Closed [Empyreal Demesne] Scouting New Territory (Dess)

Sometimes territory isn't physical but sometimes its completely mental.

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While Sylira is by far the most civilized region of Mizahar, countless surprises and encounters await the traveler in its rural wilderness. Called the Wildlands, Syliran's wilderness is comprised of gradual rolling hills in the south that become deep wilderness in the north. Ruins abound throughout the wildlands, and only the well-marked roads are safe.

[Empyreal Demesne] Scouting New Territory (Dess)

Postby Kelski on July 24th, 2019, 3:46 am

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Kelski heard Dess’ words and lifted her head once more. Her vision was slowly clearing and she could see how he was trussed up which made her movement easier. She shifted, rolling to her knees and groaning. Only once did her head dip down and balance her body on the soft forest floor before she was able to fully lift herself up to the kneeling position Dess was in. The Kelvic blinked rapidly, licked her lips, and shook her head.

The camouflaged figure shook its head in disbelief. “You came out of that fast, girl. You must have a strong constitution for drugs.” It said, its voice tinged with suspicion and disapproval. Only a hard drug user would have came out of a double dose of her elk downer that fast. Certainly, a K’etir was one of the last people that should have reacted to a heavy dose like it was nothing. Kelski refrained from saying anything. For one thing, the past was the past, but she was reluctant for Dess to even remotely get a hint of how her past in Sunberth had been.

“Have we done something to offend you?” The Kelvic croaked, finding her voice so that her words only sounded normal when she touched on the you part of the sentence. She snorted a bit of soil out of her left nostril and shook her head again, her long ombre hair falling free of its leather thong. With her hands bound behind her, Pitch – in its invisible sheath at the small of her back – was in perfect position to draw, and she did so, reversing the blade and slicing through the bindings that held her hands. Kelski did so without rapid movement and without haste, as if she was calmly freeing herself and not trying to hide it.

The creature didn’t seem to react – as if she knew the dagger had been there – and still had most of her attention on Dess. She hadn’t missed the Kelvic quietly freeing herself, but she also didn’t seem overly concerned. “Over the years, your families have done a lot to offend me…. so yes. But you two personally? No. And I’m the first person to understand just because you are part of a family doesn’t mean you are exactly like everyone else in your family.” The creature rasped, shaking its head slightly.

Dess had seemed to come around to the creature’s side of things, at least by the tone of his voice and his polite readily offered answers to the creatures’ questions. His last comments seemed to close the deal and the creature reached up to remove what could only be considered a thoroughly crafted hood. Sunlight streamed down on a surprisingly elderly woman. Though she was thin, she seemed still very mobile which was unusual for someone who must have been at least in her late sixty’s early seventies.

“I’m Hattie Zrevan. My entire family, most of my siblings, my children, and a couple of my grandchildren were equally split between your households.” She said evenly. It was true. The Damazar and K’etir held their servants and employees in high regards and often trusted them as if they were their own blood relation. Whole families lived and died working for the two houses. Dess’ own tutor growing up had been a Zrevan. Hattie wasn’t unknown either. She was the legendary black sheep that had refused domestic service and had went out in the world traveling to far off exotic places and returned only periodically to rest, visit with her family, and set off again. Dess had probably met her a time or two in his youth, though she hadn’t been back to civilization for a while as far as his memory stretched.

ImageShe was a lovely woman, even in her old age. Long white hair swirled wildly around deep caramel skin that looked like it was browned to a smooth chocolate in the summer sun. She had her share of wrinkles and crow’s feet, but most of the lines on her face were due to laughter and good humor danced in her eyes. Warm brown eyes surveyed them both as sharp as any bird of prey Kelski had ever seen.

Kelski studied Dess thoughtfully a few moments, her eyes unreadable. There was a softness to her gaze, almost a fondness, as she watched him.

Without Hattie reacting to her freeing herself, Kelski reached over and sliced through Dess’ bonds at his wrists and ankles too. She didn’t pull the leather free or anything, but simply cut and stood up, re-sheathing Pitch at the small of her back. Then she stood quietly, calmly, as if she just hadn’t been drugged and bound.

“You are absolutely serious about homesteading here?” Hattie asked, shaking her head. “Why in the world would you pick here of all places? Zeltiva is a hub of knowledge, but most of her lazy scholars starve to death because they aren’t smart enough to grow food in their mountains or terrace the hills to provide crops for the city.” The old woman said, glancing between the pair.

“I claimed this land.” Kelski said thoughtfully. “And we are going to grow our own food in fields we clear ourselves and mind our own business well outside of a city and its politics. I don’t know who these Drust are, but should we be worried about them here?” She asked, glancing between Dess and Hattie.

“I think the Drust are busy licking their wounds and regrouping after their latest coup. Things went down hard but they didn’t go down easy.” Hattie said at last, looking thoughtful. “If you don’t use your last names and stay low you should be fine for a while. But mark my words, a while isn’t forever. The Drust want every man woman and child gone from this world they consider an enemy. And you two definitely fall into that category.” The woman said, moving this time to pick up a pack she had with her.

She didn’t mention the life or deaths of her family, if indeed that was a fact. And she didn’t seem angry or any other way affected by the mention of other people wanting to kill them.

“So, you unloaded below the tower in the beach there and claimed this land huh? You living in the tower then? Or have you found it yet? It was pretty well shielded. But I saw that bearded fellow clearing land right by it. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ran right into it or fell a tree against it. Shields can’t hide that kind of thing well.” She mused, and looked expectantly.

“Tower?” Kelski said, looking surprised. “We haven’t found a tower.” She said carefully, looking surprised. “What tower?” She mused, glancing at Dess to see if he had a reaction to her statement either. Had he seen one?

“You haven’t found the tower yet? Lands far away, child… you need help. Well… lets go find it then. Your group is probably camped right on top of it. Young Dess… lead on. I might as well come with you and stay a while. I’m overdue on a trip home anyhow, but that seems a bit … unobtainable at the moment. I’m old you know. I can’t sleep out on a bedroll all the time these days.” She complained, then let the hood fall from her hand which caused it to swing to her back, even as she picked up an equally camouflaged bag that looked absolutely overstuffed.

