An Abandoned Warehouse
An Abandoned Warehouse
This dilapidated warehouse stands in a disused section of Kiana's harbor. It was once a rather impressive structure, especially for a hafling port, with tall walls of brick and a shingled roof.
Part of the roof has collapsed and one wall is rubble, but the space within is mostly dry even during inclement weather. A few moldering piles of textiles remain, slowly merging with the earthen floor. The building makes a spacious home for the rats that dwell inside.
It is located on the cursed quay; the part of Kiana's harbor that saw a slaughter of both combatants and innocent refugees during the war. Rumors of restless spirits keep the locals, and superstitious visiting sailors, away from the area.
From: Outside Olwort's
The drowess led the way across the haunted quay and up to the abandoned warehouse. Speaking a word of evocation, she lifted an illusory spell that concealed what had once been a wooden-walled space inside the warehouse. Perhaps an old harbormaster's office. "Make yerselves comfortable." The drowess said, to any who were following.
She sang a short song of evocation, and the illusion of crumbled bricks and impassible piles of rubble expanded to cover more space within the warehouse, making room for the golem and others to spread out within.
Myrae paused for a moment, considering. She hadn't missed Miiya fumbling in the darkness. It seemed that the Aeros was the only one among them without night sight. The drowess didn't particluarly care for the featherbrain, nor did she have any vendetta against her. Deciding that a little hospitality cost her nothing, she lit a fire in what was left of a stove that had mostly rusted into a crumbling brick wall. The light it cast ought to be enough for the girl to find her way around without stumbling over everything and everyone.
As far as Myrae was concerned, the night was still young enough. She intended to pass most of the rest of it getting to know her new cohorts. The stove made a good centerpiece, and her burntwine-filled skien provided refreshment. An empty crate provided her a seat from which to wave over the others as they entered. Indulging in a sip to ease the rawness left in her throat by the evocation (it had the opposite effect), she proffered the wineskin to any who joined her.
From: Outside Olwort's
As the TonDen stamped onto the cobbled quay and sensed the sea nearby it paused. "I shall return shortly." It said, before abruptly vanishing into the fog with one great lunge. Even in the mist-dampened airs, the group would be able to hear a tremendous splash nearby.
Silence returned to the soupy wee hours of the morning for a time. Then, with another great splash and the sound of knives on stone, the golem reappeared from the drifting vapors. It was dripping wet and seemed to glow a bit more brightly. "I can swim." It informed Miiya.
The great golem resumed following in the footsteps of their Drow guide. Despite the large gap in the warehouse wall, it had to duck low to pass through. Once inside, however, it fit easily within the barrier of illusion Myrae had erected. It stamped over to join the drowess near the glowing stove, re-folding itself into it's more compact form.
When Myrae offered the skin filled with brandy, the golem stood immobile, which the Drow would likely take as it declining to imbibe.
From: Outside Olwort's
"Myrae it is," Vjerdt hurried to match his short steps with her long strides as they made their way to the warehouse. Her reciprocal question surprised him as he was pretty sure his name was mentioned already. But perhaps this was more of a formality here? "My full name is Vjerdt, son of Vjerdt, of Vizhinm." He made a small nodding gesture with his head; a Krownish custom of formal introductions. "But yew can simply call me Vjerdt."
Which was around the exact time the TonDen boomed his name through the alleyways. "Exactly. And by the way, for the record," he indicated towards the Blue Ash Golem. "I did not think he is a crab either."
They finally reached the deteriorated warehouse, which quickly transformed into something else by the Drowess's incantations. Vjerdt was impressed and awed. He had never witnessed magick like this before - clearly of a very different kind from his own. Myrae seemed very capable in her magick, which made her even more alluring in his eyes.
He sat near the stove and took a sip of her wineskin, but it was a matter of moments before the fatigue of the long, long day took over him and Vjerdt was fast asleep.
The long walk around the outskirts of Kiana and then down across the shadowy quays had given Miiya enough time to restore her usual upbeat mood, even if the darkness and fog left her somewhat unnerved. As they drew near their destination, she could smell the sea and hear the slapping of wavelets against rock and wood, but she really had no idea where they were. The chill in the night air, and to see her footing were not the only reasons she shivered and kept close to the TonDen until it abruptly vanished, then reappeared. After that, she kept far enough away not to be dripped upon. “Great!” She whispered. Shortly thereafter they were led inside a dark and forbidding structure.
When Myrae lit a dilapidated stove, Miiya first had a look round at the building in which they now sheltered before joining the drowess near the stove. She declined a go at the wineskin but did remember her other manners. "I'm Miiya, by the way, and that," she pointed to the TonDen, "is Mister TonDen." She decided to let Zhaetar introduce herself as she willed.
