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-Lilium-

Things we give up. [artifact]

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"That should be my line. Why, aren't you the very image of a bogeyman who hunts and eats little children?" Eshara deadpanned. Those monsters were so often women in those legends and fairy tales. He considered her for a moment, as if her nose would erupt in boils and a witch's hat would sprout into existence on the spot. She certainly had the demeanor of one, putting on a mask and dropping it just as easily.

He followed her, but at a distance. There was nowhere else to go but forward unfortunately, although he intended to take the earliest fork he could find in the road. Maybe the children knew something of the strange device he was looking for.

Edited by Fierach

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He could have said something a little more original.

“To you maybe. But there are worse things going ‘bump’ in the night than a shadow that likes to eat children for supper.” Low but audible, her voice manages to evade echoing down the rest of the hallway.

Suddenly, a short fiz and crackle notifies her of another joining in on the conversation. Not that he can hear the second voice rebounding in her ear. “Cap, I got what you asked for, but it really isn't much.” When she replies her feet pick up their pace until she's reached the ‘T’ at the end of the hall. Eshara's cautious distance making it easy to put more space between them.

“Alright, then give me what you have.” In order to keep from appearing as if speaking aloud to herself, she keeps her back to the soldier lagging behind her while holding a hushed tone.

“Got company?”

“Yes. Unintentional.”

“Who is it?”

“Some sort of soldier I believe works for an organization somewhere in Terrenus.”

“Is it a he?! Is he cute? I kind of need a date for the weekend, we're going bar crawling. And what better-”

“Focus. Please.”

“Right, right. I'll send the original blueprint of the orphanage to you. But when it was taken over by the previous owner, no new ones were submitted to the city. And from the dilapidated state it was in before falling under the care of a Miss Dhrizzandra, I don't believe much care was placed on the upper levels.”

“Upper levels? I know there's a storage basement, but are there any sub-basements or lower levels further down than that?”

“Nothing in the original records. But underground plumbing and access tunnels aren't that unheard of in buildings this old. Miss Dhrizzandra may not even know if there's anything below the basement.”

“Alright, I'll just have to go down and see for myself. When you spoke to her last, she said she keeps the old files from the previous owner down there. So it’s the most logical place to start.”

“Can you do me a favor Cap…?” The serious nature of her voice causes Capria to quirk a brow, that is immediately adjusted as her expression switches into one of wearisome annoyance. “Can you get his name, and number, and a picture?”

“No.” With that, she disconnects the line and exhales a sigh she didn't realize she'd been sucking air in for.

Maggie is one of my favorite people. She's such a great lady and friend.

She isn't our friend she's an info broker and coworker.

I didn't say she was ‘our’ friend.

There's no further conversation necessary beyond that inwardly made point. Between the two...maybe three of them...Capria cannot decide which of them she'd like to strangle more. All considered as she turns to square off with Eshara as he makes his way to the end of the hall. Calmly and politely taking up the center of it just before it descends and splits to the left and right.

Despite staring him down, her eyes take notice of open and closed doors down the bisected halls. Watching….listening for any disturbance.

“You were right. I don't know you or you I but I could really use your help right now.” No amount of blame would be placed on him if he decided to scoff at, ignore, or walk on by her. “I'll explain what it is if you agree to a bargain. I'll help you with whatever it is you're doing here if you help me.” Fear isn't what guides her current motive, but the acknowledgment of the unknown is. And three sets of eyes are better than a decent set and an aloof set on any given day of the week. “What say you, Soldier?”

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He didn't have an answer for that one. Eshara was still more straightforward and less witty than he liked to be, good for combat, but not for spying. There was no masking that Capria apparently went on to have a conversation with somebody. "Miniature communicator" he thought an agent's tool. As hushed as it was, Eshara was at least that perceptive, if he knew not the contents of the conversation. 

He raised an eyebrow as he came up across the split in the path, with the woman waiting for him. When she proposed her deal, he considered it carefully. He wasn't that inclined on working together, but it could be useful. She did insult him though, and was rude in general, and he didn't really trust her one bit. 

