[Trade : Gift] Nature's Mercy
"No matter the perils, fulfill your duty."
The cool autumnal breeze swept its way through the leafy canopies of the great forest city of Ebrus, heralding the continued approach of winter in the mystical land of Vitalus. Leaves fell from once-verdant boughs as their fading life changed their colours from lush greens to brilliant golds and fiery reds, the land’s intense magic saturating the natural colours.
Tyrians glided between massive trunks, and vayrons strode across wide wooden bridges, platforms anchored around trees providing foundation for architecture far above the forest floor. Humans too made their way within the throng of traffic, merchants and nobles, peasants and artisans, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, and more. Birds made their calls unfazed by the din of civilization, and herds of deer and kirin picked their paths through the underbrush below.
As the sun approached its zenith, a young female vayron, her tall form beginning to fill out with the puller breed’s muscle, trotted excitedly towards Ebrus’ main post station. Her variegated amber fur was sleek and shone with health, a royal purple gracing her paws. Her heterochromatic eyes soon picked out the entrance of the living building, and she rushed her way in - careful not to accidentally knock someone off the platform, but too impatient to be wholly polite.
A brilliant emerald-coloured tyrian - one quite smaller than was typical - rested behind the dusky-skinned human minding the carved ebony desk, their bond marked by clear silent communication. Packages lay stacked high as vayrons, tyrians, and humans of all shapes, sizes, and colours came and went, a flurry of organized chaos as letters and boxes were dropped off and picked up on their way to a myriad of destinations.
The variegated female vayron pranced in place as she waited her turn in line, her excited energy nigh radiating from her. Though most vayrons chose to celebrate their birthdays in other ways, this one was beyond thrilled at now being old enough to begin her first job. To travel, and see, and learn about so much of the world, and to make a living of it - not only a living, but to meet people, and be helpful.
“A new employee, I see,” the human at the desk noted, as the vayron finally got to the front of the line. “You would be…” the human looked through a long list, “...Autumn, I presume? There aren’t any other vayrons on here of your description.”
“Yep!” the female vayron - Autumn - confirmed with a sound that was closer to a chirp than a bark. The tyrian translated her words for the human, who nodded.
“Welcome to your first day, young lady,” the human bent over to pull a thick envelope - sealed with wax and bearing a fancy seal Autumn had never seen before - and set it on the counter. “This needs to go to Roenden’s capital, to one Aveirene. A, quote, “female runner with more fluff than sense, covered in enough silver to crack an ice lake, and coloured like the bottom of the ocean,” according to the chaser who dropped this off.”
Autumn wrote the description down in one of her notebooks, using her mouth to write with a deftness not often seen. Once she had all the information she needed, she returned her notebook to the satchel that hang at her side, and the envelope she was to deliver soon joined it. After affirming that was all she was to deliver on her first run, she closed the lock on the satchel’s flap - an addition she’d had made after a certain incident with a purple-hued thief in her adolescence - and turned to rush out the door.
Three days and four nights later saw the variegated amber vayron arrive at one of Roenden’s many port towns, shivering slightly as she walked down the pier. Though the rest of the world still sang of autumn, Roenden was already showing signs of its harsh, bitter winters, snow sprinkling the ground with deceptive beauty. The cobblestone pathways of the warf were cold, ice and slush making treacherous any path that had not been worn clean by the many feet and paws of the bustling harbour.
This did not faze Autumn, who figured she’d adjust to the temperature of Roenden just the same as she’d adjusted to Thedale. If she found a quiet place to unlock her satchel, she could also use the winter cloak she had brought - Autumn had done her research, having never been to Roenden before, and came as prepared as she could without delaying the letter she was to deliver.
As the sunrise brought brilliant pale oranges and pinks to the snow, tinting shadows blue and purple, Autumn made her way to the Midnight Frost Inn. The building was large, with foundations of sturdy, grey stone, while the remainder of its walls were built of large, solid timbers of oak. The door opened silently at the touch of her nose, its patrons barely paying her any mind, most of them foreigners like herself.
With a simple, warming breakfast ordered from the innkeeper, Autumn sat at one of the half-hidden, quiet tables near the back to concentrate on planning out the rest of her journey. The quickest route would be through Udreim to the north, and then the mountain pass that led directly to the city she was to find Aveirene. However, it was also a dangerous route, Autumn noted, reading the warnings about avalanches and other dangers on her tourist’s map.
