Pegulis, Chapter 2

Discussion in 'THE STORY SO FAR' started by Asmodeus, Apr 22, 2014.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. CHAPTER 2
    The Utandis Cradle


    "Now children. Who can tell me what a god is?"

    The class knew their Mentor's tricks. There would be no impulse answers; no strenuous raising of hands nor cries for attention. Children of Pegulis knew better. They followed the scholar as he trod the foot-wide trench around the Butcher's Chamber. It was an ice gulley worn smooth by the feet of a hundred classes before them.

    "No one? What about you, Willem?"

    A Nocturne child, pale as the chamber wall, spoke up from the back of the group. "It's an episte-- ... an epist-er-mological placeholder."

    "I see you've been paying attention. Now what does that mean?"

    A Draken child, bundled up in furs, raised his arm. "It means it's something we haven't proven yet."

    In the chamber's centre was a hive of industry. The great carcass of the dragon stretched from one end of the cavern to the other and scraped the ceiling with its dorsal spines. Other gulleys, like the ones the school-class walked in, took the run-off of blood and stomach juices. Close to a hundred Barvelle workers swarmed like ants across the corpse. They were joined by ropes and bonesaws, canvas sheets and arcane shackles. The greater number worked on prizing the scales away and conveying them in wagons to other chambers. There was also a group cutting membrane from the wings - a task requiring careful cooperation with both ends of a tree-saw. And by far the most cautious group were the wizards by the dragon's head, who delicately siphoned off the fire mucus from its lungs and airways. It was dissection on an industrial scale. The Butcher's Cavern had only ever seen the likes of fish and gar mammoths before this day. Nothing like this.

    Through the din of shouts and magic discharge, the mentor chuckled. "Proven? Look around you, Mysah!" The old man held his hands out and turned a slow circle. "It is known empirically, beyond a doubt, that there were once creatures who tore apart the sky and plunged us into an ice age."

    Katerin, a human girl, was quick to retort. "But to be empirical it has to be testable." She crossed her arms. "Since the gods are dead, they cannot recreate the conditions that proved their existence."

    The mentor led them down a tunnel between the wagons. The next cavern ahead was dripping - a veritable rain of melting ice. The children pulled their hoods up and moved between long rows of granite blocks where acolytes worked the dragon bone. In powdered form, the bone dust was tossed and scattered by their incantations, and polished gems began to glow with thermic resonance.

    "Do you remember your grandfather, Katerin?"


    "Then how are you sure he existed?"

    "Mother has a painting of him at the the Feast of Randuc, and she kept his fur cloak in a tr--"

    The old man waved her off. "Oh, hearsay! Hearsay! You can't prove anything."

    Another child retorted. "So because the world is frozen, we must think a god responsible?"

    At the chamber's far end, a rock wall was decorated with flowers, their stems pushed into cracks and hung with parchment scrolls. Prayers and good wishes for the Northern Archon, who had woken that morning from her coma. Here the mentor paused and gathered the children around him. "Precisely not. We must not think anything. This is not Kaustir. There is a gap in our knowledge and we are free to fill it with whatever we choose. The popular notion at present is that there were gods."

    He raised a finger to the class. "However, the error, children, is in mistaking popularity for whimsy. The belief in gods is held by scholars, farmers, soldiers and sages all over the Blue Kingdom. Tribes separated by thousands of miles, raised in isolation, subject to opposing extremes of terrain and temperament. People who, like you, have been taught to question every facet of their existence, even the folklore of their elders. So when the assorted strata of learned men conclude that there were gods, we must not take this lightly. For so many of us to feel to intuit that there were once such beings - is a proof greater than any empirical method. And you may think me irrational to say so. But which of us is the teacher now?"

    The children laughed and followed the mentor onwards, past the stairway of the observatory tower, where armoured guards stood watch. The heated squabbles of meteorologists drifted down the spiral steps.

    "So tell me, children: knowing what you know and do not know - what is it you feel about the gods?"

    Messengers rushed by, sprinting with sudden urgency. Whispers of avalanches and Golems jumped through the main thoroughfare; and the greater part of the class were distracted. But a few remained and stared hard at the old man.

    "That they are not gone."

    "That they left something behind."

    "The Weapons..."

    The mentor smiled and nodded.

    * * * * *​


    For the third time, Arcantos assured the healer he was warm enough. Huddled in furs, with a brace of thermic gems around his neck, the Draken messenger slumped against the cave wall. He was one among two dozen who had sat there for the better part of an hour, quiet and sombre as the healers tried to save the less fortunate. The avalanche had blocked the cave entrance and left only torchlight to see by. Not fifteen foot away from Arcantos himself, the fallen snow was compacted. Impassable. Some had tried to dig through it and failed.

    The cave was little more than an alcove, formed beneath an overhang in Fissura Pass. A pocket of air that had missed the shower. The instinct of panic had sent many here as the convoy scattered, and Arcantos was among them. Those who had stayed with the wagons and horses had perished. Those who had fled were trapped beyond the pass, bound alone for Aldus or Barvelle.

    Yet those who had sought cover... those who had stumbled blindly for the canyon walls and the comfort of darkness... those were the ones who now huddled in this cave, alive enough to partake in their slow death.

    A white dragon, the size of a wolf, rested its ethereal head in Arcantos's lap. Since the avalanche his aux had been quiet. As had many. It was to be expected in times of shock. The Draken made a show of stroking the creature, feeling only the slightest warmth on his soul as he did so. His brow was knitted. The wizard Medwick had sent him to warn the cities, and now he would die in the endeavour.

    The Ghoul Sage would triumph. And darkness would swallow the land.

    He pushed the thought away, just as he pushed away the hunger in his belly. Looking up, the Draken watched his fellow survivors and saw among them the assuring sights of Captain Ilsa and the hunter Castigarian. They were helping wrap the dead.

    At least for now the best of Aldus still lived.
    #1 Asmodeus, Apr 22, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2014
    • Like Like x 5
    • Love Love x 1
  2. Tavark Rain they could deal will. Howling winds weren't anything new. Even thunder and lightning were tolerable. But to be flipped on their heads by an irate dragon flying in under the shadow of a violent storm was a bit much! Buildings suffered various degrees of damage and they had just managed to put out the fires threatening to consume a good portion of the town. Debris and spoils of the hunt littered the streets and exhausted Tavarkians milled about, wallowing in the somber after glow of devastation.

    Amara frowned as she sat on a tree trunk still soaked from the three days worth of down pours they had so gracefully received and stared at the now grounded terror. The thickest chains and toughest ropes they could find anchored by large boulders bound the beast to the earth; its jaws clamped shut in a similar fashion to prevent it from causing any more harm with it's breath of lightning. It will have to do until more information on dragon killing can be found. For the time being, cleaning up and rest was the main priority.

