Valley Visitors

Tales from the Atreblan Valley

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Michelle Montoya
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Location: Atrebla Manor

Valley Visitors

Post by Michelle Montoya » Thu Jun 27, 2019 1:56 am

May 2019
Atrebla Valley

It was a pleasant morning in the valley, and a gentle cool breeze ruffled Michelle’s hair as the horses grazed lazily on the spring grass. The snow capped peaks had begun their melt and the river below the path had risen up the banks with the fresh inflow of water. Michelle waited near the portal to Rhy’din with three horses for Mist, Amaris and herself. She wasn’t sure if Amaris could ride but if not they could stable the horse at the Beacon along the way.

With the smallest glimmer, like vibrations in the air, her guests appeared. Mist flickered a smile as he looked around, then gestured to Amaris to walk along with him. He dipped a polite bow to Michelle, and regarded the horses brightly. He did love horses, though he wasn’t sure if Amaris could ride either, though he had his own horses.

“Hello. Do you know how to ride, Amaris, or will you ride with Michelle or I?” he noted, first of all.

The young woman followed along beside Mist almost attached at his hip, after her previous night she seemed a little more subdued. Her eyes shifted towards the horses giving a small wave at Michelle and then shook her head to Mist “I haven’t ever rode a horse before…” She shifted a little uncertain “I… guess I can ride with you.”

Michelle allowed her visitors to get settled with their mounts before leading them up the valley towards the Beacon of Truth. “I trust you found the portal outside of Rhy’din easily enough, considering you made it here. Welcome to my favourite place in all the realms- the valley of Atrebla.” She gestured to the tall coniferous trees, the clear waters and the snow capped mountains. “We will take the abbreviated route to the manor through a series of portals but we’ll make a few side trips to see some of the views and breathtaking vistas.”

“That sounds lovely,” Mist replied with a flare of smile. He had pulled Amaris to the horse behind him, and guided the animal easily after Michelle. His gaze settled onto the beacon curiously, but for now, he mostly just looked around and enjoyed the quiet ride.

Amaris had hid behind Mists leg, when it was time to mount up. The horses nickered and didn’t seem to happy with her being so close but she was safely settled behind Mist at this point. She was quietly looking around and taking in the views she pointed out. Her voice was soft in Mist’s ear “What is that?” She pointed to the beacon curiously. After her last dueling she was a bit more quiet.

“I don’t know,” he mused, and looked to Michelle curiously, head tipping. The Beacon was a collection of buildings walled with stone fortifications and a singular tower overlooking the valley. It was simple, but held an impressive quality due to its strategic design and location.

“That’s the primary muster point of our local military force, The Guardians of Truth. At one point they were considered a guild and it included my father and mentor, Topaz. When I was young they inducted me in as a Lady at Arms, a title I still hold. The Guardians are the first line of defence but also help with more local matters in the valley and, sometimes up at the manor. A series of hidden but accessible portals begins at The Beacon allowing the typical two-day journey across the valley to take less than an hour.”

She pointed out the lake just north of The Beacon, “this is Alpine lake, fed by the glacier melt further up the valley. You can see a variety of sedges and forbs in the meadow beside it, including some of my favourite specimens like milkweed and cotton grass.” Michelle led them on a riding trail past the Beacon pointing out various flowers and plants native to the valley. Their journey consisted of brief periods of riding punctuated by portals which took them past long stretches of trail.

Their first real stop was the town itself which had a rustic but attractive ambience.

Mist took in the sights quietly, his gaze warm as he looked it all over. It seemed familiar to him, a realm before telephone poles and repeater towers, skyscrapers and cars. It was all beautiful.

As they rode through the town Michelle softened their pace, “Are you hungry at all? Or would you like to take a look at some of the local artists and craftsmen?”

Amaris’ stomach gave a soft growl and she’d blush “I can always eat” she grinned a little looking to Mist to find out if he would agree.

“Food sounds like a grand idea,” he replied with a chuckle, ruffling Amaris’s hair, as if he’d heard nothing. “And I always like to see fabrics and carvings and such.”

“Delightful! I’ll take you to some of my favourite places.”

((Co-written with Mist and Amaris))
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Michelle Montoya
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Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Post by Michelle Montoya » Thu Jul 04, 2019 11:43 pm

Michelle guided them through the last series of portals from the town to her home. In the centre of the manor was the dojo and the orchard was nearby along with a stunning view of the valley. Mist chuckled, swinging Amaris down from the horse before dismounting, looking around in curiosity.

