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Xander Ozzick

"Words carry weight, Mine far moreso than Yours."

0 · 172 views · located in Nominum

a character in “From the Depths of Lore: Apologue”, as played by Smeath

Description

Xander Ozzick
Words carry weight, mine far moreso than yours





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Species
Raconteur

Age
25 Years of Age

Sexuality
Heterosexual

Appearance
Xander appears to be about average in terms of stature for those of his kind, bearing about 5'10" or so. His build is relatively befitting of his choice of activities, lean muscle and an even stride are cornerstones of his appearance. His face is fair, shaped comparatively well, with a strong jaw, shining blue eyes, and a straight nose. He sports a head of long, black hair that is well-kept and he often considers cutting due to its absurd length. His choice of clothing is very much utilitarian, with everything having a real use, oftentimes he will choose clothes with a number of pockets, exposed and if possible, concealed, to hold things.





Personality
Xander is very level-headed and clear in terms of his speech, and the way he enunciates his words. He is often extremely specific, and if he speaks vaguely it is usually cause for worry when others are concerned, as he often doesn't speak like this unless he's either trying to be careful, or deceptive. This reflects well with how he is as a person, much of the time he is very calm and cool, rarely opting to panic when a situation seems desperate, he is also very straightforward with much of how he acts, either speaking his mind, or opting to not speak at all in certain situations. His mentality does not hamper his ability to lie, though it does demand that he avoid doing so on-paper unless he wishes to risk the hazards of doing so. He dislikes others who lie, and often chooses not to lie unless the situation is desperate or the lie is a gamble to get some sort of advantage. However, when confronting people he sees as 'belligerent' or 'unreasonable' he will often be sharp and short, as he has little patience for those who do not care to listen, and choose to act without thinking. He will often attempt to take time to deliberate on a given course of action, and weigh the odds, though this does not always work out for the best.


Likes
Xander is fond of a number of things. Literature of all variety is a given, but he has a few preferences in terms of the people he associates with. He prefers that they be willing to listen, or to wait when there is a choice with clear opportunity to balance the answers. He enjoys people who act with discretion, and do not just charge into a situation recklessly. In terms of physical materials, he often prefers things that are useful in a variety of situations, such as a pair of leather gloves he keeps with him at all times.

Dislikes
Xander, as a person, has a few things he doesn't like. One of these things is people who are impatient, or refuse to wait, as this is often hazardous or just flat-out annoying. He also hates people who don't listen, people who don't pay attention to their surroundings are infuriating to him, as if you don't pay attention, you can miss many important details. He's also not a big fan of things that seem untrustworthy, and traps. He hates traps to a degree beyond understanding by most who don't know him well.

Equipment
Xander carries a variety of items on his person, he carries quite a few books, blank or otherwise pre-written with a variety of choice phrases for him to read in case of an emergency. He also carries a spare dagger and a variety of other materials for writing, such as a carving knife, a chisel and hammer, and other such tools for carving/writing words into various materials.

Abilities
Xander is capable of varying degrees of usage with his words, but he is also very good with implanting the words onto objects, exceptionally so when it comes to weapons or the environment. His usage has almost defined him as a wanderer.

Strengths
Fast Hand: Xander's hands are lightning fast on a page, capable of bringing numerous words to the fore in a matter of seconds. His speed at this is warranted from years of practice and understanding, to the point where his hands move at an almost supernatural rate, provided he is well and has yet to take a debilitating injury.
Hand-to-Hand Combat: Xander is a capable combatant, having learned and practiced it often to make up for a lack of close-range fighting without a weapon. He specializes in techniques that capitalize on either aggressive attackers and wait until they overextend themselves to open for a counterattack, redirecting techniques to avoid injury altogether, or to flat-out disarm opponents, bringing them to his level to strike out at them in an aggressive return-attack.
Agile Eye: Xander's eyes are quicker than his hands, letting him take in his surroundings quickly and keep track of fast-moving targets much more easily than others of his kind.
Guarded: Xander is exceptionally skilled at fighting defensively, due to his constant need to protect his hands. He will often take the time to make subtle movements that, while under an aggressive assault, aid him in either rolling with a blow that gets through to minimize its impact, or redirecting it toward less vital portions of his body to avoid more debilitating physical injuries.
On-the-Fly: Xander is very capable of changing things up seemingly at random during a fight, oftentimes using words to either lay traps in the environment, or triggering a variety of different hazards that the environment itself often presents him with. On occasion, he will employ this alongside his acrobatic abilities, allowing him a greater range of movement while he sets up these points to capitalize upon.

Weaknesses
Distrustful: Xander does not trust easy, and does not lose old preconceptions easily. It takes him time to adjust, and this could often cause conflict among his travelling companions.
Stubborn: Xander does not move often, but when he does, it is simply to rise to his feet. He is far more stubborn than most of his kind, or people in general.
Slow Approach: Xander will often choose to err on the side of caution, which makes him appear slow to many, and he often times makes an effort to be patient and wait for others to act before he does. Therefore, he rarely acts first, and this means opponents will likely get an attempt at a hard sucker-punch.
Guarded: Xander protects his right hand in an almost religious fashion inside and outside of combat (despite being one of the rare few who is ambidextrous), and will often keep himself on a more guarded approach, making him less prone to act first or expose openings elsewhere if necessary to protect his writing hand.
Betrayed: Xander, after his time spent in the midst of deception and revelation, has grown a fear of being betrayed by those he trusts. This fear is not crippling, but is certainly a trauma worth watching out for.

Slenderman




Home
Xander rarely fits in anywhere for too long, and opted in his early youth to wander. He has roved Nominum for the past five years, and has explored a lot of the area around his home.

Relationships
Xander has chosen to maintain a suitable distance to his family. His father and mother live soundly, and his brother and sisters have all spread to the winds, just as he had. He chose this life to maintain his sanity, more than anything else.

History
Xander displayed his abilities at a very young age. He and his family lived in a small estate outside of a local town, where his parents raised Xander and his siblings to adulthood. His parents held a decent position in government, having managed to work their way up to said point through deception and the clever use of some scribes. He excelled in wielding words, getting far greater amounts of attention and training than many of his siblings, who oftentimes resented him for it. However, they often found his stubbornness and the degree of patience he had far more valuable than his hatred-inducing traits. Before long, Xander had learned everything his parents could teach him, and began to study on his own, learning the practical applications for his abilities, learning the limitations, and the various hazards of using his powers around others. After this, he decided to gather up some crucial supplies, and strike out on his own. He explored for a while, taking in many different experiences. One of the most notable experiences he had was the time he traveled with a Bellatore, and hadn't revealed his identity as a Raconteur until they were attacked by wild animals. He used one of his words to shred a beast, and after the fight, he was questioned. He explained what he was, and was surprised to find that the man he was traveling with had turned on him, sword in-hand. They fought for a brief engagement, before Xander managed to trap his feet and run. After that bitter encounter with a man he believed he could trust, Xander started to grow distant. Over time, Xander had come to try and trust others, and much of the same happened. He was attacked, verbally, physically, or magically, depending on his companion at the time. But every time, he managed to escape, and those assaults warped his personality, making him distrustful and often keen to observe his own preconceptions more than anything else. At first, these attempts on his life made no sense to him, he had been told that people outside his sheltered home were more than a little biased against his kind, but he didn't realize just how far that went until those attacks.


Theme Song
Castlevania: Order of Ecclsia - An Empty Tome

So begins...

Xander Ozzick's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Vivienne Talos Character Portrait: Ezra LeFalle Character Portrait: Xander Ozzick Character Portrait: Adley Ambrosia Character Portrait: Ciardha Aisling

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The flowers were in full bloom all throughout Nominum. It was midday yet the sun was nowhere to be seen and the moon, naught but a sliver in the sky, was the only celestial light to be found. However, the town below the silver light did not suffer from darkness since massive flames danced through its streets.

