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Walk Among The Abyss

The Ruins of La Cierra (Quest/Closed)

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The waves broke the silence that covered the sandy shore. Particles of sand caught the rays of the peeking light through the clouds and provided a shimmering danced for those watching. The clear blue waters were a fisherman’s dream, schools of small fish swam sporadically enjoying the cool water, each fish in search of morning breakfast. Above the beach, roughly one-hundred yards inland, a cliff side began to rise to the heavens, overlooking the shore on the western side and a toppled city to the east.

Light cascaded through the clouds; beams of lights focused intensely on the ruins below the other side of the cliff. The hooded figure atop the overhang sat on the edge scanning the surroundings, inhaling the salty air as it blew forth from the ocean breeze on his backside.

His mind ran simulations and he settled on forest bellow. The trees were dead, no leaves bloomed anymore, his sharp eyes could see an old trail used by the citizens. That was the best course. The information he had about the treacherous pollen on the outskirts of the ruins as well as within made trekking into the city dangerous and something he would discuss with others  

His feet dangled from the cliff side for nearly a half an hour, contemplating how to best carry out this quest. The information he had lacked meat, only the bones were given to him. He exhaled his breath and growled, he despised politics. The reward outweighed his distaste though. His purpose was treasure. Treasure and wealth would buy what he needed.

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Messages had been sent to those who accepted the quest to arrive roughly at noon above the cliff. Each letter stated to travel by sea, it was the quickest and safest route. A quick earthy bridge had been established from the beach to the meeting point, making easy access for the arrivals. The ruins of La Cierra was nestled between the city of Veelos and Versilla but the main roads leading into the city would be overgrown with flowers spewing pollen. He hoped no one went that way, his job was not a rescue mission.

The figure strained his neck to peer at the sun. Almost time, he spoke inside his head. He stood up, tossed back his hood and walked over to the fire where a kettle was bubbling and softly touched a large sack near the fire. Inside contained all the provisions needed to complete the first part. Once the flowers could be bypassed, the rest was a scavenger hunt. Plopping down, he removed the kettle with his left hand – heat sensation did not find any nerves – pouring the boiling water into a cup, he drank in disgust, the coffee grounds were far to old to enjoy.  

At a distance, the haggard figure didn’t appear formidable or of any importance, but up close, upon better inspection, his body told numerous stories. As he sat there, his attire was simple, His attire was simple, dark green fabric from his pants to shirts, his left arm covered up by a longer sleeve while his right arm was short sleeved. The only clothing that was of value was his cloak. The cloak he wore shifted colors constantly matching the wavelengths of light to his environment. This attire allowed him to blend into his environment – normally wooded and forested areas – much like a chameleon altered the crystals between the skin to alter the pigment. The cloak did not make him invisible in the sense that he could not be seen, it created a space that anyone not closely examining the area would overlook it.

If his body were to be studied, the observer would note how dense the muscles were, this fact was due to years of use. A survey of his blue eyes would create a sense of murkiness, a depression that only a tortured soul had become accustomed to over decades of mayhem and destruction. His face was worn down, calling him handsome could be true but his best years were arguably behind him, the semblance of what a knight in shinning armor could have looked like decades ago. All of this was accompanied by a sullen look that replaced a once vibrant smile.

Keldorl sat on the cliff side and waited. With his eyes closed, he inhaled a breath and exhaled slowly, taking in the atmosphere around him. Thoughts crept through his mind, like mice scuttling around corners searching for cheese but unsure which direction it was in. Find the box. The box is the key. Return the key. No mistakes. No misfortunes. Surprises are always a variable. Do NOT become complacent.

A few words slide from his mouth as he exhaled once more, “Death is inevitable but don’t let Him catch you this day.”

Edited by Walk Among The Abyss

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"Lad, are you gonna be alright?" The grizzled, rough tones of the old sailor were packed to burst with emotion... None of it, Simon thought, concerned about his actual safety. Of course, That might have been a little presumptuous of the young man. The fact that there were other sailors who were laughing at his predicament, trying to cover their mouths in order to hide the mirth that seemed to leak out of them like air from a poked balloon... Complete with hissing. The artificer had to admit, though. He wasn't sure why the ocean was doing this to him. His stomach felt fine enough when he was doing complex work on engraving sigil patterns into wood or metal, even when he was working in a moving cart on a bumpy stretch of road. He kept balance while flourishing in his mobile workshop. So the fact that just the rocking of the sea had resulted in him not only getting seasick, but falling and nearly projectile vomiting over the side of the ship probably... Was humorous.

"I think... I just need to get onto dry land." His handkerchief dabbed at the sides of his mouth, removing the sick from his face, as he choked up the last few flecks. Bluh. Note to self. They were in Genesaris. And airships had neither of these issues. Simon would take an airship next time. He'd made his way from Port Caelum all the way out here, accepting a job promising all sorts of fascinating explorations into the nature of magitechnology through explorations in the fields of how magic without focal genus loci functioned, a completely unique alternative to Lagrimosan magic. The treasure itself was secondary, at best. Distant third. His research could help him further develop additional theorems on magic, study the history of how it functioned in these locations, come to a greater understanding of the rules and laws of spell work! Having retreated for nearly ten minutes, the concerns of the crew replaced with utterances of how strange he was, Simon hardly noticed the fact that he'd managed to make it to Osiria until the same concerned sailor tapped him on the shoulder, with a reminder of paying the last of his fee. With the useless coin plucked from his purse, and a quick dip to his cabin below-deck, it took no time at all for the young man to escape off of the rocking waves of the boat, onto a smaller lifeboat, and then onto the gently-lapping waves on the shore.

