Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Eviledd1984
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Ezekiel looked disappointed that Ember was not going to go with him. However, it was understandable that he would be tired from the shipwreck. “We understand that you need rest, we are sure you would be okay with us venturing out with the others.” He turned his head towards the more shocked survivors, they would be a nuisance, to say the least. They would be acting more erratic and potentially a hindrance to his plan. “We are looking for a particular book, this book has an incantation that could help me find the lost city of Hyel’r. The same underwater city where Kathai the star child sleeps.” Ezekiel probably thought that Ember did not know much about the Ancient Ones. Not many people know of them, except those connected to the E’tha.

When his conversation with Ember was finished, he started helping bury the dead. Making sure to give them a shallow grave, so that it was easier for him to retrieve them later. Ignoring the strange looks he was getting from the other survivors.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by spiral origin
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The sound of breaking bark cracked in the air as the tree Wheelo had given the fatal elbow fell onto the forest floor with a leafy slam. Birds squawked, fleeing in droves in the chaotic aftermath, and a mossy green deer-like creature scampered out into view. It gave the wheeled man a manic glance before hopping back into the depths of the forest. Meanwhile the glimmer of a shadow seemed to zip into Wheelo's peripheral vision for a split second; it seemed to come from a cluster of trees some distance away, though it was hard to tell if it was just a stray bird or falling branch.

Before long the surroundings seemed to settle back into its natural state, though perhaps with increased rustling of bushes near the fallen tree. Still, Wheelo felt that same strange sense of being watched from somewhere. It seemed whoever or whatever was watching him wished to continue remaining hidden--that is, if he wasn't imagining it in the first place.
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At Sonia's request that he stay at the camp, the old man calling himself Gideon gave the demoness a hard yet thoughtful stare, his grim wrinkles seemingly pronounced. After a few moments of contemplation and looking back at the camp, he turned back to her adamantly.

"They should be fine. Those sailors seem capable enough, and they've got that swordsman and that mage."

His expression softened for a moment, as if it never had before, as Gideon gazed at the woods with a hint of fondness.

"I used to be an adventurer, y'know. Kinda miss those days. They were simpler times. It'll be good for me to go. You all could use the help. We don't know what's out there."

So it was decided that the old man would join the expedition party, and after some preparation, the group headed off into the woods.

* * *

The forest seemed typical enough for a forest, though surely most everyone had noticed the peculiarities of the place, most notably the strange flora and fauna, ranging from oddly shaped ferns that resembled prehistoric plants to insect cocoons the size of forearms. There was also that disturbingly subtle whirling hum in the air, that didn't seem all that natural in the midst of a forest. The smells too, were mildly unfamiliar, albeit wholly wild, almost pungently so. Wyland had commented that the place reminded him of his aunt Olga's, though a tad tidier in comparison.

The female sailor, who had divulged her name to be Natali, was focused on the trek, though her curiosity seemed to get the best of her on more than one occasion when she would stop to observe something in equal parts wonder and disturbance. Gideon in the meantime showed no signs of being particularly unsettled, donning his typical hard grimace at every turn.

After traversing deeper into the woods, the group indeed found traces of a river, and soon enough the sound of flowing water was within ear's reach. The glimmer of the stream shortly made it's appearance, flowing from inland out towards the general direction of the beach. Fresh water came at a most welcome sight to the travelers, as they were eager to collect it between their hands to wash their faces and taste its wonderful ordinariness. Water was water and it was good.

Glancing down at the running stream with a smile, Natali was reaching down for a drink before she suddenly noticed something that made her flinch backwards with a gasp. Apparently, submerged beneath the shallow stream where she was reaching was the body of a human. Well, more like a skeleton at this point, as decomposition seemed to have taken its course quite some time ago. The person was wearing some kind of uniform-like outfit that seemed a bit ragged for modern times, but surely they had originated from known civilization. On the moss-covered coat of their jacket was a cryptic symbol--faded yet unmistakable--a stylized eye angled at 45 degrees, contained within a four-pointed concave star. The skeletal remains lay there unmoving against the force of the stream, as the group examined it with troubled expressions.
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Pakde
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A strong feeling of fear was punching her guts when she learned that some of her teammates had already taken a few sips from the same water where the skeleton was. Sonia clutched her crossbow tighter than ever, eyes regularly shifting between them and the surrounding foliage with sheer cautiousness, expecting an ambush jumping out of the shrubs, or witnessing one of these explorers throwing up and slumping down after gulping questionable water.

