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Zeroth


Content Warning: This RP may contain uncomfortable or violent themes. While this won't make up the entirety of the RP it will be featured. Quests will feature a summary (and content warning) as well as links to the starting point. If a quest features a topic you are uncomfortable with feel free to skip over it.

Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Famotill
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Famotill

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Oft was it did the sea carry in travelers and adventurers seeking riches buried deep in the wood of The Dales. The mists hung over undulating waves, like a curtain, in the morning air. The dalic sheerwater birds chirping from above were enough to wake most passengers from their slumber. In the distance loomed the grand city of Caracas. Most of it was built at the edge of the Veiled Sea on a string of islands. Looking further though, one could see the jutting towers of the Palace District built back onto the mainland. Dark black smoke billowed from the district out into the sky.

Even stranger were the sheer number of ships docked haphazardly in the port. Most of the ships seemed to be quickly navigated out of the way of the central docking area. Even still the port itself was crowded by natives and foreigners alike.











The sounds of blacksmiths, laborers, and merchants at work were ever-present on the path towards the tavern. To the perceptive it seemed that many of the locals were on-edge likely by the number of guards throughout the area. There were whispers of men being killed on the streets. There was the occasional shouting, and more broadly a cacophony of conversations in foreign languages spilling out about the port. Occasional too were the sounds of dogs barking, but it was difficult to see any in the massive throngs of weary passengers, guards, and citizens. Certain shops seemed to be closed with armed patrols preventing entry. In the distance was a scene of one dock-worker forced to the ground with a guard threatening the nape of the man's neck with his shortsword. Such horrid displays did little to assuage the occasional drunkards and panhandlers.

As the travelers finally managed to squeeze their way through the crowds and inside the tavern, alongside fellow passengers, they were greeted by the sight of a rather full tavern. From the door each could see a table of workers playing a card game, a barkeep, a minstrel, and a tiefling. The workers were huddled around a table complaining loudly while the barkeep and minstrel seemed to be discussing something passionately. The tiefling sat alone studying a letter that bore a symbol not unlike the letters each of the travelers carried on their person.

Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Lauder
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Lauder The drunk kind of hero

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Her eyes looked about the port, seeing the massive crowd of people milling about, some in their normal business and others in confusion. Kjellfrid had never been to Caracas, the Harolds had merely not had the chance to take her here before they were slain by the Wolves in Redcliffe. She could remember their blood flying into the air before losing her own consciousness. How she wished that they would have just killed her as well.

Kjellfrid shook the memories from her head and wrapped her scarlet cloak around her, stepping through the thick crowd and being sure to avoid bumping into anyone. The Brith’s eyes scanned the building as she looked for the tavern mentioned within the letter, though she almost jumped when someone next to her called out to whom she would presume to be a friend. Her hand, almost had almost wrapped around the hilt of her dagger before her claws had caught the inside of her hand. She shook her hand and attempted to calm herself so her claws would retract, though her mind seemed to be ever on edge.

Though with claws being out, she found them being chewed upon, her teeth clipping against the sharp edges and dulling them ever slightly. Kjellfrid soon found herself back towards the docks, almost confused as to how she had gone in a complete circle, she was content to be facing the bay and port. Soon though, she would be whistling a somber tune.

”I'll swim and sail on savage seas
With ne'er a fear of drowning..”
she began singing with a voice slightly cracking. She looked around to make sure no one watched her.

”And gladly ride the waves of life,
If they would have me...”
Kjellfrid continued.

”No scorching sun
Nor freezing cold…”


The Brith took a deep breath as her eyes settled on the busy port, watching the ships and boats move about before a small smile came across her face. The start of the song was ever present in her mind, remembering the song that she would sing with the Harolds when she doubted that she would properly be one of them. Even remembering the rest that they had ad libbed when she had grown too timid to continue.

”And we’d have you for eternity
Our dearest one, our darling dear…”
her voice growing more confident and enough to match her compatriots. Her feet ponding against the dock below her to provide the beat she remembered had been played.

”Your mighty words astound us
But we've no need of mighty deeds
When we feel your arms around us!”

“But I wo-”


Though, as she went to continue with a song so merry, Kjellfrid could not help but flashback to the swords that had cut down the very ones who had sung with her. It almost brought back the same feelings that ran through her mind after she had awoken to the company of the damned nobles that had ordered the attack, the fear and grief that followed her had infected one of the best songs that no other ears had ever heard.

She let out a saddened sigh as she could already imagine Lady Lucilia or Lord Lion chastising her for not finding the location she had to go to yet. With that fear firmly wrapped in her mind, she turned back to the crowd, now with her head down. She stepped to it once more as she made her way back to the buildings she had originally sought to do.

Her eyes scanned the buildings as she squeezed her way through the stagnant crowd, trying her best to remain away from the gathering to little avail. Kjellfrid, stopped for a moment and eventually sighted a building with vines flowing and what she would assume to be barrels of some drink outside. She made her way to that with a hope that it was the proper location, though, low and behold it did seem to be the correct place. Though, once more did she turn to view the surrounding area, seeing a guard threatening a man with a sword, to which she nearly backed into one of the barrels clutching at her cloak and tugging it downwards. Her breathing grew heavier and heavier as her nerves began to get the better of her.

Was this city too under the influence of a family like the Wolframs? She forced herself to look away and ducked into the tavern as quickly as she could, forcing her way between people at that point into an almost equally dense interior.

Kjellfrid nervously looked around, her nerves still tormenting her mind with the breathing of someone with anxiety. Her form shifted between people before she sat herself at a table she had thought was empty, only to look up to see the form of a tiefling. He looked fierce, intimidating, enough for her to keep her eyes to the ground, her claws digging into the table, though she refused to move for her newfound seat as it seemed to be the only one available.
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Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Kassarock
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Kassarock I had a fancy colour one of these, then RPG died

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Karlus The Half-Mage - Caracas




Karlus breathed a sigh of relief as he slipped from the gangway and into the blessed anonymity of the crowded docks of Caracas. It had been too long trapped aboard that wallowing wooden tub. Aside from the privacy of his own cramped cabin, there had been precious few places to escape the gazes and whispers of the crew. They had recognised him from what he was soon after he had boarded, and they had made their displeasure at his company more than clear. Every time he had forayed up and out onto the deck he had been met with strained silence from the crew, hands fluttering behind their backs to make the sign of averting evil. Mages were feared more than they were respected amongst the kingdoms of men, and seldom were they ever loved.

Other than himself, his only fellow passenger had been a Queen-Brith who seemingly preferred silence even more so than himself. They had exchanged maybe a handful of words over the course of the voyage. But in the night he had heard her, those strange and sad songs that had come drifting through the planked and caulked walls. It had been strangely comforting to know that even so far away, in the middle of black and empty ocean, his nocturnal misery still had company.

It did not matter now, it was behind him. Like the rest. And it would stay there if he got on with the job at hand.

"... And redeem yourself in the process." He quoted the letter in his pocket from memory. "How ridiculous."

He was not the one in need of redemption.

Karlus placed his pack on his right shoulder and began to make his way down the dockside. The morning mist that rolled in from the Veiled Sea brought with it the fresh clean smell of salt, so the inevitable stink of the city did not yet bother him. Amongst the lilting foreign languages and the cawing of the gulls he caught snatches of songs, dogs barking, the clash of the hammer and anvil, men calling out their wares. Ordinary sounds made extraordinary by their absence upon the sea. The novelty of it all distracted him from his habitual brooding, while the sword at his side kept all but the most determined of panhandlers away, so few brushed up against him as he walked. It was almost pleasant.

But the longer Karlus looked and listened, the more something seemed amiss in the city. Many of the dockside warehouses of plastered stone and terracotta were barred shut, guards and militias posted beneath their brightly coloured awnings. Groups of men gathered on the corners of the canals and eyed strangers with hostile suspicion as they whispered and gossiped amongst themselves. And then there was that pulling sensation he felt that in the back of his mind. The hairs that stood up upon his neck. The burning in his arm and face. The erasure ward. To place such a thing over an entire dockside was no small feat of magic. It was most unusual.

The people of the city were afraid of something.

He ducked out of the throng of people into a narrow alley that led back to a canal deeper in the city. His dwelling on the ward was making him nervous and paranoid. The alleyway was near empty apart from a group of young children playing with dice and knuckle bones where it opened onto the docks. Beside a stack of empty and broken crates set his pack down and faced into the corner. From within his long grey cloak he drew compact mirror from a hidden pocket sewn into its lining. He flicked it open and studied his reflection, careful not to spill any of the precious powder within.

All looked as it should. His fine pale features, his luminous green eyes, the ruinous seamed scar on his left cheek. Karlus sighed and put away the mirror. There had been no need for concern after all. He lifted his pack and turned to exit onto the dockside once more.

A child had looked up from their was staring at him.

Panic flooded into Karlus's mind.

What had he seen? Had he recognised the mirror? Had he recognised Karlus? A cascade of questions, accusations and conspiracy poured into his mind. All the darkest and worst possibilities imaginable. This child knew something and if he walked away from here he would tell someone and they would find Karlus and kill Karlus... or worse.

Kill him first. Unbidden the voice in his head spoke with perfect clarity. Bind him now before he can make a sound. Pull him towards us, slit his throat, and then disappear. It would be so simple, so easy. After that we just run away again. Forget the Trading Company, they can't help us. It's probably a trap anyway. Just run like before. If they follow us... leave them in flames.

The voice spoke true. It would be easy. The Company couldn't help them. It probably was a trap. But he wasn't running away anymore.

He stilled his trembling hand and reached down to his sword belt. The boy's eyes grew wide as Karlus's hand drifted over the hilt of his blade. But his fingers did not stop there, they reached around to delve into his coin purse instead. He drew out a single brass penny and flicked it onto the ground in front of the startled child.

"Which way to the La Resplenda?"



With directions in hand it didn't take Karlus long to find his way to the tavern. A crowd was dispersing in front of it, some kind of dispute between a dockworker and a city guard. The tavern itself was a handsome building stone built with an attractive spread of foliage growing up its frontage. Much preferable to the wattle and mud thatched hovels Karlus so often stomached in Astoria.

Inside it was busy. A group of dockworkers gamed at one table, at another was the imposing figure of a huge, dark, horned Tiefling. Sat next to him was... the Brith girl from the ship? What was she doing here? He eyed them with suspicion as he crossed to the bar. Was she following him? The barkeep was arguing with a minstrel, something about a song. He stood expectantly at the bar for a moment, waiting for one or the other to notice his presence and curtail their discussion. They did not. He coughed apologetically and smiled in a slightly pained and uncomfortable way.

"Excuse me, sirs. I am looking for Tali Riverend."
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Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Parzivol
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Parzivol Bad At Sarcasm

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Sigemund, "Brith-Eater"





Sigemund stood at the end of the dock, watching the guardsmen enter the Dreamer’s Draugr. They had dumped any illicit materials and matched their manifest properly to maintain the illusory identity. There was a general acknowledgement that they were not criminals in this territory, but the control of this Company that they had chosen to pursue hope with needed to be acknowledged. By all means when he had ransacked the now skinless Cleric, that had served well enough as a meal for Sigemund’s sons and daughters, he had taken on the debt. The deception was only partial.

“Farmoon,” Sigemund’s scribe and skald, Kanaaq, spoke up, “Do you need me to read the letter to you again?” Silence hung in the air. Should he pretend to be literate in these parts? He had all but memorized the letter. He did want it read to him again, for clarity, but he could go without it.

“Tootega, thoughts? I need my daughter’s advice on the matter. Literate or nay?” The brown haired woman, perhaps seventeen? Certainly the youngest of the six travelers. She looked like her father, though with fewer battle scars. She was wearing a wolf pelt, rather than the conspicuous brith pelt that her father preferred. “Worst I figure is I ask a stranger to read a document to me. I’ve never been quick to be embarrassed.”