Then impatiently, she made several ‘lets get on with it’ motions to Dess and Kelski, as if she were waiting for them to take the lead.
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[Empyreal Demesne] Scouting New Territory (Dess)

Postby Dessarian on July 24th, 2019, 12:49 pm

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The conversation paused as both Dess and the stranger watched Kelski squirm to her knees and shook off the last effects of the dart drug. The camouflaged being seemed sincerely dismayed that the Kelvic roused from her unconsciousness so soon, but Dess looked at Kelski almost proudly. He had learned she was not to be underestimated. Even her reaction impressed the Damazar, offering no threats or displaying anger at the attack, but simply inquiring as to the reason.

Dess caught the movements of Kelski's wrists behind her back, seeing the mysterious blade again appear in her hand out of nowhere. Apparently his friend still had some tricks she had not shown him. The Damazar's muscles relaxed, seeing the hunter had no issue with Kelski freeing herself. The conversation's tone had shifted too, absent of any sort of animosity. The captor continued to speak freely, expressing a sort of reprieve for Kelski and Dess from the sins of their families, and an air of congeniality seemed to settle on the scene.

Once the stranger pulled off the hood, Dess was surprised to see they had been bested by an aged woman. But not just any woman, one that was vaguely familiar. The Damazar's azure gaze narrowed as he studied the creased face and lively eyes. Then Hattie introduced herself. Dess laughed, shaking his head in recognition.

Freed of his bonds by Kelski, Dess rose to stand next to the Sea Eagle before Hattie Zrevan. He held his peace as Kelski spoke, explaining their presence. But mention of the Drust again, and the inference that there had been a mass killing, tempered Dess's amusement at meeting the wandering Zrevan. She had given sound warning about concealing their identity, and an ominous caution that the Drust were set on annihilation of all enemies, Kelski and he included. Dess wondered again about Kal and silently prayed for his safety.

Further confusion came at the mention of a tower. Dess looked at Kelski, who was equally surprised. He shrugged at the Kelvic. Apparently Vasin had been working right beside it as he cleared land. By Hattie's description, it must have been veiled, much like the Damazar and K'etir keeps were. Was it Hattie's? Such a tower would be a great boon to them, if given access to it.

The old woman invited herself to stay with them. Dess found the idea acceptable, though he didn't know Kelski's thoughts. Hattie's family had served Kelski and Dess's families, and himself as a child, and Dess felt a responsibility to Hattie on behalf of her family. With identities revealed and an unspoken alliance understood, Hattie seemed bent on moving on, so Dess turned and began to back track, using Kelski's ribbons to help guide them.

"Who's tower is it?" Dess tossed the question over his shoulder to Hattie.
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[Empyreal Demesne] Scouting New Territory (Dess)

Postby Kelski on July 26th, 2019, 3:57 am

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“How should I know who’s tower it is? I didn’t exactly traipse around in it.” Hattie said with a roll of her ancient eyes. She shook her head when Dess turned to retrace their tracks, looking for Kelski’s ribbon trail. An ancient arm snaked out, stilled him by grasping a shoulder, and she shook her head. “You need a better sense of direction, son. The camps the other way and inland on the water unless you want to walk back the whole way you two have come so far. I don’t. Old legs.” She claimed, letting loose of him and beckoning the way they had been heading initially.

Kelski watched the exchange slightly baffled. She glanced at Dess then back at Hattie, unsure of what was going on. Did the two of them know each other? The older woman had explained quite a bit to Dess that Kelski hadn’t followed. Neither one of them filled her in on what was going on either. And then the talk turned to a tower that apparently was right where Vasin had cleared the land.

Frankly, the sea eagle found it all just a touch rude. But she said nothing, which was her way of dealing with being shut out… and took a moment to pull her unruly hair back into its leather thong and wipe the dirt off her face. By that time, Hattie had gotten Dess going in the right directly and the Sea Eagle had taken up the rear.

The Sea Eagle Kelvic wanted to say something, to interrupt them, to ask what was going on but she was afraid they would stop talking altogether. In a way, she was hungry for news of her other mysterious family, the one that hadn’t sold her to slavery but had been just as much a victim as she had been. But her head pounded, and her sight wasn’t back to its sharp eagle vision yet. She was truthfully still fighting off the dredges of the drug in her system and wondering what the woman had brought her down with. Elk Downer seemed a slightly personal generic term for something so strong.

Kelski disliked drugs tremendously. She disliked people that used them. And while she hadn’t wanted to provoke the woman, it had been a strong urge within her to do so. A punch to the face, or better yet a knife to the throat would be more suitable for someone used to dosing others with drugs willy-nilly. Kelski kept her expression schooled to blank neutrality and instead studied the trail, where they were going, and paused to hang her ribbons as the woman lead them onward.

She opted not to say anything more to Dess. If he wanted to be quiet with his thoughts and uninformative with his opinions, then she’d let him and expect him to respect the same in her. The woman, on the other hand, was anything but quiet.

Hattie chattered as they walked, pointing out obstacles on the pathway and noting where she’d seen game animals or patches of edible and medicinal plants. She even pointed out a walnut tree that looked like it had been growing where it was growing since before the Valterrian. Kelski hung a ribbon from its branches and moved on. She wasn’t quiet exactly, but more pensive and thoughtful watching Hattie and taking in what she had to say.

Before long they came to the boarder of land where Vasin had cleared. Brush had been cut back and a few trees had been cut down. The woman turned east then, walked a bit more, and stopped. “ Where’ here.” She said, brandishing a walking stick and reaching out to tap something that shimmered. The stick passed right through the shimmer to bounce off something that sounded like stone behind it. “Looks like it just blocks the tower from view… not that it keeps anything out.” Hattie said, and stepped through the barrier.

Kelski followed.

