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The Alexandrian

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About The Alexandrian

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  • Location
    The Miskatonic University
  • Interests
    Mechanical Engineering; Electrical Engineering
  • Occupation
    Mechanical Engineering Undergrad

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  1. Imperfect Reunion [Anima Imperium]

    ((Post undergoing extensive editing. Please hold.))
  2. Imperfect Reunion [Anima Imperium]

    We do what is required of us to survive. When harrowed by tragedy and strife, we desperately cling to the life we know not because we are addicted to abuse and tedium broken up by fleeting bursts of bliss but because we dread the unknown. This is the primal fear that compels children to seek shelter beneath the covers of their bed spreads or run to their parents' bedside when they feel darkness closing in on them. Moreover, though life may be a trial, it is far better to live on one's knees than to die on one's feet, for after war is waged and the dust of battle settles, distinguishing right from wrong, scrutinizing that which transpired, and carrying on are exclusively the prerogatives of its survivors and their descendants. In other words, survival is all that matters, and any action, however heinous, that increases one's probability of survival and success will find justification in the annals of the drow. Personal ambitions naturally incorporate power accumulation to support one's survival and a collective's survival as evinced by the development of communities, technologies, and specialization of labor to facilitate the survival of a vast ocean of people and the privilege of the elite. Anyone who willfully ignores these maxims, that history is written by the victor and that history is a set of lies agreed upon, is mad and, like the ghost of a boy who opted to die on his feet rather than live on his knees, is sentenced to choke on his/her duplicitous tongue as his/her dreams decay from exposure to the unyielding reality of the universe. Let it not be said that Nines is the successor of Maxwell Edison or MacHeath. Nines is but a survivor, and a damn fine survivor withal. In a merciless society of assassins and despots, Nines triumphed in spite of the scandal her brother and uncle so thoughtlessly bequeathed to her. Had they known that that they risked more lives than their own, that their house's political enemies would exploit this weakness to brand the house a cabal of heretics and seize their property? The swift justice Nines doled out was one of the sole barriers to their house's erasure! Until now, Nines believed Nym was a casualty of her uncle's blasphemy, an impressionable child who was guilty of no more than parroting what he had heard as young children are wont to do. He was eight years old when Nines had slain him. He was too young to have created his own belief system. To this very second, she held that he had done no wrong. But no longer. "Yeah, yeah, I'm a bitch. Do you intend to do something about it, Captain Obvious, or are you too busy marinating in slack-jawed impotence to play?" Nines snaps at Malla, charitably granting the first of his wishes. She reciprocates his antipathy to her philosophy by sparing him unkindness in equal measure. Not once during Malla's speech does she lower her guard. Not once does she cede ground to him in exchange for unfavorable terrain. Does Nines stand idle as Malla attempts to orbit her? No, Nines matches his movements, visually tracking his center as she controls the space between them. Wherever she steps, metal pulls itself apart. Cracks in the pattern of a spider's web ripple across the floor. "You know, I didn't want to believe this was what you had become. I wanted to believe that you were better this, but I clearly misjudged you. You're no different from the rest of us; you crawl on your belly through filth like the snake you are!" At this revelation, Nines chuckles. All traces of malice are absent from her laughter. Where malice would be domiciled disappointment lingers and that disappointment quickly fades in the apparent hilarity of the situation. "You dumb bastard! Do you really think women have it easier than men? Hell no! I've had a target plastered on my keister since I was born. If you want it, you're welcome to it! My death was always incentivized; if you hadn't basically committed suicide, you would have easily outlived me because you weren't an obstacle to anyone's political aspirations! Seriously! I wasn't mother's first daughter. The matriarchy exists to serve women like me on silver platters to certifiably insane noblewomen tripping out on power and goddesses know what else! And do you know why? BECAUSE EVERY SINGLE MEMBER OF THE PANTHEON IS AN ASS! I'm a slave of the most powerful ass because I don't want to die horribly. You and your uncle were raving lunatics who endangered all of us and nearly brought about the fall of our house, and I killed you for it! Me! I'm not a priestess of Lolth, yet I'm responsible for your death! Call me a monster all you like, but if I hadn't killed you, we'd both be dead and I guarantee you that I would have been swallowed up by the fucking abyss because I am not, was not, and will never be a crazed cultist! If you despise my way of life so much, leave me be and go do something productive with your time! Read a damn book or something! Go on a wild adventure! Fuck if I care! I'm not a theologian, I'm just a gal who doesn't want to be morphed into a horrifying spider-person or stabbed a million times! I live on the surface even though I'm the most androgynous woman you'll ever see up here because I thought we might as well help ourselves to any magic or technology we can get our hands on and someone really didn't like the idea of interacting with surfacers. I'm not important! My beliefs don't matter! I like to think I'm dangerous, but I couldn't even shoot someone with a special crossbow bolt when I suspected the splash damage might hit one of my teammates!" She should strike him down! She should send him back to his punk-ass god recoiling from the knowledge that he is no more than a tool of a being as terrible as but weaker than Lolth! The kid deserved every iota of suffering Nines had inflicted upon him and then some! Maybe if Nines killed someone on the surface, people would treat her with respect instead of signing her up as their unpaid transportation-monkey and telling her to piss off when she questioned goings-on. They'd like that, wouldn't they? No, it wouldn't change anything, and it just isn't worth it. This journey has proven to be a bottomless source of headaches for Nines. She is stressed. She could use a bath and a smoke. She doesn't want to be here anymore. She doesn't matter at all. Flatly, Nines concludes. "Listen, I'll overlook whatever this was because you've given me something to think about and I, contrary to popular opinion, don't enjoy murdering people, but if you ever try to fuck with me, I'm going to hurt you so badly that you won't want to respawn or I will die in the attempt. Former blood relative or not, I don't like you and I don't trust you, and I'm not under orders to assist you. You aren't the brother I remember. You're a stranger with the same surname, and this is where we part ways." Nines, ever the very poster child of paranoia, still does not lower her guard. She waits for a cue from Malla before taking any further action.
  3. Imperfect Reunion [Anima Imperium]

