Difference between revisions of "User:Arrow Quivershaft/Meeting Dawn"

From Shifti
Jump to: navigation, search
m (add categories, universe and title tags)
m (add a defaultsort)
Line 1: Line 1:
{{Universe|3P}}{{title}}A few weeks later, I was on my first realmwalking expedition.  It was a lightly forested island, just north of Crete.  I was acting as assistant to Gerry for this run, and he’d taken the party off to do some caving in a local area.  A few of them were after some purported magical item.  Gerry didn’t seem like he figured they’d find it, at least to me, but as long as we got paid, it was their money.
+
{{DEFAULTSORT:Meeting Dawn}}{{Universe|3P}}{{title}}A few weeks later, I was on my first realmwalking expedition.  It was a lightly forested island, just north of Crete.  I was acting as assistant to Gerry for this run, and he’d taken the party off to do some caving in a local area.  A few of them were after some purported magical item.  Gerry didn’t seem like he figured they’d find it, at least to me, but as long as we got paid, it was their money.
  
 
That said, between being a rookie and the fact I was still unmarked, I was left tending the camp.  It was a bit windy out, but we were leeward so I was fine.  They hadn’t left me alone, there was a harpy they’d left behind who was part of the party, nominally, but wasn’t keen on the caving.  They’d assured me I was safe with her, and I trusted Gerry’s discretion on this.
 
That said, between being a rookie and the fact I was still unmarked, I was left tending the camp.  It was a bit windy out, but we were leeward so I was fine.  They hadn’t left me alone, there was a harpy they’d left behind who was part of the party, nominally, but wasn’t keen on the caving.  They’d assured me I was safe with her, and I trusted Gerry’s discretion on this.

Revision as of 18:48, 31 March 2013

Icon
3P story universe

Meeting Dawn

Author: Arrow Quivershaft
A few weeks later, I was on my first realmwalking expedition. It was a lightly forested island, just north of Crete. I was acting as assistant to Gerry for this run, and he’d taken the party off to do some caving in a local area. A few of them were after some purported magical item. Gerry didn’t seem like he figured they’d find it, at least to me, but as long as we got paid, it was their money.

That said, between being a rookie and the fact I was still unmarked, I was left tending the camp. It was a bit windy out, but we were leeward so I was fine. They hadn’t left me alone, there was a harpy they’d left behind who was part of the party, nominally, but wasn’t keen on the caving. They’d assured me I was safe with her, and I trusted Gerry’s discretion on this.

It was the first time I’d been close to one of them, so I probably gawked a bit. I hadn’t had much of a chance to talk to her before...except to find out she was an American forcemark, and her name was Dawn. She was small, about five feet tall and probably 50 pounds. The bird features on her lower half were raptorial, but no specific species, but her upper torso and above were human. She wore a sort of cloth scarf around her breasts and wrapped around her chest and over and under her wings several times for modesty, but otherwise didn’t have anything on. I guess there’s not much clothing you can get on that body, anyways...most harpies just go ‘natural’ and dangle. Maybe it helps them distract the unwary, I don’t know.

After taking some time to take inventory on the equipment and estimating things, making some notes in the venture-log, and other scutwork, I did some practice moving in a padded vest I’d gotten. It was the very bottom rung of armor, like wearing a bit of extra clothing. It was hot, but I figured that would be the least of my worries anytime I needed to be wearing the armor. After getting a feel for it and doing some pretend running around the camp, I got bored and went over to see what Dawn was doing.

She was just loitering by the fire, really. She had a flat rock set out, and some smaller rocks on it, and she seemed to be fiddling with them to practice...well, sleight of talon, really. Moving rocks back and forth, grasping them, a bit of juggling. Harpies have no hands, so this was all with feet.

After watching for what was probably too long, I tried to break the silence. "So, um...Dawn. Where are you from, originally?"

She looked over at me, standing on one foot, a rock between toes in the other. “L.A.”

“I’ve never been there myself...in any case, if you need any help, just ask. It’s what I’m here for.”

Dawn gave me a look and I knew I’d screwed up. “I can take care of myself, thanks.” It wasn’t RUDE, per se, just reminding me which of the two of us had more experience.

“Sorry, sorry.”

