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The Edge of Lake Raienia (open to anyone)
The pied piper had inadvertently worn out his welcome in Mehrdadstan on a day when the retched rats were particular fond of him. He couldn't possibly stay in the city with a horde of the little beasts following him. He took out his pipe and pretended to lead them away, an old standby that had served to make him small fortunes back in the day. He made quite the lump sum dragging his own rats from the city this time and traveled with them out into the desert. He drove them into the baked sands and walked until they had all succumb to the hot, waterless landscape.

He made it to the edge of the lake before succumbing himself, laying in the cool water as if to absorb it through his skin. From here, his first concern was not finding a place to stay or go. It was merely survival. To fill his belly with food and water, which it had lacked in his rambles in the desert.

It seemed to pass in the blink of an eye and yet it dragged on for centuries. The monotony had dulled the heat and shiftless winds in his memory. He had been lucky to escape the infamous sandstorms. He had been lucky to make it to water. He wasn't one to chastise himself, but this really was his fault. If he hadn't been so intent on killing the horde of rats (which proved to be far more resilient in the desert than he first thought) he might have had some thought as to his own preservation.

Sitting at the edge of the lake, pipe in hand as it burnt his chapped lips to play just now, he scolded himself properly. You're a fool Piper. An idiot. So what if you're in this strange place with no friends and no place to call home? You cannot go about taking risks that will end the legend of your pipe. And where will you go now?

Tags: pied piper, john henry

From: [info]steeldrivinman Date: 06/04/2007 13:56:26  

John Henry was in a travelling mood, and so he travelled. He still had nothing tying him down, and had found no lasting loyalties. His muscle and sweat had kept him fed and gotten him shelter when he needed it, but the small towns and questionable citizenry he had encountere lately had left him with no sense of roots or obligation, so he didn't feel bad just picking up and leaving. He was following the lake shore, working his way around to places he hadn't seen yet. Desert didn't seem his sort of place, and while he was certain it had charms of it's own, He felt no great pressure or allure to going farther inland.

He was dressed in his walking boots and sturdy comfortable trousers and loose fitting broad cloth shirt. Plain clothes of a laborer, but not his over-alls. They were more for working than travelling. The tools of his trade were with him, The giant maul strapped across his back and the large blacksmith's hammer hanging on his belt marked him as a man used to hard labor. His massively muscular form seemed to attest to that as well. A small pack held his meager belongings, and a larger one his food and water.

The nice part about travelling alone was that you could set your own pace. The other nice part was that you didn't really need a destination. John's destination was a thing, rather than a place. He was seeking an ideal of sorts, or lacking that, a job. His hope was to find the ideal sort of place and work. He was a fine smith at this point in his life, but he could do about anything he set his mind to. As he walked he hummed old tunes in that deep, rich voice of his.

There was a man at the water's edge. John didn't want to disturb him, but he thought that it was about time for him to stop and rest a spell, and he thought company might do him well, rather than just sitting alone with his thoughts. As he got closer he thought the man seemed a bit troubled, but it wasn't his place to judge.

"Hello friend, mind if I sit me a spell?" He spoke in his deep smooth voice, a smile at the ready.

He was cautious enough, but he assumed a general inherent goodness in people. It was like a gift he gave to nearly all strangers. It was theirs to lose, but everyone started out with at least a small amount of good will on credit where John Henry was concerned.
From: [info]piedandpiped Date: 06/04/2007 14:15:41  

"Certainly not. Pull up a bramble," he said cheerfully, as if he had not just been berating himself in his head. He studied the man quickly, already had a song running through his head, something like the old tune the man had been humming a moment ago. More notes of blue, a little darker, a lot harder. It was an early morning sort of song, the sun just rising before the laborers went to work in the coal mines. He took out his little note pad and jotted it down before he lost it.
From: [info]steeldrivinman Date: 06/04/2007 15:51:01  

"Right kind of you"

John walked closer and started to unburden himself of his hammers and packs. The first to come off was the big hammer. He had never had it weighed but he thought it was probably in the neighborhood of 100 pounds. It wasn't a hammer that many people could use, and almost no-one could wield it as effortlessly as he did. His Smith's hammer was next. He kept his food pack in his hands and sat down near the other man.

