by tooth & claw dragons

where darkness and chaos reign...
Welcome to the land of dragons and elves; demons and death. Here, you may weave tales of all creatures, great and small - magic is found in everything, and many worlds one can explore are open for discovery. By Tooth And Claw Dragons, often shortened to BTACD, is an original high fantasy role-play site with over eighty species and ten solid worlds, fifteen years strong. Freedom of creativity is boundless within the established lore, and member suggestions are not only accepted, but encouraged. We release new content monthly, and are always expanding our wondrous Realms. Come and play with magic, honor the great gods, and beware the balance that governs all...
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The Aboveground

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 I Smell Rain
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PLAYERS INVOLVED:
Amakiir
Fyfergrund

SETTING:
Eden, entering from the Archadian Desert.

WEATHER:Warm clear day, few clouds and moderate wind.

TIME:Current date, roughly noon.

CHARACTERS INVOLVED:
Namkitu Okori (Amakiir)
Ostanes (Fyfergrund)
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The small lizards fled for cover once again when the traveler swept a hand over the sand, sending the scavengers scurrying away from the weathered pack at his side. Namkitu leaned his head back against the heavy sandstone walls with a sigh and quieted his thoughts by watching the other travelers milling about. A small crowd had gathered to wait for the Sun Gate to open with the first morning rays and some were growing impatient. He winced lightly as a stray of Dawn reflected from the nearest obelisk Eden's corners and washed over his eyes, prompting him to stand upright with a stretch of his back and a final check for any errant reptiles. He tightened his grip on the strap of his pack and set himself to wait as the Gate began to move, the shadow of the Great Library acting as his beacon.
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While most of the crowd were dressed in desert robes designed to shield them from the sun, Ostanes was dressed quite differently. A simple cloak hung from his shoulders, and his features were unmarked by the Realm's intense sunlight.

As the crowd waited for the gate to open, the goat xeriin slowly stroked his beard as he seemingly ignored the milling crowd, despite their occasional glances his way, silently wondering at his choice of clothing. After a moment, he glanced at Namkitu, eyes glinting behind his spectacles, and a small, knowing smile appeared on his face.

Then the moment ended as the gate opened, and he made his way inside the city, sand crunching softly under his boots as he made his way towards the library.
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He gripped his robes tighter when a brush of wind scattered sand and nearly threatened to plant him into the ground like a common Daisy. He moved to wipe at his face and realized a moment to late that he was reaching past his face, where his muzzle would normally be. After a furtive glance to see if his blunder had been witnessed he settled into the crowd and moved onward into the city.

The pristine stone walls and vibrant towers nearly dropped his jaw to the ground at the sight, this was certainly different from home. After a discrete pat down to ensure everything was in its proper place on his person he began wading through the mass of bodies. He had to bite back the reflex to bare his fangs when a large shadow passing overhead, a lional form winging towards one of the larger buildings.

Namkitu shook his head in irritation, noting from the crowd that the creature seemed to be a common occurance and once more made for the impressive Library. At least until his distraction caused him to bump into a cloaked figure sporting a full beard, to whom he muttered an apology before hurrying on before he slammed into anyone else. The congested streets were starting to feel a bit too occupied.

@Fyfergrund
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Ostanes stumbled slightly when somebody bumped into him and muttered an apology before hurrying on, but aside from a bemused glance, he didn't react. Not until he recognized the young man he'd seen outside the gate only a moment ago. Another small grin crossed his face as he continued along, likewise heading towards the library but at a more leisurely pace, as though time meant little to him.

By the time he arrived at the library, the doors had yet to open, leaving him waiting, along with a small crowd. Spotting the young man from before, he shot the man a slightly amused grin.

"This must be your first time here," he mused, folding his arms behind his back and clasping his hands together. "Are you here to research anything in particular? Or are you one of those who seeks knowledge for the its own sake?"

As he finished speaking, the doors were hauled open by a pair of sphinxes, permitting entry. He glanced at the door, then back at the young man before striding forward with the rest of the crowd.
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The traveler flicked his ear back before remembering where he was and turned quickly, intending to hide the motion. It took him a moment to recognize the man who had spoke, or at least the familiar beard. "Yes, yes it is. Look if it's about earlier, I apologized already for bumping into you mister." He flinched back when two more of the winged shadows landed near the Library's doors with an unearthly grace. He shook his head clear and turned back to the figure.

