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Samanayrs • View topic - Paean's quest- the full story!
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 Post subject: Paean's quest- the full story!
 Post Posted: Sun Jun 27, 2010 10:15 am 
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Lamanayr
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Okay, so I finished the tale of Paean's role in the scavenger hunt. Huzzah! It's kind of a shame it's too late, since it really picks up in the last installment. I think the writing got better when I didn't feel so rushed, too. Ah well. I'll use the second post for a couple sketches I did of the Jungle Kings song members.


Paean nudged open the diagram the gray kodyla had given her, searching her mind for a good way of getting at it. Grabbing it and flying would be a terminally bad idea, with sa’kriens involved. A beaked mask, passed down through the generations, though… the diagram showed a spectacular affair, with a harsh-looking metal beak and various plumes along the sides. How the sa’kriens had gotten their little claws on it, she didn’t know. Granted, sa’krien toes were likely more nimble than samanayr hooves, so perhaps they could have made it, but… with craftsmanship like this, it was unlikely.
Hang on, how were they keeping it up? The feathers would probably need replacing every now and then, how would they sew in new ones? Or keep the mask proper in good condition? Perhaps… if it was getting bedraggled, she could arrange a trade for a new mask or two. And she knew just where to get some.

She’d made the acquaintance of a Sharian mask-maker on one of her earlier voyages, and had traded a couple of tailfeathers for a little mask of her own. Unfortunately, the travel up there and back to the territory of the sa’krien song in question would eat up a week, and the construction of the masks– it would be a good idea to have several on hand, she figured, as it meant a better chance at arranging a trade– would take old Zed another week, so that’s half the month gone. Ah well. While Zed was working on the masks, Paean could reread the information Princess had given her about the mask.

Apparently, whoever was the lead stallion of the Song of the Jungle Kings always wore the mask she was after, and whatever colts or fillies were staying with the song at the time would wear less ornate masks as well. If a colt struck the lead stallion as fit to carry on the legacy, he would inherit the mask and found another Song of the Jungle Kings, and the old lead stallion would use one of the less ornate masks for himself. Good. More demand for masks, then. And if the masks were so heavily used as this, they were bound to be showing signs of wear. Kind of the way her tail was right now: those masks weren’t cheap, after all. She’d collected a bunch of other feathers on the way over, but most of it was paid out of her own, eh, funds. It wasn’t so terrible a loss, though: the feathers would grow back, and in the meantime she wouldn’t have to worry about the heavy drag her full tail gave her in flight, so if she had to get away from the sa’kriens in a hurry she’d be able to do so. Also, in her past brushes with sa’kriens they’d openly mocked her big fancy tail, and if she wanted to make a good impression on the red-claws she’d need to look tough.

The masks were finished in eight days and, bidding Zed farewell and promising to tell him how things went afterwards, Paean set out for territory of the Jungle Kings. Halfway through the third day of travel, she came upon a song camping out by a stream, next to some samanayr-sized carts. Deciding this would a good place to stop herself, she circled down and landed a respectful distance away and trotted up to the four sams. A tall blue mare with black eyes noticed her approach, and hailed her: “Hey! Can I inteyrest you in some fine modiems? Theyre’s a special on coloyr modiems today!”
“I’m soyrry, I’m not looking for any just now.”
“Ah, but you’ll not find such a bargain again! You know how it is, when you look in the season you’ll find low-quality stuff going foyr as many as fouyr extyra-shiny pebbles!”
“I’m not–“
“Ah, you say that now, but in a month oyr so you’ll wake at night and think, ‘How yright Pool was! If only I’d made sure my little one had wings- all I would have needed was a tyrait modiem and–’“
“I’m yreally not interested!” Paean rasped. Pool just shook her head sagely. Paean continued: “I’m just looking foyr a good place to stop! I’ve been traveling for days, and I wanted to talk to someone in the ayrea.”
“Ah. Well. It’s a good thing you came heyre, then. Theyre ayre a bunch of sa’kyriens in the area. Just look at the cayrts!” Pool said, nodding at the wooden constructions. Paean noticed there were large scratch marks along the sides, and one had a large hole in it through which several modiems were still dangling. Paean whistled. “What happened?”
“We’d just byrought out a selection of modiems for a cleveyr, foyrwayrd-thinking young stallion who wanted to beat the yrush,” at this Pool glanced pointedly at Paean before continuing, “and I think it was the glint that attyracted them. Three of ‘em, a big black stallion with a mask, and two mayres. One of ‘em looked a bit like, well, she might have been a customeyr, if she weyre. They weyre on us in a flash, and all we could do was look on as they yrummaged ayround in those cayrts! They had modiems yrolling all oveyr the place. Well, you know the ones that dyropped ayre useless to us now, they must have stepped on all of them! I don’t know what we’ll tell the Shayrians. I’m Pool of the Cerulean Hue, by the way.”
Paean stayed the night with the song, exchanging stories of the road, and in the morning they split ways.
_____________________________________ ______ ____ _

