The High road from Freeport.   Posted by TheDudeAbides.Group: 0
TheDudeAbides
 GM, 279 posts
Wed 25 Jun 2014
at 00:29
Re: The High road from Freeport
    The group passed under the Freeport gate and onward into the night. The sounds of insects chirping, frogs croaking and the repetitive pounding of horse hooves on the packed dirt blended together as they put distance between themselves and the capitol city. The night was chilly and the group was tired; many had traveled far to answer the High Priestesses call. Several miles out of the city the group happened upon a grove of trees centered around a spring of fresh water. A small clearing provided them ample room to lay down bed rolls and start a fire. The horses could be high-lined to the nearby trees with enough slack to water themselves and graze on the lush vegetation. The group agreed this was a favorable location and headed off the road into the trees. - 5 miles out of Freeport.

2nd day of the 2nd month: 12:15 AM.

This message was last edited by the GM at 00:30, Wed 25 June 2014.

Jada
 player, 56 posts
Wed 25 Jun 2014
at 02:54
Re: The High road from Freeport
Jada wore a frown as he departed through the gates behind the others. It wasn't that he would miss the city, he simply didn't like the structure of his day being interrupted by other's rashness. The evening was for the contemplation of the day and finding rest to renew one's self for the following day. It was that way for many good reasons and ignoring those reasons was foolish.

At first he rode stiff and was jarred by Blanche's stride, but after a short distance he began to ease into riding. Soon Jada paid little attention to it and focused on the road ahead. He wasn't sure of the animal's night vision and wanted to avoid injuring it by steering it into a deep hole or large rock. Occasionally a yawn would escape him, but he otherwise seemed untroubled by the cold night air.

When the others finally decided to stop for the night, Jada followed their lead with securing the horses. Once he was sure Blanche was settled, he picked a spot opposite the horses and spread out his thick blanket. Setting his bag down as a pillow, he laid down and folded his blanket over himself. A moment later he shut his eyes, obviously trying to sleep. Although judging by his frown, it was not coming nearly as quickly as he would have liked.
Lalita Chandra
 player, 83 posts
Wed 25 Jun 2014
at 03:54
Re: The High road from Freeport
Once the group had settled on a place to camp, Lalita gave Apollo a small pat on the nose. "Rest up guppy!" she glubbed. "We have a long journey ahead of us." After securing the horses, the fish-kin did her best to help the others set up camp. However when it came to sleep, instead of lying down on the ground like the rest of them, Lalita decided to slip into the spring. A sigh of relief escaping her lips as she stood there in the body of water, completely relaxed and at ease. "I may not get another chance like this...so i might as whale enjoy it while i can..." she thought as she decided to float on her back.

She gazed up at the stars. Wow. How beautiful they were. No matter how many times she saw them, the fish could never get over at how fintasy like the sky was at night. When the sun fell and the moon rose, that was Lalita's favorite time of day. Everything and everyone was quiet, even the voices! It was a time where the girl could finally hear her own thoughts and reflect on her life for a bit. Not that, that mattered to her really. Just the silence was good enough.

She stifled a yawn. Looks like she was getting a little sleepy as well, but she needed to stay up. What if the group decided to have her take the first watch? In that case she needed to just suck it up and keep her eyes out for anything dangerous or fishy. Just as long as they didn't ask her to get out of the spring.

This message was last edited by the player at 03:55, Wed 25 June 2014.

Lynessa Crescent
 player, 70 posts
Wed 25 Jun 2014
at 04:06
Re: The High road from Freeport
It had been a short ride, but by the time they came upon the grove Lynessa was as ready as anyone to make camp. The clearing was more than just as good a place as any. The trees offered some protection from the wind, and the spring would give them and their mounts fresh drinking water.

Once the horses had been secured and brushed, and other necessities seen to, she spread out her own bedroll. She was careful to put hers as far away from Jada's as possible. With that finished, she stretched her tired muscles. Heirloom and her armor were starting weigh on her. She slipped the great-sword off her back and placed it next to her own bedroll. She looked forward to freeing herself of the weight of her breastplate, and to letting the chilly breeze air her out a little.

