Aboard the glorious Unbreakable Bond, the Solars sail out towards the West.
Zahara The Pirate pats Reaver on the head. He seems confused by the feathery cape draped over his back and wings, and squawks peevishly.
The winds blow heavily over the gilded docks of the great vessel as the Solars approach the Greyfish Archipelago.
Kai leans on the rail and gazes out over the open sea.
Zahara The Pirate "Stealing ships from the Realm is so refreshing."
Cerin stands in the pilots position, his essence powering the great vessel, black hair and crimson ribbons flapping in the breeze around him.
Zahara The Pirate "Wait, no.. it's Commandeering isn't it? Or possibly Absconding."
Cerin "I believe it's commandeering."
Kai "I'm pretty sure 'absconding' is the same as stealing anyway."
Cerin "No, no absconding is when you hide yourself. Generally to avoid legal trouble."
Zahara The Pirate "Well then it IS just like stealing."
Cerin "No, you can abscond after a murder too ..."
Markuran has raided the crew quarters for clothing, finding some things that cover him enough for decency. None of them actually fit, however, leaving Marku unhappy in pants three sizes too small.
Zahara The Pirate "Oh, true. Some fish absconded with Marku's pants." she grins.
Cerin laughs softly
Markuran glowers at Zahara. "Those pants had sentimental value."
Zahara The Pirate "Filled to the brim with electric eels, they were. I had to drown them for safety reasons."
Zahara The Pirate smiles sweetly to him from behind her dashing eyepatch.
Markuran "We'll see how happy you are when I feed your pants to a whale..."
Zahara The Pirate "I haven't got any pants."
Zahara The Pirate looks at Cerin appraisingly, "You know, your outfit is missing something." she taps her finger against her chin a few times, then grins. "I have just the thing." She unwraps one of the five scarves that adorn her waist, and ties it expertly around his forehead where it makes a fine silken headband.
Cerin regards her with amused tolerance "So why am I wearing one of your Bonds as a headband my love?"
Zahara The Pirate "It looks dashing. Piratical."
Cerin "Ah." He laughs then kisses her
Zahara The Pirate "It goes well with your hair." she pulls his bangs out so they dangle over it attractively, then kisses back.
The ship begins to approach the harbor; dock space awaits, ready for the ship to dock.
Zahara The Pirate "I suggest, by the way, that you stop sailing the ship so well for a moment.
Zahara The Pirate "These Dynasts have been..hmm... lacking in their communication with the Realm lately. This includes tribute. Here we come in a fine Realm ship, I'm sure we could do a fine job disguising ourselves as the proper owners."
Cerin "Oh, yes, that might be an idea." the wheels stop, and the sails start to take on wind.
Zahara The Pirate "Has anyone got any of that colored paste still?"
Cerin "I'm sure we can find somewhere."
Zahara The Pirate shifts her piratical dress into the garb of an Officer of the Realm. "I did bring some extra sets of clothing if anyone needs one."
Cerin goes below decks to change, stripping out of his ribbon tassled armour and into his Cloth of True Love, forming it into appropriate naval officer gear.
Markuran glowers at Zahara...
Markuran "I have the colored paste.
Kai "I suppose I'll need to borrow some clothes..."
Officer Zahara offers him a rather small set of clothing from one of her pouches. "Good. You should change into this, really. Those are a little small on you." She hands another set to Kai.
Markuran prods at the clothes, seeing if they too are Water-enchanted.
Markuran nods once he has assured himself they are and quickly changes into the garments, feeling much happier in clothes that fit.
Kai disappears below decks for a few minutes. She returns clad in the officer's garb, clearly a little uncomfortable. After a few moments squirming in clother more formal than she's used to, she opens the top few buttons indignantly. "What, do realm officers not have tits?"
Officer Zahara "You know, if you will it to, it will fit you better."
Officer Zahara "The open button look is quite nice though."
Kai smiles. "I think I'll leave it. I'd hate to bee all formal for our island vacation."
