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Zeroth
`“I dunno, darling,” the raspy voice of the scarred Naga-Ashen half-breed began, “Blood Thistle is mighty hard to grow, even in a region as rich as Gloam. It takes 50 years to bloom, which is when the leaves become particularly... potent.” He spared no words trying to conceal the fact that Ivory was seeking a poison.

“I didn't travel all this way to be told it's not possible to acquire.” Ivory was persistent. She ran a shop in Delteria and knew how to haggle. She decided to be more direct with the creature’s criminal tone. “You must know where I can find some.”

“I’ll tell ya what, love. I'll ask around. See if anyone's got any still lying around.” He scrawled something on some parchment and shoved it in his satchel. “Not likely, though. The stuff was hoarded decades back and nobody has the heart to grow it. At least if they do they don't much care to tell anyone.”

“Thank you. It is much appreciated.” Her tone was almost too formal for the rundown apothecary.

The floorboards creaked as the half-bread’s weight shifted. “You don't look the part of a killer. But I supposes that's the idea...”
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Xen






Xen walked the streets of Wormsloe, confident that anyone who did recognize him wouldn’t have the courage to approach him. He was armed to the teeth with ornate but functional weaponry, jingling with each confident step. He entered the back door of an apothecary, The Empty Bottle, and hungrily licked his lips. Inside, a muffled conversation could be heard coming from the front, but Xen paid it no mind. The only things on his mind was refilling the empty flask he carried on his belt, and wetting his parched lips. He opened a cellar door and descended.

Inside was a gruesome sight. A female Naga lie dead, pale as a Naga could be, in a dimly lit corner. Her tail had been detached, and thrown hastily across her lifeless body. Xen quickly twisted the cap off his flask, crossed the room, and held it under the spigot of a small barrel surrounded by a splotches of blood. He twisted the valve quickly and precisely as a steady stream of thick, red liquid poured into his metallic flask. He took a swig, sighed, then topped it off. It had been a long day for Xen, putting the pieces into place for his greatest scheme yet. He normally worked out of his hideout, but disliked having guests there. He still needed a center of operations, however, if he wanted to carry out more elaborate plans. Wormsloe was an ideal location, being in the middle of the North-South trade route. He could recruit and influence from the shadows here if all goes according to plan. The only piece missing was what he would do next to draw the eye of the public away from Wormsloe.

He returned the leather-bound flask to its holster, then walked back upstairs. He was curious what type of visitor would go to an apothecary in Wormsloe.
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Ivory






“You don't look the part of a killer. But I suppose that's the idea...” The Ashen Mix was tough but seemed to take to her curiosity with a spark of enthusiasm, almost as if he was pleased by her approach and tenacity. Although Wormsloe hadn't been around as long as Delteria, it had certainly made a name for itself - if you were of the deviant type. It really wasn't the kind of place that Ivory was known to be found, but the path she had put herself on since leaving her family had consistently pulled her darker nature to the forefront. If she was being honest, it didn't really bother her. The Naga-Ashen's comment still caught her off guard.

"I'm not a killer," she mumbled as she turned to exit the shop. The creature had already made up his mind about who she was, so she was aware she was wasting her breath, but it was more of a knee-jerk reaction than anything. Her family had always held reputation above everything except the Goddess. They would be disgusted to see her here now. She would have, no doubt, fallen far in their eyes. As Ivory brushed the arbitrary line of thought from her head, a tall man stepped directly between her and the door. She gasped slightly and stepped back to view his towering form. His scowl was obvious, as if she had offended him with her mere presence. Well, that's just absurd, she thought. She had never seen him before. There was no reason for him to dislike her. By nature, however, she dropped her line of sight to somewhere in the middle of his chest. "Excuse me," she whispered, her voice coming out more meek than she intended. It even cracked at the end. She immediately cleared her throat and tried again; this time with more volume and confidence. "Excuse me, sir. You're blocking my path." She looked up, attempting to meet his eyes.
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Xen





To Xen’s surprise, he saw a young woman holding a conversation with Agren about Blood Thistle, of all things. A young woman all alone in this city was rare, but one seeking that poison was exceptional. She was just turning to leave as he silently crossed the room in spite of his previously loud equipment. He made it a point to loudly step in front of her, drawing her attention to his intimidating scowl.
“Excuse me, sir,” she said in a predictably polite tone, “you’re blocking my path.” He met her eyes with his shockingly red ones.

