Dark Mirror (TS)
If Shanadar's last statement is out of character, ~vIsitor~, please let me know and I'll fix it. It just seemed to me likely that Shanadar would want to say something to Rapierian under the circumstances.
While the others were eating, Selax walked toward the cave and carefully began to examine the area where Radik had been sleeping.
It seemed strange to him that one who had been closest to Wizard when he was attacked should suddenly pass out, apparently having been violently ill. He doubted it was a coincidence.
Searching the area, he noticed a piece of broken glass buried in the sand near the cave entrance, next to a bush. Moving closer to the bush, he saw something under it. Cautiously, he bent and removed the object.
It was a broken glass vial.
Studying it for a moment, Selax turned and walked over to where Rapierian was leaning against a tree.
Before the necromancer could say anything, the elemental held the vial in front of his face.
"This belongs to you, does it not?" he asked flatly.
"Why, so it does! And destroyed too! What a waste!"
"What did it contain? How did it come to be lying near where Radik slept last night?"
"Are you always this boring?" Rapierian responded. "It contained a poison. And I should say someone stole it and used it to poison the poor fellow. What a tragedy! It would have been much funner to use it on someone who didn't have an antidote, you know."
By this time, the other group members had begun to take notice.
"Stole it, you say?" Shanadar asked, clearly doubting the necromancer's story. "And how would they manage to get it out of that cloak without you noticing?"
"Good question! You should think about it and report back to me when you have an answer."
Unamused, Selax regarded him for a moment.
"You will remain here until Radik and Wizard recover. We will follow your trail and determine what you did last night. You are not telling us all you know."
"Well, of course not! I mean, it'd take a few years to tell you everything that I know and by that time both Shanadar and Wizard would be even more deaf than they already are."
Shanadar glared at him.
"If I found out that you attacked those two men or had anything to do with this mess, I will personally see that you do not get away with it," the Enforcer declared angrily.
Rapierian just laughed.
Wizard yawned but was too tired to get up. The sun was shining through the trees, wrapping him in a blanket of warmth. As he looked around, he watched the tops of the trees blow back and forth as a gentle breeze tumbled over the forest. The callings of countless birds echoed through the woods, serenading the forest's beauty. Wizard smiled.
There was a sound to the right, a twig snapping. Startled, Wizard looked over sharply. A frightened doe ran to hide in the brush. The old mage relaxed again.
Then there was another sound; it was unusual: a long, painful moan. The land itself seemed to be crying out. Wizard stood up. The was a flash of lightning and then a deafening roar of thunder. It started to rain. The cool bed of grass that he had been lying on turned to mud. The forest started to wash away, like a picture that hadn't yet dried. In another moment, everything had melted to nothing. Wizard was left standing alone in a dark, muddy wasteland. He felt helpless, unable to do anything, unable to even understand what was going on.
Wizard slowly made his way forward -- it wasn't easy with all the mud and pouring rain. He stopped when he came to a large crack in the ground in front of him. He tried to look down it but could see nothing. The canyon was only a few feet wide, but Wizard could not see its end to either the left or right. It apparently went on forever. Wizard thought for a moment of jumping the distance, but he was immediately filled with a sense of dread. The was another crash of thunder. . .
"Help! There's somebody out here!" Wizard sat up shouting, finally able to utter the words that he had been looking for before he was struck on the head. Gasping for breath a moment, Wizard remembered everything that had happened, including his disturbing dream. Katerei rushed over to him. "Are you in a lot of pain? I tried to heal the wound, but it was very difficult."
"Ow," Wizard winced, feeling the bump on the back of his head. "I can't thank you enough. I've lost a great deal of blood, much more and I could have died," Wizard spoke softly and trembled slightly out of weakness. He swayed for a moment, still somewhat dizzy but was able to regain his balance.
Katerei examined the wound again. "I can give you some ice for the swelling, but other than that, I'm afraid I have to let your body heal itself. It would be safer, albeit slower."
Wizard closed his eyes, working to refocus all of his attention. He still seemed weak. Katerei thought about having him lie back down, but just then, the swelling on Wizard's head began to dissipate. Before Katerei's eyes, the dried blood around the cut disappeared and the skin was pulled back together, seemingly by invisible hands. It was then sealed up, with only a white scar remaining. The scar soon faded as well.
Katerei was concerned for a moment when a ripple of energy moved down Wizard's head. The scar was visible again for a second, and as it crossed over the old man's face, a multitude of scars and burns became apparent. His skin lost all its vitality and sagged with age. He appeared to be nothing more than a collection of bones for one brief second. Then, it was gone. The young-ish, warm face of Wizard was visible again. He opened his eyes.
"What happened?" Katerei questioned, not wishing to pry but still very curious.
"Sorry to concern you," Wizard got on his feet and stretched. "The price I pay for living so long," he chuckled. "Each wound is healed, of course, but most of the scars have not fully disappeared. I work to conceal them by manipulating my skin and others' perception of my skin. It would worry most people to travel with me if I didn't hide my age. . . Now then, has the person who attacked me been caught?"
"No one knows for sure. It depends on who you ask." Katerei stared coldly at Raperian.
At the moment, Raperian was silently watching the group; in turn, Selax and Shanadar and probably the rest of the group were watching him. "Yes, I'm concerned about letting him travel with us as well. It's disconcerting when I can't say for certain that I know no one in this group was responsible for attacking me. What's even worse is that he's my prime suspect for these animal killings."
