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Thread: Ripples in the Sea - Hunting Safikma (Part I)

  1. #1
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    Breaker's Avatar

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    Ripples in the Sea - Hunting Safikma (Part I)

    ((Closed to Shinsou, Philomel, and Venex))

    The old fisherman sat on a crate at the edge of the long jetty, line twitching to and fro as he reeled it back in. His lure came out of the dark water still bare, and he cast again with a practiced flick of his heavy wrist. In the dying rays of crimson sunlight he could see younger fishermen working aboard boats that bobbed with the incoming swells. They battened down hatches and secured loose ropes before heading back to their homes to sleep. It seemed unusually wavy for such a windless night. The boats cast flickering moonshadows as they rocked with the tide.

    In his youth the old man had fished on those boats, rising before the dawn each morning to take to the sea with sails and nets. He had earned himself a reprieve in his old age, squirreling away what gold he could whenever he could. Now he only fished for the pleasure of it, or rather as an excuse to take a break from his daughter and her husband and their three squalling children. He loved them all dearly, of course, but living under the same roof made it difficult to remember why.

    They enjoyed a humble, peaceful existence in the small Scaran village of Caedron, several hours sail south of the capital city itself. While miniscule, the village provided everything they needed. There were plenty of other old men for him to jaw with, and there was the ocean. There was work for his daughter’s husband, and a schoolhouse for the children. And there was always interesting gossip going around.

    The lure came out of the water bare again, and again he cast it out into the rousing waves.

    Just a week ago, there’d been a particularly juicy story going around. One of the larger fishing boats had gone missing on a particularly misty day. Vanished into thin air, the other sailors claimed. A small search operation had found nothing, not even a bit of wreckage. Likely the crew had given over to the temptation of smuggling and sailed north to the capital city. The village magistrate had sent word to the harbormaster there detailing the missing ship, but it would be days still before they heard back. Of course, there were whispers of sea monsters, but the old man did not believe in such things. He’d spent thirty years on the ocean, and the scariest thing he’d ever seen was a summer storm.

    He reeled his lure in and cast once more, eyes following its arc until it plunked into the waves.

    A blemish appeared on the horizon, a sleek spot of darkness. The old man blinked twice and looked again. At first he thought he was seeing a ship approach - one of the great warships he’d seen on his visits to Scara Brae. It cut through the water toward Caedron, growing taller and wider with each second. The old man blinked again. He could see no sails or masts, no rigging… only the angular yet smooth shape of it. As it approached it grew, ever rising out of the water.

    The fisherman’s breath caught in a throat that felt coated in ice. Nerveless hands dropped his rod into the white-capped waves, and he scrambled to rise, falling off his crate. Sprawled on the dock, he could only look up at the approaching monstrosity.

    It had eyes the size of his family’s house, jet black and cavernous. It had fangs as large as young oaks that curved out of its triangular maw. And as it drew nearer, still seeming to grow as it rose from the water, it unhinged its jaw and opened that terrible mouth.

    In that moment, the old man knew why he had never seen a monster in his thirty years at sea. This beast had swallowed them all up.The monster’s open maw was taller and broader than the walls surrounding Scara Brae. In a moment’s clarity between shock and terror, he wondered how even the ocean could house such a serpent. He found his feet and ran up the jetty, although he knew it would not matter.

    A frantic glance over his shoulder showed the end of the dock and the first boat being swallowed whole. There was no cracking of timbers; only the rushing sound of the curling whitecap that preceded the monster’s maw. As the wave arced over him the fisherman offered up a final silent prayer to the ocean deity Am’aleh. Not for salvation, but that the wave would kill him, so he would not be alive to witness the serpent swallowing Caedron.

  2. #2
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    Shinsou Vaan Osiris's Avatar

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    I'll edit this post later as I lost a lot of work, but please feel free to continue as the ending won't change.
    Caedron, as Shinsou recalled, began as a forgotten backwater port town centuries ago. In recent years, it developed into a small but shining jewel in Scara Brae's crown. Its location had made it the gateway for trade with the distant continents, the last call before the unknown, but its distance from the rest of civilization also made it a haven for pirates and outlaws.

    Now, it was nothing more than a gaping hole in the coastline of the island.

    Shinsou Vaan Osiris stood atop the crest of one of Scara Brae's many rolling hills as the salty ocean wind whipped at his white coat and stung his alabaster skin, staring in silence at the carnage ahead. Actually, carnage wasn't really the correct term for what the Telgradian witnessed. There was just nothing; no fires, no people running around frantically and no sound other than the howling wind. All that remained to prove that Caedron had even existed in the first place were flecks of brown and grey bobbing up and down on the surface of the sea, resembling what Shinsou imagined to be planks of wood from what was once the harbour and a few stone bricks of what once held it all together.

