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> WG - The Mystery of the Poisoned Healer
mALX
post Jul 24 2013, 01:27 PM
Post #21


Ancient
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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Cyrodiil, the Wastelands, and BFE TN



*

Eyja:


"The Khajiit was walking?" Eyja felt the relief of that. They'd only bought her a very low dose of the Cure Disease, maybe just enough to make Maxical mobile to get her where they were going.

As her hand folded over the dagger's hilt the merest sliver of a silvery vaporous mist moved down Seth's arm and up her own, nearly causing her to drop the blade. She steeled herself and clutched it tightly.

"You've tamed an ancestral ghost for this; it lives within the blade, I saw it! I've heard of these, but never seen one till now."

Eyja cast a light travel armor on herself before tucking the dagger into the waistband. "What stories you must have of your travels, I would love to hear them all. You should publish your memoirs one day. Thank you, Seth."

She touched the amulet on her neck. "I'll only use this if the need is overwhelming to do so. It may be. The Altmer is a powerful Battlemage. I've never taken on one of her skill level in face-to-face in combat out in the open before, only from the shadows. And that Orc, they are not an easy kill even using stealth."

Eyja caught Seth's questioning glance and explained. "Though he may not have been with them at the time you saw them, she is traveling in company with an overly large Orc man of the worst reputation. He was carrying bedrolls and winter gear tied to his pack, so I'm sure he'll be one of the party."

She tied her travel pack tightly shut and hefted it, watching Seth already beginning to prepare the ingredients for the potion. "Was it still dark when you saw them?"

Eyja's shoulders slumped at Seth's nod and answer. It was under two hours from when they had left the healers. She had hoped they would try to obtain a Welkynd Stone before going. Maybe that's why the Orc wasn't traveling with them, he may have been waiting for the Mages Guild to open and then catch up with them. Or robbing one of the collectors in town.

"Then they still have a major advance on us. We'll need horses if we're to catch them, I'm going to talk to the proprietor here and see if she has any to rent." She thanked Seth again and hurried out, automatically turning the latch on the door before pulling it shut behind her.



OOC:

Eyja's armor can be seen in this screen:


http://i434.photobucket.com/albums/qq67/Ma...eenShot1051.jpg


*

This post has been edited by mALX: Jul 24 2013, 01:40 PM


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Grits
post Jul 24 2013, 08:55 PM
Post #22


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Joined: 6-November 10
From: The Gold Coast



Abiene

Abiene stepped out of the Mages Guild and walked into Great Oak Place. Earana was nowhere in sight, and neither was Honditar.

Alberic Litte strolled into the circle and made his way around toward the Mages Guild. He raised a hand in greeting when he spotted Abiene.

She returned the wave and moved out under the tree. She had the information they needed, and now she felt as if a target was painted across her back.

A Chorrol guardsman strode through, making his rounds. “Good day, citizen.” He gave her a wink as he passed.

Abiene smiled back when she recognized him. “Good day, Constable Meglio.” This was not the time to enquire about his carbuncle. Besides, his jaunty gait was enough to tell her it had not recurred.

Best to wait for Eyja or Honditar, she decided. Time is short, and we might miss one another if we are all running about searching. They will find me easily here.

She sat down to wait.



Screenshot


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Black Hand
post Jul 25 2013, 02:20 AM
Post #23


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Joined: 26-December 05
From: Where the sun shines everyday in hell.



Focus. The mental command came.

Causality. You know this.

These reported events,...are like an arrow shot at my heart...that lands at my feet. I choose not to pick it up and stab myself with it.

He read, and re-read the list for the potion, and examined all of the ingredients twice over. He felt the textures between his thumb and forefinger. He felt the weight with well-trained hands, becoming a far more accurate scale than most 'honest' merchants. He smelled the ingredients with slow inhales, comparing the scents to his knowledge, especially as scent was the sense most closely tied to memory. He compared notes, and thought through the process.

Technically, three different potions. Three different batches. Two will mix together...the third would make it toxic. He shook his head over the puzzle. This was the true challenge of Alchemy. Potion and Poison were so close in words, but also in effect. Too much and a life-saving elixir would take life just as swiftly. A little salt to change the alkaline level and a toxic chemical could be as harmless as water.

Well...water can be toxic if used incorrectly.He corrected himself, realizing he had drowned Men and Mer before. Never in rage,...just a powerful sedative and they never felt a thing, and no one questioned it.

Could the third batch be separated as well? He thought, and started to dip his pen and write down the equation, trying to balance it out the pen scratching slowly over the parchment.

Twenty minutes later, he finally got it and smiled slowly.

As ever, the simplest solution is usually the correct one. He said grabbing the sack and carefully placing the ingredients next to his workstation.

Abelle Chriditte was the Master Alchemist in the book: "The Cake and the Diamond", once I thought was a work of fiction, described an aged crone who fooled some thieves out of their diamond. Her blend of Alchemy was something out of a work of fiction to begin with.

'Field Alchemy' she called it. The surprising discovery of a young-ish, vivacious apothecary living in the propylon chamber of Valenvaryon, no less. The ancient, and mostly abandoned Dunmer Stronghold on the northernmost coast of Vvardenfell proper.

The denizens were Malacath worshippers. Orcs. A few challenged his right to pass through unharmed. It was an argument they lost. Then to come across her after he had acquired the index from Nibani Maesa at nearby Urshilaku Camp, where he learned of his destiny, seemed to be that same destiny unfolding before him.

