Byron Part 2

Byron spent the following morning retrieving money from various associates he had stashed it with. As he had suspected, a good number of his trustworthy friends had spent some of the money left to their safe keeping. He was not shocked by the lack in confidence they had in his ever coming to collect. He may have even done the same in their situation. To him it was but a set back,making the process take longer than the morning. After finishing up his collection and ducking questions about a fire at his manor, Byron headed down to the docks.

Byron made it with about an hour to spare. He was uncertain about the reason behind the schedule the captain kept. The Wind Farmer had a reputation for calm travel, all the way south down the coast. Odds were the ships enchantments went down to the boards themselves with the prices charged for travel. Yet it also meant that Byron was certain to be among a class of people that would benefit him in future business ventures.

As Byron approached, he was shocked to find Jorgan waiting outside the ship to board with him. “I did not know you had passage booked back to Siller Port.”

“I had not but when I inquired among the vessels in port, it took no time at all to find which you were sailing on. Besides at sea we should have better privacy to discuss our business. Briana and Koslo are on board. By the by, you are not planning any further fires?”

“Planning fires?” Byron asked.

“Koslo was quite put off by your lack of desire to save the manor. I explained it to him as just one of you eccentricities, brother.”

“Oh and do I have others?” Byron pressed

“Only one I recall is that you are not like other sane business men and have no faith in the banks, guild backed or other wise. There may be others but I doubt we need to talk in public about it,” Jorgan smiled. “Shall we board? We can head to your quarters and let the others know you have secured funding the expedition.”

“And you are certain I have?” prodded Byron.

“Quite, I know you and money. Never to far apart and never in short supply. I recall your first business went bust and yet you had convinced ten new people the following day to fund a new scheme. That one paid off and launched the series of events that got you where you are now. This all temporary set back as I have setup your next roll, as patron of the seer’s guild.”

Byron did not have a retort to any of this as Jorgan was right. Given a pocket of change, he would find a way to turn it into a growing business in a week. Prior to his brother’s arrival, he was off to the marches to become a salt trader, till he got the lay of the land. No doubt he could tap those he left behind here in the Hintort planes to setup some trade route of sorts. “You know me well brother. Let us meet my newest clients and be on with the venture.”

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Scellemen’s Hall

Are you going to Scellemen’s hall
The place where you can see it all
Down old stone pathways lead
Ignore the warning sign’s plead
Out past rational things of pleasure
It is where to go for all types of leisure
Where luxury is always on display
And beast, unrestrained, are free to play

Did you receive a similar call
See my bill with fancy scrawl
Ideas described inside as seed
Curiosity abounds more than need
My concern I keep in equal measure
What at path end is this maps treasure
Haste we make in sun’s last ray
We join others along the way

As moon light starts it’s fall
Revels in mind’s corners sprawl
Then comes noise summoning heed
Celebration. not warnings, indeed
Inquisitiveness is a greater force
On we adventure without remorse
Fun shall be ours today
At Scellemen’s hall we will stay

Little Cat 5

In the early autumn air, the little cat chased an elm leaf. She liked the crunch it made in her paws each time she clapped it. Light peaked through where her claws had poked a few holes. Soon the browning saw toothed oval would meet its fate of destruction, but until then it was her toy. The leaf’s fate was of little consequence to little cat as she could just as easily climb a tree and fetch another, if she was so inclined.

A gust of wind took the leaf into the air, and little cat jumped and pounced it back down to the ground. Unfortunately the leaf was now caught on a claw and would not free itself. Little cat tried dragging her foot on the ground to rid her self of the assailant. The disrespectful leaf did nothing of the sort and stayed attached to her paw, even as she tried walking off in indifference. Slowly getting grumpier with the leaf and its defiance, little cat decided to roll on to her back and employ all four paws in the effort to free her poor claw. Little cat meowed in success as the leaf flew up into the air.

A young white and black cat, had been watching the ordeal from under a bush. Seeing the leaf float in the air, he decided now was the time to surprise this worthy foe. He sprang from his hiding spot, paws out stretched to capture the target. And successfully missed it while landing square on little cat’s belly.

Little cat was not happy, she let out a long, low murr.

White and black cat, froze for only a moment before rolling off of her and proceeded to lick his front paw.

His disregard of her annoyance further irked little cat. She voiced her opinion again, this time with raised paw at him.