Katerei nodded and then checked Wizard's head to make sure that the injury really was gone before heading back to her meal.
After having some food and talking with the others to ensure them that he was fine, Wizard pulled Selax aside. "What should we do about Raperian?"
"Watch him. We may need to apprehend him if it is necessary. However, I would like something more than just circumstantial evidence before we place all of the blame on him. I do know that he's not telling us something. Perhaps we can find conclusive proof one way or another when we return to the clearing?"
"I hope so." Wizard hesitated. "I have another concern. When I was unconscious, I had a sort of dream, a nightmare really. I was here, in this forest on a beautiful day, when it started to rain. Before I knew what was happening, I was standing in a wasteland. Now it could just have been a bad dream, completely coincidental, but something may also have been causing it telepathically. There may be more going on than we know so far."
OoC: I appear to have missed my timing for a breakfast post BiC:
Lunch was leftovers from Breakfast, titan leg crammed with pomegranates & roasted over a fire. Additionally, Silver had made breads for lunch, since they were still encamped.
Radik's eyes opened slightly. The sun was high in the sky, It's bright... Really, really bright.... He groaned slightly as he lifted his hand to his head. Radik coughed a few times, then lifted his head from the rock, looking for his bottle. He noticed a group of people aruging with an ever increasing amount of yelling, then he spoted his and reached for it. A sharp pain in his leg stopped his movements, and his vision faded back to darkness.
-- A few minutes later --
Radik jerked awake with a start. He could still vaguely make out the figures of people standing around. The yelling had come to an intermission, so not too much time had passed since he last awoke. Radik sat still for a few minutes, letting his vision clear, to some extent, and confirmed that he had not only a pounding headache, but also a fever (which probably wasn't been helping by laying in the sun).
After letting his body adjust for a few more moments, Radik turned over and used the rock to help him stand up. His vision blurred and his right leg went limp, but Radik was able to stay conscious this time. After regaining control of his leg, he limped over to where his bag remained from this morning. In a swift motion, he grabbed his bag and stick, and started walking away from the cave, with the stick being used as a cane.
Surprisingly, no one really noticed Radik or his movements, except for Silver, who decided to poke Katerei and then point at Radik as he disappeared down from view. She quickly stood up and followed Radik's trail. He stopped walking and turned around, "What do you want?"
"Where are you going? You're hardly in the condition to be traveling on that leg, and it would probably be better for you to finish sleeping off that hangover."
"Hangover?" He stared at her blankly. "Honey, you call this a hangover?!"
"I saw all your vomit and all your bottles. What you do in your spare time is your business, but your drinking is going to jeopardize the well-being of not only you but the entire group. And don't call me 'honey,' I was not made by bees." Radik sighed and turned to leave. "Fine, just leave us then. But don't be surprised if you die halfway back to Catamarca because your leg gives out on you."
Katerei turned to leave as Radik turned back to face her, "Honey, do you really have no idea what just happened?" She stopped and looked back at him. "Someone poisoned my drink. I don't really care who or why, but that crosses a line. How am I supposed to continue traveling with that party, knowing that someone tried to kill me. I'm pretty sure we can guess why they did though, because Wizard is so close to being useless. Did you see how heavily he was leaning on that staff? You could just waltz up there and push him, once he falls down, he isn't getting back up.
"Look, whatever they were after, I'm pretty sure they succeeded. Other than Wizard, you are probably the next best thing to a healer. So what do you want me to do? I'm helpless. As soon as I go back and we set up camp tonight, if the same person wants to 'have some more fun', I'm dead right off the bat. Chances are they'll go for you next, since Wizard is teetering on the edge.
"So what exactly do you want me to do then?" Radik stared at her, with most of his pent up aggression released. He sighed heavily and rubbed his forehead, "I'm sorry, its just... I'm out of place here."
Meanwhile, Selax, Shanadar, Yomu, and Rapierian were following the necromancer's tracks from the previous night.
There had been no rain last night, and the trail was easily visible.
It led, to no one's great surprise, to the clearing where the other bodies had been found.
There was another mutilated body; however, this was not the body of an animal.
A young man lay dead in the clearing. By his clothing, it was obvious that he was from Kosha.
"You were here after he was killed," Selax informed Rapierian, after examining the scene. Shanadar had moved somewhat behind Rapierian.
"Was I? Oh, yes! It was actually a reasonably well done bit of work, although it could have been better."
"You were here? Saw this and did nothing?" Shanadar growled angrily, although he couldn't say he was surprised.
"I figured you'd find it eventually, and it did seem a shame to touch anything sooner then necessary."
"It appears that another of your poisons was used," Selax said, holding up another glass vial.
"Really? Boy, somebody really pick-pocketed me, didn't they?" Rapierian mused.
Then, in a blur of motion, he hit Rapierian in the face hard enough to lift the necromancer off his feet and send him flying into Shanadar's staff (which the Enforcer had been in the process of applying to the back of Rapierian's head).
The necromancer hit the ground and was still.
"He did touch the remains," Yomu observed. Even from where he stood, it was obvious that Rapierian had at least closely examined the body.
"Yes, I suspect if we examine his whereabouts we will find that he was absent from Cademia at the times of the previous occurrences," Selax replied.
"He was out of Cademia several times recently," Shanadar confirmed.
