Private Tales Deathly Desert Dunes

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Zara

Abtati nomad, rogue, & mystic
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Deep within the eastern reaches of the Amol-Kalit desert:

It was a simple enough existence, and despite it’s innate and immeasurable hardships compared to so many lives scattered across the known and settled world, Zara was genuinely happy with her lot in life. Looking out across the dunes of the great sandy sea she called home, the sand elf sighed heavily. Her herd of camels dotted the hills as they shifted gently beneath the ever present wind. She was content. Constantly scanning the hills and horizons for danger, Zara’s danger-sense was naturally alert, but there was nothing there that seemed out of the ordinary.

Padding down one drifted hillock to the next, Zara barely left a print in the constantly shifting sands. She followed the herd as it sought bits of greenery beneath the course ground.

Zara’s white robes reflected the glaring heat from the cloudless skies away from her lithe form swaddled within her heavy robes. Her red rope belt the only coloration to offset the shades of brown and white and blue that made up her world. The girl carried a couple of knives within her robes, but she was not a warrioress. She was simpler; her existence more peaceful. The worn staff in her hand was all she needed.

Breathing in the warm air through her face and head covering, Zara took note as her herd seemed to be making their way up over a hill a short wats ahead. She quickly followed after, her sure footfalls carrying her across the shifting sands with ease. Before she crested the hill, the sand elf could smell it, taste it on the hot air, water. ‘Could it be?’ Her footsteps hurried as she crested the hill. There nestled in the rolling dunes of sand sat an exposed oasis. Only days before it had been lost amongst the shifting sands, her few twisted green trees and scrub bushes open to the sun as they relished the life-giving combination of light and water.

Hurrying after the herd as it plunged towards the rippling call of the blue waters, Zara smiled. She could practically feel the cool waters against her skin before she even got to the bottom of the hill.

Having taken count of her camels, Zara was pleased that they were all accounted for. Unwrapping her leggings, Zara pulled off her worn leather shoes and set them beside her on the rock that baked under the sun. Dangling her feet over the edge, Zara hefted her robes up so they didn’t get soaked and ran her feet across the surface of the water. She giggled as the cool waters passed between her toes.

“I’m glad you guys wandered this way. Bests my wanting to go North today.” Zara spoke aloud to the herd of camels as if they were old friends.
 
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Selina Altas

Universalist Wizard
Elbion College
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192
Character Biography
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The benefit of being a magic user was the sheer utility of magic. By simply knowing the right formula an experienced wizard could go anywhere in the world and thrive exactly the way they wanted to. Traveling the wintery Spine Mountains? A simple cantrip to keep your body warm in the midst of the blizzard!
Slogging through swamplands? Simply walk atop the watery ground as if you weighed nothing!
Trudging through the sand dunes under a blistering desert sun? Suffer in silence because you forgot to study ice magic the last time you were in Elbion!

At least she could summon water easily enough without draining too much of her physical endurance, but at that point Selina was simply sustaining herself with magic itself, a substance her body wasn't designed to contain for a meaningful amount of time.
Most magic users had some sort of magical affinity, they could interact with magic around them directly r summon the magical energy from within their own supernatural bloodline. But for a wizard like Selina she might as well try to grab a ghost, the immaterial was physically out of reach for the un-altered human... Or so one might be led to believe.
Anyone could use and activate an enchanted item, provided it was simple enough to use, and Selina simply achieved the ability to cast spells by utilizing both common and rare enchanted items.
While Selina couldn't touch magic directly, she could touch her staff, and her staff could touch magic for her. She did well in nearly all of her classes once she was able to overcome her physical limitations, in fact she even has the potential to start teaching others in the Elbion College itself!

But for now she was instead barely staving off heat stroke with her magical water as she trudged through the sand dunes of the Amol Kalit desert. She was dressed in her dark traveling clothes and wrapped her cloak around her face to guard against the whipping sand. Good help is so hard to find these days, and it doesn't help when the "good help" she thought she found in a traveling band of adventurers where more interested in taking her horse and leaving in the middle of the night without a word, leaving her with nothing but what she wore and carried and a waterskin.

She left heavy footprints in the sand after taking up a spiritless stride. She knew she wasn't lost, she was able to scry which way to go, but after climbing dune after dune she could feel a crushing weight on her mind, despair... That was until she crested a final dune and looked down to see an oasis sitting at the bottom of the valley, and surrounded by camels no less!
Hope put a bit of a spring in her step as she staggered down the shifting dune to the waters edge.
Using her staff to help her she shouldered her way past the camels and went down at the edge of the water, sucking in the sweet and cool fluid that rivaled her recycled magic any day!