    “What happened here?”

    The voice sliced through Shinsou's reverie, returning him to reality with a jerk of his elbow and a nod of his head. The sound of boots upon long grass rang in his ears, this time accompanied by the familiar sensation in his gut. Neither cadence served to threaten him.

    “Arius, you’re late.” The Telgradian turned and squinted through the mid-morning sun.

    “I had some pressing matters to attend to in Whitevale. As soon as I had heard, well....” Arius, Shinsou's hand, took a long look at the maw in the landscape, five kilometers distant. “The stories don't do it justice. There's just nothing left. What could have done this? A Thayne? A natural disaster? Something else?”

    The Telgradian shrugged.

    “I can't rule either out, to be honest with you, but I'm leaning towards 'something else'. A natural event would explain the scale of the destruction, but not the precision.”

    Arius pushed his spectacles up his nose.

    “Precision?”

    “Look hard at the edge of the land,” Shinsou replied at length, pointing. “There. See how the cliff is almost cut out? The ridges in the rock are consistent and equally spaced. It's like Caedron was just scooped out by something. An earthquake couldn't have fell a town like this with such a clean break in the coastline.”

    “OK, so let's say we're dealing with something else, maybe something that has attacked the town.” The shifting of leather material accompanied the question as the newcomer settled into a squat alongside his leader. "What exactly are we going to do about it? Of something of this scale?”

    “I wouldn’t know,” Shinsou replied diffidently, a small smile playing about his lips. “But I'm sending a few letters. I'll need a few more capable hands."

    The Telgradian smiled, his chiselled features wreathed in mirth so contagious that his companion found it difficult not to smile back. It was ironic, given the situation left them very little to smile about. They both liked to joke that events like this often resulted in someone wanting to employ the services of the Brotherhood, who, to Shinsou's annoyance, were now gathering a reputation as more of a crime fighting and detective agency than a sophisticated syndicate of mercenaries.

    "Sky falling down? Thayne dragon sleeping in your mountain? Come to Whitevale!"

    As Shinsou turned to walk from his place atop Karak hill, his deep golden eyes stood out starkly against the subtle green of the hill and the earthly tones of his surroundings; the shabby white of the swordsman’s garb seemed positively ashen in comparison. He would never have admitted it to Arius, but this was one job that, if offered, he wasn't too keen to take. He felt awful for the town of Caedron, and the lives that had inevitably been lost weighed on his mind heavily, but he had already been through enough with his fight against Draconus. That had been quite enough for one lifetime.

    Anything that could cause this type of destruction may well have been better just leaving well alone.

    Maybe.

    "So, who's on the list?" Arius asked after Shinsou.

    The Telgradian flashed him a knowing look from the corner of his eye.

    "Good friends."
    Last edited by Shinsou Vaan Osiris; 12-02-2017 at 04:00 PM.
    "By the time they figure out what went wrong, we'll be sitting on a beach...earning 20%"

  3. #3
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    Philomel's Avatar

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    "My lady!"

    It had come as an intial call, a cry on the wild murmurings of the seagulls and banter of the lively harbour.

    "Matriarch, a letter!"

    Into her hand had been slipped a single note of paper, folded five times and then sealed with hot red wax. Two sigils lay on it, one of top of the other, the first having been broken and the second marking it as internal mail. The first was almost undecipherible now, with just a line and angle appearing of what it once was, but the second was clear, still secure. It bore the form of a lily, styalised and elegant, and it noted that it had been given, then closed shut to pass on again in confidence to a single individual, standing on the gangplank of a mighty, three-masted ship.

    Quickly, she had broken it, her eyes had scanned the words once - and then she was shouting orders. In no fewer than thirty minutes the great wooden glory was carving it way from the small port town and heading into open sea. A full wind, the proud figurehead of the rearing fox declaring its presence for all to see. And still, the letter clutched in her hand. Her hand, the faun's hand.

    The letter that had set her into such a flurry of motion that the ship's crew had worked faster than before.

    "One letter and we're sailing away from our best money hoard in two months?" a crew member muttered, dragging on a length of rope. Like all the sailors on the Feisty Fox she was a woman, and unlike all of them she had a secondary job as a whore.

    Her companion, who took up the strain of the rope behind her whispered back, "Its from you know who, the guy who came back from the dead. Twice."

    "The one she fancies?"

    "No, you are thinking of Vaeron."

    A confused frown crossed the first sailor's tanned forehead. Over her hair was a kerchief that attempted to protect her face from the sun, but it had been so hot lately. Which had meant that a lot of individuals had wanted to visit the sailing brothel, desperate to be near the coolness of the sea and also have the opportunity to hide beneath the vast decks.

    "I thought Vaeron was ... you know," she paused, cautiously throwing a glance around, "... gay."