    "You may be all that and a box of chocolates to a multitude of your victims, but you are not my brother." Nines scoffs without pause, the eerie red light radiating from her eyes lancing Malla's pupils as she elevates her right arm in the intervening space. Her fingers are splayed before her, and the palm of her right hand faces inward. Without the intensity-mitigating polarization of the tinted lenses of Nines's gas mask, her eyeshine and anomalous bioluminescence are unnervingly perceptible in this tenebrous environment. In her oppressive countenance, Malla will behold all aspects of their erstwhile house. Would anything but an impossible dream remain of Nines if one was to wash away her acrimony, temper her vanity, dispel her paranoia, and restore tranquility to her life? "My brother was no murderer. Was his soul free to wander this world, he would delight in the beauty of it all. He was a child as pure as they come. He would not be ruled by hatred, and if he was, I would be the object of that hatred." By the labors of her own hands, Nines had severed the thread binding Nym's soul to his body. As their Matron Mother expected, this crime was as formative as it was traumatic. From Nym's blunder, Nines learned that every action bore an associated cost, spoken or unspoken. Nym, inconsequential creature that he was, sought to unravel a spider's web and was inevitably entangled in it. He, like all drow, was not born prey; his audacious hubris was his undoing. His futile struggles attracted her to him, and she gorged herself on the delectable morsel. Nym wasn't unique, he was the first of many followers of Vhaeraun Nines cocooned and devoured. The uncle that misled him was the second. Few will admit that nature is a sadistic bitch. Just as no one blames a tiger for slaughtering a boar so too was Nines indemnified for the brutal, highly orchestrated deaths of those she hunted down in Lolth's name. In the Underdark, Nines's credibility floated atop a lake of blood. Nines was the bogeyman that dragged dissidents from their houses in the night. Oh, how they suffered! Whether a perpetrator was a child, adult, or elder made little difference to Nines. She was resourceful and ruthless, a prime candidate for the clergy had she not authored a treatise on the weaknesses of drow society relative to the former societies of those they had enslaved and presented it to her overseer. Originating with the little finger of her right hand and terminating with the thumb of her right hand, Nines meticulously wraps the digits of her right hand into a proper fist. With the index finger and thumb of her left hand, she tugs on the bottom edge of her right glove, ensuring that the black leather conforms to the contours of her hand. That done, she twists her forearm and inspects her work. "Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that you are in fact my brother. Have you forgotten that violence breeds violence? Violence is necessary at times, but by making martyrs of priestesses of Lolth, you uphold the vicious cycle that you fell prey to years ago. Often, we must work within a system to exact lasting change, much as that may pain us. The first stage of a just revolution is recognition of a need for change. The second stage of a just revolution is a radical reformation of the systems of belief previously cherished by targeted individuals. My brother would abide by that elementary principle. It is the difference, after all, between losing your finger and losing your life." As a high-ranking counterintelligence agent, Nines reported directly to the priestesses of Lolth until she was expelled. Every briefing or debriefing she had to endure was more grating than the last. If she wasn't permitted to smoke during bureaucratic events, someone would have compensated her for the wasted time with their teeth and quite possibly several of their bones. All the same, Nines had no love for murder or torture. She did no more and no less than follow orders. Nines wasn't a psychopath, she was an enforcer of the status quo. The punishments she dispensed were either prescribed by her superiors or copied from historical records she had access to. Now that she is her own master, Nines only resorts to violence when she has valid reasons to do so. Nines repeats her patented fist fabrication procedure with her left hand. As before, she starts with the little finger of her left hand and slowly transitions to the thumb of her left hand. Although the little finger of Nines's left hand is missing, she manipulates the glove as though her hand is in mint condition. "By the by, if you aren't lying through your teeth about being a follower of Vhaeraun, you ought to understand three things: that Lolth saved our ancestors from extinction, that drow females have more potential than drow males by design and all of your moaning won't change that, and that a pawn is a pawn is a pawn is a pawn. I'm not about to trade a Level 50 Lolth for a Level 5 Vhaeraun. All of our deities have their own agendas. I'll stick with the one that turn me into a drider if I don't worship her, thank you very much." While Nines has been stalling, tiny perforations and fractures have been forming in the metal flooring on which she stands. At a distance, these should be extremely difficult to spot. "Anyway, need I remind you that you identified yourself as Agony's subordinate - and a particularly low-ranking subordinate at that, and apropos of that, I must say that you convincingly look and act the part. Moreover, your treatment of the bloody queen of Orisia can only confirm my suspicions that you are not who you claim to be. You are a monster engaged in a desperate bid to humanize yourself to gain a psychological advantage before I blow you to smithereens. Unfortunately, you laid your cards on the table before the game began. I know you for what you are. I'll leave sorting out who you are to the reaper."
  4. Imperfect Reunion [Anima Imperium]

