Viridos, Chapter 1

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  1. CHAPTER 1
    The Monolith

    Edelon One Week Prior
    In Edelon they have a saying: follow the holler. One can always find their way to the city’s heart by tracing the sound of waterfalls. The source of the Prosperos River surges from the Temple of Ilium, and fills the streets with song.
    That morning the water’s holler near-deafened Lady Ironblood as she ascended steps carved into granite. It was a sound to which all the Jade Prophet’s disciples were accustomed, and it made communication through body language and lip-reading a way of life.

    The Elder Forest Kin awaited her arrival at the Temple’s entrance. Each clad in cinnabar, like herself, though they bore their mantles with immortal grace, a sanctity she could never emulate. She imagined she could feel their eyes, their judgment of every insecurity, misshape and wanting. It threatened to pitch her into a chasm of gymnophoria, were it not for the faint, harmonizing hum of her Aux against her heart.

    It was Stryx, the Eldest, who greeted her. His woody voice creaked within a beard of moss and fungi. “The Cinnabar Clad welcome you, Sister Ironblood.” As one, each disciple’s body aligned itself to a gentle posture. Words were mere artifice, their true conversation expressed through the mudrās, the movements that aligned Crux and Aux in a subtle tacenda.

    The Lady’s slippered foot rested softly against her left calf, bent slightly at the knee into the tree mudrā—she was centered. Her right arm followed the slope of her spine, ending with her open palm. Her left hand raised to caress her ear—she was listening. “How may I heal this land, brothers and sisters?”
    Kama, the Beloved, answered, “There are troubling reports from the scouts of the Northwest coast. Something has been unearthed.” Her Aux, a russet hare, curled at her bare feet. “A dark artefact whose curse subsumes into all life around it.”

    Ironblood’s mind flowered with arcane theories. She did her best to shut these illusions out, to keep her mind clear and open. “What could this be?”
    “We do not know. There was but one survivor from the party who discovered the artefact.” The Beloved knelt, gathered up her Aux and drew it lovingly to her breast. “He was driven mad by its corruption.”

    “From his ravings we gleaned a single utterance...”
    They eschewed language for a time after that. Long enough for Ironblood to glean the purpose of her summons: the Jade Prophet had tasked her to carry out the Word. It was Stryx who confirmed this. “The Cinnabar Clad bid you retrieve this monolith and bear it back to Edelon.”

    Ironblood felt her heart skip. “Brothers and sisters, you honor me. Ilium’s Word be done.” The reply was perhaps too eager for a Forest Kin’s liking.

    “There is no room for honor here.” They each felt his presence before he spoke. As one the disciples turned to regard their prophet who knelt at the base of the waterfall. The sylvan body of Kairos glowed faintly as he guided a wisp through the stream. “His spirit was nearly sundered by the monolith’s corruption. I could not save the Crux, only the Aux.” The light coming from him soon flickered out as the wisp found its way through the current to join the Prosperos River. “He will return to Ilium.” He stood fully on cloven hooves, approaching while his crown of antlers scattered shadows across the Lady’s face. “Leave those illusions of the ego behind. They will only mislead you on your journey.” He extended one willowy arm and pointed his stave to her.

    Despite herself, Ironblood’s voice trembled. “Virid Spirit...”
    The stag’s head that tipped Kairos’ Aux touched the silver pendulum around her neck. A chime at the connection that grew in pitch until it drowned out all other sensation and sound. Ironblood closed her eyes and allowed her thoughts to dissipate.

    Present Day Hosia

    The sun was warm on her face as Ironblood stared off into the Prosperos Sea. She stood upon the deck of the Sea Wraith, one of the finest ships in the Green Realm’s navy. On the land, in the city of Hosia, the citizens celebrated in the streets, welcoming home the fleet from a six month tour. It would be a short celebration indeed for the Sea Wraith and her crew. The moment the ship had docked, Captain Valyrin received official orders from on high to escort the High Alchemist’s expedition to a remote area along the Northwest coast and then back up the Prosperos River. What this meant for the captain and his crew was another two weeks before they could return home.

    That was how Ironblood had brought this party together within a week. She had begged, bribed, asserted her status, the seal of the Jade Prophet, whatever had to be done to gather the party she would need for such an undertaking. Already, she could just discern the displeased glances from the crew of the Sea Wraith. She had not anticipated being very popular.

    Couldn’t be helped.

    The Half’kin turned from them, looked out to the sea, and waited for the others to arrive.

    #1 Tegan, Apr 7, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2014
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  2. The day had promised to be a good one as the fleet returned to the city of Hosia after being at sea for half a year. The crew of the Sea Wraith was ready for their shore leave for they had coin to spend and needs to be fulfilled. Even Valyrin had been ready for some time off of the ship. Unfortunately all of those plans were ruined the moment his ship docked. Almost immediately some official looking messenger had boarded and sought him out with orders that could not be ignored.

    His crew had been far from pleased with the situation when he broke the news to them. In silence Valyrin had let the grumble and shout their complaints. He could have simply shouted them down, but he refrained from doing so. When all the grumbling had stopped he went about the business of reminding them that, as members of the Green Realm's navy, it was their duty to see this mission through to the end to the best of their abilities. This, of course, did little to brighten the crew's mood. Then he had made mention of doing his damnedest to get them an extra week of shore leave upon their return. This provided some salve to his crew's frustration over the unexpected turn of events.

    Now Valyrin stood on deck, near the helm, his elf-like features set in a neutral expression as he silently watched his crew go about their business as fresh supplies were loaded on board. There was a brief glance in Ironblood's general direction. He, personally, held no annoyance with the woman, but she would just have to deal with the crew's unhappy looks. Hopefully none of the bunch said anything to her that would demand he take disciplinary action. He was fairly sure they would keep it civil though, if they valued their place on the Sea Wraith.

