• Baron

    Cavalier Premiere Oltikeni Bansse strides through the warehouse district, his booted feet falling in his typically determined, heavy stride that matches his pensieve mind and strong will. The crowd about him parts respectfully, informed only moments in advance of his presence by the clanging of the four heavily-armored individuals following in diligent pursuit. Bansse is dressed in his black and white regalia, his ensemble entirely monochromatic save the bronze ring that clasps his white cloak about his shoulders at his breast. The bronze platemail that follows glitters brilliantly in the cold sun, though the one person missing their helmet–the Fourth Cavalier–seems much more delirious in her gait than the others.

    Bansse throws open the wide doors to what was once a barn. Its floor now paved with hewn spruce and soaked through, the sunlight from outside shines into the dark building, barely illuminating the huge object within.

    “Sogh-Iove,” Second Cavalier Georgis Sasamata curses under his helmet. First Cavalier Silnara Oghden groans a purr of unease.

    Before the Cavaliers stood a tall blue crystal of ice, twelve feet in height and maybe six in girth at its base. Noticeably interred within the ice is a creature of some kind, apparently bipedal, long and spindly–a dark silhouette that bleeds fear.

    “I feel it too,” Bansse says, knowing his words would comfort none of his compatriots.

    “What is it?” Fifth Cavalier Xuthus Saghl walks forward, placing a bronze-armored hand on the ice.

    “Hydrohalite,” Sasamata replies. “A salt mineral complex formed when water ice remains cold and abundant enough to form in crystal matrices. Usually in especially briny pools.”

    “No, I meant whatever is inside it,” Saghl clarifies.

    “I know what you meant,” Sasamata sighs. “I don’t know what it is.” Sasamata looks to his feet and shakes his head.

    “The fear?” First Cavalier Oghden asks. “It comes from the creature?”

    “A safe assumption,” Fourth Cavalier Candas Mell nods emphatically, her auburn braid whipping against her breastplate. “Safe to say ice, or even hydrohalite, doesn’t do this.”

    “Can we weaponize it?” Bansse asks. First Cavalier Oghden rolls her eyes behind her helmet.

    “Works just as well against our troops,” Saghl posits. “Even if they knew about it, wouldn’t help. Sogh-Iove, I know about it, and I really don’t want to be here.”

    The ice gives a heavy thud as it cracks, shifting against the soaked spruce raft laid atop the wet dust of the barn floor. Everyone jumps, before settling down as the crystal does.

    “Just a product of it melting,” Sasamata reassures. “Happens to any kind of melting ice. Listen close and you’ll hear tiny cracks happening all the time. That was just a big one.”

    “How large was this crystal when it was retrieved?” Bansse’s question is met with silence.

    The Cavaliers look to one another questioningly, before Saghl offers a meek, “Unknown.”

    “How was the crystal retrieved?” Bansse continues his query.

    A few measured seconds before Saghl repeats himself.

    “Who is in charge of this warehouse? The expedition that retrieved it?” *

    “Ninth Cavalier Deleidus,” Mell offers strongly, before muttering a meek “I think” to herself.

    “Hm?” Bansse asks of Mell, prompting the exhausted auburnette to mutter to herself some more. She looks up.

    “If I recall, the expedition retrieved another object from a shipwreck. It was years ago, maybe over a decade, so the details are fuzzy. I only know them from skimming the report before I made my own expedition these last months.”

    “What’s so important about the object?”

    “It has some sort of seductive power, or so the consensus says. People who are near it or see it desperately want it.”

    “And where is Cavalier Deleidus now?”

    “He’s stationed in Aparix Pass,” Oghden offers quickly. “Why?”

    Bansse turns on heel, beckoning his compatriots to follow him.

    “Because over a decade ago, Deleidus forgot to give something to me.”

    *See: Report from Ninth Cavalry Scouts