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Porthca Landing II: Lost & Found

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Evening of the Fourth Day | A few miles outside Porthca
  • Abrahms

    One Thousand Club
    Evening of the Fourth Day | A few miles outside Porthca:

    Travel, once out of the crowded streets of Porthca, became much easier, especially once the horses managed to not have to deal with the incline and finally made their way to the tops of the cliffs. Looking behind yourselves, you can easily look down at Porthca -- for some of you this was your view not too long ago as you entered the port city, likely not realizing you'd be leaving quite so soon, or perhaps eager to be on the move again.

    The clip-clop of the horses hooves is pleasant and soothing in its repetition, still along the paved roads near Porthca though soon enough they will fade into dirt and gravel roads. At one point a fork in the road offers two directions: one further to Wyford and the other to a smaller nearby village of Redale. Keeping in mind the task, the group continues onwards to Wyford, until they end up pulling along to the side of the road to make camp.

    Setting up a crude camp, the light begins to fade as the sun sets, leaving only the flickering of your fire to light each person as they sit ... or perhaps there's more? A strange color catches attention off to the side, a vibrant blue that glows across the nearby field...
     
    Afternoon of the sixth day | Halfway to Wyford:
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    One Thousand Club
    Afternoon of the sixth day | Halfway to Wyford:

    After having finally sorted themselves out from dealing with the tree, the day is fairly peaceful and travel is uneventful. The steady plodding of the horses is calming and the scenery pleasant as it passes by ... some conversation likely happens here and there to try and deal with boredom, perhaps a few games of "I Spy" or small magic tricks back and forth between the casters. The evening comes to a close and travel begins again on the sixth day.

    Clouds that approached in the night now fill the sky, giving everything a dim appearance, there's a sense of the sky waiting to break loose and rain, yet doesn't just yet -- as if it requires a signal or trigger.

    Traveling as you all are along the road, around you there's mostly flat fields, though in the distance, those with a keener eye, can note the outlines of buildings and farmlands -- the outskirts of Defallion lands -- granted more recognizable for Tyrius as this is becoming land he recognizes the closer the group travels to Wyford.

    However there's something that sticks out along the horizon ... a strange door off to the side of the road seems to stand all by itself, wooden and worn, yet still perfectly clean. Stranger still is even with the clouds blocking the sunlight, it appears as though perfectly lit by the sun?
     
    Morning of the 9th day | Wyford on the horizon:
  • Abrahms

    One Thousand Club
    Morning of the 9th day | Wyford on the horizon:

    After noting the group had lost the golden armored cleric, there was little left for them to beyond carry on towards Wyford, wishing Tristan well wherever he'd gone. Travel the past few days was rather boring and perhaps trivial -- the only main concerns the dwindling supplies as they got further along, and checking the chest with the doorknob in it to keep it chilled and stable. Those looking at it would note that it seemed to strangely have started growing roots into the soil, small sprouts along some of the edges.

    Having made camp overnight, a chill has set in as a storm appears to be blowing in from the ocean to the west, strong winds pushing across the Sinking Plains, promising dreary traveling weather.

    However as you're all clearing up breakfast, preparing for the day, sound catches your ears, traveling across the grass and from the nearby trees ... The Knight hears only three mumbles of common, Ander hears one more as does Tyrius, yet Virra, Banrigg, and Eliza hear the readying of crossbows and murmurs of orders from at least five sources ...
     
    Dawn of the 10th day | Wyford | Silverbane Manor:
  • Abrahms

    One Thousand Club
    Dawn of the 10th day | Wyford | Silverbane Manor:

    As the events of the night settle down and the storm eventually passes, a new day dawns. As each group wakes -- Ander noticing his room is missing another person -- they each find either under the door or near their bed a letter that reads:

    Good mornin’
    Meet me at the study on the second floor. It’s about time I came clean about somethin’. I hope y’all can still call me a friend after.
    See ya soon,

    The Salted Knight

    The rest of the household seems to be readying for breakfast down below, and those that ask servants for directions are led towards a room on the side of the manor that the family resides. Niradnam is not seen by the group, however the black cat Egnaro does appear to be lounging in the hallway, dozing. Entering, the room looks comfortable and cozy, bookshelves lining the walls, candles here and there for lighting while a few more portraits and items are on display as well. Thick chairs circle the center of the room where a rug covers the stone flooring, the Silverbane crest upon it.

    Inside the Knight stands waiting, a few trays of cookies set out on the small table between the chairs.
     
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    Morning of the Twelfth Day | Wyford | Silverbane Manor:
  • Abrahms

    One Thousand Club
    Morning of the Twelfth Day | Wyford | Silverbane Manor:

    Everyone eventually heading off to sleep, the next day begins: the final day the group intended to stay in Wyford before heading out. The sun rises on what appears to be a pleasant morning, a few scattered clouds flitting through the sky, breezes working their way across the plains.

    Master and Madame Silverbane both sit at the table this morning, aware of the latest guest that was brought in, and quietly speak between themselves. Sabine and Thomas, as usual for the past few days, are already long gone for their morning routines while Elizabeth and Niradnam currently sit at the table enjoying their breakfast. Unlike before where Niradnam was dressed in casual and comfortable attire, he seems today to be wearing more travel-intended clothing like thicker leather boots and a heavy dark maroon duster.
     
    Morning of the Thirteenth Day | Wyford | Silverbane Manor:
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    One Thousand Club
    Wyford | Late Evening | Restless Devil Inn:

    Hearing the voice in their head the men scattered even faster, a few almost tripping over themselves in their rush. The tavern slowly returned to its usual volume as the party seemed to depart, Niradnam sighing and muttering, "I was concerned that was going to get much worse ..."

