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PostPosted: Wed Aug 18, '10, 7:43 pm
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It had been a clear day, and the temperature was agreeable for a change. Esmeray disposed of her coat earlier and felt perfectly adequate with only a couple of well-planned layers. Day was quickly giving way to dusk, but Esmeray wanted to get as much done as possible in the aviaries before Emanuel came to get her for supper. It was taking him longer than usual to greet her this evening, but he was often held up at the guild with paperwork.

Suddenly, Pax, Esmeray’s own owl, decided to annoy the Esper woman by getting in her hair.

“Hey! Pax!” Esmeray batted unsuccessfully at her owl. “Knock it off! I’m almost done, you silly thing. We’ll be eating soon.” She held out a small bit of rabbit meat she kept in her apron as a treat for Pax and the other raptors, but Pax ignored the food and continued pestering Esmeray. “What…” she swatted at Pax, “…what is your problem?” Esmeray started to worry.

She closed her eyes and held her gloved hand out. A ripple of air traveled from Esmeray’s hand to her bird and Pax soon stopped her frantic flapping and landed calmly on Esmeray’s outstretched hand. She continued to release small air currents towards Pax, soothing the distraught owl. After a minute Esmeray gently stroked the owl and spoke to it, as if the bird understood what she was saying.

“Are you better now? What was…” no sooner had she started talking to the bird than it took off again, this time away from Esmeray and towards the main door to the aviary. “Pax!” Esmeray called out. She held out her hand again, ready to subdue the bird once more with her techniques, when it hit her that Pax wasn’t just having a bad day. Something was wrong.

“Oh, of course,” Esmeray said aloud, shaking her head. “I’m sorry, Pax. You were trying to get my attention.” She rushed over to the door, opening it to let the bird fly free. Esmeray kept track of Pax through her energy, noting the owl was heading off to the western edge of Esper Mansion’s grounds. In the meantime, Esmeray headed back to the main building to alert the guards and medical staff that there might be a victim or intruder nearby. She would have to wait for a signal from Pax before she would know for sure what—or who—it was.

The first person she ran into inside Esper Mansion was Elder Grigor Vaughan, who was looking more agitated than usual and briskly flying towards the guardhouse. Esmeray waved to flag him down, but he marched right by her, not even caring that he had accidentally bumped shoulders with her. Shocked, Esmeray spun around to catch up with him.

“Wait! Elder Vaughan! I need your help!” she called to the man of about 60 years of age as she trotted along next to him.

“I’m afraid I can’t help you, Ms. Younan,” he said curtly, not stopping to look at Esmeray.

“But… it’s an emergency!”

“Then come with me to the guardhouse,” was his quick reply.

Good, Esmeray thought. If she was with an elder, they’d be more apt to believe her. Some of the guards were still skeptical she had trained birds of prey for tracking and often thought she was only crying wolf. Some of the more egotistical guards believed Esmeray was simply flirting with them. She hated going to the guardhouse by herself.

She continued to speak to Elder Vaughan as she traveled swiftly with him down the hallway. “I think Pax found someone to the west. No, wait…” she felt the bird’s energy change. “Make that southwest now.”

Elder Vaughan stopped abruptly. Esmeray put on the brakes as well, nearly tripping over her own boots to stop along with the older man.

“Say that again?” he asked, giving her his undivided attention.

Esmeray was a little taken aback by his intense interest in her. “Uh, Pax? I think she located someone to the southwest…”

Elder Vaughan suddenly grabbed the Esper woman by her upper arm and nearly dragged her along with him, even more purposefully than before. “Don’t lose track of that owl!” he ordered her sternly.

“Y-yes, sir…” Esmeray stuttered in puzzlement. “Wh-what’s going on?” By the time she asked that question they had reached the guardhouse. Grigor leaned forcefully into the door and the pair of Espers nearly crashed into the room.

Guardsman Andreas Tyler instantly jumped to his feet from behind the desk that was facing the door. “What is…” he began to grumble, but then noted that standing before him was one of the elders. “Oh, forgive me, Elder Vaughan, how may I…”

Grigor interrupted, “No time. Just get at least two guards and follow us to the southwestern edge of the property!”

Esmeray was still confused, and now she was a little scared, too. She was also quite tired of Grigor’s firm hold on her, but she decided that it was best if she only spoke when spoken to at this point. She was now being yanked in the opposite direction, out of guardhouse and towards one of the outer doors.

His grasp became a little too painful for Esmeray. “Elder Vaughan, I...” Esmeray started to speak up, looking down at the hand gripping her arm, “...I think I can keep up.”

He glanced her direction and towards her arm. “Oh. Right. Apologies, Master Younan.” Esmeray still wasn’t used to being called ‘Master,” despite having several apprentices under her now. Grigor let go of her arm and made sure she was keeping up with him as he flung the doors open and darted towards the edge of the property.

It wasn’t long before Esmeray was nearly mowed over by three guardsmen, including Andreas and, surprisingly, Warmaster Tyrus. Her heart was racing from more than just her exertion now. What was going on? She was struggling to meet their pace, and her right leg began to ache. She sent a small amount of res to dull the pain and continued running behind the elder and guardsmen.

One of the three guards, a sturdy woman with close-cropped green hair named Galena, turned around and hooked her arm around Esmeray’s waist, nearly picking her up. “I know about your leg,” she told Esmeray. “Hold on to me and we’ll get there faster.”

Grigor seemed agitated by their progress. “Where’s that bird?!” he barked back at Esmeray.

“Sh-she’s... uh...” it was getting easier to read Pax’s energy now that it was almost night, but Esmeray was having trouble concentrating. “She’s... no!!” Esmeray suddenly felt her owl was struck with a blast of tsu. “Someone’s hurting her!”

Grigor and the others immediately stopped running and turned to Esmeray. The young Esper woman was panting hard as she concentrated on finding out what had happened to Pax. Her bird wasn’t responding. “No! I-I... I can’t read her!” Esmeray wailed.

Tyrus impatiently grunted. “There’s no time for this. I don’t need birds. Galena! Andreas!” he called to his guards as he motioned for them to follow him. Elder Vaughan attended to Esmeray, who had fallen to the muddy ground, completely distressed and crying. He picked her up gently and led her back to the main grounds.

“Why won’t anyone tell me what’s going on?” she screamed as she leaned into the elder’s shoulder.

Grigor Vaughan looked behind him as the guards ran off, weapons at the ready, towards what he hoped was the man who had somehow found the ancient texts. What was happening on Palm these days? How did Emanuel even know where to look? He listened to Esmeray weeping into his shoulder and patted her on the back.

“You’ll find out soon enough,” he told her with a heavy heart.
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