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The Kalarian Precipice - Chapter Six

Carthum could understand the others' quiet displeasure to an extent, but this was a quest that went far beyond their own lives and souls. Perhaps it was all smoke and mirrors of ancient magic, but Carthum had faith that Suru had chosen them for this. It was enough for him.

He agreed with Dain as well- Annit must follow her own path, especially as she seemed so certain of it. But she left with knowledge much as reliance. If they failed, there would be another that knew of their quest.

Perhaps, back in town, they could learn more about the adventurers that had headed north. Perhaps they had signed contracts of their own.

They may well be lost, but that did not mean they should forget about them.
 

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Metea

First Post
The others are a bit somber- forcing Metea to pull back a bit herself. A part of her could not understand why Annit would not accompany them; the restraints of duty aside. Certainly, the others were perhaps thinking such a quest was a duty all of its own.

But Metea? This was opportunity. A trek into the deadly Sands of the North, seeking a tincture unknown to any... there were such secrets to be found and recorded.

It went far beyond duty or altruism. Or heroism.

It was mystery!
 

Otiroth

First Post
There were many questions Otiroth would had liked to ask. About the other paths Immel had mentioned, about Lorica, about the world that lived beneath the feet of Kalair above.

But they did not have time. Or- perhaps they did, but this quest into the depths of the mines had been for more than just answers of where to head next. They had been tested in battle. They had learned more than just a few new spells.

Some things had to be let go.

They would travel north to the sands for all of Kalair- including Immel's people.
 

97mg

Explorer
Ensuring that her guests are rested and nourished, minds sifting through the pieces of a possible future like fragments of some impossibly precious stone, Immel smiles, waiting patiently. Then at last, it appears that the visitors are ready to proceed, to head out to meet a fresh awaiting fate.

“Friends, before you depart from our home, ripe with visions that Lorica has chosen for all, there is one more thing a lady of land and sea may offer. Please, follow me.”

Immel turns and leads you through a short length of tunnel, back to the dais-centered cave. She points to one of the coralesque tables and beckons for you to gather around it. On its top sits an old iron cylinder with a wooden stopper, around the size of a pitcher of ale. Beside it lies a small sack woven from grasses of the seafloor.

“Within this vessel lies a tide’s sacred waters. We have filled it with the well’s strength, an arcane and divine elixir like none other, a fusion of powers from gems that have sat within, their precious magic entwining and mingled. This is Lorica’s will. A handful of her breath, to be taken and meet with the mouth of the world, somewhere… in The Sands.”

“I must of course caution you. The strength within contains chaotic possibilities infinite. A great stew of sorts, formed from magics that sunwalker’s laws conspired to destroy. Healing, death, protection, destruction, love, summoning and beyond. Use not these waters for your own benefit, unless perhaps your very lives and quest depends on it. A dip of a finger is all that can be risked. A mere droplet at crucial opportunities. This is a power that must be respected, learned and protected, and now… Lorica sees fit that you deliver her breath to the beginnings of the earth.”

She slides a hand into the small sack then, grasps something inside, and then opens to reveal her palm before you. Two small stones, clear as a sky and smooth as a spring’s breeze.

“These are seeing stones, formed of a rare chance, a fork of lighting upon sand. Together, they have tumbled in the sea’s depths for years unknown. Like brother and sister, they are kin to one another, for what one sees, so does the other.”


Immel goes on to demonstrate. Looking through one of the small stones reveals the surroundings of the other, as though a set of unattached but still-living eyes.

“These two too, are yours. No distance is beyond their bind.”

Sela enters then. It is time for farewells, and any final questions the visitors may have...

