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The bittersweet scent of magic clung to the frigid morning air. Four figures clad in heavy woolen cloaks stood huddled about a meager fire, hands outstretched over the sputtering flames. Frost gathered on the leaves that rustled overhead. The grass beneath their feet was woven with threads of winter white. It was hardly autumn, and yet dark clouds heavy with snow threatened them from beyond the horizon, and winds tugged at their clothes with horridly icy fingers.

“My people starve,” said the figure clad in black. She towered amongst her companions. Her hood did little to obscure the short tusks that protruded from her bottom lip and the crooked, broken horns that grew from her skull. “The shamans are blinded by this storm. No crops will grow. No animals wander our lands.”

“As I have tried to tell you all, the magic in the land is fading,” snapped another: an elf with his face obscured against the cold. His long, auburn hair swirled about him in the wind.

“It is true,” said another elf. His skin was paper-thin and pale. Dark circles dragged at his eyes. “Beasts of magic weaken. Warlocks have no strength. We fear the end is upon the mortal species.”

The shortest of them all, a dwarf, shuffled her feet into the embers. “And you haven’t a plan for this?”

The elves exchanged glances. The pale elf clutched his cloak tighter about his body and hunched closer to the flames. “We are all species born of magic. There must be a cooperative solution.”

The dwarf shook her head gravely. “The humans offer no aid?”

“None,” said the red-headed elf, disheartened. “But we have spoken to the council of elves and to all of the elven people, and they have agreed to send an agent to accompany me in finding the reason for this fading of magic. We were truly hoping you might send agents of your own.”
The orc grunted. “I haven’t the resources to spare for such a task with unknown results… But I will see what my king will do.”

The dwarf nodded her agreement.

"Send them to the crossroads, if you find the aid," said the old elf.

The fire burned down to the coals and the four took their leave. The elves mounted the horses that stood waiting for them at the edge of the clearing and rode off through the quiet, solemn wood, holding the tense disappointment of the meeting between them without words. When at last they reached the edge of the grove, the path widened into a more traveled road back toward their elven domain. But at the next fork, the elves slowed their horses and reached between them to clasp arms.

“I will go to the towns and search for aid on this quest, if you will do the same in the elven lands. Whoever you find, send back to meet me here at these crossroads in five days’ time. Prepare them for a journey.”

“I will,” said the old, pale elf. The two exchanged graceful bows, and then parted ways.

The red-headed elf traveled west into the city, where he told every able-bodied individual he happened upon about the predicament with magic and the direness of the world’s situation. Many waved him off, and few asked of an reward he could not promise. After a day of searching and begging, all hope seemed lost. When at last the watery sun sank below the horizon and the city quieted with sleep, the weary elf slipped into the nearest inn and sat down at a corner table, hoping a little rest would motivate him to search ever further. If this city held no offers, the next was at least a three days’ ride. Perhaps the news of the elf’s frantic searching would spread throughout the city. Or perhaps the old elven sage would send him a miracle.

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Closed for Pengolodh! (Not sure if there is a tag feature, sorry.)
Lallindir (played by Pengolodh)

This was bad. This was horrible. This was... the end of his world.

He was back to the beginning, and that was what scared him the most. Back to relying on sticks and touch and feel to navigate the world. For years, he had been using magic to give him sight, so that he could walk around a room without bumping into things and read the spines of the books he sold without having to feel the engraved leather and guess whether or not it was the right tome. But that was gone now. Well, not completely gone, just spotty. But it had been getting increasingly spotty as the weeks wore on, like trying to pull water from a tank that was nearly empty and not refilling nearly fast enough to keep up with his needs. Sometimes he could see, sometimes he couldn't. Right now? He was blind as the day he lost his eyes.

And that was exactly what had landed him in the tavern tonight. The shop was already closed for the evening, and for that he was extremely grateful. All day he had been asking his customers, "Can you please describe it to me?" and although it had started out embarrassingly enough, by the end of the day it was outright grating. Some of the regulars who came in weren't so bad; they understood his limitations, and that sometimes the spells that let him see just... failed. It was the strangers from out of town, the caravaners he only saw twice a year, the bounty hunters looking to sell their loot that he saw maybe once in their lifetime, those were the ones who drove him to drinking tonight. All day he had considered just how badly it would need to get before he was forced, for his own sanity, to sell the business. If his magic kept failing, there was no way he could keep in business without help.