    A moment later he shifted his attention to the mainmast of his ship, a hint of a smile tugging at the corner of his lips as he spotted Zephyr, his Aux. The osprey was quite happily preening her feathers, quite content after having recently devoured a fish. As if sensing Valyrin's eyes on her, Zephyr paused briefly to meet the half-Kin captain's gaze. Then, without a care in the world, returned to grooming her feathers. Rolling his eyes at the osprey, Valyrin resumed watching over his crew, giving out the occasional order when needed. As long as Ironblood, and those she was waiting for, did nothing to interfere with his authority on the Sea Wraith, all should go smoothly.
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  3. Ayanne Marshden, green Ayanne grumbled as she pushed through the crowds cheering the Navy's return to Hosia, healer’s bag slung across one shoulder, travel pack slung across the other so that the straps of both crossed over her chest rumpling her forest green tunic. A dancer bumped into her short form and she shoved the person away not in the mind frame to listen to stumbled apologies. She felt her Aux press into her skin with the gesture and took a small bit of comfort from the ring's presance. Her freckle nosed face was shadowed by her hat, but anyone who looked at her would easily be able to tell she was not in a celebratory mood. Far from it. Light, she couldn’t believe she had agreed to this! Agreed to take that person’s place because they were unable to fulfill the obligation. It wasn’t as if she didn’t have better things to do, people to take care of here in Hosia, family to look after, a sister with a baby due. She would much rather stay home. No, she was not in a good mood. A promise had been made, one she had to keep regaurdless of personal cost. A favor had been called in and she had to go.

    An expedition into the woods was one thing, but this, as far as she understood things this was no simple expedition into the woods. This was some sort of questing adventure to seek out some mysterious object, a monolith, which may or may not have been responsible for the deaths of the last party to find it. Regardless of the object’s importance, of the danger it apparently presented, the fact that said danger had to be dealt with, Ayanne fully expected to be surrounded by a bunch of thrill seeking, adventure hungry idiots who dreamed of playing hero.

    Hero, Pha! Heroes were the ones who ended up on her operating table, heroes were the ones she fitted up with casts and crutches, heroes required stitches and pain medications, heroes did stupid things for stupid reasons, heroes ended up dead! She was no one’s hero, but here she was being asked to help others play the part for the sake of an old friend who could not. This was quite possibly the stupidest thing she had ever done in her entire life. She hated owing people favors and as she boarded the Sea Wraith she swore to herself she would never owe that particular person a favor ever again.

    Once on deck Ayanne let her eyes scan the working sailors and those she presumed to be passengers or other officials. She had been told who to look for. Told she would recognize the High Alchemist by her cinnabar clothing and the silver acorn pendent around her neck. As far as Ayanne could see there was only one person present who even came close to matching that description. The woman in question stood facing the sea and Ayanne let her footsteps fall heavily on the deck in hopes that her approach would be heard long before she spoke.

    “Lady Iornblood?” Ayanne questioned stepping forward. She sincerely hoped she was not addressing the sort of person who might be inclined to ignore someone of Ayanne’s considerably lower station. Holding out a letter baring the official seal and the original recipient’s name scrawled across the front, an original recipient who was quite obviously not her, she paused for a moment. Beneath that letter was a second, from the original recipient to Lady Iornblood. A letter of introduction written on Ayanne’s behalf.
    “I am Ayanne Marshden.” She continued finally. “I’m afraid your first choice is indisposed at the moment. I’ve been sent in their place. You’ll have to forgive the inconvenience this change in your plans causes, but at this point we both will have to make due.”

    It was an inappropriate way to speak to someone in a position like the High Alchemist. Ayanne knew that. This was Viridos not Pegulis. Not all were equal here. But illness was no respecter of persons and Ayanne had never seen why she should be. Respect was one thing, in her humble opinion, that had to be earned. Though she supposed it wouldn’t hurt to be more polite in the future. She made a mental note to do that, the moment it was clear she was not going to be sent away. She half hoped she would be.
    #3 Falcon, Apr 8, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2014
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  4. Ash of the Heartwood Hosia, this was their next stop and Cora couldn't contain herself. Ash could feel her joy beating in his chest as their heart raced with his Aux's excitement.

    I love the river! she thought to him and he could only smile at her child like happiness. Ash had just finished a job in Edelon, a Forest Kin had past on when he fell into a cave and was unable to get any sunlight. Ash was unsure how long the Kin was down there but by the time they found him he had dried out, it was then that they called him from Riven to take care of the recently departed. There was little ceremony in his passing, not many knew him and Ash was sure that any loved ones he had were long since past. The undertaker had found a beautiful tree to prepare his body for just outside of the city, it even had a nice view of the river that he may enjoy for all of eternity.

    They tried to tell him the name of the Forest Kin but he had stopped them before they were finished. "It matters not," he said gently but Cora had overheard them talking before they had a chance to leave.

    Fernad, she thought loudly as if to force him to remember. His name was Fernad. This time their heart beat was steady and firm, this was important to her.

