Post by Ethereal Panda on Jul 20, 2009 11:29:20 GMT 9.5
Cliff tried not to appear as though he was studying the map, but he still made an effort to remember it as best he could. "Come out of the water," he repeated letting his curiosity get the best of him. He stood up and looked down at Larr, "What exactly do you mean come out of the water?" His tone didn't suggest a question as much as a statement. Cliff took a step back and tilted his head looking over the now barefoot boy.
Taking a deep breath he looked to the sky. If the river ran out of the valley, maybe he could 'borrow' a boat or raft. There's probably a city down stream and maybe there he could find a way home. His thoughts shifted back to the matter at hand. At least this boy didn't seem to want to hurt him, but he didn't trust the girl. As a breeze crossed the clearing, the grass made a whispered an unintelligible sigh.
"Oh, I mean... The water in that cave, it's called blue water. It's special because the roots of that big tree on the map enter the water. So it's different. It flows into the river near hear. I doubt they'd let you drink blue water, which means you need to get your water from the mottorn river. I mean, not you as in you, 'cos we already have some mottorn water in our camp. But that's what you need to drink. I guess you're lucky we have some, huh?"
Larr shut himself up and kept watching Joy. She slowly walked around the edge of the clearing, as though hunting something. Eventually she approached the two boys.
"Can we get moving now?" she asked. "Arka is gonna wonder where we are soon."
"Arka always wonders. That's his job." Larr stood. "But yeah let's get moving again."
The term 'village' was an overstatement. With the lake to its left, trees to its right, and a small field between it and the three children, it was more a gathering of homes; a settlement. Larr stopped and explained the buildings from a distance. The largest and longest was more like a giant tent, and that was the commons, where they gathered and eat. Beside that were two huts used for storage. There were three other tents; one for the oldest boys, one for the oldest girls, and another for the youngest. As well as this, there were several other tents, but they were being aired out apparently. And that was it, as there were only a dozen citizens of Gondarash.
"Oh! What's your name?" Larr asked Cliff. "You didn't tell us before. They definitely won't trust you if you haven't told us your name after all this time."
Last Edit: Jul 21, 2009 18:58:46 GMT 9.5 by Treijim
Post by Ethereal Panda on Jul 20, 2009 12:03:07 GMT 9.5
Cliff spent most of the walk wondering why he wasn't suppose to drink the blue water, but he figured it was best not to ask at this point.
"Wa-," he paused for a moment, "Cliff. My name's Cliff Rammes. I am from Nighen in the Gutalia mountains." He looked plainly into Larr's eyes to see if the boy believed him. As a cloud passed by overhead, the air grew quiet with only the sound of their feet disturbing the silence. Before he came to any conclusion, he noticed motion in his peripheral vision that brought his attention back in front of them.
Larr's eyes showed confusion more than disbelief. He curled his lip at the foreign names Cliff was throwing at him, and didn't seem to recognise any of them. Thinking the boy may have hit his head, he said nothing about it. Then he, too, turned to see someone approach them. It was another boy, visibly older than Larr and much taller than all of them. He had black hair and dark clothing, and locked his gaze onto Cliff with intimidating fierceness. He stopped a short way before them and then looked at Larr.
"I was just told to go and look for you," the boy said.
"Yeah, sorry, we came across... something. This boy. His name is Cliff. We found him in the cave," Larr said. The other boy didn't seem very convinced.
"Did he come from the water?" the boy asked.
"No," Larr said quickly. "And he didn't drink it. I'm sure." Joy crossed her arms but said nothing. The tall boy glanced at Cliff again and then turned around. "Tell him, Cliff," Larr said. "Tell him you didn't come from the water."
Post by Ethereal Panda on Jul 20, 2009 12:21:59 GMT 9.5
Cliff stopped about a foot sooner than the other two. Staring at the new boy, he was intimidated to say the least, but he focused on not showing it. He crossed his arms looking back to Larr.
"No, I did not drink it. I do not understand what is the problem with the water anyways."
