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Iz'Hana Daudol

A wandering Ranger, always eager for the next hunt.

0 · 52 views · located in Zoltia

a character in “The Gala-Dor Expedition”, as played by StorminJericho

Description


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(Eez-Hahnah Da-u-Dowl)


Archetype
Drow Ranger, World Wanderer

Age:
122


BBCode:DarkMagenta


Theme:
Darren Korb - Pyre - Path to Glory

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Appearance:
Iz'Hana is a fairly tall, lithe, individual standing taller than most men at a solid 6 feet and 4 inches. He has a fairly rounded face, adorned with scars a-plenty, and has rather androgynous features. Androgyny not helped in the slightest by his voice, which is neither masculine nor feminine. His hair is a pale gray-white, nearly the same hue as his one visible eye. Iz'Hana most commonly wears a set of 'travelling clothes' that he claims were gifted to him by a lifelong friend. As well as a dark black and gold, metallic, ominous looking mask. He rarely can be seen wearing anything other than these clothing articles. He also wears a basic copper, nickel and silver chain necklace, from which hangs a trio of serrated fangs, about as long as three or so inches. His ears are adorned with two brass rings on the right ear, and a nickel ring on the left.


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Personality: Iz'Hana is almost startlingly polite, and aggressive all at once... Though polite might be too kind a term.
Iz'Hana is blunt. Blunt and crass, if respectful, as he never quite seems to insult anyone or anything about another person.
His voice is smooth, neither too masculine or feminine, and his mood is typically what one might call 'amiable'. He carries himself in a manner that belies the strength underneath his equipment, almost as if he were constantly trying to vanish into the background of any given place or conversation.
In a word, Iz'Hana is contradictory in his personality to his behavior and appearance.
Iz'Hana also tends to be a bit over eager to go out and about, often being the first to sign up to scout an area ahead, or the first to ask to partner up if the situation calls for it.

Skills:
1. Huntsmans Weapons: Iz'Hana has in his possession four weapons. An almost surprisingly heavy iron and wood spear, a strangely shaped blade, about the size of a dwarf's forearm, along with what looks to be an odd whip of sorts. He also seems to carry about the head of a spear, removed from the pole.
Spoiler: show
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2. Navigating Wanderer: Iz'Hana has spent many decades out in the wilderness, and as such has learned how to navigate most types of wild-lands. He is most comfortable with caves and forests, having spent most of those wandering years in the two environs. He is EXTREMELY uncomfortable and unsuited to navigating cities of any size, only just barely being comfortable with hamlets and small villages.
3. Seasoned Huntsman: Iz'Hana is well versed in the identification and subsequent stalking and hunting of beasts and men alike, and can easily aid in the act of doing either.
4. Camouflaged Stalker: Iz'Hana is capable of blending in with his environment nearly perfectly, and often finds the best spots in which to hide with ease, as such, he is capable of striking in violent, surprising, bursts of action.

History:
Iz'Hana is a wanderer through and through, having once traveled with two others who meandered through the world as they willed. They never truly entered the cities or holdings of many nations, and tried their hardest to avoid The Bleaks. He and his 'family' as he came to call them after a time, found their call living off the land and as far from civilized peoples as they could. Iz'Hana took up the mantle of 'hunter', whilst Mother took the mantle of gatherer and cultivator, and Father took the mantle of Crafter and Hunter. The first to go was the one who found Iz'Hana, then the one Iz'Hana called mother.
For a time, Iz'Hana lived without them in silence and unhappiness, before finally travelling to The Bleaks for the first time.
He did not find a purpose there, nor did he find companions. So he once more returned to Zoltia's mainland, landing first in Jellico, then spending a decade or so meandering through the wilderness, before finally returning to the mainland with its' civilized people.
He is now alone, and having sought out a purpose, as well as another means of living, wandered his way through Zoltia's civilized lands, searching.

So begins...

