Anavea tried to imagine these isles as they had been when they were first raised. Barren, rocky, just all-around harsh. The palm trees and other brush would arrive afterwards. Being in a battle itself would be terrifying enough for her, but fighting one on a place like that would have been nightmarish.
The night came and went without incident. Rickett drank herself into a stupor fairly quickly and left Anavea to her thoughts and musings. Making a the poor, hungover girl row for her now almost made her feel bad. Almost. She *was* getting paid for this.
The row across Stormreaver Bay was pleasant, despite Rickett's agonised groaning. They weaved around great, rotten masts. Gulls perched atop them now, cawing and screeching at one another. If she had the time (which she did) and the desire to go underwater (which she certainly did not), she might search one of the vessels.
The east island had most of the wrecks offshore, so it was her logical guess for the site of a battle. It was the largest landmass here and also housing the largest ruins which if she had to guess, was either a temple or a palace. Her gut told her the former.
"I don't want to have to wait for you," Anavea said. "So maybe find some shade and sleep?"
Rickett was practically sweating bourbon after her efforts the previous night. She mumbled what was probably a witty comeback and stumbled over and collapsed under a palm tree. Anavea walked over to a piece of broken marble pillar that laid on the sand and took out her map.
She had done some bastardised math the night before at the bonfire using distances, bearings and angular mils - the army equivilant of degrees used by artillery soldiers and such - and had plotted them on a piece of parchment. Combined with a rough sketch of the coastline before they set off, she had something to work on. Not quite professional cartography, but it served her needs.
According to her 'map', about eighty yards away and about fifteen degrees off due southwest was an elven ruin. She could already see the thing - a monument, but paced out to it anyway. Ninety-one paces. Accurate enough.
She had a sudden stab of laziness and decided to unveil her trick early. An aid from Rogan, her client.
She produced a dark orb fitted to a gold rod. Merely holding the thing made her feel uneasy.
"Okay." she said nervously. "Let's do this.
"Kazar-ethis ognakh mathazim bashaar."
The phrase was demonic, which literally translated as "Sweet potato shadowbolt dancing shoe polar bear." The logic of it being unlikely such a phrase would be uttered in the universe until she needed it. The memory of being explained this made her laugh, and she chuckled again now.
In the sand in front of her, a felhound materialized in a flash of smoke and purple. Rogan had told her the things name, though Anavea had since forgotten.
She held the Orb of Domination up, quickly zapping it into compliance (or whatever magic orbs do). The second safeguard Rogan had applied was the felhound was ordered to be hostile to anything it encountered.
It twitched from the shock, then sat down on its haunches and scratched behind one horn with its leg not unlike what a dog would do. For some reason, Anavea thought this was cute.
"Hello there." she said, trying to be amiable. The demon just looked at her.
She reached into her bag and pulled out two mana crystals. A treat for both of them. She tossed one onto the sand in front of the felhound and began siphoning the other dry. The felhound eagerly took to its crystal with two long tendrils. It wasn't much, but it was a great pick-me-up.
"How're you feeling?" she asked. The felhound sniffed the ground as if still hungry. It whined and looked up at her expectantly.
"Oh shut up," she scowled. "I'll give you another when we're done, hm?"
Anavea wasn't quite sure how to deal with a felhound, so she fell back on what she knew. Her father had bred hawkstriders and she had grown up around animals. It seemed to behave the same way as one, and it seemed to work. It was mostly your tone and body language.
"Come!" she ordered.
Naturally the demon had no idea what she was on about. She simply looked at it, pointed by her feet and repeated herself. It fell in behind her as she started walking to another checkpoint - a small knoll she had marked out.
The felhound sniffed left and right as it trailed her, its tendrils also probing the air around them. Anavea followed her compass and notebook until she was obviously heading up a slope, then she shut them in favour of merely going uphill. The normally sand and scrub ground gave way to rock and she reached the low summit twenty paces before her math did.
She was straying to the south side of the island. The felhound kept its nose down and tendrils up - another order from Rogan the warlock was to track any scent that resembled his own. Whether that actually worked was another story.
She spotted a clearing and set off toward it. Shortly afterwards, the felhound took off in a dash.
"What?! Hey!" she called but made no effort to pursue. The felhound entered the clearing and began a search. Anavea, having little else to do, broke out the goblin minesweeper and began pacing the long grass. She had a hit almost immediately and using her trowel, dug up a silver glint. The glint became a chain, which became a pendant.
"Wow." she said. The pendant held what looked like a tarnished ametrine - a marriage of amethyst and citrine. They were both quartz with different impurities, after all. Still, a nicely cut gem with a 50/50 ratio was rare. The chain was silver and distinctly night elven.
She pocketed the pendant with the arrowhead, replaced the dirt and stood up to watch the felhound approaching her. Dragging something.
A stick. She facepalmed.
She picked it up but felt a magical presence. She had an idea and snapped the stick in half. It was a heartwood material, but she couldn't tell of what. More importantly, it held no rings inside. That was a telltale sign.
The bane of archaeologists and the mortal enemy of dendrochronologists. This was a druid staff, from a druid-grown tree. Trees carry nice growth rings which can not only be used to tell its age, but you can match different rings from different trees, develop a timeline and learn quite accurately when a tree grew and died. You could even tell if a specific year thousands of years ago was warmer or wetter than usual by these rings.
Druids tarnished that. They grew full-grown trees in minutes, leaving the wood inside an uninteresting, uniform colour. From memory, furniture in Silvermoon was actually worth less if it used druid-grown timber.
She drew some magic out of the staff - like tapping a keg, she supposed - and handed it over for the felhound, who proceeded to suck it dry.
"This isn't helping." she reprimanded and pointed at it. "Wait."
It waited while she stepped into the middle of the clearing and looked out at the hill she had perched from yesterday. Maybe three-quarters of a mile away now. The rock cairn was easy to spot and she shot a bearing to each side of it (it was as close to a yard wide as she could get), sharpened the difference from fractions of degrees into mils and jotted the numbers down. For good measure, she also took a bearing to the knoll she came from and estimated the paces she took. She would plot the clearing onto her map later.
"Done. Now go!" she ordered. "Search!"
The felhound set off obediently, this time in the lead. It led her further south, away from the ruins and the hills. It stopped to feel around from time to time but generally led her in a single direction. The scrub began to thin and just before they reached the beachline, the felhound stopped and started pawing at something. A skull.
There were bleached bones everywhere.