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[Valinde] Lay me to rest.

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Dearest Rafael,

                It has been quite some time since my last correspondence, I apologize for the delay, though part of me doubts you missed it much. You must be incredibly busy. To that note, I have not kept up on the latest news, either, but I sincerely hope my letter finds you in good health, both physical and mental. I have spent the better part of the year in the tower, hoping for some miraculous breakthrough in tracking down the tomes – alas – there is no such magical way to do so. I suspect interference from the Whispernight to blame, there are simply too many abnormalities. Speaking of abnormalities, I recently travelled to Bi’Le’ah in my searches and found the area quite interesting. It is full of magic so potent it becomes itself. I witnessed moments frozen in time, humanoids that looked far more creature than human, and a delightful Saint (Who I fondly refer to as an angel).

In hoping this letter finds you well, I have enclosed a small parcel of my findings, a piece of a humanoid so that your academy may study it. My apologies that the piece is not larger, but when fleeing for your life you can only gather so much.  Since then, I have returned to the tower and am preparing for another excursion. I think this time I will head to the ruins of the cities destroyed by the whispernight. Surely there are things of interest to be found there.

                With fondness,

                                Shanna.

zgeWtTY.jpg As the airship lurches to a full stop, Shanna grimaces. She was beginning to understand why Jaro was so adamant about not riding on the thing. Still, a little motion sickness was not going to stop her from exploring to her hearts content.

“Drop the anchor and stay here unless it gets too dangerous. IF it does, you have my permission to leave, whether I am here or not.” The woman tells the driver as she gathers her belongings. A backpack is swung upon her back, and a staff is at her side. No other weapons or excess is brought with her this time. She needs to move quickly and lightly.

“Come on, Brutus.” Shanna offers a smile to the snowy hellhound at her side. As they descend, her boots kick up a bit of dust. “This should be Valinde. IF we’re right, we can find some historical logs and maybe get some more clues. Lemme know if you hear anything, though, cause banshees.”

Cautious steps carry the two forward and into the depths. Shanna lets her gaze roam over the abandoned carcasses of small airships and animals that had once made the city their home. It is ruins, like anywhere else, Shanna supposes. The skeletons of once great buildings stand as an ominous warning to all who may seek to follow their example. A gentle sigh escapes her mouth, as her gaze dances from one thing to the next.

“It’ll probably be most helpful if we can find a library of sorts, I guess. Supposedly there is a lot of treasure here, but…I’m more interested in the history…still…some extra revenue couldn’t hurt.” She mumbles as carefully picked paths are followed.

@King

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r5t0k6D.jpgThere had been a map, well…there had been pieces of a map. Turns out pieces of a map don’t amount to much when you’re trying to find your way about. The pieces didn’t even match up, they were like a jigsaw with only corner pieces. The solution was simple, however, to make your own map.

Which is exactly what Shanna has done. She has chosen the least dilapidated shack in what she assumes to be the middle of the city of Valinde, and upon a hastily fastened together table, sat a large roll of parchment with scribbles of different parts of the city. It all went outward from her current location – spiraling as each part of the city was examined with each new dawn. Fortunately, Shanna had not yet run into one of the dreaded Banshees that the rumors warned of. She is grateful for that, since supposedly their scream could kill a person simply by hearing it. It was strange that no one had taken a stand against such a strong undead creature, but considering the state of Valinde, she supposed it could be understood.

It was obvious that many adventurers had come to Valinde, only to fall victim to its wild ways, or to themselves. Shanna has passes, in the last 3 days, no less than ten different groups of perished men and women. She supposes that it’s some form of karma, and only has hopes of not ending up the same way. Likely due to the banshees, a lot of random loot is left about the city – quite a few random little treasures. Though Shanna has eyes mostly for books, she does pause from time to time to pick up golden trinkets, or shiny gems that catch her eye. Adventuring doesn’t pay for itself, afterall, and the tower doesn’t yet create revenue, as they only create what they need to sustain themselves.

A sigh escapes the woman as she considers the latest gem she has found, setting it on the table at the corner of the parchment.

“I think I’ve just scratched the surface, Brutus.” Shanna’s nose scrunches then as thoughts race in the hamster cage of her brain. “This city is so big. I don’t know that we should have come alone…Though good luck getting Jaro to come out here.” His constant dislike of her adventuring and his complaining have made Shanna leave him behind more and more.

“Well, it’s always worked out before, hasn’t it?” She laughs, rubbing her cheek with a palm briefly. “Still…I can’t help but to shake a bad feeling…I don’t think we should go check anymore tonight. It’s probably going to be best to wait until morning.” Nodding to herself, Shanna moves to gently apply ear plugs to her companion Hellhound so that should the Banshees scream, they won’t hear it…hopefully.