“It’s ok, greenback.” She shrugged with her wings a bit, then winced almost imperceptibly. I just gawked some at the wings.

Now, harpies break the laws of aerodynamics, so they can’t fly at all out of realm. Just too much weight on too little wingspan. She’d definitely taken advantage of the opportunity when we entered the realm, but I could tell from her face she’d overdone it a bit.

“Must be real fun, flying,” I commented, trying another shot at conversation.

With a CLACK, one of the rocks disappeared. She switched feet, and it reappeared, like magic. I knew it was just quick...feet, but I was still a bit impressed. "Sure is." Dawn sounded unenthused.

“...is something wrong? Am I bothering you?" I knew I’d screwed up again...this was no way to make friends.

“I’m not an Invalid, Renfrew...and I don’t need to be babysat.”

Stammering, I backpedaled. "...I didn't mean to imply that. I'm sorry...” I paused. “This is my first time out."

Dawn repeated the rock trick, the opposite way. “It’s a cake-run anyways.”

I nodded. “I was told that, but still...first time in the realms.”

She changed the topic abruptly. "Which god are you going to get yourself marked by?"

"...marked? Oh...right. I was thinking Athene?" I said cautiously. I had to figure that out soon.

Dawn sighed. "Look, I know they don't cover this shit back home, but any real adventurer chooses a god to mark him rather than wait to be captured and have it thrust on him."

I nodded again, feeling like a bobblehead. Now, a mark is like a stamp you get on your soul from a given god. When you get a mark, the god gains a small portion of energy off of you, from your...aura, I guess. Gods get much of their divine energy from marks; more marks is more power.

The thing is, that a mark can’t be overwritten by another mark, or at all. So unmarked people, like me, are all too tempting a target for some of the less savory gods to abduct and press into service with an involuntary mark...which is called forcemarking. Now, a forcemark is nasty business, because you get a bodily transformation into something else along with it, since the god gets more energy that way, or something. It also forms the penalty to not get marked...it’s quite likely that Dawn was a forcemark to someone, although I wasn’t sure who forcemarked into harpies off the top of my head.

Dawn read me like a book. “Caught, tagged, and turned loose as I am, yep."

"...that sucks...I'm sorry." I wasn’t really sure what else to say.

She leaned over, and made a flinging motion, skipping a rock down the dirt into the trees. "You might end up on the other side of this conversation someday, greenback."

"...they barely covered that at school." I shuddered. "I really hope not, I like my body. Kinda, like. A lot. Then again, what I like probably doesn't matter to the gods."

Dawn shook her head. "No, they taught you what you needed to know about the land. Most schools don’t cover marks too well...not a lot is known about the gods themselves, but the first thing we learn here is that they want followers. If they gotta haul you in, then they're going to give you an incentive to stick around the realms where being a follower matters." She paused for a moment. "You'll meet locals that speak Human languages. Odds are they used to be human."

“So they transform you...just to keep you around?” That seemed like a human rights issue to me, but...then again, the gods are playing in a different league.

Dawn nodded. "Bit more complicated, but that's it in a nutshell. And it works. I'm never more than a few hundred miles away from this realm."

"Wait, you can't leave? Some...physical limitation?" I blurted. Crap.

"Does it LOOK like I can live the life I had, greenback?” Her voice raised a bit.

"No...I'm sorry..." I took a moment to gather my thoughts. "Educate me. I should learn this stuff, in case I'm dealing with this on an expedition one day, or as said, am a victim myself..." Great. Now I was being fatalistic.

"Fuck, back home I'd be better off if I were wearing a turban and waving a rainbow flag, with a few 'Heil Hitler's thrown on for good measure.”

"...admittedly, you're probably right."

Dawn relaxed a bit. "I scare humans, I make them uncomfortable, and I can't use their stuff. That's how it is... And quite plainly, I never stopped loving the adventure...So Lecci's as far as I ever get. Sometimes some of my family comes and visits me there."

“I just made peace with my family myself...I can empathize.”

“Pissed off that you came here, mm?”

“...yes, how’d you know?”

“Half the guys here have the same story, Renfrew. Folks just don’t understand the drive to explore.”

“They do respect I made a job out of it. My parents do, rather.”

