Open Chronicles The Gem of the Sea

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    A land once ruled by Dragons and Gods opens, but not every secret of Arethil's past is safe to uncover.

    Titanfall

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Tijan

Prince of Ti'Ciuda
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The Kiva Archipelago was not a place one traveled to on a whim. Rings of islands, left from volcanos of old, dotted the sea with jagged shores and hidden reefs. Leagues from the mainland, and with a swirling maelstrom at its center, it saw little contact from the ”surface folk.” The true bounty of the archipelago, and its beauty, was beneath the waves. Now, more than ever, the land walkers had a chance to see it.

Ti’Ciuda glittered from within the dead caldera. An ancient seamount that once spewed fire and ash to the skies had sunk into the sea, and at its heart lay a magnificent city. Sharp, towering spires formed from the volcano’s own stone jutted upwards from colorful coral, and a rainbow of fishes, kivren, and other aquatic beings whirled through it.

Today was a special day: It was Prince Ti’Jan’s birthday. His twentieth, and his coming of age into the royal line. For miles around the Obsidian Palace the city was decorated and equipped to celebrate. Food was freely available, and decorative shells and baubles of all sorts were handed out. Games and competitions were set up, and verticality was no issue at all underwater. Several stalls had been tethered to the sides of buildings, or rigged for neutral buoyancy and bobbed along with the soft currents. It was to be a grand celebration, and indeed the festivities had already begun when the sun’s first meager beams had reached the volcano’s rim.

Today also marked the second year since the Queen had lifted the centuries-old restrictions on surface dwellers in the city. Now, if they could prove their worth, such people were permitted to enter, work, and even live in the city. Some were granted enchantments to let them breath, others were given contraptions. The dwarves, surprisingly, had taken to the offer quite readily, and had devised ingenious diving suits. For any of these two-legged visitors, the celebration would be a sight to behold.

The prince was not present.

Palace staff and guards alike had searched for hours but found no trace of Ti’Jan. The celebrations would continue, of course, but his mother would once again need to make excuses for him.

That was fine. Ti’Jan had no intension of making a fool of himself at the city center. He had no intension of graciously accepting his royal calling nor listening to the empty praises of his parent’s friends. No, he was quite happy here, in the Lobster Trap, a thoroughly un-noble establishment close enough to the vents that the water was several degrees warmer.

Ale was a surface creation, and liquid libations would not fare well underwater. When Kivren wanted to dull their senses they turned to the ocean, as they did for all things. Ti’Jan popped a colorful sea slug into his mouth and make short work of it with razor-sharp teeth. The flavor was bitter, but the smooth buzz the poisons offered was as good as any stout.

He looked gloomy, and plucked another from the small round cage on the table between him and his companion. He looked at it quizzically, noting that his vision was already starting to blur. He probably shouldn’t...

“Well, it is my birthday,” he muttered softly, and sucked the wriggling thing into his mouth.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The city celebrates! Even in the prince’s absence, the streets are filled with food and goods. Citizens and visitors alike may join in the festivities surrounding the palace, or perhaps venture to the darker districts for more off-color refreshment.​
 
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Hali

The Little Piranha
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Hali snored at his glumness and face planted dramatically against the table, hands splayed at either side of her head and her clawed fingertips scoring a few lines across it's surface with a horrendous screech before she sat up and threw her arms up for her theatrical performance of the evening.

"Help! Someone -anyone- ; please! It's.... It's his birthday!!" she clutched her hands to her chest and feigned some deep, burning pain.. "He's not going to make it! Someone please, put him out of his misery, I just can't do it!.." Her hands covered her face and she fake sobbed into them. People stared at her, some irate, some amused, others just utterly bewildered. She turned to the prince in the midst of a climactic wail and her grimace of anguish switched suddenly to boredom and she huffed.

"You know how boring you are when you're being melodramatic." the girl grumbled with a groan of discontent. She pushed herself up from the table to swim around him, twisting and turning until she hovered upside down in front of him and reached to pet his head.

"Poor spoiled Ti. How terrible it must be for you." she pouted and rolled her eyes and reached to snatch another of the toxic slugs from the cage and slurped it into her mouth which twisted into a grin as she bit into it. "I suppose you don't want your gift then.." she slurred and her shoulder shrugging as she pulled herself toward him, her iridescent tail swishing with sass. She turned her back to him and settled against his, her arms folded and her lips twisted in amusement..

