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Lunaris, Taen... It was her first official visit to the imperial capital, and yet she had not the time to truly take-in all the wonders the city had to offer. Lunaris was certainly fascinating, from what she was able to see of it, but it wasn't long before her and her men had moved to the northeastern outskirts. A small convoy of trucks and jeeps, outfitted in desert pattern, but also with prominent House Karradeen emblems painted on their sides, were waiting for orders to move out. Through the jungle and across the mountains lies Taen's desert quadrant, a desolate place where many adventurers have lost their lives. But Abigail Karradeen didn't intend to venture into the desert ill-prepared. Like most of her men, she was an experienced sailor and was most at home on the water, which made he work extra diligently to prepare this expedition for a land devoid of water. The traditional burgundy and white naval uniforms had been replaced with khaki and brown outfits, and tricorn hats replaced with fedoras and pith helmets, the latter of which Abigail was wearing herself. Extra supplies of food, water, fuel and vehicle parts had been loaded into one of the trucks, while the other carried extra weapons and men. Several horses would also be part of the convoy, in case the desert or the mountains proved too much for the motorized transports. Most importantly, Abigail had seen to it that some more experienced explorers had been added to the expedition roster. While she was loath to trust her life to whims of mercenaries, she knew that neither she, nor her men, could navigate the wilderness on their own. They needed experienced adventurers to help them overcome whatever obstacles the land put in their way. Not to mention, most mercenaries and explorers had at least some skill in a fight, and there was sure to be conflict... The main reason House Karradeen had an interest in the desert was because of a long-lost artifact, the Soul Speaker, which was believed to be located somewhere in the deep desert reaches. It had not been sought previously, because there were few clues as to exactly where in the desert it might be hidden. That is, until academics in Andelusia uncovered some lost texts, revealing key information about the artifact's final resting place. Even then, Abigail may not have cared, but for the situation that arose just days later. The two scholars who had uncovered the clues were kidnapped by agents working for the rising pirate lord, Maximilian Karval, a populist rabble-rouser who had carved a niche among both the criminal class and the poor and downtrodden of Ursa Madeum. It was only by chance that the affiliation of Karval's men was revealed, but knowing that an increasingly troublesome raider was seeking such an artifact was cause for tremendous concern. A pirate in possession of such a powerful item was a threat to all honest sailors, and such a reality could not be allowed to exist. Luckily, the clue the men had discovered had been shared with their associates, and it could thus be passed on to other interested parties. Hence, Abigail Karradeen now stood beside the jeep she would be riding in, looking over largely incomplete map of the Taen that she purchased from a guild in Lunaris. So much of the region remained unmapped, or unexplored entirely, meaning that she could only trust this piece of parchment so long before they'd be on their own. That was where the contracted explorers came in, however. Whenever it was they saw fit to join up with the expedition, that is... "How soon will they be arriving?" she inquired impatiently. "Any moment now." Squire John Dicken, a skilled sharpshooter and one of Abigail's top lieutenants, replied in a low, raspy voice. "The longer we wait, the further ahead that bastard Karval gets." she grumbled, folding the map back up and crossing her arms as she waited. @Voldemort @Lady Gilaen
Chaos had a way of putting one's plans off course in a way... Thunder cracked the sky, and a portal spewed forth what looked to be an endless amount of creatures upon the hot sands of the desert. Copious screams and chatter filled the air, confusion and bedlam in all corners, with answers on short supply. Among the possums, the hedgehogs, the pangolins and the armadillos, one stood to return civility back to the masses. "Order! There will be order!" Among the armadillos, Darius was King, and in that, he was King of all of the Jin Dynasty. After some commotion, it appeared the people were calming, allowing Darius to speak to them clearly. "My people, there has clearly been a mishap in our world, but hold fast and we will make our way to the nearest shelter we can find." "My King, where are we?" One of his advisers asked. "Surely we are somewhere else in the Lenay desert. We shall go west and look for our neighbors, the Munti, and seek their aid. It should not be a long journey for us." How little the young ruler knew, for they were nowhere near the Lenay desert, nor were they even still on their home planet...
Desert Quadrant After what seemed like an eternity of traveling through an endless array of mountainous terrain, Lilith finally found herself across the quadrant's threshold and entering into the furtherest of the four. If it hadn't been obvious to the necromancer why no one ventured so far out before, a couple minutes into the quadrant certainly answered that question for her. Powerful winds blasted past her and speeds not unlike those of a high level hurricane while simultaneously pelting her with a stream of sand particles. Desert Wolves howled in the distance, having either found their food or believing it had just come wandering to them instead. Lilith half hoped they'd track her down. As an undying she didn't really feel hunger for food but perhaps some of their memory would give a clue as to where the blade of despair was kept. Though she'd only told Ankou and Ziva of Zengi's Gauntlet, the powerful artifact currently covering her right hand, she'd omitted any word regarding the Heartbane blade. The artifact would be her last resort. A trump card of sorts. A weapon that she would only rely on in times of great need. For the moment, anyways. With her ambitions toward power, there were no shortage of people who wanted her dead. Lilith had no doubt that at some point in the near future she'd need a way to come up on top when she was about to be crushed beneath the foot of others. Not another, but multiple. An ominous gut feeling continued to tug its way into her thoughts. Now armed with the S-Class gauntlet, only two kinds of warriors posed a threat to her. Those with an equal artifact, or multiple strong artifacts, and the Peacekeepers of Terrenus. The Commander of Death was fairly confident she could handily defeat one Peacekeeper at a time, but in her current state taking on two or more would prove incredibly troublesome. With a second S-class item at her side, even 3 Peacekeepers would have a fight on their hands. Reaching up to rearrange the scarf around the bottom half of her face, Lilith pushed on into the quadrant. Despite the complete lack of information, news, or even rumors about Heartbane in recent years, the negative energy radiating from deeper into the desert quadrant told Lilith something powerful was in the distance. Heartbane being the only reasonable item she could think of which would summon such negative energy. Combine that with the tendency of Taen to pull in a variety of strange, randomly powerful items such as the gauntlet she wore, Lilith found the possibility hard to doubt.