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[IC Thread] The World of Ash

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Gradually, Jovah's eyes shifted over to look at Tess. They still remained partially unfocused, however, as if he was attempting to balance vision between two fields, one containing the woman before him (Tess) and the other containing the remainder of the bar. There had been a pause of perhaps eight or nine seconds in which Jovah hadn't spoken, but now he resumed. Behind Tess, a woman entered the bar, once more allowing cold air to swirl in. Jovah seemed to duly note this, but he paid no attention, opting to instead focus on the conversation he was having.

 

"I am in Winterbury on business, to trade away salvage - specifically, that which I don't need or which has been rendered useless to me. I sold the most weighty of it to the trader." The scavenger turned his chair more fully towards the table.

 

"I'm afraid I won't be here more than a day, though. My plan is, weather permitting, to leave tomorrow at daybreak." To where, Jovah didn't specify, though it was easy enough to conclude that he had intentions to go deep in to San Francisco due to his apparel, his armaments and his various other little quirks. While he by no means seemed confident of it, he definitely seemed prepared - cautiously optimistic, you could say. He rapped his fingers across the surface of the table - tatatap.

 

Jovah's eyes once more strayed away from Tess to focus on what was going on behind her. His lips curled in to a slight smile as a flute, partially out of tune, began to play softly. His eyes didn't try to find the source of the sound, though it was presumably coming from the stage on the other side of The Throne; currently, it was only slightly visible through the bustle of people. The flutist, upon entering, had directed the gaunt man at the counter to the clinic. Now, a man dressed in furs (Jovah noted it was the same man who had entered the Throne slightly after him) had instead asked the newcomer to his table, proclaiming himself to be a cleric (Jovah could only barely hear this over the bustle of the inn). At this word, Jovah quirked a brow.

 

What an odd thing to title yourself, Jovah thought to himself. Cleric... A word that conjures an image of a magician or a sorcerer. This man is not either. Perhaps an herbalist? An amateur, perhaps? Certainly it would be more beneficial for him to label himself a doctor. A word with more bravado, more force. A word to win the trust of the sick and injured. No - he must not be quite so skilled. Jovah was unsurprised. Doctors - true doctors - were rare. You would more often find what he referred to as "diagnosticians". Such individuals were skilled in one area and one area only: the analysis of run-of-the-mill injuries and the treatment of them. God help you if you had organ damage or a complex fracture. In such a scenario, you would be more likely to successfully navigate San Francisco blindfolded than find someone who truly, undoubtedly knew how to fix you.

 

Jovah sighed softly and took a long drink of his tea, which by now had cooled considerably. His eyes followed as a man with a wolf (who had briefly passed through the lobby only a little while earlier) came from upstairs and went to the corner across from where he sat. He eyed the two quietly for a moment before looking back to Tess.

 

Quite a few characters, he thought. I suppose many of those living in the wilderness fled here to escape the blizzard.

 

_____

 

(( Keep in mind cloud cover is thicker than normal (especially so due to the oncoming blizzard) - it would be impossible to even see the glow of the moon. In fact, it would be rare to ever see it. Funny enough, the moon might not even be common knowledge. ))

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For the most part, Jasmine ignored the bustling inn, focusing on the notes she played. She kept a small sliver of her attention, however, on what was going on around her incase anything of concern should happen. As she played, she let her gaze roam the room, keeping herself from staring too long at something or someone. Now and then, the bard simply closed her eyes and imagined the notes flowing behind her eyelids.

 

When she opened her eyes again a moment later, she noticed that a tall man with some sort of canine was staring intently at her. This surprised her. No one had actually bothered to watch her as she played her flute. Still, she didn't let the surprise make her falter. Briefly, she smiled faintly at the man before flickering her gaze elsewhere in the room. Once she brought the first piece of music to an end, she allowed herself a short break.

 

By belief, Jasmine wasn't a very religious person but that didn't stop her from thinking about her mother still watching over and guiding her when she needed to be guided. It was mostly why she was still a bard. She played music and shared stories not just to bring them to the lives of others but to also hold onto a part of her mother. She reverently swept her hand over the flute in her lap once before taking a quick sip from her water flask.

 

Bringing the mouth piece back to her lips, she hazily recalled the lost stranger and wondered if he accepted the cleric's aid with his wound or not. A short series of light, quick notes were played before smoothing out into a lull. As the lull quieted, it reared up like a king claiming his throne and drummed the beats of strength. In her mind, she imagined the tale of a warrior faced with obstacles that most others would shirk away from. It was one of her favorite pieces to play.

 

The tall man came back to her mind and, at the back of her mind where it was separated from her music, Jasmine wondered why he watched her so intently. What drove him to actually listen when most others would simply hear the notes but think nothing of them? Her gaze swept the inn once more, briefly examining each person that sat within its walls.

 

So many people were taking refuge from the coming blizzard and the constant cold of the Eternal Gray. The music softened, a strong soul carrying a large burden that should never have been his but was by inheritance. Humans stumbled, losing their footing when their feet have taken so much torment and walking no longer seemed possible. Yet, even when things felt completely lost, each individual finds a bit of strength; enough to walk the last of their journey and reach their goal. That was the remarkable thing about humans and wild creatures.

 

As much as she disliked the state of the world, she couldn't help but wonder if it was bringing to light the strength that each being possessed. The world had survived a nuclear war and a volcanic eruption that left the sky filled with ash. Thinking this, Jasmine wondered if anyone else realized the determination of life around them. Everyone seemed so isolated and disconnected. People spoke to each other but it was usually just business. Even she had stopped trying to bond with another person. After her mother passed, she had no family left. At least, none that she knew of. Traveling so often left her with no room to actually connect with another being.

 

Jasmine suddenly felt alone even though the inn was filled with people. She forced the feeling to the recesses of her mind, derailing any thought that wasn't about the notes she currently played. A few more bars and she was finished, glancing over towards the bartender who nodded and disappeared to the kitchen, returning with a small bowl of soup. She rested her flute on its stand in the meantime, placing it beside her but distanced appropriately to avoid knocking it over by mistake. As all of the tables were taken, she remained on the stage and ate her simple meal there.

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She noticed Matthias thought, watching the woman play. She had glanced at him and smiled, interesting, perhaps a thanks for paying attention, everyone else seemed busy with whatever consisted of their daily lives. Matthias would have liked nothing more though than to sit and listen, even if he didn't let it show outwardly. There are so many things to do, to repeat, survive, kill, eat, drink, sleep, survive, day in and day out. He mused over what consisted of most everyone's existence music is not something to add a backdrop to such an existence like here, music should be the main event in life, whenever it comes alone, for it might be the last time you hear something that isn't affected by the cold of the world...

 

Matthias smiled to himself, he hadn't had reason to think deeply on any subject in some time, it was a nice change of pace, if unfamiliar.

 

Suddenly it was over, and the air seemed to fill once more with the dreary day to day existence that most everyone called life, though in Matthias' mind, the life had just vanished along with the song. He allowed his thoughts to return to the forefront of his mind, picking out the woman as she received a bowl of soup and began to eat it at the counter. Of course she does it to live, he scolded himself for thinking less of her for it, that wasn't fair. It was clear to him that she played not simply to survive, but because the music meant something to her, it meant a lot to her.

 

"Stay." Matthias had spoken the command to Rip before he realized he was leaving, but he was, snaking his way across the room with the fluidity of a hunter, making an apparent effort to not touch anyone else on the way through the crowded room. It was a challenge, people's movements were hard to predict at such close range. Still, it kept him sane. If he didn't think of these people as obstacles, if he didn't set himself partly in the mind of the hunter, then he'd likely go insane with all the useless babble that filled the air like a swarm of locusts. It was a game, something he invented to keep himself from having to think about the fact that there were so many people around, and he always won, even when he had to tuck and roll to get between to men who backed into one another by accident, barring his way. Do they think me strange for it? Rune does, then again, Rune thinks many strange things, like that the sky is blue, whatever that means.

 

"Excuse me," Matthias finally reached the counter, not sure if the woman had detected his approach, he'd been to busy dodging bodies, some of which were obviously drunk. "You are the only real person here and yet you are surrounded by this crude lot." Matthias barred his teeth at a man who he had moved to the side in order to occupy the spot at the bar next to the woman. Several of the men seemed to take none to kindly to his barging in. Perhaps they were only angry because he was the first to speak to her directly. Such social norms and nuances were nonexistent in Matthias' mind. He only knew what he saw, these men were animals to him. They didn't appreciate her music, they couldn't comprehend it. To them it was background, or perhaps entertainment, to them she was entertainment, a prize, a target even, not a soul. Less than animals, Matthias decided, even my wolf is more moved by music than these ruffians.

