Titanfall Preventing Disaster

For threads related to the Titanfall event of 2021

Tess

Skull like a Coconut, Arms like Toothpicks
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At the word nonsense, Tess's ears perked up. If you asked half the people who had met her, they'd say that nonsense was exactly what she was absolutely perfect for. They may not say it to her face, true, but it was certainly her area of expertise to an extent.

"Not a clue, I wasn't listening," she said, distracted slightly as she tried to put her enchanted bag back over her shoulders without functional arms. It was harder than it looked, but unsurprisingly she'd been in enough similar positions that she was adequately practiced for the task. "Something something runes. Something something catastrophy. Something something moons."

She managed to get the strap over her head and around her neck by bracing against a tree and flipping the strap over with her teeth, though lost her wide brimmed, pointed, somewhat floppy hat in the process. Long, dark hair managed to go everywhere, hiding her face for a moment. She shook her head, locks of hair flying this way and that, until she could see properly enough to spot her hat laying in the dirt.

"Educated guess is we may have to do some magical tinkering, maybe some literal carving, to make the runes in question, though it may be that we need to find them somewhere nearby. I figure we'll either come out in the Ixchel Wilds, which will be fun. I've been there before and a good buddy of mine is from the area, so we would be fine. Orrrr we wind up in a sea somewhere, which would be less fine and no fun at all. Adrift at sea is no way to spend a weekend," she thought a moment, her mind probing another possibility like one would tongue a missing tooth. "Then again, it could be a sort of... allusion to something. A new place or some such. Not likely, but exploring a new land would be a trip to remember for sure."

She peered at her hat and wondered if magic was working well enough for the enchantment to work. She squared up at the hat, her eyes gazing intensely at the damp, mildly squashed hat on the ground. Suddenly, she whistled like one would call a dog and the hat moved all at once.

No, the magic wasn't working properly. Or, perhaps, the enchantment wasn't. Either way, instead of hopping up and landing neatly, if a little too firmly (she never did get around to working out that particular kink), on her head, the headgear flung itself at her head and caught her in the face sending her falling backwards with a muffled shout.

Seteta Chaceledon
 
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Heike Eisen

Knight of the Golden Blade
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ALLIR STONE


Studied the runes since she was very young, this orcish scholar--Pern--has. Heike, while at the not quite as young ages of seventeen and eighteen, was struggling through a class on the basics of arcane familiarity, taught to squires of the Order by one of Reikhurst's own court wizards. Magic, by its very nature, wasn't constrained by the burden of necessarily making sense within the context of the physical world. For instance, the constant "pull of Arethil" ensured that what goes up must come down...unless magic was involved, and tweaked that rule. So and so on for a great many rules. Yes, of course it bore mentioning that there were as many benevolent uses of magic as there were malevolent, but still, was it any wonder that the citizenry of Reikhurst harbored a general suspicion of magic?

Pern could be right, Joseph could be right, and so far as Heike knew one of those loud theorizers that Dal rightfully had a poor impression of could be right. What did make perfect sense to Heike out of all of this was the stated fact that debate and conjecture had been going on for years among scholars. Hmm, of course it had.

At least Heike knew how to operate the Portal Stone. Necessity for practicality was often a great learning aid.

"And these two different locations will have their ways opened to us..." She considered the best answer. Finished with, "...sometime." Tonight, or on the morrow, on the morrow's morrow. Whatever the true meaning of "height" was with reference to the moons. Hopefully it was as straightforward as it sounded.

Dal summed up the matter efficiently, by Heike's reckoning. The Portal Stones each needed some manner of ritual performed at them and this ritual required these lost runes for its enactment.

And there, of course, was the underlying question to all of this: why now? What has so prompted the beginnings of this disaster? It was perhaps still preventable, yet what had caused this downward spiral to commence its ruinous spin? Perhaps such an answer would be forthcoming, from the undoubtedly powerful wizard behind the arcane call to action.

Do we have a hope of making this journey as we are?

"As we are," Heike said, "is all we've got."

She could not speak of the other Portal Stones, who may or may not be there and the overall quality of the Gathered present at them, but the same would hold true. It was an immutable and tragic fact that the motivation for preventing disaster paled in its intensity to the motivation for its impassioned rectifying after it has already struck. She was one to know.

"In any case, we've some waiting to do, so it would well seem," she said with a slight upward glance to the sun. It could be that there would scarcely be time for it in the future, so now was the opportune moment to ensure they were well-fed and refreshed. To Dal, Pern, even Joseph, "Shall we break bread, then?"