    The time for clemency and forbearance is at an end. In a matter of days, the value of the pawns Ker assembled has rapidly depreciated; only a knacker would pay the price for intractable, purblind mongrels such as these! What knew they of repercussions, these dolts who violated and thereafter groveled before a queen they had rather openly abused the hospitality of? If they underestimated this queen so much, how they must underestimate her, she whose preferences run to rhetoric and compromise in lieu of valor in arms not because she is bereft of martial prowess but because she fully comprehends the fundamental relationship between cause and effect. Never was Nines the sole master of her own fate; always was Nines subject to the petty schemes and confounding affectations of her social betters, peers, and social inferiors. She respectfully observed the customs of foreign lands and paid members of the higher castes due obeisance when she stood to profit from collaboration with them in the present or in the future. Why did she humble herself before others with such a measure of consistency when overwhelming power was at her beck and call? Why did she exhibit the telltale signs of respect, cordiality, shame, and contrition for all to see when inwardly she wished to tyrannically instruct more than three-quarters of the people she encountered to off themselves or at the very least sterilize themselves so they were removed from the breeding pool? We die alone, but we live among others. In a world where specialization is pivotal to natural operations and artificial means of production, an individual who dreams of success in all that he or she does, not unlike Nines, cannot afford to ignore the will of the collective. In a society of equals, as opposed to predator-prey interactions, communication, not physical violence, is the primary method of exerting one's influence over another. In animal populations, forms of communication could be as rudimentary as tail-flagging, changing coloration, or reorienting a creature's underside. The wondrous complexity of the human mind conferred upon humans the ability to communicate more precisely through language as well as gesture and positioning. While murderhobos and glorified murderhobos were the bread and butter of more uncivilized locales, true victory, human victory, was achieved through a conjoining of minds and the generation or modification of philosophical doctrine that will outlive its authors. Technological advances may also be categorized as true victories. With the rise of corporate entities, arguments asserting businesses can fulfill the same role, albeit with lesser effect, flourished, but such businesses would necessarily pave the way for oligarchies as they would be monopolies that straddle the line between business and government. Nines had formulated cohesive arguments with real persuasive power to underscore the credibility of this belief, but she knew for a fact such arguments would be lost on this lot. From Nines's vantage point, there are subtle yet irreconcilable differences between those of Chaotic Evil alignment and those of Chaotic Stupid alignment. Those of Chaotic Stupid alignment commit morally corrupt deeds for an emotional or illogical reason. They conveniently disregard the will of the collective as they rage against the system. Their goals are not achievable or they have no goals at all. In this case, Nines has other reasons for ascribing a Chaotic Stupid alignment to the other members of the Abbadon Triumvirate. These reasons include, but are not limited to, a patent inability to work as a team, an inability to communicate effectively, an unwillingness to plan ahead and account for the long-term ramifications of their actions, a tendency to unquestioningly obey those in leadership positions, and a preponderance of deficient decision-making processes all around. The leadership is especially guilty of this foolishness. In the confidential report Nines sent to Ker, Nines recommended that Agony and Rodan be liquidated and replaced by Lunara and Mori, individuals who seemed less prone to bouts of self-imposed beguilement of their mental faculties. She could not stress enough that Ker would be unable to build a formidable army as long as she had to deal with the fallout from Agony's capers. Nines was already preparing to do what must be done when Mal reared his ugly head, inundating her mind with memories of one of the most traumatizing experiences of her entire life, a tale of innocence lost. The task they required of her that night was far too simple. They had painted the boy and lashed him to the stone slab before they brought her to him. They worried that she would not remember where flesh and bone should be parted and what should be left untouched. The depth of the each cut was indicated by the thickness of the strokes, and the abyssal incantation was scrawled on a piece of parchment beside the implements in boldface text lest she forget them. They expected her to fuck the ritual up; they had done all but hold the blade for her. First were the eyes. She burned them out with iron orbs heated over an open brazier. He could not shut his eyes as he felt his tears evaporate - the eye speculum that propped open his eyelids saw to that. He must have felt the urge to scream, but even that instinctual response was denied him. The mask he wore both hid his identity from her and prevented his pathetic wailing from being heard. Later, Nines would learn that his tongue had been scraped off prior to the ceremony. As his eyes were reduced to a layer of gushing scar tissue and ash, an apothecary administered a concoction to keep him from slipping into shock. Never did the apothecary allow the boy to slip into unconsciousness. To prolong the torture, the boy was bandaged at intervals, stinging chemicals sealing the wounds. The whip she used was ornamented with dozens of tiny, barbed hooks. They dug into the flesh and and tore entire patches of skin from his body. When the white of his ribs was visible, another potion was administered and the cutting began. She bled him for what felt like hours. Lacerate. Cauterize. Lacerate. Cauterize. He wasn't allowed to die. His veins bulged with poison. There was a sickly green tint to his skin. In the light of the fairy fire, in front of an untold number of onlookers, she took everything from him. One by one, every sense was stolen away. It was an art. When she was done, he hanged limply from the pillar, barely alive. Surely, he wanted the pain to end. Surely, he wanted to die. She plunged a blade into his chest, the poison that filled his body emptying into a spider-shaped recess on the floor. At last, he perished. They told her she had done well. They congratulated her on her performance and whispered of her bright future. The matriarch nodded and they removed the mask. What had she done? "Hold, monster!" Nines, throwing the dictates of caution and tact to the wolves, bellows in the voice not of a villain but of the "pristine self" she hides from a cruel world. Watching this thing make a mockery of her past has breathed new life into a part of her she condemned lifetimes ago that she might survive in the unforgiving shadows of the Underdark. In an accusatory, theatrical motion, Nines, standing side-on with her back straight and the thumb of her left hand hooked behind her golden belt buckle, levels the index finger of her right hand at Mal. Surrounded by darkness and an assortment of nefarious characters, she oozes confidence and righteous fury, the very same that led to her exile for undermining the authority of the priestesses of Lolth and the very same she harnessed when she tried (and failed) to put on a show for the Orisian court. She will not allow this thing to defile the memory of her brother. To make light of the death of one child and the origin of the second's perpetual nightmare was an insult that whatever this abomination was would pay for with its very existence! "You made a fatal error when you brought my brother into this. You could have done almost anything else, and I wouldn't have bat an eye at you. I bet you would have fit right in with this batch of meatheads. But no. You, like the rest of these whelps, don't know your place, but you, unlike the rest of these whelps, made the mistake of really pissing me off." With her right hand, Nines removes her gas mask and drops it onto the floor in front of Mal. Snarling like a beast, Nines's joins the thumb of her right hand with the thumb of her left behind her belt buckle. Her wrath barely restrained, she shakes her head from side to side ever so slightly, emphasizing how grave Mal's misstep is, was, and will be. "You, my bite-sized friend, had no way of knowing that your display would elicit from me the desire to rip your limbs from your body and stuff them down your throat, so I'll be charitable with you just this once. Beg for my forgiveness, and I may choose to spare you from your inevitable demise." Nines is silent for a second. She lets her words sink in as she glowers at the abomination, her hands unmoving even though she has a wide variety of weapons well within her reach. Life is such a fragile thing, a delicate balance that one factor can so easily tip. Nines could kill everyone in the base. She could stop Rodan's heart. She could crush Lunara in the palm of her hand. She could make Agony into an acid in a redox reaction. She could blow holes in Immie and Dr. Marigold with shrapnel. She could crush Xerxes into a ball of tin foil. She could tie Gabriela's long neck in a knot that would put the boy scouts to shame. She could kill Malla without breaking a sweat (or so she thinks). Assuming that Mal can read her mind, Nines adds, "If you studied my memories at all while you were in there, you know I'm capable of much worse. You will comply or I will make you wish you were dead." ((Disclaimer: The views expressed by this character do not reflect the views of the author.))
  5. OoC I: The Abbadon Triumvirate

    My decision is unrelated to the nature of the current rp, and you have nothing to apologize for. IRL, I'm pretty much stuck in limbo, and I'm constantly reminded of it. I feel pretty darn powerless and unmotivated. At this time, I'm basically dead weight wherever drama is involved. Truthfully, I don't expect to do any better with less consequential/lighter stuff right now, but I'm going to give it a go anyway. I do, however, intend to rp with y'all under different circumstances eventually.
  6. OoC I: The Abbadon Triumvirate

