Anaxi Zephries has the best map collection in the known world, and he is the only living person to get anywhere close to Kwalish and live to talk about it (as far as anyone knows). His research continues, as ever, but trauma from watching all of his friends die and shame over having to eat some of them keeps him from venturing out himself. Instead, he is constantly inundating his contacts with letters requesting that the aimless and the greedy and “anyone else you can’t be bothered with” be sent to him, especially those with skills in map making. He finds himself frequently dealing with Garret Levistusson. This tiefling con artist has made off with Anaxi’s investments repeatedly, delivering maps of exotic lands, but never the one Zephries has paid for. He always returns claiming the price wasn’t adequate for the work. The only thing keeping Zephries from having him killed is the fact that Garret’s maps have at least doubled his money so far. Zephries also suspects that Levistusson has made the journey and is witholding the maps for some reason. This time, Zephries had an offer that would be his very last to Levistusson and he had found some friends to protect his investment.
Flue was led here by necessity, but he was happy about it. He was orphaned, as many genasi are, and taken in by (or sold to) a Veldalken and raised in the Izzet League. Flue had discovered in the last year that his guardian was doing research to form a neutralizing agent for some of the Izzet League’s most powerful experimental weaponry. Flue began to fear that he would be taken down when his guardian was discovered and began to look for a way out. He saw a letter from Zephries on his Master’s desk and requested the assignment. Master sent him on assignment without so much as a nod. This was odd behavior, as Flue had become first apprentice in Master’s lab and would leave behind a great deal of chores and incomplete research. This was a clue to Flue that his master and guardian knew the jig was up and sought to protect Flue. On his way to Zepries’ compound, Flue would get word that Master had been discovered dead, but not before passing on his risky research to a mutual contact in the Dimir. This contact offered the research to Flue, who then offered to sell it to the Dimir. Flue did not name a price, but instead asked his friend to keep it safe until he returned from this expedition. He would then decide whether to use this research as leverage to enter the Dimir or to sell it to his friend, who would then use it as he saw fit. Flue is tall and lithe and black as night, with a shock of firey hair that sometimes defies gravity, and sometimes hangs shaggily over his face. He has resting bitchface and moves with grace.
Zeprhries had also hired the only man in the known world he trusted implicitly, a Paladin of Oghma called Joe Gi Berreh. Zephries met Berreh on his first and only expedition to find Kwalish. He was thought to be dead, but clearly is not. Little is known of him, but Zepries has reason to believe that Joe had spent the years following their failed expedition doing research on Kwalish and his strange magic, at least intermittently. Berreh claims to have learned of Zepries needs via a rash of letters sent to temples of Oghma searching for men with a death wish. He came to the compound to chide Zephries, but was ultimately made an offer he wouldn’t refuse. Berreh is an intimidating presence with palpable, chaotic energy. He is a force of nature and the perfect protector for Zephries’ maps. Today he wore a wide brimmed staw hat with deer antlers fastened to it by a leather belt, which was in such a condition as to suggest he tanned the hide himself. He may have also constructed some of his clothes out of hyde… and the antlers were adorned with various flowers and some herbs, which looked as if they had been hung to dry. He walked about with the stature of an old man, seeming to buckle a bit under the weight of his hat.
Presently, Joe would turn to Flue and ask “If we went outside, could you make me a fire so that I can cook?” before Flue could answer, Joe had his longbow drawn and pointed out of the window. Flue floated over and got cozy with Joe, who must have sensed him, but appeared unbothered by the proximity of this flamboyant stranger. Together they followed the elk, Joe holding the drawn bow steady. They stood there, following the Elk in utter silence for some time… Finally Zephries spoke “We are all dying of starvation”.
Joe released the arrow and was silent. His intimidating presence caused all others to remain silent as well. After an eternity, he spoke.
“I shall now dress this animal, and you will all share in the drinking of it’s blood and the eating of it’s heart around the fire this evening. I shall prepare a feast and we will spend 3 days here while I dry the meat and hide of this blessed animal for our journey. Once everything is ready, we leave. There will be no negotiation.”
No one spoke as he made his way out to the elk. Joe ruminated and meditated as he walked, chewing on his impressions, contemplating the complications… Mary Greymalkin and Garret Levistusson were both powerful, talented, and garbage people. If things got complicated, he was certain that they would be no match for him, even as a team. Flue was something he had never seen before, a Genasi… a hybrid. Otherworldly. It was all much to think about. Having reached his destination, he took a braid of sweetgrass from his hat and kneeled before elk, placing his hands on the elk and kissing its face. ” Let go, Old Friend”. The elk released one last belabored breath, igniting the sweetgrass braid.