[As One River to Another] The Wages of Thalassophobia

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[As One River to Another] The Wages of Thalassophobia

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35th of Saun 722





The guard merely looked at Tristan’s umbrella, and then shrugged, sullenly stating, “I need all my hands free, sir. But thank you for the offer.” Just so, Praetorum, Tristan as well as Gennadiya and Vivian were all let on board in their turn.

As the four arrived at the deck of the large ship that was set to disembark from Zynyx Delta’s pier, the first voice they heard on the deck came from below, and belonged to Ilaren. “What in the world is that racket! That buzzing, like a fly! Can’t you hear it?!” Despite anyone’s reluctance to hold an audience with the Immortal Sovereign of Rharne, or otherwise shyness, Ilaren wasn’t going to have any of it. She shot like a streak of lightning right to the source of the disturbance, which was…

“Praetorum, Captain of Skydas Company.” Ilaren said, smiling slightly, which faded as she stared at him. “What on earth is wrong with you?”

She approached the large ithecal, and reached up to poke him in the chest. “Hmm…” She furrowed her brow, holding her finger on his chest, and then removing it, then replacing it again. “Did you know you’re buzzing? Nobody can hear it except me, apparently, which…”

She sighed, and shook her head. “Not good. I can dampen it for now, create some interference, so that we won’t get any eavesdroppers listening or watchingi in here.” She looked up at Praetorum’s eyes, and said, “Your broadcasting to Immortal frequencies everywhere, basically.” Ilaren frowned, “Given some troubling rumors, about Valtharn and possibly other unfriendly Immortals being at large… We can’t afford to allow such a security risk. But for now, you’re good.”

She turned to the rest of the comers and arrivals, which included Gennadiya, Tristan, and Vivian. Ilaren gave them a quick glance over and a nod. She knew all three of them well, Gennadiya had comforted Ilaren once, and Tristan and Vivian of course were well-known for their heroics in the All-Tavern’s tournament, among other incidents. “What we’re about today, we won’t want to reach certain ears, depending on who might be inclined to listen. It may seem unlike me to advise discretion, but that is just what I ask of all of you.

“The plants we’ve recovered, samples are below. They appear to attach like barnacles to the hull of ships, but when inspected they don’t appear to take to any growth medium the egg-heads at the Institute have tried.”

“As for the foreign ships we’ve spotted… We could use anyone with knowledge of foreign states to try and identify their banners, in case they are familiar. We have on this ship, several people who’ve spotted these ships, and have a rough view of the banners they were flying.”

“Now, if any of you have questions, and I’m sure you do, please let them be heard now.” Ilaren stated, holding her hands on her hips as she watched them.
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Re: [As One River to Another] The Wages of Thalassophobia

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When the guard pointed out that he needed all his hands free and refused the umbrella as a consequence, Tristan inclined his head politely and stuffed the umbrella in question into his domain bag again before he made his way on deck. He was still perfectly willing to share his tea with the man, once he was done working, or had a break at least, because everybody deserved a cup of hot tea in that kind of weather in his opinion!

Once he was on the ship, he checked his equipment once more before he looked at the people he would be travelling with.

Upon seeing Vivian, his eyes lit up, and he greeted his fellow (former?) Rynmeran noble, “Vivian, it’s good to see you again! How has life been treating you since the tournament?” The last time he had seen here, she had been somewhere under the Lightning Dome, dealing with a Sessfiend, a terrible hound and a Naerikk.

He wondered what she had been up to since then!

Before long, their reunion was interrupted by a loud voice that was coming from below deck. Had Ilaren's complaint about the "buzzing" not been so strange, Tristan would likely have bowed or done one of the other polite things that you did in the company of an Immortal.

As it was, he strained his ears and looked around in confusion for a moment though because he couldn't hear anything before he quickly inclined his head respectfully and turned to face Praetorum, Captain of the Skydas Company who had fought in the tournament.

Raising an eyebrow slightly, he watched as Ilaren poked the Ithecal in the chest and declare that nobody but her could hear the buzzing and that Praetorum was apparently ...

... broadcasting to Immortal frequencies everywhere?

