Titanfall Preventing Disaster

For threads related to the Titanfall event of 2021
Introduction

Velaeri

Judgemental Catbird
Staff
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The time to act is now.


"The capstone is broken, Eolydiir's Crook is once again found.

What has come to pass before will soon be unbound.
Gather, all, to the Portal Stones at once.

You must act now or all will forever be lost."


For weeks now, the whispers heard by many when travelling between the Portal Stones have become louder. Some have heard the faint and slow beating of a heart. Magic has started to fail. Spells have been sputtering out, artefacts faltering. Yet the Herald - the otherworldly being that keeps magic in check - has not been seen by any.

A new voice reaches out to adventurers across Arethil. It is familiar to those who have ever been touched by the Herald, but it is not the same. Soft and gentle, it speaks loudest nearest the Portal Stones.

Warriors, scholars, mages, craftspeople, and all manner of being in between start flocking to their nearest Portal Stone. Is it curiosity, fear, or a desire for adventure that draws them? Who is this voice and why has it never been heard before?

The voice is silent.

It waits patiently for more to gather, but time is not on anyone's side.





OOC Information


  1. This thread is meant to unfold at a slower pace for those who may have trouble keeping up with faster threads.
  2. This thread covers all Portal Stone locations listed below.
  3. There will be something for everyone to do, no matter what portal stone they may visit.
  4. Make sure you start your post with your location.
  5. Staff will reveal new objectives and locations as the thread progresses.


LOCATIONS


Make sure you label your post with your location.
The locations of the portal stones can be found marked clearly on the map.
  • ALLIR STONE
  • IXCHEL NORTH STONE
  • CERAK STONE
  • ELBION STONE
  • ERETEJVA STONE
  • FALWOOD STONE
  • CROBHEAR STONE (The Spine)
  • STEPPES STONE (Taagi Baara East)
  • BYSTRA STONE (Taagi Baara West)
  • SAVANNAH STONE (Aberresai Savannah North)
  • BELGRATH STONE
  • SHEKETH STONE
 
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Chaceledon

The Draconian Diva
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[FALWOOD STONE]

They had to turn back. The thing that angered Chaceledon the most about it was that he’d suffered enough. He wanted a bath, he wanted a bed, but they had seen fit to go on this goose chase. Why? Because his fire was out. Magic was sputtering and the Well destabilizing. Some days Volker was lucid and walking around, others Chaceledon had to go in and interfere. One thing was clear; there was no spa, no dish of caviar, no hot stone massage within Chaceledon’s grasp. Pedeo would have to wait. Chaceledon needed his fire back.

Thankfully leaving the swamp and heading toward Falwood let them find something Chaceledon desperately wanted to see...a river.

He collapsed into the clean water and washed his hair desperately, throwing his long locks over his back and sighing. “I will never call a river dirty again...” he smiled. He washed, as well as he could, with oils and soap. He used all of them. Deep conditioning, cleaning, everything. Cleaning his nails, dressing back in clean clothing.

The Falwood stone. A voice had bid them to go there. Hopefully they could find out what was wrong with Rheinhard. What was wrong with him. What was wrong with Seteta. Their magic was gone. Volker had to make their fires now, and Chaceledon was wearing his thicker woolen robes.

When they finally beheld the stone, Chaceledon crossed his arms and looked at Seteta. “Alright. So we’ve...I’ve given up being massaged by slaves with hot balls of obsidian for this. Where the hell is the voice?”

Seteta
 

Tess

Skull like a Coconut, Arms like Toothpicks
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FALWOOD STONE

The bad news was that magic was flickering and was, at best, temperamental with spells failing at an increasing rate over the past few days.

The good news was that some of the enchanted trinkets, baubles, and doodads that Tess kept with her at all times still functioned, albeit with a slightly higher fail rate which was only marginally noticeable by the mage as most of her enchanted items had a fairly high fail rate already.

The bad news was the enchanted Ring of Cooking™ she made earlier that spring had failed spectacularly and, much like years ago with the Tea Incident that landed her, unconscious, in the Savannah, the ring had backfired.

The upside was that the explosion hadn't rendered her into an assortment of pieces.

The downside was it had still launched her fairly high with, using the term she had coined the first time, significant air time.

The upside was that she somehow missed most of the trees entirely, including a few large birds, and in her dazed and confused state realized she was most likely going to land in a nearby river.

The downside was that, at the last second, she remembered that hitting water from tall heights or at high speeds was equivalent to hitting a slightly squishier brick wall.

She hit the water with a thwacking sound reminiscent of a thawed chicken hitting a castle wall after being launched out of a pneumatic cannon. The impact gave her just enough time to realize something - likely many things - broke upon hitting the water, though not before realizing that, somehow, her bag was still over her torso and, less importantly, unconscious people tended to drown in water. The sudden deceleration of the water smacked her conscious mind into unconscious rather quickly, but not before a single thought echoed through her yet-again-concussed skull:

Dammit.

Chaceledon Seteta
 

Seteta

The Dragon's Beloved
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FALWOOD STONE

It had been... a trying several days. Everytime Chaceledon had to dive into the Well and get all the Volkers back in line, Seteta fought the fear that this time he wouldn't be able to come out. The magic was unstable at best, and downright volatile at worst, and she was left biting her knuckles, watching as Rheinhard-sometimes-not-Rheinhard stood frozen in place with his teeth spread wide over Chaceledon's eyes until the two would pull apart.

She hated it.

When she'd heard the voice, summoning people to the portal stones, she'd been both relieved and frightened. Relieved that there was, perhaps, something to be done. That this wasn't something just affecting them. Frightened that... just as she was truly becoming confident in her abilities, it might all change.

So they turned back. Away from Amol-Kalit, and back toward the Falwood Portal Stone. They'd bypassed it intentionally, knowing that Rheinhard couldn't travel through it without his and Chaceledon's captor being made aware of their movements. But now... they had no choice but to return.

Her apprehension grew by the day, but even so she couldn't resist joining Chaceledon for his bath in the river, plucking the bottles away from his fingers, and offering to wash his back with a sly smirk.

When the trio at last stood before the Falwood portal stone, she couldn't help but fidget.

