[Act 1 - The Departure] The Blue Horizon & Beyond (Invite)

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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.

[Act 1 - The Departure] The Blue Horizon & Beyond (Invite)

Postby Carthin on June 14th, 2010, 1:02 am

Answers came for the other two, Sharn and Torc. Listening politely, Carth simply stood where he was, arms held across his chest. As he stood, he could feel the comparative weight of the armor- after wearing normal clothing for the last week or so, he'd become unaccustomed to the feel of protective clothing. The feeling would pass, he was sure- just another thing to remind him that he was... 'on the job' as it were.

Soon the priest turned to Carth and surprised him with a familiarity with his father. As the story was told, the lad's face opened up into a wider and wider smile. Yes, he remembered, it was one of the countless stories of kindness and heroism attributed to his father he knew. Cutter's Gap, the avalanche- it was the sort of thing that wasn't so much heroic as it was a testament to his amazing strength. Fastening himself to the wagon, he pulled the thing for miles after having saved it from an avalanche.

His father's voice rang in his head: The most mundane of tasks can afford itself to heroism. Yes, yes, of course, of course. You didn't need to slay a great beast or fight off a regiment of bandits to be great... you just needed a certain quality that Parfeith had had. Had Carth inherited it?

After the story, the offer came.

"I'm paying warriors 800 gold mizas for the trip with a bonus at the end for a job well done. Interested?"

Taking a breath Carthin nodded. It was quite a lot of money, to be sure- he could get by on that for quite some time. Still, though, this was for more than that... He needed to do something- he needed to test the waters. If he could offer protection for a trip to a faraway place, it would only be the beginning. It was, in a way, the true beginning of the boy's path along his father's footsteps...

In truth, though, he did not care so much for that. He wanted to honor his father, that was true enough, but the idea of becoming great and heroic was... a mere side-effect. This was his chance to see the world- to experience things that others only knew from stories and recounted tales. He wanted to feel the world, and this was his chance.

Smiling warmly at the priest, Carth nodded again, as if to confirm his original agreement.

"Yes," he said, "I will protect you with all my strength." Straightening his posture and uncrossing his arms, the boy made a fist with his right hand. Balled up, he hit himself in the chest with it, causing a dull thud to resound as it bounced off his hardened, leather chestpiece. He grinned to himself- it was something nobody but Carthin and Parfeith would understand.

After an interruption by an upset-looking boy and the priest's subsequent response, they were joined by Ulric. A fisherman that seemed convinced he could take on anything the world could throw at him. While he would never say it to the man's face, Carth believed that attitude to be nearly suicidal. In a world like Mizahar, with strangeness, oddities, and surprises hidden under every stone and coming out of every crack, nobody could ever be truly ready for the world... They could only get close, and pray for good luck.

General directions were given, and the assembled seemed largely satisfied. Belongings were not an issue, seeing as Carth had expected to be packing light for... the foreseeable future. He could easily fit all he needed in his alloted space. The horse, on the other hand, might be an issue. Magnus, for whatever reason, adored simply causing trouble. It could take anywhere from a handful of minutes to a number of hours to get that nightmare down to the boat- and who knew what it would do when they tried to get it down below?

This was going to be simply wonderful.
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[Act 1 - The Departure] The Blue Horizon & Beyond (Invite)

Postby Ulric on June 14th, 2010, 3:33 am

Eight hundred mizas? Ulric scowled at the figure. It was a veritable fortune; enough to purchase a house and live comfortably for a season. Clearly, the perils of this expedition were great – perhaps more than any of them could imagine. Well, that’s Glav’s problem, Ulric’s brow furrowed. As a pawn on the priest’s chessboard, his lot was to serve and obey. He wasn’t about to take the priest lightly. According to the rumors, Glav Navik was much more than he purported to be.

“Fair enough,” Ulric nodded. “I’m your man. For death and glory, and all that shyke.” He listened to Glav’s directives, sneaking glances at the others. They were a motley bunch; a hulking Jamoura of scholarly repute, a squat mixed-blood, a callow, chest-thumping youth, and Glav’s unsettling disciple. He and the mixed-blood were clearly dangerous, in their own, subtle ways. Ulric would have to watch out for them. Having originated from Ravok, the demesne of the Black Sun, he was unlikely to earn the disciple’s trust, and perhaps that of Glav Navik as well. It wasn’t that Ulric worshiped Rhysol; he was apathetic as far as the so-called “God of Evil” was concerned. Rather, he didn’t see any demarcation of moralities. Good and evil were in the eyes of the beholder, not emblazoned upon the cosmos. Certainly, the Ebonstryfe’s methods were more brutal than the Syliran Knights, but were the latter truly pure of heart? Ulric wasn’t so certain. His father had challenged the Black Sun’s hegemony and paid – deservedly, in Ulric’s opinion – with his life. All regimes were the same, mortaring the stones of their fortresses with the blood of dissenters. Inevitably, right and wrong were determined by the victors.

