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5E The Kalarian Precipice - Chapter Two

97mg

Villager
Annit: Second Landing

Annit caught Carthum’s gift of a jerky in one hand, smiling in thanks before nibbling on a corner.

“Thank you, not bad if I say so myself. What is this flavored with? It's not a herb I'm used to.”

The young rogue had spent most of her years in the township of Kalair, so opportunities to taste distant, more exotic morsels, was a rarity.

They were speaking freely it seemed, which was a good sign.

Metea had asked about magic and the anonymity of their underground entrance, to which Annit replied, “I don’t know if gifts were used. The fields are very rarely patrolled, as most believe there is little here of interest, except for a nice view from the cliff tops. Maybe some kind of simple distraction was used, or possibly magic, I really don’t know.”

They might gather from this that Annit was in a similar position. A mere thread in a web that connected a quiet and patiently active assortment of anti-Dolstian organizations. Like them, her knowledge was limited, but she was willing to share most of what she did understand as truth.

“We aren’t alone. I think the threats from The Sands will eventually draw more gifted people to the surface, some that we ally with in this task could be mages as you say. I’ve never knowingly met any of them in person though. My father is very quiet on such matters and would give me only the minimum details when doing their bidding in some small way.”

She looked to the priest then, to respond to his inquiry about previous exploration.

“Until this morning I didn’t know where this mine entrance was,” she admitted. “The earth looked undisturbed before father took to it with the shovel, a map sure would have been nice though.”

Who had been here before? Anyone since the mine’s closure? It was certainly something to think on, but not for too long. Otiroth had some interesting ideas.

“Maybe that is something we can discover,” she said, “if magic was once transferred to the crystals, or if they are the source of it.”

Where did that leave the divine arts though? Had the gods at first, left small fractions of their power within the earth? It was easy to see how varied and opposing opinions might have led to the bloodshed of the past… but Dain moved the conversation back to the present. He appeared ready to move on.

“I’ll try the lock then, if we are all rested and ready.”

Metea had been doing some investigation of her own, the resting room sadly fruitless to her search. She was up close and personal with the other door by now. The door was well built, that was for sure, but aside from its quality construction and strength, not much more could be gleaned from it.

Annit winked to her, and produced a few lengths of metal from a pouch. Some were hooked, others straight, and a few appeared to be notched like the tips of common keys. Biting her lower lip, the rogue chose one and slowly slipped it into the old brass plated keyhole. With great care she moved it around, exploring the tiny slot of shadow.

“Dammit,” she whispered under her breath.

“It's refusing to budge.”
 
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Metea

Villager
Metea: The second landing

Metea was listening. Really! But she was also quite intrigued. She'd tap out a brief, rhythmic beat with her claws on the door, before deciding it wasn't worth it to try and get it open herself. She didn't know anything about picking locks! "Let's just wedge a leg of the bed frame against it or something," she said.

Metea hated to admit it, but sometimes, a secret wasn't worth finding out. Dain was right.

She'd turn back towards the others as Annit went on- it sounded like her father had expected her to help, but kept some secrets from her still. "Typical, isn't it? Hide something for long enough, and soon nobody will know it."

"We going to head on, then?"
 
Carthum One-Tusk: the second landing

It seemed strange, that Annit's father would not fully prepare her for what they would face down here. But perhaps he did not know, either.

He'd nod grimly at the idea of just barring up the door once more, though he knew Metea was disappointed even as she suggested it. "We are not here to 'loot' or find prizes- just what will help us help Kalair," he replied. After all, they could not make much good of 'riches'.

The crew was becoming quite good at barring up entrances by now, no doubt.
 

Jeovanna

Villager
Jeovanna- the second landing

Jeovanna, standing guard on the stairwell leading downwards, glanced back towards the others. "Shall we?" She'd press. "Or shall we try battering down the door?"

While an axe might've been better for that sort of job, she figured a few blows from her greatsword could probably take down the wooden door, no matter how well it was built. But that would guarantee attention, if there was anything sentient in these mines to listen.

Either way, she was eager to move on; she was beginning to miss sunlight and tree canopy.
 

Otiroth

Villager
Otiroth: The Second Landing

Otiroth stretched, and watched the two women prod at the door for a moment. They'd been pretty thorough, and if they couldn't hear anything on the other side, well...

