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Explorers of Ariqua: Part 2. Rated R


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#21 EChatty

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 03:15 PM

Demiriz started walking towards the beach again as Elizabeth described some of the ceremonies that were performed by Sandesinans, and then asked how Zapiyans conducted the ceremonies. "Oh, once a couple decides to marry they go see one of the shamans." He said. "The ceremony is brief, with the couples exchanging vows and the shaman blessing the couple. We do not exchange rings, but I will be happy to do that in keeping with your traditions."

#22 Mikoto

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Posted 17 July 2013 - 01:53 PM

Laura smiled at Louise and hugged her back, feeling the slight bulge that indicated her daughter was pregnant. It made her smile widen. She was going to be a grandmother. "Thank you. I'd have gladly taken any reasonable path towards peaceful coexistence. War with the indigenous Ariqun will make the expansion into the Ariqua continent more costly. However, the ore and goods we export back home still makes a fortune that'll fund the war and turn a small profit." She sat back down at her desk and relaxed. "But more than that, the Ariqun know about us now. They know there are other races beyond the seas. We personally wouldn't be around to see it but I'd bet that our descendants would see the day that the Ariqun warships land on Telgar and Talmia to attack us on our homeland. I think its wise to deal with them now while we have the advantage." Temenas nodded. Like his older brother Demiriz he was tall, strong, and muscular yet agile. He had intelligent brown eyes, and black hair along with the pathwork shaded skin of his kind. However he wore the neat, loose, white uniform of an employee of the Arlessa. His day job in Sandesina was being an assistant and messenger for the Arlessa or Governor. "You have learnt well Arlesssa. Building alliances with my fellow Zapiyans, the Salarans and Khajitaar will also help your situation." Laura picked up her quill and parchment and chuckled. "Ideally I'm hoping it'll help us all. That together we can achieve what none of us could handle alone." She said.

#23 Mikoto

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Posted 17 July 2013 - 02:06 PM

Elizabeth thought about it as they continued to make their way through the jungle. They were almost at the beach she had in mind and she was glad for that. The heat of the day, combined with walking through the undergrowth was already starting to make her uncomfortably warm. "Okay how about we compromise?" She suggested. "We skip the engagement ring process but wear the ordinary, simple wedding rings after the ceremony. My family had excellent reason to worship Goddess Kaneea. I think she's known as Kynau to your tribe. Would your shaman be willing to come to Niobia to bless us?" Elizabeth sighed in relief once they finally reached the beach and a cool ocean breeze fanned her. She smiled. It would be the perfect place to spent a hot tropical day.

#24 EChatty

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Posted 17 July 2013 - 02:19 PM

Louise smiled and sat back down as her mother got back to work and told her what was going on. She was happy to be married to Temenas and uniting the Zapiyans by doing so. She was also happy to be pregnant. Despite her somewhat selfish attitude when it came to her fun, she knew her duty and she knew what she had to do. Now that Temenas was in her life, she no longer really needed the other males she used to play with. These had been given other jobs within the household and she could concentrate on learning more, especially since it looked like a battle was going to be fought in the near future.

Demiriz walked along while Elizabeth continued to speak and asked him if just wearing wedding bands would suffice. "Wedding bands will be fine." He said. The she asked about the shaman coming here to bless them in the shrine to Kynau. "I'm sure one of them will be happy to come here to bless our union." He said. "In fact, my father is one of the shamans and we can ask him." He smiled when they reached the beach and the cool breeze off the water hit them. He then set about setting up the tent so that they could have more time to spend on other things.

#25 RJDiogenes

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Posted 17 July 2013 - 06:58 PM

"I have no idea what a Dimetrodon is," said Eru, "but its meat is sure tasty. I hope your chicken is as good."  They were sitting at a table in the dining room on the first floor of the Green Gecko Inn, having settled into their room, unpacked and cleaned up. Eru was anxious to change into her Werewolf self and go for a run in the jungle-- she had only changed once during the two-week sea voyage, and then had to rescue all of the sailors who jumped overboard. She had decided not to do that again.  But she wanted to get a good look at Elizabeth's artifact first, and she knew the same was true of Arjhay.  "We should get word to Elizabeth that we're back in town.  Are you even listening to me at all?"

"Yes, yes, twenty-four years, I know," replied the Professor, chewing his food thoughtfully.  "You know, we didn't stay very long in Niobia before, not long enough to get a sense of the local cuisine, but I do believe the town is developing a unique local flavor.  This breaded chicken has quite a distinctive taste to it completely unlike anything in Delmi. Perhaps because the bird used in the recipe is not a chicken."  He wiped his mouth with a napkin.  "In any case, we should probably let Elizabeth know that we're back in town.  Excuse me, Innkeeper?"  The man standing at the front desk, who sported a black beard and an eye patch, got up off his elbow and sauntered over.  "Innkeeper, would it be possible to engage a courier to track down one Elizabeth Cousland and deliver a message? Simply add the fee to our room charge."