He tilted his head slightly at the tune. He noted the instrument that had been in the man's hand. He was a bit surprised that the man had picked up on the tune as though he was familiar with it. It certainly wasn't impossible, and the surprise was a pleasant one. John respected musicians. "You a musician?" He asked. John had a deep rich bass of a voice. He was untrained, but loved to sing as he worked and traveled. He had no skill with instruments and thought that it was best he stick with his hammer and let the musicians do their jobs.

He started to take out some bread and some cured meat from his pack. It was the sort of food that gave you a workout to chew it, but it wasn't bad tasting, and it was filling enough. He looked to the other man not sure if he would be interested in a bite as well. John had manners after all.
From: [info]piedandpiped Date: 06/04/2007 18:13:24  

"Of a sort," he replied, setting his pipe into his jacket pocket. What little supplies he had were all lost to the desert and Piper was not one to turn down a bite to eat.

He nodded cheerfully. "If you don't mind rationing with a man a bit foolish of his own rations. Of late," he added. He wasn't foolish always. It seemed only to be a current trend in this new place. He was well used to traveling and living off bits and scraps.

Something about this place had him off his game. He wasn't being his typical mindful self, rather acting quite forgetfully. It was as if the very air here enveloped him in fog, all of his mental faculties blindingly lost and fumbling around as he wandered.
From: [info]steeldrivinman Date: 06/04/2007 22:02:02  

John nodded thoughtfully as the man put his pipe away. He figured the answer was like a modest 'yes', but he didn't feel any real call to press further. "don't min'atall" he said as he broke off a piece of bread and cut a section of cured meat into smaller pieces. He offered the food to his companion.

"cheese ran out jes a bit ago, sorry about that. I figure to restock when I get to some civilization, but I can live off the land and lake for a bit til then when this run out."

It was the most he had spoken in a long while. Solitary journeying was a quiet endeavor, save for his singing, and after a while on his own he didn't even realize when he was doing that. He looked out at the water. It was lovely. He could handle water just fine, but it wasn't really his element. He took a deep breath and sighed to relax.
From: [info]piedandpiped Date: 06/05/2007 16:17:33  

"It's perfect," the Piper said. Glad for the food and the company. "I'll repay you in kind for breakfast. I'm certain I can catch a fish or two," he smirked, his secret mischief smile riding high on his face. "The view here is great," he added conversationally. "Not that I'm one for water, but it's nice."
From: [info]steeldrivinman Date: 06/05/2007 22:46:48  

John nodded again. That sounded just fine to him. Fish for breakfast sounded as good as anything, and better than hard bread and cured meat. "I was jes thinkin the same. I'm more of rock and dirt sorta soul, but this is right purty." He thought for a moment trying to hold up his part of the conversation while eating his rations.

"So wheres about you headin? M'self I'm goin... east I guess, hopin to eventually run into some place sociable, maybe find a bit a work." His voice was deep, and his pacing was anything but hurried.
From: [info]piedandpiped Date: 06/06/2007 23:08:00  

"I don't travel in any set direction. Where my feet and the wind take me really," Piper replied. "I'm Piper, by the by," he added with a big smile. "I've been traveling a lot. Depends on what kind of work you want really. I imagine they mine iron up at Camlann. Mehrdadstan would probably be building projects. Estervale's just plain old weird." He laughed a little. "And the Sleeping Woods isn't really a place for laboring men. That's the faeries' domain."
From: [info]steeldrivinman Date: 06/06/2007 23:20:23  