    Elizabeth finally stood, collecting her things and giving a bow to the tavern at large, "Alas, my friends ... I will haaaave to see you all tomorrow. Maybe then I'll play some songs of this night, eh?" A few in the room cried out in disappointment, the woman smiling, "Just means ya will look forward to me even more the next night!" She turned to her brother with a grin, "Oh I'm soooo ready to head home. Les go."

    Leading the group through the streets back towards the Manor, a servant caught sight of them, tsking at the drunkeness of a few of the party, and looking confused at the sight of a stranger. Elizabeth waved a hand, "Don't worry ... jus' a friend spendin' the night. All good, she'll head out wit' them in the morning," she held up two thumbs with a grin. The servant merely sighed, guiding the group back to their rooms, Niradnam splitting from them to return to his own room for the night, joined by a familiar black cat as he waved good night. As the others went to their respective room, the servant led Rowanne to her own, apologizing the whole way for how it hadn't been prepared -- but even still was likely one of the softest beds the cleric had slept in in a while.

    Morning of the Thirteenth Day | Wyford | Silverbane Manor:

    The sun rises, general noise can be heard outside of the wagon being packed with travel goods the party had purchased the days before. All the Silverbanes appear to be present, waiting for everyone to ready themselves to head off, a steady breeze moves inside Wyford while Niradnam stands helping the servants attempt to pack everything in, adding his own personal items as well with Egnaro supervising from the branches of a nearby tree.

    The wind grabbed at his hair and coat a few times as he shivered from the cold in the air, revealing the fine rapier at his hip, Banrigg joining him at the wagon to wait for everyone else.
     
    Afternoon of the Fourteenth Day | Along the Road:
  • Abrahms

    One Thousand Club
    Afternoon of the Fourteenth Day | Along the Road:

    The night prior finally everyone settled into their beds, the Alarm Niradnam had set never went off. Those that normally were the first up found themselves beaten by Niradnam, sitting next to the low flames of the campfire reading with a cat purring in his lap.

    Once breakfast was sorted and the camp packed up, travel commenced once more, guided by the notes of the research and information gathered from the library. The plains continued, however clumps of trees started to become visible further ahead, a guide of where the coast was, some of the forests Tyrius' father had at times entered and cleared out threats.

    Travel seemed mostly boring and dreary, a few conversation topics brought up but soon exhausted, some resorting to merely watching the clouds pass. However ... amongst the animals of the group, something had set them on edge -- Egnaro's fur and tail poofed out as he made a low growl, Wayne Jr. quickly dove into the safety of the covered wagon -- Banrigg paused in his steps, something apparently catching his attention as he looked up, Tyrius got a strange sense of foreboding as well and glancing up could see in the sky a sight that gave a sense of dread.

    Above the party, battling in the air, were five large creatures, their roars and cries echoing through the sky. Continuing to watch, it looked as though some of them were now toppling through the air, headed towards the ground, their combat continuing through the fall!
     
    Afternoon of the Sixteenth Day | Edge of the Faded Knoll Forest:
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    One Thousand Club
    Evening of the Fourteenth Day | Wyvern Cave:

    After much deliberation the party seems to finally come to agreement: seal the cavern. Those who collected their eggs get one last look at the others still resting in the nest then silently return to the entrance where Tyrius casts his spell, causing the ground around it to crumble and collapse, falling into a pile of rubble at the entry.

    Egnaro rubbed against Niradnam's ankles as the scholar stood watching, the egg he'd decided upon cradled in his arms. "For better or worse, a decision has been made. It may be silly, but I do feel bad for the eggs left in there which will likely never hatch. As such I think we should swear to be responsible with those we have taken, assuming they hatch." He turned to look at the rest of the group, the lilac-green eyes going across each party member, "Wyverns are dangerous creatures regardless of what we hope to manage with training." Tilting his head down at the object he carried, "... and we need to be ready to potentially kill these if they prove too wild. We can't place others lives above our desire to have a special pet."

    Silent for a few moments more, Niradnam seemed to chew his lip before shaking his head and following the rest of the group up the sandbank and back towards the wagon where the horses and the plunder sat waiting.

    Slowly getting the wagon back on track, there's not much daylight left for travel as the party makes camp once again, now joined by various Wyvern eggs across the group.

    ------

    Afternoon of the Sixteenth Day | Edge of the Faded Knoll Forest:

    The prior day spent in uneventful travel, Niradnam eventually glanced up from his reading at the more and more common shade, pulling himself to standing in the wobbling wagon, his Wyvern egg in a strange portable nest he'd turned his pouch into. Grinning, "Alright -- we're finally almost there. These woods hide the entrance to the Thief's hoard." Reaching for one of his various journals he flipped through pages for notes, "We need to look for ..." he went back and forth on a page, following a sentence from one to the next, "...the Heart of the Woods, another supposed 'stolen' thing." The scholar messed with his hair as he thought, "I will admit due to age of reference material, some versions of the tale were spelled H-A-R-T instead of ... like a beating heart, but I don't think that's right."

    He looked up at the others, "A heart of the woods would be the center right? Or the oldest tree?" Tapping gently on the egg in thought, "Or ... I mean roots can be like the veins of a forest, but they need water ... maybe there's a pond that acts as the heart? Or lake?" Voice lowering he continued to mumble out thoughts as the horses plodded along, likely lost in thought and theories unless stopped or slowed.
     
    Evening of the Sixteenth Day | Faded Knoll Forest | The Cave:
  • Abrahms

    One Thousand Club
    Evening of the Sixteenth Day | Faded Knoll Forest | The Cave:

    With a nod, Niradnam took his end of the rope and slipped back into the water, the coiled hemp quickly disappearing into the dark while everyone gathered their things and hid away others. The two familiars eyed each other, while Wayne Jr. gave a small scree of a reply to Valerie's words.

