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5E [IC] THE CURSE OF AMBERSTAR

Archon Basileus

First Post
LIBRARY

Both Yttrian and Lyllie lose themselves to their studies. Yttrian makes useful, albeit rustic, notes about the upper sectors of the sanctuary. He realizes that the path leading to it will force them through an old sanctuary that links Caer Vallen to the Sanctum. On the other hand, lower strata of the mountains might allow for a quicker way into the Teraphim sanctuary, but it seems that these areas are only reachable through the ruins of an old settlement, excavated within the mountains. Before Yttrian can commit any of these discoveries to paper, the sage offers the maps for him to take away, advising caution, since they’re quite old, and things might have changed.

[Yttrian is now in possession of three maps. The first one depicts the sanctuary behind Caer Vallen. His research shows that the place is still working, but under the influence of potentially hostile forces. The second one depicts the lower strata, where a subterranean community once thrived. Entries about these regions are few, but the map is complete, despite being quite old, from the days the place still served as a monastery and ascetic community. The third one portrays the upper areas of the Sanctuary. It is small and incomplete, holding solely the general outlines of a few rooms – a hall of sacrifices, a hall of heroes, a conference room and a guest sector – but no more. Descriptions speak of secret contraptions that made doors move on their own, as well as several other strange mechanisms, not always fully understood by the author of the writings. Observations of all sorts depict the hall of heroes as the entrance area, the zone where the massacre happened, so long ago, accompanied by all sorts of cautionary symbols and notes.]

As for Lyllie, after some effort she uncovers part of the history of the Teraphim, as well as the areas surrounding their lair. After the disaster that befell their world, many a man tried to look for redemption by journeying towards the Sanctum. While some wished for an explanation, or even a cure – much like Conrad, nowadays – others sought to harness the power of the Teraphim, employing it for their own agendas. Some of these even made their lairs around the ruins of the Sanctum. Rumor has it that some even managed to emulate the arcane magic of the messengers, using their powerful thunder and their many divinatory instruments in their favor.
The sage sees how Lyllie goes about her research. Moved by the gnome’s effort, he adds a few observations to those she managed to locate within the books. He says, in a very contrived and embarrassed way, that many were physically affected by the disaster. Some, though, suffered deep, dramatic transformations, to the point that they decided to leave the gaze of the sun and reach for the complexes around the Sanctum. Many of the halls are now inhabited by the Touched, as they’re popularly known, and the mutations they suffered made them fierce and unpredictable enemies, the likes of which no one had ever seen up until then. Entire generations might have made that place their home, he says, and they have been known for their extreme physical prowess and for their hunting instincts, much like those of feral beasts. When allied to the profane usurping mage lords, these beasts are most dangerous, reaching untold degrees of depravity and violence.

[After her research, Lyllie discovers that the magic yielded by the Teraphim won’t be affected by counter magic, but it might be fended off by the right spells, as if the Teraphim bent forces of nature to work in their favor. Also, she discovers that a cast of mages has mixed up traditional magic and Teraphim arcane knowledge, building fortresses around the Sanctum. They have eyes everywhere and probably know everything that transpires around their lairs. Lastly, the Touched, comprised of many human and humanoid nations, have now turned into something else, completely distinct, and roam the old ruins.]

BANQUET HALL

I appreciate your honesty. I am a slave where I come from and understand servitude... You are to do what ever we ask, and give us what we want yes?" Harfik chooses a simple straight stick that could easily be mistaken for a broom handle to fight with while waiting for the servant to answer his question. In a whisper, "After this we eat, you as well, you work hard and deserve to be treated right. Does he treat you right?"

The servant seems startled by the direct questions that Harfik poses. It seems that the slave’s manners throw him off-balance, making him uncomfortable. He barely risks an answer, repeating mechanically what so many servants have been trained to say over generations of dominion. “If you request anything of me, you shall have it, of course.” – a gentle smile completes the façade he wishes to build. “I am treated with fairness, if that is what you mean, my lord.” – his intonation leaves plenty of room for doubt, almost as if he rehearsed those lines over and over, being able to repeat them even under torture.

As the battle game ensues, servants all around collect bets in subtle signs, a language not entirely lost in the combatants. Icosa’s arrival is not ignored as well, his presence being far less inconspicuous than the warforged would have desired. A few servants mention his presence in soft, whispered tones, up until one of them comes closer, offering food and beverages, his puzzled face ranging between pleasantness and experimentation.