They found themselves on the other side of a shimmering veil of power. Rising four stories into the air, a stone tower of significant size graced the landscape. It had lofty windows filled with stained glass and fancy little velispar shaped minarets. It was a beautiful structure that was well fortified on the ground floor with windows that could be heavily shuttered against storms. A double set of doors lead inward, begging to be pushed open and explored. It looked like the whole thing would house all of them comfortably, at least until the manor could be built. It only depended on if the roof was in good condition and how the inside had fared.

Kelski wondered if it was unlocked just as Hattie gestured to the door. “Well, go on, go see whats inside. The door’s unlocked. I only peaked in. I’ve never gone fully inside. I didn’t think it was safe alone.” She added.
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[Empyreal Demesne] Scouting New Territory (Dess)

Postby Dessarian on July 26th, 2019, 3:48 pm

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Dess sighed, knowing exactly what he had done the moment that old hand met his shoulder. The mental geography flashed into his mind, Placing himself in a spot on the imaginary loop Kelski and he had intended to walk. Dess didn't accept such lapses in judgement from himself. His only excuse was the sudden appearance of Hattie Crevan after so many years, and more so, the still unexplained fate of the families after her news of the Drust's purge. It had all shocked him more than he let on. Dessarian had let it vex his focus, for it was not like a Damazar to make such a simple mistake, to head in the wrong direction. Dess cursed himself, but self-deprecation was quickly swept away. Chastising one's self served to bring back focus, but was detrimental if it persisted. Dess altered his course, irked that the Crevan woman still spoke to him like he was that tow-headed little boy she knew before she left them all and never returned.

Kelski had fallen silent, her demeanor much less amiable than before they were downed. He could understand the displeasure she might feel about being drugged and bound, but her features also lost the tells of emotion, her silvery gaze simply taking in the man and older woman quietly before they resumed their trek. She had also stopped asking questions. Dess glanced to the Kelvic. There was something more.

As they walked and Hattie idly commented along the way, Dess pondered the unexpected encounter and its repercussions. If Hattie spoke the truth, many, if not all, of his family were killed or in danger. The same went for the K'etir. And now Kelski was threatened. Any glimmer of good news would be that none of the powerful magic the K'etir possessed fell into Drust hands.

It was time to tell Kelski the truth. Hattie's presence had collapsed the distance between their families and their remote new home. Besides, in his opinion, the Sea Eagle should know where she came from. He was going to let Kal tell her, but Dess didn't know when he was coming, or if he was even alive. There was no more time to wait. But Dess wanted to reveal it all to Kelski alone.

Dess continued to watch for other routes that might be used to move into the territory, including streams and clearings. A later interrogation of Hattie would hopefully reveal other facets of the landscape that would be useful. Finally, they had managed to complete their task, returning to the clearing Vasin had created, Kelski's leaving a trail of ribbons that would mark a pathway back into the forest.

They finally halted before an expanse of ground adjacent to that which the bearded swordsman had cleared. Hattie raised her stick as if to jab the air, but a curious ripple erupted around the end of the branch, the unseen surface shimmering in a familiar manner. They passed through the veil, Dess finding the magic barrier similar to what had concealed the family keeps. From within, the surroundings could be seen clearly, with only a subtle shimmer that proved the barrier was intact.

Dess' head lifted to examine the tower that loomed over them. It was a sturdy stone structure designed for more than merely watching over the forest and shoreline, by its more elaborate architecture. The fortified first floor suggested the intent of permanent occupancy. What intrigued Dess was that it was not merely very functional, but the structure had aesthetic qualities, with colorful windows and more ornate adornments like minarets. He could not guess its age, or who built it. Apparently, Kelski was not the first to consider the area a suitable home.

Dess glanced over to Kelski as they stood before the sturdy, iron-bound double doors. He shouldered closer to the Kelvic and murmured. "I'll explain her later." he promised, before gesturing at the mysterious tower. "This could change everything." He then commented looking up at the structure. "IF it proves to be sound and not..." He left the rest of his statement unspoken, given the myriad of possibilities that could lie behind the doors of a tower hidden by magic.

He looked over at Hattie next, then placed his hand on the door. If she had opened it once, Dess didn't worry about immediate danger. He was unarmed, having left behind the makeshift walking stick Kelski had given him after encountering the old Crevan.

Dess put pressure behind his hand, and the doors swung open. The portals moved with relative ease upon their hinges. He stepped cautiously within. The ceiling was higher than expected, the flagstone flooring intact and fairly level. The windows, of which none possessed even a crack, let it enough light to see clearly. While not even a cob web clung to the sound timbers that made up the ceiling, several pieces of dilapidated furniture were scattered across the room. A table, two chairs, an end table and a chest sat like crumpled drunkards upon the floor, and a dried out, threadbare rug covered the center of the room. A stone staircase clung to the outer circular, wall leading to the next floor. A sturdy wooden banister clung to the stone stairway.

Seeing no immediate danger, Dess stepped inside, allowing for the others to enter as well. He moved towards the nearest decaying furnishing in hopes of finding some artifact to shed some light on the strange tower.
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[Empyreal Demesne] Scouting New Territory (Dess)

Postby Kelski on July 28th, 2019, 4:05 pm

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Kelski hesitated back at the shield. When the other two walked through it and to the tower, she followed but turned back on the far side of the shield to examine it. She knew a little shielding, a magic that she’d picked up on her own in the Temple of the Unknown. This shield was complex, crafted by a master for sure, because it was multiple layered and carefully tasked to do a whole bunch of things Kelski couldn’t even remotely be able to accomplish at her level. She could shield against rain or fire, put up a shield and feed one, but making a structure disappear behind one was a bit out of her league. It was like she was at the level a jewelcrafter could tell the difference between a diamond and a zircon and the shield was at the level where a set of crown jewels for the Champion of Semele was crafted. She wondered how old it was and took the time to see if she could see how it was fed.

