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  #46  
Old 12-14-2017, 10:11 PM
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Linus Lapointe 25: Rationality, the Victim
Sometimes, it is but a single sentence that is capable of changing the course of a man's life. Perhaps the man is at a crossroads, and the results of events could be drastically different depending on which path he chooses. It is in these moments that a man is most vulnerable, and in these moments that a true friend is most valuable. Those words of encouragement, cautionary advice, or simple assessments of the situation are all too often the sign that guides the man down the path. Will it be the righteous path that leads to glory and happiness, or will it be the path of ruin that leads to personal desolation and failure? That is all too often up to the friend to decide.

- Emperor Regitus, 4th ruler of the ancient Ervian Empire

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Sir Linus Lapointe watched on with a growing frustration as Seth spoke. Yes, the man was at least willing to deem the "new" members of his expedition as worthy of input. The problem was that the naturalist felt he would be much like his bethrothed -- all too unwilling to take the advice once given. One by one, he managed to lay claim to every man and woman who had been a part of the "councils" that Darrien had convened, minus of course Lord Darrien himself.

This will not last long. If Seth can't get over himself, we're all going to die for his noble sensibilities. Allard had once more coiled around Linus' neck, and shook his head slowly as he watched things transpire. I'm not sure what, but something bad has happened there. I thought brothers were supposed to get along when things got bad, not fall apart. The magister agreed with his companion, but unlike the serpent felt his frustration growing as he considered the situation.

There was this supposed trail that lead up into the cliffs above. It seemed that the company under Lord Seth's command believed that it was made by Archarian survivors. Probably some horrid monstrosities... Linus' thoughts turned to those creatures in the cave, and their potential riders. Perhaps Seth was leading them right to their deaths. That seemed likely considering that the Dartmoore crew had already secured fresh water and temporary shelter. He wondered what evidence that there could be for those signs of life having been made by Archarians, and doubted they were anything better than circumstantial clues at best.

Linus continued pondering the decision, realizing that he viewed the cliff expedition as a truly terrible idea. There was no guarantee that these were Archarians. The land was incredibly hostile, and he doubted that had truly come prepared during Aspard's expedition. There was no guarantee that they would even find who they were looking for. This land was twisted and the creatures evidently supernatural in their needs and prowess. To top it all off, there was no guarantee that whatever was up there, if anything actually was,would be friendly and not descend upon them with the full wrath of this new world. No. This need not happen.

Lord Seth Cassimar finished his speech, and offered everyone the chance to speak up, even if it was apparent that he wasn't looking for disagreement. For once, Linus had picked up on that wish. That wasn't what made him refrain from speaking up. It wasn't a stroke of anger that gave him pause, for he was quite calm and collected. It was the words of his friend, the one being that had been with him nonstop for almost an entire year straight. it was the mental words of Allard that changed the naturalist's path.

What if Fortia lead the survivors there?

Linus hadn't considered this. it was true that this was a long shot, but if anyone could survive here, it was Fortia, right? because he hadn't spoken out, others were speaking. Mr. Lokey in particular was laying out a very strong case as to why Lord Darrien Cassimar should be present, and seemed to at least support the decision to tag along wit Seth. The naturalist trusted Mr. Lokey in that regard. Perhaps this would be so bad after all? Roland offered his characteristically short and to the point blessing of Seth's leadership, followed by the brown haired elven woman's request for Seth to have her companion travel to the encampment.

The robed magister waited his turn, grey eyes focusing on the new arrivals from behind oily black hair. One of the women was of clear elven heritage. Her armor and weapon designated her as clearly a military type. She had immediately responded with a quick "No sir" when Seth had finished. She must be the muscle behind Seth's silver tongue. Interesting. I wonder how she and the knight-Captain will get along. Probably well. He doubted that Elara would enjoy the presence of more soldiers, who would serve to crush any attempts at whipping up a mob that she might try to stir up.

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The mob. They'd tried to rise, but the soldiers had put them down, bloodily. They were continuing their attack on the others. Innocents were getting mixed up with the miscreants. Roland. Where is Roland? Linus looked back and forth in a panic. The night was dark, and the screams loud. Only the stars above provided enough light for him to notice the glint of steel ahead. They were coming for him. He was next to die. The naturalist gripped his brew bomb in one hand, and prepared a spell in the other. How dare they come after him?

Burn... from this world....

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As quickly as the vision had come over Linus, it was gone. What the hell was that? The naturalist shook his head as if to clear it of dust. What was what? I just said that I hope she is as fun to be around as the bookshelf! Allard's jest at Roland's expense didn't meet the reception that he had hope for, though it served to anchor Linus into the present. It bothered him that Allard didn't seem to realize he'd just been hallucinating. Still, the episode was over and he remembered he had been looking over the new arrivals.

A few of the crew looked just as uninspiring as many of those aboard the Dartmoore, but yet another elven woman caught his eye. They tended to do that. This one wore robes and carried a staff. She'd been the one who asked Seth about her companion. Can you sense it, Lapointe? Confused, the naturalist replied after a moment's silence. No, I don't. The rattlesnake adjusted his position and coiled around the man's arm. You will. Just give it time. The dissapointment was evident in the familiar's tone, but Linus had know way of knowing that the disappointment stemmed from his inability to sense the woman's magic abilities. When Allard made no further mention of what he was supposed to be sensing, Linus moved on.

A few more dry and miserable looking characters were contrasted by a pair that stood out. One of them was talking to the Lady Vovia Cassimar, offering to introduce his companion. He seemed to be a minor noble at the very least, though not one that the naturalist had met in person. Well dressed. Well spoken. Maybe I'm not the only one here who is learned after all. The prospect of another who was a man of knowledge served to ignite a spark in whatever embers of hope Linus had managed to keep smoldering about the success of this expedition. Allard's concerns were, as usual, much less bleak. Yeah, he could be smart... But what are you going to do if he's smarter than you? You don't seem to like competition. Shut it! The serpent's gravelly laugh managed to bring something resembling a smile to the naturalist's face.

A smile that faded once he realized who, or more accurately, what this man's companion was. This Sir Damian... he had an aura about him. It was similar to the one that lingered over Reza, and one that served to sour the mood Linus had found himself in. He was an Aasimar, if Linus remembered the name correctly. The naturalist wasn't a fan, viewing the aasimar as inhuman "stains" as he had once referred to the follower of the Raven Queen. With renewed disinterest in Damian, Linus turned to Seth, just in time to catch an opening in the nobleman's discussions.

He stepped up to the Lord Seth Cassimar and spoke, not just to Seth himself, but to everyone, similarly to how master Lokey had done. "Lord Cassimar." he offered a respectful, though slight bow towards the man whom he was now addressing directly. "I'm afraid that I must regrettably express the same sentiments as my companion here." He motioned towards Gemmell, attempting to catch the man's eyes as he did so. "I am indeed under the command of Lord Darrien, whom I believe should certainly accompany us for protection. Especially so if we are bringing Aendal along." the boy seemed humiliated again, and Linus wondered how long he would continue to live in such a way. He hoped for Aendal's sake that this would change soon. "With that said, I wish to advocate for the trek inland. If indeed they have survived here, then there must be truly hospitable lands nearby. I will gladly offer my services as a naturalist to aid in this regard, and look forward to cooperating with At'thania to that end." He nodded to his Chulurkin friend, hopeful that she would aid in this quest.

Linus sensed that the man was not known for his patience, and chose to end his words there. His hand had been played, and for now it seemed to compliment the hand played by master Lokey and the rest of the Dartmoore crew. All that remained what to see which hand, and which path, Lord Seth Cassimar would choose for not just himself, but everyone else as well.
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"No man is ever truly good. | No man is ever truly evil."

Last edited by Crocartes; 12-14-2017 at 10:16 PM.
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Old 12-17-2017, 05:07 AM
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”Trailhead”
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Magwalbi’s pacing continued in ferocious circles around the tribeswoman as she listened to the man. He was the brother of Cassimar — whose name was Darrien — and his name was Seth. This bit of information came from an odd exchange between the brothers, wherein Seth took the offering of Roland from Darrien as well as two more. Gemmell and Linus: Both were reasoned to be the discoverers of the old ship.

A wind of tension blew through those that surrounded as Darrien was publicly stripped of his power. A shame. He seemed the most reasonable of the Archarian nobles. Though, he was at times indecisive.

”They did, along with At’thania,” Darrien said in a low tone of defeat.

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This stole At’thania’s attention away from the unfamiliar faces. Though she knew so few of the Dartmoore’s survivors by name, and fewer still in any personal capacity, she had grown accustomed to their faces. To see strangers now was jarring. The tribeswoman’s eyes fell on Seth like boulders knocked from a mountain pass — if such things could happen uphill.

”Right. You will accompany us as well.” A command, instant and issued from the mouth of this stranger. A leader, yes… Reza had once said, “If this is how the leadership of this colony is going to be, then we may as well get in the boats and row back to Archaria...” Was this the leadership he preferred, strong and pointed? At’thania nodded slowly, and her eyes locked with Seth’s. Even had it been an offer, she would have gone; she held the responsibility of directing these survivors through whatever wilds existed along that path. And if Linus, Gemmell, and Roland were each already a part of this excursion, she would see to it that they survived.

