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EarthDawn: A Brave New World - Act 1, Scene 1: The Great Escape


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They were handed over from the officers to secretaries and ushered into the Magistrate's office. Gamrin, still wide-eyed from his flight with his father. Catslayer, still out from his encounter with Gamrin's father, was brought out of a very bad dream by several drops of water to the face. Misthal, having been well versed in proper windling wing-etiquette during the trip, and Arcata who was still worried sick about Cob.

The Magistrate's office was at the top of the Great Hall, the very center of the kaer, and the phrase 'opulent' didn't even come close to describing it visually, and astrally it was near blinding to the windlings. The walls were made out of solid cedar, and though they had long ago lost their scent, the centuries in the kaer had only increased their deep, rich colors and beauty. Built into the walls were shelves that were lined with gilt covered, leather bound books of all different sizes, shapes and colors. There were also various different statues and busts made out of gold, silver, marble, ruby, sapphire and emerald. The walls, next to the ceiling were lined with beautiful portraits of all the Magistrates from the founding of the kaer to the present, and there was also a large map of the kaer, the entryway and the town outside directly across the room from the Magistrate's seat, just beside the door. In the corner opposite the map stood the Theran clock; a sphere of true earth suspended above a bowl of true water. The large, solid oak desk that the Magistrate sat behind was inlaid with gold and mother of pearl that set off the relief carvings and runes that decorated the surface so gorgeously. The chairs that Misthal and Gamrin sat in were also solid oak, with plush red leather, lined with gold thread. These seats were better padded than their beds. Even the carpet was opulent. A short fiber deep, almost blood red. The windlings could tell that it had been enchanted, but everybody could tell that the years hadn't appeared to harm the color of the carpet. No amount of magic could cover the fact that there were definite wear paths, as hidden as they were.

It wasn't the wood, statues, furniture or even the floor that made the room so bright astrally and so warm to everybody. That came from the magic. This was the epicenter of the magic of the kaer, the naming ritual. There were thin bands of orichalcum inlaid into the very walls that coursed with so much power that it was almost an audible thrum, thrum reminiscent of a heartbeat.

The Magistrate, an aging human male with a salt and pepper crown of hair around his head. He was clean shaven, with lean high cheeks and piercing green eyes. He wore rich, deep blue robes with lots of silver embroidery work and silver chains. His lithe form was almost swallowed up by the huge plush chair that he sat in, but posture made no doubt that he wasn't going to get swallowed up any time soon. His voice was calm and measured as he spoke.

"I had hoped that it wouldn't come to this to bring you four in, but the difficulty of that task only shows how right I was in my choice. Gamrin, Misthal, Arcata and the Catslayer, Kaer Nilak has need of your help."

Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves and look about the room. Everybody is here, conscious, and at full health. Misthal and Gamrin are sitting in nice seats and Catslayer and Arcata are on bird-posts that have been modified with windling sized seats and that put them around the same height as everyone else when seated.

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Arcata jumped to her feet, apoplectic with fury that she'd been restraining until now. She pointed a dimunitive finger at Misthal.

"Your Honor, before we go any further you should know that you are in the presence of a CRIMINAL! This creature, who may be an elf...but may be something even MORE sinister...has hurled a bucket of DEADLY ACID on a friend of mine, a devout son of the Kaer named Cobble, and destroyed his wings! The Passions demand justice!"

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Rising too quickly, and still dazed from his dream, the Catslayer spilled from his perch and came tumbling down towards the carpet. In mid-plummet he spun, righting himself and arcing up to land on the edge of the magistrate's desk. He stared at the stately old human, and then in turn at Gamrin, his eyes sharp and accusatory. Do I still dream? The Catslayer reached for his blade. The hilt felt reassuring. It felt real. This is no dream.

Arcata's angry voice cut through the lingering fog of the Catslayer's magically induced sleep. He filled his little lungs with air, flexed his toes inside his boots. He was alert. He was ready.

"There is more than one caitiff in this crowd, Magistrate. Feast your eyes on his ignominy, should you care for such a bitter meal, for here, in your very chambers, hallowed though they be, THAT," The Catslayer pointed indignantly at Gamrin, "that reptile sits among us, defiling this fine place with every breath he takes." Ever the showman, the Catslayer whirled toward the Magistrate, his dueling scarf flaring out behind him. "For it was he who skulked away from the Hammer with the First Wizard where my good friend Gothrick was slain most cruelly, most foully. It was he who mocked me with his snake-forked tongue while Gothrick breathed his last and bled away upon the floor. I have no doubts, your honor, that the First Wizard and his lackey, this vile and wicked coward, are responsible. Aye! For witnesses spoke of a mad wizard and his outrage, the price of which fell upon poor Gothrick, who was as fine and kind a fellow as could be and wholly undeserving of his death. Aye, 'tis him, I would recognize his scaly countenance in a room full of T'skrang. My heart sings with the hope that you have brought this animal here to be put down and exterminated. You need only ask it of me, your honor," the Catslayer offered generously, "and I will gladly undertake the task, here and now, if you prefer. Or elsewise I can drag him out by the ear and dispose of him in a place more fitting...such as a mud hole...so that his stinking juices not sully this elegant room when they are spilled and splashed all over. Say only 'aye' if you so wish it...I can just as easily deal with this other murderer as well." The Catslayer tilted his chin haughtily at Misthal. "Command me that it may be done, Magistrate!" The Catslayer wiggled his fingers eagerly.

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Frowning at the two winglings, Gamrin gritted his teeth for a moment. He could see what his father often said about them trying ones patience so. They had to jump around and jabber!

Then he heard the accusations of the one with the sword. "What!?" he shouted in outrage as he jumped to his feet. "Is that thing accusing my father of-of-of murder? That's ridiculous, Magistrate!"

