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Qaerris
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Spider Among the Snakes (Basilisk)

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11th of Cylus, 577
The season of Cylus was hardly one that Qaerris could consider to be safe for travel. The man had clearly planned incorrectly, his attempt to visit the city for a few days before heading north failing quite miserably. Already he'd been delayed, his own travel plans thwarted as sailors deemed a trip so far for the purpose of navigating a single person completely idiotic. The Mortalborn decided that for his sake, he needed to stop and figure out his plans, for acting impulsively failed to serve him in any meaningful course. Letting his mind clear, he began his walk away from the docks, fuming.

To this point, Qaerris' life had been spent among humanoid mortals to this point, and though he knew of the Ithecal, when he had entered the city, there was nothing that could quite prepare him for the sight of them. Men and woman from the waist up, these being took the form of a massive snake from there on. It was truly something that bewildered the Mortalborn, his mind immediately going to the question of how they reproduced before he decided that perhaps some questions need not be answered. A chuckle parted his lips as he watched numerous serpentine folk pass their way through the city. However, it was not his intention to 'see the sights.' Of course, with 19 days left in the season, Qaerris would surely have to distract himself with these sights or inevitably be driven insane by the encroaching walls of the bedrooms of any inn.

Shaking his head, Qaerris approached one of the serpentine passerby, a smile gracing his features before he parted his lips to ask,

"Excuse me, miss, could you point me to the nearest inn?"

Once Qaerris was given his directions, it was an hour's walk, getting lost and needing to backtrack before at last he arrived at the place. His knapsack in tow, he paid the fee to stay before throwing his bag deciding it best to find a place to quench the thirst of a long journey. It was Qaerris' intent to go to Viden for in the city of knowledge, the Eidisi were well-versed in the ways of language. It seemed best to pick up the knowledge at the best source, after all. As Qaerris again asked for directions, he was pointed to a nearby tavern. It was there that the man at last saw the first signs of humanity. The bar was filled with individuals, all surely seeking the warmth of a brew to shake off the last days of the arc's coldest days. Shivering himself, the Mortalborn placed an order with the Ithecal bartender, who proceeded to slither across the way in order to gather the ingredients for his drink.

A breath filled the mortalborn's lungs as the first froth of a night's ale touched upon his throat, a grin cast upon his lips as he leaned back. Scratches littered the man's palms, the sign of his fall earlier in the day. The mug's chilled surface seemed to ease the wounds to an extent, numbing them as the alcohol proceeded to do the rest of the work. Qaerris sought to liberate his mind from the unease that continued to skulk about his mind. For several days the Mortalborn had had the impression that he was being followed, as if the skin at the back of his neck was being tickled by an undetectable, yet oh so real presence. Fingers felt constricted about his throat, and he couldn't fight the sensation. Rather, he would ignore it, seeking to forget. Perhaps it was the coattails of the trouble he had caused in Nashaki just a few weeks before? Perhaps he had been followed? Watched?

Or maybe, it was just the Mortalborn's paranoia, and he was entirely wrong.

Who knew?

There's no use getting so worked up about it tonight. I'll deal with it in the morning. For now... the peace of a drink will do me some good.
Last edited by Qaerris on Wed Apr 06, 2016 4:22 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 686
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Qaerris was being watched, but it was doubtful he could have picked out his watcher from among the crowd. When one looked for watchers, they tended to look for creepy, rough looking men in dark corners, their unblinking stares boring into their targets back. Not average, for a Naer at least, women sitting two tables to their left, facing away from them and apparently concerned only with the plate of steak, green beans, and fudge before them. The only thing suspicious about Ellasin was the color of her clothes, and people generally ignored even that, as they seemed to expect the Naerrik to wear black as a rule. But Ellasin was a Webspinner, and she had learned to be unobtrusive from the moment she was born, blending in wherever she was needed to carry out the orders she had been given. Which, right now, consisted of watching Qaerris in the polished shield hanging on the wall ahead of her without ever giving a sign that she cared he even existed.

