Araatris: They treck in relative silence, the rest of the team slowing the pace noticeably for Nysse and Rhese. Before midday, they reach the main road.
Rhoelyn: Nysse pulls up her hood, but her frosty breath betrays her laboured breathing. She focuses on the ground and taking one step after another.
Araatris: Beside her, Rhese leans close, his own hood shadowing his face. He whispers, “Should we take a short break? It’s not much farther now.”
Rhoelyn: She shakes her head and speaks in a hoarse whisper, “It’ll be…,” she pauses to breathe, “… easier to keep going. Rest there. You okay?”
Araatris: The druid nods and brushes his hand lightly over her back, careful to touch only cape. He tugs his jacket tighter as another traveler passes.
Rhoelyn: Nysse frowns worriedly, but stumbles before she can speak. It takes her a long moment to recover her footing. Wrune watches them silently.
Araatris: With a surly glance out of the edge of his hood for the paladin, Rhese intones quietly to Nysse. “I’m starting to feel like a fish in a (c)
Araatris: (c) potion bottle. Someone is always staring at me… at us.” He scowls and cups his hands by his mouth, blowing on them to warm them.
Rhoelyn: She snorts and takes a deep breath, “Agreed. Room to ourselves?” She mumbles back. Amberpine Lodge is finally visible further up the hill.
Araatris: Rhese sighs deeply, reaching up to rub his aching head. “Room to myself, maybe.” At her frown, he continues, “You know it’s too risky, lovely.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse argues, “Two beds? Same room?” At another shake of Rhese’s head, she tries again, “It’s not like we’d risk touching with two beds.”
Araatris: He looks at her, walking along out of breath and with her cheeks pink with cold. “That’s the least of the temptation, Nysse. Every moment before…”
Rhoelyn: She ducks her head so her hood hides her face, but he can hear her soft, nervous voice, “Oh. I guess it’s better, but I’d prefer to be near you.”
Araatris: “I know, love. Believe me… I know.” He straightens and walks quietly beside her for a while as they approach the Lodge. He pulls his hood tighter.
Rhoelyn: Nysse starts to reach out towards Rhese, but draws back quickly. She whispers, “It’ll be alright. Our friends will help us figure things out.”
Araatris: The druid nods briefly, trudging along beside her as they enter the Lodge. Wrune goes to secure them all rooms while Verune approaches them.
Rhoelyn: The huntress leans against a nearby wall and catches her breath. Rhese speaks first, “Is Wrune getting a separate room for me?” Verune nods.
Araatris: The younger druid tugs his jacket tighter and mutters, “Good. I’d appreciate a chance to rest.” He looks at Nysse. “I think I’m not the only one.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse nods, “And a hot bath.” She pushes off from the wall. She tilts her head and frowns at Verune’s expression, “Is something wrong, Verune?”
Araatris: The elder hesitates, but shakes his head. “We can talk when we have more privacy.” Rhese slips past him, going over to wait by Wrune.
Rhoelyn: “I’m going to see what Wrune got for the rooms.” Nysse steps past him and pauses, “Something tells me you didn’t come over just to say hello.”
Araatris: “No,” he admits quietly. “I didn’t.” He glances over at Rhese. “He bears watching. I have noticed his growing tension as the day advanced.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse replied in a hushed voice, “I saw it as well. It’s like he’s nervous about coming here.” She turns to look at Verune, “It worries me.”
Araatris: The elder nods, meeting her gaze. “It could be nothing but self-consciousness. Or exhaustion. … as I said, he bears watching. We won’t stay long.”
Rhoelyn: “That’s for the best. We’ll need supplies, too. They took everything but the clothes off our backs.” Nysse grins wryly, “And those are torn.”
Araatris: Verune grins. “Perhaps a short rest for you both, first. The day is barely half over. You have ample time to resupply afterwards.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse chuckles, “As long as they’ll let me into my room looking like this.” She waves to the paladin, “Wrune! What’d you get?” She heads to him.
