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  1. #41
    Count / Countess Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Nairn Tuckamore

    The Norn brought her face down to the cultist's level. It was completely devoid of emotion, despite evidence to the contrary in the cords of her neck and a single vein along her temple. The blade of her staff was glowing brightly and this time when she touched it to the man's face, there was the distinct smell of scalded flesh. Despite the heat of her anger, her voice was deadly calm.

    "And what fate might that be."

    While she knew it was imperative to get Estella out of the cavern and to a healer, it wouldn't do to leave now while the threat of an execution still hung over one of Iliana and Mikael's children.
    Winner of the dubious Vaarsuvius Award for Verbousness!

    I support altruism.

  2. #42
    Anakita Snakecharm

    "Guhhh..." The cultist grunted, but gave no other sign that he was intimidated by either the words or the display of force. "I have told you all I will say. One of the children will be demanded as a sacrifice. I suggest you pay the price, because if it must be collected from you unwillingly, the cost will be much steeper."

    "We need to go!" Anakita interjected with increased urgency. She was doing her best, but there was only so much blood in the human body, and Estella was losing it too rapidly. Anakita could keep someone alive in a pinch, but this woman needed healing beyond her basic skills. "We can take this guy with us and give him to the Lionguard. Stabbing a person is a crime, and they won't be too happy that it happened in their city. If he cools his heels in jail for awhile, he may be more talkative."

    This seemed to scare the cultist much more than the threat of death or pain. "No! I will not be imprisoned! You will not lock me up! Just kill me..."

    Anakita looked at him quizzically. "Well, we're certainly not going to now," she said.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 08-05-2020 at 03:17 PM.
    "Sleep to dream, and we dream to live..." -Great Big Sea

  3. #43
    Count / Countess Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Nairn Tuckamore

    Anakita was right, of course. The man seemed upset with the idea of being held captive, which almost made her happy to club him on the head with the other end of her staff. Almost. If only there weren't a dying woman they needed to save. Leaving the cultist on the ground, she crossed the dais and knelt beside the woman, draping her cloak over her midsection, then rolling her slightly to pull the fabric under and around to her back. It was a crude way to attempt to slow the bleeding, but she was no healer either. She tied a hasty knot and then picked Estella up. Turning toward what appeared to be a main entrance, she glanced at Mikael even as she picked her feet up off the ground in a strange hitching step.

    "If you could bring the prisoner...I'll run on ahead with her." And she really did run. Nairn had to duck to run through the tunnels, which ended up aiding her in supporting Estella's wounds, and she simply followed her nose to find the fresh air of the exit. Once in the open, it was easy enough to find her way to a proper medic. She nearly broke the door of its hinges before wordlessly laying the girl on the nearest table, stepping back and gesturing at the medic as if that would spur them on. When the man hesitated, she dropped a bag of gold on the table. It was amazing how fast someone could get to work with the proper motivation.

    As soon as she could see Estella was getting the care she needed, Nairn returned to the street and sat down outside the stone building. She was breathing hard and covered in blood, which produced a bit of a wave in the foot traffic away from that side of the street. Naturally, this drew the attention of the Lionguard - convenient, Nairn thought, as they would have need of the law in short order.

  4. #44
    Anakita Snakecharm

    When they reached ground level, Iliana asked Anakita, "Can you take care of...?" She gestured in the direction of the cultist. "I want to be there for Estella."

    "Sure," Anakita replied. "You two can go. Stefan and I can handle this. Estella - she's someone important to you, isn't she?"

    Iliana nodded. "My sister. My little sister. I can't believe this happened..."

    "Go be with her," Anakita said. "We've got this."

    Convenient that Nairn had already drawn the attention of the Lionguard. Anakita flagged them down as if hailing a passing coach. The Lionguard seemed less pleased to see Anakita than she was to see them.

    "You?" One of the Lionguard fumed from under his helmet. "You knocked me out while attempting a jail break..."

    Anakita shrugged and made a dismissive little hand gesture suggesting water under the bridge. "Bygones!" she assured him. "This man was involved in a stabbing down in the sewers. You need to arrest him."

    The Lionguard might not be Anakita's biggest fan, but a stabbing was far more serious than anything questionable the Ranger had done. "We'll take him into custody," he agreed.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 08-12-2020 at 03:36 PM.

  5. #45
    Count / Countess Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Nairn Tuckamore

    She waited until Iliana and Mikael appeared at the head of the street before she stood up. It wasn't like she had to wave them over, she stood out from the crowd enough as it was - nor did she have to let them in as the door was hanging rather awkwardly in the opening. Nairn wasn't certain what the connection was between the girl and Iliana, but it was a strong one. She watched from the street for a moment before turning away to follow her track back toward the cultists' hiding place. First - to find the last two members of the crew.

