Having been too distracted with his task regarding the drawer, at this point he had pulled it fully out just in case, the newcomer's presence was alerted to the ranger by way of Kasna. Her tensing and focus on the stairway down made Ruben believe it was a good idea to free his hands of the drawer. The man to the side and set the drawer on the stone table in a rush but as quietly as he could muster; a form rising up from a slunk posture. The dagger found itself slipped back into its loop, readied hands grasping the hilt of the sword at his side. To his relief the young man that revealed himself to he pair claimed himself an ally in their cause.
Still wary, Ruben shifted his left hand to his belted daggers though relaxed his sword hand as he stared at the boy. With the woman waving the man over Ruben stepped around the table for a better position to discourage any sudden attempt. Not that any kind of deceiver would take such an opportunity against the fully armored knight at this time. The ranger's suspicions were further lightened with the half whispered words of Kasna recognizing a mark. He of course attempted to spot the sigil but was unable to make any claim that he had a familiarity with it. Biting his lip Ruben relented. "Ruben Kuonrad," he offered the other man with a nod after a reply to Kasna was given.
Post by Rosen Stele on Apr 27, 2015 10:30:06 GMT -7
Jace moved closer as he was motioned forth. He shivered slightly from the chill on his bare arms, and remarked starkly "should have brought a coat." It was intended as a joke, but perhaps now was not the time? He nodded to the woman as she acknowledged the sigil of the Claymore. "I am the last Claymore, Jason Rosenstele. You can call me Jace, though." He said softly, sheathing one of his kukri and extending his hand in greeting to the knight. "Your order is known to me, too, ofcourse." he added, looking around.
He noticed the ranger a moment later, nodding to him as well. "I received a...well a quite decent amount of gold from an old couple who live on a small homestead about a couple miles from here. To look into this rumor of undeath." He stated, withdrawing the second Kukri again. "what do we know?" He asked finally. He followed the trail of dirt from the wooden table to the stairs leading up, peering up the flight for a moment. He twirled one of the Kukri around in his left hand as as thought. Those leaves. Don't they belong to those trees they used to plant in old graveyards...? He thought a moment, narrowing his eyes. The others probably already realized this, but maybe he should tell them. He wasn't a ranger or a tracker, but he distictly remembered leaves like these falling softly in the silence the day they buried Garland in that old Graveyard. It was an old graveyard, left over from the wars of old. Just what he would have wanted. Jace had zoned out, thinking.
"The last." Kasna said that word with a sense of solemnity, the young man's meaning settling uncomfortably upon her. She intoned whispered a prayer to the Laborer of Light before addressing Jace again. "I am... sorry, to hear of it. I knew the Claymores mostly by reputation. Their leader was a good man as I understand it. May they rest in the light's embrace."
His tale of elderly locals offering up large sums of coin made Kasna curious, but she kept her questions to herself for the moment. Greater matters were afoot here. "Not as much as I would like." She answered his question. "It seems we arrived shortly before you did. According to Ruben the place has been disturbed since his last visit, with some things notably missing and others rearranged. I'm still trying to form a premise for why."
She gestured towards the next set of stairs going up. "You noticed the chill as you came up, I'm sure. Something tells me it will only get worse the more we ascend the tower. And," The steely-eyed warmaiden's gaze travelled, settling on the way Jace had come. "And I have suspicions that someone was investigating something beneath the tower as well -- shovels and reinforced beams speak of digging, almost certainly."
"I would say we have two paths to investigate, but we lack the right equipment to descend below. Our only course for the moment is to go up, so we will have to face whatever is causing the unnatural cold." She began to take steps towards the rising staircase, her next words directed to both Ruben and Jace. "Steel yourselves."
The older ranger kept rather quiet while the two spoke, listening carefully to the them as they exchanged courtesies and information. With mention of the old couple one of his eyebrows raised and a twitch of a smile flickered across his face; but that was all. Ruben spent an abundance of time watching Jace spend a long time staring at the spotted trail heading upstairs. He appeared very contemplative, curious.
