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[Fiction] Carver - To Haven (AU)


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{This is set in the universe of Earthdawn. It is a fantasy/horror setting from Living Room Game .}

A lone traveller trudges wearily through the bleak and blasted wasteland, along a seldom used and trail. Her form obscured by a black cloak, her hair hidden by a hood, but her face is easily seen, even in the dim twilight, and it shines with the brightness and innocence of an angel.

Night is approaching swiftly, but her destination lay just ahead, and despite her penchants, it would be best to have people around her once it grows dark. As she approaches the huge city, she inspects its fortifications. She's never seen a city so large that did not have a wall of some kind to protect it, save perhaps Barter Town. But the builders of this place were arrogant and foolish. They thought that spells and magic alone could hold the horrors at bay.

But one small section of the city, a mere corner of its vast expanse, was surrounded by walls, though they were made of wood rather than stone. Carved out of the decaying hide of Parlainth, the town of Haven held everyone that lived for miles around. Not that there weren't things in Parlainth itself. Far from it, it was teeming with...'things'. Even as she watched, several of the broken building's shadows were moving in a very un-shadow like fashion, as if attempting to reach beyond the bounds set for them by the dying light. She quickened her pace.

The woman reached the gates to Haven an hour past sunset, and stopped outside of them. After evening, they were closed, but this soon after dark there was still a chance she could get in. Because staying out here, this close to Parlainth after dark, was a death sentence. She called out a challenge in the Dwarven tounge, "Hey! Can someone open the gates?"

From one of the watch towers next to the gate, a high-pitched voice replied, "Perhaps, but it's dark out there, and we'd like some proof that you're untainted. Come into the light, and give us some art." The guard fluttered out of his tower carrying a lantern, moving quickly back and forth in front of the gate, providing no good target to this stranger, in case she was hostile. He was less than two feet tall, colored a bright green and gold, and his wings were like the wings of a giant insect. His flitting didn't bother the woman at all, though, as she'd seen enough windlings in her time to be unimpressed by it. She moved into the light of his lamp, and moved to the wooden wall beside the gate.

She paused to considder the grain of the gate. It had been used for this a few times before, and was weathered more than the raw timber that she preferred to work with, but it held character, and it spoke to her of the troubled times this outpost town had seen. She inspected one particular set of gouges with great curiousity. The looked like they'd been made by the giant claws of some monster or another. It spoke to her. It told her of the fierce battle fought by the guards here. Thinking of what that time must have been like, she pulled back the sleeve of her cloak, and settled in to work.

Her hand changed, shifting from a smooth and feminine form to the wicked curved claws of a beast. The windling, looking on, had seen this enough times that he didn't immediately call for aide at this transformation. Instead, he watched as she used her claws to carve around the gash marks in the wall. She moved quickly, precisely, and with greater skill than many of the people who passed through his gate. Obviously, her art meant more to her than a simple way to prove her freedom from the taints of the horrors. This was an artist, and the care she put into her efforts showed.

Finally, she was finished, and a small mural framed the gashes on the walls. They remained untouched, but around them was depicted a scene all too familiar to him, showing a shadowy beast attacking the guard post, and dying to the bow he had on his back, even as it took great chunks out of the wall. It was a very well rendered scene, and incorporated the monster's marks as if they had been put there for that sole purpose. He was impressed, and he said so. "You've heard of our fight with the horror Skitterbug, then?"

The woman, still cloaked by her hood, gave him an enigmatic smile. "After a fashion."

"Well then, welcome to Haven, fair lady. If there's anything I can do to help you with come morning, when my shift ends, you have but to name it. Speaking of names, mine is Philleppe Windrunner, though my friends call me Phil. What's your name?"

Still smiling, and standing just outside the still closed gates, the woman answers, "My friends call me Carver. You can as well, if you'd open the gate."

The windling grins back as he rubs the back of his head, and he flutters over the gate and behind it. A moment later, the great wooden door opens a crack, allowing Carver into town.

She passes through silently, and the windling pushes it closed behind her. "Where can I go to stay the night, Phil?"

The windling points out a nearby building that's leaking both sound and noise into the otherwise empty streets. "The Travelers Rest is probably your best bet. It's not the only Inn in town, but it's the nicest."

With a nod of thanks, Carver heads for the inn.

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