"Thank you, gentlemen. Sirs." The awkward, stilted words escaped from him almost robotic, only barely holding the barest modicum of human emotion in them, as he slung his pack over his shoulder, wielding the muscles of his back, his shoulders, his arms, his chest... Everything he could put into it, really. Slinging his pack over his back, tools clinging to the outside of it. A rolled up sleeping bag here. A large canteen of water there. Various tools clinking and clattering around in his backpack. A rope slung over his chest like a bandolier, complete with a lovely iron grappling hook. Sure, it was all analog, but that wouldn't stop him from enjoying and learning on this new trip, as he turned over towards cliffside(that he hoped was the cliff he was meant to head towards).

His eyes flicked over to the long bridge of stone and rock, that carried over the ocean, as he walked along the shoreline. And, shockingly, the young man clicked his tongue in disapproval. An earthen bridge designed over a beach had to account for tidal changes, a static set of rock could be taken over at any moment due to unfortunate waves. He wasn't one to test fate that way. Not with a pack full of mostly heavy tools slung over his shoulders, a rope in hand, and a full outfit on. Had it been erected by magic, it might've been even more dangerous. Those blood-red eyes seemed to measure out the earthen pathway, eyeing it up with careful consideration. He didn't need arcane foci to test it, even though he was carrying no less than three full component pouches somewhere in that passive pack. But... Others might be carrying less than him. His tests could wait.

However, once those dark, evil-looking eyes settled onto the only person waiting for him, the young man couldn't help but sigh. Large, muscled, stylish, with a single-purpose magical item that was constantly active. Everything about this caused the young man, clad in all dark, pitch blacks, from his jacket, to his boots, to his trousers, to his gloves, to have to restrain his groan. This was a man of action. Of purpose and strength and most importantly, probably the kind of guy who easily pieced himself together for treasure and fighting. Sure, it shored up His weaknesses, but these jock-types never got along with him. From his own slender figure, not lean with muscle as much as it was just lean, with muscle, to his remarkably quiet, somber-looking expression, to the feathers that crowned around his neck, to the silken-looking gloves. The young man was this musclebound old man's opposite in nearly every way... He looked more like a demon prince in the making than anything good-natured.

But, with the man clad in a rogue's outfit sitting at a kettle with tea boiling over, the call of tea rang out to Simon, who approached the miniature camp with a forced smile stretching as high up his face as his muscles could pull it. "Hello there!" The cheer even sounded forced, dammit all. "Simon. Simon Faber. I'm here for this expedition- Quest, it's a quest." He quickly corrected himself, his tongue feeling fat and swollen as he twisted it over his own words, his tenor tones more staccato than sing-song. The sand crunched underfoot like gravel, as he finally crossed into the boundaries of the campsite, eyes glancing over towards the campfire that was being used. "... Tea?" Poor thing. He sounded legitimately hopeful, on that note. The first measure of real, genuine emotion he'd displayed towards the guide.

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Phoebe hated boats.

She hated them like a vampire hates sunlight, hated, and in a reflection of that reality she sat, now, in the absolute center of the boat with her eyes closed, and her mouth shut, and her psionics suffocated like a rich, aged, newlywed on his wedding night.  Amidst the bounce of the waves and the jostle of the wind her second sense was more a hinderance than not- instead of one spinning world, she felt thousands, all leaping and twirling and collapsing in on themselves with the abandon of children at play.  

It was, at least, a short voyage for the First-- Evie, as she would go by here.

A small contingent of trusted Dead, each wearing his part as a sun-bleached sailor, dropped the woman off on the shores of Orisia with a well-worn pack, a rather severe looking leather-wrapped walking stick, and palpable sense of relief at once again being on solid land.  She was on-continent as part of an exploratory excursion- a peek-a-boo look at the inner workings of Orisia, its resources, and what it could potentially gift to the Dead's continued quest for power.  All of this, unseen- for all her efforts, Phoebe-as-Evie looked to be no more than a farmer's oldest daughter or a passing would-be bard.  Her dark-hair was loose and unbound, left to play freely in the wayward coastal winds, and her peasant style clothing suggested that she might have stumbled her way to the quest accidentally- she wore no visible armor, bore no visible weapons, and climbed off the boat with the wobbly legs of a woman far from acclimated to the sea. 

But she smiled.

She smiled and for all the world it was real; it was as honest as the land in Orisia and as clear and natural as its waters.  It was bright, lit by the reflections off the white-edged waves, and youthful even on a face that bore tiny lines in the corners of her light eyes.  Whoever she was, she was someone's lover before their child; someone's aunt, not their daughter.  It was hard to place, though - very hard to place.  There was an everyone-ness about Evie- as if she'd been birthed from an amalgam of the most common citizens of Orisia and their most common traits.  Dark hair, green eyes, smooth skin that hadn't seen the trauma of battle, disease, or famine; thin muscle, average-height, and coordination that suggested she knew how to move and not stumble.

Evie huffed up the hillside, using the tall bound stick like it was another leg, and stopped only to throw a wave up to the departing crew.  For their part, the crew shot looks between themselves - confusion, abound - but maybe they weren't used to friendly cargo.  After a moment they waved, but it looked like obligation. 

