It wasn't hard to miss the place - for it was one where two big rivers were joining together. Right at that place, terrain was such that a giant waterfall formed there, and around waterfall, were two tall luxurious ancient fortresses.
( OOC: I didn't have that problem, I reply through forum, though, so maybe something's wrong with mail connection? :/ )
Meantime, Erdel used that time to slow himself down, so when they eventually land he can be more graceful in it.
When king got closer, he could see that in the smaller fort, there was some signs of life, and it seemed there were around twenty people inside that he could sense with his hearing - but in the bigger fortress to their left, there were no people, and judging by clearer and more unique shape of the yard and fountain in it, it was probably some kind of place where access was more restricted - it was probably cleaned and cared for by people living in the other establishment.
Xia looked curious about it - she did not land in the yard beside fountain, though, as she seemed to sense it was more frequented by people, and she didn't quite feel like being surrounded by that vacant scent of strangers. Instead, she landed upon the flat top of the highest tower of the empty fortress, seeming to find nice view from it pleasing.
Erdel took couple of circling around it and tries, before he at last nailed it, and though his landing was still a bit rough, it was less destructive and more elegant this time, and he seemed a touched pleased for it.
(OOC: So it seems the email replies got here, but with a longer delay. I'll reply through the forum if I can, but during holidays I'll only have internet connection through the phone and no wifi...)
"I didn't know there are people here," Svarik told Erdel when he landed succesfully. "It looks magnificent, but not like a suitable place to stop for a time if we want privacy. Let's just take a look and try the other place. It's more or less on the way anyways..."
( OOC: It's okay, dear, I don't mind waiting for a bit to get a reply, you don't have to reply through forum and lose data needlessly - you can continue doing it by email, it's your preferred way, and it's really not the problem, I am patient, I won't die if I wait for a while longer, dear ;)
"I don't mind that much. The place is so nice that people could be ignored. There are just around twenty of them, anyway, and their aura feels nice and peaceful... When people are not aggressive, I am not fearful and tense with them. " vampire commented, observing other fort in the distance. " But if you feel we should go, we will go, sire. I wouldn't want to compromise your safety without any reason. "
"I feel like an intruder," Svarik admitted. "Maybe we could greet them and ask them if we can take a better look at the fortress and waterfall, but I don't want to stay here to teach Xia. That would be better with no people around."
" I could go ask them first. This is too nice place not to stay for a while, if we are allowed. " Erdel offered. " Besides, if they do not like it or they attack, I can just skip through the layers effortlessly. No meed to risk your safety, sir. "
" I guess it would be fine to say we are travelers, and wing it. Though it may be a bit suspicious when they ask how you got here to the top of the building. " creature noted. " Maybe you and Xia should land in that yard of that smaller fort, and she should take more human form. You can wait for me there while I speak with them inside. True, it's not as safe distance as I would like, but it would leave less questions unanswered to them. "
" That's a great idea. We'll do it like that, then. " vampire smiled pleasantly, seeming little encouraged, since with Yiska looking more normal their chance of passing as normals where considerably bigger.
Once they landed, he told Svarik to stay at the very edge of the yard, where Yiska could transform and fly of with king immediately, if needed, while he went toward the big gate. For a heartbeat, he wondered should be just open it himself, or knock, but not wanting to risk appearing strange, he at first knocked for a bit, and then called out more loudly until somebody heard him. Soon, after short exchange, door opened a little bit, and vampire went inside to speak with the owners.
Demon let him caress her, seeming reassured more with it - she didn't understand why and where he and Erdel were leading her and the animals, so this all was a little stressful to her as she didn't know what to expect.
Soon afterwards, door opened again, and Erdel went out to the king.
" They said they will give us the keys to the fortress, and that it will be alright for us to look around it and climb to the top as long as we don't use keys on anything but the doors, and lock the building and return them keys before sundown. " he said. " They requested that we must brake bread and salt with then first before they allow us the grace, though. "
"They follow that custom? I don't have a problem with that, but how about you? It is more binding to demons, and also it's food..." Svarik said thoughtfully. "Did you find out who they are and what's the history of the fortress?"
" They didn't tell me much about it's history, but from what I could gather, it seems like some kind of... temple. Sanctuary of some sort. Maybe we could ask. Anyway, if it's for getting you permission to be at place you like at ease, then I'll take one bite from them without complaint, sir, for your sake. " vampire smiled a little. " Besides, Zephir explained me the salt thing. There's a limit to what they can do, with just a little bite of that salted bread. If they order me something I really don't want to do, it will cause me lot of pain, but if I can find power of will I can resist it. And even if I fall under their control because of salt, you'll have dog Xia to protect you from me, because she won't eat it, so she can keep you perfectly safe until effect of salt I eat wears off. I think we can take a risk. " creature smiled, as it seemed he didn't fear these people, but still thought through their suggestion and only accepted it when he was sure king'd be safe even in worst case.
" Yes, in couple of hours it will wear of. And if they are willing to speak, I'd like to ask to learn more, too. They seem like some kind of priesthood, which is a bit odd, this far from any settlement miles around. " creature agreed. " I told them our names, but I didn't say you was king, just in case, for your safety. I said you was musician from nobleman family that hired me as bodyguard on your travels. "
As they entered the place, they were led by a man in his twenties, wearing a simple tunic of distinguishable nice color, the emerald shade just between green and blue, decorated with embroidery made with thick but interesting black thread.
He led them through couple corridors, all of which had some mild decorations of same combinations of emerald and black.
In the main hall, there were around twenty people, seated upon a long table. They were of different genders, ages and colors of skin, but dressed in the calming different shades of emerald and black, and with calm peaceful faces as some of them ate, some knitted, and some did chores, it indeed seemed like they were some kind of obscure cult.
From the top of the table, stood up not a old man, not a maiden, but a child around ten years old - it had clear porcelain skin and bright emerald eyes, like quite a few of people around.
" I greet you, travelers. " he said with stronger southern accent. " I am the Master of this castle. I hear you wish to spend some time at the fortress next doors. It is ours, but I warn three - it's our sacred place. If you wish keys to it and our blessing, as your companions must have told you... " child smiled charmigly. " You have to brake bread and salt with us first. "