Quest [Fall 19 Seasonal Quest] Ripple Me This

Five individuals are brought together for fantastical reasons. What they will encounter will be even more outrageous.

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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]

[Fall 19 Seasonal Quest] Ripple Me This

Postby Hauk Tarn on November 4th, 2019, 9:56 pm

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The reaction from the rest of the group did not surprise him even if he was unprepared for the strength of their conviction. While he did not mean to imply that the Voice or Rhysol were intentionally leading the into a trap, he was worried that who ever was responsible had to have planned for some sort of reaction. As it was, despite the words of Rhoka and the others, his doubt remained. That was of course the voice spoke and answered his trepidation.

Her response made sense to him – that the gods wished to avoid open conflict seems reasonable, and resonated with what little he did know of the divine beings. We was in the middle of processing these thoughts just as the world around him warped and changed, sending his senses into disarray. They were somewhere else. Where, he had no idea, but this was not where they had all been standing.


Sensations rushed over him – he could hear a distant chaos, as if a battle or raid, fear, from what he did not know but he felt the need to run and hide, and the utter awe that was had when the door flew open, upon which a divine being stood. Rhysol. A girl, both unknown but at the same time intimately known. Hauk’s conscious was his own, yet it was not. He felt things as if he were the child, saw the world as she did, and experienced the peace that she did when Rhysol embraced her. Almost as if that moment had never happened, in a blink of an eye, they were back at the temple.


Disturbed and shaken, Haul attempted to regain his bearing, disoriented as he was. He did not know what had just happened but that was unmistakenly Rhysol, a piece of the Voice’s distant past. The world continued to tilt around him. As if sensing his masters plight, Fen looked up at the hunter and nuzzled his masters hand, the warm comfortable feeling of fens coat helping to ground Hauk back to this reality. Just as he was settling in, a cool voice was hear, it was only a whisper, yet even standing as he was behind the pews he still heard it as load as crashing waves. A man was there, where none had been before. As tall and pale as a ray of moon light, with jet black hair that seemed to drink in the light. The very being that they had seen in the vision now stood before them. Rhysol. God of Chaos.


Hauk froze. Rhysol was simultaneously as imposing a figure that Hauk had ever seen, yet he mingled with the group as if he were no more than one of their own. Despite this, their was a distinctive air of the divine about him – Hauk could the hairs on his arms stand. Even Fen, normally as energetic and fearless as he was seemed to shrink slightly at the presence of the god, his tail tucked behind him.

Rhysol spoke to them all, addressing all their concerns. His voice was strong, and Hauk found himself being put at ease despite his original trepidations. Not even the god knew what had caused the activation, and regarded the group as his emissaries, trusting the mortals with this mission. Hauk had no more questions to ask, merely nodded when they were given the instruction to return here the very next day, prepared for the journey ahead.

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The floating city loomed ahead as the ship that ferried passengers to and from the lakeshore neard its destination. Hauk had gone back to his camp the day before, packed and stored all his belongings, breaking camp, for he did not know how long he would be gone. Luckily for him he had been on the road a good long while, and was prepared for these sorts of journeys. It was tense, going through the gate house on the lake shore. Normally they would not let any one pass so well armed, however without questions asked or answered, the guards let Hauk and Fen pass though.


And he was well armed, and well prepared, having on him most all of what he owned. He had on his leather jerkin, above which he wore his full set of leather armor. On his belt hung his sword, daggers, and quiver full of arrows, his bow he carried in hand. A horn was also strapped to his belt, his hunting knife strapped around a leg, and on his back he carried his pack, which stored the rest of his items; lantern, bedroll, all the provisions that the hunter used on the daily, and he even managed to store his tent. It was bulky to be sure, but the hunter knew to be ready for anything.

He had taken the first ferry out in the early morning. Syna herself could not yet be seen over the horizon, even as her light began to show. The hours were long on board, but it was still early morning when they had arrived. As before, Hauk was able to move unmolested through the city as he made his way towards the temple, even if he drew the gawking stares of the citizens and suspicious glares from the guards. Having had to make the journey back from the lake shore, he was among the latest to arrive, given by all those that had already assembled.


Some provisions had already been laid out for them, for which Hauk was glad. He took one of the furs placed it hung it across his pack, covering the top half. It was sure to come in handy in the northern territory. He also made sure to fill in any gaps in his own provisions. Rhoka it seemed, had also prepared a gift for them all, a tooth, hung by a simple cord. Hauk accepted it graciously. Instead of wearing it around his kneck, he instead wrapped it around his wrist, nodding at her in thanks. The Voice has asked if there were any other thoughts or details, which Hauk did, but he decided to wait until after they were all their and the explanation of the portal, for he wanted to have a plan on how they would proceed into the portal.

Gear worn and in the pack :
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Hauk Tarn
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Joined roleplay: September 30th, 2018, 5:15 pm
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[Fall 19 Seasonal Quest] Ripple Me This

Postby Orias on November 5th, 2019, 2:19 am

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Orias listened further as the Voice regarded what each had said. With his brow furrowed in thought and body still hunched forward with eager attentiveness, he focused on her description of the shrine's location, doing his best to imagine what a place like that might be like and what he might need to take with him to such a place.

And then she went on to further assure those present that the endeavour she asked of them would, indeed, not be a trap. The repercussions of angering - let alone fooling - a god such as Rhysol were meant to be enough to dissuade any from attempting such a feat.. and gods causing conflict amongst themselves in this mortal plane was something they tended to avoid.

At the mention of Caiyha, the Goddess of Nature, Orias found himself sitting up a tad straighter. He knew little of the Gods outside of Rhysol, so the mention of another - by name - piqued his interest. His head tilted but he said nothing as he continued to soak up all the white-eyed beauty before them spoke of.

But then something different happened.

Suddenly, without any notice, the scenery around him shifted, the temple melting away to be replaced with a small, dark, stone-walled room, barely visible by flickering candle-light. The sounds that accompanied it sent a shiver down the sailor's spine. Shouts, blood-curling screams of dying men and women, the banging on walls and doors. And then, refocusing, he realised he was seeing things from her eyes and a sudden, overwhelming feeling of helplessness and fear took him.

But then the noises ceased.

It was all so familiar.. it took him a moment to realise he was seeing - no, experiencing - the Voice's story in real time. It was all so surreal; Orias' jet eyes shifted to and fro, scanning the scene before him before they searched fruitlessly for his previous surroundings. Until..

Rhysol.

Bathed in black flames with pupiless white eyes, there was something so eerily beautiful about the human form of the God of Chaos and Evil. Orias found himself unable to look away, drawn in to this scene, this sight of the god his city so revered.

The embrace that followed hit the sailor so hard, breathing ragged from the powerful effect this simple action had on him. The trust, the security that came in that moment.

In a blink, he was back in the temple and he released a shaky breath, body slowly slumping with the motion as he rubbed his thighs. His eyes once more swept over the neighbouring pews, looking for any evidence on the faces of those around him that he had not just hallucinated - that they, too, might have just experienced something akin to what he had just felt and seen. But then something demanded his attention and his eyes fixed on the new form on the room.

Rhysol... in the flesh.

He sucked in a breath but then dared not exhale, watching silently as Rhysol straightened himself from where He had been behind Rohka. As much as Orias wanted to look at the sybil, he could not tear his gaze away from the god - all dark and pale and terrifyingly handsome. The words that followed, the explanation and clarification the God offered, were nearly lost on the sailor as he watched, transfixed, and half-stunned to be in the presence of both at once.

You will have my thanks and all that comes with such a thing.

The God's words echoed in his mind and he slid off his chair in that moment, the rest of what was said filling him with warmth as he lowered to a knee, head bowed in veneration.

"My Lord." There was more he should say, more that he wanted to say but the words got tangled and lost somewhere between his mind and his mouth and he remained there, awkwardly silent with reddening cheeks. He knew not how to handle this situation - never thinking he'd ever be in this situation - but he knew in his heart of hearts he would do anything to fulfil this task set before him - before them.

The others spoke and the blond slowly lifted his head and fumbled back into his seat, accidentally knocking his bag of belongings in the process. His dark gaze wandered as he listened to what was discussed, the questions all valid and far more astute than anything he had considered... making him feel all the more out of his depth. Sevris, with his words of commitment and sacrifice; Rohka, ever thinking ahead and planning for the future.

However, he did have one question... and his jet black eyes wandered towards the back where Caspian had been. The tanned man had spoken of Taldera - had admitted he hailed from that region - and, being that Orias knew nothing of the place, he had had every intention of asking the other man about it. And yet the spy was nowhere to be seen. Looking around the sprawling interior of the dark temple, he eventually caught sight of the spy's back.. just as he was making a hasty exit. The sailor's lips drew into a tight line before he sent another quick glance towards the divine pair standing at the front of the group, bowed his head once more in reverence, and made his own exit.
_______________


The buzz of the tavern was tangible yet, thankfully, the attention that had been directed at him had long since died as the bell grew later and later. Orias had not been in the mood to discuss what had transpired between himself and the group of motley individuals - all connected by that one important element - in the temple earlier that day and had managed to dodge questions with poor evasive manoeuvres, deflections and - when all else failed - booze. He, himself, had managed to avoid drinking much, mind too preoccupied with thoughts of what he and the others might face tomorrow, yet he had succeeded in keeping a glass in his hand to serve more as a prop than an actual vessel.

Nursing it now, his dark hues watched the form of his captain as he mentally prepared what he had to tell him. He knew he would be putting Cyrel in a tough position; on one hand, he'd be leaving his captain a man down for the foreseeable future until he could return from his quest to the shrine.. on the other, his captain would not be able to argue as it was mandated by the divines. He was not looking forward to this conversation, but he knew it had to happen.

He rose suddenly, chair knocking back loudly enough to stop Lon mid-joke as the brunette and the rest of the sailors present sent their gazes in the blond's direction. Orias merely tapped his fingers twice on the tabletop before stepping away, steps drawing him towards the burly figure of Captain Tlezzano.

"Captain.. if I may."

Cyrel paused and looked up from his conversation with his first mate, regarding the sailor quietly before he straightened and motioned for Gerion to vacate his seat. Once the first mate had done so, the captain instructed Orias to seat himself with a wave of that same hand.

"So.. I see you have returned in one piece."

Orias nodded after settling into the chair and toyed with the warm glass in his hand.. "Yes.. I.. I will need to be away again tomorrow." Glancing up, he noted the look in Cyrel's dark eyes, that twitch of irritation. "The Voice has a task that I must do for Her. I am not sure how long I will be away." He knew it was not what the captain wanted to hear and the man's face said as much.

Silence hung for a moment before the man stroked his cropped beard. His eyes wandered and Orias could tell he was likely weighing his words and took a quick sip from his glass.

"I suppose if the Voice asks then you cannot say no. You are free to go."

Orias nodded and began to get to his feet before a hand caught his wrist. He paused, just out of the chair.

"You will tell me, in detail, what all is requested of you."

Orias hesitated, eyes flickering about the man's strong face and angled nose. If the man before him were Yorrin then the sailor wouldn't have hesitated to divulge everything that had happened, to have sought him out for counsel. Yet Cyrel was not Yorrin and Orias had never been particularly close to his new captain, even when the distance between their ranks was not so dizzyingly vast. It was in that instant that a deep ache filled him, feeling keenly the loss of his lone true confidant. How he wished Yorrin was still around - he could have used his ear and input.

