<ST`> Having assured the Circle he would find you shortly, Kinqueduran veered off to follow tracks he'd found in the soft mud about ten miles back. The three others made good time and reached the village that Iron Horse had called home in short order. A remarkable contrast to northern villages, wary of barbarians, demons and snow monsters, the Eastern hamlet has no outer defenses or walls
- Mendhari begins to search for the finest inn.
<ST`> Trees and natural hills provide decent shelter for the village from maraduers at distance, but up close it is woefully unprotected, at least for the North.
- Iron_Horse hurries his step as they reach the village, and is soon taking into a run.
<Mendhari> "... wait up, Iron Horse."
- Anstice blinks at this. "They can wait a few more minutes, man."
<ST`> Some of the people in the village, mostly mates, children and old men, look to see what's going on. "Iron Horse?" An old man steps forward as the younger one enters the village.
- Mendhari steps up behind Iron H Orse?.
- Anstice stops beside mendhari.
- Iron_Horse on the other hand nearly skids to a halt near the old man. "... Ah! Red River! Old man Red River!"
- ST` is now known as Red River?
<Red River?> "Where have you been, we haven't seen you in these parts.."
<Iron_Horse> "I was travelling around! Come on, didn't pa mention that? I went to work further north..."
<Red River?> "Yeah..he said somethin about that..oh..oh..you don't know do you?"
- David has joined #RedIce
- Chan Serv? sets mode: +o David
- David is now known as Kinqueduran
- Iron_Horse gulps a bit, looking at Red River. "... old man, did anything happen here?"
- Red River? nods. "Yea..yeah...not long ago they came through. From the old temple, I bet. Lots of them in the fields..they didn't make it."
<Red River?> "I'm sorry, Iron Horse."
- Iron_Horse is just... rock still, for a few seconds. "... I... I need to get home." Without another word, he dashes off in the direction of his house, leaving Anstice and Mendhari behind.
- Mendhari blinks. She quickly follows.
- Anstice sighs, and follows, though slower, bowing respectfully to red river.
<Red River?> Some distance out from the actual village, Iron Horse's family farm covers a fair area. A pair of aurochs glower at the approaching Exalts and some chickens squawk in loud disturbance as Iron Horse plows past
- Iron_Horse pays no attention to the animals as he runs, heading directly towards the humble house he once called home. If anybody could see his face now, they could easily see he's nealy panicking.
<Red River?> A young woman with hair the color of Iron Horse's and a similarly thin frame steps from the house. "What's wrong with you, you stupid ...Iron Horse!!"
- Mendhari looks at her.
- Anstice blinks, and refrains from a comment.
<Iron_Horse> "Ruby!! SIS!!"
- Iron_Horse doesn't really stop his dash, and pretty much ends up grabbing his sister into a fierce hug, picking her right off the ground as he finally stops his dash.
- Red River? is now known as Ruby Doe?
<Ruby Doe?> "Oof! What's happening? Why are you back?"
- Ruby Doe? returns the hug as she questions her brother.
- Iron_Horse finally lets his sister down, taking a few deep breaths. "Sis... I heard... what... what happened? Where is... everybody?"
<Ruby Doe?> "Bronze Mule and Steel Dove are at their jobs, of course. And Father is inside. That's..oh. Iron Horse, I'm sorry. Mother.."
- Ruby Doe? sniffs deeply, trying to hold back a sob.
- Mendhari sees her pain, and takes a step forward.
- Iron_Horse ... hugs his sister again, going quiet. "... when? When did they come?"
<Ruby Doe?> "The day before Calibration started. Mother and Blue Feather were outside, with the Ostriches."
<Ruby Doe?> "They got them all. Mother, Blue. Even little Yellow Ostrich didn't get away. You know how fast she was, almost as fast as you. But she didn't make it."
- Iron_Horse is... quiet, very quiet, and he finally pulls back and smiles a bit sadly to Ruby Doe. "... Sis... I'm... going to talk to pa now, ok?" He looks back towards Anstice and Mendhari, and then to the floor, expression hardening a bit. "... we'll make things alright."
- Mendhari is surprised by the way Iron Horse is acting. Very... Mature.
- Anstice nods at him, a little impressed.
- Ruby Doe? nods, sniffing again. "I have to see to the aurochs. Um. Who are they?"