"The Orcs here are not evil. I didn't approach them like they were. That's why I can live and barter here unharmed." Abelle Chriditte had told him.

"Teach me." he asked.

"Oh, my skills are for hire." she said with a greedy smile.

Many weeks passed and his skill grew. Until she said she could teach no more.

"Than..I am a master alchemist now?" He asked.

"No." She shook her head. "But, neither am I."

He thought she had swindled him. Until she explained.

"Firstly, the Mages Guild does not know everything. They try to standardize it, but the world is a wide, open place. If I learn every flora, every fauna in Morrowind...what good does that do me in Cyrodiil?" She asked, as he nodded, finally understanding.

"I move from province to province, I learn everything that I can. I may be considered a master here, but when I go to Hammerfell, my 'score' may as well be five." She explained.

"I learned how to break a diamond down at it's weakest parts using my wit and minimal resources. I bet those hedge wizards in Skyrim and Cyrodiil don't even know that you can use one in alchemical processes!" She laughed, not knowing how right she would become.


In these latter days of his life, it seemed he held onto a lost art. Rubies, emeralds, diamonds. They all held alchemical qualities that their value had made the world forget over time. But, he was older than this current world was, and some things should never be forgotten. No matter how small.

He added the final, secret ingredient to the potion. The one unifying aspect, the keystone that held it all together in perfect balance. Rarely did he laud himself, this once he would allow it.

Even enough left over for a backup. He thought, hiding it in the upper rafters, carefully wrapped so the vial would not break, should it fall.

One can never be too careful.
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mALX
post Jul 25 2013, 07:23 AM
Post #24


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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Cyrodiil, the Wastelands, and BFE TN



*

Honditar:


Honditar spotted Abiene sitting at the circle and hurried up to her, his expression grim. "What I've learned is not good. Whatever Earana is doing with these experiments, none of the subjects have survived them. She seems to think she can harness the power of lightning into some spell is all they could tell me."

He sat down beside Abiene to catch his breath.

"There is an Ayleid site somewhere to the North she brings them, but they could give me no further description than that. Maxical and the rest were kept in a dungeon below the city itself, in the sewer system. It is no rumor, I found their lair. There is access at the lowest chamber of the Crumbling Mine. Maxical has been there, I found this pack and recognized it as the one she carried."

He held up the pack. "I brought it with me. The shirt and greaves she was wearing earlier were beside the bed, I put them in the pack as well."

Honditar nodded his head toward Nermus the Mooch, who responded by folding his hands together and bowing his head as if conferring a blessing on Honditar.

"If their blessings are carried to the gods, I should have good luck the rest of my days."

He turned back to Abiene.

"They have a wolf guard the Khajiit, you can imagine how frightening that must be for them. There is a full laboratory there of alchemical mixtures to make the subject obedient to Earana's command and dependent on her..."

Honditar broke off and gave Abiene a direct look.

"Skooma. Beside the bed was a bowl of thick cream that had been laced with Skooma. They drug the cream, she becomes addicted and will do anything for more. Those other potions will make a thrall of her, we may be fighting all three of them until the spells and potions have worn off. I hope she is not adept in combat."

Honditar bumped his knee gently against Abiene's. "I took a bottle of the cream and mixed some dispel potion in it. Where is Eyja? We'll need to leave quickly if we're to catch them, they know where they are going and we don't; unless you've learned something I haven't."


Maxical in the black robe:



http://i434.photobucket.com/albums/qq67/Ma...zps7ac823f7.png




The lab in the sewer system below Chorrol:



http://i434.photobucket.com/albums/qq67/Ma...zps6a2a14f3.png




The lair in the sewers where Maxical was held:



http://i434.photobucket.com/albums/qq67/Ma...zpsc6fd6104.png




The access through Crumbling Mine:


http://i434.photobucket.com/albums/qq67/Ma...zps66627d48.png



*

This post has been edited by mALX: Jul 25 2013, 09:28 AM


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mALX
post Jul 25 2013, 11:20 AM
Post #25


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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Cyrodiil, the Wastelands, and BFE TN



*

Eyja:

Between the lack of sleep, her empty stomach that had been groaning since smelling Seth's meal cooking, and the tension of Maxical's situation; Eyja was in no state to remember she had learned of Lleris's disappearance while sneaking in chameleon in an area of the Inn off limits to guests.

She approached the proprietor Bograk with a sympathy for one who cared about a missing child, feeling she was in the same situation and wished she could have broken down as the Orc had done.

"Has your lad Lleris been found? I hope all is well with him, I know you were greatly concerned."

Bograk's eyes widened and one brow lifted as she turned to face Eyja. Her hard look softened at the obvious concern and sympathy in Eyja's eyes and expression.

"I sent for the healer, but she couldn't be found. He's not well, not well at all. Some disease the healer herself brought, and now can't be found to cure. Inform her if someone falls ill, she said; then up and disappears like a fart in a windstorm." Bograk snorted her frustration.

Seth had given her three Cure Disease potions the night before. Eyja had thought to save them all for Maxical, but the worry in the Orc's eyes was more than she could bear. She opened her pack and dug around till her fingers touched one of the odd-shaped vials Seth had given her. As an afterthought, she pulled a Mandrake root out as well.

"Here, I was given three of these last night. My sister...my close friend has caught the same disease; a very close friend. This root is for you to eat, it will keep you from getting ill while taking care of him."

Eyja waved off Bograk's offer of Septims.

