Lu had found her way across into the old portion of the elven city. Though it had grown dark and there wasn’t much firelight here, it didn’t bother her as she moved through the darkness feeling some comfort in the shadows as her eyes cast around through the moonlight that illuminated the pictures and etching upon the walls.
Caw huddled upon her shoulder, ruffled his feathers from time to time but had remained silent occasionally pecking at strands of her tangled braided hair.
With awe she gently caressed one of the paintings upon the wall with her fingers, trying to take every fine detail in through the pale light of the moon. She would never have dreamed to come to such a place when she was younger, and though these times were dire and much strife back the way they had come and were to go once more, she couldn’t help but find herself settling into the quiet, graceful stillness of this magical place. There was no sense of danger, and though a sense of discomfort loomed over her it rested quietly in the back of her mind as the others were far from her.
She stepped quietly across great stone walkways caressing the stonework. There was no such works of art in mordor, carvings were crude and made carelessly, after all there was no time to waste on making something look nice but here not only was it beautiful, it was sturdy.
She paused at another mural and could only wonder what story it was telling as she traced her fingers along the figures.
Fen trailed the halls slowly, taking in the dusty halls and overgrown walls. The scents were strange amongst the elven home, the images strangely preserved despite the call of time. While he had gone to hunt a place to rest among nature, the halls had called to him. Knowing that this is what the Dalish could have been, architects of the lands and people, left a sour note in his mouth. Nothing about these lands they were upon seemed natural or familiar, even the trees held a different scent to it.
His wanderings pulled him around the visual paintings and etchings along the wall, the lengthening shadows giving them an ethereal visage that etched in his mind. He paused though as a new scent caught his mind. The shifting dust and the scent of sun baked flesh and fur drew him up short. Hands rested upon his weapons as he shifted the wolf helm down upon his face, readying for anything. Was it enemy or other? Had another been drawn the mysteries and intrigue of the forgotten treasures carved into the stones. Fen shifted forward, keeping his body still as he watched the ground, waiting for the shift in shadows.
What first caught his eyes was the visage of pointed ears and elongated snout of a wolf. Fen smirked to himself, not surprised that a creature would find its way into these halls, a cozy dry home, with more than enough room to claim as their own. He had thought first of confronting the creature first, but caution drew him short. These were not his forest kin, nor would they know his calm. A look over his shoulder told him that the people in the main city would not falter in killing this kind beast for its flesh and meat.
Shifting the cloak over his form and lowering the helm more, he scuffed the ground, moving into the fading light, allowing his form to cast his own shadow down the halls. He would lead this creature out of the halls, back into the nearby woods.
Lu had been sucked into the story she didn’t understand detailed on the walls before her, her steps slow as she paused every now and then to study the weather faded colors. As enthralled as she was with this place she still caught the sound of shuffling down the hall and stopped casting her eyes down the hall. In the moonlight she could make out the telltale form of what looked to be a large wolf.
Lu quietly cursed herself for laxing her guard, She’d been so caught up in her exploration she’d all but forgotten to be wry in this place that she assumed she would be at least safe. All to used to seeing massive wargs roaming the waists of her home she could only wonder how one had made it this far into the evelen city without being spotted? Had another stray orc tribe attacked? And why did she not hear any fighting?
Fortunately Caw remained quiet but she was certain that it had spotted her, out running a warg was impossible on foot, but they were large and graceless she might be able to lose it in the halls and forge her way back to the city to warn the others.
Lu ducked suddenly into the shadows and pounded down the hall in the opposite direction fumbling for her dagger as she ran.
As soon as Fen heard the pounding steps and vanishing shadows, Fen knew his plan was botched. The creature had decided to take flight into the ruined halls, and he knew letting it run free only let it get closer to the army. Giving a low grumble in his chest, Fen took off after the fleeing shadow, slipping on his metal claws quietly. Already thoughts of neutralizing the creature in hopes to bring it away from the people.
*Cursed beast* Fen grumbled through his chest as he kept even pace with the wolf shadow, trying to gain distance over the beast without causing it to turn on him in aggresion.
Caw flapped his wings as he clutched into her shoulder keeping himself tucked against her as closely as possible as she ran, knife in her hand. To her confusion she didn’t hear the click of massive claws on stone or the ragged breath and growl of a warg right on her heels. She glanced over her shoulder noticing the shadow following her but at an even pace.