Atop the hill, Evie spotted a pair of men - one standing, one just a suggestion - and pulled down the wave from the departing crew to loft it lazily toward her soon-to-be companions.  They looked a hard pair; one in all black, like an assassin or pirate, and the other barely visible were it not for the play of her telekinesis across the wind-swayed grass-- but it was a quest, after all, and she always met the most interesting people on quests, along with quite a few future-skeletons, even.  As she drew closer, the woman lifted her chin and flicked an easy glance toward the kettle. 

"Coffee..?" she wondered, adding, "I'm Evie.  I think I'm in the right place..?"

Edited by Noko

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One of the last, if not THE last, comes on a small boat. Now, the small boat does still need a modestly sized crew. So, this is far from someone in a lifeboat, simple fishing boat, etc. However, it may be smaller than the other vessels bringing particular passengers to this beach. Like they say, it's not the size, but the motion of the ocean. What this boat lacks in size, it makes up for in maneuverability. The thing can keep up with the ever changing tide, the ever changing motion. 

Standing off to the side on the small deck is a younger man with long chocolate brown locks, which are held at bay by a long braid. The braid stops a little below his shoulder blades. A brown leather cold with faded touches of gold accents cover the torso, and arms. Similar thick leather gloves obfuscate and protect the hands. To those with keen eyes, and a knowledge of combat, can figure out this is some kind of armor. Maybe it is a custom piece, an heirloom, former treasure, or a mixture, but it is meant to protect the wearer. Same story with the gloves, and a pair of heavy boots on his feet. Both the gloves, and boots, are a darker shade of brown than the coat, but not by much. 

A simple black scabbard runs diagonally from right shoulder to left side over his back-half. Inside is a sword that looks versatile. The handle looks long enough to accommodate a single hand, or both of them. Between the weight, size and overall balance, it's clear this sword is meant for other. The only other visible item on the form is a leather medicine bag. Inside are a few other goodies. The bag presses against a dark blue pant leg, simple slacks by the looks of it. However, this is a style Tibale prefers.  

Missions that have particular times allow Tibale to plan. The longer the gap between mission acceptance, and start time, allows him to do more. Just in case, Tibale has his hair braided. His satchel is full of a grappling hook, about a hundred feet of robe, a torch, simple tinder and steel, a few pieces of parchment, quills, and ink. Basically simple stuff to handle cliffs, notes, and maybe a little darkness. Everything about the area screams certain things about the mission. Thus, he really wants the rope and torches. 

Looking out to the island, he holds back an inward smile. Nearly each jostle from the ship cause the island to get closer, and closer. The ship's captain looks to Tibale, "This is your stop, ain't it?" Tibale nods, and hands over some coins. Terms for the passage, half upfront, and the other half upon completion. Both ends are upheld, and upon that Tibale exits the ship. Waves crash and wash against the shore side. Each motion creates a sound. His eyes close as he wants to savor the sound cacaphony any shore creates. To him, it feels like ages since the last time the ocean greeted him like this. He's just taking a moment to say "Hi!" back to the motion with no words. 

Pushing onto the shore, Tibale keeps moving. His dull blue eyes scan the land and even scale to the cliff side. "Can't be late," he says softly to only himself. He's not too far behind the others, but Tibale is one of the last ones there for the meeting. People are asking for drinks before he makes it to the spot. "Either," his voice carries as it makes it to the spot a few moments before he does. A warm drink is a warm drink. Sadly, no one is there to give a heads up about the coffee. Tibale would politely decline most other offered coffees before a mission, thanks to the coffee here. That is, if someone gives him the coffee over the tea. 

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@Biggie_Smalls

His eyes latched onto the first, a younger adventurer, so his attire screamed, along with his equipment, this individual was prepared for the end of time.

“Coffee, however…here.”

Keldorl reached into a pocket to produce a few tea bags alongside a metal cup from the large sack. His right arm reached out and handed the younger male the items.

“Please, help yourself to the water. It is still hot and there is plenty to go around.”

His voice was grizzled, the gravity of each word permeated with grit. Keldorl was unsure if he could sound cheerful anymore. He truly admired this young lad. This was a life that he was now responsible for. Remember this, he thought.

“Simon,” his blue eyes peering into the red eyes of Simon. Thoughts of symbolism crossed his mind; different cultures held beliefs on the nature of red eyes. There were groups who thought it a curse, an omen that would bring misfortune down on the clans. He knew of a specific nomadic group that observed babies that were born with red eyes to live destructive lives and to die by their own chaotic nature. In his own experience, Keldorl associated red eyes to wolves in sheep’s clothing, hiding amongst the fawn until the hunger howled too loudly and the wolf bared its canines.

“I’m eager for a display of your fangs during this quest Simon.”

The remark could have come from the mouth of a fortune teller. Simon would have no way of knowing what Keldorl was referencing or if there was any sense to it. Ramblings of a mad lunatic could be speculated but that would infer that this lunatic was the one who had gathered this team together.

As he completed his narrative, Keldorl’s attention shifted to the next of the arrivals. Surveying the newcomer, her emergence was quite the antonym of Simon; her aura spoke volumes of importance but her lack of equipment radiated that she may have been marooned on these shores.

@Noko

“Evie, this is Simon.” This time, as he spoke, he increased his volume to be heard over the wind as the salty breeze swept through the group.

“That is correct madame.” Once more he dipped down into the large sack to withdraw another metal cup, this time pouring coffee from his cup into it.

“It’s not the best but it’ll do for now,” presenting the cup to her.

