Titanfall In the Shadows of Giants

For threads related to the Titanfall event of 2021

Kiros Rahnel

Outcast Priest
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His lips half smiled, almost as it to let out a chagrined chuckle at her response, though he was ultimately too weary to vocalize such laughter. Attention focused as he looked back down upon her in expectation of an interesting response, to which she did not disappoint. Several thousand years was easily on the order of dragons as it were; but she spoke not of the day she was born, but the day she had arrived. What other worlds were there? He had so far known of only Arethil, and perhaps the Astral Valley; though to categorize it as a world along with the mortal plane was factually correct, it was theologically wrong. But the existence of further worlds remained possibility in his mind, even if none other could be seen or reached.

“Another world?” he responded in astonishment. A large part of him still doubted her, but she was lucid enough to retain credibility. While Seska was undoubtedly odd in demeanour, she hardly came across as the type to embellish.

He couldn’t say he envied her lifespan, though no doubt many others would. What would he do with all that time? He had another thirty years himself to dwell this world, accepted his mortality within it. So long as he could absolve himself and ascend to the Valley within the time he had, it was plenty enough to the human priest. But her pained gasp caught his attention next. Magic was faltering, and she was a being highly attuned to it, if not outright composed of it.

“Perhaps, but you carry more wisdom than I. I’ve arrived on divine order, and know naught else. I merely know that this problem requires correction.” He replied, tone tinged with bitterness that was not directed upon Seska. Despite his ire for Itra Herself, he could not make it known.

“I can't imagine the strain on magic to bode well for fae.” He remarked, in belated reference to her suppressed sign of distress.
 

Xzaar Vixneel

Just An Elusive Empath.
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He had bever seen a female orc before. He assumed they reproduced using methods he won't bother to imagine. Then, their guide spoke common tongue after the orc pressed the stone on it's neck. So THAT'S what it's little gesture before was. Shaxa? Hive? A name he mouthed but literally can't pronounce!?! I'll just call him Zen...

"I am Xzaar, also of Liadain. I came here with a speculation that this place is connected to the loss of magic."
"It grows late. Take the night to prepare. Rest, resupply. At first light we meet at gates, return to the stone. And..."
The threat that followed annoyed him, but it was one made out of caution and he understands that. Kiro's retort, at least thats how Xzaar interpret it, satiated his slight urge to say something about the threat.

Later, Xzaar didn't seek shelter in an inn or wander the city like his companions did. He sought something he either slept on or near. It was... a tree. He found that sleeping in or against a tree is actually quite comfortable. He likes to see his surroundings and react to them and he feels as if walls limit it. Perhaps it's the paranoia or his connection with nature. Either way, he found a fairly secluded area with a few trees. He picked out one, sat down and leaned against it. He's slept on branches and even inside hollow trees before, so this perfectly fine. He arched his knees, placing his bow over his lap and holding it. The tree wasn't as... tall or beautiful as the ones back in falwood, but it will do for now.

The following morning, Xzaar realized that he'd need more arrows since he fired some earlier...

"Thirty gold? For JERKY?!? This shop isn't even luxurious. I could get cheaper from a brothel!" He never got his food. Some of the people there happened to speak a little common tongue and that got him booted from the place. So, he went to the next one to replenish his arrows, and the price gouging was even more egregious. He surveyed the place, seeing cheaply made arrows with either thin, splintering wood shafts with jagged edges, missing fletching or points that are tied to the shaft with weak string. "Shoddy craftsmanship. All around." He mumbled to himself. They were 40 gold and it filled him with abhorrence and amusement that they thought he'd spend a sliver of gold on things.

He, to the shopkeepers dismay, searched around the place for arrows that wouldn't get him killed. He knew he was being swindled and he has no idea how they assumed he was stupid; he came in here with a bow for Astra's sake! He eventually found the arrows that were properly made, and the price hiked up to 80. He, reluctantly, payed for them.

He was late to join his companions, and walked up on the tail end of their conversation. He saw Kiro's new attire and weapon, and he couldn't stop himself from asking, "Astra! How much did you pay for that?" He must've bought it. Xzaar didn't see it with him. "They wanted me to pay thirty gold for jerky. Jerky! Got kicked out. Shoddy arrows for forty. Found the good ones and they were eighty... Yeah, I'm broke." He looked down at what he stillassumed to be a kid before moving his gaze to the horizon. Gonna be a long, long day.
 