Of course, Ellasin wasn't completely idle. Now that she had found Qaerris, she needed to make sure she didn't lose him again. But she wasn't counted one of Sintra's Champions because she was an amateur, like the foolish boy in Nashaki who had gotten both himself and Qaerris in trouble trying to get close enough to weave him into his web. The threads of energy Ellasin wove didn't require such close contact, though it helped some, and she had him in her web before he had finished more than a quarter of the tankard. She held back a grimace as she felt him enter her awareness, his sense of being followed giving her a feeling that her job was going to be far more difficult than it should have been.

Not that she had expected it to be easy, looking away from the shield for a moment, something that she could safely do now that she had established a connection. Her thoughts roamed back to the beginning of the day, when she had received her current assignment, directly from her mother. She had initially come to Yithiral to see if there were fragments anywhere on the little island nation, any reason for The Seekers to travel there and risk Ethelynda finding out about them. Fortunately, in Ellasin's opinion, there hadn't been and she had actually meant to barter passage on a ship out of Yithiral this morning.

She's been awoken early by the harsh cry of crows in her room, and she glared at her pet raven, Corby, and told her to shut up before curling into a ball under the blankets and hiding her head under her pillow. Then the realization of exactly what she had heard penetrated her sleep fogged mind and caused her to sit straight up in bed. Corby was in her cage, glaring balefully at the crow sitting just outside it. A second crow perched on the foot of her bed, preening itself. The third crow, for their were always three, perched on the arm of the chair Ellasin's mother sat in, grinning at her. "I remember when you used to do that as a child, Ellasin." Labrae said, her voice lightly teasing.

Ellasin just scowled at her mother before getting out of bed and gathering up her clothes, looking at her mother out of the corner of her eye. Labrae wasn't her birth mother, Ellasin had murdered both her birth parents herself on her 15th birthday, but like all Webspinners, she had been raised by Labrae and considered the Mortalborn her mother. However, it had been several years since she had seen her, several years since she had been given any orders other than, "Continue your work with the Seekers". Not that Labrae looked any different, still appearing as a lanky young woman with curly dark hair in a black shirt, trousers, and boots, and all but hidden in a too-big black overcoat.

Ellasin herself, on the hand...she was getting older. Not really old, not yet, but older. Her mother was centuries old, while Ellasin only in her late 30's, but she looked the elder. Granted, half the time she was also more mature, as this little episode proved. "I suppose some things never change. Is there a reason you couldn't knock on my door?" she asked in resignation as she found her pants and pulled them on her her night gown before she turned her back on her mother and pulled that off before pulling on her shirt, though she heard Labrae laugh a bit behind her.

"And risk both our lives? No, I don't think so. If Ethelynda found out about either of us, she would take action. Even with all your power and mine combined, I don't believe we could win that fight." she said, her voice showing concern that, despite her irritation, caused a surge of affection in Ellasin.

"Right, right. I know. Between Lethroda and Arcana, I'm a Power, but Ethelynda...I know enough of the stories that she's a Power as well, and that's before you count her martial skills. And the militia would fight at her side as well." she said, turning back to face her mother, who was grinning even more widely. "...What?" Ellasin asked in confusion.

"I've always thought that massive streak of pride you had was adorable, daughter mine." Labrae said, laughing a bit, before suddenly fixing Ellasin with a serious look. "But don't let it get too far. I can see your pride being what gets you into trouble, and it's bad enough I'll lose you to age. I'd rather have you around a long time, Ellasin." she said, her voice turning a little scared at the end.

Ellasin sighed and shook her head. "I know, mother. I won't get myself killed." she said, her voice reassuring before she sat down on the desk next to Corby and reached in to the cage to stroke the ravens feathers. "But you didn't come here to make sure I behaved. What is it that has dragged you away from the hatchlings and getting new children?" she asked in genuine curiosity. Labrae didn't leave the Webspinners island much except to take new children and bring them home, so her presence here was very odd.

Labrae smiled again and leaned back in the chair, stroking the feathers of the raven next to her in a motion identical to Ellasin's own. "We've found a new Mortalborn. Not sure who the parent is, but he's going to be here today. Sintra wants to know him, but...well, mother doesn't leave the island at all, you know. He was identified by one of your older brothers in Nashaki. Selwyn's nearly eighty now, but his mind is still good. He recognized this man from his youth. He passed it on to Joseph, one of your younger brothers who...is in desperate need of more training, as he's a bit lazy and clumsy. He nearly got both himself and the Mortalborn arrested, and very likely put the Mortalborn on guard. Others kept an eye on him until he boarded a ship that's coming here. With him so guarded, the hand of a master is needed on this. Your hand." she said, her voice warm with pride in Ellasin.

