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RP:Forbidden Libraries And Frost Giants

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Part of the The Day I Tried To Live Arc


Summary: Lionel escorts Khitti and Brand to the forbidden library in the far northwestern corner of Frostmaw. There, Khitti (well, technically Lionel) finds the Arkhen's Purity ingredient for her cure, the ingredient list of Delisha's Ambrosia, and realizes she's going to have to have Gevurah make good on the favor she owes Khitti. While Khitti remains inside to conduct her quick research, a strange woman is attacked by frost giants that turn out to be barbarians instead of Frostmaw citizens and Lionel and Brand are quick to get rid of them.

Frozen Library, Temple of Judgement, Frostmaw

Along the way to the forbidden library, with Brand and Lionel in tow, and all three atop their Tikifhlees (because at least two of those damned cats have been cooped up on the Tranquility for far too long and reaaaally needed to be walked), Khitti’d stop within the city itself to pick icecap mushrooms. Somehow, by sheer luck, this particular ingredient for the cure didn’t give them any trouble--then again, she hasn’t eaten them yet. Maybe later and maybe also not in a city of undead. Khitti’d brought along her violin as well, but even the ghosts proved uneventful. While this should probably be entirely foreboding, the redhead wasn’t deterred and would carry on to the crumbling steps of the ancient temple of Aramoth. As everything else was in Frostmaw, it was frozen. Hella frozen. Like, hell froze over frozen. Khitti would take the lead because of course she would because she’s impatient like that and this is a FORBIDDEN LIBRARY. A FORBIDDEN LIBRARY, GUYS. Khitti likes libraries. Or did you forget this? Surprisingly, though, she was pretty damned quiet as she went up those stairs ahead of the two Catalians and stopped once they got into the main room of the temple. Statues of each class within Lithrydel fill the room, a strange vortex of light and shadow battling for dominance of the temple looming overhead. The redhead stopped, first eyeing the statues carefully, and then looking down the passages that led east and west. “Don’t go zhat vay,” she said finally, pointing to the west. From down within that specific hallway, screams could be heard, while the opposite hallway had what felt like holy magic radiating from it. “Can we stop finding places like zhis? Please?” That’d be nice. Super nice. No more weird stuff for a long time. No? Okay. Fine.

Lionel heeded Hildegarde’s words of warning, but they only served to stoke him further. His hype has all but eclipsed the sun by the time he meets with Khitti and Brand on the morning of the trip to the forbidden library. All libraries are precious, wonderful places worthy of protection from the war-torn world they chronicle, but a library so in need of protection as to have become forbidden? It must be three stories high and filled to bursting with books on every herald, every arcane lore, every cultural relativism found in every civilization great and minor in every nook and cranny Lithrydel has ever known. It must be. “You are certain you do not wish my aid? I am quite proficient at research,” Esche reminds him as Lionel climbs his Tikifhlee. “You need to help me catch up on my swap rulings,” Lionel reminds Esche right on back. “These treaties are banal,” the elf protests. “The work of fiendish men so self-centered they’d conspire to starve the population just to get ahead. You deal with interlopers, vile devils who label themselves merchants as if to…” Lionel wags a finger, his Tikifhlee making a noise not unlike a meow in a bid to silence Esche from his disruptive noise-making. “It is like a duel,” Esche concludes, unfazed. “The paperwork is like a duel.” Lionel shrugs, leading the blue-eyed white Tikifhlee into the snow. “Then it’s time to d-d-d-d-d-duel,” the Catalian commands, disappearing into the blanket of white. In time, he’ll catch up with the others. And once he has, the disappointment sets in. His smile fades, replaced by a grimace that could scatter an old lady’s heart to the winds. The forbidden library looks like a dungeon. “The forbidden library looks like a dungeon,” Lionel gives voice to his bitter thought, grief-stricken and dour. “There’d better at least be books in here. Like, real books. Man, this is the worst. I was expecting… I don’t know. Rainbow bridges or something. You know, -forbidden library- things.” It’s then that he hears the screams. “You see? They’re disappointed, too. Everybody’s disappointed.”

Brand’s take on the temple is a rather disgruntled one, not that that’s far from his usual attitude. “A temple. It’s a gorram temple. Why is it always a gorram temple?” He pulls his flask from an inside coat pocket and downs a heavy swig. It fails to make his surroundings any more palatable. And when the screams first sound, he nearly chokes on his whiskey. Through splutters and coughs he adds, “At least I’m in good company. They don’t like it, either.” Narrowed, distrustful eyes take in the scenery as Khitti leads the way.

Khitti rolled her eyes at both blondes. “It’s in Frostmaw. It vas likely made by zheir ancestors. Zhey really like Aramoth. Of course, it’s a temple. You’re in a city of ruins in a frozen vasteland surrounded by zhe undead. Zhis place is exactly as it should be.” She’d not chance looking down the eastern corridor for fear that she’d have another repeat of Crispy-Fried KhitKhat a la Holy Magic, continuing on to the south instead to find the library as she muttered about rainbow bridges and whatever else they were complaining about. “It’s forbidden because it’s a temple of judgement. I’m honestly surprised zhe zhree of us aren’t dead right now if it really -does- judge you.” None of them were exactly innocent. Khitti stopped at the three-way intersection at this end of the temple; one way was dimly lit, the same side the screams had come from, while the other way was bright and not all that inviting to the redhead. “I’m going to need to go into both sides. Should ve split up? You two take zhe light and I take zhe dark? Zhings about Arkhen vould be down zhe light path. Vakmathras and Delisha down zhe other.”

