[RP Episode][CANON] Chasing Ghosts


#1

The large roomy chamber stood silent with only the sound of shuffling papers echoing across the space. In a circular room with tables laid around its edges, an elevated desk was poised above the rest, in a sort of ‘‘central’’ position where Arch Magister Qeerel na-Verdanna was seated. Looking over several papers of apparent importance in complete silence while a number of other Keelish stood below him in the middle of the room, awaiting his reaction.

Qeerel eventually put the papers down and adjusted his reading visor.

‘‘Is this even possible?’’ he asked in a tiresome tone.
One of the envoys steps forward, ‘‘All the south has been talking about it, master Qeerel.’’ he said as he bowed.
’‘But how reliable is this information?’’ Qeerel asked.
’‘We have been receiving the same reports from several different nations across the world, most notably Valkora, their ally. Incoming traders speak of a crisis in trade now that one of the bigger hubs has picked up and vanished…’’
’‘This is too big for us to ignore, your excellency.’’ pointed out another envoy. ‘‘Both Valkora and Ebongrasp have been said to show interest in to area as of recently as well. It is not a coincidence.’’

Qeerel sat in silence once more as he contemplated what had just been brought before him. Then, he shifted and leaned on to his desk with both elbows.

‘‘Valkora and Ebongrasp… one of which we barely know anything about, and the other we only know of through rumour… I’m just finding it very hard to understand as to WHY an entire people would pick up and leave, just like that.’’

The envoys began looking at each other, speechless.

Qeerel sat back up straight and took a peace of paper to begin scribbling upon, ‘‘IF, this is true, it is defenetly something we should look in to. Who were these people, where they come from, what were they about, and what prompted them to leave, and why now? As a start, i will authorise a minuscule excursion in to the region to check the validity of these reports of yours. We shall speak further of this when they return with proof of these tales.’’ he explained as he finished his paper, and made his seal upon it, then handed it to the envoys.

‘‘Take this to the Academy.’’ he ordered them.

The envoys bowed as they took the order and swiftly left the chambers.

Shortly, a small gunship-class airship was assigned to the expedition, and a team of security personnel and the top archaeologists and explorers. At their head: Rhoa na-Tukka.

They would arrive at their destination, Kaveh, in approximately two weeks time.

@SirGeorgar


#2

For the seventh time that day, Aelius Vipsanius Ultorius, Centurion of the 4th Cohort of the 6th Legion, and the youngest son of the Dux Marum, cursed the forsaken city which he was charged with defending.

Detached from the Legion, he and his cohort had been dropped off and ordered to defend the city against any marauders. After building a stone fort on one of the small hills near the river, and mounting artillery and the new rapid fire guns they had been given on the walls, Aelius proceed to conduct normal Valkorian strategy in such a situation.

He waited until a band of desert dwellers on camels attempted to enter the city, and after giving them one warning, deleted the group with a barrage of rifle fire. After a few more skirmishes with their brethren raiders, the Valkorians convinced everyone near by that attempting to loot Kaveh was not a good idea.

Every month, a cruiser from home would show up, with food, orders (if any), and news from home.
Aelius was sick of the place. The desert was foreign to him, and the sand storms that every so often wracked the city were maddening. The city was always silent, unless he took a maniple of legionaries tramping through it on patrol. He had just returned from such a patrol, and was hanging up his gear.

The days had turned into weeks, the weeks into months. They drilled, patrolled, trained, and slept. The repetitive grind was mind numbing, and the men looked forward to the arrival of the monthly cruiser.

However, the cruiser had just left, and it was back to the old grindstone again.

Wish this place would liven up a bit…

Night fell, the guards changed, and Centurion Aelius went back to his work.


#3

Kaveh in the dusk was a truly godforsaken sight. The streets were deserted but for the occasional stray animal or dust devil. Only silence now reigned in the places where merchants had once prized their wares. The houses were worn and needed maintaining, and the blue lacquering was flaking off in many places. Dust was everywhere - on the streets, in the houses, you could feel it, even smell it. Outside the walls, the pastures where the nobility once reared their proud steeds were choked with weeds, entirely overgrown. The watch fires of the Valkoran redoubt were the only source of light besides the setting sun, which painted the city in red and orange before sinking below the ochre hills.


#4

When the Keelish expedition finally arrived at the sight, they did not notice the ruinous city immediately. They scoured the horizon with their spy glasses in hand, looking for anything that would stand out from the sand. Eventually, as night drew closer, more and more of the crew turned in for the day and went to sleep, except for a few guards who would stay up the night and watch the ship. As the sun was setting, a light in the distance became more and more obvious, and indeed the Keelish saw it.

Fetching the rest of the crew, they agreed to take advantage of the night and send in a scouting party to see what was going on. They found Kaveh for sure, but it was not abandoned. At least not all of it was.