Seeing as it was midday, it should be no surprise that the town was buzzing with life as numerous Bellatores flitted back and forth between ignited buildings. Actually, despite being a modest Bellatore town, it generally hummed with activity just as vigorous as this everyday around this time. Although, perhaps the fact the buildings were alight was rather unusual. And the typical white-noise consisting of friendly commercial chatter that one could hear every afternoon did sound a little more like a chorus of hell-raising shrieks than it rightly should.

And that roar and snarl, which most certainly originated from a fearsome Talpas or two, was likely out of place in what should have been a peaceful afternoon in this homely Bellatore town.

Unfortunately, Talpas don’t particularly care much about pacific routines and cause a bloody ruckus whenever they please, and as it happens causing one such ruckus in this unlucky town certainly pleased these two particular mythic beasts, the silver Chimera and Ichneumon. It wasn’t necessarily that these poor Bellatore folk had done something to upset the two creatures. Honestly, this was probably a first encounter for both parties. It’s just, the Chimera had the rather unusual hobby of breathing fire on random building or simply tearing them down just for the fun of it (hearing the screams of those trapped inside, was undeniably an added benefit), and the Ichneumon was simply taking advantage of the chaotic situation to taste a little Bellatore flesh (not that rare of a delicacy admittedly and certainly not comparable to dragon intestines, but palatable nonetheless).

Another howl echoed into the darkness of the day, as the Chimera set his sights on yet another structure. The beast couldn’t read the language of the insignificant insects whose homes he was currently demolishing, but if he could he might have discovered this building was an Apothecary. Or it was an Apothecary. As it were it, it was now merely kindled rubble that likely was an excellent medicinal addition to an otherwise formerly lovely town. Although quite obviously the Chimera really didn’t care about such pleasant things, instead its ram head knocked the neighboring building down, the lion head’s teeth discovered a fatty albeit annoyingly loud piece of meat, and it’s snake tail breathed a little more fire on the rubble that was an Apothecary just for good measure.

It was just an ordinary day in Nominum, which was now beginning to come to a close. The flowers were starting to whither, which meant night was approaching and fortunately for the surviving remnants of the town, the sun was rising on the horizon. Everyone knows that Talpas weren’t too fond of sunlight, or any light, and as the evening’s first sunrise came the monsters went – hopefully not to return.

Unfortunately, though nightfall had come rest did not follow for the weary townsfolk. There were still fires to be put out and corpses or what remained of corpses that needed to be dealt with accordingly all through out the little city. So by the time the sun had fully illuminated the horrific scene that was once a lovely place to live, most everyone had set to work grieving over lost family and lost houses. More so the former – well probably.

Strange occurrences are so common in Nominum that, frankly speaking, they aren’t so strange. Therefore, initially when a very out-of-place man and his entourage wandered into the ashen ruins, few paid him any mind.

He was dressed in fine cloth and adorned with silk and gold, and he didn’t dirty his feet by walking upon the bloody scene. There was no need. He had a fine steed to carry him, and in case of poor weather a covered carriage – also of optimal quality. Besides his feet were likely worth more than any of the remains, building or body, to be found here, why would he ever soil them and subsequently lower their value? Oh, but he did suppose he’d have to. Rather, he must. To achieve that goal which was of profound importance he’d need to play a humbler role, a kinder role than the one he was accustomed to. He would have to be a friend to the hurting people.

With a smile he championed his disgust and climbed to the ground, making rounds with his entourage, which consisted of a fair blonde-haired and blue-eyed prophetess – an Aruspex to be sure – and two male Bellatores. Or at least they seemed to be Bellatores, perhaps they were one of the other less identifiable species? Sometimes it was so difficult to tell. Nonetheless, the three cronies, the horse, and the carriage loyally followed the well-dressed man as he walked through the town. While he did so he offered to the plethora of victims medicinal ointments, which he just so conveniently had prepared, and empathetic tears and cries of anguish.

By the time the plants had died and sprouted again, signaling the beginning of a new day, he’d already weaseled his way into the hearts of the survivors by playing the role of a kind-hearted extra, but now it was time to take center stage. By design, the survivors of the Talpas calamity had gathered in the center of their ruined city, with this mysterious man at their heart. With a voice loud enough to almost match the roars of the two monstrous Talpas, he spoke to those who had gathered.

Some were travelers, who’d had the good fortune to arrive after the catastrophe, some were wanderers who had not been so lucky, but the most unfortunate among them were those whose home was here. But, they’d all receive the same call to arms from this far too helpful, outlandishly rich, wandering man who most certainly had absolutely no ulterior motives whatsoever.

“Many of you here have lost a great deal in these last twenty-four hours. Homes, family, livelihoods. And for that you have my sympathy and my respect because those of you here survived. You fought through the terror that ravaged your homes and now get to live another day.”

A soft murmur reverberated through the crowd as survivors hummed in approval or whimpered in grievance, but despite the latter he continued, “You will rebuild, host burials, perhaps even erect a memorial so that you’ll always remember, but eventually you’ll all return to your peaceful lives filled with smiles, thriving commerce, and the laughter of children. And what a wonderful day that will be.”

This time, the murmur grew a little louder and more jovial, more hopeful. From the younger more rambunctious male members of the crowd there even arose scattered cheers of affirmation, but still he continued, “Until the Talpas, the monsters of the dark, return and lay waste to that peace again.”

Deathly silence. Hope cut off at the knees. Somewhere a man shouted out half in anger half in despair, “But what can we do!?” Throughout the audience similar cries echoed – all reaffirming the fact that they could not, would not fight back against the monsters of lore.

The soft ringing voice of the female Aruspex interrupted the panicked audience. It was gentle, alluring even and soon all was silent while she spoke, “I think you all know what can be done. You’ve heard the rumors.”

Another whisper from the crowd, “The Book.”

“But it’s just a rumor!” Someone else retaliated, “And even if it weren’t what could any of us do! I’m just a farmer! You’re a peddler! We’d never make it anywhere near the damned thing!”

Again the alluring voice interrupted, “I’ve seen it. I know it to exist,” she paused a moment to allow the news to fester, “And if you can’t make it…hire someone who can.”

“With what!? Even if we pool what little money we have left, it wouldn’t be enough to tempt anyone to venture on such a journey!” The same farmer countered.

The well dressed, mysteriously out of place, suspicious man once again stepped forward while motioning to the two maybe-Bellatores behind him. Upon his signal the two men lifted a coffin-sized case out of the carriage and dropped it before their employer, who then opened it revealing a mountain of gold, which immediately stirred the crowd.

“I too want nothing more than to see the Talpas reign of terror end. Pool your funds with mine and together we will offer a reward great enough to make kings and queens of any men or women who can close that nightmarish Book and bring it back to me, as evidence of their deed.”

A buzz rippled through the crowd. This was possible, with this strange man’s aid they could do it. They could put an end to this never-ending cycle of disaster. “What say you?”

Almost unanimously a thunderous, “Aye!” rang through the gathered Bellatores.