However, such was not the case and Orias hardened his gaze as a muscle along the blond's jaw slid and shifted before he moved to resist his captain's grasp, yanking his arm away and back to his side. Righting himself fully, he tried to hold the man's equally dark gaze as he offered little apart from a gruff, "It is not for me to share." Then, with less visible confidence, "I do hope you could respect the wishes of the Voice."

He must have sounded convincing enough because Cyrel pressed no further and only sent cold daggers in his direction as he turned and began to make his exit. He was exhausted from the days events, the information that had been processed and the oppressive unknown that still weighed him down.

An arm shot out before him, blocking his route, causing him to stop abruptly and he heaved a heavy sigh as Sethra's body slowly eased its way over to replace the arm, her back straight and shoulders back, chin lifted in the arrogant way of hers. Their faces were so close that Orias could feel the warmth of her breath, her skin.

"What was that about?"

He knew she was doing this on purpose - the proximity, the way in which she subtly brushed against him - and he turned his head away, not hiding the fact that he was not in the mood for all this posturing. His frustrations bled into his brusque words, "Nothing. I just told him I had to be away again tomorrow."

Sethra perked a clean, dark brow as she leaned more into the wall, bringing her face closer to his ear. "More time with the Voice?"

Orias shot her a cautionary look and it only made a cat-like grin blossom on her lips.

"You know he doesn't care about you. That there is no loyalty there... He'll replace you if you are gone a day longer than promised. He's probably already speaking with men from others crews." Her attention moved to her hand as she nonchalantly examined her blunt nails but he could sense she was seeking a rise from him.

"I don't care." He lifted his own chin now, his dark eyes boring into her pale ones. "I'll find another crew if need be."

She moved that hand in one swift, solid motion and pressed her palm to his chest to further impede his movements, her head canting to one side while she took her time looking him up and down. Eventually, she spoke, low and smooth, "You know I will look after you. We are the same. Yorrin saw it; Yorrin picked us... not him." Her looked softened some yet still felt sharp as glass, her hand sliding upwards to his bicep. "You can trust me."

And then, the inevitable.

"How did the day go?"

Orias heaved another sigh and he rolled his shoulder in a bid to shake her hand away, "I'm tired.. I appreciate the sentiment but I need to prepare for tomorrow. I'll have a better story for you once this is all over."

She stepped back and attempted a smile, watching as he downed the old, warm contents of his drink with a grimace before he pushed past and made his exit.

He eventually made it back to his room, to his things, the many new things he had bought after he had left the temple. Bits and pieces he had never thought to own now lay strewn about his neatly made bed, the half-full bottle of whisky that he had procured from a crewmate winking at him from his bedside table. Quirking his lips, he spun open the lid of his new flask and filled it before drowning the last that remained in the bottle to try and calm his nerves.
_______________


The morning came and Orias diligently and meticulously packed all his items away in his pack as he had done the day previously, adding the new items bodily when required. He then fixed a few items - like the new roll of rope he picked up - to the pack before dressing himself in his new, thicker and warmer slate wool tunic and natural light gray and fawn wool trousers. The shop keepers he had pestered had informed him that Taldera was a land of ice and snow so he had purchased items fitting for such a climate, using their advise to aid him. He tugged his coat on and eventually made his way back to the temple.

He arrived as the others hand and saw each had taken the time to prepare themselves. His eyes couldn't help drift towards the furs that Caspian wore, his eyes lingering a bit longer than necessary on his face and the golden trim around his eyes. But then Rohka - ever one step ahead - made her offer and he smiled at the thoughtful gesture, briefly distracted before he watched the dark-clad man approach the sybil.

He watched as the pair regarded each other with warm familiarity - along with Shiress, gathering a few here knew each other relatively well outside of this new connection they shared. The sailor hesitated and swept his gaze across the room to survey the rest present. Sevris the Lazarin looked well prepared and bristled with weapons -- but as did the sybil. He shook his head with a grin before he stepped forward to accept his talisman.

He overheard Caspian's jest and found himself truly considering this to be true but said nothing, only offering a warm smile of gratitude and thanks. These gestures and reverence to their shared God had led to the sailor developing a deep sense of respect for the sybil despite knowing so little of her outside of what was shared the day before. He offered a simple yet amiable, "thank you" as he bobbed his head, making sure to thread his rings onto the cord before securing it around his neck.

Hollis' words took him off guard and that same unsure smile spread wide across his lips. He did his best to play it off with a clumsy, close-mouthed laugh and a too quiet, "of course" as he took the offered talisman and then did his best to thread it into her hair. It was too soft, moving like silk in his fingertips, and he found himself floundering and fumbling, brows drawing together in concentration as he felt a pull to do as he was asked and he did his best to loop her hair through the clasp before attempting once more. Finally securing it as best he could, he sucked in a breath, catching the scent of the perfume in her hair before he stepped back and offered another smile.

"It's a nice touch," he offered to Hollis, two fingers sliding down the length of the cord before freeing themselves of her tresses, his gaze then moving towards the furs on offer, picking one up before handing it to her, "you might need this, too. I heard it gets bitter cold where we are going." He then grabbed one for himself, rolling it up as Caspian spoke to the Voice.

For a moment, the sailor wondered if he should not ask something similar. But had Sethra not made it clear that their captain considered him replaceable? No - it was these seven with him that he would pledge his loyalty to; there was no need to make amends elsewhere. With that, he turned his gaze back to Hollis as his fingers made quick work of the binding which held the scabbard of his dagger to his belt. Freeing it, he offered it to her with a slightly more confident - albeit lopsided - grin. "If you feel you need it, of course."

With that, he turned his full attention onto the pupiless, bone-white eyes of the Voice and placed a hand over his heart, "I am ready as well."

Receipt :
Coarse-wool tunic, dyed 7sm 5cm
Coarse-wool trousers 8sm
Coarse-wool scarf, dyed 1sm 5cm
Coarse-wool socks (stockings) 4sm
Fur-lined leather gloves 6gm
Rope, hemp (50ft) 1gm
Flask, 8oz 8sm
½ Bottle of whisky (not aged)* 6gm
TOTAL 15gm 9sm
Items carried :
On his person:
    Leather bracers
    Dagger
    Crossbow
    Quiver w/ 20 bolts
In his pack:
    Spare white shirt
    Gloves
    Knit cap
    Scarf
    Leather armor
    Soap
    Brush
    Razor
    Flint & steel
    Rope, 50ft
    Waterskin
    Rations
    Eating knife
    8oz flask
Further details found on his CS
OOCMirroring Shire.. Thanks for the delay and for your patience!
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Orias
seas of change
 
Posts: 33
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Joined roleplay: July 16th, 2018, 2:00 am
Location: Ravok
Race: Human
Character sheet
Plotnotes

[Fall 19 Seasonal Quest] Ripple Me This

Postby Gillar on November 11th, 2019, 6:37 am

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Before the group took their leave, Rhysol and The Voice allowed for a few final questions. With so much happening so fast, it was inevitable that there would be some things needing to be addressed. Not all of those present had any further questions, at least not at that moment. Those that did offered a rather unique line of questioning that, to herself, The Voice admitted were somewhat unexpected.

Sevris, with a bit of humility in his posture and words directed to Rhysol, garnered the god’s attention. Rhysol turned to the man and said, “Unfortunately, the concept of the Caretakers, as they were, is essentially dead. They were created many centuries ago by none other than my current voice.” Rhysol gestured fondly to the woman standing next to him.

“At that time, she saw my faithful as being disorganized, unstructured and lacking in many ways. She proposed a way of offering them more direct guidance and direction which would in turn allow me to increase my influence through them.” Rhysol smiled at The Voice and continued. “To accomplish this, she revealed the location of a rare pool of wild djed; a form of magical energy that has no real form, purpose or control. Fortunately, she has a unique ability to control such things.”

Rhysol laid a hand on The Voice’s shoulder. “She manipulated the djed within the pool and gave it form. This form however was still quite fluid and lacked a solid shape yet offered a perfect foundation. With a bit of divine touch, I granted the newly created form, sentience.” Rhysol began to move about the room as he spoke.

“The creation of life is, for most gods, something of a roll of the dice. This new life, although sentient, still did not possess the ability to take a solid form which obviously limited its usefulness for the task in mind. In order to address that problem, I gathered twelve of my most devoted followers and brought them to the pool. One by one, they entered the pool and one by one, they emerged forever bonded with the newly created life; they emerged as Caretakers. The Caretakers were a combination of magic and divine influence held together by their faith. The pool of djed that they were born was completely depleted in the process. As it was unique, one-of-a-kind, the process used to create the Caretakers cannot be repeated. The essence that exists within each of you is in no way strong enough to accomplish such a recreation."


As Sevris accepted the answer, Rhysol looked to Rohka who offered her own question. It was a question that brought him some obvious pause; his face offering a mixed visage of slight surprise and…a tinge of sadness.

In a soft voice, Rhysol spoke carefully with measured words. “The Valterrian. You ask a question that I admit, is unexpected. Until now, I have never been asked that question by a mortal. Mortals tend to have their own preconceptions of what the Valterrian was; ideas and stories passed down for the past few centuries. Like any story, after so long, details get left out, truth fades and the tellers of the story inject their own concepts into it.”

Rhysol stopped and sat one of the pews. “The Valterrian destroyed my shrines and killed the Caretakers. It was not something I’d expected to happen; that being not only the destruction of my shrines but the devastation wrought by that terrible day.”

“I will share with you what most mortals are ignorant of regarding the Valterrian. Before the world was shattered, there existed two great civilizations, the Kingdom of Alahea and the Suvan Empire. These two civilizations warred seemingly endlessly. It wasn’t until Queen Kova of Alahea arranged a truce by joining Emperor Odalah in marriage. On their wedding night, the king discovered that he was not the first to have Kova’s love. Such a thing was a bit more important to some people back then that it is now. In a rage, he had her dragged through the streets and chained to the gates where she was stoned to death.” Rhysol looked down at his hands for a moment then back up to the group.

“Unknown to Odalah was the fact that the one who had loved Kova before him was the God of Fire, Ivak. Kova’s death unleashed the god’s divine wrath upon the world. Walls of fire washed across the land, mountains rose and civilizations fell, millions of souls were tossed into the afterlife. In an effort to calm Ivak’s rage, the God Sylir sought to reason with him. Failing in that, he and a handful of other gods, came together with a plan to contain Ivak. The idea was that Sylir would try once more to reason with Ivak, serve as a distraction for the others to spring the trap.” Rhysol then offered a sad, almost humble smile.

The god’s voice softened, “Now, I know a bit about betrayal and saw what could happen if the plan failed. Ivak would see it as the ultimate act of betrayal; the gods siding with mortals over the death of his love. I saw the world destroyed and with it, not just all mortals but the gods themselves. I tried to reason with Sylir. Unfortunately, he and I, for rightful reasons, never agreed on much. He ignored me, believing it to be another attempt at misdirection. When he once again approached the raging Ivak, I did the only things I felt I could do to stop what I believed would happen…I struck and killed Sylir.”

