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CLOSED Roses and Stars

Discussion in 'RONAAN'S REALM' started by rissa, Jan 31, 2017.

  1. Iskaya Skarrat and Bellamy: BabysitterAnd We're Not Talking Just Alora Now


    a collab between @Elle Joyner, @rissa, and @Doctor Jax

    Bellamy had asked Iskaya to secure the wagon while he and Alora were escorted to their room. But that was nearly an hour ago… Cargo was stored on a large, open-aired section of the raft with anchors for horses, carriages, and the like to be steadied during the travel.

    The night sky was riddled with constellations and the bright light of the moon. It wasn’t full, perhaps a week away, but it filled the darkness with silvery light. The river was more music than noise as the raft floated swiftly upon it. A few faint voices could be heard from the small crowd of people near the braziers. No doubt warming themselves as they hadn’t had enough orks to buy a room. But three figures, hidden by shadows, lurked up and down the rows of carriages, horses, and goods, searching… searching for something.

    Outside, Skaya rolled her shoulders. It had taken longer than she'd anticipated to harness the horses and cart, what with the extra burden on board. The horses snorted quietly while Iskaya finally put down the last tie.

    But there was something that was tugging at the edge of her intuition, a feeling that there was something not quite right. She had always considered her gut instinct to be her strongest asset, and she was not like to ignore it. The Ka'Lene looked around, the cargo area. Fire flickered around poor souls who'd not had the money for board. In between the carriages, though, she could see small figures, shadowy and hunched.

    Her eyes narrowed and she padded along the carriages, keeping one row behind a dark figure. Quietly, she slipped down and hung from the axle of the carriage.

    She wasn't about to risk that their prize was about to be stolen, but perhaps discretion was best practiced first.

    The two figures continued to creep slowly, hunched deep in the shadows. Their destination was obvious: they crept towards the board house. But they soon fell short. Before the cover of wagons and goods gave way to the only entrance into the board rooms, the two figures halted their approach. One let out a frustrated grunt and it led way to a murmuring exchange.

    At the entrance, a single man stood, framed by the outline of the door which had been fastened with endless light crystals. The murmuring grew an octave and the guard cocked a brow. The two figures were oddly adept at shielding themselves from sight, but…

    “Reveal yourselves.” The guard said calmly, not moving from the door.

    Skaya meanwhile held her breath as the two figures stopped just before the board house. She had managed to creep alongside, using the undersides of carriages as convenient cover, but alas their voices were too muffled to hear.

    Then, the guard saw them, and he called out for them to reveal themselves. Skaya winced. If anyone were to do something drastic, now would be the time. She decided to take a gamble.

    Skaya dropped from the axle and silently walked from her wagon.

    "Ho," she said. " 'Pologies. Had to make sure my wagon were secure."

    She put herself between the sneaking figures and the guard. If they were to attack now, they risked two people against them openly, rather than just one. That may give them pause if their intentions were less than friendly.

    The guard eyed the Ka’Lene with suspicion before giving her a small dip of his head. Recognizing her face once the endless light illuminated it. She was in Bellamy’s circle, a feat in of itself and so he took a single step forward and offered her the door with a flick of his arm. He was swarthy in complexion, though his dark amber skin marked him of Lorasean descent. The door opened on it’s own accord as it registered his command.

    As it did, the two figures burst from their hiding spot, ripples of half-contained illusion magic concealing their true forms. Nonetheless, the figures were short and squat and they giggled as they’re wispy bubble-like mass shot through the short space between the carriages, Iskaya, and the guard. But what they didn’t expect of course, was the silvery shield that protected the entryway and the resulting reverberating shake it gave the whole raft.

    When the wispy mass hit the silver shield the magic broke and sent the two figures flying backwards. By way of endless light the two figures were revealed: not much more than children, halfbreeds the both of them, and sporting humorously shocked faces. The pair glanced around, one wary, the other enthralled despite the fact they were identical in appearance.

    “Skaya?” One of them asked in confusion, rubbing the back of his head. “Is that you? Where’s Bell? We were tryin’ to get to Bell! Where is he?”

    “You know these two?” The Guard asked with a small frown.

    Skaya had drawn her bent-knife the moment she'd heard the pitter-patter of feet edge in past her. Just as she'd turned to face her attackers, the two struck a shield that surrounded the boardhouse -- perhaps sensing their need to intrude, though Skaya wouldn't know, she wasn't magically-inclined -- and she took the moment to advanced.

    Of course, that was until she saw the faces of the two who'd tried to get in. The halfbreed kids had faces younger than morning dew, and Skaya bit down a nasty word. She sighed and rolled her shoulders as she stood up, stowing away her knife.

    "Yes, I know them. Unfortunately," Skaya stated scathingly.

    Why did it have to be children?

    "Tre, Iam, what are you doing here? I should skin you," Iskaya said, though her words had no real bite. She'd threatened to hang the hides of both the twins enough that they probably took it as a sign of endearment. "I won't be tellin' you were Bells is till you say."

    "But-" Tre began.

    "We were sent!" Iam finished for his brother.

    "Yeah, by Master-- Oof, Iam what the hell!"

    "He told us not to say anything!"

    "Yeah but Bells is gunna' tell her anyways."

    The silver shield melted away the moment Bellamy neared and curious, lip still bleeding, he took in the sight before him. The Marbalean twins were a surprise, though one he should have expected. He sighed deep, pulled two copper orks from his money pouch and handed them to Marvah, the Entry Guardian.

    The man accepted the coin, but shook his head sadly. "The Baron doesn't allow--"

    "I know," Bellamy said with a sigh. "Here--" He pulled out four more coins and nodded both the twins and Iskaya through the entry. "May the Three Sisters bless us." Bellamy replied solemnly before escorting them back to their boardroom.

    With the same small key, Bell unlocked the door and hurriedly pushed them inside. The last thing he needed was the Baron to come out and catch them breaking his rules...

    He was too tired to swim.

    Skaya only raised an eyebrow at Bellamy's split lip as she was led -- along with the twins -- towards their rooms in the boardhouse.

    "We have rugrats accompanying us. They'll keep you company," Skaya said with a withering look to either of the twins, who no doubt cringed under her stare. She had made it abundantly clear in the past that while she would tolerate children, she by no means would be their keeper, and she expected them to behave.

    She looked over to Bells with carefully hooded eyes.

    "I want to talk," she stated simply, nodding her head towards the door.

     
    #21 Doctor Jax, May 11, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: May 11, 2017
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  2. Kydris

    Breakfast had been less than typical for Kydris: as it happened, Garek wasn't much of a talker. Despite the good company of Thrall, the Roanite often found himself trying to include his brusque employer to little avail. After some time, it even seemed like the barmaids were avoiding there table, which was a far-cry from the jovial attitude he had come to expect from the servers at Kara's. It wasn't his first choice for a traveler's brunch, but it had a nice atmosphere and decent food nonetheless.

    Kydris himself had always fancied a lamb dish of theirs: a fine roasted shank over a bed of mashed potatoes and gravy. It was a tad expensive for a typical breakfast of his, but then again nothing about the day had turned out to be typical. If there was one thing the young elf was happy to have long ago disposed of, it was table-side manner. With his bare hands, he made a fine mess of his whole meal, and even after they departed from Kara's, he made sure to take the shank bone with him.

    For a good deal of time after they had set back out, Kydris occupied himself by gnawing feverishly on the hefty bone. In a short time, a good deal of grease and char stained both of his cheeks not dis-similarly from how infants often smear their food. Kydris fancied himself something of a carnivore, and he'd be damned before he'd let good marrow go to waste. It was only a bonus if his behavior drew enough stares to make the stranger uncomfortable.

    It wasn't long before they reached the skyport. It appeared his guide had not been lying in regards to the ship--the customs officers barely stopped him from walking right through. Kydris kept his head low as they passed, his eyes alert for any guards he may have had a run-in with in the past. It wasn't long before Kydris began to feel comfortable and--just as he started to relax--he heard another voice.

    “Passengers of yours, Ruehar?”

    Kydris didn't need to look at his face--he recognized the voice well enough. Afterall, it wasn't the first time the spry elf had been to the skybarges, though it was the first time he had been back since he arrived in Lyf. Kydris kept well behind his captor, taking note that Daaryn had referred to the man as Ruehar.

    A name. Finally.

    “Precisely, Daaryn.” the stranger replied. Kydris silently thanked the gods that he looked a good deal different to when he had arrived. He was sure the food stains only helped in that regard. “Let’s go, my skybarge is over here.” Ruehar's voice penetrated the elf's thoughts and drew his attention upward. If nothing else, Kydris was impressed with the craft. He always did admire skybarges, but to be so close to one again was daunting. The elf absentmindedly rubbed the small scar underneath his eye as he approached, his customary smile traded for a look of malcontent.

    Ruehar gestured towards a rope ladder, before making some comment or the other about riding with the wares. Kydris's mind was elsewhere though, and it wasn't until Thrall cut in that the Roanite's jovial attitude returned to him again.

    "Kydris." The Lecyrian's voice seemed troubled. Kydris noticed the apprehension in his friend's eyes. He might've suspected what came next, though he was loathe to hear is. "What's going on, bud." The Roanite attempted to clap the man's shoulder with one hand, though he couldn't reach it, and instead settled for the bicep. "It's just..." Thrall seemed to glance back over his shoulder--his eyes scanning the direction they had come from. "I'm startin' to think it ain't a good idea for me to be out this far after all." Kydris visibly deflated some. "You sure friend? We stand to make a pretty penny off this fellow if you don't." Kydris could see the longing in the Lecyrian's eyes, and he realized that it was no use--Thrall had made up his mind.

    "I ought to go back. 'Sides--you don't need me to lift a thing or two off that jerk anyway." It might've been true, though it was no less disheartening to the elf. Kydris nodded understandingly. Travel meant the possibility that they weren't coming home for some time. He had thrown one life away, and though he didn't regret it himself, he knew it to be a difficult thing. He suspected his friend knew the same. "Alright. Goodbye Thrall. If this pans out, I'll be buying out your pork-chops for a week." The Lecyrian clapped him on the head, and--while Ruehar was occupied with another dock-agent--disappeared back the way they had come.

    Kydris turned to the ladder, sighed under his breath, and set to scaling it. The elf was no stranger to a climb, and found himself scrambling up the footholds with as much vigor as one might expect of a child. It wasn't until he was about halfway up the ladder that he recognized a mounting feeling in his chest--excitement. He had enjoyed Lyf to be sure, so it surprised him to realize he was ready to be done with it--at least for the time being. When he reached the last rung, he turned his body outwards to get one last look at the rooftops of the port city. With his eyes he traced every edge and curve of the bustling township below. With a quick flourish, he saluted the city he had made a home out of, and climbed up and over the rail.

    When his feet found the hardwood, he realized he didn't know a damn thing about the ship, and wasn't likely to find his quarters on his own. He smirked, his eyes rolling as he realized that he would yet again have to put up with the Ruehar character's brusque kind of hospitality in but moments.

    Oh well. At least the view's can keep me occupied in the meantime...

    The elf turned back to face the ladder, and began to spin the lamb bone between the fingers of one hand, while he propped his chin up with the other. He considered trying to nail Ruehar in the head with it from that height, but he supposed the guide wouldn't appreciate it that much. The thought still made him smile.
     
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  3. TWO HALFLINGS DON'T EQUAL A WHOLE
    @Tyrannosaurus Rekt and @CloudyBlueDay and @Red Thunder

    Grin smiled wildly. “I appreciate yah takin’ care of Garek. I can only imagine that he’s quite keen on the long walk off a short plank.” He winked afterwards, crossing his arms over his chest. He went to say something else when he heard something. Right out the door. Usually, he wouldn’t think much of a ship groaning--especially not a sky barge. But this sounded downright forced. It was one thing to hear a ship groan and groan until it quieted, but it was another to hear a sharp escalation of noise and then a sudden quietness. Grin stared at Kas.

    “Aye, I think that Garek will be plenty fine with me,” Grin said, sliding away from his position and towards the door. “I mean, who wouldn’t want a halflin’ like meh? I can do things you tall folk can’t.” He had to lean up, but he grabbed the handle and turned, opening the door wildly. There before him was another halfling. Honestly he wanted to yell “ah-hah,” but instead he sucked air through his teeth. “It’s a halflin’,” he said. “I mean, Old Lady Moss, you’re a halflin. Wait. Shit. Are you wunna’ Gareks halflins’?”

    “Garek’s halflin’?!” The bit of panic Adrianna had felt at the sound of the door opening fled in terror before a wave of indignation. She straightened up, straining for every bit of height she could get. Garek’s halfling. Really. “I'll have yah know, Half Pint, that the ol’ cuss is only a boss of fortune. I'm fixin’ to part ways with him jes’ soon as I can.”

    She grumbled unhappily, if perhaps with a bit of force. Addy knew good and well what he meant; she wasn't so stupid as that. And as quickly as the panic had evaporated, her frustration disappeared even more so, replaced by curiosity.

    “But yeah, I'm a crew woman here. And who the devil are you? Ain't never seen your mug ‘round the tub before, and I'd’ve remembered your face.”

    “Take it easy,” Came the gruff, albeit shocked reply from Kas. Clearly the halfling had been eavesdropping on them at least somewhat, the presence of the halfling being revealed so suddenly had startled her. “I seen ya around before, yea? Been on the barge a couple a’ days. Adrianna? We’re just havin’ a conversation. Ain’t nothin’ to get bothered about.”

    Kas crossed her arms, glaring down at Adrianna. Despite her rather kind words, Kas looked unhappy with the intrusion. “Ya need anything? Somethin’ the matter?”

    “Quite,” Grin said. “Quite the conversation we be havin’. Look I’m not all about bein’ rough to another halflin’. More so, I’m interested in where you come from. Who your parents were. Ya’know possible relations we might share.” He placed his hands on his hips. “Unless we have none. Then that is a whole different conversation. Do you like the woods? Would yah like to visit my parents?” He smirked.”I am kiddin’. I am Kas’s guest. I’m not a stowaway. I belong here just like a crate of food or fineries does. I do improve the ship. You’re cute though. And I can be persuaded to act on those instincts if wanted” He looked back. “Sorry, Kas, m’love.”

    Addy’s face twisted in forced shock at Grin’s come on.

    “Eh, no. No ‘fence, but I jes’ met ya, an’ I don't make a habit of gittin’ frisky with strangers.” Well, not by a rule. This one sure was cute, though, in a rugged kind of way. But Kas was looking fairly perturbed at her presence, and she'd no intention of being on the shipwright’s bad side. “‘sides, I was jes’ strollin’ by. Happened to step on that darn hollerin’ board as I did, ‘sall.”

    Her arms crossed across her chest in unconscious defense, and curious eyes peered past them, trying to see into the room. They'd been talking; what about? And what had they been up to in that room? It'd gall her, not knowing, but no way they were about to merely tell her. Steal information like you steal possessions: circle in. Cid’s advice was always invaluable. Give a false assumption for them to refute. It isn't infallible, but a prideful person may fall for it. Kas might not be so, but it sure seemed as though the male halfling was. Running her fingers through her curls, Adrianna shrugged indifferently.

    “But y'all look like y'all’re busy with...something I'd rather not mention, prob’ly.” She laughed. “Treat ‘er well, er, you; weeks on the sea has prob’ly left our shipwright with a mighty need.”

    While Kas did like Grin a great lot, there were many times where she didn’t appreciate his flattery, especially when he threw it at anyone and everyone. Giving off a sigh, she rolled her eyes. Though Addy seemed not to indulge her fellow halfling, there was still something fishy about the way she had come across them. She’d practically hid herself inside the room. What for? Why was she so intent on snooping about her business?

    Adrianna played her actions off, but Kas refused to buy it. Her stance became fiercer, but she loomed over Adrianna either way. “So quick ta leave?” Kas said with a glare. “Ya sure ya need nothin’? Really. Garek should be back by now. Anythin’ ya needed to tell him, maybe?”

    Grin exhaled through his nose. Right. Well, at least halflings he’d never seen nor spoken to had the similar mindset as his village. He glanced back at Kas. She seemed more than annoyed. His lips thinned into a straight line. Maybe he shouldn’t have-- “Yah, like how’s there no one down here. Just Kas.” He crossed his arms over his chest. “Because it seems really strange that yah just show up in this darkened hallway and the like. Lurkin’. Look. I shan’t be an issue. I just have business with Kas here. And who are you to deprive her of her ‘mighty need’ as you said.” He raised his brows.

    He didn’t let any time from when said that, to further his words.”And that need is sweets. Nothin’ more. I’m a collector of interestin’ things. Perhaps you need somethin’?” Was this a bribe to stay quiet? Maybe.

    “I don't need nothin’, sugar, thanks.” Did she, though? For all her running around and seeing the world, Adrianna had yet to turn up even a hint of what had happened to her family. It was entirely possible that this...strange halfling might know something. But she'd only met him; she didn't even know his name. And Kas’ expression was steadily darkening. Addy had interrupted something, if in fact she hadn't discovered it entirely by accident, so it was best to just leave them to it. “An’ no, Kas, honey, ain't got nothin’ to tel Garek. Ol’ pissant can be in the dark about yee fella here, far as I care. I don't give a shiny rat’s a-”

    The door to the deck pushed open. It wasn't much, no more than a few inches, but the hallway flooring wasn't the only thing that creaked. Adrianna glanced back, interrupted, only to see a rather perturbed looking form floating some five feet in the air. Rhi had a distinctly unhappy expression on her face, golden eyes narrow, and her hands rested on her hips. It might have been amusing, had Addy not received a warning before sneaking in. Yet the pixy’s cheeks darkened a bit in a blush; she'd clearly not meant to be found out.

    Adrianna! I just knew that you'd get yourself into trouble!

    The halfling scowled in reply. Obviously this little detour wasn't supposed to have taken that long.

    Though Kas had tried to keep her words sweet, she was running out of patience. Addy seemed to have ulterior motives, despite continuously insisting she did not. If she didn’t, why was she still standing here? Kas was just about to start asking her to leave when the door creaked back open.

    Alright. One intruder she could deal with. Intruder’s pixy? Nu-uh. That meant there was something damn well fishy going on, if the pixy was gonna barge in. Adrianna wanted something out of her and Grin, and Kas has no intentions of giving it.

    In two big steps she had advanced on Adrianna, pushing her back outside of the room entirely as Kas leaned against the doorway, entirely blocking the room off. “I’m so glad that ya don’t give a shiny rat’s ass. Truly. Now, if ya don’t mind, kindly, get the hell out.”

    Grin went to say something. It was supposed to be clever and smart, but he was interrupted by the door swinging open. Honestly, how many people were aboard this ship that were interested in a darkened hallway? Two too many. Yet, when his eyes laid on the form that crossed, his mouth became slack and dry.

    As Kas passed him, Grin backed up. He could feel his sinuses congest immediately, his eyes beginning to ache, and his fingers starting to shake. Why. Why a pixy? Did they know? Did they know what he did to Loc. No. That would be idiotic to assume. It was just that this guilt was a mantle he wore--always.

    “As Kas said,” Grin responded, yet his words were an echo of his previous bravado. “Get on with it.” Loc…

    “Yeah, sure. Ain't no thing.” Addy gave the other halfling a long look before shrugging. Here might have been a wink. “Jes’ the lookou’, doin’ my job. I'll skeddadle. You two play nice, ya hear?”

    Shoving her hands into her breeches pocket, she turned on her heel and made for the outside door.

    “C’mon, Rhi,” Adrianna muttered. “Seems we stepped on somethin’...intimate.”

    Chuckling, she walked through the door. The pixy followed, grumbling.

    ’We’? What ‘we’ are you talking about? I told you not to go, didn't I?

    They slipped through, the door latching with a click.
     
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  4. Sylorah, The Kalvisi Estate

    “Before we begin.” Amat said crisply, something in her tone suggesting she’d long memorized the words. “I am to ask you of your latest vision, Lore Kalvisi.”

    Amat hesitated before a look of defiance flashed in her eyes.

    “But I will tell you one thing… Noma has witnessed your Path and the salvation of those below. Your fate will be entwined with many others and she urges you to come to Sylorah. Not many outside the Synods know it’s location… But I’ve been sent to retrieve you, if of course, you decide to heed her call.”


