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Apartment 167 • View topic - A Dwarf's Muddled Musings

A Dwarf's Muddled Musings

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A Dwarf's Muddled Musings

Postby Nilliac on Thu Oct 16, 2008 12:27 pm

As Arath bit into the dark, rancid-smelling fruit Arora felt her heart sink. Whatever it was he was consuming, it came from the bosom of evil. That he could bare to take something so putrid and vile into him made her stomach turn with despair (which was not an easy feat for a dwarf). Is this what it had come to? Were we all just merely individuals with separate, selfish goals who would happily put the welfare of civilization at risk out of some silly curiosity and self interest? She could only turn away with only the cool and even approval of Erathis to comfort her decision. But, it was hollow. In a sense, she was hollow too now. What of harmony, cooperation, or the common good? Did these things matter to any of them?

Arora’s thoughts drifted briefly to Deomin, whose cold and sometimes callous exterior reminded her of only the harshest winters of the East Rift. She sighed inwardly. He could never understand what it meant to be united, how much more could be accomplished when self-serving desires were put aside. Instead they argued and fought and wasted time, she thought bitterly. The fate of Hommlet and no doubt the whole of the civilized world (and perhaps even the rest of it) depended on them, on their ability to work as a team. She felt unworthy of Erathis at that moment, and fell into another moment of deep and sorrowful prayer, full of remorse.

Erathis, force of order and of unity, protector of civilization, how can I hope to do your will with such people who do not understand? Will you yet withhold your divine clarity from them? Is there nothing to be done that will turn their hearts to your wisdom? I have tried so hard, Erathis, I have done everything you asked of me and lived true to your word. Help me understand, help them understand.

Silence echoed in her head maddeningly. She took a deep, somber breath. She would persevere, against this test she would find a way, Arora looked about at her mysterious and distant companions. If they could not understand until it was too late, then it would be too late for everyone else as well and it wouldn’t matter anymore. They didn’t have to understand, perhaps. That would come in time if it was going to come at all, and it wouldn’t be from her, obviously. Arora existed to preserve the peace, to promote unity, and to fight for the Great Cause and to the underworld with their understanding and their foolishness. She would protect them as much as she could till her last breath, she would keep the pact they had unknowingly made with her (as is the nature of any Erathis sworn Paladin), and as long as she was able to do both this and maintain her duty to civilization, she would stay true to them whether they knew it or not.
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Re: A Dwarf's Muddled Musings

Postby GoldenHudge on Thu Oct 16, 2008 6:34 pm

Totally sweet. This is what we get for good role playing sessions!
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Re: A Dwarf's Muddled Musings

Postby Nilliac on Fri Nov 06, 2009 2:09 pm

From Arora's Journal:

In my heart I knew that Aurum was going to be a difficult challenge, but in the beginning I maintain that I in no way realized how much of a liability the dragonborn was capable of being. I find myself on more than one occasion having to deal with a less than favorable position because of his poor choices. He seems driven by ego and selfish desire, something that flies in the face of Erathis' teachings and frankly puts me in a very difficult position. If I allow him to continue his destructive behavior it is very likely that we may all be put at unneccesary risk, while arguing against him or outright restraining him is counter productive to preserving group unity and harmony. But really, is there any group unity to preserve when Aurum is so willing to throw caution to the wind in the purisut of his own endeavor? These are the questions I must ask myself, as I discover Aurum is less than the leader he thinks he is. If he continues in the vein and refuses to listen to reason I shall have a hard decision to make. I cannot continue to allow his wild and unpredictable choices to put our mission and our group at risk, no matter how much I'd rather he stay and lend us his skills. If he is merely using us to his own ends... I do not see that going far. We will outlive our usefulness to him and what then? Will he abandon us, or join with our enemies even? It is too risky, but I cannot make such a grave decision without speaking to him first.