    Conveniently Anakita and Stefan had already handed over their uncooperative cultist, which led Nairn to the second point on her list - finding a more cooperative one. Or at least, some more information verbal or otherwise.

    "We need to go back." The statement on its own without her thoughtful commentary wasn't terribly descriptive, she realized, so she added "Someone must be more talkative. Or perhaps there are records...I want to know what they think will happen if one of those kids doesn't die."

  6. #46
    Anakita Snakecharm

    "Yes," Anakita said.

    She hoped that the cultist they had apprehended would feel more chatty after he'd been locked up for awhile - but they needed to try to find something that would provide more immediate results in the meantime. Starting back in the sewers seemed logical.

    It turned out not to be particularly productive, though. Despite scouring all the nearby tunnels, there was nothing but mildew, the stains of Estella's blood, and the makeshift altar.

    "Hmm," Anakita said. "They weren't living down here, then. They must have a base nearby. Any idea where this guy was staying?"

  7. #47
    Count / Countess Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Nairn Tuckamore

    She was admittedly disappointed that their renewed search failed to turn up neither more cultists nor clues. Still, they weren't totally lost. Anakita was, again, a genius.

    "I first met Julius at the rear of an inn. Perhaps he was there for a room - he certainly wasn't there for the tea."

    The Norn led the way through the twisted streets to the tables of the pub where Julius had sat a mere few days before. Her eyes rose to the windows above the small patio. Locked. Little matter. Ducking through the doorway, she made her way through the eatery to the desk at the front of the building where a man sat sleeping with his chin in his hand. Under his elbow was a registry book - and on his belt, a heavy ring of keys. She couldn't spot Julius' name on the registry, but the keyring came to her easily.

    While she didn't know Julius' exact room, she knew some of the rooms that weren't his, which expedited their search somewhat. Of course, they had to guess the room's occupant by its contents. Once she saw the room full of books, however, she was fairly certain they were in the right place. Raising her head, she smelled the air. Parchment. Candle wax. A light perfume that she recognized from having her nose buried in Estella's dress. Not even the scent of blood could obliterate the floral scent then - and the vacuous interior of the largest rooms in the inn couldn't obscure it now.

    "This is the place. Do you think he'll have set any traps for us?"

  8. #48
    Anakita Snakecharm

    "Yes," Anakita said.

    For approximately a minute, she stood silently in the doorway, occasionally moving her head slightly as she scanned the room but otherwise utterly still. Then she abruptly darted forward in a zigzag, dropped to her hands and knees, and broke a single piece of translucent thread a few inches from the floor. At intervals throughout the room, there were grinding and snapping sounds, and a few puffs of variously colored smoke.

    "There we go. All set now. Julius wasn't bad at traps. I mean... he was bad. Just not. At traps."

    She began rummaging through the wardrobe and his dresser drawers. Most of the items were mundane - clothing, toiletries - but she also found a few maps, which could be of interest. She couldn't find anything relevant noted on them at a glance, but she put them in her satchel anyway for further study.

    "You can take the books if you want, Nairn," Anakita said. "He won't be back."

    She picked up a nearby book to hand to Nairn, and a small slip of paper tumbled out. The handwriting didn't seem to belong to Julius.

    It read, Beneath the corvid's watchful eye.

  9. #49
    Count / Countess Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Nairn Tuckamore

    The ranger never failed to impress - one fell swoop and the whole place collapsed. She was right - he wasn't bad at traps at all. Too bad for him that he'd met his match in Anakita Snakecharm.

    Nairn started in on the room in her own fashion and employing her own set of skills. She'd already pocketed several books before Anakita suggested she take them. Taking the advice, she picked a rather nice looking tapestry and started filling the square with as much of Julius' library as she thought she could carry. She gratefully reached for the book the ranger held out but was quickly distracted by the small piece of paper. The fluttering parchment didn't make it to the floor before it was snagged in her long fingers. Interesting. Nairn held it for a moment, then showed it to Anakita.

    "Raven? Was this meant as a threat? A warning?"

    Nairn took an additional glance around the room. For all Julius' disdain for the 'barbarians', she didn't expect to see anything of Norn in the room, but if Raven were involved...this clue left more questions than answers.

  10. #50
    Anakita Snakecharm

    Anakita scrunched up her eyes in thought. Nairn was surely right that 'the corvid' referred to Raven. But Anakita also agreed with the part that Nairn had left unspoken - Raven would never be involved with this type of behavior, or condone it. Nor was it likely that these arrogant cultists would seek out a Spirit of the Wild in the first place.

    But Anakita's exceptionally literal brain parsed the text in a slightly different way.

    "What if it means exactly what it says?" Anakita mused. "What if it just means something is happening where Raven can see it?"

    "Might not be a bad place to start," Stefan agreed.

    "We could go talk to people at the Raven shrines and see if they've noticed anything out of the ordinary?" Anakita suggested.

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