<We have a few options coming up soon. You are welcome to continue dialog with Immel of course, then once you are satisfied, Sela can assist the group in returning to the surface, and we can fast-forward to the next morning in Kalair (party rested and equipped for extensive travel). Or, you are welcome to return to unexplored sections of the mines if you think there could be more secrets hidden and applicable to your cause. Or, perhaps there is something else you’d like to do?>
 

daindarkspring

First Post
Dain - The Afterparty

Reaching into the clay basin, Dain splashed another handful of water on his face, washing off the last bits of soap from where he had shaved. Looking up, he took a moment to stare at his face in the burnished bronze plate that served as a mirror in his small room behind the Apothecary Shoppe. His hair was trimmed, though still long, and his goatee and beard had been cleaned up. The image that stared back at him was a man with a name that he had not been born with, a man with only fragmented images of a life before awaking in Kalair.

Dain Darkspring.

A dark spring indeed, that I sprung from. Oh, Essithea...who am I and why am I here?

He grimaced at himself, and then grinned. "You're here to save the world. Or help end it. So no pressure there, eh?"

He wondered how the others had spent their night back from the mines. Had Jeovanna drowned herself in ale and frightened the patrons with Gnollish war-songs? Did Carthum spend the night kneeling at the shrine of Suru? Were Metea and Otiroth waking up in each other's arms...and tail?

Arse. That's an image to forget!

What about Annit? Dain had gone back and forth over whether to seek the rogue out. There seemed to be something unfinished between them. Or at least, he thought so. The idea that she might be oblivious to the fact, or in the arms of some lover, or in counsel with her father, had stopped him. Now he wished it hadn't.

You could very well die on this journey, you fool. And you may be dying a virgin... He looked at himself again in the bronze plate and then shook his head. ...No, definitely not a virgin.

He had dreamed of Annit the night before, and of Essithea. Twisting bodies, mingling voices. He was probably mad.

Turning, he surveyed the gear arrayed on his sleeping pallet. His request for some stronger leather armor and a shield had been granted. The armor was dark brown, and studded with black plates. The shield was circular and of moderate size, with a black iron boss. Dain himself had stayed up late painting a twisting black tree on its leather-covered surface, reminiscent of the image that had been graven upon his sword. At the bottom of the tree was a wavy black line, representative of a dark pool of water. The darkspring from which he had emerged into Kalair.

There were other things as well, all necessary for a long overland trek. But not so much that it would slow him down.

He began getting dressed and getting packed.

The rest of his life was starting.
 
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Metea

First Post
Metea & Otiroth: Afterparty

It was strange, being back in the city. Metea watched the streets below. Lit only by moonlight and the flickering lights of businesses that had not yet put out their road sconces, the cobbled streets of Kalair's merchant district were quiet and serene. A few people wandered here or there, but it was too early for anyone to be especially drunk. Not in this part of town.

The tiefling ran the pads of her fingers over the amulet around her neck. Beautiful. The darkness did not much matter. And was that music she heard, gently drifting down the street from the door of some nearby club, just out of view?

She certainly heard something. Footsteps. Metea's tail began swishing just slightly, and she'd turn towards the door as it opened.

Otiroth came in, carrying a small pack. He looked troubled, but that look faded and a smile returned as he set down his pack by the door and headed in to join Metea at the window. It was, after all, his loft, overlooking the streets, connected to his master's shop by a collapsing ladder. "Everything is prepared," he said, wrapping his arms around Metea from behind. He'd rest his chin on the top of her head- carefully. He was watching those horns!

Metea held onto his wrist, but other than a few swats at his legs with her tail, she didn't immediately respond.

Upon returning to the city, they'd been busy. Preparing. Metea had called in an old favor with a leather worker- he'd have some basic armor for her ready in the morning, before they left. She could perfect it on the road.

She had not had many people to say farewell to. Her patron, she did not bother to visit in her tomb. She knew. And Carthum and Otiroth- they were coming with her.

Otiroth had been away for much longer. More to do. More to arrange. Metea did not know what he had told his master, but certainly he could not have told him... everything.

There was so much to be told, and if they disappeared into the Sands, no one would ever know.

"I brought us dinner," Otiroth said finally.

If that was a cue to release him, Metea didn't seem to notice it. He didn't let go, either, so it was all even, in the end. "Cheese, some bread, some Surilie wine... well... the wine is only going to be Surilie wine for about an hour," the sorcerer went on, after silence had become nearly uncomfortable.