“Lucinda, would you mind helping me with my armor? The straps are on the shoulders, and can be a chore to loosen on my own,” she asked, pulling her cloak aside to reveal the leather straps holding her breastplate together. She paused a moment, and watched Lalita slip into the spring. ”What is she doing...” Lynessa wondered. “Uh... If...” she shook her head to refocus her thoughts. “If you could loosen them for me, I'd appreciate it.”
Lucinda Eravyn
 player, 141 posts
 Elf
 Alchemist
Wed 25 Jun 2014
at 04:09
Re: The High road from Freeport
Lucinda blushed a little as she got out of her saddle and walked over to the girl. She examined the suit of armor. It was of rather simple make compared to quite a few of the alchemical contraptions she had used in the dark on a nightly basis. It would actually be quite trivial for her to figure out how to remove it. She nodded and awkwardly walked over. She was unsure of why Lynessa had chosen her for such an important duty, perhaps she realized that the elf was good enough to handle it? That would make sense of course, but maybe not enough. She bowed slightly as she walked over and loosened the straps.
Devi McCain
 player, 53 posts
Thu 3 Jul 2014
at 14:46
Re: The High road from Freeport
Devi let out a large yawn, her mouth gaping open larger than one would expect for longer than one might as well. She was ready for bed, but that didn't mean there wasn't things to do before she got there. She made sure take the saddle and blanket from Obe and brush him down well, she also checked to make sure she would have enough room on his lead to lay if he wanted and that there was plenty of feed for him. With one last pat she left Obe where he would spend the night and moved over to the campsite and spread the blanket out on the ground near to Jada, though not close enough to get into each others way if they needed to move quickly. Looking about she shrugged, the others all seemed to be sleeping or attempting to, "Even if one of them is doing so in the water." which meant that no one had considered the watch, who was taking it first or the order of it. She sighed and looked about at the others a moment before speaking up loud enough for them all to hear, "I'll take first watch, second can go to Jada, Third will go to Jerischo, fourth will go to Lalita and final watch will be Lynessa. Each watch will last for one hour and ten minutes, Any objections?"

This message was last edited by the GM at 14:46, Thu 03 July 2014.

Lucinda Eravyn
 player, 142 posts
 Elf
 Alchemist
Wed 25 Jun 2014
at 11:42
Re: The High road from Freeport
"U-um....yes...I-I would like a watch please..." She didn't want to be a burden for anyone...and this was a perfect way for her to show she wouldn't be a burden.
Lucinda Eravyn
 player, 145 posts
Wed 25 Jun 2014
at 12:23
Re: The High road from Freeport

This message was deleted by the player at 12:51, Wed 25 June 2014.

Jada
 player, 58 posts
Wed 25 Jun 2014
at 12:26
Re: The High road from Freeport
Without opening his eyes, Jada responded. "I have a question and an objection. How am I to know when an hour and ten minutes have passed? And why are we only planning to rest for four hours and forty minutes a piece? That does not seem reasonable for a journey spanning most of Linness."

This message was last edited by the player at 12:26, Wed 25 June 2014.

Lalita Chandra
 player, 84 posts
Wed 25 Jun 2014
at 12:47
Re: The High road from Freeport
"Oh!" Lalita suddenly let out as she stood up in the spring and raised a fin, like some overzealous school girl. "I have a question too hawkfish! Can i take the last shift? That way you guppies can get in a few more hours of sleep~ Glub."

The girl didn't want to say it outright, but she had a trick or two up her sleeve and she thought it fitting to use one of them especially in this type of situation.

This message was last edited by the player at 13:10, Wed 25 June 2014.

Lucinda Eravyn
 player, 146 posts
 Elf
 Alchemist
Wed 25 Jun 2014
at 17:40
Re: The High road from Freeport

Lucinda calmly laid down in her bed, muttering something to herself as she fell asleep, her snores rather soft and quiet...when they weren't interrupted by the occasional cough or wheeze. She had a rather strange dream that night. On any other night it wouldn't have been strange at all. She dreamed of waking up once again in her dark basement to the warm glow of the chemicals and the sweet (to her anyway, to most it would be considered quite noxious) smell of mixtures swishing and potions brewing. She fixed her morning duties and wandered out into her family's greenhouse. The plants belched and seemed to move as her parent's serums made them grow far faster than nature had intended. She plucked an apple off of a bizarrely growing vine. The disgusting fruit almost seemed to be pulsing. She smiled and stowed it into her bag, knowing the fruit would have wondrous unique properties she could surely take advantage of. She whistled as she picked the plants that were ready to harvest and poured mixtures of water and chemicals on the others. She smiled as she saw the juices bubbling within the ground. Those plants were surely going to turn out great. She continued whistling as she wandered back to her lab, happily cutting and depositing the fruits, vegetables, and herbs into her various experiments. Then, after looking up, down, left and right to make sure her parents weren't around, she pulled out a book of her favorite adventure stories and happily read them while she waited. She was a little confused however, the main character of these stories wasn't the ones she had known and loved. It wasn't a girl named Escha or a young lady called Rorona or a princess christened Meruru. Instead, it was an elf named Lucinda...wait a moment...that was her! Just as she was about to get further into the dream she awoke with a cough that rocked her system even as the rest of the world barely heard it.