Cerin raises an eyebrow at Zahara. Though she did look good, it was true ...
Officer Zahara chuckles. "Just remember to act haughty and like you're always right."
As the Solars finish their dressing, the boat settles itself neatly into an empty dock.
Kai "Right, i'll just watch you." She smiles playfully.
Officer Zahara grins. "I can't help it. I am always right."
Markuran "Why are we stopping here?"
Officer Zahara "We're collecting many years worth of back-tribute, resupplying, and gaining the use of their hearthstone."
Markuran sighs. "Shouldn't we just fetch the Essence?"
Officer Zahara "You have no sense of adventure, Marku."
Cerin "... The docks are rather quiet. Rather very quiet."
Officer Zahara "Hmm?"
Cerin "It's midday, the docks should be humming with people. I can't hear anything."
Officer Zahara "Oh, that bodes ill for our evil plans." she pouts.
Cerin flows up the great mast of the ship, taking a better look from 100ft above the deck.
No townsfolk are visible anywhere within Cerin's sight.
Kai "How recent is our information on this place?"
Officer Zahara "About four years since they last cared to report to the Realm."
Cerin listens carefully on the breeze, letting the sounds of the town, should there be any drift to them.
Otherwise, the town appears quite normal, its terracotta-shingled houses running up the island's central mountain and the great blue jade Aqueum jutting out on a sizeable cliff over the water.
Cerin can hear some faint sounds elsewhere in the city, but they are nearly inaudible, and it is otherwise silent.
Cerin slides down the mast. "The town is deserted."
Officer Zahara "I guess we'll just have to find the tribute ourselves then... so much for my hopes for a tropical night on the town with little umbrella drinks." she sighs. "Well, let's dock and go in."
Markuran glowers. "This feels like a bad omen."
Cerin "I think we might have a little more to worry about than tribute." Cerin remarks as he jumps silently onto the docks, the ninja landing behind him.
Officer Zahara "Well, we'll just have to go do a good deed here instead of a bad one. Either way, it'll be more interesting than endless spans of water."
Cerin holds out a hand for Zahara
Officer Zahara leaps down lightly, and removes the patch for later use. It had helped immensely on the voyage so far. She cringes mentally as she remembers her FIRST time on a ship. That had been.. well she prefers not to remember it. "Come, friends, we must investigate what happens to those who desert the Realm!"
Kai hops down, drawing Daybreaker as she lands.
Cerin "I think we should look into the manse, first."
Officer Zahara "Always my favorite spot."
The wide, cobblestoned roads bob and weave across the hilly ground; a path to the Aqueum can be picked out without great difficulty.
Cerin starts to lead the group through the deserted town for the Manse, eyes and ears open for trouble or any sign of what happened to the town.
Officer Zahara rides Tanty, as his senses tend to be better than hers, and ponders, lost in thought.
Kai walks at the rear of the group, gazing into each empty window and doorway cautiously as they pass.
The walk to the manse is uneventful. The buildings passed along the way seem to be entirely in order, except for the lack of inhabitants.
The Aqueum itself has broad archways leading into its central fountain room, from which spiral staircases descend into the inner chambers.
Cerin studies the flows of the manse as he approaches, looking for irregularities
Officer Zahara "A lovely manse, don't you think?" she studies the geomantic structures.
Cerin nods absently.
The building itself seems to be functioning properly, channelling its water-aspected Essence deep into the insides of the cliff
Cerin "It is, yes." He walks up to the doors, pushing on them.
Officer Zahara waits for Cerin to open the door.
Cerin walks through the archways and up, following the flows to the Central room of the manse first.
Officer Zahara notices there isn't one, and thus continues into the Manse. She stops near her lover.
Markuran glances around carefully, making sure nothings about to attack them.
Officer Zahara "Hmmm let's go left."
In the central room, a single elaborate fountain of blue jade rises out from the floor, a single stream of water in the center breaking into three, then nine, then twenty seven streams as it cascades downward.
The water appears cool and crisp; it does not appear to have been adulterated.