The safest route, however, would lengthen her journey by a month, going around the mountains instead of through them. Though she was more practiced at forethought now than when she’d been a pup, Autumn still did not fancy the idea of being away from home for so long. She wasn’t Sunder, she didn’t have the amount of magical power needed to just open a portal somewhere - unfortunately, he was busy with his teachers, and so hadn’t been able to come with her on this trip.
“May I sit here?”
A quiet, cool voice asked the question from near to her side, causing Autumn to look up to see a pale blue - that colour on reoseans was called silver, she remembered, even though it looked nothing like the metal - vayron that was almost as tall as Sunder now was, which meant decidedly shorter than her. The male was of simple, soft gradients ranging from powdery blue to the white of snow, and his thick, long fur made him stand out as an angora - a rarity anywhere, though perhaps slightly more common in Roenden’s frigid climate.
“Sure!” she readily agreed, moving her stuff over a bit to give the other vayron some room. “Sorry about the mess.”
“It’s no bother,” the stranger replied, tone amiable, if a bit distant. The ‘silver’ reosean’s expression took on a hint of interest upon seeing the map Autumn still had out on the table, which was marked with her thoughts on travel routes. “Looking to see the capital? For your Purity Trial, or something else?”
“Oh, I passed my Trials a while ago,” Autumn’s attention was quickly back onto her map, not caring that she didn’t even know the stranger’s name yet, nor that she hadn’t even introduced herself. “I’ve a message to run, and Roenden’s terrain is complicated. Vitalus is more sensible.”
“The land with floating isles, a sky city, and glowing crystals is ‘sensible,’” the stranger’s tone made it clear that they had very different opinions on that subject. “If you’re not native to Roenden, and wish to take the mountain pass, I’d recommend an escort. The dangers are something that take experience to learn, no amount of reading will prepare you.”
“Do you know where I could ask for one?”
“I could guide you, I’m headed that way myself. We’d meet on the path regardless.”
That made Autumn look up. “You sure? I move fast.” Puller she may be, but she’d grown up with Sunder, who was quite fleet of foot when he wanted to be.
The chilly-coloured stranger snorted. “I’m a runner, speed is no object. I’m sure, it’s hardly going out of my way, and I’d rather not see you dead on the roadside.”
“Thanks for that vote,” Autumn’s tone was dry. Then she remembered something, with all the suddenness of a thunderclap. “Oh! I’m Autumn, nice to meet you!”
“I’m Malseeth,” the stranger inclined his head at her, then stood. “As you are unfamiliar with the pass, ‘twould be wise to seek a healer before we depart. Injuries are common, even for the experienced.”
“Sure! The more the better!” Autumn readily agreed - she hadn’t been looking forward to being alone on this trip, though focusing on her task had helped. The idea of spending it with two others - strangers or not - was appealing, and she was fully capable of defending herself if she needed to. Sparring with Sunder was fun, and he was harder to beat than almost anyone else she knew.
Once breakfast was done with, the two vayrons - the pale, cool colour of one blending almost perfectly into the snow, while the other’s variegated amber hue made for quite the contrast - made their way through the harbour’s winding streets. Malseeth seemed to know where he was going, and so Autumn paid more attention to the beautifully clear sky, the drifts of snow that reminded her of the dunes of Thedale, and the rough-yet-homely buildings of Roenden architecture.
Autumn had little idea of how much time had truly passed - she hadn’t bothered to bring a watch with her, and the sun was moving slowly - when Malseeth used his magic to catch her attention via blowing a bit of snow into her fur.
“That’s cold,” she complained, but soon forgot about the chill. Noticing the building they were in front of, Autumn tilted her head. “Should we really be pulling a healer from an infirmary?”
“There are more healers than patients in town,” Malseeth explained, striding forward with calm surety. “Most travelling healers stop by the infirmary on their way elsewhere, chances are high we’ll find one who is going in the same direction we are.”
With that, the two entered the wide wooden building - within, the stone floor was warmed by hearth fires and magic, thin wooden walls providing privacy to patients and office spaces alike, while the scent of healing herbs thickened the air without being stifling. A peaceful calm lay over the entire interior, paintings of beautiful mountains and lakes providing something nice for long-time patients to look at, high windows gifting natural light and a feeling of airiness to alleviate any sense of captivity.
Many vayrons and humans of all varieties walked calmly back and forth along the halls, treating patients, moving curatives, and filling paperwork. Though there was no draft, Autumn caught the scent of fresh air under the heavy saturation of herbs, and knew the place to be well-ventilated - as a place of healing should be, to reduce spread of airborne ills.
“Are you here to seek healing?” a small tyrian, one able to fit reasonably within the wide hallways, asked the two as they approached the healer’s loft - the area where healers rested between duties.