Her eyes shot open as she groaned very softly. That dream was just getting good too. Now she'd never get it back. She looked around the camp for a moment, happy to find that her low light vision, strengthened by her elven heritage and honed through years of practice in a dark basement, were still effective in the moonlight of the forest. Her eyes narrowed for a moment as she realized that it was her turn to take watch of the encampment. She nodded and smiled awkwardly as she left her bed and waved to her predecessor, who, thankfully, trotted off to bed rather quickly. Her smile disappeared as her mind turned to more serious thoughts.

She looked around the camp and walked for a moment, her natural elven grace allowing her to move almost silently. She personally checked each and every member of the expedition to make sure they were asleep. Then she walked solemnly over to her backpack. There were things that she had to do this night. They were scary things. Tasks that most men would avoid at all costs. Lucinda was not most people. Her parents had trained her for this task for what felt like years. She had wondered about the importance of the training and those tasks, but as she met her companions she realized her parents were right.

They had instructed her not to tell the church, the guards, the guild or even her companions about this. It was smart advice. They wouldn't' understand after all. Most people could never understand it. She opened her rucksack and silently began pulling out a few items and stowing them away in her belt and other loops. She had spent quite a bit of time practicing how to do it silently, even she was confident she could do it in pitch darkness without making barely any noise. She paused as she pulled out her last piece of equipment, possibly the most important one. It was a knife, a small one not unlike the ones that surgeons use. It was a small device,  a tool that most would consider quite inefficient for the task at hand. However, Lucina had spent years assisting in the field of high level Alchemy, where a tiny mistake could cause great disaster. It had taught her a little something about how to cut objects very precisely, something she would need for the task at hand.

She walked off into the shadows of the night for a time, making sure to avoid any patches of dry grass or other materials that would create a good bit of noise.


She headed back to the camp as quietly, no, even more quietly than when she had left and stored the offending articles once again in her backpack. Her eyes narrowed as she looked at her hand. It seemed she had made a little mistake. She luckily had a rag prepared just for the occasion, she supposed one that was normally used to hold scraps was quite appropriate. She wiped the surprisingly strong smelling red liquid off of her hand and quickly stowed it away under rags for more powerful, noticeable stenches. Then she smiled as she went to wake the next watch and jump back in her bed. That had really tired her out!
Devi McCain
 player, 53 posts
Thu 3 Jul 2014
at 14:46
Re: The High road from Freeport
Devi listened to and addressed each of the speakers in turn starting with Lucinda, "That is fine, you can take Jerischo's watch then.", in reply to Jada, "You can use two and a third turns of the sandglass Jada if you have trouble telling the time accurately enough, I'll leave it with you when I wake you. Being upon a horse instead of walking the distance will make a large difference in the energy we expend, missing an hour or two of sleep won't," she paused looking over to Lucinda, "Shouldn't do anyone harm." Turning to address Lalita, "As long as Lynessa has no objections to it I don't see why you two can not switch watches." While she found it odd that Lalita addressed her as hawkfish, she did not comment on it, after all she called everyone by an odd name it seemed. "Does this satisfy everyone?"

This message was last edited by the GM at 14:46, Thu 03 July 2014.