    "There's gotta be more information in Barvelle," she reasoned, her voice heavy with fatigue and gloom. "More answers; solutions even." Tang was seated next to her and listened, though his eyeless depths were locked on the stormy dragon near them. It was the closest any of the Tavarkians had come to it thus far, too rattled and on edge to wonder too close to it even in such a pathetic state, but Amara didn't seem to share their feelings. She wanted to know more. Wanted to know what evoked such a beast to suddenly attack an unsuspecting town. At the same time, she wasn't dumb enough to get any closer.
    #2 Noctis the Devious, Apr 22, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2014
    • Like Like x 3
  3. BARVELLE, royalblue When the Northern Archon awoke that morning, she found her world in chaos. At least that was how it felt. Three days she had lain unconscious in a coma, something none of the healers, sorcerers, or otherwise could seem to figure out. Her retelling of what happened gave no hint either. Eirene herself could scarcely recall the events. She remembered her conversation with Arktus and Ethelwen. She remembered something breaching the chamber and Arktus' alarm at seeing Medwick. Her own bafflement as her spells fell useless. Then the darkness.

    Eirene was irritated. Her body could never be boasted as strong. But her magic was. Certainly more than anything Medwick possessed, if that was indeed Medwick. And if it was... had he achieved what he was after? The god's weapons? Had he gone completely mad? The missing time, the missing information.... it was all swimming around in her head and she couldn't even grasp a thread of it. Her aux whimpered, curled up at the foot of her bed gazing at her with wide pleading eyes.

    Trying to think about ANY of it was futile in her current state, leaving Eirene even more frustrated. There was no time to waste lying impotent in bed. Not with news about Tavark buried in a storm, nor with the lost caravan from Aldus, and certainly not with the potential threat to Barvelle and it's dragon prize. Barvelle was unprotected. What else had happened in the days she was unconscious...?

    She sent fussing healers away and requested an audience with several people. Amongst them included Ethelwen, Siris Dais, and Coul Idanian, amongst others.

    There was much to discuss and even more to do.
    • Like Like x 4
  4. ETHELWEN-BARVELLE, royalblue Ethelwen was knee deep in compost when word of the Archon's reawakening finally reached his ears. He paused in what he was doing, a shovel-full of the rich, deep soil halfway between the pile and the wheelbarrow, and bent his head forward. He let out a quiet, unheard breath, and felt some of the weight on his chest lift. She was awake. Ethelwen didn't know what he would have done if she had never recovered, if the last person to whom she had ever spoken had been him.

    He began to work with renewed vigor, a smile spreading over his face. Things were getting back to normal. He was digging through scraps of food and old paper on the far side of the city, looking for nutrient-rich dirt, and the Archon was awake. What more could he ask for? Maybe she would even remember him, and maybe he would get a chance to aid her again. Hopefully this time it wouldn't end quite so disastrously.

    Because he was on the far side of Barvelle to the Archon's chambers, it had taken a long time for the news of her awakening to reach him, even with as quickly as rumors were passed within the Secret City. Unknown to him, his wish had been fulfilled even before he had the ability to think of it. But he still nearly had time to finish sifting through the pile for all of the good soil before the poor runner sent to find him, having had to track him all through the city on the various projects upon which he could have been working, finally managed to find him.

    The rabbit anima was panting heavily as he finally came to a rest near Ethelwen, a bright pink dragonfly resting on his shoulder. Ethelwen glanced up in surprise at the panting rabbit, whose nose had wrinkled in disgust at the smell of rotting plant-matter.

    "Are you.... Ethelwen?" The rabbit looked like it would rather be anywhere else in the world right now, and it eyed Ethelwen with something bordering on loathing. Ethelwen nodded, setting down his shovel, and turned his full attention to the rabbit.

    "The Archon has... requested your presence in her chambers."
    Now the rabbit's disgust was made clear. He could not comprehend what the Archon would possibly want with a man like Eithelwen. Frankly, Ethelwen himself was just as surprised. He was one of the first people the Archon sent for when she woke up? The thought was foreign, unexpected, but entirely pleasing. Apparently he had made a better impact than he had thought.

    "But.." Ethelwen said, suddenly seeing where he was, noticing the dirt and plant matter that clung to his fur. "I can't go like this!"

    "I should think not!" the rabbit replied haughtily. The dragonfly buzzed angrily before taking off, leading the rabbit back down the passage. Ethelwen stood still for a moment, surprise written all over his face. And then the shovel was clattering to the floor, and Ethelwen was halfway down the passage. He paused only once, glancing back at the wheelbarrow full of the soil that the growers had sent him to collect. But he shrugged away the thought. The dirty work was done, he had fulfilled his duty. Surely they wouldn't be too angry at him for having to pick up the wheelbarrow themselves.

    And then he was off, racing with a surprising amount of speed through the corridors to his own small living quarters. One quick shower, so that he wouldn't walk before the Archon smelling of rot.
    • Love Love x 3
    • Like Like x 2
  5. Barvelle

    War. War never changes. What was going on in Pegulis, that was change. Dragons scoring the earth, the skies parting only to tear the world asunder. These were the things of story-books, but like all things in legend, there is always some truth.

    Coul's steps swiftly took him from his private residence deep in the halls of Barvelle to the High Watch Tower. He gave off no sound as he marched the stairs and endless corridors. It had been years since he had been called away from retirement. His service to Pegulis would never end, however. His loyalty to the Archon was undying; she was the daughter he never had, from a family he could never see for himself. He was sure she was unaware of his sentiment, which was fine. He never voiced it, and probably never would.

    Reaching the pinnacle of the tower and the chambers from which the Archon had sent for him, Coul knocked heavily on the doors. He gave three knocks, waiting but for the permission to push open the heavy doors. Boreas kicked the air up at his feet as he stepped over the threshold, long robes flapping noisily as he walked into the Archon's chambers.

    The retired General was a tall man, broad in shoulder, and his confidence was apparent through his very stride. Every movement was calculated, including the soft, treading steps he took coming into the chamber. He had the gait of a warrior, limbs relaxed and balance put onto the balls of his feet. He wore loose robes of brown, white, and blue; cool, calming colours, and dust could be seen along the edge of his sleeves. He wore no weapon at his hip, but he was a man who hardly needed one.

    "I caught wind of your napping, young one," he said through a warm smile. Blue eyes regarded the Archon fondly, and wisps of brown and grey hairs scattered about his lined face as Boreas danced around the room, touching the Archon with a warm breeze. "Hardly the time to be dreaming, is it?"

    #5 Seiji, Apr 23, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2014
    • Like Like x 4

    φφφφφ ... υσιολογικλλλή κατάστασσσση ...

    ... ικλλλή κατάστασσσση ...

    φυσιολογι κατάστασσσση ...

    φυσιολογικλή καταση ...

    • Like Like x 5
    • Love Love x 2
  7. Under Fissura pass, lightblue Shh-chrunch. Flump.
    The sound of sliding and compacting snow was a familiar one to all citizens of Pegulis. A little too similar, perhaps, for those Pelugian warriors and scholars now trapped under several hundred tons of compacted snow in air pockets each about the size of a hovel. The food was running out. Those who had been too brave, stupid, or bravely stupid to realise the risks of digging under the mountain of ice around the air pocket had long-since been crushed like bugs beneath the heel of winter. the anguished cries of the slowly dying could be heard as unsettling moans through the ice.
    Shink. Ting. Ting, Ting, ting-ting-ting.

