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A Journey of Three Thousand Miles

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A Journey of Three Thousand Miles

Post  Eddick the Steady (XIV) on Sat Aug 23, 2014 12:08 pm

It was a hot day for Novastacia and a light beading of sweat was visible on the Magister's brow in the late afternoon. It was unusual to see him on the streets so whispers preceded him and the people on the street stepped aside to give him room. Even though he did a great service to the city by teaching anyone willing how to read and the free classes had brought prosperity to many, people were still more afraid of him than friendly toward him, which suited him just fine. He didn't want more popular support than the king, as that would just cause problems.

The problem came with the fact that he would soon not be in Novastacia and he would be in a large city where his reputation wouldn't keep people at bay. But enjoying the comforts of home is no reason to exclusively stay there, so he steeled himself against the prospect of the rigors of travel. It was possible he was preparing himself for the wrong thing, but he had traveled very little and he was inexperienced when it came to this kind of thing.

Planning for the trip was tedious. All of the spells that were needed were only available to the Magister once per day. All of them were potent and spells that didn't come naturally to him. Dracean, however had been of particular help. His ability and willingness to scry some of the locations was invaluable and a great save on the Sorcerer's busy schedule. He had patience but it seemed like it took longer than it should have even with the Druid's help. He was on the lookout for ways to increase his power, or at least store it so that he could use it later. He had been playing around with the concept of making magical staves and there was hope there, but it was time to focus on other things.

If it weren't for the fact that he had capable people on his staff that could be trusted to make good decisions in his absence this trip would be impossible. All of his major projects were being attended to. The only thing he was slightly concerned about was that Sarala hadn't asked him about it. If she didn't ask, he assumed she already knew. And if she didn't want to talk about it, that could be bad. But the fact that she probably was upset about this was also a good sign, it meant she cared.

The steps into the castle were steeper than he remembered. Perhaps a little too much magical travel had made him soft. It had been a while since he had actually gone by in person, he had to pull the old coin trick with the guard to assure him he wasn't an impostor. It wasn't long before he was at her door. Hoping she was as ready as he was to go and assuming she was, he knocked sharply. "I'm here." He stated flatly as if he was making conversation about the weather.
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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Sun Aug 24, 2014 6:03 pm

"What do ya mean, 'we don't need a tent'?" The gravelly voice scoffed. "You think the bugs around here are bad?! Oh, and they are, don't get me wrong now, but you just wait until the weather turns so hot n' sticky you kin barely breathe! I hear tell that there's skeeters that'll carry you away down in such places!"

Sitting on her bed a few minutes before their appointed meeting time, Wynnsaren listened patiently with her hands folded in her lap, and eyed her small pack of gear resting by her side. She still didn't consider it lacking in spite of the passionate bluster.

"The Magister will be teleporting us from city to city," she offered in reply, "so we should not need to concern ourselves over trekking through the jungle overmuch."

Kazimir swatted an unruly lock of salt and pepper hair from his forehead. "And what if he's off?" Deliberately, the double meaning was left hanging in the air. It was no surprise to Wynn that he held no love for Zaistrun. He barely knew the sorcerer, and not knowing someone was enough to earn Kaz's immediate dislike and distrust. She hoped that was all it was. . .

"I have faith that Lord Garess will not be off," she couldn't help a grin, "but if something inauspicious were to happen then we will have his rope trick to fall back upon."

Eyes reminiscent of steel in both color and hardness, narrowed at his self-appointed charge.

"What. . .trick?"

"He uses his magic to conjure a rope in mid-air that we can climb up to be safe inside an invisible extradimensional space."

The ranger blanched at the brief description she gave and then started in on what could be described as just this side of a tirade.

"Oh yes, THAT sounds safe! So what yer sayin' is that after he misses the mark and dumps us in the middle of some gods' forsaken, sweat-soaked, bug infested level of the hells, that he'll simply create a hole in the SKY. . . No, no, the PLANE, that we'll be shovin' ourselves into for the night to hope that he'll be able to find the door in the morning? Hope that this invisible box won't just disappear with us in it?!"

"Precisely," Wynnsaren smiled brilliantly.

With a groan and a few muffled expletives, the seasoned old ranger strapped the rolled up tent onto his pack anyway.

Kazimir had been on a veritable rampage since he arrived a half hour earlier to find her packed and ready to depart for the dark jungles of the Mwangi with naught but a single sack slung over her back. What he saw as an abominable lack of preparation, she saw as a wealth of supplies. After all, she'd had to pick up and restart her life on more than one occasion with a lot less than what was contained in that backpack, and the idea of shuffling about like a mule in that heat simply did not hold any appeal.

So they'd spent the extra time going over each and every item that they'd packed, and a good deal of time blustering about what they hadn't. She had not seen her friend this worked up in quite some time! Wynn knew him well enough to know that when the bluster increased, so too did his excitement, so clearly (to her at least), Kazimir couldn't wait to be on their way to visit new lands, in spite of the unconventional method of travel. Surely she couldn't be projecting.

However, there was no excitement that could rival what the aasimar was feeling in those moments before their adventure began. Not only had a journey been long overdue, but what she really wanted. . . What her heart and mind had been seeking for nearly two years now, she hoped would soon be within reach.

Answers.

It was then that they heard the rapping and the familiar monotone drawl as the Magister announced himself. Sensing the vibrations, the rubbery blue space lion rose and stretched out his powerful limbs and accompanied his mistress to the door.

Wynnsaren beamed up at the man as she flung the door wide. "Good afternoon, Lord Garess! We are packed and ready to go!" She pointedly ignored the grumbles coming from further into the room. "Is everything ready for our departure?"

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Zaistrun Garess

Post  Eddick the Steady (XIV) on Sun Aug 24, 2014 6:13 pm

The magister softened at the sight of the jubilant diplomat. Friends were those to whom he did not have to be so guarded. "I am prepared." He intoned, tapping his belt pouch and scroll cases. He carried no luggage, although he was equipped in his typical fashion. "I am not sure how long this will take us, but I've prepared to be away for three weeks. After that, we should have to schedule another trip if we haven't discovered what we need to find."

He took a short look over her shoulder and considered the extra contents of the room. He didn't know why she wanted to bring her dogs with her. One of them at least knew how to stay quiet. The other one however could be an issue. The last time he saw him, he had been disrespectful to the king. Zaistrun hoped that kind of disrespect wouldn't be an issue on this trip, but if she could convince an alien creature who had no known language to mind her, perhaps the man could be tamed as well. "We'll be making a few stops along the way so if you find you need to get anything else we won't be far from a large city."