The Shade of Grimlock
 NPC, 1 post
Wed 25 Jun 2014
at 20:33
Re: The High road from Freeport
    As the night progressed, each member of the group closed their eyes to drift off into restful sleep. The sound of the horses moving about, and the occasional change of the night watch faded into the darkness. Throughout the clearing, and in the water, the members slept fitfully. A strange fog filled their minds and the image of an old man hobbled into view. The members of the party each found themselves alone in the clearing with the fog swirling about their prone forms. Unable to speak or move they remained motionless and still as the old man slowly moved closer. He was wearing a colorful cloak and shocking white hair flowed down his back. His face was covered in a thick, equally white, beard that was wild and unkempt. He leaned heavily on a gnarled staff as he trudged forward. Ever closer, the old man moved until he was directly over the still body of the party member. Taking a knee, he leaned his wizened old face close to your ear and whispered in a whimsical tone:







The old man withdrew and hobbled slowly away; as he passed from view the fog dissipated. A shaft of light pierced through the trees and a warm comforting feeling seemed to fill the clearing. The members of the group began to wake from their slumber to find the morning was well advanced. The last person on watch, Lynessa, had been taken by the same dream and awoke along with the others.

2nd day of the 2nd month: 09:00 AM.

This message was last edited by the player at 14:23, Thu 03 July 2014.

Lynessa Crescent
 player, 73 posts
Thu 26 Jun 2014
at 00:54
Re: The High road from Freeport
Lynessa woke with a start. Echoes of the old man's voice filled her mind, and for a moment she wasn't sure if she were still dreaming. Then, she heard the others, she noticed the sunlight streaming in through the grove, and illuminating the clearing. She sat, cross-legged, before a small fire-pit she had been building. ”I was going to cook breakfast for everyone, if I could find the right ingredients in our trail rations,” she recalled. ”I started building this fire-pit and...”

She blushed. ”I... I fell asleep!” she realized. She gritted her teeth. Well, she wasn't off to a good start at all. She could have gotten everyone killed.
Jerischo Elsinoir Addis
 player, 34 posts
 Will play music for Dosh.
 And Deeds 4 Cheap.
Thu 26 Jun 2014
at 02:21
Re: The High road from Freeport
The words woke Jerischo, who'd been working and humming to himself the entire ride earlier.  The words. . .He pulled a book out, hastily scribbling them down into the journal.  He slammed the book, and got up hurriedly.  He stumbled out, nearly tripping over the guard-lady.  He mumbled an apology, suddenly intent on checking on Comet, who was absolutely fine.  He pulled an apple out of. . .where did he even have that apple, fed the horse, and then actually realized he WASN'T being mugged or attacked, and that he had traveling companions.  And that one of them was on the ground, in a clear huff.  His footsteps were quiet as he came to kneel next to Lynessa.

"Rough night for you too, miss Crescent?"  He could tell it had been; her jaws were clenched too tight, the fire pit was half-built, and she looked like something else was wrong.  Not really his department, but nothing a little bit of a good breakfast couldn't solve.  "It's always hard sleepin' with new folk around you, isn't it?  Well, I'll make us all something to eat;  You should stretch and do. . well, whatever it is professional fighters do.  In the morning.  Those routines."  Somehow, even with his admittedly less than stellar wording, his voice was soothing and pleasant.  And he was pulling out trail rations, exploring, getting a pot, boiling water, and what-have-you.
Lalita Chandra
 player, 89 posts
Thu 26 Jun 2014
at 02:39
Re: The High road from Freeport
Lalita awoke with a sudden jolt out of the water. She breathed heavily, trying to understand what it was she just dreamt about. "W-what in the world? What was that old man glubbing aboat? His words seemed so.." The girl's thoughts trailed off as she turned her head and realized she was not the only one awake. The swordfish and bard were sitting by the campfire, possibly preparing for some breakfast for the group.

She climbed out of the spring. If it wasn't for the fact that her hair was damp, no one would have ever known she was in the water as her skin was perfectly dry. She sat down next to Lynessa and Jerischo and shaking her head tried to get over her dream and gave the two a bright smile. "Morning~" she chirped, trying to keep her voice down so not to disturb the others. "Um...did you two sleep whale? Glub."
Lynessa Crescent
 player, 77 posts
Thu 26 Jun 2014
at 03:24
Re: The High road from Freeport
“Too whale...” Lynessa shook her head. She was still flustered, though she had calmed since Jeri had joined her. His voice was smooth, somehow relaxing. She'd never heard him sing or tell a tale, but she imagined that Jeri did pretty well for himself as a bard. “Too well,” she corrected herself. She gave Lalita a curious look. She was sure that Lalita had been in the spring all night, but the fish-kin's skin didn't even look wet.