Araatris: The paladin hands her a key. Rhese is already heading off with his. “You and Kaerryn have a room on the second floor. I already ordered a bath.”
Rhoelyn: She grins mischievously, “I’d complain, but there’s a bath to get to.” Nysse heads in and uses the handrail to pull herself up the stairs.
Araatris: Verune steps up beside her, lending an arm. The elder druid doesn’t say much, just pats her arm and escorts her to her room.
Rhoelyn: Nysse scrubs her clothes in a separate bucket and lets her clothes dry near the fire while she bathes. Refreshed, she curls up on the bed.
Araatris: At some point, she stirs slightly when Kaerryn sneaks in to deposit her pack and leave again, but then Nysse sleeps deeply, exhausted.
Rhoelyn: Late afternoon is settling into early evening when Nysse stretches across the bed. She sits up, blearily wondering why no one came to wake her.
Araatris: It doesn’t take her long to get up and dressed, curiosity and a rumbling stomach dragging her out into the hall. She pauses to glance around.
Rhoelyn: Most of the doors are closed, but she catches sight of Valerio leaving the one at the end. She waves, “Thanks for taking care of Tsume, Val.”
Araatris: The big draenei smiles to see her, coming down the hall. “Aren’t you looking much more alive, now? It was nothing at all. She’s stabled and cozy.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse laughs, motioning towards the stairs, “I feel much more alive. Although, I hope I didn’t sleep too long. I really need to get supplies.”
Araatris: He waves a dismissive hand. “Don’t worry about that. I helped Rhese take care of it a couple of hours ago. Didn’t he leave the gear in your room?”
Rhoelyn: “He did? I must have been out.” She moves quickly back to her room. She peeks back in and notes the pile near the head of her bed. “Really out.”
Araatris: Val laughs and pats her shoulder. “Safe bet. Kaerryn tried to wake you and failed. Get changed and come down. We’re meeting over dinner, soon.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse smiles, “I will.” She slips back into the room, closing the door behind her. Eagerly, she changes and looks in the standing mirror.
Araatris: The clothes are good quality, made from soft leather in shades of green and brown like the deep forest. A light fur lining means they’re warmer.
Rhoelyn: She blushes a little at the deeper v-neck. Checking her outfit one more time, she nervously leaves the room and heads downstairs towards dinner.
Araatris: In the crowded common room, she peers through the din to find her friends seated at a large table near the windows. There’s food waiting for her.
Rhoelyn: Nysse slides into the empty seat, “This smells delicious.” Val snorts, “Don’t just smell. Eat while it’s still hot!” He takes another bite of stew.
Araatris: Rhese sits across from her, the pale, tanned leather cowl of his own new armor shadowing his face. He smiles warmly. “You look nice, Nysse.”
Rhoelyn: Her cheeks are pink when her hand raises towards her chest self-consciously, “Thank you. You do, too, Rhese.” Kaerryn makes a gagging sound.
Araatris: Valerio reaches out and claps her overhard on the back. “Gotta watch how you swallow, bucket head.” The warrior catches herself against the table.
Rhoelyn: Nysse grins and begins eating quickly. Kaerryn growls at the draenei. Wrune quickly intervenes when he sees Kaerryn aiming a kick at Val’s tail.
Araatris: Rhese speaks up, looking at Nysse. “I spoke with Morthis. Our original mission is complete. We found and nullified the corruption’s source.”
Rhoelyn: She frowns, pausing mid-spoonful, “I wouldn’t say it’s nullified.” The spoon is shoved back into the bowl and forgotten, “We still have–.”
Araatris: “Yes,” he interrupts, matter-of-fact. “He’s agreed to assign our missions elsewhere for now. Until we can… resolve the new situation.”
Rhoelyn: “But shouldn’t the situation be our new mission?” Nysse fidgets and Verune lays a calming hand on her arm. He speaks softly, “Let him finish.”
