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Lacernella Rubra

The Red Tower.

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“No. I don’t want to go to Mageside City.” There was a finality in her tone that spoke volumes. Shanna was rarely a creature of somber tones and final decisions, but it was clear this matter was not for joking, nor was it negotiable.

Her tone lightened much more after that, however, and that usual placid smile returned to her visage. “Mm! I love fish! We should definitely get stuff ready and leave tomorrow, then! Or even today! And we don’t need horses, silly. We’ll just go back to Umbra, and take the airship to Vdara. It’ll be much faster, and we won’t have to walk at all.”

It was an easy enough thing, it seemed. Shanna gives a pleased look as her map unfurls from nowhere across the table. A single pointer finger touches the town labeled on the coast.

“Here. And I’m super excited to go, so let’s get going!” Shanna exclaims. Once Jaro has seen the map, she rolls it up and it disappears once more.

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Jaro had only really been teasing about going to Mageside City. Now however he was only evermore curious about just what had happened between Shanna and whatever college this was that she came from. It also had the unintended side-affect of completely derailing Shanna from his inquiries about just how in the great ocean of magic they were supposed to find her insanity driven quest for her precious grimoires. His eyebrow had perked in a rather pronounced matter as she mentioned an Airship.

"Airship?" Jaro entirely didn't like the sound of whatever the hells that was. If it saved them both of them, well him mostly, from walking it surely couldn't be all that terrible. His inner musings interrupted as he looked at the gibberish that was the map. Geography hadn't been a strong suit of his on the best of days and now that he was in what was effectively a new world he had given up on it entirely. Shanna seemed to be guided by something other then something so mundane as cardinal directions or landmarks anyway. 

"All my stuff is already packed." Not adding that he was waiting for her to break out of her nightmare fueled fugue so they could be about it for pressing issues of his own. "What is this about Leviathan scales?" He asked as he stood with a grand stretch even as he mentally prepared himself for the journey back to Umbra and this 'airship'. 

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“Mhm! Airship.” Shanna offers, a slow grin spreading along her visage. “So, we’re gonna go to Vdara and see if we can’t find some leviathan scales. They’re super useful and really rare, so it’ll be tough, but I think we can manage.” Turning about face, Shanna leads the way as she continues to explain. Hopefully Jaro can keep up.

“So we have to get some, and then Mister Blood God Rafael will give us an airship that will allow us to explore places we weren’t gonna be able to reach before. It’ll also turn up our timetable because we won’t have to walk everywhere, so we’ll be going faster.”

Shanna taps her chin then. “Right, it’ll be fun!” She tugs Jaro off to their newest adventure.

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Shanna sighs heavily as she sinks into the warm water of her bath. It had been quite a trip, between Valinde and Orisia, truth be told, she was pleased to be home. Rubra tower was her safe haven from the chaos she brought on a daily basis, somewhere she did not have to worry about harming others. For now, it was solitude and quiet – save for Brutus’ slight snoring from the other side of the room.

Hazel eyes closed as she leans backwards, worrying her bottom lip. What was it that drove her to such lengths to hunt for books? Some days even Shanna wonders why she still searches when it is obvious they are determined to elude her. Was it power? Shanna was not the power hungry type, so why did she insist on hunting for books that would grant her even more power than she already possessed? Greed, perhaps? Shanna rarely wanted for anything, and not because she had money to spend, but because she desperately tried to make the best of all situations. The generosity of others has never been lost to the young woman, but she has also seen the other side of the coin just as often. People were quite cruel when the whim would strike them.

The answer is much more simple than base needs and sin – Shanna desires power to restore all that was lost in the Whispernight. The aberration that has torn across Genesaris and lay waste to so many cities. If only there was a way to repair what was lost….surely the key was in the books. The Ars Nocturne. The five great grimoires whispered in fairy tales and foreboding stories told around campfires. Shanna knew just how true those stories were, however, as three of the books rested in her own care. While three of them was a significant boost to her knowledge – she required all five.

“Ah, Brutus…What am I doing?” There is no response save for a snore. “Surely everyone must think me a fool…maybe I am. I just want to fix things…Maybe they’re not meant to be fixed.” Her head raises from the back of the tub as a hand trails through the water, leaving little whirlpools behind. “Maybe I’m just kidding myself.” Shanna sighs heavily as she stands, rivulets of water cascading down her body as she steps out of the tub onto the cool stone of the floor. Shivering briefly, she wraps quickly in a plush robe as she moves from the bathing room into the room with her bed.

It is a comfortable enough room, with room for a twin size bed. A thick, plush rug is beneath her feet, crimson in color – it flows to the fireplace, located at the back of the room. In the corner are the three grimoires, neatly lined in a row on special book stands and covered in glass. Each one of them has an oddity about them, one contains a large eye in the center, while another a mouth, and one an ear. Shanna doesn’t quite know the significance of this yet, but she will learn it in time, she is sure.