    There came a pause after her words that cultivated a silence between them as Lore became lost in recalling his last vision. He had thought nothing of it, for the sensory details were flashes and felt of no import. Unimportant visions seemed to be his bane and his only divination as of late. Lore was almost embarrassed to share, eyes downcast as he gave a slight nod before speaking.

    "Blue eyes," he began, and ran a hand down his face before shrugging. "The scent of lavender. A bird's call. The color red." His voice trailed off at that with a dismissive shake of his head.

    “Why do you shake your head?” Amat wondered curiously. “I am not attuned to divination, but after a hundred years or so with Noma, I’ve come to learn that nothing, no matter how small, is insignificant.” She searched his face for a moment before continuing. “Open the letter, read what’s inside.”

    Lore wanted to protest against her words. How would she know the nature of Divination truly. But it was no matter to argue a point. He felt in his heart his vision was of no import, for why would such things be? And so instead his fingers trailed along the parchment to work open the seal.

    Reading the letter to himself, his brow furrowed at the words from Noma Scree.


    I know what you’ve seen. I’ve seen it too… just with better clarity. Join me, let us traverse into the Weave. This is no coincidence. He has chosen your Path and it leads you to me, to the priestesses of Oraheim. Come, Lore Kalvisi, I beg of you.

    As does the world.

    Noma Scree, Mistress of the Synod of Heretics

    "She..." His voice trailed off with uncertainty and hesitancy, and he looked up at Amat. "She is requesting my presence. But who is the priestess of Oraheim?"

    "She hasn't given me names." Amat replied with a hint of indignation. Guilt lit up her eyes and with a ruffle of her iridescent wings, curled them around herself.

    "The choice is yours Lore Kalvisi, as is the Sylphaerian way... But this is larger than you, larger than Mistress Noma. I hear her in her sleep, Lore, I hear her weep for the future, for those grounded, for us as a species. The growing darkness is unlike any Ykglenda has seen."

    True fear shone from her eyes, but so too did hope. Amat truly believed they had a chance at victory.

    "If you agree to come, we must leave shortly. A vibrant meal and off within three hours." Amat replied after a minute or so of silence. "And I do hope you have a comfortable flying belt."

    Amat's tone and demeanor was not lost on Lore. He shifted where he sat, head ever so slightly tilting in study of the woman as she spoke in such a formal and detached manner. His fingers folded the letter back along its creases and set the broken seal where it once presided more prestinely. The wax had crumbled and cracked and stained the fibers of the page.

    "I agree," he stated. "If it is a matter of urgency, though, I feel I must leave in a more immediate time frame. I will insure you are provided a meal, however. But I do not wish to delay."
     
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  5. Anne Marie, A Knight's Duty (Collab Between Rissa and Ner0)


    The world was lilac and gold, green and shadow and the light of twenty bonfires. Lord Gerald Albere of Queensburg followed his escort and Captain of his Guard back to his modest campground. He chose to bed with his soldiers, like he had during the days of war long years past, and he walked with swagger, despite his old age, that befitted a man of his honor. His escort departed once the haze of smoke crept through the air and the old man continued on with his Captain, stopping here and there before retiring to his canvas tent.

    “How many will guard my tent tonight?” Lord Gerald inquired.

    “Two, milord, though I will summon more soldiers if you wish.”

    “Two more will do. Argumentative tongues sparred tonight, Captain Reynar, two more guards should do.”

    Nodding to his lord, Captain Reynar exited the tent and went in search of two willing soldiers. Most were worn after the trek from Queensburg -- and cold at that, and would prefer sleeping in their tents or near the warmth of their bonfires. And yet he knew of two willing souls who would do anything to show their worth. His first stop was to a greenork, only a few fresh weeks out of his training.

    “Fen,” He called out to the young lad. “Gear up, you’re to guard our Lord tonight. Shift starts in twenty.”

    He waited for a salute and then stalked off to find Anne, one of the few women soldiers they took with them from Queensburg. Once he found the woman, he repeated his command to Fen and waited for her salute.

    *​

    The faint light of the fire nearest to her cast long shadows that stretched into the dark of the night. The camp had long since settled and the last sounds of general busy work could be heard from nearby. It melded well with the sound of the soldiers that had settled in, their idle chatter creating a soft orchestra of familiarity. Anne had always enjoyed the atmosphere of the night camp. Her experience with missions of this size, while not extensive, had definitely given her a sense of ease in such an environment.

    Her own duties long since completed, Anne had set to maintenance of her weaponry, as was common for her to do so. On this particular occasion she had decided that familiarizing herself further with the cleaning of the newest addition to her arsenal would be the most intelligent option. The flintlock pistol was simple and carried an air of practicality. She had not the funds to afford anything of exceptional quality and instead intended to maintain its reliability through sheer dedication to upkeep. At that moment she was simply putting the finishing touches on the cleaning process, re affixing the lock to the pistol itself with what was clearly a worn out turn screw. This wear did not bother her much however, as the device was more than capable of fulfilling its needs.

    Anne had just finished gathering the cleaning tools into a small pouch and re affixing her pistol to her leg as the voice of the captain alerted her to his presence from behind.

    “Gear up, you’re to guard our Lord tonight. Shift starts in twenty.”

    She turned, falling into salute with natural ease. "Right away Captain." Her reply was short, concise, and professional. Maintaining self efficiency was one of her responsibilities after all.

    Captain Reynar nodded at Anne in approval and turned to go. He hesitated however, and turned on his heel slowly as the cogs in his mind did as well. His Lord wasn't a gentle man, but he was a fair one, and whatever had happened during dinner must have caused a great deal for him to worry about repercussions. Reynar glanced over at Anne and nodded to himself. She would fight to the death for her Lord, as he would, but would the others?

    “Be wary, Anne of Albere Estate,” Reynar said solemnly. “Don’t let your duties slip on this night…”

    This time Captain Reynar turned to go and go he did, with only one final command. “You will outrank every soldier there, do care to keep everyone in line. I’ll await your report in the morning.”

    *​

    Twenty minutes later, Fen of Albere Estate was already waiting when Anne arrived. He smiled widely at her, his dark auburn hair clashing brilliantly with his ginger beard. Even with the facial hair the man looked young. He saluted at his ranking officer and then took to his duties; back straight and proud, eyes scanning the darkness for threats against his lord.

    "At ease." Her reply to the greenork's salute was short, yet soft. Anne preferred using a tone of calm seriousness when addressing her inferiors. A part of her still considered herself new blood after all, as her current rank was relatively new.

    Luckily Fen set right to his duties, it saved her the trouble of instructing him to do so. In fact, she had heard of this particular soldier during their trek, encountered him several times, actually. While they had not officially met she had noticed his hard working nature. Whether he would maintain this fervor as time move forward was yet to be determined. For the time being, she respected that part of his character.

    The parting words of Captain Reynar weighed heavily on Anne-Marie's mind. She had assumed that something was amiss when she was called to duty. She knew of Lord Albere, and thought of him well, a fine Lord to serve. While she wouldn't expect nerves to be the cause of this precaution, she would heed the Captain's advice. Her mind finished straying rather quickly however and she set to her duties as well.

    The night strolled on and with it so did Anne's interest in what may transpire.

    Fen of Albere Estate was a good man, a good soldier, despite his young age. He has a halfbreed, though he doubted anyone would notice it; the elven gene was all but gone in his blood. But his grandfather’s stories were something not even time could take from him. He touched his uniform’s breast pocket after his hand came down from saluting his ranking officer. No, not even time could shake the ink bound stories his grandfather so loved to recite. And so the night wore on and Fen continued to scout the camp, making sure to keep his back to the braziers. He needn’t to be night blind on a night such as this.

    He was reciting the tale of the tolki’s when he saw her, a shadow, a ghost in the night. He cocked his head, staring as a figure in green and gold and white strode forward in the growing moonlight. He looked over at Anne-Marie, his eyes wide, but not with fear.

    “Do you see her too?”

    Anne was impressed with Fen's awareness. His statement alerted her to the stranger that approached. The colors of the woman's attire belied her wealth. However, apart from assumption Anne was unable to ascertain her origin. Regardless, her job was not to assume, it was to identify threats to her lord. She signaled Fen to be on guard as she stepped forward to hail the stranger.

    The light of the brazier's were to her back as she took a few final steps forward. In that moment a pale beam of moonlight lit Anne's brow and upon it danced a faint glow of blue that disappeared in half a moment. Her armor clattered as leather met iron and she ground to a halt. 'Aye, stranger. You approach the camp of Lord Gerald Albere of Queensburg.' Her left palm rested on the hilt of her sword as she spoke, index finger subconsciously tapping at the leather of the grip. 'Announce yourself and your business here.' Anne's eyes pierced the darkness, vainly attempting to study the woman's shadow covered features as she awaited a response.

    As the figure neared Anne she was illuminated by the flames in the brazier. The lone figure revealed herself and the weight of power she bore. The Descendant approached gracefully, not a care in the world marred her face. Not until a beam of moonlight touched the skin of the young soldier's cheek.

    Anuleisa frowned softly, hesitantly, and reached out almost subconsciously with her theurgy. She didn’t probe deeply, but then again she needn’t to. With a suspicious glint in her eyes, the Descendant nodded around herself and spoke with a slight chuckle.

    “I do not approach your Lord’s camp, soldier, for I am already within its boundaries. I approach your Lord’s tent. May I employ you to escort me the rest of the way? And perhaps announce my presence?”

    Anne's heart fell in her chest as the identity of the stranger became clear. The descendant herself stood before them and Anne had just demanded her identity as she would have a common traveler.

    "Lady Caerdean, please excuse my rudeness." She said as she fell to one knee, trusting Fen to follow suite. First was the embarrassment for her behavior, even if she had acted according to her training, to be speaking to The Descendant herself that way. Anne was crushed.

    As those feelings quickly subsided Anne's mind began working. The Lady Caerdean was requesting escort to her Lord's tent. She would oblige however, she felt a need to inform Captain Reynar. She of course would not keep The Descendant waiting, but her arrival would undoubtedly be information he would want to know. Then again, she only had herself and three others to guard the lord's tent. It would seem that she had no hands to spare even if she did want to inform the captain. In the spaces of a moment she came to her decision, she would escort The Lady to Lord Gerald and if he saw fit to fetch the Captain, then that would be his decision.

    "I would be honored to see you to my lord Lady Caerdean." She stated, without raising her head, her tone changing from slight shock to that of respect. She then awaited permission to raise her head.

    “Rise.” Anuleisa said softly. “The rest of you as well. I’ve not much time but I feel as though I owe your Lord Albere an apology. He will see me.”

    She waited patiently until the woman soldier rose, noting the minute changes in her facial features as she did. An interesting creature, Anu noted with a scrutinizing gaze.

    Anne checked her breathing, ensuring that there was even space between each breath. Her posture fell into a perfect rigidity. An efficiently executed salute was her response to Lady Caerdean's prompt. "Of course Lady Caerdean, if so then we shall make haste." Anne turned in a single fluid motion. Without taking the time check if Fen was keeping pace she signaled him to follow and she led the lady to the Lord's tent.

    Within moments they had arrived at the entrance. Without opening the flap Anne began her introduction. It would have been against protocol to enter her lord's tent without first announcing her intention. She drew in breath, "My Lord Gerald Albere of Queensburg, I come to announce the presence of a visitor, Anuleisa Rochaan, The Heir of Caershire, Lady of Earth, Our Great Lady Caerdean, and The Descendant of RoNaan has arrived and requests your audience." Content with her performance, Anne stepped to the side. She fell into salute as she stood to the side of the tent, assuming Fen would do the same. The other guards should be simply continuing their duties Anne thought to herself, they were too shorthanded to supply a greater escort then just herself and Fenn after all. For a small moment she awaited her lord's response, only then would she bid The Lady to enter.

    Anu swallowed a groan as the soldier used her titles, all of her titles. Bringing a hand through her hair, she tempered the soft annoyance that bubbled to the surface of her psyche with the mysterious runes that had flashed in the moonlight upon the woman's face. Waiting for Lord Albere, Anu took to studying the woman, wondering... Wondering if she even knew.

    "Err? What?" Said a voice from within the tent. "Lady Who?"

    Anu smiled, catching others off guard seemed to be her specialty this evening. She let herself in, despite the rudeness. It was late and she had plenty other things yet to do.

    The tent was lavish, as she expected it to be. To bed with his soldiers the Lord Albere was known to do, but never would he deny himself any comforts. Which was exactly why she was here.

    "Lady Caerdean..." Albere said confusedly. Nonetheless, he bowed and she followed suit, though it was below her station to do so.

    "Good evening, Lord Albere," Anuleisa said with a dip of her head. "I've come to apologize."

    "A-Apologize, my Lady? Whatever for?"

    "For my reclusive behavior this evening." She brought herself to the blazing hearth situated in the center of the tent and sat upon the bench that encircled it. "It appears I was not around when you proposed Queensburg Sanctuaries." Anu paused and let the information hang in the air.

    Half of her was still on the runic tattoos adorning the face of the woman outside and yet, the half who'd been trained since birth knew better.

    "I will propose this only once, Lord Albere." She hesitated. "You!" Anu said to the woman outside. "I request the presence of the soldier who announced me to bear witness to this proposal."

    Anne was, to say the very least, taken aback by this request. She took a moment gather herself and replied swiftly. "If that is what The Lady Caerdean wishes." She then stepped into Lord Albere's tent, letting the entrance flap fall shut behind her. As she did so, the faint glow of fragmented runic markings dissipated from her brow. She immediately took up post to the left of the entrance. She thought momentarily of Fen who was now left outside without her company. 'He should be more than capable of handling himself with the help of the other two,' she thought to herself momentarily before refocusing on the situation at hand.

    “Your fellows know their duties, young one. Come, sit, and witness.” She tapped the seat next to her and gave Anne a curious glance before turning back to Albere.

    “I do hope you pay her well, Albere,” Anu said with a smile. “If not, well… I’m always looking for strong willed women for my entourage.” She sighed and warmed her hands over the brazier, eyes roaming the fire. “Sanctuaries are hard to come by in these dark days Jons Rowa.”

    “Indeed my Lady.” The Lord replied heavily, the use of his personal name sobering him up and settling his nerves. “Forgive me, Lady Anuleisa, but I do not understand…”

    “Sanctuaries, my dear man. We are in great need of them. Caerdean is well into construction on three as of now. I’m willing to send you home with financial aid if you can guarantee construction before the Solstice.”

    Anu watched carefully, alternating between the soldier and Lord Albere. His face was the most expressive: from confusion to shock, shock to greed, and greed reverting back to shock. She could see the cogs turning in his head and then finally…

    Before the Solstice, my Lady? But that’s… that’s weeks away. Half of the court will be in Marsea, attending the Golden Galas.”

    “Precisely,” Anu said with a small smile. “The ones who oppose the idea of Sanctuaries will not be around to vote against you. Lord Albere you are well aware of the Rochaan Code. This is devious, I agree with you, but the true deviants are awakening and we need to ready ourselves. We need these Sanctuaries Jons Rowa. It’s the only way to keep our people safe from the beasts of the night.”

    She turned to Anne with a raised brow. “And what of you, young one? What are your thoughts on what I’ve said? On Sanctuaries and the beasts of the night? Have you ever witnessed their horrors?”

    Anne, who was now seated next to the lady Caerdean, was impressed by two things. First was her efficiency, The Descendant was clear and organized, able to complete her entire proposal in but a few statements without leaving any room for confusion from her listeners. Secondly was her behaviour, The Lady Caerdean had not once belittled Anne and now was even requesting her active opinion. The Lady did not need to do either of these things, and yet here she was, including a simple soldier in a matter far beyond her pay grade. Anne was both honored and amazed. It was nearly overwhelming.

    For a small moment she gathered her thoughts, 'I thank you Lady Caerdean.' She spoke these words not only out of sincerity but also to buy time to process all The Lady had said. 'I have heard many stories in my short life, as one could say listening to them is a second love of mine. This threat you speak of is not one I personally have encountered, but that does not change its severity. I would not be so bold as to bark orders at The Lord responsible for my employ, but I would recommend that we take your warning very seriously. The Descendant herself would not request audience over a trivial matter, as such it would be wise to act on your request with due swiftness.'

    “Hmm. I think I’d buy your employ just to see if you can bark orders.” Anuleisa said softly, a lightness ringing in her voice that guaranteed the comment wasn’t a jab on her pride.

    She turned back to Jons Rowa Gerald Albere and waited patiently. Once again she could see the cogs working, the conclusion he was coming to. Anu knew she had him the moment his brow became dotted with perspiration. She smiled conspiratorially. At the Lord and his soldier.

    “I can guarantee construction, Anuleisa. It will be difficult but I fear you are right. Captain Reynar received word not earlier than this morning that the beasts of the night attacked a village just outside Solenne territory.”

    Anu nodded her head gravely. She had heard the same reports the day before.

    “These Sanctuaries are the only things that keep the beasts out. I do not know why the people of our countries and surrounding nations are not heeding the signs they are given. But if Caerdean and Queensburg work together now, then we stand a chance during the darkest of days. Do not fear, Jons Rowa, but do all that you must.”

    She stood, slowly, still heating her hands over the brazier. Her dress was not made for the cool Aroran nights and she neglected to wait for the Roanite butler to retrieve her cloak. For a moment she stood there in the heat and silence of the lavish tent. She stood upon thick rushes, smelled faint hints of soothing lavender in the air, and surrounded by opulent furnishes.

    “I inquire two of your soldiers, Lord Albere.” Anuleisa said finally. “To escort me back to my estate and to retrieve your aid. I know it is late so I will not trouble you for long. If I may,” Anuleisa replied with a hesitant smile. “I’d like to request this young one here, and the auburn halfbreed outside. They seem fit for the task; fresh and wide-eyed.”

    The Lord sat in his plump chair with his chin resting in his hand, eyes glazed and focused while staring into the fire. She wondered absently, knowing his attunement to the flame, if he was being given visions of the past, present, or future. She cleared her throat and the Lord nodded and waved his hand in consent.

    “Of course my Lady,” He replied, raising as she had. He stepped forward and offered his hand. She accepted and he pressed his lips to her knuckles. “This is all very forward, Anuleisa. Surely one day you’ll have dinner with me and we’ll talk nothing of politics.”

    She smiled once more before turning to the soldier to her left.

    “What say you?” Anuleisa asked. “Are you ready and willing? I do hope so. I will wait here, if you accept to accompany me. We’ll be gone a day or two… I will wait if you and your fellow soldier need to grab anything of import.”

    Anne stood, dropping to one knee as she spoke. " I am honored Lady Caerdean, and am always ready to serve, that is, if My Lord Albere has no objection." She then rose once more, looking to her Lord for approval.

    “Of course,” Lord Albere said with another wave of his hand. “I would never deny our Lady protection. I command you and Fen to do as Lady Anuleisa bids.”

    Nodding her head once, she led the way outside and gave her orders, softly, to the auburn haired young halfbreed outside. There was a flicker of excitement in his eyes and with a bow from the waist, he rushed off to retrieve his belongings. She continued to wait, contemplating her actions and the repercussions she knew were coming. When they both returned she led the way to the front gates of the Lue Estate where the Roanite butler stood with her cloak at the ready, and took off into the starry night.
     
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  6. Aarcon Zulat ; Goldwine Grove @rissa @BearEnthusiast


    The Consul smiled, serenely examining the parchment. For the moment, it was a wordless message, a scroll that would not reveal its contents until the appropriate time. Yet, all the same, everything about it told stories - its procurement, the fact that it existed. It was a secret, and while the optimist would claim that it was merely vigilance, the pessimist - no, the realist - would know that it meant enemies, eyes and ears within shadows, and more dangerously, poisonous smiles in plain sight. He would have to instruct Ruven to be on particular guard for the coming nights - the man had grown complacent as the years went by.

    Aarcon also noted the manner of its procurement, the transmutation of her gown's fabric into parchment. While Aarcon could not claim mastery over whatever field of the Elements the Descendant utilised, he surmised that simple papyrus might have done. There were many nobles who would throw fits and tantrums over a single thread of their lovely garb being torn - she was not one of them. A small detail, but a crucial one. Aarcon could not help but smile.

    "What a character she is, don't you agree?" The Consul addressed the Dancer, "As are you, I might add. The names of many a noble are almost painfully engraved upon my mind and yet... the name Persephone de Chalons is but a name that faintly resides on the tip of my tongue, the edge of my memories - always familiar, but never solidified, like a wraith in the breeze. A master of espionage, no less."

