23 - Stargazer Goes Boldly Forth

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Though Akachi Bin'talil groaned loud from the knife piercing her belly, her anguish carried no further than the immediate trees on that cloudy night. The noise struck the great trunks of the surrounding trees and were stopped from carrying further. Even if there were no trees, the sound of her wail would quickly fade on the winds that blew back towards the Junction. In the morning, when Persefani Stargazer stood at the town gate, stepping aside to allow the nearby farmers to pass through their morning goods for market, she noted the few impressions in the dirt that could have been the boot print to Akachi and her avengers. She turned to look over her own group: Her sister in faith and battle, Ilisanona. Her Roguish friend from down south, Melinoe, and her Dwarf, Rendford Greymountain. They returned her stare, generally, Ilisanona returned her stare. Melinoe was looking at a farmer's cart with larcenous interest and Rendford yawned before sipping on the last of the steaming black coffee in his iron cup. They were a dysfunctional bunch, Persefani told herself, but she was glad to have them.

"Alright Stargazers, we let the Avengers ride forth yesterday and the Border Wardens are on their cruise. It's time for the Company to ride forth and stop these scoundrels," She turned and began to march forward. Behind her she heard the yawns and groans. Her little band of comrades had grown use to relaxation that the township offered them. In the town they had beds, hot or cold food, hot or cold drinks, and welcomed hot water. Memories of Loxley's Bathhouse became all the more crystal when standing on the edge between the city and the wilderness. She turned and gave one last look back into town and allowed the others a parting gaze. In particular, besides the taste of smooth bourbon and soaking in the languid warmth of the bath house, Persefani would particularly miss the laundry service. She knew she would be smelling of dirt and sweat before the day was out. She turned back to the trail, she beamed to herself when after the groans and stifled complaints, the boots of her companions crunched through the dirt trail leading to the eastern road. They had all longed for the town, but they continued to follow her into danger and uncertainty.

The early travel from the city passed with little significance playing in the mind of Persefani or her crew. The roads were still operated by the last of the farmers who had yet to flee in the face of the attacks. The trails were clearly marked with deep wagon tracks or foot prints. Few animals lingered in this area, although in the distance Rendford would point out the vague silhouette of a young fawn that had a sense of curiosity. Persefani's eyes caught those fleeting moments when the beast turned and scurried back for shelter. For much of the time, the party marched in silence. Melinoe was the first to speak.

"You ever make up with Jairie, Rendford?" Melinoe asked.

"Aye, we shared our kisses and goodbyes," Rendford said. When speaking on the matter, Rendford would adjust the musket he carried, as if it was suddenly the heaviest object in the world. Melinoe grinned and looked forward to catch the side glance of Persefani. The Paladin's eyes were a touch wary at the direction the Rogue was going in with her speech. In turn, the Rogue grinned and asked, "And how about you, Ser Stargazer? You manage to get that letter off before leaving?"

"Why don't you let it lay," Ilisanona said, she brought up the rear of the group, "That business is the Lady's Business and not your concern."

"I'm just trying to pass the time here. We'll be stuck on the road all day today and if we start breaking out into traveling songs we'll soon run out before nightfall," Melinoe noticed that Rendford's attention was piqued, not in offense, although his eyes appeared hardened, they also glimmered in genuine curiosity as to what Melinoe was referring too. The Elf grinned and said, "Persefani has a gentleman caller back south in Port Kyna. What was his name? It began with a K," Melinoe closed her eyes and tilted her head back in an attempt to recall the name.

"Ser Kristos of Farwatch," Persefani answered the question for her Rogue. The Paladin bit her lip and added, "When I am alone with him I call him Kris." Kristos was a Knight, but not a Paladin like her. His focus was on the secular, securing a domain a trading town known as Farwatch. Where her's was partly devoted to the service of the Light, he devoted himself to the rule of law and safeguarding his people from likes of Gnolls as well as bandits who plagued the roads leading the distant mines of the Red Hills. Kristos had the same command of the equestrian that she had, although she added a touch more flare in her riding skills when compared to him. She did not answer Melinoe's query. Instead she flashed a smirk and shook her head, savoring the chagrin of her comrade. In actuality she wrote a letter that was waiting in Mary Poole's desk back at Gorman's Junction. If Mary had heard and confirmed that Persefani was killed or if a month passed without any word from the Paladin, she was to send the letter to reach Ser Kristos. Persefani hoped he would understand why she had to ride off to fight battles, rather than accept his proposal for marriage. She needed one last adventure in the realm, to in some ways wash away the feeling that she had let these people down by doing little to aid them during the Great War. Marching as she did, preparing herself for battle, was her act of atonement.

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