“Centuries ago, the human nations of Branda and Udonel were the epitome of mankind’s mastery of the magical energies that ebb and flow across Bhriuthainn. Like everything they had ever undertaken since the dawn of their kind men grasped the intricacies of bending mana to their wills quicker than any other race ever had (with the exception, perhaps, of the Ancient Dragons who are believed to be the first ever magic users to exist), and just as quickly adapted themselves to the new powers they had discovered and, as is often the case with Men, adapted those same powers to serve their own needs.
In the grand scheme of things (and certainly by the standards of some of the longer-lived races) it was not long after Valis, the first kingdom of Men, had been established that two of her most adept wizards struck out on their own in hopes of establishing schools of magic that would rival (and possibly exceed the capabilities of) even the Ivae academies in Rilshen and her Border Kingdoms. Udo Voth and Callari Branda were childhood friends and had studied arcane and lore together as long as either could remember. In their youth, they often challenged one another to competitions to see which of them could master a given spell quicker, uncover ancient magics first, or twist the mana flows into new forms that even the elves had yet to manage. As the abilities of the two friends grew so, too, did their prestige, their friendly rivalry, and most importantly, their need to venture out beyond the borders of their homeland in search of secrets that could only be discovered outside the Valisian precincts. So it was, with the blessings and authority of their king that the two ventured east from the Kingdom of Men and brought human magic into what was, at the time, still known as the Rilshen Empire. Each of them sought out nexus points – great gathering pools of power created by crossings and mergings of the mana-lines identified millennia ago by the Ancients and rediscovered once more by the Ivae after their exodus from Yarra Maskan – in hopes of tapping those reserves of arcane energy and increasing their own power all for the “good of Men,” of course. Udo discovered one of these nexus points in the lands beyond the Ambin country of Hoan and Callari found his own much farther to the south, just east of the lands now known as Corelan and Reylmoen. Indeed, it was less than twenty years from the time the mages ventured forth from Valis’ borders that the spires of their towers stretched skyward, attracting students, followers, soldiery, and common-folk alike. The mage spires grew and so did the complexes and towns at their feet. The human expansion into the elven lands had begun and the whittling away of the once continent spanning Rilshen Empire was soon to follow. The lands around the towers for hundreds of miles was soon claimed by the mages and the others who followed or were drawn to them and not another decade had passed before the magocratic regions known as Branda and Udonel were established as “principalities of the Valisian expansion.”
Had the King of Valis known what this expansion would bring, though, he would likely have thought better of sending Udo and Callari forth as the tip of his expansionist spear. With humans, you see, magic seems to instill a haughty arrogance and a sense of entitlement and, as both of the mages grew in power so too did they become more secretive, more arrogant, and more protective of the nexuses over which they held sway. Naming them princes of Valis and granting them sovereignty over the lands they had claimed “in the name of the King” had perhaps doomed a human empire as opposed to making it a possibility. It certainly changed the relationship between the two wizards and, as each of their holdings grew, their once friendly rivalry eventually deteriorated into hatred and derision. Each grew jealous of what the other had accomplished and, through the lessons and rhetoric imparted to the students who came form far and wide to study under them, so too did Branda and Udonel’s peoples come to hold each other in disdain. As these tensions mounted, Valis repeatedly sent emissaries to each of the spires in hopes of reigning the mages back in and bringing them back into keeping with the idea of growing a human empire on the face of a world still dominated by the elves. Udo and Callari, though, had grown beyond being dictated to by “mundane politics” and serving the interests of Valis. Their concerns drifted ever farther away from their original mandate and had become more focused on their own rivalry. The last emissaries dispatched to Branda and Udonel were never heard from again, though the captains of their guard were each sent back with declarations of secession. Branda and Udonel would no long kowtow to Valisian authority; they were now magocratic nations by their own right and under their own decree.
For years hostilities between Valis and the two new ‘rogue nations’ intensified. Valisian forces perpetually launched campaigns into Branda and Udonel and, to their credit, the wizard nations never failed to repel the onslaughts. After a time, Valis chose to ‘cut it’s losses’ where the former principalities were concerned and left Branda and Udonel to their own devices (albeit begrudgingly) in order to focus its expansion efforts elsewhere. Udo and Callari, though, had come to enjoy the warring and, once the Valisians gave up the fight, the two nations turned their hostilities towards each other. To this day, no one is certain what sparked the final war between the two wizard nations but the entire world bore witness to the end result. For decades powerful magics were hurtled back and forth between the two nations, arcane knights battled over borders and mana pools, and strange, never before seen creatures were brought to bear in the confrontations. The generations long conflict seemed to end suddenly, though, when, some hundred and a half years ago, the mage spires in both Branda and Udonel literally exploded and spewed forth what can only be likened to tidal waves of mana across both countries. The chaostorms scoured all signs of life from the once powerful human lands and for many years to follow not even insects could be found venturing close to the borders. In their place now existed a great swath of magically scourged desolation, fraught with wild magic storms, buried mysteries, and, for those who dared venture across the borders, certain death. The countries of Branda and Udonel were no more. Now there were only The Barrens.
It has been nearly sixty years since anyone, whether at the direction of their governments or by sheer love of adventure, has ventured into these foreboding realms. Most seem content to skirt the borders of the places that were and some nations that share those borders have gone as far as prohibiting travelers from crossing into the Barrens from their own countries for fear of what might be awakened and brought back on them. Recently, though, there have been rumors that something stirs in the Barrens. Something living. Something other than the chaostorms and gibbering packs of troggies that run the fringes of the desolate place. A flight of dragon-riders, returning from a battle in Jadwa Qassam to their aerie north of Zaral, skirted the borders of the Barrens and reported seeing mage spires rising from the ruined landscapes and cities sprawling at their feet. Seers from human, elven, and dwarven nations, too, began reporting strange visions as a result of the scryings that they had focused on the former Branda and Udonel. Then, as if to ascertain that something did indeed stir in the wasted expanses of the Barrens, an Ancient Gold dragon has, in the past months, been seen patrolling but never venturing out of, the confines of the mana-charged airspace.
