New Tensions


Breannyn finally pulled herself away from her sketchbook long enough to see Elwynn disappear into the brilliant blue vortex. She blinked, mouth dropping open slightly at the unexpected vision. No matter what she saw while around Elwynn she still wasn't used to all the strange occurences that seemed to follow the elf about. She had read about things like the blue vortex...but seeing them was an entirely new experience.
It was only then...once she'd pulled herself back to reality...that she noticed the tension in the surrounding group. It made her slightly uneasy...and a bit ashamed that she hadn't noticed before.
Garber watched with bemusement as the vortex closed in on itself, slowly shaking his head. He'd heard stories about Elwynn--who in Montfort hadn't?--but that still hadn't prepared him for actually interacting with her. Powerful she was, but she still seemed awfully...flighty. He looked around at the others, and decided to take charge of the evening's preparations.
"Dwynn, why don't you stay here and take the first watch with me?" he said. "We'll need to keep enough people here to have two people for each watch. DeMorte and Sherwood can take the middle--"
"And Ceri and I the last," finished Linna. "That should work."
Garber nodded. "Is that agreeable to everyone?"
"I guess we need adequate numbers at both ends but how about you and Ceridon take first watch and me and Linna last...." Dwynn fell silent as Ceridon interrupted.
::No, it would be better if Linna and I stayed together,:: she sent flatly. ::After all, we *have* been linked for three years.:: She could feel the astonishment from the others, especially Dwynn, but she shut it out. She couldn't entirely shut out Linna's puzzled, wordless query, though she did her best to ignore it.
Linna frowned at Ceridon. Certainly they did work well together, but it wasn't a bad idea for them to get used to working with others now. And she'd rather liked the idea of getting to know Dwynn a bit better. His sad background had failed to destroy a certain sweet kindness in him, and she was curious to know how he'd maintained it. But Ceri always managed to step in between them.
She almost sent a blistering mental reply back, but then she caught some of Ceri's feelings down their link. Tenseness--even fear--and anger...anger directed not at Dwynn, or at Linna, but at herself. It was that which made Linna pause, then lean over and touch Dwynn softly on the arm. "Please don't say anything yet," she murmured to him. "She's fighting something. I don't know what it is, and she doesn't really know either--yet. We should give her time to figure it out. Though if she doesn't soon, I'll give her a good talking-to," she finished with a grin.
She glanced down at her sketchbook, where a quick drawing of Linna and Ceridon now graced the page, and frowned. There was an unhappy air about the sketch and she chided herself for missing it earlier. She put the book away in her pack and turned to watch the group, uncertain as to what the problem might be. Patiently, she watched...trying her best to figure out what she'd missed and trying vainly to see if there might be some way she could help ease the moment a bit more.
Sherwood looked 'round the camp, taking in & memorizing locations of all their belongings. To Garber he looked up & nodded, sensing... something. He wasn't sure what. He walked over to DeMorte, confronting the larger man directly, and risked a look straight into his face. "The time _feels_ near when we'll ALL have to work together to get out of a tight spot. I need to know," then he interrupted himself, forcing himself to relax, "er, WE need to know how best to use each of our talents. My own are evident: skill with bow & sword, a woodsman's eye, and on occasion a laugh or two. Yet I remain curious as to what your particular skills might be should we enter a combat. Before I bed down tonight, I insist on planning how we might best use our combined skills. Now then, I've explained my capabilities plainly enough. What about yours?" With that Sherwood, seemingly stressed a bit, took another deep breath and tried, visibly, to relax. Although the group had become friendlier than most, it was still difficult to share an ever- increasing path with them after so many years alone.
[Takayoshi T.]
"Hey what about me?" contested the oriental, "just because I am not speaking, doesn't mean that I am dead! Besides, Brea and I would love to take the first watch. Furthermore, I am really itching to get away from camp after awhile. Besides, there's something fishy about place, it seems almost too quiet. Therefore, I insist to take the first watch."