There was no time to tell Aurum all the things I was thinking after I brought him back from unconciousness. He was about to be interrogated by the high priestess of the Air Temple, time was running out. I arranged for our group to ambush the priestess and her skeletal gaurdians in this remote area of the temple where Wren, Melek, Hugh and Aurum all wait in their positions, ready to spring our trap. My heart races and I am glad that we were able to turn this around, to save Aurum from himself and turn a negative position around. How many more times must we save him though? I cannot under any circumstances allow Aurum to die if I can help it, for that would be as good as murdering him myself. Erathis, who is as strong in me as my own heart demands the highest standard. However, if it comes down to his death or the death of the rest of us, I know I must choose the Greater Good, and allow Aurum to lay in the bed he has been so busy making. I hope beyond all measure that it does not come to such a fate for all our sakes...
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Re: A Dwarf's Muddled Musings

Postby Nilliac on Thu Nov 12, 2009 12:18 pm

From Arora's Journal:

On the subject of the guarded diamond I find myself rather conflicted. On one hand the dwarves of old clearly intended to keep the diamond here, protected from the outside world and shielded from those who may seek to use it to their own nefarious ends. If we were to remove such a valuable artifact would it find a safer place anywhere in the world than here among the ruins of their mines? My dwarven instinct yearns to protect this artifact, valuable though it may be, as a monument to their lost cause. However, there is yet another part of myself that feels leaving such a monumentous item among the ruins is criminal. Witholding such a wonder from the civilized world is hardly a fitting end for such a jewel, more than a jewel, an achievement of dwarven craft that has never seen an equal to my knowledge in this world. How can I leave it to gather dust on a pedistal in an abandoned mine? Is this truly honoring these brave dwarves? Erathis demands such a relic as this much be preserved in the halls of antiquity, shared with the masses so that all may learn and marvel at our triumph over the earth itself, rendering the very rock into a thing of unimaginable value and beauty. And yet... all this conjecture is useless when the diamond remains protected by the horrible whirling blades of the pedistal.

Perhaps the question must remain for a while longer, but what is a while longer to such a thing as this, who has been waiting already for so many years? There is no rush I suppose, though it does tingle in the edge of my soul. There are certain responsiblities all dwarves have to their kin and the relics they keep, Erathis understands this, and knows how even a paladin cannot escape this integral part of my culture.
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Re: A Dwarf's Muddled Musings

Postby Nilliac on Tue Nov 24, 2009 2:29 pm

From Arora's Journal:

What a strange journey this has been. We stand at the edge, at the precipice from which all things balance. With good teamwork and thourough planning we managed to put an end to the ambitious cleric Choranth, claiming the second half of the air key for ourselves and setting across the terrain of the Earth Temple, beyond which the Air Bridge awaited us. I must consider us either supremely lucky or supremely in favor with the gods to make it so far undetected by the various guardsmen who kept watch over the Earth temple and bridge. Whether by grace or fortune, we crossed the bridge with little resistance, entering the chilled circles of the Outer Fane. How horrible it is to think that this massive compound had even more unspeakable horrors even deeper within its rotten bowels! It was not uncommon to face the deadening chill of evil in the ridges of the East Rift, where upon the dwarves were set upon countless battles against the evil creatures of the Underdark. Still even with this experience hardening my bones I found it an increasing trial to resist the numbing cold of the "Fane". Despite this, we pushed on. I am proud of my companions and their strength of spirit to continue forging on a path that for many would spell only certain death. Because of this, we have persevered. But I take nothing for granted.

Perhaps it is that very ease of entry that concerns my heart as we faced no true opposition to the Inner Fane, passing through the curious gates one after the other, honestly and openly declaring our intent to destroy the cult and forever deny Therizdun his freedom. There is too much unknown to forge a judgement in this matter, but part of me must wonder, just why are we allowed entry so easily when our intent is clear? Are the gates merely a barrier for those who would decieve the Doomdreamers, or is their purpose more mysteriously connected, allow the Doomdreamers to prepare a trap or other unsavory greeting for us? Again, nothing is clear. I must assume the worst, that they are indeed aware of our presence here in their realm, and that they are waiting for us. What should we expect? I cannot know, though the mysterious invisible sentinels watching us before concerns me greatly. It is frustrating, but there is no help to be found from without, we must depend on eachother or we are surely doomed to failure. The heat here is blistering, shockingly different from the fridgid realm we leave. What is it the humans say? Out of the frying pan... into the fire.
Last edited by Nilliac on Sat Jan 09, 2010 3:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A Dwarf's Muddled Musings

Postby Nilliac on Sat Dec 19, 2009 1:07 pm

From Arora's Journal:

So we have an ally within the cult! Ha! Not only this, but the second in command under Hedrick himself? If this is a trap it is an expertly crafted one. Ultimately, we have no choice but to trust this man, who until recently seemed just as mad and enraptured by Therizun's thrall as the rest of them. He gives us information invaluable to our cause, items which he assures us will help, and a plan other than marching straight up to the Doomdreamers themsevles and asking politely for them to bugger off. He assures us that his intentions are pure, that they are that of atonement, but I still know not what has inspired such a monumental change of heart (though in our favor it seems to be). My father always used to say that if one is given a the gift of a labor mule, no good can come of critisizing its teeth. But... father is not here, and he did not have to face such a task as daunting as this. This man who propports to be on our side may very well betray us in the end, though I sense no deception from him.

