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Erika Trickett [ Gringotts Official ]
2165 Posts  •  24  •  Heterosexual  •  played by Sioban
[tartarus] sky on fire. [tag; ba'al]
« on: July 29, 2016, 06:58:50 PM »
"Thanks, Billy."

With a soft thud, a tall blonde jumped off the bow of the ship and landed on the jetty, the wood creaking in protest beneath her weight. Turning, she gave a cheery wave towards the captain. Erika had hitched a ride. She had a lot of contacts. William Grimauldi, or Batshit Bill as he was more commonly known, had worked with her a few times. They were friends. He was docking at Crete and as soon as Erika caught wind of it, she asked if she could join. They went way back. They were loyal, purely because Erika could keep her word.

She'd been on board for two days, having been picked up at the port of Teignmouth. It was lucky that she liked the water. It had been slow but easy, giving her plenty of time to read over her notes and pack her bag. She honestly thought Tartarus was a myth, like Atlantis but as soon as she heard there was an assignment going, she almost fell over herself to get there first.

It was late December but it was a barmy twenty degrees, feeling much more like summer than mid-winter. Erika would more than likely be away for Christmas, depending on how long she wanted to stay and how fast she got her work done. That being said, she wasn't keen to rush. What did she have to go back home for? She'd be attending a party without a date, eating turkey that she didn't even really like and feeling cornered when her numerous aunts why Murphy hadn't proposed yet. It was a sore subject. Tact did not run in the Trickett family.

Behind her, Erika heard the growl of the ancient diesel engine as the tugboat reversed, the waves breaking against the shoreline as the smoke drifted out of the funnels. Waving again, she watched Billy manoeuvre his craft. It was old. The paint was chipped and it looked like it needed some serious TLC but she'd gotten here in one piece. The Fair Weather was the name of the boat and she smiled as it put-puttered its way across the crystal blue waters, heading towards Crete.

The arrangement was that Billy was to collect her in three days. If she wasn't waiting at the dock at three in the afternoon, she was either dead or she changed her mind and he wasn't to wait for her. Simple as.

Erika had checked and double checked her kit. Magic was fickle on the island; sometimes it worked but more often than not, it didn't. She'd had to go back to basics. In her heavy khaki rucksack were various things. Map and compass. A knife. First aid kit containing potions as well as bandages and a needle and thread, just in case she needed to sew herself up. Again. A tent, sleeping bag, pencils, various journals, a camera and a flask for water. Basic rations but she didn't need a lot.

Once the cloud of diesel fumes had subsided, Erika blinked. "Wow," she sighed wistfully as she looked around. It was beautiful. Warm and clear, the water was a shocking shade of turquoise. She could hear running water. Waterfall? She'd have to check that out. White beaches, a warm breeze, Erika felt like she'd set foot on paradise. Just then, an uneasy feeling washed over her. It felt like a punch to the gut, the invisible hand twisting and turning, making her feel queasy. She shook her head as a thought crossed her mind; Murphy would love it here.

Not that it mattered. They'd have a row and they'd broken up. A clean split. They hadn't spoken or seen each other in months. He wasn't answering her letters so it was clear that her feelings were a one way street. She had told her mum that they were no longer together. The information had been passed on but even though people knew, they still asked about him, about where he was, about why she hadn't brought him, about why she was so sad.

Drops of sea water landed on her tanned and freckles cheeks, stinging them briefly. Her long blonde hair was tied back into a tight braid, her face free of make up. Dressed simply in a cream coloured vest and a pair of dark shorts, she'd made sure to rub plenty of sunscreen and various types of insect repellent onto all of her exposed skin prior to disembarking. This would be the perfect place to immerse herself. Erika had an innate desire to explore. She could feel it now, niggling away at the back of her brain, the voice telling her to start right this second. She wanted to have a look around. She wanted to see if there were caves she could look around. There were already cliffs she could jump off.

But first things first.

