A knock at this hour?

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LieAnia NaDir is in the usergroup ‘Survivor’
Tired…

That word didn't begin to explain the feelings the ex queen of the elves had upon entering Bellitose.

Nia had been traveling all over the continent since waking, trying to find her mate, Tann. Tannhauser had been, was still, her soul mate. Yet it seemed every time she thought she'd find him, it wasn't.

Here she was, on the steps of the castle of the Capital, night about to descend, hoping to explain that she'd heard the King knew, supposedly, of the man she was seeking. She paused as one of the guards finished passing a small group of men thru the gate. "Excuse me… I'm Lie'Ania Na'Dir. I've come to beg audience with the King. I believe he has knowledge of my husband. I've been searching since the Awakening and all of it's led me here. Can you help?"

Worn out, tired, and not exactly looking like a courtesan, the young woman pleaded her case. Then waited with paused breath praying he wouldn't laugh and dismiss her out of hand.
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The guard in front of her stood as tall and straight as he could. Behind his visor, grief and worry clouded his vision, but no guard of the Imperial Palace would let this show. No matter the worry he, and others here, felt concerning their king, they all stood straight and tall. No one would get past them if they hadn't business here!

He regards the lady elf carefully and with suspicion as she weaves her tale. Once she was done, he scoffs, "The palace isn't accepting vistors at this moment. Please, go away."

The other gate guard shakes his head, "Forgive him, m'lady. He is just stricken with grief and worry. We all are." Almost as if on cue, the church bells ring and the flags lower. The guard's knees threaten to give way, un able to bear the sudden wave of grief that travelled with each melancoly ring. A sudden gasp fills the air, and some begin to cry, others wail. The guard sighs, "Our king, His Royal Highness Ian Mercleis, just drew his last breath.

Doing something no palace guard aught to do, he leans heavily on his bannered halberd, and removes his helmet. The man couldn't be older than thirty, definetly human. Tears welled within his stern brown eyes and he tries to force a half smile. "I am sorry, you will find no aide here at this hour." Sighing, the guard continues, "But you mustn't lose hope. Bellitose is the city of dreams and wishes. Surely, you will find your answers here. Maybe at a library, or the University? Someone will know something for you, I just know it." He reaches into his coin purse and hands the elven lady fifty shillings, "Please, get a room at an inn, and please, don't give up."

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LieAnia NaDir is in the usergroup ‘Survivor’
She had been about protest at being turned away when the death bell keened and the man before her nearly passed out. Her pack fell off her arm as she dropped it to lend herself to the man before her.

"I'm so sorry. Please do not grieve so. Surely he was ready and would not wish tears on his passing." She wasn't aware of the warmth and comfort her touch gave when her empathy kicked in.

Taking the coin, she shook her head. "I'm sure you gave me too much. A simple cot or dry spot of cobble would suffice. Perhaps I'll try the University. In which case, their stoop till morning will still be more comfort than the rocks in the woods." She laughed softly to try and get him to smile. "You should keep this for a stiff drink tonight after your Watch,  shouldn't you?"
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The first guard tried to roll his eyes, but they were held by the pools threatening to unleash. The other guard though, the one leaning on his halbred, shook his head. Placing the coin in the elf lady's hands, he somewhat gently folds her fingers around them. "I'm sure you are more capable than most," he says with a thin smile, "No doubt, you've had to defend yourself more than a dozen times out there, in the wilds. What with the roaming magic storms, and the unrest out there...

The guard shakes his head, "Bellitose is quite different. And it will be more different, now. People, they do strange things when stricken by worry, grief, and uncertanity." He pulls himself back up to a more straight position, "We weren't able to help you here, mad'dam. But allow me to give you this much. Please, get a room. Please don't sleep on the streets, not in Bellitose. Not now. Use the renewed rest to help you with your quest."

He places his helmet back on, "Allow this guard this one protection, one aide for you. Accept my coin." He points down the street, "A good inn lies that way. 'The Royal Hearth', they call it. Its not too fancy, but not too shabby either." He leans in, "An old man runs it. He always keeps his ear to the road, hears many things."

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Stepping back with the clasped hand of coins, she nodded while the guards pulled themselves together. "As you wish. And thank you. Know that I'll do another good deed in return for the kindness you've done me." She nodded to both once more and picked up her pack. "Perhaps I'll come back another day. If the King knew my husband, perhaps someone else here knew as well. Thank you, and good night, gentlemen."

She turned without another word and headed for the inn the spoke of.