Rhysol paused and said nothing for a few moments before speaking again. “Little did I know, that action was the distraction needed for the others to slam the door shut on Ivak’s prison. The world, though shattered, remained with the possibility of rebuilding intact. At first, I thought that with Sylir’s death, my influence in this broken world would flourish. I was wrong. You see, before the Valterrian, the world existed with context and balance; good and evil, life and death, love and hate, truth and lies. Each side of the equation gave context to the other. Without good, there is no evil. Without hatred, there is no love. Without truth, there are no lies. It is a concept that, up until that point, I had not accepted. Yet, as I looked out upon the blasted world, I saw most of my followers were dead. My shrines were either destroyed or rendered effectively dead. My influence, like that of nearly all of my kind, was as shattered as the world was. With my Voices silenced, I was left but a shadow of what I once was. Then I discovered Myleena Vos. A charismatic woman, she had a way of gathering people to her. I named her my Voice and together we built this city. Although it is far from perfect, Ravok offered the chance for people to rebuild their lives and in turn, rebuild their faith in me and increase my influence.”

Rhysol stood and walked back over to stand next to The Voice. “Why would I share this all with you? Why should you believe the words of the God of Lies? Why should you believe anything that you’ve heard thus far? For as long as there has been life on this world, I have been well served by the capacity for mortals to lie, cheat, betray and otherwise do terrible things to one another. We gods exist as reflections of all the various aspects of reality; so many of which mortals create. We do not cause all of those good and bad things you experience in life; we exist because mortals create such things. It is a truth that most gods would not want mortals to know for it would potentially threaten their very existence. After the events that led to and followed the Valterrian, I have gained a new perspective on the nature of what it is to lie. It was lies, betrayal, hatred and brutality that caused the Valterrian which in turn destroyed everything I valued up to that point. Am I a reformed being? A being who embraces love, peace and civility? Hardly. Yet, I now find that truth can have its uses and prove to be quite rewarding.”

“As for what force could awaken my shrine, I do not see it as tied to Morwen for I would sense such a presence for what it was. No, whatever it is, is capable of hiding itself from being seen even by me. Over the centuries, there have been many events in and around that region that could be tied to all of this. Narrowing down exactly what could be responsible is what I am tasking you with. As for something provoking the gods? I do not sense such a thing; at least no more or less than which always exists.”[b][/b] Rhysol looked then to Shiress as she asked about her unborn child.

At her request, Rhysol offered a simple nod. “For your assistance with this rather unusual task, your child will have my protection."

After the group had finished with their questions and made their way out of the temple, The Voice turned to face Rhysol.

“That was…your response to those questions…it was…” The Voice struggled to find the words.

“Unexpected?” Rhysol spoke for her. “My dear, I have existed for too long in the drainage ditch of civilization as it were. Surrounding myself in lies and feasting on the degradation of mortals has caused me to limit my own potential. There are so many evils in this world; not all of them are easily seen or identified. Those things that are considered good and pure, so often are they responsible for the greatest evils imaginable.”

The Voice smiled and brushed her hand against Rhysol’s cheek.

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The next day when the group had assembled once more at the temple and were greeted by The Voice, the opening of the portal was at hand. The Voice accepted Rohka’s offering of the talisman with a thankful smile.

In response to Caspian’s request, The Voice nodded and said, “Of course but let us hope that will not be necessary. If it comes to be so however, I will honor your request."

To all of them and to their declarations of preparedness, The Voice offered her thanks and gestured to the items collected on the altar.

“Now for the items I have assembled here. As we do not know what is on the other side of the portal, I do not want you go without some additional aid.” The Voice offered each person a particular item and gave a brief description of what they were and what sort of aid they could provide.

To Sevris, she offered a wooden buckler shield studded with bone. “This shield is made from wood originally used in the founding of Ravok. The bones are those of a lake creature killed early on in Ravok’s history. The shield will absorb great amounts of damage without a single blemish. It has a name, “Driftwood”, given to it by its rather eccentric creator."

To Caspian, The Voice presented him with a pair of black leather bracers that bore a simplistic elegance. Each bracer was masterfully stitched with strange looking symbols and patterns. “These bracers belonged to a young thief who, around a hundred years ago, tried to steal from The Voice of that time. Although he was caught, The Voice admired his foolish bravery and let him go. She also graced these with her blessing. When worn, they will allow you to open simple, mundane locks without the need for a lockpick."

For Hollis, The Voice handed her a delicate, silver silk belt with a thin silver clasp. “This was crafted by a young girl who survived the Valterrian and eventually grew up in the early days of Ravok and became something of an accomplished magesmith. It will altar your scent to accommodate a given situation; be it formal, informal or even aid in the wilderness to mask your scent from those things that would prey on you."

To Shiress, The Voice held out a simple copper ring. “Although it may not look like much, this ring belonged to a woman who had a tendency toward being involved in a number of abusive relationships. One day, she had enough and beat her husband to death with a cooking spoon. In that moment, her ring, this ring, became empowered with a special gift. When threatened with bodily harm and you are without a way to defend yourself, the ring will manifest in your hand, an unconventional item that can be used as an impromptu weapon."

Hauk was offered a piece of worn brown leather. “For the hunter, wrap this piece of leather around your bow for a grip. It will grant your arrows an added punch upon a successful shot. It was cut from the tunic of a warrior who fought and died defending the newborn city of Ravok from the horrors that once inhabited the Lake.”

Orias was presented with a sash made from some sort of especially lightweight cloth. “For the sailor, this sash was cut from the sail of one of the ships that carried early refugees from the mainland to Ravok and was eventually used in the city’s construction. When worn, it will act is if you were wearing a light suit of armor that covers your torso.”

“And for the woman who has a fondness for reflections…” The Voice addressed Rohka while offering a small, silver hand mirror. “This mirror has the power to trap and contain anything reflected in it. Whatever you find to be the source of all of this, let it see its reflection in the mirror and it will become trapped so that you may bring it back here. It will even contain the power of a lesser god albeit for an extremely short amount of time. At the end of that time however…well, I suggest if it comes to that, you get back here as soon as possible.”

Once the items were handed out, any last moment questions were asked and answered and the supplies were gathered up, The Voice instructed each person to stand near the great shard in the center of the great hall.

“Hold out a hand toward the shard with your palm down. Focus on something from these past two days that has affected you in some profound way. Hold on to that thought, feeling or whatever it may be and try not to move.” The Voice then positioned herself near the shard as well. When she began to speak again, she spoke words layered upon words, all of which were indecipherable. The strange words sounded as though they were being spoken with two voices speaking different words at once. There didn’t seem to be any repetition or pattern to what she was saying.

As she spoke, wisps of thin, silvery trails of steam began to emanate from each person. It was not unlike when warm, moist skin is exposed to cool temperatures. Each person felt as if there was something crawling under their skin, all over their body. It didn’t hurt but the feeling was quite uncomfortable.

As the Voice continued speaking, the steam began to swirl around each individual person, slowly pooling in a cloud around their outstretched hand. The feeling of crawling under the skin began to fade and then vanish. The small silver cloud around the hand was then sucked into the top of their hand; into a small, round orb embedded in the flesh. The strange stone was about an inch in diameter and was white with striations of black and silver.

But a few breaths after the forming of the stone in each of their hands, the group would see the surface of the shard begin to writhe as if it were alive. Inky black tendrils reached down from the shard to the floor where they snaked their way to where each person stood. The tendrils slowly crawled up each person’s leg; slithering their way up the body, down the arm and to the outstretched hand. The tendril’s touch was comfortably warm.

When the tendrils reached each of the outstretched hands, there was a flash of silvery light. The flash of light brought into existence seven arched doorways in midair directly in front of each person. The surface of the doorway was a milky silver with periodic swirls of black.

The Voice stopped speaking the strange language. With the portals now open, she beamed a smile. “It worked perfectly. Now, step into your portal. You should arrive in or very close to the shrine. Unfortunately, I can’t be certain the exact spot as I am sure things have changed quite a bit over the centuries. Once you have exited the portal, begin your search. Hopefully, the source will reveal itself sooner than later. When you have discovered the source and ideally captured it, hold out your hands to the smaller shard located in the shrine. Focus on the same thing that took you there to begin with. The link will be reestablished and you will be able to return. Good luck.”

Unseen to everyone, even The Voice, as each person stepped into their portal, the surface of the portal rippled ever so slightly.

Stepping into the portal, each person immediately finds their senses severely muted. Movement can be seen here and there but it is like looking through murky water. Sounds are but a muffled whisper while the only taste or smell in the air is tasteless moisture. Each person felt wet although they were still quite dry.

The strange sensations lasted for an unknown amount of time; a brief moment, many bells, it was hard to tell exactly how long. When the sensations ended, they did so suddenly and immediately. What greeted the group was the sight of a vast forest surrounding a beautiful, tranquil lake. They stood on the shore of the lake. Behind them, a medium-sized stone building with windows positioned higher up than otherwise normal as to catch the most light in a place where the days were somewhat short. Next to the building was a collection of smaller huts and shacks. People milled about seemingly tending to everyday tasks; gardening, fishing, cleaning clothes.

If anyone in the group attempted to move farther than 25 feet from the point they arrived, they would find an invisible barrier preventing them from proceeding. The people did not seem to see or hear the group and in one case, a person walked toward Orias and passed right through him. The group had enough space to move within the barrier that they could reach a few feet from the opened double doors leading into the larger building.

Standing in the open doorway of the larger building, a man dressed in white robes hemmed in black, watched with a peaceful smile on his face as the people went about their business. He had short, brown hair and a slim yet handsome face.

What the group saw definitely did not look like a place ravaged by divine destruction. At the same time however, each and every one of them had the strange feeling that, even amidst the strange barrier, people not noticing them and even passing through them, that there was even something more that was not right about what they were seeing.
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[Fall 19 Seasonal Quest] Ripple Me This

Postby Sevris on November 15th, 2019, 7:24 am

The pressure was mounting inside the Lazarins mind as he stood with the group. The information mulled over from last night was putting in emphasis, just how important this mission was. The God of Lies explained in great depth the answer to his question. Explaining the complicated and once in a lifetime creation of the Caretakers. That they could never be replicated, and the last remnants of that divinity was within them all.

Another shocking revelation was the question from Rohka. It seemed to catch Rhysol off guard was well, but he answered fully. She asked about the Valterrian. An event which could be described as an cataclysmic tragedy. The origins from the cause had never been learned.

Sevris had listened with an intense focus. The history was amazing to hear, no matter how tragic it was. The part that Rhysol played seemed to be even bigger. He was the helping hand setting things into motion. He had slain Sylir the God of Peace. The young Soldier shook his head, he needed to be focused on the task at hand.

The Voice began to speak to them again, breaking him out of his nervous thoughts. Her voice ironically was very soothing, he found his earlier feelings were moot. She walked towards him first, explaining to the group that they would be needing additional aid. The Demigoddess produced a finely crafted buckler shield for him. It was unlike any shield he had ever seen before.

