• PM To Join • 1.3 The Landing

Alas for Valaris Part 1, Chapter 3.

With the escalation of hostilities between Etzos and Rhakros, a series of small walled towns is being established as a network of early warnings and defenses against Rhakros' reprisals. Only the very bravest and most formidable of characters should risk themselves on the Witches' Wilds frontier.

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Llyr Llywelyn
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1.3 The Landing

Mon Sep 21, 2020 8:19 pm

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VALARIS: THE FIRST EXPEDITION
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25 SAUN, ARC 720

The trip over the Orm'del Sea had gone a lot better than the last time Llyr Llywelyn traveled over that particular body of water. He had gotten a little better at such travel, though his stomach churned slightly even as they got off the ship at the vaguely familiar docks of Foster's Landing.

Llyr remembered the last time he'd come through here... when Hazel had still been alive, and he had lost her in the crowd of refugees. It'd been chaos, a packed mess of panic while people tried to flee the first waves of Lisirra's plague army. Llyr stood on the pier, his luggage slung over his back and in his hand, and he could almost see the memories play out before his multicolored eyes. When Oceta had gone looking, when Hazel had gone missing, the two orphaned boys who had no one to help them... when he sat with Kasoria at the inn across the way, and convinced the old assassin to help him get to Etzos.

He wondered what might have happened differently, if he had gone with Ambassador Jorsie instead. If he had placed his faith in the shadowy figure of Vuda. Llyr didn't believe he'd be here as he was now. He might never have thought to go to Viden, or attend school, or any of it. His life could have gone on a different path entirely...

...but it hadn't, and now Llyr stood on the docks, almost confused by how calm everything was in the port city. At his back, he could almost feel the ghost of Hazel hovering nearby. She wouldn't show herself while around so many people, though.

Llyr glanced north, where he knew the southwood river led to Etzos. He wondered how his business fared, or the people he'd come to know during his time while living in the capital.

With a wave to Feno Zeilos, and a glance to make sure that his assistant kept near, Llyr headed into the city like had already been discussed. Everyone had the rest of the trial to rest, stretch their legs, and then the far smaller Etzos team would be joining the crew. Then when morning came, they would head north to Valaris.

Until then, though, Llyr had his own business to take care of. He had been planning this arrival for some time, and there were people to speak with and dealings to handle before the next sunrise. He headed off the docks and onto the cobblestone streets while he surveyed the various buildings. How different they looked, not packed to the brim and lit by the fires of terror. No soldiers marched in hurry back and forth, but Llyr did glance at a pair of Blackguards who patrolled along the main way. His halo flickered. Perhaps it would be best if he wore his ring and suppressed his sparks, but he needed his magic working at peak readiness and not just for himself but for the expedition team.

Llyr could only hope that no trouble would be made from his presence, but then the outlying towns had never seemed to care about the assassination of Marshall Webb.

word count: 555
Please — consider me a dream.
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Saza Moshe
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Re: 1.3 The Landing

Tue Sep 22, 2020 5:59 pm


25 SAUN, 720

Saza didn’t like ships. He didn’t like seas, he didn’t like lakes, he didn’t like any particularly large bodies of water whatsoever. It was just unnatural. It was interesting, to the youth, to see so much of the world that he’d never had a chance to explore… but travelling by sea? He’d preferred the ease of the Eclipse Portals, and the fact that his feet had never left the ground.

Legs a little wobbly beneath him, he followed after Llyr and exited the ship. The docks’ wooden boards were a comfort, but the stable cobbled streets beyond were better.

Saza hurriedly jotted down what he could see of the rest of their team, as they dispersed along the pier, but it wasn’t long before he had to put the journal away. Wouldn’t do him any good to trip and fall over his own feet.

What business Llyr had lined up and planned during their brief stop in Foster’s Landing, the assistant had only ideas. Whatever he needed to know, he trusted his employer to tell him, and he didn’t think it was that wild of an assumption to think that it likely had to do with the central site of his business – or with the various contacts involved.

He adjusted the wide strap of his heavy bag so that it didn’t cut into his shoulder while he walked, and then raised his golden gaze to the scenery around them.

As with everywhere else the other biqaj had taken him, in his time as the man’s assistant – Saza didn’t know much about Etzos. He’d taken it upon himself in the last few arcs to learn the basics of Ith’ession, but he hadn’t put that knowledge into much actual practice. What if his accent was just terrible? What if he said something offensive?

