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Old February 4, 2008, 08:04 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Arguing Their Way to Herozzal [Private - Philyra, Hoskuld]

Brightening 24 of Aperitus
Era II of the Celestine Mandate
Era XIV Post Fractum
”Blessed and Bloody Bollocks!” Matthes growled, spitting to the side. ”Gimme that back, girl, or so help me –“

”We can’t afford the extra weight, Matthes! And we’ve already packed enough food for two cycles, which, frankly, is 19 brightenings longer than I’d like to be down there!” Ethilde replied with a scowl, waving the extra jerky around. ”We need to fit more rope and a wound kit, we can’t-“

”Then I’ll damn well carry it, Falconeye,” he said, snatching for it and missing. ”Can’t just take it - it’s mine!”

This had been going on for at least 10 minutes. Before that, it had been an argument over whether two pickaxes or one pickaxe and one regular hatchet would be easier to bring, and before that it had been who would walk in front of the group and who would walk in back. All told, it had been a good hour of arguments over one thing or another, and subsequently the gear had been spread around rather than packed.

They were waiting on the open grassy area behind the Ranger Hall. Ethilde Falconeye was a slender, stern-faced half elf. Her companion, Matthes Aleander was an angry, cantankerous old man with grizzled hair and, apparently, an incredible need for jerky. Separately, they were competent, useful rangers with similar yet different skill sets and radically opposed ways of going about their work. Together? They were a disaster.

OOC: This thread is closed for all but Hoskuld and Philyra.
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Old February 5, 2008, 04:04 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Philyra had shuddered when she had heard the noice started off in the distants. Either was fine by themselves and could even be enjoyable, but gods together. Falconeye and her shared the commonality of being half elven, and the redhead had always hoped that they could become more of friends, it wasn't often and less so in a city the size of Acumin to find another half elf.

Matthes had always seemed a little essentric. The young woman had listened to the stories of Matthes about being a ranger and much to her mothers dismay. He was about the only elderly man she talked with since she tended to avoid elderly men since they always felt that they had to comment on her beauty, her hair, or pinch her rear.

She walked into the mayhem wondering what was going on. Her water pouch hung around her belt and her cheap knife was secure on her belt, and the food in a backpack that was slung across her back. Her hair had been bound into a pony tail and lay over her shoulder resting on her chest now.

She walked into the clearing and blinked. The rangers weren't the imperial military, but still this was taking free form disipline a little far. "Falconeye, Matthes I am here." Her grey eyes were amused and exasperated at the same time. "Lets see are we expecting anyone else?" She said taking in all the supplies that were spread around to see what she thought was and wasn't needed.
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Old February 5, 2008, 03:06 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Although he didn't admit it, Hoskuld *did* ask where the Ranger Hall was before setting out to find it. As it turned out, a simple "Follow the caterwauling" would have gotten him there just fine. Somebody was raising quite a ruckus; it apparently involved jerky.

"Carmelya's glowing green tits!" he exclaimed as he entered the yard and saw the others there. He felt a deep satisfaction as he surveyed the scene with the human and two half-elves; he'd been waiting five brightenings for a chance to use that interjection since he'd heard the Aedile say it. "I thought you Rangers were supposed to do things quietly?! Maybe you should talk a bit louder: I'm not sure they heard you in Herozzal."

Carmelya's glowing green tits, it felt good to say stuff like that! As he looked at the unpacked gear, his mind secretly went over his own stuff. He didn't have much, and seeing all the jerky, rope, carabiners, jerky, weapons, torches, and jerky made Hoskuld feel woefully underprepared. Scratching his beard, which was a noticeably darker shade than the hair on his head, the dwarf's manner became a bit more thoughtful and serious. "Erm...I didn't get a packing list or nuthin' so I only have the basic stuff I brought with me from Primus Gaudeo. Is there anything I should get? Or anything I can help you guys carry?"

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Old February 6, 2008, 05:03 PM   #4 (permalink)
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”Phillie, my love!” Matthes crooned upon seeing her, blue eyes lighting up. ”Rat’s testicles but I’m please ta see you.” He pulled her under an arm. It smelled a little like armpit and wood stove smoke. Overall? Unpleasant. ”Would you tell this lunatic here an old man needs his Jerkey?”

Ethilde looked like she was halfway between killing herself, and killing him. This was a rather unattractive look on her, complete with wrinkled nose and snarling lip. ”Vendui, Philyra,” she managed with an even voice. ”We are indeed expecting someone- I believe that is him, over there.” She pointed to the dwarf as he approached, and her face went even more exasperated as he opened his mouth to speak.

