Taggelisk: An Opportunity Abroad (The Keep)he days have begun to lengthen again, and new year classes are looming. You follow your fellow students toward the great hall, where every year Master Belmos updates every student on the new knowledge gained in the past year and outlines the research opportunities and courses for the next.
The evening sun shines through the windows, making the great hall incredibly bright when you go inside. It has been decorated for the coming spring, with sprigs of ivy and leaves trailing through the windows. Rosa doves, a popular creature from the celebrations a while ago, sit on the sills.
When you look at the front of the hall, you pause for a moment in surprise. A woman you don't recognize stands next to Master Belmos. She looks regal, with hoops of gold around her wrists. The necklace she wears looks like its made of diamonds and reflects light off the walls. Talyn stands next to her, grinning at the crowd.
"Greetings, everyone," Master Belmos says. "We have had a grand year this year. We as magi have made many new discoveries, including expanding our knowledge of the world around us, with help from Talyn." You and a few other students exchange glances. You wish you could have all discovered the world without all the problems Talyn brought with him. Talyn doesn't react to the few murmurs of discontent, continuing to beam at everyone.
"I would like to-" Master Belmos begins.
"While I'm sure many of you are looking forward to picking your new classes, except not really because wow, boring, there's an opportunity!" Talyn shouts. Master Belmos frowns, his forehead creasing. "I've recently discovered a new portion of the world. There's an opportunity for Magi to participate in a yearly tradition there. Carise here and I will tell all more about it after the meeting. It's an awesome opportunity to explore. If you wanna know more, stay after the meeting, and I'll tell you all about it."
Master Belmos raises a hand. "Carise, like Talyn says, will tell anyone who is interested more about an opportunity to visit new lands. It is an option to pursue rather than taking traditional spring courses for anyone who would like."
You nod, and a few other students nearby begin to whisper. It's Talyn organizing it, and that might mean another disaster, but it is an opportunity to explore.
"Get out of boring classes?" a familiar voice whispers. When you turn, you see Gwendolyn grinning. "Hell yeah."
You lean forward when Master Belmos motions to the woman, Carise, to speak.
"I am Carise, leader of a syndicate of traders from Ageti, a city in the heart of the Taggelisk region," she says. Her diamond necklace glitters in the light from the sun that shines through the windows. "I met Talyn here when he entered Ageti, and he told me of a magical keep where magical creatures are trained. I am glad to see he wasn't as crazy as he sounded."
You fight to hold back a laugh. Talyn doesn't react to the insult, instead standing up as well. "Carise has invited all of us to visit the capital city of Ageti. Carise says that this will be a good opportunity for trade, and I think so too. Imagine all the stuff we could find in a city like Ageti!"
You and a few others around you nod, although you're not sure what sort of things you have to trade, or what Ageti is actually like.
Carise speaks up next, putting out a hand to Talyn as though to keep him quiet. "This is the time of year when the rains begin to cease and the swamps and marshes of Taggelisk become passable to explorers. It is a tradition every year for individuals to head into the marshes and make their fortunes. Caravans of explorers, merchants, and traders, or even just those trying to change their lot in life, head out to find riches." Carise smiles, her teeth blindingly white. "And I would like to extend the Syndicate's help to the Keep. We will arrange to introduce you all to the city of Ageti and get you properly outfitted to explore the swamps."
"Imagine how far we all could explore with our magic and the magic of our creatures!" Talyn shouts.
"Precisely," Carise says past a wince. "Of course, for our help, the syndicate would expect a bit of payment-15% of the worth of whatever it is you find."
You nod, though you notice a few people around you look a bit uneasy. "We want this collaboration to benefit everyone, of course," Carise says. "We will not cheat you. The marshes are a treasure trove, and many sources will properly appraise what you find. We are just interested in what magi can do, and if they can penetrate further into the marsh than normal explorers can. After all, Talyn found his way into the city through the most dangerous part of the marsh."
Talyn shrugs. You roll your eyes. At least he didn't need rescuing this time.
