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Noko last won the day on October 8

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  1. "Yes... I suppose I poke and prod too much. Bad habit. You'll get paid. I'll see to it. I have reserve funds you can take." Evie shoved herself up onto her elbows and stared daggers at Keldorl, pushing frustration out between her teeth like a restrained lioness-- she was heated. Having bit back the aggravation for so long, it had festered, and she spoiled for the fight, spilling tension-birthed agitation out onto the roof as Keldorl stole the adrenaline and buried it in sullen moroseness. "Always a fool Kel..." Abruptly, she scrambled to a seat, shaking her head as she pulled over her pack and withdrew a canteen. The sprite took the opportunity to leap free of the weighty conflict and flit lightly up to the top of an exhaust stack. "Gods, you're frustrating. Are you going to be able to work past this or not? If you'll try, I'll stay - I'm all the way out here anyway, but if the entire time is going to be an inquisition I'm just going to head out into the more friendly, poison-filled, slaver enclave we've got going outside. If I stay, there's going to be some changes. First, I'm fucking Evie Lafontaine. I'm almost quite literally no one- my mother was gifted wind magic through the Nehelan Primera and when She died my mother found out that her prayers had shit to do with her wind magic. That was fun. My father was a machinist - you want to make a windmill, I'm your girl. I've been on walkabout since the Primera sacrificed herself to save us." Her voice cracked with bitterness and betrayal. The tale of Nehelan was a tragic one for everyone whose last name wasn't carved into a House- for common people, for people with dirt under their nails and emptiness in their stomachs, at best it was a chaotic upheaval- at worst, it was the end of the world as the Old Gods fell, then for years Lilith scored its face with her fires and destruction, and their last Goddess broke the land's magic and sacrificed herself for the people. Imagine; in Nehelan, their gods were real, tangible; their gaze was the light and life that sparked in every living thing. Responsible for sentience, and magic, and the gifted surprise of a warm day in November.. ..and then they died. "That's it- that's what you get to know about me for now. Beyond that, you're going to respect my privacy- if I don't want to talk about it, I don't want to talk about it, and you're going to need to deal with that or you can deal with all of this mess.." Her hand slashed through the air, indicating everything. "On your own."
  2. Beneath the confused steppe wrinkling her brow, Evie scooped up the four and the seven, then lay the four down on Keldorl's set of three before dropping her own short-straight of six-seven-eight, then shook her head. That was a lucky break- the rest of her hand was a flaming garbage chute of unrelated madness, flecked equally in black and red, with a mad accountant's throw of numbers- 10D, 9H, 6S, KC, 8D, 5S, as the paper would write it. She mused, thoughtfully silent and calculating, looking over the use-worn cards as if the trace of her spring eyes could massage the nine-of-hearts into a nine-of-diamonds. "It was difficult at first. Growing into a knighthood, a pirate was closely the opposite of my childhood. I adapted. Luck bestowed upon myself, I found that the clan was not the typical pirate. While we maintained some high seas presence, our main fleet was air born. I grew fond of that new world. I was able to become a solider in their ground force and, well, history as they say." "Knighthood to pirate.." Evie's attention was fixed on her cards, even as her words floated out like butterflies. "That must have been a leap," she said as she rejiggered the squares in her hand, found structure in some sameness, then reset chaos as she plucked out the king-of-clubs and set it into the discard pile. With the pass of her hand against its edge, she collapsed the fan-of-cards into her palm and continued, "How did that happen-- don't they have conflicting moral codes- protect the kingdom vs.. well, piracy?" "Who are you really? The false façade is cleverly disguised but I've spent too many moons with those who try to conceal identities. The men who dropped you off, they didn't look like normal sailors. They looked at you as if you were an empress of sorts. The way you carry yourself. The way you see around a corner expecting the blade of a knife to shimmer. Even inside the house, when the frame shattered, you went into a defensive mode. I can't see what you do. But I feel it. Call it warriors' intuition. I don't need an answer. But, that is my question." What was this, the fourth time in a scant day he'd accused her of nefarious intent? It was at least the second time he'd cut conversation with the edge of interrogation. Who would stick around for this? "By the fucking Primera, you are 100% a crazy stalker." Frustration poured over Evie's expression like a spring melt over its dam and she let herself tumble backward onto the roof, sprawled as if the energy spent on this conversation had transformed her bones into soup. "It's not