After stabling the horses Michelle led them through a backdoor to an open concept kitchen and quickly handed out aprons. “What kind of pie would you like to make Amaris? A fruit pie? A cream pie? A --” before she could finish cheers of delight were heard in another part of the manor. Michelle merely smiled and continued on, “a meat pie?”

Mist found it an interesting house, he took an apron, rather bemused, to put on, and the helped Amaris with another apron. She happily took the apron putting it on carefully with some help from Mist.

“Peanut butter and chocolate pie? Please?” Yes, Amaris wanted to start hard pies first apparently, and then there were plenty of little ones scrambling around. As the kids spilled in, Mist simply offered a quiet place for Amaris to hide and peer at the other children, holding out an arm. Hearing the noise, Amaris blinked looking around and hid behind Mist. She looked up at Mist then Michelle nervously. Even if she’d met them before she was still uncertain if she was ready to meet others her age.

The eldest child, a boy with dark curly brown hair was yelling at the three girls “hey! HEY! Mom said not to come rushing in! Aaaarrgghh.” He rolled his eyes and looked at Michelle. “I’m sorry Mom.”

At the same time Allen was apologizing the youngest girl was tugging on Michelle’s shirt. “Do we get to make pies too? Pleeeeeaassee.” Michelle’s eyes quickly ticked towards Amaris, gauging the young woman’s reaction before responding.

Amaris pulled on her braid a moment, looking at the girls and their brother, then looking up between Mist and Michelle. Her focus back to the youngest and gave her a small smile - it couldn’t be bad if they all worked together. Shyly she looked at the others “Hi” and gave a small wave.

The smallest girl, just under three feet, with her loose brown hair and big brown eyes grinned at Amaris. “Hi! I’m Bethie. This is my sister Lilly,” she pointed to a girl with matching brown eyes and longer brown hair, “and this is Allen, he doesn’t like to be called Al, and this is Nadella but we just call her Ella” she pointed to the other boy and the last girl who stood out with blonde hair and blue eyes. “What’s your name?”

She listened closely “I’m Amaris” She scrunched up her eyes a moment “I’m gonna try to remember your names …” she moved a little out from behind Mist but just to stand at his side pushing against him. “Michelle said she was gonna teach me how to bake a pie” lame explanation but it was the best conversation piece she could think of just edging her way into being comfortable.

“Well, let’s get started with the crust and the cream.” Lilly, not one for making pies, left as soon as the baking started. Allen started whipping the heavy cream and Michelle sent the two girls to find three 9-inch pie plates. While the girls looked for the dishes Michelle pulled out the recipe for Amaris. To make sure everyone got a chance to make graham crust Michelle gave a brief demonstration of pressing the graham mixture into the pie plate before pairing everyone off: Michelle and Nadella, Allen and Beth, and Mist with Amaris.

Allen leaned against the counter while watching Beth but he was clearly more curious about the visitors. “Mom says you live in Rhy’din. I get to visit there every weekend and spar with Thia.”
Mist leaned back and watched with a faint flickering of smile on his face. He didn’t mind the littles swarming around, and was happy to find that Amaris was able to interact with them. When Michelle drafted him into pie crust making, he was helpful but let Amaris do the work - he already knew how to make pies, but this exotic peanut butter concoction was definitely new to him.

Amaris looked at recipe eyes wide “That looks amazing!” Watching the demonstration closely she’d rush off to get started with Mist getting the bowl and mixing together the Graham cracker crumbs and both sugars and the butter together, then took the pie dish and started to pressing the crushed graham crackers into it carefully. She looked at Allen “I use to live in the Arena. Nae-Ray let me work there so I could get a room and get paid too. I moved in with dad a few days back though so I live with him now.” She motioned to Mist “I love to duel! I have a mentor in unarmed fighting and I’m a member of House Steel. Auntie Rachael is really good at teaching me, so is my other dad… when he gets back” She bit her lip and looked at the recipe trying to push thoughts out of her head. She blinked “Oh and I’m a squire of Old Temple.”

Allen’s eyes widened and he looked over to his mother. “How come she gets to fight in the rings? And be a squire?!” Michelle just pursed her lips while helping Nadella put the pie crust in the bottom freezer. The heavy cream was already set aside in the fridge. With her kitchen being more like an industrial operation she pulled out three mixers and had the teams blend the cream cheese, sugar, peanut butter and vanilla.

“Why did you live in the arena?” Allen finally asked. “Why weren’t you living with your dad? Was he gone or sick or something?”

