• Graded • Breaking The Surface

From Tried's Mouth to the mysterious Tower, the waters around Scalvoris and the island itself hold a vast array of secrets, just ripe for discovery. Here are landmarks, jungles, mountains, forests and islands of note.

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Breaking The Surface

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Arc 720, 18th of Ashan
Darius' blond leg hairs stood on end as as his last item of clothing crumpled onto the deck of the ship. The man shivered as he instinctively covered his nakedness with his hands. Goosebumps covered his entire body, his muscles twitching involuntarily as the frigid air felt like it was passing right through him.

The night clouds parted, allowing moonlight to cast itself upon the ship and causing Darius' pale form to shimmer amidst the surrounding darkness. He stared out towards the water, but saw only the occasional rippled reflection.

"Darius Baer!"

The voice was strong, its voice amplified in the darkness. It spoke with authority and carried within its tone the experience of many trials at sea, and many weathered storms.

"Darius Baer!" the voice called again, and the blond human turned to face its owner.

Before him stood the imposing figure of the captain, the outline of his rust-coloured beard visible in the moonlight, despite the cowl that covered much of his face. Other sailors were gathered, watching on in solemn silence.

"You have travelled the Hollow Sea and the waters beyond," the captain continued, "and have proven your worth. One final test awaits you."

The dunking.

The captain didn't need to call it by name. Everyone on deck knew why they were there.

"May U'frek release you from his grasp."

Darius took a deep breath, attempting to calm himself. When he exhaled, a cloud of air briefly formed at his mouth before it was whipped away.

"Stand out," the captain commanded, and the surrounding crew took up the chant. "Stand out! Stand out! Stand out!"

Obeying the order, Darius was forced to uncover himself so that he could take hold of the ropes and climb up onto the ship's rail. The chanting continued as he stood there, looking out into the unforgiving darkness.

And then Darius Baer, naked as the trial he was born, took a deep breath and stepped out into the void.
Last edited by Darius Baer Bottom on Wed Jan 27, 2021 8:45 pm, edited 5 times in total. word count: 336
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Re: Breaking The Surface

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Fully laden, the deck of U'frek's Duty rested a full ten feet above the surface of the water, but some of the other sailors had warned Darius that the sterncastle felt much higher, especially in the dark.

They were not wrong.

The cold night air rushed up against Darius' body as gravity played its part, pulling his body towards the water.

He could still see so little in the darkness, but the moon's reflection raced across the rippled surface.

He had been nervous before he stepped off the ship, but it was only in that instant, as the ocean rushed up to meet him, that he realised he was truly terrified.

And then it hit him.

A wall of freezing water started at his feet and rapidly climbed up his body, sucking him into its liquid depths. His body had been rigid, his eyes clamped shut and one hand tightly holding his nostrils closed, but once the shock of the impact hit him, his body flailed in the shock of the cold and his eyes shot open and he found himself staring into the dark depths of the Hollow Sea.

His mind began to go numb, but he fought hard, consciously trying to think clearly as he swam towards the surface.

The blanket of water that blocked his ears gave way as his face met the cold night air again, and he sprayed water from his mouth and gasped for a breath. The silence and deceptive calmness under the water was replaced by rowdy cheering. Darius didn't dare look up in case he sank like a stone, but he knew the sailors were watching on.

That provided him with a burst of adrenaline that spurred him on, and he forced his freezing limbs to react. His arms moved first, but it took a few trills for his legs to join in.

His swimming was little more than a flurry of limbs at first, but the cool breeze that stung his face felt like a slap, and he wondered if U'frek was trying to keep him awake.

Deciding to err on the side of the divine, the bearded blond forced himself to keep swimming, and to do so with some sense of control, for his energy levels could not last forever.

For several moments, he forced himself to just keep swimming. His arms and legs eventually succumbed to his mind and found a rhythm, and he was eventually within reach of a cargo net that the sailors had tossed over the side. At first, it was all he could do to hook his elbows over the rope, and he wanted to stop there and catch his breath, but the sailors were yelling at him, calling him up, inviting him to join their ranks. His body wanted to give up, but he knew that he would freeze and ultimately slip beneath the water if he didn't force himself to climb.

White knuckles and gritted teeth were all that he had left, and rung by rung, he clambered up the flexible ladder. He slipped twice, and on both occasions it was only a hooked elbow that kept him from falling back into the sea.

