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Altaea Saga: Song of the Ancients

Altaea

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a part of Altaea Saga: Song of the Ancients, by Mr D.

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Mr D holds sovereignty over Altaea, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

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Altaea

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Altaea is a part of Altaea Saga: Song of the Ancients.

11 Characters Here

Inali Ismene (Black Fox Learning) [0] A young cecaelia making her way through the world in search of knowledge.
Selene Randoval [0] Member of the Shriah Order, motive unknown.
Seig Krowne [0] A former prince of Kronezwall, now a wandering swordsman.
Onatha [0] Al Mayrin, Kanal tribe
Captain Jackal Highwind [0] A renowned sky pirate, explorer and renaissance man who travels the skies above Altaea in his airship, the Batavian.
Vinsces [0] A deadly spearman with a laidback attitude.
Caim Pendragon [0] A free knight
Vincent de Fanel [0] A magus
Jade Tel'hana [0] The Black Cat of Sarife

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#, as written by Mr D
"Thank you, my dear." He reached over to pat her on the head. His hands were cold. Shin stood up and turned away, seeming to glide like an apparition across the floor. He left the apple sitting on Onatha's desk. "Quite the remarkable gift you have." He commented in passing as he left. The words seemed oddly foreboding for some reason.

Shin followed the girl's instructions. The farther he ventured into the depths of the labyrinthine library, the fewer people he saw, he noted with some interest. It was like exploring some natural wonder, like a cave system carved from the living rock. Indeed, one could almost mark the passing of ages by the dust that layered the shelves and their contents. Dust so thick that one could scarcely read the titles on the spines of the books. Every now and then he noticed a freshly disturbed tome or a gap in the shelves. It was the only sign of life in that place.

Soon even the light of the braziers faded and Shin was forced to strike a candle, which he carried on a small plate ahead of him. Soon something caught his eye. A pile of rags, he assumed and it was only once he drew closer that he recognised it for what it was. A corpse. A dessicated corpse shrouded in the robes of a scholar. The skeletal face grinned up at him, its skin stretched thin and cracked like papyrus over dry bones. Shin frowned inscrutibly, pushing the body over with his foot. It crumbled to dust on impact with the floor. Shin wondered briefly at the tale of the dead man. What cruel twist of fate brought the man's life to an end in this forgotten place? Perhaps some old scholar had succumbed to a sudden heart attack. The thought brought a smile to Shin's face and he resumed his search.

It was not long before he came to the shlef described by the girl. Indeed it would be impossible to miss the book, so large was it that Shin had trouble lifting it. With some effort he managed to haul his find back to the desk where he let it slam down loudly, kicking up yet more dust into the unfortunate girl's face. He let out a huff and wiped his brow.

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He patted her head. His hands were cold on her scalp. Onatha attempted to shrink from his touch. The man started to drift away from the desk. Onatha exhaled a small breath of relief. Then she realized he left the apple. She stared at it. "Quite the remarkable gift you have." She looked up as he disappeared into the shelves. She shivered in spite of herself as his words hung in the air in his wake.

The apple, just sitting there in front of her. Did she dare take it? Maybe he forgot it and would come back for it. Onatha wanted so badly to take it. A glance around her showed that no other scholars were close by. Onatha figured she could just take it, hide it in the desk and eat it when she was alone. No one would know. What if he came back? Onatha gripped her knees in fear. If she took it and he came back to get it, he would call her thief and who knows what they would do to her then. No, best to leave the apple and wait and see if he came back.

So Onatha sat, and stared at the apple. She longed to run her hands on it as he had. To run her finger along the smooth skin. She barely dared breathe near it. No other scholars came to use her services. Onatha sat, alone in the quiet with the apple.

Onatha did not sit alone for too long though. As she expected the man came drifting back to the desk. She saw with some alarm that he carried the book and seemed intent on her desk. Onatha grabbed the apple and placed it her lap just as he dropped the heavy book on her desk. She coughed as the dust billowed out from under the large book. Onatha never loosened the grip on the apple. She heard the man huff and looked up to see him wiping his brow. The exertion of carrying the book almost made him appear less intimidating. Almost.

