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-Lilium-

Things we give up. [artifact]

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How does one describe the sun to a blind man?

With heat.

That was all Eshara felt as he dived down back after Capria. The inquisitor was a strange, capable, mysterious woman, but he had no doubt she would require additional help yet. Even if he knew nothing else of her, it would be enough for the moment. Blinded underwater by the searing light of her powers, Eshara floundered, pushed to the breaking point, in an environment as unfamiliar to him as land was to a fish.

After a brief sensation of weightlessness, he became exactly that. Beached upon the muddy bottom of the well, Eshara winced as he rolled over on a bone, attempting to clear some of the muck from his face so he could see better. He winched again attempting to stand up, stepping on yet another protruding bone, the end point of it jabbing into his legs. For now, he sat down next to Capria next to the bone-white remains of their makeshift bouyancy device.

"You wanna help me do some digging?"

He cast an eye at Capria. If only he had the energy left to run away screaming.

"... one minute. I'm still bleeding somewhere". The soldier replied, sounding impossibly tired, nodding down at him, where blood still dripped from a number of wounds from his body onto the ground. She could go ahead and get started.

True enough to his word, in a minute's time, Eshara got up from his seat and stepped over gingerly. He had spotted and picked up his short sword, dully impressed by the miracle that it was still around, and used it to help Capria dig, prying deep into the mud. "What are we looking for? Child bones?" It was probably not what they were looking for.

 

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"... one minute. I'm still bleeding somewhere"

Capria cannot help but roll her eyes. The crude nature of her mannerisms prevents her from being too outwardly kind. But by the time he takes up that 'minute' to sort himself and make it over to her, she’s standing again. It takes a few seconds to pinpoint what she is searching for, as her clothing sticks to every facet of her frame and belongings. Which makes it hard to find anything really. But after a few plucks and pulls and the exposure of different objects a tiny cylindrical container is produced. The one she wants.

"What are we looking for? Child bones?" It’s painful, stopping another eye roll from taking place in direct view of his eyes. Instead she shakes her head ‘no’ in response.

“Show me your wounds.” Calm, weary, kind. I think you could try to like him. A swirling mixture of thought and emotion. With a slight twist she turns the cap until it's removed. Having already cleansed her fingers of mud by wiping them on her soaked clothes the best she could, she now carefully dips them into the tiny jar. 

An herbal ointment made by herself, the combination of which can close and heal minorly bleeding wounds. As Eshara points them out the pads of her fingers work to smear some of it across each of the small bleeding injuries he incurred. It isn’t her specialty by any means, but she’s been introduced to enough wounds to examine each one to ensure the ability of the salve to heal them. 

“After a few minutes, there may not even be any scars left.” At some point she’d had to crouch again to check his legs and stands, taking a step back. Again having found herself too close within his personal space. For being waterlogged, he's really not too bad looking. I know you can see it. Maybe it’s from being tired, maybe it’s not. Either way she turns her back to him and closes the container to place it back in the pocket she found it. Hiding the burn developing across her face. “Alright,” a temple and eye rub before kneeling down in the mud again, “last favor.” Scoops of mud, muck, and algae are tossed to the side. Her nails digging through the silt in search of something not comprising of the bones of children. 
 

Edited by -Lilium-

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Eshara eyed the bottle of medicine carefully at first. Then he wordlessly acquiesced to her. He had no energy to think her suspicious, or even an annoyance anymore. Unclipping and lifting his waterlogged leather jerkin for her easy access, he showed her his wounds. There were many of them, small, but deep punctures up and down his rugged torso. Some were more jagged and bled more profusely, clear evidence where he had ripped out the offending biters with his hands. Perhaps not the best choice given the filth they had been in, but a difficult one to make between the foul waters and the venom of the eels. He grit his teeth as the ointment was applied. When she was done and checked his legs as well, he gave her a single nod of acknowledgement, and a muttered, but polite, "Thank you" returning to the task at hand, sifting through the detritus. 

After a moment, he inquired after her. "And your wounds?"