intuition, Keldorl; it's paranoia; of course I'm capable- I'm a woman adventuring alone in this fucking insane world. You know, not long ago, my entire continent started falling out of the sky? You really think we make milquetoast in Nehelan? It's a little too hot for that," she announced to the star-flecked sky, acid in her words as her aggravation boiled over to paint them sharp. "Oh wait, your manly intuition has overcome my feminine wiles; I'm starting to feel faint.." She set the back of her hand against her forehead, fluttering her eyelashes derisively. "I can't resist your overpowering strength. You figured me out, Keldorl- I'm Queen Gabriela. No, wait- I'm the reincarnation of the Primera, or Merida Persona, or.. Lilith Reiter. Shit, that's it-- I'm Lilith Reiter." A stroke of inspiration and Evie announced the name as if calling the arrival of a God. "I'm the evil witch-demon cunt who set Nu Martyr on fire and killed half the province. OoooOOooOoo.." It was hard to dodge the mocking faux-wickedness and real frustration that underscored her words. Whether Keldorl had intended to or not, the incessant suspicion had worn its last hole into Evie's patience, and as she declared herself to be Lilith Reiter she raised her hand from her forehead and threw an 'evil' finger wiggle up toward the sky like a stereotypical witch casting a malicious spell. Nothing happened, of course, and after a not-at-all-tense-moment, she tossed her cards down onto the rooftop. "Fuck this, I fold," she stated, exhausted and weighty with disappointment. "How can I trust you to watch my back if you think I'm some kind of villainous.. I don't know, gardener? Here on my wicked task to.. what, get paid enough for five meals and a stopover bed in Veelos? I'll pack up in the morning-- this job isn't worth the crazy."
  3. The time passed in a relaxed, companionable way- even drunk, and she was drunk, Phoebe was an active and attentive listener, with here-here nods and sororal agreement, abject disgust, and stunned disbelief echoing at all the right places in Riha's roller-coaster ride of a life. For her part, Phoebe had no need to fake her interest-- Riha had appeared and disappeared across the Gensarian and Terran continents for a quarter of a century, entwined with noble houses and vampiric undergrounds in a spaghetti-and-barbed-wire tangle of lifelines. It was a current-day soap opera, underscoring the skeletal 'what' Phoebe already knew with the heady, fleshed-out, 'why' which comprised her best work, and it held the First rapt. Amidst the winding biography, Phoebe drank, but much slower- sips, not gulps, and sometimes draughts which were forgotten halfway on their meandering path to her full lips. The world had started to take on a foggy edge, where familiarity was easy and humor plentiful, and her psionics draped a lazy sprawl like a drunken foot on the wood planked floor. As she lay, tiny, spark-like pin-points of light flared against Phoebe's pale skin from time to time- sudden white-hot suns which blazed with frantic, electric, immediacy, then died, all in the blink of an eye. Who knew, maybe they weren't even there. "So you see, not only have I inherited the very large cattle ranch he wants, I've wounded his manly pride and... I've uh - half unmanned him? Bastard can't even make good on what he promised the last time we parted... But to him, I'm that bitch." "Whatever." The lash of Phoebe's wrist accompanied her words- a backhand through the air, like truth thrown at a cheating husband, meant to scatter the belittlement like wine across his face. "I'm 'that bitch' to half the planet- it's fine by me, while they whine my bank account rolls over another zero and I buy another island. There's no reason you can't do the same. He's a fool. Here's the question, though - what do you want to do about him? Killing people is easy.." This, off-handed, as Phoebe lay against a fan of her dark hair and stared at the cobwebs in the rafters. "Did you really half 'unman' him? As in... " She curled her attention to the other woman, wrinkling her nose and focusing through a narrow-eyed squint as she hooked a finger and made a little scooping motion. "Like.." Her brow raised and she cast a sidelong glance toward Riha, words unsaid. "That's the sort of thing that starts a chase which never ends. If that's the case, we'll probably have to kill him or he'll baste in his hatred until he becomes a monster big enough to annoy us, but there's no reason we can't have some fun beforehand. He's your problem, though, " she said, her shoulders and palms flicking up dismissively, "..mine too, if we end up being friends - and either way, that decision is yours." An edged grin sketched across Phoebe's lips as she pushed up onto her elbow watched Riha, tracing the lines of her expression, considering, and wandering freely among the flush of adrenaline and alcohol. "You have a world of solutions to this problem- a whole fucking world. If you could solve Rolfe any way you wanted - do anything, choose from everything - what would you choose? What do you want? Play the imagination game- whatever it is, we can do it. We can do anything." There was that word again, anything. What a world to live in.
