Glorious afternoon light bathes the teeming fortress-city of Tulvir, capital of Karth, as throughout its already crowded streets hundreds of soldiers, their livery of all six kingdoms, mingle with the local throng.
The largest nodes of activity are about the numerous taverns as the already crowded alehouses attempt to cater for the massive influx of foreign guests.
In one particular one for instance, the Light of the South sees an arkward scene as two off-duty soldiers mistime their approach to the entrance, both squeezing through the door through virtue of their lilthe frames.
The rightmost of the duo stumbles slightly, her pristine long face, and golden locks playing host to an image of surprise as her blue, moonlike, eyes widen and thin lips part slightly to reveal two perfect sets of white teeth.
Beside her a tall, adolescant has no trouble regaining his feet, pausing to brush down his fine back silk cloak worn over his uniform before his features mirror those of the other as he looks up.
Both Takra Elmheart and Lantaris Narath take in the bursting taproom, noting only two free tables which are surprisingly empty. The first is occupied by an exceptionally tall man clad in a mixture of boiled leather and plate armour, a greatsword and scimitar are scabarded over his shoulders and his head, crowned by a shock of jet black hair, his bent in prayer.
The second table hosts only another human, this one a young woman, clearly from Valsavathar by the fur cloak slung across the back of her chair and the spirits in her cup. A staff lies beside her and the enblem at her throat denotes her as a Green Circle Mage.
Looking up from behind a grimy counter a stocky, bald, man grins humourlessly up at you, a slight scowl marring his features.
"Lucky last two, eh. There's room for no more of you foreigners in this taproom. If you can find a seat you've earnt a free round of drinks."
After dusting herself down Takra tried to avoid blushing, but to no avail as predictably her face flushed red. She saw the huge figure with his impressive armour and weapons sitting on one of the two free tables. Her eyes were next drawn to a much slighter figure, a mage from the looks of her as she had a staff leant next to her, though Takra did not recognise the symbol emblazoned on the front of it.
The young woman could answer a lot of things, Takra thought to herself, as although she was herself blessed with magical abilities she had no professional training, just raw power. This woman could unlock a whole new part of her powers and Takra could harness them properly. Takra snapped out of her thought trail telling herself not to think to far ahead and not to get her hopes up to much.
Takra was most intrigued by this young woman, and wondered over ignoring the stares and jeers as she walked past, the sort of men here seemed to remind her of her bleak past and quickly shunned them into the back of her mind. As she approached the free table she called to the young woman “Greetings, may I sit with you the rest of the crowd don't seem quite as...appealing.”
The human looked up from her drink, cold, keen eyes staring at the lithe woman that approached her. An elf, likely. Typical.
Crystal was about to sneer at the newcomer. She'd already made an effort to get a table by herself and she planned to *enjoy* it while she had the chance. She would have thought the newcomer would have had the sense to leave the Valsavatharian alone.
"Greetings, may I sit with you the rest of the crowd don't seem quite as...appealing.”
Suddenly the Ice Mage held the sneer from her face, her features transforming in an eyeblink at something the newcomer had said. A kind, welcoming face greeted Takra as Crystal motioned towards an empty chair.
"Ah, of course; feel free to sit down. I understand your feelings. Don't worry, the men have learnt not to try anything around me." The mage remarked off-handedly, swishing her liqour around her mug experimentally. The mage's eyes locked with Takra's suddenly.
"In fact," the mage's eyes suddenly glimmered dangerously, but not intimidatingly, "if any of them give you any trouble, I'll take care of it. Just point them to me. Now if that bartender's free round of drinks for finding a seat include one for myself, then I'd be appreciative if you sat down before I finish my own."
Having finished her friendly advice, the mage returned to staring at the remarkably pure alcohol in her cup, delicately sipping it even as she examined a pale-skinned hand of her own, the skin a mark of her Valsavatharian heritage, briefly wondering what it would be like to live with less than five fingers, a punishment she had inflicted before.
Posted on 2011-04-28 at 10:12:30.
Edited on 2011-04-28 at 10:13:30 by Celtia
After muttering a quick apology to the newcomer took a quick look around at the escape points, more out of habit than anything else. Taking another moment to look around he noticed that the newcomer who was now seated at a table a few feet away, elven, obviously, was rather pretty. He shook this from his mind. Those who use looks to divert your attention can be the most deadly. Lesson no 1. He scanned the room for any other tables that were free. He noticed a very large man with several weapons slung across his back. Lantaris wondered what was so inportant about him that he needed two such large weapons. Maybe I can learn something about why there are so many solders gathered here. He gulps slightly, not being so accustomed to diplomatic conversation. The only conversations he had ever had either was with his masters or with his fists, or both. No point standing here all day as he moved closer to the stranger.