<Iron_Horse> "Friends... met them while traveling. I'll tell you about that later, ok?"
- Mendhari smiles at Iron Horse's sister.
<Iron_Horse> "... oh, uh... she's Mendhari and he's Anstice... this is my sister, Ruby Doe."
- Anstice waves a little.
- Kinqueduran steps up behind Anstice and Mendhari, his coarse poncho missing, making him a glittering red beacon.
<Iron_Horse> "... oh, and the red guy there is Kinqueduran... I call him K."
<Iron_Horse> "... where have -you- been?"
- Kinqueduran shrugs and answers in brilliantly Sidereal fashion. "Here and there."
- Ruby Doe? smiles shyly at Anstice, blushing a bit. She jumps when Kin appears, but quickly settles down. She offers much smaller and less shy smiles to Mendhari and Kinqueduran
- Kinqueduran returns the smile, but it just ends up looking forced, annoyed, and distant.
<Iron_Horse> "... yeah, anyway... I'll... see you in a bit, sis."
- Iron_Horse hugs Ruby Doe again, and then steps into the house.
- Kinqueduran blinks, confused, and nudges Mendhari lightly. "What's gotten into Iron Horse? Is he possessed?"
- Mendhari smiles to Ruby Doe.
<Anstice> "Bad news."
<Kinqueduran> "...how bad?"
<Anstice> "Death in the family bad."
- Kinqueduran 's demeanor sobers immediately, and he leans rather heavily on his spear. "....oh."
- Ruby Doe? is now known as Grey Flint?
- Mendhari watches the sister, and puts an arm around her. "What was Iron Horse like before he left the villiage?"
- Grey Flint? peers at the figure in his door from his seat. Slowly, he puts down the flask he had been drinking from. "Who's that? Ruby?"
- Iron_Horse ... steps in, slowly. "... pa? It's me... I'm back..."
<*Ruby*> "Well, you know. A bit slow. But nice. He was always helpful..always helped Mother whenever she needed it. Anyone really.."
- Mendhari nods. "He seems to have not changed much at all." She smiles.
<Kinqueduran> "He's a good kid. Good man."
<*Ruby*> "It's so funny, thinking of him as a grown-up. When he was here, he still hadn't passed any of the rites at all. My little brother.."
<Grey Flint?> "You back, son? Not dead are you? Dead like your Mother. Sister. Dead like me."
- Kinqueduran shrugs, looking off into the distance. "It's hard not to think of him as a kid sometimes."
- Iron_Horse quickly steps towards his father, and kneels besides his chair, placing his hands on his shoulders. "... Pa... I'm alive, I'm ok... I... I heard about... mom and..."
- Mendhari smiles. "It really makes things.... lighter."
<Kinqueduran> "Is it just me, or do we encounter sorrow and doom everywhere we go?"
<Grey Flint?> "Heard! Bet you did. Didn't even get to put her in the family tree."
<Mendhari> "... it's most definately not you."
<Kinqueduran> "...that's a first. Maybe I'm starting to relate to people."
<Mendhari> "You had to develop a brain SOMEDAY.'
<*Ruby*> "Why are you wearing that armor...K? Are you a solider?"
- Kinqueduran just smiles and runs a hand over Mendhari's hair fondly. He glances to Ruby, and his smile falls a little. "Used to be."
- Ruby* whispers in fear "Are you a..deserter?"
- Kinqueduran shakes his head. "No. I was abandoned by my army."
- Iron_Horse closes his eyes, quiet for a few moments, and finally stands up. "... pa, where are their graves? I... wanna say bye to them properly.""
<Grey Flint?> "Don't have any. Nothin' left. Tree's out where it always was. Left their branches bare, just white paint. Nothin left." he gulps and reaches for the flask
- Iron_Horse reaches out to put a hand in his father's arm. "Wait... no bodies? At all?"
<Grey Flint?> "Nothing. Demons got it all."
- Iron_Horse is quiet for a few more moments, and bites his lower lip, before looking at him hard. "... pa, don't drink anymore."
<Grey Flint?> "Why not! All I got left."
<Grey Flint?> "You know they're all married. Got lives. I don't."
<Grey Flint?> "Even Ruby's lookin for a husband now."