    After much deliberation, I have decided to step down as a leader of this organization. Ker will leave the organization offscreen and likely will be permanently retired while Nines will depart at the conclusion of the scene I promised Afro Punk. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. I've been inactive far too frequently of late to play a role in anything this big. Moreover, I feel like my efforts on this front will be for naught. While I have confidence that this organization will prosper, it will certainly fare better without me. In the face of encroaching gloom, inspiration is a rare resource. While much of what I tried to accomplish here resulted in self-rp, I found myself struggling for direction and frustrated by factors outside of my control even when I had someone to rp with. This course of action, I think, will prove to be beneficial to all parties involved in the long run. I wish you all well and hope this won't put too much of a damper on things.
  7. OoC I: The Abbadon Triumvirate

    Forgive me for refusing to list the reasons why I've been indisposed of late. Suffice to say, I've been unnerved by grim events IRL, and to better cope with drama IRL, I chose to steer clear of it where I could. As all of the scenes I was involved in on this forum were quite heavy, as are the two characters I've spent time developing, I abstained from replying to any posts here. I apologize for the inconvenience. To be entirely honest, I have a desire to rp something lighter and more comedic for the time being. I will gladly post for players who want to continue any scenes I was in before I left, but I may attempt to diversify a tad when time permits.
  8. Automated Strife [Anima Imperium]

    Functional team dynamics are key to the success of any group endeavor. Moreover, reconnaissance, planning, and logistics are integral to military (or, more accurately, paramilitary) operations. So necessary are these components that Nines grew more and more suspicious of the outcome of the Abbadon Triumvirate's recent foray into Orisian politics as time went on. Her "comrades," you see, had seized the Black Queen of Orisia on the night of her coronation. Following a barbaric show of force on the part of Malice, the pregnant Black Queen was drugged, transformed into a titanic swan, and carried away from the island in a tub so antiquated by Nines's standards that she wouldn't set foot on it for fear of it capsizing had she the option. Truthfully, this crime was unlike any Nines had participated in previously. It was an act no fortuneteller would predict. It was a tactless, slapdash performance that should not have ended as it somehow had. While the party was waylaid by four corrupt guards in the course of their activities that fateful night, they suffered no appreciable losses, though Lunara was admittedly in poor health when all was said and done. This venture had gone far too smoothly for something that had the makings of a total disaster. There had been no formal debriefings, no formal reports had been filed, and Nines's role in the conspiracy was marginal at best, but she witnessed firsthand the hostility and chaos that tainted the interactions between the members, disturbed individuals who had trouble playing nice with each other even when nothing of value was at stake. Their lack of cooperation, communication, and forethought ought to have condemned their fantastical mission from the start, but they, against all odds, abducted a pregnant queen from her own castle without considerable difficulty. How could they have done so when the palace was on high alert minutes before? How could a swan so heavy, presumably with hollow bones, even fly? Theirs was a tale for the National Enquirer, not the history books. Nines could sense something was amiss. Royal guards and demonic armies weren't to be trifled with, after all. Someone was trying to play her like a damn fiddle. It remained to be seen whether that someone had a decent excuse or alibi. Ironically, they had risked their skins (quite literally if Malice's exhibition was indicative of Orisian hospitality) to secure a queen who couldn't hold the throne. Orisia was recovering from a bout of political instability when the queen was dragged away from her island. Had she still power to wield or had someone taken advantage of her swift exit and installed himself/herself as the de facto ruler of Orisia leaving the Abbadon Triumvirate with two useless guests? Diplomacy would have been more profitable in the long run, especially if the queen was as good-natured as the gossipmongers claimed. This was a mistake in more ways than one, and Rodan had the scars to prove it. Clearing time for an impromptu ride-along with two random lasses was asinine; Rodan deserved the damage he incurred. What a miserable trip that was. Nines was glad to be back in Terrenus; she longed to cuddle up in her own bed tucked safely beneath a blanket with a mug of piping hot cocoa and the only person in the world she could trust almost completely. Man, she would kill for a hot bath too. She had been on the road for so long, and perfume only did so much. Companionship, her own bed, a homemade meal, a hot bath: gods, she was so close to them that she couldn't get them out of her mind. Alas, she could not yet return to her office in Patia; she had need of the services of Dr. Marigold to ensure that Rodan would restore the queen to her original state. Well, were Nines to be candid, she would express that she doubted Rodan could return the queen to her original state as there are parts of her he has probably never seen and there is no way he could have memorized her every feature without an eidetic memory, but, y'know, some things are better left unsaid. Dr. Marigold could at least guarantee that Rodan won't give the queen cancer when he remakes her or whatever it is he does. When the party arrives at Dr. Marigold's lab after a long ride in a couple of wagons, Nines instructs everyone to stay put while she fetches Dr. Marigold. Presumably, she returns shortly thereafter with Dr. Marigold and likely Xerxes in tow. It is worth noting that Dr. Marigold ought to have been brought up to speed along the way. Nines will have named and described all of the characters present to Dr. Marigold and warned him about Rodan's ability to mutate people he physical contacts (she references the swan-queen and the barrel-dragon as examples) and Agony's problematic behavior (namely that he is temperamental and dangerous). Nines is complimentary when she speaks of Lunara, praising her ability to communicate, and neutral when she speaks of Immie, Gabriela, and Arashi. Nines has confidence that Dr. Marigold will make a good first impression on the party, and she opts to allow him to introduce himself to the others however he sees fit rather than presenting him to everyone as if he was a dame on the cusp of evolving into an old maid.
  9. Wings of Freedom