The wood she explained was from when Ravok was founded. The bones studded within the shield were from a fierce beast that used to live in the lake earlier in of Ravoks history. Sevris reached over and took the shield from her. He admired the craftsmanship, as she explained its useful properties. A shield that could take damage from all outputs and would never blemish.

Which explains its longevity throughout the centuries. "Thank you my lord." He expressed to the Voice. He was honored to receive a gift of aid from the Voice. The other received useful tools that would help them on their journey. Rohka receiving the most important one. It would help them capture whatever it was on the other side of the portal. If need be.

Once they were all situated. The Voice directed them on how to open the portals. He was too stretch his right hand towards the shard. He was to concentrate on something important in the last two days. Sevris used his meeting with Rhysol, something that was life changing every time. The Voice began to use her own powers as she began to chant out of rhythm. They were words he could not decipher. He wasn't sure if it was the Ancient Language something he was versed in.

Whatever she said it seemed to work. Because a strange silvery steam began to emit itself from Sevris's body. The feeling was entirely uncomfortable, but he had dealt with something similar to it before. His palm pointing downwards, the mist pooled around the hand.

Then it floated upwards while giving itself form. It formed completely into an exotic looking shard of black and silver, and embedded itself within his palm. He looked at the shard with wonder. Black tendrils shot from each of their shards and fell to the ground. There it raced towards everyones legs, crawling up them so that it too could reach their respective shards. Warm to the touch, the tendrils reached the shard on the Lazarins hand.

There was a flash of silver light that was slightly blinding to him. Closing his eyes slightly, through the shafted look. He was able to see a portal door, like several others, created out of the light. The Voice was pleased it work, then she gave them their last debriefing.

Sevris nodded. Understand their duties he had one thing add for the Voice. "We will do our best. If we encounter something that is beyond us. I will pray too you. And relay what I can." Sevris touched his Chaon mark on his left shoulder. Hopefully Rhysol would be able to hear him call if they were overwhelmed.

The Soldier took a deep breath before stepping into the portal. Once the rest joined them. They would be sent on a journey like never before. Sevris was plucked from the room. He was sent swirling through reality, for how long it was uncertain. His senses were all over the place, he didn't how to feel. Like he was swimming through dark waters.

This continued on for sometime. But suddenly, it all stopped. Sevris and the group were transported to a vast forest region. Surrounding it the Solider could see an equally large lake. However this place was not how he had suspected. He had expected to see a land ravaged by divine power. Strong enough to kill the Caretakers and destroy Rhysols shrines.

He saw no such thing. Sevris turned around to marvel at the site before them. A large stone building was erected some distance away. Around the building were little huts and shacks trickled over a larger area. The strangest part were the people. The place bustling with activity, the buildings seemed to be all intact and in use. But none seemed to notice the group and their sudden appearance.

"Something is wrong." Sevris said to the others. He tightened his hand through the buckler shield just in case. No sooner had he said that. One of the folks walking on the shore walked towards them, and then right through Orias himself. As if he wasn't there.

This immediately put Sevris on alert. What happened? He thought to himself. The world as they had predicted was entirely different. He stifled a gasp. They were sent here to investigate. The Solider straightened up, everything seemed off. But they had a job to do. Looking around he spotted a man in the doorway of the. He looked towards the group and said, "Things are not as they seem. But maybe that guy," he said pointing towards the handsome man overlooking the people. "Can show us something." He beckoned to any that would follow.

Sevris walked forward, passing through people who did not know he was there. He was having a suspicion this was what ghost must feel like. An eerie feeling. But that it was erased when the Solider stopped a few feet away from the double-doors. The man in white robes stood in front of them. The Lazarin cleared his throat to say, "Excuse us sir. Can you help us?" It seemed odd as if he were speaking to no one. Perhaps they could hear them.
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[Fall 19 Seasonal Quest] Ripple Me This

Postby Caspian on November 17th, 2019, 3:52 am

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    That’s the eternal question, isn’t it? What is motive - on which of its many sides does it lie, from how many arteries does it stem? Truthfulness, in his experience, is from the masses strictly hard-won. Unless you run into people like Shiress, that is, who wear it on their sleeve through thick and thin, and offer it even to urchins like him, even as they’ve just been caught with a fistful of fineries that don’t belong to them.

    Speaking of.

    For multiple reasons, Caspian feels his face burn - something further to keep him warm, or so the part of him in diminutive but permanent residence in the back of his mind that’s given to snide asides would say.

    One doesn’t just get what they ask for, not without maneuvering, not without mangling, not without motive - and so he doesn’t expect any of it, that the Voice agrees to his request so readily, that she listens to begin with. Above all he doesn’t expect a gift from her - but once received, it’s of no surprise that they slide upon his forearms as easily as if they were made for him. Almost as if she had known precisely the transformation his magical suit was going to undergo that morning, and she had accordingly selected something in perfect complement.

    Back to the burning, though, for a moment-

    Does the Voice know that he and Shiress found each other after years of separation despite so many odds, all because Caspian had tried to rob who he’d been convinced was a faceless heiress with enough wealth that had he lined his coat with her mizas, filled his pockets two-fold with her fripperies and silks, she wouldn’t even have registered a loss? And if the Voice knows, is the closely paralleled context of the bracers her way of admonishing him for the crime, or - and this theory takes a bearing with, says his internal individualized heckler - in some alien way, her expressing a sense of humor?

    Terrifying, the idea of the latter.

    As the Voice grants generously to the rest of the group, Caspian’s eyes stray to each of their faces, wondering if the history and purpose of each item is as cuttingly applicable as the bracers are to him. The Lazarin had been first, and with the bestowing of that shield to go with the rest of the weapons he brought along - all of them mightier than Caspian’s, but that’s neither here nor there, and is that something he ought to still be self conscious about anyway? - but he’s tacitly reinforced as the valiant one, surprise upon surprise; a woman he’s never seen before but who seems to irreconcilably emanate a compelling glamour accepts a sash of silver; to Shiress - Caspian knows more than well what the ties there could be. The roughened razor of a man dubbed the hunter receives an augment that, curiously, had belonged to someone who died in the line of fire. The story’s fit for troubadours, but doesn’t that hold a foreboding fate for its new owner?

    Not entirely without sense, despite many parties easily arguing to the contrary, he doesn’t say that last bit out loud.

    The sailor he doesn’t know receives something equally fitting and practical as his bracers, and Rohka -

    The end result is that Caspian is afraid not just of the Voice, of the God who beckons and brings one to heel with only the lightest of touches, of the Lazarin who he’s long since resolved to steer clear of - but of everyone gathered in this room.

    Rohka, perhaps, most of all, holding the mirror with the same delicacy one might have if seated before a dressing table.

    After a moment’s hesitation, Caspian does as he’s bidden, raising a hand towards the shard.

    If he has to pick a moment from the last 48 hours, it’s without strain to retreat to the immediately past, of Taalviel wrapping her arms about him. The instances of her ever having done so are few, to be relegated to tallying on a single hand, each one taken as baffling and their origins and motives only able to be deciphered so far.

    To his own consideration he has needed it far many more times - it being an act as simple as an embrace, though he would have settled for a curt nod so long as it was in his direction and intentional - but as a matter of principle she and every other party raising him in Sunberth had been purposefully withholding; beyond that, her disposition being incurable, as a matter of nature it’s likely she hasn’t accurately registered each crisis as it came. But she had known, now, had conceded that he needed it - as if portentousness for once were brandished as something more than aesthetic.

    But all that is too close, too easy, too much to think about without an ache. If not to agonize in circles without learning from them, where does his mind as of late so frequently seem to wander?

    Two days before, he had a moment alone, and had been playing his violin. But any playing was more like eking, all that eking somehow despite his constant flinching for it not riling the ire of his neighbors behind, above, or below. They have to put up with so much of his nightly wandering and badgerings already, and Saticath’s shrieks and Thancerell’s guffaws, that it would be worth a sneer if they ever objected to something so orderly in comparison. Unfettered, the eking turned to idling - most everything he does taking that turn - and as he held his violin with the neck lying in the crook of his left arm, his right hand strayed to the strings, and with nothing particular in mind save for the dust motes brought to light in the window’s wake, his fingers began to pluck. Plucking turning to strumming, methodology falling to straying, and it’s all a little discordant and escaping the measurably metronomic - but after some time he’d found a major chord he could reproduce for its being mostly on the open strings, then another, pitched downward and anchoring to a brightness from one of his fingers pressing down in vagueness on the high E. They weren’t in the same scale - he’s not as good as he used to be - but he switched between them, and even with some gap and fumbling to place and replace his fingertips, they sewed themselves for weightless minutes into something that might have been considered a song, if only for how resolutely he pursued it. The indubitable clumsiness of what he played, to veritable music, is the same interval as from here to the horizon, but pressing on in his mind were the pavanes thrummed with galliards that he and Rohka had swung and glittered through on the terrace of the summer barge.

    Had he any practiced way with words, he would have drawn them from the air those two days prior, sculpted his basest thoughts into lyrics that could be ascribed a rhythm, could despite futility aspire to match the dips and swells and how they’d found ways to flee from the world arm in arm.

    While his thoughts turn to her, to that sunlit moment two days gone when he had felt both brisk and languid, lost in a memory yet looking forward - the rarest of feelings, that the past was something worth holding on to, with a calm certainty that there was something in the future that he could both shamelessly want and have without burden -

    When was the last time he had felt so unrepentantly content?

    The gemstone that forms is equal parts sickening and fascinating, a parasite he doesn’t dare shuck. Any other meditation would have been far less potent, and it’s the only thing allowing him the force of mind to remain absolutely still, even when terror seizes him as the tendrils snake across his frame. The whole thing is a high - one of the bad ones, the sort that go on for spells longer than one thinks they will, that make one idly wonder whether it might not be better to never be high again. It’s the kind laced with the urge to look constantly over one’s shoulder, to fall to the conviction that one’s mind and breadth exist in isolation, that all in his proximity and surroundings are, as far as he’s concerned, at odds.

    And then it passes, as his highs have always done, good and bad alike. Clarity of mind and recuperation of heartbeat renewed, and he’s confronted with a shimmering door that had not been there before.

    Looking at his outstretched hand, the bracer seems more like a manacle.

    Despite his apprehension, or maybe as a consequence of it, a sense of teetering over a precipice comes over him, with biting acuity. The violin had been in his cradling only two days prior, and he hadn’t found the words then which certainly doesn’t mean he might find those words now, but he strains for them nevertheless.

    “Rohka -“ he says, turning to her sharply, having found himself drawn to her side all along.

    The rest escapes him; it had never really been in his grasp. There is nothing he can say, not in front of so many unknowns - but he takes her hand, the one at her side and unmarked by the stone.

    And he hopes that will be enough.

    From the moment the mirror was declared hers, he could picture how boldly she might stride forward. If she goes forth now, for a second he allows himself to succumb to everything, to his trepidation, his yenning, the newly instilled compulsion he has to look out, for once, for security that isn’t his own - and he holds her a fraction tighter, so that they might linger one moment longer in the world where they met, and as they know it. No matter the rise and fall of everything that will follow, they will not be the same as they were before, and he mourns for them, all of them, as they were.

    No matter how long she stays by him, though anything she might do now, he understands - and whether or not she knows the full depths of what he conveys in silence - he’s the last of the group to leave, gaze locked on miasma the hues of pitch-streaked snow.