Carthum was right, as sad as that was to admit. They were not here to loot. But they were here to find something that could help them- something that they didn't necessarily know where it was, except for probably further down into the mine.

He was all for a bit of smashing, though. If it was trapped, that would surely set it off.
 
Dain - The Second Landing

Dain looked from the locked door to the descending pathway. He had retrieved his torch and was holding it aloft in his left hand. "What we are looking for is not behind that door, or one or more of you would have sensed its presence. If you desire to loot, you are free to either linger here and have a go at it or come back another time...perhaps after we have obtained what we were tasked to obtain."

Their very lives were at risk with every step they took towards their goal. It seemed foolish to risk them more by looking for trouble that was not looking for them. But then again, he was in a goal-oriented state of mind at that moment. Maybe it was just that he wanted to keep moving, to keep his mind off of other things.

He moved towards the descending tunnel, taking a few steps down so that his torch could illuminate what lay ahead. A second later he drew his sword, clutching it in his free hand.
 

97mg

Villager
Annit: The Second Landing

The young rogue took a few steps back from the door, sighing and clearly disappointed in her failure to wiggle the lock open. Shrugging, she decided to let the rest of the team determine its fate, either to let it be or take a more direct approach.

So Dain wanted to push on, and was already beginning to survey the next row of steps. Strange, Annit thought, how he'd moved on from the idea of leaving no route unexplored.

"Friends, just because the gems are rumored to connect with the gifted, doesn't mean it is a given that we will know when they are close, or how far away we might need to be to feel their presence. There may be answers behind that door, or nothing... who knows."

She didn't completely agree with the thoughts about "loot" either, but chose to keep that to herself. It was in her blood, that unquenchable desire to challenge oneself and pocket a few mysteries...

Dain's torch illuminated the next forty feet ahead, more steps chiseled into dark surrounding stone which looked to end at another landing. From then on, it seemed there were no further steps to walk. A dark pit in the center of the floor down there swallowed his light, and to each side a passageway had been cut into each wall.
 
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Otiroth

Villager
Otiroth: The second landing

"We move on," Otiroth said finally. "If for no other reason than I wish to see sunlight some time before next season."

He'd watch the others put together the door stop, and then would join them in their descent.
 

Metea

Villager
Metea: The second landing

A final pout back at the door- all that was undiscovered and all that- and Metea would be off, figuring the others had the right idea.

Her tail feathers had a bit of a floof in them, when she scurried in a certain way that made it look like she might be up to no good. And indeed, she was right on Dain's (metaphorical) tail, heading down into the stairwell.

She even cut Jeovanna off...
 
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97mg

Villager
Interlude: Lirrel - Early Cuts

There was a light tapping at the base of the barn door. An energetic and rhythmic percussion that could only be his son. The boy had a predisposition to music, often conversing in song and converting whatever found objects and old farm tools he could get his hands on, into instruments. The light clacking of two small rocks. The hum of a saw blade bent back and twanged. A length of twine strummed on a bowed twig.

Every sound had a meaning to the little one, and this particular tapping meant dinner. Colirus’ wife would have bread ready, perhaps some cheese from the neighbors goats, and as always some kind of stew. Old Colirus had learned a little perhaps, of his ten year old child’s second language.

The boy’s father whistled back, inviting him to come in.

It was everything an old farm building was supposed to be. Musty. Full of tired implements of the trade. Old hay and dirt on a well-trodden floor. It took Lirrel’s youthful eyes a moment to adjust, as he pushed the door open and peeked inside with curious dark pupils.

“What are you working on? Mum has finished cooking. I did the peeling.”

“This is fine news, boy,” Colirus replied smiling. “I’ll be back in the house soon.”

The aged farmer’s gaze moved back to a well-soiled sheet, draped over something upon the ground. There was evidence of plenty of recent movement in here. Lots of shuffling items about, poking through chaos… like trying to drag out old memories.

“What is under there?”

“A fine question...” his father replied, winking mischievously.

“You are old enough now, for secrets. Tell me, are you ready to keep one? Of this you tell nobody, ever, unless they point to you where my brother’s bones lie.”

Lirrel considered the offer for a split second, before agreeing with a wide smile and a happy note from his lips.