"So how dangerous are we talking?" Gwendolyn asks.
"Nothing too bad," Talyn says before Carise can speak up. "Taggelisk is just your basic marsh. Right now it's in between the monsoon season and the dry season, so it's the safest time of year. Just bring, I don't know, a critter to keep the sun off you, like a nimbii, and something powerful that flies, like a roc, pegasus or puvia. Oh, and you definitely want something that can purify water but will be easy to carry, like a kaetus hatchling. Those'll work good."
"They should work well," Master Belmos says with a sigh. "If you are interested in exploring and working with Carise and Talyn, I suggest collecting those creatures. Once you are prepared, a contingent will leave for Taggelisk. Just make sure to tell your professors - you will get credit for this exploration. Talyn and Carise assure me the area is safe this time of year, and I hope both residents of the Keep and Ageti will have much to learn from each other."
"Anything to get out of classes," Gwendolyn says. Master Belmos frowns, and Talyn gives her a thumbs up.
You eagerly reach the courtyard of the Keep and stand in line with others wishing to leave for Ageti. A teacher is overseeing the preparations.
Once she reaches you to checks that you have everything needed for the journey she frowns and sends you back to packing.
In order to leave for Ageti you need a nimbii, a roc, pegasus or puvia, and a kaetus hatchling.
With a nimbii to bring you shade, and a flying creature to aid in your journey, and a kaetus hatchling to help you clean your drinking water you head out to the courtyard of the Keep where several other students are preparing to leave.
A teacher is overseeing the preparations and nods approvingly once she's satisfied you have everything you need and wishes you good luck.
Gleefully you start your journey towards west and the city of Ageti.
Taggelisk: Arriving in the City (Ageti)Talyn had said Ageti was big, and it is the first thing you notice as you fly over the marshes of Taggelisk, south of the orderly city states of Alveus. In the center of the sprawling marshlands, ringed by an enormous river, you make out a raised mass of earth that must spread for acres and acres. The edges closest to the banks of the fast-moving river are dirty green from your vantage point, stained with runoff from the river. The buildings are hovels at worst and wooden shantys at best. Toward the center of the city, furthest from the river, are opulent constructions, domes and minarets and spires that reach nearly as high as the Keep, constructed of wood and stone that is obviously not native to the marshes. Trains of roads and wagons move through the city like arteries.
You're not entirely positive where to land, but you spot a circle of familiar wagons near a golden statue of a woman, and you angle your steed down. Once you arrive, the ground distressingly moist beneath your feet, a reedy voice hails you.
"Halloo there! Are you one of the mages?"
You turn to find the voice, at a loss at the sheer number of people all around you. Stalls of vendors surround what must be a sort of village square, and people from what must be nearly every corner of the world have gathered here for trade. Some Quaitu people are haggling with an Alvean who appears to be selling some sort of crystal, and you see what looks like someone from Synara trying on a scarf. Languages burble like water from every direction, and you don't recognize them all.
"Hello!" A short man appears in front of you, a clipboard in his hand. "A mage from the keep, yes? One of the ones Carise sent?"
When you nod, he smiles. "Good, good. I am the secretary for the Golden Syndicate. You are going to explore the marshes for us, yes? That loud mage, Talyn, has already headed into the marsh, along with some others. You wouldn't want the best treasures to be found already!"
You certainly wouldn't want that. You wish you could explore Ageti more, but the marshes sound just as interesting. "I'm ready," you say.
"Excellent!" The man takes a note down in his clipboard. "Now, you have a few options. One exploration a day seems safe, and we will put you up by the Golden lady, the hotel nearby." You wonder who the golden statue represents. "Each day, you can make a choice how you want to explore. At the end of it all, if the Keep benefits us, we will find a way to make it worth your while." He grins. "Now. What sort of exploring would you like to do?" The man eagerly hands you some pamphlets that seem to outline the great wonders of Taggelisk's marshes and the many different possibilities you could explore. "When you've decided, let me know!" the man cheerily shouts as he moves on to greet the next landing magi.