Mostly what carried up the stairway was bits of dirt and fragments of the leaves that had been swept off the table. They did have a rather unique character about them though, easily noticed to those who recognized the morbid green due to the freshness of the remains. With a longer period of time it could probably be guessed there were even some strands of root in the larger clumps of dirt.
When Kasna ushered the now trio onward Ruben gave a wave for Jace to proceed ahead of him, leaving the ranger to take up rear. "Should've kept my other cloak..." he mumbled to himself as the air did indeed become colder. A chill like that of the snowy mountains above but with air more stale met the group on the next floor. The adornments, while still battered, were far less beaten down than that of the previous.
On one side rested a long wooden table with all manner of crumbled and torn pages, some thrown together in a pile while others spilled onto the floor. Patches of dirt smeared across either without care or in a rush, leading the eye onto the smaller square table stained dark with fluids and earth and savaged by many sharp edges. Across the room were more broken boxes but arranged in stacks of wood, the end of one blackened. The center of the area had been recently swept, but not well enough to hide the charcoal stains and ashes caught in the crevices of the wooden floor.
Near where the adventurers entered the room was a set of cabinets much like the one that had been downstairs. One had its drawer removed but otherwise in its closed state looked fine enough. The other, the nearest one, was a bit worse for wear as one of its sides had been bashed in. Cupboard doors ajar allowed light to trickle in and reveal a few pieces of stoneware on a broken shelf. A couple chairs were in the room, but the more interesting of them was the one by a window near the next stairway up. It was piled with stones and had a rope tied to one of its legs, of which the other end went out the window. Any curious knowledge seeker making their way to the window to investigate would find the rope rather short, dangling a mere ten feet below. However, it was just long enough for someone to reach the ladder resting against the side of the tower. One could assume its placement was very recent.
The trail of dirt that had made its way up the stairs had a heavier fall by the page ridden table. There were other lighter piles by the chair burdened by rocks, but then a faint streak that went to the edge of the next stairway.
Last Edit: Apr 29, 2015 17:43:25 GMT -7 by The Maven
Post by Rosen Stele on Apr 30, 2015 7:26:00 GMT -7
Jason rubbed his arms and cursed. This cold was rediculous. He pushed the past out of his mind, ignoring what was said about the claymores as he always did.
He followed kasna up the stairs quietly rolling his shoulders to keep him nimble in the face of the stiffness of the cold. The room they found was more ordered than the previous, giving have jace the feeling that it was more recent. Looking out the window, he offered alloud "do you think this was some kind of escape? Or a way to get back in?"
He looked at the charred marks on the floor next. "Maybe our friend didn't make it cold in here. There are remains of a fire." He noted quizically, sitting cross legged on the swept stone, he examined the wood that was charred on the end.
'What happened here?' was the chief thought to cross Kasna's mind as she took in the condition third floor, doing her best to ignore the bitter mountaintop-like chill that greeted them. She had trained with her sister-knights in the cold of Yol, in narrow mountain-path recesses and beneath the mighty tree that marked the favor of Meluxent upon the land; Kasna was no doubt better adjusted to the sharp, dry sting that hung in the air than the two men, but even she still felt it. It would take more than just cold, even this cold, to shake her.
The room was a shambles, even more-so than those below, and its condition was telling. The ruined pages on the tables and floor, the signs of fire and violence...
And then she saw the chair laden with stone. The window and the rope. The knight's eyes went wide as realization struck like a lightning bolt, and she was over to the spot just as quick, joining Jace in looking down. Kasna cursed aloud when she saw the ladder that must surely have been waiting outside long before she'd arrived and felt herself a fool for not walking the full perimeter before venturing in.