This was not the way of a warg, at least none that she’d ever known. Could it be a Caragor? But that seemed even less likely. But it was far too large to be a regular wolf.
Lu ducked around a piller and made for a set of stairs leading down, half way down she made a leap off the side and into some trees and shrubs below. She landed heavily on all fours before she began to hastily pick her way through the brush. Wargs were not graceful and if it was indeed one she’d hear it crashing around behind her as she found a suitable spot to hunker down.
Fen was surprised at how quick it had managed to keep ahead of him, the shadow his only mark to follow. He kept up his pace as soon as he heard the massive thud as a body hit the ground. Moving closer, Fen stalled at the top set of stairs, scanning the ground. Looking across what he could see, the beast had either misstepped and dropped onto the ground, or had taken an unplanned shortcut. Looking across the wall, he tested it's strength and how well he could grip into it. Gripping it, he swung his body over it, letting his weight pull him down, his metal claws slow his descent to land onto the damp ground nearby.
"Now, where are you?" Fen whispered to himself, shifting his weight as he inched forward, his body coiled and ready. He knew how the woods worked, shadows offering sanctuary and scares. The beast, if it decided to attack him, would be able to attack from any moment, so Fen had to be ready for anything. Years in the forests prepared him for his lands, but this world was not his, so the shadows held no warmth for him. If he wanted to survive it, he would have to be alert for anything that may come his way.
Lu hunkered in the deep shadows of the trees, knife held in front of her at the ready as she strained her ears. She cocked her head, she shouldn’t have to strain this hard to hear a warg, but what she did hear instead was the strange metallic strace against stone. She was taken back. Was it not a warg chasing her? Then what was it?
She heard a whisper of a voice but could not make out the words. Was she being followed by a person? Lu did not move as she thought over her options. If it was a person she could wait them out. But were they friend or foe? Caw seemed to grow impatient with the quiet and picked at strands of her hair. She ignored him as she strained to hear where this thing might be moving before she’d attempt to move around it in the opposite direction preferring not to have a confrontation of any kind.
Caw shifted his weight, beginning to bob on her shoulder not seeming to sense the tension or not seeming to care before he was swept off her shoulder by a low hanging branch. The bird burst into complaint, as he struggled to right himself from his back and back into his feet. Lu whipped around trying to locate the black bird in the dark.
Fen stalled as the distressed sounds of a crow in the air, his eyes pivoting around the shadows. Had the wolf startled a crows nest? Had he done so while hunting his target? He tilted his head towards the tree line, looking for the source. He hunched to the ground further, coiling muscles and slowing his breath. Fen needed to be ready for anything that might strike him. He began shifting around his weight, scanning the trees for darker shades. He scanned, his ears straining for any noise outside the crow...There!
"You're mine!" Fen growled deep as he pounced, aiming for where both the sound and darker shadows had resided. Muscles snapped apart as he directed himself, arms outstretched to catch the wolf square in the chest.
Lu had located Caw by sound and could just make out the frantic bird though the sheen on his feathers. But before she could scoop the bird up into her protective arms she heard words she’d only heard once before when she was still young.
Lu felt something collide with her, knocking her to the ground. A heavy grunt was pulled from her upon impact with the ground before she started flailing wildly at the heavy weight on top of her, knife glinting in the vague light. She’d survived for so long she was not about to be brought down here.
Fen rolled off as the two bodies rolled across the ground. When he had managed to connect with the shadow of what he figured to be the wolf, feeling the flesh and muscles instead of sinew and fur. As he righted himself, he could see the silhouette of the orc woman that was with him. Fen hadn't the chance to talk with her, but he recognized that helm of hers, the shadows having made it harder to tell.
"Ah, you're not a wolf." Fen responded as he raised his hands in a gesture of peace.
Lu felt the weight leave and she quickly rolled to her knees, knife out in front of her. She however froze as she heard it speak. She cocked her head but remained tense. “And you are not a warg.” She responded by studying the shadow for a moment where it stood before she started to skirt around, keeping at a distance still as she made her way to the still struggling crow.
With her empty hand she scooped up the crow, but in this light she couldn’t make out if he was injured or not, just the faint glint of his black eyes. But she made sure the stranger's shadow was always in sight as she slowly pushed herself to her feet. “You're from the far lands.” She said after a moment only relaxing a little. “With the strange Elves and men.” Perhaps that was rude, they were only strange to her, as she was to them. Against her instincts she sheathed her knife.