His words seem to have aided us thus far, however. We have obtained an orb which seems to be the key to the cult's undoing. If it is possible to destory such a thing as this, I shall do it with great vigor. For now, hope only to obtain the sister orb, the greater instrument of the cult, and prevent them from raising spirits of elemental princes long forgotten. I must make an effort to bury myself in the Great Libraries of Estagund, perhaps make submitted entries to further our collective knowlege of such things. But I cannot concern myself with the future as of yet, there is only the present to think about now. Of consequences and plans, of goals and strategy.

Vister and the Azer (Erathis forgive me for I cannot remember his name at this time), seem only barely suited for this place, they are weak and in need of proper rest and recovery, yet still they try. Perhaps it is because they have no other option, perhaps it is because they have nothing else to do. I care not of their motivations, for they seem capable enough. It has been... comforting to have another paladin of Erathis here with us, though it is not to say that all paladins get along, even when they serve the same god. We call come to Erathis from different paths, and Ertahis recieves all who would heed her wisdom. I make no judgements on Vister, or the Azer. If they die, it is my failure but theirs as well. I hope it does not come to that but we all do what must be done to save everything we know is worth saving.
Last edited by Nilliac on Sat Dec 19, 2009 1:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A Dwarf's Muddled Musings

Postby Nilliac on Sat Dec 19, 2009 1:08 pm

From Arora's Journal:

If I complained about the frigid cold of the outer fane, it is only because I had never experienced true heat such as the inner fane produces. It appears here flame is the birthright of all creatures we encounter. The heat warps and twists the air, causing the sort of flickering mirages that only dwell in the heat of the mountain. It is an unnatural place broken apart by the spike of darkness thrust deep into the voclanic wound. I cannot explain it, but I feel pity for this mountain, for what it has become a part of. This evil driven into its core taints and violates the stone. I will not forgive those who have done such a thing as this, as a dwarf this is the greatest of atrocity.

The Doomdreamers will suffer my wrath by the end of this. I swear it.

As if it were not enough to be forced into the furnace itself, we must fight the very doors themselves? This citadel is evil beyond measure, that much is certain. It contains within it a Vocanic Dragon, the likes of which I have never known. An ancient, and wicked force of power and I am glad to have the sheild of flame to protect me. I wonder now if perhaps the dragon adorning the front was a dragon of this very type we have encountered. That certainly would be an interesting development. A trial by fire, if ever there were one. Then it lay dead, smoldering even as a corpse, a pool of laval bile fit for no forge on this plane or the next. It is an evil thing and only evil can come of it. I am glad to see the end of it now, for my steps grow weary and my eyes warm with suffering. It has been so long since Estagund, since I have seen the Shining Lands and the Golden Water, the great temples of Chavyondat... and the Rift... even in its own way it calls to my heart whenever I find myself in the tunnels of this place, so unmistakeably dwarven hewn the rock is that I find myself whistful for the Eartheart Imperial Ale, the stone is more solid there than any other place I have come to know. The others cannot know this of course, for their feet are accustomed to the softness of soil. But stone is different. It does not bend or absorb impact. It is rough and brutal and beautiful when shaped by the will of the engineers and artifacters. Walking on grass is... a pretty experience but much more like walking in sand to me. This is why feel such fondness for cities, with stone-layed streets and buildings made of rock and carved right into the mountain cliffs... it is a sight and a feeling unlike any other.

But I must remind myself that this is the very reason I cannot be there now. I cannot allow harm to come to my world, to the people in it, to... to what civilation has accomplished. Perhaps when all this is over and I have given everything to prevent the coming of Therizdun, perhaps then I will have proven myself to Erathis and earned and answer to the questions that have burned within me for so long, questions my dead father (Erathis keep him) cannot provide, questions that for so long have proven as stubborn and unreadable as the rocks themselves.