"Stay. Here." She spoke to Jace and Ruben like she was issuing an order. Jace might have some doubts about whether the rope and ladder were meant for getting in or out but Kasna knew an escape route when she saw one. The room all but reeked of a hasty exit by someone who didn't want to be caught -- the traces of soot and ash were more likely to have come from someone burning evidence than trying to stay warm, the savaged papers proof enough for her that someone was at some point researching something here (though whether they had written or simply read the pages was uncertain), and the damage all around them suggested that it had not been entirely peaceful. It was a stretch, true, to think that whoever had fled here had done so in the time since she, or maybe Ruben, had approached the tower... but it wasn't a possibility she was ready to ignore.
Assuming a recent escape, the escapee would have had two places to go after descending the ladder: out into the woods, in which case they were now long gone indeed...
... or the lower recesses of the tower.
"I'll be back shortly," She explained as she broke into a sprint towards the downwards stairway. If she could catch whoever had been here she'd be that much closer to answers. "I need to check something."
Kasna didn't wait for the men to respond -- she was halfway down the stairs by the time she said 'need'. Her sword-grip was tight and her mind ready to confront, though whether anyone would actually be on the ground floor to confront was another matter.
The window by the chair housing a pyramid of rock was the obvious immediate point of interest for the ranger as well. The three raced to each stand staring out the window to the ladder beneath. "Possibly both," Ruben replied to Jace's posed question. The woman's curse drew his attention back up curious if there was something further they should know about. Instead he found her dashing back down the stairs with stern commands for the two men. He took a few steps back to the middle of the room in chase only to have her call back assurance that she would return.
Jace moving toward the pile of broken up wood would easily note the lack of ash or even pile of residue from the swept trail. There didn't appear to be any broom of any sort in the area, however a close inspection of the pile would bring to light a blackened edge to one of the planks. As for the more obviously charred piece it seemed damaged akin to what one would use to jostle the fuel for a fire. It would also make a good writing tool, though a little large for standard paper.
The ranger frowned, turning his head from the stairs Kasna disappeared down to the Claymore moving to sit in the charred smear along the floor. There was a momentary raising of an eyebrow as Ruben watched Jace inspect the burnt wood. "Don't mean the fire wasn't used for something else," he added to the outspoken thought. With the claymore dealing with one kind of blemish on the floor Ruben turned his attention to the trail of dirt. He followed it to the table with his eyes, curious of the text on the piled sheets but not knowledge he wanted to pursue at this moment, then moved along the ground passed the window to the fainter fall leading to the stairs up. There was a small grumble in his throat as he approached the stairway and peaked around its walled edge. There was no visible dirt or leaves going up.
Meanwhile the clatter of armor traveled down the tower with the female knight. It seemed to echo lightly around her; even from ahead of her with sharp metallic clanks. As she came upon the ground floor nothing immediate jumped out. Everything appeared to be as it was when she last left, though one door had crept back in, possibly due to its slant or Jace's arrival, and the dirt spread in a bit further than it had previously. Her horse had picked up its uncomfortable pawing and snorts.
Post by Rosen Stele on May 7, 2015 12:08:24 GMT -7
Jason shook his head as the knight ordered the men around. "Someone's got a bit of a complex." He observed bluntly as the sound of her armor trailed up the stairs behind her. He frowned as he rubbed his arms against the cold again. I need a new cloak he thought to himself. He picked up the charred plank and scraped it on the stone floor, drawing a little mockery of his own face, sticking it's tongue out. Curious, he started digging around the room for some marking made with the utensil; Under wood, on papers, under the dirt that was trailed around.
He wasn't sure what he was expecting to find, however. Magic circles? Wards? love letters? who knew, but something told him there was more to this room than a ransacked getaway.
as he approached the table, Jason saw that the marks on the papers had been made using this utensil. He shivered as the chill gripped him again. His muscles stiffened as he let the shiver pass. He continued searching regardless. "Look at these patterns. It looks like someone was attempting some witchly magic." He observed, lifting on of the mis-shapened runes for the ranger to see. "Ever seen anything like it before? I havent. Not specifically anyway."
