... shall I catch up with you in the morn as to what happened this night?" asks Jerin, bringing you a cup of tea, just warm enough.

A passable fare of a couple of soft bread biscuits and such are also present.

No... I must help him...
    •  ::: munches on biscuit :::
If only I'd slept the night before...

"Milady, Talos is an apothecary, he will make a tincture."

How is our Little Master faring? Did I hear he was ill?
I hope he is not poisoned... or cursed....
There was an evil shadow holding him....

"An evil shadow... like the ones that have been roaming the town?"

Perhaps not.
The shadows I met were most helpful.

"I fear to ask how you fared, but you found a survivor among the town in the Darkestnight hours... praise be to the light."

Would that I had found others.
But glad I am to have a Regal Knight guarding my hearth.

"It is fortuitous what you have done and found this night, is this not enough for you to be deserving of rest?"

    •  ::: eyes drooping :::

"I guess I have taken to the titles, as they are just air. Air has harmed few to none."

Yes, perhaps.
May I have some tea to sooth my mind, Sir Jerin?
And these biscuits! I... shall have to make... something of more... wholesome fare... for.. those we... protect...

"Milady, you are so frazzled, how can you think of aught else -- you have the tea before you, and are yet asking... you must take this tea and rest. When Firstdawn approaches, if you rest soundly, I shall think to wake you near Secondrise."

    •  ::: falls alseep in her chair, with one shoe on and the other on the floor :::
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