Logs:The Woods Have Eyes
|The Woods Have Eyes|
|Dramatis Personae|| |
13 February, 2018
Bonnie goes to investigate an odd figure she's noticed in the woods.
Dense Forest, Northern Woods, Hanging Hills
The dense birch trees here are nigh impossible to navigate at speed, and the closeness of the grove can quickly have one turned around. A small tributary in a nearby clearing can be traced back downstream to a larger, more turbulent watercourse. A growing rush of background noise and softening earth heralds the presence of the river even before it is unobscured by trees. The water is frigid and fast moving, and in many places, deep and treacherous. The far bank is no more than seventy meters away, and where there are not rapids breaking around rocks, the clear water appears to flow lazily. This is a deception. The river is capable of pulling even the of strongest swimmers down into its icy depths should they choose their path poorly.
It's just after sunset, the overcast sky still holding a hue of orange and indigo. Kharn is in the form he feels the most comfortable, taller by a head than a tall man and over a hundred pounds heavier. He wears a pair of firehose pants and boots, but is currently without a shirt. He has countless scars of varying severity weave a story of war across his body. Tonight, however, he has drawn a series of runes on his body in boar blood, the carcass of which is lying next to him. He has a bottle of home-brewed beer, a plain steel stein, and a bowl set near him. He stands in a clearing, the darkening night sky clearly able to be seen. Currently he is speaking in his native Icelandic, not quietly as he doesn't expect anyone to come across him.
It's rather off-the-beaten track up here. Actually, it's a damn long way from the nearest beaten track and that is, presumably, the point. The saying goes, 'fields have eyes, and woods have ears'. More accurately, both have both, at least 'round Hanging Hills. The presence of the fire-bearded giant in the woods hadn't gone unnoticed - maybe the Warden means only to satisfy her curiosity on an otherwise quiet day. Regardless, the soft, subtle rustle of twig and leaf underfoot likely heralds her approach to keen senses, and she makes no attempt to disguise it.
With both hands stuffed in the pockets of a warm grey coat and a toasty, knitted bobble-hat (the pom-pom is only faux fur, it best be noted), the diminuitive blonde is suitably warded against the wintery chill as she picks her way merrily enough through the dense forest. Her sedate pace, given the ease of it, might be best described as 'strolling'. Nothing threatens to bar her way, or even trip her, despite the lack of attention those oceanic eyes appear to be paying to the route. They're cast skyward, more often than not. Or to the trees. Or, oh, look at that interesting fern over there. Time is taken to admire every facet, and yet she doesn't linger over any in particular. The manner is oddly akin to one crossing through a familiar room in their family home; there's confidence and warmth, without the necessity for the interest a polite visitor might take in the old photos set on the mantle. Suffice to say: she belongs.
As the sun heads for the horizon, you'd think a studenty-type youngun would be turning and heading for home at a brisk pace. Bonnie, though, has a destination in mind. And there it is, up ahead. The sound of the unfamiliar language, when it reaches her, prompts the blonde to slow, but not halt her pace - it's only polite to make someone aware that they're not alone, after all. Quite deliberately, seeing as her natural stride is suprisingly quiet, she places a booted foot down on a twig with an audible Snap. Ding-dong, Avon calling!
The giant viking finishes the conversation with no one and turns to look toward where the sound of the twig snapping had come from. The girl's eyes are not those of a terrified mortal. The lizard-brain flight instinct is not apparent in her face nor her body language, and normal people don't come out this far into the woods. When he looks at you, you can see that his eyes glow as if lit from within. The light is silvery green, equal parts moonlight and his own viridescent eyes.
When he speaks, it's more guttural than normal human speech, and marred slightly by the fangs. "Well, I didn't expect anyone to come wandering up during my Blot, but I can't say it's unwelcome." He sets down the gnarled branch he had been holding, smooth and worn from years of use and carved intricately. When he turns to face you, you can clearly see his glowing eyes narrow to a slit of light. "I haven't wandered somewhere I shouldn't have, have I? You aren't looking at me as if I were a monster..."
So. The giant does exist, and it wasn't just some blip in her meditations. That's interesting. But no, Bonnie isn't afraid, for reasons even she can't quite fathom. Most people certainly would be, right? "I didn't mean to interrupt." she replies, venturing another step forward out of the shadow of the tree by which she'd been momentarily standing. The eyes don't seem to perturb her overmuch, either - she meets your gaze with an air of contemplation, face tilted slightly upward given the staggering height difference. "..and I don't look at anyone as a monster, really, unless they're proven to be one. You're doing no harm." The wild boar might argue that one.