“We’re dealing something of a scale that will demand reading, Father. We can’t have you taking Kanaaq from us and all across the countryside at the moment. Especially when we may still have guardsmen to tend to while you are making business. Be illiterate as you are today.” She was watching the crowd while she spoke. The only individual to catch her eye in any particular manner was a snow-white Brith woman moving at first aimlessly then with purpose along the docks. She nudged her father, nodding in that direction. Kanaaq followed their glances and chuckled amiably.

“Looks as though we cannot avoid them even here, Tekkeson. What do you figure our approach is? I can send Yutu and Amaruq after her if you want her furs. Or Anne. She hasn’t had practice shooting since before we changed sails.” Kanaaq was already writing poetry in the back of his head. Something simple and catchy perhaps? Dedicate the first four half-lines to describing the prey, the third line to the city itself, and the fourth line to the warrior. The fifth line would describe the kill, with the sixth and seventh being dedicated to the Hamasfolks’ new glory from the kill on foreign territory.

“No. We need to keep our heads about. No killing brithfolk unless we need to here. Not like old-home. Not like nights deep in Skokie’s alleys. Keep Anne stationed here, with Yutu and Amaruq scouting deeper into the city. Have them check the markets and ensure that we have enough supply to return home within the month if we need to. Or if we need to sail the length of the coast. Have them keep busy. Tootega, you take Kanaaq and make sure we haven’t forgotten any writwork. Be hermits. I’ll be back shortly, I’m sure. I can’t imagine this meeting will go poorly.”

Kanaaq was disappointed. Tootega looked forward to the management time. Watching the Dreamer’s Draugr would be a simple enough task.

“Hail, father.” She nodded her head. She beckoned for Kanaaq to follow, and called out to Anne and Yutu and Amaruq who were standing several feet away telling war stories that they had all heard a dozen times, with new embellishments this time to add spice to it all.

“Kanaaq, wait a moment.” The skald waited, walking close. Sigemund leaned in, producing the letter that he had mostly memorized by recitation. “You’re certain I am Elric Farmoon? Not Elric Frostspoon or some other similar piece? The characters shift and linger. I know not how you can read it so well.”

“Yes. Elric Frostmoon.” Kanaaq clapped Sigemund on the shoulder. “Blessings of the Wyrkin on you, Hama. I fear you actually are cursed some days. I promise to get you reading before I turn white in the hair. Go for glory.”

Sigemund nodded. His confidence had gone unsteady for a moment at the mention of a potential curse, before he shook it off and began at a brisk walk.

He watched for drunkards and loud-folk, or alcohol of some kind. The indicators of a drink house were simple enough and he knew them easily. Several old meadhalls had burnt at his hand. One particularly rage-filled night had given him the thought to tie the local brith together in the center of one such meadhall, and to light it as he left. The fire and smoke were visible from quite some distance. He was still satisfied looking back at the memory.

What did catch his attention was the scuffle between the sword-wielding man and some other unarmed fool. Perhaps it was a member of the authorities? Perhaps it was a ruffian? He knew not. He watched a moment, as the situation developed, before shrugging it away. He fingered the egu feathers in his hair while he pushed open the door with a sizable... KA—FRUMPH... The wind that followed him in kicked dust, and gently disrupted an array of cards that had been neatly arrayed by one of the gamblers. He had made a point of leaving his left hand on Hrunting’s pommel, as a warning to the eyes that he drew.

In two steps he had put himself roughly central to the lower floor. He assessed his surroundings, before recognizing a brith. The white one from earlier, perhaps? With a tiefling? Two dreadful specimens. They were the only a handful in the room that looked interesting, however. They were isolated. The table was empty otherwise. No one else was associating with them. He took a moment to consider the fact that he was supposed to be a Brith, before groaning and stomping towards the table. He grabbed one of the chairs at the table, and slammed it back several inches. He said nothing for a half second as he sat. When he settled his appearance became gravely apparent.

His shoulders were draped primarily in a pelt of some kind. It was unclear at first what it was. A moment would find the face of a brith on the rightmost shoulder of the cloak. It had been stuffed, creating a cruel mockery of one of the cat-folks in a fit of rage. The fur itself looked supple, clean, and treated.

Brithbitch, Liege Tiefling. Are we all in waiting for a Tali Riverend?

The man’s lips curled back like a snarling dog’s. Was it a smile? A grimace? Something between? Most of his head was shaved close. The bangs, sides of his head, and back were left long. The sides and back were braided. He had feathers in his braids. His beard looked unkempt and oily.

I am Elric Farmoon. I appreciate this opportunity for us to all know each other.





Directly Involved: Sigemund, Dreamer's Draugr Crew, Vekyzz, Kjellfrid
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Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Fetzen
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Vekyzz


Vekyzz had made his way into the main hall of La Resplenda a bit earlier than would have been necessary in order to meet Riverend's requirements, but, truth be told, the tiefling had hardly enjoyed any sleep this night at all. He had arrived in the middle of the night: battered, scarred and with various points of his body aching he had been happy not having to see that horse again for a while. How many unpleasant encounters with the ground had there been over the past few days of travel ? Vekyzz had lost count at some point. He had passed the guards and not paid much attention to his surroundings, knowing that so far he had always been able to rely on his employer to do his part of the job and protect him from foreign influences. Still even in this state it had not slipped past the tiefling's attention that the overall security precautions were very high in the city. But why ? Maybe he'd try to find out, but not today. He had rented the very next room available for not too many coins and tried to organize himself in a creaking misery of a bed not truly fitting him, waiting for the next sunrise to release him from this state.

The only good thing said next morning so far was the certainty that his grey-reddish complexion would do a good job at hiding the various bruises and the rings around his eyes. The assassin had no interest in anyone of his future companions seeing just how tired he was right now. Speaking of which... where were they ? And where was Riverend ? He had been battling the boringness of that piece of parchment already read over and over again for at least an hour by now! It would have been easier if there had been anything left for him to think about given the rather sparse and vague information he had available, but his mind was forced to idle. At least his stomach was busy since he had already eaten some bread and raw ham.

Then, finally, something more interesting happened. Vekyzz' profession had infested him with a slight habit of inspecting people once he felt that they might bear even the slightest relevance for him. A pair of greedy tiefling eyeballs focused in on the Brith and her clothes, what might be hidden below them... and her curves. Ultimately though he got stuck at the crown and branches and what had been added to them. He hardly knew anything about the Wolframs, but having read about them in Riverend's message he had investigated enough to recognize their symbol. So she had to be one of the individuals he had been tasked to guard -- and she looked rather helpless. Seeing just how Kjellfrid did not even dare to look at him it dawned upon Vekyzz that she might prove to be a quite fragile member of the party. Preferrably the only one... Being unsure about how to pick up a conversation in the most elegant way, Vekyzz purposefully dropped Riverend's piece of parchment onto the table in front of him, thereby blatantly exposing the company's sigil to her sight if she'd dare looking. He wanted her to recognize that he was the one she might be looking for, hoping that she'd go for the first word and relieve him of that burden.

Next came a man that probably looked as physically incompetent as the wicked bastard that might once have tried to split the poor fellow's head, but had only managed to rip apart his scalp in a tedious process. Asking about that nasty scar right across his face might prove to be quite interesting, but was he even one of the persons he was looking for ? Karlus and Vekyzz briefly met eyes as the former eyed the latter and the latter had not yet finished scrutinizing the former. Then came the kind of conformation Vekyzz had not been looking forward to: Somebody asking around for Tali Riverend could only mean that he'd be part of the party.

That lad hardly is the equivalent of one of my legs! How is he supposed to defend himself ? part of the tiefling's mind cried out. Another part reminded him that there were other possibilities. Hadn't the message mentioned a meek mage ? A question to be put high up on his priority list...

"Ahem.... here, please!" Vekyzz directed his words towards Karlus, trying to get his attention not only with his chesty voice, but also with one of his index fingers first pointing at the mage, then at the table. It felt odd not to whisper, but to fight against the noisy environment of a tavern... Why did humans have to be loud so often ?

Then came the third, virtually announcing himself with a loud and no less unnecessary bang. And unlike the other two this guy's approach was as straightforward as possible. He was big and heavily armored, cheering up Vekyzz's mood and outlook right until three words spoiled everything again: Brithbitch, liege and tiefling. They made Vekyzz briefly forget about Kjellfrid sitting in front of him and Karlus probably approaching -- he just wanted to snap back.

"Does this Elric Farmoon grant the same kind of pleasure to every Brith or Tiefling customer of the North Astorian Trading Company ? Maybe somebody should report that... Can't be good for business." Vekyzz, having been to busy compiling his words to pay attention to much else, had fallen back into a tiefling's more usual whisper. However now it was heavily contaminated with disapproval, almost giving it a threatening touch.

"Nice to meet you. I'm Vekyzz and I guess the Brith right next to you as well as a mage are going to join us as well. So I'd greatly appreciate if there'd be no insults of any kind." Vekyzz had to stop himself from adding more to his words. He didn't want things to escalate, but if anyone it seemed as if Elric was the one in need to be... contained ? Vekyzz tried not to react upon the man's grimace, but couldn't prevent some of his smaller facial muscles from twitching. Hopefully the Brith wouldn't be too disturbed when seeing that mockery of her own kind on his cloak. Personally he certainly would have liked for it to just disappear for that very possibility.

And where was Reverend ? Remembering his friend's stance towards punctuality it was easy to see that something had to be off. Hell Reverend had even provided a warning about something happening to him! Vekyzz stomach cramped up a little at that thought... Leading this party of apparently vastly different individuals into something he himself did not know about was not a prospect the rogue was looking forward to. Even that was assuming that everyone would accept his authority in the first place.
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Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Famotill
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Despite the Astorian mage’s inquiries the barkeep seemed determined to argue with the minstrel seated in front of him at the bar. The barkeep was a stout man, no younger than forty years. His eyes were tired, and the wrinkles that lined his features were growing deeper with age. In another life, he'd likely been decently handsome, but the years seemed unkind. His goatee was a mess of black and gray. His mustache was fanciful, and spread outward like troll horns. His hair was thinning, but he'd enough of it to avoid stares.

The minstrel was a younger, and more beautiful, man. He had no facial hair save for small amounts of stubble. He was fair-of-skin compared to the typical Caracan native. His hair, falling just above the shoulder, was partly tied back in a mess of dreaded locks with small golden adornments scattered precariously throughout.

The pair continued bickering among themselves for another twenty seconds before finally noticing Karlus’ presence. The barkeep glanced over in his direction. “Ah, a man of sense!” As he spoke he filled a glass with a fine golden ail before sliding it along the surface of the bar towards some eager patron. His attention only briefly left Karlus’ before returning his gaze. “This idiota is trying to get us all killed,” he said as he gestured towards the minstrel. The barkeep’s accent was as thick a Caracan one as the guard’s from the docks.

The minstrel nearly rose from his chair to challenge the barkeep. “Idiot,” he questioned as his palms buckled into the edge of the bar. “You’d sooner lick shit off the boots of the mad princes than inform the poor fools who whittle away drunk on your stag piss that their city is burning.” The minstrel turned his torso towards Karlus. “I mean only to entertain and educate through my art, sir. This philistine would see my work silenced.” It was difficult for the mage to place the man’s accent. It wasn’t so foreign as to mark him as an outsider of the Union, but it was distinct and clearly not Caracan.

You got drunk, off my stag piss mind you,” the barkeep’s eyes trailed to yours for a moment before continuing. “And in your stupor you wrote your foolish little song. A song that will have us thrown in the Pits, if not to Veruun himself!” The barkeep turned again to Karlus. “If you can get this man out of my establishment, I will be happy to assist you in information and in quantma. Let him sing his damned songs out there; away from my caupona!