“Cargo is restricted to one sailor’s chest apiece,” Glav was saying, and Ulric felt his lips twist into a rueful smile. Apart from his cloak, flute, and fishing gear, his only possessions were his weapons and the clothes upon his back – hardly enough to fill his pack, much less a chest. In a way, that was a good thing. He wouldn’t be as encumbered on the road, especially in the event of a skirmish. Hopefully, none of the others would flee at the first indication of trouble. Ulric was no stranger to flight – shyke, he preferred to run when the peril was great – but fighting alone was different than fighting alongside a group. If one turned tail, the others were as good as dead. Sticking together offered the best prospect of survival. As much as Ulric disliked trust, he understood how essential it was to the mission’s success. It came with difficulty now, especially after the unpleasantness in Ravok. but he knew it was possible. After all, hadn’t he trusted that lad, Sam, to guide him through the Bronze Wood? Apart from that bond, Ulric had resolved to trust Glav in all matters. It was a peculiar sort of conviction, derived from master-servant paradigms, to ensure both their survival. Ulric would defer to Glav’s wishes, accepting but remaining wary of manipulation, until he sensed he was becoming expendable. Then, the priest would have another problem on his hands.

After Glav delivered his closing remarks, Ulric found himself at a loss. He had until the fifteenth bell to put his affairs in order, but what had he left to do? His possessions were in his pack, his lodging settled, and goodbyes… well, those weren’t necessary. Ulric had few acquaintances in Syliras, none of whom he suspected would notice his absence. I suppose it’s a better departure than the last time, he smirked. Fleeing Ravok had been an act of self-preservation. One simply didn’t leave two corpses floating in the canals and wait for the Ebonstryfe to come knocking.

Ulric ambled from the Temple, wondering what sort of the vessel the Blue Horizon was. A saique, perhaps, or full-rigged sloop. Certainly, judging by the 800-miza wage, Glav Navik suffered no shortfall of coin, but ships were few and far in between. He should have raised the question inside, but why be impetuous? He was like to find out at sunset. Perhaps I’ll take a stroll by the docks, Ulric mused as he studied the mixed-blood and the Jamoura out of the corner of his eye. Lately, he’d felt particularly wistful for thunder of the surf and a rolling deck beneath his feet. Soon he would be upon the water once more, and all would be well with the world – at least for a time. Ulric had a sinking suspicion that soon their perils would begin in earnest.
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[Act 1 - The Departure] The Blue Horizon & Beyond (Invite)

Postby Jackson LaCroix on June 16th, 2010, 7:04 am

In the cold still of a morning that ruptured to light with the flight of geese, Jackson LaCroix sat cross legged within a heated flat. Open walnut shutters let in a fresh breeze of mint and may lilly, which filled his expanding lungs. Meditating quietly the man's body seemed to follow the rhythm of the natural world far beyond the gates of Zeltiva. Silk fluttered behind him as did the ring of a bronze incense burner, who`s coaxing scent was more engaging then the lush carpeting and fabric which adorning the suite`s walls and ground.

Breathing back in, the bare chest of the man read like the interwoven knots of ringed mandalas inked into his skin over spartan symbolism and even a charmed penal tattoo or three. The shapes of a thousand harmonic deities seemed to come alive like the shadows of a lit candle leaping over the ceiling of children's nightmares. Separate scars fell like wax along his body from the flame; hot but broken when dried till there was nothing left but the memory of zealous temperature.

Deep in concentration, Jackson pulled his djed across rib bones like a practiced tabla player, keeping continuous pliant rhythm with both hands and mind. The imagery of a hawk came to bear, it`s expanding irises serenading the ground searching for the motion of that illusive prey. He could almost feel the sensation of weightlessness beneath it`s feathers whisking him upward to the waking sky above.

Opening his eyes LaCroix rose succinctly and entered a stone room beyond, splashing drawn water over his features as coffee spiked it`s lingering allure into the risen incense.

Tasting the mix of finely ground kahve and cardamom Jackson changed into cotton and leather then flexed his forearms. With a clear head he left the comfort of the estate and did not wake it`s hosts. Stepping out into the dawn the man slowly unwrapped a parchment given to him the night before. He had been directed to engage an inquiry made by a certain Glav Navik for reasons not entirely disclosed, and thus started to travel towards the citadel of Syliras.. at times in the outlining guise of a winged hawk. It gave him the possibility to practice the art of long distance flight.

Arriving at the city gates in due time the human male landed on the perch of a statue`s arm and transformed into his natural form beneath the shadows of it`s porous dress. Entering the Temple smoothly Cross made his way towards the priest, ignoring the others huddled or standing near. Upon making contact appropriately, Jax`s voice slashed out.

"Known as Cross. Here to reach Kalea. Told you may know something in regard to vices. I`ve a particular one in mind. Trained in unarmed combat." He said nothing of his specific style but already was yearning for a reason to expel energy. Slowly and firmly, Jackson`s gaze held cool though his jaw was taunt as his body stood continually in balance. The tone of his voice seemed to suggest the particular matter was moderately confidential in nature but he did not press the issue.