  4. "Tight-lipped, mysterious, unseeable power, and answering only one question of mine... I'd call that being as vague as possible. Well, I suppose I will keep on to my only question I'm allowed. That will make a game of – rummy you say? - a little bland for taste. But I get the feeling you prefer secrets over disclosure?" "Don't forget charming and unspeakably beautiful.. " Evie jested, snorting softly as she shook her head at Keldorl, sending a half-mocking glance through her dark lashes as she countered, "It's not like I can make air visible.. besides, I meant like.. one right now, not one forever-until-the-end-of-time," she further commented, laughing as her foray into the depths of her backpack finally bore fruit and she pulled her hand out, triumphantly clasping a worn pack of cards with a faded blue etching of the Gensar gods on its back. "..and not thirty-five in a mob flying at me like a barrage of arrows. The list you threw out was straight up inquisitor-level - I felt like your next question was going to be when my moon last rose, what my cramps are like, and how I manage it out in the woods.. I get that you're maybe new here-- or maybe you've just been in the woods for a bit too long-- but we're going to need work on your conversation skills a bit. Nobody wants to feel like they fell into a pit of Va'Elar, getting their thoughts ripped out." Drawing her long-legs in, Evie sat and settled into an easy cross-legged hunch, with her forearms draped over her knees as she tapped the deck out into her palm. It was clumsily split in half, then its halves forcibly shoved into each other like meat through a grinder, then split in half again and set out on the grimy rooftop for Keldorl to finish the cut. Once done, she retook the deck, riffled thrice with the second attempt being a mess of cards jutting out like spokes in a wheel, then smoothed the edges, signaling her annoyance at the awkwardness with a roll of her eyes. Her blue furred sprite crept out, wide-eyes evaluated the safety of doing so, and without hesitation it decided it would rather be sleeping and swan-dove into Evie's cavernous pack as Evie semi-smoothly dealt each hand with the flick of her fingertips- Keldorl got a mess of could-be-something and, if one gauged by the frustrated furrow of Evie's brow, she got much the same. "I'm going to let you deal every time, if you'd please. I'm not a card virtuoso, but I know enough of the games to play. Betting would be looked down upon. I've learned a few card games. Pirate. After all." "Mmm, you might take that offer back if I keep dealing this junk.." Dirty fingertips plucked cards out seemingly and random, reordering them into some kind of sense, before she laid out the deck and flipped over the first well-worn card. "After this, teach me a new game, then. Maybe one from wherever you're from - I basically know rummy, blackjack, and a children's game called war, none of which are a ton of fun, or you could tell me about being a pirate while I lose this hand.. I would love to be a pirate. All that open space..." she mused, filling her lungs with the breath of wistful daydreams, as days spent pirating through the wide expanse of the sky filled her thoughts. The Dead had a pirate fleet; she should take advantage. Granted, her spear was not a swashbuckling weapon, but she could make it happen. Shaking her head, Evie glanced fondly at her staff- seemingly discarded, as it was, by her side, then grinned back up at Keldorl as she went on. "I could tell you about all the insanity that happens here- for instance, did you know that the Emperor of Genesaris is supposedly an actual god, and a vampire who raises humans like livestock, and has an invitation-only feast on them every year like it's the fucking pumpkin harvest. Lord of the Veins.." she echoed, her voice hollowed out with mock-ominousness, and discarded a four. "That's what they call him."