She looked at Jerischo and shook her head. “I've never had trouble sleeping around strangers. Sleeping in barracks breaks you of that pretty quickly. It's just...” she paused. The bard may have had a soothing voice, but Lynessa was still too embarrassed to admit that she'd fallen asleep on her watch. Though, she figured Jerischo was probably sharp enough to see the half-built fire-pit and put two and two together.

“I was going to cook something, but you're welcome to instead. I'm afraid I haven't practiced much in a while,” she admitted. She pushed herself to her feet. “I suppose I'll see to 'those routines'.” She hefted Heirloom out of the grass and made her way toward the edge of the clearing so no one would get in her way as she went through her sword forms.
Jada
 player, 61 posts
Thu 26 Jun 2014
at 03:34
Re: The High road from Freeport
In reply to Devlin McCain (msg # 16):

"Yes, I would like to borrow your hourglass. Thank you." He said, opening an eye to glance at the man. He travels with an hourglass? I suppose that explains the oddly specific watch duration. He thought quietly before clearing his mind to embrace sleep.

Through the night, Jada slept lightly stirring whenever anyone moved close or made any noise. Those on watch might notice him crack an eye if they took to walking around. When it came to his watch, he didn't need to be woken. He was already silently watching as Devlin came close. Accepting the hourglass, Jada moved to the edge of the camp and began practice stances and strikes. He moved agonizingly slow, keeping proper form as he flowed through a routine. Eventually the hourglass indicated it was time for the next watch, so he went over and woke Jerischo. Jada wordlessly handed him the hourglass, then moved back to his blanket and rested.

As morning sun's warmth washed over him, Jada woke with a start. He quickly realized he had somehow slept though dawn. Waking so late is improper.. but I suppose we did end the day late yesterday. At least I will not be half-asleep the whole day. he thought with a yawn. Not wanting to waste the light they had left, he rose and preformed some basic stretches before leaving briefly.

On his return, he quickly prepared to leave. Without delay he rolled up his blanket, saddled Blanche, secured his belongings for travel. Seeing that the others had plans besides leaving immediately, he fetched some of his simple rations and quietly ate a small breakfast. Once he finished he crossed his legs, closed his eyes and waited.

This message was last edited by the player at 03:36, Thu 26 June 2014.

Lucinda Eravyn
 player, 152 posts
 Elf
 Alchemist
Thu 26 Jun 2014
at 03:49
Re: The High road from Freeport
Lucinda jolted awake as she suddenly realized the sun was reaching her face. Sun!? On her face!? Right as she woke up!? Oh no! This was a disaster! She woke up so late! That means she missed experiments 1-....she looked around for a moment in confusion. Wh-where was she? She'd had a really weird dream...b-but this wasn't her lab! This wasn't her lab! I-It was outside! There weren't beakers or machines or anything! Th-there was just trees! A-and plants! P-plants that weren't moving! What in the world was going on here!? She coughed a bit as she started to panic before finally remembering the events of the previous day. She groaned a little and she started to get up, looking around the camp in confusion while she tried to resist panicking.

Her eyes widened as she spotted a purple and blue-speckled flower in one of her chaotic glances. W-was that... "Spikegrass Maleficarus! I-I can't believe I found it out here!"  Still in her pajamas, Lucinda crawled out of her bedroll and ran over to the plant, stopping only to grab a knife, snips, and a small bag. She started to poke and prod at the plant, smiling as the plant spurt out an oddly colored puff of gas that made her giggle. She started cutting and pulling at the plant.
Lalita Chandra
 player, 90 posts
Thu 26 Jun 2014
at 04:19
Re: The High road from Freeport
Lalita codn't kelp but laugh at her comrades queer actions. "You guppies are too finny~ Glub." she stated before getting up and going over towards Apollo. Her smile faded as her back was turned. She just had to wonder about her dream,  what did it mean? No matter how much she was trying to shrug it off, the old man's worlds still lingered in her mind. "Best not to sink aboat it..." she muttered to herself just as her thoughts became clustered with voices once more. Right on time too. The fishy let out a small sigh of relief.

When she reached her horse she gave Apollo a small smile and pet his neck, whispering, "Whale good morning. Did you sleep well? I did...kind of." She then reached into her bag and grabbing out some rations took a small nibble at the food.