”She is injured, Seth,” Darrien offered as another feeble attempt to make his place around the proverbial bonfire. This man seemed not to know anger. The Chulurkin spoke no words in defense of this fact. Instead she opted to see how this new council played out. But she admired the man’s concern.

”She is Chulurkin. I’ll probably be the one struggling to keep pace with her. And if anything, I can carry her.” Seth’s rebuttal bewildered the tribeswoman. Praise. He, by all outward appearances, did not seem the man to offer such things frequently. Just as with Gemmell, Seth was a predator on the hunt. Though, unlike with Gemmell, the tribeswoman could see a path emerging from the thicket: Why was he taking them away from Darrien? “From Darrien” being the important part of that question. Unfortunately, people were not so easily readable as animals. ”Besides, her hound will be invaluable on this excursion.” Ironic, considering the scene. Magwalbi’s pacing had slowed, but the dog remained alert.

Seth continued, plucking the vanguards from Darrien’s group and hoarding them in his own. He even wanted Aendal, who seemed incapable of speech on all but the rarest occasions. Seth justified this with a non-explanation of the alien term “diviner.” Though, this exchange did give At’thania an idea…

”I am relinquishing the title,” Darrien responded to Ocela’s calling him “marquis.” ”Seth has seniority and thus, is in command of this expedition.” The meaning of this was lost on At’thania. He who was in command held the sharpest stick. That man was Darrien — accompanied by six of Elara’s vanguards as well as a war-hungry hound. By virtue of familiarity alone, they were likely to stand in his defense.

”…Questions, thoughts, objections?” Seth concluded, in a manner similar to the Knight.

A half-elf, member of the other wreck’s — the Lisburne’s, as he later clarified — clutch of survivors stepped to Darrien and Ocela, and introduced his friend to them as Damien Chevelyan. Chevelyan. That was what At’thania would call this new noble; Damien and Darrien were too close for her Chulurkin-language mind to keep separate.

Roland offered his support to Seth, if not grudgingly. The principles of this knight were equal in both complexity and consistency.

Gemmell again seized the opportunity to make his rounds. ”However, I must insist on two more joining us on this trek. The Lady Ocela must join us… And the other is Lord Darrien.” This was reassuring and clever in a way that only Gemmell could manage. So the vanguards might not be taken from Darrien… Roland backed his suggestion.

Predictably, the others from the Lisburne sided with their familiar leader. Two elves. An interesting race in Chulurkin legend. One of them was accompanied by an older man that returned fading memories of the angry man who had tugged Aendal around by his ear. The relationship between these two, however, seemed far from comparable. The other was a knight, like Roland. This new knight had been surveying the vanguards in manner similar to how the tribeswoman had surveyed the Lisburne’s survivors. For a brief time, her eyes met At’thania’s. The Chulurkin smiled, and Magwalbi finally sat down at her feet.

Linus was the last to speak. Oddly, he did not outright thrash Seth’s proposed venture with a tirade of information defining why the plan was a bad idea — and it was a bad idea. Instead, he quietly offered his support to Gemmell and agreed to go: “With that said, I wish to advocate for the trek inland. If indeed they have survived there, then there must be truly hospitable lands nearby. I will gladly offer my services as a naturalist to aid in this regard, and look forward to cooperating with At’thania to that end.” A nod of understanding followed this, directed toward the tribeswoman.

So it seemed that those who had things to contribute said their pieces, which granted the tribal an opportunity to speak. To reject, redirect, or comply… She would save the second option for later.

”Y-yes,” the Chulurkin said. She shifted her sapling-crutch to her other arm. If there was a forest in that direction, she would gladly replace the damned thing. ”S-Seth,” At’thania said, pausing to smile at the man, ”W-we go as far as h-half our water lasts. Then,” she pointed behind her with her thumb, ”we go back.”


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Last edited by FernStepper; 12-17-2017 at 05:35 AM.
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  #48  
Old 12-17-2017, 12:36 PM
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Soundtrack

Early Morning on the 19th of the Fading, the 95th Year of the 15th CenturyThe night had been uncomfortable.

A menacing chill had descended on the beach throughout the course of the night, reminiscent of the cold from the Dartmoore's final evening. This time around, though, there was shelter to be taken. The old corpse of the ship provided shielding against the bitter wind while trapping heat from carefully constructed fires scattered throughout the old cargo hold. For many, such an experience should have felt luxurious compared to the misery suffered from each night prior. And yet, sleep was difficult to find.

Everyone was on high alert. Each creak of the hull, every whisper of wind seemed out of place, unnatural. Shadows seemed to take strange, inexplicable shapes, contradicting the flames themselves as they danced about unfettered. No matter the confidence or the courage possessed by any one of the survivors, each of them cast their gaze behind them several times throughout the night as if convinced there was something or someone staring and studying. Yet, the beach remained empty and quiet. Nothing unusual was seen.

At least until dawn when the slumbering group of survivors awoke within a bank of fog.

Rather than the blue skies they had become accustomed to in the past several days, gray mist shrouded everything. Though not as thick as the Wall they had crossed upon arriving in the New World, it just as unsettling. From the edge of the ship, the ocean and its waves could not be seen, merely heard as the water ebbed and flowed along the sand.

It was a sight that provided little in the way of confidence for Darrien. Behind him, he could hear the rest of the survivors slowly awakening, their murmuring indicative of their shared concern about the fog. The Cassimar could already foresee the difficulty for the larger of the two groups trying to navigate the ocean, its currents, and the treacherous coast while being unable to see more than ten to fifteen feet ahead of them. The journey would be slow, painfully so, with the risk of getting lost quite real.

Darrien knew Seth was already awake, likely moving ahead with his plans of splitting the group in two. The night prior had been an awkward one at best for the twins. While Darrien had anticipated Seth would undermine his authority, what he had not expected were the displays of support from the others. Despite their difference in age being measured in minutes, rather than years like most siblings, Seth was always regarded as the elder and thus had the authority Darrien did not. He could not compete with his brother’s command. So when presented with a group of capable and competent people who ought to have fallen in line behind Seth, and yet did the opposite and threw their support behind Darrien…

The Cassimar gently shook his head at the thought. It was difficult to decide whether such support was given to him due to genuine confidence or if Gemmell, Linus, and Roland were all playing the same political game that Elara had started. Perhaps the origin of their support did not matter, for the result was the same. Seth became colder throughout the night, eventually ignoring his brother altogether for a time. Despite granting each and every request to the “small council” that he had summoned, such was uncharacteristic of him. Seth rarely gave into demands from those he perceived beneath him, and yet, he had honored each one.

Leaning back, Darrien pressed his shoulders up against the curved hull of the ship, staring out at the fog. Despite the apparent displays of loyalty, Darrien quietly resented the idea of traveling with his brother’s group. To leave the bulk of the survivors leaderless was not an idea he was particularly comfortable with. Thanks to Gemmell's request, even the Lady Ocela would travel with them. By default, Tyresius would be left in command, despite his leadership skills being untested. Every other potential leader was to travel with Seth -- a strange move, one likely fueled by politics than anything else.

Darrien simply hoped the gambit would be worth it.

Noon on the 19th of the Fading, the 95th Year of the 15th CenturyThe trek inland was unsettling. Vovia cared not for the fog and the mysteries it obscured around them. Occasionally, the New World would tease the dark outline of a distant mountain or the edge of a cliff, only for it to vanish within moments of being sighted. Shapeless shadows would drift at the edge of her eyes, providing her mind the cues needed to imagine an immediate threat. For the first several hours of the hike, Vovia was consistently turning and stopping, much like the others around her, as if having sighted a creature within the fog. Yet, with each successive sighting, Vovia tightened her grip on her imagination and eventually controlled such impulses.

The initial trail from the wreck had been difficult. Steep and narrow, they had moved in a single file line, often relying on one another for support. With the fog settling on them mercilessly, it was difficult to perceive any real advancement. The steep trail seemed to go on endlessly, with no immediate end in sight. Fortunately, the fog also provided a critical service -- it prevented Vovia from being able to see the ground, the sight of which would have otherwise startled her from such heights.

Yet, eventually, they had ended up on the rim of that cliff, where the terrain leveled out and became surprisingly flat and easy to traverse. It had been the first of several rests they took. Vovia could recall in those first few moments of rest her sudden appreciation for the warm clothes she had taken from their cache of supplies and dried out the night prior. At that high of an elevation, sudden gusts of frigid air were far more commonplace than on the beach. But the set of heavy wool clothes, along with the shawl that covered her neck, shoulders, and the edges of her jaw, provided her the mobile shelter she needed.

The flat terrain of the cliff heads provided them the opportunity to make up for some lost time. Seth increased their pace, despite the menacing fog, and pushed them along faster than Vovia cared for. It was impossible to tell at any given moment how close they were to the edge of a cliff or what they were walking into. Perhaps that was why Seth had others lead them, offering them up as sacrifice to the New World in case the treacherous land wanted to claim a life as a warning.

Yet, despite such a threat, the walk was not entirely exciting, but rather straightforward. Columns of stones, stacked to be one to two feet tall, marked their trail every few dozen yards. Even in the dense mist, it was not a difficult path for the Churlurkin woman to traverse. She seemed to have an uncanny, almost supernatural connection to this alien world, able to read the land without even being able to see it. Vovia had initially thought At’thania to be a burden on this trip, particularly when trying to get her up the cliff face. But it became increasingly clear with each passing hour, the barbarian and her hound were quickly becoming invaluable.

