... now they must watch their abundance of luxuries fall away, making room for the tools of survival, and witness this time of relative peace wither into the same fears that harper's ballads had warned them about for generations.
 
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 Pursuit of Freedom

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Lyranel



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PostSubject: Pursuit of Freedom   Sun Jun 22, 2014 9:40 am



Lyranel had never really ridden a runnerbeast before.

Her mother had told her as a child that if she did, she could lose that which makes her valuable as a wife. "Women," she said, "ride in carriages." That was the only thing that was dignified and proper. Fortunately, Lyranel was a quick study, and she had watched Gorial's sons attempt to ride runners before, so she had some idea how the whole process worked.

She'd left in the middle of the night, when Belior and Timor were high in the sky, and it was almost bright enough to be day. Her inexperience forced her to take the route slowly, which she realized was a better thing, as the loud sound of runner hoofs beating at the dirt road would have most likely attracted attention.

Crescent Rock Cothold wasn't terribly large, but it seemed to take forever to get out of their territory. Though she wore a cloak with a hood up, the runner was the property of the harper assigned to Crescent Rock, and nearly everyone knew it. Lyranel, being far smaller than the harper, would have likely attracted unwanted attention.

By the time she'd left the Cothold's territory, she was somewhat confidence on the runner's back, and she pushed the beast into a gallop, her thighs smacking painfully against the saddle. Still, she couldn't let something as silly as discomfort distract her. She had a long way to go, and she needed to stay ahead of any search parties that were sent out to find her. They thought her a murderer, that much she knew to be true. She had no solid way to prove her innocence, save to say that she didn't have it in her to do such a thing. But she knew that if they captured her, and if she was found to be guilty, she would be killed.

She was a few hundred dragonlengths from Crescent Rock when Rukbat began to rise, and she dismounted from the runner for a quick meal. She'd stocked up on meatrolls and fruit before she left, but she was unsure if she had enough for the whole ride. There wasn't much food to be had at Crescent Rock, and she felt guilty stealing from people at the cothold who had done nothing wrong.

Biting into a redfruit, she sighed with contentment as the liquid dripped down her chin. She drank quickly from her canteen, then found her way to a nearby stream where she refilled it. She washed the travel grit from her hands and face, before stiffly mounting the runner again.

"I wonder how far we have left to go, Maiden," she said, patting the runner's side affectionately. She knew without looking that her thighs were bruised, and she didn't know how much longer she'd be able to keep going. Now that day had broken, they would be realizing that she was gone. And they wouldn't restrict themselves to a slow pace; no, they'd start searching at breakneck speed. She could only hope that they needed to check all of the other buildings at the cothold first, or that they believed the healer when he told them she was indisposed by illness.

She kicked Maiden up to a fast gallop, and forced herself to endure the pain, despite, how badly her body was aching. But it wasn't long before she couldn't deal with it anymore, and she slowed Maiden, shifting painfully to try and find relief. She was exhausted from riding all night. She knew if she slept, she wouldn't wake for a long time. She needed to keep going. She needed to push herself harder.

She needed...

Sleep.

She leaned forward, burying her face in Maiden's mane. She'd just lay there for a moment...

Just...

Just until...

Lyranel emitted soft snores as she lay there, in the middle of the dirt road, her face hidden by the chestnut mane.
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Eloaene

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PostSubject: Re: Pursuit of Freedom   Sun Jun 22, 2014 10:49 am




One of Telgar's largest and longest running trade caravans had just started making their way north, hoping to make it home before winter hit. They had been delayed slightly longer than usual for several reasons, and it was possible that by the time they had reached Telgar's northern roads, the snows may have made them impassable. It was quite a hassle, and a danger, to become trapped in the snows with full returning loads and cold drey beasts.  The frigid winds that blew down from the barrier range could freeze them if they weren't able to find shelter. 

Thus the reason that Jungi and his family had led the way back toward home again, instead of remaining to enjoy the festivities at Fort Weyr's fantastical Masquerade. They were some distance from there now, and had passed through the area of at least a couple of outlying cotholds around Fort Hold to drop a few last minute goods, but the lighter loads would allow them to travel at a better pace, which should help them get home more quickly in the long run, even if they lost a few short hours in the mean time. 

When they had finally gotten back onto the main road, which would lead them back to Fort Hold, through which was the path taking them back home, the sun had just begun to rise in the distance.