*Her quill hesitates... the ink drips on to the paper briefly, obscuring the text slightly.*

...Who am I?
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Re: A Dwarf's Muddled Musings

Postby Nilliac on Fri Jan 08, 2010 1:01 pm

A Few Facts About Arora:

1. She writes her journal in common not out of any practical reason but because she finds the appearance of the letters more aesthetically pleasing than Dwarven.
2. She has no Dwarven accent whatsoever. Perhaps it is a combination of her time spend in Estagund and her desire to "fit in" to her surroundings.
3. Unlike every Dwarf she has ever known, Arora does not fear the sea. She does hate the noise it makes, however.
4. Arora is actually a lightweight compared to most other Dwarves. The only way to find this out would be to get a group of dwarves together and let the inevitable drinking contest sort it out.
5. Arora was once approached to join the Maquar, an elite group of warriors who serve the Raja of Estagund, but she was unhappy with the strict code of conduct and limitations required of them and abandoned the notion.
6. Arora has no musical ability whatsoever and will only sing when very very drunk, and always in dwarven.
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Re: A Dwarf's Muddled Musings

Postby Nilliac on Fri Jan 08, 2010 1:01 pm

From Arora's Journal:

The Dark Fruit had been nothing to me! I had stood strong against the fool temptation of the dark promises of Therizdun and his kind. I had felt nothing but disdain and despite those gifts the dark god bestowed on Arath (who did partake) I feel no regret, no pang of desire and without such discipline I could not have made it thus far.

But the damned Dealer, may Erathis scatter his bones to the nine hells, he tempted me. Empty, souless sockets, born by the very dark forces we seek to extinguish, and still, I yearned. Despite myself, my hand lifted towards those tempting promises, promises I had not thought to dream of in even my most hopeful longings.

And curse me as well, for I still feel tempted even now. Erathis has truly forsaken this place, if I find no peace in knowing I have done what is Just. There can be no Justice in a game of chance. And yet... oh and yet.

Long have I imagined in the cold forgotten corners of time, if she still lives, if she thinks about me, what she is like. My father, Torim Whurlode (may he be honored by the Stone and its Keepers), could not be convinced, even in his final admittance, to tell me of my mother. He saw it fit to deny me, for reasons unknown. Perhaps this pains me more than anything else. Not knowing why. The injustice of it. The unfairness therein burns me.

I must have been terribly unwanted by her, whoever she was. There are not that many well established houses outside of the Rift. I cannot guess her reasons. I only know they met in Estagund, at Erathis' high temple overlooking the Shining Sea. I have conjured up many versions of that story, the only story my father ever told of her.

And as I looked at those cards placed upon the table, all I saw was that temple in the sunlight. I saw a woman in silhouette with arms outstretched in welcome. I has been too long, she would have said, I missed you so my daughter.

My weakness shames me. How close I could have been to losing everything, all for the ridiculous notion that I could just be given what I wanted. A selfish fancy unworthy of my father's memory. It is for him that I restrained myself, though the bitter and willful parts of my soul would have me ignore him in a fit of impetuous desire. In my anger and agony at having everything promised me but not being able to take it, I turned to the only thing that made sense: the mission. I ranted and made passionate pleas, after everything that had happened I could not allow them to draw another blasted card without my protest being clear and unmistakable. If I have learned anything from all this is that I have just as much ownership of the actions of others as they do themselves. To put it in plainer terms, when Aurum does something ridiculous that affects the rest of us I am responsible for allowing it to happen. This is what unity means. We are in this together, and if I allow myself even the slightest alienation I will not serve myself or them properly.

I must admit, it was Melek who surprised me most when he asked Aurum to stop drawing cards. Perhaps shocked would be a better way of putting it. Melek, who up until this point has pushed the limits of sanity beyond what I thought was possible, I had almost not thought him capable of restraint. Why he chose the way he did remains a mystery to me still. It doesn't matter in the end, I suppose, as long as we are able to continue. All our wildest dreams and desires will mean nothing if we give up everything to get them. Therizdun will take it all back a hundred-fold if we do not stop him. Too much depends on our success. Too much rests on our mantle. The Shining Sea and the alabaster temple with its filigree and marble will mean nothing if we fail.

