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Saga of the Nineteen Islands



The Traveller
Perhaps you were walking past a noticeboard in a market. Maybe this message was read to you as you stood among a sea of your peers. Or there's a chance that my words have reached you in a temple. Regardless of how you hear them, it is their contents which you must take in, understand and respond to.
My name is Kadri, I'm a lineaged of Arbuzs from the Kingdom of Volk in the (north of the Nineteen Islands, please look at a map) and I've found an item that was only supposed to exist in myths and legends: an Aspect Artefact. Specifically, the Artefact of Lightning, crafted by Arbuzs following the destruction of the continent of Euross and the formation of the Nineteen Islands (or so a very enthusiastic priest has told me). I understand that this is a very unlikely claim but if you answer the following request I will be more than happy to pay for the costs of the travel and accommodation needed to service it. I need help finding the other ones; I fear that if this one exists, then the other nine must as well. And if they should fall into the wrong hands then I'm certain that the Nineteen Islands will fall into chaos and bloodshed on an unforeseen scale. So if you like preventing that sort of thing (or if you'd rather like to see a real life legend), come to the Squire's Choice inn in Tallin, in the West Region of Volk.
Signed Kadri Laar
Addendum: Payment etc. can be discussed at a later date. Both lineaged and non-lineaged welcome.
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The Traveller
Rain. Kadri had grown used to it. It pattered, it poured, it pranced about in the puddles care free. The people of Tallin were much like the rain, Kadri figured. In her weeks of waiting she had watched the same people come and go, order the same drinks at the same time with the same company with very little a care in the world. They walked around the interior of the town's wooden palisade like fenced in livestock, almost oblivious to the events that had occurred only a few hundred miles southwards of their pen. The lineaged had first found this curious; it wasn't so long ago that the whole Kingdom had been in its usual turmoil of electing a new monarch. And then the thoughts had dawned on her; the last few months had been tumultuous for her at best - these were precious months that the adaptable islanders used to adjust to the new style of government. Rumours were already circling that the Queen hadn't returned to Volk since she was announced as monarch, and Kadri's shoulders shrugged at the thought - such politics didn't concern her. They couldn't concern her.

She had deliberately chosen this inn because it was fairly quiet, and chosen the town for a similar reason. There was a market and a few small businesses, but only a small population numbering no more than a thousand. Volkish people weren't curious by nature - a person's business was a person's business. For this particular business, Kadri couldn't appreciate this unwritten law enough: hanging around her neck was an amulet. To most, it would appear like an heirloom and nothing more, but on closer inspection strange symbols and pictures revealed themselves to be carved into it, each remarkably detailed for such small pictures no bigger than a square centimeter each. There were eleven in all, one of which, situated at the very top, seemed to glow a strange purple-ish blue. The first was in the shape of a horse, with great wings extended from its back. This had gathered Kadri many a look from patrons but many shrugged it off as a lineaged thing and those that couldn't help but ponder didn't question her.

She was sitting alone at a well-tended table, next to a window, watching the downpour. Her right hand tapped against the table rhythmically, a nervous twitch she had recently begun to discover. Her left hand nursed a drink, a pewter tankard filled only with water, and occasionally thumbed the amulet. Each time she did, sparks leapt from her fingers to the table whenever one of her nails tapped it, and every incident caused a worried look to escape her confident facade. She tried to relax but to no avail - nobody had come looking for a lineaged here yet, maybe her message hadn't reached anyone.

@zCrookedz @Dominaiscna @SilverFlight @Athanas @11254man


Tende altum, volare altius
It was a day that no one in their right minds would be out in, but Keenan was in his right mind, his heart just overruled it much too often. His tunic was soaked to the thigh in muddy water, Bluebell--equally muddy--pranced in the grass beside the narrow, mud-slicked cow trail, sticking her nose in every mouse hole she could find along the way. The young boy Keenan had been helping trailed a rope with the runaway cow now safely tied to the end of it. It had been a merry chase, and the young knight would be picking burs from his clothes for days most likely. Still, the boy would be saved a beating for losing the animal, and Keenan could feel at least a little better about himself knowing that he had played a part in it.

He arrived late to the tavern and was halted in the hallway by a woman with a rather displeased expression.
"I'll not have that animal trekking filth all through my inn." She began, "and you're little better."
Keenan knew very well what he looked like, a stripe of dirt over his nose, blond hair filled with twigs and slicked with water. He was sent to the stables to clean.
Blue was easy, her fur was short and she relished any chance to get thoroughly soaked. The stable-hand kindly offered him dry blankets to rub her down with and after he had cleaned his boots and removed most of the foliage from his person he was permitted (begrudgingly) to enter and remain.

Blue was familiar with this routine now and went straight for the best place by the fire, keeping Keenan in the corner of her eye as he scanned the room for who he was looking for.
He spotted Kadri likely long after she had seen him and moved to sit in an empty chair opposite her.
The first thing that struck Keenan was that nearly everything her--the way she carried herself, the restless energy in her hands, her silver-grey eyes--reminded him of the storm outside.

"Kadri Laar?" He asked with polite tentativeness. "I hear you've made some very large claims, but what drew me was your intention outlined after them."
He must not have looked very impressive, soaked through and still with the mud streaked across his face, yet the glint of well-made armour and the fine weave of his clothes would tell the careful appraiser that this was more than just an unscrupulous sellsword.
"If you are truly interested in keeping peace, then, I am interested in what you have to say."