Cerin checks to see if the stone is there or not ...
There is a slot where a hearthstone might grow in the center of the fountain, but no stone currently fills it.
Officer Zahara goes left.
The leftward stairs lead downward into a branching hallway, leading off in three downward-leaning directions.
Kai follows Zahara cautiously.
Cerin follows after Zahara, paying much more attention to his surroundings.
The hallways are elaborately carved with images of heroes of long ago battling in the sea against creatures unknown to today's world.
Officer Zahara picks the leftmost corridor and follows i
Officer Zahara t
Cerin "Hmmm. This place has been empty for two weeks, though there were some new people here just yesterday." Cerin announces after some deliberation
Markuran sighs. "There's nothing here for us. Let's head to get the Essence. We're just wasting time."
Officer Zahara pats Tanty, who doesn't particularly like being indoors in corridors.
Officer Zahara "You're not curious? They might have left something useful behind."
Markuran "Not curious at all."
Officer Zahara "You can wait outside, get a tan, seduce a fish."
Cerin starts to look closer, for signs of who the mystery vistors mught have been. "Be alert, something is about to happen ..."
Markuran "How then could I rescue you when this something happens?"
Officer Zahara "Bring the fish back?"
Officer Zahara draws her sword
Around the corner, those who are listening carefully can hear similar sounds -- the quiet sound of steel drawn, the faint shift of air as breath is taken... then there is a pause.
After just a moment, a male voice says "Who's there?"
Officer Zahara "I am Sesus Zahara, Captain of the Unbreakable Bond of the Realm." she says haughtily. "And who, may I ask, are YOU?"
There is a pause. "Captain Saraj Darkspear, of the Coral Fleet." He sounds hesitant. "We intend no harm. Shall we come around the corner?"
Officer Zahara glances at her companions
Officer Zahara "Since you intend no harm, I would appreciate you tossing your weapons down where I can see them before you emerge. One can never be too careful, you know."
Cerin mouths "Not Coral." at her when she looks at him
Officer Zahara nods back slightly.
Markuran glowers at the corner from behind which the man is speaking, holding himself impeccably ready to smite whatever foe it is THIS time.
"Hmmm. If you throw your weapons down at the same time." He sounds a little concerned.
Kai catches Zahara's eye, and shakes her head.
Officer Zahara "We are here on official business, while you may in fact be pirates. You may have my word that we will not begin aggressions."
Another long pause.
Officer Zahara "Well?"
"I'm.... afraid we can't do that."
Officer Zahara "Why not?"
Cerin vanishes and then peers round the corner at the pirates
Cerin comes around the corner to see five individuals standing, much as his comrades are, against the wall while engaging in the dialogue. He has just enough time to notice the vast golden sword held by the captain before a woman -- clearly blind as can be -- points directly at Cerin's location and shouts "Saraj, he's right there!"
Markuran charges forward to stand beside Cerin for the clearly about-to-being smashing!!
Kai mutters "Well, shit."
Cerin lets the illusion drop and gestures for the others. He also flares his castemark.
There are five of them. Captain Saraj Darkspear is a tall, reasonably thin man of quite dashing appearance. He holds a great curved daiklave in one hand, standing at the ready.
Officer Zahara "Marku! we will NOT begin the aggression. Please do not hit people."
Markuran turns to glower at Zahara. "I do not just randomly begin hitting people."
Behind him are a large man with greenish-blue skin, carrying a great staff and wearing a sizeable amulet;
Officer Zahara emerges from around the corner shortly after Markuran, looking slightly miffed, riding a monstrous winged chimera with a metal multi-winged beast on her shoulder.
Officer Zahara "Thank you."
A thin woman, palest white with white hair and cold, unseeing eyes, in a thin dress; seven spheres of golden light circle around her;
Kai steps calmly around the corner to join the others, Daybreaker resting in her hand, not threatening but always ready.
Officer Zahara "Ah. Anathema." she smiles.
