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Old 11-23-2010
roguethree roguethree is offline
Legendary Hero
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Illinois
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"Do you have friends, Shepard?"

The two men stood at the meager camp at the Crossroads, their gazes trained to the southwest as the night quietly wore on. A gentle breeze rustled the tall grasses, and distantly, the farmer's wheat field swayed and bent with the subtle gusts. Selune shown full and brilliant, casting her somber light over the humble farmstead and glinting off the black and gold, ornamental mail of the paladin and the well-used red and silver plate of the Legionnaire.

"Hm?

"Friends, Shepard."

The Legionnaire stayed silent a moment, his chin lifting as his brow flattened, and he took a long draw from his cigarette. His lips smacked just audibly as he retracted the burning weed, and he inhaled shallowly afterward, his throat catching as he retained the caustic vapor.

"Yeah," he exhaled, the smoke spilling forth from his lungs and through his mouth, quickly dissipating into the calm breeze. He held the cigarette down at his side, a thin wisp of smoke snaking a narrow line into the air between them before being caught by the winds. "A few."

"I'd wondered. You spend a lot of nights in my company at this spot. I thought you'd take your leave with them."

Shepard shrugged impassively, again bringing the cigarette to his lips...or he would have, but he noted with small annoyance that it had burned beyond use. He pitched the nub into the nearby campfire and deftly undid the clasp of a pouch at his side. From within it, he produced a small package stuffed with the things. He slid one from the others and fitted it between his lips, then extended the bundle toward the paladin, one eyebrow raised in skeptical appraisal.

The paladin pressed his lips into a thin line, glancing aside at the Legionnaire. "Seriously?"

The Legionnaire shrugged again, as was his way, and slid the package back into the pouch, sealing it as deftly as he'd first opened it. He found a tinder twig tucked behind his ear and struck it off a line of flint cleverly worked into his sword belt, and he brought the burning wood to the cigarette that suspended from his mouth, shielding the flame from the wind with a cupped hand. He puffed at the burning tobacco a few times, then extinguished the twig with a careless shake before casting it into the fire.

"You just..."

The Legionnaire waved off the paladin's logic and pulled the cigarette from its perch, then inhaling deeply of the crisp, Sundarian evening. "You do this every night, Sir Tornbrook?"

An amused half-smile crept into the paladin's features, and he turned his gaze back to the southwest. "Not every. Enough to make sure that they know I know. What's your excuse? Aren't you stationed at Schild?"

"No. No deployment right now, held off for something of a promotion, maybe."

"Something of a promotion."

"Yeah."

The paladin's hand fell to the sword resting at his left hip, his thumb capping where the sword's pommel ought to have been, but wasn't. "That sounds secretive."

"Yeah."

"Fair enough." The paladin again glanced aside at the Legionnaire, his own azure gaze well shadowed deeply within the folds of his hood. He noted the talley marks crudely scrawled into the man's pauldrons, and he stayed silent a few moments longer, considering them. He turned back to his vigil, and then the east, where the sun was just beginning to spill over the horizon. "Dawn's soon."

"Yeah." The Legionnaire sucked at the tobacco again, blowing out a thin stream of smoke that disappeared several inches from his mouth.

"Some of the Ilmatari have mentioned that they think those things are harmful. Truth to that?"

"Probably. Want one?"

"Not at all."

"Didn't think so."

The sun climbed a bit higher, casting long shadows that stretched and threatened to consume the land, shadows that eventually gave way to light and luminance. The paladin's eyes didn't mind the intrusion, his eyes set within the darkened confines of his cowl. The Legionnaire chanced one glance to the east, to the sun, and one more to the southwest. He flicked his cigarette into the dying embers with a careless ease and turned from the camp.

"Good morning, Sir Tornbrook."

"Good morning, Shepard."
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