"I'm sorry", he said, hoping that Praetorum didn't mind the question - he just couldn't contain his curiosity. "But why exactly are you buzzing? Did you have some sort of magical accident?" he wanted to know, because that was the most likely explanation in his opinion. If Praetorum wasn't aware of the fact that he was buzzing - which seemed to be the case - then it was unlikely to be magic or a blessing or something similar that you usually knew about.

Tristan himself had never buzzed, but he had meowed due to an alchemical mishap once!

“Tristan Venora”, he added, in case Praetorum – or some of the other people on the ship – didn’t know who he was.

When Ilaren turned to look at the rest of them, Tristan left Praetorum alone again and focused his entire attention on the Immortal. Upon hearing that she was concerned about people listening, he told her in a polite tone of voice,

"I brought Chester with me again, Ilaren. If someone is spying on us, he might be able to tell us more. He is very good at telling if people are spying on us, and he knows a lot of languages", he explained and smiled.

Chester was a diri that loved compliments, so, hopefully he'd appreciate those words!

“Who are you worried might be listening though?” he asked a moment later, in a much more serious tone of voice and added, realizing that there were likely things that she was unwilling to share, for a variety of reasons, “If we are allowed to know, that is.”

"With that being said, I have a few questions on those strange plants",
he continued. "Have your scientists tried growing them in soil that is not from Rharne? It's also possible that they might grow in alchemically enhanced soil. I can give that a try if you want", he offered.

"Furthermore, did the people that touch those plants suffer any ill effects?" he continued, as that was always a concern when you were dealing with unknown substances.

"I'd like to talk to one of the scientists that initially studied the plants, provided that one of them is on the ship and take a look at those plants myself", he decided as that might ultimately be more helpful than trying to get the information from Ilaren. Besides, Ilaren probably had a lot of other important things to do – and other questions to answer. "I might also be of some help when it comes to identifying those banners. I lived in a fair number of different places since I left Rynmere, including Scalvoris and Melrath", he continued.

"It's good to see you again", he finished with a light smile before he fell silent again and looked at her, and the other people on the ship, expectantly.
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Re: [As One River to Another] The Wages of Thalassophobia

The young woman walked around the boat and noticed Pra standing on the boat already. She smiled and walked over to the Ithical, who she had meet on occasion during the siege. “It is good to see you again Praetorum.” She said in greeting, and would bow her head in greeting unless he was open for a hand shake which she was more then happy to offer. The two weren’t overly familiar with each other but it was enough for the young woman to consider him a friend. “I hope all has been well with you?” She asked. Genna was aware that they were there for a reason and so didn’t drag out the greetings, unless he Prae wanted to.

The healer noticed Vivian stepped onto the ship, but was approached by a young man before Genna could approach. She just smiled at waved in greeting and turned to take in the rest of the ship. They didn’t have to wait much longer before Ilaren came on board and well, made an entrance. The young woman found the Immortal and interesting study, as Ilaren was a very boisterous individual. Genna wondered secretly if that was because of her domains and so just who she is, or if it was because as an Immortal there was little to fear.

Genna wasn’t exactly sure what the Immortal was talking about, but listened and made mental notes about what was being said. Something about Prae was being loud. Genna wondered if it was connected to magic, a subject she wasn’t overly informed on, or maybe he had a curse from some Immortal. Which was also possible.

Either way Genna watched and listen and Tristan suddenly seemed very interested in what was happening. Genna’s eyebrow rose at the comment about not letting anyone listen. She turned and looked at Ilaren as the Immortal looked at her. She gave her a curtsy and smiled at her. Genna liked the Immortal even if she hadn’t chosen to deeply follow her domains.

Genna approached the young man called Tristan who was asking about the plants. Smiling she said. “I am Gennadiya, I believe you said your name was Tristan. Pleasure to meet you.” She then fell silent and listened to what he said. She nodded her head in agreement with the questions. After he asked about the Alchemist soil Genna added. “Has anyone tried to uses the growth abilities provided by Moseke’s mark?” She asked in addition as if they hadn’t there was an option there. She didn’t really have any other questions at this point since Tristan asked some good starting questions.
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Re: [As One River to Another] The Wages of Thalassophobia

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Vivian grinned at Tristan as he called out to her. "Not much. Went to visit my sister over in Scalvoris. You?" she said, her tone cheerful. Then she looked over at Ilaren as the Immortal started complaining about some sort of racket, then stormed over to Praetorum and explained that he was buzzing. Since she couldn't hear it, she assumed he was buzzing to some sort of Immortal frequency. Ilaren did something to dampen the sound, then turned and briefed the group as a whole. So there were weird plants showing up and the ships were flying unknown flags. Vivian wasn't the most adept at the foreign affairs, but she figured that it would be good to take a look at the flags just in case. But first, it was time for questions.