The man smiled a strange smile, it wasn’t one of satisfaction – not yet anyway, but it was getting there, and there was something strangely content albeit unnatural about the upturned corners of his lips, they curled too much, drew too far back, but among so many happy, determined, and satisfied faces, no one would notice such a small thing as a strange smile. “In that case, spread the word! Tell everyone who is able that the greatest reward goes to the one who brings back that book!”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Vivienne Talos Character Portrait: Ezra LeFalle Character Portrait: Xander Ozzick Character Portrait: Adley Ambrosia Character Portrait: Ciardha Aisling Character Portrait: Abraxas

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Ezra LeFalle

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❝I will fight for those who cannot ❞
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ɗιαƖσgυє cσƖσя:#BF4000 ♙ тнσυgнт cσƖσя Brown
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It really was just like any other day spent outside. The flowers were in full bloom and there was just the smallest trace of the moon. Fire rampaged through the village, consuming everything in its path. Just like the two Talpas that were also running amok. . . . On second thought maybe it wasn’t just another outing. The screams of hysteria were clearly originating from this once peaceful town, along with the bellows from the Talpas that caused the frenzied movements and screeching. Men, women and children alike ran about, trying their best to avoid the monstrous beings as well as save their homes from the burning fires. Upon closer inspection there was but a single head that wasn’t screaming itself off to who knows where. That one particular head belonged to a young man by the name of Ezra LeFalle. A fellow Bellatore who saw nothing but people who needed saving and so he went about rescuing people from the destruction the Talpas were currently making.

One act of heroism nearly resulted in the poor lad in losing his other eye to the Ichneumon. The damn thing lost a potential meal but it’s attention was taken by another screaming fellow, who just so happened to be a lot more plump than the woman Ezra had saved. The young man didn’t really know where to start. He really didn’t. While he was able to save one person from the jaws of a Talpas, another succumbed to the fire that the other threw out from it’s snake tail and the people really weren’t helping. He’d go to help a group only for them to run off screaming again and into the muscled arms of a Talpa. They just don’t know how to sit still do they? Don’t get me wrong, Erza loves to save people's lives, it’s what makes him, well him. But when the very people you’re trying to save keep getting themselves . . . unsaved, well even for Ezra that can make a person tired. Pausing just long enough to survey the ongoing damage, the redhead saw a child screaming at what was presumed to be her home. The very image made the self-proclaimed knight cringe, for the child's mother was trapped inside the flaming house. He knew that if he were to go save the woman, he’d no doubt damage his lungs even more but he really didn’t care at the moment. Someone needed his help, and while they weren’t calling for it, he felt obligated to go.

He rushed off towards the girl, just barely dodging the stream of flames the chimera decided to throw his way. “Please keep it to yourself!” Ezra knew yelling at the silver creature would do nothing but it certainly made him feel a little better. Upon reaching the girl, Ezra pulled out Schwarze Ritter, the baby daddy of the two swords he carried. The situation definitely called for the big guy but it seemed the sight of such a large sword scared the small girl. He ignored her however and swung Schwarze Ritter with all his might at the barricaded door. The blasted thing caved in from the sheer weight of the blow. With a second swing of his sword, the barricade finally gave in, revealing a mother who just moments ago believed she was done for. Seeing Ezra stand there with his sword hoisted over his shoulder, along with the flames at his back, truly made Ezra seem like the gallant knight he aimed to be. The mother called out to her daughter, embracing her when the two met. She turned around to thank the mysterious young man but he had already run off to save someone else.

It definitely seemed to have taken eons but the two Talpas’s rampage finally came to an end. A very much needed end when you think about it. Ezra plopped down on the ground, holding Blasse Dame close to his chest. Over the course of the event he had switched to the sleek and prettier sword to fend of attacks from the Talpas. The poor knight was covered in bruises, scrapes, cuts, not to mention all the sweat that had accumulated during the whole ordeal. Wiping his brother with his already drenched handkerchief, yes knights do carry them, Ezra surveyed the scene before him. Many of the fires had already either been put out by Bellatores or had consumed everything in sight and died off on their own. The fire left nothing but skeletons and charred remains of what had once been a bustling city. With a heavy sigh, he stood back up to, once again, help the people now that he had gotten himself patched up.

For the most part Ezra just walked around, asking if his help was needed, and for the remaining part he just joined in without being asked to. The Bellatores were thankful for the help and some of them recognized him as the crazy fool who defied the Talpas when they tried to get a meal. Some patted him on the back while others just called him crazy. Ezra couldn’t really argue about the crazy part as he too wondered if he was crazy sometimes. He mostly helped out with the hard labour, leaving his heavy belted armour in the hands of the mother and child he had saved earlier. His trust in them may have been a little misguided but he had some faith that they wouldn’t just run off with their saviours things and sell it. In truth, Ezra didn’t care if he lost the armour. As long as he had his two blades he was perfectly fine although losing his armour would still make his heart ache. His beloved teacher had made them just for him after all.

In thinking this, Ezra’s mind wandered off to the past but the sound of a horse's hooves hitting the scorched cobble stones caught his attention. Of all the things he was expecting, a horse and subsequent entourage wasn’t one of them. With a curious quirk of his brow, Ezra, like the rest of the villagers, gathered at the center of the city. Ezra had never encountered such a well dressed man before and he most certainly never a prophetess, at least that’s what some of the others were saying. In all his travels, Ezra had only ever met fellow Bellatores. He wasn’t sure if he was lucky or if he just didn’t have the sense to meet the other species in Nominum. He listened while the mysterious fancy man spoke, saying something about rebuilding and burials. None of that really caught his attention surprisingly. They were things that he knew were going to happen regardless of whether the fancy guy preached about it. The cries from the other Bellatores did however catch his attention. Now listening with the intent to actually digest the words being spoken, Ezra’s face seemed to light up at the mention of The Book. The very idea of going off an adventure to get it made him pretty excited about it. Even with money involved, Ezra didn’t care. As long as he could help out the people, in this case the entire population of Nominum, he was perfectly fine. When he thought more on this, he knew that going on his own probably won’t help much which would explain why the fancy man was using money as an incentive.

“In that case, spread the word! Tell everyone who is able that the greatest reward goes to the one who brings back that book!”

This last cry got the crowd all excited. It even got Ezra excited as his own voice joined the chorus of “Ayes”. Laughing to himself, Ezra went to check on his things. It’d definitely be a pain if he lost his armor but he would definitely be heartbroken if his beloved blades were stolen. He smiled and thanked the mother and girl, gathering up the armor and the blades. With his swords on his back and armor in his arms, he didn’t feel like putting it on yet, Ezra approached the fancy man and the three that accompanied him. “I hear you guys need a he-someone?” Making sure not to say hero. For some reason people hated that word. Well the people he came across anway. He smiled at the group, a bit unsure on what to do now that he showed his interest in this mission.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Vivienne Talos Character Portrait: Ezra LeFalle Character Portrait: Xander Ozzick Character Portrait: Adley Ambrosia Character Portrait: Ciardha Aisling

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Adley Ambrosia

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“Come on little fella, you can do it.” Adley whispered, her voice like a gentle breeze, as she kneaded the soil in her garden behind her chalet, urging the herbs to grow. Her agrimony bloomed and a soft smile touched her petal pink lips in appreciation for her success.

She sighed with contentment as her arctic blue eyes roamed around her allotment of earth. The only light came from the shard of the moon directly above. This was her preferred kind of day, unobtrusive yet full of activity. She stood, brushing the earth from her delicate frame, and inhaled deeply. She was met with the succulent scent of blossoming buds…and smoke?

A moment of sheer terror burned its way through her as she had a flash back to the last inferno she faced. Panic clawed at her throat and froze her to the spot as flames danced in her memories. She caught site of her blooming agrimony and let out a breath she hadn’t realized she had been holding. It was not only known for its use in balancing emotions and enhanced healing, but also in banishing fear.

Shaking off her dread and steeling herself she walked towards the front of her cottage. She could hear the faint sound of roars, and screams of terror. On the horizon she could see the town she sold her herbs at was painted red and orange. She knew immediately, even at full speed on foot, she would never make it on time to aid in defending the pitiable beings. In the distance she saw the sun coming up and knew with very little peace, that the carnage would be over soon as Talpas where not fond of the sun.

