Private Tales The Mountains Ahead

Discussion in 'The Chronicles' started by Kasim Areth, Sep 14, 2018.

  1. Kasim Areth

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    Kasim sat quietly within the small encampment that he and Aviana had fashioned themselves. There was a small fire in the middle of a forest clearing, a pile of logs and twigs, a place for the horses, and then two makeshift bed rolls that they had managed to snag while passing through a village.

    It wasn't anything fancy, but it was enough.

    In his lap rested the sword that he had stolen from the bandit a few weeks ago. It lay splayed out across his legs, the scabbard tossed to the side. In his hand was a small steel tool, one that he had paid a blacksmith quite a bit of money for. At it's tip was an odd sort of gem, dug from the nearby mountains long ago.

    With a careful hand Kasim worked at the sword, using the gem tool to place small lines within the steel. The work took forever and a day, mostly because even the steel of the cheapest blade was still of decent quality. He had been carving this particular line for nearly three nights in a row now and the Rune it was a part of was far from done.

    It would likely be another week before he finished it.

    Unfortunate as that fact was, it couldn't be helped. Etching the Rune into the blade itself was important if the magic was going to work, and while it was easier to do when one was forging the weapon...Kasim didn't have that choice.

    Thus he worked quietly, as he had nearly every night since getting the sword.
     
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  2. Aviana Sabel

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    Aviana was seated on the other side of the little campfire that the pair had set up. During their travels, the young woman had procured herself a more subdued set of clothes than the refined noble garments she'd brought with her from home, but she had outright refused to give up her riding boots. Those were far too comfortable and worn in for her to risk trading in for an ill-fitted pair that would chafe and hurt her feet. She now wore dark brown trousers, with a simple green tunic and a sand-colored vest. There were leather bindings wrapped around her midsection to offer some protection, while also giving her figure a shape. However, it didn't much matter what kind of clothing the woman wore; she still stood out with her physical appearance and the way that she carried herself.

    She was watching Kasim while he worked on the confiscated blade, intrigued by the process in and of itself. It seemed to require quite a bit of focus, and she was reluctant to disrupt him while he etched the rune. Still, the food had been cooked for nearly half an hour now, and she figured that the man would like to eat at some point.

    Using only her legs, with plates of food in both hands, she rose up in a single, fluid motion and padded over to Kasim. Without her armor on, she moved in near silence and her natural grace was more apparent. She smiled softly, holding one of the plates out to her companion. "You should eat something, Mr. Areth. It's getting late."
     
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  3. Kasim Areth

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    Kasim stopped his carving, letting out a puff of air to blow away some of the metal shavings that came from the blade.

    Without a word he looked up, smiling slightly. On their journey he had not needed to use any of the runes inscribed on his body, not yet anyway, and thus hed not needed as much food as he usually did. It helped that most of their journey had so far taken place on horseback, something else that kept his energy up even throughout the waning ours of the day.

    Still, she was right. Food was important, particularly with the cold of the mountains looming. ”Thank you.”

    The Jester said as he put down the odd tool and reached up to grab a plate from Aviana. He allowed the sword to stay in his lap, but only because moving it would be an annoying pain he didnt want do deal with at the moment.

    Shifting slightly he looked up at her.

    ”We’ll reach the foothills tomorrow.” He explained. ”From there we will have to decide on one of three paths.”
     
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  4. Aviana Sabel

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    Once he had taken the plate from her, Aviana smiled faintly and then moved to take a seat nearby. Her own plate of food was balanced on one knee once she was settled onto one of the logs that doubled as a seat. She delicately picked at the food with her fingers, then would nibble on the morsels that she had torn off. It was a slower way to eat, but at least she didn't make a mess.

    "What are the three options?" She asked the obvious question that Kasim had led her to. She didn't mind engaging in a simple conversation. Kasim hadn't gotten fed up with her and left her behind yet, which was mildly surprising, as she hadn't expected the jester to stick around more than a few days. That time had long since passed, and now stretched into weeks."I assume it's different routes to either take through or around the mountains?"
     
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  5. Kasim Areth

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    Kasim nodded.

    He had made the trip over the spine more than a dozen times in his travels. Usually it had been with a caravan or a group, but once or twice hed done it on his own. No matter which way you went it was dangerous, though some less than others.

    ”We can go north towards Batharik and the orcs.” It would take longer, but the odds of bandits were low. The orcs didnt tend to raid small parties and law breakers were generally taken care of very quickly within their lands.

    Something Kasim had always liked.