The unexpected return of an Ancient Dragon to so conspicuous an area of Rilshen has caused great concern among the Princes of Rilshen as well as the human and dwarven lands that border the Barrens. That, in conjunction with the reports that have been gathered from the Dragon-Riders of the North, the Clans of the Steppes, and others who have been bold enough to venture close to the borders, has recently goaded a council to convene and determine what should be done to address the apparent renewal of life, there. At first, legions of men and elves and dwarves were dispatched. Sent over the borders and into the Barrens to bring back some physical proof that what was transpiring there was more than the workings of strange magic and rippling mana fields. Soldiery en masse, though, was not to be tolerated by whatever it was that had taken up residence in the heart of the Barrens. Most of the troops who have been dispatched there never returned and those that did had been stricken so mad that we would have preferred they died there.
Which is why you all have been sent to me,” Seldan Seralonde regards the group assembled before him, his gaze moving fluidly from face to face, trying to gauge the capabilities of those who had answered the call, “The Council, with advice from our seers, has decided that a smaller group may be a more effective approach to delving into this matter and, with that in mind, each of our members have selected you as their representatives…”
((OOC: In hopes of getting this moving and delaying this thing no longer than I already have, I’ll cut the intro there. You/we have all traveled to Nedeluma at the request of one gov’t, organization, entity or another and have been told that we are to venture into the Barrens to discover why, after so long, the Barrens are not as barren as they were presumed to be… Presently, we’re all gathered before Seldan (Prince) Seralonde, regent of Nurhtir, and have just received a “history lesson” and a “subtle hint” as to what we’re looking for. Pick up and runaway with your posts from this point, folks… ask questions of the Seldan, introduce yourselves (or have the Seldan do so) and let’s get this party started… Oh, and thanks ever so much for all of your patience. ))
What words have been unspoken then, of mist and moorland. The outstretch of life that burdened and clothed all corners of this world, with limbs and leaves, silence and strangeness, the cloaking of a wordless land. What ancient and alien words have drifted beneath the rush of the waters, breathless, broken in mystery? The kingdoms of Men, leveled, high and vaulted, awaiting their retribution, for ancient tidings were brought by word of wind, over the dell, through paths untread by any Mortal man.
From the olden days, those that dwelt in darkness waited, lingering in a distant land of wolven slopes and windy headlands and unpredictable marshes, where a mountain stream chuckled and departed through dank mists between the crevasses of stone into the underdark flood and ancient trees hung through the ages, woods held by running water. Tidings of distress, long in torment, friends of shadow who listened as the world lay dreaming, dreams of gold, dreams of conquest. For the arrogance of Men will never falter.
War is coming.
Boe an edraith athi.
In the land where the darkness permeates, someone was listening to the song of the harp.
The shadows flickered carelessly over the sallow visage of the moon, like serpentine fears; one by one they penetrated the vast canopy. Over the aged they danced, for winter had thrown a shining spear, the aspens were sheeted specters. An interminable world of rebellious, insurgent vegetation. A realm where the canopy rioted and the gnarled oaks were lords. Silence reigned.
From a grey country, the shadows dwelled in darkness, and all ways were drenched from the lack of light. A whisper sounded, hardly auditable. Whispers of a source unknown. Whispers of a nameless fear. Spangled silver cascaded over the broad ebonite shoulders of the stallion as he tossed his chiseled head, shod hooves beating a lively tattoo against the rich dark earth. Sardonic whinny erupted from the beast’s great throat, silken mane obscuring the sight from the searching onyx eyes. The wind cooed supposed wisdoms, caressing the tangled dark locks of the Black Rider as he held to the ornate saddle.
His thin sensitively-drawn face was etched with grief and loss, his body wasted and bloodied, but yet he was fair. His piercing and beautiful golden-emerald eyes were like a forest in sunrise, or tinted jade. But their beauty was tainted, he was tainted, for they were cunning and cold, feral, vulpine eyes that revealed nothing, and despised everything. Eyes that were intelligent and lovely, but agonised and their supposed intelligence meant nothing, as the look of an animal, so seemly attentive means nothing. His mouth was finely sculpted and silent, and a gaunt dangerous beauty coloured his visage, a beauty not so much as lovingly sculpted by the Gods, but rather carelessly scrawled by a Demon.
He was as a carved stone, and his features were sharp and prominent, with a smooth brow, a noble, narrow nose and high arrogant cheekbones. A hard man, immutable, unchanging. Unaccustomed to the saddle, he rode with a quiet dignity, his ebonite cloak whipping about him, features shrouded by the deep hood.
Through the shimmer of darkness the lights of civilisation glimmered like indolent dragon eyes, malignant spirits or daemons bent on leading adventures to peril. Grass and soil became unyielding stone, solitude became companionship. Skeletons of long forgotten establishments replaced the ashen specters of his travel. Sterling silver was cast from the heavens, light rain that flew over his pallid visage and stemmed blood flow.
The wind sighed. The waters laughed. The lithe body shook under the meager cloak, his eyes darkened and focused. Without thinking he clutched at the thin childishly woven necklace that sprawled across his slender throat. Startled, he lowered it and looked morbidly on the hands that had thrown dirt over three tiny coffins. Adventure became desperation. Terror became nothingness for the wanderer who held the moors, the fens and the fastness. The lights of the city were malevolent, preventing rest, preventing closure.
