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Old Jun 14th, 2010, 05:40 PM
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Shadows Lengthening

The workers have called off early again today. Seemingly with no discussion or planning involved, to a man they packed up their tools and came up out of the diggings and away from the ruins and into the camp. They're all back now, huddled around camp fires or lurking in their tents, even though the sun is still not quite touching the horizon. Normally, they'd just be starting to think about quitting at this point. But these aren't normal times. No one wants to be in the ruins at night. They aren't impressive ruins, the structure looks like the remains of a simple village, a small one at that. There's not even much left, foundations and a few walls, clay articles of daily use and a few rusted bits of metal. From the way everyone feels though, those humble, crumbling structures might well be a haunted castle complete with vampire legion, ghost brigade and thousands of bats.

It's hard to say exactly where the feeling comes from. The artifact being dug for, a beautiful flower-shaped ruby charm called the Pendant of Arashia, doesn't have a particularly dark reputation. While the abilities to craft exquisite illusions and charm anyone who hears your voice could certainly be misused, they aren't particularly dark in nature. Yet almost every man in the camp is convinced in his heart of hearts that there is something dark down there. It shows in the sidelong looks each man gives the other, the way everyone looks twice at even the most innocent of shadows and in how they huddle around the lights once the sun has set. Even Machedius the Eccentric, leader of the expedition and veteran of a hundred like it feels it, loudly as he denies doing so. Otherwise, he would be stalking through the tangled pathways between the worker's tents right now, demanding they get back to work. Instead, he retired to his own tent shortly after noon today and hasn't emerged since.

A tall man, almost skeletally thin and with an odd habit of looking at you as if peering at you over the tip of his long nose, Machedius is a wizard well known for unearthing odd magical items. He doesn't seem particularly interested in powerful baubles, it's the unusual that attracts him. Once he is attracted however, nothing will stop him from acquiring the item in question. Even over the course of this single dig, you've seen enough to make that clear. Two days ago, when some clumsy shovel work on the part of one of the workers destroyed part of an unearthed wall, Machedius really seemed almost ready to murder the poor fellow responsible. Possibly, if not restrained by a few of the guards that came in with the last shipment of food and tools, he might actually have done so.

Possibly, the tense, frightened atmosphere is the woman's fault. She's been seen flitting about the edges of the camp, a figure in a cloak the color of dusty shadows with long, messy white-blond hair. Only Machedius has seen her close to, but their discussions have been all too audible. Her piping voice followed by his bird-like squeak, arguing back and forth. Always, she is urging him to abandon the dig and threatening some grave consequences. Always, he is shouting back, swearing that he'll not be driven out by some...well, one may pick one's own insult. For such a scholarly man, Machedius' impolite vocabulary is extensive.

Surely, the woman's vague warnings, overheard by imaginative minds and combined with the isolation of the dig site, twenty miles from the nearest small town and perched on the edge of a cliff, are enough to account for the tension. Surely. Surely. That's what every man and woman there keeps telling themselves, anyway. Over and over.

OOC:There's the setup for you. As for you two, your characters are somehow involved in the expedition. Possibly as workers or guards, or an associate/apprentice of Machedius. Any reason you can evolve for being there is fine by me. You two share the same tent, since space is limited in the clifftop camp, but haven't really gotten to know each other beyond passing the time of day with the other man. Other than that, feel free to be as creative as you like with what you're doing there and why.
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Last edited by Ehlana; Jun 16th, 2010 at 08:11 PM.
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Old Jun 16th, 2010, 08:56 PM
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Sitting just inside of his tents open flap, Cazmir is thankful of the free time. Having just arrived a few days back, he was still trying to acclimate himself to the higher altitudes and thinner air, something he was unaccustomed to in his forest homeland. Looking around at the rest of the make shift tent city, he could almost see the tension in the air, everyone was jumping at their own shadows, looking over their shoulders with every other step and just generally acting scared out of their wits.