    Immie had the right idea. How could one person, however perceptive, hope to react to such a flurry of activity? The guards revealed that they were corrupt monstrosities and were cut down in the blink of an eye. A spear sailed dangerously close to Nines's head, so close that she could hear it whistling as it overtook her, and a brazier of hot coals was overturned. When the dust settled, Rodan had been scorched with dragonfire after which he comically dunked his noggin in the lake, mutated a dragon-girl, and incapacitated one of the four patrolmen, Arashi had breathed fire at Rodan and thereafter had been physically disabled by Rodan, Lunara had created an illusory duplicate of herself, stabbed and torched one of the vampiric servants of the Empire, and burned her arms quite severely, Agony had made a shield of himself on Lunara's behalf, subdued the Black Queen of Orisia, impaled one of the vampiric guards thrice, and hurled a spear at and snuffed out the fourth mook, Immie had swooned, and Nines... Nines just stood there like a dullard, not doing very much of anything. She was peeved more than anything; she crossed her arms as the guards declared they were evil bastards and mucked up her plan. Everyone else had an outlet for the piss and vinegar they were filled with. All of the other members of the Abbadon Triumvirate (Nines notes that these members need a catchier name) who were present caved someone's skull in, but Agony stole her bloody kill. Damn. Immie and Rodan were playing along, but the shitty cops had to spoil Nines's fun. Fan-freaking-tastic. The Empire's standards were so low (practically nonexistent) that he clearly let any Tom, Dick, or Harry with two or more thumbs and legs keep the peace in his name. Godsdamn it all. Agony, the blob who just grew bored of cuddling the unconscious queen, even tried to scare Nines or taunt her by lobbing a spear so close to her that it would have grazed her had she leaned to the side. Now, everyone was being all nice and cooperative. Miss Nines, would you place a cube of sugar in my teacup? Mister Agony, would you be a dear and fetch my butterknife for me? Yeah, of course everyone else is in a good mood now. Normal people bond over conversations about significant events in their lives, but these maniacs bond by executing people in new and innovative ways. This debacle had to have had a profoundly positive influence on their relationships. As always, she, the drow who was so dissatisfied with the coronation that she contemplated thrashing one of the guards right then and there, was the odd one out. *Sigh.* The uniforms were half-destroyed as well. What is the point of even trying anymore? In a world where people solve the majority of their problems through violence, there is no room for clever diplomatic maneuvers like blackmail or bribery. In a sane world, those guards would have been bamboozled. In a sane world, they would have attempted to take her into custody, question her, or leave her be because she was so vocal in her desire to report them to their superiors. The people who resided on this island were insane. Insanity was the best explanation for the events that occurred at the coronation. Insanity was the best explanation for the behavior of the guardsmen. Insanity fit the other members of the Abbadon Triumvirate to a tee. Everything is wrong. Half of the things people think they know are lies. All of the gods are vulnerable and will one day perish or go mad. There's no point to any of this. Really, there isn't. Kidnapping a queen who couldn't keep hold of the throne was a mistake. Violating one man's and two women's bodies was a mistake. Coming to this island with the aim of assisting these lunatics was a mistake. Strangers would take over her cabin. They would cover themselves in her clothes and avail themselves of her belongings. These creatures hadn't respected her enough to notify her of their schemes, and these same creatures would snatch her accommodations out from under her and invite disaster to have its way with her business prospects. She wanted to say she wouldn't have any part of it. She wanted to say they had made their beds and now they could sleep in them. She wanted everyone and everything to get the hell away from her. The sooner they were away from this miserable island, the sooner they would leave her alone. This night was hellish, and Nines couldn't wait for it to end. She was literally powerless here. Again and again and again she tried and she failed. At the coronation, she was a poor excuse for a jester, and now, now she was simply useless. Damn it all. In a small voice, Nines answers Rodan. She stares at the ground in front of her, but her words reach him nonetheless. With her face hidden beneath her gas mask, it is impossible to see how upset she is. The chanters heard the screaming. They are silent; others are coming. Put the queen in a cage. Heal Lunara. Don the armor. Do what you will with the dragon-thing, I don't care. Follow me to my ship. If someone stops you, tell them the dragon and the swan are infectious and that your orders are to quarantine everyone on my ship because that's the ship they arrived in. Or don't. I'm not doing well tonight. With my success rate, you'd be better off doing the exact opposite of what I suggest. That is all Nines utters before she begins to leave the party and Orisia behind. If all goes well, that is all Nines will utter for the remainder of the night, aside from a brief command to one of the night watchmen of the merchant galleon she is currently in possession of. She enters the galleon's captain's quarters, snags a bag labeled "Emergency," two packs of cigarette lookalikes, a thick tarp, and two books before ceding the room and most of her items to whoever claims them. That done, she ascends the rigging, evicts one of the sailors from his perch, and secures her tarp over the top of the crow's nest. Twenty minutes later, the galleon will depart whether or not the rest of the party has boarded. Unless Nines is disturbed, she will not descend from the crow's nest until the voyage is over.
  10. The Anima Imperium

    The trip from the construction site to the stockpile is not at all arduous. The terrain is easy enough to traverse, and the trio (assuming Xerxes tags along) ought to be unopposed as they hike through the scenic land. On foot, it should take an estimated hour and a quarter to complete this one-way trek. All the while, the voluminous canopy of the lush forest shades Nines from the light of the morning sun. Some might depict the stroll as pleasant or applaud themselves for spending time exercising in the great outdoors, but Nines, ever the fractious dissenter, would moan that she walked this path minutes ago, that so little had changed that she was bored of it, and that no self-respecting drow would enjoy prancing around the woods like a prissy elf. Neglecting her brief interaction with Dr. Marigold, Nines will have spent the last two and a half hours moving through the forest when they finally reach their destination, stacks of color-coded 48-foot intermodal shipping containers enclosed by a perimeter of razor-sharp concertina wire. While the shipping containers are stacked three boxes high, any oversized products Dr. Marigold ordered are stored on the ground. Plastic, blue tarps have been placed between the soil and the oversized products that should be shielded from the elements. A squad of Anitant and Pavlavovich Warehousing (APW) regulars are patrolling the area. These guards are armed with a steel side-sword and a yew crossbow but wear a crimson doublet, breeches, polished black boots, a waterproof black tricorne, and, in bad weather, a waterproof white cloak. The presence of APW security personnel links APW to Dr. Marigold's operations, hinting at the location of the Abbadon Triumvirate's main base. Not counting APW's troop transports, armored horse-drawn freight wagons outfitted with swivel polybolos, and mobile living quarters, plain but functional vardos (kite wagons) stamped with the company logo, there are no delivery vehicles in sight. From the absence of an APW quality assurance team, Dr. Marigold might deduce that quality assurance teams inspected the goods before they were transported to the stockpile and that Nines personally oversaw the delivery of the goods, verifying that the containers and objects received matched the records she acquired from the quality assurance teams and Dr. Marigold's order, and checked the objects and containers, especially fragile items and containers holding fragile items, for physical damage. The industrious woman must have either worked straight through the night to fill his order or lived here for more than a day. On the other side of the road, directly ahead of the party a small airship hovers. It is not a military craft; it is stocked with no weapons that Dr. Marigold can identify. Its crew is as small as the airship itself; there are fewer staff members than there are digits on Nines's hands. It is the luxury sailing yacht of the airship world, a well-made, private conveyance for the agents of economic powerhouses. This airship was designed to serve as a mobile negotiations platform for continents without reliable, standardized means of communication and transportation. Its sleek hull has been carved out of genuine mahogany wood, and the deck itself features laminated glass walls and a laminated glass roof, isolating the temperature-regulated interior from fickle weather patters. This permits the airship's occupants to lounge on the deck and host "open-air" parties without fear of anyone going overboard as a result of impairment, bad weather, or human error while simultaneously making the airship more aerodynamic and fuel-efficient than competing models. An elderly man in a pressed black suit with a silvery tray putters about the deck, presenting the tray, which is laden with four drinks, to an extremely animated bugbear (Guv), a kobold dressed in gaudy clothing (Trill), a bare-footed, big-boned halfling (Oswaldo), and the raddest ogre you can imagine (Xavier, your broski with a brewski). All of these individuals are attired in crisp, clean suits. The fashionista who dreamed up the kobold's suit must have been on drugs when he or she did so; the suit is a hodgepodge of color with trinkets sewn in seemingly at random. On this suit, there are silvery buttons without corresponding pockets or buttonholes, gems arranged like the petals of flowers with stems of gold and platinum, reliefs of mythical creatures, and frills and lace with no end in sight. Likewise, all of these businessmen and businesswomen, except the halfling, wear custom-fitted dress shoes, some white and some black, and socks. The kobold has set a big, yellow sunhat on top of her head. Tiny rhinestones have been glued to her muzzle. Stunningly, or perhaps disturbingly, the bugbear's nails have been recently manicured as indicated by their glossy sheen and his or her hair is impeccably groomed. Xavier, who is particularly taken with whatever happens to be hip and trendy, is sporting a pair of shutter shades and a whole slew of rings that spell out his name. The halfling is reclining in a lounge chair. When the servant gives him his drink, he reaches for it with the amazing celerity of two-and-a-half sloths. He looks to be a sedentary individual, and his skin is so pale that he could be mistaken for a vampire of some sort. Nines ushers Dr. Marigold up the gangplank. At the top, she pauses, waiting for him to open the translucent door ahead of him or let a servant open the door for him and make his first impression. If he has any questions about the peculiar assortment of characters he shall soon meet now that he has seen them, this would be the time to ask. While Nines hasn't said much in the last hour, she gives Dr. Marigold a thumbs up to encourage him to get in there and introduce himself. It isn't like the salespeople are discussing anything super interesting right now anyway. Guv is talking about purchasing 2,000 units of something or other at a sensational price because the thingamabobs were cursed. Eavesdropping on the conversation from this location is challenging, so there isn't much of an appeal to delaying on the gangplank for a long period of time. Attitudes: Xavier: Neutral; Feeling Cool with a Light Buzz | Oswaldo: Neutral; Warm | Trill: Neutral; Fancy | Guv: Slightly More Than Neutral; Enthusiastic | Nines: Friendly; Forever Annoyed
  11. Sup bro

