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The Consequences of Belief (Artifact Upgrade)

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In the as of yet unnamed range of mountains and hills within the Scudder Forests, south of Aligoria, there lied a certain cave. The entrance to this cave was at the edge of a well-concealed clearing. A white horse was grazing in this clearing- a horse obviously bred and trained for war, but one contented and obviously well-cared for nonetheless. Spread throughout were three fenced off-areas- one containing a garden of various fruits and vegetables, one with four goats, and one with four chickens. A hideout that could very well sustain one person with a sell-able surplus, two or three at a stretch.

Inside the cave, a certain knight by the name of Cerik Windshade sat at a surprisingly ornate table. Various treasures were arranged around the cave, with one area sticking out in particular: a velvet-covered shelf holding a small sphere that glowed gold, and a monocle that was framed in titanium but otherwise did not stand out. To the naked eye, these likely seemed like nothing special, interesting baubles at best. But these two things, artifacts of Terrenus- Fracture- Lagrimosa, yes that was it... ahem. They each held great power, though perhaps somewhat uneven between the two of them.

But back to Cerik. The wandering knight pored over the documents laid out on the table before him. Reports, fliers for various tasks that needed doing, other such things provided by trusted contacts. He read through the last of them and let out a deep sigh. He talked to the silent air around him.

"Nothing worth riding out for. Either they'd most likely be taken care of by the time I arrived, or the tasks as written are rather shady."

Words fading into empty air, as it usually happened. But this time, something was different. That golden sphere flashed brightly for a moment- and an elegant, feminine voice echoed throughout the cave.

"O gallant knight... if nothing else have thee to do... then seek ye greater power..."

"What? Who are you, and what the hell are you on about?"

The voice's tone changed as it began to speak again. It became... indignant?

"... Alright, enough of that mysticism. It very quickly grows tiresome. Cerik, do you recall the cultists whom you slew to lay claim to the Desert's Eye? I am a being born forth of their belief, intrinsically tied to that artifact. A powerful spirit... perhaps even a goddess."

Cerik recalled the conversation he had had with the woman known as the Mistress. About religion, about he would follow divinity only if they could have an amenable arrangement between them, one that would not exploit him only to later cast him aside. He hadn't once thought that such an entity would be before him so soon. He thought swiftly, coming to a decisive conclusion.

"Whatever you are... I think we might have a bright future together. Does that count as a pun? But if we are to work together, then what should I call you? And what do you mean about seeking power?"

"Oh. I was... expecting more resistance, to be truthful. But very well! You may call me Amura. As for seeking power, I speak of that monocle on the shelf! It is powerful, yes, but it pales in comparison to the Desert's Eye! It holds more potential power within, and I have an idea of how to unseal it. To do so, we must venture to a nearby mountain in this range, where you can undertake a trial to unseal that power... but first, you will need at least one companion. Go now, to the closest tavern, and seek a companion there!"

Cerik raised an eyebrow, but still turned toward the map pinned to the wall and examined it.

"Closest would be... in Aligoria."

He rubbed his chin thoughtfully.

"Well, I suppose I couldn't avoid venturing there forever. With luck, I should be able to find someone and avoid any undue attention that might come my way."

A while later, The False Ship tavern in Aligoria had a new patron enter. A towering man in full plate armor, a white cloak being the only thing keeping off the light drizzle outside. This knight took a side table in the tavern- not so brazen as a center table, and not so conspicuously attention-avoiding as a corner table. He ordered a strong drink, and began to drink as his gaze scanned over the tavern's other patrons. Searching for somebody who might stand out, perhaps, or someone who might react to his searching gaze. He hadn't reached out to anybody beforehand this time, so there was more of an element of chance involved than with his previous venture to secure the Desert's Eye.

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Falling out of her bed after a rather restless night of sleep the rather young pyromancer awakens with a bit of a shock as her faithful cat companion meows loudly at her. She had little plans for the day as she fumbles around adjusting her clothes and getting to her feet. She couldn't really remember how she ended up in the town our why she was there but she supposed adventure would always find its way to her. After adjusting her clothes clothes and strapping her rapier to her side the cat jumps up on the bed before leaping up on the women's shoulder.

"Okay, Nyx... I think its time we head out... Maybe stop at the tavern for a drink or two. I could use something after that dream."

stepping out of the room she makes her way out of the inn and into the streets. She looked a bit out of place what with the cat on her shoulder and her rather strange colored hair but she didn't pay any gazes much mind as she wondered the streets looking for a place to grab a drink and hopefully get her a bit more awake. After what seemed like an hour or two to her she stumbles upon a place called The False Ship and makes her way inside. 

She doesn't pay much mind to where she takes a seat and winds up taking a spot at an empty table not far from the corner. A bit out of the way of glances but not so much hidden. She orders herself a glass of wine at first skipping out on food. by the time her drink arrives she notices a... Paladin, she wasn't to sure but she would guess that based on armor color alone, walk in to the bar and take a seat. She found it rather strange given that she didn't think they'd visit bars to entirely often but she waits a bit and keeps an eye on him not making it to obvious. What she could tell though was he clearly was looking for something. 

Being the ever curious person she was she smiles a bit and slowly gets up from her seat before making her way over to the table. She takes a seat at the table with him while saying. "I hope this seat isn't taken. My name is Maria. You seem to be looking for something. Maybe I can help?"

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"I hope this seat isn't taken."

Cerik turned with a slight start as a woman's voice came to him from across the table. He had been focused on scanning another portion of the bar just a moment before, so he had been taken a bit off-guard. Nevertheless, he offered her a smile and nodded in response.

"Hmm? Oh, not at all. I don't mind the company."

"My name is Maria. You seem to be looking for something. Maybe I can help?"

The knight's grin seemed to widen for a moment, and he took a quick glance around the bar before returning his gaze toward Maria.

"Well, Maria... are my intentions really so obvious? Mmm, but you're right, I am indeed looking for something. I find myself facing a trial of a sort, one that apparently requires me to bring another person along, but will result in a great reward when undertaken. At least for me, that is. So I came to this tavern with finding such a person in mind. If you're up to such a task, I can offer you gold in exchange for your aid. Or alternatively, whatever else you may fancy that is within my means. Ask, and I will do my utmost in order to provide. Since, well, the reward for the trial is, in the end, really only beneficial to myself. It's only right to offer an equivalent reward for a task that would otherwise offer nothing except the experience."

With that said, Cerik turned away and dug into a coin pouch at his belt, pulling out two shining gold coins and setting them onto the table. He motioned a waitress over before turning back towards Maria.

"And that's that. If you're in, and don't have anything pressing to attend to beforehand, then how about we get on our way?"

The waitress came by and took the coins as Cerik stood up, then turned and made his way toward the door of the tavern.

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