  5. Very little would have Evie betray her mask, but for a hot second she considered the potential benefit of attempting to super-heat the coffee by rapidly shaking the air in it back and forth. I mean, she'd never had a need to - or even knew if she could, or if it would work if she could - but damn, did she think about it. That's all she did, though, that and sigh as she took a cup of cold coffee and threw her attention upward toward the fast pinking sky. "It's a kind of meat.." A kind of meat.. A rousing endorsement, if she'd ever heard one. Still, food was food, and it was hardly worse than the pressed nutrient discs that Argus churned out for survivalists and other 'calories-on-the-run' kind of people. It had taste, at least. Not a great taste, but... Reflecting, she noted with a wry kind of amusement that she possessed unimaginable wealth and the power of nations, yet she was somehow always holed up in a barely habitable shelter eating something that could only broadly be considered food and wishing she was at home, buried beneath the covers, listening to her daughter and Aristotle snore. Shh, don't tell him- it's an adorable snore. She popped one of the meat substitutes in her mouth and chewed, her expression tightening as she gave Keldorl a bushel of side-eye and slowly shook her head at its 'flavor'. "Now, seeing as we have some downtime, shall we entertain ourselves? I want to start with your powers. I've met humans with telekinesis before. Didn't feel the same. Yours are a different form perhaps. You took an immediate dislike to the possibility of slavers. You were once a slave? Or knew someone? And, you rather be stabbed in the back, does that mean you'd prefer not to know or...or are you afraid of who crossed you and you don't want confirmation." "You have a strange sense of entertainment... do you moonlight as an interrogator?" wondered Evie, brow curled as she choked down the remainder of the meatish sphere and eyed the weight of a second one against her flagging resolve. "We could just play cards.." Leaning well over to the side, Evie shoved her staff of the top of her pack, grabbed the worn leather strap, and dragged the bag over to her. Straightening, she pulled into her lap and gulped down some more cold coffee, before beginning to paw through her belongings on the search for her cards. "..you did answer my human question, sort of - so I'll give you one answer, but you're gonna need to pick from that laundry list of an inquisitor's wet dream. I mean, you're never going to get a girlfriend if you start conversations like that. You know how to play rummy?"
  6. "I can agree to your conditions, so long as you can abide by two of my own. One is that my protege be let in on our arrangement. As she has agreed to stay with me despite the danger it places her in, I will hide nothing from her." There was no hiding the flicker of distaste that flashed across Phoebe's shadowed expression as John raised the possibility of bringing Muriel into the fold. Her light eyes slid toward the door, though her face remained turned toward the Governor, and small lines shot from the corner of her full lips as she pressed them together. The second condition received just the flare of her palm; the first, though, the first she came back to. "Are you sure, John? If we do that, Muriel will wear the contract the same as you- for life. " If Phoebe knew Hell's Gate, it was probably no surprise that she knew Muriel as well. "Just an educated guess on your dear friend.." Sharp eyes would catch the wink, subtle as it was, before she went on . "We know how tough you are to kill, so the repercussions of breaking the contract would then have to be.. properly targeted.. for both of you." A smile, faint and weary, pulled at Phoebe's lips. Truth be told, this wasn't the most enjoyable part of her job - threatening someone's wife, letting their imagination wonder what horror she could bestow on their children, their loved ones, everything and anything they cared for, was almost a step too far into the fetid blackness. Almost. She'd done worse, when needed, and she'd do this too. Her psionics' gentle touch was a calming breeze that swept through John's thick hair as she wove it through his dark locks, leaving it unkempt and ruffled, like a young man in the prime of his rugged wildness. It was an unbecoming look on a politician, but as a man, it worked for John, casting a glimpse into a long-distant past, one which would never again be, but one that felt so very real- so virile- so possible. She was distracting- him, and her, and maybe other eyes not yet considered. Idly, her attention and its ghostly manifestation slipped lazily across the swell of his broad chest, to the two buttons at the top of his shirt. With abstract, idle intentions, the warm pass of her Will slipped the polished disks loose, and their brush delicately sprawled his collar open in indecent, whimsical, abandon. A glance took him in now, carefully and delicately, like appraising eyes on a new bride. He was just the shadow of the Cowboy now; the free-spirit which rode into Everrun so many years ago and claimed it with little more than piss and an 'I said so', but it was still there, and its hint broadened her lazy grin. She spent another moment in reverie before business lay its claim across her face and her soft gaze met his bicolor atrocity once again. "What I mean to say John, is that if you bring her into this and she declines, she'll die right here on your floor." She paused, let a breath fill and empty in her thin chest, as she looked down at the imported wood planks which would be Muriel's resting place. It was just a fact to her; not arrogance, or foolish bragging, or a threat. If anything, she sounded sad about it- the way her eyes rounded, and her voice toned down, one might think the thought bothered her. Phoebe let the moment settle, then looked back up. "It's just like a light going out. It'll be gentle, but that's of little consolation to most people. If she accepts and later breaks the contract, your family dies; her family dies. If you break it, she and your family die." Her sigh was gentle but resigned- for all the mad power she sought, Phoebe had no wish to spread misery for misery's sake. If decisions were to be made, they would be made with wide-eyes from all parties. "There's a lot of death in business these days. Take a minute to consider-- we can still do business; I can walk out of here in ten minutes with a grin on my lips, a half-tuck to my shirt, and a handful of cash that make this... " She lifted her hand, a waving, playful wave of her fingertips tied she and John together. "..an easy story to sell. Muriel can go home; she can keep going home for the rest of her life, and never, ever, see me again. Your enemies will still die. Your family will still be safe. Or we can bring her in. Think about it.. I'll wait."