“Ah, Sometimes a fools hope is all you have though.” Shanna offers as she falls backwards onto the bed.

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The trip home was somber and quiet, each person seeming to be lost in their thoughts as Shanna navigates the Airship back towards Umbra. She veers off to the North a bit as they approach, and smiles when the sight of the Red Tower appears in her sights.

It is not so impressive, but it is home. Even after residing there for a year, there is still the gaping hole in the ceiling of the top floor – which Shanna has no intention of fixing, instead it has been turned into a garden. The wide-bottom base fills most of their view, as Shanna pulls the airship as close as she dares and turns off the engines. They are settled in a nearby field just before the sloping of the Cold Mountains, nestled at the base and just before the snowy caps. The tower sits as a beacon against the stark landscape, a bright and unyielding vision of warmth against the bitter cold that surrounds the mountains and all that they touch.

Shanna turns to her passengers and gives a small smile.

6a1tYxo.jpg“Welcome to The Red Tower. This is my home.” She states, even as she reaches to pull the lever that will lower the hatch for them to exit the vehicle. An aging man, grey in hair and stern looking peers up at them from below with a bit of mirth in his wrinkled gaze.

“I see you bring home more people, Lady Shanna.” Tristram states, even as a small chuckle escapes his mouth. He is the steward of the tower, responsible for all of its affairs and trading business while Jaro and Shanna are away, or even when they are present, as neither of them seem to care about such things.

“Yeah! I made new friends! I found Vadil in Dairut, and I think this is their sibling…I didn’t get their name.” She contemplates that for a moment, hamster wheel spinning in her brain. The hamster falls off and she shrugs before offering another vapid grin. “This is Tristram, he’s really nice. He’ll help you get a bed and a warm meal, I’m sure Beth has something cooked up by now, since I know you saw the airship coming.”

“OF course, Lady Shanna.” Tristram gives a small lifting of one side of his lips, before motioning to the children. “This way, let’s find you some clothes and a bath, first.” He offers, noting that both stink higher than the stables, at the moment.

Shanna steps out of the airship, after tidying it up a bit and putting things back where they belong. She peers around to find Jaw Finder, before waving a hand once they are spotted.

“You didn’t get too cold up there, did you?” Shanna asks, concern in her gaze. The closer one got to the Cold Mountains to cooler the air seemed, it was crisp and bitter and her breath came in small puffs of clouds. “Mmm, this is The Red Tower, let’s get inside where it’s warm!” She exclaims.

Leading the way, Shanna presses forward after Tristram and the children. They enter through large doors, which are closed behind them. To the immediate right is another set of large doors that lead to the stable, if the smell is any indication. A few steps in, and to the left is the blacksmith area, where Tristram and Bartleby often argue over bottles of liquor while challenging each other to random acts of smithing.

The area then breaks off into rooms, spanning the rest of the large area so that people might find themselves able to sleep at night. The rooms are not overly lavish, but no one has complained yet, and they seem happy enough, so Shanna does not worry about it. At the very back of the area is the lift, a magical device that allowed them to go from floor to floor without climbing a hundred and one stairs.

Tristram takes the children to the side, approaching another elderly woman. Beth stands at a gracious height, with only a slight stoop in her back from age. She smiles warmly at the children, her graying hair frayed about beneath her cap.

“Lookit the wee ones.” She gasps. “We have never had children here…” Her voice is gravely and rumbles with a pleased note. “I’ll get to cook all your favorites! I’ll start right now! Cookies for everyone!” Beth cries as she runs towards the stairs (She never uses the lift, the magic in it makes her wary.) Shanna chuckles at this, and turns to Jaw Finder as she waits for Jaw Finder to take everything in for a moment before rapidly speaking once more.

“So this is just the first floor, uhm, there’s lots of floors, but I’m not sure where you’d want to sleep….Do you prefer to be warm or cooler?” She asks.0UepznA.jpg

Lumbering towards them at that moment, comes a large white wolf. Brutus glowers at Shanna as his jowls open and close several times in irritation. Shanna gives a sheepish look before waving a hand.

“Ohhi…Sorry I left you behind, I just got busy and then I didn’t want to risk taking you into the jungle, which was really a good thing because you know, jungle, and poisons.”

“Quiet.” Brutus speaks with a resounding boom. Shanna squeaks and immediately silences as he gives her a scrutinizing glare. “As long as you’re home now. And you’re not leaving me behind again.” He growls the last, his golden gaze flickering to Jaw Finder briefly as he sits on his haunches and sniffs the air towards the strange creature.

“What did you bring home this time?”

“Ah! Jaw Finder, Brutus, Brutus, Jaw Finder.” Shanna regains her grin.

