Solo [North Ravok Outpost] Just Passing By

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A city floating in the center of a lake, Ravok is a place of dark beauty, romance and culture. Behind it all though is the presence of Rhysol, God of Evil and Betrayal. The city is controlled by The Black Sun, a religious organization devoted to Rhysol. [Lore]

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[North Ravok Outpost] Just Passing By

Postby Evarista on November 29th, 2016, 4:16 pm

50th of Autumn, 516 A.V.
This is ridiculous.

Evarista couldn't think about her situation in any other way. Grimacing to herself in the darkness, she edged along the narrow alley between the fort wall and the back of the stone embassy. Sneaking around these unfamiliar crevices at night wasn't her idea of vacation, but it was the lesser evil.

She was here at the Northern Outpost as a part of her father's entourage for his business visit. Her presence wasn't actually needed. If anything, it was unnecessary. Sitanos probably just wanted to make her travel and experience the world outside of her room. That was fine and well, but Olcott, the chief of staff at the estate, had called her shortly before departure and given her a "top secret" assignment to draw a map of the outpost in its current condition. He also told her to watch for any "good spots" and mark them on the map. Good spots for what exactly?

Gritting her teeth silently, the girl clutched the empty piece of parchment that she was supposed to turn into a map. The outpost's layout wasn't particularly complex, but for someone with no sense of direction like Evarista, putting it on paper was a serious challenge. This was her second round walking the wall's inside perimeter and she still couldn't tell what shape the outpost had. It would be convenient if she could morph into a bird and survey the outpost from above, but she had no practice with anything like that.

Reaching the main gate, the hapless cartographer came to a halt and looked around restlessly. Even though she's been exploring the outpost for quite a bit tonight, she was too unsure to start drawing any of it, and she was losing her patience. The idea of touring these gloomy premises a third time was utterly uninviting.

Ah, screw it.

Mustering her memory to the best of her ability, Evarista raised one of her knees to form a makeshift table and began drawing. The dim light of the lantern hanging from a pole nearby was enough to see the uneven line she was tracing with her piece of charcoal. In the end, most of the charcoal ended up on her own fingers rather than on the paper, but eventually a somewhat wavy rhomboid shape took form. This was the approximate shape of the walls. It was actually so approximate that she wouldn't bet a single copper on it. Olcott really didn't choose the best agent for this, but she was doing her best, so that was his own problem.

She was about to the mark the location of the gate, but paused just before the charcoal touched the parchment. Most of the outpost was completely submerged in darkness during the night, and standing in this isolated pool of light made her feel exposed. Very unpleasantly so. Shivering in discomfort, the girl took a few steps back until she was standing in the alley behind the embassy again. Did anyone see her? Approaching footsteps confirmed her worries, and she froze anxiously as a watchman walked across the exact same spot where she stood just a moment ago.

His simple garb, lack of insignia and bored expression hinted that he was an Apprentice. She imagined that anyone with decent connections in Ravok wouldn't want to be stationed out in the middle of nowhere, so this lad probably wasn't the sharpest blade in the Ebonstryfe. Even so, he had clearly noticed her before, looking around in mild confusion. He wouldn't be able to see her from where he stood, but just a few steps in her direction and they'd practically bump foreheads. The girl felt her back moisten with sweat.

Uh, wait a moment. Why was she even hiding? It wasn't like she was doing anything illegal. Or was she? Maybe drawing maps of the outpost would be seen as a security risk or something. And as to why she was doing it in the middle of the night, well, that was just because she was tired during the day and reversed her sleep schedule. Having to explain all of this to the guard was not an enjoyable prospect, however, and she would look extremely suspicious even though she was harmless in reality. Damn it. Always drawing the social short straw!

Holding her breath, she pressed herself against the wall and waited for the watchman to leave. He would leave eventually, wouldn't he?
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Evarista
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[North Ravok Outpost] Just Passing By

Postby Evarista on December 11th, 2016, 8:27 pm

Whatever the case, there was no reason to stick around here. As soon as the watchman turned his back, Evarista edged away through the alley, the way she came from, until the gate was no longer visible. The guard didn't come rushing after her, so she seemed to have evaded notice this time. A wave of relief washed over her. She had already been mentally preparing for a very awkward exchange, and escaping it seemed like a real blessing.

Still, this map needed to be drawn. Getting her references the easy way, just by walking around, was obviously not going to cut it. Sighing softly in resignation, the girl stroked the coarse wall next to her to get a feel for the surface. The densely arranged wooden logs would be next to impossible to climb using human extremities, but that wasn't an obstacle for Evarista. Placing her hand in a small dent between two logs, she let her fingertips stretch into chitinous claws, sharp and thin enough to slip into the crack and give her enough leverage to climb with.

This was her traditional method that was yet to let her down. Even though the construction here was rather different from what she was used to in the city, her old tricks worked just as well. Careful not to trap her hands in the woodwork, she made her way up the back of the embassy's wall blindly. It was utterly dark, and while she could feel her way forward well enough, not being able to see what she was doing was a big strain on her nerves.

