• Solo • A Flame in the Dark

Once an isolated and dying township, an influx of academics, adventurers and thrill seekers have made Scalvoris Town their home. From scholars' tea shops to a new satellite campus for Viden Academy, this is an exciting place to visit or make your home!

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• Solo • A Flame in the Dark

Postby Sephira » Thu Feb 01, 2018 4:05 pm

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1st of Cylus, Arc 718
Tonight was the night Sephira would begin her training with the Flame Troops. She was nearly done with her initial time in each branch in the Elements and was growing closer to finally graduating to begin properly serving in the military. The thought of getting a taste of Flame Troop life brought a spark of excitement to Sephira, however she did not forget Su’an’s scarred face and the suspicion that their work was more dangerous than she understood.

The oil lamps dotting the streets cast a haunting glow across the chilly roads of Scalvoris Town as Sephira made her way toward Elements Hall. She had been assigned to work with Keim’an Thojo, a Biqaj man who she had trained with in the past. He had been a merciless teacher, but an individual with a sense of humor and a friendly manner. It was a welcome relief to be working with someone who was not a complete stranger.

Element Hall was quiet as most of the personnel had returned home for the night. It was eerie to see the normally bright and bustling building in the late hours of the night. Keim’an was waiting for the young Rupturer in the lobby with his massive arms crossed across his broad chest. A concerned expression was creasing his features as he silently read a sheaf of pages clutched in his scarred hands. As Sephira closed the door with a soft click the Biqaj glanced up at her, his normal good humored smile was absent and she suddenly got the impression that working with the Flame Troops was going to be quite different than her time in the other branches.

“Blackwood”He said curtly, noting her appearance with a sharp nod before passing her the papers he had splayed out in his hands. “We received a courier from the Land Troops a few breaks ago. This individual has been laying low for the past season but he’s out of his hiding hole again and back to his old habits.” The Defier said darkly.

Sephira quickly read through the first document. It was a record from a little over an arc ago of several reports of house-cats being stolen and later turning up dead and disfigured. It was grotesque and turned the woman’s stomach to the point that she had to suppress the reflex to gag. Swallowing with difficulty she continued reading. Apparently the Flame Troops had eventually been called in to assist the investigation when the Land Troops could not resolve the problem. A few suspects were brought in and property was searched but no evidence was found. The beloved felines continued being stolen and slayed until near the beginning of Zi’da when the serial killer Skinny Jim was murdered by a mysterious stranger. Skinny Jim’s corpse had been left hanging from a tree in the town square with a threatening note tied to his neck. The note was written in blood and warned that perpetrators of violence were being watched carefully by the serial killer’s murderer.

The crimes of their perpetrator suddenly stopped overnight and the trail went cold. The Elements closed the case with no more evidence to merit the continuation of an investigation. It was presumed that the killings were the work of a drifter and it put minds at ease that these crimes were not the work of a local resident. A few trials ago the carcasses of two house cats were found near the edge of town; they had been skinned and maimed similar to before the lull in activity. Apparently the criminal had begun his work once again, feeling safe to continue now that a season had passed.
An audible gag escaped Sephira’s throat, Keim’an patted her on the back with a heavy hand.

“It’s alright; try not to think too hard on it". He suggested gently.

“This is the work of a sadist.” She spat, handing back the papers to Keim’an. “What’s changed now? Why have they started again?” she asked out loud to no one in particular.

“The sick bastard must feel like the pressure is off. But things are different this time, we have a lead.” The Biqaj said firmly. “We think he either found the animals at the docks or took them there to drown them. There was fair bit of sand and salt on the bodies. That gives us reason to check there first.”

Sephira cocked an inquisitive eyebow. "Why are they sending us...mages to find this guy? Doesn't it strike you as odd?"

Keim'an frowned deeply. "There is suspicion that this may be the work of a fledgling necromancer."
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Sephira
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A Flame in the Dark

Postby Sephira » Fri Feb 02, 2018 3:37 pm

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The docks were quite eerie in the dark of the night. Dinghies, barges and the occasional galleon creaked mournfully as they rose and fell to the steady cadence of the waves. A few sailors still hung about, either sleeping on their boats for the night or heading toward a local bar or inn for drink and rest. The scent of salt and rotting seaweed hung in the air like a sickly perfume

Sephira’s heels clicked crisply on the battered wood of the docks as she followed behind Keim’an. Her arms were crossed tightly against her body, as though unconsciously hoping to ward off the sick feeling that was growing in her gut. There were potentially hunting a mage. The fact that this individual was likely a fledgling or inexperienced criminal necromancer did ease her conscience a fair bit. However still she wondered if her master would have approved of hunting down a mage at all. It didn’t matter, Elias was gone and obviously the perpetrator was engaging in crime. The task of the Elements was cut and dry. They were to locate this individual and imprison him for a later trial. This was the nature of serving under the command of others; you followed orders even if they sometimes left a bad taste in your mouth.

