Open Chronicles Such a big fuss over such a small thing

Discussion in 'The Chronicles' started by Theoderic Wanderfoot, Jul 8, 2019.

  1. Theoderic Wanderfoot

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    Theoderic had never liked traveling by sea, always preferring the company of and steady progress of a small pony. However since his last expedition had ended so disastrously, and the roads back to Alliria were so dangerous, he had opted for the relative safety of a trading galley. It was a sturdy and not too uncomfortable vessel, Captained by a hard man who introduced himself only as Captain Vane, and Theo had contented himself with a small, private room in the cargo hold, with a warm enough hammock and enough food to fill his previously grumbling belly.

    The Captain had not complained then Theo dropped a small purse of gold piece into his hand, at the request they make best speed from the damned shores near Eaglehead. He also dropped a small purse of silver pieces into the Captains hand so that he would ask no further questions than where he wished to sleep. Alas Theo had spent the next week green of face, dry retching into a bucket, hurled this way and that by the fierce storms that wracked the coast. He moans and complained to himself, but was at least thankful for being dry and warm, unlike the poor sailors that fought to keep the vessel under control during the gales.

    Still, it had not been for nought. Every now and again Theo would pat the bottom of the small satchel he carried, feeling the solid, spherical weight of the object within, the object which had already cost him so much, including his life. As long as it stayed with him, everything would be worth it.

    ---

    Theo did not know how or why it happened, only that one moment he was swaying this way and that in his hammock, a large fur over him to stave off the cold and damp. The next moment he was underwater, the icy fingers of the sea feeling their way through his clothes and onto his skin. He screamed, but all that came out was a muffled "Oolobobobloblbobo!" accompanied with a stream of bubbles. he kicked and thrashed, fighitng away the oppressive and heavy weight of the fur which now threatened to drown him, and finally broke the surface of the water only to witness the mast of the vessel he was only a moment ago sleeping aboard, sink beneath the waves, followed by the unmistakable silver and scaly body of a leviathan, as it followed its prey down into the depths. Theo could not see anything in the dark, except for the mountainous waves when lightning lashed the skies, but eventually his hands detected the slick but solid feeling of wood. He pulled himself towards it and found it to be a rather large plank, onto which he pulled his body. After that he promptly passed out.

    ---

    Theo awoke to the sound of waves and the feeling of wet sand on his face. He opened his eyes only to jam them back shut again as they stung of salt water and light. After a moment he groaned and pushed himself up onto his knees, rubbing the sand and salt from his eyes. He tried to open them again and beheld a vision of devastation. He had washed up on a beach which stretched out in both directions, and strewn along it were barrels, wood, sacks of waterlogged grain, and the occasional body.

    He groaned again, and tried to stand, only to collapse in a heap once again. He looked left and right, trying to make sense of his situation when suddenly panic gripped him and he desperately felt his person, moments later locating the small satchel under his clothes and the familiar weight stored within. He relaxed somewhat, and a moment later passed out again.
     
  2. Ultuk Barna

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    Ultuk walked down the mountain road from the steppes, though to call it a road was a generosity. The path was wide enough to allow the tribes one beast at a time, and the incline was at points so drastic that the feint of heart would have to crawl to make their way; but it was a good path, on solid stones, and Ultuk knew it well. He had traveled this way many times, as he was sure to many times more, and there were many benefits to such places. He had little to worry about as far as beasts or bandits,as the bandits didn't like such remote roads, and the Highland Rocs were less common this far out of the Taagi Baara Steppes. And he enjoyed the view. On a clear day, one might see miles across the sea, especially from this vantage. It was for this beautiful effect that Ultuk stood under the shade of one of the oldest trees along the path, eyes gazing to the evening sea. There was a ship, far out, about at the edge of his vision, of the type he was not certain. However, after moments of watching, a great force seemed to throw the vessel violently about, and then break it apart.

    Pointless devastation. Ultuk took out the paints and prepared the runes on himself. This was going to be a long and hazardous run, but if any survivors were to make it to shore, they would no doubt need what he could render for aid. Then, shouldering his weighty pack, he began his quickened descent.
    ______________________________________________________________​

    Having followed the path of the debris for as long as he had view, Ultuk had guessed accurately the bulk of the wreck's whereabouts. He knew this shore, and so he knew roughly where the tides would take it. The descent had been difficult in the night and at his quickened pace, and the injuries sustained were many. He would live though, as he knew many from the wreck would not. Already this morning he had come across half a dozen corpses, bloated and stuck in the surf. But it must have been a vessel of considerable size, for a good stretch of the beach was strewn with pieces of ship and cargo. With so much to search through, Ultuk knew he wouldn't be able to scour it in its entirety if he were to save lives efficiently.

    This is a bad idea, an Orc as myself might scare the survivors; but what choice do I have? None. Ultuk threw his spear into the sand and cupped his hands to his mouth; then with all the air he had left, he belted. "HADZA! IS THERE ANYONE HERE? I AM A HEALER! HADZA!"
     
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  3. Theoderic Wanderfoot

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    Theo was dreaming. He was at the entrance to his hole, looking out over the rolling green fields which seemed to undulate like great waves. He stepped out onto the footpath and looked left and right, before licking his lips. They stung, and he suddenly felt the most intense thirst he had ever experienced. He turned and ran back into his hole to the basin, sinking his face into the pool of water in front of him, but it did nothing. Pulling his head back he saw the basin was now full of sand, not water. Looking out the window in front of him, he watched the green, grassy hills continue to roll and flow, parting as an enormous sea creature rose to the surface. Its scaly skin was the colour of green and silver slime, its mouth lined with razor sharp teeth. When it saw him, it swam faster until it took up his whole vision. At the last second it opened its mouth and yelled:
    He woke with a start. He was back on the beach, sand in his mouth, sea water lapping at his hairy feet. A short distance down the beach he saw a huge figure, the shape of an orc standing there calling with his hands cupped around his mouth. Theo raised his hand, shaking from exhaustion and dehydration. "Water..." He croaked..."Please...I need water..."
     