"Ah, for such delightful guests and reliable customers as yerselves, I'll send one of our own boys to do it as a courtesy.  Will ye be having dessert now?"

#26 Mikoto

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Posted 20 July 2013 - 04:50 PM

Timejump: Two days later.

Time Stamp: 9:00 am

Things hadn't gotten any quieter in Niobia as, just as the Quan and Arishok along with their small entourage of guards had been escorted to the main gate by plenty of armed Hume and Elviri City Guards, a group of about twenty five Tal-Vashoth arrived from the opposite direction seeking asylum and a new place to live. Evidently the same news of Niobia which had brought the 'diplomats' to investigate had also inspired several Ariqun to abandon their 'religion' and travel to what they felt might be a safe haven. There had almost been a fight between the 'diplomats' and the Tal-Vashoth but the City Guards and a couple of Dragonrider Guardians swooping overhead with displays of fire-breath had been enough to persuade the 'diplomats' to leave without a fight. Since then Laura, Rozz, Louise and Temenas had been occupied with housing the new Tal-Vashoth in the shacks on the waterfront as starter houses and getting them suitable jobs so in time they could afford a better life. Over the next several days a steady trickle of Tal-Vashoth arrived at Niobia's gates each day. After being screened to make sure that they weren't Ariqun spies, jobs were found for them with many joining the City Guard. Many of the asylum seekers with psions/saarebas and so Laura arranged for a military psion instructor, who normally trained the psionic powers of City Guard or military soldiers to give the former Saarebas basic training so they could begin to master their powers. As the Arlessa intended, a side effect of spending three hours every work day at the Niobian military base being instructed by a military instructor caused most of the former Saarebas to join the Sandesinan military. It offered them instant accomadation, good pay, proper training and a new life in a role where their powers were truly appreciated.

Meanwhile Elizabeth and her explorers continued about their lives until she got word that the Professor and Eru had returned after receiving her letter about the ancient Kilairi ruin and the mysterious orb artifact that she'd found within while giving the place a preliminary once-over upon initially discovering it. She had arranged for them to join a meeting along with her crew of Explorers for she planned to make a full expedition of it. She was hopeful that whatever they found in the ancient ruins would turn a tidy profit. If not, often knowledge was its own reward...

Elizabeth had done her usual tactic of arranging to have the meeting over breakfast so that they could eat and discuss their business at the same time. She found it very practical. She'd already packed her own bags and equipment for the journey and had opted to hire a stout mule to carry most of the packs for the Explorers since for the most part they'd be using roads to travel. She'd chosen a quaint little cafe that served traditional Sandesinan food near the main gate that led out of Niobia as the meeting place. The mule with the packs was just outside on a tether contentedly eating his own breakfast. Through the window she and Demiriz had a clear view of him and their belongings. All of her Explorers had arrived on time, and the Professor and Eru had arrived too. Now she could begin her meeting. "Good morning everyone." She greeted them between bites of her hearty full Sandesinan breakfast.

"Thanks for coming. After breakfast we'll be heading out to the Kilairi ruin. Hopefully we can uncover the mystery surrounding the ruins given the Kilairi themselves don't have any historical record of ever having been on this continent. Maybe turn a little profit in the process." She explained. "You'll all get standard pay per day for this expedition plus a share of whatever profits we make from anything we can bring back to Niobia." She added. "First though we'll start with the artifact I mentioned in my letter." At this point Elizabeth put down her knife and fork briefly, reached into her bag and brought out the artifact, then unwrapped it as she'd kept it carefully covered in a protective cloth. It was an orb made out of a pale yellow opaque crystal about the size of an adult male Hume's head.

It was curiously light in weight. Far less than a metal of the same proportions would have been. Around the circumference was a series of symbols carved on it. The letters looked similar to those of the Kilairi language but they weren't quite the same. "I have no idea what it is or what it was used for." Elizabeth admitted as the set the Orb down on the table in front of Eru and Arjhay "If you hold it long enough, where its in contact with your skin will glow slightly and grow a little warm but that's all I know. Hopefully you can do better than I can." She resumed eating her breakfast, waiting to see what they would make of it.

Edited by Mikoto, 20 July 2013 - 04:51 PM.


