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Old July 2, 2019, 05:52 PM   #16
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Faust Kitrye’veresi

Landing in the mountain passes was precarious, to say the least. It took a good amount of time and an equal amount of effort to search out a suitable place. Even then, it was only due to the experience between gryphon and rider built up over time that they were able to carefully maneuver between trees and rocky outcroppings toward what appeared to be the best option—a small patch where only grass and low-lying bush grew, not much larger than what would be comfortable for a man to lay to sleep.

There was nothing to greet the pair but the sounds of nature, from the chirp of crickets to the occasional breeze through the trees’ branches and the gentle sound of birds. Soon, even that quieted with the onset of the setting suns and the fall of darkness, all of which gave way to the subtle chorus of night. They were far enough away from the city that it had been completely enveloped by distance and shadow, leaving the only light that which came from the stars and their accompanying moons above.

Thus it was that Faust’s attention was gathered toward anything that stood out against the blackness. He could make out the shape of a great cave carved into the northern rockface a decent hike away that was large enough to create its own new darkness inside. There was a gentle babble of a creek that tickled his ears to the west. To the east he saw the small glimmer of flickering light that seemed to be close to the ground rather than coming from above. And to the south was another light, this one greater and more steady, that cast its beams against the ground.

Dalia

Provisions were an easy enough find in a town that thrived on commerce, even when it came to Dalia’s slightly more unique requests. Soon enough her packs were full again and her gloves were purchased. With it came the information she had sought too, as it was clear that many a shopkeeper was particularly talkative when one proved themselves to be a solid customer. They told her about the storms that often plagued the southern path and the snow that quite often covered the north, both with no regard to season or the climate down below. The eastern, they said, was much more pleasant and predictable, but even then the winds in the passes were known to knock an entire horse off its feet, let alone a man.

So then it was that the elf approached the foothills of the northern path, demarcated and noted by a sign that had been carved with the word “NORTH” and posted just above it. Without such it may have been hard to find; it was clearly little traveled or used and already the forest had begun to reclaim what had once been its own by covering it with brush and debris. Still, the outline was plain enough and became even plainer the higher she climbed as the foliage began to grow sparse.

There was nothing to greet Dalia but the sounds of nature, from the chirp of crickets to the occasional breeze through the trees’ branches and the gentle sound of birds. Soon, even that quieted with the onset of the setting suns and the fall of darkness, all of which gave way to the subtle chorus of night. Dalia was far enough away from the city that it had been completely enveloped by distance and shadow, leaving the only light that which came from the stars and their accompanying moons above.

Argon Shatterskin & Calanon

Inns were aplenty in the port town and ran the gamut of style and grace. Neither dwarf nor elf had any trouble finding accommodation that fit their personal style and, most importantly, their finances. The food was filling and the conversation was free and the pair were able to pick up a bit more information about their surroundings simply by paying attention to the swirl of talk around them, too—there was a storm brewing in the north, it sounded like, and the townsfolk were almost certain it’d soon snow and cut off passage for at least a cycle or more.

For Argon, his attempt at rumor-spreading had seemingly worked as the next morning the innkeeper flashed him a wink and said, “Good luck with keeping them fools safe from themselves.” The man even gave the dwarf a slight discount on his costs for the night before Argon left to meet up with his companion.

So then it was that the pair approached the foothills of the northern path, demarcated and noted by a sign that had been carved with the word “NORTH” and posted just above it. Without such it may have been hard to find; it was clearly little traveled or used and already the forest had begun to reclaim what had once been its own by covering it with brush and debris. Still, the outline was plain enough and became even plainer the higher they climbed as the foliage began to grow sparse.

By midday the pair had encountered nothing of true interest. There was a dull fire in their legs from the exertion and their breath was growing a bit more ragged as the air thinned. Their surroundings had chilled as well with their continual climb. Behind them only the slightest hint of the city could be seen, descended as it was into a toy-like miniature.

They could make out the shape of a great cave carved into the northern rockface a decent hike away and well off the main path that was large enough to create its own new darkness inside. There was recently-broken brush marking the way. To the west they could hear the gentle babble of a creek a good more than a stone’s throw away.

Secrets :
Faust Kitrye’veresi: Day 1, Hour 23

Dalia: Day 1, Hour 23

Argon Shatterskin & Calanon: Day 2, Hour 12

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Old July 2, 2019, 07:32 PM   #17
Argon Shatterskin
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AThe idea that snow was soon coming to the mountains made it a race against time. Could they travel the mountains in time to avoid the whether outside? He didn't know the town or the surrounds well but he trusted the folk who lived here enough with details of weather. He didn't know sailing but he also trusted sailors and those dependent on the ships to know a thing or two about the weather. Ships sunk dependent on storms and given they predicted a storm then this presented the first problem.