    1. The Alexandrian

      The Alexandrian

      How are you?  Profs eased up, I hope.

    2. Afro Punk

      Afro Punk

      I'm on hols right now. Come on steam sometime, let's chat.

      I'm revamping Ash'eh, it's now known as Yikashima. Been updating the lore for a few days now, I went with tags instead of a subboard.

      I've also deleted most of my charries, I'm starting from scratch. Don't worry, Malediction is still a thing.

      Hey, how about RPing their long-lost reunion, Nines and Mal?

      Oh, and follow me back, will ya?

  12. The factions are coming OOC

    I shall post within the next few hours. My apologies for the delay. In the future, feel free to gm Nines if I'm dragging my feet or describe a construction montage or something to keep things moving. I am curious about the methods people are employing to develop their claims. Are players primarily hosting combat-oriented quests or is there more of a focus on political intrigue, discovery, resource creation/exploitation, and the creation of a distinctive cultural identity? Are there any trends people have observed?
  13. Wings of Freedom

    Blimey, this mission is fubar! Well, it might not be fubar yet, but it was approaching fubar at warp speed. Not five minutes had elapsed since Nines clocked in and each and every part of this mission, which Nines has only just learned of, is already scuppered. Agony is welcome to hoard whatever charred scraps of wreckage he can salvage; Nines wouldn't know what to do with something so... broken? Was the mission irreparable? Honestly, Nines couldn't tell what was transpiring at this time. She had aimed her crossbow at no less than nine entities within the last minute or so. Of those entities, only four were not entitled to a face full of twice-prepped chemical damage served up by Nines's compact pistol-crossbow (one prep was amassed by readying the crossbow itself and the second prep was amassed by loading the crossbow with a Caesium bolt), and of those four, only two had not earned, with their unreasonable conduct, some degree of reprisal for staking it all on a hand they couldn't win. At the origin of the exchange, Nines was appeased by Immie's eagerness to cooperate with her. While Nines did point her crossbow at Immie, she amended her judgement in the next second, removing Immie from the list of potential targets she curates. Nines would opine that Immie's support could very well demarcate a paradigm shift in cultural relations between surface elves and the drow! An cambion elf and a drow miraculously, as if through some contrivance of the gods, agreed on a course of action! This level of tolerance, to the extent that Nines, who had never encountered a surface elf before, was informed, was unprecedented in the history of the two races from the instant they diverged onward with extraordinarily rare exceptions! Astoundingly, that was but the start of Immie's earnest bid; she then volunteered to seduce guards to further the cause! The sultry redhead blushed, her ruddy cheeks and her signature blend of adventurousness and modesty winning the drow over in a heartbeat! What a woman! How could a drow, a female drow at that, conclude that a surface elf could be attractive! Immie was conniving and sociable, or, at the very least, had presented herself as such. Nines inwardly admired these qualities as she repositioned herself so she was crouching between Agony and Immie (with her back to the lake) and lauded the merits of Immie's proposition. "If I'd strip for you, I bet the guards would too." Nines's spotlights descend from Immie's eyes to a spot just below her neckline before she is fully cognizant of the sentiments she just expressed and the territory she is accidentally ogling. She recovers as fast as she can, tacking a disclaimer onto her original statement. "I-if I was a dude, y'know. What I mean to say is that I think it's a splendid plan. Let's go test - " Nines's voice trails off as the plucky queen launches a vicious attack on Agony, honking and hissing at him in an impressive display of aggression. Perhaps the acclaimed Black Queen of Orisia wasn't as mild-mannered as her subjects would have the world believe. Nines had to concede that there was an otherworldly grace to her motions even when she was in the form of a swan duck assaulting an eldritch (?) ooze in plate armor. She regally gave Agony what for and then some, seemingly squishing him against the ground. Of course, the possibility that Agony would be vanquished by a physical attack was virtually nil. Nines had no reason to assist him; he didn't seem perturbed by Gabriela's resolution to wail on him. This could be the equivalent of a massage for Agony. Nines's respect for Agony had deteriorated a little as he mouthed off to and efficiently alienated all of his comrades. The amorphous blob had nerve, of that Nines was certain. His bilious outburst reminded Nines of the tantrums her siblings used to throw. They were childish diversions, these fits, and they had obviously set off his closest ally. For all of his physical and supernatural advantages, Agony's inability to relate to others would be his downfall. One day, he'd piss off something more powerful than he and that thing would swat him like a pesky wasp. Nines would not correct him. Agony was not her slave. He was a grown ooze or blob or pudding or something and he could undermine himself as much as he wished. If he ever endangered her directly, on the other hand, Nines would be forced to attempt to accelerate the process. Nines's conscience was severely atrophied, so she'd probably sleep like a baby the following night - assuming victory was hers, that is (at this stage, it probably wouldn't be, and she knew it). Though Agony was abrasive in his treatment of his accomplices their accessories, Agony was outlandishly forbearing in his treatment of the rancorous queen - until he decided to devour her in full view of everyone. What. The. Actual. No. A million times no. The Abbadon Triumvirate wouldn't be known for such transgressions! Transforming the pregnant queen into a swan duck was one thing, but Agony - No! Not if Nines has anything to say about it! Not on her watch! Nines's crossbow is loaded and the strong base that the violent reaction between the refined pellet of Caesium immersed in mineral oil and any water that came into contact with it would yield should damage Agony enough that he'll release the swan duck, but she can't take the shot! The queen would suffer collateral damage were the bolt to hit its mark, and Nines could strike her unborn child or duckling or whatever if the queen began to flail as Nines anticipated. Nines could not access her magic - La'Ruta made sure of that. Nines takes a step away from Agony, failing to execute her contingency plan and feeling the distinctive urge to turn tail, grab Lunara and Immie, and employ her family's secret technique. Running away is the best way to survive a battle that one cannot win or distance oneself from a limitless source of nightmare fuel, and it is exactly what Nines's ice picks and crampons are for! Wait! Lunara worked with Agony on a daily basis! If anyone could calm him, she - SHE'S IN STRIKING RANGE AND SHE'S TAUNTING THE UNSTABLE PSYCHIC BLOB! *Points crossbow at Agony.