"Thas a nice way of livin if you can do it. I'm sorta doin it now I guess, though I'm sorta jes travelin that way." He said pointing down the coast in a roughly easterly direction. "I'm John Henry, an it's my pleasure meetin you mr. Piper. I hope to find place as a smith if I can, or jes work with one some place. I mean, I got nothin tyin me down no place now." He nodded again. He had no great plans beyond finding a place to work and maybe fit in. If there was some greater purpose than doing honest work, he wasn't seeking it out.
From: [info]piedandpiped Date: 06/06/2007 23:53:34  

Piper nodded. "I'm having trouble finding my own brand of work here," he said. "Though it's not as if I've been looking very hard."
From: [info]steeldrivinman Date: 06/07/2007 00:00:19  

"Well... There's somethin to be said for givin yourself some time off. " He considered the man's words, and what he had said earlier on. "So what sort of musician are you then?" He figured a decent musician could get work nearly anywhere.
From: [info]piedandpiped Date: 06/07/2007 21:43:51  

"Mostly pipes," he replied. "I'm living up to my name." He smiled comfortably. "I like to play whatever really. I've been known to strum the strings from time to time, but I've favoring my harmonica these days."
From: [info]steeldrivinman Date: 06/08/2007 13:28:59  

John liked the harmonica. He thought it was soulful and evocative. It could sound like a train, it could sound like sorrow and joy. So Piper was a nickname, or someone had been forward thinking when he was named. John didn't have a whole lot more to say. He continued to eat slowly and casually. "I'd like to here you play sometime."
From: [info]piedandpiped Date: 06/08/2007 18:30:19  

"I could play now if you like?" Piper offered. "I don't have all of my instruments with me. Some of them have found new homes. I have my trumpet. My pipe. The harmonica, of course. And a peculiar little set of tubes I picked up in Mehrdadstan.
Anything you like."
From: [info]steeldrivinman Date: 06/08/2007 19:00:37  

"That'd be right nice, thanks. I think anything you wanna play would suit me about now. "

John settled back on on his elbows and looked out over the water. He sighed. Life was good. He had a journey ahead, he had met a new person, and now there would be music.

He considered the journey as he understood it. There were parts of it he wasn't looking forward to. He wondered how long it would take him to reach some place with a population big enough for him to find work.
From: [info]piedandpiped Date: 06/10/2007 23:12:48  

"I'd like to try out my new pipes," he said considering. "I don't know how good they'll sound; I haven't figured them out yet." He pulled the out of his small pack and tuned them rather quickly. He was being a touch modest about how good they'd sound, but he hadn't played much more than a few notes on them. They had a different sound than most other instruments he had ever played. He likes the tonality of them and played a formless tune, notes that occurred to him, shifting from one to the next with lilting phrase.
From: [info]steeldrivinman Date: 06/11/2007 20:18:08  

John watched as the man tuned, and then began to play. It was quite nice, and relaxing. It wasn't something he recognized, but it had a nice sound, and a sort of calming effect. He turned again to look out on the water, and as the music played he reflected upon his journey up to that point.
From: [info]piedandpiped Date: 06/13/2007 14:33:20  

In a way, Piper was doing the same kind of reflecting with his music. Thinking over his acquaintances and his seeming inability to make a solid friend in this place. Maybe John can change that for me, he thought as a string of hopeful notes came out of his pipe.
From: [info]steeldrivinman Date: 06/16/2007 23:04:44  

He smiled and closed his eyes. The song had the ability to set the mood and tone. John liked the modest piper. He thought he was talented, and he tended to like anyone that seemed friendly, and seemed to be a decent person. He wondered if the man would join him on his journey, or if he would mind some company toward whatever his destination might be. He could handle the solitary journey just fine, but it wasn't his preference.
From: [info]piedandpiped Date: 06/17/2007 14:38:31  

Piper slowed his song to a halt and put his pipe away to enjoy a little quiet with his new companion. He didn't know what questions to ask, if any were even appropriate.
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