Immediately as Keldorl handed over the second metal cup, the first and final participate arrived. Thrice he rummaged into his sack and removed the third and final metal mug. A quick motion, he tossed it to the man from which chocolate strands ran down his head.

@DreamSeeker

“Help yourself to either the remains of the coffee grounds or I have more tea in my bag,” he motioned to a canister of coffee grounds. It was best to allow everyone to settle in before he began his discourse.

 

“Everyone, thank you for accepting this. I will explain in as much detail as to what we are looking for as well as how to remain safe.”

“But first, let us all acknowledge one another. My name is Keldorl. A quick lesson on who I am. My history is long, but I was a knight turned pirate. Now a mercenary for hire.” His grainy voice never cracked.

“Please, introduce yourselves and request any questions before I proceed.”

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Poor, innocent, naive Simon. Gathered up all of the materials for an expedition, and here he was, facing down a man who thought of him as a being with hidden depth. The young lad almost laughed, but had the good sense(and the respect for his elders) not to let it escape from beneath that feather-rimmed collar of his. "That... Will be lovely." The young lad flicked his wrist outwards, fingers drawing out a circle in the air. To a whole lot of nothing, of course, perhaps the faint tug of the tea bags dangling from the grizzled old warrior's fingers. "Ah. Right." Magic here was extremely variable in terms of efficacy. In Simon's  case... The young man reached out again, another circle flicking into the air, and a slightly greater exertion of will. The kinetic force of his hand's motions wrapped around the tea bad in an ethereal grasp, the displacement of movement requiring a more forceful somatic gesture in order to gather up the will to flick it into his hand.

"That may take some getting used to, but luckily for me, I've packed more than enough pens in my pack." Pens? Did... Did he not realize the dangers he was going into? His pack hit the ground with a resonating whud, metal clanking, glass clinking, and pens clattering, as he plucked a white, ceramic mug from within the confines of his pack, and dropped a teabag within. "Apologies. I would much rather use my own. Sigil-maintenance and all that." The fingers moved around the bottom of his mug in another circle... Before pouring hot water into his mug, gloves insulating him from enough heat to at least pour himself his own mug.

"Fangs? Me? Oh, no no no. I'm no beast. Just a scholar." He corrected the older man, as he took a seat in front of the fire, his bag working as a cushion for him to lay across. "In fact, I'm currently away from my studies in Blairville to maintain an occupancy in developing widespread magitechnological engineering processes, techniques, and innovations in order to develop my own company. Of late, my arguments with my professors about developing devices capable of allowing any individual to wield spellcraft through unique distributions instead of commonplace things like enchanted blades, wands, cloaks... All of those are interesting, but their developmental methods are too crude to apply worldwide, due to the natural degradation of magic over time. I wanted to-" The boy had rambled for a full minute before realizing it, his passions bubbling out of his mouth with an energy more powerful than any spell he'd wielded. His cheeks flushed red, and he became far more grateful for his ring of feathers. "I'm here to study the magical effects. I'm... Prepared for the trip. Just not... I don't know if I've ever been in a fight before." He finished, his tone quiet, and his eyes flitting to the ground, while everyone prepared their drinks, and their little campfire storytime.

"Simon. Simon Faber. Mage, researcher, and artifice developer. That's probably what's the most important thing to know about me. I'm here to better come to understand the magic in this region, and gain some information to better develop techniques. As is, my magic isn't particularly stable, so I'll be offering up aid primarily in the form of the things that I've brought with me. There's a use for every tool, after all." The young man nestled his shoulders back into his pack, and lifted his gaze from his mug of tea towards the other two.

A woman so clad in the dressings of Orisia that it was strange that she came from offland. The Orisian girl seemed to wield the parts of the agricultural aspects of the society and the naval aspects in equal measure, something that seemed downright... Odd to the young man. Not that he suspected her of being anything dangerous. Probably an Orisian who wanted to hide her presence. But still... His eyes leveled onto her, carefully watching her as she took from her own coffee.

A man dressed as a warrior. It seemed he was the only scholar who'd found this investigation worthwhile. A long sword drawn across his back, leather coat thick enough to be magecrafted armor of some kind, everything about the man screamed of combat... Save for the fact that he was the last one there. Or maybe Simon was just early?

The young man shifted deeper into his seat. Surrounded by jocks, as an engineering nerd. Oh, at the school, this would mean he would be the butt of the jokes, but everyone else was the joker here. Coming underprepared was a death sentence on these kinds of expeditions. And most people had only packed the most basic of camping supplies!

To all around him, it seemed that Simon was lost, deep in thought, quieted after his introduction... Before he piped up again. "As for questions, I would like to ask details in regards to what you're all capable of in terms of expedition material, as well as your mindsets. It seems that we have two with an inclination towards combat, and two without, so balancing our skillsets and coming to a better understanding of what each individual is capable of might be useful to determine what can be done and what needs to be done."

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A gentle waggle of Evie's fingertips greeted Tibale before he had barely crested the hill. With her other hand, she gratefully took the metal cup of coffee from Keldorl and settled down on to the nearest flattish rock. The pack was set down with a metallic clang, signaling at least something in its depths could potentially be a weapon, and it flopped over with an unstructured thud as she nudged it to the side with one soft-booted foot.