She drank deeply and came up gasping, the tips of her dark hair wet and clinging since she didn't hold it.
She washed her face vigorously and when she looked up she finally noticed the Abtati wading in the pool in front of her.
A passing thought of embarrassment intruded on her mind that she just drank water where another persons feet just were, but as stated it passed and she simply smiled and waved.
"Well met, friend! Mind if I join you?"
 
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Zara

Abtati nomad, rogue, & mystic
Member
Messages
40
Character Biography
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The braying and balking of the camels should have alerted the life-long herder of the trespasser amongst their midst. They did not. Zara was too lost in her own daydreams; her toes playing across the water, her eyes lost in the radiating ripples. She had heard bits and pieces of the adventures had by ocean going travelers, of monsters and mystical beings, of underwater cities and distant lands where the skies and snow meshed as one. The elf’s mind painted pictures of strange people, massive ships, and distant shores in the ever changing ripples of the oasis.

Then suddenly the sand elf’s daydreams were broken by a stranger’s voice. Jarred by the unforeseen interruption, Zara’s head jerked upwards as her eyes locked onto the source of the voice. It was a stranger. The woman’s body tensed at the sight of the robe-clad visitor, her hair dripping from the warm waters that connected them.

Beneath her mask, Zara smiled hesitantly. Whoever this was, was clearly not from here, clearly not a native of the shifting sands of Amol-Kalit. Glancing about the oasis and beyond, Zara scanned for any others; for where there was one, there were often more. Only a madman or a fool wandered the sands alone. Without a guide, a mount, or a travelling companion, one was either welcoming death or challenging it. “Hello stranger. The oasis is open to all.” She responded warmly, slowly withdrawing her feet from the water and tucking them beneath her heavy white robes; crouched and ready to leap to action or take cover behind the rock at a moment’s notice. “Where do you hail from? What brings you . . . and your people? to these shifting sands?”

Zara regarded the woman suspiciously. Her mind raced with curiosity. If this woman was not alone, where were the others? If she was alone, why? Why was she here? What was she doing? Was she lost or injured? crazed or deranged? She had so many questions, but she held her tongue; her eyes silently and intently staring her suspicion and wonder. Zara was not sure where exactly to start. She wanted to ask the woman about her people, her home, her story. She was still suspicious though.

Zara hoped, at the least, the woman across the waters from her, and/or her people, respected the sacred neutrality of the waters.
 
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Selina Altas

Universalist Wizard
Elbion College
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192
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When she was welcomed she once more drank eagerly from the oasis and then began filling her waterskin.
Although, while Selina's intelligence and powers of memorization were great, her skills of observation were a bit lacking at the moment and she didn't perceive the Abtati's suspicion.
In response to her questions Selina took another drink before pulling off her high boots.
"I traveled from Elbion on a bit of a personal expedition. I'm a wizard studying magical nexuses and I located one in this part of the desert... As for my people? Well, a band of thieves is easier to find than good help, if you catch my meaning."

She dumped a load of sand out of her boots and rolled up her pant legs to dip her own feet in the water. Warm, but cooler than the air and certainly refreshing.
She massaged her feet, she wasn't built for such physical excursions. Even her time in the Reach with the witches coven didn't prepare her for walking throughout the day.

She looked to the Abtati and briefly examined her.
"What about you? I can see you're a merchant, but who's to sell to way out here?"
 

Zara

Abtati nomad, rogue, & mystic
Member
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Character Biography
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The sand elf stayed stooped on the rock as she listened to the stranger speak. ‘A band of thieves?’ she heard the words and tensed, her eyes darting from the woman as she slipped off her boots and waded into the water to the camels that lazed in the shade, rehydrating and munching messily on the exposed greenery. If she had been happened upon by a band of thieves in the dunes, she would have easily mounted up and with a cry spurned her herd to safety. As it were, they were more in the possession of the stranger than she for the moment.

For the moment, Zara had to play along until she could understand further what this woman, a magician, was about. Zara knew something of magic, but what she knew surely paled in the light of what this wizard, if that is truly what she was, knew. And yet, even if she was a thief come to distract her, Zara was curious. She could subconciously feel her own runic tattoos pulse with magic beneath her robes. Still, she did not understand them; she only knew how they worked on some level. No, what she knew was surely simple compared to what the woman claimed to be. “A wizard.” she whispered to herself in shock and hope, a hint of fear playing at her ears.

Zara watched the stranger as she seemed to try and relax. It was strange if she was a thief; but if she was a wizard, perhaps it was not. Or perhaps she was only following what she had seen Zara do. The nomad had set a bad example to expose her skin to the wilds. Disaster could strike at a moment’s notice and exposed flesh could be flayed away in a minute by the vicious sands. If so, Zara might have unknowingly condemned an ignorant wanderer to death amongst the dunes. Beneath her mask, Zara winced at the thought.