Dawn nodded, then segued back. "My advice? Do some research on the gods...not the stuff you find in the bullshit books...no, talk to realm denizens before you choose. You don't want to go through this."

I seemed to be hitting a better stride here. "So break it down for me. Lining up with a god...what're the benefits? And the risks? Pretend I know nothing."

Dawn paused, then seemed to fall into stride. "Pros are that nobody bothers you about being unmarked. Don't have to worry about someone claiming you, since they can't overwrite one anothers marks. The cons are that you have to follow your god's rules, and that technically, they own a piece of your being." She paused. "Also, it /really/ pisses off human religions when you do it."

“Wait, own a piece of my...being? Like my soul, right?”

"Soul, spirit, whatever." She nodded. "You don't really notice, it's not like the biblical sense we're used to." She leaned back and sat down, careful to avoid bending her tailfeathers.

"So when I die...what happens?"

She shrugged a bit. "Dunno."

“And being marked to one god puts you at odds with whoever doesn’t like that god, just like any other alleigance, right?”

"Right. But most minions are like you and me... We don't give a shit particularly unless it's out-and-out war." She smirked a bit when I winced at the term “minion.”

I paused, troubled. “A bit more complex than I thought...any real ideas what kind of rules I'd have to follow? Or what'd happen if, say, I got marked by a Olympian diety and then got transferred to Midgard?”

"Depends who you sign on to." She brushed some hair out of her face.

"Of course, Dawn...but any ideas? At all? Or suggestions?"

She looked at me hard. "That's something you have to figure out for yourself, greenback."

"Ok. It offers me improved safety, and I was planning on it. Just...curious, because well..., a lot of traditional religions seem to be all show and no go."

"If I open my mouth, I'm obligated to promote Echidna. Let's not go there." So that’s who her mark was to.

"Ok. I guess that's fair..." I reflected a bit. "Thanks for telling me this. I hope I wasn't too much of a pain."

She flapshrugged, then refolded her wings. "It's just like anything else greenback. There's what they teach you in classes... And then there's the truth. Just hope you don't end up in my boat... Whatever body you end up in ain't so bad once you're used to it, but the social ramifications suck, and the transition sucks even more, espescially when you've got the transgender aspect, which is damn near humiliating enough to break you by itself."

I recoiled a bit, probably too obviously. "...That sounds...harsh."

"No shit."

I paused for a long moment, trying to think how to continue without fucking up again. "Erm...how do they choose, or is it just a "I feel like this today" thing for the gods?"

"Dunno." She passed a wing over her rocks, and one of them vanished. How the hell she palmed with a wing...wow. Impressive. With a wave of the other wing, it was back. "In the meantime... Just consider the risks as part of the package. Part of what makes this life as exciting as it is."

"I guess that's probably the best way to look at it." I admitted.

"MOST of those that get this treatment are reported dead... Not nearly as many adventurers die as you're led to believe. They're simply... Inducted into new lives. So that's /less/ of a risk, really, if you want the upshot.”

"Brainwashed? I don't know what my family would do...” I lowered my voice a bit in thinking. “My parents would have a fit if they could hear this discussion."

Dawn shook her head. "Sometimes. Not usually. I wasn't...and that’s about par for the course, really.”

Suddenly I jolted a bit. Something sank in a bit. Brett... "You said people reported dead usually aren't...?"

Dawn nodded. "Right. Most are, but a significant portion aren't."

I paused, words spilling out a bit. "...A really good friend went adventuring in the Realms a couple years ago. Never came back, reports of his death did...but you're saying he might've lived?"

She looked at me. "Do you know /how/ he died?"

I shook my head. "No...that wasn't reported...Or if it was, I wasn't told. I didn’t know anyone else in the party so it was hard to get any real info out of them.”

She weighed her options visibly. "It depends on the circumstances, greenback.”

"I guess...probably better to not entertain those thoughts? ...thanks for filling me in on all this."

Dawn wingshrugged a bit. "Not a problem. I'm going to go check on the boys."

"Ok. Be safe." I went back to one of the tents to lay low, as I’d been taught. Easily defendable and all, as Dawn took wing, heading for the caves. I had plenty to think about in the meantime, at least.