Joseph looked up from his notes. Said, "Oh. I could make for us all a lovely cup of tea."

Dal Pern
 
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Seteta

The Dragon's Beloved
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Seteta just shrugged at Chaceledon's mention of time. They'd never kept formal time in her Abtati tribe, simply marking the passage of the sun, moons, and stars. They would be at their height when they were... at their height.

When Chaceledon suggested making camp, Seteta sighed. "We could," she stated, "Or we could just join Rheinhard at the camp he already set up and keep an eye on the passage of the moons. And I promise, no one will get eaten by bugs or monsters."

At least not if I have any say in the matter, she thought, then turned her attention to the mage.

As the other mage began spouting, well, nonsense again, Seteta retracted her previous thought. Actually, she can be the decoy while Chaceledon and I make a run for it.

"I should have left her in the river," Seteta mumbled with a mild scowl as the mage's hat tried to strangle its owner. "Clearly she's already half-drowned and it damaged her mind."

She turned to Chaceledon then, ignoring the struggling, useless mage. "The runes of stone, wood, and metal will be simple enough to manage, though the assortment of elements seems... rather strange. But what about the runes of blood? I don't know if it needs to be a rune written in blood on some sort of neutral element, or if all of it needs to be made of blood."

Chaceledon
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Ezra Archiva

Summoner of Elbion
Elbion College
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ELBION STONE

Ezra sat on a log nearby the campfire that had been set up by Mirielle's guardsmen, stoking the fire. Hearing the footsteps of Mirielle, he glanced up to meet her gaze. "Feel free to take a seat," he commented, gesturing about them.

Putting a finger to his lips, the college mage considered and mused the question posed to him. "It does feel like there's some correlation... If that was the case, though, what would be stopping us from crafting the runes right here and now? None of the materials that voice spoke about seemed too specific or esoteric—the blood's a bit uncomfortable, mind." With how intricate those runes got, he doubted he'd have the constitution for drawing three separate ones with his own blood, assuming that was indeed the meaning.

"Like you said, them being specifically mentioned as being together in groups of six, that seems to go against that theory. I can't think of any of the stones that are grouped together like that, especially when you consider they have to be near the areas we thought of earlier."

Recalling the transcript she had given him once the voice had finished speaking, he pulled it out and scanned over it once more. "Apparently, though, this voice will be taking us there at the height of each of the moons. We'll have to keep an eye on the portal stone near that time, then, just in case it's a 'whoever is nearest gets to go' type of scenario."

Mirielle Merlon
 
Wilds Start New

Velaeri

Judgemental Catbird
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As the day waned on across the expansive lands of Arethil, tension grew among The Gathered surrounding the stones. Differing ideas and opinions on the curious riddle offered by the voice could be heard echoing throughout the areas of each.

Some people left, incapable of coming to agreement, or perhaps too scared to continue on. Maybe bored. Adventure was rarely easy to navigate or predict.

Magic continued to wax and wane, and as the evening drew ever darker it felt as though magic were dissipating into the air. Those who knew its touch could feel it leaving them and the magical items they carried.

In Elbion, the floating pieces of the college and city slowly began to settle back to the ground.

In Vel Anir, the Dreadlords found their greatest asset dwindling with every breath.

All across the continents the skies began to take on a strange shade of green-grey, as though a massive storm were coming. Large shadows could be seen falling from the clouds. The skystreams were failing, spitting out airborne commuters into random lands.

The dark forest surrounding the Eldyr Tree began to fade, its menacing presence seeping away into nothingness.


The first moon approached its height.

The Portal Stones suddenly gushed with magical energy, the runes glowing bright green - but it was frenetic and unstable.

The way to the Wilds is open.
 

Pern

Thish Ishn't a Time For Jokesh
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"I shupposhe the besht thing to do now ish wait ... and perhapsh deshide which playsh we wish to go?"

Pern smiled faintly, an expression that spoke of her uncertainty and mayhaps a bit of discomfort at the situation. Who could really be comfortable with it? She joined the others for a small meal, whiling away the twilight hours in listening to their shared stories and poring over notes in various books and journals kept in her bag.

It was decided at some point that their small group would go to the wilds. Pern made a point that the two knights in their full armor might not fare well in large bodies of water. Plus, she couldn't swim.

When the Portal Stone awoke again, Pern was ready. They couldn't be sure what "height of the moon" meant, but it behooved them to prepare for the more immediate height. She'd packed up her things and slung her bag over her shoulder, then moved to stand near the stone to wait.

Others were looking at them curiously, some even moved to join them.