And the arms shall remain forever closed.
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Re: A Dwarf's Muddled Musings

Postby Nilliac on Fri Jan 22, 2010 3:08 am

Heartbeats are measured in years, it seems, as Aurum watches her and the others. He is leaving to seek after his comrades - his greatest wish since she has ever known him. They both know this path will part them, they both know neither can follow the other. Arora feels the pause well up within her, but Erathis whispers in her ear even through the din of the thundering hillside. "Harmony is balance, Justice is fair, Honor asks nothing you cannot give. Such is the way of the Adama. Trust... Arora. Trust. You are the maker of great things. They will find their own way." Is it really her god speaking, or her own heart? She cannot know, the world is crashing down around her.

"Just as the soul of your quest is written on your heart, so is the fate of the world written unto mine. I wish you nothing but good fortune. You have been a worthy ally... and friend." She clasps his massive scaled hand in her smaller, more stout palm. Between them is a casm both real and imagined, but they are connected, too. Arora can feel the strands of commradery, friendship and respect binding them together in the sadness that creeps into her soft smile. She has known this day would come, eventually. She expected to be angry, all the same. At least a little, perhaps, but it is not so. She feels only a mingled sense of loss, accpetance, and the same stalwart optimism that has kept her heart bright in even the darkest of places. Arora feels the ground beneath her rumble and shake. The air around her is thick with ash and sulfur. She opens her mouth to speak, but the words die on her lips and time is too short. She sighs slowly.

'See them through to the end, Erathis.' She prays silently as Aurum's hand slips from hers, her eyes graze Melek's usual featureless expression as the phantom steed whinnys softly as he throws his pack over its back, she smiles at him, nodding slowly. She understands. 'Protect them and guide them through the current in the dark water, grant them saftey in the face of whatever trials await them. Be with them Erathis where I cannot follow.'

She will miss them both, she knows this, watching with silent grief as their steeds disappear rapidly in the growing distance between them, the smoke obscuring them as if fate herself were swallowing them up forever. She looks down at the small, broken piece of the obex Aurum placed so gently into her hand. Her fingers close around the totem softly and she slips it into her pack reverantly.

"It's time to go." She says suddenly, but softly. Her voice is broken and mingled with melancholy and grim determination. Vister nods, casting Arora a sympathetic look, and as they speed away from the wounded monolith, Arora manages a final look back towards the volcano as it purges the evil from its core in a violent upheaval of fire, stone and destruction. Cinders float in the air and settle on her hair and skin, it is white, like snow, she has never known snow. The forest is aflame and the whole world shudders and moans under the strain of the energy erupting from the evil root that had wound its way so far into the fissure of the mountain.

She spurs the steed into a rapid gallop, the wind and the smoke sting her eyes and tears form, heavy and blurring her vision. She isn't crying, she thinks to herself, it is only the wind.

It is only the wind.
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Re: A Dwarf's Muddled Musings

Postby GoldenHudge on Fri Jan 22, 2010 6:13 pm

This line came to my mind when I read about the close of the saga of Aurum. It is the opening line to the movie Legends of the Fall..

"Some people hear their own inner voices with great cleanness. And they live by what they hear. Such people become crazy, or they become legends ... "
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Re: A Dwarf's Muddled Musings

Postby Nilliac on Mon Feb 01, 2010 7:24 pm

From Arora's Journal: (Before the Battle at the Temple of Elemental Evil) (Listening Music)

Seeing Hommlet in such as state as to be preparing for war was simultaneously a gratifying and terrible thing. Farmers and potters practiced with staves and bows and swords, men who have not known true battle and death, boys barely able to hold a weapon let alone wield it, the knights and bowmen in various states of practice and skill... the fear in their eyes. But not fear of death, no. Fear of failure perhaps. Fear of the unknown. But not death, even in these civilians the fire of greatness has been kindled by this threat. My heart finds cause to rejoice in this, and that at least is something. I will do all I can to make sure they do not die in vain.

Elmo is even more serious than usual, which is some sort of achievement among humans, in my opinion. Rufus and Burne finally see the wisdom of our warnings (let us pray it is not too late), and have gathered a small but respectable force to challenge the encroachment of the temple and bring down their dark machinations.

I met the most unusual human today as well. His name is Brandis, though I am unclear if this is his clan or simply what he chooses to call himself. At any rate, I find him charming, in the way that only a seasoned warrior can be. He is brash and bold, of good humor and kind affect, brave and perhaps somewhat addled either by age or bodily trauma, I cannot say. He may even admit to this, it seems as though he would be the type to do so. Still, I can say with some certainty that I am confident in his ability and look forward to serving alongside him when the time comes for us to face the ever growing shadow. My comrades have said I am too eager to trust and accept. Perhaps they are right, though it has not failed me so far... I cannot help my nature, it seems.

