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  1. #51
    Count / Countess Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Nairn Tuckamore

    The literal translation was a good place to start. Unfortunately, a lot of land was under Raven's eye, but if anyone were to know about a new cult showing up unannounced...

    "Start at Hoelbrak then? If we are lucky, we'll catch shaman from multiple regions." She paused, hefting her makeshift backpack. "I might have to meet you inside the lodge. Raven's Havroun and I are not on the best of terms."

    Nairn didn't explain, but Anakita could probably guess that the Havroun might have taken offence to Nairn's removal of several sacred texts over the years. Texts she'd absolutely shared with the Ranger and definitely had kept in her personal library for 'safe keeping'. The Havroun still hadn't figured out how the thief was getting into the lodge, which was another point of vexation.

    "Shall we check in on the girl before we go?" If the girl hadn't made it, she wondered if that would change Iliana and Mikael's plans at all. That aside, the two of them were walking targets for any remaining cult members in the city trying to get their hands on the children. It wouldn't do to just up and leave without ensuring all three's continued survival.
    Winner of the dubious Vaarsuvius Award for Verbousness!

    I support altruism.

  2. #52
    Anakita Snakecharm

    "Yeah, we should," Anakita agreed - though the thought made her nervous. Emotional scenes were difficult, and Anakita knew she didn't always handle them well. She cared deeply about others, but didn't always know what to say or do to convey that. She didn't want to intrude on the family's moment. She did want to make sure Estella was going to be alright, though.

    When the arrived back at the healer's, Estella was resting in bed. There was a coverlet over her, so neither the wound nor the bandages were visible, but Anakita could see the bump under the covers that indicated what had happened - the pregnancy, and the subsequent injury. Iliana was holding her sister's hand, and Mikael was sitting at his wife's side. Estella looked pale but peaceful.

    "She's going to live," Iliana said, and the mixture of emotions was plain in her voice. Relief that her sister would recover. Anger that she'd been placed in this situation in the first place.

    "That's good," Anakita said, and meant it.

    "She lost the baby," Iliana added.

    Anakita nodded. She had expected that would be the case the moment she had seen the horrific damage. "Sorry to hear," she said. "We'll make sure these jerks pay for what they did to her."
    "Sleep to dream, and we dream to live..." -Great Big Sea

  3. #53
    Count / Countess Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Nairn Tuckamore

    She'd walked all the way back to the medic's with her nose stuck in a book. Once at the door, she hung around outside in the street for a moment before her head spontaneously lifted up. It wasn't right. Standing out here like this. Her chin turned toward the open door, though her feet didn't move - not yet. It wasn't like they were ... anything. Still, it didn't feel right standing outside.

    Once inside, Nairn stood quietly behind Anakita, though the Ranger wasn't an impediment to her view of the bed. The scene was much more tranquil than it had been when she left. Though, she could have stood to have it less tranquil - there should have been the cries of a baby. But that wouldn't happen now. Shame.

    "It is fortunate that she is alive." She couldn't bring herself to bring up the child. "And Anakita is right - we will reign vengeance on the perpetrators. Which is to say, we must go and you must be careful while we are gone. We don't know how many of them remain in Lion's Arch."

    That the pair would stay behind with the sister was an assumption on her part, she knew, but one she thought might be fair under the circumstances. She nodded briefly to each Iliana and Mikael in turn and ducked back out. Hoelbrak again. It was all well and good - she needed to drop off this load of books sooner rather than later and the Norn capital held more than one of her hiding places.

  4. #54
    Anakita Snakecharm

    "Once your sister is well enough, you should take her back to Divinity's Reach," Anakita suggested. "You'll be safe with our family."

    Iliana and Mikael thanked her, and agreed they would do so once Estella was well enough to move.

    "Next stop, Hoelbrak," Anakita agreed once they were on their way. By Asura gate, the trip took almost no time at all. Stepping into the cold was a shock, after the tropical air of Lion's Arch.

    "Do you want to stick together, or split up?" Anakita asked Nairn. She didn't even bother asking Stefan; he wouldn't want to split up. Splitting up was what had separated them during the Foefire and the long years that followed. They wouldn't take that risk again.

  5. #55
    Count / Countess Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Nairn Tuckamore

    The thief had put her hood up before stepping through the gate and merely gave Anakita a nod in reply.

    "I will be in the main hall when you get in. Make the rounds - meet in the library."