Argon was a seasoned traveller and had the clothes for wintering outside and the camping gear. He were more concerned about the steep climb and the pitfalls of exposure against a dangerous mountainside.

As he prepared to leave he bid farewell to the innkeep as well whk had offered well wishings for his faux-mission

"May Ioannes, might upon the throne of aetheria, save us all if fools win out this day" Argon offered truthfully meaning those that intended to stop him rather than those who to retrieve the lantern.

Still he was happy to know that people thought their mission was to thwart efforts at getting the lantern. Mayhap this will be a boon from unwitting 'allies' in the future who will help them reach the lantern first. The discount he received for his stay suggested it may yet happen.

Upon meeting Calanon at the pre ordained meeting point he exchanged knowledge and explained his actions to the elf as well as expanding upon small talk offered the night before.

"Serale or... verdui is it?" Argon greeted Calanon while willing to try and offer the elf a degree of politeness "The folk seem sure a storm is coming in hard with snow. If we commit to this path then there be no time to waste. I find a storm is great motivation for picking up the pace."

Argon made clear his intention to make haste on the travel as he indicated to the elf to follow and pick up the pace. For now the elf held the advantage with monger legs but on the mountainside that may count for naught.

"I should explain me actions last night" Argon said when a little out of town "The townsfolk believe in full our intent is to catch up to, and overtake, anyone on the mission to take the lantern so that we may save those fools from themselves. I suggest ye communicate the same to any who ask as in town it was clear there was great distrust of those going out upon these missions. That way we should not be thwarted by those seeking to stp our journey as the town knows our intent is to stop those in search of it"

Argon sincerely hoped that Calanon was bright enough to read into the context and realise the ruse as Argon was suspicious that despite his best laid rumours that someone didn't believe it and might be watching.

Argon continued this speech in the same vain to male sure Calanon were aware of these suspicions

"Ye never know, though, some may still be following us intent on slowin' us down" Argon said emphasising the but about being slowed down abd being followed "just in case that we actually are after the lantern to realise some kinda blasphemous divine prophesy and process that threatens tha Godly status quo or something bringing ruin to this town. I guess that is a fair concern for the folk here"

Regardless Argon would bring uo one other bit of smalltalk

"Chapsborg" Argon said after a period of silence some time during a more opportune part of the travel "I remember ye from Chapsborg. What a mess that was! I didn't mean ye before. The name of tha' other elf came to be late at night before sleep took me. 'Calednon'. His fanily name escapes me fer now but the poor boy said he had been orphaned. Had taken to the art of mysticism, was fastidious about notetaking and otherwise was a very eloquent and polite young boy with a face much the same as yours only younger he could very likely be yer brother!"

Argon seemed in great spirits throughout this trip despite the race against the storm threatening to ruin them.

Argon hadn't known about the possibility of the time troubles causing the kid to have reached an age he had in record time. If only he did then this conversation moght have gone very differently.

Argon was ready with his climbing gear to make use of it as required. He had faith in his strength as well but knew that eveb the most competent climber could slip. The climbing gear was there to help safeguard from mishaps. His intent to go North remained clear as they raced against the storm

"Well partner" Argon began an inquiry while indicating toward the cave "That way has broken brush. Someone went that way. Might be good for the storm. We could continue West as just because a cave is there doesn't mean a lantern is. The brooke would be a good place to stock up on fresh water, though. Perhaps a lantern was lost because it is at the bottom and casts no light. Which way tickles ye? Got any magical senses that could come in handy?"
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Old July 2, 2019, 07:58 PM   #18
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Snow would be a serious issue, but it didn't deter Dalia from her chosen route, although it did make her glance wander up to the sky more often than not as she walked. Storms in the mountains could come on quickly, she knew, especially once she got further up in elevation. She'd need to be careful and watch for signs of inclement weather.

Although the path was marked, it clearly wasn't in common use. The grey elf rather enjoyed herself as she climbed upward; it felt just so good to be back in a landscape that felt familiar after the past few years spent in the barren, flat, hot, and just plain strange plains of Lauryl. It felt like a homecoming, even if these weren't the mountains of Sherian that she'd grown up in, and Dalia revelled in it.

Her sense of ease in the landscape made her walk further than she might otherwise have done. Night was already falling - no, had fallen - by the time she paused and realized that the last lights of the port had faded away behind her. She was here with the crickets, and the night animals, and the wild vegetation. The elf turned about herself. The path was narrow, and now that it was dark she didn't want to leave it too far behind in finding a spot to bed down for the night. The path was too narrow and steep for even a grey elf to feel secure continuing the climb when everything was dark around her.