    A small silvery-sapphire marble, about two and a half inches in diameter fell in a lump of ice as it snapped from a stalactite, the frost shattering on the cavern floor and freeing the ball. It skipped along the icy stone past Ilsa and Castigarian where they sat, as if rolling downhill, though there didn't seem to be any slope to guide it.

    For the barest fraction of a second one might, If one were looking with intent upon the odd silvery-sapphire orb, have caught a glimpse in the strange, swirling shadows and lights inside the marble of a running quadruped creature, darting toward he edge of the sphere like a hamster in a ball, trying to escape.
    But in moments the illusion vanished.

    The sphere bounced down a small incline once, twice, and struck the rough stone of the cliff side of the air pocket.
    At least, it would have had something rather unlikely and very magically suspect not occurred.
    The stone went bing.
    Then there came a noise halfway between tearing paper and a crack of breakin
    g stone, and the strange orb passed through the stone, concentric circles of runes spreading out like ripples on water until they hit the edge of the corporeally-challenged boulder that had looked a moment earlier like any other in the rocky line-up.
  8. Castigarian - The Alcove, Cadetblue How many hours had it been? Since he'd been woken up by Ilsa, he had no idea; with no light other than by torch and having lost count on his own in his bout of unconsciousness, he hadn't the faintest and it bothered him. You never know how much you'll miss something until its gone...something his father had always told him, but only now was he truly understanding the meaning behind those words. He couldn't dwell on it though, the thought of a slow, freezing death in a pocket of air on the side of a mountain, without hope everything would truly be lost and he wasn't about to give up his hope, so he busied himself in wrapping the dead. Ilsa had joined him in the task and as he went about his tasks, he wondered how the young woman was taking all of this. While none of this was her fault, she had rallied these men and women to arms, had lead them to Fissura Pass...would she be able to accept that the danger had been out of her control, or was she mentally blaming herself? He couldn't tell, the woman had a face harder than any steel he'd ever come across, but he worried all the same...she looked to be carrying far too many burdens already for her to add this among them.

    With the last body wrapped, he pulled his drinking pouch out and held the ale out to Ilsa. He had plenty of booze and a week's worth of meat on him...but between everyone, that would last maybe two days tops and that meant not being stingy with what he had. " 'ere, y'look paler'an th'snow, this'll putta fire in ye." he said, leaning back against the stone wall behind him with a long sigh, "Ye'got any plans on gettin' outta this hole? Nah even ah got th'strength t'move all tha' snow..." It was definitely a worry on his mind, and the group most certainly didn't have the supplies to wait for a rescue party to come from Aldus...but as if the gods were answering his question, a stalactite broke from the ceiling and crashed to the floor harmlessly. Normally, this wouldn't have been anything Castigarian would have paid mind to, but his sharp eyes caught something unusual...a small silvery marble, no bigger than the palm of his hand bouncing out from the chunks of ice and rolling away. It seemed almost ethereal in nature, dancing shadows and lights bouncing around inside of it as it made its way across the alcove floor. Finally, it hit against a part of the wall at the back of the cave, normally what would have been the end of the marble's journey, but instead...the rock began to shimmer and shake as runes spread across it.

    The odd occurrence brought Castigarian to his feet as he looked from Ilsa to the faded outline of what used to be a large stone, the faintest ghost of a grin flitting across his face. "Guess we founda back door, eh? No way t'know where it goes...but 's better'an stayin' here an' freezein t'death."
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Jalidin Jalidin sat there staring into the flames of his midnight fire. He parted ways from Medwick and his group three nights past, now. He took them to their destination in the Chersonese and he gave him his map of the area as well as a parting gift. He was glad to be away from them. He didn't trust them and they didn't trust him. They exchanged cold hard looks to each other during the whole time spent together. Jalidin especially didn't like the old man since the incident in the Black City. "Old bastard." He mumble to the fire as it crackled.

    He pulled his cloak tighter on him and huddled closer to fire to fight off the bite of the chill from the wind. A light snow started to fall on him. He was just inside of the Pegulis border. Its been awhile since he was back in Pegulis and it felt good to be home. He was starting to feel a longing to be here like something was pulling him. He glanced over at Rayne sitting next to him hugging her knees like she was cold even though she couldn't feel cold night air. Aux were suppose to be the reflection of a person's soul. So perhaps in a sense she could feel the cold through him.

    He took a drink of fire whiskey which sent a sudden wave of warmness through out his body beating the chill out of his bones. Hearing the feint crunch of snow he gripped the hilt of his sword and scanned the surrounding darkness. He was still dangerously close to the Black City and brigands like to roam this area. No sooner than he stood up three figures in rusted chain mail and torn clothing stepped into the firelight. His Aux let out a slight gasp of surprise then flew and rested on his shoulder. She started to turn red as anger flooded through Jalidin.

    The one in front of him started to speak but was cut off when Jalidin charged at him pulling his sword free of its scabbard. He knew what they was going to say so no need to listen to the threats of brigands. The bandit blocked his attack and then swung one of his own. The snow topped hill was filled with sounds of steel beating against steel. He heard the other two attackers coming behind him so he kicked the guy in front of him in the chest knocking him down and quickly put his blade in the bandit's gut.

    He rolled to his left just in time to miss the blow that was aimed at his neck. Then he dodged another that was going for his hamstrings. The fight came to a temporary stop as the two remaining bandits stared at him. One tried to circle around him but Jalidin kept slowly backing up so that they stayed in a triangle formation. They saw that he was slowly retreating to his horse so they both charged at him. Jalidn had to go on the defensive. These two were much better than the first one they was wearing him down quick, he already suffered a few cuts on his arms and ribs. Jalidin could only think of one option to do if he wanted to survive the night.

    He used his Advent, Adrenaline Rush. Rayne started glowing real brightly and flew around him so fast she looked like a blur. He could the adrenaline surging through out his body and everything came into focus. Their attacks seemed slow and weak now. He quickly went on the offensive and dispatched of the two bandits right before his minute was up. Rayne slowed down and quit glowing so brightly. The whole world seemed dull now, it always did after he used that Advent. He looked over at his Aux and said. "Looks like we ain't getting no rest tonight. We'll head on North lest there be more to come visit us tonight." He quickly gather up his few belongings and jumped on his horse and headed north leaving the bodies of the brigands to rot in the snow.

  10. Ilsa Lisbon ― The Alcoves of Fissura Pass, Indigo
    Ilsa silently helped to wrap the bodies, her eyes hollow and distant. Her fatigued body moved sluggishly in the process as she trudged through the icy snow. In stark contrast, her mind raced. The thoughts and images of the encounter with the ice golem flooded through her head.

    "Everyone get to safety!" she shouted, the rumbling of the incoming avalanche growing ever closer. In a panic, the rest of the caravan scrambled to get away from it; Ilsa stopped and turned to face it. The lives of the men and women of Aldus were at stake, and they were her responsibility.

