The Penitent's Price

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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.

The Penitent's Price

Postby Elias Caldera on February 20th, 2016, 10:29 pm

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1st Day of Winter, 515 AV

He could feel it in the air.

Something apart from the wretched cold and sweet stink of burning meat.

Something just… off.

He hated not knowing what it was that stirred his nerves so, and it showed. Hell, it showed in every single one of others too.

Some of them sat, some of them stood or paced, but all of them were on edge. Their muscles tensed, coiled, and ready to spring as if on the verge of rushing into battle. There was no enemy here left to fight though, no mission to undertake. The only thing that should have been calling to them at that bell was the desire for a wretched night’s rest after an equally wretched days’ worth of hard riding, yet still that didn’t seem to dissuade the unease that had built up around the camp.

Elias could see them all bristling in one way or another as the campfire flung shadows across their skin, their veins pulsing angrily beneath beds of pale skin and tanned hides. It was all the aurist seemed to notice these days among his ‘comrades,’ even despite the dark and threatening night’s sky.

A roaring fire separated each man only by the warmth he was willing to surrender to keep his distance from the others. The small wooden teepee that surrounded it had become blackened and charred by now, the kindling furling and turning to ash as the flames spat angry sparks in its climatic moments of life. He could scarce hear its crackling as his fists tightened, each hand ever so slowly falling to place just above where his daggers rested, ready to be readied within an instant.

None of them would hesitate to do the same to the mage if he gave them a chance or a reason. None of them would even bat an eyelash. There were no brothers there that night, and nothing, not the fire they shared nor the god they served could bring them together as anything other than unwelcome strangers forced upon the same unwelcome task. Though while no bond of blood may have held them together, they had shed more than their fair share over these past few months. Most of that blood however, had been their own.

They had started with thirteen.

There were only seven of them left now.

"Why should you get the last piece?" One of the other assassins roared from across the way. Tonic they called him. He wore a simple and unassuming tunic with matching breeches and hooded cloak. Elias recalled the man had an uncanny ability to blend in to any scene he could slither his way into, something belied by his boisterous attitude when the young fool riled himself up. That felt like every night nowadays. The fatigue was getting to all of them, and it showed differently for each man.

"Because I'm the one who petching caught the thing!" Corgan screamed back, his muddied irises blazing. A big man with an even bigger personality. Elias remembered him mostly for his eyes, like two dark and smoldering coals. The kind of eyes that burned into you when you stared too long.

Tonic was having none of it.

"Without me you'd be starving, you useless vagik!

"Why you son of a bitch..." Tonic began, face tortured into a mask of ever mounting rage and hunger. Elias was about to toss a dagger in between the two of them as a signal for one of the obnoxiously loud petchers to pick it up and just get their damn bickering over with already. The mage was halfway through drawing the blade when the feeling of something creeping up behind him froze his hand.

Mr. Caldera.

The sound of his name caught him unexpectedly and the Ravokian couldn’t help but jump a little in response. Slowly, angrily, the young man turned around from his seat on the log and faced the one who had uttered it.

Malachai…

The tall and miserable older Drykas stood watching him from the shadows, his head shaven into an unkempt topknot and his left eye covered by an old leathery patch. His one, cold, calculating onyx orb bore into Elias as the two locked gazes. Malchai was probably the only one among this motley crew of degenerates who could hold claim to any kind of legitimate authority. It was probably why the voider led them, though Elias had yet to even learn what the one eyed wizard’s official rank within the order was, or if he even had one for that matter.

At the time the young Caldera couldn’t have cared less who was holding his leash. So fresh out of the dungeons was he that his handlers could have very well pointed to a toad upon the lakeshore and bid him follow its orders to the death, and being the broken thing that Elias was, the mage would have gladly hopped along to his new lord’s slimy will, if only he believed his unquestioning obedience would allow him even the slightest chance at an opportunity to regain the trust of those he so desperately craved. A whole season of fighting and traveling had buried that mewling mentality very quickly however. His opinion of Malachai on the other hand, hadn’t waned at all during that time. The man had more than earned his place as the leader of this troupe after what terrible toils he’d seen them all through. It was one of the very few things the company of rejects and renegades could actually agree upon, which was saying something when almost every other day a new fight threatened to break out among the wary survivors.

That didn’t mean they had to like it though, and that definitely didn’t mean they had to like the man himself either.

"Why do you keep doing that?” Elias sneered bitterly. “You know everyone hates it when you do that." The bastard must have understood as much. It was impossible not to, yet he seemed utterly incapable of missing out on any opportunity to sneak up and scare the living daylights out of his rag tag crew of soldiers. A very stupid and dangerous habit to have around so many agitated murderers and cutthroats, but that fact had never stopped him before. Many of group, the reimancer himself included, were beginning to suspect Malach -as he hated to be called- took some kind of sick pleasure from the fright his sudden and all together unwelcome introductions often caused his men.