"Thanks, it's more than I expected," she said to Keldorl, smiling easily into the man's haggard face. Her eyes lingered there, gently traveling over the wrinkles and chasms which life had carved into his skin. It was hard to focus on him- he could tell his cloak made it difficult, her lashes narrowed just a hair as she squinted and tried to track him in the wavering light, but eventually gave up and settled back into her seat. The introduction to Simon was met with the same good nature, a nod accompanying his welcome to the group.

"Everyone, thank you for accepting this. I will explain in as much detail as to what we are looking for as well as how to remain safe. But first, let us all acknowledge one another. My name is Keldorl. A quick lesson on who I am. My history is long, but I was a knight turned pirate. Now a mercenary for hire.

"Please, introduce yourselves and request any questions before I proceed," spoke Keldorl.

"Simon. Simon Faber..." Simon spoke first, continuing where Keldorl left off. Evie only listened, tucking in close to the fire and using its warmth to banish the open sea's bone sinking chill, and sipped her coffee while the information flowed. The ride had been long for her, as all boat rides were, and she was content to settle in and let her frazzled psionics ease and calm.

"As for questions, I would like to ask details in regards to what you're all capable of in terms of expedition material, as well as your mindsets. It seems that we have two with an inclination towards combat, and two without, so balancing our skill sets and coming to a better understanding of what each individual is capable of might be useful to determine what can be done and what needs to be done."

"...Evie Lafontaine," interjected Evie in the space between Simon's answer the beginning of the next. If anyone thought to consider her words, they would find them lilted with Nelehan's accent - a handy leftover from her recent travels, natural and easy to summon.  Mid-sentence she trailed off in her introduction and began to fiddle in her pack for things unknown- as a result, most of the volume in her words was absorbed by the ground or dashed by the wind, deadening her answer.   After a moment she found her quarry - a coat, worn leather hunting jacket, which she pulled from the shadows of her pack and drew over her shoulders in an attempt to shut out the coastal winds.

"I'm just a traveler picking up odd jobs on my way south to Arlais," continued the woman, content now in the warmth of her coat. "If a fight broke out, I could take care of myself - but I'm not going to go raid a centaur camp in my free time. I can use a knife and my mother taught me some minor magic before she passed. Enough to help me stay safe, but I wouldn't call myself a mage.

I'd love some details on this job, though - maybe it was just me, but information was a little short at the last port."

A grin spread across her face, likely prompted by the accidental rhyme.

Edited by Noko

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Taking one of the offered coffees, Tibale just listens to the old man. This takes a bit of effort because he takes the first drink. And man is that coffee -bad-. A few coughs leave his mouth. If anyone asks, he'll simply say, "Wrong tube," to be polite. But no, it is entirely the coffee. That really awful, horrible, coffee. After that fist sip, his dull blue eyes look for creamer, a mountain of sugar, or anything to just improve this offensive liquid.

Tibale listens to Simon. First. There are those pens. That's not a good sign. Not a good sign at all. There are a lot of unknown factors here. And yes, study is important. If anything, Tibale knows that Simon will be an X Factor, or even a savior, to the group. Somehow this scholar will figure out an absolutely vital detail. It is just keeping a scholar like this alive because a pen cannot do much damage after a desperate stab.

However, after that flicker of magic, is comforting. Maybe Simon won't need so much saving. He may not be so delicate in certain situations. Tibale stays quiet to understand Simon's motivations. Everything seems to be altruistic about Simon. Everything is in the pursuit of research. Maybe to be the first person to tell the entirety of the world about magic, the relationship with the area, and how it can change. Everyone remembers the firsts to discover something big. Maybe that is a tiny personal motivation to Simon. Researchers can gain fame if they're the first. 

"How dangerous is the area?" Tibale asks before doing any form of introduction. He has two motivations for this. One, to bring Simon to reality. Everyone's survival is paramount to him. Sometimes people can be idealistic, and then they romanticize a situation. This perception needs to be shattered. Embracing a harsh reality can keep one alive. And two, so he knows just knows how nasty these dangers can be. 

Looking to Evie, Tibale is just taking in her details. Anything he can glean from a steady look. Her origin, possible skill, motivation, and anything else. Dull blue eyes remain level on her as he waits for answers from Keldorl. As he is taking in Evie, a thought runs through his mind. Again and again this thought plays, and so he asks the question it forms.

"Why do you say Simon has fangs?" Tibale asks. Simon denies the fangs. Yet, Keldorl is insistent on fangs. The clash makes Tibale makes him curious.

Eventually, the man with the long chocolate brown hair begins to speak. "I am Tibale. I joined this opportunity because I am not the prime candidate for it. I am not a researcher. Nor am I anything close to a researcher. I am simply, the unintended. Often the unintended are the things not planned for," Tibale admits. In some ways, it may make a Tibale an X Factor in his own right. That is, if this situation has any form of sentient controller. A mastermind behind it all. If this is simply a situation caused by circumstances, then Tibale is something more simple. It makes him muscle. Easily replaceable muscle. 

And the replaceable view isn't a low view of himself. It's a harsh truth. Those with weapons, and only weapons, can be replaced. Thus, he is replaceable. It's not a personal slight, just a professional truth.

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A small smile towards Simon, he was a thinker, and that was a welcomed sight. The lad was well equipped intellectually as he was, well, equipment. Keldorl stood, listening to the team forming before his own blue eyes. Miniature cracks within his soul released feelings of old, times when his younger, teenager-self sat amongst leaders while attentively listening and gorging on every word spoken. Simon’s question was valid seeing as though no one knew a shred of data on each other.