He gradually made his way up, freezing droplets falling from his body, lungs screaming for air. When he eventually reached the deck and rolled himself away from the edge, he was so exhausted that the cheers of the crew barely registered with him.

But Captain Kale's voice did: "Stand up, sailor."

Darius' muscles strained as he slowly fought to get himself up off the deck, and the captain wrapped a blanket around his naked form and gave him a hot drink. That simple act was significant, for it endorsed his achievement. He was still forcing his freezing face to smile when he heard another voice.

"Land ho!"

The crew turned their heads to see that the darkness was being pierced by a small, white outline. Darius strained his eyes, and there were excited murmurs among the sailors. The bearded blond suddenly felt another burst of energy, and he was able to ignore the agony in his body and his chattering teeth just long enough to take in the sight.

Ishallr!
Last edited by Darius Baer Bottom on Mon Jul 05, 2021 1:30 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 708
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Re: Breaking The Surface

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Arc 720, 19th of Ashan
Darius let out a roar of delight as the bow of U'frek's Duty crashed down upon the waves. The winds were strong, which meant large waves and full sails, and the newly christened sailor was revelling in the rocking and rolling that came with such large swells.

The sea spray washed over him as he clung to the ship's rail, freezing droplets stinging him through his beard; the waves were so high that they appeared to flood Ishallr, for the white coastline would disappear from sight each time the caravel dipped into the deep trough before the next big wave.

"Darius!"

His name was stolen by the wind as soon as it left the lips that sent it, but the second cry was louder.

"Darius!"

The blond human turned, soaked strands of hair clinging to his cheeks. Another sailor stood nearby, his salt-and-pepper beard similarly dripping with icy water, but doing nothing to hide the scar on his chin.

"Have you been to Ishallr before?" the man yelled into the wind, and he received a shake of the head in response. "Aye, 'tis a harsh land, but the cap'n reckons there might be treasure there!"

Darius nodded as he turned to face the front once more, but he didn't know if such claims were true. He'd heard tales of the pirates who had frequented the Scalvoris Town Docks during his youth, but had always thought them to be a mixture of superstition and fanciful optimism, but as he stared towards the intermittent glimpses of the white island beyond the waves, he couldn't help but let himself wonder of what potential riches might be lying in wait.
Last edited by Darius Baer Bottom on Mon Jul 05, 2021 1:31 am, edited 2 times in total. word count: 290
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Re: Breaking The Surface

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Darius braced himself against the bitterly cold air as his boots crunched into the snow, and he was forced to adjust to the feeling of solid ground beneath his feet. He had snowshoes strapped to his footwear; they were supposed to make walking over snow easier.

Through squinted eyes, he dared to look into the wind, before turning back to the ship. U'frek's Duty sat proudly in the dark waters, her sails furled so that her naked masts were on display for all to see.

The blond human wore a thick coat, the fur-trimmed edge that surrounded his face doing nothing to prevent small icicles from forming in his beard. He had a longsword sitting at his hip, though he dreaded to think what might happen if he had to draw the freezing metal blade from its scabbard. Near him stood three other men, each of them similarly bedecked. Captain Kale was among them, the redness of his beard looking as though it was greying as it caught flakes of snow.

Darius knew he was fortunate to have been chosen as part of the captain's landing crew. The rowboat could only take a handful of men, which meant the majority of sailors had to wait behind. The bearded blond decided that his dunking must have so impressed Captain Kale that he had been ordered to get into the boat and row. And to think, just that morning, he had been writing a letter to his father, and now he was standing on...

...Ishallr.

The iceberg stared down at them as they gathered themselves into a huddle. The wind whistled about them, forcing them to yell whenever they wanted to communicate.

"We head to the caves," Captain Kale instructed his three sailors. "That's where we should find what we're looking for."

Treasure. The captain had never actually said the word himself, but it had been whispered enough among the crew to convince Darius that that was what they were after. He'd never seen treasure before, so he had no idea of what to expect.

"Stick together," the captain instructed, and three grim faces nodded in understanding. "Follow me."

The man moved away from shore, and the trio of sailors fell into line behind him. As the lowest ranked man, Darius found himself at the back.

Ishallr seemed to be filled with a dangerous beauty. The island seemed to glisten in the sun, but each man knew he was potentially one misstep away from peril. As such, the captain had insisted on having a rope that connected them all by their waists as they leaned into the bitter breeze, and they remained that way until they arrived at the base camp. Only then would Captain Kale let the group untie themselves and rest.

