• Graded • Breaking The Surface

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Faith Augustin Champion
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Re: Breaking The Surface


The fact that he didn't sympathise with her was something which Faith noticed, noted, and was grateful for. She didn't want or need anyone's sympathy; the bottom line for her was simply that she wouldn't change any aspect of her life. Because every aspect - every one - had made her who she was. Faith loved her family and loved her life. If her history was the price she paid for that, then she'd pay it three times over. There was no moment to stop and think, though, as they had to deal with the person who was in the cocoon.

Darius assured her that he had seen his share of gloop, and Faith nodded; they needed to get on with it and find out what was going on. So, they began to chip away at it, and quickly it became obvious that there was a serious issue. Darius reeled back, but Faith simply kept going. She had an expression of careful neutrality on her face - a very well practiced one. But there was no doubt, in her mind, what they were going to find. And that was exactly what they did find - the gasp which Darius let out was enough to tell the story of what they were seeing. For Faith, there was a sudden flash of memory, in Athart. But, being who she was, Faith pushed that aside and she moved forward. "He's gone," she said and she turned to look at Darius. Yet, her gaze turned to a place just behind her blond companion. Just behind, slightly to the left of him. "I'm sorry, it's confusing, isn't it?" She obviously wasn't talking to Darius as she spoke to the spirit of the man behind him.

"Yes, it's you," Faith said, and her smile was rather sad. "What is it that's keeping you here, do you think?" She listened, carefully, and then she nodded. "I'll tell her. I promise you." To Darius, there was no one there of course, but Faith's hair moved, responding to the breeze which was not physical. Her gaze turned back then, as she focused on Darius. "I'm sorry. There's nothing to be done. His soul is at peace," the last was in an attempt to reassure him, of course, but it was also the truth. "When we die, we are judged by Pier and Pre," Faith explained. "And, when that judgement is complete, Vri takes the soul to wherever it is that souls go." Faith was blessed by Pier and Pre, and by Vri. But, of course, she was Famula's Champion. "Those souls who do not pass over, they become ghosts - souls who have unfinished business. I help people," it was a big job, but she figured someone had to do it. "alive or dead. They're still people."

Looking down at the actual remains, Faith sighed. "How many were there, Darius? I'd like to find them all, but he wasn't particularly forthcoming with information."
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Life, Death and the In-Between .
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Darius Baer Bottom
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Re: Breaking The Surface

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Darius was standing back from the frozen cocooned corpse when Faith turned and spoke.

"Aye, I know..."

His words, which were already spoken in hushed tones, trailed away into silence when he realised what the woman was saying.

He cocked his head slightly in confusion, blond brows furrowing. Of course the man was dead! Did she really think he couldn't tell that from one glimpse of his caved-in face...?

Even Darius' thoughts drifted away, then, as Faith continued to talk and the seafarer realised that he was not the intended audience. He turned to look over his shoulder, half expecting to see Captain Kale standing behind him, but he saw nobody at all. His brow had furrowed even deeper when he turned back to face the brunette.

And then, just like that, she was talking directly to him again, and although she explained her view of the afterlife, Darius' brow did not return to their usual relaxed position.

"You...speak to the dead?"

His voice was but a whisper, accompanied by a cloud of breath, and though he hadn't previously considered Faith Augustin to be a liar, the thought suddenly flashed across his mind. The ice caves suddenly seemed colder, and he felt a shudder run through his body. Faith had a sincerity about her, but he struggled to reconcile that with the - quite frankly, frightening - thought that she could converse with the deceased.

When she asked him about the rest of the group, he began to answer...

"There were four of us in all, tied together by a rope," he ventured, though he held a suspicious gaze on the brunette after her latest revelation. "Captain Kale led from the front, and I was at the back. Between us were two sailors, named Carter and..."

...and then he faltered. He nodded towards what was left of the other man, still half-trapped in his icy coffin, but the poor fellow's name never left his lips.

He hated to be mistrustful, but he couldn't help wondering if Faith herself knew the name of the man she had just spoken to.
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Re: Breaking The Surface


You ... speak to the dead?

She glanced at Darius and she saw the doubt on his face, saw the sudden uncertainty in his expression. It should have taken her by surprise, perhaps, but it did not. No matter what, no matter what she did or who she was, no matter how many people she saved or how well known she was, Darius didn't know her. It saddened Faith that for so many people the default was to assume untruth but, at the same time, she understood that. He had not been raised the way she had - the thought of doubting a free person would have been totally alien to her. But, Padraig was very much of the opinion that Faith tended towards being too trusting of people and she certainly couldn't argue with him - nor could she blame Darius for not being the same.