Stopping dead, realizing he was yelling at the Magistrate, Gamrin lowered his pointing arm, and bowed in the Magistrate's direction. Continuing calmly "I apologize, your honour. I'm just overwhelmed by the turn of events today. I'd like to know what happened to my father. He was quite upset, but I certainly didn't notice him harm anyone. He was merely overcome by grief at the though that I was about to be banished from the kaer. Why, I'd just been having rye toast, elv--er, for brunch with my sisters and mother when my father dragged me off, he was in such a snit! He hadn't even explained to my brother--who was with him--what was going on when he dragged me off, so I couldn't understand what was going on, because I hadn't done anything myself that would deserve such anger! That was the angriest I'd ever seen him, and the time before that hadn't been in years when he caught me with--er. Uhm. Certainly, now that I've had time to ponder it. That is, could you explain to me, what would make him feel like his youngest child--I mean me--would be sent out of the kaer's safety? I--"

Gamrin paused, his face going bright red. "I'm sorry, sir. I just want to know where my father is and what would make him think someone wanted me banished. Please. Sir." Gamrin looked around quickly, then sat down.

Scaly countenance. Stinky juices. He'd have to remember how to use those.

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The accusation that Arcata leveled against him was such that he only barely heard what Gamin and Catslayer were speaking of, and it didn't even register as he responded to her accusations.

"Acid? Criminal? I know Windlings are excitable, but you are overwrought, and clearly prone to exaggeration, I am no criminal, and I certainly didn't do anything with acid, and if you are accusing me of being something more, I am willing to be tested." He pulled an arrow from his quiver. "I carved this, this very morning, but if you like I can carve something new." He paused a moment, as his innate desire for honesty came to the forefront.

He turned to face Arcata directly. "Now, I did throw water on your friend, but, his wings were covered in paint, I had thought that cleaning his wings of the paint was the idea, and it seemed the best method to take the matter and respond to the request for my presence from officials. Furthermore, it was you yourself who requested that I bring some water, I hardly think I am at fault for thinking you wanted water to clean his wings. Thirdly, I certainly did not expect it cause him to tear anything, I never knew his wings were that vulnerable to tearing, that is however, an act of ignorance, not malice."

He turned to the Magistrate. "Whatever penalty you wish to apply for a act of ignorance I will accept, regardless of what it may be... but, you indicated the Kaer has need of us, let it be know what you desire and I will take it upon myself, if you still desire my action."

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"I told you to BRING water, not hurl it at him with deadly force!" Arcata shouted back, red-faced and near tears. "His wings were already soft from the paint, you idiot elf! Would you just throw a tidal wave at a kitten?! Would you cast a typhoon at a sweet, innocent puppy?! NO! But at your first chance, confronted by the poor Cobble, you unleashed a geyser...a DELUGE...upon he and his fragile little wings! What did you THINK was going to happen?!"

she whirled to face the Magistrate, taking in Gamrin and his accuser as well.

"It's like I've been saying from the start! None of you cares about us! Tear a wing or two off...kill some and leave them in the alley...it's all good fun, isn't it?! Windlings helped build this place! We keep it working! We deserve better, your Honor! I ask you to make an example of these...send a message to the kaer that the age when they could mistreat us has come to an END, and that the harshest penalties lurk for those who cling to the old days!"

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"As it happens, I hold in my hand the just remedy for both misdeeds." The Catslayer strutted the length of the Magistrates's desk, pushing down on the pommel of his blade so that the scabbard poked out proudly behind him, bobbing in time to his steps like the tail on a peacock. "I shall fix the mutilation of young Cobble and the murder of good Gothrick, and with the same fell blow I shall mend this one's stutter, his wall-eye, and his irregular bowel movements. T'would be a favor. With his dying breath he would stammer thanks at me." The Catslayer paused to squint fiercely at Gamrin.

"Mind, your honor, mind that I am no healer," The Catslayer spoke sincerely, eloquently. "I advertise no miracle cure. But the same medicine, applied to this lack-witted goblin posing as an elf, will make right what is wrong." He glanced at Misthal, "Only look at him, your honor, holding up an arrow like the village idiot. Let me tend to his distress swiftly, before he begins to drool on the carpet. It is so plush. I can tell, just from looking at it."

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The Magistrate replied deftly and quickly. "And I can tell, just from looking at you that you are a very proud windling. Now, if you would please return to your seat," he said as he pointed towards Catslayer's perch, "we can get to the matters at hand."

He continued as, hopefully, Catslayer returned to his seat. He addressed Arcata first. "First, Ms. Phaedran, as Mr. Thorn pointed out it was water and not acid. Second, from what I hear, your friend Cobble will make a full recovery, it will just take some time. Lastly, it was a crime of ignorance and not malice. Thus, as punishment, I hereby charge you to teach young Mr. Thorn about the differences between windlings and the rest of us namegivers." He then turned to Misthal. "I thank you for your eagerness to prove yourself, but I assure you that if there were any question about your soundness, the officers sent to find you would not have kindly and gently brought you here to my office." The tone of his voice and the look on his face left no question as to what they would have done.

He then turned to Catslayer. "And as for you, Mr. D'Nelin here is the son of Renil, the first wizard, not his lackey. Second, the son shall not be punished for the crimes of his father; he had nothing to do with the death of poor Gothrick. Lastly, his death was an accident, as unfortunate as it was, not intentional murder. As such, Renil will be dealt with, believe me." He let out a slight sigh and glanced towards Gamrin. The weariness of his job showed in his eyes for just a moment and then was gone as he turned back to the Catslayer. "As I mentioned earlier, the kaer has need of your assistance, all four of you. I want you, the Catslayer, to watch over Mr. D'Nelin here as he grows. Make sure that he doesn't develop the same flaw as what cost Gothrick his life. If he shows signs of it, I leave it to you to steer and/or punish him as you see fit... with one caveat. He must live to learn his lesson, meaning that you must protect his life, at all times, and at all costs."

After laying that charge on Catslayer, he again turned to address the group as a whole. "I hope that these terms are satisfactory to everybody, because we have other, more important matters to discuss. Matters that will change life here in Nilak forever."