Not so with him though, he had learned long ago how to put his emotions and other feelings in check, and always 'tried' to approach each situation with a clear, calm head. His roommate, on the other hand, was a little more difficult to read, so far the Elf had seen no sign one way or other as to how he was dealing with all of the rumors, speculations, and 'ghost' stories. So he just continued to sit back, relax and take in the scenery, hoping to get a better feeling as to the cause of all of the upheaval, the stories of which being the main reason he signed on as a 'guard' for this particular dig site.
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Old Jun 18th, 2010, 10:50 AM
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Everyone was jumping at their own shadows. Everyone, that is, except Gregor. It seemed that the oppressive feeling of the dig site simply bounced off of the ever cheerful young man. Every time Gregor went about the site, talking to folks and generally making his presence known, people seemed to cheer up while he was near as if simply being in his vicinity helped lift their hearts. Gregor does have something of a large personality(It's been known to knock down walls), and it's been said that he never forgets a face.

Coming back to the tent after his morning rounds of the site Gregor sits next to Cazmir. "Good morning Cazmir!" he says cheerfully. Gregor's bright green eyes glitter with some secret amusement, and his short cropped black hair is unkempt but short enough to not look bad. The young man grabs a piece of bread off of their tent-side table and breaks it in half, handing part to Cazmir. "Lovely day so far today, don't you think?"
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Old Jun 20th, 2010, 11:58 PM
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"Good day to you as well Gregor, of coarse any day we get to walk off early is a good one."

Caz couldn't help but smile and laugh, there was something about the young man, something almost infectious about his good humor.

"Although I would dare say we two are the only ones who feel this way, the whole camp seems to be waiting for the very sky to fall. Oh well, let come what may I say, at least then everyone won't be jumping at merely their own shadows!"

Breaking into a fit of laughter again, the Elf reached out, grabbed the offered bread and nodded his thanks before passing his wineskin over to Gregor.
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 10:00 AM
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Gregor nods as he look around the camp. A quick swig off the wineskin and he turns back to Cazmir, "Yeah, I feel it too I just don't let it get to me." A strong hand passes the skin back to Caz and a shrug of broad shoulders preludes the next comment. "That's what I'm here for anyway, to keep the workers' spirits up. I guess old Machedius was maybe expecting some trouble." Gregor breaks off another hunk of bread with his teeth and chews thoughtfully while surveying the dig site.
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 04:05 PM
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"Yeah, in a round about way, that's why I'm here as well. I heard there was rumors of some dark tidings and well, that's kind of what I specialize in, truth be told. I guess maybe it was fortuitous that you and I were roomed together here, like minds all and that ... Anyhow, you look like a strapping young lad, perhaps if the rumors are true and the 'sky does fall' you may well just come in handy."

He surveyed the camp as he spoke, but he turned his attention fully on Gregor as he spoke the last, wanting to gauge the young mans reaction, and heart.
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 04:38 PM
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Gregor smiles and laughs fully when Cazmir attempts to gauge his worth in a tight spot. "I am capable of holding my own in a pinch. I can also lead men into battle and gird their hearts against the depredations of evil." Gregor stands up to his full height and turns to look back down at Cazmir. "You've no need to fear for me, for the song of Iomedae flows from my heart and past my lips, and there is no room for fear in me."
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 04:56 PM
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A smile as large as any living Elf had ever seen split Caz's face from ear to ear. This young human seemed to be cut from the same cloth as he himself had been. "No room for fear" was an expression he had used many times in the past when faced with insurmountable odds, or companions whose hearts just weren't in it.

"Just the words I wanted to hear from you young one, just the words indeed." He stood, not nearly matching the man in stature, but in heart, determination, and resolve, there could could be no clear winner. "Perhaps I was right, if there is indeed a darkness, an evil, here in this place, then you and I would be well suited to stick together and face it, shoulder to shoulder come what may!"
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 10:35 PM
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Where Gregor passes, he leaves good cheer and encouragement behind, but once he has passed the dark comes creeping back in. Conversations lag, voices falling silent and then suddenly bursting out sudden clatters of words before faltering again. Attracted by Gregor's good cheer and Cazmir's calm, a small group slowly forms around the fire next to their tent as the sun goes down. The three figures huddle close to the flames, even though the night is not yet that cold

Jovath, a muscular farm boy who will hopefully grow out of his tendency to pick fights to prove his manliness, is the first one to drift on over. Red-haired Tassa, who helps old Rizzan in the camp's small infirmary tent, arrives soon after. She tends to find herself wherever Jovath is, for some reason. Amir is the last, a slim dark man who doesn't look very dangerous but is none the less employed by Machedius as a guard.

