Closed Not All Is Gold That Glitters

A wild chase of pretty stones. (Izu pls)

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The Diamond of Kalea is located on Kalea's extreme west coast and called as such because its completely made of a crystalline substance called Skyglass. Home of the Alvina of the Stars, cultural mecca of knowledge seekers, and rife with Ethaefal, this remote city shimmers with its own unique light.

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Not All Is Gold That Glitters

Postby Estrellir Konrath on September 4th, 2016, 11:13 am

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OOCApologies for the delay! Work is keeping me busy.


Estrellir sighed. At least they weren’t in danger if they stuck around the area. No Shinya were in sight, but just the knowledge of being within the city they were responsible for helped. Lhavit was lucky, citizens trusted the guard because it worked for all of them. No factions, no divide between castes.

The Konti watched, hands in pockets, as her companion prepared for the water. When Izuyanai waded in, she wondered why she was hesitating. Built on top of a giant swamp, Kenash had been wet through and through, a water city divided by canals, connected by bridges. She was used to being around water, both as a Konti and a Kenashian. Compared to the murky depths of the Gyvaka, lakes and mountain streams in the Unforgiving provided much clearer and fresher liquid. Perhaps she had gotten used to living on rocky dry ground… a little too much.

When the other woman looked back, however, she threw the towel. Rolling up her pants and sleeves, discarding cloak and boots, she took a step into the water and shivered. The vibrant green of her skin accentuated patches of scales as well as webbing between her fingers and toes. For spring, the sun shone bright and warm, yet the water was barely above freezing.

With a faint smile – the tug of running water on skin, how long had it been? – Estrellir waded in after Izuyanai. Her webbed feet had better grip and after a moment of adjustment, she plodded through the shallow water easily. It tickled against her scales, cold cold, but also refreshing.

Izuyanai stopped and picked something up. It shone from afar, coming closer, Estrellir got a glimpse of pink veins in the stone. “Pretty,” she commented and scanned the riverbed more intently, spurred on by the first find. Soon her toes slid down a steep slope, however, she had reached the deep end. The water was lapping at her pants, so she rolled them up higher, tighter. “This looks like a treasure trove. I wonder if it’s warm enough to swim?”

Then again, she was feeling dangerously bold today. With a grin she shrugged out of her blouse and tossed it at her companion, leaving an almost transparent undershirt. Another breath, then duck. The water was icy, but after a few strokes, her body relaxed, gills flapped. It felt thrilling to move her limbs, stretch muscles and push deeper. Her eyes scanned the ground, the shadows between pebbles and underwater weeds. Tiny silver fish darted out of her way. They glittered, and then there was something else.

Stretching out her hands, she noticed her green skin looked almost translucent underwater. Fingers parted the sea of green to reveal a slightly darker stone, round and polished, that reflected the murky sunlight in places. She wedged it between her belt and pants, then continued towards the opposite bank.
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Not All Is Gold That Glitters

Postby Izuyanai on September 9th, 2016, 1:12 pm

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"Swim?"

Izuyanai barely had time to question Estrellir before a jumbled up blouse was tossed in her direction. Her hand shot out instinctively and snatched the top from right above the water, fingers curling around the fabric as she yanked it upwards away from watery ruin.

Recovering from the sudden reaction, Izuyanai watched Estrellir's natural movements as she swam about with fluid strokes. It was clear that she was just as comfortable in the water as she was on land. Feeling rather left behind on the shallow end of the river, Izuyanai watched as her companion hunted through the water. It was a shame that she herself had never learned to swim. Now that there might be an answer where she could not reach, it was more frustrating than ever to be left in the dark.

On the other hand, Izuyanai had the skies. The land-bound Kelvic waded back toward the side of the river from which they had come and shook out the blouse in her hands, managing an acceptable fold. She placed the article of clothing on a dry rock on top of her own cloak, which she unpinned from around her shoulders. The rest of Izuyanai’s dress soon followed, and the cold air hit her for only a moment before she was secure in warm feathers. Black feathers. Preened and glossy under the spring sun.

Izuyanai kicked off from the rocky landscape and easily floated into the air above the river, watching the shards of sun dancing off of even the smallest waves. Alighting on a suitable spot on the other bank, the raven cocked her head and eyed her companion curiously, wondering if she had discovered anything interesting.