Miiya found a stack of cotton sheaves not completely mildewed or moth-eaten and folded a few into a seat for herself near the stove. She offered some to everyone except The TonDen. Vjerdt was already asleep on the bricks. Miiya paused a moment, before draping a sheave over him. What right did she have to be miffed at the gnome? Nothing he had said, since she had found him, was untrue. If he had been recaptured by the Guard, she would not have come after him. In her panicked flight from the Western Watch, she had completely forgotten him. Come to think of it, maybe she was glad he was asleep rather than awake and sniping her with deservedly accusatory glares.
Having gone quite some time without saying much, Miiya was anxious to dispel the quiet with chatter. “People can’t hear us outside yer spell, right?” She asked before putting in another question. “What’s it like to swim? I can sort of float, but once my wings are waterlogged it takes for-ev-er to dry them. So I usually stay out of any deep water.”
"Swimming is enjoyable." The TonDen said after only a moment or two of silence, the equivalent of an eager blurt, for the construct. "It is like your dreams of flying." The golem continued. "It seems to be why I have these wings." It pointed to the sleek razor-edged appendages now folded atop it's massive pincers.
This was one of The TonDen's longest speeches to date. To this lengthy soliloquy on aquatics it finally added an answer waiting in it's crystalline buffer. "I will share yer drink."
If it were handed the wineskin, it would hold it by it's six-fingered hands, lift a foreleg, and gingerly dip a spike into the mouth of the skein. The spike now appeared a bit more purplish than the deep blue of the rest of The TonDen as it passed on the wineskin.
The Ice Gnome smiled in his sleep as someone covered him, unaware who it was, and snuggled into the blanket’s comfort.
He was standing alone in the vast expanses of frost, naked, the runes on his body flashing with the rhythm of his heart. The large, pale-blue eye opened in front of him out of the dark pit, covering everything in sight, inquiring without a word.
“What did yew feel, Vjerdt son of Vjerdt?”
“I have felt, Mirror of the Stars,” the gnome confessed, as he knew there was no point in concealing anything. “I have felt the fire of anger, and the fire of lust, and the fire of adventure.”
There was a long silence. The large eye did not blink.
“This is shameful indeed.
Yet another long silence. Vjerdt shuddered in the frost until the eye spoke again.
"Perhaps it was naïve to assume one can venture South
Without absorbing some of its Heat.
Perhaps yew will have to descend to the abyss of Fire
In order to reach the peaks of Ice.”
Vjerdt looked intently into the eye. “Does this mean, Mirror of the Stars, that I have permission to go on?”
The eye said nothing. It flashed brighter and brighter, pale blue arctic light that threatened to blind Vjerdt and then there was darkness.
Myrae smiled as the wineskin came around to her again. "Myrae." She replied, to the Aeros' introduction. "Yew won't be swimmin', kid." She said to Miiya before turning to The TonDen. "And yew won't fit inside."
Myrae spent a few minutes detailing her plan to extract treasure from the Sulust. When she learned that The TonDen had no need of air, she decided it would swim out and act as an anchor for their diving line. Myrae and Zhaetar would pull themselves down via the rope and plunder the hulk as Vjerdt's magick allowed, loading their haul onto The TonDen.
She turned to Zhaetar. "Yew and me'll swim out ta the bouy and follow the rope down ta the wreck, after Vjerdt magicks us up a touch." Myrae didn't want their watermancer in the drink with them. He wouldn't be as much fun in the sack if the man in the grey suit had a chomp at him. Also, Myrae wasn't sure if Vjerdt's magick would still work if he were devoured by the creatures of the deep. Plus, leaving him on the shore with the piqued Aeros girl ought to make things interesting.
"Yew an' me'll go into the wreck together. I'll find the loot, and yew swim it out and secure it to crabby." Myrae cast a weather eye at the Dwarf. They didn't tend to claustrophobia, but she'd best check. "I dunno what it's like aboard the Sulust. Might be some tight spots where I'll need ye to wiggle through. Gonna see plenty of bones, too." After a year submerged, the fish, shrimp, and slugs would have taken care of any soft tissue on those entombed within. "Think yer up for et?"
Myrae addressed Miiya next. "Yew'll stay on shore with our magicker. Stay out of sight and keep watch for our signals." Myrae explained. They would pull the bouy on the dive line down below the surface. "Once at a time if we're done and coming back. Twice in succession if we need Vjerdt to swim out." She paused and took another drink. "And if it goes under and stays under, then we're probably dead."