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During the magistrate's response to the Catslayer, Gamrin loosened and adjusted the collar of his shirt a few times, and his face went paler and paler so that by the magistrate's conclussion, his face was as white as his robe was black.

Still, his back was straight, and his eyebrows furrowed in concentration, as he processed to the magistrate's implication that what had so far happened in this audience was relatively inconsequential compared to what he was about to say next.

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Arcata's mouth dropped open in horror at the Magistrate's pronouncement, and she looked at Misthal, then back at the Magistrate.

"Buh...buh..." Her mind whirled as she tried to squeeze anything but raging profanity out of the red stream of righteous fury that wound through her.

"Your Honor, I...all right, I know this isn't really why we're here, I've gotten that now, but please..." She struggled to find words to illustrate the situation in terms a human might understand. "Imagine that you and a friend, no! A brother! You're both nailing flyers onto a wall. Suddenly your brother does something silly and...oops! His hammer breaks. So you ask a passing elf to please run and fetch a new one." Arcata takes a deep breath, calming herself. "After a few minutes the elf returns with a bucket of hammers, and throws them all at your brother's legs, breaking them both. And when you drag the elf before a judge, the judge says, 'Well, his legs will heal eventually. So as punishment, I rule that you have to teach the elf why he shouldn't throw hammers at people's legs.'"

She buzzes back down to her 'perch.' "That's what just happened to me. You go on about how this news of yours will change life for the whole kaer, but why should I care? The kaer obviously doesn't care for us!"

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The Magistrate listened to Arcata's rant and then inhaled deeply, but suppressed releasing the sigh that so desperately sought escape. When he spoke, not even the trained Arcata could detect even a hint of the aggravation that he actually felt.

"Ms. Phaedran, if you will. If it were I, or an elf, dwarf, or any other Namegiver in the kaer, besides a windling, and we were covered in paint, it would be an expedient, though not very efficient method of cleaning us to dump a bucket of water over our heads. I ask your forgiveness, on his behalf, for doing something that he thought would be beneficial, but turned out to be harmful and hurtful.

And, as far as his punishment, I put him in your hands. You job is to teach him, I did not specify how or how long, about windlings. That way, if he ever does something that hurts a windling or the windling community he cannot claim ignorance, and he can then be fully punished."

When he finished, he continued to look at Arcata, hoping that she would agree, after having had it explained to her, that education was just punishment for someone who committed a crime out of ignorance.

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For a horrifying moment, it seemed that Arcata would be intractable. Then she glanced at Misthal again, eyes narrow; appraising.

"All right," the windling replied. "But if he gives me trouble, I'm sending him straight back to you."

To the elf she said, "We'll talk about your first lesson after the meeting."

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Misthal waited, the target, which was to make sure that it was understood he hadn't intended harm, he had sent his missile, which was the truth and from the sound of it, hit a direct bullseye. Of course, he wasn't entirely sure that he cared for the results, sense he now found himself taking lessons from a Windling who had reason to be angry with him. Of course, that was better then things had ended up for the human, for which he had to thank the Passions.

When Arcata turned her gaze upon him, Misthal met her gaze directly, he did feel bad about what happened, but it had been a true accident, he hadn't know that Windling's wings were that fragile. If she hadn't chosen to make wild accusations, he would have chosen the missile of his words differently. When she spoke about lessons, he gave her a simple nod and nothing else.

He then turned his gaze to the Magistrate and waited to find out what was so important that it would affect the entire Kaer.

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The Catslayer, having returned to his perch at the Magistrate's urging, sat and watched Gamrin in contemplative silence. It was a silence that would prove short-lived.

"You have set before me a hero's task, Your Honor!" The Catslayer's voice rose sonorous and serious. "How to mold this wet-nosed pup into the semblance a man. How to bring to this tongue-tied lickspittle, to this pouch-bellied mendicant, such incongruous qualities as honor and discipline and integrity." Tapping his fingers together, The Catslayer leaned so far forward in his chair it seemed certain he would fall again. But the twitching of his wings kept him in place. "The son of a murderous villain! A despot wizard who walks the paths of our Kaer armed for war, and sowing the seeds of sedition! OF TREASON."

The Catslayer bounced up, rubbed his jaw and sat down again. "Can the son of a serpent be taught to walk upright?" The Catslayer asked rhetorically, shook his head and let out a thoughtful "Hmmm." The Windling climbed up his chair, peering intently at Gamrin as if through a spyglass, one booted foot stood on the chair-back, one balanced on its arm. "He dresses in woman's garb. His chin is weak and all a-quiver. His arms spindly and frail. But can it be done? Can he be transformed? Can his buttery blubber be burned away? Can the misshaped and empty gourd he calls a head be filled up with knowing and made right?" The Catslayer squinted and drew a deep breath. "It will be essayed. Aye. I am resolved."

"Now," at last the Catslayer turned away from Gamrin and focused his attention on the Magistrate. "what of this other service you would have of me?" He slipped back into his chair and crossed a boot over his knee. "I can think of no challenge more great than that which you have already enjoined me to, Your Honor. Should you ask me next to wring water from a rock, I would, and gladly, for it would be as nothing in comparison to..." The Catslayer waved vaguely at Gamrin, "this."

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The Magistrate did such a good job of hiding his combination of laughter and disgust that only the training of a troubadour allowed Arcata to barely notice it. Once Catslayer finished, he waited a moment and cleared his throat to help him compose himself. "Well, it's not getting water from a rock, but it is dangerous beyond your imagining." The Magistrate let that hang in the air for a moment while he looked at every person in turn.

He motioned towards the theran 'clock' in the corner of his office, which had a sphere of true earth magically suspended above a dish of true water. "That is supposed to tell us when the Scourge is over and when it is safe to go back outside. But it isn't working. It stopped a couple of generations ago, and we've passed the time when Great Thera told us it would be over." Again he paused to allow what he had said to sink in.

"We need you to go outside. We need to know if it is safe. We need to know what protections and traps are still active in the Stairs. And most of all, we need help to resettle outside. We have been in here longer than the founders expected, and the materials and skills that we had set aside for when we reemerged just aren't there anymore."