"HEY SPEAK UP I CAN'T SEE YOU!" she snapped at a small crowd who were caught staring at her and whispering amongst themselves, her orange eyes flashing with annoyance. What better way to celebrate a special occasion than picking a fight?
 
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Andromeda

Travelling Singer
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The call of the sea was a hard thing to ignore. It was like the sweetest of songs that burrowed into your ear and was always there at the back of your mind, coaxing you to give in to her dark embrace. Andromeda would know having been running from it for most of her life. She had not known her mother who had abandoned her child to her pirate lover all those years ago. The woman whose intoxicating song had eventually claimed her fathers life and left her alone in this world. When she had found her father hanging in his cabin it had hardened her resolve to never give in to the monstrous side of her that had been the woman's only 'gift' to her daughter. She returned to the sea when she needed to in order to survive and she left as soon as humanly possible. She had a life on the surface. A talented singer, welcome at every tavern, and more than a few pirate crews who owed her favours or who remembered her father fondly.

And yet...

Ana had first heard of the opening of Ti’Ciuda from a drunken sailor and had thought his ravings were that of a mad man, but soon it was on every sailors lips about the home of the sirens opening their doors to the world. She hadn't been able to resist the curiosity that beat in time with the song.

It had been a lot to take in at first. Of course she had heard the stories of underwater cities like most good pirates but seeing one with her own two eyes was another thing. A marvel, truly. It glittered like a peal nestled in an oysters mouth as she swam closer and for a while she lingered outside of the city just watching. There were hundreds, no, thousands of them. To go from having never met one of her own to being in the midst of them in their home was... Well she was reeling. It was probably why she had sought out something familiar in order to anchor herself. A tavern of sorts or what passed for one under the sea. It had taken a bit of asking but unlike the reaction to the surface dwellers, Ana's welcome was warmer from the other merfolk. She heard the word buiko which she was coming to understand was the term for the colony of kivren who lived amongst the coral reefs in the Eastern waters. It hadn't taken long to be directed to a quiet place within the city proper.

Or what she had at least been led to believe was quiet.

"HEY SPEAK UP I CAN'T SEE YOU!"

Andromeda paused on the threshold, half glancing over her shoulder back out onto the waterway. She knew that tone. It seemed those above the surface and below were not all that different after all, there would always be someone who hungered for a fight. After a seconds hesitation she sighed and gave in, swimming over to the bar.
 
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Tijan

Prince of Ti'Ciuda
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He couldn't help but let a wry smile cross his lips as she swam around him though. Even when she was cruelly teasing him she was very entertaining about it. He supposed he was being rather dull, and he had insisted that she come along with him... but still. Was it her life plan being broadcast for everyone to see? He made sure to put his ornery face back on if she looked at him, although it was getting more difficult the more she spoke.

"Well, hey, now," he perked up at the mention of a gift, "Let's not do anything rash..." He flicked a finger at her tailfin as it wafted past him. "But hey, keep it down with that, wouldja?" he hissed, lifting a hand to shield his face from view as his childhood friend wailed about. Most people down here probably wouldn't recognize him by sight, but it wouldn't take much of a leap to identify him considering his birthday had been the talk of the town for weeks.

He had planned this escape well, considering he really didn't do "plans" very much. He had made sure to slip from the Obsidian Palace just before sunrise, when he knew the guard would be switching and he would not be seen. Hali had met him en route.

The two of them were well practiced in this, and the upper levels of the city were second nature to them. Still, Ti'Ciuda was large enough that there were still avenues to be explored and dark places that offered secrets. He suspected that Hali knew more of the city than he did.

There was nothing particularly unusual about the way the newcomer entered the place, nothing aside from the way she moved. It was... different somehow, although he couldn’t quite place it. She had an aura about her that was alien, distant... interesting. Perhaps political skills did pass through blood, and Ti’Jan liked to think he could judge a person’s character accurately.

Although maybe he was just drunk. He prodded Hali with an elbow and pointed to Andromeda as subtly as he could. ”What do you make of this one?”
 