    The cart moved into position and the horses tied to prevent them wandering off, along with the pony and the small piglet, everyone stood ready around the hole in the ground, waiting for the signal from the scholar. Just after Magnolia cast Light on her necklace, the rope shifted. Was that one tug? Or just something rubbing against the rope? A few glances were shared, trying to decide if it should be pulled up or wait?

    Banrigg stood next to the rope, staring into the dim waters, a hand on it, ready to haul it in if needed when there was another movement. Then it repeated again in quicker succession -- two tugs. As the group started to climb into the chilly water, already feeling the weight of their sodden clothes, a few could see Niradnam waiting below, a light circling him and the others hovering near the rope as it went.

    Before they completely submerged, Magnolia and Virra both swear they saw a familiar looking stag peering through the trees, yet soon enough they were following the rope trail down into the cave the others had scouted out. Once more sea creatures passed by the route, a few approaching quite close before quickly darting away. Niradnam swam up and down the line, keeping an eye on everyone and keeping the lights near since so few had any vision in the murky depths -- the sun barely reaching this far, what little of it was still in the sky. Those who lost grip of their items for a moment found it returned to their hand and a small message sent to them: "Just focus on the rope," from the almost mer-folk mage.

    Most of the group is able to hold their breath -- saved from having to do full motion swimming, it's not entirely as taxing as the swim would be otherwise, but towards the end, Virra starts to reach her limit -- she needs to take a breath -- but they're so far down now, there's no way she'd make it back to the top, and she has no idea how much further the cave is. Niradnam was on his way down the line past her to check on everyone else when he realized what was happening, a look of panic on his face while trying to think of something, eventually coming to an idea. Reaching for the gnome he sent her a mental message, "Let go of the rope," and grabbed her small form, quickly dashing through the water the rest of the way, keeping her in his arms, trying to get her into the air pocket that was waiting ahead. Even still, that strong desire to breath kept nagging at Virra, but Niradnam placed a hand over her nose and mouth, shaking his head, looking concerned.

    Things were starting to get hard to focus on, dizzy for the gnome mystic, though faintly she'd realize they had arrived in the cave ... well hopefully it was the cave and not just her vision was dimming already and going dark. The water pushed against her while he continued to swim awkwardly, limited to just his legs and then finally -- they breached the air pocket. Pulling his hand away she was allowed to breath -- deep painful gasps, almost like someone in the desert finally getting water, all she could think of was breathing wonderful, glorious air. Taking a moment, Niradnam leaned on the edge of the pool, attempting to catch his own breath from trying to swim so quickly, eventually sending to her mentally, tired even in his own mind, "Please ... just sit tight ... the rest should get here soon, I'll ... go check on them. I don't know ... if what I heard is still here. Just be careful..."

    Taking another few seconds he dove back down, though Virra could swear, perhaps due to her near drowning, that his hair had fully gone white and his skin was a darker color...

    While he had had to take Virra through to the air pocket, the rest had slowly continued down the rope, nearing the cave, though without his direction the dancing lights didn't match up to their progress. Returning to the circling he had done before, the group continued without further incident, finally arriving one at a time into the cave system where Virra sat resting. While under the water Niradnam had looked his normal human self -- sitting in the cavern he didn't appear to look the same -- skin darker, ears pointed, hair white, and eyes fully lilac, though he didn't seem to notice himself. However he seemed far more interested in the group, looking confused, and as the party looked amongst themselves it was easy to see why: Valerie appeared to look like a pale skinned tiefling, solid white eyes and dark grey horns that curled around her head, their tips almost looking salted in white, but the strangest sensation was that of a weight on her back -- a faint thought caused movement, a twitch as the two wings on her back stretched in response, Tyrius had traded his baldness for scales, a dark vibrant red that covered him entirely, clawed hands and a snout now rested in the center of his vision, Virra almost looked like a miniature version of Tyrius -- a small kobold sitting on the ground trying to catch her breath, while Magnolia looked like she had become a slightly larger Virra, taking on the appearance of a deep gnome.

    Rowanne instead of being pale in both skin and hair had become a bright blue, her longer hair swaying around her as though in a permanent breeze, the loose fabric of her outfit shifting as well, her eyes now mimicking the clouds -- looking as though they were always shifting, Banrigg instead of being a stout dwarf now appeared to stand as a large goliath, nearly bent over in the small caverns, Eliza looked to have become human, yet there was a strange ethereal quality to her -- a glow behind her eyes and a beauty that artists would fight for the honor of painting, then finally Ander -- already a bulky looking person appeared even larger, hunched over like Banrigg was, his wide build and slightly bluish tinted form, ears pointed outwards and tufted, a race only the academically studied recognized as being a firbolg -- almost as rare and unseen as elves.

    Niradnam continued to openly stare before speaking, "... are those ... illusions? Or ... have you all been transformed?"
     
    Morning? of the Seventeenth Day | Faded Knoll Forest | The Cave:
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    One Thousand Club
    Morning? of the Seventeenth Day | Faded Knoll Forest | The Cave:

    Niradnam and Eliza work to identify the rest of the items, and while the group picked and traded, the dark elf worked quietly on a ritual in an attempt to protect the group. Finishing, he placed his spellbook away, a hand on his stomach as it rumbled, wincing in hunger. Banrigg laughed, slapping the smaller man hard on the back, causing him to stumble, "Ah lad -- not used ta missing meals, eh?"

    Coughing from the blow, Niradnam answered, "Fortunately not ... I had hoped we would be in and out of here without needing to rest." The lilac eyes shifted to a white as he continued, "So far the wagon looks fine at least ... hopefully it'll stay safe until we get back."