”Carmelya’s glowing - that’s a good one,” Matthes commented under his breath, which smelled oddly of fish.

”You must be Hoskuld,” Ethilde said politely, looking like she was one lucky blood clot away from giving herself an aneurism. ”We will, indeed, be separating gear, including sleeping and climbing equipment. What have you brought with you?”
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Old February 6, 2008, 06:37 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Ah, wonderful, so everybody here knew one another except Hoskuld, and a merry crew it was, too. The human named Matthes seemed like a nice enough sort, even if he smelled a bit funny. And then there were the two elves, both female. They probably were only half-elves, but Hoskuld wasn't good with fractions, so he rounded up. The one looked like she was about to explode, and the other, a red-head, would probably go off without much provocation, too.

Heh. Could be useful in a caving expedition, after all. Stick Ethilde in a pile of rocks blocking your way and tell her we shoulda packed more jerky... BOOM! Tunnel cleared. Exploding elves...exploselves!

Of course, if it were just him and Matthes he'd be saying all this aloud -Carmelya's glowing etcetera, he wasn't actually saying any of this aloud was he? He reached up pretending to scratch his beard thoughtfully, but he was really making sure his mouth wasn't moving. No, he wasn't musing aloud, just looking at the blonde elf imagining her many potential uses in mining operations.

With a jolt, he suddenly realized that she was looking at him, too, and that she had just asked him a question. "Oh! What have I brought with me?" he repeated unhelpfully, then he unslung his satchel from his back and started rummaging through it.

The first thing he produced was a folded up piece of parchment bearing the Primus Gaudeo aedile's seal. With a frown, he realized it was his visa. "Well, I got some documents, but I don't know how handy they'll be on our trip," he muttered, avoiding Ethilde's eyes as continued to rummage through his things, partly out of embarrassment, and partly to avoid getting distracted with images of her blasting open new mine passages.


"Here's some money, a dagger -cheap thing, too-, a skin of water, enough food to last five brightenings- including some jerky, though not much....hmmm change of clothes, a warm cloak..."

That was about it. He had gone through pretty much all of his gear, but he paused and wrinkled his brow as he recalled one last item. He had no idea what it was, but his parents had given it to him for some reason, and he had tried to sell it back in Primus Gaudeo and hadn't been able to get anything for it.

And so it was that Hoskuld Coal-beard came to Acumin carrying what looked like a roughly finger-shaped and -sized grey stone tied to the end of a piece of string. His mother had said it would help him on his journeys somehow, but had never explained how. Seeing that the Rangers were looking at it curiously, and wishing to avoid having to admit that he had no idea what the feth it was, the dwarf quickly started to put the object away. "It's a personal item," he said cryptically.
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Old February 6, 2008, 07:44 PM   #6 (permalink)
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The young woman wondered if their wasn't a doctrine under the mother goddess against these kinds of smells. She smiled up at the elderly man. He was always kind, at least to her, but she was trying to keep from tearing at the eyes from his smell. She was always suprised at how bad humans could smell, and she had been around nature.

She looked at Falconeye and gave her a look that spoke of sympathy. "Vendui, Ethilde" She then kissed Matthes on the cheek and escaped from the smell. She looked along the ground to see what had been gathered for this adventure.

Her grey eyes took in what was on the ground as she listened to the dwarf. She secretly cursed him for the swear word. She was sure that at some point it would enter her own vocabulary. She had always been up to date on the latest swear words, something her mother had alway rolled her eyes at her and comment something about being her fathers daughter. She stepped over to Ethilde. "So what have we desided to take, and what is still in debate? Besides the Jerky." She said with a wave indicating that she knew that issue.
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Old February 7, 2008, 04:08 PM   #7 (permalink)
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”Jerkey, eh?” Matthes said, visibly brightening. ”Brother! See, Ethilde? Some folks got taste.”

”It’s about the weight,” she replied. ”We have quite a lot of other gear to carry. Ropes, bolts, food, light sources, blankets,” she said, sorting through the items strewn about her feet, ”not to mention weapons. Philyra, you have your bow, yes? I can’t guarantee it will be useful below ground but,” she shrugged, ”better than nothing. Hoskuld, take this.” She pulled a long, wickedly curved knife from the pile and a scabbard for it. It was about 2 feet in length and an inch wide, and though it gleamed fairly well in the light, the occasional nick in the surface proved that it was not, perhaps, the best of weapons.

”Each of you should take a rope and a, um,” she held up a small, circular metal device. ”A… kareebynder. Or whatever this thing is called. Anyway, take four of those, and four of the bolts, and this thing here,” she said, holding up a strange metal device about the size of her fist. ”We’re not really equipped to do any heavy exploration, and if the going gets too steep we won’t be able to make it too far, but it’s better to be over than under prepared.”