“Seeking a fellow traveller headed to or near the capital,” Malseeth replied, giving a slight bow of his head in deference. “A healer willing to brave the pass.”
“Hm…” the tyrian pondered, storm-coloured wings shifting slightly as she thought. “There are quite a few travelling healers here, though most are on their way to the docks this time of year. Thedale and Vitalus are popular during winter.”
“Maybe I could help?” A gentle voice spoke up from Autumn’s right - as she turned her head to see who it was, she spotted a pale-coloured runner who far better met the descriptor of ‘silver’ than Malseeth did.
The healer’s mane was kept in a style Autumn wasn’t sure what to term beyond ‘fancy mess,’ one which failed to keep his mane out of his face, and unlike many reoseans, this healer wore actual clothing - a fancy coat that obscured much of his fur, but which failed to fully conceal the leg feathering of a friese, nor did it entirely hide his striping and dark underbelly. Friendly eyes gazed out from behind a pair of glasses, and Autumn gave him a friendly bark in greeting.
“A trainee?” Malseeth aimed this question at the tyrian, who inclined her head.
“Yes, but one ready to make his own way in the world.”
The bluer of the two silver vayrons turned to give the paler one his full attention, impassively taking the healer’s measure. The stranger shifted a bit, appearing uncertain at the scrutiny, but relaxed when Malseeth gave him a nod.
“If you are willing,” Malseeth said. “The pass has its dangers.”
“I know, I’ve been there before,” the healer replied, standing firm.
Autumn noticed that the healer stood a bit shorter than Malseeth, and the invasive part of her mind wondered if she’d only meet short vayrons on this trip. She hid her giggles as the thought amused her. Instead, she eagerly introduced herself.
“I’m Autumn and this is Malseeth, nice to meet you!” her cheery voice caused the tyrian to chuckle, and Malseeth seemed to huff a near-inaudible sigh.
The healer smiled back. “I’m Bernhard. Nice to meet you, too.”
It was midday, the sun at its zenith, as the newly-formed trio left the harbour city for the great snowy plains of Roenden. Though there were many reoseans and humans along the path at first, the traffic faded out as they reached the long road to Udreim - a road rarely travelled in winter, early spring, and late autumn, except by those seeking to prove themselves during the Trials. It was a dangerous road this time of year, Roenden’s harsh weather approaching its worst.
It was the tallest of the two runners, Malseeth, who led the way, with Bernhard taking the rear - both so he could respond quickly to sign of injury or illness, and also to keep watch behind them, for he too was native to this land and knew its dangers on the road.
Autumn’s bright amber fur and purple paws stood out starkly against the sparkling, powdery snow, in contrast to her companions almost blending in with their surroundings. Malseeth had chosen to purchase and wear a glowing emerald scarf for just this reason - so Autumn and Bernhard could easily pick him out amongst the snow, even if they were caught in a blizzard.
Their journey was blessedly uneventful for the first couple days, a casual chatter filling the air around them as they passed the time sharing the stories they’d learned from other people, and the places they’d seen. Autumn could share tales of both Thedale and Vitalus, while Bernhard and Malseeth only really knew Roenden - but their knowledge of their respective regions of the land was deep indeed.
Malseeth hailed from the far north, from where Roenden’s rule by humans was barely even acknowledged, where vayrons and tyrians had their own systems and civilizations. He did not speak much of his place in this distant society, only that he’d decided long ago that his people could not remain isolated forever.
Bernhard spoke even less of himself, instead getting very in-depth with Autumn in discussing more druidry aspects of magic - a topic he was delighted Autumn knew something of, while Autumn was almost constantly taking notes, guarding against any hint of forgetfulness.
Sunder would love this, she thought, even as she invited Bernhard to visit Vitalus someday.
Their arrival and stay in Udreim was equally uneventful, the trio falling silent to rest their voices and focus on preparation for the next, more dangerous, leg of their journey - or rather, Malseeth did, while the other two got very distracted what with Autumn’s excitability and Bernhard’s scatterbrained nature making for quite the combination when unsupervised.
“I thought you two were gathering provisions,” Malseeth’s voice made both Autumn and Bernhard jump, the angora runner having found them in the middle of a bookstore - a place where one did not typically find food, or other provisions, of any sort.
“I just wanted to see if Bernhard could help me find the best book on Roenden’s magic teachings,” Autumn replied, somewhat sheepish that she’d entirely forgotten that she was supposed to be doing something more important. But she’d wanted to bring Sunder something, and a book on magic had seemed a perfect idea.
