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Sometimes, when the sun was shining and the world was filled with green, Kalia could forget how harsh winter at the Monastery could be. Even now, as she and Brielle made their leisurely way up the narrow mountain path to the castle, Kalia found it hard to believe that snow had ever fallen here.
Plants everywhere were in bloom, birds sang cheerfully from every tree top. There were bugs humming in the grasses, and clouds scudding by on a breeze. Everywhere she looked, things were thriving. Even the Monastery itself looked cheerful and bright out in the afternoon sunshine.
The urge to stop and sit, to take in the scenery and watch the butterflies flit from flower to flower was almost overpowering. Kalia had been out riding around the countryside for a little over a year now, and hadn't realized how much she'd missed this place until she'd left it. But no matter how much she wanted to, Kalia knew that she couldn't simply shirk her duties and rest here. Not when Brielle carried some very important medicines in the packs slung over her saddle.
So the woman and her horse made their way up the long trail, and eventually reached the Monastery. Passing through its enormous arches and into the courtyard proper, she stopped in the middle of the stone-paved square and looked around. For a summer afternoon, the monastery was surprisingly quiet... "Must be lunch time," she mused. Brielle snorted. "Well, there's no use shouting for someone," she spoke again. More because she was in the habit of chatting with her Familiar than because she expected a reply. "Come. We'll get you settled and then I'll see whom I can stir up."
With a single gesture from Kalia, the mare Brielle followed in the woman's wake as she headed toward the stables. It was easy to see the mare's excitement: after the long, hard trek up the side of a mountain to reach the Monastery, the horse was eager for a good roll in fresh hay, a helping of oats, and a long drink of mountain spring water. She remembered that this place was her home, and was excited to get back to the once-familiar surroundings.
It didn't take the woman very long to unsaddle, groom, and release Brielle into a large stall. But while she did it, she sent out a tentative mind-touch to Rhys. He was the only Argent besides Father Klaas that she was sure would be here, and besides, she knew him better than she did Klaas, anyway. :??: she Sent, rather like the equivalent of tapping softly on someone's closed door. Hopefully the Argent wasn't too distracted to 'hear' her.
Then she finished up with Brielle, leaving the mare a bucket of water on a hook in the stall, draped the heavy saddlebags over her own shoulder, and headed in the general direction of Rhys's study. With any luck, she'd run into him on the way there.
Rhys' forehead made contact with a thick volume splayed open on his desk. It's pages were filled with text, the edges of the pages decorated with what was once vibrant inks in penned images. The young man slowly drew in a deep breath and pulled his hands away from the book's edges, tucking them instead against his belly. He turned his head to the side and allowed his cheek to press against the page- luckily the ink wasn't prone to transferring unless it got wet, so he didn't have to worry about that. As dedicated as he normally was to his studies he didn't think he could possibly read another page of the book before him. This particular book and it's subject was so extraordinarily cut and dry that even Rhys was having trouble keeping his full attention within it's pages on a day such as this.
Though his eye sight was so poor that he couldn't see past six inches from his nose, his eyes had settled on a narrow window across from him. A gentle breeze whispered through the space and ruffled his bangs, bringing with it the sweet smell of flowers blooming near by. Summer. As mild as it was here in the mountains he enjoyed it far more than fall or winter- if you could separate the two seasons even. He heavied a sigh and watched the blur of sunlight that filtered through the window, relaxing his mind and with it the ability that allowed him to read the pages his head now rested on.
That's when he felt something. A soft mental touch that would have gone entirely unnoticed if it hadn't come from someone possessing a much stronger skill than Rhys did as far as telepathy was concerned. But it had been felt none the less, giving Rhys reason to lift his head from his desk and slowly straighten. The touch was familiar, he recognized it as Kalia after a few moments and responded with his own ;? ? ;
:Coming up to your study!: came the quick reply. It was colored with a friendly warmth, pleasure at being able to see a friend after a whole year away. Despite the added weight of the saddlebags on her shoulder, Kalia made quick work of the stairs leading up out of the courtyard and into the Monastery proper.