The Custode stared at her for a few moments longer, the uncomfortable silence stretching on until he finally accepted her offer by way of answer. "The name is Eshara. I work for the Order of Force Majeure"

Trust was needed to work together. Truth was needed for trust.

Edited by Fierach

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UZ7K9Bh.jpg?1Empathy is learned. Being able to watch his expression, the movement of his frame and the accented tone of his voice gains something akin to the former from her. Capria can understand his need for a minimal commitment toward the endeavors they face and thusly grants him the information he requests without really asking.

“Well met Eshara. I'm Capria an Inquisitor of the Gaian Church of Terrenus.” Not a lie, but the list could continue on should she want to waste time. She doesn't. Organization and efficiency are key components of her life that she prefers to adhere to. Meaning, that which she needs to be for this particular mission is exactly what she states she is.

Not one for apologies either against or away from her person, if he expected one he wouldn't receive it. Sensitivity isn't something gifted to just anyone. It's saved for those in need of it, not necessarily those that want it. As if to ice the cake she continues, “I'm trying to recover an item that was stolen from a temple some years ago. And I've tracked it to here. The lady we met, Dhizzandra is unaware of what lies below the surface of this orphanage. It is dark and dangerous. And I would prefer to keep it away from the children she cares so much for.” Honesty without complete divulgence into what it is she's trying to find. Trust is earned and never freely given, a thing Capria is very well versed in.

"Also, if you decide to do this. You may want me to bless your weapons beforehand. Whatever is down there is not likely to let its hold on the area go too easily. The more Holy we have, the better off we may be." Next comes the extension of her right hand, whether or not he agrees it's a common courtesy. “So, Eshara... Deal or no deal?” Should he take it the handshake her grip would be firm and just as resolute as the posture and expression she carries. Should he not, the hand would merely slide to hang lazily in her overcoat pocket.


 

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She didn't note what type of item. Eshara caught onto that pretty quickly.

He looks down at her hand, and reached out to shake it, two distinct seperate actions as if he either seriously considered it first, or was either foreign to the notion of the act. "Deal, then. I am looking for a similiar item" he stated passively. "Maybe they're kept in the same room, no?" Less stolen from a temple perhaps, and more like, missing in the accounting of a science lab in the aftermath of a city-wide attack, but to him, the difference was splitting hairs.

"Can you bless firearms?" he asked quietly. The Black Halberd on his back was a symbol of status as much as a formidable weapon of war, and its enchantments allowed it to cut through weaker magicks, armor, and harm supernatural foes, but it was unwieldy in the tight corridors of the building. His other weapons were a shortsword and a heavy pistol. The shortsword was could likely accept blessings, but he didn’t know about if his large caliber sidearm could. He unsheathed the weapon, presenting it to her. It was a simple thing, created solely for war, utilitarian in its design, and stamped with the OFM crest at the base of the blade.

His dominant hand though, lay on the grip of his holstered pistol. Though Custodes usually carried larger firearms, the "mercenary" Eshara didn't. This was his favorite pistol though, a deadly revolver chambered in a cartridge large and powerful enough to stop most humanoid monsters in their tracks regardless of enchantment. 

Edited by Fierach

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UZ7K9Bh.jpg?1Both appreciative and impressed with his judgment and momentary trust in her deal, she releases his hand only to quirk a brow. Although the man looks as though he lives the life of weapons mastery skills, the one he asks about catches her a little off guard. Not to say it doesn’t cause her to crack a slight smile of approval. This causes her eyes to quickly rove his frame as if inspecting his personage. The wear and tear and even the simplicity of such weapons show his dedication to his weapons. Something Capria can even pick up from the weapons themselves.

As with all things she holds a belief in the loyalty of an object to its wielder dependent on the wielder’s care of said object. Enough personality and flair eventually allow for an aura to emanate around such things after a decent amount of time. A history of sorts.