    ”We could also take one of the mountain passes, but we have neither the clothes nor the rations so we would need to stop somewhere.” It would be cold in the mountain passes. ”Lastly there are the old dwarven trade roads beneath the Spine but...”

    He paused before he added the consequence of that route, taking a breath. ”Well, they have their own dangers.”
     
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  6. Aviana Sabel

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    Remarkably, Aviana didn't try to assert herself in the decision right away. She didn't have the knowledge of the landscape, nor of the various dangers that littered the mountain roads. Instead, she quietly chewed her latest mouthful of food while she listened to him lay out the options before them.

    She twisted a little in her position, gazing off in the direction where the mountains lay. Even though she couldn't see them on the horizon in the darkness, she still knew that they were looming in the distance. Part of her was drawn to a particular course, suspecting that part of the entire reason she'd been sent to the mainland could be found beneath the mountains.

    "You know this land better than I do, Mr. Areth. Which route would you recommend?" She asked, turning her blue eyes back to Kasim.
     
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  7. Kasim Areth

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    He considered the question for a moment. Heading north would undoubtedly be the safest, but it would also add several weeks to their journey. Meeting up with the orc might have been interesting, even fun. They were a lively people, not the horrid barbarians that many painted them to be.

    Still, several weeks of travel simply wasnt worth it to him. ”The Mountain pass perhaps.”

    He mused.

    ”Though only if we can get the proper supplies in the next village. Without those it would be suicide.” It was not yet winter, but in this high passes the cold fell on you faster than even the northern tundras. Kasim refused to make the journey unless they were well prepared. ”If not then the old roads. I know a path that should be safe.”

    It had been a year ago, but things changed quickly beneath the mountains.

    He'd learned that from the dwarves themselves.
     
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  8. Aviana Sabel

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    "The old roads." She repeated the name in a low voice, almost as if she was testing the sound of the individual words. That sounded promising to her. It was unlikely that the naga had ventured this far inland yet, perhaps she could beat them there?

    At some point, she knew that she was going to have to come clean and tell Kasim excatly what her journey was for... And what she carried with her in that satchel. It would either motivate him to stay longer for the chance at a story, or it would send him running for the hills. She wasn't entirely sure which one it would be. He seemed to be invested in getting a tale out of her... But she'd also seen how quick he was to avoid a dangerous situation.

    "Could you tell me more about them? I've not heard of them before, but the name has me intrigued." She asked curiously, sipping from her canteen of water.
     
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  9. Kasim Areth

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    ”A few centuries ago the Dwarves were much more...present in the world than they are now.” That was a good way of putting it. ”They controlled almost the entire spine. They had more than just Belgrath, an entire Empire really. Dozens of holds, towns, all of that.”

    This wasnt entirely common knowledge, more stories really. Kasim only knew of it because of his father, and of course the dwarves that he had traveled with over the last few years. They were a folk eager to tell their history, most being genuinely delighted to simply talk about their kind in any way at all.

    It was a strange sort of pride. ”All of this was connected by a series of roads beneath the Spine. Dozens, if not hundreds of carefully made halls, caverns, and even underground bridges.”

    He smiled slightly then continued.

    ”But the decline took a toll on the roads. Some collapsed, others simply went dark and some…” He trailed off for a second. ”Some are not spoken of at all.”
     
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  10. Aviana Sabel

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    She smiled a little, setting the empty plate down on the ground in front of her. "Sounds like a good opportunity to seek out a story, yeah?" She suggested, smiling warmly. During their travels together, her smiles had grown more genuine and had even started to reach her eyes.

    Her hands reached towards the flames, seeking out the warmth cast off by the fire.

    She'd found that she enjoyed baiting the jester just to see what his reactions would be. More often than not, she wasn't disappointed.
     
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  11. Kasim Areth

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    ”Or death.” Kasim commented dryly.

    In truth he had not seen many of the dangers of the deep roads on his own journey through them. The caravan he had traveled with had mostly consisted of dwarves and well trained adventurers. Their path had been lit by torches and they had seen none of the monsters or bandits that supposedly now made their home beneath the Spine.

    However, Kasim wasnt fool enough to dismiss the stories out of hand.

    He had spoken with more than one dwarf about what lurked within the depths. Some had been drunkards, others seeking coin, but a few had been honest and trustworthy men. All of the stories aligned more or less. The dangers of the old roads were more than clear, though Kasim thought they would be able to make it if they had to. As long as they were careful.

    ”We’ll see what the next village offers.” He told her. ”Id rather run into a dragon in the mountain pass than a Basilisk in the deep roads.”