Nothing. Nothing at all to suggest someone had been down here since Jace's arrival -- no movement of equipment, no tracks or footprints in the dirt, and her horse was still tied up outside. The scent from the grating was still as repugnant as ever, Kasna noted, as she scowled angrily at nothing in particular before begrudgingly turning to trod up the stairs and back into the cold.
"A waste of time, apparently." Kasna muttered, halfway to herself, as she returned to the third floor where Ruben and Jace awaited. It seemed that not much had happened in the minutes she'd been gone; Ruben was looking around at this and that while Jace was examining the papers scattered about. The knight sighed, clearly annoyed; their exploration of this tower was bringing more questions than answers.
"Find anything of interest?" Noting Jace's expression after a moment, she approached the table and looked at what he was investigating. Her own eyes narrowed somewhat at the charcoal patterns across page after page. "... What do we have here?"
Last Edit: May 15, 2015 11:47:05 GMT -7 by Nascent
The ranger's eyes scanned the page at a distance for a moment before he shook his head in response to Jace's question. Ruben moved to the table since the obvious trail had disappeared, the man frowning and adjusting his cloak around himself. The closer he got to the table the colder it became. He actually began shivering the chill was so strong. After a brief look at the rest of the pile of crumpled pages Ruben withdrew. Coincidentally just as Kasna returned so he made it appear as if he was giving her plenty of space to inspect the table herself should it please her.
Looking through the pages it seemed to be a series of notes. The symbols themselves looked progressive, as if the more simple and presumably earlier versions were incomplete. The writing, after careful inspection, was apparently a mix of languages in addition to just a messy hand. Some basic common words could be parsed that allowed a general picture to be drawn, though any half wit would realize it was coded. That or these really were camping instructions. The other language intermingled in the sentences was akin to that used by the aeliavim.
As the papers were shuffled the messy pile of parchment rolled off of a bulge. A roll of heavy cloth with frost formed in a line down one of the sides sat hidden under the pile. Touching it even through gloves was immediately like bare skin against a dry ice. The layer of cloth only seemed to be one or two folds at most.
Post by Rosen Stele on May 19, 2015 12:41:22 GMT -7
Jason's breath greeted him as he breathed in and out steadily. He had found something here. He shivered sharply as he reached into his pack and pulled out a cloth. With the cloth he gingerly pulled back the cloth covering to reveal the object that was covered.
He readied a weapon with his off hand, noticing the aeliavim characters on the parchment. He wished he could make sense of the coded message, but sadly that was not his strong suit. He could recognize characters in other languages as was needed by his craft, but the gift of language was never his. That was his sister's area of expertise. He pushed thoughts of her out of his head, and focussed on what was uncovered.
He recoiled his hand immediately as the cold numbed his fingers. "Its cold." He announced, as if it needed saying. Gingerly he unwrapped the object and revealed it to be a crystalline gem with swirling darkness inside. "What form of devilry is this? Is it some kind of quint? It's like something is trying to escape." He observed, flexing his numbed fingers.
It didn't take long for Kasna to pick out the first signs of the Infernal Tongue among the pages -- the Aeliavim were known embracers of witchcraft and the powers it could offer, so the Order studied them as an assumed enemy. Even so, she could make precious little of the jumbled texts, page after page revealing little more than words scrambled or seemingly placed at random... and yet, for all its chaos, these sheets did not resemble the workings of a mind that was first and foremost mad. A puzzle, then... a clever "lock" of words to keep secret some potentially dangerous truth. She made a note of this and began collecting the pages into an ordered pile, regardless of their contents or condition. The keepers of the Silver Flame's librarium might be able to make something of them.