Araatris: The younger druid nods at him, continuing. “He’s interested in this settlement of cursed humans we’ve discovered and wants that investigated.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse bites her lip and pulls both hands into her lap. She looks around the table and notices that no one is surprised, “Is there anything else?”
Araatris: After a moment of silence, Verune rests a hand on her shoulder. “What he’s not saying is that it will allow us to keep the Pack off your trail.”
Rhoelyn: There’s silence as Nysse blinks in confusion. Kaerryn sighs in frustration, “Oh, for the love of– You and Rhese aren’t going to the settlement.”
Araatris: Rhese shoots a frown at the warrior, but he just turns back to Nysse. “I’d like you to come with me. We have a different journey to take.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse flushes with embarrassment, but manages to meet Rhese’s eyes, “Of course I’ll go. I’d do whatever was necessary, but where are we going?”
Araatris: He can’t quite hide his sigh, even under his hood, and the moment drags out as he pokes at his food. “I’m not sure, yet. I’ll decide by morning.”
Rhoelyn: She nods. After an awkward moment, “I should go check on Tsume. I’ll be back in a few.” She quickly stands and leaves her bowl half-eaten.
Araatris: Nysse makes it back out into the cold before Rhese catches up with her. He starts to reach for her arm, but stops himself, instead calling out.
Rhoelyn: The huntress visibly jumps, but turns at the sound of her name, “Rhese?” She looks away guiltily, “I’ll be right back after I check on Tsume.”
Araatris: Rhese speaks softly. “If you really want time with her, I’ll wait.” He watches her, folding his arms against the chill and leaning against a post.
Rhoelyn: Shaking her head, Nysse sighs, “Even if I said that, you’d know I was lying. I’d just feel better near Tsume for a minute. I felt suffocated.”
Araatris: He nods with a little grin. “How about we both go see her? She can listen while you tell me why you’re upset. She’s a good listener…”
Rhoelyn: Nysse summons a weak smile, “I can do that.” They wander into the stable and Rhese waits until Nysse settles on the ground hugging Tsume.
Araatris: The druid sits near them, leaning his back against the wall. He pulls his cowl down and waits quietly until Nysse feels like talking.
Rhoelyn: She buries her face in Tsume’s fur for several minutes. Finally, she raises her head, “I’m worried. We can’t even spend the night in the same room.”
Rhoelyn: “How in the world are we going to handle traveling together? There’s no Wrune or Verune around if something happens.” Nysse groans.
Araatris: Rhese nods. “I understand, love. I’m worried, too, and I’ve made some plans for that. When we go in, we can go over everything together.”
Rhoelyn: She lays her head down, “Okay.” Rhese watches the tension fade from her shoulders. Nysse smiles, “Thank you for the clothes. I like them.”
Araatris: “You’re welcome, my lovely.” He smiles, the scythe’s marks on his face like shadows in the torchlight. “I got you warmer gloves, too.”
Rhoelyn: She sits up, “I didn’t look at the gloves.” Nysse blushes, “Honestly, I didn’t see them until Val told me. I dressed in my old clothes first.”
Araatris: Rhese shifts, bending his leg up. “You were so exhausted, Nysse. You didn’t even stir a little when I came in.” He rests his chin on his knee.
Rhoelyn: “I noticed, but it was worth it. I almost feel normal.” Nysse runs hand through her loose hair, “But I’m sorry I missed you stopping by.”
Araatris: He tilts his head a bit, offering her a hint of his usual playful grin. “I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit to watching you sleep for a little bit.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse blushes, “I hope I didn’t say or do anything embarrassing…” She pushes to her feet. “But if we’re confessing things… it makes me happy.”
Araatris: As he stands, Rhese laughs a little bit. “Well, you did roll over and strategically misplace your sheet, vixen. But I corrected that for you.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse buries her face in her hands with a groan, “I guess I should be grateful that it happened when you were there, but… let’s go back in.”