Truth be told, she couldn’t tell… and would have went on exploring it had Dess not whispered in her ear. She glanced at the old woman, back at Dess, then nodded almost imperceptibly. It wasn’t the first time someone had told her something like that, nor would it be the last time and she expected him to forget all about promising to explain Hattie later. Dess was human, after all, and Kelski wasn’t much trusting of them even if he did claim to be almost family in name. Hattie appeared to be another ‘almost family’ but the truth was… it was THEIR family, not hers. She didn’t know anything about them. And even Ember would say nothing, even when Kelski had once quietly broke down and begged the girl.

Magic was far more interesting than the promise of family. Family meant nothing to her, not really, unless one counted friends as family. And while she knew the tower could indeed change everything – like Dess had said – she wasn’t keen on going in. Not at least, first, and not until she was sure it wasn’t inhabited by ghosts. Dark quiet places hidden behind shields of magic didn’t scare her. But the remains of humans after death certainly did. And much like a pile of wood made for an amazing habitat for spiders and mice, long forgotten towers full of what looked like old things seemed like the perfect ghost habitat.

The Kelvic drew Pitch and then pulled one of the small vials of soulmist from her belt pouch and palmed it. She didn’t want to waste it in case she needed it. But having it handy made her feel better. Hattie and Dess had already moved in, the doors having swung open readily for the young Dessarian. Kelski watched them both cautiously then surveyed the premises herself. She tentatively walked forward, all senses on high alert, and looked for what would be her friend in these situations…. The shadows.

Kelski moved forward, as silently as she could with the others, and stepped into the nearest shadow. It engulphed her like an old friend, swallowing her up and allowing her to travel to another shadow across the room where no windows let in the light. She stepped out across the room, still surveying and felt the presences all around her.

Nightstalker. Favored of The Night Mother.

They whispered, seductively, soothingly, in a multitude of voices. Be welcome here. They chanted, flocking too her, almost completely enshrouding her as they swirled around her excitedly. The language they used was Makath – unheard by those who could not speak it. Kelski answered them in kind.

Her voice picked up the strange language and responded to them, questioning them further while her friends waited. “Who owns this place? Is it occupied by the living or the dead?” She asked, her silver eyes wide, curious, but unafraid. Akajia’s creatures posed no threat to her here. They were her allies and a big comfort to have around.

No one has lived here a long time, Nightstalker. Living or shade, no one has walked these halls and climbed these tower stairs. Not at least any past mice and squirrels and an occasionally bear wintering over. Such things are no danger to you. Once this place sheltered many, built by magic, it has strongly withstood hundreds of years. The last of its denizens has gone though, past the veil many centuries ago. Even now her bones are dust. Will you stay here? Will you keep us company?” They asked, hope filling them for Shadows were accustomed to people and doings, and hated dwelling out where there was nothing to watch and nothing to learn.

Kelski nodded to them. “Yes, we will stay. I am very glad you are here.” She said gently, her Makath cracking at the emotion in her voice.

She turned to the others… not explaining who she was talking to or why. Instead, she simply said… “It’s abandoned… for centuries. The last denizen died here and no one since has been here but mice and squirrels and an occasional bear to overwinter in sleep. It is safe. And we are welcome here.” She said softly, unsure if the shadows idea of safety was her idea of safety, but she trusted them nonetheless.

“I am Kelskanisha K'etir, this is Dessarian Damazar, and finally Hattie Zrevan. Who are you?” She asked quietly… the names were in common but she was still speaking in Makath. The shadows swirled even more, several peeling out of the mass and introduced themselves. Three names were given, as if they were representatives of the whole horde.

Chal. Tuz. And Naudi. They sounded like two distinct males and one female, though with shadows Kelski couldn’t be certain.

“Thank you for letting us stay.” She said finally in common, nodding as each name was given. She tried hard to remember the tones of voice, and which name belonged to which tone. Then she turned to the others once more. She made a show of putting her weapons away, including the vial of soulmist, and took a small globe out of her backpack. She touched the top of it, whispered a word, and it floated up in to the air, chasing the shadows back but well illuminating the interior of the tower.

It was bigger than she suspected. The bottom floor looked to be a living and gathering area, with a huge hearth for cooking, rows of big tables – some of which weren’t in bad shape, and couches for lounging that looked like they were ready to fall apart immediately. The whole place did have faint smell of old bear and could use a good cleaning. It would feed and house about twenty people comfortably. Kelski headed to the stairs, figuring the high ceilings indicated a big stairway upwards on one wall, and that was true enough. There was a stair. She headed upwards.
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[Empyreal Demesne] Scouting New Territory (Dess)

Postby Dessarian on July 30th, 2019, 4:12 pm

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There was a deep silence in the lowest chamber of the tower. Dessarian stepped in further, scanning the room, then looked behind him to see Hattie, and finally Kelski enter. The Kelvic had drawn the blade that always seemed to appear in her hand, another unidentifiable item grasped in the other. Then he recalled again that night in Sunberth, and the terror-stricken Kelski fleeing the ghost of Darvin. The Kelvic had reason to be reluctant to enter. But Kelski did not cower upon entering, a credit to her conquering of fear.

Dessarian continued his survey of the poorly lit chamber, though there was little of significant note. Furniture in various states, a long dead hearth, windows intact with each wooden shutter functioning. He had not seen Kelski move about the room, until she walked into his peripheral view. She had an unusual look to her features as she paused, as if looking at things that escaped the view of the others. Her lips moved, unfamiliar syllables spilling out. While they sounded as if they had grammatical structure, the language itself was a mystery. Pause, speak, pause speak. Kelski was conversing with something, or someone. It was a fair bet that it was not a ghost. But what? A Messenger of a god? Shadows?

Dessarian was not aware of the true nature of the conversation, but he saw the curious shadings move about her body, as if the light coming in through the windows was hindered by a leafy branch blowing in the wind, painting moving, faint shadows across her body. But there was no tree outside. His glance darted to Hattie. The old woman watched and waited patiently.

