Journey Into Antiquity: Seeking the Pinnacle
Dec. 16, 2017, 7 p.m.
Arx - Lower Boroughs - Dockyard - The Inexorable - Deck
Comments and Log
Acilius arrives, following Valerio.
Time has passed since the departure from the city of Arx, a brief stop in the city-state of Ostria to offload passengers and resupply at the Walled City. The Inexorable had made its way through the formidable walls separating the natural harbor from the outside world and before the sun had risen as the prior night transitioned to the following morning, they were off again. The sun rises, higher and higher into the sky. A storm passes by in the south, dark clouds briskly pass by with streaks of lightning flashing from the sky. Alas, the Inexorable and her travelers avoid the storm itself and are treated instead to a beautiful sight of a storm in the distance.
On the horizon shortly before the sun reaches the highest point that it may in the sky, what appears to be little more than a stubby thumb of rock presents itself as a landmark on the horizon. Sails call out the sighting and the deck of the Inexorable truly awakens as marines, sailors, and general crew begin to bustle about with their individual preparations to form the whole.
The Ostrian galley comes to a halt near the pillar-like island of stone, though not too near. The island landmass appears without a natural harbor, so smaller rafts must venture away from the galley like ducklings exploring the world around themselves. From one side of the galley a marines voice can be heard calling out, "This rock's inhabited? Bah!"
From onboard the vessel, even the keenest eyes may fail to note any noteworthy points of access in the sheer cliff walls. What had previously been little more than a thumb-sized mass on the horizon has transformed with closer proximity. A considerable landmass once one travels closer, it sits tall and proud in the ocean as though a lone pillar defying the seas around itself. Secluded and distant from the world at large, it is a rocky and lonely pillar of stone.
Khanne gets frost walkers leggings from a fur-lined leather pouch with garnet house symbol inset.
Khanne gets frost walkers cloak from a fur-lined leather pouch with garnet house symbol inset.
Khanne gets frost walkers boots from a fur-lined leather pouch with garnet house symbol inset.
Khanne gets frost walkers gloves from a fur-lined leather pouch with garnet house symbol inset.
Khanne gets frost walkers tunic from a fur-lined leather pouch with garnet house symbol inset.
Khanne gets frost walkers hood from a fur-lined leather pouch with garnet house symbol inset.
"Well, the letter certainly had to come from somewhere," Cambria mutters in an aside to whomever happens to be standing next to her at the moment. "Though it does look rather...desolate." Hands on her hips, the Marquessa observes the landmass with a dubious expression.
As they set off to sea again, once all duties she could assist with were seen to, Khanne greeted the day as she has done every day on the trip, kneeling on the deck near the bow, an array of items set before her, offering ritual prayer to her Spirits, but also, to Mangata. Her left hand rests upon a shall worn at her neck while the right goes through the processes of her ritual.
The storm is watched with an awe and interest, Khanne standing near the rail, seemingly in deep thought, but also with a watchful eye. It is a glorious night indeed, and it is truly a sight to behold.
Narrowed eyes look to the island, or, whatever the pillar could be called, with cliff walls rising up straight and tall from the sea itself. She studies it from afar, perceptive eyes drinking in the details. "It does, indeed, seem desolate," Khanne murmurs, mostly just to herself, but anyone near her could hear.
"Well, they certainly don't have to worry about invasion," Dianna called back as reply to the marine. Her words we clear still as, although she had her collar tight about her neck, thet mask that accompanied dangled by its straps, swaying faintly with the breeze and the rocking of the boat alike. Raising a hand to block out the bright glare of the sun, Dianna tilted back her head, a thoughtful expression on her face. How in the world were they going to get up there?
"You never know what's under the surface, lad." Valerio sounds more grizzly than normal. Yet there's a firm grin upon his features, he's probably mentioned a few thousand times by now to the others that he also grew up doing as much sailor's work as a soldiers. So he's clearly pleased as punch to be back onto a ship. "You're not necessarily wrong to doubt it though, that is fairly barren looking." He turns towards the captain of the vessel, starts to raise an arm, and manages to stop himself. Instead, he'll head over towards his Niece the Marquessa. He's verbally given up the lectures of 'should not be here'. But he's a living sculpture of appearing dissaproving... of course then there is the appearance of Khanne, and the old man has a grin again. It quirks upon hearing his other Niece and gives Dianna a quick nod and wink.
Sitting by the banister is Sir Daemon, the man polishing his blade with plenty of fervor. After the last battle, the man has taken to ensuring all of his armor and gear is in top condition. Which apparently extends to every plate and inch of steel being utterly spotless throughout their journey. Though he'd spoken with his other crewmates here or there, the Oathlander hadn't been exceedingly social throughout this affair. Rather he'd taken on a more serious, downright dutiful tone as time went on. Today however, he's moved onto deck and at the ready.
At the sight of his patron, he moves to stand at the Marquessa's side. Protective, in a way. "Looks can be very deceiving, Marquessa. Perhaps there is more than we can see with just the naked eye." His thumb slowly circles around the pommel of his sword. "Someone, obviously, wishes for us to be here, hm?"
Ian hangs onto a railing of the ship with both hands, sensing the movement of the deck below through his palms rather than his feet (which don't sense anything at all). For a sailor -- and he is a good sailor -- he's almost comical on the deck of a ship, prone to falling if he's not hanging onto something at all times. In the rigging, however, there are seasoned sailors who don't climb as well or as fast.
