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Nov. 3rd, 2008 07:25 pm
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Karrah Chapter 4: Chapter Word Count: 1584

Chapter 4

Karrah shrugged her pack more firmly onto her shoulders as she stepped out of the gates to the field. She didn’t even spare a glance back; she was free of her training, nothing in the town mattered anymore.

Taking a breath as cool air blew on her face, she stepped down from the stone road that separated Qeynos from the rest of the continent. Walking down the dirt path, sandals flapping lightly against her heels, she looked around, realizing that this would be the first time she will have set foot outside the city walls, and intended to savor this moment. The sky was perfect clear, exhausted from rain for once. Gnoll pups flattened their ears and growled as she passed. A light breeze continued to blow, making her long brown hair dance behind her. She closed her eyes as she walked, for once at a sort of calm. She was on her way to Freeport at last. She only hoped that the answers really were there.

She paused, opening her eyes as she heard faint music in the distance. Not too far away, and in the direction she was already heading. She continued, keeping watch for the source of the music, curious as it grew louder. Gradually a few trees dotted the otherwise bare plains, and under a tall withering tree she finally saw them;

Bards. A trio of three bards was settled there, playing a slow, catchy jig. One girl crouched under the tree with a lute, plucking the harmonies of the tune out while the sole boy in the band played the melody on recorder and the last girl danced around the tree, keeping time on a tambourine. Karrah stopped, standing a few paces away and watching. A tiny, unnoticeable smile twitched at the corner of her mouth as she listened. Finally a real chance to watch a performance. The trio even smiled as they noticed her, not missing a beat in their song, not even playing it up for their newfound audience.

“You there!”

They stopped abruptly, looking up in shock as two armored guards from the city suddenly ran toward them.

“Get out of here, you ruddy urchins!”

Karrah was shoved roughly aside as the two guards charged, drawing their weapons on the bards, who promptly scattered. The two bardesses ran ahead of the lone boy, who stumbled over his escape and fell victim to the pursuers. Not even bothering with their swords, the guards instead turned to physical violence; kicking him mercilessly as he screamed, trying to crawl away in vain as they grabbed the collar of his tunic and continued to beat him.

Karrah felt her face burn as she watched. Her hands clenched into fists, she gritted her teeth, and in half a thought she stepped out of her sandals and paced angrily toward the scene.

In complete silence she reached the two guards, delivering simultaneous karate chops to their necks, sending them both to the ground. One was not down for the count however, and he stood, lunging at her. She side-stepped slightly, then turned her body enough to slam her knee into his stomach. She winced as the chain male armor her opponent wore retaliated, but the hit was enough to finally knock him unconscious. Letting him drop to the ground she turned to kick the second guard, who was still on the ground reaching for his sword, under the chin.

She ran a hand through her bangs, not a trace of sweat on her, and went to the bard still on the ground.

“Are you ok?” she asked, offering a hand. He pushed himself onto his hands and knees shakily, shaking his head clear, auburn hair frizzing as he did.

“Yeah, ‘malroyt.”

Karrah blinked. She had never heard someone talk like that before.

“Thanks.” he continued, taking her hand and pulling himself up, wincing at his sore ribs and adjusting his brown leather tunic. He looked at the too unconscious guards and whistled.

“Bloymey. You beat ‘em up royt good. You one a’them monks?”

“….I am.”

“Wow. Bet you a valuable one in ye guild.”

Now that the moment had passed, Karrah couldn’t really remember why she had just done what she did. She just felt so angry watching how the guards were treating him. Normally she wouldn’t care except to curse the vermin of the human race. Even bards she wished to only appreciate them from a distance. So why did she just knock out two guards for someone she never met?

She decided not to question it further, returning to the path and stepping back into her sandals.

“Say,” the bard behind her said, striding alongside her, “Now that ye’ve gone an’ saved me loyf, I’d loyk t’know ye name. Whot is it, if I may ask?”

She didn’t know how obviously she winced. The thought of voicing the name the guild gave her to a total stranger made her stomach hurt.