Lionel feels an uncomfortable pang somewhere in his chest the instant Khitti mentions judgment. It’s Halycanos, pulsing through him like fire through redwood. No, he isn’t innocent, either. If Esche were here, he’d be the only one with divine protection against such magics -- but it’s just as well for the elf that he was denied passage, because the protection would in fact have been so divine that he would have been revealed to be more than he claims. And so it happens that Lionel’s piled-up paperwork has saved Esche from revealing secrets he’d rather not disclose at this juncture. Further into the temple, as lanterns pulse not out of flame but emerald and sapphire strands of mana, an eerie silence replaces the screams. Khitti’s words seem to cut through that silence, and the temple itself feels… dissatisfied with her for doing so. No action is taken; no pain delivered. But the sensation lingers. “I’m not sure you and Brand should split up,” Lionel replies. He offers no logic, no rhyme, no reason for his counter. “Let me handle the light alone. Arkhen, right? Too bad Rorin isn’t here. Wait, no, he’d never shut up. A prayer for breakfast, a prayer for lunch, a prayer every time you step on a damn twig. Kid’s better off elsewhere.” Lionel fades into the background as he speaks.

Brand is milliseconds from pouring some of his whiskey into a water-filled basin when Khitti makes her quip about judgment. He quivers with indecision, hand left hovering over the pewter dish. Probably -don’t- defile what might be holy water in a temple, Brand, even if you don’t believe in these or any other gods. Ultimately, the man retracts his flask, but not before a single drop falls and taints the liquid below. Brand freezes into a wince, but no divine hammer falls and it’s not long before he’s furtively looking toward his companions. Did anyone see that? Hopefully not. And hopefully nothing comes of it. Not that it would. Of course. Yes. “Right, er… darkness it is, then,” he agrees, stowing the flask away and hurriedly tracing Khitti’s steps. That’s probably the safer path after what just happened, anyway. Just in case.

Khitti frowned at the mention of Rorin, “If he vere even around, zhen I vould’ve gone to him in zhe first place. I told Hildegarde I didn’t vant to use my one chance at coming in here for zhis cure or Amarrah, and yet I’m doing it anyway. I know zhere’s likely plenty of other paladins of Arkhen about, but he’s really zhe only one I’d trust. Facilier called it zhe ‘Purity of Arkhen’, by zhe vay! It might be a spell or something.” The last bit was called down to Lionel as he went down the other corridor, “And don’t frakking break anything!” She’d probably get blamed for it somehow. “Don’t do zhat again,” Khitti said to Brand as she stalked off towards the darkness. Yeah, she saw that thing with the whiskey. On their end of things, they’d find that the room just as dimly lit as the hallway, the books in shades of red and black, and a shadowy-looking globe floating in the air above them; Lionel would find much the same thing on his side, except everything was all light and goodness and wonderful. Ew. Thankfully, things seemed to be alphabetized, the vampiress finding her way easily to where books on Delisha were neatly placed in a row. “If you don’t see anything about Vakmathras, or anything that might vork for zhis, ve’re going to have to go to Gevurah.” There was no small talk, only business now, and no hesitation when she suggested finding the Matron of the Underdark for what may end up being the final ingredient.

Lionel hears all about Rorin and paladins of Arkhen and what to look for and all sorts of other assorted jazz. He files it one ear and allows its departure from the other. He absolutely knows what he’s doing. Lionel has raided a few tombs in his time. There are probably flesh-eating mummies here, so he braces his fingers around an obsidian knife strapped to his belt. Spectral rays the colors of copper and honey and pale blue shine in on the obsidian at an odd curve, giving it a strange calming red glow. It’s holy magic, working its ethereal weaving upon the dusty expansive space which Lionel stalks. That is to say, at every turn now, every corner, these rays of light are smacking him, granting him a brilliance he’d rather do without. “Reminds me,” he mumbles once he’s well beyond his companions. “Xalious never thought to ask me how -I- felt about receiving the gift of agelessness. ‘Gods’ don’t stop to ask questions. They don’t consider anyone’s feelings but their own. If that’s what makes them gods, I’ve got a list as big as this temple of gods I’ve already slain. And if the possibility exists that I’ll watch every last one of them die while I live on aimlessly, then Xalious is in league with Khasad, and this stupid library is, too.” The last few words are a bit louder than he’d intended. At this, the spectral rays bounce off of him, over a dozen beams of light criss-crossing and spiraling and frantically shooting every which way. The haunted silence continues; no sound accompanies this mad colorful game of limbo, just swift blinding patterns. “Didn’t like that, eh, Arkhen? Some kind of asylum you’ve got running in here, eh? A real royal city you’ve established. Blind your own knights to your cause. Gods, I hate gods. Useless, self-centered. I’ve never seen a single one of you do a single thing for anyone but yourselves.” Suddenly, every beam contorts, distorts, and then fixates on a single pristine shield at the center of a hundred broken suits of armor. A shining beacon lights the path toward that shield. Lionel blinks, steps awkwardly over toward the shield, and takes a deep breath before touching its smooth, cool metal. The shield makes the first sound he’s heard from the library itself -- a low rumble like thunder. Lionel has no time to process this; it dissipates, like dust, and leaves behind a piece of parchment with an older dialect of the common tongue, difficult but decipherable. On it, the instructions for casting a certain spell. At once, Lionel senses -- deeply senses -- that this spell somehow factors into Khitti’s requirements. He can’t say just how, but his mind is filled with assurance. He clears his throat. “Occasionally, you’re not all bad.”

