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An Adventurer's Calling: Pilgrimmage to Lanternway

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Whispers chuckled at the kobold's comment, finding it funny that someone like Aygis would be so eager to die. However, a tinge of concern crossed her mind, as if such fatalism was a strange sight where she came from. She quickly waved it off however, and continued eating her food. The fire crackled comfortably, casting shadows on the soft soil where they were sitting. Looking up, the stars could be seen through the openings in the tree's canopy, and the lizard girl found herself very relaxed, her lids growing heavier. However, she had enough energy for a few more rounds of conversation, if Aygis wanted so.

"I sure hope you don't die this time though. Would be hard to carry all that loot back by myself." She said, smiling warmly. "... And to be honest, I wouldn't want anything bad happening to you. You deserve more than a sudden death in some flooded ruins."

Whispers finished her morsel, bone and all, and threw a few more pieces of firewood on the bonfire to keep it alive. She retrieved a piece of cloth from her backpack and dabbed it with some water from her waterskin, cleaning her muzzle with it with a few swipes. It was too dark for birds to be awake, so she figured that if she wanted to clean her teeth, she would have to wait until morning, as cryptic as that may sound to outsiders. Looking Aygis, she noticed that the kobold girl had a small piece of food over her lip she hadn't noticed.

"Uh, you have a... Hold still." She asked softly, using the cloth to softly wipe the bit of food from her companion's upper lip. "There. You can use the cloth if you want too."

Whispers smiled before stretching a bit, a yawn instinctively escaping her mouth as the night progressed into a more peaceful lull.

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Aygis held quite still while Whispers used her cloth to dab at the kobold's jaw, cleaning up a rare trace of salted meat on her behalf. It was a somewhat curious motion; Aygis likely would have dealt with it herself eventually, but she definitely appreciated the gesture. It was tender, in a way. Sort of like watching a human brush hair from another human's face. She glanced upward without moving too much, and made eye contact with Whispers. She was tender and gentle while tending to the magus, just as the magus had been when tending to her wounds. They were exchanging respectful gestures, that much was for certain, and Aygis thought quite highly of that. Kobolds didn't have close families, after all; the lizard wizard herself scoffed at romantic gestures for the most part, seeing them as unnecessary. But it was nice to have someone to gently minister to your own self, that was for certain. Aygis rather liked it when Whispers treated her this way. 

It was over too soon for her liking, and eventually silence reigned for the both of them for the next several minutes. The fire still crackled at their feet, and Whispers yawned loudly next to her, prompting a yawn from the kobold as well. It seemed there was nothing to it then; they both needed some rest. However, Aygis was no fool to adventuring. She knew that they couldn't rest while the fire continued.

"You should get some rest first." Aygis suggested. "I can keep an eye on the fire while you sleep. Then I can go to bed when it goes out, and we can get a move on when we're both well-rested and awake."

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"Are you sure about that?" Whispers asked, trying to hold back another yawn. She hadn't noticed her weariness until now, and some sleep seemed like a rather fine idea.

After making sure Aygis wasn't bothered by it, Whispers got a bit more comfortable under the makeshift blanket and closed her eyes. It took her a few moments before she finally drifted into sleep. A tiny hint of a snore could be heard from the lizard girl as she moved slightly, looking for a more comfortable position to rest in. Eventually, she would settle into laying on her side, her arm laying right under her cheek for support and her face shifted towards Aygis. Whispers was accustomed to sleeping in the wilderness, sometimes having to do it in her days as one of her tribe's hunters when she was tracking the movement of wild game, so her rest would probably go uninterrupted until morning.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The sunrise peeked through the canopy of the tree, the sunshine waking Whispers up slowly. Aygis was still at her side, sleeping peacefully under the cover, a few hints of a cute snore leaving her snout. She smiled softly and moved out of the cover, carefully as to not wake up her companion. Opening her backpack, she rummaged around it for a few seconds before retrieving a small flask of clear liquid, the cork popping out easily without much forcing.

With a few looks to her side and making sure they were still alone, Whisper sat by the remains of the fire and carefully removed her top clothes, revealing her bare torso to the elements before procceeding to softly apply the liquid to her scales. The liquid seemed to seep into the grooves between her scales and her skin, removing dirt and other debris from it and letting her clean it up with a clean piece of cloth. The liquid had a very subtle scent, perhaps hard to perceive at first but it was definitely there. It was a pleasant scent, like a combination between lavender and chamomille.