“Blood Thistle? I can help with that.”

An eerie silence fell on the room for a moment too long. Xen broke it, adapting a polite tone to match Ivory’s.

“Forgive me. I forgot my manners. I’m Xen, the owner of this establishment. And who do I have the pleasure of making the acquaintance?” He reached out his hand, which was now returning to a natural color as the Naga blood circulated through his system.
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Ivory






Demon. The creature in front of Ivory couldn't be a man, a human. Could he? His crimson eyes held hers when he stretched his hand to greet her. She reciprocated the gesture out of conditioning but barely caught the end of his question in her haze. "...pleasure of making the acquaintance?" He was introducing himself. What was his name? She had missed it, mostly still in her own mind, surprised by her lack of fear. If this man was truly a demon, why wasn't she afraid? She responded, her voice steadier than she expected it to be.

"I'm Ivory. Did you say you knew where I could find blood thistle?" She glanced back at the Naga running the shop, glaring at his obvious deception. It didn't surprise her that a shop owner in this area would be less than honest. It did surprise her, however, that the man in front of her would be willing to help her out of the kindness of his heart. Wormsloe residents weren't kind. She would keep her cards close to the chest until he showed his own. She knew how to play a helpless damsel when it suited her. She turned back to the man in front of her. "I would greatly appreciate it if you could assist me. Please." She smiled slightly.
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Xen





Xen had a reputation. Most people knew his name from stories. A pyrat from the time of Cynthia and Elk, known for the most vile crimes and acts. But the same man, still alive today? Preposterous. Rational individuals figured the title must be passed down in memory of its original holder, but the superstitious passed along legends that he was indeed the same man, and had obtained eternal life via nefarious means. Nobody believed them, of course, but it was a common enough tale that anyone claiming Xen as a name would raise a few eyebrows. To Xen’s surprise, this time it did not.

“I would greatly appreciate it if you could assist me.” Ivory, was it? She looks fair enough to hail from royalty, or at the very least wealth. Especially with that tone and accent. I wonder if it’s her birth name. “Please.” Xen cracked an evil looking smile. She’s either trying to kill someone or she’s researching thistlization, and no one in their right mind is going to make mention of either. And either way, he was interested. He channeled flux with the naga blood in his system, creating a unique magical field that intimidated those within. “Ofcourse. Come with me.” He turned and walked out the door. His shopkeep didn’t know anything of blood thistle other than it being a poison, so he didn’t want to involve him. Besides, they genuinely didn’t have any there.
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Ivory






Ivory didn't hesitate to follow him. She barely even regarded the shopkeeper as she walked out the door. Her drive to discover the secrets behind the journals she had found were overwhelming her thoughts. Maybe this man even knew where she could find the descendants of the journals' author. His brusque demeanor gave away a few hints of who he was as a person. He was confident in his decision, was likely respected, and he was knowledgeable about the things he spoke of. His appearance didn't indicate much about his status but the owner of the shop didn't act as though he was anyone of importance; just a man that was sure of himself, apparently. She moved from walking behind him to his side. She looked up at him, hoping to catch the color of his eyes again. "I, um, I have these journals..." she pulled one out from the bag hanging at her side. "They're written by this man named Celderon. It doesn't really say much more about him but, do you maybe know where I could find his, uh, children? Or grandchildren?"
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Xen





What a forthcoming young lady. Perhaps a little too forthcoming. Xen knew the content of those journals. Anyone who had read them would know that they were full of dark secrets that the residents of Wormsloe wouldn’t even be caught discussing. He took caution to conceal his identity as the author, but his red eyes still widened at the sight of a journal he hadn’t seen for over a hundred years. Regardless, he didn’t skip a beat in his stride or posture.

“Celderon? I’ve read the name before. He was a pyrat aboard the Cerberus. His name is in the list of past crew members.” They rounded a corner into a dimly lit alley. The Wormsloe docks could be seen at the end, past a few homeless and several rats. “I doubt he has any family, though. Pyrats aren’t very compatible with the family lifestyle.”
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Ivory






Xen made moderate pace while telling her what little he knew about Celderon. Based on the contents of the journal, it was no surprise that he was a pyrat. Although it never directly stated so, most of the stories were of more deviant activities. Being of a logical mind, though, Ivory was willing to look past a man's discrepancies in favor of the pursuit of science. As the pair got closer to the ship docks, they passed a few homeless people in the alley. One reached out, gripping the end of Ivory's cloak. "Excuse me miss, could you spare some change?" Ivory stopped, turned, and regarded the worn person slumped at her feet. A long, dark rash riddled his forearm where he clung to her garment. Without hesitation, Ivory took hold of his arm and ran her gloved hand along his skin, pulling from the flux to heal him. She tended to favor magic use in the form of potions or other healing instruments, but she had none on her at the time. His skin healed immediately and the relief on his face was visible. She grabbed a few coins from a purse in her bag and handed them to the man.