Dalia lifted her face to the breeze; the best thing would be to find a gap in the rock right by the path that was protected from the wind, which would doubtless prove to be quite chilly at night. Baring that, a copse of trees would do, or, at worst, she would simply bed down on the path itself: she didn't want to risk wandering off and not being able to find her way back, or stumbling and getting injured in the darkness. Anyway, her bedroll was good imperial quality, and she was used to sleeping in all kinds of conditions when out on patrol. It was too late to build a fire or cook properly, either; some of the dry food that she'd picked up in town would have to do for this evening.
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Old July 2, 2019, 09:20 PM   #19
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Seated on the grassy landing, his knees tucked against his chest and his back braced against the solid torso of the curled gryphon behind him, the Syl’rosyan elf waited patiently for the suns to begin their predictable descent. He was aware of the sounds around him, many of them similar to those heard elsewhere in the Empire, but his mind was in another place, pondering the mystery that was the lonely old man and his pursuit of the lantern. What was it? Why did he need it? Where was it?

The suns slowly descended, surrendering to the moon, the stars, and their shadowy throne. There was a certain solace to be found on the peaceful and now quiet mountainside, the sort that the elf might have enjoyed for several candlemarks on his own but for the pressing urgency of his quest. No sooner than the darkness descended did he rise to his feet, stirring his resting companion with the gentle rub of his eagle-like head.

From his vantage point, he scanned as far as his crimson eyes could see. His gaze landed on a number of interesting possibilities, from the mouth of a great cave to two separate sources of light in the east and in the south. The sound of rushing water in the distance also drew his attention westward. He was unsurprised that none of his observations paved a clear path for him to follow; indeed, had the road been evident, then the lonely old man would probably have retrieved the lantern for himself a long time ago.

The Syl’rosyan recalled that the villagers had spoken of three separate paths through the mountains: north, south, and east. The south, they had said, was the most traveled, and the east was apparently an easier trek with the exception of limited water availability. It was in both of these directions that he spotted lights. Other travelers, perhaps? A caravan intent on making a timely delivery? Light would be required under both circumstances. It was possible that he was entirely wrong, he knew, but a gut feeling drew his attention toward the massive cave in the rockface.

After mounting Sarnor, he enveloped both himself and his mount in a Force Shield. Even though both were accustomed to traveling by night, this was new terrain to them, and the disguised elf did not know what to expect at this hour in the mountains. And then they headed towards the cave – it seemed large enough for someone the size of the lonely old man to have hidden or lost something.
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Old July 3, 2019, 10:09 AM   #20
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The elf had stifled a grimace at the dwarf’s mangling of his native tongue,plastered a smile on his face to at least acknowledge the effort instead. “ Good day to you, master dwarf. I hope you rested well?”

The news that Argon brought of inclement weather was not much welcomed,and so Calanon was content to fall into step alongside the doughty fellow and begin their trek. It was no challenge to keep up with the stumpy legs of his companion, and one dark brow rose as the dwarf began to offer an explanation of his words the evening before.

There was a modicum of respect in the glance he settled upon Argon, and he gave a slow nod. “ Of course. We would not want anyone to think our interests lie in anything other than protecting the townsfolk from those motivated by less generous intentions”.

And when the dwarf mentioned Chapsborg, Calanon had the grace to be a little embarrassed that he had not instantly recognised the small fellow. He might have said as much, but Argon spoke on, and what he had to say was of far more interest to the elf, and he looked sharply at the dwarf. “Cal’ednon? You saw him?” He tried not to let his keenness bleed into his tone, but it was difficult to smother. As they walked Calanon took a breath and waited for his companion to expand upon what he said before he offered any kind of explanation of his own.

“He is my son” he said eventually. “ I had thought him lost in the Fog, along with the rest of our people but then I found out just recently that he had been seen...I have been trying to find him since.” It was the briefest glimpse of context, a glimpse that swept over the complications that beset the situation, but still, even if this whole endeavour proved fruitless,Calanon would judge it worth it for what he had just heard.

He wanted to pepper the dwarf with questions, ask how Cal’ed had been, what he was like now, but he swallowed them down, instead turning his attention to the path before them that rose steeply into the hills. Snow would be an unwelcome addition to the landscape he thought as the pair made their way up and away from the town.

The trail was steep , as had been promised, and Calanon could soon feel the strain of the climb, and the change in the air as they reached new heights. He was blowing slightly as he came to a halt, pausing to consider the options the dwarf outlined. It was true that it might not be a bad idea to find some shelter in case the weather did turn, but equally it would be foolish to ignore the promise of fresh water where they could get it.

“I say we go for water. It cannot be far for us to be able to hear it, and there are enough hours in the day to head on to the cave afterwards if we wish. If your legs are not too tired that is?” He called the last over his shoulder as he struck off in search of the water he could hear, amusement ringing clear in his voice.