  7. Location: South-West, well outside of Mageside City A low growl rumbled in heavy, weighted tones that bathed the would-be preserve in a marinade infused with wonder and fear. From a crouch, Phoebe cast her green gaze wide across the rolling golden hills toward the distant toothy peaks. She pressed further down- her fingertips, and then her palm flat into the damp soil as she crouched beneath the edge of the tall grass. The air flickered; she enveloped herself and her companion in solid thought and hoped it was enough, that her woven threads of compulsion and thought would be the roof and walls they needed. The truth was, they didn't know much about the Great Jaguar beyond that it was nearly extinct, exceedingly rare (and hence valuable), and highly protected. Its talents, behavior, ecology- even its social organization were all completely unknown. For all the research she and the Dead had undertaken, they'd compiled a scant half-page of information on the wonderful beast; the beast which she would ride to the top of Mageside City, if given half the chance. < That's it, I assume?> <Uh, yes.> The nameless Skeleton swallowed sour as he scraped the surrounding grass with a gaze wide and shining. <We've been able to track a mating.. pod?> <Pack.> <..a mating pack. They make their home in the mountains...> His black eyes lifted, directing Phoebe's attention to the jagged, fog-obscured, silhouettes, as the warning growl echoed again. This time it was closer- much closer- and the First ducked her head even further until she was perched on flexed hands and knees, fighting the wash of fight-or-flight raking across her nerves. <..and come down to hunt.> <I've noticed.> Silently, the dark-haired Thief set one knee down in the dirt. Lit with adrenaline, she could hear the not-distant-enough brush of the Jaguar's fur against the dried grass stalks, and the huff of its breath. She tilted her hips to the side, slipping one hand into her pocket at the speed of a mud-packed land snail, and slowly worked a small, folded square of fabric out from its depths. Slowly, she exhaled, like retreating her weight from a not-yet-sprung trap. The fabric was laid out and smoothed before she set her palm on it; the Skeleton followed, his on top of hers, and with the press of her psionic signature the spell triggered and reality inverted and threw them back across the twines of corporeal space to the sigil's far-flung mate. They arrived in a pop, like space-time had snapped its fingers at the culmination of a parlor trick, on their hands in needs in an empty, unlit building, full of shelves stacked high with dust-covered books. "I fucking hate that." "Do you like getting eaten by a Jaguar more?" wondered Phoebe as she stood, brushing the dust from her elbows and knees, and took a quick glance around the abandoned library. "No." "Well, then. Tell the main office we're a go." "For what?" came the wonder, impertinent as it was. "Everything."