Fate saw fit that one day, some thirty years later, that a visitor might arrive under the guise of seeking lodgings. He was plain-faced and humble in appearance, a middle aged fellow dressed in simple linen and carrying nothing more than a well-beaten walking stick.

“Excuse me, might you offer a traveler from Kalair a roof for one night?”

Naturally, Lirrel had offered the poor soul a proper bed, in one of the home’s simply attired guestrooms. They broke bread together and talked that eve, sharing even a song or two, the farmer’s only child unaware of what would come next. From out of nowhere the stranger said, “behind the small boulder, in the field where the clover runs free.”

His departed Father’s brother. Lost at the age of ten with no warning, had simply lost all breath from some unknown affliction of the lungs. Well, that was how father had told the tale.

“Yes, Lirrel. I know the secret Colirus bestowed upon you. Times near when the contraption will once again, be required. Tell me, are you trained in it?”

Lirrel was recoiling in shock, unable at first to speak.

“Yes,” he finally replied.

“Good. The Burning Rose is in need of your service. I do not ask lightly, but your father, the fine man that he was, worked with us long before you were born, and his oath did not dissolve upon his parting with the world.”

By year’s end Lirrel’s farm was abandoned, the home’s doors and windows nailed shut beneath firm planks. The garden left to overgrow and climb of its own free will.

Lirrel lived in Kalair now. A friendly whistling timberyard’s hired hand by day, and a crafter by night. Each evening the same nameless messenger of The Burning Rose would knock and deliver a pouch. Lirrel would tip the stones out onto a table in a concealed room, and practice. Upon river pebbles and small chunks of nameless rock he ran the machine, peddling with his feet to keep the grindstone turning. The domed cabochon. Facet tops. Asscher. Radiant. Trillion. He mastered them all. One day he hoped to shape something worthy of the art. The Burning Rose has said it would not be long till that day may come...
 
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97mg

Villager
Interlude: Emma - Colors Combined

Fifteen years ago - The Year of The Feather

She was beautiful despite her misery, stood at the cliff’s dizzying summit with tears streaming down her face. One at a time like droplets of rain, they collided upon vertical black stone, on a long and dangerous journey to meet with the boiling sea below.

But the anger in those distant waves was nothing compared to her sense of loss. It had taken the worst of grief and despair to bring her here, to admire where the blue of an uncharted sea met with a same colored and cloudless sky. Only in having something torn from you, did you appreciate that which was always there.

They’d hung her beloved sister just some hours ago, after a lengthy flesh-leeching imprisonment followed by a swift trial. The evidence was indefensible. Rumors had been spreading for months, of how the young lady had been victim to a robbery gone wrong. In the dead of night, an intruder had pinned her down whilst another searched the simple Kalarian home from top to toe. They hadn’t expected to find a collection of old scrolls within a lockbox beneath her bed. In fact, they probably didn’t even know what they were looking at. The dazzling color of several gems though, those they knew and feared too well.

The intruders had been released from the law office prison block with little more than a warning. A promise to end their ways of urban theft. Emma’s sister though, her sentence brought the ultimate price. Life.

If only Emma had known, or seen the signs, or been there that night. No reminiscing was going to change things now. The guilt had plans to stick around.

Taking in a deep breath, she stepped right to the edge of the cliff, sending a small patch of loose earth tumbling down into a salty oblivion. In that second she remembered a fleeting moment of childhood. Her older sister stroking her cheek with a finger, saying, “we will be always together, you and I. We are the same blood. I am the black, the yellow and the red. You are the blue and the green, the glinting wash of white.”

It hadn’t made sense back then. Now however, Emma could almost feel it. There was something else… out there in this world. A greater reason. An energy untapped. A delicious and addictive song that barely an ear could hear. It chimed to her now, a tinkling sense of purpose and amazement as she flung herself out into the air. Her last breaths were of seawater, and her last thoughts were the hues of a stone’s reflected light.
 

Jeovanna

Villager
Jeovanna- the second landing

Well, Metea nearly made it past.

Jeovanna caught the tiefling by one horn before she could rush off down the steps. "No you don't, boots," and, like a mother leading a naughty child by the ear, she'd direct her back to a safer place in their little convoy.