Lunch was to be brief. A small fire was built, fueled mostly by dried brush. Settling in close to the small flames, Vovia held out her hands, warming the chilled skin of her palms. It was a kind comfort, a fire that was unnecessary and unneeded, but entirely appreciated. Looking up from the crackle of light, she peered out to the shrouded world around her. The fog was unnatural. It was not governed by the same laws as the Old World. By now, the sun should have scattered and dissolved it. And yet, it persisted, clouding everything. While the occasional patch of green lichen and moss could be seen, adding some color to their otherwise gray world, it was not enough to counter the suffocating weight of the fog.

“You know, eventually, we’re going to need to name this place,” came the words of Darrien from her side. Though he was not speaking just to her, she nonetheless turned to look at him. “When Aspard returned to Archaria, he only referenced it as the New World. He never actually named the continent.”

Vovia nodded slowly then. A distraction, something Darrien had been attempting to do all morning. He, more than any of the others, attempted conversation, mindless chatter or deep discussion. A strategy to fend off the oppression of the clouds, no doubt, and one that Vovia supported. “But what happens if the Aspard survivors have already named it?” Vovia asked lightly. “Do we defer to them?”

Offering a gentle smile, Darrien paused before looking to her. “Only if it is a catchy name.”

“Quiet,” the command came from Seth, capturing Vovia’s attention immediately. His tone was not one of irritation, but concern. Looking to the other Cassimar, she watched him as he stood with his back to them, just next to his elven commander. “Saoirse?” Seth asked. “What is that?”

Pausing, Vovia narrowed her eyes as her focus went instead to her ears. At first, little more than the whisper of the wind could be heard, along with the crackle of the flames. But after a moment of quiet, she heard it, the first distant, reverberating drum.

At first, she thought it to be thunder. But the marked intervals of quiet were too well-timed to be natural in origin. Slowly, she stood up, as if the extra height would offer her an advantage. There was more to it than drums. It was difficult to make out, even as she held her breath. A horn? One? Two? She could not tell. It was too distant. But as she turned to look to Aendal and then Gemmell, she slowly nodded. “Spires,” she whispered.

Late-Afternoon on the 19th of the Fading, the 95th Year of the 15th CenturySeth hated it, the song that played on the air. While Darrien and his companions seemed to acknowledge it without much hesitation, having tried to explain the source was likely a series of monolithic spires built by some unknown race, Seth was less accepting of such an eerie chorus. The drums were too reminiscent of a war march and the lone horn in the fog seemed to warn them of an approach of some distant, unseen army. His brother had described the song of the spires near the Cascades Camp, explaining them to be mesmerizing and comforting. These songs, in contrast, were anything but welcoming. They were warnings.

Having cut lunch short, Seth ordered them to return to the trail. At’thania was proving particularly resourceful, far more than he had initially anticipated. But she moved slow, often stopping them to study the ground, the dirt, the misshapen shape of a lichen patch. Seth could feel his impatience building, the throb against his throat and pumping of his heart. But his disciplined mind kept his tongue in check. Without her, they would likely be lost, and if their success meant him tolerating her frequent stops, then so be it.

He simply wished the alleged spires would spare them of their warning songs, if only for a few minutes. Instead, they continued, the chorus long, deep, and slow. The further they walked, the louder the song became, until it felt as if it were coming from every direction around them. By now, the illusion of haunting vocals had been added into the mix. Despite Darrien’s reassurance it was a trick of the wind, not actual voices, Seth could not help but feel unsettled and under assault by the very clouds around him.

His sight went from his feet to the gray mist around him, picking out distant shapes of mountains in the distance. There was a waterfall nearby. They could all hear the unmistakable roar of cascading water, though it was not loud enough to drown out that awful song playing on the wind.

Seth narrowed his eyes as he noticed the crisp edges of a mountain in the distance, suddenly surprised at just how much further he could see. He turned, looking behind him, as if trying to determine the point at which the fog had begun to lighten. Pausing, Seth looked to Saoirse, the elven woman he was becoming increasingly reliant on. He trusted her senses, perhaps more than his own. He watched her, waiting for some form of confirmation. Instead, he noticed her wrinkle her nose at the smell of something. Taking in his own deep breath, he nodded his acknowledgement a moment later. Smoke.

“Seth,” it was Darrien, now at his side, looking straight ahead. Following his brother’s gaze, his own sight raced forward, straining against the fog that remained. He could see crisp lines, distinct shapes, and the dark shapes of something. A structure? He squinted, trying to make sense of what he was seeing. But within an instant, as the fog continued to lighten, it became clear what he was looking at. A house.


Taking one step forward, he studied it, signaling to the others to do the same. Large, it looked to be at least two stories high, with a shallow ceiling sloped over it. A rickety fence surrounded it, looking as though it was intended to keep livestock in, rather than foes out. Soft, orange glows crept from between lines in the structure, in what were likely windows or doorways. Tilting his head, Seth could make out a light plume of smoke leaving from what must have been a primitive chimney of some kind.

“Look,” Darrien said again as he outstretched his arm, pointing out another nearby structure, just adjacent to the barn-like house. This one was much smaller, perhaps no more than ten feet in width, depth, and height. But perhaps the more interesting detail was the sight of what looked to be a wooden overhang, built to reach out over the edge of the cliff it was settled up against. And it was there that Seth saw the churning water of the cascade he had been hearing for the last pair of hours. Even though still partially hidden by fog, the valley in which the cascade dumped its water into could be seen below, a rather steep and terrifying drop in altitude.

Nodding his head, Seth turned to look to his small group of more than a dozen. “Keep your hands off your blades. Move slowly and space yourselves out. We do not want to appear like a threat,” he ordered before looking at Roland. “Knight-Captain, if you would? Take point. Lead us in. Let them know of our arrival.”



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  #49  
Old 12-17-2017, 04:32 PM
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Gemmell
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The fog was a comforting blanket to Gemmell on the ascent. He had been born in a land of rain and mist. No one alive remembered that time but him. And despite the brutality of those early years, it was his origin. That he could lose a few small paces from the others and know he could disappear so completely into vapor gave him a sort of boldness. The feeling made him look over at At'thania on occasion. She, too, was in her element. Just a different one.

The return of the alien sounds put a secret smile on his face hidden in the hood of his blood red cloak. That it was more menacing and didn't seem to come from anything explainable didn't matter to him. It was there again. He found it difficult to keep his breathing from matching the rhythm of the drums and the clashing chorus of horns. It was arousing.

When Seth gave the order to advance on the house he shrugged and fell back next to Darrien. The Knight-Captain would relish to opportunity to march into the unknown, to conquer. There would be no stopping him despite stealth being a better option. He had the feeling that the sounds around them were an alarm of sorts anyway. A ward. Their approach, though perhaps unseen, might already be known. Even if Roland knew he was the sacrificial vanguard, he wouldn't care. Gemmell wondered idly what Seth's elven companion would think of the choice. He glanced at Saoirse. Her poise gave no clue.
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Old 12-20-2017, 12:38 PM
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A grey man in a grey fog
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Reza hadn't even tried to sleep. The misty dream world between life and death was becoming a place he cared not to venture. Instead, the man had spent most of the night in contemplation of the spires, and for the first time in many days, of his mistress. The book she had ladened him with gave no clues as to either mystery. The spires seemed an alien and ancient construction, part of a living world which spoke to those careful and patient enough to listen. On the beach, the only sound was the rolling waves, the crackling of the fire, and the snoring of the colonists. Reza stood, leaning on his staff, watching the horizon.

As the sun crested the sea, Reza maintained his watch to the south. He had sent Korvus back to the camp nearly a full day ago, and the raven had yet to return. Reza had given the bird specific instructions, and he was now growing concerned. Korvus had rarely ever ventured beyond Reza's sight before reaching the new world and had only ever left it upon Reza's instructions since. The bird had returned easily enough from his scouting upon their initial landfall, but now the fog was thick and Reza wondered if the raven was having difficulty navigating the shoreline because of it. Perhaps the bird could no longer take wing and navigate the waterways, preventing him from returning to Reza.



Reza climbed the steep path with a grace that had been unrevealed until now. The man had never been on a boat before the Dartmoore, but his skill traversing steep terrain had been nearly unparalleled back home. The wooden staff he so regularly leaned on and used as a walking stick was secured to his back as he used his hands to aid in his ascent. He traveled quickly, scouting the path ahead of the others to avoid hazards that the others would surely fall prey to. After some time, they reached the summit and Reza saw with his own eyes that which Korvus had hinted at. Above the cliffs, the land was almost perfectly flat. It was there that he waited for the remainder of the expedition to catch up.

Reza estimated that the sun was nearing its zenith and ex[ected that the group would be ready for a respite after the climb. The fog clung to the land as a babe to its mother, even though it was well past time for the fog to have left. He suspected that it was simply another part of the strange world which seemed to not obey the natural laws they were used to. He found a small patch of land suitable for a short break and lead Seth and the others to its location, gathering small brush along the way to be used for a small fire. Fog can be deceptively cool, and exposed fingers used to steady unsure bodies along the climb could develop frostnip, which could lead to frostbite if not tended to. A fire was lit, and Reza made quick work of a lunch of hard tack and cascade water before scouting ahead once again.