"I ought to gut you from dick to dome, whoreson!" The hollering on the other side of the campfire was reaching new heights, but Elias ignored the brawl forming between the two killers, focusing fully instead on the one eyed commander. Something told him he’d want to be paying attention for the bad news about to come his way.
Last edited by Elias Caldera on February 25th, 2018, 2:05 am, edited 4 times in total.
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With Friends Like These

Postby Elias Caldera on February 20th, 2016, 10:30 pm

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What do you mean this is the last of it!” He hissed, squeezing the vial in his hands. He realized what he was doing and hastily put a stop to his foolishness, shifting uncomfortably instead to cradle the engraved little bottle and its rapturous liquid contents as a mother would her babe. Malachai sneered down at him in something one could describe as disgust. Elias didn’t care, the man didn’t understand. None of them could. He needed it. He tried to convey as much anyhow, but the words came out crazed and desperate, even to the one saying them. “I need it!

What you need,” snapped the one eyed man “is to get over your pathetic addiction.” Elias recoiled, anger burgeoning behind his cold glare. “The powers to be only gave me so much for your recovery, you should have known your supply would run out one day.

But not so soon-

“It’s been months, Mr. Caldera! Months, and I no longer have the time nor the tolerance to humor your weakness any longer. I need you ready, or I need you out of the way.

The rage was nearly overwhelming, stymied only by the nagging edge of curiosity Malach’s words had cut into him. “Ready?” There was a pause. “You’ve found the next piece!” His words were less a question than they were an accusation. Finally, the mage beamed, after so long meandering about he’d thought they’d never get another hit on the damned things. Now they could get back underway. The commander however, looked less than enthused. “Two, actually.

The flickering firelight caught in the Ravokian’s widening eyes.

In two weeks’ time we’ll be in Nyka. I intend to send you after one of them.

Elias clenched his fist around the flask of vision water again despite his earlier self-served admonishment. He couldn’t help it this time. They were about to be two pieces closer to brining this crusade to an end. Two pieces closer to going home. His eyes fell to the miniscule bottle in his grasp, blue orbs delving deep into the crisp, clear waters held within the frail glass. In all the excitement he was already picturing himself downing it all right then and there. Rhysol knew how much he wanted nothing more than just that, but he restrained himself with a willpower only shame could empower him with. He didn’t want Malach to see him give in like a petty child tempted by sweets. That, and after so long enjoying the vision water’s embrace over the past few seasons, he’d learned that in order to fully appreciate its euphoric delight one needed to enjoy it slowly, delicately, not all at once like some pint of kelp beer swill.

Two more pieces closer, he told himself again, then returned his attention to the looming cyclops. Even Malach, the grave and brooding bastard that he was, wanted to go home, and two more pieces of the whole only served to bring that dream closer to reality. Why then did he look even more grim than usual? “Good, I’m ready. Who’s to come with me this time?

You’re going on your own.” Ah, Elias mused unhappily, that was why. The revelation was quite unpleasant to say the least, and the Caldera hesitated for a moment. The void lord hadn’t failed to notice. “I think you put too much stock in me, master Malachai.” The man, expectantly, wrinkled his nose at the distasteful and uncommon use of decorum the lesser mage had employed. “Do I now? Are we to continue pretending that I am woefully unaware of what you are capable of, hypnotist? Or do you prefer aurist? Reimancer then, you’ve never been shy to show off that talent. Perhaps Glypher, shieldsman, fluxer… voider?” The leathery skinned warrior had made his point. Elias was indeed a mage who knew a thing or two, fine, but mage’s were entitled to their secrets, even if it was just the charade of having them. Why he had believed he actually had any left from Ravok and her keepers though, was truly a mystery to a fool who still thought himself his own man, and not just a tool in another’s arsenal.

If you’re worried I’m aiming for your spot as the groups go to man for voids, then I assure you…” Malach raised an impertinent and impatient hand that begrudgingly silenced his younger counterpart. “What I’m worried about, Mr. Caldera, is returning to Ravok having failed the paramount task assigned to me.” An intense eye mercifully flew from Elias and to the still squabbling group on the other side of the fire. “What I’m worried about is the fact that after losing half my squad and falling weeks behind schedule, I’ve only managed to retrieve three of the pieces. Three!” His tone was as harsh as it was gravelly and course. It was obvious the man was struggling to keep his voice low enough to not be overheard while also make clarion his urgency. Elias visibly shrunk back at the fierceness of it. Not because he was unaccustomed to being shouted at -hell, years in the Ebonstryfe as an initiate had trained him to be uncomfortable without someone yelling in his ear. No, what truly bothered the young warrior was the way the man seemed so distraught by the number. Three had felt like a miracle to the company. Six of their swords had died for that glorious achievement, and the rest had often and nearly followed suit, yet Malach had just made it seem like little more than a pittance.

Thinking back now on what it had taken to get this far, Elias was genuinely growing more and more concerned as his thoughts began to race. How much more was expected of them? How many more were expected to die…
Last edited by Elias Caldera on August 9th, 2016, 12:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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With Friends Like These

Postby Elias Caldera on February 20th, 2016, 10:30 pm

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Zeltiva had been their… inauguration, you could call it. Their first real test in a series of many more to follow. None of them, not even a brazen and explosively eager Elias had been truly prepared for what they’d face within the port city, but they had all thought they were. Whether one measured that as hubris or just hopeless ignorance, it had cost them all the same.