I was impressed by the warrior's ability to educate the troops so thoroughly, though I may question his tendency to knock them to the ground so eagerly. Better his blade than the enemy's I suppose. If they do not learn it with the blunt end they will very well learn it at the point, this is sure. Both Hugh and Wrenn seemed drawn to the archers, for which I am grateful as I have no kith or kin who can make an arrow fly as true as that ranger can, nor have I seen such a clever (and clean!) magic user as my gnomish friend. The bowmen are in good care with them.

I cannot help but feel the absence of Melek and Aurum, though by now the pain of their departure has ebbed to a dull ache. I hope to see them again, though I know not how or when, or if we will even recognize each other when the time comes. Arath has been notably absent, though I suppose I am partially to blame for not seeking him out. I do not think he is avoiding me, busy as he is with the preparations for tomorrow, but still some part of my heart stings from his silence. There is no time, though, to worry about such things as perceived slights or missing companions. I spoke to the people of the town, warriors and farmers alike, their hearts obviously heavy, laden with sorrow and doubt and uncertainty. I could not give them certainty, I could not feed them pretty lies of ease and success. I spoke instead of sacrifice, of honor and justice and the nobility of the fight against evil. I told them exactly what they would be facing, I spared no detail from their minds. I tempered their spirits as a blacksmith tempers steel. They will not withstand the fear unless they are prepared. They cannot protect their hearts from cowardice without the shield of righteousness. I have given them this as best I can, now that darkness settles into night as this town faces an uncertain dawn. Tonight I pour over the maps and make sure we have not missed anything important, any possible tactic the enemy may use. We may face vast numbers beyond our own army. And if this is the case, only our raw power and tactics will save us. Let us hope they are enough.
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Nilliac
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Entanglement

Postby Nilliac on Sat Feb 06, 2010 2:20 pm

Three broken ribs. Dislocated shoulder. Multiple contusions and a minor concussion. Cuts and scrapes, one large gash along the right forearm when she had been too slow with the shield. The cut is deep, but clean and the blade managed to miss her major arteries. It will mend well, the cleric has assured her.

It's the best Arora has felt in months.

She's not sure how she feels about the statue. In the East Rift statues are made in the likeness of kings, not heroes. Even then, it is only after they have passed into the rock again. It is the closest thing to immortality on the mortal plane. But Arora is not dead, after all. She smiles, and intuitively she knows precisely how long the retrieval of stone this size and quality would take to mine, transport and chisel. The people of Hommlet managed to do this within a month, which impresses her. Humans are not Dwarves, but they manage to do a respectable job. Just wait until the birds come, she thinks to herself, then you'll learn to be humble again proud statue. This is one of the benefits of building statues in the rift. No birds. She smirks as the thought occurs to her as she thumbs the Honored Ones medallion absently in her hand.

This would be enough. Wouldn't it? This would have to be enough.

"Am I interrupting?"

Her head shoots up, startled out of her thoughts. It is a common occurrence, she's beginning to note. It had been something of an adjustment when she had first left East Rift and its Dwarven culture. Humans were always interrupting everything, they couldn't help themselves. She shakes her head slowly, turning to face the man approaching her.

Elmo is not in his usual full plate armor, shifting his weight slightly to the left foot more than the right. His eyes are a mix of relief and melancholy, set into bright deep brown eyes that defy his age. He is looking up at the statue of Burne. He smells faintly of ash and ale. He is still in mourning, this statue is a cold comfort, he is resigned and fighting with himself and guilt and duty and the unyielding truth of war. These are the things Arora notices, all in the span of a few heartbeats.

They stand in silence for a while, the sky darkening with delicate shades of orange and purple streaking across the sky from the horizon, throwing the statues into silhouette. "In the Eartheart, those who fall in battle are known as knurl karak um. We make songs of them, usually drinking songs, and light flames in the high tower to mark their passing when war is done."

Elmo nods absently, "What is... what did you call it? Knurl-?"

Arora shifts her eyes to the statue again, pausing. "There's no clear translation, but I suppose the closest could be 'those who endure within the foundation we stand upon'."

