Tsekande sighed, knowing full well that this was going to be a huge ordeal commencing. Granted starting this task wasn't a walk in the park - getting messages to his various clan members was interesting. He had to pay well the messengers for two of his 'family' members well, for their hometowns were not hospitable at all to him.
The next fun part was deciding were to meet....somewhere neutral and somewhat private was a paradox as well. For it is true he could call the meeting in his family home in Shar Vahl, but he knew that would bode poorly for some. Some would call it favoritism of his part to even having it on Luclin. Tsekande felt a headache coming on, and noticed Trouble meeting his eyes. At least the warder didn't have to mediate this coming up meeting that was taken place in an abandoned crypt in the Field of Bone.
As Tsekande entered the crypt, he noticed the huge old red throne in the bottom and made a mental note to set there - for it could very well help set the tone. Making sure the place was adequately lit – which was not by much for all his family members do see well in the dark - he waited for them to come.
He heard boots coming down the passage way and the familiar scent of one of the oldest 'family' members: Mita. As usual, her steps were hurried yet quiet. Trouble padded over to her and greeted her in his usual way: gently placed his paws on her shoulders and nuzzled her. Tsekande embraced Mita and noticed her black leather armor was carefully taken care of, yet in places were showing signs of wear. When he looked in the Fier'Dal's eyes, he noticed there were pain and a fury that could rival any storm he’d seen. Yet somehow, Tsekande felt it was something Mita did not wish to talk about.
"So..." started Mita quietly yet rather amused.”Whose brainchild is this that we meet in the Iksars' backyard?"
"Heh, I knew that wouldn't get passed you." Tsekande grinned sheepishly. "I think it was the best I could do off the top of my head. But be that as it may, I tend to be grudgingly respected by the troopers here - save for the crusaders. Well, if everyone remembers to use a little stealth, we shouldn't be noticed. The other three crypts in the surrounding area are occupied and having our meeting constantly interrupted by them wouldn't be conductive."
"Showing some common sense at least, finally." remarked Mita. "I could see how communication while beating up a rude stranger would not be the best in a meeting."
"But it would be interesting." hissed a familiar voice to Tsekande. Tsekande looked up at the female Iksar and mentally shook his head. Xiaofen was one of the middle aged members of his family. True, they are all not a family as in a flesh-and-blood way, but in a way that life does sometimes bring people together to walk life on the same road. Xiaofen was like the most of his clan, not exactly accepted by her society.
"Xiaofen, I am glad you can make it. I've heard from Tchien you're making good progress." Tsekande grinned at Xiaofen, but that was a wasted gesture on his part. He knew that to be true, but he couldn't help it. Xiaofen would probably never be happy with herself until she defeated the masters of her hometown for telling her she could not train to be a monk. Xiaofen said nothing, but did a single nod to him and Mita. Trouble did not go to greet her, but instead kept an eye on her.
Tsekande noticed that Xiaofen took excellent care of her dark burgandy and black leather armor, and with a twinge of envy noticed she had immensely superior weapons then he had at her age. Xiaofen sat farthest away from the light - Tsekande knew she was there, even if he could not see her without some difficulty. A slight shiver always accompanied the Iksar monk's presence; it was something about her that always caused that with him.
The three waited in silence, for not all have arrived yet, each lost in his/her own thoughts. Tsekande noticed Trouble decided to lay down next to Mita as if to let her lean against him like Tsekande often did while sitting in the outdoors looking at the night sky. Mita reluctantly paid the price of keeping the warder as a backrest - she scratched his ears until his low happy growling sounds could be heard. Trouble, true to his nature, made darn sure that Mita got both ears and the chin really good before he settled his head down on the ground. The tiger warder was content with the affection Mita had shown him, only every now and then lifting his head to glance at Xiaofen's location.
Soon a soft slapping-like sound was heard coming down the corridor consistent with someone with webbed feet hopping on the dank cobble stone floor. Tsidii was here. Tsekande had not seen the guktan froglok cleric for some time now, for she was away trying to make sense of recent events for her people. Tsekande made a mental note on Tsidii's armor - her choice of a bright pink wasn't what he'd liked, but Tsekande guessed that was one way to stop having ignorant humans calling her a he - for it looked like some parts of her armor needs to be repaired or replaced badly. Her eyes were the eyes of someone who was weary - but it would be hard to decide if it was from the chaos that erupted among the frogloks now or her own personal crisis of faith.
Tsekande purred a greeting to Tsidii and embraced her gently. He heard a savage hiss erupt from the corner that Xiaofen was hiding in, and it had the desired effect on Tsidii: she sat down real close the red throne that Tsekande claimed as his seat for this meeting, a bit disconcerted. She could see very well in the dark and had no problems at all seeing the Iksar crouched in the corner. Tsekande noticed that Mita had slightly shrugged when their eyes met - Tsekande winced for he knew Mita did not meet the youngest member of the family yet...
Apparantly Tsidii's reaction encouraged a more savage hiss from Xiaofen. Tsidii was exhausted and no shape to confront the Iksar - but Tsekande knew how to handle this: He laid his ears back and snarled at Xiaofen - the sound was like claws ripping through canvas - Tsekande bared his fangs in Xiaofen's direction.
"By the spirits of my ancestors, Xiaofen, you well show Tsidii and everyone here respect. If you think you can afford to lack in etiquette for you are 'superior', I'll show you how truly inferior you are! We cannot afford ancient rivalries among us, and I will not tolerate it." Tsekande meant what he said, even though the thought of fighting Xiaofen sickened his stomach. Iksars sometimes learned the hard way. Tsekande knew better then to force her into apologizing to Tsidii or having them sit together - some things are best left alone. “Cannot expect them to be friends, but at least they should be something akin to neutral despite the racial prejudices that die hard”, thought Tsekande. "Well, that will take some time to do too.”