Aldey gathered her scattered thoughts and entered her cottage in a hurry. She may not be able to defend them but she hoped to at least be able to help clean up some of the damage and maybe heal some injuries. She pulled out some of the vials of blood she kept for emergencies and slid them into her kimono pockets. She hurried around her cottage to find the necessary herbs and slid them into a small pouch. Adley gathered her two Odachi's and secured them to her back before locking the door and exiting her home.

Setting off at a brusque pace she started on the path headed through the woods towards the town. Deadly silence made her nervous and she ran, keeping her eyes and ears open for any signs of danger. She heard a snap of a twig to her left and came to an abrupt halt, twisting and pulling out one of her Odachi's, ready to take one whatever dared come at her. Her heavy panting from the exertion of running met with silence. All she heard was her own beating heart. She held stock still and scanned the surrounding area, but found no movement…yet she got the distinct impression of someone, or something watching her. After a moment she brushed off the sensation. There was no time to linger, there where people in need.

She came to the village in time to help put out many of the fires and use some of her herbal remedies to heal some of the burned, and bless the dead. Hours of labor nearly brought her to her knees in exhaustion. When the townsfolk where called to arms by the well dress man, Adley trudged along silently.

“Many of you here have lost a great deal in these last twenty-four hours. Homes, family, livelihoods. And for that you have my sympathy and my respect because those of you here survived. You fought through the terror that ravaged your homes and now get to live another day.”

Adley was surprised to find his voice grated on her nerves. It was strange but this man rubbed her the wrong way.

“Until the Talpas, the monsters of the dark, return and lay waste to that peace again.”
The man continued unrelenting. That captured her attention. He was frightening these poor people…but he was not mistaken. She knew too well what Talpas were capable of.

“But what can we do!?” A willow thin man to her left cried out his face contorted in ire and dread ringing in his voice.

“I think you all know what can be done. You’ve heard the rumors.” The ethereal woman standing to the man said, her voice smooth and enthralling. Adley tipped her head in curiosity, examining the woman. Her attention was drawn back to the throng as she heard whispers of the book. Of course she had heard rumors of the Book, but she wasn’t sure she believed them. Then again many unbelievable things existed in Nominum.

“I too want nothing more than to see the Talpas reign of terror end. Pool your funds with mine and together we will offer a reward great enough to make kings and queens of any men or women who can close that nightmarish Book and bring it back to me, as evidence of their deed.” The man said. The crowd hailed and she watched silently. She considered the pros and cons of the situation. She could stand to make some money to rebuild her parents Apothecary.

‘…and how hard could it be to find a mythical, untraceable book that hasn’t been seen or heard from in god knows how long?’ She thought as she stood. She hesitated to approach the man though she was slightly interested in in the proposition. She from a distance as man with spiky blood red hair, some of which fell over his right eye. She noted his eyes where the same shade of brilliant red as his hair, and they seemed to glow with excitement at the prospect of the adventure. As she watched him she listened to their conversation. Rude? Yes, extremely. Effective in gleaning information so she didn’t have to have contact with the man who made her uncomfortable? Also yes.

“I hear you guys need a he-someone?” The newcomer said. Adley bit back a smile as she listened. She wasn’t sure if he was indicating that they needed a man for the job or if he was trying not to call himself a hero. She waited wordlessly for their response, hoping to garner some facts without being detected.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Xander Ozzick Character Portrait: Zayna Khoury

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#, as written by Smeath
Xander Ozzick

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Dialogue|Navy Thoughts|Silver

"Just need to keep pushing."

That's all the young Wanderer thought while he trudged through this snowstorm. It had seemingly come from nowhere to his path. He wondered for a moment, if this was meant to kill him. This whirling cloud of oppressive white, roaring winds through his ears. But that thought was replaced by his focus on the world at-large. Death would never waste his time trying to claim him.


He hauled himself quickly to one of the buildings of the ghost-village, and drew his dagger. He carved a number of words into the side, laying down protective words that would shortly guard his temporary shelter from unwanted intruders. He carved a complex string detailing the entrances as forbidden to all who would wish harm upon Xander, and that they would only strike once they were breached.


Satisfied with his wording, after making a few corrections here or there, the Wanderer climbs inside. The building itself is in surprisingly livable condition for his situation, walls that would shield him from the snows and winds. Furniture, as damaged as it was, for him to break apart for firewood. And a suitable space for him to lay out his bedroll to rest, to keep the cold from sapping his strength as he slept.


"This should do. Need to get to work." The wanderer muttered to himself as he set about his tasks, clearing a spot close to the wall facing the winds and planting his hefty pack down next to it. Next, he began picking through the remainders of the furniture, breaking down a simple table into a base and wood. He made an effort to smash up a few chairs as well for additional fuel and kindling, before retrieving his dagger once more, and carving 'Ignite this stick' deep into the wood of one of the chair legs, before promptly tossing it onto a small pile, where it would then catch fire, and then intensify into a full-out fire, contained by a circle of stones he kept to prevent the fire from spreading.


The sounds could likely be heard for a mile or so, but he didn't care. He sat down on his bedroll, and started to eat his before-rest meal, making certain not to eat more than the allotment he had set out for each meal. It wasn't an odd thing, having to ration out his food in this way. At least not for him. Having been wandering for a while, he'd gotten used to the idea.


Survival, for anybody who chooses to wander, is a paramount talent to learn. You need to learn how to take advantage of your situation, how to spot key details others would not notice, and you need to maintain a sharp and alert mind. Most of all, you need to learn how to be tough, to live through many mistakes and dangers that would otherwise kill you. The body of a man might be weak, but the spirit must be strong, must endure in order to piece the body back together again.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Vivienne Talos Character Portrait: Ezra LeFalle Character Portrait: Xander Ozzick Character Portrait: Adley Ambrosia Character Portrait: Ciardha Aisling

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Adley Ambrosia

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“No. Not just us. This entire world is in need of someone to free it. But of course, you knew this already. That is the reason why you’ve stepped forward, is it not Mr…?” The man who made her slightly uncomfortable paused briefly for a moment before continuing with a fraudulent charm that rubbed her wrong. “Correct me if I have misunderstood your intent, but you wish to take on the challenge. So if I may, I’ll first applaud your courage, but it’s only fair to warn you, this is no easy task and not one to be endeavored alone. Moreover, though my prophetess has seen the book, not even she with all her power can derive its precise location. Only one who has been to its source can locate it, and only Talpas have been. Your challenge is two-fold, for first you must extract the information from a Talpas who can give it. Then you must either tear your way through legions of beasts or attempt to evade them as you approach the final stop on you quest.” The gentleman said.

Adley, having gleaned all the information she assumed she would, she drifted back away from the crowd feeling slightly claustrophobic. She knew the female, the prophetess, had seen her, and that made her uncomfortable though she could not pinpoint why. Maybe it was because in large, people generally did not notice her. She thought of the details of the expedition she had gotten. The quest sounded impossible, and yet compelling. She meandered around the village her mind nomadic. Was the challenge, the money, worth the risk?

Adley paused, coming to her wits as she stopped in front of a familiar pile of debris. Her eyes took in the disaster as she felt shards of pain in her chest. She had a brief flash of a memory:

Sunlight warmed her face as she ran around the garden, giggling. A root caught her foot and the ground came up to meet her suddenly. Pain seared in her hand, deep-sea blue blood swelled from the scrape on her limb.

Then two hands, large and calloused from work…yet tender as they caressed her face and wiped her eyes. In her minds she could see a large form that blocked out the sun. He brushed off the dirt and hugged her, protecting her from the world. She could remember the earthy scent that came from him, her father. The deep rumble of his voice that made her feel safe…

The temperate whisper of her mother’s voice soothing the pain without even touching it. Gentle lips brushed her wound, and she caught the smell of lilacs and love...the smell of her mother. Light made a halo around her mother’s head showing her to be the angel she was.


