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Kav the Stout

"So what's pay? Enough for a hireling? Well, it'll be fun either way."

0 · 210 views · located in Valderia

a character in “The First Valderian Expedition”, as played by Sabremagus

Description

"So what's pay? Enough for a hireling? Well, it'll be fun either way."

Image

Name: Kav the Stout
Gender: Male
Age: 32
Race: Stoat Kindred

Physical Description & Clothing: Stoat kindred, while taller than their animal counterparts, are still rather short when compared to humans. Kav is a proud 4'1'', and weighs around 120 lbs. He's somewhat stronger than his kin, and can hold his own in a physical fight. His albino fur is scarred in several places, including a couple scars on his face-- but people still call his scowl adorable. He wears patched leather armor and carries an axe balanced for combat, as well as a pack with survival supplies.

Fur color: White
Eye Color: Red

Occupation: Bounty hunter. Freelancer. Your hireling for all occasions.

Bio: Kav hasn't had a last name for a long time. He used to, in that pub, but that was from another sort of life. Got a lot of shit in that tavern. Mother was the owner, thing was called the "Traveller's Rest" or something like that. Something generic. Father was some passerby Nord, came in and came out without much notice. Never really remembered either of their names, but still remembers Mother's face. Could pick her out of an army. Picked up a thing or two about Mother's trade, too-- what makes ale good, and what makes taverns great. The Traveller's Rest wasn't a great tavern.

The Shadehands came to the tavern when Kav was fourteen, and Kav left with them. Did grunt work for a couple years until Gavrek, one of the higher ranking Shadehands, died, and Kav stole a spare axe. Varghos figured he could hold his own if he could hold a blade, and though the group got smaller and smaller over the years, the Shadehands still did good work, and Kav lived through most of it. Eventually, he made a pact with the nature spirit Korivan while on a mission in Sylvanus, when apart from the group. It was as good a chance as any to get some magic and help the group, as many of the stronger spellcasters had left already.

Eventually, the Shadehands had only two members-- Varghos and Kav. The two of them, hearing rumours of a great expedition, headed for a familiar city, looking for money to create their own tavern someday, once they become too old for war...

Hometown: A tavern on the roads, named "The Traveller's Rest".
Home country: United Teker States, but he couldn't tell you if you asked.

Personality: Amicable enough, if you know him. If you don't, inititially suspicious and hostile, though he warms up if you aren't trying to kill him. He doesn't talk much about his past, but he has opinions about tavern quality, which he will voice.
Likes: Good beer, good fights, and a good bed at the end of the day. Also, floral arrangements. Reminds him of Mother.
Dislikes: Badly run taverns, pretentious types, and uncaring leaders.

Skills and Abilities Close combat skills with an axe, as well as rudimentary survival skills (enough to survive alone in the woods for a couple months if needed.) Good enough to fight toe-to-toe with a city guard, but not a veteran soldier. Kav also knows how to intimidate people, to an extent, though he has little talent for command.

Equipment & Weapons: A pack full of survival equipment (bedroll, tent, food, water, rope, flint and steel, and a dagger), stitched leather armor, a couple changes of clothes, and his familiar (if slightly notched) combat axe. He picks flowers sometimes, too, so let's add that in too.

Magic:Korivan is his spirit, and he has a lot of control over Korvan's magic. It falls mainly into two categories:

Nature Control (Major)
Entangling roots, thornspikes, branch walls, etc. Dependent on the flora in the area. Useful in natural areas, nigh useless in cities and areas devoid of plantlife.

You could totally kill someone with this, choking them with thorns or roots or surrounding them in nigh-airtight branches.

Obviously, this is nigh-useless against magic incorporating fire, ice, and in some cases lightning.

Wind Control (Minor)
Strong enough to push humanoids of around 200 lbs (90kg) as hard as a strong person shoving them. Can deflect arrows and bolts, but not bullets. Augments Val's agility in minor ways, aiding his dodges in melee combat. Can propel projectiles (except bullets) to fly faster than usual, making makeshift thrown weapons (i.e. rocks) a viable weapon. Can also raise a cloud of obscuring mist to cover escapes or attacks.

Can backfire when used against lightning, as it attracts lightning to the user.

Not strong enough to create razor wind and slice people, to explode people's bodies, to suffocate people, or to murder people in any other horrible way you can think of that involves wind.

So begins...

Kav the Stout's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kav the Stout

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Kav got out of bed, stretched, and fell off the side of the bedframe. Grumbling, he rose from the floor and dragged his equipment together.

"Hmgrmble... mornings." Kav said to himself. "Varghos?"

He looked around for the owlkin, but Varghos was already gone. Probably off scaring some people or something, having some fun. Wasn't really important right now, because Kav was still jobless and the Shadehands still had only two members.

There had to be some sort of adventurers recruiting in this blasted town, because there always was. The question was simply finding where they were recruiting.

Kav left the small inn he'd been staying at and looked around the street, scanning for roguish types with too many weapons to their name. He didn't really see any.

Well, at the very least, he'd probably run into some as he walked. Heading nowhere in particular, Kav began to wander the streets.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Valar Karackson Character Portrait: Ice Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Kav the Stout Character Portrait: Skoggr Character Portrait: Claire Lucion Character Portrait: Ruth Character Portrait: Hela Alyndra

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A large group passed by, coming from some tavern or another. Looked like a popular one-- the paint on the sign was actually fresh, so someone was maintaining it. The group looked armed. Might be some adventurers-- they didn't really look like guards.

Varghos was still nowhere to be found, but that was typical. He wasn't the type to stick close. Maybe Kav could be the one to get the work for the two Shadehands this time. He walked toward the group, trying to eavesdrop and hearing nothing specific. After a couple minutes of very conspicuous tailing, he caught something...

"...whatever we find at the magic vault, we will need..."

A magic vault? This could be interesting...

He walked up to one of the group members at random, figuring the Ferret-kin would be able to provide some information.

"Hey. You the leader of this group?" Kav asked the Ferret-kin. As far as Varghos had taught him, there were some pretty competent Ferret-kin mercenary leaders, and some famed warlords as well. It seemed a good guess for the leader.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kav the Stout Character Portrait: Claire Lucion Character Portrait: Hela Alyndra

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Ice waved happily at the humi lady who smelt of many different and various compounds, some so exotic Ice wondered where she would have managed to find them. "Yes, Ice very pleased to meat lady Claire-un, Ice nose Claire very distinct".

Ice recognized the distinct stout type voice from his distant kindred kinfoke, stouts and ferrets where of similar origins and shared quite a bit in both language and culture. Ice had heard that stouts where generally more open to the world then Ferrets, but he hadn't met any more of them then his own Ferret kin.

"Just because he has fur does not mean he is your best ever chum kid..." whispered Lore, somewhat disturbed by her host's optimism.

Ice inwardly growled for the spirit to shut up, grinning broadly at the Stout.

"Hallo'a Stout-un cousin-kin! much'a happy t'a hear'a a fella who can'spik all cousin-kin like". Said Ice with unconcealed delight.

Ice turned for a moment towards the Fox-kin on the team, keeping his earlier smile "Not that Ice not'lika foxi kin, farrr from it! Ice'a verrry happy to have fox-kin on team too! All kin, big happy family ye... except dem silly flea-kin, them nasty noshers".

Turning back to face the Stout, Ice puzzled at his strange assumptions but remembered that Kindred often led adventurer bands in humi lands. "Na, Ice not big boss of band, Ice boss of them musics and theatricsss but don't tell others-un when to gonna ssleep or where them goin' on big big map. Honored Stout cousin-kin should'a ask young humi who talk verry softly, whatsa Honored Stout cousin-kin name by te way?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Ice Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Kav the Stout Character Portrait: Skoggr Character Portrait: Claire Lucion Character Portrait: Ruth Character Portrait: Hela Alyndra

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April 9--8:44 AM
Alshain, Solarian Empire


"We need what?!" Kaus looked at Claire in utter shock, before managing to recompose himself. "I mean...is that really a good idea? What if we end up going through a mountain pass or something? That wouldn't go well for the horses or the wagon..."