He waited for another moment before adding, "Can we count on you?"

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Arcata's eyes widened and she waved her hands in front of her face as if to clear a cloud of invisible smoke.

"Wait...let me make sure I understand," she said.

"The magic we bought from the slavers of Thera failed us two generations ago, and we have no idea if the prediction they made about the Horrors being gone are true, or just as flawed as their stupid clock. So you want us to go outside and look?"

Her face split with a giant grin, like the sun suddenly pushing through grey clouds and shining radiance on the land below. "Because if that's what you're saying then when do we leave?!"

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Misthal's eyes widened, no wonder the matter of other issues was so much less important in the mind of the magistrate, maybe he would have a chance to see, forests and trees, they had been so lovely in his mother's illusions. He glanced over at Arcata a moment, then back at the magistrate, and he smiled slightly. "Though, no doubt the dangers are great, I must say, I agree with the sentiment, when do we go?"

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The Catslayer lowered his head thoughtfully, allowing the Magistrate's words to sink in. The outside world. A place of danger and excitement. A place of wondrous beauty and terrible evils. How many generations had grown up in the Kaer without ever having seen the sun rise or set? Catslayer tried to imagine it. A big shiny bright ball dangling in the sky. I am a Windling who has never known the wind.

He glanced around at his would-be companions in this great adventure. Arcata was little more than a girl. Always prancing about. Stealing pies. Trying to mount a revolution. At least her heart was in the right place. The elf, like the rest of his race, was effeminate and daft. Dainty and blonde. He would likely sprain his wrist at the first draw of his bow. Then there was the boy. The son of the murderous First Wizard, arrogant, cowardly and stuttering. and yet, as despicable as you are, you are my charge now, and you will enjoy my protection. I will see you transformed into a man of righteousness even if it kills you. The Catslayer vowed to himself.

But why had the Magistrate chosen this motley crew for a task of such importance? It was a puzzle, and the Catslayer turned it over and over in his mind, until at last, with a start, it came clear to him. The elf was but fodder for the traps along the Stairs. Everyone knows elves are nimble. The Magistrate likely counted on the elf being able to trigger a few traps, and thus clear the way, before being felled by some poison dart or burnt into a crisp by a gout of flame. Arcata was more often in trouble than a fish was in water, The Catslayer reasoned. Likely the Magistrate had chosen her to be rid of her, and in a manner most efficient and diplomatic. How clever. That left The Catslayer himself and the boy. Surely, the Magistrate felt that if the boy should die it would be no great loss to the Kaer, and would serve as a fitting punishment for the heinous murder of Gothrick. But while the deaths of these undesirables might be welcome news to the Magistrate, he could not, in good conscience, deliberately doom such an expedition to failure. And that is why he has chosen me.

"I gladly accept your invitation to lead this party to the surface." The Catslayer announced proudly.

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Gamrin's face went slack for a moment, and his eyes took on a distant focus. Then it started taking on first a gleeful expression....

I get to go outside? Hardly anyone's got to go outside!

"Wait...let me make sure I understand," a voice barely intruded on Gamrin's thoughts.

Gamrin's face paled, with a slight quiver to his lips and chin. His breathe grew rapid and short.

Because there are HORRORS out there!

"Though, no doubt the dangers are great, I must say, I agree with the sentiment, when do we go?" another voice impugned upon the whirling dervishes of thoughts occupying his mind.

Then his face grew more focused and determined. There seemed to be a.... flock? murder? tsunami! A tsunami of butterflies in his stomach.

Maybe.... Maybe there are Horrors out there.....

He glanced at the clock, the ball of Elemental Earth still hanging just a tad above the Elemental Water.

But they won't be as strong now even if they are there.

His gaze swung to the elf in the room. The sight of the Archer steadied his nerves.

We can beat them if they are there!

"Because if that's what you're saying then when do we leave?!" another voice chirped up. Was it the first voice? It didn't matter. There was something scratching the back of his mind. Some problem. Something he was forgetting....

He looked at the two perched seats and their occupants. Like a drunken troll at a, well, Windling's picnic (well, he presumed trolls got drunk, and that Windlings had picnics, so it seemed plausible that the former could intrude on the latter) the bellicose winged terror chimed in.

"I gladly accept your invitation to lead this party to the surface!"

Oh. Right.

"Yes. How bad can the Horrors really be?" Gamrin muttered absently, if not so quietly as he intended.

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A flash of surprise, that he didn't even try to hide, crossed the Magistrate's face at the quick and positive responses that he got. Then Catslayer said that he would lead the group, and any trace of shock or mirth in his face was gone, though some was put back when Gamrin spoke.

"Well, looks like we picked the right group! Most people would be scared stiff if they were told that they were heading out of the safety of our home and that the fate of the entire kaer rests on their shoulders. But not you four!" A wide grin appeared on his face as he spread his hands to encompass the entire group. "You four shall be our salvation." He then turned to Catslayer. "And while I appreciate your generous offer, I am of the opinion that the young wizard should lead the group." A slight wave of satisfaction swept across his face and then was gone.

"Now that we've got that settled, there are a few matters of business. It will take our head mages at least a day to work the wards so that you can leave without compromising the safety of the rest of us. That gives you a day to prepare for your journey, say your goodbyes, gather your supplies, and study the traps in the stairs." With that he looked amongst the assembled, waiting for their reaction.

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"The boy?" The Catslayer asked with false calm. He blinked and tipped his fingertips together and wet his lips as he searched the ceiling with his eyes, as though he might find some unexpected bit of sanity tucked into a corner of the room. Then a hot rush of angry blood pulsed into his head as resoundingly as a hammer blow.