A shorter, dark-skinned woman, holding two vicious-looking orichalcum chakrams;
And a third man with a scarred face, wearing a dark hood and cloak bearing elaborate orichalcum designs upon it.
As Marku comes around the corner the other group has sprung into full battle-readiness and Saraj has begun to advance on Cerin's presumed position, though all still seem to be holding a defensive stance.
Officer Zahara slips her vision into second sight, to see the relative strength of their new 'acquaintances.'
Markuran blinks at the golden sword, but remains at the ready to charge the most dangerous-looking of the opponents. The glimmer of the Zenith shines fainlt on his brow and to anyone who can see Essence, the brawny warrior's bulk is shrouded in defensive Charms.
Saraj is in the process of striking out when he sees the flare of a Solar anima -- he stops, pulls back his blade, and after a moment, begins laughing uproariously.
Officer Zahara "Ah, I'm surrounded by them!"
The others in the group seem less willing to drop their guard, but Saraj sits down and continues laughing.
Officer Zahara grins. "So what REALLY brings you here?"
"We came to resupply! The city was empty, so we decided to snoop around." He stands up again, and looks over the Solars. "I did not expect to find more of the Sun's chosen here."
Officer Zahara "Nor did we. Did you find anything interesting?"
Markuran closely examines all the new Solars.
quindecipherable "No. Everyone appears to have vanished."
Cerin "About two weeks ago, yes."
quindecipherable "Beyond that, we're really not sure what's happened."
Officer Zahara sighs, "Any sign of why they left? I don't suppose they left a letter or some such."
quindecipherable The shorter woman sighs. "No. All the paper records seem to be in order, nothing unusual appears up until the moment of the disappearance."
Officer Zahara "I suppose actual introductions are in order."
Saraj nods. "This is Vasha, Bitter Elm, Saraya, and Revan."
Officer Zahara "I am Zahara Zhan, Dreambreaker. Cerin the Wolf, Markuran the Bear and Kai are with me. Birds of Trinity has remained behind on the ship."
Cerin introduces Ahina and the rest of his ninja, too.
Kai bows when introduced.
Saraj thinks thoughtfully for a moment. "Do you hail from the Sunlands, by chance?"
Officer Zahara nods gravely, "You've heard of us, then? I'm curious what the rumors are that have penetrated this far West."
Saraj "We've heard about how terrified the Realm had gotten of you."
Officer Zahara chuckles, "As well they should. Although we DID save them from a third circle demon the other day." she mentally adds 'kind of'
Cerin smiles softly.
Saraj "Hmmm." He nods thoughtfully.
Officer Zahara "Anything else?"
Saraj "Not much. We've been far from normal channels lately."
Saraj Bitter Elm speaks up. "Saraj, we need to leave. The shipment is on its way."
Officer Zahara "Shipment?"
Saraj smiles. "We have jade to liberate." He stands and gestures to his compatriots. "I would like to speak to you further on these matters. Take this and use it to contact us later, if you would." He presses a piece of paper with the Old Realm character for "voice" written upon it in blue ink into Zahara's hand.
Officer Zahara accepts, "I will, but before you go I have one more question."
Saraj nods. "Ask away."
Officer Zahara "Have you heard rumors of the lesser Gods Exalting their own mortals?" She gets right to the point.
Saraj "They've been practically swarming over most of the islands of late. Hard to miss them."
Officer Zahara nods. "And you know that they plan a massive, Creation-wide attack shortly?"
Cerin "Shortly is perhaps not the right word, Zahara ..."
Saraj "I suggest you pay a visit to Coral, if you're so interested in them. Now, though, we really must depart." He bows lightly and then, with his entourage in tow, begins dashing up one of the staircases
Cerin sighs softly at his foolishness, but listens to thier departure.
Officer Zahara "Well, that was interesting."
Cerin "Yes. Quite. I had hoped solar's of their power might take a slightly longer view of things than jade who'se value depends in the main on the Realm existing ..."
Officer Zahara sighs, "As did I. But I do have this." she holds up the paper, then tucks it away safely, "So we will contact them at a more opportune time."