He heard their names, and finally, a final statement in the Common Tongue. Whatever had transpired, it was complete, Kelski's stowing of her weapon proving there was nothing to fear in the tower. Her ease allowed Dess to lower his guard somewhat. Dessarian stared at the Sea Eagle a moment as she produced the glowing sphere. He was a fool to think he knew her already. There was much to the Kelvic he could not begin to discern. For all the friendship she had shown him, and he tried to reciprocate, they each had many secrets. Dess was growing tired of secrets.

Dess and Hattie followed Kelski with her light globe to the second floor. It too sported a hearth, smaller than the one on the first floor. The windows were even larger and stained with color, golds and blues and orange. Several beds were set in a pattern, chairs scattered, and wardrobes set against one wall. Most of the furniture occupied one side of the floor, the other half was sparse. A window on that side was a bit wider. outside of it a short thick wooden arm remained affixed to the outer wall, a stout pully on the end. While rope no longer hung from the hoist, the contraption's purpose was clear, hauling loads up to the second floor, half of which appeared to be for storage.

As Hattie and Kelski looked around, Dess slipped up the staircase to the next floor. The furniture indicated only a few occupants slept in the room. Workbenches set out about the chamber. A few items and utensils remained scattered on the benches, including a vice still bolted to one, as well as a cracked glass beaker and a several broken glass rods. Two of the tables had circular black scorch marks in their center. Though there was no larger windows, a winch was bolted to the ceiling just inside of one of the windows, apparently designed to lift lighter loads than the one a floor below.

Dess waited for Kelski and Hattie to join him, her light illuminating the room more fully. Dess turned to the Kelvic. She had not volunteered information on her curious conversation, and given his own reluctance to share, Dess could hardly blame her. They had been keeping secrets from her. He was getting tired of secrets. Dess turned again to look at a faded tapestry clinging to the wall with rotting ropes.

"The K'etir and the Damazar have been working together for ages, nearly since the Valterrian." He began, darting a glance at Hattie. "The families formed an alliance, and then an order. The Ke'tir were mages of great power, with magicks guarded from the rest of the world. The book Ember brought you, the knowledge of Architectrix, was one such practice. The Damazar were warriors who protected the K'etir and their magic. The families created ties to strengthen their alliance. The practice of giving K'etir Kelvics to the Damazar, like what was planned for you and I, were one of those practices."

Damazar turned, looking around the tower room. "They built keeps, shielded much like this one, in the Wildlands. From their they remained hidden, but their influence reached into the cities of Sylira, and even beyond." Dess then turned to Kelski. "So it is no surprise to me that you are inclined to wield such magic, and with skill. Or that you created the Meraki."

"But power breeds enemies. The Drust family are older than the Valterrian, rivals for magic and power, but never fully recovering after that time. They have harangued us and attempted to thwart us for centuries." Dess looked to the old woman. "But it seems we have deceived ourselves, our enemy was stronger than imagined, and they have struck." His tone grew somber.


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[Empyreal Demesne] Scouting New Territory (Dess)

Postby Kelski on August 1st, 2019, 4:54 am

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The Kelvic stayed close to the old woman at first, used to Mosa’s frailness and need to have a helping hand assist at times. Hattie was far different and waved the Kelvic away after a few moments with grumblings of all the fussing. The old woman was capable, far more than Kelski assumed possible, and the Kelvic left her to her own devices as they all explored. It had taken her mind off the possibilities of ghosts, which she was further reassured against when the shadows had welcomed her.

She hadn’t meant to exclude Dess or Hattie from her conversation with the shadows. It was simply a matter of her forgetting not everyone could hear them or understand their language. Akajia’s children were very much a part of Kelski’s life from guiding her to finding Gilthas to rescuing her in the darkness of her tormented childhood. Kelski trusted them like she didn’t trust actual physical people. And while that might have seemed a sad thing, they had never betrayed her as humans had.

Kelski said nothing as Dess slipped upstairs. She roamed freely getting to know the space and listening to the comments of the dwellers she’d already been introduced too. The dust didn’t bother her, nor did the spiders or various leaf debris that seemed to have swept in when windows came open. All could be set to rights with a little hard labor.

The women eventually followed the Damazar upwards and joined Dess in looking around. Hattie seemed impressed, nodding to herself periodically and examining various discarded items throughout the different levels. She stopped at the vice, tried it, and chuckled. “Seems like some sort of workroom.” Hattie commented, then roamed onward, leaving Kelski standing beside Dess.

When Dess spoke, Kelski turned to give him her attention. There was a carefully schooled neutral expression on her face that barely concealed the curiosity that lit her silvery eyes. Her skin rippled though, like she shivered, betraying a raptors’ need to adjust its body temperature by fluffing its feathers when strong emotions were present. As she let his words sink in, suddenly what Hattie had said earlier made more sense. Kelski was about to ask him if those Kelvics had any choice in the matter when he turned and continued speaking.

She didn’t let the question erupt. Instead, Kelski let what Dess said sink in. Family. Two of them in fact, united, under one cause. She wondered what that was like. In the end, it was so far from her point of reference in life she simply didn’t know what to say. Kelski wasn’t sure if she should make a polite comment, or ask a question, or simply remain silent. He continued though, relieving her of the need to say anything at all for a moment.

There was a third family? What? She didn’t know what harangued meant but it sounded like nothing good. Thwart she did understand and quickly put two and two together. Enemies then. The Damazar and K’etir had an enemy rival family. Maybe the K’etir should have sold a few of their Kelvics into slavery to the Drust instead of the Damazar to sooth over that relationship, instead of cultivating one with the Damazar.

But Kelski held her tongue. It was a lot of information to take in. Hattie made it sound like many people had died. Something should be said here for sure; something reassuring. Silvery eyes met blue and she quietly gave him her thoughts.

“I hope the people you care for are well and have not fallen to these Drust. It is possible Hattie doesn’t have all the information or even the right information. Don’t loose hope.” Kelski muttered, knowing that often information was misinterpreted or spread incorrectly. Was that saying enough? Too much? Gods she hated social situations.