At the eastern end of the docks there was a ramshackle shack that had once been used for the storage of salted fish and netting. The structure had begun to collapse a few arcs past and a new one had been built further to the western end of the docks. This dilapidated building had been abandoned, the builders not even bothering to demolish it. The rusty hinges on the door had begun to crumble, leaving the door half unhinged and partially open. At the base of the rotting door was a dark wet stain.

Keim’an knelt down and gingerly dipped his fingers into the half-dried fluid and took a tentative sniff. With a rough motion the Biqaj wiped the liquid off onto his pants before nodding back at Sephira.

“Blood, it’s old though, maybe a few breaks at least.” He said huskily with a deep frown.

Suddenly there was a clatter of metal from within the shack that nearly sent the Rupturer flying out of her boots. Her hand was on the hilt of her saber instantly, her heart thrumming wildly within her chest. Keim’an shoved her back lightly, silently mouthing for them to retreat. As quietly as possibly they fell back behind a pile of empty shipping crates similar to the containers that commonly littered the area.

The shack lay about thirty feet ahead of them, still in sight but wreathed in shadow. Moonlight provided very little illumination for the two Elements to see by. Abruptly a soft creaking came from the threshold of the shack and the door was slowly pushed open. The head of a small animal peaked out, only to be soon joined by two other feline silhouettes. A curious greenish gleam glittered in their shade cloaked eyes. Sephira nudged Keim’an before she settled back behind the crated to hide from view.

With a quick thought back to how the shack had looked and the location of the door Sephira gently coiled her will around the ambient ether to create a phase portal. Soft red light illuminated her eyes from her witchmark as crimson radiance danced around her hands. A tiny little portal ignited between her outstretched fingers that gave her an unobstructed zoomed in view of the creatures. She doubted her partner could see through the phase portal so she relayed the information to him.

“There are three of them.”
She said softly before pushing down the nausea growing in her stomach. “They look….like corpses.” The magic flowed between her digits displaying the real time image of the decaying felines as they sniffed the air before emerging fully from the shed. Their fur was almost completely gone, with only patches of hair around their faces and tails. Random wounds could be seen dotting the cat’s bodies, though no blood flowed from them. It appeared like there was little blood left in them at all as their exposed skin appeared slickly and lifeless.

Keim’an remained silent; they both knew what this meant. There was good reason to suspect their criminal was a mage, and one of the worst kinds out there.

“They are leaving.” The young mage whispered, watching through the portal as the creatures took off down a nearby street.

“We’ll follow them.” The Biqaj man said softly while Sephira dismissed her phase portal with the wave of her hand. Her eyes faded back to normal as she nodded to him. Silently the woman realized that the magic was starting to come easier to her. There was less of a struggle to coax the ether into her portals; it flowed more easily and freely like it was greeting an old friend. She brushed the thought aside as they rose and slowly took off after the strange cats.

The undead felines moved with a strange uniformity as though they were of the same mind. When one turned its head to inspect a noise, the others did the same almost in unison. It was unnerving to watch. It reminded Sephira of watching a school of fish dart from a predator, moving as one creature when there were really hundreds of minds at work. Cats were not meant to behave this way.

The bits passed as the two Elements followed the strange animals through the darkened streets of Scalvoris Town. The felines continually chose the least populated alleyways and side roads to travel, moving ever onward at a swift pace. They were nearing the edge of town; Sephira could see the roof of the Four in Hand nearby so she had a general idea of their location.

Strangely the felines disappeared from sight near a tidy little cottage similar to Sephira’s own. There was well tended shrubbery arrayed around the door along with a fenced in garden that could be seen in the back. The woman looked curiously at her comrade, a quizzical look splayed across her face. Keim’an gave an exaggerated shrug as though this flabbergasted him as well. She had been expecting some dank hole lined in thorny brambles, not a house that looked as though this could be one of her neighbors...
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Sephira
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A Flame in the Dark

Postby Sephira » Thu Feb 08, 2018 12:15 pm

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A warm light radiated through the small glass insert in the front door, suggesting the presence of a cooking fire. The scent of bread baking was also detectable. All in all, the home appeared perfectly innocent.

Sephira looked quizzically at Keim’an, the Biqaj man stood from their hiding place and gestured toward the door of the home. The woman followed behind her comrade reluctantly, this situation was not what she had expected.