Finishing with a gentle dab on her face and satisfied of her clean state, Whispers put her clothes back while singing a soft tune in the language of her people. By now, Aygis would be either already awake or nearly so, or so she thought, so she expected for them to be moving in a few hours at the latest.

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Aygis could only grin tiredly at Whispers' protest. It was a surefire sign, then, that the lizard girl wasn't about to refuse the opportunity to get some sleep, and yet she was still so eager to avoid seeming selfish. It was sweet of her, in her way, and Aygis appreciated the gesture. Her companion was a fair enough person, she realized as she watched her rearrange her blankets and turn over. It was dark now, and though the fire still burned valiantly into the night, in the tight confines of their makeshift camp there was plenty of room to sleep undisturbed by the flickering flames and dancing shadows. So it was, that the kobold kept watch into the late hours of the night, while not too far from her the lizard woman slept soundly.

Having some time to herself, Aygis kept busy mostly by reaching into her bag and rearranging the contents within as soundlessly as possible. As she'd mentioned before, the well-crafted leather bag was filled almost to bursting with rocks. Most of them weren't terribly big, and could comfortably fit into the scaled magus' palm. They were smooth and round, and most of them happened to be of a regular, almost disc-like shape. Aygis actually didn't collect these out of habit, as some might assume. Rather, the kobold had found out quite early in her adventuring days that traps and pitfalls meant to slay stronger creatures than a mere kobold were a far greater threat to someone of her physique than normal. As a result, the mage had taken to carrying around a satchel of stones that she could hurl easily, which she tried to use in every possible way. Over time, and with many stones, Aygis had learned how to throw the rocks with an almost invariable accuracy. She could trigger traps from afar, disable some mechanisms with ease, and even more importantly she'd learned how to konk somebody up the head with a stone from a fair distance away. In turn, she'd left most of the loot and supplies to her other partners. To date, she had yet to accept much loot from any of her quests, save for her staff and her cloak.

She sorted through her stones mostly for comfort's sake now, admiring the soft mottled blues in the formation of each rock until the campsite darkened. With the fire beginning to fade, Aygis quietly put her rocks away and prepared for bed. She didn't have much of the blanket to herself, unfortunately, but the enchanted blue garment she wore was quite well-made, and given her proximity to the fire only a few minutes prior, it was warm and smoky, and Aygis was able to get comfortable quite easily. She laid back against the cool floor beneath them, and drifted off the sleep. Just before her eyes closed, she caught one last, rare glimpse of Whispers sleeping soundly close by, and became acutely aware of the woman's soft, gentle breathing. It was a slow, soothing sound, and before she was quite aware of it, it lulled Aygis to sleep.


The following morning found Aygis waking up slowly and peacefully to a soft, and guttural tune. It invaded the dark, sleepy spaces of her noggin rather politely, and eventually the Kobold was able to climb up and out of her slumber. The magus rubbed the sleep from her eyes slowly, blinking intermittently as she grew used to the brilliant sunlight, and the fresh air, smelling of old, smoky wood, a gentle breeze and...chamomile, perhaps? Aygis slunk out from the blanket she'd spent the night under, and finally got her bearings. The camp was clear, and Whispers was up and awake, undoubtedly the source of the tune. The lizard woman looked to be quite wakeful, and refreshed even. Aygis had yet to meet anybody who looked so alert and aware after sleeping on the earth overnight.

"Good morning." She growled, still a little sleepy. She gave a hapless wave with one hand before looking around them. There wasn't much time to dawdle, she reminded herself. The Lanternway--the adventure--awaited them.

"We should probably get a move on after some kind of breakfast?" Aygis suggested, pulling up her hood to cover her eyes somewhat from the sunlight. "The Lanternway is going to be prepared for anything; we should at least be prepared for something, right?" 

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"Yes, breakfast sounds good." Whispers aknowledged, her hands calmly moving to her bag.

The lizard girl retrieved a pair of large, juicy oranges and a wrapped loaf of bread, apparently neatly filled with dry meats.

"It's not a lot for breakfast, but it's quite balanced I presume." She continued, giving Aygis a half of the bread and an orange.

The lizard girl sat next to the kobold and bit down on the bread, the salty taste of the dried meat a good compliment for the slightly floury texture of the bread. Her mind wandered for a few minutes, her eyes focusing on nothing in particular. A bird here and there, the rustling of the tree branches...