‘…was.’ The word reverberated through her head. She missed them so much it hurt. Her heart squeezed as she examined the rubble that once was the Apothecary, and her child hood home. She realized that tears fell from her face as she touched one of the charred walls.

Determination, like a bitter wind, blew through her hardening her resolve. She needed the money to rebuild the Apothecary in her parent’s honor. Now she just needed to figure out where to start.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Xander Ozzick Character Portrait: Zayna Khoury

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Had it stopped? The snow? Against the better judgment of most living things due to the ever-present fear of an eternal slumber, Zayna had closed her eyes and kept them closed throughout the remnants of the isolated blizzard’s spell. And though she suspected the snowy storm to have passed she had yet to reopen them, so she couldn’t be certain. Perhaps some part of her feared that if she did finally set her gaze upon a cloudless colorful landscape the silence would pass and the earsplitting racket of life would begin again. And even if life remained silent, she doubted Dybbuk would.

However, the fleeting silence seemed to have other plans for the day and would soon flee the area. As the snowstorm passed it left behind a muted scene of white. Yet, though most often muted – the crystalline powder could also carry an echo far across its vast plain. And it was one such echo, or series of, that coaxed her spring green eyes, which were a stark color contrast to her wintery locale, open.

Reflected light filtered into her orbs and instinctually she recoiled, frowned, and squinted against the resulting discomfort while her vision adjusted. However, eventually her pupils diminished and her vision sharpened, allowing her to distinguish the many dark structures that were the abandoned buildings of her home.

Though this was all familiar. What had disturbed her solitary tranquility was the unfamiliar telltale that she was no longer alone.

Crawling across the snow was the sound of sputtering flames and the pop of burning wood. For the first time since she lay down, she stirred. Her muscles came to life – a series of shudders rippled through her lethargic limbs as she forced herself to sit up. The snow fluttered and drifted from her body to the ground around her and, having lost her blanket of ice, Zayna faced the horror of a light breeze, which cooled her damp skin and sodden hair and wings – she shivered for the first time since the snow arrived. Cold!

Pale arms wrapped around her divested torso in a vain attempt to halt the spreading goose bumps and trembles. Nonetheless, she managed to return her attention to the catalyst of her situation. Piercing eyes scanned the sky above the town, and quickly she located that clue she had been searching for.

Smoke.

Dark grey and close enough that she could smell ash in the air, it alerted her to the presence of a nearby traveler. I wonder? A merchant, perhaps?

She grasped her quilt from beneath her and wrapped it around herself hiding her body and wings from sight – it was damp, but it was adequate for the purpose she intended.

Zayna was not usually one to seek out weary travelers, although she never avoided them either. However, from time to time even she fell victim to the pranks of curiosity – though, this time her obvious intrusion into the mysterious visitor’s company had little to do with the meddlesome trickster. Rather, she couldn’t help but notice that the ashen billow seemed to reside nearly directly above her and her mother’s home.

This was a little more than worrisome, and perhaps a small bit irksome.

After all, just because a house may seem abandoned, doesn’t always mean it is. With much effort and no small degree of growing physical numbness, Zayna trudged through the snow.

It might behoove her to invest in a pair of shoes. While she could justify the absence of an appropriate top – all blame quickly being thrust upon the presence of her two rather useless feathered appendages – she had no excuse for her utter lack of footwear.

Within a few minutes she encountered her house, and low and behold her initial apprehension was unjustified. Her house was untouched. However, the neighboring building was less so. At this point, she supposed she no longer had any reason to bother the guest. But, having come all this way, it seemed a waste not to, so she proceeded forward. Admittedly, her approach was not the silent one she would have liked to claim – the snow-laden ground forbid silence. However, Zayna was dubious any but the most aware would have heard her nonetheless.

As she neared the front door of the occupied building, she grew increasingly cautious. The air around the construction was heavy, not in a dreadful manner, but rather as if the air itself had been interwoven with some form of magic – a different kind than the one nestled in her feathers. However, though powerful – it didn’t seem aggressive and she sense that as long as she remained outside the building, where the air remained light, she would not be affected by any spell. As she had come to this conclusion about the bewitchment cast upon the house, she had conjointly decided to furtively peer into the house through the empty doorway.

Her green gaze was drawn first to the quivering embers that illuminated every corner of the usually dark room. She could feel the warmth as each stroke of light brushed her face and ignited a light in her eye. It was a comfortable warmth that invited her in – but common sense warned her against the deceitful invitation of an open flame. Besides, there were other far more interesting things in the room.

Like a person for starters.

Her hands habitually tightened their grip on the front of her quilt, securing it, while her eyes gently narrowed in a curious but dissecting gaze. Definitely not a merchant. She could just make out some of his facial features from the doorway, he seemed relatively fair, and well put together with long onyx locks, not unlike her own – though his most striking feature were his blue eyes that likely shined enough on their own, but seemed to burn even brighter with the light of the fire.

Zayna was perhaps slightly jealous of the lightly shaded orbs. But she wouldn’t linger on such silly thoughts, as it were her own were appealing and equally as bright in their own right.

She could smell food, though it was faint odor, he likely had just finished eating. Speaking of, the Lagoi woman now realized she had not eaten as of yet.

Almost as if the thought had somehow cued her body into action, her stomach none to loudly rumbled in protest of its emptiness. She barely flushed, as most do, and silently chided her physiological response to hunger for displaying itself at this most inopportune time.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Xander Ozzick Character Portrait: Zayna Khoury

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#, as written by Smeath
Xander Ozzick

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Dialogue|Navy Thoughts|Silver

"Now, if I head east. I could get past this snow...but no, if I headed east, there'd be a number of other problems I'd have to deal with..."

The Wanderer argued with himself, his expression shifting between consideration and slight anger as he weighed the odds of his options and the other factors surrounding his situation.


For a moment, it seemed that he would be unaware of his surroundings, having not noticed the white-winged girl approach, being as caught up in his own thoughts as he often was. After all, he had a lot to think about. The snow had caught him off-guard, and to him, it felt almost deliberate in its placement. Almost as if somebody either didn't want him passing, or didn't want people finding the town.


That thought, was when he heard the stomach grumble. He knew it wasn't himself, he'd just eaten. He knew it wasn't in the house, because he'd searched it after setting up his camp. That left the doorway or the roof, and he decided on the doorway, as a cursory glance up revealed the roof to be safe.


He went straight for his dagger, having just finished eating, he'd tossed the wooden dish he'd found to use for his food into the fire to keep it burning for longer. He was on his feet and facing the door, dagger out and in a guarded stance, staring steel into the girl at the doorway "Who are you? What do you want? If you're considering attacking me, I'd advise against it. The Words will make sure you get to me in pieces." he stated, making certain to state his current position of strength. After all, he had just gotten himself set up for the night, he wouldn't be chased out of a ghost town by someone who lived in the remains.


Although, part of him clearly felt conflicted. This girl, with her quilt, apparent lack of food, and the clear signs of hypothermia starting its attack on her body. This portion was clearly visible, given the mixture of conflict and sheer determination on his face. Part of him was distrustful of this girl who'd found her way here, but the other part saw her for what he perceived her to be, a Bellatore girl. Or perhaps, considering the lack of marks on much of her body, and inability to see her palms or wrists, a Venifici.


Either way, if she stepped past the words, he would know the truth of the matter. All that was left to do was stand there until she either approached, soon-to-be-dead or alive, or simply left for fear that should she prove to actually *be* hostile, and that the words would attack, and so would he. Of course, should she enter unharmed, he would probably do what he must for someone else who seems out on their luck and surviving by the skin of their teeth. After all, he was a survivor first, a Raconteur second, and wanderer a short third.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Xander Ozzick Character Portrait: Zayna Khoury

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Credit must be given where credit is due, and Zayna had to admit that she was vaguely impressed with the speed with which the young man had moved. She herself had found her own movements delayed, or rather nonexistent, likely as a direct result of the chill, and had simply stared dumbly while he reached for his weapon and threw away a perfectly good wooden plate, which she might have considered keeping.

