A Reflection In The Water
This is a storyline that took place in the Platinum Instance during 2018 - ONGOING. Official title is "A Reflection in the Water".
A Reflection in the Water
10 Charlatos: Near Solhaven, Charl's Quay
<2 weeks ago... A soft gurgle bubbled up from the young man as he fought not to choke on his own blood when yet another blow landed on his dislocated jaw, flinging spittle and more than a few teeth from his swollen mouth. A single, darkened green eye gazed upon him with disdain as he tried to force his eyes open enough to convey his plea for mercy, his jaw no longer functioning well enough to speak. Not a flicker of change in her expression to indicate an acknowledgement of his predicament came from the fiery woman standing on the bank of the Charl's Quay. How he wished he had not come across her path that day on the trail from Wehnimer's Landing. It seemed, however, this would be a short-lived day for him as he was fairly convinced this was to be his end at the hands of this angry red-head. ______________________________________________________ Anger, dark and fiery hot, coursed through every fiber of her body as she felt his hands come around her neck. She had passed him on the trail to Wehnimer's Landing and thought nothing of it – had even waved at him. She preferred to walk the trail rather than use the portals - they made her queasy and she despised using the magical means Jaired often employed to "fog" them to far off locations. It was a nice day and she enjoyed the scenery. Walking this path was something she tried to do daily. The quiet and isolation from the world helped her improve focus. Focus was something she fought hard for lately. His cry of surprise was muffled quickly as Leiana grasped his forearm where it wrapped over the juncture of her shoulder and neck, his fingers digging into her windpipe so that she gasped for air momentarily. Giving a heave of effort, she lifted the offender over her shoulder and slammed him into the ground before her, planting the narrow tip of her boot heel on his own windpipe as she stood staring at him with an angry, glittering gaze. Quite before she realized it, her heel was digging fully into the soft hollow of his throat. He clawed desperately at her calf and managed to land a solid blow on the back of her knee with his own as it lifted in desperation. Quite before she realized it, she had toppled next to him as her knee gave out. Her hand shot outward toward him to hover mere inches from his face, not touching him and yet her fingers clenched closed and he was without breath, choking and clawing at his throat while staring up at her in terror, uncomprehending of her power. And it felt good to her. So good that she was even smiling ever so slightly as she watched the skin turn blue and his eyes bulge when she twisted her wrist, increasing the magical grasp she had on his throat. For a moment, the urge inside her was free and unchecked - she was enjoying the feeling of being untethered from the rules. And then she saw the same fear in his eyes as she had seen on others' faces - those of her friends and people she had known her whole life. People now unable to comprehend what was happening to her and distrustful of her. Her hand dropped and her fingers relaxed, releasing him to gasp and choke, gagging and coughing up blood as he cowered next to her. Slowly she stood and reaching down, grasped him by the arm to drag him to his feet. A few quick movements and he was bound at the wrists, stumbling along in front of her as she encouraged him with brief pushes of her will behind him - hand extended as the air seemed to obey her commands, shoving him along as they made their way back toward Solhaven. She wasn't sure where that would take them until they ended up at Charl's Quay, standing on the beach as he sobbed for her to let him go. Offering all manner of gems, treasures, and loot in order to sway her from deciding his fate this day. There rested the golden cage that she would place her new found toy within. It had once held a great man, one whom she felt was family - a man whom everything had been taken from, including his life. Today it would hold this deviant instead - be used for what cages truly were meant to do. And so in he went, the doors locked behind him as she shoved it into the water and watched it begin to sink. The water was just short of being enough to take away his life - for now. Soon the tide would come in and he would find no comfort from it, just as Izaar had found no comfort when his life had been taken at the snap of a hand around his throat. She'd found no comfort when everyone else moved on after his memory was gone from the Landing. This was a way to find comfort now. As she bent to take the chain for the cage from the water's edge, she caught sight of her reflection on the surface. The sludge, that dirt that had covered everything when Izaar died was spreading. It was all over her now. And she smiled.
10 Charlatos: Near Solhaven, Charl's Quay
The woman Daena spied from her hiding place amongst a pile of driftwood on the beach of Charl's Quay did not resemble the friendly, but spirited young woman she had become acquainted with. No, the woman she saw shove the battered captive into a golden cage did not appear friendly at all. Daena couldn't help but utter a small gasp as Leiana shoved the cage into the water with the helpless man bound within. She watched as Leiana smiled and walked away from the cage ignoring the man's muffled cries. Daena wasn't quite sure what to make of what she had just witnessed. She didn't know what Leiana's intentions were, but Daena seriously doubted she planned on returning before the tide came in and the bound man drowned. Should she tell someone what Leiana had done? Who would believe that Leiana, heroine of Wehnimer's Landing, could possibly be cold blooded murderer? Not anyone she could think of and there was no telling what her husband would do to the person spreading such vile rumors about his newly wed bride. There was one person that might believe her, but she was wary to place herself in a position that might leave her vulnerable to the machinations of Lord Whick. She was keenly aware of just how tenuous her situation currently was and wanted nothing more than to run away again, as she felt her newfound freedom was very quickly evaporating for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. She wanted to believe in the best of the young woman that had welcomed her into the community of Wehnimer's Landing and that the bound man was a bad person, but why not simply hand him over to the authorities if that were the case. As far as Daena was able to surmise, Leiana intended an agonizing and slow death for the man that was still crying piteously through his gag. Daena dearly wished she had not chosen to follow Leiana as she guided her charge down to Charl's Quay and had instead listened to her gut which had told her to keep her head down and keep foraging for herbs as if everything was right with the world. Feeling rather helpless, Daena opted to ignore the pleas coming from the cage in the bay and do nothing; just as the gods were want to do.