 

Matthias indicated his table in the corner with a jerk of his head. "Join me." It wasn't a question, it wasn't a request, but it wasn't a demand or a command either. In Matthias' mind, he and her were the only two real people in the inn, it only made sense that she sit with him and talk. Aside from that, if another one of the near drunk men at the counter bumped into her from behind on accident one more time... Matthias was quite sure he'd get kicked out for breaking such a man's jaw, and that was only if Rune reached him in time to keep him from killing the man.

 

He locked eyes with her but quickly broke contact and looked down, mentally kicking himself. She wasn't a predator, she wasn't prey, there was no need for that sort of thing. He returned his eyes to hers, this time the ice they usually held was gone, replaced by a look of near begging as he flashed icy glares at those closes to her. "If not then invite me to stay and be your shield against the insanity of this place as your music has already been for me."

Edited by Rakashua

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The soup the bartender had given her was warm, faint steam billowing slowly from the liquid. It was basically 'peasant' food as Jasmine's trade was not much in the way of earnings. Still, she cared not for the quality as she enjoyed it nevertheless. She would go without any deals if she could, so long as she could play her flute for others and tell the stories she knew. However, she was human and needed the food and the place to stay the night.

 

"Excuse me."

 

Jasmine looked up, turning her gaze towards the source of the voice. It was the man who had been watching her play and she smiled gently, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear and carefully setting her spoon against the inside rim of her bowl. "You are the only real person here and yet you are surrounded by this crude lot. Join me."

 

It was neither a question nor a demand. The gaze in his blue eyes made his invite almost a plea. "I thank you for your invitation," she replied after a slight pause. The man's approach had surprised her further and he continued to do so as he spoke, asking of her company at his table or to stay beside her. She couldn't quite understand what he meant by the 'insanity' of the inn but she figured he was referring to the number of inhabitants and the close quarters. She noted his glares directed towards the men around her and she guessed he was not a fan of the way they bumped into her without much apology. No matter, she was used to it from other crowded inns. Still, she was touched by his concern.

 

Gathering her bowl, she followed the man to his table and sat down in the seat across from him. "If I may ask of it, sir, what is your name? Mine is Jasmine," she introduced, vaguely aware that she had left her items alone. She was trusting enough to believe them safe and so she did not worry much about them. As is, she had been to Winterbury enough times to know that people tended to be honest in the fact that they did not steal. They traded fairly and kept to their own business.

 

The young woman recalled the man stating that she was a real person surrounded by a crude lot and that her music had shielded him from the insanity of the inn. Music must be important to him then. Such a strange thing to know... She'd only known herself and her mother to value music so greatly that it was practically foreign to believe that a strange valued it just as much. Idly, she slowly stirred her soup a few times before resting her spoon once more.

 

She wished to ask him questions, to find out how he thought about things and about music in particular yet, she held back. She felt, if she were to ask much more than of his name, she would be prying. Jasmine did not know how the man would react to her questions and so, for an initial conversation, she believed it best to see what questions he asked of her. By all means then, she would be allowed to ask the same of him? But first... "Your canine companion interests me. I've hardly seen any sort of hound or similar creature while traveling. What breed is he? He is a remarkable sight." And she meant it. The animal piqued her curiosity and her wonder. Though, she hoped the man didn't start to believe that she was merely interested in the large canine and not in him as well.

 

To be honest, Jasmine always preferred the company of others. People interested her but only a certain handful could actually keep her attention and her initial curiosity. She wondered about some things and left others alone. The man before her was one such person that interested her. He had scars, like many others, but something stood out. It was like reading a story really. She could count the number of obstacles he had faced thus far and imagined, much like earlier when on the stage, the notes that would play to describe this man.

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((note: for those of you who might not know, the actual definition of the word "*censorkip.gif" is "female canine" (just saying so because I use it in that manner once in this post)))((lol it looks like it gets censored anyways, oh well, it would be nice to see it used properly for once...))

 

"Thank you for your invitation." Matthias nodded slowly, not sure if she meant this as a way to say goodbye, or if she intended to accept. Her eyes told him she was sincere, then again, Matthias wasn't used to reading people's eyes and suspected he may have it backwards. Yet a moment later she scooped up her bowl and moved to follow him back. He turned to lead her, smiling to himself in relief and perhaps joy, but the latter of those emotions he rarely entertained. It was a new game then, leading her through the crowd. This time he didn't care who he touched, but he created a path for her, gently moving those in front of him to the side or waiting for them to take the hint and move themselves. It would be a shame if she spilled her soup, he wouldn't allow that.

 

Finally the made it to the table. Rip looked up at the woman and Matthias locked eyes with him, concerned, he didn't take well to others. But the wolf's eyes seemed to be more curious than anything. Perhaps it was because she was a woman, perhaps Rip was taking his Que from what he read in Matthias' own body-language. Either case, Matthias was glad Rip wasn't so flustered by this place that he couldn't be in a good mood, it must have been the music. Matthias slid into the booth on the same side as Rip as to best keep an eye on him, allowing the woman to take the other side. She did so and spoke at the same time.

 

"If I may ask of it, sir, what is your name? Mine is Jasmine," For a moment Matthias didn't answer. In that moment the woman, Jasmine, managed to get out another question. Normally the excessive conversation, at least in Matthias' mind, would have bothered him. But for some reason he was not bothered. The woman's voice was soft and firm, thoughtful, but genuinely interested, at least that's what he was getting out of it. "Your canine companion interests me. I've hardly seen any sort of hound or similar creature while traveling. What breed is he? He is a remarkable sight." By her glances and tone, Rip seemed to understand that she was talking about him too and in response he puffed up his fur and growled gently.

 

Matthias smiled, "I'm Matthias, and don't mind him," He gently elbowed Rip to get him to stop growling. "He's a wolf, not a mix as far as I know, in all truth I only ever knew his mother, persistent censorkip.gif*, she tracked me all the way back to our farm when I stole him." Matthias indicated Rip with the twitch of his neck, "he's actually pleased to see you, not every growl means the same thing, but you'd have to live with him a while to tell the difference between them."

 

Matthias paused, he had just said a lot. Interesting, he wasn't usually so free with his speech. Still, what harm was there? What else was there to do? There was no game around that would be scared away, there was nothing that needed doing in order to survive the night. Everything was prepared, so why not talk a little? I did invite her over after all.

 

He noticed her noticing his scars and that brought an amused smile to his face. "If you're going to ask how I got them... don't bother." He continued, his tone as amused as his smile, "All of them have stories, but most I can't remember. Still, if you're quite curious, perhaps point one out and I'll be able to relate what I got it from." It occurred to him that she might think the idea completely weird or even repulsive, but his thoughts about what he said rarely beat the words out of his mouth, the mostly came later, and not in time to properly adjust one's speech to. Deciding that she might have taken it this way, but not knowing entirely one way or the other, he added something else quickly.

 

((if you do want to ask about a scar, don't worry about God-Modding, just make one up and describe it, he has enough of them that I really don't mind, and it makes for a better mental image for the both of us, if she intends to do that at least))

 

"We really liked your music. Well, I don't know if a wolf can be deeply moved in spirit..." He shrugged, turning back to her and locking gazes with her, "but I know a man can. So even if you decide us overly strange and desire to go back to the bar, at least let me say that I did cherish it. For just that moment I almost imagined myself free of the snow and the cold, of the need to survive each day, and that is something worth far more than that soup you were given for it, worth far more than the meager attention that was paid you."

 

Matthias dropped his gaze, "and now you probably think me mad..." He bit his lip, that had meant to be a thought... not words... oh well, there was no catching them mid-air and stuffing them back down his throat, though so many times he wished he could. What did it matter? If she thought he was too odd to be around she would leave, at least it was the truth, he always told the truth, or if not he didn't speak one way or the other.

 

Rip dropped his chin onto the table, staring up at the woman, wondering why the music wasn't coming out of her anymore and sorely wishing that it was, if wolves could wish that is.

Edited by Rakashua

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The man was named Matthias and his companion was a wolf. An interesting person indeed. "Matthias... The name suits you. I'm pleased to meet you and your companion, Matthias," she stated, listening as he explained how he knew of the wolf's mother and informed her that his growling was nothing of a threat. That was reassuring as Jasmine had suspected the creature was tolerant of her. At least, that was the feeling she gathered since she had not felt unnerved to hear the canine growl. To add to that suspicion, the wolf had seemed to puff out his chest, displaying more of his fur.

 

Jasmine didn't realize she had been actually staring at his scars until Matthias spoke up about them. She was curious about the stories behind them but a small bit of paranoia held her back from asking. Granted, he had provided her with permission to ask about specific ones but she feared she might just annoy the man. Instead, she let the matter go for now.