He needed to not think tonight. And if not thinking meant drinking copious amounts of alcohol, then so be it. Lallindir's ear flicked as he picked up the light clicking of the barmaid's shoes on the wooden floor boards, the squeak of one telling him she was within a few paces of him. Idly, he held out his empty tankard to her, and uttered his quiet thanks when the weight of more ale filled his mug. His third tonight. Oh well. He needed it right now, or at least that was what he told himself, as he picked at the knot holding his blindfold in place.
The warmth and cloying scent of ale almost convinced the elf that he was hungry. Perhaps he was. The worry kept his appetite at bay. He watched strangers come and go; fishermen looking for a drink to warm their bellies, merchants celebrating or mourning the day's profits. The inn was fittingly quiet. No bard played his usual tunes by the crackling fire. Voices remained sober murmurs. Even beings not born of magic felt the change in the air. It was a drag at the souls of all mortal beings. Their world was dying, and they showed no care.

Something dark flickered behind Cyrana's eyes. He shook his head to clear it and ran a hand over his face. When the tavern wench approached him for the second time that night asking if he wanted at least a heel of buttered bread, he smiled and shook his head, but slid her a copper coin regardless. She accepted it shyly and slipped back into the muted din of the tavern. The elf sat back in his chair and scanned the room of all its faces. It remained momentarily on an elf sitting a few tables away from him. It was not rare by any means to see other elves in the cities and on the roads. But no others that Cyrana had spoken to that night seemed interested in his mission, or refused to believe what he knew to be true.

Summoning the courage to speak, the elf pushed himself to his feet and crossed the tavern. A few gazes burned into him as he passed. A human woman covered in tattoos sneered at him. He paid them no heed. Cyrana stopped in front of the elf at the opposite side of his table and regarded him curiously. "May I sit?" he asked, beckoning to the chair.
Lallindir (played by Pengolodh)

He heard the footsteps approaching long before the other elf spoke. And he knew it was an elf, too, by the way he walked. Yes, he. Footfalls too light for a human, much less a dwarf or any else. He knew they were male by the length of their strides. Sure, there were some ladies with longer legs that might have been able to take larger steps like that, but the chances of the one approaching being male were far more likely. Long before he had learned to see through magic, Lallindir had made it a habit of using his ears to learn more about the dark world he walked through. It helped to have the early warning, more often than not, especially when there were so many who came into his shop to trade. Elves, dwarves, men, all with their own cultural expectations, and his former teacher had impressed upon him the great importance of making your patrons feel welcome and comfortable around you. Not only because it resulted most often in better prices, but it kept them coming back.

"If you wish." His response was short, but not unkind, and accompanied by a shrug. If his brother elf wanted to share a space with him this evening, he wouldn't deny him. People of their kind were hard to come by these days, as immortality and affinities for magic seemed to fall more and more out of fashion. Even if he wanted to talk, it wouldn't bother Lallindir too much. These days he did little of it, outside of working his shop. Most of the friends he had bothered to make in his younger years were long gone, and talking with their children just didn't seem to hold any value. It was heartbreak every time they passed on, knowing he would never see his friends again. After a while, then, he just stopped making them. Better to shield his heart behind impenetrable walls of apathy than to befriend all of the living things who would eventually leave him.
The chair scraped against the wooden floors, drawing the attention of few, and the elf sat gracefully. He hesitated to speak. Where would be begin? By asking if the elf had noticed the waning in magic? By starting with the insensitivity of humans by asking of the weather, the crop that year? It was then that Cyrana fixed his gaze upon the elf's face. He stared long into his eyes, the movement of the muscles in his face, perhaps the lack of wandering pupils. The elf's brows furrowed. He folded his slender hands upon the table.

"I apologize if I am burdening your quiet evening," began the elf. "But there is something urgent I must discuss with you, and seeing that you are also elven, I assumed you would be more accepting of what I am going to say."

A sharp pang struck at the elf's heart. It hurt him to be telling such grave news to yet another soul who might brush him off as mad. If this elf did not see how dire the situation at hand was, there was little hope in anyone else. Even the elves in the great domains would shy away from such a task. Many feared the origins of magic and wished to let the world resolve its own problems. But Cyrana knew this was no natural occurrence.

