January 25th, 2018

dungeons & discourse // no. 3, reunion.

This is part of an ongoing series: (no. 1, saltwater // no. 2, avian)

The air smelled of burning and dense tendrils of silver grey smoke sat heavily within the clearing. Usually a comforting scent, it reminded Osiria of campfires and sleeping under the stars, she instead felt her stomach turn over at the sight of the goddess Umberlee’s charred temple. Ash fell and settled around her like dirty snow.

Once ashore, and rid of the Kenku, Hephaestus had used his influence as fledgling first mate of the Kraken’s Tooth to inquire about the location of Osiria’s missing blood hawk companion, Archimedes. A traveling beastmaster informed him that he’d seen a band of half-elf gypsies attempting to sell a blood hawk earlier that week — they’d had poor control of the animal and their struggle had drawn his attention. Osiria, not one to trust easily, was thankful and could acknowledge that Heph was attempting to endear himself to her. He was somewhat successful.

Within an hour, she’d tracked the roving, gypsy caravans to this spot — the still smoldering temple. Obviously, the nomads intended to loot anything of value and disappear, with Archimedes in tow. “Not going to happen,” Osiria murmured, striding forward. Duma and Heph trailed behind her as she threw the coverings off each caravan.

Archimedes was inside the third caravan she uncovered. He was trussed and hooded like some common fowl. Osiria grimaced at this careless treatment. The creature was obviously distressed — the cage was filled with molted vermillion feathers and she noted a few bald spots on his shoulders.

“Oh, my darling. Let me set you free,” she whispered.

Osiria reached through the bars; viridescent light spilled out of her fingers and coated Archimedes in an aura the color of verdant leaves.

She intended to use their magical link to question him about the potential for an escape, but, at the moment of contact, Archimedes cried out, “Behind you! Look behind you!” And Osiria turned to find herself staring down a crossbow.

The outstretched arm holding said bow was clad in the jolly colors of a bard and, as Osiria’s eyes traveled, the woman attached to the arm clearly favored bardic finery — tassels and small bells adorned her traveling tunic. Her dark hair was pushed back behind a pair of dully pointed ears — not quite elven. Half-elf, then, Osiria decided.

“Raise your arms and back away slowly. No one touches my things!”

“Your things? This hawk is hardly a ‘thing’ and, even less, belonging to you. He’s my companion, and you will release him at once,” Osiria commanded.

The bard did not move.

“You need proof? Archimedes, please indicate our bond with three short calls,” she requested.

“She isn’t going to believe you,” he warned.

“Just do it.”

“Let me scratch her eyes out instead.”

“You’re hardly in the position to be making threats,” Osiria countered.

Archimedes complied with the request, albeit without much enthusiasm.

After the shrill cries of the hawk echoed through the clearing, a tense silence settled like a poisonous second skin. Everyone was on edge. Osiria ran her tongue along the back of her teeth; she could sense Duma twitching the strings of his drawn bow behind her, anxious to end this without time consuming diplomacy.

“You’re a Wood Elf. I know your tricks with animals! You’re a discriminating folk, you’ve never treated us with any respect,” the bard levelled her baseless accusations without disarming the crossbow.

“I travel with a half-elf,” she indicated Heph. “And I harbor no ill will against your kind, though you in particular are getting a little tiresome. The bond I share with my hawk is no trick, I assure you. Here, let me show you his sister, she waits in the trees. You will easily discern the family resemblance, I think.”

Osiria whistled a melody that rose above those on the ground and traveled, like a whisper, into the trees. In a moment, the air shifted as another, smaller crimson hawk propelled her body into view. Osiria smiled at Artemis’ approach. In the next moment, the obnoxious bard shifted the aim of her crossbow and took a spontaneous shot at the bird.

Osiria cried out in alarm, but Artemis daintily dodged the arrow before alighting on Archimedes’ cage where the two called to one another excitedly.

“That’s it,” Osiria snarled, as she drew the curved dagger at her waist and lunged forward.