Aerion [IC] Rated M
Varian Sigmund- Dalenham
Varian walked casually through the streets of Dalenham. For the most part, the people of the city paid him no heed. It was not so unusual to see a Highmen in Eveamoor. In fact, it wasn’t highly abnormal to see pretty much any race in the country. Its reputation as a frail nation caused many to travel here and exploit it, and thus travelers from Vanaheim, Falke, Ethora, and even Miracyia was a customary sight. For the most part, many did not care either way, and those who did were usually in no position to do anything about it. Thus was the circumstance of Eveamoor.
But Varian cared neither for the political or economic situation of Eveamoor nor its citizens. What he was most concerned with presently was receiving the reward promised to himself and his group for the job they had just completed up in Sabamin. He carried a sack in his hands, which inside was the head of the recently slain orc bandit leader, the bounty the group needed for payment. Varian had only recently begun travel with the group, as before it had been just himself and Cassandra. It was the first time in a while that he actually worked together with so many people without them...well, dying. It was a promising sight, but Varian still didn’t quite know what the future held for himself and this new mercenary company. He turned right on the corner, exiting from the Market Street and heading down a smaller, shabby street. The buildings which stood here were even less impressive than those on the main street. Most were old and looked like they stood upon their last inch of life, on the verge of collapsing. Horse manure was all across the pathway, no one bothered to clean it up. In fact, no one bothered to do anything on this street. It wasn’t like many people bothered to venture here. Varian walked into the second door from the left into an old, wooden tavern. The inside reflected much of the outside: old, filthy, and for the most part vacant, except for a few men on the second level, drinking, and a the tender of the tavern, who stood behind a wooden table who wiped the table, acting as though he was cleaning. Varian noted at the odd paradox of this, seeing as it was painfully obvious the place had not been cleaned since…ever.
The man at the bars was a short one, at least to Varian, probably not coming up to his shoulders. He had long, black hair he kept in a ponytail and an untrimmed beard. His face was covered with grime and dirt, to such an extent that Varian could not tell his true skin color. His clothes were modest for the area he occupied, but he would probably look like a beggar if he traveled anywhere beyond it. The man’s supposed name was Edward, but Varian was certain that was an alias. But Varian didn’t care. To him, he was just his contractor, a middleman between the client and the sellsword. The contractor would hear the requests of folk for certain jobs that needed to be done, and the client would deposit the gold with them. Mercenaries would then seek out these contractors for potential jobs, and if fulfilled to the best of the client’s demands, the gold would be given to them. Varian always preferred receiving his money from a contractor rather than the actual client. With a contractor, it’s a simple checklist to see if every task assigned is complete, and the exchange commences. When handling an actual client, it becomes more personal. Jobs wouldn’t be about rescuing a man or a woman, but rather rescuing ‘my brother’, or ‘my betrothed’. You feel that you’re not working to get paid, but to help someone. And while that might sit well with others, it gives Varian a feeling of added responsibility which he doesn’t want placed on his shoulders. Making sure his men (or in this case women) are paid and alive is dependability enough for him.
Edward looked up from his cleaning job and acknowledged Varian’s entrance with a wave of his hand. “Ah, Varian! Back so soon. Is the job complete?”
Varian nodded as he lifted up the sack he was carrying around and dumped the contents of it on the table. It was the head of an orc, or the chieftan of the orcs to be precise, the ringleader in the attacks. The head rolled out of the sack and landed facing Edward. Edward made an aggravated face back at the head and sighed.
“Gods, I hate it.” Edward said, shaking his head. Varian looked up at him, wondering what he meant. “I hate it when they look at you when they die. Makes sleep much harder.”
“It’s just an orc.” Varian replied casually.
“That does not make him any less alive. It doesn’t make his eyes’ last sight of he who killed him any less damning.” Edward retorted, placing his hands on the table as he continued to gaze at the head.
“If you are so worried about the damned eyes of every creature I fell, the next time I bring one in, I’ll pluck them out before entering.” Varian retorted, a hint of impatience able to be detected from his tone. To this, Edward snapped into a smile and removed the orc head from the table, placing it into the sack and putting it below.
“Right, the money. The money. It’s always about the money…” He said, searching for a particular bag below. Varian noticed he marked every one of them with something different. He assumed each one applied to a different job. “How fares the village?”
“Sabamin still stands.” Varian said, crossing his arms as he waited for him to bring out his bag.
“And your company?” Edward said as he brought a bag with an ‘S’ labeled on it. Edward dropped the bag onto the table, with the sound of coin being heard when it impacted the table.
“No casualties.” Varian said as he opened the sack and dumped the silver onto the table. Edward sighed and rolled his eyes in response.
“Must you always do this?” He inquired, clearly irritated by the act. Varian began counting the silver, now lifting his eyes from his task as he monotonously answered back.
“Thrice before have you tried to swindle me.”
“Those were innocuous jests!” He said. Giving up, he threw his arms up in the air and leaned back on a table behind him, crossing his arms as he watched Varian count. “Bah…do what you want.”
For about a minute, the two remained silent, Varian busy counting the gold while Edward wordlessly observed. Of course, Varian had just cause to do this. He had known for some time that Edward had some tie to the Shadowfox Guild in Eveamoor, and Varian knew as such their reputation as thieves. Eventually, Varian concluded the count and separated each stack into equal portions, fitting them all into separate sacks he carried on him.
“All in order, then?” Edward asked, to which Varian nodded, turning around and heading for the exit. “Excellent. A pleasure doing business with you. Pass on my regards to Cass.”
Varian waved a hand back as he exited the tavern and went back to the street. He turned the corner once more, and proceeded down the Market Street, people still walking down, busy tending to their own affairs. Varian stayed his course as well, heading into the “Broken Keg” tavern. He scanned the room, seeing the different men and women who occupied it and confirmed his group had not yet arrived. He scoured for an empty table, finding one closer to the front of the room, and turned and whistled at the bartender, a stout man with a rather thick mustache.
“Orbrigg Ale!” Varian yelled at him. The bartender went to fetch the drink, groaning as he went. “Highman Brew, Raelus Ale, Ethorian Liquor, Falkan Wine! Makara help me because I'll never understand! Why is it that every foreigner that passes through Eveamoor never orders a drink that was actually made in Eveamoor?!”
“The good folk of Aerion will buy goods of Eveamoor the day Eveamoor makes something worth buying.” Varian replied calmly and coldly. The response was an eruption of laughter across the tavern. The bartender flicked his arm in Varian’s direction and continued to prepare the drink. Varian eased into his seat, awaiting the arrival of the others of his group.
Ser Roland and Percival Grey- Oculus Tower, Ekilore
Ser Roland of the House of Grey adjusted one of his dark-red gauntlets onto his arm as he prepared for his ship to arrive on Ekilore. He had answered the summons of the Monks of Ekilore in representation of Hector Reigncliff, his lord and who Roland believed was the true and rightful King of Ethora. It was an honor he could not describe, but Roland couldn't help but wonder of the circumstance of the summons. He assumed it was largely due to the assassination of the Ethorian king. If that was the case, he wasn't certain if he would take much pleasure in the visit. They would no doubt seek a diplomatic solution to the problem of the empty throne, and yet Roland would prefer if they would not meddle in the affairs of the Ethorians at all. Hector was the true king, and Roland had every intention of seeing him crowned, no matter who got in his way. Whatever the monks had planned, it usually came in the form of prophecy, so no matter if Roland wished not to have foreigners meddle, it would be foolish not to at least hear them out.
Moments later, Roland was upon his horse riding through the small wooden dock of Ekilore. He looked upon no one but the large Tower of Oculus before him. Roland rode up to the entrance of the tower. His eyes was set on the enormous building the whole time he rode, even as he got off his horse at the entrance. Roland's eyes departed from the tower for one moment to see a surprising figure standing right beside him, someone he had no intention of seeing here. In fact, he had no reason he should here, unless he was representing another lord of Ethora. This made Roland livid, especially because the man was his younger brother, Percival Grey.
"You! What in Andal's name are you doing here!?" Roland demanded of him.
"Oh, it's you," Percival stated, barely acknowledging the existence of his so called brother. Percival was far too much into thought to bother in conversation with Roland. Percival was on orders from his new sworn lord, Robert of House Welm, one of the great houses of Ethora, serving the summons of the Ekilorian Monks. Having never been to the Tower of Oculus, Percival was admiring the sight before ultimately getting wrapped into what he assumed was politics and other complicated issues that while he had great experience with was aware that things often never go well for anyone.
"Don't 'oh it's you' me! Answer the damn question!"
"Same reason you are here. I am representing House Welm."
Roland's eyes were filled with anger. He had usually not let others bother him so, but his brother had time and time again tested him with his casual speech and indifferent persona.
"How dare you! Have you lost all that is left of your decency!? You are of the House of Grey, loyal to Hector Reigncliff, and yet you persist on your injudicious devotion to this feeble House with a swine for a lord! It is as if with your every breath you seek to single-handedly tarnish the reputation our family has forged over decades!"
