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Faith and Padriag look for Treid's remains

It is said that when the Immortal Treid was slain, his heart was buried in the shadows of the ice, cursed by the Immortal Audrae. His people built a city atop the frozen wasteland in hopes of one day finding it and resurrecting their fallen leader.

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Mon Apr 24, 2017 4:51 am


Gods Only Know
Vhalar 21, arc 716, Oscillus
Continues from here...
Faith's rope did not look to be long enough to reach the bottom of the chasm before them. Strangely, the surroundings offered no immediately-apparent help. Battle raged outside of the Tomb of Tried once again. It had paused briefly as all stopped to stare in shock and wonder at the burst of blazing ice that had shattered the roof and cascaded horizontally across the sky in every direction.

Now it seemed that a determination to see there be some point in that Immortal sacrifice was the motivation for the renewed fury of the Heroes of Idalos to bring blade and bludgeon to the forces of Lisirra, Syroa and Aelig. It was becoming ever less sure that Audrae had been as much a part of this conspiracy as the other three. Some even spoke of her being responsible for the undoing of their plot.

Even those voices quieted again though, at the reminder that her reprisal appeared to have been what had riven the frozen static body of the Ice Lord, Treid, into those same shards that filled the early morning with showers of shooting stars. In addition to this upward blast of crystalline essence, the classic law of physics that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, was now displayed before the two absentees from the warfare outside the tomb. A deep and rugged chasm now opened before them, rent into the icy surface by the same blast that had spread Treid's shards through the sky.

But it was not cowardice that stayed their presence from the madness outside. Promises, oaths, and vows were the merit of their descent into this chasm. Promises to a goddess, oaths of obedience and partnership, both to her and to each other, and yet-unspoken vows of love paired this two into a single team that now searched for additional line to reach the unseen bottom of the crevasse. The Goddess' demands of Faith's purpose gave no choice in the matter. And Padraig would not leave her to face the depths alone.

Much of the wall had been collapsed from the blast, the doorway outside being a fair portion of the rubble that now blocked their view of the ongoing carnage. As well, Padriag was largely unarmed at this point; and Faith had only her gladius. And the arrival of reinforcements made any struggle to find a safe route to the outside essentially pointless.

It would, however, be fair to say that curiosity was a nearly equal motivating factor here. The heart of an Immortal had shattered and scored a trench in the planet's surface. One born of the cataclysmic malice of the Queen of Deception. Inadvertent or not, who knew what might be found below? It seemed even the Spiritkeeper did not know.

Faith was prepared to do her Matron all within her ability to find out. Though her spelunking kit was not a thing she regularly carried into battle, and had not this day either, She had experience in its use. Their quick run down the stairs had passed a quartet of naerikk, that had broached the stairs in two teams of two, both accompanying a prisoner they had anticipation of binding at some point. Upon their bodies there was ample rope to be found.
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Mon Apr 24, 2017 2:17 pm

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"I have to go down there," she had said and half of her had expected him to try and order her to not do so, or to physically move her away. Of course, he didn't. He didn't say anything, did not explain why, but Padraig stayed with her. Faith looked up at him and, as they inspected the chasm she smiled at him, "Thank you."

Her rope was not long enough, not by a long shot, but there had been bodies further up. "We should equip ourselves as best we can." Faith moved to go to the bodies. Kneeling next to them, Faith muttered a prayer as she started to move, "May Vri greet you and take you to where you should be, and Famula's lantern guide you in service." Then, she individually touched the forehead and heart of each of them, Naerikk or their prisoners, and closed their eyes, her prayer as heartfelt for each. "Rest head and heart and see this world no more through waking eyes, safe in the embrace of Famula, safe in the arms of Vri." It was not as much as she would like to do, normally, but she was here with a job to do. So, she checked the bodies for anything useful, suggesting that he did the same. She gathered up the rope and then looked for weapons which might be useful for them, torches to see and anything which could be beneficial to them.

If there was only one sword, then she handed it to Padraig and would be content. If, however, there was a longer blade which was suitable for her also, she would take it. Crossbows, too, if possible, or any kind of ranged weapon.

Once they were as equipped as they could be, she stood up and her face had the kind of grim determination which meant that she was afraid. "If you would help me get down there, that would be more than anyone would expect you to do." He was a free man, after all, and he was taking a ridiculous risk for a slave. Repeating an analogy she had used previously, although it hadn't gone down well at that time, she explained how it was. "If you come with me, you are risking your life for a teapot. That seems most unscientific."