Cerin nods. "I would like to search the town for more evidence of what might have caused the disappearance..."
The Aqueum grows silent.
Officer Zahara nods, and heads on in the most likely direction.
After a few moments, Reaver suddenly becomes strangely edgy; he dashes off down a hallway at breakneck speed and goes around a corner.
Kai "What the hell?
Officer Zahara dashes after him ^.^
Cerin listens, very carefully!
Cerin hears nothing unusual, beyond the sound of Reaver scuttling away.
Zahara chases Reaver at a breakneck speed, dashing back and forth between different hallways, before he finally ducks into one room in particular.
Cerin follows after the 3
The tiny creature walks over to a small metal chest that sits, heavily locked, in one corner. With little effort, Reaver bites off the lock, and pushes the chest open with his tiny hands.
Officer Zahara comes up behind him, "What are you DOING?"
From within, he draws out something familiar looking -- a razor-sharp metal feather, almost as large as he is.
Kai looks sidelong at her companions.
Cerin "That would explain the desertion rather neatly ..."
Officer Zahara "Indeed." she glances upward even though the sky is not visible. "Reaver, are there more of your kind here?"
Reaver claps his tiny hands together excitedly and waves the feather around in the air.
Officer Zahara "Um. Maybe he can convince them that we're friends?"
Cerin "I will go and see how many, before we consider talking with them."
Officer Zahara pats Reaver and gives him a treat
Cerin wraps himself in stealth magics and very carefully creeps up to a balcony
Cerin can hear a quiet flapping from quite a distance away -- beyond the borders of the island, but moving towards it.
Officer Zahara picks up Reaver and looks into his slightly alien eyes, "You'll be our ambassador, won't you Reaver sweetie?"
Cerin waits until they come into sight and resolve themselves into exact numbers, wondering if they fly unencumbered or with any devices ..
After a few moments, Cerin sees, still some ways in the distance, a sight he's only seen before in replay -- a great cloud of Aalorai, slowly flying towards the island.
He would estimate that there were 60 to 70 of them.
Cerin slips back down for the moment. "I feel there might be too many for us to parlay with, there are upwards of 60 of them. If negotiations went badly ..."
Officer Zahara "You think they will not notice our giagantic ship?"
Cerin "It is a ship. As long as Birds is not on deck ..."
Officer Zahara "Fine, we shall attempt to retreat then, and parlay if they come after us."
Cerin sighs. "Very well, we should talk then. Birds will be on deck ..."
As the Hundredfold approach nearer to the far side of the island, opposite where the Solars' ship is parked, Cerin notices something -- their wings begin to glow.
Cerin studies the wings closer, and any strange flows of essence that they might generate.
Cerin watches the flows of Essence solidify around the wings in a sharp, destructive pattern. As they reach a point near the shore, he sees their effect first-hand --
the creatures begin to hang motionless in the sky, and vicious bolts of light fire downwards at a small habitation upon one of the island's cliffs.
The sky is lit up so bright that only Cerin can stand to look at it for a moment; when it is over, the building is utterly levelled. The aalorai begin a slow advance towards another sign of human habitation.
Cerin "...Zahara, I think if we wish to have our ship, we would do best to parlay, run or fight."
Officer Zahara "CAN we outrun them?"
Cerin "I think if we were to move away slowly at first, as though we were drifting, then turn on the full power, we could..."
Zahara looks down at Reaver, to see if he's still happily excited. "Do you want to go back to them, little one?" she asks him gravely.
Reaver looks around a little and then grabs onto Zahara's hair with all six arms and makes a little squacking noise.
Cerin "I think that settles it."
Kai "Should we warn Darkspear and the others?"
Officer Zahara "Perhaps THIS is why they had to leave so suddenly."
Tags (:tags Unbreakable Bond, Greyfish, Solars, Saraj Darkspear, Vasha, Bitter Elm, Saraya, Revan, Solar Paper, Aalorai :)