As he scouted, the music of the falls returned. This time, the music was quite different. Foreboding and ominous, this song seemed more at home coming from the mongols to the east of Reza's homeland than anywhere else. Perhaps they would stumble across one of the spires he instinctively knew was making the music as they traveled on.



The grey man had unslung his staff and began using it once again as a walking stick, leaning his weight on it at every step. Anyone watching him now would never have believed that the man had so nimbly traversed the steep cliffside path. He kept pace with the group, allowing At’thania to guide them now. He continued to scout ahead, though never traveled far given how easy it would have been to lose the group in the fog which had finally begun to thin.

The sounds of the cascade came suddenly, mixing with the song of the spires. Reza strained his ears trying to decipher a direction but was never able. The music always seemed to simply come on the wind from whichever direction the wind blew. Trying to determine an exact direction to one of the spires was meaningless, the fog hid the spires from view as the wind hid the originating direction of the music. It was only once the Cassimars called for a halt did Reza break from his musings on the spires and the music, not realizing that he had stood listening for long enough for the others to catch up to him.

A house had been spotted through the fog, and now Reza's sharp eyes spied it too. The construction looked like the building had been there for some time, but it was difficult to tell through the distance and fog. Reza suspected this was not of Aspard's crew but kept silent at his ponderings as they would certainly know soon enough.

His mistresses book had revealed some secrets to him, and one of those secrets might be quite useful in this situation. He pulled a few small vials from his pack and mixed a pinch of salt with a pinch of soot in his palm. He used his finger to pick up a small dab of the mixture and rubbed it behind both ears and above his eyes. As he did so, he spoke quietly and lowly, the words almost mixing with the spire's music. Once the ritual was completed, he turned to Roland. "I will go with you Roland, and perhaps we can learn something from whoever has survived in this land long enough to build a home."
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Old 12-22-2017, 10:43 PM
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The Night BeforeBefore the group had set out on the trek, Roland approached Seth. The knight-captain showed their new leader neither special deference nor special coldness - he held himself and spoke with the comfortable, efficient briskness of an officer addressing a superior officer. "Lord Cassimar, I believe it would be best if Brother Casimir accompanied our expedition. The lay priests that my Order sent are all experienced healers, Casimir most of all. Should we take casualties, he will be invaluable in treating them. And considering the number of principle targets in this group, we cannot afford to take losses." Should Seth disagree, Roland would argue his point strongly but not to the point of defiance.

Casimir would smile ruefully in the background, pondering whether it ever occurred to Roland that not all of them wore more than fifty years of age so lightly. His old bones would be more comfortable around the fire back at camp, but he'd followed his captain into worse than this.


Roland Jenseric - Current
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The song of the spires, now grim and harsh instead of the deceptive lull at the cascades, began to put Roland into a mindset known and hated by military officers the world over - the looming expectation of ambush. A stern scowl settled over his face, the bleak expression broken only by the sharp, searching jade fire of his gaze glaring into every corner and culvert.

He watched the mountains around them fade in and out of sight, the inconsistency of it setting his teeth on edge. It offended something deep within him, this unpredictable and unchanging land, but as of yet he had no way to fight mountains. So he put his discomfort aside, and focused on something more familiar to him - security, and the organization thereof. Seth's group had a far higher ratio of military personnel than their own, leaving Roland feeling more comfortable with their marching order.

Every soldier who wishes to survive a campaign in the field must learn to trust and operate alongside scouts. Roland had already been operating with a working respect for At'thania - he'd fought the Chulurkin before, and they had a tenacity and lack of pretension that he approved of. Now, At'thania was the scout to their expedition and Roland fell into step behind her smoothly. He put his now-armored bulk behind At'thania but in the vanguard of the rest of the formation, stopping when she stopped and moving when she moved. He watched for her signals with the familiarity of someone used to moving in a screened formation, and this smooth operation continued until they finally approached the first sign of civilization yet seen.

Seth gave his orders, and Reza made his offer. Roland simply nodded, keeping his hand resolutely away from his sword, and stepped forward. "Stay behind me," he said shortly to Reza by way of response. Approaching the building slowly and cautiously, he approaches a short distance away before speaking up. "Hail, the house!" he calls out. "We mean no harm - come forward and make yourselves known."

Roland speaks loudly and firmly - there is nothing threatening in his tone, but the last still comes out more as a command than a request. He keeps his hand well away from his sword hilt, but he does keep his shield close to hand on the off chance any missiles suddenly come his way.
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Old 12-24-2017, 12:08 AM
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Linus Lapointe 26: Nobles and Savages
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Linus had oddly, for the first time since arriving in this new world, slept perfectly. Though the various noises and otherwordly shadows served to unsettle him while awake, once his eyes were closed he was away from their grasp. The morning had brought with it almost a sense of excitement to venture forth and seek out those who had survived in this barren land.

It had been decided that At'thania would set the pace and act as scout, though the naturalist couldn't help but notice that his ideological enemy Reza was near frantically working his way up the trail. The aasimar scurried up on all fours at points, serving only to reinforce Linus' view of him as sub-human. Lapointe, I thought it was decided by the elder Cassimar that At'thania would be taking the point on this expedition? The serpent had noticed the raven queen servant's display as well -- how could he not when the fellow made such an obvious show of climbing quickly? Linus simply shook his head as he started marching. I guess he has decided that he need neither follow command or respect the land. Maybe the new world itself will dole out punishment for his hubris.

Evidently, the new world saw it fit to let Reza inhabit it further, as the man repeatedly returned to the group from the thick mist that had settled down over the land. The fog was thick and visibility was compromised. Someone with expertise in being stealthy would be nigh unstoppable, though Linus was unsure of who exactly among the group would be able to lay claim to such abilities. Certainly neither himself nor Roland. At'thania would probably be able to, moreso when her leg was fully healed. Reza might be able to considering he at least appeared capable of navigating in the fog. Mr. Lokey moved well and seemed no less comfortable than usual. Maybe he's good at slinking around? Linus couldn't be sure, especially regarding the new arrivals. A couple of them favored little to no armor. Perhaps they would serve such roles in the colony?

Progress was slow, but no one truly seemed to mind. At'thanis was doing her job well, and had prevented anyone from meeting an untimely demise or making a wrong turn. They'd also not been ambushed or attacked by any strange creatures, a feat which the naturalist attributed to At'thania's ability to read the land in a way that even he couldn't. Yes, he could tell you what the wolf ate, and maybe even why it ate that. ButAt'thania could tell you when it was that the wolf would decide to come for you. A skill that would certainly make here worth more than the entire expedition's weight in gold.

Because she lead the way, and Linus wished not to cramp the spearhead of the column, he had to resort to being around other faces. He felt he'd bothered Gemmell enough, and the man appeared as though he was enjoying the silence. Allard laughed when Linus suggested that he could go talk to Roland. What are you going to do? Ask him how his day was? I can tell you how it was. FOGGY. Ahahaha! Both the serpent's glee and the search for a travel companion were shortened when he overheard someone else talking during lunch.

The source was none other than Darrien Casimar and the Lady Vovia. Though he could care less about conversing with her, Linus figured Darrien would enjoy the conversation partner. If not, there's always Seth to work for. The rattlesnake had quite enjoyed that joke, enough to rattle ever so slightly as the naturalist approached the noble pair. Technically, it was now a noble trio, though only two among the expedition would know it. Or would Darrien know? He should...

"My Lord Cassimar, my lady Ocela" Linus waited for a slight break in the conversation before presuming to join them for lunch. "Regarding a name for this place, I've been thinking the same as you Lord Darrien. We need a name." The naturalist took a bite of his flavorless food, seemingly unbothered by the sheer blandness of the meal. In the presence true nobility, he at least remembered to swallow before talking. "The only name I've found myself taking a liking to is Hostilia." he said matter of factly. "Admittedly, it's not very friendly sounding, but it's not like the land itself is friendly either. There's always the possibility of naming it after it's "grand explorer" Aspard. Aspardia has a nice ring to it..."

His thoughts were slowly but surely invaded by an aggressive rhythm, the deep beats of wardrums and distant thundering of hums. vovia heard it to, standing to get a better idea of where the sound was coming from. Many of the others, especially the new arrivals seemed disturbed, though Linus found the whole situation... peaceful. It was almost comfortable, he thought. A wonderful natural music paired with a beautiful and mysterious fog that just swallowed everything that wasn't within a few feet. The occasional silhouettes that appeared to morph through the banks of fog were disorienting, but also strangely beautiful.

As beautiful as the scenery was, it became almost idyllic in mere moments. he fog part just enough to reveal a large building and then a smaller one! It was a scene that the artists back in Archaria would envy the chance to paint, with the fog obscuring outlines just enough to leave everything not illuminated by the light floating out of the windows up to the imagination. But this was not imagination, and it was certainly not the oilwork of an Archarian or Reznunian master. This was real, and the magnitude of the discovery demanded silence, respect, and caution in equal measure.