With a click of his tongue, Saza shook his head in dismissal of those thoughts. At least he knew something. He’d went through a phase of wanting to visit Etzos before, so he supposed he might as well let himself enjoy the experience. Right? Right. He would do just fine. Or so he tried to convince himself, and for the most part, it worked.

Saza’s gaze flitted from building to building, face to face. His bony, graphite-smudged fingers held to the strap of his bag, fidgeting with the canvas material. He threw a glance in Llyr’s direction, seemed to debate something… and then he asked, in heavily-accented Ith'ession:

“When we at first?”

...and the curly-haired assistant promptly frowned, with faintly silver-flushed cheeks. In a quick return to Common, “I said that wrong, didn't I. I could feel it. Where are we going first?”
word count: 487
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Re: 1.3 The Landing

Sat Oct 17, 2020 5:02 pm


12th Break
25 Saun, 720

Llyr walked slower, not due to sea legs like Saza but rather he kept seeing memories play out in his mind while he walked into Foster's Landing. While his assistant had eyes of gold, his own were of silver. The two biqajs walked close, but not side-by-side, as Llyr led them through the cobbled streets.

Hearing a slight click, Llyr glanced to see Saza shake his head - though he didn't know what for. He didn't care for the buildings? Or something else? Whatever the case, he didn't ask.

When he heard the Ith'ession, heavily accented and awkward though it was, one corner of his mouth twitched upward. He looked up at a nearby building while they continued to walk. He didn't need to look to know that Saza was blushing. Llyr could feel it in the other biqaj's tangle while he observed. He'd gotten rather apt at it, simply ethereally hovering over the mess of emotions while he watched them writhe untouched by any manipulation.

"Close," he replied, then repeated in the proper phrase of Ith'ession, "Where are we going first?"

Llyr paused, long enough for Saza to repeat it once or twice, then he turned sharply and said, "In here."

Through the door of a tavern and inn, Llyr slipped inside of a three-story building. The door creaked, painted on the front in white with various symbols that'd gotten chalked on by the pirates and sailors and travelers that frequented the port town. He walked with familiarity, though it'd been over an arc since he'd last been in the place - and he'd only ever visited when it was packed to the brim with desperate souls.

No one was running away from a war, or plague, anymore... but the tavern still proved busy. Every seat at the counter, taken. Every table either taken or in enough of a mess that it looked like there might be people about to come back. There were a couple men arguing at the counter, one who had an apron on, and the other who had a very tight bowtie of velvet red.

Llyr paused, in a surveyed scan, then he held up a hand to gesture for Saza to stop walking as well. He silently waved to the side, and stepped around to slightly hide in the shadow of a wooden post. He adjusted the strap of his bag, while he leaned slightly to try and hear whatever was being said.

It wasn't hard as the voices seemed in the midst of rising into shouts.

Velvet Bowtie kept pointing a gnarled finger at Apron, snarling about some no-good sister and Apron progressively turning redder in an already ruddy face. The argument consisted of swift Ith'ession rather than common. Finally, Apron tore off his namesake article of clothing and threw it at Bowtie's feet. The ruddy-faced man stomped out of the place with a slam of the door behind him.

"You can't leave!" bellowed Bowtie while he pointed at the still-swinging door. "I feking own you and your whole family, you ingrate! ...Damn. Dammit! What're you looking at? What? Everyone, out. The bar is closed."

Grumbled discontent, and louder complaints, started from the various patrons. "We just got here!" and "I haven't gotten my food yet, I paid for it!" and "One more drink, c'mon." and variations between.

Llyr glanced at Saza, then handed his luggage for the assistant to hold onto. He nodded to the other biqaj, then slid around the post in a sleek glide of his lithe body. With a swipe of his fingers through the pale locks, he fixed his hair some while he walked past the various patrons. A few Etzori stopped entirely, with mouths hung open, when they saw the mage with the blatant halo and wings. At the corner of the bar, a dark-haired woman leaned over and whispered something to the man next to her. The two both got up and left quickly.

Whether he noticed or not, Llyr didn't seem to pay the reactions any mind. Instead, he swiftly walked forward and held out his hand in a sudden offer for a shake. So sudden, and so taken aback, that Bowtie's eyes widened and he automatically placed his hand in the gloved palm of the mage's for a firm shake of greeting.