Elmo smiles a little. "All that in three words, eh? I had no idea Dwarven words had such profound meaning."

She smiles, shrugging helplessly. "Dwarven is a very complex and subtle language. Why the Great Ballads of Kings are not sung in our language first by the bards I will never know." She laughs, "as I said, it's more of a general intent. Their sacrifices are what allow us to survive and grow. They make us stronger and we thank them for that. It is the best thing we can do to honor their memory."

He is smiling still, but his eyes are distant now. He is caught in a memory. His hands are rough and calloused, clasped with thumbs pressing together thoughtfully. His eyes close and Arora recognizes some of the words he is murmuring as some sort of prayer. Though he towers over her by nearly two feet, she reaches up and places a hand on his shoulder. She is still wearing her gauntlets though now she wishes she weren't. They are heavy and unwieldy and hardly comforting though Elmo doesn't seem to care.

"Thank you, Arora."

The words are hard, but not insincere. He is a man of restraint and discipline. He does not show weakness easily and Arora knows instinctively that she is one of only a handful of people to see him in such a state of vulnerability. Her mind flutters briefly to the druid. Her face contorts into a closed-lipped grimace, and she looks down. He has lost more than she has, by far. He is a good man to be able to keep himself from hating them, hating what they have dredged up from the muck of the past. They have reopened old wounds and created new ones. They have destroyed the innocent peace of this town in more ways than one. It was worth it, of course. Hommlet will endure. It will heal, in time. Life will go on and a new generation will not know the horrors so keenly as they.

Elmo and Arora say their farewells and she leaves him by the statue to his thoughts, while her mind turns to the whirling roots of past and future which to her are so intricately bound together as to be impossible to separate. They have fused so tightly it chokes her, sometimes. She's in the temple now, though she has been largely unaware of moving in its direction. Now she is standing before the great altar which still bears the marks of reconstruction. Vister is there, she looks different, and it takes a moment for Arora to realize it it because she has had a full month of recovery since they last saw each other. They clasp arms and embrace.

It is Vister who suggests going to Estagund's temple. "If you really intend to make an Entreaty, they would be the best suited to hear it, I believe. But...what exactly is it you want them to tell you?"

Arora looks down with sudden shyness. She has not spoken about her past to anyone, no more than the inconsequential matters, anyway. Besides, having no idea who your mother was and having a father who refused to tell you even when he lay dying wasn't exactly polite camp-side conversation. The last thing the group had needed was her plaintive whining about matters that had no impact on them. It would create doubt and uncertainty in her abilities and stability. It would have jeopardized everything. They would not have respected her then, she was certain of this. They would have wondered what was so horrible about her that her own mother had wanted nothing to do with her. A tear slips down her cheek unbidden and Vister looks away, suddenly uncomfortable.

"I... I'm sorry Vister. It's nothing. I'm... tired." She stands, letting the words fall into silence. "I will go to Estagund, I think. Tomorrow."

"So soon?" Vister looks up at her, concern knitting in her brow. "You've only just returned, and your friend is still recovering. Are you leaving them all behind? Why abandon them so?"

Arora bristles at Vister's words though she knows the paladin does not intend to offend. She scowls, clenching her hands into fists and fighting the urge to strike the small blonde woman. "Deomin is staying behind with Arath for some time, he will be in fine company." She turns away, sweeping her gaze across the wide expanse of the building, glowing softly with the light of many candles. "We all have our own paths to tread, we made no vows to each other. I abandon no one."

Vister frowns softly. "But, Erathis-"

"Erathis does not speak to them!" Arora whirls on the other paladin angrily, her voice raising with barely strangled anger. "They are my friends and I know my vows and I know my duty. Erathis makes no claim to them, their hearts are their own! She. Does. Not. Speak. To. Them!"

Vister is shrinking back against the altar, a tremor just barely glimmering in her voice. "I... I'm sorry. I'm sorry."

But Arora is already walking purposefully out the temple doors, the pain in her chest growing with each angry step. In the morning she will be gone. Depending on where Brandis is going she may travel alongside him for a while, if she can catch up with his damn monstrous reptilian mount. She is very aware of her bite-sized nature and the creature makes her uncomfortable. The rest of the night is spent talking some to her companions and others who come to her. She cannot refuse anyone and it is late when she finally finds a bed to rest in. She has said her goodbyes.

It's time to leave. To Estagund, and a hope of final freedom from the entangled roots of history.
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