"No, no. If he is well and your worry ended, that will be my payment. My worry won't end till I'm able to reach my friend, it is the white Khajiit that was in here this morning. She doesn't fight off illness as well as others. She has been kidnapped, and the ruffians that have her were seen heading North. I'll need horses to catch them, and two go with me to help find her and take her back from them. I hoped I might rent them from you rather than the stables at Chorrol."

Bograk shook her head. "The horses belong to the guests, all but one; my mare. Tell Lowren I said to saddle up Sapphire for you. I'll loan her to you, no rent needed." She held up the Cure Disease potion, indicating that was her payment.

"I turned down an offer to rent her not hours ago. Necromancers in their black robes." She snorted.

Eyja gave a start. "Black robes? The ones that kidnapped my friend were seen wearing black robes! I hope the Chorrol stables didn't rent them horses, we'll never catch them!"

"Uuuoh, she won't fair well with that type. They come in with those black robes marked with evil, I won't even rent them a room." Bograk shook her huge head vigorously and glanced around as if looking for a spittoon.

"Bongond would sell to Dagon if he was in the market for a horse; but that's all he'll do, sell them; and for twice what they're worth."

Bograk clamped her massive hands on Eyja's shoulders and turned her by them, pointing to two armored men breakfasting at a small table.

"Those two are regulars and have a fair sized tab with us. Tell them I've asked for the use of their horses in exchange for it. It'll be up to them if they accept. We'll work out a fair settlement when you return."

She brushed past Eyja barely nodding at her thanks, then nearly thundered up the steps with the potion.

Eyja's stomach rumbled loudly as she approached the table. The smell and sight of the food was wreaking havoc with her inside; but thinking of the poisoning Abiene took, she turned down the offer to join the men in their breakfast; and was very glad she'd changed into armor from the short skirt and low cut top by the way they were ogling her.

By the time Eyja finished talking with Baurus the Kind and Silas the Brawler, she had three horses being put to in the stables. They were more than happy to accommodate when they learned their tabs would be zeroed out, and quickly ordered some ale with their breakfast.


*

This post has been edited by mALX: Jul 25 2013, 11:28 AM


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Grits
post Jul 25 2013, 12:30 PM
Post #26


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Joined: 6-November 10
From: The Gold Coast



Abiene

Honditar bumped his knee gently against Abiene's. “Where is Eyja? We'll need to leave quickly if we're to catch them, they know where they are going and we don't; unless you've learned something I haven't.”

“I think I know where they’re going,” said Abiene. “I went into the Mages Guild to see if anyone had purchased a Welkynd stone, and Teekeeus was in the middle of a hissing fit. Gaturn had been there already this morning. Teekeeus must know of his association with Earana, because he was ranting about her and Fingers of the Mountain. I’ll spare you the rest. Suffice it to say it has been a sore topic with Teekeeus for some time. Anyway I remember a friend’s involvement with the Guild once took him to Cloud Top on some errand for Teekeeus related to that spell. Something made Teekeeus connect the Welkynd stone with that Ayleid magic he’s been trying to restrict. Anyway I thought that was a good enough clue to stop enquiring about the stone and try to catch them on the way up! You know how to get to Cloud Top, don’t you? I’ve been trying to ask Darnand, but I can’t reach him.” Abiene patted the crystal ball inside her satchel to explain.

Honditar took the news with a grim kind of calm. Abiene felt the same way. “Where is Eyja?” he repeated.

“The Wobbly Goblet. She may be on her way back by now, that’s why I’m sitting out here. I didn’t want her to waste time looking.” Abiene lifted a bundle from the bench. “I bought some provisions from the street vendors. Eyja said the poison I drank was very rare, so I doubt whoever used it has enough to dose the whole city. They may even be out trying to find the ingredients to make some more.” Put that matter aside for now. “Honditar, I know plenty of folk who owe me favors. Given time I could surely convince a few to accompany us to Cloud Top. But I’m afraid we’re running out of time. I have a mount, and I am not always as helpless as I have been lately. Oh, and my Papa is a scroll maker.” She indicated her satchel again. “I have some scrolls. At the least I’d like to be there to help when you find Maxical. We know she will need healing.”


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mALX
post Jul 25 2013, 06:07 PM
Post #27


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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Cyrodiil, the Wastelands, and BFE TN



*

Honditar:

Honditar shook his head. "Never heard of Cloud Top. I've got some maps at my house, possible it could be marked on one of them; give us an idea where they're headed."

Honditar nodded when Abiene offered to come along. "I'd sure like it if you did. I saw the worry in Eyja, something I've never seen before in her; and I've known her decades. She'd want you there, but not put the burdon on you by asking. As far as I know, she's not slept or eaten either." He stood up.

"If you have a horse, get it saddled up. Wait at the stables for me and keep watch for Eyja. Emfrid said they were packed for overland, they probably won't be taking the roads; but just in case, you ask every Black Horse Courier that rides up if they've seen that Orc with an Altmer and one more."

As an afterthought he added, "If you've got room for some extra food in your saddlebags, I'll go by my house and get some stores for the trip; load my pack for travel. Won't take long, and Eyja will have to pass the stable if she is seeking us. If she hasn't come by then, we'll meet her at the Wobbly."

Honditar set out for his house; his mouth in a grim line, but a determined gleam in his eye. This was to be a hunt, just a different kind of hunt than he was used to. Still, he was a hunter; a good one. He could track deer, and an Orc walking in the soft ground of this area would leave a good foot trail to follow.