Iz'Hana Daudol's Story

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Iz'Hana Daudol

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A cough leapt from the lips, parched and dry. Wrists and ankles hurt from their chafing constraints, of which clanked and jangled in the nearly silent air. The eyes were pressed shut, the face angled towards the ground as the lips parted.

A small song, empty and meaningless to any who weren't there during childhood, danced out from the mouth. It was a nonsense language, and it stayed relatively in tune with the rhythm the singer had kept to.
His voice was melancholy as he sang, the cuffs and shackles that held his wrists and ankles captive were shaken to follow the tempo.
Cl-clink clink, cl-clink clink, clink clink clink clank!
"'O lo saralfah! Ceis ta zufreird, 'o lo ad'hordah, clack tomst tsustat shu. Eest ta-" The song cutoff with a bang and a shout, a voice that sounded so equally tired and yet seemingly excited at the prospect of speech.
"Oh for the love of the Church would you please, SHUT. UP! Don't make me come over there Darkie! Yer in enough trouble as is, what with the thievery 'n all! Don't give me an'ther reason to wallop you thrice again!"
It echoed from the end of a hallway, a seemingly human voice perhaps, though considering they did not step into the hall, it was impossible to know for sure.

Iz'Hana raised his head, rolling his eyes and blowing his hair from over his left eye. He had taken to sitting on air, as it were, and though his arms were stretched upwards, he pulled himself into a standing position once again. His clothing and armor were gone, his mask as well, along with ... Practically everything he owned. The shackles at his ankles and wrists chafed horribly, and the constant inability to get comfortable was infurating.
"What a fuckin' pain."
The statement was whispered, mostly to himself. He gazed again around his cell. Four walls, three of which were stone work, and the other was simple iron bars. No privacy. No chance to hide anything. Rough.
Iz'Hana knew at most that he was in a hall that housed at least twelve other cells like his, with one of the other cells directly across from his. He only just glanced at it before returning to staring at the ground in front of him.

He shouted, abruptly, with a tone that seemed to border on indignation were it not for the wording. "Sir! I simply must ask again, when shall I be released?! I have done no crime, no theft was committed by my hands!"
There was a pause, some brief- faint- conversation, before the voice at the end of the hall shouted in return. "Whenever we say, quit askin'! The answer ain't gonna change in the three days you've been in there! Jus’ keep yerself content an’ maybe you’ll get someone to vouch for ya. Maybe! Hah!” A laugh, belly deep and cruel. Then the sound of footsteps fading away.

Iz’Hana wondered for a brief moment, how exactly it was that no one had escaped from this jail. The guard or guards, if one could call them that, were startlingly relaxed, and practically begging for a proficient enough criminal to break out.
Iz’Hana… was NOT that criminal. Most certainly not. His list of skills definitely did NOT cover how to pick locks, or how to slip past guards in an urban environment.
So instead, he was jailed in a cell, away from his gear, and most importantly: away from anyone else. Alone. Utterly.

Well, mostly alone, the guard was still there- but! All the same. Alone.

Iz’Hana hummed himself a small tune, trying to keep himself as quiet as he could possibly be.
And he waited. Waited for… Something. Anything.





Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hilgur Black-Mane Character Portrait: Dreador Character Portrait: Iz'Hana Daudol

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The southern Arc-en-Lume watchtower. One of the capital’s many holding cells laid here, beneath the floors upon floors of barracks. Here, under the dim, crackling torchlights and the incessant rattle of chains and shackles, the city’s many thieves, thugs, and other miscreants remained. Some awaited trial. Others hoped for bail or pardon. All, however, longed for freedom. Freedom from the rusted, blood-scented chains. From the stale, dusty air. From the possibility of a worse fate within the Siren’s Epitaph, Beaucourt’s most fortified prison, secluded deep within the western mountain range.

The sound of footsteps drew Iz’Hana’s ears. The bright yellow glow of a lantern peered down the spiral staircase just across his cell. His keen huntsman’s senses recognised these sounds. The familiar, metallic clink and clank of the guards’ steel sabatons, followed by the pitter-patter of footsteps, one with shorter, slower strides than the other.