“I don’t know anything about having a family, cultivating alliances or anything like that. Why are the Drust enemies? Couldn’t the K’etir just give them some of their unwanted Kelvics and make an alliance as well? Surely the Damazar had something they wanted as well.” She asked, not truly understanding the power struggles of humans. Dess hadn’t really been clear on what the Damazar gave to the K’etir in exchange. Maybe they got unwanted children back as well. Surely mages didn’t need guardians who were good in physical combat. That seemed awkward and dependent. Humans and their complex relationships stymied her. It was something she’d had trouble with in Sunberth as well. All the changing hands of coin, slaves, goods, and land was confusing to her. She simply thought if people needed more… they could work harder, be craftier, put in more time and make their needs manifest. Making deals and killing off enemies seemed a terrible option to her.

“I hope this place wasn’t anything like that…” Kelski said softly. She didn’t know what to say to Dess’ compliment so she changed the subject.

“Akajia’s shadows said no one has lived here in a long time. They said this tower was built by magic and sheltered many. It has been here hundreds of years, they said. I think its people aged out because they said the last of its denizens has passed on many centuries ago and that her bones were dust. They wanted us to stay. Shadows usually like company.” She said, offering that knowledge to Dess. She didn’t know if she should say something or not… but she didn’t know how to comfort him in his distress over what Hattie had said.

As for Hattie, she looked up sharply from where she was rummaging through an old crate, studied Kelski a moment, and said blatantly… “By the Gods, Dessarian, this K’etir is a Nightstalker.” She said, surprised. Kelski thought she saw the woman pocket a thing or two. Hattie’s words were almost judgmental, at the very least accusingly. The tone didn’t set well with the Kelvic. Kelski turned to Hattie then, her eyes blazing. “Akajia has been good to me. I wear her marks proudly. Don’t speak as if it is a bad thing. We hold our tongues and keep our discovered secrets close. There is no shame in following the Night Mother. She’s been more of a parent to me than any woman who bore me or man who sired me.” Kelski said, then fired back at the other older woman.

“You wouldn’t be roaming about the wilderness at your age without at least a mark or two of your own. And if these families are what Dess says they are, he must bear a mark or two himself. We all have our own stories. It’s not anything to ever be ashamed of. Who do you follow?” Kelski demanded, turning so she faced both of them, her demeanor fierce almost as if she were an animal cornered.

Hattie laughed. “I follow Luck himself. But your claws away, little Kelvic. There is no battle here.” She said, glancing at the stairway and shrugging. She headed towards it as if suddenly the conversation no longer interested her.
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[Empyreal Demesne] Scouting New Territory (Dess)

Postby Dessarian on August 1st, 2019, 8:12 pm

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Dess's sudden monologue amid the exploration of the tower may not have been the best time or place to reveal the truth to Kelski. Usually tactful in his intentions, personal communication was not a Damazar strength. But the empty tower was a safe place, with just the three of them there. It wasn't fair to keep Kelski in the dark when she was quite aware that the things Hattie and he discussed were relevant to who she was. Or at least to who she had been.

He didn't expect a dramatic reaction from the Kelvic, it was not Kelski's nature. Except, of course, when it came to ghosts. It was kind of her to first express hope that his family were alright, that maybe Hattie's information was inaccurate. Dess offered a faint smile in appreciation. It was true, Hattie Zrevan had walked away from the families she served years ago and he knew nothing about what she had done since. But he couldn't come up with a logical reason why someone would misinform her, or why she might lie about what happened. Wisdom told him to continue as if what Hattie said was true, because they would be in danger if the killings did happen. Only when he had confirmation otherwise would he relax his diligence.

The Kelvic's questions came from a mind unfettered by human paradigm. It was the beauty of the Kelvics. Even raised in a human world, they were not born to think as a human. Dess had learned that the Kelvics were not humans that turned into animals, they were animals given human awareness and a human mien. they didn't think like humans.

To her question, Dess shrugged. "It has gone on long before I came a long, those answers may be lost to anyone." He paused his wandering, stepping close to her. "But I want you to understand. No K'etir Kelvic is unwanted. You were not promised to me because your family didn't want you. Bonding with a Damazar was like family. Its not about getting a slave, its about becoming spouses." It was a concept that didn't sound entirely palatable to many, but it was not slavery. " I am sure the idea of giving a Kelvic family member to such ancient rivals is...was unthinkable."

He was getting into the weeds of their joint history, something he preferred to do alone. She had already attempted to move past the subject, which lead to a new revelation. Akajia's mark explained to whom Kelski had spoken, the very shadows of the place. Hattie did not conceal her disdain for Nighstalkers. Dess's brow furrowed as tension in the room escalated. He was defensive of Kelski, Hattie didn't know her. Likewise, Kelski demanded to know what else the two of them concealed. Dess had tolerated the older woman's cavalier attitude because of her age and their history, but it was wearing thin on his patience.

As Hattie seemed to dismiss her younger companions to continue exploring, Dess looked her way. "What difference is there between a young woman who speaks to the shadows and an old woman hiding in rags and shooting strangers with poisoned darts..." Dess's tone was like a blade from its sheath, just loud enough to be audible to both women.

Once the old woman had gone her up the stairs, Dess turned to Kelski, his tone returned to a calmer quality. He reached back behind his head, gathered up his blonde mane and turned his back to Kelski, his neck bared to show a blue flame upon his skin. "I bear the mark of Wyser. I spent several years training in Riverfall among the Akalak. Six years ago, after the Bone-Dog Attack, I was blessed with it. Evantia, and my knowledge of Flux, were what allowed me so many victories when they threw me into the fighting pits. That was until I was betrayed."

He let his hair fall loose, turning back to Kelski. A rare smile touched his lips as he intentionally caught her silvery gaze. "Akajia's Secretkeeper, I have a lot of secrets, but I won't keep anymore from you. Yours you may keep, until the time you trust me. I hope then, we can do away with secrets."

