With temperatures rising over 143°C (289.40°F) in most areas, the only relief is during the nights when it is much cooler. All travelers are advised to keep to the local towns on the desert's outskirts and avoid traveling too far from civilization. (+3 Endurance, +2 Defense)

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Re: A Needle in the Desert [self]

Postby crow » 10/20/2017 3:26 AM

Sivain sighed. They were getting nowhere like this. At this rate, he was going to have to take some drastic measures. "Very well. If you're curious about our mode of transportation, I'll demonstrate, though I'll need more space than we have here."

At that, the guide's brows shot up. His expression didn't get any more disbelieving, and now there was an insultingly derisive cast to it that Sivain didn't care for. Yes, he was an outlander, but he would have thought... Well, no matter. Either it will be resolved in a few moments, or it won't, in which case he'll stop trying and start speaking to someone else instead.




I'm only honest when it rains.
If I time it right, the thunder breaks
When I open my mouth.
I want to love you but I don't know how.





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Re: A Needle in the Desert [self]

Postby crow » 10/20/2017 3:28 AM

The guide looked as if he was going to say something else, but in the end he merely shrugged. "Alright, if you insist," he said. He indicated a clearing near the edge of town. "Is that enough space for you?"

Sivain didn't miss the sarcasm in his voice, but chose to ignore it. "Yes, thank you," he said. He walked out to it, and the guide trailed behind. A few others, who had been following their discussion with various degrees of subtlety, followed behind him, even more aimlessly. Sivain cast his gaze over them, and a few tried to pretend as if they were doing something else.




I'm only honest when it rains.
If I time it right, the thunder breaks
When I open my mouth.
I want to love you but I don't know how.





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Re: A Needle in the Desert [self]

Postby crow » 10/20/2017 3:30 AM

He sighed again. Well, an audience was not wholly unfamiliar to him. By those standards, this gathering was rather small. He didn't care for it, but he'd been doing things he didn't care for for a long time. This wasn't anywhere near the worst he'd had to bear.

Rhodes cleared off his shoulder, hopping onto the awning of a nearby stall. "My my, what a bother," he said, licking a paw. Sivain was inclined to agree, but if this got them through the impasse they seemed to have reached, then so be it.

As he reached the center of the clearing, he took a deep breath. Steady...




I'm only honest when it rains.
If I time it right, the thunder breaks
When I open my mouth.
I want to love you but I don't know how.





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Re: A Needle in the Desert [self]

Postby crow » 10/20/2017 3:33 AM

He centered himself, though it wasn't really necessary. He just hadn't done this in front of an audience for a long time. And when he found that center, he reached for the familiar sensation of the shift, letting it flow through him.

It was over in an instant, and he found himself looking down on the market square from a markedly higher vantage point than before. He unfurled his wings slightly, resettling them about himself, and lashed his tail slowly, idly.

At first, there was no reaction. The assembled spectators merely stared, their eyes going wide almost uniformly, with a few people on the square's edge peering out, their attention caught by the commotion.




I'm only honest when it rains.
If I time it right, the thunder breaks
When I open my mouth.
I want to love you but I don't know how.





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Re: A Needle in the Desert [self]

Postby crow » 10/20/2017 3:35 AM

And then someone screamed.

Sivain winced as one of the men closest to the front let out an ear-piercing noise. Fortunately, it didn't last long. Unfortunately, it came to an end because he passed out. At least he had a soft landing in the sand.

Several other spectators had fled from his vicinity, some shouting about a monster. To his credit, the guide that Sivain had first spoken to stood his groud, arms folded in front of him still, though the dubious expression had disappeared entirely from his features. This was, Sivain found, an improvement.

(+1)




I'm only honest when it rains.
If I time it right, the thunder breaks
When I open my mouth.
I want to love you but I don't know how.





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Re: A Needle in the Desert [self]

Postby crow » 10/20/2017 3:59 AM

He changed back. The transition from his draconic form to his human shape was much easier, since the latter was what he wore most of the time, and the former only brought out when needed, which had never been very often. Back in his home realm, he had mostly assumed it for ceremonial purposes, and even then it had been rare, given that he was a minor god. Here, it mostly saw combat use.

He could speak in either form, but he somehow doubted the guide wanted to talk business with something that had to lay itself down just to be at eye level with him.




I'm only honest when it rains.
If I time it right, the thunder breaks
When I open my mouth.
I want to love you but I don't know how.





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Re: A Needle in the Desert [self]

Postby crow » 10/20/2017 4:01 AM

"I mean to cross the desert by flight," said Sivain. "I am perfectly capable of it, and of carrying my own luggage. I've secured a map, though any amendments you might be able to make to it would be appreciated; and there is, of course, the matter of the water, which I had mentioned before." His tone was as cool and bland as it had been thus far, and Rhodes even hopped off the awning that had been his temporary perch, returning to Sivain's side as he drew up to the guide again.

The guide did not immediately recover, still staring slack-jawed at Sivain as he walked up.




I'm only honest when it rains.
If I time it right, the thunder breaks
When I open my mouth.
I want to love you but I don't know how.





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Re: A Needle in the Desert [self]

Postby crow » 10/20/2017 4:04 AM

Sivain had to clear his throat to snap him out of it. "Gods and angels," said the guide. "That's a mean trick, to be sure. How did you do it? Magic? It wasn't just an illusion, was it?"