The look he gave her silenced any ideas of her getting him to stay behind and she met his gaze levelly. "Who knew teapots could be grateful? Or pleased for the company. Well, best stop dawdling, then. Enough hanging around here." Once they had the rope, there was plenty of rubble, some of it fairly huge that they could use to secure the rope to. However he wanted to do that was fine with her; he was the physicist after all and to each their own.

Then, tying themselves however he had worked it, Faith looked at Padraig and wanted to say a hundred different things. That was what freedom was, she realised; the ability to say what you wanted to say, when you wanted to say it. To be able to express emotions, to be allowed to feel them. The simple choice to tell someone what you feel for them in a moment before you both might die. What it must be to be free, she considered and she smiled at him.

"Race you down." Faith said, and started the descent.
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Mon Apr 24, 2017 4:42 pm

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The battle outside, the miraculous arrivals, who was who and who was to blame...The questions of whodunnit and why, were things to ponder later, so far as Padraig was concerned. His most immediate one was that he and Faith had crawled down into what had become a giant hole, and were staring down into an even larger one. It was folly to go down there into the unknown, when the known was treacherous enough.

He could refuse and forbid Faith to do it. He was free born, as she liked reminding him, and her a slave. And all it might take was a word and a gesture to stop her. And yet Padraig wouldn't do it, because to him at least, she wasn't a slave but a woman with a mind and will of her own. At least it was how it ought to be. So while he couldn't tell her how he felt about her, probably never would be able to, he could at least by his actions reflect what he'd maintained any number of times by now.

And if she was going, then she wouldn't be going alone. Besides, he'd a powerful thirst of his own. Curiosity. He wanted to know what was down there. As for the bodies, the attention she paid them...even those who'd been the enemy, was a curiosity all it's own. He wasn't sure he'd have done it. But on the other hand, the suggestion that he search the bodies for anything useful rubbed him the wrong way just a little. Looting bodies didn't come easy to the conscience.

At the least however there was plenty of rope, and if there was a sword to replace his lost one, and a crossbow and bolts, he'd take those as well. "You think I'm going to let you go down there without me?" he responded dryly, once they were back to contemplating the chasm in front of them. There were any number of reasons he wouldn't. The least of which was a desire to return her to a buffoon of a master who, if he'd had any backbone at all, would be here with her instead of him. Protecting her, both from everything else and from herself as well.

"Besides," he said as he picked up the rope and cut off a small length from one end. "Why should you have all the fun? No scientist worth his salt would pass up a chance to see what's down there." No racing though, he told her. And in fact, depending on the length of rope they had, they might need to go down one at a time. He'd never developed a habit of scaling walls, natural, man-made or otherwise. But as a physicist, it wasn't too much of a trick to figure out the best, and safest way to do it.

So asking Faith to wait, he tied the newly cut bit of rope round a sturdy...something or other that wouldn't give way to their weight. Then he took the rest of the rope and looped it through the tied off part so each end could slide freely, but with just the right amount of resistance. A pulley, he told her as he tied one end of the rope into a sort of harness that would support both the backside of a climber, and the torso as well. If there was enough rope for two pulleys, which mean enough to to cross the distance four times to the bottom, then two it was.

But if there was only enough for one, he'd go first, insisting that he wanted to make sure it could bear his weight. And if it did, then it would surely bear hers when he sent the harness back up. "This way," he said as he put the harness on and slipped over the edge and held to the other, loose bit of rope, "There's always tension, there's always a way to stop yourself from a free fall." Hold on to the loose end and let it out slowly as she went, he told her, and use whatever footholds she could on the way down.

So either way, if it was him then her, or them both together, they'd have their safest way down, and the safest way up again should they not be able to find another way out. "No racing," he said with a smile as they began the descent. Slow and easy, and safely till they reached the bottom in one piece.
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Thu Apr 27, 2017 6:04 am

The two searchers reached the bottom safely enough, though they could plainly tell that there were several varying depths to the "bottom" of the chasm. There was one plus to the frigid temperature, in that the icy surface was not slippery. It was actually more like the phenomenon of having your tongue stick to an icy pole. Until there was enough warmth to cause some degree of "melt" to the ice, it would possess reasonably good traction.

This was true of the many different directions the two could choose from. It was difficult, however, to determine which were actual passages, and which were just the reflections of these passages shining back on the many smooth surfaces facing them from every angle. Even the few images that reflected from ice with cloudy impurities could not immediately be discerned from passages that had frigid mists hanging in their depths. It would require some effort to discern which were which, if one did not wish to get repeated bruises on their face from walking into walls.