Myrae pointed to a coil of rope, cork bouys, and a few other items piled in a corner. "See that glass ball? Fly out and drop that near our dive line if there's trouble. It glows in the water."
She'd give Zhaetar and Miiya a chance to ask questions before she left off the topic of the dive. "So, where'd yew find Big Blue?" She jerked a thumb at The TonDen. "Yew takin' him back to his master in the Underdark?"
The Aeros girl listened first to Mister TonDen and then to Myrae's plan. She was glad to be on shore duty. Even if Vjerdt had some sort of spell to keep her wings dry, she wanted to be underwater even less than she wanted to visit the Underneath. She wondered a bit about the TonDen's remarks on her dreams, but decided not to ask what it meant. She was just happy that the golem liked to swim.
Even though the drowess seemed more personable now than when they first met, Miiya was not ready to tell her the nature of her quest to save her brother. "Not really. We just have business in Ufaeria." She answered. "What's the sword and stuff yew said yew need for?"Miiya asked, changing the subject.
Somewhere in the midst of the conversation, after a bit of time had passed, the TonDen broke in. "I have no master. I seek the one who freed me, Irihi Spokelse."
"The sword belonged to a Sister and ally. She would not want it resting on the bottom of the Vericule where there be no blood for it to let." Myrae explained with intensity but no guile, save neglecting to mention that the weapon was worth a king's ransom. "The crest I want fer myself. I'm in a bit of… disfavor in Botherel these days, so I can't exactly ask for a vouchsafe from the Mother Church." Myrae did not mind distributing these rather personal tidbits. Neither Gnome nor Dwarf nor Aeros we're likely to find buyers of it who could do her harm. The damage to Myrae's reputation was already so deep and permanent that none of this much mattered. Besides that, the girl was not the canny sort. She was likely to let her own secrets slip if Myrae tipped her own hand first.
She really was a first-rate spy. The drowess did not so much as twitch an eyelash at the TonDen's proclamation. She showed no sign, whatsoever, that the liberated Drow construct's words had caused her blood to freeze in her veins. "Bully fer yew, then." She replied to the interruption before taking another light pull of the brandy. "The portal key is fer convenience." She winked at Zhaetar. "I like the surface more than most of my sisters, but sometimes I just need a fast way to get out from under the empty sky, know what I mean?"
Myrae passed the wineskin back to Zhaetar and smoothly steered the discourse to matters of great halls, caverns, mines and veins of precious metals, keeping a steady pace of the potent drink passing her's and Zhaetar's lips as she did so. Myrae had dowsed the she-dwarf's discomfiture with the surface lands as deftly as Miiya had blithely ignored it. She would occasionally favor the youngling Aeros girl with a query about cloud dancing, gliding, and thermals under pretense of keeping her engaged in the conversation.
Only once or twice throughout the nightcap in the wee hours would she allude to their destination and this Irihi character The TonDen had mentioned. Myrae needed no response to read their intentions like an open book, especially Miiya's. What she discovered that night made her blood run cold even as she smiled, drank, and bantered.
"Well, friends, this is my stop." She said, corking the skein and handing it off to The TonDen or Zhaetar. Myrae was fair pickled, but floating on a cloud of distilled fumes did nothing to ameliorate the abject terror she kept walled up in her heart. She was just too practiced to show any outward sign of tribulation. "I'll have me a rest. Mid-afternoon or thereabouts I'll make final preparations." She mumbled, retiring to wooden floor, propped up by another mouldering pile of fabrics. "Goodmorn ta yeh."
Miiya did not partake of the spirits, but she did join in the conversation, happy to be included when Myrae asked a question or had a comment about being skyborne. As the drowess had planned, opening up to Miiya about her own tribulations with The Sisterhood of Loth set the Aeros girl at ease and loosened her tongue about her quest to find a cure for her brother's condition. After the Hafling response, she was leery about speaking at length of Irihi, but she did not try to deny that a meeting with the elfwitch was her eventual goal.
Of course, Miiya had not the slightest clue she was being interrogated during the late night chat. Now that she was fed, sheltered, and hidden from The Home Guard she started to warm up to Myrae. She felt, if not camaraderie, at least a sense of commissuration with this outcast of Botherel. Myrae likely sensed and expertly plucked Miiya's heartstrings stemming from her own foreign features. When she had a chance, she told the other two women a little of growing up flighted by birthright but denied the sky by her fearful mother. When Myrae encouraged it, she spoke about her hermit father, disfavored heretic member of his clan, and the difficulties being his daughter posed when she visited the wehyrs of the Aeros in the Mountains Ethereal.