A few moments passed, nothing happened and the fear subsided.

"Everyone, check your surroundings."

The instruction was delivered with sufficient alertness, one that quickly conveyed the seriousness of the situation, but did not instill unnecessary consternation. After all, it was just a dead body, and that alone invited a lot of possibilities to think about. Few of it was not very pleasant.

"Do you see anything out of the ordinary?"

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, and they reported that with troubled looks, making Sonia feel like she was overreacting. She did not explain the possibility that this place may have been rigged with traps, and now with everything seeming safe and clear, it would serve no purpose to explain why she felt so agitated.

Sighing to calm herself, Sonia noticed that her party members seemed all too keen to inspect the skeletonized remains, and thus, came another question she had no answer for.

"Now what are we going to do with that poor fella?"

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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Grade
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Sounds of loud thuds, smaller wooden thuds and varying loudnesses of slithering could be heard approaching the campfire. In the distance, it's almost visible that trees are getting suddenly impacted, and leaves fall down as they violently shake.

Eventually, the black-haired man on a wheelchair emerges, and he sees a reduced number of people in the campsite. He glances around, spotting Ember first, and so he drops the chain he held attached to a bear trap gobbling the bottom trunk of the tree he decapitated minutes ago and elected not to waste, and then slowly approached the nauseated person sitting near a campfire.

"Scalding Ember. Where did they go?"

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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by A5G
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"Looks like we ain't the first here." Verdant whistled as she eyed the skeleton, before turning her glance somewhere else. The woods felt ancient in a way, but there's no threat in the direct vicinity. As much as a wild forest can contain no threat anyway - who knows what insect or illness lurk all around them. But for whatever responsible over the poor sod underwater, well, chance were it's no longer around.

"Fella likely died further upstream. The corpse bloat and float down until it burst and sink here some time ago. Cant be sure how long, but it takes time for moss to grow on the shirt." Another mystery, then. What was upstream? Would there be other people? Yet a community wouldn't normally leave their dead out like that. "We should take a closer look. Mayhaps guess what exactly done him in."

Wild animal, or other people? Wild animal bold or desperate enough to attack humans wouldn't waste the meat, and wouldn't toss the remains into a water source. People, then? Hopefully people. Maybe there's a way out of this island sooner after all.
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"Smouldering dahling... Smouldering..." ember cooed, despite the nausea. The nausea still made it into the tone, despite his best efforts. "... And I don't recall giving you a card--- Quite impressive though, a man in a chair, felling a tree like that."

He sucked in a deep breath. Slowly but surely, he could feel his own vigor returning.

"Sonia took a brawny bunch with her some time ago. I'd have joined them if I had been up to it, but sadly... That she-bitch of the saline persuasion took a bit more out of me than I imagined possible-- but I should be recovered enough to actually be useful here in a bit. Until then, I will busy myself with this light work."
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Grade
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"The chair's not a factor in my abilities..."

The black-haired man on a wheelchair moves closer to this person sitting on her luggage, parallel facing the campfire. His head turns between the campfire and Ember, and in search of that widow and her child whose issues seem to have been placated. "I see. Would you allow me to aid you in this light work? I'd like to make amends for when I barged into your quarters without plea, and to fix my image in your eyes because I am not a pervert."

He removes his gloves and pulls back his sleeves, revealing hands and arms made of ceramic. He drops from his chair, kneels and holds his hands into the fire, absorbing some of its energy. "You attract me, I will admit, but never to a point where I'd lose any such self-control." Orange glows emanate from the linear cracks in his skin, crawling from his hands towards his torso where some kind of core must be, for something of his make.