He held the gaze of the beautiful Sea Eagle for a moment, then stepped over to look out of one of the windows they had opened. He wanted to earn Kelski's trust, a task he understood was difficult for a Kelvic who had endured so much in only a few years of life. Being trustworthy had not always been easy for a Damazar either, their lives were dedicated to keeping the secrets of the Families.
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[Empyreal Demesne] Scouting New Territory (Dess)

Postby Kelski on August 5th, 2019, 5:36 am

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Kelski watched Dess as he spoke. In fact, she was watching him so intently that she almost missed what he said. No K’etir Kelvic was unwanted? It wasn’t about slavery but about spouses? What in the world was a spouse? She’d been passed from owner to owner at the exchange of coin, spending most of her childhood on the seas with various lone Svefra and she’d escaped only to live with an elderly Master Jeweler long enough to learn his trade before she was stolen again. And yet they wouldn’t give a K’etir Kelvic to a Drust? Kelski wasn’t feeling any clearer on things after Dess spoke. But she did note the sincerity in his eyes and took what he said at face value.

Hattie’s outburst didn’t bother Kelski. The Kelvic simply said her piece and hissed her displeasure at the old woman’s disdain. “She’s only mad because if she knows what a Nightstalker is, she knows we take our secrets to the grave. We speak only to Akajia of the things we know… and don’t gossip like old women love too.” The Kelvic retorted, equally sour at the dark-skinned woman as she retreated up the stairs.

When Dess turned to her, she expected censure as well. She was surprised he revealed parts of his life to her. She listened carefully as he spoke of his God and how he’d earned his mark and onwards until the Fighting Pits were spoken of. She watched him, her eagle’s gaze watching his micromovements, curious and reading more of his expression than his tone. She would have never thought to look for a gnosis mark on the back of someone’s neck.

When he turned around, he would catch her staring. But she did so openly. Kelski wasn’t used to people being so forthright, honest, and for them to make themselves vulnerable. The Sea Eagle didn’t know who Wyser was, but she knew the Akalaks and liked them tremendously. She knew morphing because of one. She stared at him several moments, still processing what he said, before she broke the eye contact.

Then she reached out and brushed a lock of his loose hair from in front of his eyes. “ want to say I am sorry you were betrayed. But I am not. I suspect both of us would be dead now if you hadn’t been treated thusly and I hadn’t found you in the slave market. Circumstances in life are often like that. One bad thing or a string of bad things can lead to good things. I don’t know if you consider being right here in the now a good thing, but I know you have given me courage to move forward and to come here.” She said softly, then released his hair to study her hand as if she were thinking his loose blond locks had somehow marked her pale skin. Kelski’s fingers were tipped with black pointed nails that looked like carefully manicured and painted fakes. They weren’t though. They were sharp and real, a sign of her Kelvic nature.

“I don’t understand some of the things you say. I don’t know what a spouse is. I don’t know why you would want me nor why my… “ It was as if she choked on the next word before she could say it. “…family would want me to be with you.” She said, glancing down then back up at him. “I don’t know why you would share your marks with me or be so understanding about my own. You feel almost protective. I’m not used to that. I don’t know how to react to it.” She said all at once. Kelski was used to having the upper hand. She was used to being the strongest in the room because she worked hard and made it so no one had an advantage over her if she could help it. She was used to being the protector. She was used to, at least since her freedom, being the one that had the answers, money, or solutions from thinking things through.

But Dess knew things. He had answers. He was a thinker. And he definitely was something… that was unasked for and unexpected.

Above all that, he was kind. And kindness in a human was unheard of for her. It broke down her external walls a bit. It made her want to reach out to him, and that made her feel vulnerable. She didn’t know what else to do or say. And she wasn’t sure if she was supposed to say anything, truth be told. Instead she offered him a smile, a smile that said that all of this was a bit much, and that all of this was not unwelcome but that it was new ground to travel and that she was going to go carefully.

“I can see it in your eyes. You want me to trust you. But the truth is I already do. You wouldn’t be here, with all of us, if I didn’t. It’s always been my flaw. I trust people easily… especially strangers. I trust them because I want too. I want people to be good. I trust people and give and give and give to them. They don’t always turn out bad. When they do, it doesn’t stop me from trusting all over again. I do it almost every time. I’m like that with people that need help too. Just ask Mercy about how Caitlyn and herself came to live at The Gem. The hard part for me is opening up. I don’t… open up easily… not like you do. Not about… secrets and feelings and hopes. I’ve never had a family; not like you have. I’ve just had people that I like surrounding me since my freedom. But I don’t really know them, Dessarian, not like a friend should know a friend. Maybe Ebon… maybe him. But that’s all. Even Ember gives me a wide berth. But Vasin? Anja? We are like strangers that live under the same roof. We talk and see each other daily, but we don’t really… share.” Kelski said, then quietly unslung her backpack and opened it up. She reached inside and gently pulled forth a statue that looked like an old man with a mandolin in his arms.

“This is my best and truest friend.” Kelski said as she set the little ceramic statue down. “His name is Little Rhaus.” She added, then stepped back, grinning at the stature.

The twice cursed thing grinned back, stretched, and then glared at Kelski. “Were you going to leave me in there all bloody day?” He hissed, indigent even, over the forced confinement. “First the ship, then I had to stay out of the way of setting up camp. Finally, … I get to get out?!?” He said, stretching his ceramic arms and twirling around. He marched all around on the floor, as if checking the place out. Then he looked up and studied Dess and did a double take. “He’s prettier than I thought he would be. But last time I got a really good look at him he was still healing that face of bruises.” Little Rhaus said, looking intrigued at the idea of flesh actually healing.

