5E The Kalarian Precipice - Chapter Two

97mg

Villager



The Kalarian Precipice - Chapter Two


The first days of Marix Isle’s new year were greatly tainted by Pesserl’s arduous naming ceremony. It was as though the heavens themselves were angered, endlessly overcast and seething with grey. But there were no cooling showers or rain cast down onto the lands, and the true meaning of Pesserl’s words had begun to fuel suspicion, doubt and a sense of unease among the southern citizens.

A week later the mountain dwellers came.

The swiftest among them to bare the news, dwarves and hardened tribal folk, arrived in Kalair upon horses and sometimes more wild of beasts. They brought tales of great devastation. Sand whirling through the sky, whipped upwards by great gales and then cast down to pepper the earth with blazing heat. Whole communities torn apart by winds and inhabitants of caves dying from a simple loss of breath. Great packs of animals fleeing in fear down the slopes and trampling all who stood in their way. It sounded like a most horrific natural disaster, until they spoke of that which followed.

These winds that had arisen in The Sands, the cursed and barren desert behind Marix’s peaks, had disturbed and awoken other things. The hillspeople weren’t the only refugees making their way to civilisation. Creatures unheard of, were said to be passing through the mountains to leave nothing but death in their wake. Serpents with horns, great armies of scurrying ants the size of a man, scorpions with tails some two storeys high…

The news spread like fire through Kalair, though how much was truth was impossible to surmise. Alas, the mountain folk were well known for their pension for tales and building from molehills. The council did all it could to see the refugees safely housed around Cillat, a sparse town that might benefit from the extra hands. It was also a strategic decision, a perfect place from which to scout and assess the truth of nature’s new threats. They hoped that soon enough the issue would retreat of its own accord.

-----

Some days later in the dark corner of a nondescript room, quiet words were spoken. They discussed old allegiances, friendships and the mingling of blood. Facts and theories were toyed with, presented and argued. Marix Isle’s very history was brought to the table, as six sets of eyes sifted through what might be, digging the sands of time for a glimmer of truth. The possibilities were many and the risks greater still. Together they would work to see their people’s needs met, above the law and beyond the council’s realm of influence.

-----

Carthum & Metea & Otiroth: The half-orc’s visit to the law office was a short one, only an hour or two in fact, as it seems the guard was more interested in making a point and blowing off some steam, than causing any harm to Carthum or his reputation. Perhaps a good thing that the church and the council are able to see eye to eye, as you expect some politics might have come into the equation, but nothing is said of the matter during your following days at Suru’s church.

News of the fate of the hillspeople is obviously on the lips of many of the church-goers during the following week, and then you are both summoned by Elle, one of the elders. In a private meeting she offers Carthum a task, that he may take in service to the church and as a reinforcement of his new priestly status. You are told to be at the fields near the southern cliff faces, directly above the old Cinto mines at first light. Carthum is invited to bring his sister, as they understand that your bond with the Tiefling brings strength, and that together the sum might achieve more than the one. You are told to pack well and are provided rations, but the nature of the task won’t be made clear to you until making it to the meeting place.

Naturally, once word of this is passed from Metea to Otiroth the young sorcerer can hardly contain himself! He pretty much invites himself along. Perhaps he has mentioned a little of this to The Burning Rose, and they agree that he should follow the priest in order to collect any information that may be valuable to them. Otiroth would be a fool to assume that in some way Suru’s church and The Burning Rose don’t share something of a shaky allegiance.

Dain & Jeovanna: Over the course of a day, the ranger deciphers the markings on the wooden disc, a bear on its face and a bridge on its rear, to be a very old tavern on the far outskirts of Kalair called The River Bear. Going there and eventually showing the unusual token to the barkeeper, he simply says “there is no news for you this day, perhaps tomorrow” and refuses to comment further.

You visit every day at first dark, hoping for the young woman to be there, but each time you are simply told there is no news. Until last night. He passed you an old scrap of paper which simply reads, “The grounds above Cinto mine. First Light. Bring strength you trust” Below the words are a sketch of an apple, a bucket and a broken ceramic pot.

Being a nice quiet drinking hole, you invited Jeovanna along that fateful night to share a tale or two, and there is a good chance she will want to accompany you on the strange visit to Kalair’s southern cliffs of black.
 