Cheat Sheet Headed towards stream with intent to move on to cave afterwards if enough daylight
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Old July 3, 2019, 10:33 AM   #21
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"Very well" Argon said considering "the more we know of these steppes and passes the better. The more refreshed we are the better we shall travel"

Argon knew the elf was excited about any number of questions of his son "that he is your son means to me that ye must have it in yer mind to find him as soon as ye can. I sympathise. I be happy to talk of it as much as I know. Fer now lets check out the water or stream, resupply, check fer details of interest and head to the cave before ill weather threatens our safety"

The air had grown thin and cold. He longed for the safety of the mountain. Though given the likelihold that the cave had once already been entered, was it really safe? When time came Argon would be ready with axe and shield and later with axe and lantern to peer into the darkness if required.
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Old July 7, 2019, 12:43 AM   #22
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Argon Shatterskin & Calanon

Despite the locals’ warnings, the suns rose with all their usual brilliance and kept the ambient temperatures pleasant, albeit feeling a bit warmer than comfortable when the dwarf and elf started on their climb about the northern path. Their time was wanderers and adventurers had accustomed them to traveling by foot and the normal physical exertion, but candlemarks spent climbing on an incline, no matter how gentle, took a toll on even the most seasoned calf and muscle, especially as they were endeavoring to search their surroundings as they went.

There was nothing more than the common sounds of nature to play audience to their private conversation. Those same eyes of bird and beast followed the pair as their decision was made to chase the distant sound of the river to the west. It didn’t sound particularly strong or of heavy flow—just enough to echo against the pleasantries of their mountainous surroundings and indicate that water did indeed travel across the rock.

They set off then, dodging under a branch here and over a rock there as they used the sound to decide their direction. It didn’t steer them wrong either as it continued to grow louder until they were soon met with the long, curved line of a creek, replete with cool, clear water a few inches deep running back down the mountain.

But it was the stain of bright blue in the very center of the liquid that stood out against an otherwise pleasant stream. It looked as if someone had poured the colored ink somewhere upstream and let it float away. A quick glance in that same direction would reveal the apparent culprit, too—a woman, naked as the day she was born, with skin the color of the deepest sapphire and long hair matching the ebony of night, standing in the very center of the river with water just barely up past her knees. She was bathing, it seemed, as she cupped water and rubbed it into her face that was turned away from the pair and unaware of their approach.

Dalia

It was peaceful, this utter oblivion of night, and it greeted the mountain elf with all the familiarity of an old friend as it adopted Dalia into its embrace. The search for a rocky outcropping that would offer shelter from the bitterest parts of the night was an easy enough thing to find success; there were caves, but most were well off the path, and overhangs, and it was the latter that Dalia found the most suitable to her needs as it was just off the edge of the northern path and yet would keep the worst of the wind or, Aetheria forbid, falling objects from hitting her from above or on the sides.

Nothing disturbed her small meal or the quick preparations she made to set up her camp. Her eyes adjusted well enough to the lower light. She could still see the town off the cliff’s edge in the distance. Above her she could see the trail continue to climb across the mountain. The thick grey clouds that the villagers had warned her of were beginning to form in the shadows too, warning that perhaps the locals weren’t wrong about the turn of the weather.

So, then, was her peace so complete that it was the slightest sight of something unusual that stood out against its backdrop. By now she could make out much of her surroundings by the light provided by the moon and stars. But this, it seemed, was not the only light shimmering that night. In the distance Dalia could make out a strange flash—just once, but bright enough to make one think that they had perhaps fainted or imagined it somehow, as it was gone just as quickly. That, though, wasn’t the only oddity. A dull red glow that remained constant was in the trees some distance down the path. And above her Dalia’s elven hearing could make out a strange thudding across the rock under which she had sheltered, as if someone was pounding a rhythm out against the surface.

Faust Kitrye’veresi

Traveling in darkness and on a crowded mountaintop was a difficult feat made even more complicated by Sarnor’s sheer size. The great beast kept its wings close by to avoid colliding with rock and tree. Even then, if it wasn’t for Faust’s arcane efforts Sarnor would probably have been worse for the wear. The worst of the obstacles bounced off the shield and kept the pair protected as the gryphon delicately picked its way in the direction that its master had indicated, doing its best to weave between the foliage.

Eventually the mouth of the cave came into better view—and a large view it was. The cavern rivaled some of the tunnels in Har’oloth itself in sheer size if not crafting, as the edges of the rock were still ragged, cracked, and uneven. The “doorway” was little more than a sharp angle that happened to be wide enough for three of Sarnor to pass through shoulder to shoulder. The shadows inside were darkened by lack of light as well as distance, the latter of which made it difficult for even Faust’s darkvision to pierce as they came closer to the doorway.