Amaris blinked at Allen’s reaction then looked at what Mist was doing because she had no idea how to measure. She murmured to Mist “how do you know how much to put in? Is it that,” she pointed at the ¾ cup. With the crust she’d just eyeballed and copied the others but this was confusing her.

Mist simply smiled, and moved so Amaris could get at the bowl. “Three-quarters of a cup,” he murmured in agreement to her. “Read what the instructions say, then, we find the measure. If it says a cup, we use the cup…” Quiet words as he indicated the various measuring cups and spoons.

She bit her lip at Allen’s question “Mist is my adopted dad, I…” She cut off looking down closing her eyes and taking a few deep breaths “My first parents, they’re dead” she altered her explanation, hurting too much to say she killed them “I escaped from the detective’s bag and found myself in Rhydin alone… That’s when I met Benny and later Mist. I had nowhere to live for a while … and” She muttered low “I stole a lot to eat and Nae-Rae saw me and offered me a job and a place at the arena because I like to fight and was there a lot. Both my dads took care of me really good, but… Benny can’t take care of me right now so I stay with Mist.” She busied herself by trying to help Mist a bit.

This was her conversation to have, and probably annoyingly to Amaris, Mist played dumb. He smiled and was warm with support … but nothing he was saying was helpful… except about what to put into the pie when. That he was suspiciously good at.

Allen didn’t seem perturbed by her explanation in the slightest. “I’m sorry your parents died and that you had to steal food. That sucks.” He opened his mouth to say something when Michelle spoke up.

“Alright kids, I’ll show you what it means to fold the whipping cream into your peanut butter mixture.” She took the whipping cream from the fridge and with her hand over Nadella’s showed the kids how to use the spatula to fold in the cream.

((Co-written by Mist, Michelle and Amaris. Thia’s character belongs to Koyliak and was referenced with permission.))
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Michelle Montoya
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We Bond over Food

Post by Michelle Montoya » Thu Jul 25, 2019 8:19 pm

After the demonstration Allen picked up the conversation. “My grandpa was murdered. I never got to meet him. And my dad is sick, so he can’t take care of us either. But we still love him. It’s super lucky that you get to fight at the arena.” His cheerful voice was full of awe and a bit of envy with the last statement.

Lavender eyes looked up at Allen… “It does suck, but they weren’t murdered, I killed them.” The difference between her killing her parents and murder, was that murder was done by someone unknown, at least to her. She had said this matter of factly but also with a little trouble because she hated that she had done it. She watched the demonstration and did as Michelle had shown them “I can fight lots of people, I even fought Runt once or twice,” she didn’t tell Mist she still was fighting him. Mist would be very disappointed to know that she was. He still just listened between the kids, seeming entirely calm and quiet while he directed Amaris through the mixing of the pie, before glancing again at the recipe.

Halfway through folding in the cream Beth stopped and stared at Amaris. Allen gave her a very confused, disbelieving look. “What do you mean you killed your parents?”

Michelle, caught off guard by the turn in the kids conversation looked up at Mist as she quickly helped Nadella pour the filling into the crust. “Go find Lilly and play with her.”

“But I wanna finish!”

Now Nadella.”

Amaris, unperturbed blinked at Allen, “I wolfed out, I didn’t mean to do it but I attacked them. I don’t remember doing it but that’s happened before.” then shifted unsure one foot to the other, looking up at Michelle “Did… I say something wrong?” she looked up at her

At the same time both Allen and Michelle began to speak.

“What does wolfed out even mean?!”

“You didn’t say anything wrong.”

Michelle turned to her son, “don’t interrogate her Allen. Help Beth put the filling in the pie, you can ask your questions at a later time.” Her voice was soft, and calm, but held a slight emphasis on the words ‘later’. Turning to her guest, Michelle smoothly continued, “your folding looks wonderful Amaris. Once you’re done we can gather the materials for the ganache.”

Amaris frowned a little looking at Allen almost ready to answer but stopped talking about it because Michelle had said later “Thanks!” she finished folding the ingredients then looked up “what’s next?”

“She always leads with her big guns, Michelle,” Mist chuckled softly, “I think she’s still trying to see if people will run away screaming from her.” He wryly thought to himself ”Poor Michelle!”. Amaris had her ways and sometimes, she was little cannon ball rolling around. But kids were kids, and he wouldn’t doubt that the kids would decide this was all somehow really cool or really creepy.

Amaris, confused and then indignant, blinked looking at her hands “I don’t have guns…” She frowned and stomped a foot “I’m not trying to make people run away!”