Straining her eyes, she brought out another clandestine weapon – her Auristics. A sharp gaze through the veil of mundane darkness showed her the once-living fibers of the wood, their thin aural print congealed into a cold fossil. Fascinating, but uninteresting. This view was even more misleading: it showed her a sheer surface, not revealing the physical contours and curves of the logs. Closing her eyes, the disappointed climber powered down her magic in irritation. This was not the proper use of this power; at least not with her modest ability.

Evarista almost came to peace with going on blind when another idea struck her. Earlier this season, she had already learned that she didn't need her eyes to see. Such a narrow-minded approach closed so many doors. Humans really did rely too much on eyesight. No, echolocation wouldn't do her much good here, as it was useless for details. But the concept of using other senses as a surrogate for sight was still brilliant. There was no need to think too much: she would simply do as spiders did.

Flexing her lower jaw to bring some blood into the muscles, she let it split into a set of soft mandibles, stretching out towards the surface in front of her. The sensitive tips followed the curves of the woodwork delicately, painting her a picture without colors. Pulling her claw out of its resting place, she stuck it where the mandible reading told her, expecting another crevice. The sharp chitin slid between the logs flawlessly. There was a sense of achievement.

Eager to exploit this handy discovery, Evarista resumed her climb, scouting ahead with her soft sensors before applying her claws exactly where they should go to give her leverage. No more awkward scratching around for nooks and crannies; with this, she could know the layout of the wall as if it was broad daylight. It was seeing without sight. It felt somewhat strange, but the true catharsis came not from making the climb easier, but from the realization that she had surmounted another human shortcoming.
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[North Ravok Outpost] Just Passing By

Postby Evarista on December 11th, 2016, 9:49 pm

The roof of the embassy was also completely dark, and this was fortunate. If it weren't for that, Evarista would have been in clear view of the watchmen patrolling the wall around the fort. Even though she felt very exposed, she didn't need to fear discovery as long as she kept her silhouette low. Most of the roof structures around the settlement were not lit, which turned out to be quite the security risk. Although, to be fair, the security measures around here were probably not designed with spider morphers in mind.

Deeming herself safe from unwelcome gazes, Evarista stifled a grunt as she tried to move her way up the sloping roof. Countless splinters dug into her clothes and scratched her exposed legs. Maybe doing this sort of thing in a skirt was a bad idea. Her newly discovered sensor tactic allowed her to find imperfections to grab onto, so that she could drag herself to the ridge without tumbling down and breaking her neck. Sloped rooves were truly the invention of an evil architect god somewhere. No, not Rhysol, of course. He'd never do such a thing to his loyal followers.

Wheezing through her teeth in annoyance, Evarista finally swung her leg over the ridge and nestled herself semi-comfortably to the wooden structure, trying to avoid showing her silhouette against the sky. Yeah, the difficult part of climbing wasn't the climbing itself. With some dirty tricks and biological cheating, even an amateur could scale most surfaces. The hallmark of a good climber, however, was the scaling of those surfaces without stressing half the joints, cramping half the muscles, and covering one's entire garb in splinters. That was a feat of finesse Evarista still had some trouble with. Ah, well. It wasn't like she had to launder her own clothes, anyway. A problem delegated was a problem solved, right?

Smirking to herself, the disheveled cartographer took a sweeping glance across the compound. The clusters of black shapes around her represented the modest collection of buildings, surrounded by a well-lit wooden wall, thick enough to have a walkway. Although the moving lights along the walls showed that the patrols there were fully staffed, there was next to no light or movement on the ground. It spoke plainly about how sparsely populated the outpost still was at this point. The only three lanterns were strategically spread out: one outside of the inn, one at the dock, and one at the gate, where she had foolishly stumbled out a while before. That one watchman was gone from there, clearly not bothered enough to make a fuss about what little he saw.

Her vantage point wasn't a bird's view, but it was much better than standing on the ground. She could actually tell the shape of the walls properly now, and had a good viev of where the buildings were placed relative to each other. Yes, this was definitely enough to make a decent map. The only problem was... she couldn't see what she was drawing. She knew herself well enough to understand that climbing down, finding light and then trying to draw from memory would only result in disaster. She had to do it while she had the reference right in front of her.

Hugging the ridge with her thighs, the girl rested the battered piece of parchment against the least uneven part of the roof she could find, and checked it against the distant light sources around the outpost, trying to discern the lines on the paper. Nope. Absolutely impossible. Surrogate vision wouldn't do here, either. Except... hmm.

She had hopes for her Auristics. Leaning so close to the paper that her nose was almost pressing against it, she brought its aura into focus. No, wait. Not the paper. The charcoal. That's right! That was the key. Licking her dry lips in concentration, she squinted at the murky square in her hand, seeking the aural traces of coal on it. She had quite a bit of experience with the auristics of inanimate objects, and already knew how to separate the wheat from the chaff when studying this kind of detail. She didn't care about the abstract colors that an aura showed at first glance; she wanted the difference in internal structure. The charcoal versus the paper: they actually had two different auras.