Stepping into the room, he shut the door with a wave of his hand and locked it behind him. "We'll leave from here. I'd rather not make a fanfare about our departure." He turned around to face the aasimar and her attendants and extended his hands. "We'll need physical contact so I don't leave anyone behind."
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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Sun Aug 24, 2014 7:18 pm

Wynn wasted no time slinging her pack over her shoulders. She flashed few signs to the akata to be sure he understood, and glided to Zaistrun's right side, slipping her hand into his much larger one with no fear. No hesitation.

Such emotion was left entirely to Kaz.

There was clear reluctance in his grey eyes as he stepped to the Magister's left and clasped his hand, but Wynn saw in that haunted stare more fear than dislike or distrust. Clearly the prospect of teleportation bothered the crusty old ranger a good deal more than standing at Zaistrun's side. He hid his discomfort well, but Wynnsaren had known him too long not to sense such trepidation. She acted to aid him while still salvaging his pride.

"Keep your eyes on mine," she signed subtly to Kaz before reaching out her right hand to clasp one of Glas' tentacles. The man's jaw clenched so hard she thought his teeth might shatter, but he understood and his eyes locked on hers as another of the akata's tentacles snaked around the ranger's hand.

The oracle uttered a brief prayer to Desna, one of blessing over their travels and then glanced up at Zaistrun with a nod and a smile of pure trust and enthusiasm.

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Zaistrun Garess

Post  Eddick the Steady (XIV) on Thu Sep 11, 2014 9:43 pm

The sun suddenly beamed into their eyes as they stood on the crest of a grassy hill outside of a quaint little city. The magister shook off the disorientation and the bright sudden light. It was getting late in the afternoon, The grass was getting quite brown and nearby, the landscape was covered in vineyards. One old worker noted their sudden appearance and just smiled and shook her head getting back to tending the valuable fruit.

"Welcome to Sauerton." Zaistrun said with quite little of the welcoming spirit. "This first stop in our journey is known for it's wine, although the reputation it has is less than stellar." He started to lead them down the slope toward town. "This particular swill is well known for it's lack of quality, but there are still so many who care not for taste as much as it's capacity to make them fools that it sells quite well. It's low price also helps with that."

The town itself had a peculiar odor to it, something of a cross between a distillery and a pig farm with a hint of sawmill. Despite the lack of trees anywhere near the area, wooden planks and logs were all the city was made out of. They were shipped in by the caravan along with the barrels for the cheapest wine in Andoran.

"We have about two hours until sundown. Feel free to wander about. I'll get us some rooms at the Vineflower Inn. We will leave for Absalom in the morning."
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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Thu Sep 11, 2014 9:51 pm

The expected nausea rolled in like a sudden wave, but Wynnsaren held still and let it slide on past without too much disturbance. When she blinked open her clouded silver eyes she saw Kaz across from her still holding onto her gaze with a vice grip. And he was very, very green. . .

"Well done, my friend." She gave Zaistrun's hand a squeeze, brushing her thumb over the large peridot embedded in its back before he pulled away. Not for the first time, Wynn wondered how many of such stones might have presented themselves in twenty more years. Fifty years? Such a burden he carried for such a young man! Maybe if they were able to find this Pathfinder, Asterton, of whom she'd heard so much about, he could shed some much needed light on the subject.

As the sorcerer picked his way down the hill, Wynn turned and called forth a bit of magic to aid Kaz who was in dire peril of casting up his accounts. Immediately soothed, his natural color returned and he bobbed his head in thanks.

"Y'know, that spell could come in plenty handy around here if what he says about Sauerton's cheap wine is right," the ranger spoke has he offered her his arm. "The tavern patrons just might be willing to pay in order to keep their dinners in their bellies where it belongs."

Wynnsaren took his proffered arm, grimacing at the thought his comment invoked while the trio followed in Zaistrun's wake "I have no sympathy for those that would drink themselves under the table. I will however admit empathy for the poor barmaids that need to clean up after them. . . But no," her lips turned up into a teasing grin. "I believe I should keep such magics under wraps for our company's use alone and especially for dear old reprobates such as yourself who cannot handle their teleports."

"You're you callin' old?"

With a hrumph, Kazimir passed her the thin leather tether that connected to Glas' harness. The sorry restraint had no hope in the world of containing the powerful beast if he wanted to be loosed, and Wynn, hating the thought of leashing him at all, had never intended it to be so. There was something to be said for the visual though, giving the locals an understanding that the unusual beast was indeed directed in his actions.

When they passed into town, Zaistrun separated from the group to find the inn, leaving the other three to their own devices.


***

Two hours later, in the commonroom of the Vineflower Inn, the companions reconvened over dinner. The inn, whose pervasive decor was drawn from its name, was clean and comfortable with soft beds promising a very pleasant night sleep. After seeing some of the other establishments in town, Wynn was appreciative of the Magister's wise choice.

"So then they invited us to the Tattered Crown Tavern for dancing tonight!" Wynnsaren enthusiastically finished her tale of their tour of the small city and meeting her citizens, punctuating it by spearing a bit of tomato with her fork. "Do you think you will join us, Zaistrun? I do hope so! Maybe we can learn a dance or two to bring back to Akiros once our journey is complete."

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Zaistrun Garess

Post  Eddick the Steady (XIV) on Thu Sep 11, 2014 9:58 pm

Zaistrun considered the offer. He raised his hand about to decline, but then he remembered his shortness of breath on the stairs earlier that day. "Dancing is a lively exercise, isn't it. It wouldn't hurt to be more physically prepared for the rigors of travel. I will join you, but I must attend to an errand. Traica mentioned a changeling in town, and I mean to search her out."

"I mean to recruit her actually. Changelings often have magical gifts, and I'd like to help her nurture them in a good environment. We could always use more like her in Novastacia. Did I mention I recruited a Dhampir as well. Fascinating boy! He had no education whatsoever when I discovered him, and now he's soaking it all up like a sponge. It really is rewarding work this teaching. I know it was hard on mother because she held such great hopes for me and I wasn't what she expected." His eyes held a faraway look for a moment.