    "Pax, together!" Ilsa commanded, prompting a cry from her Aux as the falcon swooped in, disappearing into Ilsa's body as her eyes flashed in the onset of an Advent. Ilsa's voice roared in defiance of the torrential snow as a translucent spherical barrier exploded out from within her, forcing the incoming avalanche around its circumference, and, Ilsa hoped, away from the rest of the caravan to give them a little more time to escape. Little could she have suspected that the snow spraying around her would have helped to create the same alcove where they were now entombed, awaiting death. Her very action of trying to save them is what would deliver them to their icy graves. As her Advent wore away and the barrier finally gave way to the continuing onslaught of snow, Ilsa's surroundings went white as she was swept away. Then, black.

    She came to in the alcove, much to her own surprise. Ilsa had expected to die; in some ways, looking back, she might have preferred it.

    "Ca-- Captain..." came a weak voice. It was familiar, but so twisted with pain that even Ilsa almost didn't recognize it as one of her own. She quickly matched the voice to the face when her vision finally came back into focus, gaze settling on the body of a man laying nearby. She scrambled to get up off the ground, but dizziness and fatigue forced her back down onto her hands and knees as she crawled to the man. Ilsa almost asked him if he was alright; when she got to him, she already knew the answer. A spreading crimson seeped through the snow around him. Taye had been positioned in the vanguard, and was one of the first to be attacked by the ice golem. His injuries in conjunction with the avalanche were proving to be too overwhelming; he needed a healer, but nobody else was conscious yet.

    Or Ilsa could use her Advent, to help close his wounds and speed his healing process. Her eyes darted around before locating Pax sitting in a daze off in the corner of the alcove. "Pax, togeth--" her voice trailed off. She had already used her Advent. Pax's eyes met Ilsa's in sorrowful understanding. They were going to have to watch Taye die. Ilsa, wide-eyed, looked towards Taye, searching for the right words to apologize.

    "D-Don't be sorry..." Taye insisted, as if able to intuit Ilsa's emotions. "I have lived to protect, knowing that this day might come. Now that it's here... I accept my fate."


    She was shaken from the memory by the red-haired man offering her the ale. For a moment, she considered the idea, but alcohol wasn't going to solve any problems in the moment. Ilsa waved her hand dismissively without a word, and the man withdrew the ale and took a swig himself. Eyes cloudy with emotion, she stared down at Taye's Aldus Watch mirror pendant in her hands. She wrestled with the notion that she'd effectively led these people to their deaths; less than a third of the original caravan remained.

    Focused on what she would say to Taye's fiancee if/when she ever managed to return the pendant, Ilsa hardly even noticed the marble rolling past. Castigarian's comment shook her out of her concentration, though, as she stood up and approached the passage he had mentioned.
    #10 fatalrendezvous, Apr 24, 2014
    Last edited: May 2, 2014
    • Like Like x 4
    • Love Love x 1
  11. Castigarian - The Alcoves of Fissura Pass, Cadetblue Following Ilsa, Castigarian focused himself as the two approached the false wall that had seemingly blocked their path only a moment before. A thousand questions rattled around his head as he stared at the semi-transparent stone; what was this doing here of all places? Why would someone go through such elaborate lengths to hide a hole in the wall? What was beyond it that was so worth hiding?

    He didn't have much an understanding of magic as a whole, he would admit that much outright, but what he did know was that it wasn't something that someone could go throwing around for no reason. As he got closer, he looked to the runes now floating and shimmering in the air, noting that even though they only seemed to be comprised of some form of energy, that they had the qualities of something that had been etched into rock...quite fitting when he thought about it. He brought his face to within an inch of one of them, not that he could read or decipher what it said, but he wanted to see just how worn it was.

    "Theese runes're old. Mebbe even older'an mah granda...there's almost no depth to'em, pretty worn flat. If yer askin' me...theese are aht least over five-hundred years old, prolly more."
    he muttered to himself as he brought a hand up to what should have been a wall.

    As he expected, his hand passed right through, and with nothing left to lose, he pushed his head through to the other side as well. It was dark from what he could see...darker than any abyss he'd ever looked into, but there definitely seemed to be a path leading into the mountain itself. He looked down and finally found that small, silvery marble that had started all of this as he reached down and picked it up. It felt cold and metallic in his hands like any metal should have, but it almost felt like it was...pulsating; very faintly, but if he focused, it was almost as if the object had some sort of heartbeat to it.

    He sighed and shook his head as he pocketed the object in one of his pouches and pulled himself back through to the side he'd started on as he crossed his arms and gave Ilsa a mildly contemplative look, "Well, there's 'finitely a path down'ere, t'ough'ere ain't no way t'know how far it goes. W'as t'call from'ere? Should we take t'chance on it y'think?"
    • Like Like x 3
  12. Aldus - Azareth Searching

    There had been plenty of people to stay at the Rusty Tankard before. It was a convenient little bar, not too far from the entrance of Aldus, not to far from the city within. Right on that merry little border between a short walk into the hustle and bustle of things and on the outskirts of the great city all together. A gang of people came of all shapes, sizes and occupations to partake in the pleasantries that were within. Soldiers, scholars, avian, the occasional draken - all were welcomed so long as they had the coin to pay for their stay. You could eat, drink, laugh and play as much as you liked within reason. It wasn't a stately pub, kept up to the highest degree of cleanliness and presentation, nor was it a place for the drunken fools of the world to come into and raise hell. At the Rusty Tankard, a certain degree of order was kept up not just by the owner but by the patrons as well. No one wanted to see this perfectly good and orderly establishment fall to a bad reputation. It was a peaceful bar, and most people liked it that way.

    So why then was the bar keeper getting these feelings of apprehension and unease when he looked at his latest patron? Three days had passed since his arrival, and not once had he heard him spoke since his first night there. Not a word of thanks or a request, not for food or drink. Everyday he had been there, early in the morning when the bar was still closed and the customers had all gone home, the owner of this pleasant establishment would wake from his slumber, only to see or hear signs of this cloaked man leaving. Every night he would come back, a book or two or a scroll in his arms, and head straight back to his room without talking to anyone. It was nothing specifically that set the bar owner's teeth on edge, but it was him as a whole. Why was it that he never took off his cloak? Why were there bandages covering his head? Could he even breath properly with that on? And those eyes... unblinking, unmoving, black ornamental eyes and seems to look and see everything. What was it that made this man so... unsettling?

    The owner was but a simple human being, whose talents were in catering others. Even his Aux, a small ethereal sampling glass, was only used when having a patron sample a drink they hadn't tried before or refilling someone's mug. He had no special talents outside of his services and he was no where near the intellect of a scholar. He was no one special and he liked it that way. Yet he could sense that in this mysterious masked man something was wrong on a fundamental level. Two days past, when news of the Caravan's attack had reached the walls of Aldus it had spread like wildfire. It was all anyone was talking about who wasn't absorbed in their studies or duties. Rumors spreading about golems and sages, dragons and even the Gods, long since dead rang out in the Rust Tankard at night while outside people scrambled together to try and organize a search and rescue party to go after them. Precautions had to be taken though, and so even three days after the incident no obvious actions had been taken to the bar keeper's knowledge. The whole city was in an uproar about it - almost a hundred men and women were in that caravan, among them Ilsa, the captain of the city guard. You would think that every soul in Aldus wept for the aparent misfortune. And yet...