Before Karlus could offer an answer the minstrel spoke up. “I’ll double that pay if you keep him from interrupting my performance,” he said as he threw a small pouch of coins on the table. “And I can promise that my quantma are much heavier than this malaka’s.

You mistake me, sirs.” Karlus' eyes darted back and forth behind the pair. “I have no want of your gold. I am looking for Tali Riverend, nothing more. Your dispute is none of my concern.

I must disagree, my friend, what I have to say concerns us all. This city is at war, and only in the arts may the lost citizens of Caracas find refuge.” At this point it seemed clear that the minstrel had begun to succumb to the drink.

The barkeep rolled his eyes at the patron’s rambling, but largely ignored his philosophies. “The name sounds familiar,” he remarked coyly to Karlus. “Though, with this madman in my ear I find it difficult to recall.

Karlus raised one hand towards his face and turned his gaze away from them, almost as if to study his fingernails.

Please. I do not suffer foolishness.” He raised the hand to his mouth, whispered something into the closed space between his fingers, and opened it. A swirl of green flame was suspended there, twisting and dancing in the air above his upturned palm.

Skata," the minstrel's glassy eyes widened as green embers danced before them. "You’re with the League!” As he recoiled his stool followed suit and tipped backwards knocking him, and the contents in his satchel, to the floor. “I..I..meant no offense,” he said in a worried frenzy as he tried desperately to carry what had fallen in his arms. Despite his hurried rush for the door, and Karlus’ display the tavern seemed relatively unaware as banter and drinking continued throughout the ordeal.

Before the barkeep could reward the mage for his help Karlus turned away. There was a sound of someone calling to him from behind. The source of said voice was a large tiefling sitting with another human, and the brith he’d noticed earlier. "Ahem.... here, please!"

Karlus looked at the bartender, closed his hand, and walked towards the table.




By this point, the tavern had become quite rowdy. It seemed that the ale and wine had worked its own magic on the throngs of patrons. The swelling of multilingual chatter was finally cut through by the sound of one of the dock workers.

Knife-eared fuck! I’ll gut you for that,


The worker rose from his chair as playing cards sputtered to the ground from the table. The outburst was enough to silence nearly the entire tavern. He clumsily pulled out a small curved dagger and pointed it accusingly at a middle-aged elven man. The elf nearly fell out of his chair as he scrambled to make distance from his accuser with arms raised in surrender. It took a few moments, but before long most of the tavern positioned themselves to inspect the commotion.

Before anyone could continue the barkeep yelled out from his post, “Outside, now or it'll be the Pits for you,

The dock worker looked towards the direction of the barkeep before dropping his shoulders and foregoing his hostile stance. He snatched a satchel from the table before making his way towards the door in compliance with the barkeep’s command. “Che culo, elf. Dangerous times afoot, and your kin are dying like flies,” warned the dock worker before exiting the tavern slamming the door shut behind him. The bar remained quiet for what felt like minutes before chatter began to pick up again. Some of the other workers situated at the same table as the elf either dispersed or quietly made their exit. Others still comforted the older elf, who seemed visibly shaken as he tried to comb the cards up from off of the tavern floor.





Collab between @Famotill and @Kassarock
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Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Jarl Coolgruuf
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Jarl Coolgruuf The Mellower

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Annabella


No use letting her thoughts fester when there was conversation to be had. Despite being considered a runt in her homeland, Annabella towered over everyone in the bar save the colossal tiefling, the moment she stood and made her way toward the gathered warriors. She was seemingly unconcerned that her attire would not be out of place in a brith slave camp, nor that she lacked shoes. What she did have, was a warm smile and a positive attitude. Both together are often worth more than the sum of their parts.

As she approached, she took a moment to observe the party.

A human wearing what she could only assume was a brith pelt. She knew many of her fellow orcs who would do a frightening array of things to get their hands on a pelt of such quality. Her yellow eyes passed over his scars and instantly recognized him as a fierce warrior. She saw his clothing and recognized him as a warrior of the frozen north. No doubt a powerful ally to whatever group they had assembled. What were they doing anyway? Hopefully she was about to find out in just a moment.

A rather frail looking brith. Annabella learned to walk before the orc tribes were free of her people’s empire. That being said, she harbored no personal hostility toward her ancestral enemy. How hypocritical would it be to judge another before their first words to her while she herself strived to change who she was every day? Everyone can change, they just have to commit to it. In fact, she was immediately concerned for the poor woman. A breeze of even moderate strength might see her dead from pneumonia or snapped clean in half as though by an ogre's fist. What business the brith had carrying a sword was none of her's, but she worried nonetheless.

A tiefling of immense stature. It was not often that Annabella was made to feel small outside the jungles of High Mist. Not to say the feeling was unwelcome, quite the opposite in fact, especially when the cause was one as strikingly handsome as he. A number of thoughts crossed her mind, but she thought it best they be kept to herself... for now anyway. Instead, she took note of his rifle and two missing fingers and wondered if the firearm he currently owned was perhaps not the first.

Lastly, a scarred mage. She assumed him to be the diplomatic type, what with him appearing to have constitution only marginally above the brith, but soon changed her mind at the sight of his magic. He had a simmering madness about him that put the monk on edge by instinct. She forced her mind to still as she reminded herself that an orc might cause the same reaction from others and not to judge others by their appearance.

Satisfied with her observations, she cleared her throat loudly from behind the bearded human.
“Doravok agh healvo, friends!” she greeted, wishing them all health and fortune in her native tongue, “I am called Annabella. Is there room for one more at your table?”
Her voice rang clear and true but carried harsh, accented consonants that knocked against her tusks as they passed her lips.
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The brith had attempted to to keep her eyes down, wanting nothing more to not draw attention to herself just as the Wolframs would have desired. However, when another imposing man had seated himself at the table, Kjellfrid could not help but look up to inspect the stranger. It was a grave mistake as she had immediately seen the head of one of her kind draped on his shoulder, terror had immediately consumed her mind. Her claws felt glued to the table, the lines of her previous digging into the wood being visible as she just stared at the man with large and terrified eyes.

She hardly understood him, not because of any language barrier, but due to her ears being unable to hear anything other than the pounding of her heart and the worry of her mind. Kjellfrid’s head snapped to the side when the tiefling spoke, again almost unable to understand him because of her unableness to focus on anything other than her terror. However, a flash of slow green movement caught her attention her eyes once more shifting to see a female orc moving behind the brith-pelted one. While there was no outward hostilities being displayed, the orcish tongue was enough to make the brith trip over herself and fall out of her seat, the chair coming down with her as she scrambled along her back.

It took a moment, but eventually she made her way to her feet and pushed through the crowded tavern to try and escape her fears. Her form bumping into people as she eventually made her way to a quieter area, not fully secluded due to the business of both port and tavern, but enough to allow her curl up against a wall without too many eyes.

Annabella watched as the brith made her hasty and rather ungraceful escape with concern. She was prepared for scorn and vitriol from one of her kind, but not fear. The idea that seeing a brith skull adorning a man’s shoulder causing distress never even entered her mind. In any case, there was no question about what to do next. The orc bowed slightly at the remaining party members. Hopefully they wouldn’t be too terribly offended by her leaving suddenly after just having introduced herself.

“Excuse me for a moment.”

While Kjellfrid had needed to push and shove through the crowd, the other patrons more or less parted around Annabella’s broad frame as she made her way toward the frightened woman. A hand that might’ve lost a fight with a bramble bush a long time ago settled on her shoulder with surprising tenderness. Though, the brith seemed to still tense up at the gesture.

“What troubles you?”

Kjellfrid looked upon Annabella with still terrified eyes, her form attempting to back away into a wall that remained unmoving despite the brith’s terror. In a hurried breath, she responded.

”I do not want t-trouble, orc.”

Her eyes went away from the Annabella, no longer wishing to gaze upon a source of her current terror as she felt her heart wanting to escape her chest as her breathing maintained it’s quickened pace.

The orc gave a welcoming and hopefully reassuring smile. This one was frail both inside and out. Perhaps she was a magic user like the scarred human? Annabella could only hope for her sake. The weak rarely have a joyous life, much less a long one.

”And yet you already have it here.” She tapped the brith’s temple with her finger. ”Come, grasha and sit at the table. One branch snaps easily, but many together are like steel. Drink, eat, and be merry.”

She gestured at the gathered party of who she assumed to be the brith’s friends. Perhaps allies. She would take acquaintances at the very least. Kjellfrid’s eyes remained fixated on the floor as she curled herself further into a ball, the words of the orc not finding ground within her mind. The brith could not afford a glance to the table, especially with the one wearing one of her kind.

”N-no. I c-can’t,” she spoke, shifting her form along the wall and away from the persistent orc.

She made no move to restrain Kjellfrid and took a step back. No use in pushing the issue further A horse cannot be made to drink after all. Still, Annabella felt a twinge of pity for her.

”Then don’t. If you change your mind, I’ll be with your compatriots.”

With that she waded back through the crowd toward the gathered party and put on her best smile. She could only hope the rest would not flee in terror from the very sight of her. Though she doubted that would be the case. The rest appeared to be made of sterner stuff.

”I apologize for leaving so suddenly, but your friend seemed, as you say, distressed. Is there still room at your table for one more?”

Sigemund had let the orc’s question hang in the air a moment. Long enough for her to leave and return. While the brith was panicking, a healthy reaction to his favorite cloak, and this Annabella creature was tending to it, he took stock of the tiefling. It was intimidating. Perhaps smaller than the one that had wounded his father, but not necessarily weaker. He had strangled several brith larger than him. Do those horns break with steel or bind with it? He could not recall. He’d have to take the skull down from above his bed in Dreamer’s Draugr and test it with Hrunting later. For now there was a pressing matter in this very alive tiefling being here, among these folk. Can they truly see through illusions? Again he could not recall. Every piece of folklore and old wive’s tale and fact and fiction was blurring together in his mind as he considered this threat. He chose to distract himself for a moment, watching the elf across the way receive comfort.

An orc is a good warrior, is it not? That is what you greenfolks are yes? Warriors are surely welcome given our little collection of imps. The brith seems perhaps unsettled and the goat seems to have taken offense to my taking offense at her presence. So join us, Annabella.

Then he looked at the brith against the wall. What a strange mutation of their folk. He considered for the first time how he might react were he to see a man cloaked around an enemy’s frame. He decided eventually that he wouldn’t react. Still, he set his right hand on his pommel and his left flat on the table.

My name is Elric Farmoon. My ears are clipped short, can you not see? I am an elf. As an elf I do as I ought, and as I ought is to insult a brith and call on your physiognomy with lordship. The latter is a kindness.

Annabella was visibly puzzled by his declaration but sat down in Kjellfrid’s now empty seat anyway. What a strange man. Then again, most men of the frost lands were strange from what she knew. It dawned on her that he was likely making a joke and she laughed a deep resonating laugh. She slapped the table once with a powerful arm, making it shudder just slightly.

”And I am a very tall dwarf! Your jokes are appreciated. Many of the sort you and I belong to avoid humor as though it burns them.”

Her smile softened toward genuine gratitude as she repositioned herself in her chair to get more comfortable.

”Regardless, I thank you for the invitation.”

”Likewise. Although I cannot claim to be joking type.”

The mage had quietly crept up to the side of them as the others had been focused upon the flight of the Brith and the comings and goings of the Orc. His face was blank, inscrutable. His green eyes roamed over the three faces at the table, the Orc, the Not-Elf, and lastly the Tiefling. A single pale finger scratched at the edge of the horrid scar on his left cheek.

”I presume you called me over for a reason. Since I do not see Tali Riverend here, perhaps one of you can tell me where to find her. If you would be so kind.”