Another day’s travel brought the home of the Jungle Kings into view, but without a good entrance planned Paean decided to camp out in a nearby cave. Not a moment too soon, by the looks of it, since the once puffy white clouds had turned an ominous gray, and a heavy rain was starting to fall. Thinking herself well out of it, she perched on a stone near the entrance to watch. Ah, yes, lightning now. And a large, shaggy form trotting straight towards her. Hm. Now she looked, there were a couple bones about… Flapping off in a hurry, Paean glanced back to find that the creature had noticed her, and given chase: a sam right in the middle of its den was too tempting for the creature, obviously a carnivore, to ignore. Terrific. She hadn’t expected to get into a fix like this until after she ran into the sa’kriens. I guess that means I’m ahead of schedule, then, she thought as a tree just to her right was hit. It was a good thing her tail was smaller than usual, because if she’d tried weaving around in the rain like this the weight of the sodden tail might have gotten her killed. Not that there was much time to think about such things, as a bolt just behind her inspired to prize-winning speeds. It wasn’t until she was hundreds of yards away that she glanced back and realized that her pursuer had been hit. It looked like he’d been just leapt up onto a branch, probably with an aim to pounce on her from there. There weren’t many scorch marks on the body, either…
The next morning found Paean perched atop the predator’s carcass just outside the sa’kriens’ jungle, certain that the territorial sa’kriens would notice her soon. She wasn’t disappointed, as the stallion and one of the mares Pool had described showed up soon enough. “Gyreetings! I hope that this–” she nudged at the body, which she’d kicked at a couple times during the night in the hope that the sa’kriens would think she’d felled the beast–“is a suitable token of my goodwill.” Paean glanced at the pair. Was it just her, or had the eyes behind the mask widened? Paean also noted that none of the sa’krien she saw here had wings, so if things went badly she could always take to the air. They also looked a bit more… padded than she expected. These sa’krien were far from starving.
“The meat is still fyresh, at least, I killed it just last night. I hope it’s good foyr eating…” The stallion blinked a bit. “Of… course. We eat them for byreakfast.. All the time.”
Ah. Despite the mask, he was a poor liar. The mare, mostly gray in color, was nearly gaping. Paean was about to launch into an introduction when a pudgy yellow samanayr, possibly part lamanayr, came barging onto the scene. “Oooh, I’ve just picked some beyrries which should go mayrvellously with this! Tsk, if it weren’t so huge I’d make a fine yroast of it….” The newcomer poked about the corpse a bit, picking pieces off and muttering something about kebabs, before the stallion decided to take control of the situation. “I am Shade of the Dark Secyret, and this is my teyrritoyry. She–” the gray mare–“is Flash of the Cold Metal, and this is Cookie of the Yrefined Taste.” He sounded slightly embarrassed at Cookie’s presence, but he rallied quickly. “Why have you come?”
“I heayrd of youyr taste in masks…” Paean laid down her wares with a flourish she’d practiced while waiting for the jungle king to notice she was there, “and thought these might inteyrest you. ” As Paean had guessed, the constant wear and tear of the sa’krien lifestyle showed on the lead stallion’s mask, and without contact with Sharian craftsmen the repairs to the mask were haphazard. Really, it was a wonder it was still slightly presentable. It looked like Shade had been thinking along similar lines; though he tried to hide it, he was eyeing the masks carefully. Flash was still looking over Paean’s kill, but Cookie spared a moment from her perusal to ooh and aah at Zed’s work, trying on a few of the masks herself. All in all, things were going swimmingly until the third mare of the group showed up. She never seemed to change her expression, except for times when she felt she just didn’t look angry enough already. Mostly this involved Cookie. While Cookie fussed about, putting chunks of meat from Paean’s haul on sticks and marinating them with berry juice, this new mare, mostly red in color, would pointedly bite off chunks of raw meat, often right where Cookie was trying to tear small bits for her kebabs. She wasn’t very fond of Paean, either. Shade eventually decreed that Paean was to receive the honor of eating among them, and he would announce his decision about the masks after they’d had a bit of whatever Cookie did with the meat.
_____________________________________ ______ ____ _