Thinking about it more, he could definitely see why it was needed, and Claire did bring up good points. But Kaus just wasn't sure if he could make it work, depending on the terrain through which they traveled. Ah, geez, what to do, what to do, what to do...come on, Kaus, you have to think of things quickly here! You're the leader, ya know!

"Hm...I'd better think about it for a while longer," he finally muttered lamely. "Uh...Miroch, I don't know if we'll follow your routes through the wilderness, but do you think the wagon is a good idea?"

He didn't even receive a response before he heard someone asking for the leader of the group--almost immediately followed by Ice's thick accent. Oh, geez, another member? Hm...well, I guess it can't hurt...

"Actually, hold that thought for a moment..." Kaus told the black-haired elf quickly, before quickly striding over to the person whose interest he had caught. It was a very short stoat-Kindred, with a scarred face and pale, ripped fur. "Um, hey! You were asking for the leader, right? I'm right here. Are you interested in coming with us, then....?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Ice Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Kav the Stout Character Portrait: Skoggr Character Portrait: Claire Lucion Character Portrait: Ruth Character Portrait: Hela Alyndra

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"Um, hey! You were asking for the leader, right? I'm right here. Are you interested in coming with us, then....?"

Kav turned from the Ferret-kin to face the young adventurer. He seemed pretty green, but there are worse leaders. The group was a motley crew anyway. The only requirement that Kav could see was that the members be able to walk and breathe, though some of them clearly knew how to fight. Probably some combat mages, too.

"I might be. I'm with a small group called the Shadehands. We do this sort of work sometimes. If you want to hire us-- well, all two of us, once Varghos shows up." Kav briefly looked around to see if the owl was nearby, to no avail. "Well, Varghos might be a while. But you still have me, for now. I can fight with sword and sorcery, and I know how to survive pretty well. People tell me I'm a good chef, too."

Kav gave the adventurer pause. "By the way, I'm Kav. You?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Ice Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Kav the Stout Character Portrait: Skoggr Character Portrait: Claire Lucion Character Portrait: Ruth Character Portrait: Hela Alyndra

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April 9--8:46 AM
Alshain, Solarian Empire


"Shadehands...?" Kaus repeated, not recognizing the name. Something about it sounded like a name someone would give their group just to sound evil...eh, whatever. There wasn't anything wrong with that, anyway. "Anyway, it's great to hear you'll join us. Welcome to the team, Kav. I'm Kaus."

He paused for a moment, wondering if he should wait for Kav's partner. But if Kav himself doesn't know where that man is, we'll be searching for a while...no, it's probably not worth it. All the same... "You don't think your partner will really mind if you come with us without telling him, do you?" Kaus asked, not wanting to cause too much trouble.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Ice Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Kav the Stout Character Portrait: Skoggr Character Portrait: Claire Lucion Character Portrait: Ruth Character Portrait: Hela Alyndra

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"You don't think your partner will really mind if you come with us without telling him, do you?" Kaus said.

"Varghos won't mind. Probably. He has a habit of disappearing-- he's used to finding me after doing whatever he does." Kav smirked slightly. "I just don't ask him any questions, and we get along just fine. And it's fine if you haven't heard of the Shadehands-- we're a bit of a small company right now." Really, the Shadehands were just him and Varghos, but advertising was better if he didn't mention it. Usually, he or Varghos got hires as a 'representative' of the group, implying that a larger force existed somewhere. They got paid better that way.

Maybe Varghos was looking for inn locations, or something. This seemed like a popular town for travelers, so that wouldn't be surprising. Might be some cheap land near the city's edge, something small that the two of them could run easily. But they didn't really have the money for that right now. Hopefully, this new job would change that.

As the group reached their destination (a smithy, Kav realized), he stopped to speak to the Ferret-kin he'd kind of cut off earlier to speak with Kaus.

"I'm Kav. Sorry for not saying that earlier. I will say, it's good to see some familiar Kindred. So, what kind of music do you perform?"

While music wasn't Kav's forte, he knew most of the old tavern songs. It was part of the tavern trade to know what the songs were supposed to sound like-- keeps the phony singers away. Maybe, if Ice was good, Kav'd let him perform at his tavern someday. Of course, that was thinking years into the future... wasn't really his place to think too hard on it right now.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Kav the Stout Character Portrait: Ruth Character Portrait: Hela Alyndra

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#, as written by Byte
Since the bar was set pretty low already, probably not a whole lot. Ruth found it difficult to believe that this kid had been part of the first ever expedition to find a magic vault. Didn't seem experienced enough. The lack of faith in his own brilliant plan only confirmed that assumption, or maybe he just wasn't used to leading. Which begged the question why they would listen to anything Kaus had to say.

Desperate times, she supposed.

Even Hela was starting to doubt the brilliance of her idea to zero in on the first person they found who said something about seeking one of the ancient vaults. They had the team assembled, but instead of hitting the road immediately they were off to the local blacksmith. While it was probably a reasonable thing to do, the fox Kindred felt that they would be burning away the precious daylight sitting around on their haunches like this, and every so often her tail twitched out of agitation.

"Part of the first expedition, my ass." Ruth muttered under her breath, looking to her kindred companion to notice that she too was displeased with the little detour. "This is why I don't take jobs on a whim," She, rather unconvincingly, hissed. "And by the stone under our own two soddin' feet could ya please stop fanning yer tail?!" A stubby hand quickly, but carefully, clutched the fluffy extension after it brushed her head for the umpteenth time.

The Kindred flinched noticeably when her diminuitive companion snatched at her tail. Glaring at the dwarf a little after freeing the appendage, she made her way to the head of the group where Kaus was conversing with another mustelid-based Kindred. Was this another hold-up?

Likewise, Ruth followed Hela, offering a half-hearted apologetic glance for the instinctive reaction (though that was to be expected). Then again, if her companion wasn't a fan of tail-fondling she shouldn't swing it 'round so recklessly. Could've hurt someone. That damnable thing was a club in disguise.

Stopping in her tracks -- and making sure to stand beside the fox Kindred this time -- the scholarly midget allowed Hela to do the talking. Who knows, maybe she had some more luck in persuading their leader.

"Kaus, just how long are we going to hang around here? Daylight's burning and there's probably at least a dozen other groups looking for this vault who might have gotten a head start on us by now." Hela's tail gave another twitch. "Look, I know you're the boss here, but I say we should make this little shopping trip a quick one, meet up with Claire, and then hit the road. What do you say?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Sigurthr Arvidson Character Portrait: Ice Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Kav the Stout Character Portrait: Skoggr Character Portrait: Claire Lucion Character Portrait: Ruth Character Portrait: Hela Alyndra

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#, as written by RCJJ23
Before reaching the smithy and before Hela's question, Miroch thought about his response to Kaus's question. While it was a decent idea to get a wagon, it would also present some difficulties. Whilst it provided a sort of shelter should any of them get injured, and it would have helped in carrying whatever they needed, if they were going into the Wilderness the wagon would also present the threat of not only beast attacks, but if they were close to any major roads, no doubt a opportunistic bandit attack as well. There were many who were desperate enough to assault even a pack of adventurers such as this, and few who were cunning enough to formulate a plan, and some garnered enough attention through number alone. The wagon would also significantly slow the pace of the expedition down, with paths needing to be cleared for the wagon to proceed. Then came the problem to care for whatever was to pull the wagon along, if they were to be killed or sustain any injuries, it would be likely that it would be nigh on impossible for them to progress with it. Still, it would be up to the group to decide, he still had to answer Kaus's question. By the time he was done thinking, he had zoned out sufficiently that he found himself at the blacksmith with another Kindred, that he vaguely recalled was name Kav. Then Hela spoke up, and after Kaus answered the question, Miroch would speak.