Her cousin, Torrence, had given her a list of herbs she needed to collect. His writing was rather illegible but he'd drawn clear diagrams for her to follow. She should probably get there first. Unfolding her map, she pressed her compass to the paper. There were plenty of things she needed to see and do. Gringotts had sent her in search of a few items.

Erika felt uneasy. She could never tell if the goblins were lying to her but then again, why would they? Erika wasn't a thief. She was an explorer. Out of her pocket she opened a small slip of parchment, drawn on it was a beautiful golden necklace. It was painstakingly made. Apparently, it had been made from goblin gold. The drawing was detailed, showing a thick but short linked chain. If Erika was to wear it, she supposed the chain would press against her clavicle, like a choker. It held two golden discs and two golden wings in a filigree style, each exquisite and delicate.

The tall blonde heaved a heavy sigh. "I hope this isn't haunted like the last one," she mumbled, shoving the drawing back into her pocket as she opened her map and began to walk. It was very quiet. All she could hear was the gentle and soothing lapping of the crystal clear waters beneath her feet. On she went, twisting the needle of the compass to find Due North and smiling when she did.

Her smile, however, faltered when she saw who was blocking her path into the island. "What the Hell are you doing here?"

Ba'al az-Zahir [ Inactive Character ]
1181 Posts  •  36  •  Straight
Re: [tartarus] sky on fire. [tag; ba'al]
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2016, 07:02:29 PM »
Now this was weird.

A dark finger went out and poked the strange creature that had been scuttling along the white sand just a second ago, before Ba’al had accidentally taken a step and flipped it over. The tall Egyptian man knelt down beside the strange life form as its twelve legs waved hopelessly in the air, trying and failing pitifully to roll off its back. Ba’al quickly reached into one of his many pockets and pulled out his magnifying glass, peering through it to get a better look at the animal. It seemed to have a purple and yellow exoskeleton covered in tiny little hairs, four eyes, and a face like smooshed parrot. He had never seen anything like it before.

Reaching out, he carefully grabbed it by the cone-shaped shell and placed it onto its feet. The hermit-crab-parrot flicked out its proboscis and Ba’al felt a stinging pain in the soft flesh between his thumb and forefinger. He dropped it, the strange creature quickly scurrying away across the beach sand and disappearing into the tree line. Ba’al frowned, holding out his hand in front of him to examine his wound. He plucked out the long purple barb that had stung him and a small drop of blood began to bead up on his dark skin. Fascinating. 

The archaeologist turned around and started walking back toward the wave line. He was dressed from head to knees in khaki, with a yellow handkerchief tied around his neck and sand-colored hat keeping the brilliant rays of sunshine from cooking his shaved head. His pushed his large glasses up his nose with his finger and then dipped his hand into the sea-water, feeling a slight sting as it washed over his wound. This island was strange and mysterious, and every bone in his body was telling him to charge in head first, but if even the crabs here were dangerous…

When he first heard about this island, it had taken all of his will power not to bolt out of his chair and run down the hallways and swim here. He was in the States at the time, finishing up a six month stint teaching “Ancient Agriculture in the South American Andes: An Empire Built on Corn”. (It had been an a-maize-ing class.) But he had restrained himself and finished the semester. After he was done grading final papers, he had immediately began planning his trip. But getting passage to the island had proved a challenge. The island was shrouded in rumor, in whispered tales of monsters and deaths. Very few ships would dare enter the crescent, and even fewer would dock. But Ba’al had put it in his head to go and, by gods, he was going to find a way to set foot on that island. If it was as old as he’d heard, it was a veritable treasure trove of knoweldge.

Eventually he found a ship of morally…ambiguous “high-risk traders” pirates who were willing to take him there for an exorbitant fee. Ba’al hadn’t even blinked when he wrote the bank note. There were few uncharted territories left on this planet and nothing was going to stop him. He’d landed almost three hours ago, but had spent almost all of that time examining the local fauna, sand texture, and angle of the sun. On his back he had a tan backpack, strapped across his chest at three different spots. It was his full explorer’s pack: rope, tarp, first aid kit, sample jars-- the usual. He didn’t know what to expect, so he’d brought pretty much everything.