    The Consul's laugh was hearty. More importantly, it was genuine. The Dancer would make things so much more interesting.

    "Well, in any case, I've seen you dance. And you dance far too well, my Lady."
     
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  7. Alora Fortune

    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    “So,” Tre said as the door swung shut. He scooted the chair forward and pulled his legs up and underneath him. “Who are you?” Iam replied, his face curious and once more skeptical.

    “You don’t look like anyone from Bells usual gang.”

    Touching her hair, subconsciously, Alora frowned, color flooding into her cheeks. It wasn't as though she'd had time to address it - and normally it wasn't her job, anyway. Slowly, she worked out the pins that held what was left in place and as her captors stepped out, turned her attention to the twins by the table.

    "...That's because I'm not..." She murmured, adding another pin to the pile beside her, "My name is Alora Fortune. I am a princess from Gabranth... and those loathsome creatures out there abducted me." Pulling the last pin, she looked down at it in her palm and a brow quirked, the corner of her lip twitching upwards, ever so slightly.

    She had read about it... about tumblers and pins, and how they could be manipulated by an object small enough to fit into the lock. If she could just...

    Rising, Alora moved to the door, and without a word to the twins, bent down, jamming the hairpin into the mouth of the lock.

    The twins laughed in unison when the woman said she was a princess. They shared a look, cocking their heads in opposite directions and said simultaneously, “Doesn’t look like it.” Iam went even farther and spoke matter-of-factly. “You just got fancy clothes is all.”

    When Alora Fortune stood and walked to the door with a hairpin, the twins looked at each other with hesitant faces. Low born and raised in the underbelly of Gabranth, the boys knew immediately what she intended to do. Iam cleared his throat, scooting his chair forward just a hair.

    “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” Iam said seriously, his young voice holding just a bit of fear. “The Three Sisters don’t appreciate lockpickers.”

    "I don't rightly care..." She'd have preferred to ignore them, but as that wasn't exactly the easiest task, she glanced only casually over her shoulder, "And you shouldn't be so rude. I spent most of the day wrapped in a rug or dragged in the back of a cart. It's not as if you'd look your best in my place. Damn!" She hissed, as the pin in the lock broke into two pieces. Rising, she grabbed another from the bunk and resumed her work.

    "Who is he, anyway... This 'Bells' creature? I mean, apart from a complete scoundrel."

    “It’s your head then,” Tre began. “But we warned you…” Iam finished.

    They waited with bated breath as the woman broke off a bit of pin and continued pilfering with a fresh one. As soon as the word scoundrel exited her mouth a thin blue current ran through the door and the lock itself, releasing a small jolt of energy. After a few seconds the broken bit of pin fell from the lock and landed at Alora’s feet. It seemed she was trapped, by her captors and the room itself.

    “We told you so.” The young boys chimed in unison.

    The eldest by two minutes, Iam, stood from his chair and took two small steps forward, as if to check on the woman. But Tre inhaled sharply and his brother turned around and jumped back in his chair. They both knew the consequences of disobeying Bells -- and neither enjoyed it.

    Instead, sitting comfortably once more, “I’ll tell you about Bellamy if you promise not to shock yourself again.”

    At the sudden jolt, Alora gave a small yelp and toppled onto her backside. Something she was unfamiliar with... A feeling of great and ever increasing anger swelled within her and as the stinging in her hand subsided, Alora kicked out at the door with her foot, once, twice...three times, kicked it like a furious horse, a louder cry emanating from her that eventually dissolved into just tears...

    What good was she? Couldn't even rescue herself.

    With a bitter sob, she pushed back to the edge of the bunk and laid her head against its side, staring upwards at the ceiling overhead, until her breathing returned to normal. Raking her hands through her hair, through the tangled nest it had become, she cocked her eye over to the twins, "I know who he is. He's a monster... A coward. And I'm going to die here, alone."

    Alone. At least some things would feel familiar, then...

    “Bellamy, a monster?” Iam asked in mild shock, young eyes wide and doe-like. To his right his brother laughed, his portly belly bouncing with each giggle.

    “Listen-” Tre began.

    “If Bells hasn’t killed ya, he’s not gunna’ let you die. Not unless he’s ordered to anyways.” Iam finished starkly. Young though they were, they had no illusions of the reality and harshness of the world. “But,” Tre said wonderingly, “Bell never really listens to anyone, my ma’s always goin’ on about how he does what he wants when he wants. Heh.”

    “Says it’s kingly of him.” Iam said with a shrug. “Anyways, Alora, right? Might as well get off the floor. Gunna ruin that fancy dress and if you woulda’ asked, we coulda told you the doors only open with a key or the Baron’s voice, otherwise, they’re always spelled shut.”

    Misery crawled within her, seeping into her heart and soul, destroying the last vestiges of hope she possessed. Unless he was ordered to... But why wouldn't he be? What could her purpose possibly be, otherwise?

    Tears tracked her cheeks and she turned her face away from the twins,
    lest she lose her temper. It wasn't their fault... Not really, and she wouldn't lay it on them. Not even in her desperation...

    "Kingly..." She muttered, brushing her cheeks. Her horror of a brother would be king some day and she loathed the very thought of being alone with him, all the same. Her fiance was a terrible bore who wanted nothing more than to lock her away behind golden bars until use and age crumbles her resolve and left her broken and bitter like her mother... Nobility, or the implications of it... she found, were was hardly a guarantee for goodness or fairness.

    "That he is..."

    Bellamy walked back into the room, hesitating just beyond the threshold however. The twins were still where he left them, thankfully, but Alora Fortune was on the floor, leaning against the bed… instead of lying upon it. With a scrutinizing gaze towards the twins, Bells closed the door and locked it, tucking the key away into one of his many cloak pockets.

    He walked gently, slowly, without making any sudden movements. Bellamy took a seat in front of her, his usual smirkness dissolving into something serious.

    “Will you speak with me?” Bellamy asked softly, “I think it’s time I explained some things.”

    As the door opened, a small surge of anger resurfaced in Alora, but it was so briefly lived it barely had room to put color in her cheeks, and lowering her gaze, she stared at the small red striations she had made on her palms, digging her nails into her skin.

    In truth, she was too tired for words, but as her captor knelt before her, his voice surprisingly gentle, she gave a short nod of her head, "Go on..."

    “Bear with me,” Bellamy said with a small smile. “There’s much you need to know… But first, it’s a pleasure to meet you, my lady Alora. We haven’t had a moment to introduce ourselves.” He cleared his throat, almost shyly. “Your… kidnapping wasn’t originally planned to happen the way it did. We were to ask you, persuade you at all costs. But our time ran out and we had to make sure we had you regardless of costs.

    “We stand for a united Marsea, Alora. We stand for peace, even if we must fight for it. Many forget that… I am a Knight of the Rocheean Order and I was tasked to retrieve you. We have already enlisted Prince Arnal of Morenne and Princesses Selena Moreua and Sasia Morova of Emeraldy.”

    A genuine disappointment flashed across his face, if for but a moment, and he ran a hand over his scratchy stubble before continuing. “Again, I apologize for how I’ve conducted my task… I saw no other option for the timeframe I was given... I do not expect you to forgive me. I was rude.

    “I just ask that you forgive Iskaya. She was just following my orders and was not aware of the higher orders given to me. Once we leave the Compound, which is where we’re heading now, I will personally see to it that you’re compensated for my mistreatment.”

    "A new..." Trailing off, Alora frowned. That could mean deposing her family. In the end, the thought of her brother having any authority over the people brought her no joy... But he, and no doubt the others, would certainly rebel against the idea of giving up their power. There might be peace at the close, but it would be bloody before then...

    His compliment brought her back to present and looking at him, a brow lifted. She hated violence... More so on her own part. That he expected her to defend herself... That he expected that she would need to brought her no comfort.

    He rose then, and motioned the small twins from the room and for a moment she was glad to see them gone, if only for the privacy to think... But then the idea of being on her own seemed suddenly towering and she rose as he moved to leave. Yet before she could speak, he was gone.

    Slumping down in the bunk, feeling suddenly weighed down by exhaustion and fear and hunger, she buried her face in her hands and with a soft sob, let the tears come.

    TAGS || collabs with @rissa, @Doctor Jax
     
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  8. ROCHAAN ESTATE

    Three days had passed and her growing entourage were all in Caerdean. Safe and sound and clueless at what greater powers were awakening in the realm. That, of course, is why she chose them. Each held an inherent quality that spoke to her instincts and she knew by some power above that they would help her spread knowledge of the growing darkness. The Consul was prime for convincing Lyf; he held a position that would rally many in his homeland. The soldiers, well, there was something special about the two she couldn’t quite place. All she knew was that the young halfbreed looked entirely too familiar to be a coincidence.

    But there was something about the… dancer in particular that entranced the senses and befuddled the mind, and that was just at a simple glance. Persephone De Chalons was someone you simply didn’t glance at, however, at the longer one looked, the more arcane she became. Anyone could fortune at having a woman like that on their side, and luckily, Anu needn’t worry about price. But she craved loyalty above all else and she wasn’t sure if the woman was capable.

    One way or the way, she’d soon find out.

    Anuleisa sat upon a plush oversized chaise, waiting on the arrival of the dancer, the Consul, and the two soldiers she decided to take with her. She was in a comfortable gown, a shimmery gold that complimented the green in her eyes. Yet otherwise, she looked relaxed; swarthy brown hair hung loose in cascades and thin plaits, a wolf-skin throw ensnared her shoulders, and she wore thin, supple leather boots. It wasn’t long before the first of her guests arrived, and with a flush of her cheeks, Anuleisa stood and gave the woman a formal bow, motioning towards the chaise and the Oma resting upon the table in front of it.

    “My Lady De Chalons, wonderful. Come, please, sit with me.”

    --

    The three days the dancer had spent in Caerdean so had been a time of work rather than leisure. Persephone was a stranger in these lands and as talented as she may have been, her line of work required allies.

    It was a simple enough really, she preyed on the ambitious and appealed to those who saw aligning with a member of the Descendant’s party as an opportunity to elevate themselves. In reality, it was they who would be elevating her in the days to come of course...for they were little more than steps to be taken underneath her heels.

    Lady De Chalons had been resting in her quarters when she received the summons. She fixed her glossy raven locks into a messy updo and she chose a favorite for her outfit. As she travelled through the halls and towards Anu, Persephone wore a white dress that held tightly to the dancer’s legs and hips, loosening only as it travelled upwards. Her shoulders and bust remained largely revealed, with the entire outfit hanging against her ski by thin golden chains.

    She entered the parlor with one hand lightly grasping the hip of her gown and the other sporting a lace fan. With little more than a sweet, red smile she dipped into a low curtsy. “It’d be my pleasure to keep you company until the others arrive.”

    Anuleisa smiled, almost shyly, before taking a seat and pouring two glasses of Oma. She handed the woman a glass and leaned back. Absently, or seemingly so, she wrapped the wolf-skin throw around her shoulders once more and sipped the warm, light pink liquid with a pleasant smile upon her face. For one, she felt entirely underdressed, even in her own home, and the thought brought a smile to her face.

    Yes, Anu thought to herself. This one can help me immensely…

    “I will be frank, my Lady. I have no time for dishonesty and no patience for unloyal partnerships. I will ask you once, lie to me if you wish, but tell me what you require for your utmost loyalty and it will be done. There is much to know, Persephone, much yet to discover… But I will not sleep with an eye open, worried about a woman within my own ranks.

    “There is a darkness growing. One that begins and ends with the Seals of Lakaine.” She paused, took another sip of Oma and then continued, her voice resonant and full of passion.

    “What will it take, hm? I’m a simple woman, despite the weight I carry. My desires are simple. Are yours, Lady De Chalons?”

    It seemed their first meeting was no fluke. For a woman of such stature and standing, the Descendant did not verbally tiptoe whatsoever. A refreshing take on conversation if not one Persephone considered dangerous to use in the coming days.

    “I wish for only three things in exchange for my fealty.” Persephone began, her voice low and sultry. The dancer crossed one leg over the other, holding up her glass of Oma with a single elongated hand. “The Du Lyon household. It’s master and my former mentor...I wish to see him and his family publicly disgraced during this coming social season, and at my hands alone.”

    “Second,” Persephone placed the glass down, seriousness in her eyes and a smirk on her lips. “A public position at your side, if not the closest possible, in each of the events to come. ”

    “Lastly...” The dancer waited for a moment to observe any reaction before slowly leaning in closer, so close that the scent of Oma on her breath and her perfume was all that could be taken in. “A kiss from the Descendent herself...before we get interrupted by the other, not nearly as entrancing members of our party.”

    Anu smiled, dimples revealing themselves in each cheek. She leaned in, arm propping her upper body forward. The wolf-skin throw slipped from her shoulders and Anuleisa let her eyes roam over the dancers face, her body… and then probed with other senses, wondering slightly if it was some kind of trap. Immunities to toxins could be achieved, especially one attuned to the element of water. But still…

    “A kiss, surely.” And then she leaned even closer, head tilting slightly, corners of her lips rising. “I believe I can spare one or two of those.”

    Persephone closed what little distance remained between them and kissed her with great animation, while she remained seated, there was enough passion in her actions.. One soft hand rose to cup the other woman’s cheek while the other steadied the dancer by pushing firmly against the descendant's thigh.

    Lady De Chalons smiled against Anu’s sweetened lips and pulled away seconds later, without warning dropping lower to nibble ever so gently on the other woman’s neck.

    Just when it seemed like she was getting carried away, Persephone pulled back and tucked back what of her hair had come slightly undone. “Consider that my promise of loyalty, as well as a first hand demonstration as to why you’ve chosen well in me.”

    Crossing her legs once more, the dancer extended her hand with great grace and smiled professionally.

    “I look forward to this partnership of ours, madam. I’m sure throughout the coming weeks we’ll find plenty of ways to benefit each other.”

    “That, Persephone, is something I’m going to have to agree upon.”

    She took another sip of Oma, her eyes trailing the golden chains that were affixed to the gown the woman across from her wore. Every so often they caught the endless light just right and danced, just like she, around the room. Anuleisa finished her glass, calmed her beating heart, and then took the outstretched hand.

    “As the Descendant of RoNaan you have my word, Persephone De Chalons, that the Du Lyon’s will know shame and disgrace unlike any other. You will have my arsenal at your disposal.” She cleared her throat and shot the woman a devious smile. “But please, now, of course I expect you at my side! I’ll do you one even better, if you so wish, but we’ll speak more later… I believe I hear the footsteps of our friends.”

    Tags: Collab with @BearEnthusiast, @Shizuochan @Ner0


    IN THE SKY ABOVE LYF

    With a flourish of an inked pen, Garek scratched out his initials on the official documents and climbed up after his first mate once everything was finalized. He was itching to be in the sky, away from the stench that was Lyf. He turned to Toan, a fellow halfbreed and of Qova blood, and a man he’d known for almost a century.

    “Get us in the air. Set our destination north, to Caershire. And good job on that catch. We’ll need those crystals sooner than later.”

    “Aye, that we will.” Toan replied, flicking his hand in acknowledgement to the request.

    Garek watched him stalk off, his round shoulders hunched forward. His eyes roamed the deck and slowly came to rest on Kydris. The Conjurer Anulesia had sent him after. How she knew of his even existence continued to elude him, but then, everything she did tended to be an enigma. Who was he to try and understand?

    “You,” Garek said with a grunt, walking up to the young elf with his arms crossed. “Kydris, right? Well look, I got shit to do, but meet me in the galley when the ship starts rolling, alright?” He pointed to the doors Toan had walked through. “A floor down, just take the stairs, alright? I’ll clue ya into what’s goin here soon. There ain’t no point in telling you to stay outta’ trouble, so just try not to fall, yeah? Twenty minutes and then the galley.”

    Then he turned around and stalked off in the opposite direction, plunging himself into the lower deck via the sleeping quarters. Garek’s room was down a flight of stairs and to the right and as he mumbled an enchantment to unlock his door, he flicked a finger over the stone in his ring. It was a rare bit of magic, one that he’d been gifted with years ago. The stone would signal its twin and let it’s wearer know. Kas’ ring would start glowing and she’d come.

    But until then… Garek slumped into his chair and uncorked a bottle of Oma. Unlike most of RoNaan’s Realm, he preferred his warm temperature and without the formalities. He poured himself a shot and pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration.

    Just after the female halfling had left the room, she turned back to Grin, preparing to make an exasperated comment when the ring on her finger began to glow. “Oh,” She said suddenly, looking back at her guest apologetically. “Garek is on the ship.” She tapped the ring in response, the glow turning off. “Grin, stay here. I’ll be back in a moment.” She gave him a reassuring smile, almost a smirk, as she ducked out of the room and closed the door behind her, hustling over to Garek’s room.

    She knocked the moment she’d stepped right in front of it, for some reason, finding herself rather eager to see him. She wanted to hear about what had transpired, or maybe she was just jittery from all the excitement and how miffed she felt at that eavesdropping halfling with the pixy. “Garek,” Kas announced. “It’s me.”

    “Come in, then. I didn’t summon you to stand outside my door.”

    Garek shook his head and poured one last shot before corking the bottle and shoving it away. The rose quartz color showed it’s age; not fine, per se, but better than most. He swallowed it hastily, and waited for his niece to walk through the door.

    “Hurry up, we got shit to speak of.” Garek grunted, tired and saggy-shouldered.

    She entered with a frown, taking on a defensive stature the moment she entered the room. “No hullo for your favorite niece, huh? What shit could be more important than a hullo?” There was a mischievous twinkle in her frown, but she pulled a straight face for the act of it.

    “You already know you’re my favorite. Now sit.” He waited until she did, and then continued. “We’re heading north, to an estate that has it’s own small skyport. We’re to be picking up… guests. Unlike you’ve encountered. I need you to be respectful and to keep your eyes on that conjurer. Speaking of…

    “I need all crew members in the galley in fifteen. Think you can handle that?”

    Her mischievous frown turned into a grin.

    “Course, ‘Capn.”

    Garek nodded her out and heard the telltale rumble of the engines as he removed the small leather bound book and jotted out a few notes. He leaned back with a sigh, pinching his nose again. A small knot formed in the back of head and with a groan, ignoring the pain, rose to his feet to make his way to the bridge. And then… the galley.



    THE THREE SISTERS

    With knowing eyes Bellamy met Skaya’s gaze and nodded once. He held up a single finger, gesturing for more time. Taking each of the twins by an ear, he led them to a round table, only large enough to fit one person on either side and pushed them into the hardbacked chairs.

    “You move and you’re in trouble.” Bell said seriously, using the back of his hand to once again wipe stray blood from his lip.

    “But Bell, we have--”

    Very important stuff to tell you. And who’s the lady? What’s wrong with her hair, Bellamy?” Iam asked with a skeptical look on his face.

    “And why is Skaya always such a grump?” Tre said just as skeptically.

    Bellamy pinched the bridge of his nose and glanced back over to the twins. They were eager, as usual, and he had neither the time or patience to deal with them. “Don’t move and don’t bombarde the woman with questions, alright? I’ll be back in a minute.”

    And then he twisted the door open, locked it as he and Skaya stepped through, and retrieved a separate key from another pocket. Unlocking the door that stood just in front of them, Bellamy ushered Skaya in and sighed deeply, grabbing a chair and settling himself into it.

    “You did well today, Iskaya. I don’t think I could have done it without you…” Bellamy mused, nodding appreciatively. But he knew her better than that, so he leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms, a worried expression marring his usually confident face. “What’s on your mind?”

    Skaya followed the man out to another room which he subsequently locked, and it was only then that she let her shoulders relax. The mercenary lowered herself into a chair, careful to make sure her blades didn't knock against the wood in their sheathes. With a sigh, she leaned back and surveyed Bellamy.

    "I need to know what we're up against here. This isn't some fun-run for crystals or a simple sly job trying to get a couple of words out of a drunk Lycaen. I don't mind being in the dark about the Order or whatever it is they happen to be planning, but we have a monarch on our hands -- one that's betrothed, which makes things doubly difficult."

    Skaya rubbed her face, suddenly exhausted. The Ka'Lene's unmarked skin was finally beginning to show a bit of age, with the slightest of lines about her eyes and mouth, as fine as spiderwebs.