"And what reputation would that be?" Percival said with little emotion, as if spending any emotion on the conversation was pointless. He finally met the burning eyes of his brother, though with an empty icy gaze. Roland gritted his teeth as he returned the gaze at his brother. Like many times in the past in their conversations over the years, he once again was resisting the urge to skewer Percival where he stood. Had he not held the name of Grey, he would have done so a long time ago. He stood silently, no longer interested in pursuing a conversation with his brother, but instead, more interested on the purpose of the meeting.
A tense moment of silence had begun between the brothers. Roland tried for a moment to pretend his younger brother wasn’t even there next to him, but that he was alone in front of the immense Tower of Oculus. Yet for all his effort, his brother’s face and words remained in his mind. Roland scrutinized the tower in front of him instead, trying to determine how long the monks were planning on making him wait.
And then a loud, screeching creak came from behind the brothers as the large iron door cracked open revealing an average sized and plump bald human wearing opulent brightly colored robes. Percival recognized the man's profession immediately. He was an apprentice of the great monks of Ekilore, dedicating his entire life to their surface often in the pursuit of knowledge. There was often a trade off however, and one had to look no further than their title to discover the sacrifice. These men were called the Eunuchs. For generations, men would come to Ekilore and pledge themselves to the monks, revel in their teachings and then perform whatever was requested of them. Some stayed in the tower. Others were planted in the courts of the various kingdoms.
"Greetings my lords," the eunuch began. As he did, a rush of cold air swept through Percival, though he tried to rub off the chill as soon as he could. "You are the first ones to arrive. Do come in. The lords above have been expecting you for some time. I do fear a few of them have become oh so impatient." Percival led the way through the great iron door, hoping his brother wouldn't mind him taking the lead.
Percival stepped into the tower, with his footsteps producing a slight echo. As Roland came into the tower, the Eunuch closed the door creating a thunderous 'clank' that reverberated throughout the base of the tower. "Welcome to the Oculus Tower," he said as he took a position as the leader of the group. The two found themselves at the base of the tower, standing near the middle of a large circular room build around a golden platform squarely in the middle. The room was fairly well lit, at least well enough for the group to behold what many called the "Grand Library." Any person who considered themselves a scholar would call it Astrum, as the greatest written works called this library their home. The bookcases that housed these works ascended deep into the dark abyss above them. If the matter of the monks was not a priority, Percival would love to spend a few weeks in this tower.
Works of art were scattered about, often lying on the blank walls between the oversized bookcases. There were paintings on the walls depicting characters, emotions, events in histories and some harsh realities in the world. Feasts were balanced by famines, health to pestilence, peace to war and life to death. Glorious moments in history were immortalized, as were some more subdued moments. However, the most thought provoking pieces of art were pieces of art with interesting characters as the subjects. There was a prince appearing to sleep on his throne, a woman enjoying men drooling over her beauty and a man bathing himself in his gold and riches. Percival could not recognize such figures, though some bore a resemblance to figures he recalled studying. Percival wanted to ask about them, but the Eunuch seemed far too focused on leading the two of them up the small metal staircase onto the golden platform.
When the two took their respective positions on the platform, Percival became breathless for a moment as his eyes were set on a mural. He couldn't understand what captivated him so, but he was lost in its details and majestic design. The mural towered over the Roland and Percival at well over two meters tall, and about one meter wide. The frame surrounded the painting in a bright golden color, with decorative streaks of texture across it, as if to further demonstrate the significance of the image within. The painting itself utilized bright, beaming colors, the likes of which could produce a feeling of euphoria in even the greatest artists. The style of painting involved unusual brush strokes and indistinct lines and shapes, giving it a rather mystifying sensation, probably done purposefully by the creator. The mural itself contained at the foreground a gathering of men and women, their knees bent as if they were praying, or perhaps worshipping. They faced the direction of a lone figure on top of the painting, positioned on the hill. The figure’s arms are stretched outward, as if acknowledging their prayers, or perhaps forcing them down to the ground. The image is so vague that multiple interpretations could be given. Perhaps that was also purposefully done by the creator.
Above the mural was another set piece that quite literally gazed into Percival's being. Another rendition of the monks' symbolic eye loomed over the base level of the library. It was as massive as the one on the tower, with a seemingly glowing red eye that pulsed in the soft light provided by the torches. The other Eunuchs at the base did not seem to be bothered by the gaze of the red eye, minding their own business whether it be cleaning, organizing, reading or studying various novels and works. Some were appearing to write as well, while others were simply minding their own business. Regardless, there was a certain peaceful serenity about everything.
"Now my lords, do stay on the platform. Hold on to the railings if you feel like as though you will fall off," the Eunuch said, before pulling a small lever. The platform shook violently before suddenly moving. Percival lost his footing before catching himself on the railing, holding on to dear life. Roland did much of the same, not anticipating the fast movement. The Eunuch smiled and stood still, clearly used to the sensation of the moving platform. "We shall be there shortly," he nodded. Percival adjusted slowly, eventually being able to stand up at one point. The platform ascended up the tower at a fair speed, fast enough to make modest progress but slow enough that they could see the bookcases ascended high into the tower, at the various paintings decorated on the wall. Percival could of sworn he saw the characters from before continue to be the subject matter of various works of art, as if part of a series chronicling various lives. A story was being told, but he failed to make sense of it.
The platform came to a stop in a dimly lit stone room free of the opulence of the base of the tower, with a small iron door leading out of the room. It was rather depressing in comparison, but clearly it was a room that saw little use. "Come this way," the Eunuch said continuing to lead the way before pausing at the door. "I must warn you. The climb up the next of stairs is quite perilous. Stay close to the wall and you shall be fine."
"What do you mean 'perilous'? Percival asked, crossing his arms in skepticism.
"Oh, you will see," the Eunuch replied opening the door, only to once again unleash strong gust of wind upon them. The Eunuch walked through the door with the brothers, showing another sight to them. This one was received by a mixture of intimidation and awe from Percival. Intimidation in that Percival feared for his own well being. Awe in that he could see the world of Hyrus from his vantage point. From the kingdoms of Ethora, to the snow capped mountains of Vanaheim, to the sands of Rastra, to the islands of Rolsten and Shinguo to the coast of Falke, Percival could see from this own two eyes through the thin white clouds of the blue sky. Never before would he see such a sight and tried his best to etch into his mind. Roland let go of the railing as he marveled at the view in front of him, almost forgetting where he was.
“By the gods…” Roland whispered to himself, unsure if what he was actually seeing was true. From the top of the stairs, Roland could see the eunuch addressing them, but he was too far below to hear what was being said. Roland finally snapped from the sight of the view and proceeded to the top of the stairs, still taking the occasional glimpse at the lands below.
Over the gusts of wind, Percival could not hear anything the Eunuch said, only capturing a few words here and there. Nothing really made any sense, but he did heed his advice and practically hugged the wall with his life in the balance. The Eunuch lead them all the stairs, making their way around the door until they appeared to be behind the door. The view of the world that made Percival feel like a small child in a dream world was obscured by the room that only myths told of: the observatory of the monks of Ekilore. It appeared that the monks admired the view as much as anyone else as the observatory had every wall crafted by pure glass. Only the sold stone foundation and the pointed marble roof were exceptions, though the iron door and marble archway they stood underneath (with marble walls on each side to protect them from elements) that stood before them could mentioned in the same sentence.
"We are finally here," the Eunuch said. "Now we must wait for the others before the monks shall receive you. It should not be long."
XEYE ANASTASIA ZXKOL
THE BLUE WILDCAT
As the newest and youngest associate in the band of opportunists, young Xeye (pronounced Xay-ah), also known as Xey, just Z (pronouncing only the first letter of her name), or whatever other people who bothered to get to know her would call her, is intent on using this new venue to enhance her bounty hunting resume more so than she could if she worked alone. As it is now, the group is able to tackle obstacles, especially those involving multiple, interrelated targets or gangs and syndicates of those that simply are nearly impossible for individual assassins to take out. In that sense, little Xeye found an ideal way to promote herself as an elite hit-woman, associating herself with what could become the hottest, deadliest, and most feared mercenaries this side of Aerion. If in the worst case her colleagues weren't what they're cracked up to be or didn't hold up to the reputations that they held, or if they got killed off, she would simply part ways with them and resort to solo game for a living. The only hole in this strategy is where the money gathered for successful bounties is more oriented for a single assassin, in which case money meant for one person is instead split into 7. Xeye isn't too fond of that particular outcome, contemplating how the division of profit would be done, and undoubtedly some people would get more, even if it's just a few coins more due to the unclean math of dividing most numbers by a bizarre number like 7. If anything, Xeye would likely get the smallest amount, not for any reason that she found any evidence for, but rather because she is new, or the youngest, or maybe because they don't see her as an equal in strength. Whatever reasons she conjures in her mind, somehow, she is sure that her profit margins will dwarf everyone else's, even the dwarf's! Despite all this though, she would make the best of it, after all, she can always leave if she's not getting her fair share as she saw it. Her only fear, and her greatest of all, would be if her team of mercenaries, maddened in their pursuit of money would stumble on Xeye's darkest secret, one that could threaten her very life.