That said, Vivian really only had one question at the moment. "Have the ships made any hostile moves at all? Or, for that matter, attempted to communicate?" she asked, her tone calm. Okay, so it was two questions, but they were connected. Tristan and Gennadiya both asked good questions of their own, but Vivian admitted that she wasn't hugely concerned about the identity of any potential enemies at the moment. Given Rharne's luck, particularly with Syroan cultists, she was taking it as a given that they were always being spied on at the moment. With the shapeshifting that Syroans appeared to have at their command, they didn't even know what their enemies looked like. But she'd learned from Rhaum, and she didn't let that bother her. If they could nothing to about being watched, all they could do was keep going forward regardless and let their enemy give themselves away trying to stop them.

For now, however, she went to speak with the people who had seen the flags, to see if she recognized any of them, then went below decks to take a look at the plants. She was not particularly knowledgeable about plants, but if something stuck out to her, then it was worth it to know. She also tried applying a shock from Palenon to one of the samples to see if it reacted at all. She did think about seeing how it reacted to Brightgleam water, but she didn't want to burn her daily use of the Oasis on a plant sample.

When all that was done, she went back on deck, careful to keep her gaze on the ship beneath her feet rather than looking out over the water, and approached Ilaren. "It occurs to me, with our recent troubles with Syroan cultists, it's probably wise to assume any major operation is being watched by those damned shapeshifters. Do you have a way to tell if one of them is on board?" she asked, making sure to keep her voice low. She wasn't sure who else might have figured out they might be being spied on, but making the soldiers suddenly suspicious of each would be very, very bad. If Ilaren could do something, great. If not, well, she'd dealt with being spied on before. She didn't like it, but she'd do her job regardless.
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Re: [As One River to Another] The Wages of Thalassophobia


Prae stepped gingerly onto the ship, already resigned to having to deal with it. It was unsettling, to be on the water but not in it. It was tempting, in truth, to start hovering over the ship instead of standing on the deck, but he refrained from doing so. That was his spark talking—and Prae knew better than to let his spark decide these things for him.

Someone approached, and Prae looked down to find a familiar face. “Gennadiya.” He smiled. Her name tasted like the smell of fresh grass, a much more pleasant flavor than many other words. “It’s good to see you as well.” Reaching out, he shook her hand. “I’ve been busy, lately, but things are going well enough. I hope things are well for you as well.”

That was as much as Prae was able to say, before a loud shout from below deck interrupted him. Then, there was a flash of lightning, and Ilaren appeared before him, and began to speak.

Buzzing? Broadcasting to Immortals?

Security risk?

Prae’s head swam at the sudden revelation, but he quickly gathered himself. “Thank you for telling me,” he said. “Once this is over, might I ask you to help me figure out more about this buzzing, if you have the time? I take it that if I’d be a security risk here… I would be as well in other situations.”

Someone else spoke, a human who looked vaguely familiar, but who Prae didn’t think he’d ever actually met. “Praetorum,” he said at Tristan’s introduction. “Good to meet you. I don’t know why I’m buzzing, honestly. I’d very much like to find out.“

Ilaren continued then, speaking of plants and flags. Tristan and Gennadiya asked interesting questions about how the plants worked, but Prae was more concerned with the why. “They only attach themselves to ships? Do you know if your scientists have checked if they attach to other types of wood? If it attaches to any wood, that might be natural, but if it only attaches to ships… that seems deliberate. In the worst case scenario, these plants could be some form of weapon against a navy.”