Taking comfort in that pride, Ellasin pulled on her boots and gloves before pulling her cloak around her. "I'll find out everything I can and seen if I can find a way to keep him close to me. The others have been pressuring to me to take an apprentice. You were a good student, mother, but I can't exactly claim you as such." she said, smiling warmly at her mother, who simply laughed. "How do I find him?" she asked.

Labrae simply stood up and hugged her close before letting her go and smiling. "He draws the eye. His Parent was a being of charisma, one to draw attention. You'll know him when you see him. And be careful Ellasin. We don't know how close he is to his Parent." she said, before vanishing, her crows leaving with her as Ellasin nodded and left her room.

Coming out of her memories, Ellasin looked back at the shield towards Qaerris. Labrae had been right, she had known him for something more the moment she'd laid eyes on him. What she didn't know, yet, was how to approach him without making him suspicious. Not that she was worried about it. If the opportunity didn't present itself...well, she was a Webspinner. She'd make one.
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Word of the wise. When you have the definitive sensation of being watched... it's best to extricate yourself from that situation...

The thought immediately manifested within the Mortalborn's mind. It was persistent, an aching feeling he could locate in his spine. It was a shiver that fell through his senses, and though Qaerris had never before seen or felt the effects of Lethroda before, there was no denying the feeling of significance in the air. Qaerris had learned to trust his senses, for they came in handy in life. The inheritance he was given by Zanik was not one of the mind, but of the body and the perceptions of others about him. Qaerris knew of the allure he possessed, a subtle attraction that could manifest within those who looked at him. It made him stand out among a crowd, a vivid fire in the candle light of his peers. But, being that fire in this moment only resulted in the sensation having all the more merit. If a being sought him out, it was only a matter of following the turned gazes and finding the Mortalborn, who in the throes of his arrest, felt quite paranoid to begin with.

What had happened in Nashaki that had put the Mortalborn so thoroughly on guard? Some raving idiot had decided to cling far too close to the Mortalborn, following him for days on end until at last, Qaerris had formed a plan to catch the individual. It wasn't incredibly well thought out, but he had succeeded, only to repel the stalker rather than seek him out and question him. It only made sense that Qaerris could not track down and capture his prey. After all, in the 250 plus years of his current existence, he had never seen the need to actually defend himself. His youth could be quantified as the era of the beautiful slave, for he had been in chains but never treated so harshly. Truly, in his youth, he'd never felt like a slave to begin with, supported by his birth mother and beloved by the wife of his master. He'd nearly been taken by the woman, though his master had different intentions in that time. Sold about and eventually able to escape his bonds, it was a rather simple existence that Qaerris had known himself to be in.

Yet he craved more. It was the apex of the Mortalborn's existence and the best he felt himself capable of in his life was the ability to woo. Useful in its own right, but if Qaerris ever wanted to advance in his existence, he needed to expand to greater heights. The Mortalborn, of course, did not extend this belief to the fact that he need rise to great heights in martial knowledge. The military and their training were laughable, for mortals so heavily clung to life in their walls, fleeting and pathetic, that he need not contribute to either. As a Mortalborn, the unique perspective of watching time fly by as one remained preserved, beautiful, young... It was a truly beautiful existence.

But what does THAT have to do with now, idiot? Reminiscing isn't going to get you out of this situation again. It's not going to make you any less useless than you are now.

The Mortalborn counted his ability to spy intriguing individuals out of a crowd as one of his strengths, though as he looked before him, he found nothing that was particularly exciting. There were several men who were doing as he was, drinking and letting the eve' piss away. As Qaerris took another sip of his drink, the froth settling in his throat in a most satisfying reverberation of flavours, he let his gaze drift from the males of the tavern, who seemed far too occupied with vacating their glass to fill it with more of the same. When Qaerris' attention shifted to the females, sparse and all looking quite busy with their own pursuits, he found a number of them simply engrossed in conversation with one another.