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#, as written by Mr D
"Well, I found it at last." He said with pride as he stood back. "I'll be taking this for a few days." He stated for Onatha to note down in the records. "And I would appreciate it if you kept it between just the two of us." He smiled broadly, leaning over and tapping his nose. "I hope you enjoy it. I know how much you like them." He straightened, cocking his head in a way that would have been endearing if not for his odd, disquieting manner.

He sighed quietly and tutted, shaking his head. Shin bowed his legs and hefted the enormous book into his arms again. He grunted under its weight, his fragile, thin looking frame trembling under the effort. He shuffled through the open door.

A pair of initiates held open the door of Shin's quarters as he staggered inside. He set 'Visions' down on his desk and the two cowled men bowed and retreated from the room. The snow haired young man drew up his chair and opened the book, leafing through the pages.

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Onatha nodded. She was afraid. It wasn't him. He wasn't physically intimidating. His demeanour and the way he spoke. His odd smile. It all sent shivers down her spine. "I hope you enjoy it. I know how much you like them." Onatha's eyes went wide and despite herself she smiled. He was giving her the apple. A gift for helping him find the book. "I will note it but will keep it quiet. Thank you." With the tilt of his head, she dropped her gaze and her smile fled her face. Again he seemed to unsettle her.

She kept her head low, looking up through her eyelashes to to watch him heft the book and walk with it. She wondered if the great book would crush him if he should drop it. Onatha watched him exit through the open door. She let out her breath and turned her attention to the apple in her lap. A gift. It had been so very long since someone gave her anything or showed her such kindness. She cast aside her unease about the man and focused on the apple.

It was so red and she longed to bite into it. Onatha quickly looked around. Seeing no one she bit into the apple. It made a satisfying crunch in her mouth. As expected the juice dribble onto her fingers and she eagerly caught every drop. There was no way she was going to let even a bit of this delicious thing escape her. Onatha ate the apple and savoured ever bite of it. It wasn't until it was nothing but the core that she realized she had no place to dispose of it. She tucked it into the folds of her dress and preyed to whatever god would hear her that it would not fall out when they came to unchain her tonight.

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#, as written by PixieCP
So many books. So MANY books. It was something that Inali could actually appreciate about this place, the sheer vast volumes of knowledge. It appealed to her ingrained habits. She inhaled happily, almost forgetting their location and the associated risks. It was tempting to vanish among the shelves and not come out. But it would serve nothing for her elthsa's purpose. Much of the information here was already known to her master. Inali regretfully narrowed her perusal to what she needed for Ishtar. She staggered back, trying not to use her limbs. But arms were so weak when it came to solid sinuous muscle! In the end she paused in a remote corner and used her limbs to rearrange herself, catching a corner of her tunic in each hand and forming an apron pocket to hold the smaller scrolls. Then she gently and reverently placed the larger books and compilations into each arm, balancing them on her hips. Afterwards she stuck her staff through the straps of her pack such that it angled from her shoulder to her opposite hip, which ought to keep it from harm. That done, her darker limbs rustled back under the wide shelter of her skirts and she returned back to well lit areas with tables, dusty but glowing.

At Eria's enquiry her face lit up in a beatific grin.
"Yea and nae, tis wonderous the number o' books here. I'd spend near the rest o' my life here. But this is all good fer what I'm searching. It'll take me a wee while to condense what I need though." She wanted a table, and the space to set out her journal and inkwell. If she started with the myths, she could check the broad purpose of Ishtar. She'd no doubt that something that old and that angry would be listed somewhere. That would give her an idea of the nature of the thing. Then she could search through more arcane texts for the circle that was created, in relation to Ishtar. And then, she'd see what could be communicated to her elthsa.

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#, as written by Mr D
"Good." The green haired woman said as she examined her own list. "It seems that for the most part the materials I'm interested in are located on one of the lower floors." She said, her inscrutible gaze scanning across the catalogue of books. "Several of them appear to be in the unsorted collections." She said with a disappointed frown. "Will you be joining us or shall we leave you to your reading?" She asked Inali.