She would know sooner if she paid the right kind of attention. At times, auras revealed more than any verbal back and forth. Izuyanai focused on the large sentient aura wavering underwater and let her attention flit through the physical and into emotional responses. The sound of rushing water bleeding through from her focus mingled with the actual music of the river and left the raven with a refreshed feeling. No doubt this was something trying to convey the experience of being submerged under water. Otherwise, the raven settled down, sifting through sparks of activity, and looking for any surprise or revelation that might have something to do with a new discovery. She let out a soft croak, testing out her voice and listening to it shift through the air around her.

OOCSorry it's not too lengthy. Let's see if Estrellir can put two and two together.
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Not All Is Gold That Glitters

Postby Estrellir Konrath on September 10th, 2016, 5:46 pm

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As soon as she was in the water, Estrellir forgot all about her earlier doubts. It was her element, she was fish (in part, at least) and it felt good. Underwater, she still felt the chill, but never shivered, one of many advantages.

And the water was crystal clear, unlike the murky and often stale swamp water. In the swamp you had to make an effort, find a spot where swimming wouldn’t harm your skin, but mountain streams were beautifully clean and fresh. She kicked up some sand and pebbles just for the sake of it, leaving behind a silvery cloud. The small basin wasn’t that big, so the Konti reached the other bank soon. Heading upstream, she scanned the deepest point just before the ground sloped upwards. There she found another shimmering stone, this one pale with dark veins. When she turned it around in her hand, a dark spot was revealed. She tucked it into the other side of her belt. A grin ghosted over her features, happiness of a child or a bird after discovering modest treasure.

Although she went up and down the bank another time, no more extraordinary stones were revealed. After a deep breath (taste of leafy algae, stone and sunny water) she kicked upwards and broke the surface with a magnificent splash. Slicking her hair back, Estrellir looked around only to realize that her companion had disappeared from sight.

“Izuyanai?” she called breathlessly, her tongue stumbling a bit over the exotic name. Swimming back towards the spot where she’d gone in, she couldn’t find any sign of the other woman. No hints where she might’ve gone. Her blouse was lying on a big boulder, folded neatly. Had she gotten impatient and left? Had she changed her mind and wandered upstream after all?

Moving around had shifted the stones in her belt a little, if she stayed in the water any longer, they’d fall out and be lost among countless ordinary pebbles. (Oh, how she hated those!) The air was chilly too, so Estrellir headed back towards the bank to wrap herself in dry clothes. Once out of the water, she wrung out her hair and squeezed water out of her pants, then put on the blouse and snuggled into her cloak. Sitting down on the boulder, she took out the stones to admire their shininess.

Suddenly a bird cawed. A large black one apparently, sitting in a tree on the other side. Too big and magnificent for a crow, it had to be a raven. Estrellir cocked her head and held out the stones. “You like shiny things too, don’t you? Guess I’m lucky today, those are beautiful. But so are you, by the way. I wonder if you’re my good luck charm?”
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Not All Is Gold That Glitters

Postby Izuyanai on September 12th, 2016, 2:58 pm

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For a time, Izuyanai kept up her connection of Auristics. She traced her companion's aura through the river's current and noted the contented impressions she was receiving. However, when Estrellir emerged from the water without any shock of revelation coursing through her aura, she dampened the flow of magic and let it fall away. It seemed that nothing of extreme interest was down in the depths.

Estrellir looked about, searching in vain for her supposedly human companion, before swimming back to the opposite bank and settling down on a rock. It was only when Izuyanai called that she look up to meet her gaze. Her voice carried over the din of the river as she held out her own new treasures, allowing the raven to examine them from afar.

Izuyanai cooed in both affirmation and appreciation at her companion's words. The right kind of flattery went a long way with most people, and to the proud raven, it was no different. Extending her wings to their fullest, Izuyanai glided down from the tree, narrowly missing the clear waters but swerving upwards at the last minute to come to rest next to Estrellir on the boulder.

Her own gems had been left in the pockets of her discarded clothing, and so she leaned forward to examine Estrellir's find. It was apparent that each of the stones were slightly different and the fact that they were found this far upstream meant the source was further. Shrugging her feathery shoulders, Izuyanai looked at the currently green skinned Konti, her eyes glittering with amusement. She gave an almost amicable croak as she considered what they should do next.