More than likely they're seeking to avoid the crass attention of the drunkards who pollute the rest of the place... However,

Qaerris found himself directed next towards a woman sitting alone. She seemed engrossed in nothing more than her food and a shield that was posted at a nearby wall. Reflective and shiny, Qaerris for the life of him could not see what else was so intriguing about it. Creasing his brow as he shifted slightly in his seat, it was better served in his case to invite the woman, who had neglected to buy herself a drink, to enjoy on with him. It would never occur to him that she was walking straight into the trap he so wanted to avoid. After all, what threat was this-

Oh, she's a Naer, he thought to himself as he advanced, noting the incredibly bright eyes that he'd stared into on more than one occasion in his short, incredibly eventful and horribly tragic trip to Augiery.

I almost died there. Should I get away? Nah, Augiery wasn't all bad...

Moving first towards the bar, Qaerris ordered himself two mugs, setting himself directly across from the Webspinner as he asked,

"Would you like a drink?"
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Ellasin bit back a curse as Qaerris stood up and walked over to her table. Of course he would have a significant-to-his-future sense or something that led him to her. And then he asked if he could buy her a drink and she smiled warmly at him, hiding her relief. She tended to forget she was a Naer as well as an Arcanist and a Webspinner, and that men tended to be drawn to her kind. Foolish of them to answer that attraction, considering the temperament of most Naerrik, but then both Mortals and Immortals were drawn to that which was dangerous. And once again, for she had used her allure as a tool before, that draw served her purpose and that of those she served.

"By all means, good sir." she said, still favoring Qaerris with that warm smile. Her web told her that he was still suspicious, but she could deal with that, given enough time. And she could ensure she got that if, even if it took more effort for him than most. "If you don't mind," she said, taking the offered mug, "where are you from? You don't seem like the locals. No tail." Ellasin called again on Lethroda as she spoke, this time using Silken Tongue to make her words sweet and Eye of the Beholder to make herself look more trustworthy.

As he answered her question, Ellasin considered adding other powers to the mix. Temptations and The Art of Persuasion would both be useful, but she decided against it for the time being. Plenty of opportunity later if needed, and adding too much could make him aware, Mortalborn that he was, that she was using divine powers. She did not want to risk scaring him off, not when he had initiated contact on his own. "Oh, how silly of me. I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Ellasin Amaranthine. What's yours?" she asked, giving Qaerris another warm, but not too wide, smile. It wouldn't be good of her to play innocent, not with her plans to make him an apprentice if she could, but welcoming was within the limits of what she felt would do the job.
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Of course the Mortalborn was drawn to her. It was not because she was a woman, or because she was a Naer, but because she was alone. To find oneself alone in a city of strange beings in it of itself was suspicious, the irony being that Qaerris was in the exact same situation. Was his own situation suspicious? Was delving into a strange city with strange beings a common occurrence? Qaerris did not look to what he was doing as odd, yet the passage of time brought with it a sense of doubt in this particular instant. Did solitude truly befit him?

No.

That more than anything else was what drew Qaerris to the woman whom he felt suspicious of. She and he were both out of place, scattered, lost. But was she lost? Was she scattered? She carried about her the sense of purpose that the Mortalborn had long lost, cast away in the centuries of existence he had endured. Before, when he had been searching for his ancestry, his identity, he had felt his life purposeful. He had not known who he was and spent an age seeking to answer that question. But, now? What was he? The son of Zanik, an immortal whom he had far too much in common with for his liking. The son of Trialynn, a mortal long buried in the earth and gone, her significance lost, irrelevant in the passing of time.

Qaerris was pulled from the recesses of his memory when the woman, Ellasin, introduced herself. Truly, the name was one to remember. She spoke with a style to her voice that he recalled well from Augiery, though she seemed far less haughty than those who remained in her homeland. However, in addition to her humbled appearance, she seemed incredibly amicable, her smile extending just the right amount, her words practised and articulate. Was it all too familiar?

"Oh, I must've have left it at home," he joked, an easy chuckle parting his lips, for it was all too improper for him to show his doubts and misgivings to the woman who broke the silence of his mind.