"I have thought about what you have asked me Kaus, about the wagon. While it is true that it would help us with carrying items, and it could provide a shelter for those who are injured, we must also think about the disadvantages of getting one. The chance that bandits might attack is relatively high, even with a group like this. Many are desperate enough to attack, and there are a few that are smart enough to come up with a good enough plan and others just have sheer numbers on their side. A wagon would also limit out ability to travel through the Wilderness, with our need to clear a path big enough for it. Then whatever is pulling our wagon will also be another concern that we would have to address. If they were to be killed, or even sustain injury serious enough to disable them, then we are unlikely to be able to move the wagon. All of these factors will be different in severity depending on the size of the wagon we might take of course. Honestly, I feel like if we were to get a wagon, a small one would likely be a decent choice. Larger if were really planning on spending several months in the Wilderness."

You know, you've said more in the past day then you've said in the past few months.

Really? No wonder my throat is starting to get sore.

Though, you have spent the last few months not doing much work that required talking, and this Kaus does seem like the type that will need guidance, especially with the lack of experience we've seen so far. Why did we join this boy again?

Desperation. Desperation is all this is. If this doesn't go well enough I might think about leaving the next time we're in town. After all, there are other things I can try.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Ice Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Kav the Stout Character Portrait: Skoggr Character Portrait: Claire Lucion Character Portrait: Ruth Character Portrait: Hela Alyndra

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April 9--8:49 AM
Alshain, Solarian Empire


"Well, that's good to hear...I just hope he doesn't appear in our midst crying bloody murder for some reason," Kaus laughed, before looking up. A sign hung over his head, denoting a blacksmith shop was right there. "Oh...looks like we found a place. Is this one good quality or..."

He didn't get to finish that thought before Hela interrupted him, seeming a bit impatient. "Huh? It's still fairly early, tho..." Suddenly getting second thoughts on arguing with the fox kindred (mainly due to what seemed to be a murderous glare coming from Ruth), Kaus quickly changed his tune. "Ah...never mind. I'll try and speed things up a little...we'll just go here, in that case."

At that point, Miroch replied on the subject of the wagon...and, while his answer seemed to have a lot of thought put behind it, Kaus didn't feel like it really helped that much. He's bringing up the exact same flaws I was worried about...

"Hm...well, I guess it kind of depends on how long you guys are willing to be with me, huh..." he muttered, putting a hand to his chin. "Alright...I think a small wagon would probably be best, then. Okay..." Quickly, he turned to the alchemist. "Um, Claire! You said you know a place where we can get a wagon, right? Ask them for a smaller one, okay?"

Thankfully, the blacksmith (who was not too happy to see a group of this size) didn't take very long to repair everyone's weapons and equipment. By now, Kaus already felt like steam was coming out of his ears from trying to make all these decisions.

Wait, we probably need to g--AH, FORGET IT! He opened his mouth, and was about to let out a long sigh...but quickly thought better of it, and tried to stifle the noise as hard as he could. "I hope Claire doesn't take too long..." he muttered to himself.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Sigurthr Arvidson Character Portrait: Ice Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Kav the Stout Character Portrait: Claire Lucion Character Portrait: Ruth Character Portrait: Hela Alyndra

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Skoggr had been walking a slight distance away from the rest of the group. That did not mean he wasn't paying attention. He noticed when the battered looking Stoatkin joined the group, and he also noticed when the elf spoke up. The Nord listened to talk of banditry, and scoffed. Bandits were the low of the low, scorned and spit upon by raiders like himself.

He gave the elf a disappointed look. "Bandits are easy enough. They're driven by desperation and fear. That, is how you beat them. When the first group attacks, you kill them."

As he spoke, Skoggr's eyes glinted with malevolence. "Let some run. Track them. Kill some more in the night, loudly. Make sure they scream. You leave trophies--totems, if you will--to be found by those who would think they could do better. Oh, and leave a survivor. Always leave a survivor. Terror is such a wonderfully effective tool."

Having said his piece, Skoggr withdrew his malignant gaze from the group. The Jackal scraped it's claws across his ravaged mind and cackled. The Nord would never have been above committing such horrible acts, but the spirit infesting his head made such thoughts almost pleasurable, rather than the brutal-but-necessary tactic he otherwise would have considered it.

The acute self-disgust he began to feel faded as they reached the smithy. Skoggr's own gear was in immaculate condition, as he did his own maintenance. However, there was something missing from his personal armory. Ignoring--rather pointedly--the dwarf and her friend as they approached their young leader, he stalked into the forge.

And there it was, hanging from a wall. A war-pick of the single-handed variety, constructed of what looked like one large chunk of steel. It was plain, devoid of ornamentation, but looked all the more functional for it. Almost reverently, he took the weapon from the wall, and gave it a few test swings. He liked it. Normally the Nord wouldn't have bothered, but he took the insight the elf had given about beasts in the wilderness to heart. The wicked, long point of the weapon, and the hammer head on the opposite side would be perfect for penetrating through hard shell and thick hide if his axe proved insufficient.

The look the blacksmith got when he quoted Skoggr a ridiculous price managed to look both murderous and hurt. He never said a word. The blacksmith lowered the price substantially. The Nord leered, and paid the coin required. His new weapon acquired, he stepped back outside, slipping the weapon through a loop on his belt.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Ice Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Kav the Stout Character Portrait: Skoggr Character Portrait: Claire Lucion Character Portrait: Ruth Character Portrait: Hela Alyndra

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#, as written by Eyliel
Unfortunately, Claire did not receive the immediate approval she had desired after her speech about the importance of having a wagon with them. Well, at least Kaus did seem to at least consider it. Claire fell silent as she watched the young man pondering on the question, and then passing it onto the elf in their midst, Miroch. Before he could answer, however, they were approached by yet another member of the Kindred. Quite similar to the Ferret Kindred, Ice, he introduced himself as Kav. She made sure to memorize the name for later, when she'd have time to talk with him. For now, however, there were other important things. Namely, the question of the wagon. She listened on to the conversation between their leader and the new potential member with one ear while keeping her eyes on the important one, Miroch, waiting for him to tell his opinion to Kaus.

Finally, the elf delivered a speech on the merits and faults of having a wagon with them. Mostly of the faults, to Claire's disappointment. She was not particularly worried about bandits or the like herself. Things would work out. If nothing else, she could trick them into drinking some of her 'special beverages' and proceed to rob the robbers. Hm? For some reason, Claire thought that she was forgetting about something. What had happened to the mug of ale she'd given Kaus earlier...? She had forgotten to ask. Oh well.

Luckily, Kaus seemed to decide on getting a wagon after all, despite Miroch's speech on the possible demerits of having one. He asked for a small one, but a small one was all she really needed herself, so she was happy with the result. "I'm glad you made a wise decision", she responded with a slight smile. "I will return shortly."

With that, the alchemist turned about and left with a flutter of her cloak. She first made her way back to the inn, where she picked up her things from her room. She tossed the innkeeper a few coins as a reward for the good service. Although she had overpaid for her room in the first place. She glanced about to see if there were any new motionless figures sprawled on the floor. It didn't seem so. She did find her earlier test subject, though, and, feeling a bit sorry for him, threw the innkeeper another coin and asked him to take care of the fallen Nord, making sure he wouldn't get robbed or anything while unconscious. After that, she left for the place she would get her wagon.

She had first arrived to the city of Alshain on a small merchant caravan. However, due to some troubles on the way, the leader of the caravan had decided to retire from the job of a traveling merchant. Therefore, he had no need for his many wagons anymore, and would sell them for an affordable price. He had told her where he lived in case she came across anyone who needed a wagon or two.

And soon enough, she arrived at the soon-to-retire merchant's home. She exchanged a few words with the servant who came to open the door -and who gave her a dirty look, she was a Teker in Solarian land, after all- and then waited for the merchant himself to arrive. It did not take too long, and Claire explained her intention to buy a wagon herself.