CrystiaFresh grain beneath her feet and a stable center of balance was Crystia's introduction to Elikore islands; her moans of relief stated it as such to the wind that stroked stray hairs along her cheek, and the lapping water who sought to give her a final soppy goodbye. Yet there was no buzzing of insects or fauna to greet the elf, as her pale soles glided across lush emerald grass like nobody had ever stepped upon it before. A slender finger brushed aside her fringe, if only for a moment, to watch the Tower of Oculus, whose girth stretched up to meet the heavens as though it were their lover.
"How very fitting that they would make it look like a giant phallus." Cyrstia uttered to no one in particular, though their presence wouldn't have stopped her uttering. Her lithe form skulked over to the grand iron door of the Tower of Oculus, followed by a fluttering ivory cape branded with the sigil of the Silver Plains, and the slightest trail of blue behind steps. The cape would simply not do as attire for these monks, despite the comfort it brought her on the devil-ship of Gallen, and it was on the forefront of her mind to find a spare set of robes to requisition. Were they to wear robes, that was, for nudity was just as likely a prospect.
Beneath the tips of her fingers, the crease where two iron portals met sought to allow passage in a grinding against the stone that formed the base of the Tower of Oculus, while she stood solitary in the cast of a shadow and spotted the supposed glory of the Grand Library through the corner of her eyes, to which she paid no heed. Crystia's steps were silent across the stonework that she was sure some would marvel at, just like the constructions of wax and wood they slotted into cases whose sheer girth could crush a city wall, had they the mind to.
It was all very grand, for the works of mortals, for whom constructing a hut was lauded as an accomplishment, indeed as her father had. Yet Crystia's refused to accept even the golden platform as significant, for she'd seen greater works wrought by nature without any effort; the bones of the earth formed by waves whose tongues licked like one thousand sword strokes, or the trickling sunlight across a horizon of thousand of miles of land that was placed there all through the glory of those greater than the creator of those murals. If they hoped to impress her, it would take nothing less than shaping cosmos itself.
The Ekilore symbol, of an unwavering red eye, was perhaps the only thing that could take Crystia's attention for more than a moment, as she hopped upon the golden platform and locked gazes with this sigil of all-seeing. For most, it would have been pervasive or intimidating, with the prospect of constant vigilance upon their lives something to be feared of anxious about. While, to the Monks, it would have been the comfort of knowing something was there to watch over them, or indeed that they were the watchers. In truth, it was nothing more than a symbol to represent the conflict of ideologies for those beneath her. Fate never ceased.
Then, the platform began to rise quickly enough to make Ctystia's cape drag against the back of her neck; the heavy thing was already serving as a nuisance after padding her bed on the ship ride over. Whatever possessed the Silver Plains nobles to wear the wretched things escaped the elf, but it took only a simple crouch against the ground to slow its momentum, and release her slender neck from a potentially dangerous grasp. More machinery, Crystia silently bemoaned, for it took only one glance to know what purpose it would serve. It did make her briefly wonder whether these monks made use of magic, but the golden ride came to a stop in a room that resembled the bottom of a well, except with less water and a door to meet with other wells.
What waited for Crystia on the other side, however, was the first thing in this tower of posturing that could impress the elf. A view of most all of the lands, with a view of nature's beauty unrivaled by any other mortal construction that she knew of. Even then, there were flaws in its design, as it was surely an attempt at pretending they had dominance over some of reality. It didn't give them knowledge of all the things that resided in these lands, such as markers for every mage or something to view elsewhere closely. It was a fool's imitation of omniscience, at best.
Regardless of the criticisms she could bring of the edge, the monks were waiting for her presence. Crystia flipped a golden coin over the edge and continued on her way up to the observatory of the Monks of Ekilore, with the stolen Silver Plains cape fluttering nicely behind her shoulder as punctuation for her arrival, while her eyes stayed hidden behind a veil of black hair. Perhaps there would be a robe to nab inside...
”Victoria, listen to me please!” Elizabeth was far from pleading, verging on ordering Victoria to follow her orders; but this was an issue Elizabeth had no control over Victoria with. “You have to marry him; it will strengthen our ties with much of Ethora.”
Cassandra "Cass" Alexandera- Dalenham, Eveamoor
Cass woke up from a drunken snooze with the afternoon sun strong in the late spring sky. Her dark blue eyes struggled to take in the light, not wanting to awaken quite yet. However, it was clear that she fought a losing battle against nature. Groaning, Cass stretched her tight limbs and cracked nearly every joint in her legs, arms and neck. As she slowly came to, she found herself shuffling in her makeshift bed of orc bodies. Nesting on the top of a bloody mountain of corpses, Cass nodded to herself: "Not bad, Cass. Not bad." Cass rose from her seat and slid down as gently as she could, her body still off balance and her mind unable to handle swift movements. The courtyard was littered with well over a dozen bodies of orcs, their limbs, blood, and innards decorating the streets like bits of wine and bread after an ostentatious party. The sight stirred Cass awake and all she could was smile. On the ground was a flask of which Cass immediately picked up and proceeded to gulp down without much hesitation. Swallowing was a chore. "Tastes like orc piss. Oh well, I've had worse."
Tossing the flask aside, Cass slowly made her away out of the village, as the hangover made walking in a straight line a bit of a chore. The sights of a deserted village reminded her of the location. What was the place called again? Cass thought to herself. Right. This dump is Sabamin. I wonder where everyone else is. Straining the limited use of her brain for any ideas of where everyone was as well as clumsily dragging her legs around the village, Cass was running out ideas and patience. The village was completely devoid of life, leaving only a vile oder in its wake. "Hm, something tells me I am supposed to be somewhere else…Aw crap." Now it was becoming all clear as the alcohol was leaving her system (she has learned to sober up fairly quickly after years of practice). The others in her mercenary troop had left, leaving Cass all alone in the village. Of course, it did not take long to realize why. She probably insisted on napping after exhausting herself slaughtering dozens upon dozens of orcs. But this left her in a bit of quandary, mostly pondering where in the Infernum to go? Varian probably led them back to Dalenham, seeing how Sabamin's only attraction was Cass' work of art in crafting an orc corpse mountain. So Dalenham it was. At least that is where she would start.
Sabamin, being nothing more than a pitful outskirt to the only highlight in all of Eveamoor, was not a long walk from the central city of Dalenham. By the time she had arrived, Cass was nearly over her hangover and was able to get past the guards without an issue. They expressed concern over her clumsy gait, but Cass assured them it was nothing to worry about and she would head to an inn to rest soon enough.
Market Street was bustling and the loud noises of afternoon/evening shoppers bothered her. Finding Varian should of been easy considering his height, build and general appearance, but the crowds did not make it easy. Neither did her lack of desire to waste time. Glaring at a random young man, Cass sensed fear in the man as he gulped noticing Cass' suddenly cold stare. Cass walked over to the young man, and by the collar of his dirty shirt, pinned them to a wall, getting up close to his face.
"Hey, maybe you can help me out?" Cass, trying to look innocent, but failing miserably.
"U-uh of c-c-course. Anything for you," he said with a stutter.
"I'm looking for my friend. Tall. Long brown hair. Strong build. Scars on his face. Terribly unattractive. Have you seen him around?"
"The Highman? I heard there was one at the Broken Keg."
"The Broken Keg…mhmm. Thanks cutie," Cass said, kissing the young boy on the cheek. "See you around." Releasing the boy who slid to the ground, Cass continued her stride through Market Street, plowing through the crowds, keeping an eye out for any signs that screamed "Broken Keg." Lo and behold, Cass found the bar and breathed a deep sigh of relief.
Cass walked gingerly to the door, before taking a deep breath and barging through the door like a siege weapon demolishing a wall: "Oi! Where is my throne?! Where is my food and drink?!"
Varian in the meantime remained relatively quiet as each member of the group walked in. He didn't even respond to Xeye's 'Wolf Pops' comment, nor did he address the others in the bar when they laughed. She could call him whatever she wants, as far as he was concerned. As long as she did her job, and did it well, that was enough for him. Varian did brief acknowledgements of the others as they came in, but mostly continued to gulp down his Orbrigg Ale but it wasn't until Cassandra came in that he spoke.
"You're late." Varian bellowed from across the room to her. He began reaching into his bag for the payment as she approached.