The faceless armet of one guard looked straight at Iz’Hana. “Hey, Darkie. We’ve got a friend for ya.” The other guard cackled and dragged the bound form of a drow woman down the stairs, across the cobblestone floor, and in front of Iz’Hana’s cell. The first guard unlocked the door, and the second tossed the woman inside.

Thud!

Her lanky body rolled over the dust thrice over. The guards shut the door, and began to move along with their second prisoner - a stout dwarf, dressed in tattered rags, with beard and eyes as black as ink. “Guards, wait!” He shouted. The guards humoured him. The dwarf shuffled towards the drow woman, his arms bound behind his back and secured by the second guard. ”Don’t celebrate just yet,” he spoke, his voice a calm, low warning. ”The Sacred Flame are lookin’ through my room in the Jackalope this very moment. It’s only a matter of time.”

She spat through the bars, spraying it through her teeth and over his face like a snake spitting venom. “Inbau aturr ulu l’maerch, gorra’h,” she hissed, unable to hold back the laugh in her voice.

Hilgur bared his wide, block-like teeth, his face contorted with layers of wrinkles set by rage. ”NOBODY CAN STOP MY EXPEDITION!” “Alright, that’s enough,” The first guard decided, and dragged a screaming, squirming, incensed Hilgur away, deeper into the dungeons.

A flash of white darted across her dark face. As she turned around, she disposed of her grin, flicking her gaze over to the shadow in the corner. They were hers, with ashen skin and pale eyes more fitting of their kind. A short rolling of her tongue left her lips instinctively, ending on an inflection. A question. Then she frowned, remembering something, and tossed her head without waiting for an answer, slinking towards the other corner.

Zoltian drow. They weren’t hers.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hilgur Black-Mane Character Portrait: Dreador Character Portrait: Iz'Hana Daudol

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It was the hissing spit that really drew Iz’Hana’s focus; his head rolling upward in a languid, almost bored sort of fashion. His eyes narrowed on reflex as the Drow woman was shoved in with him, and he twitched as if to move towards her when she spat on the dwarf.

Inbau aturr ulu l’maerch, gorra’h.” Hissed the woman, her words driving Iz’Hana’s eyebrows high. His body twitched as if to move forward, to protect this… This kindred, this one like him, like so many others. But no.

No instead, he sat calmly, holding his breath and his body as still as the grave. As still as an animal watching for an opening. The guards held one eye on him, one on the woman, and one on the now raging dwarf.

He got no such opening. They left, and locked him in with someone… Interesting.

His focus turned to the woman as he stood to his full height, his arms creaking the entire way up. His eyes, far darker than hers, locked on the woman’s form as she curled away.
The trill she gave before she did though…

Iz’Hana returned the trill, a deeper, somewhat guttural thing, with an inflection on the end as well.
Then his hands moved, one coming up and resting over his eye, the palm facing out towards the woman.
Then they both came down, facing up towards the ceiling, as close to under his ribs as he could get them.

Then he repeated. Over and over until the woman looked, and responded.

The boredom faded quickly for Iz’Hana, and instead, exhilarated focus overtook him. He dared not speak, dared not to breathe until he was sure that she was what he thought she might be.

A comrade.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dreador Character Portrait: Iz'Hana Daudol

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Dreador looked at her captive companion like she couldn't believe him. She slowly raised from the seat she had condemned herself to, eyes flicking between the movement of his hands. Trust. Help. Trust. Help. Over and over. She lifted a hand, pressed the back of it lightly against her eye, then prowled forward.

"Inbal dos tlus iff'brut quin?" she began, testing the stranger for the Gaurrean old tongues, then continued in her heavy accent, "Have you been marked?"