"In any case, I'll meet you over there in an hour or so. Are you taking Kas and Glas?"
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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Fri Sep 12, 2014 10:41 am

"They will be escorting me, yes," Wynn smiled with a sidelong glance at the elder man beside her. "I am still holding out hope that I might convince Kazimir to join me on the floor for a song or two."

The ranger, voice heavy with sarcasm, responded between sips of mint tea. "Oh aye, m'lady. And afterwards I'll be sure to show you the flying pig farm just up the way."

"Hmm. . . I see. Well fortunately for you," she waved a green bean in his general direction, "I am not so easily dissuaded!"

Kaz uttered a most long-suffering groan and returned to his roast pork.

Wynnsaren had half a mind to ask if that was the wing portion he was devouring but choosing not to provoke him further, she instead turned her attention back to the young man across from her.

"I am glad you are finding your work as instructor so worthwhile, my friend. You do certainly seem to have a gift for it. Perhaps if you are so inclined and provided of course that she is interested, you could invite your changeling prospect to the Tattered Crown tonight to visit with us. I would certainly love to meet her!"

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Zaistrun Garess

Post  Eddick the Steady (XIV) on Fri Sep 12, 2014 11:22 am

"The trouble with flying pigs isn't finding them, it's properly herding them. The tall fences are expensive, and very few creatures are cabable of the three-dimensional maneuvering that is necessary to keep them in check as well as have the intelligence and fortitude to do so." Zaistrun didn't look directly at Kaz when he made the statement, but he could feel the heat of his gaze indirectly.

The Magister watched the Diplomat depart with her retinue leave soon after supper was over. Spending time with Wynn always seemed to brighten his spirits. She was a good friend, but not simply to him. She shone in every room she happened to be in. No wonder the king was enamored with her. He just hoped it wouldn't ruin the future of the kingdom. It was probably good that she had fallen in love with another. Zaistrun knew well enough that he wasn't good enough for her, but trying to talk a friend out of something like that never really goes well.

He waited a good half hour after supper, listening to idle chat of some of the patrons before he became despairing of good company and walked outside to enjoy the night air. The wind from the hills smelled sweet and had a fragrance that was quite pleasant and it spoke it's whispers to his tired ears. He walked with purpose up to the very hill they arrived at that afternoon. As he approached the summit, there was a scuffle of noise before him as if some wild animals were fleeing the approach of a predator to their bedding area, which of course was exactly what was going on.

Two teenagers bolted upright and the male began a sprint through the darkness looking for another hole to hide in. What was left was a smallish young lady, loosely dressed looking at the intruder with a mixture of fear and hate. Her hackles rose and she went on the offensive. She took her claw-like nails and tore at the man standing in front of her hoping to gouge his eyes, but was unable to connect in the darkness.

The intruder's hand grabbed her wrist with surprising strength. "Settle down before you do something you regret. After all you don't know why I came out here to see you, do you Rewlyn?

The girl stopped in her offensive action. "How do you know my name?" She was a bit taken aback, and also a bit ashamed of her temper.

"Traica told me your name. I have come because I can offer you the power you seek without the price your mother wants you to pay."

"The hells you say?" The young girl squinted at him in the darkness.

"Hell has nothing to do with my offer. Traica wants you to come live with her, and I will teach you magic. You'll have a special tutor and many others like you who have no other place to learn. If you refuse this offer, you'll either become a hag like your mother and you will lose your natural beauty in exchange for power, or you will die in obscurity. One think I can tell you, that a man who will run instead of defend you or stand with you is not worthy of you."

She gave him an incredulous look, kicking back one foot and balancing it sheepishly on her toe. "And I suppose you are?" She dared.

Zaistrun shook his head gravely and gave a disappointed sigh. "I am interested in cultivating your talent, not your womb. I will contact you in a month and you can tell me if you are serious." He still held onto her wrist, but now held it more firmly. "I'd suggest you head back to town, but you'll probably come up with some scheme to worsen my mood further so you'll come back with me."

Her eyes narrowed and her face was about to raise her objection when they vanished. Appearing in between two buildings in town, he let go of her hand as she was starting to feel sick from the transport. "Tell your father about my offer." He walked over and knocked at one of the doors in the alleyway and a tired looking man opened the door.

"Yes?" he said groggily, rubbing one eye when he noticed the girl behind him. "Rewlyn? What are you doing outside? We've got to be up in five hours!"

"I'll leave this to you." He told the man, then turned back to the young thing holding her stomach and looking a bit ashamed. "One month. Figure out what you want." And then he left.

The Tattered Crown was only a short walk from the alley where he had appeared, and he made it to the door, still able to hear the irate man yelling at his daughter. He went inside and noticed the crowd all making room for the most beautiful woman any of them had ever seen on the dance floor, carrying on and learning steps while the music played from a trio of musicians in the far corner. Kaz was watching the door along with Glas, neither garnering the attention that the aasimar did without even trying.

The magister knifed his way through the crowd without uttering a word and he grabbed the hand of a random lady in the crowd who was quite willing to follow him to the dance floor, although a man who was there seemed a mite upset at the idea. She was middle aged, but fit and seemed like she would know the steps as well. "You'll have to teach me the steps, but do not fear. I will learn it so I can lead my companion over there. We'll also presently show you a dance from our homeland, Novastacia."
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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Fri Sep 12, 2014 12:56 pm

9th of Arodus, 4713

The sun came screaming up over the horizon at far too early an hour in Wynnsaren's mind.  With a groan, she pulled the starry cloak over her head in a vain attempt to muffle the noise.  It was probably a mistake she had to concede, to stay up well past the wee hours of the morning with more travel yet ahead of them on this day but yet she could not regret the enjoyable evening that was spent.  

Dancing had been wonderful.  The Tattered Crown boasted a boisterous clientele with lively music and while Kazimir yet clung to his stance on joining her, Zaistrun had proved to be a splendid partner.  The gifted young sorcerer quickly learned the local dances and was technically perfect as they demonstrated those of Novastasia, allowing Wynn to use his formal structure as a springboard for her more unfettered style.  Such movement flowed from her as easy as breathing.  Truly it was equally a part of who she was.  Few things in life brought her as much joy as being able to exercise that innate desire -- that freedom of living completely in the moment and laying aside the weight of duty and burden.

