Eat, Drink and be Merry..., part 2


The cloaked man felt eyes upon him as he sat at the bar for a moment. He looked through the eyes of the silvery mask that rested on his face around at all that visited the busy establishment. He wasn't certain how, but he knew someone was watching him. His eyes flared a soft violet color for a moment and then returned to his drink at the bar.
[Takayoshi T. ]
Upon hearing Sherwood's and Dwynn's stories, the oriental fell into a memory lapse as he recalled his 8th birthday. A serene vision of a pasture and the border village of Tak's birthplace, Ashibetsu. A vision of 5 mounted horrors rode into town, and without warning or voice. The figures attacked, raped, pillaged and plundered the village. There has been many invasions on his town before and during the Japonese-Chinianese Wars. However, this attack was different, the riders had the Chinianese symbols, but they weren't Chinianese.
Finally, A vision of a headless female body laid not more than 30 feet in front of him. Tears and anger swelled through him as revenge wreaked around him. Takayoshi looked down at his feet trying not to look at the body. There he saw the body's head, his mother looking up at him lifeless. Instantly, he saw a man fight a mounted armored horror on a black horse. Metal clanged metal, until the silence of death can upon the man's life, and head.
"MOTHER!!!!! FATHER!!!!!", the oriental shouted out in his mind and unconsciously (and unaware) outloud in the Inn.
Then he sees himself running through the forest with a hot breath at his neck, scared to turn around as fear shot through him. The hooves of death got closer and the breath got hotter at his neck. The tension built as the oriental could not run any faster. Then, the ground was the last thing Tak saw before he blacked out...
Linna leapt from her seat at Takayoshi's cry and hurried around the table to him. She and Ceridon had dealt with traumatized children at the orphanage, and she knew well enough that such traumas could last well into adulthood. "Takayoshi," she said in a firm but soothing tone. She swivelled his head around and looked into his vacent eyes, eyes that were looking back in time. "Come on, Tak," she said as she lightly slapped his face. "Come back to us. It's all right." She sighed and smiled as his eyes came back to life. "Just rest easy a minute."
Brea nearly jumped out of her skin at Tak's yell, so enthralled was she at Elwynn's story about the Bugle. Earth history was one of her biggest favorites among the books she read, but the lady elf seemed to bring such stories to life in a more humorous way. She looked closely at Tak and frowned. "You all right?" she whispered to him.
"Takayoshi, are you alright?" He put a hand on the older man's shoulder. "I do believe you lack the beverage you are owed. Drinking helps loosen the tongue and speaking lightens the hart and clears the mind on occasion. And these folk have proven fair companionship to myself."
As he sits back down he tries to slip Elwynn a note that reads 'If you go out to acquire any more could you perchance privately procure a suitably romantic flower. For which I will naturally reimburse you.'
He raised his eyebrows at the sudden noise from the normally taciturn oriental, but decided the man must be allowed to fight his own demons, and begins concentrate, once again, on the story told by the Elf woman. Truth said, her ability to blend words surpassed even most elves'. Sherwood smiled to himself, as he wondered how much truth existed within those words.
Breannyn looked from Tak to Dwynn a moment, then grabbed Tak's empty cup. "Good idea," she nodded to Dwynn with a slight smile. Then turned a concerned eye back to Tak, placing a hand on his shoulder. "I'll be right back," she told him softly, before turning to head to the bar. She could have just called a waitress over she knew, but she felt she needed to stretch her legs. That and she wanted to avoid anymore questioning looks in regards to what she'd so briefly mentioned of her past. She wasn't quite ready yet to tell so many people at once, her whole life story or what there was of it in the twenty years she'd been alive.
The elf-maid took the slip of paper and placed it in her pocket as she spoke. She was telling the story of where the bugle had come from for anyone who would listen. "Old John," she was saying, "always knew the value of the high ground. We were sitting on our horses by a Seminary, and he looked at me with that weatherbeaten face of his and said, "Miss Ellie, (that's what he called me), if we don't hold here in the morning, Lee will move right through town and occupy those hills and there'll be the devil to pay...."