    There was nothing coming from him. That masked man, whose name was still unknown to him and whose schedule seemed like clockwork day in and day out, was entirely un-phased. Even those not from Pegulis, the travelers and messengers from Travak and Bravelle who were only visiting extended their courtesy and best wishes towards those who were grieving and hoping for the safe return or peaceful death of those caught in the avalanche. Even foreigners would have felt some sort of interest towards the subject and socialized among the gossip. He did nothing, as if his ears were deaf to all the world but himself.

    During his second day there, a patron had tried to engage the man. An avian scout and a regular to the Rusty Tankard, he had returned from the sight of the avalanche and reported what needed to be to who needed to hear it. he had been shaken up by it and was sat at a table with two of his friends. All of them were sharing a drink together, talking about the accident. That was when he arrived. Stepping into the pub with his staff in his hand as it always was and a couple of books under his arm over his cloak (And that was another thing, he never seemed to take his arms out from under that black cloak. Why was that..?), he made his way towards the back of the tavern. The avian, looking up and seeing this man, held out his arm to stop his forward march. He asked only if there had been any more word about the incident and was met with a simple turn of the head. A few moments passed in silence and then the masked man walked on, heading into the room he had paid for and closing the door quietly. The avian stood up promptly after and headed out of the bar, followed closely by his two friends who paid for all of their drinks.

    Now, on the morning of the third day, the bar tender stood behind the bar and was preparing for the early morning crowd. No one drank at this time of day, but some came in and bought food every now and then. He had gotten up a bit before his masked guest and so was privy to his walking out from the back room. The bar tender raised his eyes to look at the man as he made his way across the bar - one step, two step, staff - and then a sudden feeling rushed over him. For the briefest of moments, he thought, could have sworn, that someone was whispering in his ear with their hand on his left shoulder. Startled, the bar tender gasped and turned his head to look only to find nothing there. His heart was racing and his skin felt cold. The sound of that voice in his ear, the touch of their hand, it felt so real. What was it? What had he heard? He tried to think on it, but could only hear inane babble in his mind. The door to the bar closed, forcing his attention towards it. The masked man was gone, and he was alone in the bar. Left to think, to wonder, and to behold the very bare dregs of an obsession creeping into his mind...

    Aldus had been busy these past three days. People near and far were all in a bustle about the accident that had happened just three days before. A caravan of nearly a hundred people had been attacked by something - some said ice golems, some said dragons, others whispered of a "ghoul sage" - and left under tons of ice and snow. An avalanche, not even a full days' journey away from the city. The streets were throbbing with guards and officials, people rushing here and there, relaying this and that, words spoken not with the tongue but with ink passing from one hand to another. Orders, direction, ideas, suggestions all from one ear to another as the city hummed with the residual cry "What can we do to save them?" Azareth, in the midst of all of this, ignored the woes and fears of the masses.

    It wasn't that he did not care for the fate of the caravan, which he did not, it was entirely that the noise was distracting him from his duties. That's all that this was to him, a distraction. They had their worries, and he had his. So he walked out of the Rusty Tankard, where he had been lodging himself since before the start of all of this ruckus, and closed the door, stepped out onto the street and made a hard right, heading inwards to the city. The sun was just beginning to rise up over the wall far to the East and there were plenty of people alive and awake at this hour. The majority of them were concerned about the fate of those unfortunate enough to meet the bite of the ice, though some of them were still preoccupied with their own matters. Azareth's agenda was completely and entirely different from all of them.

    6,439 steps. That was how many movements of his feet he had to make from the door of the Rusty Tankard to his destination. Six thousand, four hundred and thirty nine paces from further ignorance to possible enlightenment, though he feared that he would have to change the location before long. Azareth was running out of material to read, and he feared that he would need to find somewhere else to go for his studies before long. And just where was Azareth studying? A small shop of oddities and histories, an antique store to those who did not know the full worth of the articles inside. There, Azareth was searching for that which he may know more on his mission. A Way's Away the shop was called, located somewhere towards the edge of the center of the city where the majority of business and study to place. Azareth suspected that it was a shop that did not get much attention, and that is why he chose it first.

    Six thousand, four hundred and thirty nine paces; he covered that span in perhaps half an hour's time. Avoiding this person and that, making sure not to touch anyone that he came across. It was only a small walk away, but in a city this large it was impossible not to run into someone along your way even in the early hours of the morning. The days were warm despite all of the snow and ice that surrounded the northern country, not that those trapped under the ice would know. The traveling scholar was pleased by that at least. He did not enjoy the cold, not in the slightest, so any warmth that came from the sun was welcomed.

    Over six thousand steps diminished into five thousand, then four thousand and three. He counted each one on his way to A Way's Away until finally he arrived at the door. A single step up to it, Azareth climbed the solitary stair and opened the door. the hinges creaked and complained at the entry, alerting the old woman who mined the shop to the coming of a customer. She sat surrounded by candles on top of a large, puffy yellow pillow. A small totem was between her gnarled fingers and a polishing rag was cupped in her fist. Her wrinkled visage betrayed her age but not her youth. She looked up as Azareth entered her shop, her left eye white and bulbous, blind in comparisons to the clear blue right eye. She gave no form of greeting tot he masked man as he entered, and if anything intensified her glowering at him. She, like the owner of the Rusty Tankard, could feel there was something deeply wrong with this man. Unlike he though, she was gifted with magic in her own right. She could feel to her very being that there was something unsettled inside of the core to this masked traveler. Every day since the news of the avalanche had reached Aldus, he had come to her shop, searched for a while, picked a book or a scroll and left once he had paid for his items. It was a routine she had been expecting again today, and so knew just what to do.

    "Morning ma'am! It's another nice warm day out!" Azareth said cheerfully, his staff Mordran two thumps on the floor. His voice told of a bright, beaming smile beneath the bandages and his body seemed perfectly at ease. He always sounded like this, and it always made her smile. Long ago, in years gone by, she had known someone with a chipper disposition just like this man's and she couldn't help but grin at being reminded by it. "It is indeed," she said back, her cheeks rising in a smile herself. "Come to look at my wares again today?"

    "Yep! I can't get enough of 'em!" he said, turning to the left as he always did and walking on into the store. The old shop keeper giggled like a young girl, her voice not nearly as old sounding as her body would lead one to believe. "Well, take your time dear, and make sure to buy lots and lots from me!" she said back, giving the small totem in her fingers a wiggle for emphasis. Why was she telling him to take his time? She could sense something was off about him. For the past three days he had come, to read and to look with eyes unseen for hours and hours. She wanted nothing more than to have him leave her this instant! And yet... she wanted his company all the same. Exactly why was a mystery to her, but he seemed a pleasant enough fellow. He was always kind and polite, and his voice was so airy that she could just picture a pair of pinch-able cheeks held up by a wide grin under that clothe mask! He had made it clear before that he did not like the cold, so his covering his face wasn't really surprising to her. She even went out of her way to make her shop warmer when he was around, she almost felt compelled to. Despite all of these pleasantries and warm feelings she had, she couldn't shake the feeling of spiders moving along her sides when she was near him, nor could she ignore the warmth she felt for him. So what was an old shop keeper to do?