The Z's are silent
Zephyros stared blankly ahead at the dismal little shelving before him with utter disgust. He was abhorred by the absolute gal by the claim of Tallin's "library". It was an affront to the very word, calling the small room filled with three bookcases worth of dusty books, that was attached to the side of the merchants shop that stood behind him, and actual LIBRARY. Zephyros felt as if he was going to be sick.
He reached over and pulled out a dusky green hardbacked book. He gave the cover a wipe, and read over the half peeled off golden leaf script on the cover that read "350 Horse Recipes." Zephyro's nose curled at the words. Whether this was a book for cooking for ones horse, or rather cooking up ones horse, Zephyros did not care to find out. HE slid the book back into position and closed his eyes.

Turning on his heels Zephyros looked to the kindly old shopkeeper, who had been eyeing him ever since he had come in, with a forced smile. He strode over to the counter and placed his fingers on the counter gingerly and continued to force his smile.
"And you say, this is the only "collection" of knowledge in the entirety of the town?"
The shop keeper sneered, showing off a amber colored grin.
"Thas right. Thats the library, and there's a fee for checking the books out."
Zephyros could feel the side of his lip twitch at the word. He looked back at the books, then back to the man, his demeanor no longer being able to be kept in check.
"My good man. There are more books in my lavatory, than there are in that deplorable little corner you call a "library". What's more, the content of those "books" wouldn't even be fit for the paper in said lavatory. You mock the world and all the knowledge within it calling that feeble assemblage of words and script a "library", and you should be ashamed!"

Zephyros hadn't meant to become so infuriated with the man. Just as he was sure the man hadn't meant to grab him by the back of his traveling cloak and toss him out the front door into the deluge that fell outside. Zephyros stumbled a few times, but luckily managed to keep his footing in the slick mud. He straightened his cloak, and pulled the hood over his head before turning tail on the shop and continuing down the road. He passed by a town guard and asked of new direction to the tavern that he had read about back in The Platinum Consulate on the flier from this Kadri person. He couldn't hide the skip in his step as he excitedly hurried on his way splashing through puddles as he made his way to the door of the tavern. He stepped inside, the smell of stale yeast and smoke filling his nostrils as he shut the door behind him. He took a glance around, paying little attention to the haggard woman eyeing him and his dripping cloak as he made his way across the room. There was not a great many people within the tavern. But those who belonged were very easy to tell apart from those that did not. His eyes fell on a pair sitting on the far side of the tavern, a very ornately dressed young man and a weary eyed woman whom seemed just as dower as the storm outside. Zephyros made his way to the table, catching the young mans words as he did and reaffirming himself this was indeed whom he sought. He cleared his throat rather abruptly, and made a slight bowing motion to the two.
"Greetings. Aclotarum Stipuharis Zephyros III, at your service. I believe I am answering the summons of one of you. Which one of you is Kadri Laar?"
When he'd first read the letter, he'd hardly been able to believe it. Oliver considered himself a learned man, and he most certainly knew how to read, but the talk of magic relics seemed unbelievable at best. And unbelievable as they might have been, Oliver was willing to strike at any chance of redemption. The idea of travel at little to no expense was no deterrent, either.

He began, then, to prepare for his journey. He spoke to the innkeeper, whose name was Dalen. Dalen was not quick to accept his proposition, though he had, in his years of watching Oliver and his son live there, borne a soft spot in his heart for the boy. As such, Dalen agreed to keep him fed and working, even if only after a deal of convincing from Oliver. After putting his son in safe enough hands, Oliver then set off to the town which was described, with his sword at his side and the wind at his back.

Oliver was not a man defined by his ability to prepare. In the hasty abandonment of his former home, Oliver had very much neglected to pack any sort of gear to combat weather, save for a small oil lantern. Once the mild pattering of rain had turned to a downpour, Oliver had no choice but to trek on through the storm. The food in his pack had soaked through, leaving all but the canteen of water unusable. The only piece of paper not too rendered useless was the one he'd placed under the rim of his bucket helmet. After a short time of being pelted by rain, and a bit of experimenting, he found metal armor did better at keeping him dry, though it most certainly made for a heavier rain cloak than one might normally require. He'd certainly found himself on the receiving end of a decent few stares, though he'd by this point found himself paying no mind to them. Upon entering the inn, he'd not immediately noticed the group and instead took to ordering a drink, simply idling by and waiting for some bit of dialogue to reveal this 'kadri' from the crowd, or perhaps just the sight of something which looked ancient and magical.


The Traveller
Kadri's eyes wandered to the front door of the inn, curious at the mild commotion being caused by the innkeeper and what Kadri assumed was one of the patrons. The innkeeper had generally lax rules about dogs, much as Kadri could remember, but in many a downpour she had stopped travellers from entering until they had cleaned themselves, and their animal companions, up. It was only a few minutes later that Kadri's suspicions were disproved, almost entirely, as the dog that entered wasn't one she recognised as belonging to one of the regulars, nor was its master a regular either. He had finely crafted armour, an oddity to be sure, that didn't look like it was made in Volk let alone the Empire. The traveller looked like he was some form of nobility, as fine weaving of his clothes indicated. A small amount of optimism began to wriggle itself into the lineaged's mind, though she suppressed it for now. This always happened when she saw new people enter the tavern, she wasn't going to get herself all excited for someone that might not be here answering the request she had put out.

The man sat down opposite her, and immediately asked if she was Kadri. Quickly returning to her thoughts was the optimism - finally, somebody had answered the call! Struggling to suppress her excitement, the lineaged nodded along with what he was saying - he was asking about her intentions with the artefacts, of which hers were only noble. Keep them out of the hands of those that would do wrong with it. Before Kadri could reply however, another individual approached. This man, unlike the one sat down, was much older than herself. He had spectacles his nose and carried himself in an almost childish excitement that Kadri definitely thought wasn't healthy for somebody his age. The old man introduced himself, demanding to know who had summoned him. Now he was starting to behave like a genie, Kadri thought.