"But Vary~" Cass moaned all innocently as she walked over to Varian. She hugged from the side, pushing her chest into his face. "You left me all alone and I got lost~. Why would do that to me? I could of gotten hurt or worse~"
Varian's face became noticeably irritated as Cass drunkily pushed her breasts into his face. "Damn it, woman, get yourself off me!" He shouted, bringing his arms up and forcefully removing her and sitting her down in the seat next to him. He shook his head, reaching into his bag for the seven separate pouches inside, setting five of them on the table in front of the other mercenaries. He kept his and Cassandras still in his bag. He usually didn't give her her share, especially when she was drunk, mostly because she would end up spending all of it, or losing it. Instead, he held onto it and gave her portions, or only when she sobered up, (Which rarely happened) and kept the rest with him. Varian had suggested this somewhat earlier on in their travels together, much to the protest of Cass. Eventually though, as the two had learned to trusted each other, she grudgingly learned to accept the proposal.
"The payment was seventy silver total. Ten silver for each of you. Job well done. And a good job staying alive." He said to them, before leaning back and grabbing hold of his ale and downing the contents.
Cass was slightly disappointed that Varian did not cough up her share right away, but was lucky enough to have some leftover coin on her anyway. Not that she would use most of it. Most likely she would pay for a drink or two and then proceed to work up a sizable tab before walking out without paying. It was typical Cass behavior, and nobody would dare tell her to change her ways. "Barkeep! Give me a Golden Brew! I need some Ethorian ale after drinking your crappy Eveamoorian ale all day!" Cass yelled before sighing. "Well since Varian rejected me, who will allow me to cry on their shoulder for the evening?"
Auden Radke, Travelling to the Oculus Tower in Elikore.
The old planks of the dock creaked as Auden began walking along them, happy to get off the hell of a ship he had spent the last few weeks travelling on. Being on such a small ship with most passengers knowing each other had forced him for enjoying his favourite past time, as he doubted he could easily keep it a secret if someone suddenly went missing without a word or cry for help. I have travelled here by sea, this better be worth it.. If not it could be rather enjoyable destroying that tower and everything in it. He thought this too himself as he looked on with a slight sense of awe at the sheer size of the tower that was easily seen from the docks, which was his destination. The tower was majestic, he had to admit. Its marble shown beautifully in the sunlight, with the fact that the tower looked like it was almost all constructed from pure marble made it all the more impressive.. and fun to destroy. Throwing his hood over his head he made his way towards the massive tower, that loomed over the entire area.
The entrance to the tower, two large iron doors, looked slightly out of place to Auden, whom thought they would have at least painted them to match the marble, an insignificant fact but one that he noted none the less. After a few moments a loud screech creak erupted from the doors as the began to open. A small eunuch awaited at the now open entrance of the tower, greeting Auden with a warm smile before beginning to talk. “Greetings my lord. You are the third to arrive. Do come in. The lords above have been expecting you for some time. I do fear a few of them have become oh so impatient." The eunuch greeting seemed more like a recited and well practised speech than a greeting, and Auden was in no mood to be wasting time talking to insignificant bugs whom wouldn’t even be worth his time torturing.
“Why thank you sir. May you be here to lead me to the meeting with the Monks?” He asked as he stepped into the tower, only to be greeted with the sound of the doors slamming shut behind him.
“Welcome to the Oculus Tower, and yes I will guide you to your destination. This way please.” The eunuch replied as he began walking towards a small metal staircase across the other side of the room. Auden took a few glances around the room, realising he was in the famous “Grand Library”, which was apparently home to some of the worlds greatest written works. Many people were tending to the books, looking extremely content with their lives. Fire erupted out of Auden's hands as he turned towards some of the book cases, burning some eunuchs in the process, their screams of pain was music to his ears. As other eunuch rain to protect the books his slaughter continued. He reviled in the moans and screams of pain as he slowly crushed a group of eunuchs between book cases, their blood staining the books they sought to protect. Elation engulfed Auden's whole body at the screams of pain and sight of the treasured Grand Library being torn asunder and burnt to ashes.
“Now my lord, do stay on the platform. Hold on to the railing if you feel as though you will fall off.” The Eunuch's word shocked Auden back to reality, his elation quickly disappearing to be replaced by irritation and longing. It really has been too long.. I should have sated this desire just before I left Raelus. The eunuch proceeded to pull the small lever as Auden braced himself, still slightly shocked at the movement of the golden platform that he was standing on. Looking more closely at the platform there was a slight trace of magic that he had never seen before. The movement speed of the platform was also interesting, combined with the presence of the magic. I wonder if this is powered by magic or is mechanical.. Perhaps a combination of both. The walls around the platform were open to show off the large collection of books that made up the grand library, which covered a innumerable amount of floors of the tower. Various rare and expensive paintings decorated the walls of the library wherever there was free space. This tempted Auden even more to burn the entire tower to the ground. He caught himself reaching for his staff that was strapped to his back, clenching his fist in frustration.
A dimly lit stone room was the final destination of the platform, rather dull in comparison to all other rooms and floors that Auden had so far encountered in the tower. The room seemed as if though it saw little use, it was even slightly dusty, compared to the rest of the tower that had been revealed to Auden so far. “Come this way,” the Eunuch said to Auden, continuing to lead the way as he had earlier promised. The Eunuch paused before opening the door, Auden praying the trip through the tower was at its end. “I must warn you. The climb up the next of stairs is quite perilous. Stay close to the wall and you shall be fine."
“Pardon?”Auden asked allowing a slight tone of confusion in his voice, a sign to the Eunuch he didn't quite understand what he meant . The Eunuch reply was to open the door, allowing a strong gust of wind to blow through, ruffling Auden's robe and nearly blowing his hood off. After fixing his hood he followed the Eunuch through the door, only to gaze upon a truly impressive sight. The sight before him had almost made up for the long trip on the moving platform and dullness of the last room he had been in. Looking around Auden realised that he could see a large portion of Aerion from this vantage point. It was a sight to behold, and one that Auden had yet seen in his life, which was probably why he lingered longer then he had to. He saw the Eunuch a fair distance in front of him, nearly at the top of the stairs. I guess beauty is lost to people who see it to often. He though before following after the Eunuch, sticking close to the walls, just in case.
At the top of the stair case Auden was lead into a room that already had three people in it. The room's every wall was crafted from pure glass, the observatory of the monks of Ekilore, Auden presumed. The room gave the monks a 360 degree view of Aerion, high enough to see all the countries that made it. After taking a second to take in the room of myths, he continued to take his place to the left of the room, away from the other 3 people that had beaten him there. “We are finally here,” the Eunuch said. “Now we must wait for the others before the monks shall receive you. There’s only a few left, it should not be long.” After finishing the Eunuch went to the side of the room, joining the other Eunuch whom had already arrived in the room. The moment of the Eunuch allowed Auden a view of the other people in the room, taking in their appearance he began judging them silently, his own face obscured by his robes hood.
XEYE ANASTASIA ZXKOL
THE BLUE WILDCAT
Despite the dwarf's efforts in shutting out the hurtful clamor of the bar's attendants, they haven't entirely forgotten about the presence of their previous form of entertainment. The stiff posture and leaking eyelids of the young woman inevitably return the bar's attention back to the distraught half-elf.
Zara Serena Freya
Zara took in a deep breath, smelling the salty ocean and the wind surrounding her. She had always felt better in nature rather than in the oppressive aura of the city, with the peculiar scents and disgusting odour that involved with everyone's smells mixing together. On her journey, she had never used a ship to escape from Rolsten, although she had sailed once to the Lost Mountains for training with her uncle.
She could not imagine why people could get sea sick. The rocking of the boat was soothing and the pure scent of the ocean was wonderful. Still, the air was, at times, tainted with the sour smell of vomit and bodily odour if she went near the other people on the ship, so Zara tried to stay to herself mostly, even if that's what her usual mask would not do.
Zara wished that the sea journey would not end. Although she was sure travelling to the legendary Tower of Oculus would be fun, the area surrounding her made the usual gregarious person calm and silent. She had no thought when near the water and was sure that if she swam, she would loose herself to the usually still waters with small waves batting at her.
Zara almost sighed when she saw the docks in the far horizon.
Zara skipped off the boat with a grin, her usual mask already planted firm on her face. The docks creaked slightly from the weight, but did not break or bend. It was obvious that the docks were old; some of the planks were rotted away and would probably break with a single step. Zara made sure to avoid all of the weaknesses of the rotted wood and thought to herself that someone really ought to either replace the wood or create a new dock.
Then she saw the Tower of Oculus and knew where the money from the planks went.
"Ah," she murmured to herself from her discovery, not her shock of seeing the, what most would call, beautiful tower in front of her.
Zara had a minor appreciation of architecture, believing that nature created the best beauty of all, but even she knew that the tower was very grand indeed. It seemed to be pure white in the sunlight, causing Zara to wince from the painful glare. The large size of the tower allowed Zara to see it from the docks, even if she had to travel a few miles to get to it. It seemed taller in person.
Zara heard a loud screeching noise coming from the opening of the large iron door, causing Zara to wince, and a rather average sized, bald man wearing brightly coloured clothes opened the door.