    "I will, don't you worry!" he called back to her, bringing his left hand out from under his black cloak and sticking it out along a book shelf. His hands, too, were bandaged, and he stuck out his index finger to place it gently against the books that were stacked on top of each other. "Now, where was I...?" he asked to himself quietly, his voice practically humming as he took slow steps forward, his head turned towards the books and his finger running over the dusty, some ancient, tomes. "Aha! Here it is!" he declared, pulling a book off of the shelf and letting gravity open it, his hand spreading out along the spine, cover and back of the book, opening it to a seemingly random page. He began to read, and the old shop keeper went back to her polishing, ignoring the spiders she was feeling and putting all of her focus on the task at hand, leaving her cheerful customer to shop uninhibited.

    #12 Navras, Apr 25, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2014
    • Like Like x 1
    • Love Love x 1
  13. M'VAE DON, blue he wind howled as it swirled through the forests outside Tarvak, the storm had come upon the lands four moons ago and had only let up, revealling a world now buried beneath an excessive dropping of snow. M'Vae's cabin had long been lost to the snow as had most of his furs, he had only been able to gather a smack pack together with furs to trade as he had been forced to carry his most valuable items with him while the storm destroyed his home. His weapons and tools of course took up most of his luggage, strapped to his waist, back, leg and anywhere else he had room to carry them. The snow was thick and soft, making travel particularly difficult even with his wide paws, M'Vae could barely manage to stay atop the snow as he was usually able to do so. The cries of the great wolves out on the hunt echoed through the air and with each additional cry, the volume grew alerting M'Vae that perhaps he might be their prey.

    Lowering a paw to his waist, the muscles in his hand became tense, pushing the long sharp claws out from under his thick fur, a low growl escaping from his throat. Though the forest was dark, his eyesight wasn't hindered in the slightest, the low light in some ways helped his vision and he certainly was enjoying the low risk of snow blindness. A nearby bark followed by an anxious growl alerted M'Vae to the fact the wolves were gaining ground on him. No doubt the storm had drove the elk and moose from the area and buried the hares, food would be hard for both of them to find but it would be the anima living to have a meal tonight, not the animals.

    A snarl echoed through across the field of white and with the trees almost entirely buried it was fairly easy for M'Vae to spot the first charging mass of grey and black fur. The beast set upon him, rearing up as it jumped through the air, the wolf was easily as large as M'Vae himself, perhaps even larger. Godric flew to his hand as he gripped the ax just beneath the head, swinging the long handle through the air hard as he delivered a quick up blow to the wolf knocking it aside. Quickly raising the ax above his head, M'Vae loosened his grip as he slid the handle through his hand, quickly grasping the base of the hilt with his free hand before swinging the ax down hard, splattering blood across the fresh blanket of snow. The wolf's severed head rolled twice, it's tongue hanging out in some demented grin before it sunk beneath the powdery surface.

    Feeling a slight tinge of regret at having to kill without a means to take the fur, M'Vae was caught off guard as another wolf launched from behind a tree, it's claws raking through the layers of roughly stitched leather before breaching both fur and skin. Sinking down to a knee in pain, while struggling to support the weight in the collapsing snow, M'Vae roared out in pain as the wolf's teeth sunk into his shoulder. Godrice slipped from his hand, falling into the snow as the sabertoothed anima threw himself to the side, rolling as he fought to get the hungry beast off his back. Struggling for a knife, M'Vae sighed in relief briefly as one managed to come loose and swung wildy over his shoulder, pushing harder with every resistence he met until finally the wolf yelped as its jaws released. Pushing aside the pain, M'Vae tackled the beast into the snow, gripping it with his own claws, digging the knife into its ribcage before he brought his powerful jaws down on the beast's throat. The warm blood seeped into his mouth, flooding his taste buds as the struggling create let out one fait whimper, its life fading into the night. Pushing the animal away, M'Vae wiped the blood from his chin, picking up snow and shoving it in his mouth before spitting the dyed water out.

    Groaning in pain as he struggled to stand in the soft snow, M'Vae swung his hands through the thick blanket rapidly as he sought to find the location of his ax. A sharp blade suddely ripped through his hand, realising a growl of surprise and agony as he moved the bloody paw to the hilt and retrieved the ax. Letting out a deep breath as the cold wind ripped into his wounds, M'Vae looked around him, suddenly noticing the faint flickering lights of lanterns.

    "Tavark." M'vae sighed in relief as he moved towards the lights. Stumbling forward, he tucked his weapons back into their sheaths, despite knowing it was only a matter of time before the rest of the pack came looking for its lost scouts. Tripping on a buried tree, M'Vae fell forward, tumbling down the hill his body rapidly gaining speed as he lost track of which way was up before landing hard at the bottom. Crawling forward, he picked himself up, the lost of blood now playing with his head as his vision began to blur. Knowing he was getting closer, M'Vae pushed himself forward until his body finally quit beneath him. Falling to the ground, M'Vae eyes stayed open long enough to notice a great wooden gate and the face of human dressed in Tavark's colours.
    • Like Like x 2

  14. Trepidation, yep, that was the perfect word for this. Shardis had been looking for the right word for how she felt about what was going on now. Leaving the mountains, coming to this 'Black City' then the traveling to this 'Chersonese' place. It reminded her too much of her parents and their deaths and gave her the creeps. She tried to think of something else as she loped along beside the horses. Her mind kept circling back to her parents for some reason.

    'Mom, can I talk to you about something?' The young Shardis had asked.

    'Of course you can dear, what is it that's troubling you?' Her mother stopped washing the dishes and turned to her with a warm smile that quickly turned to concern as she noticed the balking teen fidgeting with her tail in the doorway. 'Come here sweetling, sit down beside your mother and tell her what the problem is.' Shardis almost ran from the room, she was always so quiet and terribly shy, her mother thought to herself. 'You know, talking about your troubles sometimes puts things in perspective and might just make it easier to deal with.'

    Sliding into the chair across from her mother, who had started wiping the already clean table again,
    'Well, I was thinking... I mean, well...' Just then her father called out from the study and her mother looked torn.

    'Oh dear! Can this wait a few minutes? I promise we will have some sweet cream and talk over this trouble you have as soon as I find out what your father needs, alright?' Shardis wasn't surprised by the distraction. Mother always dropped everything for father. She smiled faintly and nodded. 'I'm coming! Just hold your...'

    Shardis snapped out of the daydream and shook her head while making a soft growl to herself. Her mother never did come back. Her father, Remnay, had 'Made the Find of the Century!' as he had called it and mom got all excited and caught up... well, she had forgotten her daughter and her needs once again.

