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[IC] Chapter 2-1b: Was It a Dream? (Merri)
#1
Interlude in Pelor's Temple
Present: Merri.
May contain spoilers for others.


The arcane warrior started with a sudden gulp of air from a dream of blackest pitch. Or was it a dream? A horrid chill that bit through flesh into the bone. Weakness. Frustration. Disorientation. Magic escaping the mind like steam from a jar after throwing off the lid. Then a bitter escort back towards what was believed to mean safety, only to be engulfed in biting darkness. What fell on her from the shrouds of darkness? What knocked her unconscious and tore her flesh until she felt no more pain? She couldn't tell.

Just as the involuntary convulsion of her muscles brought her up into a sitting position, tough but gentle palms pushed her back. For a moment she thought she saw a chamber lit with a thousand stars; all reflecting the light of the sun that somehow entered the chamber. But then all became a shroud of dusk again. Warmth. A sensation of light caressing her skin. Full bodied incense burning next to her ears. As if she could smell with her ears. A dozen daggers pierced through her throbbing brain. The headache suppressed everything else. Someone screamed in the distance, several times. Cursed in ancient Elvish. Sang cradle songs, voice quivering in pain. The same cradle songs she heard herself from her mother. The voice was distant yet familiar. All the words, all the songs, as if they were recited from her past life. Who knew the same cradle songs? The same Elvish curses?

Strength returning. Frowns loosening. Awareness rising. Confidence in the Weave building up with every passing minute.

She was blind but all the other senses sharpened and supplemented her loss. A voice of crimson velvet called out to her; it was like the wind building up frills on the surface of running water. It was distant yet reminded her of something. Someone of a life past. An old acquaintance, probably someone dead long ago, greeting her in Elysium. Merrinna. Yes, the name rang a bell. Merrinna, she called again, as if introducing herself. Yes, a familiar name for the familiar voice. Merrinna, once again, but no, this name did not match the voice.

The shroud of dusk elevated and the bloody orange of dawn took over. The sunlight pulsed faintly, in a slow, regular cycle. Once every twenty minutes or so. There she came. Flowing golden hair, emerald eyes, regal elven clothing. A sparring tunic studded with so many clean-cut emeralds it was worth, like, an iron golem's weight in platinum. An elegant blade, slightly curved, like a scimitar, but easily beyond the size of an average longsword. She looked down on herself. Mithril shirt. Leather pants. A trustworthy greatsword. Flowing elvish runes snaking all along the blade, proudly proclaiming to be the property of Merrinna Starsong.

Merrinna. Of course.

And this other one, this blatantly rich elf approaching her in the middle of a shady glen. Irildë. Irildë Goldenhair, of House Emeraldleafe, who shall become the arcane mistress of the Council of Sea Jewel in centuries if not millenia.

"Raise your blade. Breath. Feel your magic resonating within. Soul resonating with steel. Enhanced. Fortified. Reverberated. Now reach out to me. Reach out with your soul. Feel my aura. Feel my energy. Feel my weakness. Wait for the next resonation. Let loose."

They spent the next three-hundred-and-something days in this suspended reality, light pulsating throughout the day and night, from deserts to icy tundra, from the depths of dwarven mines to the empty space among the stars. Sparring with steel and soul, Irildë gradually planted the ways of the Eldritch Knights in her soul. Until finally--

"You learned well. I trust my faith in you will be justified by your steps on the path you chose. Now return to your self."

Merrinna started with a sudden gulp of air from a dream of crimson lights. Around her, a thousand candles lit the sanctuary of Pelor's temple, reflected by the large golden disk on the ceiling, and the waves of platinum sunrays running in all directions. She spot her trusty greatsword and her weathered extradimensional haversack at the opposite wall. Next to them, a new outfit was neatly folded into a square package. Settled in the rear recesses of her brain she recalled some information she thought she'd never learned; that she was expected at the Council Chamber in four hours. She felt a slightest hint of breeze caressing her skin from tip to toe. It was just then that she looked at herself and realised that in his solitude she's been covered by a linen sheet, no more.

OOC - Merri awoke in the Temple of Pelor in the early morning hours. You are free to take over her actions from here. All the changes in your equipment (i.e. the diff between your past equipment and level 8 wealth) can be treated storywise as gifts from your new mentor.
#2
Merrinna lay there for awhile longer trying to pull together fragments of memory of her time in the home of the Seldarine. Despite her best efforts, the fragments dispersed into the air like dust. She knew it was an impossible task. The mortal mind was not meant to hold such knowledge. And mortal she was once again, for the warm glow that had constantly filled her in the afterlife was now replaced with the cold chill of mortality. She had to fight off the wave of anger and resentment flowing through her for being pulled from her eternal reward. It was her own willingness, no, her feeling of business unfinished that had allowed her to be brought back. It was a rare event that an unwilling soul was torn from its Plane. She held on to a thread of her training to center herself once more. Once emotion was removed from the equation, she could see the truth for what it was. It was one of the first things learned in her semi-monastic community.