With a swift down-up flick of her blue-green eyes, she takes in your scarred and blood-painted form, the gnarled branch, the cogs visibly turning in her mind.
The giant grins, fangs clearly visible, "I'm most certainly a Monster, stelpa. But one of the good ones." He doesn't appear cold, despite the cold wind that lazily blows through the clearing. "You're not interrupting, this is usually a social affair but no one I know practice my faith, so I pray alone to my Gods." He steps back to where he had been when she had approached, "When it is done, I have some mulled wine on the stove and some leftover game hens from last night, if you'd like to eat. Company is always nice."
With a friendly smile, he takes up the gnarled branch again and stands with his arms outstretched toward the sky. In a coversational tone, he speaks in Icelandic once again.
There's an answering curve across the young woman's lips, her expression somewhere between mild amusement and open curiosity. Well, this isn't a sight one comes across every day, now is it? This is no ritual she's ever seen or heard of, certainly.. but she understands the expected decorum and remains politely quiet in order for you to proceed. Another few steps are ventured into the clearing, her blue-green eyes wandering from you to take in the surroundings with idle interest. She's seen them before, but not in person. It'd be a hard task indeed to walk every square foot of these forests, at least without rhyme or reason. She chose the most direct path here.
The foreign, one-sided conversation inevitably draws her attention back to you again, in due course. Hands still in her pockets, Bonnie takes a pew on a log a short distance away, content for the time being simply to observe. Plus, there's always the incentive of food and wine. She ought to have thought of packing a picnic. The clarity that comes with hindsight, eh?
Kharn speaks freely now, as he completes his ritual of pouring what's left into the bowl and pouring it out near a circle that was dug ito the ground, "A Norse god, yes. One of the more well known ones at that." With the ritual completed, he picks up his things. "Khar Halldis, and not at all. It's meant to be a social affair." The things are stuffed into a bag and tossed over his shoulder, dried blood flaking as the strap rubs against his skin. He motions with his head for her to follow and begins to walk into the quickly darkening woods. He seems to have no trouble avoiding obstacles as they walk, despite the failing light.
"So out for a leisurely stroll through the woods?" He has no idea if she can see him, but you can hear the grin in his words. Ahead, through the trees, light can be seen pouring into the darkness from a large building in another clearing.
"Something like that." The answer is lacking in any real guile, just a cheerful agreement as Bonnie rises from her seat and falls in step with you, a few paces behind and having to work a little harder to keep up with your far longer strides. "..you've been here a while." Now, that could be taken either as question or statement. Is she speculating on the well-hidden building, out here in the wilderness? Enquiring as a precursor to asking 'why'? Or just pointing it out, perhaps even as reason for the direction of her strolling.. who can say. "Not a fan of the city, I take it. Not everyone is accepting of rituals that don't involve going to Church on a Sunday, huh." There's a definite note of empathy hidden within those words. Not that people are as unkind or scornful about a University age Neo-pagan as they would be about a bloodied half-naked half-man in discussion with the sky. But potayto potatoh.
"Slaughtering an animal and painting yourself with it's blood is generally frowned upon, yes." Kharn's response is deadpan, and followed by a chuckle. "One moment." There's a squat little building on the edge of the clearing where he tosses the bag of ritual equipment. He answers the statement with, "I've been here a while, yes. My dad bought the land and then gave it to me when he moved back home. And no, I'm not a very big fan of the city. The character of a little rural town is much more appealing to me. Also the eyes tend to attract stares. No free lunches, after all." The last part is probably confusing, but he doesn't add anything for clarification.
At the top of the steps leading up to the Hall lays a dog the size of a miniature horse. He's black, floofy, and quite excited to see Kharn return. Or he could be equally excited at a visitor. He wiggles with excitement without leaving the stairs. "Hopefully he didn't raid the pantry, otherwise it might be mac and cheese instead of leftover game hen."
Kharn tries to intercept the dog on his way to cuddlesaulting the girl. Ghaz-Ur fails at doing so.
