Elrithos had joined back with the others, happy to see that the young man would be eager to continue the training after a good meal. He wouldn’t go too hard on him after this, but he would learn a few things from different styles of combat. And so, he sat down with the group, surprised to actually see that Vordan was sitting in the circle with everyone, so was Aaerynn. It made the mood a lot lighter, although he could see the pain of the wood elf. She was still suffering from whatever she had, but at least, there was some kind of peace from her. He lifted his head when he was served his food, thanking the young Syndarean women for the meal.
Vordan, for his part, was reading one of his older books, reviewing a few of the pages. He had a smile on his face, and unlike other times, took the bowl of food with gratitude instead of dismissing it. The events that had happened in their short journey had changed him a little, his perspective on those of Syndarea. They weren’t all buffoons. Some had heads. Some had hearts. He couldn’t help but to look at the twins a moment then towards Aaerynn. Such an odd gathering of people, even the two newcomers he had yet to really speak to. They all had something. Every single one of them.
The mercenary put the book down, starting to enjoy the lovely meal. Everyone around seemed to be doing the same… But it was then he felt it. Vordan stopped eating for a second, a pain in his stomach starting. It wasn’t the food… He covered his mouth for a second, held it back. He set aside the bowl for a moment and went back to his book, trying to take his mind off of it. It was then that Tirian and Serna went off, Elrithos getting ready to pull Setna aside for more training. Vordan looked up and felt dizzy, now holding his stomach. He could see Rudolf looking towards him and Vordan couldn’t help it anymore. He quickly reached for a waterskin and sprung to his feet to get away quickly.
When a little ways away, he threw out the chunks of green liquid and blood mixed with eh freshly consumed meal. It wasn’t a pretty sight at all and Vordan cursed in some old, ancient language. The price of magic… Vordan started breathing heavily at that point and he leaned against a tree so he looked away from the pile of puke.
-- Watching the mercenary dart into the woods, Rudolf sighed gently with concern and huffed as he got up. He quickly waddled over to Aaerynn who had yet to pick her head up from what she was doing. She would eat a few bites of her meal before continuing to scrape off her dagger. Even as the dwarf approached, she was too engrossed in what she was doing to notice him.
The dwarf cleared his throat before speaking. "Aaerynn? Do you have anything for upset stomachs?"
"Mmm?" The wood elf mumbled before looking up with a curious expression and a raised eyebrow. "Yes, I do. What's wrong?"
The dwarf didn't seem to know how to answer. It wasn't his place to tell the wood elf of the mercenary's magic, so he did his best to speak in layman's terms. "Vordan hasn't been feeling too well. Lad had a bit of a rough spat yesterday and I think he's suffering the same tonight."
There was a subtle frown on Aaerynn's lips that the dwarf caught before she turned to riffle through her bag. She procured a small leather bag closed by a drawstring. "Do you have a mug and some water?"
The dwarf straightened and hurried off to grab her what she needed and returned with an old wooden mug and a canteen. The wood elf took them and poured a bit of powder from the pouch into the mug, and mixed it with a good amount of water. Rudolf held out his hand to take it from her but was surprised instead to see Aaerynn stand up. The dwarf tried to interject. "I can take it Ryn, you're not doing too well yourself..."
Aaerynn waved him off as she walked over to where Vordan had been sitting. "It's fine, I need the exercise."
Rudolf sighed and let her go. He supposed it wasn't all bad, if the young mercenary was trustful enough to tell him of his talents, he'd probably tell the others. Even if he didn't, Aaerynn's medicine might help him feel a bit better anyway.
It didn't take too long to find him. All Aaerynn had to do was follow the sharp and distinct smell of vomit, and sure enough there he was, leaning against a tree for support. He was breathing heavy and as the wood elf got closer the amount and color of stomach contents spewed across the grass made her eyebrows draw together in concern. Even in the fading sunlight she could see the distinct green, as well as the streaks of blood mixed in. This wasn't an illness. Aaerynn's light eyes looked up to observe the young man as she finally spoke, loud enough to grab his attention. "What was it you told me this morning? Ah yes, I believe it was 'Of course. Just needed to sleep it off.'"
The wood elf raised her eyebrow at him, and her lips maintained an unimpressed frown as she held out the mug towards him. "Here." Her voice finally became soft as she spoke. "It's ginger root and a mild pain reliever...it should help your stomach, or at least soothe some of the damage puking that up caused."
