Centuries Deep (Peregrine x catalyst)

Peregrine

Waiting for Wit
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On fairly regularly, every day. I'll notice a PM almost immediately. Replies come randomly.
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Adept, Advanced
Preferred Character Gender
Primarily Prefer Male, No Preferences
Genres
High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
"Like, the actual temple temple?" The brown haired young woman continued, completely disregarding Khelida's question as soon as she got an affirmative response. "On the Island of Grace? Not just one of the outskirt temples? That's so cool! I always wanted to see all the temples on Grace Island, but I was only ever a glorified maid back at the Storm Shrine, and there was no way I'd ever get to go. And, well, now it's even less likely, but I'm also an official Storm Priest Apprentice, so I guess you never know which way life's ups and downs are going to take you."

Finishing with her rush of chatter, the young woman paused, grabbing a strand of flyaway brown hair and firmly tucking it back behind her ear, before she started to take another gulp from her soup. However, when the bowl was halfway to her mouth, she suddenly paused, lowering it again suddenly enough that it would have splashed on her if the bowl wasn't already half-empty. "Oh, right!" she proclaimed loudly, eyes once again locking Khelida down. "Is it true that there's a statue of the Goddess at the Central Temple that will really speak to people? I heard that the truly worthy who prayed before the statue would recieve her direct words. And that the statue was made from a stone that came from the very center of the island, at the peak of the highest mountain. And that the goddess herself led a stonemason to the island to carve it for her. And—"

"Sweetie," Giana suddenly interrupted, her eyes rolling slightly. "If you expect an answer, you need to stop talking long enough for Khelida to get a word in edgewise."

The brown haired woman froze, a faint blush staining her cheeks, before she shrugged playfully. However, true to Giana's prompting, she kept her mouth closed after that point.
 
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catalyst

yours truly
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Multiple posts per day, 1-3 posts per day, 1-3 posts per week, One post per week, Slow As Molasses
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Intermediate, Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
Preferred Character Gender
Male, Female,
Genres
Romance, fantasy (high, modern, medieval, whatevs), modern, darker themes, slice-of-life, fandom, adventure, etc. I'm pretty much open to anything so just throw any plot ideas you may have my way.
When the woman divulged her status as a priest's apprentice, the eager whirlwind of questions thrown at Khelida made much more sense. Was she the one Giana was talking about before, or was there another fully-fledged Storm Priest aboard? It was a little hard to believe that she would be so... perky if their tales of boarding were similar, but perhaps her and Myran were similar in that way.

At any rate, Khelida quickly realized that it would be difficult to get in any answer. There was a brief opportunity when it looked as if the priest was going to eat, but began asking questions again. The dark-skinned woman glanced to Giana with a small smile before patiently taking a bite of bread, now thoroughly softened from the stew and much more satisfying to eat. Myran simply watched the interaction with a small smirk, as it reminded her of the early days when she herself had a million questions for the Oracle.

When Giana allowed space for Khelida to answer, she offered another smile before meeting the priest's gaze once more. "I've only ever been to the Central Temple once, and that was many years ago, when I was first blessed as an Oracle of Life. As for the statue, that is what's written, no?" She took a moment to survey the others at the table. Most, at least, were politely listening, but not wanting to be rude, she said, "Though I'm not sure everyone wants to hear about it. We can chat later."

"Oh, don't mind us," Souta chimed in. "Henrika can hardly talk to the lot of us 'bout all that before our eyes glaze over, but that's never stopped her." He laughed lightly, winking at the priest.
 
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Peregrine

Waiting for Wit
Original poster
SECURITY DEPARTMENT
Invitation Status
Looking for partners
Posting Speed
1-3 posts per day, Multiple posts per week, One post per week, Slow As Molasses
Online Availability
On fairly regularly, every day. I'll notice a PM almost immediately. Replies come randomly.
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced
Preferred Character Gender
Primarily Prefer Male, No Preferences
Genres
High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
"Only once?" Henrika repeated, a clear trace of disappointment evident in her voice. However, a second later and she seemed to give herself some sort of mental pick-me-up, because her grin stretched even further. "Well! That still one time more than me, which is absolutely amazing. I really hope I get the chance to see it someday, although I suppose that's not likely considering the Captain would definitely throw me overboard if I ever suggested it."