  4. Ultuk Barna

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    The gulls screeched their terrible tune above, approving of the devastation, and the water lapped at the shore, but no reply came across the wind, at least not yet. Ultuk resumed his walk, and his call. If there were any survivors, they might have already left. But that was when he saw it: a small arm, slowly waving past some bits of netting and wood. A child! Ultuk rushed to the scene,and was a touch perplexed at what he saw. This child had hair over his hands, feet, and face, and seemed to be age of many a wizard of the famed college. This was no child, but it did need help.

    Ultuk quickly produced one of his flasks and bent down to the small man. Lifting him up into a sitting position, Ultuk gave him the water, and then took it away before the tiny man could do serious harm. "Slowly, Dorkag. You have ingested the poison water. I know how terrible your thirst is, but you must take it slowly. Your thirst will ebb, do not drown yourself anew. My name is Ultuk Barna, and I am your friend. What should I call you?"

    Theoderic Wanderfoot
     
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  5. ylva

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    Seemingly borne from wanderlust itself, the elven woman had taken it upon herself to see how far she could reach her inky metaphorical tendrils across the planes. She wanted to breathe in everything, succumb to the wiles of untamed lands, but not to the creatures that liked to eat her kind as a simple snack before dinner. Or, an appetizer, if you will. It had been several days of walking, and taking refuge in long grass before the ship she was half-heartedly tracking unceremoniously docked itself against the jagged rocks of the shore. Where there lay waste, there would be rations no? Gold? She could scavenge something, lest the barbaric humanoids of this land had taken it all before she got there. She'd take the chance.

    Darting between strewn barrels and web-like netting, Ylva was but a few feet from (and out of sight of) the orc that was screaming to the survivors, if there were any. The hood of her getup was pulled over her features as she struggled to tame the wild strands of hair that flung itself over her pointed bone structure. At first, those hypnotizing purple eyes would focus purely on the pair interacting before she'd take note of a piece of fruit nearby. Thus far the orc had not taken to chewing the halfling up, so she decided against the risks and stepped forwards to come and collect the soggy and waterlogged apple.

    "You should throw that one back, it's a bit too... small." her husky tone drawled, speaking as if the victim of this shipwreck was merely a fish intended to feed a whole family. Cocking her hips to the side, she'd bring the fruit up for a bite, before the sour and salty taste hit her square in the face and caused her to blink rapidly. Next came her spitting it out, lofting a brow and looking back towards this stand-in medic. Although she looked relatively relaxed, Ylva had already planned her means of escape.
     
  6. Theoderic Wanderfoot

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    #6 Theoderic Wanderfoot, Jul 9, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2019
    Theo heard thudding steadily grow louder as the large person ran over to him and sat him up. He gulped at the water, before the large Orc took the flask away.

    As if on queue Theo vomited up a hefty amount of salt water and sand, which splattered onto the wet beach sand next to him. Ultuk then offered him the flask again, from which he sipped gingerly several times before half sighing, half groaning. "Theo..." He hiccuped, then belched loudly, ,his breath tasting of salt. This amused the orc, who offered the flask again. Theo accepted it graciously and continued sipping from it. "My name is...Theoderic...Wanderfoot. I..." He groaned again, before coughing violently for a minute. After his fit subsided he sipped from the water again. "I thank you Ultuk...Barna...for your help. I feared...I would die here on this beach." A moment later, another voice could be heard.

    Craning his neck around, he beheld what appeared to be an enchantingly beautiful Elven woman, however whatever grace she displayed was quickly dispelled by her casually biting into an apple and then spitting it out in revulsion. The Orc, Ultuk said nothing...yet was surprisingly tender with Theo for such a huge being, helping him up onto his feet. Theo, sensing tension even though his head pounded from lack of water, attempted to calm the situation. "I know your two races may not be the best of friends...but I ask you not to attack my rescuer. He has shown me nothing but kindness, despite the fact I am...but a halfling..."
     
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  7. Ultuk Barna

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    Good, this is good. If I can save this one from a pointless death at the hands of the sea, then today is good. Better to die sword in hand than gasping for air that will not come. Ultuk slowly eased him against a piece of flotsam and let him take the flask, as this one seemed smart enough to not drink it too swiftly. Then there was a voice from the side.

    The woman who spoke was Elven, clad in leathers and armed. Ultuk was initially alarmed, but relaxed after she bit the tainted apple and gagged. This one is no threat. Theo appeared to want to stand to face the Elf, so he obliged. It was then that Ultuk remembered his spear in the sand many paces away, and cursed himself under his breath. But he was soon brought away from that thought when Theo spoke.

    Ultuk, realizing the peaceful nature of this...Halfling? Perhaps less. He rose to his full height and relaxed himself. If this Elf was a scavenger or bandit, he would be ready, but he would keep himself calm. There was no call to risk the Bloodrage. He was not here to fight, he was here to give what he can to aid who he can. So, in an effort to help this Halfling, he began to address the Elven woman. "What do you mean to do here, Helad? Perhaps you mean to help, as I do. I would like that." Ultuk presented his hands in the traditional greeting customary to Elves. "Hadza! My name is Ultuk Barna, and this is Theodoric Wanderfoot. Who are you?"

