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Character Hike:

Here, it is a character development/shared story thread where you may bring your own characters to interact with other characters in a mundane setting along in a Story Arc. Originally an NaNoWriMo exercise, I've had plenty of fun with this with one of my own characters as it helped flesh out her traits and feelings, even surprising me on the hidden depths that lurk behind the surface.

In spite of the possibly harrowing length, fear not Continuity Lock-Out / Archive Panic; one of us would be glad to fill you in with a brief recap of what is going on if asked. Or rather yet, have a glance at the last two pages.


Raki's bum aches all over with the long-sitting numbness. He can scratch it, but that would entail taking his hands off the steering wheel while his red Nissan speeds the Kananaskis highway. So he shifts himself a little bit — the seatbelt seems to grate along his shoulders. The long and winding road seems to go on forever.

But, ahh, the mountainous hills with their coat of blooming trees more than make up for the wait with their sight, reaching up to the heavens. The blossoming trees border the road and pass by in monotony. Sometimes there's a patch of treeless space and you can catch a glimpse of the river beside, flowing ever eastwards.

Raki feels the brisk air lapping his face from the open windows, tuffing his hair around. It's all appetizer. A two-hour long appetizer on the verge of overstaying its welcome. But don't worry, the main course is coming up sooner than you think. If only the guy ahead of him isn't a turtle.

He arrives at last, where he navigates his car to the nearest free spot at the parking lot, careful not to bump into passersby. With all that done and done, Raki gives his car a well-deserved rest. He makes a good yawning ("Huggguhhhhhh"), before stretching his legs after that ordeal and begin embarking on his trip. Better not forget the knapsack.

Following the other families down the trail, he sees at last the pristine lake ahead, reflecting the evening sky above. Set against the stark backdrop of glacier mountains, people say it's probably the most beloved and most photographed scene in the Rockies. And rightfully so.

Some of the tourists would stand by around, taking pictures of the scenery, alone or as a family portrait. Some canoe down the lake, following the waters between mountains. Raki could only gape and awe at the breathtaking view. He would follow the yellow paved road around the lake, curving beside the majestic Chateau Hotel, and finally disappearing into the shades of alpine trees where it becomes the dirt trail that he would hike up. That is his main course, his raison d'etre here — to savvy from the top the birds-eye view. A memory to cherish for a long time. If he doesn't get too tired beforehand.

In his absent-mindedness, he gets bumped out the way by some impatient pudgy fellow whose overflowing camping pack looks like leaning tower of Pisa. "Watch where yer standing, ya lil' dweeb!"

Raki casts an icy glance at the guy's back, hoping for a second that the pack will fall (per lucky accident, of course), before wishfully admiring the lake once more.

"Sigh.." He looks like someone who got hit by the love thunderbolt.

edited 5th Oct '10 9:46:47 PM by QQQQQ

 2 Leradny, Sat, 2nd Oct '10 6:25:48 PM from Alameda, CA
Not too far away from him was a quite tall woman with light brown hair and pale skin, dressed practically in cargo pants and ankle-length boots with a long-sleeved hoodie unzipped to reveal her green camisole.

Stupid kelpie, Eos thought, giving the lake a much affectionate glare through her binoculars. She would rather have dismissed it as a false alarm or a fanatic calling, but with so many people regularly hiking past, the possibility of a water-horse attempting to lure in prey was too great to dismiss. So here she was—watching, waiting, and pretending to have fun while completely unable to.

Satisfied with just standing there, Raki goes to make a walking up the trail. But first, good music to accompany him along.

He settles himself down where he's less likely to meet another impatient wanker. Here we go, by this lovely, tall woman standing.

Then he rummages through his pack, for his jeejah and headphones. It's a tad messy inside, he shuffles through his snack of a sandwich.. and his water bottle.. there they are.

As he zips up his pack, by pure accident, Raki nudges the woman's leg. Whoopsies. "Err, sorry miss. Hehe." He scratches his back, nervous to offend someone he'd never met before.

An accurate depiction
On a slight rock face above them sat a middle-aged man, with features just a bit too sharp to seem natural. His mouth was turned naturally downward; a lip curled down in distaste and exposed a few teeth that gleamed in the sunlight. His flesh was deeply tanned, cut by wrinkles around his cheekbones and eyes, highlighted by black hair that was just beginning to gray. Thee eyes are slate-colored, observing without judging. Nothing was significant anymore, not to him.

As he waited, in a cross-legged position, his hands were folded over his knees, fingers just brushing the earth beneath him. His breath was coiling in thin streams down the air before him, and he straightened his back, looking out at the sun. His pupils did not contract. There was time to watch what the swirling clouds and the fog further up, as the pines filled the air with a fresh scent. He ignored it, pumping of air through his lungs in an automatic process.

