Snippet #2803673

located in Cynosure, a part of Aurea Cor, one of the many universes on RPG.

Cynosure

[...]

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Character Portrait: Celeste Alya
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Salt hung in the air, a palpable force that clung to every person and object on the swaying deck. It dug under the skin and made its home beneath nails. The only way of escaping the onslaught of waves drenching you in sea water was to take refuge below deck, yet then you had to contend with the rats. Celeste preferred the feel of the salt layering her skin to the smell below, at least above the waves she could watch the horizon and see the stars. It was a relief to see the clear sky above, littered with a rapidly reducing number of celestial pinpricks as dawn approached. The passage had not been the cheapest option - one look at some other, cheaper ships and she had been more than willing to spend gold for board across the oceans - and yet money could not buy complete freedom from the storms that raged or the pests that followed humanity wherever they went.

Nehtve, the storm mage hired to assist in magically calming the seas, stood with arms outstretched at the bow. They had done their best to quell the storms in the ship’s path, but nature was the strongest magic of all. Helping to direct the tired ship into harbour was a much easier job. Celeste could see the ripple of magical waves shifting around Nehtve’s hands, and feel the mirrored movement below as the ship broke through the water. With the help of the captain at the helm, the Dancing Nymph slid between well-guarded towers placed on jutting outcrops of rock and into the arms of the Cordia port.

Cordia glittered coldly in the early morning light, the waters pooling at the city’s base not inviting for a woman who preferred the more tepid temperatures of the Gilded Plains. Yet, wealth flowed freely from Lumen’s capital and that was partly why Celeste was here. Golden eyes drifted across the sprawling city, skipping over the small homes of merchants and crafters to the expansive mansions sitting above the poorer distracts. Though within the same city, the residents were worlds apart. She closed her eyes and called at her magic, a slim hand snaking into her pocket to grasp the item within. An invisible tug, not physical, pulled her eyes back open and Celeste felt her senses tuning into the target her aurea was directing her towards.

Even from this distance the opulence of the mansion was evident. Once the boat docked she would scout out the area, filling in the gaps of her memories from when she had last visited Cordia and putting physical pictures to the flat maps she had studied on her journey here. Finding a path of least resistance within would take time, depending on the defenses, but she would prevail and claim the object she had been hired to find. A smile played upon Celeste’s face, belying the confidence she felt in her ability to pull off the heist.

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“Shit… Shit. Bloody fucking… Curse of the Five.”

Things were not going to plan. As thunder boomed overhead and rain pelted down harshly, Celeste stood with her back pressed against the tower wall. Perceptive eyes flicked across the roofs immediately around her, plotting an escape route in the seconds she was giving herself to rest. She had barely escaped the innards of the mansion, where their trap had been laid. Now the clink of armour and calls of alarm echoed out into the drizzling gloom of night as more guards rushed to search for her. Someone had betrayed her, or set her up, that much was clear. When she took it, the job had appeared to be a simple one. An easily accessible home, minimal guard. Low risk, high reward. Perhaps her greed had blinded her to the betrayal, not seeing the red flags. Hindsight was a brilliant thing and she could only curse her own stupidity. If she escaped unscathed, she would track down the little rat that outed her. If she escaped.

Celeste stepped forward, a small, dark shape darting across the roof. A rumble of thunder high above further muted any momentary thuds from the escaping thief, yet the advantage was short-lived and outweighed heavily by how slick and slippery the increased rainfall was making the tiles. One slid out from beneath Celeste’s feet as she ran along a side roof, and though she managed to catch herself from sliding down the steep incline into the courtyard below, the shattering of the tile onto the cobbled floor drew the attention of personnel.

“Shit.” She swore again under her breath, righting herself and quickly sprinting away. Though agile and quick-footed, even Celeste had to be careful as she jumped across a short gap and landed soundlessly on the peaked roof opposite. Her fingers caught quickly at the roof, steadying herself. Keeping low and moving quickly, Celeste pulled herself up and ran again. Ahead a tall tower blocked her path along the roof, however she did not slow down. Instead, her hand flew up to her chest and cut a quick symbol in the moist air. A faint glow illuminated the tip of her finger, her legs bent at the knee and then she sprung forward and upwards, using the quick spell to clear the multi-floor tower and land on it’s tip. From the new height Celeste glanced downward, tracking a possible path to safety across the vast expanse of roof the mansion possessed.

Balls of twisting green lights began to appear to her left, and Celeste swore again. The magical protections had finally been reactivated. The spell she had cast should have kept them suppressed for longer, but they knew she was coming, so it made sense that they would have counterspells. Those lights sought out interlopers and would track them while within range. As she dropped down to the roofing below, a soundless entity, those lights began to drift towards her. She could spell them away, but it would look just as suspicious for a section to go dark. With a growl, Celeste continued on, hoping to outpace the magic light. They wouldn’t be able to track her easily once she made it into the lower markets.

Movements seen from the corner of her eyes told Celeste guards had joined her above the streets. She put on more speed, ignoring the increased risk of losing her balance on the wet tiles. Another jumping spell saw her leap towards one of the outer walls. Here stone parapets encircled part of the mansion and ran along to join the defensive walls of the Upper district, keeping the wealthy safe from the riff raff of the lower districts. Mostly. Yet, this particular section of wall only divided the wealthy from the violent waves crashing against the sharp cliffs below. Lookouts were placed along this portion too, keeping watch for pirates or floundering ships. Celeste would need to continue around before she could jump down to the more rundown merchant houses and trading squares. Simple enough, except for the fact that several guards were streaming up to the walls.

“Give it up, Celeste. You can’t escape.”

A guard stepped forward, her uniform marking her as someone of importance. Blonde hair framed a face that might have been pretty were it not for the severe expression trained on her target. The sword in her hand did not quiver as she brought it up towards Celeste, the blade mere inches from Celeste’s chest - heaving as she caught her breath.

“Asmariah.” Celeste said, eyes sliding up the sword to the Queen’s guard standing tall before her. There was little emotion in Asmariah’s eyes, and Celeste felt a chill pass through her. She had been close to death before, unavoidable given her line of work, but never had Celeste felt this close. She tried to glance behind herself subtly, over the ridges of the stone wall, attempting to judge whether she could make the dive into the sea below. Magic would be needed. Asmariah saw the movement and the tip of her sword pressed against Celeste, where there had just been the promise of a point was now an uncomfortable pressure.

“Look, if this is about Mertal, we can sort it ou-...” Celeste’s words were cut off as Asmariah shook her head, a cold smile curling onto her face.

“I don’t work for them.”

She saw the guard’s body shift, knew instinctively what was about to happen. Celeste pushed away, feet skidding against the wet stone beneath her, hands flying up in a vain attempt to preserve her life. But it was too late. As icy droplets of water pelted down from above, Celeste felt a fiery heat explode across her chest as Asmariah’s blade pierced the skin. The thief stumbled back, the blade slid out and blood poured from the wound. Blood that would not stop flooding outwards despite her hands desperately clasping to the hole. Celeste’s feet caught on the barrier between walkway and the cliff below and then she was falling. Asmariah’s satisfied expression the last she saw.

Celeste was dead before she hit the waves below. Pain evaporating and only the smell of salt remaining before her consciousness left her doomed body.

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