Lack of speech was a slight inconvenience, as other creatures couldn't understand the subtleties of bird language. It would be helpful to be able to mimic certain words. Izuyanai knew that some of her kin did so impressively. If she could learn better control, perhaps communication would be less of a problem.

The raven would change back, but she was interested to know if Estrellir had the knowledge needed to catch onto the strange switch. From there they could go on exploring or head back if the properties of the stone were unclear.
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Not All Is Gold That Glitters

Postby Estrellir Konrath on September 16th, 2016, 10:28 am

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Estrellir watched as the raven glided through the air to land next to her on the stone. It looked beautiful and graceful without even trying, through sheer inherent ability. True, Konti could swim almost from birth, but they were nothing compared to seals or sharks. Both aquatic and humanoid, they didn’t quite belong into the water.

The bird eyed the stones with interest, so Estrellir held them out and rolled them around in her hands. Some parts shone in the sunlight, she hoped that sharp beak wouldn’t try and snatch that treasure from her. As they observed the stones, the Konti noticed that they looked different than most river stones and drew her own conclusions. However, neither she nor Izuyanai seemed equipped for an expedition into the mountain wilderness. Her find felt satisfying and the swim had been refreshing, but apparently the trip ended here. While contemplating, Estrellir began to shake a little. Despite her dry cloak and boots, the wind carried a chill and didn’t allow her to warm up properly.

The raven croaked softly, Estrellir regarded it with a surprised look. Izuyanai hadn’t reappeared yet, but slowly, she began to remember certain curious features about her companion. Her easy grace on rocky terrain, her agility and quiet concentration on her surroundings.

And then she remembered Kaitanu. A scrawny man, but also a horse. This raven reminded her a lot of Izuyanai, down to the color of its feathers. Besides, what kind of raven was that trusting of strangers? And the glint in its eyes, as if it was grinning at her… “Izuyanai?” she tried, immediately feeling foolish for talking to a bird. Then again, she was always talking to her cats. “I knew someone who was both human and animal before. Are you the same? A Kelvic?”

The name, yes. Kelvics looked human, but they could shift between that and one animal form. Kaitanu had been a horse Kelvic and because of that, a valuable slave. Lhavit didn’t believe in slavery, so it was only natural for Kelvics to live there freely, as residents. Estrellir simply hadn’t been required to connect the dots before. “Being a raven must be incredibly useful. You could work as a courier or even a spy. Nobody would suspect an animal right away. You’d be all but invisible at night.”
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Not All Is Gold That Glitters

Postby Izuyanai on September 20th, 2016, 10:56 am

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Though Estrellir's surprise would have earned her a chuckle from Izuyanai, it quickly became apparent that the facts and implications were all connecting for the Konti. When she tentatively referred to her by name, Izuyanai supposed the game was up. However, her fake disappearance had revealed a lot about her companion. Not only was Estrellir vigilant enough to string together her suspicions, from the sound of it, she personally knew of another Kelvic. That was presumably why she was so flexible in her reasoning.

Izuyanai gave it a small thought and assumed her human form. It was as familiar as breathing. There was no pain and no unsightly disfigurement. Just the usual swirl of firefly lights and a switch to another form.

Letting the transformation answer Estrellir's pressing question, Izuyanai pulled over her clothes and dressed to ward off the brusque wind.

She flashed a sly smile and replied, “I suppose it is useful, though apparently there was no fooling you. I’m glad you were able to pick up on it. As for being the same, from what I know, Kelvics differ from one another. Even family aren’t guaranteed to shift identically.”

Indeed, the Kelvic factor in her family had emerged rather randomly. Quite a shock for her family when their eldest was born, and another unwelcome surprise when their youngest first shifted. They had already broken Wind Reach customs with the marriage, and now two of their children were not at all Inartan. At least fingers knew where to point when asked for the oddities in the bunch.

Getting up and brushing the fine wrinkles out of her shirt, Izuyanai gave Estrellir a curious look.

“You said you met another Kelvic. Did you meet them in your travels? What animal form did they take?”

So far in Lhavit, Izuyanai had not run into any other Kelvics. They should not have be so difficult to spot, as her kin had a tendency toward the attention seeking. Whether it was a noticeable lack of clothing or animalistic mannerisms, a good look would give the knowledgable a tip in the right direction. However, it was true that the fact would remain unconfirmed until the Kelvic were actually witnessed in their shifting. Estrellir’s previous run-ins were none of her concern but it still might be useful to know how other Kelvic fared in the world.
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Not All Is Gold That Glitters

Postby Estrellir Konrath on September 20th, 2016, 10:17 pm

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Estrellir blinked as light flashed, similar to what she’d witnessed years ago, yet different. Then she got a glimpse of her companion’s slender form and black hair. “I knew it, but still, it’s quite impressive! Nice to know you haven’t run off too.”