A thin olive coat hung loose on him, as did a pair of cargo pants that were fastened by a cheap belt. Nothing important or capable of distinguishing him from anyone else.

He was idly considering throwing himself off the steeper face.

But for a moment, he watched the awkward young man below, distracted from his goal. There was a comedy, an operetta, if one will. Moren Gant's mouth inverted, changing into a light smile. The soaring flight and the moment of freedom would wait.

edited 2nd Oct '10 6:54:19 PM by Morgulion

This is this.
 5 Leradny, Sat, 2nd Oct '10 6:51:23 PM from Alameda, CA
With her level of concentration on watching the lake, Eos hadn't even noticed the man bumping into her until she heard a voice apologizing. She put the binoculars down, turning her head slightly so she can still use her peripheral vision to keep an eye on the lake.

"That's fine, I was too busy watching for the..." Not kelpie. That would lead to more questions and possibly a panic. "Ducks."

Though there hadn't been any ducks within ten or fifteen feet of where she had been pointing the binoculars, she said it very firmly and hoped that would be enough.

edited 2nd Oct '10 6:52:20 PM by Leradny

Raki stands up, hoisting the knapsack on his back. Then, as if to find some answer to her question, he looks at the lake once more.

Ducks.. well there's people doing canoeing. But there's no ducks, as much as he could see. She has the binoculars.. maybe she means those specks in the distance?

"Ducks, " Raki says. "Aren't they lovely?" It's a silly thing to talk about, but oh whatever, as long as he doesn't make a fool of himself. He makes a short glance at her — she's dressed quite warmly for the occasion. "Perchance, is it gonna get colder later?"

He's dressed up in a light navy sweater, his khaki pants ankling over his hiking boots. It's comfortable enough for the summer, but given all this being the mountains, it might be a lot chillier than he expects. And if it is.. ooh boy.

 7 Leradny, Sat, 2nd Oct '10 7:20:14 PM from Alameda, CA
Whew.

"I don't know if it's going to be cold later, " Eos replies, grateful for the change of subject. She was actually wearing the jacket because if it wasn't cold now, it would certainly be chilly if the possible kelpie dragged her into the water while she was putting on the bridle coiled neatly into her backpack. "I come from a rainy place, anyway, I'm used to bundling up even during sunny weather just in case."

 8 Eldritch Blue Rose, Sat, 2nd Oct '10 7:57:48 PM from A Really Red Room
The Puzzler
When Theris woke up it was evening. His thirty minute nap had turned into three hours of dream filled sleep. Something about a hotel, an ice cave, explosions, and a red haired dwarf with a sword. It was too unusual for Theris to think up, so he felt it was best to blame it on the mushrooms. Then something more strange happened.

All sorts of people were climbing up the trail to stand on top of a cliff overlooking the lake. Flashes of light came from a few, while some shouted the word "cheese". It did not make any sense to Theris because the only cheese he knew how to make was goat cheese. None of them looked like they were making cheese, and all of the racket they made kept the goats far away. I hope these people go away soon. I can't stand the squabble of these crows. thought Theris as he looked around.

Not ten feet away from him was a young man and a tall woman looking out at the lake. They must have not seen Theris because his longcoat made him blend into the foliage. Just thinking about it made Theris mischievous.

After picking up his backpack and bow, Theris snuck up behind the two. Brushing his fingertips along their necks he said, "Good evening lovebirds! What are you searching for, a place with two ducks? I'm sorry but you are fresh out of luck."
So now I know that my lack of success in college is due to ADD — or sleep apnea. I need to do a sleep study some time.
 9 Eldritch Blue Rose, Sat, 2nd Oct '10 8:04:31 PM from A Really Red Room
The Puzzler
Double Post.

edited 2nd Oct '10 8:05:12 PM by EldritchBlueRose

So now I know that my lack of success in college is due to ADD — or sleep apnea. I need to do a sleep study some time.
 10 Leradny, Sat, 2nd Oct '10 8:09:39 PM from Alameda, CA
Upon feeling something brush against her neck Eos grabbed the offending limb on instinct. "KELPIE!"

When she turned around about to do more to the suspiciously human-feeling wrist (not that it mattered much), she realized that it had come from the opposite direction of the lake. She would have seen something come out from under the surface. A glance at the man behind them revealed nothing out of the ordinary, and he was even dry.

"Uh." She coughed, thinking fast. "I'm sorry. My friend used to do that and... I thought you were her. It got annoying after a bit."

An accurate depiction
Gant was watching the congregation grow by the second, having utterly forgotten about his meditation. He was not a believer in fate, but this was an odd thing indeed, to have such a gathering. Almost an omen born of luck, and it was high time for the luck to come to him instead of the inverse.