”Which is why I want more jerky, woman!”

Ethilde ignored him and continued to hand out items. ”Canteen, rations, blanket, and – oh! Backpacks.” The packs were leather and old, cracking around the straps. ”I believe that’s it?” The items sort of fit into the bags, but the weight of it was intense, especially if they were going to be crawling around all brightening… or longer.
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Old February 7, 2008, 07:08 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Philyra nodded a showed her bow. It was currently unstrung to keep its pressure intact. Philyra hand the string stored in her pocket and the quicver of arrows on her back. She smiled at the mention of the bow. It was a monument to her. She had lived within the village for many era's she still remembered the time before the pocks and before the fractrum. It wasn't so very long ago in reality. She remembered the attacks, and above all that fatefull night when Acumin had been saved only by the grace and love of Carmelya. She had wanted to even before then learn to protect herself and afterwards it had become more then a dream it had become her goal.

So she smiled and held the bow, for it sympolized her recent achievement as a ranger and begining to learn how to defeand herslef.

She listened and nodded agreeing with most of what was said. She lifted the backpack and blinked for a moment but that was the only sign she gave for the weight. Philyra wasn't weak or strong, she was a girl from a farming village, but still it would be heavey to carry but that was to be expected. "That makes sense." she said with a slow blink. "We don't want to much weight for the carry or even the backpacks." She said looking at it. She was sure it would hold out longer then herself, but Matthes was made of old nails, and most likely would outlast the suns. Well he has outlasted one she thought to herself.

"Also which direction do we plan to head out in?" She asked trying to get her bearings and think of the terrain they would be covering.
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Old February 7, 2008, 07:58 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Hoskuld returned Matthes' grin. The human seemed like a regular guy. The dwarf looked forward to when it was just the guys and he could tell him about his exploselves idea. But that would have to wait for when the two elves were off picking flowers or something. Right now the blonde was saying something to him.

He chuckled a bit when Ethilde struggled with the word 'carabiners'. She gave him a crappy knife, although he knew he shouldn't complain, since it was not only better than nothing as she had said, but also better than the one he had. He grunted his appreciation as he took the weapon and looked at it. Only humans would make crap like this: no dwarf would make something so shoddy, and no elf would make something so ugly. He hoped his life would never depend on it. Nonetheless, he nodded to the blonde and stuck the thing in his belt.

The other elf, the redhead, got a nice bow. Elves always gave each other the good stuff. And they were both women so they had the sisterhood thing going, too. The Incredible Exploding Elf Sisters. Hoskuld realized he hadn't greeted "Phillie" yet, so he looked over at her and gave her a nod, curt but not uncivil, at least not by dwarf standards.

Turning his attention back to Ethilde, he listened and watched as she went through the rest of their equipment list, including an odd metal object of uncertain use. It was probably a personal item like his. He wondered if she'd ever tried to get anything for it; it at least looked more interesting than his rock-on-a-string.

He hefted one of the backpacks. They were heavy, but if there was one thing Hoskuld didn't mind doing, it was carrying a load. "Load me up," he said, looking at the two -no, three Rangers. "I'm up for it."

His ears perked up at Phillie's question. Which direction *were* they headed in? Hoskuld had a keen sense of direction. It usually didn't help him much, since he rarely bothered to learn the locations of where he was going before heading out, but he at least didn't get disoriented, and was almost always able to find his way back to where he'd started, even when others got lost.
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Old February 9, 2008, 07:17 PM   #10 (permalink)
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”We’re heading northeast of here,” Ethilde said, pushing another carabineer into her bag. ”I found an entrance to a tunnel there. It looks relatively stable, but I didn’t explore much more than a few feet into it. Hoskuld, what sort of experience do you have? I have some training in the longbow, much like Philyra here, and am decent at tracking and stealth. Tavers has given both Matthes and myself some training in underground exploration, and Matthes is skilled in the Crossbow. Philyra, you haven’t taken Tavers’ course yet, have you?”

Behind her, Matthes snuck the extra jerkey into his bag, the rustling and low gleeful cackling not disturbing Ethilde from her train of thought.
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Old February 10, 2008, 01:58 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Hoskuld grinned when Ethilde asked about his experience. The dwarf hadn't really answered the Aedile meaningfully when Latherin had asked him the same question. Thinking of that interview caused the phrase Carmelya's glowing green tits! to cross his mind once more, causing him to grin even bigger. That one never got old.