    That wasn't to say they were bad parents, they were just busy all-the-time and if Shardis hadn't have gotten into the family business, they probably would have never had anything to talk about, hell, she could have been a lamp or a door nob, at least that's how one teen-age daughter had felt at the time.

    The feeling of bugs in her fur came back again as she turned to look back and check on Medwick's progress on the path. That man was the key, she new it a long time ago and she still felt that way, only stronger now. It was part of the reason she cared for him. Not like a lover, but as a sister for a brother. She had watched him struggle so hard to absorb Remnay's wisdom not just his knowledge, which in it's self was quite vast. When she was with him it was like being with her father.

    Shardis stood up to adjust her pack and catch a bit of breath and in that moment Caoimhe came up along side of her asking if everything was alright. "I just have a bad feeling is all..."

    • Like Like x 5
  15. Clouds hung heavy in the sky shadows painting those on the far horizon with a storm's coat of arms. At least it was not only the steady stench that clung to the Black City's wall, but the foul weather as well. The last few days had been mercifully dry, if a bit chilly as a heavy wind rolled off of the distant mountains that marked what had been much of the group's home, and marked the kingdom that all were currently serving. If indirectly or unwillingly. But what was a bit of wind to those that had climbed through the very heart of those icy mountains. Caoimhe herself had held the frozen heart of a metal golem to her chest leaving her with enough frostbite that she lost the top part of her right ear. However any good survivor new that it was not the cold you had to really worry about, it was the moisture that crept through your clothes and froze you through to your bones.

    However there was something else that was starting to set the wild girl on edge, the flora that grew in thicker and thicker clusters in the lands they passed. There were plants that she had not seen for over ten summers, ones that she had to reach far back into her memory to recognize. And still there were others that she had never seen before. She could not say that she prided herself in being able to tell different plants apart and know which would kill and which would help, it was a skill that she had simply needed to survive. But here where the land was set on the median of the world there was much that she found she was missing. True she could make do, and had been for the last couple days, forging what plants she knew with certainty but she still did not like the sense of not knowing. Especially when it came to getting her next meal.

    To that end whenever she found a plant that was strange to her she would pause and draw her knife and cut either a branch or stem and stuffed it into her pack. And every time the group stopped she would sit near either Medwick or Glyph and pull out what she had gathered and ply them to see if they recognized what she had gathered. Sometimes she would even seek out Aerie, vaguely recalling that their bird friend had lived in one of the other lands before finding herself in Pegulis. Often names had to be repeated more than once, with Caoimhe repeating each one back with a thick tongued accent. The ones that were a mystery to all the group she tucked away in a side pouch on her bag, she doubted whether they would stay long enough with one who might know what they were, if their interactions with the man Jalidin were anything to go by.

    As they traveled Caoimhe found herself jumping about from one place to another. Sometimes she rode with main group other times she walked or ran, her feet carrying her everywhere from nearly the heart of the group to way out in front scouting about. As the sun started to wane she was once again on foot, moving along she noticed that Shardis had stopped. The look on the Anima's face was odd so she approached cautiously looking around as though searching for what concerned her ally.

    "You right?" She asked softly coming up alongside the big cat. At the answer Caoimhe inhaled deeply before letting the breath out through her nose with a huff. As she started walking again she could be seen slightly nodding her head, it did smell like a storm was brewing.
    • Like Like x 4
  16. Aerie - Chersonese, firebrick She wasn't nervous, she wasn't cold, and she certainly wasn't afraid. But there was a feeling that grew heavy in that small, sensitive spot between her shoulder blades where people most often first noted being watched, and it made Aerie deeply uncomfortable.

    Itchy, she decided. She was itchy. The Chersonese was new to her, but the patches of flora rapidly growing more frequent (and liable to kill someone) were, and as their group moved inexorably southward, Aerie found her mood souring. Which, in itself, wasn't surprising. But where normally she would turn this into assuredly charming games of cat-and-bird with the Anima, she chose, for the moment, to keep to herself, hanging behind the group for once, and perhaps even more impressively, walking behind the dray horses.

    She told herself this was because it was simply too windy, even after coming down from the mountains. She told herself she was still drying her wings from their time in the Black City spent nearly swimming to and fro. But she knew precisely what it was she looked for every time she cast her eyes toward the otherwise welcoming heavens.

    Trepidation? No. The cat could keep her 'trepidation', her half whispered words of warning. If it was a storm she was afraid of, Viridos would not be kind to her in the slightest.

    Aerie shivered and let the movement shudder down her wings until she traced little eddies in the dirt at her feet. She was itchy was all.

    But in someone else, it was entirely possibly 'itchy' might be named 'afraid'.

    • Like Like x 3
  17. Siris - Barvelle, purple
    It had taken Siris almost a week to reach Barvelle, but only hours after he arrived, news had spread of the Archon's predicament. He had been tempted to act, to find the culprit, but whoever they were, they obviously had the intelligence to carry out such an act, and thus had probably been smart enough to cover their tracks. So Siris had waited patiently, and kept himself occupied with pen and paper, tools he rarely used.

    And three days later, news spread of the Archon's awakening. And Siris remained patient. When the Archon needed him, she would call. And he knew she would call.

    Siris made his way through the tunnels of Barvelle, weaving in and out of crowds, heading straight to High Watch Tower. When he finally arrived, he bounded up stairs and rushed through halls, until he finally arrived at the Archon's chambers. He knocked and entered simultaneously.

    "Lady Archon!" A smile flashed across his face. "I'm glad to see your in good health." He then observed the others gathered in the Archon's chambers. What could be so important that she would need all of us?
  18. Ilsa Lisbon ― The Alcoves of Fissura Pass, Indigo
    Ilsa looked towards Castigarian, her own solemn face contrasting against his grin. How could he be so upbeat? Dozens of men and women, citizens of Aldus who were neighbors, friends, acquaintances... gone in a matter of moments. Swept away by the snow, many of them likely buried under it and never to be found - the snowy areas of Pegulis were too vast, the landscape too quickly changing. They couldn't even be given proper funerals, all but condemning their souls to eternal restlessness among the Wall of Ghosts in Aldus.

    With a heavy sigh, she put away her worries for the moment. The men and women remaining in the expedition would need her now more than ever, and she couldn't afford to spend that time moping. She could grieve later; escape would have to come first.

    Pushing herself to her feet, she approached the wall that the marble had sunk into earlier, eyeing the icy stones comprising the walls of the alcove that looked... remarkably, unmistakably normal. Identical to any of the other plain ice walls in the cavern. But it was the same wall she'd seen the small spherical object pass through earlier, and Castigarian had clearly seen the occurrence as well. Her eyes studied the runes that he had spoken of, but, knowing only very basic fundamentals of magic herself, Ilsa was unable to understand any of it either. But she did understand opportunity. And the opportunity for escape was sure to be better than waiting to rot in some alcove.