The morning autumn air was crisp and heavy with fog, which lay out a soft blanket of dew over everything. It was the kind of beautiful morning that Jungi loved, feeling as though the day would be wrapped in that same coat of comfort as the sun's warming light became diffused through the sky around him. Honestly, all in all, the morning had been quiet and uneventful, shaping up to be a fine day for a good deal of traveling ahead of them. And though the many people trailing in the caravan in front of and behind him still seemed to be awakening to the day, while the morning avians sun their songs from trees around them, it was apparent that they too, were coming to recognize it would be a good day. 





The caravan had been on the road for perhaps a little more than a candlemark, given the time of day the wild flowers along the side of the road naturally bloomed, when they rounded a bend. Ahead of them then, it could be seen that something lay in the middle of the road -what looked like a Runner. Jungi's immediate reaction was to slow his dreybeast, calling everyone to a halt. Jungi's father had already done the same with the lead wagons, so Jungi turned to signal to the rest, down the line. 

The lead wagon was still some distance from where the Runner lay, the position of which made it difficult to see the person on the other side, from a distance. It was strange, either way, for a Runner to be out in the middle of nowhere like this; unless it were a messenger's runner? Perhaps the runner or a person were injured? But he couldn't make out the form on the other side of the beast clearly. 

Jumping down from the coach seat of his wagon, Jungi jogged up to front of the caravan, just beside his father. "Let's go take a look, and see what's happened. I doubt it's an ambush. Fort's roads aren't as dangerous as Telgar's, recently." Though it was still likely, given Fort and Southern Boll's general disposition toward one another over the last couple of Turns. They were both keen about playing terrible pranks on one another, that usually ended up in someone getting hurt. Still, nothing quite like the Chorong Rebel's ploys had broken out just yet.


Together, the two men walked up the road the few paces, until they could see that it was a Runner and a girl laying in the dirt together. Giving a quick look about, it was Jungi's habit to make sure things were safe, before he hurried over to kneel beside the girl. His father came closer, but remained standing.

"Miss!" The trader called to her to wake her, at the same time inspecting her to see if there might be any injury. His quick eyes then moved on to the Runner, but there seemed to be nothing physically wrong with either of them. Was there?

Jungi worked an arm around the girl's shoulders as though he might pick her up to carry her. Turning her so that she faced into his shoulder. Gently, he shook her. "Miss? Can you wake up? Are you hurt anywhere?"


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Lyranel



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PostSubject: Re: Pursuit of Freedom   Wed Jun 25, 2014 7:07 pm



Lyranel’s feet and legs burned. Confused she looked around, and found herself sitting down on the Hatching sands of some Weyr she’d never been to before, which was easy, as she’d never been to any Weyrs before. “Ah!” she exclaimed, standing up quickly to avoid the heat of the Sands. Around her stood white-robed candidates, staring at her with malice because she was clad in thick boots and trousers. Her pale skin flushed bright red. “I’m sorry,” she muttered. She needed to find her way out of here, and back to where… where was it that she was going again?

The hum of the dragons was surprisingly loud, and she was painfully aware of the whispers of the crowd, wondering what she was doing, why she was dressed that way. She pulled her cloak down lower around her face.

Hey, come here, a voice called, and she looked around. It had sounded like the speaker was right next to her, talking directly into her ear.

“Come where?” she asked. At her confusion, the murmurs from the crowd turned into jeers.

“Crazy girl,” someone said, spurning a flurry of hateful words.

“Who let her on the Sands?”

“Get her out of there.”

“Maybe a hatchling will gore her.”

“No, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…” she trailed off.

Didn’t mean to what? Why are you apologizing to them? What do you care what they think? the mysterious voice said again. You are better than them. You are mine… but…

“Yours? I don’t even know who you are?! But what!?” she practically screamed, resulting in a chorus of laughter from the crowd.

But you need to come here! Please, come quick! The voice was more frantic now, yet at the same time, every word weaker than the one before it.

“Come where?!” she was despairing now, and those in the stands began throwing things down at her. She turned around and around, trying to figure out what she needed to do, when suddenly her eyes locked on an egg.

Yes! I’m in here! I can’t get out! Lyranel ran over to the egg, throwing her full weight into it, but barely causing a crack in the shell. She punched and kicked viciously, until finally, hunks of shell began to fall away.

Lyra! the voice exclaimed. You came for me! I knew you would! But as the shell fell away, revealing the dragon within, Lyranel recoiled.

“You’re a bronze!” she said. “But… I’m not a boy!”

But Lyra, Lyra, you’re mine!

By now, the crowd had figured out what had transpired, and their insults grew worse.

“FREAK!”

“Disgusting woman thinks she’s a man!”

“What an abomination!”