He was trying to be tough, but he suddenly regretted being harsh. He quickly broke eye contact and looked at his shoes, which in turn reminded him of Larr's generosity. So, he turned his gaze back to the boy with black hair.
The dark boy looked at at Cliff fearlessly. He stared for a few more moments and then turned and headed to Gondarash.
"Come on, then," he said. "I'll get Arka and he can sort this out."
Arka had been built up to be some sort of powerful and superior figure, but he was a child like the rest. In fact, it soon became clear that nobody was any older than about 13 or 14. The tall, dark boy, named Jed, seemed to be the oldest Cliff had encountered thus far. Arka was younger, but he had an air of duty and sense about him. His eyes were dark and his hair was fair and it fell down over his eyes. When Cliff met him, Arka was standing behind the commons, wielding a short bow and pointing it at a target some way off.
"Arka," Jed said, halting Larr and Cliff behind him. Joy had wandered off. "Larr found a stranger in the springs. He says he didn't come from the water."
Arka turned his head slightly to look at Cliff, and then he relaxed the bow and lowered it. He stared for a moment, observing, squinting against the sun, with his head slightly tilted to keep his hair out of his eyes.
"Will he be staying here tonight?" Arka asked.
"Joy doesn't like him. She'll probably cook him rabbit foot stew," Larr said. All three of them laughed, though Jed's laugh was more of an amused snort. "Joy does most of the cooking," Larr explained. "But she won't poison you so don't worry."
Arka put away his arrow and walked to them. "If you didn't come from the water, you're welcome to stay for the night. It's up to you," he said, looking at Cliff with his head slightly lowered.
Post by Ethereal Panda on Jul 20, 2009 12:51:52 GMT 9.5
Cliff looked between them uneasily, but for the moment he was relieved, at least to some extent. "Ok," he managed. He took a half step to the side, getting a little closer to Larr before continuing, "You are their leader?" He observed Arka more carefully. "But, you are just a child," he said more quietly with a piercing look. The hypocrisy of calling another boy a child when he himself hated that phrase missed Cliff. "How many more are there here?"
"There are twelve of us," Arka said. "I'm not just a child. I'm a child. We're all children. But Jed is the oldest." Jed nodded proudly. "I guess you'll meet everyone when we eat tonight. Jed, can you make sure Joy has started cooking and help her if she needs it? Larr, I trust you can show Cliff where everything is. I have things to do." He smiled quickly and pushed past them, disappearing from their sight around a tent.
"Right, well," Larr started. "What do you... want to do? See? Oh, I'll show you where the mottorn water, and then you can meet my sister."
He grinned and lead Cliff into the commons tent. There was nobody in there. It was an impressively large canvas tent, with a roof high enough for an adult and enough space for over a dozen people to lie down. Down the centre was a large table with a long bench on either side. Pots, boxes, and other odd things leaned against the sides of the tent. Larr went to a barrel with some markings on it and opened the lid. There was a wooden cup attached to a rope so it wouldn't sink. He scooped up some water and handed the cup to Cliff.
"You must be thirsty," he said, wriggling the cup.
Last Edit: Jul 20, 2009 20:26:08 GMT 9.5 by Treijim
Post by Ethereal Panda on Jul 21, 2009 1:21:21 GMT 9.5
Cliff sipped the water while contemplating what he should ask next. He had so many questions that the curiosity seemed to fill him up, and yet he couldn't find the words. The boy swayed from foot to foot while looking at Larr's gray eyes, only breaking contact to dip the cup for a second drink. The silence wasn't uncomfortable, at least not to Cliff. So, he didn't pursue any more questions about the strange water for the time being.
Looking down into the barrel's water, his thoughts drifted back to the tactical matters at hand. There didn't appear to be any imminent danger here, and it probably wouldn't be wise to sleep outside of the village. Staying the night seemed to be an optimal course to the boy, and he could always figure out what to do next in the morning.
