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Ghost Land

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quirk's picture
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Grug at first was cheered by the prospect of fellow humanoids on the island. Hey, it meant they got here somewhere, right? They'd possibly know a way off. But that cheerful thought seemed to have vanished under the agressive tones and movements underneath both the familiar and odd languages they were speaking.

"Tsaesci, eh? Never seen one of them before." Grug's face seemed to lose all emotion, a natural reaction he had when nervous. "Think they'll be friendly?" He leaned over to Armas, whispering, "if not, think we'll have a chance to slow 'em down and run for it?"

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 <No use.> Maglor replied in Aldmeris. <See the way they divide their attention? There are more than these two. We have to try very hard not to fight.> All the same, he shook his head and began to gather his power again, focusing it deep within instead of at his palms and fingers. 

 

He could tell that in a fight they would not be able to win, magic or not. He had begun to hear other noises in the woods and realized that there were more. How many he could not tell, and he also had no idea if these people were alone or if there was a whole tribe of them. He hoped it would not come to it, but if die he must, he planned to go out with a bang.

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Amrit and Lochan looked at each other for a moment. The stranger did not seem to understand them, which they could understand, given the circumstances. He had to come along, though, Aelfe had given the command.

Lochan pointed once more with his spear towards the group. <You should join them> he spoke in the most calm voice he could master.

YH
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The warrior bared his whetted teeth in response to the female's approach, <As befits the dearth between us.> His attention remained locked on the Altmer, though he continued to refer to Aelfe, <This one would delay an opportunity to inquest your perceptive skills; the servile one carries a forked tongue, shed war-skins and exercise prohibition of titles.> Sticking the tooth-end of his weapon into the sand, the Tsaesci gripped and leaned lazily on the pole and stoically observed the group whisper and cower amongst themselves, paying heed to the exchange between the elves. His eyes shifted between each survivor before making an aside glance to his nest-mate, <This one marks sign of a hexad.> Szuradj then smirked at Armas, adding, <And one bird.>

 

 

Armas froze under the watchful stare of the snake-man, tugging his cowl down and subtly acknowledging Grug's suggestion and whispering in reply from the corner of his mouth, "Burn 'n turn."

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Molag'Sil nodded in response to the Bosmer's warning, and continued to back away from the serpent folk. Uncertain of how to proceed in this alien land where all his knowledge of Akaviri customs and practices apparently counted for naught, he lowered his hands slowly. <This one may explain his intentions. Acknowledge this one's mighty strength.>

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"Aye," Grug said, stepping forward slightly. His face was one of determination, as he leaned a little backwards, seeming to take a long intake of breath, before letting it exhale. Oddly, a faint magical pulse seemed to come from his presence.

"So, everybody," Grug said, not whispering, but speaking out loud to both his fellow shipwrecks and the mysterious inhabitants they now found themselves with, "is this gonna be friendly? Or do we have a problem?" Grug hoped for the first, but didn't expect much.

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Aelfe ignored Szuradj's first comment and locked eyes with him as he turned his attention more towards her. <The sixth one is a small distance from here. This one has been aware of his presence all this time. Amrit and Lochan went to get him> The corner of her mouth raised almost mockingly.

Then, as the Altmer moved further and further away from them, and the others became more tense, Aelfe looked at them. This had taken long enough. Szuradj had achieved his goal: creating fear, and now Aelfe would intervene.

She took a step closer, placing herself right next to Szuradj. Her eyes wandered to the bird and she smiled. She had seen her kin take pets, but she did not know these people did so too.

After a moment of silence, she turned to the Orc, whom had been the last to speak. Fluently, but with a slight accent because of her Tsaesci tongue, she answered. "Friendly, I hope, if you are willing to set aside your fears."

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<OHsunivabitchshetalked> Maglor chirped in Aldmeris, and the shock of it made him lurch forward and make a noise halfway between a cough and a belch, where a small jet of purple fire spilled down his chin, singeing his robes. His focus was completely lost, and all his power drained away again like water from a sieve.