Once the revelry wound to a close, the foursome had gone back to their rooms at the Vineflower to sleep.  Such was the intention.  It was not long however, before the restless aasimar found herself wrapped in her cloak, laughing and chasing an akata through the rows of vineyards on the outskirts of town.  That should have been enough, and would have been if the songs in the night sky from this more southerly vantage hadn't captured her interest so thoroughly.  She'd spent the remaining hours of consciousness hanging out the window to listen to the stars and note their positions in her journal.  A sort of personal star chart.  Unintelligible to others, it allowed her to recreate thoroughly accurate star charts in the more standard fashion, for those who could actually see the evening lights.

One could not fight the dawn forever.  

Rolling out of bed at this hour was never ideal but poor decisions last night made it worse this morning.  Glas seemed to fare little better, sprawled out on his back as he was with his tentacles fanned out over his head, and he did not deign to move until Wynn had washed and dressed and tapped her staff on the floor to demand that he join her.

"Tea please," she called to a maid as they rolled down the stairs.  "And porridge or something of the like."

Wynnsaren spied her companions haunting the same table which they'd shared the previous night, and with a smile -- if somewhat muted by exhaustion, she joined them.  Kaz' looked up from his plate of pork, his eyes studying her before his mouth set into a hard line.  To his credit he said nothing for the moment.  

"Forgive me if we are trifle late gentlemen, but I am prepared to disembark as soon as we have breakfasted."  She lifted her gaze across the table toward Zaistrun, who appeared too handsome by half for this unholy hour and looked as alert as if he'd rested for a full day.  Wynn muttered her second groan of the morning.  

The pot of tea came and she wasted no time in ushering it from pot to cup to lips.

"So where is our next port of call, Lord Garess?"

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Zaistrun Garess

Post  Eddick the Steady (XIV) on Fri Sep 12, 2014 2:01 pm

The Aasimar staggered into the dining room but somehow managed to do it in an endearing way. It was as if it were impossible for her to offend. The waitstaff sprang into action to take care of her breakfast, even though Kaz had ordered another plate of eggs some time ago. But even he didn't seem to mind since the sunshine had come into the room.

"Next we are off to the greatest city in the world: Absalom. Home of the Pathfinders and one of the largest ports in the world as well as the holy city of Aroden. It's also the place where we do not have everything we need to proceed. We need to find someone who has been to somewhere in Thuvia and get them to help us. But since you have a knack for that very thing, so I do not foresee too much difficulty there." He motioned to her breakfast which had been swiftly arranged. She had oatmeal with six kinds of fruit in it and walnuts as well. She also had a cup of grape juice, sourdough bread slathered with grape jelly and a cup of milk freshly squeezed.

"In any case we'll spend two days and two nights in the mighty city, one so I can scry our next location and then I'll need to rest before we can travel again by magic." Zaistrun took a bite of his own oatmeal which only came with year old raisins and none of the other amenities that the aasimar's breakfast held. He waved a hand and made it taste exactly like he preferred it: with freshly pitted black cherries. "Once we are done here, I'd like to return to the hill before we leave. We'll be coming back this way and I don't want to unnecessarily startle anyone in town."

---

After she had finished milking the cows, she stepped outside the barn for a quick breather. She went over to the well and pumped up some fresh cool water, splashing her face with the refreshing liquid. "Would you look at that!" The farmhands were jawing instead of working again. "How could those nobles from up north travel to Absalom today?" "I know they're terribly good at dancing, but wait, how'd they get here in the first place?" "Weren't they friends of Traica?" Suddenly it all clicked in her head.

And then she spotted them walking through the fields, that sorcerer and his entourage. Rewlyn shook out her red curls and started bounding after him ready to give him a piece of her mind. She stopped short though, after getting a glimpse of them from a short distance. The surly old one gave her an eye of warning but it was hardly needed. She was transfixed. They were spellbinding together, him escorting her up the hill, she with a ready smile and a musical laugh.

She cursed herself for being so forward. She wasn't even close to that nobleman's league. He was so far beyond her it was as if he didn't belong to this crude earth, neither could the woman next to him. She was so elegant and... there were no more words. If she could be like that, just for one day... She would have to take his invitation. What they had was so much more appealing than the idea of being a hag. Maybe, someday, she could be like that too. And then they just disappeared. She knew how, that man could just go places he wanted. Perhaps she should have asked his name...
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Post  Wynnsaren on Fri Sep 12, 2014 10:17 pm

The City at the Center of the World.

If there was a more apt name for the great city of Absalom, she couldn't conceive of it as awestruck as she was with each new glimpse that came into view. Nestled between Avistan, Garund and Casmaron, the bustling metropolis was not only geologically central, but it was a great center of trade for every nation of which Wynnsaren had ever heard! Arts, Culture, Education; all pursuits were epitomized in this place and challenged visitor and local alike to pursue their individual occupations and avocations with ever greater devotion.

Finally, and the point that struck the aasimar above all others, was the overwhelming sense that this city was the nucleus of all human kind.

The four companions arrived on a patch of grassy lawn beside a great iron gate emblazoned with the Glyph of the Open Road. The Grand Lodge of the Pathfinder Society. Much more than a lodge, those companions gifted with day-sight observed through the open gate the seven great fortresses encircled by a stone wall, including a soaring, white, five-towered palace that dwarfed all others.

They had arrived in the Foreign Quarter, which was only learned after numerous tries to inquire of passers by who were terribly busy hastening hither and yon. None gave the group any more than a passing glance, if that. It was odd for the akata not to elicit a double-take or two, but the citizens of Absalom were completely inured to anything out of the ordinary, for here in the city at the center of the world, out of the ordinary was completely ordinary! Camels seemed to be the favored mode of transportation from district to district, and the companions hopped aboard a long bench wagon pulled by two of the ornery beasts, that was ferrying people down the major streets of the city.

Wynnsaren's eyes were opened wide, as if willing them to see more than her limitations allowed and she badgered Kaz tirelessly, imploring him to paint her mental pictures for what her eyes left unseen. The grizzled ranger, to his credit, obliged in his own succinct way but wordsmith he was not. She knew of one man in particular possessing of such talents and, if Fate be kind, resolved to one day visit Absalom at his side.

By the time they arrived at the Crimson Coin, with the crush of traffic in the streets and the sheer size of the city, over an hour had passed and they hadn't even left the district. Rooms were arranged and they occupied a table for a short while to refresh and reorient themselves to the vastly different surroundings in which they'd spent the previous night.

