The two boys stared at her for a moment, apparently not sure what to make of the strange leadup to her explanation. It didn't bode well for her brother-in-law's playfulness that he didn't crack a smile, but...
Leif giggled first, breaking into a broad grin. Then his father did, as well, and quickly covered his mouth, though it didn't wipe away a little amused tilt of his lips.
"Lys has rubbed off on you after all," he said. "She will like that. Perhaps it will lift her spirits. Sjø went to fetch some water for us, she should be on her way from the well with a couple of skins any time..."
He trailed off as the sound of an off-key flute squealed in the air. It was coming from around the corner. "...Soon. Sjø! Come here, the Jarl needs you!"
The calf trotted out from a space between two small homes, a bit clearer in view now without the thick woodland fog. She was taller than the boy, just about to start growing lanky, although she hadn't yet lost her calfhood fuzz. Her coat was Lys' color, but with dark patches, and her eyes shone ice-blue.
Lief took the waterskins from her, passing one to his father, who took a long drink from it. Sjø walked up to her aunt and, the flute still between her lips, tweeted it at her questioningly.
"Manners, sister," said the boy, and her next tweet was slightly ruder.
Her lie created a tense moment. Mercifully ended by her nephew... Her dream nephew. The bull and the calf both seemed to accept her reason. Why should they not? There was only going to be a reason such as that for wearing the armor of another. Even wearing it, it would take some nasty weather to confuse anyone of their differing identities.
”I guess so,” she replied, her tone a bit shaky. Sjel's gaze moved in time with her brother-in-law's, the sounds of the flute drawing her attention. At least this had not began another small hunt within her much larger campaign.
She smiled, small but genuine, at the interaction that took place between Sjø and Leif. It was magical. There was no other way to describe it. They looked like Lys and their expressions were undeniably taken from her. Not purely, to be sure, but there was no doubt. Even if she might use these looks at other moments, the way they were projected sang of her blood.
”Your timing is perfect,” she said, attempting to sound somewhat dignified, but familiar. It was a difficult combination to create. ”Might I borrow your flute? I need it to summon your mother, there are some things we need to speak upon before the feast.”
”...Aaand, I don't want my jest to be spoiled,” she related, shaking in the armor so that it would punctuate her point. As she did so, she noticed that it no longer scraped her.
The calves' father gave Sjel a second look at the shake in her voice, with perhaps a shade of concern in it. That was to be expected, though; even to family, the prospect of a nervous Jarl could be worrying on a day like that one. If he had any words, though, he swallowed them and took a couple more logs while Sjel talked to the children.
Sjø took the flute from her mouth, looking up at Sjel with a wide, curious expression. "You didn't find mother in the forest?" she asked, looking over the indicated armor. "...And what jest? Is that why you're wearing her armor? ... You didn't leave yours in the forest, did you? If the monsters get it, it's ruined for sure..."
"She's wearing mother's armor as a joke to lighten her spirits. I'm sure Jarl didn't leave her own," said Leif, taking the cap from his waterskin.
"I guess," she said, then took the exit end of the flute back in her mouth and held it up for Sjel. "Buh take goo' care of it, okay? Itsh old."
"She knows it's old, she made it," said Leif, and his sister bumped him with her shoulder.
Sure enough, the girl was right; this was exactly the same flute that she had given Lys, many, many moons ago. It was clearly older, with more nicks and dings on it and the wood about a decade aged from her recent memory, but it seemed that it had been in good hooves.
Last Edit: Nov 11, 2014 21:58:32 GMT -6 by Deleted: i missed a spot, sir
The line of questioning concerning her armor washed over her in an odd way. A different odd than everything else was. Naturally, she would not leave her armor anywhere that it could get damage or become lost to her, but she didn't know where it was, either. None of the armor she had worn so far had been anywhere before it was on her. Logic said that it would be at her home if she went there, but that seemed even less appealing than it had originally.
”He is right, though,” she remarked as the instrument came into her possession. This was the flute she had crafted. In this world, it would be an old gift. And Lys' mind had deigned that she would pass it on, or at least loan it, to her daughter. ”I could not deny my own work it even feels-
She frowned. Until this moment, her logic had always been her barrier between investing in this world. She knew she had come from the waking world into a dream. That was how she had trusted herself to walk the skies.