Her mind turned over each thought in her head repeatedly. She pondered each and one faded into another until she could not tell where one began and another ended. Zara was frightened, but she was also curious. On too of it all, taught to her since birth, Zara knew she was a survivor. She would survive this too. If she were lucky, maybe learn something about magic too!

As the stranger queried her further, Zara slowly allowed herself to sit down on the rock, her legs still pulled close to her with her knees tucked beneath her chin, her body still obscured by her heavy robe. “My name is Zara of the Beddoon clan. These are our camels, we rely on them for life. We only sell our excess in times of need,” she was sure to not mention whose need that might be. “There is nobody to sell to out here, only strong Abtati, dishonorable thieves and those mad enough to wander alone.” As she spoke, Zara slowly lowered her feet into the waters of the oasis, hoping to set the stranger, or was it herself, at ease. “What magical power do you sense out here? Eiero Yrim-qafh is many days ride from here at best. Here there is nothing but sand and camels. Well, and this oasis,” she giggled slightly standing up in the water, hiking her robes above her knees to keep them dry, “but they are gone as quickly as they come.”
 
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Selina Altas

Universalist Wizard
Elbion College
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192
Character Biography
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Selina laughed aloud at Zara's words.
"Well met, miss Zara. I am Selina Atlas. You must surely think that I am the mad one for being alone in the desert. And who knows? The sun hasn't been kind to me ever since I woke up with my guides and supplies gone."
She splashed some water up on her legs, washing away some of the clinging sand. Her pale white skin was a sharp contrast to the Abtati's bronzed complexion, but if anything this served to truly mark her as a foreigner.
"As far as the magical power, these nexuses usually form a grove or grotto where everything is touched by magic and can often be connected to a ruin or sacred location. If it's location is not visible on the surface then it's likely buried under the sand. I'm using a clairvoyance spell to guide me to the location and it's very nearby."
 
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Zara

Abtati nomad, rogue, & mystic
Member
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40
Character Biography
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Zara nodded at the explanation. It made sense at least on the surface and more than one made magician had been found wandering the dunes seeking some ancient totem or long lost civilization. Most of them were harmless and quickly tired, making their way back to the cities and civilized life. Still, if what Salina said was true, she was in trouble, if not mad yet; she would certainly be soon.

“Waters themselves contain a sort of magic in these lands. I am not sure what else could be around here but the shifting sands. This oasis did not exist a month ago when we passed this way.”

Zara squeezed her toes in the wet muck that coated the bottom of the oasis. It felt cool and slimy and she could not help but smile as she watched the stranger across the way. The camels were giving her a wide berth as they circled towards the water and drank deeply and sloppily, long tendrils of spit dangling from their lips to the water as they smacked their lips and scanned for dangers.

A chuckle escaped her lips as Zara swiped for her drinking skin and unstoppered it. “Better fill up before they slime the whole oasis oh mad wandering wizard.” She plunged the skin into the water to refill it, hoping that Selina caught her teasing tone and was not too addled by the sun yet. “Then maybe a rest beneath the fronds and we can see about finding your magical grove or grotto. And if we cannot,” which Zara thought infinitely more likely, “you are welcome back in our tents until we get closer to Maraan or Annuakat where you can find means to get back to your ancient college.”

Reaching into the folds of her robe, Zara withdrew a piece of lightly colored heavy cloth. Holding her own robes up out of the water, Zara waded towards Selina and offered it to her. “For your head, to keep the sun off.”
 
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Selina Altas

Universalist Wizard
Elbion College
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192
Character Biography
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Selina accepted the cloth gratefully with a smile, "Many thanks, friend. I must admit that I came woefully unprepared for this expedition, I've been going into these nexuses for a while now and I'm no stranger to danger, I'm afraid I failed to comprehend the true danger of the desert. But I suspect that I could find a no better guide than one of the Abtati."
She made sure her water skin was topped off and waded beside the Abtati, they were roughly the same height which Selina found slightly amusing, having imagined and seen Abtati much taller than herself.

Selina giggled at the slight note of skepticism in the elf's voice that they would find one.
"I assure you they exist, I've explored several already and many are commonly used by magical colleges as a resource to produce commonly used magical items, such as wands or staffs, even using the paper found in the trees for the high quality materials used in crafting scrolls."
She tapped her staff in her hand.
"I made this staff at a nexus of five lay lines. I use it to cast most of my spells."

