The familiar stranger stood strong before the squabbling trio with an almost regal air, his front slightly masked by the harsh shade of the sun while all around his figure there seemed to shimmer a glowing outline in likeness of the favor of The Eye itself. He was lean yet muscular, with short, black, balding hair covering his crown; His face was rough, showing evidence of a lifetime of harsh circumstances in the twist of his nose and the droop of his lazy left eye - and though now lax in posture, the forearms and hands betrayed a somewhat more martial background. Yet despite the sharp tones of his build and the firm silhouette he cast across the wilted flax, Sedric clearly possessed a more than 'civilized' sense of style about him - and if for nothing else than vanity or the fancy of the nobility, his garments remained well-kept and tidy...flaring ever-so-slightly into the realms of flamboyancy, yet lacking in that crucial appearance of utter, criminal wealth of status, as was befitting of those others born properly of the mercantile or manipulative classes.
"Plheasahnt's nh't eksaktly teh whaarding Ih hehrd yah lohst describe't ahs, Ghabrye...", Sedric snorted, clawing at the sweat irritating his hazel eyes, "...bhu bhesyhd tha' besyhde, whaat's this quarrel ghone off 'bout? These toho bhrrats stihl acktin' their age?" Mother out-scoffed the weary traveler with the ease of a sow well-acclimated to the discordant squeals of her litter, waving a hand over the ragged pair with an offhanded wisdom: "Age? Boys'r 'n ageless loht - one mohmehn they'cud tahlk teh earh off'a philosopher, the verry next they'll beh tossin' uhp dihrt lyhk ah couple o' acrid ol' gohats." She grinned smugly at Sedric, eyeing him up and down; "...Although Ih see suhm of'ya Billies 'ave prog'rest tah walking on tywo lhegs."
Ifor caught the faintest of smiles flickering on by under the reddened man's gaunt cheeks, and though its immediate meaning was lost to him, he couldn't help but notice the slight resemblance of character possessed by the two elders. What two rival constellations did writhe in battle amidst opal skies on the night of these two warriors' births? What strange coin affixed itself between those houses of an ancient and singular, trivial lineage - to repeat the cyclical tradition of enmity that had possessed their families for generations? How much longer would such an ancient ritual carry on when the former house bore stunted offspring and the latter remained single - or was that time yet to come? Would he too eventually be forced to suffer through the incessant nature of some spiritually-molded agitator? "What, isn't't legaal fer ah man tah carry ah grudge?"
"If 'tis, yhour lhisense 'as certanely exphired bye now, Sehdric."
"...KHOM'ERE, YOU TROUBLEMAKER YOUH!", cried the hunter to the exasperated shrieks of his quarry, yanking the smaller woman's balance out from underneath her with one fluent motion; Like a ragdoll he hurled her tan frame over his right shoulder, jutting a finger out towards the two youths fixed adjacent beneath the mischievous glow of his mile-wide grin: "Let's cuht this dreahdfall heat with uh fhew drinks, ahye bohys? WHO'S WITH ME!?"
Ifor and Scrounger exchanged glances, then looked back and shrugged; "Youh payin?", Ifor inquired in his usual monotone base, to which Sedric briefly struggled to retrieve a rather fat pouch of coins. The prosperous jingle of its girth set a twinkle in Scrounger's attentive blues, and with hands like a thief he sharply snatched the purse away for his own anxious inspection. "Taste them ihf yah lyhke, Lhiehihn - buht'ashure youh, they're ahl ohf honhest'mhint; straight from the Chief Constable's pocket toh mah own." The lanky lad sifted his fingers through the pouch with dazed disbelief, while from over Sedric rumbled the thunderous portentousness of a tempest about to burst; "Ifor, tell this kraass bhull toh set youhr muhther down, 'fore ah certain sumwonn eahrns ah slight ihmped'mint toh their ghaite..."
"Sedric, ghonna nheed youh tuh puht'er dohwn 'fore Ih ehndupp havin' tah geld yhar liddle-fellas."
"Oh-ho-ho!", the elder man replied, holding the squirming, black-maned woman firmly between the crook of his arm; "Tha' sohnds lyhke ah biht ohf ah challenge toh mee! Oh, but ihf'tis, yu'd buhst hahve sumethin' tuh wayge'r, aye? Wha' shall'ee wayge'r, Gahbrye?"
"...Aih hate youh."
"Heh-Heeh, I knoh - buh'tha' doesn't 'nswer myh question!", Sedric chuckled, his feet beginning to shift anxiously from the weight. She sighed, grumbling: "Aih dunno...Sohmthin' he won'mis, then..."
"LO, WEH HAVE AH VOLUNTEER!"
"Whai', wHA--", was about all she could say before a sudden jolt shifted the vowels inside her mouth into a hoarse gurgle; and just like that, the race was on. Yet, Ifor's feet stood planted, and he suddenly felt...strange...ethereal. He glanced up into the streaming glare of the sun, but was instead met with a harsh and sudden darkness. Reality spun unnervingly about him, and then all at once he felt cold, wet, and more than slightly odorous...and not a pleasant type of smell either. With a jerk, his eyes flicked open to the ravenous dim - and there, just above him, sat..."Him." Nothing else occupied the space around them - the air was quiet, save for the ambient lapping of the waves against the spongy sands.
"...You will be drowned by the tide, if you stay here much longer."
.............Youh'r ahn ahstute 'uhn."