“A few drops and some blessings should see it done,” she remarks toward the question of his firearm. Carefully Capria reaches out to touch and inspect the short sword, deftly turning it in one hand while the other dips into the inner lapel of her coat. Although she takes note of its aspects, there would appear to be a lack of recognition regarding the OFM stamp at its base. Her eyes roll along with the weapon as it turns with the twist of her wrist. Apparently ignorant of the hand on the pistol at his hip as well.

So, he’s a ‘good guy’ then.

That remains to be seen. Good and bad are all about perception, they are not definitively definite in their natures.

The ampule in her hand snaps, the small pop of a glass topper indicating her next movement. The few words that linger on her lips are silently formed. Not that she needs to speak the prayers or the will of her request allowed. It is more for show, so Eshara can see she is performing the deed they discussed. Praising and asking Gaia for her illuminate bestowment of life, knowing that the darkness they face ahead is quickly and quietly creeping towards them. Despite the faint glow of ‘white light’, there are tendrils of shadow that pass between the pads of her fingers, through the grasp of her hands hold, to the weapon. In the event that something happens with the hope that his sword will still be in his possession, Capria will be able to track him down.

“Next, please.”


 

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Eshara thought about it. "Later perhaps." The revolver was one of his favorite weapons, and while it was pretty robust, it was also immalculately tuned to his specifications. Not that he didn't trust her rituals, but if the weapon had its own temper, as much as a piece of wargear could have such a thing.

And then... there was also the fact that he was now using it.

Faster then the vision of ordinary men, Eshara drew his revolver, and had the weapon pointed past Capria, at the darkness beyond them, a click to indicate that it was armed and ready to fire. "Who's there?"

He saw nothing, and expected no answers... but he knew something was present, rolling in the shadows. He was no magically attuned being like that of Knights of the Foce Majeure, or the Terranus Inquisitor, but all men knew Death when it crept toward them, and even animals sensed the unnatural. 

Or he might have been wrong, and there was nothing there all along. Still, Eshara believed it was better to err on the side of caution. His other hand motioned for his new ally to toss him the short sword, he would catch it.

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UZ7K9Bh.jpg?1Slowly, cautiously...the tall woman returns the weapon and slips her hands into her pants pockets. The reach of the darkness she plans to walk into already having an affect on the strange man makes her question her need of his help.

He may not be able to handle this.

I think his reflexes are pretty decent, and he can feel the threat. Maybe 1 + 1 will come in handy...

"Try to keep a firm hold on that, otherwise you might become lost." The phrasing indicating two different scenarios. One in which she means his mind, the other his body. "I would also tell you to stay and wait here, but you're not a child. Whatever you do, though...don't step into my shadow."

There is no expounding on that warning. With a pivot of her heels she begins to proceed down the hallway following the leeching darkness to its source and not entirely excited for waits beyond that breach. However, Capria's imagination is incredibly broad in scope. Logically she refers to the information she'd gathered before arriving at the orphanage. Children as monsters, one in particular named after some sort of a flower with no history or background save the dust clinging to the top of a very large and solid wood bookshelf which is nearly the height of the ceiling. 

In reality they hadn't gone too far down the hallway before she stopped in front of it. Prickling hairs and an overwhelming sense of dread oozes from above and below it to indicate that something lies in wait behind it. Capria's curiosity dwindles, a sigh taking the wind from her speech as she mutters. "Wanna help me move this?" And once they did, there would be a door without a handle.


 

Edited by -Lilium-

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Capria was correct in her assessment. Eshara was twitchy indeed. He couldn’t really be faulted for it though, as he accepted the weapon back, still keeping his gaze trained on that patch of dark. After all, he knew some of the things that could be lurking in the dark. He’s seen some of them too. The Knights of the Force Majeure were more capable of handling such things then he was, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t going to give them his best Hochland try. Eshara was a survivor, and he was capable. That’s all there was to it.

“… I’ll keep that in mind” Eshara replied neutrally as he finally lowered his weapon, cleaving to her request to stay out of her shadow. Eshara lapsed into Theoretical Thought Didactic as he followed her in silence. Theoretical, the inquisitor possessed magical abilities, and could better handle being the vanguard into the shady unknown. Practical, she did have magic and it was always better to stay a few paces apart so they could not be gunned down in one motion.

