The Western Watch
The Western Watch
At the western border of Kiana stands a wooden fortification consisting of a gated stockade surrounding a parade ground, barracks for a few dozen Haflings, a small detention building, a mess hall, armory, and various small huts and storerooms. Dominating the fort is a tall wooden tower.
The Home Guard
From: North Hampshire
A procession of about a dozen of the Home Guard, a captive monster aboard a oxen-drawn wagon, an Aeros girl, and an Ice Gnome approached the open gates of the Western Watch.
"Ring the 'All Clear'." The Lieutenant leading the squad shouted. "We've captured the monster."
The Lieutenant had allowed Miiya, and Vjerdt if he so asked, to ride upon the wagon. Her demeanor toward both Gnome and Aeros was much more neutral than the rest of the Guard. "Sam, take tha one to processing." She detailed one of her command to escort Vjerdt to an administrative hut. "Bilao, 'scort her to the infirmary." She said to another. "Make sure she gets processed after tha'." She turned to the remainder of the squad. "The rest uv ye, help shift Big Blue out the wagon."
From Crosswaters Farm
The walk to the Watch was too long for the gnome's short legs, and he was exhausted from the violent events of the day, so Vjerdt indeed asked to ride on the wagon, which made the journey much easier. He kept quiet and to himself, retaining some distance from the Aeros girl, trying to comprehend all that has transpired. He had many questions, but did not trust anyone here to give him answers.
He was given to someone named Sam for something named 'processing'. He did not resist. There was no point. Whatever he got caught in, he will have to learn and slowly find his way out. It probably was a mistake to leave the Krowne.
((OOC: Will be offline until Monday))
From: Crosswaters Farm
As it was carted along, the TonDen had a chance to work through several thoughts.
"I do not wish to be harmed, nor see yew harmed." It replied to Vjerdt.
After rolling a few more leagues, it spoke to Miiya. "When yew touched me, yew commanded me to stop. I do not wish to be commanded." It rumbled. "But... Yew were correct. I did not wish to kill the small people, but I would have killed many."
For a while after that, the TonDen was silent. When they were nearly to the gate of the fortification, it spoke to Miiya again. "Yew do not speak for me." After a long pause, it concluded the thought. "But yew may speak when exigent circumstances arise."
From: Crosswaters Farm
Miiya was trying to find a corner of the wagon not occupied by Mister TonDen and also mostly out of sight of the marching Home Guard. The Haflings were clearly displeased walking while their captives rode. Miiya would have been hard-pressed to endure the hike. She was able to remain upright and mostly put the TonDens slow rumbling words in the right order in her pounding head.
She might have tried talking to Vjerdt, but he seemed to have picked up on the Haflings hostility toward her. She wasn't sure how he'd respond to her, and wasn't sure if she'd be bringing trouble down upon him by acting familiar.
"Okay..." She mumbled in response to the TonDen, trying not to think of her thirst. wait...what?! Had Mister TonDen just told her that she could command him by placing hands on him and saying or thinking what she wanted him to do? She wasn't sure, but he was talking awfully loudly about killing little people. Miiya wondered if she shushed him, when he would actually stop speaking. probably tomorrow morning, ssometime she thought wryly.
Miiya hoped her pounding headache meant she was healing, but she had a feeling it just meant she was dehydrated. Staring at nothing and thinking nothing helped, so that's what she did, grunting noncommittally when TonDen rumbled about exigent circumstances.
When they reached the Watch, Miiya went where she was bade with shoulders slumped and wings drooping. wait. She stopped and turned back to the TonDen's prostrate form. She took a breath to speak. "Stay calm, okay. I'll..." She wasn't sure just what she could do for either of them, so she just left it at that and let herself be led to the infirmary.
The Home Guard
The hafling escorting Vjerdt was in a cheery mood. "If we hurry, should be jus' in time for tea, methinks." He said to his blue-haired charge as he led Vjerdt to a small shack that housed a rough desk, a couple of chairs, and not much else. A middle-aged guardsman was snoring behind the desk. Vjerdt's escort didn't seem to think this was any great beech of protocal, and simply woke the soldier. "Got a foreigner for intake. He'll be seein' his lordship when he comes by tonight or tomorrow."
"Right. Name." Yawned the haffer behind the desk. Processing, as it turned out, just meant giving the same information Vjerdt had been asked when he was put ashore at the port. Name, age, occupation, homeland, where he was staying, and the last place he visited. Once it was all written down, he was released to the mess.
"If'n yer tired, I kin take yew to detention. Don' worry mate, it's nicer than it sounds--beats the barracks, actually." His escort reassured him. "Otherwise, come with me fer tea at the mess hall."