"We should make sure he remains unconscious for now. He will be easier to handle. Let us return to camp."
"What about him?" Yomu interjected, pointing at the dead man's body. "We can't just leave him for the birds."
"No," Shanadar said, frowning. "We'll take Rapierian back to the camp and then some of us will come for him. Perhaps, the remains should be taken to Kosha."
Selax lifted Rapierian and the group headed back toward the campsite...
Katerei studied Radik, keeping her expression carefully controlled as she attempted to process a multitude of thoughts at once. She felt somewhat ashamed that she had mistaken Radik's condition for the result of hard drinking, instead of recognizing that he had been poisoned. But who could blame me? she thought defensively. She hadn't noticed Selax finding the poison vial, and all the signs had pointed toward Radik's drinking habit. And she never claimed to be an expert medic; no one should expect her to be able to diagnose mysterious poisonings.
It created a host of new problems though. Who poisoned Radik? Why? Was it the same person responsible for the harpy killings? Or - possibly worse - was it someone within the group? Katerei wasn't quite sure how Radik had meant it, but his hesitation to rejoin them had planted a seed of doubt in her mind. After all, the only ones she knew all that well were Selax, Wizard, and Silverfish. She had seen the others in the Alraeican Tavern, but that didn't count for much. For that matter, ought she to trust Radik? He could very well be lying about the poison...
Katerei took a deep breath to clear her mind. This was no way to handle things. Wizard's injury was proof enough that the group was under fire from somewhere, and they needed to operate as a team - which included Radik.
"You think you're out of place," she said, addressing his last statement dryly. "I'm six feet tall and blue. You think I don't stick out? And you know, even if I am the next target, that's a risk I'm willing to take. It's our duty to find out who's behind these killings and stop them, and I'm not going to back down from that."
"And anyway," Katerei said, tossing her long hair over her shoulder and turning away from him, "you might be helpless and vulnerable with us, but I guarantee you'll be in more danger stumbling around alone on that leg. It's your choice," she called back as she walked back toward the camp.
A short while later, Katerei and Silverfish were sitting outside the cave playing X's and O's on the ground, using twigs for the board and leaves and pebbles for the markers. Silverfish was consistently winning. Wizard looked deep in thought and Katerei suspected he was only pretending to watch the game, although she didn't say anything. Radik had not come back to the cave with her, but Katerei wasn't concerned; she had a feeling he might be lurking nearby and biding his time before making a reappearance.
Katerei looked up when she heard Selax and the others approaching, her sharp hearing catching the soft footfalls even at a distance. She was about to lose the next round, so she abandoned the game and stood up to meet them. She gasped slightly when she realized Selax was carrying Rapierian, who looked unconscious. "What happened?" she called, more worried about if they had been attacked again than Rapierian's well-being.
"We think Rapierian is the one responsible for the attacks," Shanadar said grimly. "We found the body of a man in the clearing with the harpies."
Katerei drew in her breath sharply. She wasn't surprised at Rapierian's guilt, but the murder of a human was a disturbing turn of events. Selax deposited the necromancer roughly on the ground near the cave, and then he, Shanadar and Yomu gave a rundown of what they had discovered.
"We should return the body to Kosha," Shanadar finished, "and pray we don't find any more on the way."
Wizard began to get up, leaning heavily on his staff. Katerei rushed to his side to make sure he was okay, but he waved her off kindly. "It seems as if the killings will stop now, at least. We can have Rapierian apprehended in Kosha as well." He looked down at the unconscious necromancer, not seeming as if he'd be displeased to see Rapierian locked up once and for all.
Later that afternoon, while the others were making preparations to leave for Kosha, Katerei was examining the dead man that had been brought back to the campsite. Her nose was wrinkled at the sight of the mangled corpse, but she wanted to search for signs of the poisoning to better prepare herself for identifying it next time (although she hoped taking care of poisonees wasn't something she'd have to do often.) It didn't make sense to attack a body that had already died of poisoning, but she supposed that was just Rapierian showing off his sadistic side.
The dried blood caked everywhere made it hard to figure out what had been done to him, but on one of the man's pant legs Katerei noticed some puncture holes. She frowned slightly as she studied them. That didn't make any sense.
Katerei left the body for the moment and sat down next to Wizard, feeling most comfortable talking to him. "I just found marks on that man that appear to be from an animal's teeth. What do you make of that?"
"I suppose some animal came across him first and was hungry," Wizard said, looking a bit surprised. "But you wouldn't be asking me if it were that simple."
"No," Katerei shook her head. "I can't understand it. He appears more or less intact... well... uneaten, at least. An animal would either come by, sniff around, and leave again, or it would feed. It wouldn't just bite a corpse for no reason. Animals don't act that way. It's like something has altered their behaviour."
Wizard looked pensive, but had no answer. Another mystery to solve, he thought with a sigh.
As they headed toward Kosha, Silverfish took the position of advance Scout because he wasn't really strong enough to carry any of the bodies (living or dead) or to carry the extra supplies, (even though there were few because nobody really trusted another to keep their possessions safe.) Some of his companions thought that Silver was just being kept out of the way, but a few were suspicious enough that Rapierian wasn't the only sadistic murderer around to be glad of an extra precaution.
Silver flew a little ways ahead of the main party, looping around like a vulture hunting for food. He stayed close enough to the party that they could hear him yell if he was attacked, or saw something odd, yet far enough ahead to give them a comfortable margin for adopting a battle stance.