Sunlight illuminated the tent's roof and a breeze blew in that stirred ripples across the surface of the water. He placed the cup gently back into the barrel and replaced its lid.
Turning he approached Larr giving him a nod and a small smile that seemed to say, "I'm ready."
Larr watched, also silent. He didn't look away when Cliff made eye contact; he just looked back and smiled reassuringly. The breeze blew in because someone had opened the flap and entered without making any noise. Larr looked past Cliff and smiled at the other person.
"This is Nierra," Larr said, and a girl walked around them and stood by Larr. Aside from being a girl, she looked quite like Larr. "She's my twin."
She nodded at Cliff and smiled. "Hi," she said. "Cliff, was it? Joy has told everyone about you already. She's meant to be cooking, though." She paused awkwardly. "So you're... a stranger? You don't know this place at all?"
Post by Ethereal Panda on Jul 22, 2009 5:40:22 GMT 9.5
Cliff turned around to face the newcomer. "Hello," he responded to the girl in monotone voice. "Yes." Taking a half step backwards, he bumped into the barrel. Partly distracted now looking backwards, he continued, "I have never been here before today. I do not know where here is, not really..." He trailed off.
The boy looked back up. "I am from the village Nighen in Gutalia mountains," he said in a rehearsed way, but the twins didn't seem familiar with this. "In North Nidoen? It is somewhere," he paused and continued with a small voice, "not here... I think." He shook his head as though it would clear the confusion. "What is outside of the Valley?"
Nierra stayed where she was. "Well, there is our valley, surrounded by mountains. Beyond it are the great seas, and somewhere further is a lake. That's where Rean took the... the others, after..." She looked away and then at Larr, seemingly for a sign to keep going or stop. "I don't know where 'here' is, either. This valley is our world," she confirmed. "Nothing beyond here is of any significance to us."
Suddenly, others began to sporadically enter the tent and find a seat. Most of the children went and took a seat around the table as though it had their name on it, but some of them stood around and waited for somebody else to sit before deciding where to plant themselves. Because Cliff was between Nierra and Larr, few of them noticed him before they sat down and looked around. Each time Cliff was noticed, the child stopped entirely and stared. Some shook their head and went back to talking with those around them; others continued to stare, either in curiosity, disapprovingness, or both. Jed was among them, but the rest were unfamiliar to Cliff. Arka took the seat at the far end of the table and a tall girl with powerful dark eyes and a beautiful wave of black hair took the seat at the opposite end, nearest the entrance. Larr pulled up a box to sit on and gave Cliff his own seat, and everyone stopped talking. Joy came in last, carrying a large bowl filled with something, and after she served it, they began to eat.
Larr broke the silence. "This is Cliff," he said, not looking up, as the collective pressure of everybody's gaze was too scary. "He's... staying here for the night, I think." "Why?" a boy with fair hair and bright blue eyes objected. "Where's he gonna sleep?" "I'll fix one of the extra tents after nightmeal, and he can use that," Larr said, with a hint of annoyance. "Who's gonna keep an eye on him?" the other boy shot back. "I don't think that'll be necessary," Arka said, forcing a smile at Cliff. "Right?" "He's only been here a few turns, and one of us is already doing extra work," the blue-eyed boy complained. "You're the one who broke the tents in the first place!" Larr said, no longer occupied with soup. "That was an accident! How was I meant to know you'd done such a bad job?" "Tex! Larr!" the tall girl's voice exploded into the tent. The other boy, Tex, jumped and dropped his spoon, sending a small spray of soup across the wooden surface. Some of them giggled. "Enough. Both of you. Larr doesn't do extra work if he doesn't want to; nobody is making him. And you'll have extra work cleaning everyone's dishes tonight if you keep this up, Tex."
The tent was quiet again. Everybody looked as though they were at a funeral... Everybody, that is, but Arka. Though his face was low, it could be seen that he was actually trying not to laugh, and doing a pretty good job of it, too, as nobody seemed to notice.
