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The Unlikely Adventure of the Crystal Cactuar

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Special thanks to one Verad Bellveil, without whose 'Plot Device' this tale wouldn't be possible. Transcribed to the best of my modest ability from an RP between Rivi's player, Panha's player, and myself. Will be updated at least once weekly.


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Leatherbound, nearly archaic in appearance, this book rests upon her lap this evening. The moon's silver glow penetrates through the crevices of the canopy that swayed above her head. Mottled shadows caressed her skin, which had been stroked by streaks of mud to help her conceal her appearance during her investigation. Her patrol had long ended and the monumental tree provided support for her exhausted limbs. Here, with the cool grass underneath, she took a moment to read the journal she managed to save from her brother's belongings. It was a window to his life, a life she was not able to be a part of. His writing was not eloquent in the least, which made her chuckle a few times, despite how grim a few of his tales were. Songs were scribbled. poems, random thoughts.


However, it was the details about her own shrouded history that she eagerly sought with each turn of the page. So engrossed she was that her defenses were taken down for this period of time and she did not hear the sound of footfalls carried out into the winds until it was a few paces behind the tree she was perched underneath. If Avenger was present, she would have been alerted sooner.


Quick to gather herself up, the book is settled underneath the gnarled, uprooted portions of the tree. Deftly, fingers danced along the blades of grass, soon taking a hold of her bow while the other waltzed over one of the arrows, which had long spilled from her quiver. The loincloth worn billowed between naked legs, only concealed by leather boots, which halted their ascension at her calves. The breeze tossed aside her golden strands, long disheveled by her endeavors. Golden eyes, which pierced the darkness, searched for the source. Not one, but two footsteps were coming in quickly; mumbles were carried into the very currents that graced her features.


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Panha let out a squeak, arms flailing as she stumbled forward several paces. She had the presence of mind, at least, to throw her hands out to catch the trunk of a nearby tree before she fell to the ground. Frustrated, she let out something resembling a groan mixed with a whine.


The male halted in mid-step with a glance at her over his shoulder. "Eh? What's the deal?" His hair was shagging in his eyes even more than usual, one completely covered. But the irritable look in the one that was visible was unmistakable.


"I'm just -fine-, don't worry about -me-," she muttered through clenched teeth as she pulled herself to her full height. His expression changed, but only to a blank stare as he continued to stand and watch her. Males were so infuriating! "I tripped over a root, or something.. Kendha'to," she mumbled, eyeing the ground.


Ken rubbed a hand through his hair and sighed. "I swear," he growled, resuming his brisk pace. "What a clumsy girl. Bah.. Too much time getting soft at that academy of yours. Gonna have to talk t'Kiht, get her to toughen you up--"


Panha couldn't take any more. "Listen, you," she hissed, rushing to catch up with him and match his pace. "Don't take this out on me. YOU'RE the one who took that jewel, and YOU'RE the one who told that Ranger about the ruins. This entire thing is your fault!"


Kendha'to ducked his head as they continued on, no rebuttal forthcoming. "Yeah," he murmured. "Pointy eared bastard. Hope he's all right."


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Rivienne, whose senses were focused solely on the wind and the words carried into them, heard the words shared. She readied her bow and arrow and began to take aim in the dark in the direction of the two. Upon listening further, she released the breath held within her lungs and relaxed her tense shoulders. Their footing was light, one apparently tripped from the sound of it, not far from where she was standing. Now, usually, she would sink back into the shadows and remained hidden, but their conversation rang clear in the night air and caught her interest when the female of the two spoke of a ranger.


She only knew of one ranger in particular, and it had been several suns since his handsome face had made an appearance. Curious, and unable to ignore such, she began to walk briskly, on her toes to conceal her footsteps, to intercept them from venturing further. They had been walking ever so close to where she was and it only took a few steps for her to stand in their path. Her bow and arrow were pointed to the Earth, as to not alarm them.


"Two souls venturing in the dark woods, alone? Luckily, my arrow did not take flight -- for I almost mistook you both for poachers, or bandits." There came a pause and she stepped forth slowly. "Tell me --what is this about a ranger?" Her voice was rich in the dark, and as the wind brushed against the leaves and branches, silver light barely luminated her form. "Mind speaking his name, to sate my curiosity?"


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Kendha'to narrowed his eyes, thrusting one hand back in a signal to Panha for her to stop and to be silent. He smelled.. something. Leather, mingled with sweat, and something he didn't recognize. It could have been a Wailer.. or..