Dwynn idly wondered where Gettysburg might be. The tale seemed distant and he did not recognise any names. {'Miss Ellie' has a sweet ring to it though. 1863 sounds like a year, but that can't be by local reckoning or she would be who knows how old. She's probably talking about some other world. Elves can live very long lives though. I wonder how old she is.}
Brea approached the bar and stood next to a man with a strange mask. She put the cup down rather hard on the counter hoping it would attract Hugh's attention, then smiled apologetically at the stranger. "C'n I get a refill, Hugh? It's for Tak." She gestured over her shoulder to the oriental and smiled when Hugh nodded. She tapped the counter with her fingers and tried to check the stranger out without his noticing. 'Curiouser and curiouser,' the line popped into her head unbidden and she was forced to stifle down a laugh. Luckily Hugh handed her Tak's cup just then, and she turned to make a hasty retreat with a final lop-sided smile to the stranger.
Garber entered the Inn and snagged a position at the bar next to Brea. "Hugh, do you have a corner somewhere for me tonight?" He'd decided to stay at the Inn, since most of the others were staying there as well.
"How about this one?" Hugh handed him a key. He looked at the number on it and smiled wryly. 'Smallest room in the place. But it'll be all right for one night,' he thought. He nodded and gave Hugh the fee.
He walked with Brea back to the table. She quickly told him what had happened to Takayoshi, and as he slid into a seat, he looked over at him with concern.
The elf-maid paid for the next round as her story continued. She had pulled out a small folded map labelled "Gettysburg" and "U.S. National Parks Service", and was outlining the battle for her audience.
"You see here this fish hook shaped line of hills south of the city? That's the ground we were trying to save. There's the Seminary and that's McPherson's Woods. This is where we posted our line, on either side of the Cashtown Road. Hmm...speaking of hills, I just got an idea. Maybe we can hasten our journey somewhat if I can arrange a teleport to get us to the Black Horn pass....I shall have to think on it....anyways, we we all nicely dug in behind an old wooden fence, when here comes old Harry Heth with the lead division of A.P. Hill's Corps. That's about ten thousand soldiers, give or take a few, and us with barely two thousand in both brigades. Well, ol' Harry, he thinks we're just a bunch of untrained militia, so he doesn't even bother to deploy....he just comes at us with a handful of men, and we brushed aside the first attack rather easily...."
In Dwynn's mind, Elwynn's story faded into background noise. {I'm leaving town, perhaps forever. One world seems more than big enough for me.} He let his eyes rest on Linna as the words drifted past and as he took his time he began to see past the similarity and notice some differences. {She really is an awful lot like Crystal. Younger, though. More filled with purpose and excitement. Not stunted by life and experience as we were.} As he sat there he felt more and more determined to see that Linna would stay that way, if he could.
[Takayoshi T.]
"...It's alright," a soothing voice whispered out beyond the horrific vision, as the oriental came to, drenched in sweat. He looked around to see all the eyes at the table staring at him, and Linna standing in front of him.
"It was just a bad dream," the disoriented Tak blurted out, finally realizing what had happened.
"I'm okay, I get them occasionally, I can live with them by myself," answered the embittered ninja, as he stared at his empty cup. Almost oblivious to his surroundings.
"I will avenge your deaths," the oriental thought. However, the voice of his master, Master Ikashi, rang throughout his mind and body, as his eyes closed, as if in a meditative trance.
"The mind is the true strength. Without the mind, there can be no inner peace and consequently no self control. Inner peace can only come about from a clear and sound mind, and your Chi is a tool for your mind to use in order to bring inner peace within yourself. Once you find inner peace, then your life and world will become more fulfilled and peaceful. Happily you will be mentally _and_ physically sound. Having that achieved then, you become one with the universe."
The oriental felt his Chi moving and flowing through him, balancing out what were extremes and filling in the voids. Being content with himself, the orental smiled and opened his eyes to reveal his cup missing.
"I am alright, but where did my cup go? I am a little thirsty, and where did Brea go?" Takayoshi asked, as he also saw that Brea was gone, too. He answered his own question as he looked up to see Brea at the counter with his cup.
"That sure isn't the High Priest," he calmly (!) commented softly to himself as he saw the black dressed man's face, "however, ..." The oriental started, but could not finish. He could not explain that fact the man will be more than the a "stranger" to him. As if Tak will find more about him later on....