#27 Mikoto

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Posted 20 July 2013 - 05:16 PM

Tasha hadn't gone to the meeting at the cafe with Elizabeth and the other Explorers because she wouldn't be going on the expedition to the ancient Kilairi ruins on account of her being fairly advanced with her twin pregnancy. She'd been on a few routine mapping missions during the last five months during which time the Explorers had mapped most of what was now a broad area encompassing many miles of Niobian territory. Then she'd become too large and ungainly to find long treks through the jungle feasable and gone on 'maternity leave.' That was a new concept for her. A pregnant Ariqun female didn't get maternity leave. Just excused from any duties that involved long distance or heavy lifting. She rather liked the idea of taking some time off to safely grow her little babies. Her pregnancy so far hadn't stopped her working at the Mahariel siblings' clinic entirely although she only worked short shifts two or three days a week. In a few more weeks she'd take maternity leave from that too. Right now she hadn't bothered getting up yet and was comfortably dozing in bed at home.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Arlene sat at the table in the Cafe with Elizabeth and the others having breakfast as they had their morning meeting. She sat next to Tevyn and ate her food while their leader showed Arjhay and Eru the artifact she'd found when she'd discovered the ruin several months ago. Arlene had been there for that mission. It had been a complete surprise when they found a cave that looked like it might make a good shelter from the overnight tropical storm, and inside it led to the ancient, forgotten Kilairi ruins. They'd briefly investigated and that was when Elizabeth had found the Orb tucked away in a stone cupboard. They'd camped overnight in the ruins and continued their mapping of the following morning. Right now though the Elviri didn't have much to say so she simply ate her food and let the Hume talk. She never understood the kind of breakfasts that Sandesinans had until recently. So much food. Bacon, eggs, sausages plus other things. It seemed such a heavy meal. Traditionally Dhaskan Elviri had light breakfasts of biscuits, fruits and cereals. However Arlene had found wisdom in having a solid, filling breakfast before a hard day's adventuring and trekking through the jungle. And so it was that she tucked into her breakfast with enthusiasm.

#28 Mikoto

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Posted 20 July 2013 - 05:47 PM

Nick was currently in his ship out to sea, in the bridge and at the controls. He'd risen early as usual along with his crew and they were sailing towards Niobia with a ship packed with eager new colonists from Sandesina. They were due to arrive at Niobia's port in three days' time. Each one carrying a generous sum of money and plans and dreams for a new life on the continent of Ariqua. With land and space becoming fairly expensive in old Sandesina over the last few decades just about anyone with a bit of bravery and enough coin to pull it off had been emmigrating to the new frontiers on the continents of Telgar and Ariqua. Telgar was fairly well populated as it had sported its own native Humes before the Sandisinans had arrived and conquered it with their larger armies and firearms.

The natives had been absorbed into the Sandesinan Empire. There was unexplored and uninhabited regions in the fringes of Telgar but the real opportunity was Ariqua. Nick and Aveline had made back all the money she had poured into the new Brosca Shipping Company within a month by shipping exotic cargo to Sandesina and new colonists out to Niobia. The profits had increased sharply when they merged with Elizabeth's company, becoming the Surosca Charter Company. They received a cut of the profits whenever they managed to ship a colonist directly to Ruhalia village who then bought property there. It was a neat operation and Nick and Aveline were well on their way to becoming a very wealthy couple. He smiled as he continued to pilot the Waverunner. Life was finally just about perfect for him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lizara Weir spotted the White Horse Cafe up ahead and picked up her pace as she headed towards it with her companion*. She was about average height for a Kilairi with short dark brown hair, the typical golden eyes, green skin and blue markings. She wore beige coloured shorts and a light shirt. Sturdy boots protected her feet and she was armed with a pistol holstered and clipped to a toolbelt around her waist. She'd heard from the Arlessa that a group of talented Hume and Elviri Explorers under one newly married Elizabeth Surana were planning an expedition to fully explore, investigate and translate the so-called ancient Kilairi ruins and she simply had to come along with them and see for herself. Perhaps help with their work. Lizara and her *companion were fascinated by the idea that their people had been to this continent before. It was very strange. There was no knowledge passed down or historical record of the Kilairi ever having been to Ariqua.

However it was entirely possible that the information had been lost since her people had spent the last 10,000 years trapped in the Nane Realm with their ancient enemies, coming back to a world where only ruins of their old civilisation remained and a world now dominated by the Humes and Elviri. The Kilairi had flourished in the two hundred years since their return to the world. They'd built several new cities, reclaimed a small portion of their lost technologies, cultures and skills. And they had bred. A lot. They had nations on every known continent now except for the Salaran Islands and Ariqua. Fully autonomous and enjoying good diplomatic relations with their Hume or Elviri nations. Even now several colony ships were looking to establish a new nation to the south. But what was none of Lizara's concern right now. She and her *Companion were archaelologists and historians interested in rediscovering as much of their lost culture, history and technology as possible. She simply had to go on this expedition.

*The Companion is RJ's Kilairi NPC character he's borrowing for the ruin expedition part of this arc.

Edited by Mikoto, 20 July 2013 - 05:48 PM.