When they came to the blockade, he obliged her, holstering his weapons to put his considerable strength to good use. The strange door prompted a look, and he glanced at her for her instruction, pulling his pistol in one hand and blade in the other. The questioning look was easy to read, shall they enter using his preferred way... or hers? Ladies first, if she was so inclined.

Edited by Fierach

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UZ7K9Bh.jpg?1Push definitely comes to shove, giving way to their next path. Despite the length of time the shelf had been left unattended it gives way fairly easily. I told you... 1+1. There is no disguising the external roll of her eyes in mental exasperation while the voice within sings a ditty on perspective. Whether or not the man helping her expose the doorway hidden behind the shelf catches it is not her current prerogative.

Dread washes over her senses forcing her skin to prickle reflexively. Capria knowing whatever lies beyond the threshold will be as dark and unkind as a second frost is to freshly bloomed spring flowers. "I don't like this..." It's scant but a whisper nonetheless. A momentary utterance of unforgivable emotion quickly diminished by the hard lines of her cool expression. Gallantry being so forthcoming in the company she's keeping, Capria places her hand on the knobless door and pushes it inward. And nothing jumps out.

When she thinks of it it's none too surprising that the entrance is actually quite welcoming. Sconces on the wall light dramatically in order from the doorway to the end of what initially appears to be a stone walled corridor. No draft, no scent, just an incredibly eerie feeling that filters from one empty hall into the one in which they stand. Such a gentleman, ladies first! So forward she goes, one booted foot after another. Capria moves quickly but sensibly, placing the first step lightly and slowly adding pressure as she raises the other to take a second. Still nothing. However, the sensation of evil hangs more heavily in the narrow aisle. Something she hadn't initially noticed, a proportionate optical illusion. Once inside, the walls as well as the ceiling seem to shrink inward forcing her to walk with bent knees. A quick look over her shoulder and a curious raise of brows beckons Eshara to join her. If she is going down the child-sized hallway...so is he. They shook hands on it. "Well, come on then."


 

Edited by -Lilium-

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Eshara followed after the woman, clearing the sides as he did so, a soldier's instinct. Better safe then sorry. He drew his pistol, and pulled a small flashlight from a holster, advancing atter Capria with one braced over the itger, illuminating the way. 

"I get the feeling there's not much that a lady like you likes", Eshara replied softly, his voice closer to a growl then a whisper. He shone the light on the sides of the walls and ceiling, revealing their shrinking size clearly. "That gets much smaller and I'll get stuck"

Edited by Fierach

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Too tempted by Eshara's words, she snickers. Imagining the large fellow stuck in the hallway by his broad armorclad shoulders. Not that she is in any better of a situation, her height makes for awkward moving even if lithe. Partially bent knees and bracing arms help to keep balance. Fortunately, the walls stay approximately the same size. Unfortunately there's a sudden end hidden by the continuity of the endless illusion of the hallway. One moment Capria is in front of him, the next she's 'gone'. Where she goes is not at all pleasant and leaves her no time to give Eshara warning before he too is being swallowed by the flooring. Magically created and strategically hidden holes for trespassers no doubt. For now, their paths diverge. 

Squishing sounds alight in the darkness with every step she takes. Where she finds herself is cool, damp, spacious, and pitch black. The black cloud of evil still drenches her senses in the same manner as it had in the hallway. No closer than we were. Something brushes past the back of her left calf, soundless in whatever movement it is making to do so. A fact forcing her to keep still and quiet. Knowing full well it isn't the warrior, but rather a creature of malicious intent. Again she hears no movement and receives another probing touch, much more concise than the first. The nature of this hit tells her something of this predator. Warmth dribbles from her right shoulder. Absorbed and spread slowly across her skin by the fabric shrouding it. Still she remains quiet and makes no attempt to run. It wants to chase you. Capria knows this and does not allow it the pleasure of raising a single hair on her body. 