The soldiers working on shifting the TonDen backed the wagon to a long-disused animal pen. There, they transferred the great construct of Blue Ash using a block and tackle. Eventually, TonDen would be laid prostrate upon the patchy clover and weeds that had overgrown the pen. The fences had little hope of holding back sheep, let alone a 12-foot monster. However, two druids were assigned to watch the creature and periodically renew the magickal bindings that held it fast.
Miiya was led to the infirmary by a sullen guardsman. "In ya go." He ordered.
Inside, the Aeros girl would find a couple of rows of empty beds, cabinets with some spartan medical supplies, and a smiling Home Guard Medic. "Come 'ave a seat, lass, an let's get yew fixed up." The medic's bedside demeanor was quite friendly. "Alright, tell me, what hurts the most?" If Miiya had any specific complaints, he would start there and then work gently through a thorough exam. If asked for water, he'd pull ladle-fulls from a grog barrel where a little spirits were mixed in to keep the water sanitized.
"Well, yew've got a bump on the old melon, and no mistake." He said while changing, cleaning, and re-bandaging her head wound. "Looks a coupl'a days old amiright? Yew having any lasting symptoms? Knock like this would give most haffers a pretty good concussion. I've seen strong men kept down for a week for less."
"This wing... er... tip seems broken, but I don't know enough to re-set it unless yew want me to." He said, gently stretching out Miiya's injured wing and then probing the splinted fracture. "Bone feels like it's set clean, as far as I can tell." He grinned at her. "Ain't doctored up too many Aeros."
"Oh, lass, this is a painful bit." He said compassionately as he peeled away the mess of fabric and dirt that had stopped her road rash from bleeding. "I'm sorry, I'll try to do it quick-like." As he worked at cleaning her hashed skin, he continued to make small talk. "So, me neighbor tells me about an Aiross gel wot's been delivering 'er mail and runnin parcel post all over Kiana. Sez she's stayin' with the Crosswaters. Be that yew?"
A little kindness went a long way with the Aeros girl. Miiya felt better just for the medic's smile, never mind the healing.
That part actually hurt.
She winced and tried not to hiss in pain as he peeled off bandages caked with blood, or prodded her broken carpal. "May I have some water, please?" She asked, and quickly downed every cup she was offered. The water tasted a little bitter, but the spartan infirmary looked clean enough, so she didn't think it was gone bad.
With the medic's easy smile and friendly demeanor--along with some hydration--she found herself enlivened a bit. Her aches and pains seemed to recede after a few more pulls from the water barrel. Her head wasn't getting any clearer, but at least the pounding there was reduced to a duller ache. "I got these injuries today." She replied to one of his questions.
"Yep, that's me. I'm working for the Crosswaters as a courier." Or she had been, at least. As friendly as the medic seemed, she didn't really think it wise to share that she had become jobless and homeless just this afternoon.
The medic paused a moment and stood before Miiya. "Best to keep that under wraps, lass." He looked around, but there was no one else in the infirmary. He lowered his voice anyway. "The last magistrate was a Crosswaters, and rumor has it that he let in whoever started the war." His expression turned grim. "Lotta folks lost friends and family in Kiana last year, but nawt the Crosswaters. Those kind of wounds don't heal quick, and sentiments pretty strong against tha' family, and those associated with them, here at The Watch."
As he finished rebandaging her scrapes the medic changed the subject. "So, tha big blue feller yew brought here; where'd ya find 'im?" His smile returned. "Looks like a right handy sidekick, for an extra-extra-large biggun. How d'ya get 'im ta do what yew say?"
"There, lass. Oi think I've done all I can fer thee." The medic stood back with an expression of concern. "Yew look as thin as a rail, gel. Be that a normal state fer yew Aiross?"
Miiya's thoughts were getting less and less clear. Unbeknownst to her, the liquor in the drinking water was having an outsized effect on her empty stomach and dehydrated circulatory system. It took her a minute to unwind that the medic was talking about the TonDen and not Vjerdt, or some new blue-hued person.
"Oh..." She said, realizing whom he meant, but getting no further in sentence construction.
She took a breath. Fortified, she tried to finish her thought. "Mister TonDen's not mine. We just met, today, at the Cross..." Wait, was she not supposed to talk about that? Like as in not now, even? "A-at a farm, where the Oracle said 'ee'd be." She explained rather less-than-coherently. "He doesn't like to be told what to do." Some distant corner of her mind flashed a warning. Was she talking too much? But it was okay, right? This was an authority figure.