If one had wanted to find a definition for the term of 'steady decline', just looking at Vekyzz's face might have been a good source for it. The Tiefling was anything but amused as events had unfolded pretty much in the way predicted. Well, at least a part of him was able to understand the Brith's feelings. Seeing one's own kind being degraded into a mere piece of more or less cruel decoration was something he'd find very hard to accept either. Ironically though it seemed that the very latest addition to their party, the proud orc woman named Annabella, was of the much more reasonable kind -- assuming that she had not thrown a bunch of insults at Kjellfrid while talking with her in the distance. The parchment had not mentioned an orc, but she had demonstrated knowledge that she could only have obtained from Riverend herself.

Anyway, Vekyzz started to hope that she would be one of the lesser problems of this endeavor. The obvious number one of those was sitting right in front of him, claiming to be an elf and definitely eager to demonstrate his destructiveness. However before Vekyzz could address him the other elf he had called over previously finally showed up.

"We are all waiting for Tali Riverend, but I have been instructed and authorized to assume leadership in case she's unavailable. Feel free to sit down as we probably will not leave right away." The mage took up an empty seat.Then the tiefling's gaze turned towards Sigemund, his voice still more of a whisper instead of a roar.

"Goat knows how to handle Sand Wraith. Goat will make one of them eat oversized elf when we enter goat-land. Goat is wondering if oversized elf's ears were clipped because clipped away pieces were the most valuable things of oversized elf's body. Goat has adjusted his language so oversized elf can understand goat more easily. Goat is pissed off by oversized elf's behavior."

A smirk made a brief appearance on the tiefling's face.

"Alright... and now much more seriously: I have to lead all of you through this and this won't work if we start hating each other right away. I can't force you to comply, but I strongly recommend that everybody shoves all of his habitual slurs up his ass in one go for the sake of efficiency, if not even survival. The better we work together the sooner we'll be over this and, just as a bit of additional motivation, I don't care what anyone of you does afterwards."




As the teifling settled those at the table, a smooth and gentle sound began to ebb over the tavern as a flute made its way through the crowds, calming those within earshot. A simple head turn would be all that it would take to see the form of Kjellfrid playing a dimly lit flute that gave off a ghostly aura. As she moved her head, wispy trails flowed off of the ghostly flute, and the calm seemingly coming too naturally. Her normally solemn eyes were closed, concentrating on trying to get the flute to play to its full effectiveness, though something prevented her.

However, that did not stop the Brith as the solemn sound soothes the surrounding souls from the wears travels and crowded spaces, though the song was ultimately meant for herself. As she opened her eyes, though, she did notice that many eyes had turned to her, staring at her as the music slowly died away until the silent hum of the flutes form disappeared. Kjellfrid hid the last remaining bit of the flute on her person before she got to her feet and dusted off her dress. Her head kept down as she walked to the table of the strange party, not making eye contact with any who looked to her.

”I am sorry for my disruption, I will try t’ keep my fears to herself,” Kjellfrid said curtly in a line clearly said more times than the poor soul could count.


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As Kjellfrid pressed against the lip-plate her phantom flute echoed a waning cry, but its semblance fractured. Despite her protests, the barrel of the instrument flickered as if being suppressed by some ethereal force. For her efforts it seemed some of the tension previously suffocating the room had dissipated. Many of the patrons, despite being packed into the common area like rats, were more relaxed. A few travelers gathered together and quietly hummed sea shanties among themselves.

By this time, it must have been almost noon. Still there was no sign of the Trading Company’s representative.



As if by some divine intervention, commotion picked up from just outside La Resplenda. There was a swelling of chatter, though from within the tavern it was difficult to make out anything concrete. Just as sudden, did the door swing open as the sound of squealing metal filled the room. The door hinges buckled slightly at the force of the intrusion.

Idiotas! You better have the quantma to fix that,” the barkeep called out from behind the safety of his bar counter.

There was no answer for the barkeep. Instead, a man spilled out through the doorway and unto his knees. He only barely managed to catch himself with the ball of his palms. His robes were ripped, and his left eye blackened. If not for the gasps and hushed whispers, one might've even heard the drops of blood form a small pool on the wood floors beneath him.



Positioned behind the beaten man was the guard captain that had previously occupied the docking area as well as a small troop of guardsmen. The clanking of swords and armor rang out in the now silent bar. The guard captain stepped forward into the doorway, as sunlight crept in with him.

Where,” he demanded before forcefully lifting the man to his feet. The beaten fool was left to a mere whimper. He shakily lifted a finger in the direction of Karlus. Balling a piece of the man’s robes in his hand, the captain tossed him back towards the doorway. Another guard stopped the man from falling over himself. “Illio,” called the captain. There were no more words between the two guards. They simply exchanged a knowing glance before the underling nodded. Illio forcefully pulled the sobbing man out of the door.

Please,” the minstrel’s voice cracked through webs of spit and mucus as he begged tearfully.

I gave you what you wanted.

It was only a silly song, I meant no offense. I can fix it!

The remaining guards seemed unresponsive to the minstrel’s fading cries. The guard captain quickly approached the table, as he peered over each of its occupants with prejudice. He hadn’t expected so many of them. His hand never left the hilt of his sword, and his thumb danced almost frantically along the pommel. His gaze fixated on Karlus.

By order of Prince Stantos, first of his name, and rightful heir to Caracas; I, Guard Captain Rial Armonte, place you an...your party under arrest for the use of magic and suspicion of illegal affiliation. You will surrender your weapons, and be escorted to the Caracan Pits where you will await judgement from his highness.” Armonte’s gaze shifted among the group, likely in an attempt to suss out hasty movements.A few guards approached from behind their captain. Armonte's hand sat threateningly upon his pommel, now, awaiting compliance...or resistance.
Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Jarl Coolgruuf
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Annabella stepped calmly forward with her hands lifted in full view of everyone present. She made sure to move smoothly and stop well out of reach of the captain more to reassure him than for her own safety. She knew it was likely she would be able to escape unharmed, but she would rather avoid armed conflict if at all possible.The thought occured to the orc that perhaps using the native language would help ease tension. Familiarity brings comfort to most.
"For the record, Captain," she began in fluent, albeit heavily accented Caracan, "I did only arrived a few moments ago, but I can assure you that nothing of the sort has occured. The man you dragged away is the only one guilty of anything you described."

As much as the monk detested lying, it was far better than bloodshed. She gestured toward Karlus and continued, hands still raised. "My friend performed no magic. He merely informed the man you arrested that he would have to report his treason if he continued
There was a pause as she turned her head and locked eyes with the bartender. Hopefully he would hear her unspoken plea. With that, she turned her attention back to the captain.
"The bartender saw the whole thing and can verify everything I have said."
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The barkeep's eyes looked from Annabella's to Karlus', and stayed locked on the mage for a moment. He then looked to Captain Rial "Se vero Senore Armonte, lo cantante era un idiota borracho. Lo pallido regazzo es inocente." Where once the barkeep stood chest out, now was the visage of a shrunken man.









Captain Rial Armonte sat with himself for a moment, mulling over the situation. The crew seemed experienced. He'd likely only cut down one or two before the others could retaliate. Even still, he had his orders. He turned his head back towards the younger guards. "Come passiamo determinare se e con La Lega?" The guards shrugged in response.

"La Lega de Magi sono magusi de lo sangue, no senore? Controlla eventuali bende o tagli sulle bracia." One of the younger guards finally spoke up. He didn't seem confident. The captain nodded before looking back towards Isabella.

"Levanta lo maniche e poi la camicia, l'orco."






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Ƀᵾɍn ɨŧ đøwn. Ƀᵾɍn Ⱥłł øf ŧħɇm đøwn. Ŧħɇɨɍ wȺɍđs wɨłł nøŧ ᵽɍøŧɇȼŧ ŧħɇm. Wɇ wɨłł nøŧ ƀɇ ȼȺǥɇđ ȺǥȺɨn.




It was the light touch against his arm that broke him. Karlus was standing bolt upright, lurching away from the hands that clawed at him. It all came flooding back. The hands in the night that took him and bound him. The dark cells beneath the college. Those same hands again, etching pain and misery in every inch of his skin. Never again. His eyes rolled in their sockets, staring widely at the array of unfamiliar and hostile faces that surrounded him. His breath was already in short frantic pants. His nostrils were flared out. He could feel the urge rising up in him.

"Do. Not. TOUCH. Me." Karlus hissed through his clenched teeth. But it didn't sound like his usual mild tones. There was a rawness in there, a burning smoke choked rasp that was deeper and louder than it had any right to be. The candlelight from the chandelier guttered and flickered as if blown through by a gust of unseen wind. The logs crackling away in hearth spat a glut of fat sparks.

Annabella pursed her lips almost imperceptibly. She was reconsidering her choice to speak in Caracan. Yes, definitely a mistake to not include him in the plan. She said none of this and smiled gently at Karlus but refrained from touching him.

"It's alright. I was just explaining to the captain about how the minstrel lied. They seem to think you're with the League of Magic but, knowing you for as long as I have, I know that's not true. Show them your arms and chest to prove you're not a blood mage and everything will be just fine."

Karlus began to laugh.

Her face was the picture of calm, but internally she was sweating boulders. She knew full well what the symbol he flashed at the mistrel meant. At this point she could only pray he was mostly clean. But the only answer to her prayer was the sound of metal scraping against steel. It sang with a wild whistling as Captain Armonte drew his blade. The three soldiers behind him were less quick, and seemed shaken by the sudden outburst.

“Try anything mage, and I’ll carve through you like paella. This time, I’ll forego the pleasantries, the lot of you are under arrest. Surrender your weapons and come quietly.”

Before he knew what he was doing, Karlus watched as his hands twisted in the air before him. Drawing out those so familiar shapes. He didn't even have to really think about it anymore. Second nature. Next came the words. Spoken in an ancient tongue so long dead it had no name. His voice crackled with arcane energy, turning the harsh guttural syllables into something more. Something greater. Power, pure power.

"F̡͡ ̵̸L̸ ̨҉̷Y̷̛҉ "

The table flew across the room at a frightening speed, slamming into the foremost of the group of armed guards gathered by the door. The drinks and other detritus across it span off and crashed against the stone flagged floor, bouncing and rolling across the tavern. But Karlus didn't stop to watch. His blood was up. The pain was already blossoming all over the left side of his body. That was more just a little fire play, and there was more to come. He would pay for this dearly come the morning.

He wedged his pack under the crook of one arm and spun about to face the narrow snug to the right of the fireplace that was behind them and the faces of the shocked patrons that inhabited it still.

"Get out of my way!" They scrambled to do so.

He sprung towards the nook and in a few strides Karlus leapt up onto the hastily abandoned table, his feet kicking aside half emptied flagons of ale and jugs of wine. At the back of the snug was a window. One that did not look out upon the crowded dockside, but instead a quiet alleyway that led up the side of the La Resplenda. He raised his free hand out towards it and stretched his palm wide.

"O̸̵͝ ̷̡͢͞P̷̷̀͜ ҉̵͜͜E͞҉ ͏̡̡N͟͏̡͏ "

The window exploded outwards in a shower of broken glass.

And then he was out, his feet pounding on the cobbled alley, a wild grin painted across his face. He tried to stifle a laugh and failed. The harsh barking sound rang off the confined always of the alleyway. He let his feet carry him away from the influence of the erasure ward. One more spell. Once he was beyond its grasp. One more spell, and he would be done.




Collaboration between @Kassarock, @Famotill & @Jarl Coolgruuf
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Sigemund, "Brith-Eater"





The flute was beautiful. A brith had done something beautiful. Purely a bad omen surely. Witchery? Who was to know?

Perhaps he was mistaken to have remained quiet, and allowed this to develop as it had. He sat, contemplating the moment as a table shot through the air and into the guardsmen. The real consequence was affiliation. He had not taken the necessary precautions to separate himself from this gaggle, and the mage's reaction seemed to have made those precautions necessary.

Hindsight was perfect.

Crunkc.

The table drove them now against the far wall. How odd was this magic? This was something to fear. Hrunting was strong but it was only good at breaking poorly made blades and making bad wounds worse.