His hand slipped to the hilt of the dagger he kept hidden beneath the back of his tunic, slipping it into the thong worn on his wrist - similarly hidden inside his sleeve. When the elezen emerged, he would appear - he hoped - to simply be an unarmed traveler, his hands in the air in a display of peace. He heard Panha give a quiet gasp behind him at the sight of the woman. Ken gave her a wary, measured look as if debating something inwardly. If she heard that much, then no doubt she'd heard more - perhaps including his mention of pointed ears. Hnn, must be a companion of his, or something, he decided.


"Yvelont Navarre," he spoke slowly, fingers of his right hand tensing - just in case a quick grab for his weapon proved necessary.


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The huntress was watching him like a true bird of prey. Her gaze of gold were glittering spheres, glowing underneath the moon's grace. There was no amiable smile on her lips, no expression touched her features. Lashes descend slightly, allowing her to veil the curious gaze. Quickly, she shifts her gaze from Ken to the female Miqo'te and that is when her red lips pulled to their corners.


The earth underneath her was soft on heels whilst circling now, looking them both over. She was not concerned about the woman, but the male of this duo had her attention. With her bow pointed to the ground, she halted in her steps when he spoke.


And what came out of his mouth changed the scene entirely.


With one fluid motion, with a serpent's quick attack, the bow was lifted and her arrow was notched in place, taking aim at him. Yvelont's name made her brazenly step forth; she appeared taller, her shadow spreads behind her ominously.


"Ser Navarre, where is he? Where is that 'pointed eared bastard'.." Her voice held little sweetness, bitter and strong, it had a guttural growl of an animal behind it, one hungry for an attack. "What have ye done to him, choose thine words.. wisely." Her thoughts ran rampant; was he troubled? Why had she not gone with him? And just how did these two get involved.


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"We haven't 'done' anything to him--" Panha began to protest, but a sharp motion from Ken cut her off sharply. Her ears lowered as she slumped to her knees, distraught.


Kendha'to stared at the elezen woman for a long moment. His voice was evenly measured, low so that she would have to focus above all else on listening to his voice. "I can only guess that you are a friend to the Ranger. We have not harmed him, but he did come to us in search of information."


An eyebrow quirked, a meaningful glint in his eye. "Has 'Ser Navarre' ever spoken to you of a crystal cactuar?"


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Her heart was a deafening beat in her ears as the continous thoughts of the ranger plagued her mind -- all non too positive. Hearing the female, her eyes sharply turned to her direction but did not linger long. Should she believe them? Truly? The thought crossed her mind, but she had to push it aside. These strangers knew something, however, and she was ready to find the truth behind their words.


Another languid step forward and she was hovering almost over the male Miqo'te, boring her gaze into his own. Her temper's heat radiates from her very being, and one wrong thing could easily had set her off. "Ye guessed correct, though he made little mention about thee. I would have been well aware." She was focused on his voice, her own was just as low, but remained unfriendly. What information had he been looking for that was not shared with her?


Oh --


The crystal cactuar.


"That blasted trinket sold by some dubious merchant. What does it have to do with him and the reason why he does not stand here next to thee?"


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His arms folded in front of his chest as he stared up at her, unflinching. "We're travelers," he explained patiently, jerking his head towards Panha."Explorers.." He grunted, then growled softly, "..of a sort." Shaking his head briefly, he continued. "Long story. But the short of it is, there's some legend about that 'trinket.' Something involving the 'Summoning of Gigantuar.' -She- translated what she could." Again, he motioned towards Panha, who was now covering her face with her hands.


She spoke through her fingers. "And when we came back, I.. maybe.. sort of put the word out that we were looking for a crystal cactuar. That's when Yvelont made it known he had it in his possession. And now that thrice-damned Seeker woman has sailed off with him, probably back to that swiving island." She covered her mouth as the coarse word escaped her lips, then sagged into her hands again. "I'm so sorry. I should've known she was trouble."


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This was unbelievable. Rivienne had half a mind to simply shake the truth out of them. A Gigantuar. She must have 'fool' painted across her face. But there was no sense of humor that could be felt in the air; these two were actually serious, which made this worse. Anger flared in her eyes as she looked away, into the darkness. Her weapon was lowered, but only slightly.


"Ye are telling me, and correct me if I misunderstood.." She started out slow as her voice was carried out into the cool currents. "..This trinket is the centerpiece of some summoning, that you let it known that that this was being sought after. Yet he is out there, with knowledge on what this could do?"


She slowly faced Pan'ha and approached her, tilting her head while her lean, tall frame, leans forward in one swift motion. The scent of the forest clung to Rivienne like a lover; it was in her hair, lingering on her skin. The warmth of her breath would have brushed over the Miqo'te's countenance if it wasn't for the wind brushing over them both.


"Who was this Seeker, where is this island and how long ago was this," she had a steely gaze that sought hers, wishing to penetrate her eyes to dig for the truth behind them.

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