Miiya was relieved when the conversation turned to sustenance. "We're light, but I'm not s'posed ta be this light." She replied. "I'm really hungry. I was hoping..." She trailed off. Could she just stay here in the infirmary with the nice medic and the numbing water, have food brought to her and maybe some stuff for washing? She sighed. No, she took the soldier's meaning that it was time to head back into the care of the much less pleasant Guardsmen.
"Ah, well, don't we all, lass?" The medic commented on TonDen's recalcitrance to take orders. "Burden of command, et is."
He led Miiya back to her escort. "Double rations for this one, doctor's orders." He winked at Miiya as she departed. "Off yew go, best of luck to thee, lass." He said, in parting.
The grim-faced soldier led Miiya to the detention cell block next, bypassing the administrative sheds. He brought the young Aeros to a cell already occupied by two Guardsmen. The room's cots had been stacked up in the corner to make room for a table and a few chairs. "Sit." The guardsman demanded, pushing Miiya down into one of the seats. He would then, unless resisted by the youngster, fasten wrist and ankle shackles to her, all chained to a single anchor point in the floor of the cell. He said not a word to Miiya or to any of the jailers as he left her in their care.
The two haflings in the cell with Miiya looked to be older soldiers. One glowered at her while he pulled a stem and bowl from some pocket, filled it with pipe weed, and ignited the herb, puffing on it and filling the cell with pungent smoke. "So, gel. Yew've returned to Kiana. Haven't yew visited enough misery upon our people a'ready?" He queried in a voice filled with menace. "Who sent yew this time? Were it Churt? Were it those demmed Elves? Botharel? The Umans of Daelows?" He snarled. "We know ye came wi' the Elfwitch wot brot war ta Kiana a year ago. Now ye've returned with some monster howling 'er name an threatenin' ta kill scores o' the Guard." He had been seated, but now he stood, the violence of his rising knocking over his chair. "Who d'ya work for?! What vile plan have ye?!"
The other Guardsman seemed more reserved, he waited for the words from the first to sink in before he spoke. "Lass, we've made yew, there be no use pretendin'. The magistrate be comin' soon." He shook his head. "If'n ye cooperate and tell us the truth, that'll give 'em reason to show mercy to ya." He put his hands on the table and leaned forward toward Miiya. "Yer a young gel, still. I'd hate ta see yew wastin away all yer long years in the gaol, or have 'em cut short dancin' at the end o' a rope." He struck a solicitous tone. "Yer starvin' and abused. Whatever master ye serve hain't treated yew square. Fess up. Let us know they wicked plans, and ye'll see mercy from Kiana, to be sure."
The Home Guard
The first guard to question Miiya had backed up, puffing angrily on his pipe while the second asked his questions. Now the smoker pounced on her statement. "So, yew knew tha monster were going ta attack our lands, an yew told no one!" He growled. "Ye've been spotted flittin' all about Kiana for nigh on a week now, yet yew didn't register wi' any authority, or warn anyone of the monster's coming!" He stabbed in her direction with the stem of his pipe. "Or mebbe yer conspiring with some evildoers livin' inside our borders. Tell me, girl, who's been harborin' yew?" He leaned in close, noticing that the smoke from his pipe bothered the young Aeros, and blew a gout of it in her face. "Fess up! What traitorous scum has been hidin' ye?!" He banged a fist down abruptly on the table before her.
The calmer of the pair pulled the enraged Guardsman back. "Easy, mate." He said in a calming tone. "Why don't ye finish that bowl o'er there? I'm sure she wants ta help us, if'n we jus give the lass a chance."
His partner grumbled darkly, but let himself be pulled away from Miiya, still puffing out clouds of noxious pipe weed.
The calmer Guardsman turned back to Miiya. "Now lass, I want ta believe yew. I want ta help ye out o' whatever scrape yer in, but even leavin' aside why ye told no one about the monster and this Oracle business, kin yeh at least help me out an 'splain where yeh been staying, and who yeh been 'sociatn with?" He paused. "We're here ta protect ye, and everyone in these lands, understand? Help us do our job, an tell us wha'ere yew know about tha monster, and the witch he serves."
"I-I didn't know I was supposed to…" Miiya wilted in the face of the Guardsman's fury. "I mean…" The air of the small cell, thick with smoke, seemed suffocatingly close. She could barely breathe, couldn't think at all. She shouldn't tell this infuriated Hafling about the Crosswaters, right? That seemed only likely to make him angrier, but what could she say? How to answer his demands, without getting her hosts in trouble? Her heart stuttered in her chest and her breaths came shallow and quick. The blast of smoke in her face sent her into paryoxms of coughing. "The Green Griffon." She said without thinking. "I've been staying there alone." She gasped out.
