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Old January 9, 2016, 06:16 PM   #1
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[Jaedaxia] Ice to Meet You

Era XXIII

The manor was nestled on the outskirts of Jaedaxia. Within walking distance of the city centre but far enough out that the streets were quiet. A single placard at the gate was the only indication that this was the right place, a golden ouroboros looping twice around a sword. It was surrounded by a small garden filled with strange plants and herbs whose scents sent the senses for a spin. Not even the pigeons that seemed to roost everywhere in this city could be heard here.

Morning fog clung to the manor like an old lover, embracing the dark stone walls with stubborn tenacity. From the rafters gargoyles wreathed in mist scowled down. Subtle touches like the cast iron reinforcements on the doors and windows made the place every bit as secure as a fortress. The carefully hidden murder holes did nothing to alleviate this notion.

Much like its solitary inhabitant the manor did little to encourage visitors.
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Old January 12, 2016, 02:36 PM   #2
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The parchment made a crumpling sound as the half elf folded it and placed it back into her belt pocket. Her eyes scanned the gate before she entered it alone, leaving her mount tied to a horse not far without. Her boots seemed to make the most raucous echo as she made her way towards the manor, and she realized not even halfway through that it was because of a strange, persistent silence.

The smell of the garden made her head spin, causing her to increase her pace towards the dark stone building beyond. She noted the security of the doors and windows, recognized them from military buildings in the cities and old fortresses she had explored in her travels. It made sense that an alchemist would need to protect his rare findings and creations, but something about the place felt particularly unwelcoming even to her - and the owner himself had given her the address tucked away inside her pocket.

She knocked upon the heavy door that awaited her. Surely her presence had not gone unnoticed, for someone who had gone through such great pains to defend himself.
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Old January 25, 2016, 05:21 PM   #3
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The knocker was a heavy piece, sending noise throughout the mansion. Even so it took some time for the doors to open. It was almost as if the house itself exhaled, a hot breath to pierce the Jaedaxian chill. One might expect a butler or a servant of some sort from a manor of this size, but the person who answered the door was the very same alchemist she had met in Jiems.

He was dressed in a black jacket adorned with the same symbol she had seen earlier, the snake eating its own tail wrapped around a sword. Between the gloves and the red shirt buttoned carefully up to just below his chin, the only place she could see part of him was his face. Here his pale skin fit in surprisingly well with the locals, the eyes suggested he was no more at home here than he was elsewhere.

He wore no weapons, that much was obvious, but there were subtle bulges in his clothing where there should be none and it seemed as if though the alchemist was hiding a great many things in his clothing.

"Rhystlin Farsteel," his voice was cold, clinical. It fit the Jaedaxian weather to a tee. Some part of the Everwinter had never left Jaedaxia. "Have you hunted something new for me?"
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Old January 28, 2016, 10:59 AM   #4
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The half elf's eyes settled on the man as he emerged from the opened door. She was surprised to see that it was him, given the sheer breadth of this place. Was he here alone? He seemed the sort to prefer it so. At any rate, she realized, it was really none of her business.

"Not yet," she admitted, although she immediately produced something that had been readily on hand. "I do have something else that might be of interest to you, though."

She showed him the shattered weapon she had received after her trip to Castellian Keep, the hilt that emitted a strange and permanent cold. The blade had been broken off, and had not been in a state to collect or bring with her.

"I had a run-in with a demonic creature in an old Maeve fortress. It did this to my weapon. I thought you might have more use of it in its current state than I do."
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Old January 31, 2016, 08:51 AM   #5
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He looked at the hilt for a second, considering it. He even went so far as to remove one of his gloves to get a better feel for the cold it emanated. The hand revealed was a mess of crisscrossing scars and burns and it was not long before the glove was well and truly back in place.

"Come," he said, it was a command more than it was an invitation.

Inside the heat pulsed everywhere. The colours were surprisingly warm and inviting, with red walls. There was even a library of strange flasks along the walls of the hall, with labels that promised everything from the love of your life, to invincibility, straight through to curing any disease. Here and there strange pipes cut across and around corners, going this way and that.

From one doorway bright lights in half a dozen colours seemed to dance and shift as complex machinery went through its paces. Inside another steam came venting from one pipe which went up through the ceiling and possibly came back down elsewhere leading to an arrangement of pipes that seemed to bend in ways that made the eye hurt just to look at.

"Tell me about this creature," the alchemist said as he walked. He stopped briefly to open up a valve, allowing a single drop of something to drop into a clear glass container.

Finally he reached a room which looked as much like some kind of strange library as anything else. Shelves were packed with books with titles in strange languages. A slab filled the middle of the room, much larger than was necessary for this exact purpose, but around it was a wide array of tools and equipment of variably exotic nature. He placed the hilt carefully down on the middle of the table and set about peering at it through a magnifying glass mounted on a series of metal joints.

