< A Dusty Battle | Red Ice Logs | Guilty Reflection >

As the sky darkens, Iron Horse estimates the trip to Luska is nearly complete, three or four more hours and they will reach the walls of the small city and safety from any threats in the wild. But Vestra is clearly unused to such extended traveling and looks exhausted.

  • Iron Horse is... clearly not exhausted at all, fairly used to all that exercise. "It should only be a few hours now, miss!"

Vestra: "Ah…a few more hours? Won't it be dark by then?"

Iron Horse: "Yeah, it'll be... well, we could camp here if you are too tired, but it should only be... three, four hours?"

  • Vestra looks toward the unseen city and hesitates. "Lets camp, Iron Horse. It will be...relaxing. And I would like to spend some more time with you. You're so different from the maids and keepers, you know."
  • Iron Horse laughs a bit. "OK! We'll camp then! Let's see..." He hops forward and looks around, for what might be the best place to set down and place the tent. "And... well, it'll be nicer to arrive to the city with daylight. Night can be nice and all, but I like seeing the places I'm walking through..."
  • Vestra smiles "Yes. There is no reason for undue haste."
  • Iron Horse offers a hand to Vestra to help her off the horse. "How do you like traveling so far?"

Vestra: "Tiring, but enjoyable. I think I might come to enjoy it...if there was further oppertunity."

Iron Horse: "I don't see why there wouldn't be any more opportunities... maybe after you are done with what you have to do in Luska? ... what is it again?"

  • Vestra looks uncertain and uncomfortable. "Oh, I must be with my Aunt. She needs help, now in her advanced age. My father demands that I help her live out a fuller life."

Vestra: "I will not have any further time to travel, I am afraid."

  • Iron Horse tilts his head to the side, frowning a bit. "... miss Vestra, is there something you aren't telling me?"
  • Vestra blanches. "No, nothing. I am happy to assist my Aunt.."

Iron Horse: "... miss Vestra, you went pale. Please tell me what's wrong... I want to help."

Vestra: "That's truly nice of you, Iron Horse. But I do not think you can."

Iron Horse: "Why not?"

Vestra: "The situation is complicated and there are certain forces involved. You are strong and fast, Iron Horse, but I do not think you can fight these forces. Nor can I. It is my destiny."

  • Iron Horse grins. "Destiny?"
  • Iron Horse idly takes the tent and spreads it across the floor. "... Ok, how about... I tell you one of my secrets if you tell me yours?"
  • Vestra sighs and pats you on the arm. "Very well. When I reach my Aunt's, I will be sacrificed to the Demon Princes so my Aunt can gain another century of life. As all my siblings and all my father's wives have been sacrificed for 1,000 years."

Iron Horse: "... wow, your aunt's a jerk."

  • Vestra gives a sobbing laugh.

Iron Horse: "But it's my turn, right? OK... this farm boy here? When I traveled throughout the world, Mercury liked seeing a boy running all over the place, and so she chose me."

Vestra: "You are…Chosen?"

  • Iron Horse just steps close to Vestra and looks into her eyes.
  • Vestra looks deep into the star-filled eyes of her hired guide and guardian. Taking a deep breath, she bursts into tears and slumps against Iron Horse's chest quickly soaking his shirt.
  • Iron Horse holds Vestra gently, patting her back, and then looks up at the sky. "... I'm not gonna let people sacrifice you to any demons, ok?"

Vestra: "How can you possibly stop them? They are so old and they have demons that serve them.."

Iron Horse: "I'll think of something! ... maybe... and if everything fails, I can always carry you and run really fast!"

  • Vestra laughs weakly. "I'm sure you will, Iron Horse. But for now, can we go to sleep? I am very tired."

Iron Horse: "... Ah! Let me set up the tent for you really quickly then!"

Once the tent is set up, Vestra crawls inside and curls up.

  • Iron Horse stays outside to keep watch, and... think.

And time passes, Vestra fretting quietly in her tent while trying to sleep. Dreading the coming of the sun, she waits while Iron Horse stands outside. Finally, the sun rises, blood red on the horizon and the vague outline of Luska is visible in the distance.

  • Iron Horse watches the sun rise with a small sigh. "Hmm... what to do, what to do..." He asks the same question he has been asking all night to himself.
  • Vestra yawns daintily and opens her eyes. As the sun shines through her tent, she sighs and turns over, her spirits flagging.

Vestra: "Iron Horse? Are you still there?"

Iron Horse: "... Oh! Morning!"

  • Iron Horse stands, stretches, and moves towards the tent. "How are you feeling?"
  • Vestra gives a sad smile. "As well as I can. You do not seem to have slept."
  • Iron Horse scratches the back of his head. "Eh, I can handle it... say, I -did- want to ask you something."

Vestra: "Yes?"

Iron Horse: "If you -aren't- delivered, that woman would die, right...? Do you know how much that would take?"

  • Vestra blinks. "What?"
  • Iron Horse scratches the back of his head again. "Well, if she died... sacrificing you would be a moot point, right?"

Vestra: "But..you would *kill* her?"

Iron Horse: "I dunno. I'm not really much of a fighter. Does that worry you?"

Vestra: "She has demons that are bound to her and her mortal servants are strong. Could you possibly defeat them all? And...I mean. I have been raised for this."

Iron Horse: "The demons kinda worry me, the mortals... not really. And... even if you were raised for that, do you -want- it to happen?"

  • Vestra shakes her head. "But, even if you do save me. Where will I go? How will I hide from my father?"
  • Iron Horse begins to pace about. "Hmm... well, you don't -need- a fixed route... I don't have one, for example. But your dad... he's like your aunt?"

Vestra: "Yes. He has been doing this for so long."

Iron Horse: "Hmph. Bad family. Parents should care for their kids."

Vestra: "So I have heard. Iron Horse...could you take me with you?"

Vestra: "We don't have to go to my Aunt! You need not battle her demons. We can just..run away!"

  • Iron Horse ... grins. "You'd travel with an endless wanderer like me?"

Vestra: "I'd be alive and I will learn to travel as you do."

  • Iron Horse laughs a bit. "Hmm... wonder if they'd fall for a 'stepped off the road' trick..."

Vestra: "The demons will smell the lies on you. Come, we can run. Far and fast and they may not catch us! Please, Iron Horse. Take me away."

  • Iron Horse ... nods, after a bit, and points to the horse. "Hop on, and I'll show you how -fast- can fast be."
  • Vestra clambers on the horse, leaving the tent behind.
  • Iron Horse steps up the horse himself, in front of Vestra and taking the reins. "... I'll be honest. For all the horses in my name, I'm actually only an average rider." With his bad joke done, he grins, and he... pretty much flares up in a yellow glow, snapping the reins of the horse and making it more -FAST-.
  • Vestra holds tightly to Iron Horse as the two flee the terrible fate that would have otherwise awaited the young maiden.

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