He used his front paw to clean his head while she continued her show. As far as he was concerned, she should have not been where he was jumping.

Little cat hissed her displeasure and inched closer before taking a light bat at the white and black cat.

He stopped his cleaning and debated whether to respond in kind or retreat. After all it was an unprovoked attack while cleaning in his mind. But soon he saw her paw going back up and he decided to tarry no further. A respectable cat like himself, would not be drawn into a brawl with some common street queen.

Little cat was pleased with herself. She had sent a good message to the white and black offender. Now she was left to ponder where her leaf had gotten off to.

Tobin of Braques

He stood up on a four legs at the edge of the forest studying the silhouette of the city of Braques that lay before him. The moon had disappeared between the clouds hours ago, leaving him to find his way here more by smell than anything else. His ears perked up at the sound of the a cow mooing from inside the walls. He had been out in the woods for around ten days and was less than enthusiastic at the prospect of going to the city again. He enjoyed roaming the woods where he was lord over the wolves and only had the occasional tussle to maintain his rule. Despite all this. the city called him too. When he was there, he was lord Tobin of Braques, and also a loyal earl to the emperor. He could protect his lupine family from the deforestation that had once threatened them, while protecting the people’s livestock from them.

After a bit of contemplation, the he trotted on toward the city. Out in the open he could feel the tension in his shoulders growing, as if somebody may be watching. Glancing to his left, he could see the first pinks of sunlight creep through the tree trunks. As he got nearer the edge of the first farms, his shape started to morph, and by the time he was past the outer fields, he was walking upright. It was just a short distance further to where he had stashed his belongings. He hoped the curfew was still in effect and give him a few moments of privacy while he was exposed.

By the time he had gotten dressed, all traces of his feral attributes were gone. He now looked like any other a middle aged merchant from Braques. He left his clothes looking a little unkempt as it would play into his story of being lost in the woods, if his friend Stragove was not at the gates. When he knocked at the door, he was greeted by a young guard who was far more alert than the normal watch at this hour. He smiled when he saw Tobin and whispered, “I knew you were coming, I could smell you from the other side of the gate. You should really work a bath into your routine before coming back.”

“I will take that advice shortly, Stragove” replied Tobin he was relieved he did not need his alibi. “I take it all is well if you are on duty at this hour.”
“Yes, though the men still think it odd that a captain would take the gate watch at this hour. It is rather boring, and most of them want some interaction with people when they work.”
“If they only knew. I see you have the rotations setup right to. I got past without even one of them on the walls.”
“I followed your orders. I will cover that gap tonight. By the way, your sister is asking where you have been. You know she hates all the formal audiences you leave her to deal with, almost as much as she hates covering for your absence.” Stragove, had worked the gate open and let Tobin in.
“She could have taken up the offer to be the earl of these lands if she had married right.” Tobin entered the safety of the walls and quickly shook his head. “You smelled my approach over these odors?”
“Yes m’lord, only thing that smelled right for weeks.”
“I can imagine. Return to your watch, and see me when you are done. I have news from the pack to share with you. I will bathe and see where things now sit.”

Tobin sat eating a breakfast of dried meat and berries, when his sister, Tara, sat down next to him. “You better eat seconds this morning. We have a long day ahead of us, as tomorrow we leave for the Routh’s castle. I hope you got the wild out of your blood for a few days.”
“It is never out. This will never truly be home, and I do not know how you stand it.” Tobin retorted. “I will take your advice on the food, however. Forest was a bit scant on game. I think I am getting soft in the luxury here.”
“The people do not see you as soft. They do see you as fair, which is good. I heard over in Windclave, there was some inklings of revolt brewing. Seems the people prefer their Mistress to their Master.” Tara replied. “You enjoy your time out there with the boys, but do not know the amount effort I have to put in to keep them off me right now. I am in the prime of my life and they know it. I am much safer here, only have to keep Stragove and Klause at bay. They are far easier to handle in the wall s of the city.”