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Hali

The Little Piranha
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"You're the one making such a big deal about it!" she protested, arms folding and her face pursed up like she'd just tasted something sour. "Oh, poor me, it's my birthday." she mocked, her voice dropping low and sonorous as she attempted to imitate him, her face a picture of depression for a moment before she sprung back into her gleeful, mischievous self. "Pfff. We should be having fun." she reached out to punch him in the shoulder.

She was helping herself to another, particularly fat, sea slug when she was nudged with an elbow and her brows lifted at him before she followed his gaze. Even as the edges of her vision blurred she could see what had drawn the prince's attention toward her. She wasn't from around here, and she was the sort of pretty that made the breath catch in your throat. Her orange gaze crawled over her from top to tail and her tongue ran over the jagged edges of her upper row of serrated teeth.

"Oi.. I'd like to pick those pretty scales off with my teeth is what I think of this one." she mused and took the opportunity to nudge back at him as she settled something in front of him and leaned to press a kiss to his cheek. Hali didn't have much, but she had a particular affinity for creativity. In the wrap of fabric was a dagger, the blade made of obsidian and a handle of carved whalebone. "Happy birthday." she whispered through a grin and winked at him before settling her molten orbs back on the pretty fish.

"Hey dollface! Come join us." her head tilted with a dangerous grin.
 
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Andromeda

Travelling Singer
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"What'll it be?" the man at the bar was busy cleaning up a tray of returned cages and he barely spared Andromeda a glance before returning to his work. He sounded as bored as he looked too but for the siren it was the complete opposite. This was such a surface-dwelling thing, she had thought, to sit at a bar and order drinks or food. To see in the place of a barmaid of haggard look tavern owner one of her own was so far beyond the images she had had of her own kind all she could do was stare. When the silence stretched on the bartender slowed in his cleaning and looked up again with annoyance. There must have been something on her face though for he paused and glanced her over then seemed to reach some conclusion.

"If you're wondering what's good here-" he began when the same voice Ana had entered to cut across his words and the background noises of the bar. He looked over her shoulder then back to her.

"Me?" Ana pointed to herself and the bartender rolled his eyes with a nod. Swallowing, she turned to look in the direction of the offer. Back in her life it had not been uncommon for her to be hailed from tables and offered seats. She had thrived on it - the pay was good of course from singing but it was even better if she didn't have to pay for her own food. The couple didn't look particularly daunting and the bartender had gone back to his cleaning so with a sigh she swam over to join the pair.

She slid into the booth and gave the slugs a curious glance before looking up to the pair.

"Andromeda, charmed I'm sure," she gave them both a lopsided smile.
 
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Tijan

Prince of Ti'Ciuda
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Ti’Jan looked sideways at his friend as she leered at the newcomer. Hali’s appetites never failed to amuse, it was one of the reasons they’d been near inseparable for years. The prince had been permitted friends, of course, his parents were not monsters. In fact, as a child, he enjoyed quite a bit of freedom, albeit within the palace walls and with guards looking over his shoulder. It helped that Hali had been in the palace herself. As he grew he got better and better at slipping away from his little security detail (babysitting Ti’Jan was quickly turned into a punishment for sub-par performance as a guard), and by the time he and Hali were teenagers it was more or less expected that he would find a way to venture where he ought not be.

Restrictions were greater as he grew. Duties and training were thrust upon him. He enjoyed learning his magic and the personal attention from the guard captain as he learned spears, tridents, and other skills befitting nobility. He did not enjoy learning politics, civil studies, history, or practically anything related to making him a wise and noble king when that day came. His only consolation was that, being a matriarchal society, whatever unlucky trout he married would have the brunt of leadership thrust upon her.

Hali’s playful elbow roused him from his reminiscence and he looked at the package with equal parts anticipation and suspicion. ”What’s this, then?” he asked with a sideways smirk before undoing the fabric. His face changed immediately upon seeing the dagger. It was so beautiful, so expertly crafted, and so cool that even he could not hide his joy. He took it in both hands, turning it so that the filtered light of the glow-orbs glinted from it. ”Hali… thank you!” he confessed in a rare instance of being completely genuine.

Again, her loud voice broke the mood and, still holding tight to his precious gift, he watched Andromeda approach. Hali was right, she was beautiful, if a little… different. She had a pleasant, gentle coloration, and her face was soft. Ti’Jan had not seen enough humans to recognize her as a half-breed, so he settled on curious interest.