Xihuitl

Chi'nzen Scout
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Xihuitl’s night held little sleep. While he understood well the differences between himself and the violent chi’xilixi that pestered Tirnua, he doubted the citizens would care much. His flesh would look all the same when charred over a firepit. He managed to find a quiet spot in a sequestered alleyway, and nodded off for a couple of hours in between jerking awake at any sudden noises. All the while, the city walls were alight with the torches of patrols, peering out over the dark wilds.

The morning sun saw him, too, at the city gates. The other three had already gathered, and he hurried back towards them, spear in hand. He had not resupplied (he had not money or goods to trade), but he could see some of the others had.

The last day had been a blur of unimaginable happenings and had ended suddenly. He had taken the night to think on his position, and if he were to continue to study these people and their connection to the disturbance, he should probably try to speak with them.

“Kcha morning,” he said in a brief flare of magical translation. He wasn’t sure what else to say besides a basic greeting.

He didn’t get the chance to say more anyway, for a loud voice greeted them from the wall above.

“Outsida!” Rana beckoned them with a hand raised. She was again flanked by two males, and she descended a crumbling stone staircase to meet the group. She gave a beastly grin. “Sleep good? Buy weapon, I see. Good.”

She paced a few times in front of them, like she was trying to work out the right words for her next thought. “I have… think, while you sleep. I believe you come help. You must show magic stone, maybe we find why Cartas so interested.”

Xihuitl took a step forwards, but before he could speak, she turned and beckoned them forwards through the gates. “Come!”

Dismissed by the orc, he approached the one closest to his own height to try and break his silence. “Fzah-... how did you step from stone?” He asked Seska. The thought both fascinated and frightened him.

It was fifty or so meters of clear-cut grass beyond the walls of Tirnua, and thick wilderness beyond. The massive bodies of the slain Skycre had already been moved, but the sites of their impact were still readily seen.
 
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The seelie simply nodded in greeting to the orcs, but nothing more. She honestly did not care what their opinion of her was, even if the violence that was never far below the surface of an orc did give her pause. Still, she could do little about either problem, and so it was not something to waste her attention on.

She laughed in response to Kiros, casting a sidelong look to Xzaar as he arrived. "You think that age grants me wisdom? More the fool for that. If being old made one wise, there would be precious few idiots among the older races." She paused, and the barest curve of her lips to suggest a smile graced her face before vanishing. "I can speak quite confidently that such is not the case." She grunted. "All being old does is give one aches some mornings, and a low tolerance for the aforementioned idiocy, especially in oneself."

She didn't have to look at Xzaar.

She looked to the Chi'nzen after it spoke to her. A slow breath and, then out, and she held out one delicate hand before her. The barest trickle of magic, drawn from the prim within her soul, fed a flickering flame that danced just above that palm. "Via the Art," she said in response. "Although...not such a trifling amount as here," she added, dismissing the flame and letting her hand fall away. She could still feel the tingle of magic along her fingers, dancing in her mind. "I was never a scholar, not here nor....well, elsewhere. The Stones are connected with one another, and I simply opened the pathway from one and stepped through."

It was not like the travel of old, though; crossing immeasurable distances in the span of seconds. There was no distance to traverse, passing through the stone, but time still elapsed. It was still far faster than travel on foot, faster than riding the leys.

"Pray forgive, but what is this Cartas she speaks of?" She gestured to the orc, but kept her voice low. "My memory isn't what it used to be," she added. Not a lie, but not the truth, either.
 
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Kiros Rahnel

Outcast Priest
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A grin formed on his lips at her response, both amused and surprised by the self-debasement within it. He had thought her to be more proud in demeanour than she revealed herself to be. Seska seemed devoid of the egotistical self importance that many of the longer-lived races did trend toward. She candidly continued out about aches, both inflicted by environment upon body, and by fools upon mind. Words he could empathize with well – ever more so considering she considered herself among such. After all, it was by such foolish decisions of his own in his youth that he was here with them now.

He could have been a wealthy priest had he not fumbled such a future away. Now, he was wandering a strange land to fix problems he was completely clueless about – all so his own insufferable deity wouldn’t leave him to be damned. He enjoyed neither innate knowledge nor connection to the arcane, wielding only what magic She had bothered to bestow him with. Whatever wisdom he had gleamed was done through his spell of insight, and that of reduced reliability under present conditions. But blindness to the unfolding events causing magic's instability was a quality Seska likely shared with him, as her response implied.