Honditar emptied his hunting pack and loaded it with all of the dried deer meat and dried fruits he had, and the last two loaves of tough thick bread he'd made the day before. The women wouldn't like it, but it was good for long treks to keep the belly full. Next he added two small sacks of roasted nuts.

He shoved his maps into a pocket of the pack without looking at them, and lastly tied his bedroll onto the pack. He tested his bow, then tied a second bow to his pack along with another quiver; and loaded both quivers well. After a glance around he added some fresh fruit to the pack and hurried down to the stable.


*

This post has been edited by mALX: Jul 26 2013, 03:34 AM


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Black Hand
post Jul 25 2013, 06:46 PM
Post #28


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Joined: 26-December 05
From: Where the sun shines everyday in hell.



Sethyas strode out from his temporary lair. Refitted with his gear, he thought he may have a chance to catch Eyja before the hour closed, and to deliver the potion. He strode past underwear casually placed on a doorknob, the universal sign of 'No Room Service'.

Kids these days...and in my days...and in the days before my days. He thought wryly. His marital arrangement was an interesting one regardless. Normally folks get married to grow old together. Neither he nor his spouse did that, so it allowed for long periods of time between their actually being together.

Much as it was in the old days between them. The Archmistress of the House Redoran and the Grandmaster of the Morag Tong having an affair for years, until...

That's that the past. He thought.

In the aftermath, they eventually settled down together. The irony of it all, was that the thing they wanted most, just to be with each other was far more peaceful, and much less passionate than the yearning for it. They fought as all couples did, and made up in similar fashions. But when the years passed by and they did so quickly, his wanderlust grew and her contentment in their arrangement waned they finally agreed that missing the other was as important as being with them.

He was allowed more or less free reign. He could come and go as he pleased, other women would be 'forgiven', though he never once strayed; nor believed her. Adventures and exploration was his first love though, so perhaps in these excursions of his, he was in a sense visiting a mistress, and the leave she gave him was her permission, and his return to her accepting arms her forgiveness.

Though, she also had the same leave on his part. She never once strayed either, and though he didn't relish the thought of her in another man's arms he could not deny her the freedom and equality she granted. If nothing else, the core of their relation had always been respect.

He exited the Inn into the stables and saw an Altmer man dressed in the skins of a hunter and a focused look on his visage. He then saw Eyja in some travel armor, and smiled slightly at the good timing.

"Hail!" he cried approaching cautiously.

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mALX
post Jul 25 2013, 10:50 PM
Post #29


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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Cyrodiil, the Wastelands, and BFE TN



*

Eyja:


Eyja turned in surprised relief when she heard Seth's voice. He wouldn't have left his room unless the potion were finished; she hadn't known him long, but sensed that about him. Sometimes you just know things instinctively about people.

There was some inner aura in Seth that came across as tangibly as a sight or sound. When he was near she felt safe, that she could rely on him; an odd feeling for someone who only rarely felt fear and had taken care of herself since before she'd even reached her teens.

Eyja caught the wariness when Seth approached, and understood him not wanting to talk openly before a stranger. Honditar himself had bristled slightly at his approach, not knowing in what capacity the stranger was hailing her. Eyja poked him in the side.

"It's not what you think, Honditar."

She greeted Seth and introduced him to Honditar by his full name, then gave him a quick briefing of what Honditar had learned about the drugs they were using on Maxical.

"The healer is on her way right now, she was delayed by Bongond demanding payment before she could take her own horse out of the stables. Thanks to the proprietor here we now have four horses to follow them on. I don't know whether to leave the extra horse here or bring it for Maxical to ride home on."

Honditar pounded his chest in respectful greeting to Seth, his hackles smoothed by the lack of flirtation in Seth's eyes when he glanced at Eyja.

"Well met, Sethyas." He pulled the maps from his travel pack. "Abiene thinks they are going to an Ayleid site called 'Cloud Top'. It is not a place I have heard of before. Eyja said they were spotted heading Northwest?"

He spread the map out on top of the apple barrel and drew a line with his finger in a Northwest direction, scanning the nearby markings as he went. Honditar kept shaking his head, then finally rolled up the map.

"Nothing on this one." He grabbed another of the maps and rolled it out on the barrel. Eyja grabbed another of his maps and did the same, rolling hers out on the ground.

"Cloud Top, I've got it!" She rubbed her finger across her lips and made a smudge on the map with the dab of lipstick that stuck to her finger.

"Look, it is almost North Northwest; but Seth saw them walking cross country in a Northwest direction. Maybe they do need to get that Welkynd Stone first, or are trying to throw you off track." She pointed at Honditar, then glanced at Seth.

"They didn't have the Orc with them, they must be circling around and meeting him North of Chorrol. The Proprietor here at the Inn said they came earlier trying to rent horses, but she refused them."

She showed a winding valley leading almost directly to the mark. "You know this area here, Honditar, is it as low as it looks on the map?"

Honditar shook his head. "No, whoever made the map exaggerated the depth of the valley and minimized the height of the hills. Look, this is in the midst of the Jeralls, it has to be mountains; but do you see any drawn there?"

"You are right. I wish we could get an idea of the terrain."

At the sound of hoof clops she glanced up quickly and called out a "Hail!" Eyja turned to Seth.

"This is Abiene, the healer whose stomach your potion will save."


*

This post has been edited by mALX: Jul 25 2013, 10:53 PM


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Black Hand
post Jul 26 2013, 12:30 AM
Post #30


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Joined: 26-December 05
From: Where the sun shines everyday in hell.