”Andromeda, a lovely name for a lovely girl,” he said through smiling sharp teeth. ”I am Jero, and this piranha is Hali,” he gave the moniker he often used in place of his given name. Not much point in hiding out if one gave a real name.

The newcomer was a welcome distraction from his self-imposed woe. ”Forgive me, but you seem… exotic. Are you new to the city?” His tone had changed dramatically from his banter with Hali to the one that worked best with young girls who liked a pretty face and a kind word.

Being prince wasn’t all bad.
 
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Hali

The Little Piranha
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Hali's eyes rolled and her lips curled into a grin as she attempted nonchalance in the form of a shrug in response to his thanks, but even after all the years of knowing him, there was a shyness to it. They rarely took anything seriously in one another's company, and the sincerity in his tone made her want to punch him in the chest.. "Don't havta cry about it.." she muttered.

She dug an elbow into his majesty's ribs as he flirted with the pretty siren, but she smiled in a manner that could either have been threatening or an attempt to impress, but either way she showed off her perfect rows of dagger-sharp teeth and fluttered her dark lashes.

"Annndrrrrrrromedaa." she played with the name as her eyes playfully picked out her features. "Sounds pretty." she slurred and wordlessly shoved the cage of narcotic slugs toward her. The Kivren pulled herself through the water around the woman, twisting lazily as she took in the stranger from all angles.

"Of course she's new to the city, squid brains.." she chuckled and slunk up next to her.. "Soooo where are you from?" she grinned.
 
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Andromeda

Travelling Singer
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Ana was not sure how Kivren were meant to behave but as she watched Hali slowly circle her she was reminded of the sharks who flocked to the surface when blood was spilt. A slow glance over to the male and she noted the way he too was watching both women and concluded from their actions and words that perhaps the Kivren were just a lot more direct in their manner. Subtly had never been her forte so it wasn't exactly a bad thing. She dismissed them both and reclined back into the seat whilst eyeing up the slugs and wondering what exactly one did with those.

"I don't really have a home, I travel," she casually shrugged a slender shoulder. It wasn't exactly a lie but nor was it the entire truth. She wished she had known more about her mother. "I spend a lot of time on the surface though, heard you lot were opening your city to the two-leggers and was curious to see how my cousins were living," her lips twisted up into that lazy half smile again. In the end she casually reached out and plucked one of the slugs out of the cage and popped it in her mouth. Her jagged teeth were a lot daintier but no less sharp and tore through the flesh with ease. It was an odd taste but she found she rather liked it. It was certainly no less disgusting than some of the things she had eaten on the Cortosi coast.

"It's a lot busier here than I was expecting though."
 

Tijan

Prince of Ti'Ciuda
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Ti'Jan cast shot a momentary glare to Hali with his mismatched eyes, but it was akin to a child making a face more than true hostility. This is how it went, the two of them casting jabs and barbs off each other only to turn around laughing and probably wind up somewhere they shouldn't be. He tucked the knife away with a small whirl of his fingers, making a tiny current around the piece to keep it snug to his body.

The surface, now that was interesting! He tried to play it cool, tried not to reveal his immediate and overwhelming curiosity. "A walker, eh? What would someone of your... persuasion be doing up there?" Anything to keep the conversation on the beautiful newcomer and off of the city's activities was fine with him.

Besides, he wanted to hear all about it. Despite his family's acceptance of the land races, he had hardly ever ventured on to land himself. Even when he had, ages ago, it had just been on the nearby coasts of the archipelago. He didn't remember what it had felt like, except for the horrendous pain of the transformation.
 
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Hali

The Little Piranha
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Hali drew back a little, the brief flash of fear in her eyes there barely long enough to be noticeable before it was drawn into a look of scrutiny. Yes, there were things about the surface world that intrigued her, but she did not understand it, and she'd visited it only once and once had been enough for her to want to stay as close to the ocean floor and as far away from the surface as she possibly could.

"You're a land walker?.." her nose wrinkled, and she drifted back to Tijan, reached her hand to drag the cage of slugs back toward her until she hugged it against her chest. She melted into Tijan's side, her gaze fixed on the woman, narrow with skepticism as she made a point of spearing a slug with the clawed tip of her finger and tore the head from it's body and sucked out the intoxicating jelly with a lazy blink.
 