“Don’t do what again?” Brand asks, with all the feigned innocence of a cat coughing up canary feathers. Yeah. He knows what he did. He’s all too happy to slink toward the back end of the alphabetical shelves, and even happier he can actually read all these book spines -- the ones that aren’t worn by time, anyway. “Vakmathras,” mutters the Catalian, fingers grazing over book after book. “VakMATHras. Vakmathraaaaas. VAKmathras. Vakky McThras.” In his mumbling, the god’s name has become Catalianized, but relevant titles evade him for the time being. Brand’s hand pauses on a book about the casting of a ritual called the Valamal Dorann; it turns out he’s gone just slightly too far. Retracing his steps, he continues. “Vak Mothra. Mathvakras. Vakuumras. Ah!” Fingertips brush across a final book, which outright leaps from the shelf and into his hand. ‘The Geometry of Shadows: A Compendium by and for Vakmathras Followers in the Modern Age,’ says the cover. “Nothin’ modern about this,” Brand retorts, blowing off a mountain of dust before cracking the tome open.

Khitti side-eyed Brand carefully as he wandered around the section with the V’s, muttering every name he could possibly find aloud. A long stretch of silence would come from the redhead as she browsed through the D’s, brows furrowed as she attempted to concentrate on the task at hand. But, even still, something was bugging her and she finally voiced it as a book was plucked off the shelf, “Vhy vere you in my room?” Casually, she flipped through the old text, though nothing was found just yet about this ‘ambrosia’, her tone of voice calm despite the accusation. “Vhen I vas gone, zhat is.” Of course, he was often in her room when she was there, but… she’d not been there for some time and his scent had been on nearly EVERYTHING she owned and it was fresh too. Still, she continued on her search, until that rumbling occurred from the other side of the hallway in the Light portion of the library, “God damn it, I told him not to break anything.” Khitti snapped the book shut and stepped over to the doorway, yelling down it, “LIONEL. VHAT ZHE FRAK DID I SAY?!”

Lionel twitches his ear like some kind of foxkin and trots down the hall out of light and into darkness. “Start wreck,” he answers dryly. “Avoid break,” he corrects himself. “I didn’t break anything. Objects in motion, objects at rest. It all happened too quickly. There was a shield. Agents of Arkhen poured all over it. Or something. I found this piece of parchment. I can read most of the words, but some of it is very archaic. Iron, man. Lots of iron. We need a black widow, too. Something from a doctor…? Strange. Oh, wait. Heh. It’s upside-down.” Lionel turns the parchment 180 degrees and just like that it’s more traditional poultices and ether-solvents and various bits and baubles he doesn’t recognize. “Instructions for a spell. I can’t explain why, but I just -know- this will be helpful somehow. Believe you me, that is unsettling. But as they say, shrug.”

“Hmm?” Brand doesn’t appear to know what Khitti’s talking about. And then he does. “Oh, right, that. Yeah, I was sure I’d left my favorite shirt in your room. Looked all over for it thinkin’ maybe you’d put it away somewhere, ‘borrowed’ it again or somethin’. Then Lydia popped up n’ told me Dozla stole it as another of her gorram harebrained pranks.” He plays this off with a shrug. It ought to be no big deal if he’s in her room, right? And thankfully Lionel hops in with his rambling of shields and agents, a well-timed distraction. “I found nothin’ so fancy. Or, well, it found me. Anyway, Vakmathras worshipper book… tome… thing?” He practically dumps it into Khitti’s hands. His palms itch where he touched it, but he’s probably just spooking himself after the bit with the water basin.

Khitti had heard Lionel’s explanation, but instead stared at Brand for a long time, eyeing the blonde. Processing. Processing. Processing. Bluff check is a success. She blinked a few times, then tapped her chin, peering up at the ceiling, “Oh, you know vhat? I did take one of your shirts vith me. One of zhe black ones. Sorry. I’ll bring it back next time I go to Vailkrin. I needed a replacement for zhat green one zhat got ruined zhanks to Emrith. Still haven’t gotten around to going shopping yet. Maybe you should take me somewhere and pick out something for me.” The redhead grinned innocently at Brand, then yelled down to the other Catalian down the hall, “It definitely helps if you read zhe spell right side up, you know. Maybe not read it aloud either. I’d rather you not summon Arkhen’s light and burn me to a crisp. If zhat’s even vhat it does.”