The goal was to find someone who had visited Thuvia so that Zaistrun could get a bead on the location of their next jump. Surely, in such a place, finding such a person could not prove overly difficult, but their agreement to aid them was another matter. Coin was always a great motivator. As such, it was decided to pay a visit to The Coins, the district housing The Grand Bazaar, to try to find a merchant selling goods from that region or perhaps an alchemist who had studied his trade in the famed city state of Merab.

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Zaistrun Garess

Post  Eddick the Steady (XIV) on Fri Sep 12, 2014 10:19 pm

It took a couple of hours to find the right talkative merchant. The magister and diplomat kept him talking and only bought two gold worth of fish to be able to garner a good number of names from the port town of Merab in Thuvia. Zaistrun was looking for a person particularly foolish and dim-witted, since they usually had little resistance to being scryed with his spell, which was easily procured. The only problem was he had to wait until tomorrow to do it and after noon came around, they were fresh out of business. They found a street vendor to cook their fish and absently chatted about what to do next.

Zaistrun suggested that they do some extra shopping, as he had brought some currency with him for that express purpose. There was no better place to find treasures for sale than the Isle of Kortos. After buying some presents for Sarala, they picked up a few items and a couple things he had been needing for his research.

On the way back to their hotel they took a long glance at the Starstone Cathedral from which four gods emerged. They found a local orator who spoke of Aroden, Norgorber, Iomedae, and Cayden Cailean, and their connection to the cathedral. The presentation was shorter than Zaistrun would have liked, as it had very little information about the Starstone itself, but it was a fascinating stop. Especially since what they were researching was the orb which had a touch of the divine in the midst of it, the only way to get a look at the Starstone was to pass the test. Someday, perhaps.

The next day after an early morning successful scry, the diplomat and their entourage took a carriage ride out to an outlying Axebeak farm to do some exotic riding. They learned how to lead the bestial birds and spent the majority of the afternoon riding in the Cairnlands and hearing about ancient wars and sieges. There were no horses on the Isle of Kortos due to the fact that the centaurs who lived also in the Cairnlands considered it an affront. They didn't meet up with any centaurs on this day, but they saw a herd of them from a distance. The farmer/guide they were with was on good relations with them for the most part, and they finished their ride unmolested.

Early the next morning they regrouped, having a soreness due to the fact that the Axebeak riding used different muscles than horse riding did and it was not long before they were looking at the dock district of Merab. Zaistrun led them quickly over toward the large cathedral in town which just happened to be devoted to Sarenrae. After having a pleasant conversation with a priest there, they found lodging at a nearby inn and stayed out of the hot desert sun until evening where they found a few changes of clothing for the different climates of Garund as well as some local flavor.

Early the next morning they were off to Nantambu, and what they found there was something perhaps neither of them expected.
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Post  Wynnsaren on Fri Sep 12, 2014 10:32 pm

11th of Arodus, 4713


The last leg of their journey was decidedly the most dramatic in regard to change of climate. Leaving the dry, arid heat of Thuvia, the foursome found themselves suddenly standing upon a grassy field just west of the city proper, immersed in the oppressive, clinging humidity of the Mwangi Expanse. Blessedly, there was something of a breeze. Nantambu was located just off the River Vanji where it knifed through the thick jungle canopy, leaving the large city open to the sky above.

Wynnsaren had prepared for the much warmer climes, pulling her hair into a tight braid that rested on the crown of her head like a dark halo, and wearing a lightly woven linen dress of sky blue, with a purple sash cinched at her waist. Long, loose sleeves were meant to deter insect bites, but if Kazimir's earlier warnings came to fruition, than it was likely the proboscises of said creatures were more akin to the size of a heavy lance. She prayed that was exaggeration.

Lastly, the aasimar wore the magical starry cloak gifted her by the very man whose mysteries had drawn them here, over three thousand miles from the land they currently called home. The mysteries of Master Winter were not the only ones that permeated her mind upon arrival. This place. . . It verily thrummed with the power of old magic. Wynn had been in such places before, where magics as ancient as the stones she stood upon had left their mark upon the world. And she was not the only one to feel it. Even Glas beside her suddenly stood stock still. Not in the seeing of something that caused him to pause, but in the sensing of it.

A glance over to the young sorcerer told her that at least one other of her companions acknowledged the latent power of the place.

Once the wave of expected teleportation nausea passed and Kaz, though slightly green, waved off her cure, Wynn turned with a beaming smile to address Zaistrun.

"Well done, my friend! I had every faith that we would arrive at our destination without incident." She ignored the ranger's gravelly hrumph and continued. "Onara informed that Sharrowsmith Exports is located on the northern edge of the city but as eager as I am to attend to this business, I am completely amenable to taking in the sights and getting a feel for the place first if you so wish.

"However," she quirked a corner of her mouth, "while I have magic that will allow me to understand the native language of this region, I do not, I fear, have anything that would allow me to speak it. Give me a few days and I might be able to produce a few intelligible sentences here or there but that is of no help to us at the moment. Do you have access to such a spell that could bridge the language barrier in the interim?"

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Zaistrun Garess

Post  Eddick the Steady (XIV) on Fri Sep 12, 2014 10:37 pm

It was overwhelmingly oppressively hot. Thuvia was hot, but it gave you a mercy by allowing your sweat to evaporate and cool you off. As long as you stood out of the sun, you could last until nightfall, but this, this was different. As wave after wave of heat rolled over him, he wondered if the hells truly had a place in Garund, and they had stepped hip deep into it.

After the initial reaction to the weather, something piqued his interest. There was waterways that went right through town. It distracted him enough from the heat until he was able to realize he could ignore this like he could ignore many things in pursuit of his goals. He put his revulsion of the environment to the side and started to really look at the place.

Merab had a quality to it as well, but not like this place. Merab was a city where the knowledge was fresh and clean. The Sun Orchid Elixir was something recently discovered and was wrapped up in a exciting rush for money and power. When compared with other, more ancient magics of which he was fairly well acquainted, it seemed trite or like a fad more than a place one would go to for wisdom.

Here, despite the heat, seemed like a place of old magic. It was thicker than the atmosphere, deeper than the roots of the mountains. Zaistrun was suddenly very glad he had offered to take her here.