Despite the light tone Henrika used, Souta and Cadan's faint nod that accompanied her comment made it abundantly clear that this was neither a figure of speech nor an exaggeration but actual fact. Everyone on board had heard rumors at the very least about their madman of a Captain's death feud with the Temple of Life, which was part of what made Khelida's presence on this ship of such interest to so many people.

"Say," Cadan said, his voice soft enough that it was almost swallowed by the sound of waves breaking against the Barracuda's hull. "I don't suppose you know why the Captain went so far out of his way to grab you, do you? We were sailing for five days to intercept your ship."
 

catalyst

yours truly
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Multiple posts per day, 1-3 posts per day, 1-3 posts per week, One post per week, Slow As Molasses
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Intermediate, Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
Preferred Character Gender
Male, Female,
Genres
Romance, fantasy (high, modern, medieval, whatevs), modern, darker themes, slice-of-life, fandom, adventure, etc. I'm pretty much open to anything so just throw any plot ideas you may have my way.
The overstatement of the past 24 hours was how curious it was that the captain expelled so much energy for an oracle of a deity he seemingly loathed. From Giana's warning of the crew to now one of their captain, perhaps it was that shared aversion that brought most of them together under the umbrella of piracy. Which wouldn't be uncommon, but...

"I don't suppose you know why the Captain went so far out of his way to grab you, do you? We were sailing for five days to intercept your ship."

Khelida looked at Cadan with an expression of interest that veiled puzzlement - though Myran knew her well enough to see the attempt of mentally piecing the puzzle together.

It was only five days ago when the decision to leave Kyzan was made. Not only did the Barraccuda know about the journey, but they knew as soon as it was in the works. Had the temple been betrayed, or was there something else at play? Varen promised it would soon become clear as to why they'd been pursued, but all the Oracle had now was questions without answers. If Varen's own crew didn't know his reasoning, Khelida felt that she should be careful with how much she gave away.

"Is that not something we should be asking you?" She replied.

As Souta slurped away at a spoonful of stew, he shrugged. "No one really knows," he answered after swallowing. "A'least, no one can tell us why," he mumbled, clearly disappointed as he looked down at his bowl. Soon, though, he peered back up at Khelida and Myran, a glitter of hope for gossip in dark eyes. "We just thought, maybe you saw the raid comin', or maybe you were on some important mission?"

Myran snorted, but her following tone was polite - as if she was reminding a friend of their manners. "If we were, we probably couldn't tell you."
 

Peregrine

Waiting for Wit
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SECURITY DEPARTMENT
Invitation Status
Looking for partners
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1-3 posts per day, Multiple posts per week, One post per week, Slow As Molasses
Online Availability
On fairly regularly, every day. I'll notice a PM almost immediately. Replies come randomly.
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced
Preferred Character Gender
Primarily Prefer Male, No Preferences
Genres
High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
Henrika nodded lightly as Souta explained that no one had told them why they'd suddenly started sailing in a different direction five days earlier. "The Captain said so, so we did," she stated, as though that was enough information to answer any possible question on the matter. Unlike Souta, Cadan, and even Giana, that seemed more than enough to satisfy her, as she'd already returned her attention to her bowl of soup rather than continuing to watch the two from the temple. She seemed to have lost interest in the conversation quite abruptly now that she was no longer the one asking questions.

Nor did Myran's light rebuke seem to throw any of them off. As a matter of fact, Giana outright laughed at the sound of her words. 'I ain't goin' diggin' in places I ain't wanted, but you're already 'board the Barracuda, dearie." She shook her head, still laughing slightly at Myran's comment. "If y'all was grabbed 'cause of some special mission, I'd recommend just gettin' it over with."

"You aren't supposed to betray the temple," Henrika rebuked Giana, almost instantly. "Not even under threat of death."

"And how'd that go for you, little wild child?" Giana asked, reaching out to ruffle Henrika's messy brown curls.

"I haven't done nothing wrong," Henrika replied proudly. "If the Storm God didn't want me'n Ashna here, he wouldn't answer our prayers."

Gina tugged suddenly on the girl's hair, causing her to yelp and swat at the older woman with one hand. However, Giana ignored her, turning back to face Khelida and Myran. "I know you religious types are all stubborn, but you'll be able to live well here. So long as you give the Captain whatever it is he wants. Y'all seem like nice folks so it'd be a shame to see things go bad."
 

catalyst

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Male, Female,
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Romance, fantasy (high, modern, medieval, whatevs), modern, darker themes, slice-of-life, fandom, adventure, etc. I'm pretty much open to anything so just throw any plot ideas you may have my way.
Myran shrugged at Giana's initial reply. They were still strangers to the crew and how things ran aboard the frigate of legend; so far it seemed like rumors were easily spread and nothing was a secret, but they had yet to truly learn how things worked. Varen seemed to keep some things to himself - hence the speculations - but that didn't necessarily mean that he minded if they were to be discovered.