The bobble-hatted blonde grins to herself, out of sight, as you deadpan right back, drawing obligingly to a halt while your equipment is discarded and regarding the Hall with obvious interest. "The eyes draw the stares..?" Bonnie remarks, with an arch of one tawny brow. Yes, given his current appearance, that would likely be the least concern of Joe Average on the street. Fair point. But she doesn't query unkindly, and she seems to be relaxing still further in your company. Privately noting the turn of phrase thereafter, she doesn't press the matter for now. All in good time.
Oh. My. The sight of the enormous dog has her own dark-lashed eyes widening. With fear? Um, decidedly not. "Hello-ooooo..." she greets the animal, in that invitingly warm way women usually reserve for coo-ing over infants. Not Shetland-sized hounds that can barely contain themselves. As he launches at her in greeting, the comparatively tiny young woman holds her ground, unreservedly offering a palm to be sniffed at, while the other hand ruffles at the animal's thick coat. "Look at you, handsome! Have you been left all alone..?" And so the small-talk shall likely continue, until he's called off or loses interest. This is apparently someone perfectly used to animals, and as unafraid of him as she is of you.
Kharn climbs the stairs toward the pleasant warmth inside as the dog enjoys the attention of a new person. "Bjorn, komdu inn." Kharn says conversationally. Still wiggling from shoulder to long, bushy tail, the dog attempts to do as he's bid and go inside while still getting attention. He does neither of these things well, but makes his way slowly up the stairs. Inside, there's a fire in the hearth, though it's burned the logs down to hot embers. The sweet smell of cinnamon mulled wine and wood burning in the fireplace is a very rustic mix and the general feel of the Hall is something one might see in a history book. Kharn opens what looks like a sideways barrel behind the wooden bar and the smell of hens seasoned with molasses and thyme is added to the room. A couple birds are tossed onto a large plate and brought to a table. One is tossed to the floor and causes the dog to finally leave your side. He plops down beside the hen and begins to eat.
Kharn clearly doesn't mind sharing, he's beyond the cryptic comments often given by his kind, "I can look like them, when I choose. But I am more comfortable like this, it feels the most natural. But my eyes still unsettle most. If I wear sunglasses, no one notices. For obvious reasons, I avoid the city at night." He motions toward the table for you to sit. Still standing, he says, "What would you like to drink? I have juice, milk, water, or soda."
Honestly, Bonnie hadn't thought she was all that hungry. Do her kind get hungry? But the mouthwatering aroma is a temptation all it's own as she follows you inside, one hand comfortably still ruffling at Bjorn's thick coat. This attention continues, though diminishes perhaps a fraction as the interior of the dwelling elicits a vaguely awestruck expression across the youngster's features. Well, what did she expect a Viking to live in, a pop-up tent? "This place is awesome." The utterance is out before she can help it, and she does so like to try and appear mature beyond her years. Flashing you a sheepish grin, a mere glimpse of white teeth, Bonnie catches the unspoken invitation to sit and accepts as the dog heads to busy himself with the more pressing matter of food.
Easing down onto a chair, she clasps her hands on the tabletop, settling her gaze back upon you at the further offer of a drink. "Thank you. Oh.. water's fine." Your eyes are considered once more, now in better lighting, but she makes no remark upon their appearance either way. "..you avoid the city at night? I wouldn't have thought a.. someone like you.. would have anything to fear. Unless you get tired of wading through drunk college students." She's putting two and two together, yes. But there are all manner of things her eyes aren't opened to yet... apparently this is one of them.
Kharn looks around his home, a thing he sometimes forgets to do from time to time, and agrees. "It took months to carve all those. But with a couple friends it didn't take long to actually put the place together." The warm lighting is provided mostly from some (electric) lights high on the ceiling, but it's a dim sort of light. A pair of logs are pushed into the fire and ignite in seconds. Kharn brings a pitcher and a pair of glasses to the table and sits down across from you, but not before tossing what looks like a turkey neck at Bjorn, who doesn't even look up from the hen he's devouring.
"Stelpa, there's nothing I fear." Kharn does not sound like he's being macho, but simply stating the truth, "but I do get tired of drunk college students asking me about why my eyes look like this. It's more pronounced in this form, but it still looks like a cat's eyes reflect the light and I've been told it's rather unnerving. It does have it's benefits though." He looks like he just remembered something and sighs to himself before fetching some crude looking silverware. "And you? Do the hordes of drunk college students not bother you?" He peers at you, "Or are you one of them?" He grins in mock accusation.