She withdrew a rolled sheet of paper from her map case and unfurled it. The paper bore intricate etchings around the edges which included several enchanting runes of divination, a clairvoyant spell combined with a scrying spell.
Using her staff she powered the runes and lines started appearing on the blank space in the middle of the sheet.
An outline of the oasis appeared with a few scratchings indicating the surrounding dunes in a two mile radius. A blue mark indicated their location in the middle of the oasis and a thin greentrail led into the desert to the south.
Selina pointed these out.
"We're here, and the trail leads to the South. When it's green like this it means we're close to our destination and the nexus is somewhere in this area. There's nothing nearby, but as you pointed out the sands shift regularly so whatever form the nexus takes is likely buried deep under the sand."
 
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Zara

Abtati nomad, rogue, & mystic
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Character Biography
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Zara smiled at the complement. “It is our way,” she offered in explanation, watching carefully as the wizard topped off her drinking skin.

Her attention was grabbed; however, as the woman unfurled a parchment littered with runes. The Abtati’s curiousity getting the better of her in an instant as she craned her neck to see. She leaned in to take in the writings, understanding very little of it. That did not stop her from trying though as the writings had a familiarity about them. Still, she stepped back, the water splashing about her knees as the scroll seemed to spring to life. Giddy with excitement, Zara blurted, “It is like a pirate’s buried treasure map only, only enchanted!”

Listening to the wizard’s words and watching the map, Zara nodded, sure that there were nothing but dunes for days in that direction. Still, the woman was already offering some surprises, unless . . . Zara looked up from the map as the sudden braying of camels drew her back to the reality about them; unless this was some sort of fancy sleight-of-hand to catch her unawares. Zara knew that if that was the case, her tribe would be able to handle whatever thievery came their way. The potential was too much for her though.

Bringing her foot free from the water, Zara displayed the intricate runic tattoo that ran across the tops of her feet up her calves and shins in a twisting natural pattern of jade. The symbols expertly crafted into the design spoke of weightlessness, stealth, vanishing and resistance to the kiss of the flame. “I have some runes too.” she exclaimed

Atop the oasis, the winds began to pick up, whistling a dull moan in the empty air above. It had drawn the camels’ attention as they shifted nervously, braying calls of warning to one another as they sought some semblance of shelter within the ferns and fronds of the oasis. Of course, all of this was lost on Zara, who for the moment was much too excited to be talking with another woman and sharing something in common from their otherwise divergent lives.
 
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Selina Altas

Universalist Wizard
Elbion College
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The Abtati's wonderment at the enchanted map made Selina smile and flattered her in no small way, she was rather proud of her accomplishment, even as familiar as she was with magic Selina still found herself in awe of things that were magical or unknown.

She was intrigued to discover that Zara possessed some enchanted runic tattoos on her feet, when the Abtati showed her the intricate traceries snaking up here calf Selina recognized them for the most part. Magical languages managed to stay pretty much the same across many different cultures.
"Those are impressive! I've considered receiving enchanted ink in my skin for myself, but I could never make up my mind about which runes I want to use!"

As Selina showed Zara the map the paper became increasingly more difficult to control as the wind attempted to snatch the valuable map from her grasp. Selina shielded her eyes and looked up at the dunes.
"Should this wind concern us? It seems like a storm is picking up."
 
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Zara

Abtati nomad, rogue, & mystic
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Zara smiled widely. The tattoos were a cultural thing and members of her tribe generally had similar tattoos. Truth be told, she knew what they did, bit reading them was another matter entirely. If this woman understood them, then Zara needed more time with her. She wanted to show her her other tattoos and learn.

The flapping of the map was getting worse. The camels were doing their best to find cover. The darkening sky was daunting as the wizard’s words tore the girl’s attention back to the world around them. “Oh dear,” she grumbled as she fixed her robes about her, a trace of fear in her voice.

Zara looked at Selina, her eyes reflecting her worry. “I do not suppose this nexus you are looking for might offer some magical barrier or something you could conjure up, could it? Look,” she pointed at the darkening sky above the lip of the nearest dune, “a sandstorm. It looks big. We need to find some sort of shelter or we can try to outride them?” The elf cast a sideways glance at her newfound companion.

“I do not suppose bareback camel riding is something they taught you at your magical university is it?” She asked, reveling her far reaching knowledge of the world, even if she had not been to all the places she had heard tales of. Zara scurried away from the wizard beckoning her to follow away from the water towards the twitchy and nervous camels. They had minutes max. Zara knew it. Even if they left now, she was not sure they could outrun the maelstrom. Inwardly, Zara hoped that Selina knew some sort wizardry to benefit them. It was going to be a rough one.
 