The lineaged took a sip of her drink and sat up straight - she had to portray some form of confidence, and hold herself as some form of leader right?
"I'm Kadri," came her quiet reply. "It was me who put out the summons. Would you perhaps like to take a seat... Aclotarum? We have a lot to discuss and the sooner we get through it the better. Time is of the essence." Kadri paused for a few moments before she continued.
"I was hoping there would be more people," she said honestly, "but I'm certain we can fill them in as and when they arrive. First of all, my name is Kadri. Though you probably already know that. Um, I suppose you would both like to at least see the artefact that I found." She held out the amulet for the both of them to see. In the eyes of a non-lineaged, the amulet appeared much like a normal amulet, with strange symbols and pictures on it with one of them radiating a purple-ish blue light. To a lineaged, the amulet appeared the same, but an odd feeling would leap from scale to scale, not too dissimilar to when your hairs stand on end.
"I know it looks like it could just be a charm, but I assure you it isn't," Kadri insisted earnestly, turning the amulet over, revealing an inscription in a font too small to read with the naked eye. "It's a riddle. For finding the artefact of Tamsus. What exactly that artefact does, I don't know. But I do know its location."
She let it all sink in, almost abruptly stopping. She knew they'd have questions.
@SilverFlight @zCrookedz @11254man
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Tende altum, volare altius
The knight looked up when Zephyros approached them. He could tell instantly that this was a man of magics over muscle, and he had an eccentric way about him that Keenan rather liked.
"Well met sir. I believe the lady is the one you're looking for." He gestured to Kadri, moving over to make room at the table for him.

Keenan examined the plain-looking adornment in Kadri's hands. If it was special in any way, he didn't have the knowledge or skill to see it, but if this was a scam, it was a poorly-crafted one, so Keenan decided to give the girl the benefit of the doubt, and kept listening.

He had a world of questions when she was done, but most had to do with the basic knowledge of these artifacts. Likely the others would know far more of. He felt a bit like a student who had skipped his first day of school and was now lost as to what the context of the lesson was. Still, even without the knowledge of what precisely these artifacts were, he drew together what he thought were the most important questions:
"All right," Keenan began, "how did you come by the one you have? Then, if they've been hidden for so long, why root them out? Aren't they safer where they are? And three, where do you intend to take these all-powerful artifacts so they'll stay out of evil hands?"

@zCrookedz @Baconhands
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The Z's are silent
Zephyros looked over both of the individuals that sat at the table, directing his search towards the woman. He noted the young mans gesture for him to sit by making room, and kindly accepted by seating himself beside him and folding his hands into the folds of his traveling robes and nodding to the pair. He sat and listened Kadri speak of others, and wondered just how many people would answer the claim of an Artifact, or would even know what it was enough to give it a second glance. Either way, Zephyros still found the odds in his favor that he would be able to aquire the knowledge he sought from this woman, even if there were more people.

At mention of the ARtifact, Zephyros stiffened. He couldn't believe she had it here, and was more than willing to show it to the both of them out in the open just like that! As he watched KAdri clasp the amulet around her neck, Zephyros shivered slightly. SInce entering, he had noticed the pendant once or twice, each time giving him the same shivering sensation down the rough patch of scales the followed his forearms all the way up to his shoulders. Now with confirmation, it only made sense that the dragon blood within him would be the reason that he would be reacting to it in such a way. Zephyros starred behind his half moon spectacles with a sense of wonder and amazement. He wanted to reach out and touch it, to examine it in his hands, the use his skills to trace the magic within the item and discern its ancient secrets. But he thought better of himself than to just reach out and take an artifact of such power. An act that had proved rather dangerous in his past experiences.

As Kadri rolled the amulet over onto its front, exposing the inscribed etching on the back of the amulet, Zephyros leaned in even closer and squinted at the tiny textures. He glanced up at Kadri and then to the young man.
"Hmm, one moment...."
Taking his right hand out of the folds of his traveling coat, Zephyros tapped the side of his glasses perched on his nose and hummed to himself. He did this a few times, each time the color of the lenses would change color between red, green, purple, and finally settling on blue. Behind his glasses, Zephyros' eyes went back and forth, wordlessly mouthing something under his bushy beard as he did. FInally, after a few moments, he leaned back up and tapped his glasses once more to return them to their normal opaque color.
"Interesting bit of text there. Something old, very old. Possibly even older than the islands. But not so old to be lost. Not yet at least. It reads.....
A land of barrens;
a land of death
A battlefield long forgotten;
a battlefield lost to the depths

The land cannot be sown
But what is above should concern
It is what is below

Here light cannot reach
Here doth darkness sleep
Here my sibling's children guard
Here the caverns reap

Zephyros straightened himself and tugged at his beard as if pondering the words he had just read. He finally raised his hand up as if exhausted by the thought.
"Well that's just the most maddeningly unhelpful doggerel I have ever read."

@Baconhands @SilverFlight


The Traveller
Kadri looked the armoured man in the eyes; out of the two individuals she was talking to, he seemed the most cynical and thus she prioritized responding to his concerns first.
"Well, to answer your first question would take a long time. Once we've begun the journey to our first destination I will tell you about it but for now that tale is a bit too long. What I can say about it's discovery, however, is that it was essentially an accident," Kadri explained sincerely. "I'm not an archaeologist, I wasn't looking for it. I found it by accident, I stumbled upon it. Needless to say that it's inevitable that others will be intentionally looking for the rest, and probably have been looking for them for a long time. I would be surprised if somebody hasn't found at least one other already. That brings me on to your next question. There are bad people looking for them." She stopped, lowering her voice to essentially a whisper, "Over the last few months after I found this amulet I've been hunted by several groups; the first is the nobility of Volk, the second is an organization who call themselves the Triumvirate. This organization has spies up and down the Nineteen Islands and they have assassins for hire; they bring down governments, manipulate councils, anything that serves their agenda. I don't know specifically what that is but I can't imagine it's any good."
The lineaged paused again, taking a sip of water. "Where will I take them? Well... I don't quite know yet. I can't imagine handing them over to any officials would be positive in any way. This may have to be decided later."