Sure enough, a few moments later Nia was pushing the door open to the tavern and looking around. Closing the door, she scanned the room before heading for the bar. Her demeanor had changed from moments ago with the guards. The woman who walked into the bar was confident and sure without being cocky.  She made it clear from her look and stance that it wasn't a roll in the hay she was seeking that night. "I've come to ask about a room," she said to the one behind the bar.
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A few heads turn when the elven lady walks through the door. Some of the men whistle, a couple others make cat calls. But none raise from their seats. Despite bearing a fancy name, the Royal Hearth was your average inn and tavern. The fireplace wasn't lit, but it was summer after all. Thankfully  Bellitose was in a cool climate and hit by constant sea breeze. The smells of ales, meat, and bread combatted that of tobacco and body odor. 

An old man, human by the looks of it, bald and with a crooked nose stood behind the counter. He watched the elf girl closely before spatting out an answer, "We got 'em. Just a bed is 25 shillings. A bath cost more, and food and drinks even more." He narrows his eyes, "You got coin, right? If not, I bet one of these boys out here can... help you out."

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Nia pointedly ignored the men as they called out with wishful thinking behind the noises and calls. As the Keep told her the cost, she reached into her pocket and pulled out 25 shillings. She had thankfully had the foresight to split the coin in half before pocketing it. Counting coin in front of folks was never a good thing. The remainder of the shillings were in her boot pocket where they wouldn't rattle, even at a run. "I guess it's a good thing I just need to sleep then, huh?" She smiled and set the exact amount on the counter.

Reaching into her other pocket, she pulled out her last remaining two she had had upon arriving in the city. "I'll settle for some clean water to drink, if you have it." The elf set the coin on the counter and smiled her best hoping he would think her daft for giving up so much just for water.
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Frustrated was all you could say about the man sitting at the bar, staring into his drink.  He had been searching, following tidbits he had heard, and now with the bells tolling death, his last possible lead evaporated before he was even able to check it out.  He clenched his fist, he was not giving up, he WOULD find his lord and his lady.  He WILL keep his oath that he made.

A woman entered the tavern he was sitting in and he glanced at her and froze, could it be???  He kept himself still as a few whistled or catcalled, it could be just that she looked similar, that he was so desperate to find her that any slight resemblence would morph her into the lady he sought.

She approached the bar and he listened at the exchange, and he knew deep down itwas her, the voice and the very lilt of her voice was the same, now that he could see her up close, it wasnt just a faint resemblance, this had to be Lady Nia, but would she remember him?  He had come across a few others who he ahd known, and they didnt recognize him, or after a while of tlking they did but it was like they were talking about a dream.

He slid a little closer and next to the coins the woman placed a few more seemed to just appear.  "The beds are comfortable, m'lady"  No one would think Sheilis had just placed the coins there, and he said the words just loud enough for Nia to hear him, and if she recognized him, or was curious she would respond once the tranaction was over.
 
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The old innkeep regards both of them for a moment. He then pulls out a large horn and fills it with water. Slamming it down infront of the elf girl, he mutters, "Water is on the house." He then pulls out a key and slides it to her, "If you want an escort away from these lots," he brandishes a short war musket, "you just let me know."

Off in the corner a cloaked namaran male sipps on his honeyed ale. He sulked, not sure what he should do. Already he's walked these lands for a decade, and yet has he found anything that felt right to him. That was until she entered the inn. Rael couldn't put a finger on it, but something about this elf woman felt familiar to him, and his sense of duty was kicking him hard to get up, to act, to do something. 'But what...' he wondered. 'Who is she? Why do I feel like I need to protect her?

Rael couldn't make out why he was feeling such things. He didn't recognize her by appearance. It was then that it dawned on him, 'What if she is like me, a traveller is a different body?' He watched more closely now the exchange going on between the girl, the inn keep, and the other elf man next to her. Unfortunately for Rael, subterfuge was never a speciality of his. His watching of them was painfully obvious, so obvious that others around him began to get uncomfortable and move away from him...

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LieAnia NaDir is in the usergroup ‘Survivor’
Nia noticed the slide of coin and realized it was probably enough to include a bit of food. Adding her final loose shilling to it to make it appear she had been the one to add the other coins, she smiled at the Keep and nodded sliding up on the vacant barstool by her hip. "Thank you," she acknowledged about the water. "You've been as nice as I've heard. Perhaps a little food would be a nice change to rations of jerky."

Waiting till the man departed after his reaction, she finally glanced at the man who'd been generous beside her. But as she tired green eyes settled on him,  she tensed. "Nooo…"

To anyone looking on, she'd either seen a ghost or was about to feint. Her knuckles went white as she gripped the edge of the bar to keep from bolting or passing out.

When she'd last seen her Shard, she'd had dark hair and brighter eyes. Not the hair was the color of gold and her white blue eyes were dark and summer forests. Her breathing got shallow and she tried to speak, but nothing came out. All she could do was stare, wide eyed in disbelief. So he hadn't been a dream after all!