While the Kelvic got dressed, the Konti slipped the precious stones into an inner pocket and ruffled her hair, drying it faster. Despite the cold that had bitten into her skin and wasn’t fought off, despite the hunger gnawing at her stomach, she was still fascinated by those words. “Seems awfully random. A mouse could give birth to a lion, no? I wonder if there is some reason to it after all. Surely nature can’t be that… capricious.”

Then again, it wasn’t her cup of tea. An interesting experiment of thought, nothing more. Something for smoking. Because she was still cold, Estrellir got up and started pacing between Izuyanai and the stream, rubbing her arms. Moving brought some warmth back into her limbs, but she still didn’t feel particularly comfortable. In those mountains, if you’d been cold once, it seemed impossible to warm up again. She wanted a nice hot fire and thick soup… but being outside, she endured.

And thought about how to explain her familiarity with Kelvics. She’d known many, of course, used in a variety of ways, but always collared, bound, chained. Even Izuyanai, she could already tell the raven liked her freedom and would hate a cage. No doubt she’d been born free as the wind, but Kaitanu hadn’t known anything else. For the first time, Estrellir could see the difference and wondered.

She phrased her words carefully. “No, I met a few Kelvics before. They aren’t uncommon, where I’m from, but I never had much contact with them. The one I mentioned earlier, I saw him shift once. Perhaps that is why you couldn’t fool me long. He was a horse, beautiful white.” She tried to imagine how Kaitanu was faring back in Kenash, but failed. If he knew what was good for him, he tried to do well under his current master. She’d promised him protection. Still…

Sentimental wasn’t part of her emotional repertoire though. Shaking the thoughts from her head, Estrellir shoved her hands into cloak pockets and cocked her head at Izuyanai. “What about you, are there other Kelvics in your family? Also, would you mind heading back with me? It’s getting cold, this climate isn’t what I’m used to.” Her body needed to adjust. How, she had no clue. But she wanted to talk with Izuyanai some more, learn all she could.
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Not All Is Gold That Glitters

Postby Izuyanai on September 21st, 2016, 9:47 am

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Izuyanai shrugged. She didn’t know the mystery rule to the assignment of Kelvics. It was questionable if there even was one.

“I thought nature was always, what did you call it? Capricious,” The raven had never stopped to consider the lawful pattern that nature followed. Now that she did, it was true that there was a sort of guideline that was obeyed most of the time. Seasons changed accordingly, giving the watchtowers their colors. A human and a human would produce another human. Though in her case, the laws had seemingly been shattered. However, it was not strange that a Kelvic and a Kelvic would produce another Kelvic, regardless of what said child shifted into. The offspring would still be a Kelvic.

Giving up on trying to wrap her mind around what Estrellir was theorising, Izuyanai watched as her companion got up restlessly and started pacing about. Truthfully, she didn’t look all that well, anymore. It was difficult to tell with her current skin tone, but it seemed she had lost a bit of color in her lips and cheek. Admittedly, the weather was not kind enough this time of the year. Especially, to someone who had just taken a thorough dive into the cool river.

When she spoke again, Estrellir seemed almost wary. She looked thoughtful before sharing her encounters out loud and Izuyanai wondered if the matter was something personal. People in general wished to hide vulnerable information. Since the two were just recently acquainted, the Kelvic could not blame the other for their caution.

“A white horse…” Izuyanai murmured thoughtfully, “Where did you say you were from? I imagine with that many Kelvics running about, it would make for an…interesting place. I’d like to get to know another Kelvic someday. There are no other Kelvics in my family, you see. I’ve only seen one other Kelvic family, and it’s doubtful you could call them close family.”

What Estrellir should have asked was ‘were there’ instead of ‘are there’. The only person alive that fit the category now was Izuyanai herself. It wasn’t lying. It was the truth, though presumably not what the Konti had meant when she phrased the question. Since her companion couldn’t have known, the Kelvic hopped off from her seat on the boulder and nodded.