    Theoderic Wanderfoot, Ylva Lamaen
     
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  8. ylva

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    Ylva appeared in this state, to be of no threat, but that was hardly the case. If she so desired, she thought she would have a good chance against the compassionate half-orc who held a halfling in his arms. For the time being at least. Following Ultuk's gaze, she looked down at the man called Theo and replied to Ultuk. A lot of half breeds in one place.

    "I suppose, I could think of much worse things that people would do to a halfling." she was joking. Right? Her posture remained stiff as if she too was waiting for someone to start a fight.


    "I have come to scavenge, I have not come to help... unless there is gold behind those requests." selfish and obnoxious? Entirely. She was a single woman roaming a land that for the most part, was hostile towards her. However, she felt like those words were going to sink like the ship she was glancing at, which was splayed for all to see.

    "It looks like you are handling it well." she judged the apple with a squinted eye before tossing it into the distance. No name was given, either because she was looking down her nose at them, or she didn't want to be attached to this shipwreck in any way. The hand gesture was duly noted with a half-lidded gaze, but nothing came in reply. "I didn't see any other survivors on the way in." and with those words, she'd promptly turn for the nearest bloated corpse and begin rummaging through their pockets.
     
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  9. Theoderic Wanderfoot

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    #9 Theoderic Wanderfoot, Jul 9, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2019
    Theo raised a hairy eyebrow as the women sauntered off and began robbing the corpses of the sailors. He then remembered the two purses of gold and silver he had given the captain of the vessel to see him safely to Alliria and an idea began to form in his mind. "Gold you say?" He called after the elf woman, who stopped her rummaging and stood up to stare questioningly at him.

    "It just so happens one of these corpses may be the captain of this unfortunate vessel, who I paid a tidy sum to see me to my home in the city of Alliria. They are locked with an enchantment however, and can not be opened except by those who know the password, being myself and the unfortunate captain. Should you find my former business partner's body and recover these purses, their contents are yours if you agree to see me to the great city." He turned to face Ultuk who was looking between the two of them questioningly. "And you, my savior I will promise three purses of gold pieces should you join us. Two for saving my life and one for seeing me safely back to the city along with the fair elven lady here."

    Theo looked up hopefully at the Orc man. He actually quite liked Orcs, having only dealt with them in very rare circumstances, he found them to be a proud and honorable, nothing like their distant cousins the Goblins, who were cruel, wicked and deceiving. An awkward silence filled their air as Ultuk seemed to mull the deal over in his mind, so Theo tried his best to reassure him; "alas, for all of my promises I have not much more than a dozen gold pieces on my person. But I can assure you, in the name of the King that you will be paid in full upon our arrival. I will also promise your safety in the great city..." More silence.

    Theo sighed and took another sip of the water flask. He was bartering again, so he must be feeling better, but nightfall was creeping in and he did not wish to be caught out in the darkness with the strange elf lady, even if the presence of Ultuk was reassuring. He patted the Orc on the leg in an attempt at reassurance, not being able to reach the huge beings shoulder, and trudged up the beach towards the high tide mark where he began gathering firewood.

    The Orc, seeing this joined him and before long they had a respectable pile of driftwood and planks from the doomed vessel. Theo patted his various pockets, shivering from his damp clothes and the setting sun as he did. With a satisfied "aaahhh" he produced the item he was looking for. The Clicker of Sparking was a small brass item about the size of a tinderbox, with half a brass wheel exposed on its top. When Theo spun the wheel with his thumb it clicked several times, spurting small torrents of flame onto the piled wood. Moments later the fire had taken and he plonked himself down on the sand next to Ultuk who looked at the device curiously. "Out of the many artefacts in my collection, this is my far one of the most useful. I am not sure who wrought it, or who performed the enchantment...only that it has not failed me yet..." He sighed, feeling the dampness leaving his clothes. "Have you come to a decision about the proposal, my new friend?"
     
  10. Mara Ithrennyn

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    Mara smiled slightly at the sound of the surf, distracted for a moment from why she had come this way. For a young woman who had grown in an elven forest far from the sea, it was a new experience to be walking along the beach. It was tempting to pull down the silk wrapped around the lower half of her face, but she wouldn't appreciate the warmth on her skin the way she once might have. She tucked a few stray strands of brown hair back behind her right ear, but left a curtain of it before her left eye to minimize the chance that someone would see hints of scarring where it could sometimes be seen above the mask.

    She'd come for the shipwreck, however, not to play in the surf. Mara was no healer, but she didn't like the idea of people being left to drown. The sun was beginning to set and a chill would set in with it. She'd been on the road long enough to know about the dangers of chills in wet clothing. As someone who traveled alone, she was used to being doubly careful there, and had a great deal of sympathy for some sailor trapped in rigging in the water.

    She sighed a little when she saw at least one person searching bodies, treating them as slabs of meat. That didn't bode well. There was enough plant growth in the area that she could stop and survey the area before going in. The scavenger could have friends, and that could be dangerous for a slight elf like Mara. Not that she didn't have her own way of getting out of trouble. Her eyes were keen enough to pick out details as well: it was a woman rooting through the dead, apparently elven in nature, nearby a very large orc and a very small...halfling? She wasn't certain, as she had relatively little experience with the small folk.

    The flash of a fire suddenly appearing drew Mara like a moth. She stepped quietly down the beach through the rocks and wreckage. She had to hope that these scavengers were more well-mannered than those she had encountered in the past. She didn't bother hiding a seed of flame in her hand, not when she knew she could turn that little fire into a conflagration if needed. Her exile from Falwood had given her many, many evenings to hone her gift. She was still largely untrained except what teaching she had cobbled together here or there from conjurers or witches, but there was enough power in her to fuel a great inferno if needed.

    She hoped it wouldn't be needed here. This beach had seen enough death already. She could think of few worse ways to die than drowning, perhaps doubly so because of her fire affinity.