Facing Glav, Jackson`s bound flesh stood evenly while wearing a green sleeveless undershirt and muted pants capped by soft leather boots. His attire was reminiscent of a monk`s yet held the practicality of seasoned experience. The man traveled light and appeared to need little more then the essentials.
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[Act 1 - The Departure] The Blue Horizon & Beyond (Invite)

Postby Gossamer on June 23rd, 2010, 9:58 pm

~ Jackson Lacroix

Glav looked up from where he was writing something in what appeared to be a journal that was sitting on the table he had set up as a registration center, and lifted an eyebrow at Cross. "Cross? Well, there are a number of ways to get to Kalea. I'm not in the passenger business. I am hiring on guards and scholars. I don't speak metaphor nor am I interested in vices. I'm looking for good men who are strong enough to make the trip with me - more because the environment is harsh than because I need the company. If you've got nothing more to say, move on. If you'd like to tell me a bit more about yourself in plain sentences, then you're likely going to be considered for the duty." He said, looking thoughtful. Glav was a man of words, and rarely had the patience to indulge those that weren't.

He gave Jackson another chance to introduce himself and to work out the details.


~ Everyone Else

If anyone wanted to go by the Docks and see the ship, they'd indeed find a Cromster tied up at the dock that was somewhat unfamiliar to the locals. Sleek and composed of high gloss, the little vessel screamed 'I'm fast.". As a smaller version of the galleon, the Cromster is known for its speed and the fact that it carried far more firepower than a sloop. The Blue Horizon shone with wealth and sported brilliant blue sails that matched the color of the Summer Suvan Sea. A careful inquiry to the captain would have granted each man or woman a birth, let them put their gear on board, and would have gained them the knowledge that the ship housed a crew of 50, though there were ten passengers cabins. The Captain's name was Finn Hanli, a bold young captain who looked like he grew up swabbing decks and pleasing his lady in all ways possible. And it was obvious that 'Blue Horizon' was indeed his lady. She lacked for nothing.

~ Later that day...

If they joined Glav in the Temple for one last time, they'd find the man greatly changed. Gone was the homespun robe, its loose rope belt and soft kidskin shoes. Instead, he had changed into traveler's garb of black leather, tall riding boots, and full light armor. Twin swords hung at his side He was arguing, intensely, with a blue skinned Akalak that looked every inch a warrior. They both looked frustrated. The Akalak noted the newcomers, trickling into the temple, and shook his head. "You're out of time, Glav. Don't do this." He said softly, his voice full of concern.

Glav responded immediately. "We've been friends for a long time. I know you think what you say is right. But the time to wait is over. I don't know how to convince you of that. Just trust me. Trust me on this one." The Akalak sighed, shook his head, and took a step back.

"I wish I could. But you aren't your father. Not now. And not likely to be. I don't say that to be cruel, but its the truth. Remember what I have said."
With that, he turned, took three steps and disappeared. Glav continued to stare after him, looking somehow stricken - as if one ally he'd been counting on had just withdrew his support.

But he got himself together, turned, and studied the group. "Good. I'm glad you came. Now, we must be going. There's one more stop before we sail and the tide is turning, so we must be quick about it. I've word from the captain that we will be leaving earlier than expected. I see some of you have already dropped off your things. Good." With that, he gestured, and as a group the gathering moved out of the main gates and took to the streets of Syliras. It didn't take them long to walk through the courtyard that made up the main streets of Syliras and into Stormhold proper itself. During the trip, there'd be time for conversation - even casual banter - or questions both of Glav and each other as they walked.

The Priest traversed the hallways of Stormhold as if he'd been there a million times, taking them deeper than most citizens were allowed. They passed through three sets of guards, and finally up to the knight level - traversed another hallway - and down more steps until they came out into a beautiful courtyard that had a glimmering Oak Tree that was one of the largest each of them had perhaps ever seen. The guards let them through, but grudgingly, perhaps only because Glav Navis was with them. The Courtyard itself was set up like a shrine, elegant and shielding the tree completely from all sides. It looked as if the castle had been build up around it - to protect it - rather than having the oak been planted after the castle had been built.

He paused here, bowed deeply to the tree, and then turned to the group. "This, my friends, is the Windoak... one of Syliras' greatest treasure. It is all thats left - the best parts - of Sylir. He was the God of Peace and Civilization. He sacrificed himself to save the world." Glav said thoughtfully.

"It is tradition, in these parts, to come before the Wind Oak and ask its blessing before we depart on a quest. This is an important quest. Make no mistake about it. So I'd like each of you to approach the Windoak, present yourselves, and ask for its blessing on this endeavor. Sometimes it will impart knowledge, sometimes it will give gifts. If it remains silent for you... you will not be joining us on this quest."
Glav said firmly, thoughtfully, as he stepped back and let the others step forward and speak.
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[Act 1 - The Departure] The Blue Horizon & Beyond (Invite)

Postby Torc Ironwood on June 24th, 2010, 2:03 am

Once Torc and Sharn were done with their conversation, he headed down to the docks to store his gear upon the ship called Blue Horizon. It was an unusual experience for Torc as he made his way up the wooden gangplank. The ship looked more fish then the wooden tubs that sailed out of Zeltiva, its sides were glossed with narrow ribs under her frame. Her pitch in the dock was small, but from what sailors said, fast ships had larger pitches and rolls then wide ones out in the ocean. As the sea breeze brought the smell of salt, a hint of green kelp, and the sounds of galls, Torc felt the weight of his pack and the hot sun beat down upon him.