    The scene that greets him on the other side is almost bucolic, manifestations of idyllic art in motion, many iterations of which he’s seen in more than one wealthy Ravokian’s hallway and parlor. It’s reminiscent of the mass-produced landscapes on canvas he’d once been tasked with recreating - a tall order for someone with no experience in art, who found themselves trapped for the better part of an afternoon in a studio as a matter of infiltration.

    Something’s off-putting about it - something almost two pristine, as if he were flicking through the pages of an illustrated collection of nursery rhymes. It’s enough that he’s no longer relieved just by seeing that they’ve all passed through in one piece, and he’s not sure what to do, except the safest and surest thing one can always do, which is step back and assess the entirety and beyond of -

    And there goes the Lazarin.
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    [Fall 19 Seasonal Quest] Ripple Me This

    Postby Rohka on November 17th, 2019, 7:42 am

    Dear Mother and Father,

    I have to make this brief because I must prepare for a journey. Please do not worry. The Voice has asked me and six others to fulfill a task in our Lord’s honour. I have met Him, and He is far more beautiful and arresting in person than He is in paintings of Him. We are to journey through a portal to find the cause of the recent happenings, with the animals and other disturbances. I am told that I, along with the others chosen for this task (Caspian, Hauk, Hollis, Sevris Lazarin, Shiress, Orias—I give you these names in case you wish to spread the news and gather more information), hold the essence of Caretakers created by the Voice long ago. It is this essence that allows us to access this portal.

    I asked Rhysol about the Valterrian, and He said so much. Did you know about the Kingdom of Alahea and the Suvan Empire? Mother, I think you’ve spoken of our Suvan past. When Rhysol told us what happened, I wondered what our family may have done during those times. How our family survived the blasted world. I will save the story He told us for when I see you next. I will be writing it down in my journal after this, so that I can take it with me and record the things I see and learn on this journey.

    Father, when I return, we should talk. The Voice has granted us protection for our trip to Zeltiva. And yes, Mother, Father, I intend to leave and help find Grandfather.

    I love you. Tell Jaide that I will miss her very much, and that I am confident that I will be back. She and I share a bond that needs no words at this point, so I know she supports any decision of mine, and will take care of herself and all of you accordingly.

    Farewell,
    Rohka Calico


    When the sybil exited the Temple, she knew at once that she needed to inform her family. It would simply be a notice, nothing more, with the purpose of letting them know what had happened since she received the missive at the Lakeshore. She was sure her parents would inform the family, and it would give them a sense of honour and pride, and perhaps even help Vida with her positioning amongst the Calico politics. Mostly, however, Rohka just didn’t want her Father pestering Grayson or Lelia on her whereabouts.

    As she wrote the letter before going to bed, the sybil found herself thinking back to Rhysol’s words. He created life. And he said it as if the Gods were just capable of doing so with the snap of their fingers—a ‘roll of the dice’, as he put it aptly. He said there were twelve followers who bonded with this life, emerging as Caretakers, held together by faith.

    So… the essence of twelve devoted followers were in… seven people? Were there others not present or did the number not matter?

    Such strange yet amazing magic had been the answer the question asked by Lazerin. Yet when her God looked to the sybil to answer her own, he paused. A grain of sadness emerged, like a dull shade in a bright piece of art. Rohka was indeed a mortal, short-lived, speaking to one who has been awake for longer than she could even imagine… and it felt surreal to be knowing that not one mortal—not a single one—would have been curious enough to ask the closest source with a memory of time about the unknown (perhaps even unwritten) past, during the frequency with which He walked amongst the people of His lake.

    But that was not all. It was only the beginning of Rhysol’s answer. He then went on to speak of the ignorance of mortals. Was it not the very purpose of speaking to tell the story from one’s own perspective? Was Rhysol immune to the effect of his own perspective? Would another God tell the story differently, as a friend would relate something in a different lens than an enemy? Does time not affect the truth that a God speaks?

    It all seemed so contradictory from the start.

    Rhysol had then sat down. The very act of taking a seat bringing with it a sense of foreboding times. He began to share that he did not expect such a terrible amount of destruction… which Rohka could see would be cause for sadness. He then spoke of a powerful woman arranging a truce through marriage. Rohka had gasped, hearing of Kova’s death. Stoned, chained, dragged. Such cruelty, for loving a God before loving a mortal. Not just any mortal, but an Emperor who trusted her to form peace between civilizations.

    This God of Fire, this Ivak, was the cause of death and destruction upon the world, out of grief for his lover’s sentencing. Rhysol then killed the divine force he believed would cause the destruction of the Gods themselves… he killed Sylir, to prevent further acts of betrayal via reasoning. But there were others who managed to imprison Ivak… so was the murder of Sylir in vain? No. The Gods were intact, it seemed, so perhaps killing Sylir did indeed prevent further losses, despite the death and decrease of Rhysol’s followers and influence.

    Where was Ivak now? Where were his followers?

    And Sylir… a God that has a name so close to where Hauk had said he was from: Syliras. She wondered, then, if Hauk had heard stories of this God during his time there.

    Rohka remembered having listened in awe and a growing sense of awareness when Rhysol spoke of mortals creating their own experiences. She breathed in deeply when he spelled out, clearly, that the Gods exist because of what mortals create. He wasn’t implying that mortals could threaten the existence of the Gods. He flat out stated it.

    He then revealed finding that there were uses and rewards for truth. What was lost on Rohka happened to be exactly that. How could this revelation be used going forward? That was the purpose of her question, after all.

    She resolved to write as much of these truths down in her journal as she could, so that she could refer to it on the other side.

    ________________

    “Alligator teeth, eh?" The question was asked with a gleam in his ocean eyes, his voice tinged with a hint of frantic Fratava, and a nose that crinkled when he spoke, almost as if he was trying to unconsciously block out a persistent smell. "Did you you that those nasty creatures do something called a death roll? I can carve in a circle if you—“
    “Yea, Herman, it’s fine, do whatever you like, I trust you. You’ve got good stuff here.”

    The man grinned manically.

    “Thanks missy. I’ll have it ready in a couple hours.”

    Little did Rohka know of the ability he was about to maledict into her gifts. Herman was of the curious sort, a novice at his newfound art and magic, having started his wee business to make more people aware of his growing skills. Seeing this young woman so eager and clearly faithful enough to want to make so many of these items, he figured this would be the perfect chance to show off his craft. The bright-eyed mage went on to tap into the djed of the tooth and pulled out the potential of the alligator’s death roll. He imagined it could grant the user the ability to force an attacker into submission, more fluidly in the water than on land, or perhaps a roll could disorient or dismember an attacker. He even giggled when he remembered that these would be attached to a sacred cord that bound all eight of these teeth together, wondering whether the users could in fact combine the effects for more impact.

    Herman carved out a swirl within the circle, with a frowning face and X’s for eyes in the middle, to represent his intention for the item. He beamed with that familiar insanity known to mages before pricking his finger and dropping blood onto each circle, activating them. When Rohka returned, he gave her all eight maledicted teeth fastened to their cords, and thanked her once again for choosing his stall, reminding her to spread the word about his service.

    But Herman was also of the forgetful sort, and he didn’t fully explain what he added. In fact, he simply figured she already knew. When she saw the carving she smiled and complimented them, thinking this was purely Herman’s signature, as odd as it was. She waved her goodbye and excitedly brought the new talismans to the temple.

    The Voice accepted the offering, and so did others. Caspian had quipped at her and she smirked, scratching her head lightly in an attempt at humility while her cheeks reddened. The flush stayed that way, with the kindest Hollis asking Orias to tie it for her, and Orias giving his thanks as well, and with Hauk tying it around his wrist, and the ever beautiful Shiress wearing it with a soft smile. The sybil saw such sweetness in Orias, offering the furs to Hollis, and his dagger too. He seemed selfless.

    But it was The Voice who then showed her immense generosity, once again. The aid that she provided to everyone gave Rohka courage and a needed, renewed sense of vigour. A strong shield named Driftwood for Sevris, a pair of lock picking bracers for Caspian, a lovely scented silk belt for Hollis, a magical ring of weaponry for Shiress, a powerful piece of leather for Hauk, and an armoured sash of Ravokian protection for Orias.

    Then, for herself, that mirror.

    She accepted it. She gave her thanks. She tucked it into her belt, securing it to make sure it was protected from reflecting the wrong thing. Her face went blank after receiving it, almost pale, having realized what this meant: the sybil was responsible for trapping whatever they found to be the source of these issues. She looked around to the others, knowing immediately that she would need their help. Desperately. At what point would this decision need to be made? They had to determine it together. They had to. But what if the decision needed to be made quickly? What then?

    Rohka forced her gaze to the ground. She resolved to bring it up to the group when they had a chance, once they’d crossed the threshold.

    They were told the crossing required focus. The sybil thought back to the moment at The Malt House, talking to Grayson. Everything Rhysol and The Voice played out thus far had affected her in ways she knew she was still processing, and that processing had to be done by talking things through. Grayson helped her see that she wanted more than just time to process. She wanted strength. It struck her, profoundly, when she realized how weak she thought she really was—how utterly useless and unproductive and stupid and inconsiderate and sometimes even insane she thought she could be, at times. Hearing Rhysol’s story helped her realize, once again, how much she doesn’t know about the world. Grayson helped her see that all she needed was the drive. Standing under the dying candlelight, knowing the simplicity of his advice, sparked her faith.

    Faith in the strength of ...truth? Spirit? Love?

    Of faith itself?

    It wasn't something she could articulate. But she knew the feeling.

    A double voiced foreign language then preceded the creeping swirl of a steaming cloud wrapping itself around their hands before disappearing into the top, leaving an orb of white stone, streaked with blacks and silvers. Then the shard, the one she grew up with, the one she prayed to so frequently, became a thing of life, inching across the floor and up her body, down her arm and to her hand, a light flashing before her eyes—

    And there it was. The portal. Finally.

    Rohka smiled, her eyes tearing up at the beauty and awesomeness of it all, fully ready to walk right in. Right when she was about to step forward, having blocked almost all of her senses to everything else, a hand gripped hers. The touch brought her out of her hypnosis and she gasped, hard. She whipped her head around to Caspian, her heart beginning to race when she saw his face, her own features reflecting an angered surprise at the halt but quickly shifting to a fluttering fear.

    Just then, his hand tightened. It eased her. Surprisingly, immensely. Her gaze glazed over with a flood of memories between them, knowing what they’d experienced on this side of the doorway. She considered herself lucky. Absolutely blessed by the fortune of the Gods to be seen by his spirit. The spirit that made her stop and consider exactly what choice they were making. Together.

    For everything Caspian thought himself to be, she wondered how far he’d be willing to risk it all.

    It was with this thought that she gripped his hand, with as much force as he did hers if not more, then nodded to him, her features softening in the acceptance of all that he was feeling. She wasn’t sure if she was trying to reassure him. She wasn’t even sure what he’d thought of, in that moment. All she could hope for was his belief in her. In himself. In all of them.

    In everything they would become.