#29 EChatty

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Posted 20 July 2013 - 07:07 PM

Maress stood in the doorway of the room that would soon be the nursery for his twin babies. He had spent all of his free time working on the spare room next to their bedroom, putting in beds for them, helping Tasha decorate it and get it ready for the day they would be using it. He was still awed by that concept-that he and Tasha were not only going to have these children, but that they would get to keep them and raise them as they saw fit. And he would be very careful to teach them all about this new culture they were living in, as well as teach them where they came from and why they now lived here.

That was something else that he could hardly believe. When he lived as an Ariqun, he had worn a heavy collar that wore down on his shoulders and left terrible sores on his shoulders that, when healed, still left scars. He also bore the scars of numerous whippings he endured, just because the Arvaraad was having a bad day and decided to take it out on him. All of these scars he would bear for the rest of his life, but he would not be ashamed of them. They told a story, a story about how he survived being an Ariqun Saarebas, told that he would never be bred, never be free, never know anything except the Arvaraad and his whip and leash. The story was still being told, because he defied the Arvaraad and escaped with others who were just as dissatisfied with their life under the Quanar. They were all now living free, in Niobia, being treated equally and choosing what they would do instead of being told what they would do.

He picked up the plate that contained Tasha's favorite breakfast foods and took it to their room, where she was having a lazy day lying in bed and he smiled when he saw her. Even big with their twin children, she was still the most beautiful Kelishe female he had ever seen in his life and he would spend the rest of his seeing that she never wanted for anything. He walked over to the bed and sat on it, offering her the plate of food. "You can lie here all day if you wish." He told her.

Tevyn sat with Arlene and ate his own breakfast as he listened to Elizabeth talk about the ruins and the strange orb that she was now showing them. Tevyn wondered what it was as well, it was perfectly round and would start to glow if one held it for very long, but they had no idea what it was or what it did.

Maybe the Professor could tell them what it was, or maybe they would find the answer at the ruins. As it was, he simply enjoyed sitting with Arlene and occasionally chatting between bites or holding her hand while they finished eating and got ready to go.

#30 EChatty

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 07:13 AM

Aveline sat in the office of the Surosca shipping company, catching up on paperwork. Nick was currently somewhere out to sea, having left to deliver more exotic goods to Telgar and bring more colonists and supplies back to Niobia. By her reckoning, factoring in possible inclement weather and unloading/loading, she figured that he should be well on his way back with the colonists. Which was good, she missed him so much already, but someone needed to manage the company while Elizabeth was off exploring and Nick was off making a name for himself in shipping, so it was her. Good thing she was good at managing.

She couldn't be happier though, since they merged with Elizabeth's company, she had made back all the money she had poured into this venture, trusting that Nick could turn a profit almost immediately, which he did. Not that she was worried about the money, she trusted him as much as she loved him and now they were making enough to allow them to move to the higher district if they so wished. She was just glad that her parents had approved of Nick and had even made the effort to come down for their wedding. She glanced at her left hand and smiled at the matching engagement ring and wedding ring. It still amazed her that a former pirate could have been so romantic and thoughtful when he planned how to propose. She just wished Elizabeth's parents could be more open-minded about her choice of life partner, but she understood why she married so quickly, and without telling her family. They would have tried to stop her from marrying 'beneath' her, though Demiriz was hardly beneath her.

She smiled when she thought about how much Niobia had grown, especially here recently, with the addition of so many more of what the Ariqun called Tal Vashoth, those of their people dissatisfied with the way they were being treated. They had heard about the Saarebas, Maress, who had been accepted freely, along with his Tal Vashoth group, so they had decided to seek the same acceptance, freeing more Saarebas and bring them. The Saarebas, in turn, were educated in how to properly use their abilities and many had then joined the military, wanting to defend the people who had accepted them and let them live free. Of course, this had not set well with the Ariqun government, but they had no real means to stop it, unless they caught the ones trying to leave before they could arrive. She had put a good many of the hulking Kelishe to work either on the docks as dock workers or on their various ships as crewmen. Their strength made them excellent at loading and unloading cargo fairly quickly, and she paid them well for it.

She sipped on a cup of hot tea as she went back to the paperwork that seemed to multiply whenever she turned her back. Brooding about missing Nick wasn't going to get it done.

Jhanell sat with the others at the table, eating her own breakfast. Most of the caravan she had been traveling with were now either part of this growing city or they had returned to Khajitaar territory. She had decided to stay, and had accompanied Elizabeth's mapping expeditions as an extra guard. Today, she was going to accompany them again, to a ruin they found on a previous expedition. The ruin apparently belonged to the Kilairi, beings who disappeared many thousands of years ago and reappeared only a few hundred years ago. She had never heard of the little green beings living here at any time, but records that old were very hard to find. She continued to eat her substantial breakfast as she studied the orb that Elizabeth was now showing them and explaining what little she knew about it. Jhanell had never seen anything like it herself, and she wondered what it was.