He was a bit surprised that she was a buyer herself, instead of simply sending someone his way, but was perfectly willing to do business with her. She asked to see a small wagon, along with some horses used to rough terrain, and was led to the stables attached to the merchant's house.

The selection process took a while as she explained her needs further, but eventually the experienced merchant showed her the one that he believed was the best one for traveling through the wilderness. Claire herself was no expert, so she couldn't tell whether that was true or not, but with one look inside the wagon, she could tell that it would fit her needs nicely. The inside was perfectly shielded from the wind and rain, there was enough room for doing experiments and space for supplies as well. It would do nicely.

Next, he showed her two horses, both of them apparently used to moving across the wilderness. One of them seemed a bit on the old side, but both still seemed very healthy and strong to Claire's eye. The merchant also told her some details about how they should be treated, their personal quirks and other such things, and she made sure to memorize the information, even if it didn't seem that important to her. She could pass it on to someone else in their group a bit more experienced with handling horses.

There were a few more minor details that they had to go through, but soon enough they were done, and only the transaction remained. Claire took out gold from her pouch until the merchant seemed satisfied. She had probably overpaid again, but that didn't matter so much to her. Her initially large supply of money was starting to run low due to her careless spending, but she was confident that she could make more with her special talent of Alchemy.

With that, the transaction had been completed and both sides left satisfied. Claire pushed her belongings into the wagon and sat onto the driver's seat, urging the horses onwards towards their destination at the blacksmith's, where they had left Kaus. Claire had no idea what she was actually doing, having no experience in driving a wagon or horses in general, but the horses themselves seemed to almost read her mind, going exactly where she wanted them to go. Smart animals. Or maybe she was just a genius at handling horses? Well, regardless, Claire seemed to be making progress towards her destination without too many people shouting at her angrily.

She should arrive at the blacksmith's soon enough, unless something unexpected happened.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Ice Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Kav the Stout Character Portrait: Skoggr Character Portrait: Claire Lucion Character Portrait: Ruth Character Portrait: Hela Alyndra

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April 9--8:56 AM
Alshain, Solarian Empire


While waiting for the others to finish getting their equipment checked over and for the wagon to arrive, Kaus took out both of the books he had shown to the others in the tavern. Flipping both of them open to the maps, he glanced between them a few more times to remind himself of the route they would take.

Alshain lay in the southern portion of Solarian territory, and just northeast for twenty or so kilometers was the capital itself. Coincidentally, many of the ley lines (the name he used for those paths which appeared on both maps) happened to meet directly at the capital. However, the capital was massive, and the lands around it used as farms, mines, quarries, and the like. By the time you got to anywhere remote enough for a vault to be hidden, you would be quite far from the ley lines' meeting point. If a vault really was there, it probably would have been found by now.

In that case, the best route for now would be to head south, towards Alne. Several ley lines met up within its border, before splitting off into the wilderness, through Alne itself, or through Sylvana and the Teker States. Getting into Sylvana wasn't a good idea at all, though, and Alne was closer to Alshain than Teker territory anyway. From there...

One of the branching ley lines split up and regrouped time and again, until it reached one particularly large dot on the Elder map. But when Kaus looked back to where it should have been on the human map, he saw empty space. If there was a city in that place, it was quite far into the wilderness to the west of the elven kingdom...

...I'll figure out what to do next once we get into Alne. Just as he closed both books and stowed them away again, he saw a wagon approaching, pulled by two black horses. Surely enough, Claire was the one sitting at the reins. Huh...that seemed pretty well timed, Kaus thought, as he walked up to the wagon.

"That was certainly quick," he commented. "Yeah...this one should do nicely. Nice work, Claire." Then he turned to the others, seeing they had all finished getting their equipment checked over. "Okay then, everyone! We should be ready to move out now. We'll be heading south, towards Alne. Let's get going!"

In a short time, they passed through the southern gate of Alshain, moving across the roads which cut through the grasslands. Not all of the puddles from last night's rain had dried up, but luckily, the ground seemed firm enough, to Kaus' relief. If the wagon somehow got stuck in the mud right at this point, it'd be the most anticlimactic start to a journey ever.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Kav the Stout Character Portrait: Varghos "The Butcher"

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"Don't mind me, just doing my thing."

A face Kav wouldn't have expected to see on the road suddenly appeared from the bushes, masked and bloodstained as usual. Kav briefly wondered what he was doing in the woods this early, but the head spike that Varghos planted into the ground answered the question handily.

"Varghos! You woke up early." Kav said, waving the Owl-Kin over. "Found us some work, sort of. These folks are looking for treasure, and want fighting folk to join in on the fun, and make sure they don't get killed and such."

Kav neglected for the moment to mention that he had no idea if they were getting paid, if the leader of the expedition knew anything about where they were going, or if anyone other than a couple members of the group had ever actually seen combat. Those were questions for another minute, at least.

"It'd probably be best for you to come along, honestly, considering that I'm not paying for another room in the city. Besides, that tavern was awful." Kav said. He turned to Kaus, the leader figure.

"So, expedition leader, you okay with Varghos coming along? I assumed he'd catch up with us eventually. He's a good fighter, and I can make him promise not to do anything to hurt the other expedition members. Unless he thinks they really deserve it. Then, frankly, I can't stop him." He paused. "But besides that unfortunate exception, the only people Varghos will severely maim or kill are our future enemies, or enemies of the Shadehands. So, what do you say? Keeping in mind, of course, that I'm not sticking around if you say no."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Ice Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Kav the Stout Character Portrait: Skoggr Character Portrait: Varghos "The Butcher" Character Portrait: Claire Lucion Character Portrait: Ruth Character Portrait: Hela Alyndra

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April 9--9:01 AM
Alshain, Solarian Empire


The wagon would be incredibly cramped with no less than eight people inside, to say the least, and Kaus made a point of letting his legs dangle out of the cart, over the road, to free up a bit more space. Honestly, I'd rather go everywhere on foot...not that I think the others would appreciate that... Sighing, he opened up another one of his books to check over his notes.

However, no matter what he tried, he just couldn't focus. In fact, he found himself thinking quite a bit about what the others seemed to think of him right now. Was he doing a good enough job as leader yet, or had he already failed in the first hour?

Best not to think about it now, he told himself, letting out another sigh. Strange, his sighs seemed to be getting longer...Wait, since when do I notice THAT stuff about myself?! Though Kaus was just about ready to put his hand to his forehead and sigh yet again, he managed to resist the urge.

Looking out towards the road, he could see they were already reaching the first hill. There was some strange man at the side of the road and WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT IN HIS HAND?! Wait, was that a...head...? Grimacing, Kaus watched as the man drove a spike through the head and impaled it to a tree, before walking away as though it were only another Sunday.

Noticing Kav was calling the man over, Kaus quickly nudged Claire and whispered for her to stop the cart. After that, he walked over to stand next to the stoat Kindred, who was now starting to tell him about the merits of this man--apparently he was Varghos, another member of the Shadehands.

Looking this "Varghos" character over, Kaus couldn't help but get some kind of bad feeling about him. But he had no idea whatsoever about how to voice his suspicions, so he just shrugged. "I guess it can't be helped...we'll take him along."