"The BOY? The Catlsayer yelled. He was off his perch and whistling through the air as swiftly as one of Misthal's arrows. Just above the Magistrate's elegant desk the Catslayer tucked into a somersault. He planted his feet and stuck his landing with a whip-sharp crack of boot heel on oak. "Let me see that I understand you correctly. You would have me follow the accomplice of a killer, the son of the wretch who killed my best friend?" The Catslayer did not pause to let the Magistrate answer. His voice rose steadily, his words came quickly. "You would set before me, the Catslayer, the only one amongst us in this room who has faced and fought a horror and emerged victorious...a wet-behind-the-ears child with a speech impediment? With one breath you make this unfortunate pup my ward, and with another you elevate him above us all?" The Catslayer paused, "Are you daft? Have you lost your mind to drink? I would have thought your station and long years might have granted you some wisdom. You have proven my error beyond all measure."

The Catslayer spun about. With his back turned to the Magistrate, he flapped his hand irritably at Gamrin and spoke over his shoulder. "While this boy was soiling undergarments and hiding beneath skirt-hems, I, The Catslayer, was learning the way of the blade. I am a hero to my people and a hero to this Kaer. I have volunteered my life for the salvation of our citizens and you dare sit smirking, surrounded by the opulence of Great Thera and an air of privilege you have little-earned, you dare repay me this way?" The Catslayer folded his arms over his chest. "No. Nothing has been settled here. Not until you mend this insult."

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Arcata buzzed up behind Catslayer and said...more diplomatically, since the insult was not directed at her, "He's right, your Honor. Catslayer has been one of the few bright lights our people have in this dark hole. He's a mighty warrior, whose bravery and puissance have been tested and proven on the field of battle."

She gestured at Gamrin.

"This boy can't even stand firm against his own father. How can he hope to do so against a Horror?"

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The Magistrate got more and more agitated the more Catslayer talked. He didn't even try to hide it. Once he finished, both Arcata and Catslayer could see his pattern flare, but nothing else happened. Then Arcata chimed in, and the Magistrate shook his head, confused at something.

After Arcata finished, the Magistrate's pattern slowly glowed brighter as he spoke in perfect Windling.

"I didn't intend to offend you, Swordmaster, but leadership isn't all about who is the first into combat. I don't have to explain myself or my decisions to you, but if you remember from your military history lessons, the general isn't the person on the front line.

But, the choice is yours, you can either leave with Gamrin's group, under his leadership, for the future of the kaer. OR, you can head out first, by yourself, and face the horrors on your own, with nothing but what you have on your back. I'm not going to make the choice for you, but I suggest that you work with Gamrin."

Oddly, the wisdom of the Magistrate made Catslayer think more highly of him. Not by a whole lot, but somewhat. It also made his choice relatively clear. Being under Gamrin wouldn't be all that bad, it would help in fulfilling his charge of protecting him. Plus, he could exert the influence of his protection and watching/teaching to get the 'weak-minded' Gamrin to do what he wanted... but he wouldn't have to take the fall if things fell through.

The Magistrate looked to Gamrin and Misthal, his voice having lost its' edge as he spoke to them in common. "I apologize for that, but I didn't want to drag you two into that." He then looked at everybody, Gamrin, Misthal, Arcata and the oddly placid Catslayer. "Are we all of an accord? Can we move on to matters more important than administration?"

Click to reveal..
The Magistrate used the Hypnotize talent on Catslayer. He is now one attitude more favorable towards the Magistrate, and susceptible to suggestion for the rest of the scene (i.e. until they leave the office). He will be bound by his agreements for 8 hours and then the effects wear off. Sorry, but the Magistrate is getting annoyed by the uppity nature of the lowly windlings, and they have tried his patience long enough.

On a side note, I love the RP, and I think that everybody is doing a great job. Don't think that this is me trying to move things along or anything like that. This is just the type of world that the PC's live in.

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As the Windlings expressed their views of him, Gamrin shook his head, frowned at each point they made about his inability to be a good leader. Although what the two windlings said was less than flattering, he found himself agreeing with them.

On the other hand, Gamrin remembered his mother had spoken highly of the Magistrate in the past. The fact that he was saying something to the windlings in what must be their own language certainly spoke well of his education. Although Gamrin had never even considered learning it in the past, he realized it sounded quite beautiful. More so when the windlings spoke it, but still pleasing even from the mouth of a human.

When the Magistrate turned to the Archer and himself, Gamrin found himself lost in thought for a moment.

"Your Honour, I'm not sure I understand. All the points the two--" Gamrin paused, and creased his eyebrows for a moment, "--I'm sorry, all the points The Catslayer and... Arcata have raised ring true in my ears. Either one has done far more than I have with their lives. For that matter, so has Archer Misthal. Even in the past few hours, I find myself embarrassed by my childish ignorance, compared to them."

Gamrin turned to face The Catslayer, his face and ears turning crimson as he spoke, firmly, but quietly. "I apologize for making light of what was a tragedy to you earlier. I did not notice your the remains of your friend, and saw your challenge of my father as something of a lark. I do mean to learn from you, if you will teach me, and I hope to make up for both my own actions, and possibly in some small way for those of my father as well. I'm.... honestly not sure what that might be, yet, and I can understand if that is not enough."

Gamrin then turned to Arcata, his features returning to a more normal hue. "Without meaning offense, Arcata, it seems you know as little of humans and Wizards as I do of Windlings." There was a slight edge to his voice, Normally, any human child must follow the rules of his father until he becomes an adult. In my case, my father is also the Head of my Order. I must obey my father, unless I wish to leave his home and also cease to be a Wizard. I...." Gamrin paused, closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them again, looking back at the Magistrate before continuing calmly.

"Sir, I don't understand, but I am sure you have your reasons. I will do my very best for our Kaer, although I do not know how much I of what I do will be leading." He glanced to the elf at his side, for a moment, then looked down into his own lap.

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The Magistrate nodded as Gamrin spoke. "That humility, that willingness to learn from one's own mistakes and others, and that acknowledgment that you still have much to learn; those are the hallmarks of a great leader in the making." He smiled warmly at Gamrin, then looked around at the others (especially Arcata), daring them to challenge his ruling.