This post has been edited by Jehezekel : 13 June 2009 - 06:36 AM
Wizard trudged along near the middle of the group, leaning heavily on his staff. He had insisted that no one help him, but several members of the group were clustered around him anyways. He was busy thinking about the recent killings. He didn't find it at all difficult to believe that Rapierian was responsible for these murders; in fact, he felt a kind of satisfaction that they were finally going to give the necromancer his long-overdue comeuppance.
Yet, a part of him doubted that Rapierian was involved. Even if Rapierian were involved somehow, Wizard couldn't quite believe that he was acting on his own. But he wasn't going to voice his concerns just yet. For the moment, there wasn't any substantial evidence to suggest that Rapierian didn't do this alone, and Wizard certainly didn't want to lose their maybe only chance to bring Rapierian to justice once and for all.
Wizard squinted as he looked at the sky. The sun was still fairly high, although it would be getting to evening soon enough. Wizard figured the time to be around 3 o'clock. Given that he could see a glimpse of Kosha's high walls on the horizon, he was sure that they would make it before sundown.
When the group reached Kosha, they headed straight for Judge Itanos's house.
The city itself seemed strangely subdued as they made their way through it.
"Perhaps these strange killings have bothered people more than we had thought," Wizard mused aloud.
"Or something else has gone wrong," Shanadar said.
Reaching Itanos's house, Wizard raised his hand to knock, but, before he could do so, Itanos opened the door.
"Yes? What is it? No, I don't know. Come back later! I'm very busy!" the mage said, obviously quite flustered.
"Itanos? Are you feeling all right?"
Itanos looked at the group for a moment.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I thought you were more concerned citizens. Things have been very hectic since the news reached us! But what are you doing here? I thought you'd be up at Land King Hall."
"What news? Why would we be at Land King Hall? We are here to deal with these strange killings."
"Oh those! Well, I should be glad. They've caused no end of unease here."
"What news?" Wizard repeated, maintaining his patience.
"You haven't heard? Alaric is in a coma!"
"What?" Shanadar asked in surprise. "How? When?"
"No one is quite sure! He just collapsed suddenly a couple of days ago. I've been told that his jester Magbird—"
"Magpie," corrected Wizard.
"Right, him, also is in some kind of a coma. Quite a bit of a disturbance! Lindus and most of the senior mages are at Land King Hall right now, trying to figure out what happened."
"Ominous news," someone said as Wizard turned back to the others.
"Indeed," Selax replied. "Regardless, we have a task to finish here. Then, we can investigate."
To Itanos, the elemental said, "It would appear that the necromancer Rapierian has been involved in the recent events around Kosha. He has been caught. In addition, we found this yesterday."
As he was speaking, the group members carrying the dead body of the man they had found stepped forward.
"Most troubling," Itanos said after a moment. "He was one of the city's laborers. Alarus, I believe. His family has been wondering what happened to him." After a moment, he continued, "Rapierian did this, you say? You caught him?"
Selax lifted the still unconscious necromancer up for the Judge to see.
"Hmm, well, that will cheer the people up, at least. Especially, if those horrible deaths stop. There are magic suppressing cells below Comana's old fortress. He should probably be placed there for now."
"It might be wise to keep him unconscious for a little longer," Selax replied.
"Perhaps so, but anyway get him over there. Then, I can tell you what else I know of Alaric's strange condition." Turning to the those who were carrying Alarus's body, Itanos added, "You should take him to his family. I can tell you where they live."
Just then Silver flew up in a panic. "Mirror! work! not does!"
He was greeted with blank stares.
"I went around to check on the Comana's guest room," he began guiltily, "it's pretty nice. But then I saw the mirror! It was all dark &... webby? AND I'm totally freaking out." Then he hung from Itanos' eaves and rocked back & forth.
Katerei looked at Silverfish with some concern. Dark and webby mirrors? She hadn't the faintest idea what he was talking about, but it couldn't be good. She would have to remember to ask him to explain more clearly later. There were so many strange things going on; maybe it meant something that she just didn't recognize yet. In the meantime, there were things to attend to.
"We can split up and send one group with Rapierian, and the other to Alarus' house, and meet back at the Roasted Haunch Tavern when we're done," she addressed the party. Now that they were out of immediate danger, Katerei felt better about letting the group separate. Everyone could probably use a chance to relax at the tavern before investigating more into Alaric's situation, and she didn't think Itanos, in his busily overwhelmed state, would want one group hanging around his house if the other group took awhile to return. The tavern made her think briefly of Radik and she wondered what had happened to him, but if he had decided to leave the group, that was his choice.
"I'll take Rapierian to the cells," Selax said, and looking at Shanadar, he added, "I assume you'll want to come and see him locked up finally." Shanadar gave a bleak smile to indicate his assent.
"I'll go to Alarus' house, then," Katerei said. She cast a brief glance around the group. "Yomu, I'll need you to help me carry him. Wizard, would you come as well? I expect the family will need some consoling." Wizard nodded in agreement, so Katerei continued, "And then Silverfish, that puts you with Selax and Shanadar, if you don't mind."
After Itanos gave them directions to Alarus' house, Wizard thanked the judge for his help. "We'll be back later to hear more about Alaric," he promised.
