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Ghost Land

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Laria's picture
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Aelfe let Szuradj take lead without a word. She did not neglect her scales, she was well aware of her position, and his remark stung. She was wise enough not to show it, though, and she let herself fall behind a few seconds to create distance between them. Here more than on the beach, scales mattered.

She turned her head slightly towards the Altmer, smiling. This was a question that needed not many words, so she could answer. "For several hundreds. This one does not know how much exactly, but a long time."

As she answered, she continued following her Brother. She did not know for certain where he would take them, but she had an idea.

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 Molag'Sil nodded. It was as he expected. It was, perhaps, suprising that such a civilization had gone unnoticed by the Tamrielic mainland for so long, but many things lay hidden in the mists of the Padomaic Ocean, where rumors spoke of stranger creatures than the Tsaesci making their home.

He was exhausted after their lengthy trek, but he had strength enough yet to speak. <Where does this one take?> he hissed to the one called Szuradj. <By this one's mighty will, require rest, water, food.>

YH
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<This one does not bear the labor-skin.> Szuradj aimed his focus over his shoulder, the hiss riding the humid breeze to Aelfe, absolving himself of their need, <Tend your hatchlings.>

Armas craned his neck to peer over the snakeman's other shoulder at the peak overlooking the village, and the structure perched there upon. The Tsaesci noted this and smirked, <The monkey shall discover the promontory operose to ascend.> At the attention, the young man lowered his head, but never his eyes, merely trying to hide his gaze under his brow. Szuradj's facade waxed noble, before he turned and continued along the central path toward the temple mount.

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Aelfe hissed softly, making it known she did not approve the way Szuradj spoke to her. She was labor-skin, yes, but she was a warrior, and her skills mattered more than her origin. Still, she did not refuse, knowing the Altmer had the right to ask.

"Continue following my Brother, he will lead you to our--" Her yellow eyes locked with the Altmer for a second, --<Elder>. "I will find you food and water, the stairs are long". Then she moved her gaze to the man with the bird, "It is our temple. <Sacred and old>.

She bowed her head and left, disappearing between the houses. There were no people outside, but behind windows and doors, eyes were watching them closely.

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The Redguard smiled pleasantly, understanding nothing through the accents. He did make out that he was to follow the weird one with the flecks on his skin. Not that the rest of them weren't strange beyond mention, but the way that one held himself gave him an impression that he was the special one.

He blew his nose and waited to be cattled. He supposed the company might as well be cows anyway, the way they just gave up. At least one of them was a mage, and these folk certainly wouldn't have heard of magic if a Psijic smacked them over the head with a copy of Arcana Restored. He wished he could go back to the beach and pick up his work-in-progress but it was unlikely they'd simply let him leave anytime soon, and he really didn't want to get into a fight if there was no money.

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 Molag'Sil trudged after Szuradj. He wondered what functions the elder of this strange people would serve. He vaguely hoped that whoever it was served as a lorekeeper as well as a hierarch. He had many questions.

He checked himself. Fool, you will be asking no questions. He was no longer in Tamriel, he reminded himself. Whatever protection his station afforded him there did not extend to the misty islands of the Padomaic Ocean. You will proceed with caution, and treat this elder as though he is a god.

The elf resumed his pace as the party made its way to the base of the temple.

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 Maglor had only extensively stayed in one city, and that was the Imperial City. Everything between Valenwood and the University was a blur of uncomfortable riding-animals and dirty inns. His own family was often described by professors in an impersonal way, using words often along the line of "pre-civilized nomadic hunter-gatherers." 

His family did, however, have a sort of structure. Each carried a small part of the house with him or her and they put it together at nightfall, then would pick up the pieces and move on in the day. The village, to him, looked like what would happen if many of the patchhouses lost their patches, becoming one whole, and were arranged together. People aranged together too tightly for comfort was more-or-less Maglor's only definition of a city. 

The temple, however, looked to be even more permanent, much more like the buildings in the city-cities. The sort of place meant to outlast the people living in it in the now. In the Empire, many of those kinds of houses were where men would cheat each other or monks would try to trap their gods, a process he had never understood and was often made fun of for not understanding, despite ten years in the City. 

YH
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Tsuradj made no attempt to disguise his irritation until his gaze lit upon the molten form approaching from the temple mount.

<Sheath your enmity, nest-mate.> It spoke to the warrior, raising itself on a delicate coil to tower over even him. Its every movement was grace, every scale glittering like the calm water at sunset. "Honored guest, this one greets you," it spoke to Molag'Sil, before sharing its golden gaze with the other survivors. "I am Azzi-Saehak, Voice of Khel-Zyru." It did not bow, but inclined its head in a recognition to them all.

Upon its coil it settled, then, hands at rest on liquid metal skin. "Tell me your story."