 

That was when he commented on her music. His compliment drove a faint blush to her cheeks and she glanced down at her soup. At his last statement, she smiled warmly and laughed softly. "You are not mad for enjoying something that is hard to find these days. I'll admit, when I play or come across new pieces and stories, I am carried to somewhere else as well. Worlds where there is no snow covering the surface of the planet each day, where the sky is bright instead of covered with ash, and where the air is sweet with warmth..." She trailed off, realizing that her mind had started to drift away from the inn as if lifted on wind.

 

Shaking her head, she brought herself back to the present and dashed away her daydreaming. "My apologies. My mother used to say that I daydreamed a bit too often. Still, I find that such daydreaming keeps me from getting so depressed about the state of the world. Have you ever tried, when freezing, to imagine yourself in front of a large fire? If one were to imagine it well enough, supposedly, they are warmed by the flames. It's all a trick of the mind really."

 

She was starting to ramble, a nervous habit of hers. She felt that, should it grow quiet between them, she needed to fill it with words. Usually, she preferred to listen but, if the person she was having a conversation with hardly spoke, then she could not really listen could she? It was a bit of a dilemma in her opinion and she felt that it only added to her being annoying or bothersome.

 

Glancing to her side, she noticed the wolf resting his head on the table and watching her. Carefully, uncertain of how the animal would react, she reached out her hand and laid the back of it on the table, a short distance from his nose. She wondered what his fur would feel like. Would it feel like dirt or would it feel like the soft snow? As it was, she didn't know if he would even let her touch him. She trusted that he was behaved enough to not bite her out right though, she wouldn't blame him. If she were bitten, it probably meant that she had crossed some sort of boundary she did not know of.

Edited by Narvix

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Tess shrank back into her seat when Jovah decided to lecture her. He rambled on about how thievery would lead to rape. 'Is this guy serious? I knew that I shouldn't have told him.' Jovah became entranced with someone that she didn't bother looking for, and then he returned to speaking. 'Traveling. Hmm...' She thought.

"Are you, by any chance, heading toward the center of San Francisco?" Tess asked when he had finished speaking.

 

"I absolutely can NOT find my way there." Tess had heard that there were great singing opportunities in the center of San Francisco from the other ladies in the holding chambers. Nothing too big, but there were, supposedly, more opportunities there than anywhere else.

 

____________________________

 

(I hope that adding that is okay.)

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As Rune waited for the man's response, he couldn't help but notice the whole fiasco going on with his brother.

 

Oh, that anti-social flirt... and that poor woman. I do hope she doesn't take his random interest in random females to heart. But she did play so well, so very well, and I can see how he would be attracted to the sounds. Ah well, she's a bard. She'll be thanking him today and on her way tomorrow, such is the way of all bards. Such is the way of all people.

 

Her music had been touching; it wasn't the fake, completely light-hearted falsity that a lot of bards played those days, music that was only meant to drown the soul in lies. Her music was more of a story, as though it should've had words. Rune was surprised that the wolf liked it as well, but he wasn't surprise to see (he couldn't quite hear, as Matthias was on the other side of the hotel) his brother rambling on about something or other, talking as though he had never talked before.

 

Although Rune first felt a pang of jealousy and embarrassment (he could only imagine what strange things Matthias was telling the bard), it was quite suddenly replaced with a grimace-smile and a feeling that was somewhere between 'I told you so' and 'I'm happy for you'. Not that Matthias noticed the smile anyway, but even though he didn't always get along with his brother, Rune did want Matthias to be happy. He had never felt Matthias was happy, not in all the months they'd traveled together, and that was one reason he had been so frustrated with him. Rune had never been truly happy during that time either, but he felt he had deeper reasons not to be. Matthias was a loner, but he didn't truly want to be alone. Rune was, in a twisted sense, happy to see Matthias attempting to socialize. Although he still felt sorry for the bard.

 

Ah well, she'll be gone tomorrow. Another face in the crowd, searching for a better life. Just like everyone else. And who could be blamed?

 

He turned his attention back to his probably-future 'patient' who had surely decided by now whether or not he wanted Rune fixing his arm.

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Rip stared at her hand, drawing a sidelong glance from Matthias, making sure he wasn't considering biting her. Rip glanced at Matthias and then back to the hand, unsure of what he was expected to do with it, it didn't seem to be offering him food. His curiosity seemed to win out over his caution. Rip scooted his neck and chin closer until his nose was touching Jasmine's fingertips, drawing in their scent and adding it to the wolf's endless registry of things he'd smelled in his lifetime.

 

Matthias was a bit wary if not surprised, Rip hated being pet, even by him. Of course, Matthias couldn't recall an instance where a female had tried to pet him before, Rip did seem to react to them differently, probably because he didn't expect them to challenge his position in the pack... even if it was a pack of two.

 

"Hunting," Matthias finally spoke, "I don't daydream I hunt, for me it's the same." He repositioned himself so that his left hand was close enough to grab Rip if the wolf did decide to bite her, he doubted that Rip would do so, but one thing he'd learned about the wolf is that he could be unpredictable and sometimes dangerous. "When I've put my mind into the hunt I become friends with the snow and the cold and the darkness, the trees become my companions and the rocks my playmates, the snow is my dance partner, and Rip becomes an extension of my arms. Everything moves together, all the players play their parts, and whether the prey gets away or I take home a kill, the game is played and in that moment, I'm free."

 

Rip cautiously stuck out his tongue and licked two of Jasmine's fingers, adding her taste to his mental registry.

 

"But sometimes... when there is enough food, when I have shelter, when the threat of death is temporarily abated... I do dream. A life beyond the white, a small cabin, mountains, lots of game, Rip is gone, released, but he visits sometimes with his pack, we fight of course, but in a friendly way. I'm there, my wife, maybe a child or two, tucked away in the middle of an undiscovered corner of the world, living a simple life, listening to music, telling my children stories around the fireplace, teaching my son to hunt, teaching my daughter to sing, loving my wife." Matthias wasn't ashamed of what he said, it was truth, his fantasy, life if it were perfect. It wasn't much to ask, was he mad in believing it could be possible? He dared not entertain the thought for fear of losing the dream. It did cross his mind that he hadn't ever shared this with anyone before, then again, why should he care who he shared it with?

 

"Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today... I don't remember where I heard that, but I try to live by it. A life without a dream is no life at all, its just going through the motions of living but really being dead, a dream is what makes us human, and music, and hunting, I certainly wish I could do all three." Matthias smiled, it felt good to talk after months of only having his brother for conversation. In truth it was relaxing, he'd nearly forgotten about the hustle and bustle of all the other patrons in the bar.

 

"I wonder if you would like my dream..." Matthias could have bit off his tongue, it was a thought again, something he didn't mean to say. He wasn't used to having to differentiate between the two. He always spoke his thoughts allowed to Rip, Rip didn't care and there was no one around anyways... this was quickly proving to be an annoyance. "Of a simple life I mean, not having to travel and sing, or hunt, not having to worry about where your next meal will come from, or if the next time you set out from a place will be the last time..." His voice trailed off, making it even more obvious that he hadn't actually meant to say something out loud. It was his turn to blush slightly, grimacing at his own lack of socialization.

Edited by Rakashua

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It was not appropriate to say that Jovah lectured her. His voice carried a tune more of advice, seasoned and shaped by experience. He knew what he was talking about. No doubt he had run across thieves before (most had), but something indicated he had spoken to killers and raiders, people who had once been petty criminals but were now something far more sinister. His chocolate eyes flickered up briefly as the Wolfman (he had labeled him this in his head) went to the counter and spoke to the flutist. He sighed and leaned back, looking once more to Tess, listening to her again, but now with a small frown on his face. At her question, the frown stretched more and he furrowed his brow.

 

“The center of San Francisco? Downtown? I don't think anyone has been there in any number of years, if ever, girl. Well, no one with civility, at least. I'm unsure if even the raiders have presence there. No, that isn't where I'm going, and neither you nor I would ever find our way there through anything less than sheer, blind luck,” Jovah replied softly. It sounded more like a grumble, as if he found the question asinine or as if it unsettled him.

 

It was then that a loud, masculine, gruff voice rose up over the hustle.

 

”Alright, alright! Listen up!” It barked, coming from behind the bar. A short fat man stood behind it, his large hands placed palm-down on the countertop. He was recognizable as the innkeeper. ”Blizzard's comin' and we're closin' up. Get back to your homes or your rooms!” He picked up a ladle and pan from under the counter, banging them together. Clang, clang, clang! ”Go home! Store's closed!” The stout man repeated.