    "Are you scavengers?" she said as she approached, focusing on the towering orc and the halfling. "If you are, I have no quarrel with you. I am only here to steal what few can be saved from the clutches of the sea." Even as she spoke, she made certain she knew exactly where the elf who'd been searching the bodies was. That seemed like the type to keep an eye on.
     
  11. Theoderic Wanderfoot

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    #11 Theoderic Wanderfoot, Jul 9, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019
    Before Ultuk could reply, the elf stepped into the small island of light the fire had formed. Night had fallen faster than Theo realised, and he had no noticed the woman approach them again. He didn't pay her much heed until she spoke and he looked up to find it was an entire different elf. Was this an elfish land? He was sure the Steppes were inhabited mostly by Steppe Orcs and the odd human settlement, whoever two elves in such a short period of time was surprising.

    Theo surprised himself with a short burst of laughter. He had not had luck simultaneously this awful and this good in years. Travelling to the other end of the continent, almost dying, then recovering one of the most mysterious artifacts in the known world, then almost drowning, to being rescued by an Orc, to then almost being robbed by one elf and then rescued by another! It was almost something one would write a story about! "My dear, this big fellow right next to me was kind enough to pluck me from the clutches of death. I fear I may be the only survivor here, however we have not checked the entire beach as I have not regained all of my strength."

    He leaned back a little and eyed the other elf, moving from body to body, her silhouette illuminated by the steadily rising moon. "She on the other hand is here for nought but loot," He said bitterly before returning his gaze to the fire.
     
  12. Ultuk Barna

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    Ah, the Helad is a mere scavenger.
    Ultuk curled his lip and clenched his fist. There is no honor in stealing from the dead, better that she be laid to rest with them. His former calm almost forgotten, he began to gauge the distance to his spear when the keeper of peace began to speak once more. He began to reason with the scavenger, as if to bribe her with gold. Gold that might be recovered should his captain be found. Careful small one, weigh your words. Such cutthroats can turn violent if a promise of gold turns sour. If his corpse sailed wide, or was dragged below...

    Without voicing his concerns he strode to where his pack and spear were and returned to the side of the Halfling. All the while he continued to listen as Theo went on to offer him a similar bargain upon the safe arrival in his home of Alliria. Alliria, home to knights and rangers. A place to go. Ultuk had been near Alliria now twice in his journeys, though neither time had he been graced with the opportunity to enter the city proper. Just about as he was about to speak to the needlessness of pay for his company, Theo finished his offer.

    He was dumbstruck. Here, a self-proclaimed servant of the King was offering him, an Orc, safety within the greatest Human city on the continent. This would require time to consider. Theo seemed honest in his belief that he could make this happen, and Ultuk had offered his aid freely. As these thoughts mulled in his head, his short companion left the relative safety of his side to stat gathering wood. Now survival, that is easy. Build a fire, dry out the poor sod, and then think about his offer. Without further ado, he joined Theo in collecting choice pieces of wood. In this, he also gathered larger pieces of sail and began to construct a lean-to. Twilight would soon be upon them, and with it gusts from the north.

    As the stack was being prepared, Theo produced a small device from somewhere on his person, and then a small gout of flame started the greater fire. In answer to Ultuk's doubtless look of surprise, he spoke.

    He was about to give him a reply when a movement up the beach caught his eye. Another Helad? She approached with caution and then spoke.

    Theo began chuckling.

    "If you are truly here to help, hold this." He offered her the side of the canvas that he had just finished mending, and began to pull the rest onto his rudimentary supports. To his surprise, she did not let go, despite obvious strain. "My name is Ultuk Barna, of the steppe clans, and my ward here is Theodric Wanderfoot." He sat down beside the shelter and began to rub the old runes from his flesh. While doing so, he gestured the new arrival sit beneath the protection of the shelter. Then he turned to Theo. "That would be sufficient, no other payment will be required aside perhaps recommendations and guidance upon our arrival." Then, looking to the Elf he asked. "What brings you to this place? You and the other Helad are not together."

    Realizing that the first Elf had not joined them by the shelter yet, he reluctantly called out. "You there, Morthcharnad! You should find shelter for the night. The winds and sand will cut you deep by morning." Hesitating, but giving into his better nature he continued. "Partake of the fire and shelter and abandon your lust for gold. At least till the morrow."

    Then he began to mutter. "Undeserving scavengers, better to die than give in to carrion urges..."

    Theoderic Wanderfoot, Mara Ithrennyn, Ylva Lamaen
     
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  13. Theoderic Wanderfoot

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    #13 Theoderic Wanderfoot, Jul 10, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019
    Theo considered the large Orc for a moment, nodding contemplatively. "AYe 'tis not a noble endeavour, and one of the last things I would expect a member of the elder races to do, but desperation makes people strangers even to themselves. I am sure, if I had even awoken again after my ordeal had you not saved me, I would be with her searching the wreckage for anything of use. However it does not look like she is in need of food, perhaps just a heavier purse."

    After some time by the fire, Theo felt his belly grumble and remembered he had not eaten since dinnertime the night before. It was most unlike him not to eat for an entire day, usually having six or seven meals on any given day. He thought about what would have been in the larder on the ship and if any of it could have floated ashore. For a moment he had almost resolved to climb to his feet and begin searching the wreckage for something edible, but instead tried another approach.

    "I don't suppose anyone here has something to eat? I seem to have misplaced much of my food at the bottom of the ocean."
     