Turning back to sit next to Claire, however, the young leader realized just how little space was remaining in the cart. Oh, no... Letting out the much-dreaded sigh, Kaus climbed off the cart and walked over to the front. "I think we'd better go a bit slower," he told Claire. "There's isn't enough room for all of us. I'll just walk it, I suppose..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Sigurthr Arvidson Character Portrait: Ice Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Kav the Stout Character Portrait: Skoggr Character Portrait: Varghos "The Butcher" Character Portrait: Claire Lucion Character Portrait: Ruth Character Portrait: Hela Alyndra

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#, as written by RCJJ23
Miroch had traveled with the caravan on foot, with the horses straining to move the cargo of seven or so other group members and the needed supplies. He didn't know why they all wanted to stay cramped in there, but he didn't have any comment. Even when the Owl Kindred approached the group and Kaus let him join, he didn't say anything. He just kept walking along with the wagon. As far as he could tell, they were still heading south, towards what he faintly remembered was an area called Sylvana. It was a while where they traveled, until they reached the more forested areas of the countryside of Alshain, slowly merging into the forests of Sylvana. It was already getting dark, as it took the better part of the day to get there. Miroch recommended taking up camp for the night, as it allowed the horses an opportunity to rest and recover from the long day's journey. After eating his dinner rations, Miroch wandered off into the forest, taking his staff with him. He'd said he'd be back soon, and he wanted to meditate as he usually did before he slept, also volunteering for first watch of the night.

It must have been a few minutes into his meditation in a clearing before he heard a growling in the bushes. He'd found his first beast. He'd encountered one before, but that was over a year ago, with a group of trained hunters and with the faint remembrance that this Atilgan was twice the size of the one he had hunted before. It stood at about his height at the shoulders, but one and a half times his height in length. Overall, it was big, scary and saw Miroch as supper. Its hide was thick enough to dampen even his enhanced blows, and unless he was extremely lucky, he'd have to fight it alone, a daunting challenge even for him. He drew his staff calmly before reaching deep into himself and waking up Gorrjen.

What do you... oh. Alright.

With that he felt the flood of magical energy fill his system, enhancing his own endurance and strength. This manifested as a glow of orange-yellow flame around his hands and feet. up to his elbow. A softer glow enveloped his body, to identify the enhanced endurance. Hopefully, he could outlast the beast and finish it before it tired him out. It was a slim hope. He saw a flicker in the corner of his eye, what seemed like a white flicker, but he ignored it for the moment as the Atilgan pounced at him, its claws flashing in the moonlight filtering through the leaves. Miroch rolled to the left side of its attack, slamming the staff into the beast's flank which caused it to stagger before it charged at Miroch again. This continued for a few more moments before the beast backed off, a dull ache in its side from where Miroch kept hitting it the blows had fractured bone and ruptured blood vessels, but it would live unless further damage was done. The Atilgan circled around Miroch whose breathing was now heavier from the exertion. He had been hit in the side where he had been caught off guard as the Atilgan whipped him with its tail. Luckily, the strong, thick cloth of his robe managed to absorb most of the force, though it had been torn. He'd just have to fix it later. Already, the fight seemed to favor Miroch, until the Atilgan did something strange. It opened its mouth and stood there for a moment, emitting something that seemed to resemble a roar, but in silence. Then, Miroch suddenly felt extremely sick, the inaudible sonic attack destroying Miroch's sense of balance and he struggled to continue standing, leaning heavily on his staff which was starting to dig a small hole into the ground. The Atilgan, seeing its prey defenseless, closed in slowly, almost seeming to relish the fact that it was going to finally get its meal.

Miroch just looked at it and silently prayed to whichever god favored him now to send some measure of help to him.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Ice Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Kav the Stout Character Portrait: Skoggr Character Portrait: Varghos "The Butcher" Character Portrait: Claire Lucion Character Portrait: Ruth Character Portrait: Hela Alyndra

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April 9--9:47 PM
Forests on the Solarian Empire/Sylvana Border


With the dim light of the campfire dancing lazily nearby, Kaus wrote in his journal about that which had happened today. After leaving Alshain and recruiting Varghos, nothing truly eventful had happened to the party. Still, it was nice to relax for the night.

Currently, they had set up camp in a clearing in the forest. The wagon was parked just off the side of the road, and a few stones had been put down around the gently burning flames. Tall conifer trees surrounded them on all sides, and the moon shone brightly from high above. While Kaus couldn't tell how many of his companions were awake now, he chose not to disturb them and instead document what he had seen so far...which wasn't that much, admittedly.

From here, it was a bit tough to make a call on which direction they should travel next. The southern forests of the Solarian territory had very few notable landmarks, and it would be quite easy to get lost. And, of course, running into Wood Elves would be far from pleasant...

I think it should turn out okay nonetheless, though. Blowing gently on the ink to dry it off, Kaus closed his journal and put it away in his satchel. Then he laid himself down upon the grass and got ready to...

Before he could close his eyes, strange noises echoed from deep inside the forest. Surprised, Kaus immediately sat up. What was that...? Where did that come from? Standing up and listening intently, he tried to figure out both of those questions. Was that a roar...? And it sounds like something is rampaging somewhere. Something huge. Oh, no...is it coming to our camp?

The young leader looked around at the others, wondering if they were sleeping or if they had noticed something. And then the thought struck him. Wait...Miroch isn't here.

He said he'd take first watch. Then that must mean...oh, geez, I hope Miroch isn't there!


Picking up his sword, his bow, and his quiver, Kaus looked around at anyone who looked like they were awake. "Best not go to sleep just yet. Be on your guard--I think there's a monster out there. For now, I need to see if Miroch's okay!" Finished speaking, he immediately ran towards where he thought he heard the noise coming from.

While Kaus ran, his eyes began to glow silver as he activated his magic. Glancing from side to side, he tried to find out where the monster was, and if Miroch was there. The darkness of the forest meant nothing to him, as he could see perfectly fine. The roars and the noises steadily got louder as he continued to run.

Avoiding a large root, Kaus looked up once again--and there it was. A massive, bizarre, four-legged creature with thick, tan-colored scales and spikes across its tail. Some kind of hair stuck up across its neck, and its chin protruded outwards. And just how many eyes did it have, anyway...?

At the moment, it was having a scuffle with a certain black-haired elf. Miroch. Though Kaus was tempted to call out, he figured it might distract Miroch and cause a premature doom. So, with his still eyes glowing, he took out his bow and a single arrow. In a short time, he had it pointed at the front left leg of the beast. But without warning, the beast reared back and howled, yet it produced no noise at all. At first, Kaus wondered what was going on, but he suddenly clutched his head and grimaced. For some reason, some sort of pain had entered his head, and it almost felt bad enough to split it open.

Got to...make the shot...no matter what... Clenching his teeth, Kaus raised the bow and arrow again, ignoring the intense ringing in his mind. He pulled the arrow back, both arms shaking back and forth. Without even knowing where he was aiming anymore, Kaus fired the arrow.

He wasn't lucky at all. The arrow struck the beast in the side, harmlessly ricocheting off the tough scales. The beast, however, turned around and immediately prepared to attack Kaus, as though he had committed some terrible atrocity. Realizing he didn't have much time before he was made into the beast's next meal, Kaus fought the ringing in his mind once again and reached for another arrow. With the beast charging at him and his hands fumbling as he tried to ready his bow in time, Kaus was getting more and more panicked--which didn't help at all when one had a headache this bad.

By some miracle, the next arrow was loaded up and pulled back to be fired. Without a second to spare, Kaus fired the arrow at random, praying he'd somehow strike a critical point right then and there.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Uriel ven Iova Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Kav the Stout

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Kav leapt from his bedroll, kicking Varghos as he ran towards the fight.

"Get up, lout! Fight's on!" He shouted, as he ran, getting his axe from his gear and dodging between the trees until he saw the beast, imposing and armored. Kaus, an elf, and some other human were fighting the thing, but they weren't making much of a dent as far as Kav could see.

Propelling himself forward with gusts of wind, Kav started to channel a couple of the branches around the thing, hoping to slow it down-- but the damn thing just broke through, using its weight to snap any restrictions. Now that Kav was closer, he was pretty sure the axe wouldn't do much to it either.

The beast began to charge again at the other human woman, the one Kav hadn't seen in the caravan. Thinking quickly, Kav began to wrap roots and branches into a wooden wall, exhausting himself to hold the charge off and barely able to keep his eyes open to see the monster crash into the branches, break through... and slow down, almost to a stop. Whether or not it was going to charge again, at least that human had a chance.