“As for the flags, I could try and help identify them. I’ve been to quite a few places along the eastern and western continents.”
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Let's play 'What's Weird About Prae'

Head

  • A fiery rune shines under his right eye
  • A firey glow in the back of his mouth

Arms

  • A ring of blue runes floats over each of Prae's wrists
  • A silver shield marks the back of his right hand
  • A ring of light around his left forearm

Misc

  • His tail is about eight feet long, usually knotted around his waist
  • His body temperature is uncomfortably high

Surroundings

  • Wind gusts with every step he takes
  • The area around him is slightly more static-y than normal
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Re: [As One River to Another] The Wages of Thalassophobia

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“Worry not, Duke Venora.” Ilaren said politely to the Rynmeran noble. “This is my personal vessel. There are no spies among us here. But I am concerned that our comrade Praetorum has this curious affliction.”

Nevertheless, as Tristan spoke of Chester in such favorable terms, he’d hear the diri purr in pleasure, though he didn’t make himself visible unless or until Tristan allowed him to. “I can!” Chester assured Tristan, when it was said that he could sense anyone whispering or spying in such a way on the ship.

“Well, it’s good to see you as well, Tristan.” Ilaren told him. “As for the plant matter and flags…. They’re being stored in my cabin. I’ll bring anyone who wishes to see them if they follow me…”

That said, she turned to Gennadiya, and gave her a nod in greeting, “No, we don’t have anyone marked by Moseke on board. But you can certainly give it a try.” She nodded.

Finally, Ilaren turned toward Vivian, “The ships haven’t made any hostile moves. It’s almost as if a traveling calm has taken them, they just sit idle on the open seas, not far from the Zynyx Delta. As for communications? Nothing other than the torn up flags we’ve found amidst some flotsam that we believe is from their fleet.”

When Vivian voiced concerns that the shapeshifters might be aboard, Ilaren shook her head, “This is my personal vessel Vivian. I’ve hand picked everyone who is here, apart from you who have just arrived, but I’m sure I trust all of you are who you present as?” Ilaren chuckled darkly, only briefly taken by the humor of her statement. She shook her head, “No, if there are any shapechangers aboard, they wouldn’t be able to hide from me.”

“No, the main concern is… Well there are reports that Valtharn was seen.” Ilaren’s expression took on a deadly serious aspect, as she said it. “I don’t put total credence in that rumor, but I thought it was worth informing people, in case they should run across her.”

Ilaren nodded toward Praetorum, “I’m concerned about his whole… buzziness. But I suppose it’s possible we could turn attempts to spy through him to our advantage? But that would be foolhardy at best. So for now I’ve stifled his broadcast.”

Finally, having briefed Vivian, she gave her one last comment, “If you don’t mind, Commander Sleuth, I’d trust no one more than you to command the deck while I take these three into my cabin to see what they can make of the evidence we’ve gathered so far.” So saying, she patted Vivian on the pauldron, “I’d have you command our men to disembark, and make for the Delta, and the seas beyond. We’re going to investigate these rumors for ourselves.”

This command issued, she moved past Praetorum, Tristan, and Gennadiya, beckoning them to follow her, which she led them to the main castle of the ship. She answered Praetorum’s questions on the way, “They have attached to the flotsam it seems, but they don’t really… take root in it, for lack of a better term. We haven’t found anything that they can adhere to. They were merely wrapped around the flotsam we found.”

Inside the cabin, they’d see a large white sheet drawn over the table, with the plant samples. They resembled strange vine-like parcels, red stems with black leaves and bulbs. As well, were some tattered banners. Most of the sigils on these banners were unfamiliar to them, but to Tristan, and Praetorum, they would notice some familiarity to the Mervarians of Melrath. Yes, they would be sure that these emblems had been seen during their time in Melrath.

“Any ideas?” Ilaren asked them, as she watched the three examine the objects. “We have our own theories, but I’d like to hear what you think of these, first?”
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You can ask me questions for the purposes of your response, regarding the flags/plants/ and the results of whatever you might try to do with the plants in experimentation. Let me know![/ooc]



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Re: [As One River to Another] The Wages of Thalassophobia

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“I’m indeed Tristan“, the young (former?) duke confirmed when Gennadiya approached him and extended a hand for her to shake before he remarked, smiling slightly, “And you are Gennadiya Lyosha, the head of the Order of the Adunih in Rharne, am I right?” he asked, because he wanted to make sure that he hadn’t gotten her name wrong before he turned to answer her question. “I don’t have Moseke’s mark – I bear Vri’s, Vhalar’s and Zanik’s blessings – but I have a magic watering can that seems to make the plants watered with it healthier. It might be worth trying?” he mused, although a part of him was reluctant to do that. If the strange herbal matter turned out to be dangerous, he definitely didn’t want it to be healthy and grow quickly.

