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The crystal light

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Boistrous laughter echoed from the middle of a large, drunk crowd across the other side of the main room of the headsman's inn. The centre of the crowd and the source of the deepest, loudest laughter came from a man seated at the head of a table. The man seemed to be early to mid-thirties in age, with a Trim beard lining his face and short, black hair crowning his head. His sturdy frame suggested he was fighting fit. In his hand, he held six or so leaflets - it seems he had been wandering through the town and had plucked a number of them from the various posting places, effectively lowering the chance that people would notice them. Now, however, he was waving the leaflets emphatically around at random members of the company he was with,  his derisive tone reading off the leaflets loudly enough for half the tavern to hear, "And, and... listen to this! 'Once a suitable party is found, we shall head north to attempt to destroy the crystal orb' Ha!" The man burst out into laughter once more, and after several seconds of calming himself, he spoke amusedly to his drunken comrades, "I've heard that crystal light burns a person to bone in less than ten seconds if one cannot find shelter from it! What kind of fool would take this mission!? I bet not even the great wizard Aerthin would have the gall to stop that light. 'Course, Aerthin was always a bit loose in the head, if you know what I mean!" The man chortled again, accompanied by his choir of inebriates, and he raised a pitcher of ale, downing the dregs then sitting the empty pitcher on five of the six leaflets, using them as a coaster. A good half-dozen other empty pitchers sitting next to the man suggested he was quite intoxicated himself. Interestingly, a hard-cover tome rested next to the man as well, a silver-chained bookmark rested between the folds of pages. Finally, he read the last segment of the final leaflet he held in his hand, "And it says here that if you are interested in stopping the Crystal Light, you can meet someone named Melody in the Headsman's inn! Ha! I wonder how many... er..." The man trailed off as he realised that was the name of the very inn he was at now. Slowly, he peered across the room, studying each person in it casually, trying not to draw too much attention, though he'd already failed that with his laughter and pamphlet reading.

A stout man, as burly as he was portly, pushed the door open with his knee as he dragged a heavy case into the barroom.  A shrub-like moustache obscured the man’s mouth as he called out, “I read that someone here was putting together an expedition to deal with that lethal crystal orb to the North!”  Peering myopically through his pince-nez, he continued loudly asking as he dragged his heavy case across the crowded room.  “The flyer mentions someone named Melanie!  Is there a Melanie here?” 

Finding a table suited for his needs, the man heaved the cumbersome wooden box onto the table with a heroic grunt.  Heaving it up onto its end, he began unlatching the container’s sturdy catches, giving anyone in the room that cared to look a glimpse of the legend emblazoned upon it: 



N. S. G. Q. P.


With a dramatic flourish, the man threw open the case, commenting “You may have others willing to head North, but I doubt that they have anything like THIS!”

Revealed inside was a bizarre harness of gleaming silvery metal, its every part polished to a mirror finish.  Tubes and valves projected from various parts of the armor, apparently meant to connect to small glass orbs that were neatly stored in a rack arranged along one side of the chest.  Folded in the case with the rest of the gear was a suit of rough grayish fibers, apparently meant to serve as padding under the unusual armor.

Ria Hawk:
After the spectacle that the drunken man reading the flyers and the entry of the odd man with his trunk, the young man who quietly stood up wasn't really impressive.  He'd been sitting near the boistrous fellow, but now had a thoughtful expression.  Tellas was slender and on the small side, with dark hair that reached down to his shoulders and partially obscured his face.  He was wearing clothes that looked like they had at one point been expensive, but he'd had them so long that they were worn and faded.  He didn't appear to have any weapons except for the wooden staff he was leaning on.

"This is the Headsman's Inn, isn't it?"  He had a quiet way of speaking, and over the din of the tavern it was a little difficult to hear.  He turned around slowly as if scanning the room, and finally oriented on Melody's table.  He approached and bowed in her general direction.  "If you are the one forming this party, may I offer my services?  If this light is such that you must avoid it or die, then you might require the aid of one who is not bothered by the dark."  

The intoxicated man ceased his scanning of the place at the arrival of a crate-wielding man, and - his search for Melody forgotten - he nudged a nearby patron good-naturedly before pointing at the newcomer, "Oi, give this a look! He's brought a coffin into the bar!" With that, he stood from his seat at the table, snatched that hard-covered tome and turned in the direction of the man who now had the crate up on a table, "Hey! Whatchoo got there, son!?" The drunkard lumbered forward stoically... for the first two steps, before his inebriated state caused him to stumble wildly off-course, barging rudely into the quiet, staff-wielding man before regaining his balance. Without so much as a word of apology, the man continued on his course, stopping just before the crate and peering in, "Woah - thash a pretty shoot of armor ya got there, my friend!" The man peered closely at the reflective, ornate armor, studying his own face in the reflection. In that mirror of steel, the man noticed his own face becoming noticably green. He then felt a distinct tingle in his throat, and by the time he realised what was happening, it was too late - he opened his mouth and let fly! A stream of the nights labour of alcohol poured from his mouth, the sickening ichor splattering all over the lower-half of the previously polished suit of armor and soaking into the wood of the crate it was held in!

Ria Hawk:
The unexpected impact from behind knocked Tellas nearly off his feet, and he dropped his staff.  He snarled to himself; clearly that was the drunken idiot from before.  He felt around the floor for a moment before finding his staff; it hadn't rolled far.  Then he stood up, fuming.  The fool wasn't hard to find, he was making a hell of a racket.  Tellas stood still for a moment, gripping his staff with both hands and making sure he had the position right.  Then he swung hard and low, sweeping the other man's feet out from under him and sending him to the floor.  "Pay attention to where you're going, you fool!"


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