I came from Nashaki, though I intend to head north rather soon. And how about yourself? I've been to Augiery, my dear, and you do not strike me as a Naer who's come from home."

It grew easier to isolate him from the depths of his own thoughts. The Mortalborn had been sitting in a stasis of his own existence, and communing with mortals was perhaps the key to finding a true understanding of his place in the world again. Letting his own smile cast upon his lips, his head tilted just slightly before he righted himself to answer her next question,

"My name is Qaerris. T'is a pleasure to meet you, Ellasin."

Qaerris extended his hand in greeting, not knowing or understanding the significance of what was happening. Still, he had reason to be suspicious. Still, he had reason to mistrust, but it all seemed to dissolve away as he continued to speak to the Webspinner.
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Ellasin smiled at Qaerris's joke about his lack of tail, then listened ot him answer her questions. He was charming and...nice. She hadn't met that many people in her life that could afford to be so openly cheerful. He wasn't unguarded, but there was no deception in him, no ulterior motive, no need to keep his goals a secret, not that she could tell, either through his body language or her web. It was refreshing, and more than that, a welcome change.

She shook his hand when offered, then took a few more bites of her meal. After all, the food was good and it wouldn't do to let it go to waste. "You're right, I've not been to Augiery in...many, many years. And I was raised away from there anyway. I was raised in Ne'haer, actually." she said, using the city she had in fact spent a lot of time in as her fictional home. "But these days I'm a traveler. I've an interest in history, you see. The great battles of the past and the places where the legends turned from simple men and women into the myths we know today." she said, not even having to feign her enthusiasm. Ellasin did like history, and being a traveling historian was good cover for why she spent so much time asking about events that had happened ages ago in hopes of clues that could lead her to a fracture.

After finishing off her food, she took a deep drink of the mug he had brought her, then gave Qaerris a friendly smile. "What of you? Are you merely traveling or do you seek something in particular?" she asked. She knew why he had left Nashaki, but not if there was a greater purpose to his wanderings. If there was something he was seeking, odds are she could help him find it, which would be a good way to get him to trust her more.
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The Mortalborn would be lying if he thought to himself that this conversation wasn't odd. Two strangers meeting in a tavern was not odd, nor was the discussion of a personal life and the goals behind one's traveling. Yet, Qaerris could not help but feel the oddity of this particular discussion. Ellasin seemed incredibly well-spoken, a historian by her own admission, and everything about this particular woman seemed too... perfect to be legitimate. She seemed to be concealing her identity, though she did not seem like one that had malicious intentions. Rather at a loss for exactly how the Mortalborn should react, he decided to give the woman time. He'd watch her carefully as she spoke, though he continued to partake in his drink, intent on concealing the misgivings he had behind the mug's facade.

However, what Qaerris was certain about was the impassioned nature of her speech. Whatever this woman was, she certainly was intrigued in history. It was an interest that Qaerris could empathize with.

I lived through so much of what she might mean that perhaps, to me, it is but a novelty to be intrigued by the past. For a mortal, particularly such an intelligent-seeming sort, it's only logical to be curious about something that one could never experience first-hand.

When asked about the nature of his own pursuits, the Mortalborn kept to his story. It was not a falsified one, but it was not a complete one. After all, to delve deeper into his truths was to bring to light the nature of his ancestry. The idea of disclosure of his identity as Mortalborn was not something he was willing to do in this age.

"I've heard tales of the grandeur of the Univeristy in Viden. Truly, it would be fascinating to learn from such a prestigious institution."

That much of his tale was true. The rest need not be shared.

Perhaps Ellasin knows about the university? It'd be interesting to hear her perspective.
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When Qaerris told her where he wanted to go, Ellasin choked on the drink she had been taking. After coughing for a moment, she looked up at him in genuine surprise. "You want to go Viden?" she said, her tone incredulous. Partly it was that she could not afford to let him go to Viden, where she was unwelcome. Not with her plans. But mostly it was because that was likely suicide for him. Suicide or worse. She leaned towards him, her expression worried. "Look, Viden...it's not safe there. They experiment on people, treat them like toys to take apart and put back together. Rhakros is probably safer, they're open about the fact that you're probably going to wind up poisoned at some point, and in my...unfortunate exprience, they'll give you an antidote if you ask." she said, grimacing at that memory. She'd spent a week in Rhakros and it was the most useless thing she had ever done.