But he could see that he needed to be serious now and actually answer the question. And answer he did. "I know a thing or two about caving," he declared solemnly, looking mainly at the blonde. "The mines where my pop an' older brothers worked were my playground. They always assumed I'd end up workin' there, too, so I got *some* kinda formal training, but not much.

"I know what it's like down there, what the common dangers are that surface folk like you don't think about, and how to spot 'em and avoid 'em; I might give you some idea of how stable that tunnel you found really is."
Miners obsessed about the safety and stability of shafts and tunnels and chambers. Even without much formal training, it would have practically impossible for Hoskuld *not* to have learned a little about it, at least more than a tree-hugging elf was liable to know.

" I can keep track of direction and distance down there as good as you can, I reckon, maybe better." Hoskuld scratched his scruffy black beard, thinking a moment and looking appraisingly at the three rangers who were to be his fellow cavers. "Definitely better," he amended matter-of-factly. "I can use a rope to rappel or ascend, I know my knots, and I can fashion the slings and ascenders to hook me up to said rope."

The dwarf suddenly frowned a bit as he realized something: since they were exploring caves not frequented by miners working them, there wouldn't already be ropes rigged up. That could be important. "Never had to rig up a climbin' or rappelling rope myself, though, so I don't know if I could do that on my own. I just always hooked up my slings to ropes the miners had already set up." He thought some more. "Never had to belay, either, but I've at least seen it done and had it explained to me, so I could probably do it if I had to."

Hoskuld thought a bit more. What did he need to tell them? "Not much for climbing a rock-face. I know the basics but it's not my strong suit. Not something I've done much, and something I hope not to have to do too much." The dwarf suppressed a shudder. These tall, long-fingered elves could probably climb a rock-face better than him, if they had any training at all. But he wasn't about to *admit* that.

He surveyed the equipment. "If this Tavers guy you mentioned taught you right, you probably already know what to bring. What I see looks good, I guess, but I could always give it a once-over if you like." He shrugged. "I wouldn't mind meeting this Tavers fella some time. Maybe he can teach me something, and maybe I could teach him something."
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Old February 11, 2008, 05:33 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Ethilde’s face went from constipated irritation to curiosity to obvious relief as Hoskuld kept on talking. ”That’s good,” she said warmly when he was finished, her face nearly 10 eras younger without the scowl. ”Well, perhaps I ought to give you both an intro to the gri-gri then, while we’ve still daylight. Oh!” Her hand flew to her mouth. ”Oh piss in a pipe, I almost forgot the torches! That would have been a disaster! Here,” she said, handing both of them a torch and a piece of flint and steel.

”What was I saying? Oh, right,” she shook her head and pulled out the gri-gri, the small metal device she’d given each of them. The rope was mostly sticking out of her bag and so she pulled on one of the ropes. ”So, you attach this to yourself, right, onto your harness, and then thread the rope through like so…” The gri-gri opened on the side, leaving a convenient path for the rope to go through. ”Make sure the climbing end is on your side, and the tail end is away from you. You take up slack by pulling on the tail end, and the rope won’t slip through unless you lift this lever here.”

”Easy,” Matthes said with a grunt. ”Prolly won’t have ta use it though, considerin’ we’re explorin’ the ‘easy’ tunnel.”

And just like that, the annoyed look was back on Ethilde’s face. ”Better safe than sorry, Matthes. Anyways, that ought to be it. The rest we’ll come across when we get to it. Let’s head off then.”

In order to get to the tunnel entrance, they had to go through the shield, which, with Ethilde pulling on Hoskuld’s arm, didn’t take nearly as long as it had before. After that, it was another 10 minutes hike on the wagon ruts that made up the old road, and then another hour hiking out in the woods. Matthes kept up a steady commentary for the duration – something on wagon wheels and the excess cost of awning material.

Finally Ethilde held up a hand. ”Here,” she said, and stepped up to a boulder. ”Here, give me a hand, we tried to block this in a while ago.” Matthes grumbled and put his bag down before giving her a hand pushing. The boulder gave way beneath the four of them, rolling to the side with a grumble and creak. The air that rushed out after it was stale and moldy, forcing Ethilde and Philyra into a coughing fit.

The tunnel was extremely dark and rather small, enough so that everyone save Hoskuld was probably going to have to duck their head. ”Well, Hoskuld? I think you actually know more about this than we do,” Ethilde said in between coughing fits. ”Why don’t you go and take a look?”

OOC: seems pretty accurate, Hoskuld
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Old February 11, 2008, 07:18 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Philyra looked back and forth between the two dwarf and the half elf as they discussed cave exploring. She hadn't ever actually entered a cave before haveing been to your for earlier expeditions.