"Wilds?" said an elf of long, brown hair.
Pern nodded to him, "Yesh."
"I'm Frey," said the elf.
"Pern," she replied.
"I like my chances with you lot better than the group of mages prepping for the Sea," he nodded his head toward the group that Dal had watched bicker earlier, "and I'm more familiar with forest than I am open water. Hopefully this venture proves more useful than deadly."

Heike Eisen
 

Chaceledon

The Draconian Diva
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Chaceledon felt himself growing colder as the evening grew colder. At first he just thought it was the nature of where they were; after all, the Falwood stone wasn’t the warmest area in the world. It was no Amol-Kalit. It was when he attempted to blow a plume of his flame into the campfire Rheinhard set that he realized it was more than that. Magic was fading.

A cold feeling hit his gut like he’d been swallowing ice water. Seteta? Tess? Get close to the fire. Backs to it. Now, please.” his voice was calm, but with a sense of urgency. He wasn’t going to risk Klaus popping out again, not with the Well destabilized. He looked toward the stone, which flared a deep shade of green. The wilds were open. Those were their first set of seals.

Rheinhard came toward the fire, but it was clear he wasn’t doing well. A long blood trail down his lips and chin from his nose made him look like a bull at the end of a baiting fight. Chaceledon tensed, but his son shook his head.

“It is still...me.” He said, and snorted a small spray of blood on the ground to clear his nostrils. Chaceledon nodded, and looked worriedly at the stone. He wasn’t sure what to do.

Seteta
Tess
 
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Tess

Skull like a Coconut, Arms like Toothpicks
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FALWOOD STONE

She managed to get the hat back on her head with a moderate amount of difficulty and she was pretty sure it wasn't the right way around, but at least it was on her head. Tess got to her feet, careful not to fall over or, worse, drop her hat again, when the fancy dandy man spoke. So far, his voice had been a mix of mildly irate to foppishly caring (when directed at the woman, Seteta, if Tess remembered right), but now it was absurdly calm. Dangerously calm. It caught her attention and she immediately picked up the urgency in his voice.

She said nothing, but followed the instructions to the letter. Back to fire, facing outwards, waiting for danger - at least, after she made sure the back hem of her robes were clear of said fire. The last thing she needed was to accidentally light herself on fire. Again. For the fourth time this week.

The stone began acting strangely, the magic within fluctuating and pulsating. Tess mentally likened it to one of those newfangled bouy things you found sometimes in Alliria; a float chained to a weight dancing on the waves. Only this time, the chain was in the middle of a hurricane and holding by luck, rust, and a three foot thick ball of old seaweed. She nearly spouted out a litany of details that no one wanted or needed to hear when the Tall Dark and Murder You returned. He looked rougher than before, if that were possible, but slightly less homicidal, which wasn't exactly the most reassuring thing in the world if she were asked, which she wasn't. That said, she couldn't exactly ignore the magical instability a few feet away and voiced her opinion, sans technical verbage.

"The portal stone is unstable at best. I figure its a fifty fifty shot that its sucking in magic or failing to produce it in quantities enough to stabilize universal magic. Either way, pretty sure it'll flip generations of study on its ear," she said, pausing only a moment before a thought jumped the queue to the front of her brain. "It... um... Its not gonna explode, is it?"

She could only handle one explosion a day and she didn't feel like exceeding her quota for two days in a row.

Chaceledon Seteta
 
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Seteta

The Dragon's Beloved
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Seteta felt it, perhaps before the others with her, perhaps not. Even though she wasn't barefoot, when she stood on the earth she could still have some sense of the magic whether she was using it or not. Even the past few weeks, when it faltered and wavered, even when it blipped out completely, it had still been there in the background, even if she couldn't touch it. Now, it was receding, and while the earth may have still been beneath her feet, it felt... strangely empty.

She saw Chaceledon shiver from time to time, felt a tendril of fear twist around her spine. What happens to a magical creature if magic is gone? she pondered with horror. Can they even live?

As the evening progressed, Seteta quietly worked on her own, off to the side. She scrounged for any scrap metal she could find in the wagon, and any small stones or pebbles from the nearby shore, any that felt like good conduits for magic. Wood was simple enough to acquire, but blood... she didn't know yet if the instructions had simply meant a rune inscribed with blood... or if the entire medium had to be blood. So she gathered extra of the rest.

All while keeping an eye on Chaceledon, Tess, and Rheinhard.

So when Chaceledon tried to breathe his purple flame, she saw, and saw him fail, and she was already gathering the rune supplies and hurrying back to the fire when he spoke.