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Andromeda

Travelling Singer
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Andromeda couldn't help the musical laugh that escaped her lips when she was called a land walker. Her webbed hand came up to cover her mouth and she shook her head as the giggles kept bubbling up inside of her. It tickled her that they would use the same word sea-farers used for everyone who didn't spend the majority of their life on a ship.

"I'm sorry," she said finally when the laughing fit passed. "That name has a different meaning on the surface but no, I'm not really a land walker. I still live on the sea but on the ships you see," she motioned to the surface briefly. "So I'm not sure exactly what I could tell you about the landwalkers," another twitch of her lips as she tried to keep her laughter from bubbling up. "But I sing," her pale peach eyes turned to 'Jero'. "And a little bit of piracy every now and then, but mostly the singing."
 
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Tijan

Prince of Ti'Ciuda
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He really wasn't very good at keeping up the nonchalant act, especially when Andromeda mentioned piracy. He didn't know much about surface customs (although he had been forced into lessons about it since the city's opening) but piracy was well known to their race. Naturally, the most common intersect between kivren and humans was seafaring, as Andromeda perfectly illustrated.

It sounded exciting. "And they let you?" he blurted out, then quickly tried to recover, "I - I mean, the surface dwellers. They're alright with a siren on their ship?" He knew the superstitions the sailors had of his people... at least those that made it into stories down here. He had always thought he would be unwelcome above the waves. Ti'Ciuda was attempting tolerance on a grand scale but it was an outlier, and anomaly.

Hali seemed less impressed. Couldn't she see how exciting this was? One of their own who had lived, really lived up there. Someone who moved freely between the two worlds, who could go wherever she pleased on land or sea.

"So... what are you doing here?" If she could go anywhere, why had she come to the vents of all places. The city above, sure, it was good for a tourist, but here? He had come here precisely because no one of consequence would be present.
 
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Hali

The Little Piranha
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Hali could wiggle her hips around the ocean with all the confidence in the world; but the land? The land frightened her. She was against the idea of Ti'Ciuda's doors opening to those who dwelled above the surface of the waves. They'd only want to take it all for themselves, pirates, all of them. But in true Hali tradition, rather than admit to being afraid of anything she'd just look disgusted and angry instead. Particularly, when she was outright laughed at.

Slender brows arched as the woman laughed at her, her pale cheeks flushed a furious pink, and she looked between the two as Ti seemed to find her so interesting... She reached for the curved bone dagger on her hip and lifted it into the air to slam it down into the barnacle encrusted table, a livid look in her amber gaze as it bore through the siren.

"Not tonight, Hali!" the barman groaned loudly.. "You're out of warnin's, kid!"

Hali froze, her jaw clenching as she quietly seethed for a moment before slowly settling back down.. "S'alright Ker... I wasn't gonna touch her... we're just playing.." she told him, her tone a musical cadence of pure mischief. She plucked the dagger from the table and returned it to her side with a sickly sweet smile.

"Sorry."
 
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Andromeda

Travelling Singer
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Andromeda wasn't a stranger to violence. She frequently flirted with it, had kissed death himself on the lips more than once. It was the risks that came with living the life of a pirate and she was comfortable enough in her abilities that she could handle herself. Down here however, Ana wasn't as sure how well her talents would work. She had never had the opportunity to try it out on one of her own kind before. What if they had some sort of immunity? She was also pretty sure they were probably better, stronger swimmers having spent their whole life beneath the waves.

She didn't fancy her luck as much here.

Ana stared at the blade darkly and raised her eyes to meet the other woman's defiantly with a tilt of her chin. To the seven hells if she would actually let on she was nervous though.

"My crew knew," she said eventually, eyes sliding back to the man between them and offering a darling smile. "But, it wasn't something I went about advertising. They're a bit superstitious and it is also a... trump card having a siren onboard during fights," being able to make the opposing side dash their ship against the rocks willingly meant a rather peaceful time of it. "Maybe it's the life of piracy that makes me seek out the more ... uncouth bits of a town, but I find you meet more interesting people here than you do where all the glitz and glamour is."

Her eyes flickered to Hali. And, of course, the usual trouble.
 