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97mg

Villager
All: Sun rises in Kalair's fields

This is no average summer. For the past few days Marix Isle’s daylight sky has shifted to a permanent tinge of deepest yellow. The haze locks down a heat upon the land which seems to grow more thick and life-leaching with each passing breath.

A hot wind gusts from the north as you tread one of Kalair’s seaside fields. Well, seaside with a sheer five hundred yard drop to a distant water’s edge. The grass beneath your feet, once green and filled with vigor, is dry and parched as you step towards the slowly rising sunlight of dawn. The landscape is truly flat and featureless, making the great tower far to your right appear even more powerful, and maybe even grotesque with it's vertical form clawing at the sky.

Ahead, you catch sight of the only signs of life. The dark silhouette of a man and a slimmer, shorter person, eclipsed as shadows before the rising disc of the morning sun. Drawing closer you see that he is hard at work with a shovel, breaking up a section of earth before tossing it clump by clump to the side. Given the size of the pile, it seems he may have been at work here for quite some time.

Closer still, you make out his features. A well-aged man with long strands of salty hair pouring from his head. Simple linen pants and shirt protect his time-withered skin from the heat of the sun, and a pair of bright, strangely youthful and alert eyes greets you as you near.

These eyes are familiar to some of you. Their deep brown glimmer and life is reflected in the girl’s. Yes, a familiar face to some of the visitors. She stands beside him, turning to watch as you approach. It is none other than the young woman who charged down Kalair’s streets, causing quite a stir just those few weeks before.

Her brown hair blows in the wind as she watches you. She seems better dressed this time, a black silken top and a pair of thin leather pants grace her well formed and run-loving legs. To her side lies a hessian sack, clearly full of something as it seems the stitching could easily burst.

“Greetings!” She calls out, waving.

“Let's be quick about it, the contracts,” the old man says, leveraging another shovel load of grit out from the dry ground.

The young woman unties the sack, and from within draws out a handful of scrolls. One for each of the assembled.

-----

Dear Friend,

It is with both fear and pride in our hearts that we ask this of you. We who have brought you to intersect this day are formed of both people you know, and strangers you shall likely never meet. Somewhere upon our wondrous Isle lies for each of you, somewhere, a soul with firm belief that your spirit, strength and heritage, is now to become a gift.

Hidden from the workings of Dolstian Law we have always lingered, alert, aware, and ready for a generation when the very rulings of our leaders should work against us, the people. The dismissal of our great land’s truest beauty is a weakness. The repression of ancient arts has disarmed us. It was a price to pay for our times of peace, but those days are now on a terminal path.

Our enemy is no longer ourselves. We have learned through the great rebellions of the past, the shedding of sacred blood, that all might live as one.

But now the one needs you, though they do not understand. The stories of the hillspeople have been confirmed, and if there was time we would show you how it was even foretold. But this is time we do not have. To protect our people we must abandon the laws of our people, and gather a quiet strength to fight The Sand’s threatening shift, before all we know, the very earth before your feet, also turns to granular dust.

This young lady, Annit Caliorl and her father Gerralos, have been treading the path of our cause for quite some time. As did their ancestors. And the ancestors of their ancestors. Protecting secrets until a day like this may come.

We ask you to help them in every way that you can. To assist them, in what we hope to be a simple confirmation of facts beneath this earth.

In return, you may walk with a knowing that we, the silent ones, are watching over you. That we, the knowing ones may impart great knowledge to you. That we, the olden ones, bow to you with respect for all that may come to pass.

We ask you to make a choice. Now. To accept your future as one who worked against a plague now threatening extinction. To work and live beyond the boundaries and prying eyes of Dolstian Laws for us, quietly and with purpose.

Or to walk away, and never have your name written by us again. You will be forgotten, and allowed to live out these final days as you wish, though they may indeed be numbered.

-----

There is a small section at the base of the page, reserved for you to make your mark. By the time you have finished reading, Annit has dripped a traveler's quill in a small pot of ink. One by one she offers you the writing device and smiles.