And Henrika was right. True followers of the faith more often than not died before revealing secrets - at least, that was the expectation.

Giana's last comment, however, put the Oracle and her guard in a state of unease. Though she may not have meant much by it, it was a reality check for the unwelcome strangers aboard: as nice as some may be, there was nothing but Varen's command holding them back from attacking.

When the first set of crew began to clear from the main deck, Khelida and Myran took it as an opportunity to excuse themselves. Khelida was somewhat disappointed she wasn't called upon by the Captain, but ultimately took it as a chance to further recuperate. To meditate. Think.

The vision from before had been so brief and vague, and its presence was so.... strangely familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. The sender was unclear, which was rather disconcerting. Different than Life's presence. The Goddess rarely offered visions without prayer, but who else could it have been? Perhaps the connection was lost in the chaotic aftermath of the raid; Khelida was, after all, only human.

Eventually succumbing to sleep, the two newcomers didn't wake until a pounding on the door. Soon after came a voice that - after blinking sleep from her eyes - Khelida recognized as Henrika's. "Hope you two aren't used to sleepin' in! Open up!"

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at the first peak of dawn, the Storm apprentice was excited to show the pair the small space dedicated to the pantheon. After somewhat reluctantly readying for the day, they followed her to the orlop deck where, true to her word, was a statue for each of those in the pantheon. Yet beside them, as Khelida was quick to notice, were four unfamiliar figures. Considering how they were placed and the fact that some knelt before them, it was easy to assume they were devils. But actual statues? Of figures that she had to presume Varen approved. It was also easy to get lost in thought, and the Oracle of Life felt a sharp and discrete nudge on her side.

It was Myran, reminding her of her status with a polite smile as people trickled in and out. Far fetched to think there was an orderly of Life hidden aboard, but all it took was one rumor for investigative measures to be taken by the clergy.

Chosovi soon stood from Forge's statue. When she noticed Khelida and Myran in the background observing, she quickly stood and greeted them with a wide smile.

"Good morning! Hope you slept alright, given everything."

"Sure, but... would'a been nice to sleep a little longer. I don't blame Henrika, though... the gesture is nice," Myran said after stifling a yawn. Chosovi giggled and glanced the apprentice.

"Yes, Ashana can be rather... quiet in her duties, so Henrika loves to learn from and share with others when she can." She turned back to the pair. "There may not be a statue for Life, but the rest of the pantheon's there. And some others," she said as her eyes glazed across the four strangers, "but you don't have'ta concern yourself with those. So. What's the plan for today? Captain got you two on special orders?"

"No," Khelida shook her head, curly hair tied in the back. "I was thinking of approaching him myself, but... I'm not sure that is the best of ideas."
 
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Peregrine

Waiting for Wit
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1-3 posts per day, Multiple posts per week, One post per week, Slow As Molasses
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On fairly regularly, every day. I'll notice a PM almost immediately. Replies come randomly.
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced
Preferred Character Gender
Primarily Prefer Male, No Preferences
Genres
High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
It seemed that this morning period of worship wasn’t limited just to those who sought to prepare their prayers for the day. In trickles of one or two, every single person on the ship was making their way into the prayer room, settling before their chosen statue. Henrika was already in front of the statue of the bold-looking, muscular, horned God of Storms, his arms spread, carefully carved lightning rising from his fingers, and a swirling tidal wave beneath his feet. She kneeled before the statue, following along a half-beat behind a toffee skinned woman with smooth black hair, who was wearing the blue robes of a Storm Priest. Many of the other people on the ship gathered behind them, following the guided prayer.

After all, Storm was known as the god of the sea, and his wind and water prayers were often the most useful on an ocean-bound ship. Only a few scattered people were at the other statues. Several people had joined Chosovi in front of the God of the Forge and Craftsmen, including a pale-skinned, black haired young woman who briefly shot Khelida a dirty look before returning to her prayers.

Chosovi nodded once in response to Khelida’s slightly hesitant comment. “The Captain is not a shy man,” she stated calmly. “When he wants somethin’ from you, you’ll know it. Until then, best not to worry.”