>1 week ago... “Alright!” Jaired exclaimed as he stretched his arms high over his head, the bones of his spine giving off a satisfying crack as he leaned from side to side, “Time to see what you’ve learned!” Leiana drew in a long breath as she began to focus on the very air around her, reveling in the growing sensation as it began to swirl and eddy at her feet. Dirt, grass, and stone began to tumble and fly in a spiraling motion as she settled her attention on Jaired. She was determined to get him this time. He threw his hand towards her and let one of his daggers fly, the rapidly twirling edge glinting wildly in the light as it quickly closed in on her. His aim was center of mass and if she didn’t do something it wasn’t going to miss. Leiana swiped an arm in the air before her and willed a sudden gust to send the dagger off course. Instinctively she waved her other arm to push away the second dagger that followed directly behind the first. There was ALWAYS a second dagger. Leiana responded with a sudden, tunneling gust of force towards Jaired as he began to sprint in a counter-clockwise, circling approach. She grit her teeth as she tried to pivot while simultaneously forcing the momentum of the gale at her control. Almost… almost… Jaired seemingly disappeared into a plume of dust as he slid to the rocky ground with a wild sweeping motion of his legs. The tunnel of wind blew past him as Leiana tried to correct and force it back in the opposite direction, but it had a mind of its own and simply carried on until she released her grasp of it. “You have to focus, Leiana,” Jaired droned as he rose back to his feet, batting at the spectral cloth of his longcoat to knock the debris from it, “Hit me where I’m going to be, not where I am. This mission we agreed to is a trap, remember. We won’t be able to trust our eyes.” A snarl and a sudden volley of air was her response, forcing him to dodge to the side and dip low, extending his left leg so that he all but slid beneath the barrage of air she was sending at him. “Who cares what the trap is?!” she snapped at him, moving quickly to the side and attempting to catch him on his way to a standing position with a clip to the back of his leg. She almost had him, her speed having increased quite a bit over the last few months of training. Yet he evaded her, his experience and uncanny ability to see her next move aggravating her further as she missed. Standing, he chuckled softly and stood there panting, eyeing her with that unnervingly calm blue gaze. “Love…” he said sincerely, placing a hand on her shoulder with an arm that crossed between their bodies, “You have incredible power…” But… Leiana saw right through the gesture and reached up to grasp at his wrist, turning away upon her heel as her other palm came up to slam into the back of his elbow and send him lurching towards the ground. He rolled with it, tangling her ankle between his boots as they both fell into a tumble. They exchanged a rapid series of punches and blocks while transitioning from grapples and breaks as they wrestled for control. Eventually she forced her palm into his abdomen and unleashed another tunneling gust of wind that sent him spiraling upward into the air and then summarily onto the ground a few feet away. She didn’t remember getting back to her feet, but she was already alive with static that rushed over her skin. Even some of the curls of her ponytail were pulling free and lifting into the air. “Now now, Leiana…” Jaired cautioned as he shuffled backwards on the ground, “Think about this a moment…” Leiana didn’t hear him as she wasn’t listening at the moment. A single of arc of lightning lurched downward in a blinding flash and an instant crack of deafening thunder. As the rain of debris and dust cleared, the only thing she saw where Jaired had been was a cinder filled, blackened crater. She’d finally gotten him. Finally! She let out a loud cackle of victorious laughter, pointing at the crater and declaring, “Think about that!” After a while her laughter began to catch a bit in her chest as she realized she was all alone. Wait. Did she really get him? Leiana began looking frantically every which way, all but calling out for him because there was still a small part of her that figured this was all one of his many ruses, even if that part of her was beginning to dwindle with each passing moment. Fog began to slowly fill the area and she let out an exasperated breath that tossed at some of the curls pasted across her forehead. Yep. Time for teacher to show off and spout lame teacher stuff. She loathed this part, but, she knew he liked it. She’d play along for now. “You still lack discipline,” he said from somewhere behind the veil of the fog. Leiana mouthed along with every word with a sarcastic tilt of her head at each syllable. “And insight, master?” she jabbed while slowly turning about, her eyes darting to and fro in a predatory fashion. “As long as you let your emotions control you,” he continued, his voice carrying from a different direction, “Others will always be able to.” “Like who?” she questioned with a seething breath, her eyes shooting upwards suddenly at the rapidly descending silhouette of Jaired. Without even thinking her hands clapped together around the edge of the greatsword Jaired was making a very convincing attempt at introducing to her face. Her feet dug into the earth as she absorbed the force of the attack into her entire body. Every fiber of every muscle shook as she fought against the downward force being pressed against her. It wasn’t lost on her, either. Jaired never used a weapon such as this one but she knew someone that did. A smile started to curl at her lips as she felt the momentum of the battle shift in her favor. With a twist of her hands she snapped the blade from his hands and tossed it aside. “Someone like you?” she questioned, no… she accused. Her eyes met his, searching, but all she saw was that perpetual calm. “Yeah…” he admitted as he stepped back and all but disappeared into the fog. Leiana seethed as she summoned a wild tempest to make short work of the fog, nearly grinding her teeth smooth as she turned about within the reckless onslaught of power. Slowly, though, she drew it closer to herself and began to compress it down and infuse it with each breath. >Hit me where I’m going to be. She reached back suddenly in a blind grasp, gathering the material of Jaired’s collar into her hands as she rapidly turned to face him with a forceful pull. Staring into his eyes she didn’t see what she expected. It wasn’t fear. It wasn’t surprise. He looked… proud. Then he tried to stab her with a knife. Leiana turned and with every ounce of strength and rage she had, threw him over her shoulder like someone would a ball. He always did want to fly, and if she didn’t know better she would have sworn he was laughing. No. She knew better. He was definitely laughing. Jaired definitely landed badly, though, and as he hit the ground he fell into an uncontrolled and violent tumble. Anger turned into instant concern as Leiana clasped a hand over her mouth while uttering a few unspeakables before running after her husband. “Jaired!” she yelled as she slid down to her knees to catch him into her arms. “H… hey…” he uttered weakly as he gazed up at her. “Oh baby… I’m, sorry, I got carried awa- “Shh… it’s okay… listen…” he rasped, gesturing for her to get closer. “Yes, what is it?” Leiana asked, leaning in and pressing her forehead against his. “See you at the altar…” Leiana’s heart stopped a beat as she looked him over, only catching the scale-covered coffer he was grasping upon his chest at the last moment. Their eyes met and in that instant the only thing she felt was affirmation of what she already knew. Then Jaired opened the box. This was love.