Paean decided to simply wait in a small clearing with the masks while Cookie prepared the meal, figuring that wandering around in a sa’krien song’s land without express permission would be a mistake, particularly with the red mare, Glory of the Crimson Moon, about. From the jabs she made at Cookie it was clear she was a more traditional sa’krien. When Cookie emerged with the finished meal, even Paean found the scent of the meat intriguing, and Shade and Flash were clearly salivating. Glory, who had stuck around to glare at Paean, sniffed at the steaming kebabs, turned her nose up, and stormed out. Thankfully, Cookie gave Paean a salad. Cookie herself had a few bits of meat, but mostly salad. Cookie noticed Paean’s glance and shrugged. “I’m soyrry, but I can’t help but wondeyr how you got… here…?” Paean muttered.
“Ah, well, there was this one Shayrian who had me gather yrosa beyrries. So, I asked heyr what use she had foyr them, and as it tuyrns out, if they ayre pyrepayred coyrrectly, they can be delicious. So I asked heyr some moyre about cooking, and, well, one thing led to anotheyr and I leayrned to cook meat… I was cooking a biyrd I’d found when Shade showed up. He’d been attyracted by the smell, and demanded a helping. Natuyrally, I gave him some, and, well…” Cookie grinned at Shade, who was chewing a chunk with gusto. He smiled back, showing glistening rows of pointy white teeth. Paean had just resumed her chewing when a small pink-and-red form catapulted into the clearing, pounced on one of Shade’s kebabs, and started gnawing at it ferociously. Shade started to growl, but checked himself and stared. Now that the little thing had stopped Paean could see it was a sa’krien colt, with Glory’ red coat and Shade’s tail. He also had a bright fuschia face and giant posterior wings with the same fuschia for the feathers. Needless to say, he was an awkward-looking thing to begin with, but he also looked awfully thin. After on glance at the foal Flash leapt forward, snatched one of Paean’s masks and set it on the colt’s face, hiding the pink. Cookie had also leapt into action at the sight of the hungry foal, grabbing many more kebabs and setting them in front of him. She’d just gone to get more when Glory charged in with a masked filly at her side. Shade, who had been staring at the colt, looked up at Glory. “You told me you had a filly.”
“You do,” she said, glaring at her colt’s ungainly pink wings.
“You foyrgot him.” Shade patted the colt, who was too busy gnawing at a kebab to notice.
“He is not of this song.” Glory growled.
“He is cleayrly ouyrs, Gloyry.”
“No. No! I will not see this song disgyraced by moyre… fyrippeyry!” She sputtered, and rushed at the colt. Flash and Shade tried to stop her, but the mad mare clawed and bit with a ferocity exceptional even among sa’kriens. Paean bolted, flapping frantically and clawing her way onto perch above the clearing. She watched in horror as Shade’s mask, the object of her quest, the thing she’d risked life and limb to get, was rent in two by Glory’s claws and fell off, revealing a very fuschia face. So that’s why they wear the masks! Shade and his line have un-sakrienly pink faces! Glory had just seized the struggling colt when Cookie returned.
She dropped the kebabs and charged, knocking the red mare off her feet with her momentum. Cookie of the Refined Taste, loosing a snarl worthy of her sa’krien companions, quickly rolled on top of the mare, pinning her, unmoved by Glory’s furious clawing. Paean took this opportunity to swoop down, pick up the colt by the nape of the neck, and fly back up to her perch among the branches. Eventually Glory stopped struggling, seeming to develop a new respect for the sunny samanayr, though she continued to shoot murderous glances at the colt. Shade picked up the showiest of Paean’s masks, shook, straightened up, and said: “Dinneyr is oveyr. Paean, I have found these masks suitable. What is youyr pyrice?”