When she asked him about magics to understand the language, he suddenly realized what he had been forgetting since the beginning of the trip and there was a sinking feeling in his stomach. All this height of emotion took a toll on him and he instead shut everything down for a short time. "I'm afraid I don't have anything to help us unless we find someone who can translate for us. Perhaps we should go inside the Pathfinder villa here and inquire. I'm sure a translator wouldn't be terribly difficult and right now would be a cheaper option than purchasing magical help."

He gestured toward the canals in the midst of the city. "It also seems we might need help just getting around. I've never been in a place with more canals than roads. In any case, when I did my scouting of the area it was right next to The Export place so it should be..." He looked off to his left, seeing a sign, he reached into his pocket and pulled out some spectacles. Placing them on, he continued. "... right over there. Shall we?"

They crossed a wide bridge, heading to the east. There was a large building made of old stone and the noise made it sound like there was a crowd there. A place bustling with customers, it seemed. His resolve faltered for just a moment as he realized that it was likely that the almost overwhelming heat would be added to a maddening crowd bartering and bickering. It was the last place he would like to spend time, but necessity spoke louder than his inhibitions and he continued without losing stride.
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Post  Wynnsaren on Wed Sep 17, 2014 4:52 pm

"Slow down a moment," Wynn pleaded gently, laying her hand on the sorcerer's sleeve briefly as they hustled along. Taking a pinch of something from a small pocket concealed in her sash, she rubbed it between her fingers before blowing it before them toward the crowded courtyard ahead. The raucous calls of merchants hawking their wares and citizens conversing and examining the produce and commodities at stalls suddenly became completely intelligible to her ears.

"No need to rush about and exert ourselves overmuch in this heat," she continued on. "Besides, I need a chance to get my bearings and perhaps even pick up some words that will help us."

Their little band tacked through the crowds with relative ease. The citizens of Nantambu, not being nearly as jaded as those of Absalom, gave the akata a wide berth consequently giving the newcomers a bit more breathing room as well. The whole scene was awash in a riot of color. Bazaar stalls were shaded with brightly colored awnings and everyone was wearing garments that seemed to challenge their neighbor with the intense vibrancy of hue. It was a beautiful sight. Raucous. Spirited.

As her clouded eyes greedily drank in everything they could see, the aasimar's ears devoured the language flowing from the conversations going on all around them. The spell gave her the ability to understand but not speak. That was half the battle. Besides, comprehension allowed her to at least hear and pick out words to quickly memorize and use as needed. She hoped to gain, if not fluency in polyglot, than certainly a goodly step onto that road in whatever time the gods saw fit to grant them in this place.

"Yes. ndiyo," Wynnsaren repeated softly for the benefit of her companions as well as herself. "Business. biyashara.

"Oh! Fried locusts in honey!" Tugging her companions over to a booth draped in purple and crimson, she watched a woman ahead of them purchase some for her young son. Plunking down the same amount -- a couple of copper coins, she grinned at the elderly, dark-skinned proprietor. "Nzige?"

She completely butchered the pronunciation of the word for locusts, but was understood well enough and walked away with a banana leaf rolled into a cone and stuffed with the crispy little insects.

"Speak. kusema." She merrily continued the practice between munches. "No. hakuna.

As much as Wynn was enjoying herself among the throng, her two male companions and even the quadrupedal one were clearly uncomfortable, be it the heat, the press of bodies, or both. The heat was stifling. . . Even moreso within the bazaar here where the breeze didn't as easily penetrate. Best to make due with what she had and hope the undercover Pathfinder spoke some form of Common!

The stone lodge, whose brightly painted signage proclaimed it, Sharrowsmith's Exports, backed up against the bazaar. They pushed through a set of double doors carved of dark teak and entered into a large, shaded room with a desk at the front. The man sitting at the desk and behind a thick stack of sundry paperwork, appeared to be human and in his middling thirties. Nationality was more difficult to gauge however. He was heavily tanned. Weathered even, with warm brown locks that had been bleached nearly blond at the ends from exposure to the sun. Deeply set, intelligent eyes lifted to regard them beneath a wide brow and above a strong aquiline nose upon which a pair of silver-rimmed spectacles were pinched at the bridge.

Considering her audience, the aasimar decided to take a chance on Common first.

"Greetings, sir," she inclined her head graciously. "I am called Wynnsaren and these are my companions Lord Garess and Kazimir. We have come from Novastasia in northern Avistan to speak with Nieford Sharrowsmith on a matter of business. Might he be available?"

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Sharrowsmith

Post  The Sub-Creator on Sat Oct 04, 2014 1:19 pm

"Dat right, den?" the man replied in heavily-accented Common. Both his heritage and speech had apparently fallen victim to a number of years within the Expanse. Deciphering his origins now appeared to be a thought intensive labor of love. Especially his accent, which seemed to be a conglomerate of half-a-dozen dialects blended together so thoroughly as to become unique to him alone. "You cough, he crows, luv?" he snickered, flashing his deep-set, golden eyes toward the one she'd introduced as Lord Garess.

"And what's dis?" Those eyes settled on the alien creature behind them. "Novastasia found in de sea, it is? Dey breed a strange forma kraken in dem parts, dey do, hey?" His laugh burst out in two staccato guffaws that felt almost forced save for the gleam of mirth that genuinely danced in his eyes. "But what's dis? You say norden Aveestan, and ain't nuffin' dere but Mists and Veils, hey? Demons lost demselves dere, hey? An' I know you not bring one o' dem down wit you, no? It far too pretty for dat, ha!"

The man grinned wider than his face should have allowed, as if inviting the lot of his visitors to do the same, then queried, "Who you in need of redeeming, hey? Fancy names dat mean somefin' always got good stories to 'comp'ny dem, no? We got plenty in need of redemption in Nantambu, I say! Den you tell me what bus'ness you have, yeah? Must be int'resting to send a lord all this way!"

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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Mon Oct 06, 2014 2:32 pm

"Redemption?" A delicate brow quirked northward, latching hold of the insightful question after mentally grappling with such foreign colloquialisms and his peculiar manner of speech. "Yes, perhaps so, though that remains yet to be seen."

It could indeed be what she was questing for in Rasven's stead. His servant Lis once confided in her that the master was searching for something in the Mwangi. Could uncovering information on this orb help him to break that devil-penned curse that bound him so thoroughly? Redemption. The reclamation of his life! Only the enigmatic Master Winter knew for certain and due to that very same curse, he was unable to share. The final words he'd uttered on the subject during their second meeting so long ago, still echoed in her ears with the significance with which they were imbued.