“I…forgot we’d been heading to market,” Bernhard admitted, looking far more embarrassed.
Malseeth shook his head, seeming to accept this with an exasperated forbearance. “You’re both lucky I chose to be prepared. I purchased enough to last all three of us double the time it should take us to get through the pass. Finish up here and meet me at the Wandering Griffon Inn - we should rest before we leave.”
The two less-than-focused younger vayrons sheepishly nodded, but their embarrassment was soon forgotten as they returned to discussing the tomes on magic. This was also the only event of note, with little else occurring - Autumn found two books to purchase, one for herself and the other for Sunder, while Bernhard found a few for himself as well.
It would not be until the pass, that the dangers of Roenden would cease granting their reprieve.
The concern in Bernhard’s voice caused Autumn to look up from her notebooks, and it was the sight of Malseeth gazing at the sky with a concerned expression that had her pack up and close the lock on her satchel.
“Feel the wind,” was the older vayron’s response.
Some silence, and then Bernhard frowned, beginning to scan the clouds above them himself. “Blizzard’s approaching. The static up here is intense, think we might have lightning to worry about?” “Likely. I can shield us, to a degree, but we should seek better shelter.” Malseeth turned his head from the sky to look at the other two. “The risk of an avalanche if a strike occurs is high, and this is a bad place for that. Too open.”
“The path’s really narrow, though,” Autumn commented, as it didn’t seem very open to her.
“No sturdy overhangs or caves for us to shelter, Autumn,” Malseeth replied. “Avalanches strike hard, sudden, and they move fast. Always a present danger up here, but far more so during a storm. Let’s move out, there’s a cave not far from here.”
The frigid pass seemed to go from a sparkling wonder to a looming shadow of steep cliffs and foreboding peaks, as the feeling of danger seemed to twist Autumn’s perceptions. It was still beautiful, but an uncertain beauty, and the chill that had been ever-present now seemed to bite even deeper through her fur, into her skin, seeming to caress her very bones.
Bernhard and Malseeth appeared unaffected by the cold, and Bernhard even kept close to Autumn, using proximity to help her keep warm as her short lisse fur failed to retain much heat in the face of the rising gale, which moaned through the narrow ravine between sheer mountain cliffs. Sharp rocks and rough pebbles met their paws as the wind threw snow and grit into their faces. Visibility began to plummet, Malseeth’s brilliantly glowing scarf the main guide through the harsh, strengthening mountain blizzard.
The younger two jumped, while Malseeth ordered them to hurry and stay close to his heels. A low rumbling, so similar to thunder and yet somehow off, made itself heard over the rising wind. Vibrations hit Autumn in the feet and chest, making it hard for her to keep to a straight line, yet knowing - by some instinct - that she had to keep to Malseeth’s chosen path.
Pain blasted its way through her leg, as a misstep twisted the wrist of her forepaw, but the agony rapidly gave way to adrenaline, and Autumn ignored the injury in favour of keeping up the pace, Bernhard matching stride beside her to help ensure she did not fall off the barely-visible cliff.
So focused on running, Autumn did not notice the shadow Malseeth abruptly ran into, and it took Bernhard shoving her into it for her to notice the change in direction. None too soon, for a massive wall of white and grey, lit only by Malseeth’s scarf, engulfed the ground they had stood upon but moments prior. The noise was deafening, an ear-splitting roar of crashing ice and rock as the avalanche - something which contained far more than mere snow - threw itself down the mountainside with all the harsh, uncaring, vigorous fury of nature itself.
As unannounced as it had begun, the avalanche stopped, the thundering noise that had seemed to go on for eternity, now as if it had never been. Malseeth’s scarf continued to be their only light, the ice, snow, and rock at the cave entrance blocking the sky in its entirety. The only sound was the trio’s rapid panting, which gradually slowed as they caught their breaths.
“That, is why you must always be alert in the mountains.” Malseeth’s words sliced through the silence like cold ice, though his tone was not unkind. “Those who don’t live here rarely realize that it is more than just snow. The weight of it brings with it the ice and rock it rested upon, and it will kill you if given the chance. Like a tsunami or a lightning strike, it cannot be reasoned with, and rarely predicted.”
“It’s still neat,” was Autumn’s somewhat breathless response, which got an incredulous look from Bernhard. Malseeth simply shook his head.
“I’ll make a tunnel through the entrance to give us air,” the older vayron told them. “We can wait out the rest of the storm here. It’ll take time to clear the pass enough to walk it, and will be easier with daylight.”