Apparently, she was more terrifying than she had originally assumed – although considering the environment of Nominum, it seems sensible that he would be on guard.

It wasn’t until the man’s eyes hardened on her form and he’d raised his weapon that her attention focused upon the aggression he was presenting and the potential jeopardy that put her in. This directly resulted in a painfully conspicuous flinch rearward. She might have cursed her flighty instinct, but it had saved her multiple times, so she let this humiliation pass. However, to add insult to injury her aggravation with herself doubled when he spoke and she flinched again. "Who are you? What do you want? If you're considering attacking me, I'd advise against it. The Words will make sure you get to me in pieces."

The Words? Her eyebrows furrowed in clear puzzlement as the man spoke. His words had sparked a whole slew of questions, though admittedly she seemed to have focused on the wrong part of his sentence.

Xander questioned himself internally as he watched the girl, and as she watched him, "This girl, she doesn't seem to be the aggressive. Her eyes give away a lot of what she's feeling. There's no real fear in her expression, but there's something holding her back. I'm not getting any harmful desire, either. But what's keeping her back?" It was clear to him that she was observing her situation as much as he was. So at least she was smart, but doubtless his choice of wording earlier gave away his race. However, she seemed to not hold any real change in expression that would give away any new information.

For her part, Zayna was in deep deliberation. She had heard from a traveler once, as a young girl, of men who could bring words to life. What were they called? Raconteurs? Was this young man one such creature? How curious. In any other situation she might have arraigned him with queries, however, as she resurveyed the situation it was quite apparent this was neither the time nor place. Though that latter fact didn’t stop her curiosity from being apparent.

Even to Xander, she seemed to want to talk, though this thought surprised him. In-fact, he seemed to drop his guard a little when this realization came about, which had Zayna been paying closer attention to his stance and had any combat knowledge was something she might have noticed. However as it were she did not and consequently was unaware that the raconteur was speculating on herself – she was someone who, rather than attack him, was actually willing to talk? He had to let this girl in. It would only be proper courtesy to do so.

Recalling what he said and the magic she had sensed earlier, she considered what he meant. So, either aggression triggers the magic or simply stepping foot in the room triggers the magic. Zayna had no plans to attack the young man, however with the presence of Dybbuk and her uncertainty of the rules, she decided against entering the building. Moreover, it seemed clear to her that he didn’t want her here and was both armed and willing to harm her if she lingered.

Therefore, her cowardice drove her away.

Compliantly she began to back away, but her vibrant, fearless eyes never left his and never gave in, ”I apologize. I did not intend to intrude. I was only…curious. I’ll leave you.” Her words disarmed Xander totally. He slid his dagger back into its sheath almost immediately. She wasn't holding any ill-will toward him, and this surprised him.

Then he spoke, allowing his tone to return to its regular pace and an almost unused warmth "Hold on a moment." he began, hoping to clear up this mistake and hopefully at least acquire some conversational company for the evening.

Zayna’s ears twitched and she paused in her retreat at his entreaty to hear out what he had to say, "You don't seem to be the type to attack someone without due reason. What are you doing out there? It's deathly cold. If you really hold no ill will toward me, I can assure you, my words will bring you no harm." he states "They're only really there to keep out wild animals and insects. Things that would kill me in my sleep."

The male even took a moment to actually approach the door, offering a hand to hopefully convince her to stay with him at least for the evening. World knows, he could use the company.

Initially, when the man approached her – even after putting away his dagger – Zayna couldn’t help her instinctual desire to fall back. However, she suppressed it and held her ground. When his hand, the one which had previously held a dangerous weapon, rose towards her, she narrowed her suspicious gaze on it, then flitted said gaze back to the man’s eyes. ”I love the snow. It’s peaceful.”

Cautiously, experimentally as if she was distrustful of this man’s words – both spoken and written – Zayna reached from beneath her damp quilt into the warmth of the room – hesitating only momentarily as the pale limb crossed the threshold, her free hand extended towards the raconteurs while her feet gradually followed suit.

Without her realizing it, the Lagoi woman had been holding her breath and when her body had entirely infiltrated the room she released it with a slow sigh. Apparently, she held no ill will for the man – or at least the Dybbuk’s ill will simply wasn’t detected by the Raconteur’s words. ”It would seem you can rest easy since I truly don’t mean to do you harm. Though I wonder if it isn’t I who is most relieved by this.”

She bowed her head momentarily as a form of greeting, ”I welcome you to my home town, though it is a rather unkind place. I am Zayna."

For a moment, Xander watched and wondered, even as he held the woman's hand and escorted her into his temporary residence. Once she'd crossed the threshold unharmed, he nodded, satsified.

Her body language read that she seemed worried about something, though he temporaraily dismissed it as just her fear of destruction. All things reacted differently when faced with death. He'd learned this long ago. Once she had introduced herself, and that this place was her home, he returned her short head-bow, before introducing himself.

"A pleasure, miss Zayna. I am Xander, Wanderer of Nominum. Your town has treated me far kinder than many, the snow aside. It has granted me far more than other places. A shield from the wind, fuel for my fires, and a place to lay my wards, that I might rest easier."

The Lagoi woman raised a curios eyebrow as he spoke. A wanderer, is it? Zayna had thought as much since his lack of wares made it apparent he wasn't a merchant. Now she wondered what it was he wandered for. Perhaps knowledge? Fame? Was he fleeing dangers? Maybe a criminal? She thirsted for an intriguing tale - new stories to spend her time pondering. Having none her of her own, she couldn't help hoping he might have a few. "It pleases me to hear that," indiscreetly she moved slightly closer to the flames, hoping to dry herself out while she conversed.

"I must confess, I've never wandered further than the town borders - though I've heard my fair share of stories, so you've piqued my curiosity. From where have you come and why do you wander?" She paused, nearly interupting herself. It was a sudden realization that struck her - these questions were likely far too personal for him to answer after having just met her. Abashed with herself, her free hand rose to her mouth, "I am as poor a hostest as this town it seems. These questions are likely to make you uncomfortable."

Xander waves the questions off with relative ease "They bother me little. I've been asked before, and I'll likely be asked again. I hail from a small estate outside of an above-average-sized town, though the name and location I'll not share for the safety of my family." Zayna nodded kindly in understanding, though she could not honestly claim such understanding, and continued to direct her attention to the Raconteur.

As he speaks, he walks over to the fire, and takes a seat, offering her to sit across from him, an offer that Zayna was perhaps momentarily hestant to accept but accepted nonetheless, "And why I choose to wander, well...that's a long and tiresome story. Doubtless it would hold little interest for one such as yourself."

She cocked her head and an unusually mischevious and inquisitive smile snuck itself into place upon her lips, "Oh? So you know me so well already then?" pulled her legs up and rested her chin on her knees, "It seems unfair as I know so little of you, though."

Xander prods the fire idly with what appears to have once been a table leg as he replies "Honestly, I've made a prediction based on past events. The last girl I told my story to fell asleep. Doubtless I know little of you and how you think, but if you insist, I will tell you."

Zayna watched the embers flicker into the air as he prod the flames, and smiled while she responded to his admittance, "I do insist."

Xander rolls his shoulders, setting the wooden rod aside. He rubs his jaw for a moment, preparing for a bit of a long talk. For Zayna's part, she readjusted her quilt around her shoulder and discreetly adjusted her wings behind her, so that she'd be comfortable to listen to what she was sure would be a wonderfully interesting story.

The young man cleared his throat, and began to speak "As you are no doubt aware, I am a Raconteur. Someone who can quite literally bring words to life. I was born third of five children, as odd as that sounds, but thankfully my parents held a high office, and could support so many young lives. I was also the only son." He stops for a moment, shrugging before he moves on.