Their footsteps echoed eerily down the street as they crossed the distance to the door.

“Let me do the talking.” Keim’an whispered sharply; giving Sephira a measured glance before rapping on the door with his knuckles. The young mage was not sure what she was expecting but she was dismayed when a thin elderly woman with puffy white hair answered the door. The woman was garbed in a blue apron tied around a sensible outfit consisting of a comfortable looking belted tunic and linen pants. Her smile was slightly pinched from age, but obviously intended to be welcoming.

“Can I help you?” she asked with a shaky voice, not quite meeting Keim’an in the eyes as she spoke. Rather quickly Sephira realized that the old woman’s eyes were a soft milky hue when turned in the right light. She must be blind, or very near to being so.

The Biqaj man put on an agreeable smile, nudging Sephira forward. “Uh, we’re with the Elements ma’am, just checking the neighborhood to make sure there’s been no trouble about.” He said haltingly with a higher pitched voice than normal. Keim'an coughed, as if to give himself time to come up with a believable line. “Have things been good? No one making mischief?”

Sephira snorted derisively under her breath at his struggle to ply the old blind woman with a convincing story. Right at that moment the young woman spied a white flash of movement inside the house through the open door. The shape of a small animal had leapt from a piece of furniture to somewhere out of site.

The old woman had just started complaining to Keim’an about some local children ruining her hedges a few weeks ago when Sephira interrupted her.
“Sorry, but do you have a cat?” She asked sweetly. The elderly woman’s face lit up at Sephira’s words.

“Several…yes! Do you like them?” she inquired excitedly.

Keim’an’s turned to the Rupturer sharply, a sour expression decorating his face as though she had ruined all of his grand machinations.
Sephira ignored him, putting on her most exuberant voice, “I...love them!” she exclaimed while glancing at the Biqaj man with a sickly sweet smile. It was obvious Sephira was faking her love of felines; to be quite honest she was allergic, but if it would get them in the door without suspicion, then so be it.

“You must come meet them then, please come in.” The old woman chirped excitedly while ushering the two Elements inside the warm cottage. The elderly woman felt her way through the doorway with an extended arm, giving further evidence that she was without sight.

“Such good timing, we were just about to sit down for tea”
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Sephira
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A Flame in the Dark

Postby Sephira » Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:40 am

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The scent of freshly baked bread and a stewing pot of tea suddenly wavered as they entered the tidy cottage. A faint but putrid odor emerged as they walked into the den that adjoined the kitchen. The source of the smell seemed a mystery as the home seemed rather ordinary. As the mage had expected there was a pair of rather attractive white cats perched on the sofa cleaning their paws, paying no mind to the guests. Feigning interest, Sephira sat on the couch opposite the cats and began lavishing praise on them.

“They are lovely.” She said with a half-smile at the two self-absorbed felines. “What are their names?”
It was Keim’an’s turn to snort cynically as he stood uncomfortably in the small foyer.

“Ms. Mable and Mr. Dingles,” the elderly woman replied happily as she began pouring hot tea into four pink porcelain tea cups. Keim’an rolled his eyes dismissively.

“Do you have others?” Sephira inquired sweetly with a dark gleam in her self-assured crimson eyes.

“The others are quite old; they don’t come round much unless it suits them. Cats will be cats.” The blind woman responded blithely as she slowly shuffled over with the tray of tea. “We thought three of them died last arc, from old age and the cold but my husband somehow managed to find them a few weeks ago and brought them back.” She explained while setting the tray down with shaky arms.
Keim’an took a seat beside Sephira, a wary glint in his eyes as he peered around the room.

“Four cups, I’m guessing your husband is joining us?” The gruff man asked, leaning forward intently.

“Yes, he should be back soon. He went down to the harbor for some reason or another” She replied before looking at Sephira with her unnerving milky eyes. “Men are much like cats my dear, they do as they please.”

Without warning the back door to the cottage opened, a gust of cold air rushing into the home. A man with a gray balding head emerged into view, wearing overalls and waterproof wading boots. He appeared startled to see the two Elements seated in his home, looking at them with a curious leer in his eyes.

“I see you have guests.” He said crisply, removing a pair of work gloves from his calloused hands.
“They were just asking if there had been any trouble in the neighborhood dear, oh and this one wanted to see my cats.” His wife said cheerily while pointed roughly in Sephira’s direction.

Her husband peered at the Rupturer closely, paying careful attention to the pins on their clothes marking them as members of the Elements.
“I’m going to go wash up.” He said emotionlessly, making it thoroughly clear that he did not appreciate strangers sitting in his home. With a quick turn he stomped off down a hall that clearly must lead to the washroom.

