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Searching for the Crown of Asteria [Relic Quest]

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Background Context

Long ago in times of strife and conflict long forgotten, a crown was lost. It wasn't a crown of royalty or a tool to demonstrate a particularly bloodline. Rather it was one forged of blood and fire, thousands of lives falling or rising at its will. Though the crown itself could not be destroyed despite hundreds of powerful sorcerers and intellects working laboriously to decimate the relic, they weren't able to inflict so much as a scratch upon it. So they hid it away, deep in the underground where not a single person would ever be able to hear of it, much less find it.

Or so it was believed.

For centuries the crown was guarded by a secret group in Renovatio that spread throughout Nu Martyr and beyond. The faction, originally sailing to Renovatio from Terrenus, was the Church of Three; a near cult like religion which believes in worship of all three gods: Gaia, Time, and Space. It was always their solemn belief that, unlike in Gaianism or the preachings of Odin Haze, these three were merciless gods. An ideology said to be deeply influenced by the religious conflicts of Tellus Mater. Those who are part of the Church of Three of Renovation descent view the God of Time much the same as they would the All-Creator. One in the same, in fact. 

Thus when those in charge could no longer bare the risk of having Asteria's crown fall into the wrong hands, they turned it toward the Church of Three. With the Church's extreme secrecy and unwillingness to bend before those they considered Heretics, such a godly relic was considered safe in their silent possession. 

It was a common belief that the Church of Three was an indomitable group throughout history, a stance recently challenged in modern Terrenus by a necromancer named Lilith Reiter and her cult of power hungry warmongers. The necromancer's desire to obtain lost pieces of armor previously belonging to the Witch King Zengi proved to be the Church's downfall in Terrenus.

Upon retrieving the chest plate of Zengi's armor from an underground labyrinth hidden under the city of Tia in Terrenus, Lilith Reiter also took a single living prisoner with her; one who ultimately was unable to resist her power and told of their most valuable treasure. 

The crown of Asteria

Image result for dark crown

 

@Aleksei

Edited by Ataraxy

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A large, burly man with thick logs of hair red as blood slammed a wooden mug against the bar table, the ale within sloshing about and spilling out. His large chest heaved in laughter while his paw of a hand slammed again his younger brother's back. Each of his seemingly sculpted biceps had a Lunar Tattoo on them, stretching and shrinking as the muscles contracted or anything expanded. Warriors from birth the Eriksons were known around those parts as the Lions, owners of Avylon's medium sized organization Lion Corp. Now, however, Creg Erikson drank in his first attempt to expand into Nu Martyr.

A darkly lit tavern called the Lion's Mane. 

His younger brother, Joey, drank as well. A big goofy smile stretching across his scarred features. Both his biceps as well bore the Lunar Mark of the Commander. Though they'd never seen her directly and had been marked by a first generation Paragon, both brothers were loyal to Her. As we're all Paragons. 

A letter was received the other day, one sealed by a wax stamp shaped like a Lunar Mark. If rumors about the Commander were accurate then Creg doubted it was written by her personally, though it no doubt portrayed her personal will. 

He still hadn't opened it. That much responsibility was well beyond his capabilities and the fear of letting down the Commander was all consuming. Partly because of the loyalty he felt, but mostly because of the pure fear she inspired. Just the thought of crossing her was enough to make any Paragon contemplate death. 

"Lookin' like a success, aye brother?" Joey asked, a fierce look in his eyes. "Let us continue this streak of victories and finally open the letter? Keeping it closed might anger some folks we'd be smart not ta."

"Aye, you're probably right," Creg grumbled, reach across the counter to grab the unopened white letter. All it took was a flick of his finger to open it up.

He'd barely read the first few words before his face blanched and body began to tremble.

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[Letter Start]

To Creg and Joey Erikson of Lion Corp,

On behalf of the Commander the two of you are tasked with aiding in the retrieval of Asteria's Crown. This item is need to know and should not be spread randomly. Should the wrong ears hear of the Cult's goals, the price will be taken from both of you. Make no mistake, this is a high value mission which will be led by the Commander herself. 

Expect her arrival within the week. Be ready for the Commander is not one to sit around and do nothing. The moment she arrives may be the moment the quest begins. 

The job tasked to the two of you second generation Paragons is to guide and aid the Commander maneuver around Renovatio. The exact location of the relic is unknown, though there are leads which the Commander will or will not share with you as she sees fit. 

Remember: the Commander is not to be taken lightly. The death of two Paragons means absolutely nothing to her long term plan, though I do not dare assume I know what those are. 

Serve well and make the world kneel.

Yours truly,

Saturn, one of the Commander's Risen

 

P.S. Avoid questions if you enjoy having your head attached to your shoulders.

[Letter End]

Edited by Ataraxy

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Joey read over the shoulders of his elder brother, taking no notice of the latter's expression. Soon a smile spread across his face, and an eager glint reflected in his eyes. 

"Aye brother, a mission with Her? This is our opportunity! If we can prove ourselves ta Her, she'll reward us with riches we've only imagined! Perhaps even minor relics!"

The youngest Erikson brother was lost in his fantasy, distracted by the thought of rewards. Creg rolled his eyes at the antics of his brother, knowing that he was pretending to be unaware of the danger for Creg's sake. Creg's wariness had kept them both alive and successful, but there were times were he would go overboard. 

Joey dropped the facade after seeing his brother relax, before saying, "I'll tell the boys that we will soon be off on a private mission, so they'll have to look out for each other for a while. They know the drill by now."