Pwoofk-k-k-k-kc.

Did he really use witchery to open a window?

Any sort of plan was out the window at this point— That is to say literally. The mage was a liability but was likely key for whatever venture these potential companions were to accompany him on. What were the circumstances?

The contact was late. The guardsmen appeared in her stead. The meeting had gone poorly, or they had been sold out. They had not committed the crimes described by the guardsfolk. Illegal affiliation suggested something sharply unfortunate. The Goat was in charge, but the Goat had no Dreamer's Draugr. It would be best to not start slaying now in the new homeland. It would be hellish if there were warrants for Wudga Wave Wraith out here. The risk of the Brith keeping embassy here was too great. He would have to have Anne do some looking around.

"My name is Hama. I have a ship at docks, look for the skull-head icon across the bow. Only put them down," he gestured towards the table and the knocked Guardsmen, "if they give you trouble. I figure Anne will try to shoot you if you get too close to my boat. When you see my crew, you'll see them, tell, 'Hama sent us for lodgeworkings.' They should help you out if the damn governingfolk are done searching me. If you don't want flight, we need to get our Witch back. Whatever you intend on us doing," He pointed his left hand authoritatively at Vekyzz, "I want the Witch with us, if only because the damn thing is clearly strong enough to get us anywhere we may be going. All of us are here for this Riverend individual and I like to keep appointments. I'll be blatant, as I don't like a big mess of lies about me. Bad for morale. I am from the Trident, sorry for the hostilities Brith-Ma'am I don't much like your kin, and I'm looking to use this opportunity to settle my clan South, here, where it's safe from Cats."

He watched Vekyzz carefully, drawing Hrunting and positioning himself so that he could cut down the guardsmen if they attempted to recover too fully from their table-bound circumstances. His statements had been firm but his tone deferred to the Goat. He took the briefest moment to put his left hand on the hilt of his dagger, refraining to draw it. Instead he stood with his right arm forward and out towards the guards. This stance was clearly trained, and capable. It was not for sword fighting, however. It looked like he was preparing to grapple, using the sword as the distance boundary. The result that he stood in a rather regal and respectable manner with his right arm bent at the elbow. The real weapon in this stance was the dagger.

"Captain's left leg's lame. I'll head up the rear, you all advance through our window and track down the mage. Annabella, I got your name right? Stay with me and help me tie them down? We don't need bloodshed. Just a misunderstanding. You hear that Captain? We just want to mind ourselves and ensure we all have this situation understood. No violence. You fight in a war? How did your leg end up cricked? I promise I won't fight you less on account of it if you step forward from the table." It was at this point the Sigemund finally took a breath. He had said more in a brief time than he said in his entire time on the damnable new continent.

A tiefling was ten minutes from ripping out his spine in an alleyway, a brith with a glowing flute was working on enslaving a new land of humanfolk, and a greenskin with rightly-made braids in her hair was doing more talking than just about anyone in the tavern. Somehow a mage had thrown a table.

It was at this moment that he shook out his shoulders. I wonder what they're having for dinner? He thought of a stag on a green hill, while its herd stood among wolves. Perhaps an image fueled by ego? Or an aspiration? A rightly mess this all was. He put his effort in to make it look like he knew exactly where this was going, but at this rate he was just concerned about getting his meal tickets out and about. He didn't have a crew size enough to do much but scout and purchase land.



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Vekyzz




The tiefling was stunned. Maybe he didn't look like it at this point, but he had not expected things to unfold in this way.

People being egomaniacs full of disrespect for one or two other kinds of people was one thing, maybe even not that uncommon after all. High mist and the tiefling's homeland was a special case due to their vastly different culture in general, so Vekyzz had to acknowledge that he probably still lacked some of the profound knowledge natives to the lands here had about their own culture.

This wasn't even remotely suited to serve as any kind of excuse for what had just happened though. Right in front of his eyes one of his alleged party members had just thrown all of his will of self-preservation overboard. How far was this Karlus going to make it before his puny body would just give up in a whimper ? The city was packed with people on edge, but even in the most peaceful place of the world that kind of behavior that Karlus had just pulled of would trigger a lot of attention.

Vekyzz internally tried his best to just forget about the man with the scar in his face. That problem, given the information available, was pretty much a self-disposing one. A mage would have been a really nice addition for this endeavour, but a mage who obviously could not control himself for whatever reason was more of a danger than anything else. Much to the tiefling's disfortune the guards showing up already appeared to give him confirmation on that.

And then there was this one man constantly referring to him as a goat, but that was the very least of issues with this individal. While Sigemund had been busy unleashing this volley of instructions towards him, Vekyzz had tried to listen over the silent sound of his blood starting to boil. The tiefling's eyes had been blinking in quick succession and by now he had started to rub the leathery skin on his nose as if there was gold to be found underneath. Of course there wasn't. There was just utter disappointment about how poor of a selection Riverend had made for this party, near limitless anger about how selfish, arrogant and reckless these people behaved and... fear. His own job was at stake here if he'd fail! Or no, rather his life! Did any of those morons even have the mental capacity to understand what the Wayward was ? Vekyzz had serious doubts about this right now. The greatest scope of comprehension this idiots could achieve probably was that of a clan affair or some petty betrayal, not one's life being ruined by a near omnipresent institution that felt as if guided out from the deepest, darkest abyss itself.

Vekyzz convinced himself that this, as wicked as it looked, simply could not be a trap. Nobody would hire these kind of uncontrollable people in order to set up a proper ambush. No... this had to be a breakdown in the Company's organization and control. Yet another breakdown. And that was reason why he, Vekyzz, could not just simply disappear right here, right now. Leaving this heap of flesh called Sigemund alone while retreating into the bovels of this town would have been perfectly reasonable and much easier to achieve than to try and salvage this operation, but it would also drive another nail into that big, monstrous coffin whose construction had become rather obvious for those with knowledge years ago. A coffin intended for the company.

Or in other words: This had to succeed. At almost any cost. He'd need to prevent both Karlus and Sigemund from making this any worse than they already were. The orc, as friendly and reasonable as she seemed to be, had already tried. So what kind of language did even madmen understand ?

Vekyzz watched Sigemund's stance. It was a quite impressive one from what he could tell about melee techniques, but it was also obvious that no human or elven being could pay full attention to things that happened in front of it and behind of it simultaneously -- and in front of Sigemund were the guards still struggling with the table. Would he be able to keep both them and a monstrous tiefling at bay at the same time ?

Clack. A heavy, metallic sound could be heard.

The turmoil that had followed upon Karlus' magic had caused his weapon to drop from the wall it had been leaning against, hit the floor and maybe even be trampled upon by one patron or another. But Vekyzz knew that this self-made creation was sturdiness itself, built solely for accuracy and power. In his more sinister life, Vekyzz could simply ill-afford a good shot being blocked by some kind of armor worn underneath nice noble clothes or that glass window in front of his target. He had made his decision: The language was violence.

"You have a ship at the docks, Hama ? You're a sailor ? A captain ? Then tell me: What is the price for mutiny ?"

Vekyzz knew that his rifle wasn't even loaded at this point. Keeping powder in the chamber for prologned periods of time without using it only meant that it was allowed to slowly absorb water, become unreliable to ignite and, in the worst case, even start to clog up the delicate mechanics with nasty residuals. However that was something this Hama did not need to know. Hopefully just seeing this humongously long and heavy barrel and noticing that Vekyzz could see his big fat chest right over the muzzle brake at the end of it would be enough for this to work out.

"Because that's what you are comitting at this point. I am in command here, not you! And I won't put one foot aboard your vessel since I know that its crew's loyality belongs to you and you have already proven that you don't like my kind. Isn't that true ? Now unlike the man with the scar I'm quite fond of my life. Not to mention the Brith I have to be responsible for as well... And did you even look around the port when you came here ? I have seen harbors in High Mist that were more inviting! What makes you think that your ship would even make it out of there instead of just being blocked or even given the honor of being sunk right in place ?"

While maintaining his aim, Vekyzz took a slow step backwards. Wooden floorboards creaked in despair underneath his weight, but he didn't even look at them.

"It's also a very bad idea to talk to the Orc next to you and ask if she'll stay in order to 'tie them down' and then, within the same breath, to try and start negotiations with petty small talk about some war stories about limping legs. Maybe the imagination of me blasting away one of your knees will answer the question about how cricked legs can happen. Lucky for you I'm not in the mood for bloodshed either, so you will drop your weapon and help the guards in front of you to remove the table. Subsequently you will hand yourself over to them so I can rest assured you won't screw up while I will try and go for Karlus. And work quickly! I have a mage gone mad to deal with! Once I return, hopefully with Karlus..., we can start real negotiations and hopefully make clear that at least none of those of us who are present in this room right now has any bad intentions."

Vekyzz was counting on the guard's captain recognizing that, at least for the moment, he was on their side. And frankly he would enjoy giving this Elric, Hama or whatever his true name was a decent beating. That man had started to deserve it the moment he had entered the tavern.

"One more thing: You don't like a big mess of lies around you ? Well then better start with yourself next time as you clearly were the first one to spray around a lie about your origin here. And now get damn moving or I might very well just forget myself!"
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The mage’s attack was met with surprised panic from the patrons throughout the tavern. Many of them scattered frantically for the front door, while others seemed nailed to their seats as they stared at the scene before them.

Three of the guards were buried under a sea of wood and wine. Captain Armonte’s face contorted in pain from the blast as he tried his best to worm his way out from under the massive table. With the party in disagreement there was enough time for Armonte to call out to his soldier. “Maldito bastardo, non sta solo li,” Armonte barked through gritted teeth. The only guard unaffected by the blast quickly helped pull the table and wood pieces off of his compatriots by order of his commander. One of the guards was rendered unconscious by the attack, but the others managed to scramble back to their feet.

Captain Armonte drew a dagger from his person without even bothering to look for his sword. He pushed at the guard who had helped pick him up. “Go, pursue the mage and bring him back to me.

But senore, aren’t we meant to bring members of the League to the Pits,” questioned the guard.

Non interrogami, gilipollas, fai solo quello che ti dico,” the captain yelled in return. At his command the guard ran out of the tavern undoubtedly towards the direction of where Karlus had escaped.

He looked towards what remained of the party. “I’ll deal with you all in a moment,” he said angrily. He'd let them bicker among themselves a few moments longer.

Continuing his rampage, the captain stormed over towards the barkeep. “Cristohpher,” he called out like a parent disappointed in their child. He was less angry now, but still stern in his command.

Please Rial, if I’d known the boy was a mage I’d have turned him over to y-” before Cristopher could continue Captain Armonte interrupted.

Enough,” with a wave of his hand he silenced the barkeep. “ You know what happens to people who harbor mages, now. Do not resist, my friend. Perhaps his Highness will be merciful.” The captain placed a firm hand on the barkeep’s shoulder. He looked over to the other conscious guard. “Peri,” he ordered. “Take mister Cristopher.” With a nod the barkeep quickly whisked the tavern owner away. There was little resistance on the part of Cristopher. He only looked over to Annabella, and then the others with a sorrowful look.

Looking over towards the rest of the party, Cristopher paced forward more cautiously. He looked over Annabella suspiciously without saying much other than the occasional grunt. Looking passed the brute of an orc he saw Kjellfrid sitting anxiously in a chair.

You,” he called down to her.

The Brith, who had been watching with terrified since the start of the incursion, could only stare at the captain, before timidly shifting in her seat. Kjellfrid took a moment to muster the courage to get up from her seat, flashes of past captivity filled her mind and the soldiers who were adjusting themselves reminded her far too much of her captors. She could see their insignias, the Wolframs surely had taken this part of the world as well as paranoia came all to easily to her. Taking a single step forwards before she doubled over, releasing the contents of her stomach into the floor. The stress of everything had made her mind snap in this fashion and she could not help it.