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Misthal didn't do or say anything, he simply listened, and as the conversation grew heated, he put his hand over his mouth to keep the smile from showing. He might not know as much about windlings as he should have, but he certain was coming to appreciate their directness about matters. Still, he was becoming a bit impatient with the all the discussion, but he decided to say his part, then urge them all to move on. This would be a great opportunity to grow in the path of the warrior, and learn more about the world.

"It matters little who leads us, as a team, the welfare of the whole is important, who knows what we might find or discover, any of us may be required to make choices that affect the whole of us, and even the entire Kaer. I would hope that all of us would take that into account as we begin this journey." Into legend, hopefully, he thought to himself.

He looked over to Gamin then to Catslayer and Acata, each one in turn. "We don't know what's out there, so, shouldn't we be looking to find ways to work together, rather then become agitated about the ways we are doing things now?"

He turned to the Magestrate next. "How soon can we leave?"

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Since it looked as if no one was going to challenge his decision, he turned to answer Misthal. "As I said before, it will take roughly a day for our head mages to complete their work with the wards so that you can leave safely. So, you have that time to do all of your preparations for your journey."

After he spoke, the Magistrate just looked amongst the assembled, waiting for their reactions, hoping that the quibbling was over and that the preparations could begin in earnest.

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Looking to Misthal, The Catslayer, and Arcata, Gamrin seemed to come to a decision.

Turning to the Magistrate, Gamrin asked "Do we have time to say goodbye to our families, then, Magistrate?" Then, as if he had simply not thought of it, he looked again to The Catslayer and--with a slight simper--asked of him as well: "If you please, sir Catslayer, I would like to see my family one last time before leaving the kaer? If you prefer, We can go to see your family before going to see mine?"

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Only as the tension eased did Arcata quite dare to take her eyes off the wizard. he did something, I saw it, I just don't know what... She sidled up to the hero, Catslayer's, side and said softly into his ear, "It's no good angering him to his face, but his voice stops at the seals. Beyond, we need listen only to ourselves."

Hoping that that would be enough, assuming the wizard's wrath was not...and for a hero like Catslayer it might will not be...Arcata simply nods her acquiescence without a word.

"I should tell Cob. Oh, and my father!"

Only then did something else occur to her.

"What...what should we buy for a trip outside? I haven't got much money. Surely we'll need glass-steel swords and living crystal armor and golem servitors that breathe fire!"

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With a fast flutter of his wings, The Catslayer lept away from Arcata and dropped onto Gamrin's shoulder. As the young wizard tried to shy away from him, The Catslayer reached out with both hands to grip Gamrin's ear. "Listen with care, boy. When you have a thing rightly, when it is due and proper, you do not meekly murmur it, you do not permit your lower lip to quiver like a salted slug!" The Windling tugged mightily on his victim's ear lobe, as much to counterbalance his precarious footing as to keep the youngster from wriggling free. "You do not ask it. You proclaim it. Do so now! Speak what you spake with conviction!"

"I want to--oww!" Gamrin's ear received another angry pull.

"No!" The Catslayer corrected. "Leaders do not want. Heroes do not want. They KNOW. They WILL. They DO. Observe." Finally releasing Gamrin's ear, the Catslayer flew back to Arcata's side and gripped her arm in a gesture of solidarity.

"Arcata speaks true." He told the Magistrate, puffing his chest out proudly. "Without fire-breathing golem servitors our expedition is doomed. You must see to it they are provided for us while we tend to our farewells." He dropped Arcata's arm and looked ready to go, but spun back a moment later to add "And on the subject of families, you shall see to it that our loved ones are recompensed for our noble sacrifice--save for the boy's father, a murderous cur who deserves naught but swift justice."

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The Magistrate looked amused more than anything as they all spoke. He chuckled as he replied, "I don't know about golems or servitors of any kind, much less the fire breathing kind, but I will give you full access to the armory as well as whatever provisions you think you might need that we can spare.

You'll also have complete access to the library and Dorak the librarian. He should know of all the tomes that you need.

So, you have just under a day to do whatever is is that you need before the kaer wide sending ceremony. Just remember to let me know before you want to go to the Library or the Armory as you need either my permission or my key to get in. So, it would be best if all of you go to these two places together.

Anything else?" The Magistrate looked at everybody but Catslayer.

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The Magistrate looked amongst the assembled. Nobody looked like they were going to object (for once), so he started to stand up. First he clasped his hands together, then stretched as he stood. "OK! To the armory!" His opulent robe billowed out behind him as he walked around his massive desk, assuming everyone would follow.

The way that he led the group was, in the beginning, the same way that they had been brought in by the officers (of which Catslayer had no recollection). That was until the Magistrate stopped at a decorative coat of arms on the wall. It was a heater shield with the kaer's seal on it, in front of a pair of crossed swords. The magistrate pulled on the right sword handle, and a previously hidden door in the wall swung open, releasing a cloud of very stale air.

Behind the hidden door was a long, narrow, dark hallway that was completely devoid of cobwebs. (spoiler 1) As you walk down the hallway, kicking up a thick layer of dust that had accumulated over centuries, faint glow stones lit up as the Magistrate passed them, and then faded out after the last person passed them. In actuality it was only a few minutes that they were walking, but it seemed much longer, especially after they rounded the first corner and lost sight of the light coming from the open door. The island of light stayed with them for the duration of their trek, through all the twists and turns, until the Magistrate stopped in front of two doors. Arcata and Catslayer could see the multi-hued evidence of some sort of multi-discipline magical protection around the left door, but it was the right one that the Magistrate manipulated.

After having pressed a complicated series of runes on the door, it opened, releasing another wave of stale air, and the island of light that had been surrounding them extended into the armory. It was smaller than expected, containing only three sections. The windlings immediately noticed the pink/purple/black shimmer of nethermantic enchantments around most of the wall brackets that held the weapons.