    All the same he lifted the Elder's body in his arms, walking up to the tree as he committed it to memory. It was a conifer tree, standing tall and strong with pine needles pointing out in every direction. It moved gently back and forth with the rhythm of the wind, Fernad's pointy beard blowing in a similar was the reason he had picked the tree for him. Ash's hoofs gently clacked as he approached the tree, closing his eyes as his chest began to glow with a soft red hue. Cora slid out of his body, the small branches on her head peeking out first before her first set of eyes broke past his skin. Once she was out completely she crawled up onto his shoulder and stroked his cheek gently with a smile. To most she would look like a miniature Forest Kin, a small tree person to humans or other races. "It is his time," she said sweetly as she tapped the back of her hoofs gently against his chest. "I know," he said breathlessly as he walked into the tree. The wood did not stop him as he began to phase through, to him it was like walking into water. He could feel the soft wetness of tree flesh pass over his skin as he carried Fernad inside. Layer upon layer of wood past his vision until he had finally reached center of the tree, it's Heartwood. Every layer had a story but it was the Heartwood that Ash truly related to, death is what supports life.

    "As the forest supported you in life so you shall support it in death." Ash turned Fernad's body upright as his hands began to heat up, a gentle orange hue welling up beneath his skin, it's original color inspiring his name. The kin began to dry out further until the elder's body melded with the core of the tree, becoming Heartwood himself when the task was done. This was how it had been for as long as he could remember, just as the warmth of the sun gave life the heat of his hands brought death. Ash slowly stepped out of the tree, walking backwards in reverence once the task was completed. Cora's eyes were closed, prayer like as she waited for him to finish his work.

    "Are you ok?" she asked him.
    "Fine," was his reply.

    He walked a few feet away from the tree and pulled a shaft of wood out of the ground, a blade of black and silver broke earth as he removed it. He rested the spear on his shoulder, the left one to avoid bothering Cora, and began the journey to his next job.

    These events were two days old now, it took three to get to Hosia where more death had come. Ash did not know why they had died but he had heard that only one of their group had lived. He was not concerned for this man for his soul was still here. Ash only concerned himself with those who left.

    #4 Saphen, Apr 8, 2014
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  5. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ upload_2014-4-8_14-40-18.png ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    "no." The captain said shortly.

    "Awe, C'mon cap'n you can't just-"
    "Yes." he said, not turning to look at his current first mate. " I can."
    "but, the boy's are itching' to-"
    "NO again, Mustard." he said, spitting out the man's grungy last name like a bad bite of biscuit. He let his teeth sink into an apple, his arms still mostly crossed.

    Mustard didn't reply for a moment. That moment pause just enough For Ozzimus to turn a rather nasty eye upon the man.

    "We are actors on shore, Garret. This masquerade is a thin veil between us and oblivion. You and the boys have ample room in the aft cargo rooms to have your gambling and drinking. If your drunken arse's get to speaking too loudly ESPECIALLY now that the citizenry are predisposed to panic from all this bullocks regarding that expedition part?... hah. you won't but utter the word Pirate, BOOTY, or cutlass before you're shot down, gagged and jailed or hung on the nearest lamp-post in Hosia!"

    By the time he had finished his tearing down of the tall muscular brute He had the dissatisfaction of calling first-mate, He had the man backed up against the main mast-pole scuffling his feet for a steady footing as he was bent over the rope- tangle affixed beside it.

    "IF you and the boys hold yourselves together like civil sailors and not scallywags for just long enough for the next expedition to leave, We'll be able to get back on the sea and do our job. now SHUT UP!" he said, turning around and storming off the ship.

    The Silver Shadow Was an oak and iron plated heavy-sided galleon with billowing merchant flags fore and aft, several scrolling decorated wood statues across it's hull and a big open mouthed WOlf decorum headed at the front. made of brass and having seen the wear and tear of the ocean, the brass figurehead was stained green and black from age, makeing it the only really aggressive thing about the ship. Sails cotton white and yellowed with time, and a bright painted Red fore-sail with elaborate stripes.

    Ozzimus let his boots trod him down the docks. Contemplating his woes. "SKy above me, pray i have the patience not to sink them all." he mumbled to himself.

    "oye, Captain Lorados!" Came a happy voice behind him not four paces behind.

    "Hell, now what- Oh timberhorn. Nice of you to join the living." He responded upon turning on his heals to look at the young man. His ships cook. "What can i do for you?" he said, hands on his hips.

    "Seven o the crew disappeared last night. Four of em got found in the brothels, but... the other three are still missing. and the kitchen's out of potatoes and flour."

    "Wonderful. send grummons and half-sung after them. they'll stay out of trouble easier on the hunt. You, take this to market with Mustard... he needs to blow some steam." Ozzimus produced his coin purse and set the aged velvet in the cooks hand.

    "thank ye captain. must've been a good return on the last shipment eh?" Timberhorn smiled. a young man, maybe 20 at most, zzimus never had asked, but he made a damn FINE stew and the biscuits where never stale.

    "Actually... the 'carnivalii' Hasn't docked yet..." he said, clearing his throat. He was broke.. again. "off with you lad." he said, turning away, the thin cloak he wore wafting in the wind unnaturally around him.
    #5 Desaecula, Apr 8, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2014
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  6. Glug, glug, glug.

    A contented sigh escaped his muzzle as the fine rum eased it's way past his lips: the end of his breakfast. He wiped his hands on a nearby rag, tossing the bones of his meal over the side. He had been chasing a school of fish downriver - ignorant to his presence, rather enjoying the cool water that they had been following for quite some time. The fox looked down towards the fish, heedless to the fact that the murky waters did not hide them. He pulled up his chair, getting quite comfortable before casting the line. His baitless hook settled in the water. He reached for his bottle once more, taking a swig of the liquid inside.

    He hummed a few lines, before occupying himself with a song: "Oh, I struck a deal with my dear old mother - don't take the path of your eldest brother; don't go 'round on warring ground, be a fisherman my dear boy! Father said: get it in your head, or you won't be back for supper: this ain't a tool for a wan-drin' fool, be a fisherman my dear boy!" His eyes caught a fish eyeing his hook: he stopped singing, waiting for it to come closer... and when it did, he turned the pole to the side, hooking the fish in a rather manual manner. He reeled it back, getting it in his boat - his tail puffed up proudly: "You're a fisherman, dear Konkon." He tilted his head back, laughing.