    Kasim chuckled to himself quietly.
     
  12. Aviana Sabel

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    Aviana's slightly pointed ears perked up at the mention of dragons and she canted her head to the side, ruffling a hand through her hair. "There are dragons in the mountains?" She hadn't meant to sound as hopeful or excited as she did, but the tone was there nonetheless. She cleared her throat and tried again for a more apprehensive attempt. "As in... living dragons?"

    "I've only ever heard of a basilisk in tales, there weren't any near Minaris on Sheketh." She added a moment later, turning her gaze towards the fire as she wrapped her arms around her midsection.
     
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  13. Kasim Areth

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    He blinked, somewhat surprised by her reaction. ”Of course.”

    They were admittedly rare, but Dragons had been known to roam near the Spine for centuries. Some of them even made it as far as the Allirian Reaches. They tended to prey upon cattle and the local wildlife, but most of the time they kept to themselves. A few times a year there would be reports of an entire village being burned, but most of the time it was just a rumor or some story.

    Kasim had seen one briefly, though it had been so high up in the sky that it might as well have been a hawk or an eagle. He smiled for a second then reached towards his pack, digging out a small vial.

    Within it was a liquid of dark maroon.

    ”See? Dragon blood.” He held it between his fingers to show her. ”Creates a very powerful effect in rune magic.”

    He had gotten this vial from a trader in Cerak At’Thul, another place where the beats roamed free. ”Same goes for Basilisk venom actually, but its more dangerous to carry.”
     
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  14. Aviana Sabel

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    She leaned closer to get a better look at the dark liquid, her eyes wide with curiosity, almost close to veneration. Where she was from, dragons were revered -- almost to the point of worship.

    "What kind of effect does it give?" She asked softly, raising her gaze to meet his. "And I trust that it's not as volatile or dangerous as basilisk venom?"

    Part of her wanted to divulge the secret that she kept in her bag, but she had the presence of mind to refrain from doing so. She couldn't be sure if she could trust Kasim with something so delicate just yet.
     
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  15. Kasim Areth

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    "Not volatile no." At least no that Kasim knew anyway.

    He had been carrying the blood for the better part of four months now. He'd used a bit of it in the first week, mostly just to test if it was real. Happily, it had worked perfectly.

    "The effect of Rune Magic is determined by three things." Kasim began to explain. "What the Rune is inscribed on, the Rune Itself, and what the Rune is written with."

    He had learned his in the ancient libraries back home. "Consider Ink the baseline of writing Runes. The effects would simply be 'normal', but with Dragon blood..."

    Kasim trailed off.

    "A simple rune of 'fire' might turn into an inferno." Slowly he tucked the vial back into his bag. "A rune of 'wall' might turn into a fortress."

    And that was underselling it really.
     
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  16. Aviana Sabel

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    There had been mages who utilized Rune Magic in Minaris, but she had never really been instructed on the intimacies of the craft outside of introductory level. Judging by Kasim's description of the dragon blood, she reasoned that it was a component that only experienced mages should handle; lest an unaware novice accidentally blew up his own home.

    "So, what is the rune that you're inscribing on the sword then?" She asked inquisitively, leaning over to peer more closely at the blade itself. "Or rather, what does it do?"

    The thought of enchanting a weapon was an interesting concept, and one that she could think of several applications for.
     
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  17. Kasim Areth

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    "It's a protective one." Kasim stated simply with a shrug.

    It was one of the first that he had taught himself after leaving Vel Anir. He'd found it helped in keeping pretty much everything he'd kept from rotting away. It had seemed an urgent problem in his travels, and if Aviana looked closely enough she would find the rune all over the Jester's clothes.

    Including his boots.

    "It will keep the sword from blunting." He told her. "Though only works because of the complexity of the rune itself."

    That was part of how Rune Magic worked. "That's why it's taking so long, it's not as simple as writing 'protect' in the runic language."
     
  18. Aviana Sabel

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    "That's certainly useful. Well worth the effort of etching it in then." She mused, sitting back on her log with a faint smirk.

    Her head tilted back slightly so that she could gaze up at the stars that hung overhead in the night sky. She took a deep breath and slowly exhaled through her nose. It was difficult to not think of home on clear nights like this one. For a short while, she imagined that she could hear the steady roil of the ocean off in the distance. There was a persistent ache in her chest from being homesick, but she did her best to not complain about it. That would only invite questions that she didn't want to answer.

    "How long until you've finished it? A few more days?"
     
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  19. Kasim Areth

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    He nodded.