***

Some time alter and the group came to an opened door on one of the lower levels. The chamber beyond was gloomy with stale tasting air that felt oppressive and heavy. Eria glanced up at the plaque mounted above the frame and then back down to the paper in her hands.

"It seems this is it." She announced, striding inside without a second thought.

"I can't say I like the look of this place." Jack commented. "Do people even come down here any more? It looks deserted." He scooped his finger along a shelf of books. The tip blackened with dust. As he spoke Eria spied a small glimmer of light from the back of the room. A candle, sat upon a desk. Its light did little to lift the murky gloom but as they drew closer Eria could make out the fragile looking form of a young girl sat at the desk.

"Excuse me." She called out softly to the girl as she approached. With her white dress and pale complexion the green haired woman almost ooked a ghost in the flickering light of the candle. "Can you help us?"

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Onatha sat at the desk. And then she heard the voices. "I can't say I like the look of this place. Do people even come down here any more? It looks deserted." Onatha's heart jumped. "Not scholars! People!" Onatha almost panicked. She had not talked to anyone other than the scholars in such a long time. Onatha's eyes went wide as she realized it was not one, not two but a group of people who came down and towards her.

A soft voice spoke to Onatha. "Excuse me. Can you help us?" Onatha shifted in her seat. "I can yes..." Onatha stared wide eyed at the green haired woman as she replied in barely a whisper. "What do you need?" Onatha tried to sit up in her seat. It caused the chain and shackle at her ankle to rattle just slightly. Barely perceptable to the other's it was a cold reminder to Onatha that when these people found what they needed she would be left alone again. "At least I can be of some use while they are here." Onatha's eyes shone slightly in the candlelight as she looked at the green haired woman and her companions. They seemed an odd group to be here in the lower level but it didn't matter to Onatha, they were here, they were talking to her and she would do what she could to help them.

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#, as written by Mr D
"I'm looking for a few documents." Eria placed the list down on the table in front of the girl, smoothing the curling paper out over the dusty surface. As the girl read it Eria took the time to study her. It was obvious that the girl was no normal librarian. Where the other scholars wore grey robes like a monk's habit she was dressed in an altogether different manner. She also lacked the distant and aloof bearing of the other librarians.

The list itself was inked with precise, cursive script. Among the titles, authors and bizarre, complex reference codes was a familiar title. Astromalius' 'Visions'. Jack stifled a yawn as he glanced around the darkened chamber, trying to find something to occupy his attention.

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Onatha glanced at the scroll in front of her. As she looked at it, Onatha happened to glance up at the green-haired woman. Startled slightly, she found that the woman was looking at her. Onatha shifted nervously. The chain rattled again and this time with the woman so close Onatha was sure she heard it. Slumping her shoulders slightly, Onatha turned her attention back to the scroll. The man yawned, or at least attempted to hide one poorly.

"I can, locate these for you but..this one isn't here right now." Onatha's voice was soft and she reached out to point to where the Astromalius' Visions was written. "I am sorry." Her tone was truly apologetic. Onatha was extremely disappointed that she wouldn't be able to help them locate everything. "The rest though...if you still want them. I can tell you where to find all of the rest." Onatha looked up at the group, a hopeful look in green-pupiless eyes. "Please stay and talk to me...I can help." Onatha wanted to beg them to stay, to talk to her, anything. She didn't. Instead she sat and hoped the green-haired woman would be content with the location of all of the rest of the things she needed.