Seth's eyes flickered between the two. He inwardly smiled. He could tell that there had been a glint of admiration in her eyes when he had been bare-chested. Nor could he deny that her clothing, indeed her body was enticing.

But that was the extent of it. No doubt if any had seen her comings and goings from his room, the sight of a well-known 'lady of the night' exiting the room of a weary traveller would make a simple assumption. That served both their purposes quite well.

It's also why their trades made them assume nothing. She knew her strengths and she used them like razor-sharp weapons. That was where his true admiration came in. Not her body, but the way she used it to immediately control the perceptions of others.

As Master Andarys had taught him centuries ago, self-control granted one control over others. By predicting and controlling their perceptions, they moved in concert with your manipulations, thinking it was their idea the whole time. He didn't know if Honditar was within her webs, or not.

Either way, he would not say anything.

He replied to Honditar's greeting with an amiable nod, and slight smile.

He followed both their descriptions of the situation and the map of the terrain. He did repress a chuckle when she marked the location of Cloud Top with her lipstick. At once, logical yet uniquely her. He still didn't understand why people used daggers to stab a perfectly good map; and it wasn't like any of them had some charcoal immediately at hand.

He nodded at Eyja after she hailed the sound of approaching hooves. Turning his head to his left, so his face was hidden from Honditar he started to reach for the his pack and the potion. His eyes met hers, and they quickly flitted to his room window then back to hers, with an almost imperceptible nod. He hoped she was reading his signals correctly, and she seemed to.

He was paranoid to a fault, and wanted someone else to know there was another potion should anything happen to him. Regardless of how unlikely the situation. He'd survived plenty 'unlikely' scenarios by planning for them.

He unslung his pack, and turned around to greet Abiene.

"So, you're the one who's got everyone concerned. You have very loyal friends. That speaks well of your own character."

This post has been edited by Black Hand: Jul 26 2013, 12:32 AM
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mALX
post Jul 26 2013, 02:25 AM
Post #31


Ancient
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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Cyrodiil, the Wastelands, and BFE TN



*

Eyja:

The idea struck Eyja to mark the location of Cloud Top on Honditar's other maps so they could each carry a map with them in case they became separated. When she unrolled the other maps she was surprised to find Cloud Top marked in different spots on each map.

The one Honitar had originally looked at showed Cloud Top due North of Chorrol. Hers showed it North Northwest. The last map she unrolled had it West Northwest.

While Seth was greeting Abiene and talking to her about the potions, Eyja waved Honditar over and showed him the discrepancy in the maps. Honditar's brow furrowed over the maps, then cleared suddenly. He pointed to the map that showed it West Northwest.

"I've seen an Ayleid structure here, but it is in ruins and almost fully below the surface of a small pond." He shook his head. "In my memory and experience I'd have said it was one of their wayshrines or fountains of magicka. The area is good for deer and I've had a few wolf pelts down there at this time of year."

Eyja clouted him on the shoulder. "Don't regale me with hunting stories now, is it the right place or not? Maybe the water enhances the shock to the person."

"Or maybe it's not the right place. See this map here? If this one is right, North Northwest; this is unscalable mountains. To reach the ridge you have to travel south at least two miles from that underwater site to the foothills and start climbing there."

He pulled out the original map he had looked at when he hadn't found Cloud Top.

Eyja pointed to her lipstick mark. "It's due North of Chorrol. What is this snake like thing? Is that a road?"

"It can't be, it isn't marked." Honditar leaned over the map. "Hold up; it is an old mountain trail, a foot path! It must be little used if it isn't marked." He ran his finger from Chorrol following the trail and stopped suddenly.

"Look here, Eyja. There is an Ayleid ruin marked on the path due North of Chorrol, Hrotanda Vale. If she is needing Welkynd Stones, here is where she would go. That footpath will take her directly to the ridge by the quickest route; once on the ridge she can walk it to any one of these markings from there."

"But she was seen heading Northwest, surely we should go where we saw her heading. Maybe we'd better ask Seth what he thinks."

Honditar's eyes flickered a quickly doused flame of anger. "You want me to track them, it takes time when it is two light women. The Orc could be tracked as fast as he walks, but these two will barely leave a trail. We need to catch them, but sometimes heading them off if you know where they are headed is the better move."

"But we don't know where they are headed, two of these maps are wrong! And truthfully, we don't really know for a fact she is going to Cloud Top, that is conjecture. What if we are wrong, should we not follow them to be sure?"

The worry and exhaustion in Eyja's eyes softened Honditar's anger. He cupped her chin in his hand. "Aye, me darlin'. We'll do whatever it takes to get your friend back. Don't you panic, we'll get her."

Eyja nodded, and brushed his hand from her chin; but did take the bar of chocolate he offered readily. "I need this, I've not eaten."

Honditar sought Seth himself, and lowered his voice when he spoke; but Eyja heard him.

"Maybe you and I had better plan this out." He hitched his thumb in Eyja's direction. "Women don't plan as well when their emotions are stirred up."

"I heard that, Honditar."

Eyja rolled up the maps and jammed them into his pack. She was too emotional to think right now. Too hungry, too exhausted, too panicked. Maybe it would be best to stay out of the planning, but what if Honditar was wrong?

The worst part of it was, Honditar did know this stuff; he was a Master hunter. Seth could have said the same thing, and she would have trusted his judgment immediately. Why had she given Honditar a hard time? He'd even done his pirate imitation to ease her tension, and she'd all but slapped his hand from her face.