    "Bells, that compound won't keep her. And the twins are only here because they need to tell you something about the place. You only hear from them when things get touch. They're as bad as flies to manure," Skaya stated rather sourly, tapping her fingers against the edge of her chair.

    He grumbled at the word monarch but made no other interruptions. Bellamy was silent for a minute or two, gathering his thoughts carefully. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust Skaya; in fact, the truth of the matter was that Iskaya was one of the very few people he trusted completely. But the Order…

    “They want to infiltrate the Golden Galas, Iskaya. They want to infiltrate the Galas with royal blood backing their every word. They already have the twin princesses of Emeraldy. Though that job was done with subtle coercion and… seduction.” He sighed before continuing. “The Fortune princess was to have the same treatment, but we ran out of time. They’ve gotten word from the east. Word that the Cult of Stars has awoken.”

    He sighed even deeper before letting out a small groan.

    “You’re right,” Bellamy barked with a laugh. “You’re always fucking right, Skaya. Tell me again, why aren’t you running this show?”

    Skaya leaned back and listened to Bells' rap, laying before her the Order's actual plan. Things must seriously be boiling if Bellamy was giving her the full rundown. Her brow never budged from its usual scowl, and though her eyes narrowed ever so slightly as he mentioned the true goal of infiltrating the galas.

    "The Order... thinks the Cult of Stars is out and about?" Iskaya asked with deliberation.

    She let loose a cough of a laugh as she smiled -- a rare expression -- and rubbed her eyes with one hand. It was as crazy as saying that the Wampus Court was a real thing, or that pixies were planning on turning the sea to dust. They were fiction, a scary story to tell to children. But if the Order believed they were real...

    "I'm not runnin' this thing because I'm not nearly as insane as you are. I don't need that kind of responsibility," Skaya sighed, as she stared at the ground, "If you plan on getting into a gala on the word of a royal, you're definitely going to need to placate the one you have. Because had I known she was going to be a help and not a ransom, I wouldn't have rolled her into a rug like a cigar."

    As if to punctuate this statement, she heard someone kick the door on the other side of the raft, and she nodded toward the noise.

    "You'll have to make nice. I think, though, she's got noble character. Persistence. If she hears about what you're doing it for, she may be willing to help. Otherwise..." Skaya shrugged her shoulders. "What are you going to do with her after, anyhow? The Order is less than inclusive, and the lady there isn't going to keep her mouth shut for any amount of money."

    Leaning forward, elbows on his knees, chin in his hands, Bellmy Ryn shook his head. Sadly, almost, but also in disbelief and awe. “No, Iskaya. I’m saying the Cult of Stars has sent word to the Rocheean Order. I ain’t even supposed to be saying this… and honestly I don’t even know if I believe it myself -- but this,” Bellamy said, gesturing between the two of them and the princess in the opposite room. “This is just the beginning. It only gets more dangerous from here on out.

    “And yeah, the compound won’t keep her. They’ve made that clear. But the Order forced them into giving us shelter for three days and three nights. And we need that, especially now.”

    He hesitated, thinking on the rest of her words, absently rubbing at the dirtied stubble lining his cheeks. “Everything was happening so fast! They only gave me a week's notice that this had to be completed. They made it clear Gabranth needed to be involved. The only reason, of course, is honoring the Old Bonds but I swear if they’re setting us up, I’m damning the Order to hellia. I’ve made it clear that that isn’t to happen. Not now, not ever.”

    He took a deep breath, realizing too late he’d finally realized why he felt so anxious. Exhaling loudly, he glanced over at Iskaya, his face a myriad of emotions.

    “Regardless of whether or not you continue on with me from the Compound, the Order will see to your compensation. Those three bags were from me to you; I’m not sure what they will honor you with,” He rolled his eyes in annoyance. “Be aware when we arrive. I’m sure they have members waiting to verify our success.”

    He stood, stretched, and then motioned for the bed.

    “Rest. I’ll deal with the twins and make nice with the princess.” From within his pocket he drew the key to the door, unlocked it, and placed it in a small niche extruding from the wall.

    “You’ll probably need to make sure she hasn’t killed me by the morning, though.”

    ---​

    Once he and the twins were free from the room, he let out a great sigh and ushered the twins forward, to the end of the hall and back outside. He hadn’t expected to sleep in the carriage, but then again, he hadn’t expected the Gabranthian twins to be sent after him. With dire news, surely. He groaned again as he and the boys were stared down by the doorman. The Three Sisters didn’t take kindly to rule breakers, and they’d broken more than a few on this night alone.

    “Come.” Bellamy snapped, grabbing them both by the collar and chasing them up into the back of the carriage.

    No matter how hard he tried, it was impossible to get comfortable and not for the first time did he find himself feeling sorry for the princess he’d kidnapped. Still, his duties called for it; and so had provided. But still… Between the twins and himself, there was hardly any room. The twins leaned against each other, Tre’s head tucked under Iam’s chin. He oft forgot how young they were, even for halfbreeds that had grown up on the streets.

    “So what’ve you come to tell me?” Bellamy asked with a yawn.

    In unison the twins yawned themselves and Bells let out a small chuckle, hoping to get this over with before dawn.

    “The compound Bellamy, it was attacked by centaurs-

    “Wait, they were what?” Bellamy asked, his eyes shooting wide and panic settling in his breast.

    Attacked. They’ve moved farther into the hills, but they told us to warn you, just in case.” Iam said with sad, tired eyes. “Most everyone was okay, but some died Bells. We didn’t get to see who though,” Tre replied after a moment. “Brigya and Caleyia brought all of us to the township outside of Marbalea, then sent us after you.”

    By “us” Bellamy knew he meant the rest of the children he’d picked up over the years. The ones he “saved” from whatever fate their parent’s had left for them. With a giant sigh Bellamy covered his face with his hands and sighed in deeply, trying his best to keep his breathing calm and under control. Too much was happening though, too much laid outside of his control…

    “Get some sleep, you two. We’ve got a long way to go…”

    For the rest of the night Bellamy half-laid-half-leaned against a sack of wheat in the back of the carriage, the twins encroaching upon his personal space as sleep claimed them both. He dozed fitfully, never truly asleep, until finally, as dawn arrived, a great shudder overtook the raft and lurched the carriage forward a few feet. If it weren’t for Iskaya’s securing, the carriage would have surely rolled into the wagon behind it and caused a ripple effect that would have spelled disaster.

    A collab with @Doctor Jax


    KALVISI ESTATE

    Amat's tone and demeanor was not lost on Lore. He shifted where he sat, head ever so slightly tilting in study of the woman as she spoke in such a formal and detached manner. His fingers folded the letter back along its creases and set the broken seal where it once presided more pristinely. The wax had crumbled and cracked and stained the fibers of the page.

    "I agree," he stated. "If it is a matter of urgency, though, I feel I must leave in a more immediate time frame. I will insure you are provided a meal, however. But I do not wish to delay."

    “Then it is settled.” Amat said matter of factly. She stood, stretched her wings, and nodded. “I still have a few rosemary wraps tucked away in my flying belt. I will eat while you ready yourself and say your goodbyes.” She bowed, gathered her belongings and walked to the door the Kalvisi dolacher had shown her to.

    “I will be outside, take your time with goodbyes… The future is full of uncertainties.”


    GM NOTES

    It’s been awhile, sorry about that guys!

    A little up-to-date as I’ve bunnyed some of yall: Anuleisa and Company are at her private estate. How Persephone and Aarcon arrived is completely up to you, @Shizuochan & @BearEnthusiast, just remember the parchment! It reveals the location. As for you, @Ner0, Anne-Marie and Fen travelled to Caershire with Anuleisa. They took a carriage ride and then a short windsail ride. It’s the third night since their time together in Arora -- and they’re all summoned to the parlor.

    @Doctor Jax & @Elle Joyner - OH MAN WHAT IS HAPPENING

    @ Everyone on Amaleyia -- Basically get to the Galley. If you’d like, we can all collab on this piece, but that will take some time so if you’re interested, let’s get together! It will take about four days to get there, but since the timelines are little buggy rn, *cough* --timezones-- we’ll work around those in the next round of postings.

    Remember guys: one post every two weeks unless someone is waiting on you. As ever, if RL if being an ass, hit me up in PMs or on Discord and we’ll work things out!
     
    • Love Love x 4
  9. Kydris was lost in thought on that rail for some time before he could see Ruehar and a previously unmentioned companion ascending the same way he had. The bone he had been spinning in between his fingers slowed down with each moment the hulk of a man grew closer. Eventually, its rotations became slower and more belabored as Kydris's palpable distaste for the man corrupted what little fun he had found for himself. Eventually, the two figures were boarding the ship, and Kydris was hastily wiping his mouth with the crook of his arm lest either one call him out on it. At the same moment Kydris flicked the lamb bone over the rail, Garek approached to speak.

    “You,” Garek said with a grunt, walking up to the young elf with his arms crossed. “Kydris, right? Well look, I got shit to do, but meet me in the galley when the ship starts rolling, alright?” He pointed to the doors his strange companion had walked through. “A floor down, just take the stairs, alright? I’ll clue ya into what’s goin here soon. There ain’t no point in telling you to stay outta’ trouble, so just try not to fall, yeah? Twenty minutes and then the galley.”

    Kydris didn't bother speak (though that was terribly unlike him), and instead simply nodded to relay his understanding. It may have been early, but something about the whole situation had suddenly put him at unease. First, he had lost what little familiarity he had going into the adventure, and now he was truly alone. Moreover, he didn't trust Ruehar for a second to tell him the whole truth regardless, and that made him irritated all the more.

    Then of course there's the matter of running away from another life on another one of these floating lugs...

    The roanite paced along the side of the ship towards the rear of the craft, examining the many large wooden cargo boxes, as well as the grade and type of each lock he encountered on the way. The spry elf made a quick mental note about coming back to a few in the night when he had some privacy to work his magic. It was a couple minutes or so before he found a nice spot atop several stacked boxes to examine the deck as well as practice a bit of magic.

    Kydris closed his eyes, and allowed his pupils to rapidly trace the detail of a single playing card. It was an old trick, but for some reason it was just as cathartic as ever: with the flick of his right palm, a card suddenly materialized--its detail and color as crisp as the original--before it flew from one palm to the other. One by one, he produced and tossed each playing card from memory until a full deck sat atop the palm of his left hand.

    The exercise was hardly a labor for someone with his experience, but nonetheless he took a deep breath before sliding off the crates and wandering back in the direction of the main deck. Compulsively, the elf shuffled and tossed the cards throughout his leisurely stroll, and might've continued to do so had he not suddenly happened upon two other members of the crew.

    Startled by the sudden appearance of outsiders, Kydris's concentration on the back and forth of his cards broke and all fifty-two went fluttering past his outstretched hand and into the air. He didn't even flinch: people were his strong suit, and with an expanding grin the elf bounded forward all the while praying they weren't half so cold as Ruehar. In particular, he could barely keep his eyes off the pixie, which he had only ever heard about in the occasional story or book.

    "And 'ere I thought I was the only poor soul stuck on this godforsaken lug!"
    The elf approached with open and outstretched arms, gesturing to the barren deck around him as he joked. "Thank Ronaan I managed to find someone! Another minute and I might've gotten lost!" In typical fashion, the elf continued to deliberately babble on so as to redirect his company's attention where he needed it most. "Anyway, you two look bright enough," At that, he winked at the pixy--and wondered briefly if pixie's even had eyes--before continuing, "I was hoping one of you lot could let me know the name of your captain, and perhaps where we're heading? He was in such a rush earlier he forgot to mention it." Kydris feigned disappointment and paused for a moment, before piping back up.

    "I'm Kydris by the way. Kydris Shieldew--at your service." he gave a small bow, but kept his eyes locked intently with the half-ling as he awaited her response.

    The halfling stared up at him, smirking in bemusement. It was humorous enough that she had already stumbled across one stowaway. But-

    "'Least yer official. Other'n ain't even that." Adrianna examined him closely, squinting up dramatically as if sizing him for a fight. "That how come yer here? Offered 'yer service' to ol' Garek, too? You oughta think twice 'bout doin' that to e'ery Corn-Shucker you come 'cross. Though I ain't gonna turn down free service."

    Rhiannon sat within Addy's curly locks, arms crossed in displeasure. Her presence was generally known on the Amaleyia and save for an occasional angry rant from Garek, generally tolerated. The whole affair with Kas and the halfling downstairs had dampened her mood, and this pompous visitor addressing them in such a way hadn't done anything for it.

    The captain's name is Garek, Kydris. Please go bother him, if you must bother anyone; we have our duties to return to?

    This last she directed downwards, prodding the top of the halfling's head insistently. Addy's smile remained undimmed, however, and she ignored the prompting.

    "Actually, since yer all 'at my service' and stuff, you can do the job for me. Easier'n shellin' peanuts." She pointed to the main mast. "Jes' climb up that riggin' there'n keep an eye out for other ships'n land'n such. Tain't hard."

    Kydris opened his mouth to correct her, but be fore he could her pixy started to speak as well. This was not something Kydris knew to be possible, and though his professional posture did not betray his surprise, he found himself unable to keep his eyes off the magical creature--even after the half-ling continued on.

    Garek, hm? Best I look up this Garek Ruehar wherever we land before I let him drag me off anywhere else.
    "Actually, since yer all 'at my service' and stuff, you can do the job for me. Easier'n shellin' peanuts." The girl gestured towards the main mast. "Jes' climb up that riggin' there'n keep an eye out for other ships'n land'n such. Tain't hard."

    Kydris chuckled to himself, before relaxing his posture a bit and taking another step in their direction. It wasn't his intention to sign up for a crew position, but in his experience half-lings didn't often have that much experience with niceties.​

    Typical.
    "I'm afraid I'm not much of a ship-hand. You see, whoever this Garek character is, he more or less told me to meet him in the galley when the ship takes off. From what I've seen so far--and given where I am--he's not a fellow I want to disobey." Kydris gave the girl a small smile and a wink before adding, "Well, at least not yet." Though he had at first dismissed the offer, Kydris found that as he spoke he could not keep his eyes off the mast. After-all, he did enjoy a challenge every now and then.

    The elf paused and took a step back, as if to leave. His common sense told him not to, but the other part of him--the part that most often made things interesting--pulled him towards the mast.

    Kydris's lip curled into a curious smile, and then to himself more than anyone else he said, "That being the case, I suppose we aren't off the ground yet." The Roanite spun around on his heels to face his company.

    "Do you fancy yourself much of a gambler, miss?"

    What a weird question.

    "Nah, not 'specially. 'Sides the fact that I don't got much to my name anyhow, 'taint never struck me as much fun, lettin' somethin' else decide what happens." Adrianna put a finger to her nose and winked knowingly. "Only gamble with my life, honey."

    The pixy rolled her eyes, the expression vaguely odd on a creature that should have been primarily mischievous. Suddenly she blinked and turned to look to the elf, eyes narrow and head cocked.

    Why does Garek want to meet you? Rhiannon inquired, her delicate voice managing to find its way to Kydris' ear in spite of its necessarily low volume.

    Kydris heard Adrianna somewhere in the back of his mind, but he had already moved to the base of the mast and begun to size it up and down. The elf gently tugged at the rigging, his gaze dancing along the curves of the taught rope for reference. It appeared to him to be just as easy as the half-ling girl had suggested, and so he planted one foot on the lowest ratline, and grasped a thick rope shroud with his left hand.

    He continued to size up mess of rigging (which was little more than an adult climbing wall in his mind) while the pixie questioned him, and it wasn't until both had said their piece--and after he had wholly given himself to the idea--that he bothered to reply.

    "Don't know what he wants little pixie girl--and I couldn't care less."
    Kydris gave the taught rope a yank for good measure before continuing to speak, this time turning over his shoulder to face the fluttering creature. "Like I said before, he's expecting me soon enough and I assume he'll fill me in then." Kydris's eyes lit up as they met Adrianna's, and he felt confident he had her.

    "You say you haven't much to your name, eh? Well as it happens I've recently come into a bit of cash. What say we have a bit of a game, eh? A race to that there crow's nest, and the winner nets ten orks for the climb." Kydris's tone slipped into a faux-sultry mix, and he stepped off the ratline and towards the two of them. "I know you said you weren't much of a gambler, but surely this isn't a gamble for someone as seasoned as yourself. 'Sides, I'm good for it." The elf pulled a couple orks from behind him, and let them dance across his fingers for a moment, before waiting patiently for a response.

    'Pixy girl'?! Rhiannon's face grew red in spite of the green tint of her skin, and she stood up indignantly, raising her voice to yell at the elf with as much volume as her tiny frame could manage. Listen here, you-

    "Tellin' me yer good at a thing you wanna bet on ain't a good way to get me int'rested. Maybe yer a sight better'n me. Maybe ya ain't." Addy grinned broadly, pointing first to the crow's nest and then toward a door on the ship. The room it led to was topped with a small thin smokestack, and a wispy trail of black from a wood fire curled out of it. "You git to yer job 'til ol' Garek hollers at ya. The two of us'll be gettin' fatter'n a turkey before Win'er Solstice."

    The halfling turned and strutted off, giving Kydris not a moment's further attention and utterly forgetting that she'd not actually introduced herself to him. For her part, Rhiannon sat down in a huff, but just before they entered the galley, she turned her head with a mischievous smile. There was a snap of tiny green fingers, and to Kydris it would seem as though there were a sudden howl, like the roar of an incoming gale. Following that, it'd seem like he were being buffeted by a tremendous wind. It'd continue its violence, only ending once Kydris reached either the deck or the crow's nest.

    The galley door closed on her snicker. For all her sternness and somber spirit, Rhiannon was still a pixy; even she could resist a bit of fun at the gambler's expense.

    Kydris was mildly confused: if anything, he had done his best to bolster her confidence. Apparently she didn't catch that much. The elf's happy smile pulled into a taught line as he realized she just simply wasn't biting.

    This half-ling's a good deal more oblivious than I imagined...

    "You git to yer job 'til ol' Garek hollers at ya. The two of us'll be gettin' fatter'n a turkey before Win'er Solstice." Kydris's eyes narrowed as he tried to make sense of her thick accent, but just the switch flipped in his mind, she was already on her way. "Wait-" Kydris raised one hand in protest, but she had already made her way towards the galley and it became evident none of his words would be able to stop her. Though he had just ate, the young elf was already characteristically famished. He had half a mind to go after her now that there was no risk--no chance at a bonus for his troubles.

    The problem of course was that Kydris was incapable of turning down a challenge--especially if he was the one who issued it. After all, the spry elf liked to test his own ego from time to time. This desire, combined with the fact that he yearned to see the view from the crow's nest for himself, was enough to draw his attention back to the climb. Some measure of common sense tugged at him to abandon his gallivanting, but his mind had been made. After all, he had promised his services to the girl--metaphorical or otherwise--and he did mean to keep his word.

    Alright, let's see if I've still got it...

    With a quick lurch, the agile boy scrambled up several ratlines at once, before using the momentum to continue weaving through the shrouds. Far above him, Kydris saw the greatest challenge: the futtock shrouds at the base of the nest that he would need to climb upside-down at a 45 degree angle in order to properly traverse. He licked his lips with glee, and confidently continued onward all the while imagining the futtock shrouds to be the only true challenge to his personal mission.

    How wrong he was. The elf had made it up ten feet or so of rope when suddenly a strange sort of daze came about him. Loosely, the elf hung onto the ropes with one hand, and rubbed the bridge of his nose with the other. As soon as the wave of discomfort hit him, it vanished again but just as he regained control of the rigging, a new problem made itself apparent. His eyes widened with tremendous fear as rolling black clouds descended over the sky line like a blanket of frothing, obsidian rage. Kydris turned around to climb back down, but just as soon as he did, a screeching howl pierced the depths of his mind. The elf found himself compulsively trying to cover his ears with his forearms, but just so soon as the bellowing gale passed, did the onslaught begin in earnest.

    A horrible wind appeared to take hold of all the rigging then, as the shrouds seemed to whip about him wildly in the air. It took everything he had just to keep his vision straight; the elf clenched his jaw and closed his eyes for a moment, and though he himself felt strangely centered, the world around him was naught but chaos when he opened his eyes again.

    "Half-ling?! Pixie! ANYONE?!"