He falls back and sits unkempt while reaching again for a flask in his coat. He pulls down his face covering, and drinks the last bit of water-like liquid from the flask. Fully empty. He shakes it for the last few drops, and puts it back in his coat. "By the way, I did borrow the card you gave the woman named DeVespe, which... I don't think I've seen her nearby so far."

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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Pakde
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"Indeed we are not..." Sonia pondered. What mystery awaited them upstream? Could be civilization or the opposite; unsavory locals with a penchant for foreigner's flesh and blood. Such presumptuous assumptions dawned from her limited knowledge about the tropical realm and what dwells within it.

"It could be a man killing another," she murmured, watering down the visceral chronology Verdan had just described with premature deduction. "Or he ate the wrong mushroom and died here after thinking he could wash it down with water."

The alternative seemed equally possible with the former. If the man was killed by another human, be it a desperate survivor or rabid tribesmen, they would have taken his coat. Clothing, after all, was a precious commodity if you were in the middle of nowhere.

"We should take a closer look. Mayhaps guess what exactly done him in."

"If I were you I would let the dead be at rest." Sonia shrugged, yet still upholding her ambivalent neutrality. "But that's just me."

The demoness walked upstream, a good half dozen meters away from the skeleton's resting place. There she unfastened her belt and undressed, leaving her trusty crossbow on the riverbank as she took a dip into the river and wash the burning salt off her skin. The water was cold and so clean she could see the riverbed, too bad it was too shallow to swim.

Giving her hair a good rinsing, Sonia finally felt like a civilized person again. However, as much as she loved a good bathing session, she tried to not enjoy it too much, at least for now. There was a remnant of a dead people just a few meters ahead, and they were still within an unknown territory. Besides, they have reached their objective, it was time to go back and report their findings. She bet the flamboyant mage would flip upon hearing it.

After washing her dress, Sonia climbed up and twisted her only clothes before wearing them again, smiling as she thanked Rayland for keeping eye on the surroundings.

"The water is good. If you want to have a quick soak, well, do it now and take your time. Just keep in mind that we need to go back soon."

And with that, she slung her crossbow and had it at the ready.

Hidden 3 mos ago Post by wierdw
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Ember heaved a big, weary sigh.

"Being beautiful's my BUSINESS dahling. If you weren't at least a little intrigued, I didn't do a good job-- but from now on, mind mine and other's privacy-- rest assured, when I'm not sunburnt and seasoaked, the fire I conjure is a lot hotter than that little potwarmer dahling. Even a construct might find it unpleasant.'

Ember tilted his head discretely. He had head rumors of sentient constructs, and read treatises on simple ones used as 'anchor prostheses' for mages who had, through one way or another, been 'discorporeated'. Some magicians in poor health used them as proxies with powerful sending circles to do daily tasks while their withered bodies stayed home. Then there was the nasty business of killer magicians using them as disposable muscle. He discretely wondered which this individual was, but felt best not to pry. Surely one animated by a sending would just be written off, and a new one constructed... maybe this one was sentimental, or specially prepared somehow? Surely, this wasn't a mythical homunculus doll... surely not.

Artificial souls were mere conjecture!

'Oh well-- FINE. Just never do it again.'

Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Grade
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"Bah. Threats." He tited his head up then fell back-first on the sandy floor. "I only did it that one time, I was too preoccupied to know if someone was in the roo-- Whatever, these excuses matter little to anybody."

He raised his left arm up, his hand wide open. Rays of the sun peering through his hand, through the leaves way above it, hitting his ivory eyes directly. He puts his gloves on one by one and unfolds his sleeves, and soon he notices Ember staring at him, possibly analyzing his humonculous nature, and so he tilts his head to look at her and she averts her discrete gaze and speaks.

"... I won't," he replies. Either a resignment of pride, or refrain from further argument, but that's that.