“Qualities I’ve managed to obtain in mere decades.” He quipped back amusedly before responding to Xzaar's inquiry on the absurd prices he no doubt encountered as well.

“The spear and brigandine were eighty gold. Each. Lodgings were fifty for a bed barely softer than the dirt beneath it! My entire wealth has been spent. But better to be prepared, I posit; magic is all else I have, and you've seen the effect plaguing it." He responded, still a bit bitter at how badly he had been gouged at the marketplace. It was no small sum, and had taken him months to acquire; had he been aware of the very situation he had been ordered into, he would have made the purchase beforehand. But better to part with it now. Foolish as the prices he had paid were, heading off with little else than his own unreliable divine magic struck him as even more so. Money would do him little good if he died out of unpreparedness.

He turned upon notice of the insectoid guide approaching the gates, scarcely able to give him reply before the booming voice of the orc interrupted. Rana seemed to be in better spirits than when they had met, but he simply kept a stoic gaze upon her as she descended down the stairs towards the group. He did return a nod as she noted his new weapon, no doubt one an orc would approve of.

“Well enough.” he responded to Rana. A stretch of the truth, there was little sleep to be had. It was better than nothing, he mused. Better to be rested; both for clarity of mind and use of magic, should be become desperate enough to risk spell casting. Her next words eased him somewhat; she would work with them, and gods knew he needed the guidance.

“We do share the same goal; whatever has brought this effect must be corrected. The stone itself lies just past the city gates. I hope we can find further clue, as you say. That we know it was the work of one from where we dwell is a start.” He replied, relaxing in both tone and posture. Rana then barked at them to follow, and Kiros emptied his pipe before tucking it away back in the belt of his robes. Spear in hand he followed along, giving a gesture back towards the direction they had arrived from.

“It lies that direction yonder." He guided, stepping forth towards the portal stone that brought them all here.
 

Xihuitl

Chi'nzen Scout
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If Xihuitl had eyelids, they would have widened at Seska’s display. He had seen very little magic spring from the fingertips of people. What little experience he had with the arcane had been rooted in artifacts and structures, and the occasional ritual. To see this, and to hear that they had moved through the stone as a door was astonishing.

Rana slowed her stride to walk beside Kiros, waving her two silent companions forwards to take point. “So... you think gods bring you here, ke?” She looked amused, but not cruelly so. “Rana have gods, too. They chew you up and spit out.” She laughed, a hearty, rough thing and patted Kiros on the shoulder with enough strength to make a lesser man stumble. “Keep you gods close. Monsters in these woods.”

"Pray forgive, but what is this Cartas she speaks of?"

“I do not know,” Xihuitl answered, quirking his antennae to indicate that he was just as lost as she was. “But che not come here intiliqis- recently. I viq no one else like you.” The differences of race between herself and her companions was not obvious to him, and he lumped the foreigners together like Rana.

Reaching the stone was simple enough. It stood, as it had before, in a small clearing of its own. Rana approached the now glowing symbols. “It… awake?” She asked to no one in particular. She ran a hand over its surface, but she did not know how to activate the magic.

Xihuitl’s antennae twitched to attention. Some of the more perceptive amongst the group may hear soft footsteps through the underbrush. Five insectoid figures emerged from the underbrush opposite the travelers. They were similar in appearance to Xihuitl himself, although their carapaces were a cool and mossy green compared to his tan.

”Shaxa!” Xihuitl called out just before throwing stars were flung and the aggressors lunged with spear and axe.
 
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She did not bother to respond to Rana and her question. If that worthy was unable to utilize the stone, then she was equally unlikely to be able to understand how it was done. Not, mind, that she herself had any particular notion; she used such things as a matter of reflex, her affinity with sorcery being what it was. If she stopped to think about it, she could probably go through the steps.

"There are not very many like me," she said in response to the bugman. She actually did not dislike the creature, unlike at least one of her companions. It moved with a purpose, and wasted little effort on useless things. Or so it seemed to her.

Whether it was intuition or the sound of their footfalls, the sorceress came to attention moments before the assailants made themselves known. It was just as well, because they did not even bother mincing words. They attacked immediately, and did so in silence. Her eyes narrowed for a moment, some inner light flaring momentarily as she seized hold of the prim, drawing the source of magic from herself in a heady torrent that - for a moment - left her lost in ecstasy of the experience.

