(OOC: Consider this post to be a flashback from a few days ago, since I'm posting this a little late and it should already be about January 15 or so in Phaema by now, but oh well. And if anyone reading this wonders who Arkhandus is, refer to my last IC post with Mist Phantom. End OOC.)
-= January 12, 795 TR =-
The sun was just beginning to sink below the horizon when Arkhandus landed his drake in a small field. He had been flying for three hours straight. The drake was exhausted, hungry, and thirsty, and Arkhandus was almost equally so. He dismounted and sat down for a moment, while the drake slumped on the ground and panted. Arkhandus pulled a flask from his belt and untied the cord that it hung by. It was empty that day, years ago, when Arkhandus' mentor was attacked, when Arkhandus leapt in the way of a deadly fireball and saved his master from the fate that instead befell him. The day he was resurrected as a half-wraith, his soul barely remaining tethered to the material plane. He had spent practically that whole day inside Dimetrios' laboratory, helping the archmage brew various potions. He had no need then to fill his water flask, as he did not plan to go travelling or anything that day. So now his flask was empty. However, now he was a considerably more experienced mage, and it wasn't a problem. Arkhandus stared at the flask and muttered a quick incantation, summoning a small amount of water in the center of the flask, half-filling it. He drank deeply, and gulped down nearly all of it. Then he cast the spell again, and refilled the flask. He knelt by the drake and used one hand to tilt its' head up. It looked at him quizically. He motioned for it to open its mouth, and it complied. He poured the contents of his flask into the drake's parched mouth and let it gulp down some water. The drake chirped happily, and Arkhandus tied his flask back at his belt with the cord.
Then Arkhandus got up and walked into the nearby woods, looking for some game. One of the drawbacks he had forgotten about being human, was the need to eat and drink. As a wraith he didn't need anything to sustain himself, but now that he was human once more, his body screamed for him to put some food into it. He found a deer walking about cautiously, and he crouched. It would probably smell or hear him soon anyway, but oh well. He quickly muttered an incantation and froze the deer in place with magic. Then he walked up a little closer to it. He frowned. If only he had some hunting tools and some skill in hunting, he could slay it and cook its meat for dinner. But he just didn't know how. He was a mage, not a hunter. He spent too much time studying and practicing sorcery to learn how to hunt. He could fish, but not hunt. He always just ate whatever he could buy in the marketplace. But now he had to do something. He thought for a moment, then said an incantation. His drake appeared in a puff of smoke, just a few feet away. It was startled and stood up on all fours, looking about. It calmed when it saw Arkhandus. He pointed at the deer, and the drake gazed at it, sniffing. Then it hungrily dashed forward to pounce on it. Arkhandus released the deer from his spell and let the drake chase it for a moment before the summoned creature spat a small bolt of lightning at the deer and then pounced. Arkhandus turned away and let the drake have its meal. He would find some berries or fruits or something, he supposed. He walked back out to the field.
Then he noticed a small house on the far end of the field, what looked like a farm.... He walked across the field to the small farm and knocked upon the door of the house. A middle-aged man, somewhat balding, opened the door cautiously, and looked peeked out.
Arkhandus said, "Hello, sir. I'm just passing through here, and I was wondering if you could help me...."
The farmer opened the door the rest of the way and stepped out. "Well, that depends on what ya be wanting, young'un." he said.
Arkhandus replied, "Well, I was wondering if you had any food you could spare, just a little bit, to last me till I reach the next town, if you don't mind sir...."
The farmer looked a little angrily at the young mage, then said "I don't like beggers, but I's guess'n I could spare a little chow, just this once... Come on in, and I'll get you something." Then he turned around and went back into the house and to the kitchen. Arkhandus followed him.
The man dug around in some cupboards, and pulled out a few fruits and vegetables, putting them in a small sack, which he handed to Arkhandus. Then the farmer said, "Here, I's gots some left over turkey from lunch if ya wants it, I can cook it agin over me stove fer ya too. But after that, I's gonna have ta ask ya to be leavin', cuz I's got work ta do, an' I ain't givin' no free room an' board, hear?" Arkhandus agreed and the farmer went to cook the left over turkey meat for him. After a short wait, the young mage ate the dinner provided by the farmer, thanked the man, and left.
He still wished that he had some Phaeman currency, or something else to give the man, but he didn't. He only had a few silver pieces from his homeplane, and they certainly wouldn't be valid currency here. Arkhandus pondered the dilemma for a few minutes. He wouldn't be able to buy any food in Phaema until he did some work and earned some Phaeman coin. And he had to hurry to reach his destination, which meant that he couldn't waste time working. Arkhandus sighed. If only he knew some green or white magic, he just might be able to conjure up some food, possibly, except that he didn't know any white or green magic. Arkhandus sighed again. 'Guess I'm gonna be perfecting my foraging technique.' If only he knew how to forage, and what fruits and berries were edible... Life in the wilderness was gonna be hard.