She knelt by him and gestured to the back of her neck.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dreador Character Portrait: Iz'Hana Daudol

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Oh.
Iz’Hana sighed a breath that was tinted with relief and recognition alike. Another drow, who spoke the same way Ilharn did! The same words, the same … Well, almost the same everything. A shock from long ago. A male’s voice murmuring in that familiar, soothing tongue. The language like a balm over the scrapes and burns from the hunt. The damn lizard hadn’t won yet, they would succeed thrice-dammit—

His breathing sped up as he smiled at the other occupant, a bright, if quiet, laugh leaping from his throat as he whispered back to her.

P'obonus? Nau. T'neus, handerr lu'nug'ri? Siyo.” He rolled his head about before slumping once again against the wall, his eyes peering at the now empty hall beyond the cell. Iz’Hana was tired, sleep begged for his attention.
Alas sleep would wait! A change of pace, some exhilarating new situation!

Lu'oh xunus dos inbau ghil? Vel'klar tlun Usstan? Usstan xun naut zhaun nindol che'el, xor nindolen thac'zilen, ves al jalamzild.” Rushed whispers, excitement almost overpowering, before…
Usstan tlun Iz’Hana” Hissed out of him, the bubbling excitement fading and cooling down to a mere smile that had still yet to leave his lips.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dreador Character Portrait: Ashera Vallenai Character Portrait: Esther Alfsson Character Portrait: Serena L'aporte Character Portrait: Maria Solaster Character Portrait: Orcimedes Lavatrina Character Portrait: Iz'Hana Daudol

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"Jalamzild..." she repeated to herself, skepticism colouring the word. He claimed to be unfamiliar with these lands, but she didn't believe him, not entirely. It wasn't because of a liar's tongue. But she refrained from trading her name with this Iz'Hana regardless.

"Ol zhah natha sief ulu thalra dos, Iz'Hana," she greeted. And a relief it was. It was a joy to use her tongue again, after using it so sparingly whilst in the company of those bright-eyed fools. "F'sarn ghil p'wal natha rivvil paken brou pholor uns'aa." Her hands moved up to tug on the silver collar around her neck. "Natha rivvil paken brou pholor uns'aa p'wal natha dwen'del sers uns'aa pholor natha sluda." Her lips twisted into a scornful smile. "Usstan brorn ka il orn'la plynnet brou pholor uns'aa ka usstan zhahus ulu l'chath zil High Paladin quarthen."

She crawled closer. The chains, the jewelry, all of the delicate metals on her person clinked softly as she did. "Dosst kyrom?" she asked in a whisper.




Back down in the sewers, Lio raised his fists in preparation to charge into combat, threw up, and accidentally stumbled out of the way of a killing blow.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dreador Character Portrait: Iz'Hana Daudol

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Another laugh crackled out of Iz’Hana’s parched throat. He slowly slumped back against the wall, moving closer to the other drow as best he could without drawing attention.
He took note that she did not name herself, and accepted that. He didn’t blame her.

But he was telling the truth, as best he felt he was at least. The lands had changed in a way he could not describe, and cities were… labyrinthine hellscapes. Too many bodies, too much paranoia. Elves and humans and dwarves and prejudice. No proper trees to climb, no proper space to breathe that wasn’t filthy with the stench of society. Customs and beliefs that were as alien as his appearance. Disgust. The Clerics of flame.
Oh well.

Iz’Hana felt more isolated in a city full of people, than in the wilds where to see another person was to see a unicorn. Or a god.


Opi theft, ‘sil'in’ j'nesst ssiggrin il “kyor uns'aa stealing dal natha tragr! Ukt rahi ph'suspicious!” He took a breath, an indignant anger rising for a moment before fading as he continued.
L'kyorle trital ilta. Naut uns'aa. Nind telanth Usstan tlun ulu kyorl whol ussta bail, xor ‘ussta sponsor’, xor whol ussta draeval ulu tlu phor. Uss hal'luthi.
His head tossed upward, frustration coloring his tone. He sighed then, switching back to ‘understandable tongue’ as Father had put it. His accent was not nearly as thick as hers, though it was creeping close to similar.
This hall was empty, just me, before you and your gorra’h arrived.