"I can imagine how pretty this place would have been before the whispernight..." She said, finally looking at Aygis.

"Perhaps someday it will go back to it's former glory. Maybe I'll even be still alive to see it."

A few more minutes passed, her bread was gone and all she had left was the orange. Figuring she could eat and walk, she signaled Aygis as to continue their journey into the ruins.

Pass a couple arches, the sprawling mess of rubble and masonry gave the city a ghastly face, Whisper's senses remaining alert even when still eating fruit. A hand always hovered near her daggers, and her eyes instinctually scanned the area.

"Any idea where we could go? I don't notice any obvious roads... Perhaps..."

It took a few seconds for the lizard girl to recognize they were standing on the broken remains of a watch tower, an old, dead reminder of civilization. A slight sensr of melancholy invaded her as she stepped on a broken shield, perhaps the last posession a soldier ever held in their hands.

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Some may have called their breakfast simple, but to Aygis she saw it as easy. Between the two of them, the orange and bread made for an easy meal to tuck into, and a tasty one at that. The salty meat and doughy bread were a welcome contrast to the sweet fruit they ate alongside it, and provided the both of them a moment of silence to enjoy their meal. The silence itself didn't feel too awkward, either. Aygis was quite happy that she could enjoy the quiet with Whispers. It was nice, just sitting there as a pear, savoring their meal wordlessly. It also gave the kobold a chance to think ahead, to the task ahead of them.

There was a great deal of strategy to consider when sending in only the two of them to face the Lanternway. They were two, instead of many, which would make things easy if they elected to slink around silently and avoid direct conflict. And should things go south, having someone to watch her back also made things a little easier. After seeing how Whispers had dealt with the spiders the night prior, she was confident in her company's talents, too. They'd do just fine, so long as they entered each encounter well-prepared.

13 hours ago, Maverick said:

"I can imagine how pretty this place would have been before the whispernight..."

Whispers interrupted her thoughts quietly, and they both quickly turned to face each other with a speed that startled the kobold girl. Had she seemed too eager to meet the girl's stare? The magus shrunk into her robes, nodding quietly while attempting to hide the heat in her cheeks from view.

13 hours ago, Maverick said:

"Perhaps someday it will go back to it's former glory. Maybe I'll even be still alive to see it."

Hmm. Aygis wasn't quite certain if places like this would ever truly recover. The Whispernight was dangerous, and thorough in its corruption. Unlike manmade disasters, this was ethereal, the sort of damage that could tear worlds asunder. Looking onwards towards the ruins, with her tall aqueducts and sunken buildings, Aygis could see what she meant, though. Now that the carnage and terror had settled, the Lanternway was still beautiful, in its own sad, haunted way. Aygis looked on for a minute longer, until her companion was finished eating as well. 

They duo broke camp, and prepared for everything Aygis had hoped for, and as they hit the trail again the Kobold's mood began to swell as anticipation began to take root. It took minutes until she finally realized why she was so eager, and at that point they had already left the dirt and soil of the forest behind, in favor of the cobbled, ruined streets of the Lanternway.

The adventure had begun!

The two of them stepped over ruined roads and crumbling arches, Aygis staring all around with child-like glee as she soaked in the decrepit bones of the old world. It was, without any argument otherwise, a whole new realm of whimsy for the mage to immerse herself into. Beneath her feet, the stones were warm and smooth, worn away by erosion, and heated to a pleasant degree by the sun overhead. Somewhere, far far away, a tower crumbled into the water. Even from here, she could imagine the thrashing and splashing as those stones collapsed beneath the waves. She took a long deep breath, and exhaled loudly, wholly satisfied. 

13 hours ago, Maverick said:

"Any idea where we could go? I don't notice any obvious roads... Perhaps..."

Her companion fell silent as she stepped over a broken shield, and Aygis herself glanced down. The watch tower had been knocked over long ago; the mage could tell by the way the stones had settled into one another, slowly allowing salt and dirt and blood to wedge the stones together, only for wind to erase any signs that the stones had ever been separate. One such stone caught her attention; a smooth, palm-sized brick that had fallen free long ago. Rain had smoothed it away, to the point where it was nearly as flat as a throwing disk. She picked up the stone, looking at it closely. It was pretty, white and solid. She gave it a toss onto smoother stones ahead of them, side over side like she were trying to roll a coin.