 

"Hey please say friendly, sir." He said to the Orc. "My vote definitely goes to friendly. Friendly is good. Totally non-violent and peaceful would certainly be my preference."

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Grug shrugged. "Not exactly a group vote, but I'll go with that." He stepped back, and the magical aura which had been previously emanating vanished.

"So, mind telling us where we are?" Grug asked, looking back towards the ocean. "If you noticed, we're a bit lost, at the moment." He looked back, with what was meant to be a friendly smile. "Boats, of course, would be nice as well."

YH
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Szuradj rolled his eyes and sneered, <The chasm widens between your colors, and this one is palled.> He flashed his teeth again, hissing into Aelfe's ear, <But the yellow one prays for deliverance at the altar of this one's valor.>

 

 

Armas darkened three shades of red under the attention of the serpent folk, and Domingo mimicked him by turning away and raising a wing over its beak.

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The Redguard leaped, taut tendons holding his axe at the ready for the slightest chance of movement. Strike first! Strike first! You always strike first! The jungle swirled and encapulated him until the world was nothing but the blackness of space and the ferns by his feet, and the only people inhabiting this plane of existence were him and his percieved enemies. Sweet silence filled his mind as the Snake-man spoke. A hissing snake was either one that was frightened or one that was readying to strike, and usually both. Fight! instinct told him. But reason was starting to call to him, taking into account their weapons, their multitude, the worldly repurcussions. Piece by piece the world faded back into place, and he found himself standing across from what looked like two men but for cues. The initial threat he felt subsided, and confident in his ability to defend himself, he let them have their piece.

"What do you want?"

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"Your pardon, Lady, but I would feel more comfortable setting aside my fears if your...companion expressed your own willingness to make this confrontation friendly." Molag'Sil frowned at the dense growth behind the two Akavir. "How many more of your kind are waiting in the shadows, might I ask? And what would you have of us, now that your mighty hunter here," he bowed his head slightly toward Szuradj, "has succeeded in intimidating my comrades."

YH
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<Single amongst them is the audacious,> the Tsaesci relented a brief bow of the head in the Orc's direction, then coiled himself upon the warming sand; even seated, he stood taller than the Bosmer. His curiosity as much as his scales bristled at Aelfe.

 

 

Armas was also wondering what was going to happen, and now that the big one had taken a seat he was secure enough to realize he still stood at the fore of the group. He stepped aside to let Grug and the strange woman continue.

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Amrit and Lochan both took a step back when the stranger moved towards them. How were they supposed to act friendly if he was not? Lochan hissed softly and wished he could simply force the Tam to come along. Amrit remained calm, though, so he did not act. Ignoring Aelfe's command would cost them later anyway.

Realising this might not go well if they did not answer the man's question, Amrit bowed his head once more. "This way, <please>, to where the others are."


"There are only a few of us there, and they will not harm you. You have nothing to fear," Aelfe answered the Altmer. "And it may be more <wise> to ask what you wish us to do. You are here with no water or shelter and the land is new to you, along with its people."

While she spoke, she kept smiling, while her eyes never blinked. She turned to the Orc, "I am afraid you would not be able to pronounce the name of the island, so call it whatever you like. Forgive me to disappoint you once more, but we do not have boats."

Her eyes wandered over the group, "Aelfe is this one's name, no need for a title." <I am not worth such honor>

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The Redguard twirled the wood between his fingers. Featherlight, named for a reason. In his head he admitted he was surprised the thing spoke Tamrielic, but that didn't mean he would let his guard down. He'd have loved to add the freak to his trophies, but there was no money in this. No point, not yet.

In an instant the axe was hovering above the snake-creature's nose. He didn't know how he got there so fast or why. He never really did. "Watch yourself." he grumbled, and walked casually out through the foliage.