There was an unspoken order from the captain that he would take care of the talking side of things. He was in charge, after all, but he also seemed to know his way around the giant iceberg.

The group made their way towards the reception area, and Darius was captivated by the light that emanated through the frozen walls. But his attention was soon grabbed by the armed guard who approached the sailors, an intimidating halberd making a thunk sound as he placed it against the ground with each step of his right foot.

"Turn back, Kale," the man spoke, his softly spoken voice filling the vast, foreboding space. "You know you can't turn up unannounced."

Darius shared a gaze with one of the sailors as the captain let out a chuckle, apparently showing no interest in being sent away.

"Is that how you return a favour?" Kale responded, his voice much louder than the guard's.

"You must keep your voice down," came the whispered response, though the walls ensured his words carried to the rest of the group. "That was to remain a secret."

"And a secret it shall indeed remain," grinned Kale, "as long as you let us past."

Even from the back, Darius could see that the man was mulling over his options, but he couldn't look the captain in the eye. In fact, when the guard tried to do precisely that, his resistance faltered, and he stepped aside.

"Very well, Kale," he eventually replied, his voice laced with defeat. "But be careful in there. There have been rumours..."

"Why do you think I came?" smirked Captain Kale, before he turned to his companions. "Tie your ropes again, lads. We can't afford to get split up in here."

The sailors then stepped past the guard, one by one, as they tied themselves together once more and prepared to delve deeper into the cave system. As Darius passed the man, he caught sight of what he thought was fear in his eyes. If the guard knew more of the dangers within, he wasn't saying anything - and Kale clearly wasn't in a listening mood, either.
Letter
Arc 720, 19th Of Ashan

To: Josef Baer, Scalvoris Town.
From: Darius Baer, aboard U'frek's Duty.

Da, I did it! I underwent the dunking ritual last night, and I wanted you to be the first to know that I have been welcomed into the seafaring fold!

It was freezing, as you might imagine at this time of the arc, and I would be lying if I said I wasn't more than a little nervous, but your prayers to U'frek must have been heard.

I am writing this from my bunk aboard a ship called U'frek's Duty - a fitting name. No doubt this letter will take a few trials to be sent to you, once we reach land, and I hope it will find you well.

We are currently heading to Ishallr, and I hope to be going ashore. I consider myself lucky that my dunking was so close to where the tradition originated.

Thank you for teaching me the ways of the sea. I would not be here if not for your example.

I know Ma would be proud.

Your loving son Darius.
Last edited by Darius Baer Bottom on Mon Jul 05, 2021 1:31 am, edited 5 times in total. word count: 1020
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Re: Breaking The Surface

Faith hated, truly hated, being cold.

So, the young woman appeared from inside the Eclipse Portal and she smiled at the guard. "Hello, Georg," she said softly. Smiling at the man who was there quite regularly, she turned pale silver eyes to him. A slight frown crossed her forehead. "Are you alright?" He nodded and smiled, but Faith lowered her hood and looked at him intently. She was, of course, wrapped up in a coat and a cloak and she wore gloves and a scarf. Faith was nestled in warm clothing, but she began to emerge from behind the knitted woollen accessories and she raised an eyebrow. "Georg?" He looked at her and he sighed.

"I've been getting some headaches, I think it's just stress," he said and Faith nodded. "You've trapped a muscle in your shoulder, Georg, look there." He frowned at her and shook his head, but she noticed the wince.

Faith was a short person - a very short person, and Georg was a tall man who was broad and rather hefty-looking. It made it even more bizarre-looking as Faith pointed to a low bench and said, most firmly, "Sit down there," He looked at her and sighed. "I'm fine, Faith," he grumbled and she raised an eyebrow.

"I didn't hear me asking, did you?"

He grumbled the whole way over, but he moved and he sat. Faith followed him, standing behind him and she spoke quietly. "I'm just going to do a quick examination, alright? I'll just be touching your shoulder a little." Faith put her hands on his shoulders, comparing what she felt and she frowned slightly. Georg winced and asked - rather plaintively - "what are you doing?"

"I'm done," Faith said and then, suddenly, she manipulated his arm, twisting it like she was about to wrestle him to the floor. Instead, there was an audible 'pop' and she smiled to herself as he yelled. But then, he moved his shoulder and he turned to look at her.