He sniffed, looking up. A small plume of black smoke was growing in the sky a way’s down the beach. A fire? Was there someone else here? Hope sprang to life in Ba’al’s heart. Maybe there was an ancient civilization still living on the island! He broke into a run, his boots kicking up sand as his long legs ate up the distance between him and the smoke. But as he got closer he saw no fire, and no civilization, just a lone figure standing on the beach. He squinted in the sunlight, trying to make out the face.

Just as he was a few arm’s length’s away, he recognized the person standing on the beach, but his foot dug into a sand hole and he tumbled forward before he could stop himself. He tripped, landing face-first in the sand at the woman’s feet. He looked up, spitting out the sand and seaweed that hat greeted his face so enthusiastically. He pulled himself to his feet, dusting himself off as he towered over the woman.

“Miss Trickett,” he said dryly, pulling a piece of kelp out of his collar. “Why am I not surprised to see you here?”

Erika Trickett was a treasure hunter, one of the few things on this earth that Ba’al could not stand. True, she was far from the worst of them, but there was certainly something unappetizing about the whole profession on principle. He’d dealt with enough of them to know. Dusting off the front of his jacket, cognac eyes scanned the smaller woman’s attire. “If you’re here to plunder, you should know I won’t allow it,” he said, crossing his arms, though his speech was getting hurried and his awkward was showing. There was no telling what kind of damage a treasure hunter like her could do to this unsullied historical find, and her presence panicked him.

The overzealous part of his brain that was obsessed with history and preservation spoke before he could stop it. “You can’t be trusted alone here. Whatever you’re doing, I’m going with you!” He didn’t like the idea of sticking to her, but he had principles too. “And,” he said, going back to the honest and unashamed part of his brain that wasn’t a fan of danger. “If even half the rumors I’ve heard are true, we might be better off as two than alone…” he said, pushing up his glasses as he looked up at the towering and ominous volcano in the center of the island, a shiver running up his spine.

Erika Trickett [ Gringotts Official ]
2165 Posts  •  24  •  Heterosexual  •  played by Sioban
Re: [tartarus] sky on fire. [tag; ba'al]
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2016, 07:02:28 PM »
And he went down like a sack of spuds.

Confused, Erika blinked as she took a half-step backwards. She and Ba'al didn't know each other well but they knew enough to realise that they didn't really get on. Was it too late to call Billy back? Looking over her shoulder, she realised with a sinking heart that it was. The dilapidated diesel tug was already chug-chugging its way back through the crystal clear waters. Typical. No escape now.

She offered a sunny smile. "Dr. Livingston, I presume?" She asked dryly. It was a thinly veiled insult that she was sure he'd miss. Tilting her chin up, she reached out and deftly plucked a stray bit of kelp from his shirt. He looked every inch the intrepid explorer from a time gone by. Very much Victoriana. Thankfully, his tall frame was blocking most of the sun and she no longer had to squint.

Casually, she shrugged as she folded her map back up neatly. "Just having a look," she said sweetly. It wasn't far from the truth, really. She actually counted herself lucky that they hadn't crossed paths before now. Ba'al was very much a scientist, mixed with historian and a pinch of goody-two-shoes. They operated differently. He had his tools and Erika had her fists.

A look of righteous indignation crossed her pretty face which soon twisted into a look of surprised hurt. "Plunder?" Erika spat, her bright blue eyes wide as though the man had mortally offended her. "What do you take me for?" She snapped. "Some kind of common thief?" Of course he did, he needn't answer that question at all.