She let the information sink in again. Kadri almost sighed; it was apparent she should have put more information in the message.
As Zephyros finished reading, Kadri simply nodded, "It took a while for me to decipher, but I'm certain we'll be heading to the Salts, looking for a cave of some sort which is probably underwater."
Kadri appreciated the improbability of the sentence she just said. The Salts was a Commonwealth colony: simply thousands of miles, if not hundreds of thousands of miles, of salt flats. It rained only a scant few weeks every year, and the colony had a reputation for being one of the most dangerous places in the Nineteen Islands due to the aggressive nature of the environment, the wildlife and the Natives. Finding something underwater there would be almost impossible. But other clues pointed there, she was certain. "I was hoping that once we arrived, we could use some of the locals' knowledge to help us a bit more."
@zCrookedz @SilverFlight @11254man
Oliver had found himself sitting at a table opposite the party of curious adventurers. He set his helmet on the table next to him, removing the piece of paper inside and laying it on the table in front of him. He had shorn up his hair for the occasion, though he let his beard stay the length it had been. There was a bit of commotion from the table across from him, though it seemed more like introductions and less like talk of history changing magic, so he took his ear off it for the time being. He took a quiet sip from his drink, opening his ears to the tavern at large. Lucky then that it wasn't but a few seconds more before he found the one he'd been looking for.

Across the room rose the voice of a young lady. She produced an amulet, and continued on in conversation Oliver had not previously been paying much attention to, "I know it looks like it could just be a charm, but I assure you it isn't." He couldn't help but draw a giddy smile at the first mention of what couldn't be anything but the mysterious relic he'd heard so little about. He henceforth turned his full attention to that particular table, though not so much as to look like more than a wayfaring drunkard, albeit one in rather conspicuous garb. As he listened on, the older of the two who'd no doubt answered the same call as he had began reading a riddle of sorts. The riddle itself didn't speak to Oliver as more than a bit of rambling, though the answers following answers the woman provided certainly piqued his interest, to put it lightly.

As the lady hushed herself to a whisper, Oliver lost her words over the soft crackling of the fire. He didn't dare lean in, as he was still gauging the trio. As she raised her voice once more, and told them of the adventure's path -- one to the Salts -- Oliver nodded to himself. He'd decided that the other two who'd approached her seemed kind enough, and he'd figured that, save for the dog, he'd not have a great deal of trouble from any of them, should he make his presence known. As such, he quietly pushed himself up from the table, taking a few deliberate steps over to where the trio of adventurers sat. His voice was not deep, though it was layered with a grovel -- one as if he'd taken in smoke. He spoke primarily to the girl in possession of the amulet.
"I hope you understand madam that, if you're trying to keep this artefact a secret from some un-named villain, you could be doing a better job. I'd personally suggest not throwing out notices with your exact location on them next time."


The Z's are silent
Zephyros listened to Kadri answer the mans questions, which he had to admit were rather specific and interesting questions to present to the young lineage. Though he couldn't help but shift a bit at some of her answers. Specifically the ones about the groups that were now looking for the Artifacts as well as them. But what bothered him most of all was how easily Kadri had just happened to find this artifact with such little ease. The thought of her just stumbling across it willy nilly, made his blood begin to boil.
"Pardon my incredulity, but I spent the better part of my own life looking for the Artifacts and have never found so much as shadow of one in all my travels. Until I saw your notice young lady, I had begun to give up on seeing one in my life time. I have serious doubt that you just HAPPENED to stumble across one without even looking!?Why, it puts nearly my entire life's work as nothing more than a sham!"

Zephyros hadn't meant to get so heated over the subject, but his passion had taken hold and that sometimes sent him into a tizzy. He leaned back in his chair and folded both of his arms over his chest starring at the amulet. He mulled over the rest of her idea, heading to the Salts was a good idea. It most certainly fit the description of the cipher on the amulet, and if there were underground caverns there, maybe they would get "lucky" again and find a second artifact. While he simmered, Zephyros noted the gentleman standing from his table and approaching them. His hand slid for the bag that rested on his hip, ready to retrieve Craig should the need arise. He watched and listened to the man, who made an excellent point indeed at their clandestine meeting. But something else gnawed at the edge of Zephyros' mind.
"It seems awfully rude to just approach a table without introductions. I still have yet to learn the mans name beside me, and here we are plotting deep secrets and possible subterfuge."
Zephyros waved his hand in the air, noting that he had gotten off subject from their purpose.
"I any case, whoever this gentleman is, he's right. For all we know a spy for the Triumvirate of the Volk could have just as easily seen that notice you posted and be in the town right this very minute.."
As he spoke, Zephyros let his hand slide the rest of its way into the bag at his hip, and felt the smooth surface of Craig beneath the flap. Just in case of course.
@Baconhands @11254man @SilverFlight