While they both had assumed the entire chasm had been formed by the explosion in the tomb above, it was now plainly evident that the blast had opened a chasm that had simply unsealed and connected to some cavern below. With some study, and visual cross-referencing, the two could see that there was one level passage to their right, that would head in a generally southern direction towards Lake Terminus; an opposite stretch that had a downward trend to the north, and a broken, difficult rift that looked to tuck under the western mountains.

Of course, any of these three passages promised numerous zones of tight squeezes and rough climbs over frozen debris, as well as forks at which additional directional choices would need to be made. What other surprises may be on the trails could not be guessed. At this time at least, there were no sounds beyond the moaning of the downdraft from the tomb. It was only natural that a moaning sound, emanating from a known tomb, could be unsettling. But what was worse was that initial attempts upon each of the three directions brought no change to the volume or timbre of this sound. It seemed that this gloomy sound was to accompany them no matter which way they went.

While their shared company was a considerable proof against any demoralizing effect from this moaning, it also served to drown out other quiet sounds, like those of the stealthy padding of predatory footfalls. It may also have gone unconsidered that with the destruction and shattering of an immortal, a fracture ought to be forming. Two such educated adventurers were certain to recall this detail when things began to depart from normal; as they did when the rise in temperature began to become noticeable.

Whether the thought that it could be some thermal anomaly, rather than the extremes of a developing fracture's effects, was good news or not was yet to be seen. But in either event, water began to weep from the walls, making the possible detection of other sources of reflected movement difficult.
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Fri Apr 28, 2017 2:59 am

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"I think 'bottom' is a relative term, mister Padraig." Her voice was a whisper as their feet at least touched the floor. Was it the bottom? She did not entirely know, but it was a floor, and that was enough. However, whilst she was content with floor as she stepped forward and walked into the wall Faith let out a little eep of surprise. "Ow," she said, with a smile. "I did that to show you the dangers of walking forward without being mindful. I hope you were paying attention?" She rubbed her nose then crinkled her face then, once she was sure that all her facial features were in the right place, Faith was much more careful.

It took some careful consideration, but it soon became obvious that this was not just a chasm created by an explosion. "I think there are three pre-existing tunnels, for want of a better word?" Just to be sure, she pointed to each one and then looked at him with a very serious expression on her face. "I am afraid that I am not good with directions or understanding them. I have turned around more than once since arriving, so I don't really know which one points in which direction." Faith's totally dysfunctional sense of direction was made even less effective than usual when underground. That took some doing, in fairness as she was usually clueless.

"I think we should go that way." She pointed towards the least hospitable, broken and difficult passageway. "The reason I think that is twofold. It appears to be going down and I believe that down is an appropriate direction." Appropriate, she understood, was relative but still. It was important that she was clear and precise. "Also, it is going down more quickly, more steeply and with a much more ominous feeling than the other downwards passage. If I was a passage leading to a dead Immortal, I would be that one."

It appeared, although by now he knew her pretty well, that she was entirely serious. She certainly was serious in terms of that being her opinion, but she was also trying to lighten the mood somewhat. "However, which ever one you pick, it is as good as any other." Her smile was tense, but she did her best to hide that. "I will comply." Not that it would be a surprise, it was somewhat both her nature and training.

As they moved forward, Faith noticed the noise, but said nothing. However, the rise in temperature caused her to consider, most carefully. "Going downhill means that we are unlikely to drown, yes?" She made her way with as much care and concern for Padraig's safety as she would always have, asking him if they wanted to tie themselves to each other, or perhaps use some other means to ensure that they did not lose each other somehow. Either way, she made sure to keep him in sight and to be ready to defend him the trill the need arose. He'd hate that, she was sure, so she didn't tell him.
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Sat Apr 29, 2017 4:27 pm

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The bottom wasn't actually the bottom, Padraig realized once they'd safely gotten their feet on solid ground again. Looking over the next impossible drop, it appeared that there a number of them instead. At least it wasn't slippery underfoot. And as a learned scientist, rather than say a ten arc old boy, had he even considered it, he knew better than to go sticking his tongue on anything.

But then the first thing Faith did was walk face first into a solid wall. Not that it couldn't have happened to him, but in spite of the treacherous conditions surrounding them, the dangers that must lie ahead, he failed to suppress the snort of amusement when she did it. Call it nervous energy, release of tension, but he couldn't help the slightest of grins when he suggested, "Might be a wise idea to proceed hand first." Outstretched, he meant, feeling as well as seeing their way along. He'd do just that, but with a sword gripped firmly in his other hand.