“It’s late,” Bernhard agreed, then stood to look his companions over. “Are either of you hurt?”
“Somme scrapes, I’l be fine,” Malseeth replied. “Save the supplies for injuries of significance.”
“I think I twisted my paw,” Autumn admitted, raising the offending limb - which was now beginning to ache as the adrenaline began to wear off. A warm liquid dripped down her side, which she chose to ignore.
“Let me look it over,” Bernhard said, walking the few steps it took to get within examination range. The friese runner focused, and Autumn felt the familiar tingling of magic as he examined the extent of her injury. “Bad sprain, running on it didn’t help, but there’s no fractured bones or ruptured tendons.” “Is that good?” Autumn knew very little of fancy medical terminology.
Bernhard smiled gently at her. “It’s very good. It means there shouldn’t be any long-term problems, or infection. Stay still for me.”
The variegated amber puller held still as the healer focused his magic, and soon a rush of warm relief smoothed away the pain in her purple-hued paw. Bernhard then took a basic splint out of one of his bags, and carefully wrapped it around Autumn’s injured limb.
“You should try to keep off of this, even with magic it’ll take time to fully recover,” he told her, then noticed the injury to her shoulder that Autumn had been ignoring. “I’ll disinfect that, but I think it looks worse than it is, since it’s stopped bleeding already.”
“Thanks, Bernhard.” Autumn gave him a smile of her own.
It was about a day before the trio left their cave, Malseeth deciding that it would be better to let Autumn’s paw get some rest before they continued. Autumn whispered to Bernhard that the rest probably did Malseeth more good, an idea Bernhard readily agreed with.
The time was spent mostly sleeping, but soon enough Malseeth had their way out and forward cleared, and the trio continued along the pass to the Roenden capital. As beautiful as the mountains were, it was a relief to Autumn to see the flat snowy plains again - perhaps a bit more visually boring, but safer.
Bernhard kept close, out of habit as the two had gotten accustomed to sharing body heat within the cave. Malseeth continued to take lead, the emerald glow of his scarf now a soothing reassurance even when the skies were clear. Autumn filled the time mostly talking to Bernhard about druidry and magic, as Malseeth seemed content to listen instead of talk.
Pristine snow gave way to disturbed and dirty snow as they approached the capital, and Autumn pulled out her ‘messenger’ notebook to make sure she properly remembered the name and appearance of the vayron she was to deliver the envelope to. This soon led to her refreshing her memory on other things from her notebooks, which then led to another conversation - about many varied topics - with Bernhard.
“Do either of you know of an Aveirene who lives here?” Autumn finally thought to ask, as they approached the city gates.
“I buy herbs from her on occasion,” Bernhard replied, tilting his head.
“She’s the person I need to take this envelope to, could you show me where she is?” “Sure.”
“This is where we part ways,” Malseeth told the two runners, once they were within the city. “I have matters of my own to attend to. But if you’re still here in five days, I could lead you back through the pass.”
Autumn considered this, then nodded - dangerous or not, it was still the fastest way back home. “I’ll hold you to that, Malseeth.”
The delivery itself went without incident, and then Bernhard parted ways to seek out the city infirmary to offer his services. Autumn decided that resting at a local inn while she waited on Malseeth was the best idea, tired from the journey. Despite this tiredness, she was excited that her first message had gone so well - ignoring the avalanche.
She couldn’t wait to get home and tell everyone about it.
A payment literature for Platinum-Kiko, also a gift for Sehanbrel. ICQ for Autumn, Bernhard, and Malseeth.
Freakin' 4,364 words, because the plot required that many. Autumn counts for the full wordcount, Bernhard counts for 2,451 words (starts at ""Hm..." the tyrian pondered"), and Malseeth counts for 3,360 words (starts at "May I sit here?").
The wordcount doesn't include the quote at the top.
Messenger (Autumn) - Draw or write your Reosean receiving, running or delivering the package/missive for their client.
Healer (Bernhard) - Draw or write your Reosean aiding another by binding their wounds.
Escort (Malseeth) - Draw or write your Reosean guiding others through their native continents terrain. These could be forests in Warrenfall, an oasis in Thedale or a mountain pass in Roenden.
Added Reos + 2
Initial Class Quest + 2
4,364 words + 43
Total: 47 CP
Added Reos + 2
Guild Reos + 1
Initial Class Quest + 2
2,451 words + 24
Total: 29 CP
Added Reos + 2
Guild Reos + 1
Initial Class Quest + 2
3,360 words + 33
Total: 38 CP
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