Lyra, why do they say such hateful things?!

Lyranel fell to her knees, wrapping her arms around the tiny bronze dragon.

“Miss?”

Lyranel was confused. The voice sound caring. Concerned. But it was neither the crowd, nor the dragon speaking.

When the voice came again, this time accompanied by a shake, she awoke with a start, screaming without realizing it. All too rapidly, she remembered where she was. It was all just a nightmare… Then, she thought of the other nightmare she’d recently escaped.

“No, please, let me go, I have to go. I need to get to the Hold.” She fought to get herself back on top the runner, but ended up falling off, landing painfully on an already-abused derriere. She cried out once more, this time a mixture of pain and futility, before finally focusing on the person who’d awoken her.

“Ju… Jungi?” she asked, wondering what had brought him there. Then, she had a terrifying thought. “No, please, you can’t make me go back there! I’ll do anything. I can’t live like that anymore!”

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PostSubject: Re: Pursuit of Freedom   Wed Jun 25, 2014 7:56 pm




The girl's scream startled him, when she came out of the dream. He nearly dropped her, but soon she was making her own way to her feet. 

Jungi stood then, watching her with cautious and concerned eyes as she tried to scramble back onto her Runner. At first, he said nothing, but once she'd tumbled back to the ground, the trader was there at her side, offering his aid again. There, he took her arm with one hand, and with the other, assisted her at the waist, bringing her back to her feet. 

The calm countenance that both he and his father wore, should have give her nothing more to fear, nor worry about, but if she was in a hard situation, that might be unavoidable. Still, Jungi tried to put her at ease by speaking directly in answer to the problem she'd spoken of, "Miss, we are on our way to Fort Hold. If that takes you in the direction you want to go, you should travel with us."
 
Having released her of helping hands by then, so as not to make her feel threatened, Jungi had glanced back to his father a moment to see if the man's eyes spoke anything of his thoughts. Seeing as though they spoke nothing more than what he himself felt, Jungi was focused on the young lady again before speaking in concern for her safety. "Even if there is no threat of bandits, traveling the open road alone, always carries its own dangers. Please, I would feel more at ease if you joined us." Especially since she looked so young, and was female. And since it seemed as though she was running away from someone, or something, wouldn't joining a group make it easier to hide herself away?

So, reassuringly, he tried offering again, and this time, while wearing the start of one of his iconic, infectious smiles. "You can trust me. You can ride in one of the wagons with my mother and sister." 

Known for his easy way with people, and charismatic aura, Jungi of course did not expect that she would decline him. If she did however, he could always decide to pick her up and carry her to the lead wagon, where he could leave her in the care of the women in the caravan. Yes... that might also be an option. 

In any case, if she was running from someone, now that the caravan had stumbled upon her out here on the road, Jungi would likely feel partially responsible if she went off on her own and something happened to her, only to find her again later, but in a worse state. 


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Lyranel



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PostSubject: Re: Pursuit of Freedom   Sat Jun 28, 2014 12:06 pm



“Fort Hold?” she murmured, as though the place was a dream, and not someplace that really existed. She blinked a few time, struggling to make sense of everything. The Hold. Where she wanted to go. Fort Hold. She nodded numbly for a moment. “Fort Hold,” she said, this time with more conviction.

Her eyes fixed on Jungi’s face. “Gorial he… he did... terrible things,” she murmured, flinching slightly at the thought of the last beating she’d taken at his hands. “If his sons… if they…. if they…. find me…. they’ll kill me.” She didn’t mention the fact that they thought she had murdered their father. But she didn’t! She knew that she was innocent.

He let her go to stand on her own two feet, and she managed to hold herself up using the runner for a moment. Her legs were so sore, and she had to keep them spread wide to prevent them from rubbing together painfully. “I can ride with the women,” she agreed. “But please, Maiden,” she gestured to the runner, “don’t leave her behind.” The runner had been her confidante while her life had crumbled down around her at Crescent Rock Cothold. She removed one hand from Maiden’s saddle horn, and started to undo the saddle, knowing the runner would be less burdened without it. She stumbled backwards, her arms windmilling, before grabbing on to Jungi. “S-sorry,” she said.

She felt so tired, so sore. Words came slowly to her lips, and more than anything she wanted to curl up someplace warm and comfortable, and sleep for many hours. Without realizing it, her arms had curled up about Jungi’s neck, and she pressed her face into his neck. “Hurt,” she said softly, unable to articulate more sensibly. She desperately hoped there was a container of numbweed and a draught of fellis somewhere in the caravan.