He'd put together a decent meal, for them, the sort that wasn't always easy to get on the road. His pack was no doubt full of spices of all sorts.

Metea turned around in his grasp. Popped a little kiss on his lips. Then a longer one, because... why not? They were on the precipice of either glory or failure. There could be no half-ways, not for this.

She smiled up at him. Remembered the thrill of his flames, and the terror of his injury.

No going back. This was how it was meant to be. Demon and dragon- to either save the world, or end it.

"It sounds amazing," Metea whispered. "Let's get started."
 

Jeovanna

First Post
Jeovanna: Afterparty

Jeovanna hadn't gone drinking.

Hadn't gone... only drinking.

It, at least, had not been her first stop. And once all was said and done, she had stood in front of her favorite watering hole with a pack slung over one shoulder and a grimace on her lips. The smell of roast meat was tantalizing. The smell of stale hops... even moreso.

People mingled on the streets, walking here and there- even with the sun down, they were rowdy and loose. The whispers of trouble to the north may have reached even the most oblivious citizens' ear by now, but did they care? No. They waited for someone to protect them. To bear up the sword and shield and stride into the abyss on their behalf.

She had been chosen for this. A wolf on the prowl. A protector.

The clank of armored soldiers on city streets. Jeovanna turned to watch the two guards march past. They looked back at her. She recognized both of them, and she knew they recognized her. Not a nod. Just a stare of wary recognition from both sides. They marched on.

And Jeovanna headed in for a drink.
 

Carthum One-Tusk: Afterparty

The church provided. The great god of light listened.

Praise Suru!

Carthum had gone into the great chapel along with a slender, ancient priestess of his order. The two stood alone under the great archways of the temple, below the light everlasting.

Carthum bowed his head in prayer, said the necessary rites. Turned his gaze to the great light above when all was done. And, when he had spoken his piece, the priestess had woven the ancient spells, passed down only in song and secret as such writings were forbidden in Kalair. She had given to the half-orc two vials of pristine water. The liquid seemed almost silvery for a moment- before it settled and faded back into normal water. The delicate vials looked especially tiny in his large orc hands.

The church's quartermaster would have more prepared for his journey. He had had to tell the church little- only that there was a quest Suru demanded of him. They had not questioned it. Perhaps they had known even before he did.

If they had a sturdier armor or shield to spare, he would take it, but Carthum asked for nothing aside from the two vials of holy water he now tucked into a pocket, close to his heart.

He would spend the rest of the afternoon praying, and creating a rough but sturdy leather binding for the black stone, so that he could keep it always easily about his wrist. The leather would protect it from prying eyes.

Praise Suru!

He knew they would succeed!
 

97mg

Explorer
The return to the surface had indeed been relatively uneventful, compared to the treacherous descent. With Sela's help they'd retraced their steps back to the trapdoor with ease. It was then time for painful goodbyes and farewells...

The dwarf was thankful to at last see the light of day and fringes of Kalair in the distance. His saviors, they would always be welcome into his family home now, perhaps on some future day. For now though, he waddled off to reunite with his father, the tale of his brother's demise weighing heavily on his mind.

Annit too had parted ways, a painful departure from those she had so quickly grown to appreciate, befriend and respect. The rogue may even have shed a tear, taking her father's side for the walk back home. But this wasn't the end. One day they would meet again. To her, Lorica had made as much clear.

It was many hours later that a lone skull sat quietly within a perfume shop’s storeroom, hidden away between crates of scented dry flowers and other aromatic oddities.

“Lorrorku dasilidas? Dorrorku lasilidas, no, but I am close,”
he whispered tonguelessly. With freedom had come other things, memories and recollections. Ways to reinterpret past knowledge. Gifts to retwine into something that might be of value. He would join them in their task if they would still have him. Magaw enjoyed their company, and The Sands, such a place was a lure he'd not refuse!

“Kulorror lildasasd.”

A hum in the mind, fuzz in the peripheral vision, he'd done it! Magaw for the space of a few seconds, was nothing but a blur. He smiled to himself with pride.