Though Linus could not hear the initial words, he slipped forward in time to hear Reza offer to accompany the Knight-Captain Roland. Seth seemed prepared, and his own vanguard appeared ready as well. Tread carefully. This is not right. Linus heeded his friend's words and stepped forward, following in the path of the outlander and the knight. Unlike Roland, his own hand was gripped firmly on his blade's hilt, ready to draw the weapon at a moment's notice. His left hand floated freely, ready to call forth any manner of arcane energy that the situation might require.
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  #53  
Old 12-24-2017, 02:17 PM
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Lilain Greenwell
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The night was restless; shadows creeping at the edge of the fire light. She slept fitfully, eventually distracting herself with redistributing belongings between her own pack and that of her mentor’s. As dawn broke she reminded Sorrell that he was to go back with the other party to the camp that Darien Cassimar had built down the coast line.

She did not care if the other saw her with Sorrell. He was her only comfort and did not know if she would see him again once she headed inland up the steep Cliffside trail. She embraced him tightly and kissed his forehead.

“Do not worry so Darling. You will be fine. You are in capable company and can defend yourself if needed. They have yet to see your skills in the arcana and perhaps the New World will favor your unrefined magic. I will see you when you all return from your little expedition. I think there will be enough for me to do at the other camp to keep my mind occupied,” Sorrell replied to the younger elf in their native tongue, before she headed off to join the others at the trail head.

Lilain felt unprepared to be going on this expedition with the others. Dressed in her robes, carrying her staff and bag full of a mish mash of gear she even looked like she was going out on her first hiking trip. The others some clad in their armor, and grim looks masking their true feelings about the situation took the lead on the ascent up the single track.
The elf sorceress drifted to the back of the train relieved that At’thanis was taking point. She seemed well suited to the job, stopping frequently, assessing the ground and then proceeding once she determined the details she needed.

At first the fog, reminded Lilain of the fog in the Other Realm. But as the day progressed and it did not thin, the fog literally began to tickle the edges of her mind. Vague shapes and shadows put the sorceress on edge. She had seen nor heard any wildlife since making landfall. The shapes turned out to be tuffs of grass or wind swept shrubs. Others melted into the fog not to be seen.

Lilain wondered what this land really contained. The magic she could feel was confusing; sometime she could feel a familiar strand of magic other times the energy felt muddled, fuzzy and unclear.

At their midday break a short discussion of the naming of the land was brought up. Lilain could care less at the moment; they could name it later once they had established a place to live. She had not heard the drums until someone else voiced what it was. Scanning the group the rhythm seemed to be unsettling to some and a little more familiar to others.

As the fog lifted and revealed the house, apprehension knotted the elf’s stomach. She gripped her staff with both hands as Lord Seth called for Roland. Her eyes darted to each person; Linus and Reza as they moved forward with the knight. They had not seen any structures or signs of inhabitance beyond their own making. The fact that this house was here did not sit well with her.

She began to recite the names of plants silently in her head to keep herself from running away, or collapsing to her knees or having an outburst of ‘stop. Don’t go.’ The feeling from that morning had come back; inadequacy. Her young age, lack of skill and experience, lack of martial training. She was beginning to wonder why the Abbey had sent them in the first place. Did they know how hostile and undeveloped this world was?


 

 
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  #54  
Old 12-24-2017, 03:45 PM
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Clouded Vision
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The fog disturbed Aendal in a way he couldn't quite voice aloud, even if he had wanted to do so. As soon as he had awoken and seen just how occluded the entire area had become, he'd thrown off the blankets and promptly (casting detect magic as a ritual)began drawing in the air. He wasn't sure why he felt they would have the time for it, only that if the fog was concealing a threat, it wouldn't be he who was able to spot it. Aendal could hardly see in this fog, to say nothing of the chill.

There was nothing remarkable about it, however, as he grimaced as soon as he was done transferring the intricate golden drawings from the air to his eyes. He even shook his head when asked if there was anything unusual going on.

He spent the climb mostly fumbling. If there was one thing that Aendal Ferrin most certainly was not, it was fit for prolonged physical exertion; but he weathered the climb without a word. There wasn't much opportunity for pensiveness; he was forced to focus solely on not slipping for what seemed hours.

All the while, his eyes would drift towards the fog, wariness openly displayed.

When Aspard returned to Archaria, he only referenced it as the New World. He never actually named the continent. Aendal had his own name for this place already: (ese - 'to not see'; dania - 'the land' -- here, he is joining terms from his incantations into a proper noun)Esedania, the Blind Land, though that was a literal interpretation in the Common dialect. The land where sight is lost, except it meant far more than simply blindness. No matter how hard everyone tried to eke out a semblance of understanding, something else arose to cloud it once again. This morning, it was as though someone had been reading his thoughts and decided to take matters into very literal hands; in this fog, everyone's sight was surely lost.

"Quiet", Seth Cassimar had suddenly said, and that had Aendal's head rise sharply from where he had been ruminating on... other things. "What is that?"

"Spires," Lady Vovia said, and she did not have disagreement from the diviner, as his head vertically bobbed multiple times in otherwise silence. He had been listening to them at the Cascade for days, but all that had transpired from that was an idea that had transfigured into magical form of some partial use, joining the other, more practical spell that sat in the pack on his back.

The noise of another waterfall sent relief through the wizard, and the rueful realization that calling the camp "the" Cascade was imprecise now. Another source of water potentially meant other things, as well. That caused other thoughts to resurface; he hadn't just been thinking on the cold, the past five days. If other people lived on this continent, could they even communicate with each other?

Now they could. A part of Aendal wondered if anyone had thought on the matter besides him, but surely somebody had. He did not know exactly what expertise the others had in such matters -- some of them were guarded about that even during what passed for downtime here. A tiny little part of him, the part mocking him in his sleep, had been tempted to go rummaging to find out, except there was no chance of doing that without awkward questions at best. That did not lessen the desire; what use was a wizard with virtually nothing in his repetoire?

Even in the one of worst case scenarios, he had a pair of bargaining chips. Master Ihvan would have wielded one like a bludgeon until no one else was left standing, without letting anyone know of the second until he had a use for it. Aendal was supposed to have been paying attention to the man when he did that, for multiple reasons.

Which was why, when the presence of something civilized emerged in the foggy distance and orders of "not appearing a threat" were given, the diviner said and did nothing, except to suddenly reach out and gently pluck at Darrien Cassimar's sleeve before returning his hands to an interlocking finger-clasp in front of him.


OOC- Casting detect magic as a ritual upon waking up.
- Lots of hiking.
- Stuff.
- Char sheet is largely accurate as far as carried goods are concerned. I haven't done an update to account for the salvaging run. The holidays and Thanks Wizards of the Coast MtG Design Internship announcement.other things have interfered with that level of detail picking and I prioritized posting this over that. There would definitely be spare clothes and a bedroll in his future, though, I can say that much off the top of my head.

Last edited by Avayar; 12-24-2017 at 04:01 PM. Reason: Formatting... and grammar and spelling police. :(
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Old 12-27-2017, 05:03 AM
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”Ascent from Aspard’s Wreck”
Fog beset the camp at daybreak, complicating the venture up the path. The crimson sand dulled in its haze and disappeared further off; even the sea, which could be heard running its licking surf inland, was invisible from the end of the wreck. At’thania gripped the body of her sapling-crutch and shuddered in the cold as she stared into the white-gray that should have been the cliffs. She contemplated the idea of the sand giving way to thick mud up the path… How would she handle that, if there too she found the bones of the damned?

The late-risers woke with similar unease to the scene. But Seth commanded the survivors inland anyway. This was a bad idea. At’thania took a position near the front of the survivors, as it was the most reasonable given her role. The rough end of the sapling-crutch dug into her armpit as the path steepened thus carving a painful distraction from the nipping cold. When feeling courageous, she let the foot of her broken leg lay delicately on the ground. Shooting aches reminded her why she kept the thing elevated, but her good leg fatigued quickly.

Reza, the gray man, had appended his long staff to his back and assumed an often quadrupedal gait as he clambered up into the fog, away from the group. Scouting? A “civilized” holy man? The two concepts did not cleanly overlay in the tribeswoman’s mind. He seemed to know a bit about what he was doing — at least inasmuch as she could see him demonstrate this through the fog. But he was clearly an amateur.

It did not matter, as Seth had given the Chulurkin the responsibility of tracking the mysterious trailblazers up into the cliffs. And it was here, along what started as a sandy incline that she could finally be of some real use.

The jaws of the land closed in on the survivors as a tall wall of rock that bled away into the milky heavens and an abyss. They pressed the group into a tight line, with At’thania taking point behind Magwalbi. The cold face of the stones wore a faint slick of dampness from the fog and smelt of wet earth.

The tribeswoman felt particularly grateful for the steadying hand that kept her from tumbling backward when her sapling-crutch failed to find purchase on the gravel. Though, she dared not glance behind her for fear of being afflicted with sky-dizziness. The fog prevented her from seeing far enough ahead to spot dangerously shifting stones; if one came, they would die. That was it. A bad idea… But the wall was devoid of cracks as there were no roots pushing the solid stone apart. It gave no indication of bearing loose boulders higher up. Though, a concern tugged at At’thania’s mind like two pups pulling at tough meat: If the Chulurkin knew of such a ridge along a mountain, they would roll boulders and logs up to its skyward mouth so as to utterly destroy anything unwise enough to pursue them up the same path. In fact, her father had used this trap on a clutch of invading Archarians. He spoke of how “metal men crumpled and moved no more” when acquainted with the heft of stone. Now that At’thania took the path of those long-dead crusaders — accompanied largely by Archarians, no less — an odd and unsettling expectation came with the sound of wind and crunching gravel.