She was frustrated with her own inability to speak coherently, and tears sprung to her eyes. She needed to tell him what Gorial had done to her. Where she was hurting from the chafe of the saddle and the strike of the fist. How grateful she was that he had come along, and that he wasn’t a stranger. Instead, she mumured a soft, “Please,” into his neck, snuggling her face deeper into his neck. How long had it been since someone had helped her? Since she’d felt the touch of another human being out of anything but anger? He was warm, and she felt safe in his arms in a way she hadn't felt for turns.

She took a deep, steadying breath, but emotions overwhelmed her. She was finally, blessedly free of Gorial, and so long as Jungi kept his word, she would be safely at Fort Hold soon.


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PostSubject: Re: Pursuit of Freedom   Sat Jun 28, 2014 12:48 pm

It had been a long time since Jungi had seen someone in such a state of desperation. Though he didn't know exactly what she'd been through, Jungi recognized the difficulty she was having, even before she'd stumbled and latched onto him. Stepping forward to meet her, his arms readily provided the strength that she herself did not have, holding onto her in return. It was a surprise to him though, when the girl wrapped her arms about his neck and found a place to nuzzle up against him. He almost blushed. 

Almost.

Providing her with the reassurance she needed, he spoke in answer to her concerns only after she seemed to have steadied in place. "Don't worry about Maiden." Glancing back to the Runner, he motioned his father, to see if he would care for the Runner while he himself brought the young woman back to the wagons. 

Taking Maiden's reins, the old Trader began leading Maiden back to the caravan, while Jungi scooped Lyranel up in his arms, carrying her. The two were being watched with great interest by those in the caravan who could see what was going on, and by those then, who had not been able to see things clearly, but were growing more and more curious as to what had brought the entire train to a halt. 

So it was, that Jungi's mother came out to meet them at the front of the lead wagon, opening the door of it to see outside. "What is happened?"

Bringing the girl up to her, Jungi supported Lyranel's weight while his mother helped get her inside the living quarters. 

Assisting the girl inside, Iniel called back to her daughters, for them to bring some water, wash cloths and medicine. 

At that point, Jungi left the girl in the women's care. "Ma, let me know if you need anything else. I'm going to help get her Runner unsaddled so we can get moving again." Of course, Iniel understood that her son would be back to check on them later, but she knew how to boss her son around too, if anything arose she'd need help with. For now though, the womenfolk could care for Lyranel, and the menfolk could get back to their own work. Thus, the door was closed behind them, and Iniel's gentle hands coaxed the girl into a bed.


The caravan couldn't remain stalled for long; they had a long distance ahead of them, so it was imperative that they keep on a tight schedule -especially if any trouble decided to cross their path that day. Broken wheels or axles, fallen trees, storms, etc, they were all possibilities, which they tried to compensate for, but this time the caravan was already a little behind schedule.

As Jungi caught up to his father, the man was already getting Maiden's saddle hoisted into another wagon for temporary storage, so Jungi took off her saddle blanket and brought it over to him as well. Handing the blanket off to him, Kuchiki stowed it away for the travels, as well. After tying off the Runner's harness to the back of one of his own personal wagons, Jungi patted the beast, offering it a couple cuts of fruit, a sugar cube and water before they started moving again.


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PostSubject: Re: Pursuit of Freedom   Sun Jun 29, 2014 12:51 pm



Lyranel was finally able to relax, and as she did so, she went limp in Jungi’s arms. It was becoming harder and harder for her to stay awake. Gorial had kicked her out of the room they’d once shared a few sevendays past, and she’d been sleeping on a pile of furs in the kitchen. She couldn’t remember the last time she had a full night’s sleep before that, since Gorial’s snoring kept her up to all hours of the night. She hoped that she could just sleep her way to Fort Hold…

She drifted off for a few minutes, but awoke once more when Jungi handed her over to a woman who she assumed was his mother. “Sorry,” Lyranel said, trying to assist them in getting her settled. “Legs aren’t working.” That was an understatement. As she was unaccustomed to riding, doing so had first bruised her legs, then worn them raw. When she looked down, she could see areas where blood had soaked through her trousers. She tried to say something, as she didn’t wish to bleed on their bedding, but she was still having a hard time speaking in any intelligible fashion.

Fortunately, she’d seen them tying up Maiden, so the runner wouldn’t be lost. Lyranel hoped that she hadn’t ridden the poor mare so hard that she couldn’t keep up with the caravan. Then again, she was far lighter than Gorial’s sons, who had ridden the mare ever since their mother’s death. She was glad Gorial was dead. If the man were still alive, he would travelled to the ends of Pern to find the runner he’d given his first wife shortly before her death.