"You said you were done!" He sounded rather like Noah, her three-arc-old son, when things didn't go his way.

"I did. I lied." Faith said, with a smile and he grinned at her. "Thanks, Faith," he said and she shook her head. "No worries. Please, though, don't ignore things any more. See a medic."

They exchanged a few more pleasantries and then, Faith bade him good trial and made her way out .

There was - as always - some paperwork and she signed the things that the reception people needed her to. Zach wasn't here, Faith noticed, and she wondered why that might be but she didn't ask. They seemed a little overwhelmed when they saw her name, so she simply smiled, signed bits of parchment and did what was needed.

"I will be collecting up resources," Faith said to the guard who was dealing with the arrivals, "to aid Rharne in the time of need. Which means that, in a few trials - three at most - I'll be bringing some people and rather large items, possibly, through here." He looked like he was about to argue, and Faith smiled. "If it helps you, I can get a signed note from Council Member Mareth?" Kura, after all, was her friend. But then, the chap in question told her. "Alberach. She's the Alberach now."

"Kura?" Faith asked. He nodded and she smiled. "Well, that's good news. A note from her would be even more exciting. Would you like me to arrange that, or is my name good?" He shook his head. "It's fine. If you can let us know, though, as far in advance as possible?" Faith nodded. Logistics was something that she understood and then some, so she appreciated that. Hoisting her backpack, Faith was about to turn and walk out, bidding the guard and the others there farewell.

But then, she saw that there was an individual who was emerging from the entrance into the back of the caves. Just one person, and he seemed rather agitated. Faith stopped and raised an eyebrow, looking at the man in question. "Is everything alright?"
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Re: Breaking The Surface

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Faith Augustin was a name that carried a lot of weight. Every Scalvorian worth his salt recognised it and appreciated it. Even though she wasn't born on the island, her deeds were famous.

Josef Baer was a vocal supporter. A sailor for many arcs, he had witnessed firsthand the devastation of the dock collapse in 718. Good men and women, some of whom he'd known from his time on the seas, had lost their lives. But when Faith had led the relief effort, the Baer boys had followed, insistent on playing their part. For an old seafarer like Josef, the rebuilding of the Scalvoris Town Docks was not the sort of thing that was easily forgotten.

Along with many other locals, Darius and his father had been present at the remembrance service. There, they had seen Faith, and Josef had told his son how fitting the young woman's name was.

"You see, lad?" the elder Baer had said. "This town just needed a little Faith."

But names like Faith and Josef were the furthest things from Darius' mind as he stepped further into the caves, following the three men ahead of him.

It was easy to lose track of time within the caves, the sailor realised. With no shifting sun or starry sky by which to measure each break, it felt impossible to know how long they'd been venturing forth, frozen walls on either side. Further contributing to the loss of his sense of time was that the group were largely moving in silence. Apart from the scraping sounds of their boots, laboured footsteps echoing off the ice that surrounded them, very little was said.

Captain Kale had insisted on it. He'd told the group to say nothing, unless he told them otherwise. And they had all obeyed that order until everything changed in an instant. They had heard a rumbling sound, though none of them could tell from which direction it was coming. Silent stares were shared between each of the four men, and then a pair of trills later, there was a blinding white light...

Darius' ears were ringing when he came to. Dark grey eyes stared up at the roof of the ice cave, before he pushed himself up onto his elbows to look around.

He was in a corner of the tunnel, but he somehow knew they were gone. Captain Kale and the other two sailors were nowhere to be seen. It was as if they had never been there at all.

Except...

The blond reached for the rope that was tied around his waist. His gloves gripped it, his eyes following its path around the icy bend and out of sight. At first he feared pulling at it, lest he drag the bodies of three sailors who had been knocked unconscious - or worse. But the first tug was enough to confirm his suspicions. There was no resistance. None at all. The rope wasn't severed, however. It was unbroken, and all he managed to pull to himself were three knotted loops where the others had been.

Darius froze in fear for a trill, and then he was scrambling, his boots struggling to find purchase on the ice as he fled the scene. Everything from there was a blur. More than once, he collided with the walls, ricocheting as his momentum carried him through. It felt as though he was running forever, the rope behind him dragging noisily over the ice, as though a hissing serpent was pursuing him. His heart was pounding, and his legs weary by the time he turned the final corner and saw the reception area.