Keldorl stood and listened to the others, first he noted Evie and her words of being just a traveler followed by her grin. He knew there was some underlying deceit, but it didn’t bother him, everyone held secrets close to their chest. Without delaying, he answered Tibale’s question with a generic “Just a saying, I suppose.”

Turning his gaze to the cliff and then back to the group,“Wonderful, I believe this group will adequately suffice.”

“We are in search of a locked box. Within this box is a key. It has been expressed from the client that the small container should have runs engraved and that attempting to open will result in some manner of death. The box is what we are seeking…down there in the town.”

The town was large. The size of the town was not the dilemma.

“Imagine being in a city, where gatherings of people are going about their day when immediately everything freezes in place.” His feet stepped closer to the group.

“Where citizens once stood, are now flowers producing sleep agents that inhaled, places the victim in a slumber to not awake and to deteriorate from the elements. I’m not here to bullshit anyone, we are not the first to take this. We are a step on a ladder that extends far below. I DO NOT plan on becoming a part of that town,” his final sentence discharged with a growl.

Pointing to the masks near the fire, “Those have been specifically made to vent toxic fumes. Inside is a contraption holding charcoal. Those masks are our lifeline. They should last us roughly a week before the charcoal needs replaced. I have enough charcoal within that sack to last all of us three weeks if needed, so make sure you have those available.”

By this part of his speech, Keldorl had tip-toed closer to the fire and the group, creating a complete circle.

“The next thing I need those of magical prowess to understand is the treachery this land can cause.” A quiet rumble below Keldorl emitted until a tremor pulsated from beneath the group, gathering power and sound until the cliff itself laughed in delight. The ground, without hesitation, unapologetically belched spikes of rock and earth around the exterior of the group.

“You may want to create something small but the land, the land says bigger. This land cause chaos for users, how in-depth I do not know.” The spikes remained as Keldorl spoke, but the tremors dissipated. He patiently waited for any questions or statements before proceeding to his final bulletin point.

Kneeling, he gripped a sharp rock and dug it into his right-hand producing blood. The bleeding hand kissed the dirt below as he spoke, “Grant me your wisdom.” From the spiritual realm, four oddly shaped forest spirits materialized.

“These will help alert you to the pollen as well as be our communicate link. As they are, the spirits will not be affected by the pollen but, these are not fighters. Damage to them will send them back.”

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"I see. Evie." He hissed out the words, an unintended venom slipping past his lips with the air he'd exhaled. The young man flicked his eyes to the dirt as she drew out a knife, and thus, did the worst thing imaginable to the young Simon: She'd demonstrated that she was a combative type, and thus abandoned the artificer completely to the dealings of the cerebral and non-confrontational. She'd been his second. His back-up. The thoughtful type, the one who wasn't expected to charge headfirst into dealing with things! And yet here she was, with her... Muscles! And her fancy accent! And her coat! And her knife! All of this, all of it, pointed towards a repetition of his experiences during mandatory schooling. A youth surrounded by nothing but the strong... Hopefully this wouldn't end in an ocean-based head-dunk. He'd never had that before, and the thought had him squirming.

The notion that he would somehow be amongst the important, when he was just a researcher was something that would've made Simon laugh, had Tibale not vocalized the opposite of it. There was danger, of course, and the idea that there was danger was nothing that seemed to demonstrate even the slightest inch of hesitance from Simon. At least they agreed that there were no fangs to be had in terms of what Simon was capable of.

But, when listening on everything that was brought about, Simon couldn't help but bring a hand to his lips. Covering his face as the older man started to lavish his ears with a tale of an old town, crafted and coated thoroughly in beautiful, dangerous flowers, hiding treasure deep within the ruins. "Pollen?" Simon questioned, to clarify. His eyes rose up, and his expression became overjoyed, at the prospect of it. "Pollen is the danger?" As he spoke, he reached behind him, and started to pull out a number of oddities, one after another after another. The side of his coat bulged out when he put a bottle of what looked to be liquor within it. Several unlit lamps were placed along with several jars... Along with cloth. The lanterns had their contents poured out while the older man began to imbue his knowledge in, and the kerosene found a new home in the jars, filled up, and then blocked out with bunched-up cloth. Was he?...

The last thing Simon plucked from his pack was a strange little device, that he flicked up and down, carefully exploring it. A flame danced quietly atop the little, nonmagical device. The youngest, and supposedly least threatening member of the group used the long rope he'd brought with him to tie together his six molotov cocktails, none of them yet lit, around him like a bandoleer.

"Charcoal should be easy enough to make ourselves, if we find some trees within the area, and properly treat the wood." The young man bounded up to his feet, jars clinking, and expression joyous. Taking a mask, he covered his face with it, carefully making sure to latch it and tie it in place, so that his breaths would be as difficult to obtain as possible, almost choking on charcoal. That was how it would remain effective.

Simon remained silent, however, during the demonstration. He'd noticed the flickers of arcane energy, and their denial. His tactics, therefore, had already adjusted within his head. Eliciting magic to cause an effect would be deleterious to himself and those around him, an uncontrolled, unreliable swathe of energies that didn't function like the genus loci within Lagrimosa... But amplification?...

"I suppose I'll take this one." Simon plucked one of the sprites out of the air, carefully holding a wing between his fingertips. Somber and dejected, a sigh left his lips, plucked from them as easily as he'd plucked the sprite. "What a shame that familiars fade upon death... Sprite-hunting for materials would be so much easier if otherwise. Here you go, little guy." Simon didn't leave his sprite about, out in the open, and simply tucked it into the collar of his shirt, the nimble, capable faerie hidden beneath feathers as black as his heart... And tapped it twice on its large, bulbous head. "There we are, little guy."