 

Jovah rapped his fingers across the table and rose up, standing at his full height of six feet, three inches – tall by today's standards, with less nutrition circling around to feed the young and allow them to grow. He hefted his rifle up and slung it over one shoulder, then picked up his mug of tea in his right hand and quickly drank the rest. His eyes surveyed the lobby. A handful of the thirty-five or so men and women (the number had slowly been growing, filling the small lobby) made their way upstairs, keen on getting to their rooms. Fewer stayed, complaining to the bartenders, who could do nothing but shake their heads and explain it wasn't their decision. Most, however, went to the door, walking out in to the thickening snowstorm, destined to go to their homes.

 

After the crowd had thinned a little, Jovah gave a kind smile to Tess, though said nothing to her. He made sure to keep his distance as he walked away from her, more cautious than anything, and approached the bar. He set the mug down gently and cleared his throat, getting the innkeeper's attention.

 

“Pardon me. I know it's late, but I'm wondering if you have a room--” Jovah began.

 

The man quickly interrupted him. “Nope, sorry, you're outta luck.”

 

“I don't need a bed. Just my own room. I'll pay to sleep in storage or the basement.” Jovah replied, his voice not showing much but a resigned pessimism, as if he knew what the answer would be.

 

“Nope. It's either the common room or the snow for you.”

 

Jovah leaned forward, interlocking his hands. “I'd rather not get my stuff stolen. How much?”

 

“'Fraid that isn't my problem, but I wish ya the best.” With that, the innkeeper took the now-empty mug from the counter and disappeared back in to the kitchen, closing the door behind him. Jovah sat still for a moment, not saying a sound, then stood up straight again and headed for the door, standing out from the crowd mostly due to his white attire; most people didn't have to take in to account camouflage – they wore leather jackets and heavy denim. The only thing white about a lot of them was their skin.

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The wolf's nose was lightly moist but that didn't surprise Jasmine as she had noted that upon seeing the creature. She let him sniff her fingertips, not expecting him to lick them. Still, when he did, she didn't flinch. Matthias started to speak about when he hunted, how it affected him, and she turned to focus her gaze on him. Jasmine wasn't much for hunting but she knew how to if she needed to, taught by her mother.

 

"You have a nice dream. That is always something to hold on to, something to hope for and to direct your footsteps to." She pulled her hand back, not yet certain if the wolf would allow her to touch his fur.

 

"I wonder if you would like my dream..."

 

Jasmine paused, trying to figure out what exactly Matthias meant by what he said. Suddenly, he seemed a bit flustered, adding to his short comment before trailing off and seeming to grow uncomfortable. She smiled thoughtfully, turning her gaze towards her waiting flute. "A simple life is what I basically have already. I travel and, while that is not always so easy a task, I don't complain about it. I travel, not for myself and not to make a living but, for others. I share the music and the stories that were shared with me, hoping to bring to others the worlds I've seen inside those pieces and stories."

 

She shook her head, rethinking her words and then thinking over her reply to his statement. "What I mean, really, is that I would enjoy living a similar dream to what you have told me. Sti -" She was cut off, looking up sharply towards the innkeeper as he started shouting for people to head home or to their rooms. She didn't know if Matthias had a home in Winterbury or was renting a room here.

 

Most of the inhabitants had cleared out of the lobby and so she heard one man ask if there was another room. When he was shot down, he offered to pay for any place in the building to avoid having any of his possessions stolen. "You can have my room, sir. I'm alright with sleeping down here. I don't have much and so I doubt anything will be stolen from me." She got up, walking to her small bag, and held out her room key to the man.

 

((:C Urk... Quite short. But I've an essay to finish.))

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Tess heard the horrific news that her dreams had been crushed and the ladies in the holding room had been wrong. Then, the even worse news arrived. Everyone had to clear out because of a blizzard. She had nowhere to go and she was not sleeping outside again, especially not during a blizzard. It was freezing out there. It always was and always would be freezing out there. Not willing to leave the warmth of the inn, Tess quickly slipped behind a few boxes, removed her backpack, situated it as a pillow, and curled up into a ball. It had been a long day and she was tired.

 

It wouldn't matter if the Throne had any available rooms or not. She couldn't afford anything they had. That got her thinking about her money issues. Stealing wasn't good, she agreed with Jovah, but she felt like she had to. For a moment, Tess thought of what she could trade ad the trading post in the morning. Then she thought of how the man would laugh in her face again. She then rolled over to face the wall, her back to the brown, awkwardly piled boxes.

 

'What was with that guy? Does he have it out for me?' Tess thought. 'Stupid trading post guy.' There was a noise that sounded like the sound of jingling keys. Tess thought about the man that she had met not even an hour ago, Jovah.

 

'He acts like he's been through some heavy stuff, but he doesn't seem mean or anything.' She thought. 'He's weird, but ... I don't know, he acts like a real grown-up.' Tess rubbed her hands together and blew hot breath onto them. For some reason, she had a weird chill traveling up and down her spine. Tess curled up tighter and pulled her knees inside her jacket. She also put her gloves on, to protect her from frost bite, just in case the room she was in wasn't going to be heated well.

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It was the howl of the wind that she awoke too. Years of sleeping out on frosty nights, where the snow morphed into daggers that would strip you to the bone and not even the hounds would venture out of whatever lair they had taken refuge in. Her hand reached out, in a grab to secure her possessions, but the realisation of her location halfway through the movement froze her, and she retreated her hand into the warmth of the blanket again.

 

Indigo had spent many nights out on the snowy desert, and she knew to conserve heat. But it was a longing – a simple ,longing that overcame her. Blizzards meant wind. Wind meant churned up snow. Churned up snow meant new finds, bubbling at the surface. For a second she wondered if she could be off by tomorrow, but she had little clue how long it would last, nor how long it would take her to reorder her stuff, and be ready for the off. The thought of her mother entered her mind, she was somewhere out there, but she trusted her mother to return home as she had so many times when she was a child. Her little faith in other human’s capability had stretched that far, and if she couldn’t support herself, she didn’t deserve to live.

 

Her leg was only slightly aching now, and relief washed over her as the knowledge it was a slight fall came to her. Being trapped in the wild would be dangerous, but being trapped here would send her mental. Few days, that was all she could do. All she had ever done. It hurt her, tore her apart and clouded her confidence, that she was so reliant on society, and on other people. She could hunt, and was capable of doing so, but the vitamins and greens you needed to maintain your bones and strength was way beyond her. Thoughts drifting to the bag of sweets, she reached out, fingering one slightly. It’s cold, round frame reminded her of the coins she traded, although a slight lick revealed a sugar sweet flavour. Gasping, she stared at the slightly sticky lump, the unfamiliar taste swirling round her mouth. She wondered how the gifter was- if he was rich enough to gift he was surly rich enough for a room, and enough money could buy anything in these times.

 

The wind had picked up, with the curtains fluttering like snowflakes caught in a tornado, and the knots which pinned them against the holes were wearing loose. It must have been fifteen minutes by now, and she could see much clearer than when she first woke up. Revelling in her night vision, she stood up, shivering in the icy room yet warmed with the thought that her knee ha not bucketed, and was supporting her nicely. She would be fine. Walking towards the windows, she went up to the ties, redoing them in the same simple knot that she'd used since she could reach. Over, under, twist and under. It was this knot that she'd used to secure parts of machinery, looping thin copper wire round a vibrating burner as she pulled two rubbing parts apart.

 

Moving to the next clothed covered hole, she tied the knots slower this time, as her finger succumbed to the numb of cold. Pausing, she looked out into the whitened streets, regarding the surrounding area. The bustle of people ran through the streets, but the detachment of her viewpoint left her isolated, and happy.

 

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Matthias considered what Jasmine said, she was in the middle of giving him the answer that he deemed important... when the bartender broke through the solace Matthias had found in pretending that Jasmine and he were the only two people in the inn. Apparently it was time for bed, odd, that people had a bed time, some time designated for sleeping. The clouds and ash made day and night not all too different from one another, one was distinctly darker, but temperature wise there wasn't much of a difference at least to him. Matthias just went to bed when he was tired and stayed awake as long as he didn't feel the need to sleep.

 

Did Jasmine have a place to sleep? He wasn't sure if her playing covered both food and a room, and he'd rather die than see her sleep outside and lose a finger to frostbite, that would mean she couldn't play, it would be like taking away his ability to hunt, it wasn't going to happen. But before he could ask of she had a place to stay, she was up and moving. Rip raised his head, wanting to follow but looking to Matthias for instruction.