"What do you want for this?" the alchemist asked, poking at the hilt very carefully with a scalpel, trying to undo the leather wrapped around without damaging the integrity of the hilt.
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Old February 14, 2016, 02:19 PM   #6
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If the half elf took offense to what seemed an order on the alchemist's behalf, she did not show it - not that the peculiar "human" might have cared one whit anyway. She submerged herself in the pulsing heat of the mansion, grateful to be sheltered from the cold, her fingers stiff despite the inner lining of her gloves. She fought the urge to tuck them beneath her armpits, satisfying herself instead with moving them deliberately at her sides as her eyes grazed the mansion's exhibits.

She had seen nothing of its kind - the mysterious piping, flashing lights, nor machinery. She nearly started at the foreign sounds and garish maneuvers. She welcomed the sound of the alchemist's voice, no matter how cold, as a distraction from what was surely a childish display of ignorance and wonder.

"It had scaled arms, like a reptile. Legs like a goat. A forked tongue. Despite his ability to communicate soundly, we were forced to ... defend ourselves. The moment the sword was thrust into the beast's ribs, it eroded away in moments. This is all that's left."

Her voice had taken on a distant tone upon mention of the sword's destruction, as if she somehow regretted the loss of such a low quality blade.

Her eyes lifted at the alchemist's next question, her interest now turned to his careful attempts at completing the weapon's destruction. She swallowed her sentimentality then, knowing that even replenishing the blade that sat on the hilt would not return the same weapon to her. The alchemist, she knew, could not do that besides.

"I would offer this in exchange for your thoughts on something, if I may." She hesitated a moment, watching to see if there was any change in his expression. Perhaps he would deem not to give it.

"Some time ago I investigated the state of Riparia, and found that a massive construct was consuming and breaking down the city, leaving a dead marsh in its wake. Inside of this construct was some sort of pillar that seemed to act as the heart of it. When destroyed, the construct appeared to die."

She paused again, chewing on her words. "In the process of attempting to destroy it, I was exposed to a black gas that didn't seem to do anything at the time. But later, I encountered a similar construct, if not a much smaller version of such. One of my men attempted to harm a growth on its surface with an arrow, and I ... I felt its pain. It was like something was screaming inside of me and I could concentrate on nothing else."

She was faltering now. What did she hope to ask? If he could stop it? If he had seen this before? If the two were somehow related? If somewhere in the perfect world he would go "Ah yes, here's the cure"?

She shuffled, obviously at a loss... an awkward one at that.
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Old February 18, 2016, 07:15 PM   #7
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The alchemist took a second to write notes into a notebook by his side, although his writing seemed to only have a passing semblance to anything looking like Common. If he took any notice of her sentimentality he did not show it. "What did it smell like? Burning chalk? Lavender? Was it speaking common or some other tongue?"

He stopped his interrogation as she changed the subject. Putting his pencil neatly into its place, lined up exactly to edge of the book. "Go on," he said, not impatiently, but definitely hinting that his time was valuable and not to be wasted on playing around.

While she spoke he mentally he rewrote his opinion of Rhystlin Farsteel's potential value. Careless. Potentially compromised. "And you are worried about what? Long term effects? Whether you are now bonded to this construction and its ilk?"

He skipped straight past the obvious questions, construct was obviously Xet in origin. That meant this was some manner of Xetan alchemy that he was unaware of, interesting, but not terribly so. The alchemist had something two labs down that could do much the same thing, forcing an empathic bond was not terribly difficult all told.
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Old February 22, 2016, 07:32 PM   #8
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"I don't recall smelling anything. It was speaking common, as far as I'm aware." Could it have been in her head, the common? Did she somehow just understand it without being aware that it was speaking in something other than a language she recognized? It was hard to say.

If the half elf felt any indication of what conclusions the alchemist was reaching about her, she didn't show it. She seemed as lost as she was when she had begun speaking, still uncertain as to what she was looking for from him.

"Yes. I mean, both. Have you encountered something like this before? Do you believe it might be... permanent?" As if he could know. But it didn't hurt to ask. Maybe.
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Old February 26, 2016, 10:23 PM   #9
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"I have absolutely no idea," the alchemist said. "Given the vague nature of a presumably Xetan construct of some kind, and an even more generic mention of some manner of black gas, there is very little that can be presumed."

The alchemist's patients were mostly ever corpses and he had no time to spare for dealing with the diseases and broken bones of the living, thus his bedside manner was perhaps a little lacking. It was a fault he was both aware of and did not care one whit for changing. If people wanted comforting words delivered in a pleasant singsong voice, they could look elsewhere.

He put the book he had been writing aside neatly, lining the pencil he had been using to write with next to it, aligning it neatly with the book's binding.

"There are tests that can be run, naturally," he continued, "Any permanent effects will have left some manner of mark."