Alarus' family lived in the southwest corner of Kosha. They found the house easily enough, although as they neared it Katerei realized the body was in no decent state to be viewed. "You might want to go up to the house and talk to them first," she said to Wizard. "If he had children... well..." She left the sentence hanging.
"Of course," Wizard said, and went to knock at the door while Yomu and Katerei laid the corpse out on the ground gently.
"I have no idea what's proper etiquette for delivering a dead body," Katerei muttered to Yomu while she quickly formed another water-cloth to wash as much dried blood off Alarus as she could. "There's really no compassionate way of doing it, is there?"
"Not really, no," Yomu said, as he helped adjust the remains of the dead man's clothing to cover the worst of the injuries. "Especially when it's been mangled as much as this fellow. I've delivered some odd things to people, but this has to be one of the least pleasant."
When they had done what they could, they stood back to wait. Wizard was talking to a woman standing in the doorway, although when she peered over his shoulder and saw the body, she pushed past the old man and ran into the yard. "Alarus!" she cried in horror, rushing to the man's side. "Oh, no! My husband! Alarus!"
The three adventurers stepped aside, averting their eyes respectfully as the woman sobbed over her husband's body, giving her time to process the news. Katerei felt a cold sensation in the pit of her stomach. This was never going to be an easy task, but her sympathy for Alarus' wife was mixed up with too many memories.
A few minutes later, the woman recovered her composure and stood up, wiping tears from her eyes. "I'm sorry," she murmured, "I... I..." She sniffed and looked at the odd mixture of travellers. "Thank you for bringing him here. You didn't have to do that."
Wizard laid a hand gently on the woman's arm. "It was no trouble. We wanted to allow you and your family the chance to grieve properly. We are all deeply sorry for your loss."
"What happened to him?" the woman asked tremulously. "He was... he was just travelling to Cademia..."
"You might have heard of these mysterious killings happening recently," Yomu told her. "Alarus appears to have been an unfortunate victim. However, we also believe we have caught his killer, and he is being imprisoned at this very moment."
Alarus' wife looked down at her husband in dismay. "Well, that's good news for... for the town. At least Alarus will be the last."
"I understand what it's like to lose a loved one," Katerei said quietly to the woman. "It's a terrible loss, but remember that it doesn't reflect poorly on your husband in any way. His murderer was ruthless and dangerous even to seasoned fighters. I'm sure Alarus died bravely."
"Thank you," the woman replied, giving a weak smile. She sighed deeply and passed a hand over her eyes. "I hate to ask any more of you, but could you please carry him into the house? I'll have to keep my children out of the way. I don't want them to see him like this."
Ten minutes later, they were exiting the house again after having brought in Alarus' body. His wife still looked devastated, but she assured them she would be all right. "Off to the tavern to meet the others, then," Wizard said. "They should be done with Rapierian soon."
This post has been edited by iKaterei : 24 June 2009 - 11:41 PM
Selax, Shanadar, and Silverfish were waiting at the Roasted Haunch when the others arrived.
"We put Rapierian in the cell," Shanadar told Katerei. "I just hope that it will hold him for now."
"He should remain unconscious for several more hours at least," Selax responded. "That should be enough time to decide what to do with him."
"Perhaps we should eat and speak to Itanos later?" someone suggested. "He seemed very overworked."
"We could Direct Nexus to Land King Hall and examine the situation for ourselves," someone else replied.
"I think we should speak to Itanos again first," Wizard stated. "It'd be best to learn all we can before charging off. Besides, we need to keep an eye on Rapierian for the moment."
After some more discussion, the group members agreed that they would eat and rest briefly before going back to speak to Itanos.
Afterward, they would decide what to do with Rapierian and what to do to help Alaric.
Having decided this, they found a table and ordered their meal.
The meal was delicious, in a traditional Cytheran sort of way, & although the meals Silver had made were not less flavourful, it has been said that oftentimes normalcy is one of the best spices in a master chef's cabinet.
Shanadar felt somewhat subdued as he sat down with the others in the Roasted Haunch to eat. He tried not to show it, but the news of Alaric's condition had struck him like a thrown brick. The last time Alaric fell ill it meant no end to trouble for the land of Cythera; indeed, their fair island had never fully recovered from that near-catastrophe, as the endless string of woes and cataclysm in recent years had evidenced.
Rapierian was finally behind bars, at least. That had to count for something.
The Necromancer's capture was far too easy, which Shanadar found unsettling. However, even if Rapierian was, somehow, innocent of this mess, he certainly deserved imprisonment for his other crimes.
Unless that was what Rapierian wanted?
The Enforcer entertained the possibility that they might, somehow, be playing into the Necromancer's hands by incarcerating him, but he couldn't figure out as to how, exactly, they would be doing so. There seemed little that the dabbler of darker magics could accomplish in prison.
Or maybe someone was trying to get to him? Shanadar certainly wouldn't put it past the Necromancer to frame himself for murder to assure his own safety, from whatever that which threatened him may be.
Shanadar would need to talk to someone about this. His first instinct was to talk to Wizard, but as the old spellcaster was still recovering from his injuries, he felt it best not to concern him with the matter.
He took a large bite out of his well-seasoned meal and considered his options as he chewed in silence. Swallowing, he resolved to ask his time-displaced compatriot, Radik, about the matter later. Having been poisoned earlier, he had a large stake in this, but his status as the outsider gave him an unbiased view of the issue. A unique combination which might provide some insight as to the bigger picture.