"May Cynthia bestow blessings upon you," she added. Then she turned away from him, directly into the stone frame of Xen.
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Healing magic. It wasn’t terribly common, and usually contained within certain families of healers. Three things popped into Xen’s head as soon as he saw Ivory’s magiwork.

One: A healer looking for a poison isn’t a killer. She had better, cleaner methods at her disposal than blood thistle.

Two: How might healing magic effect the process of thistlization?

Three: A follower of Cynthia. Those were a dying a breed ever since her tyranny came to an end. Many became followers of Elk, but for one to still publicly proclaim allegiance to Cynthia…

He stood immediately behind her. Cynthia was no generous goddess. “Did you know her?” It slipped his mind that most people wouldn't have, in this era.
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Ivory






“Did you know her?” His eyes were like wine and it took her a second to register his question. Her? Who could he possibly have been talking about? The slight movement of the homeless main sitting at her feet connected the dots for her.

"Cynthia? Are you asking if I know Cynthia?" His face was unreadable. She backed up slightly, uneasy with the lack of space between them. His predatory looming made her feel like easy prey. She lifted her chin in attempted defiance against the fear that was beginning to generate inside of her. She knew nothing of this man and it could be a fatal mistake. "How could I possibly know her?" Xen must have been insane or else he was speaking of someone else.
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Xen





"Yes, Cynthia." Xen sneered at Ivory, "She wasn't one to 'bestow blessings' upon her people. Have you never heard the title 'Cynthia The Tyrant'?" Xen let up on the intensity of his fear inducing aura and stepped passed Ivory toward the beggar.

"Cynthia has no love for you. Not before, and not now from the depths of the Ossuary." The man cowered in fear from a combination of Xen's ghastly appearance and his manipulative magic. "Enjoy the kindness and naivety of this girl, and pray your soul doesn't end up on the same level as her." Without waiting for Ivory's answer, Xen continued his walk toward the riverside docks.
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Ivory






The fear that encapsulated Ivory when Xen towered over her was suffocating; it weaved itself into every crevice of her conscious mind. It had to be influential magic. She had never met someone with the ability but it was a notorious power and she had heard how it took over every inch of a person. Most of its users were in positions of nobility or warlords. Is Xen a criminal? After he barked at the man, he abruptly turned and stalked toward the docks. Should I follow him? As soon as his presence left her, her fear waned and her determination set in. He was the key she needed to continue Celderon's work. Obviously Cynthia was a point of anger for him, so she would not bring the goddess up in conversation. Simple. She rushed down the alleyway to catch up with the brusque stranger. "Xen," she called out. She reached out and grabbed his arm. "Wait please! I'd still like to accompany you to find blood thistle, if you'll have me."
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Xen





“Ofcourse,” Xen spoke with a clear tone, as if the past minute hadn’t even happened, “At the dock ahead there’s a ship called the Cerberus. Ask the harbormaster. Wait for me on board and we’ll set off by evening. I need to see to some other matters first.” He shook Ivory off his arm and grabbed his flask. He looked slightly flushed, but it quickly subsided with a swig of blood.

With that, Xen began walking away before stopping abruptly. “Oh, and you’ll need this if you don’t want the crew to kill you... Or worse.” A medallion flicked through the air towards Ivory.
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Ivory






Once he left without another word, Ivory contemplated the instructions he had given her. Cerberus? Was Xen apart of the crew for ship named after the ship Celderon sailed? Maybe he knew more about the pyrat than he let on. He didn't strike her as a historian, which was typically a hobby reserved for bored noblemen who had excessive schooling, but had aged past the point of being useful to society. Anything was possible, however. She turned over the medallion Xen had given her while she made her way to where the harbormaster would be. The docks were busy with dock hands hustling to complete their tasks, fishmongers calling out the day's catch, and a few of Wormsloe's lawmen, pretending to keep order but no doubt searching out an opportunity to be bribed. She reached the head of the port, where the harbormaster typically stood but the area appeared to be vacant. She saw a dock hand leaned over, fiddling with something that looked like a simple wood plank. She crouched down to get his attention. "Excuse me sir, could you point me toward the ship Cerberus? I can't seem to locate the harbormaster." The man looked up. He took in her appearance and scowled, then jerked his head.