Kav wavered a bit, fatigued by the casting.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Uriel ven Iova Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Kav the Stout Character Portrait: Hylonome The Forsaken

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#, as written by Feyblue
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"A convoy? What sort of madmen would try braving these woods at night with so little protection? I can't afford to be discovered so soon... but I can't just let them die...! What do I do?"



Location ✦ Sylvan Wilds - The Sacred Wood || State of Mind ✧ Panicked
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A lone figure slowly lurched its way through the midst of a field of tallgrass, parting the strands behind her beneath the weight of her tail as it snaked back and forth. Hylonome brushed aside a particularly large clump of foliage, peering out into the rolling plains beyond. She'd been following an old and rather unused highway, using it to determine her path while still not showing herself to anyone. She was on the edge of the woods, now, which meant she would need to be extra careful. While it was unlikely anyone would dare traveling at this hour so close to both the feared woods she called home and to Sylvana - which, last she had heard, was rather hostile to trespassers of any sort - she still couldn't risk being seen. As such, she kept her head low, using the tallgrass to hide as much of her body as possible, such that anyone who might happen to be nearby hopefully wouldn't see her, and wouldn't realize what she was if they did. Much to her surprise, this soon proved to be a tremendously wise precaution.

Fortunately for her, she'd heard the pounding of hooves long before the wagon had come into view. Lowering herself amidst the grass, she had remained completely still, while Gaius had reduced both his and her own magical presence as much as possible, so that in the event somebody in the unexpected convoy possessed either clairvoyance or a contract with a spirit, they probably wouldn't be detected. Luckily, the attire she'd chosen to wear for her expedition - a short, sleeveless qipao she'd modified to accomodate her tail - was entirely black aside for a few patterns in a dull gold hue, which blended well enough with the yellow of the grass, making it difficult to pick her out by color. She seemed not to have been noticed, at any rate, since the wagon passed along the nearby road without stopping, leaving Hylonome once more on her own. She'd stayed hidden for a few minutes after that out of paranoia, pondering to herself why, exactly, travelers were venturing near the woods at such a late hour. While she herself had lived within them long enough to know how to deal with the woodland's more dangerous predators, she doubted ordinary pilgrims or merchants could do the same. The wagon certainly didn't seem very well guarded, since she'd only counted their number as about a half-dozen or so when they'd passed her. Although they'd smelled unusually diverse, she couldn't draw many conclusions from that alone. While it wasn't any of her business, she still couldn't help but worry that these travelers might not know what they were getting into.

Regardless, she couldn't risk trying to warn them, and keeping pace with them in a wagon while she herself crawled on the ground would be difficult, anyway. So, grudgingly accepting that there was very little she could do to help them, even covertly, she turned away and was about to continue her journey in secret, when, flicking her tongue out on a whim, she smelled - or rather, tasted - a scent she knew all too well.

Atilgan usually made their homes near small pools or lakes much deeper into the woods, given that they, like herself, often needed water to keep cool. Although she'd encountered a few of the beasts while bathing, they hadn't given her much trouble, as they mostly stayed put and slept inside large caves or burrows during the day, and would only attack if threatened. The problem, quite simply, lay in the fact that it was no longer daytime. Once the sun fell beneath the trees, they'd begin to emerge, prowling the woods for anything that looked large enough to eat. They tended to strike at their prey regardless of whether or not it was alone, and when wounded they tended to fly into a destructive rage and attack anything that looked like an enemy, making them very dangerous enemies, even for experienced hunters. Even she, with the advantage of her powers, had difficulty fighting them. Although she'd found a few tricks to cripple them, actually killing one was incredibly difficult, given the sheer thickness of their hide and their tremendous resilience. Although there were certainly more dangerous creatures in the woods, there were few that could be said to be more persistent. And, just her luck, it was the distinctive musty, irony odor of one of these beasts that caught her notice. She grimaced. It had probably heard the horses and decided to come looking for prey. So long as the wagon kept moving, it might be able to outpace the Atilgan, but given the hour, the travelers would probably try to stop and make camp, which would mean...

Her earlier resignation flew out the window. She couldn't risk being found, but at the same time, she couldn't just sit back when innocent people were in danger. She wanted to atone for the sins of her past in any way she could. If, by helping in some small way, she could ensure their safety, then that was what she had to do. Steeling herself, she turned back toward the forest, and began slithering along the roadside in the wake of the carriage as quickly as her serpentine body could carry her.

"My dear girl, are you certain that this is the course of action you wish to pursue? If you are discovered by mortals so close to home, you may no longer have a safe place to return to." Gaius asked gravely. She nodded wordlessly, and the serpent did not question her further. "Very well, then. If this is a risk you wish to take, I will aid you in any way I can. My power is yours to command."

She didn't know how long it took until she drew close to the source of the scent she'd been following. It might have been ten minutes, or it might have been half an hour. Either way, the scent of horseflesh was now almost as strong as that of the reptile she'd been trying to head off, and yet, she couldn't hear any more hoofbeats, which meant her fears had been realized. These pilgrims had doubtless attempted to make camp, unaware of the Atilgan closing in on them. Focusing, she decided to take a rather large risk, reaching into the Phantom Realm and searching for something that might assist her. She found it in the form of the wings of a Kelmourn - a gigantic avian that crawled on two taloned legs and small vestigial "hands" adorning its black-feathered wings, or else flew upon those same appendages. They'd certainly be strong enough to carry her weight, but at the same time, might call unwanted attention to her. Still, there wasn't any other way she'd be able to arrive in time to assist the travelers, which meant that utilizing this Phantom was her only option. Calling out to one of the beasts she had tended to in its dying moments, she pleaded it to lend her its wings. The creature assented, and so flaring the mana burning through her body's leylines, she concentrated it into the lower, intact set of markings adorning her back. Spreading her arms in mimicry of her two new appendages, she gave them three mighty sweeps, coiling her tail beneath her and then springing upward with all her might, thus launching herself into the air. The dim blue glow of her spectral wings was soon lost amidst the trees as she glided over the woods, her tail trailing in her wake. Circling overhead, she searched frantically about for the source of the scent. Just then, however, she heard several loud crashes and shouts from a clearing on the edge of her vision. Hastening toward it, she lowered herself immediately back beneath the treeline, catching a branch with her tail and pulling herself into a large oak overlooking the clearing. Was she too late?

It seemed that way, for to her horror, the scene before her eyes was nothing short of absolute chaos. A human boy was helping a black-haired young man to his feet, while a human woman diverted the beast's attention for a moment, blocking two of its charges before a small shape - a kindred, perhaps? - moved in to intervene, casting some sort of nature magic to create a wall of foliage to intercept a third stampede. The beast was in a fury now, and tore through this barricade in seconds, its gigantic maw opening to devour anyone it might find on the other side of the wall. Hylonome's breath caught in her throat. If she didn't do something now, it might be too late for the mage who'd erected the short-lived palisade. She had no idea how she could assist without revealing her presence to those in the clearing. Still, there was no time to think, so she just did the first thing that came to mind. Calling upon the specter of an Elven-made bow and arrow - specifically those used by one of the ill-fated hunters who had pursued her following her transfiguration - she raised her hand, the red "eye" sigil on its back glowing faintly as phantasmal blue light coalesced within her grasp, taking the form of the weapon she remembered being fired at her all those years ago. Pouring her power into it, she took hold of the string, drew it back, and gave it one command to seal its existence.