"You appear to be having some trouble," said Llyr with a look of concern over his youthful features. He spoke in near flawless Ith'ession, though flourished with his southern accent. "Am I right to assume that your staff has walked out?"

"Ye-yeah, who... that halo... Who are you?" asked Bowtie while he rubbed his hand against the front of his jacket as if uncertain whether the mage was contagious or not.

"Ah, yes, that's right. They wouldn't tell you, would they? Mm, you are Flynn, yes?"

"How... oh. OH!" The man's eyes bulged for how much wider they got. His sallow face turned paler, in a sickly way with a tinge of green to it. He looked about ready to retch.

"Yes." confirmed Llyr with a slow smile. "Poor timing, is it not? But I am here now, so... I do assume you have a place where we can talk?"

"Yes, yes... of course. Let me handle... or..." Bowtie - or Flynn - wiped away some gathering sweat from his brow. He made a helpless gesture toward the bar.

"Unfortunate timing, yes. Here, allow me to assist you," offered Llyr. He turned with a swift, almost soldierly pivot of his pointed shoes. The biqaj's gaze swept over the people - the irises a vivid color of topaz yellow. A rather charmingly sincere smile showed on his youthful features and the mage held up his hands. With the gesture, the patrons stopped their various muttered complaints and grumbles. They stared at him. "Does anyone here know how to mix drinks, or cook?"

A pause... and then a younger curly-haired woman raised her hand.

"Excellent, miss, and would you care for some nel and free food and drink for only a few breaks of work?"

"I'm sorry," she returned with a shake of her head. Her accent pitched awkwardly. "I don't know Ith'ession."

"No trouble," said Llyr with a dismissive gesture of his hand. "I had asked if anyone knows how to mix drinks or cook, do you?"

"Oh, yes, that I did understand, the... mix drinks? I used to bartend, back in Scalvoris."

"Ah..." Llyr smiled, then swapped to his rough approximations of Scalveen, a language he was still in the midst of learning. "Mix drinks for free food and for nel? Two... Four hours, most?"

The young woman pulled at a curly strand of her hair, then she nodded in agreement.

"Now, wait a moment..." started Flynn, but he quieted when Llyr simply looked at him with a flash of red that brightened the biqaj's irises.

The red was gone in the next trill, though, and back to the topaz yellow when he gestured for the young lady to come toward him. She did so, then he guided her by the shoulders to walk behind the bar counter. He set a flagon in her hand, then put her to a keg tap, and guided her to pour a beer. Once finished, he guided her back to set the beer on the counter for one of the customers.

"There's that," said Llyr. "Anyone know how to cook?"

"I do," said a scraggly-haired old man. He wobbled while he got up from the table he'd seemingly been mostly napping at. With a wooden hook cane, he made his way over to Llyr. He had a thick Etzori accent, but spoke in common. "Used to cook in my fightin' days."

"How wonderful," returned Llyr, without a hint of insincerity while he manipulated his own tangle to make himself truly care. The topaz of his eyes glinted with gold. "Would anyone like to also earn some nel to assist this veteran in the job?"

Some quiet, then a middle-aged man slunk out of his seat. He wobbled some, clearly buzzed by liquor, but managed to walk in a straight line while he said, "Free drinks, y'said? To help the old man? I can do that. Gimme a beer."

Llyr's dark brows raised, but his smile remained and then he shrugged. He clapped a hand on the drunk man's shoulder and said, "You'll make for a fine chef's assistant. Yes, indeed. Now, on with the both of you, to the kitchen!"

The biqaj folded his gloved hands in front of him, while he watched the drunk and the old soldier hobble into the kitchen together. He exhaled, as if witnessing something just so profoundly heartwarming. Then his smile vanished. His head sharply turned. He looked directly at Flynn, who'd started to take several steps toward the side door. Flynn had only just gotten his hand on the door, too.

"Is that where your office is, Flynn?" he asked in a low voice that rumbled for how deeply the pitch plummeted compared to the forced silvery tenor of before.

"N-no... u-up here," gestured Flynn with an upward point to the first floor. He dryly swallowed then led the way up the creaky wooden stairs.

Llyr gestured for Saza to follow. He had not forgotten the other biqaj, anyway, though he hardly looked at his assistant while he started up the stairs. At least until they reached the first floor landing, then he abruptly stopped. He leaned back, and spoke to Saza in common, "Do keep hold of the luggage... and keep watch. Tell me if you hear or see anything."