She had originally worried that she wouldn't remember her way around the giant building, but was pleased to discover that her feet seemed to know precisely where to go, even if her brain didn't immediately supply the information. She moved briskly down halls and across walkways, until she finally found Rhys's study - and realized she hadn't precisely asked him if that was where he'd be. But, well, some of the things she was carrying in the heavy saddlebags were for him; they'd wind up here in the study sooner or later.
When she reached the door to the study, Kalia paused and rapped upon it with her knuckles. "Hallo in there!" she called, in a sing-song fashion. "Anyone at home?"
Rhys' response was little more than a mental nod to Kalia since he couldn't muster up much more beyond the walls and distance that divided them. He scooted to the end of the bench and stood up, closing the large book as he did so. "Sabvir," A basket across the room rustled and from it the small white head of a lesser weasel popped out. Her little black nose wiggled and with watery eyes the creature watched her person carefully navigate around the desk, his hand brushing against it as he rounded it towards the door.
The study wasn't exceptionally small. It boasted two book shelves that lined side to side with both books and scrolls, folds of paper stacked vertically and even clay tablets that had been tucked away with care. Most were originals waiting to be copied yet again, a task Rhys didn't take on by his lonesome but one that still took time regardless. Candle sticks dotted the room for the darker hours, more so for others than for Rhys himself. Dust had settled into some of the higher places that would only get an occasional cleaning but aside from this the study was clean. As clean as it could have been in that day and age however.
"I'm here," Rhys knew he didn't need to call out but he did so as he approached the door and opened it from within, "Kalia, it's been ages." He stepped back and held the door open, seeing little more of what she carried other than a shadow of colors larger than what the woman herself would have been if she hadn't been carrying something. "What is it you have here?" Sabvir scurried out of her basket at the back of the room, her claws clicking along the flagstones of the floor as she crossed the room to inspect their guest.
"It's felt like ages! " Kalia agreed enthusiastically. She stepped into the room and resisted the urge to hug Rhys without warning. They were friends, but not the sort of friends that hugged one another upon meeting, she supposed. That didn't mean they'd never be so close, but for the time being, Kalia settled for a friendly smile she knew Rhys couldn't see, and continued her cheerful conversation. "I can't tell you how lovely it is to be back here. I didn't realize how much I missed it until I was out there on the road, sleeping in a tent! " Kalia had chosen to become one of the wandering Argents who traveled the world helping those in need, as opposed to one that stationed herself in a single town or village. It was a hard life, especially for one of noble birth, but Kalia had adapted to it quite well. Had Rhys's eyesight been better, he might have noticed an additional sprinkling of freckles, sun-streaks in her already pale hair, and many other little signs that she had been living rough.
" Most of this is for the herbalist," she continued, heaving the saddlebags off her shoulder and dropping them onto the floor - which might prove to be a problem for Rhys's little Familiar who was scurrying around on the floor. Kalia had forgotten about the creature entirely. Most Argents were granted one of the Monastery's horses upon completion of their training, but Rhys, for obvious reasons, hadn't been. She was always thinking he had a mare or gelding out in the stables, and mentally correcting herself or being corrected by Rhys. "But I found something for you on my travels, and I just had to buy it! It's been lugged around half of Aerlion these past few months, but no worse the wear for all that." She promptly opened one side of the saddlebags and rummaged around in it. "Hold out your hands!"
Providing he obliged, Kalia would plop a smooth, cool-to-the-touch item into the Argent's hands. Then she'd step back and wait, her face alight with anticipation, for his reaction.
"One rarely does," He sighed wistfully. If he had known by trial rather than word how extremely cold it could get in these mountains, Rhys may have rethought his agreement to join the Argent that had convinced him to enter into the Monastery! "Everyone has broke for mid-day meal, you'll likely find them scattered about." Rhys wasn't entirely anti-social, but even for a Argent who remained at the monastery he was rather.... hermit like. He was familiar with people, knew who everyone was, but rarely struck up a friendship deeper than the one he held with Kalia. Not to say that one day he couldn't hold a deeper friendship, in fact Kalia was counted among his closer ones that he did have. But even after years of being in the monastery he just preferred his books to most people.