His eyes scanned the area, his mind struggling to take everything in. He was unaware of his own gasping as he approached the guard and finally slowed, the rope falling limp on the ice as droplets of sweat ran through his beard and threatened to freeze themselves there. But it wasn't the guard who spoke to him first; he was busy staring at the empty rope on the ground. Instead, it was a short, slight woman with dark hair who spoke first. Despite her comparatively small stature, her demeanour was one of strength.

Darius shook his head in response to her question, but it was a good bit or two before he could find the breath to speak. His tongue felt heavy, but he forced the words out.

"They're gone," he said, initially to Faith, and then he turned to the guard. "They're gone! I don't know what happened. They just...vanished."

"Okay, that's quite enough," the guard stepped between the blond and the tunnel entrance, blocking his way.

"Did they come out here?" he asked, an air of fear in his voice as he almost wished they might have abandoned him, but the guard's shaking head confirmed that wasn't the case. "You have to let me back in! You have to let me find them!"

"Not on your own," the guard denied him, tightening the grip on his halberd. "It's too dangerous."

He turned to Faith, his eyes helpless and pleading. He had no idea who this woman was. In his panic, there was no way to recognise that the face he was looking at belonged to Faith Augustin. But he was desperate, and willing to accept help from anyone - even a complete stranger.
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Re: Breaking The Surface

There were many things which could be said about Faith, but she had never yet been able to refuse a person in need. She watched the exchange between this man and the guard and Faith felt a surge of disappointment in the guard's response. "I understand that you can not leave your post," she said quietly to the man. "And that it would be reckless of you to let this man return alone. However," she smiled slightly, encouragingly, at Darius (although she didn't know his name), "he won't be alone. I'll be helping him. We will be going back together. I'm going to just ask you to note that, please, in case it needs passing along. I'm also going to give you this," After rummaging a moment in her satchel, she handed the guard a scroll. "If anything happens, or you get nervous, write in that. My husband, Professor Augustin, he'll see it." It would make no difference, Faith knew, because Padraig and she were connected by much more immediate bonds and he could feel her emotions, hear her thoughts. But Faith also recognised that this guard needed some reassurance.

"If there's any bother, he'll come along. He was in the group which discovered the portals, remember?" The guard nodded. "Excellent. So. Here's the second one," Another scroll, this one she tied a ribbon around. As she did, her nails and wrist tattoos were visible. "This one, you write on this, and I'll see it on my scroll here. See?" Gently, because she was sure he must be very agitated, she put a hand on Darius' arm. "We'll go back in, and find your friends, in just a moment. I'm Faith, it's a pleasure to meet you." As the guard looked at what Faith had given him and wrote on the scroll as directed, Faith smiled at Darius. "We'll be able to do our best to find out what's happening."

The guard wrote something, just the word Hello on the scroll he was holding, and Faith held up her scroll, showing him how the same thing appeared on hers, as he wrote it. "Alright. So. We're going in. You've got means of contacting outside in case of emergency, and we can keep in touch, alright?" The guard seemed reassured and Faith nodded.

"Right then," she said to Darius. "You lead the way." As they walked back, Faith moved to stand next to him, keeping up as he walked. "If you could," she said softly, "tell me exactly what happened?" She listened to his answer and she sighed slightly.

"Alright, well," she said softly. Glancing back, she made sure they were out of earshot of the guard. That man was quite twitchy and nervous and Faith didn't want to upset him or unnerve him any more than she absolutely had to. "The good news is, I've been in these caves quite a few times, so I know them quite well." She smiled at him and hoped, genuinely hoped, that her calm tone might help him. But, of course, she was who she was and she had to be honest. "However, they shift. The caves themselves change their layout. When my husband was part of the expedition that mapped them," the pride which Faith felt when she said the words 'my husband' was obvious in what she said, how she said it. "They had a couple of situations where people apparently just vanished. They always found them again." Hopefully that was a good piece of news.

As she considered what they should do, Faith also considered that she should 'front up' with her new companion. "It's a good thing they move, really. I have the sense of direction of a three-cycle dead brick." It was true. She could - in fact she had - lose her way in her own home. As though to indicate how bad she was but, in fact, simply because she was as bad as she was, Faith gestured in entirely the wrong direction for where they'd just come. "I thought he might find it offputting if I admitted that."

