Talus Kahar's House - Living Room - Crown's Refuge
- Built mostly by his own hands, this is the first structure built by the exiled Emperor of Fastheld, Talus Kahar XIV, as a project to learn self-sufficiency among the denizens of the Wildlands.
- The main living room area is rather spacious, with room for a couch and several chairs. An L-shaped wooden counter divides this area from the kitchen and dining area. A door leads to his bedchamber.
Wilesly is sitting in one of the chairs of the living room, his eyes resting on the orb known as Silvan Dimrost. His brow furrows as he writes at something in the small booklet he has been recently recording in, or more specifically sketching at. Despite his intense concentration he appears to be sitting in a better posture and wearing a fresh shirt. No more bloody bandage for him.
After another day of surveying the area directly surrounding Crown's Reach with the troops and doing foot patrols, Lucius returns to the centre of the town and into the house with a bowl of stew in his hands, helmet hanging off his belt.
Scribble. Scratch. Scribble. Wilesly continues jotting away in his notebook, only looking up towards the orb every so often. After a short while he breaks his concentration to cast an exasperated glance around the room, just in time to catch Lucius. "Hullo Lucius. Anything interesting to report?", Wilesly asks, his eyes speaking of a lack of sleep.
"Trees, plants, some strange animals. Berries. Not too much." Lucius shakes his head, motionioning with the spoon in his hand over to Sly's notebook. "And yourself, Wilesly? What's the plan now that we're here?" Vhramis steps into house, hauling with him several large pieces of firewood. He shoves the door closed behind him with a foot, working to cross the room, while glancing to soldier and 'deeper'.
"Apparently /he/ is coming. The red Drake.", Wilesly remarks, running his hand through his hair and letting out a vexed sigh as he considers the question. "That being the case I want us to at least start on our original mission while we are able. When possible I want you to start escorting our civillian experts out, the miners and smiths mostly. One of the cartographers might be useful aswell. Nothing to far out mind you but perhaps you might locate a willing scout among the locals." He eyes Vhramis as he enters the room offering a nod and a smile. "...if they aren't entirely too busy."
"I want you to send back a message to Fastheld Keep, as soon as you can. We need more troops, and perhaps some stone to construct fortifications. The higher the walls, the better protected the population both feels and is." Lucius states. "As for the other tasks.. Of course. This will be done in the next days."
"Something I want to show you two," Vhramis adds, leaning down to lay the logs by the fireplace. He reaches to the heavily tarnished brass clasp holding his increasingly threadbare looking cloak on, and unfastens it. "Not sure if your soldiers have scouted the tower yet. But if they haven't, I'll lead you all to it."
"I will take your /recommendation/ into consideration Lucius.", Wilesly quips lightly, but his voice is stern just to make sure the Bladesman understands his point. "I'll be sure to include it within my reports and correspondence. I believe the Pride has mostly offloaded its supplies and will proceed with scouting some of the waterways with some of their own people. When they return to moorings I will be sending those who wish to return back with the Pride, any samples the experts should find, and word back to Her Grace." He stands from his seat, closing the small leather book with a clap and places the quill down on the desk. It should be noted he doesn't wince as he springs up and moves with customary grace, checking his swordbelt in the process. "Sounds good, Master Wolfsbane. Do you intend to show us now?"
"The Watchtower down past the Palisade, near the Crossroads?" Asks Lucius, motioning in that vague direction with a finger. "No, we haven't been in it. Been around it but not inside." Lucius turns to Wilesly. "Diplomatic situation permitting, I will not have my men be cut to pieces by the next Wildling attack. This is not your realm of expertise, and I /am/ the military head of the expedition. As such, I do not wish for the township to be attacked oncemore. The people of here were worse than decimated.. as I said, diplomatic situation with the locals permitting, the decision for troops will be up to His Majesty and the Blademaster. I only ask you to pass this message on up, if you will, for the next run to Fastheld."