* Take the shot! *Takes another step away from Agony.* No, can't take the shot. Can't not take the shot. *Steps back again.* Two. That's two Agony might consume. Gods, she shouldn't have procrastinated. She should have taken the shot. Maybe she still could. Maybe Rodan could piece Lunara and Gabriela back together. He - He is grappling with the dragon-girl. Oh no. They'd be dead before he could reach them. Nines couldn't shoot Arashi either. She couldn't shoot anyone. She was cut off from her magic. Okay. Stay calm. Nines, calm down. Nines get a hold of yourself! Maybe... Maybe one grenade... Nines fumbles for a metal canister on her duty belt. “Poachers! Put down your weapons and surrender immediately!” YIPES! Nines, frantic with worry, searches for an escape route. She's shaking like Galloping Gertie, the stress of everything blowing up in her face ravaging her mind and body. Four guards closing in on a fairy, a biomancer wrestling with a dragon-girl, a dragon-girl who would be no more than one of his piece of jewelry in his collection if the day was his and a biomancer who would be no more than a mangled corpse if the day was hers, a swan duck queen smacking the tar out of a blob before being eaten by the egocentric ooze or blob or pudding or something, and, in the middle of it all, two helpless elves, one of whom planted herself in front of the other as if she could hope to defend her with hands that could barely hold a crossbow, let alone aim one. They were hemmed in. They could try to swim for it, but Nines couldn't swim faster than an arrow could travel... The earth quaked. A tremor struck the city as Gabriela cast her spell. Nines's uneasy laughter sliced through the muggy air. The queen herself had brought her defenders down to Nines's level. The archer couldn't shoot straight. The footmen fought to maintain their balance. Nines was crouching. She had a more stable firing position than the guards from the get-go. The moisture content in the air guaranteed that the caesium in her bolt would be as hazardous to their health as it could be. The queen had given Nines the advantage, and Nines would be remiss to let that kindness go to waste. She would also damage the armor if she fired her crossbow at the guards. Caesium hydroxide could dissolve glass; the disguises these men wore would no longer be viable if her bolt hit its mark. New plan: pedigree them to death. Nines was someone once. How hard could this be? Nines is nervous all right, but that could help her sell her character. Nines lowers her crossbow, stands up, and points at the guardsmen as if accusing them of a particularly heinous crime. Throughout her speech, she gesticulates wildly, appearing outrageously pompous and outright ridiculous at the same time in her best impression of an affluent eccentric. "Yes, surprise a Gaian specialist why don't ya. That's smart. Look at what you made me do! Earlier tonight, you bigots wouldn't even let me into your damn party. Me! The drow ambassador! Then, two attempts are made on my life, so I try to skip town with one of the elven ambassadors aides and the fairy ambassador because, for the first time in thousands of years, our people are speaking again, but I can't leave because your stupid guard claims the queen is missing, and I find a pudding with the armor of one of your guards stuck in it eating a duck on the shore of your lake and you have the audacity, the gall, the balls to call me, me, Ruvallah Rav'naggaath, second scion of Matriarch Rav'naggaath of House Thal'krotr, inheritor of the fifth elemental flame, a poacher! We-he-hell, if you want your duck so badly, kindly disentangle it from the pudding that poses an imminent threat to me and my associate and take your leave. I won't have a third attempt made on my life in your fair city, thank you very much, so take your duck and locate your queen within the next hour or I'll have your jobs, you cretins! What are you called? Move! I want to get back onto my vessel where I can defend myself properly before I bleed out and your filthy nobles lick my blood off of the pavement with their raspy, dog-like tongues!" "No! I've had about enough of this treatment! First, you won't let me enter your ball due to the color of my skin, and now, you treat me and the elven ambassador like petty thieves, like common ruffians, like unscrupulous ne'er-do-wells! I won't stand for it! Where are your superiors! My darlings and I are taking our leave of this island now! What are your names? I will report you to your superiors." "Oh, and now you've done it! Do you wish to be responsible for a diplomatic incident? Your meddling has made you privy to the reason why two attempts have been made on my life this night, and the reason why none of my guards are in sight! Are you happy with yourselves? Are you pleased with your discovery? You racists! Next thing you'll tell me is that a drow, an elf, and a fairy can't wed! Why not, I say? Why should people in love not be allowed to wed! Or are you prejudiced against us because we are all women? It can't be because there are three of us, can it? You cheeky sods! Have you no shame! Your mothers would be ashamed! I want to speak to your superiors! Don't you dare sully either of my darlings with your big, meaty mitts!" "You Orisians and your blatant sexism. I've heard that vampires or vampyres on this island collect women as if they are property to be owned. I've heard they killed the beggars who walked your streets in their mad lust for blood. Is this true? I would not permit such barbarism on my estates! No, not on one of the twelve in my possession!" Nines continues to yammer at the guards in this manner, hoping to distract them by encumbering them with more sensory garbage than they can actually process. Perhaps the nuisance she makes of herself will give someone else the opportunity to save the party from incarceration.
  14. Salvation Through Steel