    Rohka submerged in something water-like as soon as she pushed through the portal. Yet, feeling her skin with her hands, it was dry. For a time she’d wondered if something wasn’t right, if she’d missed an instruction, if it was possible to get stuck. She tried to move, wondering if it would change anything. She didn’t know if she was making any movement because she couldn’t see anything… she could barely hear anything. So she waited. She figured it would be best to meditate. To be calm before they emerged on the other side.

    She breathed in and out, feeling the anxiety within her chest. She tried to breath in deeper this time, breathing out through her mouth, watching her thoughts and feelings come to her and noting them as they passed, and new ones came. She thought of Rhysol, and then of her family, of her grandfather that she barely remembered… of whether she’d ever return. All thoughts abruptly stopped… and that was when she found herself on the shore of a lake.

    The water sparkled, its peace and calm shocking her at once. Beyond the lake, surrounding it, seemed to be a far reaching forest. The sybil slowly turned and looked behind her to see a stone building with unnaturally high windows. There were huts and shacks around it and people going about their day. No one seemed to notice their sudden presence.

    Rohka called out to a person who walked towards Orias. “Hello? Excuse m—“ before she could continue, the sybil watched as the lone figure passed through the sailor as if he didn’t even exist.

    “Gods. What the petch is going on?” Rohka looked around at the group, wondering if anyone else had a clue. Sevris mentioned something being wrong and she couldn’t agree more. She started walking forward before a certain form of frustration hit her, having seen another person simply ignoring their clear existence, and she started to run. Legs pumped forward, arms swinging at her sides as she made the opened doors her target, but the sprint was short-lived.

    The sybil ran into a barrier and fell to the ground.

    She rubbed her face, pissed and upset at their apparent situation. “There’s something here, something invisible,” she said, her voice holding a tinge of annoyance for anyone close enough to hear. As she sat down on whatever the ground of the shore was made of, Rohka willed her djed to form a veil over her eyes, to try to sense the feeling of the aura around her, to maybe help her new team of Rhysol’s emissaries figure out what this barrier could possibly be made of. Ideally, she wanted to be able feel whatever feeling it might be able to give her.

    Rohka stood up as the bold Lazarin walked towards the doors as well. He asked for help, directing his question at the man dressed in white robes. As he asked the question, Rohka wondered about the world she was seeing around them. It looked so calm, something about it reminded her of the Lakeshore of Ravok, of how normal and functioning it seemed with people just living their lives, with no obvious form of distress or destruction. Rohka began to walk towards Sevris, standing behind him, and whispered by his shoulder.

    “Do you recognize those robes? Does he look dangerous?” She had to ask him. He was the only Ebonstryfe among them and he’d probably been exposed to more of these kinds of guard-like characters than she was.

    What was this brown-haired man standing there for? She attempted to analyze his face, but his handsome features distracted her a tad as she tried, once more, to bring djed to the space around her, to read the man’s aura field. She wanted to see if it changed in the moments after Sevris asked his question, or whether it changed at all during their initial exploration.

    The sybil thought to herself as she looked around her once more. It at least seemed logical that they were walking atop the same ground as the people of this area. Was this even a real place?

    The sybil tried to look down at the ground, to see what type of earthen material she could pick up from this shore: sand, a pebble, grass, dirt, snow. She reached down to pick up a clump of whatever.

    Was it just them? Their bodies?

    Would the material of this world pass through?

    She threw the clump towards the barrier.

    WC = 2950
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    [Fall 19 Seasonal Quest] Ripple Me This

    Postby Shiress on November 18th, 2019, 12:47 am

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    Shiress's heart ached for Caspian as he posed his final request to The Voice. Even though none of the others had laid claim to that particular fear of not returning, Shiress was sure it had crossed everyone's mind. It had her's, many times.

    Over the course of the last two days, Shiress had tried and failed to see the connection between herself and her companions. A seer, courtesan, soldier, sailor, thief, hunter, and a physician all left on a bold adventure...Their professions seemed more a grand opening of some crude tale than a deliberate and divine motive. Maybe that wasn't it. Maybe their connection went more in-depth, even more profound than the shared essence between them that The Voice had mentioned. Perhaps that deeper connection that she wasn't seeing hadn't been established yet and that at the end of this journey, this quest, it would be there. Shiress let her gaze roam over the group and couldn't help but wonder that if they all came out alive from whatever they were about to do if they would all become close friends..or bitter enemies. That latter thought had her emerald gaze searching out the soldier of the group, Sevris.

    Of all the present company, Sevris was the only one that Shiress could see as an enemy and wondered if that had been part of the supposed divine intent. The man was a Lazarin, a petching Lazarin! The very family that had enslaved, abused, manipulated, and ultimately killed her Bondmate, Rook. Shiress wondered idly if Sevris knew Jessica Lazarin and her own role in that particular Lazarin's demise.

    Shiress's scrutiny was interrupted when The Voice stepped up to the soldier and offered forth a shield, her eyes following the immortal as she continued down the line. When she stepped before Caspian, Shiress's eyes grew wide, and her brows shot up to her hairline. The story behind the bracer was very much familiar that it set butterflies free in Shiress's stomach, and by the look on the thief's face, he felt the same. She looked on as a piece of cloth was given to Hollis, curiosity peaking at its properties.

    When it was her turn, Shiress accepted the ring with a slight bow of her head, sliding the copper circlet onto her middle finger alongside the golden band on her ring finger that her parents had gifted her for her birthday so many seasons ago. She wondered at its origins and tried fitting them into her own life's story. Still, the implications had her head spinning, and she dismissed the attempt, attention going to the others as they accepted their gifts and the story behind them. Rohka, it seemed, had the most telling gift, and if Shiress had any inclination to what exactly they were about to step into, the most dangerous of them all.

    When it came time to open the portal, Shiress did as she was asked and, knowing precisely the thought, or rather the feeling; the comfort she had felt as the little girl flung herself into Rhysol's embrace, the pure serenity to safety and protection that the God had offered. She had vowed, as The Voice began to speak, that her eyes would remain open so as not to miss a thing, but when the snake-like tendrils began flowing around her and her companions, her eyes squeezed shut. Heart leaping and shuttering into a pace she was sure would burst it, Shiress stepped forward, sucking down a gasp of fear.

    With her senses suddenly slamming back into her, Shiress opened her eyes for the first time. She was immediately relieved that all her companions had come through with her and the aching fear that she would somehow come out on the other end of that portal alone eased. What hit her next was the strongest wave of nausea that she had ever felt. Pregnancy, a gateway, and the sudden transition from one place to another had done evil things to her equilibrium and threatened a revisit with her breakfast that morning.

    Struggling to remain upright and quietly see herself away from innocent shoes, Shiress stumbled two paces to the left, but the world tilted, and she fell back into someone. Orias, maybe? Spinning away again, she came face to face with Hollis instead, arms reaching up to grab the woman's shoulder's in an attempt to keep her steady. "Sorry" Shiress said, one arm remaining on the woman's shoulder as the other rested against Orias's forearm until she felt her world settle a bit."I'm ok now, I think. I just got a bit dizzy." she admitted, lowering her hands. She was okay, for a tick, before she abruptly spun around and fell to her knees, losing the battle with her stomach in great heaves.

    Several ticks went by before Shiress felt remotely human again and, with her stomach thoroughly empty, regained her feet. Pulling a waterskin from her pack, Shiress filled her mouth enough to swish the liquid around before spitting it back out. Another swig of water and she felt stable enough to look around at their surroundings.

    The first thing that seized her attention was the beautiful lake and the dazzling light coming from Syna's rays dancing off its surface. The next were the huts, and then the people. The waterskin fell slowly from her lips as the realization that something was off dawned. Something was familiar about the huts and the water, though. Dropping her gaze to the ground, Shiress furiously dug through her mind for the memory. It was something The Voice had said. No. It was her description of the shrine in her time.

    In my time, the shrine sat on the shore of a deep-water lake, surrounded by forests. The shrine itself was rather unassuming, a stone building with high-set windows designed to capture as much light as possible in an area where twilight reigned. There was a small collection of huts next to the shrine where the faithful lived.

    Shiress drew in a sharp breath. They were at the shrine, yes, but before it was destroyed, before the...

    Shiress eyes widened, gaze snapping up to the stone building before them. "I think.." she said, voice trembling, "that we may have just gone back in time." She looked to Hollis then to Orias, "This is exactly how The Voice described the shrine before the Valterrian destroyed it." Stepping forward, she placed a hand on Orias's arm, gaining his full attention. "The Voice said we would be safe inside the shrine. We are not inside the shrine!"

    Even as she spoke, Sevris Lazarin called out, sending a dark and foreboding chill slivering up her spine.

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    [Fall 19 Seasonal Quest] Ripple Me This

    Postby Hollis on November 18th, 2019, 3:33 am

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    It was his eyes. That's what did it, Hollis had decided. She was not sure exactly what she was feeling, but knew that something about Orias seemed familiar. It had to have been his eyes. Something behind those deep grey eyes brought Hollis to a place she had been before; something like a dream, almost gripping hold the memory but not quite, finding it slipping through her fingers. It was a warm feeling. It was like...

    ... him. The one of her mother took from her. Orias looked nothing like him, but those eyes. Those eyes brought her back to Brenn, somehow.

    With a grin painted across his angular face he offered her a fur, muttering something about the weather in Taldera. Hollis could not hold back a smile in return, feeling her cheeks flush. "Thank you, Orias," she said in a breathy voice. She felt winded, though she had arrived leisurely.

    Although, with so much on her mind, it was no wonder she was feeling the weight of anxiety. Everything Rhysol had told them was utterly bewildering. His tale of the cataclysm that hurdled the world into chaos and destruction was eerie, one brought forth by the weakness of the heart of a god. Ivak, an apparently lustful god who fell in love with a mortal woman, seemed to have fallen prey to his heart. He brought forth a wreckoning the world had not yet seen before and cities and countries, men and women alike, all fell beneath the god's weight. Beneath his heartache.

    Ivak imprisoned, the god Sylir dead, the world was hardly saved from the destruction of the divine wrath brought down upon it. The world around him left in shambles Rhysol, together with Myleena Vos, built Ravok in the middle of the lake. From the destruction the God of Lies began to build His city.

    Her racing thoughts interrupted, The Voice began to dole out the various gifts she had brought for the varied members of their group. All seemingly enchanted, useful in their own ways, Hollis was starry eyed to see the silver silk belt that The Voice offered her. With a slightly-shaky hand she took the item from the strikingly beautiful woman and bowed her head slightly. "You honor me with this gift," she said. Hollis looped the belt around her waist, settling on a high point right below her ribcage. Her nostrils were suddenly filled with the scent of the sea, almost as if she had been standing directly in front of the ocean itself. She looked over to Orias, smiling. Soon, after inquiry, he was at her side again, offering her a dagger of his own supply.

    Hollis looked down at the blade. She reached up with delicate fingers and placed them on the hilt of the blade, her touch slightly overlapping Orias' own. She looked up to his eyes--those dark, jet eyes.

    She took the dagger into her hand and backed away from Orias slightly. She looked at him with unsure eyes. She found herself too comfortable with him, as if she could reach up and touch his very cheek, as if she'd known him for years.
    An odd feeling no doubt. "You remind me of someone," she said finally, sporting a blank expression. "Someone I don't even remember all that well. Thank you for this," she motioned to the dagger. "Once this is all done, I'll owe you a drink, I'm sure," she said admiringly, feeling a quick pang of embarrassment.