Lionel scoffs at this snide insinuation. "I scoff at this snide insinuation." His voice is too jesting for genuine scoffing. "Well, how are things on your end, then? Should I go back there? I'd rather not, if I'm being honest. It's an awful headache, having something -- or someone -- suddenly in one's mind. Then again..." Lionel coughs awkwardly, glancing about at nothing in particular. "I suppose we're all rather well aware of that." If Hollow were a television series, the camera would swivel in a cheap but effective helicopter shot right now and we'd see the expressions of each of these three characters. There'd probably be a fast-paced little bass chord, too. The backdrop would be unnaturally bright despite the dark zone Khitti has chosen in order to accentuate the jovial nature of Lionel's remark. The mise-en-scene would be decidedly absurdist and faux-French accents might be mandatory. But Hollow is, arguably, not a television series so none of this transpires. Instead he holds out what he's found and waits for someone to snatch it from him. Outside the dungeon that is also a library, someone light-footed steps on a twig and curses at their amateur error. She controls her breathing, calms herself, and slinks back into the shrubbery.

Brand has had enough handling of powerful and mysterious documents for one day, thanks. He doesn’t touch the spell Lionel holds out on display, though he does crane his neck a bit in order to peer at it from a suitable distance. “Yep. That sure is a thing.” Enlightening commentary as usual, Brand. But really, he’s just playing up the distraction from this conversation of shirts and rooting around in Khitti’s room. The bluff was successful, but that’s no reason to push his luck. “We found a book. Er, -I- found a book.” He points at Khitti, current holder of said book, then forces his hands to his sides. His palms still itch. He rubs them uncomfortably against the pockets of his trousers, hoping that will put a stop to the sensation. “If that’s it, maybe we can get outta here?” It’s all in his head, right? It’s all in his head. He’s just spookin’ himself, that’s all. “Place is gorram creepy,” he mutters.

Khitti does indeed snatch the spell from Lionel, a greedy look in her eyes. “ ‘To conjure Arkhen’s Purity, just click your heels zhree times and say ‘Omelette du fromage’.’ ” Khitti squinted at the parchment, then did exactly what it said to do, clicking those boot heels of hers together, “Omelette du fromage!” A bright light appeared overhead and from the heavens descended a cheese omelette, coming down with plop! right on Brand’s head. “Oh my.” Khitti did it once more. “Omelette du fromage?” Another one manifested from naught but a brief beam of holy light and landed on Lionel’s shoulder. “Oh my god. Zhe purity of Arkhen is food. No vonder zhere’s mushrooms in zhe recipe! Zhis is wunderbar!” This is… probably not what any of them expected, but at least it was delicious. “And yes, zhe scaredy cat over here found a book.” Pocketing the Arkhen spell, she flipped through the pages, eyeing the book's table of contents with a hm. “Hm.”

Lionel has food on his shoulder. "Ah! Food!" Outside, the spying trespasser leans against an old elm to tie her shoe, silently cursing the unruly lace. When she hears Khitti's chant, she lofts a brow and her face pales. "Surely that can't be right...?" The woman grimaces, bites her lip, and begins to wonder if this journey were for naught. Her ears perk as Lionel cries out. "Alright," she whispers. "This must be where it begins." But then he cries about food. "What...?" This is lunacy, she dwells. Pure lunacy, Arkhen's or otherwise. She's followed the band all the way here, and for what? Brunch? "Insane. I can't even... hey?" Suddenly, the woman is no longer alone. Black-clad and heavily-armored, three unaffiliated Frost Giants gather around her. Their footsteps are like thunder; how did they manage to sneak up on a nimble cutpurse like B'Elanna? It's all she can think about as she squirms and darts through the legs of the largest of the lot, and then she screams. Might as well, right? She's not getting out of here alone. "I'm under attack! And it's definitely, positively, absolutely, -not- my fault!"

Brand has omelette in his hair. His precious, carefully maintained hair. Today is officially the worst. “Today is officially the worst,” grouses Brand, carrying on with the day’s fine tradition of fourth-wall breaking. And then, quite suddenly, screaming, and sounds resembling the breaking of actual walls. Whatever the frak is going on, it’s causing quite the ruckus. Brand conjures a torrent of water to wash away the eggy, cheesy clump settled on his head (sorry Lionel, you’re on your own) and leads the charge out to meet whatever is waiting for them. It’s as good an excuse as any to get the frak outta this creepifyin’ place.

Khitti frowned at Brand, “You’re a jerk.” He couldn’t have just eaten the omelette, could he? “At least you didn’t get egg on your face. Sheesh.” And then he’s off to save another damsel in distress that -isn’t- her and she’s suddenly -a little- jealous (okay maybe more than a little). “Vill you go help him, Lionel? I don’t need him getting stabbed or something. He’s getting pretty old and needs help vith zhings more often lately,” she’d say to Lionel with a heavy sigh, the last sentence shouted so that Brand could hear her as he wandered off. “I’ll be fine here.” Would she -really- be fine here? I mean, she’s in a library surrounded by books of pure evil. It’s probably okay. Maybe.