From the far side of the room, opposite where most of the crew was entering, a wooden door suddenly swung open, revealing a short man with a round, ruddy complexion. Without so much as a word or a glance at anyone else in the room, he walked over to the statue of one of the four unknown devils that Khelida had noticed before. It was the one closest to the door he’d just pushed his way through, and he didn’t have to take more than five steps before he kneeled in front of the statue. Muttering something unintelligible, he didn’t stay in that position for more than ten seconds before standing back up and heading back through the door.

Trailing behind his whirlwind passage was the young blond haired man who had joined Khelida and Myran at lunch yesterday. Unlike the first man’s impatient attitude, he strolled through the area with a slight smile on his face, making his way towards the statue of the God of Knowledge.

Passing by Khelida he offered her a small smile and a nod. “The Captain insists that everyone pray at least once a day,” he offered, with no apparent preamble. “You should as well. If you don’t like any of the gods, like Igor, Cap’n says you can just say a few words to those four.”

He gestured towards the four unknown statues, before seeming to suddenly take note of who he was speaking to. He only hesitated for a moment, before offering both of them a slightly awkward smile. “Well, doubt that would be the case for you. Have a good morning.”
 

catalyst

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Romance, fantasy (high, modern, medieval, whatevs), modern, darker themes, slice-of-life, fandom, adventure, etc. I'm pretty much open to anything so just throw any plot ideas you may have my way.
Chosovi confirming that it was best to wait for Varen approaching was helpful, for the time being. Not being one to waste breath, she didn't want to go to Varen only to be brushed aside. For now, her and Myran could focus on themselves and... everyone else.

Before anyone could say more, a short man entered the room and briefly knelt in front of one of the devil statues. Khelida couldn't help but watch and was only pulled from her curiosity when - what was his name? - Cadan appeared.

A captain who wanted everyone to pray? The oracle supposed it wasn't that strange if it meant the ship and crew was blessed, if even only for self-preservation. "Who would those four be?" Khelida asked before the blond got too close to the exit. It wouldn't hurt to learn if they were going to be on this ship for an indefinite amount of time.

"Oh, those are actually quite interesting. That one is, with what I've always assumed a panther, is the God of Beasts. Second, there, is War, next is... Traps I believe, and the last is Plague." As Chosovi pitched in and named each figure, Khelida's and Myran's eyes scanned over each one. Khelida's head cocked with the first that Chosovi mentioned. Why would beasts be separate from Hunt? War had a raised sword and helmet, Traps had a mischievous smile, and Plague... strangely wasn't as frightful a depiction as other figures she'd seen. A mixture of confusion and intrigue settled snugly in the Oracle's mind, until it went elsewhere completely.

The constellation from yesterday's vision was clear and focused, yet the points were brighter. Standing on the top deck, she could feel the ship beneath her feet begin to shift towards the closest star, steadfast. Purposeful. The vision shifted once again to papers in her own hands, Varen beside her. And when she came to reality, she was left with a much bigger sense of urgency than before.

Those scrolls had to be what Varen was after.

"Where might the captain be now?"
 
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Peregrine

Waiting for Wit
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SECURITY DEPARTMENT
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Looking for partners
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1-3 posts per day, Multiple posts per week, One post per week, Slow As Molasses
Online Availability
On fairly regularly, every day. I'll notice a PM almost immediately. Replies come randomly.
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced
Preferred Character Gender
Primarily Prefer Male, No Preferences
Genres
High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
Chosovi had just been preparing to return to her worship of the statue of the God of the Forge when Khelida's words caused the other woman to pause. Her brow wrinkled slightly. Mere moments before, the two of them had just been discussing that it would be best to wait to wait for the Captain to request something from her, yet now she was asking where he was?

Shrugging slightly to herself, Chosovi seemed to decide that the easiest thing would be to simply answer the question. It wasn't worth meddling in these kinds of matters. "He'd probably be in his room at this time of day," Chosovi replied, gesturing vaguely upwards. "In the Great Cabin on the sterncastle deck. It's the only door there so you..."

However, her words suddenly trailed off at the sound of a distinct pair of footsteps that was echoing through the ship. In the narrow, wooden confines of the ship's bowels, every step seemed to echo particularly loud through the area, solid and purposeful, neither fast nor slow. On the opposite side of the prayer room, the Storm Priest's prayers trailed off in the same manner as Chosovi's words had only moments before. Her head turned towards the room's entrance. As though it had been some sort of signal, everyone else in the room turned to look as well.