    Kydris huffed and howled, winding his grasp tightly within the rigging. There wasn't a soul to be seen on the deck below to hear his cries, and the elf knew in that moment that either he was going to climb to safety or be thrashed about in the violent winds around him. Somewhere below, he heard a loud crashing sound, and witnessed whole crates begin to slide and tumble in every which way. Not wanting to fall into the chaos of the deck below, the Roanite made up his mind in that moment to summit as opposed to backing down, despite the longer travel time.

    Not today, not like this. You're getting up there

    Kydris let loose a cry and lurched upwards again. The winds did not seem to cease, however, for as he moved so too did the rigging: a whole section seemed to be buffeted so extremely that it came loose altogether. Kydris watched in mute horror as an entire section of the rope tore free from its place and sent a hail of wooden ratlines and coiled rope into the ether. A single solitary tear ran down the boy's face as he imagined himself thrown so callously to the beyond, but only for a moment did he allow his fears to halt his progress. If anything, horror of facing his own imminent demise propelled him faster along the slanted net, each grasp stronger and more willful than the last. He could see the futtock shrouds emerge from the chaos not twenty feet above him, and he pressed on despite the increasing tempo of the gale.

    Indeed, as he approached the elf felt his progress slowing as he constantly found himself ducking and dodging the hail of debris and unhinged rigging that rained down upon him like a fury of some lost storm god. Indeed, Kydris found himself looking between the crow's nest and the skies above as he wondered what great insult he had perpetrated against the divines to be tested so.

    "WHY?! WHY NOW?!" The elf cried maddeningly into the whirling storm around him, his throat instantly raw from the severity in his voice. His strength faltered, but he continued to pull himself up one ratline at a time. The fullocks were not far, and though he now believed the storm strong enough to topple the entire mast, Kydris saw this final push as an act of defiance in the face of whatever callous divinity sought his demise.

    Suddenly, he heard a slow ripping sound and watched in mute horror as a large tear now cut into the right side of the mesh and split the space just a foot above him in two. The tear seemed to continue all across the rigging until it looked as though Kydris would somehow have to cross a five to six foot vertical leap just to get close to the next ratline.

    Push dammit! Not here!

    With a strength he didn't know himself to be capable of, the elf grasped two planks just above the top of his head, and brought both feet upwards so that he could tuck them on the ratline just beneath his chest. Perched like a frog, the Roanite said a silent prayer, eyed the seemingly impossible leap, and took a final deep breath before lurching forward across the abyss. As he made a full arc, it looked as though he had undershot it by a mile, and the child shut his eyes and braced himself for the fall. There was none, however, as his hands met the next ratline with seeming ease despite the storm.


    How in the world didn't I miss that...?

    Kydris looked over his shoulder, and sure enough the torn bottom-half of the rigging seemed to peel away into the chaos of the storm behind him. Were he to have waited a moment longer, he might've gone with it. Flabbergasted, the elf continued to push onward, now invigorated by his apparent immortality. Never had he faced danger of that kind, and yet now he knew with all his heart that he was born for it. Confidently, the elf grasped for another perch, and another until he was just below the fullock shrouds. It was the last challenge before he would make it to the top, and at least from up there he could watch the storm destroy them all with some semblance of pride. It felt like a hundred years ago that he had once proposed to make a race of the climb, and oh how foolish a younger him would seem to the elf now.

    The Roanite took a small pause to close his eyes and remember what was important to him--indeed he even let loose of one of his handholds to gently caress the scar under his eye and shed another tear for the family he had once dreamed of finding again. Alas, if the ship was going to go down before it could even take off, then Kydris would accomplish one last feat. The elf sized up the angled climb above him. If he tried it, there was a good chance that the same chaos that seemed to be tearing apart the rigging would tear him off of the fullock shrouds as well.


    Neigh, screw the climb. One last leap.

    The elf's eyes traced the rope lines above him and settled on the circular rail upon which they all eventually met. With one last deep breath, Kydris kicked off the side of the rigging and leapt backwards and upwards all at once, sailing through what he perceived to be miles of dead air before desperately grabbing the rail with both hands, and holding fast as the rest of his body continued to swing outwards. In the howling gale, he struggled to pull himself up and over the line--indeed every inch felt like it took a hundred years to gain as his body continued to slide and shift across the top of the now-slippery rigging. His frazzled mane obscured all but his left eye and one part of his bloodied snarl as he crawled ever closer to the crow's nest. It was before him now, and the bruised elf reached a single exhausted hand outwards, clasping the edge of the next at the same moment that he heard yet another cracking sound beneath him.

    The mast seemed to be collapsing from a break somewhere far below, and his vision shifted as the whole tower seemed to start leaning rightward. Kydris remained unphased now that he was at peace with his fate, and though one mistep would mean toppling off of the side of the mast, he crawled up and over the rim of the nest, his eyes closing for one last time as he expected his imminent doom to come forth and take him. Curled into a fetal position at the base of the nest, the elf let loose one last small smile of satisfaction as he awaited oblivion.

    The same weird feeling of discomfort flashed somewhere behind his eyes briefly, and when he opened them again the sky was as blue as he had ever seen it. There was no wind, nor howling gale. The torrent of hurled debris had somehow dissipated. Most of all, Kydris no longer felt himself sitting at a precarious angle, and indeed when he peeked tentatively over the side of the crow's nest he was stunned yet again. All the crates below him seemed to be set in place much the same as they had been before. The rigging was not just back in one piece, but just as secure and well-built as it had been when he started his climb.

    A sneaking suspicion began to formulate in the back of the conjuror's mind. Somewhere above him, a bird cawed softly and far below the ship he could just barely make out the din of the busy streets of Lyf. Otherwise everything else remained silent but for a slight breeze that ruffled his already-frazzled hair. Kydris pulled himself into a seat and chuckled. He wasn't very good at it, but Kydris did practice his new friends' preferred magic in a highly limited capacity. A small, blurred image of a elven figure flickered briefly into existence in the palm of his open hand, but quickly struggled to maintain its form before sputtering out of existence. Though maybe it was meant to dissuade him from further advances, it only made the duo evermore interesting to the conjuror, and in that moment he couldn't help but feel a begrudging respect for a con done well.

    "Goddam Illusionists."

    ***

    Sometime later, after another five or so minutes of the elf trying to stretch his own illusion magic with little success, the Roanite made his way back down the rigging on a considerably shorter venture than the one he perceived while he ascended. If he had fallen, he might've winded himself and been banged up, but he probably was never in any life-threatening danger. For that he at least was a bit grateful.

    Kydris moved in the direction of the door Garek had pointed him to originally. When he descended below deck, it took him a minute or two to find the door to the galley. Something about going inside was off-putting to him. At first he wondered if perhaps he was afraid to face the two tricksters who had played him, but it was something else. He would shrug it off and move inside shortly afterwards, but in time Kydris would understand that moment to be the very second he threw away his old life for another.

    As he slipped inside, the elf cleaned up his frazzled hair as best he could, and took a seat next to Garek. He gave the shipmaster a small nod of acknowledgement before waiting to be addressed.
     
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  10. To speak of Caerdean was to speak of prosperity, to speak of the sons and daughters of the greatest amongst all who had ever lived. To speak of Caerdean, then, was to speak of eternal jealousy and envy, for Aarcon was of Lecara, not Caerdean. The Lecyrian strode through the streets towards Anu’s location, Ruven at his side; his seasoned protector was gawking. Indeed, Lyf was impressive in its own way, with a hustle and bustle that rivalled Caerdean, but ‘impressive’ was the foundation that Caerdean was built upon.

    The High Towers overlooked the Orcosean waters with an audacious conceit, and the people… even the lowest of the low in Caerdean knew that their home was a place of power. Thusly, even the beggars - in their famished ways - had a strength, a haughty energy about them. And the Skyport, Aarcon noted, was what perpetually drew Ruven’s eye. Aarcon was not so earthly and primitive as the Lecyrians that preceded him, but, yes, even he found the Skysails to be an incredible monument to arrogance. An arrogance that, as it turned out, was justified; men and women of Caerdean rode the storms.

    In books, Caerdean was the beacon of the Orcosi North, though then again, the word ‘beacon’ was crafted for so much, but in truth meant so little. In Aarcon’s most relevant experiences, it was a place of lovely galas, and a delightful kingdom for the powerful to gather. Aarcon was eminently cognisant that neither view was comprehensive. Still, objectivity was difficult when it came to Caerdean, for Aarcon was of Lecara, and furthermore, Aarcon was a Consul.

    It is in the nature of diplomats, politicians and consuls, many posit, to hold themselves above all others. Some school of thoughts, in truth, consider it necessary. Fundamentally, a diplomat and a politician hold the livelihoods of others hostage within their spoken word or their written signature. Thus, to craft an air of normality, of being amongst the common class - in some minds - was tantamount to cardinal sin, a detrimental falsehood of the profession. Therefore, Aarcon had learned that while he must forever work for the well-being of the citizens of Lecara, he could never consider them to be ‘equal’.

    And if Aarcon was taught not even to see a Lecyrian as an equal, what of a man or woman from Caerdean?

    There was but one that Aarcon would offer his most genuine respect.

    “My lady Anuleisa,” Aarcon pained himself to bow, “I stand ready, willing and able to serve.”
     
    #30 Shizuochan, Jun 22, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2017
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  11. Half Pints & Sass Masters

    Her chest was puffed as she exited Garek’s room. She always felt prideful when she was needed. Kastyln loved the sense of accomplishment, the thrill of being the best person, the very best person for a task, and then blowing the expectations out of the water. First, though, her guest.

    She walked back to the room and barged in as if she were about to break down the door. “Grin!” She announced with the biggest of grins on her face as she lowered her goggles from the top of her head onto her eyes. “We got a job ta do.”

    He was currently shining his blades when she burst in. His eyes darted over to her. “Do we realleh’, or is it somethin’ you made up, dear heart? “ He paused. “Am I about to get in trouble with Garek?”

    She promptly ignored his flirts, a little bit too excited to either brush him off or get flustered over it. “In trouble? No! Well. Damn, I hope not. Eh. Don’ worry. I won’ let him touch ya. And if ya help me out, he’ll be just as inclined not to throw ya over the edge. I’m s’posed to round up the crew on the galley in fifteen. Help me yell at ‘em.”

    Kas adjusted her goggles and turned around, marching out of the room with fierce determination, expecting him to follow.

    “I’m supposed to help yah yell at people I dunno. Right, this’ll go well.” Grin frowned. He slid his blades back into his belt. “At least I’ll be capable of defendin’ myself if someone has a problem with halflin’s, because someone always has a problem.”

    “Nah. Yer fine. And there ain’t gonna be no need for ya to defend yerself, because I’ll have already kicked ‘em in the nuts.” She said with a shrug, and as they passed a door, she rasied her hand to bang on it. “Galley in fifteen!” She shouted, and kept on going. “If ya can do some work for the ship, help out the crew, ’m sure Garek won’t be opposed. ‘Specially if I put in a good word for ya.Which I, of course, will.””

    “Remind me to nevar make yah mad. My nuts far more accessible than any tall-ling’s are.” Grin adjusted his pants. He followed her as she made her way down the hall, banging on doors, and making the denizens of the room scramble for pants or the like to be presentable. Though, he smiled when she said she’d put in a good word for him. “You’re probably the only one that’d everah do et.” He hovered behind her like a shadow. He didn’t quite have the stature and fist circumference to make the doors shake like she did. “I’m sure I can do somethin’. I mean does Garek need pants charmed off of thengs? I can do that, easy. Otherwise, I’m quite handy with a blade. Oh. I can also cook. And cook from sparse ingredients, too.”

    Kas laughed as she continued to pause and bang on every individual door. “Don’ worry yerself, Grin. Really,” She said, pausing to look back at him with a sparkle in her eye. “Garek won’t be minding yer presence one bit. I’ll make sure of that.”

    She kicked another door. “Meetin’ at the galley in fifteen! In fifteen minutes, get yer arse in the galley!”

    ”Quite right, because I’m quite glad he’s alright with me starin’ in on his crewmen while they scramble from sheer fear of you, Dear Heart,” Grin said, smiling. “Literally, every time you scare a man, I fall more in love with yah. Tall-lings assertin’ dominance over other tall-lings is the stuff of halfin’ legend. We all assume it’s some height monarchy. Glad to report it is not.” He kneeled somewhat humorously, though not entirely so. “Will you be marryin’ me soon, Kas?”

    Laughter came first, but then a shocked expression fell upon her face as she stopped her trek through the halls entirely. She stared at him wide eyed as he fell upon his knees, and then after pulling herself out of the stupor, she laughed once more.

    “Funny, Grin. Hella funny.” She said, and stepped up to another door. “Galley in FIFTEEN!” She shouted, and pounded on the door so hard she punched a hole through it.

    “Uh…” She mumbled, stepping back. Then, raising her voice, she glanced around the hallway worriedly. “Toan… yeah, Toan.. why’d ya punch the door?” And then she rubbed her knuckles gingerly. “Let’s go, Grin.” She huffed, and didn’t dare turn to look back at him.

    collab with @Tyrannosaurus Rekt
     
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  12. Her eyes were fixed forward; the steady rhythm of footsteps from behind the only distraction from her current task. The Lady Caerdean had requested both Anne and Fenn’s presence in the parlor that evening. In all honesty Anne was disappointed that she would miss what had become her nightly routine over the past few days. The time she had spent at The Descendant’s Estate thus far had been beneficial and, to Anne at the very least, enjoyable.


    Upon Anne’s request The Lady had permitted herself and Fenn use of a sparring arena. In fact, it had been The Lady’s personal arena. Fenn had surprised Anne with his aptitude. He took victory in the first match, however it was her that took a two to one victory in the session. She made a point of mentioning her delight at his skill and tenacity following the session. Despite this however, the greatest honor of that day had been The Lady’s choice to personally view the session. While her presence had stirred a ripple of nerves within Anne, The eyes of The Descendant herself gave Anne motivation more than anything. The thought of that particular feeling worried Anne, secretly a part of her hoped The Lady had not misjudged that behavior. She did not wish to be seen as a boot-licker.


    The walk to the parlor seemed to drag longer than she had anticipated. Her mind wandered once more in an effort to stay that feeling. Perhaps the most exciting discovery of this journey had been the interest she and Fenn shared. Anne had been exposed to his story telling briefly when they had first been stationed together, but that experience did not compare to the past few days. Her and the greennork had shared tales from their respective childhood almost nightly over the past few days. While his stories were fascinating in their own right, Anne was most relieved to finally have someone to tell her old soldier’s tales too.


    Most exhilarating of all had been her chance to tell the tale of ‘Blorg and Sir Macoth’ on the evening just prior, while Anne knew not how the tale ended, she rather enjoyed creating her own ending with each new telling of it. To her it had given the story a unique freshness that had stayed with her over the years.


    Outside of these nightly sessions Anne had ensured that herself and Fenn retained a strictly professional relationship. She often found herself stressing the importance of discipline while on duty. Not due to any lack of the trait within her subordinate, but more in practice of maintaining a status quo. The two were foreign soldiers and as such she was taking excessive care to ensure that they did not offend their host. A tang of worry struck Anne’s gut as she thought of Queensburg and her Lord. She had meant to send word via courier upon their arrival to The Descendant’s estate. The letter would have reported both the success of their mission and their need for further orders but she had ultimately decided against sending it at all. Anne shook her head at herself. Her instructions had been to serve The Lady Caerdean. She would do that until instructed by The Lady to do otherwise. She had felt it that night in some regard. It was on this night that the feeling had evolved into surety however, there had been a sense of finality to Lord Albere’s orders. In spite of that she couldn’t shake some sense of guilt. ‘Perhaps I should send that letter.’ She thought briefly to herself before once again shaking the thought. Anne knew that she needed to focus on the needs of The Descendant at this time, and so she steeled herself to do just that.


    Finally the archway that lead to the parlor became visible. With The sound of Fenn’s footsteps still behind her, she crossed under the threshold. “My lady Anuleisa, I stand ready, willing and able to serve.” The voice came from a Lecyrian Elf that Anne had seen entering the room moments before herself and Fenn.


    Without checking if Fenn would follow suit and ensuring that she had waited for the Lecyrian to finish, Anne fell to one knee herself. “And I, Lady Caerdean, at the behest of my own lord, pledge to serve to my dieing breath.”
     
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  13. Alora Fortune

    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    Alora did not sleep well, despite being perfectly exhausted. The bunk was small and uncomfortable, and the cabin rocked back and forth with a rhythm that make her empty stomach twist into knots. Her nerves were frayed, her mind roiling with the information that her captor, Bellamy, had given her. It wasn't something, frankly, she had ever thought she would need to consider, but it was certainly an intriguing idea. There wasn't much that Alora wouldn't do, to keep her brother off the throne, but she wasn't a revolutionary... she wasn't even very brave.

    Somewhere in the night, or perhaps it was early morning, she had drifted off, but it was a short-lived slumber, when the rocking rhythm of the raft was suddenly and definitively knocked off balance by a rather jarring lurch. Alora was rolled from the bunk quite forcefully and hit the floor of the cabin with a smack, giving a small startled cry.

    The table and chairs smashed into the wall, and with a splintering crash, a pitcher toppled, but it was the sound directly ahead of her that drew Alora's attention from the chaos... The perceptible click of the lock. She moved, before she'd even realized she was doing it and had the door open in seconds. That, however, was the end of the swiftness... for as she stepped into the hallway, it was with an air of tentative fear. Doors. All she could see were doors, and doors meant choices - potentially dangerous choices.

    Banking as much courage as she could, she stepped towards the door closest to her and holding her breath, she twisted the knob.

    Panic… It was an unusual feeling for an automaton to experience. The Baron walked down the extended hall, checking on his charges, knowing that the Doorman would be seeing to everyone outside. Door by door, room by room… He checked each and every one. The damages were minimal; a few charges had received cuts and bruises, but thankfully those would heal. The rooms however, would need an upgrading he’d barely be able to afford.

    The Baron turned, to exit the empty room but as he did the door swung open and he was face to face with another one of his charges. But who was she? And why was she entering a room she hadn’t paid for? The already taut skin around his eyes pulled into a frown as he stared down at the woman.

    “And who are you, young one?” The Baron asked calmly, his voice a soft whir of mechanisms.

    With a squeal, Alora took a staggering step away from the man on the other side of the door, and tripping over the train of her dress, she toppled onto her backside, staring up with wide, frightened eyes, “I’m sorry! I… I thought maybe it was the way out.”

    “The way out, hmm. No, this is just a room.”

    The Baron and his whir of a voice was unlike anything the young Gabranthian would have heard before. And yet, even with the taut skin and frowning expression, he didn’t exude any ill will. He took a step forward and extended his hand, intending to help the woman to her feet.

    “The Three Sisters are angry, my dear. I shall escort you to your companions. I assume you have them, of course, young women like yourself rarely ever travel alone. Who’re with, mayhaps I even know them?”

    The words hung heavy on her tongue as she considered her circumstance, taking the outstretched hand to pull herself upright. Bellamy had seemed decent enough, the last time they had spoken, but there was no question that her procurement had not been consensual.Yet inexplicably, she hesitated.

    “...I… His name is Bellamy.” She finally said, lamely.

    “Bellamy Ryn?” The Baron inquired, his eyebrows rising into his unusual hairline. He made an odd noise, one that started from the bottom of his throat. It almost sounded like a snort.

    “We should put you somewhere safe then, hm? Follow me, deary. But first, was Iskaya with him?”

    "Iskaya? She... she's that terribly impatient creature?" Alora asked, her cheeks flooding with color as she lowered her gaze, "I'm sorry. I don't mean to speak ill of her, if she's a friend of yours." It was difficult, after all, to have much consideration for someone who willingly wrapped you up in a rug.

    An odd, deep whirring laughter came from the Baron. He glanced at the young woman in mirth, his whirring noises lasting down the hall. Her correction marked her as a Lady, if not something more. He took one last glance and decided to tread carefully. Knowing Bellamy, this woman could be the princess herself. Her features marked her as an obvious Gabranthian, that much he knew true. Still, cautious movements were his preferred method of action.

    “In here.” The Baron said, opening the door to his room at the very end of the hall.

    His room was twice as large as hers had been and separated haphazardly there within. A large circular table, made of local hardwood trees dominated the space. Stacked on top of it were odd instruments and piles of parchments and scrolls. To the left was a curtained off space, likely hiding a bed and personal belongings. To the right were comfortable chairs and a covered brazier that warmed the space. But nothing was impressive as the view.