As Joey walked away, Creg returned his focus to the missive.

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Creg frowned, rubbing the ever deepening crease between his eyes. An honor? Absolutely. A chance for a bountiful reward? Highly likely? But the chance of death? Just as possible, if not more. 

"Oh boy," he muttered quietly to himself. "I 'ope Joey dun get 'is 'opes up to high. Else he end up 6 feet under."

He shifted his weight from the stool and drowned the small bucket of ale he'd poured himself as a reward. Alright, time to get ready. Since his stubborn ass hadn't opened it up until now, thanks the Grand Kommadant he eventually had opened it up, the Commander could arrive at literally any second. With a final bang of the large mug Creg sauntered over to a group of wartorn looking soldiers. 

"Y'all boys ready to make some real gold?" He asked , jingling a bag of gold in front of them. Some might think about just robbing him, though those fools would be new to the parts and not likely to survive long. Despite the current group of mercenaries sitting in front of him not being Paragons, they were halfway popular in the surrounding villages and decent enough to live on war. Better they die than he and Joey. "Cause if ya are, well, do I got a job for you."

The six men and three women looked at each, grins all around; Creg Erikson giving a job? He was probably one of the only people they wouldn't have to worry 'bout not paying them. Man with Creg's reputation would never hold out on them last second. Or any second. Would cause his whole damn company to come falling down.

"Aye, Creg. You can count us in. When do we start?"

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Creg smirked, before answering, "Soon. We are escorting a client of, er, very 'igh importance. So yous' all better be on ya best behavior, otherwise not even I can save ya from tha' cruel clutches of fate. Aye?"

The nine in front of him kept grinning as though they had not a care in the world. "Aye, boss, whatever ya say!" answered the nine in unison. 

Creg's smirk didn't so much as waver at their response, but he was mentally calculating the losses they would suffer when the nine idiots in front of him were inevitably killed. He nodded, saying, "Alright, aye, yous' all are a passionate lot for sure. Yous' all are the best of the best that we 'ave at the minute, so yous'll 'ave to do. Go get ya affairs in order, and be ready ta go at my word." He turned away from the group, looking for his younger brother. Spotting him across the room, he made eye contact and nodded to signal his intent to regroup. Joey nodded back, and returned to his conversation to wrap it up.

Edited by Archeos

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Creg started walking towards the door, and another patron fell in line with his steps, their third-in-command. Name of Svag Pinträ, he had been with the company for a number of years and was in good standing with most members, Creg included. None of the band used his name due to the unfortunate naming sense of his parents and a string of unfortunate losses resulting from associated incidents. Most simply referred to him as 'Third'.

Third kept his voice low, addressing Creg in manner that would prevent eavesdropping, saying, "This is a serious matter, aye boss? You normally don't take tha' pawns among us unless you are preparing for casualties."

Creg nodded slightly, confirming Third's words. "Take some of ya closest men and women and 'ide for a few weeks. Matter of fact, don't return unless I personally come ta get ya'. I got a bad feelin' in ma gut. Ya got it?"

Third didn't respond with words, and simply turned back towards the tables he had been lurking near earlier. He whispered to a few men and women, and they all got up and retreated out of the back of the establishment. Creg returned his attention to his right, seeing Joey making his way over. He pushed open the front door, and went out onto the deck to wait for their client, Joey right behind him.

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It wasn't four hours in the next morning when a the tavern's door started to slam against its hinges like a man possessed. Of course, it wasn't possessed and it wasn't slamming. Someone was knocking on the entrance door incredibly hard. So hard, in fact, that the mere act of knowing was threatening to blow the door right off its hinges. Creg and Joey both woke, both in sweat, and both wishing they hadn't fallen asleep. The person at the door was most likely the Commander.

If they'd kept Her waiting...

Luckily Creg had kept on his clothes during the night, despite the heat which usually drove him to sleep naked, so he was able to easily jump to his feet and race down the stairs. Taking a second to fix his hair, he would have taken another to pray to the gods but he usually sent his prayers to the Commander, so he skipped over that rather easily. He reached out to unlock the door and it was flung open from the other side, revealing a woman slightly shorter than what the Commander was rumored to be. Black hair, red eyes, and long black lines flowing down her body. A silent, eerie crow perched on the woman's shoulder.

Creg gulped despite himself, feeling both a sense of relief and a sense of dread. It was one of the Commander's Risen Servants. Her personal guard, so to speak. And not just one of them, but the captain. He'd heard that she was nearly the first nor the last nor the most powerful in full out warfare. But if the blood assassin wanted you dead, you died. Eventually.

"Hello, Risen Venus," Creg said politely, clearing the gruffness from his voice with a cough. 

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Venus silently stepped into the tavern while maintaining a cool glare toward Creg. He backed up to give her space as Joey rushed down the stairs, nearly tripping. Creg turned to face his brother, lamenting the poor timing of his clumsiness. Joey paced towards his brother, and they both knelt in front of Venus. It was well known within the order that to any slight shown towards a Risen Servant, dire consequences would surely follow.

Please tell me she isn't pissed at us... Creg thought to himself, sparing a cursory glance upwards in anticipation of their impending demise. However, the Risen Servant spared them no mind as she stepped aside. A moment's relief for the two brothers was cut short as they watched Venus kneel towards the still-open tavern door.

Creg's mind went blank as he realized the significance of the action. He heard footsteps as a figure entered through the door frame, but he dared neither make a sound nor look up. Both he and his brother busied themselves studying the mundane wood patterns on the floorboard with bated breath, as they awaited a command.

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