Miiya was actually in some distress from the spirits, smoke, and her injury. Her enlarged heart and lungs were increasingly inflamed from the toxins and stress. This manifested in a deathly blue-tinged paleness of her skin as an arrithmia developed in her heartbeat. Her blood wasn't being fully oxygenated, nor was it pumping well to her vitals.
When the smoker backed off and the good cop rounded on her, she heard his entreaties only vaguely, through her fog of ill humors.
Miiya put her head down and wheezed. "I don't know anything… I-I swear." Her breaths came shallowly. "I'm j-just a courier…" She meant to say more, that she was a bard and sometimes scholar, to repeat that she only hoped the TonDen would help her brother, to explain about the Oracle and it's vague prophesy. Instead she closed her eyes and the words died upon her lips.
The Home Guard
"Oi! Sit up! We're nawt finished with yew yet!" Shouted the pipe smoker, his bowl at last burned completely to ash. He stepped forward again, but before he could do anything more, there came a pounding on the detention block's door. "Magistrate's here. Wants ta see the girl."
Good cop looked at bad cop and nodded. "We got enough fer now." He said. "Let's take 'er to 'is 'onor."
The pipe smoker released the floor anchor, then ran a rope through Miiya's shackles and jerked on it. "On yer feet!" While his partner acted as an extra guard, he led--or dragged--Miiya out of the detention building, across the parade ground, and presented her to the shire magistrate. This involved standing her in a rudely-made dock before the platform purpose-built for hearings on particularly difficult cases who crossed into Kiana near the fort.
Typically petitioners would stand free in the dock, but as Miiya was winged, and potentially dangerous, she was tied down by the irons on her wrists and ankles.
The local official was holding court in the ground floor of the Western Watch's tower. He was an elderly Hafling, finely dressed, greying, and a bit on the thin side under his Magistrate's robes. "Right." He harrumphed. "Wot 'ave we here?" He peered at Miiya through a pair of small spectacles. "This is the Aiross girl? Doesn't look like much. Wots the charges?"
Good Cop was the one who spoke against Miiya. "Crossin' the border without inspection. Conspiracy to commit mayhem with that monster yer honor saw on yer way in. Obstruction uv a Home Guard investigation."
"I’ll take yer word fer the first, but got any evidence uv the last two?” The Magistrate asked.
“Aye, well, she commands the big blue beastie fer the former, and she perjured herself to the Home Guard regardin’ the latter.” Said good cop. “Told an investigator she’s stayin’ at the Griffon when she’s actually bunked up just down th’ road at Crosswaters.”
“It’s true, yer honor.” Came another voice. The medic who had first seen to Miiya’s injuries stepped forward. “She told me the Crosswaters be harboring her. She said she can order that monster outside around as well.”
Good cop’s expression was tight. “An she told me she can’t. That her being wi' the beast is just coincidence."
The Magistrate frowned and leaned over his desk. “Well, girl. What do yew have to say fer yerself? Are ye conspiring with the Crosswaters, or aren’t ye? Did yew bring that monstrosity here or didn’t yew?”
The Ice Gnome was blissfully ignorant of all the hardships Miiya had to endure. The Kiana guards were quite nice to him, and did not seem to consider him a threat. He gave all the information asked from him: Vjerdt, son of Vjerdt. From the Ice Krowne. Occupation? None, really, he's just a young gnome on the road. Stayed one night at the Green Griffon. Arrived to Kiana upon the Tidetamer and disembarked here. He did not bother to conceal the fact that he was a stowaway passenger within the ship. At the current moment, it seemed like the least troubling aspect of his last few days.
The Hafling guard offered him detention - or tea. Vjerdt did not hesitate. "Tea would be lovely." It was actually quite a rare commodity back in the Krowne. Not that many leaves for that. But the idea of some soothing hot drink after all that he's been through was too appealing to ignore.
He followed the guard to the mess hall, and sat next to him with a boiling cup. These were the first moments of true relaxation since he left the inn earlier this morning. He inhaled the steam from his drink, closed his eyes, processed all that have happened.
"Please tell me, good sir," he finally asked the Hafling accompanying him. "They were speaking up there about some Greenskins attack, and about a witch of sorts." It was all blurry so he hoped he remembered it right. "What is the story behind that? There seems to be more history in this than I had bargained for."
He was still trying the figure out the pieces of the puzzle he found himself part of. And maybe then he'll be able to tell what piece was he.