"he-he-hello, errr nice day. Ummm a-are those s-seats taken?" he stuttered to the stranger
Takra took the seat opposite the pale human, suddenly feeling a shiver crawl down her spine something wasn't quite right, but she happily took the seat and protection from the mage. Noticing the alcohol in the mages drink, she thought to herself what this strange liquid must taste like, she had never encountered alcohol in her village as no one there had ever drunk the clear potent liquid, her father always talked to her about it warning her that it dulls your senses and addles your thoughts.
Gathering her wits Takra replied to her new companion “I do hope we get the free drink I am parched, my name is Takra from a small village in Sena may enquire as your name and where your from, I am most intrigued by the symbol emblazoned on your staff.” She sat there waiting for the reply from the cold, hard, pale, woman.
The tall man looks up at Lantaris, in the sense that his head moves and closed eyes meet yours.
"I do not require the seat for my prayers, however until they are completed I must remain alone."
Closer examination of this person reveals a rune, crafted from a mix of silver and gold hanging from a pendant around the stranger's neck...the rune of Arcus.
Crystal Ha-Wait, do we have to start each post with our names?
Crystal smirked at the elf, her short-lived friendliness dissapating as quickly as it had arrived.
"Takra? Takra the elf. Well, no surprise you're from a small Senan village. I was under the impression ALL villages in Sena are small." The human coldly stated, taking yet another sip of her drink, "Since you're asking, I'm from Valsavathar. The ice lands to the North-West of your home, in case you don't know, elf."
Another delicate sip of the drink.
"The symbol clasped to the front of my clothes and emblazoned on my staff is the symbol of the Green Circle. You may have heard of the Green Circle as among the most powerful mages for leagues, certainly able to best either of your Senan Orange or Magenta Magic Circles." Was Crystal's rude reply.
Another sip of her drink, and she continued.
"Weather and Nature magics. Pah. I hate being seen as a mage, I wouldn't ever wear my robe or this ugly symbol if I wasn't ordered. I'm a Warmage, with talents in Ice Magic."
Yet another sip of her drink, and the mage sat back, head turning to see the other newcomer heading towards the other table.
"Crystal Hardwood, by the way. My name. Remember it, I don't have the patience to tell people twice. Don't believe the rumors; you'll find me a warm, kindly soul after I've had another drink. Perhaps."
Posted on 2011-04-29 at 07:42:08.
Edited on 2011-04-29 at 07:44:07 by Celtia
Takra Elmheart... It seems right to post her name however you dont all have to follow suit
Takra studied the ice mage, noticing her cold hard stares and cold blunt tone of voice, she felt at great unease as Takra was a loner even at the start of her life when the market was busy and the shouts of traders. Takra much preferred a quiet gentle day in the wood by herself practicing her earth-bending powers, and skills with a bow.
She listened to the hard mage taking offence at her slating of the orange circle in Sena, this was the only magic circle she had heard of and knew them to hold great power, however according to this new source, they were weak in comparison.
“As a mage of power myself I do not take your slander to the orange circle well, but no doubt that is what your remark was aimed to do. As for your niceties I am not surprised for your social ineptness as from the little I have read of valsavathar, it is a cold hard land with little or no culture and where barbarism is favoured of intellectual prowess. So I put it to you … friend that perhaps you should leave your prejudice behind and I'll leave mine as I see no reason why either of us can't get along even if it is only for the next couple of hours, I am interested in you but make no mistake I am not liking you so far”
After Takra had finished her rant she was flushed red in anger, she may be an expatriate of Sena but she was very proud to be Senarian and very proud of her magic, she also hated bullies and thugs which is much what Crystal was portraying herself as.
Her adrenaline subsided and noticed the man being simply rejected by the man with the big swords and heavy armour, now he looked around dumbly. Takra called to him, something telling her that he was different than a usual male thug, this one was either to stupid or too clever to be one of them.
“Hey, come come there is a seat free on our table, I still want a proper apology for barging through the door and causing me to fall.”
“Where's that Barman, and that free drink you mentioned, I am parched.”