    "Have to be careful with something like this." The Runes were not an exceptionally forgiving craft. Magic didn't care whether you made a mistake on purpose or by...mistake. "One wrong notch and the thing could explode on first contact."

    Or melt, or turn into a snake, or do any one of a hundred different things that would see him dead. Kasim had made a lot of mistake when he had first learned the runes, mistakes that he was not eager to repeat any time soon.

    Pulling the sword a little closer into his lap Kasim once again picked up the small steel tool and began to etch once more. The task was a difficult one, and he wanted to complete it before they ran into any more trouble. "It will come in handy no doubt."

    Especially if they went through the deep roads.
     
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  20. Aviana Sabel

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    She nodded quietly, lacing her fingers together beneath the nape of her neck. It was a relaxed position and allowed her to drop her head back comfortably.

    "Tomorrow is a big day then. Seeing as it'll likely determine which path we follow." She mused softly. "Wonder which way the wind will take us next."

    The wind metaphors were still a work in progress for the wayward duchess, but she felt as though she was improving at the very least. Though it did very little to hide her accent. She wondered how they would be treated in the next village, and she was curious as to how Kasim would finagle the townsfolk into giving him equipment and goods for free this time.
     
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  21. Kasim Areth

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    He smiled. "I suppose we'll see."

    In truth, he hoped for the mountain passes. The cold was miserable, the hike was tiresome, but there he at the very least knew of the threats that they would come across.

    With the Old Roads the picture in his mind was incomplete. He knew of the bandits, he knew of the maze like layout, but everything else? Everything else he knew nothing about. There were bits and pieces of those roads that even the Dwarves feared to venture into.

    The abyss consumed them, and Kasim was afraid of wandering into it.

    "You should rest." He told her. "It will be important."
     
  22. Aviana Sabel

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    "I'll let you finish your work in peace. If you need me, I'll be in my tent." She smiled and stood up, tossing the rest of the bones from her meal into the fire.

    The chance of finding a dragon in the mountain pass had left her feeling torn. What little information she had suggested that what she was looking for would be hidden away in the depths of the spine... but perhaps the mountain road itself would prove fruitful. Could the naga even survive that far up? There was so little known about the monsters that she wasn't sure. If they couldn't endure the frigid conditions, perhaps that would deter any scouting parties from exploring it.

    "Don't stay up too late, Mr. Areth."
     
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  23. Kasim Areth

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    "Mmh." Kasim knew that finishing the sword was unlikely before they finished the mountains.

    Crafting the proper rune took time. He could make it more simple of course, but then the effect either wouldn't work at all or would fail at a crucial moment. It was better to take his time and work as he could, other than that he would just have to deal with the consequences.

    It had been long since he'd carried an actual sword, longer still since he'd practiced with one of the weapons.

    He had never been a master of the craft, that had been his brother. Still, he'd managed his own against most of the Anirian Guard, and he knew that if they were going to be traveling it was best to be armed rather than not. Stretching slightly Kasim hunched over and continued his work well into the night.

    Eventually though he too bedded down, knowing the day ahead.
     
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  24. Aviana Sabel

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    Aviana made it a point to wake up before Kasim the next morning, which of course meant that she was up well before the sun was even up. In the cool dark morning, she quietly moved through the camp and packed up her gear. The tent was broken down and rolled up, slung onto the back of Erodin's saddle and strapped into place. Today she was wearing a grey jacket over her tunic to ward off the chill in the air.

    Once she'd packed up her bed roll and tent, she checked on the egg after she'd affixed the satchel to the saddle. The glowing veins that streaked through the protective shell were certainly more vibrant and active, seeming to pulsate slightly. How much longer was she going to be able to keep it hidden?

    She heard Kasim stirring, and she quickly snapped the bag shut, moving away from the elk to tend to the campfire and make sure that it was completely snuffed.
     
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  25. Kasim Areth

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    Kasim pulled the scabbard and blade onto his back, shifting the strap so that it rested more comfortably on his shoulders.

    He was not used to carrying the weapon, and it's weight still sat quite oddly along with his pack. The Jester wondered if he would be more used to it had he chosen to become a sell sword. It seemed unlikely to him, mostly because the idea itself was. He'd never much liked war after all.

    His father had called him a coward for that, but Kasim had simply never seen the point in throwing away his life in some grand melee. Unlike his brother. "Ready?"

    Kasim called out to Aviana.

    He wanted to get the day started, the faster they got to the village the faster they would be able to determine the path that they needed to take. The Pass or the Deep roads, those were the choices ahead of them.
     

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