    "And yet he's the father of Princess Celandine? Pah, no way."

    "... If you are talking ill of my daughter, please do not behind my back."

    Swiftly, the two women spun. Wide eyed and still clutching at the rope they twisted to see the unamused expression of the faun Matriarch, their Matriarch and the one their entire crew and organisation looked up to. Such an inspiration had Philomel become that over three quarters of the Gilded Lily now worshipped Drys, her goddess. It seemed that where Philomel walked, she was divinely blessed, and it had inspired them to begin following the tree goddess, even if their race was created by someone else.

    "F-Forgive me, my lady," the first awkwardly said, looking at her in awe. Her hands awkwardly dug nails into the cord. "We uh, I uh ..."

    "Were only saying good things," the second butted in, rolling back her shoulders and nodding. She was extremely tall for a female, and bulky, making Philomel consider that she had perhaps giant blood.

    "Rae and Huna, right?" Philomel looked from one to the other.

    They both nodded.

    Philomel smiled slightly. "Right."

    There was a tight pause. Rae, the tanned one took a small step forwards. "My lady ... why are we setting off so fast? Has - has Osiris actually summoned us?"

    Letting out a short sigh, Philomel twisted around to aim for the stairs that led to the prow of the ship, and there in the figurehead.

    "Wait, wait my lady," Huna placed out her hands in plea. She dropped the rope, but thankfully Rae still had a tight enough hold for it not to slip too far. On the other end of the rope the corner of a sail flapped powerfully in the air. "Wait please."

    A look of discomfort at the corner of her mouth, but Philomel looked back at them. At the same time a lithe, red-coloured figure jumped onto the wall of the ship and glanced from one to another. He had a long wicked set of sharp teeth in his jaws and a long white-tipped tail that swished to and fro.

    Hello, the fox purred.

    "Yes, hello darling," Philomel sighed and began to scratch her fox-form earth-spirit companion behind the ears. The two women hid smiles. "What?"

    Huna looked back and forth between fox and faun, "Are we in trouble?"

    The Matriarch grunted, then shook her head and gave in. Really, all of them were going to find out one way or another. Rumours would begin, circulate and then launch into a full scale enquiry before too long - she knew her crew well enough at least.

    "No, but the town of Caerdon is, in Scara Brae," Philomel said as she lowered her shoulder. Veridian, the fox, took a pause before leaping on and winding his form around her neck.

    "And ...?"

    She breathed in, "And Shinsou has asked us to come. It seems ... well. A sea monster has got there, and we are the only ship he knows nearby that can get there that quickly."
    Last edited by Philomel; 12-02-2017 at 01:54 PM.
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  4. #4
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    Breaker's Avatar

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    “Man overboard!”

    Joshua Cronen had become habituated to hearing that cry while he swam in the sea. To the sailors of the Feisty Fox, he likely resembled a survivor of the flotsam that remained of Caedron. In truth, the powers of his goddess had brought him there to answer Shinsou’s call. But in any event, he still needed a line, and one was thrown down by the crew of Philomel’s ship.

    As Breaker climbed fluidly from the sea the water soaking his clothing and hair simply stayed behind, sprinkling the wavy surface. He landed lightly on the good ship’s deck despite his black metal boots. His dark sifan clothing seemed not only dry but freshly pressed, his hair perhaps annoyingly well arrayed. The Y-shaped scars on his cheeks dimpled as he smiled at the matriarch of the Gilded Lily.

    “Philomel,” he said fondly, “it has been far too long. My thanks for the lift. And Veridian,” he added to the fox-form familiar, "it is good to see you alive and well."

    “Breaker,” the faun replied, inclining her head slightly, “you have been with Am’aleh? You would have been welcome aboard my ship.”

    “There are certain… pleasantries… to traveling with a Thayne.” Josh grinned.

    “Even so,” the matriarch said, an eyebrow arched in amusement. “You should be careful, swimming in the sea. There are monsters about.”

    “If what we see here is any indication,” Breaker said, his tone suddenly grim, “then your ship is no safer than me on my own.”

    A moment of silence passed between them as they stared at the startlingly scarce wreckage.

    “There is no safe port, I suspect what we see are the remains of the docks.” Philomel observed, turning her horned head. “Maverik, lay anchor.” She called to her captain. “Breaker and I will go ashore with a small party in the longboat. You have command ‘till I return.”

    The captain aye-ayed and passed her words along, the crew working like a well lubricated Alerian steam engine. The ship came about in a spray of salt water and found a safe berth. Soon Josh, Philomel, Veridian, and six of the crew sat in the longboat as thick ropes lowered it to the jetsam ridden water. The faun stood gallantly on the prow of the boat while her crew rowed, and Breaker sat in the back, staring into their wake.