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Maglor was in awe. The serpent-man looked to his eyes like molten gold made flesh, beautiful as a lethal predator at rest is beautiful, and his stance, if stance it could be called for the serpentine body, screamed authority. He stepped forward and bowed.

"We are as you see us." Maglor said. "Survivors of a disaster who hope to recover, from Tamriel. I have offered a service to one of those who found us, Aelfe, and am bound to that for my part."

He kept himself bent at the waist, not knowing what traditions these people had, and hoping he had not accidentally violated some sacred law for speaking with social betters.

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Molag'Sil bowed his head. "Hail, mighty Azzi-Saehak. My name is Molag'Sil, a travelling...scholar. We were aboard a transport ship bound for the north of Tamriel when a storm caught us and broke our vessel against your land." The Altmer wondered whether the Tsaesci would be able to comprehend. For all he knew, the serpent-folk of this island may know nothing of sea travel. He raised his head again.

"Our land lies across the ocean, to the west. We place ourselves in your hands."

A part of his mind was screaming at him to ask the many questions he had prepared. How do you know our tongue, where are we, where do you come from, what gods do you serve, how did you come to be, who are you, what do you intend to do with us, why did you speak to me as you did, what do you know? But he held his tongue. He dared not presume on the tolerance of these alien people.

YH
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Tsuradj acknowledged Azzi-Saehak, but continued on his path to the temple. <This one's burden is shed of scale-spurs.>

Azzi remained serene, however, speaking to the newcomers and regarding Molag'Sil with unblinking stillness. "Tsuradj is our greatest warrior, but he is no diplomat." A pensive moment, then, <Curiosity erodes focus.> "Ask your questions."

 

 

Armas stared in the same slack-jawed wonder as the others at the sight of the creature. He could not look away, but was also incredibly uncomfortable in his awareness of both his own rudeness and mild terror. Domingo seemed not to care in the least, and while perched on tanned shoulder, tugged at Armas' hair like a needy child; the bird was completely ignored.

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"Would it be too much to ask a leave?" The Reguard shuffled his feet along the ground. The city seemed to be worth an exploration but the place felt contrived and unnatural. He just wanted to turn back away from the golden door and take the safe route out. Of course the strangers wouldn't allow that then, and they probably wouldn't allow it now.

He bit his lip.Worth a shot.

YH
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The serpent's gaze glided gracefully to the Redguard. "Do as you wish, but do no harm. You are not prisoners, but you are unfamiliar with our homeland."

 

  

For the first time since meeting the Tsaesci, Armas was able to pry his attention away and for a moment ponder the intentions of the Redguard. He made the snakes nervous, and that made him even more nervous than usual.

He was then acutely aware of the stinging sensation of a parrot pulling his hair, and moved the bird to a perch on his hand. "Do I smell like coconut to you?" The bird replied with the expected exultation of co-co. Making an exaggerated sniff at the bird, the young man noticed the aroma of the fruit on his skin. He chuckled and stroked Mingo's crest, "Nevermind."

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His curly hair was taken aback. That was surprisingly easier than he had expected. "Well, uh. I guess I'll be going then," and then, recovering his guile, "See you all in a bit." With that, and a wink in Armas' direction, he turned and headed back for the beach. His half-finished crossbow was further still losing it's saturation in the hot sand and sun.

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Molag'Sil stared at the serpent in awe. It knows my thoughts. This is unprecedented. What mysticism is this?

He roused himself from his stupor. "Great one, I beg your pardon. I have many questions that I would ask of you. What do your people know of Tamriel? Where did you come from? Can you help us return? Do you know of the Aedra and Daedra? What stories can you tell us?" He bowed his head again. "I beg forgiveness for my presumption, but it has always been my business to question." When he looked up, there was a gleam of desperation in his eye. <Would ask this one of quest of great import later.>

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"There." The shrapnel of his handiwork littered the green like shards of glass, glowing in the sunlight. A strip of cloth in place of sinew would have to work. No bolts, for now, but those could be fashioned easily.

A calm breeze touched his lips, the smell of the sea floated on grains of salt to the holes in his visage. Light was beginning to fade on the shoreline, the palm trees casting ever longer shadows as the sun creeped towards the earth beyond. For a second, he thought he perceived something awkward. Vulgar, a brown obscenity that affronted his scents. It was gone, but with the next breath it came back stronger. Death.

He looked out onto the beach. "Tava..." Corpses. Hundreds of corpses and a murky sea of black, clotted blood. Bits of wood, barrels, chests of clothes, a mast sticking up out of the sand waving it's tattered flags in desperate surrender to conquerors who had already left. Portions of ships that stayed afloat long enough to be carried near the shore stuck up thoughtlessly, their hulls splintered and worn.

Though his every instict told him — as he looked upon the wreck, to turn his back and walk away from death and the foul stench it breathed, his curiosity took him better. What ships were these, what men lie dead? Are they soldiers or civils?

... Is there treasure?