Lionel understands. "Stuff doesn't work the way it used to." He nods faux-sagely. "A little bit of a rise can cause the heart to beat too quickly. Dizziness during exertion. Last but not least, forgetfulness." He starts down the hall in a sprint, but he's forgotten his omelette, and it falls from his shoulder nearly to slump on the cold stone floor. Lionel dizzies himself by swerving to catch the foodstuff in his right hand mid-run, but the motion presents a great difficulty in rising. His heart beats quickly -- perhaps too quickly? -- as he and Brand burst through the expansive steel double doors and spot the stranger-woman besieged by guttural and teeth-gnashing Frost Giants. "Come 'ere, ye aren't s'posed tuh be here," one of them demands. He turns to face the Catalians, scratches the back of his considerable neck, and nods. "Right, then. We're sentries. Hail, Commander Lionel. Found this one wandering the premise, we did. Resistin' arrest an' all that jazzabellaria." Indeed, the woman is twisting and turning spryly in a repeated motion, narrowly avoiding the Giants' long arms and kicking legs over and over again. But they have surrounded her like a triangular force, and she's pinned. Soon, she will be defeated. "That's bullfrell!" B'Elanna protests, launching her foot into a Giant's meaty middle finger. In response, the Giant flicks her, and she's flung into a small puddle and her face is mud. "I'm inclined to agree with the foul-mouthed femme fatally-clumsy," Lionel agrees. The Frost Giants' faces would turn to ice now if the comparison weren't oxymoronic. "What? Why, what ever do ye mean, Commander?" Lionel's having himself a right fine day for repeated scoffing. "You're not even dressed for the part. And none of you fight in the Satoshian style or any of the rest of them. You're barbarians, I say, and you won't be tolerated." B'Elanna spits mud from her mouth and cheers. "Right! That's the way! You tell these lug-brained overcompensating whelps who's boss!" She's flicked again for her trouble, and lands in another puddle. "As for Little Miss Whoever of House Wherever over there, she's either in league with you or she's an independent trespasser. Either way, you're all under arrest. Brand, the one on the left." Lionel draws his combat knife smoothly, and quickly for that matter, but by the time its steel is catching the misty raindrops of the passing shower, the Frost Giants have given up their facade and they're expanding their triangular attack pattern to envelop the two men. A female Giant, the one to Brand's left, is covertly making ready to cast a terrible spell…

That omelette was tainted by hair product. No way Brand was going to eat it. He won’t explain that to Khitti, though -- he’s too busy running, running away. There’s someone out there to help that -isn’t- going to make constant fun of him, dammit. (Well. Probably.) And so the two Catalians emerge, and words are exchanged, and… well, it’s worth noting that none of this is quite what Brand had expected. He’d pictured some waifish woman with weak ankles getting caught by a crumbling wall or pillar or somesuch, pinned to the ground and in need of some strong fellow to come along and lift the offending debris off of her. This, directly followed by undying gratitude and a sultry look or two to reminisce over in his bunk later. (He has very specific fantasies, okay? Also, he’s probably been reading too much of Khitti’s fairy tale books. Again.) All of that said, he has to ogle the woman a bit to confirm she’s not at all what he’d had in mind before he can focus. Focus, Brand. Who the frak takes this long to cast a spell, anyway? This giantess, that’s who. Lucky for him or he’d probably be dust by now. Well, the man collects his bearings just soon enough to roll out of the path of the inevitable spell, somersaulting forward and between her legs. It’s a time-old trick for facing a bigger foe and not even all that creative, to be honest, but he’ll keep doing it as long as giants keep falling for it. Now that he’s at her backside, he cues up his standard barrage of flame, lickety-split. Some of us stacked points in Haste, you know.

As Lionel overexerts himself and Brand’s fantasies get the better of him, Khitti’s left to scour the whole of the book Brand bestowed upon her. If only she knew what was going on in Brand’s head right now… she’d probably break up with him or something. That’s what he wants anyway, right? She was certain of it. He wanted to be free of her forever, but just didn’t want to say it to her because he didn’t want to hurt her feelings? Yes. Right. Probably. As this train of thought goes on in her head, she managed to find the thing known as ‘Vakmathras’ Blessing’ and flipped to the page with the spell on it. “Vakmathras’ Blessing: an object so vile and corrupted zhat vhen consumed, you vill know only pain and suffering.” Cue Khitti staring at the camera like this is an episode of The Office. “Right. Okay. Conjure up a ball of shadow, zhen release it into zhe air like fairy dust and say ‘Ouais! Pain grillé!’ “ So. She does this. And. Disgusting butterless blackened toast spills forth from the shadows, pelting all in range, inside the temple and outside as well. Khitti let out a scream of her own as she’s hit in the face, the charred bread leaving its overly done crumbs on her poor face before falling to the floor.

Lionel watches from out of his peripheral as the female Giant is scorched on her white-furred upper back, and she howls in protest and swings around, dukes up and rearing to knock Brand clear unconscious. Lionel smacks his left foot into the mud and takes off in a charge to plunge his knife into her kneecap while she's distracted. The cut is like a splinter to the beastly woman, but the splinter nevertheless successfully distracts her; she wails furiously and the triangle is broken, giving Brand and Lionel an optional escape route. Meanwhile, B'Elanna is huffing but attacking only the Frost Giants, not the Catalians. "I expect a shorter sentence on the grounds of civilian arrest," she grumbles, but after a victorious skyward upper cut to one of the Giants' chins, she's lifted into the air again and nearly thrown into a hillside. "Real ace job with that," Lionel shoots back, adjusting his blitz course to swing the knife in a scrambling arc toward her captor's abdomen. The Giant jumps back, hisses, and reaches for a bone club... but the club, and his human female prey, and his confused face, are all pelted with toast so black, so plentiful, it darkens the grey skies into obsidian. Night falls upon the realm, terrible and potentially carcinogenic. The Frost Giants howl, and scream at one-another to sound the retreat, and a huge clump of too-ripe wheat falls into one Giant's gaping jaw, and he tastes ashes in his mouth and knows that the debt is repaid. "We repent," the female Giant declares. "Oh, we repent... make it stop! Make it end and we'll come willingly..." Carbs, carbs, everywhere, and not a crumb to eat. As the deluge comes to a close, the raindrops are precious in washing away the toast, but the emotional damage will last for at least twenty minutes. Lionel systematically cuffs them each to thick trees and B'Elanna whistles conspicuously and saunters over to Brand. "What say you a strapping sailor-man takes a hapless lass away from this... this authoritarian arsehat in favor of a drink?"