Hands clasping behind her back, Cambria turns her attention towards Daemon first, nodding to the knight to show her agreement. "We'll learn why, soon enough," she then says to the group at large. "I cannot imagine a prank this elaborate." Then her brows furrow as she gives the island something of a glare. "Actually, I can, but let us hope that is not the case." Turning to Valerio, Cambria asks, "You have the method of deployment for when we're properly..." She flicks a gloved hand upon her wrist. "Anchored or whatever it is called? I am uncertain if we are to expect a welcoming party or not, but it is best to be prepared."
Khanne turns to watch and listen to the exchange between Cambria and Valerio. She is not one making decisions on this trip and tends to wait for courses of action instead. As she stands there, wine-red hair gets tossed about by the sea breeze. She glances back to the steep cliffs and arches one brow. "A prank?" Gaze glides all the way up, then all the way down before looking back to the Mazettis.
"When we deploy. You will be in the back ranks until we have established a proper beachhead and safety." Valerio speaks kindly enough, and softly enough, however he looks like he is trying to get his eye to radiate all sorts of anti-stubborn rays at his Niece. "Once done, you can meet and greet to your hearts content." Under the cover of crashing wave he mutters. "Maybe."
"What exactly was it the letter said, again?," Dianna asked Cambria -- or any of them, really -- with something of a dubious expression passing over her features. It was a fine pairing with the Marquessa's glare. Certainly less threatening, at least. Still, she had no hesitation about boarding one of the smaller boats. One the contrary, as soon as they were readied, she was clamoring into one and settling down on the bench.
Hadrian has rolled 1 2-sided dice: 2
Ian surveys the water around the island more than the island itself, looking for evidence of shoals in the movements of the waves. It's something that the captain of the vessel is probably also doing, but old habits die hard. He looks decidedly seedy in leather armor that has obviously seen a lot of action, slashed and patched any number of times. "I'll stay with the Marquessa," he volunteers, without looking away from the water. He's not in a huge hurry to be back on land.
Daemon nods to his patron, clapping one hand against his steel chest. "I shall go along and aid in whatever we'll face at the shore. If I stay on the boat, I may well sink from going overboard..." As steel and water really did not mix in any helpful capacity. "On your command, my lady."
"It was worded rather diplomatically," Cambria says to Dianna. "Couldn't quite find any flaw within it, which in some cases is enough to be a flaw in and of itself." She then strides over to Ian, linking her arm through his own as she beams a bright smile towards her uncle, Valerio. "Lord Ian shall be accompanying me, as you heard. I shan't possibly get into any trouble. What's more, if you send Sir Daemon ahead of us, I am certain there won't be any trouble left to encounter." The wink she sends the men's way is nothing short of mischievous, but ultimately good-natured. "What about you, Khanne? Has the Marshal placed you firmly in the: you can't misbehave camp?"
Cambria checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 2 higher.
Ian checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 1 higher.
Khanne checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 8 lower.
Daemon checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 1 higher.
Khanne grins at Cambria then glances to Valerio. She shakes her head and says, "nope. Not quite." Looking at Valerio straight on then, she asks, brows raised. "Am I allowed to misbehave?" There is a slightly crooked smile curling the left corner of her lip up higher than the right.
A pair of rafts are dropped into the water. One of those rafts begins to take on water as it's dropped heavily into the lapping waves, but thankfully not so much as to begin sinking. Sailors pile aboard the small vessel and begin to pitch the sea water over the sides, whether with buckets or outright utilizing their own hands. The sailors, clearly satisfied, debark and are soon replaced by a number of marines. While Dianna quickly assumes a position in one of the two rafts along with others.
While many are busying themselves with various duties, those who lead more privileged existances are afforded the luxury of watching others work. Thus some aboard take note of something at the peak of the desolate pillar of stone. The sun reflecting from a metallic or mirror surface throws off a blinding glare for those who look upon it. It persists for the span of a few seconds and then shifts slightly, before disappearing entirely from sight once again below the edge of the cliff face. Someone or something was definitely up there.
The first raft sets off, rowers carrying it swiftly toward shore with armored guards aboard and prepared to establish a beachhead... on the rather narrow, seemingly non-existant beach.
Dianna checked perception at difficulty 15, rolling 3 lower.
Ian doesn't show much reaction to Cambria linking arms with him, other than to shift his weight in a way to make it less likely that he'll fall (and take her down with him). He studies the peak of the island. "Any chance you have a mirror on you?" This is probably asked of Cambria, but it'd be hard to be sure.
"He wouldn't dare, my lady," Dianna retorted, before Valerio had a chance to reply. "There are two things my uncle fears -- Mazetti women, and your temper." And with that, the glaivedancer snorted the once and begain to help the sailors, or marines, or whoever it was at this point ensure that the water which had been bailed out of their boat remained bailed out of their boat, even if it meant dumping a bucket over the side over, and over, and over again.
Quick as he could be, Daemon set off to his task to be among the first boots planted on the beach. He kept his sword close at hand as he took place among the sailors, careful not to interrupt their work. Something does seem to catch his eye however, something that makes him squint up toward one of the many cliff peaks. "Hmm..." On his guard as always, he assists with the journey to shore as well as he can.
Cambria, with her free hand, first pats her chest, then lifts that same hand to examine the wrist before huffing in frustration. "No," she answers Ian. "But..." Squinting, her head bobs ever so slightly as she tries to get a better gaze of what was glinting ahead. "Does that look...like it could be a person, to you?" Asked of Ian.