#31 Mikoto

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 01:39 PM

Tasha sat up and smiled as she propped herself up against the many plush pillows that covered their bed, wiggling herself a bit until she was absolutely comfortable. She took the food that Maress offered. "Thank you. You spoil me so." It hadn't escaped her notice that her husband had cooked and served her favourite breakfast foods just the way she liked them. She had really become fond of Sandesinan food. In comparison to the bland vegetable mush and dried meats she'd eaten as a Temple Cleaner, Hume food was amazing and delicious. She tucked into her breakfast with enthusiasm, which consisted of bacon, eggs, sausages, beans, butter and toast. Between bites she considered his offer. Even though she had been living free in Niobia for five months and had been free as a travelling physician for a couple months before that, there were still days like today when she marvelled at the simple pleasures that came outside the Ariqun. Being able to choose what to eat and wear. When to eat, sleep, what she would do that day. All in the company of her chosen male who pampered her ever since they'd found out she was pregnant. He'd worked so hard at converting one of the spare bedrooms into a nursery for their twin children. "Perhaps we could go into the front room, open the windows so we catch the breeze and just relax on the sofa for a while?" Tasha suggested as she finished her breakfast. "I admit I feel like relaxing today."

#32 EChatty

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 02:29 PM

Maress smiled when Tasha suggested that they relax on the sofa together. Just being able to choose to do that was still a wonder to him, because just a few short months ago, he couldn't even make a simple decision without asking his Arvaarad for permission to do it. Simple things, like getting a drink of water or going to relieve himself, or even to bathe himself or go to bed or get up the next morning. No part of his life as an Ariqun belonged to him, so every time he made a decision for himself, no matter how small it was, he reminded himself to educate his children about the Ariqun and especially about how they treated Saarebas. Knowledge was power, and he wanted to give his children the power to refuse all such offers made by them. It amazed him that so many Ariqun, mostly Kelishe and any Saarebas they managed to free had found their way here. Thinking about them made him want to go see how the new arrivals were doing, so he glanced at her and smiled. "Perhaps a walk to go visit the new Ariqun arrivals to see how they're settling in." He suggested. "Then later we can spend time relaxing on the sofa while I rub your back." He loved spoiling her, he loved having the ability to choose to spoil her and he was going to spoil the twins when they were born too. He still wasn't sure what names they would pick for them, but they would pick them together. He picked his name only a few days after he escaped his Arvaarad, calling himself Maress. Since there was no word in the Quanlat that meant free or freedom he made up one. Maraas meant nothing, so he altered the spelling and took that as his name and to him it meant freedom.

#33 Mikoto

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 04:20 PM

"That sounds like a good idea actually." Tasha agreed after a moment's thought. She knew that a particularly large group of former Saarebas had arrived in Niobia two days ago. They'd been been given a list of names to choose from when they signed their oaths of loyalty and citizenship papers. That too was a foreign concept to many Ariqun. The idea of a family name even moreso. When she had married Maress they'd had to choose their own family name. Hawke. She was Tasha Hawke now. Apparently it was a species of bird back in Talmia except with an extra letter on the end of it. Still it sounded like a strong name so she and Maress had chosen it for themselves. "And a backrub at the end of it sounds perfect." She gave him a grateful smile. His backrubs helped a great deal during a twin pregnancy. With their course of action decided, Tasha pushed herself to her feet and waddled over to the wardrobe. She studied the outfits there for a moment before pulling on a loose, flowing pale lavender coloured robe that almost reached her ankles in length. She chose simple sandals for her feet and kept her hair loose but brushed. "I'm ready."

She announced and went down to the kitchen. She collected a flask of water and a few snacks before leaving the house, locking it and proceeding towards the waterfront shacks with Maress.  The weather was mild, pleasant and sunny with a strong breeze blowing in from the ocean. She walked at a comfortable, stately pace and they eventually reached the waterfront shacks. She didn't think 'shack' was a fair description for these buildings. They were constructed solidly of wood. They had one main room with a kitchen area in one corner, bed area in another and general living space in the rest of the hut. Adjoined to the hut at the back was a small bathroom that had plumbing. That was something of a wonder in itself for the Ariqun didn't have plumbing in their buildings. The shacks were simple but constructed with the idea of housing a Kelishe inside. There was room enough for one or two to live quite simply but comfortably. The furniture inside was also simple but comfortable. Tasha walked between the neat, orderly rows of huts until she found the new ones that housed the most recent arrivals. "Shall we try that one?" She asked, indicating a broad shack that likely housed two Tal-Vashoth.

#34 EChatty

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 04:40 PM

Maress waited while Tasha chose what to wear on their impending walk and smiled when she chose one of his favorite outfits. Once she packed up the snacks and water, he took that from her and matched her pace when they started walking to the Waterfront shacks. While they were simple in construction, they were still far better than what they had in their previous lives. Especially the Saarebas, who would have been locked in cages and would have been lucky to get a blanket to lie on. Not that they got much sleep with those heavy collars and muzzles they were forced to wear.