    The group continuing any idle chatter as they worked to attune to their items and eventually fell asleep, resting, though sore from sleeping on the hard floor, guts complaining in hunger leaving them all feeling uncomfortable.

    When people seemed to wake up once more, Niradnam muttered, creating globes of light again, looking tired as he leaned against the wall. "If everyone's ready to go ... I'm very ready to leave this place. I don't care to be underground like this, not sure about the rest of you."
     
    Evening of the Seventeenth Day | On the Road to Wyford:
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    One Thousand Club
    Evening of the Seventeenth Day | On the Road to Wyford:

    Working to get the wagon back out of the forest took combined effort from everyone, looking for a route out and around the thick trees, roots and undergrowth. Once they were finally out, the sky sat open before them, the plains and small hills waiting to be traveled.

    Finally getting settled, Eliza and Niradnam went to work at checking over the last of the new items, the scholar with a cat on his hip and his wyvern egg in his lap as he went. After awhile they started reporting on objects, the tapestry turning out to be a very worn down flying carpet, the image on it looking to be a landscape of the Azarad University from a distance. Holding the ring out for others to observe, Niradnam announced it to be a ring of regeneration and briefly explained its properties. Holding up the robe he offered it towards Eliza, "This is a Robe of Stars, considering you favor Magic Missile so much, it seems quite fitting for you."

    Reaching for the rod he gave it a twirl, "This is a rod of rulership, you can use it charm multiple people at once to obey your commands." Setting it down he reached for the glass orb again, "And this ... is a crystal ball, which can be used to scry, however I already asked for this object to be my treasure. Those back at Azarad are likely going to ask me about every object that was found ..." Niradnam frowned, "At least I'll have notes on them and everything I saw." Scratching his head, "My 'mission' was to seek out magic items, legendary items -- I think I managed that at least, and now we know the Thief is real ... perhaps he has other coves on other continents or other region."

    Shrugging he offered the objects for others to check out, pointing at the carpet, "Ah, right before I forget. The command phrase for that is 'fovere cimex'," the tapestry started to hover off the bed of the wagon slightly after his words, repeating them and the tapestry fell flat and motionless again.

    Continuing travel for a little longer the sun eventually set, the group setting up camp off to the side, attempting to hide in among the taller grasses. Sitting at the rough campfire, Niradnam still stared into the orb between small bites at his rations and notes in his journal -- the black cat Egnaro trying hard to get his attention. Still ignoring him, Rowanne sat facing away from the scholar, after her meal standing away from the rest and practicing her sword swings. Banrigg was sprawled out on the grass, watching the night sky as he picked at his teeth.
     
    Morning of the Eighteenth Day | On the Road to Wyford | Camp:
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    One Thousand Club
    Morning of the Eighteenth Day | On the Road to Wyford | Camp:

    Waking in the morning, as usual Niradnam was one of the first up, quietly reading his journal and making notes. Egnaro was curled around the dark Wyvern egg the scholar had taken for himself, wrapped with a blanket in his pack. Rowanne was set up maintaining her weapons while Banrigg sat at the fire stirring a pan filled with eggs and a few cuts of meat.

    Seeing others wake, Banrigg tapped the edge of the pan as the sizzling food continued to cook, "Last night was a right clusterfuck." The dwarf looked around at the group for a moment then went back to stirring. "I got hired ta' protect you lot off on this lil' mission, but I cannot seem ta' protect ya from each other." Pulling out small bowls, Banrigg started distributing the simple breakfast between them and passing them around to everyone. "Truth b'told, once we get back ta' Porthca, I'll be headin' off m'self. I think, you lot are gonna need ta' get yer shite together, an' speak t'each other." Picking up a slice of meat he bit off a chunk as he continued, "Ya got wyvern buggers, ya got legendary weapons an' gear, ya got more wealth than most could even imagine."

    Swallowing, "You lot are gonna need to become a crew -- properly. That thief bugger was warnin' ya, an' right now, I think you lot are more a danger to each other than anythin' else like with what happened last night." With a faint smile the dwarf placed a hand on Valerie's shoulder, "This group seems t'care for ya lass, an' the amount a'magic between em, they're smarter than this dwarf anyways, I bet of anyone, they'll be able to help ya."

    Rowanne dug at the offered food, quietly commenting, "Azarad ... would have potential help if you wish to be rid of whatever is affecting you. Some mages make their life's work in studying the removal of curses."

    Offering the cut of meat to Egnaro, Niradnam nodded, "True, but some of them don't seem to care much that the cursed survives such removal. Truly, temples or druids may also be other options. Speaking from experience of living within Azarad for so long, quite a few them get too focused on the ideas and not so much the people."
     
    Afternoon of the Twentieth Day | Wyford | Silverbane Manor:
  • Abrahms

    One Thousand Club
    Afternoon of the Twentieth Day | Wyford | Silverbane Manor:

    The mood dampened from events, the rest of travel was quiet, the orc trailing behind the wagon, working off his daze the more time passed, still making attempts on the ropes that bound him. Sybeth worked off her haze as well, slowly speaking more each time the party stopped for meals, talking with Ander at times about their island, however sometimes falling asleep during conversation or still struggling to follow what was being said.

    The rest of the day was uneventful, and thankfully the next day was too. Wind blowing across the plains, at the start of the day further across the horizon there's the faint shape of Wyford in the distance. With something to look forward to, you all watch eagerly the closer and closer its walls get. Those watching the orc hear him start to grumble at seeing the town, while Sybeth, resting in the wagon looks on with interest.

    Entering the gates, the guards glare at the orc who seems to have a stoic expression on his face, meeting any stares with growls and baring his tusks. Guided towards the manor, a few guards go to get Thomas at Tyrius' request, the halfling meeting the returning party at the Manor, manacles and other guards in tow.