"I do want you to hit me with your conjured fire, though." He pushes back up with his arms, his torso slanted and head tilted back facing her. "Let me feel your actual power, not that of a mere showman who creates bubbles and fog in excess."
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by wierdw
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Ember momentarily had a quixotic expression,but quickly suppressed it.

"You want me to --- Wait, are you trying to get me to sever your connection, and send you home? Is that it? Smash up your "china doll" enough that the sending fails? --- Why ever would I do that?" ember cooed naughtily, then smiled even more wickedly.

"Or is there some OTHER reason you want me to make a glowing hole where your chest is? In either case, it would take a great deal of explanation to my companions here why I had done so..."
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Grade
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The black-haired man snickered, pieces of his face sliding apart to form somewhat of a smile, hearing of this potential 'glowing hole' in his torso. "I'm sure I would've been able to survive it."

His 'smile' dissipated as he climbed back up his chair and moved beside Ember. "No, I was looking to ingest your discharge, actually. My mana's running low and I need it to move around. It's a net negative for me to even swing my arm, we don't regenerate it with our stomachs like you do. Plus there's..."

"Not really much connection left back home. As far as being cryogenized goes, it's just me here right now."

The backrest of his wheelchair descended slightly, setting him slouched. "I suppose it's a bit heinous to try to extract from an already nauseated woman. I apologize."

An awkward delay.

"Is Ember your actual name?"
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by wierdw
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"A rose by any other name, smells just as sweetly dahling. I am who i choose to be. You cant get more liberated than that."

ember smiled.

"As for looking for a 'recharge', you're barking up the wrong magician right now. Besides, I'm not going to pop my wand on someone like you dahling. My REAL power cannot be properly... Conducted... by a mere sentimental trinket like this dear. I packed lightly, for a vacation-- not a bloody war. Cough up a proper focus, and we'll business."

Ember smiled wickedly.

"No? Well then. I think that would be all."
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Grade
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"You can't just ask for a foc-- All of them require sentimental value. Are you sure it's even you and not the focii you use? You seem to place them on too high of a pedestal."

Nary an inch of movement. Seems like the black-haired man on a wheelchair has gone full standby to recuperate his losses. A more discerning person would detect a mosquito merely hover nearby and subsequently fall down, dead.

"Henri. My name. Some might call me 'Wheelo' or 'Carter' right now though, for I told them these as my name. It... Yes, okay, I didn't think these names through, don't mock it."
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"Oh? You think so do you, "henri"? well then..."

Ember discretely put the wand down, and extended his bare hand.

"I need the focus for control-- It's a tool-- an instrument. It's useless without the hand of the musician-- but if you want to see what I myself am--- "

Ember grinned mischievously. He was CERTAIN this would knock him back down again, and kick him in the balls hard for doing, but this little shit needed the lesson.

with a sudden thrust of his right hand, he placed it palm down on the man's chest, then inhaled more than just the air. The fire sputtered and threatened to die, and the sky seemed to lose some of its azure hue, while ember himself seemed to practically intensify in the color of his hair, lips, and eyes-- a technicolor spectacle, as a huge sum of the ambient, native magic in the vicinity got drawn toward and into him.

"Bear in mind, dahling, I'm NOT at full power..."

Bright incandescence erupted between the joints of the mechanical form, as it rapidly absorbed the torrential flow, reached saturation, then attempted to expel the excess to avoid damage. ---The flow continued, and increased.

"When I said it would pop my wand, I wasn't kidding, dahling--- So, is this enough, or do you need more?"

That wicked smile of his seemed almost demonic, with the intensity of the magic flowing through and around it.

The flow continued to increase...

Ember had EVERY intention of popping this little doll like an overinflated balloon. Swirling sigils and magical formulae that had been laid when the shell was cast began to become visible, swirl, and writhe on the surface of the shell, then after-echos of the casting rebounded in the intense barrage-- a subtle whispering of female voices--

"SO, it was a GROUP effort--" mused Ember with a titter...