“Alright. So we’ve...I’ve given up being massaged by slaves with hot balls of obsidian for this. Where the hell is the voice?”

Before she could answer, though, a strange noise came from the river behind them.

"What the--" she spun on her heel, looking towards the water. She almost turned back to the stone, back to Chaceledon, but then she spotted something in the water. Something human-like. "Is there someone in the water?" she gasped, and began to sprint back toward the river.

Seteta swore as she ran into the cold current, realizing that she was probably ruining yet another pair of boots. But she waded out, grabbed the billowing fabric that she saw, and realized it was a human, and began pulling them toward the bank.

Chaceledon Tess
 

Chaceledon

The Draconian Diva
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Chaceledon heard the splash, and inwardly groaned. He’d just gotten dressed. He had been taming down his appearance over the last week or so of travel, but if they were meeting a mysterious voice that somehow knew what was going on with their magic, he had brought back his dress in full force.

His long copper hair was held up by a dizzying network of brass pins, and he’d chosen a theme of elegant eggshell white for the occasion, layered with a darker cream wool robe. His magic being unstable not only messed with Rheinhard, it messed with his ability to keep himself warm. He was a reptile at heart, built for the burning sands of Amol-Kalit. He had on sensible brown leather boots, and he imagined himself a bit rustic without too much jewelry or eye makeup. Just a bit of dark brown kohl around his eyes, black lining his eyes, and a smidge of gold dust below his brows. His nails were a long coffin shape, plain white flecked with gold paint.

Chaceledon was rather proud of how elegant, yet rustic he looked. Well, the boots and the robe were rustic, not so much the cream silk underneath. One did need a touch of class.

Rheinhard was camping nearby. He was well enough to hunt and provide for himself, but the unstable Well made him dangerous. He’d separated himself from them...at least for now.

So there was no one to go grab the girl out of the river other than Seteta. Chaceledon hurried after her, frustrated that he was having to hurry in a walking outfit. He watched his lovely sand elf yank the body toward them, with a vaguely disgusted look on his face.

“Really dear, that’s the fourth pair of boots I’ve repaired for you...and my fire is out. You’ll have to see if you can dry them.” The dragon nudged the little figure with a foot. “Dear lord, is it dead?”

Seteta
Tess
 

Ezra Archiva

Summoner of Elbion
Elbion College
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ELBION STONE

Hooves beat against the stone road; the same sound that had accompanied Ezra's travel for the past however many days.

As the mage rode, his mind raced with the whispers and with the questions they sparked inside him. With every day he rode, the whispers grew louder and the questions more and more confusing.

A voice he, nor anyone he knew, had ever heard before. The words it spoke of, a broken capstone and a crook?

Ezra was not often clueless, but this was certainly one of those situations where he had no choice but to be. Any magic he tried to summon, any arcane effect that would under any other circumstances be as trivial as breathing to conjure, was more liable to fizzle out like the world's most lackluster party trick than do anything of substance.

He still remembered what happened when he tried to conjure an elemental; the thunder serpent merely flickered in the air before being reduced to the base components of the spell once more. It had hardly taken form when whatever effect was looming over Arethil took grip once more.

The discovery of magic's failing had thrown the College into mayhem, which was honestly quite understandable. An entire campus whose pride and joy were their arcane abilities, only to have it suddenly snuffed out before their eyes. The reliable once more transformed into mere chance and mystery.

It, thus, made perfect sense for him to see what in the world this voice had to do with it. It was the only logical step forward he could think of. Well, that and sitting around for others to do something. For some reason, though, Ezra figured there wasn't much time to twiddle thumbs and idle—probably the rather urgent message left by said voice, actually.

On the horizon, the young apprentice locked eyes on the Elbion portal stone. He pushed his horse faster, eager to unravel this mystery. Coming upon it, he slid off the saddle and...

Actually, he didn't really know what to do. He figured some idea would make itself known to him over the ride here, but none did. He, and he surmised the rest of the world alongside him, were without a clue.

"Hello? Weird voice? Anybody?"

It was worth a shot.
 

Heike Eisen

Knight of the Golden Blade
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ALLIR STONE


Herr Heike Eisen knelt down before she approached the gathering about the Allir Portal Stone, sinking the tip of her longsword into the dirt and gripping both ends of the crossguard and bowing her head.

She spoke her Oath of Truth: "I, Heike Eisen, shall speak no falsehood. This I swear."

Behind her now were the darkest days of her life. Ahead of her, perhaps, the most difficult, the most trying, a tribulation that would weigh heavily not only upon her but upon the scattered remnants of the Reikhustan people and indeed upon the legacy of the Kingdom of Reikhurst itself in the world--whether it should be ash in the histories or whether it would rise again from the ruin and the sorrow. For her home, family, and kingdom, she shouldered this burden. To Ian Rengheist of the Night Watchmen Chapter of Templar, she swore that she would be the beacon of shining hope that Reikhurst needed, the fire which would ignite the battle to come, and this was no falsehood.

She spoke her Oath of Justice: "I, Heike Eisen, shall uphold the laws of Reikhurst and Arethil, and rightfully punish the guilty. This I swear."

First, the conquering of oneself. In her case, the affliction of vampirism. Ever since that most terrible dawn waking up a monster in the gray ashfall of a devastated Reikhurst she had searched, with hope waxing and waning yet her resolve never truly dying. The perseverance she had gained through the intense training of her squiring into the Order of the Golden Blade, enduring where even many hearty men failed, had served her well in those bleak years. She found a cure. With the help of a few Templar to whom she would be forever grateful, Heike had become human again. The price, the shortening of her lifespan to a diminished nine years remaining, the surety of knowing the exact day of her coming death in the year 379, was a small price to pay so far as she saw it. For there awaited the greatest calling she would ever know, the single most important battle she would ever fight, and in it she would exact justice upon the False King, the Slaughterer, Jürgen Kaiser. He whose guilt surpassed all others.

She spoke her Oath of Honor: "I, Heike Eisen, shall fulfill my duties and conduct myself with noble intent. This I swear."