"Greeting, my lord," the eunuch stated. Zara did not bother to correct the eunuch's assumption that she was a male, but still felt a small shiver run through her body. Curious. "You are the second to last to arrive; the lords are starting to become impatient."
As the eunuch turned around to lead Zara in, Zara walked through the door, hearing the iron door slam behind her. Zara did not flinch and continued to follow the eunuch as he guided her through the tower.
"Welcome to Oculus Tower," stated the eunuch, as they travelled through the base of the tower, a large circular room wrapped around a golden platform.
"The Astrum," breathed Zara, recognising the room from the grand pictures her studies and shown her. She did not bother with her mask currently.
"Correct, my lord," stated the eunuch. "The Astrum holds some of the greatest works known to everyone, but I am quite sure that you know that. Please come along; we must hurry to the top of the tower."
The eunuch stood on the platform and Zara remembered that the platform moved upward to reach another higher part of the tower. Zara stepped on and the eunuch stated, "My lord, if you must, use the railings in order to stay on the platform."
The eunuch pulled a small lever and the platform started to move up. As Zara was expecting the movement, Zara did not stumble from the sudden movement. Without Zara noticing, the eunuch smiled.
Zara studied the tower as they moved up, trying to read some of the titles of the books in the Astrum as fast as she could. She realised that she had read a few of the titles, but was unable to recall most of the books at all. Zara had spent most of her life studying, yet there was still much that she hadn't read yet.
The platform stopped at dimly lit room that was completely bare except for an iron door for an exit. While it could not compare to the other rooms of the tower, it was obvious that the room was only a passageway for whatever was on the other side of the door.
"Please watch your step and remain close to the wall during the next part of the journey, my lord," warned the eunuch.
Zara nodded, and the eunuch opened the door, causing a huge gust of wind to swallow the two. Zara breathed in deeply, catching the thin air and the power of the wind with a smile. The eunuch walked through the strong wind with ease, and Zara followed with the same amount of ease. Her uncle had taught her how to walk against the wind without showing a hint of distress when they trained in the Lost Mountains.
The eunuch walked with the ease of having travelled the same way for a long amount of views, especially since he did not even glance at the view beside of them. Zara, on the other hand, while walking with the same ease, stopped while staring at the view beside her. She could certainly see why the monks would stay at the Tower of Oculus. There were no words to describe the sight that she saw and the feelings she had seeing it. When she realised that the eunuch was a bit far away, Zara walked after him.
They continued walking until reached a room whose walls were made with pure glass, although the roof and the foundation were made with marble and stone respectively. While everything inside of her screamed to take the sight seriously, her usual joking mask found its way on her face in the form of a grin.
"What an awesome and asterous room!" Zara exclaimed, lowering the pitch of her voice enough that she sounded like a male instead. 'Fool your enemies, fool your friends, fool everyone' was a mantra that was drilled into her head due to her father. She continued with a grin on her face. "Hopefully no one breaks the walls; that would be disastrous, heavy on the dis."
She probably wasn't making a good first impression; especially since everyone seemed so serious. Well, Zara was too, but only inwardly. She was also sure that her little word play was going to annoy someone.
Her eyes made her way through the room and while it looked like she was taking in the wondrous sight of the outside, she was studying everyone; taking in what she could about people's personalities from their clothes and body position. She, herself, seemed rather relaxed and open, with her hunching posture and grin on her face. Zara did not look like she could handle the swords she had. In fact, she probably looked like the most incompetent person in the room.
(OOC: Remember, Zara looks like a feminine looking male and with the lowering of her voice, she probably seems to be a man to everyone, except for, perhaps, the awesome monks who know everything. If the monks ruin my fun, I'll be sad. :( I hope this makes up for the long time it took me to create a post. xD)
Yet another tortuous day, another day she felt alone, another day of regret, another of day not being good enough. Tamor tears blurred her vision; her fingers grasped the edges of her hood to block out the sunlight that warmed her face. She felt better in the darkness it left her alone, a place where no one could see her cry. Thousands of miles away and the pain she felt still throbbed it let her know she wasn’t dead but why was she alive? Her mother had barely heard her when she told her about her forthcoming absence. Anyine, her mother, motioned hands in her direction, which she came to learn meant I’m busy, go away. A burden, a waste, she wasn’t anything more than a placeholder until the perfect children came around. Another sniffle escaped, Tamor knew how pathetic she was right now, what an embarrassment she had become. She was twenty-seven years old and still craved her mother’s and father’s affection.
Percival Grey- The top of Ekilore
There were several moments of silence shared between the gathered souls and the Eunuch. Percival was a social person, but there was something discouraging about the current situation that made small talk less desirable than normal. The Eunuch buried his hands in the sleeves of his robes and patiently stood near the door, as if waiting for a signal. Percival felt himself growing a bit nervous, taking deeper breaths to calm down. Maybe it's the air up here, he told himself. As legitimate as that excuse was, it was only an excuse. Percival had no idea what to expect from the monks. Few mortals ever meet them, usually doing their business through emissaries or eunuchs. So to meet them was an honor.
"Ah, it is time my lords and lady. Come right this way. Do watch your step. All these stairs can be such a chore," the Eunuch said with a sheepish smile. Percival did not see or hear a signal. Odd. Perhaps it was magic of some sort. Despite it's growing rarity, it would not be unheard of it. The monks have had access to old magics for generations.
Percival entered through the door and climbed a brief staircase and entered the observatory. The group stood in the middle of the room, surrounded by the monks. They sat in what appeared to be small thrones on a stone platform that circled the outer edge of the room. There were seven in number, each of them cloaked in a grey-white robes with a hood hiding their faces. All except one who was not presently in his seat, instead gazing out the glass walls watching Aerion through the thin clouds.
As the group placed themselves in the middle of the room, the standing monk turned to face them, stepping down from his platform to meet them face to face. He stood taller with excellent posture than Percival and seemed to have a solid build. It was impressive considering the supposed age of the man, given that his hair had little color other than its full silver grey. His face was fairly youthful too with no disfiguring marks or facial hair. It was a bit disorienting really. Was this man old or young? The most unusual trait was his eyes however. They were a deep red and drew Percival in, as if they were attempting to hypnotize him.
The red eyed monk spoke with a strong voice: "Thank you for coming my Knights of Ekilore. You stand in the room of the monks of this grand tower on a day that could decide the fate of this very world." The monk looked at the "knights" with a discerning eye, analyzing them one by one. He then smiled, as if he was pleased with the collection of men and women he had gathered. "We monks are gifted with many abilities that have been developed over the course of many long years. These abilities allow us to see things that others can not. In these visions, my fellow monks and I have seen something that brings great hope for this world. Through deeper mediations and some readings of ancient texts, I believe that we have found the possibility of everlasting peace" the monk said with a deep pause.
"It is no secret that Aerion has encountered many difficulties its rather grand history. With such things as pestilence, war, and famine all leading to many untimely deaths. It is all such a grim tale that I dare not elaborate any further. But…" the monk continued waving to the eunuch that escorted them earlier. "This artifact, known as the Orb of Ardor in your common tongue was a recurring motif in our visions," the monk said showing them a rough sketch of the orb from one of the books that clearly based on the condition was one of the most ancient of the many books in the Grand Library. "If the myths surrounding this orb hold true, this may be able to fix all that and end the chaos that is sweeping the land."
"And what do you want us to do?" Percival asked.
"A fair question to ask," the monk replied. "This Orb was believed to be shattered long ago with its pieces becoming the desire of many because of its so called 'value' as a treasure with no owner being astute enough to realize its true purpose. This, in turn, caused the shards to be scattered across all of Aerion. For this prophecy to hold true, we must gather all these pieces to put the Orb of Ardor back together to unlock its power. Undoubtedly, you chosen few will become heroes."
"The quest will bestow its own rewards. Mountains of riches you shall receive," one of the monks said suddenly.
"The conclusion of this quest will fulfill all your ambitions, and thus you can finally revel in languor and indolence," said another.
"The pleasure of the flesh will be forever yours to partake."
"Others will look upon you with eyes of jealousy, at what you have accomplished, and at what they wish they had."
"Your cravings will eternally and everlastingly be fulfilled."
"Your thirst for battle will be seen, and in the end your enemies will fear your name. Your own might will be the last they see in your path of destructive power!"
"Your names and your legacies, that which binds you to this world, will be forever transformed on this quest. All shall know your names, and you will become more than what you are. You will become truly immortal," said the red eyed monk before them, being the final monk to speak allowing the other 6 to speak first.
"Do you accept this quest?"
Crystia's stance was unwavering, as she milled about in the chamber of the Monk's with the patience of a nigh-immortal, watching the robe-clad monks whose shadows hung over their faces. No stranger to a veil was she, but the elf had to wonder what would provoke these men, if that was what they wanted to be called, into taking up such a habit. Their eyes reached across all the land, yet they hid their faces from both each other and their guests. Besides the obvious lack of etiquette in the gesture, it suggested to her that they were shielding themselves from something as well. The vigilant eye, perhaps.