"Strange, I know. My sisters all took up a variety of different occuptations, though I have no doubt they still return home to tend to our parents. As I got older, I was taught how to control my gift by my father, and the many purposes for which I could wield it. I studied hard, learning much of the way the world as a whole works. This is a simple requirement, and I will not go into detail about exactly how much I learned or how often I had simply locked myself in my room to read." he explains, simply brushing off the more tedious details.

"However, I did not simply rest on my laurels and read. My elder sisters insisted, caring as they were, that I learn more about how to wield my body as well as my mind. I achieved some semblance of acrobatic and physical aptitude under the tutelage of my second sister, but what was most important was my eldest, she taught me how to focus my body, turning it into a weapon, rather than just a vessel." he states, his expression revealing a genuine joy at thinking back to his time at home.

The young wanderer sighs, remorsefully "But, by the time I had reached nineteen, my parents had lined up ladies from the city to arrange a wedding. As you can probably guess, I found this disagreeable, and left. The girls my parents had lined up for me were either greedy, untrustworthy, or flat-out psychotic." Upon hearing the last bit of his final statement, Zayna covered her mouth in an attempt to hide a chuckle.

He shakes his head, solemnly "So, now I wander. I thought at first of calling myself a 'traveler', but then I realized that being a traveler implied I had a destination. I don't really have a destination, I'm just trying to stay away from home, hoping that my parents don't send my sisters after me, hoping the others don't find me. A lot of hoping happens with me, I've noticed." he notes, rambling a little.

The Lagoi stared for a moment at the Raconteur, slowly but surely processing all he had said before closing her eyes and nodding solemnly, "I think a lot of hoping happens with everyone these days." Unintentionally, her tone had taken a less than hopeful tune as she spoke, but she quickly caught herself - this was no time for sadenning thoughts after all, "On a happier note, that story was not nearly as humdrum as you made it out to be, quite the opposite in fact. I wish my life was half as interesting as yours has been." The Raconteur shrugs "I digress, but the world is all about perspective."

"I take it, since you are not a traveler with no particular direction, that would mean our meeting was nothing more than happy chance, then? How lucky we are indeed." Her gaze drifted back to the fire, "Do you truly have no desire to return, though? There are few that are as lucky as you to have such a large family, still in tact, it seems a shame not to rejoice in their company from time to time."

Once again, Zayna's mouth rose to her lips in a useless attempt to catch her words while she frowned at her own heedlessness, she was spouting off nonesense she had no right to speak, she realized. "Oh, I'm doing it again. I'm sorry. Please don't mind me." Xander raises a hand in response, nodding "Its okay. You're actually correct. I want to return home, just a bit. Though, I'm fairly certain that if I go back, I'll simply be back where I started. Stuck having to decide between three options that I hate and fleeing again."

Normally, Zayna was less likely to preach about such things as this - though don't dare initiate a conversation concerning whether you have or have not earned something, she will lecture you until she feels rightly satisfied, and such satisfaction is likely never to occur. However, the snow seemed to have numbed her self-awareness somewhat and brought about a more pensive and loose-lipped part of her she had likely forgotten she possessed.

Now having heard, Xander's justification, she dropped the matter all together, "I understand, you're situation is yours and no one knows it better than you. That being said, I fear I've kept you up for too long, I will leave you to your rest now."

Xander once more shrugs in response "I've got plenty of space here. You're welcome to stay and enjoy the flames. Have you eaten? I've got more than enough food to spare for my trip to the east."

Zayna instantly recoiled at the though of accepting this man's charity, though he might not have considered it as such, moreover, it seemed both inappropriate and unsafe to sleep in the same room as a man she had only just met. "I thank you for your generosity, but I'm sure you will understand if I must decline it. I'm afraid that having just met you, though you've been nothing but hospitable thus far, I find it difficult to be at ease resting here, moreover, I have food of my own not too far from here so I will be fine." As she spoke, she had begun to rise to her feet, carefully making sure her quilt remained in place and her wings stayed hidden, once standing she nodded her head both in thanks and farewell and turned toward the door she had come through.

Xander calmly accepts her refusal "Oh well, I suppose it never hurt to ask." he sets his bedroll out to lay down "I hope you don't mind me asking, but as you know, I'm heading off in the morning. Would you be willing to join me? I've shared much of myself with you, and I'd like to learn a bit more about you, and what better way than to travel together?" he offers, causing her to pause and glance back at him. She seemed to be bored, or tensed-up, about simply staying here. May as well provide some kind of offer to get her out of here, if she was lacking an excuse. And he could use a companion on the road, another pair of hands setting up camp or performing other tasks was always helpful. As well as more useful for keeping one sane on the road.

Admittedly, Zayna was at a slight loss for words. She met his gaze for a second before looking away and out the door, clearly in thought, "You don't know anything about me beyond my name and travel does help in gaining more information about others as well as oneself, but...I know nothing of travel and I'd likely slow you down. Plus, I could be a potential threat - just because I haven't turned on you tonight doesn't mean it won't happen in the future." She redirected her challenging gaze back at him, "Plus, what guarantee do I have this isn't a trap meant for me?"

"I guess, what I'm asking is: why offer so quickly to travel with someone you've just met?" She smiled, and looked away again. "Well, I'll at least consider it while I rest tonight. Perhaps, you should do the same. If you still feel wish me to accompany you, I'll give you my response then." With a final nod, the Lagoi woman took her leave of he Raconteur and began her short journey home.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Xander Ozzick Character Portrait: Zayna Khoury

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The door closed behind the white-winged Lagoi as she stepped into the small, well-kept home. The little building consisted only of one room, but the room was separated into two parts by a single step and an elevated floor in one half of the room and a dirt floor in the other. It was on this latter half that a wooden rack sat nearby a little fire pit waiting to be used. In the former elevated half of the room a small pile of quilts amassed atop worn bedding.

The young woman quickly gathered some wood pieces from the pile she kept stored by the pit and located the flint stone she had grown accustomed to using during these colder nights. She then turned back towards the door, grabbed the small water bucket she kept there, opened the door once more, fetched some snow enough to fill the pail then returned inside. Afterwards she set the pail by the fire. As part of a routine she had grown accustomed to performing every night for the past five years, after lighting and warming up the little room and retrieving water for the next morning, the woman shed her damp quilt and clothes and spread them on the rack near the fire to dry then nestled herself in her bedroll to sleep.

Though this time, she didn’t immediately close her eyes and embrace sleep. She had too much on her mind for that. While travelers had come and gone many times in the five years, none had ever asked her to accompany them. At most they asked for the companionship of one of her feathers, but not her. It was strange to think she actually could leave this village.

Many times as a child she dreamed of traversing the outside world, but she never acted upon those dreams. Because though it was a dream, to actually do it terrified her. Somehow she had grown comfortable with the lonely monotony of her life and somewhere along the lines she stopped dreaming all together.

Perhaps the key to maintaining herself and defeating Dybbuk, however, was to dream. To have something to live for, to strive for?

But to leave with a man she hardly knew? That couldn’t be wise. Moreover, she’d have to rely on him. She couldn’t defend herself in the way he, as a traveler, probably could. If anything she’d be a burden to him and she had nothing to offer in exchange for this burden except her company. And what good could that be?

She shifted beneath her quilts. Her wings always made finding a comfortable position difficult, so she often squirmed throughout the night.

My wings… She hadn’t thought of this before, but perhaps an exchange could be made – a payment of sorts. The feathers of her wings were worth quite a fortune, moreover, she had the power to heal. This way, it wouldn’t simply be her relying completely on another person without giving anything in return.

Then maybe she will go. Maybe she will shed the chains that bound her to this lifeless place and subsequently free herself from the monster’s grip as well.