The airship would shut off its redstone engines and silently glide above the town without any lights on. Taking in the view, the Keelish pointed out possible points of interest. A majestic building on top of the overlooking hill that seemed as the palace, a rather large complex of interconnected buildings that could be a place of knowledge or faith, and the fortiffication from which the light was originating from. At a first glance, they were definitely human, but taller… Valkorans?

The Keelish divided in to 3 groups and descended on their lowering platforms, each with their own target. The first goes to the palace, the other to the academy, and the third will spy on the encampment.


#5

As the 4 Keelish scouts snuck through the abandoned city, slipping from house to house and rooftop to rooftop, they were surprised by abruptly coming across the end of the houses.
Around the fort, for 500 meters in every direction, houses had been torn down to keep a line-of-sight clear around the cohort’s base of operations. Sentries walked the ramparts, keeping their ceaseless vigil, while riflemen peered through their binoculars. All this and more was duly noted by the Keelish, who surveyed the place from the safety of the buildings outside the perimeter through their own binoculars.
After taking note of everything they could see (especially the machine gun turrets and heavy artillery), they turned and headed back towards their vessel.
Unfortunately for all parties concerned, as they turned about, they ran smack into the middle of a returning squad of patrolling Valkorian legionaries, led by a fresh faced Optio. Startled, the Valkorians snapped into a double rank formation, swords drawn and rifles raised.
The optio held up his clenched first.
”Hold damnit! WAIT!”
He sheathed his sword, and held out his hand to display his lack of weapons.
”Quid est? Keelae? Quid tu hic agis?”


#6

Startled by the encounter, the Keelish too jumped in to a defensive stance. Taking advantage of the Valkoran’s patience to not attack them immediately, they extended their pinky finger and pressed it against their palm, which prompted a mechanism in their cybernetic suits to inject them with a potion of invisibility, and they vanished.

All the Valkorans saw was a number of masked Keelish turn to mist, and scatter in to the wind.
Something was definitely up.

Meanwhile, the other two groups with the scholars were beginning to close in on their targets. Vigilant enough to have avoided any patrol they might have encountered, they seamlessly snuck through the streets.


#7

The soldiers erupted with surprise, and began looking all around them.
”What the hell…GET BACK TO THE FORT!”
The squad raced back through the city, and there the Optio made his report to the Centurion. A few moments later, the cohort turned out, and assumed defensive formations inside their base, with a maniples worth controlling trenches dug around the perimeter. From the watchtowers, the sentries suddenly pointed out the dark shape floating in the night sky, a darker, smaller cloud.
After handpicking 20 men, Aelius led them out into the city, in the general direction of the Keelish vessel, winding their way through the streets and empty houses, a white banner in their midst.


#8

The crew of the ship saw the Valkorans incoming, and at the same time, the group of 4 somewhat ahead of them on the rooftops, signalling for a pickup. The ship’s crew denied the pickup request to avoid direct contact with the Valkorans by flashing a singular light in their direction.

The Valkorans meanwhile saw a light flash in what seemed like an unknown code. After which, the dark object in the sky widened significantly, that being the ship extending its sails, and gliding away silently, increasing altitude, using one of the clouds to drift out of sight yet again.

The scouting party received new orders from the ship, to split up in to 2 and for each to go meet with the other two groups.


#9

As the keelish ship had now vanished, Aelius pulled his group back inside their encampment to wait till dawn and better visibility.


#10

During the night, flashes of cyan light could be seen within the palace and academy, and at times it would glow for longer periods before dying again. The Keelish were taking detailed imagery of the place, its frescoes, and anything the Kavehans left behind, and what the Valkorans didn’t scavenge.

But that was just it, the Valkorans were here first, they could have something important in their possession, a piece of the puzzle the Keelish were missing. But that fell outside their mission parameters, for now. For the time being, they remained, taking more imagery and attempt to translate texts left behind because they were of little importance, to at least gain an insight in to their language. They were using a holographic display unit to project their findings and progress right in front of them at a clear overview, having it linked with the one at the other team’s location for coordinated research.


#11

As the lights flashed, Aelius had had enough.
”No more Hide and Seek. OPTIO!”
In the middle of the night, while light still emanated from the palace, a small unit of 30 men, led by Aelius, slipped out of the fort through a back gate in ones and twos to avoid detection. Sneaking softly through the shadows of ruined houses, they surrounded the palace on all sides, blocking off the exits, there they waited till dawn, keeping out of sight but close enough to keep an eye on any outlet from building.
After securing the building, the three more maniples, 240 men, created a much bigger ring around the place, in case any Keelish happened to slip by undetected.

”Now!”

At first light, the legionaries guarding the exits burst from their positions and raced to the doors. Kicking them in, they charged inside.