Faust and Sarnor had just finally closed enough distance to see the cave’s floor leading onward and downward when both became aware of a deep rumble that shook the very ground. Inside, something was moving, though perhaps a better word for its style of motion was rolling. The disguised Vysstichi could make out what appeared to be a massive boulder of rock made up of small pieces locked together like a spherical puzzle that seemed to be the cause of the noise. There was no head, no limbs, and no other features to mark it.

The stone was right inside the mouth of the cave and, for the moment, seemed to be content in its pacing from side to side. Sarnor and Faust’s approach had not, as of yet, disturbed it or its particular activity.

Secrets :
Argon Shatterskin & Calanon: Day 2, Hour 13

Dalia: Day 1, Hour 24

Faust Kitrye’veresi: Day 1, Hour 25

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Old July 7, 2019, 05:00 AM   #23
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Argon could feel the strain of the journey that they had undertaken and could only postulate that Calanon would be fairing worse than he, not being a dwarf. When they came upon the water source they had been searching for it promised a chance to rest and much needed relief before they went about tracing their way back to the cave. As Argon neared the stream he saw that something odd. A line of blue was running through the middle as if someone had dripped ink into the stream. What kind of person would do that to a perfectly pristine and fresh source of drinking water was beyond Argon's wildest guess and when he looked up he was taken back by what he saw.

A human-looking lady with sapphire skin and black hair. Argon reasoned that it wasn't a human. Their skin never seemed to turn any interesting colours. Always various themes of white, black, brown or some blend in between. Argon was taken back by the beauty of the woman that he saw, as well. Her single biggest floor, looking quite hairless where it counted from as far as he could tell, did not discount from the fact that she was indeed beautiful. What could that woman be doing though in the middle of the mountains washing blueness away into the streams? He doubted she was painted that way. The amount of money one would have to spend to paint oneself entirely blue was enough to make it something you didn't do on a whim where no one could see you. No if she had painted herself blue and was going to trounce about naked she would have done that in town if it were paint. Something else was entirely afoot here.

but what was she? Argon had heard tales of strange beings in the forests and countryside and on occasion he had thought he had seen a sprite here, a nymph there. This was different, however, as this was in plain sight and not a fleeting glimpse. So was she some kind of nature spirit? The fact there was some kind of giant that wasn't a giant that started all this furore and it was evidence that somehow this might all be related to the Gods made this coincidence all too suspect. Perhaps it was an opportunity, though? Argon thought that it would be great if they were to find a way to talk to her but then she would know that they had gaped upon her naked beauty. Argon thought that was probably a taboo. At least humans seemed to think it was and aside from the story of that one elf who always walked around naked that he heard in every 3rd tavern the elves seemed quite reserved too.

Feeling out of his depth with a 'nature spirit' that belonged to the category of 'above ground' he deferred to Calanon while having the inevitable thought back to Junior at that time he had found himself having troubles with the 'lady and her wares'. That had been amusing and Argon wondered if Calanon had the same kind of innocence as his son had when dealing with women. There was evidence, at least, that he had been around a naked woman at least once. Calednon was that evidence. Surely Calanon would know how to deal with a woman who was naked who also happened to potentially be a nature spirit? Argon banked on it. He also thought and decided against taking or sampling the water. If it were a nature spirit who owned this stream or something he thought it would be quite rude to take without asking

In a soft voice as not to let it travel and disturb the beautiful sapphire lady he turned to the elf and made a suggestion

"Before we do anything else, I think ye should talk to her." Argon suggested trying to sound dignified in the process "Elves are renouned for being closer to nature. Above ground anyways. I am sure if she were a rock sprite tha' I would be more than willin' to take the lead"

Argon then wondered if he had sounded as foolish as Calednon had done that time back at the tavern in Daltina. He hadn't been there to see it but he suspected it was particularly painful to watch.
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Old July 7, 2019, 01:33 PM   #24
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Their Force Shields notwithstanding, the dark elf found himself clutching on to Sarnor’s feathers more tightly than usual as they navigated the inky darkness of the mountainside. Every crackle of energy praised his earlier prudence, yet they nevertheless had the cumulative effect of adding to his nerves. “Careful,” Faust whispered to his companion, the cringe on his ebony visage betraying his concern both for himself and his mount. The gryphon cawed in response, a high-pitched sound that seemed to confirm that the majestic creature was equally as uneasy.

The sight of the enormous cavern mouth did little to alleviate his trepidation. Faust was no stranger to such sights, especially in the expansive Nightlands, but he knew that big caves tended to house big creatures. “Right over there,” he whispered into Sarnor’s ear, then pointed with a gloved hand towards what appeared to be the floor of the huge cave.