Radik was well into enjoying his drink as members of the group slowly trickled into the tavern, after returning from their separate tasks. He mused over Katerei's words as he downed another beer. Once the party had gathered, the party begun to eat, and Radik watched in silence from across the tavern.
He absent-mindedly rubbed his leg wound, which had to be re-bandaged after he shadowed the group's trip to Kosha. It was pretty easy keeping pace with them, since Wizard walked at a significantly slower pace and other members of the group had to carry the victims body.
Radik stopped his wandering mind as he watched Shanadar stand up and walk over to Radik's table. He gestured to a chair and Radik nodded.
This post has been edited by Dark Jet : 26 June 2009 - 03:36 PM
Wizard ate silently as he watched around him. In general, the people seemed sad, almost depressed. Wizard wasn't surprised by this, given how much the populace of Cythera relied on Alaric to maintain their way of life. Wizard, too, felt some concern upon hearing of Alaric's condition, but he had lived secluded from society for most of his life and wasn't very involved in Cytheran politics.
Glancing over, Wizard saw that Shanadar was speaking with Radik in the corner. Wizard suspected that Shanadar shared the same concerns about Rapierian regarding whether or not he was actually responsible for these crimes.
However, he still had a few reservations about Radik. Radik seemed nice enough, but there were certain things that Wizard found unsettling. For instance, he didn't quite understand how Radik's poisoning fit into everything. It almost seemed convenient for him to be out of the way when the group was trying to determine who attacked Wizard. Bah, that's just being cynical Wizard shrugged. Still, Radik did leave the group shortly after that. Concerned for his safety or that he could be caught?
Wizard felt the bump on the back of his head. It was mostly healed now, although it was a bit sore. Fortunately, sitting down made the old man feel a lot better -- it had been a long walk to Kosha. Wizard leaned back and tried to get some rest while the others finished their meals. Soon, they would go speak with Itanos. Maybe then they would understand more about these recent events.
This post has been edited by The Wizard : 27 June 2009 - 09:54 PM
Nothing seemed to be happening, so Silver spun a cocoon for himself & fell asleep in a corner of the room.
The silence around the table was oppressive. A sense of weariness pervaded the entire tavern, not least at the adventurers' table. Katerei wondered awkwardly whether she ought to try and start a conversation, but she wouldn't have known what to say even if she had the courage.
She was also unsure what to do about Radik. His appearance had not been entirely surprising, but she didn't know whether it meant he was rejoining them or not. Judging from the familiar way he held his beer, she guessed not. He might as well stay here. He should wait for his leg to heal, Katerei thought, and added with a hint of contempt that she couldn't restrain, and a tavern is the best place to be if he wants to drink himself into a stupor.
Regardless, Shanadar had gone over to talk to Radik, so her window of opportunity to say something had passed. Silverfish was dozing in a corner, which left her at the table with Selax, Wizard, and Yomu, none of whom seemed conversational. It had been a long day, so she supposed they were each mired in their own thoughts, which she couldn't blame them for. The temptation to do exactly that was weighing heavily on her.
When Katerei was finished with her meal, which she had barely noticed eating, she dropped a few coins on the table and stood up. "I'll meet you at Itanos' house," she told the three still at the table. "I have something to do, but I shouldn't be gone long." Wizard looking at her questioningly, but she was grateful that he didn't pry.
Outside Kosha, a silvery-blue wolf loped through the trees. Running normally helped Katerei relax, but she was too wound up and her thoughts seemed to be racing far ahead of her paws. Every step that took her farther away from the city reminded her that she wasn't sticking to the plan, wasn't forcing herself to stay around people, wasn't strong enough to resist succumbing to the misery and self-doubt that plagued her every minute of every day...
The forest slid past in a blur, nettles catching in her dense fur. She was not running fast, but she took only cursory notice of her surroundings, letting the wolf instincts guide her while her conscious mind flickered through memories at breakneck speed. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation quickly took its toll though, and she was soon forced to slow her pace, knowing that she wouldn't have long to rest before returning to Kosha. She found an open, grassy hill that rose above the forest and chose this place to stop and transform back into her usual body.
Panting slightly, Katerei unbuckled the belt that her healing pouch was attached to and dropped it lightly on the ground along with her black cloak. Transforming bulky or loose-fitting things like these was something she had mastered long ago, but wanting to wear it all the time was a different matter. She sat with her arms on her knees, feeling the strong breeze against her bare arms. It rustled her dress around her ankles and whipped her hair gently around her face. This was a much better thinking place than a tavern that offered nothing but subdued people and awkward silence.
Visiting Alarus' bereaved wife had not been a good idea. Katerei had gone with the intention of comforting the woman, but it had brought everything rushing back in vivid detail and she cursed herself for volunteering to go. As unpleasant as finding the harpy carcasses and Alarus' body had been, it was bearable; seeing the effect of the dead on a living person was an entirely different matter. A chill went down her spine at the thought. Katerei had seen too much of herself in Alarus' wife.
Images surfaced in her mind, and Katerei's thoughts began to slow from their hyperactive speed as she considered each one in turn. Her parents, crying out that they loved her as they were burned to death. Silvre, nuzzling her goodbye after Katerei had insisted that the Amaroq wolves needed their pack leader more - one of the hardest things she had ever had to say. Ferazel and all her friends that she had gone on quests with, who had all disappeared without a trace. Trundaylan, dying on the rooftop of Pnyx, while she could only stand by helplessly. And Avatara... lying on the ground in a pool of blood, more dead than alive... then later, unconscious in the hospital bed next to hers. Everyone she had ever lost.