I- I am- she was interrupted once more by her stomach regurgitating it’s contents.

Her stomach quickly calmed itself as she formulated shaky and breathless words, I am sorry.

Armonte’s face contorted in disgust as his body shifted slightly backwards away from the brith and orc. He thought to himself for a moment before looking over the group one more time. “In all of my years serving this city, not once, have I been forced to endure as miserable a company as yours. I’d suspected you were Dantel’s underlings, but given your absolute and profound ineptitude I have been convinced otherwise. I will see you all out of my city by nightfall, but first you will assist me in apprehending the mage.” His gave shifted back towards Kjellfrid. She seemed easiest to break.

Who is the mage, I want a name, now,” he demanded. His gaze shifted among the others for a moment before returning to Kjellfrid. “And with Cristo as my witness if you speak lies to me, cat, you will all spend the rest of your wretched lives in the Pits.” He looked to her, meek and silent in her response. “Speak,” he threatened louder this time.

Kjellfrid took a moment to gaze at the man in fear before stammering out an answer, I-I don’t know! I-I-I am here on behalf of the Von Wolfram family! She scrambled to her feet, yet not having the courage to meet the man’s gaze. Her hands fidgeted as her claws met each other.

Armonte looked the brith over with an eyebrow raised. On her small pauldron, he saw it, the insignia of the Astorian noble house. “A brith working for the Wolfram noble house,” he questioned as he gave an inarticulate grunt. “I can only pretend to fathom what you’re doing in my port, then. What I need from you is information about that mage. Did you bring him to this city? He spoke with an Astorian accent. House Wolfram is Astorian. Which ship did he come here on? Something,” as he said his last word he moved closer to the brith. “Give me that, and perhaps you can return home to your Wolfram’s.

I-I don’t know who he is! H-he was on the same ship as I, but I-I came here alone! Kjellfrid said, her voice shaking as she stepped back from the man.

Same ship,” he asked. “Well, then what is your name?

Kjellfrid stared at him for a moment, unsure if she even knew her own name properly or not, but she forced herself to dispel some of the anxiety which would have only lingered regardless. Her heart pounded hard, she could feel her own pulse while merely standing there and looking at this man.

”K-Kjellfrid Bjornsdottir,” she answered, before her gaze turned to the ground as she stepped back once more. A-am I free, t-to go? she asked, her claws continually pressing against each other, nervously playing as the Brith knew not what to do in this situation.

Free, no, but you’ve proven more useful than the rest.” Armonte nodded her off before turning to the others. By this point most of the tavern had been cleared of guests save for a few souls far too mired in drink to do much of anything save bury themselves in their seats.

Armonte sized the warrior up first. He’d been the most antagonistic save for the table-throwing mage. Eventually, he began to pace back and forth as he examined each of them. Next it was the orc, and finally the tiefling.

In due time i will have captured that mage. Should you aid me in that process I will allow the rest of you to leave the city. I’ve sent Cerio after him, the poor boy. You will pursue them both and ensure the mage is brought to me. One of you will stay behind here with me.” His glance shifted towards Kjellfrid as he nudged his head in her direction. “Fail to return, and I will cut her down.” His attention moved again towards Sigemund and Vekyzz. “ Or you could overpower me, tie me up, perhaps even kill me. Cristo knows, I couldn’t stop you all with only this dagger.” He almost chuckled to himself, a surreal sort of smile threatened the sides of his mouth. "Truth be told, the League has stretched us thin. Made boys play at being soldiers. I sent my men away because I knew you could kill them too." His eyes narrowed. “But know this. Do what you will to me... the might of this entire city will be upon you. Where I may have failed The Cedar Bull will not. Prince Stantos will not.” He was close enough to Annabella, Sigemund, and Vekyzz that each could smell the scent of fish and cigars on his breath.

Backing away from them, he held his arms up in a sort of lackluster surrender, though was sure to keep his dagger in hand. “I’d make your decision quickly.


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Things could’ve gone a better, to say the absolute least. Annabella could only watch in shock as Karlus bent the very fabric of reality around him in a glorified temper tantrum. The orc rubbed her forehead and let out a harsh sigh as the dust began to settle. She was so close to getting a peaceful resolution. This close. She would’ve succeeded had the mage kept his composure and even prevented the barkeep from being arrested. Reshnok far durza narbak. she muttered



At this point, she didn’t care whether they found the mage. She’d rather have nothing to do with him at all. However, she couldn’t let someone like that run wild in a populated city like this. Who knows what he might do if threatened again? More importantly, she couldn’t allow Cristopher to be thrown to the wolves for going along with her plan. No, something had to be done. Something drastic. Hopefully her bluff would be as good as her diplomacy. Balling her hands into fists, she stepped right up to the captain. Even as small as she was among her own people, she was easily a full head taller than him and then some. Release the barkeep and we will help you capture the mage.

Armonte didn’t back away from Annabella’s stature. He raised and eyebrow and tilted his head at her proposal. “Cristopher? Why would his fate matter to you?” He closed his eyes and pushed a finger into the intersection of his nose bridge and forehead. He sighed. “ Do you think I want to jail him? He was a good friend...is a good friend. The situation is out of my hands. This city is tearing itself apart, and if you aren’t with the crown then you’re siding with that bastardo child-murderer, Dantel.” He took a step back. “No, Cristopher knew what he was doing.

Then perhaps I should enlighten you so you know what is about to happen. We, she gestured to herself and the party, "are taking the mage and leaving with him as soon as we apprehend him. We will remove him from the city to prevent any further harm. In exchange, you will release Cristopher and drop all charges against him." As much as she didn’t care for the violent and clearly unhinged little wackjob, there was clearly a reason for him being with the party. She could only hope it was a good one.

If that is what you intend to do, so be it. I will not release him. I will not punish my men to save foreigners that have proved themselves to be my enemy, even if it is for Cristopher. He is lucky he’s managed to stay alive as long as he has with his mouth.” His face twisted in contempt. He took a more firm stance as he tightened his grip on his dagger. “Do what you will, but you will kill me dead before I let that mage go.” Armonte managed to choke out the last few words. His brown hue was made red with passion as if he was speaking passed the party. So too did the white of his eyes slowly redden and begin to water. Though he was content to obscure it from view.

The orc stepped forward until she was just close enough for the proximity to be uncomfortable. She leaned down slowly until she was eye level with the man. There was only one chance for this to work and no room to be soft.How much blood do you think your gloves can hold, she asked calmly.

Captain Armonte let out a small grunt followed by a sniffle. He looked bewildered as if the passion from before mixed with confusion. “Is that some kind of threat,” he asked not backing down from the orc.

Annabella shook her head slowly. "No, little captain. I’m just curious. How much? The blood of one man? Could your gloves soak up the blood of five men, perhaps? A dozen? You saw what a single member of our party could do, now imagine all of us. How many men, how many boys playing soldier are you willing to throw at us? How many sons and brothers are you willing to sacrifice for the arrest of one mage and a lowly barkeep? How much blood can you stand to be on your hands? Answer me."
With any luck, she could make him back down without the need for bloodshed.

The look on Armonte’s face was one of animalistic intensity now. His eyes widened with a sort of seething rage, still red and teary. “Haven’t you been paying attention,” he scoffed. “This city is on fire because of one mage.” It seemed impossible, given what little space was left between the two, but the captain stepped closer. “Boys and men,” he questioned as he bit his lower lip so hard it should’ve have drawn blood. “They die the same way,” he was actively crying now. “Fighting someone else’s war.” With that Armonte lunged forward at Annabella attempting to thrust his dagger into her stomach.

A single, guttural swear passed her tusks as she slapped his wrist away with a frog’s hair of space between her and the tip of the dagger. She responded with a measured palm strike at his throat. The last thing she wanted was to collapse his throat. She already felt awful for what she’d said.Then break the cycle!

Armonte coughed and recoiled, trying frantically to catch his breath. Just as quickly, did he lash back out with the dagger throwing a quick strike towards Annabella’s face. He was frothing now, and to the other party members it must’ve seemed a fit of desperation. He was outnumbered with only his dagger. His anger seemed disproportionate, but wild and palpable. The orc’s words did little to assuage his rampage.




The simple sound of a flute broke the seeming violence between the orc and the human, the tension having been cut by a sound far too soothing and far more relaxing than what the orc had felt when the sound of the flute had been played earlier. Looking back, it could be seen that the ghostly form of a flute had once more appeared in the hands of Kjellfrid, who looked at Armonte with scared eyes, and her playing was only a tad bit shaky. However, the effects soon became apparent as those who listened felt themselves become more tired with the call of sleep becoming ever louder.

Once again the brith played her wavering song, and once again did her flute flicker and wane in its form. The erasure ward was enough to render the flute’s song hindered. Each of the party and Armonte began to waver in their stance though no one more so than Armonte. Had he been more composed he likely would have been able to shrug off some of the effects. As he’d swung at Annabella his movement became sluggish. He completely missed the orc and fell to the floor like a drunkard at the week’s end. He stammered a bit, but whatever he intended to say was incomprehensible. He tried to pick himself up, by leaning on a nearby table, but struggled to.

No sooner than Annabella jumped out of the captain's reach did she feel a wave of drowsiness wash over her mind. Her body tripled in weight instantly and she swayed in place. She was vaguely aware of the sound of a flute behind her and she turned, eyes unfocused. It took a moment for her to process what the brith was doing but when it clicked, the orc knew she had to fight the spell. If she didn't, she'd be dead weight for who knows how long.

Annabella straightened up and held her hands looesly clasped at her navel. She took a slow, deep breath in through her nose and out through her mouth."Dråsh. Ukór. Limac."


She repeated this mantra several more times until the unnatural drowsiness passed. Many take for granted the raw power of will, but she knew it well. Mountains can be torn asunder, oceans boiled away, and the strongest fortress obliterated if only the will to do so is there. The orc looked on sadly as Armonte collapsed. Guilt and pity swirled in the pit of her stomach as she moved to stand beside him. She laid a hand on his shoulder and quietly hushed him as he struggled." Adesso dormi, Armonte. Mi dispiace per tutto quello che ho detto, non intendevo nulla di tutto ciò. A tuoi uomini saranno al sicuro. Riposati."



Vekyzz too heard the strange song, and it made his so far solid stance waver and the aim he had been maintaining at Sigemund perish. At the same time he could grasp the brilliance behind this idea and complain about it: It was so... undirected... like a poor man's buckshot instead of a solid hit. The Tiefling started breathing more heavily. He needed air! More air or his consciousness might not remain afloat! And he needed to concentrate on Karlus, if not for the sake of catching him then for the sake of just hating him right now! Anger too was a feeling suitable for fighting the effects of magically induced sleepiness.

The moves with which Vekyzz opened the chamber of his rifle, dropped in a quite disturbingly large projectile, padded the empty space behind it with powder that gave of the smell of sulphur and then closed the entire assembly again were a far cry from the swiftness he was used to, but at least he managed it despite the circumstances. Then he pushed himself out of the window Karlus had used before, but with being about four times the overall size and reduced attentiveness his horns left a bit more obvious damage behind. Did he care ? Not now. There was a much higher priority roaming around in this city, possibly still out of control and in dire need of being stopped.

He'd get him. Or at least go to the greatest lengths affordable in order to try it. However Vekyzz also wasn't stupid enough to engage a fiery mage on close range. Disabling Karlus, should it occur, was bound to be a much more unfortunate event for the mage.



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The Chase



Karlus knew something was wrong as he pelted away from the dockside tavern and made his way north, deeper into the city. It wasn’t fading. The pulling in his skin and in his mind would not fade even as legs worked furiously to carry him from its influence. The burn of the erasure ward felt almost just as strong here at the end of the narrow alley as it had when he had entered it. No matter. There would be somewhere free of it. There must be somewhere free of it.