As the relentless hands relaxed from the weathered reins the stallion directed himself, pressing on towards the understated summer home through the pouring rain even though all movement had ceased. Weariness had overcome him and he slowed his frantic pace. Beautiful head dropped, sturdy legs shook with fatigue. A familiar voice, pained and commanding whispered through the darkness as a final jerk of the reins directed the wayward beast as they reached their lavish destination.
Twin boots touched the cobblestones in hushed tones, a slight merry twinkling sounding from the glittering spurs. A gloved hand blended into the onyx pelt of the animal. Feral eyes pierced suspiciously through the darkness as he stalked forward swiftly and silently, the only sound in his wake the whispering of his cloak against the cobblestones.
Quickly he adjusted his baldric, brushing quickly over the seven gleaming buttons that wryly revealed his identity, and clutched the glittering jewel-adorned hilt of the hanger cutlass that spoke so eloquently of the heady days of sea piracy. Lowering the deep, all encompassing hood, he shook free the dark locks that hung in his eyes and with a single sweeping motion, tossed open the simple door. The resulted sound echoed, disrupting and disturbing. A few heads turned in his direction, uncomforable.
He smiled wolfishly.
It was what he was best at.
" Your cloak, sir", a servant inquired softly, unsettled by the brooding and rather soaked man in black. Relentless and glacial eyes shifted to regard him as the servant timidly stretched out a hand to touch the rough woven surface of his cloak. With almost unearthly reflexes, the man in black darted his hand forward and caught the servant`s before his fingers could brush the material. The servant glanced up to him in sudden shock.
"Leave it", he whispered quietly. It was not a suggestion.
The corner of his mouth had turned upward in cool amusement.
Silence followed as stunned eyes swerved to meet the emaciated figure wreathed in ebony. Rainwater silvered his dark, snarled hair and marked his thin countenance with the appearance of tears. Like a seeping mist he slid into the interior, cold eyes lighting up with a lean and hungry look as they swept over the congregation gathered. “I’m late, I presume”, he commented coldly, his voice supremely quiet despite his intimidating appearance, with an acrid and unmistakable note of sarcasm.
Posted on 2007-09-07 at 20:50:14.
Edited on 2007-09-08 at 00:27:20 by Septimus Sandalwood
“Sounds great, when do we start,” pipes up a youngish voice hidden by the taller occupants of the room.
My ˝ sister and I are ready. When do you want us to leave? I think we are about ready. Will you be giving us supplies? We did not bring much on our trip, and unfortunately we lost some on the way, as the pack was not lashed down properly. Will we need horses? That is a long way to walk. I have always wanted a horse, will I be able to pick one out for myself.”
All this came is one breath and would have gone on except for a stilling touch and a quiet.
As the late arriver steps into the room, Zara gives him an apraising look, taking in his dark aspect.
"You're late for the what, when, where, and why, but just in time for the who."
“Enough for now, Zara.”
Posted on 2007-09-08 at 00:44:05.
Edited on 2007-09-08 at 01:27:23 by Dragon Mistress
Brianna Not Dragon Mistress Karma: 105/32 2282 Posts
"Enough for now, Zara.”
A tall young Ivae woman who had been sitting quietly at the table absorbing all the Seldar had to say and taking notes, spoke to quell the run-on rush of words from her half sister. She stood up and address the others who had gathered here. She had all the features of a pure Ivae, delicate and finely wrought features and figure, except that she was a bit more substantial in build. Hair the color of finely spun gold streaked with purest silver floated free in a mimbus about her head. Her skin was fair though lightly kissed by sun, and her spakling cerulean blue eyes saw much though she had spoken little as of yet. She radieted goodness and light.
Dressed in elegant garments in strong jewel tones of Green and deep crimson, ornately trimmed with gold embroidered designs of stylized plants and animals on the borders, she certainly made a clear staatement of who and what she was. High boots of distinctly Ivae design and decorations, fit for riding and a long deep Enerald green cloak finished her outfit. A long bastard sword and scabbard hung off her back and a bow case and quiver was hung from her left shoulder. A symbol of gold hung around her neck, and dish of gold with four great rays of gold interspesed with four lessser rays of silver.
“I would like to introduce myself, I am Dalyndra Goldenwings, Servant of the Light, sent here to aid those going on this mission. My skills are with sword and bow, a strong arm for doing right and clerical spells. Iserve Goodness and Light. I would appreciate very much to know about the rest of you. Then I would also like to ask a few questions of our host when introductions are finished.
Dalyndra sat down and let others speak as they will. She had done her own observations while the Seldar recounted the history and the current information gathered so far. She was especially curious about the details of what the Dragon Riders had seen.
Dalyndra really wanted to question the Dragon Riders directly, though she was not sure that was not possible without delaying the beginning of this mission. If they could have been here I daresay they would have been. She had come to some conclusions about those she did not know. The big man looked the fighter. The woman she was not exactly sure but she thought she was a fighter too but with lighter weapons. As for the gnome they were tinkers and gadget makers and some of their gadgets were extremely interesting, as for the last man she thought he had the look of a mage and that would be useful because Zara’s spells were limited.. Not for the want of her enthusiasm, but more of time and experience. Actually Dalyndra hoped that this trip might settle her sister down a bit so she took things a bit more seriously. Dalyndra brought her attention back to the others as the next one spoke. She kept a hand of Zara until all the others had finished.
“Keep it simple, Zara” Dalyndra whispered in an aside to her sister. “Name and what you bring to this mission. And I will replace as much as I can of our supplies from what gold I brought with me.” Dalyndra frowned at the memory of finding the camping gear pack had fallen off somewhere on their journey here. It was not worth searching all the way back along their path it could be long gone before they every got back to wherever it had fallen off. She had all the important items, armor, weapons, bedroll, her backpack and personal items. The tent, food stuffs and camping gear had been lost though.
Posted on 2007-09-08 at 00:47:40.