  8. A certain kind of violence took to the air. It was easy for her to recognize the stain, for she bathed in it until she and it were the same. Phoebe could no more ignore its summoning than she could her own name and when the feel of the Glen shifted, when its black glee ran free and untamed, she closed her eyes and welcomed it like a lover. This was her world. These were her Sisters. Want. Power. Control. Familiar and lovely shield-maidens, the triplets were welcome bedfellows to the First- to Phoebe. Beautiful, long-limbed sycophants whose tantalizing touch and marvelous artistry rewarded her every success, whose comings were celebrated like the arrival of Queens, with open arms, open beds, and readied feasts. But not like this. Like a mouse becoming aware of the cat hiding in the long grass, Phoebe shifted her shadowed gaze slowly across the dappled glen toward her General, showing the whites of her perfect teeth in a broad grin. There were no mice here. "That's not right," she declared. Her grin crooked, its angle sharp like a knife as she turned to face Shikai. The air around him began to thicken; its texture ragged like shattered glass as it shaped itself into hooks that snaked around the General like a nest of vipers and held him fast. In moments, the rest of his space filled in, encasing Shikai in a perfectly frozen cube which began to rotate toward Phoebe. It trapped the moth which had been hovering nearby, diced the mud and moved it with him, carved a piece of the tree out in a perfect right-angle slice. It was as if space and time had segmented the General out for this one unfortunate moment. In the shadows, a child danced and Phoebe dismissed it with the flare of her fingertips. "Not now, love. Mommy's busy." The water and mud churned, cleaving a path from the First to her General as his space and his body rotated to face her. "I spent a long time in your head; running around with your wants and your desires -- this wasn't there." A step brought her closer, mud and water cast forcibly to each side, thrown by her telekinetics as she drew face to face with Shikai. "I would have noticed. What's say we have another look." The force with which she breached Shikai's thoughts was immeasurable- it was like trying to stop an avalanche with a shovel or an army with a farmer's fence. She trampled over the suggestion of a barrier, pitiless as she obliterated its familiar wards and bulwarks, and in moments was fully resident within the General's mind. <This isn't you.> The command echoed, undeniable. <Fight.> <Fight or I'll burn it out of you.>
  9. When in Rome, as the saying goes. Michelle bowed her head gracefully in response to Ariana's greeting- the 'cultural sensitivities' training at Argus had briefed her in the ways in which Hasturian culture differed, so as to make it less likely that a simple mistake became an international incident. She tried once or twice to make small talk with Ariana on the way- to discuss the beautiful landscape or the technical achievement of the airfield, but when it became clear the Captain wasn't a willing conversationalist, Michelle simply traveled in companionable silence. The Oni-masked escapee was an interest, though - with no banter on her lips, the Head of Argus marked time looking at the foreign wonders, including, as it happened, the masked man who leapt the wall and bounded into the city. She waited- you could see her wait, listen for the alarm, prepare for Ariana to go rushing off, but none of that happened. Instead, it was a collective yawn, and her eyes flit to her companions as if to check her own sanity. Still, she walked- she followed, she minded her own business. In time, they made their way through the beautifully shifting themes to a palace, then a room, and a couch. She sat, legs delicately crossed at the ankle, and waited alongside her companions. When the Lady Royal arrived, Michelle rose, gracefully smoothing her pants as she returned Shelly's warm smile, then bowed. "Lady Royal, we are pleased to meet you. We appreciate you taking the time to meet with us. I'm Michelle Beauregard." A small bow of her head accompanied the introduction, then she turned sideways and gestured toward each companion in turn. "This is Adan Ramseyer, the Proprietor of Pick and Axe Mining, and Mariela Orso, the Proprieter of Three Daughters Fabrication. In thanks for your hospitality and consideration, we brought a small gift from our lands to yours." Extending her left hand, Michelle presented a palm sized golden box, wrapped with a blue ribbon dyed to match Hasturia's flag. Inside the box, was a rare living Okamura's Graceful Moonflower, set in its native soil and suitable for transplant.