    The Baron’s room was situated at the very front of the raft. Where the left and right walls met the front, the wood took on a transparency unlike anything seen. The raft was stuck against a boulder that seemed out of place in the center of the river. Along the bank lines, centaurs prowled, and the Baron glared at them anxiously.

    If you were to stand close enough, one would be able to see the outside and the grain of the wood simultaneously. It hurt the eyes… but it was magic at it’s finest.

    “Please, sit.” The Baron instructed, extending his arm to the sitting lounge. “I will find Iskaya and Bellamy. There is no room safer than mine…”

    “Safer…” Alora murmured, as she moved to settle into the proffered chair. She certainly didn’t feel safe. Peering through the transparent space ahead of her, she followed the Baron’s gaze and instead of sitting, came closer to the paneling, her eyes trained on the figures outside, “Are those…” Swallowing, she stepped back, turning around to face the odd stranger, “Are we safe? Can… can they see in?”

    “No, they cannot see in. It’s a nifty spell, hm?” The Baron smiled proudly, if for but a moment. “Yes, my dear, those are centaurs. Somehow they’ve managed to place a large boulder in the middle of the Three Sisters… And they are angry.”

    The Baron gave a half bow and motioned to the door. “I will retrieve Iskaya. She’s an acquaintance… though I will relay the information that she can be a tad much.

    Retreating through the door, memories of the entry logs filtered through his mind and he quickly positioned himself in front of one of the rooms Bellamy Ryn had bought. He knocked twice and then spoke the name of room’s inhabitant.

    Skaya was used to the anger of the Three Sisters, and so she had not so much as stirred when they hit the boulder. If there was anything she’d learned, it was that you should always get sleep when you could afford it, and the Baron was second to none when it came to safe transport. However, she was well attuned to listen out for her name, especially with the twins in tow -- as much as she played that she disliked the two, she’d not let harm come to them. Bells liked them too much.

    She rolled out of bed and swiftly walked to the door, opening it.

    “Oh,” she said. “It’s you. What is it?”

    “The raft is being attacked. I have your charge… I believe, within my room. Until I can find Bellamy and ensure the rest of the crew’s safety, I’d like you to stay with her.”

    The Baron gave a half bow and ushered Iskaya forward, away from the exit and straight towards the door that led to his room. “If you will follow me…”

    With a silent groan, Iskaya did follow in tow, letting the automaton lead her towards the room where Alora no doubt waited. It was probably centaurs -- again. They never knew what was good for them. She doubted that any harm would come to the barge, seeing as the Baron was always well equipped to handle challenges, but better safe than sorry…

    Opening the door with his right hand, he beckoned Iskaya forward and then pointed towards the sitting chairs. “Make yourselves comfortable, please. I shall return momentarily.”

    As the door opened again, Alora straightened upon the sight of the woman called Iskaya. Visibly, her shoulders tensed, and her cheek sucked in ever so slightly as Alora bit down on her lip, in apparent anxiety. This was, after all, the same woman who had threatened on more than one occasion to gag her, if she spoke…

    With a flicker of her eyes to the rug on the floor, she looked up again, swallowing, “...Morning.”

    Iskaya’s expression didn’t change as she walked in and stood closest to the clear wall.

    “More like night. But morning to you as well,” Iskaya said, managing to summon a pleasantry.

    Folding her hands neatly in her lap, Alora nodded, before breathing out a soft response, “Indeed.”
    .

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  14. THE PARLOR

    “You all may sit.” Anulesia chimed melodically. The events prior rejuvenated her spirits against the dark tides to come and it was visible in her hazel green eyes. “There are many things to discuss, many a things to contemplate.”

    She gestured again at the plush chaises within the parlor and once everyone was seated, poured a glass of Oma for each guest. Everyone outside of Persephone, who already held a glass, personally received one from the Heir of RoNaan. When Anu was seated once again, she sighed softly and began.

    “I’m unaware if any of you have attended previous Springtime Galas, but if I had to surmise them, I’d say they’ve all been frivolous disasters. They do nothing for the realm except strengthen the hatred and rivalries between countries. If all goes well, I hope to step past these transgressions and return the Galas to what they were originally intended to be.

    “There are like minded fellows across the Sylphaerian Straights and we’ve concocted a… stirring plot to ensure our desires of unification. Now, more than ever, the countries we represent need to come together in finality against the brewing darkness. ”

    Anuleisa took a sip of Oma before continuing. “It’s late,” She mused with a soft smile. Despite the comment, Anu settled deeper into her chaise, eyes alight. “Before you depart, I have a few more things to inform you of. The skybarge that will be ferrying us to Marbalea will arrive in three days time. And… I have a task for each of you. I myself will see to the costs of everything, but it’s pertinent that they’re retrieved and unfortunately, there are certain tasks that I’m unable to delegate that require my attention.”

    She nodded towards the tray of Oma where four small scrolls waited to be opened. Their names, scratched in a slanted hand and brown ink, faced upwards. Anuleisa gestured towards them. Fen was the first to stand and retrieve his scroll. He frowned softly as he read it, but ultimately nodded and squared his shoulders, determination set in his jaw.

    “Care to visit me before you depart, Fen.”

    “I will, my lady.” He replied softly, standing up and bowing before taking his leave.



    IN THE SKY ABOVE LYF

    By the time Garek reached the galley, most of the crew was crammed inside the low-ceiling rectangular room. There were even a few faces he didn’t immediately recognize. The gruff captain leaned against a nearby post and scratched his head before speaking.

    “Most of you have been on Amaleyia for years… It’s been my home just as much as yours. But we’ve been employed by someone more recognizable than any we’ve had on board before. And I believe this is going to cause trouble. In the case that something does happen, I need this barge shiny, I need her flyin’ smooth and capable of defending herself.

    “The Heir of RoNaan,” Garek began slowly, listening to a few sharp intakes of breath from those seated in the back. “Has hired our crew to deliver her entourage to Marbalea and the Springtime Galas.”

    “Ugh.” Kas moaned from her spot in the corner. “Just great.”

    Garek ignored his niece’s comment and glanced over at the conjurer, “She’s the one who sent me after you, kid. Why in RoNaan’s name she wants to give you a proposition is lost on me, but you’ll treat her and this barge with respect while yer on it. This isn’t the best of circumstances, I can imagine, but it sure as hell beats Eadrus.”

    With a shrug Garek pulled out his leather book and flicked through a few pages. There was so much left to do…

    “I want this ship lookin’ shiny. Everyone has maintenance duties except Keev and Spire. Y’all can get back down to the engines. The crew is dismissed, y’all know what you have to do.”

    As the crew filed out of the galley, he spoke to the halfling he recently hired and the conjurer sitting not too far away. “Kas and Toan will be overseeing the task I have for you two. There are three storage crates that need to be sorted through and brought down below to inventory. Think you can handle that? Yeah? Well head up there, Toan will be waiting. I need to speak with Kas… and her friend.”



    THE THREE SISTERS

    Mayhem broke loose upon the Three Sisters raft. Cries of distress seeped through the spelled wood and even Iskaya and Alora would be able to hear it. The cause of the screaming could be seen through the viewport; more and more centaurs were arriving, littering the western shoreline in an undulating horde. Outside, Bellamy jumped from the carriage and noticed that a few centaurs were notching their bows, already aiming at the raft.

    Just as they took flight a deep growl of a spell emanated from the Baron and the air itself ripped with magic. Where the arrows met the disturbance, they quivered in unison and then fell to the rushing waters below. He knew from experience that the spell wouldn’t last long…

    Bellamy turned his head away from the gathering horde as nearby shouts turned from panic to anger. Near the back of the raft, three men and the Doorman were chest-to-chest, arguing over what seemed to be the ramp. Acting on instinct, Bells shot his head back inside the carriage and told the twins to hide behind the barrels and wait until he returned.

    Then he shot off towards the rooms. The Baron halted him first, grabbed him by the shoulders with a firm grip. In a clipped whirling voice he told him that both Iskaya and Alora were in his room and without sparing another second, Bells dashed down the hall and started banging on the door.

    “Iskaya!” He shouted. “Alora! Open the door!”

    When the door opened, he grabbed both girls and almost sprinted back the way he came. He promised he’d play nice with the princess… But he didn’t stop to explain and quite literally dragged them out into the madness. When they reached the wagon, Bellamy started unknotting the ropes to both wagon and horses, eyes roving the raft every few seconds. “Iskaya, I need you to take the twins and Alora to the township outside of Marbalea! The compound has been compromised, that’s why they were sent after us.”

    He rigged the horses to the front of the cart and handed her the reins. As he suspected, the Doorman succumbed and was lowering the ramp onto the eastern shoreline. “The compound was attacked by centaurs, and Skaya, people were killed. Whatever this is, it’s no normal attack. Get them to safety, please. I need to stay here, I owe a debt to the Sisters but I’ll meet you before dark, I swear!”

    And then they were being buffeted around by the occupants of the raft. Bellamy snaked a hand around Alora’s wrist lest they be separated and urged Skaya up into the driver's seat. A line of carriages were being herded off the raft and theirs was caught along the current of people and carts. The horses started forward on their own accord.

    A sudden lurch against the western side of the raft had them all clinging to something sturdy and the horses, not liking the unsteadiness beneath their hooves, neighed and whined, surging towards the ramp. Slowly, it seemed, though everything was happening quickly, their carriage neared the edge.

    “Please take care of them!” Bells called out, fighting the tide of people that were running past. He reached for Alora, intending to sweep her upwards into the front of the carriage, but another wave hit the side of the raft and the carriage lurched forward. The horses took off down the ramp and onto solid ground. Surrounded by people, carts, and carriages, Iskaya had no choice but to leave the two behind and carry onward.

    His slip on Alora would waver and without the carriage as a guardrail, they both toppled forward. Bellamy managed to keep his footing but his momentum had traveled to Alora and she was dangerously close to falling. Acting on instinct, Bells reached out and grabbed the only thing he could; the front of her dress.

    -​

    Lady Amabelle and her entourage rode in a massive carriage, pulled by six horses that by the look of their golden coloring, weren’t native to the area. They were riding to Marbalea after having traveled through Gabranth. Guards and soldiers flanked the carriage while they rode along the Carved Road. Relatively straight and wide, the Carved Road would lead right into the capital.

    From atop the ridge, Lady Amabelle watched with bated breath at what was taking place on the river. She called forth a handful of her knights and soldiers and spoke to them all astride a golden mare.

    “Escort those people to safety! No matter what transpires you will refrain from attacking; this is not our land… But we can still do what’s right and protect who we’re able!”



    THE GATES OF SYLORAH

    Lore's parting was with great reluctance before setting off with Amat. He was leaving behind more than just his books and material things, but his entire life and comfort. His father ceremoniously adorned him in the heirloom armor regaling stories of his own walk while his mother offered one last warm embrace. It was time for him to grow and further himself.

    "Lead the way," he said to Amat as he walked to her side.

    Amat finished the last of her stretches as Lore Kalvisi made his way towards her. He wore armor similar to Noma's and she nodded approvingly.

    "It suits you." Amat remarked calmly. Then she nodded to the skies around them. "It is a long flight. It will take three sunsets, two if we stop only once. For now, we'll fly until it's dark."

    She took a few paces forward and said a prayer before stretching her wings and taking to the air. Amat glanced back once, to see if Lore had done the same, and then flew south.

    Lore spared one last glance towards his home. Over two hundred years he had spent in its halls and now he would be leaving all that familiarity behind. He almost wished his parents had come to personally see him off. The detachment shown in their lack of presence chilled over his heart as he turned back to the skies. His eyes closed in brief prayer before leaping forward, black wings stretching and beating as he followed after Amat.

    -​

    The flight was long and arduous and though the winds favored their journey, it took the better part of two days to reach the outskirts of the Sylorah territory. Two days of barely any rest, two days of silent wonderings…

    Amat landed with a flourish, her iridescent wings catching the last of the sun's rays ever so lightly. Shielding her eyes, Amat glanced upwards, to Lore Kalvisi. His ebony wings contrasted hers unlike any set of Sylphaerian wings she’d seen before. When he followed her to the ground, she spread her arms wide, beckoning him to look. They were in a small mountain valley, cradled by lush woodlands and a solitary road. The term road was a bit of an understatement, however. The footpath started in the middle of the valley, not too far from where they stood and like an arrow, led straight into the protected city.

    “It is important you know the way,” Amat said softly, nodding towards the road. “The footpath will to turn to dirt and then to cobble, and before it reaches Sylorah, it will turn into cloud-brick. I would prefer if we walked, for now. I have two wraps left, if you’d like one.”

    Their travel was the longest Lore had ever journeyed in such a short amount of time. His wings ached as he slowly brought them back to his frame, yet the ache was almost invigorating. An energy bubbled within him as his spark for adventure attempted to peek through his begrudging bitterness towards his kind’s tradition.

    “I would hate to take what you have so little of,” he said as he politely declined Amat’s offer. He looked down the road before them within the valley. “How far from here is it?”

    Amat shrugged and glanced up at the dying sun. “Not far. When the stars start blossoming we should be there, if we keep a brisk pace.”

    She nodded towards the footpath and started forward. Amat kept a steady pace and the footpath was wide enough for the two to walk side-by-side. The young Sylphaerian removed a rosemary wrap from her flying belt and began to eat. She seemed comfortable in the silence, much more than she seemed while speaking, even if her demeanor seemed nonchalant. As she ate, Amat could be seen gazing around the valley, up at the sky, and straight ahead, as if visualizing what was to come. By the time the footpath turned to dirt the sun blazed with colors; fire danced with lilac and gold and backlit the coming trees.

    Lore was just as content in the silence and enjoyed the quiet walk. The sun was giving way to night and the adventures henceforth. It took Lore being pushed from his proverbial nest, his comforts, to coax his soul towards something new. To meet Noma was exciting in itself and allowed him to forget ever dreading his Walk.

    His eyes were just as explorative as Amat’s as he soaked in the details of their surroundings. Over two hundred years and he’d only ever seen such splendor in paintings. He’d kept to the cloud brick cities and gardens therein rather than exploring the surface he only cared to read about. It brought about a shift in perspective.

    The pair entered the treeline just as the sun fell beneath the horizon. Above their heads, the thick canopy blocked out most of the daylight remaining in the realm, but the dirt path turned to cobble shortly after their entrance into the trees. It made the way easier, if at a higher incline.

    As silent and still as the path was, Amat felt the eyes she knew to be watching; The Path to Sylorah was guarded by both magic and flesh and bone, and while they would be free to travel the road unhindered, they would need to gain entry via the gates.

    And that meant the guards.

    Amat would be recognized but the ebon winged Kalvisi would not. It was simple though; Amat had been given another scroll with Noma’s seal and they would be given passage without a moment of hesitation once they recognized it. Glancing over at Lore, Amat wondered what had transpired in the sylphaerian’s life that made him so inwardly centered. Looking away, she realized it wasn’t her place to voice those wonderings.

    “Once we reach the top of the ridge we’ll be welcomed with the Gates of Sylorah. You’ll soon be in the presence of Noma Scrie.”

    “What should I expect?” he asked her curiously. “With Noma Scrie and… well… everything. This is a very different circumstance than I've ever encountered. I don't really want to mess anything up. I'm guessing you know her well?”

    “I do,” Amat replied after a moment. “I’ve known her most of my life, as my mother did before she died. Noma Scrie is a woman of her attunements, Lore Kalvisi. She is fire made flesh, a living, breathing augury unlike anything the twin synods have seen before.”

    She hesitated before continuing. “It's why they selected her, of course… But she is loving, unexpectedly so. And humorous, if in her own eccentric style. But she's also fierce… and knows when she's being lied to.”

    Amat sighed, rolling her aching shoulders and glancing up the road. Soon the cobble would turn to cloud-brick.

    “When I left to retrieve you, Mistress Noma didn’t have all the details, Lore, only the grand scheme of things, only the ending of what we know as RoNaan’s Realm. The future is forever changing, or so she says, so let us hope your actions will be enough to alter what she’s seen.

    “The one thing you can expect, however, is a ritual. The Noxeum… Have you ever experienced it? Some say it can last for days, or even weeks at a time!”

    “I have,” Lore admitted, his voice soft and pensive as he recalled the ritual his mentor took him through many years ago. It caused him to fall quiet once again as the memory of the Halls was brought forward. The infinite was an intimidating concept to be brought to near tangible fruition. “Have you?”

    “I have not.” Amat said just as softly. “Mistress Noma says it’s unwise for one not attuned to divination to traverse the Halls. I ask every decade or so, but her answer never wavers…” Her voice trailed off as the pair continued their steep trek to the Gates of Sylorah. All too soon the trees began to thin and pinpricks of starlight could be seen through the canopy.

    “State your business.” A voice said suddenly.

    “We wish to enter the gates. Why have you stopped us?” Amat replied, looking off into the distance as there was no one else but them in sight.

    “The gates are closed to outsiders. You know this Amat.”

    “Mistress Noma sent me to retrieve him. I have her summons with me.”

    “Fine.” The voice spat. “Bring him to the gates.”

    Brows furrowed, Amat took a sideways glance at Lore before reaching into her flying belt and retrieving his summons. She handed it over. “You’ll need to present it to the guards yourself… Make sure they see her seal. That’s what they want to see.” The she turned and beckoned him forward once more.

    Within minutes the Gates of Sylorah would blossom into view. They were grand in appearance, towering high into the heavens and clearly made of cloud-brick and some kind of pearl-colored metal. Each step brought them closer to Noma Scrie, to their futures and the beginning of a new age. And yet it also brought them closer to a pair of guards. At first glance, at least. The closer one got, the easier it was to tell the guards were actually made of the gates. The pearlescent statues, wearing full body armor, stood at the ready, affixed to the gates themselves.

    “Present your summons or depart from this place.”

    Collab | Tags: @Effervescent


    GM NOTES

    @Bears @Shizuochan @Ner0 - If your characters have questions for Anuleisa, feel free to have your characters express them! You hold the creative freedom to complete your character’s tasks with what’s below kept in mind -- but don’t hesitate to ask questions if you have them! If you’re unsure of something or would prefer a collab, feel free to shoot me a PM or tag me in Plot Discussions on Discord.
    Individual Character Tasks
    All: Charged or Untapped RoNaan Stones -- *Anne will need to collect Charged -water- stones specifically.* Consul Aarcon and Persephone are free to choose as they wish!

    Aarcon: The tome written by Roneeya Rochaan, scrolls written by Sir Zheleby, and a rare locket, about to be auctioned off, at the auction house in the upper district of Caershire. The tome by Roneeya will be difficult to find, but if one searched down Bleir Avenue they’d find an old shop that resembled the Room of Requirement.

    Anne-Marie: Anne will need to be fitted for Caerdean armor. She’s allowed a token of her choosing to represent Queensburg. She’ll also need formal wear for the Galas. Once her armor is given to her, she’ll have her choice of weapons in the armory. PM me for details if you need them.

    Persephone: Nightshade powder, the Demone’s Tongue, and Dust.
    She will need to find Baba Ya for the Dust, a halfling that frequents a lodge in the heart of Caershire. Though she’s within the city, Persephone might have trouble tracking her down. Nightshade is easy to find, but Demone’s Tongue, a crimson liquid, will be difficult.


    @Red Thunder @Radio Jelly - The task is to unload, catalogue, and transport the goods down below. If you need NPC interaction with Toan, tag me in Discord or shoot me a PM!
    Outside of foodstuff, mechanical parts, and a variety of large, legal crystals, there are unadorned wooden boxes in each of the three crates. They vary in size from small, medium, to large. Even the small boxes are heavy. Your characters will be unable to open these, unless they happen upon one etched with a rune. If you think your character would notice this box - feel free to shoot me a PM.

    @CloudyBlueDay @Tyrannosaurus Rekt - Whatcha think Garek’s gunna do? :p Feel free to individually reply or shoot me a collab starter! The choice is yours.
    The goal of this scene is to establish Grin as a part of the crew or a paying passenger. The choice lies with you, Rekt! Depending on how this unfolds, Kas and Grin will both help Addy and Kydris or be put in the kitchen for dinner duties.

    @Elle Joyner @Doctor Jax @Dismas - Individual posts or collabs, once again it is up to you! The raft is being evacuated and High Lady Amabelle has sent Reynauld and a few others to escort them to the high road. Reynauld and his fellow soldiers have been given a strict command to not engage. Will they listen?
    I hope Alora just didn’t break her neck. The twins are in the carriage that Iskaya now has control of, her goal is to get to the township outside of Marbalea, where Brigya and Caleyia have the rest of the children. It will take the rest of the day in the carriage to get to the township, and Lady Amabelle’s entourage will be passing through it to get to the capital. Fret not! Iskaya will soon be saved from the twins!