"To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what I'm looking for. I don't know what's inside this Library, but I'll recognize it when it jumps out." He added with a light shrug. The man seemed pleasant enough, but trusting outward appearances would be the pot calling the kettle black. He cast an eye over him and keyed in particularly for anything looking like a weapon, deciding to be polite but still wary. "To borrow your question, what brings you here? You seem to know your way around the city." When the heavy wooden doors opened Namkitu almost had to grab his breath by the throat and wrestle it back into his lungs. Never had he seen so many books and scrolls in one place!

Magnificent shelves stretched to the ceiling in a spiral ring encompassing row about row of shelved literature and knowledge. Several sealed cases along the walls seemed to contain tomes or objects too delicate or fragile to be handled, the nearest of which held a wooden stave bearing a single flower at the top. As he entered the Library with the other man, he saw that the flower slowly shifted hues every few seconds seemingly at random. He could navigate an expanse of sand in high winds and avoid dessicating salt flats, but he had no idea where to even start in a place such as this.

@Fyfergrund
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Ostanes merely quirked an eyebrow, as if he was unaware of what the traveler was talking about. Then he smirked slightly. "Oh, that. I'm not concerned with getting lightly jostled. One grows to expect that kind of thing to happen in cities," he stated, waving a hand in dismissal of that encounter.

"Me? Well, I've been in here few times before. I'm hoping they'll have something new on alchemy than when last I visited," he explained, striding inside. He hadn't gone far when he pause,d and turned back far enough to meet the traveler's eyes.

"If you intend to wander, and casually browse, you'll be here some time before you've seen even half of what this library has to offer. If I knew something more specific about what you're looking for, then I might be able to give you some directions, even if it's just a general area for you to begin your search. If not, then I will leave you to your search."
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At the mention of Alchemy, Namkitu nearly had to place his hands atop his head to keep his real ears from perking upright. He cast another appraising eye over the man but saw no hint of Alchemic prowess in him, but then who was he to gauge from appearances? It did not escape his notice that he mentioned having been here before. Maybe the goat-man would find that he has grown a tail once they enter the Library.

He had to fight back a glare at such dissent towards wandering, how often had the desert revealed a treasure to those who chose to explore? His eyes even now kept being drawn to the numerous aisles and encased oddities. Surely a few patrols about the building would turn up something of note, and maybe a few tidbit he did not even know to look for in the first place. He took a breath and remembered the Trading Post etiquette that every traveler had their own way to look at things. He had to admit, that the thought of such amassed knowledge as to offer such a wander-land was enticing.

"I want to expand on my teachings," he relented as they passed the first aisle, which seemed to be thin books with bright covers. "I do not mean to be rude, but I honestly don't know what I'm looking for. Maybe something on where and how to procure base materials, even better would be Alchemic formulae I could copy and practice with." He knew better than to reveal his pouches openly, but pulled one of his tried and true creations: A small nutshell sealed with crier cactus sap. "This is a pester, and is regrettably the extent of my battle recipes." He carefully gauged the man's response, biting his tongue to keep his non-Alchemic defenses private for now.

@Fyfergrund
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As soon as the stranger mentioned alchemy, Ostanes's ears twitched, and one eyebrow rose as he looked the man over once more, this time with a more appraising look. For a moment, he merely gazed at the stranger, a slight smile tugging at the corners of his mouth, before he spoke again.

"If alchemy is your interest, then I can be of more help. I've had a fair many years to practice the craft, myself," he stated. He turned and headed further into the library, glancing back over his shoulder briefly. "They have a sizable collection of books on alchemy here, and some of them are of actual value to true alchemists."

He exchanged a nod with a sphinx librarian, seated behind a desk and writing in a ledger, then continued on towards the section of the library housing the various alchemical works it had to offer. "Take this one, for example," he stated, carefully lifting a tome bound with red leather off the shelf. "Cyranides is a good compendium of alchemical materials that can be found here on Ristell."
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Namkitu paused as the information his new friend had just shared, not the first being that he was in the presence of a fellow practitioner. One whom had been mixing concoctions for a few seasons, if his words rang true. He may have been fresh from the desert but if there's one thing his village had instilled into his skull, it was that an elder even a season or two more experienced was a veritable font to be respected. True Alchemist, he liked the sound of that, and would like it tenfold when he could add his own name to that list. He stopped in his tracks at the large leonal female seated behind the desk, wings resting against her back and almost delicately dipping a razor-tipped claw into an inkwell before penning another line into the ledger before her.