She had no idea that across the tavern, someone else had taken an interest in her. He'd see a women caught between fear and shock, paling even more as he watched, while struck dumb by whatever had just occurred.
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Sheilis tensed as the woman's eyes fell on him, and his hopes surged at her reaction, he was on to something, it was his lady.  As he now could see her closer, she didn't look exactly as he remembered, but as he looked into her eyes, he knew.  He held himself still and said quietly, "If I am not mistaken, you are looking for some one, and I am looking for the same man, but I have also been searching for you, m'lady." he bowed his head slightly, and continued, "I am sorry it took me this long to find you, things have been…. difficult."

He raised his head and noticed a man staring at the two of them and he narrowed his eyes, but turned his eyes back to Nia, "I am also sorry if I startled you, that has never been my intention, just like always." It was a long standing joke that she would at times surprise her with the way he would suddenly appear seemingly out of no where.  It was a final test, it might be that the woman in front of him wasn't Lady Nia, and he resemebed some one else that she knew in this world and she was afraid of that man.

 
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Rael leaned forward, every muscle in his body tensed with anticpation of an action that was to come. The lady before him, the one he didn't recognize yet felt some connection to, she was terrified of the man next to her! Rael's namaran-enhanced senses could easily detect this, even from across the room. She had gone pale, as if she seen a ghost, and the grip she seemed to hold on the edge of the bar... she was terrified. But why?

Instantly, Rael's instinct to protect this woman took over. Calling deeply into his runic soul, four large acorns came from the ether and pelted the elven man with high velosity as earthen roots reached up rapidly to grab the man's legs. 'I must give the woman a chance to escape him, without causing too much harm,' Rael thought. 

With the very next breath, Rael catapulted to the lady's side, his pole arm aimed true at her assailant. Calmly, Rael speaks, "Its okay, m'lady. Please, take this time to escape. I'll keep this vagrant from harming you, this I swear."

The innkeep comes back out with a plate of warm food, only to drop it at the scene before him. Quickly, he trains his war musket on Rael, but also is ready to quickly move it to the other male if he must. The other patronages quickly and chaoticly make their escape.

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LieAnia NaDir is in the usergroup ‘Survivor’
"Sh..Shellis….?" Her voice cracked and her right hand rose to cover her mouth. "Is it really you?" She was still to stunned to move as tears started to well up in her eyes. For years she'd been searching for Tann. But after realizing her children and grandchildren had been a dream, she had simply given up on everyone else as well.

Suddenly everything happened at once. As the acorns began to sprout and take themselves up the elf's leg, she snapped from her frozen state. Just about to lunge for him, another man intervened. She'd been about to thank him for help when he spoke of her escape. It took a moment, but she grabbed the man's arm. Her voice shaking but her fear for Shellis over rode Nia's fear of the unknown man.

"No! Wait! He's a friend." So much all at once, she couldn't help it. The tears started to fall as she felt her world once more upend itself. "Don't hurt him, please!" She tugged at Rael's shirt back trying to keep him from hurting her old body guard and friend.
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As the woman stared at him she whispered his name and Sheilis closed his eyes briefly in thanks to what ever powers that existed that he had been right.  He nodded and then acorns pelted him he went to move but felt roots reach up and grab his feet.  he frowned he had slipped up.  It was rare people could get the jump on him, but it did happen.  His first instinct was to go for his sword but that would put Lady Nia in range of danger so he thought of his dagger, but it was now pinned against his leg.

He heard a plate of food drop and knew now the innkeep was back and probably had his weapon trained on them which again put his lady in danger.  Slowly he took a breath and placed both hands visable and opened his mouth to speak when Lady Nia spoke.  "No wait!  he's a friend! Please don;'t hurt him!" tears were falling from my eyes and Sheilis looked at the attacker, and his eyes narrowed, it was the same man that had been staring at them.

"Easy boy, one doesn't jump into the middle of a situation with out knowing what they are up against.  That way can lead to unnessasary damage."  He turned his eyes back towards Lady Nia and his voicce softened, "it's alright, he hasn't hurt me."

 
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For a moment, Rael froze. "Friend?" he spoke in shock, disbelief. 'But how did I get it so... wrong?' he thought for a moment. His eyes darted between the two, and finally the innkeeper. Lowering his spear, he mutters, "Oh... I see..." The roots disappear from the others legs. Rael shakes his head, "I... I am sorry. I... I thought...."

"OUT! ALL OF YOU!" The innkeeper screams, his gun still trained. Rael's eyes go to meet his, "Please sir, it was my mistake. Not theirs. I'm the one who caused the trouble." He tosses a few coins onto the bar, "Let them stay. I'm the one who should leave." The innkeeper gruffs, "Fine. You get out of here then, filthy savage!

Rael nods and turns back his attention to the elf lady, "Again, I am sorry.... You looked to be in trouble. I do not know why I sought to aide you." His eyes lower, "I think you remind me of someone. Of an elf princess from a dream..."