YH
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Szuradj allowed himself to be amused by Aelfe's last comment; her title was Warrior, and distant as the horizon, it was the only title that mattered. He said none of this, however, his thoughts were not the privilege of the unscaled.

Twisting his head in the direction of his emerging comrades and the Sixth, the serpent did not approve: Lochan was troubled, and the new one moved with the practiced grace of deception.

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 Maglor looked at the newcomers. He thought that perhaps his fear had made him believe there were more, but he was still unsure, both of their numbers and now whether or not he need fear at all, at least any of them but the warrior who had come along with the female at the start. But that was a comfortable sort of fear of something he could identify and knew how to react to. A fear his own people could inspire at need.

 

Realizing who the voice of this delegation, as he had already begun to identify them in his head, he turned and respectfully inclined his head to the female, Aelfe. 

 

"Aelfe, we are most sorry to burden you, but we are, as you have heard, lost and without much food or water." He spoke as he tried desperately to remember the words from his own land and hoped that it would have a like effect here, "may I promise you help-for-help, for my part?" 

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"Hell, we could always just live on an island together. That'd be nice, wouldn't it? Like a permanent vacation." His grin reappeared at this sentence, though the carefree embrace of such an idea was due to a lack of connections aside from Armas anyway. Most his family and friends he had in the past were either dead or were the reasons he was a traveling performer now-not that he didn't like the job, but there were some things that would have been greater to be. Like part of the most feared mercenary band in Hammerfell. But of course, his father was, for some reason, disgraced by Grug's infernal abilities, and so banished him.

He didn't mind that so much, but the fact of the matter was, if Mingo and Armas were around, Grug was pretty much content with where he would be.

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 "I fear that some of us have urgent work that must be done back on the mainland. I cannot stay here."

Molag'Sil spoke to the Akavir. "No boats? Very well. Do you know where we are, at least? It's name is unprouncable in our language, you say. Very well, speak it in yours and I will do my best to translate it to my companions." The elf frowned. "Do you know where we come from? Surely you are familiar with the continent of Tamriel. But how did you learn its common tongue?"

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a grizzled Redguard emerge from the dense jungle, followed by a small escort of Tsaesci. Molag'Sil jerked his head toward the approaching group, maintaining eye contact with the one who called herself Aelfe. "Is he one of yours?"

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Aelfe locked eyes with the Altmer for several seconds, before she turned to Maglor. "I will hold you to your promise and gladly offer you my help. My suggestion is to leave this beach and go to our village, where there is food and shelter. If you wish, we will let you be, so you can make a decision together."

She then looked over her shoulder to the approaching group. Szuradj's change of expression had alarmed her and now she saw why he had reacted that way. Her warriors were tense, this was not good.

"If you mean the Redguard, then he is not," she said, returning her attention to Molag'Sil. Bowing her head slightly, she added, "You have my offer."

Taking a few steps back, she waited, <Will you join this one, Brother?>

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 Maglor turned to the others. Some were simply shifting about, some seemed quite intent on the natives.

 

"Well, you heard her." he said, after a moment. "I personally would like there to be peace. If they have food and water then I would say we should ask their hospitality in their village, at least for the moment until we get out bearings."

 

He was much calmer now that Aelfe had accepted his future debt. If they were anything like his own tribe, then she at least would rather he survived until his debt was paid. He was also eager to see the village itself. 

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"Is it really so much to ask that I be left alone?" The Redguard lifted his arms out like a flagman, a piece of steel and a hunk of wood his rags. "I had been trying to carve a new crossbow." He hucked the wood onto the sand. It made a soft paff like a rainstick fallen on it's side. The grains now embedded on it's surface glinted at him in the bright afternoon sun, consuming more than half of his unfinished masterpiece with their grubby molecular fingers.

He locked eyes with the Orc, for a moment, twisted his mouth a pinch at the marks across his face, and resumed adressing the crowd, axe like a conductor's bâton. "If you all feel comfortable with the idea I might as well be too; perhaps we should move along."