With a glance at him, she considered that he looked strong and fit, relatively. Her glance revealed that not only did Faith have incredibly pale eyes - such a pale shade of blue they were nearly silver, but close up one oculd see flecks of red in them. She decided her companion was probably able to take care of himself. She, for her part, wore a sword at her waist and walked with the sort of ease of someone who was used to wearing such. "Do you know Scalvoris? We've come across Oh'deer here, and some very strange wolves. An ice tiger, too." She walked quietly along with him for a while, keeping her eyes on the tracks and such. Then, as though it had just occurred to her - because it had - she asked. "What were you doing here?" They'd better not be smugglers, she thought. That would be irksome.
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Re: Breaking The Surface

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Darius could feel his heart thumping as it attempted to break free from its skeletal prison. But it began to slow just a little when the woman began to speak. Her voice had an air of calm about it, and her words were deliberate and controlled. It was somewhat disarming to witness, for the brunette appeared to have an answer for everything, and before Darius knew what was going on, they were walking back into the ice caves, side by side.

"Thank you," he uttered in a tone that did nothing to conceal his confusion.

He turned to look at his saviour as they moved, his dark grey eyes casting a curious gaze over her appearance. Compared to him, she was much smaller - a good foot or so, he was guessing - and her frame was slight, where his was broad. There was something attractive about her, too. It was probably the confidence she had shown. Darius would usually blush at such a realisation, but the ice caves were far too cold to gift him the unplanned boon of warmth behind his cheeks. He decided they must have looked like quite an unusual pairing: his skin dark from trials in the sun at sea, whereas she was pale; blond hair and black; a man accustomed to hard labour, and--

He stopped there, for something she had said earlier was finally beginning to sink in, and there was no question that this woman knew how to toil.

"You're Faith," he stated, as if this piece of information might come as a revelation to her too. "You're Faith Augustin!"

All of a sudden, his immediate situation of abandonment was forgotten, as he realised whose presence he inexplicably shared.

"You rebuilt the docks!"

It was, of course, far from Faith's only achievement - or her most significant one - but it was what the seafarer related to most closely.

Darius was able to shake himself out of his fascination with his new companion to actually answer her questions. And as he did, he used the trail left by his rope - now safely inside his small pack - during his hasty retreat to navigate them back towards where he'd last seen the others.

He gave her his name, and explained what he'd experienced. He told her of Captain Kale and the rumours of treasure, but that the captain himself had never said such a thing. Ultimately, he had to admit that he wasn't quite sure why they were on Ishallr, for he had been focusing most of his attention during his time at sea on the dunking ritual.

He listened carefully to Faith's description of the caves, and though they intimidated him, the woman's soothing gaze enabled him to stay calm he was so relaxed, in fact, that he guffawed at her sense of direction jest. (Guffawed!)

Then she asked if he was a local, and the man nodded briskly.

"Oh, yes, Scalv is my home," Darius smiled, an air of pride in his voice. "And we came in the caravel, U'frek's Duty. You probably saw it anchored off to the west?"

Apparently it hadn't dawned on the seafarer that the petite brunette might have travelled to Ishallr a different way.

He paused before he'd taken in her answer, his steps faltering, and he instinctively extended a hand in front of Faith's torso, as if to keep her from harm. His gaze was in front of them, frozen like the ice beneath their feet, trained on a bend in the tunnel ahead.

"This is it," he whispered. "This is where I woke up."
Last edited by Darius Baer Bottom on Mon Jul 05, 2021 1:31 am, edited 2 times in total. word count: 608
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Re: Breaking The Surface

Faith shook her head, her jet-black hair held in place by the thick scarf she wore. "You're very welcome, let's just find them." Faith said quietly. She had a calm confidence but, more than anything, Faith was compassionate and her gaze on him was concerned. She sorted things out with the guard, made sure that the man had what he needed and, when he nodded his head, she walked alongside the man who had just burst out of the ice caves, having lost his companions. He was taller than her - but that was far from unusual as far as Faith's life experience was concerned. She was a little person, after all. He was also sun-kissed to her pale-white skin, blonde to her black haired. But, no matter what their physical differences, Faith was unconcerned about that. He was concerned for people, and she couldn't ever turn away from that.