    @Effervescent - Solo post or continuation of our collab, totally up to you!
    As soon as the guards recognize Noma’s seal the gates will open and another set of guards, this time flesh and blood, will be revealed to escort them to the Heretic Grounds.
     
    #34 rissa, Aug 1, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2017
    • Love Love x 3
  15. “Books. The Descendant has us scouring for books.” Ruven Ralow had stated, disappointment etched unto furrowed brow and frown.

    Aarcon walked the streets of Caershire, the complaints of his compatriot dull to him, an arrow against a stony wall. Where Ruven was disappointed, even annoyed, the Consul was merely curious. He had decided against inquiring of the Descendant; for now, he would allow himself to simply become part of her process, in hopes that it would enthrall him. In any case, Aarcon understood the power of the written words, of hidden truths, and of lies that hid truths.

    “No, Ruven. I have you scouring for books, on her behest.” Aarcon chided, his hand offering Ruven’s head a single, almost paternal, pat. “I imagined that you, having spent so much time in the company of the learned, would have begun to appreciate the value of tomes and scriptures.”

    Ruven stopped in his tracks, the skin upon his bald head contorting in mirth, “No, sir. I did eventually learn how to read though.”

    Aarcon looked over at his associate; that Ruven had been reading the Descendant’s missive had scarcely registered. The man was of low birth, and their association was not the scholarly one of master and understudy. He had been a criminal once, a cutthroat and a smuggler, before he ingratiated himself with certain elements of Lecyrian politics. “Impressive. There were some difficult words in there.”

    “I used context.” Ruven pocketed the missive, “I have a contact for the stones, a day’s ride away. I already sent Theo. A day to get there, a day to secure delivery, a day to deliver.”

    “You sent Theodemar? To your contacts? The poor child.”

    “Being in the company of throat-slitters builds character.” Ruven looked over, chuckling at Aarcon’s blend of bemusement and bewilderment. “They’re not all murderers. But, yes, they’ll probably murder little Theo if he says the wrong thing.”

    “And how many of them, exactly, are murderers?”

    Momentary silence ensued as Ruven seemed to run through memories and calculations in his head. “Hmm. My mistake; they’re all murderers.”

    Theodemar could use the excitement, Aarcon thought. Perhaps his own youth could have used the deathly thrill of negotiating with unrepentant bandits and scum. As a rule, they seemed at least marginally more interesting than the average nobleman. Or at least, far more engaging. “The remaining items?”

    “Theo recognised the name ‘Zheleby’, apparently of some renown in these parts. Libraries, scholarly shops - we should be able to procure them fairly easily. The Tome of Roneeya Rochaan will need some doing, if the name’s any indication. Most time-sensitive is the locket, being auctioned tonight. I can investigate the premises, likely attendees. If the auction house is too well-guarded, I can steal from the winner.”

    “Why steal it when we can just buy it, Ruven?”

    Ruven turned towards Aarcon and recoiled, as if his words were the lash of a venomous serpent. “I was more thinking the opposite. No offense, Aarcon, but it’d be a horrific shame if we wasted all of the Descendant’s currency on books and lockets.”

    It was the Consul’s turn to be mirthful, “Waste? There is no waste. These golden things… they have no value, truly, until they are spent. And great gifts: they, too, have no value until they are bought. You’ve learned to read, Ruven Ralow, and that is all well and good. Now, how are your numbers?

    There was an auction to attend.
     
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    • Bucket of Rainbows Bucket of Rainbows x 1
    • Nice execution! Nice execution! x 1

  16. Alora Fortune

    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    His slip on Alora would waver and without the carriage as a guardrail, they both toppled forward. Bellamy managed to keep his footing but his momentum had traveled to Alora and she was dangerously close to falling. Acting on instinct, Bells reached out and grabbed the only thing he could; the front of her dress.

    Alora gave a small squeal of shock as Bellamy’s strong hands grasped her by the front, while at the same time, compensating for her fall, she grabbed him by the middle and hauled herself forwards, crashing into his chest.

    The pair fell onto solid wood near the edge of the raft. The last of the carriages had already fled and only a handful of people remained aboard, including Bellamy Ryn and Alora Fortune. The Doorman was shouting and Bellamy shook off the impact with a grunt and glanced up at the woman on top of him.

    A wry smirk appeared and he only just managed to clamp his mouth shut against inappropriate remarks. “How was the--”

    He didn't get to finish his statement. Another wave, larger than the first two hit the westward side and jostled them dangerously close to the edge.

    Alora was not a large woman, nor was she particularly strong - a life in the palace was not particularly conducive to building a wild woman of great force or stature - but something in that moment, as they neared the edge propelled within her an uncanny energy. Gripping the front of Bellamy’s shirt, one knee planted beside his hip, she rolled, until their positions were the reverse, and they had more of a gap between them and the edge.

    Blinking, she stared up at him, her cheeks tinged crimson.

    Hnnnng.

    For a moment all he could do was stare at her. Not for the first time did his mind stray back to his previous thought, some… eight or ten hours ago, when he laid eyes on her for the first time. Alora Fortune was much prettier than the woman he created for his illusions. Unfortunately, time was of the essence, and what could have been and what has taken place were two very different monsters.

    Bellamy smiled softly and pushed himself to his feet, offering a hand for Alora to take as he did. As the throng of people fled farther from the river’s edge, the centaur’s resonant voices choked the raft and it’s occupants. Deep and raspy shouts could be heard through the magical barrier, and for someone unable to translate, they would be as frightening as they were unusual. Bellamy kept his hold on Alora as he walked over to the small gathering taking place in the middle of the raft. The Doorman and the Baron were exchanging tactics, and the few men and women took turns nodding and shaking their heads.

    While the stewards of the raft bickered, the magical barrier wore thin. Out of the corner of his lips, he spoke to Alora. “Is it true the Princess of Gabranth is attuned to water? How finesse are your skills? Do ya’ think you can clear a path across the river for us?”

    Beneath his calm exterior, Bell’s shook with a sneaking suspicion that these centaurs had ulterior motives, and damn if he wasn’t going to find them out.

    Looking up at him, Alora nodded, “I can do it. On one condition…” It occurred to her and likely to Bellamy as well, that if she wanted, she could have asked for her freedom… strange then that the thought barely even passed through her mind, “I'm coming with you, to talk to them. You're all rubbish at diplomacy…”

    Her lip curved upwards then into what could only be comprehended as a sly smirk of mischief, her shoulders riding a ginger shrug, “And something tells me they aren't nearly so easy to stuff inside of a rug.”

    He smiled down at Alora, shoulders bouncing as he tried to contain the sudden laughter that coursed through him. He was trying to play nice… Trying to quell the awkwardness and unease between them. But it seemed the Gabranthian princess was a master compared to his novice skills. It took him a moment, after his laughter subsided, that Alora’s one condition was inherently selfless. Even if she chose it because there was a chance she felt safer with him, her kidnapper, than those currently aboard the raft.

    “Accepted.” Bellamy said softly, squeezing her hand ever so slightly as he started forward.

    “How about th-” Bells interrupted with a wry grin.

    “Oh please, what are you gunna’ do Ryn? Illusion them to death?”

    Bellamy ignored Wyren’s comment and spoke to the two stewards. “How about you let me and my girl cross the river and see what’s goin’ on.”

    The Doorman shook his head at once, raising a sun-darkened hand against the suggestion. Too risky were the first words out of his mouth, followed by a tirade of just how dangerous it’d be. However, Bellamy kept his gaze on the Baron, who would have the final word regardless.

    “The Three Sisters are angry, Bellamy.” The Baron said in his whirling voice. “The centaurs are their children. Perhaps… Perhaps we could learn from them, why our Sisters are angry…” For a moment he said nothing and the Doorman stood transfixed, as if shocked by the Baron’s words.

    “What do you think, my Lady?” The Baron inquired softly, the whirl in his voice just barely noticeable. “What do you have to gain in this venture?”
    My girl…

    The words hadn’t escaped her attention, though if she noticed, Alora said nothing. Her eyes moved to the Baron instead and with a small smile, this time more genuine in nature, she shook her head, “Absolutely nothing, except perhaps getting up all out of this mess, safely. I just want to help… To… to be of use.”

    “Hmm.” The Baron murmured after a moment, his gaze still locked onto Alora. He stared at the woman before him, contemplating her answer as though he found it personally intriguing.

    “Very well, very well…” Ignoring the Doorman’s outrage, the Baron turned from the small group and faced the centaur hoard. In his whirling voice, a command in the same raspy tongue rang out.

    ”I demand a conclave with your volqaar!”

    Bell squeezed Alora’s hand and urged them both towards the edge of the raft. The Baron repeated his demand, his whirling voice harsher than before. For a moment nothing happened; the centaur’s still stomped and muddied the edge of the river, the undulating horde insatiable in their rage. And then, in the center, centaurs began to step aside, some even knelt before the volqaar.

    “It’s your turn, m’lady.” Bells said with a smile, gesturing towards the river. “Show them your strength. Impressions are lasting on these creatures… I know some of these centaurs, but you must impress them as well. Diplomacy works well and all, but only if they respect you.”

    Looking out across the waters, gingerly freeing her hand, she stepped forward to the very edge of the raft. She crouched, but kept her head raised as she did, her eyes locked on the figures across the water. It was something she had seen Tennison do on so many occasions, in her father's counsel. A challenge, not to be cowed by the abject fear coursing through her, she nevertheless stood her ground. Reaching out, her fingers trembling, she took a breath and touched the tips of them to the water. For a moment there was silence, nearly perfect, as the water gave concession... then, with a rush, there was a sound like a thundering waterfall, and with a crack, the way between raft and shore split. The water vaulted upwards, some twenty feet in the air, in great, wide columns, then folded over into itself in perfect cylindrical spirals, and at the very top, as delicate as the filagree lace on the sleeves of a woman's gown, miniature horses played within the waves.

    Rising, slowly, Alora looked back to Bellamy with a nod.

    With a scowl the Doorman attached a small rope ladder to the edge of the raft and then whispered a prayer of good fortune over the pair. Bellamy, transfixed as always with the beauty of water manipulation, took a moment to admire Alora's handiwork before climbing down first. The river bed was littered with rocks of various colors and sizes and rather uneven to tread across.

    “Watch your step, Alora.” Bellamy said after a moment or two, facing the raft and the woman who continued to amaze him. “Let us be diplomats for the day!”

    With Bellamy’s aid, Alora climbed down after her kidnapper. It was an odd feeling, knowing now that the person responsible for divesting her from her safety was now holding himself responsible for her protection. The irony was not lost on her, but the gravity of it, perhaps, had faded somewhat, and his words brought a smile to her lips, brightening her countenance with a firmer nod.

    “Finally… Something I’m actually good at.”

    He extended his arm with a smile, realizing that it was both the honorable thing to do, as well as paint the pair of them together in the eyes of the centaurs. Their culture was vastly different from their own. Males only touched a female who he was bound to. As the pair edged forward, Bellamy set the pace neither slow nor fast. He kept his body fluid, showing no weakness or aggression.

    “Only the volqaar will be able to understand you; they’re like wise men of their tribes. Priests and priestess who commune with the gods and govern the tribes lest they destroy themselves from within.

    “Only a little bit further. How're your reserves holding up? Don't spend too much; we may need it more later.”

    As the started across the aisle she had created, Alora kept her eyes forward, but as Bellamy spoke the smile remained confidently in place, “It'll hold...” She murmured quietly, her hand tensing ever so slightly on his arm. She was anxious, internally terrified, but not an ounce of it shown from the outside.

    “That’s my girl.” Bellamy said softly, treading past the midway point of the river. By now the snorts, earthy musk, and foreign tongue of the centaurs became overwhelming. Most had ceased their raucous behavior once the volqaar was summoned, but a few, most likely young and unlearned, continued their furious stomping. Once they reached the shore line, a red bay colored centaur halted them with a brisk bark of a command.

    Why has the machine summoned a conclave?
    .

    TAGS || collab with @rissa
     
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  17. Blitz Encounters

    Collaboration with @rissa and @Doctor Jax


    Everything happened quickly, but Iskaya was quite used to bustle. She did her best to keep her head as she was unceremoniously dragged by Bellamy out of the Baron’s rooms and towards the carriages. Without further ado, she took hold of the reins as Bellamy had asked, and she took the horses towards the ramp without a fuss.

    She had not, however, expected to lose Bellamy and Alora in the crowd. That had not been a part of the plan.

    With worry, Iskaya craned her neck to see around the carriage as it went, but it was obvious she could not go back for them -- too many were getting off the glorified raft.

    “Stay down back there!” Skaya shouted, hands tight on the reins as she tried to keep control of the horses.

    Reynauld stood anchored in place atop his mare. His head subtly turned towards Lady Amabelle, eyes fixed straight. His great helm betrayed naught but the steely gaze of a determined man.

    “Ready, men! Follow my lead!” he shouted, pulling on the reins and whipping them. Reynauld’s mare broke into a canter, heading for the carriage. The gait was performed by the book, controlled and with three-beats allowing the knight to close the distance between himself and the stagecoach briefly, his men following close behind.

    He approached the carriage and with the same booming voice he commanded: “Stop your horses!”

    Iskaya stared at the man headed towards her carriage and her gut clenched. His command rang in her ears, her eyes following the golden raiment of the knights, and she resisted the urge to curse and curse loudly. Gabranth men. How fortuitous. With a yank on the reins, she managed to slow the horses to a complete stop.

    ”While I understand your curiosity, I would prefer to do this business where there aren’t centaurs interested in my head,” Iskaya stated clearly, her unhappiness more than visible on her face.

    Iskaya’s carriage was one of the remaining few that hadn’t made it to the worn path. It led up and around, connecting to the Carved Road not too far from where Lady Amabelle was currently. Reynauld and a few of his fellow soldiers circled the carriages while the rest of his company escorted those already on the path to their Lady.

    “Get goin’ there!” Shouted a man from behind Iskaya. “What tha’ hell you stoppin’ us for soldier?” Another one rang out. A few heartbeats later, the frightened farmers urged their horses around Iskaya’s carriage and tried to take the worn path as their fellows did just moments prior.
    After pulling the reins again Reynauld’s mare stopped without resistance. He began: “I need two men-” before he was abruptly interrupted. In retaliation he raised his voice and raised his face cover. “I’ve halted this stagecoach temporarily for it needs to be escorted! I’m afraid I cannot provide further information.” He then turned towards his men, beckoning them with his arms and completing with orders: “Galahad, Percival and Gareth! I need you behind, watching our backs! Morien, you take the lead! Bedivere and I will take the flanks!”

    In a sleight of hand, Reynauld’s face cover was back in its place once more. “Do not delay this any longer, people! Let us move!”

    Iskaya did not need to be told twice. The knight was in charge, obviously, and she knew better than to protest. With a flick of the reins, she started them again down towards the Carved road. The rendezvous couldn’t be far off, but she was more worried about the fact that she would have to try and find Bells’ other charges -- more children and women, all in tragic upheaval.

    “May I ask why I am being escorted specifically?” Iskaya asked over the rumble of carriage wheels and whoops from the centaurs.

    Reynauld guided his horse closer towards the side of the chosen carriage. He slapped the face shield out of his face with a quick, controlled motion. Instantly he started: “All in due time, madame. We’ve not far until the rendez-vous point.”

    Iskaya felt her ire rise. She was not one to take orders lying down, even from an armored man of the law. However, she considered the repercussions of stopping in the midst of a centaur raid. Surely, her pride could take a backseat for the moment. She glanced back into the carriage and called out, “You alright? Answer now or forever hold your peace.”

    She flicked the reins twice to spur the horses onwards, briefly glancing back towards the raft Alora and Bellamy had been left upon. No one would mistake Iskaya for sentimental, but she did feel a genuine pang of worry for the idiot. It seemed he was always dragging her into trouble.
     
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    • Nice execution! Nice execution! x 1
  18. To Unload or Not to Unload
    a collab with @rissa, @Radio Jelly, @Red Thunder

    Addy had listened to Garek's orders impassively, giving in all honesty her food more attention than her employer. She chewed thoughtfully, contemplating the last time she'd had such a reliable source of grub that wasn't all that terrible. The biscuits in particular were decent, if a bit too salty and hard. Soaking each bite with a mouthful of ale helped that problem. On occasion she'd toss a large crumb up in the air in the general direction of her hair. It'd be snatched up quickly, a small greenish blue hand pulling it into the halfling's generous locks.

    But Addy's ear finally twitched as the captain began divvying up tasks. Why the bustle? She hadn't been paying enough attention to notice. Nor was it all that important; the boss said to jump, so she did. Direction be damned. Taking a last swig, she hopped off the bench at the long table and wiped her mouth, hiding a smirk. Maybe Kas would get an ass chewing about the stowaway. Good; she deserved it for the biting response she'd given to Adrianna's own appearance. But it was somewhat disappointing. That halfling...Grin?...had been fairly enjoyable.

    She paused, glancing at the figure Garek had said was partnering up with her. Elf, huh? Ol' pointy ears would be good to have along to take all the head knockings for her. She cleared her throat loudly.

    "Hey! Scar-face!" Addy called out with a bit more gusto than really necessary. The brand on the elf's cheek had caught her eye, and it being the most readily identifiable aspect of him, she weaved a ready nickname. Yet it wasn't mockingly meant, if perhaps with the knowledge that it might get under his skin. "Ya comin'? Them boxes ain't gonna sort themselves, ya kin?

    Kydris had done his best to remain outwardly calm during Garek's explanation. For an accomplished gambler, it was no great feat to keep his facial features from belaying his true feelings. In all honestly, the elf felt a strange mixture of pity and condescension for his captor: it was clear that either the captain was as green as he was gruff, or just a plain idiot for him to go on believing that his benefactor was, in fact, the heir to Ronaan. In any other setting--and with any other company--he would've laughed in Garek's face, bought him a drink, and promptly left the skybarge in that order.

    Poor fool. I can only imagine what sort of eccentric jackass could scam a man under the guise of the heir and get away with it.

    Of course, the crew ate it up. Kydris's eyes flickered across many of their faces, taking in the variety of sizes, shapes, and colors before his eyes. If nothing else, the fact that none of them seemed the slightest bit suspicious informed Kydris that Garek had his men's respect if nothing else. For that reason alone, he felt a stronger pang of pity than he had before, and wondered just how badly the lot of them would be ripped off when it was time for the pretender to wash his hands of them.

    Garek did have a point, and when he turned to address Kydris, the young elf could see how serious he was about his mission. The gambler considered snapping back with some witty remark, but just as before he knew it would only make things worse for him. After all, there wasn't anywhere to run on an airship. Moreover, Kydris's visage broke at the mention of Eadrus: the corners of the elf's lips pulled into a curt frown, and his eyes widened again for a second. At the mention of respect, Kydris simply nodded in agreement. Whether or not he cared enough to show it such respect, only time would tell.

    After that, the elf only bothered to devote half of his attention to Garek's words and--instead--kept one weary eye on the halfling across the way. It was just his luck then that Garek paired the two of them up for a task that (on a good day) could've been described as menial. Kydris opened his mouth to protest against the notion, when she spoke first.

    Scarface? Why, I ought to...

    Kydris waved dismissively in her direction, before getting off of his seat, and heading in the direction of their supervisor for the session. "Yeah, yeah. I wouldn't dream of missing another thrilling engagement with your delightful company." The elf's mouth curled into a lazy and saccharine smile, though his eyes were hard with palpable irritation. She had caught him off guard before, but Kydris was certainly not above using his magic should she try another illusion.

    Regardless, the elf turned his attention to the crew-member named Toan, and followed in his footsteps at a brisk pace. Though he knew better, he was too prideful to stop himself. The elf, when reassured there were few errant listeners in the area, turned to Adrianna and spoke up.

    "So, an illusionist eh? The wind was a nice little trick." Kydris's gave Addy a look of such sharp reprehension, it could've cut steel. "Does Garek make use of your... talents very often?"