Damnable slabs of stone peeking from beneath fine silt defined the highest stretches of the path. These confounded At’thania’s crutch-work, as they did not hold the end at all. But when it seemed that the land had at last run dry of grip-gifting silt, the wall gave way sharply to the gray sky. The survivors had made it to the top, and used the opportunity to take their first rest before pressing on across a relatively flat expanse. The winds here were intense and chapping — and At’thania used her free hand to cover her lips and nose. The hot puffs of air from her lung carried a moisture undetectable within the humidity of the fog. Her animal-hide shawl, with tufts of fur both inside and out, broke the cold that nipped at her torso, though her exposed ankles and moccasins bled heat into the air. Oh, how unfortunate it would have been had she worn the loose dress she’d made for the celebrations that should have followed her completion of The Hunt of the Bear. Whatever blessing could be read from that was strangled by the choking thought of her parents displaying the thing in their yurt. The shawl she now wore — its fur dyed with blocky shapes — was a burial shawl.

It was here, in these flat lands, that At’thania and Magwalbi could begin their work.


”Tracker, Hunter”

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The path up to the top of cliff face had been constrictive and lacked a need for problem-solving. Even now that the survivors could spread into a horizontal line if they so desired, their directions were provided by way of short rock cairns. No further investigation was needed per se.

”Magwalbi,” At’thania said, causing the hound’s small ears pop up and twitch. The dog did not understand language — neither Common Tongue, nor Chulurkin. Instead, he knew only specific commands and gestures. Anything complicated At’thania wished to convey would be laid on trust alone. She briefly pulled her hand from her face and pointed to irregularities on the ground — things that looked to be faint dents in the dirt. Tracks? If they were, they were old, and nothing in their shape revealed anything of the feet that created them.

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The dog immediately began puffing at the soil with his nose and set off to circle one of the cairns following a few clicks from the tribeswoman. Any information that Magwalbi could pull from these things would start him on a trail. But the trail the Chulurkin hound could find would not depend on the cairns. At’thania had a hunch that whoever stacked the stones had done so either in conditions similar to this, or with some purpose other than cutting a straight line through the dirt. This much was evidenced by the meandering placement of each pair that knowledgeably avoided shallow dips and ultimately insignificant features in the terrain. For instance, a flat stretch of stone might have been easy to traverse, but presented a challenge for the construction of balanced rock-piles.

But there was little hope that Magwalbi could suck anything meaningful from year-old stones and worn tracks, even with a nose as keen as his. So while the hound worked around the first cairn, At’thania looked horizon-ward. Fog. Thick and white, as it had been on the beach. This irritated the Chulurkin as she struggled to distinguish the varying shades of cloud from mountains. The elevation in the fog granted glimpses at distant mountain peaks when it broke, but she could glean nothing useful from only pieces of distant ridges.

Seth looked to be growing impatient, but said nothing. Surely the others were as well — the tribeswoman’s hobble must have held the survivors back during their ascent. Perhaps they wondered why they should not just follow the cairns.

Magwalbi stopped circling and sniffed at the air. A loud, low bark burst from his throat. He’d done it. A trail — a scent that followed the path provided.

”Magwalbi na b-ben le’in to! Yen ve’eni ra?” the Chulurkin asked in a yelp as she struggled after the quick-moving hound. Her own eyes sliced in arcs across the dirt, taking in each notable feature as the dog continued on through the cairns. Pebbles, silt, dirt... None of this was of particular use save for the soft depressions made by passing feet, which curved in and out of the path between the cairns. Maybe they had known that the path was inefficient…

A depression of mud crept through the mist from between another two of the markers and the “tracks” disappeared into the soft earth. The tribeswoman stopped here, crouching to examine it. Magwalbi stopped as well with violently flaring nostrils. Pits of ancient tracks punctuated the mud further into the depression. They were nearing water. Or it had rained. Based upon the state of the tracks — appearing as though they had dried, worn away, and then become damp once more — the second explanation seemed more likely. Though, the windswept plain seemed an extension of Godsjoke’s desert. Regardless, Magwalbi chose to veer left from the path so as to circumvent the unnecessary struggle of plodding through the mud. He was able to locate more cairns hiding in the mist several hundred yards away.

The journey continued this way for a while as At’thania wove the survivors through bends in the marked path. In the fog, it was impossible to tell how much time all this trouble was saving them. But it must have been somewhat significant.

Magwalbi stopped at another cairn. His ears contorted to face odd directions as his tongue hung from his mouth.

”Yan g-g-gnoto ra?” the tribeswoman asked, knowing that she would receive no answer. Her hound continued his walking after a while, no longer sniffing at the ground. He heard something… An animal? The rocks took on the odd look of being pitted by the fog. On closer inspection, these gaps were revealed to be spots of lichen. They must have been nearing the falls.

The survivors stopped for a midday meal after the first signs of life. At’thania sat a little ways away from the fire, against the furry mound that was Magwalbi. He shielded her from the wind, and she dug her fingernails into his favorite scratching spots in return. It felt strange to have her gaze directed somewhere other than at the ground, and she glanced around the group. Ocela and Darrien sat near the pitiful fire, discussing something. Linus, oddly, approached them and joined their conversation. Had he seen something in that graveyard? He’d not been acting like himself. One of the new elves tightly held a staff like Hasdrubal’s. Her demeanor — inspired, perhaps, by the cold — resembled that of Aendal.

”Quiet. Saoirse? What is that?” Seth’s voice slayed the voluminous chatter of the survivors. At’thania heard it as well. Magwalbi’s tail swatted at the ground. The song of those stone totems — that had been what the dog had heard. These sounded like totems of war.


”The House”
”Seth,” Darrien said. It appeared to the survivors as the cloud they’d been traveling in broke apart. It explained the smell of burning wood despite there being no visible trees. A house.

The sight of the thing prickled At’thania’s spine. So much time spent at sea and in the new world had stolen the memories of these structures. When she was a young girl, her parents had warned her never to approach those that stood at the edge of their land. The Archarians did not move; when they settled, they built their homes with wood and stone so that they would stand for all of time. Silverwall had been its own nightmare — a maze of such things constructed by a people who saw the necessity for this immortality. What unsettled At’thania most was how competent these people — her enemies — were.

The tribeswoman nodded to Roland, who had been following her carefully and diligently. ”Th-thank you.” Perhaps he could tell that she was on edge after seeing the building. The Archarians… their influence existed even here.

”Keep your hands off your blades. Move slowly and space yourselves out. We do not want to appear like a threat. Knight-Captain, if you would? Take point. Lead us in. Let them know of our arrival,” Seth directed. Bad idea. A glance toward Linus revealed that he too was skeptical of this man’s plan; the naturalist’s hand remained on the hilt of his sword.

”I will go with you Roland, and perhaps we can learn something from whoever has survived in this land long enough to build a home,” Reza said after completing some kind of… prayer? Perhaps a spell?

”Stay behind me.” The knight nodded and began his walk toward the house.

Dammit. Seth would have this group walk into an attack on the basis of an inference… The Chulurkin struggled to untangle herself from her bow as she wobbled against her homemade crutch. Once loose, she pulled an arrow from her quiver — one of the nice, steel-headed ones that Gemmell had gifted her and clutched it against the shaft of the bow with her one free hand. This would be a problem. She could probably shoot it, but she couldn’t move at the same time.

She then hobbled after Roland and Reza with Magwalbi at her heels.


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Old 12-27-2017, 02:19 PM
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Lady Vovia Ocela15 Minutes Later


In quiet frustration, she lifted a palm to slide her fingers along the smooth skin of her forehead. Everything was damp from the persistent fog, her skin included. Wiping away the excess moisture, she flicked her hand, in some habitual reflex to rid herself of the water. It failed entirely. Stretching out her hands and fingers, she found her irritation growing with each passing minute. Nothing about the New World made any sense. And now that they were so close to what should have been able to provide them answers, and yet there was nothing but further questions...

“Are you alright, milady?”

Seth’s voice reached her, nearly causing her to flinch, having not realized he had stepped up behind her. Casting her eyes down, she turned to look at his boots, not yet ready to make eye-contact with him. “I am frustrated, just like the rest of you,” she admitted as her eyes went back out to the fog surrounding them. “You do not need to concern yourself with me.”

Her jaw tightened as she could hear his steps along the shallow wooden porch of the abandoned longhouse, bringing him to her side. “I am afraid that is just not possible, milady,” he said quietly, his shifted tone only adding fuel to the fire smoldering within her core. She hated him.

“Then do us both a favor,” she began, turning her head to look at him finally. “Distract yourself with them,” she said as she motioned to the empty house behind them. “They need answers and you need to find them some.”

“I’m afraid I am no magician,” Seth said softly, briefly checking to ensure no one else was within earshot. “I cannot just conjure--”

A thump and gush of mud. The odd sound caught both of them. Each one, a trained warrior in their own right, straightened in posture as one hand went to each of their blades. Looking to the source, they could see something had fallen from above and was resting on the ground. Yet the fog distorted most of it, blurring the edges and fading any color.