Tsekande heard two voices coming down the passage way and grinned. They were among the youngest, but the sisters were a study in contrasts. Both of them hail from the Siamese bloodline – but the elder, Nyaah, had blue eyes, while her younger sister, Khavii had silver eyes like Tsekande’s. As Tsekande greeted both of them, noticing that both have green armor and both couldn’t have their armor in the same repair.
Nyaah, ever the wild one, was a berserker and her yellow-green armor in borderline repair. Tsekande noticed while Nyaah kept her superb two-handed sword in excellent condition and sharp – but her armor had chain links missing, rips in her leather parts, and even rust. Khavii had her dark-teal-green-almost-black armor in the best repair he’d ever seen and polished to a high sheen. Khavii may not have been tested in battle yet, but her discipline is admirable. Nyaah had some experience, but she too, wasn’t what Tsekande would consider seasoned yet.
Nyaah excitedly did a beeline to Xiaofen and shook her hand in greeting, dragging her into the light, then went to greet the others with the same amount of energy. Khavii was more reserved and just waved. Mita grinned at Nyaah, for Xiaofen’s expression was priceless as Nyaah greeted her, the look of contempt mixed with embarrassment from the Iksar was too good to forget anytime soon.
“Well, aren’t we all here?” ask Nyaah, “I’m most eager to get this done and back to what I was doing.”
“No, we’re not all here,” replied a new voice. “If you would ever bother reading the message, Nyaah, you would know that we are also having a new member to our family. Besides, how could this meeting go on without me?”
Laughing out loud, Tsekande agreed with Cryingwind. The shaman was the third eldest and her faded blue eyes twinkled as she purred a greeting to Tsekande, waved at Tsidii, the sisters, and Xiaofen. She gave Mita a bear hug and then held her out an arm’s length, studying her eyes. The lynx Vah Shir whispered something to Mita before setting next to her and patting Trouble on the head.
While waiting for the last member of the clan, there was various muted conversations – Tsekande getting updates from Tsidii about the events from her people and trying his best to give her encouragement; Nyaah went to Xiaofen and proceeded to pester her about what the Iksar was doing lately, making no attempt to hide her curiosity regardless of what the consequences may be; Mita and Cryingwind had their heads together talking about spells and potions; and Khavii stood watch alert like any Khala Dun would have done.
The conversations stopped abruptly as Khavii snarled, with a swift single motion drawing her blade and pinning someone in the shadows to the wall with her shield at the same time. “Who are you and what is your business here?” challenged Khavii, hissing and spitting in the stranger’s face. The stranger glared at Khavii, and then managed to slip from being pinned to the wall.
“I am Tarjaa, invited here by Tsekande.” The dark elf thief smirked at Khavii. “You got lucky this time warrior. Next time you won’t see me – ow!” Khavii gripped the dark elf’s arm and gave it a savage twist. “This time is the time that matters,” hissed Khavii, “for I could have killed you for you tried sneaking in here – what were you thinking of doing? There was no need to sneak in here, just past the Iksar patrols. Your arrogance can get you whacked in short order.”
“Okay, ladies, that’s enough!” growled Tsekande, his premonition of getting a headache was dead on. “It’s time we get things started. I see you two have already met for I recall Nyaah telling me that you caught her from trying to stash some of the clan funds for her own use.” Tsekande looked at the Tier’Dal who was trying to casually massage her upper arm. Her reddish orange armor a mix of chainmail and leather, spoke degrees about her cockiness, for that particular hue isn’t usually considered a good color for a stealthy avocation, and it also was well taken care of.
“Tsekande, you must be joking,” groaned Mita contemptuously, her eyes were hard as she looked Tarjaa in the eye. “A dark elf thief as a member of our family, what were you drinking when you thought about that?”
“Actually I was sober at the time,” replied Tsekande, wishing in fact that he did have a strong drink about right now, and ale wasn’t going to cut it. They had an Iksar member already, and she was tolerated...why would an Tier'Dal be so hard? “But she is like us, not precisely accepted by her people, and needs our support as well. We live in interesting times, ladies, and it bears to mind despite racial tensions, we can all learn to tolerate each other so we can be successful.”
“For in this day and age, no one can make it alone. There are rumors of war, conspiracy theories abound, and those in power of our respective hometowns will consider those who do not fit ‘the mold’ a threat. Mita, Xiaofen, and Tsidii already fit this discreption…”
“Don’t mention me in the same breath with someone that is good only as a slave,” interrupted Xiaofen highly offended.
“….as well Tarjaa it appears.” continued Tsekande, ignoring the monk’s outburst. “We all can benefit from each other working as a team. Xiaofen, if you interrupt me again, I’m going to have you muzzled and sitting next to Tsidii. If you even look at Tsidii wrong, you’re going to be knocked into next week by Tsidii herself, for I know she can connect very well with that hammer of hers. Clear?”
Xiaofen nodded slowly, glaring at Tsekande. How dare he heap indignities on her!
“Back to the business at hand, I know money’s a bit tight at the moment but it looks like….”
As the meeting wore on, Tsekande in the back of his mind wondered what type of catnip he was eating when he had this idea for a family. For living in interesting times, one cannot stress the importance of friendship enough – to cover one’s back and to enhance life. Only time can tell if his smaller family can get over the racial tensions and learn to work together.
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