And so, with that instruction, he headed to follow Flynn into a shadowy office that reeked of tobacco smoke and spilled whiskey. Flynn kept the door open for Llyr, but once the pale-haired biqaj had gotten through, he started to hurriedly attempt to shut it before Saza could get inside.
word count: 1721
Please — consider me a dream.
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Saza Moshe
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Re: 1.3 The Landing

Mon Oct 26, 2020 2:14 am


25 SAUN, 720

With Llyr’s correction, Saza repeated the phrase in Ith’ession. Once, then twice, until he felt comfortable in what memorization he had of it. The words were still laced with the youth’s native accent, but his understanding of the language had improved by leaps and bounds in the time since they had left the northern city of Viden. While he wasn’t comfortable enough to speak it freely without mistakes, he was confident in his ability to understand well enough to navigate Etzos on his own.

He followed the other biqaj, with a sharp and stumbled turn, through a doorway that brought them into a tavern. Saza’s golden gaze darkened as he glanced about the establishment. Llyr hadn’t mentioned the place, as far as he could recall, and it was for that reason only that the assistant was made wary. He wasn’t bothered by the crowd or all the noise and commotion that came with it, but being unprepared… his eyes settled in a deep red hue.

The assistant stepped to the side when waved to do so. He stood beside Llyr in the shadow of the wooden post, bony hands holding to his canvas bag, though he wasn’t all that sure of what he was meant to be doing – or who, exactly, Llyr was listening to. Or was he simply waiting for something? Questions filled the young assistant’s mind, but as always – unless granted the necessary permissions to do otherwise – Saza kept them to himself and simply listened to everything he could.

As two voices rose above the rest, however, it was easier to tell what his employer was trying to listen to. Saza leaned a little closer, not to intentionally lean over Llyr’s shoulder, but it happened that way anyway and he wasn’t mad about it because why would he be? It was Llyr. Just Llyr. Just his shoulder, at that, which just happened to be connected to his neck and his pretty pointed ear that Saza wasn’t getting distracted by or thinking about how Llyr would react if he just gave it a little kiss, because he had other things to be thinking about and he was a good assistant, totally on task, doing nothing but listening to…

“Ouhf, Saza’s bright yellow eyes widened as Llyr turned and pushed the luggage into his arms. A glance to the side told him that one of the men from the loud argument had already left the establishment, but he’d failed to notice when he did.

Carrying both the lighter and the heavier of their bags now, the Nasha readjusted his hold to try and keep everything from dropping. “Shit,” he grumbled, red eyes darting down while Llyr walked off. Saza set everything down, frowning all the while, and then took a deep breath to steel himself. He could do this… he could do this.

Saza picked everything back up with a new (and slightly frustrated) determination. He held it all, this time, and remained near to the wooden post to await his employer’s next instruction. Red eyes wandered the scene, taking in all that he could – faces, accents, foreign words – and he did his best to commit all that he could to memory. If his hands were free, he would have jotted it all down in his journal… but as it was, the youth could only observe.

Once Llyr had finished getting the tavern back into working order, Saza stepped forward with the expectation of receiving some instruction of his own. No words were spoken, not in his direction, but he followed after Llyr and the man he’d called Flynn. The assistant moved slower up the stairs, arms straining with the weight of all their things, and he took a moment to adjust again once he reached the first floor. He considered himself fortunate that Llyr took the time to stop as well, though the older biqaj only did so to say:

“Do keep hold of the luggage... and keep watch. Tell me if you hear or see anything.”

“Mmh,” Saza nodded, “yes. Right.”

He might not have known what he was meant to be listening or looking for, but he could do that.

Llyr continued on to follow after Flynn, and Saza moved to do the same… but before he could manage to get into the shadowy office, the owner started to shut the door.

“Oh, hey–” the biqaj stepped closer to the door, but with how slowly he went and how quickly Flynn moved, it was shut in his freckled face. Saza stumbled back, and his eyes flashed yellow for a trill – hadn’t Flynn seen him? He couldn’t have forgotten him so quickly… unless…

A heavy sigh left Saza’s lips. Right, it had been intentional. He turned around, taking care to keep hold of the luggage, and he leaned back against the wall beside the closed office door.
word count: 846
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