  10. Evie was just starting her descent, one leg over the edge of the roof and her torn nails dug into the wood, when Keldorl set his bloodied palm against the ground and the great Bayan tree became animate. Its aura sprawled out like its vast roots, claiming the land and bathing Evie in its ancient, steadfast presence. It was like waking in the gullet of a whale- she was alone, and then she was surrounded, and every nerve in her lean body flinched at the realization. A lucky scramble and a clawing snatch of an exhaust stack kept her from falling, but it was close, and a smattering of rock dust pattered against the ground like rain as she regained her footing. It only took a moment for her to sort through the sudden arrival, but it was a long, panic-filled moment. The business of setting a perimeter was just that, business- Evie was methodical as she made her way through the twisted streets. She collapsed falling walls into the byways, smoothed dust so it would betray footprints, and set a myriad of common and indistinguishable obstacles that would require specific movements to move past. There was nothing fancy or magical about any of it- it was just the understanding and exploitation of how people traveled and what shortcuts they took when they thought their movements didn't matter. Still, it took time. Almost an hour passed while the woman set her watchers, and when she returned, the sun was three hands from the horizon and actively fading in the way that autumn rushes to greet winter. A now-familiar path carried her back up to the rooftop where Keldorl waited, even as the thin muscles of her back rose complaint after complaint. "..so," she began as she broke the roof's horizon and hauled herself up, a scramble carrying her further in until it was safe to stand. "Were you going to mention the talking trees at some point? It seems like we could solve a lot of problems with animate trees.." Making her way over to their makeshift camp, she lowered herself to the roof and slapped the dirt from her shins, "You got any more of that coffee? I vote we eat and wait until morning to head inside- someone had me running around like a porter today, and I'd rather charge headfirst into an unknown, probably-pollen-filled nightmare of a building after a good night's sleep. In the meantime, you can tell me what you are if you're not human.."
  11. "Which floor is your room on?" "The 'penthouse.'" Phoebe's slanted tone managed to drag quotes around the word 'penthouse' as surely as if she had slipped her hand from around Riha's thin waist and drawn them in the air. She carried the same tone forward, basting her words in dry humor, before serving them to Riha with a half-grin. "Don't worry, it's only overwhelming the first time you walk in," she continued. Their footsteps echoed up two flights of stairs- arm in arm, around a waist, or draped over shoulders, or whatever the suggestion required as the two women carried the daydream up the narrow wooden staircase, over the first post and beam landing, and up to a single door that sat at the peak of the building. There, the First set her right palm flat against the upper corner of the open-grain door and waited; without explanation, it would be awkward, but Riha could see the family of ghostly tendrils that perked and frolicked toward her palm like curious puppies. A smile drifted across her face as they investigated her. Each passed through the broad door as if it were nothing, played through her fingers, and chased one another down the curve of her arm's lean musculature until they found their home amongst her flesh, sinking into the blue whorls that peeked out from the edges of Phoebe's sleeves and collar. The door opened of its own accord, was pressed open further by a gesture, and Riha was left to take in the magnificence of a hole-in-the-wall tavern in Versilla, where the penthouse's defining characteristic was that it was the only room that didn't rent hourly. "Great, right?" By this point, her sarcasm had nearly taken form. It was not great. It was barely a mockery of great. What it was, was a single room, spread half the length of the bustling tavern, with twin wood-framed windows nestled beneath the peak of the roof twelve feet above. A grotesquely large bed covered by a single elegant blue blanket was shoved against the far wall, beneath the window, with a disheveled pile of pale, worn blankets shoved off onto the floor at the foot. There was a wooden dove-tail dresser with mismatched hardware, a table with single chair that had a backpack, a dark green cloak, and an ironwood spear thrown across it, and a single door that lead the room's other defining characteristic- a private bathroom, by which we should note it was just a tiny room with a sink and toilet, not an actual bath. The spear though; back to the spear. Who keeps a spear in their room, anyway? To one with normal eyes and a mundane view, it was a beautiful and vicious piece of work- a war spear, shorter than expected, comprised of a long length of ironwood and light metal, that came to a vicious foot-long blade that shone like the moon set against a blood red sky. To Riha's more honed sight, the spear was Phoebe's echo; resonating in time with her swell and pulse as tiny flicks of light were pulled from it, or propelled from it, and rejoined the other woman like children welcomed home. "You can take whichever one is on the left," Riha said carelessly, referring to the pills, "I'll wait and we can toast to the stupidity of men." While she spoke, Riha could also see what the 'penthouse' didn't have-- a