Getting up the gang plank Torc walked about the deck looking at sailors working. Some were placing supplies down in the hull, others were wrapping lines of rope into coils for later use, and even more were checking boards and sail. It seemed like a thousand different things were going on, and yet to Torc, he was clueless as to all of them. Torc found the ship’s carpenter and handed him some of his wood working tools. Torc knew that some of them wouldn’t be very useful for a ship, but they weren’t going to fit in his sailor’s chest and the books were more important. As the ship’s carpenter and he talked over different carving techniques and woodworking experiences, Torc felt sad for the lost of his tools. They were mainly chisels, files, and asps, but they were some of the first things he had purchased in Zeltiva and they had been used to make a bust of Kelwyn.

Torc carefully wrapped his books in excess clothes and began fitting everything he owned into the chest. It wasn’t much, and besides the books he really only had everyday items. Torc thought it was pathetically small amount of stuff, the books might have contained knowledge from the Zeltiva library, but the rest of his life was nothing more than a few shirts, pants, and shaving kit. His life felt so small, and when placed in the chest, it felt so insignificant. A small tear threaten to leave Torc’s eye as he looked down into the chest. Taking a deep breath, Torc closed the chest and locked it, at least he could study while on board of the ship.

Torc took some time to familiarize himself with the ship and its layout. Walking about and talking to a few sailors that were off duty, or could talk while doing their work. Sailors were salt of sea people, and though Torc was more dirt of the earth, they could both find common ground and still joke about big breasted barmaids, glories won, and sights seen. That was something Torc enjoyed and the voyage ahead of him didn’t seem so bad. Who knew, maybe he could do some work with the ship’s carpenter to keep his mind off the long boring voyage.

~ Later that day...

Torc headed back to the Temple after talking to the crew and getting some food. He might as well get something nice to eat while still on land, ship rations tended to be bland and repetitive. Torc entered the temple, surprise by the priest’s change in dress. Torc realized that it was stupid for someone traveling in the wilds and on a ship to wear priestly robes, but Torc had expected just that. Perhaps it had come from the time he was raised in the Temple of Kelwyn. The priests and priestesses only had robes of their orders, and in fact Torc couldn’t remember a time when he saw them wearing something else. He tried to picture Priestess Lara in a festival dress and for some reason the imagine wouldn’t even come into focus. He almost laughed as he realized that Glav was a person too, just like everyone else he met. However, thankfully due to his upbringing in a temple, Torc wasn’t even capable of laughing at the moment.

Torc felt slightly embarrassed for Glav and the man he was talking too. He hadn’t meant to eavesdrop upon their conversation. Torc felt a bit curious at what happened between the two, but he was also afraid that the Akalak would talk him out of his quest to Wind Reach. Upon the closure of the two talking, Torc tried to look like he wasn’t watching them. Thankfully, Glav decided to speak of something else instead of the awkward conversation that had just been going on. Torc walked along wondering where they were going, was it to procure weapons? To get some kind of supply at the last minute? Slowly Torc began to realize from the knights that were hanging about that they were entering something very holy that needed protection.

As Torc saw the tree realization began to dawn on him. This was the Wind Oak, and as Glav described its history, Torc felt the deepest reverence for the tree. Feeling of awe and sadness came to him. Sylir had died for them, and yet what was left of him was locked away. Torc took a breath and stepped forward, with a sense of the divine Torc went down to one knee and touched on of the roots with his right hand.

As Torc place his right hand on the root he realized he had done so to hide his shame of being from two worlds. He lowered his head, part was due to holiness of the tree and part in shame. “My name is Torc Ironwood, and I seek your blessing in reaching Wind Reach.” It was simply said, but as Torc said it, he felt his aura began to spread into the trees. At the words of Torc Ironwood, he felt the memory of the iron leaf he had forged upon his sixteen birthday. Priestess Lara had smiled and hung it within the dining room. She had given him his last name based on the leaf, and in a lot of ways it explained Torc more than anything else. It had been an object created in iron that was suppose to mimic wood, it was strong and yet had depth, it was a symbol of his heritage and imagination.

At the thought of the adventure to Wind Reach, feelings of fear that the tree would judge less of him came to mind. He had been judged all of his life; sometimes in fear for his large muscles, sometimes as a orphan that knew nothing of his father or mother, and sometimes as nothing at all. Yet inside of all the horrible lack of confidence, Torc was sure of his crafting. Tools in hand, he felt like a man with purpose and a place in the world. Crafting iron and stone seemed right to Torc, it was what awoke him in the morning and made him move on.

As Torc looked up at the tree he saw the hints of a face, and slowly Torc felt sad. The feeling of what it must be like alone and trapped without a friend came to Torc from within him. He felt so sorry for the grand tree, sadly Torc sent feelings into the aura about his hand. Deep within the understanding of loneliness came, he sent love and thanks for the tree. He tried to let warmth of his very being suffuse himself and the tree. To Torc it felt like hugging the foot of Priestess Lara, and yet he hugged anyway. The world was filled with too much anger and for one second he wanted the tree to know the God’s sacrifice wasn’t wasted, that though Torc was just simple craftsmen, he tried to live a good life.
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[Act 1 - The Departure] The Blue Horizon & Beyond (Invite)

Postby Ulric on June 24th, 2010, 3:24 am

At the docks, Ulric discovered – to his astonishment – that Glav Navik had chartered a magnificent cromster for the passage to Kalea. He peered at the towering masts and bundled-up sails for several moments, mouth slightly ajar, before approaching the Blue Horizon. A stern, grey-eyed man stopped him at the gangplank, whom Ulric took for the captain.