 

"Stay"

 

Matthias went after her himself, following her through the crowd who were headed to the door. He was about to stop her and say that she didn't have to go, she could use the bed in his room since he wasn't going to, he hadn't been able to fall asleep in a bed for years. But the woman surprised him again, she wasn't leaving, she was offering her room to a stranger. Matthias vaguely remember the stranger asking the bartender for a room a moment ago and being denied it. Now she was offering him the room that she had been given as payment, that meant she would be staying in the common room that night. Matthias barred his teeth but held back a growl, he didn't like that idea one bit. She might not have much that could be stolen, but if anyone stole her instrument, or laid a finger on her, Matthias was already committed to gutting such a person and letting Rip clean up the body.

 

But he didn't say anything, he waited none-to-patiently for the man to respond to her offer. If he accepted, then Matthias would insist that she have his room, he was sleeping on the floor either way, and Rip could keep her warm if she wanted and if he would tolerate it. If the man declined, then Matthias would offer the man his room, give his equipment to his brother to keep for the night, and sleep outside Jasmine's door, that way she was safe. On the other hand if the man accepted her offer and Jasmine declined Matthias' offer, then he would be staying in the commons room, keeping watch over her all night, he wasn't that tired anyways. Yes, it all made sense to him, whatever happened, nothing bad was going to befall this woman tonight, not as long as he was here.

 

Matthias didn't act this way out of some sense of chivalry or duty, he simply felt that he owed the woman something for her music. And he had trouble sleeping in inns anyways. He wasn't loosing anything no matter which way this turned out, in the end it was just something he was going to do, period. Like buying all that stuff with his furs and giving it away to that other woman he hadn't even met, the one with the limp. He didn't need the extra, and it was something he was going to do. When Matthias set his mind to something, especially if it involved helping someone, he committed to it with a single minded determination to the extent that he would even risk his life. For him, if he couldn't even do that, then life wasn't worth living to begin with.

 

His thoughts drifted away for a moment as he continued to wait. Who was the other woman? Why was she out alone? Did she like to be alone as much as Matthias preferred it? Was the wilderness home to her? Would she marry him? Matthias didn't think it weird to ask that last question to himself, he considered every female he came across in that way. There were remarkably few people, let alone women, who would choose to life as he did, and he didn't want to risk missing one that would for that would be a terrible loss. Life was short, and he didn't waste on opportunity, even if he didn't expect to actually ever find someone before he inevitably died.

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[OOC NOTICE] I ask that you all continue to use logic - always think about the current location and what may or may not be present. Always think about what is and what isn't possible. It's a major rule, because while I want you all to have freedom with the setting, I want things to make sense. For instance, in a clinic's waiting room, it wouldn't be likely there would be more than some chairs. Similarly, in The Throne's front room, it would be unlikely there would be anything but a small stage, some chairs, some stools and some tables. While it isn't at all major, a post implied there were boxes in the front room of the inn - boxes large enough to sleep behind. It doesn't particularly make sense, but in this instance it is not a major mistake to make, and easily overlooked. Despite this, I need the Common Sense rule to be exercised, because when trouble hits, I don't want characters caught in a chokepoint somewhere and think they can take cover behind a conveniently placed barrel or building. I'll try to be as descriptive as possible with settings, particularly those outdoors, but there's simply too much detail for me to cover, and I'd rather leave some to the imagination. Just make sure what you think of fits.

 

I also ask that you be active - try to make a reply at least once every couple days so you don't lag behind or hold everyone else up. Don't expect the RP to find you if you're away from the main party - you need to find the RP. I will try my best to include you, but if it doesn't make sense, I'm not going to bother. Someone wouldn't logically step up and give you a reason to go to the bar, for instance.

 

_____________________________________________

 

As Jovah turned to exit the establishment with the rest of the pubgoers, a soft voice from behind stopped him midstep, the heel of one boot tipped precariously on the floor. He turned around to see an olive-skinned woman approaching him. As she spoke, his kind eyes scanned her curiously, seeming to map every feature of her face, her arms, her legs, her clothing. He seemed suddenly to recognize her. Ah, yes, he thought, this is the flutist.

 

"You can have my room, sir. I'm alright with sleeping down here. I don't have much and so I doubt anything will be stolen from me." She said, withdrawing from her bag a small brass key and holding it out to him. Jovah looked at it blankly for a moment, then flickered his eyes up to her face and smiled kindly.

 

"I appreciate the offer, madame," Jovah began, retaining his paternal voice and peaceful expression. "I'm afraid I'll have to decline, however. I've slept well enough recently, and for someone so dependent upon traveling and spreading the good cheer of song and story, you wouldn't be able to afford being bedridden with sickness. That's a luxury I can tap in to if necessary. I'll sleep in the common building, with the rest of the travelers and poor."

 

As seems to have been the case for quite a while now, the white-clad man's voice showed no wavering, no sadness, no pessimism or defeat - very little negativity, if any at all. He seemed legitimately thankful for the offer, and seemed quite happy to decline it. After but a half second's worth of silence, he seemed to perk up slightly, as if with remembrance.

 

"But I am glad you approached me," he continued gently. "I meant to come listen to you, but I was caught up in conversation." The scavenger stated, giving a brief look to Matthias (a kind one, however, not one of mistrust - perhaps curiosity, though). He reached one of his calloused hands in to a front pocket on his jacket, withdrawing a few tin coins, more than enough to buy at least a couple loaves of bread. He closed his fist around them, overturned his hand and dropped them in to her palm, the tin making little tinks as it clicked against the key.

 

"Thanks once more for the offer. Sleep well, to the both of you." He gave a small bow of his head to both Matthias and Jasmine, then began to turn once more on his heel, intent to leave the two of them. If not stopped, he would step out the doors in to the cold and shut them behind him, leaving one fewer soul in The Throne.

Edited by Arctic

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By this point, Mattias had nearly made up his mind not to share his room with the man even though he looked to be declining (he was thinking this as the man was speaking). The man seemed to be saying 'no thank you' out of... what? Pride? Care for Jasmine? Respect? Two of those three would mean that to make him a second offer could come across as demeaning. Matthias admittedly didn't know much about socialization and social norms, but he understood the male psyche well enough in his mind, to avoid offending people or stepping on their territory without meaning to. As it was he was stuck, unable to decide if the man was acting out of charity or for personal reasons that Matthias didn't wish to broach. However, the man then gave Jasmine a few coins, and that closed the matter in Matthias' mind as to why he was refusing. It seemed he had simply judged his situation and hers and decided which was better for them both, and in Matthias' judgement, he was right. That also meant, however, that if Matthias offered him a deal that made equal or better logical sense, he would probably agree to it. And it did appear that he would be the last person Matthias would be associating with that night so the urge to ignore that the man existed was mostly deflated. On top of that, he had just shown kindness to Jasmine, which meant he couldn't be all that bad. Matthias hadn't picked up anything hostile or devious in his body-language, so, in all truth, the excuses in favor of not talking to him were dwindling.

 

"Excuse me," Matthias stepped past Jasmine and caught the man firmly by the shoulder for half a second before withdrawing his hand and stepping back, he meant to get the man's attention, not initiate a fight. Matthias withdrew his key from his pocket, "my plans have changed, I won't be using this tonight, you're welcome to it. I simply need to gather my things gear and it's all yours, I won't be using it tonight." Matthias didn't explain why, not to the man or to Jasmine. The man didn't need to know, and Jasmine might find it weird to know that he would be spending the night outside her door, besides, it was better to do things for people that they didn't know about, so as that they might not feel indebted to you, than to do them openly and play the braggart.

 

Rune wouldn't mind him leaving his stuff in the room, and if he did he would still let him. He didn't need to know why either, but if he asked Matthias supposed he'd tell him, there was no real reason not to. Of course this all depended on the man's response, which Matthias turned his attention back to, meeting the man's gaze, but not in a confrontational way. Looks told many things and if Matthias was well rounded in any area of communication, it was with eye contact, even animals had emotions and it could be read in their eyes. The fear that told you the prey had picked up on your scent, the defiance in Rip's eyes in the days that lead up to their yearly confrontation, or the guilt Matthias could find there if Rip had stolen food from him without permission. Men were the same, though they were harder to read, men had a way of hiding what they were feeling, even in their looks. Animals couldn't do that, as far as Matthias was concerned, they simply felt whatever they felt and it showed, that was how the existed. Matthias attempted to communicate an air of thanks in his gaze for what this man had done for Jasmine, almost an air of mutual respect, for he had thought well of her as few others in the bar had, and he was the only to act on it aside from Matthias himself. At the same time, Matthias tried to read the stranger's eyes and see what lay behind them.

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Jasmine did not know what to say, lost for words as the man politely declined her offer. She was about to lower her hand when the man reached out and placed something in her palm; tin coins. The bard blinked, bringing her hand close and gazing at the coins.