The gryphon’s massive white wings spread and his golden-colored claws opened in preparation to land when the dark elf suddenly tugged forcefully on his friend’s mane, causing it to pause mid-air. “Hold . . .” he said, his voice quiet but firm. And nervous.

Feeling the gryphon tense beneath him confirmed that Sarnor, too, had felt the mysterious rumble coming from the entrance. The Vysstichi Lord’s eyes followed the noise to . . . a large boulder that was literally pacing from side to side. His gaze widened in stark suspicion. Animated rock was not something that one saw every brightening, and the dark elf was under no illusion that this was normal even here.

Still a distance away from the cavern entrance, the Vysstichi cast a glance below them, searching for a rock, a large branch, or any foliage that might serve his purpose. If successful, he would attach a small amount of Force Essence to the inanimate object and slowly try to sail it directly over the patrolling boulder’s “head.”

Was it a sentry? Was it an elemental?

He did not know, but whatever it was, he was determined to assess its purpose before attempting to move past it.
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Old July 7, 2019, 05:57 PM   #25
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Even if he were feeling the strain of the relentless climb, there was no way on Telath Calanon was going to make mention of it to the dwarf. Instead, as they made their way toward the sound of running water, the elf distracted himself with the fact that they could rest a moment when they got there. Once the dwarf had offered, he threw the odd question about Cal’ed his way How had they met? and where had he last seen him?

Calanon felt the same knot of nervous hope coil in his belly that he always did when he spoke of his son, and the same press of guilt that he had not done more, sooner. That he had not been better, before. He picked up his pace a little in the discomfort of it, falling silent as the sound of the water grew louder, and eventually the sweep of a small creek came into view, carving its way through the rocky landscape.

The Sylrosian had almost reached the water’s edge when he saw it, a curious stain of blue floating like an oil slick in the water, and his head turned to trace it upstream to its source. When he found it, he raised a hand in warning to his dwarven companion incase Argon had not noticed that they had company.

The elf’s eyes did not leave the figure upriver though, a wary sort of curiosity evident upon his features as he considered their next move. The hushed whispers of the dwarf beside him had Calanon turn a disbeleiving look upon the fellow. Oh of course he should be the one to disturb the unknown blue naked lady. He rolled his eyes, but turned away from Argon anyway, tryng to decide the polite way to go about announcing their presence. He wasn’t sure that there was one, actually.

So in the end, Calanon simply cleared his throat, loudly. He would have averted his eyes to afford the woman some modesty, but given that he could not be sure she wouldn’t go on the offensive, it seemed a stupid idea. Meaning that if and when she turned, she would find the green eyes of the elf resting steadily upon her. Upon her face. Eyes. Nothing below the neck.

“Beg pardon for the interruption, arwenamin. We came seeking water and did not realise the stream was..occupied.”
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Old July 8, 2019, 08:02 PM   #26
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Dalia didn't mind the quiet and the aloneness. In fact, after all the time spent in the legions - where alone time was simply not something that was available, to anyone, ever, expect maybe the general, and even then it was doubtful - it made her feel wonderfully herself. Here she was free to be Dalia Micena'Khorun'ai, daughter and younger sister, Nimalni, believer in justice above all things, lover of forests and mountains. In short, and despite the gathering clouds that told of storms approaching, Dalia couldn't have conceived of a single place she'd rather have been in that moment than sitting by her pack eating a hard biscuit and squinting down at the glinting light of the town which had rematerialized now that she was seated on an outcropping with a nice line of sight downward.

Eventually, however, something else caught at the corner of her eye and forced her gaze away from where she'd come and upward. A flash. She definitely hadn't imagined it, though it was gone almost as soon as she'd seen it. And... there, the red glow couldn't be a product of her imagination, although how it could be located down the path, from where she'd come from, Dalia had no idea. Another traveller?.... But she'd seen no one thus far; and the steady dullness of it didn't make sense for the glow of a fire. But what, then, could it be?

As Dalia was pondering this question, as well as what she should do about it, her ear caught the distant thud against the rock. It seemed to be coming from the opposite direction than the reddish glow - another mystery.

It took only a moment for Dalia to scramble as quickly and quietly as she could to gather her things. She wasn't too worn out from the trip, and her eyes had adjusted to the dimness - under the circumstances, it would make no sense to stay put rather than investigate. The only question was, investigate what? The flash of light? The red glow? The sounds?...

Dalia was a soldier and a senior sergeant, used to making quick, decisive decisions. In this case, the flash of light was already gone and she didn't want to chase it about aimlessly; the red glow was curious, but in the night climbing down the steep path at night - even if she could see pretty well - was likely to prove more dangerous, all things considered, than climbing farther up.

