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The Azure Steppes <Wildlands> <Wildlands>


Though the Wildlands are known as places of dark deeds and fel essentia, the reality once again manages to attain a considerable difference to the commonly held perception. Suffice to say, the vast rolling plains known as the Azure Steppes are magnificent to behold.
Nestled between the southern viridian reaches of the Veridgris Forest, and located to the north of the desolate Ashlands that scar the landscape further to the south, the Azure Steppes are easy to describe: A seemingly endless stretch of lush bluish-green grassland, populated by a sporadic smattering of monoecious deciduous trees and shrubs.
Apparently fed by the moisture that swirls and seeps from the rushing waters of the Jadesnake to the west, the Steppes are indeed an oasis of serenity within an otherwise cold and hostile panorama.
Animals of various species - from curiously hued Leporidae that sport streaked tawny and white fur, to majestic birds of prey too numerous to count - dance and scurry both over and within the ocean of violaceous grasses, adding a final touch of tranquility to a region that already remains a wildcard of natural geology.
However, such peace comes with a price, for the amount of cover granted to those who stand taller than the grasses themselves may often find themselves exposed to the elements when not close to the sanctuary that the dappled thickets provide. And, of course, the Ashlands to the far south - once an ancient and malevolent forest - are a constant reminder that all good things must come to an end.

Standing among the tall grasses, Vhramis is engaged in putting together a simple lean-to to guard against any wind that decides to blow. Though the air is still, the man doesn't seem willing to take any chances.


Theo sits on the ground, under a tree. His expression is glum and somewhat pained as he dutifully rubs his left ankle. A freshly scabbed cut stands out on his chin. "I want a fire," he whines to himself. "And a bed."


"I'll start one in a minute," Vhramis offers as he pulls back on a piece of rope latched to some of the poles of the lean-to, pulling it taut, and tying it off. He looks about the area with a faint frown and rubs at his nose. "Should be out of this area soon," he murmurs. Theo perks up, "Really. And truely?" He glances around, "I mean is it safe now to do it?" He seems both excited and concerned at the thought.


"I'll build it low...we need at least some heat. And start pulling up any nearby grass. I don't want to start a wildfire or anything," Vhramis shrugs. "I like it better in the woods."


Theo looks positively delighted, a bright smile taking over his face. "You dunno how happy this makes me. I never thought the the thought of a fire seems like the best thing ever."


Nodding his head, Vhramis steps away from the shelter, giving it a last look, before turning his attention to finding somewhere to safely make a fire. "Too bad it's not inside somewhere. That'd make it much better."


"I don't care," Theo states emphatically. "It's better then nuthin'. I mean look around, there is no insides fer miles and miles."


And, true enough, there is a lot of nothing. Well, nothing as far as civilization goes. Though there's lots of insects apparently, by the sounds of it. "We're making good speed, at anyrate," he shrugs, beginning to stack stones into a circle.


"Well how long then?" Theo grumbles and leans forward to play at the bad ankle. "Feels like we been out 'ere fer months and months."


"I'm unsure," Vhramis answers with a thoughtful noise, piling up brush he collected earlier into the circle of rocks. "Not overly long. We're getting closer, though. Patience, please. Just a bit more."


Theo shrugs as he leans his head against the trunk and stares up into the branches. "Not like I have much choice," he says glumly. "You knows, I'm gonna eat soooo much when I get back, roast and ale and bread and pie and fried potatos."


"I could go for some beer," Vhramis states after a moment, pausing in his work to quirk a smile to Theo. "Been a while since I had a decent one. Or wine. I've survived off my own cooking for way too long."


"Or some real nice honey mead," Theo adds, smiling a little at the thought. "My Ma makes the best in the district. Think I'm gonna get me a whole keg."


Vhramis looks back down to the fuel to ensure that all is properly prepared. "What are you going to do once you quit the Blades?"


Theo doesn't look down from his careful study of tree branches. He shrugs, "Dunno. Haven't really thought bout it much. Not sure what I could do. Go back home I guess."


Nodding his head, Vhramis starts working to ignite the fire. "No idea what I'm going to do. Don't think there's all that much left for me back there. Though I want to see some friends I've been seperated from for a long while."


"Yeah I gots some of those, spose I should track Kyler down and maybe Mayda," he grins a little. "Though I think they prob tink I'm dead by now." He turns his attention to the lighting of the fire, "Yah got some nice ones waitin'?"


Vhramis chuckles and shakes his head, either not willing to talk about it, or in a negative response. "It'll just be...odd to be back."


"Well I got a nice on. A real nice one," Theo says, seemingly not to fussed with Vhramis's dismissal of his question. "She said that she thought I was real brave to head out 'ere and all."


"Was it entirely your choice?" Vhramis asks with an amused chuckle, sparking the brush and setting it alight. "Well...I wish your luck with it. You'll have some stories to tell her."


"Spose I will, maybe I'll be a hero or something." Theo grins with amusement finding the whole thought quite funny. "What will you do? I mean what can you do an all?"


"Come back here, probably," Vhramis shrugs at that, nursing the fire. "I don't think I'll like walking around getting looked at crosseyed everywhere I go. I doubt people will forget I've been out here that quickly."


Theo suddenly frowns as if he just realizes something. "No," he states, "That ain't gonna happen. Peop'e be fine wit it. I knows it. Cause if they aren't they may look at me too if they knows."


"Just keep your head low, then, if you're worried," Vhramis suggests after a moment, shrugging, and stacking the wood a bit higher. "But...now that I think of it, I doubt people really care as much about us as we'd like to think."


Theo gingerly touches the wound on his chin as he thinks about this whole new situation. "Well I hope so. I mean maybe not so many know us anyways. Not like we're a big deal or nuthin'." He shrugs, "Well at least I'm not."


Shrugging, Vhramis sits back on his haunches, watching the flames. "Yeah, I doubt they'll even give us a second look once we're there. It's not like we'll be wearing signs announcing where we came from." He chuckles quietly at that.


Theo leaves his spot by the tree and half crawls and shuffles closer the the fire. He holds his hands out and grins, "Warm...yeeees."


"...I'd like to get the skin off of some of the animals I've seen round this area, though," Vhramis adds after a moment, sounding distant. "Never seen something like that before."


"Well shoot some then," Theo replies as if it is the most obvious thing in the world.


Vhramis lifts an eyebrow and looks over to Theo. "Do you really think I want to haul around skins with me for a long trek? That'd get pretty heavy quick, don't you think?"


"Yeah I guess, yer right," Theo replies, in a dejected tone as he realizes it isn't as obvious as he thought before. "You know, maybe I should sleep. This fire is makin' my eyes heavy."


"I'll stay up," Vhramis nods to him. "I'll wake you in a few hours to watch. Don't get too comfortable." He grins over to the guardian.


Theo wrinkles his nose as he goes about arranging his bedroll next to the fire. He shuffles into it, "Yeah alright spose so..."

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