Seteta? Tess? Get close to the fire. Backs to it. Now, please.” his voice was calm, but with a sense of urgency.

Tess was already there when she took up her place, and Seteta positioned herself between the other mage and Chaceledon, dropping the rune-making items to the ground as she withdrew her knife, ready to defend herself--and Tess, to some extent, because even if the mage was useless, there were few in existence who actually deserved to be the subject of Klaus'... affections--if Chaceledon could not appease the Volker.

She saw the portal stone flare green, glanced up to see that the first moon was already at its height--where had the time gone?--but turned her focus to the matter at hand. Rheinhard approached, almost stumbling, and when he spoke, Seteta's relief was nearly palpable.

“It is still...me.” He said, and snorted a small spray of blood on the ground to clear his nostrils.

Seteta didn't move away from the fire, though. She'd seen how quickly Rheinhard could lose control when the Well was destabilized. But she did crouch down and retrieve the things she'd dropped, tucking them away in her satchel as Tess began to speak.

"The portal stone is unstable at best. I figure its a fifty fifty shot that its sucking in magic or failing to produce it in quantities enough to stabilize universal magic. Either way, pretty sure it'll flip generations of study on its ear," she said, pausing only a moment before a thought jumped the queue to the front of her brain. "It... um... Its not gonna explode, is it?"

The Abtati gave a deprecating glance at Tess over her shoulder. The mage was still spouting off unfamiliar terms faster than Seteta could keep up with, but she had understood the portal stone is unstable at best and something about taking in all the magic or being unable to stabilize it, and she'd definitely understood it's not gonna explode is it.

"I doubt any of us know if it will explode or not," Seteta muttered. "And it's not just the portal stone that's unstable... it's everything. But as for magic... hopefully it just needs more right now than it can access or make the rest of the time."

Seteta continued to watch Rheinhard for any sign of his behavior changing.

"Wherever we go, he won't be able to come with us, will he, sehejib?" she quietly asked Chaceledon. "By the time we reach the portal, this path might be closed to us. So we should plan for the oceans."

Chaceledon
Tess
 
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Chaceledon

The Draconian Diva
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Chaceledon bit his lip, looking from the stone to Rheinhard. No. He wouldn’t be able to come. The last thing they needed was Klaus in the driver’s seat in the middle of the oceans. It would be like sharing a rowboat with a shark. A rabid shark. He took a deep, shuddering breath and wrapped his robe around his body. It was cold. Freezing, and getting colder by the second. He wiped Rheinhard’s face with his sleeve, probably the only time he seemed not to care about his clothing, and cradled his cheek.

“Darling, will you be alright here by yourself? Can you put Nestor in charge?” he asked quietly. Rheinhard nodded shakily, and stood up straight. He pushed Chaceledon away in disgust and wiped his nose, looking at the blood.

“It’s not gone well in there.” Nestor told Chaceledon sharply. “Blotting papers. You. Tiny mage; I can’t be arsed to learn your name. Goldenseal and celery root; do you have any? Alder bark as well. Chaceledon, your last alexandrite.” He held out a hand to the dragon, who hesitated.

“...Nestor dear...it’s the last one from my dahn’s estate-“

“Oh, I’m sorry, does this not constitute an emergency?” Nestor’s eyes were hard. “By all means, save it for some ridiculous frippery. I’m sure we’ll all appreciate it after we’re reincarnated.”

Chaceledon sighed angrily and searched along the lining of his robe. He found a small lump and picked out a few stitches, pulling free an extraordinary purple stone. It caught the light and changed into a deep blue-violet in the sun, as though it were clasping the sun rays to it. It changed in the light even as Chaceledon dropped it into Nestor’s waiting hand. It was the last scrap of magic he had from his estate, from his parents.

“Should keep the Well stable for a little while. Your father had strong magic for a dragon.” Nestor told him. Chaceledon’s eyes hadn’t moved from the stone, and didn’t until Nestor cleared his throat. “Shall I leave you two alone for an apology or can you man up and get through that damned portal?”

Chaceledon rolled his eyes and took out a few scraps of paper from his pocket. He bit his cheek, and blotted up the blood with the papers, handing them to Nestor. Dragon blood, and freely given. It was a powerful component.

Tess


Seteta
 
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Dal

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The numbers of the Gathered dwindled by a small measure, the curious turned coward, the adventurous turned wary, the enthusiastic turned cool to the task before them. Some still yet remained despite this thinning. Dal felt the crackle of magic from the portal stone and observed as the energies spiralled into life. The light that arced from the runes of the portal stone illuminated Dal's armour in violent neon shades of green as he lingered near the device. With a practiced shrug he removed the longsword from his back and exchanged his grip to the left hand as he prepared himself for what was to come. He rolled his shoulders to get the blood flowing, to ready himself for the first sword stroke that would be required. He didn't doubt there would be some violence to justify his presence, it wasn't only a matter of time. Voices didn't call from the void if it was a simple task.