When they reached the Waterfront, they went to the most recent arrivals and she pointed at one of the residences. "A good place to start." He said. He then walked over to the door and knocked. He stepped back when a male Saarebas answered the door, looking slightly suspicious. "I am Maress Hawke." He introduced himself. It still felt strange to call himself by name, but it got easier every time he did it. He then indicated Tasha. "This is my wife, Tasha. We were just going around to see how the new arrivals were settling in."

*****************************************************

Damian was a bit startled when he heard the knock on the door, and he answered it, just a bit suspicious. But it was another Saarebas...a very powerful one, and he couldn't help but gawp a bit at him, especially when he introduced himself as Maress, the one who had inspired every other Saarebas who had gotten wind of his freedom to want it for themselves. He stood aside to let them come in. "I am Damian...Vallen." He said, still very unused to having his own name instead of the designation Saarebas. "We will be honored to have you in our home."

#35 RJDiogenes

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 04:46 PM

Having finished his breakfast, which consisted of a large local pastry which was filled with cinnamon and glazed with a white frosting, The Professor sat sipping his tea and waited patiently but eagerly to get a look at the mysterious Kilairi orb.  After giving a brief outline of her plans for the expedition that was about to begin, Elizabeth produced the orb and handed it over.  "Well, this is fascinating," he said, turning it around in his hands.  It is curiously light but the weight distribution does not feel hollow-- in fact it feels as though it gets denser toward the center. The characters around the circumference are somewhat familiar but do not spell out anything intelligible. They do, though, as you said, grow warmer to the touch.  What do you think, my dear?"

When the orb was produced, Eru quickly polished off her breakfast of bacon, ham, steak and Dimetrodon liver and wiped her hands.  "It must be an ancient dialect or a completely separate, but related, language that diverged from the version that we are more familiar with.  It's interesting that these two identical symbols on opposite sides are somewhat larger than the rest.  It's definitely Kilairi, but has an odd pinch to it.  Do you recognize it?"

"It resembles the symbol for archway, except for this little curly extension below the horizontal bar."

"Yes, that curly line looks familiar-- I think this is the symbol for 'touch' or 'press,' but reversed. If the symbols somehow reversed themselves after the linguistic branches split, this might be easier to read than we think."

"Indeed.  If that's the case, this may be the symbol for 'seven.'  And, look, this may be 'duration.'  And so it went for several minutes, their heads growing closer together and their mutterings growing less and less comprehensible to their companions until they finally sat up straight in triumph.

"That's it!" said Eru.  "Not 'reverse,' but 'repeat.'  It will be fascinating to see how these two dialects evolved differently.  Judging from the predominance of leftward curves, I'll bet their written documents read from left to right rather than right to left.  But in the meantime, I think we've figured out the activation sequence." She proceeded to touch the symbols around the circumference in a specific pattern for a certain number of beats per symbol-- then she simultaneously pressed the two larger symbols on opposite sides of the artifact.

"It's working," said Arjhay.  The surface of the globe began to glow brighter, brighter than it had in the past-- and, after several seconds, the surface began to grow transparent!

#36 Mikoto

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 07:32 PM

Elizabeth waited and watched while the Professor and Eru worked together to figure out the orb artifact. As she hoped, they partially translated the odd and unfamiliar dialect of ancient Kilairi writing on the orb and managed to activate it. She leaned forward eagerly as the orb began to glow brighter than it had before and seemed to almost turn transparent. In the centre of the Orb an image appeared. The image of a continent appeared within almost like a coloured map. At first she didn't recognise it. But then suddenly she spotted a bit of coastline that looked familiar. There were certain differences but the coastline looked very familiar. It was the coastal areas around Niobia and what was now Sandesina Empire territory. "I know some of that coastline." She pointed it out. "There are some changes but that's the coast of Sandesinan territories. This must be a map-a representation of the continent of Ariqua. At least a map of how it was over ten thousand years ago before the Kilairi disappeared." She mused. "Look, this continent is massive. We've only explored a tiny portion of it." Elizabeth was slightly awed.