The road of honor was a hard one indeed, Herr Dieter Roth--one of her knight-superiors--had said often during her squiring. Heike knew not then that she would live the truth of this everyday in wake of Reikhurst's sacking, in her suffering as a vampire, and now, set on her arduous quest to restore an entire kingdom from ruin and bring its destroyers to justice. Here in the Allirian Reach and in the shadow of the Portal Stone, with the faint echoes of the strange voice and its stranger message clear in her mind, was the next step. The first as a human. It was not Herr Dieter that she sought, but her other knight-superior she'd had in her initiation, Herr Elias Schulze. She'd scarce hints gleaned from sources from before and after her affliction. And she knew that Herr Elias could be here, and perhaps if not here as in the Allir Reach specifically, then wherever it was that the voice might be bidding the brave of Arethil to venture.

And so it seemed that the fate of Reikhurst would be tied into this phenomenon with the Portal Stones, the voice, the reported whisperings and failings of magic and artifacts (like the Orb of Nullification she wore in a pouch on her belt), and whatever sinister workings may lie underneath all of it. If this was a grave matter like the Pandemonium Crisis, then Heike was in the right place, whether or not she ultimately found Herr Elias.

She, with a resolve of steel and a will of iron, would set herself to the task.

And should she fail, should the hope of Reikhurst be lost with her, should she inevitably fall at the hands of whatever manner of foe may well be threatening Arethil, then the words of Elias Schulze she would live in her final moments:

Die in a manner your fellow knights would aspire to.

* * * * *​

Heike stood and pulled her sword up from the ground and placed it back into her half-scabbard. And she walked toward the gathering of adventurers of all stripes--warriors, mages, scholars--that all stood waiting and wondering and discussing among each other about the nature of the voice and the recent fickleness of magic and what it all meant. Some of them had been here for days, so it seemed. An ad hoc community of tents had been set up, fires were going, food being cooked and water being shared around and horses belonging to everyone grazing nearby. The Allir Stone was well situated within a populous region and had attracted quite the crowd to come in search of answers to the ongoing mysteries.

Heike made some cursory glances about the gathering and its collection of tents and circles of conversationalists. There were a good many people, and it might take some time to spot Herr Elias. If he was even here at this particular Stone. The hints she had gleaned were vague enough that he might not even be in the Allir Reach, but at another Stone on Epressa. But if they were all headed inextricably to a common destination, then she might well find him there.

Heike stepped close to the Stone itself. Stood before it. Canted her head up and slowly regarded the entirety of the monolithic object.

"You said to act now," Heike said, to the Stone or to the voice perhaps, but mostly to herself, voicing her thoughts quietly. "And so here we are."

Tiny movements of her eyes. Scanning the Stone. Here and there and here again.

Her hand rested on the pommel of her sheathed longsword. And she spoke quietly again, wondering through the voiced word, "What is this...peril of which you have warned us?"

She observed for a while longer. Then leveled her head and her gaze.

Started to turn away.
 

Seteta

The Dragon's Beloved
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FALWOOD STONE

“Really dear, that’s the fourth pair of boots I’ve repaired for you...and my fire is out. You’ll have to see if you can dry them.” The dragon nudged the little figure with a foot. “Dear lord, is it dead?”

Seteta rolled her eyes, but smiled fondly, despite the urgency of the moment. Chaceledon's outfit was, as usual, ridiculous for the setting, but gods if he wasn't pretty to look at.

She turned her attention back to the breathing lump of fabric she'd pulled from the river, though, and searched for a head. If Chaceledon thought she'd been filthy when she first showed up in his shop in Fal'Addas, she wondered what he would think of this poor creature.

Finally, she found a face, noticed that it seemed to be a human female, and that she was still breathing.

"Not dead," she answered Chaceledon. "She doesn't seem to have inhaled any water, either, by some miracle. But I wonder where she came from, and how she ended up in the river."

Seteta took a few moments, adjusted the girl's clothing for modesty's sake and made sure she was in a somewhat comfortable position, and returned to Chaceledon's side. Seteta wove her fingers through his.

"Do we just wait?" she asked. "I think she's just... unconscious. Not half-drowned."

Chaceledon
Tess
 

Dal

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ALLIR STONE

Amateurs all around me, Dal thought to himself as he exited a tent with a powerful plated hand as he brought himself to full height outside of the small tent he had been lodging within. He heard the laughter of his previous company emanate from the tent. Mercenaries on meagre pay and carrying tarnished equipment. No doubt making fun at my expense, Dal thought, and he readjusted his helmet in a well practiced motion as to ensure none would see his green skin. He knew he was forced to endure the untrained masses until he found the true warriors. The true heroes of action were the ones checking their gear, resting up before the fights to come. Making their pledges and reaffirming their duties.

The occupants of the tent had built up the courage to goad him into displays of masculine action over Dal's stay with the mercenaries. Dal had given them no response at first. And then came the questioning to his abilities as he declined their pastimes, they made the bold claim that he only wore armour to be left alone from a true fight. He had responded by chastising their need to prove themselves so early in the day. Arm wrestling competitions between undisciplined warriors who thought that their brute strength was something impressive. Drinking competitions that made fools of everyone involved. Bragging competitions between people who had never faced a long campaign of combat. And so had ended their brief time together. None of the faces Dal had seen recently had impressed him, and those who he had tolerated for a time were unseemly to him. It was clear from their tone of lackadaisical nonsense that they would die with a high pitched scream Dal thought as he moved away from the tent. He left them to their jokes. He had his own preparations to make and better people to associate with.

Dal headed towards a well and as he passed a group of mages dressed in yellow that were bickering amongst themselves about their spells failing and he smiled bitterly to himself. Would it be up to those who took up a blade instead of a scroll to carry the day? He could almost smell the fear about some of those who relied entirely upon their magic, their inexperience with having the rush of adrenaline as someone pursued to cut you down in mortal combat. He felt the assuring weight of his sword and crossbow about his broad back remind him of his chosen way of life and approached the bucket to draw water. Amateurs of conflict, he thought to himself as he pulled up some water to refill his wineskin. He had been mocked the previous night for only drinking water instead of the alcohol that had been flowing amongst the mercenaries with rusting halberds. Dal wanted to dress them down, to give them a lecture on maintaining equipment and one's senses before the next trials happened. But he knew that no-one everyone was a seriously minded towards the tasks ahead of them as he.