Dal had broken bread with the curious company he now found himself part of. He kept himself to himself and made light conversation, his thoughts being upon the future engagement ahead of them all. And now, it was all happening.

Could be anything on the other side of all this arcane noise, Dal thought and smiled at the prospect of putting himself into action. He felt the assurance of all his armour being properly in place and looked around for those who were willing to enter. Upon seeing Pern he approached and stayed close to her.

“The time's now it seems,” Dal said with a growl of excitement in his voice. He could feel the smile upon his face. No more waiting. No more theories. Action from those willing to dive into this madness.

“We ready to step forward?” Dal asked and looked around for Heike. He hoped that for all their sakes she would appear promptly before the task.

Heike Eisen

 

Heike Eisen

Knight of the Golden Blade
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ALLIR STONE


Heike had been quite fortunate to secure the backing of the Alanthis Trade and Co. Such had procured the information which led eventually to a successful cure for her vampirism, the rapid forging of her armor in its distinctive style and her rearming with a familiar longsword, and as well a horse that she could use for travel and the carrying of gear and supplies that she now needed as a human. Her horse she had left with the mounts of many others (though as the day progressed into night, many of those mounts would be gone along with their masters) and she had gone to it and gotten travel rations for herself and some to share from the saddlebags.

They had a quiet, pleasant time. Talking and eating and talking some more to pass the time until the moons could be visible in the darkening sky. Heike reminisced of home, speaking not as if Reikhurst had fallen five years ago but as if it were still alive, its figurative heart still beating. Joseph had a look that suggested he knew, but he did not say or make reference to the fall, and for that Heike was thankful.

Strangeness. In the sky. As the night settled upon Arethil. Heike looked with no reserved wariness to the peculiar color coiling in the night sky, to the tiny falling black specks made visible as they transited down through this greenish color and before they would disappear into the normal darkness.

Then came the height of the first moon. This evident by the alighting of the runes despite no one having done anything to them. Green. A green to match that of the sky, one might rightly say. Yet it flickered like a first-year College student's initial forays in their spellcasting.

"And so this must be the way to these 'Wilds' then," Heike said, standing just before the Portal Stone and that five-meter radius of barren land common to them all.

Others came. Some who were left, at any rate. Frey, an elf, and Heike introduced herself as well after Pern. Some rough mercenary, fortune-seeker types were coming, perhaps under the impression that there just might be riches on the other side of this journey. Not many after that. Joseph, knowing well his role as a historian and most certainly not as a fighter, opted to stay behind, and he busied himself with documenting what he saw occurring about them.

Heike had her gauntleted hand on the hilt of her sheathed longsword. Now was the time, as Dal had said. Time to see just what awaited them in these Wilds, to see some shimmer of the true scope of this peril that endangered Arethil. Mayhap...even to see Herr Elias, should he come to the Wilds and not wait for the way to open to the Sea.

Dal spoke. We ready to step forward?

Heike donned her helm. Her vision constrained then to the thin line of the visor.

"Yes," she said. And a bristling of anticipatory excitement went shivering through her. This deed, what battle may come or not, regardless, she was to do this as a human. As the woman she had been born as.

"Lang Lebe der König." Spoken in the old tongue in the region of Reikhurst. Long Live the King, in Common. And this a maxim of many uses. Here as a motivating force, as one of the last proud carriers of that dwindling language, and this was a reminder of her duties before she set a proper foot forward in this endeavor.

Heike walked into the circle about the Portal Stone, and she was taken elsewhere in the blink of an eye.

Dal Pern
 
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Jürgen Kaiser

The Third King, Slaughterer of Reikhurst
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CROBHEAR STONE


Jürgen and his Host watched the drastic and sudden change in the Portal Stone, and the leadership of the Host set to conversing.

"What need have we of traversing into these Wilds or that Sea?" said Lucius Reik.

"There may yet be...interesting creatures," said Lord Mulder. "Useful ones. Deadly and loyal ones, with the right...experimentation and application of vampiric blood."