>1 Day Ago... Jaired crouched in the shadow offered by the corner of the wall. A thin length of string dangled between his fingertips as he waited, careful not to let out too long or too loud of a breath as he lingered. Down the long hallway of the manor waited their goal, and outside of it stood a pair of guards. The hour was sometime between midnight and dawn, yet somehow these two men remained surprisingly alert. They were well trained and without doubt worth every silver. Leiana’s hand tapped his shoulder silently and he gave another barely perceptible shake of his head. No, it still wasn’t time. She was crouched behind him and their bodies were leaned against one another, and he could literally sense how impatient and uncomfortable she was getting. So far everything was going exactly as planned. “No cuts, no bruises, no trace…” Jaired repeated in a whisper, smearing black ash across the top half of his face above the black wrapping of fabric that concealed the rest. Leiana gave him a nod and reached over to cover up a spot that he missed. “Your skin is already black, you know,” she teased while she closed her eyes, letting him apply a similar treatment to her face as her nose scrunched up at the odd sensation of the ash. “It’s also shiny and pretty,” he explained with a wink, fastidiously making sure each and every one of her curls is tucked away under her black wrap, “loves to reflect candlelight.” “Light of my life.” One of the guards glanced aside to the other and gave his shoulder a shrug. He was given a nod of understanding and began to walk down the hallway. Everyone has to use the latrine eventually. Jaired and Leiana both closed their eyes and held their breath as he walked by and around the corner. As the mercenary departed around another corner, Jaired began quickly winding the length of string around his wrist until it grew taut. The markings around his eyes began to ebb subtly and he pulled tight. A sudden shattering of sound erupted from somewhere within the manor, followed by a surprised shout. Jaired kept winding the string around his forearm as the second guard hesitated for a moment, and then charged down the hallway and past them both. “The Onarian has been casing the Manor for the last week, he’s figured out the guard patterns and found us a surefire way in,” Jaired said as he looked down over a carefully sketched out map of a building. “Sure is useful having a ghost for a scout,” Leiana said with a nod, looking over the map and burning it into her mind because it’d be burnt the moment they were finished, “Why don’t we just go in through her window or something?” “Wards are on the windows. They’re expecting us to do something,” Jaired droned, “They’re trying to catch us, mainly you, in a trap.” “We could just rush the place and make a mess,” Leiana teased, “Like we originally planned, remember? Set off the trap in a blaze of glory?” Jaired chuckled and gave his head a nod as he gazed across the table at her. The Muse lurched slightly upon the waves of the bay as the ship settled up against the dock. “I’d love to do that more than anything,” Jaired responded. “But…” they both said in unison. As the second guard rushed by and around the corner, Leiana gave Jaired’s shoulder two quick taps. In unison they rushed down the hallway upon padded feet. Jaired was already preparing the spell to magically disarm the door as they approached, it gave off a deep thrum of sound and he lifted a golden key from his hipsack. It flashed with light as he inserted it into the door and the teeth magically realigned themselves into a perfect fit. With a twist of his wrist and a click of affirmation, he silently opened the door and let Leiana scramble in under his arm and he pivoted in directly behind her. Once they were inside Jaired leaned back against the door with just enough pressure to let it close while reaching up to turn the locking mechanism back into place. Upon the fanciful four posted bed was a pair of slumbering individuals, and in the far corner of the room was a crystal orb resting upon a pedestal. Jaired took the free end of the string, tied a square of fabric upon a corner, and offered it over Leiana’s shoulder as he fell to a crouch behind her. Her eyes took on a determined glare as she summoned her abilities. The fabric lifted upwards and then began to move swiftly and silently across the room, she dangled it precariously for a moment just to make sure it was positioned just so and then let it drop to drape over the magical device. “I’ll disguise myself as the help while they’re bringing in supplies,” Jaired explained, “Once I’m inside I’ll hide away in the cellar until a couple hours past midnight.” “Won’t they notice more help came in than went out?” Leiana asked, pursing her lips as she took in the sketched layout of the cellar. “One of the sacks I’m bringing in has someone dressed like me in it that’ll be walking out.” “Someone we can trust?” “Absolutely.” “And then you just let me in?” “More or less.” It was time. Jaired silently uttered a spell and cast it upon the slumbering form on the left, watching as one of the spells upon them dissipated. He drew in another silent breath and tried again. Leiana grinned slightly to herself each and every time the wrong spell vanished. How many wards did this woman go to bed with every night? She almost felt flattered. On the sixth or seventh attempt the Cloak of Shadows drifted upwards and away from the slowly stirring form beneath the covers. Leiana pulled a small black pillow from her satchel and waited as Jaired closed his eyes and began to concentrate. The ash around his eyes blocked the glowing veins of light that would have otherwise revealed them as he gave her shoulder a single tap. Summoning her powers once more she released the pillow and let it drift across the room towards the sleeping woman on the left. With a slow, slow breath Leiana pressed the pillow gently over the woman’s mouth and nose… and waited. Against every natural urge in her body she waited, and if it were not for the calm and gentle grip of Jaired’s hand around her shoulder she probably would have just snapped that neck in two and been done with it. “Suffocation?” Leiana asked, incredulous. “No cuts, no bruises, no trace,” Jaired explained with a nod. “Then the rest is left to him.” This was the hard part. Leiana kept the pillow pressed firm but not too firm, careful not to rouse the woman as she occasionally did toss in annoyance, but the fabric had been treated with a liquid that only deepened the woman’s slumber and would evaporate in minutes once exposed to the air. The victim’s hands wandered time and time again towards her face as her head slowly rocked side to side, but there was nothing to brush away except air. The woman’s end was coming near as her body clenched and bucked subtly beneath the covers, her lungs choking on their own stale air as Leiana bit down on her lower lip and kept her eyes narrowed in absolute concentration. She reveled in the sensation of the woman’s heart slowing with each agonizing moment and thrilled as it finally went still. She rapidly withdrew the pillow and gave the back of Jaired’s hand a pat. His eyes flung open and they strained as they were assaulted by the alien view of the room before him. He watched as the spirit of the woman slowly rose from her body and glanced around in confusion. Her wretched eyes locked onto his and while she lifted her ethereal hand to point, the hulking form of the Onarian burst forth from Jaired’s crouching form. Within the assassin’s grasp was a perfectly black blade that seemed to drip with shadows that fell like rapid droplets of ink. Droplets that fell too fast and fell too wrong. Before the spirit of the woman could release a wail, the blade was thrust through her chest and given a vicious twist. Her eyes flung open in a mixture of panic and confusion as her ghostly body struggled for the briefest of moments before slumping into his arms. “So what’s the catch?” Leiana asked, her brow arching as she glanced across the table towards Jaired in a seeking gaze. “Well…” he started. “Out with it.” “We’ll need to use magic to get out.” “I knew it,” she groaned. The ghost of the Onarian gave Jaired a nod and then simply leapt through the closed and warded window along with the woman’s spirit. Naturally they didn’t disturb a thing. Jaired squinted his eyes shut and then blinked them rapidly to readjust to the normal, non-spirit view of things. He made sure his grip around the string that still reached across towards the orb was tight, wrapped his other arm around Leiana’s waist, and uttered one last spell as their surroundings blurred. With that, they were transported instantly from the room string and cloth and all. No bruises, no cuts, and no trace. Come morning the news would begin to spread that during the night of Tilamaires on the 19th of Charlatos; Olivia Holster, Widow of Lord Eamon Murchadha, died peacefully in her sleep.
