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Braving the Barrow-Downs

Tags: Caoimhe,  Brev

Short Summary: A curious couple visit the Barrow-Downs to test the truth in the rumours about scattered treasure
(Archive: a fortnight old now, but thought I'd add it for posterity)

Date (real-life): 2010-07-22
Scene Location: East Road - By the Barrow Downs
Date (in-game): June 3050
Time of Day: Late afternoon
Weather: Clear
East Road - By the Barrow Downs

Walking along the east road, you come to a portion that passes north of the mysterious, dark and foreboding Barrow downs. Stories abound about the strange things that have been witnessed here in the past. Stories of spirits and ghosts haunting the hills that lie to the south. An owl hoots in the distance... to-whit.... to-whooooo!

Obvious exits:
South, East, and West

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                      Dunland Time and Weather Forecast
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Real Time is:       Thu Jul 22 14:51:00 2010
IC weather is:      Wind:  - Clouds: sparse
IC Moon is:         Last quarter
IC time is:         Afternoon/evening
IC date is:         Hevensday, Day 29 of June in the year 3050.

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[Caoimhe(#31517)] It's another hot, relentless summer's day, the road baking the earth that lies still under a blazing sun. Trudging along, searching for a sign of their quarry, a golden-haired girl is shedding clothing layer by layer to accomodate the heat. At last, hills rise before them to the south, verdant and casting long shadows, and it gives renewed purpose to Caoimhe's steps. She holds fast to the hand of her companion, sweaty palms slipping against each other, while her other hand rests carefully on her beautiful longsword that taps lightly against her thigh with each step.

As the rare darkness and relative shade of these hills overtakes the pair, Caoimhe casts her gaze about for the beginning of the Barrow downs eagerly. "They say it's rotten haunted, these lands. Not five months ago was it that some poor sap lost his mind here...in the middle of a heist, no less. Aunt 'Annve says the man left all his loot on the ground and came back, empty-handed and stark-raving like he'd want to bark at the moon," the girl drawls, sounding bored by all this. "Wonder why it is -I've- never seen a ghost out here, then." The scenery might not animate her face, but casting a grin in Brev's direction brings out something more lively in her gaze.

Brev, by contrast, is tense, his shoulders stiffened. Caoimhe has his right hand; the fingers are working a little more now though any movement is clumsy. His left, weaker or no, caresses a tall hunting spear. He's trying to hide any unease; looking to his companion he queries with a twitch of the lips, "Going to take another layer off? It'd be quite a sight for any passing traveller."

At the other subject though, all mirth fades. "Because most men round here aren't strong enough to come back as ghosts," he says maliciously, then shrugs. "I don't know. I've never seen the dead walk, though the tales say they do. But there are other things. Elves, and creatures of darkness. My folk don't ... go here." He scowls uncomfortably at the deepening shadows along the range of hills, then tries to distract attention from himself by asking, "Who's this aunt Annie anyway?"

[Caoimhe(#31517)] As though she senses his tension, Caoimhe's fingers move to make a little lover's caress across Brev's palm, a gesture likely performed before now, in a more private place. Brev may be hiding his unease quite well, but Caoimhe's sharp eyes, like her mother's, miss very little. "Tonight," she whispers in a serious reply to his question that's nothing short of sultry. "Besides," she grins now, "Even if I took everything off, it'd take a brave man to look..if he knew what I'd do to his eyes after." Then she adds a little more tenderly, "It's alright. Nothing's out here that you can't gut on the end of your spear." Her fingers intertwine with his again.

Caoimhe shrugs her shoulders too, a mirror of Brev's gesture. "You're probably right; you're the first strong man I've ever met here." She yawns as she peers into a deep hollow that, somehow, doesn't seem to be receiving the late afternoon light. "My mom- she didn't like ghosts either. I suppose I wouldn't..if they existed," she adds pointedly. Talk of Elves, it seems, will wait for another time, as Caoimhe pretends not to have heard the word. "Oh, sorry, it's not Annie..it's 'annve. Like you-ahn-vee." The girl sounds it out in perfect time with the sword smacking against her leg as they walk. "Tall lady. Always wears a cloak, even when it's hot out. Black hair up in knots. Lots of piercings and tattoos..she's got a little totem under her lip, just there.." Caoimhe touches the spot on her own face, unmarred, with her free hand. "Surely you've seen her in town doing our shopping at the market?" Hazel eyes slide up to meet Brev's curiously.