"I agree with Commander Lucius," Jürgen said. Perhaps if the Wargheits had not failed their test, then he would be more willing to allow that little deviation for the sake of Lord Mulder's monster-crafting. But it had not been so. "We need not devote any manpower to this. At other Stones there are surely others like those who lay dead at our feet. Let them go. Let them play this game and let them perhaps join in with the dead. We need only wait here, and disrupt whosoever might come to enact that ritual at this Stone. If they should even acquire all twelve of those runes."

If--as well--such an effort was worth it. The decision would have to be made in the seat of the saddle, as the saying went. This peculiar event, with its unnatural aurora shimmering in the sky and far-reaching voice speaking of great peril, might provide a useful diversion for the myriad interloping vagabonds of Arethil, but Jürgen was not prepared to commit much to this. Better it would be, should the odds even appear slightly out of their dominating favor, to simply withdraw. Reikhurst, and his coming Ritual that would take place therein, were paramount.

"Sire," said the Dread Lady. "Mayhap...it would be useful to know...what is transpiring among the living...they who are venturing forth..."

Jürgen considered this. "A spy, then."

"Yes...Sire."

"It would by necessity have to be one of yours, Mina." Jürgen's own Slaughtern vampires could not use the Portal Stones, no. Not with their inherent magic dampening.

"Of course..." said the Dread Lady. "And I know...the perfect candidate..."
 
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Ruins of Harth Landing New

Velaeri

Judgemental Catbird
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For those who were familiar with travel by portal stone, they might recall the whispers and echoes of voices that had haunted these magical pathways for as long as anyone could remember. While historian nor mage could explain their origins or purpose, many had suspected they were tied to the lost souls of those who had built the portal stones themselves.

Recent developments over the last few weeks of the voices growing louder, and a heartbeat joining the din, made many believe that hypothesis was not so wrong.

Tonight, however, the voices were gone. The heartbeat had stopped. The feeling of magic shifting bodies across vast expanses of land was more disorienting and uncomfortable than ever. As if it were being forced, instead of happening as part of a natural inclination of the world's magic. Speculations about the dangers of travel by portal stone never felt more justified than now...

The Gathered that had chosen the Wilds suddenly spilled into chamber faintly lit by what looked like daylight above. They found themselves collected in a heap around a portal stone, but not one that anyone had ever seen or used before. It was surrounded by a strange mechanical apparatus that some might qualify as an outdated form of alchemy.

Strangely, this stone radiated magic like a fire did warmth, unimpeded by what seemed to be effecting the rest of Arethil.

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They had landed in a place once known as the Ruins of Harth.

Pern Dal Heike Eisen
 
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Heike Eisen

Knight of the Golden Blade
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Heike, along with many of the other Gathered who had come through, collapsed down to her hands and knees upon appearing at the destination. Hell's fury! She had always found travel via the Portal Stones to be extremely unpleasant--this the most charitable way in which to describe it--but what she had just experienced was something else. Seldomly she had used the Portal Stones before her affliction, and though she could not at all use them while she was a Slaughtern vampire, she didn't remember travel through them to be this bad. Not even close. Those strange, myriad whispers were gone, as was the heartbeat, but it was almost as if in their absence the nauseating effects of the Stones' magic had worsened. She had hoped that her Incorruptibility gained via the Path of Purity might protect her from the debilitating effects of using the Stones, but it had not, no more than it would protect her from the sickening dizziness from being spun about rapidly and then abruptly brought to a halt. In that way, Heike surmised, travel via the Portal Stones was a lot like falling in a haphazard spiral through the vast space of the world, tumbling at an otherwise impossible speed across many, many miles, and then slamming to a sudden stop at the destination.

Heike groaned. With lamentation at first, then with irritation that she had fallen down and had not yet gotten back to her feet. She grit her teeth, then forced herself to stand as her swimming head--at last--began to settle.

And she took in the sight around them. Narrowing her brow as she slowly turned her head and surveyed her surroundings. A chamber, one of a particularly ancient character, not the center of some expansive wilderness. Her eyes found the most pertinent and immediate details to be the broken golems, the scattered bones (some of which had curved horns on their skulls), the evidence that some manner of battle had occurred in an age long past.

"This is...not what I expected. Not in the slightest," she said aloud to Dal and Pern. Judging from similarly confused or astonished faces among the other Gathered, the sentiment was shared.

Dal Pern
 
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Dal

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Dal felt the tumbling, whirling sensation as he traversed through the portal. His thoughts remained to clutching his gear as he travelled, the sensation of being ripped from the centre of the self pervaded him. It was as if he was falling off a great winged beast and still felt the tug of riding equipment drag about his person as he fell.