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The trip was spent being rather tired for Fadil, the day before had been extremely busy, and they were content to pass out on a pile of stuffed animals with their brother.  Jaw Finder spent the entire trip laying on the top of the airship, plopping out the hardened lenses and returning to their natural black hue.   Jaw Finder noticed as they passed the city of Umbra, from far away it looked like the innards of the fish which lived at the bottom of the ocean, the skin there was see through and like Umbra, had veins flowing without an outer layer to cover them up.  heading north the air was getting colder, Jaw Finder had ways to adapt to extreme colds but it hadn't reached that yet.

When the airship landed, Fadil followed Shanna off, making sure to be in their best behavior as for them, this was an exceedingly important moment.  They said "Fadil"  like Shanna was their drill instructor or something, Fadil was also sure to thank Shanna and make sure Vadil did as well before being led off by the old man.

Jaw Finder was lounging on the roof, content to take in the smells for a bit and lounge.  Hearing Shanna's words and seeing her wave, they replied "air lacks heat, but people adapt, tower location is hardly coldest.  mountain across ocean filled with cold, too cold for even most winds, soft bodies there named mountain Blaurg.  Top of Blaurg point of overwhelming cold."  Jaw Finder wondered whatever happened to that soft body tribe that lived near there, it had been quite a while since Jaw Finder had split ways there.  with these thoughts still in their head, Jaw Finder lept down silently, landing next to Shanna on their hind legs.  "I will Follow Mage entering soft body nest, warm undisputed winner of personal preference."  Jaw Finder began taking some things that Shanna pointed towards the soft body nest.  It was a bit hard to carry such a large pile of plant fiber animals and a heavy bag that Shanna had asked Jaw Finder not to open.  there was a sweat smell in the air around it, but Jaw Finder listened and didn't investigate.

Entering the nest was easier than other Soft Body nests as the entryway was actually a reasonable height, although it looked like most of the doors inside were still soft body scaled which would be tricky, although luckily there was a place to put the pile of soft body soft things down.

Jaw Finder then saw a peculiar white canine, it smelled somehow like both a wolf and a demon, mixed together.  It was a kind of creature that Jaw Finder had not seen before.  regrettably it could talk, which around soft bodies quickly meant "not for eating", it also had mage's scent, this was perhaps what Soft Bodies called 'a pet'.  Jaw Finder was flicking their tongue to find all this out.  "to mix demon with wolf grants speech abilities.  is you a creation belonging to soft bodies that create, or another thing all together.  I is Jaw Finder, does there exist other Brutuses that can be eaten?"

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“This Blaurg place doesn’t sound like very much fun.” Shanna intones as Jaw Finder describes it. As they enter the large floor, she giggles at the thought of Jaw Finder being more apt to be warm rather than cold. It shouldn’t be an amusing thought, really, but Shanna has always been odd in that regard. The things that they had brought were set just inside the door, and a few of the people that lived in the tower came to collect them.

Shanna kept only a few small bags for herself. Of course, anything Jaw Finder wanted, they were more than welcome to. Shanna made sure to note this to Jaw Finder, should they desire anything within the sacks. The arrival of Brutus halted any of that discussion, however.

“I am not a man-made thing. I am a familiar – a creature that is bound to a mage or witch, and stays with them until death. We help them control magic and guide them on their path of learning.” Brutus states regally, his nose inclining to the air just a tad as he sniffs.

“And I am not for eating.” The Hellhound offers rather abruptly. Shanna chuckles at that, and shakes her head as her attention is focused on Jaw Finder once more.

“No, I don’t have anymore Brutus’, but there are wolves and coyotes that come down from the mountain looking for food, so if you’re inclined to eat them, you’re welcome to.” She offers before grinning widely.

“I have a garden, too, so you could always seek out plants there, if you wanna. I get the feeling you’d prefer meat, however.” Shanna turns to face the innards of the lowest level of the tower, the high ceiling scraping nearly 14 feet, and the lift a large square of 8x8. It is well sized, for they use it to transport goods and other necessities to the higher levels. Next to it, is a set of stairs should one prefer to travel in that manner. While the doors here, and in the kitchen were normal size, Jaw Finder would find that the higher they went, the larger the doors. The door to the grand library, afterall, was nearly as tall as the ceilings and as wide as the lift.

“I thought we might rest here for a bit, and then head out to Port Kyros. I’ve always wanted to check it out, and they have a temple to Lord Rafael there! I can send him my prayers when we get there, and hopefully it will help us find another one of my books!” Shanna chirps. “Let’s head up, I think I have a soft spot for you to sleep in, in the library if you choose, or I can make room in my room, or I’m sure we can find space.” She waves a hand, as though this is no matter to be stuck on.