7 Koaratos: Solhaven, The Revelry
Lord Whick has gathered a group of individuals with allegiance towards a secret organization to help him with his latest plot. He has learned that Jaired and Leiana are in possession of a gem that contains the essence of Jeofrey, the former lich made into a golem. He hopes to steal the gem for this unnamed organization to further whatever purpose it exists to fulfill.
The band of theives travel to Wehnimer's Landing via the Chronomage Portals and infiltrate the Muse, Jaired and Leiana's boat. As they search the Muse for the gem, they activate some magical wards that alert Leiana to introduers on her boat. She hurries to the Muse and confronts the introduers, only to be overpowered by Whick and a sorcerer named Daeoas. While Leiana is being subdued by Whick and Daeoas, the gem is discovered on the collar of a cat living on the boat. Before they are able to recover the gem though, the cat vanishes into thin air as if it was a spirit.
In the process of subdueing her, Daeoas subjects Leiana to both physical and mental torture. He has her healed of any physical injuries to erase the evidence of such before fleeing with everyone else. To make good their escape, the group sets fire to Leiana's boat and force her to flee into Darkstone Bay. Whick intructs everyone to flee back to his boat in Solhaven and when they arrive, advises them all to lay low for a bit while he crafts a story to counter the truth that Leiana will tell.
7 Koaratos: Darkstone Bay, The Muse
Smoke drifted in through the porthole as she lay on her bed, exhaustion both mental and physical suffusing her bruised body. She tilted her head to gaze blearily out the small window to the sea and let out a soft sob, tears brimming to drift down her soot-smudged cheeks. They had come to pilfer the gem that held the remnants of Jeofrey's essence. Finding that more difficult than expected, they had tortured her to buy themselves time while they worked on retrieving it. They ransacked her things. They set her boat on fire. So she'd fled. The Landing had been a place of comfort for her since she was a child and now it was a place of uncertainty and fear. She'd lost things more important to her than she could bear to admit, and she'd found something she'd never known was possible; both in that place. And now she was fleeing it without a true understanding of where she was going or what she was going to do, only that she had to get away to survive. She could recall how they looked as they set her boat on fire while she stood on the bow - the smirk on Whick's face as he nodded to his crew and they left the docks, and her, to burn. "Them".. she thought bitterly to herself. Whick and that sorcerer, Daeoas - the two who had forced her to submit to their search of her boat by knocking her out and then subjecting her to the nightmare of burning alive. It didn't matter that she'd grown immune physically to the elemental magic cast by those who were skilled enough to wield it. This was mental torment - to relive what it felt to have flames licking at her skin, suffocating her, and the terror that it brought as she remembered sitting in that chair while Whick set her on fire. Krasus - the one healing her so that they could do it all over again. Ezabell - the one who joined Whick and the sorcerer to cast fire at her boat. Balatra - the one who had been standing on her deck as if it were her own when Leiana had arrived. They would pay. ALL of them would pay. For now, however, she was fleeing the town she had called home for so long and all that was in it. She hadn't even had time to alert Jaired. She'd just run.
8 Koaratos: Wehnimer's Landing, The Docks
"Whick, Daeoas, Krasus, Ezabell, and Balatra," Cat slowly repeated as Jaired crouched at the end of the dock where the Muse was at rest just the morning earlier. Five names. "Who was the target? Jeofrey or Leiana?" Jaired mused cooly. Despite it all there was a certain ease to the question that, if he were honest with himself, caught himself a bit off guard. He supposed when the same thing keeps happening you just get numb to it after a time... or maybe it was something else. "Knowing Whick? He never passes up an opportunity," Cat morosely lamented, his gaze downcast and distant. Jaired gave him a comforting scratch between his sagging ears. It wasn't Cat's fault, but the feline wasn't about to be receptive to the idea. "Mmm... gotta be careful, they're going to attempt to make this look like it was her doing. Fire and all," and indeed the smell of fire and ash was still on the air. He needed to get to her, but he also needed her to be as strong as he knew she could be for just a little longer, "I'm going to report the incident and name those involved and press formal charges." Cat let out a surprised 'mlep' of sound and turned abruptly to face Jaired, "What? Y... you can't be serious." "As I said, we have to be careful with these games," he lifted his gaze towards the horizon, somewhere out there his home and the love of his life was smoldering. "Oreena is practically in his palm!" Cat hissed with a confused, side-to-side flick of his head. "Or he is in hers," Jaired admitted, "They want us to look like monsters. They 'want' me to do what they expect it is that I'll do. What they expect 'us' to do." "That is what you SHOULD do!" Cat practically roared, "This is what happens when good does nothing!" "Hunting them down and killing them will only serve their agenda," Jaired slowly rose to a stand and brushed the ash from his knees. Cat was absolutely furious, his black fur bristling along his spine until he noticed Jaired's eyes and the subtle glow surrounding them. More than that he saw the pain. "This way Oreena is forced to address those that attacked us," Jaired continued as he turned to make his way to Moot Hall, "for the entire Landing to see. We can't execute our own justice this early on." Cat watched as Jaired walked away in an almost silent wonder. This early? He couldn't bring himself to follow, but chimed after him, "Then what!?" "We react," Jaired uttered quietly as the glow faded from around his eyes, "Tell Leiana I'm on my way... we'll need to limp the Muse to safer shores for now. I won't be long." Cat turned away with a spat and vanished. They could probably have just asked him for the damn shard, but he couldn't blame them for their short sightedness. Leiana and him could, and would, however... ultimately punish them for it. He just needed her to be strong for a little longer. So did he for that matter... as this was hardly the last storm they were going to have to weather, and he intended to weather them all.