Dain would not get lead by the ear, but he'd get a very sour look at his rushing ahead. They were on the move, though, so it would not take long at all to catch up.

"That," she murmured, in response to the land opening up, "that is where predators skulk."

But perhaps they could fight better with a bit more space.
 
Carthum One-Tusk: Further down

Carthum grinned as Metea got put in her place. Absolutely grinned. But that disappeared as they headed down and approached the next landing, which appeared to be the beginnings of the actual mining. This is where the miners must have found the greatest amount of gemstones- but even so, it appeared that they went further down. the hole in the center of the clearing evoked some primal unease that he could not ignore.

The half-orc picked up a loose stone from the ground.

"Suru- guide us!" Carthum said. And, the rock began to glow indeed. He cast this ahead of them, to the far edge of the landing, so they could at least get a little light.


<Spellcasting- cantrip. Light.>
 
Dain - Further Down

Dain might have noticed Jeovanna's ire. Or he might not have. At any rate, they were moving, and he was trying to proceed with as much caution as possible. In his defense, he was very accustomed to traveling alone and his people skills were not the greatest.

Had they been once? He wondered. Part of him liked to think so.
 

97mg

Villager
Further Down

Carthum’s stone clatters against the wall beyond the pit, spreading light across all of the landing ahead, silencing the shadows of corners and bleeding into the area’s various exits.

The pit in the centre of the ground appears to tunnel downwards at a slight angle, with the occasional step cut into the floor to prevent any potential nasty slips. To the left and right of the landing, the tunnels appear to head straight off for a few yards, before turning at right angles and leaving the area beyond out of view.

Unlike the earlier section of the mine, the carving and what must have been painstaking cutting of these paths, appears more organic. Less attention has been paid to neatness or consistency. This is clearly the beginnings of what might have been the working area of the dig.

From the left, at first Dain might believe he hears a few soft tapping sounds, which abruptly stop, and then start again before fading off into an unknown distance.

 

Otiroth

Villager
Otiroth: Further Down

Otiroth had a front row seat, such as it were, to Metea and Jeovanna's brief skirmish. And he had to admit, it was a nice break from the seriousness of the moment. Jeovanna was an imposing woman. Of course, it was hard for anyone to compare to the tiefling, for a multitude of reasons.

They'd head further down. Now, they were faced with a choice, and barring off one entrance was not an option.

Otiroth would vote for heading down the path where Dain had heard some noise. There was no point in putting it off. Whatever lived down here no doubt knew all the twists and turns, so if they would be surrounded- they would be surrounded.

The sorcerer had a spell that he knew that could cause quite a bit of harm to anyone that might look to sneak up on them. He would not mind a chance to test it...
 

Metea

Villager
Metea- Further Down

"Hey, not the horns! Not the horns!" Metea protested. But, she'd fall back to 'safety' in the middle of the group.

She couldn't resist a pout at Jeovanna's back, though. "You're worse than an Olovian priestess," she teased.

Once they were on the move, though, she'd fall silent, taking it all in. Carthum's light helped the others, but it did not make too much of a difference to her. The rock here was all the same color- nothing interesting to see. Nothing sparkly.

"We could try saying we come in peace? I mean, we smashed up their walking armor, but it started it." At least, Metea was pretty sure it had. She wasn't sure why she still thought there were creatures that'd be interested in- or capable of- talking to them down here. "Does anybody speak mouse?"
 

Jeovanna

Villager
Jeovanna- Further Down

Jeovanna grimaced in irritation, but her back was to Metea, so the tiefling wouldn't be able to enjoy it.

It seemed this group would fuss forever about which direction to head next. A symptom of only newly working together, maybe, or a popular pasttime of city folk, but not something they could keep up while in a dangerous location. So when Otiroth indicated one pathway, well, they would take it, the open landing give them time to change their formation as necessary.

"If they are mice," Jeovanna snorted grimly, "they are big mice."

The light of Dain's torch and Carthum's... rock... competed with each other in the dark.
 
Carthum One-Tusk: Further down

Carthum's eyes might have played a trick on him, but... for the briefest moment, he thought he saw a faint glitter.

It was far off, though, and squinting and looking closer towards it, he saw nothing. Otiroth wanted to go the same way, though, so perhaps that had been a brief vision from Suru, a momentary whisper of something true.
 

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