A plated knee crunched into the ground and steel was ripped from the scabbard. Dal's eyes were darkened for a moment, yet the sword remained within his grip. A breath as things cleared from his eyes. Another breath as sound returned to his ears. And then, he was upon his feet again, staggered, yet ready.

He heard his comrade speak, and he looked for himself.

Sight of a combat, some time ago. No hoards of enemies, yet. Quiet.

“I was expecting someone to defend this place. Apparently it was defended long ago by...hmm.” Dal said and took a few steps towards some skulls. Beasts of some kind.

“Well, we're here and it's quiet. Small mercies,” Dal said, although he did not replace his sword within the scabbard. He remained still and listened for any movement.

"Where to Pern?" Dal said with authority as as he turned the blade about in his hand idly.

Pern

Heike Eisen

 

Pern

Thish Ishn't a Time For Jokesh
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If Pern had any idea what she was expecting, she wasn't sure she would have been right in any instance. As she picked herself up off the ground, offering a hand to their new elfen travel companion, she found herself leaning against something to steady her spinning head.

That something happened to be the strange metallic device surrounding the portal stone, and it hummed with a strange electric warmth. The pulsing of the power radiating from the stone was enough to send a buzz through her bones - Pern immediately pushed away and gave it a look of alarm.

"Ish thish ... familiar to you, Frey?"
"Not in the least,"
the elf replied, straightening his garb, "though I daresay we've stumbled upon something of dwarven remnants."
"How can you tell?"
"The knotwork chiseled into the walls."

Now that her eyes had adjusted to the faint blue glow from above, she found herself in agreement and nodded. Her bare foot hit a pile of bones as she moved about and she frowned as Dal gave his assessment of the state of things.

"Where to Pern?"

Frowning, the orc made a noise of thought as she retrieved her journal and folded the book open to her notes once more.

Dire days lie ahead.

...

Twelve Runes you must make.

...


Ah, here it was. She gently cleared her throat.

"Shiksh runesh can be found at the eye of the unshung Wildsh on the archway that opensh the mind..."

Pern's brow knit together as she made a short circle about the room, "I don't shee any runesh in here. Do you Frey?" Because elves always had the best vision and knack for detail.

"Mmm," Frey examined a nearby wall, "nothing that would suggest any relation to the portal stones. This is all dwarvish ornamentation."

"Then we are not at the eye," Pern concluded, turning about and pointing at the only exit of the chamber, "that way, then." And into a dark and unlit arched hallway she lead them. The way was cluttered with overgrowth of vines ... or perhaps roots, and portions of stone wall that had collapsed in. Though they did not need to walk a long distance, the amount of time it took to clear the hall to get through took some doing.

Pern stepped into a new, open chamber with a matching domed ceiling gently glowing the same bioluminescent blue. They were presented with a round chamber and at least a dozen more doorways to choose from. Further skeletons and piles of stone littered the ground, more detritus of the historic event that took place here. Some doorways were completely inaccessible due to cave ins. They were left with about five options. Each doorway had ancient dwarvish carved into the arch over each - labels perhaps?

"Look for shomething that might be related to the mind," Pern peered at each of them before approaching one to examine it more closely.

To their right a single, large pile of boulders seemed to shift on its own.
 
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Heike Eisen

Knight of the Golden Blade
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Not everyone followed Pern and Frey. At least not yet, seeing as how there was only one exit from the chamber with its eerie false sky. Some of the Gathered lingered, poking around the main chamber for something that may have been missed...or something valuable to pocket, perhaps.

Heike followed with Dal after Pern. They weren't here (wherever "here" happened to be, exactly) to sightsee. There was a task at hand whose import was of a magnitude none save the voice truly knew. Perhaps that was why it felt so...odd. Yes, the place was old, certainly, but Dal wasn't wrong in his expectation. If this place did house these immensely important runes, upon which a great turning for the good or ill of Arethil was balanced, wouldn't someone or something be here?

The archway seemed straightforward--this corridor with its cluster of vines hanging down from the ceiling and running along the walls qualified well enough by Heike's lights. The new chamber, very much a twin to the first with the Portal Stone, held the next part of the riddle. Something concerning the mind.

Heike had her hand rested on the hilt of her sheathed longsword, looking not so entertained as her eyes passed over the ancient language carved over the arches of the five viable doorways. "Would it kill these wizards and these arcane-types to be more direct?"

"Seems like dwarvish writing," said Numa, a wandering dual scimitar-wielding swordswoman from Annuakat in the Empire.

And she glanced at the dwarf among them, Thorgritt, who had his beard in a single thick braid and who was armed with a spear and shield. "Don't look at me," he said, "that's far too old for me to make sense of."