8 Koaratos: Darkstone Bay, The Muse
Jaired let out a long, slow breath as he pulled back at the heavy oars. The small craft didn’t move fast but the Muse was still only adrift, so he’d catch up eventually. A thin, wispy trail of smoke blurred at some of the stars above to let him know his course. It gave him time to reflect, and usually that meant something or other was about to interrupt. “I’m proud of you…” a voice came from in front of him in the boat. See? Told you. “Are you?” Jaired droned, his words heavy with disbelief and a sprinkle of disdain, “Or would she have been?” Whatever this apparition was before him, it wasn’t actually his mother. He wasn’t a spirit walker anymore so it wouldn’t make sense that he’d be able to talk to her as he was anyway. Rather she was an echo or a reflection of herself. It probably wasn’t even really worth figuring out. “She is,” the voice of his mother retorted in a deliberate, matter-of-fact staccato, “I’m more of myself than you now realize.” “Stop,” Jaired coughed, his voice still raw from the earlier exchange in Moot Hall, “Lectures later, okay? This isn’t the time…” “It is always the time.” It was a good thing he was so intent on rowing that damn boat, because it kept the parts of him that wanted to lash out focused upon the task at hand. He had to get to her. It took killing a certain part inside of him to go to the Hall first instead of rushing to find his wife, but he needed to get to Oreena before ‘they’ did with whatever story they had in mind. He had grabbed a couple of dock workers to act as witnesses and made a proper scene in the Hall. Apparently their aggressors had been gallivanting around in plain sight and a bunch of people even saw them setting the Muse on fire. Having the advantage of the truth would be convenient. He wouldn’t have to convince anyone to lie for their sake. There wouldn’t be a story to keep straight when he kicked the door into Oreena’s office. The two guards outside were loyal but they were also smart. They’d get dressed down afterwards but they’d be alive. Jaired probably just looked like someone that wanted to talk anyway… and that is exactly what they did. They had a nice little talk. So nice and loud that a small crowd had begun to gather by the time it was over. He named those five names. Accused them of boarding his home to steal the shard of the golem Jeofrey, accused them of torturing his wife, and then accused them of setting fire to the Muse that was now adrift in Darkstone Bay. The pale faced dock workers nodded and chimed in when appropriate, but it was his final words to her that rang loudest. …… “Whick’s history with Leiana and myself is documented. Everyone knows what happened down in that torture chamber of his,” he slammed his gauntleted fist upon her desk as he seethed, “YOU lifted his banishment, and whether or not you knew what he was… I’m going to remind ALL of them!” The wide gesture he made implied that everyone was going to be talking about these events over breakfast for the days to come. It was in her court now. …… Now he was just rowing that boat. The smoke began to grow so dense across the night sky that he could begin to see its reflection upon the choppy waters as a flicker of light caught in the corner of his eye. He quickly swiveled in his seat to see a lantern being waved about followed by a distinct, ‘Ahoy!’ Jaired was helped aboard and quickly pushed his way through the circle of crewman that worriedly surrounded Leiana. He thought he’d grown numb to seeing her in pain. He was wrong. He was so, so wrong. “Damn it,” he roughly cursed as he dropped to his knees and pulled her into his arms. Why were they just letting her lay there like this? He knew why but that didn’t mean he had to be happy about it. Her unpatched eye rolled about for a while before blearily focusing on his gaze. “Hey,” she uttered through a muffled sob, shakily reaching a hand upwards to caress at his cheek. “Hey…” he responded in a whisper while pulling her close. The tarnished silver locket around his neck began to glow as a comforting, familiar sensation of warmth spread itself outward. Leiana’s gaze slowly drifted opposite of Jaired and went wide with wonder. He couldn’t see or hear any longer in this way but he had a real good idea. He’d chased that flame. “Mommy?” Yes… I’m right here, Pumpkin… He gave them a good long while but eventually she turned her attention back to Jaired and dragged the elephant right across the Muse’s charred deck. “What do we do now?” she asked. “We need you to be dead for a little while…”
22 Koaratos: Wehnimer's Landing, Mayor's Lounge
With the closing of the pocket realm hidden in the catacombs beneath Wehnimer's Landing, the town has been freed from the undead and peace restored for the time being. Oreena has taken the opportunity to delve deeper into the incident that occurred at the Wehnimer's Landing Docks. Supposedly, a group of individuals boarded the Delone's vessel, the Muse, and attacked Leiana in an attempt to recover a magical artifact.
Oreena has asked Leiana to give an accounting of the incident to Ignacio, the investigator that was hired by a private party to look into the incident. Leiana's husband, Jaired Delone, and her father, Sabrien, have accompanied her. Lilium, a Priestess of Lorminstra that serves at the Wehnimer's Landing Temple, is suprised to find the small group meeting inside a city she thought to still be overrun with undead. She is invited to stay and hear the sad sale of one of the landing's very own daughters.