Resigned to go on living, Merri had to force her limbs to move. Every joint ached from long inactivity and rigor mortis. She dragged the linen sheet off and forced herself into a sitting position. The room seemed to spin for a few moments. The jumble of memories only made it worse. She opened her mouth to call for someone but only a dry croak came out. Looking around, she spotted a clay pitcher on a small table close by. She slides off the cold stone until her feet touch the floor. There she stayed in that leaning position for a moment to ensure that her recently revived legs could hold her weight. Feeling a little more confident, she walked stiffly to the table to investigate the pitcher. There was a cup nearby. It should be water and not ceremonial oil, she figured as she lifted the pitcher to fill the cup. Water it was and refreshing to boot.

Feeling somewhat revived, Merri moves to investigate her belongings. She finds her dress neatly folded nearby. It was cut in similar style to the ceremonial robes worn by the wizards of her community, though shorter and more snug in places to allow for sword fighting. Few wore such a garment as hers for few chose her path of sword and spell. Then she slung her baldric over her shoulder and hefted her bag went off to look for nourishment. It felt like she hadn't eaten in ages.
#3
Merri enters the prayer area and spots a cleric in one of the benches that are placed in arcs around the central Sun altar.

The men spots her and rises to a greeting.

"So you've returned, praise Pelor," he says then shows her to the kitchen were a middle aged wench provides her bread, fruits, cheese, and a flagon of cider.

Two kids (girls of age 10 by Merri's guess) rush in through the rear entrance, screaming in excitement, chased by a halfling in studded leather, index fingers raised high and emitting a "frightening" roar. The girls dash past the elf without slowing down but the halfling skids to a sudden stop, lowering his arms. Blushing, he readjusts his armour and the belt featuring two stilettos, then nods briefly.
"Mistress," he says, then scurries around her to resume the cheerful chase.
#4
Merri follows the cleric a bit stiffly at first. As she continues on, her muscles and joints warm up allowing her to transition to the lithe walk elves are known for. Ordinarily, she would be able to feel the differences in the rugs as they changed from the newer softer for the upper class, the the old and ragged for the lower. This time it all felt rough on her feet. The fabric of her dress scratched at her skin. When they finally arrived, sitting on a hard stool at the table, she ate but could not find the flavor in her food. She chewed mechanically, staring off into nowhere.

The sudden arrival of the children caught her by surprise, interrupting whatever was going on in her head. She found herself smiling at the sounds of childhood laughter. The cheerful noise pushed away the depression with a reminder that there was much joy to be found here as well. There was still purpose here and that once it was fulfilled, then she would truly deserve her eternal reward. It was then that she started to notice the sharpness of the cheese and the sweetness of the cider. Forgetting her stoic nature for now, she turned to the servant and gave her a smile. "Now what was all that ruckus about?"
#5
The wench turns away, muttering shyly but the elf can't fail noticing the hint of smile at the corner of her lips.

"Master Pippin has just returned from the wilderness. They always play this when he returns; the two ghilly-ghilly monsters chase the girls who flee screaming. He catches them, sooner or later, and then merciless tickling ensues."

As if on cue, a sharp scream is heard from outside the kitchen, then another.

"He got 'em." the wench says with an embarrassed smile.
#6
Merri's smile broadens at the sound of the "capture." "Ah, the sound of a child's laughter. Is there no better sound? I admit the sound of it has put life back into my heart. So, tell me of the halfling? I sense some interesting tale to be told."
#7
"He's a stout little fella, Mistress. When I got to know him he was sweet like an immature kid on the surface but bitter deep within. He had a passion to protect the innocent, especially girls. And," she chuckles, "he wore that fancy leather skirt with yellow stripes, paired with a loose red shirt. But time has changed him. I served a company of adventurers back then. On one occasion they returned and I could see a sparkle of change in his eyes. He went all tickling with the girls as usual but he was... relieved... as if he'd just put down a heavy burden. Over time I figured it could be related to that new brooch of his. Eventually he became a fierce fighter, a master of his trade. I've never heard of nobody better with a pair of kitchen knives than him. Even Rael the leader had lost to him three out of four spars. And with responsibility and profession he became a bit more mature and more balanced in his habits. He started wearing that armour of his, but even now he has sentimental moments when he returns to the skirt and shirt. Retired from adventuring, he serves as the cook here and helps me make a living for the girls."
#8
Merri mulled over the woman's tale while nibbling on some apple slices. She sensed that the woman knew more, but it was the halfling's tale to tell, not hers. "That sounds like a long, interesting tale. By the way, please call me Merri." Merri was a little surprised at herself. She never would have offered up such a personal form of address with any stranger, much less a human servant before her... The rest of that thought had to go unfinished for fear of slipping back into that darkness. "And your name? Those girls. Are they yours?"
#9
"Mine? Gods, no. And yes. Kaera and Aereny are granddaughters of mine. And me be Kelna. Looking after them until my son and that wife of his return from that service."

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#10
"Oh, I see. Which service would that be?" Merri could still hear screams and laughter coming from the children. She resisted the urge to jump in and chase them, too. "I'm not from around here. Actually, I'm not even sure where here is." It was a sting to the pride to ask such questions, but not knowing was even worse. Couldn't let pride get in the way.

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