"The one on the end," he spat out. Ivory stood and peered down to the end of the row of docked ships. She held her hand up to block the sun from streaming in her eyes but the ship was still difficult to make out.

"Thank you," she said, attempting to smile despite the man's harsh demeanor. He stood in response.

"Yea, well, tell the woman who procured you that we don't need any of your kind 'round here, chasing sailors 'round. Half these men are married and the likes of you and your co-workers don't do us a damn bit of good. You can just stick to the areas in your part of town, where you belong." Ivory scoffed at the man's presumption.

"I beg your pardon, sir. Do you take me to be a whore?" The man's face flinched slightly but he held his ground.

"Of course. I know better, seein' a woman comin' here and askin' 'bout the Cerberus. No respectable woman would be seekin' that crew out. Now begone." He took the plank from the ground and walked away, giving Ivory one last scowl. She tilted her chin up in response. He could assume all he wanted, they were just words.

She finally made her way to the end of the row of ships and took in the ship's appearance. It was large but certainly not the largest one in port. The sails were dark and the wood looked worn, but still reliable and sea worthy. The most noteworthy part of the ship was the area for cannons. There were easily five along the outside. While Ivory was unfamiliar with the standard number of weapons on a ship, she knew this particular boat was quite heavily armed. The second most noteworthy part had nothing to do with the ship itself. Most of the other areas had men working tirelessly to either load or unload merchandise, or prep to set sail. The Cerberus had no one buzzing around. Where was the crew? She took a few steps toward the ladder set out for boarding. "Hello?" she called out.
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Xen





“Gods help, why’re we outa chick’n again? I keep’t tellin’ ‘em that we weren’t going to find any more in Wormsloe at this time o’ year. It’s not much in demand since new years is 20 weeks ‘way.” The ogre grabbed several pounds of some indistinguishable meat from the shelf and threw it into a large pot of soup in the middle of the room. “Vermin-meat it is. ‘Ave to add some extra garlic to make sure the taste stays olright.” He began trudging upstairs, which in comparison to him were quite small. He barely fit through the doorway to the main-deck of the Cerberus, despite what looked like several past modifications to make the doorway larger. It was darker out than he had anticipated. “Crew’ll be back soon,” he wondered out loud, “Wond’r how the plan’ll go. Maybe we’ll be able to get chick’n here year round.” As he crossed the ship, he saw Ivory looking curiously at the ship’s expert craftsmanship. “Wrong ship, miss.” His voice and tone were as slow and deliberate as his stride. He picked up a rusty trap off the ground, pried a rat from its grasps, and took a long sniff. “Ahhh, there’s no place like Wormsloe.”



Xen was known for his heists. The intricacies of entire operations resulting in the theft of priceless artifacts were known to none but him. As a firm believer of “if you want something done right,” he always played a key role in each one, ranging anywhere from wiping out an entire bunker of soldiers to gaining favor in a court of royalty only to poison their king. This one revolved around Wormsloe’s weekly meeting. Everyone in attendance knew their own role, but no one actually knew who else was involved.

Xen took a few gulps from his flask as he stepped up the stairs to the riverside boathouse. He took care to lock the large doors behind him, attaching to it a magical apparatus he procured from underneath his coat. Everyone had already arrived, and discussions were already well underway. He only needed to show up late and insert a few well placed remarks, and Wormsloe would be his for the taking.

Atleast he thought. He didn’t expect those two to be in attendance.
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Xen





Alex Stravier and Bob Drakken: leaders of the most influential trade guild in Y’vera, Veracity. Who could have known they were attending? Xen had seeded a plant in Veracity years ago who had become the Wormsloe emissary. His thoughts raced at the possible reasons for Stravier and Drakken’s attendance…

Did they find the plant? Did they just decide to visit this week? Do they know of the plan? Do they recognize me? Will they recognize me? Should I adjust the plan? How can I adjust the plan?

Xen’s eyes were aglow when he came up with the perfect solution.