Tende altum, volare altius
Keenan wanted to follow up by asking exactly how one 'stumbled' upon a mythical artifact of that much power, but be bit his tongue as Zephyrous seemed to have enough indignation for all of them.
There were things she obviously hadn't told them yet, and if people were already hunting her there was no way she could know who to truly trust. That was a fair point.
Keenan concluded that this Kadri girl was nothing more than what she appeared to be: an average person who had stumbled into something extraordinary, and was trying to do her best with what had been put upon her.
A voice behind them made Keenan turn round, and he tried to hide a smile at the new man's blunt assessment. He had been thinking that very same thing.
"It could be seen as a strategic move." He felt the need to come to her defense, "If she's already being hunted, more hunters might step on each other's toes, muddy the trail." His expression fell serious once more.
"But Zephyros and our new friend are right. Whoever is hunting you, is most assuredly here. Now."
He looked around at the other two men.
"Forgive me, I am being Rude. My name is Keenan Dunmar. I'm no one of consequence, but I am here to help. And that's Bluebell," here he gestured to the massive warhound asleep by the fire, "she's smarter than she looks."
The dog opened one critical eye from her place across the room and seemed to glare at her master for his backhanded comment.
@Baconhands @11254man @zCrookedz
The criticism from the newcomer made Kadri take pause; this was a valid criticism. When she'd come up with the idea she hadn't thought about this factor but it seemed so obvious now. What if she'd already been discovered by this organisation, what if the Triumvirate was in the town. She took in a breath, slowly, coolly, trying to maintain her composure as this sudden realization hit her. However, this facade of calm was further assaulted by Zephyros' tirade about how he'd been hunting the artefacts for what she assumed was the better part of his life. She'd not been expecting these verbal assaults and criticisms and wasn't exactly in the best position to respond to them. Luckily, in a sense, she didn't have to respond to the critique about safety; the younger man named Keenan, as he now introduced himself, leaped to her defense, stating that it was a strategic move. Kadri nodded in agreement - the facade of leadership would be maintained! Of course this was all part of her grand strategy to keep the artefacts safe! Muddy the trail! This was exactly what she had in mind.

"So... hoping we've got this particular conflict out of the way, I'm afraid that you three will be correct. They're almost certainly here, in this town, and if they are now, then they have been for a while." She glanced around for a moment, "And if they are in Tallin, then they probably have this place under watch. My suggestion is thus; we need supplies for the Salts."
Kadri placed a small pouch on the table. Opening it, she revealed there were a couple of dozen gold coins inside, "I'm more than happy to provide the funding you need to get the supplies you think will be necessary. I suggest you go and collect them and I stay here; if these agents see me leave, perhaps they'll be motivated into action, which I'm not so keen on. I have a way to get us quickly out of the city which I hope will be untraceable. I'll just need you all to say that you're ready and that you have what you need."

@SilverFlight @zCrookedz @11254man
Isolde was exhausted. She'd spent the last week or so travelling from East to West across Volk to reach Tallin. Her aim was to find Kadri, whose notice was found by the healer’s son, Mika, on the town bulletin board. The old healer had been concerned with her decision to travel so far from home just to find a lineaged, but truth be told, Isolde also wanted to use the opportunity as a reason to get away from the comfortable life she had gotten used to - to step back for a while and gather herself. Once she'd decided on leaving for Tallin, Isolde packed lightly with a change of clothes, some food and some money for the road. From their little town, she traveled East by hitchhiking and getting rides on carriages from town to town whenever she could.

Her last lift was from a farmer travelling to a nearby large town to sell his produce. He dropped her off at a fork in the road, splitting their two destinations, and gave her instructions with regards to getting to Tallin. From there, she walked the last few kilometers to the small town, eyeing the heavy grey clouds swirling up above. Not long into her trek, it began to rain lightly, the silence echoing with the light pitter patter of rain on the ground. Nervousness prickled Isolde's skin, when she felt the cold dampness of water on her hood, and she started to walk faster in the hopes of avoiding the rain. However, not long after, the sky rumbled loudly while the rain started coming down in buckets, yet the town was still a ways off. Though she debated waiting the storm out somehow.. it didn't look like it would lighten up anytime soon and she figured that it was better to walk now than be out in the dark when night fell.

However, as she walked, she grew increasingly nervous and on edge. It wasn't the rain, cold and harsh as it was, that made her so uncomfortable with being out in such a downpour...but rather, it was the unpleasant memories that the sounds of the storm were stirring, like rain on the earth of a new and unsettled grave. It made her mind inch towards the images of a darkened night, rain crystallized in thin air, a roof caving in and blood, lots of blood.

Her walking speed increased into a run as she rushed through the pouring rain, hood falling back and away from her face. As she ran, trying to reach the town as soon as possible, she could only keep chanting to herself don't think about it don't think about it until her feet hit the cobblestone floor the town's thoroughfare and she was safely under the protection of a roof, away from the merciless battering of the rain. Save for her bundle of things, she was almost entirely soaked through and her clothes clung desperately to her body. She was shivering uncontrollably, but it was not from the cold.

Looking up desperately for someplace warm to seek shelter in, Isolde was relieved to find that she was at the tavern. The owner who stopped her at the door seemed ultra pissed upon observing how much of a mess she was. However, upon begrudgingly muttering "...you're not the worst at least.." and casting an annoyed glance inside, she relented as long as Isolde took off her muddy boots and left her cloak out to dry. Once she'd done so, she eagerly entered the tavern. Upon setting foot in the main area, a barely noticeable chill seemed to flood the room, picked up only by those who were idle or were keen of sense. The first thing that struck Isolde was the chatter of the people and the warm and lively armosphere of the room. Despite having learnt that she didn't need to hide her heritage, Isolde instinctively pulled up the collar of her shirt to hide her scales, a move she had done so many times that it became a reassurance; it was the familiarity of gesture that was comforting.