    It is no coincidence that you and Shinsou have been called to answer for the disappearance of this village. Am’aleh had told him, but after that she had fallen silent. What could she mean by that? He had not seen the Brotherhood’s arbiter in months, since they defeated the Thayne Draconus along the coast of Serenti. What could link him and Shinsou to the destruction of a fishing village in Scara Brae?

    Perhaps the Telgradian will have some answers, Breaker thought as the nose of the longboat grated on the shoreline. He is always well informed by the Brotherhood’s channels. Josh, Philomel and her fox leaped effortlessly ashore, and then the crew clambered out and hauled the boat onto dry ground.

    It had been difficult to find a place to come aground; the shore was shorn away to form a sheer cliff of at least several meters in most places. It was like some great giant had taken a knife and carved away the chunk of land on which Caedron once sat. The village, and presumably all of its people, animals, and buildings, had gone with it. But where?

    The party from the Feisty Fox hiked up the grassy hill toward Shinsou’s small group. The slim man dressed in white waved a hand in greeting. There would be short enough time for pleasantries and idle words. When he spoke with Am’aleh, Josh had felt fear in her voice. He did not think it wise to wait on a force which could frighten a Thayne.
    Last edited by Breaker; 12-02-2017 at 01:58 PM.

  5. #5
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    Shinsou Vaan Osiris's Avatar

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    "Shinsou," Arius said, tapping the Telgradian on the shoulder, "They're here."

    Shinsou cast his eyes down the hill and watched the forms of his two closest friends clambering towards him, chewing up the muddy landscape that separated them. Once they reached him, he afforded them warmer greetings. To Philomel, a brief embrace, and to Joshua a firm, sincere handshake.

    "Ladies and gentlemen," Shinsou said, "Welcome to the start of what is going to be a very shitty week."

    They would not have been able to survey the carnage before, but now that the pair were with him atop Karak hill, the wreckage was laid bare for them to absorb in full. It was not a pretty view.

    "What happened here?" Asked the faun, a hint of disbelief in her tone as her pretty eyes swept across the maw below.

    "At first, we weren't sure," The Telgradian swept a hand through his ruffled brown hair, scratching his head, "But we came to the conclusion that it couldn't have been a natural event. You just have to look at the shape of the hole to see that. So, we went down to check out those serrated looking grooves in the coast."

    "What did you find?" Asked Cronen pensively.

    "Confirmation." Shinsou answered definitively. "The rock was thick with some sort of mucus or saliva. Arius?"

    The wiry, bespectacled aide stepped forward, producing a vial of green slime from a pouch in his coat. "Before I worked for Shinsou, I was a marine biologist operating out of Etheria. Whales used to swim close to shore and sometimes they could become stranded and would wash up on shore. Their saliva used to pool in their mouths as they died and we used to take samples to figure out what could have caused them to become distressed. This is very similar to their own saliva, and it is on every single one of those indents."

    "So, what you are saying is-" Philomel interjected before tailing off.

    "Yeah. Something swallowed the town." Shinsou replied, darkly. "It gets worse, too."

    "We picked up a man by the rocks. He was already terminal by the time we reached him, looked like he had been bifurcated by whatever it was that did this. When he described the creature, which, by the way, was harrowing, he mentioned that it had runes on its skin that seemed to be luminous and Thayne-like. In fact," The Telgradian turned and looked directly at Cronen, "They were almost a carbon copy of the ones on Draconus."

    When the description of the mythically sized creature had reached Shinsou's ears, a feeling sat in his stomach like a cold lump of lead. This could well have been a revenge attack by the Thaynes. He had been one of the instigators of this fight, playing a key role in defeating the mighty Thayne Droconus with Joshua Cronen. He still had plenty of singed flesh left to show for it; a patch on his chest where a burn from that terrible napalm-like breath had only begun to heal. The memory of that terrible thing wouldn’t soon escape him, either. The cavernous mouth filled with razor sharp teeth, the torrential breath of fire, and the size of the abomination was impressed upon his brain.

    Periodically since then, he noticed changes in the sources of power of the world. Being able to feel the presence of powerful magic, Shinsou could sense most swelling energies around and there had been movements across the globe that could not be reasonably explained. Breaker, with his godlike perception, must surely have noticed it too. Yet neither of the two had been alerted to this and neither had seen anything like this coming.

    "As the one who seems to be publicly credited for that Draconus shit," He shot a sideways glance at Cronen, the man who had left the Telgradian to soak up the "glory" at Serenti, "I've agreed with the Queen of Scara Brae to handle this," Shinsou sighed, "None of you have any obligation to be here at all, and I won't blame any of you if you decide to do literally anything else, but I for one feel this one is partly on me. Joshua probably feels the same. Philomel, it's up to you, but I reckon you wouldn't let me go this alone even if I wanted to, huh?"