Katerei gazed westward at the mountains, hazy in the late twilight. Behind her, the moon was already partially visible behind the clouds. She wondered what it would be like to have someone sitting next to her on the grass, watching night fall together. Tears pricked at her eyes, and she whispered to the sky in a choked voice, "Why aren't you here when I need you?"
Finally Katerei knew she couldn't put off returning any longer. After wiping her eyes and putting her belt and cloak back on resignedly, she again transformed into a wolf. She had barely taken a step when she froze. Her sense of smell was far better as a wolf, and something on the breeze was very, very wrong. Suddenly fully alert, her ears twitched as she picked up the sound of something running away through the forest.
The thought of following the thing never entered her mind. The smell both confused and terrified her. Katerei turned tail and bolted back to Kosha.
This post has been edited by iKaterei : 13 July 2009 - 06:04 AM
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Rapierian groaned and squeezed his eyes closed, trying to avoid the bright burning light that was shining on him. He could feel his senses returning to him, and almost wished he hadn't. His jaw ached, his body was sore, and his face and hair were soaked from resting in some kind of shallow puddle. With a grunt, mostly from disgust, he pushed himself up to a kneeling position, turning his head to avoid staring directly into the bright orange rays of the setting sun.
After a moment of painful blinking, Rapierian was able to take in his surroundings. He sat in a small square room made of three pale stone walls and a wall of iron bars encompassing the fourth. Through the bars, he could see a short hallway leading past several empty cells before ending at a staircase illuminated by a single torch. A large man sat on a stool at the end of the hallway, leaning against the wall and facing up the stairs.
At the top of the wall opposite the door was a barred window that allowed a small amount of sunlight to filter through a window well. The orange sunbeams cast a haunting glow around the small room, giving it an almost demonic light. Judging by the angle and color of the sun, Rapierian guessed that night would fall soon, meaning he had been unconscious most of the day, a most unfortunate loss of time.
He rubbed his aching jaw, promising to himself that he'd get even with the cocky, humorless elemental. How dare they? Accusing him of those crude killings, silly "traitorous" acts like stealing his own poisons, and then dragging him to this cesspool and leaving him to rot without giving him a chance to defend himself. Even a child could've seen some kind of animal had killed that unlucky fellow; hardly the sort of elaborate assassination Rapierian prided himself on. They even had the nerve to confiscate his favorite cloak.
Muttering to himself, he noticed the rusty tray near the door. A loaf of moldy bread nestled against a bowl of grayish lumps with black dots and a cup of some dark liquid. Rapierian kicked the tray into the wall, creating a large racket of clattering metal and spraying gray slop on the bars and into the hall. "Can I get the special without the maggots?" he yelled down the hall. The man at the far end didn't even flinch.
Disgusted, irritated, and slightly hungry, he sat down on the lone wooden bench. His connection to magic was probably cut off by the runes etched into the ceiling throughout the hallway. With nothing better to do, he tried summoning a creature anyway.
The light in the room slowly faded as the sun sank lower in the sky. Outside, he pictured it was frantically trying to keep above the mountains to the west, battling futilely to stave off the darkness of the night that was rapidly closing in. The guard at the end of the hall still hadn't moved and Rapierian's mood had only become even more sour. He was far too important of a person to be lying around like some common criminal in this filthy basement. There had to be something he could do.
He eyed the discarded tray lying upside-down on the floor. Moving gingerly to avoid getting gruel on his fingers, he quietly picked up the tray and attempted to insert the flat edge between the door and the iron doorframe. With his foot, he ground the cup into the floor, roughening the lip. He then quietly slipped the cup and his hand through one of the wider openings and fumbled around for the lock. To his surprise, there wasn't one, only a rough metal spot, still slightly warm, where it appeared as if someone had cut the lock off.
Suddenly suspicious, he put the cup and tray down and peered back down the hall. The guard was still foolishly staring away, paying no heed at all to the imprisoned man. Rapierian gripped the bars of the door firmly and gave them a small push. The door budged slightly, but appeared to be stuck. A quick pause ensured the guard still wasn't watching. Rapierian put his shoulder to the door and leaned into it with more force. The door jerked another tiny space forward and then stopped. It wasn't enough.
Rapierian leaned his back against the door and used his feet to push as hard as he could, while trying to suppress a laugh at the thought of breaking out under the nose of his captors. For a moment, the door refused to move, but then suddenly it swung open with a loud squeal, and he fell backwards into the hallway. Painfully aware of the echoing clang from the door slamming into the wall, he spun around to face the guard who was surely bearing down upon him in a fury, only to find the man was still sitting calmly on his stool. Was this some kind of sick joke, assigning a deaf man to guard his cell?
Not sure if he should be elated or suspicious, he picked up the tray and crept down the hall. Regretfully, he would still be unable to use his magic until he made it above ground, so he was unable to grant this poor soul a fitting demise. He slowly crept closer, hoping his luck would hold out just a little bit longer. There were only two more cells to go. The sun had all but disappeared from the window behind him, leaving only the flickering torch as a source of light. One more cell. The only sounds in the air were the hissing of the torch and the slow dripping of water from some cracks in the ceiling.