His hands shook lightly as the tome graced his hands, whether from nervousness or excitement he did not know. What he did know was that this pressed mass of parchment was ungodly beautiful with a weight of time that he could feel well into the small of his back. Bracing it against the top of a waist-high shelf of manuscripts he carefully lifted the cover to the sound of crinkling leather that seemed to echo in the narrow aisle, almost in insult to the other scholars. The first page was quilled in a scrolling script he did not recognize but when he turned the page again his breath caught in his throat, for there embossed upon the aged parchment were three symbols he knew almost by heart. His hand outlined each almost in veneration, as a priest might over holy scripture.

In the center sat the composed form of the Red Lion, ever watchful and coiled to pounce at a heartbeat's breadth and assured in its strength. To the right was the Black Eagle, with wings outstretched and eyes shifting from the vibrant blue of gemstones to the gentle green of the ocean. Opposite sat the White Phoenix, each feather and talon outlined in rich gold. His uncle had frequently gone on at great length of the Teachers Three, representing Unified Alchemy, Transformation and Enlightenment respectively. The following pages confirmed his suspicions as they touched on the Black Eagle's practice of working with inanimate matter especially metals, and the belief that any substance can be shifted to another; the White Phoenix's lessons of the purification and perfection of living matter and the relationships of life, death, health, disease and rebirth; and the Red Lion's marriage of these two schools of thought as well as the 'third truth', when opposites are combined successfully. He was so engrossed in the tome's contents and the desire to begin penning its knowledge into his own records that all else seemed to fall away for the time.

@Fyfergrund
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Ostanes couldn't help but grin slightly at the stranger's reaction to seeing the tome. For a moment, an intense glint filled his eyes as he gazed at the younger man over the top of his half-moon spectacles. He raised his hand and slowly stroked his beard, ears twitching slightly, before he abruptly turned to gaze over the collection of alchemical writings on the shelves.

As his gaze swept over the various covers and titles, or symbols in some cases, he frowned slightly. There was little new to be seen, and those that were new were mostly various commentaries concerning works he'd already read. But then something else caught his eye. A dark grey tome, bound together at its spine with tarnished bronze hinges, was nestled between two more ornate tomes.

Slowly, he raised his hands, and removed it from its place on the shelf, spending a few moments simply gazing at its cover. On its surface, a serpent of gold coiled in a figure-eight grasped its tail in its mouth. Branded into the leather beneath the serpent, in small letters, was the name Avashtana. He gazed at the name for a time, and his customary smile faded. Then, abruptly, he placed the tome back on its shelf, brows furrowed as he renewed his search of the shelves.

After a moment, he paused briefly, then lifted a green leather journal off the shelf, and grinned slightly as he gazed at its cover. The Emerald Tablet and its History was written boldly upon its surface. He took a seat opposite his companion, and carefully opened it, gently flipping pages as he perused through the tome. If this book contained even the slightest hints as to where the long-lost tablet might be, it would come as a surprise. A pleasant one, bit a surprise, nonetheless.
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His eyes poured over each page of parchment the tome greedily held onto and turned them with great hesitancy, as though they might crumble to dust at any moment. To his chagrin much of the script remained in the unknown language despite his glare almost daring it translate itself by will alone. What had begun as an overview of the Teachers Three and what they strove for shifted to intricate illustrations of various flowers, plants and fungus several pages into the tome's records. Basic equipment for acquisition, preservation and use; Infusions by hot water, Macerations by oil and Decoctions by cold water; even the possible biomes that usable components may be harvested from from both flora and fauna.

Namkitu paused over a familiar drawing in the following pages marked as an herbal encyclopedia of sorts, a skinny shrub he knew to be a Damiana from the Ristell deserts. Using what he remembered of the plant itself he worked through the provided notes, slowly piecing together a rough understanding of this strange written language. Damiana was a rare herb even in the best of conditions, prompting a guess that 'ileai' referred to its general rarity. After a bit of trial and error he felt a smile crease his features and almost had to check if his fangs were showing. This was indeed the shrub he believed it to be once he deciphered the use of its ground powder as incense, designed to heighten the emotional states of those exposed to it.