    Shinsou did not want to employ a brutal guilt trip on genuine, no-shit heroes like Cronen and Philomel who simply wanted to do the right thing, but the people of Scara Brae were not going to be able to fix this on their own and the Telgradian knew that Cronen would likely feel terrible too. So he stood there, and hoped, and waited for their answers.
    Last edited by Shinsou Vaan Osiris; 12-02-2017 at 05:41 PM.
    "By the time they figure out what went wrong, we'll be sitting on a beach...earning 20%"

  6. #6
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    Philomel's Avatar

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    Mighty, powerful, majestic, robust. He rose like the very beast who had swallowed Caedron whole from the ground and shook his body of dirt and grass. Huffing he breathed out several large puffs of brown, murky air and stretched his elegant but bulky thirty foot long body as Philomel started up the rise to him. A wide smile on her face told of her pleasure, and her relaxed stance spoke of the way she was purely comfortable in his presence. There she was, a mighty faun with a tight violet plait, two heavy swords strapped to her back and a red dragonscale and mythril chainmail bodice. There he was, a wingless dragon resplendent in greens and browns, the colours of the earth, his skin more like turtle shell than glittering scales. As she came near he tilted his head, fixed a solid green eye on her and harrumphed.

    "Mother ..."

    She strode to him, taking up his muzzle into her arms. Gently, she ran a hand up and down his nose, grinning like a fool as she turned to her comrades, the two warriors she would have chosen any day to be with her.

    "Shinsou, you have met of course ... Joshua, I think when we rescued the Lyre, my friend, Delath was not as important to me as he is now. This is Delath ... my steed for more intents and purposes."

    The dragon let out a soft growl and nosed her with a little irritation. Brightly, she laughed and nodded to his back, where a long saddle was, big enough for two of them, three at a tight squeeze. "If we want to get to Scara Brae by nightfall, I suggest we go by dragonback from here. Delath is as fast as any horse might go, and will keep danger from our way."

    "Dragonback?" Joshua said, his brows rising.

    "Dragon," Delath said proudly, and Philomel laughed. She watched as a lithe form sprinted between them all, then bounded his way up Delath's leg with practised movements. He got to the saddle, then paused and looked down at them all, his bright golden eyes curiously glimmering. "Fox good rider," the dragon hummed.

    Still chuckling, the faun ascended into the seat. She beamed at her companions, holding out hands for them. It took time for some persuasion, but Shinsou seemed to adapt to it sooner than she intially hoped. Arius and the others ... had to cope with horses.

    In a few moments they were bounding across the wilds of Scara Brae, the ruined town behind them. The sun was heavy in the sky, and warning a sinking, but they had spirit on their side and a task worth racing for. Delath carried his load with pride and care, leaping as far as his four great legs would carry him, at times literally wrenching trees out of the way with his nearly indestructable jaws. Grass became mush, and rain even seeemed to be no match for the two humans, the faun and the fox silently cantering over the plains. It was if they chased it, if it was merely an amusement to them.

    The horses beside him was a distraction, and them shied a couple of times as he barked at them with amusement.

    Delath grinned as he ran, and roared as the first spires of the city came into view. Red brick, grey brick, walls that were low and gentle, but still stern enough to be called protection against enemies. Onwards he paced, and even as a bell rang out from a lone guard tower, the dragon continued. Enemies - he could quell enemies, as easily as they were blades of grass or little mice between his teeth.

    A trumpet sounded, warning and low, and Philomel peered over the top of Delath's head to see the beginnings of a small parade coming out of the city gate nearest to them. Pretty white stallions, and a banner flying the official colours of the Scara Brae royal guard. She winced, softly lowering her head to hiss in Delath's ear.

    "Slow down, darling, we should ... meet them kindly."

    And though he did not like the idea, Delath did, carefully slowing his furious running until he was just walking with his load, and eyes glaring at the horses coming at them. Beside them their own people pulled the spare horses to a walk, and on the field of green under fading light, the two parties met.
    Last edited by Philomel; 12-03-2017 at 10:34 AM.
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  7. #7
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    Breaker's Avatar

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    Breaker could have kept pace with the rampaging Delath, but he would never refuse a ride on dragonback. Though not so enthralling as soaring over the sands of Fallien on a griffin, the earth dragon made for a mighty steed. Josh pondered Shinsou’s findings and Am’aleh’s words as they rode, and then dismounted alongside the others.

    “Welcome to Scara Brae,” an older man with barely any pepper left in his salty hair said. He wore expensive sifan clothing and a badge of office, and the knights of the royal guard seemed there to protect him more than anything else. “I am a special advisor to the queen herself. We welcome aid from the Brotherhood of Castigars in this time of tragedy. Please come in, but I fear your ah… steed must remain outside the walls.”