Brev forces a smile at those first words. "Does that make me a brave man? There's a first time for everything." He snorts in derision. His own fingers receive Caoimhe's clumsily, but he leans his shoulder into hers as though by accident and trails a couple of kisses across her smooth brow beneath the golden tresses. Somehow they seem muted - it is as if this place sucks the brightness of this scorching summer day away.

"Can't say I've ever seen eye to eye with Muirgheal," his features grow sombre again, "but maybe on this she was right. 'Ghosts' of fat little rabbit-men are one thing, but there are spirits out there with power to force men to their will. Blackness clothed in blackness ..."

The words, and the foreboding trail off into silence as Caoimhe pronounces that name more carefully. Brev's eyes widen instantly, and his lips shape the name again in silence. He lets Caoimhe say her piece and then abruptly breaks into ragged laughter. "/She's/ your aunt? Uannve the Man-slayer. Kiern, you do know how to stitch a fellow up. Met her before, figured we were at truce if I didn't touch what was hers or she mine. But when she hears that I- that we-" He shakes his head helplessly, the self-mocking laughter caught and echoed back strangely by the shadowed hills.

[Caoimhe(#31517)] Caoimhe closes her eyes as Brev leans in to bestow those kisses, walking blindly for a moment, so that the kisses are all she knows, and when she looks upon the shadowed ground again, the girl seems at peace in a way she wasn't just seconds before. "Brev, love, you have to believe in a thing to give it power. If a shadow shaped like a man can frighten you, you're only giving it power. You're better than anything that might be out here. Nothing like that could challenge -my- will." It's then that Caoimhe blanches, realizing the ease with which she spoke a word that she has never uttered, and hoping that perhaps it missed the man whose hand she holds altogether. She says nothing more of it, continuing on in silence for a time, while the sinking sun transmutes the sky from a blue thing to a golden one.

The Barrows must be near; the scent of earth is sharper, and the shadows cooler, the further south they tread. An owl calls out its early wakefulness. At last, Caoimhe allows herself to grin over Brev's words about Uannve. "Man-slayer?" she pipes up, eyes looking mirthful and interested. "Who'd Aunt 'annve ever kill? Besides, I'm not -hers-. I told you, I am my own. Or now, I suppose, I am yours." She looks up at him, and though it's his face she studies, she spies the waking owl on a tree-branch beyond.

Does Brev notice that little slip of the tongue? He says nothing of it, and if his fingers shift slightly as though trying to tighten, it's likely only the rough patch of ground they are walking over.

The other topic is not glossed over. "You're not 'mine'," he insists vehemently, scowling, the words loud enough and harsh enough that the owl spreads its wings and takes flight behind them. He twitches uneasily, spear-grip shifting a little as though expecting a response to that avian alarm. "You're not some piece of baggage to shift, or a scrap to be fought over. You're yourself. A tawny-eyed wildcat that noone can tame ..." He shakes his head abruptly, as though only now realizing that he's given voice to thought. "Uannve now - lets see. Wasn't it some Stag captain? Heard she cut off his balls and ate them for breakfast, then buried the rest for laters. Course," his mouth twitches ever so slightly, "it could have just been plain old murder. But you must admit the other has a good ring to it."

Words fade to silence as he surveys the downs ahead and queries simply, "Which way now?" He won't admit fear if Caoimhe won't ...

[Caoimhe(#31517)] There's likely no way that Caoimhe will consciously bring the word to the tip of her tongue again, but feeling the shift of Brev's fingers in some small way around hers causes the girl to give his hand a slight squeeze. She no longer looks nervous, but rather relaxed and bored as she did before. That is, of course, until Brev addresses what she just said; the harshness of his reply raising both her golden brows in one quick motion. "I'm glad you don't think I'm scraps," Caoimhe says, a little teasing to the words, as though she's trying to cajole Brev into smiling. Her eyes, however, convey the more solemn understanding that's just passed between them. "So I'm not yours. And I'm certainly not tame- not by Bree's standards. But I-" and there, once again, the girl must halt. What's unsaid, clearly, she wants badly to say, so much that she has to press her lips together and kick very hard at a small stone in her path until it skitters off into the dark brush.