“Oh you still playing them off each other?”
“No, Klause is no longer interested. Stragove knows to keep his distance when you are here.”
Had Tobin not been so tired, he may caught something in her voice. “Do you know how many are making the trip with us? I know the normal twenty of the Emperor’s men will be there, but who else are we taking?”
“They are the only required people. I was thinking, some of the merchants may want to come along under our protection. It would make some good will for you with them. Also may give us a better network of connections.”
“Do you have a few in mind, ones we can trust?”
“Yes, I have scouted out three loyal ones. I know you are weary since the spy was found last year in our court, but I think these are ones we can trust.”
“They will not turn on us if they know our origins?”
“I cannot say that, but that is humans for you. I think Routh knew what he was doing when he reached out to you. It took him a couple years, but I think an alliance will be needed between all who call these lands home when the Emperor meets his demise.”
“Quite. So then, I take it you have the merchants set for a meeting today with me?”
“Silversmith Helena, Charles of trade house Wenthra, and Sabine the clothier. They are coming as a group, you are to put them at easy for safety and that the trip will be worth their while.”
“Will you tell me what you have already promised them?” Tobin prodded.
“Why, only that there is opportunity if they could spare some time,” Tara smiled, getting up from the table.
“So like always you rely on me to run with your scheme. And what makes you think they are loyal?”
“This,” she held up a small opal. “One of the treasures passed along by our lord. It is used for discerning intentions of others via the temperature and color it shifts to.”
“And you trust it? I do not accept these enchantments are all that we are told. I suspect spirits and demons at work here.”

Quiet settled in for the rest of breakfast, Tara was certain she had pushed a little too hard in her ambitions this morning. It was not her fault she saw the potential in a world beyond the forests they called home. If they stayed isolated here and the prophecy was true, who would ally with them if their nature came out? Her brother did not seem to worry about such things, and that bothered her more.

She looked out of the corner of her eye at him. He sat methodically cutting at his food, lost in his own thoughts. She gave it a few minutes more minutes before speaking, “We will join up with Earl Kanto and Herald in Hearthvale on the second day of travel. Have you given any thoughts to the proposal their envoys made?”

“You mean alliances in the case of unforeseen issues?” Tobin replied. “You know those two are the weakest of the earls. Kanto has at best another two years to live and Herald is a simpleton. Not to say I am a product of better breading than either.”

“Allies are allies, and it is not like you want to pick sides between Wilfred and Francis. Natalya and Flynn would be perfect for an alliance, but we have nothing to offer them. Johan, Byron, Robin, Garth, and I forget the rest, I know too little about to advise. Besides Kanto is who we make the alliance with, but I am putting the prize as his daughter. I saw her a few months back and I do see potential in her future.”

“I am surprised you forgot Timothy. His domain is productive farm land and near enough to the Ironblack Mountains to have a ready supply of metals.”

“Smallest in size after Wilfred, but none of the magic. What does it get us? We are fine here for food,” Tara replied

“And by size do you mean land? I am certain you would be auctioning your own hand in marriage if Routh had not forbidden the Earls from such actions among themselves.”

“My dear brother are you saying I have higher ambitions than a suite at the top of Braques keep?”

“Only socially,” he smiled. “But you must excuse me as I must go make ready for my audience with the merchants.”

Dragon and Troll

It was in the time of merriment
That the dragon and troll were sent
With flask of wine and mead
To throw smoke upon their lead
Though they sang us songs of praise
It was then they made fog and haze

Their goal to hide a fast decent
Breaking oath and covenant
Our bond and strength did fail
Concern with only where I sail
Rubble was all I saw
In a land without a law

When next I woke
With neighbor I then spoke
Yet he and I at odds
Whether to blame the two sods
Was it ours the shame
When we took the flame

Oft I went with no sound plan
Without company for some span
In search of Dragon and Troll
Who mocked and talked droll
They sought to make light
On my misery and plight

Where first alone I met Dragon
Offering me quaffs from his flagon
Wiser now I quickly declined
My poor judgment he opined
And flew away in hot retreat
His breath scorched my feet.