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Selina Altas

Universalist Wizard
Elbion College
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Selina gazed at the darkening sky... That was a really big storm... She wasn't familiar with the desert but just after calculating the wind she knew that running would be futile, even if she COULD ride a camel proficiently. But after only a day of practice she'd failed to learn all that much except that she got motion sick while riding them.
She followed Zara to the camels, her mind mentally listing through the spells and rituals she knew that didn't require many material components.
She blinked as the sand began to rise up and sting her face, she reached out and put a hand on the elf's shoulder, "No time! I'm going to summon a barrier! Will your camels survive the storm? I can try to protect them but no guarantees."

Her other hand went to the spell book sheathed at her side, she pulled it out and the book opened by itself flipping to the page and spell she had in mind. A bit of earth magic, mentally adjusted to accommodate sand, and taking a few notes from her visit to the city of Volta she had a short enough ritual with the material components literally all around them.
She reached out and her staff flew to her hand, the crystals and runes set into the woodwork now glowing with blue arcane light.
 
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Zara

Abtati nomad, rogue, & mystic
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A barrier?! That might just work. Zara’s foot dug a trough in the sand as she barely heard Selina’s voice above the rising gale. She slid to a stop, turning back around to face her companion.

The camels, already restless, began to motivate themselves up and out of the oasis. The wind at their backs driving them up and out of sight as they began to make their own preparations for the nearing desert storm. They had waited as long as they could for their tender, but things were getting too precarious even for them. Reverting to what they intrinsically knew from generations of desert life, the camels made their way out into the arid sands. Their bodies would sustain them.

Zara rushed back towards Selina, the wind tearing at her robes as she pushed against the sharp attack of quickly cooling air and sharp grains of sand. Grabbing the wizard’s arm Zara pulled herself close. She could feel the magic swirling about them. Even if she did not know the wizard’s magic as magic per se, Zara felt the familiar sense of the arcane. Her own runic tattoos began to glow green of their own accord as the magics drew from the area, adding their power by Zara’s own will to survive, to the maelstrom.

“They’ll be fine!” she shouted above the winds, referring to the camels. Ducking her head against the wind, she added, “Just do it before we die!”
 
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Selina Altas

Universalist Wizard
Elbion College
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“They’ll be fine!” she shouted above the winds, referring to the camels. Ducking her head against the wind, she added, “Just do it before we die!”
That's all she needed. The staff provided power, her eyes glowed blue as she began the incantation.
If it were at all possible, the wind blew around them even faster, caught up in the manipulations of her magic it created a tornado with them at the center, untouched by the sand.
Her voice seemed to echo even with the wind howling around them her voice could clearly be heard as she spoke an arcane tongue.

Just before the main force of the storm could hit them Selina spoke a final word, light from her staff struck the sand around them, and immediately the sand combined into a solid object, forming an instant dome around them that completely encased them top and bottom.
As soon as the light from her magic was finished they were left in total darkness... But now it was relatively quiet.

Selina sighed and Zara could hear the spellbook snap shut.
"I suppose now we wait out the storm... How long do they usually last?"
 
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Zara

Abtati nomad, rogue, & mystic
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Zara dug her fingers into the wizards arms as she squinted trying to keep her eyes open against the whipping sand as she watched in awe at the magics the woman wielded. They were like those she had heard stories of. Her people used simple magics and a lot of good old fashioned know how to survive such events. Even when they deployed their magics, defying the storm in it’s entirety by utilizing the same matter was new. Searing heat and fire were much more the way of her tribe; even then, they offered limited effectiveness when deployed in a group to stand against the sands.

Zara closed her eyes against the flash of light. She felt it against her eyes even beneath her eyelids. Then it was dark. The winds were gone. Suddenly it was if she, as if they, were contained within a air of stillness seemingly beyond worlds. Zara blinked several times. It was still dark. She felt Salina’s arm beneath her hand, clenched tight. Gingerly she let go. She could feel the sands still beneath her feet. All was still and silent.

Then her companion spoke.

“Whoa. Where are we?” she queried in awe before registering Selina’s own. Stooping down she felt the still warm sand in her hands. She let it run through her fingers back to the ground. Digging her fingers into the sand at the edge of the strange dome, she felt sand rush in from beyond to fill the void.

Raising an eyebrow in concern, she responded. “Not long. Maybe a half hour or so. Still, what did you do? Are we in some sort of bubble? Will we be buried alive in this tomb?”
 
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Selina Altas

Universalist Wizard
Elbion College
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Selina grimaced and rubbed her arm where her fingers dug in, but of course it was blacker than black in here and all she could detect was the voice and presence of her companion.
"I made a bubble of sand around us, we're protected top and bottom. Just a little earth magic to fuse the grains of sand together to create an instant barrier... As for what's going to happen to us? Your guess is probably better than mine. The storm is still going on outside."