The steps grew louder, until a tall black boot preceded the Captain of the Barracuda into the room.

Varen didn't bother to pay attention to the countless eyes that had turned to look at him. Everyone on the ship was capable of recognizing his approach, but it was the fact that he'd come to the prayer halls that truly caught everyone's attention. After all, despite insisting everyone on board pray, Varen had never once joined them in worship.

Was it hypocrisy? Perhaps. But even if it was, who would dare to complain? He would like to see the person who would try.

At the moment, every single one of them was irrelevant to him. The only person he had eyes for was the curly haired woman standing to one side of the room. His gaze locked on to her expectantly.

"You have something to tell me," he proclaimed, tone making his words a statement rather than a question. "Come with me."
 
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catalyst

yours truly
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Multiple posts per day, 1-3 posts per day, 1-3 posts per week, One post per week, Slow As Molasses
Online Availability
weekends
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Intermediate, Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
Preferred Character Gender
Male, Female,
Genres
Romance, fantasy (high, modern, medieval, whatevs), modern, darker themes, slice-of-life, fandom, adventure, etc. I'm pretty much open to anything so just throw any plot ideas you may have my way.
As the sound of footsteps resounded throughout the room of worship, everyone seemed to be pulled from their current task. Chatter and murmurs of prayer alike stopped as all eyes were drawn to the owner of those footsteps: the Captain. Yet, he seem disinterested towards anyone who wasn't the Oracle.

At his words, Khelida's brows slightly furrowed. How had he known? If it weren't for everyone hearing him approach the room, she would have assumed he'd been listening on the other side of the entrance. She supposed it was possible he picked up on it in her demeanor, but... she doubted that. It felt as if he had gone to the room knowing she needed to speak with him.

It wasn't sitting quite right with her, but there wasn't time to dwell on it. She looked to the cannoneer and, with a short bow of the head, thanked her before proceeding to follow Varen. Myran stayed behind, though she watched the two of them with a close eye until they were out of sight. She took a deep breath before looking towards the statues, knowing she should pray. Who knew what the day would hold?

Meanwhile, when the pair was out of most people's earshot, Khelida looked to the stubble-faced man. "I saw what you may be looking for."
 

Peregrine

Waiting for Wit
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SECURITY DEPARTMENT
Invitation Status
Looking for partners
Posting Speed
1-3 posts per day, Multiple posts per week, One post per week, Slow As Molasses
Online Availability
On fairly regularly, every day. I'll notice a PM almost immediately. Replies come randomly.
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced
Preferred Character Gender
Primarily Prefer Male, No Preferences
Genres
High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
"Excellent," Varen replied to Khelida's statement, his tone incomprehensible. Inside, his heart was burning.

Varen was well aware that his nature was inherently chaotic. That had always been the case, and he didn’t see why it would change any time in the future. He was not a calm person, and his behavior was erratic and impulsive. Most of the time, he chose to completely disregard the notion of prudence, preferring instead to act however he saw fit at the moment. After all, there was rarely a reason why he shouldn’t do whatever the fuck he wanted.

He ignored prudence, but that didn’t mean he was ignorant of it.

That was why, instead of pausing to interrogate her on the spot, he chose to keep walking, his stride as apparently patient as it had ever been. Even though he longed for nothing more to dig out every possible piece of information she might possess. Even though he wished he could just crack open her head and physically scoop the visions out of her brain. For the first time in decades, there was a reason he had to act with prudence.

That was why he lifted one hand towards her, giving a gesture to wait. He didn’t trust his crew. He didn’t trust the statues of the gods that were watching from behind them. Hell, he barely even trusted this temple girl and the supposed visions she was being given, but he had no choice on that one.

He led Khelida out of the bowels of his Barracuda, away from the crew and the gods, up the decks, and to his personal quarters. It wasn’t until the door finally snapped closed, sealing away the stream of morning light that came through the portal, that he was finally able to act on his impulse.