The look on his face was one of slight anger and seriousness.
Brea blinked again at Tak's sudden outburst. She really HAD missed quite a bit while she'd been drawing. She stood up then and opened her mouth to say something herself, but was cut off by Dwynn's angry retort.
"Fine! You can have the first watch for all I care. Garber and I can keep second. But keeping watch does involve not getting away from camp." Turning to Sherwood he continued, "I am more interested in what DeMorte has to say anyway."
The priest looked to Sherwood with a look as solemn as the most humbled servant as he answered the man before him. He had been listening to all, but did not know truly what to say to his brethren. "My gifts?" His voice still as soft and melodious as always, but still held a softened way, as if he were falling from a long dream. "I am well versed in many arts of hand to hand combat. All priests of my people are this way. As well we are warriors of the wind. Our voices can enchant, quell beasts, even allow for us to heal should we know the wound. Music is another weapon. A simple lullaby can be deadly within our voices, as well a graceful breath can sooth a savage heart."
He turned back to the open road and closed his eyes. "Though, there are now new things I can do through a series of tragic events. I no longer need respite. All I really need is to be reminded to eat as well to take a trek here and there for some sage to line my cloak. My staff is my weapon of choice. And I wield it as if it were a part of me." His cloaked form turned back to Sherwood and he nodded to him. "I hope this should suffice thine questions for the time being. If not, please, do not hinder anything thou mayeth wish to know. I shall answer all."
The blood rushed into his face and, with a sense of relief, he sighed and nodded to DeMorte. "I apologize for intruding, Sir. But up to now, there's been some," he looked shamefacedly at the rest of his travelling companions, "er, _conjecture_ about your skills. We had heard of priests that healed the sick. And even those who make blood sacrifice to their gods. But we know precious little about the skills of priests that might be valuable during battle. Although we had seen an example of your use of your voice in the charming of the eagles, I had doubt until just now about your ability to use the gift in a meaningful manner against an enemy." Sherwood backed two steps from the tall priest, eyes downcast, paused in thought, considering the meaning of what he had just learned.
Brea scratched her head, leaning from foot to foot and looking very much like a child that had to use the bathroom. She didn't know what to say. Tak was a of the first she'd really ever made...and certainly the first she'd ever really opened up to. Not that she'd yet told him all that much about her was more than she'd told to anyone...ever. Which made her want to defend him against Dwynn's displaced anger.
On the other hand, she felt suddenly irritated at the both of them. Why was it that men always seemed to argue over stupid things like who took what watch? Or who was a better fighter? What did it really matter? So long as whatever needed to be done...actually got done...what difference did it make who DID it? It annoyed her to no end, but she forced herself to bite her tongue. Instead, she stood with lips pursed together until they'd turned white, hands on hips, and a disapproving glare in her eyes. Not that either of the men seemed to notice.
Linna looked around the group with concern plain on her face. She wondered how their group had gone from a unit with a single purpose to this squabbling band. She cast about in her mind for something-- *anything*--to calm things down, when suddenly...
Just at that moment another blue vortex opened, and Elwynn spilled out of it, followed by a rather grim-looking fellow dressed in black. The two were engaged in some sort of combat involving glowing rods that vaguely resembled swords.
"Eat death, Sith Lord!" Elwynn cried, as yet another vortex opened up behind her.
The dark-clad fellow said nothing, merely scowling as he parried a flurry of blows from the elf-maid. As soon as the second vortex opened, Elwynn hurtled herself into it, shouting a last insult at her foe.
"Palpatine is a weenie!"
With a cry of anger the dark-clad fellow followed the elf into the vortex. With a flash, both of the strange whirling wormholes vanished, leaving no trace of their existence, or of the two combatants, behind them.
Linna stood stock still, her jaw flapping open. Glancing around, she saw that the others, even Ceridon, weren't in much better condition. Silence, broken only by the chirping of crickets, settled over the camp for a few seconds.