Then next I met Troll
His virtues he did extol
With wise words a path did craft
Yet this time I felt not daft
For if I followed to his den
No one shall I see again

With curse and howl troll did retreat
Telling me to rue my defeat
Yet lost I was in their land
Out in the open I did stand
I raise hand to my brow
And to return home I did vow

After oath then was silent
Rumbles across the field defiant
As goblins in shadow arose
What allies had I chose
Behind me in my need
Came not a noble steed

Yet weasels in number came
To protect my rebellious claim
For goblin they did not fear
No more than trepid deer
Weasel with razor paws
Made short work of toothless maws

Like they came the went
Weasels back to the woods bent
I left the field to improve my skill
With resolve to steel my will
Dragon and Troll I come for thee
Next time I bring aid with me

In days to town I came
Their leader a man so lame
Yet in his eyes there was a fire
For his people he had great aspire
He knew the Dragon and Troll
And their games not droll

Twas them that gave his lot
Vengeances for his family sought
Yet he could not join my quest
Sword he gave to face my test
I left his house rested and fed
Go south for help he plead

So for another twenty five
I searched and found one alive
Among the rubble of defeat
I met another suffering from deceit
To my cause did he agreed
To a master west he would lead

The learned one was Jason
My companion was Greyson
The two when met sized the other
It was when I learned they brother
Now three we made a scheme
For others to join our vengeful team

Then we gathered those to arms
who Dragon had stolen farms
Sophie a shield maiden with talent
Traveled with Barnabas the valiant
Eugene was tall and strong
leading ten more in his throng

Next were those who claimed right
To best the Troll in a fight
The wizard Wendell the grand
And Graham master of the sand
Then Aluna the ever huntress
Who ruled from the verdant fortress

Us nineteen brave and able went on stroll
Time for us hunt the Dragon and Troll
Through lands far and wide
We sought the two wherever they hide
Following tact and rumor
A swift end to it all we did humor

Three years on the quest
Off in a land far to the west
Dragon was confronted in a cave
Finishing a meal on countless slave
We snuck up much to his surprise
To land a deserved demise

Yet is us who were unaware
Of allied dragon residing there
The day went quick and long
And heat from them was strong
In the end we did succeed
Vanquishing one of renown deed

In the evening we laid to rest
Those that had not fared the best
Eugene said goodbye to seven men
Graham, Sophie and Greyson
Had passed protecting an ailing Jason
In all ten had fallen
The night left us all sullen

Up came the banner at morning light
It was time for Troll to face his plight
In Dragon’s cave we learned his stay
It would be over in fourteen day
In that time we would nurse our wounds
Venturing close to Troll in the dunes

Spirits restore we ventured forth
A little bit further north
Mile away we could smell the stench
Of where Troll’s hovel lay entrench
Over the dune Aluna surveyed
The lands themselves cried for aid

Lessons learned we crept ahead
Each not wanting and early bed
Down tunnel deep and winding
Lesser trolls were all the finding
Had he fled in approach
The question we chose not to broach

In lair deep in rock under sand
Is where Troll made his stand
The promise of reform he did spat
We did not accept such from the brat
Eugen and company did approach
Their spears on Troll did encroach

Aluna and Wendell guarded back
While Jason and I did attack
Troll our advance did repel
With brute force and many spell
To my horror I saw Eugene fall
As I lay pinned on the wall

The troll then acid spit
Taking away Jason’s wit
Then it was Wendell’s cast
Burning Troll’s arm to ash at last
And still Troll would not yield
Taking two more off the field

Free Barnabas took my blade
Cleaving till silence made
Then troll lay quiet now
No more deceit shall he vow
The last five of us there did stand
Taking in what was done at our hand

We parted ways the following night
I lost the spirit to fight
Aluna left to rule her land
A new follower in hand
Barnabas to his farm he went
Wendell off with his wisdom to be lent

Six year past the end
A note one did send
To my house it came
Three other received the same
Wendell wrote in hurried hand
Come east, trouble in these land

Departure – Final Chapter

Kit knew where they were going; it was beyond the Anjin Col.  It was far beyond the forest on the other side of the mountain.   He was charged with helping the Jaspert take the caravan to the city of GornStan, in the lands of the Fifteen Earls.  Those that signed on to the caravan had hoped to leave Saj-Graf behind.

Ertle was in a luxurious carriage with a young man by the name of Siwaldh.  The driver of the carriage was Zahar, the fallen.  The three had met one night at Ermore Inn after the days of the cloudervan.  They had agreed to leave Saj-graf and chase their fortunes elsewhere.  Though not a one revealed their past, they were certain they knew each other and the capabilities that dwelled within.

There were several lesser carts of goods from merchants Ertle had convinced to buy in to the venture and cover his cost of needing guards on the road.  Traveling in this class was Deylin Greyston, off to Pigback Pass to build another watchtower for the city.