He dipped his wineskin into the bucket and watched the bubbles rise as he replenished his supply of water. As he watched the water ripple a memory emerged of a previous combat, almost twenty years ago. He had been young then, still without the shining plate mail that adorned him now. He remembered the zeal that a human knight had showed upon a bridge, a cry of challenge he had issued upon his horse when they faced off against one another. The water had been running strong underneath that stone bridge. He could almost hear it now as his gloved hand dipped into the water. The lance the knight hoisted never had chance to reach him, the crossbow that was still upon Dal's back had fired true and thrown him from his horse from a penetrating shot. And then a struggle as Dal propelled them both off the bridge. A further struggle as he had made the river his weapon.

Dal replaced the wineskin to his belt and looked around. He hummed a satisfied note to himself as he saw a knight with a longsword plant her blade into the ground by the portal stone. Good, Dal thought to himself. Good, finally, someone who is taking this as seriously. It's time I tried to ingratiate myself with a better breed of warrior. Otherwise when the fighting begins I may find myself without allies.

Dal approached; the man was a tower of steel, he seemed to wade through the crowds as if the people around him were but water. He wrapped his blue cloak closer about himself so to conceal his crossbow better. Some knights found it distasteful to use such a weapon, but Dal found it was a necessity of combat to be prepared for beasts that would make a mockery of a longsword. The orc was clad head to toe in shining plate mail, his own longsword was tightly bound to his back, and he nodded towards the knight Heike Eisen in respect as he made his introduction.

“Hail knight,” Dal said to the knight in a clear, smooth tone that had no hint of his orcish heritage, “glad to see a knight amongst this rabble. Some of the warriors I've been forced to board with barely maintain their equipment. I feel that many can't be relied upon in the fight to come. Irritating lack of professional pride in some here. I thought I should introduce myself. Who knows what's the come? What fight we may find ourselves involved in. When our backs may be against the other. Good help is hard to come by. I'm Dal. Well met,” Dal said and extended a gloved hand to shake hands.

Heike Eisen
 

Heike Eisen

Knight of the Golden Blade
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ALLIR STONE


Heike turned, and before her was a large man (too large to be Herr Elias) fully clad in plate armor. Her own helm dangled from the strap on her belt while his was on, covering his face and completing the monolith of steel that stood nearly half a foot taller than her.

One who has also undoubtedly heard the call. Few in number given the totality of the world, but many in person, and assuredly more gathered at other Portal Stones. Yet it was they who heard the enigmatic message--the same, the exact same, for all who did so hear it--and they who had answered the call and came, for any myriad number of reasons. Heike knew hers. And this man, this monolith of steel, what was his?

He hailed her. A powerful and dignified voice. And he introduced himself and extended a hand. She had no hesitation or reservation in clasping said hand and shaking heartily. The way he spoke, what he said, the manner in which he accorded himself. Of this man, Dal, Heike had a good feeling and a sterling first impression.

"Herr Heike Eisen, Knight-Valiant of Reikhurst," she said, introducing herself with her full and proper address. By the Reik crown, it felt good to say it aloud and for the first time with her vampirism cured and her humanity reclaimed. "And we are well met indeed, Dal."

She let her eyes travel over the span of the tents and the others gathered around the Portal Stone, saying as she did, "I have only just arrived, and have not had a moment to assess the character of my fellow..."

She stopped her scanning. Pondered a moment. Smiled slightly as a question occurred to her with its corresponding answer perhaps a difficult one to strike upon. Heike looked back up at Dal, "What do you suppose is a sound name for you and I and all else who have come here? Who have heard that voice and its cryptic plea and acted upon it? I would venture that there are perhaps many more who have heard this voice and elected not to come, disqualifying them from this select company."

A small shrug for an inconsequential, if interesting, thought. Mayhap it was that they needed no name, or if they were to be given one, then it would be so given by the scholars and historians who would chronicle this event and all of its transpirings.

"In any case, arrived only recently, I have," she said. "How long have you been here, Dal? Has anything of any significance yet occurred?"

Perhaps if had been here for a while, he might know something else as well. A name. Or mayhap simply seen a face among the others.

Dal
 

Tess

Skull like a Coconut, Arms like Toothpicks
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FALWOOD STONE

The pitch black of unconsciousness gave way slowly at first and her brain, usually flipping somersaults over new magic, unusual problems, and how to fix them without blowing up (or at least attempting to minimize the explosion) began to try and process what, precisely, had happened. Or, more importantly, where the hell she was.

Her brain ran down the ingrained checklist etched into her grey matter after scores and scores of similar circumstances. Are we alive? Yes. Are we breathing? Also yes. Are we wet? No, we are damp, which means we were in the river and now we are not. Are we on something solid? Yes, pretty sure that's grass under our tush. Are we alone? No, I hear voices. Are we - Wait, voices?

"GODDAMNRIVERGOBLINS" she shouted as she shot upright, eyes adjusting in her moderately concussed state. What she saw told her that unless the River Goblin tribe that had abducted her at least three times in the past few years to boil into stew had changed into a strange woman and flamboyantly dressed man who practically shouted 'look how rugged, yet stylish I look' with his impractical wardrobe (not that she could talk too much, really), then it was definitely not River Goblins. What she felt, however, was entirely different from anything goblin, concussion, or wardrobe related.

"FUGMYARMS!" came the shout as the pain shot up both of the offending limbs. The white hot agony started at her forearms which, now that she was moving, were clearly at odd angles, and traveled up past her elbows into her shoulders. The logical part of her brain said 'oh, hey, we must have had our hands out when we hit', but the little voice in the back of her brain that usually only spoke at times like this said 'dumbass', per usual. Meanwhile, the tiny part of her brain constantly not paying much attention to anything in particular piped up in the middle of the whole ordeal with 'oh, hey, our bag is still here'.

Chaceledon Seteta
 

Chaceledon

The Draconian Diva
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Chaceledon startled at the sudden outburst, laying a hand delicately over his breastbone. Good gods that half drowned little rodent of a person had pipes on her! River goblins? Chaceledon hadn’t seen any river goblins while bathing. Was she implying he was a river goblin?! He lifted his chin, insulted by the implication, and was about to correct her when another expletive shot out of her mouth. Fugmyarms? What?