#12

On the inside, the Keelish were astonished by this civilisation’s rich culture and heritage they have left behind, as if it were worthless, to be replaced by something even grater perhaps? What magnificence must they have uncovered then. Keelish mages could find traces of an unknown magical energy being used by these people, and in large quantities, thought they seem to have left none of it behind to study. Or at least, not here.

Inside, the entire main hall was lit up in brilliant lights, recreating the form of the palace throne room as it was before it was abandoned and stripped bare by their former owners and anyone who came after. This recreation was due to the holo-projector’s AI which has been running detailed scans of the place since they activated it upon arrival. Thanks to it, the Keelish were also aware of incoming Valkoran troops, though they were too close to evade now.

‘‘Danger, imminent.’’ it would report.

The Keelish security force only had a few moments to prepare, in which they swiftly created a perimeter around the researchers, and Rhoa, who were finalising their data collection. Mages at the front, ready to cast barriers, with marines using Hukon repeat-fire crossbows behind them, ready and loaded.

The doors burst open, and the legion entered…


#13

The legionaries swept through, and swiftly formed a circle around the Keelish, shields raised, and rifles loaded. More men joined them, completely enveloping the foriegners.
Aelius walked out from the ranks of silent troops.

”So you ARE Keelish. What are you doing here, trespassing on lands protected by the Emperor?”


#14

Rhoa gently tapped the hovering holo-projector, making it shut down and descend in to her palm which she held underneath it. As she did so, the illusion pealed away from the room, revealing the dusty, sandy, dark and worn down state it was in now. She gently placed the device in to her satchel, and turned to face this man of apparent authority.

‘‘Lands protected by the emperor? Or claimed by him? For if this is not his land, then it is neutral ground, and you have no more right to be here than we do.’’ she smirked cunningly, knowing international ideals of diplomacy and territory rather well.

‘‘You are here to claim what is left of your former ally, yes? Seeing it as rightfully yours due to your relations? I see you’ve built a fort in this relic as well. Torn down buildings to erect it in fact. How very Valkoran of you…’’


#15

I’m a soldier, ma’m. If you want to debate the ethics of the situation, take it up with Caesar. My job is to keep this place un-ravaged, which is what you appear to be doing right now. Now answer my question.”


#16

'‘Ravage? I believe we have been quite respectful to this place. What did we do? I mean, its not like we tore down anything to make room for ourselves.’'
She continued to avoid answering his question.

‘‘We are not here for loot, nor territory, nor are we looking for a fight.’’

At that moment, she tapped a pad on her arm’s bracer to signal their ship for pickup.

The captain of the security squad steps forward.
’‘But you seem to be, Valkorans. So i advise you leave us be before you hurt yourselves.’'
He warned, and earned a glare from Rhoa who really did not want to agitate further.


#17

Aelius expression snapped.
”You were warned. You have 10 seconds to put down your weapons, before we take them by force. MILITES!” He stepped back into the wall of towering shields.
The legionaries locked shields, and the click of rifles cocking went around the room, then with a heavy thud, they began shuffling forward, tightening the circle.


#18

The winds pick up throughout the palace as loud humming approaches the palace. It was the airship, shields raised, that flied right over the outer encirclement of the place and descended to a boarding height. The lowering platform was in place, it was time to leave.

The airship, having turrets and bolt throwers, was ready and loaded to blast any enemy out of sight were it approached.

The Keelish on the inside huddled up and waited for the Valkorans to come closer while they subtly siphoned magica from their surroundings. When they were at an optimal distance they released the magical power in unison creating a shock wave that would throw the Valkoran’s back, the mages shoved the barrier forward towards the entrance, knocking any soldier there out of the way, and together they made a run for it.

As they fled, the civilians were covered from all sides by the marines, who would put a bolt in to any soldier wise enough to get up and attempt to hinder their escape, injuring if not killing them.


#19

The sudden shock of magical power hurled one side of the wall of legionaries aside, and the Keelish made a break for it.
The room erupted in smoke and flame as rifles cracked, smacking into and off of the force fields. The soldiers nearest the retreating foriegners leaped forward, swords drawn. They fell, riddled with crossbow bolts.
Outside, the outer ring of soldiers began racing towards the small group of Keelish, only to drop into cover as the airship swung towards them, turrets trained on them.


#20

The Keelish raced to the platform and boarded the airship. Immediately, the engines began to boom and the sails widened as it made a hasty liftoff and flew off around the hill of the palace to avoid Valkoran artillery. The ship vanished in to the desert shortly after.

The second group of the expedition that was on the ground at the Academy did not remain either. When the Valkorans came to the Palace, a warning was transmitted to them, and coordinates for safe rendezvous outside the city. As he skirmish at the palace drew most of the Valkoran forces to that location, the Keelish fled the city without issue.