Open Chronicles Levels of Light

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Finn

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Finn. Slow down, eh?” Gristle glowered beneath his breath. The giant man lumbered on the cobblestoned streets a ways behind the smaller female. Folk didn’t pay too much mind to the blonde. She seemed to be able to weave through the crowds without much notice. Well, when she wasn’t tripping over her own two boots.


“I want to get a good spot. They don’t publicly open this district every day.”


And they didn’t. The college district was usually on high lockdown. But today was demo day for the residents of Elbion. The crowds would be tight. Perfect for petty theft or so the big boss thought.


Finn was more interested in doing the bare minimum and getting a good spot for the demo of magical arts. Rumor had it there was an air master about. Mottled blue eyes flickered back to her companion as she reached the security checkpoint.
 

Kellen

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Elbion.

A city that he had only visited once before, a long time ago, before he'd discovered his 'gift'. He remembered it from then, the wonder at everything, the feeling of majesty.

Man people called Elbion the equal of Alliria.

Kellen understood the comparison. Both of them were run by Merchant Councils, both of them were hubs of trade, and both of them was practically teeming with possibilities. The only difference of course was that at the heart of Elbion lay one important thing; Magic.

He didn't know it back then, or rather he didn't understand it, but he did now.

The air was practically thick with it, overflowing.

Kellen had to fight the urge to take it in, had to fight to not draw upon whatever mage stood closest. It was why he'd taken up the balcony he now stood on rather than joining the crowd in the square. It was safer here, for him and everyone else down there.

Plus, it was more enjoyable to watch the crowd than be a part of it.

There might be opportunity.
 
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Finn

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Every Marauder Gang member had a Citizen District jewel. Finn flashed hers just before Gristle joined her from behind. And just like that she was inside the most heavily guarded place in the city. The girl couldn't help but goggle, neck craning as she drunk in the sights like a man only two days sober looking inside a tavern.

Folk were packed into the square like cattle, a stage set-up along one side. The mages wore brightly colored robes and she wondered if each pattern and hue signified a different art or practice. Gristle nudged the dreamer lightly with his massive elbow. Finn's gaze settled back to her companion and his bearded face.

His voice rumbled quietly down. "Looks like rest of the group is here. Let's start the perimeter and meet by that tree?"

Finn's gaze panned the moving bodies to settle on the high and curved branches of an oak. Fingers twitched at her sides, suddenly wanting to climb the barked behemoth. The small thief gave a quick and quiet nod to Gristle. And not for the first time, she wondered if he had some Orc in him or some ancient species of giant from the legends of old.

Splitting from her partner, she began lightly passing others, lithe fingers slipping into pockets and unclasping jewelry from noble necks.
 
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Kellen

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Kellen watched the crowd in silence. The balcony was nice enough, though every time he leaned on it a bit more the railing shifted under his weight. It was unnerving, though not enough to make him stop even when it moved a bit more.

He was too focused on the crowd.

Things down there were starting up now. People were moving around, shifting to get a better view or trying to edge closer to where the action would be. City Guards were scattered throughout the place, but none of them paid close enough attention to see what he did from the balcony above.

It was a group of people, small, and only noticeable because they all seemed to move through the crowd.

None of them headed towards the front, none of them moved to try and get into a better place to see the sights. No, they all seemed to instead move between one person or another.

Pickpockets?

It was a bit of a logical leap, Kellen had to admit that to himself, but the pattern was most certainly there. With a smile the Underlord leaned forward a bit more, picking the odd ones out of the crowd and making sure to follow how they moved. He'd found something interesting.
 
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Finn

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It's like they never saw her. The nobles. The guards. The mages.

At times Finn wondered if it was more than just being small, fast, and ordinary looking.

With pockets full, she found herself the first at the tree. Just in time, too. Boots pushed on toes. Looked like an air mage was taking the stage. Throngs of folk pushed together, closer, shifting their attentions as round spheres began floating from the mage with the dark-blue robes. A wind began picking up in the square as Finn scurried up the rough branches of the oak to get a better view, not minding at all the small cuts gained from climbing.
 