“Sir?” – he pushes the tray towards Icosa, waiting for an answer as some other servants watch curiously.

[No tests for the battle. I’d request a perception test of each of you, if only to know how you guys uncover each other’s soft and hard spots, so to speak. As for the rest, the description you delivered is far better than I’d have imagined! Also, sorry for the delay, but now I'm back at my normal pacing. Every day here, every two days, tops, a post!]


@industrygothica @Shayuri @Greenmtn @JustinCase @Charwoman Gene [MENTION=8858]hafrogman[/MENTION]
 

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Greenmtn

Explorer
Retroactive post!


The servant seems startled by the direct questions that Harfik poses. It seems that the slave’s manners throw him off-balance, making him uncomfortable. He barely risks an answer, repeating mechanically what so many servants have been trained to say over generations of dominion. “If you request anything of me, you shall have it, of course.” – a gentle smile completes the façade he wishes to build. “I am treated with fairness, if that is what you mean, my lord.” – his intonation leaves plenty of room for doubt, almost as if he rehearsed those lines over and over, being able to repeat them even under torture.


When referred to as a Lord Harfik ducks and looks quickly over his shoulder much like you would expect a child to react when caught doing something he wasn't supposed to and expecting a backhand. When he realizes no one is there he refocuses on the servant. "I am a slave... if you have been instructed that you MUST address me by a formal title you may call me as 'thrice bound'. Otherwise Harfik is how I am known." With a nod, pained by the words and not wanting to continue the conversation he moves to position to start the sparring match.

Thinking to himself as he waits for the first move Even when I am not thrice bound Lord will never do.
 

industrygothica

Adventurer
Lyllie takes her information and goes to meet the others in the banquet hall. She pauses for a beat as she enters, the makeshift arena taking her by surprise. She eventually collects herself and finds a seat at the back on one of the tables shoved in a corner.





Code:
[B]AC:[/B] 16; [B]HP:[/B] [COLOR=#FF000]52[/COLOR]/52
[B]Initiative:[/B] +3
[B]Saves:[/B] INT +7, WIS +5
[B]Passive Perception:[/B] 15
[B]Languages:[/B] Common, Gnomish, Sylvan, Druidic
[B]Skills:[/B] Arcana +7, Investigation +7, Nature +7, Perception +5
[B]Stats:[/B] Str 8 (-1), Dex 14 (+2) , Con 14 (+2), Int 18 (+4), Wis 14 (+2), Cha 11 (+0)

-[B]Inspiration[/B]? [ ] Yes, [[COLOR=#FF0000]X[/COLOR]] No

[B]Spell Save DC:[/B] 13/15
[B]Spell Slots:[/B] 4, 4, 3, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0
[B]Slots Used:[/B] 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0
[B]Spells Prepared:[/B] (4/8) 
[list]
[*]1st Level: 1st Level: Healing Word (D), Entangle (D), Faerie Fire (D), Speak with Animals (D), Ray of Sickness, Color Spray, 
Mage Armor, Witch Bolt, False Life
[*]2nd Level: Blindness/Deafness, Ray of Enfeeblement, Misty Step
[/list](D) Druid Spells modified with Wisdom. All others are Wizard spells modified with Intelligence.

[B]Rituals[/B]
Tenser's Floating Disk, Find Familiar, Identify, Gentle Repose
 

hafrogman

Adventurer
Yttrian finishes up his own research and thanking the sage once again, secures the maps as best he can among his gear, resolving to buy a scroll case or similar before the expedition leaves town. He trails Icosa and Lyllie on their way to the banquet hall and quietly ducks in behind them.

He grabs a few quick bites from what is left of the feast, *You never know when your next good meal will be*, and settles in to watch the tail end of the mock combat.
 

JustinCase

the magical equivalent to the number zero
As the hall begins to fill with spectators, Aanzu makes a few final moves before taking a few steps back, away from his sparring partners. He holds the stick up once more, gives the smallest of nods, then lowers his weapon.

OOC: Perception: [roll0]
 

Greenmtn

Explorer
Harfik Human Monk

As Aanzu steps back Harfik swings his staff behind his back and launches it spinning into the air above his head, 2 steps backward, he looks up, a quick step to the side as he adjusts, the staff obviously not coming down exactly where he hoped but he manages to get back under it and catch it.

He ends the "show" by laying the staff across the inside of his elbows his hands coming together and bowing deeply in a show of respect.