"It's..." Eyeing the carving, the woodwork, the sheer humble grandeur of the place, Bonnie searches for a suitable adjective. "..homey." Well, job kinda done. And it is! In her opinion. It smells good, it's warm and it's comfortable. If that doesn't add up to 'homey', then what does. As for your eyes, she seems to accept the explanation, offering neither argument or agreement. "Some people are strange that way." Helping herself to the pitcher, the young woman smiles quietly to herself as she fills not one but both glasses with care, perhaps considering her answer to the blatantly teasing questions that follow. "I'm not around them often enough to be bothered by them. I only spend what time I have to in the city, before I can come home again." The water is set gently back down and she takes one glass for herself, setting it before her and absently tracing a forefinger around the rim as she speaks. ".I did stop by an Irish pub and tried Guinness the other day. It was like a five course meal in a glass." Whether that's a good thing or bad, she doesn't say.
"You mentioned family and friends.." the conversation moves on, and she doesn't seem to be deliberately prying. "..are they like you?" Her head tilts a little askance. "My own family is.. well, they're not around."
"Homey is a good way to explain it. It used to be filled with my friends, but not so much as of late." Kharn tears into a hen, biting right through the bones and crunching them as one might eat a pretzel. The same exact sound is coming from the dog. "Guinness hm? It's pretty heavy, I'll agree with you there. Not my favorite beer, but it's not awful." He accepts the glass, which looks tiny in his massive, clawed hands. "Some are like me. Others lack the animal side, but do have some of Luna's blessings." He pauses, and since he's rather tactless, asks, "They are not around here or?"
Lack of tact doesn't upset Bonnie. Not much upsets Bonnie. "My parents died last year. Car wreck." This is added to answer the unasked question that generally follows. "..and I haven't seen my brother since I was little. Just me, now." Funnily enough, she neglects the silverware and simply tears off a piece of game to pop into her mouth with her fingers. No airs and graces, this one. But lacking the teeth for snapping bones. "And my dog." Ah, that explains the reaction to Bjorn. "Errol. He's a Great Pyrenees. He was my mom's, really." She speaks idly around the small mouthful of food, but pauses to swallow and offer you a smile that's a touch weary for the first time.
"So, forgive me if I'm stating the complete obvious here but.. just for my own peace of mind.." Her lashes flit downward as she glances, perhaps pointedly, to your claws. "You're.. an an actual werewolf? Or.. I dunno. What do you call yourself?" Is there etiquette on how one ought to question a mythological creature - or so she had previously considered them - on how he prefers to be addressed? Bonnie's fumbling in the dark here, really. Books can only tell you so much. And she suspects the Hollywood take on things is far from accurate.
She ignores the suddenly palpable thudding behind her ribs. She's not afraid. She's not. But.. hey. This is the moment you really really might find out that things do go bump in the night. It wouldn't be the strangest realisation she's had, lately... probably.
Kharn listens to your fondness for your own dog and smiles; he's got a soft spot for dogs as well, obviously. He smirks, a corner of that legendary beard curling upwards at the straight question. He puts down the hen and grips his cup of water. It's only now that you might notice that he's missing the last two digits of his right ring finger, which ends in a puckered scar.
"I am a werewolf, yes. We call ourselves Uratha because of the transgressions of the Firstborn against Father Wolf." The word 'Uratha' carries extra emotional weight. Even though you may not speak the Spirit Tongue, the subliminal message of the word is felt by the Soul. He clarifies, "It means the Forsaken. They broke Pangea, and have forever ripped the Spirit Realm from the Material."
He regards you carefully with those burning eyes, "Humans, for the most part, recoil in terror at even this form. It's hidden in the recesses of every natural creature; the recognition of an Apex predator borne by Mother Luna to destroy and hunt. Yet even as you approached, I did not sense that reaction. You are more than you seem, are you not?"
This is just nonsensical. All she'd done was take a walk up here to satisfy her curiosity about the red-haired giant who seemed to enjoy his solitude. Now she's sitting down to metaphorical tea and crumpets with a.. yes, it was just confirmed. A 'something' she's read about in books, or via Google. A 'something' that does, apparently, exist. And didn't even take offence at her querying it.