“Not real guns, but you always say the big things first,” he explained, tilting his head and watching her warmly, “I’ll believe you, then. It’s not a bad thing, but it can make other people uncomfortable.” Since, inevitably, she would have to learn to place her filter in her own time.

Allen raised his eyebrows at the conversation but he did as he was told. Michelle directed her son and Amaris to collect the heavy cream and chocolate chips. While they gathered the materials she sent Beth to go and play with Nadella while setting up a pot to boil the cream. This part was easier with fewer hands.

“We’re going to do this part here,” she pointed at the recipe. “I’ll let you two work together and let you know if the cream is starting to scald. Allen, you can ask your questions while the timer is on.”

Amaris started to pour the cream carefully into the pan looking at Allen thinking Michelle meant now so as she stirred and talked. “I’m a werewolf… When I wolf out it means I become a wolf… sometimes I can control it sometimes I can’t. When I attacked my parents, and bit the giant Runt and My pops I couldn’t control it, can’t remember it too well either really.” She bit her lip watching the cream carefully.

Mist simply settled back and watched and listened. These were things that Amaris had to work through, after all. Allen looked thoughtful for a moment then that nodded. “It sounds like puberty, but worse.” He watched the cream as well. “But being a wolf sounds pretty cool. How fast can you run when you’re a wolf?”

She looked at Allen a little color on her cheeks but nodded “like double worse.” She muttered softly, “I have to constantly hide away during the full moon, so I don’t bite people.” She finished the part of the pie and reached for the chocolate chips shutting off the heat at the same time then added them to the cream pushing them down till the cream was over the top of the chips then put the lid on like the recipe said to do. “I do like to run and howl so I suppose it’s pretty cool… I would love to run with a pack or have another wolf to be around when the moons full… and maybe as a friend someday.” She shrugged, “I don’t know how fast I think pretty fast…”

“Well, I’m not a wolf but I can run pretty fast too. Hey, when we’re done with the pie do you want to go spar in the dojo?”

Amaris blinked as she looked over at her pie that was waiting for the chocolate then over at the cooling chocolate then back over at Allen and nodded “I would really like to spar!” she looked over to Michelle and Mist “Can I?”

The baker glanced over at Mist “I’m fine with it if you are.”

“That’d be fine,” he chuckled softly, rumpling Amaris’s hair gently. Amaris smiled, clapping her hands in delight.

While the two youths worked with the chocolate chips Michelle settled back to watch with Mist. Her tone hinted at other worries when she spoke softly to the healer, “I was thinking they could play while the pie is in the freezer for half an hour, and we could go see my husband.” Mist turned a nod to Michelle with a flicker of a smile. All he knew was that things were going poorly for the man. He hoped that he could help.

The aroma of chocolate and peanut butter was wafting through the kitchen along the squeals of delight from outside the manor. Amaris looked at Allen then looked at the chocolate then over to Michelle “can we pour it yet is it cool enough?” The baker stepped over to examine their work and nodded, “yes, it’s ready.” Allen started to pour the melted chocolate chips over, grinning at Amaris. “I’m going to use a shortsword, like Gloria does. What do you fight with?”

She finished her pie and reached down to her ankle pulling out the knife Benny had given her “My pops gave me this.” She moved to her backpack and fished out her scepter “I have this to duel with it’s my squires weapon” She smiled and then pulled out her sword that Mist had Izumi make for her. “This is falling star, I named it myself!” She smiled proudly “Lets go spar!"

((Co-written with Michelle, Amaris and Mist))
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Michelle Montoya
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Maladies of the Heart

Post by Michelle Montoya » Mon Aug 19, 2019 6:40 pm

August 2019
Atrebla Manor

Michelle set Amaris and Allen up baking pies in the kitchen. While the two friends worked together she led Mist out the back door. The younger cousins were playing a game of tag outside in the orchard but Michelle walked past them to the small house behind the manor proper. Shadows flitted along the stone pathway as clouds drifted lazily across the sun’s path. The solid wood door had been left ajar allowing a small breeze to carry the smell of pie into guesthouse. The world outside became muted the moment they stepped through the doors, as if a ward of silence and calm had been placed over the building. “Derrick, my love, I have brought Mist here to see you.”

The overstuffed loveseat sat in front of Derrick’s favorite painting of a lush, vibrant meadow. Despite being blind he’d asked for it, insisting he could still see it and the memories it brought. Derrick himself rested on the couch, eyes bandaged in fresh wrappings, holding a large book written in braille. Brown, curly locks framed his strong face as he set the book down, holding out a hand expectantly. “Puh-puh-puh-pleased to me-meet you Mist.”