    Time passes, and the boat had taken downriver, all the way back to Hosia. The school of fish having long been brought to the surface, put to a smoker tucked safely on the rickety ship. His ears perked, and he turned to the bay... It was hard to miss the cheers from the ladies and gentlemen back on shore, calling out to the men and women serving in the Navy. He hopped back to the helm, turning out of the way of the incoming Navy - they were well out of range at the moment, but it seemed prudent to give the much larger ships a wide berth. He tilted his head up, watching the flagship pass by - the Sea Wraith. He had seen it once or twice before as it headed out, as well as overheard tales of its handsome Captain from ladies that Konkon had been interested in...

    Still, Konkon felt obliged to support his nation's defenders... He rose his hand, waving enthusiastically at the folks passing by: "Hoooi!" He called to those aboard, "That'sh a damn fine ship you've got there!" He rose his bottle to them, tail thrashing along behind him in pleased excitement: "Cheers!" The fox anima took a good swig of rum, sighing happily. It was not the first time he had done so: after all, he had fished these rivers for years, just as his parents and their grandparents before them. "Welcome back! Where're you lot 'eaded?"
    #6 Boss Frost, Apr 8, 2014
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  7. The sea. It seemed like wholly the wrong place for a Forest Kin, or at least for this one in particular. Gomyar Provis had never set foot on a ship before, and the look of the Sea Wraith made him nervous. But he had accepted the invitation of none other than Lady Ironblood, one he was assured was of greater importance than his work cleaning the forests. Perhaps it was not because his work was unimportant, but because it was slow. The dark magic threatened to consume each bit of land he purified. He did not like leaving the forest untended; he feared there would be a lot of work waiting for him on his return. But he had answered her and come.

    "Why was I asked for? And why, why, does it have to be by sea?" he asked himself as he looked over the ship.

    If he had been in Edelon at the time he could have made some excuse to stay on dry land, and tend to the forest. But his work had taken him further down the Prosperos River, into deeper forest, and he was at a midway between Hosia and Edelon when the Lady asked for him to come. Perhaps if he had waited for her to pass instead of calmly pulling the dark magic out of nearby trees she might have overlooked him entirely. But he had not, and she had seen him, and he had no excuse to keep him from joining her company. He saw her standing on the Sea Wraith, no doubt waiting for everyone she had called for. But he did not want to get on the ship, and stayed firmly next to, but not on, the gangplank that led to the ship.

    "I'm sure we could walk there," he said to himself, without really any hope of it happening.
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  8. Buhn was tired, even though the day had just started. She barely had any sleep. She'd tossed and turned in her sheets, she finally got to the point where she had to force herself to get up. She straightened herself up before walking out onto the branch-way. She smiled and took a deep breath. The air was fresh, and full of life as it always was here in Riven. She looked around and waved to her waking neighbors with a smile.

    Maiin flitted on her skin, making her giggle, "Maiin, please, I'm still not used to it after all these years." Buhn touched her breast where Maiin lay and she could hear Maiin purr. "My sweet Buhnwanah. You are so sensitive"

    This made Buhn giggle, "Oh Maiin, you know, I wonder sometimes if that's a good thing." She walked down the branch-way towards, she didn't know where, she just wanted to go on a walk she felt. She had decided that she might find more work for herself or maybe she could try and practice her tree speak. But she did know she should go check on her connection with the Riven Tree. She wanted to be as close with it as she could, and when she really wanted to let it know she was it's friend, she had to go to the roots.

    Buhn sighed at the thought of having to make the trek back up the great tree, but she knew that these little trips were worth it, because it helped her in the long run. The more she reminded the trees she worked with that she was a friend, the more likely they were to bend to her will without needing to force them to do as she wished.

    She looked up at the canopy, she could even get her water for the day while she was at it. She'd have to probably grab some sunlight first, she didn't really feel like eating at the moment though, she never was hungry in the mornings. "
    Maiin.. what shall I do with myself?" she was so tired, but that did not hinder her. "Do as you wish my Buhnwanah. I do feel though that speaking with the great tree is a wonderful idea for a day such as this."

    Buhn nodded. That was what she would do. She stepped lightly as she found her way down through the maze of branches.
    #8 ChojiYume, Apr 9, 2014
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  9. "To your whore mother's bed!" One of the sailors jeered to Konkon, his mates howling with laughter. They were in good spirits, after all, they were finally home. However, within the hour of their docking, the fox did not see a single sailor leave the Sea Wraith, unlike the other naval ships. There were others coming on board, though, here and there. Odd...

    Ironblood turned, blinking back the sun as she did so. It made her appear surprised at the girl's appearance, but that was not far from the truth. She did not recognize the human before her. Slowly, Ironblood raised her hand, silently accepting the invitation and letter. The girl was speaking again, but Ironblood wasn't listening as she read.


    "...but at this point we both will have to make due.”

    Jolted from her thoughts, the Lady allowed herself a look at this human girl--Ayanne. "Yes," she added at length, rolling up the papers and tucking them into her voluminous sleeve.
    "I suppose we will." More silence as the two women regarded one another. Other than breathing, it appeared the only common thing they shared was their age.

    "You are Calla Marshden's granddaughter."
    Ayanna nodded in confirmation.
    "Until recently, you have apprenticed under her."