And then a concealed object rolled out from the stack, catching everyone's attention at once. Immediately, the strange sense of things she had felt since their arrival heightened and Kasna felt a tickle of something unknown and unsettling race up her spine. As Jace reached for it Kasna tensed, her hand moving to where she had propped her blade against the table and gripping it tightly, eyes glued to the bundle. Whatever happened next would be telling.
Jace remarked at the item's chill the moment he touched it, and seeing it unwrapped made Kasna's eyes widen. Coded documents were one thing... this, though, was altogether another. Whatever was bound inside spun and swirled with unknown powers and properties, but there could be no doubting that it was very much active. Maybe this, then, was the source of the unnatural cold? The knightly Adhara took a step towards it as the Claymore speculated on its nature.
"I have never encountered it's like... if it is a Quint, it's nature is altogether foreign to me." She scanned it with her eyes, a hundred possibilities flitting through her mind. Some new witchcraft? Aeliavim devilry? What lay before them couldn't be natural, she assumed.
"... If it is a Quint, or something akin to one, there is one way to know for certain." She met Jace's gaze. "As an Adhara, I can cause a Quint to slumber with a touch." And with that she reached out, lightly pressing two fingers to the frosty item, and concentrated her will upon a single well-practiced thought.
Last Edit: May 24, 2015 15:20:31 GMT -7 by Nascent
In the moment Kasna's fingers touched the container quint a muffled scuffling seemed to come from the stairway down, accompanied by a tirade of curses. But this was but a flea to the event that happened a second later. With the quintessence's power nullified that which was angrily swirling about within its barrier erupted into the room. A sudden wash of cold swept over the room, erupting with a harsh force from the container in all directions. It was almost like being smacked with an ethereal block of ice.
The blackened mist now swirled rapidly through the room around the adventurers. A loud crash trailed by clatters of breaking dishes occurred in the background while the dark chilling cloud brought itself together into a more cohesive form. As the fog collected the temperature rose, and soon a large misshapen head was discernible in the shifty mass. The ethereal beings eyes bore down on those in the room.
Even without sound or clear visual features the creature's ire was well felt. Its head snapped attention between the three: Ruben partially under one of the cabinets, and the two that were nearest the cage that had been holding it for some time. An abnormally proportioned hand formed in the mist, lanky claws spread, and the creature lashed outward at Jace and Kasna. The arm barely remained formed, the hand itself almost seeming to disperse before it found its way to its mark.
Post by Rosen Stele on May 27, 2015 8:24:16 GMT -7
Jason tensed as Kasna reached for the object. He would trust and Adhara to touch it before himself, as his knowledge of the magical world was sparce beyond how to kill things. Jace Leapt back when the darkness erupted from the quint. There was something trapped inside, but the young Claymore did not have time to revel in his accuracy. The smoke formed a giant face, the likes of which Jace had never seen, and though he wouldn't ever tell a soul - that terrified him. He spun his cold-iron Kukri around in his hand, preparing for combat.
His initial jump backwards had now placed him closer to the creature that had formed in larger space behind them. It reached out as if to strike them down, and he raised his kukri in defense, but the smoke seemed to drift past them. "What's the matter," He goaded the creature foolishly, "Can't get it up?" Immediate danger passed, he took a small step back and eased his posture, though his weapons were still barred. "Who - or What - the hell are you?"
'What foul heresy is this?!' Kasna thought in shock as the power sealed within the vessel was released, a whirlwind of dire cold filling the room as it coalesced and took on form. It was no Quint... or, perhaps, that which had been holding it in was, but then what was the nature of this apparition that appeared before them now? The Adhara belatedly realized that she had miscalculated, and in so doing set free this... thing.
It swiped at them, but the hand lost its form before it could reach them -- nonetheless she leapt to one side, putting distance between herself and the abomination as she unfurled her chain flail and readied for combat. Her eyes watched the ephemeral cloud of unnatural haze, keen to any hint of movement. She had been reckless and careless, and this was the result, but she would soon test whether steel could wound such a thing.