"That Atilgan... silence it." With those words, she fired, aiming for the creature's throat. The arrow struck home upon its target, but instead of ricocheting off of the beast's hard scales, it simply faded into them, as though they were not there. Indeed, it would only take physical form once inside the Atilgan's body, piercing its throat. While normally, she'd expect this to be fatal, in this case, Hylonome held no such hopes. After all, given the beast's sheer size, her arrow would be about as effective as using a butter knife to try to slit the throat of a Nord. However, she hadn't been trying to kill the creature. That would draw too much attention to herself. What her real goal had been was to damage its vocal cords, keeping it from utilizing perhaps the most powerful ability it possessed: a powerful directional roar it utilized to stun its prey. This would also have the added bonus of rendering it difficult for the creature to breathe. Limping, in pain, and tired, without any means of immobilizing its targets, hopefully the creature would either give up and retreat, or else fall to the recovering adventurers. Hylonome would wait there in the treetops long enough to ensure that much. After that, she'd have no choice to jump into the Phantom World and get as far away as possible before one of the travelers noticed that somebody had ever even been there...

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Uriel ven Iova Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Kav the Stout Character Portrait: Hylonome The Forsaken

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Uriel made sure to watch her steps as she prepared to maneuver out of the way - a thick wall of living branches and roots intertwined and rose to separate her and the lizard. Thinking fast, she took the time to charge a bolt of light in her hand. Normally she would have to rely on a quick shot, which would last a second or so at most, but the longer she charged it, the more effective it would be. Still, the barrier didn't last long and the Atilgan gained on her instantly. Something zipped by and struck the beast in the throat, hindering but not stopping the assault. She didn't have the time or concentration to spare to discern where the source of her support was coming from, but she would have to thank them later should she have the chance - the prospect of defeating it started to seem increasingly more likely. The crippling of the monster bought a precious few seconds of reaction time, the lunges and lashes of its claws becoming more manageable to dodge and deflect with her shield. She barely ducked under the swipe of its spiked tail and side-stepped its angled slam as the tail made a sharp curve and thudded into the ground where she'd stood only moments before.

The light spear in her hand now fully charged, she nailed the Atilgan head-on at point-blank range. Though the bolt of light wasn't capable of harm, it had the effect of paralyzing the area of impact, and the duration would depend on how long the bolt was charged for, and it was more than enough time for a finishing blow to the exhausted beast. Uriel took a step back and summoned her wings once more, launching herself straight into the sky. As she came diving down in a pillar of light, her shield glowed with a brilliant glow as she rammed it directly into the top of its skull, releasing a powerful wave of energy that likely scattered and temporarily blinded anything within a several meter radius. Being the direct center of impact of the attack, the Atilgan fell to the ground and, for the moment, did not seem capable of mustering the strength to stand again. It made a hoarse, angry hissing sound with its throat as if to summon another screech, but nothing came of it.

With the massive beast slumped over and in no state to be attacking anyone else, Uriel placed her shield on her back and turned to the stoat kindred, putting a fist into her open palm and bowing slowly as a sign of thanks. "I appreciate your assistance," she said calmly, standing up straight and looking down at the noticeably smaller figure in front of her. "I suppose you are traveling with the two men who left?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Uriel ven Iova Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Kav the Stout Character Portrait: Hylonome The Forsaken Character Portrait: Claire Lucion

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April 9--9:54 PM
Forests on the Solarian Empire/Sylvana Border


Even as he burst back into their campsite, Kaus could still hear the sounds of the battle. As quickly yet carefully as he could, he put Miroch down, next to the fire. "Claire! Hey! Are you still awake?" he called, looking around, but not really making a great effort to find her. "Just...someone take care of Miroch for a while, okay?" With that, he dashed back into the forest, trying to find his way back to the battle.

Come to think of it, I think I saw something while I was running back to the camp...did one of the others join the fight? I hope they haven't died or anything yet... Shaking his head, Kaus forced the pessimistic thoughts into a corner of his mind and tried to keep running.

Unfortunately, he knew his enhanced vision wouldn't last much longer. He had switched it "off" when he ran back into the campsite, but he knew he couldn't make it back to that lady with the shield before he reached the time limit. Just gotta cover as much distance as I can before then...

Just then, something caught his eye in the air. There appeared to be something floating up there, preparing to fire an arrow from a bow...but before he could make out any details at all about the mysterious archer, his enhanced vision wore off, and everything around him seemed to be plunged into darkness.

Immediately slamming his heel into the ground to halt his momentum, Kaus looked around, quickly making sure that he wasn't about to trip on anything. He tried looking above the trees again, to see who that was, but there was no longer anything there. What the...was I imagining things...? Perplexed, he slowly walked a bit further into the woods, noticing that the beast's infernal roaring had ended.

At last, he arrived in the place where the beast had attacked. Snapped tree branches and roots lay everywhere, while the beast lay to the side, with an arrow somehow piercing through its neck. Not far away stood that lady with the shield, as well as Kav. So he had come to help as well. "Oh...you guys are okay," Kaus remarked, feeling quite relieved now.

Walking over to the beast, which could do nothing but hiss helplessly and glare at him, he could see the arrow wasn't one of his. The tail feathers didn't resemble any of the ones he had used to make his most recent batch of arrows, and he had already used up all others. Strange...wait a minute, is it transparent?

Bending down for a closer look, he found that he could, in fact, see through it. As if that weren't already strange enough, he realized it was giving off a faint blue glow--but before he could examine it any further, it abruptly "shattered" into dust.

Could it have been that mysterious archer? Had he been seeing things? Now, Kaus felt even more confused. How could anyone get up that high? Why did that arrow glow and then shatter? Where did that archer disappear off to after making the shot? Just what happened after his vision returned to normal?

I don't get any of this anymore... Deciding to put it out of his mind, he walked back to Kav and the lady with the shield. "Yeah...he's one of my companions," he cut in, gesturing to Kav before bowing at the waist. "Anyway, thanks for helping us, ma'am. But...if you don't mind me asking, what are you doing out here at night--in Sylvana, no less?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Uriel ven Iova Character Portrait: Kav the Stout

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Casually brushing dust off of her armor, Uriel turned her attention to one of the young men who had been at the scene earlier and has now returned. She tightened one of her bracers, looking over her equipment to make sure that nothing had loosened up during the battle. "I was looking for something I dropped," she answered, her gaze still fixed to the armor that she was adjusting. "A silver pendant in the shape of a trident. I came through this forest on escort duty earlier today, so when I realized that it was missing I started to backtrack. Then, I heard fighting and I intervened." Her gaze shifted up to meet the man's gaze, studying his expressions as she talked. "I already found it, though, I was in the middle of heading back." Her eyes momentarily shifted to the stoat, to the defeated Atilgan, and then back. "If you take me to your friend, I can heal him if he has not yet recovered," she offered. "

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Uriel ven Iova Character Portrait: Kav the Stout

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April 9--9:58 PM
Forests on the Solarian Empire/Sylvana Border


Listening to the lady with the shield speak, Kaus felt a little bit more interested in her tale. So, she's some kind of bodyguard or something? Guess it makes sense, considering what kind of reputation this place has...

The young leader suppressed a shudder, remembering the rumors of the inhabitants of Sylvana, the wood elves. All he had heard was that they apparently chased down people passing through their territory with wyverns. It was most definitely in anyone's best interests to escape them, for...well, apparently no one had survived to tell tales of their hospitality.

The lady with the shield then offered to heal Miroch. "Oh! Yeah, that would be great. This way, then," Kaus quickly replied, starting to walk back towards their campsite. "And, if you're tired...I guess you could rest at our camp for the night, if that's alright. I'm Kaus, by the way. And..." He gestured to the stoat Kindred. "This is Kav. Dunno if any of the others are awake, though."

After a few minutes of walking, they returned to the camp...but to Kaus' surprise, Miroch wasn't lying where he had left him earlier. "Wait...where is he? I left him right here..." He looked around, confused. "Hey...does anyone know where Miroch is?"

PLEASE tell me he didn't walk off again...