Trying to move as quietly and quickly as she could while still being careful in the darkness, Dalia began climbing toward the sound. Every few moments she'd pause and hold still, calculating: was she getting closer? Further to the right, to the left?.... Was there anything else to be seen or heard on the mountainside? The last thing Dalia wanted was to make her presence known to whoever or whatever was responsible before she was ready to do so.
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Old July 10, 2019, 01:32 AM   #27
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Argon Shatterskin & Calanon

The entire conversation between dwarf and elf was allowed to continue without interruption. The forest did nothing to mark their passing and the blue woman it held had not seemed to notice them, either. A soft hum left her lips as she bent down to gather more water between her pair of cupped hands. Shen then stood back to her full height—a head or so taller than the average human woman, if their distant view was to be trusted, but otherwise thoroughly just that: human. Of course, such was only believable if neglecting the hue of her skin.

It wasn’t until Calanon finally spoke up that the woman turned about to face them, her red-rimmed eyes blazing with fury at the interruption. Her brow furrowed and she turned a hasty study over Calanon first, then Argon who was evidently hanging back somewhat, and, for the moment, seemed mollified by what she saw. Her expression relaxed. Both hands fell back to her sides, not noticing the immodesty of her lack of dress in what was now quickly becoming a rather public spectacle.

“And why would it not be occupied?” she shot back, her tone somewhat hard but not, if such subtle sounds were to be believed, hostile. The woman frowned and then rubbed one hand along the length of her opposite arm, letting small droplets of water fall off back into the stream in the process. “It is water, after all, and water is life.” Her gaze turned back to their hands now. Both irises were the dark blue of the deepest sea and yet around them were the tinge of crimson, bleeding inward toward black pupils.

“Do you intend to take this water, then?” The woman shook her head, letting another shower of drops descend in the process. This time she took the other hand to wipe down her arm and more water was loosened. She did it a second time and the water dropped down again in more volume and force than it had before. “For what purpose? If you know not of the mountains then you would be wise to have employed a guide.”

Faust Kitrye’veresi

The sphere of rock, or whatever it was, didn’t seem to notice its newest viewer. It continued to roll from one side of the cave to the next, back and forth and back and forth just as before. The more Faust watched, the more he realized that there was an apparent pattern to the creature’s movement. It followed one singular line from one side of the cave to the other, never deviating. It moved like a pendulum without a single falter. Underneath it the rock had been ground away into a rounded path, betraying many, many treks made before.

There was no sound, no look, and no change in any way to indicate that the thing, whatever it was, knew that it was no longer alone. The High Lord of Har’oloth was adept at stealth, after all, and nary a sound or sight had followed him since he had crept toward the entrance. Sarnor, on the other hand, had not the advantages of fleet feet or small size. While the creature had managed to avoid the worst of potential collisions with the benefit of the added Force Shield, the gryphon’s passage had been far from silent. Even now, Sarnor paced uneasily at the cave’s entrance with his feet scraping at the rock as his weight shifted.

And yet even that did nothing to rouse the figure that had stolen Faust’s interest and imagination. Still it kept to its roll, moving this way and that. Even when he sent the small, innocuous item toward the sphere and let it fly just over its bounds, it still didn’t flinch. It rolled right. It rolled left. There was only ever the slightest pause when it reached the end of its length before it turned back in the opposite direction to mark that anything changed at all.

And in the darkness, the Vysstichi’s sharp eyes were able to make out the look of movement. Someone was across the way at what appeared to be a second entrance to the cave—a smaller one, from appearances, and directly across the way with the rock-sphere in between them. It was hard to tell whether the figure was humanoid or animal but it most certainly wasn’t flora if the way it purposely moved was to be believed.

Dalia

Climbing the rockface above her took a bit of gymnastics on Dalia’s part. While it wasn’t more than a stone’s throw away from the main path, it was the elevation that took the most effort and thought to navigate. There was no easy way to get up the sheer, rough rockface. Time and nature had made it more sheer and far more dangerous, it seemed. Dalia could still hear the rhythmic thudding in the space above her but the angle made it impossible to see the cause.

She climbed, slowly, using the light of the moons to pick and choose her holds as she navigated her way closer and closer to the sound. There were a few scrapes and near-tumbles, but no cuts or bruises deeper than a few days’ rest would fix. She was a soldier, after all. Surviving the elements and fighting through trials and tribulations were simply part of their course and daily bread. Finally Dalia’s hand touched what she thought to be the original outcropping under which she had once sat and pulled herself upward with a last heave, feeling the dull burn throughout her muscles and fibers settling over what had already sunk in with her previous trek up the path.

And it was then, that she saw what appeared to be a crack in the rock that led into a deeper cave. It had been hidden by one of the sheer sides from her original survey from the path. Inside was darkness that even the moonlight could not help to pierce but that same rhythmic sound kept pounding. It was louder now, warning Dalia that she was close. If she dared peer inside, with some time her eyes would begin to adjust to the lack of light and in its she would see the appearance of a heavy something that appeared to be rolling from side to side. It was, from all looks, a massive boulder of rock that was made up of small pieces locked together into a sphere. There were no head, no limbs, and no other features to mark it.