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"Food and shelter? Sounds great," Grug stated, his face contorting into one of both relief and delight at the thought of having somewhere to stay on the island.

"Armas, guess we didn't have to get those fruit as it is," he said, laughing. "I think I'd still like one though, they look pretty good." He walked over to their spot, and simply waited. He'd grab one as they left, but he'd like to pay close attention while there was anyone around.

YH
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Szuradj was slithering up the pole of his weapon, rising to his feet even before Aelfe requested his presence. He made a motion of attending to the matter of the Sixth on his own, his actions were not assent to his nest-mate's favor.

 

 

Armas nodded to his friend, gnawing on his lip as he watched the snakemen and the Redguard. He didn't like the new sort of tension that hung heavier than the humid air over them, dashing the slim hope provided by promises of protection. Moving to remain near Grug, feeling a comfort in his presence, the young man watched the bird dance up and down his forearm and bob its head excitedly; "Co-Co!" the Orc was not the only one that was hungry.

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 "Well, if we're decided, we might as well go." Molag'Sil took a last look at the broken wreckage strewn across the beach. There was no sign of any of his possessions. Sighing, he turned back. "Lead on...Aelfe." <Would thank this one to provide place-name and manner by which this one learned our tongue.>

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<This one will answer your questions, but not here and not now. You are on our land, accept this one's offer and be patient> Aelfe answered the Altmer and continued, "We will take you into the jungle, to our city. Stay close, the trees hide many things."

 

With that she started walking towards the treeline, now and then looking back to see if they were following.

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 Maglor followed. 

 

The trees were different than those of Valenwood and Cyrodiil, but he took Aelfe's warning as seriously as he did the ones he had recieved in his homes. There were things in all woods, he knew, some worse than others. Even though it was alien to him, he knew the woods for woods and respected the power there. His teachers in the Guild would likely have tried to tie it to words that were not made for it if they could even percieve it. Things like "myth echo" and "residual creatia."

 

He let it wash over his mind as he walked and felt at peace.

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The Redguard slung his axe on a ring of fabric which at one point might have housed a belt. It might have seemed inconceivable to all present on the run through the jungle but if the storm hadn't caught him in his pyjamas he'd be dressed in a fashionable fur cloak and tanned deerskin pants. Even his black-cuffed boots were lost and soggy at the bottom of the sea. Not that it bothered him much. They were indeed nice clothes, but he knew the tailor and wasn't stupid enough to bring his earnings aboard a ship destined for the Padomaeic Ocean.

Determined of foot as he was the roots they stepped over were mossy and he lost his footing too often to be comfortable. He casually wondered what the inhabitants wanted, and more than a couple times he had to remind himself to keep his grip on the hilt at his side.

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 They had been walking for hours when the small band came across the Tsaesci village. Molag'Sil was flagging fast by then. Thrice damned jungles with their thrice damned imaginary trails. He was flooded with relief when he caught sight of strange architecture through the thick vegetation. That was when he spoke up.

"How long have your people lived here, Aelfe?" The structures facing the party ranged from small wooden huts with curious peaked roofs to proud stone temples bordered with steep steps and engraved with strange iconography. One thing was certain: this was not a recent settlement.

YH
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Szuradj pointedly took the lead from Aelfe as they came upon the threshold, never lowering his eyes to her while brushing his knurled hide against her glabrous flesh in his passing, <She neglects her scales.>

 

 

Armas had a sinking suspicion where they were going. He wondered still if he should announce his discovery, but was unsure how their hosts would react. Finding himself between Aelfe and Grug, he kept pace and kept quiet, admiring the gnarly banyans with their great octopodian roots and branches that drooped under massive beards of moss. The constant humidity, almost like breath on his skin, made it all feel tighter than it was, and from the corners of both eyes he spied darting shapes and colors that were unfamiliar to him, but every time he turned to look, they were gone. The entire forest hummed with an arrhythmic pulse, and even the ground felt soft and moist and warm under his bare feet, as though it too was alive.