He chuckled at the word, a baleful sort of smile spreading on his lips as he tilted his head at the woman. “You did not kill him yet? I think I would have tried to, what with the pompous attitude. Cannot stand ‘nobility.’ No respect given to others.

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dreador Character Portrait: Iz'Hana Daudol

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"Whol nindel, dos orn naut tlu iff'brut," she murmured under her breath in response to his story. His language was slipping now, mixing with Zoltian as he lost it to emotion. Then it fell away completely. She rested back in a crouch, her face deadly serious at his little jests.

"I cannot."

She leaned forward, eyes scanning up his lean musculature, to the callouses on his hands. She made direct eye contact as she whispered, in a voice that sounded like a dragon slivering through its hoard,

"Ph'dos natha elggur?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dreador Character Portrait: Iz'Hana Daudol

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Oh! What an interesting question, as abrupt as it was.
The response was difficult, the words coming out of Iz’Hana in a manner that belied the thought put into each syllable.
Mm… Natha elggur? Mayoe. Usstan elgg fuer'yonii, lu'nesstren vel'drav Usstan inbal ulu.
He shifted, stretching his bones and joints with a racket of cracks and pops.
Telanth mzild ka udos rin'ov inbau doeb.

Iz’Hana smiled at her then, keeping his lips closed to avoid showing his teeth. Eventually, he relaxed again, letting himself ‘hang’ as it were. He spoke up soon after. “Ori'gato udossa telanth bauth folbol dkinoss, xal? Gumash dos tesso uns'aa vel'klar Usstan tlun? L'kaas d'nindol... klythmenvis?

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dreador Character Portrait: Iz'Hana Daudol

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Back to the old tongues. Good. She needed nobody outside of this cage to understand what she was about to propose.

"Arc en Lume," she answered. "Wun natha tlarnia'l'en usstan shlu'ta xxizz inbau dos doeb del."

The corner of her mouth twitched up at the expression he held as those words sunk in. She crawled over, coming to rest her shoulder against the wall right beside him. She leaned in close, until he felt her breath tickling his pointed ear.

"L'gorra'h orn tlu doeb ulnin, lu'plynn uns'aa xuil ukta." She whispered, "Dos shlu'ta doer xuil udossa... Ka dos valm l'z'hind ulu l'noamuth dwen'del varash d'Gala-Dor. Nindyn ph'UKT tu'ix. Usst... ph'endar."

She pulled back, locking her sharp gaze with his. "Ditronw nin, uk ekkt ukt krug'ut ulu fuun nindol z'hind. Dos orn ssrig'luin ukta. Jhal h'uena udos ph'doeb d'nindol cha'kohkev che'el..."

Her lips drew back in snarl, revealing her pointed teeth, bright as a full moon against the night sky painted on her skin. Her silver collar crackled.

"Elgg l'gorrah. Elgg ukta, lu'usstan orn nau'thal dos ulu l'iiyola uk lac'na!" The anger in her eyes softened, until Iz'Hana saw something akin to helplessness reflected in those big, wet eyes. "Qualla."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hilgur Black-Mane Character Portrait: Dreador Character Portrait: Iz'Hana Daudol

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The visible eyebrow on Iz’Hana’s face skyrocketed, his mouth opening to reply with a firm negative to the drow before him.
He did not know her name! Nor her motives! He knew… Nothing, almost, about her!

But the look in her eyes. The panic. Desperation.

A moment of uncomfortable thinking and silence later, with the roaring thrumming and drumming of his heart in his ears to his fingertips; he sighed an answer, smiling brightly at the woman before him. “Usstan shlu'ta naut telanth nau. Ravv orn'la Usstan daewl ulu. Usstan nym'uer dos. Usstan zhal xun nindol.