<If you haven't already, please make sure your current known spells and any non-standard equipment is listed on your sheets.>
 
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Carthum One-Tusk: Fields

Carthum had been oddly subdued- spending much time in his quarters, deep in prayer. He sought to understand things much deeper than failed intuition. The church had said nothing to him, and his prayers were quiet, though his room was bright. The opportunity to set out on a quest was a welcome respite from doubt.

Running into Dain and his tall friend was surprising enough; they were heading in the same direction, it seemed. Very curious, but a welcome traveler was a welcome traveler!

The half-orc wiped some sweat from his brow with one hand, leaving his hand to linger there as he took in the approaching figures. His jaw set, but he would take the 'contract', albeit quite suspiciously. "Did you nick these as well?" He'd ask the slim human, as he was still a bit sore over the whole ordeal.

Still, as he read it, the doubt returned. Had Suru indeed sent a message, or was the half-orc once more following his failed intuition down stumbling rabbit holes? He wanted dearly to believe in all that was written in the letter.

"My path lies with the church of Suru- my contract with Him, to defend the innocent and the meek. Ink on paper means nothing to an oath. Why do you require it? If you do not trust we will help you, then why deliver the letters at all?"
 

Jeovanna

Villager
Jeovanna- Fields

News on the road was not good. The sun itself seemed to be staging an assault on the city and the forests around it.

Jeovanna accompanied Dain, and though they'd barely spoken, she seemed to be taking the situation as seriously as he. She was not even drunk! This trip held meaning to him, though, and if there would be some way she could help, she'd not flinch away from it.

Meeting up with the three from the festival was an odd coincidence. And Jeovanna had not seen enough of the woman they'd been chasing to know for sure it was her, aside from watching the others' reactions to her!

She'd take the piece of parchment, sniff in irritation.

Now, Jeovanna could write well enough, and speak words back. Well enough to get by in the city, at least. She'd not need to have anyone guide her through finding street names or sign posts. This writing was a bit more fancy, and a good deal of it went over her head. Her father had taught her well enough not to sign things she didn't understand! So she'd watch the others for a moment, just see what their reactions could tell her.
 

97mg

Villager
Gerralos & Annit with all

The young woman smiles as Carthum regards the paper with suspicion.

"Nick them? I'm honored that you might think I could do so. No. Like you I am a servant to the innocent believe it or not, a collector of sorts, working to protect our people by acquiring information, and other things that will be needed to see our land's peace returned."

The old man stops his digging for a moment and also looks to the half-orc.

"You are right to have questions. Best to ask them now, but be quick about it, our time here is limited. Nobody is questioning your faith or prior contracts lad," he states in deep but apologetic voice.

"The work to be done is not Suru's alone. Several groups, faith's and schools of pre-Dolstian thought have reached their conclusions, one and the same. Sad perhaps that it takes turmoil within The Sands to see them reach agreement. By marking the page, you are accepting the support of not just Suru alone. The situation, as you have no doubt heard, is dire."

He waves his hand in an arc before all in the gathering.

"Do not underestimate the complexities of what is required of you. You are symbols of an allegiance to reclaim this land's sacred strengths, and it will take more than a church, a hidden conclave of magic-wielders, a society of pickpockets, or an old man digging to see it done. They know the risks you assume by acceptance, but they will endeavor to protect you, just as they have protected myself and my bloodline. Let it be said that you are not alone. There are folk of similar innate potential, right now, marching towards the mountains on there behest. You, I think, have received a far fairer task, though most likely a more important one."

He picks up the shovel again and stabs its nose into the dirt.

Clang!

"That's the sound of iron on iron. An old entry to the earliest workings of the mine below, untouched for more years that you might count. It is uncharted save for this entry, and an exit down level with the sea. Over these cliffs our people poured their magic, stones and greater potential in a war against greed. Now they must be re-discovered, as greed is to be the last of our woes. The scales have tipped, friends, and in our weakness new horrors arise to take our place."

"You are thinking that these written words might be used against you, are you not? They shall not leave this place nor touch another's hands. Perhaps if one of you might have the courage to sign, or mark the page, you can be witness to the fading of such fear."

He returns to work then, prying at an iron plate's edge with his shovel, using his weight against it as leverage but failing to open the door any more than a crack.
 