Takra was enjoying herself she had been overcome with self-confidence after her rant to the mage. Then she got a sinking feeling realising,that a fair payload was about to be paid back to her.
Posted on 2011-04-29 at 09:22:07.
Edited on 2011-04-29 at 09:27:06 by The_Haruspex
Lantaris turns to survey the space behind him even as his sudden movement sends him stumbling into a stranger, his armoured frame covered in buckles and straps supporting the elf's bulky pack and overlarge, masterfully crafted, crossbow.
Cursing, although not at you, the stranger rights himself, an amicable grin crossing his features.
"Steady on there, squire. You almost had yourself over then."
Hearing the newcomer's voice the inn keeper looks up, his expression hardening as he sees the elf.
"No more patrons, this inn is full."
His smile dissapearing into an expression of comic melancholy, the elf scuffs a boot against the dirty floorboards and looks down.
"Surley there's room for one more poor elf, unless you're adverse to Orsal's coin."
The barkeep grits his teeth, about to reply when another figure stepps between him and the elf, a tight grey cloak wrapped about his frame and lank black hair hiding most of his features.
"Come now sirs, surley this matter is not so great as to disturb all of us other drinkers...surley you have a salon or some kind of private bar whose doors this good elf's coin could open?"
At the mention of the salon, the bar goes quiet, three dozen soldiers in various stages of soberity staring at the now sweating barkeep.
"Well...now you mention it, I do have a small room for paying guests. Officers only, of course."
A groan resounds across the room as the soldiers slump back into their seats, the drunker ones checking sleeves and collars in case they had, by chance, been promoted over the course of the afternoon.
A smile playing across his features, the robed stranger motions Lantaris and the other elf to the counter, before striding to Takra and Crystal's table, leaning indiscreetly over with a cough to catch their attention.
"Perhaps you ladies might wish to accompany me to the salon...I expect you can pass this one off as your apprentice, Journeymage."
Back at the bar the elf stepps up, rumaging around his harnesses until he produces a small leather pouch, shaking a few large coins out onto his palm as well as a single jagged shard of what seems to be glass. With a casual gesture, he flicks the coins onto the counter the glass and pouch dissapearing back into his maze of belts.
"My new friend here and I would like to peruse your salon..." He turns to you, still grinning, "the name's Rege,' by the way, Mad Rege'."
Lantaris heard the female elf from before call out for a propper appology. Well, he thought, if you wanted a proper appology, maybe you could have let me finish appologising before you ran off with some stranger. Suddenly he hit somthing hard behind him as he turns.
"oww" he said as his back hit some hard metal armor.
"Steady on there, squire. You almost had yourself over then." said the stranger wearing the armor. Suddenly the bartender seemed much less welcoming. He suddenly saw a darkly robed figure come in and stop the any fights from breaking out. He studdied the stranger. He invited Lantaris to the salon allong with the female elf and the other sitting with her.
"um, hello. Thankyou but is there any reason why you singled me and, errr, these two out?" noding at the other two. "I do believe I have never met any of you before. Is there any perticular reason you wish to talk to me?"
As Takra finished her calls, an icy silence fell on the table. Crystal did not look up from her cup, merely taking another sip. As the elf's burst of confidence fell after calling out to the other, stuttering, elf, Crystal's eyes finally looked up, a cold, emotionless stare at Takra.
Then...a smile. Not one with much warmth within, true, but a smile. One that showed off an impressive array of teeth.
"Hah. So you were a mage after all. Interesting... Well, Takra, you make a fair point, and you're more direct than many elves I've seen. Maybe you'll be one of those to survive this war, when it actually happens."
A glimmer passed across the human's eyes in a heartbeat... Crystal's eyes widened, before being shut an instant later, held down by a frown caused by a sudden contraction in her face, as if resisting some unbearable pain, or at least a particularly sour taste. For a second it seemed as if the Valsavatharian was to either yell or gasp as she hunched down, before suddenly instead throwing her head back, quickly swallowing two large mouthfuls of her drink, finally finishing it, bringing the cup down with a 'bang' on the wood.
"Yes...yes..." Crystal spoke slowly, her words slightly slurred, eyes half-lidded as if not concentrating, as if on some other level, some memory or thought that was taking all of her attention. Her eyes opened once more when she heard a new voice directed at her.
"-ladies might wish to accompany me to the salon...I expect you can pass this one off as your apprentice, Journeymage."