Araatris: As she turns away, he sobers. “Nysse… I don’t know exactly what this journey will be. If you want to stay with the others, I understand.”
Rhoelyn: “Despite my worries, I’d rather be at your side than anywhere else. I love you, Rhese.” She sighs, “But I thought you’d want Verune to go.”
Araatris: Rhese shakes his head, walking with her back into the Lodge. “It’s usually done alone. Even Verune wouldn’t go.” He pulls his cowl back up.
Rhoelyn: Nysse frowns, “I’m confused. Then why am I going?” She hesitates, “Will it be a problem?” The others are still talking at the table.
Araatris: He pauses with her in the doorway, leaning close to be heard above the din. “You were invited, Nysse. The cat said you could be my guide…”
Rhoelyn: She opens her mouth then closes it. Nysse shakes her head with a tiny grin and motions towards the table, “Who am I to argue with the cat?”
Araatris: Rhese nods and follows her to where the others are sitting, jostled on the way by someone in the growing evening crowd. He glances back.
Rhoelyn: Even from the back, Rhese can tell the style of gear that the hunters like Rylana tend to wear. The hooded figure hurries towards the door.
Araatris: He frowns and pauses, glancing around at the rest of the crowd as Nysse continues to the table. No one else seems to look particularly suspicious.
Rhoelyn: Rhese continues to the table, sitting across from Nysse. Valerio shoves a warm half bowl of stew and bread at Nysse, “You need to eat more.”
Araatris: Leaning over, the druid quietly asks, “The girl. Where is she?” Kaerryn blinks at him. “You mean that mutt, Rylana? She’s in a holding cell.”
Rhoelyn: “Check on her after we eat. I thought I saw someone with similar gear.” Rhese keeps his voice low. Kaerryn frowns as well, then nods. “I will.”
Araatris: Returning his attention to his lukewarm food, the druid glances up to find most eyes on him. He blinks. “What? I wasn’t paying attention.”
Rhoelyn: Verune sighs and pinches his nose, “Don’t you still have some things to go over with us, cub?” He gestures broadly, “You may wish to continue.”
Araatris: “Ah,” he smirks a little. “Right. Nysse and I will both have blinker hearths bound here at the Lodge. Morthis will notify you if one returns.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse tilts her head, “They’re going to be at the settlement, aren’t they? It may be difficult for them to get free depending on the situation.”
Araatris: Rhese looks at Nysse, shrugging one shoulder. “It’s the best we can do. Binding hearthstones to other hearthstones is still not perfected.”
Rhoelyn: “Then that’s what we’ll work with.” She mops up the juices in her bowl. “It’s better than nothing. Are there any other measures in place?”
Araatris: With another nod, he and Verune exchange looks. “We’ve prepared a few different ways for you to… deal with the wolf, if it comes to that.”
Rhoelyn: The huntress narrows her eyes, “I never like what you say when you look like that. What is it?” She finishes the last bite of her dinner.
Araatris: It’s Verune who answers, ticking a few items off on his fingers. “Some extra tranquilizers. A couple of puff-pouches of wolfsbane powder. (c)
Araatris: (c) A number of doses of a peacebloom-based soporific. Some arcane traps. And a couple of purification potions that we were able to get our hands on.”
Rhoelyn: “Drugs and traps.” She leans back and crosses up her arms with a frown, “If that happens, I can’t exactly use the hearth. It’d be too dangerous.”
Araatris: Rhese looks at her intently, grim. “If it comes to that, you could either send the hearth back alone as a call for help or … go back with it.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse brushes it off, “Of course, of course. Anyway, do you think it’d be better if Tsume came with us or should she stay with Valerio?”
Araatris: After considering it for a moment, he grins slightly. “She’ll be sad if we leave her behind. But it’s up to you, Nysse. She’s your partner.”
Rhoelyn: She stares at the ceiling thoughtfully, “I’m worried, but… she is my partner just as much as you.” Nysse nods at Rhese, “She’ll join us.”