    It seemed a fairly safe bet. Most of the shaman didn't spend a lot of time digging through the archives. They were either talking with one another or in worship. The three of them could collect information by listening well enough and then have some relative privacy to discuss matters afterwards should their continued presence be required. Her suggestion had nothing to do with the new scrolls she'd heard had been unearthed and transferred into Raven's lodge for safe keeping.

    Relieving herself of her burden, Nairn made her way through the crowded market and down into the open area surrounded by the great lodges of the Spirits. She passed by Raven's, then ducked behind a stone pillar, cloaked herself in invisibility, and stepped back out to make her usual entry through a loose window. As her foot entered, a bird landed on the casement and looked directly at her. She sighed, looking up to meet the raven's gaze.

    "It is for the good of Tyria. I swear it."

    The bird bobbed its head noncommittally and flew off. She hoped that she had believed her. No matter now. The thief pulled herself inside and shut the window behind her. It would likely be the last time she'd get to use that particular route. Cloaked as she was, it was no trouble to creep through the hallways toward the main chamber. Of course, if one raven could see through her spell...she had to wonder if the dozens of birds perched in the rafters might be able to as well.

  6. #56
    Anakita Snakecharm

    Anakita took a slightly different approach. Instead of going to the main lodges, she and Stefan took a short trip to the hillside shrine just outside the city.

    "Hello!" Anakita called with a friendly wave as she approached the nearest Raven shaman. "Have you seen anything weird?"

    The shaman gave her a strange look with a raised eyebrow as if to say, Present company excluded?

    Anakita was utterly oblivious. She barreled on, "I think there's a cult around here. They're pretty bad. They stab people. Have you seen anything like that?"

    The shaman paused for a moment, then said, "Perhaps. But it was not I that saw it. You must seek out Shaviya in the great Raven Lodge."

    "Is that another shaman?" Anakita asked.

    He shook his head. "No. A bird."

    "Oh, good!" Anakita replied enthusiastically. Animal strangers were much easier to talk to than human one.

  7. #57
    Count / Countess Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Nairn Tuckamore

    She should have suspected something when the window was still accessible. She definitely should have suspected something after the brief visit from the bird. Had it been meant as a warning? If she were able to tell the difference between all the ravens in the lodge, she might have asked. Of course, lying face down on the ground also impeded her view.

    "Nairn the Thief. Nairn the Unwelcome. Nairn the Savage. Nairn the Iceblooded. Nairn the Murderer. Nairn Split-tongue. I cannot recall another Norn who has earned so many disreputable names over her short, miserable existence."

    The Havroun stood over her, bound by nets as she was, his voice echoing off the great beams so that no one in the Lodge could miss what was happening. Nairn was starting to piece together how she was trapped - understanding how would help with discerning how to avoid it next time - and she remained silent in preparation to be dragged off to a cell someplace. A cell she would escape from with little trouble as she always did. She wasn't so much concerned with the punishment to come, more so the embarrassment of being caught and paraded about so publicly.

    The ropes pulled taut even as the Havroun's boot came down on her shoulder and he leaned close to her ear. "I have been waiting a very long time for this." His private words delivered, he stood upright again and addressed the growing crowd.

    "Too long has this thing plagued our lands, city and Lodges with her presence. Today, her reign of thievery and terror ends."

    Nairn stiffened under her bonds. Was he about to challenge her to battle? That could only end poorly for him - and while she was most annoyed at his continued inability to share archival materials, she didn't wish him dead.

    "Today, I am going to ensure she never steals or kills again - by taking her hands."

    A collective murmur rippled through the crowd even as his words sunk into Nairn's head. Her hands? She twisted her head so she could see the man, fixing his stare with one of her own. As surprised as she was, as...scared as she was, she was still Norn. Her lip curled and her own voice lifted to make itself heard above the peanut gallery.

    "Coward. If you have issue with me, face me in battle."

    Her words stopped up the chatter for a moment, which only served to give the Havroun's laugh a fuller spread. "HA! It would be a challenge met if you were even Norn. You. Are. Nothing."

    The birds in the rafters turned their heads and cawed. It wasn't clear exactly who they might be siding with in this particular engagement.

  8. #58
    Anakita Snakecharm

    Anakita strode into the room, looking for Nairn and/or the bird in question. Stefan was just a step behind her, and they both stopped in their tracks, dumbfounded by what they saw and heard. Nairn was in a net - and based on what was being said about her, that fact was apparently the least of her worries.