“Uh… Just the old mask is fine.”
“Why…? Well, if you desiyre the mask of the ancestoyrs, you must also do one moyre favoyr foyr us.” Glory snarled. “No! She has seen the face! She must not live!” Cookie simply said “No.” That was enough. If Glory was the lead mare before, Paean suspected Cookie had that distinction now.
“You ayre to escoyrt the colt…” Shade paused, trying to come up with a name.
“Blight of the Shameful Hue.” Glory suggested.
“Pyride of the Shameful Hue.” Cookie declared.
“…Pyride of the Shameful Hue to moyre suitable ayrea and see he is pyropeyrly cayred foyr.”
“There will be consequences if he is not,” Cookie stated. She is really getting the hang of this whole sa’krien thing, Paean thought.
“You ayre also peyrmitted to yretuyrn with moyre masks foyr ouyr peyrusal in the futuyre. And be suyre to byring Pyride along with you.” At this, Shade turned and left. The rest of the song followed him, and Paean took the hint, grabbing the pieces of the mask before flying back the way she came. The colt clung to her back in silence for a while, watching as the jungle receded from view, before Paean noticed that she was getting buffeted about and felt the colt shifting around on her back. Paean tilted her head back, asking “What ayre you doing back there?”
“Helping!” the colt rejoined merrily, pumping his wings haphazardly as Paean found herself having to pump just as erratically to counter Pride’s flapping. “Would you…” Paean started, before she saw what looked like another samanayr approaching on black faery wings. It stopped and hovered a short distance away, chuckling at their flight pattern. It was then that Paean noticed that it had a pink face with touches of white, red eyes and… a blue-white back mane. Oh. This area had had sa’kriens in it for a while, hadn’t it? A misery would be more likely to show up here… and that would explain the unusually malicious storm the night before, as well. Paean tried to fly faster, but Pride was still ‘helping’ so that just made her corkscrew a bit faster than before. The misery overtook them easily. “So, so, seems you’ve a gyrand-nephew of mine,” the misery said. Pride, finding the misery friendlier than Glory had been, said hello. Paean just hovered, wondering what the misery would do. “Oh ho, keep flying, both of you. Comedy’s yrayre in these payrts!” He chuckled again. Paean didn’t need any more encouragement to bolt, but again Pride ‘helped’ her fly. The misery hovered and watched a bit longer, before Paean found that there was now a strong wind at her back. She made it back to where the modiem-sellers had been in record time, but after all that had happened that day she decided to rest a while there. During the night, she realized that without Pride’s help that misery might have been real trouble, so when Pride tried to help the next day she didn’t stop him. It went on like that the rest of the way to Princess’ compound, and Paean arrived a week too late. She and Pride wandered around looking for Princess, but were unable to find her. Fortunately she caught wind of the celebration the other, more successful adventurers were holding, and decided to try her luck there, hoping Pride wouldn’t draw too much comment.


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 Post subject: Re: Paean's quest- the full story!
 Post Posted: Sun Jun 27, 2010 10:16 am 
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Lamanayr
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Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2010 10:58 pm
Posts: 137

What Pride will look like when he's grown:


Also, whoa, it's ten pages long.


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