The blonde swallows drily, and for a long moment stares unseeingly at the non-existent tip of your missing finger. While she may not feel the effects of such proximity the way a normal person might, it's still a lot to take in. Understatement of the century. A slow nod conveys her continued attention as she looses a slow, soft breath; allowing the pieces to fall into place. Is it so absurd, that such creatures might exist? ..no. Is it incredible t her that she's just sitting here speaking with one of them as casually as in a coffee shop? Yeah.. yeah, that part's pretty strange.
When you turn the line of questioning back upon itself, Bonnie raises her wide, dark-lashed eyes to meet your gaze, looking, for a split-second and for want of a better word, haunted. Though she cannot truly grasp the full meaning behind your explanation, the notion that an entire people should be apart from the place they belong touches some nerve in her compassionate nature. And it tugs at something far more ancient that she can't quite understand.
The words eventually reach her as if from a great distance, and she blinks; awareness returning. "Me?" Her tone implies surprise at even being worthy of consideration, by comparison. "I'm just.." Find the right word. "..I suppose the common term is a uh.. witch." Her weight shifts nigh imperceptibly, before she inwardly berates herself for her cowardice. If you can be straightforward, she ought to return the favor. "..and within these forests, I have little to fear." The cadence of her voice, carrying this addition, lowers a fraction. It's bordering on authoritative.
It's visibly needling away at her, though. The idea of being something other than human.
Kharn catches the glance at his finger, or lack thereof, but says nothing at first. "I've known many a seidr since I moved here. One even took the time to bless this house with an aura of merriment and happiness, though I think that sort of thing wears off after some length of time." That intense look softens and he smiles warmly, "Zelda's duties are done then, in Hanging Hills. I have no doubt you will serve the land as well as she did. If my Rites infringe, please tell me. I am merely a tenant here, this land belongs to you." Well, with but a sentence the old Wold knows more or less what she is.
Now it's time for him to explain, "I'm sure the legends of my kind make you wary. This is the correct way to view all of us until you know where our allegiance stands. There are Wolves to the North who wish nothing but to despoil the land and the Hisil that lies behind the gauntlet. They rape the Spirits and unlucky wanderers in order to shape it to their liking. The northern border of what I have claimed as my territory is the front line of the War with them, and I will die before I let them spread their malignance. All of this, the tattoos, this mark, my missing finger, the scars on my back, they are all home to Spirits with whom I have formed a bond. These spirits give me the tools I need to fight the most awful of opponents and live." He gestures to his tattoos, the strange voodoo mark on his chest, which upon closer inspection looks like it is seeping that black ink into his blood vessels, the missing finger joints, and the bone skull in his beard.
"I only knew of Zelda's duties before you, but I did not know her well enough to know of her abilities. Have you been to the Hisil?"
That's a lot of information to absorb. Bonnie holds your gaze, but abandons all pretense of appetite; leaning back with a thud in her chair and leaving one hand at rest upon the table's surface, perhaps as some semblance of grounding. Her expression runs the gauntlet between bewilderment and.. ever so slight indignation, truth be told. "How is it that you understand better than I do what's going on in my head?" she asks, the words laced with frustration that's plainly not aimed at you. "I've only fragmented dreams to go on. I thought I was going insane. That I'd end up in a padded room, the poster child for 'too much tv'!" While it's nice to have some sort of validation, it brings with it an ominous sense of responsibility and it has her pulse rising. Noting that, she draws a deep breath and lowers her eyes, dark lashes shadowing high cheekbones in the dim light. Where to begin?
"I don't think I know a Zelda.. and I certainly can't claim to fully understand these duties, as you call them." Utterly unbidden, your choice of phrase in the idea of the land 'belonging' to her, rouses a curve of warm amusement to play across the young woman's lips, though she makes no remark. No, she'd rather focus on the information being offered up than ponder her place in the universe for any length of time. Her head might explode all over her woolen coat. Speaking of which, now that the chill is decidedly shut outside, she shrugs and wriggles out of the aforementioned garment, letting it fall to her hips behind her on the chair.
The ghost of a frown darkens her brow as she follows your train of thought, the truths making sense and yet.. not. She has knowledge enough of the general theories one finds within occult readings to follow the thread, though. "The Hisil.." Her pronunciation is probably off, despite the care she takes over it. "I'm assuming that's some sort of spirit realm." Unthinkingly, her eyes wander the scars and strange markings you pointed out, and the flicker of uncertainty within her is palpable. "..I haven't been there, no.. is that something the uh.. the one before me could do..?"