Not that he could really help her in kind. He had no medicines on him, and what first aid he could fashion was limited as a result. Nor did he exactly what to take a look at her small-clothes. It was perhaps an exercise in small-talk or civility. 

Or in futility.

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"And your wounds?"

His appreciation is not entirely lost on her, but the next set of words force her vision to cloud over. Blocking her mind from the task at hand if only momentarily. Something expressed physically by the stopping of her work, fingers twitching hesitantly in the muck as her face turns towards him. 

For once weakness becomes her, the idea of allowing another to touch her briefly in an action of respectful kindness a little too much to bear. “I’ll be fine.” Spoken before thought on. There’s no one she will allow in, her misery a path chosen for and by her and her alone. It isn’t about a man touching a woman, but the warmth of skin when presented to that of more skin. Not even necessarily needing intimacy, but one touch is enough to ruin any person’s day.

“But thank you…” Uttered more quietly as if the words are usually lost on her. In reality it’s the discomfort felt at the idea of having ruddy hands scraping across her flesh. More than likely just the tiring day they’d endured.. Which brings about another question. More intended for herself than to be sprung aloud. Out it comes nonetheless, “Is it even day…?”

Something neither of them would be able to answer this far below ground, unless Eshara has the magic to bring forth the sun that is. Capria however doubts his ability to do so. I bet he could warm you up in other ways. That causes her to choke. Possibly clearing water from the depths of her lungs or just choking on the guilt of fire burning against her face as she now finds herself more hurriedly digging in the mud. Unable to find solace in the act and too worried about how her expression might be displayed, to even venture a gander at the sopping wet mercenary looking man standing astride her crouched form.

“After this...I owe you a meal.”

It’s said in the form of an unbreakable promise. Nearly as beguiling as a threat. Staggering, rough, needing to be done on her part really. Capria raises a hand as if to wipe her temple. But, thinking better of how dirty it is, she stops herself and continues to root around, sinking her fingers as deeply as possible, dragging her wrists down and through to scoop up larger amounts. Tossing the thick mess over her shoulder with every new shoveling motion performed.


@Fierach

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Eshara blinked. Was she... was she asking him out to dinner? While he wasn't a man unfamiliar with the concept, they usually didnt come in the aftermath of trekking through an orphanage's sewer system and battling wormspawn.

He took to Capria with a new critical eye. Or perhaps such opportunities did. Speaking of wormspawn though...

"As long as its not more eel", he replied wryly, with a glance back at the carcass of the creature.

"What are you doing Eshara?" A voice in his head asked. Was he really flirting back with an Inquisitor? What was he even doing here? How did a simple artifact recovery mission end up with him at the bottom of a long abandoned well. He didn't know if he would even be able to complete his mission then.

All of those trains of thought abruptly ended as he felt his digging efforts hit something different, more solid. 

"Over here" he indicated, digging up the earth with greater fervor now. 

Edited by Fierach

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Eshara tore up the earth with the fervor of a thirsting man in a desert. Had he managed to find the object of her quest? Was he going to be able to get out of this rank pit and continue with his mission? Finally!

Hauling away great chunks of mud with his hands and makeshift tools, he finally uncovered something hard and white. Intrigued, he redoubled his efforts.

.

.

.

And revealed a giant rib bone, not unlike that of the skeleton of the fast-decaying carcass of the eel from earlier, but larger.

"... thats not what you're looking for is it" he deadpanned, not even asking the question. No the inquisitor didn't strike him as a paleontologist. It was all his fault really, Eshara had to jinx himself by saying more eel.

And so he found more eel. The exasperated man cast an eye over at Capria's efforts.

Edited by Fierach

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"As long as its not more eel.”

It comes as a shock. The man has jokes, how adorable. A perpetual need to laugh twists her mouth into a sly smile. Capria’s entire frame tensing in order to withhold even the slightest hint of amusement beyond that simple expression. 

To her relief he isn’t even aware of it, his hands now as sullied as her own in the leftover filth of a desecrated pool. Before his next words and the utter disappointment at his find can be realized, the woman is at his side. Examining the object in his hands.