“My name is Ulric, and I am one of Master Navik’s escorts,” he said, unable to keep the pretension from his voice. Alone, Ulric was little more than chaff upon the wind, but a connection to Glav Navik… well, it was difficult to avoid basking in the penumbra of the priest’s eminence. With a skeptical look, the sailor guided him to the real captain, a man by the name of Finn Hanli, who provided a terse explanation of arrangements on the Blue Horizon.

After stowing his cloak, pack, crossbow, and shield upon the vessel, Ulric wandered the streets, his spine tingling in anticipation of the voyage, before he returned to the temple. Glav – now garbed in distinctly martial raiment – was speaking with a tall, grave-looking Akalak. Don’t do this, the Akalak was saying, and a bunch of other stuff that Ulric didn’t catch. Like the disciple, he seemed to be imploring the priest to stay. It’s probably good advice, Ulric speculated. If he wasn’t mistaken, the priest was planning to get them all killed on some heroic mission. I’m not exactly hero material, now am I? Ugly, blood on my hands, and such. It’s not like I’ve been bred for this, he glanced at Carthin out of the corner of his eye.

Still, at least the bards might sing of me one day, he shrugged.

Then, something interesting happened. The Akalak broke away, leaving Glav… shaken? It wasn’t an auspicious sign, but the priest seemed to pull it together, delivering a few perfunctory remarks before he led them outside the temple. After the short walk to Stormhold, they swept through a maze of dim passages and stairs, past commoners and weary-looking guards, until they emerged into an airy courtyard. The courtyard.

“Oh, shyke, Ulric muttered as he beheld the magnificent Windoak, the fable of many Sylirans and a curse of the Black Sun. It was in this moment that, despite his ignorance, Ulric grasped the mission’s true magnitude. A season ago he might have fled the courtyard for an alehouse, trusting his instinct of self-preservation, and left the others to the perils of the road. But now – now he was a harder man, one who had regarded death without weeping or soiling his trousers and witnessed the results of tragedy. It made him feel alive, in sense, but not at peace. How could there be solace in the face of death and destruction?

“It is tradition, in these parts, to come before the Wind Oak and ask its blessing,” Glav was saying, and Ulric blanched at his words. A blessing… from the slain god of peace? It seemed unthinkable. He was a murderer twice-over, a tormented soul consumed with so much jealousy and hatred that – by the time the flames were reduced to ash – his soul was surely lost. What remained was an embittered shell of a man who neither the person he once was, nor the monster he’d become. “If it remains silent for you,” Glav’s tone was grave, “You will not be joining us on this quest."

Well, that’s it for me, Ulric bit his lip. He was certain the Windoak would see what he’d become, and – if anything – curse him for it. Yet, deep down, maybe he was still a good man – the one who’d dreamed of having a family and teaching his children to fish, just like his father had done with him. Ulric bit deeper, tasting blood. There was something about this courtyard – a quiet solemnity – that seemed to beckon all his repressed memories from their vaults, causing the old pains to resurface. Ashen-faced, Ulric stepped forward.

“Windoak,” he whispered, “I know I have no right to ask a blessing. I was born in Ravok, you see, and there is something about us – a darkness, or perhaps a sheen of duplicity – that permeates even the smallest moments of our lives.” He paused, then, placing a hand upon its trunk, and his thoughts burst forth like water. Windoak, I have slain in cold blood, taking the life of my love, and for what? Because she spurned me? I doubt there’s any redemption for that – save death, which I’m not quite guilt-ridden enough to seek at the moment. Could I devote my life to the sick and elderly, or became an ascetic? Also unlikely. Me, I don’t worship the gods. Gnosis this and curse that, but how am I, a mere mortal, to understand? I am a tool. I am expendable. I… I should probably belong to Rhysol, even though I do not bear his mark. Honestly, I wished this journey for the gold and, well, because no one else wanted me. It’s a terrible thing, futility. No matter what I do, there’s no escaping it. I fish and brood. It’s a shyke life, and always has been.

Windoak, I do not implore your mercy or benevolence. After all, there’s naught I can say to change what you’ve already gleaned from my heart. I make no excuses for my actions. I am responsible, but any shame, regrets, or hopes of repentance that reside within my soul – those I leave for your judgment. I do not beg your forgiveness, however. It would seem calculated and crass, given the circumstances, and I believe it is for others, not you, to grant freely. Rather, I venture your blessing for I would know which path I tread – that of light, or darkness.
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[Act 1 - The Departure] The Blue Horizon & Beyond (Invite)

Postby Carthin on June 24th, 2010, 6:59 am

Carthin looked essentially the same as he had before, save his hair, which was now noticeably disheveled from the essential wrestling-match he’d had with his horse to not only get it to the docks, but load it on a horse. It was unknown if Magnus didn’t like the water, or simply wanted to make things difficult for the boy…

Regardless, the horse was ready, as were his belongings, set neatly in his allotted chest. He’d taken some time to explore the ship, which had been a rather interesting feat of engineering. It was unlike any other watercraft that he’d seen, magnificently cared for and maintained. It seemed as if its creator had taken inspiration from nature itself, using a number of features from fish… the overall effect was a glorious, shimmering beauty of a boat that, no doubt, could out-swim your average fishing rig.