Selina took a step and reached out a hand to find the wall, but her head found it first as she knocked it against the sloping dome.
"Oof! Hey, shield your eyes, I'm going to make us some light."
She pulled a palm sized round stone out of her pocket and touched it to her staff. A whisper and a quick flash from her staff and the rock was glowing with a vibrant yellow light.

She looked around at the small space they shared, barely ten feet wide and six feet tall.
"I guess we should get comfortable. I can scry the weather every now and then to see when it'll be safe to come out."
She moved to the wall and sat leaning against it.
"Don't worry about running out of air, shield and barrier spells aren't designed to suffocate the caster."
 
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Zara

Abtati nomad, rogue, & mystic
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Zara nodded, shielding her eyes against the sudden burst of light. She slowly lowered her hand, a smile playing across her face as she took in the room around them. The glowing stone was fascinating to behold. “What is that thing? Where did it come from? A wizard’s bauble of some sort?”

Plopping down in the sand, Zara gestured for Selina to join her. “I didn’t choose these ritual markings” she spoke pleasantly, recalling their earlier conversational start. She pushed back her sleeves and veil to reveal more intricately delicate jade symbols that wound about her limbs and across her bronzed skin. “They were a gift from my people; to be used for my people. Can you read them? I do not know what they say, only what I can do with them.”

“You see,”
she ran her fingers along the thin looping incantations about her lips, “this protects me from tainted foods, bad water, even poisons. This one,” she raised her left hand, swirling her fingers intricately in the air as a few drops of water materialized and fell to the sand, “helps me find water in the unlikeliest of places.”
 
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Selina Altas

Universalist Wizard
Elbion College
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“What is that thing? Where did it come from? A wizard’s bauble of some sort?”
Selina laughed aloud, "It's a rock, and it came from my satchel!" She handed it to her. It was a simple rock with a light enchantment on it.
"This is standard cantrip magic. A simple spell taught to novices for practice."

Selina scooted over to sit beside the elf to share the light and examine her tattoos.
“I didn’t choose these ritual markings” she spoke pleasantly, recalling their earlier conversational start. She pushed back her sleeves and veil to reveal more intricately delicate jade symbols that wound about her limbs and across her bronzed skin. “They were a gift from my people; to be used for my people. Can you read them? I do not know what they say, only what I can do with them.”
Selina examined the tattoos and markings as Zara pointed them out, "Hmm, definitely an Abtati magical script..."
“You see,” she ran her fingers along the thin looping incantations about her lips, “this protects me from tainted foods, bad water, even poisons. This one,” she raised her left hand, swirling her fingers intricately in the air as a few drops of water materialized and fell to the sand, “helps me find water in the unlikeliest of places.”
Selina watched in awe as Zara created water out of the air, "That's incredible, these runes are extensive, you're almost like a sorcerer! With all of these runes marking your body you might as well be a magical creature yourself!"
She grinned and shifted to her knees, "Alright, here's what I know: The runes are in a runic alphabet similar to Abtati script, but you cannot read it because it's a script unique to the magic user that gave you these runes."
She showed Zara the various etchings on her staff, "I enchanted this wood with a fairly common runic alphabet found in most northern and eastern ancient civilizations, but I've also developed my own script for several different spells."
 
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Zara

Abtati nomad, rogue, & mystic
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Zara took the glowing stone in her hand and turned it over. She was fascinated by the simple cantrip.

The girl’s face cracked into a wide smile at the comment to her tattoos. She blushed. Usually completely shrouded, save for her eyes, the girl was not used to comments regarding the magically attuned artwork that covered her skin. “Oh! I assure you, I am nothing more than an Abtati herder and trader. I could never be a sorceress. I’ve never even gotten trained in the magic like you.” Zara held the glowing stone up as she took the end of the staff Selina showed her. She squinted as she tried to make sense of the script. “I mean you write your own spells. I just try and come up with funny ways to use these,” she waggled the tattooed fingers of her free hand as she ran it over the staff. “Sometimes they work. Sometimes not so much. I’ve been taught some illusion magic, my whole tribe uses it. Most of us have some sort of beauty marks too. Mine are just, ahh, a bit more extensive than most.” Zara was happy to be chatting in the rather peaceful enclosure, but she caught herself and bit her lip. It would not due to reveal that her father led their tribe. She knew that would up her value as a hostage to anyone that knew. Beauty marks in their culture were normal. Not all of them were magical. Most of them were not as extensive either.