When the heavy saddle bags were dropped down, Sabvir squeaked as the creature dove to the side and narrowly avoided being squished beneath the weight. A single leap took the white weasel off the ground and securely attached to a studded leather strap that hung from one of the belts Rhys wore. She climbed it quickly and slipped into a leather pouch on her master's hip, poking her head out afterwards. Rhys was hardly phased by Sabvir climbing him like a cat-post, he was accustomed to her slight weight and the sometimes constant up and down, in and out of her going to the pouch.
There was a moment of hesitation when Kalia asked him to hold out his hands. Like any one who had been pranked before in the 'close your eyes and hold out your hands' way of surprises, Rhys didn't immediately jump to the offer. Instead he waited a few seconds before deciding Kalia wasn't likely to dump anything offensive or undesirable into his hands such as others had done before. Receiving the gift he immediately smoothed his hands over it and brought it closer to his chest, tilting his head down towards it. Even if he couldn't make it out at first look, turning his head and 'looking' in the direction of objects was a habit that, really, he had practiced on quite often. He found over time most people found it strange if he stared off in no pointed direction while speaking to them or taking interest in what was in front of him. Mean... usually it looked like he was just staring at a bit of wall really.
"What is this...?" He asked lightly, hardly louder than a mumble as his hands gripped the side and his thumbs smoothed over the dome of cool material. "A seeing-glass?," He asked curiously, turning from Kalia. Opposed to a looking glass, it didn't reflect back an image, it made them larger! The ye olden magnifier, if you will. Every step he took was precise and measured, within moments he was crouched over his desk and flipping open a book, resting the gift over the page. A smile split his face as he straightened up a little, "By Antistia..." "It's amazing," he said almost breathlessly. He had Originally crouched down so that his face was hardly more than six inches from the page of the book- now however he was able to straighten up so the distance was closer to eighteen inches.
"Oh, dear!" Kalia said to the tiny white creature who had leapt away from her saddle bags. "I didn't see you there! My apologies!" She wasn't entirely sure the creature understood, but Keelyn fervently hoped that Sabvir at least got the gist of her words. Familiars were, as a general rule, much more intelligent than their natural counterparts - but she wasn't entirely sure how smart weasels were in the first place. Really, all the Argent had to go on was her own Familiar, Brielle's, intelligence level - and that was only a little better than a smart pet dog. She offered a sympathetic smile to the little creature just as she plunked the cool, crystal magnifying glass into Rhys's hands.
At first, Kalia was worried that Rhys would be displeased with her gift. After all, folk rarely liked speaking about their shortcomings, and reminding the Argent that he needed assistance in order to see clearly might have rubbed him the wrong way. Still, her heart was in the right place. She knew that even if he didn't much care for the present, he'd have been polite enough to thank her for her efforts -- and then put the item on a shelf, where it would collect dust and go unused for the remainder of its life. Or worse, he might re-gift it to someone else, once Kalia was gone from the Monastery.
Imagine the woman's surprise when Rhys seemed so delighted with the magnifying lens! She beamed a smile at him, quite pleased with the outcome, and watched while her friend enthused over the crystal. "I'm so glad to see it works well for you!" she bubbled, and crossed the room to Rhys's desk, saddlebags forgotten near the door. "The merchant who sold it to me showed me what it was for, of course, but I was so worried that you had already tried its like and were unsuccessful." And maybe he had. It was entirely likely that Rhys had tried any number of things throughout his life, things which were supposed to help the young man see better, things which supposedly cured him. She couldn't imagine all the concoctions, gimmicks and other supposed-to-be miracle fixes for his eyesight. Maybe he'd long ago given up -- or maybe, just maybe, she had actually stumbled across something he'd never tried before!