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Kellen

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Kellen watched as one of the people in the crowd moved to the edge of the square, her clothes making her stand out from the more middle-class people who had taken up much of the central crowd.

A frown touched his lips for a moment, his eyes squinting as he tried to get a better look at her.

The distance was a little too far for him, but he was sure that she was one of those who had been moving through the crowd. A few of them were still in the throng, but she had set herself aside. Why was that?

Sick of thieving?

He glanced towards the air mages that were performing now. Wanted to watch the show?

Kellen mused to himself for a moment, then took a few steps and hopped off the side of the balcony.
 
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Finn

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There were Oooos and aaaaaahs from the crowd. Finn squeezed between the crook of two branches splitting upward and found a slightly precarious seat, feet dangling a solid few feet above the heads of those watching below. As the air mage began making several others on the stage float, Finn got a funny feeling.

Like she was being watched.

The girl had a mind to ignore it, only she couldn't quite.

Head turned and she peered behind her, mottled-blues searching the moving crowd. For a moment, her eyes focused on someone looking back but just as quickly she lost him. Her?

Hm.

A cheer from the crowd brought her attention back to the stage as the air mage sent a rushing blast of air through the people watching. Instead of pushing across the girl in the tree and moving blonde strands of hair backward, it seemed to go around her. Like there was some sort of invisible shield.

Then again, maybe it was just a trick of the light or her position in the tree.

To her left, she caught the top of Gristle's head in her peripheral. Even he had stopped to watch for a couple seconds before he went back to pillaging.
 
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Kellen

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The magic in the air came to him.

It was not a voluntary thing, not ever, but here it was especially potent. The mages above would feel a tugging at their power, though he doubted that any of them would know what it really was.

Even the Masters of Elbion had never seen something like him.

At least that was what he thought.

Magic and man leeched into him, pulled from the air and the men performing there. It filled him, flowing through his faces. A palm lifted for a moment, a small razors edge of wind appearing until he closed his fists. A smile touched his lips, but of course he did nothing with the power.

No reason to.

Instead he approached the tree that had the girl sitting on it, eventually casually leaning against it as though he were just watching the show.
 
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Finn

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The crowd erupted into applause as the air mages did several flying tricks on stage. Finn couldn't help the small smile stretching across thin lips. With a small sigh of contentment, she leaned back in the tree. Something slipped from her pocket and clunked to the ground, landing right by the boots of a man leaning against the tree.

A pearl necklace she'd nabbed in the crowd earlier.

"Bolts," she whispered a swear.

Had anyone seen?

Quickly and quietly, the girl scrambled down, nearly falling - but not quite. Boots hit the ground, palm steadying herself against the rough bark of the tree. A small fist clenched at her side, mottled blues eyeing the necklace in the dirt. Had to get it quick before someone else nabbed it or before too many questions were asked.

Without much fuss or verbal inclinations, the small girl went to brush past the man leaning against the tree in a quick lunging, squat for the fallen plunder.
 
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Kellen

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Just as the girl reached for the necklace it would suddenly jump from the ground and float into Kellen's hand.

A smile touched the Underlord's face, a small one at first that grew as he realized he'd actually accomplished what he'd wanted to do. The Magic he stole was never easy to use. There wasn't exactly an instruction manual and he had no tutelage in any particular brand of magic itself.

Every time he took someones power he had to utilize it on instinct. It was easier if he'd used that power before, like with Suze, but if it was something new?

Well, let's just say there were more than a few burned out barns in his wake.

"Tsk." Kellen clicked his teeth. "Should be more careful."

He held up the necklace and inspected it. "Can't imagine your boss would be happy with you losing the merchandise."
 
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Finn

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The girl took a step back, blues widening at the sudden use of magic. Not just any magic. Air magic.

She gulped.

She could disappear into the crowds. And she probably should. The smell of danger was all over this man. This stranger. But curiosity rooted the girl of gangly-limbs to her spot. For now. That and knowing that the rest of her gang would soon be at this meeting spot. She wouldn't be out-matched for long.

She, of course, neither confirmed nor denied what he said, instead, asking.