Chaceledon rolled his eyes and wandered back into the woods for Rheinhard. “Hardy dear? Can you come look at something?” he asked. Seteta’s pulled a dwarf out of the river.”

His humorless son gave Chaceledon a look, but drew a long, femur-handled knife and followed the dragon to the riverbank. He peered at Tess. “That won’t feed us for more than a few days.” He pointed out.

“No not for eating, love. Can you fix those arms? I’d touch it but you never know where it’s been and it mentioned goblins. It takes hours to get-“

“Goblin stink out of silk, I know.” Volker descended the bank and looked at Tess, frowning. “You’ve shattered your elbows.” The muscular human looked her over, then up at Seteta. “If you hold, I can set the breaks.”

Tess Seteta
 

Seteta

The Dragon's Beloved
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FALWOOD STONE

Seteta bit back laughter as she watched the indignation playing over her lover's face before he finally rolled his eyes and stalked back toward where Rheinhard had set up camp. As she waited for them to return, she warily eyed the sodden, indignant human she'd pulled from the river. She thought about initiating conversation, but Rheinhard aside, her experiences with humans lately had been rather... disappointing, and this one was mostly whimpering in pain and so the Abtati figured most conversation would be futile at the moment.

So she just sat down on a rock and waited.

“That won’t feed us for more than a few days.” [Rheinhard Volker] pointed out.

“No not for eating, love. Can you fix those arms? I’d touch it but you never know where it’s been and it mentioned goblins. It takes hours to get-“

“Goblin stink out of silk, I know.” Volker descended the bank and looked at Tess, frowning. “You’ve shattered your elbows.” The muscular human looked her over, then up at Seteta. “If you hold, I can set the breaks.”

Seteta watched the human as Rheinhard mentioned eating it, wondering if the girl was going to be put off by it at all. While Seteta didn't really condone cannibalism herself, she could understand why Rheinhard often felt it necessary.

"I can hold," Seteta answered, rising from her seat and approaching the others again. Rheinhard pointed out what she needed to do, and Seteta knelt beside the girl, glancing at her face before she actually touched her.

"This will hurt," the Abtati warned, but doubted it would hurt as much as falling into the river from untold heights.

Chaceledon
Tess
 

Tess

Skull like a Coconut, Arms like Toothpicks
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FALWOOD STONE

Of course it was her elbows. It couldn't be her shins or fingers or even a cracked skull again (though the pounding headache told her that such an injury was most definitely probable as yet). No, it had to be her elbows. Again. And now some new person who looked less like a fish out of water as the other two and more like a hired thug more commonly seen in Alliria's shadier docks showed up. As the strange woman and the man with the bone-hilted knife leaned in to help her, she realized they were about to do what most healers do: poke, prod, attempt to fix.

"Nononono!" the words spilled out end over end as she scurried back, wincing as her arms twinged in pain. She started to point, thought better of it, and instead tried nodding her head at the bag over her shoulder.

"The bag! Just open the bag! I can fix myself, just open the bag and put it in front of me."

She thought a moment longer, quietly realizing that with broken elbows she couldn't do much with her hands which meant she was limited in how she could find and utilize the contents of her bag. Another moment of hesitation went by and, looking quite like a seated, bipedal, carnivorous reptile with short, vestigal arms, stuck her legs straight out in front.

"And my boots. You'll need to take them off so I can find stuff. In my bag. Cause... Hands."

Always eloquent with words, Tess shrugged and nodded at her hands which flopped uselessly, though painfully. It was definitely, most positively, not her day.

And she hadn't even gotten to eat the drumstick she'd saved from yesterday's dinner.

Chaceledon Seteta
 

Dal

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15
Allir Stone

Dal absorbed all of the musings and questions of the Knight-Valiant of Reikhurst and waited dutifully for the appropriate time to respond. The orc had served in some capacity amongst military units and he had learned that the higher up someone was within the command chain the more someone would talk to fill the air with their authority. Combat lead some to become reflective, to appreciate the quiet moments before the storm Dal knew. This one was no different. The warrior knew better than to interrupt the thoughts with a conversational disposition, to chatter and fill the air with noise when clarity was required. It made one dull to require a response to every idle thought as it fills the air of peace time. Better to allow the Knight-Valiant to speak their mind completely and respond with a totality of a military report. They preferred such ways, Dal reminded himself as he considered his response.

Dal waited until an appropriate question was raised to him. He made no movement, there was no need. He rested no hand upon a weapon, but carried himself without wasted motion. As Dal spoke he seemed as someone offering a report, not a mercenary giving idle statements or opinions. This was a man who offered his experienced mind to one who was receptive. It was welcome reprieve from the previous conversations he had to endure.

“Two days, Knight-Valiant. Nothing significant so far I'll dare say. Some restlessness about the camp, some displays of tempers flared, some minor animosity between disparate parties. But we're not all in the same unit, so there can be no punishment to remedy the foul temper. No sergeant to discipline such things. No common treasury, just ears to hear the call. No banner. The magic users complain and are fretful of their skills in such times. I cannot blame them for such disquiet. Thus, I feel the martial will carry the day with whatever challenge it springs upon us. Many are untested and may falter when the time comes. Our numbers cannot be considered fully yet, not until the first test, or skirmish. That is my answer then. We are untested, yet unbroken, curious, yet not sated. For now. Some consider it a duty to respond to the call, others consider it an opportunity. And where there are opportunists, there are questions of morale when the time comes to place one's life as a venture. Questions we won't get answers too quickly, but we'll get them, one way or another.”

Dal rolled his shoulders to alleviate some tension from them. He continued, adopting a less formal tone for a moment as he answered more honestly instead of factually. He felt more comfortable now, their initial conversation was concerned with the matter at hand instead of the conjecture of frightened whelps with their first weapon still yet unbloodied.

“Only some of us can be called concerned citizens. Most are adventurers. I've seen no knights such as yourself. Your presence is...frankly a relief. A Knight-Valiant of Reikhurst. I don't know your order. But I am glad to have you here.” Dal said.

A small gust of wind carried Dal's cloak away from his shoulder for a moment, revealing the heavy crossbow that lurked upon his back. Dal made no motion to hide such a thing now. If this knight found such a weapon distasteful than it would tell him of the kind of knight she was. A fool with too much honour, or the understanding to appreciate mixed arms. Time would tell, Dal thought. He offered a final sentence.