The only distraction from Caoimhe nearly giving her passionate declaration somehow comes in the form of Uannve. "My aunt did what?" the girl exclaims, whistling her amazement and shaking her head. She grins and repeats slowly, "Plain..old..murder.." Clearly, Uannve will be getting a mouthful the next time that the Wildcat is lurking around her home in Archet.

And in answer to the last, Caoimhe points the way, ever south. "Just up ahead." There seems to be some sort of clearing, dry grass stretching out before the barrows begin properly.

Brev watches the stone skitter, and perhaps assumes its passage is related to the subject of Uannve, for his lips twitch. "You sound disappointed it might just be simple murder. Couldn't comment, myself, wasn't there to see her do it. Men feared her, though. Don't think she likes them much. So when she finds that you're trying to tame one-"

He flashes Caoimhe a smile, then urges her, "Come on, then. If I'm to be gutted by your aunt in the near future I want to get a good night in first." And the hand holding hers tugs her forward into the clearing.

[Caoimhe(#31517)] "No, Aunt 'annve doesn't like men. I think she..loved my mom. Think she still does, at that.." Caoimhe says, mulling this over with Brev as they follow the faintly worn path to its end, and the Barrows unfold before them.

The sight of it silences her. The dried grass is littered with a collection of things: sun-bleached bones, the debris of time, and..there, glittering among the bones and rocks, are the trinkets that prove Caoimhe's tale of a robbery gone wrong to be true: there are a few rounds of gold, and pieces of silver, no paltry copper coins to be seen. There are a few other treasures too, spread across the grass that leads up to the barrows themselves. There's a goblet that's whole, and one that's cracked in half, but the thing that catches Caoimhe's eyes at once is a tarnished tiara. "You, ah, got a bag ready, right?" she asks softly, and her voice sounds strange to her ears; the air here is different, charged with something foreign and new.

Brev makes no comment to the first remark - what is there to be said? At the sight that lies up ahead, his feet halt involuntarily and he stares at the pale earth. It is the bones that catch /his/ eye, and his hand jerks within Caoimhe's as though trying to make a gesture of warding he hadn't even realized he knew. "Caoimhe," he begins uneasily, struggling for words. "Someone /died/ for this. Can't have been killed by a companion, they'd not have left the spoils." He shakes his head uneasily. "'Sides," his tone is forced, "looks like its all rubbish. Trinkets." He stares at the jewels with all the admiration one might reserve for a piece of filth.

[Caoimhe(#31517)] The half-light that's left from the sun is slowly fading, and the area around the barrow downs seems prematurely dusky. "Rubbish?" Caoimhe echoes, looking up at Brev with a most baffled expression. She kicks at something by her foot- the hilt of a ruby-studded dagger that is likely beautiful beneath a layer of grime. "What about it is rubbish, Brev?" she snaps, suddenly on edge- her anger isn't at her lover, but rather at some nagging intuition that they should leave when her sole desire is to start picking up the treasure. "Grab this dagger, and let's get all the money we can spot.." But before Caoimhe's slightly shaky hand ever touches a coin, she grabs for the crusty tiara and stuffs it into the pocket of her tunic, where it bulges and fits uncomfortably. Still, her uneasy feeling churns her stomach, and at last she grudgingly adds, "I wouldn't, uh, go to close to the barrows. Just in case you were right. Don't want anything to happen to your silly head."

"Rubbish," Brev repeats, squinting through the dimness - wasn't the sun shining just a little earlier? The fading light preys on the nerves. "Can't eat it, can't fight with-" He stops abruptly as Caoimhe's foot kicks at what's clearly a dagger-hilt. He still has his spear and is not about to relinquish it; however, as Caoimhe releases his hand to lift the tiara he bends to tug awkwardly at the dagger-hilt. It jerks free of its earthen grave easily, despite the clumsiness of his fingers. "Still got a blade on it," he remarks wonderingly. "Might be able to work up a decent edge on it ..." And it is stuck through his belt.

At the final words he nods; his cheek has started twitching. So much for hiding unspoken fears ... "For Kiern's sake, don't go looking," he begs Caoimhe, his voice oddly tight. "If it's not within arms reach, leave it." He reaches his right hand back out to the girl as though to keep her at his side.