When Myrae turned in for the night, Miiya would stay up a bit longer with Zhaetar, if the she-dwarf was amicable. It was near dawn, but Miiya had no intention of venturing outside during daylight hours. It looked to be a long dull day stuck in hiding. Miiya had experienced those aplenty, huddled in their hovel in the Daelowsian slums when Osu's or the Count's dealings brought threat down upon her mother and her. If there was something interesing to do--like chatting--it was best to do it and then sleep away the day if one was able.
Eventually, though, Miiya joined those already in repose, making herself a nest of the least-rotten sheaves. For a moment she had hesitated before building her bed beneat the TonDen. She was afraid it would seem strange to their new companions. Yet, though she had warmed up to Myrae and admired Zhaetar, Miiya did not trust any of her companions as she did The TonDen. Between its spiked hooves seemed the most secure place to camp, so it was there that she slept.
The TonDen listened and thought, thought and listened to the women's conversation. It had no more to say at the moment, and a great deal to absorb and process. When Miiya encamped beneath it and entered her dormant cycle, again, it shifted so that she slept against one of its legs. Her dreams of flying were a distraction from processing information or building faster logic gates, but the TonDen believed it had time to spare to enjoy them, anyway.
In the morning, the Ice Gnome opened his eyes and remembered his dream vividly. Around him the rest were still sleeping, and he wondered about all that is to come. As he slept while Myrae detailed the plan to the others, Vjerdt assumed he was to be diving as well this evening. He unbraided his hair and let his long, turquoise locks fall around his head. Vjerdt closed his eyes and tried to concentrate on the spell he had to cast today.
Thoughts, however, were swirling in his head. Did the Eye of the Mirror answer him in his dream and he just forgot the answer? Was he on the right path? He tried to run away from being on any path altogether, but now he cannot help but wonder whether there is a plan for him after all.
But is this the plan? Escaping the Home Guard? Fornicating with a Drow? Diving deep into a sunken ship and then going even lower to the UnderNeath? All for the promise of reaching Ufaeria, a place he was not sure even existed a week ago?
If only he could recall whether the eye answered or not. He tried to concentrate on his spell.
Miiya awoke feeling fair refreshed. She judged she had slept well into the morning, perhaps nearly until noon, by the feel of it. "Good morning, Mister TonDen." Miiya chirped quietly, in case the others were still sleeping. Miiya took a little time to freshen up before returning to where The TonDen crouched, ready to face the day.
Not that there was much to face. The gaps in the warehouse walls showed a foggy day outside, beyond Myrae's barrier of illusion. Despite the obscuring mists, the Aeros girl had no intention of leaving their sanctuary until darkness returned. No sense tempting fate. The same went for speaking to Vjerdt. She saw that the Ice Gnome was awake, but she imagined he was still cross with her. He also seemed to be meditating or something, so she decided to leave him be.
Miiya had passed many such days indoors in a much smaller space. Their roomy shelter provided much more comfortable environs than those she had experienced before. Miiya decided to take advantage of it with a good stretch. Her wing pained her not at all, and she wondered if the Lemon Gills had not yet worn off, or if the break had healed.
Standing well back from the TonDen, she extended her wings to their full stretch and tried a wingbeat, turning so that the dust from her downwash blew outside and not onto her companions. There wasn't room to try a hover without creating a windstorm inside, but Miiya was pleased with the lack of hurt from her half-strength flapping. She pulled her splinted wingtip around and felt between the bandages. "Hmm..." It still twinged when she poked it, so she guessed the injury was not completely healed. Still, it had only been two days since the Treelent had broken her wing. Were her healing not accelerated, she guessed she wouldn't even be flying at all.
Well, a day like today at home would have meant a little Q'oo Tal and a LOT of studying. Miiya decided that she would spend today with a little Q'oo Tal and a LOT of goofing off. The stacks of discarded trade goods and piles of rubble were sure to hold some entertainment, later. For now, she folded her wings and returned to The TonDen. "Do yew know any fighting techniques, Mister TonDen?" She asked. "Would yew like to learn a little of mine?"
Q'oo Tal was fun. The additional tumbling Cahron had taught her as part of their busking routine was fun. All of it was much more fun with a partner, audience, or both. Thus, she invited the monsterous construct of The Blue Ash to join her.
Miiya started with simple stretches, up arms, toe-touches, and the like. She didn't really put much thought into the TonDen's physiology and the fact that a crystalline golem likely had no tissues which need stretching or massage. As she kicked into a handstand, she was quite enjoying herself wondering if the golem could balance on two or fewer of its limbs. "Can yew stand on yer forelegs alone?" Miiya asked, walking upon her hands and then raising an arm to demonstrate a single-hand stand. "How about balancing on just one?"