You see, Brand has already been knocked unconscious in a fight. Quite recently, actually. He’s not so eager to revisit the recovery that such an injury entails, plus he’s probably killed enough brain cells with whiskey as it is. Well, it turns out he doesn’t have to. Deus ex ustilo, saved by the bread. Only not, because Brand is buried under a mountain of it and has to dig himself out. The lady helps. And… and now she’s flirting. Oh boy. “Er,” he stalls eloquently, still dusting scorched particles off of his clothes. A glance to Lionel pleads for his assistance, and there’s even a glance down the hall to where Khitti, presumably, will be marching from shortly. “I’m not a sailor,” he lies, and goes to find the vampiress. It’s only when he’s close to his destination that he realizes: how does she even know he’s a sailor, anyway? He doesn’t exactly try to look the part, especially here in Frostmaw.

It’s probably for the best that Khitti was preoccupied inside the temple rather than outside with this chick who seems to think she can start hitting on Khitti’s man. Gurrrrrl, you are so lucky. So. Frakkin’. Lucky. But, no. Khitti has no idea what’s going on. With anything. She managed to summon toast? This is not the droid--er spell--you’re looking for, woman. Khitti flipped to the page before the spell and eyed its contents, then facepalmed. “Zhis is literally just part of how to make an evil breakfast. Zhe Breakfast of Dead Champions.” Sigh. “Goddamn it.” Cue Khitti slamming the book closed in irritation. “Looks like I’m gonna have to talk to zhat Gevurah bitch.” Lionel was -probably- not going to like this. Brand probably wouldn’t either, but then again, he had let the drow matron onto his ship. The book’s shoved back onto the shelf with a sigh before she goes back to looking through the Delisha section. There was a hell of a lot of raunchy stuff in there. Somehow a copy of Hudson’s mom’s book made it in section too? “Gross.” There was a few editions of a long since past magazine that featured naked frost giant ladies, a few sheets of music with a song about a Love Shaq by someone called 52 Bees. Sifting through all of that madness, she somehow managed to find a book called ‘Delicious Delicacies by Delisha ft: Delisha’s Ambrosia!’. Well, that was easy. More ingredients, of course, but all ones she could easily buy in shops around Lithrydel. And then it had to be assembled in the temple in Larket? The urge to just rip the page out of the book was there, buuuuut she resisted and scribbled it down instead. Right. Okay. The Arkhen spell was studied again and… oh look. Khitti read the spell wrong. Again. This was not supposed to conjure omelettes at all. “Hey, guuuuuuuys?! I need you to read zhis vhile I hide.” The redhead shadowstepped her way out of the room to go find the Catalians--and promptly finds one. By running into him. Sorry, Brand.

Lionel side-eyes B'Elanna, who in turn side-eyes him. It would appear this is the extent of the man's interest in the stranger, which is perhaps a curious reaction for Frostmaw's Steward to have when an intruder stalks the entrance to the Forbidden Library. He begins to climb a frozen rock face with suitable organic hooks and grooves along its side. A better vantage point is needed now, to determine the likelihood of further incident with the Frost Giant assailants who, unlike this woman, Lionel deems a genuine threat. "What?" She asks Brand, studying Lionel briefly before drifting her attention to the Tranquility's captain. "Sailor's just an expression, right? I didn't mean an -actual- sailor. It's like, when a woman is flirting with a man, she sometimes says..." And he's gone. It is now that B'Elanna spots Khitti in the distance, and she raises a hand to her mouth and scoffs. "Well it bloody well figures. Unbelievable. What's a girl got to do to meet such a fellow in a place like this? And you!" She shouts it at Lionel, who for all intents and purposes seems not to notice. "I swing by suspiciously and you let me off the hook so easily? The whole lot of you are -boring!-" Lionel tilts, shrugs. "It occurs to me you were after information. You got caught in the cross-hairs of a perilous situation instead. Now you'll leave, lacking in whichever information you sought. I'm in the middle of sixteen thoughts, all of which supersede your complaint." His delivery is monotone; his back is turned. B'Elanna holds her arm out and imitates the firing of a bow. "Dullard," she mumbles, but then she curses herself for failure. "Can I at least loot the corpses?" A quick gesture to the Frost Giants. "Nope." A separate gesture, this time involving a single finger on her pale right hand. "Tyrant." B'Elanna's mumbling continues as she fades into the snow, pulling her cloak up around her. After a few moments, Lionel is satisfied enough with the smallness of the woman's silhouette that he returns to his companions. "Find what you needed?'