“Ah Magaw, you still got the goods old friend.”

They'd all be meeting soon. A reunion of cave-met friends to travel once again. The Sands, hopefully one of them had thought perhaps to acquire him a nice little hat?

<We can zap forward to all meeting up and heading off if you like. Let me know where you are off to and by which direction. Who is carrying Lorica's waters? Also, the Seeing Stones. Feel free to have left one with Annit or the Dwarf or someone else if you like.>
 

daindarkspring

First Post
Dain - New Directions

Dain was waiting when the others arrived, sitting on a boulder facing away from Kalair in silent contemplation. His new shield was on his back, along with a pack and his bow and arrows. He was contemplating the mountains, which dominated the horizon to the north.

“I think we should strike for the Toros Swamp, and once there we can keep it on our left and the Eyne River on our right. It will be a hard path, but it will lead us to navigable passes through the mountains. After that…those of us who might still live will face the unknown. Glory or death, that will be our tale.”

Essithea, I know you will be with me. I have bled for you, and will do so again.
 

Otiroth

First Post
Otiroth and Metea had separated in the wee hours of the morning, so they could attend to their last obligations.

Otiroth had been honestly sad at their parting. Their trek through the mines had drawn them closer in ways he could not have expected- and to think, he was once annoyed by her tail pats! Now, well... he could only imagine how their travel on the road would bring them closer. A strange thing to think about, before they went on an adventure that could well end in their deaths.

No. He would not let anything happen to her. Not while he lived.

The sorcerer joined Dain, insofar as anyone could ever 'join' the mysterious ranger. He leaned against a post nearby, waiting for the others to arrive.

The firey-haired man had come in a meticulously well-tailored gambeson- no doubt he had simply left it at home before their trip into the mines- and had a pack at his back. His crossbow was now strapped at his side, though it still did not look particularly well-used! He was a far cry from the ranger in nearly every way possible- but there was still fire in Otiroth's eyes. They were, perhaps, both men that should not be messed with.

In regards to their path northwards, though, Otiroth would defer to the ranger's expertise. He could read a map and a compass alike, but he was no woodsman.

"That path could well take us past some settlements. We will be able to restock- up until the mountains, at least," Otiroth added. "And those north of us may have some information on the Sands, as well." Information they needed? Maybe, or maybe not. If they could get a local to spin them a tale without worrying announcing their purpose- it could be worth it!
 

Metea

First Post
If they failed, it had to be known. So that whoever had chosen them knew to move on to plan B.

Oh... who was Metea kidding? They were definitely already well past plan B.

So, the tiefling had- unless the others had protested- given Annit one of the seeing stones. The other, they'd keep safely tucked away for now. If worse came to worse... they would need to send a message back. Annit and the dwarf were the only ones that knew of their struggle, and the dwarf had been asleep for much of the same!

After leaving Otiroth behind- Magaw once more stuffed into her pack, the poor fellow- Metea had tried to get some decent sleep. It had been elusive, though, and she'd woken up early. Early, for her. Packed what she felt she needed, and then headed to the leather worker's shop to pick up his wares. He had leather armor on hand, of course, but Metea's dimensions- and Metea's tail- were not quite on the average.

As she joined the others, the fact that she'd already taken to a bit of modifying of her new armor was obvious enough. Her feathers looked a bit ruffled too, which she hated, but hey- they would be on the road! They'd all look a bit ruffled by the end.

Otherwise, the only obvious thing Metea had picked up was a walking stick- and that was just from the side of the road as she headed on. She figured, if Magaw wanted to ride along he could perch on top of the stick as well, if he didn't want to hide in her pack or couldn't float around due to mixed company.

Despite her earlier bravado... she was suddenly quite frightened! Who was she, to think she could travel through the wilds?

But I am not alone! You... and the others... they are still with me!
 