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#, as written by PixieCP
"I'll be fine here a while. Just ye remember to fetch me when ye leave," Inali said absently, her mind filled with the delicious banks of knowledge in her arms. She carefully if somewhat awkwardly made her way in search of a table, vanishing around the tall shelves. Finding the nearest broad surface she could, Inali promptly settled in. The books in her arms were carefully levered onto the table, her tunic emptied soon after. Inali then set her pack down and pulled out her inkwell and journal. The inkwell was made of stone, intended to dropped at will without mishap, the inside of the lid sealed with wax and then trussed down with corded ties. Inali took a short pen, just long enough to be comfortable for writing and fashioned from hollow wood, out of a wooden case designed to keep the tip from breaking. Laying her well and pen next to her closed journal, she began to systematically skim the books. Some had indexes at the back. Most didn't. Some of the scrolls she had to delicately coax to open. What she came across made her frown. Where she found mention of Ishtar, he was a death god. Not all pantheons held malignance in the roll. Some had it embodied by a god of all. Others held death to be the greatest kindness. It appeared that the Al Mayins, for he was indeed their god, viewed him as a neutral force accepting all who died to hold them until they had made peace with themselves and were ready to be reborn. Inali noted that down before humming to herself. The presence she had felt wasn't that of a neutral entity. It was one of pain, anger, fear and revenge. The pile she had checked was growing. She moved on to some of the older scrolls. One looked about to crumble, though it held well enough when she opened it. On trying to read it her eyebrows rose. The dialect was ancient and would be nigh incomprehensible to her companions, unless any of them had a particular scholarly interest in the ancient history of Abyssia and the Dead Dunes. It spoke of the deaths of the common people in the streets, the preist who ran amok, and the name of a diety. Ishtar. She frowned at it. There was a mention of a prophecy, but the writer hadn't deigned to write it there, instead delaying it to another scroll. Inali checked for the writer's mark anywhere. She found it on the outside, where it would be visible when the scroll was rolled and stored. She marked down what she had learned in her shorthand and the name of the writer, including a sketch of the mark. If there was a prophecy she wanted to hear it. But after she checked the other books.

After finding no more mention of Ishtar within the other tomes, she stacked the books back together and decided to leave them. The other little piles of books about didn't seem to be in order and Inali felt like giving the fussy and rude little man something to deal with. Taking the one pertinent scroll with her, she rustled back to the librarian.

"This. Where do I find the next one? There was none other with it." she asked without preamble. The man glanced up irritably, and then took another longer look at the scroll. Mouth pursed as if it held something distasteful, he peered at her myopicly.

"He hasn't been fully archived yet."

"Yet?" Inali raised a brow. "I'd the feeling this were older than my family, how's it to not be archivied.: The librarian gave her a filthy look, presumably for her questioning him and mispronouncing his words at the same time. Inali took a perverse thrill at it.

"Well why don't you go down to the unsorted collections and archive it for us?" he asked, sarcasm dripping off his tongue. "If ye knews that."

"I knews." Inali told him, fighting a smile. She turned and left, stalking along. She could faintly taste her accomplices, and with a strong degree of effort could follow them. The still nature of the library and the uncharted depths that they plunged to aided her much, making it just possible. It took a while and Inali could feel a migraine starting to threaten when she finally found the room.

She looked up at the stuffy, dark, uncared for room. She rolled her eyes at it. One of the greatest libraries in mortal hands ever known, and they couldn't even look after it properly. She understood the difficulties, but if they were to undertake something, at least do it properly. She took her latern out of her pack and hooked it onto her staff top, lighting it before she did so. Closing it carefully she felt confident she wouldn't accidentally burn the room down and entered the looming shelves. She wasn't sure she wanted the 'help' of another librarian. If nobody came down here, then perhaps she could use a divination instead. It would guide her to her target.

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#, as written by Mr D
Eria stood back and crossed her arms.

"I see. How troublesome." She pursed her lips thoughtfully. After a few moments she shook her head briskly, her hair fanning out around her shoulders. "Well I suppose there's nothing that can be done about it for the time being. These will do for now." She gestured to the rest of the list.

"Child!" Came a shrill call from behind the group and Jack reached for his sword as he turned. The stooped figure of a robed man broke the light from beyond the gloomy chamber and he hobbled in. His robes marked him as one of the library's keepers and he shuffled towards Onatha's desk, ignoring the others even as he elbowed his way past Vinsces. "Child. I should strike you..." He glowered, looming over the girl. "Do you know how long I had to search for this?" He waved a sheet of yellowed paper at her. "Itis your responsibility to ensure the records for this floor are kept in order! If you cannot do that..." The implied threat hung in the air, unspoken. "I trust there will be no more discrepancies?"