The stone sailed neatly through the air, and crumbled on impact into chunks. The kobold guffawed, and looked back at her companion.

"We aren't just here to sight-see, Whispers." She reminded her firmly, but pleasantly. "We're here for the Cavern of Blades, remember?"

The last time Aygis had been here with a group, finding the Cavern had been easy, as the guides had taken them through the rubble, directly to the building in question. Without such a luxury now, Aygis had to improvise.

"Let's see...the Cavern of Blades was very close to the waters. Let's head towards that tower we saw crumbling prior." She suggested. "That way, if there are any real landmarks to show us the way, we'll have an easy time spotting them by the shoreside."

 

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Aygis had the right idea. A higher view from a vantage point was a hunter's best friend, and Whisper's bow would prove effective from a higher position as well in case the undead finally decided to show their decayed faces. Nodding along, she took the lead and walked cautiously towards the crumbled tower. It was a couple minutes of walking at most so the lizard girl remained mostly silent for the duration, scanning her surroundings just in case. It didn't take long for them to eventually reach the ruins of the tower, which luckily still had enough height to prove advantageous.

Climbing it, however, would prove a different case altogether.

Whispers could probably do it faster, throwing a rope afterwards for Aygis to follow suit.

"Well, I think I have some rope around here... Maybe if I go up first I can help you climb up faster. That way we can d-"

Whispers suddenly fell silent and her tail shot up in alert. Her expression remained neutral for a few seconds, before looking to the right. Without a word, Whispers took hold of Aygis and held her to her chest, quickly falling back under a piece of rubble covered with a ragged tarp. Just as the duo hid, a revenant soldier loudly slumped upon a windowsill near their previous location, it's head frantically swinging, like in search of something... Or someone.

Remaining silent, with a hand on her lips and another on Aygis', she sat there unflinching, controlling her breath. She could hear a couple more zombies scanning the area, probably attracted by the sound of the tower as it fell. Luckily, she had an idea.

Zombies had poor to no eyesight right? Unless there was someone controlling them with magic, as long as they were stealthy, they could probably evade them long enough to escape. And the only way to escape was up...

As the zombie moved to keep searching, Whispers grabbed Aygis' hand and the two began to skulk forward, back towards the tower base. Once they reached it, Whispers signaled to Aygis to climb on her back. That way, Whispers would take both of them up the tower without delay and Aygis could have some vantage to attack if it was needed.

Luckily, the climb was uneventful, eventually reaching a stable floor in the tallest part of the tower. The lizard girl exhaled hard, sitting to take a moment to rest and gather her bearings.

"That was very close... I'm sorry if acted too roughly. I guess my instincts just kicked in." She said to the Kobold, wiping her brow with her arm. As the rush of danger subsided, she began giggling a bit, taking deep breaths. "My heart is beating so fast haha... Here, feel it."

Whispers gently grabbed Aygis hand and placed on her chest, giggling in a combination of nerves and relief. If anything, she was happy they had come out unarmed from that.

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Aygis fell in step behind Whispers, and the duo crept through the old seaside ruins in silence. The gentle noise of lapping water was comforting, but it lacked the familiar cries of seabirds, and the permeating chill of death made relaxing difficult. Still, her robes were soft and mostly warm, and it kept the cold and fog at bay, which was a godsend. She pressed her nubstik deep into the earth with each step, and did her best to keep up. In time, the looming tower was just before them, and Aygis and Whispers both paused to look up at it.

Aygis frowned. It'd be a bit of an ugly climb, for someone of her stature.

On 3/25/2019 at 9:47 PM, Maverick said:

"Well, I think I have some rope around here... Maybe if I go up first I can help you climb up faster. That way we can d-"

Whisper fell silent, and darted for Aygis, snatching her up. The Kobold gave a small squeak of surprise, but it was muffled by the lizard-woman's large, warm hands. She clutched her close, staying silent. From their proximity, Aygis could feel the woman's rising and falling chest, and the rough, rapid pounding of her heart. Nearby, the source of her alarm reared its ugly, mishapen head.

The zombie was close, and it almost surely wasn't alone, if her hearing was correct. Her partner retreated quickly, step by silent step, until they were further away from the undead menace. Whispers stopped with her back against the tower behind them, and Aygis looked up at her, uncertainly. She didn't say anything to the mage, only gestured for her to.