"Not that tower," Vhramis replies, looking to both of them, a bit of a frown coming to his face. He refastens the cloak. "It's deeper. Into the woods. I can bring us there swiftly, if you wish to go now. But it's something that I feel should be reported, so you'll need to see it at some point. And I'll second Lucius' request. We need more soldiers here."
Wilesly nods lightly towards Lucius and Vhramis, the coy smile not leaving his face. "Which is precisely the way I intended to report and recommend. However if either of you should like to include any correspondence be sure to get it to me before the Pride lifts anchor." Then another nod is directed towards Vhramis, "I'm ready to check it out. Are your troops in condition to head out Lucius?"
"I will leave a guard at the township to keep eye on our belongings. We're also down a man right now, while he recovered from the light wounding he recieved. Thank the Light for armour." Lucius grins a little bit, dourness lifted from his face. "We will take five Daggers besides me."
Vhramis nods to the two and steps over to the corner of the house, lifting up his quiver and cloth wrapped object - his bow. "I'll be by the gates, then, when you're both ready to go." He inhales a bit, bracing himself against the cold he's soon to be immersed in, and moves to the door and out.
Crown's Refuge Palisade <Wildlands>
- Running around the perimeter of the bluff upon which the township Crown's Refuge stands, the Crown's Refuge Palisade is a testament to the accomplishments that Talus Kahar has achieved in shaping the sovereign outpost into something greater than the sum of its parts.
- The Palisade itself is a fortification consisting of a strong fence made of numerous fifteen-foot stakes driven into the ground, with the purpose of this being to surround Crown's Refuge with a wall in order to fortify its position atop Refuge Bluff. Combined with the advantage of height, and the craftsmanship of the palisade wall itself, this is a purpose it accomplishes well.
- Six watchtowers have been built into the Palisade wall to add extra security to the township it protects, with four being situated at the "corners" of the township's boundary, and two flanking the main gate that leads both in and out of the township within. A walkway is set around three-tenths below the top of the palisade, allowing people to patrol or walk around the outskirts of Crown's Refuge, and serving as a vantage point for archers to pepper animals and Wildlings with arrows from behind protection should the need arise.
- It is this gate that you stand at now; the path leading back down Refuge Bluff resting to the south, the Palisade stretching off to the east and west as they circle the hill, and Crown's Refuge itself only a few more steps to the north, across the threshold of the Palisade gate, and beyond the aegis once more.
Vhramis stands at the gates of the palisade, looking out to the growing shadows as the sun sets.
Wilesly sets down the hill towards the gates, his leather travelling cloak pulled tightly about his forms. He moves slowly enough that he might very well materialize next to Vhramis, "Lucius will be down in a moment. Wrangling up the troops." His own eyes are drawn to the sunset.
His glowing shield in one hand, blue light reflecting off of his armour, Lucius Nepos and a group of five Blades exit from the Palisade. Three of them are heavy infantry while the remaining two seem to be archers, garbed in the imperial chain rather than steel plate. "Shall we move?" Lucius hands off his lantern to another Blade, the one directly behind him. This is lit, further increasing the light the group has. "Stick together when we're marching, it's gonna get dark and you don't wanna be stuck out here."
"Careful of what you touch out there," Vhramis warns, giving the small group a brief look before tugging the cloth off his bow, letting the soft glow come forth. He nods his head to them and turns about, making his way swiftly down the hill towards the forest, and lone watchtower.
Wilesly offers a simple nod and continues after Vhramis. His head turns slowly to observe his surroundings, standing inbetween Vhramis and the group of Blades.
Lucius Nepos offers Vhramis a helmeted nod, his face bathed in the combined light of the seraphite and flame. "Don't touch anything, period, unless I tell you to." He simply tells the troops, who nod collectively.
The ranger moves along, glancing up to the watchtower, and exchanging nods with one of the human sentires there. "Into the forest," he explains, leading them towards the darkened and noisy wood.
Moving with no lack of noise but also no speech, the Daggers follow Vhramis into the forest.
Wilesly is sandwiched in between the two parties so has no choice but to go into the forest.