“Hello,” Mist responded with a dip of his head, a careful reach and grasp of the offered hand. He gave it a shake, he was never all that great with handshakes, and then settled to a crouch to be on an eye-level, more or less, with Derrick.

“I’m here to see if there’s anything I can do to assist you. I’m a healer, a mage, and a trained nurse. If you don’t care for magical means, or dislike technological, it’s all right, I would only use what you are comfortable with.” he offered his explanation carefully, clearly. Some things had to be settled up front before he could get to work, after all.

Michelle moved to sit beside Derrick, who responded with the occasional stutters pepper his speech. “Muh-muh-magical essence is very common where I’m fr-fr-from. Michelle has told me about teh-teh-technology. I will let you know whe-when I’m not comfortable.”

“We’ll start with magic, then,” Mist noted with a flare of smile. Magic was frequently much quicker than technology, though he likely would at least bring back a blood sample to run through basic tests.

Taking a moment to make sure Derrick and Michelle both were comfortable, Mist lifted a hand, fingers flexing before he touched at his left eye. The runes cut there flared, shimmering a brighter blue, a few others of the visible runes brightened as well. Mist’s head tilted, golden eyes gaining in brilliance as the spells were cast.

Each spell passed over and through Derrick, picking up as much information as they could gather. They would be a warm sensation, but should anything reject the spellwork, Mist would promptly draw the energies back, and attempt to study the issue from a distance, as it were.

Derrick’s breathing slowed as he relaxed into the spell allowing it to seep into his physiology. Patches of his frontal and temporal lobes showed decreased neural activity. His brain produced a neurotransmitter not found in other humanoids, but without a comparison it was hard to tell how much he was supposed to have. It was even harder to pinpoint the source of the decay - thought an educated guess led Mist in the direction of genetics.

Mist took a long moment to assess what he had learned, sitting quietly in a state of meditation. His eyelids lowered but didn’t close, his palms pressed together as if praying. The runes on his face flickered, then returned to their steady glimmering.

After a long silence, he stood once more, casting a set of spells, each specific and direct. First was a sweep to find any residue of any sort of toxin which may have built up in the man’s brain. The next was to image Derrick’s brain entirely, the last was to image the neurotransmitters.

“I will need to study this information, and I will need to create specific spell work to go further in depth. I need to know if there is anyone who is his breed that I can compare their brain to yours, Derrick, and perhaps, know if this is something that is common to your people,” Mist finally noted to Michelle and Derrick, looking between them as he spoke, “As it is now, it will only continue to deteriorate. It seems a genetic thing, and there are treatments that I can use for that. Most are magical, some are technological.”

He gave them a somewhat grim flare of smile, then.

“But I really need to be able to study on someone of Derrick’s people before I can do anything.”

Michelle opened her mouth to answer but Derrick was quicker. “That will be di-di-difficult.” The hair hung heavy with a mixture of sadness, regret and loss. “They are gone and we c-c-cannot go back. Pe-pe-perhaps our own ch-ch-children.” He took his hand and rested it over Michelle’s.

Mist’s brows knit as he considered that.

“Your people are gone. Did this illness take them, or something else?” He didn’t point out that if his children shared the neurotransmitters, then, their fate would soon enough be his. It was far more than likely that was already a burden to the man’s mind.

“There was a war.” Michelle said simply. “We escaped, with our lives and our children. But we also left his world. We have no way of knowing how many, if any, of his people survived. And at this time there is no way for us to return.” Her fingers wrapped around her husbands. She remembered how they had debated. How he felt guilty for leaving his family and his people. And how she had begged him to find a way to her home. The sky was red with the death of thousands that day. Michelle remembered Nadella shifting in her womb as she gripped onto Allen and Malia’s hands. The memory faded as she thought of Malia.

“I don’t think this illness was a widespread disease.”

“My father died before his th-th-thirtieth birthday. And our d-d-daughter, Malia, died early too.” Derrick’s thoughts were in line with his wife’s, they both worried silently about their remaining two children.

Mist exhaled softly, thoughtful. He finally nodded.

“My condolences, I cannot imagine such devastation,” he said, quiet, “Then, if I may have samples of the hair of your children, l can study that and see if I may find answers there. If not, I will need to cast the same spells on your children as I have on Derrick.”

Michelle squeezed Derrick’s hand than stood up from her seat. “We can do that just before you return back to Rhy’din. In the meantime, why don’t we go check on those pies and get something to eat?”

((Amaris' character used with player permission. Co-written with Mist.))
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