Nov 29, 2022 7:52 PM
An unsuspecting box finds itself in the Serpent Isles
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A small bronze box washes ashore. While it's an odd bit of cargo to wind up overboard, it looks perfectly innocuous, if sturdy and water tight.

Then the box drags itself further inland, and opens.

Inside is an amulet, resting comfortably on a tidal map. Next to it (her actually, thank you) is a compass. She's in the right area, she thinks, but sailing's hard enough even when one's vessel isn't a literal box thrown into the ocean, she's probably not quite where she intended to be just yet.

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The amulet floats out of its box, and inside it materializes a young woman standing on the sand, peering around herself. She's clearly some kind of spirit, with the pointed ears, dark purple hair, and glowing violet eyes, but for a spirit she looks human enough. A bit too well dressed for an ordinary one, but it's tasteful, if extravagant. The backless gown reveals a dark stain on her shoulder blade, and there are dark marks that look like blackened tearstains, under her eyes. Around her neck is the amulet that rested in the box.

Sure, she could survey the area without manifesting, but after days of being cooped up in a tiny box, she kind of missed having a body.

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She finds herself on the sandy shore of a small beach surrounded by towering cliffs covered in plant life and moss. The beach is south-facing, and the open ocean is what greets her, though if she peers around the cliffs she will be able to spot ships not too far away to the east. There is a small pass in the cliffs, wide enough for two people to walk side-by-side, which winds in that direction also.

There's definitely nothing that looks or feels like it should be called "Black Mist" anywhere around, though.

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Yeah, she probably got a bit off course. Sailing is hard enough normally, and this is distinctly not that, and she doesn’t have any experience anyway.

She picks up her box and tucks it under her arm, then heads off to the pass to see about finding the locals.

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The pass is not actually very long, and after a few snaky twists she emerges from a secluded hole in the wall that is actually pretty hard to see from the outside, hidden behind bushes and trees. But past those she can see...

...a port city.

The towering cliffs seem to be a recurring motif, but that has not stopped these people from settling; if anything, they took it as a challenge and filled every sufficiently horizontal surface with buildings. A bustling port is an easy walk away from where she emerged from, but the city goes well into the island and around the bay. The architectural style is not entirely consistent, ramshackle wooden huts placed side-by-side with three-story alehouses slash inns in sturdy stone, and it speaks of a settlement of pirates and ne'er-do-wells, hopefuls wishing to try to make their fortune, and shades haunted by pasts they seek to escape in a lawless country.

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Definitely not the Shadow Isles. Oh well. She is always free to ask for directions now that she's here.

She'll walk to the nearby port, and attempt to find a local or two.

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It's mid-morning, and the port has been up for business for the past several hours. Her clearly-nonhuman visage draws some stares, especially with the dark aesthetic, but once it becomes clear there's no Black Mist trailing off her or anything people shrug it off.

This is Bilgewater, purple ladies with billowing dresses and glowing violet eyes are not the strangest thing these people have seen.

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Huh. That's convenient. She'd have gotten more than just stares, elsewhere. That narrows down the potential places she could be.

She looks for someone that looks vaguely authoritative, like a guard or a ship captain or something. Are one of those available and not looking particularly busy?

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The closest thing this place has to guards are the people who seem to be hired security for each of the ships, and those don't look busy except for being at attention to look for threats. Any ship captains in view are actively giving people orders, but it's only a minority of ships that have those; most others are probably in an alehouse or another, or perhaps a brothel.

There is a distinct lack of anything that could be reasonably thought to be employed by a central authority, though.

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Hmmmm.

She'll try an alehouse, she supposes? Since there isn't any kind of central authority, she'll aim for ship captains and navigators.

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Alehouses abound! If she goes for the fanciest one she spots, one where the paint is almost not chipped at all, she'll find it very busy, even though it is midmorning. Pirates, sailors, navigators, captains, those are probably all there, from what she can see. If wealth indicates anything, the captains are the ones with fancy rings and necklaces, although perhaps those could be merchants. They'll certainly be the ones who can actually defend those possessions if need be, which is the most important form of power this place recognises.