  14. ylva

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    Theoderic Wanderfoot had the woman's attention when he began to speak of big promises and even bigger purses filled with coins. Alliria was home, she was heading back that way after all... it wouldn't be too much of an effort to stuff the halfling in her bag and take him back with her. However, the offer was given another lofted brow in return. There was certainly a lot of commotion, despite the number of dead bodies that wrapped themselves around the shore. It was no decent final resting place, but while she was scavenging for currency, perhaps she could find something to identify the people, to leave at the docks when they returned to the city. So that families would be able to rest, not in peace, but begin their grieving process if need be.

    With a keen eye and even sharper tracking skills, Ylva noted the impending arrival of another of her kind, and she'd quickly look to the spot where she had ducked behind the foliage, to where Ultuk Barna was retrieving his spear. The bright-eyed elven woman then opened her mouth to speak to Mara Ithrennyn, only to close it again when someone else took the reigns in explaining why they were here. It was good, the less the elf had to say, the better. Continuing her work, her gaze would briefly lift to the darkening skies, then towards the half-orc who offered shelter from the night and the winds. He wasn't wrong.

    Ylva would briefly bob her head in acknowledgement to someone of her kind, Mara, before moving towards the canvas and the fire that was inspired by magic that did not surprise her. Taking up residence, perhaps too close to the half-orc, she'd lean her shoulders towards him and speak in a low, grumbled tone. "I can hear you." they all could. "Why such distaste for those doing what they must to survive? Surely, you've done things that aren't typically acceptable to ensure you live to see the next day?" and as she spoke, this one would pull the coin purse from her hip, at least that's what it appeared to be. Pulling at the strings, she tugged the thing open and then put her entire hand in. It didn't look like it could even fit! But it was gone! A moment of her scrounging around before she'd pull her fist out, gripping a handful of jerky wrapped in a clean linen cloth. Offering it to Theoderic Wanderfoot with a gentle smile, she'd finally let her eyes meet his. Once he had taken what he wanted, she'd offer it to Mara. "Don't try the fruit." her lips split with a grin, a final offering given to Ultuk as her features all but fell flat.
     
  15. Mara Ithrennyn

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    Once the shelter was constructed, Mara let go of the canvas and massaged her hand. It didn’t really hurt, but it wasn’t used to holding weight and tension so awkwardly. It was good exercise, but a reminder that her hands were far, far weaker than they had been before exile.

    “I am just a traveler and no, I have no companions,” Mara said simply in response to the orc’s inquiry. “When I saw the shipwreck, I thought I would help if I could.” She hesitated a moment and then introduced herself more properly. “My name is Mara Ithrennyn. It is good to make your acquaintance.” She did not offer her hands in a formal greeting, well aware that drawing attention to her wrapped and gloved hands could prompt curiosity she didn’t care for.

    She knew was something of an oddity by virtue of the mask she wore, green silk wrapped in such a way that it covered her face and neck from the bridge of her nose down to her collarbones, which were in turn covered by a russet woolen tunic. She’d dressed for chills, aware that the coast was much cooler than inland. All in all, hers was not the famed beauty of elves, but instead something shrouded. There were only her grey eyes, the color of storm clouds, to catch the gaze of another. She was not about to display what made her vulnerable.

    Mara only basked in the warmth and comfort of the fire for a minute or two, though she didn’t close her eyes or lean towards the flame as she might have if she was alone. Fire always seemed to act differently around her and this little blaze was no different: the flames went from erratic to sedate, burning with enough heat to cut the chill but not be uncomfortable to the people around it. It wasn’t even a conscious effort on Mara’s part, just practice and tiny bits of power expressed almost at their own volition.

    “Someone should go see if there’s anyone else to be found further along the beach,” Mara said. “If Theoderic is your charge, Ultuk, perhaps you had best stay with him. I should be equal to the task, provided no one takes exception to me for rooting around amongst salvage. If the wind gets too much of a chill, I’ll be back.”

    She slipped her pack off, which landed without the heavy thud of someone packing around endless gear or armor. It had some tools, a week’s worth of iron rations that were always her back up for when she couldn’t find other food, some spare clothes and her bedroll, a bar of soap and a bar of salt, along with a number of odds and ends. She kept her pack as light as possible for the most part, because she hated carrying a damn heavy one.

    “I’ve got a bit of food that isn’t...iron,” Mara said. “Some smoked salmon, a bunch of berries, and a few oatcakes from this morning. A fine meal with a good bottle of wine it is not, but the salmon came out well. It’s wrapped up in the big leaves right at the top of the pack.” Her lips twitched behind the fabric, trying to smile wryly. “Just do me a favor and don’t nick off with my things. I’d hate to have to chase you down.”

    With that said, she picked up a burning piece of wood that was roughly torch-shaped from the fire and carried it away from the shelter towards the untraveled section of the beach. It wouldn’t burn long, but she didn’t need it to. She just wanted to make her pyromancy less obvious, in case she needed it if things became dangerous now or later.

    She fed a wisp of her essence into the flame on the wood, allowing the fire to burn without consuming the wood. Power came with practice, which she had a plethora of. It was easier to light flame and keep it lit than extinguish it, something she was grateful for. It was the end of the day, which meant her energy was not at its peak and she wanted to have something in reserve if these friendly faces turned out to be very unfriendly after all.

    She walked the waterline, picking her way through the rigging and bits of sail mixed in with the cargo strewn about the beach. Some of it had been smashed to bits on rocks, only to be floated in by gentler waves. There were bodies here too, many of them either drowned or bashed to death. Mara stopped over each one, closing their eyes and smoothing their hair. “I’m sorry,” she murmured at each of their sides.

    If they had been her kin, she’d have wished to give them at least that. She was a stranger, of course. That didn’t mean they deserved any less.

    At the end of her walk was one of the spars from the main mast that had broken away in the tossing surf. She went to turn around and heard a very soft, choked, “...please…” coming from the water.