Eyja signaled Abiene to her while the men talked. "Abiene, do you have any potions for bitchiness? Not to give it to me, I already have it. I think my nerves are shot. I haven't eaten or slept in too long. I don't know if you know about Nords, but if we don't eat our personalities take a nosedive."


Lowren interrupted, signaling that he had all three horses saddled and the bedrolls tied behind the saddles. He pointed to the saddle bags.

"Miss Bograk packed you some special food for your trip, said her thoughts will be with you'ns till yer return."

Eyja's eyes caught Seth's, remembering their earlier conversation about not trusting the food here. Now it was being thrust on them. He seemed to get the same joke, his eyes gleamed with momentary amusement.

Lowren moved close to Eyja and cupped his hand under her knee to lift her into the saddle. He winked at Eyja and whispered quietly, "My thoughts will be with you too, remember we've a date; you and I."

Honditar's head had raised momentarily in the Bosmer's direction. Bosmer loved to flirt, but in this instance it was Eyja's fault; yesterday morning leaving the Inn she had flirted with him; promised a date with him when her weekend with Honditar ended.

That was before all this happened with Maxical, flirting with him now was the last thing on her mind. She shook her head no at him and eased the horse toward the gate, waiting for him to open it for her.




*

This post has been edited by mALX: Jul 26 2013, 03:15 AM


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Grits
post Jul 26 2013, 05:36 AM
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Abiene at North Country Stables

Abiene lowered the stirrup and checked the girth again. She felt like a child beside Jerric’s big gelding, but she knew Kip was gentle and easy to handle. The problem was not the horse. It was her leather trousers.

Bongond stood staring at Abiene’s back, finally silent. Irritation plucked at her nerves. His hectoring tone and demands had been enough to make her almost forget her fears and worries. Can I make it? Or rather, will the stitching hold?

Abiene had spent a few moments in town gathering riding gear and adding a warm cloak to her pack. Then at the stable she raided the belongings that Jerric had left in storage there. A spare ground cloth and blankets along with a few other camping supplies went into Kip’s saddlebags. Jerric’s horse could carry a Nord in steel armor and armed to the teeth. He might hardly notice a skinny Breton on his back no matter how many sweetrolls she had on her person.

“Leg up, miss?” asked Bongond.

Kip stood like a statue. Abiene sprang up and swung her leg over his back, settling gently into the saddle. She adjusted the stirrup, then lifted up to check the seat of her pants. “No thanks,” she said to Bongond. Then she leaned forward and ran a hand under Kip’s mane. “Ready, fellow? Let’s go.”

The Black Road had little traffic. Kip carried her to the Wobbly Goblet at an easy canter. Eyja and Honditar were visible by the stable, standing with a dark-haired Dunmer man. “Hail!” Eyja called out.

Abiene dismounted near them, trying not to stagger as her feet hit the ground. Haven’t used those muscles lately, she thought. Later there will just be a little bit more to heal. Kip stood quietly as she walked over.

Eyja looked stressed. Honditar’s posture suggested appeasement. But the Dunmer quickly claimed all of Abiene’s attention. His face bore a large, black tattoo depicting an open hand.

“So, you're the one who's got everyone concerned,” he said. “You have very loyal friends. That speaks well of your own character.”

Abiene discarded her conventional greeting with an inward sigh of relief. This must be the Alchemist. Eyja’s trust in him relieved her of the burden of judgment. Abiene had been floundering over her head since yesterday. Now she felt a sense of hope.

“I’m fortunate in those who have favored me with their friendship,” Abiene replied. “They are more precious to me than any treasure.” Eyja and Honditar began to bicker. “I owe Eyja my life,” Abiene continued. “And unless I’m mistaken, I owe you for my health. Your presence here has been a boon to me in a desperate hour. I hope that you are ever met with such good fortune.” She gave a wry smile. “And I suppose I’ll be content to wonder about the digestibility and flavor of netch leather.”

Lowren brought over three horses as they spoke. Abiene wondered if they had a plan. Her untrained instincts cried out to head for Cloud Top. Tracking the kidnappers might bring them to Maxical too late to help, and searching for where they might find a Welkynd stone seemed a silly gamble.

Speak up, she scolded herself. To the Void with decorum. “Eyja, may I fortify you for the journey? I might ease your fatigue with my spells. And I know I wasn’t asked, but I think perhaps we should ride for Cloud Top. We will make better time on the road and possibly have a chance to lay an ambush. I’m no fighter, but I’ve heard lots of talk. I wish to prevent a fair fight, and certainly avoid one on open ground.”



**

Screenshot: Abiene and Kip.


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Grits
post Jul 26 2013, 01:20 PM
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A bit more that I forgot to include, sorry

Abiene rummaged in Kip’s saddlebag. She offered a parcel to Eyja. “Here, I bought this from the street vendors between Chapel Street and Fountain Gate. I doubt that our poisoner could have predicted that. And I might not even be the target.” Cold fear crept through her again. She reached up and brushed away the tickle on the back of her neck, wondering if she would soon feel a bolt or blade. Pull yourself together. The quick glance over her shoulder was pointless, but it helped.

“There’s ham and cheese on a buttered roll in there,” she continued, “plus an apple and sweetcakes. You should take a moment to refresh yourself, my friend. Even the most dedicated woodcutter must pause to sharpen his axe.” Abiene glanced at Honditar to see if he wanted a snack.