She waited for him to take it from her before providing more instruction. "Sip it slowly, or your stomach will turn again." – -
Vordan had closed his eyes, not wanting to see his surrounding spin before him… It got him jumping when he heard someone’s voice. His eyes shot open and focused on the blonde lady that stood there, a mug in her hand. Had he said that? It wouldn’t even surprise him that he did. It typically never went this far, but with the events stacking upon each other, his exposure to magic had increased drastically. He didn’t move, simply sighed a little.
‘’I normally can just sleep it off… Seems I went a little too strong this time.’’ He said, feeling it again in his stomach. He took a deep breath. Aaerynn had stepped forward, handing him a mug. Vordan was about to just chug it down, until he heard what it was. He looked up at her, then back at the liquid. He brought it to his lips, then heard to drink it slowly. He did so, taking his time… He then set it aside and looked up at her.
‘’Thanks… Hopefully, it doesn’t co-‘’ A rough cough caught the mercenary, using his elbow to hide his mouth… And he then saw some blood there. He really needed to calm down on the intense magic… It seemed to have reached his lungs now. ‘’… Damn…’’
-- Aaerynn watched him, her light eyes were unwavering and observant. Her hands clenched and unclenched at her sides as he began to cough and she could see it. The blood left over on his lips, the roughness of his cough. It unnerved her, and she wasn't exactly sure as to why. He was a human being that was interesting to her, that much was true, and perhaps she was becoming over emotional from her own pain. Or maybe she was just holding onto useless words he had told her. But, either way, she didn't like seeing this. She didn't like it at all. Her gaze turned to the discolored vomit on the ground. That wasn't caused by illness or disease. Something was wrong with his system. "You're... suffering from a kickback aren't you?" She voiced her thoughts, before her gaze turned to linger on his face. "Or perhaps...an overdose on magic."
She cut the shit. She wasn't going to lay it on thickly anymore or try to persuade it out of him. She knew.
Vordan looked up at her, his eyes lingering a moment. He then sighed, wiping the blood off of his lips. ''I'm suffering from both... It has never been this bad. Guess they never tell the painful stories the Makers had...'' He said, reaching for his waterskin and getting some water down in his system. He followed by tossing it not too far from him. ‘’I just overdid it… It will come back to a balanced state. Just means laying off the magic and the potions for a little while.’’ He said, taking in another deep breath.
His sight trailed off to nowhere for a moment. ‘’Better go back with the others… But thank you for the medicine.’’
-- Makers? Aaerynn lit up in recognition at the name and then her face turned puzzled. Makers had been from Ellahur, right? Her memories went back to the first day of the journey...that's right he had said he was from there, wasn't he? She hadn't really paid attention to anyone's introductions, and had placed it in the back of her mind. She cursed herself for doing that, everything would have made a lot more sense in the long run.
Returning to reality, the wood elf caught his last words about heading back and then the thank you. Yet he made no move to head back himself. Was he dismissing her? Aaerynn's face softened a bit in uncertainty. She didn't really want to leave him alone, especially in this state. It wasn't really up to her though.
"You don't have to thank me. I'm the one that owes you." Aaerynn stood there, feeling rather awkward. She mulled over her thoughts, bits and pieces coming together until she finally looked up at his face once more. "Can I ask you something? Or...Could we talk?"
The wood elf grimaced as the question left her lips. She wasn't used to this, and her uncertainty was absolutely clear. How strange it was that she could easily pretend with strangers. She could flirt and chat and converse as if it were her second nature. Yet the real her struggled with just basic kindness and conversation. She didn't know where this sudden need came from, whatever this was. But she was trying her hardest to change and to be better. She had things in common with him, and he was agreeable. For even that one night, that short amount of time, she had enjoyed being with him. Whether his words were trustworthy or not, they had pushed her, even that short distance and his actions had commended him.
The wood elf paused and finally shook her head. She was being ridiculous. "It can wait though...if you'd rather not." She shifted her weight, before picking up the mug to bring it back. "Let me know if you need anything else. When you feel better, I'll teach you some of my vials. I still owe you that." –
She owned him one… He thought about that for a second. Maybe they she did, maybe she didn’t, but it didn’t seem to matter for Vordan. She needed the help, she got it. Now he needed the help and she was giving it to him. A nice act of her part, one he would remember. He sighed lightly, making himself a little more comfortable against the tree and looked up to Aaerynn. She asked if they could talk, which did surprise him a little, but it wasn’t something he could refuse from her.