“No.” Curt and closed. Rather than feel anything outright distressing her eyes look across the entombed field of mud. Scanning the area and mulling over their situation. Rather than needles in haystacks it’s eel scraps in pond scum. As much effort as Eshara has placed to dig up the piece of rib she cannot think to do the same. The amount of area to cover not to mention a calculation of the time it would take to quarter off and dig the area up… Capria’s eyes shut. Attempts to shut out the ever growing fixation of doubt needling into the back of her skull commence soon thereafter. 

“We’re missing something…” A whisper of futility.

You’ve both spent an awful lot of time looking down...maybe looking around will prove more fruitful to your endeavor. As if hearing something Capria tilts her head. Amber eyes following along. “Look over there…”

Not too far from where the stand the naturally smooth and worn walls of the well are marred by similarly stained bricks. Made from the same stone as the walls themselves. But so long under water and filth they eventually camouflage into the scenery they’d been placed into. 

Movement is made without proceeding thought. Fingers curling against Eshara’s shoulder as she moves forward. “Let’s finish this...and I’ll make sure it’s steak instead of eel.” There’s a shadow of a smile before she’s at the wall and wiping the muck away to better gauge its build. Bricks, larger than average but small enough for either of them to handle on their own. It takes a moment to peel her pant leg from her boot but once down she’s pulling a dagger from a hidden sheath inside of it. Sticking the blade into decayed grout and hammering the hilt with the palm of her other hand. 

It doesn’t take them too long, the bricks slipping one by one from their enclaves and into the mud. Cool musty air greets their faces once the first few are free, and then an opening from which water that managed to seep in streams out. There in the darkness...folded in rotten soggy cloth is what she seeks. Capria doesn’t dare unwrap it, knowing full well the feeling begotten by its presence is enough to tell her what it is. Instead, she makes it disappear from view. Consuming it with the shadows hanging around about their feet. I’ll make sure it stays safe. There’s a wink of red at the edge of the darkness melded between Eshara and Capria. Lost so very quickly with a blink of the eyes. 

“Ever been to Chesterfield?”

Edited by -Lilium-

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Eshara watched the woman work, apparently driven by some sort of divine inspiration. He cast another eye about him, briefing wondering if the object of his search might be down here too.

Unlikely.

One by one she unearthed the bricks, and then retrieved her prize. His eyebrow raised at her spell. He had never seen anything like it before, and somewhat expected her magicks to run the opposite manner of what she had just displayed. 

"Never been. Good food, I hope?" He replied conversationally. To get to Chesterfield they would have to get out of this place first, prize intact.

Edited by Fierach

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Somehow, through magic, determination, or sheer raw grit, the two clambered out of the pit, and hastily quit the orphanage. On their way out, Eshara located what he was looking for as well, a room containing some psionic tech designed to interface with and amplify the power of psychically-sensitive beings, using a crystalline matrix of magitech woven throughout a helmet.

This would be integral to the control schematics of the next Belisarius-Sinistrum class airship, the frigate called the Bane-Sidhe. His job complete, Eshara gratefully accompanied Capria, first to a nearby inn, where they could both hopefully wash off the stench of the sewer and make themselves more presentable. 

After all, it wasn't every day one got invited by an Inquisitor to dinner. Eshara was still on duty as an agent of the Order of Force Majeure. He intended to make a good impression over the hearty meal of steak, and some drinks.

In the end, maybe he made too much of an impression.

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Thread Summary:

Capria Belvardi and Eshara Dominic were a most unusual pair, fated to encounter each other on their respective quests for their respective superiors and factions.

Their chance meeting led them to adventuring together in the depths of a strange, haunted orphanage (seriously, who put a giant sewer system complete with mutant eels here?). Overcoming their trials and tribulations, they developed a form of respect for one another despite their initial wariness and succeeded in their quests with each other's help, Capria in discovering the Mask of Odin, and Eshara in uncovering the psionic magetech needed for the Force Majeure's technological advancement. 