She through her pack on her back and followed behind her guids. She remained silents waiting to see what happened.
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Old February 11, 2008, 08:20 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Piss in a pipe Hehe. Hoskuld was going to have to start writing these down. But even cooler than his new oath was the new gadget the blonde showed them. A "gri-gri". Sounded like a stupid elf pet name or something, but the device was nifty. As the dwarf experimented with the gadget, getting a feel for how it moved up a rope, he sang its praises in the most extravagant of terms: "Neat", he grunted approvingly.

The torches would be important underground, even for a dwarf, so Hoskuld would dummy-cord his, along with his weapon, as soon as he got the opportunity. No Daelagian, he could probably see just well enough in the dark to pick it up if he dropped it, but things would be a lot easier if he just didn't drop it, especially into a pool of water, or while dangling from a rope in a pitch.

He nodded curtly when Ethilde suggested they be off, and he was very thankful to find out that he could cross the barrier more easily with her help. He was not looking forward to a repeat of a few brightenings ago. Piss in a pipe, what a nuisance!

Once outside the barrier, it was a bit more than a candlemark's trip, partly up the road, and then veering a bit east off the road, until they came to a rock outcropping. Matthes and Ethilde started pushing on one of the rocks, and Hoskuld realized, reproaching himself for not catching it earlier as he did so, that the rock covered an entrance to a tunnel of some sort. "You shoulda told me what you were doing;" he said to the two as the rock moved, "I coulda helped push." Some humans thought dwarves were super-strong, which they weren't, but they were quite strong for their size, and their very stature gave them good leverage for pushing things.

Hoskuld smirked a bit as the two expoself sisters teared up and coughed from the cave air. If Ethilde thought she was coughing now, wait until she lit up a torch in a damp, stale tunnel. Smoke galore. Hopefully these "stealthy" rangers wouldn't give their position away to the vysstichi before they even got their bearings underground. He realized as "Phillie" started coughing that the red-head had been quiet until now, something that surprised him. Maybe she wasn't as short-fused as she looked, or maybe she was overcompensating. Remained to be seen.

Gratified that the elf actually asked him what he thought, Hoskuld carefully approached the mouth of the tunnel. "Happy to," he grunted. The air from the cave told him a bit already. Mold. That meant water. There was almost always water in underground openings, sometimes an inconvenient amount of it. Miners spent almost as much time pumping water out of their shafts as they did digging for ore. Even a normal rainfall on the surface could mean a dangerous flood underground. Automatically, the dwarf looked up to the sky. He was no reader of weather, though. "Best hope it doesn't rain too much while we're down there," he observed. "At least not until we figure out how this cave drains."

With that remark, he began looking at the cave entrance, checking the walls for soundness, for signs of seepage, for critters, for unstable things like stalactites that might break off and fall on their heads, for indications of artifice, and as much as anything else just to figure out what kind of tunnel or cave this thing even was. He was no tracker, though. He'd leave finding footprints and vysstichi scat to the rangers.
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Old February 13, 2008, 09:56 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Matthe’s eyes followed his as he looked up. ”Don’t look like rain,” he commented. ”We don’t get much water even if it does rain – our summers are right dry here. Not like Portshire – you ever been there? Awful place. Smells like piss, and rains damn buckets.”

Ethilde rolled her eyes and pulled a small cloth out of her pack, along with her torch. She tied the thin red cloth over her nose and mouth, presumably to keep out dust (though she could have had a secret bandit fetish for all Hoskuld and Philyra knew), and lit the torch. The smoke was thick and tarry, and Hoskuld knew from experience that it burned the eyes and coated the skin.

The tunnel was small and cramped, and the walls were wet. There were the short beginnings of stalactites creeping from the roof, but the rest of the tunnel was strangely smooth. It was small enough that Ethilde had to duck as she led the way, just wide enough for them to kick out a leg in either direction. As they started to walk down further, the tunnel walls seemed to get rougher and darker in color, but the tunnel got no wider.

It did, however, get stinkier. The top smelled like mold, but as they continued to descend it smelled more and more like… corpse gas. There didn’t seem to be a definable source – it almost seemed to be coming from the walls, which looked soaked through with moisture. In fact, it seemed almost to be covered with a fine film of slime, a large drop of which fell on Philyra’s face.

It burned almost right away, forming a red mark and bubbling up where it touched her skin. It felt like it was eating her flesh, a quality of pain that Philyra hadn’t likely ever experienced in her life, and the pain was sharp and stabbing and strong.
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