    "Yes ma'am. I can prove my credentials, if you want." The tone of voice proved contrary. This woman did not want to be here, did not want to have to prove anything to some puffed up alchemist from the capital. Perhaps she hoped to be dismissed as inferior, ordered to send her grandmother.

    "No need," Ironblood said simply. "The letter of recommendation is sufficient." Ironblood smiled then, brief and quick. Ayanne could not be sure if it had happened at all. "Bring any other possessions you may have on board. We depart before the second moon's ascent." Ironblood caught sight of Gomyar hesitating on the threshold and felt a small pang of guilt. Perhaps she asked too much of him, but there was no way she could ignore what she saw that day. He would have to find his courage, for the good of his Realm.
    #9 Tegan, Apr 9, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2014
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  10. The smell, a cross somewhere between the saltiness of the Prosperos Sea and the goods that merchants from every corner of Viridos pitched to mindless nomads or navy men. Nix sat restlessly upon the dark haired woman's shoulder, his nose twitching to each new scent that promised some delicacy he wished to sink his teeth into. Aela however was not as excited as she stood off from Hosia's late morning throng of assorted creatures. Eyes narrow as she stared down the greasy Nocturne who had promised her a shipment of Tavark goods (especially their mulled wine that had a specific chill to it no matter the heat it was created in). The only problem was... "Are you telling me the shipment won't be here for another week?" Aela was edging closer to the pale man, who was obviously uncomfortable even under all the dark hoods. His red eyes flickered everywhere but her face, causing a jolt of irritation that moved Aela's eye to twitch. Nocturnes could be the absolute worse, and Aela had quite the respect for them. There were the elegant respectable blood drinkers... then there were the lying bastards who were nothing more than a leech to Aela. Sighing angrily she tugged on her red scarf and eyed the man trying to decide where to proceed from here, hand on her sword.

    "I never... ssssaid that it wassss going to be late." The man Vexen said, his hiss that was supposed to be intimidating only causing Aela to roll her eyes. "It issss... jusssst on a different ship." At that revelation Aela looked back to her connection with a raised eyebrow. The two stood under the shade of a calmer booth, staring each other down until finally after the dramatic pause Aela spoke up, "Alright with the cloak and dagger already, what boat?" Her voice was edging on aggressive, and she did well to control it. Vexen pulled his cloak further around his haggard frame and lifted one finger in the direction of a magnificent ship that literally screamed Viridos Navy. Aela's brow knitted, she was no thief or a fence for that matter. In fact this entire transaction with a Tavark merchant was sketchy to begin with. Her original contact having decided to stop trading across the Prosperos and instead keep his business local. Was it even possible for her shipment to somehow have gotten thrown on that ship? Musing with a few plans, she decided that it was worth a shot. Vexen lingered about like the wraith he was while Aela moved on to take care of a grander wraith herself.

    "Sea Wraith eh?" Aela, hands on her hips, looked up the hull of a beautifully crafted ship with the name Sea Wraith intricately engraved into the wood. No doubt a architect's handiwork, and quite a skilled one at that. The sea breeze played in a few stray strands of hair that had escaped her braid as she approached the ramp leading onto the main deck. As her leather boots landed just inches from the ramp she realized how silly she probably would seem asking one of the crew members about a shipment, especially as she watched fresh supplies being boarded. Scratching her head she sighed angrily and kicked the edge of the ramp. Perception wasn't her finest skill, or even one of them to begin with. Now she had made a five day trip all the way to Hosia for no better a reason then to be set up on a bogus shipment? Aela was shortsighted to say the least. Moving aside as per the grumble from a elven navy man, she watched as he boarded and set down a wooden box near some others. The ship reminded Aela of a near decade ago of a similar but less grand of a ship carrying her to this same harbor. It had been such a long time.

    Stretching her arms above her head she sniffed and felt a tug at the edge of her consciousness, turning around she watched as Olane scampered out from behind a group of barrels. Lifting an eyebrow Olane sat up on his hindlegs and pointed at the ship. "Your shipment is on there." Aela frowned down at the Aux and waved off his hidden demand, "No its not, it was a set up. Completely bogus Olane." The creature's eyes stared down Aela, a hard look in the green irises. Glancing back at the boat she realized his intentions, "You cannot be serious." Olane simply smiled something wolfy and a bit grim in Aela's opinion. Licking her dry lips, she stepped onto the ramp boldly and begin to trek upwards until she hit the first board of the ship. One man on the crew looked at her sideways as she slid by him and headed to the back of the boat where she had seen a few more boxes. Olane following her happily where Nix had taken off after Aela had started to climb the ramp. The fox now enjoying a warm biscuit with honey he nicked from a baker's stand.
    #10 Wanderfool, Apr 9, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2014
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  11. Ayanne Marshden, green
    Ayanne very nearly breathed a sigh of relief when she realized she was not about to be called out for her rudeness, that is until she remembered she did not want to be there. But her Grandmother . . . there was no telling her Grandmother no, and apparently there was no telling Lady Ironblood no either.

    "Bring any other possessions you may have on board. We depart before the second moon's ascent."

    "I already carry everything I need," Ayanne answered trying, unsuccessfully, to keep a slight smirk from her face. She said nothing else though, It seemed there was nothing more to be said between the two of them. In their brief meeting Ayanne had come to the conclusion that they very likely had very little in common. Besides, the other woman was supposed to be in charge . . .
    Ayanne turned and walked towards the other side of the ship. Perhaps she should have bowed to the High Alchemist before going, but it was not her way.