"As it gave you sight, so too does it give me hope. . ."

Since that evening, a little knowledge had been gleaned about the artifact from the Pathfinders and the tallest of the men standing by her side. Wynnsaren learned it to be a variation on an Eye Orb. A much more powerful variation. According to Onara, the Pathfinder guild leader in Akiros, no known orbs should have allowed her to see that distance to the sunset but yet, somehow -- this one had. Beyond even that, she was informed that only someone vastly powerful would have been able to activate that ability of the orb. Someone possessing of truly legendary capabilities! It seemed that the more she learned about this item, the more she learned about Rasven. Barring all else, that alone would have been enough for her to devote any spare time she might have to its research.

Onara further disclosed that she believed the orb's origins could lie here within Nantambu, a city whose origin of magical learning could be traced to the same source. Old-Mage Jetembe. It was explained that after the Starstone fell and destroyed the ancient civilizations of these lands, it was Jatembe and his magic warriors that strived to cultivate civilization and learning in the wake of destruction. She thought it probable that it was Jatembe himself that created this artifact. Its power had been drained during that gift of sight Rasven had granted her, but she also believed that this power could be restored at the source. Wynn hoped -- fervently prayed, that Onara was right and that answers could be found here, but that also yet remained to be seen.

"Lord Garess is a good friend, truly, to volunteer for such an expedition so far from home," Wynnsaren grinned back at the man. Tapping the end of Glas' nose with her finger, she offered a handful of locusts and the yawning maw of his mouth materialized, accepting the morsels with relish.

"It is the search for information on a particular subject that brings us to Nantambu -- to Mister Sharrowsmith's doorstep, and I have every reason to hope that yes, he will find it quite interesting. You see, we were referred to him by an acquaintance, Onora Goldenfields, who has aided me in this matter. She was kind enough to write a brief missive to him, explaining the situation."

The aasimar angled her head slightly to one side and lifted her lips into a light-hearted smirk.

"Now, forgive me my tactless observation, sir, but I fear you have not graced us with your own name. Surely, you must have a fancy one as well, for I have little doubt that you have a wealth of good stories to accompany yours!"

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Post  The Sub-Creator on Wed Oct 08, 2014 12:46 am

The man brought thumb and forefinger up to push back then pinch his spectacles a little tighter on his nose before displaying a lighthearted grin to the visitors. "Somehow," he began in accented Common more accustomed to the far reaches of northern Avistan, "I doubt anything about your observations are tactless, Lady. And don't we all have stories to tell? It's those too over-eager to tell them that we must be mindful for, I think.

"Forgive my bit of play-acting, there. One can see a foreigner from across the city in these parts," he confessed with good nature. "Best to get used to such discussions, however. Those that you'll come across in the Expanse that can speak the Common tongue may well have wild and varying speech patterns the likes of which many find intimidating, to say the least. Even with the use of magic," he concluded with a quick, studied look at both Wynn and Lord Garess.

"I am indeed Nieford Sharrowsmith, as I'm sure you've already devised," the man bowed in proper Brevoyan fashion when introduced to nobility from those parts. "I fear we don't deal much in information here at Sharrowsmith's Exports, unless you've uncovered some manuscripts, scrolls, or other fancy runes that would fetch a good price somewhere in the outside world. If you'd care to accompany me to my office, however, I'd be happy to take a peek at this missive that you carry. If you'd follow me."

The proprietor of Sharrowsmith's Exports led the four companions through a curtained doorway behind him, down a short hall of jungle foliage camouflaging the walls and half-a-dozen paintings of exotic jungle fauna, and through a second curtained doorway passing into a small office setting with wooden desk and chairs. Constructed, fossilized animal bones pieced together with intricately woven wire wonderfully hidden turned this room into something of a necromancer's circus captured in frozen time. All of them appeared to be indigenous creatures of the Expanse, with the largest soaring on wires overhead: a parrot-like creature with a long, hooked, serrated beak and ten-foot wingspan.

Nieford motioned for them to find chairs as they entered and took one himself behind the desk. Before inviting them to talk, though, he removed a small sculpture of a yawning hippopotamus from one of the drawers beside him and placed it upon the smooth surface between them. "Now," he smiled while relaxing back in his chair. "What's this all about?"

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Zaistrun Garess

Post  Eddick the Steady (XIV) on Mon Oct 13, 2014 11:28 pm

Perhaps Sarala was rubbing off on him but he really did not trust this man. A blind beggar could notice the waves of suspicion coming off of Kaz like heat from coals, so the magister masked his feelings. Zaistrun took it all in with a stoic expression although he had a bit of suspicion concerning this man. Despite their thirst for knowledge and the appearance of being willing to make such knowledge known, they peddled in their secrets. He knew that Wynnsaren was a shrewd one on her own, and was a far better honey trap than he was. She was likely used to these situations and so she should take the lead. He remained silent until such time as was needed to turn the conversation to a darker tone, or possibly if he could interject some important fact.

The statue placed on the desk was most likely some sort of magical item. Zaistrun berated himself for not coming into this place with magical eyes open. It was probably some kind of device to give him an advantage over anyone with whom he was doing business. Even though he didn't detect any particular nasty business from the item, he focused on it and willfully dismissed it in his mind. Items were generally weaker than an actively cast spell to resist and he hoped that the heat hadn't sapped his strength of will.
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Post  Wynnsaren on Tue Oct 14, 2014 8:58 pm

After observing a few quickly signed instructions, the rubbery, blue space kraken took up silent vigil near the door while Wynnsaren sat lightly upon the chair between her companions.

Clouded eyes shone with wonder at the skeletons of such extraordinary beasts as were on display in the small room. What more marvels must such vast jungles hold! She felt that old curiosity grip her -- that desire to explore, experience and travel in never-before-trod places of the world, but her most pressing and immediate need to know could not be overcome by even the most powerful wanderlust.

"This is about an orb."

The aasimar's gaze fell upon the man across from them, holding him captive until he thought he could almost see his reflection in those silver, pupil-less depths. She was nervous. Tentative. The artifact in question was assuredly valuable, likely moreso than she had even imagined, but its true worth lay in its value to its owner; a value she didn't wholly understand but knew to be priceless. No true reward comes without risk however. . . With a blink and a steadying breath, she released Nieford and drew forth the small leather pouch from its home within the cozy hollow beneath her bodice.