There's nothing like a generalised hush while people take her in and assess her as a threat, but the chatter does get a little bit more subdued for a second or two before everyone there reaches the same conclusion the people outside did and turns back to whatever they were doing.

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Great! She'll just, uh. ... Pick an intelligent looking person with nice possessions and attempt to strike up a conversation.

"Hi, excuse me, do you have a minute?" she asks someone that looks like they aren't super busy.

(Haha, she has no idea what she's doing, she would literally be having an easier time of it if she'd found the murderous zombies.)

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The person she approaches had been quietly nursing a large mug of something - rum, probably, and the strong kind, if her nose is any guide. There's actually a bit of space around her table, now that Avedra's paying attention. It can't be just because of the two large pistols hanging from her belt, as plenty of other patrons, including the two quiet, burly men sitting with her, are carrying just as much if not more. Still, she commands a certain presence.

She turns to look at Avedra, taking a second to take a good look at her from head to toe and back, then cocks her head and says, "I'd usually ask what it's worth to you but you look interestin'. Speak."

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The dark and well dressed woman smiles pleasantly and takes a seat. She sets her box gently on the table and folds her hands.

"Well if it's interesting you're after, I'll get straight to the point and tell you I'm trying to sail my vessel to the Shadow Isles."

She then waits for the reaction, because this is probably the stupidest thing this woman has ever heard.

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From her reaction - an eyebrow lifted until it hides behind her bangs - it may not be.

From the reaction of the two men sitting there, who had turned their full attention on Avedra the moment she sat, it probably is. They freeze, and now there's a hush, at least from the people who were close enough to hear her despite the background noise.

"Girl, I'll also cut to the point with ya. Whoever sold you that little bauble," and she nods and looks in the direction of the amulet Avedra is wearing, "probably robbed you blind. It can help a bit with the Black Mist, aye, but not enough to set sail to the eye of the storm. You're lookin' for trouble, and I hear your kind's not treated nice by it."

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"I agree that it couldn't provide enough protection to shield a wearer from the Black Mist for any extended period of time," she says placidly, smiling a like there's a joke only she gets. "Even a spirit. Fortunately! I am not one of those. Not properly, anyway. And I have it on very good authority that the amulet itself can withstand at least thirty years of practically drowning in the stuff."

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The woman keeps peering at Avedra for a couple seconds more then shrugs and lifts her mug to her lips again. "Your funeral." After taking a swig of the vile substance she sets the mug down and says, "So what do you want? You won't be findin' anyone hereabouts who'll sail there for love nor money."

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"I wouldn't ask anyone to. I'd just like directions! Which isle am I on, exactly?"

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"...sweetheart, did you hit your head or somethin'? This is Bilgewater Bay."

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"Not precisely. I'm just not a very experienced sailor, and my vessel is quite peculiar. Thank you very much, I'd thought so but it's important to be sure." She opens her box and breaks out her tide map, peering at it thoughtfully. Hmm... since she's already asking for help: "I'll give you a protection enchantment if you can help me chart my course. It'll last a couple months at best, less if you go and fight a spirit or wizard or something."

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Now she's looking interested. She leans forward and rests her chin on the back of one hand, propped up on her elbow, eyes piercing when she asks, "Now what sorts of enchantment are we talkin' here, lass? That little trinket of yours ain't worth much, but if you can do better I'm sure I can find some buyers."

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"Excuse me, my trinket is a one of a kind treasure and furthermore exorbitantly expensive," she sniffs, a little offended. "And I'd be enchanting an object of your choice with the shitty knockoff version. It'd be a manavore based enchantment, absorbing ambient magical energy in a small area around the wearer. Obviously breaking faster if exposed to more energy. Though if you want it to keep longer, I'm sure you can put it in a lined box to stop it from eating anything it's not supposed to."

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"Got a way to prove you can do that?"

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"I can enchant it now, let you test it however you like, and renew it back to its original state once you're done. And of course if you renege I will break it and find someone else."

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"You know, I've decided I like you. Show me."

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“Do you have a bauble on you that you’d like enchanted? Preferably something that doesn’t corrode or break easily, this won’t do a thing for the object’s durability. A coin would do, if nothing else.”

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