His smile grew, even as she tried to push her demand away. He laughed a little. ‘’We could talk if you want to… It’s not like I’m going to be moving from here quite yet.’’ He was still a little uncomfortable with the pain in his stomach and lungs, but he could do with it. He pushed himself to his feet, still a little dizzy. ‘’… But if we’re going to talk… let’s find a spot that doesn’t have that disgusting smell.’’ He said, still leaning on the tree.
-- Aaerynn's eyes widened a bit at the fact that he granted her request. She had expected him to refuse. Usually people feeling sick or in pain were too ornery to talk, at least humans were from her experience. She would rather distract herself, which was working for her, for the most part. The pain was reaching her joints but she couldn't help feeling...pleased. But at the mention of the smell, her nose scrunched. Point taken.
"Would you like some help?" She offered. –
“Yes please…” Vordan wasn’t scared to ask for help in these types of situations, although he was used to relying on himself to get himself places. He slowly stepped away from the tree and leaned onto Aaerynn, making sure he wasn’t putting all his weight on her. It was a little bit of relief for his walk. It would be great to get back without falling over unconscious in the woods.
The both of them moved forward, back towards the camp, but in an angle. Vordan eventually asked to be let go, in which he leaned onto a tree and slid down, a soft sigh escaping his lips. He turned back towards the Wood Elf. “You have something to ask, you said? Go ahead.”
-- Aaerynn eased herself down to the ground in order to sit. She sighed and rolled her shoulders, trying to fend off the ache. She'd have to sedate herself tonight if she wanted to get any sleep and no nightmares. After cracking her fingers the wood elf thought over what she wanted to say. There was actually a lot she wanted to ask him. He was an obviously intelligent person, even though she teased him before, and it would be nice to pick his brain a bit, especially about her recent findings on her blood mixing with the Syndarean's. However, she couldn't help asking him something that just popped into her head as she helped him walk.
"I'm sorry, it's mostly to sate my curiosity." She looked over at him, mulling over this question and whether she had the right to ask. "You said you are a Maker...but how did you get out of Ellahur? They were the first to try and dismantle all things magic after the war...I can't even comprehend how you were able to slip through their fingers with your magic intact."
The female elf was surprised at herself for not figuring it out sooner. His inventions, his scribbles and especially his bandages. She looked at him a bit inquisitively before adding, "If that is too personal a question, I understand." –
Having taken a comfortable position, after readjusting his breastplate a little, he listened to the question that was asked of him. It was a very specific and personal question indeed, one he hadn’t heard in years. Being a mercenary like him and with all his secrets, making friends wasn’t exactly that easy. Revealing his past was an even harder task. Yet, it didn’t seem to matter with this group anymore. They all had something, every single one of them.
His eyes rose to the sky for a moment. “Well, normally, these talents are discovered young and the parents take their children to the Ripper to have it removed… It was the law. My parents decided it would be my choice. I chose to leave and actually do something with this magic. No one ever noticed because I always hid it.” He laughed as he looked towards Aaerynn. “They have the means to take it out, but they can’t detect it… Those items were destroyed after the war. Only some small versions of the Rippers remain.”
He put his head against the wood, breathing softly. “I thought being a Maker would be easy, but with all the injuries, the illnesses and everything that comes with it, it made my task a lot harder… But still enjoyable.” He smiled softly. "My research lead me to incredible things. Even to talk to animals, believe it or not. Learned an old, druid language that made conversing with animals possible. I can also speak the language of demons... But that is another story."
-- Aaerynn finally chose to lean back on her arms. Pushing weight on them and making her muscles work seemed to alleviate some of the ache. The wood elf watched his face and was surprised to hear him answer her. She couldn't tell if she should take it as a sign of trust or if he would tell anyone of the group...but it still made her a little happy. As she listened she couldn't help wondering if his parents loved him so much to give him a choice or whether it was just the opposite. She closed her eyes though as the pain began to build to its peaking point and her body tightened up to deal with it. She held onto each of his words as a distraction and a small smile etched across her face as she listened to his somewhat ridiculous findings. Talking to demons? Really? As the pain began to decline she opened her eyes once more to look at him.
"Are you afraid at all that it might kill you?" She finally asked, taking in his expression. –
Vordan watched the wood elf trying to make herself comfortable… His bandages had done wonders, but it seems that she was still a little beaten by the events of the other day. Yet, Vordan felt it wasn’t the extent of it. It clearly had more to do with the Rot than she was probably willing to say. He wasn’t going to go ask her about it… It seemed enough of a burden as it is. But, she asked a question that he knew the answer quite well.