His face scrunched up with a grunt, nose wrinkled into an ugly expression. “Naut natha y'haerr d'rothe ehmtua's nayhako.
His words snarled, the growl underlied them a belly deep thing. His gaze slipped past her, the unnamed woman, and out to the hall beyond their shared cell.

She had mentioned a map, and that the dwarf would be gaining funding from connections in the city. Interesting.

She promised him treasure. A snort leapt from Iz’Hana. “Xun naut yaith uns'aa whol nindol. Usstan tlun naut biu velg'larn, jhal Usstan tlun yor'in. Ol orn tlu nau endar dal tah'entil natha fuer'yon.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dreador Character Portrait: Ashera Vallenai Character Portrait: Esther Alfsson Character Portrait: Serena L'aporte Character Portrait: Maria Solaster Character Portrait: Anaïs Botrel Character Portrait: Orcimedes Lavatrina Character Portrait: Iz'Hana Daudol

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Georgina’s struggling halted. Her nose twitched, catching a familiar scent. Light, with the fragrance of exotic spices. Her pink tail whipped left and right, her red eyes were round and glossy, and she leapt up to snatch Orcimedes’ treat. “Roooooo…!” She bent low and rapidly shook her head, tearing into the jerky with a maw full of knife-like teeth.

The Bandit Leader looked up at Maria. The due she gave at the dead did not escape his notice… and neither did her mercy. She took his breath away, and he collapsed to his knees and palms, his head bowed low as he proclaimed, “P-Praise be to you and the Sacred Flame, my fair lady!”

He spent a moment there and offered his own silent prayer. Still, Esther’s request did not go unnoticed. The Bandit Leader stood to his feet, turned towards the raven, and pressed a fist against his chest with a nod. “Yes... Follow me.”

A firm hand clenched around his ankle and fixed him in place. He looked down to see a huge phantom of a man that had dragged himself across the sewer floor. “If she’s so much as missing a pinkie finger I will throw up all my blood on you,” Lio threatened, blood bubbling up over his lips, “Then I’ll take your head, grind your face in it, and if you’re so lucky that your skull doesn’t crack under my boot, you can fucking drown, you rancid, corpse breathed molerat.” The Bandit Leader froze in place. It was hard to discern his expression behind that bucket on his head, but Lio didn’t need to look to taste his fear. “Y..yes, that’s…” The Bandit Leader whipped away and struggled to find the right word. “...Motivating.”

The Bandit Leader led the way. Lio tried to flag down somebody to help him up, but he had no such luck and was stuck staggering after them thirty feet behind around the chasm, towards an iron door at the end of this long journey. It was unlike any other door they’d seen here, round and nine foot tall, forged from steel that had not rusted, even after so long at the dregs at the bottom of Arc-en-Lume. A massive wheel protruded from the centre of the door, not unlike those of a ship’s. The Bandit Leader slowed to a stop, grabbed the wheel, and began turning.

“Hrrkh!”

Metal grinded and ratcheted as he tugged at the wheel. Every inch drew the strength from his body. Finally, there was a booming thud, and the Bandit Leader motioned everybody to step back. The door dragged against the floor. A deep, grating noise followed its motions, it slowly swung open, and revealed...

A dark, wide room. The walls, floors, and ceiling were a grey, smooth colour, made of broad stone tiles wider and taller than the bricks they’d seen throughout the sewer. There were crates, barrels, and an assortment of junk strewn about the vault, but what stood out amongst the rest were the cages. Massive, rusted boxes of iron, scattered all around, filled with bodies upon bodies - some dressed in the blood-stained whites of the Sacred Flame, but most wore the crude leather and spiked iron of the Red Hatchets. Even within the dark, they could tell, the bodies were long cold.

Cough.

...Most of them, anyway.