The flow increased even more....
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The river wasn't that wide and relatively shallow too, but what's waist high for average people would've went up to Verdant's chest. No way she'd reach the bones without getting drenched, so might as well take a rinse. The snake slipped out of her offensively bright sackcloth, halfheartedly rinsing the fabric twice before squeezing the water out and tossing the resulting lump haphazardly on a rock.

Then she walked into the peacefully flowing water.

Verdant blinked slowly. By the second blink a thin membrane covered her eyes as the pupils narrowed into a pair of slit, the blurry underwater sharpened into clarity. She knelt next to the skeleton, examining whether there's trace of injuries on the old bones and the mossy clothing.

Then she poked it with a pointy stone, just because.
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Grade
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Henri immediately realizes the vastness of Ember's power, indeed far too much for his measly golem core to contain. Inundated by this massive surplus, his rock-shaped core, for the first time in its tenure, begins to liquefy and expand, and it causes him great pain. He groans. It hurts. It's like being violently pulled apart in every possible direction.

In no time at all, his core expands to a point where it would fill every crevice inside of his body, and he would bloat and explode for real. The backrest of his wheelchair falls down, and his upper back and neck opens like several tiny double-doors, and orange-hot tentacles violently creep out, looming over them like a freak balloon.

It's strange how gently his body made way for this excess, it's like it's planned, hidden in his subconscious, like this was meant to happen. He remembers the time when he sought to create this alternate self, how he merely skimmed the pages of his stolen books to get to the result. What if, in the midst of that, he forgot a step which would coincidentally say 'expose this core to an endless source of magic', and all this time it was the reason why he'd been having issues not unlike lethargy?

> "When I said it would pop my wand, I wasn't kidding, dahling--- So, is this enough, or do you need more?"

Still in tremendous pain, his senses dulled by this massive influx of mana, his shivering left hand reaches to grab Ember's arm on his chest, trying to weakly pull it towards him, as if goading her to step it up. As he did so, the glowing amber tentacles turn into bright sapphire and sink back into Henri. The incandescence peering through his joints turn into the same sapphire hue, as the bloating core condenses and forms a structure throughout his body, like a more erratic nervous system. Images of 'internal organs' appear in his memory, ready to be constructed should he possess both the necessary materials and desire.

However, even this evolution seems inadequate to contain this endless flow that Ember yet continues to give, as she yet again increases the rate at which she gives it. A hint of damage in his left shoulder begins to give way, a weak spot amidst the protections granted by the now-visible sigils across his body. He tries to cover it with his right hand but it still explodes, making him turn and dislodge Ember's hand off his chest, ending this lightshow.

This damage might've been back when Ember hurled him across the lower deck and into one of the ship's pillars. He did neglect to check for damage after that incident, he just figured there wouldn't be any.

The hand holding on to Ember's arm slides off and drops to Henri's lap along with his entire left arm, and his right hand is fully gone, blown to bits. Yet, he slowly moves his left arm under Ember's wrist and lifts it to touch her hand with his ceramic mouth.

"... Fine. You are power itself," he says during. He really doesn't bother to move his mouth when he speaks.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Eviledd1984
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Ezekiel felt he was wasting time waiting around, instead of finding the book himself. He was walking away from the group, as they seemed more preoccupied with each other than with him. Sneaking off from the group and towards the dense trees in the distance. Using his dagger to cut the vines that were blocking his way. He did not know which way he was going, but he was certain that speaking to the spirits would give him some clues. Making sure not to trip on the large rocks that were scattered around the island. Stopping at a corpse that was sitting against a tree. The corpse looked like it was killed by multiple sword wounds, Ezekiel presumed that perhaps there was a mutiny. Assuming that this corpse was the captain of a ship. Putting away his dagger, and pulling out his staff. Chanting in some strange language, while waving his staff back and forth. Conjuring the spirit of the captain, “Chu’thu P’sfty Ta’gal Eatha’ma.” Ezekiel could see the spirit of the captain starting to manifest. “What in gods name is going on? Where are those brig rats I call crewmates?” The spirit of the captain was a man in his old age, having a sour look on his face.