As they got ready to leave the city two men approached the caravan and spoke to Kit.  One seemed to struggle with the light of day, and told Kit he had been a shut in and was now ready to see the world.  The other limped a bit but assured he could pay enough to convince Ertle to make space for him.  After giving them a quick assessment, Kit admitted them to the group.  It would be a long ride out and a few more hands would be nice with the troubles they may encounter on the road.

The wagons started to roll out of town by midday.  Kit looked back at Jit tower, it was the first marker of Saj-graf he had seen and would likely be the last.  Its majestic rise over the city would leave a lasting impression.  In his heart he would feel peace once he moved himself from the outskirts of town, past the farms and outlying ruins.  If he could shirk his duty and run once more off to the woods he would do so.   He looked down the length of the caravan and then back to the city one more time.

These cities were living beasts that he feared.  They grew without conscious and bread contempt amongst those that dwelled within.  Somehow they made people feel safe and secure, but for Kit, he was happy to depart and be free.

Demise

Nyo-ji watched as he entered his house.  He grew more uncomfortable with each passing moment as his guide lead him further inside.  The place was cleaner since he had last visited Nyo-ji.  There had been much planning for this moment and Nyo-ji was not above savoring justice in the rare times he could administer it.

“Just wait a moment, here,” his guide commanded. He missed the smirk that followed the order.   Nyo-ji had paid the guide handsomely for her part and it was now done.

As soon as his guide stepped outside the building the door slammed shut.  A voice from the shadows spoke up, “Sartow, you came looking for power.  I shall show you it.”

Sartow watched as little sparks of lightning started to bounce from timber to timber on the ceiling.  He could smell the burning in the air, though he saw no fire.  The dirt in the floor started to rise up like a thousand ant mounds forming and then collapsing.

Sartow ran to the door to make an escape, but it would not budge.  He ran to the window to try that and again it would not move.  The lightning now jumped between the mounds and the rafters, making audible crackling noises with each jump.  The smell of burning air made Sartow sweat with panic.

A large bolt coming down on him was the last thing that Sartow saw.  There was not time for him to scream, no time for him to feel, no time to repent.   The corpse was struck by numerous bolts as Nyo-ji’s anger was unleashed.  Nyo-ji knew Sartow would feel nothing from each successive blow, and yet hit him once for each person he had seen his scars upon.

Outside the house Cerridwen heard thunder from inside, but it was the least of her worries as she could not recall why she was at the house, let alone out in the open streets.  She quickly bolted to an alleyway and out of sight.

Prison

The Saj-graf prison was one of the original buildings of the city.  It had been expanded over the years to accommodate the growth in population.  Its proximity to the single room court had not changed in that time nor had the size of the court.  The oldest parts were made of well-aged wood, slowly being patched with stone and mortar. The newest additions had been the second subbasement that was under construction.  This new addition had resulted from finding several attempts to dig out from the prison and finding another purpose than simply filling them in.  The top floor, which was the third, was meant to hold people temporarily and was often crowded with multiple occupants per cell.  The few lucky ones were deemed in need of solitary confinement on this floor.  Commonly it was those sleeping off their vices or those that were not fit to socialize with the common residence.

Justice in Saj-graf was doled out by two judges, appointed by the mayor. The process was so whimsical that if a spat of good weather or a feast day came up you would wait that much longer for your hearing.  The judges heard cases as they saw fit.  The hearing usually consisted of whichever judge heard your plea and accounts from the town guard.  Naturally witnesses were allowed to be presented, and given the haphazardness of the hearings, only those with coin to spare or dear friends would you be guaranteed their appearance.

It was on a cool late evening that Cerridwen sat at one of the cell doors. It was through the its small window she could see Sartow sleeping in a corner.  “That the one m’Lady?” asked a sleepy guard.

“Oh yes, that is him.  And this if for your troubles,” she slipped him a small pouch. “Now it is probably best you find a corner to curl up in.”

“Yes, that sounds like a lovely idea,” the guard yawned.

“Sartow, darling, how did you end up in here?” Cerridwen said in a sweet voice.

He rolled over on to his side and looked at the door. “I don’t have time for wenches,” he snipped.

“Oh dear is that who got you stuck in here?  I am not here to offer my services; rather I am in need of yours.  Yet in here you serve no purpose, perhaps you would like for me to let you out so we can discuss business?”