Edited on 2007-09-08 at 04:23:37 by Brianna
Zara's finely bowed lips came together in a tiny mou, not quite an pout, but definitely not a happy look as Dae's hand held her down. If it were not for the promise to her own mother and to Dalyndra's mother she would not have been allowed to come along on the adventure.
Not that she looked old enough to be out of the Elven enclaves. A juvenile in the first bloom of womenhood. She was shorter than her 1/2 sister by some inches. Her hair was bright gold blond and seemed to have a metallic luster to it as it waved and curled about her head like a halo and then reached well down her back, pulled straight it would reach passed her delightfully rounded bottom. Her eyes were bright yellow with a tinge of gold, much like some birds of prey, but they also twinkled with mischieviousness. Zara's skin tone was a pale golden tan, and her facial features were definitely exotic, her upswept brows, high cheek bones, large eyes, and pointed ears were all Elven and then some, only the slight upturning of her nose was different.
Her outfit was of Elven design, in golden tan and teal, and with the same golden embroidery as her 1/2 sister's outfit. Her boots the knee high and soft sided, they were highly decorated with pierced and cut work in tan and 2 tones of teal.
It was fine enough for her to wait to be last, it gave her a edge on knowing the others before they knew her.
So she bides her time until the others have introduced themselves.
Looking around Logos had some trouble deciding why he was gathered here. He had heard the story of the Seldan, and listened with fascination. He had heard of these Nexus points, pools of mana, and searched for them himself. And now there was this story of a flood of magical energy. Why, if it flooded so freely, was he not capable of grasping what apparently came in overflowing streams, and bend it to his will?
He cast aside his angry questioning of fate. No deprecating ‘why’ or ‘how’ existed that he had not already shouted countless times. Answers never came.
Therefore he focused on what he had taught himself to rely on: the scientific facts of the tale. Something was terribly wrong in those lands, perhaps to teach them all a valuable lesson. The power of magic will be the downfall of fools. A powerful wizard doesn’t make a good leader. A mighty brain is more important than….
“Again…” he whispered to himself, as he mentally slapped himself for falling back into ranting away. Focus on the now. His struggle for clarity of mind was assisted to a win by a high voice filled with enthusiasm, inquiring its needs in a single breath. The gnome looked at the source of the annoying bulge of words. His expectations proved right, for it had been the youthful female, but luckily she had been stopped by her older sister. At least, he assumed it was her sister. They were standing too close to each other not be relatives or good friends. And they both seemed to have an unhealthy relation to gold. Logos found it hard to believe there wasn’t a pack of dwarves standing ready with pick-axes to mine them.
The sound of the doors opening behind them took his attention away from the girls. He turned, to see a man dressed in black doing his best to make a grand entry. The smaller sister piped out again, seemingly unable to keep quiet for a minute, but her remark was true this time, and well thought out, he had to admit. They invoked a series of introductions. Logos listened intently, for he wanted to know with who he was supposed to go into the Barrens. Judging their appearances, none of them looked ready for the part, and neither did he. Individually he was sure they had their capabilities, but they were no team. Had he left his shop in the care of his cousin for this?
The older sister had spoken her talents, and he knew his turn had come to introduce himself. He coughed and waved his hand in an uncomfortable salute.
“I am Logos Machina, I own a shop in Neduluma, where I sell my own inventions.” He stated with his deep voice. “I have no idea why I was selected to be here, but apparently somebody thought I was the right candidate.”
That was all he needed to say. Nothing else needed to be added. They would have plenty of time to get to know each other. He was just curious to see what would happen next.
The Ivae were usually quite prompt with time keeping, and this elf in particular made sure she would be the first to arrive. Since she had been summoned from her house earlier in the week, she had the time to pack anything she would need for the trip. The woman moved with elegance in her royal gowns however, she decided to change her attire before attending the meeting. Having no idea who would attend the meetings, she decided to arrive earlier and that would give her time to mend to her things and to her bonds.
The morning of the meeting had arrived and the young elf was up and ready before the rise of the sun. Dressing herself as least casual as she could, for she was a dweller of the royal house, and wasn't sure if she wished any others to know of this matter. The gathering wasn't far from her home, though one might think it was for an hour before the sun would rise, she had her things packed and her bond brushed, and saddled.
Standing beside her Flemish, a soft smile spread along her lips as she double checked she had everything she would need. Dressed in her travelers robes, she mounted Thor, her reliable warhorse and whistled for her bond. The horse stood firmly in place until an order would be given, yet both horse and woman sat in complete silence until the brush in the distance rustled. Selene Freewaters urged her mount forth towards the brush and she smiled as she spoke softly "Storm, we leave now for the meeting." The few words spoken by the elf were carefully selected, and her voice compared to that of singing angels.
The light in the east told the elf she had at least an hour in which to cross the lands to arrive in Nedeluma. It would only take half that time, for she had a swift horse, and the company of her faithful bond Storm as well as Thor, to keep her moving swiftly through the early morn. The stars had recently been lost to the approaching morning, but the elf knew all too well of their destination, and she ventured there quite rapidly.
Upon arrival she allowed the stable boy to put her mount in the appropriate stable, and storm she left out of sight, for fear of upsetting the prince. She and the prince were on the same levels of royalty, for she was a noble by nature as he himself was. The elf had arrived early enough to wait in the room for the rest to arrive, so she could study their appearances, and what they brought as they entered the building.