Or the visitors, her amongst them. Every person held a secret behind blood and flesh, whether it reached from the slaughter of a town or stealing an apple, it would all be a matter of perspective. Joining this order, however one managed it, may have revealed their secrets, or perhaps it was these seven who hid actions and thoughts from the remainder of the organization. People in power were still a victim of their own folly, their own nature, and only more vulnerable to the temptation. She would know; the silk of her stolen noble cloak felt quite luxurious indeed, and it was probably woven by the bloody fingers of a slave.
Then the walking-talking Monk began a speech, the idea of which sent Crystia's heart flipping with giddy abandon; she did love a good speech, although she didn't show it and hadn't made any signs of emotions since walking into the room. They could be shown at a later date, perhaps when they could become more relevant to the people around her; long ago was a time when she learned to only do something if anybody was going to notice. It was a philosophy that the head monk, as she'd call him, despite his lack of head-baring, seemed to share, as he lavished in the chance for showmanship and sprite limbs. Perhaps he did stretches, while the other Monks were skeptical and now they regretted it because their legs were weak and testosterone milder than an Eveamoor Queen.
Oh, that was a good one; she'd need to remember it if she ever met Eveamoor's Queen; something along the lines of Mad...skylines. She'd remember it later, because the important part was the Monk's attempt to deprave the world of chaos and presenting an impossible task, or so it seemed. In truth, there had been an ounce of hope that the supposedly learned men of the tower would see things as they truly were, and perhaps they did, but the bravado with which they presented peace as an option left much to be desired. To eliminate chaos, nature itself would need to be torn apart until nothing remained. Even without humans, trees would be struck down by lightning or droughts would drain great lakes. Most damning of all was the fact that Fate would need to decree her own death; something she was very sure would not happen.
There was nothing to be done for it; if they hadn't come to the conclusion that they were a bunch of silly men in dresses, she wasn't going to be able to convince them, and had no wish to try. Then came the typical speech of how amazing all of the rewards would be; women, men, women-men and wine, money, and all but one of them passed her rambling thought process without a single damn given. Immortality; that was something to strive for indeed, despite the ambiguity of its form. Immortality through only not aging would be useless, in the end, and only the entropic aspect of fate's finger would be prevented. As a matter of fact...the Monks were being incredibly vague about a lot of things.
The lean elf raised her hand to gather the attention of those present and cleared her throat softly. What followed was a question, in a voice serene and clear, yet unimposing. "How? How will this orb bring peace?"
Roland Grey- Ekilore
Spectacular as the view was, Roland began to slowly adapt to the sight of the land before him, and now beginning to push forward into his foremost thoughts was the question of how long it would actually take for the monks to accept them. He didn’t mind the view by any means, but the thought of standing at the top of the world on little more than a staircase was a bit uncomfortable to him. The feeling eventually passed when the eunuch suddenly proclaimed that the monks would see them now. He saw no sign of the eunuch communicating with anyone, so the suddenness of it all was a tad abnormal. Roland didn’t let it bother him, as he was led with the others through the door, up a staircase, and to the observatory. There in the middle of the room they stood, and right on the outside of them sat the fabled monks of Ekilore.
Many tales have been told about the monks over many years, often evolving from place to place, and changing from era to era. They have existed for as long as the tower has, but even then no precise date of their commencement is known. Some say that the monks were sent by the Council of Nine to watch over the world of Ekilore. Others of the north claim that they are the gods of Ragnell incarnate. There is also debate about the longevity of the monks. Some believe that there were only ever these monks, and that they are more than human, but less than gods, gifted with long-lasting life. Various other stories hint that the monks are in fact human, and that when a monk dies, they are secretly replaced by some furtive means. There are countless other tales told and retold about the monks, but few facts. However, in his studies, Roland has ascertained a few: to be summoned by the monks is considered an immense honor; many find the monks highly respectable, though there are those few who believe them meddlesome; the monks on the very infrequent occasions in history have provided prophecies to those who would hear them, and they have consistently been accurate.
Six monks sat on stone seats encircling the gathered. The seventh monk stood behind, gazing out through the glass of the observatory at Aerion below. He was the only one whose face was unhidden. When he turned, Roland got a good view of him. He had a deep contrast of his face of being both youthful and elderly at the same time, to the point where Roland could not determine his age. Most alarming, however, was his eyes, which bore the color of deep red. The red-eyed monk approached, and spoke to the gathered.
Roland listened silently, trying to focus on the monk’s message even if his eyes kept a good bulk of his attention as well. There was something ominous about them, as if they stared right into Roland’s very soul. Perhaps it was the gods’ way of testing him, and from the sound of it, this would indeed be his ultimate test. And the rewards promised, one in particular caught his fancy. The idea of immortality. The way they said it, it seemed as if they were appealing directly to his own soul's nature. Roland knew he would never get fable of becoming immortal, as these monks may or may not have. Yet immortality has many forms, and the way that one is remembered is part of it. He was intrigued, but Roland’s better judgment still found too many unknowns about this quest. Even if something about this situation called him towards it, he still felt obligated to know more. The whole idea seemed a bit farfetched, after all. An Elf with dark, flowing hair, covering a good portion of her face, including her eyes, seemed to share his sentiments.
"How? How will this orb bring peace?"
Roland crossed his arms and stared at the monks with a certain sense of superiority, before casting his gaze at the red-eyed monk. Even with his oddly colored eyes, Roland made every effort to put off a strong front, neither flinching nor showing signs of discomfort, though secretly, he had to admit he was quite uneasy. “This…Orb of Ardor, as you call it, is an object in which we truly know nothing about. Not that I doubt the wisdom or the knowledge you monks carry, but the entire idea of what you’re talking about seems rather ludicrous. The problems as you have said which exist in Aerion are deep in root, often going back centuries. How can a single object bring us peace? I do not buy into this.”
Cassandra "Cass" Alexandera- The Broken Keg, Dalenham
Alcohol has a way with Cass that makes her not particularly aware of what occurred around her. She slowly became uncaring and did not observe as much as she usually does, not that she did much when she was sober. The only time paying attention had sort of payoff when she was fighting, getting paid, flirting or drinking. She loved to do all the same time, but rarely was she that lucky. She continued to drink and enjoy the sights and sounds of the bar. Some patrons laughed about tall tales they told their friends, with others fell on their asses because they couldn't hold their liquor.
The band of mercenaries that she called her "friends" chattered amongst themselves. Something about being free after the little job they just completed. Sounded to her like they wanted to stick with Varian and herself. Varian and Cass had toured most of the countries of Aerion together for a number of years, taking impossible jobs and somehow ending up perfectly fine. Never before have they entered a band of more than a few others for more than a week or so. Usually because the others ended up dead or worse. Cass ignored the question, if only because the beer was more enticing at the time and the final decision rested with Varian more than her. Varian knew that Cass wouldn't care if the others joined or not, as Cass enjoyed their company enough to not insult them outright. Also Ava was adorable, Evelynn was a flirt (and Cass was totally going to hit on her later), Alys was enjoyable company (and could drink like a man), Xeye was…gone, and the Bofvar was hilarious. Speaking of the Dwarf…
“Cass, I might have to make some room in my schedule, but I think I could fit you in. Of course, I was hoping you might bring me to tears,” Bofvar said as he twirled his finger about his beard, offering a lewd wink as he reclined in his seat and propped his feet on the table.
"Oh, I'm sure I could bring you to tears," Cass said, leaning in close to Bofvar, glancing into his green eyes. "But before I do something like that, how about we play a little game?" Cass looked over to Varian, giving him a devilish grin. Varin knew deep in his hearts of hearts what was coming. And it was probably something he was not going to like. It was Cass being Cass, which meant they was going to be a tale or two to tell. "A drinking game. Rules are simple. We drink for drink, with each round, one picking the drink for the other. For example, I can say you will drink this drink, while you say I drink this drink. We go until the loser either passes out, vomits all over themselves or simply gives up. The loser pays for all the drinks we forced down our throats and has to do anything the winner wants. What do you say? Think you are Dwarf enough for it?" Cass said suggestively, playing with Bofvar's beard, before suddenly pulling away and leaning back in her seat. "Or are you going to wimp out like a some ***** little Elf?"
Percival Grey- Top of Ekilore
Percival stood silent. The whole idea of doing a quest for the Monks was a bit overwhelming. Truthfully, he expected this. Perhaps it was the form in which they were summoned, perhaps it was the fact his brother was here (he always did the heroic act, though there was always some ulterior motive) or perhaps it was just intuition. Regardless of the reasoning behind it, Percival knew this was going to happen. But all the anticipation could not prepare him for the reality. It was this feeling of great honor that dumbfounded him, all the while, some of the others insisted on questioning the monks.