"Are you an air mage?"

Didn't much look like one.
 
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Kellen

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"No." A confusing answer, no doubt, given what he had just done.

Even if she probed further there would be no further answers, not from Kellen at least. He knew about as much about his own abilities as she did.

Oh the odd little talent was understood in a way, but its true nature? That alluded him about as much as the function of the stars. Kellen knew what his powers could do, what they were good for, but other than that? Nothing.

The only people who could change that would likely lock him up and stab him with needles.

"Are you a thief?' He countered. "A pretty poor one apparently."

Kellen smiled with an answer to his own question.
 
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Finn

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A flare of scarlet surfaced along pale cheeks.

Then an anxious gaze at those pressed in closest to their conversation. While the gang had a certain level of protection from their benefactor, the city guard had enough authority to chop off hands if caught and found guilty. And when was a thief ever caught and NOT found guilty in this city?

Not like anyone would stick up for their kind.

“Not so loud,” she whispered. Blues drifted to the necklace. She’d have to make it up. Per usual. But it wasn’t worth sticking around and drawing attention. Looking over her shoulder, she saw that fire mages began taking the stage, sending up sparks and manipulating fire into dragons.

Finn could feel the extra heat from here.

Gaze flickered back to the man and she took a step back.

“Keep it then.”
 
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Kellen

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Fire mages.

Of course it was fire mages. Kellen had experience with them. Their magic could be...troubling. Like the air mages, his body naturally began to leech their power. It was a subtle thing, slow, but he could already feel the heat rise within his chest.

Fist clenched, he tried to keep his tone even. "This?"

He held up the necklace.

"Too gaudy for me." Losing control in this crowd would be bad, especially with fire magic. He could end up burning half the place down, and that...that would inevitably breed about as many questions as he could handle. "Why don't you take me to your boss?"

He asked. "Then you can have this back."
 
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Finn

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Take him to her boss. The boss? Heh. Yeah right. Then she’d be in WAY more trouble than if she lost one share.

No way stranger-o.

Head shook silently as she backed up, back bumping right up against Gristle’s towering form. He’d just joined them. Blues looked up into his gaze as he looked down at his small friend and over to the man holding up the necklace. Assumptions and conclusions were easy enough for the giant of a man to come by. With one maw of a hand, he eased Finn to the side and slightly behind his form.

“You causing my friend trouble? Cause if you are, I’d suggest you move along before yah break a few bones.” Gristle began cracking his knuckles as the fire dragons rose higher in the air.
 
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Kellen

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Kellen chuckled, though it was forced. The fire was burning in his chest now. Not painful, not hurting, but a desperate ache.

He needed to get out of here. "I don't think broken bones will be the worst things to happen here."

A part of him wished that he had better control of his powers, that he understood what he was supposed to do, that he could better stop the involuntary reflex that forced the abilities into him. It would have made things a lot easier, a lot safer.

"I just wanted to meet her boss." Kellen glanced at the man. "Which you're clearly not."

Didn't carry himself that way at least. "I have a...business proposition."
 
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Finn

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The girl peeked out from behind Gristle, intelligent gaze observing part of the internal struggle the stranger was going through. A frown tugged on her thin lips. Gristle crossed his arms, staring Kellen down.

Not impressed.

“Why don’t you tell us the proposition and we’ll pass on your message? If the boss is impressed, you’ll be found.”

Finn spoke up, “You don’t look so good. Oh. And to deliver the message, I want that necklace back now.”

Terms laid down.
 
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Kellen

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Kellen chuckled.

This time it was real. The fire burned in his chest, and as it built and built he couldn't help but find it funny that these idiots kept on arguing with him at this point. Lips thinned for a moment, fingers scrunched into a fist. He took a deep breath, doing his best to draw on a bit of calm. "No."

His eyes burned, literally.

A flicker of something flashed through them as he glanced towards the hulk of the man and then towards Finn. There was no joke in his voice now, no jest.

"Take me to your boss." He needed to get out of here. "Or else."

Death was on the table.
 
