An Inauspicious Beginning, Part One

      Today’s snippet, titled “An Inauspicious Beginning”, is a piece I wrote about my current character, Ava Blue-Elk, to sort of demonstrate her experiences with a major in-game event.
      Be forewarned, there are mature themes and naughty language below.
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      Ava hung back, watching the others assemble before the gates. She was chewing on her lower lip and had to consciously force herself to stop. Sugar’s ears twitched, the muscles beneath her cream-colored hide shifting. Honey was just as anxious, lifting and setting down her forefeet as if she were making ready to bolt.
      “Settle, girls,” she said softly. Usually, her voice was balm to their agitated nerves, but this morning it was as if they could not hear her over the thrum of their own hearts.
      Her horse, Sailla, was apathetic; blissfully – or stubbornly – ignorant of whatever danger the others felt. Behind her, from within the two massive gates, Ava could hear the approach of the next-to-last member of the charter. She glanced over her shoulder to watch a handsome young man with thick, dark hair approach. He sat proud astride a beautiful destrier, leading four assorted mules, each of whom was laden with his belongings.
      Seems enough for a whole family, she thought, lifting a brow as he passed. Poor beasts shouldn’t be quite so- Erastil’s Rage! Ava dove aside as first one, then all four of the man’s asses reared up, screaming. From where she sat in the dirt, she watched slack-jawed as he masterfully reined in his mount even as the stallion began to roll its eyes in fear. With a decisive gesture and a single syllable, he calmed the team. In the space of a heartbeat or two he had them fully under his control and had prevented them from bolting and scattering his many belongings to the wind.
      What sort of sorcerer is he? Ava wet her lips, climbing to her feet. He was not like any sorcerer she had ever read about – their ilk was usually thin and fragile or chubby and soft. Not – she swallowed thickly, wiping her moist palms upon her vest – tall and strong and virile with arms like carved marble and eyes like emeralds and- Stop it! For the Spirits’ sake, girl, you’re acting like you’ve never seen such a good-looking fellow before.
      “That was well done,” someone said as the man dismounted. “All the animals are acting strange out here.”
      “Apologies. That, our fault.” A tall woman with exotic features and a feathered headdress spoke up. “Rouff, go.”
      Ava hardly had a chance to wonder who “we” referred to, so busy was her brain as it tried to take in a thousand details at once. A chuffing sound at the woman’s feet caught her attention and Ava realized that a large puma crouched just behind. The woman thrust her palm down and then out, a signal to the cat, who reluctantly moved away.
      “I am Zahavah. My companion, name Rouff.”
      “Well met, Zahavah,” the handsome man said. “No harm done. I am Gavriil Matav.”
      She nodded, though her chin hardly dipped an inch. There was pride in the set of her shoulders, a defiant sort that spoke volumes for her character. This woman would not be cowed, Ava decided, but she seems as uncomfortable here as I am… Zahavah, what a beautiful name…
      The others began making introductions, their easy comraderie intimidating to her. She felt her tongue swelling in her mouth and just knew she would make an ass of herself. What does some country mouse have to say that people like this – city people, adventurers – would find interesting?
      Ava, clad in her well-worn leathers with an old bow across her back,a dented old flask in hand, and her thick-coated mountain-bred horse, felt distinctly uncivilized in the presence of these six, even though two who were at least as wild as she.
      The handsome young man had called himself Gavriil Matav. He carried himself with all the confidence and poise of one of the princes in the fables Granma had told her as a child.
      The priest named himself Erin, and he too was quite fine to look upon. She had never met a proper holy man before – a civilized priest – and his manner was both detached and yet full of vim and vigor. Ava met his eye but once and found herself feeling that she he had weighed her worthiness and found her somewhat lacking.
      Zahavah did not say much; Ava could tell that the woman was watching for her cat from the corner of her eyes. They had a bond that went beyond mere words and Ava was intrigued. She wondered if it was something the druidess could teach her or if it were somehow supernatural.
      There was a young woman even shorter than Ava among them; a blonde warrior with red streaks in her beautiful mane. Lexi named herself a paladin and had a military bearing much like Gavriil. When she spoke, Ava was unable to look away – she had never seen any one so pure and golden and good. The way her very presence captivated people made Ava a little nervous. If Lexi had seemed anything other than utterly benevolent, Ava would have been worried.
      Rachel was an exquisite creature in silken finery. She seemed every bit the enchantress from those childhood fables, with her long dark hair and cool, reserved manner. A sorceress, armed with a bow she seemed very comfortable with, Rachel was eloquent and had obviously been formally educated. Ava could hardly meet her eye for fear of saying something stupid.
      The sixth member of the charter was a wonder to her – a halfing! Ava had read about their kind but she had never actually met one. Ryven Wanderwood was a wild little thing with more muscles than even Gavriil – or so she guessed, for Ryven went shirtless to feel the sun on his glistening pectorals and Gavriil was clad in steel. Though he did not say much to the other members of the charter, he muttered to his pony from time to time. Ava was not sure, but she thought he called it “Buttercup” which seemed to her, a better name for a cow than a pony to be ridden into battle.
      “I do believe, before we set out, that it would behoove us to discuss our individual strengths and weaknesses, useful skill sets, sketch out a strategic marching order for the road and to map out a general camp site. Additionally, we should agree on the watch order ahead of time, so there are no squabbles come nightfall.”
      Ava nodded like the village idiot watching a flim-flam man, her mouth slightly open. Snapping it shut, she glanced around self-consciously. No one was paying even the slightest attention to her as they began hashing out the fine details of their expedition. Try as she might, Ava just could not seem to focus on the decisions being made – so many voices at once, so many dissenting opinions, so much discussion. She just tried to remain inconspicuous and be as helpful as possible.
      Eventually, though there were still many items on Gavriil’s list yet to address, the charter gathered its goods, mounted its mounts, and took to the road.
      “For better or worse,” Ava told herself, scouting ahead a bit, outpacing even Zehavah and Rouff, who had been assigned to the head of the column as well. “There’s no turning back now.”
      Which was, of course, utter tripe. Still, she had made her choice and cast her stones – if she was going to get her family’s land back, she would have to begin by helping the Charter.
      …the Charter… Hmm. We need a name. A fierce name to strike fear into the hearts of the bandits… Like, The Gripping Vipers or the… the Iron… um… somethings…
      Stroking her braid thoughtfully, Ava continued on, thinking.

Signed, Josie
Note: Image is “Bon Voyage!” by superdecor from SXC.hu

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