Jack reached for his sword once more as he watched the man threaten Onatha but Eria's arm barred his path. He shot the woman a questioning glance and frowned, clenching his jaw as he returned the partially unsheathed blade to its scabbard.

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Onatha hated that the woman was disappointed but there was nothing she could do. "I'll find the rest for you." Looking down at the first name on the list Onatha began to stare off past the group. A shrill voice halted her vision."Child!" One of the men, the bored one reached for his sword in response to the voice.

Onatha was horrified as one of the librarians came over to her at the desk. The man pushed his way past the group in front of her. "Child. I should strike you..." As he loomed over her, Onatha's eyes went wide with fear. She scrambled like a frightened field mouse and pushed the chair away from the desk as she could. The action caused the chain to pull tightly at her ankle and almost pulled her off her chair. Her body jerked and she fought to stay seated. Onatha barely registered what is was that he was threatening her for. She was afraid he would strike her and worse yet he would do so in front of the people she was trying to help.

"I...I am sorry...I do not...did not...I..." Onatha's voice was pleading and apologetic. Onatha looked at the people behind the robed man. The man reached for his sword again and Onatha's eyes went wide. "No, it will not happen again. I am sorry. I must have...I will do better." Onatha saw the green haired lady stop the man with the sword. The third person in their party seemed to be taking the whole scene in. Onatha lowered her head, eyes falling to her knees. "Please, it will not happen again." Onatha gripped the sides of her chair.

Onatha could not bring herself to look up. The librarian still loomed over her, she was afraid that he would strike her if she happened to raise her eyes. When had she become so fearful? Being chained in the dark and then tested on will do that. Potentially break a person's spirit. Onatha longed for the man to leave so she could save a bit of her diginity and help these people.

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#, as written by Mr D
The man's lips twisted into a cruel smile as Onatha cowered before him and he raised his hand, palm open to slap her.

"Please. Spare her." Eria implored him, raising her arm to ward off the man as she stepped between him and the girl. He sneered, looking between the group. He shrugged, dropping his arm to the side. The librarian tugged at his collar, avoiding their gazes.

"Very well." He said, rolling his shoulders. "Then you deal with the useless child." He tossed the keys to Onathat's shackles on the table, walking past Jack and the others with his head held high. His shoulder collided with the pirate's as he strode past and Jack scowled at him in distaste.

Eria picked up the keys, regarding them with a look of passing interest. She rolled the iron around in her fingers before crouching down next to the girl.

"Hold still." She said, her voice was motherly and her expression was a gentle smile as she slid the key into the lock and turned it. The iron shackles clicked open and Eria straightened up, dusting down her white dress. She did not speak to the girl, turning and walking back towards the others. "Come." She said, addressing the group as a whole. "We have work to do." And with that Eria made her way into the labyrinthine shelves of the lower library.

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Onatha sat; eyes wide as the green haired woman stepped in and asked the man to spare her. She had stepped between the desk and the man. Onatha didn’t breathe.
Keys rattled on the desk. Onatha blinked at them. She looked up as he walked away, bumping the man with the sword as he passed him. “Did he just tell them to deal with me? The keys...he left them.” Onatha simply stared at them. The green haired woman picked up the keys and seemed to be mulling over the situation for a moment. “Please, please unlock it....” Onatha silently begged but didn’t dare open her mouth in case the woman instantly regretted getting involved. The woman crouched, white dress brushing the dusty floor, and unlocked the shackles.

Onatha heard the click. She heard it every day when they moved her from here to her bed but it sounded different in her ears. The woman stood, brushed her dress and simply called the group away. Onatha stared. Under her the metal fell away from her ankles. The rattle made Onatha jump. In front of her the group was moving away.
Wary and unsure Onatha stood. She followed them. The woman wouldn’t know where everything was. Onatha had been interrupted before she could tell her. “I...excuse me...I can help...” Onatha walked behind the one of the men quietly. “If you give me the list I can tell you where everything is.“ She didn’t know what to do. They were moving and if she didn’t stay near them one of the other scholars was sure to stop her and to chain her back up. Onatha pushed past the men, trying to get to the green haired woman.