If any of the three would turn around at the moment, they would see a man saunter with casual ease down the steep rock, standing at right angles to gravitational pull. As it were, a child saw Gant stroll in direct opposition to logic. The man smiled in apology, shrugging as he sauntered the fence near the three, seeming to look out into the scenes below.

"Good day, fellow travelers, " he said with a nod.

edited 2nd Oct '10 8:18:10 PM by Morgulion

This is this.
 12 Eldritch Blue Rose, Sat, 2nd Oct '10 8:58:15 PM from A Really Red Room
The Puzzler
"Oh I try to be salty, but kelpie? I'm not a slimy and cold man." said Theris.

The woman looked startled as if she said something she shouldn't have. However Theris did not care because seeing her reaction was enough to make him smile. He had always enjoyed smiling, especially when he could get others to feel unnerved by his presence alone.

After staring into her eyes for over a minute Theris placed a hand over his heart, "My name is Theris, and sometimes I am here and yet not quite there. It has been a great day today. Feeling the cool breeze in the air makes one feel like they are on top of the world!"

Out of the corner of his eye he noticed a newcomer entering the group. Motioning to the other three Theris asked, "Who are you?"

edited 2nd Oct '10 8:59:10 PM by EldritchBlueRose

So now I know that my lack of success in college is due to ADD — or sleep apnea. I need to do a sleep study some time.
 13 Leradny, Sat, 2nd Oct '10 9:05:41 PM from Alameda, CA
Eos raised an eyebrow upon being stared at for at least a minute, then frowned at the flowery language.

"My name is Eos, and I said Kelly, " she insisted, before looking in the direction Theris was. The sight of another person made her sigh in reluctance. "Hello."

An accurate depiction
"Good day. My name is Gant, " Gant replies, not moving to face the three. "I've been visiting this mountain every day, and never has the view been this good."

He swivels an eye to watch the other three. "A pleasure to meet you. Few people worth talking to grace the mountain anymore, and few ever did. The majority cannot see anything; they just snap photographs of themselves." It is rather saddening.

He turns more of his head now, a methodical movement that leaves one eye to trail over the forest below. "But you three seem to be more interesting than the usual rabble. For one, you watch the things around you."

The woman is nervous about something. She jumps easily, carries binoculars. It would be amusing to see what would occur. He could not judge what the young man was yet, save one who seemed normal. It would open up. Mountains were good places for introspection.

edited 2nd Oct '10 9:18:35 PM by Morgulion

This is this.
 15 Leradny, Sat, 2nd Oct '10 9:32:34 PM from Alameda, CA
Eos refrained from saying that she was so watchful because there was the possibility of a people-eating monster around, and that she didn't have a camera because they didn't work well after getting wet, which was very likely to occur if said people-eating monster existed.

She also refrained from commenting on the oddity of visiting a mountain every day for however long Gant had been doing it, and tucked her binoculars into her belt to say instead, "Thank you, I guess. As far as mountains go, this isn't bad."

edited 2nd Oct '10 9:33:13 PM by Leradny

"Really?" Raki takes a glance over at Gant, and Theris. They seem really friendly. Quite more than that — is that the 'Tourists Jolliness' that he's heard about? If so, then Raki too is compelled to introduce himself. "My name's Raki. I'm here for the sightseeing, and to enjoy myself. And yes, I do have agree with you there Gant. It's better to see things with your own eyes. That's what nature's for."

He lets out another yawn as he faces the lake sparkling the glittering colours of the sun. Then on a whim he breaks into a jog in place, and imitates Rocky doing his training runs. "I'm da boss, I'm da boss, I'm da boss, I'm da boss, I'm da boss..!"

An accurate depiction
"Yes, " he says. "That was a compliment. But this mountain is not just above average. It is practically divine."

He spreads his arms, as though to embrace the whole world. "I have seen most of the world Nearly all of it, in fact. And nowhere else is there such a fine conjunction of forest and stone and everything else that purifies people. It is better near the summit, though. From here, you can see more- that is not always good. And of course, the fog is a beautiful aid to meditation. If you have time, I would certainly suggest taking five minutes at that spot to sit down and watch what happens."

His philosophical facade breaks just as quickly as the man begins running. Heh. What an odd one, almost resembling someone he knew once. Gant grinned, his eyes crinkling in a well-faked avuncular guise. "But I am sorry, I tend to ramble on about philosophy. If I bore you, feel free to interrupt."

edited 2nd Oct '10 9:48:11 PM by Morgulion

This is this.
 18 Leradny, Sat, 2nd Oct '10 9:52:14 PM from Alameda, CA
"I am very interested in philosophy, " Eos says, edging slowly away from Raki and his peculiarity. "Please do keep going."