Contented that he was ready and that his belongings were appropriately arranged, the boy had left the boat, and made his way back towards the temple, where he was greeted by quite a sight. The ascetic man that he’d seen not but a few hours ago suddenly seemed… battle-ready. Armor and weaponry- it had never occurred to the boy that a priest might need to defend themselves... though, in a world like this, you were hard pressed to find someone who was truly ‘safe’.

He heard the tail-end of the priest’s conversation, though the man that Glav was speaking with was of greater interest to Carth. A tall, warrior-like Akalak, skin as blue as could be, was arguing with the man. The Akalak… What he’d heard of them was as marvelous as he could have ever wished- extremely disciplined, ornamented, beautiful… It was the sort of thing Carth dreamed of…

Of the entire conversation, one simply phrase seemed to stand out and demand Carthin’s attention. He stood, transfixed.

“But you aren't your father.”

It hadn’t been directed at him… but the power in those words still rang true within him. You aren’t your father…

Rather mysteriously, the man left, abandoning the atmosphere that he’d contributed much to. One could almost cut the air in two with a knife. With Glav, Carth stared after the Akalak, words ringing in his ears…

There was a period of time during which the group walked, Carth remembered that. What he didn’t remember, though, were the specifics of any particular conversation that may or may not have passed during that time. He was in thought- lost somewhere in his own head… Partly thinking of his father, partly of himself, and partly of something else entirely. You’re not your father; you’re not your father- the words seemed to echo off the walls of his skull, bouncing off one another, creating a veritable din within his head. His thoughts were cut off abruptly.

“This, my friends, is the Windoak...”

It occurred to Carth that they had come a long way, and were now deep within Syrilas. They were further than he’d ever have been allowed to go alone- there had been guards proliferating the entrances up until this point. As the man said, this had to be something… special.Leaving behind his own troubles and thoughts, Carth listened to the priest- there would be time for thinking on the boat, no doubt.

What he heard did nothing to sooth Carth’s nerves. If anything, they were now taught enough for a bard to play on them as they would a lyre. This tree… was a god? And they were to ask for a blessing? Without knowing it, the boy held his breath, watching as two of his companions stepped forward and did as they had been bid- they asked for the blessing of the Windoak… the remnants of a god.

Carthin did not step forward. Who was he, a young human who had done no great deeds and achieved nothing… who was he to ask the blessing of anyone? He opened his mouth and turned, worried, towards Glav. Perhaps he could get out of this particular… prerequisite. However, when he turned towards the man, no words came. Taking a breath, the young hero realized that he was light-headed and staggered to keep his balance. There was an uncomfortable pause, and the boy stepped forward.

What was the worst that could happen? The tree would do nothing for him and he’d be left behind. Sure, it’d be embarrassing, but that was just part of the job-description, wasn’t it? Hero- he needed to take risks. That meant failure, rejection, and defeat. He just had to… go through with it.

“Windoak-” Carth said, trying to put his words together in a way that would be appropriate… How do you ask a tree for a blessing? He coughed, and began again.

“Windoak… I, Carthin Debaer, son of Parfeith Debaer,” he took another step forward, feeling the thick, powerful roots of the Windoak practically thrumming beneath the earth he stood on. “humbly request a blessing.” Acting on a sudden feeling, the youth knelt before the trunk of the tree. One knee on the ground, the other held up, he lowered his head. Balancing his right arm across his knee, Carth lowered his head and planted his left fist onto the ground. He waited.

Please, Windoak, please… we need this… I need this.
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[Act 1 - The Departure] The Blue Horizon & Beyond (Invite)

Postby Leo Varniak on June 24th, 2010, 4:39 pm

Leo spent a sizable part of the day taking care of any loose ends left in the city, within the limits of the allotted timeframe. Obviously, the task of maintaining Ivak's presence in Syliras would rest on the shoulders of Terminus and Sondra. Leo made sure they were given the entirety of the Triad's funds for their expenses. As for himself, he would leave with little more than pocket money. He explained his motives briefly and admitted there was no set date for his return. Traveling around Mizahar was dangerous enough that one could rarely afford to make long-term plans. It all depended on what he was about to encounter on the way.

The man was entirely unfamiliar with ships and sea bound travel. Knowing what type of ship they would be sailing on did absolutely nothing for him, but it looked solid enough to withstand the hardships of the journey. He left his baggage with the crew, knowing it would be safe there: there was nothing worth stealing, mostly spare clothing and some art supplies. It was the one concession to leisure Leo had ever allowed himself and it would continue to be so. The only valuable items he owned, he would carry on his person - including a certain leash belonging to a certain goddess.