Arkhandus continued walking southward, heading for the large plains that he was told to find by the mysterious being that had brought him here, to Phaema, years ago. After he had eaten some supper at the farmer's house, he had unsummoned his drake, sending it back to the place from whence it came. Then he had started walking southward, deciding that he would summon another drake a little later to carry him the rest of the way. But something odd was happening now.... The wind picked up and began to howl, and the nearby stream began to run like rapids. It grew slightly dark in the forest, and Arkhandus felt a familiar presence. Suddenly, a spout of water sprung upwards from the river, and the water turned in mid-air and headed in his direction, then stopped a few feet in front of him. It turned again and flew in a circle, creating a ring of water floating perpendicular to the ground, and the water flowing into it stopped and receded back into the raging stream. The ring of water heated up, and some of it began to turn into steam. The steam gathered within the ring and formed a vaguely human face, and the face spoke.
Hello, mageling. I have new plans for you. Instead of continuing southward, you are to turn and head eastward, to the Dragonback mountains and to a place called Crn. From there you must go to another place, called KAAT'N. Your destiny beckons. You must answer.
The face stopped speaking, and the steam quickly dissipating, not giving Arkhandus a chance to respond. The ring of water flowed back into the stream, and the water slowed to its normal, lazy crawl. The forest lightened again, back it its normal hues. Arkhandus stamped his foot in anger, then sighed. He had no choice.
Arkhandus walked to a spot where the forest canopy wasn't so dense, then summoned a new drake. He mounted it and took off, heading eastwards.
~ /\/\ist Phantom ~
Arkhandus, Blue Mage
Necronis, Lord of Undead
Traug, Troll Mage
Shard, Sword Mage
Aphiron, Novice Warrior
Just on the off-chance that you didn't know (or had forgotten), this is a summary of the general things that I know about Crn and Kaat'n (drawn from history). It's probably worth posting this again just so its available to the general public.
Crn is an underground nation that is home to a hefty population of dwarves and some, errr, "frisky" minotaurs. It is very large, stretching out under most of the Upper Dragonbacks (I think, exact boundries and most entrances are presently unknown). Among other places, it has an outlet into the Kaat'n catacombs. The dwarves usually keep to themselves, and the minotaurs tend to keep anybody from wandering around down there (assuming they can find an entrance in the first place).
Kaat'n is both a castle and the village surrounding it (I think that's called a Keep). The entire area is carved out of the upper part of one of the mountains in the upper Dragonbacks. There is thick and heavily-reinforced outer wall that surrounds the whole village and inner wall that surrounds the castle (in addition to the castle's own walls). Entering the area is generally rather difficult as the only external entrances (by foot, at least) are straight up one of the surrounding cliffs (a basically impossible climb) or over a small stone bridge which no longer exists [there are currently two stone golems under the control of Sage Advisor (the planeswalker leader of Kaat'n) which if he commands will carry people over the airspace the bridge once occupied].
The castle has a couple of windows, but is well-guarded by a batallion of locals who have been doing this sort of thing for a long time. There is, technically, the entrance through the Catacombs (there is a heavy, magically and physically bolted door to them in the lowest level of the castle), but as far as I can recall nobody aside from some dwarves and minotaurs have ever come into Kaat'n that way.
Residing in Kaat'n are the guards, a few apprentices (typically more, but it's only recently reopened for business as a mage-school), and the senior guild-members: Sage Advisor, Sir Whiteblade, Arasus, and Ley Druid. At this particular moment, Sage Advisor is out on a recruiting assignment (any of the senior guildmembers can command the golems in his abscence). Serra is another senior member, but is currently, ummm, godonlyknowswhere. All senior guildmembers of Kaat'n officially kick-ass. :) Of the approximately six-billion attempts to invade Kaat'n, every single one has failed (including some pissed off villagers who promptly fell victim to catacomb minotaur mating season when Sage temporarily opened the catacomb doors and Whiteblade hurled a bottle of the Dwarven aphrodesiac, "Crk," into the mob).
There might be a map of the keep further down on the message board in a post by Sage. I dunno. There's more of course, but that sort of information is generally useful to anybody who's going to be doing anything around Kaat'n.
I would feel confident saying that Kaat'n is the most well-defended area on the entire continent including Justice Keep, which is probably more heavily guarded at present but easier to reach in the first place as it is not carved out of a mountain.
Not a problem. By the time Arkhandus gets there, Necronis will probably already be there laying siege to the keep. Arkhandus, as a blue mage, has learned spells of flight and scrying, so should be able to find it and fly up there when the time comes. For now, it doesn't really matter anyway, as Arkhandus still needs a few days, maybe a week, to reach the general area of Crn and KAAT'N.