 

To be honest, she felt she should refuse the gift but a small thought held her back. She did not wish to offend him so, after a brief hesitation, she nodded in acceptance and put the coins into her pocket. Jasmine didn't focus on the coins after that, watching the man turn to leave. She wished to stop him and insist that he take her room but, he was right. She couldn't afford to grow ill. She could not become sick for the sake of sharing the music and the stories she knew.

 

She felt Matthias move past her and watched as he offered up his room in turn. She wondered how his plans had changed but she did not linger on the question. It was not her business. He had surprised her again. Only a handful of minutes ago, he was labeling nearly every soul in the Throne as a crude lot and part of insanity. Now, he was passing his room off to another man. It might just be that Matthias did not want the coin spent for his room to go to waste. However, Jasmine did not fully believe that to be true.

 

Listening for the white-clad man's response, she decided it was a good idea to finally pack up her flute and bag her things. Taking the joints apart, she cleaned each piece with a cloth before putting them in their case. Whatever the man's answer was to Matthias, she hoped he would fair well. That brought Matthias' change of plans back to her mind and she wondered, again, what change had come up. Jasmine feared that he might go out during the blizzard. Was he that rash? Or did he know enough that he would not fair well against the storm?

 

She figured, after considering that he had a room to being with, that he was not so rash as to brave a blizzard. Still, it made her think he might believe that he could make it to another place of shelter before the storm fully hit. What made her worry into a dilemma was the fact she did not know his plans. She could not decide appropriately if she should offer her room in turn to Matthias. However, chances were that he would decline. She could offer that he share the room with her but she did not know how he might take that offer.

 

It was enlightening whenever a blizzard came. People showed what kind of heart they had when faced with situations such as this. People either had compassion for others or cared not if the stranger beside them froze. Jasmine cared and she would not entertain the thought of what might happen. "Matthias, whatever your plans, I wish to offer the extra space in my room to you and your wolf companion. I have a paranoid mind that cannot be eased until I know you will be safe inside any bit of shelter."

 

She would have made the same request to anyone if it were needed. She simply hoped he would not decline if he had nowhere to go before the blizzard hit. Jasmine did not know what his plans were and would not ask after them. She trusted that he had decent judgment when it came to his safety. All she had done was offer to share her room.

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As Matthias touched the man's shoulder, a strange thing happened, indeed. That is to say, nothing; he didn't react - not even in surprise. What Jovah did was, quite simply, turn and gaze at Matthias with the slightest dash of curiosity, left side now facing he and Jasmine, right side oriented towards the door. His lips, partially hidden behind a trimmed beard and moustache, remained in that same resigned smile he had but a few moments prior. His reaction, more particularly the smile, was odd; most would have undoubtedly jerked their arm away or perhaps turned and let out a barrage of curses, threats and done various other undesirable things. Jovah did none of this.

 

He waited for Matthias to speak first, and when he did, listened quietly. A moment passed and he licked the inside of his cheek thoughtfully. Jovah then turned his body towards Matthias, face to face with him about three paces away. In the several moments of silence that hung in the air after Matthias had spoken, the two men seemed to size one another up, in the most friendly of ways.

 

Jovah's eyes were a deep chocolate color, and he seemed to make no attempt to disguise what was behind them, though he most assuredly knew that Matthias was trying to read him... perhaps it was because Matthias was trying to read him that he had this look. But were Matthias to gaze deeper in to them, he would find nothing. This in and of itself was disturbing, however, as before Matthias stood a man with a rifle capable of boring a hole the size of a fist in a man's chest. Was he to believe that this same man had nothing to hide? No secrets, no regrets, no darkness of any sort? That's what his eyes seemed to say. I am just another man, they said, I am just another face, I am but a dead man walking, but I am at peace.

 

This look was a rare one, seen in few men. There was not even a twinge of regret in them, which was perhaps the most commonly shared construct in the human condition. These eyes were of a quality an infant might have; innocent, unafraid and curious of the world and all its things.

 

They were a facade.

 

No man felt nothing, and no man felt nothing so sincerely as Jovah did. He was disguising himself, erecting an impenetrable shield to the soul, shrouding his personhood, masking the who, the what, the when, where, how and why - all of it. This was a disturbing thought, because suddenly what was before Matthias was not a man, but a mannequin constructed of flesh and bone. The eyes were so friendly as to call hate, so honest as to invite suspicion, and so helpful as to invoke wrath.

 

But at the end of it all, the honesty is still what prevailed. It was a reason to trust the man, but simultaneously a reason to remain skeptical. All of this analyzation took but a few long moments, and throughout them Jovah remained relaxed and friendly. After what seemed like an eternity, he spoke.

 

"You're a wildman, are you not?" The word was said with respect. "If you're offering me your room so that you may sleep in the storm, I must decline. Regardless, I have but two questions - what are these plans, dear friend, and how much shall I pay you?" The final question was one in earnest. He seemed more to be asking how much the hunter had paid; how much Jovah owed him for his generosity.

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Matthias listened as Jasmine spoke, immediately accepting in his mind her offer, but more interesting to him at the moment was the man before him. His gaze was even, his body-language and posture was easygoing, even his tone was moderate. If the man was an open book then he was apathetic and lacked everything that made a man a man, ambition, dreams, emotion, and Matthias surmised from what he had said prior that this couldn't be the case. That meant the man was lying, but not lying, to lie would be to mislead on purpose, he was simply not sharing information that Matthias was looking for. Some people would, perhaps most, would fins this suspicious, even a reason to retract kindness and avoid the man, but Matthias was not such. While he didn't approve of lying or see the use in it, he often withheld information when he didn't want to share it, if this man didn't feel like sharing, then that was his business and since Matthias didn't feel threatened by that lack of knowledge, he let it stand.

 

But by the same token however, Matthias was interested in sharing information now as the man sized him up in return. If the man wanted to he could have seen a few levels of Matthias' feelings that he didn't otherwise broadcast. At the surface, strength, confidence, and even ferocity, deeper there was care for Jasmine, respect for the man before him, and even deeper, loneliness and even a certain sadness. Then the man spoke in response, curious, it seemed everyone was suddenly concerned with his plans. But, as most everyone else had left by this point and the room was far more empty than before, he was less self conscious about sharing, even so, he would have preferred not to. More curiously, however, the man had called him a 'wildman' and while Matthias understood why, he had a negative connotation for the word. Most people defined wild men as being those that lived in the remnants of the cities or the deep wilderness, men that were men but acted like animals, had little morality or care for their fellow man, and were generally a nuisance or perhaps a danger. On the other hand, the man hadn't inflected the word as to give away his personal connotation with it, he could simply be referring to the technical definition, a man who lives in or off the wilderness, in which case he was correct. But Matthias allowed a look of disdain to cross his face in a flash from his eyes to the twitch of his lower lip.

 

"I would not purpose to sleep in a blizzard unless I had no choice, while nature and I may be close acquaintances, she still has no qualms with freezing me to death. With that said, I'm not unfamiliar with that necessity." Matthias regarded the idea as foolish and allowed it to show, though he didn't direct the emotion at the man or his question. "You ask a lot and give little, but such is your prerogative." Matthias turned to Jasmine, "I would prefer to let every good thing be done in secret, but since my desire not to say anything has lead to a misunderstanding, let me say it all and plainly."

 

Matthias glanced at Rip before beginning. The wolf was sitting, obviously not happy being so far away, but he hadn't reached the point that he was going to pull free and come racing over to be involved in the conversation, so it was probably safe to leave him there for a while.

 

"As soon as you came in and became playing, miss Jasmine, I determined in my mind that nothing ill would befall you so long as we were staying in the same place. As this man suggests, I'm a man from the wilds and unaccustomed to living amongst so many people or in such... comfort. My body can find no rest in a bed, and therefore, if you were without a room I had determined to offer you to share mine, for I would be sleeping on the floor regardless. If you refused and had no room, I had determined to stay in the common room, awake, and watch-over you as you slept that nothing might be stolen or taken advantage of. And if you had your own room I had determined to sleep in the hall outside your door and leave my own gear with my brother, effectively guarding you with no inconvenience to myself." Matthias turned back to the man, "so if it is all plain and clear to you now, I will be staying with miss Jasmine here as per her offer. As for payment, while you say very little, what you have said and done has given me reason to repay your kindness even if not to myself, if pride allows, please accept my room free of charge, if not then I will accept three copper pieces."

 

Matthias preferred the man not pay him anything, especially copper, because he always ended up losing it or forgetting about it, but he was a man who knew things, who had secrets, and Matthias respected him. It would be rude and disrespectful to not allow the man to pay if that is what the code that he lived by demanded of him.