Araatris: Kaerryn sighs and leans back, stretching her arms over her head. “Is that all? You people’re really stretching it with all this jabbering time.”
Rhoelyn: Wrune shakes his head with a grin, “I think we’re good, Kaerryn. Try not to have a hangover in the morning. If you do, I’ll let Val wake you up.”
Araatris: “Yessir, boss.” She grins in a way that says she has no intention of moderating as she gets up from the table. “Val, don’t start without me.”
Rhoelyn: “I’ll just get warmed up.” Val calls after her. The paladin sighs deeply at the broad grin on Valerio’s face, “I need to find a new threat…”
Araatris: The warrior grimaces as she passes the bar and grudgingly pauses to pick up a simple meal. Plate in hand, she tromps down to the holding cells.
Rhoelyn: Rylana hugs her knees on the small cot. When she hears heavy footsteps, she quickly wipes her face on her sleeve, but her eyes are still red.
Araatris: “Here, mutt. I brought dinner.” Kaerryn’s voice isn’t quite as harsh as her words as she grabs the keys and opens the door to the simple cell.
Rhoelyn: The young huntress mumbles a small, “Thank ya.” She lays her head back down without looking at the food. “What are ya gonna to do with me?”
Araatris: The human sets the food on the cot. “Keep you until you’re not useful, then…you go free. Find a new pack or something more healthy, like a family.”
Rhoelyn: Before Rylana can speak, Kaerryn cuts her off, “Listen. You made a mistake, but death is the chicken’s way out. Are you a mutt or chicken?”
Araatris: Sniffling, the girl says, “Ah dunno what I’m gonna be. Neither an’ nothin’.” She pokes sullenly at the food. “Ah shouldn’t have helped ya.”
Rhoelyn: Kaerryn smacks her in the back of the head, “Get your head straight. No one’s going fix it. If you don’t like what you did, then you make it right.”
Araatris: New tears lurk in the corner of her eyes as Rylana rubs her head, frowning at Kaerryn. “You suck. Fine. Mebbe that’s just what ah’ll do, then.”
Rhoelyn: “Be better than those jerks that made you think you were family. Now eat.” The warrior walks to the door, “I’ll check on you in the morning.”
Araatris: The cell door squeaks over what the little huntress says next. “- you, too.” Though she sniffs and wipes her eyes, her glare heats Kaerryn’s back.
Rhoelyn: Kaerryn spins around with dark look and growls, “Why don’t you repeat that, you little mutt?” She kicks the cell door back closed behind her.
Araatris: Rylana drops her gaze. “Jes’ go, already.” After a suitable scowl for the girl, the warrior does so, saving her grin until she turns away.
Rhoelyn: She locks the door behind her and calls out as she heads to the steps, “Don’t forget to eat! I paid for that!” Kaerryn stomps up the stairs.
Araatris: On the second floor, Rhese unlocks his door with a metallic click, leading the way inside. “… show you all the new equipment and how it works.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse follows him in and closes the door behind them, “Well, some of it is self-explanatory. I already know about the hearths and potions.”
Araatris: He nods. “The tranquilizers are made for your bow. But it’s an extra strong dose. And wolfsbane? Have you handled that, before?”
Rhoelyn: She frowns and shakes her head, “No, I haven’t worked with that before. My work with herbs is fairly limited to knowing which ones are safe.”
Araatris: Rhese points out a fabric satchel on the table. “Don’t touch it with your skin. Don’t breathe it. Whatever you do, don’t let Tsume near it.”
Rhoelyn: “If it’s dangerous, then what am I going to do with it that helps you?” Nysse raises her eyebrows skeptically. “I’d almost rather go without.”
Araatris: “It’s a last resort, love,” he says it quietly but firmly, meeting her eyes. “It’s poisonous to wolves. One alone might just knock me out. But two-”
Rhoelyn: “No. I can’t–won’t. I absolutely refuse.” Nysse shakes her head and takes a step back. “I don’t care what form you take. I will never do that.”