    Mara had to wade into the shallows to find him, but she knew he wasn’t long for this world upon finding him even without being a healer. The young sailor was more broken bones than whole ones, but the agony had faded into weariness as the cold did its insidious work. His lips and skin were already discolored by the cold, his limbs probably mercifully numb. She could feel it starting to try to leech the life from her legs as well. The cold in the water ached.

    She burned through the rigging where it kept him lashed to the spar, and gently floated him into land. He lay his head on the sand like a pillow, looking up at her with glassy, unfocused eyes.

    “...so...dark…” he gasped.

    Mara knelt at his side and conjured a dancer of flame, small enough to not be immediately visible from the lean-to. It slowly spun before him, throwing up sparks like a dancer tossing flower petals, dusting him with warmth, and a slow hint of a smile started to form as he drowned in the blood in his lungs, no longer held upright by the spar. She took off a glove and put her cloth-wrapped hand against his cheek. He looked so incredibly young. “Sleep,” she said gently. “Dream of calm seas and summer skies.”

    Mara watched over him until he fell still, breathing no more, and then closed his eyes too. She banished the flame she had summoned. It was time to return to the others. She was now somewhat wet and the wind was picking up. It stung almost as fiercely as her eyes, though that sorrow would be in its place by the time she arrived by their fire.
     
  16. Ultuk Barna

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    "...I..."
    His response hung in his mouth. Shame at his defensive nature, he continued. "Do well, Mara Ithrennyn. If more are to be found, bring them to me. I might aid their spark back."
    _________________________________________________________________​

    So, both the she-Helad had stings. "I know you can hear me,and of course I have. Theft from the dead though, never. Lay them to rest if you must have what they bear, or take what you will from that which you kill. Scavengers are the among the lowest. If you lack the means to care for your own welfare, I will gladly teach you." Ultuk adjusted his seating to look square at the Elf. "But first, your name. We cannot keep calling you by your old profession."
     
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  17. Theoderic Wanderfoot

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    As Theo sat there, feling the warmth steadily return to his body, a distant sound found its way to his ears. At first he though it perhaps a trick of the wind, however not long after, he heard it again. The sound of a horse. Climbing to his feet he rubbed his arms, feeling the warmth of the fire on his clothes. He could not make out much in the dark, even with the moon overhead, but as his eyes adjusted to the dark he made out several silhouettes, the shape of half a dozen horses approaching.

    The others must have heard as well, since they climbed to their feet and peered into the darkness. It did not take long for the horsemen to reach them and as they met the light of the fire all hope Theo had of perhaps a rescue party, or some passing knights or guards, was extinguished. The men were brigands, wild and barbaric, with skulls and profane runes adorning their clothes and furs. They shouted to each other in a harsh language Theo couldn't describe and began to surround the small band of individuals , riding in a ring around the fire.

    The leader, Theo assumed due to his large stature, extensive skull collection and the fact he rode the largest beast, turned and stopped, facing them. "Gold! Now! Or die!"

    "I'm afriad I can't help your friend, you see my gold sunk to the bott-" Theo was cut off as an arrow buried itself a foot from where he stood, the brigands laughing harshly as he hopped back. "Now that is just rude.." He muttered to himself. "Gold! Now! Or die!" The leader roared again, pulling a rusty, curved blade from its sheath. "Not a particularly eloquent bunch..." Theo commented, fumbling with the dials on the top of the Clicker.
     
  18. ylva

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    Ylva looked down at the food that everyone had glanced over while listening to Mara Ithrennyn's shopping list of food she had carried on her. The woman must have had a giant bag. The heat of the fire warmed her face as she began to eat alone, whilst the other woman stepped off on the hunt for survivors. It wasn't something Ylva felt like doing again, and so she turned her shoulders to face Ultuk Barna again who demanded her name for what, the third time? "Ylva." she managed past thin lips shaped in a thoughtful frown. Clearly, he wasn't going to get a lot more than that.

    Simply because they were all standing now as a bunch of bandits arrived and pointedly began asking for gold. Turning her head side to side, she studied the people with her and dove her fingers into her pouch as if she was retrieving coin for the bastards. Instead, the woman pulled out a pinch of bright gold dust and bobbed her head for the final time to those beside her, just as the arrow planted itself into the foot of Theoderic Wanderfoot. Fitting. With one final sweep of her hand, the dust exploded outwards and up into the night sky, covering the sudden disappearance of Ylva whose footprints were the only thing that was left behind. The gold dust was costly but used only at appropriate times like this. She'd be nowhere to be seen, only leaving behind a slight magic aura as she basically transported herself back home with two more times to use that ability left on her clock.

    [exit post]
     
  19. Ultuk Barna

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    Ultuk rose to his feet at the sound of the horsemen and grasped his spear. The three that remained near the fire were quickly surrounded, and then the leader made his demands. Gold. It was always gold. Theodoric attempted to negotiate, a tactic Ultuk knew would not work. They had the numbers and the mounts, For the brief moment that he had, Ultuk traced a simple rune in the sand at their feet with the butt of his spear. It would not last, but perhaps it would give them enough of an edge. At that moment he heard the Elf say, "Ylva". He turned to acknowledge just in time to see her bow and vanish. Damned Helad! Ultuk didn't hesitate and activated the rune. "Wet"

    The effects were sudden as the sand closer to the tide mark became wet and difficult to maneuver in. The raiders were swift to react, and Ultuk took an arrow to the leg, and another in the chest as he charged the leader, missing when he stumbled to the leg wound. As he fell. he felt the thrill of the fight, and it took his focus to quench the rage. Stay focused, stay aware... But his plan had worked, to a point: at least two of the riders were having trouble with the soft terrain, their horses struggling in the mire.
     
