The peace that formerly reigned in Terra Nova has eroded, now little more than a memory. War ravages the continent. Disputes divide kingdoms; ideals divide families. The quest for power consumes absolutely and indiscriminately. None are immune to its allure.
Who will rise and who will fall? Only time—and ambition—will tell.
New gifted family of Lorendale added to the Families of Importance, the Decarlos!
At the beginning of February 2022 the site will experience a 5 year time jump! The IC year will jump from 822 to 827! This gives us about 8 months to prepare our characters for that jump. We plan to host very intentional planning sessions to help everyone get their plots and characters ready for this! As of this moment, one thing you should all start considering is making sure the threads your characters are in are furthering your character's stories.
Etta knew Jaskier a little, but more by reputation than anything else...he'd been a well-liked child in Kushti before his Naming, and there were many in her caravan who spoke fondly of him and remained friends, though he had long ago joined the Adoi before she came to Kushti. She knew enough to know that he was generally a smiling, personable sort of young man; and she could see plainly in his face that the attack had taken its toll...dark circles under his eyes, a pinched, nervous sort of way of holding his mouth, and a hollow pain to his look that was more worrying than everything else combined. It was enough to stop Etta from passing by on her way back to her wagon, seeing him standing by himself, seeming to stare at nothing.
She laid a hand lightly on his arm, not wanting to startle him if she could help it.
"Jaskier?" she said, speaking clearly and calmly as she would to someone she was shaking gently awake. "My name is Etta. I'm a healer. Is there anything you need?"
Jaskier and Clementine were distraught. Kezia and Raiden were gone, taken from them and into Coheed. And they hadn't been there to help, to maybe stop it from happening. They had left to try to get help from Arynn Frey but that had even turned out to be a waste of time which made Jaskier feel even worse for leaving. They should have rushed straight to the border to help her. He should have never left her. He should have never agreed to be the Ambassador so he could have stayed with her all the time like they used to.
Now they were gone and Jaskier was terrified he'd never see his Kezia again. What if they couldn't get her back? What if her captors killed her...or worse?
Clementine gave him the heads up that someone was approached him so he wasn't surprised when a hand touched his arm. He blinked a few times, his eyes coming into focus and turned to look at Etta. He had passed through all of the caravans in his time as Ambassador and she looked a little familiar, her name sounded familiar, but he wasn't sure if they had actually met before.
"I wasn't part of the battle, I'm not hurt," he replied, a little confused by the question as he was only thinking about healing in the sense of physical wounds.
"Battle or not, everybody is coping with all this in different ways," she said. And some were not coping well. "You looked...forgive me for prying, but do you remember when you last ate something? When you last slept?"
Ambassadors must be busy, now, too, she realized. They had to be reaching out to any allies or potential allies they could to try to withstand the threat of Coheed, to do whatever they could to make sure nothing like that could ever happen again. And even if Jaskier hadn't seen the slaughter, there was plenty of horror in the aftermath to contend with. So many faces were missing, so many places empty where they used to be filled with the people who belonged there.
The space between his brows crinkled at the question, frowning. He rubbed his hand against the back of his hair, making it look even more messy than it likely already did. "Um..." he tried to remember. He felt like he had been walking in a haze since finding out about Kezia. He really should be more present, more active in the efforts to try to find her. He just felt so helpless and lost.
Clementine was the voice of reason here, she had always been more the level-headed of the two anyway. She addressed Sage, the cougar that was with Etta. "Sleep has been only a few minutes at a time since we met up with the caravans. He hasn't eaten since yesterday afternoon." She was sure that the other dyr would relay the message to Etta.
Jaskier seemed even more out of it than Etta might have reasonably expected, but she was quickly learning not to be surprised by anything. This whole situation was affecting everybody in different ways, at different times. As the young man struggled to find a response to her questions, Sage held the gaze of the fox at his feet for a long moment before turning her head to Etta.
Etta was already nodding.
“Alright, why don’t we find you someplace quiet to sit down, get something in your stomach. Do you eat meat?”
Sometimes having a dyr made people re-think their dietary choices, even if the magical beasts were, in many ways, far beyond the capabilities of regular creatures raised as livestock or hunted as prey.
Jaskier was too out of it to try to protest. Though he wasn't the sort of man to protest anyway. He was very much the kind of person to just go with the flow and stay away from conflict, even if the 'conflict' was a minor as turning down a request to be fed.
He nodded to Etta. "Ya, ok. I do." He didn't have any issues with eating meat. There was something so powerful different between a dyr and a regular animal that Jaskier had never once considered it weird to eat meat. He might feel differently if he ever was separated from Clementine like Raiden and Kezia had been separated. He didn't know the details of that but Danior had hinted at it.
Jaskier looked to actually meet Etta's gaze and there was sadness in his eyes but also gratefulness for her help.
He's lost someone. It wasn't an uncommon look to see on people's faces, just now, but there was something about Jaskier that seemed so completely lost, so adrift from everyone around him, that it made Etta wonder. Where were his friends, his family? Sometimes people did want to hide away and grieve in solitude, but Jaskier wasn't fighting her suggestions, or telling her to piss off and leave him alone. (Which some people had, and which boundaries she respected and did not at all take personally.)
Etta put a hand under his arm to guide his steps, not quite fully supporting him, but sturdy enough to be reliable and started to steer him towards the group of wagons she knew best, where she knew Ina would be busy cooking for anybody who needed it. Already, she could smell warm bread on the air, and took them in that direction.