    Her gloved hand approached the wall, but instead of feeling the gritty scrape of ice and stone, her hand instead passed right through it. The illusion of the rock walls rippled around her hand, each ripple spreading towards the ceilings and floors of the alcove before dissipating. Steeling her nerves, she pushed through the illusionary wall and peered into what lied beyond. Her eyes seemed to betray her; beyond the wall was nothing but blackness - seemingly impossible considering there was at least some light in the alcove on the other side. But where her eyes failed, her senses heightened. She could feel an intimidating, consuming curiosity within that darkness. Something within wanted to be found, but whether it would yield benefit or peril was hard to discern.

    Stepping back into the alcove with the others, she called out to the remaining members of the group. "We need some able bodies to carry torches! There's a hidden path here."

    Some murmuring ensued. Scholars shuffled by to examine the wall as men sparked torches to light the way. Ilsa's eyes scanned across the group, wondering who might be familiar with the path - but most citizens of Aldus seldom had reason to leave. Her hazel eyes settled on Arcantos, the Draken who had brought the message to Aldus. "Arcantos. Is there any chance you might be familiar with these caverns? Perhaps you traversed them on your way into Aldus?"
    #18 fatalrendezvous, Apr 27, 2014
    Last edited: May 2, 2014
    • Like Like x 2
  19. Arcantos pushed up from the cavern wall and adjusted his back sheaths. Thermic gems glowed as the Draken shook his head.

    "Norssssigal Mountainssss were myyy people's hom'. Nev' this s'far eassst."

    He squeezed past the other survivors and stepped to the wall-section where Ilsa waited. One hand played through the illusion like it was water. His tongue slipped back and forth, pondering. "You shoulddd know, Cap'ain: I was prisssoner to the Gh'ul Sage f'nine weekssss, befffore Medwick's group saved me."

    The revelation brought silence in the space around them. The messenger's eyes were distant. "Four of ussss. In a tower of ice. I knew th' otherssss only byy their voicesss. The Gh'ul Sage kept them in deeper cellssss. Weekk by weekk, their voicess s'fell quiettt. Turnedd to Golems, like th' one out thhhere."

    The Draken stepped beyond the veil, feeling his way through a passage carved in ice. Isla went with him, then Castigarian and the other torch-bearers. A single file into the chilling depths. And as they moved the Draken unburdened himself of heavy thoughts.

    "Th' Gh'ul Sage came and went. In flassshesss of light, lik the day when he capptured me. But he said nothinggg. And timesss I see him, step through wallssss, fade to ice, like thissss passssage now."

    He drew one blade from its sheath and the curved sword caught in torch-light as he stooped. "Magiccc s'here. Old magiccc. Gh'ul Sage magicccc."

    The sloping tunnel opened up, and as the search party fanned out they felt snowflakes, disturbed by the avalanche, dropping softly on their faces. The chamber was a massive one. Torchlight found aid from sunbeams cutting through inch-wide crevasses in the ceiling. It painted details of stone and ice. The latter old; the former older.

    They were not the first to walk here.


    * * * * *​

    Medwick held the reins loosely. The horse would go where it willed, and he had long given up trying to harangue it. In his upturned palm he stroked one finger over a thermic gem. An incantation was muttered. The gem's magic faded. Now that they had crossed the border and plunged deep into the grasslands of the Chersonese, his group had lost the greater part of what focussed their minds - that ever-present need to stay warm. Now their thoughts were drifting... fears and futures looming like the storm clouds behind them.

    For Medwick, his memories wandered to Arcantos. He wondered how his companion was faring now, with only thermic gems to warm him. Perhaps he worried in vain. Arcantous was strong. Only a Draken could have survived captivity in the Untoward Tower. That citadel of ice, where they had first encountered the Ghoul Sage, had been the grave of three innocents - men and women torn apart and rebuilt into Golems. But Arcantos had lived, and with Medwick pieced together what little they knew of the White Wizard.

    It was why he had sent Arcantos back. A messenger. A herald. A living witness to the atrocities of the Ghoul Sage.

    He hoped his companion was well.

    It had been four days since the ranger, Jaladin, led their horses to the Kerniole River, a rushing stream that, for many, marked the definitive border between Pegulis and the Chersonese. The bandits of the Black City had been looming, of course, their shadows silhouette on the horizon, their tracks and campfires left like trophies. But Jaladin had kept them to lesser paths, and a perilous detour through the Greygax Swamps had brought them within sight of the river. He had been true to his word. The range had spared Medwick's people from discovery, and the border had been crossed with only the toll of a few coins.

    Now were moving through grass fields, into pleasant summer that warmed the fertile crescent where the--


    Medwick almost fell from his saddle, and his horse almost bolted. The mage sat back and wiped his nose on his sleeve. "Uuurgh!" The sneeze brought redness to his eyes, which promptly watered. He sniffed and steadied his horse.

    "Do we have to be this close to Viridos?" he shouted to Glyph, whose mule sauntered on up ahead. "This much nature is bad for your health!"
    • Like Like x 4
    • Love Love x 2
    • Thank Thank x 1
  20. Castigarian - Outside the Ruins, Cadetblue To some, his upbeat change in demeanor might have seemed callous, maybe even slightly disrespectful, but there was a reason to his grin. Only moments before the entire caravan had been resigned to the fate that had befallen a good number of those on the pass above and now they had the most elusive of gifts held before them, hope. When there was time to grieve, Castigarian would grieve and give a prayer that the souls lost would find their peace...but right now he needed to pull himself together, if not for himself, than for the people around him. If he allowed the sadness to take hold of him, then that would be yet another person slowing down the caravan when they needed wind in their sails the most...if he could convince even one person here that there was a light at the end of the tunnel and that they'd eventually see the open sky above once more, then that was one more person willing to push towards that end.

    With a torch handed to him, Castigarian nodded and set forth beyond the wall, listening all the while to Arcantos as he spoke. He hadn't known this poor soul had been a captive of the Ghoul Sage...and it didn't seem like he had anything more to go on than they did for all he'd went through. He would have sympathized, but the sudden sight of the massive ruins stretching out before him took the words right out of his mouth; in all his days he'd never seen anything quite like it. Statues and obelisks rose tall above the caravan, their features sharpened by the thin wisps of sunlight that were forcing their way in from the cracked roof was a massive chamber to be sure, but it meant that the surface couldn't be all that far away from where they were currently, a good sign and definitely a boost to Castigarian's morale.

    What bothered him though, was the fact that Arcantos felt magic in the air...he'd be the first to admit that he had only the bare basic knowledge of magic, but that didn't mean he couldn't feel the charged tension in the room; it was enough to set him on an edge thinner than one of his arrow points.

    "If this place 's as old as ye say, how could t'magic 'ere be s'thick in t'air?" he said with an uneasy tone, drawing his bow from around his chest and grabbing an arrow to hold in his free hand. He didn't feel particularly threatened right now, but just knowing he was armed gave him some peace of mind. Something here just wasn't right, he couldn't put his finger on it, but he'd bet his beard that there was something down here that was hidden for a reason.
    • Like Like x 3
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.