Ello, our name is Ezekiel. We do not know where your crew is, but they may have suffered a worse fate than you. We have summoned you to help us find a book that was brought onto the island. Do you know if one of your crew was carrying the Kaz’arak?” The captain rubbed his seethrough chin with his hand, thinking of if he had even heard of the Kaz’arak. “Na, I do not know of that name. But there was this strange book that Vavik fella was carrying.” This Vavik person sounded like they could still have the book on their person. “And do you know where Vavik went? Is he on the island?” Ezekiel was nodding his head before speaking again. “If you can bring him to Vavik, that would be greatly appreciated.” The captain looked at Ezekiel with a grin. “Aye, I could help ya but only if you destroy every corpse of those curs that betrayed me.” Ezekiel suggested the captain goes with him, to identify which corpse belongs to his former crewmates. “Aye sounds like we ave a deal. My name is Jebediah Killgore, a pleasure to meet ya.” The spirit held out his hand, to which Ezekiel stared blankly at since Kilgore was a ghost. “Our name is Eziekal, pleasure is our captain.” The necromancer bowed his head towards the captain.

The two soon started walking towards the corpses that belonged to Kilgore’s treacherous crewmates. Ezekiel feels bad that he had to get rid of potential workers, but he had to do it so he could potentially find the book. Stopping at a pile of corpses, Ezekiel could tell that most of them killed and eaten each other. While others looked like they killed each other in a paranoid fit. Ezekiel before destroying the corpses, started searching for any salvageable items that could help him.
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"And don't you forget it, dahling." ember intoned as if it were simply a matter of fact, before sitting back down (a bit roughly, with a plop) on the footlocker.

On the one hand, it had felt rather nice to "blow the cobwebs out", but on the other... He felt his headache coming back on, and felt dizzy.

There were very real, and important reasons why he relied on the use of a focus. For starters, it actually restricted the flow to something more... sensible... and on the other, it afforded much needed fine control. A good deal of the effort he expended when using magic was not so much in getting the magic, but in getting it to BEHAVE. He was altogether too familiar with the 'cheekiness' and 'ironic disposition' magic tended to get when lots of it got thrown down, haphazardly. He would not be at all surprised if this particular spot on the beach had "anomalies" for a few days. If not right away in fact.

He looked at 'Henri', and felt a momentary pang of sympathy. If he preferred to stay tethered to a beat up wreck that just got a molten magic enema, his body--wherever it was-- must truly be in a bad way. He vaguely recalled the man had mentioned cryogenesis. Perhaps he was just so damned old, that he had considered this as a means of cheating death-- who knows. Regardless, that floppy broken arm was just sad.

"Well-- Let's see about that arm then-- " he sighed, reaching back down and reclaiming the wand from its resting place on the sand near his feet. "It just wouldn't do to leave you in something so tatty..."

He started with a gentle probe-- thin streamers of invisible magical force, delicately threaded through and over the surface of the damaged shell 'Henri' was controlling, looking for signs as to its construction, raw material composition, and any obvious signs of otherwise hidden damage.

It appeared to be a somewhat unusual composition-- clearly highly refined materials-- technically a "ceramic", but not like what you would find from your average potter; the materials were not naturally found in such a precise ratio. It was clearly a custom job. As for the magic-- it twisted this way and that at the attempt to scry it. Usually this meant that it had been warded against prying eyes, or at least formulated in such a way as to discourage duplication. Some of the more expensive magical apparatus one could buy had such clever tricks woven into them for such purposes, but this went above and beyond mere frustration in mind.

"Well...." mused ember with a frown. "It might take some doing-- I can try to collect the raw materials but..."

"You can't fix the enchantments, I know."

"Oh, I COULD if I truly cared to invest the time to unravel the fuckery you've got going on in there-- but I'm not sure I want to for a charity case dahling."
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