“Act now or forever be lost,” Dal quoted. “We're here. And ready to act. But not as one I feel. It can't be helped.” Dal stated.

Heike Eisen
 

Chaceledon

The Draconian Diva
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Rheinhard ignored Tess’ shrieking about a bag. He wasn’t about to mess with anything magical. He had been instructed to set the breaks and set the breaks he would. “Stop squirming.” He growled at her.

“I’d listen to him dear.” Chaceledon called down to them, looking back over his shoulder at the portal stone. They didn’t have time for this! The stone had said act now. Had it summoned the little creature too? Had it dropped her here? As Volker moved to pin Tess and forcibly set her elbows, Chaceledon bit his lip.

“You there, with the broken arms. Were you summoned here as well? Magic has been breaking all over Arethil...we heard the calling from the stone.” Chaceledon called. Volker was swiftly improvising splints from water and his sleeves, which the dragon disapproved of. He supposed the linen would work, but honestly. A waste of a good shirt. They didn’t even know this person. But Seteta had wanted to help and the elf had a good heart. Chaceledon was helping the small mage for her. That, and information. They couldn’t find out anything from the mage if Volker had her gutted and roasting over their campfire.

“If you do not sit still I will put you out.” Volker told Tess, flipping the blade in his hand. The femur ball, reinforced on the inside with lead, would definitely make short work of any consciousness Tess was clinging to.

Tess Seteta
 

Heike Eisen

Knight of the Golden Blade
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ALLIR STONE


Two days. A time both short and long, depending upon the perspective taken. Mayhap it was enough time to overhear a name, or to introduce and be introduced. Or not. But the matter with Herr Elias was a personal one when set beside the calling which had brought Heike and Dal and the others here. Proper, then, to set it aside until it became abundantly clear that they might have time to spare. Two more days might pass without a sign from the Stone or the voice, or two minutes. If something more in the realm of the former, then she would inquire of Herr Elias--if she herself did not spot him.

As part of that perhaps long or perhaps short meantime, she listened.

Dal spoke like a seasoned military veteran. She knew not from where he hailed, but if she had to guess from what she presently knew then she'd say that he was from Vel Anir, a former member of the Anirian Guard. She'd not been there personally, despite her dark time spent as a vampire seeing her venture to many foreign locales, but she of course knew of their military. Who did not? One could voice opinions on how they've been used by the Houses and the King who commands them, but their renown as a fighting force could not be denied. She could easily see a man like Dal as one of their number at some point in his life.

His assessment did ring true through simple observation. Heike could clearly see the ragtag nature of those assembled, they who have come together from a great many walks of life. Adventurers all, in one form or another, and of any commonality it was almost certainly by coincidence. She did not find fault with this, for what other option was there? At least at the Allir Stone, no organized force had been sent, and this--frankly--was to be expected. Where the Rising of Neha and Drakormir had been roars echoing across Arethil, with powers like the Empire responding appropriately, this--as of now--was just a whisper by comparison. Like Dal said, some saw it as duty to respond, others saw opportunity, and surely also many were simply curious as their base motivation. Hence, the ragtag nature.

Well. Should necessity dictate, Heike was a Knight-Valiant, the Order of the Golden Blade's equivalent to a sergeant. She had her own errantry of Knight-Gallants before the fall of Reikhurst. As with her Gallants, she could keep those who perhaps needed some leadership (and were willing to receive it, mind) in line as well.

But I am glad to have you here.

Heike gave an appreciative nod. How she had longed for such an immediately warm reception, one in which she need not prove her humanity that lay smothered beneath the claws and fangs and yellow eyes and pallor of a vampire. To be human again! As she had been born! There truly was no feeling like this, the joy of having reclaimed what she had thought lost forever.

The wind blew and she saw the crossbow, the limbs of it, poking around Dal's massive armored shoulder. Good, a ranged option (in lieu of magic, she would admit to the chagrin of her Reikhurstan sensibilities). Heike herself was a poor shot most of the time, so he was guaranteed to be more adept than her.

We're here. And ready to act. But not as one I feel. It can't be helped.

"It is my hope," Heike said, exhaling through her nose and eyeing the others of the ad hoc adventurer's camp set up around the Stone, "that you are mistaken in that regard to some appreciable degree. I will not be swept away on the tides of unchecked optimism, but...even a scattered people can come together, with a strong sense of purpose inspired in their hearts. I believe it to be so."

I must, she thought. And thought further of the diaspora of Reikhurstans. Her people. Proud sons and daughters, who needed only a rekindling of that pride. Perhaps...even Herr Elias himself. Troubling to think of. But Dal had said that he had seen no knights other than Heike, and Szesh had found Elias's insignia laid in the manner of rest at the Victory Arch of the Ninth King in Reikhurst. Could it be so? That Herr Elias had...?

She banished the thought. Motioned then with a gesture of her head for Dal to follow. She turned and, with nothing much that could be done regarding the Stone but refusing to relax just yet, started to walk about the perimeter of the Stone. Observing the runes at the base. Looking for changes however subtle, new runes alighted or old ones snuffed out.

She said as she did this, "Are you an Anirian, Dal? 'Tis my foremost guess."

Conversation, to better know the man who might well be fighting shoulder-to-shoulder, back-to-back with. And she had been wondering.

Dal
 

Dal

Member
Messages
15
ALLIR STONE

As Dal heard Heike's response to his assessment of the group around them he smiled wrly within his helmet. Ah, to know optimism. It was something Dal rarely afforded himself. It was too disappointing to think that there would be fellow warriors behind you as the line faltered. To stand alone as all the chaos of conflict ripped its way through sense and sinew. To cut and cut and cut again until the day was carried, with or without the initial cheerful assessment of few potential losses being shredded in kind to ribbons. He knew that his own attitude was cynical towards adventurers; he had routed enough of them once he had carved the first of an assaulting party with all the brutality that was demanded when putting down groups of assailants. His longsword had been a powerful instrument in persuading a fight to end from the first cut delivered.

He heard the question and gave a small murmur of satisfaction. He was being guessed as being part of a military body. He knew that this was a compliment. Anirians were a good unit from what he had heard and what little he had seen of their combat abilities.