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Tijan

Prince of Ti'Ciuda
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He instinctively ducked his head a few inches when the bartender yelled at Hali. He wasn’t worried about the bartender, he’d bought the whole ‘Jero’ story well enough... or at least had the sense not to worry why the prince was here. No, it was others here that he didn’t want looking too closely.

”Aaalright,” he said with a nervous laugh and slid himself in between the pair, floating just over the table facing Andromeda and giving Hali a good nudge with a fin from his tail. Her pugnaciousness was one of her best qualities, in his mind, but there was a time and a place. Just keep it cool for one day.

As for Andromeda’s reasoning, he couldn’t agree more. Glitz and glamour were exactly what he was avoiding today, and with a simpering smile of white, serrated teeth he purred back ”Well you’re certainly proving that poi-“ but he stopped. Through the door of the shack had just drifted a very large, very scaly, and very stern looking Kivren. What was worse, he wore the badge of a palace guard.

Ti’Jan immediately whirled behind Hali, ducking low with his hands on her shoulders. ”Hey, uh, you know what’s even better than this place? The steam mines. Yeah! Let’s go! Out the back. It’s... quicker.”
 
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Hali

The Little Piranha
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Her amber eyes were like smouldering embers as she glared at the woman, and they slowly narrowed at the defiance she showed. The corner of Hali's lips tugged into a wry smirk and she dipped her chin in some semblance of mute respect. She could appreciate when someone rose to her challenge, the ones who backed down were boring. Maybe she could have some fun with this one yet.

The kivren's brow furrowed irritably as Ti tail-nudged her, and she nudged him right back before folding her arms petulantly. Intoxication was only ever a catalyst for her misbehaviour, she was mischievous enough when she was sober, but she knew how to have fun, and trouble was some of the best fun.

As Tijan moved as quickly as he did, she tensed and straightened up, her gaze casting around and settling on the palace guard. She slunk down and lowered her head. Palace guards tended to have little patience for Hali, and as much as she enjoyed making their lives more difficult than they had to be, she was already in a spot of trouble and could do without being dragged back there herself.

"Steam mines sound like fun. Mhm.." she nodded quickly and reached out to grab hold of Ana's wrist. They'd only just met their new friend, and they weren't done with her yet. She wanted to see Ti'Ciuda, she'd see Ti'Ciuda.

"Let's go."
 
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Andromeda

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"What?" Ana half turned to look in the direction her two new acquaintances were hiding from. That in itself wasn't new, anyone in a joint like this probably wasn't on the good side of anything, but it was always interesting to see what kind of authority sent other people scurrying. She was surprised to see a kirven in polished armour of some kind giving the room a stern glower. Most of the patrons were attempting to make themselves smaller or slink further into the shadows so the response from the two across from her was not exactly out of the ordinary. Yet they did seem more concerned for the others.

"Why are y-?" Her sentence was cut off with a squeak as Hali grabbed her wrist and practically hurled her over the top of the table. There was a door at the back the pair seemed to be making for, which seemed wise given the guard had entered the establishment and was now doing the rounds. He peered into booths, glanced under tables. So he was looking for someone... Her eyes flickered back to the two ahead of her as she was dragged through the door and out into the water streets.

"What was that?" Ana raised both brows. Of course, the palace uniform meant nothing to her.
 

Tijan

Prince of Ti'Ciuda
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Their exit was swift and practiced, and the small train of mer-people shot out of the Lobster Trap and into equally dark waters beyond. They were low, and the corridors of this level of the city followed stony trenches. One could still see the open water above, if it were a clear day, and indeed today the lights from the more "respectable" parts of the city were filtering down little by little. Even so, the extra depth cut the light by half, at least.

This wasn't an issue for Kivren, being adapted to deep waters, but there were fewer surface "tourists" in these parts. Dwarves seemed to like the canyons more than most, and their diving apparatuses were fitted with glowstones that almost hurt to look at.

"No one, don't worry about it," he lied, still moving down the narrow stone-lined channel. "The mines are way more fun, you'll see!"

Speed was of the essence, and Ti'Jan wasted little time to see if their guest was ok with the new plan of action. He knew where to go... more or less... but so long as the water kept getting warmer he was likely to be on the right path.

The fact that a guard had even come that close, though, was concerning. It meant that his mother would be having exactly none of his shit and that people had been questioned. The bartender from before was decent enough not to call the guard himself, but Ti'Jan knew he would not lie on the deliquent prince's behalf.