“Of course, we can head back. I’m not the one who dove into the river, anyways,” she chirped, perhaps a little too cheerfully.

Reaching into her vest, Izuyanai brought out her own find and held it in the light, trying to determine what had caused their sudden appearance.

“Still a mystery, hmm?” she asked with a complacent smile. “At least we have some trinkets to show for it.”

They hadn’t managed to uncover the source, whatever it was, but Izuyanai was satisfied as some part of her possessively acknowledged the gain from the day’s trip.
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Not All Is Gold That Glitters

Postby Estrellir Konrath on October 3rd, 2016, 8:41 pm

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Estrellir cocked her head, agreeing, but also disagreeing. Of course, storms could hit out of the blue, plagues could spread without prior warning, people could die mysteriously. Sometimes there was an answer if you dug long enough, sometimes there wasn’t. However, by and large, nature functioned on certain laws that became apparent to the attentive observer. When ice melted in spring, rivers swelled. If you sprinkled salt on a field, nothing would grow. There was a capricious element to the weather, among other aspects, yes. Sometimes Estrellir liked to imagine that they just hadn’t found all the answers yet.

When she spoke of Kaitanu and the other Kelvic slaves, she eyed Izuyanai carefully. Their conversations had showed that the raven was perceptive as well as intelligent. If she asked any more questions, Estrellir would have to dance around the topic or lie to her face. They didn’t know each other well, so she should be able to pull it off. Still, she’d rather avoid it.

But Izuyanai asked, and the Konti realized that she had to tell. At least part of the truth, not for her own sake or their relationship, but for the Kelvic’s safety. Estrellir was many things, just not cruel. She wouldn’t send a curious and clever creature into slavery (with no personal gain, nonetheless). “Kenash,” she offered eventually. “I would warn you against visiting though. Kelvics aren’t treated well. Not well at all.”

How had she introduced herself? It didn’t matter, as long as she hadn’t let slip what her surname meant within Kenash. How the Konraths belonged to the ruling caste, among those who enslaved and then used Kelvics for manual labor. Stronger than ever, Estrellir felt it was an unnatural and unhealthy practice. Every cage, though gilded, was still a cage. The empire of the Dynasties was built on violence and oppression, not the best idea.

Kelvics should be like Izuyanai. As soon as Estrellir had the means to change something, she would. For the time being, however, she was just one Konti, far from home and shivering a little. She followed the Kelvic readily and eyed her find with mild interest. “I guess feathers make you somewhat immune against the cold,” she mused idly. “Do you feel it? I mean, do some of your animal properties carry over to your human form? Or is it strictly one or the other?” Of course, Kelvic slaves were used according to their species, but the big ones were often collared in human form. Shifting was controlled, knowledge contained.

She didn’t bring out her own twin stones when Izuyanai did, merely slipped a hand into her pocket to touch them. Cold, probably dormant. “We have indeed, and if you tell the story well, nobody will notice that it has no ending.” With a little grin, she followed the Kelvic back towards Lhavit. Towards lanterns against the beginning dusk, and warm fires.


OOCThis might be a good moment to wrap up? Can't think of anything else to do.
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Not All Is Gold That Glitters

Postby Izuyanai on October 14th, 2016, 12:54 pm

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“Kenash?” Izuyanai replied, trying to remember whether or not she had ever heard of the city. It was certainly nowhere in Kalea, as she knew most of the settlements in the region. She found it strange to be told that her race would be outright unsafe in a place. The most she ever received were looks of bewilderment and sometimes interest. However, she could guess. Usefulness might not always translate into the best of social standings.

“You saying that almost makes me even more curious,” Izuyanai said, half concealing a sly smile behind her hand. “But I understand. I’ll take your warning to heart. And I have to thank you for letting me know. In fact, I’m surprised you don’t feel the same way as the people there. Or maybe it is that you do?”

Izuyanai strolled along the bank back toward the distant city and shrugged her shoulders. “I’m not sure it makes much of a difference in my human form, but it’s a little warmer with feathers. I’d need an outside perspective, but I’m not sure how accurately it would convey someone else’s experiences. For example, I can’t imagine how cold it must be after that dip.”

The Kelvic and the Conti neared the tiers of Lhavit’s peaks, stepping in among the crafted Skyglass buildings. Pocketing her own find, Izuyanai inclined her head briefly to Estrellir and wandered back toward the towers.
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