The first alcove had various sorts of bladed weapons, from swords and daggers to spears and axes. The second alcove had maces, flails, and other blunt weapons. The last alcove had just a few sets of chain and plate mail armor. None of the alcoves were fully stocked, as there were several empty spaces in each alcove (spoiler 2).

The light was enough to clearly see and examine anything that they felt so inclined to look at. The Magistrate entered the room and stepped back, opening his arms and inviting the group in. "Welcome to the armory. Every weapon from every resident who entered the safety of the kaer that isn't at the ATF or in the service of our fine officers is stored here. As the heroes of the kaer, feel free to take anything that you like. Anything that would help you in your long journey.

While you look around here, I'll be in the other room, where we keep more fragile items." Once the group was in, he exited and started working glyphs and runes to open the other door.

OOC: Please make two Perception (or appropriate talent/skill) checks. Compare the first check with the TN of the first spoiler and the second with the second. If you meet or beat the number, you can read the spoiler info, otherwise I'm trusting you to keep out. The info fits into the narrative in the appropriately marked location.

Click to reveal.. (Per 15 test)
You also notice 5 sets of footprints in the dust. Others have been through here, both long after the dust was initially laid down and probably around a decade, if not longer, before you showed up.
Click to reveal.. (Per 10 test)
but some of the empty spaces show dust 'ghosts' where there were once weapons, while others don't. Someone has taken weapons from the armory before today; probably within the last 5-10 years.
Click to reveal.. (OOC)
The room that the Magistrate is opening, is exactly like this room, except larger. In this room are things like bows & strings, shields, leather and padded armor, a couple of coils of rope, backpacks and bags, and a small silver chest that contains a whopping 2 healing potions (per 5 check to notice the chest and enough curiosity to open it). You have access to just about any non-living, non-magical weapon/equipment in the core book. No charms or potions besides what was already stated. If you want to search for magical treasure, roll another perception or an appropriate talent/skill check. Windlings get a +4 step on checking for magical items because of their astral sight and how the equipment has been kept. Let me know what you're looking for and I'll tell you what you find (if anything). Any other questions just ask.
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In the arsenel, Arcata is stunned into speechlessness by the proliferation of sleek, beautiful objets des morts that surround her. Though she had never engaged in violence beyond the occasional face-slap or tackle, she did not have a peaceful temperament, and dreamed of crossing blades with terrible bunyips or Therans to protect her home and family.

She flitted from one alcove to the next, examining their contents. After a moment she went back to an empty one and frowned. She flew between another pair of empty spaces and whirled around to give the Magistrate a curious look.

(Zee rolls!

(08:19:39) (SalmonMax): Arcata Perception Tests

(08:19:47) ChatBot: (SalmonMax) rolls 1d12 and gets 1.

(08:19:52) ChatBot: (SalmonMax) rolls 1d12 and gets 10.

Magic checking!

(20:25:06) (SalmonMax2): Step 11 perception, thanks to windling awesome. Have to roll 1 dice at a time though.

(20:25:10) ChatBot: (SalmonMax2) rolls 1d10 and gets 2.

(20:25:14) ChatBot: (SalmonMax2) rolls 1d8 and gets 7.

Total of 9.)

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“Boy. Come.” The Catslayer, having flown around the arsenal room in a dizzying frenzy, now stood leaning against the hilt of a massive claymore that was in turn displayed against the corner of a thick stone wall. The dark steel blade was taller than most men, so that its skull shaped pommel easily crested the Catslayer’s head and its guard provided ample space for the Windling to strike a cavalier pose.

With his free hand, the one not currently propped with studied nonchalance against his hip, the Catslayer beckoned Gamrin to him. “This is a sword, boy.” He explained earnestly, as if Gamrin were too dense to see the enormous weapon for himself. “It is well-suited for men of stalwart dispositions and martial inclinations. Women and elves are better served by the bow, a coward’s weapon that allows them to strike their foe from great distances and maintain a dainty appearance on the battlefield, though I can tell you with a certainty that they will soil their silky undergarments when a swordsman breaks their ranks wielding one of these. Oh, yes.”

The Catslayer took a step and dropped from the top of the sword like a stone. Just when Gamrin was sure he was going to splatter himself upon the ground, his wings gave a hard flutter and his decent came to a slick and sudden stop, settling him gently on his feet. “Pick it up.” The Catslayer nodded at the sword.

“Pick it...up?” Gamrin repeated, glancing at the thing. He was sure it weighed more than he did.

“Yes! With your hands! That is how it is done!” The Catslayer demanded irritably.

“But I—“

“But nothing! Wield that blade!” The Catslayer’s red tinted skin seemed to grow redder.

With a sigh, Gamrin grabbed hold of the grip in both hands. He yanked up and the giant claymore shifted a small distance, scraping stone as the young wizard backed up with it. “It’s too heavy. My life has been spent learning the magical arts, not waving swords about.” Gamrin protested sincerely.

“A defect I intend to correct. Lift it!”

Grumbling under his breath, Gamrin bent his knees and tensed his arms and heaved...the deadly end of the claymore came off the ground, arcing murderously as Gamrin was spun by its weight, tottering. The Catslayer had to leap back into the air to avoid being decapitated, his wings buzzing furiously. The sword’s journey ended with a terrific clang against a rack of maces that went tumbling down among splinters of wood.

“I swung it!” Gamrin proclaimed after he had recovered from the shock.

“It swung you,” The Catslayer answered peevishly, “set it down. You’re not ready for a real blade.”

“I tried telling you that...”

“Your tongue is wagging all about like a dog’s. Stop your senseless chatter.” The Catslayer jerked on the hem of Gamrin’s robe, pulling him down the wall to a shelf with four short swords. “Take one of those.”

“What’s the point if I can’t—“

Half a breath later The Catslayer hovered just inches from Gamrin’s face. Seizing Gamrin’s collar, the Windling tugged him closer still. “The point is that just because you are a helpless weakling your enemy need not know it. The point is that even a mewling moppet like yourself can be a danger when armed with sharp steel. You will be taught to use that blade and the first of your lessons is this: Never be without it. Now go and find yourself a scabbard.” The Catslayer let go of Gamrin’s much maligned robe and cast about the room, looking for anything that might catch his fancy.