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Uriel ven Iova Character Portrait: Miroch Vutan Character Portrait: Kav the Stout Character Portrait: Claire Lucion

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#, as written by Eyliel
Soon after Claire had returned to the rest of the group with her new wagon, they set off, leaving the city. Unfortunately, it seemed like she still had to take care of actually driving the wagon. She couldn't do her experiments like that. She would have to find someone else to do the job soon, or her projects would be delayed. Well, at the very least, she could still work with her mind, planning future experiments and doing calculations and the like. Just following an empty road did not take much brainpower, so she could focus on other things.

Not too long after they had left the city, they came across a most curious sight. Namely, an Owl Kindred impaling a head onto a wooden spike. Not exactly a pleasant sight, Claire had to admit. She would have been perfectly fine with leaving an individual that displayed such brutality alone, but one of the Kindred among them, Kav, announced that this... eccentric person was an acquaintance of his. And their great leader approved his presence among them. While she questioned the wisdom of this decision, she decided to keep an open mind. Don't judge a book by its cover and all that, even if that book happened to have the picture of a head impaled on a spike on it.

Not much else happened for a while after that. Claire just had the horses pull them towards the direction pointed by Kaus, and eventually night came along, signaling them that it was time to set up camp. It did not take too long for the process to finish, with a campfire set and everyone having a place to sleep. It seemed like at least some along them had experience traveling. Unlike Claire herself, who had spent almost her entire life in the same town. Claire herself had taken the wagon for herself as her sleeping spot. It was hers, after all, bought with her own money.

After things were properly set up, Claire prepared some simple food, using some of the fast-to-spoil ingredients the wagon carried, while saving the ones that could be preserved for a longer period of time. She was fairly satisfied with the result of her cooking, but noted some points that could be improved on. She left enough for anyone who might have been hungry. If no one ate it, she could just use it for some experiments later on.

Once full, Claire retired to her wagon, closing it tightly from outside interference. With her, she brought a bucket full of water, carried from a nearby source of water. She took out a glowing orb from her bag, filling the wagon with light. Then, she took out her tools from a chest laid against the right side of the wagon. Within moments, an area in the middle of the wagon had been filled with various devices of metal and glass, most of which would make no sense to the untrained eye. And she was still missing many of her former equipment. She couldn't have brought it all with her, after all, for fear of breaking the delicate apparati. But she could make do with the ones she had. She just needed a bit of creativity and precise calculations.

Having separated herself from the outside world, Claire immersed herself in her studies. Making sure to take notes of everything, she dissolved various plants she had gathered around the campsite using alchemic solution made using copper. Then she combined them, tested the result, then repeated the process with various small changes into the formula every time, searching for the rules that degreed what would come out in the end. Once, she stopped the combination of two different sets of alchemic solution halfway, using an alembic to separate the first alchemic solution from the second. Alchemic solutions boiled at different points depending on the metal used to create them, which helped when separating them. In any case, the halfway-stopping of the combination had produced some interesting results, which she made sure to take note of.

Her work was not purely experimentation, however. She did produce some basic potions from her earlier recipes as well. She had to be useful to the team, after all. Speaking of the potions, she had had some plans regarding them as well. They were still far from their full potential, but she knew a few methods for improving their effects, and had ideas for many, many more. First, she would have to find someone to test them on, however. She also had to gather some blood samples. The variety in their group made for plenty of potential for experimentation.

All of a sudden, her work was interrupted by shouting from outside. Was that Kaus's voice? Something about Miroch? Sighing, not very happy about her favorite pastime being interrupted, Claire stood up and slid aside the heavy cloth at the back to look outside. Kaus had already disappeared, but indeed, Miroch was there, next to the campfire. Injured? It looked like it was her turn to act. She returned inside the wagon to pick up a few of her potions, but already by the time she had come out and headed for Miroch, he had stood up and seemed to be leaving again. Claire did attempt to draw his attention and give him some treatment, but he seemed... preoccupied, heading off without rest. Well, from what Claire saw, his life wasn't in danger, though he was hardly in perfect condition. Still, she was not fully aware of the situation, so it was not her place to keep him from where he had to be. Apparently, something had happened while she had been busy with her experiments. She decided to leave him alone, trusting that he knew what had to be done, though she did make a mental note about the direction he had headed in. For a brief moment, she considered following him, but she knew that she would simply get lost. She was no woodsman, and would have a hard time finding her way in the forest even during the day. At night, she wouldn't be able to tell left from right.

Claire sat down next to the campfire. It was, unfortunately, not the time to be doing more experiments. She should be ready for any further developments. Here, she would be ready when Kaus -or someone else- returned. She noticed that he was not the only one missing, though in the darkness, she couldn't exactly tell who were still present. For now, she could simply wait.

Eventually, Kaus did return. With Kav in tow, as well as a woman Claire had never seen before. A Solarian? Well, that did not matter so much to Claire, but she was rather curious about some unknown woman in the middle of the woods. For now, however, her attention was focused on Kaus, who soon showed his dismay at Miroch having disappeared. Claire stood up and walked up to him.

"I would appreciate it if you would brief me on the situation, but first, I suppose I should answer your question." She pointed in the direction Miroch had wandered off in. "I attempted to give him treatment, but he did not seem particularly interested and left in that direction. He seemed a bit dazed, but seemed to know where he was going. I am not sure if he was in the condition to go wandering off on his own, however. I would have followed him, but then we would simply have two people lost in the forest instead of just one."

She sighed. "Since he left like that, I had to leave my wagon for no reason. Even after preparing the medicine. I was looking forward to finding out about their effectiveness. I don't suppose any one of you is also injured? If so, try one of these." She held out a few vials full of a clear, slightly bluish liquid, offering them to any who would take them. They should accelerate the healing of minor wounds and help them regain stamina. Since none of them was obviously injured, she refrained from offering any of her more potent medicines. Next, she nodded in the direction of the Solarian. "Now then, Kaus, may I know who this lady you were meeting in the middle of the night is?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kaus Meridion Character Portrait: Uriel ven Iova Character Portrait: Kav the Stout Character Portrait: Hylonome The Forsaken Character Portrait: Claire Lucion

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April 9--10:01 PM
Forests on the Solarian Empire/Sylvana Border


At long last, Kaus finally failed to hide his frustration and slapped a hand against his forehead. "That idiot...we had to go and save him one time, and then he just wanders off again? Without being treated, no less!" At the same time, he wanted to point out that Claire could probably have grabbed Miroch's arm and prevented him from walking away, but he ended up not saying so.

Sheesh, just how much could go wrong on the first night...knowing he should probably start looking for Miroch AGAIN as soon as possible, Kaus decided to make his explanation brief. "There was a monster out there who attacked Miroch. She stepped in to help us, and came back to heal Mr. Missing Elf Guy."

Pushing away the medicine vials, since he hadn't been physically hurt in the battle, he mumbled, "Agh...I'd better go look for Miroch, I suppose. And after that, I'll keep watch in his place, too." With his mood significantly worsened, the young leader picked up a fairly thick branch and dipped it into the campfire, hoping it'd work well enough as a source of light. Then he stalked off in the direction Claire had said that elf had gone.

Even with his makeshift torch, he could barely see anything in the forest, so he had to move quietly and listen intently. Come on, where could that guy be... Right then, a gentle breeze swept up, momentarily disturbing the flames. Instinctively, Kaus flinched, thinking they might hit him. And abruptly, a female voice sounded out from the forest...

"You, who is entering the Sacred Wood; turn back. Please, don't come any closer...! For your own safety, return to your companions. What lies within in this forest is not to be disturbed. I don't want to hurt you, so please, just go back!"

Kaus froze. Who said that? He squinted to look in the direction from which the voice had come, but saw no one. Had that voice been addressing him? But he still had to find Miroch somehow, even if he could see just about nothing. "Miroch!" he called, hoping for a response. "Can you hear me? Where are you?"

He started to walk in the direction of that voice, not realizing he was going in the completely wrong direction.