OOC: Let me know if my passive perception of 19 let me notice anything during the fight if you like. He's not terribly interested in "sizing up" anyone in the group but if you want a perception check for something else.
Perception [roll0]
 

Shayuri

First Post
Icosa's head makes little ratcheting noises as it swivels to look at the servant with odd blue gleams barely glimpsed through the slit in the smooth metal of his...helmet? Head?

"That will not be necessary. Thank you."

(perception! [roll0])
 


hafrogman

Adventurer
Yttrian inclines his head at Kethra.

"Indeed. We have gathered what information we can. I think we're prepared to head out. I imagine an early start in the morning?"
 

Archon Basileus

First Post
As the heroes indulge their tastes and talk through the details of the coming trip, they lay down the details of the trip ahead of them. From this sudden burst of camaraderie, a deeper tactical awareness emerged, allowing for better cooperation in future endeavors.

[coordinated actions lead all characters adjacent to others to receive +1 bonus in attack and defense, applicable only once per character.]

As the adventurers leave, only the servants are left to reorganize the hall. Descend back again in the next morning they are greeted by the servants in an impeccably clean banquet hall, restocked with a fresh meal and ready to answer to all their needs. Prosper, they guide, comes inside to greet them as they break their feast. The middle-aged man bears a stoic face and dresses in furs, as few would nowadays.

“Whenever you are ready, ladies and lords. Horses are at the gates…” – he speaks solidly underneath his thick moustache.

[Any last-minute preparations might be done now.]

***

By the time the Duke’s envoys reach the gates, the square in front of the Keep is bustling with life. Merchants cries reach out for customers in their errands, children run after small animals, negotiators barter with sinuous glances, guards and cutpurses play their usual game of concealed motions.

The small line of mounts crosses the lively areas of the city after Prosper’s rhythm. In the back, two servants conduct a pack mule with some supplies. The trip towards the sanctum is short. After crossing the walls and venturing through a road surrounded by improvised houses and foreign faces, a single hour separates the travelers from Caer Vallen. They do not cross the ominous stone plaza, nor do they visit the insides of its walls. Since times immemorial, only the High Overseer, the Duke of Wellington, might extend such an honor. There, all dukes were consecrated as such, receiving their initiation rituals and their titles under the auspicious looks of the older gods, those that came before the Teraphim.

The road goes on towards the mountains, and soon enough the steep climb begins. An hour more, and the group finds itself lodged in the high plateau that gives access to the openings leading towards the Sanctum. From this point, all the surrounding area can be seen. Below, ruinous Caer Vallen and the city of Wallis with its high towers, surrounded by refugees and belligerent groups. Up the slopes, the pinnacle of the Teraphim Sanctum shines under the languid mid-morning sun.

Prosper and the servants begin to unpack, clearly intending to build a small camp. Prosper explains that, less than a mile following the trail between the rocks, an old entrance can be found. There, the heroes will find what used to be a sanctuary, now occupied by what the guide defines as “that rabble from the roads”. His tone suggests that bandits and yeomen might be present, a somewhat shy interpretation, considering the details found within the library. He also mentions a second way, through a trail that goes down into the mountains, but can’t bring himself to recommend the trip.

“I’d rather face just some poachers… Down there things are odd, scarce of sanity, people say…” – he scratches his moustache as he unpacks a crossbow, looking around. “Your choice, though…” – he begins to man the weapon as the servants build a small tent, closer to the edge.

[You may help yourselves to the simple supplies brought any time. Torches, oil and some food are available. Water can be found in abundance around, since it runs through many crevices around this area. Other utilities might be found as well. If you want any, mention it on the post and availability will be displayed as we move on].

@industrygothica @Shayuri @Greenmtn @JustinCase @Charwoman Gene @hafrogman
 

Greenmtn

Explorer
Harfik Human Monk

After descending to the hall and realizing he is one of the first to arrive Harfik sits cross legged, eyes closed, motionless but for the slight movement of his chest for several minutes before his arms start moving slowly through a practiced set of movements, each flowing into the next beginning small and increasing in size until the entire body is melded into the movements of the arms.

This continues and his body rises, at times his body supported by his hands, contorting his body into odd poses and holding them for a few seconds before moving on to the next. The movements gradually become faster, moments of complete relaxation broken by occasional bursts of power and speed, audible snaps as the fabric of his pants changes direction to keep up with his movements. All ending as his feet come together, his hands together before he bends at the hip in a low bow and as he returns to the upright position his eyes open.