 

Matthias turned back to Jasmine, "so I accept your offer, if you still extend it after hearing me out. I know my ways to be odd to most and my reasoning strange, but I mean you no harm by it, nor any special favor, it's simply what I must do, because it is within my ability to do it, and it is right to do." Matthias paused for a moment allowing what he had said to sink in, before finishing. "And that is that, all that was to be left unsaid is said and in plain truth, judge it as you may, wild man or no, I will be true to my own conscience whatever you decide."

 

And in saying that, Matthias had explained something about himself that even his brother didn't yet grasp fully. He was driven by his conscience, right and wrong was not a matter of laws and rules, in the end you lived with your decisions from the moment you chose to act, till the moment you died. Matthias could not read, and therefore did not know the Bible well, but what he had heard read had resonated with him, the morals and justice he found in those words reflected his personal beliefs and strengthened his own conviction to follow his conscience. Was it wrong to kill a man? Well that depended, what had the man done? Matthias had killed a number of men and didn't feel regret for any of their deaths, though by no means did he deal in death lightly. Many things he learned and lived by came from observing nature, animals.

 

The wolf pack protected its young, its sick, and its females viciously, honor was given to the alpha and in turn the alpha served the pack and assured that everyone of them was taken care of. Men were different, they didn't need alphas though they often chose to elect them. Matthias didn't consider himself under any man, but felt that as a man, it was only right because he was a man, to do his part to protect the weak, the sick, the defenseless, not that he would ever go out of his way to seek such people out and be their champion, but when he found himself in their circumstance by chance or fate, he was determined that his presence would lead to their betterment in some fashion.

 

So as he gazed into Jasmine's eyes, the only thing that rang through was sincerity and determination, he believed what he planned to be right, and nothing would steer him from it, no matter how odd others might thing it. If she accepted him for it then he was accepted and would be pleased. If she rejected him for it then she couldn't stop him from falling back on one of his other ideas for that was his right and she would be protected either way, in the end, he lost nothing that mattered to him, and stood to gain a great deal, her respect.

Edited by Rakashua

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(I’m not trying to avoid the RP, I just figured trading wouldn’t be great in the late evening, and I doubted taverns would be my character’s scene. I’ll try to stick closer in future though smile.gif )

 

The last curtain fastened, Indigo dropped back, sitting down upon the pile of blankets where she had been sleeping. She could feel to her cold spreading up the roots of her hands, and rubbed them together, pushing for the tiny warmth it would bring. It wasn’t that bad though – she was used to cold, nights of sleeping out sheltered in no0thing but frozen ice had long adjusted her to the temperatures of the world she lived in.

 

Her first night camping had been awful; she’d mistimed the distance, and too tired to continue decided to curl up by a roadside. The winds had blown the snow over her, and she woke up more than three times to find herself buried in a powdery grave. She’d lost many of her possessions that night, and ever since she’d secured them tightly to her person. Looking back, it was a godsend that she hadn’t run into any thieves; roadsides had more travellers than the average trail. She’d awoken with no clue where she was, and had wandered aimlessly for hours until she could point her way again.

 

Flinching slightly, Indigo brushed away the memories brusquely. Looking back got you killed, looking forward got your survival. Hadn’t she learnt that already? Her leg certainly had. But all was well now. She’d returned, another member of a doomed species dependant on what little they could scavenge from the wasteland. It had taken her a lifetime to remove herself this much, and one day she promised herself, one day I will leave Winterbury and never – never look back. Never.

 

A sigh issued forth for her lips, the warm breath crystalizing in the night’s chill. Turning over, she closed he eyes and let the darkness claim her.

 

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Jed was angry. No, more desperate than angry. He had been so sure that this place could help him, so sure that in all of their evils, the more civilized people would be able to help him and to cure his ailment. He had left his daughter and had started off in a way he'd never gone before, all in the hopes he'd be able to have his wound treated. And the first place he goes tells him that they can't do it. Where now? How could he possibly hope to navigate this town? He didn't even know where he was supposed to leave his horse, and just prayed that Bolen still would be there. He felt caged, stuck in a fox trap and having no other option sent to him other than gnawing off his own foot. Or in this case, his arm. Jed had killed countless elk and slaughtered several moose. He had faced a mountain lion and had seen it's hungry yellow eyes so close up he could see himself in their reflection as he stabbed it with his knife. And Jed, as he watched his father die before him, took his spear and thrust it into his father's attacker, and had no problem in seeing the life fade from his eyes. Yet, having been through all that, it was this wound that was killing him, this wound that he had sustained from a petty fight involving a man who had wandered into his home, and it wasn't even the wound itself that was causing his demise; it was the infection. He knew how to fight people, but infections he was clueless about.

 

A woman, who was noticeably different looking from most people, kindly told him he'd come to the wrong place, that he needed to go to a clinic. Dipping his head to her, he stared down at the only thing he could barter: his small piece of meat that was practically ruined, as his fingers had been clenching it all this time and slowly sinking into the equally slowly thawing meat. The one item he had to possibly bargain with was ruined, and as he turned back to her to thank her, he realized that she had started doing something. Whatever she was going with that stick-like object, it made noise, and pleasant noise too. Jed attempted to rack his brain for his father ever mentioning anything like this, and came up with nothing. He'd never experienced something like this, and he wasn't sure that his father had, either. He would have asked her about it, if not for the tall man that walked over to her with his enormous wolf. While he had no problem attacking enemies larger than himself, there were two of them and besides, he didn't quite know the area well enough. Not to mention he had absolutely no grounds to be doing such a thing in the first place, but when meeting people, Jed always sized them up as if he'd have to end up fighting them. It was better that way, to make them the enemy before they become it, that way you weren't surprised when it happened.

 

Jed watched as a second man came up, this one with what seemed to be some of the darkest hair he'd ever seen and cold eyes. He was again tall, and Jed bristled ever so slightly; his eyes tightened, he shifted his weight slightly backward, and he looked distrustfully at the stranger. When the man started speaking, however, Jed relaxed visibly; his tensed shoulders were released until they sagged, his eyes held more curiosity than hostility, and his mouth turned from a from to a relatively flat grimace. The man said he was a healer. By his tone it seemed that he knew what he was doing, and so Jed nodded. Of course, there still was questions of if he could actually trust the stranger, but he was so desperate that he didn't really care anymore. He needed to try at least, needed to try so that he could get beck to his daughter and so that things could get back to normal. He would do anything for her, even if it meant asking for help from a complete stranger or taking his charity. His pride meant nothing to him like his daughter did, and he was willing to sacrifice whatever it took to be able to be with her again. At the same time, he didn't know this man, didn't know the people of this town, and didn't know if there was anything that this man might get out of killing him. What if this man just up and ended him? Then he wouldn't get back to his daughter anyway. But of course, there wasn't really another option. There wouldn't be anyone here that Jed would feel like he could trust, for there wasn't anyone here he was at all familiar with. The only option was to trust someone, and this man was as good as any.

 

"I'd be grateful. Most grateful," he mumbled, sitting down at the chair offered to him, only to hear someone start ordering everyone about. They had to go home? But he didn't have any place to go, and this place was his last resort. He had nowhere to travel to, didn't know anyone, didn't even know the streets here. Pressing his thin lips together, he truly felt afraid. He was stuck int his new territory and knew nothing of it. He knew not where good shelter could be had, or who the predators were. Turning to the only man who had shown kindness to him, this man who offered to fix him up, Jed looked pleadingly at him. "I never been in a place like this before. I've a horse outside and I don't know what to do with it. I don't know where they go. I live far away from people. Alone. Where do I go?" he asked, and glanced briefly at the raw meat he held in his hand before offering it out to the other man. He had nothing else he could trade or barter, and the raw meat was the best that he could do for this stranger. Jed was used to going without the food, and the pangs of hunger in his stomach were somewhat easy to ignore by now.

 

"Take this. It's the only thing I have to give you. I can get more easily enough," he said firmly as if it were already decided, and he stood up from his chair. His words were true; getting the food was not the problem, and Jed would probably be better fed here than he had been at home. There was no daughter here, no daughter for him to give all of his food to. He would actually get to eat it, but that wasn't the most important thing while he was here, anyway. His priority was getting fixed up, and currently this man was his only hope. "Please. Help me."

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Matthias had shared his plans, clearing away a misunderstanding and making his intensions known. He also revealed a portion of what kind of person he was. Most would certainly believe him to be strange, if not a little creepy or unsettling. Jasmine thought him unique. It was clear, even if she turned him away for this knowledge, that he would follow through with his alternative. He was a man of his word and of actions he believed to be right. In some accounts, this would make him stubborn and hard to sway.