"Yes," she said softly. "I do." She didn't try to persuade Darius to believe her, that was not her way. Besides, her words would do nothing to reassure his doubts, because at the end of the trial, they were just words. So, her eyes turned to him and she gazed at him calmly. Since she had been utilising her Immortal-granted powers, they glowed slightly red. Not in a major way as speaking with the dead was very much the bread and butter of a Zuuda's duty, but still. The glow was there.

Darius spoke of the four of them, tied together, and Faith gently put her hand on the corpse as he did. "Jim. His name was Jim," she said softly, and smiled rather sadly. "But you knew him as Willis. He said that he'd never get the nels from Carter, the coin he owed him after the bet." All of these were things Darius knew, Faith suspected, but he needed proof. That was fine. "When we get back, I'll need to find someone for him. He had things to tell her." Unfinished business. What troubled Faith, really, was that there was just no need for her to lie. Did he think she had been exaggerating to show off? Or perhaps all that had happened had been fake? Yet, that could not be the case, surely? Faith concluded that, sadly, there was no logical reason for Darius to believe that she was lying yet, he had defaulted to that.

Still, she figured, in light of that they were both living and learning. "So, if there were four of you, then it's Captain Kale and Carter still to find. I have to say, I'm not hopeful for their survival, but we shouldn't give up yet." Faith smiled, although her face and expression was neutral as she did. "I'm going to clamber over, see if there's anything else hidden in the snow here. If not? Well, we're going to have to just try further back?" She glanced at Darius and her still-red eyes twinkled slightly. "I suspect you getting webbed would be more difficult than me, because you're larger." She glanced at the area, the snow-covered mound and she added what was also, of course, the truth. "Plus, if there are corpses there, I'd rather prepare you and if there are spiders, I think you can reach over me to fight said spiders, more easily than I can reach over you," it all made sense. Faith thought it was probably just a pile of snow and ice and a wall, but in these caves, there was no telling. So, unless he disagreed with her, she began to clamber.
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Re: Breaking The Surface

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There was the slightest sense of disappointment in Darius' eyes when Faith said the corpse was named Jim. He had been sceptical, of course, but he had still been harbouring hopes that she might have actually been talking to the dead sailor.

And then, her eyes colored an unsettling red, she said 'Willis', and everything was turned on its head.

His furrowed brow vanished, dark grey eyes widening in amazement.

Everything else Faith said rang true. Darius found himself nodding in agreement, as if to confirm to the brunette what she already knew: that she had indeed been conversing with the dead man.

"It was a foolish bet to begin with," he whispered, as if fearful that speaking ill of Willis might wake the man and bring forth his wrath. "Too much rum, I think. Carter is...was...the strongest swimmer I've seen. How Willis thought he could last longer in the freezing water, I'll never know."

The blond seafarer nodded when Faith spoke of someone that Willis wished to have a message passed on to. He hadn't known the sailor well enough to guess who it might be. A wife; a mother; a lover. But his thoughts didn't linger there, quickly shifting focus to how the man's last living moments might help he and Faith survive their next.

"D-did he say what happened to the others?" he asked quietly, a clear hint of trepidation in his voice.

The human looked around once more, his storm-coloured eyes hoping to see some kind of trace of Carter or Kale, but no such thing revealed itself to him. Faith was evidently searching, too, for she was soon suggesting a new plan.

"Aye," he nodded, unable to offer any obvious improvements. "You go first, and I'll follow."

Darius took one last look at the cave walls that surrounded them before he drew his longsword and followed the petite brunette up and onto the mound of snow. The white powder made for curious terrain, constantly threatening to succumb to the weight of their crunching footsteps, but always compacting enough to hold them up.

Darius craned his neck as they moved, attempting to see past Faith. On level footing, that would have been simple, for the young woman stood a full foot shorter than him, but the snowy hill had erased his height advantage. Instead, all he could do was tighten the grip on he hilt of his blade, visually scan the area, and whisper the obvious question: "What can you see?"
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Re: Breaking The Surface


There were many things in life which Faith was quite sure of. She tended, she knew, to see the world in black and white terms as a place of things which needed fixing and, conversely, those which did not. But, one thing which she was very sure of, it was that she didn't like cold and she was not good at climbing.

So, the cold climb was not pleasant. But, Faith would be the first to point out that, in fact, she didn't get any negative side effects from cold, and didn't actually feel it. Yet, she knew it was there. However, that was the kind of self-indulgent behaviour which only Padraig saw, so she put aside grumbles and got on with it. There were more than a few slips and once she let out a yelp of surprise as she slid down a slippery bit, but she was quick to reassure him that she was fine.

They explored.