“Gentlemen! Sorry I’m late!” He cut off someone speaking, but no one seemed to mind.

“It’s about time you showed up, my lord.” A man stood up from his chair, took a short bow, and presented it to Xen.

“Thankyou, squire,” Xen dismissed the man who looked nothing like a squire, took his seat and gestured wide with his arm, “Please, resume. I didn’t mean to interrupt.” He did.

A different individual from before responded, “Ay, you’re a loose cannon Baron Celderon.” No such man or, for that matter, position existed. “We were just discussing imports from the Dudleyans.” They were, in fact, not.

“Ah, my hometown!” It wasn’t. “I just expanded my brewery there. Exports are booming.” They weren't, but there was a brewery. “Anything you wanted to know about them?”

Yet another individual chimed in, a little too quickly: “Yes, my lord. We found trace amounts of blood in your product.” An audible, over the top gasp came from the large round table.

“Yore kiddin’, right mate?” A more seedy individual, probably drunk, looked very concerned. Loud whispers floated across the room, unsure of how to proceed.

“Now now! Calm down everyone. I assure you there is plenty of blood to go around.”

A pause.

“You wot?”

A cowering fear crept over the entire room. Stravier was standing, pulling a massive sword off his back and yelling to Drakken through the sudden intensity of Xen’s aura. It felt as if thousands of lost souls were yelling in the ears of those present, scratching at their skin, weighing them down with a thick, dark mist.

Then, a deafening roar.
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Ivory






It always startled Ivory to see an ogre. Delteria was as diverse a place as any, but ogres were notorious for keeping to their own kind. Seeing one saunter across the deck of the ship was a shock, to say the least. “Wrong ship, miss.” He didn’t even bother to look at her, which didn’t surprise her. He was twice as tall as her and easily weighed more than a horse. He was likely under the belief that she was a prostitute as well.

“Pardon me sir,” she shouted. The giant creature glanced down over the balcony of the ship. When he didn’t say anything, she continued. “I’d like to come aboard. I’d like to speak with your captain.” The ogre made his way to the top of the stairs and squinted his eyes.

“Grimsley!” he called out. “Grimsley, c’mere!” A man peered out from behind the ogre and looked down at Ivory. She saw the ogre mumble something to the man then disappear back into the ship. The man, Grimsley she presumed, called down to her.

“Come this way.” Ivory made her way up to the steps and on to the ship. When she reached the deck, she saw the man up close. Surely he wasn’t the captain. His clothes were typical of meager peasants. It was likely he was a galley member. She didn’t see other movement, so she addressed the man.

“I’d like to speak with your captain please.” As soon as the words were out of her mouth, Grimsley pulled a dagger from somewhere in the belt of his pants. He held it to her throat. Her heart beat rapidly as he leaned in close. His breath smelled of tobacco and rot.

“I’ll take ya to the cap’n.” He smirked and pulled her while still holding the dagger. She tried to see if the ogre was still around, but she knew he probably wouldn’t help her anyway. Then she remembered what could.

“Wait!” she held up her hands, flashing the medallion that Xen gave her. Grimsley immediately took the knife from her throat and grabbed the medal. He examined it for a second before he took hold of her arm and yanked her through a nearby door of the ship. They walked down an undetailed hallway and into what looked like a typical Captain’s office. Or what she assumed a Captain’s office would look like. There were no decorations or indications of whether she was right. There was, however, a beautifully carved, dark wood oak desk in the center of the room. Maps were rolled into a neat bundle at the end. Grimsley made his way to the desk and sat in the chair, propping his feet up on the desk. He put his hands behind his head.

“What can I do fer ya?” Ivory’s heart dropped as she analyzed the scenario in front of her.

“You’re….you’re the Captain of the Cerberus?” The idea that a man with a presence such as Xen’s would take orders from this fool in front of her was preposterous. Had he not had a knife, she would have scoffed at the idea of being afraid of him.

“Ya, ‘s right. Name’s Grimsley. Cap’n Grimsley.” She watched him reach into the desk and pull out a pipe and matches. He lit the pip and took a long drag. When he blew it out, the smoke took the shape of a herd of wild mustangs. Her intuition flickered – he could control air somehow. This frightened her slightly. If he was skilled, he could kill her from where he sat. The smoke slowly rocked over his knuckles in the same manor that one might flip a coin across them. “Where’d ya get this here medallion?” He tossed it on the desk in front of him. It took her some effort to drag her eyes from his hand toward his eyes. She hesitated a second before answering.