"I beg your pardon?" Erika counted, gob smacked by his words. "It's not the sixteenth century, I don't need a chaperone," she tutted. She felt as though Ba'al was shunting women's rights backwards by five hundred years. She looked him over swiftly and heaved a sigh. "I promise I won't go poking around with the flora and fauna," she mumbled, heaving a heavy sigh and folding her arms across her chest sulkily like a sullen child. "I have a gentle touch," she stated. "You know that," the tall blonde replied with a flirty wink.

She couldn't be trusted? Outraged, she inhaled quickly and held her breath until her cheeks turned pink. Her nanna said that if she couldn't say anything nice then she shouldn't say anything at all. The archaeologist was right, more or less. Erika did have a habit of asking questions later. She was reckless and flighty and stupidly brave but she had a good head on her shoulders and she didn't like him casting aspersions. She was here for a few days to look around, not endure a character assassination from someone who looked like he'd fallen out of an eighteenth century explorer's handbook.

"Why?" She asked sharply, lips pursed in distaste. "What have you heard?" They were just rumours. Something about mermaids? She'd never met one. Except maybe for Maia but she wasn't quite sure what the redhead was but she wasn't sure she was totally human. "You know I don't believe in ghosts stories, Ba'al," she told him as she tutted darkly. "It all looks perfectly nice so far," she said, gesturing to the crystal waters, sandy beaches and warm breeze. If she was here for a few days, she was sure to tan. She needed one.

"Don't be such a scaredy cat," she teased as she turned to look at the volcano. "Dormant or active?" She asked him softly, her eyes flicking back and forth for any tell-tale signs of smoke coming from the crater. She wondered where a golden necklace would be. Hidden in plain view or just plain hidden? She folded her arms again and rubbed them, suddenly feeling chilly. Oh she really hoped it wasn't on some sort of ancient altar. The last time that happened, she'd almost lost a hand.

"Well," she said briskly, clapping her hands together. "If you're going to be my shadow, we might as well get cracking." She picked up her bag and slung it across her shoulder, turning as her boots dug into the sand and opening her maps again. Muttering to herself, she drew a finger across the map. "Quickest way to the jungle looks like through the waterways," she said, squinting at the overly bright sun. "We can find a boat. Unless you fancy a dip?" She asked with a sunny smile.

Ba'al az-Zahir [ Inactive Character ]
1181 Posts  •  36  •  Straight
Re: [tartarus] sky on fire. [tag; ba'al]
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2016, 08:08:22 PM »
Oh…Atum help him. She was devil.

Ba’al knew he couldn’t trust a treasure hunter, but in this case what choice did he have? In any other situation Ba’al would have scolded the treasure hunter right back, but she had thrown him off balance. Ba’al was… different. He didn’t really pay attention to the way a woman looked or what she did. Really, as long as no one got in his way, he didn’t care what anyone did. Of the population of people who didn’t talk to him, women made up a large majority of them. He was a scholar, a historian, and…well he was a massive nerd. Women, especially confident and beautiful women like Erika, didn’t really cross paths with him. As a result, he found himself acutely unprepared for the prospect of spending any duration of time with her.

Erika had a way of barreling forward, and before he realized it, she was already a number of paces away, holding a map in front of her and asking him if he wanted to go for a swim. No. The answer was no. Ba’al had been planning to just explore the island in a grid-pattern, which seemed a little aimless but technically very thorough. Erika, on the other hand, seemed to have come with a purpose, and was already making her way through the dense tree line toward her goal. Well…he did insist that he would follow her.  He'd look silly if he backed out now.

“As I’m sure you know, this island didn’t seem to exist until a few months ago, but what’s interesting is that it’s fully formed with its own distinctive plant and animal species not found anywhere else in the world,” Ba’al called, pushing aside a tangle of hanging vines that the smaller woman had been able to just walk right under. He was also sure that the evolutionary patterns of this island were the least interesting thing about it to her, so he moved on. “I was compiling rumors and accounts of visits to this island, but the ones that aren’t ridiculously far-fetched don’t paint a hopeful picture. It seems magic has a habit of going wrong here, so we can’t rely on it and no throwing around spells aimlessly, please. I don’t want to lose a limb.”