The psionic magetech developed by the orphanage was to be reserve engineered and expanded upon, as it was a precise design used for tuning and amplifying the powers of psychically capable children. The result would be singular, and be a crucial component to be implemented in a new Order of Force Majeure Belisarius-Sinistrum class airship designed to operate arcane weather-manipulating devices. The usage of which was only possible through having an arsenal of psionically-capable individuals, which the Force Majeure readily had access to, being based in the city of Predator's Keep, a psionic haven, or through the powers of its resident "wind goddess", the Librarian Knightess Sheryl Wainwright, as the arcana being used was based on her powers.

Edited by Fierach

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 Addendum to Thread Summary:

There is no specifically defined reasoning behind Capria Belvardi’s interest in the object placed at the center of her investigation. Only that she needs to obtain it and deliver it elsewhere. Having met opposition turned partnership in Eshara, they delve into the shadows of the orphanage to discover the darkness hidden beneath it that shrouds a piece of holy light. Two sides of a coin that call to this particular Inquisitor. 


 

A few days, several showers, and innumerable awkward silences later…

It's a gentle form of knocking. Curled knuckles tap against Eshara’s shoulder in order to get his attention. What he will face in turning are two bamboo skewers with plump portions of meat deftly secured to them. One beef, one chicken. Held just at the height of where he'd been tapped, as the gift giver's other hand holds a small carefully wrapped package of something other at the hip. 

“I know it’s not a meal but I just thought you might be hungry.” A potential form of unspoken apology.

The trip had been long due to her need to stop at several points along the way. Personal business the only shining light she could give to the man as she left him behind each and every time. Clearly not one to explain herself to someone she has yet to understand or know. Their only happenstance being his position in the Order of Force Majeure and hers as a Terran Diplomat. Something they’d eventually shared along the way. Though his surprise had shown in his eyes, his silence regarding the matter reflected her own in that moment. 

“Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten I owe you a real dinner. I’ll keep my word.” Hesitant curves form at the corners of her mouth, but they never reach her eyes. Those darkened pools plagued by the same shadows she wields. Darkness, secrecy, emptiness. However every so often dependent on his expression or mood a fleeting twinkle flickers within. Possibly to highlight the taunts she sends his way.

It wouldn’t be long now, the last leg of their journey. Off in the distance, beyond Eshara, she can see the tones of red, black, and white of a particular insignia. A warning that they’d better get a move on or their ride may take off without them. For this portion she’d dressed down, discarding her usual classic business suit for something more acceptable to the people that would be transporting them. Despite the more common wear, the aura exuded is still authoritatively chilling. A warning for those who attempt to get too close to either of them.

It’s in the manner of walking, paired with the calm stony expression on her face that clearly reads ‘don’t even think about it.’ 

“We should get going.” Like always the words are concise in their meaning. Tones that trail behind her since she’s already begun walking toward the merchant shipping company vessel awaiting their arrival. With her hand free of the kabobs, she loosens the strap of her bag on her shoulder in order to adjust it, tucking the neatly wrapped package she’d been holding in her other hand into its front pocket.

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"Oh... er, both? Where's yours?" was the tentative response at first.

It was a bit of a contrast to the somewhat surly, sarcastic impression she might've had of Eshara at first. During those awkward silences, the foundation of trust that had come about during their perilous quest was built upon in unspoken glances, and small gestures like this one, acts of caring revealing depth beneath their exterior facades. Capria remained enigmatic, Eshara remained stoic, and yet they found a kinship in their respective roles.

Holding onto the meat skewers, he tore strips off it steadily, and used his free hand to heft up his own sizeable backpack. His own mission was all but accomplished, with the very last task of getting it to his superiors remaining to be done. In contrast to her change out outfit to better blend in, he was still dressed the part of a mercenary. A solid cover nomatter where he went, although it did take several washes and many bars of soap to get the smell of eel out of his gear, but somehow he had managed it

"Mhm. A few more of these and I'll let you off easy." Maybe he would. He knew she wouldn't accept that though. Capria had given her word, and like him, that was not something to be broken. 

"Who's our transport?" he inquired.