In the beginning, when the ragtag group had first been formed, arrogance and animosity had been their only real adversary. Back then, the only trur struggle was on Malachai’s behalf as the old officer fought to reign in the seething vortex of egos and oddities that made up his unconventional company. Needless to say, it didn’t take long before the glaring issue began to show itself. To his horror, Elias realized too late that he was to be counted among an assembled mob of outcasts and reprobates cobbled together from the dregs of Ravokian society. Men and women of varying ages and backgrounds all begrudgingly united under the common banner of being unfit and ill-equipped for official duty, but deemed worthy enough to at least fight and -if they should be so lucky- die for their god and country.

‘Expendables’ was the word one girl had called them after about two or three days in to their hard march South. If Elias remembered correctly, she had used that lamentably appropriate term the same night she’d tried to make a run for it. She hadn’t made it far before the rest of her disposable comrades hunted her down and fell upon her like wolves. The kill seemed to prove a necessary, if not temporary release for most, Caldera included.

That was their first casualty of the undertaking.

What the miscreants lacked in faith or pliability, they made up for in skill. Many were in fact practitioners of the arcane in one manner or another, and those who weren’t had their own, unique talents to offer as well, not all of which revolved around the blade or the bow. That underlying ability the company had at their disposal at least made them something of a formidable threat, so long as they could be directed at least. They had learned that the hard way after tracking down the first piece of the artifact and found it tightly wrapped in the gnarled and unwavering grip of a foe unwilling, or just incapable of compromise.

No one quite knew what it was exactly they were all hunting for so far away from home. Malachai continued to be obstinate in his vagueness all throughout their travels, no matter the prodding or poking his soldiers forced him to endure. It was only after the battle with the coven of sorcerers whom controlled the first fragment did they realize just how important their task really was. The fierceness they had all bore witness to during the desperate struggle of their enemies to reclaim what was stolen from them had resonated among those who had survived the fight. Three died in Zeltiva, but no one came out of that shyke show unscathed.

That marked the first time Elias laid hands on the artifact. The container it was trapped within looked like any old small and unassuming wooden jewelry box, but even the non-mages among them could feel the sheer power and importance emanating from within. Try as they might, they never managed open it. Shields the likes of which the Caldera had never before seen defied them at every turn, and soon they found themselves more frustrated than joyous with their hard earned victory. There was a sense of something though, underneath the indignation and wariness, a feeling of achievement and even triumph which emboldened the nine to press on. If not for curiosity’s sake, then for their own. None of them were doing this out of the kindness of their hearts after all. At the end of this long tunnel their trials had placed them in was the promise of salvation and forgiveness for whatever crimes had landed them there in the first place. It was a deal no fool or faithful could say no to, least of all Elias.

That simple fact had driven them to the next piece, and eventually found them raiding a Zith hive far to west. Outnumbered by the hundreds and facing a swarm of creatures hell-bent on destroying them, it was an almost surreal surprise then that no one else died that day. One of them, Tonic as it turned out, had admittedly suffered a few injuries during the brutal fray, but as evident by his enraged screaming and flaying over a simple leg of venison, he obviously made it out of those woods no worse for wear.

The company wasn’t so lucky on the third.

The mage shuddered just recalling the excursion against the beast. They had tracked and chased it for weeks, pursuing the faceless creature which held their prize all the way up a great, nameless mountain somewhere near Sunberth. Sometimes the Ravokian still had nightmares about what they cornered in that cave. To this day he still could not understand what it was he had actually seen. What he did understand however, was that it had taken all of them to finally kill it for good, but the price had been two more from their company.

How quickly their numbers had withered away since summer.

No doubt as expected.

Now here Elias was, expected to retrieve the fourth piece by himself. Everything his experience had told him until this point explicitly screamed ‘suicide mission.’ This would be impossible, and so he answered the only way he knew how anymore.

Of course I can do it...
Last edited by Elias Caldera on August 9th, 2016, 1:49 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Elias Caldera
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With Friends Like These

Postby Rufio on February 25th, 2017, 4:34 pm

   

g r a d e



xp

Socialization +1
Interrogation +1
Deduction +1
Rhetoric +2
Endurance +1
Intelligence +1


lores

Elias: Part of the 'Expendables'
Tonic: A stealthy assassin with a boisterous attitude
Corgan: Big man with an even bigger personality & a burning stare
Malachai: One-eyed Drykas mage
Malachai: Compelling leader
Malachai: Enjoys sneaking up on the unwary
Malachai: Fears failing in his task
Interrogation: Asking direct questions
Elias: Addicted to vision water
Endurance: Resisting the vision water
Vision Water: Taking it slowly not all at once
Elias: Seeks salvation & forgiveness
Malachai charges Elias with a dangerous lone mission


  
Rufio
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