[Caoimhe(#31517)] Two pieces of silver disappear within Caoimhe's pocket, rattling against the tiara on their way down. She starts to take a step toward where the gold lays, but the odd note in Brev's voice stops her, as she cares far more for him than the riches that await them just a few steps ahead.

Darkness falls too quickly here, or has something blotted out the last of the sun? Caoimhe takes Brev's hand again, lacing her fingers through his. "Hey..Brev..? Do you think we could keep it just between us if we..ran back into the woods about now? We've got a king's ransom here already..let's just leave the rest?" Her hazel eyes, usually bored or laughing, are filled with undisguised trepidation. She edges closer to Brev, until the warmth of her body merges with his, and she seems tensed, ready to run if Brev has gotten all that he can take.

Brev's stiff fingers tighten against Caoimhe's as hard as he can manage, for all that it sends pain lancing up his arm. "I think," his voice is hoarse, "we've got plenty. There's treasures more important than bloody jewels." And he jerks at the girl's arm as though to urge her away. "Road was back that way," he mutters, his gaze pleading.

He has not stooped to pick up any more coins. If some were lifted with the dagger, they are stuffed precariously in his belt, and forgotten already.

[Caoimhe(#31517)] When her arm is jerked, Caoimhe doesn't quite stumble, but rather lurches into an awkward run and silently urges Brev to follow suit. She makes a break for the road, holding fast to Brev, and certainly she imagines the fingers that tug roughly at her clothing, pulling her back toward the barrows, and the unfriendly voices whispering a cacophony to her ears. Yet by the time they've gotten close enough to see the road, there's no mistaking that Caoimhe's tiara was lost somewhere back along the way. It causes her to falter for a step or two, and her face is ashen. Naturally, it is in this moment that when she exhales, stumbling and grabbing onto Brev's clothing for support, "I love you," are the words she finds to say.

Brev holds tight to Caoimhe, matching her step for step, and his cheek is twitching freely. What he believes lies behind them it's hard to say; but within him is stirring an unpleasant memory of a rider, and a voice, and a rising tide of blackness that threatens to drown the stars - stars? Somehow it's lighter here, the grey of dusk not yet complete.

When Caoimhe stumbles Brev whirls, his spear ready to menace whatever unknown threatens her. Her words take him completely by surprise. His amber eyes widen, and he opens dry lips. "Caoimhe-" Whatever else he might have said is blown from his mouth by the gust of wind that comes from the south, cold and hostile and smelling unpleasantly of death and decay. "Don't stop running yet," he urges, turning back toward the road and trying to nudge Caoimhe that way with the sheer pressure of his body.

[Caoimhe(#31517)] "Yes?" Caoimhe asks hastily in return, realizing the full meaning of what she just said, even here, hunted by unknown danger. The smell of death- too pungent to be easily forgotten- is then blown over them in the wind, unnaturally cold, and the girl understands that now isn't the time yet for an answer from Brev. She stumbles again, but this time towards the road. One silver she frees from her pocket, throwing it back over her shoulder and into the wind. It falls into the brush for some unlucky traveler to find someday. She hurries forward with Brev, and doesn't stop even once the hard-packed road is firmly beneath their feet again, instead stretching out her long legs to let them eat up the distance and get them past the shadow of the southern hills, racing north toward Bree. After a time, however, she must slow, and gasp for breath. "I'll ditch the other silvers outside Bree," she promises, to Brev and the wind both, although what blows around them now is milder, and smells of the earth and the summer night.

Brev does not turn his head to see the result of Caoimhe's peace-offering; like her he is running, keeping her body close so that each jarring step is shared. When Caoimhe slows he automatically releases her hand so he can slide an arm about her shoulders for support, drawing her to him as she regains her breath. Something hard-edged and unfriendly is between them - he looks down and sees the dagger he'd so coveted. He frowns, hesitating, and murmurs, "Should I?" The wind is pleasanter now, after all, and the sense of danger fading. What's the harm in keeping it, one single little knife?

Then he shrugs, reaches his stiff right hand down to close about the dagger-hilt and hurls it into the bushes, his gaze marking the place where it lands quivering. "You're more important than some bloody dagger. Likely it was rusted through anyway."

Date added: 2010-08-14 18:11:04    Hits: 93
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