    “Delath will be fine,” Philomel smiled, “stay nearby, darling,” she whispered to the dragon, and he dove back into the earth.

    “My name is Petyr,” the well dressed man said as he led the trio and their compatriots through the vaulted gates. A crowd of smallfolk had gathered nearby to watch the coming heroes, or perhaps to witness the harbingers of their doom. “You may come straight to the palace, if your retainers would like to see to the horses,” Petyr continued. “I have had our librarians pull archives on everything related to vanishing villages and ships we could find. Natural disasters, trickster deities, sea monsters…”

    “They’re likely looking in the wrong place,” Shinsou said ponderously, “tell them to check for monsters, but those specifically linked to the Thayne Draconus.”

    Petyr exchanged a few words with one of the guards, and the man sprinted ahead to notify the librarians, his armor and weapons rattling.

    “What did you discover at the disaster site?” He asked.

    “I’ll explain once we’re inside,” Shinsou said. Petyr nodded and increased his pace. They marched through the streets, up the carved stone steps, and into the lantern-lit corridors of the great palace. The queen’s advisor led them down to the first sub-basement, to a room filled with tables and chairs, all of which were covered in books, tomes, scrolls and loose bits of parchment. It looked like someone had carried half of a small library into the room and distributed the contents equally around.

    “My apologies for the mess,” Petyr said, “please, clear off chairs and sit down.” He followed his own advice, while the six knights who had followed them into the room took up stations at all angles.

    “The guards really aren’t necessary,” Breaker commented, “you couldn’t be safer than when you’re with us.”

    “You’ll have to forgive me again,” Petyr said, “but according to our information from the Citadel, Mister Vaan Osiris is capable of wielding three swords at once, Madame Van der Art can transform into an unseemly monster, and you might as well be an Alerian powder keg.” The old man steepled his fingers. “The queen places a great value on my life, and feels more comfortable that I remain under guard while meeting with you.”

    “Whatever makes you all comfortable, then.” Shinsou said.

    At that moment Arius arrived, flanked by two more of the knights. He reported to Shinsou, detailing that the horses and men had been stowed in appropriate accommodations, and that the Feisty Fox had been seen sailing into harbor. Shinsou thanked the man, but as was often the case, had another assignment for him.

    “We’ll be here for hours getting papercuts, from the looks of it.” The Telgradian commented. “Meanwhile, I want your boots on Coronian ground. Go to the cavern by Serenti where Breaker discovered Draconus and see if you find anything of import.”

    Arius gave a casual salute and then opened a portal from thin air and stepped through. The two knights guarding him looked at each other in alarm as the hole snapped shut behind their charge.

    “Oh, nevermind about him.” Petyr snapped at them. “Return to your duties.”

    “The rest of us had better get down to it,” Breaker said, taking a seat and blowing dust off the closest leather-bound volume. He peered at the words on the cover. “How many of you can read ancient Dheathic?” Silence greeted the question. “Right, I guess this one is mine then.” Chairs scraped and pages rustled as the three warriors and the queen’s advisor began the gargantuan task of finding a needle of information in a haystack of pages.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator

    EXP: 80,010, Level: 12
    Level completed: 24%, EXP required for next Level: 9,990
    Level completed: 24%,
    EXP required for next Level: 9,990


    Shinsou Vaan Osiris's Avatar

    GP
    176
    AP
    3
    Name
    Shinsou Vaan Osiris
    Age
    31
    Race
    Telgradian
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Salvar

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    The History of Terrinore.

    The Laws of Wizardry.

    The Forgotten Continents: A Guide to outer Althanas.

    A Ranger's Tale.

    Just beyond the heavy, mahogany doors stood 'them'. Thousands upon thousands stacked in neat rows, all orderly arranged and alined back-to-back where their insides could not be judged by their covers. Each set in groups surrounded on five sides with wood as deep and dark as blood and each one a mantra of the previous. Their titles all curled and looped in one direction and turned to the side so that one had to tilt their head in order to read them. Each book held its own world of wonders and answers to short and lifelong questions about humanity that had lasted for hundreds of years before the library had even been assembled.

    One of them, surely, would contain something to quench the triumvate's thirst for knowledge on this new threat.

    Shinsou, with a veritable fortress of used books on the table behind him, ran a finger over the spine of each book. They smelled the same way the Brotherhood ones did back in Whitevale, old, dry and real. They were physical, even if some of the stories inside of them weren't true. Some, of course, were. As he progressed slowly over the mischief of seemingly randomly placed books, a part of the library at the back made itself known to him. When his gold eyes adjusted to the dark, musty room, the Telgradian was surprised at what he did see. He saw huge stacks of books, leaning against shelves and stretching even higher towards the ceiling. The leather spines lined up perfectly, a whole room filled with valuable first editions. Shinsou hadn't expected all the dust. It looked like the whole library hadn't been touched for a decade, maybe more.