"How? How will this orb bring peace?"
Roland agreed, buying into the conspiracy. It was so like him to question people's motives instead of believing that good could exist in this world. For whatever reason, Percival did not like this group much already.
The leading monk cleared his throat a bit, before handing back the old book to the Eunuch.
"As far as the Orb of Ardor is concerned, your questions have merit," the monk continued, freeing his gaze turning his attention to the entire group. "The Orb of Ardor is an artifact from an age in which magic was potent and continuously studied, a far cry from today's Aerion in which magic is an art that people fear and prosecute. From what research we could complete, the Orb of Ardor contains extraordinary power and knowledge within it. In the proper hands, it could cure disease, stop wars, end famines and perhaps even…cheat death."
"I will not pretend to know everything however. We are the voices of the prophecies, not necessarily the interpreters of them. Our duty is to utter that which we see and hear, not decipher what is being said. The only knowledge given to us by this prophecy is that with it held the power to save this world. Yes, the idea of such an object existing is dubious. Yet throughout the millenniums of our existence, these prophecies have proven to be accurate. We present the opportunity to partake on a quest that could end in creating something that seems so unbelievable, yet now appears to be possible. Is it not worth taking the risk of uncertainty for a purpose far beyond any one individual or country?"
"However, I can understand that such a myth and story may be difficult to comprehend and above all, believe. It may sound too good to be true for some. Therefore, I offer this book as a sign of good faith. It is an ancient tomb written in a language lost in the sands of time, but with enough diligence, one could translate its scriptures and begun to understand the depths of Ancient magic. It is then you will realize the importance of the Orb of Ardor and realize that what I speak of is entirely possible," the monk said before motioning over to a eunuch and took an old, brown, dusty and seemingly heavy tome. He had looked at each of his Knights with his red eyes, peering at them as if reading their minds and souls. "Crystia. You will find the most use out of this."
The silence was painful; Tamor thoughts crept to the forefront and threatened to upset her emotional state. The Monks must have made a grave mistake when they chose her for this quest of theirs. Despite that her wish to not draw any attention to herself had worked she found herself wishing it hadn't. It had worked so well as no one had even attempted to glance her way. It was bound to happen, she wasn’t on par with the others… They were so much more. Her fingers curled inwards and twisted the material of her clearly worn robe in her palms that was enough to make more wrinkles. As the man who bought her into the room lead them to the monks Tamor naturally fell towards the back of the rather small group. Her place was meant to be in the last spot, she deserved the lack of acknowledgement from her peers. In her absent-minded state she stepped in front of the other member of the group who also had their hood up, which left her second to last in the line. The weight on her shoulder was gone as her hawk companion flew ahead he (or she) was scouting for danger. As the door opened to the next room the hawk gracefully zoomed passed the group into the sacred room and made several loops around the room before it the others set foot inside.
Auden Radke, Oculus Tower.
Theme: Planet Hell - Nightwish.
A rather inquisitive elf was next to enter after Auden, and she was quiet a boisterous. I wonder why she's trying to sound like a male? Auden asked himself, looking at the elf with hidden disgust. She might end up being a fun toy.. elves usually like to think they are above humans. The idea of torturing her was growing stronger and stronger as he examined her with his eyes moving into the magic spectrum, revealing nothing within her. For some reason, lost to Auden, she was faking the grin on her face. Such a pointless mask she’s putting on. He thought, allowing his eyes to once again take in the spectacular view that was before him. Moments later another person entered the room, taking his attention away from the view again to analyse the newest addition to rooms gathering group. This one was much more interesting, at least in Audens eyes, as they also had their hood on, covering their face from view. This hinted they had something to hide, which meant they also had something to exploit. Another thing that was interesting was the hawk that was sitting on their shoulder. Auden caught a quick glimpse of the person's face as they lifted their head up slightly, revealing feminine features, that looked strangely familiar, almost nostalgic.
One of the eunuchs suddenly began speaking, with no noticeable signal, informing the group that they could now meet the monks. The members of the group filed out, leaving Auden last, which didn’t bother him at all. That insignia, its from the Mage Guild my parents were a part of in Raelus. The insignia rested on the back of the hooded persons cloak, whom Auden assumed was female. This assumption was reinforced by her walking style and perceivable body shape. Thought's raced through Auden's mind as the group made their way to the Monks chambers, trying to think of who could be under the cloak as so many things about the way she carried herself and walked seemed familiar to him. Upon entering the monks chamber, he took position next to her, being more interested in who she was then he'd normally like.
A quick glance around the room showed that they were surrounded by the monks, with all but one of the seven sitting in throne like seats that were on a stone platform which rose them above the group and encircled the rooms outer edge. The lone standing monk was also the only one that didn’t have a hood covering his face. His complexion was slightly contradictory as he looked both young and old at the same time, though this wasn't the most intriguing part of his appearance. Red eyes. The monk had red eyes, red eyes they had a slight tint of magic flowing around them, very intriguing eyes indeed Auden thought. The monk began addressing the group, his red eyes analyzing those who stood before him one by one. He spoke of the monks “visions” of the future that brought great hope to the world, an apparent everlasting peace. None of which the monk had spoken of had yet to get Auden's attention, as he continued speaking after a deep pause. The monk continued to speak, bringing up an artificial that could apparently bring chaos to an end.
"And what do you want us to do?" One of the two men clad in armor asked.
"A fair question to ask," the monk replied. "This Orb was believed to be shattered long ago with its pieces becoming the desire of many because of its so called 'value' as a treasure with no owner being astute enough to realize its true purpose. This, in turn, caused the shards to be scattered across all of Aerion. For this prophecy to hold true, we must gather all these pieces to put the Orb of Ardor back together to unlock its power. Undoubtedly, you chosen few will become heroes." The red eyed monk finished, before the other monks finally began answering themselves, though they mostly spoke of the rewards that the would all receive at the end of this “quest”.
These monks seem to think quite highly of themselves. And the way they sit above us in those throne like chairs while speaking down to us.. I can already see the looks of disbelief on their faces as I slowly kill them, Auden's mind was again wondering towards torture, his withdrawals being magnified by all the happiness and confidence in themselves the towers occupants seemed to have. I should just refuse this “quest” of theirs and burn this tower to the ground. His muscles all tensed underneath his robes before he caught himself, the sound someone in the group speaking. Relaxing, he continued to listen.
The question came from the other Elf of the group, whom had asked how the orb would bring peace, with her question being reinforced again by one of the two armor clad men. The monks swiftly answered this question, though they did try to avoid answering with solid facts and more on generalisation on what had been told in books or passed down through their order. Still no one had actually accepted their proposal.
The next voice came from besides him, stuttering her words, was an acceptance of the monks quests. Auden's eyes darted to her figure, a smiling flickering before disappearing again. The hawk on her shoulder stared back at Auden, though he ignored it. That voice! It must be her!
“But, why me?” She mumbled, barely audible, though loud enough for Auden to hear from his position next to her. The smile again flickered across his face before disappearing again. Oh Tamour Bellfiend, what a fantastic time for our reunion! He thought, idea's travelling through his mind.
Changing his voice the slightest amount he spoke.“I also accept.” The first words that came from his mouth weren't those of his true voice.
Varian Sigmund and Cassandra Alexandera- Dalenham
Everyone had counted their pay, and their drinks were brought towards them. Varian observed the group as they collected their shares, seeing how each of them reacted to money, making sure everything was in order. Besides the young woman Xeye who left without even picking up her share, the other collected their portion as it was placed before them. Varian eyed the small woman as she left the bar, apparently for the reason of the insults thrown at her by the other patrons. He cocked his head to the side, puzzled by this. He saw her fight earlier in Sabamin. In fact, he had observed how all of them fought. They were all talented warriors, so it puzzled him to see how such a capable fighter, who seemed so untouchable on the battlefield could be so touched by words. He shook his head, and took a few gulps of his Orbrigg Ale before slamming the goblet on the table, satisfyingly letting the aftertaste develop in his mouth. He kept an occasional eye on the pocket belonging to Xeye, making sure he would deliver it to her once she would return. Ava asked a question that was probably on everyone’s minds (Well, probably everyone but Cass). Usually, Varian and Cassandra traveled without others. This was often due to their inability to find additional fighters on par (or close to) their skill, or the simple fact that everyone else they employ die untimely deaths. Such was the life of a mercenary. But in this situation, the two of them seemed to fulfill both categories: they were skillful, and thus far, they were alive. Bofvar suggested continuing the band and at this moment, Varian couldn’t think of any reason to decline. They were all in it for just about the same reason, the money, and it would be a shame to break such a talented group. Rather, Varian would like to use them as much as he can, if it they ended up dying eventually, so be it.
Varian picked up his goblet and drank from it again, contemplating the notion. “Well, in our line of business, work usually finds us.” He set his mug down on the table again. “I haven’t actually been in a group in quite a while. I say let’s give this a go, unless Cassandra has any objections.”