Edited by Biggie_Smalls

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Evie listened silently, content to remain bundled in her cloak as the other travelers spoke to their strengths and weaknesses.  It was an informative position and easy to overlook.  The waves of disappointment which rolled off of Simon; Tibale's practicality; Keldorl's wizened experience; they were all noted and filed away with the details each of the men provided- intentionally or otherwise. 

This 'adventure' was a lark for the First- a way to reacquaint herself with the Orisian continent, its people, and how it had grown and changed since the last time the Dead had set their dalliances upon its once-blessed shores.  Fresh off a month in which too much of the blood spilled was her own, this felt like a vacation- she was light-hearted and content.  The breeze was chilly, but cleansing, and carried salt and newness instead of Last Chance's fishy, working, shoreline.  It was her nature to infiltrate like this- to become the land and its people, to meticulously research its culture and its ways until she was indistinguishable from its natives in all the ways she cared to be, but to do it in such a beautiful place? 

She could hardly ask for more.

Orisia and its chaos, its beautiful, surprising, chaos, continued to be a source of entertainment- the complication of its wayward effect on magic was annoying, but interesting, and while Evie wore a frown at the surprising turn of events Phoebe was less concerned.  When the gas masks were produced she took one without comment, carefully turned it this way and that, looking for something in its casing that would provide her some bit of information.  In reality, she was looking for the manufacturer- if the canisters detatched, she would detach them and inspect them, then reassemble them, without a hint that any of that was out of the ordinary (though it was likely very much so).

Her eyes lit with the emergence of the sprites; her psionics crawled toward them, bringing one to dance backward, and with a surprised retreat Evie eyed the tiny creature.

"..aren't you interesting," murmured the woman.  From her seat she rocked forward onto her toes and extended her fingers like a perch toward the one which had detected her first.  It was light blue and long, with a tail or a stinger, and intelligence in its tiny eyes.  It eyed her and she, it, until the pair seemed to come to some sort of agreement.  Each nodded and it hopped up onto Evie's finger, choosing the silver ring around her thumb as its perch, until she brought her hand up to corral a loose strand of hair and it jumped ship for her shoulder and her curtain of dark hair.

With that settled, Evie looked up toward the group and wondered aloud, "..is there any reason we can't just burn the whole thing to the ground and retrieve the box from the ashes?"

Well, that was an interesting question.

Edited by Noko

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Everything about this place is horrible. Chewing on the information Tibale's mind roams on one particular thing. The people. Those souls enrooted into the Earth, literally, yet none of them aware. He sees sleeping faces peeking out between the plants growing out of their remains. He wonders what -exactly- kills the people. Is it all the sleep? A certain point those plants keep growing before severing a major part of the body? Starvation? The irony of death by starvation is not loss on him. 

"When this is over, we should say a prayer for those lost. Make sure they're not restless spirits, and bring them peace," Tibale says knowing that is not part of the mission. However, he would extend his stay to help out those. Something about their deaths is truly horrific to him. These thoughts don't show up on his face, but Tibale doesn't seem to be the religious type. He bares no sigil, nor is he talking about faith. So, his comment may seem odd, or come off as very telling. 

Masks are being provided, and that is a comfort. Tibale has a lot more living to do. Succumbing to eternal sleep before becoming living fertilizer is not on his to-do list. "Have the people been turned into something else besides food?" This needs to be asked. If this group is just one of many, then notes must be left. It's the flaw in people that claim stories about irreputable people that do nothing except kill their victims. If that is the case, how do they -know- this. The information has to come from somewhere. So, Tibale is trying to track details because someone, somewhere, is a survivor among a failed group. Their information could be passed to the next, and hopefully last, group in a seemingly long line.

Lost in his thoughts, Tibale notices the sprites yet doesn't really react to them. Well, not until a brilliant shade of green floats next to them. The sprite looks like its ancestors are some form of grasshopper. Four arms look to be holding a pose to help this little sprite achieve a type of nirvana. Long white locks, or what looks to be hair, runs down their head to part of the back. Like someone with long hair trying to look nice without the aid of a ponytail. Their eyes remain closed. Yet, the sprite doesn't float past Tibale. A sprite too deep in meditation would keep floating past everything. To those watching, it's like Tibale has some gravitational field. And planet Tibale pulls a sprite into its orbit. And so the sprite floats next to Tibale in a calm state. 

Evie's last question causes a smirk to pull at the corner of his mouth. "I'm in agreement with Evie. Once we've done all that is necessary, the ground needs to be destroyed. Utterly," and to him, necessary matters include the mission AND consecrating the place for the lost souls that may still wander.

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Explaining to the group about how the flowers were once humans had flashed as a topic but what did it matter who or what the plants once were? Would it change their outlook? Did it matter? Keldorl held no moral or ethical stance to this job. Unless the High Lords decided to roam to these lands and reverse any deep-rooted magic, those flowers were plant-based and nothing else. There was an end game after all, and diminutive factors were of zero significance.

“Ah, yes,” he growled slightly with every word spoken. “I’m never against some mayhem. The client though…” how much was he to give away? Information was worth it’s weight in gold. Too little information screamed mistrust, too much information, well, Keldorl knew that some secrets had to be kept. “The client would like this kingdom untouched structurally. Why, I do not know. But those we work for are in powerful positions. I’d guess that one day they wish this land to be ruled again.”