“Sorry. I don't hail from a unit. Never have done. Served with some as a mercenary. Never switched sides in conflict, not like some sellswords. I take what work I can, and work when it suits.” Dal said and paused. He would normally leave it at that, but this knight deserved a more elaborate answer he thought to himself. She had earned some respect from him. He continued in a matter of fact fashion, his recounting of his history was not delivered to bring honour or respect to his name but information to a fellow warrior who took their positions in combat seriously.

“Fought in a few duels that decided skirmishes, but I've never held rank. No offer was good enough, and those who asked weren't good enough. It was nothing personal, just survival. A professional has to maintain their career while remaining alive, even if they don't have a title. I figured if I was going to join a unit they should impress me, and in my experience, none have made the grade. Never come across your kind though," Dal said, giving only the faintest hint of suggestion. He quickly continued to speak. "Would make my life a great deal simpler to follow orders, but then it's not a simple life, is it?” Dal stated simply.

Dal made a rare decision. He decided to remove his helmet. The action was slow, and it was done slowly as to punctuate the point. Upon removing his helmet it revealed his clean shaved face, his pale green skin, his calm green eyes that looked coolly upon the knight. Dal felt the familiar sensation from removing his armour, a feeling of being exposed, as one might be pierced by a crossbow bolt at any moment through the eyes.

And judged for what one appears to be.

If I'm going to trust this one, I have to know how she reacts to the truth of it, Dal thought to himself and continued to speak.

“Besides,” Dal said, cradling his helmet beside his waist, his voice lower now, more grave as he gave issue to his own countenance, “I appear as I do. I have the blood of an orc.” Dal said, as if it wasn't immediately obvious some how. It made the action more real to Dal in some way, to actually say the words and see the disgust within a warrior's face spark up and reveal the intolerance of a potential comrade. “Some focus on that,” Dal continued, “and decide what kind of fighter I am. Stereotypes about the kinds of warriors my kind creates. Berserkers. Ravagers. Pillagers. People who can't follow orders, can't hold fire, can't stop their collective growling and barking tongue that drowns out musicians and signals. I never had any truck for that manner of living. It's not really living. Not the art of combat. That reckless style of fighting. Leads one exposed. Letting the blood boil to heft an axe. I don't blame them for taking the easy route. I made a decision to be better than the rest though. I'm sure you did too, in your own way. Standards are important. Standards keep one alive. And their comrades.” Dal said and awaited the reaction with some small hope that this one would be different.
 

Seteta

The Dragon's Beloved
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259
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FALWOOD STONE

"That would be a bad idea," Seteta said in response to Tess' request for her bag to be opened. "Something's been going wrong with magic lately, and you're more likely to blow your arms off than help them. Just hold still and let Rheinhard set your bones."

Seteta was most definitely not taking the woman's boots off. Not yet, anyway.

The Abtati grimaced and shook her head at Rheinhard, though, when he threatened to knock the girl out. "She's already probably got a concussion. Let's not kill her quite yet, if we can help it."

She could see Chaceledon's attitude radiating off of him. He was annoyed. And Rheinhard was annoyed. Seteta didn't have any attachment to the human other than that she was obviously another mage, and it might be nice to have someone to talk to that wasn't an emotionally damaged male, even if the girl was human.

But either way, having a dragon and a cannibal annoyed at you was not a good place to start off a first encounter.

"So, will you let us set your arms or not?"

Chaceledon
Tess
 

Tess

Skull like a Coconut, Arms like Toothpicks
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55
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FALWOOD STONE

"Ugh, just... Just listen, okay?" Her arms hurt, her head hurt, and her hands were tingling into numbness which was, admittedly, a problem, albeit for later if she didn't get into her bag. "Yeah, magic is all screwy. Yeah, it could backfire horribly, but its affecting everything at different rates."

She took a deep breath, her brow furrowing as her brain ran painful laps in her head while seemingly pounding a large drum in horrible rhythm. Tess hated explaining things in crisis situations. She much preferred the basic action-reaction of reading and adapting to things rather than take precious minutes away for pointless explanations for data crunching she could do much faster in her head.

"Magic is failing at a higher rate for cast spells, ritual enchantments, and what are considered 'active' spells. Enchantments are on the same sliding scale, but only at twenty-one-point-four percent stability loss compared to active spells which are currently at forty-eight-point-one-one percent stability loss. Reactive magic such as potion making only dropped eleven-point-zero-two percent stability while alchemical magic is usually not magic at all outside of catalytic conversion which devolves into arcane string theory which ain't important right now."

She jabbed her foot at the others indignantly and huffed.

"My bag is currently at maybe eighty-four percent stability," she stated plainly, admittedly leaving out that the number was compared to where it was that morning rather than normally. "All I need is to pull three Sand Newt eyes, four jade dragonfly wings, and a pint of Spine Tiger blood. Toss it in a flask, simmer for two minutes, and my elbows will be fine. Intermediate alchemy one oh one and no one has to yank my arms or make me wear splints for a month."

Her explanation done, she stuck her feet out once more for her boots to be removed.

Chaceledon Seteta
 

Chaceledon

The Draconian Diva
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299
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Chaceledon rolled his eyes. Honestly, who could keep up with all that? Maths were his worst subject even at the best of times, and Rheinhard could only add and subtract. Oor hadn’t been big on continuing education, after all. The dragon looked back at the stone as the girl continued to rattle off percentages.

Rheinhard listened until she stopped talking. “Fascinating.” He said in his usual flat inflection, and yanked her left arm straight with a resounding pop. “Now for your right. Still. You can do whatever you please after I set this.”

Chaceledon hid a smile, and gathered a small bundle of sticks for arm braces. The girl could get whatever she wanted out of her bag when Rheinhard was done. With her arms in place moving them would be incredibly painful, but they’d be functional. Rheinhard put his hand on the other arm, and froze. He blinked, as though confused about where he was, and his eyes locked on Tess. His grip tightened.