Cass downed her order in a single gulp, already ordering a second round, in the middle of conversing with Bofvar. It was apparent that she was going to let some newcomer out drink her. She needed more. She craved more. "Oh, was that an invitation to talk? Yeah, sure. I don't give a crap." She said, returning her attention back to the dwarf.
As Varian prepared to speak once again, he was interrupted by a clearing of the throat of a short, stout man in front of him. The plump man wore a large, hooded black cloak, and although Varian was no connoisseur on clothing, he could tell it was crafted of luxurious material, perhaps silk. The man kept very well hidden that which he wore underneath, but Varian could have sworn he saw some sort of jewelry on his garb. No matter how well the man probably tried to hide it, he was evidently quite wealthy.
“Excuse me, but I do believe I overheard that you are in fact mercenaries, is that correct?”
Varian looked back at the others, and then turned to the man in the cloak. He put one arm over the back of his chair as he continued to gaze at him. “I suppose we are.” Varian finally replied, much to the apparent joy of the cloaked man.
“Splendid!” He exclaimed, perhaps too loudly for which he intended, causing him to look around the tavern to make sure nobody else heard. After composing himself, he spoke again. “I am in desperate need of assistance, and I have no one else to turn to. My daughter has been taken by brigands. They took her north and are holed up north in a fort just outside of Curilan. I have sent others to try and release her, but none have returned. I implore you, please rescue my daughter!”
In Varian’s eyes, the man seemed sincere. It was against his better judgment to usually go directly for the client instead of through contractors, but he seemed like he was distressed and in desperate need of assistance. But Varian knew the others might be tired from just accomplishing one mission, and might have liked to stay in the city for a few nights before going on another job. He disliked the notion of turning down a potential client, but the lives and well-being of his group would always take precedence over the client.
“Sorry, but we’ve only just returned from a job of our own, and we’re tired. I’m sure you can find ano-“ Varian was suddenly interrupted by the man in the cloak. “How much did you earn on your last job?”
Varian looked at him curiously, bringing his mug up to his mouth and taking a gulp of the ale, and replied. “70 silver.” The man was quick to respond.
“I will pay you 70 silver to each of you, and an additional 200 to be split amongst the survivors upon completion.” He said, unflinchingly. Varian nearly spit out his drink from his mouth as he heard the offer. He place the mug down on the table and eyed the man suspiciously, before standing up.
"Excuse me for a moment," Varian said to the merchant, grabbing the sack of silver that belonged to Xeye and stormed out of the tavern. He burst open the front door, looking to either side of the streets to locate his blue-haired companion, spotting her in the not-too-far distance down the street.
"OI!" He bellowed down the street in a booming voice, of which his Highman accent was easily heard, lowering his arm with the silver in it and tossing the sack at her with all his might, aiming at her head with the full intent on hitting her with it. "Get your a$$ back in the bar right now! We're talking business!"
Varian looked to make sure Xeye had heard him, before going back into the tavern, noticing most of the patrons, as well as the man in the cloak, were staring at him. He eyed none of them, instead casually returning to his seat and leaning back in his chair, turning his gaze back to the man.
“Who are you exactly?” Varian questioned him. The man in the cloak looked around for a moment before replying. “I am…a reputable merchant wishing only to have my daughter returned to me.”
"Most 'reputable merchants' don't mind sharing their name," Cass said with a gulp of the fire ale, shaking her head at the taste, drawing her attention away from her dwarf friend to interject in the conversation between Varian and the man in the cloak. She glared at the merchant, before Varian grabbed her by the shirt dragging her close to him.
"What are you doing?" he asked under his breath.
"What? I don't trust him. Looks...sketchy."
"Says the drunk woman with the giant sword." Cass rolled her eyes. She knew Varian was right. He usually was.
"Fine, fine," she said before releasing herself from Varian's grasp. She downed the Fire ale, and throw the bottle down to the ground with a loud shatter, capturing everyone's attention. "What?!" She roared to the crowd. "Hey bartender! Another drink before I start flipping some tables!" She then returned her attention back to Bofvar.
The merchant took one look at Cassandra before returning his gaze to Varian. "You'll forgive me if I don't share my name, but I came with the job offer under the intention of secrecy. Had I not wanted that, I would have chosen a more…direct way of getting my daughter back to me. This offer shall only come once. Either accept it, or do not.”
Varian sighed and leaned back a bit further in his chair. He looked over the faces of the others. Cassandra would be willing to go, he was sure of it. Alys said she was looking for work anyways, and Ava had no plans at the moment either. Bofvar, though seemingly busy with Cass, would probably accept, as most likely would the rest. Without waiting for a particular response from them, he spoke back to the merchant.
“Alright. We accept.” He said, picking up his mug and finishing the rest of his ale before slamming it down hard on the table. The merchant seemed overjoyed.
“Thank you, warriors!” He began fiddling in his pockets as if looking for something, but did not necessarily pull anything out. He continued to speak. “Now, I know you wouldn’t want to set off right away, and without any knowledge of the mission. Tomorrow at the break of dawn, meet me in front of the gates of Dalenham, ready to go, and I’ll bestow upon you the first half of the payment, as well as additional information. Is this acceptable?”
Varian nodded, and the merchant smiled, speaking again, apparently on the verge of tears. “I will see you tomorrow, then. I cannot thank you enough.”
“Save your thanks for when we actually finish the job.” Varian said coldly. The merchant nodded in understanding, and departed. Varian eyed him the entire time while he left the tavern, before leaning over to the others. “Well, we've got our opportunity. You want to continue on with us, then we'll go together on this job tomorrow. If you don't, here in Dalenham is where's we'll part ways. Either way..."
Varian motioned to the bartender. “Oi! Another round for us!” He yelled at him. The bartender was quick to yell back. “Aye, I’ll get you your damn foreign pisswater!”
"And I will shove it up your ass!" Cass yelled in a drunken rage.
Oh, the gullibility of men was so clear in the people that accepted the deal without question and only compliance; Crystia felt the urge to walk over and smack them across the cheeks just to see their reaction, but getting beaten down by overwhelming numbers was perhaps something less than an optimal result. Still, it would have been awfully funny; she could have thrown up her hands and say a vision told her to do it, and they'd believe her like the village fool would a malevolent Lord's Daughter. Mystical references to a perfect society and its programs may have warmed the hearts of the gullible, but what it really meant was putting power in the hands of these Monks of Elikore.
Nevertheless, the non-committal response that followed was exactly what she would have expected from people hiding something, which they likely were despite their attempts at a benevolent greeting, was something far more intriguing.. She knew well enough that hiding secrets from people was one of the fun parts about being able to manipulate magic; perhaps she'd be able to fool another few of the knights with them if they got to traveling. Though the thought of sitting around men in armor wasn't going to be fun; all clunky metal and straps that took far too long to put on, and would have left her slender elven bones feeling groggy every step of the way.
The Monk dared to doubt her ability to comprehend, as though she wasn't the only one present who understood the machinations, though not the intentions, of Fate. But he continued with his gusto to reveal something tangible for her to grasp, instead of taking the word of isolationists above all reason. If anything, their way of life made them more untrustworthy, for no news of disaster could spread so easily as in a populated or well-traveled area; demons could have assaulted the place while everyone's back was turned. But tomes were always fun, even if it didn't contain the orb's truths; knowledge, secrets, or recipes were all something to make use of.
Unless he'd placed an explosive rune on one of the pages. He did seem to copy her eye trick, after all, what with the stare he gave everyone before announcing that she would be offered the chance to carry the dusty old tome. Ancient pages that would wither like a dried flower to any but the softest touch; of course she would be the perfect carrier! The first task would be finding a safe way to carry it, and the Silver Plains cloak hanging around her shoulders was as good as any other wrap. Soft, tough, and likely to be stolen, but anybody who bothered to hassle them would either die before getting the chance or be dead themselves. Unless she was greatly overestimating the abilities of people around her, because any whelp could be shoved into a suit of armor or called as emissaries if their ruler was egotistical enough to believe their blood stronger than any training.
"That's a lovely offer." Crystia said quietly, as she ran her hand down the edge of her stolen cape and, in one elegant motion, had it swept from her slender shoulders before appearing in a perfect square atop her palm, much in the same way a traveling showman could. Though, she did it more for efficiency than wowing an audience with simple tricks. She waited to be invited to take the tome, or have it handed over, before she wrapped the dull edges in the weave of an eclipsed sun. "And it will quell my concerns, for the time being. Thank you." Though she did not meet the Monk's gaze, the elf gave a nod of her approval.
XEYE ANASTASIA ZXKOL
THE BLUE WILDCAT
"OI!" booms a man's voice, the accent carrying itself far before landing in the woman's ears, causing the half-elf to freeze in her tracks, both startled and now anxious due to recognizing the owner of said voice. "Get your a$$ back in the bar right now! We're talking business!"
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