He shook his head. “Afraid? I wouldn’t say so… The fear is always there that it will take me, but it’s a risk for a reward. Like my crossbow. I almost paid the price, but now, the magic inside is stable, without kickbacks to use it. Sure, it cost me one of my fingers, but it is well worth it. I live for the day, until the next sunrise or sunset. If I see those, then it means I did well… I don’t regret anything I’ve done in my life so far…”
His eyes wondered around for a moment and then he turned back to Aaerynn. “I was given life, I’m going to enjoy it until the day I draw my last breath, through the pain and the suffering. Beside, even if I die, my books will continue my work. Just need someone else to pick them up… But enough about me. What about your story Aaerynn?”
-- Aaerynn didn't know what to think as she listened to him. It reminded her of that morning, when she had asked Serna about human mortality. The answer seemed to be the same, the idea that they could live on in some way. For Serna it was just her memory, and for Vordan its his books and notes. Humans were fascinating creatures, but then again, they always were to her. If she were honest with herself, she was still alive merely from the fact that she didn't want to die. She fought and struggled to keep going. But that in and of itself was certainly wearing her down. Death hadn't become such an uncomfortable thought. What exactly would she be remembered for though?
His mention of losing a finger made her think about his scarred arms. He had gone through a lot of pain for his magic and his findings. Aaerynn frowned as he said he didn't have any regrets either. That was hard for the wood elf to believe. Her own life was filled with nothing but regrets. But then he asked her a question that she had been somewhat expecting. It wasn't fair of her to try and peek into his past without offering bits of herself in return. The wood elf sat up a bit, trying to find her words as she gazed at the ground in front of her. Eventually she rubbed the scar on her shoulder, both for comfort and to try and alleviate the pain blossoming in her chest.
"My story?" She mused, before saying. "I'm afraid it's not as interesting as your's." –
Vordan didn’t expect much of an answer really, but he could try at least. He waited for her answer, settling in quite nicely into the tree now. Then, she spoke forth, but it wasn’t what he expected. Not interesting? How odd for a being of at least a century to not have an interesting story. He couldn’t believe it, but hey, maybe her life was quite peaceful and without risk, which seemed improbable. Vordan kept his smile and shook his head once more.
“Not interesting? You know a Wolf God… Or Goddess, I don’t remember. You take pleasure in stealing from poor rich bastards. You have a wolf that follows you around… You know how to do a lot of things and you say your story is not interesting?” He laughed lightly, flinging his arm up as a chain whipped out of his wrist and rolled itself onto a branch above him. He slowly rose to his feet with the help of it and then proceeded to have it come back into his wrist. “I am sure you can tell me a little something before we go back.”
-- Aaerynn listened to him as her head bowed and she rubbed her scar absentmindedly. She made no move to get up as she remained planted there, her eyes focused only on the grass. Whether her life was interesting or not, it was filled with foolish, and embarrassing mistakes. But Vordan had opened up to her and he had told her what she wanted to know. Perhaps, she could reveal bits of herself as well.
She finally spoke and looked up at him with what seemed to be a teasing smile. "The elves don't give genders to the gods. They are what they are. My mother served the Wolf god, they never had interest in me. Kai follows me out of duty, I saved him from a human bear trap when he was young and nursed him back to health before sending him back to his pack. I assume he is repaying me for that...and I steal from fools in order to survive and because humans are easy to take advantage of."
She paused then and looked down as she gripped her shoulder. The smile was gone as her grip tightened against the scar that was bottling up the black sludge of blood beneath her skin. "I have to survive from stealing and conning because..." She paused, turning silent. When she opened her lips, everything spilled out. "When I was young, I fell in love with a human man. He promised me great things, and taught me many things as well... After giving up everything for him, he later rejected me for a human girl. An arrangement from his family."
Her voice was soft, filled with the century of pain and bitterness she felt. "I was banished from my race and my home because of it. I was lucky I was banished. Normally elves that sleep with humans are killed for such treason, especially in the North. My father was able to sway the council... and my mother wished I had never been born." She looked up with a rueful look. "Such a shame to my family's name."