Metea

Villager
Metea- Fields

A good day. The promise of secrets was tantalizing. Of course, Metea recognized the tactics the man used well enough- quite bold. She'd been called a coward for not climbing the bell tower once by miserable city urchins as a child, and all her bravery had done for her was give her a tweaked tail. Still, she'd bite, if only out of morbid curiosity.

The tiefling was not afraid of putting quill to parchment. She already had a pact, though she'd not mention it in front of Carthum of course. It took precedence over... whatever this was.

"A few pretty words for our souls? How dashing," Metea smiled, showing off pointy little teeth, but she'd take the quill and jot a symbol of a feather on the line. She wasn't daft enough to sign her actual name, but even if she had, and the lot ran off to the guards to crow about conspiracy... well, she'd just lie about it and claim to have no idea.

How would the council tell who had penned the symbol?

Magic?

I will whisper secrets darker than that ink, sweeter than her flesh.
 
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Otiroth

Villager
Otiroth: Fields

"My mother taught me never to sign my name to an agreement to commit a crime," Otiroth smirked. But, well, he was intrigued, or perhaps emboldened by Metea's action.

Intrigued, and more than a bit miffed. The man spoke out of turn, but, well, perhaps they should see just how committed to bit he was. Otiroth was confident enough, at least in Metea and Carthum, to know that they'd stand by him. Dain and the giantess seemed of a sort to be amenable as well.

He'd wave off the ink and quill. Honestly.

Otiroth tapped the line with one finger, and a small symbol of a flame appeared on the line; as if in ink, but certainly anything but.

<Spell casting: cantrip, prestidigitation to create a small symbol, will last 1 hour.>
 
Dain - Fields

Essithea had sent dreams in the days following the naming ceremony. Dark, warm dreams. Dreams of dark shadows and pale flesh, of deep earth and twisting roots, like slick limbs entwined and clenching. A downfall? Sometimes Dain felt like he was falling, down, into the earthy embrace of the goddess with the deep eyes. She whispered to him. Of secrets. She asked of him favors. Offerings.

A cut on his finger, blood drawn from his ancient blade, the red droplet running down in a meandering line along the edge, to drop slowly and steadily into a small hole in the ground. For her.

******

Dain had nodded in acceptance when he had finally received a note from the barkeep. He had waited, because he had no choice but to wait. As something gathered above the peaks, he had waited. His forays had been quicker, and he had encountered many who fled from the high places and the deep woods.

When the day came that he and Jeovanna traveled to the meeting place, his eyes looked ever to the mountains and his mouth was a firm line. Was something finally happening? Bring strength he could trust. His outcast companion had strength, and she had never given him cause not to trust her. Though they had surely not been tested yet.

Seeing the others, it all began to make some sense. The reason behind it. And when he saw the girl he had chased, when he heard the tale she wove with her father....it seemed obvious to him. They spoke of risk. Of allegiance to a cause. Of change. For Dain, it was the first culmination of something that had started during the days before the naming ceremony. A feeling of buildup, of preparation.

For this.

He signed his name without hesitation. Was it even his name? He, a man with no past. It was easy enough to give himself to a cause, even if it was doomed.

But he spoke sparingly as he read and signed, instead watching the others and gauging them in turn by their choice, and how they carried it out.

Pulling his sword free, he buried it with a look of piety into the parched earth before him. "By this sword, and by this hand, I will serve this cause to its end. Be it victory or defeat, exultation or death."

I dream of you.
 

97mg

Villager
Gerralos & Annit with all

Carthum and Jeovanna: You watch with curiosity, some well-founded anxiety perhaps, as your colleague's contracts are marked. The immediate physical results come as quite a surprise to everyone. In their very hands the parchments all share a similar fate, beginning to slowly crinkle and curl before falling through the cracks betwixt their fingers as the pages turn to dust, blown south to the seas by a hot prevailing wind.

No souls or lives have been taken or signed away this morn, however there are repercussions for those that have agreed to the terms, that for now you remain oblivious to.


Metea: You are overcome by an alertness and something of an awakening within, as the familiar sounds of your patron’s whispering lips commence an unexpected discourse with your mind.

“This is good my friend, my one, the narrow space between our world’s splits further. No wall falls without first the tracing of a deep dark line. I reach to touch you from below, knowing you feel me stronger now. Here, let me offer you a breath through the stones and miles between us.”