“…Karrah,” she answered, trying not to clench her teeth.

“Karrah, eh? A pretty name fo’ a pretty lady. I’m Royda. S’noyce t’meet ya.”

Royda? What kind of a name was that? She didn’t answer his greeting, already not wishing to have this conversation. She kept walking, quickening her pace a little. He hurried alongside her, wind instruments on his belt giving percussion to his walk.

“Yo’r in quite a ‘urry ain’t ya. Where ye off to?”

“Freeport.” she answered bluntly, hoping he would take a hint from her tone. He raised an eyebrow at her answer.

“Freepo’t? Whut’ye goin’ there fo?” he sidestepped to face her from the front, scanning her up and down.

“On foot even!” she wasn’t sure if his tone was impressed or implying insanity, “It’ll take days jus’ t’get across th’Karanas!” he snorted, “An’ th’city itself…take it from me Miss Karrah…’tain’t much better’n ‘ere.”

She whipped around, irritated.

“If you don’t mind, Royda,--”

“Royda.” he said, as though correcting her.


“Royda. Loyk ‘ow you royd a ‘orse.”

“…Ryder.” she corrected herself, once again scoffing that ridiculous accent, “Why I am going to Freeport is a personal matter and none of your concern.”

Ryder’s hands raised defensively.

“Royt, royt, sorry.” he chuckled sheepishly, scratching one ear, “I loyk t’ear people’s stories ‘round ‘ere. ‘Elps wit’ me music. I guess I can get a little carried away sometoymes. I do apologoyz.”

Thanking that that was the end of the conversation, Karrah continued on. However Ryder continued to follow, matching her pace step for step. He glanced over at her, looking her over again, then raised an eyebrow and pointed.

“Whot ‘appened there?”

Karrah froze, heat rising to her face as she realized immediately exactly where he was pointing.

“I-it’s nothing.” she answered bluntly, turning her head away. But as she did he followed, coming close to her and keeping her looking at him. Every urge in her being screamed to look away, to push him away, to hit him, to do something. But she stayed frozen, closing her eyes as he lifted his hand to her. Gentle fingers barely touched her skin as he brushed her bangs back, tucking the hair behind her ear as he looked at her scar. When she opened her eyes again, a face of concern looked right back at her.

“Bloymey,” he said softly, “Looks loyk you took a bad ‘it. Does it ‘urt?”

She didn’t answer, almost humiliated at the situation.

“Whot ‘appened? ‘Ow’d you get it?”

Still no answer. Slowly his concern turned into a smile.

“Ah, nevermoynd. I can see ye don’t wanna tell me. Not me business, royt?”

He took a few steps back, giving her space and ability to force her bangs to hide the wound on her forehead again. Spinning on his heel he started to walk away, taking a few steps before looking back at her over his shoulder, one hand on his hip.

“Ye really are a gal ‘oo knows ‘er own space. I admoyr that.” His smile never seemed to leave his face, and his amber eyes glistened a little when they caught the light.

Finally Karrah forced her legs to move, turning and walking away.

“Don’t follow me anymore.”

She took several long strides, intent on going her way alone. There was no answer behind her and no rattling of instruments following her. Perhaps he had finally left her alone.

But then…

“Would ye loyk some ‘elp?”

She stopped again, turning around and raising an eyebrow.


“Getting’ t’Freepo’t. Me an th’gals know a shortcut.” he gestured up the hill, “I’m sho’ they won’t moynd anothuh gal in the group.”

“But you just said that--”

“Ah, ‘salroyt. We could use a trip to th’guild ‘all there. An we could all use a gig, ‘sbetter th’n nothing’. They don’t exactly loyk us ‘ere.”

He smiled, waiting for an answer. She pondered for a while. Could she trust him? Did she want to put up with him?

She stared at him as he smiled, his eyes seeming to be as sincere as his voice behind the accent. He extended a hand to her, welcoming. She looked down the path she had been following, then to him, down the path again, and finally stepped toward him, silently accepting the offer.

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