"I won't make you talk about anything you don't want to talk about," she told him as they walked. "...but if you want or need to...it may help. Even just a little."
Jaskier didn't fight her in the least, he let her guide him to wherever she wanted to take him. Clementine padded along at his heels and kept an eye on Sage, she was curious about the other dyr. Jaskier had mostly been keeping all his thoughts and feelings to himself but as Etta gave him 'permission' to speak it opened up the flood gates for him. What had been a dazed expression in his eyes suddenly filled with anguish and he looked at Etta as they walked.
"The girl and her dyr that were taken, Kezia and Raiden... she's my... best friend." She was far more than that to Jaskier. He was head over heels in love with the girl and had been for years, though she seemingly had no idea. She was everything to him. "I don't know what to do. I'm so scared." Clementine bumped her body against Jaskier's leg and spoke comforting words to his mind. She was very worried too.
Etta was quiet for a moment as she understood what he was saying, but her steps did not falter, and she took the time to press her other hand over his arm as they walked, chafing it lightly.
"Of course," she said. "I'm so sorry. It's such an awful thing..."
She had tried not to think about it. To wonder what terrible things Coheed had in store for those that had been taken, instead of killed. Recoiled at the idea that such brutal murder might have been the merciful alternative to whatever befell Kezia and Raiden, now.
"I know my brother Arlo is eager to help recover them," she told Jaskier, wanting to offer what hope she could. "And I'm sure there are others. There must be a way to get them back."
Etta staunchly refused to admit the idea that Coheed might have done anything to the dyr. They were monstrous enough for anything, true; but the thought was so horrific beyond every other horror she imagined them capable of perpetrating that she would not allow it to take root in any of her fretting.
"I think the best thing anybody can do right now is to be honest," she told him. "Everyone needs to acknowledge their fears, to share them with others. To stay silent is to feel alone, and our strength has always been in our community."
Jaskier nodded when she mentioned Arlo, he knew the man was interested in acting as well. He imagined that the two of them might work together to bring her back, even if no one else joined them. At least he hoped he might have the man on his side. At this point he was ready to dive head first into Coheed to go after Kezia, though he knew it might not be the smartest option.
"That's a wise thought," he replied to her, she was probably right. Their community could make them stronger though that was a challenge sometimes for Dresmondi who valued freedom above all else. They had their caravans but Dresmondi were strong believers in individuals.
"Arlo is your brother?" he asked, the fact finally registering in his brain after a moment.
"He is," she said. "Some people don't see it, I know," she added. "We're rather different, in some ways." But there was something of pinched worry in her look as she said it. Every minute she was fearful of hearing that Arlo had taken off in some reckless bid to try to 'fix' what he thought he'd broken, plunging headlong into Coheed territory on what would amount to a suicide mission. She couldn't help feeling she'd regret making Sage remove the vines tangled around his feet...but she knew she couldn't have kept him there, forever, either.
"But he'll do whatever it takes, if it will help bring her back to us," she told Jaskier.
There was a growing interest in Jaskier's expression when she spoke of Arlo and his desire to do whatever he could to bring Kezia back. He was already thinking of a plan in his mind. If Arlo really did go then Jaskier fully intended to go with him. He hadn't been there when Kezia was taken. He couldn't sit back again while other people went to rescue her. In spite of his low combat skills, he had to go after her.
“I never knew Kezia,” said Etta as they walked. “Why don’t you tell me something about her?”
Part of her did want to know who it was that was going to draw her brother into danger. Of course Arlo would go, would take the risk for anybody he felt responsible for, but Etta still wanted to have an idea of what he might find if—when—he got to Coheed and rescued her.
“Is there something particular about her that made Coheed take her prisoner?” she asked, not sure if Jaskier even knew the answer to that. Coheed’s motives were a muddle of chaotic cruelty, as far as she could tell. “I mean, if they took her alive, they’ll want to keep her alive, won’t they?”
Not that living as a prisoner of Coheed was a bowl of cherries, but where there was life, there had to be hope that they could bring her back to her own people, and the friends who missed her.
Jaskier, as Ambassador, knew more people than the average Dresmondi. He traveled constantly with The One between caravans so he met a lot of people. It was no surprise at all to him that Etta wouldn't know Kezia. They had no reason to know each other.
"She is a teacher in the Adoi caravan. Training children who first enter the caravan in how to connect with and learn to help their dyrs use their magic. She's feisty and loving and loyal...and beautiful." It wouldn't be hard to see the affection that Jaskier held for her. "I believe it was simply that she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I pray that the fact that the took her alive means she is not already lost to m-, to us," he corrected himself. "But Coheed are vicious and cruel. If she is alive I only hope that death wouldn't have been the better option for her." He was terrified he would find her terribly tortured, begging for death to free herself from the pain.
Etta was prepared to hear some praise of Kezia from her friend, but the torrent that burst out of Jaskier first surprised and then softened her. Not that she had been hard, before, but it was evident at once that his feelings ran far deeper than friendship.
“She sounds like a wonderful person,” she said. “Her spirit and cleverness are both excellent points in her favour as she must endure the...hospitality that Coheed offers.”
It was as kind a name as she could give it, but Etta couldn’t help the sarcastic tinge to the word. Still, she patted Jaskier lightly on one shoulder as she led him to a quiet place where there were some seats set around a low-burning campfire, close to a wagon where people were dishing out bowls and mugs of hot food and drink.
“She must draw strength from thinking of how much you care for her, and know that her loyalty is returned tenfold by those who will not abandon her.”