Selene's crystal blue eyes shot across the room as she watched the group gather. Then the Prince entered the room and she bowed gently to the prince when she locked eyes with him. The Ivae were numerous in the gathering, but she didn't watch the group until the Prince had finished speaking. She smiled softly to her words, her body showing indifference to the mission. The way she held herself, the way she showed no sign of fear, people were sure to wonder if she had faced battle in the past. The woman listened to the anxious soundingly woman, who was likely the youngest of the group. She would be her biggest concern in a time of secrecy. She wondered if she'd be able to hold her tongue, and be quiet in a time of secrecy, or if her excitement would ruin their elements of surprise against the enemy. It was the the sister who spoke, and she listened to the words which had been spoken between siblings, as she continued to study her surroundings. The elf knew it wise to know the flaws and perks of which each member brought to the group. It would help to decide who should be giving the orders, who should be on watch, and who should be known as the secret weapon. Everyone would have their job in the group, as certain as wolves had their posts in the pack. Yet soundlessly she listened as introductions were made. She associated voice with appearances as each spoke in turn.
It was in this moment that Septimus had arrived and disrupted the meeting. The rest in the hall would notice the man and turn to observe him. She however, would remain reserved and her gaze only fall upon the man when he spoke. She, again, associated voice to appearance. When she listened to the names she nodded slightly and when the turn was hers to speak she was cautious in choosing her words. She could easily have spoken in elvish, for the amount of elves in the group surprised her, but out of respect she chose to answer in common tongue.
"Selene Freewaters, I'm here to offer my skills to the group" she bowed upon introducing herself. The woman was not specific as to which skills she could offer to the group gathered in the hall soon to be cast out upon their mission. The woman was tempted to not reveal her name in the least, for the Ivae elves would know her name, and knew she was royalty, but she didn't want to be treated as royalty unless it was appropriate to be treated as so.
Her royal robes remained in the bundle which was upon the exotic riders saddle which was strapped to her reliable bond Thor. Soundlessly she remained in place studying each person in turn but then turning her gaze up to the prince. "Mi Lord Seldan, you wish us to venture out as a group, yet you tell us not when you wish us to depart. How long is given to us to learn of our companions, as to know the strengths and flaws of our group in order to have a successful mission." she spoke to the prince as easily as if they were discussing the morning's fine weather. The business would be difficult to discuss and she spoke softly "Our business is to be kept to the group alone, if I'm not mistaken, we wish not the world to know of our plan, for that could ruin the element of surprise for what we must face upon this journey, and also to perhaps give others time to form an army against him." she shrugged away the rest of her words, yet her eyes had never left those of the prince.
It was in this moment, that she turned to the man who had arrived late, and she smiled to him "I'll brief you of this matter, when the time has come. If we do not leave immediately, we can find a tavern, to where we could all learn of each other, and perhaps form a plan, however if we must leave instantaneously than I'll brief you on the ride." she fell silent to draw in another breath "Do you have a method of transportation Sir?" it would be noticed that she called the Prince by Mi Lord, and others by Sir. The soft smile formed at her lips was towards the late arrival, but she turned back towards the prince as she waited for his reply. Her longsword as her side, and her gloved hands ready to reach for it, were the need to arise.
"A tavern you say," pipes up Zara listening to the female Ivae speak after the interesting little gnome, "now that sounds fun, but discussing this venture there is a baaaad idea; too many people, too many ears, no security, no privacy."
Zara eyes the young elf who seemed dressed for the part on a level higher than all the rest of them. A female peacock? Her attire did nothing to disguise her inborn demeanor.
"Anyway, I believe you are overdressed for that sort of place."
Posted on 2007-09-08 at 15:49:12.
Edited on 2007-09-08 at 16:00:52 by Dragon Mistress
A faint smirk touched his lips as he carelessly brushed back his tangled hair. He was youth personified, wild and reckless as a young stallion, and distinctly set apart from the other males in the congregation. He sauntered over to the nearest seat available, his limbs shifting with elegant, untaught grace and surveyed his surroundings with appreciation.
His were eyes that could read a bent twig or severed blade of grass, and tell a starling from a sparrow at a hundred paces off. Nothing escaped the emerald scanning as his compelling gaze swept rapidly over each visage. The gears of his mind were already beginning to shift and record vital information.
As the green- golden eyes of the renegade fell upon the fair features of the Ivae women, the hard and predatory glint softened ever so slightly and the set of his shoulders relaxed. The slight curve of his lip heightened into what could safely be called a smile, and he settled back into his chair with an appalling affectation of nonchalance, satisfied with the evaluation.
Each of the travelers seemed to be dressed in finery and the dark, bloodstained apparel of the rogue set him in deep contrast. Dried blood was smeared across his left cheek, as if he had just came from a particularly perilous situation, and the piteous thinness of the man could be evaluated.
He looked half-starved, in this better light, and the lines of his face were terribly defined, promoting his already naturally refined features.
He looked dangerous, and the glacial expression in those beautiful eyes momentarily covered up the destructive and aching sadness that dwelt below the surface, like a monster from the deep.
But most of all he looked terribly young, and terribly lost, and the seal of weariness could be seen in the light etchings of stress upon his brow and the clear mark of suffering within his eyes.
He listened to the words of the prince listlessly, without expressing any emotion about whether he considered the mission a valid idea or not. As the introductions of the others tapered off into babble he finally lifted his head, unhappy to be thrust into the spotlight. “Oh brilliant, I have to talk about myself now, don’t I?” he muttered to no one in particular. After glancing about uncomfortably for a few moments, at long last he forced himself to make eye contact and proceeded to speak.
“ I am Captain Septimus Sandalwood”, he informed them softly.“I am not classically trained in the art of offering myself up for the benefit of mankind, but I am sure that you can all find something useful for me to do”. He inclined his head faintly in the prince’s direction.
“You seem to have a talent in that particular field, do you not?”
A few of the omnipresent servants shifted uncomfortably.
Septimus`s gaze shifted.
They knew what he was.
The silence was broken by the melodious speech of one of the female elves, the one with the faintly royal aura. With a final malevolent glance in the direction of the prince, Septimus reluctantly turned his attention to her.