“When I use my spells,” she poked at the swirling whirls and loops of the runes across her feet that ran up her legs beneath her robes. Weightlessness, stealth, vanishing, fire resistance, they all wove together seamlessly. “they pull their strength from my body. Most of them seem to. Is there a way to call energy from somewhere else? These ley lines maybe? The sand?” It was not hard to try and divert her companion’s attention. Zara hoped that her genuine inquiries were enough to distract Selina from the secret she had almost spilled. She genuinely wanted to know. Maybe it would make her better. Using her runes, Zara could feel the energy siphoned from her own thin frame. Most times it was minor, but as a kid, Zara had almost killed herself a few times trying to push the limits.
 
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Selina Altas

Universalist Wizard
Elbion College
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“Oh! I assure you, I am nothing more than an Abtati herder and trader. I could never be a sorceress. I’ve never even gotten trained in the magic like you.”
Selina giggled, "It's a difference of definition. By my definition a sorcerer is someone with inherited, internal, or natural magic. Some with magical bloodlines from ancestry with a magical sire creature would have sorcerers in their family trees.
It could also be someone with special untrained talents with magic, though I would call those magic users 'mages'."


“I mean you write your own spells. I just try and come up with funny ways to use these,” she waggled the tattooed fingers of her free hand as she ran it over the staff. “Sometimes they work. Sometimes not so much. I’ve been taught some illusion magic, my whole tribe uses it. Most of us have some sort of beauty marks too. Mine are just, ahh, a bit more extensive than most.”
She mentioned birthmarks, which simply deepened her assertion that Zara was more of a sorcerer or a mage.
"If your birthmarks have special traits or grant you a natural well of magic besides being an Abtati, if you're able to cast spells without training then I would say you're either a sorcerer or a mage."

“When I use my spells,” she poked at the swirling whirls and loops of the runes across her feet that ran up her legs beneath her robes. Weightlessness, stealth, vanishing, fire resistance, they all wove together seamlessly. “they pull their strength from my body. Most of them seem to. Is there a way to call energy from somewhere else? These ley lines maybe? The sand?”
Selina was easily distracted from the details Zara was trying to hide, and it hardly mattered to her that Zara was anything but a friend at this point.
Selina nodded as she listened.
"That's a common symptom, most internal magic users carry a magical well inside of them so they don't have to rely on magic outside of themselves, and the cost of exhausting that well results in physical fatigue."

She tapped her staff with her fingers, "I am a normal human... I have nothing magical about me, not in my birth, or bloodline. The only talent I possess is the ability to learn things quickly and permanently."
She set her staff straight up and down in the middle of the floor where it stood up by itself.
"But... A normal human can still use a magical sword, a normal human can still activate a scroll or an enchantment. So, I learned how to cast a magical spell by using a tool that can provide the power source... A staff or a wand. An arcane focus."

She smiled at Zara again, "You can command the magic of the runes on your skin, the runes regain power through the flow of magic in your own essence which manifests as fatigue.
It would take a special discipline and practice for you to reach for magic outside of yourself to cast your spells. An arcane focus besides your own hands would be one way, channeling the laylines would be another."
 
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Zara

Abtati nomad, rogue, & mystic
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Zara nodded slowly. She was not sure she fully understood what Selina was talking about. Mages and sorcerers, tools, power sources, it was all so much. It was beyond the learning of a simple herdsman. Survival, husbandry, the desert, those Zara understood.

“So . . . “ Zara began, dragging the word out into a deep pause in the silence of their enclosure. She turned her associate’s words over in her mind. “There is magic inside me that lets me use these?” she pointed to the tattoos on her face. “We’re pretty simple folks. Been wandering the dunes forever. There is magic in the air here.”

Outside, the sands continued to blow. The magically crafted sphere was buffeted by the winds but stood firm, protecting the two within a muffled blanket of peace. The grains of sand began to accumulate along the edges, creating drifts as smooth as the dunes that were even now swallowing the oasis that had brought them together.

As Zara pondered the words Selina had spoken, she closed her eyes, blocking out the soft light of the glowing stone in her hand. She tried to sense this inner magical font Selina spoke about. Somewhere deep down, she knew it had to be true. Even if she did not know what it was or even how to find it, she knew. She could feel the expenditure of the runes when she used them. They drew from the energies within her body. Sometimes only slightly, other times with a great ferocity. As she concentrated, Zara tried. She really tried to find this well of magical energy, to somehow draw it to the surface. She felt like she searched everywhere within, from her toes to her ears, her deepest memories to her hopes and dreams. She didn’t feel anything. Still, as her mind swirled and she tried, her runic tattoos began to glow a bright ethereal green. So much sonthat those shrouded beneath her robes even cast a hue against the heavy cloth.