“If you wish to destroy the plants as we are here then so be it. Assignment is to retrieve the key, anything outside of that has no value to myself but, you all can do as you please. Be warned though, I do not know the consequences of destroying the plants and there is some time limit. I doubt there is anything edible down there so bring what you need.” He eyed the Simon curiously wondering if he was carrying his whole life in his equipment. “Some of us are prepared for a pilgrimage, but for those who are not, there should be enough dried meat in the bottom of the sack just in case.” This statement brought with it a revelation; did animal life manage to survive? Surely not.  

His body swiveled to gaze upon the infectious land. Fire. Setting this whole continent on flames would be a sight to see Keldorl thought discreetly, making sure his back was turned to the others. His soul burned to see this world consumed by chaos, it deserved nothing less than torture. Excitement coursed through his veins with the vivid picture of destruction.

“Now,” turning to face the group. “To the eastern side of this cliff, I have constructed a path down to the city. It’s narrower than I’d like but the land gave me what it deemed appropriate I suppose. Shall we?”

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Posted (edited)

"I'm in agreement with Evie. Once we've done all that is necessary, the ground needs to be destroyed. Utterly."

An idle flip of Evie's wrist suggested a less patient timeline, but a shrug indicated she wasn't particularly married to one idea or the other.  The client, though...

The client.

Always the client.

"What is the time limit?"  The girl spoke up as she scootched closer to the fire, pulling her jacket close and basking in her last remaining moments before its flickering warmth.  A light glance cast over her shoulder to the path Keldorl had indicated; it looked dark, treacherous, the sort of terrain she'd love to rely on her telekinetics to map, but in this chaotic land, who knew if she could trust them.  Besides, if anyone could see them, it'd be hard to masquerade that particular skill as mage training.  Ah, well - faithless path into the darkness, so be it.  

At least it wasn't Yh'mi and its gods-forsaken invisible dragons.

"Did we discuss payment?"  Evie wondered this idly as she pressed up to her feet, slipped her arms into her jacket's fire-warmed sleeves, and grabbed her worn pack from the ground.  "Sorry, don't mean to derail us - we can always chat on the walk.  Just, you know, since the client doesn't want us taking the easy, fiery, way out - I'd like to make sure I've got enough to cover the hospital bills if need be."  At that, she laughed, a light and melodic sound that betrayed the seriousness that her words might carry if they were written down or thrown from the mouth of someone who didn't wink, and grin, and line her tone with levity.  It couldn't be helped; the chaos and want that roiled through Kheldor's aura was a torch to her kerosene, and she watched it for a moment after he spoke, then sadly forced it free of her thoughts with the shake of her head and turned, starting the walk toward the rocky path.

With her pack secure and the long-tailed sprite tucked against the nape of her neck, she closed the distance toward the grizzled adventurer and teasingly whispered to him,  "..you know, it's okay if sometimes you just want to burn it all down.  It's how we handle the fallow fields, right?  Nothing wrong with starting new."

Moving past him, Evie turned- now walking walking backward as she flashed him a wide, toothy, grin, then completed the turn and meandered down the path, kicking rocks as she went.

Edited by Noko

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Everyone always wants destruction and never want to put in the hard work to obtain the destruction. Dirty work brought dirty folks.

Darkness loomed over his mind, a fog thicker than the wilds, blocking all sight and senses from acclimating. Doubts about what he, they, were searching for crept in like a child’s lullaby, starting slowly until forgetting when the lullaby started. Remember, find the box but don’t open it. You’ll know the box, you’ll see the ruins, and there will be my seal. Boxes were meant to be open.

“Payment will be given to those who arrive back here.” Blue eyes shifted from each individual, “No half payment now. The client was specific that the reward is given when completed.” Trust. A mishmashed group like this couldn’t be trusted to easily give up the reward so early on.

Let’s try this again – reaching out he wrestled with the dense mana particles in the ground, forcing the rocky world to create what he wanted. A plant wiggle from beneath, wrapping a vine hand around a mask and carried it over to Keldorl.  Not what I exactly wanted but it’ll do. This land was going to fight him tooth and nail to give life to his innate abilities. He yearned for the knowledge this would give him.

“Evie,” turning his gaze onto the green-eyed women, “You’re with me. I trust you the least.” A wicked grin grew on his rugged, battle-worn face. It was true. His ratings for trust had her on the bottom. Experience taught him that a pretty face was just as deadly as a sword; a pretty face and intelligence was deadlier than a sword. She walked with the presence of royalty, a person who commanded and not led.

“As for time, don’t get killed. I’d like to be back here in two weeks. There is enough charcoal to last three weeks.” Is two weeks long enough? “Communicate through the sprites. If one exists our realm, I’ll be notified and will send out a search group of sprites.”

“There should be plenty of places where the masks aren’t needed. I can’t test this theory yet, but I imagine that as long as you’re not using them, they will last longer.” With his final words, he slung his personally pack over his shoulder and marched down the path of rocks and dirt that the land had graciously allowed following the woman in front of him.

"..you know, it's okay if sometimes you just want to burn it all down.  It's how we handle the fallow fields, right?  Nothing wrong with starting new."

If only she knew what Chaos I have found in my life….”With his final words, he slung his personally pack over his shoulder and marched down the path of rocks and dirt that the land had graciously allowed following the woman in front of him.

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