He jumped a pile of detritus and scanned the escape routes before him. The alley itself had been meagre pickings, buildings either full of people or tightly boarded shut. He thought he heard whispers behind the planked doorways slashed with painted red crosses. He thought he saw people watching him from narrow half shuttered windows above. Nowhere to hide. Nowhere to disappear.

The alley opened onto a market square of sorts, a gap between the favelas and slums that grew behind the warehouses and sailor swarmed taverns had lined the quays. Just enough room to from the canals to snake in and to be able to see the sky again, the flutter of coloured flags on the breeze. The market itself made a poor sight, there were few open stalls, and no customers to speak of. More boarded up doors, more red crosses marking them. Still puddles of dirty water sitting over the cobbles.

The ward did not fade. In fact he could feel it now, from the other side of the square, the unmistakable pull of another erasure ward. Karlus realised with a small degree of horror that they must be littered across the entire city. Just what was going on Caracas? Where were the people? What had the League of Magi done?

“Signora,”

Enough to stir him from his thoughts was a voice calling out from just beyond the alleyway. It was there that Karlus saw one of the guards from the tavern. The young soldier hesitantly made his way across a small bridge which hung to the left of the marketplace; marrying it to the docks the mage had only just escaped. Karlus could only just make out the shape of an elderly woman tending to a small stand that was propped up by crates, and adorned with torn fabrics. The guard approached her with a sort of cautious naivete not surprising for someone of his age and demeanor.

“Signora, sto cercando un magus, capelli chiari e bianchi. È un fuggitivo dalla legge.” The guard approached the woman as he finally dug up the courage to sheath his weapon.

“E? De se katalavaino,” the woman questioned in a sort of throaty drone.

“Apologies signora, do you speak the common tongue? I’m looking for a mage of modest size and stature. He is pale and light of hair. We believe him to be dangerous. He must be captured. Have you seen anyone of that description? He must be here somewhere." Karlus’s view of the conversation was somewhat obscured, but he could see the woman shoo the guard away.

“E? Írthate edó gia na agorásete káti í óchi,” she questioned again growing more impatient this time.

The guard has his back turned to him, Karlus saw his chance and he took it. He pulled his cloak tight around him and threw the hood up to hide his face as he emerged from the alley. Tacking left along the edge of the market square, Karlus made for the small bridge that the guard had crossed over, he hoped the guard would not double back to more thoroughly search the area that he had already passed through.

The guard still seemed too preoccupied in frustrated conversation with the vendor to notice Karlus. His back was turned towards the woman. However, the vendor could see the mage skulking in the distance. A quick glance away from her interrogator and towards Karlus was enough to make the guard turn his attention away.

“You! Stop,” he commanded shakily. He began to approach Karlus hurriedly though still visibly cautious.

His cover blown Karlus took flight again, tearing away from the guard as fast as his thin legs could carry him. He ran across the bridge and found himself before a series of shops and storefronts. He searched frantically for another escape route and came across one. Another alleyway wedged between two of the buildings. He slipped into it, glancing over his shoulder to see if the guard still pursued.

“I said stop,” the young guard warned again as he chased after Karlus. In the morning light the mage’s dark clothing did little to obscure him from sight. Having cornered him in the alleyway the guard closed the distance between the two. “Enough of your tricks mage, you are under arrest. Do not resist again.” Karlus noticed a slight shaking in the guards hand as he held it out in some vain attempt to assuage the mage’s trepidation. Surprisingly the guard had yet to draw his weapon. Perhaps he sought to end things peaceably or perhaps his nerves got the better of him. Either way he approached Karlus.

To his back were walls, grime, and debris. No running this time. The hiss that called to Karlus somewhere from deep within was no longer there replaced only by a numb burning sensation. A sort of migraine. Whenever the voice made itself known it left the mage fatigued for a time. Still, he felt he had some power in him yet despite the weight of the erasure ward that hung around them.

“You’ve made a mistake. I’m not with the League, whatever they’ve done, I only arrived today. I have nothing to do with whatever else is going on here.” Karlus pleaded with the guard. It was probably too late, but it was better, better than just killing him. “Just leave me alone. Walk away, please… I do not want to hurt you.”



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The party made their way out of the tavern to track down Karlus through the back alleyway, but there was no trace of the mage there. Stepping out beyond the garbage and clutter in the alleyway they could see a completely abandoned marketplace with no one in sight. Unlike many of the stands and merchant shops dotting the marketplace, one stand off to the right of the alley still had a number of trinkets upon it. The area was somewhat small, but nestled between sprawling favelas and dank alleys.

Vekyzz's feet came to a trampling stop on the dirty cobblestones, almost sliding a few inches over them as near a harbor things always had a nasty tendency to be a little wet. The tiefling looked around, but it certainly would not have taken anyone near his height to get a perfect overview of the situation quickly: There simple wasn't anybody left to obstruct any line of sight. The marketplace was devoid of any life, but not of indications that it must have been there just moments earlier.

This could simply not be a good sign... What had caused this mass exodus of people ? The situation inside the tavern ? Vekyzz almost immediately dismissed this thought as rubbish -- too far, way too silent and probably all too 'normal' for a tavern with drunk people in it. For him, things pointed much more to Karlus. Had the crazy mage not been able to stop his fiery temper once outside ? Had he continued to use dangerous magic ? And most importantly: Which of those small streets had this damned, tiny little man taken ? For a moment Vekyzz even considered hoping for Karlus to continue to use his magic as it would have made finding him a lot easier, if not possible in the first place.

However he was not the kind of guy to give up in this situation. The place being empty also had the advantage of nobody being there to obstruct his path or to alert even more guards about another crazy man running around -- this time with a rifle ready to fire. Vekyzz had not taken the thing into his hands yet as carrying it strapped to his back made it easier to run. And so he did now, taking the alley to the east. Hopefully anyone who had followed him so far would be clever enough not to waste his or her presence following him but to take another route. The tiefling did not give instructions at this point, he was too focused on the hunt and assassins usually worked alone.

Upon making his way towards the alleyway Vekyzz was greeted by the sight of both Karlus and the guard rendered unconscious. There was clearly some kind of skirmish. The mage laid face down at the head of the alleyway while the guard, about four paces away, sat against the wall. His armor was dented on the right side with smoke billowing out from the center of the wound. Vekyzz could see that neither were dead, at least.

”By my ancestors,” Kjellfrid said, looking at the scene, having followed Vekyzz for reasons that he would not have known. However, it was clear on a simple thought that the Tiefling was tall and intimidating, odds are she would be using him as a wall to hide from others. Though, the magical flute she carried was nowhere to be seen, having been placed back somewhere on her person. The brith, looked at Vekyzz and then back to the mage and guard.

”S-should we help him?’ she asked hesitantly.

”Help whom ?” Vekyzz almost snapped back, the brith recoiling from the response. It was pretty safe to say that seeing the scene ahead had not helped his adrenaline level go down again. ”And help with what ? I can try to heal some wounds, but I can not help making a madman sane again!”

Having made this kind of statement, the tiefling raised his rifle and pointed it right at Karlus before approaching him carefully. Once he stood right next to the mage’s feet, he used the barrel to gently touch as much of the unconscious man’s cheek as there was reachable. Maybe the feeling of cold metal forged into a very lethal form would help to wake him up. If not there still was Vekyzz’s voice, even though the tiefling always found it odd to do anything else but whisper when using it: ”Hello there! Wake up!”

”Kjellfrid ? Take care of the guard. We can still come out of this without anyone having been killed. We have to!” Vekyzz added, not turning away from Karlus for a single moment.

The bard moved forward, slowly getting closer to the guard before crouching next to him after making sure he truly was unconscious. She looked at the bent and near shattered armor, noting the smoke coming out of it in a rather large columb. Though, Kjellfrid first took away the weapon of the guard, setting it behind her in a clear bit of paranoia, either of dying or just the sight of the weapon in general. She looked to Vekyzz, silently watching his gun before turning back to the guard and trying to release him from the armor.



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The party made their way out of the tavern to track down Karlus through the back alleyway, but there was no trace of the mage there. Stepping out beyond the garbage and clutter in the alleyway they could see a completely abandoned marketplace with no one in sight. Unlike many of the stands and merchant shops dotting the marketplace, one stand off to the right of the alley still had a number of trinkets upon it. The area was somewhat small, but nestled between sprawling favelas and dank alleys.

Vekyzz's feet came to a trampling stop on the dirty cobblestones, almost sliding a few inches over them as near a harbor things always had a nasty tendency to be a little wet. The tiefling looked around, but it certainly would not have taken anyone near his height to get a perfect overview of the situation quickly: There simple wasn't anybody left to obstruct any line of sight. The marketplace was devoid of any life, but not of indications that it must have been there just moments earlier.

This could simply not be a good sign... What had caused this mass exodus of people ? The situation inside the tavern ? Vekyzz almost immediately dismissed this thought as rubbish -- too far, way too silent and probably all too 'normal' for a tavern with drunk people in it. For him, things pointed much more to Karlus. Had the crazy mage not been able to stop his fiery temper once outside ? Had he continued to use dangerous magic ? And most importantly: Which of those small streets had this damned, tiny little man taken ? For a moment Vekyzz even considered hoping for Karlus to continue to use his magic as it would have made finding him a lot easier, if not possible in the first place.

However he was not the kind of guy to give up in this situation. The place being empty also had the advantage of nobody being there to obstruct his path or to alert even more guards about another crazy man running around -- this time with a rifle ready to fire. Vekyzz had not taken the thing into his hands yet as carrying it strapped to his back made it easier to run. And so he did now, taking the alley to the east. Hopefully anyone who had followed him so far would be clever enough not to waste his or her presence following him but to take another route. The tiefling did not give instructions at this point, he was too focused on the hunt and assassins usually worked alone.

Upon making his way towards the alleyway Vekyzz was greeted by the sight of both Karlus and the guard rendered unconscious. There was clearly some kind of skirmish. The mage laid face down at the head of the alleyway while the guard, about four paces away, sat against the wall. His armor was dented on the right side with smoke billowing out from the center of the wound. Vekyzz could see that neither were dead, at least.

”By my ancestors,” Kjellfrid said, looking at the scene, having followed Vekyzz for reasons that he would not have known. However, it was clear on a simple thought that the Tiefling was tall and intimidating, odds are she would be using him as a wall to hide from others. Though, the magical flute she carried was nowhere to be seen, having been placed back somewhere on her person. The brith, looked at Vekyzz and then back to the mage and guard.

”S-should we help him?’ she asked hesitantly.

”Help whom ?” Vekyzz almost snapped back, the brith recoiling from the response. It was pretty safe to say that seeing the scene ahead had not helped his adrenaline level go down again. ”And help with what ? I can try to heal some wounds, but I can not help making a madman sane again!”

Having made this kind of statement, the tiefling raised his rifle and pointed it right at Karlus before approaching him carefully. Once he stood right next to the mage’s feet, he used the barrel to gently touch as much of the unconscious man’s cheek as there was reachable. Maybe the feeling of cold metal forged into a very lethal form would help to wake him up. If not there still was Vekyzz’s voice, even though the tiefling always found it odd to do anything else but whisper when using it: ”Hello there! Wake up!”

”Kjellfrid ? Take care of the guard. We can still come out of this without anyone having been killed. We have to!” Vekyzz added, not turning away from Karlus for a single moment.

The bard moved forward, slowly getting closer to the guard before crouching next to him after making sure he truly was unconscious. She looked at the bent and near shattered armor, noting the smoke coming out of it in a rather large column. Though, Kjellfrid first took away the weapon of the guard, setting it behind her in a clear bit of paranoia, either of dying or just the sight of the weapon in general. She looked to Vekyzz, silently watching his gun before turning back to the guard and trying to release him from the armor.