Not only had they found a solid indicator of how much continent there was to explore but they had a fascinating snapshot of history. She could only wonder what they would find in the ancient ruins. "Its a mapping Orb." An unfamiliar voice told her. She looked over to see two Kilairi had entered the cafe while they had been busy looking at the orb. "We thought they were mythical." The little female Kilairi smiled. "My name is Lizara by the way. My companion and I are archaeologists and historians. We'd heard about the artifact you'd discovered and the ruins. We would very much like to accompany you. Perhaps we can help descipher and translate. We would not expect you to pay us." Despite her surprise Elizabeth saw little harm in letting some Kilairi accompany them. Perhaps Lizara was right and they might be able to help out. "Fair enough." She agreed. "You can come." While the two Kilairi climbed onto the table she returned her attention back to Arjhay and Eru. "Do you need more time to study the artifact or can we get underway?" She asked them.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tasha inclined her head to Damian and stepped inside the shack once he'd invited them in. She wasn't surprised to hear that the former Saarebas had a Sandesinan name. Often the Tal-Vashoth who came to Niobia had no names of their own-just the designation or job that they had performed while Ariqun. Taking names was often a strange concept to them. Once they were inside her attention was drawn from the neat, clean interior to one of the beds in the left rear corner. A female Kelishe lay on the bed, carefully stretched out and dozing. She was short for one of her species and not quite as well muscled as most of her kind. She had short beige coloured hair and bright orange eyes. Her horns were short and had clearly been clipped near the ends and filed down so they were blunt and useless as weapons. Tasha could instantly tell that the female was a former Saarebas.

She had a great many sores and scars around her neck and shoulders from the weight of the collar and harness Saarebas were forced to wear. But what made her frown was the amount of bruising that marred the female Kelishe's skin all over her body. Even worse were the bandages across her back in straight lines indicative of heavy whipping. She recognised the healing work of Kylen when she saw it but nevertheless she went over to the female and cautiously examined her. The way she was breathing slowly and evenly and the way her eyes were dull and glazed over meant that she was doped up on painkillers. "She's in terrible condition." Tasha said sympathetically. "Who is she? How did she get away from the Ariqun in this state?" She had her doubts that the female Kelishe could walk more than a few steps whilst so badly injured.

#37 EChatty

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Posted 21 July 2013 - 08:16 PM

Tevyn stared in fascination as the Professor and Eru worked on the orb until it began to glow brighter and brighter, until they could see another orb inside it, with pictures of land masses on it. Elizabeth then said she recognized the Sandesinan territories around Niobia. Then an unfamiliar voice broke in and said that the orb was a map making device and they all turned to see two Kilairi who asked to join their expedition, which Elizabeth immediately agreed to. Looked like their expedition was getting more and more interesting. He figured the little green beings were interested in why there were Kilairi ruins when there had been no records saying they'd even been here. But after ten thousand years, records were likely scarce, which would leave them scrambling for any information from their past. That it wasn't from the Ellecrys network, which he'd learned about after joining Elizabeth's expedition, was very interesting. What was it and what would they find?

He glanced over at Arlene and smiled. "Looks like this expedition is going to be interesting." He said.

Jhanell was fascinated by the orb when Eru managed to activate it and it began to glow. Then she could see the smaller orb inside it that had a large picture of a land mass on it. She could actually recognize Khajiitaar territory herself, the same as Elizabeth could recognize the Sandesinan territories. She could also see the Ariqun territories as well, and she wondered what the orb was and what it could be used for. Then she glanced over when a strange female spoke up and said that it was a map making orb and she couldn't help but stare at the little green beings. She had never seen anything like that in her life. Were these the Kilairi that had been spoken about? When Lizara said that they wanted to go help translate the ruins she figured they must be. They didn't look big enough to carry much, but she had learned long ago not to underestimate people, so she would study them as they traveled and see what the little beings were capable of herself.

Maress walked into the shack after Tasha and he looked around, frowning when he saw the female Saarebas. She was in terrible condition, in addition to her horns being clipped and filed. The male, Damian, had also had his horns clipped very close to his head, likely by the Arvaarad. Maress had been lucky in that respect. While he'd had his share of beatings his Arvaarad had not clipped his horns, but rather padded them well so that he couldn't use them. Some Arvaarads preferred clipping since it could take a year or more before the horns would grow back out. The male was also showing signs of recently-healed beatings. Maress couldn't help the rage that was building up inside him at how very badly the female was injured and he waited while Tasha examined her and asked Damien who she was and how she escaped. He was wondering that himself.

******************************

Damian waited while Tasha examined Claire and he could see that she knew the healing arts like the Elviri, Kylen, who had come to treat her after they arrived. When Tasha asked who she was and how she escaped he smiled faintly. "Her chosen name is Claire." He said. "She was a Saarebas in the same village as I was and we escaped together. Ever since we heard about Maress, all we could think about was having the same freedom that he and the other Tal Vashoth were being offered here. Then we found out some of the others also weren't happy, so we started planning and exchanging notes. Unfortunately, just a day before we were going to leave, her Arvaarad decided to beat her until she could no longer stand, so I carried her until we were safely in the forest, then we put her on a makeshift litter and took turns carrying her until we got here. I did the best I could to take care of her until your healer could see her. He's left me medicines and bandages and showed me what to do to make her well and I've been following those instructions." This was all so new, usually they would be left to heal with little in the way of help, and then they would be beaten again. It was the Arvaarad's way of keeping them weak enough to control. It would just about kill him to see Claire injured and helpless, but he could do nothing for her, but now he could and he was going to make sure that she got everything she needed to heal.