When Selene was finished speaking, he nodded curtly, the faintest smile touching his lips, invisible to the casual observer. It took all his self-control to keep from grinning like a fool. His main means of transportation was legendary, and even though he remained self-contained, his heart swelled with pride to think of the Acheron with her crimson sails blazing in the sun. “I do”, he replied indifferently then, and rapidly changed the subject.
“You are very kind”, he replied quietly, his eyes holding a light twinkle of amusement, “and I thank you for the thought of your help.”
He averted his gaze momentarily.
“However, it will not be entirely necessary…”
He shrugged his slender shoulders.
“I know what I am getting myself into”.
His eyes delved into hers.
“The question is, do you?”
Posted on 2007-09-09 at 01:05:08.
Edited on 2007-09-09 at 18:42:13 by Septimus Sandalwood
Zara shifts in her chair looking about to see if everyone has introduced themselves, she is holding out to be last.
She watches the byplay between Septimus and the royal Ivae, studying it. And deeper than that was her observations of Septimus himself. His aura was a terrible muddle of darks and dims, luckily it was not much muddied. She could only wonder as to what brought him to this state, physically and spiritually.
He paid rapt attention to every word of the history of the forming of the barrens that came from the Ivae prince's mouth. It was sad what others could bring themselves to do to one another and all over something that was not rightly theirs to begin with. If it was meant for them to have magic, then the gods would have blessed them with it like they had the dragons. Magic pulled from the pools of mana, the basic essence of life in his opinion, could not truly be controlled and was bound to have its consequences.
Magic born from the spark within, that was another story entirely. Vesper's magic was his own, not 'borrowed' from the world around him. This was who he was born to be, not because he had decided that he should be better than others and steal his way to get there. No, the gods had just made him better, had given him the spark that ignited his soul to wield magic. The borrowed magic allowed others to wield a larger variety of power, as such the Ivae had taught him, but the spark of sorcery had its own power that most thought too poorly of.
He had listened to their pitter=patter long enough. Vesper rose to his feet with a little difficulty as pain rippled through his right leg. The magus swore that the athritis from his childhood accident was determined to get the best of him, but after a decade and a half, he had grown much used to it The wound would slow him down a tad, but if these others wished for his aid, then they would have to learn to keep pace with his stride.
Robes of a faded red color, wool with its dye having bled out from age, hid his other clothing for the most part. Most believed wrongly of him from his appearance, saying that he appeared the part of a haggard commoner with a bit of an exotic appearance. Of course he looked different, all of those from the steppes did with their darker skin along with dark hair and dark eyes. Some even went as far to call them savages, but atleast among his people he did not have to worry about the deceit and treachery that seemed to spread like a wildfire among the other kingdoms of man.
Vesper use his staff for a slight bit of support as he stood, "If none of us have anything further to say. We might as well set ourselves upon the road."
The royal Ivae smiled softly as she had listened to the sounds of her surroundings. Calmly she turned her gaze towards the woman Zara who had spoken to her about the tavern. The woman could not help but hide her smile "You think I would venture unknowingly into a tavern dressed in royal robes?" she could not help but laugh softly, kindly. She shook her head at the woman's innocence "I've got a bindle of assorted garments from royal robes to pheasant robes. I've dwelled in taverns longer than you could imagine. Though it was frowned upon, my elders knew they could not contain my curiosity." she decided that it was all that needed to be told to Zara, and the rest of the group at such an early meeting.
It was in that moment that Septimus had began to speak. She listened calmly and carefully to the man's words and a smile formed upon her soft lips. With his second verse of words, she caught the amusement in his gaze and her smile widened as she continued to listen to his words. She replied to the first half of his words, which seemed to have been carefully selected. Her words flowed with ease with little thought behind them "I thank thee kindly Lord Sandalwood. I apologize if I have offended you." she paused only long enough to hear his final words. The woman's smile had vanished when she had began speaking the final words "I know probably more than any of you of this mission, for I've known about it for a while. It's been a known mission for which I was to participate, and to advance my magic and swordsmanship. It's part of my final stages of training." she fell silent as her gaze flickered from the man to whom she found great interest.
Selene's eyes floated towards the door wondering when it would burst open and again she would be known as a ward. She waited patiently for the door to open, creaking in protest, yet it never seemed to open, and she simply shook her head softly. The woman spoke to the man without catching his gaze, "Lord Sandalwood, I would ask for your devoted company to dinner, were we to have time before we must part upon the mission. I would be honoured by your company, should be have time to speak in private. She falls silent as she listens for a reply from the woman Zara, who seems too eager for her own good, and also from the malnourished man Septimus.
It was in that moment the man Vesper had drawn her attention with his voiced opinion. She agreed with the mans words after carefully drawing them in. With a subtle nod she turned to the rest "He's right, we should start our journey before we waste any moment longer." she turned to the prince "unless My dear lord Seldan, you've anything else you wish to tell us before we set off upon our mission." she falls silent her hair glistened slightly upon the widely lit room in which they had been gathered.
Zara makes a face at some of the royal Selene’s introduction; first was the bit about, "I know probably more than any of you of this mission, for I've known about it for a while. It's been a known mission for which I was to participate, and to advance my magic and swordsmanship. It's part of my final stages of training."
Well, La De Da, she knew about it long ago, which meant, by now, it was not much of a secret. The more people that know a secret the less it is a secret.
Then the royal Ivae had the audacity to put herself before everyone else. "Lord Sandalwood, I would ask for your devoted company to dinner, were we to have time before we must part upon the mission. I would be honored by your company, should we have time to speak in private.”
That was a real friendly slap in the face to everyone else.
And what was this “devoted company.” Was he supposed to fawn on her? He did not seem the type.