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  20. Mara Ithrennyn

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    #20 Mara Ithrennyn, Jul 12, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2019
    Mara grimaced at the sight of the riders and the sound of their rough demand. She was outside of their circle, which was both good and bad. Still, it was time to do something, and something drastic at that. Hopefully she had enough in her to keep standing. She summoned her will and instead of gently coaxing the fire beside Theoderic and Ultuk, she fed her power into it in a raging torrent, worthy of the great river of fire in myth.

    The little campfire exploded upwards, burning with blistering, pale heat. The blaze was well beyond what the wood fueling it could hope to sustain. The inferno raged with the unearthly howl of a fire fierce enough to craft its own wind, swirling into a column and taking on the form of a serpent. It bared its fangs even as it plunged down, engulfing two riders and their horses. The roar of the flames was not enough to completely hide their shrieks, but those sounds were their end as they drew fire into their lungs.

    Mara fell to her knees as her vitality drained like water through cupped hands. It wanted more, hunger ravenous as it raged like a wild beast inside her chest. She could feel it burning inside her bones, pouring like molten metal out into her hands, invisible flames lapping greedily at her scars, as the real thing once had. The smell of smoke filled her nose, the reek of charring flesh, the sound of her own screaming in her ears. This was not her tame little fires that she loved to play with. This was infernal, destruction incarnate, enough to kill.

    It craved more and, as always, she felt an almost irresistible urge to give it,

    She didn’t know in that moment if the fire had changed the opinions of the other riders who were not engulfed, so she dug her hands into the sand, twisting the earth. The serpent left its meal a charred wreckage, twisting and gliding across the sand towards the other riders with sinister grace.

    Another minute of this, if that, and the spell would fade as she lapsed into unconsciousness. Her control was miles better than it had once been, but this was more drain than she’d encountered in a very long time. She couldn’t claim to even be aware of the blood from her nose as it spattered onto the sand.

    Burn them, the flames sang to her like a siren’s call. Burn them all.
     
  21. Theoderic Wanderfoot

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    Theo watched in wonder as his two new companions used various magical methods to dispatch their would be attackers. He had always considered magic a rude and slightly silly practice, however his experience was only with human magicians, trickers and performers. He watched as Ultuk formed a rune in the sand. For a mome Theo stared at the rune in puzzlement before the shrieks of horses in distress, and the accompanied shouts of the men atop them reached his ears. Looking up he saw them sinking quickly into the sand on the coast, the water from the ocean rushing in and churning around them, sucking them down.

    As this happened their fire suddenly swelled to a great height, roaring up into the sky before twisting over and around like a serpent ready to strike. Theo could barely believe his eyes, and rubbed them as if to break some spell. The torrent of fire formed itself into the very likeness of a great serpment and crashed down on two riders, enveloping their forms and reducing them to smouldering wrecks. As this happened, the elven woman who introduced herself as Mara collapsed to her knees as if drained from the feat of magic. "Not to worry my dear," said Theo hurrying over to her. He caught her in his arms before she topped fully to the ground. Even for his short statue, Theo was relatively strong and managed to hold her steady with one arm whilst he fumbled with the Clicker. "I will add my strength to yours!"

    He spun the wheel on the top of the clicker and pointed it at the three remaining horsemen. A torrent of flame erupted from the clicker, joining with Mara's fiery serpent. Within moments all three horsemen were alight, their clothes and armour charring and burning as they writhed around on the sand. One had the presence of mind to run for the ocean but was quickly caught in the bog caused by Ultuk. Soon they were alone again, the fire returned to its normal size, save for three very startled horses.

    Theo lowered Mara to the sand and propped her head up on her back. He then hurried back over to where Ultuk sat, nearby. The warrior had taken two arrows, one to the leg, the other to the chest, tutting, Theo placed his small sword tip first into the fire before turning to his former savior. "My friend, I will have to remove these, otherwise you may die. Are you ready?" The orc grunted but said nothing else. Theo took this was a yes and placed one hand on the his chest, gripping the shaft of the arrow with the other. With all his might he wrench the bolt free. He did the same with the bolt on his leg. A moment later he pulled his sword from the fire, its tip glowing, and cauterised the wounds.
     
  22. Ultuk Barna

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    Ultuk lay in the dirt, and watched as fire consumed flesh. The sight was accelerated compared to what he had seen before, and as the cold wind blew on the beach, he caught the smell. It was a fragrance he was familiar with, though it was a lifetime ago. It was a good raid. Qadur had avenged the clan's losses twicefold that day. The stronghold pyre was visible for miles, and the smoke even more. But the smell was satisfying. Qadur had not escaped entirely unscathed, and the burns took weeks to heal properly, but Ultuk was there for him.

    But there would be no healer for them. The fire, both from Theo and Mara, was devastating. Those who were not instantly consumed were beyond his skills save the mercy of death. Burns were dangerous and devastating, and if left unattended, would surely kill. A painful death.

    When Theo approached with the hot blade, Ultuk pushed the Halfling away. "No burns. Not for these. I'm in no danger of dying just yet." He sat himself upright and winced only slightly. Then, indicating to his pack he continued, "There are wraps and water in the pack. Bring them here, and don't let sand on the wraps. I will apply them. But you should look to her." He nodded toward the un-moving Mara as he began to wash and wrap his chest wound "She is suffering from severe magic fatigue. Keep her upright, keep her awake. I will take a look for myself as soon as...ugh...I'm done here." He finished the first bind and began on the second as Theo went over to Mara and propped her up. She still seemed conscious. But not for long.