Then the voice is gone as swiftly as it came. Your patron has bestowed a gift upon you, of that you are certain. But this is a secret that will take time to truly know, left now to grow and manifest itself at some later time... of the patron’s choosing.


Otiroth: In the few moments it takes the page to wither and become one with the wind, you are gripped by a warm embrace. Heat brushes your skin as the world before you blurs. Below you, with great clawed wings beating, you look down upon the Isle’s rugged shoreline as you trace it from above. You sense pockets of power like stars below you, twinkling like a dragon’s lair where treasures lurk in the dark, illuminated only by the soaring light of your breath.

The vision fades as you turn inland to fly above the volcanic ranges of Alath between the Isle's peaks and the barren northern waste. Bursts of flame arise from the mountain’s tops as you pass and lava spills searing and unstoppable, as it leaks northwards and steams upon the sands.

Returning to reality, you feel more deeply the presence of your mysterious ancestry, pumping through your blood like trails of molten earth. Alath. You know now that somehow, someday, you will find answers there.


Dain: The parchment leaves your hands as you lift the quill from the page, joining with those others marked, now one with the air and traveling as the hot breeze demands. An eerie silence surrounds you, standing with your sword at one with the dirt. For a moment all is still, quiet and filled with peace, until once again you hear the whisk of wind against your ears and the presence of those around you.

Looking to the pommel of your sword you know that some kind of significant change has just occurred, but for now the effects or cause of this are nothing but a mystery and a scratching in the back of your mind.

<Dain: Should / when you extract the sword from the ground, please pause for me to quickly describe something for you.>
 
Carthum One-Tusk: Fields

"Metea," the protest comes too late to do any good, and Carthum is left watching the parchment curl and ripple in her hands until it is no more.

His next thoughts are his own, but one fate remains clear- whatever his sister does, he must protect her. Even if it is from her own mistakes. He does not agree with much of what is happening here, and he does not trust the woman; but he does trust his god.

Grimacing, the half-orc would sign with his mark as well- as with the others, he does not put down a name, but a mark of a shield.
 

Jeovanna

Villager
Jeovanna- Fields

"Such hand-wringing," Jeovanna said, though she seemed only confident now having gleaned the same confidence from her companions. The long and short of the whole thing was immaterial

She did not have an especially fancy mark, or even a true signature, but the two marks were in Gnollscript- typically drawn with a claw- and probably meant what she thought they did.

See? She acted alongside the others, even if they made it look much nicer than she did. There was one thing she could do, though. "Stand aside," she'd instruct the digger, and would put her muscles to work on wrenching open the iron 'door' which had been left at only a crack before.
 

97mg

Villager
Gerralos & Annit with all

Carthum: Unlike those who have signed before you, your parchment does not immediately degrade. Instead, you can only watch as the ink gradually fades away, then olden script begins to fill the page as though brushed by an invisible hand. The style is familiar but the language is foreign. The grace of the lettering. The angles of the strokes. The same hand who crafted the sacred print that you so treasure? It is a possibility.

As you attempt to understand or seek patterns in the text, the page finally begins to age before your very eyes, wrinkling and breaking apart, and you can’t help but wonder if a blessing has been bestowed upon you as you commit the last sentence to memory.

Ari yovln Suru, impartia kalorus valenno daccetith.

You won’t be forgetting those words any time soon, hopefully, as a sneaking suspicion creeps up on you that you’re going to need them, in one way or another.
 

97mg

Villager
Gerralos & Annit with all

Jeovanna: For you this is something of a sobering experience, but thankfully only temporary. It is hard to accept or breach the denial of what regular intoxication has done over the years. Not to mention the wild mood and weapon slinging which has lived with you since those Gnoll-filled days. The choices you’ve made along the way to reach this point have been almost primitive and “pure”. Forever living in the present, it comes as quite a surprise to recollect something, an old memory, oft submerged in drink and the haze of life’s daily battle.

“Gnoohl sasitck,” the Gnoll named Blutith says. The guttural words are hard to translate into common, but “hunt well,” would probably suffice. So rare, for such devious and misunderstood beasts to have treated you as kin. These were friends, family and mentors. Their violent and instinctive ways satisfied a hunger within you, an empty pit filled by the comradeship and acceptance of being one among a pack.