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“...I’m saving mine for later,” the truth of the wrapped package she’d tucked into her bag. The closer they get the more the symbol pops out. A tribal styled fish. “Oh really now?” Capria doesn’t believe the man too willingly as she views him from the edge of her vision. Versed enough in the hunger of men like himself, she knows better than to let him go without a proper meal. But still, her part of the bargain will have to wait until they make it the rest of the way to Chesterfield.

“The Casper Shipping Company, originally based in Casper and referred to as the Caliban Shipping Company, has far reaching hands. They’ve been known to transport several...things, and will carry us this last leg of the journey.” 

Relaxing her frame as they come on the caravan she positions her right hand on the strap of her bag, once again adjusting it on her shoulder but allowing it to remain. Keeping a loose hold if only to have the hand out of the way. With the other she loosens a pouch at her waste and fingers the bag. Counting its contents through the soft fabric before they come to a complete stop. 

“Aye, what are you do--Ah, you’re my travelers?” A man off to the side of one of the wheeled vessels stops working on the ratchet of a strap and wipes his palms on the sides of his pants. 

“That’d be us. How long do you reckon it’ll take?”

“As long as the road and weather stay clear, we should be there by nightfall, seven hours tops.” 

“Right, where do you want us?” At this point she tosses him the bag and follows the extension of his hand when he points to the second vehicle. 

“The back is fairly empty, should have more than enough space for the two of ya to lay down even.” The smirk is gruff, but the wink is sparkling.

“Mm. Thanks.” Not one to engage such commentary she nods and turns towards their ride. 

“After you, princess.” Capria gestures Eshara on board with a wink while also  throwing her bag into the open back flap. But not before pulling her tin from the front of her shirt. Flipping it open and pulling out one of her signature hand rolled cigarettes, suddenly feeling uncomfortable.
 

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Eshara would have to wonder what kind of men she knew whom kept a grudge over a single meal. 

He personally was the old-fashioned kind, usually it was him buying the meals for a woman, not the other way around. Letting Capria take the lead communicating with her contact, and paying for the transport as well was also quite something. What exactly that something was, he didn't know, but it felt pleasant enough. 

"You know many princesses like me?" He replied gruffly, hauling himself and his pack up the back of the vehicle with a little effort. Setting his gear down in an empty spot, looking fit as a headrest or something to lean against for the journey, he then turned his attention to Capria.

As she pulled out a smokestick, he patted the side of the vehicle audibly to get her attention, and held out his hand for her to grab. "Come on. There's actually more then enough room for you to stay far away if you like"

Edited by Fierach

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Too bad you lack thrill and imagination. Frozen, physically paused, she stands holding the cigarette in her fingers, the tin still in the other hand and unmoving any further. Lost in a wandering stare at nothing in particular. I have plenty of imagination, just not like you’re thinking, so stop sending me visuals. After a moment she blinks, her attention stricken by the sound of her own teeth grinding out of irritation.

“You know many princesses like me?”

The tin is replaced, yet the cigarette she just continues holding not yet ready to set it ablaze. Almost hesitant as she looks down at it.

“Where else in Valucre have you been…” Capria turns to ask him as she takes to climbing into the back herself, caught off guard by his positioning and the fact that she’d already lifted herself up and into it. Nearly headbutting him in the process. His words completely lost on her for a moment.

“There won’t be for much longer, they still need to finish loading it. So we’ll sit off to the side.” Indicated by the weak wave of fingers holding onto the strap of her pack. Her other hand still in his as she climbs aboard. “You can let go now dear, I’ll be sure not to fall all over you.”

It isn’t until after the rest of the crates are loaded and they’ve begun to roll jumpily down the road, she speaks again. Their form of banter amusing to her. It wasn’t that she minded being owed, it was more for Capria that she did not want Eshara to feel that he need owe her anything. Finding him more pleasant to be around than the usual lot she commiserates with. 

“Here,” she pulls out the wrapped paper she had hidden away early. The food packaged there neatly wrapped and tied so as not to destroy that which hides inside. “It’s sweet bread, without raisins, I’m afraid. I’m not particularly fond of dry wrinkled grapes.” 

Carefully she tears a piece of the flaky braided bread and hands it to him. “It’s pretty good.”
 

Edited by -Lilium-

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