“Also I’m going to run into the inn for a moment before I go. I can catch up if you don’t want to wait. Someone inside might know where Cloud Top is, and I’d like to try to reach Darnand again. I’m certain that he knows.” She tucked the crystal ball in its velvet wrapper into the crook of her arm. “I’m a poor summoner, and I’m sure my recent state hasn’t helped. Maybe I’ll get through this time.” If he even has his with him.

Sethyas stood quietly watchful. Abiene was skilled at reading even the subtlest facial cues, but his tattoo rendered his expression unfathomable. Rather than impulsively reaching out to him Abiene clasped her hands together. She spoke in a soft tone. “As a healer it’s my hope that you will never need my services, and lately I seem to be making promises I can’t be sure I’ll keep. But if there’s ever a way I might help you, I hope you’ll let me try.” She felt like a fawn offering aid to a mountain lion. Hopefully her gratitude didn’t sound like arrogance. She managed a little smile. “Even if it’s just getting you a table at the Oak and Crosier at eight bells on a Loredas night.”




.


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post Jul 26 2013, 05:36 PM
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*

Eyja:


Eyja grabbed the vial Abiene offered and downed it before she'd finished speaking. "Thank you..." She wiped the back of her hand across her mouth and handed her the empty vial back.

She was already mounted when Abiene offered the sandwich, but reached down to snatch it quickly. "Thank you!"

She surprised herself by managing to pause before downing the sandwich. "If you can catch up, will you check on Lleris really quickly while in there? Bograk is very attached to the boy. Once you've seen an Orc cry you don't want to see it again."

Eyja waited till Abiene was well up to the Inn before turning back to the men. She'd meant to catch Seth's eye to see which way he would advise her go; but his back remained to her, talking to Honditar as he was tying his bedroll and Maxical's and his packs on one of the black horses.

Honditar had pulled a bottle of cream from his pack and showed it to Seth, but their heads were together and Eyja couldn't hear their words.

"You're drinking milk now?" She fidgeted nervously, and Sapphire sidled with a snort as if her own tension was communicating to the mare. It probably was. She patted the mare absently and continued to watch the men, willing Honditar to move faster.

Seth's hand reached out almost in exaggerated slow motion, as Eyja watched he took the rein of the other black horse. It could have been just to tie it to Honditar's horse, but it struck Eyja with such a strong relief that she had spoken before she could stifle that feeling of relief from her voice.

"Seth, do you come too?"



*


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Black Hand
post Jul 27 2013, 01:23 AM
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“I’m fortunate in those who have favored me with their friendship,” Abiene replied. “They are more precious to me than any treasure.”

Eyja and Honditar began to bicker. “I owe Eyja my life,” Abiene continued. “And unless I’m mistaken, I owe you for my health. Your presence here has been a boon to me in a desperate hour. I hope that you are ever met with such good fortune.” She gave a wry smile. “And I suppose I'll be content to wonder about the digestibility and flavor of netch leather.”


“As a healer it’s my hope that you will never need my services, and lately I seem to be making promises I can’t be sure I’ll keep. But if there’s ever a way I might help you, I hope you’ll let me try.” . She managed a little smile. “Even if it’s just getting you a table at the Oak and Crosier at eight bells on a Loredas night.”


Sethyas was merely listening. Holding back was his way. He never struck until he was certain the blow was necessary and true. Rarely spoke if it weren't for a reason. Of course, he could have uncharacteristic moments as anyone could.

"Then your priorities are straight, Madame Healer. The Ashlanders of Morrowind have a parable: 'More stout than any stone wall are two true friends'." He agreed.

"There is no debt to be paid on your part, I am here to repay my debt to Eyja, as I also owe her mine." He said producing the potion.

"The netch leather is not technically digestible: remnant nematocysts survive long after death and treating for armor and the like, but as you know sometimes you need poison to cure poison." He considered the potion, and then handed it off to her, saving the rest of the lecture as a Healer hardly needed it.

The 'cure paralyzation' effect was most powerful in netch hide, and would do the lion's share of the work in healing any nerve damage.

"As far as cures go, you'll find me a poor customer. As far as pleasant company for a meal to share appreciation, I'd be happy to accept." he nodded.

He then considered Honditar, who was politely not interrupting but staring holes in them all the same.

"This is a bit of the cream that we suspect was used on Maxical to make her a Thrall to Earana's bidding. I've replaced it with a concoction of dispel, so we can free her from the skooma." he explained. Seth accepted it with a nod, and considered his non-lethal poisons.

Paralyze, Drain Fatigue, Slow, Fear, and Frenzy. He went over his mental inventory. Doubtful that Eyja, or anyone else for that matter would find the approach acceptable.

"Seth, do you come too?" Eyja called from horseback.

"As I said, my skills and blades are at your service." He called back, jumping onto the steed.
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post Jul 27 2013, 02:54 AM
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*


Eyja:


Seth and Honditar must have come to some agreement on whether they were going to follow where Seth saw the women walking or circle around to the footpath on the North side of Chorrol.

Eyja knew her decisions were based in panic; knew it would be best to let the calmer minds of the two men rule in how they should handle the search. Still, it was a relief to be on the move finally.

She shifted her weight to the right and lay the reins gently on the left side of Sapphire's neck. The mare was as anxious to move as she was, and turned to the right; reaching the gate just as Seth's horse was filing out.

Eyja fell in line behind him. As Honditar rode out of the paddock area she gave him a slight grimace and reached for his hand. She squeezed it briefly and let her eyes give the apology for her nerves earlier.