"You will not enjoy these tests."
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Old February 29, 2016, 11:30 PM   #10
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Of course he was right. All the more the fool she was, for even bringing up vague mention of things he had never seen. She probably should have retrieved a sample of whatever it was that affected her, but she had become so afraid of causing it harm at this point that she had given herself a wide berth when the other soldiers had gone to kill it.

Her attention perked at the possibility of test, but his final sentence visibly withered her. She cringed slightly at the thought.

"You know, I think I'll pass," she said, "but perhaps I will revisit the offer sometime." That was probably as unlikely as her uncertainty was obvious. "As for the blade, I wish I could give you more to go on. Everything happened so quickly that it's hard to recall every detail. The creature also had a book in its possession, but that was taken by someone else in our party, so unfortunately I cannot show that to you."

Not that she would have been so inclined to do so, given that her name was etched somewhere within. What sort of power might that give this crafty alchemist against her? She didn't want to know. She wasn't even sure she liked to know that it was in someone else's possession, but what could she have done when it had Cal's name in there as well?

A concern for another time, perhaps.
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Old March 23, 2016, 04:22 PM   #11
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"The offer stands should you wish to revisit it," the alchemist echoed her words, "it is what you bargained for, it is what you will receive. Never let it be said that Adrian de Aquinas is not a man of his word."

"Is that so?" the alchemist said, writing a small note in the side of his ledger. "Who got their hands on the book?" A book from another plane of reality, that was interesting. He might have to pay this person a visit.
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Old April 1, 2016, 12:13 PM   #12
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The half elf nodded. "I appreciate that," was her response, despite not feeling as though she was missing out on a great deal. An uncomfortable smile then stretched itself across her face at the alchemist's next question.

"A companion of mine. I'll mention you to him. Perhaps we could bring the tome by and see what you can glean from it."

Part of her did consider that the alchemist might actually be able to help them if he had his hands on the book. Part of her knew that he had a great potential to harm them as well. She'd have to give it some deep thought and go over the options with Calaban.

"I should be going. I'll let you know about the tome. In the meantime, I hope that hilt produces something useful for you."

She dipped her head in farewell.
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Old April 2, 2016, 08:07 PM   #13
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"I see," said the alchemist.

He closed the book neatly, laid it aside. Every motion mechanical, the exact amount of energy for that exact movement.

In his mind he reviewed options. Standing where she was he had seventeen different ways to subdue her. If he activated the various traps around the building, the number increased to twenty-three. Seven of them would include grievous bodily harm from which she would not recover. A further five would inflict injuries that, while potentially life-threatening, she could recover from given time. The remaining five would mostly involved injecting her with some manner of sedative. Difficult. Unless he asked her to stay for tea or some manner of polite gambit, that would certainly increase options. There were seventy-eight different alchemical concoctions in this lab he could poison her with that would render her insensate, fourteen would paralyse, four would stop her heart entirely, twelve would boil her alive from the inside out. Getting the poison to her was a limited problem.

All of the plans stranded on one simple problem.

It would likely sour relations to the point where the Farsteel woman would no longer be an asset. In most cases it would mean killing her or rendering her braindead.

So for now he filed the question she did not answer away.

Until such a time as she proved no longer useful.

"One more question before you go, if you please," the alchemist said, there was nothing warm about his politeness, "where did you say this all took place? A fort in Maeve? Which one?"
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Old April 9, 2016, 04:58 PM   #14
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"Yes, Castellian Keep." If he wanted to investigate the ruins he was more than free to do so. The trek had been arduous for her own group, only for them to find that the fort was a nest to something the mercenary was not capable of explaining. Part of her was happy to be rid of the destroyed hilt, but she couldn't help but feel that the taint had yet to wash completely clean from her.

Such was the case for most of the jobs she happened to stumble into.

"The fort was in shambles, and I have an inkling that something remains there still. Whatever we fought claimed to have a 'master', and my group didn't remain to determine who or what that might have been. If you investigate, or send anyone else to do so, I advise caution."

As it was, Rhys only intended to return if she was paid to do so, so if the alchemist had plans of his own for the fort, he would find no competition from her.
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Old April 9, 2016, 08:27 PM   #15
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"Duly noted," the alchemist said, the constant chill in his voice little indicator of the actual meaning behind those words, but they felt like a dismissal.

Castellian Keep, it was a thread for him to pull at, and the alchemist was good at pulling on threads. Sooner or later the entire thing would unravel before him and he would have the information he wanted. Her trying to keep it from him was a nuisance, but one he tolerated for now. Adrian de Aquinas was a peaceful businessman after all, better for everyone to think so rather than risk being exposed at an early stage.

"It has been a pleasure, Rhystlin Farsteel," there was no doubting that that was simply a matter of rote pleasantry more than any indication of anything else, "should you change your mind about the tests let me know. I will make the arrangements."
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