Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Obscured By Clouds - Chapter 1: New Acquaintances

Cornelius Allan was dozing in the afternoon sun on a late summer afternoon when he was disturbed by musical voices apparently coming from behind a hedge about 50 ft away to his left in the field wherein he had stopped to rest. Cornelius Allan felt quite annoyed that his afternoon snooze had been disrupted and got up, intending to investigate.

As he did so the music stopped abruptly. Now he heard voices from the road on the other side of the field. He turned to look and saw two unusual people coming up the well-trod road. The first was a large homely man, some 6 feet 6 inches tall, who was very ugly and had a misshapen body with huge shoulders and an impressive hunch back. He led a donkey which carried his few possessions and had a quarterstaff. He looked strong and healthy despite his disfigurement. He looked friendly.  The woman with him was 5 feet 10 inches tall and about 180 pounds, full figured, a little stocky, with black hair and eyes. She appeared to be about 30 years old, and would fit into the peasant stock in any village. She carried, easily, a back pack. She looked suspiciously at Cornelius Allan.

He got the impression it would not be wise to cross her. He noticed that she seemed to be sniffing in his direction and tested the air often.
The tall hunchback introduced himself': "I am Brazi Tadani, a carter and animal handler. This is my friend and companion, Katlin Kloot. We are traveling south from the city near here, seeking to find a new place to settle down. Kate is shy, but she will be a good friend to have if you prove worthy. We are simple folk and have no quarrel with any that do not try to harm us. Perhaps we could travel on together. There is strength in numbers and I have known there to be bandits and brigands on the roads around these parts. Moments ago I thought I heard music. Did you notice any such thing, sir?"

The young man was quick to reply. "Hello  Brazi Tadani, I am Cornelius Allan, a humble elven wizard from Khosht. Why yes, I did hear music from over there, a moment ago. Do you want to go and check it out?”

As Cormelius Allan made his introduction, the music began again in the distance and three spherical objects came flying over the hedge, smoke pouring out of them as they came. Cornelius Allan and Brazi reacted quickly and nimbly, leaping out of the path of the smoking balls. Katlin was not so fast to respond to the potential danger - she twisted desperately but found herself engulfed by a rapidly billowing brown cloud of smoke. This was compounded when Brazi's staff smashed down violently on one of the globes, shattering it and releasing its entire contents of smouldering incense.

Cornelius was quite safe at that moment but the fog threatened to engulf Brazi, just as it was doing to Katlin. Her eyes teared up and she started spluttering as she dropped to the hard surface of the road as her protective friend suggested. There was no odour to the brown gaseous substance. The music grew louder and faster, instantly penetrating the inner ears of the three travellers.

Of the three travellers, only Katlin was able to make any sense of the music. It codified itself slowly within her comprehension. The musical vibrations ceased to be music but transformed instead into a language just barely comprehensible to the woman. She perceived a broken string of words...'...from harm...must trust...need help...strong still...coming now...gentle...'
Then the voices stopped and the music did not replace it.

In light of what she has just heard, Kate calmed a little, and called after Brazi: " Wait, my love! Do not harm it. It wants help." Her voice was odd sounding, like she was having trouble with human language. Brazi's keen ears heard her though and he slowed his rush and took a somewhat less aggressive stance. He was still prepared to try and brain the unseen assailant if it attacked him again.
At Kate's words, the prison around her and Cornelius evaporated just as quickly as it had formed. Brazi could see them both once more and could tell they were unharmed. Everyone, excepting the donkey, had now breathed in some of the smoke. Not much but it was sufficient. When the music resumed all three of the travellers could make out the words Kate first comprehended as they were repeated as a broken string of words...'...from harm...must trust...need help...strong still...coming now...gentle...'

Six winged being floated without moving their wings over the hedge. They all seemed to be female and have an ethereal, ghostly beauty. There was sadness in their eyes. These creatures were about 3 feet  tall and were dressed in gossamer blue tunics coming down to just above their knees. The tunics had seemingly random white swirls amidst the cerulean blue and these white patches could be observed to slowly move within the blue.
All six were linked through holding hands and the outer two seemed to be offering their hands to Kate and to Cornelius.

 Katlin came cautiously forward and offered her hand. Brazi put down his quarterstaff and joined her, taking her other hand. He offered his free hand to Cornelius. His hump had settled down now. He watched the six strange beings carefully, but offered no thoughts of malice or treachery to them. Caring now, but cautious, he wanted to know what is going on. Cornelius Allan took the hand Brazi offered and asked out loud 'What is going on? What do you want?'

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