“That should do it. Get some rest, bud.” Ruffling the fluff between his ears, Shanna turns back to her map in contemplation.

Edited by Lacernella Rubra

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The city is eerily silent when daybreak comes, and it makes Shanna nervous. IT is rare for her to feel anxious about anything, but the quiet stillness of the city does just that. IT as though some thick fog has lain over the streets and dares them to make sound. Like a predator waiting prey. Is it the banshees, perhaps? Do they seek beyond their towers for souls to consume, or do they simply wander the streets looking for those that might fall prey on their own.

wErfcej.jpgIn any case, Shanna does not like the odds of it. Still, there is much to be done and many areas left to map. Digging through the large bag on the table, Shanna’s tongue wiggles out of her maw as she pulls out a ball of twined yarn. It had been a gift she had picked up for the mousing kittens that inhabited the tower, but….for now it was going to be a lifeline.

Tying the yarn carefully at the door of her dilapidated shack, Shanna then turns and marches bravely – or at least, appearing so – into the mists. The ball in one hand, and her staff in the other as though prepared for whatever misfortune might befall her, as it usually does. Brutus is at her side, unusually alert as well. His large head sways back and forth, keen eyesight searching for things that might be amiss.

The first hour of their slow trek finds nothing out of the ordinary – in fact, it seems far too ordinary. Shanna pauses as a gentle ‘twang’ pulls on the other end of the yarn. Pausing in midstep, Shanna turns wide eyes upon the other end that has been consumed by the mist.

“Maybe it was just some wind.” A nervous laugh is given, before crimson eyes narrow a bit. “Let’s just go a little further and then we’ll turn around.” And it is just this she goes to do, until another, sharper twang pulls on the yarn.

Brutus turns, growling as he hunkers, his hackles raising as teeth bare to an invisible enemy.

"W...we should probably see what that is, huh?" Though the declaration is made, Shanna makes no attempt to move. 

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Despite her earlier comments, Shanna makes no move to see what lays beyond the fog – fear has rooted her feet to the very spot she stands. Brutus does not seem eager to discover either, until a rasping groan fills their ears. Within a split second the hellhound is gone into the mist, his snowy fur blending in amongst the condensed air before a yelp, and savage growling is heard. HE returns, bloody and limping. Shanna gasps.

“Brutus!” She cries, moving to check him for injury. Fortunately, she finds only a small puncture of teeth on his shoulder and one on his muzzle. They are shallow and barely bleed, it appears the blood is more of the enemies than his own. Relief scatters across her visage as she hugs the Hellhound to her. “Don’t do that, I was scared. Was it just an undead?” She asks. Brutus grunts in a way that is to be taken as affirmation.

“Oh, good. You know, we’ve been really lucky we haven’t run into many…just one or two here and there….that’s actually kind of worrying now that I have said it out loud.” Shanna comments eHbH33y.jpgquietly as she searches her side pouch for a packet of balm. She carefully smears the poultice over the wounds Brutus has incurred and moves to stand.

“Next time, wait for me and I’ll take care of it, ok?” A small smile is accompanied by that as she looks to what is left of the spool of yarn. They have a ways yet they could go before they would need to ravel it back up. “Well, we’ve come this far!” She chirps.

Turning on her heel, Shanna’s feet carry her further into the fog that can either spell her doom or her salvation. Or perhaps both, wrapped in a neat little package and tied off with a bow. Fortunately for the two, there is little indication of any more undead that might cross their paths, but Shanna has managed to pick up a few valuable bobbles here and there along their way. A sudden screeching, however, brings their merriment to a halt. Shanna cries out, dropping to her knees as hands cover her ears in pain. Blood trickles through her fingertips as the woman desperately tries to keep out the Banshees scream. Brutus, too, howls as he writhes upon the ground and between them they are a cacophony of agony.

Darkness presses in on her eyesight, just before Shanna lets the darkness consume her as her body slumps to the ground – somewhere above, a Banshee wails her miserable lot to the world for all to hear.  

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“Pathetic.” The voice echoes in darkness. “Unable to even withstand a weak banshee like this?” There was mocking and a scoff to the voice before a bright form filled the dark area, washing away the shadows with its light.

“And yet, you still don’t have the courage to call on me? Why is that, I wonder…” The figure mused as it knelt before the unconscious Shanna, a hand reaching out to tug up a strand of hair.

“Call on me, before it’s too late.” The voice hisses as darkness reclaims the space inside Shanna’s mind once more, the light but a fragmented memory.

 

“Nn…g..guh.” Shanna manages to stir as one hand immediately moves to her head in an effort to cease the pounding that has taken residence. “Ugh, my head…” With just those words, her form suddenly lurches and the contents of breakfast and lunch are cast upon the overgrown stone before her. Naturally, that did not help the headache.