He showed up at the Temple with the other participants, looking less messy than he'd been that morning, but still humbly dressed to be sure. He was clad in civilian clothes with no armor to weigh him down. He sported a distinct lack of color, with a grayish shirt and brownish trousers with matching old shoes. His hands were in his pockets and he carried himself quietly, staying out of the spotlight. He even avoided approaching Glav to avoid revealing they had a colorful past to say the least. Leo contented himself with waiting on the sidelines and taking a good look at the assembled party and their host. He joined just in time to catch the end of Glav's conversation, which left a nervous taste in his mouth. He had been in the priest's presence enough to know the Akalak was likely someone from the pantheon. Not many besides the gods were aware that Glav Navik was who he was.

What worried the Azenth was the tone of the exchange. It smelled like danger, though it wasn't clear if ahead of them or behind. Maybe both. Out of time. There were many ways one could be out of time. The disappointment on Glav's face spoke more than a long speech, and this did not bode well for the expedition. Still, Leo was not one to get discouraged easily, or at all. His companions were mostly humans it seemed, which was neither good nor bad, though it certainly beat sharing a ship with a Dhani or Symenestra. Having a swordsman or two wouldn't hurt, either, especially with all the difficulties of being a fire Reimancer at sea and on a highly flammable vessel.

He followed the others without uttering a word. Visiting the Windoak made a lot of sense, though Leo suspected it was more to detect any agents of the evil gods than to receive a fortune cookie from the tree. This was his first time entering the 
Sanctum of the Knights, and it looked impressive enough, though Leo remained critical of what he perceived as soft methods and mediocre leadership. When finally admitted into the courtyard, he gazed upon the huge oak with the acute awareness that he was in the presence of Glav's father, or what was left of him. This visit meant more to the priest than most people would ever guess.

His companions addressed the Windoak in turn. Leo read all sorts of conflicting emotions on their faces, apprehension and self doubt and deep anticipation. Each was baring a soul for the tree to see and judge. Wasn't it what Leo did, too? Judge. Although, if they'd told him one year earlier that he'd be requesting a tree's blessing he might as well have laughed. It had been a long year. Leo's constant fevers had somewhat waned as he grew to understand the nature of his ties to Ivak. It was as if all the heat in him was no longer randomly burning and making him wish to destroy anything he considered evil and unjust. While his core still burned, there was a growing sense of purpose to the flame.

When his turn came, Leo stepped forward quietly and without making a fuss, unassuming but unbowed. He had been told to do justice to the divine blood than ran in his veins, and had taken that advice to heart. He looked up at the tree and spoke simply but with the his usual frankness. "I am Leo Varniak of the Zaital line, Windoak," he said, words coming out clear and unfettered. "I am not a man of peace, probably not one of civilization, either. Still, you can see who I am and what I stand for. I request your blessing for the hard times to come." Of which, Leo was confident, there would be plenty.
 
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[Act 1 - The Departure] The Blue Horizon & Beyond (Invite)

Postby Jackson LaCroix on June 24th, 2010, 8:06 pm

The day had begun to stretch out it's light into infinite colors that drained through stained glass to reach the meek floor below. The glow was ruddy and captured the room between a dawn and the flock of sparkling candles. Jackson seemed to be chewing on something that passed into a hovering smile. He returned the favor of breathe with a grating of words which drew slowly like a ritualistic blade.

"I'm a warrior Glav, who seeks to exchange risking my skill for insight into a question. My respect for your reputed wisdom equals the price I am willing to pay, if a man's life is enough of a surrender."

His fingers folded over the opposite arm.

"The name is a translated gladiator's title, born from a Suvan style of unarmed combat and made strong by the now departed." With a tilt, the man's head turned down to gaze at the priest's ledger.

"Should I be considered we can feed curiosity in due time. Is the quest for knowledge worthy of your cause or should I expand my vocabulary further?"

The tendons in his upper limbs tensed and released subtly, but he was easily set to test them.


- Later that day... subject to confirmation

With his back to a pillar, golden hair fell upon features of aesthetic reserve. The tension of smooth bone was clutched by a tether of feral skin that held within their rapture moist orbs of emerald. Unshaven, his lips were inlined by stubble while scratches ran like whispers healed into the arrogance of brazen offense. He stood at the brink of cover, listening to the freshly equipped priest while observing the assembled figures who would be joining the enterprise.

When it was his turn to leave Jackson walked with the pack, providing distance and reciprocity. He said nothing but made eye contact with a knight who nearly stepped into his path. The stairs to the courtyard held friction; an unearthly current of impalpable energy that gave way to the spectrum of a full and enormous oak tree. The mere sight of it let alone the proximity made him shiver subtly and when LaCroix reopened his eyes Glav was bowing before it's heavy boughs. Finding the bosom of Syliras standing so vulnerable and within reach would require care, even from a man who would not brandish his emotions openly.. if he had any at all.
Jackson broke through the line and approached the tree. Walking closer the overwhelming weight of electricity seemed to crackle along his skin with active intensity. Touching his tongue to the crest of his palette, the man whispered quietly with greater tangibility then intended.