Forest Wilds <Verdigris>
- So named for the distinctive blue and green hues that the leaves of the monoecious deciduous Verdigris trees that grow only in this expansive region of the Wildlands, the Verdigris Forest is at once archaic and resplendent, and home to all kinds of durable flora and fauna that, at times, put even the most astounding forests of Fastheld to shame, shattering the illusion of the Wildlands being bleak and evil places.
- Approximately seventy miles across from north to south, and thirty miles from east to west, Verdigris is a place where time seems to stand still; a waking dream of the ancient days before the Cataclysm that would bring about new and dangerous times for the greater world around it. A place of untold beauty and ancient secrets. Of Wildlings, Drakes, and the Arcane...
- Light streaks down - be it of sun or moon - from the cracks in the thick canopy overhead, while blue and green hues of densely packed forest assault those who walk through this region with unyielding dedication, making passage somewhat difficult. Undergrowth of thick moss and hedges provide a somewhat comfortable terrain to walk upon all the same, while the sounds of the natural inhabitants chatter away heedless of your intrusion into their domain. The edge of the forest rests to the north.
Vhramis slows his step a bit as they move past the fringes and deeper into the lush forest, the setting sun casting deep shadows, and bringing out the blues and greens of the surrounding growth. "While we're here...I'm going to watch for wildling tracks," Wolfsbane reports to Wilesly and Lucius, the man's eyes dropping to the forest floor for a few moments, before picking up pace again.
"Alright." Lucius answers briefly, his own eyes sweeping across the forest in front of him, lower, high in the trees, trying to cover all paths. He continues to follow.
Wilesly doesn't seem to voice any objective, nodding his head once while his mouth hangs open slightly, gaze shifting from shaded tree to shadded tree. After awhile of that he huffs a bit of his breath into his hands and rubs them together. "A wee bit cold tonight, ay? At least not cold and wet."
"Mm," Vhramis mutters in response, looking about to some of the bushes low to the ground, perhaps watching for broken branches, or other signs of passing, on the off chance they came this way. He turns a bit after passing a particularly large tree and heads southish.
- Thin underbrush interspersed with violet blossoms grows around thick stands of verdigris. Small rodents can be heard trilling and capering about in the trees. Smaller animals rustle among the shrubbery. A narrow creek gurgles off to the side of the trail.
The last sight of Crown's Refuge is lost as the forest swallows the group, surrounding them on all sides. Vhramis has a slight frown on his face as he weaves through the trees, leading them in as straight a direction as possible, despite the lack of established paths, aside from game trails. It's largly impossible to move perfectly quiet, what with the large number of dried leaves carpeting the forest floor. "Fastheld is far off in...that direction," the pathfinder explains to the group, gesturing in a vague direction.
The troops look almost uniformly to the aformentioned direction, even if it is only for a brief moment before they resume watch. Any mention of home appeals straight to their hearts, evidently. Lucius asks as they continue to move, "What is this tower, exactly?"
Wilesly peers out from beneath his cloak at the mention of home, his eyes darting only for a moment in the direction before returning to the task at hand. His footsteps are light and well practiced, more so than most men, but he still makes a fair amount of noise as he does so. His hand instinctively dangles near the pommel of Diplomacy the whole while the group walks.
"I was told little of it, aside from it once being a tower that another Archmage lived in. A host tower of the Arcane, I believe the words were," Vhramis replies, glancing up sharply as some creature hidden in the branches of a nearby tree begins shrieking at the group, apparently feeling it's territory is being invaded. The ranger scowls and looks ahead again, disregarding it.
Lucius Nepos 's expression grows more somber at the mention of an archmage and he simply moves along, with no response to Vhramis.
- The rotted trunk of a toppled verdigris tree has fallen across the trail that runs through these woods, and has recently been converted into a home for a family of rabbits, it seems. Birds can be heard singing in the higher branches of nearby trees. Flowering sapphire lotuses blossom on vines that sprawl over a low bluff.