Shanna falls forward to rest her forehead against the cool ground in effort to alleviate before she manages to crack one eyelid a fraction of an inch to peer at Brutus. Well, he’s still breathing, so he must be ok for now. It is several moments later before Shanna can drag herself off of the ground, and her feet plod along the path to her Hellhound. She kneels to dig fingers into plush fur before her face buries into his large neck.

“We should go back…until we can find a way to beat the banshees. Maybe earmuffs.” She groans, her ears throbbing with the thought of being covered…the crusted blood flakes off with the brush of her hand. Grasping Brutus’ forepaws, Shanna begins the trek of following the yarn back to safety.

Edited by Lacernella Rubra

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0UepznA.jpgDragging the large wolfhound had drained what little energy Shanna had left. She collapsed just after closing and sealing the door of the little shack behind them. It was there she slept for nearly two days, her body trying desperately to recuperate the damage it has undertaken. Brutus wakes first, peering around as he nudges the mage before moving to nose about the shack. Their food supplies are low – it would appear that they had pillagers of some sort. Only a handful of food remains. He glances to Shanna, knowing that the mage was likely to forego eating in favor of giving it to him.

With a deep, put upon sigh, Brutus tugs her towards a bed by the scruff of her jack, before grunting as he tugs the bag away from her. He noses around inside of the neverending thing, before pulling out a crunchy piece of jerky. He noms this while contemplating their situation.

Banshees were difficult creatures by nature. Their shriek made them deadly both at far and close range. They would have to deafen themselves to come upon one without severe harm being inflicted. Not to mention, he hasn’t seen any goregears yet…and this concerns him.

Perhaps at the center, where the largest tower remains yet untouched, is where the hordes of evil have lain their claim. Knowing his little witch, she is likely to want to go there. With a great sigh, he moves to nudge the map on the table so he might peer at it. His golden gaze wandering the parchment for a long moment. Now that he has it memorized, he can pass the information directly to Shanna as they move. He will have to be extra vigilant to keep her safe…

 

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Shanna wakes late into the second day, ears still ringing harshly from the banshee’s attack. Was it truly an attack, or as simple as they were in the wrong place at the wrong time? Shanna contemplates this as she attempts to wipe the sleep from her eyes. Flicking a crusty piece away, the woman yawns briefly before frowning as her stomach rumbles. Brutus pads over to offer her the last of their food. Peering between the Hellhound and the meager remaining portion, Shanna opens her mouth as if to speak, but finds herself unable.

Gasping in surprise, both hands go to her throat as she tries desperately to make any noise. There is nothing…though her throat vibrates as though sound is being made, Shanna cannot hear it. The realization of that causes her to stare, mouth agape at the hound as he cants his head at her. Shanna’s hands immediately clap against her ears. All she feels is blood, old and crusted trailing from the canals.

Tears well in her eyes, as she turns to stare at the wall. Biting her lower lip, Shanna wills herself not to cry as she desperately tries to think of a solution – surely there had to be one. Maybe one of her potions would do the trick! Getting out of the bed in a flurry, Shanna rummages through her neverending pack in attempt to locate one, or any of the small vials.

Unfortunately, none seem to be found. Her gaze turns towards Brutus as she lets out a a noise of surprise.

“Brutus! I can’t hear! If I can’t hear, how can I keep us safe?!” She practically yells, not realizing the decibel of her range.

“And if I can’t keep us safe, we are in a lot of danger here!”

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“Nonono, this can’t be happening…” Shanna mumbles to herself. Surely she cannot be deafened. Perhaps it is temporary. For the time being, however, she knows that she must get Brutus out of the city or they risk further attack and injury.

Rolling up the last bit of map, it is carefully placed in the pack as the little dilapidated shack is given one last look over. Finding nothing of importance left behind, Shanna closes the door behind them. If her map is still correct, they would have to go only a few miles to the edge of the city before they could check for the airship that was told to wait. Hopefully it had remained in a safe location and could be used for a swift getaway.

ezGNPDT.jpgShanna can only hope as they begin the trek. Instead of worrying about this, she is hyper aware of their surroundings. Unable to hear should anything sneak up on them, she must rely on her sense of sight and smell.

It is a slow trek, but finally after several hours they come upon the airship, only to find the pilot missing.

“I…hope nothing got him.” Shanna grimaces as she climbs up into the belly of the ship before moving to check the airship systems. Everything seems in order, so she knows not why it has been abandoned. Nonetheless, she must get out of there…

Having watched it fly for some time, she has a rudimentary understanding of how it works. As it lifts into the air and begins the long ride back home to Rubra Tower, Shanna sits to write out another letter.

 

[Quest Fail.]

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