He paused as he used his hands to climb a jagged piece of rock that was standing in their way. He didn’t mind having Erika go first. Sure, chivalry dictated he be the one to clear the path for her, but it didn’t seem like she needed his help whatsoever and he also wasn’t sure if he’d be of any real help. She was handling herself fine. “And,” he added, climbing over the precipice and sliding down, jogging slightly to keep up with her. “There is someone else, an island witch, who doesn’t seem to appreciate trespassers. I hear she cut someone’s arm off and then ate the other. I seriously hope whatever you’re here for isn’t something of hers.”

Ba’al paused (he always did have a habit of talking too much), looking around the jungle. He could hear water somewhere off in the distance, and followed after Erika. They arrived at a rickety wooden dock that seemed to be actively rotting underneath their feet. It creaked unhappily when Ba’al stepped on top of it, as if the green-covered planks would snap under his weight. Ba’al tilted his head back, pushing his hat away, as he stared at the tall and sharp cliffs on either side of the waterway. He thought he saw a figure poking their head over the edge, but a second later it was gone.

He shook his head and carefully walked down to the edge of the dock. The water was crystal clear and he could see some long snake-like fish flittering under the docks, their scales reflecting the ocean floor and making them almost invisible. Fascinating. But also dangerous with those teeth like needles. No way was he getting into the water here. He was about to tell Erika they had to turn back when some strange markings on one of the dock posts caught his attention.

“There’s something written here,” he said, turning to Erika. His big hands traced over the etched carving. “It looks like ancient greek, but there’s something odd about the curve of the letterheads, and the syntax is all wrong…” he mumbled, more to himself than to her. “It’s like someone tried to translate from English to another language then to ancient greek.” He squinted. “It says… to draw something into the water with your wand… the symbol for… chariot? That can’t be right… wait, I think I’ve got it.”

Ba’al laid down onto his stomach on the dock, reaching forward so the tip of his wand touched the surface of the water. The snake fish scattered as Ba’al began to write “Χάρων” with his wand. The water underneath began to bubble, turning murky grey and coming to a roiling boil. He quickly recoiled, just as a narrow wooden boat and a set of oars seemed to spring up out of the water throwing river spray right in his face. The bubbling slowed, before coming to a stop and the river returned to its clear blue of before.

He looked down at the tiny little boat, barely room for two people, that was bobbling placidly on the surface. Then looked back at Erika. “I’m not…going to fit in that.”

Erika Trickett [ Gringotts Official ]
2165 Posts  •  24  •  Heterosexual  •  played by Sioban
Re: [tartarus] sky on fire. [tag; ba'al]
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2017, 08:19:57 PM »
Erika blinked. "I'm not great with animals," she offered truthfully. She liked nature well enough, sure, but animals didn't really like her. She trusted Ba'al's judgement. This was an odd sort of place. She felt distinctly uneasy and she didn't know why, it felt like she was walking on sheet ice over a frozen lake. Had she been inclined, she imagined she could make a fortune if she studied the flora and fauna here. Erika felt a little guilty, barging in and ruining the poor man's trip.

"I'm sure they're just pulling your leg," the blonde said breezily as she wafted through the leaves, something rustling around in the undergrowth near her feet. She flashed him a bright smile. "Live a little, Ba'al," she added brightly as she looked around. The hairs on the backs of her arms prickled as they stood on end, goose bumps rapidly spreading on her exposed skin as she heaved a shudder and grimaced. "Maybe you have a point," she mumbled gently.

"What?"

