- Markshire PCs:
Sun-Ok did not sleep that night. Instead, she sat quietly on the bearskin rug in Alec’s house, enjoying the warmth of the fire he always kept burning, never too hot, to aid in the tanning of hides. For a time she meditated with her eyes closed, for a time she stared into the flames, and for a time she stared at the equipment of her chosen trade—the stacked salt, the curing tubs, the drying racks, the looms. Alec—a quiet man in any event—did not interrupt her thoughts.
As the sun rose, barely perceived through Alec’s dim windows, Sun-Ok also rose and did her stretching exercises to Alec’s obvious astonishment. She then removed some skins from her pack and set herself slowly and methodically to work. It was a fruitful exercise, calming her in the Way, but it provided no answers.
Nor did she wash, as was her wont after a fight. So when she headed to the tavern next door at day’s end for a quiet ale, her armor was still covered in sprays of dried blood, and her hair remained matted and clotted with bits of her own brain, knocked loose by one-eye clubs and recreated within a skull remade by the healing magic. She picked at that brain matter idly for a moment, wondering if the magic had gone amiss somehow, and if that explained her inability to reach any answers. She shook her head as she gazed into her untouched ale. Wryly, she thought to herself that it must be the questions themselves that are hard—she would not have been anyone’s choice for village wise woman before the one-eyes bashed her head in, either.
Of course, no one in Gargoyle’s Tavern mentioned her appearance—they were a quiet and tough crowd in any case, and the waitress was already too drunk to notice. Mez wandered in, ordered a drink and asked after her with concern—but a weak smile and a weaker reassurance were enough to persuade him to sit quietly with her. Mez, she sensed, had plenty of experience wrestling with inner demons over a quiet drink.
It was not to remain quiet for long. In came Faith, brandishing some newfound magical oddity. She joined them after her excitement wore off, noticed Sun-Ok’s appearance, and asked—Sun-Ok thought with a hint of distaste—if she were alright. After an answering nod, Faith engaged Mez in conversation. Sun-Ok looked up briefly as they mentioned a dirt-covered body that had been dumped at Foothold’s gates, raising some concerns among the guards, but held her own council.
It was in the middle of that discussion that Kayla walked in. She looked over Sun-Ok and asked coolly “What happened to you?”
It was the stern Kayla, the inflexible protector of forest, cat, and child. Faith, who was a friend of Kayla and whose task Sun-Ok had not yet completed, watched the two with interest. Sun-Ok merely answered “One-eyes,” and tried in vain to defer or deflect the conversation from the captain’s body. What Kayla felt about that was really the least of her worries just then, but the story came out, Kayla was offended, and once again Markshire and the strange illogical values its peoples held intervened in Sun-Ok’s calm and thoughtful finding of the Way.
Eventually, Sun-Ok just got frustrated—with the stern Kayla’s unreasoned intransigence, with this land’s bizarre reverence for soul-abandoned corpses, with this odd concern over one body dead of natural causes found near the gates of a town whose surrounds were littered daily with those dead from violence. So she told Kayla, using the Ancient words of beauty, “I regret causing you any difficulties—such was not my intent. In any case, you have remedied whatever problem you perceived with little effort, certainly less than it cost us to give a man who loved your woods his dying wish.”
Apparently, it was the wrong thing to say to an offended druid, the wrong thing to say if one merely wanted quiet time to think about the past, present, and future of one’s soul.