A moment only. She threw a hand out before her, fingers splayed, and applied her craft, fashioning through the Art a web of magical threads, cast from earth and air. Something was wrong, though; the threads wavered unsteadily, and the entire pattern seemed on the verge of collapsing under its own weight mere moments after being crafted. The diminutive figure leapt to one side with a hiss of in-drawn breath, an axe cutting through the space she had occupied moments before.

Too fast! These bugmen were quick and agile, and as she danced back, it struck again before the dust had even settled from its first strike. The silver-hair woman raised her staff to parry the attack, and the blow sent a shower of blue-white sparks flying. The impetus from that strike sent her skidding back from the impact, and sent shock waves through her staff into her hands and arms. it hurt, but she did not wait around to receive another of those attacks. She needed to find someone that could distract these damned things away from her.

She spun round Xihuitl, trying to put him between her attacker and herself. Still filled to the brim with the raw stuff of creation, she again threw a hand out. This time, motes - embers, trailing ephemeral black smoke - swirled in the air in front of her. For a moment or two, but they, like the shield she had tried to erect, seemed to tremble, the pattern of magic unraveling even as she tried to weave it back in place.

She gave a frustrated curse, trying to keep her eye on the one that had already engaged her while keeping her attention on the others. All the while as useful as teats on a bull, as effective as a sword made of grass.
 
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Kiros Rahnel

Outcast Priest
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“Oh, I know so.” He replied, spear held skyward as a walking stick while he strode alongside Rana. There had been no sign to interpret; Itra’s instruction had been clear enough, if not incomplete. And in his time here he had at least discovered enough information to determine the likely purpose of the given holy quest – if the current nature of the arcane was enough to cause the Sidhe to fret, it was surely enough to worry a supposed deity of magic.

“Hah, your gods sound about as nice.” he made his retort with a subdued smirk. Not that he could make the additional underlying reason for the quip clear, unable to openly speak of Her. Itra would smite and damn him for that; rather counter-productive towards his main motivation in being present in the first place. To imply his own god was not nice was enough; it was both both accurate, and for the best. He simply gave an affirmative nod at Rana's words, followed with a a hastened step forward for balance from the hand to his back.

On their approach he saw the stone and gave the now-glowing runes a curious, inquisitive gaze. He didn’t know if he’d call the portal stone ‘awake’, but there was clearly some effect upon it; the nature of which he didn’t know. He still had his spell of insight to try to gleam an answer, and as unreliable as he expected it to be, it might be worth a try. But before he could prepare himself for the incantation, several unknown others laid an ambush upon the party with a number of thrown stars interrupting him mid-thought. He raised an arm to shield his head from the barrage; one star struck the folded linen that formed his mantle, while other spinning projectiles flew beneath and struck his leather baldric with dull muffled thuds. The cuts were far from deep enough to wound him; the crude but expensive sheet of leather he wore had served its purpose amicably.

With his spear held at the ready he sized up their opponents, now rushing towards them with their own weapons brandished. A deft thrust of the weapon forward sent the sharpened steel tip towards his assailant in a forceful, but glancing strike against it’s chitinous hide. His foe was sent stumbling back from the strike, but the spear point did little more than merely rake a superficial gouge along the creature’s own carapace. It was seemingly unable to pierce it; at least not when the creature was standing in the open.

The sudden flash from Seska’s parry caught his attention next, and he turned in time to witness her recoil from the blocked axe strike. He wasted no time in responding, leaving the insectoid warrior he had just struck behind in haste towards the new target. Rushing over with the sturdy polearm wielded overhead as a cudgel, Kiros brought the weapon down in a heavy swing upon the one assailing Seska. The study shaft of the spear slammed atop its head with a sharp crack, causing the insectoid to crumple beneath in a heap from the blow. It still moved, but was clearly crippled from the strike. It next clutched at the hem of his robes with axe held in another hand menacingly. Kiros choked up on his spear before delivering a sharp thrust, pinning the creature against the ground beneath it. Motion slowly ceased from it once the spear sank between the plates of its carapace. The lifeless insectoid continued to remain still until he attempted to pull his weapon free from its deceased body.

The spear was seemingly stuck, a problem confirmed by another sharp tug. The weapon was only finally pulled free once he had put his boot to the being’s chest for added leveragem and the physical effort caused him to stumble back to regain his balance. After he had regained control of himself and his weapon, he braced his stance with his spear held in front and took a step towards the remainder that threatened them.
 
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