“ ‘Hide?’ Hide from what?” Brand asks, calling down the hall. Though, it seems his projection is unnecessary, as Khitti’s just projected herself into his gut. Ouch. “Woman--” he grumbles, pushing her off and holding her at arm’s length, “--the seven hells you doing? You just teleport yourself all willy-nilly without lookin’ where you’re goin’, you’re gonna teleport yourself into a wall or something. Maybe don’t.” He could probably still free her from such a predicament, but that doesn’t mean he’d want to take the time to do so.

Khitti for a brief moment saw that woman and then she was gone. What the hell was going on? Well, it didn’t matter now because Brand was yelling at her. “I’m sorry.” She was sincere, it seemed, despite that odd and clearly not-like-her mood that she’d been in since the Shadow Plane. Khitti even felt a bit awkward and took a step or two away from him, frowning as she stared down at the parchment with the Arkhen spell on it. Thankfully, Lionel managed to show up and return her thoughts to the task at hand and not her failures as a person with teleporting powers. “Um. I read zhe spell vrong and I need one of you to do it.” Sigh. “Unless you’d like to deal vith another repeat of vhat happened vhen Rorin used his magic. I’d, uh, rather not.” No crispy-fried KhitKhats please. “Just follow zhe somatic components and recite zhe spell.” If read correctly, it would produce a glowing orb teeming with holy energy. Knowing Arkhen--and Rorin--there’d probably be some sort of lightshow too. Hopefully, it wouldn’t be something that persisted even after it’s been made. Without another word, Khitti shoved the paper at Brand and returned to the darkened room, without using her portal magic, and peered around the corner at them.

Lionel nibbles his lower lip and tries to appear confident. In truth, he'd rather avoid taking a stab at this line of work. Involving himself with any sort of magical property outside his inherited Ishaarite is not Lionel's cup of tea, and even then he's been at peace with Halycanos for well over a decade but there's still a deep resentment toward the powers he's afforded as a result. There isn't anything he wouldn't do for Khitti, but he doesn't have to like it. "Yay, light shows," he remarks in a cheerful enough tone. "We'll be careful." Seeing that the note's been shoved into Brand's hand, not his own, he turns to regard his fellow Catalian as she peers at them from afar. "I'll follow your lead on this one. I'm no mage, not really, and even if this is more of an alchemical romance, I'm still not overly familiar."

“Uh. Right. Okay.” Brand clears his throat and squints at the paper, pulling it closer to and then further away from his face until his vision properly focuses. The words on the page are pronounced slowly and carefully, and sure enough the bright ball of light appears before them, twinkling away. The Catalian searches up and down the hall; surely, there’s something to contain this strange orb in? Ceramic pots and dusty paintings line the walls, but there’s nothing quite suitable to the task. Grumbling, Brand ‘pushes’ the orb ahead of him -- in truth, his fingers never quite make contact, but the sphere of light retreats as if magnetically repelled -- and heads back into the room of light that Lionel had searched before. One of the shelves is lined with jars of various magical ingredients, and the blonde takes it upon himself to dump out the contents of one (‘Purified Rosemary,’ says the label) and herd the sphere in its place. Even with the lid clamped down and sealed tight, Brand can almost swear he hears the orb calling out to him. “Hey! Listen!” Grimacing, Brand stows the rosemary away in a pocket and returns to his companions. Hopefully him hearing things isn’t some sort of karma for desecrating this place.

Khitti squinted as it seemed to take Brand forever to read the paper, but then he did it and there was a hell of a lot of light. Ow. It definitely hurt to look at. As Brand guided it along into the other room, she crept up behind him, using the Catalian’s slightly larger form to shield herself from the light. “Whoa. Did it just talk?” Yeah, she definitely heard it too. Despite being contained, it was still bright as hell and she let out a yelp and ran back to Lionel and hide behind him instead when it was clear that Brand was heading back out of the room. It was definitely sapping her magic at the very least, even if she wasn’t charbroiled by it. “Frakking Facilier. Of course he’d make -zhis- an ingredient. And--” speaking of ingredients, she frowned and remembered the thing about the Vakmathras one--”zhat book vasn’t helpful. I’m going to have to go to zhe Underdark. Or… Gevurah’s going to have to come up here. Funny enough, I zhink I might trust a drow matron over Larewen still and vhen it comes to Vakmathras followers, I don’t have much choice in zhe matter. Found zhe Delisha’s Ambrosia, zhough. Need to gather more ingredients, but it’s all simple and nothing like zhat,” she said motioning to the jar Brand held. “But, I need to go to Larket… to zhe Delisha temple.” None of that sounded good. Larket. Delisha. More temples. Ugh.