Aygis coughed, surprised.

Whispers wanted her to climb on her.

It was...obvious that she meant for them to scale the tower, but the motion was crude, and kind of suggestive, in a way. The mage swallowed her embarrassment, thankfully, and did as she was instructed, climbing aboard the woman quickly. She clung on for dear life, while Whispers scambled up the tower quickly. From her place, she could feel the tense, powerful muscles beneath her partner's flesh, how they moved and strained with each motion.

Aygis was probably glowing red with shame, at this point. Her palms were awful sweaty, for a cold-blooded lizard.

They scaled upward, before finally coming to rest. Aygis released the lizard girl quickly and hopped away, wiping her palms on her robes. The wind up her breezed and billowed about her, and she shuddered a bit, cold. They were high enough up to get a better look at things now, thankfully. She pretended to do that, instead of look at her partner for a bit. 

On 3/25/2019 at 9:47 PM, Maverick said:

"That was very close... I'm sorry if acted too roughly. I guess my instincts just kicked in." She said to the Kobold, wiping her brow with her arm. As the rush of danger subsided, she began giggling a bit, taking deep breaths. "My heart is beating so fast haha... Here, feel it."

Aygis didn't have enough time to flinch away before Whispers took her hand and pressed it to her chest.

Oh no...

Her breast was just as tough and chiseled as her back, lean and powerful, with that strong, beating heart beneath it all. Aygis would have bit her lip, if she could have. She tucked her tail between her legs, and eventually pulled away, exhaling and laughing at the same time.

"That...hah...was some climb." She admitted, getting her bearings. "Though, I have to say it was a bit dull. I expected more than zombies from the Whispernight, you know?" She glanced around, trying her best to take their surroundings in seriously now. She stepped away from Whispers for now, and did her best to put the mission first.

"Right, so...cave. We're looking for that waterside cave, right?" She scanned their immediate surroundings, or what important landmarks she could find. Lanternway was massive, in terms of space, but there was more blank space than things of note. That wasn't because the place had been empty in life. Beneath the dirt and tall grass, she could see stone and tile and roads and cobbles. Now, so much of it was tossed asunder, buried and hurled away. 

Still, the ruins were pretty.

The Cavern of Blade was visible from here, indeed, but a fair distance away. There were a few landmarks to point them in the right direction, if need be, but it was a straight shot. Aygis turned back to Whisper and, after deliberating a moment, snatched her hand to grab her attention.

"Hey, hey!" She chirped. "There's our spot!"

She jabbed a fat claw in the direction of the Cavern, traced the line to the tower.

"It's a quick shot from here. We could get there in a jiffy, I bet."

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A few seconds ticked past, and she eventually realized that they hadn't gone anywhere yet. Despite her immense enthusiasm, it wasn't enough to magically move them to the cave on its own. They were still atop a tower, which they'd have to climb back down when they were ready to move on.

She also recalled that she was still clutching Whispers' hand, and she hastily dropped it. She was making a lot of junior mistakes today!

"Anyway..." The word rolled off her tongue slowly, lethargically, as she attempted to recover her composure. 

"It shouldn't be too hard to get to th Cavern of Blades from here, then. Nice and quick, a short jaunt down the road." It was probably a bit farther than that, sure, but not by much. In fact, Aygis imagined that even with a greater distance between them and the Cavern, it'd still be a short walk forward, and little else. Which, as she stood here, looking over the ruins of Lanternway, felt kind of melancholic. Around them, away from the Cavern, away from the way they needed to go, impressive ruins and misshapen towers dominated the landscape, inviting the duo to just explore the world beyond their planned path. 

Aygis stared.

The rest of the ruins were almost assuredly dangerous, the ancient, sleepless skeleton of a dead world that could swallow them whole if unchecked. The Cavern of Blades was, very clearly, the place to be if you wanted treasure or weapons.

But Lanternway was the place to be if the party wanted an adventure. A story to tell.

"A-actually, I think I'm wrong?" The kobold said, uncertainly, looking at her companion. She steeled herself, and tried to sound confident. "I mean...there's no way it's that easy, right? There's probably something along the way that'll make things hard. Or, the Cavern of Blades could even be invaded by now. Maybe...maybe we should check out Lanternway?" She gave a shrug, and played the rest of her hand. "Truth be told, I just want to sightsee and fight some monsters, maybe. I don't really care about finding any new weapons."

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