Reaching forwards, the old friend snatched your hand to draw a claw across your palm. Not one to hold back, the wound is deep and red. Then, taking your hand to his lips, a salivorous tongue licks at your gash. There is no greater honor. This is a promise, an understanding, that though you abandon the pack to fight the future of your own accord, you are recognized as one of them… for life.

He was the last to bid you goodbye on the fateful day of leaving their territory to your past, his final words to you “collack slis-e-dar,” or “when you return, we will be ready”.

The Gnolls had access to things that a mere human would never understand. A knowledge of duality. A pact with ancient darkness that perhaps, to this day, is the one thing that can cause you true fear.

The moment of clarity begins to leave you then, your page already gone from your grasp as you imagine Blutith smiling as best a Gnoll may. He knows that your mark is theirs. He knows the fight ahead is yours, yet the battle it may sway is a Gnoll’s. Somewhere towards the hills they are there, in the present, where a hunter has now become prey.

As you step forward purposely to assist the old man, he nods with respect and allows you to put strength to test against the old iron. With ease the door is loosened, the grit on its edges bouncing down a few tired looking steps and disappearing from sight.
 
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Metea

Villager
Metea- Fields

Metea basked in the voice of her patron; felt its wills and desires filter from its unknowable source to her. In that second, she learned another secret about her mentor, and it was a good one to know.

If this delve into the earth was part of what her pact needed from her, then it was obvious she would do it. The tiefling opened her eyes after a moment, and frowned when she saw Carthum's expression. "It is okay," she murmured, laying a hand on his arm, but she'd step back as he signed his own sigil to the paper.

It was the beginning of a new era in their lives. It this wretched heat and drought were as unnatural as they seemed, then perhaps this would be a way to alleviate the misery.

Metea wandered over towards Jeovanna as she tore open the door, peering around the woman to get a look into the darkness.
 

Otiroth

Villager
Otiroth: Fields

The feeling is akin to grasping a hot coal. Grasping birthright.

It is invigorating- enough so to leave the frail body returned to feeling more than ever as such. The feeling of fragility passed quickly, but the ecstasy of flight and fire lingered on.

Truth.

Otiroth gave the others a very stern look, though. They were about to descend into a very dangerous place. "There's likely worse than just rats down there now," Otiroth said. "What exactly are we looking for down there?"

He had read that all gemstones had been cast into the sea. Perhaps magical items? The Burning Rose had horded some, but most everything had been lost. That there might have been some so close to town all this time...
 
Dain-Fields

A moment of mystery, but also a moment of hope. A glimmer of something from the twilight that was his past, leading perhaps to a brighter future?

Staring at the pommel of his sword, Dain pulled it free of its earthly sheath slowly, shaking the bits of dirt free from its edge.

He was hardly aware of the opening of the hatch that led deep into the mountain. But he would not fear the dark places, not if he had a cause.
 

97mg

Villager
Metea: Peeking down into the hole you are pleased that here at least, is not a sheer drop. A set of rough earthen steps appears to lead downwards, and though in places the compacted dirt looks to have suffered erosion, they are set within hardwood braces which have survived the test of time. The aroma rising from the depths is damp, earthy, and even a little salty.

Dain: Retrieving your sword, you know at once that something has changed as your tug it back into the morning air. Lighter. More balanced. Turning the dark blade in the light, you see shifting reflections running down it's length on both sides, only visible when set it at certain angles to the sun. From the hilt, a line glints like an opal’s fire in the light, a shape with strong resemblance to the base of a tree. From there, silvered branches spread across the blade only to rejoin just before the tip.

<We'll let Carthum react next, then I'll post for the NPCs>
 
Carthum One-Tusk: Fields

Ari yovln Suru, impartia kalorus valenno daccetith.

The words repeated in his head over and over again. Enticing. Mysterious. Maybe for one moment, the half-orc understood why his sister spent so much time creeping dark places; after all, what was shadow without light?

Ari yovln Suru, impartia kalorus valenno daccetith.

Suru had guided him here. He must believe it, or go mad.