    Hollis cleared her throat. She could not lose sight of the task at hand. Too much depended on it. Hollis straightened her posture, cocking a hip and twirling the crocodile pendant between her index finger and thumb. She felt dumb, and backed away from Orias. "Thanks again," she whispered, giving him yet another wink and smiling warmly, before turning back to the Voice.

    ---

    The moment for any apprehension had passed. By this time, they were all gathered 'round the large shard as instructed. The Voice told them to focus on a memory, something from the past two days that had affected them in some way, hold the memory in their minds and reach out toward the obelisk before them with palms outstretched. Bewildered, Hollis instinctively reached out her left arm and opened her hand. The first thought that rushed into her mind was the night that the Hand appeared on her doorstep. The sense of total confusion that Hollis felt that night when she opened the letter, summoning her to the very temple they stood in.

    In vocals unlike Hollis had ever heard in her life The Voice began her chanting, the language totally unknown to Hollis. The prickling of her skin was a small sensation at first but soon grew into a much more uncomfortable stabbing sensation. Soon, the steam began to seamlessly wrap itself around her body, swirling around her over and over, eventually gathering into the palm of her hand when suddenly the stabbing stopped and Hollis noticed a round gem in the center of her hand. Awe stuck her in the gut, her mouth gaping open slightly, a slight gasp not audible to the others underneath the chanting.

    Once all was said and done, there they were, all standing before their own individual doorways. Hollis took a deep breath, listening to the final words of the Voice, and before she could question her own sanity, she stepped into the portal, putting all of her faith in their God of Lies.

    ---

    "Oh, I've got you, doll," Hollis found herself grasping Shiress as soon as she realized they were no longer at the temple back in Ravok. It was a similar feeling to joining a conversation mid-sentence. Nothing about their surroundings made much sense, and the factor of desorientation was quite severe. Shiress was certainly the first thing Hollis took note of, the woman's face a particular shade of green Hollis would recognize anywhere. Hollis held her shoulder, offering support for leaning. She then helped to guide Shiress down to the ground where she, to Hollis' horror, promptly lost her lunch.

    Hearing Rohka say something, Hollis peered over her shoulder to see someone walking toward them and Rohka attempting to start a conversation. The stranger took no notice of the group and soon enough walked straight through Orias' body. Hollis' eyes widened.

    Hollis turned back to Shiress, rubbing her back gently, and helped her to her feet. As she helped the woman stand, she said something about time travel, and noted that the scene around them appeared to be exactly what The Voice had described to them regarding the old shrine. Hollis felt that pang of anxiety again, and knew the mother-to-be must be onto something.

    "You may speak truth," Hollis said to Shiress directly. "This does look an awful lot like what The Voice described." Hollis looked over to Orias with a hint of worry in her eyes, and proceeded to speak. "If we are indeed in the past, maybe no one from this time can sense us? Maybe..." Hollis looked around, seeing Sevris walking forward toward a man standing in the threshold of what Hollis assumed could maybe be the Shrine? She could sense that Shiress was tensing up, listening to her note on the fact that they were not in the Shrine itself, implying they may not be safe out in the open.

    "He seems...smug," Hollis commented, looking at the smiling man. His expression was serene. "Maybe he is the Caretaker the Voice and Rhysol spoke of?"
    She waited with great anticipation. She stayed close to Shiress, feeling oddly protective of her, keeping a hand on one of her shoulders.

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    [Fall 19 Seasonal Quest] Ripple Me This

    Postby Hauk Tarn on November 26th, 2019, 3:40 am

    ImageHauk never believed that he would come face to face with a divine being. Yet here he was, not only in the presence of one who had played apart in the great catastrophe so many centuries ago, but was being told[i] a first hand account of those cataclysmic events. Rhysol’s account was more detailed than the lessons he had learned as a squire. He had never heard tell of the names of those that ruled over the ancient empires, nor the name that had caused Ivak’s grief and rage, but the main points of the stories where there, including the death of Sylir, the god after the city and the Order that he used to serve were named after. The Knights had taught that Rhysol was a god of Chaos, and as such would likely dismiss the divine’ beings telling, claiming to be full of deceit, yet Hauk could sense nothing but sincerity in its telling. He knew perfectly well that Truth was just an effective agent of chaos as lies were.

    Fen rested at his master's side, laying flat on the cold floor of the temple. The canines own gaze fixed upon the god, his usual exuberant nature subdued in Rhysols presence. The two listened as Rhysol continued his story, at the rear of the group. The Hunter thought he saw Rhoka glance in his direction at the mention of Sylir, but he couldn't be sure.

    ------------------------------------------------

    The next day, after which they had finished with their general provisions, The Voiced moved out among them, with one final gift for each. She flowed between the group, offering unique items, seemingly all tied to the person receiving them. Hauk received a leather strip, looking as if it had seen the world, weather-worn, yet still strong and sturdy. "For the hunter, wrap this piece of leather around your bow for a grip. It will grant your arrows an added punch upon a successful shot." Haul took the leather and nodded. Such an item was surely to come in handy, and that it was being gifted by one such the voice only added to its value. Hauk preceded to carefully wrap the leather around the handle of his bow, as the Voice had instructed, taking care to spread it evenly so as to not disturb his grip.


    Once all the gifts had been handed out, the Voice instructed the group on how to open the portal. Stretching out his arm and holding open his hand, Hauk closed his eyes as he sought that which had affected him profoundly. There was much that had been revealed to him; a truth about his ancestry. His connection with this group of strangers. An audience with a god. A telling of the Valterrian. All these things stood out, but in truth the one aspect that moved him the most was the quest itself, the prospect of adventure, of exploring a new land, a new location, the thrill of the unknown. In Hauk this aroused a deep sense of exhilaration, it was what drove him, and what, deep down, he had been seeking since leaving the walled city.


    As he focused on these thoughts, and the feelings that they brought forth, Hauk began to feel ...something. Warmth spread over him, directionless at first, but then he felt it it crawl up from his legs, his body, his hand, finally concentrating on his palm. An intense heat, centered on his palm, yet not painful in the slightest. The words of the Voice, uttered in a strange language rang in the air as the heat intensified, only to be followed a bright flash. He heard Fen whimper at that moment, and his Immediately opened his eyes and looked down towards his friend, concern on his face. Fen hid behind the hunter, hunched over, his tail tucked between his legs. Following the dogs gaze, Hauk saw what he had originally missed, the things that had caused the flash. The portals were open.


    Looking down at Fen, the hunter smiled reasurrling, and the dog seemed to muster some of his usual exuberance back. Together, the Hunter and dog stepped through their portal, along with the rest of the group.


    ---------------------------

    It took a moment for Hauks senses to clear - the world slowly came into focus. The sounds of water softly lapping at a shoreline became sharper. Where before he smelled nothing, he now smelled the fresh smell of earth and forest. A smile played across the hunters face. As his senses returned to him, he took in the world around them, making sure that they were all there. He saw a great lake before them, vast, and surrounded by a deep forest. This was true backcountry. Turning he saw a building, undoubtedly the shrine, but it was not as he expected. Instead of Ruins, there stood the building, tall and complete. What's more, a man stood there, where none should be. They were not alone.


    A small gathering of people were all around them, seemingly oblivious to the sudden appearance of the group. [i] There shouldn’t be any one here.
    he thought. This...this isn’t right . Hauk instinctively drew his bow, knocking an arrow as his senses heightened, searching for any sign of danger. Well trained to react to his master, Fen began to growl, aware that something had spooked Hauk. . That was when one of the villagers seemingly walked right though one of their own.


    "I think..that we may have just gone back in time. someone spoke, the pregnant woman it seems. That made sense to Hauk. This wasn’t what the Voice had described to them. This was different.


    This was a trap.


    BLAST. He had been right. Every one had scoffed at his precaution, yet here they were, caught in a trap. Hauks mind raced. They needed to regroup. To plan. Something had gone wrong and they weren’t ready to deal with it. Just as he thought this, one of their own, Sevris if he recalled correctly, at that moment decided to approach the man standing at the shrine and call out. the blasted fool!

    ”No, wait!” the hunter called out, fearing that the trap was about to be sprung
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    [Fall 19 Seasonal Quest] Ripple Me This

    Postby Gillar on December 8th, 2019, 6:20 am

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    As Sevris approached the edge of the invisible barrier that surrounded the group; approaching the man in white robes. He could see something familiar on the top of the man’s right hand. Embedded in the flesh, albeit much larger, was a spherical white stone much like the one that had appeared on the hands of Sevris and the rest of the group. It was big enough that it extended down to his wrist and up to his knuckles and to either side of the top of his hand. The man looked around from the people milling about their daily routines out toward the lake and the forest beyond. Although he was smiling calmly, there was a sense of concern in his eyes as he surveyed the area; it was as if he were looking for something off in the distance.

    Normally, when someone gets within a few feet of another person, they have this sense of that person’s presence. It is just a natural feeling of proximity. Sevris however did not feel any of that from the man standing in front of him. For his part, the man did not appear to hear Sevris or even see his approach.

    Following Sevris’ attempt to gain the man’s attention, Rohka’s activation of her auristics imbued her senses yet did not offer much in the way of what she was hoping. She could indeed sense those who traveled with her. She could see that their auras revealed surprise, concern and confusion. She could also see the barrier that surrounded them. It was a domed circle, 25 feet in diameter and 12 feet high. Through her altered sight, the surface of the barrier looked like that of a calm body of water. As for anything outside of the barrier, her altered sight ended. Everything outside looked as it did to normal sight.

    As for her question to Sevris about the man’s robes, he would only recognize them as belonging to a servant of Rhysol. They were not like those worn by The Black Sun or Ebonstryfe. Although he couldn’t remember the source of the memory, he could recall hearing or reading about how priests of Rhysol used to where white robes hemmed in black; devoid of the modern-day trappings of The Black Sun. That sort of dress was common before the Valterrian.


    When Rohka reached down to pick up a small rock and threw it to the side toward the barrier, it hit and vanished only to return to the exact spot where it was in the first place.

    It was but a few moments later when the group, one by one, would see the look on the man in the doorway’s face lose his smile. His brow furrowed and his mouth remained slightly cracked open and twisted a bit with heightened concern as he looked past them to the south. He then spoke in a fearful voice, “Oh no…”

    If any of them were to look behind them, they would see nothing at first. All looked serene and beautiful and while it also looked like it was rather cold, they still felt none of it. All was calm for several breaths and it almost seemed like the man noticed something that wasn’t there. Then it happened.

    There was a booming cry that sounded like it was impossibly far away at first. It was a deep, thundering roar of a cry that sounded very much like a man; a man consumed by profound sadness followed immediately by…rage.

    The cry did not cease however and continued to thunder all around; growing louder with each passing second.

    The man in the doorway shouted out to those nearby, imploring them to drop everything and get inside the shrine immediately.

    It started with the cry of rage and moments later the group could feel the ground beneath them begin to tremble. It wasn’t much at first but the shaking increased to the point that they were forced to focus on staying balanced.