Before Kjellfrid could relieve the guard of his armor a voice called out from just beyond the alleyway. “Minerva, mother spoke true.” Surprise echoed in the onlookers voice as he called out to the Goddess. Stepping out from around a corner and peering into the alleyway was a man dressed in rather striking robes. A head shaved nearly too close to the scalp contrasted with his flamboyant clothing. His lanky frame came into view as he motioned towards the party. “If your intent is to harm that mage I’m afraid I cannot allow you to leave this alleyway.









The stranger inched closer to the group, or more specifically towards Vekyzz and Annabella. He raised his hands as if in surrender. “I mean you no harm. This, I swear to you. So long as your intentions for this mage are pure,” he stopped moving forward. His left hand tugged at the bandages on the right wrist, still raised in good faith. The bandages fell gingerly to the pavement revealing, in their place, a bevy of scars and cuts about the stranger’s flesh.

Annabella showed the man her palms but made no move to step forward. She took note of his scars. A friend of the mage, perhaps? At the very least the two were likely allies. Perhaps three was the charm for the day. That was the hope, anyway as she took a deep breath before speaking to the man. She spoke softly, evenly, doing her best to exude an aura of calm
"Our intentions are peaceful, we do not want to harm him." She paused, pursing her lips as she thought about her next words. "However, I will not lie to you. If we cannot stop him with words, we will use force. We cannot allow him to endanger anyone else."

The robed mage dropped his hand. He looked to Annabella and then his eyes wandered behind her towards Kjellfrid, or more likely, the unconscious guard. “Is he dead,” he asked. It was clear from his tone, though, that he didn’t expect an answer. He shook his head gingerly and with it the question from his mind. He walked more casually towards Vekyzz and Annabella. “It is not the mage you should fear. You and your companions aren’t safe here,” he urged. The mage paused for a moment in thought. “I may be able to afford you safety from them,” he motioned towards the guard as he spoke. “Anyone who would call Stantos’ dogs their enemy is an ally to us.

”Well… if I am allowed to speak frankly… With friends like these you don’t need enemies. They have been giving trouble to me for the whole, freakin’ day!” Vekyzz clearly was speaking about his own party and he was doing so with the blatant undertone of at least partial resignation. He felt like a hunter who had been so close to his prey before some greater evil had decided to just snatch it away from him. Who was going to give Karlus the rant and beating he had earned himself so profoundly now ? Probably none. Not with the small madman just having gained a tall, could-be lunatic as his new best friend who could be a powerful mage, too. Or maybe that anonymous guy just pretended to be such until he’d reveal his true and ugly face ? Who knew what kind of different factions were at work in this city. Right now it definitely felt as if there were more than just the guards.

The tiefling stopped trying to wake up Karlus with his rifle and strapped the weapon onto his large back again. He reached for the man instead, his huge hand easily gaining a vice grip around the mage’s shirt so he could pull him up. ”Hello ? You there ? Wake up!” Vekyzz tried to slap Karlus’ cheek. Gently first, then with significantly increased strength. The tiefling sighed, speaking to the stranger again while not turning his eyes away from Karlus. ”Actually we are here to save him from both the guards and his own actions, but if he doesn’t wake up soon I’ll have to carry him to whatever hideout you have in mind and that will trigger even more attention...”

The mage observed the motley crew of adventures with an eyebrow raised, and head slightly ajar. A smile threatened his downturned mouth. As Vekyzz tended to Karlus the stranger continued. “Our medics have been quite busy tending to plague-ridden, but we could likely tend to you all.” As the tiefling sighed and spoke again the mage nodded away Vekyzz’s concerns. “I can promise you discretion…” he said as he gave the party a final look over. “Certainly more discretion than you’ve managed thus far. But you must make your choice quickly. I have taken a risk in trying to help you.

Annabella narrowed her eyes at Vekyzz and crossed her arms over her chest. She stepped right up to the man and looked up at him with a less than pleased expression.
"First of all, I arrived only minutes ago. Second, you waving your rifle around like a drunken grenadier is not helping either. I want to help you and everyone here, but if you're going to keep acting like a tantruming child who throws blame on everyone else then I'll be happy to part ways, even with someone as handsome as yourself."
Without waiting for his reply, she picked the mage up off the ground and laid him across her broad shoulders in a fireman's carry. With that, she turned her attention to the mage.
"I don't know about the others, but I am not waiting here for the guards to crash down on us like a tidal wave. Röl grosh, avůk nogal. Lead the way."



Vekyzz did not say anything. Or well… at least nothing anyone else would have been able to understand. It was a curse straight from the deepest, darkest abyss to be found in the heart of a tiefling’s native tongue. A tantruming child ? A drunken grenadier ? Well first of all she herself had just admitted that she had merely arrived minutes ago, so she had missed some of the insults and unnecessary provocations he had had to endure in the first place. Then she probably had no idea how to handle a rifle, let alone a precision one like his. So how could she dare to speak about how to deal with one properly ? And carefully nudging a dangerous mage from the distance with the cold barrel could hardly be called ‘waving around’, could it ?

Vekyzz once more used the tiefling language, this time speaking to Karlus who still seemed unconscious: ”Karlus ? If you hear me… wake up! Wake up and unleash all of the uncontrolled rage that’s left in you upon the Orc carrying you. I have been a fool and deemed her to be one of the more reasonable of the party at first!” Well... from a strictly technical point of view Annabella still was, but that barrage of accusations was a very major blow still.

"Stick close to me, and follow my every direction exactly." With that the mage hurried forward out of the alleyway with the others following close behind.


Collaboration between @Fetzen, @Lauder, @Famotill and @Jarl Coolgruuf
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The echo of an oar wading through dank waters crept throughout the underground tunnels the party had found themselves in. More pernicious than the noise was the odor. It was worse than the common refuse one might expect from a large city. It smelled unnatural, like a kind of decaying; of what no one could be sure. The only reprieve from the darkness that encroached on their boat was a small orb of light manifested by the mage who had navigated the party through the city. He kept his focus on steering the gondola yet the orb persisted without faltering.








The boat came to a halt one final time. A dead end. The party found themselves in a large cavernous room with only a small dock and blocked off tunnels ahead of them.

Come,” the stranger urged as he stepped from the boat out onto the decrepit dock. It stretched out onto the water like an old finger. The mage calmly stepped forward without another word. The wooden planks creaked beneath them. As the party followed the mage toward the tunnels he looked back to them. “Please, pardon my compatriots. Things...have been difficult.

With that the mage put a hand on one of the walls to the tunnel. A ripple in space itself that followed from his touch. He pushed through the facade as if stepping through water as the party followed closely behind him.




Whatever magic had allowed them all to phase through the wall led them into another large cavern. Its was long and vacuous, but narrow. They made their way through the dark hallways of the cavern. The smell from before had finally subsided, relatively at least.

The sounds of footsteps meeting the party at the other end of the cavern was enough to give them pause. The stranger seemed undeterred by the advancing noises. Eventually, an older man stepped from the shadows greeting the party as they made their way to the end of the tunnel. The elder man looked the party over before glancing towards the stranger with contempt. There were no words exchanged as the stranger brushed passed the elder who then followed behind the group.

The party made their way into a makeshift foyer. A number of small fireplaces lit the area more than most of the cavern. People were hustled around them. Their gaze turned to the party as they made their way forward. Hushed whispers spilled out around them. There was old furniture, tomes, luggage, and artwork scattering the area. There was the occasional shanty nestled away in the darkest corners of the room.

The elder mage finally broke the silence among the party. “I knew you to be a fool, Horatz, but to bring strangers to this place? After what happened at La Grazia? In your arrogance, you’ve jeopardized the safety of the entire league.” The old man made no effort to cloak his words behind niceties nor did he seek to hide them from the party.

No Phideas,” Horatz protested. “They were helping a mage who had been attacked by one of Stantos’ men.

There is no weaker a bond than one forged in mutual hatred. Even still...” Phideas stopped at the end of the foyer before turning to the rest of the party. “I mean you all no offense. These are troubling times in our fair Caracas. I’d only wish Horatz had made us aware of his sudden...philanthropic predilections.” The man spoke with a heavy Caracan accent. His voice was rich and deep, but there was a weariness to it. It was almost mesmerizing.

Helping others is how we win against my brother, is it not Phideas,” another voice called out from beyond the foyer. A young man stepped out towards the party. He spoke with a flamboyance, and he worked to mask any trace of an accent. He was devilishly handsome. A small golden chain linked from his nostril to his earlobe. His eyes were a murky hazel, and his skin a light brown color. His robes were fanciful though covered by a cape. The cape itself had an extravagant collar that was nearly weighed down by its own heaviness. It's tip extended up the man's neck towards his ear on one side, and hung closer to the chest on the other.

I meant only that we should take caution, Dantel.

Dantel made his way towards the group as if ignoring Phideas’ protests. He studied the party with an exaggerated level of charm. “Such beautiful new allies you’ve brought us Horatz.” He made his way towards Kjellfrid before taking her hand and kissing it gently. “I am Dantel Ernesto Amarillo de Caracas. Prince of Canal City and...humble leader to the League of Magi. You must forgive the...eccentricities of my collaborators. They are far too dire.” Dantel looked to Karlus who still laid unconscious draped over Annabella’s shoulders.

Noticing Dantel’s prodding Horatz looked towards him. “It seems he has spell fatigue. He just needs some rest, and a bit of caster’s milk.” Dantel nodded in response.

Jareez, please help our new friends. Would you be so kind as to carry this handsome specimen to our infirmary?” Horatz rolled his eyes at Dantel's flattery.

Stepping out from one of the groups huddled around a fire was a large tiefling woman. Her hair was cut short, and her horns were frayed. She couldn't help but stare at Vekyzz for a few moments, before looking to Dantel. She nodded before gently taking the mage from Annabella’s care.

If you’ll all follow us,” Dantel motioned for the group to follow his lead behind Jareez. The group made their way through corridors that lined the cavern. It was clear that something had been built down here long ago. Most of it was tattered and in ruins now, but there was a time when this place stood strong.

I must apologize for the state of our current abode. My brother has thrown a tantrum because he is not the heir to this great city. He’s ransacked our former base of operations, and has made retrieving much of my property from the royal offices all but impossible. Meanwhile the people he seeks to rule are made miserable by his ineptitude.

As the party moved through the hallways the sounds of coughing and vomiting grew louder. The smell that filled the sewers returned, though more acute than before. Jareez turned into one of the corridors on the right. There were a number of makeshift beds where a number of sick lay in misery. It was difficult to make out much in the room with such little lighting, but there was enough to see strange brown rashes and rotting pustules having mutilated the faces of many of the sick.

I realize the sight is a troubling one. We’ve been working to find a cure,” Dantel said. “Forgive my bluntness, but we are fortunate that it only affects elven-kind. They’ve taken to calling it woodrot.



Jareez put Karlus down in a corner bed, away from the others.

Remember your purity spells,” Phideas urged as Jareez walked passed the group and back out towards the foyer.





Dantel had taken the group to a back room that seemed to serve as his office. There wasn’t much in terms of personal effects save for some tomes, magical objects, and a small carved dragon resting on a stack of opened scrolls.

You all are welcome to stay here for as long as we are able to host you.” Dantel paused for a moment before continuing. “My brother has surrendered to madness, and for it people are suffering. I can imagine that you all don’t trust me, and to be frank, I’m not sure I trust you all either. What I do know is that none of you are getting out of this city without stopping Stantos.” Horatz looked to Dantel, who in turn looked towards Phideas. Dantel nodded to the elder.

There is more than just Stantos,” Phideas sighed. “We believe there is some larger conspiracy afoot… some sort of cult bent on ruling the Union with the use of some hellish magic. We don’t know much of anything save for what one of the people in our care has been able to tell us.

But we believe Stantos is connected to it, somehow,” Dantel added. He studied the group looking for some reaction. They all seemed rather tired. He let out a small sigh, trying to defuse the tension. “For now, you are all safe, and have no obligation to me. Get rest and food, and return to me once you have the strength.

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