"Well. There lies our path," he grunted, nodding towards the hole that fell away into darkness. Carthum could see fairly well in the dark, but he knew not all of his companions could. "A pit into the past, but far less friendly that the catacombs beneath the temple. Can you name what we are seeking, or is it shrouded in sand as well?"

That was not asked unkindly, for what it was worth. Sometimes, 'we shall know when we see it' was a valid response... especially when dealing with such gateways into the forgotten.

Ari yovln Suru, impartia kalorus valenno daccetith.
 

97mg

Villager
Gerralos & Annit with all

Gerralos and his daughter have been quiet, respectfully letting everyone absorb the personal nature of their profound recent events. The old man looks proud, enjoying the curious show, watching your changing expressions and body language.

Then he speaks once more.

“Maybe the powers that be, had it right afterall.”

Looking to Otiroth and Carthum he adds, “Now, I can tell you.”

“Friends, these steps lead to an isolated depth that may well pre-date the Cinto Mines. I say isolated because nobody entering via the usual route...” he points off to the cliffs, “has found other access to this passage as far as we know. Back, long before even my great grandparents were babes, when the mines were operational, the only way in was a perilous descent down the faces by rope or ladder. Many brave souls were victims to the seas below, losing their lives to the allure of riches and power. But there were mines even older than those.”

“Before the years of gems, it is possible that an unsuspecting worker of these fields found something of interest and commenced a dig. As far as I am aware there are no public records of this fact, however. Now the next part is speculation to say the least. Some cliff miners reported the existence of a cave, somewhere near the water’s edge, but it was blocked, and not likely the doing of nature alone. Rockfalls are rare here, you will be pleased to know.”

“The task upon us is to carefully explore the old workings below, for if any magically imbued crystals are left, this is where they might lie. We will finish the work that someone unknown began for us in the ages before. Why bother with crystals, you might ask? Take care my friends. They have a seductive power and attraction indeed, and from them we hope to ignite the innate potential of our peoples against their venomous threat. But that is not all... we also hope to find the sea-level cave and find a way through at the base of the cliffs. Only then will we know that our task is done.”

“As for rats. Yes. You are wise to assume that old ground may hold not only old stones, but old enemies also. It would be wise to beware of that which lives in darkness. Stay alert. Someone went to great effort to dig and protect this place, and they may have left surprises for the unsuspecting.”

He turns to Annit then and simply says, “the stone.”

She slides an arm into their large sack and feels about for something, eventually pulling out what looks like a plain old river pebble.

“My aged bones, as you might suspect are not up to this task. I send my daughter with you instead, as to her I have imbibed as much knowledge as will fit between those ears. When you are ready to return here, simply hold that stone and say my name. I will come back to unearth the door as quickly as I am able. Within that sack are torches, rations, a rope ladder and several small mining tools as well. Take your time. Tread carefully. Don’t let the darkness overcome you.”

<If anyone proceeds downwards, the steps are wide enough for two people to walk side-by-side. I'll let you guys decide the "marching order" among yourselves. Place Annit wherever you like in the procession.

We need a volunteer for the esteemed role of map-maker. Rather than providing maps along the way, I thought it might be fun if someone (who has time) might like to map the mines based on their interpretation of the descriptions along the way. Perhaps distributed by email, and I'll host the images and pop them in the thread from time to time. Draw and scan, or create digitally, up to you. If this idea isn't popular I'll happily publish maps for you guys... but at a cost... to be determined later *evil laugh*>
 

Jeovanna

Villager
Jeovanna- Fields

Jeovanna chuckled dryly, though not at anything in particular. She tended to laugh when she was nervous, but she didn't suppose she was there yet.

"Vanity," she muttered, "protecting pretty trinkets with ugly traps," after all, she had a trap at her hip- for game, but she imagined similar would be easy enough to set. If the wooden stairs could withstand the passage of time, so could some hardy traps. "There will be worms and spiders up here. Worse down deeper," she predicted, a bit louder, so that the others could actually hear her.

She had no real expectations about this delve into the dark, other than that she imagined she'd miss the sunlight, very soon. But she was inspired by memories of home, and Blutith, and imagined that he was likely hounded by a small litter by now. If he could bark up that tree, then she could at least head into the dark.

Jeovanna did not mind heading in first.
 

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