He held his breath as he approached the still figure on the stool. A pudgy man who seemed to have shaved a few days earlier, his guard did not look like the type of person who was used to watching criminals. They probably hadn't even used this place in years. A few more paces now. The man was leaning heavily on his left shoulder - sleeping perhaps? Rapierian couldn't see anything terribly exciting about the stairs other than them being his path to freedom. With each quiet step he took, a rare feeling of unease grew larger inside him. Something here wasn't right. Now that he was closer, the way the head was turned, the way the man's body was sitting, it all seemed unnatural. The guard hadn't even moved once.
He dropped the tray onto the hardened ground. There was no need for it anymore, the man was already dead, to his disappointment. But why send a dead man to guard him? In a unlocked cell, no less. The only explanations that made any sense were either his captors were just stupid (which was actually a possibility, though probably not likely) or that someone else had visited after they had left. His remaining enthusiasm quickly darkened to annoyance as he realized that meant someone probably wanted him to escape. While he certainly didn't want to sit around here, he didn't relish the idea of being someone else's pawn. For a moment, he considered going back into his cell and sitting there out of spite.
The torch started flickering wildly as the heavy wooden door at the top of the stairs squeaked open, sending an influx of fresh air and bright light onto the necromancer and the guard he was hunched over. Rapierian covered his face with his hands and tried to identify the silhouette in the doorway. A young boy gaped back at him, eyes frozen on the guard he was hunched over.
Rapierian abruptly stood and clasped his hands behind his back. With his most charming smile, he looked the boy in the face and innocently said, "I didn't do it."
The boy screamed, slamming the door and running off yelling, "Help! The prisoner has escaped! He's murdered Phirus! Quick! Help!"
With mild irritation over having no real choice left, he grabbed the torch and bolted up the stairs. In his shock, the boy had neglected to lock the wooden door, and it gave way easily to the necromancer. He burst out of the prison into a dusty, but well-lit room. Fragments of ruined furniture and debris lay scattered among some cobwebs in the corners. There was no window and only a single door leading out into what was most likely the rest of House Comana.
He quickly hurried out of the room and dashed to the left down the adjacent hallway. The sound of several men yelling and running nearby caused him to reflexively slip into a darkened storeroom off to the side. As soon as he slipped into the darkness, several guards came rushing out of the room further down the hall, running past to the room he had just exited. He let them pass by, waiting for a quick count to ten, and hearing no more activity, slipped out of the room and continued down the hallway towards his freedom.
As he passed by the guardroom, something caught his eye. His cloak was hanging over one of the bedposts, as if someone had carelessly tossed it aside. His precious cloak, treated no better than filthy rags. Rapierian grit his teeth to hold back his anger, he was outnumbered and his magic was still being blocked. Another time. He'd show them. He reclaimed his cloak, was further irritated (but not really surprised) to find all his carefully concocted mixtures and vials had been removed. For a moment, he considered searching around for them. The image of the dead guard in his hands came back to him, a reminder that somebody was using him, and until he discovered who it was, it was probably better to let the potions go. This time.
Almost certainly the entire town would be looking for him in a matter of minutes. Already, the guards were returning, having found the underground prison devoid of his existence. He slipped his cloak on, wound his way through the corridors, past the famous fountain in the house grounds, and then outside. A chill wind blew through the trees outside, rustling his cape as he made his way away from Kosha. Giving the city a wide berth, he started circling around to the north.
Rapierian gave Kosha one last look over his shoulder as he ran away. A dozen guards had assembled outside the house and were organizing into search teams, with more men arriving each moment. He chuckled to himself. They were too late, they wouldn't be able to catch up to him now. His good mood was returning.
To his left, the last rays of the sun slipped below the mountains, heralding the coming of night.
After Shanadar had finished his talk with Radik, the party headed back to Itanos's house.
"I really don't know how much more I can tell you," Kosha's judge said as they entered. "Only that both Alaric and Magberg—"
"Magpie," Wizard again corrected.
"Right, right, that fellow. Well, they are both out. The only news that I've gotten about it that Pheres thinks that they are in some kind of shock. He thinks they might recover on their own but he's not sure."
"Shock? What sort of thing could put Alaric into shock?" Shanadar mused.
"Has anyone tried to enter the Seldane's city under Land King Hall?" Wizard asked. "They might know something."
Itanos looked around nervously. Discussions about the elementals that lived in Cythera always tended to unnerve the people who had only discovered their existence in the past decade.
"It's rumored that Timon and Hector did try but that they couldn't reach it. I don't know if that's true, but perhaps you could ask them."
"We should go to Land King Hall to investigate," Selax stated.
"I'm not sure that all of us should," Shanadar replied frowning. "Someone needs to stay and watch Rapierian. Besides, I have a feeling that we're not quite finished here."
"Perhaps we can split up briefly?" Yomu suggested. "Reaching Land King Hall with Direct Nexus is simple. Some of us could stay here to watch Rapierian and investigate further, and some of us could go see what we can do for Alaric. After the group in Kosha is done, all they need to do is direct nexus to Land King Hall."
After a brief discussion, this course of action was agreed upon. It was decided that they should set out at once, although it was now late in the day.
Some of the group stepped outside, cast directed nexus, and immediately arrived in Land King Hall.
Those remaining in Kosha decided to find a place to sleep and then investigate further in the morning.
A sudden commotion from what had once been House Comana reached their ears at that moment.