"I just thought... Well, your poor back. I remembered how you had to crouch over your books, and, well..." Kalia trailed off, feeling somewhat awkward when it came to discussing Rhys's disability. So instead, she clasped her hands in front of her and watched her friend test out his new 'toy.'
"Oh, I have," Rhys leaned back from the desk though his hands remained planted on it's ledge and looked at Kalia, "Several different lenses, in fact." "The truth in the matter is each lense, made of it's own materials be it a single crystal, layers, or what have you, each have varying levels of magnification." Rhys was at times (most times) prone to going off on small educational like blurbs. "Generally the larger the crystal dome," he motioned over the dome of the magnifying crystal in a curved pattern with one hand, "The more distorted the text or item in question beneath it comes, or due to imperfections in the crystal or cloudiness it tends to become difficult to see regardless of the magnification." It was hard for the argent to keep most of the excitement out of his voice as he explained the downfall of most magnifying crystals.
"This one, however," He turned his gaze to it once again, "Has a near perfect height to density ratio, the circumference of the crystal is al-.." With a soft laugh Rhys finally trailed off and straightened up once again, this time to look towards his friend, "Thank you, Kalia," he looked genuinely happy, "This will certainly come in handy. I'll use it daily no doubt." Rhys did generally avoid talking about his eye sight- there had been no shortage of attempts made to better his eyes since the discovery of how poor his vision was at a young age. The result usually left him worse off than before, even going as far as resulting in some long faded scars around his eyes. It was probably by sheer luck that some attempt to fix his vision hadn't gone entirely askew and cost him his eyes themselves. Even with all the attempts, at least he hadn't lost the coloring in his eyes, which had remained a deep forest green tone.
"How long will you be staying with us, before returning to your travels?" Directing the conversation away from a topic he was more likely to start 'geeking' out on again.
Watching Rhys's face become so alive and full of light as he discussed what made a good magnification lens made all the hassle of protecting that precious bit of gemstone and silver all worthwhile. There was just something so endearing when a friend got so excited, so enthusiastic about something they had a passion for. In Rhys's case, apparently mathematics was a favorite subject of his, and she was sure he could have carried on about the lens all day if he hadn't stopped himself.
"I must be blessed by the angels to have found you the perfect lens by purest chance! I had no idea that there were so many factors that went into making a good, usable piece. This one provided such a clear image of the merchant's text that I was sure it'd be a good match for you."And, she thought, It didn't hurt that I'm an Argent, either. That merchant was falling all over himself to impress me, and sold the lens to me at a fraction of what he'd have charged somebody else!
There was a chair sitting opposite the side of the desk that Rhys was on, and Kalia pulled this out and took a seat. She'd been walking up that narrow mountain trail all afternoon, and only once the nervousness and elation that came with giving a gift wore off, the woman realized that her feet hurt. She all but fell into the chair with a grateful sigh.
"I plan on staying a few days at most," she replied after a moment.
"As much as I love it here, I find that I start to go a little stir crazy if I'm not back out on the road. We spent last winter in Lakeshore, and I tell you -- I was half mad with impatience to get out of there with the first spring thaws!"
It wasn't unusual for the Argents who traveled constantly to only stop in for a few days at a time, two or three weeks at most unless they were taking on a new apprentice or perhaps needed to time to heal from a wound. After spending so long on the road most, unless age had caught up with them, became so accustomed to it that staying on a constant move was preferable to being cooped up in one place. Especially in places that could have hard winters such as the Monastery received most often. "Well at least you have no chance of being snowed in here so soon," Rhys turned his attention towards the slotted window as he found his seat again, Sabvir crawling from her pouch and onto the table. She inspected the magnifying lense as a child might, pressing her face flat against it and peering into it's depths. After circling it several times and testing for any taste- which had none but metallics along the edges, she decided it was nothing to stay interested in and scurried up Rhys' arm to perch on his shoulder.