Carthum had awoken with the sun. His final prayer in Kalair had been in the great chapel, just one of many priests and worshippers there to receive the words of Suru and the sermon of the high priestess. The other priests did not know of his mission, but he did carry with him a shield bearing the holy symbol of Suru. Should he meet his brothers on the road, well- perhaps they might have heard of a half-orc cleric.

But the priestess, her sermon had been one that Carthum had never heard before. A tale of one of Suru's many great adventures, burning evil from the mortal realm.

It had left the half-orc inspired.

He arrived soon after Metea, his armor and shield looking well-tended and fresh.
 

Jeovanna

First Post
Jeovanna arrived after the others. But not too much after.

The others seemed to have put together their traveling best, but Jeovanna really looked no different. She had her pack, same as before. Perhaps some additional materials inside of it- she was still working on something. Might've finished it in the night, if not for the other thing that had kept her up.

Impossible to say how much she'd had to drink. Impossible. But also impossible, perhaps, for her not to look as if she had just been in a brawl of some sorts very recently.

She managed a grimace in greeting at the others, bangs hanging in her blue eyes. She had to admit, she thought, teeth gritted, she was quite fond of this lot. It was a shame Annit could not accompany them. The skull was a curious companion indeed, but the tiefling liked him.

"If we head out now, we will miss the morning merchants," Jeovanna added. "Once we pass the crossroads, well, we might meet anyone coming or going... though there may be fewer on the roads than normal."

Fewer friendly folks, at least. Otiroth was likely right. They'd run into people willing to tell stories from the north. People who had fled the towns and villages there, just like others who had come fleeing into Kalair.

Hrmph. She was ready to get out of the city. She was already thirsty.
 

97mg

Explorer
The Head of Staff, a role that Magaw had toyed with in a distant life. The head of a staff? What a twisted fate it had been since deprivation of body and limb had featured in a more recent existence, of confinement and restriction. But the old skull was free! He had no qualms in adorning a tiefling’s walking aid. Why not preserve some energy, and at the same time give the pretty woman an extra air of “dont mess with me,” as though the horns and tail weren’t enough. It was the perfect disguise, and far better than loitering in a woman’s backpack. Magaw had had his fill of tight spaces, for obvious reasons.

The skull had to be careful though. He had no intention of getting his inquisitively attractive mount stoned or hanged. When in view of anyone other than their party, he’d need to be still, and quiet. Slowly and cautiously rotating upon the staff, like some head atop a child’s unfinished stick-figure, Magaw took it all in. Light. Morning. A sky of yellow hue, the sun above concealed behind a layer of dusty smog. Heat. It sure was warmer than he’d expected, and a scorcher of a day was definitely on the cards. Still, compared to a room intersected by seams of red-hot coals, it was pleasant enough in comparison.

They were all here, the ones theorised to end the corruption of The Sands, in one way or another. What an unlikely group of travel mates they must have seemed to passers by. But in diversity, came strength.

“I guess it is time then, I must say, Kalair hasn't changed at all.”
Magaw whispered. “Are we to take the beaten track, or an off-road path this day?” A wander north through the outskirts, and then it would probably be forests for the next day or two.

Somewhere to the south Annit plunged her foot down upon a timber foothold, linked to an iron pivot. The contraption was old, but it still did it's job. A bit of pedal-power got the grindwheel spinning, and to it an arrow’s head was run left to right in thickly gloved hands. She hadn’t slept. Her mind begged for distraction, something repetitive and mundane to direct attention away from… other things.

“Done.”


She tossed it into a small wooden bucket to lie with some completed cousins. For a moment, her hand drifted to a bench where other unfinished work lay in waiting. Then, biting her lip, the rogue’s fingers retreated.

“Just a quick look.”

From a pocket she extracted a small clear stone. It was a secret she’d not even shared with her father, yet. Smooth and cold, she held it up and peered inside, wondering where it's twin might be. Probably concealed, if they were wise… but even seeing the darkened bowels of a backpack, or the dusty depths of a pocket, would be something of a reassurance. She missed them greatly, but her hands were tied, at least for now. Perhaps in a night or two she’d stop by at the dwarf’s place. A friendly drink, and also an opportunity to ensure that those little lips weren’t prone to any unwanted wagging.