Khanne looks down at the small mirror dangling from her neck at Ian's words, though Dianna's words get a small snort of a laugh. "My temper comes rarely, but, I am told, it is something to be feared when it does." Turning again to Valerio she says, "if this is the case, you are wise indeed." Addressing Ian then she asks, "I doubt it will... but, would this help?" She lifts the mirror from where it rests against her leather tunic.
"Sure. It always starts with 'Oh I shant be any trouble'! Next thing you know, there's bleeding, and screaming." Valerio nods firmly. "Yes. She too is in Camp SafetyTime. Dianna, however, I must note, is not. Also, Lady Khanne, I am not so wise, as to be wary..." His singular eye turns towards the glare from the pillar. "Someone turn that thing off b- oh there it goes. Well. That likely was not natural." Then he's taking over the other raft of Dianna's, so he too ensure's he is amongst the first landing. As a result, his Mandate is held loosely in his left hand, leaving the right one available for pointing while giving orders.
"It might be someone in armor," Ian agrees, if a little bit reluctantly. "This just seems like a strange place to find someone in polished plate. They might be trying to signal us." Which would explain why he asked for a mirror. "You might try signaling back."
"Of course I'm not," Dianna quipped. "If you'd wanted to keep me out of a fight, you should've have given me the damned glaive." Which was, in fact, strapped to her back. It needed to be. The weapon was far too long for her to wear on her hip. But as others began their gesturing, her warm eyes went towards the top of the pillar -- where the gleam had been, and no longer was. A faint frown tugged at her lips.
Khanne finally looks up to the top of the cliff and down at her small mirror necklace. She starts to move it in the sunlight, seeing if it could cast any sort of signal back to the pillar where the others saw something or other. "It was given to me by Duke Pravus... before he was Duke Pravus. One of my best friends. He and I had long conversations about Spirits and Gods, and... he told me to always wear this, so I could use it to see if there were signs of the abyss about..." She looks up at the others then. "That was before I learned to see it with my own eyes." She glances at Valerio and says, "wait, I am in Camp SafetyTime? Well... uh...." She doesn't say more, just smiles.
Cambria checked composure at difficulty 10, rolling 29 higher.
Cambria checked perception + investigation at difficulty 25, rolling 10 lower.
Dianna checked perception + investigation at difficulty 15, rolling 0 higher.
Ian checked perception + investigation at difficulty 25, rolling 8 lower.
Daemon checked perception + investigation at difficulty 25, rolling 5 higher.
Khanne checked perception + investigation at difficulty 25, rolling 28 higher.
Valerio checked perception + investigation at difficulty 25, rolling 13 lower.
Hadrian GM Roll checked luck(4) + stealth(3) at difficulty 30, rolling 36 higher.
Cambria listens to Khanne's tale with a sombre expression, nodding when she speaks of the now-Duke Pravus and his gift. Her blue eyes linger upon the article for a moment before flitting back towards the place that had caught her attention before. Eventually, however, the Marquessa returns to watching the rafts as they paddle towards the island. "What a thankless task," she murmurs regarding those propelling the rafts forward.
The disappearance of the glare seems to set those who did witness it back into their activities. The rafts push off and are soon approaching the base of the nearly vertical cliffs. It takes very little time for the rafts to come ashore, though that beachhead is a sorry excuse for one. Hugging the base of the cliff face, the beach only accounts for nearly five feet of sand-and-rock space at high tide. This of course forces most, not wishing to stand within the waves, to march in pairs and makes wide formations quite difficult. Near the landing a large stone that would create a rather uncomfortable seat, but a seat nonetheless, for a couple rears is present. Hanging over that a tough, gnarled, but resilient tree bows over the large stone.
Once on the beach, the marines begin to scatter in both available directions - east and west - along the beachhead, leaving the nobles of Mazetti blood or otherwise, free to relax while they secure the area... as bleak, desolate, and empty that area of abandoned beach may appear.
While others fanned out to secure the area around them, Dianna busied herself staring at the cliff itself. The question wasn't so much whether anyone was on the beach -- it was far too small for that -- so much as how in the world whoever or whatever they saw had gotten up there. Was it a path? Or a climb? Licking her lips for a moment, she stopped dead. Then doubled her eyes back over the spot they'd just passed over. "Well, hello, you," she murmured. Her fingers curled. She hadn't drawn her glaive -- yet.
Daemon hops off the raft to put his boots to the sand, just as intended. He places his helm atop his head, having been previously resting beneath his arm as his emerald eyes scanned across the horizon. Up the length of each cliff and back down again. Everywhere and anywhere that could be scrutinized was! Evidently he does manage to spot something as he's looking up, far and away. "Someone watches us." He'd call to the rest of the group, lifting a steel finger to point toward the cliff-face. "Man in black clothes." Both hands return to his scabbard and hilt now.
Khanne watches the marines set out on the beach, wandering this way and that. She nods almost absently to Cambria's words. After a moment, her brow furrows as her gaze slides to the seat with the tree above it. She blinks, studying it a moment longer as if to be sure of her eyes. "Uh..." she says, about to call out to Valerio, but... the others beat her to drawing attention to the figure. She nods, making sure her bow is on her back, as if she could forget it was there. "Just let me know if I should draw....."
Ian doesn't see what everyone on the beach is looking at, but he can definitely see the sudden change in their behavior. "Probably a good idea to have your bow ready," he opines. "Maybe not drawn. They don't look like they think it's a threat, yet." Whatever it is.
"I don't see anybody," Cambria remarks. "Other than our people, of course." Which are plainly obvious! She unlinks her arm from Ian's own, and takes a few steps away from the man. She takes a deep breath, and then examines the shore again, likely to no avail for the nonce.