Immediately, she made her way over to the fireplace, desperate for some warmth despite being naturally cold resistant. Upon nearing the warm glow of the fire, Isolde came face to face with a relatively small war dog who had situated itself near the flames. Awkwardly, she stepped around the animal and took up a spot by the fire a feet or so away from Bluebell. Descending to sit on her haunches, with her skirt pooling at her bare feet, she put her arms around herself, curling as close to the fire as she could get. At some point, the owner brought her a cup of some hot liquid and, though she didn't drink, Isolde gratefully accepted it.

Isolde focused the rest of her time on warming herself and calming down. She listened to the surrounding conversations more for the sound of voices than the actual words being said, all the while cradling the cup in her still shaking hands and ignoring the frost building at the rim.
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Tende altum, volare altius
The dog, Bluebell, looked over at the young woman who had sat down beside her, head remaining fixed lazily on the carpet. It only took a few moments of deliberation before Blue rolled to close the distance between them and wound up on her back right up against Isolde, paws tucked neatly against her chest, belly exposed for a rub. Gravity pulled her lips back, giving her a goofy grin as she kept one expectant eye on her new friend.

Keenan stood at the request. "Seems like a good idea. This..method of getting us out of the village...it doesn't require horses?"
He would have given quite a lot for a good horse. Not being able to afford one in exile he had not wanted to add horse theft next to dogknapping when he'd left the king's service.
"We can buy food, waterskins and tools. If we going underground...perhaps a fire-less way to make light?" Some of the serfs under his father's rule were miners, so Keenan knew about fire eating up the air in tight underground spaces.
"I'll see it done Kadri, meanwhile, keep my dog with you. She'll be useful if anything happens."
Keenan went then to check on Bluebell after that and was surprised to find her snuggled up to a complete stranger.
"Who's your friend Blue?"
The dog rolled back over at the sound of Keenan's voice and sat up, huge pink tongue lolling out of smiling jaws. She gave a small huffy 'woof'.
"Oh, a good person?" Keenan took in the sight of her soaked clothes and bare feet and his brow creased a little with worry.
"Are you all right miss? Do you need aid?"
He didn't notice the frost creeping over the cup, having eyes only for the fact that she seemed to be in distress.
"Blue, you see that woman there? Her name is Kadri. You'll protect her while I'm gone."
Blue looked from Keenan to Kadri and back again, snorting her affirmation.
Isolde who had been staring into the fire, deep in her own thoughts, when she felt something brush up against her. Looking down, she was surprised to find that the dog had rolled over to her and was now lying on its back, looking goofily up at her. For a second, she wanted to pull away from the dog or ignore it, but instead she found herself trying to bite down on a smile that was tugging at her lips. The dog was very cute, to say the least, and there was something very inviting with how it lay its belly exposed to her as if asking for a good rub.

Hesitantly, she let go of the glass with her one hand and reached down to the dog, trailing her finger tips in the soft fur of its belly. It felt very warm... and nice.. and she continued to stroke its stomach gently, watching Blueball’s stomach rise and fall against her hand with each breathe. Unconsciously her smile grew and the frost on the cup began to thaw.

So engrossed was Isolde in the dog that she hadn’t noticed Keenan approaching until he spoke. At his voice, she jumped slightly and looked up. Instinctively, she withdrew her hand from Bluebell, a blush rising to her cheeks at the embarrassment of having been caught indulging in the dog by the dog’s very own owner. Silently, she bore witness their small interaction, her eyes flickering from looking at Bluebell’s goofy expression to studying Keenan’s face.

A good person... he had said. And her eyes lowered, the grip on the cup tightening ever so slightly. Was she really?

At his question, Isolde looked up and managed a faint smile. There was still a barely noticeable flush darkeneing the pale skin of her face. “... I um... I’m fine thank you,” she said softly, her voice coming out a little hoarse, “I just need to dry off.. I was out in the rain... “ Her eyes moved to the streak of mud across his face and a smile twitched at her lips. Though she wanted to raise it, she thought it was not something she should tell someone she just met.

“...um... is this your dog?” She said softly, attempting to change the subject, “... she’s very sweet... is her name Blue?”



Tende altum, volare altius
Keenan nodded. "Short for Bluebell. I trained her from puppyhood, she is supposed to be a warhound..."
Blue rolled back again, putting her big, squared head in Isolde's lap. "But that doesn't always apply," Keenan chuckled.
"There's no shame in asking for help, you know." He added softly. "If you need anything, I am about to go out and get supplies for my party."
Blue looked up, fixing him with a pleading expression. Keenan made an exasperated noise.
"I fed you four hours ago."
The dog licked her pink lips...and Keenan caved.
"All right. I'll see what I can get."
He gave Isolde a helpless smile. "She's a bottomless pit. My name is Keenan by the way."
"Bluebell.." she repeated softly after he had introduced his four-legged friend, carefully scratching the the dog under her chin. It was amazing how quickly she was warming up to the Bluebell....there was just something very warm and irresistibly lovable about her. Even the usually distant Isolde couldn't' help herself from laughing lightly as Keenan joked about Bluebell not being very warhound-like.

At his offer of help, Isolde was taken aback slightly by his kindness. "... I..." she started but paused, tempted to take him up on his offer. After all, it had been a while since she'd gotten something to eat. But she still felt awkward about asking this man who was still technically a stranger, for help. "...I understand, " she reassured in a soft voice, offering him a faint smile, "... but I will be fine for now... thank you for the offer."

Looking down, her smile grew again at Bluebell's antics and Keenan's inability to resist the dog's cuteness. Her attention flickered to him once again when he gave her his name. "Keenan..." she murmured softly, testing the name on her lips, "Ah.. my name is Isolde." Her name sounded weird to her ears and she bit her lip in embarrassment, turning her head slightly to the side. "..Oh um, before you go... Keenan, " she said hesitantly, figuring that she should say something for his good. Reaching up, she touched her face and around the area of her nose with her hand, her smile twitching slightly, "..you have a little something um.. here..."