Harfik eats and listens to what is said, adding his own comments when appropriate, getting to know his new traveling companions, knowing that his life will depend on them soon. As they leave everything but his spear and several small throwing weapons which are tucked into his chain are in the bag over his back.

On the way out of town and into the mountains he takes note of the sites and sounds of the city. Trying to get a feel for it's mood and the conditions in which it's people live. Noting the thin dirty boy stealing root vegetables form a cart as another argues with the merchant and the old woman yelling at a statue about how it needs to watch where it is going.

When they break for camp Harfik assists as much as the servants will allow but when they resist his help he leaves them too it.

When Prosper brings out the crossbow and cuts his sentence short Harfik looks to him.

"Please, continue, I would like to know what they say."
 

hafrogman

Adventurer
During the trip through the town square, Yttrian had briefly darted into a shop along the way and purchased a case for the maps on loan from the Duke's library. Now, standing in camp he pulls out the case again and gingerly extracts the map, trying to line up the picture on the page with the reality around him. He listens with half an ear to Prosper's description of the two routes and nods to himself.

"Sounds like it might be a fight just getting to this place, no matter what route we take."

He looks at the Duke's servants, grimacing slightly, but appears to come to a decision. Casting off the traveling cloak he wore while in Wallis, he reveals the bleached white armor that had previously only peeked out from underneath. He also reveals the strange weapon on his back, like a large crossbow without any limbs, string, winch or lever. He sets about checking his gear, tightening straps and generally making sure he's ready for anything. Cradling the weapon in his arms, he looks at his companions.

"Be prepared."
 


industrygothica

Adventurer
Lyllie stands at the edge of the plateau and looks out over the expanse in the direction where Glimmerdale once stood. What was once a lush, green forest is now nothing but cracked and baked earth. A faint bit of arcane energy crackles between her tiny fingertips, and if there was any life left in her dead, colorless eyes, it'd surely translate into a seething, longing rage.

"At first light, then," she says quietly. "Fill your bellies and your skins; it's going to be a long day."
 

JustinCase

the magical equivalent to the number zero
Aanzu remains quiet during the walk, and he eats in silence. Rarely does he even glance in the direction of their destination. It's as if the dragonborn is only concerned with the present and does not worry about tomorrow.
 

Archon Basileus

First Post
HARFIK

On the way out of town and into the mountains he takes note of the sites and sounds of the city. Trying to get a feel for it's mood and the conditions in which it's people live. Noting the thin dirty boy stealing root vegetables form a cart as another argues with the merchant and the old woman yelling at a statue about how it needs to watch where it is going.

As far as the monk can see, this city bears the standing of a once great holding. Shaped in the likeness of old imperial capitals, it’s complex architecture now houses many of the miserable and forgotten souls that suffered after the star fell from the skies. What was once an august place of wealth and wisdom seems to have turned into a mere shelter for the survivors of a land long forgotten. Still, their suffering is not all that remains in sight. Among them, protected by a wealth of bodyguards, the rich and noble of Wellington parade, establishing the restricting lines of survival for those less fortunate. And so, as the high towers flourish over a valley of sorrows, servants and slaves, cast in the shadows, struggle to survive, often predating each other for a place in the sun. The layouts change, but the arenas are always present, pitching their slaves against each other for the benefit of their “protectors”.

When they break for camp Harfik assists as much as the servants will allow but when they resist his help he leaves them too it.

The men only allow enough to make Harfik comfortable. Otherwise, they try to tend to his needs, showing absolute indifference to his social status. In fact, they seem to be quite comfortable around Harfik, especially after he shows a hands-on approach to the tasks and errands of camp-setting.

When Prosper brings out the crossbow and cuts his sentence short Harfik looks to him.

"Please, continue, I would like to know what they say."

“Well…” – Prosper continues – “…This place used to be quite alive back in the day. Gatherers, hunters, even settlers… My family did quite a lot of foraging ‘round these parts.” – he points towards the trail between the rocks. “There was this fountain down below, good place for fishing and this sort of thing. But a few years back it became murky, fetid, and things began… changing around. Animals turned more violent, plants began to grow odd shapes and colors, and people… Well, they grew sick, body and mind… More monster than man, people say.” – he lowers his eyes, a hint of concern upon his brow.