Calming herself down from her panic, she took a deep breath, then gave Qaerris a curious look. "If it's knowledge you want, I can teach you. And possibly more...interesting things than what they teach in Viden." she said, smiling slightly, before looking around the tavern and grimacing. "But I don't quite feel comfortable discussing that in such a crowded spot. Naerikk keep secrets as a rule, but in my case it's just I don't want a bunch of people asking me a thousand questions." she said, weighing the risk of tipping her hand too soon against the possibility that he'd sail for Viden before she had a chance to get him to follow her.

Of course, it was possible that she would just freak him out and scare him off, but she thought not. Immortality, her mother had told her once, was as much a burden as a blessing, and watching the people you cared about die of old age and still finding the will to carry on required a special sort of courage. Qaerris may not be as old as Labrae, but she figured him for well over the average human lifespan to have such a...lost look about him. Like he didn't know why he got up every morning to continue his life, but did it anyway. She respected him for that, and she figured one with the strength to do such would be willing to take follow her.
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It's suicide to go to Viden?

Qaerris could feel his eyes narrow as he felt the suspicion flare up again. It was as if this woman was slandering the frozen city of Viden for her own purposes. Her cover seemed to show cracks, the truth of what she was saying interlaced with her own intentions. Did she need Qaerris for something? To most, the Mortalborn was both human and ordinary, with the exception of his physical beauty, a byproduct of his immortal ancestry. However, surely, Ellasin didn't know about that...

She seems so well-informed about everything else... Perhaps she can see right through me.

Did it matter, even if she could? What she said in a hasty effort to dissuade him from going to Viden was quite intriguing. There was clearly something about Ellasin that made her unique. She was well-spoken, clearly very well educated. Was she privy to something that the university could not teach him? Was she the answer he'd been looking for all along? Instinct told the Mortalborn to trust this being, yet logic told him she'd hidden too much from him to be trustworthy. Curiosity compelled the Mortalborn to hear her out, yet...

What's the counter? The worse thing that can happen is death. Is that truly such a horrible fate? So long in this world, there is no one left to care about. If this ends in a bloody mess, at least I can finally say that my life is over.

A nervous chuckle escaped the Mortalborn's lips as he rose from his chair, "Point taken. I'll meet you outside whenever you're ready to go."

It was more curiosity at this point than a fervent belief that she had something to offer him. Qaerris had lived too long to fully take stock in any mortal, but that also included the Eidisi at the University. If Qaerris could mitigate his time traveling, then he would. There was no questioning that.
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Spider Among the Snakes (Basilisk)

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Ellasin smiled as Qaerris agreed to meet her outside, the nervousness that had seized her when he had given her a suspicious look fading in relief. "I'm ready to go now, really." she said, downing her tankard. She had already payed for her own meal, and Qaerris for the drinks, so there was really nothing left to do in the tavern. Standing up, she smiled at Qaerris again. "I do have something to show you, something no academy on Idalos can teach you, but we'll have to leave the city." she said, turning and leaving the inn.

She waited outside until Qaerris joined her, then led the way towards the landward gates, a long, winding, uphill road. "That's the one thing I never understood about this city. They seem to have some strange hatred of straight lines. My first day here, I got lost three times on the way to the inn and another seven times trying to find the gate leading to the rest of the island." she said, sounding more amused than irritated. Ivorian's layout had infuriated her the first few days of her stay, but she had grown resigned to the strangeness of it, much like she had to the serpentine folk who were responsible for the city.

Once the were outside the gate, Ellasin took a deep breath and looked around. The island of Yithiral was beautiful in its own way, the calm and quiet of the island giving it a peaceful air that she found relaxing. She'd occasionally given thought to where she would put down roots when she was too old to be of use to either the Seekers or the Webspinners, and this peaceful island might be the place. For now though, she had business to attend too. "It'll be a bit of a walk still, but not too long of one. Just into that forest." she said, pointing to a tree-line about half a mile away before she started towards it.
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