    Moriana and Baldrus stand waiting to greet the party, however Moriana quickly grows concerned at seeing the state of the group and especially Sybeth, giving orders to servants to prepare baths and hearty meals for the returning party. Tyrius' mother gave him a hug, "I have news for you about your ... Pyria friend, but it can be for later." Pulling away from the sorcerer she looked across the group, "First you all can relax and tell us how things went ..."

    Thomas cut in as he put cuffs on the orc, "An' hopefully tell me later what this mess is all about."
     
    Afternoon of the Twenty-first Day | Wyford:
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    One Thousand Club
    Afternoon of the Twenty-first Day | Wyford:

    Spending most of the morning out shopping, the group seemed to enjoy their new wealth, purchasing things they had desired or needed, while also selling off spare items they had collected in their traveling. Eliza and Tyrius had spent the prior night in the library with their research, Niradnam spending most of his time left of the day picking out likely books to check later, returning in the morning surprised to see the pair still at work. To his surprise, Virra seemed to offer her help, however it didn't come without its price -- books he had stacked to the side slowly slid further down the table -- pages turning when he glanced away, leaving him rereading the same pages while the gnome happily worked on a set of shoes, trying to look innocent.

    Eventually Tyrius split away, speaking with his mother for a few moments then returned, gathering most of the group except for Rowanne and Banrigg, leading them down towards the kitchens.

    The redhaired mage seems to know where he's going and approaches what looks to be a portrait frame handing empty on the wall of the bustling area, the cooks not pleased to have such a crowd in their workspace. Niradnam looks confused at the sight, glancing towards Tyrius, arms crossed, "... what are we looking at?"

    Tyrius grinned to the group, his cheeks as red as his hair, "You're gonna love this Niradnam," said Tyrius, "You remember our dinner last night? Turns out we had a very special chef for part of it." Knocking gently on the wall inside the frame, Tyrius stepped back a little so the others could get in.

    ”No...way...” Eliza followed exhaustion momentarily forgotten. ”I missed dinner yesterday though.”

    Having just returned from her shopping expedition, Valerie had returned to her room and opted to try on her new outfit, a pale blue lace dress that came just above her knees. She had just collected her flute from where it sat on her dresser when a knock came at the door, informing her of Tyrius's summons. She followed the servant curiously, and arched an eyebrow at the sorcerer. "Erm... yes, I would like to second Niradnam's question." Tyrius's response did little to satisfy her curiosity. "I did too... was it someone famous?"

    "Yes...way," grinned Tyrius, equally as exhausted as the aspirant but kept as exuberant as ever from his sheer enthusiasm. "It might not work, apparently this is very tempramental, but well, probably best you see for yourself." Tyrius said to Niradnam, Magnolia and Valerie.

    Eliza quickened her pace, only slightly lagging behind now as she followed Tyrius to the kitchens feeling like a great weight had lifted off her shoulders for the moment. ”I am so glad we didn’t accidentally sentence her to a lifetime alone.”

    Valerie folded her arms with a slight frown, hopelessly lost. "Is it a secret, or something of the sort? Who is she? Is it Ms. Rowanne? Is she to be wed to someone?" The young warlock could not imagine who else they would be talking about that was not present, although she also was unsure why their presence would be related to her lack of a partner.

    Tyrius winced as Rowanne was brought up, "Erm, I did almost include her in this but, given recent events probably best she doesn't know." said the sorcerer, continuing to play the pronoun game, "It is sort of a secret though, yes."

    Virra sensed where the conversation was going as quickly as Eliza, and wore a wide smile as she squeezed into the kitchens alongside the others. It quickly deteriorated into a frown when Rowanne was brought up, especially when coupled with the word "wed". When Valerie wouldn't drop it, she butted in loudly. "Gosh, Val, are you being dense on purpose? You know who we're here to see." She reached out to Ty and tugged on his sleeve. "So, is it working? When's it gonna open? C'moooon," she whined, bouncing on her toes with excitement.

    While the group chatted, a small line slowly traced along the inside of the frame, eventually opening into a small doorway that pushed open, a deep green elven face on the other side peering through with a smile. Those who had seen her before recognized the features of Pyria, though the view was limited from the opening. "Oh! Even more people, pleasure and plentiful to see. Some I do not recognize readily either?" She glanced towards Tyrius for a moment.

    Niradnam froze for a moment as it seemed to register what he was looking at, bowing his head for a moment and asked softly, "... are ... are you an Eladrin...?"

    The female elf nodded happily, "Indeed and truly, yes -- though I prefer to be called Pyria!"

    Tyrius chuckled, "Pyria, these are Valerie, Magnolia and Niradnam," said Tyrius, motioning to each in turn.

    Valerie's eyes widened as she saw a familiar elvish face appear. "We... we have already met before... I was the Knight at the time, however.,," She recalled that day weeks back when they had run into the strange woman, and the betrayal she had felt at realizing that she had been charming her... thinking back, she felt badly about how she had reacted. The young warlock approached the door and gave the elf a smile and a curtsy. "Apologies for not properly introducing myself on our previous meeting. I am Valerie Rhitegast, it is a pleasure to truly meet you. I was the unhappy older gentleman during our previous encounter."

    Virra barely suppressed a squeal. "Pyria! It feels like it's been so long! How've you been? How've the Silverbanes been treating you?" she gushed, almost drowning Valerie out.

    Tyrius looked around for something to sit on, "We've got so much to share with you," said Tyrius. "Oh, for instance!" he said before dashing out of the room. Coming back a few minutes later with Bookwyrm in his hands, "We found some wyvern eggs." said Tyrius, unsure whether Pyria had ever seen one before. "This one's named Bookwyrm." said Tyrius as he sat down again, gently stroking the egg's shell.