"Marines, remember to only prersent your pointy bits to those presenting pointy bits at you first! Diplomacy!" Valerio, gestures around with the head of Mandate effortlessly. His motions are that the large spiked warmace is almost as non-threatening a walking stick. Almost. Valerio is all about his job here. He's examining and inspecting every part of the military operation to ensure the safety of those entrusted to him. Then there is the mention of being watch. "Cannot say I am pleased, yet note, I am not surprised." He heaves a sigh. "Darling Dianna?" Valerio voice rings a little sharply in the tone of an order at first, and then murmurs. "Attend closely to your cousin, Dancer." A quick wink, and then he looks over his shoulder, the sight of Khanne makes him pause, and then he moves on with a sigh and a shake of his head. "Visitors means... well. You make take most of the reins now, My Marquessa. Diplomacy and all that. Look regal and such? I'm not sure what you diplomat types actually do, I just clean up the affects afterwards." A quick wink and a grin is shown to Cambria and then he is serious-faced again.
Ian gets his cane before going ashore, and leaves his sword behind. He doesn't use the cane on the ship where there's stuff to hold onto, but there's less to hold onto once Camp SafetyTime moves to solid land. He doesn't do sand terribly well, so hopefully this is more of a rocky beach.
The large rock on the beach and the tree that hangs over it provides ample shade to the surrounding area. The thick foliage even lends to partially obscure the cliff wall. So it is when eyes turn to it and begin to speak, a figure garbed in baggy black clothing, steps forward from the shadows of a dark, narrow crevice in the cliff wall, hidden away by the very shade of the tree.
The black clothed figure was dressed as though an assassin from some Lycene bedtime story about an hired blade sent to punish some too-truthful Lycene noble in a darkened alleyway of some exotic Lycene city-state. So when his hands rise up to reveal their emptiness. The bronzed hands rise up to lower the cloth which wraps his head and face, revealing his features. Striking green eyes and sun-bronzed skin, along with sharp features present themselves for the shore party's viewing.
"Greetings, greetings, I'm unarmed, I assure you...", he looks furtively around the immediate area before he looks quickly back to the party, "...I haven't much time, they'll be retrieving you soon enough, no doubt. They'll come for you, they'll escort you to their King... you mustn't trust what you're told. By Vellichor, Gild, Gloria, and the rest of the Pantheon, you can't. We'll send word to you once you're settled into their lodgings." The masked figure pauses for a moment before he glances over his shoulder, squints as he peers into the dark recess of the narrow crevice in the cliff wall, and then back to the shore party, "...I'm Prince Mitchal Hightower, son of King Marcus Hightower and Queen-Consort Jessika Hightower. I apologize for my lack of manners. But..."
A shout can be heard, though indistinct as caused by distance and the echoes as it sounds from the crevice in the wall. It sounds as though the sort of shout an officer would give to marching soldiers. This causes Prince Mitchal to quickly look to his shoulder before he looks back to the shore party, "Be careful, do not tell them you met me, and just play along. I will contact you soon, you have my word as a disciple of Vellichor! They can't find me.."
Then the shav'arvani begins to turn away, quickly taking a step toward the crevice with sudden movements of a man who sensed imminent danger seeking shelter.
Cambria checked composure at difficulty 20, rolling 7 higher.
"Uhhhhhh...." Khanne blinks and murmurs, oh-so-eloquently. She looks towards Cambria, then finds Valerio amongst the people on the beach. Her eyes then look up, all the way up towards the top of the cliff, her lips parted. Taking a deep breath she whispers, "nothing can ever be... easy.. can it."
Valerioappears that he may be busy mentally considering that he should be less truthful when out in public. Or in general.
Daemon's expression is unreadable as it's hidden beneath the protective visor of his helm. Though he does stare out to the robed figure nonetheless, his hand not leaving his weapon's side for asl ong as he remained in their sight. Once he's disappeared, the knight relaxes. Lifting his gauntlets up to remove his helm again, he possesses a warm smile! "What a delightfully polite Prince! We've stumbled upon a Kingdom in the cliffs, have we?" Giddiness worked its way up and down his body like a storm. "Ooh, I can't wait to meet this King! Royalty!"
Ian's expression doesn't betray his reaction to any of this. But he moves automatically to put himself between Cambria and the source of the approaching shouting/marching.
Both of Dianna's dark brows shot up at the man's words. "I've never heard of any Hightower kings," she said, plainly enough. Was it accusation or was it doubt that colored her voice? Did it really matter? Either way, the shouting provided an effective distraction. Her attention was immediately drawn there, with her hands moving for her blade.
The youthful man calling himself Prince Mitchal disappears into the crevice like a snake disappearing into a crack in the cliff wall. One moment there, the next he was gone.
blinks at Daemon's excitement and goes, "ShhhhhhhShh." Rude? Perhaps. "I don't know who he is," she says barely loud enough for him to hear. "But, he said not to let on we met him. So, until we figure out what is going on..... " She makes a face, her brows lifting. "... we should keep it, you know, quiet?" Looking over to Cambria and the others to see if they agree. To Dianna, she asks, "do you know many shav tribes? Many have chiefs, some kings. Their own hierarchy..." She looks down the beach, not towards the crevice. "He seemed shav..." she whispers.
Cambria does not give a startled reaction when the man claiming to be someone named Mitchal Hightower makes his appearance. Instead, her eyes narrow suspiciously, and she begins to move in towards the man before some sense of self-preservation sets in and she never draws too close. "Are you the one who sent the letter?" She hisses in a low voice. However, by that time the shouting reaches their ears, and Mitchal is beginning to squirrel away. Cambria's brows furrow into a dangerous V, even as Ian puts himself before her.
