The Name in Stone

   
Ruve squawked and almost fell over when Aurelia suddenly appeared from nowhere. "What - how -" she sputtered, before regaining her composure and her glasses, which were in danger of sliding off her face entirely. The Sria had given her quite a start, but it was no doubt part of her training. In fact, Ruve realized she knew very little about the special skills employed by the Tasaoth's most skilled operatives... "Was that Words, or simply - ah - stealth?" She asked the other woman, her curiosity overcoming the sudden start she'd had. The rest of the conversation between Aurelia and Ravan went largely unnoticed.

"Yes," Aurelia answered, simply, trying to politely conceal her amusement. "Sorry about that. I'm not used to wanting people to know when I'm around."

Sleep, when it came, brought with it a surprise for those braced for a restless night frought with nightmares: peaceful, dreamless sleep. Once, precisely an hour before the sleeper woke, there came the flutter of wings, and a muffled curse. Then, nothingness once more.

The fog left with the dawn and, as one, the entire camp took its first waking breathe. Sam's tent didn't stay empty for long - Toby flew in and shifted to human, looking pissed. "It's her," he said, flatly. "Let's get everyone together so I only gotta say this once."

"Yeah alright," Samantha smiled at him as she stood up and stretched. "I'll gather everyone and we'll meet you in the trees. It'll be a little while; Ruvria is a slow waker and we need breakfast. You and the other children can catch some food with us if you'd like."

Miraculously, everyone was awake when Sam arrived at the camp. The Helminites already had breakfast going and, when they started serving it up, the air tore nearby. Journey stepped out and, if his clothes showed signs of dried blood and violence, his flesh underneath was whole. Selarenia and Conner came out behind him, and Jasper groaned loudly. "Here I was hopin' to have a job away from him."

"The universe doesn't love either of us that much,"
Conner said, smirking.

"You're both welcome as far as I'm concerned," Derek said, embracing Conner before he could say anything against it.

"Married life disagree with you that much?" Aislin asked from her spot by the fire, eyebrows raising.

"I will cut you," Conner said, disentangling himself from Derek.

"If you're going to fight, take it out of the camp." Sam brushed by the others straight to Sel and hugged her. "Not that I'm unhappy to see you, but aren't you supposed to be on a honeymoon?"

"I thought so too," Selarenia replied with a pleasant smile. She returned the hug, but when she pulled away, her face was serious. She lowered her voice. "Journey has reason to think it's safer to stay together. There's more to say, of course. Should we talk here?" She glanced at the others. There were Ruvria - she beamed at her - Jasper, Derek and Aislin, whom she trusted, but the strange man she had seen at her wedding was there and she didn't quite know what to make of him yet.

She suddenly started violently as her eyes fell on the woman who had attacked her friend the previous night. She was standing there calmly among the others, who were having breakfast, looking perfectly fine with the whole situation. A puzzled look spread on her face and she turned to Sam once more. "Well, serves me right for looking away. One night away from you all and I'm already confused," she added with a little smile.

Sam chuckled lightly and tugged Sel gently toward the new "members" of the group. "It appears some introductions are in order. Ravan Varamitra is a friend of Jasper's from Jameo, servant of Daivat, and demon hunter. At least, that's what I've gathered in our brief time together. Aurelia Terath is from Ruvria's people. She was sent to avenge the massacre of their people and has found that Ruvria is not guilty of the atrocity but Dravin is. They have both offered to join us in the effort to destroy him.

"Unfortunately, something has come up here which requires more immediate attention. Toby will be filling us in after breakfast. If you'd like to join us, we can do all of our announcing afterward. Does that sound amenable?"

Ruve shook the sleep from her mind and, after staring bemusedly at the avatar, smiled back at Sel. She was surprised to see the newlywed here. But pleased, certainly. It was good to be surrounded by the people she cared about again - well, she'd always had Jasper, bless him - but this was...right, somehow. Even though she knew it was only because trouble lurked and they had a difficult task before them.

And it was really good to hear Sam taking the situation in hand and being... well. The paladin Ruve remembered.

When she was done, Ruve made sure to add, "Sel - I trust Aurelia. She will be an enormous asset to us, as will Ravan. Jasper and I have worked with him in Jameo."

Aurelia returned the healer's stare with a look of cool appraisal while Samantha offered a short explanation of her presence and Ruvria expressed her vote of confidence. Whether Ruvria's friends took a shine to her or not was immaterial. She was here to finish what she'd started nearly a year ago. Their approval was not required. A lucky thing, that, the Sria thought. It seemed unlikely that she would get any.

The avatar's appearance was of more immediate concern. Aurelia had never been overly fond of the godlings--a prejudice instilled in her long ago--but... "You're Journey," she said, more statement than question as she turned her golden gaze on him. She'd never seen the Lord of the Ways with her own eyes before, but he perfectly matched his image in Ruvria's memories. "Not meaning to be rude but, whatever did that," she made a small gesture to indicate the state of his clothes, "isn't coming here, is it?"





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