But as soon as Linna caught Ceridon's eyes, and she saw the laughter brimming in them, her own amusement burst forth. Soon she was doubled over and hugging her sides, breathless with laughter. It didn't take long for most of the others in the group to join her.
Again, the tension was broken a bit by Elwynn's strange antics. Brea's mouth fell open a second time as the elf burst out of another blue vortex followed by a darkly clad man. The two disappeared as quickly as they'd arrived, but it took Brea a moment afterwards to break her astonishment.
Garber laughed, letting the tensions of the past few moments drain away. 'Elwynn couldn't have timed that better if she'd tried,' he thought as the laughter of the group died away.
"Look, folks," he began in a conciliatory manner. "I know we're not a mercenary company, and I'm not trying to give orders. If anyone is, it should be Linna and Ceridon, since it's on their behalf that we're here."
"Oh, no," Linna interrupted with more laughter. "Leading an expedition like this is not my cup of tea."
Garber smiled back at her and continued. "My suggestion was just that-- a suggestion. I'm certainly willing to listen to any the rest of you have. I just thought that Takayoshi's idea of scouting back along our path was a good one, and as he and Breannyn work well together, they ought to go back together. What do the rest of you think?"
Brea's astonishment at Elwynn's strange disappearing act, turned quickly to further astonishment at Garber's suggestion. First, she had apparently been volunteered against any word of her own to take first watch. Now, she was being volunteered again to go scouting. She wondered suddenly how she'd turned so invisible that no one, not even Tak had bothered to ask HER what SHE wanted to do.
Sherwood was shaken out of his reverie - and embarrassment - by Elwynn's reappearance. Linna's tension-shattering-tittering was catching too, and he began to snicker into his gauntlet. Looking at DeMorte, he caught the Tall Man's eye and did the simplest thing he could think of: he winked. And hoped the man would forgive his temerity.
"Hmmph." Brea stomped off to the wagon, not really knowing why she was getting so irritated so easily, but feeling that somehow she was being set up. For what, she had no idea, and in some ways that just served to make things worse. She grabbed her sword from the wagon and quickly put it on, then stomped back through the camp. "If'n we're goin'...let's GO." She growled at Tak. "Standing here arguin' ain't goin' to solve nothin'...and th' night only lasts so long ye know."
With that she disappeared on the other side of the camp...heading back the way they'd came...and leaving it to Tak to decide whether to follow or not.
"I do not see what is so hilarious." Dwynn turned away and left to find some solitude. {It was at least a little funny. But, every time I try to do something constructive, something comes up and now I have to stay away from Ceridon without knowing why.} Figuring that second watch would come earlier than desirable Dwynn turned to what would have to do instead of a bed and closed his eyes.
Garber opened his mouth to say something, but then let out his breath in a sharp gust and glanced ruefully around at the others. He turned to Takayoshi and Breannyn and simply said, "Good luck." He briefly thought of adding more, but figured they didn't really need any advice from him. He sat down on a rock by the fire, ready to stand the first watch with whoever joined him.
The newly felt tension among the group only served to underscore his tendancy to be uncomfortable around people. With a sad, wry grin Sherwood thought to himself, "Its no wonder I like being outdoors --- alone!" Not knowing who was upset with whom, he volunteered, "We _still_ need to finish setting watches. What'll be, DeMorte? Do we pair up for second?"
Garber glanced over at Dwynn's prone form. "Why don't you and I take the first watch, Sherwood?" he said. He hadn't had much of a chance to interact with Sherwood yet, but the woodsman struck him as being basically a sensible fellow, and he felt he could use that at the present moment. He sighed inwardly, hoping tomorrow would be a better day for them all.
Sherwood turned to Garber, and felt relief, momentarily forgetting the tensions of the moment. "Sure, Garber... be glad to. You have preference as to which side of the camp to watch on?"
"No, no preference," Garber replied. He stood up, adjusting his sword belt, and made ready to take a preliminary survey of the area while the camp settled down for the night.

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