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Tende altum, volare altius
"Well met Isolde," he said finally, not wanting to press her further. To Blue he gave a mock-stern look. "Be good." He ordered, before turning to go.
He paused when Isolde mentioned his face, pulling his fingers up to the bridge of his nose and finding the dry streak of dirt.
"Ah, knew I'd missed something." He said it a little sheepishly, swiping at his nose until the dirt was gone. After that he gave a stiff bow, "by your leave, lady," and went.
It was probably one of the worst days Destrian could possibly have picked to continue his journey. He was literally soaked to the Bone, as he had been marching for over eight hours through this downpour. Yet he refused to stop, no matter how tired or cold he felt. For he feared that should he stop now, there would be a a pretty large chance he would lose heart and turn back. Matter of fact, every step he was making took considerable willpower. He was fighting with himself in order to keep walking.

Couple hundred steps later, he was losing it again.
My Family, My home, my Life! You have taken it all from me!
He paused, the memories overrunning him once more. They had been tormenting him ever since he had left his refuge, fueled by his fear and uncertainty. He was a monster. Someone was bound to recognize him. He was bound to lose it again, and this time would be worse than all other times.

No,No. Don't think about past. Don't think about future. Just go to this tavern, and all will be alright. Come on, now. Left, Right, Left, Right..
But his mind refused to let him off the hook. They'll kill you. They know who you are. They know what you are.
They begged for mercy, and yet you hanged them like criminals. The oldest one was eleven. Eleven!

Don't think. Left, Right, Left, Right...
He finally arrived at the Inn. He could feel the heat coming from his chest. He wasn't stressed enough for it to glow to bright, but his hands trembled slightly and his nerves were on edge: The first stage before every breakdown. He barely managed to resist punching the inkeep when she made a snide remark regarding his appearance, and instead just left his overcoat outside to dry, and entered the Inn. He bought something to drink, more to calm his nerves than actual need, and scanned the room, looking for the one that had posted the notice. All the while, he was extremely aware of the glares of the other patrons.

Finally, he spotted Kadri, sitting by a table in the company of an older man. He made his way there, trying his best to hide his trembling hands.
Kadri Laar? I'm here for the notice you put up. If what you said is indeed true, I think I want in.
Any person with social skills would probably have a more polite way of putting his offer forth, but Destrian had spent the last few years away from people. His social skills had much need of a dust-up
"Well don't we have droves of travelers showing up now!" Oliver turned to Kadri, throwing his palms against the table in front of him. He'd seen out of the corner of his eye another traveler stroll in, though he'd not had the ability to pay it too much mind to it. If these travelers are -- doubtful as it may be -- without malicious intent, he thought, furrowing his brow whilst unknowingly laying an intense stare upon Kadri, then that means it won't be long before the more undesirable poke their heads in. It donned on him then that, like himself, a deal of those willing to take aim on this girl and her relic would take their time in the shadows before making their intentions clear. He'd not remembered anyone more suspicious than himself anywhere near the inn though he quickly realized this would be the case even with spies and the like. After all, it was a spy's job to keep their presence unknown. He shook his head a little bit, gauging the time before a crossbow bolt would fly through the window, or before a group of bandits would kick down the door and draw swords. Not long, he'd realized, though hopefully long enough to carry through conversing for a few minutes more. While it certainly set on a bit of paranoia, this winding thought process did also absolve the particularly conspicuous man who'd just approached them. After all, someone heart-set on stealing the relic wouldn't stumble so awkwardly into a group likely to protect it.

Oliver snapped himself out of his trance (which had, in reality, only lasted a few seconds,) whipping his head back around to face the man who'd just arrived. He extended his arm with an open hand, drawing an admittedly nervous smile. "Name's Oliver," he said, "You here about the relic?"
The idea of having a guard dog protect her was a nice thought that felt reassuring; the only issue is that it appeared to be distracted. It appeared as if the group was rapidly increasing in number, as another came forth volunteering his services to help find the artefacts. An inkling of suspicion ran through Kadri's mind, fueled primarily by Oliver's suggestion that the Triumvirate could have easily followed her here. But the thoughts soon passed for more optimistic ones; indeed, Kadri was still feeling somewhat cautious but this caution was overshadowed by the thought that most of the Volunteer would be genuine in their claim to want to help Kadri find and protect the artefacts. If there was one bad egg, then surely the group would be able to handle it. Especially since the majority were lineaged.

"Yes, I'm Kadri. Glad to have you on board. I hope your trip getting here was fine. Let me catch you up to speed. This is the artefact," she said, indicating to the amulet that hung around her neck. "We're about to go and find the next one. There's also an organization after us. I could go into more detail, and I promise I'll answer any questions you have later, but time is of the essence at the moment and I'm genuinely beginning to worry that we're going to be followed if we linger around here any longer."
The signs of an internal debate ran across Kadri's features, she looked at the amulet, at the glowing symbol of the horse. Could she risk using it now? Should she? Paranoia was beginning to set in - if she used it, she could practically ensure that they wouldn't be followed. They would inevitably be found, of course, the Triumvirate had connections everywhere, but it would give them a head start. Her eyes wandered the room, looking over each individual, trying to ascertain their motivations. It only took a few moments before her eyes stopped on an individual.

He was sitting alone at a table, a pint glass in his hand which he sipped occasionally. His back was facing her, but she wasn't looking for his facial figures; her eyes, instead, focused on a symbol, woven into the tunic at the shoulder on his right arm. A black feather, a claw and an reptilian eye. The lineaged's eyes went wide in alarm.
"Sorry to cut this conversation short but I'm going to briefly step outside. I'll be in the stables. I'm leaving Tallin in five minutes. Tell him," Kadri whispered hurriedly pointing towards Keenan before she uttered a phrase underneath her breath.