Free?

Zayna flinched at the sickening sultry sound, You? Free?

An obscure, malicious snicker caressed the lagoi’s mind. One that was not her own. One that made her shiver more than the cold ever could. But she steeled herself, forced her body to lie still and prepared herself for the nightmares to come, Yes. Me free. And you can’t – you won’t stop it.

Oh? Is that so?Her nerves tingles and her eyes saw a dark shadow she knew wasn’t there stroke her cheeks. We will see tomorrow then, my little lagoi. For now, I’ll have you dream an even sweeter dream than that.

Suddenly, Zayna really didn’t feel like sleeping. Depsite her best efforts she couldn’t keep the grimace from her face or the frightful tears from her eyes. Dybbuk’s idea of sweet dreams and hers differed greatly and in the worst of ways.



Restless sleep came and went while flowers died and bloomed introducing a new day to the poor and unrested.



If only Zayna could have claimed the elusive entity that was respite. But she awoke from her nightmares covered in a cold sweat and more tired than she was before she went to sleep the night before. With a downtrodden sigh she rubbed her temples and climbed out of her bed.

As part of her normal morning routine, she gathered a small towel and dampened it in the bucket of water, which had been snow the previous evening. It was cold, but it felt refreshing against her sticky skin and helped to waken her from her drowsiness. Once finished cleaning herself, she turned towards the clothes hanging on the rack.

The fire from the night before had long since went out, but her clothes, which now had a distinct smoke aroma about them, had dried out and so she dressed and wrapped the quilt around her.

It was then that her stomach growled earning a wry smile in response. ”Oops…I guess I did forget to eat last night.” Within fifteen minutes, she had rectified her mistake and her stomach was happily contented allowing her to proceed with other matters of importance, such as preparing for a possible trip into the world existing outside her village. Her first and potentially last.

She glanced around her home. Though she did not have much to bring with her on a journey, she did at least have some food, but she found herself lacking a bag to carry it in. However, she had at least one quilt and enough ingenuity to make a bag out of it, so she did. It was a drab, obviously makeshift sack, but it would do. For now, however, she supposed it was time to visit the Raconteur and find out if he had, over the course of the night changed his mind.

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Xander Ozzick

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#, as written by Smeath
Xander Ozzick

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Dialogue|Navy Thoughts|Silver

Xander went to bed after the short string of questions that his evening companion had spoken of, sleeping soundly as his unconscious mind contemplated each answer. Before long, morning had come, and he had awoken quietly, to a dying fire and a colder day than he had thought possible. After a moment of shivering to himself, he simply stood up and pushed the cold from his mind. He went about his small camp, gathering up his equipment and dispersing the wards around the entrances. The Raconteur slowly rolled up his bedroll as he contemplated his actions the evening prior.


In particular, his decision to invite the local girl along had come across to him as a careless one. Granted, she certainly looked like she needed to be taken away from the burnt-out place that was this town. But why did he believe it had been his place, at the time, to offer her escape? That, and exactly how would he go about traveling with her? He couldn't exactly protect her from every danger about with just a dagger and his books to ward off the many beasts that avail themselves of the world.


But, he couldn't change that now. He'd made his decision, spoken the words he'd meant, and now he had to cope with their consequences. Though, if he were to consider for a moment, the route at which she was questioning him. He chuckles at the thought. Why was he so worried? Surely this girl was probably capable of at least defending herself if she was staying here alone. Who in their right mind would stay in an empty city without any means of protecting themselves?


The young wanderer shook his head as he strapped everything to his pack, the thought of her simply coming along was more than enough to make him smile at his own foolish ideas. After a moment, he shakes off the chill one more time "She probably won't want to come with me. She seems perfectly capable on her own. I might as well move on while I can, so I'm not bugging her while she carves out her life." he says aloud, to nobody in particular as he heads for the doorway. He hadn't concerned himself with food for the moment, he would simply find something on the way and eat while he traveled, much to his stomach's protest.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Xander Ozzick Character Portrait: Zayna Khoury

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The young Lagoi stepped outside her door and breathed in the crisp morning air. There was slight bite that stung her lungs with the deep intake of air, but it was a surprisingly pleasant burn – it made her feel fresher and therefore it was welcomed. Her eyes raked across the scenery. The sun was up in time for the morning and it’s light reflected off the fallen snow like crystalline starlight.

It was simply beautiful and its beauty reflected upon her face as a bittersweet smile.

She missed the days this still quiet beauty was disrupted by life. Turning away from the landscape she directed her attention to the house the raconteur was in the night before. She walked at a brisk pace, in part due to her desire to speak with him while she still had the courage to consider leaving if he still wanted her to.

She wondered if he had awoken yet, or if he had left already but as she approached she overheard his voice and knew he was still present. Although, when she approached the doorway and clearly overheard his words, she found herself saddening and lingering just slightly away from the door. It seemed he had indeed changed his mind.
"…well move on while I can, so I'm not bugging her while she carves out her life."

It shouldn’t have surprised her, nor bothered her, but she found that it did. The night before she had painted the opportunity as a means of escape from her bondage to this ghost town and Dybbuk and had worked up the courage to accept his offer. But now it seemed that courage was wasted, it seemed Dybbuk had been right in his heckling estimation.

In the back of her mind she could hear him still, jeering with his cloying chuckle,
Free?

‘Yes. Me free. And you can’t – you won’t stop it.’,
The beast mocked mercilessly, replaying her own thoughts, in her own voice, so that she was sure to remember them and the strength and hope she had had in that moment.

That strength had been reduced to the object of the Dybbuk’s amusement by the situation, the Dybbuk hadn’t needed to stop it and that only plunged the metaphorical dagger of defeat deeper.

She clenched her jaw and held her arms in a self-comforting embrace that was easily mistaken for one meant to scare away the cold. Zayna surprised herself with the extent of her own disappointment.

After a short moment of visible weakness however, she steeled herself again. She had come to speak to him and would not leave until she had done precisely that. Softly rapping her knuckles again the door frame she stepped into view, though jumped a little as she had unexpectedly ended up face to face (or chest as his height was superior her to hers), with the man himself as he too had been approaching the door.

”Oh! I’m so sorry.”, she said as she took a step back away from the young man, after the fact she bowed her head in greeting and met his gaze with a smile and a query, ”And good morning. I suppose you are preparing to leave then? Where might I ask, is your destination?”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Xander Ozzick Character Portrait: Zayna Khoury

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#, as written by Smeath
Xander Ozzick

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Dialogue|Navy Thoughts|Silver

Xander was, for a moment, visibly surprised that the young girl was even here. He'd been expecting her to be off gathering materials for herself or perhaps working on something else. And his expression bore even further surprise when she asked him of his destination.


In all fairness, he never truly had a destination. He wandered for a reason, and therefore never had a specific city in-mind when he moved around. However, he often chose a compass direction and decided to follow the winds there. It had always been his way, ever since his first day leaving the family estate. He'd moved in one direction, and had never stopped choosing different directions. At some point, he'd have to keep a tally of how many times he'd gone in each direction. But, that was for when he'd gotten bored.


After a moment, he answers "Well to be perfectly honest, I never have a destination. I always choose a direction and move where the winds take me. Although, I've chosen to head east this time, in the hopes I could head around this snow and get to the cities to the west where I was planning to go before." an idea pops into his mind whilst he is speaking "If she's actually decided to come with me, I'm going to be kicking myself if she heard what I said earlier. She was certainly close enough to the door to catch the end."


As this thought crosses his mind, Xander decides to actually ask "Have you decided to join me? The offer is still on the table, as it were." and for a moment, he checks his pack. Something had started to feel loose, and that would not do. Especially if he had to move faster than a walking pace, and his pack got caught on a tree because of a loose strap or an errant piece of rope.