"I did not mean to attack. I thought you a wolf." Fen spoke as he placed his weapons away, drawing himself upright from his crouched position. Giving a slight stretch of his body, he moved towards an open area, able to view her in the waning light. He could make out the dark clothing and the dark crow that rested in her grasp. Rolling his shoulders, he studied her even further.
"You're one of those strange Orc people from before." Fen responded after he shifted the helm upright to see the woman orc better than before.
Lu hesitated for a moment as he moved into a more open spot, where the moon revealed more. But after a moment she moved after him, though remained a wry distance. He wasn’t hostile now, perhaps it was a misunderstanding, she two thought he was an animal after all.
She pushed her hood back allowing it to fall revealing her tangled braided nest of hair. She glanced at him once before turning her eyes to caw to examine him. “Yes, I am an orc.” she confirmed. It never really seemed to matter to differentiate between a full orc and a half orc so she didn’t bother as she carefully examined Caw’s healing wing. “I was not expecting anyone else to be in the ruins.” She admitted after a moment. She was glad it wasn’t an elf though, they would be less friendly with her being here she thought.
" I am not. They are rather enticing and quiet." Fen spoke as he settled against the wall, taking in the ruins before taking in the woman. He studied the girl, taking in the dagger by her side and the crow on her shoulder. The wild tangle of her braided hair, giving her a much more wild yet human look from the creatures they had fought not long before.
"My name is Da'lenfen, grey warden and dalish elf of the woods. I go by Fen." Fen introduced himself.
The she orc nodded in agreement about the ruins pausing to look them over once more but pulled her mind from the tantalizing pictures in the halls and back to her company. Lu perked a little as he mentioned that he was, in fact, an elf. Curious, he had not been able to tell in the moonlight The elves she knew and these Dalish were… different.. She mulled over his name for a moment. “I am Lushak. And this is caw.” She said as the bird pecked at one of her braids as if to remind her that he was there and deserved an introduction as well.
There was a pause before Lu leaned a little closer, but did not step closer. “You're different from the elves in these lands.” Even here there were different elves, but they all seemed to share the same high magical air about them but from a distance she’d noticed the Dalish carry themselves differently.
"I have noted that. I am not sure what caused it, but seeing what could have been, I feel at a loss. Our lands are a vast difference from what this is." Fen spoke, nodding at Lushak at her notice of their differences, yet just as it was. There was no avoidance or distaste in her tons. Just stated fact.
"So, why fight on our side?" He asked her quite bluntly, fixing her with a steady gaze.
Lu blinked slowly at the direct question. A good question. “I’m not the only orc that’s fighting with the free races.” She responded. “Some tribes have an... Uneasy truce, Mordor was the first to be claimed by these wrong and they were pushed from their hunting grounds. some had at least enough sense to know they could not survive without… a fragile alliance.” She gave a shrug. “Besides that, I hold little love for my kin to begin with.” she said recalling the few she’d killed at the raid when their new allies first arrived.
"A fight for mutual survival. I can understand that." Fen spoke with a now of his head, giving the orc a genuine smile. His only worry was how passive she was of fighting her own kind so easily. Would that lead her to joining the winning side if it came down to the wire, or would whatever honor she had keep her on their side.
"So what brought you to these ruins? Looking for a place to rest?" Fen asked the woman, eyes wondering over caw.
Lu nodded in return, watching his smile. The smiles between orcs and free races were vastly different, when an Orc smiled it meant something terrible was going to happen to someone, when a free race smiled it meant something entirely different. It was curious but much nicer.
“Not really.” She said after a moment. “I was… curious. There’s no such structures in Mordor, nothing quite this… beautiful.” She admitted. Compared to all the new places she’d seen, Mordor was quite bleak.
"I can understand that feeling. Thedas has its places, but nothing the Dalish have retained match this beauty." Fen spoke, waving absentmindedly around the place. He could relate to looking over the place for its history and possibilities. She was in awe of its looks while Fen was enjoying it for the potential that could have been.
"We shouldn't linger here for long though. Not sure how long we'll be here, and rest would be good." Fen commented to Lu, stretching himself to his full height.
“Yes, I suppose you are right.” Lu agreed almost reluctantly.