“If you give it to me I will help. I owe you something, anything...”

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#, as written by PixieCP
Inali closed the shutters on her tin lamp, reducing the light it cast to a very dim glow, just enough for her to see by. She stared into the gloom as her eyes adjusted, considering how to go about her task. If she made a circle, it wouldn't be of much help. She didn't want to keep things in or out, she wanted to search for something. It was a good chance that the scroll's sequel was likely written by the same scribe around the same time and place that it had been inked. If so, then she could look for the maker's mark. Inali sucked on her lower lip, deep amber eyes adjusting to the lighting to let her see the shapes of everything around her although the details and colours were lost. But for this she would need the time to drop into the weft of the world, and in such a precise task that would leave her vulnerable. Divination was not a battle magic. Inali looked up thoughtfully.

One of the traits of mankind that she had learned to exploit very early was that they almost always neglected to look up. Understandable from primarily land bound beings that did not have an easy or intuitive command of heights. Utterly naive trait. Inali found that the ceiling was arched and she grinned, white teeth flashing in the faint glow of her lantern. It was a hammerbeam structure, the walls shorter than they appeared and the book cases with ladders leaned against them taking advantage of the high ceiling that was given. The wooden beams were exposed and the perfect perch. Inali double checked her bearings and then, taking her staff in one hand and tinderbox in the other, blew her small light out. Using memory and the gentle touches of her limbs, Inali found the nearest ladder and flowed up it until she reached the top of the wide bookshelves. Partially resting her weight on the shelves and the ladder, Inali reached upwards with slow questing limbs, raising herself further up on the other half of her limbs. And then she felt wood.

"Aha," she murmured to herself and took a good grip before half a dozen limbs lifted her entire body up and she easily clambered onto the beam, wrapping her limbs around it firmly. Settling herself comfortably, she pulled her pack into her lap, the top of it level with her nose. The Jensi felt through it, the items orderly and familiar. Her charms for clear sight and accuracy went over her head, though she left the power boosters. She couldn't need them with so much magic everywhere. Inali closed her eyes, and breathed in.

The world into me.

Breath out, relaxing of shoulders and chin up.

I into the world.


She quested for the scroll that now rested in her upwards hands, her pack now looped over a spare limb instead. She found it, the combination of meaning and sound, image and word, pen and ink, paper and.... blood. The scribe's mark had blood mixed into the ink, though it was absent in the rest of the document.

Feel your beginning.

This made it easier. If his... no, her.... her blood was in this seal, it would be in her other works. Blood was always one of the best things to track. The body wanted to be whole, the blood would even now strive to find the rest of itself if given a touch of vital power. Inali coaxed the thread from the seal, her eyes half open and becoming lambent in the dark. If one had the sharpest eyes, or sight in the dark, and knew what they were looking for, they would see two dim golden stars in the air of the ceiling. She would find the other seal, or seals. She would find the rest of this tale, this prophecy, this knowledge. This learning.

Feel your purpose.

Inali left the scroll in her lap, caged in a coiled limb, and held the thread of blood in her right hand. Twirling her wrist around, she wrapped it around her hand and got a good hold on it. Then she gently plucked at it with her left middle finger. The vibration shivered into the gloom, past the warp and weft of the rest of the room, past the monitering spells to guard against theft or fire, on a different level of reality. Inali slid with it under the concious magics and threads and lives in the room, faintly feeling her companions and another presence. Young, female, distraught. For a moment Inali wavered. Then she strengthened her resolve, sending nothing but a faint coil of hope/comfort/soothing at the new one from nothing more than inborn habit and continued chasing the blood thread. It was in a jumbled pile, near the bottom with nothing but a long dead spider for company. Now she just had to get down from here and go find it.

Seek.