Slowly, releasing her pent up breath, Zara shook her head. The glow faded away and she opened her eyes. She looked at the glowing stone, now clenched in her fingers. Gingerly setting it down in front of Selina , she looked into the other’s eyes. “I don’t know. I don’t feel anything. Maybe its, I don’t know, something different. The dye or something. Maybe the marks have magic in them. I am not very smart when it comes to this stuff.”
 
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Selina Altas

Universalist Wizard
Elbion College
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“There is magic inside me that lets me use these?” she pointed to the tattoos on her face. “We’re pretty simple folks. Been wandering the dunes forever. There is magic in the air here.”
Selina shrugged, "Well that's one hypothesis. Honestly it could be anything, possibly even an aspect of your soul or spirit providing the runes there magic, the drain of which still causing fatigue. In either case we know that the magic takes a toll from your body in return for the magical effect."

Selina watched as Zara attempted to find the source of her magic. She got hopeful when her tattoos began to glow but came back down when they faded.

“I don’t know. I don’t feel anything. Maybe its, I don’t know, something different. The dye or something. Maybe the marks have magic in them. I am not very smart when it comes to this stuff.”
Selina thought about it, and it still made some sense, though the narrative was considerably different.
"Well, enchanted inks and dyes aren't unusual. Though self restoring ones are slightly more rare. An enchantment is never permanent, they always run down eventually so it's entirely possible that all of the magic is stored in the tattoos themselves... But it seems slightly sadistic to have an enchantment that drains its user to restore its power without the will of the user... Perhaps it's an Abtati safeguard against their people abusing the power of the marks..."

While Selina was narrating her thoughts something was changing outside. The wind blew the sand, eroding away the desert around their ball until the ground became unstable. The ground opened up.
With a shift the ball tipped and fell, rolling downwards into a chasm.

Inside the ball Selina noticed that up... Was suddenly not up anymore... Trapped within a rolling hamster ball Selina cried out as she was thrown about, trying desperately to grabs something to orient herself but she could only grab hold of Zara.
 
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Zara

Abtati nomad, rogue, & mystic
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Zara nodded as she turned the idea or in her head, tasting it for truthfulness. Before she could, the Abtati, felt the grainy ground beneath her shift. By reflex, Zara tensed her body prepared for the inevitably tidal surge of sand beneath her feet. It never came.

What followed was much more confusing. As if contained within the gullet of a drunken hobbit stumbling and tumbling back to it’d hobbit hole, Zara and Selina were churned and thrown about. The sand elf slammed into the solid interior wall of the sphere. It was as hard as stone; thanks to magic it was practically carved from sandstone. Zara’s fingers clawed at the warm air, the duo’s rapid breathing escalating the heat already contained within. She collided with Selina and felt the wizard slide past her several times as they tangled together in the tumble.

Zara tried in vain to try and trace the repulsing rune that she knew into the air. She hoped to force herself against a side of the egg-like sphere of protection that now sought to become their tomb. She could not. Every time her fingers curved through the air Selina slammed into her. She gave up after several attempted and dug her elongated fingers into Selina’s robes, trying to pull her in close.

The tumbling sphere bounced against the walls of the chasm. Zara clung desperately to Selina a scream escaping her lips until a sudden shift of momentum slammed her head forward into Selina’s.

In an instant, the fear was gone as pain lanced through Zara’s head before she slid almost instantly into pure black unconsciousness.
 
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Selina Altas

Universalist Wizard
Elbion College
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The problem with Selina's magic? She couldn't cast anything without her staff, or a wand, or SOMETHING that could channel the weave in place of her lack of magical affinity.
She found her staff several times, very briefly, and very painfully and it usually found a way to wack her in the head.
They bounced several times and each time was more painful than the last. Clinging to each other and tossed about as they were it was hard to tell which one of them would land first and take the force of the other on top of them.

There was a bounce and their heads collided with a crack, fireworks exploded in her skull but she clung to consciousness, the pain might have even cleared her thoughts a little.
She opened her hand and called the staff, it flew into her grasp and she finally felt some control.
By the light of the glowing rock she could see that they were floating towards the center of the ball in freefall, and it already lasted for several seconds so she could tell the next impact could very well shatter the shield.

The runes on her staff flashed as she quickly recited another spell.
"Vires naturae et magia tueri cum testa de vento!"
The spell activated immediately and a shell of wind surrounded them just as their sand ball hit the rocky bottom of the cavern and shattered.
The wind buoyed them up for a moment, absorbing their momentum and the force of the impact, it also scattered the pieces of the ball and kept them from being hit.
However, the spell was impromptu and imperfect, it only lasted for that explosive split second and then dropped them, as they fell Selina could see the ground rushing up and she knew she would either wake up dead or alive... In either case, everything went dark when she shifted around and took the fall with the elf on top of her.
 
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