And in ten minutes she has told the biggest and least convincing lie of the conversation, at least on her end. Hopefully Gant will play along.

PI
As the people had gathered on the trail, a small shape had been moving through the sky. A round, copper-y-colored shape. It glinted in the sun, sputtered black smoke, and seemed to grow in size as it neared the ground. For a moment it hung over the crystaline lake, and for a moment a pale, nearly-human hand could be seen trying desperately to escape from the earthbound spacecraft, before the lake swallowed the craft with an understated splash. The same hand broke the lake's surface a few seconds later, but was pulled back down under the circle of bubbles and froth.

 20 KSPAM, Sat, 2nd Oct '10 10:03:41 PM from The Slaine Pain Train Relationship Status: Sinking with my ship
ALL ABOARD!
Mountains. Home. Hills. Flesh. All held true before it. The mountains covered it like stretched skin, the trees like hair. The mountains were its and of it. For now.

But it could not hold its grip for much longer. It had stretched itself too thin, so far that it could barely feel the beating pulse of yggdrasil. Without its lifdagar, its life, it may sustain itself for nary two days, perhaps three if it was lucky. It would need to find more.

It needed a vessel. It sought the footsteps of a lone one. It felt his boots sink into its hill-flesh, strong and powerful, but precise. It could smell him through the holes in the earth. Gaining in years but well built. It would do.

It called him in guttural tones, choking on what may have been words in another place and time. As much as he could feel the vileness of it, the overwhelming stench of likami, it drew him. It smothered him, suffocating his munr with its own. The man fell beyond the muor and the empty meat-bag slumped.

It worked and squirmed, forcing itself through the meat-bag's splitting seams. Curled up inside, it sat the meat bag up, rolling around its sight-balls. It moved the arms and the legs. This vessel's lifdagar would provide an additional four days. Plenty of time.

It sunk its new meat-body into the ground, feeling for tension in the flesh. More would come. It was sure.

edited 2nd Oct '10 10:09:56 PM by KSPAM

Team? You mean cannon fodder? — neobowman

Goodfae: a mafia web serial
Raki stops his shadow-boxing, his cheeks filled with a glee of amusement that fades when he notices they don't seem to be amused by his joke. Ehh. "Sorry." He blushes. "Gotta prepare myself for the climb, after driving all the way here. It's a long way up.. and I plan on getting all the way by the time its dinner. I wonder, are you guys here also for the hiking?"

edited 2nd Oct '10 10:10:32 PM by QQQQQ

An accurate depiction
"Sadly, " he says, "there is only so much I can say that can be helpful. It is, after all, an intensely personal experience. And, of course, describing what I have seen would be entirely useless. I am unskilled at speaking about such things."

One would think that after seeing entire fields full of burning napalm and screaming soldiers whom he had personally crucified, talking about a mountain would be easy. But old warrior creeds that Gant had spoken before battle equated the self to a mountain. That caused him to hesitate and break off,

He shifts focus to the young man instead. "It is secondary, " Gant says. "I am here to meditate at the summit. Which involves hiking. So, in terms of a byproduct, yes." He turns to the rest of the group. "Care to join me on a short trek up?" he says with a smile.

edited 2nd Oct '10 10:13:33 PM by Morgulion

This is this.
Raki nods. "Ja! Sure. What is it here that you meditate for? Is it that spiritual connecting with the surroundings? It's.."

He breathes in the air, more for show than anything.

"It's like you can feel truly at peace here. Tranquil.. and cleansing. Maybe if you want.. you can find spiritual rebirth even, given the right state of mind."

edited 2nd Oct '10 10:26:10 PM by QQQQQ

PI
The spacecraft pilot clamped a hand over his nose and tried to keep his breathing steady. His helmet was supplying him with most of the gasses he needed to breath, but it wasn't designed for this kind of descrepency and he was breathing in a lot of water. He was trapped at the bottom of the lake—sunk like a stone, clinging to the escape hatch of his half-burried ship, his powerful leg muscles convulsing instinctively but useless underwater. A stream of bubbles boiled to the surface, escaping from his mouth and nose and spaceship, mocking him with their boyancy and marking what would soon be his watery grave.

An accurate depiction
Gant shrugs. "Convenience. Quiet, that is the main draw to the summit. You may laugh, but I like the fog. It is very symbolic. Besides, it reminds me of someone."

Yes, it is a painful place, which is why he visits it. Pain is a reminder to stay clear and sharp. And then the kid mentions rebirth. If only he knew what an expert Gant was at that.

"Spiritual rebirth is overrated, my friend, " Gant says, this time without the hint of a smile. "I meditate here to remember the past. And to pay some respects. "

edited 2nd Oct '10 10:29:34 PM by Morgulion

This is this.
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