 "Do you want to be untied? Glub." She asked Apollo. The horse gave her no response, however, figuring that he would Lalita just nodded her head and untied the creature from the tree. "There you go guppy. Glub." She gave the horse another pat on the neck.

This message was last edited by the player at 04:29, Thu 26 June 2014.

Lynessa Crescent
 player, 78 posts
Fri 27 Jun 2014
at 03:46
Re: The High road from Freeport
Lynessa started with basic feints and thrusts, and moved on to more advanced techniques as her muscles stretched and loosened. By now, the steps in her morning routine were committed to muscle memory and as was often the case her mind wandered as she worked.

She never knew where her thoughts would take her, though it was really no surprise when she settled on the dream. Only... had it really been a dream? It had been so surreal, what else could it have been? Yet, she could remember every detail so clearly.

”You're only letting it bother you because of what you did. Stop trying to make more of it than it is,” she thought. Yet, as she finished her warm-ups and started rolling up her bed-roll she wore a troubled expression. It remained on her face as she started struggling to get into her breastplate on her own. The dream felt like a puzzle, and Lynessa hated puzzles. She had never been very good at them...
Jerischo Elsinoir Addis
 player, 35 posts
 Will play music for Dosh.
 And Deeds 4 Cheap.
Fri 27 Jun 2014
at 10:26
Re: The High road from Freeport
The smell of a surprisingly palatable meal wafted through the campsite, the humming as infectious as his words had been earlier.  The bard happily chopped, minced, stirred, did whatever he could to make a breakfast over the now-completed firepit.  As if it'd been completed the night before.  Of course he knew she'd fallen asleep, of course he knew what she felt;  he was good at that.  He was good at reading people.  But it was best for him if the others thought that he was only passable at best;  that he just had luck on his side, and was more pleasant and well-meaning than smart.  To that end. . .

"Who wants breakfast?"
Lalita Chandra
 player, 91 posts
Fri 27 Jun 2014
at 12:26
Re: The High road from Freeport
Lalita's head instantly turned towards the rather delicious smelling meal. Looks like the bard took the liberaty to make breakfast for all of them, how kind! She skipped over to the campfire, not worried about Appolo running away. She knew he wouldn't. Then onve everyone else was gathered around, she sat down cross-legged. "Thank you, Jerischo! Glub." she glubbed, giving the man a smile.

Sadly unlike the others, Lalita hadn't cone up with a nickname yet for the bard. Perhaps when she got to know him better. She watched as the others started to grab for the food, then out of no where asked. "Sooooo...who had a spooky dream last night?" To which she instantly raised her hand. There was no use denying it, she could tell from some of the members there was something unsettling them and they might as well spill it all out whale they could. Honesty is the best policy, after all.

This message was last edited by the player at 12:29, Fri 27 June 2014.

Lucinda Eravyn
 player, 154 posts
 Elf
 Alchemist
Sun 29 Jun 2014
at 18:55
Re: The High road from Freeport
Lucinda was busy picking apart the flower when she heard Lalita's comment. Should she respond? If others had such a dream, perhaps it was more than coincidence. Everybody else seemed...different in some way, like they were uncomfortable maybe? She wasn't very good at noticing social cues and such, but if the fish kin had noticed, perhaps she should mention it. Still keeping her eyes on the work in front of her, she responded. "Er, um, yeah....I erm, guess it was spooky? Maybe?"
Lynessa Crescent
 player, 83 posts
Tue 1 Jul 2014
at 00:15
Re: The High road from Freeport
After some work, Lynessa managed to cinch the straps of her breastplate tight around her upper body. ”I probably should have asked for help. Getting it on is even harder than getting it off.” But, everyone had looked busy, so she'd handled it herself. She worked Heirloom back into a simple leather scabbard, which she slung over her right shoulder. Then, the tantalizing smell of breakfast reached her and her stomach issued a hungry rumble. She joined the others for breakfast.

“This smells wonderful, Jerischo.”
She leaned forward and helped herself to whatever he had prepared. The flavor was exquisite, much better than she could have managed. “And tastes just as good. Thank you,” she complimented.

She looked at Lalita and considered her dream for a moment. “I had a very odd dream,” she admitted. “It was here. In this clearing, I think. But I was the only one here. Well, me and an old man. He spoke to me.” Even now, she could remember his words clearly, and found herself puzzling over them once again.