For the first time, it was not only logic that could deny what her eyes saw, what her ears heard or her body touched. In every way, this was exactly what an aged version of the flute she had crafted would look like and exactly how it might handle.
But there was a life that objects had in the waking world that this did not. Things that were forged, could be forged or crafted... They had a spirit to them, one this lacked...
”-Perfectly as I remember it... I must go. I thank you for all of your help, I will see you later.” With luck, that would not be true.
She set out at once, toward the sea. If she were not interrupted on her path, she would begin to play the instrument herself as she left town.
They all said goodbyes—with varying intensity, as the bull's was a calm and formal one and the calves were punctuated by a holler about seeing her later—but as she was leaving, she heard the bull exchang some quiet words with his children. Exactly what the conversation concerned was too soft for her to hear, but they didn't impede or tie her up in anything further, so it was just as well she continued along her way.
As she traveled through the rest of town toward the seaside, she was starting to see why there had been so much lumber being hauled. Not all of it was going to the bonfire—the good, quality woods were headed towards the boathouse. There were some carts parked up by the entryway and a plume of white smoke coming from the roof indicated there was some work being done, though it would be a detour to turn in and see what said work was.
As she began to play her instrument on the way out, she noticed that the lack of the flute's spirit resulted in a strange shaky quality to the sound, as though the fibers of the wood didn't hold together as well without it. Either that, or its age was simply showing, though it hadn't sounded that way by Sjø's lips. Strange.
Soon enough she reached the shoreline—and if nothing else in this bizarre approximation of her home was the same, at least this remained. The sea was vast and a little rough, the grey color of slate to match the dim clouds above. A soft snowfall blew against her back. As she played the flute, she saw some splashing in the surface of the water, coming closer, and some odd light starting to shine beneath the surface...
And behind her, she heard hooves drop to the ground and trot towards her. The light dimmed and the splashing stopped.
"Ah, Sjø, you are growing up so quickly," said Lys, a joking lift to her voice. "Already big enough to fit in my armor! What next? A husband?"
It looked like Lys. By all accounts, it seemed to be her, save for telltale signs of age—she was a little fatter and stockier, with white hairs around her eyes and her muzzle. The colors of her eyes had changed a bit as well; they seemed blue-green, rather than the bright blue of clear water she could recall. She was wearing no armor or clothing, just her thick caribou coat and a dusting of snow to cover.
But the strangest thing was that she didn't quite smile the same. It seemed too tired, showed a bit too much tooth. All the same, she gave her an affectionate clack of her antlers.
"How are you, Sjel? Are you all prepared for the feast?"
The flute's sour sound quality was almost enough to stop Sjel from playing it at all. It dug into her that it would have such a poor feel to it. No matter the cause, this was a token of their bond. Only one of many, one she had been taken aback to see not long ago, but once it had been in her possession, the meaning behind it was emboldened. To hear it like this...
Sjel's voice caught in her throat as she saw her. Elders spoke of life going by in the blink of an eye. They said if you weren't careful, you'd wake up and realize you were suddenly years older than you remember being. Before her was not the fellow maiden that had stood side-by-side with her on a journey across the great waters. This was a cow who matched the years of that one would expect to see in a mother of two calves.
For the first time, Sjel wondered if she might look different to the denizens of this dream. Her mind had given her the armor (or so she believed) and it had been commented upon. Was her own concept of self kept in tact, or had it been written over to match this Lys? No one had uttered a word in relation to her youth, so it seemed likely that she had a few extra winters upon her features, as well.
She bumped back, but her trepidation would be easily felt by one who knew her so well.
”Not well, sister and neither are you. In fact, me being not well is because you are not well,” she replied, ”And it is not my intention to be here long enough to see this feast...”
Sjel could play along. She could choose to believe there was some obstacle that had to be overcome and forge ahead. This battle could be the trial. But she would not wait another moment if she did not need to.
”This is a dream, your dream, all of it, save for me. It is beautiful and worth achieving. But you cannot do that in here. Outside, we are still on our first expedition, a magic pony affliction has you in its grasp. If you leave with me, its grasp will be lost.”
She held a deep hope that this would be enough to sway Lys, but it stank of lunacy even to one who knew it to be true. What proof could she offer? Other than her being Jarl, there was not anything within this world that was pure madness. And it seemed that Lys believed this to be possible.