At one end of the room, a silhouette stirred. The Bandit Leader stepped back. The group moved closer, and the shadow was brought into their light. Wavy black locks. A vermilion coat. Giant, puffed-up orange sleeves, adorned by strips of teal. Mud and cuts stained her dress, but its rich colours shined amidst the grime. She sat there, cross-legged, her wrists bound together in irons. Her almond-shaped eyes perused them. A smile graced her lips.

“Well, well, well! You don’t look raggedy enough to be Hatchets,” she remarked. “And none of you bear the cloth, save for…” Her gaze darted over to Maria, and she raised one brow curiously. “Hmm… white dress, freshly-burnt ash, and that ever-present air of lethargy…” The young woman scooted closer. Her face lit up. “Sister Maria, it is you! Darling, it’s been ages!”

It was difficult for Maria to forget her - Hortensia Hecate Halifax, granddaughter of Arc-en-Lume’s High Paladin. Always getting into trouble, even when Maria was an apprentice, and Hortensia, a teenager. Some things never changed. “Pardon me. It’s a right mess I’m caught up in.“ She shifted and tucked her chin onto her shoulder as her smile curled into a sheepish grin. “At least this time I’m not stuffing bugs into anyone’s breeches!”

Hortensia’s attention turned towards another, who had just stumbled into the room. Tall, handsomely built, and covered from head to toe in sewer dregs. Even with all that filth, Hortensia recognised him right away. She brought her hands to her nose and furrowed her brows. “O-oh! Lio, darling, that’s... not a good look for you.” The noblewoman waved away in a futile attempt to ward the stench. “Might I recommend a bath? Or several. Probably a massage, as well.”

Lio looked less than impressed. He let out the strained laugh of a man barely disguising his displeasure as he squatted in front of her. His dazzling grin, the only thing clean on him, dropped. “On the contrary, Horty, this cage is a great fit on you. Slimming. Maybe we should keep you in for another day or two.”

Hortensia’s hands crossed over her stomach, and her brows knit together. “Excuse you! Any slimmer and I won’t be much fun to hug!” The noblewoman turned away with a huff. “And then you’ll be in trouble with our mutual friend.” The tiniest hint of a grin remained on the corner of her mouth. Lio reached through the bars, pinched her nose between the knuckles of his middle and index finger, and that smile vanished.

“You’ve never had much fun hugging each other anyway. Don’t just say ‘take a bath’ to the person who crawled through a sewer to save you from your mistakes.” He glanced behind him at the party. He hadn’t done much of the actual saving part. He released her nose and wiped the grime from his fingers onto his singlet as an afterthought. “Well, that's why I'm here, but the master told me to make it explicit that he only gave me permission to come down here if I made sure his investment came back.” Lio held out a hand, palm up. “Do you still have the ring?”

Hortensia rubbed her own nose with a wince. The question came, and she sat up in attention. Slowly, she turned her gaze across the room, towards the hulking form of Orcimedes, and stopped. “Weeeeelllll…”

Lio looked over his shoulder at the party, big, green and slobbering especially, took in a suffering breath, and smiled.

“... Who has it?”




The guard’s eyes followed Anaïs’ hand, towards her scholar’s cross, and considered her words. After a moment, his posture relaxed, and he stayed his blade. “Stolen, you say?” He inquired, then stepped closer. “Then this is a matter of the law, and you should have filed a report.” The guard folded his arms, not taking his eyes off of Anaïs. “The Order of the Sacred Flame will take it from here. Please, turn out your pockets, and once I’m certain you haven’t taken or tampered with the evidence, you may go on your way.”




A thin, pretty smile crossed the drow’s face at her newly acquired ally’s words. She slunk back, her body still arched like a big cat ready to pounce, even as she backed off.

“Ajak, do'suul d'Arc en Lume,” she insisted in a whisper that tickled the back of his neck, despite her distance, “Tarthe dal l'Sacred Flame. Ol wo naut tlu verve hwuen dos kyorl l'anulo nin.”

And she settled back into her own shadowy corner, and went still, her sky-blue eyes turned up to the ceiling. Waiting.