The moaning sound was a little unnerving, though he knew that for the most part it was caused by a draft. But a much more ominous feeling? "You make it sound so appealing. How could I resist?" he quipped when Faith suggested they go that way first. Padraig wasn't quite sure what logic led her to conclude that they were less like to drown heading downhill, rather than up. But as for the direction they'd be heading, there he could be of some help.

He'd known which was was north, south and so on while they were above ground, so since they hadn't moved yet from where they'd come down, he only had to mentally retrace their steps before studying the more difficult path she'd chosen. "That way leads west, roughly, towards the mountains. It's as good a direction as any." Of course if he didn't hear or sense anything genuinely trailing and stalking them, he might imagine he did. The place was creepy, after all.

And it was heating up too, if not at a rapid rate. If it continued, then soon the floor would be slippery he warned Faith. "I wonder if this area is volcanic," he said, as much to himself as to her. Or, well, he couldn't quite sort out the reasons just yet. But no, they shouldn't tether themselves one to the other, he told her. It could do more harm than good, should something unexpected happen. Better just to remain close within each other's sight, Padraig suggested as they proceeded downhill, and him all the while keeping an eye out for the unexpected.
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Mon May 01, 2017 4:48 am

It was not immediately noticeable perhaps, but with the sweating of melt from the icy sides of the various tunnels, even at the slow, tricking rate it was, the walls became slightly translucent. The cloudy, dry look of utter frigidity was being replaced by the wet look, which allowed some degree of depth to be perceived.

With that depth, however, came an unsettling shifting of light within the ice. Stopping and looking directly into the ice did not ever seem to reveal it, but their peripheral vision was caught with increasing frequency as the pair moved further into the icy tunnels. It was easy to pass off as just discolorations or shadings that did not actually move, but were at different depths in the walls, so that they crossed over each other as the eye moved, creating optical effects.

Eventually, if such a thought occurred to either of them, from some past research or incident, the similarity to a fingerprint, created by these lines, might be noticed. Not long after that, with more time devoted to travel, it might be noticeable as beginning to more closely resemble the vascular system; a map of veins, some of them even seeming to pulse, though it might only be their disturbed imagination playing tricks on them.

But wasn't the investigation into the death of an Immortal the demand made upon Faith's efforts by her matron goddess? And wasn't Treid known to have been the Lord of Ice? And weren't the very depths that the two found themselves in comprised of ice? Would their knowledge of a humanoid anatomy serve them where their mobility was so tightly curtailed?

The vascular system is extensive though, with any small section of it resembling many others. It would be difficult to determine to where within a humanoid body any of these patterns were supposed to correspond. But if this could be achieved, a knowledgeable searcher might discover the location of the "heart" associated with it.

And that heart began to beat...
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Mon May 01, 2017 1:51 pm

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He snorted when she bumped into the wall and Faith looked at him with an expression of resigned amusement, tinged with just a touch of accusation. "I would not have snorted if you had done that." She would have wanted to, of course but she was far too disciplined to allow herself such frivolity. Proceed hands first? "What an excellent idea." Her delivery could, now and then, match his for dry humour.

They walked, though, and as they did a few things started to impinge on Faith's thoughts. Every now and then just a fluttering of something in her peripheral vision. Looking at Padraig, she thought that she detected the same thing from him, judging by the way he would suddenly glance to his left or right, now and then. It was just eerie and it took her a moment or two, and then a few more to realise what it looked like.

Once she had, she dismissed it. That was ridiculous ~ ice was ice, it did not have veins and arteries, it did not have a pulse. But that noise, that moaning like noise? Was it downdraft or was it breathing? They moved on and the disciplined young slave did her best to not let herself get unnerved. Having failed at that, she simply did not show it, putting the feeling into her hands for later; a regular technique taught by the owners in Athart.

Another while of walking in silence and then Faith could not keep this to herself in good conscience. "Mister Padraig? I understand how this sounds, but it looks like veins and blood flow. Treid is, after all, the Immortal of Ice, I believe? If that is the case," Faith sighed and looked around. They had regular lessons, the two of them and Padraig was teaching her maths and science so he knew the expression she wore when she was thinking, considering.

"If we accept that it is possible, then we were somewhere with three exits. If that is important, well..." Faith's frown of concentration told him that she was wracking her brains. "There are two places in the body where that happens that I know of. One of them is in the heart, just above it. At our body core is where we have a most consistent body temperature, so we would not be getting hotter the further away from it we got. The other place is the Celiac artery." Faith looked around and considered. "That splits into..." Faith stopped and looked at Padraig with a slight smile as she realised that she was about to go into a long description which he really didn't need. "I understand medicine better than chemistry. I think that we might be able to find the...."