In a flash of lightning that leached down from the roof of the tavern, Kadri vanished.
@11254man @Athanas @zCrookedz @ Anyone at the table


Tende altum, volare altius
The supplies did not take long to get, Keenan was conservative, and bought dried rations and the bare basics for their trip. Several magelight spheres were tucked away in the satchel, which he had also bought, and slung it underneath the shield on his back. As he walked back he couldn't shake the feeling that someone was watching. Every time he turned to see who however, there was never anyone there...

Blue kept close to Isolde and watched as Kadri addressed the others. She gave no indication that she had heard what was being said, but when Kadri vanished, Blue picked herself up off the rug by the fire. She gave Isolde's cheek a big, sloppy lick and took hold of her sleeve, tugging it once with purpose before letting go and trotting off toward the stables.
Keenan found his dog there and set the satchel down, casting about for Kadri.
"I have the things you wanted." He called out, keeping his voice low so as not to draw too much attention.
@Dominaiscna @Baconhands
Destrian managed to calm a little. At least the process of joining this merry band didn't prove to be as difficult as he expected. The thought of an organization was both worrying and comforting: Sure, it might prove dangerous, but it would also give him a way to vent his violent tendencies. Plus, saving the life of his companions was a tried-and-tested way of making friends! At least, that's how it worked amongst bandits. He wasn't sure how these "normal people" would take to him. Nevertheless, he did his best to respond in as orderly a manner as possible.

"Pleased to meet you,everyone. My name is Destrian. Don't worry about explanations, I'm content to-"
Destrian would probably have continued, if not for the fact that Kadri just disappeared, presumably teleporting to the stables. Before going, however, she seemed worried about something. Something from this tavern...
Destrian at this time decided that the best course of action was to act quick enough so that the agents of the organization would not have time to form a new plan for that situation. Therefore, he said to the other two currently present at the table:"Kadri seems to believe that the agents she mentioned are getting closer, and we'd be wise to prepare ourselves for assault. We'll have time for introductions along the way. Let's head to the stables".

Arriving at the stables, and In a state of considerable Paranoia, Destrian did his best to stop himself from shaking as he felt his chest glowing hotter by the minute. He actually jumped a little when he noticed the presence of another man already there, but he soon realized that this was the one Kadri had called Keenan, so he just called out to him: "Keenan,right? Don't worry, I'm a friend. The name's Destrian. I'm here to join up."

@SilverFlight @Baconhands
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The Z's are silent
Zephyros' gaze wandered around the table at the approaching new faces. He committed each to memory, and those what gave their names, he also committed. It was turning out to be quite the menagerie of people that had turned up for this little exploit. What he found most interesting however, was the amount of Lineage that had shown up. In fact, if his senses were correct, everyone in the party besides Keenan was lineaged. This raised a number of questions within Zephyros', but none so much as why. He would have to find out later he assumed, as he saw Kadri excuse herself and then with a pop of lightning, she decided to just vanish. Zephyros adjusted hsi specticales a bit, as he stared at where the girl had just been.
"Well if we had been trying to avoid suspitions before, we certainly will make ourselves known with showmanship such as that...."
His eyes fell to the man named Destrian, and he hummed to himself as eyed the man.
"No offense, but I'm not about to take orders from someone a third my age. Besides, I have to grab something before we depart. Hopefully I can get it right here..."
Turning towards the bar, Zephyros stood from the table and shouldered his bag to sit properly before turning towards the bar and finding and empty hole he could get the keeps attention through. When the surly old hag made her way over to him Zephyros put on his most delightful smile through his bushy beard and tried to be pleasant.
"Hello, yes, I was wondering if I could buy a couple of bottles of wine from you."
The woman gave him a cross expression and folded her hands over her chest.
"You'll be hard pressed to find that in my tavern. I only serve the strong stuff."
Zephyros' smile dropped to a grimace as he glance at the wall behind her. Sure enough he saw countless brown bottles lining its shelves, but nothing that resembled the long necked decanter of a wine bottle. The thought made Zephyros bristle with slight frustration.
"Surely you have something? A.....fine.....establishment such as this, must have the proper drinks for civilized individuals."
At this point, Zephyros had reverted to his usual strategy of belittling like he had with the shop keep and his "library". Fortunately, this inn keeper didn't quite seem to catch on as much as the previous had. She turned, and grabbed a couple of bottles of the shelves and placed them before Zephyros.
"Nicest stuff I got. Got a hell of a kick too. 5 gold a piece."
Zephyros sighed, the bottles were smaller than a bottle of wine with a short squatty neck, but they still had a larger rounded barrel to them for plenty of content. He couldn't rightly tell, but he thought the liquor within might be opaque, but the dirty brown bottle made it hard to tell. He grimaced at the price, they were certainly the price of a nice bottle of wine. In the end though, he decided that it was better than nothing and reached into his bag to retrieve the gold coins. He placed them on the counter and hefted the bottles into each arm. With a smile and a nod, he made his way towards the door while juggling the two containers and the hood to his satchel. With a flip of the wrist and some fancy maneuvering, both of the bottles disappeared into the bag without a whisper of noise. Zephyros smiled, closed the bag and then pulled his hood over his head before heading out the door back into the gloom of the rain.
He found the stables a short distance away, where in he found several of the others who had already made their way. He stepped under the thatch roof only just and searched the faces.
"So, are we riding out of here or what?"

@Baconhands @Athanas @SilverFlight (I think?)

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