"Oh. That's encouraging.", Wilesly mumbles to himself. "Poking about a tower where a Shadowed mage /used/ to take resiedence. Are we to find it empty or the lair of whatever made lunch of the poor soul?". He grimaces slightly, whether it is to the thought or the cold remains unknown.
Vhramis glances over his shoulder to peer at Wilesly, slowing his pace long enough to speak. "If you intend to go inside, you can tell us what's there. I haven't gotten near it." He looks forward again, sighing, and speeds the group's pace a bit.
"I think it would be best to leave that alone until we can get someone with some.. leverage, against such forces to accompany us." Lucius suggests handily, accomodating the slowed pace.
- A small spring gurgles next to a cluster of young verdigris trees. Rabbits can be heard snuffling about in the nearby undergrowth. Smaller animals rustle through the shrubbery around them. Something loud and dangerous stalks the woodlands further to the west.
Wilesly smirks at Vhramis lightly. "Well perhaps it took a stroll.", Wilesly quips. Some skittering in the woods quickly wipes the smirk of Wilesly's face and he is back to the objective at hand." He moves to pick up the pace again.
- The shadows of the forest seem to be thicker here, the whispers of the wind slipping through the overhead branches sounding like chants of some demonic cult or religious order. The noises of native animals and natural elements are hushed, as if nature itself were holding their breath and waiting for something to happen. Bright flowers of sapphire, ivory, and violet dapple the otherwise bleak trunks of the verdigris trees, bringing a spark of brilliant life into this otherwise somber region of the wilds.
"We're close," Vhramis warns the group, though his words are probably unneeded, what with the heavy silence that seems to gradually surround them as they progress. He tugs his hood up over his head, perhaps to better protect against the cold night air.
And as of now, the only light is coming from seraphite instruments and the one lamp that's held by the blades; as they move along in a group, they also make some noise which disturbs the silence, although they try to be as quiet as possible. Lucius's expression has taken a serious look, as his gaze sweeps the area.
Wilesly gives a stiff nod towards Vhramis, his eyes now starightforward and his cloak wrapped tightly about his person, not caring to watch the shadows dance or pay heed to the whispering of the wind. "Time to take a peek," Wilesly murmurs.
- The shadow of the forest is absolute here; an ominous seething darkness that remains defiant against the light that attempts to stream in between the oppressive branches above, seething from an unknown source into every corner of the greater forest around it. It is, to say the least, perpetually bleak in this region of the Verdigris. Bleak and quiet, for there seems to be no life in the undergrowth, or in the trees overhead. The air is heavy with moisture and tension, forsaken by bright blossoms and populated with lotuses of sinister shades and tones.
- Something looms in the distance to the north, striking out from the forest depths to reach for the heavens above. Though it is difficult to make out between the somber depths of the dense foliage ahead, it is undoubtably this structure that has cast its shadow upon the forest around it...
Vhramis' expression grows more grim, the man almost biting his lip and trudging on. His guidance isn't quite needed anymore, really, as the place he was taking them too is most likely easily seen jutting into the starry night sky.
Drakespire Citadel <Verdigris>
- If the ever growing shadows of a forest usually abundant with light were not indication enough, then the silence that creeps into the large clearing that you stand within - a silence in a forest otherwise teeming with sound and life - is more of an exhortatory feeling than those who step into such places are usually privy too before the darkness overwhelms them. A silence so loud as to deafen the senses. A saturninity horribly out of place.
- The clearing itself seems mostly unremarkable, save for the caliginosity that is cast upon the area by trees that insinuate vexation at any not of the natural order who tread beneath their ever vigilant gaze; a grove of malicious bark too ancient to be swayed by the appeal of younger creatures, and too bitter to accept them without casting complaint in the form of a contrived twilight created by dense branches and foliage as the twisted gnarls of the great oaks conspire to drown out the sun.
- The soil underfoot, rocky and devoid of grass, is also of note, for it exists of a shade much darker than the otherwise lighter and fertile shades of earth found in other regions of the Verdigris. Incontrovertibly scorched via means unknown. A tale held by terra firma as silent as the clearing around it.