Eshara's drop is nearly as deleterious but more torrential than Capria's. His landing is into a rapidly flowing tunnel of water. There may be some room to breath but the current is a funneled and pressurized one rushing him forward toward places unknown. What little can be seen are mossy growths that cling to the tunnels ceiling and quite possible the walls and floor. But what he can see snaking through them, when able to gain enough footing in the moving water to focus, are long eel like creatures with webbed legs and pointed mouths full of sharp yellow teeth. Every rise to the surface either exposes them or doesn't. What he can feel in the water are tingles of electrical charges threatening to be something much worse should he not find a way out soon. If there even is one.


@Fierach

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@-Lilium-

There were few things more fatal in this business then a surprise, and Eshara was just on the receiving end of one. Bobbing up the surface of the water, the Custode took in a great gasp of air, more out of surprise then any real need, before glancing around frantically.

Woman?” he asked out loud.

Capria!? He asked again, with more urgency this time.

Eshara had not seen much of anything in his drop, and he thought she had fallen with him. His training kicked in and he stabilized himself, treading water easily even with his wargear on. He took a deep breath and sank under water to look for his new companion, to see if she was with him still, only to find a few new companions that were nowhere near what he was looking for. Although with their gleaming fangs, snake-like visage, and ugly maw, the eels looked almost like how Capria acted.

He dismissed the passing fancy that the creatures were related to the unpleasant inquisitor, and was thankful that his revolver was rated and capable of firing underwater. He took aim and pulled the trigger on several of the creatures swimming toward him.

Edited by Fierach

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UZ7K9Bh.jpg?1Worry for Eshara is situationally lacking on Capria's part. He isn't here, and I can't sense him anymore. Meaning she will have to fend for herself. Nothing new. What little portion of solidarity Gaia hasn't provided for survival, ornate training and experience does. 

Seconds tick endlessly by while time is spent painting a picture of the area. What she chooses to lack in sight, eyes shut, is made up for by other senses. Every sound; water dripping from stone, a claw scraping the ceiling, …a distant roar? Every smell; fishy, musty, earthen. Every feeling; a predator circling what it believes to be prey

Static along with slight changes in air pressure warn her when the creature is near. Even the temperature fluctuates as it waxes and wanes its movement. Cold blooded. Natural fact.

Navigating the darkness and extending a reach without corporeal movement is easily done. Simply one shadow oozing, overlapping, to permeate another. Expanding from the center, her, and trailing outward toward and beneath it. A spider building its web in order to catch a pesky fly. Slowly, lashes part to reveal a narrow luminescent lavender glare. Glowing light absorbed by slick mucus slathered cylindrical coiled flesh. Thus exposing veins of lightning not yet ignited along the animals body.

A less than horrifying face set behind the squaring of its mouth quickly snaps at the neck in her direction. Its opal eyes blinded by a life lived in darkness yet still able to distinguish the illumination of her own. Overgrown fish. Despite living with webbed and clawed feet it isn't fast enough to evade her movement. Nothing more than the flick of a wrist, outstretched fingers rising and closing into a fist. Shadows spanning the distance react preternaturally. Spiking upwards, stabbing into and wrapping around it to the motion choreographed by Capria's hand.


@Fierach

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Who built an underground waterway under an orphanage? Who for some forsaken reason filled it with ravenous eels? Where were they so Eshara could wring their necks?

Questions for another time. There were already too many of the little buggers coming at him. A few were already drifting down in the water, bodies leaking crimson freely, but he was at a disadvantage. The soldier was much slower in the water, and what would have been clean, interceptions in the air were futile misses as a number of the eels got past his guard and sunk their teeth into his body.

Eshara broke the surface with a hiss of pain, chopping and bashing at the serpentine creatures as he felt them trying to pull him down, deeper into the body of wayer. The surface of the water churned under the thrashing of all parties involved and he roared his defiance, simultaneously firing at more eels coming in while digging the blessed shortsword in his other hand into whatever was already on him.

Edited by Fierach

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