Vovia glanced behind her, looking through the open door and into the empty longhouse, trying to catch the gaze of the others. When she finally caught one, she pointedly motioned with her head towards the fog, wanting them to come with her.

Stepping forward, Seth followed suit, taking several slow strides to close the gap between them and whatever had fallen from the mist laden sky. The spiresong was growing louder, the winds were picking up, the fog was getting denser. Shifting her gaze, Vovia looked to her surroundings, as if expecting something to come rushing forward. And yet, there was nothing.

So instead, they continued to take small steps forward. But as the object came into sharper focus, Vovia found her chest tightening and heart picking up several extra beats. She could see it now, with it resting in the mud no more than several feet ahead of her. But it did not make any sense… She looked skyward once more, though such action was in vain. There was nothing but gray.

“Is that…?” Seth’s question began, causing Vovia to look back down at the fleshy object, a grimace crossing her face.

She looked up then, another sound catching her focus. It was the distinct caw from a raven echoing down from the fog.

Ser Darrien Cassimar15 Minutes Earlier


"Hail, the house!" Roland called out. "We mean no harm - come forward and make yourselves known."

Darrien’s gaze shifted from the knight to the large house just ahead of them, waiting for movement. And yet, there was nothing. Always nothing. Holding his breath, he watched as his brother nodded to Roland once more, indicating him to try again. A second loud, bellowing greeting went out, returning with little more than the soft whispers of the wind.

Something was wrong. He couldn’t be the only one feeling it. Darrien glanced to the others, watching for their reactions, for any displays of apprehension. Maybe he was the only one feeling it? This place, this world, was all wrong. So why would this place be any different?

He watched as his brother motioned them all forward. Reluctantly, the younger Cassimar stepped forward, keeping to the side of At’thania and Aendal. Why he sought those two out for some small semblance of security, he couldn’t quite say. Between all of them, they were the two that perhaps seemed the least uncomfortable or lost.

The journey forward was impossibly uncomfortable. This was beyond the Cassimar, beyond any experience he had back in Archaria. He was a steward of the land, a diplomat, a faux warrior at best. He was trained with a blade, but he had only swung it against allied foes padded in armor, encouraging him with each swing of his dull blade. This was different. It was entirely foreign to the nobleborn.

The more they closed that gap, the faster his pulse raced. At any moment, he anticipated an arrow to come shrieking through the fog or a battlecry to sound as a throng of berserkers raced towards them. And yet, there was nothing. Nothing but the wind, the fog, and the spiresongs in the distance.

Seth CassimarHe watched as Roland slowly pushed the door open, revealing the dimly lit interior. There had been no response to their hails, no calls to halt their approach. Just empty silence. And as Roland stepped into the interior, with Seth following behind him, it became clear as to why that was the case.

There was no one to hear their hail.

As his eyes went to the walls and then up towards the ceilings, Seth realized the primitive home was designed to be less of a private dwelling, and more of a communal longhouse. In fact, other than the front door, there were no others. No walls. Just columns of wood that gave some structure to the large, open space. At the center, a mound of earth and stone, with a dying flame keeping the orange coals alive, though not likely for much longer. A large, iron pot was just adjacent to the makeshift stove, filled with what looked to be little more than water. Half a dozen primitive chairs made of flattened logs were spread around the firepit, with several having wooden flagons resting atop them.

Taking in a long breath, Seth looked then to Roland and then Reza, confirming they were seeing the same as he. Empty, abandoned perhaps. Along the walls, empty bunks sat unused, but not unlived in. Small trinkets were everywhere, wooden figurines, metal lockets -- likely the last few possessions many of these would be inhabitants had left. Yet, strangely, an absence of any furs or blankets as one would have expected for such a cold climate.

Pausing in his place, Seth watched as the rest of the group filtered into the empty longhouse. Although paranoia was beginning to set in, another sense of frustration was beginning to build just as quickly. Where would these people have gone? And why?

Lady Vovia Ocela15 Minutes Later


There was something moving on the air. She could hear it. It was large, heavy. “Get inside,” she whispered to Seth as she began to backtrack from the fallen hand. Slowly, she removed her longsword, holding it firm as she continued to take one step after another backwards towards the abandoned longhouse. But whatever was above them was not revealing itself. It knew how to navigate the fog, how to use the wind to stay afloat.

And it knew exactly where she was.



OOC

 
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Old 12-29-2017, 02:56 PM
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Little Loghouse on the River
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It was a relief to get inside out of the fog. It made the sensation of being watched... lessen. Aendal had not been sure exactly what he should have expected upon entering the longhouse, but his expression makes it clear that the contents did not correlate with his thoughts. There was also the logical matter at hand as well:

"How...?" It blurts out before any thought is given to it, which causes him to stop and flush red for a moment. But then he suddenly shakes his head, and his eyes go to look straight at Darrien Cassimar's, and then more suddenly comes out of his mouth: "How did they survive long enough to do all this?"

It became an actual discussion after, See OOC below about Historian.whether anything could have been hidden there or not that allowed these people to be left alone long enough to build structures. That fount of information had not been from studies at the University, but when pressed on how he knew about smuggler's tricks, Aendal went beet red and nearly silent, mumbling two words that he most definitely does not want announced to the world.

Embarassment doesn't last for a long time regardless, and soon enough he is left be to his own devices while collecting himself from that "confession". Casting detect magic via Arcanist's feature.Two words and two covered eyes later, he is proceeding with his own line of inquiry. In a strange manner of speaking, it was exactly what he should have been doing in this circumstance anyway. The Guild was called upon for unusual inquiries as it was -- that was its goal after all -- and this entire continent was anything but normal.

Yet as soon as his hands no longer conceal his vision, Aendal recoils immediately, even waving his palms as though trying to fend off something. It was a reflexive response, ineffective but habitual, and within five seconds he is looking around the longhouse with considerable bewilderment.

"Something happened here." Those words come out of his mouth with their creator unaware of their passing. His eyes are transfixed on the air, to the point he spins a complete three-hundred sixty degrees and completely oblivious to everyone and everything to the point he nearly trips on one of those crude wooden seats before catching himself.

It was just a chance look, but one that could not have come at a worse time. His enchanted eyes were surveying around the room, still looking at... something... when quite suddenly he gives out a loud yelp and nearly falls over backward from the surprise. He is staring straight up, towards the ceiling, unaware of the fact he is shivering visibly, his mouth open.

"Something's up there." It's almost a whisper.


OOC- Historian loves you and cares!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Avayar View Post
- Ruling Request: Historian would contribute +3 to anyone using Investigation that was nearby that heard it, I believe? I'm just not sure if it'd apply to the full time, one roll, and so on, which is why I bring it up...?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cipher View Post
Ruling Request on Historian: Sure, that makes sense to me +3 to anyone listening and using a relevant skill.
- Casting detect magic via Arcanist.
- Perception did a thing.



 
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Old 12-30-2017, 06:19 PM
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Gemmell
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The rope slipped from his hand and he took another step forward without the lifeline. He was still fifteen feet from the end of the wooden structure but the salvaged wood gave no sign of breaking. He looked down into the abyss of the chasm; only fog below like being on top of the world. The roar of the cascade to his right was the only thing to place him where he was.

Gemmell closed his eyes.

A tremor took over his body then. If someone had been close enough to see, they would perhaps mistake it for panicked fear. His head was bowed as if still looking at the planks at his feet. His shoulders shook ever so slightly.

He was laughing.

With five bold strides and eyes still closed, he planted his feet near the edge of the rail-less structure. Two large ship cleats were bolted into the wood near the end. Somehow, his feet had missed them avoiding a tumble and a long, silent descent to oblivion. He breathed in and looked forward, opening his eyes. Now he did almost stumble. The dizzying height flipped his stomach. He could see the towering height of the far side and the wind somehow felt like it was buffeting him off the perch. But he breathed again and steadied himself. Somewhere, twenty or thirty miles across the black plateau and down another gorge, Elara sat listening to the Spires. "I know now, Elara," he said into the empty expanse. "Have you figured it out too?"

He closed his eyes and put his head down again. Spinning on his heels, he took a step back to the safety of the land. Now he looked back at the cliff side. It took him a while to see it - the purpose of this gangplank to nowhere. The rock looked much like the inlet they had left, spotted with lichen and moss but little else. But there, off to the right and left, a different plant grew. It was purple and nearly blended into the dark stone it perched on. But here and there were clumps of it, lush and leafy, growing in the mist of the falls. There was a conspicuous absence of them around the rock directly below the scaffold. Food. He strode back to the small building, gathering his rope again as he made it inside.

The little building was a mushroom farm though it had been stripped of every last visible fungus. A harness of sorts hung in disrepair on the wall leading out to the plank. On the ground were rotten logs and boxes of humus. Gemmell stopped to collect some of the dirt. He stuffed the earth and small shards of wood fiber in a few of his newly acquired pouches and made his way back outside.

He entered the longhouse through the door and saw people in various states of investigation and discussion. He quirked an eyebrow as he heard Aendal rattling off some information to Darrien. It was odd to hear the man's voice utter words so clearly.