Still, she was worried that his sons would pursue her. She knew she had a bit of a leap on them, but they would be able to travel faster than she, and she had no idea how long she had been asleep for. She was helped into a bed, and she let out a loud sigh of relief, as she was finally on her way to being comfortable.”They… they’re after me,” she said. She fumbled with the fastener on her trousers, wanting the constricting fabric off her aching legs.

“Husband… heart attack…” she continued, both her tongue and fingers refusing her attempts to care for herself and inform the caravan. “They think… my fault…” she continued, hoping that she got across the point that they needed to get the caravan moving; and the sooner they did so the better. “Go… must go…” She couldn’t bear the thought that the caravan would risk the wellbeing of all of it’s members for her, only to be attacked by Gorial’s sons. Still, she hoped they believed that she wasn’t at fault, for she lacked the strength to argue her case in any way. The tears that had formed in her eyes spilled freely down her cheeks, and she struggled to keep her eyes open. “Please…” she said, but couldn’t complete her request in any sensible manner. She sighed again in frustration.

She felt the wagon beneath her begin to move again, and she took deep breaths to try and steady herself. As her fears began to dissipate, the pain of her injuries became harder to ignore, and she instinctively tried to curl up into fetal position, only to realize that movement hurt even worse than just laying flat. Her hands balled into fists as frustration threatened to overwhelm her. This had been her chance to get out and be independent, and yet she couldn’t get her body to obey her...
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PostSubject: Re: Pursuit of Freedom   Sun Jun 29, 2014 3:05 pm

Realizing that a good dose of fellis was in dire need, Iniel could hardly stand to watch or listen as the girl struggled to speak the few words she was able. It pained the woman's heart to see anyone in such a state. So, she called the eldest of her daughters for a warm drink with fellis. "Kaeul. Tea, with fellis, please. This numbweed will be enough for the injury to her legs, but the poor girl needs to sleep. It'll be better for her not to be so coherent while we get her cleaned up. Don't want her to feel embarrassed. We should get her into some fresh clothes."

While Ririn, Jungi's youngest sister, helped mop Lyranel's face of dirt and sweat, cooling her off a bit, so she didn't run a fever, Iniel started by trying to get her outer layers of clothing off. "No need to worry, dearheart. We have some numbweed to put on those sores, but first we have to take these clothes off, to get to them." Honestly, the woman wondered about cutting the pants from her, so to remove them more comfortably. She wouldn't be able to wear them again right away, anyway. And if it was true she was hiding... wouldn't she need new clothes?

Deciding to try to preserve the garments for her though, regardless of what they fit her into next, Iniel helped Lyranel unbutton the pants and draw them from her legs. Soon there wasn't much left but for the scant underpinnings to cover her. But, at least that way, she could start cleaning the blood from her. Ririn helped, too.


By the time they'd gotten her skin cleaned of most of the mess, allowing for numbweed to be applied, Kaeul was returning with warm tea, well-laden with fellis, so that Lyranel would be able to sleep well, and have no fear or pain to keep her from getting the rest she so desperately needed.
.
Iniel then assisted Lyranel in sitting up enough that she could drink. "Here we go, love. Drink some of this, and you'll be feeling better."

Kaeul knelt at the side of the bed, next to her mother, where she could tip the edge of the cup to Lyranel's lips.



At just that time, Jungi was returning from having Maiden fed and watered. He stepped up to the door of the lead wagon, opening the door to inquire if there was anything else the women needed before the caravan started moving again, but any hope of uttering the words was deterred by the nearly-naked Lyranel, lying in his mother's arms.

Thus, the door had barely been open for long enough for anyone to notice, before Jungi nearly fell off the front of the wagon, trying to turn himself around to save the young lady's dignity. Jumping to the ground, he was unable to keep the wide-eyed expression of surprise from his face. And forgetting what he'd come for, Jungi turned to walk away as though nothing out of the ordinary had taken place. Though, it was then, that he remembered the door was left open, and others might see in. So, spinning back around, he laid a hand to the door, putting force enough behind the wood planks to close it.

Standing there for a moment, looking about him with sly glances to see if anyone had noticed the faux pas, his hands were soon in his pockets, strolling back toward where he'd come.

"Well, looks like she is in good hands, then." The words were uttered under his breath.

With a shrill whistle after that, the signal went out for the drivers to get back to their carts. The delay was over. And within another couple of minutes, the wagons were moving again.


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