#38 RJDiogenes

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Posted 22 July 2013 - 06:47 PM

"Do you need more time to study the artifact or can we get underway?" Elizabeth asked them.

"I see no problem in getting underway," replied The Professor, still studying the orb intently.  "I can walk and study at the same time. And, while I can't vouch for my companion, I can pick her up if need be."

Rolling her eyes, Eru muttered, "At least I know what year it is."

"May I travel beside you to observe the images in the orb?"  the second of the little Kilairi inquired of Arjhay and Eru.  "My name is Boday and I have long had an interest in observing geography from a great height. I once built a vehicle that floated in the air under a large bag filled with hot air, and I survived when it crashed."

The Professor looked up briefly at the little person, blinked a couple of times, and went back to studying the orb. "Certainly," he said.  "Nice to meet you. For a moment I thought you were Dobay, a Kilairi I met while visiting the ruins of Majtahal.  Remind me to tell you about him someday.

Eru sighed and said, "That was Daboy and we were visiting Marblehenge."

#39 Mikoto

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Posted 24 July 2013 - 01:32 PM

Tasha finished her examination and stepped back. "I chose to become a physician like Kylen Mahariel." She said simply. "Claire is recovering well. It was very un-Ariqun of you and the others to stop and carry an injured person out of danger like that." She complimented him. Then the injured female on the bed blinked and looked around, evidently deciding to speak. "I was beaten because the Avaraad noticed that I was attracted to Damian." She explained in a slurred, dopey way that proved she was impaired by the painkillers she was being given.Tasha smiled at the inadvertant revelation. "If you like each other then you should choose each other." She advised. "I chose Maress and he chose me. Its how I got these." She rubbed her large stomach. "We even get to keep the children and raise them as we see fit." She added.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"All right." Elizabeth paid for her breakfast, as did the others and they went outside to where the mule, horses and their packs were waiting. She made sure that the straps were secure and her horse, a big gray male, were ready before climbing on. The little female Kilairi climbed up onto the horse behind her and held on. It seemed a wise thing to do since she was too small for her own horse. The Expedition rode out of Niobia and were soon heading along the road at a good pace set by their horses and the mule. Elizabeth had the route set out in her head and on a map so she knew where they were going. They would ride along the roads for awhile until they got close to the ruins. Then they would have to leave their horses at a waypoint trading hut before continuing on foot with the mule. The trip would take several days all in all so she'd made sure that everyone was well prepared.

#40 EChatty

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Posted 24 July 2013 - 04:13 PM

Damian couldn't help but gawp in surprise when Tasha told them that they would get to keep their children. There was so much here that was different that it would take quite some time before they would get used to any of it. But in the time they had been here, they had been treated no differently from anyone else. He knew he was going to have to start training with the military psions so that he could better control his abilities, but they weren't going to be collared or leashed any longer. That he was the reason that she had been beaten so badly made him wish that he'd killed that particular Arvaarad, but he took solace in the knowledge that she would never suffer at the hands of another one. Conversely, if his Arvaarad had seen his attraction to her, he likely would have suffered a terrible beating as well, in his attempt to 'beat it out of him'. But if Tasha had been allowed to choose a Saarebas, and Saarebas were free now, then he should be free to choose her. "That is why I would not leave her behind." He said. "And if she will have me, I will be glad to stay with her."

************************************************

Maress could hardly contain the angry growl that rose in his throat when he found out why Claire had been beaten so badly. And it seemed that Damian felt the same way, which was why he had made it a point to carry her out, even though doing so had probably slowed them down. He smiled at the astonished look on Damian's face when Tasha mentioned their twins. "Yes, you will be allowed to keep your children." He said. "You will be able to do anything you want to do, within the law."

Tevyn paid for his and Arlene's breakfast before they went outside and got onto their horses. Then he watched as the female Kilairi got on behind her to ride and the male climbed onto someone else's horse to ride with them. He then took charge of the mule's lead rope while Elizabeth led them out onto the road to begin their journey to the ruins. At least it was going to be a nice day for a ride. He glanced up at the pretty, almost cloudless sky and then he smiled at Arlene as they rode along.

Jhanell paid for her breakfast, and then she went outside and untied her plain brown, but sturdy horse from the hitching rail. She'd rented the horse from the livery stable for this expedition since she didn't normally need a horse for anything else. She rode along at the back of the group to keep an eye out for danger from that point and adjusted her water flask to be more comfortable. Normally she never required much on trips like this, except for sufficient food and water and a bedroll to sleep on. When it wasn't too dangerous she liked to sleep out in the open, in the jungle, she sometimes chose a sturdy tree branch or she made a temporary nest between two branches. Up there like that, it would give her a chance to look out for danger from above when they camped for the night.


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