    The Ranger cleared her throat loudly. "Um! Excuse me!" she said. When she had the attention of everyone assembled, she continued, "This isn't going to work for me. I need Nairn with both her hands. I have gold. How about I just replace whatever she took, and we call it a day? It's just, I'm kind of busy today so if we could get this taken care of so we can get going, it would help."

  9. #59
    Count / Countess Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Nairn Tuckamore

    She had rarely experienced this feeling. It was...rage? Yes, that was it. Her body nearly shook apart with it. Breathing ragged, Nairn fought to regain her composure even as she noticed her vision blacking out around the edges. She was prepared to meet the Havroun head on, bindings or no, when a voice of reason cut through the fog of battle descending on her.

    The Havroun, on the other hand, had been flying high in exultation. For years he'd been losing manuscripts to this savage and finally he had her red handed. Why he hadn't thought of luring her in with a false rumour about ancient tomes sooner, he wasn't sure. This, though, was a moment of triumph. One he would have liked to enjoy.

    Of course the infernal immortal ranger would be here. Why a pair of human heroes would throw in with the likes of a Norn beast was beyond him and right now, it didn't much matter. What mattered was that they were getting in the way of his moment. Drawing himself up to full height, he folded his arms and stared down at the pair of them.

    "Gold?! Gold?! You can't replace knowledge with simple metal! You can't replace history with money! What she has taken is irreplaceable. I am afraid her sentence is the only reasonable answer to her crimes."

    "If you had listened to my advice on manuscript care, I would not have saved them." Nairn's voice was slightly muffled, but it was still audible to a good portion of the room. The Havroun stared down at her even as the head archivist ducked out of the room. Her next statement was much quieter - and was clearly spoken around a lump in her throat. "I can...offer knowledge in exchange...until the items are returned."

    It galled Nairn to think she'd have to bring back the precious scrolls she'd saved from the dry Hoelbrak air and give up the wonderful trove she'd taken from Julius. She wouldn't have offered them at all, but she happened to agree with the Havroun on his point. Gold could never be exchanged for knowledge. As much as she wanted to keep all the knowledge she'd found, she also wanted to keep her hands.

    The Havroun was shocked. He didn't believe that the thief would return her ill-gotten goods, but that she'd offer something from her own stock was stupefying. His jaw worked, the grinding of his teeth audible. It had been going so well. He had almost gotten his prey - though if he were honest, there was some discontent in the air. Apparently, not all the shaman agreed with his sentencing, especially after she'd issued a challenge. No, he'd have to bide his time.

    The Norn holding the ropes were keeping their eye on their leader morso than the woman on the ground, fortunate for Nairn as a flick from the Havroun's hand released her instantly. It was difficult to gain her footing gracefully, but she managed as best she could. They stood practically nose to nose.

    "Well. I expect this knowledge to be equivalent - and I also expect our scrolls returned. I am going to keep your weapons here until you bring your items. I know your word is worth nothing."

    Nairn's gaze was stony. She didn't grace his insult with a reply, but turned and stalked toward the exit. Her eyes locked momentarily with Anakita's, her mood inscrutable. Clearly she was heading out to retrieve the books she'd just acquired ... and she wasn't happy about it.
    Last edited by Quaxo9; 09-10-2020 at 10:56 AM.

  10. #60
    Anakita Snakecharm

    To Anakita, this was an unmitigated win-win, and it was hard for her to imagine - or perceive - that anyone was displeased with the outcome. When Nairn had walked ahead, Anakita grinned at Stefan and flashed him a double thumbs-up.

    We did diplomacy! she mouthed. Stefan nodded agreement, though it was possible there was a faint degree of amusement on his scarred, stoic mien.

    When she was a child, Anakita had frustrated her tutors by her inability to write the word 'diplomacy' correctly. No matter how many times she was instructed otherwise, she always wrote it as 'diplomancy.' That was how it seemed to her - it was a sort of magic that came naturally to some, but not to her. Those who could perform feats of diplomancy were the real magicians. Whenever Anakita managed to do so herself, she was inordinately proud.

    She trotted forward more quickly to catch up with Nairn's long strides. "We need to find a bird," she explained. "Her name is Shaviya. She can tell us where the cult is. Hopefully. So uh... let's find this bird, yeah?"

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