It didn't work at first. Evarista began sweating with impatience after the fourth failed attempt to separate the intricately conflated signatures. What a stupid situation to be in, she thought. Stuck on a windy roof, at night, trying to do an aural reading of some charcoal smudge. Damn it. Gritting her teeth and ignoring the sweat pouring down her brow, she somehow forced herself to focus again. It took a breath a fifth attempt, straining her eyes until they hurt. There. A fuzzy, uneven polygon took form. It was her sketch of the wall perimeter from earlier. Great. That's all she needed.

The inelegant spy stifled a hoarse giggle as she pulled the remaining piece of charcoal from her skirt pocket. Finally, she could get this thing done, get down from this stupid position, and go get some sleep.
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[North Ravok Outpost] Just Passing By

Postby Evarista on December 12th, 2016, 8:27 am

Squeezing the charcoal with her clammy hand to avoid dropping it, she brought it to the parchment, briefly lifting her eyes to glance at the scenery for reference. That tiny distraction was enough. The coal slipped out of her sweaty hand like a piece of soap. Her breath caught in her throat as the escaping object struck the wood with a hollow twang, time after time until it disappeared off the corner of the roof.

Evarista's heart batted violently, riveting her to the roof as she listened for a reaction. The ticks passed one after another, pouring as slowly as honey as if to stress her on purpose. Nothing. No one noticed. The sound seemed loud to her from where she was, but she was clearly the only one to even hear it. That was a relief. What a dangerous slip-up. This nonsensical "mission" was one thing, but imagining herself doing any serious intelligence gathering in an environment of potentially hostile people... it wouldn't end well. In the end, she was just a clumsy, silk-wearing, alcohol-loving rich kid. Nothing more and nothing less. It would be best to not forget that.

Now that the immediate shock has passed and her poor heart calmed down somewhat, the girl moved on to face her next problem: she had nothing to draw with. Once more, climbing down and drawing from memory was out of the question. Something had to be improvised on the spot. There was still some coal left on her fingers, but it was not enough to finish the map with, and she carried nothing else that could be used instead. The hapless cartographer looked around herself helplessly, as if there could be another piece of charcoal conveniently lying about on the roof. Of course, there wasn't. Evarista barely suppressed a wild howl of frustration.

The situation seemed hopeless, but the young Morpher has already learned where the panic button is: when in doubt, use silk. Extending a spinneret out of her mouth, she customized it with a small tuft of hair, forming a makeshift brush. Without spinning the silk into fibers, she instead let the gluey dope soak through the brush before carefully tracing the aura of the charcoal smudge on the paper. Juggling two magics at once was an intense task, but having gone through all this trouble only to return home empty-handed would make her feel even angrier, so she was determined to get this done.

Raising her head from the paper, she inspected her work, and couldn't help but smirk wryly in satisfaction. She could finally relax her eyes, vividly seeing the auristic trail of her organic paint with nearly no effort. After all the study she's done on it, the aura of silk was very familiar to her. Looking for solutions within her own body proved to be the best choice once again. Although she couldn't confirm it right now, she was fairly sure that the trail of "paint" she left on the paper was invisible to the naked eye, but with just the slightest application of auristics, the pattern of the wall took form. Maybe this could even be used a secret way to send messages or make notes.

The serendipitous discovery put her in a good mood, and she continued drawing the map vigorously, holding the parchment firmly with both hands and often glancing up at the murky scenery for reference. Clusters of squares sprung up inside the walls, representing buildings, with a small "E" marking the embassy where she was, "X" marking watchtowers, "B" for barracks, "T" for the inn, and "M" for the general vendor building that she knew was sponsored by the family. That should be all the good spots. Having noted the pattern of torches floating around the night, she even added some dotted lines to mark the major patrol routes. A true accomplishment of spycraft! She still idly wondered why Olcott would actually need any of this, but that question was not hers to answer.

Blowing on the parchment lightly to make the dope dry faster, she rolled it into a tube and secured it in her pocket. The sense of triumph mitigated the pain in her joints as she awkwardly slid down the slanted roof and gingerly climbed down into the alley where she came from. Getting back inside of the embassy itself, where her temporary lodgings were, proved to be blissfully uneventful as well. Jumping out of her wrinkled and splinter-covered clothes, she dove under the covers and let out a heavy sigh of relief, quickly drifting off to sleep while holding her strange creation close.
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Evarista
Whose eyes are those eyes?
 
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[North Ravok Outpost] Just Passing By

Postby Rufio on February 4th, 2017, 4:58 pm

Image
g r a d e


xp

Observation +2
Cartography +2
Drawing +2
Stealth +1
Climbing +3
Auristics +2
Morphing +2
Endurance +1
Intelligence +1



lores

Ravok: North Ravok Outpost
North Ravok Outpost: Sparsely guarded
Cartography: Requires patience & good memory
Drawing: Rhomboid
Auristics: Wood aura resembles fossil
Morphing: Using spider senses to see
Climbing rough terrain in a skirt is a bad idea
A problem delegated is a problem solved
When in doubt, use silk
Juggling two magics at once
Secret ink: Silk
Cartography: Marking main features
Cartography: Mapping North Ravok Outpost


rewards
+ Simple map of North Ravok Outpost (with main routes of guard patrols)


  
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