“From then on, disappearances became a regular sight. Sometimes bodies washed up ashore, or appeared in the clearings, up in the mountains. Half-eaten, bloodless… They themselves changed. People fear the Teraphim hunt in these parts, forgotten of their former tasks, made into cannibal vampires, maybe worse.”
The other two listen to him, shadows cast over their faces as the stories were told.

YTTRIAN

As Yttrian pulls out the maps, the younger guide opens a clean area in the back of the wagon, inviting the elf to use it.

“Here, sir… If… you will.” - the juvenile voice eludes Yttrian at first, but closeness and conversation soon denounce him. The ‘boy’s’ outlines reveal themselves as a bit too feminine, as well as ‘his’ voice, too thin for ‘his’ apparent age…

“I’m Port… Portis” – the disguised servant waves towards the map, wholeheartedly helping the elf in his intent. His – or her – eyes widen as the elf reveals his gear, and even though the servant tries to focus on the maps, the apron seems to drive Portis to the inevitable question, one that the servant, holding secrets of her – or his - own, would not dare to ask.

“You have figured most of it out, I take it” – Portis’ hands flow through the map, darting from one note to another.
“After the first slope, you’ll find a hunting post. People say it’s more like a village now, but it’s probably empty. From then on, moving forward leads to the White Hollows. Lots of craters to fall in, and lots of white fog as well. Can see nothing four steps from your nose, trust me.” – Portis continues, keeping a low head and thickening the voice as much as possible.

“To the other side… The lake.” – Yttrian quickly understands the reference, building a mental plane where all the maps fit together. He could guide the others easily, from now on. “And… this is as much as I know. You…” – Portis risks at last – “…you know quite a lot, to dig these maps and come with all this. How… Where did you learn it?” – the sentence falls flat, as if Portis wanted to go on, leaving intentions unattended for the time being.

[Ok, I’m splitting this one in parts, so it does not become too big.]

@industrygothica @Greenmtn @hafrogman @Charwoman Gene @JustinCase [MENTION=4936]Shayuri[/MENTION]
 
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Archon Basileus

First Post
KETHRA/ICOSA/AANZU

"I'm always prepared," says Kethra coldly, "and I bear no illusions about the difficulties we may be facing."

” ’Aaaaaay…” – the third servant drops a few boxes after Kethra’s observation. “You’re the City Watch dearie, aren’t you!? People sing high praise to you!” – he spits on the floor, a reckless, rude attitude in his voice, making evident his words are mocking ones.

“Tired of smashing innocent faces within the walls, are we? Or just out to visit your Teraphim pals?” – he measures her disdainfully. He takes a heavy box and shoves it towards Kethra’s arms, taking an over-the-shoulder look towards Harfik. “Go on, put yourself to good use. Or you guards are only good for winning medals and shaking down the poor?” – the others seem to be engaged in their own tasks, unable to hold the third one’s impulsive tongue.

“What ‘bout you, armor-man? Gear down and help up! ‘Sooner we get this done, ‘sooner you’ll leave!” – he turns to Icosa, the same disdain upon his lips. “No princes or captains here…” – he turns to Aanzu – “…so get to working, hero or not! Your food comes from here, after all!” – he gets over his tantrum, and now looks Kethra in the eye, waiting to see if she’ll take the box from his hands.

AANZU

Aanzu’s thoughts go back to the worldly districts of Wallis. Although rare, his countrymen’ presence has been made noticeable… And widely disliked. In here, the proud desert dwellers of dragon descent have made a reputation for themselves as merchants and bankers, incurring in the wrath of many of the locals. Still, as small as dragonborn footing is in this land, it is of undeniable influence.

Therefore, a disrespectful attitude towards Aanzu wouldn’t be entirely surreal or unexpected. The guides manners become less and less a concern to the prince as he glances around, seeing the woodland overgrowth between and above the high stone pillars around, a deviously inviting scenario, if the dark rumors are to be believed.

As he glides his attention through the tall trees, his hunting instincts focus on a single, vague figure leaping behind the tree trunks, thrown in the shades. Eventually, the creature stops, watching the group from behind a few bushes. Concealed like this, she’s hidden from everyone’s eyes but Aanzu’s. A young female face, pale as the sands of Sethmandu, beckons to the prince and the prince alone, her mouth speaking the moniker “Oathbraker” in a slow pace, as if to allow the dragonborn to understand it. Soon enough, a frail, white and delicate hand emerges, signaling for him to come closer through the path, while another, risen to her lips, calls for secrecy.