"You guys ain't worried, huh?" Jovath ventures after a long silence, thrusting his head forward like an irritated bull. The firelight gleams off his eyes and teeth, staining both red.

"There's nothing to be worried about!" Tassa asserts boisterously, shifting uncomfortably, a soupcon of doubt in her words.

"Everyone's just worked up because of that fanatic." She adds in an irritated tone.

"Fanatics can be dangerous." Amir observes quietly, dark eyes worried but speaking with the assurance of one who should know. He's never made any secret of the fact that he comes from Rasha, a distant desert country afflicted by several cults of howling fanatics. He's never exactly said, but he's implied that falling afoul of one of these groups is the reason for his relocation.

"She's just one woman!" Jovath huffs, Tassa nodding in agreement.

"What do you think?" Amir appeals gravely to Cazmir and Gregor.
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 11:07 PM
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Gregor lets his infectious smile spread across his face, in the flickering light of the fire his features resemble a rictus instead of the grin he intends. "I think that you guys ought not worry so much. If Machedius felt that that woman was truly a threat then he would have done something. Instead of concentrating on this unknown person you three should focus more on your jobs, and if Machedius wishes something to be done he will tell us." The human looks at the faces surrounding the fire, taking in every nuance of their feelings and fears.
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Old Jun 21st, 2010, 11:24 PM
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Sitting back and letting the young man speak the words that he himself would not have said half as eloquently, Cazmir to tries to let his smile and calm demeanor flow out into those gathered.

"What my friend here says is true, if this woman was speaking true, then the old man would have alerted all of you to be more cautious, you all know how obsessed he is with this dig, do you think he would really let some credible threat endanger all of his time and money spent here?"
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Old Jun 22nd, 2010, 09:37 PM
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"Yeah." Tassa settles back comfortably, edging a little closer to Jovath. The farmboy turned digger nods.

"Yeah, old Machedius wouldn't let anything get in the way of finding that silly pendant." He agrees. Amir is the only one who says nothing, at least on that topic. He joins, in his reserved way, the ensuing conversations that ramble across the fire, complaints about the food, complaints about the work, approving comments on the pay scale. Machedius doesn't number stinginess among his vices. It's all very comfortable and normal and all three seem to find it heartening. They're reluctant to leave, but as the fire dies, first Tassa, then Jovath and lastly Amir make their excuses and head off to their own tents. The two men are left alone by their dwindling fire and their welcoming tent.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2010, 09:19 AM
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Gregor watches the last of the young people go with a warm smile on his face. Young people...they're not that much younger than I am, I need to remember that. The young man turns back to his new friend Cazmir and that smile slowly fades. "Perhaps I'll go have a talk with Machedius tomorrow. See if there's anything else that can be down to help lift morale." Gregor lifts the symbol of Iomedae from his chest and presses a kiss into it.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2010, 11:43 AM
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Hoping that they left feeling better than they had when they arrived, the Elf watched as one by one they made there way back to each of their respective tents.

"That may be for the best actually, he has to have been thinking on it, what with his whole crewing calling it quits well before late afternoon, and being huddled in their tents by early evening. Perhaps I'll go with you."
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Old Jun 23rd, 2010, 01:56 PM
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Gregor nods at Cazmir, "If two of the folks hired to keep the workers spirits up come to him with concerns he will be more likely to take us seriously." The holy warrior double checks the watch sheet before leaning into the tent to grab his great sword and an apple. With a few well practiced movements he straps the baldric that the large weapon sits in on his back, and seats the blade firmly into its moorings. "I'm on first watch tonight Cazmir, get some rest and I'll wake you when I come in." He walks away whistling quietly and tossing the apple up and down in his hand.

Gregor stops on his way to check in for watch at the corral, quietly calling his horse over to him. "Here Jericho, I got a treat for you." As his Paint horse comes cantering over Gregor breaks into a great smile to see his friend again. "Here you go buddy." he says as he hands the horse the apple. Gregor rubs his face along Jericho's muscled cheek as the horse loudly chews up the apple. Jericho snorts in contentment after swallowing the fruit, happy to get some attention. "You be a good boy, I have to go on watch but I'll stop by on my way back in." Gregor turns away from his oldest friend and cheerfully heads out into his watch routine.
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