Rael bows lowly, "Again, I am sorry." He then turns to leave. The innkeeper scoffs, "Good, the trouble is gone." He then glares at the other two, "I'm keepin' the money. I'll get you bread."

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LieAnia NaDir is in the usergroup ‘Survivor’
Nia shook her head and glared at the Keep. "I'll letgo the rest of my coin and go elsewhere. A man comes to the aid of a woman and you punish him? There was no damage to your precious Inn. And the only 'loss' was my dinner on the floor. So to that, I say keep it as well. I'd prefer to lay my head someplace where help isn't frowned upon or punished."

With that, she took a long draw of the water just because she could, and tapped Shellis' arm. "Let's go. I think we need to see who that is. He called me a princess. I think he's one of us." She turned without another word to head out.
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Sheilis eyed the man as he left, a faint frown on his face.  He was the agressor and could have hurt his Lady, but he didn't and didn't even hurt him in reality just contained him.  Sheilis's eyes turned to the innkeep, arching an eyebrow at his reaction, though no emotion showed on his face. It was easy to call others savages when you felt secure, but a knife at your throat often made you realize who the real savages were.  His attention turned back to his Lady as she touched his arm.

He nodded once letting her know he understood and tossed a few more coin down on the counter, "for your troubles, and for your safety." He let his words hang in the air a moment before turning and following his lady. She was right, he might have been in the other world, he knew of an elven princess, and there were few in that world, and even fewer from what he had been able to find out in his travels in this one.

He got ahead of Nia and opened the door for her, scanning outside to see if there were any threats and extending an arm to her.

 
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LieAnia NaDir is in the usergroup ‘Survivor’
It was habit of decades, or was it merely years, odd her Shard looking out for her that made her slow and wait till he offered his arm. In truth, she leaned on it perhaps a bit harder than usual. But she wanted to know he was real. If he was real, then Tann was as well. He had to be.

Outside, she motioned to the man who'd left and quickened her pace till she could almost touch hom. "Wait… please… who are you? Why protect me?" So many questions filled her mind. But only those two came out.
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'What a mess I sure made of things,' Rael thought as he made his way out of the inn. 'I've never seen someone look so frightened of a friend though... This world, I swear I'll never get used to it.'

Rael looks both ways down the street. He'll have to find somewhere safe to sleep, and he doubted he had enough money for any other inn. It was hard enough getting into that one... 'I'm still not sure what... race I am, but obviously I'm something few, if any, like,' He mused as he decided to head right. 'It isn't... the first time I've been something others hated....' Still, then he had friends, of a sort. He belonged. 

Rael had barely gotten more than thirty paces from the inn when he heard her voice. Sighing, he turns to her, and her friend, "Ah yes... again I am sorry." Rael starts to turn back away, thinking that it would just be best to ignore the rest of her questions and try to forget them, but he couldn't. Something stopped him, a feeling that made Rael want to stay, want to answer. Rael couldn't be sure if these two were friend or foe, and while his story wasn't unique to him alone, would they understand? Somehow, Rael though that she would.

"I... I am Rael." He finally responds, his eyes gazing at the cobblestone path they stood on. "I am not sure how best to answer you. You... something about you felt familiar." 

Rael tugs at his skin, "This, this is not who I always was. Before I was... someone else. I am not even sure I understand what I am now." He chuckles for a moment, "In a dream perhaps. That is what I'm told it was, my past life. In a dream I was to protect someone special, to help her escape. That.... dream ended before I could see it through, so I've wondered Xodod and now here, my quest unfulfilled."

Rael's eyes meet LieAnia's, "I... for a moment I think I thought you were her. The elf princess I was to protect, to see to safety." He smiles, blushed with embarishment, "Silly I know. I'm not even sure she would exist in this world. But for that moment, perhaps even still, I could have sworn you were LieAnia." He bows slightly, "So, I am sorry to have troubled you." He turns and starts to move forward again. 

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Nia watched him a moment. Like so many others, they were lost in this world having realized the world they had thought they had been in, and the life they had lived, was all a dream.

"Helped me? But I…" she was going to say she hadn't had anyone like that with her when everything went off kilter, but then she stopped to think back further.

"Rael…" as she spoke the name, trying the fit of it on her tongue, she remembered. "From Taal… you were protecting me from the others. And from Him…Zodo." She glanced back at Shellis a moment then back to Rael.

She stepped closer and touched his chest lightly. "You saved me. From Taal when Zodo wasn't controlling him. I'm Lie'Ania Na'Dir." She watched his face, waiting for the reaction. He'd either realize it was true and he was among friends once more…

Or he'd rebel against the idea and lash out. The first she was ready for. The second, didn't even cross her mind.
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