"I am a scholar of sorts. I study magic as a natural source of energy. And lately, a few colleagues and I have noticed a... a fading of magic. Many elves have complained that their abilities have weakened. And the other races born of magic have noticed the fading as well. I have been approaching everyone with this information, but I can find no help. I'm seeking someone to aid me on a journey to find the cause of this." The elf sat back, holding the breath in his lungs. He cast his eyes to the floor, almost afraid of looking upon the elf's face in case he were able to make out the emotions there. Just another suspicious glare, or raised eyebrow, or leering grin would shatter his hopes.
Lallindir (played by Pengolodh)

Lallindir listened quietly to what this stranger had to say, only moving to tug the fabric over his eyes, just to make sure it was covering everything important. How many times in his past had the blindfold slipped as a result of his fidgeting with it, revealing the horribly scarred, occasionally still-weeping remains of his sockets? If that wasn't a good way to frighten away decent company, he didn't know what else was. Perhaps a rotting corpse, but there were some days he felt like one anyway.

"So it is not just me, then." The elf sighed, running his fingernails over his scalp. He paused, then, wondering exactly how much he should divulge to this stranger, but he was kin, and kin were hard to come by these days. "I... usually use magic to help me see. I was burned as a child, and left completely blind. These days, more and more often, the spells fail me, like I am trying to draw water from a well that is gone dry, leaving me to rely on more... primitive... methods." He rapped his knuckles against the wooden rod he had propped up against the table beside him. It was embarrassing, having to carry his stick and use it to feel around like someone trying to navigate a muddy swamp, after so many years of being able to walk around almost normally.

"I'm not sure how much help a blind arcanist will be to you, though. It sounds like you're probably after someone a little more... capable." Lallindir's heart sank, just s bit. It had been decades, no, probably closer to a century, since he had been beyond the gates of the town. It was just safer to stay within its guarded walls. Besides, what bandit wouldn't leap at the opportunity to rob a blind man on the roads? Even if the use of magic allowed him to not be totally blind, his appearance still made him a target.
Cyrana sat back in his chair. This blind elf felt like a last hope, unless he found someone in the neighboring town. The chances were slim. Elves outside of their own lands were uncommon and often outcasts for their own reasons. But perhaps this elf's blindness was not a total setback.

"While I will not deny the truth in that, I am also not going to turn away any aid because of blindness." He leaned forward, and dropped his voice to just above a whisper. "It might mean that you are more sensitive to magic in the atmosphere. And since I have no idea where to even begin in tracking down a solution to this problem, I may need that type of help." Cyrana hoped he wasn't being too blunt. By appearance alone, it was plain to see the elf had a painful history behind him, and Cyrana did not wish to remind him of that. But the world of magic was fading fast, and their time was limited. The truth had to be spoken.

A few rough men seated at an adjacent table threw hard glares over their shoulders. Cyrana caught them murmuring to one another, and yet could not make out their words. He wondered then just how many beings wished for the annihilation of magic, and if he was in danger by discussing it so openly. He turned his attention back to the blind elf, a new note of urgency in his tone. "I've two days to find help and I am doubtful of finding anyone more capable." He hesitated, searching the grains in the table for the words he did not wish to speak. "If you would require some kind of compensation, I can gather whatever it is you need. But I need the help. Please."

The fate of the elves, the dwarves, the orcs, the fairies, the fae; the trees, the fauna, and the oceans; all depended on their quest to find the source of magic.
Lallindir (played by Pengolodh)

Lallindir swallowed thickly. This was far bigger than he had originally thought. And if this fellow elf was having as much trouble finding help as he said... Maybe now was the time. He wasn't particularly keen on selling his business so suddenly, but there were a few honest people still left in the world who owed him favors. He was sure one of them could watch the shop for him, at least for a while. It wasn't ideal, certainly, but this stranger wasn't wrong in his assessment about sensitivity to magic. His mentor had always leapt to comment on it, though at the time he was bitter and reluctant to pay attention. Now, however, it might actually prove to be useful.

"Time." He sighed, resigned to his decision. "Time is all I need. Give me a day to settle my affairs, and I will join you."

The thought of dying in the wilderness on this hare-brained adventure suddenly occurred to him, which, although initially repulsive, after a moment became strangely fitting in his mind. If he were to die anywhere, that would probably be the best place to do it... here in town he doubted anyone would care enough to give him a proper burial of any sort. He snorted quietly at the thought of what they would put on his epitaph. 'Lallindir, the elf that nobody actually knew about until he died.' Yes, best to avoid that sort of thing. At least if he perished in the wilderness, then he might serve as food for some starving animal then.

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