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Argon Shatterskin & Calanon: Day 2, Hour 14

Faust Kitrye’veresi & Dalia: Day 2, Hour 1

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Old July 10, 2019, 03:07 AM   #28
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Argon listened as Calanon spoke and the lady responded. He hadn't expected the lady to be so rude but now was confronted with a woman, human in most ways save the sapphire skin, unabashed about her way of dress. Argon wasn't sure of the correct protocol here but reasoned that Calanon's lead to meet the lady in her eyes was the best route and made every effort to plant his eyes firmly there.

As she made her protestations about being disrupted Argon felt this lady was possibly some form of nature spirit or guardian. He didn't know the specifics of these things but the way things unfolded he was quite confident to step in even if Calanon found the interruption uncomfortable.

"Water is life" Argon agreed with the sapphire lady "Without it dwarf or elf perish. Aye we intended to take water so that we may survive in these mountains but if it were to pose a problem perhaps we can make do without."

Argon literally stepped out of Calanon's shadow and continued to make more conversation

"The townsfolk near here know little to nothing of these mountains" Argon lamented "For whatever reason they be happy to receive its bounty but never question its source. There were no suitable guides in town that we were able to find. No maps and mostly blank stares. Perhaps ye would be inclined to help us out? We are looking for something and ye might know a thing or two about it? I mean, if its not too much trouble. We would be happy to return the favour in kind."

Argon didn't reveal what they were looking for yet. He looked to Calanon briefly. He had spoken for both of them, then. Had they earned each other's trust enough to do this? Argon was about to find out.
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Old July 10, 2019, 01:34 PM   #29
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Standing in the shadows of the entranceway, the hooded elf studied the rock as it rolled back and forth. Perhaps it was because he had once dabbled in elementalism and was familiar with the creatures associated with it that he half-expected the rock to sprout arms, legs, and a head at his approach. The rock, however, did not react to him at all, nor did it even seem to care that he and the massive gryphon behind him were present.

Perhaps the rock was simply . . . a rock.

Wait for me here,” he whispered to Sarnor. He then jutted his chin towards the cavern’s enormous mouth and the sky beyond, where the gryphon would have far more room to maneuver and do as he pleased rather than inside what would presumably be a restrictive series of caverns beyond. Once his companion retreated to the air, the elf returned his attention to the rolling rock, and it was then that he noticed what appeared to be a humanoid-like figure a distance ahead of him near a smaller cave entrance.

On instinct, he approached the rock on the balls of his feet, then waited for it to pass before he scurried past it. His keen eyes probed the floor for any unseen wires or even an imperceptible track that kept the rock rolling in place. The last thing that he wanted was to trip and announce to every single creature in the cave that he was here.

He kept his gloved hands near his swords as he strafed towards the side of the room, not only to keep the figure ahead of him in his field of vision, but also to hopefully navigate around him, her, or it and make his way towards the second cave.
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Old July 11, 2019, 07:29 PM   #30
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The climb had been difficult and slow, and when she'd finally pulled herself up that last shelf Dalia just crouched there for a second to get her breath back and shake out the ache in her hands and fingers. At the same time she peered into the gloom. The sound was a lot closer now - rhythmic, pounding, slow. What could it be?...

Shaking her hands out for the last time and gathering her breath, the grey elf slowly moved forward to peer through the crack she'd have missed if she'd stayed on the path.

At first she couldn't see anything; slowly, however, the darkness took on different tones and Dalia was able to make out some sort of massive something rolling from one side of the cave to the other. It looked and sounded like rock, but the legionnaire couldn't puzzle out much more. Some sort of arcana at work, maybe, but even if so, the grey elf had a hard time understanding what this was and what it was doing simply rolling back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

To Dalia's soldier brain, the plodding, regular movements of the stone were reminiscent of nothing so much as a dutiful guard on post.

The elf hesitated. She wasn't exactly a novice when it came to weird and mysterious magical objects, but it was no secret that she was wary of arcana in the best of circumstances. If it was a guard of sorts, then the rock might have some sort of offensive or at least defensive tactics to deploy against intruders. Dalia didn't want to alert the thing to her presence, and yet she did wish to find out its capabilities.

Hunkering further forward in her crouch, the grey elf splayed her fingers on the ground in search of a small handful of rocks. Surely she'd be able to find some, even in the dark, given the landscape. All she needed then was a good angle... and then she'd throw, arcing her handful into the cavern against the wall that was in her line of sight but furthest from where she crouched. What would the rock guardian do when her handful hit the wall?
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