    "Talents? Illusionist? What in Ro'Naan's green hells are you-" The halfling's eyes grew wide, and she grinned. "Oh! Yer that fella what took over lookout duty for me. Did'n recognize yah. All you pointy ears look tha same. Can't tell yer granddads sep'rate from yer daughters."

    She shook her head, astounded that they could tell even themselves apart. The look Kydris supplied, and indeed the emotion behind it, went completely over Adrianna's head. Lacing her fingers behind her hair, she followed their guide at a leisurely pace, whistling a nonsensical tune. Within her cover, Rhiannon frowned. Did the elf hold a grudge? Was he likely to act on it? She'd have to keep an eye on him.

    "T'aint never seen a scar like that b'fore. Uglier'n the Tinker's tankard." Her companion's voice shattered the quiet awkward tension that had built up in the few moments, and Addy now walked beside Kydris, matching his pace as she stared up at his face with absolutely no regard for personal space. But she grinned, clearly taken with the object of her curiosity. "Where'd it come from?"

    Everything the half-ling said seemed to throw Kydris off-guard, and the worst of it was that he couldn't tell whether or not he liked her more for it. In any case, he had learned a great deal about the small woman in a very short span of time: either she hadn't charmed him with illusion magic as he had thought, or she was an expert actress when it came to feigning ignorance. As for the latter option, Kydris found that--despite the lack of evidence in support-- it was unlikely. If the half-ling had tricked him, Kydris preferred to believe he would've recognized the lie in her facial features, or body language.

    After deducing as much, Kydris absorbed all she had to say, and found himself stifling a smirk at her comment of look-a-like elves. He felt dirty for admitting it, but the girl was more right than she knew. It was at this point that his own eyes lost the hardness behind them, and he felt a release of tension behind his shoulder-blades.

    There's no chance you worrying sod--this girl is a simple thing.

    Kydris was beginning to feel a pang of regret for whatever vengeful machinations he had planned to execute, when the conversation turned to his scar and how it had ended up on his face to begin with. It was a small thing--barely longer than the diameter of an ork, and just a sight lighter than the rest of his skin. Most people on the streets of Lyf wouldn't have bothered to ask, but Kydris did have a couple handy lies for the perceptive few that did. Without a moment's pause, the elf began to spin his yarn.

    "It's interesting you ask, as it's quite a story. I don't know how familiar you are with oceanic travel, but many years past, I sailed from the Iagi islands across the Autumn sea. I was trying to make my way to Lyf, you see. Unfortunately, I hadn't more than a handful of orks to my name and--frankly--it costs a good deal to charter a ship with a passable crew." Kydris had never been to the Iagi islands, though he did travel close enough to see their distant shores when he had set out on his own. In fact, he wasn't even certain there was a port there to begin with, though he doubted Addy would be much the wiser.

    "Anyway, I needed to get out of the islands with some expedience. You see, an old enemy of mine from back in my mercantile days was closing in rather quickly on me, and had turned many of my business associates off of helping me with his advances. Thus, destitute and desperate, I made a deal with a one-eyed Lecyrian who ran a less-than-legal operation. For a ride across the Autumn, I'd assume the responsibility of one of his many shipments." At this, Kydris's eyes grew cloudy, and his voice became hard as though it was pained to repeat the tragic and altogether false account.

    "I made it to Lyf, but the Lecyrian had left out some vital information. He had his own enemies, you see. The law made quick work of a would-be smuggler like myself, and we had barely made port before being locked cuffed in chains. I made a good enough case for myself, but nonetheless I ended up in a cell. The brand on my cheek was administered on my departure as the final part of my punishment. It's something of a telling mark to let those merchants of Lyf know of my criminal history." Kydris's tone drifted off as he finished the story, his expression forlorn. His eyes still danced with some fire, as they eagerly awaited Adrianna's response.

    Though he awaited her reaction, the natural-born liar critiqued himself internally for not picking a more commonly known smuggler's port, and for not having a good, tribal Lecyri name for his false benefactor. All the while, Kydris had forgotten Toan standing ahead of them, but had been unconsciously following their supervisor along the way.

    From atop the halfling's noggin, the pixy furrowed her tiny brow. Iagi? The Autumn Sea? Smugglers caught in Lyf? It was quite the interesting story indeed, as the elf had claimed. One of adventure and travel, hinting at dark meetings and underhanded deals, treachery and shame, if his expression as he concluded were indication. It struck her as odd that he should share it so readily, yet perhaps he had his reasons. Yet it did nothing so much to ease her sense of suspicion toward him, though Rhi did feel some small regret at the way the Illusion had struck him. Such things only affected the average mind in a moderate way, yet he'd acted as if he were buffeted by winds of gale force. Was he then a fool? Perhaps; it'd explain why he shared his story so readily. A proud fool, then. Rhiannon shook her head and lay back, listening to the ambient sounds and continued conversation with hands behind her head and her eyes closed.

    Addy for her part had no such reservations as the pixy had. She nodded appreciably as Kydris had finished, careful to avoid shaking Rhi too much.

    "So yer a trav'ler, huh? Seems righ', you bein' on this ol' bucket. Prob'ly down on yer luck, too. Garek don't pick up workers what ain't doin' shabby, ya kin." She grinned, shoving a thumb in her chest. He'd shared a story; might be fair to share one of hers. "The duck took a spin round the pond, if yah follow me. Bread pickin's hard to do and ain't turn profit 'nuff to get by on. Bribes cos' too much now'days, an' all these damn magicks throwin' from here to the cloudy mountains what catch you in the arse."

    Adrianna laughed, clearly pleased with something she'd said, before placing a finger to her nose in a serious manner. Her expression grew grim.

    "But life does what do, righ'? Yah gotta get by, so yah do what needs doin'. Sometime yah get caught and branded; sometime yah find work on a flyin' bucket what needs bodies to fill space. Fates figure the worse of 'em." She held that somber expression for a full ten seconds before bursting into laughter. Reaching high as she could, Addy slapped Kydris on the back good naturedly, though at her height it caught him more on the buttocks than back. "I'm jokin'! Lighten up, ol' Scarface. Yer alright; yah jes' gotta stretch yer face out a little."

    Ignoring both the lies and jests by the two trailing behind him, Toan made his way on deck to where the new shipment lay. Three large crates stood before them, each taller and wider than the last. It was nondescript. Just as Garek liked it.

    Toan shoved his index finger at the crates before removing a leather-bound book of his own and sucking on the end of an old scratch quill.

    "Inventory is important, gals and gents." The first mate flicked through a couple pages until he found the one he wanted and nodded to himself. "Shouldn't be more than a few crystals for repair, Garek's packages from the QN, and some food stuff. Call out what ya' see so I can mark it down. If ya need help openin' the crates there's some tools over there."
     
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  19. The Crippling Crate Conundrum
    part two of a collab between @rissa, @Red Thunder, and @Radio Jelly

    It wasn't long after Addy and Kydris finished their conversation that the two of them were halted by their guide. Of course, Kydris had no intention of doing more work than he absolutely had to--especially when his captor was the one doling it out. In the boy's eyes, Toan was comparably condescending and hardly more likeable for it. For this reason, Kydris barely waited for their chaperone to complete his instruction, before the conjuror strode off in a huff towards the smallest of the three boxes.

    Kydris approached the box, and gingerly pried at the top of the crate. At each corner, a wrought iron nail pinned the thin board in place, and didn't give even slightly at his prodding. Kydris made a show of going to each corner and trying it again, all the while ignoring the other company in the room. If Toan was expecting Kydris to ask for tools--or any help for that matter--he would be waiting a long time. After all, Kydris was the best conjuror in Lyf. Half the tools he knew how to produce were uniquely suited to breaking in and entering.

    The elf slapped both of his outstretched palms together with more gusto than was altogether necessary, shot the half-ling a coy wink, and closed his eyes. From the recesses of his memory, the elf called into view the image he was looking for. Like searching for a book in a library, or a card in a deck, Kydris imperceptibly shuffled through dozens of similar mental images of tools that were close, but not quite right: a notched hammer; three, differently-sized crowbars; a burgundy pair of diagonal pliers.

    With an uncharacteristically quiet discipline, Kydris began to pull his palms apart. In the space between his drifting hands, a length of tarnished iron began to fill the void until an eight-inch rod fell from where it had been suspended, and onto the top of the box. The small, crowbar-like tool was referred to as a 'Cat's Paw' by the dock-side carpenters in Lyf, and existed for the sole purpose of removing nails.

    Kydris hefted the tool in his palm a moment to appraise his handicraft, before slipping the claw around the edge of a nail, and spinning the crank. After several rotations, the nail was loose enough for him to use the opposite end of the tool to pry it from the box. Kydris continued to do this until he had loosed the other three nails as well. When the top of the box lay fallen besides the crate, Kydris puffed up some, and gave Addy a quick glance.

    "How'd you fare getting these things open. Do you need one of these?" The elf shook his Cat's Paw in her direction, while glancing back at Toan with no small amount of smug glee.

    "Oh, I ain't bothered tryin'. Thass for the muscle heads to work on. Halflin's use their noggins fer more than jes' a hat rack, yah know." Adrianna eyed the Cat's Claw curiously. "Shiny trick, though."

    The Halfling stood next to one of the three large crates, having been distracted by the activity of her new elf friend. But the pause in his work broke the spell that she seemed to be under, and without further ado, she shimmied up the side of the box and peered within. Her eyes grew wide, and she gasped. But she hadn't watched her balance well enough. Slowly but inevitably, Addy tipped forward.

    "Eep!" she cried as she disappeared over the edge, and a blue green streak shot up from her hair to hover a foot or so above her.

    "Addy! Are you okay?"

    The voice was small but insistent, and the response was immediate.

    "Yeah, jes' swingin'. Little bump on the noggin is- oh!" She popped up, her head only just visible over the crate's edge. With a small effort she lifted an odd device into the air, presenting it proudly. A small cylinder of copper sat in her hands, and more pipes and hoses than looked like should fit on the thing twisted and spun about it. "Ain't this just the mountain's manners! What in RoNaan's green hells izzit?

    "Oh!" Her eyes had strayed back down inside the crate in which she stood, and she cast the device onto the deck without a further thought for it. A loud clank echoed through the wooden surface as it did, apparently a great deal heavier than it looked. Her attention had been seized by something significantly more...sparkly. Ducking back out of sight momentarily, she grabbed the edge and hoisteded herself up to sit on it, balanced precariously. In her hand was a large crystal of some purpose or other, and its surface of rich purple seemed to shine with exuberance. Situated, Addy lifted it to examine it.

    "What izzit?" she asked solemnly. Near her, the pixy hovered a bit closer, clearly as curious.

    Kydris didn't have to look at Addy to know what she had found to be so interesting. In his hands, he turned over a jagged crystal. Kydris marveled at its deep, indigo hue for a moment before setting it outside the box. The moment he removed it from where it lay, Kydris began to wonder at their function. Was Garek perhaps some kind of geologist, or jewel smuggler? Were there practical uses for such a thing? The elf set the crystal down onto the deck behind him, and began to manically pull the rest of the crystals from the box in tow.

    Toan had mentioned the crystals were for repair, but Kydris couldn't fathom how a gemstone could repair much of anything. As with most unexplained happenings, the elf chalked it up to some kind of unknown magic process. After Kydris finished pulling a collection of varying crystals from his crate, he turned over his shoulder and called out the collected number, colors, and his best approximation of how long each was.

    Of course, he took a good, long look at the larger ones in the hopes it would be a useful conjure somewhere down the road. Nonetheless, he did move a little too quickly in collecting them for a good enough appraisal, and the elf didn't doubt he'd need to find a way to get a better look at such things at another time. After the crystals, Kydris quickly became bored with the entire task.

    With an attitude that was--at best--lackadaisical, Kydris rummaged through several packages of foodstuffs and rations. The elf made a game of juggling some of the canned goods from the box as he went, only bothering to read the particular labels or signage if a package came close enough to his face. For a time it was quiet work, but for the punctuated announcements about his findings. With some measure of relief, Kydris yanked a netted bag from the bottom of the crate, and deposited it on the exterior.

    "This is the last of the food in here. I think it's onions?" The elf squinted at the bulbous stems for a moment before giving a slight nod of affirmation. The elf stepped back into his crate, calling over his shoulder aas he did so.

    "You find anything interesting on your end halfling?" Kydris lifted a small box from the crate with both hands, his brow furrowing as he failed to open it. "Besides those shiny stones, all I have is food..." Now frustrated, Kydris picked up another box of similar form and aggressively attempted to pry it open. In a much smaller voice--and to himself more than anything else, he continued, "Food, and apparently impenetrable boxes." With his back to Toan, Kydris pulled out his Cat's Claw, and traced the edges for any nails to remove, and yet he found none.

    Thoroughly confused, the elf stepped back out of the crate and set the box down on the ground. With a single, lingering look of reproach towards the unsolved puzzle, he stepped back into the crate and procured the next box, and the next. Where before he would've barely bothered to pay them any attention, the elf tried his hand at each and every one of the boxes before begrudgingly removing them. He didn't like not knowing their contents, but he hated being unable to open them.

    After removing about five or so--each of varying sizes and kinds, Kydris glanced over at Toan. "Are these boxes supposed to be impossible to open? What the hell are these things?"

    As he waited for an answer, the elf stepped back into the crate one last time, his hands finding purchase on the last of the sealed packages. He absentmindedly turned the box over in his hands several times while he waited for some instruction as to whether or not Toan--or Addy for that matter--knew anything about the suspiciously inoperable containers.

    Addy knew nothing about suspiciously inoperable containers. In fact, she knew nothing about anything they were involved with cataloging. Following Kydris' example, she began calling out what it was she came across so Toan could record it. Yet, despite labels and boxes and other such written designations, it was all merely a mess of symbols and shapes to her eyes. So she made due, calling out vague descriptions of each item she examined before always putting it back exactly where it was she'd found it.

    Usually.

    Okay, rarely. As she darted from one unique piece of ship's equipment to the next, she merely dropped the former where she had been standing. The pieces were, fortunately, of solid metal construction and therefore took little enough damage. The gems she handled with greater care, their beauty saving them from any falling injury.

    "A funny brass twister in a black wooden case! Oh! Here's a right kinda bird wing with leather straps made outta wool. Four of 'em. Look! 'Nother brass thing, only this'n's as reg'lar as yer mother! Some kinda fan, maybe? With a chain and funny little wires on the bad end coated in weirdest tree sap I ever saw. Oh! Shiny rock, only tiny an' boxed up all gentle-like. Green as RoNaan's hells."

    And so it continued. At Kydris' question, Addy paused for a breath. Her head poked up above the large crate wall, and she peered at him with excitement.

    "Nah, this'n's all gems'n ship parts. Pretty to look at, but none so pleasin' to eye and belly as yer food.

    "And nothin' so interestin' as yer box!" With a grunt, she hauled herself over and out of the crate before running over to Kydris' puzzling container to get a better look. "Taint never seen box like that. Rhi, you think you kin open it?"

    The pixy flitted down and lit atop the halfling's head.

    "No," came the small voice, puzzled. "I don't think I can."

    "Sorry, Scarface. Yer on yer own."

    Kydris winced at the nickname, but otherwise was preoccupied with the stack of puzzles he could not solve. It had gone beyond their contents for the boy; he was almost positive there was nothing of particular value to him in the boxes given the near-mundane nature of most of the cargo he and Addy had unearthed. To the elf, the true allure was in finding out why they were so heavily guarded to begin with.

    Kydris absentmindedly continued to turn the box he was holding over and over in his hands while he searched his memory for a tool that could solve the issue. In doing so, a faint concern piqued at the very edges of his peripheral thoughts. As soon as it was there, it faded. Then, again he sensed something was off, only for it to be a non-issue a moment later. The Roanite stopped twirling the box, his eyes now locked on the container as he turned it.

    There was a difference in the texture of the wood where he held it on one side, and it had taken him a moment to realize why. Squinting, the elf brought the box up to his face. Without really knowing what he was looking for, Kydris spotted it: a near-imperceptible runic mark.

    "Found it. Look 'ere halfling. Looks like our employer has something worth keeping after all."

    Kydris was proud of his find, but doubly happy given what it meant. He didn't know anything about runic magic, but if the crates were magically sealed they had to have something worth his time after all. The elf had been looking at the box for some time: he intended to remember it well.

    Kydris set the unnaturally heavy box down, and called out to Toan.

    "Here's the last of our mystery boxes, and the last of everything in this crate. I think that squares it." Kydris fought the impulse to mess with the rune right there and then, but the minute Garek cut them loose, he was planning on finding the damn thing, and cutting the rune to ribbons.

    Could it unlock all of the boxes? Does each one have a different rune? Would it even affect anything, at all?
     
    • Nice execution! Nice execution! x 2
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  20. Tennison Fortune

    "I understand your frustration, Sir. Truly, I do. But what you are not comprehending is... we simply do not know what happened. There have been no demands for ransom... no threats made. Alora has simply vanished." The small circular room was crowded, the king and his son at the forefront of the wooden dais, overlooking the angry, anxious faces of their foreign guests. Beside King Rothgard stood his wife, her small hand enclosed in his, her expression vacant, distracted. Prince Tennison watched the scene before him, pallid face shrouded between a curtain of soot-black hair. His eyes reflected the color of the amber liquid that sloshed in the glass he held clasped in long, slender fingers. At his father’s conclusion, he straightened up, a brow lifting slowly.

    "Vanished!?” Lord Gaventry shrieked, his full face turning a properly heinous shade of purple-red blotches, “Damn it all. A woman does not simply vanish! I'm telling you... She was taken, or else she's run off, and I demand answers! My family stood to gain innumerable wealth and stature from this union, and let's not forget what you were promised. Your Majesty, all due respect, but this is hardly the way things ought to be run! Betrothed women running off. No one doing a damn thing about it..."

    "Curious way to address the king." Tennison interjected, sitting straighter. His father shut his mouth, whatever he might have said truncated by his son’s interruption, Tennison’s fingers drumming curiously against the arms of his seat, "If it were me, I would not stand for such... insolence."

    "Insolence? Boy, you had better hold your tongue! You've no idea what--" A hand flew up as Tennison silenced the man, gaze cool and lingering. When he spoke, there was an indifference to his tone, but his fingers curled marginally tighter against the chair as he pushed himself up to stand.

    "...Power you hold?” He laughed, a cold sound that echoed through the nearly silent hall, “Lord Gaventry. I think you fail to comprehend who you're talking to. The future of Gabranth hardly lies within your grasp, and we don’t need you nearly as much as you need us. You, my friend, are a pawn on a very large board, and where you are moved, there you go. Now then, I think it's time for you and your ilk to return to your home, until such a time as my sister can be located. There is no purpose for your continued presence here, and I find you tiresome.” the lord opened his mouth and Tennison waved his hand again, “Now, now, Bishop. It would be... unwise... to argue."

    The others in the room remained silent for a moment, stricken by the response of the prince. It was King Rothgard who broke through at last, clearing his throat, “I think perhaps we’d best adjourn. Lord Gaventry, I assure you, we are doing all we can. You will be informed the moment Princess Alora is located and brought back to Gabranth. For now, I agree that perhaps it would be best for you to return home.”

    For a moment, a brief, fleeting moment, the man looked as though he might argue, but instead he turned and hard soles clattered across the marble floor until he disappeared through the door.

    “Leave us…” the King continued, speaking to his wife, who bobbed her head in a nod before she too left. With only Rothgard and Tennison remaining, the king turned to his son with a heavy frown, shaking his head, “...You speak out of turn, Tennison. I’ve taught you better than that. These are men whose support we greatly need if we are going to continue to--”

    “To what? To falter as a failing government? To barely scrape by on the old methods of dead men? Your ways are tired and inconsistent, Father. And men like that should not be catered to, because they throw tantrums and taut their worth. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again… Marrying Alora off to those fools is a weak minded decision.”

    “Well, it isn’t your decision to make, Tennison. And until it is, you need to respect those stationed above you.”

    Smiling faintly, Tennison rose to his feet, towering over the king with a shake of his head, “Father… While you are content to stand beneath the boots of men, I have no intention of following in your footsteps. I am no one’s equal. A fact which I will make abundantly clear when I ascend to the throne.”

    Straightening, Rothgard rose as well, narrowing his eyes up at his son, “How dare you speak to me that way… I am still the king, Tennison!”

    Cool eyes met stony blue and Tennison’s expression darkened, before he stepped off the dais, heading for the doors, “For now, father. For now.”

     
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