"It's all right, me darlin'. You're worried, I know it."

Eyja gave a brief smile at the pirate imitation. When she dropped his hand, she gave a slight sqeeze of her legs and moved the mare up between Seth's and Honditar's.

"Which way do we go then? I'll go wherever you two have decided is best." Eyja determined to keep her eyes peeled to the Northwest no matter which way the horses rode, though it had been so many hours now that they would surely be out of eyesight anyway.




***


Honditar:


Honditar signaled Seth with a "Hoowa" sound.

"I'll catch up, best not leave the healer without escort; she can't fight even in defense." Honditar reined his horse back and waited by the Wobbly's stone sidewalk; watching the Inn door for Abiene to come out.


*

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Grits
post Jul 27 2013, 05:34 AM
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Abiene

Curing Lleris lifted Abiene’s heart with simple joy. Color returned to his lips, and his ruby eyes opened free of pain and fever. Abiene smoothed the hair back from his forehead. Lleris blinked once and then smiled.

“I had the strangest dream,” he said.

“You were ill, but not anymore,” Abiene told him.

“Do I have to stay in bed?”

Abiene glanced at the innkeeper looming over the other side of the bed. “That’s not for me to say.”

Lleris started to speak. Bograk looked torn between relief and scolding. Abiene slipped away before the Orsimer could decide where to start.

Abiene moved quickly back through the inn and out the door. It was a relief to have honored her commitments. She hadn’t felt that weight on top of all the others until it had lifted. Now her mind was focused on the next undertaking rather than caught between worries.

She found Honditar just outside. Eyja must have left with the other horse. I wonder if Sethyas went with her.

“I’m glad you waited,” she said, checking her gear. “I still couldn’t reach Darnand, and no one had new information.” Abiene turned Kip to use the hillside to her advantage. Mounting was much easier this time.

Honditar looked tense and displeased. Abiene guessed that he was anxious to rejoin Eyja.

“Don’t hold back on my account,” she told him, nudging Kip into motion. “There’s a lot that I can’t do, but I can ride.”









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post Jul 27 2013, 05:49 AM
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Honditar:


Honditar nodded at Abiene's disclaimer and moved his horse alongside hers, urging his own into a brisk trot.

"I hope the laddie was doing better. Eyja said the Orc's tears and worry near broke her heart, it matched her own for the Khajiit. She gave the Orc a bottle of Cure Disease for the lad; the woman gave her these horses for her thinking of the boy."

Honditar turned his face to Abiene. "Don't judge her temper, Abiene. I've known her decades, never seen her like this. She's worried over Maxical, that's all. That and lack of sleep and food. Nords aren't known for doing well hungry."

He turned his head back to the front, scanning the road ahead for Eyja and Seth.


*

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post Jul 27 2013, 08:44 PM
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Sethyas lit one of his rolled hackle-los, and scanned the map with a careful eye. Based on what was being said, they most likely would need welkynd stones. There were two Ayleid ruins in the vicinity of the assumed location of Cloud Top.

Hrotanda Vale was more north of Chorrol, and he'd seen the two traveling distinctly northwest. There was also Lipsand Tarn. It was much more remote than Hrotanda Vale, but the distance between the the two in relation to Cloud Top was almost identical. Plus the side trail led directly too Lipsand Tarn.

Unless they were making a beeline for Cloud Top, and would worry about the acquisition of the stones afterwards, where keeping unseen was less of a concern and they could access either with relative ease. So if Earana was the careful sort though, she would have tried to cover their tracks by misleading the direction they were heading.

The possibilities were wide open. But there was still a strategy involved, the highest form of warfare was attacking your enemies plans.

"All right, I've thought it out. We head to Hrotanda Vale. If they aren't there but we see signs of recent disturbance, we can eliminate that area and try to track them."

"If they are there, that means they haven't gotten what they needed yet, and we can end this before it begins."

"If they aren't there, and their is no signs of recent disturbance...it definitely means they've headed to Cloud Top, or Lipsand Tarn. Either way, eliminating the possibility of Hrotanda Vale makes our path all the more clear."
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post Jul 28 2013, 01:42 AM
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Abiene

“Don’t judge her temper, Abiene,” said Honditar. “I've known her decades, never seen her like this. She’s worried over Maxical, that’s all. That and lack of sleep and food. Nords aren’t known for doing well hungry.”

“Thank you for the reassurance,” Abiene replied. “I won’t take offense. Folk aren’t themselves when someone they love is endangered. I see it in my work every day. Fear sets in and they want something to fight, only you can’t beat an injury or illness with angry words or fists. I suppose it’s a bit like that right now for Eyja. The uncertainty makes it harder. What if we’re heading in the wrong direction? What is dear Maxical suffering right at this moment? It preys on the mind. As much as we can we have to set that aside.”

Honditar looked like his mind was also troubled.

Abiene kept talking in a low pitch, hoping the chat would ease him. “I know what you mean about a Nord’s kind of hunger. I know a Nord who’ll pull a roll out of his pocket to eat while his meal’s being set on the table. He once crunched up a raw carrot right in the middle of chapel service, though it’s likely he did that to keep me from dragging him along again. I can get by for days on fennel seeds and potions. If you see me slipping my food onto Eyja’s plate, don’t think I’m up to something evil. I’m just looking out for all of us.” She glanced over to see if Honditar could tell she was speaking lightly.

They passed an ox cart and a group of pedestrians, then the road opened up empty before them. Honditar quickened their pace.



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