Gemmell made his way around to examine the artifacts left behind. Among a wooden statue of Heran and clumsy jewelry, a scrimshaw carved in a bit of whale bone gave the immediate clue. An amateur but still artistic carving of a three-masted square rigger was labeled with the words The Dalliance. One of Aspard's ships.

He spent some time poking around in the crevasses of the crude structure. Around and around he went until finally he stood and walked over to Darrien. He tossed something strange to him. It was curled and reptilian but when it was brought into the light it looked like piece of chicken foot. "What do you make of that? They are all over the longhouse stuffed in the holes everywhere." It was clear that Gemmell had no theory on that curiosity. "Aspard's men were the ones who built this for sure..."

He didn't complete his thought as Aendal fell to the floor and he followed the Diviner's eyes to the ceiling. He heard it too. Muted, but heavy in the air outside. "We need to get them inside." His voice was cold as ice.


 
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Old 01-01-2018, 07:54 PM
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Inside the Longhouse
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Cautiously, Lilain followed the others into the longhouse. Stepping inside lessened the damp, oppressive feeling of the fog, but it was replaced by the sensation of ‘ghosts’ or residual energy. She had not felt chilled outside but she did now. The New World was turning into a surprisingly difficult place for the young sorceress. She had expected more and less contents inside the building and found herself disappointed at the slim furnishings. There would more things here if they left in a hurry and there would be less if this place had been abandoned or sacked ages ago, she mused heading into the general center of the building by the mound of earth and stone.

The others began to disperse to begin their own investigations of the longhouse in their own fashions. Seeing as no one was going to bother her, the elf closed her eyes and cradled her staff in the crook of her elbow. She raised her hands to chest height, holding them close enough together that her thumbs and index fingers created a triangle. She began to recite, in a very soft elvish voice the words to her magic.

Concentration furrowed her otherwise, smooth face. This was the first spell she had cast since landing in the New World and was finding more difficult than she had imagined to call upon the arcane. It took a few minutes but eventually she felt the energy agree to her request and begin to concentrate around her.

Opening her eyes, Lilain was surprised and frustrated at what she now saw inside the longhouse that had been invisible to her before. There was indeed magic in this world but not how she had ever seen it. The longhouse was not as empty as it first appeared when walked in a few minutes prior. Hanging in the air, as if waiting for a breeze, were a few hundred shimmering, colored threads no thicker than a strand of spider silk.

The threads hung vertically, their colors brightening and dimming on their own. They were every color of the spectrum; white, to red and pinks, gold to green and pale blues to darkest purple. To Lilain they looked like they belonged to a tapestry; one not yet woven together or one that had been torn asunder. She could not tell as the threads did not give her enough information. There were too few of them and being the first time seeing them she could not interpret if they were bits of young magic needing guidance or old magic preparing to fade away into the void.

The threads of arcane energy were so different from the arcane energy of the Old World. She had seen orbs, and misty clouds and auras of all colors and shapes. But these were so different; so fragile but also unyielding in their manner. She at least could conclude that much from the prolonged time it took to cast such a simple spell.

She was euphoric that should see the threads of magic here just like the energies at home but irritated that she could not read them. It was a new language. The magic threads could not tell her what school they belonged to as she could not understand them. Perhaps if she touched one; felt its energy and held it in her hand she could begin to learn. Begin to read the magic and understand why it was so difficult. Where did it come from if it did not come from the same place as the Old Magic.

Having spent well over a hundred years(she knew more study was needed) learning the Arcana Lilain was familiar enough with it to know the old stories, legends, myths and origins. Of the stories she knew none seemed to go back far enough to explain how the first mages and gods harnessed the magic energies. Magic was always controlled by someone or some rules. Here there did not seem to be any rules, none yet or ones she did not know.

A plum colored thread had drifted within reach of the sorceress. She slowly began to extend an open hand towards; hoping that she would not disturb the air enough to make it drift out of her grasp. ‘Spoken in Sylvan. What she usually speaks to things of arcane nature.Come. I mean you no harm. I am a friend, I know what you are.’ She whispered praying and hoping the thread would just slide into her fingers.
The startling noise of a chair being turned over, made the elf sorceress jump and spin on her heal. Staff grasped in hand ready to swing or focus her arcane energy. Aendal was behind her a few paces away, visibly shaken by something. One of the crude wooden chairs was on its side next to him. Everyone had been rather quiet as they went about their business. Lilain looked up, the threads were gone, but something was outside, above the house.

Maybe it was just her keen elf senses or a bit of the lingering magic of the threads, but she had a strong inkling that something was in the air. Whatever that was hiding in the fog was large. Did anyone besides Aendal feel what was outside.

Her questions for the other arcana users would have to wait for a better time, and place. Had any of them ever seen or experienced the threads here?



 


 

 
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Old 01-04-2018, 07:27 PM
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What fled before that which comes after
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Reza entered the longhouse behind Roland and Seth. The gray man stood near the entryway, leaning on his staff, and looked around the room. Embers in the hearth still glowed dimly with the heat of a fire which had likely burned throughout the night and possibly well into the morning. Dust and dirt on the floor betrayed the hurried manner in which the occupants had left the building. The patterns also showed that much of the supplies currently missing from the longhouse had been dragged out in a rush. A few wet patches indicated spots where water from jugs had been spilled. What was left were what couldn’t be carried in the hasty evacuation. He knelt in one spot in particular where the dirt seemed to indicate at least half a dozen blankets had been dragged off of the nearby bunks.

Reza followed the tracks outside and into the fog. The music had seemingly grown louder and the fog thicker while he was inside. Perhaps it was merely a trick of the mind, but the hair on the back of Reza's neck stood none the less. The man grew increasingly uneasy. Something was very wrong. The back of the house contained a pasture which, if his cursory glance was accurate, had housed a few dozen goats, sheep, and chickens. The tracks from the longhouse had mingled chaotically with those of the animals, but the path they had taken was clear and faded off into the fog. He walked a few steps and studied the tracks. Their pace had been quick, even burdened with all of their supplies and herding the animals. Reza did not like the thought that these people had fled something within mere hours before their arrival. Something whose tracks Reza had not identified.

He turned to return to the longhouse when a sound broke through the music, slicing through the fog like a knife. Reza’s head whipped to face the sound, and his back straightened from his normally hunched posture. His hand gripped the staff a little tighter, and his eyes sought the source of the sound, still obscured by the fog.
On a Raven’s Wing
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Korvus flew slowly along the coast. The fog was thick, and the raven navigated less by sight and more by the sound of the waves crashing on the beach. The fog had already delayed him greatly, and by the time he reached the husk of the beached vessel north of the inlet, his master was already gone. Korvus landed in the remnants of the camp and hopped about, looking for signs as to where his master might have gone. The bird made slow circles about the camp, slowly increasing the diameter of his search pattern. The thick fog made it difficult for the sharp-eyed bird to locate what he was searching for, but eventually, he did stumble upon the single black feather stuck into the sand, pointing the direction in which Reza had traveled upon departing the camp. It pointed inland, towards the cliffs.

Korvus followed the path that the humans had taken earlier that day. Upon reaching the cliff side, the raven made up most of the time it had lost due to the thick fog. Even at a slow, lazy pace, the bird was able to fly up the cliff trail at a pace far quicker than the humans had. It crested the cliff top and came to a rest at the second campsite. There was no need for Korvus to repeat his search, as the humans had left a clear enough trail to follow. He would catch up to his master within the hour.

Reza heard the flapping of Korvus' wings before he spied the raven. While no emotion touched the man's face, his shoulders seemed to relax slightly from an unseen tension.

Korvus landed on Reza's staff, perching on the wooden raven carved into the top. From the bird's neck hung the vial necklace which had been one of the more useful creations made by anyone in the new world thus far. Reza reached up and retrieved the vial as Korvus let out a caw. The gray man cocked his eye at the black bird as if to silence the beast while he uncorked the vial. His note was still in the vial, but with an addition which gave Reza pause. A dried smear of blood covered his words.

As he ran a thumb over the dried blood, an image flooded Reza's mind. The crowd of colonists gathered at the cascades, three large gray shapes noticeable amongst the group. Fog spilled over the edges of the cliffs and began engulfing the encampment. As the fog began to swallow the colonists, Elara stepped forward and spread her hands out to Reza with bloody palms up. Her expression was grim, and her face was the last thing Reza saw before it too was swallowed by the fog.

Reza shook his head and blinked. The fog was still there, but now he could see the longhouse. The vision had ended, but Elara's face remained a ghost in his mind which faded slowly. Reza took stock of where he was, the vision having completely disoriented him. He loosened his grip on his staff, noting that his knuckles had gone a stark white. Korvus hopped from the staff to Reza's shoulder as he shook his head one more time trying to shake off the ill feeling that had built up since arriving at the longhouse. He took a final glance at the tracks before resolving to return inside and turned towards the door.

Reza's hand froze as he lifted it to pull open the door, and he cocked his head slightly. The fog seemed to shift. Something was in the air. The hair on the back of his neck stood and his ear stiffened slightly. More than one something. His mind flashed to the tracks he had been studying the past few minutes, the haste with which this structure had been abandoned. They were not alone and Aspard's crew had survived long enough in this world that Reza did not question whether the longhouse would be a sufficient shelter, but they had no other option.

He threw the door open, stepped through, and slammed it shut in one smooth motion. "We are not alone!" he cried out in a strong voice.
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