 

With Matthias' intensions known, Jasmine examined his gaze briefly before nodding. He had accepted her offer and she would not rescind it. That left the man's final decision. Would he still refuse Matthias' room or would he accept it? She hoped that the white-clad man would accept so that he would be safe from the blizzard without having to gamble the chances of finding other shelter. "I have no ill judgment to make about your decision, Matthias. Unique as it is, I thank you for your concern and highly appreciate it." She would not admit that she faintly thought it misplaced as he would probably argue against her belief that she was no one special. At least, she figured that would be the case with how he spoke of her playing.

 

She glanced over when she realized that the injured stranger was still here, asking help from the cleric who offered his healing services before. She felt sympathy for the man, lost in a place he knew nothing about, carrying an unknown weight she could only guess at. However, she could not focus on him for long, shouldering her bag and grabbing her flute case. By now, the white-clad man had most likely chosen and made his decision. Jasmine turned her attention back to him, listening for his response.

 

((>_< Really short.))

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(( It's okay if it's short. So long as it contributes, it's fine. Sometimes, there just isn't much to say. My next post will be rather short - I'm feeling sick today. ))

 

Jovah listened quietly to Matthias's explanation, eyes flickering once to Jasmine as her name was mentioned (which he seemed to take note of), and to Matthias when Jasmine mentioned his name. The explanation was lengthy, and perhaps more information than Jovah wished to usher out of the man, but nevertheless his eyes remained peaceful and passive, showing mild interest as per usual. As the wildman finished speaking, Jovah gently reached a hand out and took the key from his palm, looking it over. He gave a kind smile.

 

"Thank you very much, then. Your intentions are noble." Jovah flipped the key over in his hand a few times very slowly, eyes remaining focused on the two individuals before him. "Might I ask which room this key is matched with?" The building suddenly shook a very little bit, the wood creaking and adjusting as a particularly forceful gust of wind blew over the city, whistling over rooftops and carrying a temperature drop a few degrees. Jovah's eyes momentarily wandered over the ceiling, a little bit of dust being shaken from the rafters above. He said nothing, opting not to comment on the occurrence.

 

The blizzard was finally arriving, promising heavy snowfall and deathly cold.

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Matthias nodded in thanks to Jasmine and offered even a small smile, things couldn't have worked out better, though he would never have guessed at this outcome, it suited him fine. The stranger spoke again, he accepted, good, then what was done was done. Suddenly the building shook slightly as a gust of straight-line wind slammed into the settlement. Rip, who up to now had been waiting none-to-patiently to be allowed to join the interaction, took the shaking of the building as a perfect excuse to pull the knife out of the wall and rush over to Matthias' side, toting it in his mouth and whining slightly.'

 

Matthias bent down and took the knife, sliding it beneath the fur bracer from whence it had come. The temperature dropped noticeably as the strong wind pushed cold air faster and further into the inn through the many tiny passages that air finds in buildings. Rip immediately went up to the stranger and sniffed him, growling lightly in warning and then positioning himself on the floor, sitting between the stranger and Jasmine. Matthias smirked and ruffled the wolf's ears, causing Rip to move his head out of the way and snap at Matthias' hand, not intending to bite him but making his point clear, he hated being pet... Even so, Matthias couldn't help but smile at the animal, he was taking Jasmine as his territory, which, for all intensive purposes meant very little, they would be staying with her tonight anyways. Matthias made a mental note to keep an eye on him though, it wasn't like Jasmine would be around for long and Rip making an attachment would make him dangerous and aggressive when they parted ways. But for not, it was harmless and just a little cute.

 

Matthias peered down at Rip, "you want to stay with the nice lady while I move our stuff? Fine..." Without any shift in tone of voice or changing of his stance to give himself away, Matthias suddenly dropped to one knee, catching Rip in the side of the head with his leg and snatching the big wolf's scruff up in both hands, slamming his head into the floor with enough force to get his attention, if not injure him in any way. Considering that he was a wolf, the average person would have expected a tussle and a fight to ensue, and if Rip believed himself to be above Matthias in pack ranking (pack or two or not), that's what would have happened. But instead the large wolf whined, tucking his tail and rolling onto his back. Matthias held him there for a moment longer, staring him down before standing up again, Rip remained in the same position on his back.

 

"Alright, up." Matthias commanded and Rip rolled and leapt to his feet. Matthias pointed at Jasmine, "stay." Rip was only too happy to do so and pranced excitedly over to Jasmine's left side and sat down next to her.

 

Matthias turned his attention back to Jasmine, "if it's alright with you, he wants to follow you around till I'm done moving our stuff, I told him he could and warned him to behave himself, he shouldn't be any trouble." Matthias then turned back to the stranger, "I'll show you the one, it will only take a second for me to move my equipment."

 

Matthias led the man back to his former room, packed up all his gear once more, donned his newly cleaned clothing, and took his ruck and gear out, wishing the man a warm sleep, and found Jasmine's room. He knocked twice, waiting for response.

 

((Didn't want to drag out the entire scene, if we let LN and Pack finish up their thing then we should be set for allowing the night to pass (if that's alright) as it would give others a chance to interact again in the morning (for those who are not yet in the inn and have no reason to go there at the moment) is that acceptable Artic? If so, then Narvix you can GodMod for Matthias if you want to make one final post in response or reaction to decide how they went to bed (Matthias will ask to sleep on the floor near the door, and offer to let Rip sleep with her if she wants the extra warmth) But I'm not opposed to interacting once more before they go to bed if she wanted to talk further, that's perfectly fine, please go ahead... anyways, goodnight all and happy thanksgiving!))

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Jovah tensed only slightly as the wolf approached him, though there was little fear in the gesture. It was more of a display of preparation, of presuming an attack may follow and that he was ready to fight back. The wolf, however, was peaceable; it did not bite him or attempt to rip his throat out as so many in the wild did. Jovah smirked slightly, as if amused or fascinated by the animal, but made no attempt to touch or pet Rip - he knew better. He tipped his head curiously to one side as Matthias threw the lupine beast to the ground and watched the display with a quiet amusement; he understood it was a display of power, of an alpha male making his stance clear to a weaker beast. His amusement came from the fact that such a display was rare. Men would sooner walk around a mountain than risk trudging through a pass filled with wolves. Jovah was no different. He had no plans to approach a pack, let alone observe them.

 

"I'll show you the one, it will only take a second for me to move my equipment." The wildman said.

 

"I appreciate your generosity," Jovah nodded in response. The Throne was organized symmetrically; upon entering, there was the bar in front of you, a stage to your far left and a variety of tables and chairs around the room. On each side of the bar was a staircase, each with a passageway situated underneath leading down a few steps to a long hallway. Each hallway had five rooms arranged on the side wall (corresponding to what hallway it was -- the left hallway had the rooms on the left, the right had the rooms on the right). Sandwiched in between these two hallways was the basement and kitchen, which was only accessible from behind the bar.

 

The building did have a second floor, but it was not used as lodging. If you were to sleep up there, you would risk illness and frostbite; insulation was mediocre at best and barbaric at worst, never approaching the quality of pre-war constructions. This was another reason why it was so difficult to erect settlements, and a common explanation to why old cities were so populated -- warmth. With that population, however, came cruelty that simply did not exist in "new age" settlements. In any case, the second floor was an open, attic-like room that both staircases lead up to. It looked over the front room from about rafter-level, a banister keeping patrons from falling. It was generally rented out for private affairs, normally amongst the town guard, though private parties (however rare they might be) could use it as well.

 

Jovah followed Matthias off to the right hallway and to the second-to-last door. As they walked, he spoke.

 

"I noticed a negative reaction out of you," he began, "when I said 'wildman'. I hope you didn't misunderstand, friend, I said the word with respect. He who may live in the wilds, unassisted and unhinged, truly free? That is a man in my eyes. That is strength and virtue. For someone to both lead such a life and be so well spoken and eloquent," Jovah paused. "Well, I believe that says enough about you to merit my honor." Whatever his response may be, Jovah waited outside for him to collect his things, then bade him thanks and goodbye and disappeared inside the room, locking the door behind him.

 

(( Supposed I would start doing the color-coding stuff, too. Also, aye, going to skip through the night once everyone is "situated" in bed. Hopefully, PackGoater and LadyNatasha can get their RP sorted through. Also, it's Arctic, not Artic. tongue.gif

 

Apologies for changing architecture around - I just realized that a traditional upstairs approach wouldn't be too good. I figured it wouldn't affect things in any major way, so it was a safe change to make. In the future, I'll hold off on doing such things if it risked major changes to the "playing field", as it were. ))

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