With that thought in mind, he turned to listen what Vivian and Praetorum had to say. When Praetorum told him that he didn’t know why he was buzzing, he momentarily furrowed his brow before he smiled at the Ithecal and remarked, “Maybe we’ll figure it out on this journey. It’s good to meet you too - or rather meet you again. I watched you fight in the tournament. I volunteered as a healer there”, he explained.

“That’s a big relief, Lady Ilaren”, he remarked when the Immortal assured him that there were no spies here before he turned to Ilaren who seemed to be extraordinarily pleased.

“You can make yourself visible as long as we are among allies”, he told him and grinned.



Once inside, he turned to inspect the tattered banners first because foreign ships seemed like a bigger concern than strange plants to him. A few moments later, he looked up again and furrowed his brow. “I’ve seen those emblems during my time in Melrath”, he told Ilaren. “These are the emblems of the Mervarians – or they do at least resemble them. The Marvarians are the navy of Melrath. If they are here …”

He broke off and shook his head before he turned to Ilaren. “I’m not sure if I’ve already told you, but I left Melrath due to an impending catastrophe”, he admitted and shared what had happened with her. “The Tunawa that I saved talked about the Creeping, Sleeping Heart that will consume all of Melrath, spirits, mortals, and all. A shaman of the Aesir named Jasper was by my side that trial. He had a vision of the Creeping, Sleeping Heart, of vine-line tentacles crawling across the ocean floor and onto the beaches of Noatun, a settlement in Melrath.”

“And then there’s the matter of Vitra and Vynmur’s other ‘daughters’”,
he continued, repeating exactly what the Elder had said – due to Vri’s Blessing he could remember everything he had ever experienced perfectly which definitely came in handy in situations like this one. “Something was going on in Quacia before or at the same time that we were dealing with the Creeping, Sleeping Heart in Melrath. Ilaren”, he said in a very serious tone of voice, ignoring the fact that his heart was beating more quickly now. “I think whatever happened in Melrath – and perhaps in Quacia – might be here now. I would advise anybody who investigates to tread with utter caution as this might mean doom for all of us”, he warned her.

“The mention of vines in the ocean and foreign ships immediately made me think of the events I was a part of. Maybe I’m wrong, and it’s just a standard foreign invasion though. I hope it’s just a standard foreign invasion”, he muttered, because those were probably relatively easily dealt with, especially if an Immortal was in charge of your nation. “Has anybody ever tried to make contact with the ships? Are there people on them? What about those supposed scouting parties?” he wanted to know.

Melrathi just invading Rharne seemed unlikely to him, unless they were really, really desperate – or crazy. Maybe, they were refugees though, or maybe they had come here to warn them all that the treat of the Creeping, Sleeping Heart was not over yet – or maybe all of the passengers were dead and had been consumed by the Creeping, Sleeping Heart.

“I’m not sure if trying to grow those plants is a good idea anymore, in light of that, but perhaps, we could learn something helpful by examining them – with the appropriate safety measures, of course. I’m quite familiar with all kinds of plants, but I could use the help of a doctor of your skill, in case there is a medical – or toxic - component”, he remarked to Gennadiya and handed her protective gloves, a face mask and even goggles and a foldable hat. Maybe, he was overreacting, but then again, if these were dead Creeping, Sleeping Heart pieces, he definitely didn’t want to touch them with his bare skin – or accidentally get something in his eyes, his mouth or his nose, and possibly end up just like those poor Tunawa he had seen in Melrath.

“If you, Lady Ilaren, and you, Gennadiya, think that it’s a good idea, and we shouldn’t just toss those things back in the ocean”, he remarked and waited for their replies. He definitely wouldn’t do anything unless Ilaren agreed right now; and besides, he couldn’t help but wonder …

“What do you personally make of my story and my suspicions, by the way, Lady Ilaren?” he asked the Immortal and looked at her with curiosity.
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