Aaerynn looked down at the ground again, feeling her throat closing up. There was more to this story, there always was, but this would have to do. She felt like she couldn't look at him. Here was a man with a burden that he pursued with all of his strength and feeling. While she on the other hand, continued fumbling through her years without real purpose. She almost felt sorry that she was the being who could live for centuries, and he wasn't. If Vordan had been given immortality, he would be able to accomplish such great things and grab hold of all his goals. Aaerynn couldn't help feeling ashamed of herself. "My life is filled with complicated, pathetic and embarrassing mistakes that I keep stumbling over. I'm afraid I can't look at my past without regrets, like you can." –
Her initial story was one that amazed the mercenary, more than what Aaerynn might have thought. Serving a God so closely in their family? Actualyl having its physical presence? That was beyond what most humans would even imagine to be able to do. And saving the wolf? It was a story worth to be known. Maybe it wasn’t such a great thing in their culture, but in his… Beyond believable. Vordan kept that light, warm smile for her whole story.
Yet, there, it surfaced again, that unconscious pain of hers. Her thoughts were hurting her, her past or whatever she was thinking about. Vordan stood there a moment, listening to what she was about to explain to him. And she had finally spilled it. Vordan lost his smile for a moment, hearing about what had happened to her. A sad love story… That was the source? It wasn’t as simple as he thought, but he could see the pain it was causing her just to talk about it. She continued on with her family and her race, making Vordan’s heart sink. How could someone do that? Break her heart, take her home away, disown her… She wasn’t brought up like he was.
Vordan stood there in silence, looking away a moment to stare at the grass… What could he say to this? Everything was taken away from her. She didn’t choose this life; she was forced to live it. Yet, his thought lingered a moment, and he took a few steps to be right beside her, slowly dropping down on one knee. “I didn’t think that would be your story… I’m sorry…” He said softly before he brought a hand up to her shoulder, on top of her hand. A smile crept up on his lips.
“We all make mistakes, ones that cost us dearly sometimes, others just being minor decisions… But you want to know the beauty of it? You still live… You still live to see the sun rise in the morning, which means it isn’t too late to change your story. You can’t change what has become, but you can choose what you do from here on end. It’s one of the joys of freedom; we get to choose…” Vordan stood back up slowly, stumbling a little but regained his composure. “… Always see the positive… Besides, you saw my arms, how many mistakes did I do in my life you think? Many… More than I tell… But, I can still do as I want… You know what you need? A good hobby.” Vordan smiled widely. “Come on… I’ll show you a few tricks of mine for dealing with people in taverns and teach me a few mixtures. Put your mind off of everything. What do you say?”
-- She was expecting him to mock her. So she kept her head down, unwilling to watch his face if he were to laugh or snide at her misfortune. Aaerynn would be the first to admit that it was ridiculous. If she had been a "good" girl and had ignored him that day, none of this would have happened. She wouldn't have fallen in love with a man that didn't love her as he said he did. She wouldn't have driven her mother into her last stages of rot and grief. She wouldn't have been so foolish as to run back to him to try and save him, only to watch him die in front of her, his blood splashed across her face. Aaerynn's grip tightened on her shoulder. Why did she tell him?
Aaerynn jolted slightly as she felt his hand touch her's and she looked up in surprise, taking in Vordan's brown eyes and his smile. His hand was much warmer than her own, and the female elf felt her shoulders sag in comfort. His words weren't mocking at all, instead they were kind and even gentle. She raised an arched brow at his positivity. How could he do that? How could he keep going with just the belief that it was all worthwhile if he got to see the sunrise? Why? Aaerynn couldn't exactly believe all of his words, but she wouldn't ignore the truth in them. She had the freedom to change, and the ability to do as she pleased. She had a choice. But how could she be like him, and live past the mistakes?
The wood elf snorted slightly, almost a laugh, at the idea that all she needed was a hobby and she hid a smile behind her hand. "A hobby?"
She wanted to laugh but she held it back. This was unfamiliar ground that she hadn't experienced in over a century. Slowly, she struggled to her feet, her body worn from its abuse. "If you say so, I wouldn't mind. But should you really be doing anything in the state you're in? You're better off getting some rest. I have some aids that might help you sleep." –
Vordan stepped right up towards a tree and leaned on it for a moment to turn back towards Aaerynn. She didn’t seem to take him seriously, but then again, it could sound quite ridiculous. Vordan knew how to keep himself busy, that was for sure. He laughed again, looking in front of him. ” I probably shouldn’t, but what I’m going to show you a few things that are just… Inventions and tricks of mine that are effortless. We can wait for the mixtures.”
Vordan motion her to follow up, taking his time to go back towards the group.