The knowledge beyond was penned in notes and recounts in various tongues, thankfully one of which he could actually read without crossing his eyes in concentration. It detailed the journal of an Apothecary, whom had apparently gained enough expertise in the use of certain herbs that she was able to discern a person's illness almost by sight. He paused to consider whether his own experience would reach such a point, before shaking his head and reaffirming that yes, he would, and beyond. The young Alchemist in training practically salivated as he turned to a section denoted almost entirely to the creation of various Alchanas, or Alchemic crafts. He barely pulled from the formulae and recipes to see where his companion had gone off to, and spotted him reading a tome of his own.

"The Emerald Tablet?" he read aloud, noting the man's somewhat glazed expression and shifting eyes locked onto the pages in his hands. He had to admit that the name sounded familiar but for the moment lay out of reach. He set down nearby and produced a worn journal from within his vest, pulling a sliver of charcoal on a twig from his pocket and beginning to copy the first recipe he had found, 'Abjurer's Chalk'.

@Fyfergrund
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As he pored through the book, Ostanes's face shifted into a slight frown. Page after page of speculation, and information he already knew. Purported knowledge the tablet supposedly held, and varying theories as to why it vanished into history. Nothing he was looking for.

Not yet, anyways.

He kept flipping pages, slowly and methodically, drawing upon the patience every good alchemist had to learn, and perused the words written there. Mostly more of the same, but, after a few minutes, he noticed the writer began to mention more about the various theories concerning where the tablet itself might've ended up.

So engrossed was he that it took him a moment to realize his fellow alchemist had spoken. He glanced up over the rim of his spectacles, eyes alight with an intense focus. "Yes, the Emerald Tablet, the record of alchemy's Great Work for which so many have striven, and failed to achieve. And the fundamental rules upon which alchemy is based."

He fell silent, running a long finger along one of his horns, regarding his young companion in contemplative silence for a moment. "Are you familiar with aethyr?" he inquired softly after a moment, one eyebrow crooking high, his tone like that of a professor addressing a classroom.
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'The record of the Great Works', that certainly caught his interest. knowledge was recorded so that it may be saved and to lose any of it was a terrible waste. "Aethyr?" he asked with a tilt of his head, "It sounds familiar, if vaguely.

Give me a moment". Namkitu gently set the tome he was holding onto a case nearby before pacing a bit, eyes flicking back to almost as though it may flee at any moment and take its treasures with it. "If I remember correctly," he began with some hesitance, "Aethyr is this...unseen force, that somehow exists around, though and beyond our own world."

A hand went to the back of his head and rubbed it sheepishly, suddenly uncomfortable with his rather 'green' level of experience. While he had some skill in the Alchemic crafts they were largely experimental and honed for life above the sands.

It struck just how little he had in the ways of of formulae that could be used in a more urban setting, or Gods forbid the ocean. If he was going to save face with his new friend, let alone stay alive once he left the city, that needed to change.
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The goat xeriin rested his elbows on the table, fingers steepled, as he waited for the younger man to think. His expression remained unchanging as Namkitu spoke, then he leaned back and frowned very, very slightly, before rising to his feet.

"You are confusing aethyr with reiatsu," he stated, still sounding rather like a professor lecturing a pupil. He folded his hands behind his back. "But the two are closely related. Aethyr is reiatsu given physical form. An unstable mix of the three states of matter. Capable of infusing any magic with great power."

He turned on his heel, and took a few paces before glancing back over his shoulder. "The Emerald Tablet is a record of so much more. Or was, if it still exists. Think of it. All the old secrets, worked out by ancient masters of our craft. So much more refined than what is practiced today," he breathed, voice soft as he seemed to gaze at something only he could see.

Then he snorted softly. "Few today believe it ever existed, let alone that it is still intact. It doesn't help that its last known location no longer exists. Or that today, that place is one of the most dangerous locations in all the Realms. Not even Kurai, for all its harshness, is as deadly." He turned to face Namkitu directly. "Most would say it's foolhardy to even consider going to look for it."
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