    As she leaned against the railing near the boarding ramp, dodging another woman who had seemed to come aboard with a mission, Ayanne spotted a forest kin standing hesitantly near the planks.
    "There's no use putting it off," she called to him. "We're all going to have to go on this light crazed venture whether we like it or not, so you might as well come aboard and get comfortable." It was then she spotted the belt of vials the kin in question was wearing. "You're not a forest purifier by any chance are you?"
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  12. "Hrm," said the fox, taking another swig. "Well, that jusht won't do."

    He docked a few minutes later, offering the dockmaster a smile and a few coins. It wasn't like anyone was going to try and steal The Dirty Old Woman: the thing had clearly seen better days, and it's presence seemed reduce the total wealth of an individual rather than increase it. It was to be docked for a while: Konkon took the time to pack his things, including the smoked fish from earlier in the day. His whiskers twitched with hidden mischief: there was one person important to a ship that even he might be able to pass as.. first, he needed the proper items.

    Thus, he went to the market: the bustle and workings of it always entertained him, but his inebriated brain sparked with mischief. It wasn't long until he found the sort of person he was looking for: a plump man with stains on his shirt and a gruff demeanor. Konkon sauntered over to the man, "Scuze me, shir." The fox bowed his head. "You wouldn't happen to be a ship'sh cook, would you?"

    "What sort of question is that? I am the chief cook of one of the finest vessels in all Hosia!" The proud man puffed his chest out, smiling. Konkon looked over the man with a watery eye, "Hrm... I dunno. I've seen shome ship's cooks, and I've got some stuff to sell... an' I'll give you a big discount if yer in the Navy." The man's eyes sparked as 'discount', and he simply couldn't get his identification out fast enough. Konkon took a good look over it, "Ahh, yah! Yer Navy, a'ight." He nods, taking out the rolls of smoked fish. "Jus' got these this mornin'..."

    The man's face turned red. "...These aren't even fully smoked! You daft, drunken fool... get out of here, you're wasting my time!" He turns, "Damn nutty fox."

    Konkon waited until the man was nearly gone, before discarding the half-cooked fish in a side alley. He hopped atop a barrel, before launching onto a rooftop, following the man for a little bit... and whipping out his fishing pole. He cast the line, the hook speeding through the air... and with a twist of his wrist, caught onto the identification papers sticking just barely from the man's pocket. Konkon breathed a soft sigh, slowly reeling in... as the plump man's papers were lifted from his pocket at a good distance away, Konkon reeled them all the way back.

    He took the papers from his line, tail swishing behind him as he sat down upon the rooftop, editing the papers: "Konkon... Barabara... Merchant-Mariner's Documentation... temporary cook's assistant." He takes a good swig of his rum for further inspiration, before adding a few details to make it more believable, muttering to himself with a grin: "...Damn nutty fox."

    It was a few minutes later, standing in front of the planks along with a few others: Gomyar and Ayanne. The group seemed occupied, but he felt it prudent to raise his hand to them in greeting. "Sorry for bein' a little late."
    #12 Boss Frost, Apr 9, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 10, 2014
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  13. Gomyar made sure to keep out of the way of everyone boarding, unboarding, and all around shuffling along the plank that led up to the ship. He didn't want to go. He had never been on the sea, never been in any water shallower than the forest streams. It wasn't comfortable. It wasn't right for a Kin. Gomyar tapped his rooty foot nervously on the dock.

    You shouldn't walk away from this, a whisper came through his mind. Great. His subconscious again. It's scary, but it might be worth the risk.

    There was nothing more difficult than telling your own subconscious it was mad, and so Gomyar wisely avoided that. The voice spoke to him time and again, usually offering helpful advise, but the last time it had spoken up it told him to show Lady Ironblood what he could do. And now it was telling him to get on a boat. The voice, he concluded, was not doing its job anymore.

    Lady Ironblood looked busily, talking to someone else on the ship. Perhaps he could politely withdraw. If he saw Ironblood again, after the venture was done, he could say he had missed the ship as it was leaving.

    But the human who had the alchemist's attention noticed him, and called down.

    "There's no use putting it off. We're all going to have to go on this light crazed venture whether we like it or not, so you might as well come aboard and get comfortable."

    He sighed. There was nothing for it now. He stepped onto the plank, and with all the enthusiasm of a dead man walked on board. As he came to edge of the plank, and officially onto the Sea Wraith, he heard her ask if he was a purifier. That momentarily distracted him from his nerves.

    "Yes. Very astute. I am Gomyar Provis, and ships are entirely not my element," he said. As if that needed further proving, he stumbled when he walked onto the deck. He could swear he felt the ship sway, though it was just his imagination. "Never been on one before, in fact. Not at all comfortable. Who might you be?"
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  14. Ash of the Heartwood The City of the Great River, this is what they called the place known as Hosia and Ash was almost there. His legs, stag like in nature, bounded back and forth between trees as gracefully as any deer. The rush of air through his antlers igniting something primal in him, for a while he was one with the woods. Leaping over small streams, chasing birds that flew from their nests, hearing the thunderous stomps of his hooves, this was where he was truly happy.

    "Ash," Cora whispered in his thoughts. "ASH!" Hoofs dug into the dirt causing the undertaker to slide a few feet before stopping on the outskirts of town. The ground was starting to become swampy as they got closer and she didn't want him to break his leg in the muck.

    "We are here," Cora said gently, she was currently in his chest where she resided whenever he was about to do a job. As one who took care of the dead Ash had seen many Aux in his time, some where animals, others were objects, but she was the gentle rhythm in his chest. Cora was his heart and for as long as he could remember she had been with him. It goes without saying that he wouldn't be alive without her but before that he had simply been Heartwood. This was all he knew about day he was born, stepping out of a root of the great Riven Tree with a sense of duty on his mind and Cora's hope in his heart.