“Ignore him.” The old woman said with an apologetic smile as she reached for the teapot and began pouring herself a cup.
A sharp hiss broke the artificial tranquility; one of the white cats of earlier was eyeing something behind the sofa and baring its teeth.
“Oh stop that!” the old woman cried with a soft laugh while she stirred sugar into her tea. “I’m afraid my older cats don’t get along with Mabel and Dingles.”

Sephira and Keim’an stiffened as a dark fetid pair of ears slinked around the corner of the sofa, leering at them with those empty green eyes. It was one of the cats they had followed from the docks. Two more of the creatures emerged from the other side of the room; their fur was patchy, revealing pallid corpse-like skin.

“Hello dears.”
The blind woman said, smiling in the general direction of the undead felines, their heads turning in unison at her voice. “My, my you three smell like you need a bath.” She chided, totally unaware of Sephira and Keim’an’s horrified expressions.
The Biqaj man gulped visibly as he and the Rupturer slowly stood, the undead felines watching their ascent with mirrored movements.
"I’m guessing these are the three…you suspected had died…last season.” Kiem’an said, his mouth going dry at the realization that this woman had been living unknowingly with undead cats for several weeks.

The woman nodded casually, “Yes, like I said, my husband Rodrick found them near the harbor. They were a little worse for wear…but he said they would get better in the coming trials.”

Sephira looked at her partner with a worried expression. The woman’s husband had not returned since declaring that he was ‘washing up’. The young mage skirted past the creepy cats and jogged down the hall toward where Rodrick had gone.

The washroom and bedroom were empty.

Suddenly the old woman shrieked from the living room, prompting Sephira to come sprinting back. The three decaying felines had collapsed around their mistress; the faint green light had left their eyes, leaving nothing but putrid corpses behind.
Keim’an swept past the blind woman and pointed toward the backdoor. “We need to move! He must have run far enough that he couldn’t keep them animated any longer.”

The two Elements burst out the back of the cottage at a full sprint.

“Well that just happened...” Sephira exclaimed sarcastically as she at her partner vaulted over the low fence encircling the back of the home.
The Biqaj man chuckled darkly while he ran. “I’m betting he’s headed back to the harbor. Now that we’ve smoked him out he’ll have to either get off the island or find a deep hole to hide in.”

“So, explain it to me.”
The woman said roughly in between sharp breaths as she ran. “He’s been reanimating random cats he killed to replace her dead pets?! How does that even make sense?” Sephira looked at Keim’an with a puzzled expression.

“I’m not sure, maybe he did it to shut her up when the cats died, but more than likely it was just practice for him…or a diversion.”
Her partner frowned deeply. “Magic has a way of pulling you in, making you want to use it more and more…to push yourself beyond what is natural.”

Keim’an paused, looking away from her briefly. “Maybe he couldn’t take it anymore, lying low and never using his craft. Even if Necromancers are the worst sort of mages, it would be hard to ignore the pull of your spark.”

Sephira was stunned into silence at his words, dumbfounded that perhaps her fellow Element also felt a small glimmer of pity for the man they hunted.
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Sephira
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A Flame in the Dark

Postby Sephira » Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:37 pm

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They flew through the night cloaked back streets of Scalvoris Town; their feet pounding the road as they ran toward where they had first began their search. The docks came into view, set alight by the glow of moonlight and oil lanterns. Their perpetrator had at least a five minutes head start on them, so Sephira desperately hoped they had made the right call in coming here.

Keim’an called out, pointed out to the eastern side of the harbor. A single sailed sloop drifted near the breakwater with a distant figure trying to wrestle with the rigging. The boat wasn’t moving, having appeared to have drifted into a tangle of loose netting before running aground on one of the sand bars father out into the bay. Obviously this man was no sailor.

He was nearly thirty yards out but in the moonlight he appeared to be the same balding man from earlier.
Keim’an ran toward the water, reaching out toward its undulating surface with an outstretched hand; the liquid began reacting to his magic and started reaching toward him.

Sephira was reminded that her comrade was an accomplished Defiance mage and realized she would need to gain a means to get to that boat. Her portals could only reach so far at this point, and that sloop was well beyond her current range.

A memory flashed in her mind of her master Elias walking through the air on steps of indigo light; he had called it Skystepping. Sadly he had never been able to teach her how to properly accomplish the technique but she had a rough idea of how it might work. The Rupturer had used phasing before to create tiny portals that allowed her to spy on nearby locations. The principle was the same, Skystepping was the act of creating small portals just large enough to support a foot while using sheer force of will and a small amount of ether to charge the portal so that it became a solid uniform point in space. Calling it a portal was a poor choice of words, however it did depend on manipulating the fabric of space to become something that could bear her weight. It was the same method used in first igniting a portal into existence.