“Tell me what you saw.”
 

catalyst

yours truly
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Romance, fantasy (high, modern, medieval, whatevs), modern, darker themes, slice-of-life, fandom, adventure, etc. I'm pretty much open to anything so just throw any plot ideas you may have my way.
Khelida followed him silently, assuming he was leading them to privacy. Up on the surface, she couldn't help but take in a deep breath of fresh air. Below deck certainly wasn't the smelliest or dirtiest place she'd ever been, but there was nothing like that ocean air. The gentle breeze teased at her locks as she briefly looked around. Most atop the ship were already busy with the start of their day, and there were a few faces she hadn't seen yet. While she didn't stare, she was sure there were eyes on her and the Captain as they approached his quarters.

Once the door shut with the pair inside, chatter began.

"Hey, Rauri, don't tell me that's the oracle everyone's been chitchattin' about," a dark-skinned woman asked a large, red-headed man.

Said man turned half around to meet Sima's gaze. "Aye, what of it?"

"She just... isn't what I was expecting."

"No?" Before Rauri could speak further, another dark-skinned woman peaked from behind him. They'd been checking some loot from the day before, but any conversation where Sima was involved was worth pausing for.

"She's quite a looker, yeah?" Nai'a commented. She was much shorter than him and Sima, and had an amused smile plastered on her face.. "Her and her lil' friend - hair like cherries, that one. I dun' know how these religious types are always so damn pretty." Rauri and Sima laughed, though the latter's was accompanied by a glint in her eye.

"Ah, but that could only help, yes?" Sima replied. "Maybe that's what the Captain needs - a pretty lady in his quarters to ease whatever he's been so bent about lately."

"Sima!" Nai'a laughed this time, and Rauri could only chuckle and shake his head. "Well, she very well could be his match. She's the one who bested poor Simun with a dagger."

"You're not joking?"

---

In said quarters, Khelida's eyes quickly adjusted to the dimness once more and stayed on Varen, as she wasn't exactly interested in his personal affairs. Despite the mystery that was the captain of the Barraccuda, perhaps simply talking could provide a few clues.

"Coordinates," she started, "to... I'm not sure exactly where. The two of us were in a room looking at scrolls, but I could not make the language." Head cocked ever so slightly, she watched Varen closely. "Is that helpful to you?"
 

Peregrine

Waiting for Wit
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1-3 posts per day, Multiple posts per week, One post per week, Slow As Molasses
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On fairly regularly, every day. I'll notice a PM almost immediately. Replies come randomly.
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced
Preferred Character Gender
Primarily Prefer Male, No Preferences
Genres
High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
“Scrolls,” Varen repeated flatly, sounding momentarily less than thrilled with her response. He took a slow breath, controlling his temper. It was perfectly reasonable to imagine that she wouldn’t simply be able to point him to his goal. If the information had been sufficiently common knowledge for such a thing, he would have heard about it long before now.

No matter how disappointed he was, this was still a clue. And that was more than he’d had in decades.

Varen didn’t respond as to whether or not it was helpful for him. He didn’t know, after all. This could be a trap, or a lie, or a wild goose chase, or even a red herring for some other plot. He had absolutely no intention of praising or flattering her for unreliable information. Instead, he gestured towards the large map that had been pinned up on one wall of the room.

“You said coordinates?” he asked, staring at her piercingly. “Show me where.”

The map was clearly worn with age, the fine fabric it had been printed on slightly tattered around the edges, and the ink faded from deep black to dark brown. However, what made the map even more unusual was that it was not centered on the Island of Grace.

Instead, it was centered on the Chaesilian Bay, leaving Grace Island in an awkward space somewhere beyond a quarter of the way to the right edge. It was a map that casually dismissed the place that was commonly recognized as the center of the modern world.

That map had been accompanying Varen as long as the Barracuda had, and he’d never had it replaced, despite its age and slightly lacking details, for the simple fact that there were no longer any maps like it left in the world. It was a relic of history that recorded the world as it was seen in an age long past. One might have called it irreplaceable. But most would simply call it heresy, a remnant of an age before the Light Goddess freed the world from the plague of devils, and something that should be destroyed.

Of course, the only Storm Priest who had ever dared to try, Varen had stabbed and thrown overboard.
 

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It wouldn't be the first time someone was unhappy with the Oracle's vision. A few times, they had been so vague and cryptic that it frustrated even her, especially in her younger days. What had to be accepted was that the visions were never for her. It was never her responsibility to uncover the veiled messages; it was the receiver's. She was simply the middleman, and that could be particularly difficult for anybody who wished it was as simple as drawing upon her divine gift and having all the answers laid out in front of them.