Rhys had to think of how long he'd been at the Monastery since the last time he'd left it's walls. If he were honest with himself, it was nearly five years ago that he had made a long trip to see any of his family. It did get tiring to stay in the same place day in and day out but traveling wasn't always the easiest thing for the argent, at least certainly not on his own. Maybe it was time to make a temporary leave? At least down to the village at the foot of the mountains. Klaas was always telling him he couldn't spend all his time indoors. The older man, The Father Arent, was always trying to get Rhys out of the monastery walls for some fresh air.
Rhys was right, Kalia wasn't going to end up snowed in any time soon - thank god. She had never been very tolerant of cold weather, and still wasn't, not after growing up in such mild climes as Aerlion possessed. The very thought of the wind howling through the mountains and bringing piles of snow with it made Kalia shudder with remembered chill. She wrapped her arms around herself to help chase off that imagined cold.
"For which I am thankful!" she replied fervently, casting a glance out the narrow window that Rhys himself was peering through. It was almost as though she expected to see heavy clouds scudding in, or see a snowflake drift through the open window frame. "Even though the winters spent on the road are far more mild than the ones I spent here, I still have a hard time keeping the cold from seeping straight into my very core!" With a mental shake, like a dog ridding its coat of excess water, Kalia directed her thoughts away from the snow and wind, and back toward the summer sun.
After a moment, she felt as though she was back to her usual self again, and continued their conversation. "When was the last time you stepped foot outside of this dusty old Monastery?" she wondered, with a hint of a smile on her lips. The monastery wasn't actually dusty, nor was Rhys's room here, but she couldn't help teasing the man.
And then he had to admit it out loud, "Five years," He crossed his arms and pulled his gaze from the blur that was sunlight through the window, "Father Argent has been insisting lately that I should take a break from the monastery, at least for spring and summer." He tilted his head away from Sabvir as the tiny creature pressed her nose against his jaw, "I believe he's starting to worry if I'll lose my ability to interact with more than just books if I stay tucked away for much longer." He was starting to see the appeal in leaving, though he would have rather spent a harsh winter elsewhere than a pleasant spring. Though while he could see the appeal of it, it didn't sound as if Rhys was entirely convinced he needed to leave the Monastery.
Taking on a note of scandal to her voice, Kalia replied, "Five years! My dear Instructor, that is far too long!" It wasn't hard to feign surprise; Kalia didn't know how the man had managed, with nothing but the Monastery grounds and perhaps some of its surrounding forest to keep him occupied over the years. Sure, the fellow could barely see two feet away from his nose -- but that didn't mean that his surroundings would never get boring!
"Listen," she said, deciding on a whim, "Why don't you come with me when I leave here? We could spend a little time in Landsmeet - or better yet, one of the ports! - and get you back here before the passes are snowed in for winter?" Imagine, spending a summer in the Port of Respite, with white sands and tall palms, fruity wines and the sounds of the surf lulling you to sleep at night... Even a man who couldn't see well could appreciate those things. "I haven't been there in a dog's age!" Or, in less fanciful terms, a 'really long time.'
Of course, Rhys couldn't just up and leave the Monastery on such short notice - but if the Father Argent had been encouraging him to leave for a little holiday, Kalia was sure they could make arrangements in very short order. And the more she thought about it, the more Kalia liked the idea! "What do you say? I'll speak to Father Naseem, you pack your travel bags, and we'll see if we can't borrow one of the unpartnered mounts for this journey. I can stay a little longer while we make arrangements to cover your instructing, too!"
Kalia's voice wasn't particularly loud, but the note of scandal and sheer shock in it when she spoke made Rhys jerk forward slightly in his seat with surprise. His office was normally rather quiet given it was usually only occupied by himself and his familiar. Sabvir squeaked at the sudden motion and dug her tiny claws into her perch, burying them into the folds of Rhys' robes. They hadn't pierced so deep that he could feel the claws and with as fast as his small shock had been Sabvir released her grip almost immediately before climbing down his chest and out of sight beneath the table. "Ah, well," He shifted back once more and considered his own reaction to something that should not have gained one like he had just given. Maybe Naseem was right. If he spent all his time alone with books he was going to get lost in his own little world.
