Characters in this post
View character profile for: Islana Annora
View character profile for: Shalia Nix
JP with Cindy and White_Caribou
The mountains gave way to hills and land that was far more red than white or green. Under different circumstances seeing as much of the landscape as the young woman had over the past few days would have been interesting, maybe even somewhat exciting, but the landscape changing was now just a reminder of what was being left behind.
Still, Islana hadn't been completely off from what she knew how to do. The redhead had kept track of the direction the group had traveled in since leaving the village. Tried to take note of any significant features of the landscape and, if she found any, the timing between them as best she could. Unfortunately, there hadn't much in significant changes of the landscape, until now. A small wish to have her notebook back, as it had been taken by the village, but without that luxury these notes would just sit in her mind for time being.
While Islana wasn't readily planning an escape, anything could happen and she wanted to be as prepared as possible when it did.
As the group traveled on, the talk was minimal, which was fine but as things began to change Islana finally pondered the question, that many would have asked days ago. With Islana's mind occupied with other things she hadn't bothered but now it seemed like the opportunity was there.
"May I ask, where are we going?"
Through the quiet ride, Shalia was trying to piece together where this road would lead her and Islana on a grander scale. Anything could happen at any time and so much was unsure in their future. It was very bothersome to the woman as she sat trapped in her rampant thoughts, seated with the bearskin coat underneath her.
It was bound to be warmer at their destination, and already the seasons brought out the harsh sunlight to kill the cold and feed the ground, so she made the decision easily. Her summer attire would have to do, because even if it wasn’t the most suited for the formal occasion, it was suited for travel in the heat.
If it wasn’t too miserable for her by that time, perhaps she would wear the special fur when speaking to the emissary…yes, that sounded like a safer bet. Shalia did not know how these desert folk behaved or if they would feel insulted by what she wore underneath. Or maybe her coat would upset them and they preferred skin. Maybe they didn’t give a damn at all because she wasn’t one of them. Could they all just be naked? It didn't seem like a terrible idea in that heat, she presumed with some amusement.
~Not like I’m any stranger to insulting people anyway. A day in the life.~
Thankfully, Islana’s question drew her away from that train of thought before it got too bizarre or entertaining.
“I have an important meeting at the Armat Caravanserai. Last stop before the Desert of Skulls. Can you believe people live out in that arid wasteland? I'd rather take my chances in Ostiarium again.”
Just as expected, she could feel the gradual rise in temperature as they left the familiar terrain behind. Another troubling thing. Further and further from her home.
The sun seemed to burn brighter now and she wished she had the shawl to cover her shoulders. The sunburn would not be pleasant, but neither would overheating and helplessly falling off the horse.
Desert? The sigh that Islana let out was audible. It seemed like another strange coincidence and she was getting a little tired of those.
"No, I can't imagine living there. Personally I prefer to be in the woods. The man that sold me and my friend said he was headed to the desert. To some oasis that was there."
Of course he could have been lying, Islana apparently wouldn't have known.
Being a redhead, meant Islana had fair skin so she was actually grateful for the covering over her head and couldn't help but feel for Shalia. Too much sun was bad enough for her, she couldn't imagine how bad the heat must make the woman in front of her feel.
"Are you going to be alright in the heat?"
It was asked just loud enough for Shalia to hear and with genuine concern which might have seem odd considering everything but it was Islana and while she detested being taken away from her friends and being made a slave again, actual hate was reserved for the relative few that had harmed her or those she cared about. Shaila hadn't done that. The redhead just couldn't bring herself to hate the dark haired woman despite how much she hated the situation.
To her comment about the man who sold her, Shalia's brow raised. She had not pried about him too much yet in fear of striking a nerve with whatever he was getting revenge for, but the desert? It baffled her how anyone would willingly go there.
~May he find the absolute worst awaiting him.~
"What a piss-poor place to run to. If we cross him or that Alcuin man on our travels, I'm sure the men behind me would love to do some hunting for sport." A grin creeped over her lips as she spoke. Beyond sex, truly the one thing to lift their spirits. Not unlike many Helian men she had met. From the sounds of the two who crossed Islana, Shalia would not mind watching them bleed, either.
Shalia hesitated to answer about the heat. Sweat beaded on her forehead and she squinted to shield her vision as she gazed at the reddish earth around them. Lifting the strap of the waterskin up over her head, she took a long gulp before handing it back to Islana. A second one was packed away because temperatures like this made her drink excessively to stay cool, but water preservation was still highly difficult. She didn't know how scarce water would be this far out, and there was barely anything left in the first now. But Islana had hardly eaten or drank and that was dangerous in hot conditions.
"I don't know, but it will take a lot more than the sun to kill me. Haven’t made it this far to surrender that way, even if I feel like a snowman inching too close to a pyre."
To her, dying was thought about often. After everything she endured, the choices she made, death was not an option. Not in a way so meaningless as heat exhaustion. She was meant for greater things.
"How are you holding up? I insist that you at least drink." She asked upon recognizing the gentle nature of Islana's own question. It didn’t sound forced.
It wasn't often Shalia was asked about how she felt unless she was having a side effect to overused magik, injury, or giving input as an advisor.
There was a slight conflict that arose in Islana when Shalia mentioned the men behind them using Alcuin and Stran as hunting practice. On the one hand, she wasn't one for wishing death on others. On the other hand, both men were dangerous to not just her but others and she detested them. Islana could only remedy this by thinking what happens to them happens, it was out of her hands anyway.
"Well, that would likely make all of Arcadia a little safer."
Islana wasn't ready to give more details, she assumed questions about her and what had happened to make enemies of two men like that were coming, eventually. There was no just opening up about it on her own. With as much as the young woman had told Shalia, the walls around her were going back up fast. She was trying to not lose herself and that was the best way the redhead knew how.
Islana took the waterskin and held it for a moment. Her guilt about what had happened with Hunter along with other emotion that just kept piling up, along with the ache in her arm, had made food and drink hit her stomach like a rock. A wish for some of that tea she had shared with Hunter often crossed the woman's mind.
There was a determination in Shalia's voice, that made Islana believe what she said. It was highly doubtful the dark haired woman would die from the heat.
The temperature was climbing and the sun stronger the more they traveled. The young woman was realizing she needed to figure out how to get her stomach to cooperate with eating and drinking more. For right now she lied.
"I'm fine," After all what else could she say.
The water felt cool as it hit her throat and could be felt traveling towards her stomach. It sat there. Islana grew very quiet as her body protested the water, like it was foreign substance.
Shalia scoffed, irritated suddenly at feeling her question basically dismissed.
~Hot, avoiding sustenance, injured, seemingly traumatized, alone. Sounds absolutely fine to me.~
Enough talking then. That little interaction gave her the impression that it was going to be more difficult now for them both. At least they wouldn’t need to dry out their throats much the rest of the way.
Why was she even trying? It never worked with anyone anyway. Just her conscience getting the better of her, making her soft again. Shalia had more important things to think about now than her mopey, magikal pet.
The Armat Caravanserai would soon appear and she did not know what to expect from this emissary…or what they expected from her.