With obvious emotion and reliving each painful memory, Leiana recounts her experience for those gathered to hear. The following is a transcript of Leiana's account given to Oreena and Igancio:
[Moot Hall, Mayor's Lounge] The cozy room is darkly lit with an overhead oil lamp. Several blue-cushioned divans surround a stone fireplace, which has a basket of sticks placed on the hearth. The eastern wall is completely concealed by an expensive mahogany bookcase, and pushed against the northern wall is a sleek cedar credenza. In one corner of the room, a silver winged-figure statue is surrounded by a woodland scenic, while in the opposing corner is a small wire wastebasket. Also here: Investigator Ignacio, Sabrien, Leiana (sitting), Jaired (sitting), Oreena Obvious exits: southwest You feel at full magical power again. Leiana nods at Ignacio. You serenely say, "I hope I am not intruding." Leiana says, "If you consider having my person attacked, my boat set on fire, and my things ransacked then yes." Leiana agrees, "It was very tragic indeed." You blink at Leiana. Oreena glances at you. Speaking to Leiana, Oreena asks, "Mrs. Delone, do you wish this person to stay?" Leiana waves to you. Leiana says, "Sure, the more the merrier. I think everyone should hear my story." Leiana leans back. Jaired agrees with Leiana. You serenely say, "I was scouting the town and surprised to sense the presence of others." Sabrien nods. Leiana rests a hand on Jaired's leg and takes a casual drink of her bourbon. Speaking to Leiana, Ignacio says, "Forgive us if we ask questions to which you think we have answers. We're trying to get down to the blood and bones of it, so to speak." You walk over to the divan and with a satisfying sigh, throw yourself down upon its soft cushions. Speaking to you, Oreena says, "Oh well, the Landing was freed of the undead scourge infecting its streets. A brave group of adventurers assisted in relieving us of that issue." Oreena says, "Mister Delone was one of them." You nod at Oreena. Oreena smiles at Jaired. You serenely say, "Lorminstra be praised." Speaking to Oreena, Jaired says, "So was Misses Delone." You nod at Jaired. You nod at Leiana. Oreena smiles at Jaired. Speaking pleasedly to Leiana, Oreena says, "I had heard rumors of the figure in the sky." Leiana shifts her weight. Leiana nods slightly. Leiana defensively says, "I was asked to assist." Ignacio clears his throat. The scents of fresh paint and fur fade into memory as Vyrshkana wanders off to hide her recent acquisitions. Oreena says, "Well thank you for your assistance in our time of need." Leiana smiles tightly. Leiana says, "Yes, so then perhaps you can assist me in my time of need now." Oreena surreptitiously glances at Ignacio. Oreena slowly admits, "We have heard quite the tale, Mrs. Delone.." Oreena says, "We hope you can elaborate and clear up some details for us." Leiana takes a drink from her oak-aged bourbon. Leiana looks quite relaxed. Leiana glances at her empty hand and sighs. Speaking to Leiana, Ignacio asks, "Can you tell us about when you first discovered others upon your boat?" Leiana says, "Yes, well the bourbon is gone so I suppose I can do that." Leiana nods at Ignacio. Leiana says, "I sure can." Leiana says, "I was here in the Landing to visit my father and assist at the Inn." Leiana says, "It was getting into the later part of the afternoon and the magical seals on my boat alerted me to the presence of intruders." Ignacio leans forward. Leiana says, "When I arrived, there were two people on the deck of the Muse, uninvited." Oreena asks, "Did you recognize them?" Leiana says, "One, yes." Leiana says, "The other I heard the name of when they spoke to each other." Ignacio says, "Please give us their names, if you would." Leiana says, "Balatra and Daeoas." Ignacio cocks his head. Ignacio asks, "And what happened after you spotted them?" Leiana says, "I asked them why they were on my boat. They tried to say that they had an invitation, but I knew that wasn't true because neither Jaired nor I had invited anyone." Jaired nods. Leiana says, "I told them they were to leave right then and there." Ignacio nods understandingly. Ignacio asks, "I'm guessing they refused?" Leiana says, "They refused, tried to make excuses and I felt they were borrowing time because I could hear noises downstairs." Oreena asks, "And then what happened?" Leiana shifts her weight. Your eonake-capped pinecone flickers various shades of blue. Leiana clears her throat. Ignacio says, "I understand telling this tale must be very... difficult." Leiana says, "Well, I made it known that I meant business." Oreena smiles at Leiana. Ignacio asks, "In what way?" Leiana quietly admits, "I used my mind." Speaking to Leiana, Oreena asks, "Could you elaborate, Mrs. Delone?" Leiana surreptitiously glances at Jaired. Ignacio nods in agreement. Speaking to Leiana, Ignacio asks, "Cigar help you relax?" Jaired leans softly against Leiana. Leiana flushes slightly, some color reaching her cheeks. Leiana says, "I'm fine, thanks." Ignacio nods in agreement. Ignacio asks, "Mind if I have one then?" Leiana says, "I don't mind, no." Ignacio removes a long and fat cigar from in his cedar box. Oreena glances at Ignacio. You cough. Ignacio raises an eyebrow in Oreena's direction. Speaking to Leiana, Oreena encourages, "Do continue." Speaking suggestively to Ignacio, you say, "Perhaps you might refrain for now." Ignacio removes a match from in his cedar box. Ignacio lights a match by flicking it against his thumb. Ignacio inhales deeply on his cigar as he lights it. The area fills with a dark coffee smoke. You stare sternly down your nose at Ignacio. You see a burning match being waved around. The burning match goes out, disappearing in a small puff of smoke. Ignacio smiles at you. Leiana continues, "Well I forced them down by sending a wave of energy outward toward them. It lasted a few moments, and then they stood up and tried to make more excuses." Leiana states, "At which point, I yelled at them to get off of my boat. And.. well they didn't, so I.." Leiana says, "Well I projected them off." Curls of cigar smoke linger about Ignacio in a dark coffee scented haze. Leiana clears her throat. Ignacio appears to be struggling to keep a straight face. Jaired hums a seemingly random tune. Leiana hastily says, "There was no real damage." Sabrien inclines his ear, listening intently. Ignacio says, "Forgive my unprofessionalism just... a bit of amusing imagery." Leiana explains, "Just a bit of dishevelment and angry on their part, perhaps." Leiana says, "But it got my point across." Oreena nods slightly. Oreena says, "I imagine it did." A draft of wind swirls the cigar smoke around Ignacio. Ignacio asks, "Based on the events given, however, I'm guessing that wasn't the end of things?" Ignacio puffs slowly from his cigar. Leiana glances at a sleek cedar credenza. Exhaling slowly, Ignacio sends a stream of smoke into the air to pool around him in a heady cloud. Leiana