“Your crewmember Xen gave it to me. He thought it might…” she trailed off, unsure of the exact reason he gave it to her. Protection? It didn’t seem to be doing her much good. Whatever this man decided to do with her, a medallion wouldn’t stop. Xen’s name, however, seemed to provoke a reaction from him. He dropped his feet to the floor and sat up, clearing his throat.

“Crew? Is uh, Cap…..is Xen with ya?” He tried to glance around her; a nervous look on his face, almost as if he was guilty of a crime. Ivory turned slightly and glanced behind her, unaware of what the man was searching for. When she looked back at him, she brushed a wrinkle out of the front of her cloak, knowing she was about to reveal all her cards and likely put herself in danger. She lifted her chin and looked him in the face.

“No. He’s not.” The man’s stature relaxed a bit and he grabbed the medallion. He stood up, walked around the desk and handed the medal to her. She flinched slightly when he grabbed her arm above the elbow, but his grip wasn’t hard. He led her back down the hallway, through a set of double doors that she hadn’t noticed on the way in, and up a short flight of stairs. They ended at a corridor with a simple leather loveseat outside of a closed door. He motioned for her to sit and she obeyed.

“This here’s Xen’s quarters. Wait ‘til you’re told t’do sommin’ else. I ‘ave business to ‘tend to.” He didn’t wait for an answer before leaving. Ivory sighed and glanced at her surroundings. There was no décor and no obvious lighting. There wasn’t even carpet, yet the area seemed warm. She stood and peeked down the staircase. No one stood guard. She looked back at the closed door. She walked a few steps forward and pulled handle.
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Xen





Sometime in the past hundred years, a tale was spread across Y’vera. The tale told of a massive winged beast covered in scales, immortal to the passage of time. It soared through the skies, far above the world, and breathed fire down on its inhabitants. In combat, it was unbeatable. Its scales were harder but lighter than any known metal. If it caught you in its gaze, your death was certain. No one quite knows its origin, but its beastly nature has lead some to attribute its existence to Coyote’s curse. The draconic beast, however, has not been seen since the Cynthia Wars. Its role, if it existed at all, was chaotic. It fought for itself, rather than for Cynthia, for Coyote, or for Storxx and Rolark.

Xen was intimately familiar with this tale. He had witnessed first hand the destruction the dragon had brought on Delteria; it nearly levelled Cynthia’s Crystal Throne, as well as a large portion of Barion Square where the Veracity Guild Hall would later be located. Xen knew better than to attribute the dragon’s actions to chaos. He identified with its allegiance only to itself, knowing it wouldn’t have gotten involved without a good reason. Over time, he tracked the dragon’s actions and those surrounding Veracity. He learned a great deal of the Drakken family in the process.

Xen knew the tells of a vampire: slightly red eyes, slightly pale skin, a slight lingering of the eyes on dark red wine. What confirmed Xen’s suspicions, however, was the look in Bob Drakken’s eyes when Xen walked into the room. He had accidentally left his flask undone, and Drakken’s heightened sense of smell must have caught the distinct smell of Naga blood. His eyes darted up from his wine, flared as he sniffed silently, then all too quickly returned to his regal look of confidence the Drakken family always wore. Xen was determined to break it.

With fresh blood coursing through his system, Xen brought his aura to an intensity and range he hadn’t done in years. It felt good. To him, it was fear, adrenaline, and a toxic high. To others, a terror they had never imagined.

Bob Drakken couldn’t handle it any longer, and Stravier knew it. “Drakken, don’t!” was a meaningless warning; his wings had already broken through his garb. Drakken’s draconic form broke free and crushed the grand table in front of them as he let out a roar that paralleled the intensity of the demonic screams everyone else had heard in their heads. Not a moment later, Xen ran. He had never seen a dragon this close, but knew of the anti-magic properties its scales provided. His aura was useless against that beast, not to mention the fear he was feeling only intensified at the sight of a winged monster 30 times his size.

Most of the attendees, for some reason, were slashing at each other's throats as Xen fled to the doorway. A couple others joined Xen’s side, wearing some strange looking crystalline contraption across their chests. Xen dawned his own and continued running for the locked entrance as the dragon’s fire filled the room behind him. Drakken gave chase, ripping through walls and bodies alike to stop Xen. The contraption Xen had placed on the doorway was whirring loudly as they ran full speed into it and disappeared into thin air.