"Should we have weapons ready, at the least," she calls as loudly as she dares to the black-robed man's retreating form. As he disappears, the Marquessa gives a most unlady-like, "Bastard." Very quickly, Cambria waves towards Valerio, saying, "Let's have everyone at the ready, just in case." Then, to Khanne, "I don't know of many Shavs that worship the pantheon, do you?"
Khanne shrugs a shoulder to Cambria. "How many shamans pray to Mangata? Anything is possible these days... if you ask me."
Dianna, at least, did not have to be asked twice. Once Cambria had asked for weapons at th ready, she drew her glaive from off of her back, grasping it firmly with both hands. She closed the gap between herself and her cousin, standing perhaps a touch too close for the other woman's comfort.
Ah, right, subtly! Something Daemon had heard of, but sorely lacked. With an almost sheepish grin, he nods back to Khanne and straightens right back out. "Right! Apologies! I'm always so overjoyed to meet those in high echelons... Excuse my excitement, but I just had to take a moment for it..." He bows his head deeply, deferring back to his companions as he falls right back in line.
Ian angles his head towards Cambria and asks her a very soft question.
Cambria turns her head in answer to Ian, and her reply is surprisingly lengthy, with a few hand gestures tossed into the mix for good measure.
Sleeps with Mandate, so the fact Valerio already has his weapon in hand should continue to shock no-one. "Ready arms! Pass the order, ready Arms! Noone strikes without order, or at least cause." Noting Dianna close to Cambria, Valerio nods, another towards Ian. Daemon just gets a sigh for the time being. Khanne gets a firm pointing towards Ian, Cambria and Dianna. Valerio just starts striding forward to see what he can see, or possibly greet.
Ian raises his eyebrows at whatever Cambria says. "I'm getting the sense that someone might be playing games," he mutters. Maybe to her. Maybe just to himself. Either way, it's quiet enough that you'd have to be right there to hear him.
Something occurs belatedly to Ian, and he asks Cambria another soft question, apparently taking Valerio's orders to keep quiet about the stranger to heart.
Khanne doesn't reach for her bow, but, it's on her back. When Valerio gestures her over to the others, she pauses, eyes looking around again before heading over to them. She watches Ian and Cambria whispering, but does not try to intrude on their conversation. Softly, she says, "I am so confused..."
The Marquessa considers Ian's second question, then shakes her head in the negative before muttering something softly in reply.
Ian nods to whatever Cambria says, and lets the subject be, handing over to her the responsibility to do thinking person things. He's here for stabbing, not thinking.
From the crevice a figure slips. A tall woman made bulky by the shining plates of armor which she wears that seems to catch the light and send it in array of beams of light as she steps from beneath the shade of the tree. She does not approach too haphazardly to the shore party. The diamondplate that she wears seems to possess an old design rarely seen these days beyond the personal collections of historians on the mainland. Her hair is kept short and is glistening blonde. She offers up a dazzling smile in greeting before she offers a deep bow to the party. When she corrects her posture she settles her gauntlet covered hands in at her side and then speaks up, "Greetings to each of you, we of the Pinnacle are joyed to receive you," she says in a crisply spoken voice. Her accent sounds as though someone that could easily be found attending court in Arx's own Ward of the Crown by the clipped and precise manner in which she speaks. When she continues she looks to each face with a soft smile, even the small number of marines still in the vicinty who have prepared arms at the orders of Marshal Valerio, "I am Dame Abigail Clermont, Captain of the Queen's Own, most formidable protector of Her Majesty, The Rightful Monarch, Queen Alison Davens. And this..."
Just as Dame Abigail begins to gesture back toward the crevice, a middle-aged man with a powerfully snow white beard and bald head squirms his way from the crevice, "By the Sentinel I'm too old for field work, Captain Clermont. I think that I lose feeling in my left leg on the way dow...", he trails off from his annoyed sputtering as he frees himself and his red robe from the crevice and straightens quickly as he takes note of Dame Abigail and the shore party. He looks first to the Captain of the Queen's Own and then onward to the party from the Ostrian vessel. He seems shocked for a moment, hazel eyes wide and embarassed before he begins to stammer, "I, uh, hello..."
Dame Abigail continues on without addressing the robed man's complaints, "...is our Archlector of the Sentinel, Father Alfred Pinnacleborn."
Together the pair the local shavs turn their focus back to the shore party and the blonde-haired knight offers another bright smile before she speaks, "Welcome to Pinnacle, the last refuge from the demonic hordes. We must, of course, ensure that you yourselves are not demons. Before we proceed, I must ask your permissions on behalf of the Archlector of the Sentinel that we sprinkle you with holy water to ensure that you too, are in fact, not demons."
Dame Abigail smiles brightly following the polite request as her armored hands settle together before herself, while she seems to make no move to even grace a fingertip across the blade sheathed at her side.
"The pinnacle..." Daemon is set into a ready martial stance at Valerio's beckoning to the troops, but that doesn't stop the twinkle in his eyes from shining right through and illuminating his excitement! "Such a fitting name for a place of... many cliffs!" He's mostly talking to himself, though it's probably audible to any number of troops that have gathered around him. Nonetheless, he's turning his head toward Cambria and Valerio. Diplomacy (and pointy things) seemed to be their strong suit for the expedition.
Khanne has rolled a critical success!