Lys's smile fell as soon as Sjel had bumped her back. And as she said her piece, her oath-sister's face gradually took on one of confusion, and then fear, followed finally by an apparent sadness. She stepped closer and nudged her shoulder gently.
"Sjel, I understand the pressures upon you are great right now," she said. "But you speak nonsense. And why are you wearing ... some replica of my clothes? Have you been taking drinks already? It will not do to have a Jarl with morning pains tomorrow, of all days..."
It was clear she wasn't buying it, but at least she seemed to be worried rather than angry with her on the matter. She walked around Sjel to stand in front of her, looking her over.
"Please... If you have troubles, you can simply tell them to me. You do not have to get dressed up and act strangely. Tell me what is really the matter."
Sjel squinted at Lys. How was she to begin to respond to that? Lys has no doubts about her world and not much reason to have doubts. It was as Sjel feared. This was not a land of pure fantasy.
”I realize how this sounds and how this looks. Well, no, I am not sure how it must look. I do not have a good answer for that part. But as for how it sounds, that I understand. But you must see through this,” she urged.
She had worried her words would fall on deaf ears and that fear had come to fruition. Now she needed to find how to undeafen them. She had to at least try.
”Do you truly hold the memory of two births? Of not only the love you feel now, but falling so deeply that you would become wed? Are these things as clear to you as the memory of when I gave you this?” She asked, handing out the soulless instrument.
Something in Lys' posture shifted at Sjel's questioning. She looked almost defensive, like part of her wanted to fight or flee against the inquiries instead of properly face them down. Perhaps she was on to something, or Lys was just getting unnerved by her sister's aberrant behavior. In either case, she didn't take the flute.
"I do not think you do realize how it sounds. Sjel, I know you... you are too stubborn to fall into madness. So why are you asking me these questions?"
Though she wasn't facing the ocean to see it, something splashed within the water again, closer to shore. It didn't seem to be a fish, though it was about that size.
Sjel's words had not been soft. She had spoken them without considering how cruel they might be. She didn't regret them. If it took drastic measures to shake Lys out of it, then she would shake as hard as she had to, so long as it would not break her sister.
The ocean dweller concerned her, but it seemed as if she was close to something. She could not relent now. Surely whatever it was could wait.
”Because it is the truth, if this were real, could I do this?” She asked, calling on the same concentration she had earlier, the idea of her own bifrost forming under her.
If she could conjure it again, it would be proof that things were not as they should be. Whatever Lys thought of her, she could not believe she was capable of walking upon the air. Her flank had no hint of a magician's mark and her eyes not a glint of that sort of power behind them.
Sjel felt, as before, the steady light of a bifrost form under her hooves, keeping a short distance of air between her and the ground. It was strange once she thought about it; there was nothing supporting her, and yet she was as steady as steady could be. The fact that her sister did this on at least a daily basis explained much about how easily she got seasick.
Lys' expression turned instantly to shock. She stumbled back a step and nearly fell on her rear, staring in wide-eyed fear at Sjel's display of a magic she, by all accounts, ought not have. She looked up to her big sister and tried to say something, but nothing came out at first except a series of shallow, panicked breaths.
"H...huh..." she said, then shouted with her full lungs: "HULDRA!"
And as fast as her legs could take her she turned and bolted out over the water, running at full bore on her own bifrost toward the docks just south of the boathouse. Lys might have aged in this world, but apparently, she could sure still run with the best of them.
The dream's workings did not fail her. The bifrost formed under her and she was able to take to the skies. However, rather than confirming her story, it sent her sister racing off.
”Wait, no I am no Huldra!” Sjel said, no doubt not loud enough to be heard. She bolted off after her sister. In the real world, she would have little chance of catching her sister, even assuming she could become airborne in order to do it. Perhaps here, when it was her greatest desire, she would stand a better chance. Or, because it was her sister's desire to be far away, she would stand less of a chance. Either way, she had to try.
During this chase, she found the time to wonder why her sister would back down from a fight now if she intended to be a part of a battle tomorrow? Did she really just run off at the sight of a singular possible Huldra spy? Of all times, the day before a battle would be a terrible day to allow a Huldra to hold your Jarl's form and a trinket that would help to confirm their identity as such. Perhaps the simulated old age had not been kind to her bravery. Granted, no one knew what the Huldra were capable of, but it seemed off to back down from a seemingly fair fight without first testing yourself against it.