At the Captain's gesture, Khelida looked upon the large map. And for a moment, she was caught in her own interest. The image was strangely unfamiliar, only for the fact that Grace Island was not at its center. To a slight but noticeable extent, brows furrowed as she moved to stand right in front of it. In all her travels, she had never seen a map that did not depict the Island as the world's center. It was such a curious sight that Khelida couldn't help but take in the details. Weathered and faded, it told a story all on its own. She just didn't know how to read it... yet.

"Where did you find this map?" she asked as she looked back to Varen, dark fingers less pointing to it and more holding back from touching the fabric. Her curiosity was clear as day and his question had totally been lost on her despite his seriousness. "How old is this...?" Her tone softened as she looked back to the map, hand retreating.
 

Peregrine

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Varen's brow wrinkled at her questions, and he almost spoke out against her curiosity on instinct. As unreliable as he found her so-called vision, it was still the only clue he'd ever gotten, and the fact that he hadn't even found it himself irked him further. He didn't want to hear her questions, he wanted to know where they were going next so that he could get on with it and move one step closer to his actual goal.

But the words never passed his lips. Not because he didn't want to scold her to get back on task, but because she was asking about one of the only things in this room that hinted at a massive conspiracy that surrounded the Temple of Light. A conspiracy that would cause her superiors to rather kill a precious Oracle than see it exposed to the light of day.

He couldn't tell her about it outright. Not when—little as he liked it—he still needed her help and couldn't risk her taking drastic measures out of misbegotten loyalty. But letting her stumble upon the information herself? That possibility interested him greatly.

"I got it from the ruins around Chaesilian Bay." A forbidden ground, if ever there was one. The Temple of Light's history books said it was the headquarters of an organization of devil worshippers that existed over two hundred years ago, one so powerful that their reach spread across the entire world. The same organization that supposedly brought the world to apocalypse when they finally succeeded in summoning devils from the outer hells. Their folly not only obliterated their own civilization, but spread the flames of war across the world, and nearly destroyed all the other nations and people as well. The world of two centuries ago was shrouded in mystery, as almost no physical records remained of the time before the Goddess sealed the devils and restored peace to the world.

Access to Chaesilian Bay was strictly prohibited by the Temple of Light, as it is said that the influence of the devil still remains within the city. Those who were not supremely loyal to the Goddess could still hear the whispers of the devil, cursing their imprisonment and seeking release from their chains.

It was also the first location Varen had visited when he got himself a ship and a competent crew.

"It's over two hundred and twenty years old."

Having answered her questions, Varen's attention immediately returned in full force to the far more pressing matter of her vision. He stepped up next to her, gesturing towards the map once again. "Coordinates?" he pressed, tone somewhere between a question and a demand.
 
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Chaesilian Bay? Khelida's eyes notably widened as more and more thoughts poured over her. "Two hundred and twenty years," she repeated to herself, voice barely above a whisper. She could imagine the hard-lined face of any number of of her previous mentors: disbelief, fear, apprehension. If there was a place on earth that could bring even the holiest of them to their knees, it was the place where the most sacrilegious acts were committed by the most corrupt - the starting point of the war that devastated the land and nearly destroyed it.

Simply attempting to travel to Chaesilian Bay was practically sinful, and there were plenty of fearful legends surrounding it, whispered to naughty children or unbecoming folks at risk of breaking the law. Not completely unlike the Barracuda, the Oracle supposed.

Despite the legends of lingering evil, however, the map... well, it was unlike anything she had ever seen. Two hundred and twenty years ago... was that how the world was seen before the war? It was more likely a devil worshipper's creation, but the question remained in the back of Khelida's mind. And when exactly did Varen first get it? Did he find it or trade for it? It was admittedly strange that this was what he used when a current version could easily be retrieved.

When Varen once more asked for the location, it helped ground the curious woman. It was best not to voice her thoughts to a stranger, as much as she might wish to.

It took a moment for her to align the constellation with the differences in the map, but when she had her best guess, she pointed to Sūryaraśmi. It appeared to be a mountain range in what would now be lower Venkashta, a region in the far north subject to freezing temperatures. She didn't remember the cold in the vision, but she hardly ever remembered feelings like those. And she didn't know much about it, but she already had a feeling it was not going to be an easy journey. It was highly unlikely Varen would release her and Myran without verifying the validity of her powers, so it appeared they would have to mentally prepare themselves.

"That is the best I can do for now."
 