“I have no business, just my time till they set me free.”

“And that would be when?  Has it not been thirty days since you took up residency here?  You know a certain lord has some say in the courts and I do not think it best you go to trial.”

“Speak quickly or I may call for a guard to bring me water.”

“The job is outside of town and as a leader of men.  They aspire for your renown and your skill.as a leader.  I can take you to them, but only tonight.”

 

Jackal

The clouds rolled in that day. It was not unforeseen by anyone who had paid attention to the winds. The jackal sat looking over the valleys and plains before him and thought about how long it would be till the rain hit. His mate had gone out hunting to for a snack and had said she would be back soon.

The gentle rumble of thunder in the distance made him worry slightly. She never liked the rain, and thunder made her want to hide in the den even more so. He paced around the hill top a little more, looking to see if he could catch sight of her return across the field. He would never liked it when she was gone this long. It made him worry and debate what may beholding her up. As always, he would regret not tagging along, tired as he may have been when she left.

He could now see the gentle rains in the distance as the grass changed shades as it bowed and rode from the drops. It was approaching at a decent rate. It would only be a matter of minutes till it was here. He paced around again surveying the horizon in each direction for the sign of her approach. His nose twitched as he sniffed her familiar scent in the wind.

It was too late, she jumped up and pushed him on his back. He braced for the second assault as three pups jumped up at him from the other sides, each nipping playfully at his ears and arm. He rolled under the assault for a quick moment before knocking the four of them off. He took a quick moment straighten up his fur with a few licks. He nuzzled at the pups to move them along toward their den.

The five jackals’ ears perked up as the sound of the rain now reached them. The quickened their stride to the den in hopes of staying dry. The two watched as the pups scampered to get inside, both watching for any things spying on them. Confident they would get a good rest, the mother went in next followed by the father who was happy to have his family back.

Calm

The building week of tension had broken last night in chaos, and now quiet filled the air. Order won the battle and was set to reclaim the rule. Its serene reassurance was to be embraced by those that had survived. As the panic in people’s hearts to escape from the cages that had been built, there was still much work to be done. Those brave enough, were out in the field tending the wounded or confirming that the large beasts were indeed dead. The Ardent order had been decimated, but their casualties looked minor to the slain cloudervan lying strewn across the field.

Artron followed Corvus as he made show of his kills to the record keepers. He wanted his share of the bounties on these beasts from the mayor. Collaboration was key and that was where someone honest like Artron came in. Artron felt no moral qualm signing off as a witness as long as Corvus kept a blind eye to the valuable metals and gems the silversmith pocketed. It was not as if there were not nobles out in the field doing the same, it was how money was made. Arton was also busy counting the total number slain in the field, he would later gather with the other counters to make sure no corpse was unclaimed or disputed. Those lower in the pecking order stood near their kills to chase of the profiteers and show their mark on the corpse. Once all was tallied the gold would be split and the only ones who lost out were the fallen.

Martell walked the field with Kit, studying the bodies of the cloudervan. Kit worked in a sketch book, while Martell collected samples from the dead. “Looks like these are an Enchanter’s experiment gone awry. That or they have some inherent magical inclination as now their bodies come apart with any of my blades,” commented Martell.

“Nothing natural about copper being a weakness…at least on the skin. I could see it being an issue with something like blood, but copper is not that strong,” Kit commented. “You ever hear the formula of eternal life?”

All the riches could save us
My child, collect and discuss
Silver for a disease or curse
Pestilence gone with Ruby in your purse
Gold against enchantment
Pearls for containment
Emeralds keep a spirit safe
Agate keeps away the wraith
Moonstone to keep your dreams
Lapis will focus you schemes

A few more to help you keep score
Affordable if you don’t mind a dirt floor
Rubies help against haze
Jasper prevent your daze
Opals to clean the eyes
Turquoise to find a prize
Tin to clean up your ail
Platinum for where others fail

A shipment of each
There is nowhere out of reach
Fetch each I beseech
Together their power I will teach

“I had not heard that one,” replied Martell
“There is wisdom in there somewhere, or so my master says. I find it just a list of wealth without the context in which it was written.”
“I think enchanters would be able to do more with it. They are all crafting items for talismans. Yet some of those items are not used for what is listed. Maybe it is a code or done to intentionally mislead outsiders.”