Click to reveal..
Reroll on the last test per Star's correction--so, 15, thanks Star! 1d12.open(12)=9, 1d10.open(10)=6
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Grimacing, Gamrin looked down at the short sword he had blindly grabbed. It was a thin, wicked looking blade. What truly caught his attention, however, was the cross piece and the pommel: they had a cat-motif. The cross guard was done in the form of a pair of cat's paws, while the pommel was the head of a cat, with emeralds set within the head of a pointy eared cat.

Gamrin grinned and took it as a sign. Either listening to Catslayer was going to pay off, or the Passions had a sense of humour.

Gamrin quickly found the matching scabbard, a dark leather affair with a dark cat's head embossed on it. He put the blade in the scabbard--carefully, it looked sharp--and belted it on to his robe. It looked ridiculous on him, but he left it were it was.

He looked around, seeing what the others were choosing, and wondering if there was anything else he should take. After a moment he decided discretion was the better part of valour, and stepped out into the hallway before Catslayer thought of something else for him to do.

Click to reveal.. (Two Per Rolls)

1d12=5, 1d12=10

Failed first one (obviously).

Made second one, I believe.

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Misthal followed the magistrate while taking a look at his companions for a moment, thinking over the matter. Windlings were often flighty, and given to whims, but Catslayer appeared to be taking the matter involving Gamin rather seriously.

His words about swords and bows, however, seemed be rather insulting to Misthal, and rather inaccurate, he felt a need to speak up in defense of his chosen weapon. "A bow is a weapon of elegance, a killing weapon, straight and too the point, and the swordsman who charges into battle against the skilled Archer will never get a chance to use his weapon, the arrow will strike him down before he can even use his weapon. In battle, any weapon is lethal, if used properly, I don't insult your discipline or weapon choice, Catslayer, do me a favor and don't insult mine."

With that, he turned from that to take a look at the weapons and armor, looking for something suitable for a archer, though he also picked up a short sword, sense there might be a situation in the future where he ran out of arrows, or his bow was broken.

With that, he followed the magistrate to the next room, and upon looking around, he smiled, much more interested in what was here. "This is perfect." Picking out a set of hardened leather designed for an archer, he then checked out the bows to see if there was anything better then his bow.

He blinked when he found the Elven Warbow, with the quiver and arrows for it, lifting it up with a sense of awe it. "This must have been made before we entered the Kaer, I wonder who made it." The bow wasn't magic, but it was one of the best bows that one could find, short of magic.

Setting the bow down, he looked at the silver chest nearby, and opened it, lifting up one of the potions out of it as he did.


Click to reveal..

Roll One: (22:29:41) ChatBot: (Misthal) rolls 1d12 and gets 2.

Roll Two: (22:31:59) ChatBot: (Misthal) rolls 1d12 and gets 7.

Next room, Notice and Check Chest

(23:09:37) ChatBot: (Misthal) rolls 1d12 and gets 12.

Maxed Roll

(23:09:44) ChatBot: (Misthal) rolls 1d12 and gets 8.

Total 12 + 8 = 20

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The Magistrate stood in the hallway, watching what he could through the open doorways. He winced at the loud clatter and clanging as the maces fell over, and grimaced slightly at the 'lessons' that were being taught to the human leader of the group.

Luckily, he thought to himself, the elf's comments didn't spark a heated debate with the pompous windling... it appeared that only his comments and decisions could do that. Of course, the fact that the elf quickly left and went to the other room might have had something to do with that.

When Gamrin came out and stood in the hallway, the Magistrate pointed towards the second room. "Please, see if there is anything in this other room that you'll need. Anything you want."

Already inside the room, Misthal had found some interesting tidbits. What he didn't notice was that the hangers that the bow and quiver were on raised slightly as he took them, as did the silver box when he removed the potion filled vial inside. What he did notice was that a section of the wall opened. It contained two quivers. The first had two sections, one completely lined with orichilium and the other plain. The second quiver was subdivided into a grid like pattern roughly 4x8 (40 total slots).

There were also three urn like holders that contaied arrows beside the two quivers. The largest held a large assortment of non-magical arrows that seemed to be variations on a standard arrow.

The second urn was lined with orichilium and had groupings of very abnormal arrows. Some looked like they were made out of brown dirt, others out of solid water, while others were nearly clear but scintillated the dim light in interesting ways. There was a single red and orange arrow whose coloring pattern swirled and waved like a flame. Standing straight up in the center were four arrows with black shafts that absorbed all of the light that hit them. Astrally, though, they glowed brightly with the purple/pink and black colors of nethermantic magic.

The last urn contained highly unusual arrows. The tips were over-sized, fragile looking, and filled with various liquids, powders and vapors. Most of the shafts looked normal, and almost all of the shafts had fletching feathers that were yellow with three black stripes.

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Meanwhile, in the first room, Arcata was buzzing around the room, entranced by the craftsmanship that surrounded her. She paused momentarily to watch Catslayer's lesson...perhaps taking notes for her own student...then resumed checking out the weapons, chortling to herself. She quickly discovered something unfortunate however...the weapons were all sized for larger folk than she! In disbelief, she fluttered to doublecheck some of the alcoves...but in each case they were empty or stocked with human-sized arms.

With a scowly pout, Arcata dove from the room, past the Magistrate and out the door across the hall to the other room, just moments behind Gamrin. Once inside she was immediately taken with the astral resonance of the place, the bright lights that seemed to swim before her eyes. She quickly tracked the nearest one down to its source, a suit of leather armor on a bust-shaped stand off to one side. The armor was well made and fine, but it was the brooch attached to its neckline that Arcata plucked off, ignoring the rest completely. The silver disc, etched with figures and bas relief, shrank in her hands until it was just the right size for her to wear.

"Look what I found!" she triumphantly called, spinning and turning to Catslayer to wave her prize.

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