Keim’an jumped into the surf, but he was almost immediately plucked up by a large tendril of water he commanded and carried away at waist height toward the boat. It was an impressive feat.

Sephira knew she had to get to that boat, she couldn’t doubt her abilities. Rupturing was about trusting your skills to deliver you safely to your destination. If you didn’t have faith in yourself then you were a piss poor mage.

Her spark seemed to buzz with anticipation as she faltered at the edge of the docks, the salty spray whipping through her long tendrils of hair. A thin thread of anger boiled at her core, she had felt sorry for the old man before but now he was running from the authorities. If he had just turned himself in this may have gone over a little different, but now her short fuse was running out. Reaching out with her hand she began opening a Chasing portal that would get her as close to the boat as possible, she would need to bridge the gap with skystepping, otherwise she would be very wet and very cold in a few short trills. The ether swam to her as she began drawing it in. She felt her spark thrumming with emotion that reflected her own as she swept her hand down and the space right ahead of her tore open with a deafening boom. The ether flooded into the Chasing portal, creating a matching output portal about seventy feet out over the ocean, hovering several feet over the waves. Her portals normally made a little less noise but she was frustrated with being stymied by a little water and apparently her spark fed off that frustration. Crimson light wept into the air as the portal became fully formed. Without a second thought she began sprinting forward, her boots pounding against the salt dried wood of the dock. Sephira knew that the moment she passed through the portal she would need to be ready to create a skystep. Already the mage was keeping the flow of ether moving through her grasp, like thread running through a spinning wheel.

The well-lit docks disappeared in a flood of scarlet light, her stomach leaping to her throat as the ground disappeared under her when she passed through to be replaced by the roiling surface of the ocean. Falling farther than she expected, it was only sheer force of will fueled by panic that gave her the power to make her very first skystep. The tiny red washed portal appeared just beneath her right foot, arresting her fall just a foot over the water. She was drenched in mist and spray almost immediately. Sephira nearly toppled from her magical perch as she shook off the disorientation and realized that she had made it.

The mage was just behind her partner as he was only just approaching the boat trapped against the breakwater. The boat was roughly ten yards ahead of her. Reaching just ahead of her foot she fed ether into the next skystep before placing her free leg on it to balance herself. She could feel the slow drain of energy from her as she maintained the tiny platforms, she would need to move fast so she didn’t exhaust herself before they captured their suspect. Repeating the process again Sephira kept her hand squarely ahead of herself as she slowly jogged ahead; little crimson skysteps appearing just underfoot as she dismissed those she left behind. It was such a rush of freedom to walk through the air. When she was within ten feet of the poorly managed vessel the mage opened a Blink portal with a flick of her fingers. The portal erupted ahead of her so quickly that she basically fell through it and emerged through the other side to slide onto the deck of the sloop. A mild wave of exhaustion washed through her body as the mage arrived at her destination.

Keim’an was already there with his broadsword glinting darkly in his hand. The old man, Rodrick was cowering near the single mast with his hands up in defeat.
“You need to come with us sir” The Biqaj man said firmly. “Things may not go so badly for you if you just come with us back to the Hall. What you did was sick and wrong, but you only stole and destroyed property; the judge will look at your case and probably see it as your only crimes. Magic isn’t illegal here. You’re life isn’t over. ” Keim’an reasoned with a clear calm voice.

“What about my wife?” Rodrick moaned, his eyes rolling back in his head as he leaned heavily against the mast.
“She’ll be just fine.” Sephira said calmly, walking up behind her partner. Obviously they needed to keep the man calm so they could resolve this peacefully. The old man nodded meekly.

“How long have you been a necromancer?” The rupturer queried gently.

Rodrick peered at the two of them, only a flickering oil lantern illuminating the two Elements. “Since I was young like you miss…my uncle taught me. I’ve kept my head down for so long, but the pull was always there.”

Keim’an nodded in mute agreement, his theory had been proven right. Rodrick just couldn’t resist the draw of his spark after all that time. Sephira was herself beginning to feel that same influence, so she could relate rather easily to the old man.

“Let’s get this boat turned around Blackwood.” Keim’an said while he was binding the necromancer’s hands behind his back. Sephira didn’t know much about sailing but she was sure that having the Defiance mage on-board would make getting back to shore a bit easier. Once he had finished arresting Rodrick the Biqaj man made sweeping motions with his arms that turned the wind into their sail and began pushing the boat toward the shore.
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Sephira
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