    Pyria shrugged easily, "As long as we truly meet now, it's fine! I know most rarely meet me as they wish to be one way or another," her smile faltered for a moment. She looked around at the others, "It's very nice to meet you all."

    Looking to stand taller so she could look down at Virra she chuckled, "I've been good -- I'm glad I get to cook and people get to enjoy! I have learned a few new recipes as well! New things to practice is always appreciated." The Eldarin waited patiently while Tyrius went to get his egg, continuing, "They have been very kind -- very kind indeed to me, even though they do not have to be."

    With Tyrius returned and wyvern egg in tow, Pyria clasped her hands together, "Oh! How wonderful! I've never dealt with Wyverns, but in the feywild, pseudodragons are plentiful. I wonder if they might be the same?"

    "Well, I dunno what pseudodragons are, but wyverns are huge." Virra spread her arms wide. "They screech a lot, and they have these huge evil stingers — but we can train them to do good, we think." She nudged Niradnam with her elbow. "She's great, isn't she? When I said I'd met an elf before, I was talking about her. Her door just opened right by the road and she was in there, making great food and being super nice."

    She inched a little higher on her tiptoes to see Pyria better. "So, how long's it been since Ty's people figured out how to get your door to open? Sorry it took us so long to get it to them," she added, scuffing her toe on the floor. "We thought the doorknob could just attach to anything and it'd be fine, but... magic's finicky."

    Performing a small movement, Pyria created an image of a small dragon, "They are tiny little dragons that never grow much larger than a cat at most. Very playful and eager for attention, it seems they don't appear much on this plane then ..." The Eladrin listened fascinated to Virra's description of the wyverns, "Oh my! They sound fearsome and fierce ... hopefully you can manage to tame such wild beasts."

    At Virra's question of time she thought for a moment, "Hmm ... time is troubling to track within my plane ... but I think it had at least been two weeks before I heard something around my door and opened it to find strangers looking in!"

    The journey here was an arduous one. She was around people again, yet still felt so largely alone. This new land was fascinating; as was her current company, however it wasn't home... Shit magsie that elf just popped out of a painting. She stated in stunned silence trying to see what was behind her... "Holy cow! Is that your house?" The fascinated cleric then attempted to climb passed her into what lay beyond.

    With Magnolia trying to climb in, Pyria looked panicked, "Oh, uhm -- er, maybe you shouldn't ...?" As the halfling landed in the demiplane, a sensation seemed to flow over her while the Eladrin studied her expression. "Uhm, I live here yes -- I have for many years," tapping her fingers together, "I ... was exiled because I am too unstable ..."

    Magnolias mouth drops in shock, as blood rushes to her face in anger. "Who said your were unstable? I'll fight them right here and now. They're crazy, I think your perfect!" Reaching out Mags tries to hold her hands, "do you like checkers?"

    Pyria smiled at Mangolia, "I think your friends know what I mean ... my emotions are a little too much." At the mention of checkers she tilted her head, gesturing towards a shelf further in that was covered in various boardgames with their tokens, "I enjoy all games! I'm unsure which type you mean?"

    A squeal of excitement and Magnolia is exploring the board game shelf. "Can we play this? Or this? Can we have a sleep over?"

    ”Oh, no,”
    Eliza nervously chewed her lower lip and tried poking Mags with her mage hand to get her attention, ”Ms Pyria is awesome but her demiplane is kind of bewitching.” She waved at the elf, ”How do you do? I am very glad to see you again. How did they manage this anyway?” She asked as she took a closer look at the door and its knob, ”You said it was unstable?”

    Niradnam stepped closer to the frame, very obvious interest written on his face, "I ... didn't think anything could pass through -- I thought it was just a window."

    Inside, Pyria laughed happily at Magnolia's excitement, "We can play all -- but I warn the doorway doesn't always stay open ... I'd hate for you to get trapped here too and lose days in your plane." Watching the halfling dig through her collection -- many of them strange and archaic looking, some even appearing to require magic to work -- the Eladrin turned to Eliza with a smile, "I don't know -- I was ... I feared my door would be gone forever until a section of it opened up again. Something about roots and a frame? Perhaps since it was uprooted, the magic is ... unsure what to do?"

    She shrugged, "Magic and its properties were never my strongsuit. Cooking and hosting are!"

    With Magnolia hauling herself into the demiplane, Tyrius remembered something and turned to Virra, "Hey Virra, do you have the special little guy with you? Maybe we should check how he's doing and introduce them to Pyria too."

    Virra squinted. "The special little... oh, obviously! He's still around." Rummaging in her bag for a moment, she pulled out the elemental's designated waterskin and uncapped it. "Hey, Clingy. Are you doing okay?" she asked, feeling faintly guilty for not having checked on it sooner.

    A small tendril of water stretched out from the waterskin, Virra receiving a mental reply, "Ammm boooooored ... slosh sooo muuuuuuch."

    Virra managed an awkward smile. "Right. Sorry about the sloshing." Resigning herself to getting her clothes all wet once again, she lowered her pinky finger down for the tendril to start winding its way up. "Climb aboard. There's someone here who wants to see you."

    At Virra's invitation, the small water elemental began to emerge from the waterskin, flowing across her arms and gathering around her neck and shoulders, soaking her clothing. Niradnam raised an eyebrow at the elemental, noting, "Do you have a plan on what to ultimately do with the little elemental?"

    Virra grimaced a little, but once the elemental was totally free of the waterskin she let her arms drop. "Sort of. I figure the Thief stole it from the sea, so... why not return it to the sea?" She gave the watery mass a poke. "The actual sea, though. Not the murderous, undead-slave-making Sea. Unless that really is the thing Clingy was taken from, in which case..." She sighs. "I guess if he still wants to go back, that's fine."