There was a hole in the stones to their left after a time. Warm water was definitely coming from it, and it looked like a most excellent way to skirt their pursuers. "Through here! It's a, a shortcut!" It was not a shortcut.
 
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Hali

The Little Piranha
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Hali was giggling manically to herself as they fled. The chase had always been a source of great excitement for her, even more so when she was seven sea slugs deep and her mind was addled with toxins. Hali was fast, much to most of the palace guards' chagrin.. "You're gon be in soooo much trouble.." she sang as Tijan answered their new friend with a lie, and she sped ahead of the pair with a musical laugh.

Through here! It's a, a shortcut!

Hali's fin halted her abruptly and she turned to see them entering the dark abyss, her gaze widening as she rushed off after them. "Ti, no wait!!"

It was a tunnel. But that tunnel was occupied. There was next to no light at all inside, but just enough to make out the dozens of large holes that ribbed the cavernous void.

"Stop!" Hali exclaimed in as much of a whisper as she could. It wasn't often she looked afraid, but she was gesturing desperately at the pair to come back out and she pressed a finger to her lips. Perhaps, the occupants would not realise their intrusion if they quietly retreated.

Suddenly, a warm glowing light appeared inside one of the holes, and then another. Hali froze, and soon each of the dark cavities had warm and inviting lights on to welcome in their guests. And after a moment, the little orbs drifted outward, and blinked.

"MOVE!" ...

Shadow eels.


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Andromeda

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Teeth as long as her tail suddenly gnashed towards the two merfolk who had been stupid enough to enter the tunnel. Ana screamed and narrowly avoided one set of jaws only to find herself almost in another set. The eels worked as a team to try and trap their prey within the coils of their long, sickly flesh. Odd hissed snarls made a deafening noise of danger. Every scale on her body practically stood up on end with the electric feel of it that spread through the waterway.

Andromeda crashed into the ceiling, quickly followed by one of the eels which lunged after her. Thankfully the golden siren was quicker than the eel and a lot smaller. She twisted sharply and the creature howled in pain as it thundered into the roof. The tunnel shook and Ana dove down, down almost to the very bottom through coils of eel. Another two of the horrid things pursued her, her golden scales drawing their attention more than the dark prince. Unfortunately in doing so their heads sored through the coil of one of their brethren and they tied themselves into a knot as Ana dove out of the tunnel and into the light.

"What the hell were those things?" they were not native to her coral shores nor the more shallow waters she tended to swim in.
 
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Tijan

Prince of Ti'Ciuda
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Ti’Jan darted into the tunnel too quickly to heed Hali’s warning. It was cramped, and the water was warm, and as he saw the lights open one after the other, he slowly came to realize where he had led them.

”Oh, f-” The eels drowned out his words in a swarm of biting teeth and slicing fins. Their eyes left trails in the darkness, further confounding where one serpent began and the other ended. In his alarm, Ti’Jan’s body produced a light show of its own.

Green spots of luminescence flared to life on his face, arms, chest and back. The small dots ran down the sides of his long body and dotted the crests of his fins. They were not very bright, but they were enough to outline him as a jade flurry, and perhaps disorient attackers?

The eels, unfortunately, did not need to be precise, and the obvious target before them was simple enough to bite at. The prince could feel the piercing fangs against his scales, and he wrestled a creature from around his shoulders, clawing into its soft flesh as best he could, but more came.

A flick of his wrist and a short jetting current brought the dagger into his hand. Hali really had a knack for delivering just what was needed in the knick of time. The obsidian blade was meant as much for art as it was for battle, but it cut like a dream, and soon Andromeda’s glittering scales were obscured behind a thick cloud of inky blood.

To an onlooker, there would be a muffled and hazy light show from within the cloud until finally, with cuts on his face and eyes open wide, Ti’Jan darted from it.

”Swim!” was the best he could manage as he descended and shoved Hali towards the faint light that marked the exit.

He gulped at the tepid waters once returning to the light and the gill slits at his sides heaved, revealing the brilliant red feathers within. ”Those,” he gasped, ”Were shadow eels. Nasty in a group.” He brought the knife up to his face, inspecting the sticky strands of blood that waved from it in the currents. ”Nice toy, Hal,” he gave a weak smirk.
 