    But today was not the day to think about life, his calling was in death but he was not the one to gift it to others. Ash had come to put to rest those who lost their lives on a journey for some object, it didn't concern him what it was. Using the butt of his spear he tapped the ground gently to test his footing as he moved closer to town. It didn't take long however before he sighted a wooden cart on the outskirts of town with what appeared to be a young Forest Kin waiting next to it. Round and bushy he ran up and gave Ash a letter before darting off in the direction of town, falling once or twice in the muck before vanishing behind a building.

    Ash had stared at him curiously, he was frightened Cora thought to him but she knew it was not the undertaker that had scared him.

    Unfolding the letter Ash read it in his mind, Cora listening curiously to hear the news.

    "These are the fallen, please return them to the forest."

    Something was wrong, this was not like any job he had ever received before. Every time he was given a body they wanted to tell him the story of their life. Their name, where they came from, what they did for a living, but mostly that they loved them very much. The letter he was given was hastily written and not a single name was on it.

    Crumbling the paper in his hand he set out to do his work. There were thirteen bodies on the cart, each wrapped entirely in palm leaves. First, he grabbed both handles on the cart and dragged it deep into the woods, his hooves slipping in the watery mud of the swamp. He could feel his heart beating faster but he knew it wasn't entirely from his labors. "What is wrong?" he asked aloud to Cora but she responded only in his mind. Something doesn't feel right.

    Stopping at a Black Ash he stared at it for long moments. The tree was large, it's trunk thick and strong and some part's of it's bark were torn away. Holes bore deep into the wood, most likely from various animals and even though they had healed slightly it was not enough.


    Dragging the first body off the cart he opened up the palm leaves near their face, a Halfkin this one was. The soft flesh of her cheek very human but the beautiful fern leaves that grew from her scalp showed the Kin in her. Her eyes were still open however, black as night which was a rare thing as far as he had seen. Touching her face gently to close her eye lids he suddenly felt a jolt of pain in his hand.

    Are you ok?! thought Cora loudly as he opened and closed his hand several times. "I am fine...but they are not..." he said out loud as he stared back at the cart.

    "This journey was cursed..."
    #14 Saphen, Apr 10, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 11, 2014
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  15. "Mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine!"

    The large anima moved down the alleyway, carrying his things. Some personal. Others business. Hammy was hanging off his hip, and swung enough to be able to hit and hurt a person. The letter told him that an expedition was in need a of a quartermaster. He didn't even bother to read the rest. Business was slow and Khaanan Hardhoof needed to get out. The hooves clanked against the dock, and the sound was music to his ears. Adventure was close, and the blacksmith wanted to have a great spot.

    "Mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine!"

    Coming up to the ship, it became more and more apparent that he wasn't the first adventurer to arrive. This wouldn't do. He needed to get the bunk by a window. He wanted to see the open sea.

    "Mine, mine, mine, mine, mine!"

    Khaanan rushed up and onto the ship, not looking to see where he was going.
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  16. Ayanne Marshden, green "Never been on one before, in fact. Not at all comfortable. Who might you be?"
    "Ayanne Marshden,"
    Ayanne answered in greeting "Healer by trade. I've always wondered how the healing of the body compared to the healing of the forest. Perhaps, if nobody does anything stupid that requires my attention, sometime we could talk?" Her manner was different now then it had been before. Now, knowing she had no choice in the matter, she had dropped some of the gruff exterior and slipped on a somewhat friendly smile in an attempt to appear worth talking to. They would need to get along if they were going to pull this hair brained mission off. The annoyance was still clear in her eyes though.

    Before she could say anything else a fox Anima approached raising a hand in what Ayanne assumed was meant to be a hello.
    "Sorry for bein' a little late."
    "I know neither who you are nor where you are supposed to be"
    Ayanne snipped, "But if you are late then I suppose you are yet another individual who I am expected to take care of." She smiled then, and this time it was actually genuine, "Fewer careless injuries you bring me the better we'll get along. I am - " But she was cut off as yet another person rushed aboard the ship in a hurry. The fact that the party in question wasn't even looking where they were going was made obvious by the fact that in his haste he knocked into Ayanne hard enough to nearly send her head first over the railing onto the docks below. The railing that saved her from the fall had caught her in her stomach knocking out all her breath and she was winded when she finally managed to right herself.

    "Perhaps," Ayanne gasped, "Perhaps standing next to the boarding ramp is not the best place to be talking." Her cheeks were a bit red with embarrassment for after all her talk of people not getting hurt she had nearly taken the first tumble.
    #16 Falcon, Apr 10, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2014
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  17. "Ah, I ain't gonna- whoa!" Konkon got nearly spun around as Khaanan ambled by, uneasy on his feet from his current inebriation. It was only his tail that saved him from an embarrassing fall: the extra balance helped a great deal. He paused for a moment, mouth agape. "...Yuh, you're prolly right." Then, he chuckled... it quickly turned into a full, happy laugh, one hand moving to his forehead and the other wrapping around his stomach. He had forgotten all about the sailor's former rudeness, but he was sure that he wanted to come aboard this ship.

    When he was done laughing, he took a quick swig of rum before introducing himself and showing his 'official papers'. "Konkon Barabara. Gonna be in the kitchen of this fine vessel... damn fine ship, by the way. Volunteered to ease the stomachs o' those who're used to slightly higher quality food then what the rest'o the crew'll be eatin'." A lie, but he hoped it was a good one: and hopefully a relief to one or two of the people aboard. "So the worst injuries you'll be seein' outta me might be a little nick from a cookin' knife or a mild burn. Ain't gonna be fightin' anytime soon." He smiled, and with a swish of his tail, began to head up the ramp. He turned when he got to the top, getting out of the way so others can enter - but he waited there for the others in the conversation to get up with him, humor sparkling in his eyes.
    #17 Boss Frost, Apr 10, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 11, 2014
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  18. "Ayanne Marshden. Healer by trade. I've always wondered how the healing of the body compared to the healing of the forest. Perhaps, if nobody does anything stupid that requires my attention, sometime we could talk?"