    Tyrius grinned to the mass of water, "Heh, any idea where you were when the thief took you little guy? Anything about the area you can remember like a big building or an unusual mountain?"

    Leaning towards and around the frame, Niradnam studied the demiplane, "I suppose that's as valid as anything else. Not entirely sure where the break is between the 'sea' and the Sea. Most elementals I think come from their own elemental plane ..." The elemental wobbled from Virra's poke, reaching up a wobbly watery tendril to poke back.


    One of the servants hesitantly approached the group, bowing low, "Lords, Ladies ... we'll need to prepare for dinner this evening, and ..." they paused trying to decide how to word it politely, "... we will need to space for preparations."

    Virra's face fell. "Another plane? That's gonna be hard to figure out..." Feeling a thin tendril of water poke her in retaliation, she giggled. "But maybe having him around for a little longer won't be so bad." Had it been another one of the servants shooing them out, she might have been annoyed. Since it was one of the kitchen staff, though, she couldn't possibly stay mad. "Okay, sure, no problem, we'll get out of your hair. You're doing a great job, by the way," she said, then gave Pyria an apologetic wave. "Sounds like we have to clear out. We'll come and talk some more when they're not preparing meals, okay? Have some time for a proper game or ten." Glancing off to the others, she added, "I'm gonna take Clingy for a walk and do a little shopping before dinner. Anyone wanna come with?" She looked straight up at Niradnam with a big smile on her face.

    Pyria nodded through the frame, attempting to steer Magnolia away from her collection of games and instead out of the demiplane. "Perhaps then I can prepare a meal of my own to go along with a proper game!" The Eladrin offered cheerfully.

    Pulling back from the frame, Niradnam glanced down at Virra, "Shopping? This late ...?" He scratched his face idly, "Er ... what all do you need to get?"

    Virra's grin at the offer of Pyria-cooked food and board games began to look a little strained. "I mean... what don't I need to get?" she laughed. "There's trail snacks from the bakery, and, er, replacement shoe parts from the leather worker's, and some new clothes from the tailor because I've been wearing this same tunic for like two weeks now and anyway Val just got herself a fancy new outfit even though she already looks good in anything so I think it's only fair if I get something nice to wear too." She chewed her lip. "I... was also planning to check out the Royal Chimera," she tried. "The bookshop. I hear it's not bad."

    At the sheer list of items Virra mentioned, the scholar's eyes opened wider, "That's a lot of things ... maybe some of that should be done in the morning? Some of them might close by the time you get there ..." Seeming to register what Virra was trying to get at he added, "I ... wouldn't mind checking in at the bookshop -- I didn't get a chance to earlier, from trying to focus on research ..."

    Virra didn't bother to disguise her relief. "Great! We'd better get going then, gotta catch the Chimera people before they shut." She grabbed Niradnam's wrist and made for the door, trying not to splash the water elemental on him as she went.

    "But I don't want to go! You are my friend and we have to play all these amazing games! Oohh what's that one called? I can't read the name." Magnolia dragged her feet as a toddler would, and with the extra ushering she goes completely limp... It's probably a good thing she doesn't weigh much or removing her may have been a problem.

    Tyrius smiled, "Bookshop sounds like a good idea, I'm borrowing a few books from the library but wouldn't hurt to see what's in the bookshop too." he said as he patted Bookwyrm, "and maybe get some sort of special bag so I can carry this one as well." Looking to Pyria, Tyrius added, "Hopefully we get some answers soon and you can get out of that demiplane, but its good to see you're alright, Pyria."

    Eliza helps in dragging their limp halfling away while waving goodbye to Pyria. The half-orc eyes widen at the mention of books and says, ”I would love to come too! Get up, Magnolia. That should cheer you up too!” she waves their cleric’s hand excitedly.

    Pyria waved as the group left, turning to listen to the servant from earlier explain the intended menu for the night, her colors shifting to a deep orange, her hair looking like fallen leaves from a tree -- the first form the group originally met her as. Happily nodding she disappeared from the frame with one last wave towards the party, the sounds of the kitchen slowly coming to life instead of working on slower things in the various ovens.

    Stepping through the castle, dragged by Virra, Niradnam glanced back, catching sight a few times of others in the group, commenting, "Oh ... looks like we'll be having company while we head to the Chimera?"

    Virra blinked, then clocked the footsteps echoing behind them. She managed to smile at the same time as gritting her teeth. "Seems that way, huh." Now they'd be lucky to even get past the first stop on their trip, and she'd definitely have a headache from all the telepathic chatter once they were finished. She sped up, more to make herself feel better than in any hope of leaving the interlopers behind.

    Looking down at the deep gnome, the scholar looked back, then towards Virra as she heard in her mind, "I think I can slow them down at least, if you wanted to maybe give 'Clingy' it's walk first ...?" Turning to look over his shoulder, Niradnam focused for a moment further down the hall as a faintly transparent wall blocked the hallway, almost looking like glass. Those that tried to follow down that route would have found something blocking their path that felt solid and seemed to resist efforts to push past. After a few moments, Niradnam and Virra now out of sight, it fell away and allowed passage once more.

    The moment Niradnam turned his head, Virra did the same, ready for a show of power. The wall that sprung up down the corridor easily beat her expectations. "Is -- is that a forcefield?" she squeaked, quickly taking advantage of the time the elf had bought to rush off down the corridor and put some distance between them and the others.

    Eliza tried to initially give the mystics the benefit of the doubt but after some knocking and vigorous waving failed to catch their attention, she turned around and looked at Mags and Tyrius with an angry snort as realization finally crept in, ”Well, that was certainly subtle of them...” She said rolling her eyes.