Post by Ethereal Panda on Jul 22, 2009 10:59:35 GMT 9.5
The rush came before Cliff had a chance to follow up on Nierra's response. He quickly stuck himself between the friendly twins, dreading the sudden encounter with all the others. When the seat was presented, Larr's kind gesture was met with another subtle smile. Although Cliff normally found it hard to make friends, not that he would admit this, Larr made it almost impossible not to like him. Almost as to remind himself, Cliff wriggled his toes within the borrowed boots.
It seemed every time he looked up someone was looking at him. This left him with a constant unease. He instead let his eyes rest on the soup before him as a distraction. When Tex first responded, Cliff could feel his cheeks growing warm with a blush. He focused his attention on not showing the embarrassment, but after the scolding the boy couldn't help but let out a satisfied smirk.
In a rare occurrence, the silence that befell the table bothered the boy. Cliff replied while still looking at his soup, "I can setup my own tent. I..." After pausing, he could feel the eyes on him. He looked up with a cold, almost glare, at Tex before continuing in a low monotone, "can take care of myself." He took the first sip of his soup.
"That's good of you, Cliff," Arka said. "Larr will help you, though. It's hard to do and you need others to help lift the supports." "Oh yeah, sure!" Larr said eagerly. "I'll help."
Tex sighed and bent under the table to pick up his spoon, which had fallen between the boards of wood that made the tabletop. Then he shot back up.
"He's wearing Larr's boots," he said, confused. "What's with that?" "He needed them," Larr said with a shrug. "But your feet are bleeding..." One of the other girls, with her hair elaborately plaited and decorated, sat up straight and looked at Larr. "Show me," she said sternly. "No, it's fine," Larr said. "It's just dirt... and mud. I'm not hurt. It's fine, really." He looked at Cliff and smiled. She seemed satisfied at this. Everybody ate in awkward silence for the rest of the meal, and those who left, did so as quickly as they were able to.
"I don't know what you expected to happen," the tall girl said, once it was just her, Larr, Cliff, and Arka left sitting. "You knew they wouldn't like a stranger. Why did you bring him back?" "What was I supposed to do?" Larr objected. "Leave him in the cave?" "If he got here on his own, he can leave on his own." "Monopa! That's horrid. He doesn't know how he got here!" She tilted her head. "How do you know he didn't come from the water?" Monopa asked. "Joy saw him. I mean, she saw him not... come from the water. He wasn't wet when I saw him. He was just standing there," Larr said, looking at Cliff and frowning. Monopa raised her eyebrows. "You don't sound very sure." She crossed her arms and leant forward on the table. "You're being as bad as Tex," Arka said, glancing across the length of the table at his fellow leader. "And yeah, I know he's only like that because of the last strangers, but this boy is different. I can tell just by looking at him; he wouldn't even step on a snail if he could avoid it." Monopa sighed. "I'm going to have to ask the king tomorrow. Jed and I will take the boy at dawn. It's a long walk; a score of turns at least. We'll get there by highsun if the weather is good. Unless anybody objects to this?" She looked across at Arka. Arka shrugged. "The king is usually fair." "What do you have to say for yourself?" she asked Cliff.
Last Edit: Jul 22, 2009 11:25:47 GMT 9.5 by Treijim
Post by Ethereal Panda on Jul 22, 2009 11:48:25 GMT 9.5
"I did not come from the water, if that is what you are asking. I just woke up in the cave. I cannot remember how I arrived there," Cliff said looking calmly into her eyes. He stood up abruptly causing the chair to make an unpleasant sliding sound. "I will see your king. There is nothing for me to hide." Cliff shifted his gaze between Monopa and Arka for a moment trying to read them. His confidence had returned in the presence of a fewer number of children.
The boy turn and walked to the flaps tent in a very controlled manner, but came to a stop when he realized there was no where to go without Larr. Looking back over his shoulder he forced a smile and said, "We should get started, should we not Larr?" The smile faded when Cliff now saw that the bottom of Larr's feet indeed had strokes of red on them. He turned back to the flap, waiting a short moment, before stepping outside.