Khanne checked composure at difficulty 7, rolling 49 higher.
Khanne where were you before, when i rolled a -8 on PERCEPTION, DIE???
Khanne, the ever wary, eyes the pair carefully, though takes a deep breath and tries very hard to maintain a neutral expression. This is something that demands a fair bit of focus for her, as she so often wears her thoughts upon her features rather clearly. Instead, she is trying to not give off any sort of sign that she may not trust the pair, or their holy water. Standing near Cambria, she waits for the Marquessa's word, following her lead as this is an Ostrian mission.
Cambria looks Abigail up and down...and up and down before she seems satisfied. As the self-proclaimed Captain of the Queen's Own begins to speak in earnest, Cambria's eyes snap towards the Dame's face. The Marquessa adopts a rather imperious posture, hands clasped behind her back as she listens. As yet a second figure reveals himself, Cambria remains an island of stoic poise. Her head nods but once, and only ever so slightly, as though her neck could not possibly bend more than the merest fraction. She then steps forward.
"I am the Marquessa of House Mazetti, Countess of the March of Ostria," she offers in greeting, her hands now spread low and to either side, palms forward. "I thank you for your warm welcome, Dame Abigail, and understand your need for caution." Her eyes slide towards Dianna and Valerio, to whom she gives a meaningful look before saying to Abigail, "You may begin with me. Then, I trust, proper introductions on behalf of my humble entourage can be made."
"Oh." That is Valerio's first thoughtful response. "Oh f-" This one he at least bites off. Apparently something has occured to him, and he's doing his best to not look like he bit into something sour. His head turns back towards Cambria with an arched eyebrow, then back towards Dame Clermont. "Dame Clermont, I am Lord Valerio Mazetti, Marshal of Ostria in service of House Mazetti. Allow me to introduce m-" Cambria saves Valerio from having to stammer out all the politenesses and niceities diplomacy requires, so he mumbles to himself to finish. "My Marquessa, She of The Headstrong, Ignorer of Potential Peril, Wielder of Snark and Witticisms... so that she may stick her head into a potential noose."
Ian, in contrast to Khanne, might not even HAVE any expressions other than 'impassive' and 'dry amusement'. Right now, he's not especially amused, leaving his expression calm. He studies the newcomers, first one and then the other, with intense blue eyes. He leans his weight on his cane, certainly not holding it like it's a weapon while Cambria takes the reins.
As the two figures made their way though the narrow crevice, Dianna watched with brows that slowly crept upwards, bit by bit by bit. A slow parade of people processing through a crack in a cliff was not what she'd been expecting, let alone ones presenting them with such titles. Or requests. "Lady Dianna Mazetti, of Ostria. Glaivedancer and Guardian of our House. And of the Marquessa." She nodded once to the knight, sharply. Apparently, Dianna expected that Dame Abigail, of all people, would understand what that duty entailed -- and what it meant. "Your waters, then?" A warm smile plastered itself across her face.
Dame Abigail offers a polite bow of her blonde head to Cambria upon her introduction, "Well met and thank you for coming so swiftly in answer to our outreach, Marquessa of House Mazetti and Countess of the March of Ostria. I wish to also extend my personal thanks in making this process so pleasant. It's good to see that the demons haven't completely stamped out all semblance of manners or, should you prove to be demons yourselves, that you yourselves have some semblance of manners before you're summarily executed." All of which is politely and professionally spoken before the Captain of the Queen's Own gestures to Alfred, "Archlector? If you'd be so kind as to administer the holy water to ensure that our guests are what they appear to be? Thank you."
Archlector Alfred Pinnacleborn offers a more solemn and collected bow of his head toward Abigail before he steps forward, closer to the shore party. He withdraws a rather large, almost comically large, vial from a sleeve of his robe. Contained within the corked glass appears to be a clear and easily flowing fluid as it swirls in it's container. He pulls the corner from the vial and as promise begins to gently flick the vial in the direction of Cambria. Sprinkles of clear fluid patter her hair, face, and shoulders before the Archlector takes two steps back in order to watch for melting flesh or agonizing screeches. When none come, Alfred continues among the party, sprinkling the apparent holy water upon the visitors.
While Alfred works, Dame Abigail begins to speak, "Naturally each of you will have a great many questions and while I am equipped to answer them, I feel that it is best that my liege answers them. Her Majesty will no doubt wish to meet you promptly following this necessary procedure. So once we're through with this we'll begin the climb to Pinnacle and announce your honored arrival," the Captain of the Queen's Own explains. After Abigail goes silent, the Dame turns her attention to Dianna and Valerio both whom she greets first with a warm smile and twinkling eyes, "It is indeed a pleasure to meet you both. I'm really beginning to like all of you. You're so *polite*! It *will* be a shame if any of you are masquerading as humans though, because I'd truly like you to stay."
Then onward to Daemon does Dame Abigail's attention turn. She fixes him with a softer smile and her eyebrows rise upward as she addresses the knight, "There are a great many lovely sights in and around Pinnacle. The view from the top, with a treasured companion? Breathtaking, truly. One of the members of the Whisper House once took me there during a romantic evening. Would you like to visit it with me after you've settled in as our guests?" Abigail's smile remains persistent. Archlector Alfred however pauses in splashing Valerio's one-eyed self with holy water to partially turn to regard Abigail, "...really, Captain? Let's at least make sure they're not abominations, first..", and then he turns back with a mildly annoyed sigh as he moves on to sprinkle... no, splash... holy water in the face of Sir Daemon Dracone.