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Hali

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Fuck.

"No no no no nononono no nooo.." Hali sang hysterically to herself as the eels woke and she watched the chaos unfold. And then there was blood, and as Ana swam toward her she darted toward the cave, armed with her own little dagger.

"Ti!!" she screamed out in panic, hitting out at the first eel she could grab hold at, the blade rapidly stabbing at the creature's neck as it dragged Hali through the water and into the cavern walls until it stilled and floated idly. She swam out through the cloud of blood back to Ana and whipped herself around, her amber eyes frantically searching the murky waters for Ti, her heart thundering in her chest.

She had been about to swim back in when the Prince emerged and she squealed with relief as he shoved her back toward the light. "Are you alright?" she asked as they slowed, and she swam around him, assessing the damage with concern.

"Never seen a shadow eel before?.." Hali asked Ana with a quirk in her brow. "They ent even the scariest thing down here.. His mother is worse.." she gestured to Ti with a jerk of her chin. "We should get Petra to patch you up." she grumbled and rubbed stressfully at her forehead.

No doubt she'd get the blame for this.
 
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Andromeda

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"No I en't," Ana rubbed her arms and glanced back over her shoulder towards the ominous tunnel from which was coming that soft, alluring glow once more. Her usual swim spots were shallower or in the hotter coral reefs; shadow eels would have a hard time finding somewhere to lurk in those waters. That wasn't to say there weren't dangers where she was from but they were certainly not like that. Those would no doubt haunt her dreams for some time to come.

"Is you ma par' o' the reason that guard were lookin' for you?" narrowed peach eyes moved from Hali to the Prince in suspicion. Overprotective parents and their spoilt children trying to buck the leash were not the types of person she liked to get muddled up in. There always came a time where it backfired when it was them that were using you. In a mothers eyes it would always be your fault, not theirs. Her face did soften somewhat when she saw the cuts though.

"If you don' want to get in trouble I can stitch tha'."
 
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Tijan

Prince of Ti'Ciuda
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”I’m alright,” he brushed off Hali’s concern, though blood was still wafting into the current from his open cuts and scrapes. ”Nothing deep. Are you ok? And... you?” His face showed rare sincerity in his concern for his lifelong friend, and more than a little guilt as he checked on Ana. Quite an introduction to the city, this had been.

"Is you ma par' o' the reason that guard were lookin' for you?"

He grimaced at the question, but he did feel like he owed Ana some semblance of truth at the very least. An explanation for why he had thrust them into harm's way, even if unintentionally.

"Yeah... you could say that," he rubbed the back of his neck in the quiet waters, his hair floating gently upwards. Her offer to help only pulled at his conscience more, and he was glad to be able to fall back on Hali's suggestion.

"Thanks, but yeah, Petra'll see to me I'm sure. She can also make sure everyone's alright." He didn't add that Petra would not likely be bothered by city guard, and he certainly didn't explain why.

Petra dwelled in the deep city, as luck would have it. Ti'Jan always thought it unfair that she should be relegated to the shadowy, hot waters just because her crafts were a little unusual... but he did appreciate having an ally in his favorite hiding places.

He made sure to keep to sunlit waters from now on, and while he still checked around corners and looked behind them often, he tried to move quickly. The lights on his body had faded again, but the small wisps of blood would be carried far to anyone who cared to sniff him out.

Petra's home was sequestered in a small overhang of dark rock. Eerie green lights flickered like torches at the entrance, and no matter how many times he asked Petra never revealed how she'd made fire burn beneath the waves. He approached the simple door, looked behind them once more, and then knocked three times. It was encrusted with coral, and it opened to reveal a thin-faced woman. Her hair was dark as ink as the upper half of her body loomed out from the darkness within.

"Jero," her voice made his fins prickle, the way it seemed to worm into his ears and caress his thoughts. She looked at Hali and Ana. "Come in." She opened the door fully and revealed a swirling mass of thick, creeping tentacles.

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Ti'Jan nodded in thanks, and swam inside. The singular room took the shape of a large dome with numerous alcoves carved into its smooth walls. More green fire flickered from within, and all manner of glass baubles contained strange sea plants and creatures. Shining crystals glittered on shelves and stone mortars and metal tools lay across various work surfaces.
 
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