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Finn

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Gristle took a step back. Finn silently watched the flaming eyes, her own blue ones traveling back to the fire dragons above. The girl was quiet. An observer. And she began to wonder if what she thought was happening really was.

“Noon. Outside these walls. Stragoff’s Inn and Pubb.”

Gristle only had the power to offer a meeting that his boss may or may not accept. It was the best he could do. Giant hand circled around Finn’s waist and scooped the petite girl off her feet and onto his shoulder despite her sudden quiet yelp of protest.

It was clear he was retreating, making Finn retreat as well.
 
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Kellen

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Kellen waved in agreement, if only so that he could get the fuck out of here before he killed half a dozen people.

Fire was so much more difficult to control than air. It was like his entire was bursting with energy, like all of him was about to take over and just rend those within the square to pieces.

Others might have seen it as a good thing, something they could use to exert power. In another circumstance Kellen might have agreed, but right now it was a danger, nothing less. He knew that his strength with this magic wasn't enough, not here. If he killed there would be consequence.

Not good ones.

Kellen had nothing against the poor, nothing against those who would come to see this show.

Only those who performed it. "Fine."

He breathed.

"I'll be there." Hopefully with no mages around.
 
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Finn

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Well before noon, the boss was at the appointed Inn and Pub. Half the gang packed in as customers. Finn sat tucked in a back booth, alone. Head bent over scrolls, an ink brush gripped in one hand. She and Gristle had a bet on whether or not the fire stranger would show.

She was more interested in the schematics she was drafting up than the bet.

The boss was sipping a mug of ale, salt and pepper beard braided. A scar ran down one side of his face. Fingers drummed along the sticky wooden surface.
 
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Kellen

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Kellen wasn't a fool. The magic from the day before had long since dissipated, as it always did, but that didn't meant he would walk into a meeting like this prepared to die.

The young Underlord did not control an empire of any sorts, but he had a few local thugs who at least would watgch his back. They all wanted pay of course but each and everyone was sure that he would deliver it within the time that was allocated. A benefit, he supposed, of being well known.

Kellen just hoped there were no fire mages in the Inn.

Moving with the electric confidence that he had been the day before Kellen stepped into the Inn. There was a bold smile on his face, no weapon visible. His coat hung open, and thumbs were tucked into his pockets.

With a grin he stepped forward towards the center of the Inn.
 
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Finn

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When Kellen walked in there wasn't really a drop in volume among the chatter from the 'patrons' who filled the seats. But most eyes flickered between the man and to their boss sitting at the bar. Dark ink smeared across her hand as Finn glanced up herself. For a moment, her eyes locked with Kellen's.

And as she thought, his eyes were no longer smoldering.

The boss-man, turned in his seat. "Heard you were looking for me. Why don't you come take a seat and we can discuss what you wanted to say. Friend." The man stroked his beard thoughtfully, intelligent eyes looking Kellen up and down.
 
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Kellen

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Kellen nodded in silence.

He would have had something clever to say, but his mind was occupied with something else. There was a slight...tugging. He could not tell from whom, or where, but his ability was reaching out to something.

Again he wished that he held more control over his power, that he could take complete control.

At times he could, but only in those rare instances where he knew the magic was coming from. He could also shut it off at times, but there was considerable effort in the task. Enough that he would not dare do such a thing now, not when he was surrounded by people who wouldn't think twice about cutting his throat.

"Your people need better manners." Kellen offered finally as he pulled out a chair opposite the man.
 
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Finn

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“Hm,” was the only response the overlord gave the stranger. “Let me make up for it with an ale. On me.” Hand came away from his beard and he snapped his fingers. Two mugs were set down.

While Kellen might certainly feel something in the room, it wouldn’t be like anything he’d ever felt before around magic users. It would feel like he was drawn to a wall. An invisible barrier. And if he pressed further, he just might not be able to pull away.

Finn continued, head bent over her parchment. The other men in the room knew well enough to leave the odd girl alone when she was like this. Even Gristle was nowhere near his little friend.

The bossman sipped his ale. “Tell me. What’s your business in my fine and fair city?”
 
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