“For now, let’s get some food. I think I smell a roast on the pit.” Shanna offers as she leads Jaw Finder towards the lift. As soon as they are both in, along with Brutus, she pushes a single button and the lift whirrs to life as they begin their ascent to the next floor. The ride is smooth and gentle, even as they stop at the kitchens. Beth is busy preparing cookies, but motions to one of the other bodies in the kitchen to help them.

Hannah approaches, the woman mousy with dark brown hair and missing a few teeth. “How can I help ye?” She asks.

“Uhm, if we could just get some of that roast that smells so good, that’d be great.” Shanna offers. Hannah nods and moves to cut generous slices for them both (Jaw Finders is more generous, as Hannah assumes the creature will likely eat more than Miss Shanna.) Shanna coos at this and takes her plate to sit at a table off to the side as she sets Jaw Finders plate in front of them.

“I hope you like it!” She offers.  

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"Soft bodies exhibit lack of innate knowledge, utilization of creatures that have knowledge definite action that assists survivability.  In this way, perhaps I is also Mage's familiar."  Jaw Finder looks at Shanna.
"Flavor exclusivity is an understandable concept.  The scent tastes of demon and dog, but also strong scent of Soft Bodies, codes of soft bodies are ones that bind.  Hunting to protect a nest is a duty that holds respect." 

Jaw Finder followed Shanna throughout the tower, taking note at both the size and the abundant scents of different soft bodies, it might be more apt to call this place a hive instead of a nest.  The size of things were odd, while some newer parts on the first floor were a bit of what Jaw Finder had come to expect as it was scaled to soft bodies, the older and higher parts felt more accommodating of larger creatures such as Jaw Finder.  was this the nest/hive of another, taller species before, or did the soft bodies here have a problem with low ceilings.  Standing in the room that ascended was a bit odd, such things wouldn't be needed if soft bodies were stronger, or knew to conserve space.  "those that stand strong sleep at any location.  the best location is close to Mage, like you has said, wolves and coyotes may seek food at the tall nest, you is vulnerable to being eaten." Jaw Finder puts their hand on Shanna's head, Jaw Finder had learned in the past that this action was how large soft bodies comforted small soft bodies, but it was still just this big clawed reptile hand just sort of sitting on top of Shanna's head for the rest of the elevator ride. 

Jaw Finder tastes the smell of soft body processed food, with two strong ones sticking out.  The scent of soft body cooked wheat, mixed with several sweet smelling plants.  there was also something that smelled like hog meat, but was probably the tiny soft hogs that soft bodies bred.  a bunch of Soft bodies were tending to food preparation, the room was quite hot from all the cooking.  Jaw Finder was somewhat familiar with the soft body concept of 'sadness'.  While it wasn't an emotion that people experienced, Jaw Finder always felt that if they could, they would first feel 'sad' about how soft bodies had to go to such lengths to make so many things edible for them.  But, if there was one other thing this tragedy of soft body weakness meant, it was that they could create all sorts of flavors by combining completely unrelated foods and using heat in different ways.  whether this was net positive or net negative however, remained to be seen.

Jaw Finder follows Shanna's lead in sitting down at a table as Hannah carves part of the roast.  Jaw Finder turns a chair across from Shanna sideways and sits down, it looked goofy for such a large lizard to be sitting in a normal wooden chair, but the chair somehow didn't break under the weight, it didn't even buckle or make noises.  when the plates were brought over, Jaw Finder noticed an odd look from Hannah, not quiet one of 'what the hell is that thing' but a bit more 'what the heck is that thing'.  Jaw Finder didn't pay much head to it. 

Jaw Finder eats the roast with their hands, not caring that the food is hot.  they go slower than they normally would, they know that soft body food works better when eaten slowly, and that when eating with soft bodies, they eat slowly as well.  "is tall nest the place of you's birth?  Jaw Finder knows that soft bodies have feelings of great attachment to personal nest, call it 'home' this is not how people live.  only nests are for hatchlings made by parent that stays, after hatching, person is weak, comparable state to soft bodies.  Hatchlings have sense of 'home', when it leaves so too does the new person.  closest person can get after that is parent that stays, protecting new person from nothing, to egg, to hatchling.  I is a parent that stays, many nests were built and tended.  Role as parent, creates fascination with soft bodies.  whole species of Hatchlings, an existence brimming with mystery."  Jaw Finder eats a whole slice of roast with a single bite.  "Mage is two extremes, high resemblance to hatchling even compared to soft bodies, essence of person revealed in actions... Something else included.  I has strong senses."  Jaw Finder sticks out their tongue and points at it.  "something tasted since first met that lack resemblance to other soft bodies, idea of it being unique to 'home' region decided.  Soft Bodies at tall nest lack extra flavor.  what is Mage?"

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