Crystal looked up at the male, eyes widened in surprise more than anything else now, whatever phase the mage was in passed. Looking around the Tavern full of off-duty soldiers, most of them drunk and yelling, Crystal stood up suddenly, her fur cloak draped over one arm, unworn, and her staff in the other. Her empty cup left abandoned on the table,
"Yes, I expect so. Thank you for such an offer...'Rege." Crstal's voice held the same apparent kindness that first greeted Takra, as if it came from a different person, almost.
"Ah, my apologies, madam, I believe you mistake me for that elf by the counter..." The cloaked stranger gestures to Rege' and Lantaris who seem to be thrashing out some kind of bargain with the Barkeep.
"My name is Verkoth, now if you would follow me..."
Verkoth slides through the crowded room, slipping a few coins into the Barkeep's hand before leading you up a narrow staircase to a small room similar to the one you just exited save for the blinds on the windows and carpet on the floor.
"Oh, very classy...although worryingly remeniscent of a Vekth mausoleum." Rege' removes his pack, placing it delicatley on the table before taking a seat.
"Indeed." Verkoth murmurs as Lantaris, bringing up the rear, enters the room, a question on his lips.
"Thankyou but is there any reason why you singled me and, errr, these two out?" noding at the other two. "I do believe I have never met any of you before. Is there any perticular reason you wish to talk to me?"
"Well..." Verkoth strides to the door, muttering under his breath before the lock clicks into place and a thin cloack of fog cloacks the windows. "Now that we can speak in private I shall speak plainly. I am Verkoth a section commander in Orsal's counter-espionage branch. We have been tracking a man known as Kravos Al'Ral, from the distant land of Sulthein, after his arrival in Orsal via the underway. We believe him to be something of a 'Free Agent' willing to sell intelligene to both the Celian empire and League Entire...he is in this city and will, doubtlessly, attempt to spy on the council of war being held later today. I was given the liberty of organising a response to this in any way I deemed necessary, which is why I have chosen you. Two mages and a clearly dexterous fighter. As for you...Regarial, I believe you entered Orsal on the same caravan that Al'Ral did."
The elf stiffens at his full name, before shrugging and letting his shoulders slump.
"Alright then, I'm in, if I have a choice in the matter, as for the rest of you I don't know."
"I see, well my name is Lantaris. It seems that you need someone with some skill in perception. I would be most happy to accept this misson, but in return I would like some information concerning this seemingly escelating peaceful, at least for the moment, conflict." He sais.
He takes a seat and waits for someone else to discuss his terms.
As the rooms were sealed, the deal discussed, Crystal abandoned the comfortable seat that she had taken upon arrival only seconds earlier. Distractedly, she went over to a window, magic having formed an impenetrable fog within the glass that made her uneasy. She payed attention to mere snippets, most of her attention taken as she thought over something Verkoth had said that had caused her to stand and move so rapidly.
"-a section commander in Orsal's counter-espionage branch. We have been tracking a-"
Crystal closed her eyes, thinking deeply as various members of the strange crowd spoke. Finally that elf, the newcomer who had sat with the warrior beforehand, spoke his piece and a temporary break in the conversation was created.
Without turning around, Crystal spoke. She spoke too quietly to hear easily under normal circumstances, but a breeze suddenly swam around the room, carrying her voice well and appearing to emit from her own body, magically.
"Section-Commander. You may have to forgive me, but I fear such an endeavor holds little interest to me, and I am not going to submit to any office that does not include the Green Circle or the Valsavatharian military. I am a warmage, not a spy. More importantly; clearly you don't know who I am, for otherwise I doubt you'd place this trust with me."
Crystal spoke politely. Whether it was because of the status of whom she spoke to, or a continued apparent change of character, it was impossible to tell.
She was glad she'd had that drink, though. It made her feel safer than she had a right to be, being in a room with a Counter-Espionage Commander and several elven warriors or mages to some length or another. No confirmed member of a directly allied military in sight; who knows with these Espionage forces where they stand.
"This, after all, may be something you should have taken up with my superiors beforehand, perhaps? Warmages are not mercenaries to be hired. Now, may I leave this room, Section-Commander Verkoth? I believe I have had my fill of liquids and comfort for the day." Crystal finished, glad that the room had let her speak her piece. She turned from the window, looking directly yet expressionlessly at Verkoth.
Any 'investigative' or 'espionage' force only bring trouble, after all. They rarely find success, they're easy to deceive and are impossible to trust.