"Creature.. my spoken name is meaningless. I was told to ask for your blessing, but if in your design I call you to forge my spirit sharp enough to cut through those who would oppose my will and the lives of those under my protection. I seek knowledge of a dead god." He paused to swallow for it was not the Oak's creator. "Ruros.. Branded by ink depicting his wake I am hammered by forces outside understanding into a living weapon yet I know not from what beginning nor to which driven end. My path is strewn with bodies and conflict. Challenge is the only burden that drives me to completion. I crave to vanquish and feast upon the lasting kill. Now as a beast of battle, the warhorse can still carry amnesty to it's end."

Asking a fragment to the god of peace about ancient history and destiny would perhaps draw a particular result if any at all, but the compulsion was naked and would not back away from his resolve. He stood ready, unknowing of what to expect but apt to meet it's outcome without proclivity.
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[Act 1 - The Departure] The Blue Horizon & Beyond (Invite)

Postby Sharn on June 28th, 2010, 12:36 pm

OOCSorry for taking so long. Been a bit busy and I simply couldn't think of something to write
Sharn never left the temple or the temple vicinity. From the moment that Glav had accepted the Jamoura man's assistance on the journey, Sharn had remained outside. For a few hours, the Jamoura and Torc had been conversing. Not too much was said, yet Sharn felt an odd, yet very powerful, connection with the muscular man. He felt that he was a friend, someone he only just met, but for a long time knew personally. It was foolish to think such things, but he couldn't help it, it just happened to be that way.

After Torc left to load his belongings onto the ship, Sharn remained behind at the courtyard, a book of blank pages rested undisturbed in his hand. The Jamoura wanted to write, he wanted to jot down notes on Torc or the description of Glav and about what little he knew of the mission. He wanted to write a story about the group that he didn't know and about the skills they possessed, but it would not happen. Something had changed, something felt different inside the large creature. He could not write, not at that moment. His mind wandered, hurling question after question at itself as if it would just come to him, all questions answered, and he would be at peace again, but the truth was, he was anxious. There were so many presences he had met, the old priest, the temple itself, Torc, and a few others, so many mixed feelings, so many things he wanted to ask and know about, and so much that would remain how it was, unknown. Sharn couldn't help but sit there, as still as a statue, holding the book open to the first page, void of words.

It wasn't until some several hours later that the people, those accepted by the man known as Glav, began to return, which broke his little hypnotized state. He watched for a moment, then stalked back inside to regroup with Glav once again, and finally to start this journey of theirs.

Or not...

Sharn found himself frozen once again as he listened shamelessly to the argument. The Akalak man, nearly as tall as Sharn himself, debated heavily with Glav, which worried the passive Jamoura. Was this going to lead to violence? A change of heart in the old man? Perhaps it was a foreshadow of trouble. Whatever it meant, if anything, Sharn did not particularly enjoy. He was already scared of the idea of being on a boat (more so going overboard), but with this little extra dose of excitement, Sharn's imagination began to soar, touching and caressing just about every ill-idea that seemed possible, no matter how improbable, and forming one great nightmare.

For the most part, the entire group was completely silent as they followed the old priest through the maze-like corridors. Perhaps for different reasons the rest of them didn't speak, but Sharn couldn't get the image out of his head, the Akalak, Glav, their words, a presence of fear, danger, it all lingered there in his mind, all the way up to when Glav began to speak again about the Windoak. Sharn was certain this time that he would be expelled from the group. Sharn was not a religious being, nor did he either understand it or know how to even perform the motions. This was the reason that Sharn waited for almost everyone else to take their time with the tree first, he watched them, what did they do.

Some of them spoke out loud in whispers to the tree, he couldn't pick up their words, but assumed they were quite sacred and meant only for the Windoak anyway. Each of them asking for a blessing, surely Sharn could do that right?Sharn wasn't so sure, this felt so bizarre to begin with, and as he slowly approached the tree with caution, as if from its base a snake would jump out and swallow him whole, until he was only mere inches from the tree itself. Should he touch it? Probably not, this was the remains of a god. It would probably feel defiled or disrespected if he did. Sharn closed his eyes and lowered his head, mimicking the motion that many of the others performed, and rather than asking out loud, he only thought, pleading with the Windoak through the words in his head, hoping that it was strong enough to read his mind. 'Forgive me for never introducing myself earlier. I am Sharn. I am not sure as to what I am doing, whether it is correct or not, but I ask that you would look past my ignorance and touch me with your blessings, please help me to understand. If any of my past lives were worthy of receiving such a blessing, I pray you would take pity upon the way I am now, my ignorance, and help me understand who I was, who I now am, and what I am to become. If there is sympathy in you, I ask that you would bless them all as well, Glav trusts them to assist him, and I've trusted his judgement, but above all, he trusts you. All I can do now is trust the same.'

Sharn's eyes slowly opened as he stared at the tree's base, he wanted to place his large palm against it, to feel it, to connect with it. Perhaps he imagined it simply because he had such a strong desire to feel it, but he could have sworn for just a moment, he understood. He would need to ask Glav many questions, assuming they didn't part ways. Slowly, Sharn peeled his gaze from the tree and back to the group, they were probably waiting for him, thus he returned to them quickly, hoping they weren't too impatient. "Apologies friends."
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