Perhaps that was only Sjel logic and not the variety held by others.
As the sisters began to run over the dark water, the sounds below intensified; the waves lapped at their hooves, and between them the sea began its odd splashing anew, like invisible fish leaping the surface of the water or a child skipping impossibly large stones.
Fortunately, though Lys had kept up her swiftness from youth, Sjel's passion and drive seemed to make her faster than ordinarily possible; if she made a burst of speed, Sjel stood a good chance at catching up to or even overtaking her sister. At the speed they were running it would probably send Lys into the water if she were to physically engage her or knock her footing off. Surely she knew how to swim, even in dream, but at the same time the water was rougher out here, and ice-cold... she may need some care so as not to be harmed.
However, with a glance ahead it became apparent that Lys was not merely running away from a fight. She seemed to be running specifically toward the docks—and though she remembered no such place in the real world, there was a small lookout platform at the end with a large wooden horn pointed towards Trottheim. She was running not to avoid a battle, but to rouse the entire village to the danger. (Or possibly just beat a perceived monster over the head with a blunt object. It was even odds.)
"My sister is no air-walker!" she shouted back, without turning. There wasn't much time. Once she reached that dock, she was going straight for that warning signal.
In time, Lys' goal became more clear to her. The realization brought a new determination to Sjel's mind. Now she was not only chasing Lys to explain things, but in hopes she could avoid fighting an entire warband. She believed in her abilities, but not that much. Only in stories did one stand against one hundred and survive. A dream this may be, but it was not her own.
This game had become much more dangerous. Frankly, Sjel did not have the in air nuance to gain the type of victory that she wanted. A warrior must know its standings at all time. She had given chase on a road she had no business being upon and she was running out of options.
Clearly it was time to change the game entirely. An engineer had to know that not all pieces of timber could be made into worthy planks. Sometimes they had to be discarded or used for lesser things. An engineer and a warrior, she knew all of this to be true. This game had ended, this had been as far as she could salvage it, these steps already borrowing time.
As hard as she could, she envisioned a giant globule of pure stickiness in the air in front of them, so close it would hurt for her to stop before it even though she still trailed behind. As a builder, she knew it by the feel of components more than by names. It was a liquid as miraculously suspended as they were, one that would grasp on to them and not let go. And if the loon of a sister tried to bite her way out, it would taste of her favorite things, every bite a different favorite. A life time of knowledge in one magical confectionery-based trap.
Lys let out a little scream of surprise when the glob simply appeared in front of her—a scream that was quickly cut off as she slammed face-first into it, the rest of her body following after. She immediately started to tug and jerk against it, but every movement only served to get her hooves, then chest, then entire legs further stuck to the weird, un-real substance. Her bifrost vanished and scattered its light into the air, like water turned to steam.
"Y-your dark magicks cannot hold me!" she shouted, though it was muffled and stuttered by her struggle with the glob. True to her form, she sank her teeth into it and started desperately trying to bite it off of her in a panic. After the third or fourth attempt, she hesitated at the familiar taste of honey and juniper berries... and then kept going, though her breath was coming in deep, exhausted pants, her burst of energy and apparent confusion catching up to her.
Down below them, the water continued to churn and swell—and if she wasn't mistaken, the tide was starting to rise despite the night not yet being near. At their sides, the wind picked up from the landside and carried a more biting cold with it, the kind that made banners flutter, calves put on their cloaks, and gentle snowflakes turn into stinging pellets.
Something deep within Sjel, an instinct and connection to the land well known by all non-magical caribou, told her that something was changing.
Lys didn't notice. She just kept writhing and biting on Sjel's trap, getting herself quickly worn out.
Last Edit: Nov 23, 2014 16:17:46 GMT -6 by Deleted: spicy vikings
The Fun Has Been Doubled! is a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic moderate-to-advanced forum roleplay. Set after the events of the fifth season, we currently have no overarching plot. Instead, we simply have created the world of Equestria for you as a giant playground to have fun in and to explore the magic of friendship. Canon characters and original characters are available for you to play as, both ponies and non-pony species alike! Just remember that we are account-per-character and we'll be fine!
So why don't you stay for a while, look around, and let us know if we should get a welcome party started for you.