    As he examined the pillars of paper, one title above all else caught the Brotherhood leader's eye. The runes on its spine almost exactly matched that of those on Draconus, and again from the man who described the great beast who swallowed Caedron whole.

    The Genesis of the Thayne

    Sitting back down at the table without saying a world, the Telgradian took the cover between thumb and forefinger and begin to read. After a few pages, the book had a vice-like grip on his mind. It told the story of Draconus and the Thayne before it. It told how the deity liked to summon lesser deities to do its bidding, so that it would never have to leave its mountain abode and could feed on the souls that the lesser deities sent to the underworld. Then, as he turned a number of pages in quick succession, Shinsou finally found what he was looking for. Reading the paragraph below the sketch of the gargantuan sea creature was much like being slapped with a brick; shocking, attention grabbing, but not entirely pleasant.

    The sketch above resembles Safikma, lesser diety of Draconus. It is said that the great dragon first kept this colossal beast for personal amusement before training Safikma to feed upon the living. Eventually, Safikma was re-purposed and was told to consume and grow until, in the event of Draconus's death, it attained the size required to devour the world.

    Shinsou poured himself into the pages. He scoured the book, skim reading it for further information. He read until he was almost cross-eyed and the words merged into nonsense and then, convinced there was no more to learn, picked the book up by its spine and walked the short few steps to where Joshua Cronen, Philomel and Petr were furiously searching. Carefully, as the others watched him, Shinsou placed the book on the table, opened at the page where he had discovered the name.

    "Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Safikma - eater of worlds."
    Last edited by Shinsou Vaan Osiris; 12-06-2017 at 03:09 AM.
    "By the time they figure out what went wrong, we'll be sitting on a beach...earning 20%"

  9. #9
    Super Moderator

    EXP: 81,770, Level: 12
    Level completed: 37%, EXP required for next Level: 8,230
    Level completed: 37%,
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    Philomel's Avatar

    GP
    8,285
    AP
    69
    Name
    Philomel van der Aart (+ Veridian)
    Age
    30 (+10)
    Race
    Faun (+ Fox/Earth Spirit)
    Gender
    Female (+ Male)
    Location
    Corone

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    Curled, extensive body. Wide, toothed and treacherous jaws. Large, staring and wild eyes. Long, elegant fins and a swirling whirlpool of a tail. This was Safikma, the daughter of a Thayne.

    Philomel slowly breathed in, her eyes dancing with dazzling, enchanted wonder at the darling creature illustrated before her. Softly she trailed a finger down the curve of the monster's neck, softly whispering to herself.

    "Darling," she murmured. "How beautiful you are. Why do you do what you do?"

    There was an awkward pause as Shinsou and Joshua looked to one another, a look shared between them. On the edge of the table Veridian sat, golden eyes gleaming as he glanced from the book, and Philomel's tenderness towards it, to the men, then back at the book. He saw the motherly instinct rise in the woman who was half beast herself, and knew he needed to distract her before she decided instead to try to save Safikma from being hunted.

    Philomel ...

    "We ... May be responsible for this."

    Suddenly the faun's eyes were not on the book. They glanced up, brow furrowing as her thoughts of a potential other dragon-like creature to hold and embrace flew away on a wind of other lost dreams. Tilting her head slightly and letting her ears lift, little furry-ended tufts that poked through her hair, she focused on the speaker. Shinsou.

    "What ... What did you say?"

    He looked uncertain. Veridian also peered at him with a golden beholder, and it suddenly struck him that they were not showing concern about Philomel's motherly desires before also, but instead their own matters ...

    "Shinsou, what did you say?"

    The telgradian smiled slightly, "We ..." He glanced back to Joshua, who waved a hand as if to say 'just say it,' and so Shinsou did. "We ... Killed Draconus," he revealed. "And Safikma was born with the purpose to grow until such a time that he was dead and ..."

    Philomel's eyes glanced down to the page, where the writing under the picture wrote, "Safikma was re-purposed and was told to consume and grow until, in the event of Draconus's death, it attained the size required to devour the world."

    "Eat ... The world?"

    "Indeed," he sighed. "I fear we released this monster."

    Philomel looked from one man to the other. She took time and her hand slowly slid from the book. Her ears drooped, her eyes narrowed slightly and she eyed them both carefully before replying.

    "Well clearly you didn't know, otherwise we wouldn't be here. It is not your fault, but the responsibility now lies with you. With us all. " She paused and instantly hated herself for the next sentence. But it had to be said. She loved Safikma already and she wanted
    to have a chance at least to talk and reason with her ... But the monster would need to be slowed first. Made to listen.