<Grey Flint?> "And you know she'll find one. That's it then."
<Iron_Horse> "... because ma wouldn't want you to drink yourself to death."
<Grey Flint?> "I'll be with her. All that matters. She's been mad at me 'fore now."
- Kinqueduran inches past Mendhari and Ruby, pausing in the doorway, peering inside.
- Iron_Horse pulls away, shaking his head, not sure what to say. "... I'm going to the tree now, pa... I'll come back later."
- Kinqueduran frowns, backing away from the door, turning back to the others in silence.
- Grey Flint? tips back the flask as his son leaves the darkened house.
- Grey Flint? is now known as Ruby Dove?
<Ruby Dove?> "Don't..he's..not presentable right now. Maybe later. At dinner."
- Ruby Dove? touches Kin's arm to pull him away
- Ruby Dove? is now known as Ruby Doe?
- Kinqueduran moves away from the door. "That's unfortunate."
- Iron_Horse seems rather sad as he leaves the house, giving the people outside a look, and then moving right past them, and in the direction of a large, old tree.
- Anstice shakes his head. "Painful times for everyone."
- Kinqueduran watches Iron Horse go, nodding. "Think it's worse for the kid, though."
<Ruby Doe?> The family burial tree is close to the house, just inside the forest. Rising higher then any of the surrounding tress, skeletons roost high in the boughs, Iron Horse's ancestors going back nearly 30 generations.
<Ruby Doe?> Two boughs near the middle of the tree are bare but painted the stark white of graves. Not even a lingering bit of shroud or bone marks them as once having owners and the paint smells fresh.
- Kinqueduran sighs, resolving to follow Iron Horse to the tree.
- Iron_Horse stops by the large tree, staring up and towards the two boughs quietly for a few moments. As K approaches, he says nothing for a few moments... and he finally sighs. "... I only ever saw this tree once, when my grandma died when I was a kid... I still remember what her branch is."
- Kinqueduran nods a little bit, replying quietly. "Point out her branch for me, Iron Horse."
- Iron_Horse does so, lifting his hand and pointing to a branch just a foot up or so above the two bare ones. "... mom and bro would be the ones above... my little sis... she... would have been one of the new branches." He pauses, and points to another branch, this one empty and not painted. "... and that one's mine."
- Mendhari studies intently. Recently, she's gotten a strange interest in death.
- Kinqueduran nods slightly. "When is your branch going to be painted?"
<Iron_Horse> "When I die."
<Kinqueduran> "I know what the condition is, Iron Horse. I'm asking you when."
<Kinqueduran> "Think about it."
<Kinqueduran> "Your branch could be bare when the Realm crumbles. Your branch could be bare when the end of the world comes."
<Iron_Horse> "OR it could be painted when I do something stupid again."
<Kinqueduran> "When or if?"
- Iron_Horse gives Kin a somewhat sad look. "I dunno. My brain's no good."
- Kinqueduran shrugs. "You've got thousands of years to improve, Horse."
<Iron_Horse> "... hey, K... you mentioned prisoners..."
<Kinqueduran> "Did I?"
<Kinqueduran> "Oh, oh. Yes, prisoners, or something like it."
<Iron_Horse> "... do you think that... raid they made here... would have been to get some?"
- Kinqueduran steps back, turning to face Iron Horse's house. "I don't know, Iron Horse. I'm trying not to think too much about it. Hopefully that'll slow the onset of madness."
- Iron_Horse scratches the back of his head. "... yeah. Do we set out today or tomorrow morning?"
- Iron_Horse nods, not in the mood to argue. "... can you give me an hour or so?"
- Mendhari nods. "Okay."
- Kinqueduran nods. "I'd give you more time, but we need you, and this can't risk waiting. That said ... I think we all need to stop, rest, eat, and focus."
<Iron_Horse> "I'd go there even if you didn't want me to."
- Kinqueduran nods. "I know, Iron Horse. That's how heroes live."
- Iron_Horse looks at the three, smiling a bit. "... yeah... go to the pub, it's by the eastern edge of the village... miss Esmerald makes some damn tasty stew. I'll meet you there later."
- Kinqueduran nods one last time and paces slowly away in the direction indicated.
- Anstice follows K, feeling rather down himself. So much to do, so little time.