But when he suddenly burst out with "You're Faith Augustin!" Faith could not hide the sudden grin on her face. "I am," she said; he spoke like he was reminding her - or informing her - of who she was. But, that said, she shook her head to the next bit. "I did not. I organised. I bullied. I cajoled and harassed. I used every resource available and made sure that the people I was with were fully able to function to their best," she said calmly. "And then, because I did that, other people rebuilt the docks" That was absolutely true, as far as Faith was concerned. She smiled at him, repeating what she said in the celebration and opening of the garden of remembrance. "A thousand pairs of hands." There was no doubt in the young Zuuda's mind that this was the case.

And, of course, the same thing was true now.

"Right. Take this," Faith said, and she pulled her cloak off. She looked at Darius and shook her head. "I don't feel cold, I regulate my own temperature, thanks to Famula's blessing." There was something very specifically focused about Faith and she took off her cloak and held it out to him. "It will keep you warm. It's a trick I picked up a few arcs ago, I made it." Looking at him, Faith concluded that there was a way to deal with this man. "So, in order for you to be able to function, even in this cold, I'm going to give you this cloak and these gloves," Faith held out the items, black and made from what seemed to be fine cotton. "And, one trial, you pass them - or something useful - forward to someone else. That's how things work best, don't you think?" Acts of kindness, passed forward. If people were just more kind to each other, that would make the world a better place, as far as Faith was concerned.

They continued onwards (and if he said no to the cloak and gloves, she'd leave them there, on the ground, and point out that they were his, so what he did with them was up to him - but frankly she hoped it didn't come to that...) and Faith listened to the story Darius told. She rummaged in her memory and she shook her head slightly. "I live in Rharne now. I came through the Eclipse Portals," she said, pointing in completely the wrong direction for said portals. She listened to his story and considered his words. Nodding, she said that she knew Kale - she'd been his doctor for a while. Silver eyes turned to Darius and she quirked an eyebrow at him. He'd turned up here not really knowing why? With a very slight smile which told him that perhaps chasing around after people was not the thing to do, she nodded. "I know of Captain Kale. He's a well-known captain. We'll find them."

Then, he stopped moving and he put his hand out in front of her, as though he was going to protect her. That was sweet of him, Faith thought, and she put her hand on his outstretched arm. Gently, she applied just a little pressure, pushing his arm down. "Easy there," Faith said softly. He gestured to where he had 'woken up' and she nodded, a frown on her face. Looking at where he gestured, Faith's frown deepened. "Look there," she said, and she gestured to the wall where Darius' companions had been. There was nothing there, it seemed.

But Faith saw something and, without explaining it, she stepped forward. Darius was, it seemed, naturally protective and that was good. Faith was a long way away from a warrior, but she was, nonetheless, a very determined woman. Edging forward as they turned the corner, she stopped and tugged his arm as she did so. "Look, there," she said. There was a tiny - absolutely minuscule - shimmer in the air and Faith glanced around. Then, bending down, she picked up a handful of snow which she scrunched up in to a ball. Then, she raised an eyebrow. "Let's test it shall we?" She gently, underarm, threw the snowball.

It hit the shimmering air and disappeared.

"So," Faith said softly. "I suspect we're going to charge through like a pair of lunatics. I suggest we tie some rope around ourselves, and hold hands while we do," just in case it took them to different places. Looking at him with a mock-stern expression, she added, "which does not imply that we are married. My husband would wish me to be clear." Holding out her hand, though, she raised an eyebrow. "Shall we charge through like a pair of lunatics, Darius?" Her silver eyes had a twinkle of - of all things - amusement.
What she's given him
The cloak and gloves is one that she made for herself using this technique.
word count: 990
Life, Death and the In-Between .
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Darius Baer Bottom
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Wealth Tier: Tier 9

Re: Breaking The Surface

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"Aye, I remember," Darius grinned, as Faith recalled the remembrance service. "It was quite a speech. 'Our hands and yours', I think you said."

Without thinking he looked down towards her hands, and then was forced to lift his gaze, for she was beginning to remove her cloak. He furrowed his brow slightly as she offered the item to her, along with a pair of gloves. He accepted them, but again looked at her hands, and then at his own. There was no question whose palms were larger and whose fingers were longer, but he attempted to wear the gift all the same.

"But surely, your gloves won't fit--"

He stopped short, staring at his own hands in surprise as the fabric stretched comfortably up to his wrists, and he immediately felt a warmth running to his fingertips that he had not realised had been absent amidst the surrounding frigidity.