The oriental shook his head in disbelief and focused his remaining attention with his comrades at the table.
DeMorte closed his eyes and took in a deep breath to relax a bit after his journey's end. He really didn't feel tired. . . nor sleepy, but he knew he must rest and that it had to be soon. After so many years living the way he did, the timing of even the smallest action had become rehearsed in his mind. He sighed and looked to the innkeeper and inquired of a place to stay for the night. After he recieved the key he went up to the ordained room and retired for the night.
Breannyn came back to the table with Tak's refilled cup and handed it to him with a smile. Her eyes however held concern, with curiosity desperately battling for space. She kept her questions to herself, though they fought hard to surface, and tried to tell herself that her friend would let someone know what was wrong when he was ready to. "Well, I'm gonna head up ta bed." She smiled at the table, then patted Tak on the shoulder. "Sleep well y'all." She smiled once more, and was gone up the stairs.
Linna backed up a step as Takayoshi closed his eyes. She didn't return to her seat, however, until he opened them again and smiled. 'I guess he's not ready to talk about it,' she thought.
::Well, if and when he is, we'll all be there for him,:: Ceridon replied sleepily. ::Especially Brea.::
::Matchmaker,:: Linna replied teasingly.
Linna sat with the others in the Inn for a while longer, listening intently to their stories. Finally, though, she yawned and stood up. "Melyda has a spare bed in her room at the Bard's Hall that she offered me. Ceri and I will see you in the morning. Good night to you all." She smiled at everyone and turned to leave.
"Wait," Garber said, standing up. "I'll escort you back--just to be on the safe side." Linna shrugged, smiled, and followed him out of the Inn.
"I've set the thistle lotion simmering," Linna told him as they walked through the streets. "It'll have to cool for a while, but once it's set, you'll be able to use it."
"My thanks," Garber replied as they approached the Bard Hall's gates. "See you in the morning." Linna waved and went inside. Garber lingered by the gates a moment, tempted to go to the stables and sneak another peek at Ceridon. He shied away, though, as the memory of aiming an arrow at another unicorn surfaced. He turned and slowly walked back to the Dragon Inn.
"Sleep well all and until dawn." He said to those who left. But he was looking at Linna and couldn't help thinking {I wish I had thought to offer that before Garber did}. He looked at Takayoshi and Sherwood and then Elwynn and decided that another bottle of wine might go over almost as well with them as it would with him and gestured for it. Then he settled in his seat to quietly enjoy his wine and listen to Elwynn's tale. After that he would see if anyone wanted to talk.
By now a large group of warriors, rangers, bards, and other armchair generals had surrounded Elwynn, who's story was rapidly becoming a lecture complete with detailed maps, diagrams, orders of battle, and occasional comments and questions from the gallery.
"So he ordered an attack? On this ground? With less than equal numbers? That's unsound."
"That's what I thought, Hannibal." Elwynn replied. "Under these circumstances it's never favorable to attack without at least at three to one superiority in numbers. But of course back then this kind of warfare was still new."
"He chose a sound plan." someone else offered. "Launching attacks in sucession from the right flank across to the left. It's what I would have done."
"Bah! I would have circled around to the right and concentrated on the flank."
"Who is this fellow Sickles and why is he all over this Peach Orchard?"
"This Colonel Chamberlain you speak of? He was a professor?"
"Bah! A school teacher! An amateur!"
"Oh be quiet, Worf!"
[Takayoshi T.]
The oriental listened to Elwynn's story, though intriguing and mysterious, it was too "war" like. He had always been a one-on-one tactician sort to speak. However, the night was getting long and tiresome, and so the oriental stood up and comment out loud "that he was tired and wanted a good night's sleep before the actual entertainment started" the next day.
The discussion continued to rage as Garber, Dwynn, and Sherwood had one last drink. Garber, a keen student of small-group tactics, weighed in a few times with some trenchant comments, but he mainly listened intently. Finally, though, he commented that this sort of discussion could last well into the night, and it didn't seem right to waste their last night in a good bed. Sherwood and Dwynn agreed, so they finished their drinks, bade everyone good night, and climbed upstairs into the darkened hall, the sounds of the debate fading behind them.

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