Hadrian GM Roll checked mana(4) + theology(5) at difficulty 40, rolling 1 higher.
Archlector Alfred pauses before Khanne with his comically large vial. He raises it up and then slowly he leans forward and forward and forward. As if he were preparing to press his face to her chest, he quietly grunts at himself, "Huh...most peculiar. Definitely peculiar, Captain...but, she's okay, yes." A nod is given by the Archlector and he leans away from Khanne without sprinkling her with the holy water and onward he goes toward the marines.
Okay, now Ian's amused; it shows in a brief, dry smile that touches his features just for a moment before vanishing.
Daemon stands upright in an instant, prim and proper as could be when he's addressed formally by the apparent Captain. One must maintain their manners when in the presence of authority, after all. Especially on a first meeting on foreign soil! Foreign... Shav'arvani soil, but soil nonetheless! "Your home is lovely, Dame Abigail. Never have I seen somewhere so exotic. It is far and away from what I am used to, the sights I can scarcely imagine... Oh, but my manners seem to have left me!" He bows down deeply, a flourish of his hand. The signature move of the Oathlander when giving respect where it is due. "Sir Daemon Dracone, protege to our fair Marquessa. I hail from lands distant to their own, but I assure you I've never met a finer ruler." And splash goes the holy water, matting some of his platinum locks down to his face. He just stands, solid as a statue, smile beaming all the while. "Ah, refreshing!" He remarked as it began to drip off of his chin.
"Oh my gods, the burning!! Auuuuugh!" Valerio is wailing in misery and anger. Visible. Palpable anger. Suddenly he stops to look over the two representatives from the Queen. "A demon?" Valerio's eye snaps to each in turn. "I cannot think of any worse insult for me at this point. Certainly I would understand the need for caution, but don't you think demons would have found a way to defend against that by now?" He exhales sharply and mumbles to himself something before going "Right. Apologies. Long trip. Old past. Things of this natur-DOYOUMIND?" The latter came about as the Archlector was a little too close in his inspections.
Khanne watches Alfred as he sprinkles each person, her gaze studious and intense, though she remains composed, not a single furrowed or arched brow, no quirk of the lips up or down, no tension in the jaw. Such skill. Much calm. "Lady Khanne Halfshav," she says, introducing herself. "Voice of Halfshav House, within the Redrain fealty...." Alfred approaches her then and as he gets so close to her chest, she arches back slightly, no longer refraining from being expressive. Her brows pinch together and as he makes note that she is indeed not a demon, she murmurs, "I assure you, the only thing peculiar about my chest is a scar... or two... or three..." She does, however, seem relieved to not be doused in water. She presses her lips together to stifle a bit of a chuckle though at Valerio.
Dianna's lashes flutter a few times as she's splashed, doing her best not to catch any of the droplets directly in her eyes. "I have no doubt that there are quite a few lovely sights within, that we would very much like to see after our proper introduction to your lovely Queen, though I'm afraid I must admit that tales of Pinnacle have not reached so far Ostria. Though we do tend to stay within our own wal---," she trailed off, blinking at her uncle. The expression she was positively priceless. It was masterful, really. It was the sort of expression that would suggest she was the elder generation and he the younger. It said that it wasn't so much that she was angry at his antics, just *disappointed*. "Really, uncle?," she intoned dryly, her surprisingly mild reproach accompanied by a soft sigh.
Archlector Alfred audibly yelps as Valerio begins to scream, shout, and wail. He quickly begins to scramble away to hide behind Dame Abigail. Dame Abigail however quickly pulls a glistening blade from her side that can only appear as if it were worked from a massive diamond. The blade has been fit with a single dawnstone within the pommel and with lightning quickness the blade is whipped from her scabbard and held before herself between both hands.
As Valerio's amusement and apology are offered however, Dame Abigail's smile slowly, perhaps reluctantly returns before she clears her throat and offers a crisply spoken response, "Please, dearest Lord Valerio, don't do that once we've reached Pinnacle... that, that wouldn't go so well as it would here. Please, by Gloria, don't do that. I beg of you."
Dame Abigail softly clears her throat once the apparent demonic threat has been proven to be just a prank and once again sheathes the diamondplate blade away. For a brief moment the blonde-hair Captain of the Queen's Own seems visibly rattled by the brief scare and takes a moment to compose herself before she speaks, "Archlector, please, continue."
Archlector Alfred steps from behind the shorter Captain and, with a sudden scowl cast toward Valerio, continues on to begin sprinkling the Ostrian marines - albeit with more haste than before, so that he may promptly flee to stand behind Dame Abigail once more.
Dame Abigail shifts her attention to Dianna and offers a soft nod of her head before she asks with a peculiar tilt of her head, "So there is still a resistance on the mainland? Everything hasn't fallen to the abyss?"
Cambria remains still as she is splashed by the waters of Alfred's vial. Nor does she react over much as Alfred moves on through the party, not when he gives sir Daemon what amounts to a water slap, or when the old man appears to find something...upon Khanne's chest worthy of intense scrutiny. Once the test to determine their humanity has passed - wait, no, nevermind. Valerio earns a sharp look from the Marquessa before she addresses Abigail.
"I ask, on behalf of my Marshal, that you forgive his outburst. We, too, are enemies of all things demonic. The Marshal is a veteran of one such war." Her lips press thinly together and she inhales through her nose before her expression transforms into a most radiant and friendly smile. "And Lady Khanne Halfshav hales from the far north. Indeed, the journey from her distant home to your own would undoubtedly take weeks. If not longer. It is small wonder she may seem most foreign to your eyes. Ah, did I hear mention of a Whisper House? How delightful." The smile remains, warm and welcoming, as though Abigail and Alfred were the ones being put upon, rather than Cambria and her party.