And at the sound of the beating just at that moment, Faith jumped slightly and then continued with a slight and rather tense smile. "Heart."

So, that was what she would do, try and work out by tracing back if needs be to where their options had split into three. The Celiac artery made most sense to her, but she considered that it might be the pulmonary artery also. Looking at what she could see in front of them, what they had left behind them and her medical and surgical knowledge, Faith made as educated a suggestion as she could for what they should see and which way they should go.
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Mon May 01, 2017 6:33 pm

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"No?" Padraig responded when Faith swore that she wouldn't have been amused, outwardly at least, had it been him that had begun exploring the place by leading with his nose. "I'm skeptical," he added dryly. "I think you would have been mocking me from the inside at least."

Or maybe she wouldn't have been. Maybe she'd been so thoroughly indoctrinated from birth and by a slave's life, that it wouldn't have occurred to her. But he preferred to believe otherwise. It really wasn't the time or place for lighthearted banter however. Still, it did help to ease the tension and meant that in some ways he became more aware of their surroundings. That maddening moaning and the faint sound of something else. Either that or his imagination was running away with him.

Just like his sense that there was movement in the ice, in walls that were becoming more transparent as the area area around them heated up. At first, Padraig decided it was his imagination. But then, as they traveled further along, he could hardly deny there was something strange about those walls. He was completely lacking in medical knowledge. But it didn't prevent the first thought that struck him. "It's as if it's alive. All of it."

And as the downhill path became slicker, his foot slipped once causing a clumsy stumble before he caught himself. "It's a tomb," he muttered bluntly. "The word implies certain things...Like that which is contained within it...is dead." Not so much though, especially when the faint thrumming sound reached his ears. "Are you suggesting this place is like a body, and we're inside it?"

It was unnerving to say the least, but in a completely scientifically implausible way, she might just be right. And if she was, then she'd know better which way to go than him. Though a little part of him would have voted for back the way they'd come, up the walls again and out. But considering what was on Faith's mind now, the chances of talking her out of it were slim to none. "Lead the way then," he said, but kept his close by the sword he'd picked up, all along the way.
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Thu May 18, 2017 8:02 pm

The two humans may have been able to pass off the various oddities on the basis that an Immortal's body was perhaps not bound to the same structural dynamics as a mortal's. It was also worth noting that as they continued on, the thrumming of whatever was making that beat waned sporadically in volume; disappearing entirely at times, only to pick back up again later.

Several times, they came to dead ends, the reflective surfaces creating a "house of mirrors" effect that made it difficult to be sure of any apparent passage. Many times a clear passage was discovered to have itself been a reflection on the back wall of one of these dead ends. Back tracking rarely served to provide access to that passage, and the two could only assume that some roundabout track would come upon it. Whether they would recognize it then was anyone's guess.

A new oddity presented itself slowly, seeming at first to possibly be nothing more than a flicker of an eyelid, or just a trick of the eyes, after so many breaks of largely similar lighting and color. After a few instances of stopping to rub the eyes or the nape of the neck over the course of this time, there finally came a point where neither of them could deny they'd seen an odd "strobing" of the distant icy bluish-white.

They were just perceiving the proximity of another "house of mirrors" type intersection when a darkness flashed briefly across one of the upcoming surfaces, in a manner that did not correspond to either of their movements or positions. Another flashed by on a different facing. Was it alone enough of a dampening of the light to have caused the full "strobing" effect from before?

Whether they discussed this question or not, there were other, more pressing, questions in connection to it. "What was it? What else was moving down here? Is there more than one? Are they dangerous?" To add to the strangeness of the environment, as ice melted, bit by bit, from the walls, patterns began to form in what was left still frozen. The frigid water flowed in trickles by their feet, sometimes in directions that seemed to defy gravity. But the exact orientation of up and down was no longer perfect. Often what felt like a balanced vertical stance put them at odds with the lean of the walls.

But what was left seemed to follow the sections where the ice was more white and opaque, as opposed to the clear portions. And where there was glistening smoothness to what had been exposed by melt, did not affect these areas. They retained a curious dry grain to them. It was not until the travelers passed a point where a narrow horizontal breach in the side wall exposed the wall of a distant cavern, that they could see the similarity of these white bands to the appearance of bones.

Many huge columns of ice held the ceiling of this cavern in place, but the distant rib cage effect was all too clear. It was hard to tell the distance, with the intervening surfaces all having either such opaque or reflective natures. But even as they looked, a bright streak of light, reminiscent of the shards that had shot forth from the tomb they had descended from, flew through the emptiness to disappear beyond what they could see of the cavern.

Once again, light resumed to what their torch alone provided.
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