There was this part behind the web, and that was clear, and when she returned, untangling herself from the debris and detritus there, she shook her head. "Nothing. There's nothing. No sign of life walking on two legs, either. Though there are eight-legged footprints," Faith said that, then paused and wondered. "Do spiders have feet ? If they have feet, do they have toes? What about toenails? I have no idea what the answer is, but I wonder if ice spiders are different from regular giant spiders, in that regard."

With a glance at Darius, Faith gave a slightly wry grin. "It's always rather noisy, in my head," she explained. "Lots of thoughts. It's interesting, the world." Even when it was scary, it was interesting, and Faith had no doubt that it would always be so for her. But, they searched and they rummaged around, and there were places aplenty to look. But all of them came to the same conclusion. "I think they're gone," Faith said, after a while. "We've looked everywhere I can think of or see, some of them more than once," thanks to her awful sense of direction, she had a tendency to end up in the same place twice - or even three times. But, there it was.

Faith was aware that this was far from a comfortable solution, but equally, it was the reality they were facing and, also, there was a point which she felt it was important to make. "It gives me hope," she explained. "You see, we only found one of them, and that one was dead. So, I hope that this means this is just the strangeness which is Ishallr and they will turn up again." She looked at him with a serious gaze in her now-silver eyes. "People have been known to. So, lets hold out that hope, yes?"

That said, Faith gestured in entirely the wrong direction. "Shall we get out of here?" Her seriousness was absolute though, as she added. "If you want or need to stay and look more, that's fine and we'll do that."
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Re: Breaking The Surface

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Darius watched as Faith began her climb, and then, after a few trills to ensure there was a little distance between them, he followed.

The ice was predictably slippery, but being able to predict the nature of the surface did nothing to aid with climbing it. More than once, he slipped, but he was grateful that when Faith did likewise, the gap between them meant she was able to catch herself without knocking him over in the process.

Eventually, however, they both made their way up, and despite their best efforts, they couldn't find any sign of the missing sailors. Faith's declaration of that fact was met by a frown and a furrowed brow.

"I don't understand," he murmured, half to himself. "How could they have simply disappeared?"

The bearded blond's bewilderment was such that he couldn't entertain Faith's foot fantasy. He could only be left wondering just how Captain Kale and Carter had vanished, and how he'd been spared.

Could it mean something significant? Or was it mere fortune - good for him, and bad for them? And how in all of Idalos had the rope been returned to him unbroken?

None of it made any sense, and the more Darius tried to wrap his head around it, the less he understood. He looked around, and the walls of the ice caves that had seemed so beautiful suddenly felt as though they were closing in.

"Aye," he reluctantly agreed with Faith's assessment of their next steps. "Perhaps you're right. We must remain hopeful."

The seafarer nodded at the thought, and although he didn't enjoy conceding defeat, he couldn't see any other option.

And so, with his blade sheathed and his head hanging low in resignation, Darius began his careful descent down the icy structure, with Faith close behind, before they both carefully navigated their way back towards the portal and, from there, the entrance to the caves.
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Re: Breaking The Surface

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Review Rewards

Name: DARIUS

Points awarded: 15

Knowledge:
Acrobatics: Finding purchase on an icy surface.
Climbing: Hooking your elbows over a rope can allow you to rest.
Combat: Blades: Large blades don't work well in confined spaces.
Combat: Blades: Working in unison with another.
Detection: Following footsteps in the snow.
Discipline: Having the courage to leap into the unknown.
Discipline: Mind over matter.
Discipline: Embrace the cold, lest it embraces you.
Endurance: Climbing when wet and cold.
Endurance: Controlling your breathing will help to stop your body from panicking.
Field Craft: Surviving in the cold.
Leadership: Sometimes it's not what you know, but who you know.
Navigation: Recognising familiar landmarks.
Navigation: Using rope can help to keep a group together.
Seafaring: Being part of the crew means doing your role.
Swimming: Brace yourself for cold water.
Swimming: Don't fight the current.
Swimming: Control your breathing.
Tactics: Attacking from two flanks can give you an advantage.
Tactics: Outnumbering your opponents can give you an advantage.

Non-Skill Knowledge:
Faith: Is humble despite her fame.
Faith: Can talk to ghosts.
Faith: Knows how to wield a blade.
Location: Ishallr
Tradition: Dunking

Loot: +1 Echo scroll

Name: FAITH

Points awarded: 15

Skill Review: All Skills used appropriate to level

Notes:
Think my favorite part was Darius squeeing over meeting Faith. But the sudden addition of Dylan Thomas was a close second! That and Spidey destruction... either way! Good job from you both, it was a nice story and an interesting exploration of the ice caves that I've never even heard of before. Enjoy your rewards!

If you have any questions, comments or concerns in regards to this review, feel free to PM.
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