    Tyrius shrugged, "Maybe they want some alone time? We can still go book shopping." cheered the sorcerer, "and let's not forget satchel shopping for bags big enough to hold the Eggs on their own. After we can use them as dedicated pet bags for their food and stuff."

    ”Yeah, well they could have said something.” Eliza sighed but the idea of book shopping cheered her up, as did the full money pouch in her bag. ”Let’s grab Val and have some ice cream after. These two can have all the time they need for all I care.”

    Stepping out into the evening light of Wyford, Niradnam chuckled, "They truly do like to stick together, don't they?"

    Outside, she let out a loud cheer. "That was the best! You're the best." She practically danced on the spot, suddenly full of energy again. "I've heard of wizards doing stuff like that, but... wow. Before tomorrow you gotta show me all your other tricks, okay? Promise? We can trade!"

    Running a finger along his braid the scholar smiled, "I can't maintain it for too long, but it has it's uses." He glanced around, "Ah ... sure, but some of my abilities don't really have a way to see if they've done anything. Like what I've done in the fights we've had, where I can give people almost a ... buffer of energy to shrug off attacks. It's not really visible unless it's the right circumstances."

    Happy just to have heard him agree, Virra nodded excitedly. "Sure, sure, that stuff sounds cool too. A little like the kinds of teleporting I can do -- they look pretty similar, but there's subtlety to it. Oh, and if you make energy buffers and stuff, maybe we can throw little rocks at each other to test them. I think we trust each other enough for that, right?" She was a constant stream of chatter as they walked, only ever slowing down or lowering her voice if she saw a member of the public passing close by.

    Niradnam thought for a moment as they walked, "I suppose that would be a way ... I can also move things around at range, people too if I can manage to overpower them ... unfortunately it's still somewhat weak, so it's limited. There's also my ... manipulation to myself, or healing without divination." Going through the usual motions for a "spell" he created a small burst of lightning between his hands, "Honestly ... this is probably the flashiest I can do, it's very quick ... and I tend to miss..." he glanced away, frustration on his face.
     
    Evening of the Twenty-sixth Day | Porthca:
  • Abrahms

    One Thousand Club
    Night of the Twenty-first Day | Wyford:

    At Virra's confidence in her reply, Niradnam laughed, "If only it were that easy -- but I'll keep your advice in mind." Messing with his sleeve he continued, "That could be an interesting task, even a ... parallel somewhat to my own intentions. I wonder though, what if you find others attempting to keep themselves secret as well?"

    The scholar leaned over to try and hear Virra as her voice dropped and shrugged, "I ... I couldn't let you die, and I'm sure you'd meet others who could show you far more interesting things. I was just doing the right thing -- fairly sure my Master would have set me to copy scrolls for a week if I'd allowed someone to die when I could have done something about it."

    Across the streets, a temple bell rung out the hour, Niradnam's eyes widening, "Damn -- it's gotten so late? We completely missed the dinner the Silverbanes made ... and their, er, kitchen guest." Pushing himself to standing he offered a hand to Virra, "We should probably head back -- I still need to pack all my things I left here during our trip ..."

    The various groups returned, either from their conversations or their treats, climbing into their beds for the night -- the last time they'll likely lay in such comfort until Porthica, assuming the port city hasn't burned down in their absence.

    A vague anxiety plagues Valerie as she sleeps, the ring on her finger at times tightening then loosening, almost its version of pacing. In another room, the Paladin Ander seems to roll in his sleep as well, restless, concern for Sybeth and thoughts of what awaits them.

    Morning of the Twenty-second Day | Wyford | Silverbane Castle:

    The sun rises as everyone gathers outside the castle in the courtyard once more, Rowanne had done as Niradnam expected and left before the sunrose, saying nothing except a few muttered farewells to those she passed. Niradnam meanwhile stood with reins in hand, having purchased a horse from a stablemaster, his books and belongings wrapped tightly to the back of the saddle -- Egnaro rested easily in the seat, while the Wyvern egg, the darkest shelled of the clutch, was tucked tightly into a pouch at the man's side.

    The scholar bowed to the collective group and Silverbanes, "Lords, Ladies, Master and Madame, it has been a pleasure to meet you all, and I have gained many experiences I doubt I shall soon forget. I will speak kindly of your generosity and generously of your kindness." He patted one of the satchels, "The gifts from your kitchen will definitely be enjoyed on my trip as well," he added, smiling. Doing another pat-down of his jacket, with a nod he checked his stirrups one last time before climbing into the saddle. With another bow, "I hope to see you all again sometime, hopefully without such dire events surrounding everything. Have a safe trip to Porthca!"

    Pulling a hand to the side, he directed the horse's head and with a light kick it began trotting, hooves sounding out on the cobblestones and left the inner walls of Wyford, towards the closest gate.

    Moriana turned to the rest of her guests -- her son Tyrius and those he had traveled with, gesturing to the wagon, once more loaded and ready for travel. "We wish you all safe travels as well. Sabine has suggested Sybeth stay here for now, to recover her strength and her mind, as we're much more peaceful than Porthica, especially from what it sounds like you all will be doing. You know you're all welcome here -- however, dear Tyrius," she smirked, "I suggest not trying to sneak so many women in. The front door is as good as any."

    Finishing any last goodbyes or preparations, the group headed out as well -- a few from Wyford itself waving them off, having recognized the familiar red hair of the Silverbane Lord.

    Evening of the Twenty-sixth Day | Porthca:

    It's strange to realize at first -- it's been nearly a month since you all last saw this port-city, how it made such a dive from the cliffs straight down to the sea. Or the Sea, if you knew more than the average person around here. The horses step carefully down the hillside, the weight of the wagon behind them, as Banrigg speaks up, "Where do we head to first?"
     
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