"No, and if I must prove it to you then I suppose I shall, though I'd rather not," said Sivain. He was beginning to suspect the guide hadn't really heard him, and felt a slight sense of dismay at the prospect of repeating himself again. "About our agreement," he tried.

But the guide was in no mood to talk business anymore. "So you're really--- Gods," he exclaimed again.




I'm only honest when it rains.
If I time it right, the thunder breaks
When I open my mouth.
I want to love you but I don't know how.





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Re: A Needle in the Desert [self]

Postby crow » 10/20/2017 4:16 AM

"Then, were you never human? Or--- Do you eat camels?" said the guide, suddenly aghast. Sivain had to resist the urge to smack his forehead with his hand. This wasn't going at all how he hoped, and indeed, was going rather the way that he feared it might.

"No," he said, as firmly as he could. "No, I do not eat camels. And I was human, originally. Circumstances conspired to place me in the state that I am in now, but I assure you, this is my... 'true' form, if you must call it that." This was an incredibly vague, not entirely accurate version of events, but it was true he'd been human once.




I'm only honest when it rains.
If I time it right, the thunder breaks
When I open my mouth.
I want to love you but I don't know how.





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Re: A Needle in the Desert [self]

Postby crow » 10/20/2017 4:32 AM

This seemed to calm the guide, and he straightened a little, probably trying to recover some of the professionalism that he had pretty thoroughly lost by now. "Well," he said. "Well, that does change a lot of things. I... still don't recommend you going alone, of course, but if you insist..." Sivain had the sense that the guide was saying this merely out of stubbornness, a last weak effort to get Sivain to purchase what he was willing to offer, but at least there was no longer any sign of strong resistance.

Perhaps he believed Sivain would eat his camels in retaliation, or something to that effect.

(+2)




I'm only honest when it rains.
If I time it right, the thunder breaks
When I open my mouth.
I want to love you but I don't know how.





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Re: A Needle in the Desert [self]

Postby crow » 10/20/2017 4:35 AM

Sivain wouldn't have done anything like that even if the man had continued to be as frustrating as before, though it certainly didn't hurt him any if the guide thought he would. Anything to help the negotiations go faster, and more in his own favor. At this point he felt he deserved it, really, after everything he'd put up with thus far.

"Is there nothing you can give me to show other caravans that I've purchased rights to use your water temporarily?" he said. Water was his first priority, as it had been since be began discussions with this particular guide.




I'm only honest when it rains.
If I time it right, the thunder breaks
When I open my mouth.
I want to love you but I don't know how.





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Re: A Needle in the Desert [self]

Postby crow » 10/20/2017 5:39 AM

"The thing is," said the guide, "we don't really... do that." His voice had a feeble tone to it now, as if he were conceding defeat, but he wrung his hands together, his lips pressed together into a thin line. Sivain waited. Eventually, he said, "I could write something for you--- give you a token of our caravan. It would say that we are friends, and you've paid for our services. Whether the other caravans will accept this, I can't say, but short of taking you with us, that's the best I can do, I'm afraid."

"That would be wonderful," said Sivain. It was, after all, more or less exactly what he'd asked for.




I'm only honest when it rains.
If I time it right, the thunder breaks
When I open my mouth.
I want to love you but I don't know how.





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Re: A Needle in the Desert [self]

Postby crow » 10/20/2017 5:42 AM

From there, things went much more smoothly. They worked out a price, though the guide looked distinctly uncomfortable the entire time. Sivain didn't know if it was the unusual nature of the contract, the fact that Sivain was a dragon, some unnamed third factor, or a combination of all of these, but it was no longer any of his business.

A little more money persuaded him to help Sivain amend the map, and Sivain found that he was glad to have pressed the man for this service. The map he'd been given was even less reliable than they had first thought it to be.




I'm only honest when it rains.
If I time it right, the thunder breaks
When I open my mouth.
I want to love you but I don't know how.





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Re: A Needle in the Desert [self]

Postby crow » 10/20/2017 5:47 AM

The token and the guide's note might not have done them much good if they hadn't gotten these amendments, actually. Some of the oases had dried up, some new wells dug, and the patterns of the dunes had shifted somewhat since the map was written. Sivain gave the man a tip for his troubles; he was no miser, though he could feel Rhodes' tail lash unhappily when he parted with yet more coin.

"Well, it isn't as though we have a shortage of funds," said Sivain. They were doing remarkably well for themselves, and it wasn't as if they were short of funds before the war either.




I'm only honest when it rains.
If I time it right, the thunder breaks
When I open my mouth.
I want to love you but I don't know how.





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Re: A Needle in the Desert [self]

Postby crow » 10/20/2017 5:49 AM

"I will concede that point," said Rhodes, "but that is still no reason to be spending it frivolously. We'd paid him a fair price for his services already."

"He might put in a good word for us with the other caravans," Sivain pointed out. "We might need it, after the response to my display. At the very least, it might dissuade him from slandering us once our backs are turned."

"It isn't a guarantee," said Rhodes, still not quite appeased.

"No," said Sivain. They probably couldn't have angled for anything of the sort without sounding threatening, however, and he suspected Rhodes knew that.

(+3) (counted)




I'm only honest when it rains.
If I time it right, the thunder breaks
When I open my mouth.
I want to love you but I don't know how.





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