    "Fine. How did you get rid of Draconus? It may help us to slow the daughter at least."
    Matriarch of the Gilded Lily and of its brothels, associated establishments and the army.

  10. #10
    Thayneslayer

    EXP: 183,619, Level: 18
    Level completed: 72%, EXP required for next Level: 5,381
    Level completed: 72%,
    EXP required for next Level: 5,381


    Breaker's Avatar

    GP
    11,785
    AP
    184
    Name
    Joshua Breaker Cronen
    Age
    29
    Race
    Demigod
    Gender
    Male
    Location
    Corone
    “Thayne-slaying is a fine art,” Shinsou said with an air of drama in his voice. “And yet simple. It requires only three things; a sharp blade, my widowmaker ability, and Joshua Cronen.”

    Breaker stood up as all eyes fell on him. As he rose he plucked an obsidian dagger from its hidden sheathe in his boot. The knights guarding them became suddenly alert, but Breaker merely spun the weapon around his hand, gazing at its razor edge.

    “I took this from the Alerian assassin Kron Sha’keth,” he said pensively. “It is forged from black diamond, said by some to be sharper than admantine itself. If we can somehow find Safikma in the vast ocean, my boots will sink me to its depth, and this blade will pierce its hide.”

    “And that will slow her down?” Philomel interjected.

    “That will weaken it,” Breaker said, “enough for it to be killed. I’ve seen that look in your eye before Phi. This isn’t some earth dragon you can throw a saddle on.” The demigod’s swift gaze had easily devoured the text the others had only had time to skim. “Safikma was created with one purpose only; to consume all in its path.”

    “But wouldn’t it be easier, and better for all if we could reason with her? She seems such a sweetling, and so misguided…”

    “Would you try to reason with a tidal wave, or a hurricane?”

    “None of this will matter unless we can find the beast,” Shinsou pointed out, interrupting the argument before it could evolve. “And I can think of no way of doing this. Can you?”

    Silence invaded the room as Breaker and Philomel shook their heads.

    “A scryer!” Petyr said suddenly. Three sets of eyes snapped around to look at the royal advisor. The Brotherhood representatives had practically forgotten the old man’s presence. “That’s all you need,” he continued excitedly, rising and pacing back and forth. “Some months ago we started a program to find and train the most talented scryers in Scara Brae. We have used them mostly for finding water sources and precious metals, but I see no reason why not…”

    “We could use one to find Safikma!” Shinsou cut in. The Telgradian rubbed his hands together, a plan forming behind his tired eyes. “Yes, this could work. Send for your best scryer and have them meet us aboard the Feisty Fox.”

    “I do beg your pardon,” Petyr said, bowing his head slightly, “but would it not be wisest to wait for morning? The dawn will break in only a few hours’ time, and there are dangerous reefs beyond the protection of the harbor. Besides, our scryers will be abed, and soundly asleep. Could I not have some rooms prepared for you? You will have every comfort, and the finest food and wine, of course.”

    Shinsou bounced on the balls of his feet a moment, but then relaxed and nodded.

    “A few hours of sleep might make a world of difference,” the arbiter said. “Why don’t you have the guards show us to these rooms? You’re looking a little long in the tooth yourself, Petyr.”

    “I will be most comfortable aboard my ship,” Philomel said as they exited the chamber, Josh carrying The Genesis of the Thayne. He did not require sleep in the same way as the others, and planned to spend the hours before dawn doing some further reading.

    The guards divided themselves beneath Petyr’s command and some escorted Philomel out to the harbor, while the rest led Shinsou and Breaker up several flights of stairs. Petyr stepped away as they reached the palace’s third floor, making excuses and promising to have the city’s best scryer prepared by first light. The knights delivered the two guests to a common room of sorts, with four large doors extending off of it leading towards sleeping quarters. The table was piled high with food as well as place settings and jugs of wine.

    Breaker sat down and cleared one of the place settings aside, setting the book in front of him instead.

    “One of these days,” Shinsou groaned as he sat and took a cup of wine, “you’re going to have to teach me this not-needing-to-sleep-or-eat trick.”

    “I’m certain Am’aleh would invite you down that path,” Breaker said lightly, “if only you’d take take the time.”

    “Time is something we’re often pressed for,” the Telgradian replied, downing his drink and stifling a yawn. “I’m going to try to grab a couple hours of shuteye.” He scraped back his chair and stood.

    “I will remain here, and learn what there is to be learned.”

    “Figured you’d say something like that,” Shinsou muttered as he shuffled toward one of the bedrooms. He paused. “I didn’t want to be overly dramatic in front of the others,” he said, “but this is a true cataclysm. A world-ender. And it’s on us to fix it.”

    Breaker paused in his reading and looked over his shoulder, meeting Shinsou’s red-rimmed eyes.

    “I know.”

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