asks, "Mind if I have a whiskey?" Lilium smiles thinly at Ignacio, bearing her canines. Oreena says, "Yes, of course you can." Oreena pours herself a glass of single malt whiskey. Oreena offers Leiana a glass of single malt whiskey. Oreena just went over and threw herself down on the divan. Leiana accepts Oreena's single malt whiskey. A light breeze cuts a swath through the cigar smoke around Ignacio, making it eddy and whirl. Leiana gratefully says, "Thanks." Leiana takes a drink from her single malt whiskey. Lines of worry smooth, and she visibly relaxes. Leiana looks quite relaxed. Speaking to you, Ignacio says, "Sorry but... there are other places you could be if you're at odds. This is, after all, an interview for Mrs. Delone." Leiana glances at a glass of single malt whiskey in her hand. Ignacio smiles at you. Speaking appreciatively to Oreena, Leiana says, "This is nice." Oreena agrees with Leiana. Oreena nods. Oreena says, "Please, take your time but do continue." Leiana nods slightly. Speaking to Ignacio, Leiana responds, "No, it wasn't the end of it because it never is, is it?" Leaning back, Ignacio squints his eyes against the curtain of smoke the cigar is forming around him. Leiana makes a face and sighs. Speaking to Leiana, Ignacio says, "Seems that was, Mrs. Delone. Seems that way..." Leiana continues, "So as I'm trying to get them off my boat, I hear the voice of another person, a young Aeolotian girl called Ezabell." Moving his left hand around idly, Ignacio leaves a wavy line of dark coffee scented smoke in the air. Leiana says, "She's on the dock, yelling back at me that she's not on my boat and is everything okay." Ignacio nods encouragingly. Leiana says, "I said no its' not okay and at about that time, things took a turn." Leiana irritatedly sighs, "Whick showed up." Oreena frowns. Curls of cigar smoke linger about Ignacio in a dark coffee scented haze. Ignacio asks, "Do you recall where he arrived from?" Leiana says, "He was hiding like the snake he is." Leiana says, "I saw him in the shadows and knew he'd snuck on. I called him out of the shadows and yelled at him about him and his friends ransacking my boat." Curls of cigar smoke linger about Ignacio in a dark coffee scented haze. Speaking to Leiana, Oreena asks, "Oh so Balatra and Daeoas were tearing up things when you found them?" Leiana slowly says, "Well.. no." Leiana takes a drink from her single malt whiskey. She emits a deep, contented sigh. Leiana looks quite relaxed. Oreena raises an eyebrow in Leiana's direction. Leiana slowly empties her lungs. Leiana quietly mutters, "It was Cat that told me." Oreena surreptitiously glances at Ignacio. Dark coffee smoke curls up from the cigar in Ignacio's hand. Ignacio remarks, "It's real. And yes, it talks." Leiana nods once at Ignacio. Jaired agrees with Ignacio. Oreena dubiously says, "So you say." Leiana repeats, "He is real and yes, he talks. He's a spirit cat." Oreena gazes with interest at Leiana. Dark coffee smoke curls up from the cigar in Ignacio's hand. Oreena curiously asks, "Had him long?" Leiana glances at Jaired. Leiana asks, "He's not mine?" Oreena chuckles. Oreena asks, "He's yours then?" Oreena cocks her head at Jaired. Leiana bites her lip. Speaking to Oreena, Jaired says, "He'd take offense to that." Ignacio's cigar begins to smoke badly. Ash build-up! Oreena chuckles. Ignacio taps his cigar, knocking a clump of ashes to the ground. Oreena says, "Duly noted." Speaking to Oreena, Jaired says, "He'd say that I was his." Oreena nods understandingly. Oreena says, "Indeed." Speaking to Leiana, Oreena asks, "So this Cat.. he told you about the ransacking?" Leiana nods at Oreena. Dark coffee smoke curls up from the cigar in Ignacio's hand. Leiana says, "He said they were downstairs going through the storage." Leiana exclaims, "So when Whick was skulking around like the snake he is.. I accused him of it. And when he asked how I could possibly have come to that conclusion, I told him it was Cat!" Oreena leans back. Oreena says, "Perhaps I'll have a whiskey too." Oreena pours herself a glass of single malt whiskey. Jaired grins slowly. Oreena takes a drink from her single malt whiskey. She emits a deep, contented sigh. Leiana nods at Oreena. Curls of cigar smoke linger about Ignacio in a dark coffee scented haze. Leiana continues, "And so he got angry and starting being Whick and doing Whick things and then I used projection on him too and he put me to sleep." Oreena slowly repeats, "Doing Whick things." Leiana nods at Oreena. Ignacio holds up a hand. Oreena cocks her head at Ignacio. Ignacio says, "Would you explain what... "Whick things" are? For those of us not familiar with him." Leiana cocks her head at Ignacio. Dark coffee smoke curls up from the cigar in Ignacio's hand. Leiana nods and arranges her features skillfully to imitate that of Whick at his most pompous. Ignacio rolls his long and fat cigar between his thumb and index finger for a moment before puffing contentedly, sending dark coffee smoke into the air. Ignacio exhales some dark coffee scented smoke in a steady stream. Leiana mockingly says, "Now just calm down Leiana, you know this is for your own good. You don't need to get angry - we are here to help you." Leiana irritatedly says, "Blah blah blah, freakin blah." Oreena gets a blank look on her face. Curls of cigar smoke linger about Ignacio in a dark coffee scented haze. Jaired rubs Leiana tenderly. Ignacio glances inquiringly at Oreena. Oreena hides her amusement in her cup of whiskey. Leiana says, "And so yeah, I used projection on him cause he's an arse." Oreena clears her throat. Oreena says, "I see." Oreena nods at Leiana. Thin threads of smoke trail from the smoldering end of Ignacio's cigar. Ignacio says, "Alright then, nothing overly violent as of yet. Please continue." Oreena asks, "And then he put you to sleep, you said?" Leiana nods at Oreena. Leiana says, "He damned sure did." Jaired narrows his eyes. Leiana says, "And I was fighting it, you know, like really truly fighting it." A draft of wind swirls the cigar smoke around Ignacio. Leiana tears up slightly and clears her throat, taking a long drink. Jaired leans softly against Leiana. The powerful look leaves Leiana. Ignacio says, "Naturally." Leiana continues, "But he had someone else there, and they cast something that made me hurt." Ignacio cocks his head. Leiana says, "Every bone in my body hurt and I was suddenly terrified." Ignacio asks, "Do you know who that was?" Thin threads of smoke trail from the smoldering end of Ignacio's cigar. Oreena gazes with interest at Leiana. A faint hum, felt rather than heard, emanates from your illthorn crosier and is echoed from somewhere deep within your core. Leiana says, "Yeah it was that same guy from earlier - Daeoas." Ignacio nods understandingly. Leiana says, "At some point later, I finally fought it off, and when I came to, I saw him." Leiana bitterly adds, "Just before he did it again." Jaired glares. Leiana says, "And