"Thank you again," he offered a grateful smile, pulling on the cloak as he did so.

He nodded at the suggestion of offering an act of kindness to someone else as a way of showing his gratitude for Faith's generosity. Yeva's name was the first one that came to mind, though he was sure his father wouldn't mind a cloak to keep him warm during some of the colder nights of the arc.

"Ah," he voiced his realisation when Faith corrected him on her method of transport. "Aye, the Eclipse Portals, of course."

He caught a glimpse of her smile at his acknowledgement that he wasn't quite sure why he was on Ishallr in the first place, and he tried to conceal his abashed expression. He was only following orders, after all, and if she knew Captain Kale, she probably understood that the man was firm, fair, and unlikely to explain his plans with the lowest ranked crew member on his ship.

When Faith gently guided his arm away, Darius apologised quietly under his breath, before following the woman's gaze. He watched, amazed, as her handful of snow seemed to disappear before his eyes. Almost out of his own disbelief, he mimicked the action, making his own snowball and lobbing it through in the same way, and marvelling that the phenomenon was repeated.

A blond eyebrow was cocked at Faith's next suggestion. The seafarer had to admit that it made sense for them to try to stay together - and he pulled out the rope, making a loop with it and lifting it over the petite woman's head until it was wrapped around her lower back - but he was not used to being so close to a woman. He set about tying a knot in the rope, before repeating the process with himself, so that the pair of them were tied together with a few feet between them.

He cast a gaze over the woman as she held out her hand. There was an air of mischievousness about Faith Augustin that Darius would never have predicted, had he not met her. He had heard of her, of course - everyone had, surely - but the opinions one formed of a name and deeds overlooked the small mannerisms and personality quirks that made people unique. There was no time to reflect on such things, of course, for they had to leap into the unknown. For a few moments he stared at the shimmering air, but he didn't take the brunette's hand.

"Begging your and your husband's pardon," his deep voice awkwardly broke the brief silence, "but if we risk being separated, holding hands isn't going to cut it."

And with that, he stepped closer to Faith and wrapped his arm around her shoulders, and pulled her close to him. It was an awkward side hug of sorts, and if the freezing temperatures had successfully hidden his blush before, they stood no chance now, especially with the handcrafted clothes the brunette had given him. All he could do was stare straight ahead, and hope he could endure the situation as it would inevitably become even more uncomfortable.

"Hold on," was his final instruction, and his arm dropped to her waist, pulling her close to him and, as they rushed towards the mysterious shimmer of air, he tightened his hold on her, essentially lifting her slightly off the ground as he leaped through the curious portal and into...

...the exact same tunnel.

Darius' expression revealed his confusion as they appeared to be at the same bend of the same tunnel, and he awkwardly released Faith from their unorthodox embrace when he realised it had all been rather unnecessary. Another muttered apology followed, and he was about to untie them from the rope when he caught sight of something on the ground. He squinted briefly, and then realised it was snow. Two patches of snow, as if they had just been thrown there.

A clicking, chittering sound reached his ears, then, and he turned to look at Faith, wondering if she'd heard it too. It came again, and he realised it was coming from behind them; from whence they'd come, only they hadn't, because although this looked like the same tunnel as before, it couldn't possibly be...

Still tied to the rope, Darius turned to look back down the tunnel, and he saw a pattern. Thin lines of ice stretched across the walls from ceiling to floor, glistening against the light that the walls provided. The tangle formed a beautiful but foreboding design, and then the blond saw the lines begin to quiver. He looked up to where the lines met the ceiling, and he saw the source of the chittering sound. A creature twice their size, with eight legs and two fangs, busied itself in the web, and the human felt himself holding his breath, lest even the slightest exhale should catch its attention. It was indisputably a spider, though it had taken a few trills to recognise it as such, for it was made entirely of ice. Each of its arthropod legs was longer than the blade that hung from Darius' belt, and its head was the size of his own.

It was only then, as he instinctively wrapped one hand around the hilt of his sheathed longsword, that Darius realised what the creature was doing: turning an unidentifiable body over and over high up in the web, bundling it up in the icy silk. His dark grey eyes could not see any others, but he turned to Faith once more. Did she still want them both to charge in like a pair of lunatics?
Last edited by Darius Baer Bottom on Mon Dec 13, 2021 2:41 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 1106
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