<Just need to know what general formation you are travelling in, and if moving by road or roughing it. Feel free to head off a little way (an hour?) in your next post, and then I’ll set a scene for you :) Make stealth / nature etc checks at your leisure, and if anything interesting pops up I’ll let you know. Has anyone’s AC increased due to new gear? I just need to update my reference sheet of stats.>
 

daindarkspring

First Post
Dain - The Journey Begins

Dain led the group across tracks and trails that were familiar to him. They ranged through fields, along small creeks, and occasionally over fences. He was mirroring the main road, but staying clear of it, which in his mind was the best option. He himself was out in front, though he often turned to check on the status of the others. It was important he know what kind of pace they were capable of as a group, now that they were out in the open and not confined to narrow mine tunnels.

His intent was that in the evenings, as much as was possible, they would stay in small local inns. This was where the more persuasive of their group could try and glean information on the situation in the far north. It would also help that they would not burn through their hard rations, which would be much needed once they reached the mountains.

Dain kept his eyes open and his senses alert, though he kept seeing fluttering war banners out of the corner of his eye, and thought he heard the clomping of warhorse’s hooves. But they were fractured memories, or bouts of his imagination, and nothing more.

Your mind will wander itself off of a cliff one of these days! Focus your thoughts, you arse!

<Nature check = 5>
<Survival check = 23>
 

Otiroth

First Post
Otiroth could not pretend to be as savvy as the ranger, but he seemed to keep up relatively well as they moved on. The sorcerer's stamina was more a natural talent than a practiced one.

They chatted very little. At least... Otiroth was fairly quiet. His mind and his eye were wandering.

He felt on the brink of some unique new burst of power. His new scales, whom no doubt Metea had explored more than him at this point, held promise of power. And this trip held promise as well.

But it was possible to check for more than one thing at a time! If they could not reach an inn, well, they would still have to eat, and better to check the bounty of the forest before their rations. He was relatively familiar with the edible plants around Kalair... it would be when they reached further north that they would truly be tested.

<Survival check=15>
 

Carthum's position in the line seemed to change as they walked, but he was not entirely moving at random. No, he was keeping a close eye on the group more than the natural forests around them. When his attention did wander, it was to the sky above- the glory of the sun was waiting to grace them, he was sure. Even through the forest's canopy!

He was not sure their first night out would be best spent at an inn- this close to the city, they were unlikely to learn anything new. Camping under the stars would teach them much more! It was, after all, decent different than camping underground.

But first, to the order of the day! "Suru! Protect our steps!" The priest murmured, drawing a symbol of blessing over his chest. Let their first steps upon their quest be ones of purpose!

<Cantrip- guidance>
<Stealth check- 13+4= 17>
 

Jeovanna

First Post
Jeovanna mostly stayed near the back. She had their backs. It went without saying, really.

And sure, she might've looked especially irritated, and taken a drink or two from her wineskin on the way... but hair of the hyena that bit you, right?

<Perception check=13>

Otherwise, she was more interested in keeping the team's profile low as opposed to worrying much about hunting. At this point, a venison meal would just attract attention- they were too close to town. She'd do what she could to mitigate the noise and tracks the others were leaving- brushing out the odd foot print left behind in the mud with the side of her shoe, watching out from any other signs of their passage.

And, for the most part, she said not a word.

<Stealth check=16>
 

Metea

First Post
Metea spent a good bit of her time with her nose in her tome as they walked- one hand with the tome out, one with the walking stick. She seemed to be relying on this a bit- hiking out in the woods was much different from dungeon delving. A lot more walking, less resting... Metea was not made for this! Ah, she should've tried to bargain for a horse before she left!

It was fair to say that Metea's mind was not on the world around them. More on the team, really.

"Jeovanna! So surly. You might be prettier if you drank less. Or brushed your hair, maybe. Nevermindit. We'll talk at the next tavern."

What an adventure so far!

<Nature check=7>
<What is nature?>
 

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