then I could hear them.. talking to each other." Leaning back, Ignacio squints his eyes against the curtain of smoke the cigar is forming around him. Ignacio asks, "Do you recall what they said?" Leiana says, "Whick was saying that they had to keep me under for a bit longer. And then guy was saying that I liked fire, so he'd let me burn." Leiana glances down. Oreena frowns. Oreena asks, "He set you on fire?" Dark coffee smoke curls up from the cigar in Ignacio's hand. Ignacio swallows visibly. Speaking to Oreena, Leiana explains, "I don't..really get harmed from fire anymore." Oreena glances appraisingly at Leiana. Leiana says, "But it felt like it." Leiana says, "I experienced it all." Ignacio's cigar begins to smoke badly. Ash build-up! Leiana says, "I felt like I was trapped in a room, fire all around me, and I couldn't run away - though I did try." A faint hum, felt rather than heard, emanates from your illthorn crosier and is echoed from somewhere deep within your core. Oreena takes a drink from her single malt whiskey. She emits a deep, contented sigh. Ignacio taps his cigar, knocking a clump of ashes to the ground. Ignacio says, "I can't even begin to imagine that horror." Leiana says, "And it went on and on until they messed up and allowed a gap between casts." Leiana says, "And then I got him." Ignacio slowly rolls his cigar between his thumb and index finger. Leiana narrows her eyes. Oreena raises an eyebrow. Oreena asks, "Who?" Speaking to Oreena, Leiana says, "The sorcerer, Daeoas." Leiana frowns. A thin stream of blue-grey smoke streams from the cigar in Ignacio's hand, drifting upward in a loose coil. Speaking to Leiana, Oreena asks, "What then?" Leiana says, "They ran." Leiana says, "And when I was back up and managed to make my way to the railing, they were setting my boat on fire." Jaired nods slowly. Hazy curls of smoke escape the tip of the cigar, forming a transparent curtain around Ignacio. Oreena asks, "Did you respond?" Leiana bitterly says, "Yeah, I ran." Ignacio asks, "Do you recall anyone else aboard? Other than Daeoas, Whick and Balatra?" Leiana reluctantly admits, "I was in no shape to fight back." Oreena turns an inquisitive ear toward Leiana. Leiana says, "Yeah there was an empath, they called him Krasus." Thin threads of smoke trail from the smoldering end of Ignacio's cigar. Oreena asks, "Oh so they healed you afterward?" Leiana says, "He was there to heal me to keep me from dying - the seals were going off while they had me down and I had been hurt pretty badly by them." Leiana says, "So he healed me and then they started again with the.." Leiana says, "Well the nightmares." Oreena frowns. Curls of cigar smoke linger about Ignacio in a dark coffee scented haze. Jaired clenches his fist. Oreena says, "So they healed you, and then repeated the process.." Leiana nods slightly. Leiana says, "Yeah." Ignacio asks, "What were they after when they rummaged through your boat?" Leiana says, "They never said, but I think it was the gem." Moving his left hand around idly, Ignacio leaves a wavy line of dark coffee scented smoke in the air. Oreena glances at Jaired. Speaking to Jaired, Oreena murmurs, "Jeofrey." Jaired nods at Oreena. Leiana nods at Oreena. Oreena leans back. Oreena takes a drink from her single malt whiskey. She emits a deep, contented sigh. Ignacio nods. Oreena says, "You really should not have housed that gem on your boat, you know. The Landing has been under attack by that things 'daughter' looking for him." Curls of cigar smoke linger about Ignacio in a dark coffee scented haze. Jaired says, "We were expecting to leave." Leiana takes a drink from her single malt whiskey. Leiana looks quite relaxed. Ignacio asks, "May I inquire? Is this Jeofrey fully contained within the gem? Or are we able to speak with him otherwise?" Leiana says, "I'm not..sure." Leiana glances at Jaired. Curls of cigar smoke linger about Ignacio in a dark coffee scented haze. Jaired says, "Far as I know what remains of him is in the gem." Ignacio takes a few short puffs from his long and fat cigar. Ignacio parts his lips and blows a pair of identical, interlinked smoke rings into the air. Ignacio mutters, "Shame." Oreena says, "So one question, Mrs Delone." Oreena asks, "Who was casting at your boat?" Oreena cocks her head at Leiana. Leaning back, Ignacio squints his eyes against the curtain of smoke the cigar is forming around him. Leiana says, "The young Aelotian girl, Whick, and that sorcerer Daeoas." Oreena asks, "No help from the empath?" Leiana shakes her head. Oreena asks, "What about Balatra?" Ignacio asks, "The young Aelotoi girl is... Ezabell?" Leiana looks over at Oreena and shakes her head. Speaking to Ignacio, Leiana says, "Yes." Oreena slowly empties her lungs. Oreena thoughtfully says, "You are lucky to have escaped." Ignacio's cigar begins to smoke badly. Ash build-up! Leiana dryly asks, "You think?" Oreena asks, "And the gem, did they get it?" Oreena glances between Leiana and Jaired. Ignacio taps his cigar, knocking a clump of ashes to the ground. Ignacio puffs slowly from his cigar. Exhaling slowly, Ignacio sends a stream of smoke into the air to pool around him in a heady cloud. Jaired hums a seemingly random tune. A light breeze cuts a swath through the cigar smoke around Ignacio, making it eddy and whirl. Oreena raises an eyebrow. Oreena expectantly asks, "Well?" Jaired says, "Cat's collar that held the gem was gone." Leiana says, "Well they snatched off Cat's collar." Leiana nods at Jaired. Leiana nods at Oreena. Oreena glances dubiously at Jaired. Oreena glances dubiously at Leiana. Oreena thoughtfully says, "Hmm." Hazy curls of smoke escape the tip of the cigar, forming a transparent curtain around Ignacio. Ignacio informs, "This was confirmed by... uh... the cat." Jaired says, "It was... his favorite colar. He's still real broken up about it." Oreena glances at Ignacio. Oreena folds her hands in her lap. Oreena rubs her chin thoughtfully. Oreena sits back up and exhales. Oreena asks, "Well thank you for the tale, Mrs. Delone. Are there any other details to add?" A draft of wind swirls the cigar smoke around Ignacio. Leiana says, "It's not a tale. It's the truth." Oreena says, "My apologies for the poor wording choice." Leiana nods slightly at Oreena. Ignacio leans forward. Jaired says, "Daeos did reach out to me after the incident." Ignacio says, "I appreciate you taking the time to speak with us."
Oreena thanks Leiana for sharing her tale and asks that those gathered not speak of what was shared; Ignacio also asks that those gathered remain silent regarding the investigation as to not muddy it up. He also mentions to Oreena that he just happened to come upon three people that were looting Oreena's office the previous evening. A man, a woman, and a third. He says they tried to break into Oreena's Vault, but were unable. Oreena doesn't seem too perturbed, but wishes the investigator had caught the individuals.
Leiana - GM Naionna
Jaired - Player