“Kelski, I heard the whole thing. And woman, you need to stop people and ask them the meaning of things when you don’t understand. A spouse is a mate. He said you both were intended to be mates. In the human world, sometimes that’s equal sometimes its not. As for all the rest… the Drust are bad news. They are war mages, every one of them, and they deal in some deep dark shit, if you know what I mean. They are ruthless, territorial, and controlling. They make The Sun’s Birth look like a tame dog and pony show for children in comparison. Don’t tangle with them. Stay clear of them, at least until you are stronger. And know too that where there is one, there is usually twenty. They travel in packs and never play fair in combat.” Little Rhaus said, glancing at Dess.

“If he’s their enemy, that’s not good news.” Little Rhaus said honestly, not really willing to pull punches where Kelski was concerned. The Sea Eagle tended to handle good news… or even not so good of news with grace and knowing the whole of it gave her time to plan and plot.

Kelski didn’t like hearing any of this… not one bit. She hissed her displeasure at anything being compared to the evils of The Sun’s Birth and shook her head sighing softly. “Then we have enemies we didn’t even know we had….” She mused, as Little Rhaus nodded and glanced at Dessarian.

“Tell me, Dessarian. Why do the two families you speak of give each other their children? Why are you united? Why would you even want Kelski? And if you don’t, what are you doing still here? That’s what I can’t figure out. Why Kelvics and why are you sticking around? She has no treasure. She has money but only because she earns it honestly through hard work. But let me tell you… all the things you don’t know about her. She’s as stubborn as a mule. She cusses like a sailor. She judges everyone before they open their mouth to speak. She has terrors that are unspeakable… and many. Its why she trains until she drops sometimes. And its why she never sleeps. She stops listening when she’s afraid. She hits first… even kills first… when remotely threatened even when its not the right thing to do. Kelski tells herself daily she’s not good enough and believes it. There’s nothing pure or unbroken about her. She even thinks of the Architectrixs in her backpack as her children. I wouldn’t put it past her to lie, cheat, steal or kill for it too. And then there’s me. I’m her best friend. I’m not even flesh and bone.” He said, shaking his bearded head and laughing lightly.

Kelski was simply staring at Little Rhaus, slightly horrified. “There’s nothing wrong with loving you… and calling you my friend.” The Sea Eagle said, scooping up the ceramic figurine like he was a doll and cuddling him. “I’m going to ignore that you said the rest though. Friends don’t throw friends under verbal wagons.” She said lightly, before kissing him on the top of the head and setting him back down.

She glanced up at Dess then. “Shall we go see whats upstairs?” She asked, hoping he’d let the whole conversation drop.
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[Empyreal Demesne] Scouting New Territory (Dess)

Postby Dessarian on August 5th, 2019, 3:16 pm

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One who did not know the Damazar might have said they were quiet. Silent may have been a more accurate description, for while few words passed their lips, there was a cacophony of words in their heads. Observing, assessing, analyzing, forecasting. A Damazar's mind was never empty. They were also gifted with the ability to compartmentalize emotion, to separate feelings from circumstances when the need arose. But that was not to be confused with lack of emotion.

Kelski herself proved adept at concealing reaction to the Dess's revelations, though her sharp-tongued response to Hattie elicited a concealed grin from the Damazar. Kelski was healthy in her self-awareness, and she seemed to draw strength from knowing what she was.

With the meddlesome old woman out of the room, the truths continued to unfold. The display of his mark was Dess's next revelation to share. When he turned again to face Kelski, those piercing raptor eyes were on him, but appeared...different. Her gaze darted to another part of his face. Dess held still as the Kelvic reached to right a stray lock of his hair. It was a small manifestation of Kelski's nature some had not seem, but any she had taken into the Gem understood. Kelski was a nurturer. Dess saw in the gesture the weakening of a barrier between them.

And then it came. As if his honesty were a key, it seemed to unlock Kelski's tongue, and the silence that had lingered between them for so long was beginning to fill with meaningful words. He had expected her to reveal more marks, or magicks, or history. What she gave him was far more precious. It was the content of her mind and heart. Dess understood that the Kelvic's words left her vulnerable to him. The Damazar would guard her thoughts and feelings as closely as he desired to protect her physical being. He also realized the value of the trust she placed in him, a trust he could not fathom betraying.

While Kelski's sharing gave such clarity to who she really was, her next action furrowed the man's brow with vexation. Dess watched as the statuette was set on the dusty floor between them. Her friend was a little statue? Was her friend a person, whose likeness the statue represented? The figure appeared a jovial type, a musician of sorts. She called it Little Rhaus. It did appear like the god in likeness. Perhaps she was referring to a devotion to Rhaus, represented by the statue. Dess realized he was wrong on all counts when the figurine began to move and speak.

Dess was learning that Kelski was a never-ending source of surprises, most of which came in the vein of magic. But this topped them all. As Little Rhaus strode over and looked up to study Dess, the man looked down, finding the thing alive and sentinet in every way, even to the chastising of Kelski. Her enchanted friend answered the questions she had entertained already, with brutal honesty. But everything the statue said about the Drust were true.

Then the thing turned the tables and unleashed a barrage of his own questions on the blond man. Dess glanced at Kelski, certain Rhaus's inquiries mirrored her own curiosities. Again, the conversation spun like a top, and the little figurine rattled off a number of reasons Dess might want to reconsider hanging around Kelski.

It was a relationship the likes Dess had not seen before. It was clear that Kelski adored the little babbling thing, and that it truly did know her. The Damazar could not remember ever seeing Kelski show that kind of affection to a real person. The woman and magic stature were truly friends.

"We all have flaws." Was all Dess offered to the statue, suggesting Rhaus' diatribe about Kelski's shortcomings had no bearing on the Damazar's desire to remain with her. There were so many questions lingering unanswered, questions he knew Kelski pondered. But Dess also saw the soft smile that politely confessed her overwhelmed reaction. When she suggested they continue on in their exploration of the tower, Dess smiled back, affirming the need for paced revelation.

As they drew near the staircase, Dess drew closer. "I want to answer your questions. All you need to do is ask them." The Damazar reminded the Kelvic. "I understand it doesn't make sense yet." They began to climb the stairs. "You are all I have now, you know." Dess added, an unspoken vow to her woven in his words.
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