    Gomyar felt a little better knowing he was talking to a healer. In a sense, he too had felt some kinship with those who healed bodies rather than trees. The truth though was that his ability was most analogous to bloodletting, purging the wood of the dark magic so it can heal on its own. He doubted Ayanne used leeches. Her time, he thought, would be better spent questioning other forest purifiers, who used, to his knowledge, something very like her healing magic.

    He was about to tell her this when more people began arriving on the Wraith. Soon she was distracted and came dangerously close to falling over the railing. Every step Gomyar made getting out of the way only sent him swaying, and nothing he did felt remotely comfortable on this ship. The hard wood at his feet especially displeased him. He was used to the soft soil.

    "Is there a safe place anywhere on this ship?" he asked aloud. "A place less busy and less likely to...move?"
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  19. "Nyashi?" A voice on the brink of anger called.

    "NYASHI?" The voice called again, this time closer and a hell of a lot angrier.

    The girl in question said nothing and simply kept leaning against the tree that she was hiding behind. The person who was calling her was her older sister, Biki, a large girl with large brown hawk wings. She was great to have in a fight, but if you were ever short on cash and bet that you could beat her in a race, you would be rich. And that's the reason why Nyashi had taken off yet.

    "NYASHI?! Get out here, now!!"

    Nyashi grinned and stepped out from behind the tree. She saw Biki's eyes widen then narrow and the older girl began charging forward. If Nyashi stayed in position and tried to handle her on the ground, she would be flattened in an instant. So she flapped her wings twice, and took off into the air. Biki came to a violent stop and began flapping her wings vigorously as she attempted to take off. However, because she was so much larger than Nyahsi, it took her awhile, and by then her younger sister was far away and waving the very thing that Biki had been so angry about--A beautiful, and intricately painted katana. Biki's katana to be exact. But Nyashi needed it for her travels. She couldn't always use Fy'r, her aux, for protection. And of course she could have simply bought her own katana but she always knew that Biki didn't deserve the weapon. The older girl hardly used the thing, it just sat around in her room, looking pretty. Weapons were meant to be used, not put on a pedestal for all to admire and coo over.

    As she flew towards the docks, Nyashi herd her sister's enraged screams fading into the distance. "Good thing she knows when to give up." Nyashi snorted, as she headed towards the ships. When she heard about the new expedition, she had jumped at the chance for easy coin. The sailors would need a messenger to contact their family, and she was a damn fast courier.

    She descended directly on the docks and sauntered towards the ship, her messenger bag smacking against her hip as she walked. As she boarded the ship she glanced around, trying to locate the one in charge.
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  20. Buhn smiled as she went further and further down the weaving branch-ways. The forest was singing it's usual songs today and it was a comfort to her. This poison forest had been her home for many a year, and she refused to think about the things that happened when it became silent. Humming to the melodies she caught Buhn walked further down into the depths.

    She noticed that Maiin was mimicing the sounds of the forest, humming with her. Maiin truly felt so much closer for this, though the tattoo couldn't possibly be any closer to her. Maiin, to Buhn, felt like a part of her that she wouldn't be able to live without even for a moment. She chuckled at that though, there was no way they could be separated, so why should she worry? Maiin was a part of her, whether she liked it or not. But she didn't just like it, she loved it.

    "My Buhnwanah?" The tattoo seemed a little worried. As if it had been trying to get her attention for a little while and wondered why Buhn couldn't hear. "I'm sorry Maiin, I was lost in my thoughts. What is it?" She was still walking making her way down, though not really paying attention to where she was going. "My Buhnwanah, I was saying you might like to be a little carefull. You have almost fallen over the edge of the branches a few times already." Ah sweet Maiin, always watching out for her, but she'd never had a problem before and she was already almost to the bottom. She could tell, for the forest music was getting even louder.

    "I shall be fine Maiin. I walked these branches for many a year, and I have never..." gasping, she felt her foot slip from under her. She had found the edge of the way. She felt her stomach fill with butterflies, and heard Maiin babbling something. She reached out with her hand as she fell, trying to grab the branch, she was lucky enough to pull off the stunt, her fingers had found a groove to grip, but she knew she couldn't stay this way too long. She reached up with her other hand, lodging it onto the groove of the branch. She grunted with effort, "We just HAD to open our mouths."

    She shifted one hand and then the other, getting a better grip, though she hissed in pain as her left hand stung with the movement. She had caught herself with that hand, she was pretty sure she had a few scrapes and bruises, and maybe a sprain somewhere, or a problem with her arm. It had held all her weight. She looked around herself, trying to see if she could easily find a way down without falling to her death or a broken limb. "Maiin, do you see anything below that I can't? Or behind me?"

    The tattoo was now mostly off of her skin, hovering in the air. "My Buhnwanah, the only way I see, is probably the same few ways you do." Curse her luck. Buhn re-set her slipping fingers into the groove. She would have to sidle over to the branch way she saw about thirty feet away or she was going to have to try to climb back up. Though hopefully, a passerby might notice her. She knew though that she was quite low in the Riven tree, and that it was still quite early in the morning, though there had been early risers like her, most Riven-dwellers were waking up about now. She felt choked, and slightly.. A bit scared. She bit her lip, what could she do?
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