"I do not know its name," she breathed, reverently setting the flawless crystal onto the desk before the man, "but I feel as if it must have one, for it too has a story to tell. . . though it has been reluctant to share the tale with me." The letter from Onara was pushed across the desk to rest beside the crystal. "That is where I hope you might be able to help."

It was then that Wynnsaren set about telling him what she had learned about the orb, from her first encounter with it at sunset nearly two years before until Onara's most recent discoveries. The only details that were held back, were those involving its true possessor. After all, Nieford spoke as if he had spent time in northern Avistan and even his mannerisms had shifted to those more familiar to Brevoy. If he somehow knew of Rasven Winter, than Wynn surely didn't want the man's opinion of her much maligned merchant prince to color his opinion!

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Post  The Sub-Creator on Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:22 pm

"It's from reluctance to tell one's story that we find those most worthy of pursuing," the Pathfinder smirked as he reached down and plucked the missive from the desktop. He had been listening intently to Wynn's exposition on the orb, even nodding a time or two, but a large part of him remained skeptical about the subject matter. "It's certainly a pretty thing," he continued to talk while opening it. "One rarely finds crystal shaped so perfectly smooth. Many are capable of exquisite work, but the tiniest of imperfections always creeps in, you'll find." His eyes quickly scanned the words scrawled upon the page even as the words left his mouth. "Wizards are the worst at blemishes, you'll find. It's interesting, in a way, since they'll more often than not have you believing that they spend decades perfecting their workmanship. Which is absurdity, of course, since they've got two dozen projects working at once, making it impossible for them to ever become truly masterful at anything. But this crystal doesn't sh--" his voice trailed off upon reaching a certain point in the letter where his eyes lingered.

"You weren't joking," he spoke in hushed tones, lifting his gaze to take in her own. "By the gods of knowledge and nature, you weren't joking."

Nieford discarded the letter as if it were nothing but an afterthought and took up the crystalline orb with a newly found gentleness and reverence. "Forgive my incredulity, I beg, but I receive visitors here on practically a daily basis proclaiming they've discovered this or that artifact. It becomes something of a nuisance, really, dealing with them constantly. But this . . . " He held the orb up and examined it--truly examined it--with all the awe-inspiring glee of a child having received the quintessential name-day gift. "This . . . "

The Pathfinder stared at the trio of faces from over top the exquisitely-crafted orb. "Lady Wynnsaren. Lord Garess. If this is what you profess it to possibly be . . . what Onora Goldenfield believes it is . . . then you have handed me the key to unlocking untold historical knowledge. Where did you find this?"

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Zaistrun Garess

Post  Eddick the Steady (XIV) on Sun Nov 09, 2014 11:45 pm

"It's on loan." Zaistrun intoned. "From a very powerful anonymous friend. I'm sure you can understand." He didn't want this fellow to get any big ideas about keeping it. The magister understood the lure of the orb, and since he wasn't allowed to keep it, this stranger shouldn't be allowed either.

He waved off any more inquisitions to the origin of the orb as if it were a bad smell. "The more important thing is that you can tell us what it is. What do you mean unlocking historical knowledge?
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Post  Wynnsaren on Sun Nov 09, 2014 11:46 pm

Wynnsaren had just parted her lips to forestall further query as to where the orb had been "found", when the young sorcerer stepped in to say much the same. Her gaze shifted to meet Zaistrun's, offering an almost imperceptible nod of approval as Nieford lost himself in the depths of the orb.

She took the moment to collect herself, leaning back in her chair and shifting her legs. The action should have imparted a certain nonchalance toward the matter, but the rigidness of her pale jaw, and the intensity in her eyes spoke truth.

This was personal.

Just why she felt it to be so, wasn't something she was prepared to analyze just yet, but at the sight of the rabid excitement that lit the seasoned explorer's face, Wynn had to beat back a potent urge to snatch the orb from him and cradle it safely to her breast.

If there was ever anything that would provoke a Pathfinder to theft or violence, it wouldn't likely be wealth, but instead just what she'd presented him with. A "key to unlocking untold historical knowledge". How she appreciated Zaistrun's not-quite-a-threat then!

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Post  The Sub-Creator on Mon Nov 17, 2014 9:24 pm

"I'm sure I do understand, Lord Garess," Nieford replied casually, "but let's not misconstrue the matter now. While I would certainly give a great deal to lay claim to this artifact, it suits me just fine to help you where I can in deciphering the knowledge it grants. However, you are in Nantambu, home of Magaambya, the oldest and greatest source of arcane knowledge in the world--a university whose roots go straight back to the Old Mage, himself. The significance of this orb"--he stole another glance at the physically perfect, crystalline sphere in his hand--"won't go unnoticed here, and there are plenty of powerful men who will desire to have it! Be mindful to whom you flash this treasure!"

As if not fully trusting himself to continue holding the artifact, Nieford handed it back to the woman who had first presented it to him, though his grip tightened ever-so-slightly before finally releasing it to her. "Now," he stated with something of a reluctant sigh, "Onora makes it plain in her letter that you paid handsomely for the information you passed on to me, and, while that does little to help my works here in Nantambu, I won't require any other monetary compensation from you. Undoubtedly, it would be bad form for me to request that a Pathfinder accompany you on your journey, since this is a quest for an anonymous, powerful friend of yours, and that, too, I understand.

"However, I would be remiss if I failed to convey to you the absolute importance of what you may discover through that artifact to the Society." He pressed back into his chair, unable to hide the tiny, upward quirk at the corners of his lips. "Before we get into the meat of your purpose here, let me attempt to sweeten the deal of your search. Both of you appear well-equipped at research and discovery, which leads me to believe you have strong documentation capabilities. If I could trust you to maintain an accurate journal pertaining to your research and all findings pertaining to the orb, I could foresee the Society paying you upwards of forty thousand gold for its completed work. It would have to be reviewed against any sort of inconsistencies, understand; thus making sure that anything of importance wasn't intentionally left out. If you could assure me that such would not happen, I would gladly do the review myself, in your presence, and pay you its worth on the spot immediately after. You get credit for the discovery, thereby gaining the knowledge firsthand, and you make a significant profit from the venture, as well. Is that deal sweetened enough for you to accept, my friends?"

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