seating area, so as Phoebe entered the room, shedding the faux-sexuality as she crossed toward the table, she unfurled her hand to reveal the blue-and-white pills and set each on the table's edge by her spear. As Riha made her choice, she plucked the left pill from its place and tossed it back, chasing it down her throat with a half-full glass of water that had been hiding under her cloak, and leaving the other pill on the table as she hoisted the empty glass toward Riha. The door shut itself quietly. "To exploitable weaknesses," Phoebe countered, winking as she waited for Riha to fill the short rocks glass in her hand. Once it was, Phoebe completed the toast with a clink and a draught, then crossed the room toward the bed. At a distance, one could see a sway had made its way into her long stride; that her sinuous curve had a bit too much sinuous in her curve, and a pearlescent flare of something stabilizing settled around her feet like a base as she spun at the bed's edge and fell back into its cushion. "So," she began, her face and words upturned to the wood beamed ceiling as she sprawled across the bed, "..that shithead is actually still looking for you, you know that, right? We ran across him once or twice while we worked to set up tonight; I sent him off on a goose chase toward Orisia to avoid the complication.." Shifting and shimmying, Phoebe pressed herself up onto her elbows and beckoned Riha one-handed toward the enormous mattress, like she was welcoming her to a childhood slumber party, "He's a real piece of work.. and, believe me, I'm one to know. What's the deal- why you? I mean.." She squinted, then laughed at the alcohol-laced misstep. "I'd take you in a heartbeat, of course," she smoothed in the way that particular verbal mishap is always smoothed, with no real sense of seriousness as the amusement clung to her words, "but there's a ton of other women in the world.. with the amount of effort he's putting out to find you, he could do a lot of other things. So, what the fuck? Why this? Why you? Is he just that much of an asshole?"
  12. "It's pitch black. I'm afraid I'd be a burden if I jumped in like this." <You fought invisible attacks from me for months..> Her encouragement floated back on steeled thoughts, smooth despite the effort Phoebe exerted as she wove through the fight, ducking a fast-moving swipe from one of the fiery red lines as she shaped her Will into lashes that punished those near her. She took a breath in, pushed a breath out, and cleared the area with a circular push that sent the wrought iron deck furniture scattering. In its wake, there was nothing - just open air and claustrophobic darkness, like the Dead and their victims were already settled in their graves. She reached out again, her thoughts for Ash alone. <Trust the team, Ash. Trust the work.> In the pitch, her violet hair stood out in flashes as she moved, here and there in staccato chaos. Phoebe ground her teeth; a fist flashed, curling her spine as she bent to avoid it. The guards were closing- melee was becoming untenable- and she urged the boy forward again. <We need you out here.> A shaft of crimson light shot out from behind her, just slicing past her face before two slugs shot past; it was the guard to the left of the elevator, once stunned, now aiming, firing, as the area in front of Phoebe erupted into a stream of flame. The rush of heat hit the First like a raging torrent, quickly beginning to strip away the shield she threw up. Like a child with a mirror, Phoebe began to shift and angle the fire, working her shield like a deflector and using the shed fire arcana to set one of the guards near her aflame. The laser behind her emerged again, bouncing off the interior of her shield and searing through the top of her forearm, tearing a sharp curse from her painted lips. <Gods-damnit! Somebody get my six!>
  13. A bloom of telekinetic anchors rushed out from Sierra, creeping into any available nook or crack and twining around the ship's solid core, as they sought to secure the Dead and their white-garbed associate against the ship's violent crash into the pocket dimension. Their pressure was as steadfast as the tribeswoman's expression and, but for the curl of her brow, equally unmoving. “We’ll have to ram straight into it.” Oh, that's fun. An idle glance from Sierra took in Cain sidelong; the tilt of her chin, and spark in her eyes, suggested amusement at the tumult. It was never a boring day. For a long moment the Dead sat in silence and blackness, lulled by the gentle rock of the ship as it drifted. It could be that the entirety of this world was like this - a wide expanse of nothing, and nowhere, with no one to conquer and nothing to collect. It pressed on her; the threat of nothing was somehow claustrophobic and she fought the urge to cast her Will out in search of something -- anything. Her breath slipped over her lips, past the twin strips painted down her chin, like the last gasp of the fallen and she stared at the horizon as if the land could be forced to emerge. Moments passed, marked by the steady sound of her fiddling with the hammered metal ring wrapped around her thumb. When the light appeared, the tension that had crept across her frame fell like the distant waves, and her eyes angled up toward the stars. "I thought we were trapped in nowhere, for a minute," she spoke, her words on the exhale, thrown to no one in particular as her black gaze cast out across the dark blue expanse, toward the lighthouse's distant heartbeat. "What a strange place."
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