    The people heeded the man’s call to get in the shrine and began dropping everything and rushing toward the doorway although many slowed or stopped and looked to the south. At rough count, there were fifty people either heading toward the shrine or pausing to look. Everything that happened next came so fast that not everyone outside the shrine was able to make it to the doors before…

    Above the trees, the group could see a flickering glow that was rapidly growing brighter. From the trees, animals, countless numbers of them and of all kinds, birds, elk, deer, bears, wolves, rabbits, all flooded forth as if running from something far more terrible than any predator. They charged past the shrine, ignoring the people who were staring off to the distance or frantically trying to get inside.

    Then it happened.

    A wall of fire, at least fifty feet in height and stretching in either direction for as far as the eye could see, rolled over the forest to the south, incinerating everything in its path. As it roared past the forest and over the lake, the water bubbled and boiled; all the while, the rage-filled roar filled the air. The wall slammed into the invisible barrier that surrounded the group and instantly passed right through it. There were no screams that could be heard from any of the people who were caught outside the shrine as its doors closed right before the fire hit. The fire filled the interior of the barrier yet those inside remained mostly alright. Each could feel an uncomfortable amount of heat equivalent to standing too close to a strong campfire. They could not see anything but fire however.

    It all lasted but a few moments and then, the wall of fire had passed. The sight followed however was nothing short of a nightmare. The forest was gone; only blackened earth remained for miles around. The lake, once relatively clear, was murky and gray with ash and appeared to have dropped in level a few feet. The small village near the shrine was gone. A few blackened, melted stone foundations and pieces of walls remained.

    The shrine however looked to have fared a bit better. Although the stone was blackened and cracked in places, melted in others, it stood strong. The high set windows too were blackened but unbroken while the metal doors, pitted and a little warped, remained sealed. As for those who were caught outside of the shrine when the fire hit, there was nothing left; their ashes mixed with those of everything else. While it had been midday when they stepped from their respective portals, it now appeared to be early evening thanks to the amount of ash that filled the sky; hiding Syna from view.

    It was obvious what had happened. They had just witnessed the Valterrian.


    Many moments passed afterwards; allowing for some time to process what had just happened. A single bell’s worth of time passed before something else happened.

    Once more, each member of the group found their senses immediately muted. They could see movement at times yet, just like before, it was as if they were looking through murky water. Whispered sounds all around and moist air was all that there was. Almost as quickly as it had started, the sensations ceased and once again, the group found themselves before the shrine.

    This time however it was darker outside although there still seemed to be the ashy haze in the sky so knowing exactly what time of day it was could not be determined. While the surrounding area looked much like it did before, there were a few differences. Outside the shrine, on the side opposite of where the village once was, there were small mounds of disturbed dirt; graves.

    It was also quite cold, which they could actually feel completely. There were large patches of snow in places broken up only be a few swaths of rocky ground. The lake was frozen over; the ice looking rather thick. Thankfully, there was no wind else the cold would have been dangerous. As it was though, it would likely not be wise for the group to remain out in the open air.

    Perhaps the most striking things was the fact that sooner or later, they would all realize that the barrier that had contained them and likely protected them from the Valterrian, was gone. They had what appeared to be free movement. They would find though that they could not interact with anything around them fully although some things provided a unique way of manipulation. If they tried to pick somethings up, their hands passed right through. Other things, they would find that they could manipulate the echoes of said items. The walls of the barred passage. Yet, whoever would attempt it, would find that the doors to the shrine would open in a unique way. Reaching out and gripping the handles on the doors, an ethereal echo of the doors would open while the physical ones remained sealed. This would allow passage through the doors with their echo soon fading and vanishing.

    Inside the shrine, things are not exactly majestic or glorious in any way. The first thing noticed is a large open chamber that may have once been the main worship hall. There are a handful of makeshift cots lining the walls; apparently made from scrap wood likely taken from the pews that would have once sat in the center of the hall. There is a hearth on one wall although there is no fire. The walls are discolored in places where there would have once hung tapestries and paintings which were likely scavenged to provide materials for burning or other forms of survival. Everything looks aged and worn with a few piles of clothing piled near the cots. In the center of the hall is a replica of the crystal shard in the Temple of the Black Sun albeit much smaller. There is a small stone altar in front of the shard. On the back wall, there are two doorways that may have once had actual doors although they seem to have long since been taken down and repurposed.

    Kneeling in front of the shrine, his back to the shrine doors, is a figure dressed in tattered, filthy robes that may have once been white hemmed in black. Further examination reveals that the man has long since died, frozen in place by death and the cold that permeates the shrine interior. The strange white stone on his hand had turned gray and was cracked.

    Exploration of the shrine will reveal that one of the rooms to the back may have once been used for storage. There are a few empty shelves and open barrels and crates whose contents look to have long been taken and used for whatever needs may have arisen.

    The other room looks like a living quarters, probably belonging to the Caretaker. There is a simple bed, a wardrobe filled with a few worn and tattered white robes hemmed in black, a desk and chair and a chest at the foot of the bed. The walls there are also devoid of décor and everything looks aged. The chest has a lock on it but any attempts to open it will result in one’s hands passing through it.

    Rohka would find what appears to be a journal on the desk. It is open and anyone who tries to touch it will find an echo of the book able to be manipulated. This echo is semi-ethereal but able to be read.

    Much of the early entries detail mundane events of various days. Feelings and thoughts of its writer and meditations on the nature of evil. It talks about how the writer, the Caretaker, sought to teach those who came to him seeking an understanding of all the dark things that had happened to them or that they had engaged in. The Caretaker seemed to have a great desire to help these people understand that good and evil were all a matter of perspective and that what one person saw as evil, another saw as just. He wanted to show them that it wasn’t the gods that influenced a person to take one action or another and that it was the person that created their own reality; that the gods were merely a reflection of the reality that is created by people as a whole. The journal delved greatly into the Caretakers grasp of religion and philosophy.

    The final entry is what stood out most however.

    This is the last time I will write in this journal. I am dying. The shrine is dying. In the ten years since the day it all ended, I have tried to keep things together. Twenty people survived that day only to be faced with the inevitable. Nothing lives here anymore. There are no plants, no animals, nothing remains; it is nothing but ash. I have used what gifts I have been given to provide sustenance for the survivors but I have long since overgiven with my magic. I hear voices that are not there, I see things that cannot be. I know the signs, I am losing it. I buried the last survivor but two days ago. Rhysol…he has been with us the entire time, providing what blessings he could but I fear that he too was hurt by whatever happened those years ago. While he has spoken to me many times since, he sounds distant, as if speaking from worlds away. He told me that a horrible mistake was made and that Ivak, God of Fire and Emotion, unleashed his rage against the world for the murder of his mortal lover. The world is not over he said but that it was forever changed. He implored me to send a select few of the survivors out into the world to find a way to rebuild; to seek out others and do what was necessary to save everything that remained. In return, I chose the only ones who I thought could survive. I sent my wife and my five children away from here. It almost killed me to do so. Yet…this place has since become a tomb. In the days and years following the devastation, I lost several to the cold and to the despair of it all. I couldn’t bare to watch my family die the same way. I pray that Rhysol protects them and ensures their safety. The blessings I have been given cannot die here. Although I may pass, I hope that my family is able to use the gifts I have passed on to them to create a better world from the ashes of the old one. I know I have not always been a good person. In fact, I was a monster. Murder, lies and betrayal were what I knew. They are what kept me alive those hundreds of years ago. When Rhysol appeared to me and offered me a new life, I thought, why not. He and the woman, Sasha, his Voice, offered me a chance to be something more than what I was and to serve a greater purpose. I took that offer and have never regretted it. For centuries I have taught people to embrace who they are and to understand all the things that society views as evil. I hope that I have done Rhysol proud. As I write this, I can feel my immortality fading along with the power of this shrine. Let it be known to anyone who may read this that I served Rhysol with all that I am and strived to help the mortals in my charge know that good, evil, truth and lies are all connected; that there cannot be one side without the other and that understanding that fact will make them stronger, better people, for one side or the other. Malie, my love, I miss you. My children, Talia, Firen, Nasha, Mave, Toren and Heral, I hope you find a good life despite the terrors I know surround you.

    For Sevris, he will find of all things, a teddy bear stashed amidst a pile of discarded cloths next to one of the makeshift cots. It looks to have once had fur on it but the fur appears to have been rubbed off by a child who petted it to much. There is a leather collar on it with a name sewn into it, “Terry” it reads. Although he is unable to move it from its place, when he touches it his mind is filled with the image of a young girl, no more than 5 years of age. Whenever she was afraid or nervous, she held Terry close to her and all those feelings went away. She had been a victim of abuse by her father before coming to the Shrine. She died of sickness brought on by the conditions in the shrine but did so in peace thanks to the bear.

    Hollis discovers a piece of an old tapestry at the base of the hearth. It has burnt edges and at first glance is nothing special. Closer inspection would reveal a bloodstain over what was once the face of someone. Touching it fills the mind with an image of a young man reaching up and pulling down a great tapestry depicting an image of Rhysol, much like the visage seen in the Temple of the Black Sun. The image of Rhysol is reaching down with his hand and presenting an elaborately carved black box to someone. The someone isn’t all that clear but the box sports a carving of spider on one of its sides. The piece of tapestry is of course an echo and the physical form remains at the base of the hearth.

    Shiress finds, in the Caretaker’s chamber, a hatch in the floor. There is a handle and a pair of hinges. If she were to reach out for the handle, an echo of the hatch would be able to be opened revealing a set of stone stairs leading down.

    Hauk, his survival senses active, touches a single piece of wood laying on the floor and his mind is filled with images of how the survivors of the catastrophe used the pews in the shrine as firewood as wells as materials for beds. They made do with the materials at hand and used whatever they could to survive. They made beds and used everything else to keep the hearth going for heat. He saw how the Caretaker used magic from his own body to create food while taxing his own physical and mental health in the process.

    Caspian stepped on what looked to be a chewed piece of leather on the ground. When he did, he was given an image of a dog, once proud and refined, turned mangy and malnourished. The dog was a constant companion, despite its waning health, to all who survived within the shrine. He was even able to once bring back a rabbit to the survivors. His name was Charl and he belonged to the Caretaker. He died thankfully of old age after having been a needed boost of hope to the hopeless.

    After having a few bells worth of time to explore, the group would eventually hear something from outside. A hair-raising howl echoed from outside the shrine. It was answered by a guttural laugh.

    If they chose to look past the shrine doors, the scene that followed would only serve to raise the bar for strangeness even considering what they had witnessed thus far.

    Out on the ice of the frozen lake perhaps 20 yards away, stood a creature of pure horror. Standing nearly 8 feet tall and massively obese, the creature had an unhealthy greenish tint to his otherwise unwashed, sore covered flesh. He was bald with a small bulbous nose and an overly wide mouth full of sharp teeth. It was dressed only in long black skirt slitted up the sides to allow his tree-trunk sized legs some range of movement.

    Several yards away from his stood a wolf. This was not just any wolf, it was easily eight feet at the shoulder and twenty feet from nose to tail and colored silver and grey. It was larger than even the biggest of Talderian wolves.
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    Gillar
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