ICOSA

The warforged’s initial impression that it might be met with oddness is soon left behind. As Icosa trails the road amidst the others, it becomes clear that most people will only see an armor-clad soldier. Such suspicions are confirmed as the third guide demands that Icosa strips to help, clearly thinking the creature’s body to be a clumsy plate mail, or something just as uncomfortable.

Shortly after the third guide’s burst of ‘orders’, though, Icosa realizes something that had gone unnoticed up to this time: a distinct feeling, something the entity had never actively experienced before. It came around as the party first climbed the mountain. It was almost as the sound of the wind through crevices. It got stronger, then weaker, and then it intensified again. By then Icosa had judged the sounds as characteristic of the mountainous winds, and nothing else. But now… As Icosa approached the stone wall in front of the plateau, those gusts of wind became louder, and all of a sudden turned into something similar to the clashing, competing sounds of winds and whispers. The chaotic, strenuous wave became so strong, in fact, that Icosa almost could hear a female voice, strong and inflexible, amidst the polluting sound waves, a voice almost as direct and monotonic as his own…

LYLLIE

Sun rays would easily fall over these mountains, as well as over Wallis. Glimmerdale, though, is doomed to eternal darkness. Lyllie sees a familiar trail forming in the skies. After the disaster that befell her land, strange storms became more and more common, calcinating any living being that dared travel through the forsaken lands of Glimmerdale once more. Another storm was gathering, clear lightning falling from the skies as a warning of the clouds that rolled, black and cruel, up above.

As Lyllie twists her fingers, she recalls how many times she heard infants asking why such storms would hit so many scorched lands, but never the heart of cruelty, back at Wallis. Among many explanations – most of them, bedtime stories to keep children’s hopes up – one was of particular interest to the gnome.

It is said that, a few years after the Fall of the Star, a great sage appeared. It is said that she visited the sacred halls of the Teraphim and betted her soul in a game of life and death. She emerged victorious, and as a prize they gave her the gift to control such storms, sending them away and calling them forth at will. No one knows it there’s any truth to the legend, but as the arcane residues rolled through her fingers, it seemed, for a second, that the clouds answered her gestures, mimicking them in the distance…

Lyllie glances dawn once more, only to contemplate the path they just came from. A few minutes behind, just below her feet, she sees an ox cart coming up, carrying a pair of dwarves and escorted by four others. Clearly, they’ve been followed, either by allies or by opportunists. Suddenly, Lyllie feels as if she’s been watched this whole time...

@Shayuri @industrygothica @Greenmtn @hafrogman @Charwoman Gene @JustinCase
 

hafrogman

Adventurer
Yttrian lays down the maps on the space cleared by Portis. He squints oddly at the girl once he determines she is one, but shrugs to himself internally. If she had her own reasons for protecting her identity, then who was he to judge? He follows along with the maps as she lays out the connections and nods to himself. Her question rouses him from his reverie.

"Me? No. I'm simply cautious. It was assisted with gathering this knowledge by one of the duke's librarians. I'm not much of a scholar."

Distracted from the conversation he turns to listen to the servant's tirade, and the begins putting the maps away in their case again.

"Apparently the wagons must be unloaded now. Time waits for no man... or otherwise."

With the maps safely stowed again, he starts unloading boxes.

OOC: Does the name stumble ring any bells? Is the Duke known for having a young, but impetuous daughter named Portia?
 

Shayuri

First Post
Icosa regards the angry man impassively, then climbs down to help. He doesn't offer a comment to defend himself from the disdain, nor address it, nor correct the man. His experience with such outbursts was that they passed with time, and that speaking directly to them was unproductive. Collecting some boxes, he takes them to where they are being gathered...then pauses, his head tilting back and canting to one side.

His first reaction: Self-assessment. Was he perceiving a pattern that was not actually there? He had often heard other beings describe seeing images in clouds, or on otherwise random phenomena like forests seen at a distance or cliff faces. He himself did not seem to make those associations automatically, though he could see the patterns when pointed out to him. He had never thought he'd heard his name in the random murmurs of a crowd. This didn't necessarily mean he was incapable of such fallacy though; merely that he hadn't encountered the stimulus that would provoke that reaction before.

Looking around, he verified no one else seemed to be reacting to voices on the wind. The conclusion was that it was either a phenomenon he alone was equipped to perceive or a false positive on otherwise perfectly ordinary sensory input.

Was this what he was here for?

Icosa paused in his labors and listened, struggling to filter out the random noise from that elusive voice that danced just on the edge of perception.
 


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