They reappeared on the other end of the doorway with their crystalline gear disintegrated. “Let’s go!” Several more of the Cerberus’s crew appeared from the rooftops and joined the group running for the pier. From the outside, the building looked completely undisturbed. The building would be unusable after the fire destroyed any integrity it had left, but at least the magical barrier would contain the destruction. It would also slow down Stravier and Drakken long enough for them to make a clean escape, not that they wouldn’t have their hands full eliminating any witnesses; the Drakken family secret could threaten Veracity’s position if it were known.

Xen’s job was done. In a few days, several of his underworld contacts would take over, most of the public none the wiser. Aboard the Cerberus, he wasted no time ordering the small crew of eight to cast off downriver: three different ashen breeds on deck tying and untying sails, two naga at the wheel working together to navigate the river, a pixie in the nest, and two humans busy below-deck (one of which Ivory had a close encounter with earlier). Meanwhile, the crew’s ogre chef had come across Ivory while making his rounds with the evening’s dinner...
Hidden 9 mos ago 9 mos ago Post by BreakingMe
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BreakingMe My whole existence is flawed.

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Ivory






The door didn't budge. It was clearly locked and Ivory didn't have the skills to pick it. She turned back and slumped down into the chair. Maybe this was a mistake. She didn't really know this Xen guy and, despite his confidence in the idea that she would get the bloodthistle she was after, there was nothing to guarantee her safety. But at this point, did it matter? She had sold most of her belongings and moved into the tiny apartment above her apothecary. Her business was dying. When she went into alchemy training, her goal was to help people. Everyone in her family was a natural healer so she had no reason to think she wasn't the same. She did ok, but there were far better options for Delteria. When she came upon the journals, she discovered the power of bloodthistle. This would be her ticket to success. She wouldn't give up until she knew there was no other option. She would stick with Xen until he got her what she wanted.

Just then the massive ogre crossed at the bottom of the stairs from the sitting area. He was carrying a pouch that smelled of sweet rolls. Her stomach growled. "Um, pardon me." she spoke up. He stopped and turned to look at her wordlessly. "Are you carrying rolls?" The ogre looked down into his pouch and back up at Ivory. He grunted a response. "May I.....may I have one?" The ogre stared for what seemed like forever. Her stomach growled again, audibly. He finally reached his hand into the bag and pulled out two. He walked over to her and placed them into her lap. She trembled slightly at his size but otherwise didn't move. She could feel the warmth coming off of the bread. "Thank you," she whispered in a meek voice so as not to startle him. He didn't respond and turned to move. "Wait." She called out. He stopped but didn't look back. She knew that she would be walking out on a ledge with her next request but she was pretty convinced he didn't intend to hurt her in any way. "Would you be willing to let me into Xen's room? I'd like to take a nap soon."

The ogre grunted again and simply replied, "no," then he walked out of sight. In truth, Ivory was somewhat surprised. Xen must be pretty well respected to have his own sleeping place instead of one of the many bunks that were traditional on a ship. She peeled a bit of the bread and ate. It was the most extraordinary roll she had ever tasted. She would have to compliment the chef once she saw him again. After she finished the last roll, she decided to rest her head against the wall and wait for Xen's return. She was soon asleep.
Hidden 9 mos ago 11 days ago Post by NefariusDestiny
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NefariusDestiny Two people separated by an ocean of time

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Xen





Xen was returning to his quarters when he spotted Ivory fast asleep next to his door. Crumbs of Loro’s biscuits were scattered about the floor, and another could be seen peeking out of her bag. Xen reached in and grabbed it. Vampires got hungry for more than just blood, after all. He sunk his teeth into the familiar taste of rat blood. Delicious, he thought to himself as he opened the door.

His room was full of artifacts from times past, decorated as regal as one would expect from a Captain’s Quarters. He put hung up his weapons and coat and pulled one of Celderon’s journals out of its pocket. He sat at his desk and ran his hands over the aged leather volume, bound pages sticking out at unequal lengths. It had been a long time since he left them in a shop, hoping to leave his old identity behind. He opened it up and slowly turned its pages, periodically pausing to channel flux through its pages and reveal glowing characters on an otherwise blank page. Ivory had just woken up and was peering inside the room...
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