Chaceledon swore and threw down the sticks.
Seteta!” He yelled after her, throwing his white coat on the bank. He knew that body language, and the slow grin spreading across Rheinhard’s face. He gripped Tess’ arm tighter, and moved to rotate the broken bones.
Seteta
Tess
 

Seteta

The Dragon's Beloved
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Seteta had no idea what nonsense Tess had just spouted, and while half of her face was obscured by the headscarf, her eyes clearly belayed her confusion and skepticism. To be honest, the Abtati hadn't even understand most of what Tess said. She could hold a conversation in the Common tongue, and her vocabulary has been steadily improving during her time with Rheinhard and Chaceledon, but she wouldn't consider herself fluent by any means.

She barely even noticed as Rheinhard set the first arm, and her continued bafflement as she tried to sort out Tess' words in her head were the only excuse she could find for missing the moment that Rheinhard became not-Rheinhard again.

Chaceledon swore and threw down the sticks. Seteta!”

The warning in his voice had become all too familiar over the last several days. The Well. She didn't even glance over at Rheinhard-not-Rheinhard before moving, pulling the knife from the sheath on her thigh and smoothly pressing the bladed edge to his throat, knocking his hands away from Tess's arm.

"Don't move," she warned as Chaceledon approached. "Either of you."

She searched Rheinhard-not-Rheinhard's eyes, and recognized the expression there. "Hello again, Klaus," she muttered.

Whatever the blazing sands was going on with magic, she hoped it would be fixed. Soon.

Chaceledon
Tess
 

Tess

Skull like a Coconut, Arms like Toothpicks
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55
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FALWOOD STONE

Excruciating pain was the response for her whole ten seconds of magical mumbo jumbo, which was upsetting half because she put a whole ten seconds of nonsense together to try to get out of painful bone setting and half because painful bone setting. That was, of course, until Tall Dark and Murderous changed from plain old murderous to Deluxe Murderous.

The foppish stranger gave a shout and the strange lady whipped out a knife and next thing she knew, everything stood on a knife edge of tension. With one arm ever so slowly becoming marginally less painful and the other no longer held, but unset, she curled the fingers of her set arm very carefully and intricately. It was a small spell, weakened somewhat by the current goings on, but if she needed it and it didn't fizzle, it might give her a split second to not die if needed.

"Sooo..." she started, pain making her voice a bit hoarse. "He okay? Almost looked like he sorta went off the deep end there?"

Chaceledon Seteta
 

Chaceledon

The Draconian Diva
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Chaceledon paused, halfway to Seteta. Gods why had he thrown his coat like that? He’d only been thinking of getting Klaus away from her. Thankfully, Seteta always moved quickly and she was becoming more alert to Rheinhard’s fracturing. They needed to change this magic...and soon.

“Ah, and here I was thinking you’d changed your mind about playing with me.” Klaus set a foot on Tess’ chest. He leaned in slightly to the knife, causing blood to trickle down the blade a bit. “I like how you flirt.” He gently grasped the blade and drew it down over his collarbone.

“Put Rheinhard back in charge or I’ll put you in the forest door. I mean it. Just because the spell is compromised doesn’t mean you have to constantly cause trouble.” Chaceledon sounded sharp, like a parent disciplining a child. “Now.”

Klaus’ grin faded and he sneered at the dragon. “Fine, mom.” He growled, and Rheinhard immediately stumbled back, shaking his head a bit. He put a hand to the cut. Not deep. Just enough to sting. He flicked the blood away.

“Klaus enjoys pain, don’t threaten him with weapons. He is a masochist.” Volker told Seteta, and looked down at Tess. He silently grabbed her bag, and set it gingerly on her chest. Perhaps it was best he wasn’t near anyone...especially anyone injured. He headed back up into the tree line and Chaceledon fetched his coat with an irritated sigh.


“Thank you Seteta. Look, whatever you are...magic is malfunctioning everywhere. Especially in my son. I don’t have time for this.” The dragon said irritably. “If that bag will fix you, fix yourself then.”

Seteta
Tess
 

Seteta

The Dragon's Beloved
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Seteta's lip twitched with disgust behind her headscarf.

“Ah, and here I was thinking you’d changed your mind about playing with me.” Klaus set a foot on Tess’ chest. He leaned in slightly to the knife, causing blood to trickle down the blade a bit. “I like how you flirt.” He gently grasped the blade and drew it down over his collarbone.

Malice gleamed in her eyes. Just a twitch of her wrist, and she could take his head off. Sever his jugular. But she wouldn't do that to Rheinhard, because he would be the one paying the consquences, no matter how much she wanted to take Klaus out of the situation entirely. Permanently.

She sighed with relief when Chaceledon arrived. He was the only person that seemed to be able to reason with Klaus in any sensible way, and fortunately Klaus was cooperating within moments.

“Klaus enjoys pain, don’t threaten him with weapons. He is a masochist.” Volker told Seteta, and looked down at Tess.

Seteta quirked an eyebrow, and looked Rheinhard over from head to toe. "If he was even out, then it meant magic was hiccuping again," she stated, wiping the blood off her knife with her coat and sheathing it again. "I may be an elf, but your body is still far stronger than mine, and he is far more skilled than I am. If I can't use my weapons, then I am defenseless. And at least, in this case, it distracted him from her." She nodded back at Tess, then silently watched as Rheinhard set the woman's bag on her chest and walked away.

Her heart ached for him. As much as whatever was happening with magic was disconcerting and worrying... Rheinhard relied on magic to keep himself sane. It was impossible to comprehend what he was going through.

“Thank you Seteta. Look, whatever you are...magic is malfunctioning everywhere. Especially in my son. I don’t have time for this.” The dragon said irritably. “If that bag will fix you, fix yourself then.”

"Of course, sehejib," she murmured quietly before kneeling next to Tess again. "Now, tell me what you need from the bag."

"Sooo..." she started, pain making her voice a bit hoarse. "He okay? Almost looked like he sorta went off the deep end there?"

"His family is cursed," Seteta explained simply. Curse might not be the correct terminology, but the effect was the same overall. "The men's souls do not pass on after death, but are contained within the youngest of them. The spell that maintains it, and keeps Rheinhard in control, has been failing with the rest of magic. The one just now was Rheinhard's father, Klaus. It is best that neither you nor I are alone with Rheinhard until all of this" --Seteta waved vaguely in the air, clearly meaning magic-- "is back under control."

Tess
Chaceledon