It is certainly quite a lot of information to drop on the newly appointed Warden, but Kharn knows how it is to be thrust into a position that one knows nothing about. "I've lived here for years, stelpa, and I was an acquaintance of the Warden before you. I know that it's far more common for a new Warden to be chosen than for the previous one to choose a successor, so it's no surprise you had no knowledge of Zelda." He strokes the auburn thicket of a beard, thinking. "I think the land itself is yours to protect and tend to, but there is no expectation of you to tend the Hisil. I do not sense your reflection in the Spirit Realm, so that may be something that can be learned. Or maybe it isn't, we shall see I suppose." He flashes you a grin full of teeth.
Social cues are not usually the big viking's strong point, but he can see he's just overloaded you with information. "You are the luckiest of Wardens, you know. Your realm is guarded by the most terrifying warrior in decades. I tend the Hisil here, so the land flourishes without having to fight its reflection. And duties may have been a strong word, but your bond to the land is a powerful, ancient one."
This monsterous killing machine has survived battles that some would believe to be fantasy, slain creatures bent on ruin, and would give his life in an instant to prevent the spread of this enemy he speaks of. Yet he reveres your bond to the land than his own territory, a thing that is considered sacred to the Uratha.
Bonnie listens with rapt attention, taking notes behind her the seeming serenity of her ocean-hued eyes. All these unfamiliar words.. Hisil, Uratha.. Warden. Would there be anything in any book anywhere about what this 'man' appears to think she is? She privately doubts it. That, of course, doesn't mean he's wrong. In fact.. damn, it would explain an awful lot. She offers you a tremulous smile for the idea of learning to venture into the very realm within which was just described a horrific war. "I doubt I'd be of much use, even if I could learn." She remains leaning back in her seat, perhaps enjoying the solid, tangible support of the rear of the chair. But breathing seems to be coming easier again, and the fingertips of her hand where it lies atop the table begin to drum a steady, thoughtful rhythm.
The no doubt accurate description of yourself warrant a soft chuckle, even as her eyes lower to watch the motion. "Well then.. thank you, Kharn. For all that you have done and shall yet do." A momentary lapse into a manner that seems beyond her earthly years. Strange habit. "How about you take care of that side.." Subtle humor edges her words now as she flits a glance to you, the rest being left unsaid: ..and I'll take care of this one.
An afterthought occurs, however, that quells the too-brief amusement. "..is there anything I can do to help you and your people, in return..?"
Kharn places his hand on yours, calloused and strong, yet gentle, "It's not about how much 'use' you would be. I've learned to be relatively self-sufficient. But at some point, when you've learned more of what your purpose is, I could take you there and show you the emotions behind the land." He takes his hand back and drinks the rest of his water. His smile is a broad one when he responds, "I'll do what I can. Though even on this side, I'll take care of my lost brothers, those that have chosen the path of retribution and wish to ravage the land. They fear me, so hopefully there will be no conflict there.
Two hens yet remain on the plate, but Kharn goes ahead and sets it down for Bjorn, who scoots the dish around as he devours them. "I don't know how many of my kind live in Hanging Hills, I believe most of them live in the city. I ask nothing of you, in regards to help. Your company from time to time would be something to look forward to." For a warrior of legend, he's got a big heart and is a bit of a softy. There's no way for you to know the stress that comes with his position among the Wolves, and how it's rather freeing for him to talk freely without having to assert any kind of dominance.
Despite the comforting pressure of your weighty hand, Bonnie can't help the unease in her gaze when you speak of those on the other side. That's something she's going to take away and mull over in her own time. Though, the same could be said of almost the entirety of this bizarre encounter, let's be honest. "Company is a promise I can offer easily enough." The blonde musters a smile, meeting your gaze and inclining her head in a slight nod. "It's.. a strange relief to have someone make sense of the chaos going on in my mind, lately. Rather than just offer me sedatives, I mean." She upturns her palm and offers your clawed fingertips a squeeze before withdrawing, reaching for her own water. She doesn't drink, though. Just stares down at the calm surface.
"Kharn..?" she ventures, more gently even than her usual timbre. The world just got very big and she's feeling rather small. "..if it's all the same to you.. I think I'll take that wine now."