Oh, well it was time to introduce herself. She was sure the Prince knew nothing of her since it was only Dalyndra whom he had contacted. She stood and prepared to make her introduction, but try as she might she could not help commenting on what Selene had said about the tavern and other things.
She caught Selene’s eye and then spoke. “Maturity is not measured by age, but by experience and the wisdom that comes with it,” piped Zara, quoting her oh, so wise mother. “I may not have the experiences you have had, my mother likes to live apart from others, but there are some experiences I have had that you will never have.” That said she turned her back on the royal Ivae.
“My name is Zara....Goldenwings, Dae and I share the same father. I know I am the youngest here, and also uninvited, but I bring with me multiplicity of talents. I can use sword and bow as well as any Ivae and furthermore I can cast Sorcery spells, coming into my ability very young in life, and I can cast Divine spells, being Favored by The Light, as is Dae.
“I am also literate in many languages, my mother taught them to me, she said it was better to converse with others in their own tongues, that way there was less chance of misunderstanding, or of being misunderstood.
I love astronomy, and am a learned student of the stars and planets. I used to spend entire nights observing them, mother had to drag me back home to get sleep. Over the years I have developed a way to knowing the local time, at night, and even estimate where I am by the position of the stars in the heavens. Knowledge of any kind is a passion of mine, and I have spent much time in reading the great tomes of the past, and I have a knack of remembering everything I have read or seen. Which also helps in geography, and map reading and that coupled my innate ability to know where I am, could be really useful for this venture. AS I am an avid collector of books I would also be searching for any books, tomes and scrolls as I already have an extensive collection of some very rare tomes.
“Beyond these skills and abilities I can cook, thanks to Dae’s mother, and play a harp, and sew. I did the embroidery on our clothes, but I can just as well sew up rents and tears in clothes, equipment, or skin. I have some healing skills and of course healing spells.”
Zara abruptly ends her speech leaving others wondering if she ever took a breath between the beginning and the end of her soliloquy--which demonstrated an extraordinary control of breath.
That said she sat down and reached into her haversack on her side and drew out a handkerchief, she reached to the table for a glass and a pitcher of water and poured some into the glass. She sipped a bit of the water and then wet the handkerchief with the rest of the water.
She watches the Prince carefully, he might forbid her to go, not that that would really stop her, after she had come all this way.
“Why don’t the rest of us go off to a tavern and just get better acquainted.” By which she meant that the rest of them not invited to dinner, could get together over a pleasant meal. She had never been in a real tavern.
Posted on 2007-09-10 at 02:10:47.
Edited on 2007-09-10 at 06:30:27 by Dragon Mistress
Baleful eyes flickered uneasily from face to face, his body held tense, with an air of aggression. The confrontation unsettled him deeply and a flush of high colour touched the normally alabaster canvas of his cheeks. It was when he transferred his energy from brooding to edgy and suspicious that he was considered most dangerous. Septimus was already well known to be notoriously moody, and many men had not had the opportunity to be surprised or awed at the deadly mood swings and even more lethal reflexes that had categorized him as one of the most unpredictable Sea Reavers ever to be seen on land or sea.
His gloved hand had transferred to the hilt of his weapon without thought, only to relax instantly.
It was because of this unpredictability that songs were sung of him by bards, who antagonized him against a favoured hero of old, and rumours of him were transferred from port city to city. It was because of this fearful unfathomness, viewed with the kind of fascination that is often given to disasters of nature that mothers told horror stories of him to their wide eyed youngsters, and when ill-tempered children fought with their siblings or argued with their parents, it was his name the adults evoked as a warning. He was emulated by children, feared by men, and desired by women. He was a legend of his own time.
He was absolutely miserable.
He seemed restless within his own skin, and uncomfortable with the fact that he was taking the time to speak with a person of the female persuasion. Females were not allowed on the ship Septimus commanded, and the few smuggled on board had been killed instantly. The goddess of the sea was fickle and jealous, and the competition of another female was not to be tolerated. Rather then tempt fate; the few females that had managed to avoid his watchful eye had been slaughtered quickly and efficiently by his crew. There was no room for disaster aboard the Acheron, and there was little to no tolerance for blasphemy. The only other experiences he had had with women had been the relatively impersonal sessions in taverns and inns, for Septimus had loved once, and vowed never to love another.
A less cautious woman could have conceivably been attracted to him, and this incident had happened on several occasions, when a bar maid or travelers became taken with his youth. His waifish figure, sad eyes, dark curls, and way with children endeared him to certain women. It was true; there were times when he appeared more the part of a poor little orphan boy then a wanted criminal, which had served him to advantage time and time again.
Like many criminals, he had a renowned place in the hierarchy of the underworld. But unlike most criminals, he was extremely intelligent, and this was probably the main reason he was still alive. Among his own crew he naturally assumed the position of leader, and ruled his men with an iron rod. Because of his particular talents, he often did most of the intellectual work, and while he did not have an entirely unearned reputation for doom and destruction, he carried out violence reluctantly. While atypical for a pirate, he had an unknown side that was oddly altruistic, and saving another person at the risk of his own safety was not an unknown occurrence, particularly if that person was a child. In battle he was reserved, killing when necessary with a mixture of deadly, complicated moves that put to use his considerable agility. It was noted that the destruction of the Golden Falcon, the previous flagship of one Glenn Fenris, marked the beginning of Septimus`s distain for violence.
Many legends had been told of that day, when the noble frigate was torn asunder by the flagship Sea Wolf. A hundred men strong had set out that day on a path for plunder. Eight men returned, Septimus among them. It was a cold day, a red day, a day when sharks swarmed and the seas turned crimson. When the rogue was checked into an inn in Corelan, carried upon the shoulders of an injured sailor, he was barely conscious. Eyewitnesses had reported that the youth had been shot twice, the bullets narrowly missing his heart.