Lionel watches sparks fly and brings tension to his stance in preparation for the many what-ifs of if something should happen to go horribly wrong. This perspective is supported when Khitti hides behind him. Instinctively he stretches his arms to improve the span of his presence and further shield her. In the meantime, a bareil -- a pink, thick-skinned, rabbit-sized creature roughly the size of a rabbit which has migrated en masse from fissures deep within the earth's surface -- trots through a network of tunnels between wall paneling. It's been alive for all of 87 days, but it's almost reached its full growth. Sticking its long, straw-like tongue out, the bareil feasts on a hearty helping of baby spiders. Pleased, the bareil makes a sound not unlike a 'snrk' and trots further. Bareils are creatures of light, beings with a purer spirit energy than most. Although they appear trite, with their vacant little brown orbs for eyes and imprecise hoofed feet causing them to jump irregularly as they run, the bareil are in fact holy beings. It perks up its snout as it senses the spell, and seconds later it evaporates into simple heavenly energy. It's become one with the incantation, bolstering it and adding to the powerful magical essences of this place. The next time an intruder should sneak in with dark intent, whether they are a peon or a warlord, they will be burned to ashes where they stand. Luckily, Lionel and his cohorts are here on noble intent. No matter Khitti's so-called alignment, no matter her physicality, she -- like her allies -- is a friend to bareil. The friends of bareil need fear no reaper. "Gevurah and Larewen," Lionel says. "Picking poisons, I see. Oi."

“Oi,” Brand agrees. “Her again.” He frowns at the jar, as if it is the orb’s fault the Vakmathras spell didn’t work. “Hello~!” it seems to say again, but Brand is in absolutely no mood for this nonsense (when is he ever?) and hands the jar off to Lionel. “Here, er, find something to hide this in so it’s not so gorram bright.” He’s done his part. And prophetic talking trees are bad enough, okay? He doesn’t need to add this to his list of problems. Yeesh.

Khitti gingerly took the jar from him--but not without a bit of singing of her hands--and shoved it into a pocket of her coat. “Ow! Damn it.” Thankfully, she still had that salve that Brand gave her ages ago to help soothe the burn on her hands when she used her fire magic. “Hm. I vonder if it’s some sort of fae. Too bad it’s gonna have to die.” Khitti says this way too calmly and with a shrug. “Maybe I’ll be able to conjure up another one after zhe cure or something.” She’s then nodding to Lionel, albeit distractedly as she heard a ‘snrk’? And then a shift in magical energy in the room. But, she saw nothing. The bareil had gone unseen. Sad. “Aye. Gevurah vent vith us to zhe Shadow Plane… and I might’ve helped her open up a portal here in Frostmaw awhile back.” She coughs innocently, “She, uh, vanted a gloomglut.” Cue awkward side-eyed to anywhere else, but Lionel. “I’m assuming it vent vell because I’ve not heard from her and zhere’s no gloomgluts vreaking havoc around here. But, she owes me a favor--and I’ve still got zhe means to contact her too.” That bead Gevurah had given to Khitti as a way to contact her through a blood ritual had gone forgotten until now, but she definitely knew she had it. “I suppose ve’re done here. Not sure about you, Lionel, but Brand might vant to go to zhe temple in Larket vith me. I guess ‘Delisha’s Ambrosia’ is some sort of wine. If he’s nice, I might let him try it. I, uh, also don’t exactly know vhat’s going to go on zhere. Delisha followers… zhey’re veird.”

Twitching, Lionel takes a single step away from the jar. "A portal... in Frostmaw," he repeats slowly. It's not that this hasn't happened before. After all, he's been to the Shadow Realm once himself, and twice the Guild has utilized portal magics under the guidance of High Priestess Leone. But this little revelation is linking easily-corruptible dark arts to the drow matriarchy of all organizations. Lionel is steward now. He has to think about the bigger picture. This is alarmingly simple when he's spent the better part of his life fearing what he knows too well what bigger pictures are capable of, drow armies included. "Khitti," he starts, "legions of drow once rolled over half the realm and threatened to choke all other life from it. Please be cautious." It's all he's going to say on the matter. Lionel is, as it happens, substantially better-read than he was when that happened. But he still struggles to separate individual drow, seeing them as more of a collective mob mentality than is necessarily the case. Gevurah herself has done nothing to sway his mindset. "I'll join you for that wine, I think." He's going to need it.

Brand’s hands still itch, albeit mildly so. It could be all in his head, but he’s starting to become visibly disturbed by the implications. “Yeah. Wine. Good.” He doesn’t wait for said wine, but pulls out his flask once more and takes another heavy drag from it. He’s not going to rely on ‘mights’ and ‘maybes’ for his buzz -- and besides, does he really want to trust this promised wine all that much? “Drunken religious groupies… maybe not so good.” That sounds like the voice of experience. “We wanna get that done today, get it good n’ over with?” There’s a story or two behind the look he gives Khitti now, as he tugs at her garb to be a bit more… conservative about the chest region. “You’ll thank me later,” he says, trying to preempt the offense he’s sure she’ll take.

Khitti frowned at Lionel, opened her mouth to say something, buuuuut, chose not to. What she wanted to say was that she totally had that situation handled. Plus! It seemed better to trust a drow nowadays than it did the majority of the people that she had to work with or call friends, but that probably wouldn’t have gone over well either. There is a brief flash of irritation though, not unlike the mood she’d been in as of late. Didn’t he trust her to make sure things went smoothly? She may not have all of this fancy schmancy training with regards to getting people to do what she wants, but her and Gevurah seemed to have a mutual respect for one another--though most people wouldn’t see that as a good thing. She’d check in on Gevurah and the whole gloomglut thing once they went to see her, just to be safe. Her train of thought was soon derailed as Brand tugged at her shirt, that same frustrated look given to him, “Vhat?” There was that attitude too; it melted away somewhat, when she realized the conversation had changed topic again, but not entirely. “Right. Fine. Yes. Let’s go.”