- Perhaps the most ominous feature of all, however, is the unnatural structure that stands in the middle of the clearing: An ancient and jagged spire of a citadel carved of the bleakest obsidian, shaped into the similitude of a rising tower that features many flowing buttresses and turrets, all flowing together around a design so abstract that it seems to have been forged from broken glass; all ferocious angles and indignant shards, as if the spire intended to strike at and wound the very sky itself.
- If the dark manifestation that is the construction of the citadel was not ominous enough, then one only needs to cast their gaze upwards to find yet another foreboding sight: That of a stone drake, smaller than those who still breath, coiled around the upper sections like a venomous snake ready to strike, wings unfurled and spread angrily, jaws wide in a hostile posture, claws tearing into the obsidian beneath it, head angled to snarl at the forsaken sky above.
- The chronicle of the dark citadel is one that the structure and the clearing around it hold secret amidst the perpetually foreboding quiet. Yet there is a presence about this place that speaks even without words; malice from the darkness of the citadel itself, and a great aura of malevolence and pernicious sculpture that snakes around it. Too substantial to be a mere simulacrum. After all, statues do not blink...
Vhramis crunches along a few steps on the rocky soil, before abruptly stopping, staring at the sight for a few moments. "I don't bring us any closer," he finally says. "I've never been in a place that's felt so...wrong."
As soon as the Daggers exit the palace, something is inherently felt by them. Most adopt confused, slightly irritated expressions on their face and seem to be quite a bit more tense - especially at the sight of the Drake at the top. Lucius adjusts the shield on his arm. "Worry not, brave Warlord, for I doubt that any of us wish to go closer. This is the most frightening thing I've ever seen, something that could surely not have been built with human hands."
Wilesly has stopped in his tracks a few paces back from Vhramis, his mouth agape as he cranes his neck to take in the tower. "Sweet Light...I've never even believed that such things could be imagined before one has seen it.", Wilesly whispers to himself. To Vhramis, he asks, "What is this place?"
Swallowing hard, Vhramis lifts a hand to point to the statue coiled around the peak of the tower. Perhaps to answer both of them, "...And there is the past inhabitant of the tower, if the mage told me right. Once a human like us, he sought to become a drake. And he succeeded, right before the Lady turned him to stone."
"And for the best, I imagine. We were never meant to be Drakes, and Light-willing we will never be saddled with such neverending responsibility and the endless passage of time and immortality." Lucius notes to himself and the others, still regarding the obsidian tower with some suspicion.
"And people thought /I/ was overly ambitious.", Wesley remarks darkly as his eyes center on the Drake. He looks towards Vhramis after a suitable bit of gawking. "I wonder if the place is as dead as it looks."
"I'm unsure," Vhramis replies, shaking his head slightly. "I've not gone close enough to suitably search for an entrance to it. I don't think I even want to know what things he kept in such a place."
"My men do not defend directly against the arts of the Shadow. This is a place built with such arts, we can all feel it in our flesh and bones. If you wish to venture inside, Master Sprigg, then Light keep! But my soldiers and I are not going in there, unless someone with similar power to that," Lucius motions towards the stone drake, "or what imprisoned it is with us."
"Fear not Lucius, for I just pose conjecture.", Wilesly remarks in the same hushed tone. His eyes give it one last thorough scan and he can't help but shiver as he takes the monstrosity in. "Is that it then Master Wolfsbane?", Wilesly asks, in a tone that suggests he may wish it to be.
"That's it," Vhramis mutters in response. "Add it in your report. I'm sure someone somewhere may figure something to do with it." He turns away from the structure, looking to the soldiers. "If you're ready, Lucius, I'll bring us back."
"That emboldens me, then, Sly." Lucius says towards the aformentioned man, nodding his head, and then shifts his gaze to Vhramis. "I'd say we're very ready." The troops do an about face, ready to move out. They seem a tad bit shaken up by the tower.