    Ultuk rose slowly to his feet, careful not to ruin the fresh bandages on his leg. He reached into his pack and pulled out a small wax cloth wrapped bundle before walking to Mara and Theo, doing his best to avoid limping. He sat down beside the two, and realized just how bad the fatigue was. She was shaking, her core with shivers, but her arms an almost uncontrollable rattle. "Theo, fetch me some wine my pack, would you?" Turning to face her again, "Thank you for that. You very likely saved my life, and for that the least I can do is make sure you survive the cost. But look me in the eye. I cannot gauge the extent of your fatigue without your help." Mara kept her face turned down under such close scrutiny.

    Ultuk sighed, then produced a small stone from the bundle with a rune carved into its surface. In Orcish he uttered, "Calm, Recover." Then he handed it to Mara. "Place this to your forehead for the first watch, and rest upright. If the shakes continue after, I will have to apply the magic directly. Yours is a powerful talent, do not let it consume you. Can you walk? You'll want to be in the shelter." Ultuk stood halfway and offered his arm.
     
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  23. Mara Ithrennyn

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    #23 Mara Ithrennyn, Jul 16, 2019 at 11:28 AM
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2019 at 11:58 AM
    The most difficult part of manipulating fire was dispelling it. Its elemental form wanted to live, to grow, to burn. Mara had to put more effort into banishing it, pulling the fuel from the fire even as it felt like she was ripping part of herself away.

    She found herself under scrutiny, enough to make her turn her masked face away even though it was still securely in place to hide what was beneath. The stain of blood on her mask would have to be washed out before it was set, but she doubted she would be able to get away to do that. Fortunately, she had several other wraps that could replace it. She concentrated hard, reducing the shaking somewhat. This wasn’t the worst she had experienced and she had been alone for that recovery, so she was relatively confident she could power through it. The ghost of fire lingered in her body, slowly subsiding into a comforting warmth. She knew she had a strange relationship with the element, a sort of give and take more intimate than most conjurers.

    To her, it was a thing alive, and deserved her respect and her love in equal measure

    “I’m fine,” she said with all the firmness she could muster. It was her pride talking, the only thing that was stopping her from curling up in the sand and crying at the pain in her scars, the first feeling in them for months, since her last big display. They were not quite as they had been when she was burned, but the feeling was close. She had to blink a few tears away, but her damaged dignity hardened her resolve and stiffened her spine.

    She accepted the rune from Ultuk without complaint, however. Anything to make the infernal shaking stop, though most of that was probably pain rather than exhaustion.

    “I can walk,” she said with that same firmness, powering though the pain. She pressed her hands against the sand and pushed herself up to her feet. She felt not steady at all, but she could lean on the orc’s arm and hobble back towards the shelter, feeling so lightheaded that black tinged the edges of her vision. She refused to succumb to it. “I’ve survived worse.”

    Her expression softened slightly when she made it to the shelter, looking at Ultuk and Theoderic. “Thank you.”
     
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  24. Theoderic Wanderfoot

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    Theo was prodding their fire when Ultuk and Mara walked back over to their makeshift shelter.
    "My dear do not mention it. It is what any of us would do for the other given the circumstances, at least I hope." He aimed the clicker at the fire, turning the dials on its top a little and spun the wheel. Instead of a huge gout of flame pouring forth like earlier, dozens of tiny baubles of fire sprang out, covering the fire like snow. After a moment the fire began to burn higher and brighter, warming the area under the shelter significantly. "Hopefully this will see us through the night."

    "It is very strange, that you two should be in such a state whilst having come to my aid. I will ensure you are looked after well once we arrive as my estate in the great city. It is not a grand house, but it is comfortable," he said, a satisfied smile on his face. Nearby one of the horses whinnied and Theo, having totally forgot about the beasts nearby jumped out of his skin. He made sure his two companions were warm enough by the fire before making his way steadily towards where the three animals had gathered, by a box of rotten, waterlogged apples. They munched on them happily enough regardless.

    Theo picked up the box and dragged it towards the fire. The horses followed and soon Theo had their bridles wrapped around a plank of heavy wood. It wouldn't stop them from escaping, but horses were not the smartest of creates and it provided enough resistance to make them think they were tied up.

    "These beasts will serve us well tomorrow I hope," he said, slumping down next to the orc and elf. "With all this excitement, I didn't think to ask; do either of you know exactly where we are?"
     
  25. Ultuk Barna

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    "Thank you."

    Ultuk noted the ease of muscles from Mara as she settled into the shelter. Hearing Theo's response, he added, "As he said, any of us here would render aid. You do not deserve a death from exposure or disease." In his mind he thought back his reason for being in the world. An endless struggle of magic, salves, and even occasionally prayers. Months of watching the disease take its course, watching all of his skills fail, and never being able to leave for fear of its acceleration. His face shifted from reassuring to grim, and then back again. "No one deserves that."

    He turned to his pack as Mara sat in silence and Theo fetched the horses. He began sorting what had been taken out and took an accounting. Plenty remained of his runic and medicinal components, but he found himself shy of food and water, counting for the Halfling that was now dependent. He sighed and stowed what was left. Even with the horses, the next several days would require rationing.

    Theo arrived with horses in tow and tied them to a log, and then he spoke in query, "Do either of you know exactly where we are?"

    This brought Ultuk back from his rummaging and inward contemplation. "Western border of the Taagi Baara Steppes. Sure you noticed the cliffs when it was day. If, as you say, we need to make our way to Alliria, then South is where we need to go. Though if the two of you are not wanted among the clans here, then I suggest we go North and stick to the cliffs for a day. There is a stronghold not two days up the coast. They are friendly to me, and we could get passage there across the Allirian Straight, though likely only to the Aberresai Savannah. It is a safer road than the Steppes."
     

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