"With me also is Lord Ian Kennex, as well as..." Several others are introduced with impeccable formality. "As you yourself said, Dame Abigail, let us not tarry, and instead go to meet your queen. I am only too sure that all parties are eager to meet and exchange news with one another." Deftly pre-empting sharing too much with Abigail. An eye for an eye and all that. Or perhaps an answer for an answer.
When the sword came out, Ian was moving just as fast; he changes his grip on his cane, almost like it's a scabbard holding a sword that he's about to draw. (Because it basically is.) But the threat abates before he bares steel, and so he goes back to leaning on his cane again -- all of this without a change in expression, or the slightest disturbance in the serenity in his eyes. He nods when introduced.
Not looking that remorseful is Valerio. Once the display of weapons occurs, he shifts to match stances in kind with a muttered. "This gonna hurt." Then all is well, and he appears to calm down as ordered. "I will... try to not startle anyone again." This is not readily apparent given the predatory smile the Archlector recieves as he scurries about. Dianna gets herself a great big Cumberbatchian smile. Cambria a much more subdued smile and incline of his head. "As my Marquessa says, forgive my outburst." Such a neutral tone.
Valerio checked stamina + athletics at difficulty 18, rolling 11 higher.
Daemon checked stamina + athletics at difficulty 18, rolling 19 higher.
Khanne checked stamina + athletics at difficulty 18, rolling 8 lower.
Cambria checked stamina + athletics at difficulty 18, rolling 20 higher.
Ian takes one look at the steep climb and shakes his head. "Even if I make it up that, I won't make it back down," he tells Dianna. "I'm going to go back to the ship and make sure the captain knows what's going on." And then he does, while his player goes to pass out and hate asthma.
Valerio checked stamina + athletics at difficulty 15, rolling 13 higher.
Dianna checked stamina + athletics at difficulty 18, rolling 8 higher.
Valerio checked strength + athletics at difficulty 15, rolling 24 higher.
"One such war, Marquessa? You mean *The* War?" Dame Abigail asks with another tilt of her head to the left with a mixture of intrigue and confusion. Then, abruptly, she straightens and softly clears her throat before Abigail gestures the shore party, "Very well, shall we? It's not a particular hazardous climb to Pinnacle. It's just time consuming and, well... I hope you don't mind stairs."
Dame Abigail turns away, only to find Archlector Alfred practically huddling behind her once more. An unamused sigh is cast toward the holy man before the pair turn their backs to the shore party and make their way to the crevice. The crevice itself is a tight squeeze, but once beyond it, it opens up into a network of tunnels. At one point Dame Abigail speaks up to offer the tour guide experience, "We came to Pinnacle which was little more than a fortress island at the time, not a permanent home, because our ancestors set sail to join with and reinforce the Marin fleet. The Archives of Vellichor notes that we were utterly destroyed in our attempt to overcome the hordes of the abyss...we came here to fight our war, because it would be easier to defend. This is where we've remained..."
Onward they travel through a branching tunnel. Then dim light from above reveals an opening in the tunnel and the traveling party arrive in an outdoor courtyard of sorts, within the cliff walls itself. Winding stairs lead upward; turning, curving, wrapping, and spiraling their way upward toward the pinnacle of the rocky island.
The climb is long and taxing. The stairs have been worn down by the passage of feet, likely over the course of centuries, to the point that they possess grooves where the left and right foot would naturally traverse the stones. The stairs lead off into further tunnels, though these tunnels are finished and expert hands have elaborately carved into them. The sounds of life echo from the tunnels; a blacksmiths hammer here, children's laughter there, and the steady hum of gossiping mouths can be heard from yet another. Even some places within the hollowed core of Pinnacle and rocky outcroppings feature plantlife set aside for the growth of hardy crops which are tended to by industrious workers. Fish drying in the sun are visible on racks during the climb and the scent of seafood cooking wafts from a branching tunnel at one landing within the winding set of stairs.
Ever higher they climb until finally they can see the sky above, the ocean stretching out into the distance, and feel the bluster of sea winds as they climb the last steps to the pinnacle of the pillar of stone. A lone stone structure stands atop the plateau and before it stands a procession of armed and armored troops, though spears and shields held in parade rest as they form two columns before the stone structure. Before that stone structure, a gathering has assembled. Dame Abigail speeds up her pace in order to precede the party of Ostrians and their allies. She approaches a middle-aged woman whose hair was no doubt once dark, but age has began to sneak quite a few traces of silver-white into what was no doubt deep black hair. The woman leans aside to listen to a quiet word from the Captain and, with a soft nod of her head, she turns her attention back to the travelers.
A hand lifts to daintily adjust the equally dainty crown which she wears as she calls out with a soft smile and a raised hand, "Welcome to Pinnacle. By Gild's blessing and Guest Right, be welcome and at ease. You are the honored guests of the people of Pinnacle and myself, Queen Alison Davens."
Khanne started walking with the others up the stairs. She did fine... for awhile... but, the northern woman who wears silk in Arx well into the beginning of what they call winter.... is dressed head to toe in leathers. Sure, her leggings look good on her... but... "Hot... so hot..." Khanne whispers under her breath as she walks. Only getting hotter the higher up they go. She is breathing a bit laboredly, looking more pale than usual. Each step becomes more difficult and she reaches out to grab onto something to keep herself from falling as she begins to feel light headed.
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