Involuntarily Septimus felt his hand brush over the left side of his chest. Two half-healed scars marked the smooth skin below his flimsy fencing shirt. He closed his eyes for a moment and recalled.
Withdrawn, he had leaned against the doorframe of their tiny cottage, watching his daughter play with her mother while his infant son Luka slept peacefully in a makeshift crib. He marveled at the likeness between them. His daughter Rose had been slim like her mother, and beautiful, with pale skin, rosy cheeks and lips, and shining blonde hair. But her eyes had been Septimus`s own, exactly like his had been before the tragedy, a golden-emerald that was strangely feral, alive and laughing. He had called her to him and held her to his breast. A tear had fallen and marked her faded cobalt dress. The girl looked up at her father and smiled into his face, and watched with wonder his wild eyes. “Why are you crying, Daddy?” she asked in her child’s treble. He could only close his eyes as she lowered her soft golden head against his dark, snarled one.
“You must promise never to leave me”, he whispered hoarsely.
“I promise”, she whispered back, pressing the necklace into his palm.
He found her body on a cold Monday morning, just when the mists parted and the rooster crowed and he staggered home, distorted visions through a haze of tears plaguing him. Tormented by physical agony and worry he threw open the door of the cottage and stared into the darkness. His world was darkness. There could be no more light.
Mother and daughter and infant son.
He covered his face with his hands and wept.
That had been three years ago.
Three years since he had adopted the sea as his mistress, the murderous, bloodthirsty wench who sailors adore. She abused him for three years, offering him happiness, but snatching it away in her cruel, guileless hands. She tormented him with loneliness and drove him close to the brink of insanity. But like an innocent child returning to its abusive parent, Septimus always returned to her as she poisoned his mind slowly and deftly, he loved her and his corroded heart was hers. For he did love her. More then he loved life itself.
The words of Selene seemed insubstantial to him, and though he met her gaze, he did not see her. A bitter laugh threatened to burst free of its tentative boundaries. “You know me”, he whispered roughly to her. “You know me and yet you are not frightened?” His tone was more curious then challenging as he fixed her with an apprehensive eye. His voice was barely auditable as he continued. “I walk among them only because they do not know of me”, he murmured. His mouth twitched into a semblance of a smile.
“It shall be our little secret, yes?”
Raising his voice so that the others could hear, he hazarded a reply. “I am flattered”, he said finally. “You are a lovely woman and I am sure that many men so invited would jump at the chance”. His voice registered amusement, like silver threaded through velvet.
“However, I am cursed with a rather cynical and analytical mind”. He winked towards Zara as if to show support for her cause before devoting his attention once again to the royal Ivae. “I fail to see how the evaluation of a sole member of the group would prove to be beneficial”. His eyes never left Selene`s. “I accept, provided that the other, more involved members of our little, ahem, congregation, may join me”.
“Also, there is no need to speak so formally”, he added quietly. “I am not, nor will I ever be worthy of that title”.
Although his voice betrayed little emotion, his haunting and haunted eyes betrayed the reverberating sadness that would continue to torment him throughout his life.
“I am Septimus”, he said softly.
Posted on 2007-09-10 at 22:24:44.
Edited on 2007-09-10 at 22:50:56 by Septimus Sandalwood
The Royal Ivae glanced about the room towards the rest of the group. Her eyes shot towards the man as she listened carefully to his whispers directed solely to her. The woman turned her gaze towards Zara who had spoken fiercely towards her. The woman showed no emotion as she replied dryly to the woman's words. Shaking her head slightly she replied "In which case, I'll go tend to my bonds" she had spoken sourly, she did not like this woman Zara's attitude. Shaking her head she bowed to the prince and turned back the way she had entered so long ago.
The woman had ignored all words directed to her after such a point. She exited with the same elegance that had filled her throughout her entire adventure thus far. Sighing softly she decided to move briskly to the barn where her mount had been brought to feed. Selene smiled warmly as she bit her lower lip gently seeing Thor. Nodding softly to her mount she opened the stall and saddled her horse for the trip, after brushing him. Saddled, and ready to go, she moved her mount out of the barn and towards the nearby brush where she knew Storm would be waiting patiently for her to emerge. Soundlessly she stepped gracefully towards the beautiful wolf who waited for her arrival. She allowed Thor to graze in the grass as she kept Storm company in the shade of the nearby brush.
The air was cool and refreshing. The pair in which she shared company, would quickly drain away her anger and stress. Selene decided she would need a way to keep from snapping at the woman Zara who seemed eager to reveal her entire life history as an introduction. It seems as if she needed some sort of congratulations for her past. The Royal Ivae knew better than to reveal her entire history to strangers. Her father had taught her much of how the world worked. It was in this moment she recalled the bounty on Septimus's head, her father had always been speaking to councilors about the treacherous man. His past flooded her thoughts as she ran a hand through the pelt of the wild wolf.
Nasils flare and dialate drinking the scents of his surroundings. Twin peaks swivel upon crania as maw parts as a large pink tongue lolls out lazily. The young brute listens carefully as the door creaked open and seemed to shut rather loudly without actually being slammed shut. Pillars shift slightly as muscles grow tense and relax the brute crawling slightly to peer towards the building in which his mistress had disappeared. Occulis close as crania lifts from it's normal position nasils flare rapidly and dilates as he drinks in the familiar scent of his mistress, Selene. Vocals vibrate slightly as maw parts and a soft yip is released as the brute pants softly after having released his greeting to the woman.
When she joined him, crania lowers to rest upon her lap. Occulis closed as twin peaks swivel upon mount listening protectively for strange sounds, always being protective of the woman who had saved him so long ago. Storm knew better than to chase after Thor, for he understood that the horse was also a friend of his mistress.