And he in turn glanced to another among them, Stefan, who was an apprentice Alterationist and who looked rather bookish in general, even if he wasn't a mage. "So...the spells that would be handy here I'm set to learn, uh, next semester."

Heike didn't fault those three with them for not knowing. How could they? This wasn't common knowledge, what they were up against here. "If it comes to it, then we've enough people to search every passageway. Even if dividing ourselves would not be well advised."

Heike was about to say something to Dal, to make a suggestion that there (hopefully) might be more better clues upon closer inspection of the doorways, when she thought she heard something--she hadn't seen any shifting. She narrowed her brow. Half-turned her head. Then looked fully toward the large pile of boulders off to the right. Was she...hearing things?

"Dal. Did you hear something too?"

* * * * *​

Numa. Thorgritt. Stefan. One of these three just so happened to be the Mistweaver Spy.

Dal Pern
 

Dal

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Dal let the scattered collection of peoples explore and find what they were hunting for, as he recognised he wasn't well suited towards the task of examining rocks for answers to the riddle. That's what the academics and mages were for. His own purpose lay in violence, the propagation of it and deference to it. His thoughts were to the dead scattered about this place, what they must have faced to bring about their doom. Dal kept his blade close to his person in a defensive position, ready to sweep about himself to parry something that might pounce upon him. He made small assured steps alongside his comrades, his blade poised and his mind sharpened by the tension of the stillness of this place.

There's no commander here, no-one in charge, Dal thought to himself as he moved steadily forward. No-one to reprimand for not taking part in the academic work. Still, we seem to be working together well enough for now. Dal remained attentive to the scene, his sword still drawn, his mind still as keen as his blade to be ready for some violence in this place. As his comrades hacked away at the roots, he remained attentive to an ambush, he was determined to be ready while others laboured.

Dal's eyes darted from corner to corner as he expected some welcoming party. Things were too quiet. And then, a movement of...something. Dal turned to the rocks where the sound emanated from and held his blade towards the pile. He hoped to whatever god was watching that he would not have to face a golem of some sort. He had heard of stories of such things, and within this abandoned place he didn't expect ordinary guardians. Steel served against flesh but against rock? Better to bring a hammer against such possible foes. Dal made a note to buy himself such a thing when he returned to civilisation.

“Yes. I heard it. Draw steel.” Dal said, his voice quiet yet firm in the stillness. It was as if he didn't want to raise his voice for breaking the tension just yet. His voice had an authority about it, an assuredness that was not belied by the unseen foe. A thousand battles were behind him and fear did not linger in his heart. Just the familiar exhilaration before muscle was put into action, an exhilaration which no matter how many times Dal fought remained with him before a confrontation.

Dal pressed his blade forward, the point directed at the rocks as if an enemy would leap out at him all at once. This was the reason he was here, amongst the Gathered. While his mind would not easily take to the task of the arcane, he knew violence. And this was how it all begins Dal knew. With the tremor of sound, the shifting of the ground, the baited breath released too eagerly, the blade ripped from the scabbard at the final moment, and then an effort of the will and blood towards the final conclusion of all combat. The warrior furrowed his brow, firmed his jaw and steeled his gaze. This would not be a moment where Dal would be found wanting if there was a foe lurking to undo their efforts.

Dal resisted taunting his foe into appearing. Every second now seemed heightened, every beat of his heart pounded with a loudness that Dal lived for. Soon, Dal thought, soon. He hoped that those gathered about him were as ready as he was. Dal knew that death was the potential reward for those who weren't, and that life could be preserved if he stood his ground to the potential foe, to bring the fight to the enemy when the academics would cower.

“Come on you bastard, show yourself,” Dal allowed himself to whisper within his helmet as he poised himself at the threshold of combat.

Pern
Heike Eisen

 

Velaeri

Judgemental Catbird
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A deep and earthy rumble shook the very foundations of the tunnels within which they stood. All around the center chamber stones began to tumble and roll, from the smallest of pebbles to boulders the size of Dal's torso. The rumbling continued as the rocks began to collect at the pile of rubble and take form.

A hooped centerpiece bearing etched dwarven runes coiled atop a great hewn boulder and the entire thing suddenly leaped into a wobbly stance.

There was a beat, a shuddering of blue illumination about the runes, and then the stone golem fully awoke.

It was one that had clearly seen battle and was missing an arm. Many of its main body boulders bore deep gouges and claw marks. Half of its head had been shattered and only one glowing blue eye peered out balefully at those gathered.

Then it turned its gaze toward the nearest threat and swung its great stone hammer down toward it.


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