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Peregrine

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The moment Khelida’s finger landed on the map, Varen immediately began to calculate in his head. The location was far from being in close proximity to their current position, but nor was it incredibly far away. Varen had never been the type to deal with the specifics of their navigation, that’s what he had a sailing master for, but even he could tell that the best way to get there was to sail past the Clain Cyra Isles, and then head north as far as the water would take them.

Even then, they’d still be on foot for a good week before they’d be in the general proximity of the area the Oracle had indicated, but that didn’t overly surprise Varen. He’d sailed more of this ocean than any person alive, and while he couldn’t say he’d seen every inch of coast line, he was confident he wouldn’t have missed something that would hold so much significance to him.

“And you’ll be able to guide me more precisely once we’ve gotten close, correct?”

The little pinprick of map where she’d gestured was still ultimately a large swathe of territory. And while Varen didn’t need any more precise directions for now, he did not want to go tromping through the snow looking for a completely unknown location any longer than was absolutely necessary.
 

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"Ideally, yes," she replied calmly. "But I can only tell you what is given to me." It was a reminder that this journey was not entirely their own, and that wasn't always received well, if not intentionally forgotten so that they could blame the Oracle later on if they did not get what they wanted. "It's not like we get paid for this," Myran would say, and Khelida would laugh. If an Oracle was not held hostage or abducted, sometimes they were offered money. But what was money compared to duty - a divine honor, an oath? No, no one in such a status could accept payment for their "services" - not the clergy and certainly not an Oracle.

Khelida looked back to the ancient map. She wasn't sure what Varen was looking for or what they were being led to, but she was sure that whatever it was - wherever they ended up - it was hidden. Nobody held faint light to scrolls if, at least, they weren't supposed to be read by just anyone.

At that realization, her gaze wandered back to the pirate captain. Had he made that connection? It was unlike most people not to at least give a hint of the end goal by now. Most outright told her what they were seeking, if only to be absolutely sure that she was leading them on the right path or would give them the right answer. Now that she thought about it, did he even know her name? She knew his because of the crew, but... had her or Myran even introduced themselves to anyone? She couldn't remember...

She supposed it didn't matter. They would all learn soon enough, if they wanted to.

"Have you or your crew been that far north before?" If not, she only hoped they would be as prepared as possible for such low temperatures.
 

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The Oracle's comment didn't take Varen by surprise, or even perturb him a bit. "I know," he replied instead. "I'm well aware you're useless without the gods." But Varen would never have come to grab her if he didn't have some measure of assurance that he'd be able to get the information he wanted out of her. If the note he received from the God of the Hunt was to be believed, Varen wasn't the only one who had a stake in the game now.

And that was a better assurance than any.

As Khelida turned to study the map again, Varen turned away, walking over to the table and sitting down with his legs outstretched, crossed at the ankle. "I've been to the north. Some of the crew have." His head leaned back slightly, resting against the back of the chair as he stared at the ceiling. His gaze looked more like he was looking past it, though. "You don't have to worry about them. If they can't figure out how to put on clothes and keep their fingers from falling off, that's their problem."

He had no more reason to talk to the Oracle, now that she didn't have new information to tell him. As for the full content of her vision, he didn't really care. There was no sense in trying to dig out information about what exactly was there when they'd be arriving in a couple weeks anyways. "You can leave. Tell anyone you see that I want to see Simun now."
 

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Khelida paid no mind to the captain's belittling, but did turn to face him when she heard him sit down. Hardly, if at all, worried about his own crew, she briefly wondered how he managed to rise through the ranks. Perhaps it was that very attitude that helped, a sort of "survival of the fittest" mentality for their way of life. But did a ship function without a team?

Myran often told her she overthinks things.

He certainly had no interest in the Oracle now that he had an answer. At his dismissal, Khelida fought back a mockful smile as she left the room. As this ship was much larger than the previous, she took her time navigating its halls. Familiarizing with her surroundings was as ingrained as scripture, and she had never been on a frigate before. Smaller, inconspicuous or faster ships were typically the best bet when traveling by sea.

The first person she did run into was a large man with long orange hair and a matching beard. Carrying a plank of wood nearly as large as himself, he merely shook his head at her words and pointed to a woman across the way with dark skin and locs.

"Excuse me, the captain needs Simun. You can relay the message?"

The woman looked Khelida up and down before simply nodding. Assuming she needed nothing else from the Oracle, Khelida moved to leave but paused at a thought. "Where can I find the Storm Priest?"