That made Erika stop and spin around, squinting at the taller man. "An island witch?" She hadn't said anything but she did have the distinct feeling that they were being watched. She grimaced. "Sounds a bit excessive," Erika replied as she looked over her shoulder. "Do you think we should introduce ourselves?" The curse breaker scratched her head thoughtfully as she frowned. "I mean no harm. I just came for a look around, really. I hope we're not interrupting." Pausing, Erika mentally sent out good vibes, as though this would some how appease said island witch.

She watched Ba'al briefly. "Mm," she agreed darkly. He was, of course, correct. This was a vivid and strange place where magic often failed. It was filled with oddities and shrouded in mysteries, most of which Erika didn't want to go poking. "Me too," she added gently. She sincerely hoped said necklace wasn't one of her favourites. "If we run into her," she began as she trailed after him. "Do you think she'd believe we're newlyweds on our honeymoon who just so happened to fall off the beaten track?" She smiled at him again. "I feel like I should call you Snuckums, just in case we need a cover story."

Erika lingered back as she looked around. This place was insane. It was like every explorers dream. She could smell the salt from the water and the must from the leaves, her eyes distracted by flashes of vibrant colours beneath her feet. Her fingers itched to dip in and test the temperature. The fish looked like fun but Ba'al was the expert, not her, and if he wasn't going in then neither was she.

"Oh goodie," Erika said, her words tinged with sarcasm. From previous experience, drawings meant they were entering a world of pain. Stepping behind him, she reached out a finger and gently poked it. Nothing happened. She watched Ba'al with interest and she was amused. It was like a different side of him was emerging. She'd always been impressed, if not a little jealous of his talents. As he spoke to himself, she watched the bright and strange snake-fish hybrids with interest.

"Seems a bit misguided," Erika offered. Ancient Greek wasn't her forte as she was much more familiar with hieroglyphs but she had a look anyway. He was right. They looked wrong, distorted, confused. "Chariot?" She echoed, a look of confusion crossing her face briefly. "Wait, don't--"

She let out a squeak of fear, her pale fingers reaching for the back of Ba'al's shirt so she could haul him backwards. Her pale blue eyes were wide in surprise as a dinky little boat popped up. "Nice," she whispered as she leaned over the edge of the dock, the wood creaking in protest under her weight. The grungy colour has dissipated, leaving the beautiful azure colour behind. "Well if this doesn't mirror the River Styx, then I don't know what does," she joked with a laugh and then the realisation hit her and she shot him a panicked glance. He'd mentioned the word "chariot". It could easily have been Charon instead. And a boat had appeared. She gave another laugh, albeit this one sounding decidedly more nervous. Just a coincidence, she told herself as she hesitated. They weren't that far from Greece, after all. She just hoped that they hadn't accidentally stumbled across the river of the dead.

Taking a breath, she hoisted her bag and stepped into the boat as she steadied herself. Erika wasn't a huge fan of boats as she'd suffered terrible seasickness for years but needs must. She blinked at him. "You're gonna have to," she told him. Then she sighed. "Not to tempt fate," she added, trying to sound cheery as she held out an oar for him to take. "But be my Charon," she said, gesturing to the edge of the boat. "Or gondolier. Whichever panders to your demographic." He'd have to stand and use the oar like a pole and ferry them across because there was no way in Hell she was going by herself.

"Okie dokes," she said breezily, placing her hand on the edge of the rotting dock as she pushed the boat away, sending them wafting into the middle of the clear blue water. Erika leaned over the side of the boat and gently dipped the tip of her finger into the abyss. The water was bright. It looked like it was lit from within somehow and it seemed to glow.

Beneath her fingers swam shoals of strange and unusual things. "It's really deep," she told Ba'al as they drifted further into the cavern. "I think I can see ships," she said aloud as she leaned further over the edge of the boat, entranced by the shifting colours and glittering scales. It felt like they were drifting above some sort of hidden city. She could see coral and rock formations and something glittering deep below, glittering and winking at her in the light. She leant further over the side of the boat, her nose almost touching the surface when she gave a scream as she was suddenly nudged, sending her splashing into the blue.

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