Araatris: He follows, starting to reach for her before stopping himself. “Nysse, if I’m so far gone that I try to hurt you… or worse… I want you to use it.”
Rhoelyn: She turns around, “I can’t, Rhese! I couldn’t even run when they pushed me in front of you or when you killed them.” Her shoulders shudder.
Araatris: Stepping forward, he chooses very carefully where he puts his hands on her arms. “It won’t come to that. Wolfsbane is just a tool you’ll have.”
Rhoelyn: She freezes. Nysse’s voice cracks, “I don’t want it.” She continues more quietly, “You’re not supposed to touch me, Rhese. If I move wrong…”
Araatris: “Then don’t move. Just… just for a moment,” he whispers. She can feel the breath of his sigh against her ear. “Take it. Please. I’ll feel better.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse closes her eyes and sniffles. He can feel the tremble in her arms. “I’ll stay still.” He barely hears her whisper, “You’re so close.”
Araatris: Rhese doesn’t move or say anything for a few long minutes, then he suddenly releases her, as if he had to tear his hands away.
Rhoelyn: She rubs her cheeks and wraps her arms around herself before turning to face him. Nysse bites her lip, seeking his gaze, “Are you better?”
Araatris: He attempts to smile, tucking his hands behind him. It’s weak. “It’s never enough.” Rhese pleads, “Say you’ll take the wolfsbane, Nysse.”
Rhoelyn: She walks over to his bed and sits, staring at the offending bag. “Even if I take it, you know I won’t be able to use it. Why do you insist?”
Araatris: Taking a deep breath, he turns and walks over to the dark window. “It’s selfish. I just want to feel like you’re safe. Even from me.”
Rhoelyn: “Rhese, you’d never hurt me. You’re no more capable of it than I am of using the wolfsbane. Using it would mean that I’ve given up on you…”
Araatris: “And if the wolf tried to hurt – or kill – you, it would mean he’s not me.” He rests his forehead against the chilly glass. “I’d already be gone.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse leans forward and buries her face in her hands, “I’ll take it. Just… stop talking about it.” Her ragged breathing fills the silence.
Araatris: The druid casts his eyes around the room. “Ah,” he says softly. “I forgot the best part.” He strides over to his pack and pulls out his new jacket.
Rhoelyn: “What are you talking about?” She grumbles. Nysse presses the heels of her hands into her eyes revealing tear-stained cheeks. “It’s not good.”
Araatris: He slips the long jacket on, buttoning it to the collar, and pulls on a new pair of gloves. Then he reaches back and pulls up his cowl. “Nysse.”
Rhoelyn: She looks up with a groan, “What…” Nysse frowns in confusion, “…are you wearing?” She stands and rubs at her bleary eyes. “Is that your coat?”
Araatris: Rhese doesn’t even bother to answer; he just crosses the room and pulls her into his well-covered arms. It takes Nysse a moment to move.
Rhoelyn: Nysse sobs in relief and throws her arms around him, “Rhese…” She bawls, a noisy, messy sound, and clings to him. “I’m sorry. I can’t stop…”
Araatris: He holds her tightly, tucking her head under his chin, his high collar between them. “It’s alright, love. We’ll make it alright. I have you.”
Rhoelyn: It seems like forever until her sobs fade to soft even breaths, “I can’t believe I did that. I haven’t cried like that since I was a child.”
Araatris: Rhese strokes her hair. “Thank you, Nysse.” She mumbles, incredulous, “For sobbing like a child?” “No. For caring. I…” He pauses, uncertain.
Rhoelyn: “Of course I care. You’re my…” She gives a tiny laugh, “I don’t know what to call it, but we’re in this together. Say what you need, Rhese.”
Araatris: He struggles with what he wants to say, nuzzling his cheek against her hair. “I… I’m glad you’re with me. Even while I wish you were safe.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse pulls away and looks up shyly into his eyes, “Beloved, my home is with you regardless of the danger. Without you, nothing feels safe.”