Besides, getting out of the Monastery could be beneficial in other ways- Educational, for one. Port Cities were usually teeming with new or unusual languages of traders he could potentially learn. He could collect other manuscripts or even add a few books to his private collection, making copies for the Monastery. Then, if they did happen through Landsmeet, there was always the possibility of visiting his family. They would certainly be welcomed with opened arms and offered room and accommodations at the family lands; his family was well off in the merchant business after all, so it wasn't as if they couldn't afford to house the Argents for a few days or longer for a visit.
Beneath the table Sabvir scurried across the floor. Her slight weight was so little that even the clicking of her claws over the smooth stone floors could have been easily missed by someone with the best of hearing. She crossed the flagstones and began to climb over the saddlebags Kalia had dropped, wiggling her way into any pocket or nook that may have been opened enough for her small head to fit through. Rhys was so caught up in his decision making that he missed the curious signals his familiar was sending out mentally- besides, Sabvir's normal mind set was always a curious one. He'd grown accustomed to it being so. "Alright," He finally decided, "I'll take you up on your offer," he smiled pleasantly though it were easy to tell the young man was still nervous over his decision, "I don't think I'd have to remind you though that I am not the easiest travel companion." He could ride a horse as good as anyone else at the monastery--- if you didn't count on coming branches as an obstacle. Or leading the horse. Luckily his mount would likely follow Kalia's lead rather than his own. There were other obstacles that obviously presented a problem for the Argent and there was no doubt his survival training had been....lacking, in some aspects... but still.
Heaven help the little weasel if she decided to eat anything she found in the herb packets that Kalia had hauled here all the way from Landsmeet! There were many of the little paper-wrapped parcels stuck here and there in Kalia's saddlebags, several of which smelled quite sweet. Though most of them would be harmless if the weasel decided to take a nibble, they had not been cheap. Their loss would be a rather large setback to Kalia, since she would have to make another trip for anything Sabvir had consumed.
If she found the old trail rations, however, Kalia wouldn't really mind nibbling there. The rations were probably getting musty anyway, and if at least one creature found joy in them, well, Kalia would consider it a blessing. Heavens knew she never found much joy eating them. Granola and jerky were all well and good for the first week or so of travel, but after that, the foods lost one hundred percent of their appeal.
"Excellent!" the woman exclaimed when Rhys finally made a decision. "We'll leave here as soon as you're prepared. And don't you worry about being a difficult travel companion. As long as you're willing to help out, and you follow directions when I give them, we'll be sure to get on just fine!" Without waiting so much as a breath, Kalia went immediately into the planning phase of this endeavor. "We'll have to loan you a horse from the Monastery's unpartnered herd. A nice, mellow gelding, I think. You'll need clothes for all types of weather. Wool, if you have it. That stuff will stay warm even if you're soaked to the skin. A bed roll, an oiled cloak -- Who's working down in supplies now? Oh, well, no matter. You can just head down there and let 'em know you'll need a full kit and they'll get you squared away."
She chattered on in the same vein for some time, half to herself and half directed at Rhys, and then absentmindedly went over to the saddlebags and hefted them up off the floor. Whether or not Sabvir had escaped their nooks and crannies by then remained to be seen! "I'm going to deliver these herbs and head to housekeeping to see if a room's been arranged for me. You let me know when you've gathered up your gear and I'll give everything a once-over to be sure you're all set. " With a little effort, she slung the bags over one shoulder and turned to pull the heavy wooden door open. "And don't let the supply clerk tell you that you don't need wet-weather gear!"
Emeria is rated 3/2/2 by the RPGRating.com system. This rating means that, in addition to less intense scenes, we also permit the use of foul language, and some kinds of graphic violence and sexual scenes. But don't worry, that doesn't mean that that's all you'll find here! Threads which surpass a PG rating will be marked as such, which will prevent any accidents. However, we do request that all of our members are at least 16 years of age before joining.
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