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Oct 27, 2020 4:47 PM
Abras Ashkevron at the start of the book 3 timeline (A Song for Two Voices)
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:Hmm. Probably bring a sword or something just in case, even though you're nearly always better off fighting with magic. Warm weather gear for sure: It's still very early in spring, and below freezing at night. 

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:Right.: Packing a sword specifically because he might want to use it for real feels strange even though he knows it's the smart choice. In the Pelagirs there was always the plausible deniability of Changecreatures.

Somewhere in the middle of getting everything into a pair of packs with evenly distributed weights it hits him that he's actually doing this, leaving Haven to go get involved in a situation he knows nothing about but that Herald Keiran expects his presence to improve somehow, because Savil (the actual best person for the job) isn't available. This is a terrible idea and he's definitely going to screw it up somehow. Possibly by being too nervous to finish packing. He knows he needs to finish packing and leave but if he isn't there he isn't screwing it up worse than he is by not being there so once again the knowledge that he has to do something is insufficient to make him do it. 

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Gentle poke. :Chosen? What's wrong?: 

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: I'm scared. I don't know if I'm scared it'll be dangerous or scared I'll screw it up or both; I don't know if I should ignore the fear and do it anyway or accept that I can't and not make things worse by trying; I don't know if I'll be able to do whichever of those is the right choice even if I figure it out. I'm pretty sure at least some of those thoughts are wrong but I don't know which ones. Sorry.:

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Yfandes doesn't answer for a moment, just sends a strong wash of reassurance. 

:All those fears are very understandable: she sends finally. :I think it's pretty normal to feel that way about your first mission. But - I'm here to help, and they didn't go easy on you when you did the Heraldic graduation tests. You might screw up, but - it's definitely worth trying. And we'll have days on the road to talk through everything that might go wrong and make plans: 

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Abras leans into the reassurance and shoves the sword and the last few other things into his pack. He hopes he doesn't have to kill anyone. He can't decide whether or not he hopes he can if he has to. Surely it's better to be the sort of person who can't, right, but also lots of Heralds have had to kill people and it feels wrong to think there was something wrong with them for that. He leaves these thoughts where Yfandes can see them but not in a way that demands an answer. He's not sure he'd know what to do with an answer if he had one.

As they ride out, he asks, :Do you have a guess what we're going to find when we get there?:

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:Hmm. So it sounds like bandits, probably from the region north of Valdemar, and they have mages. Could be bloodpath mages, report didn't say one way or another - they might not be able to tell, without a Herald-Mage on site. I'm expecting to find a lot of very scared villagers, and some competent Guards who have a plan and who've worked with Herald-Mages before: 

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:I wonder how different working with Guards will be from working with Tayledras scouts. Presumably a lot fewer of them are mages, for one thing.:

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:I doubt any of them will be Gifted at all. You'll have Herald Jores up there, though - I believe he has Fetching but I don't recall for sure: 

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It really would be nice if Valdemar had more mages, but of course the Tayledras have the Star-Eyed helping. :Do you talk with other Companions much about this sort of thing? Trade stories about what works and what doesn't?:

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:Oh, yes, all the time. Loads of gossip about missions: 

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:I bet that's really useful. I should have read more of the archives. Any particularly instructive examples come to mind?:

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:Hmm. So there was a dispute over land ownership between a Hardornen holder and a Valdemaran family, both smack on the border, and the Hardornen noble hired some mages...:

Yfandes can easily fill the morning with stories until she suggests a pause for lunch, and then keep going. 

:Want to try for an inn or sleep at a Waystation?: she asks, when the sun is starting to get low in the sky and Abras' buttocks are very achy. :We should check the map for the next stops: 

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:I'm fine sleeping at a Waystation. And I'm close enough now that I should be able to Farsee Polsinn; maybe I'll learn something useful.:

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:Oh, that's an excellent idea!: A burst of pride. :All right, where's the next Waystation on the map, you're the one with hands and I've never been this far north of Haven before: 

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Abras twists around to get the map out of the bag and spreads it out across his knees. :Looks like we should be able to make it there a little before sundown.:

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:Perfect!: Yfandes speeds her pace slightly, trotting cheerfully. 

They do, in fact, reach the Waystation just before sundown. It's a small, square, plain hut, with walls of unfinished wood and a shingled roof. The door is wide enough to fit a Companion indoors, though it's not exactly roomy for Yfandes in there. 

The interior contains a cot, a woodstove with a full firewood bin, and some spare gear and very plain nonperishable foodstuffs, mostly pease and oats. 

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Then they can have pease and oats for dinner, and while they're eating Abras can stare at the map again and try to Farsee Polsinn.

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He finds it easily enough, despite the strain of distance. It's a smallish, sleepy-looking town with a single main road lined with buildings and then cottages and farms trailing off into forest, all dim-lit in the twilight. There doesn't seem to be any commotion right now. A few people are making their way home for the evening. There's a signal-flag by the town hall, per usual for Farsight checks, but it's not currently raised. 

If he watches for a few minutes, he'll notice a Herald in Whites riding a Companion back into town, past the courthouse, toward the inn. 

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:Looks like Herald Jores, or at least I assume it's him and not some other Herald, is there as expected. Nothing else obvious.:

One of the benefits of a Waystation over an inn is that it's easy and unremarkable for him to sleep near Yfandes. He can check on their destination again in the morning, maybe pan around a bit when he's less tired.

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Polsinn is much easier to see by daylight. It's also suddenly packed with people. The same Herald as before, presumably Jores, is in front of the courthouse, leaning on the railing of the steps. A young woman clutches at his arm, while a grey-haired figure tries to pull her back. They, and all the other townspeople milling around the square, look deeply alarmed. Several blue-uniformed Guards are standing around the perimeter of the town square; one seems to be speaking to another huddle of women. 

The signal-flag is raised on its pole, and the colour is red. A priority one emergency. 

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:Shit. Yfandes, they're having some kind of emergency, they put up the priority one flag--:

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:Bugger. All right, saddle me up and let's go. You've got travel-bread to eat on the road? If I really push it, and you feed me node-energy, we can make it by tonight: 

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:Yes.: He fumbles Yfandes's saddle on and climbs aboard, belting himself in so he can focus more on passing node-energy while Yfandes is at top speed.

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And they ride. 

Even at her fastest gallop, Yfandes' gait is remarkably smooth, much less uncomfortable than a regular horse would be. Still, it jars his bottom numb within a candlemark. 

Yfandes takes in a steady stream of node-energy, and holds the impossible pace, candlemark after candlemark. Eventually, around noon, they've covered about half the remaining distance to Polsinn and she slows as they approach a small village. Her flanks are lathered but she doesn't otherwise seem especially tired. :Need water. You should eat and drink, Chosen: 

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