Araatris: He smiles and returns her gaze, the black marks on his jaw shifting. “If only I could figure out a safe way to kiss you. And keep you here.”
Rhoelyn: “Something tells me kissing cloth won’t help.” She smiles and shakes her head, “And sorry, but I already accepted. You’re stuck with me.”
Araatris: Rhese blinks at her for a minute, then groans and gives her arm a little pinch. “Sometimes I suspect you willfully misunderstand to torment me.”
Rhoelyn: “What?!” Her lips twist into a pout, “I don’t know what I missed!” Rhese raises an eyebrow, “You don’t understand why I’d want to keep you here?”
Araatris: He slides his hands to her waist and leans close by her ear, drawing in a breath to speak… but after hesitating, he just laughs on a little sigh.
Rhoelyn: Nysse blushes as Rhese straightens again, then smiles, “I hate to say this, but I do have a question about one of the safety measures.”
Araatris: Rhese brushes the last drying tear from her cheek, reluctant to let her pull away. “Of course, lovely. What do you want to know?”
Rhoelyn: “What form did they decide on for the soporific? And is it for the wolf or for you?” Nysse grasps a gloved hand and tugs Rhese towards the pile.
Araatris: “It’s primarily for me.” He points to a small, dark bottle. “Or another humanoid. It’ll have limited effect on the wolf.” He shows her the dosages.
Rhoelyn: “I see.” Nysse covers her mouth as she yawns. “Those could be handy. I’ll have my own version of inducing sleep.” She chuckles and yawns again.
Araatris: “Speaking of sleep,” he rumbles, brushing her hair back. “You’re tired. We’re both tired. I can show you the traps in the morning.”
Rhoelyn: She reluctantly draws her hands back to herself. “I guess that I should head back to my room, shouldn’t I?” One corner of her lips curls up.
Araatris: Rhese laughs softly and cups her cheek. “And I thought you didn’t understand… vixen. Nysse, you can’t stay. This jacket is too warm to sleep in.”
Rhoelyn: Nysse flushes and mumbles, “It took me a few moments.” She sighs and brushes past him, “I know. You may want to open the window and cool off.”
Araatris: “Good night, love. Lock your door. I saw a hunter in the taproom, earlier,” he says, opening the door for her. Rhese glances down the empty hall.
Rhoelyn: “I will. Hopefully, Kaerryn remembered her key.” She smiles, “Good night, Rhese.” Nysse walks down the hallway to her room, unlocking the door.
Araatris: Rhese closes the door behind her, leaning a hand against it as he listens to her steps retreating and the clicks as her door opens and closes.
Rhoelyn: He flips the lock on his door and strips off his gloves, coat, and boots and tosses them in a pile. Rhese strides to the bed and sits heavily.
Araatris: He scrubs his face with a sigh and then slips the toggles free on his armor. As he pulls it over his head, something heavy drops onto the bed.
Rhoelyn: He lays his armor to the side with a frown. “What is this?” He pulls the item free from the covers and looks it over with narrowed eyes.
Araatris: The smooth, translucent stone is cool to the touch and about the size of his palm. It’s unmarked, a flattened disc with a vaguely yellow tint.
Rhoelyn: Rhese runs his thumb over it, then flips it checking every side. Finally, he holds it up and looks through it, yellowing his view of the room.
Araatris: The lamp light glinting through the stone makes the image of the room distort oddly, and he lowers it quickly, putting his hand to his head.
Rhoelyn: He sets it on the nightstand, “Maybe it’s just a stone. I’ll ask Wrune and Verune to take a look in the morning. Just in case.” He lays back down.
Araatris: As Rhese curls into his bed and closes his tired eyes, the moonlight slants through the window and across the marks writhing across his cheek.
Araatris: They treck in relative silence, the rest of the team slowing the pace noticeably for Nysse and Rhese. Before midday, they reach the main road.