    Discretion is the better part of valor. Any general worth his or her salt understood that a war is a series of battles, both physical and ideological, of varying decisiveness. When committing assets and manpower to a foreign or domestic theater, the strategic value of and the risk posed to or by an area and its contents had to be calculated with reference to the war effort as a whole. It would not do to eliminate alternatives from one's assessment of an armed conflict to stoke one's pride! A tactician pressed his or her advantage when possible but did not unconditionally disregard retreat when retreat was a valid option. Ker was a master of military tactics, military psychology, vibrational phenomenon, anatomy as it related to combat and exercise, and mounted combat. She could deliver a speech, render first aid, survive in the wilderness for protracted periods of time, read, navigate using a map, and construct rudimentary fortifications in a snap. She was no savant when it came to the fields of magitech, art, music, literature, language, medicine, economics, law, and most of the formal and natural sciences, yet the ramifications of being exposed to magical radiation for a prolonged duration did not weigh on her mind. It was the uncanny vacuity that spooked her, the hollowness of her own thoughts as she, of her own volition, strode into a realm where reality had begun to melt away. She walked into a crumbling dream, but who was the dreamer? Not the Red King, Ker hoped, for if it was not her dream but the dream of another she would "go bang" if she tarried here until the dreamer woke. If Agony hypothesized that Ker was "cowering in the shadow of [ . . . ] vast power," he could not see the forest for the trees. It was as if Agony and Ker ventured into two different cities. Where Agony beheld the beautiful architecture and uniqueness of the city, Ker saw unadorned blocks of bland wreckage left behind by an uncultured people. Where Agony ridiculed the undead that bested Telerian's military, Ker sensed a most unnatural intelligence directing their activities. The explosive undead made use of autothysis, a communal defense mechanism that was typical of certain colonies of insects, not armies of the undead, and this telepathic assault, which Ker was mildly resistant to at the onset on account of the everlasting anti-magic supplied by the chains and cuffs with which she was constrained, were characteristic of either a controller or a conjunction of planes. The worlds of the dead and the worlds of the living were connected, and one, from time to time, displaced the other due to a malignant connection. The state of Telerian was far more grave, and while Ker had successfully discerned that much, she couldn't say why. Again, Agony's experience radically differs from Ker's. Agony may have been petrified by his masochism and the chorus of voices shouting him down, but Ker is feeling just dandy. These ghosts of the past have no hold on her; she shuts them out with a whispered prayer. With an audible click, the shackles around her wrists are undone, and she is wrapped in soft white light. Her hands are clasped and her head is bowed as the brands upon her body activate, a flash of golden light on a background of white pouring through the gaps in her shining armor. All in all, Ker's second form is angelic. Her code of ethics, her valuation of religion, the high-value she placed on human life, the charity she shared with those in need, her contrition for her misdeeds - all was put into perspective by the aura emanating from her body. Were Agony to witness her, he might recall how carefully she answered Mori's query when the organization first convened. If Ker had conned them, it wasn't by lying about what she was. The sky darkened as the sun was eclipsed by dense black clouds. In a matter of seconds, the anarchic clouds whorled into a calamitous vortex. The drakes, wyverns, and dragons that inhabited the city fled to their lairs as wind raged through the streets. The city groaned. A burst of intense light heralded a terrible crack as the ruins were bombarded by the storm. The light redshifted. The ground convulsed beneath Ker's feet, seizing as wave after wave of lethal magical radiation crashed against the buildings as dark red capillaries wove through the sky. Unsheltered drakes dropped from the skies as the heart of the city lit up with searing yellow light. While Ker is staggered by the wind, she does not stay put and submissively wait to be killed by the emission. Seconds after the winged beasts dive for cover, Ker, with sharp shards of metal and glass scratching and denting her armor, abides by the example they set without question, attempting to tapping Agony to get his attention and adjuring him to "Move!" before yanking open the locked doors of a building a few yards away in the interval between the second and third gust. The office the portal led to was undoubtedly rife with the undead; the reception desk behind Ker was slathered with dark carmine "paint," and hunched figures were moving about the room behind her. Ker couldn't drag Agony with her, but she could stop the blasts of wind that nearly threw her onto her side from slamming the doors of the the safe haven shut behind her by digging her hoof boots into the ground and resisting the forces exerted on it with all of her might. Although the wind gradually pushes her backward, she holds it back for as long as she is able or until Agony is "safely" inside. "Hnngh!" Ker pointedly ignores the things in the room with her, whatever they may be. Propping the door open for any length of time requires all of the strength she can muster; she cannot both defend herself and keep the way open for Agony and thus will suffer an amount of damage proportionate to the length of time it takes for Agony to escape/be felled by the emission.
  15. Wings of Freedom

    Agony. Yes, this would be the handiwork of Mister Misanthrope, wouldn't it? Hey gang, let's kidnap the queen! No, I don't know how we'll pull it off; let's just do it. Planning? HA! Who needs planning? Let's just brute force ourselves off of the island. What, the ocean? No, that won't be a problem; if the ocean gets in our way, I'll just beat it to death. That's the correct way to solve problems! Aaaaand here everyone who listened to him was, trying to boss Nines around. Surprise, surprise. Oh, Nines, you cantankerous bint, hie us thither that we may abscond from the justice that hounds us, driving us from the streets of this fair city! Wave your magic wand and take us far, far away! No, I won't say please. I would never politely request that you rescue me from my grievous errors, errors that will cost me my hide if someone doesn't do something. Ugh! Do your job, transportation monkey! We need to leave...now, and I'm incensed that you couldn't read my mind! So rude! Rodan was little better, either standing off to the side and watching the proceedings like a lost puppy or guarding the ladies he pined to plow and thereafter mutate into sodding rings. None of them had the courtesy to inform her of their doings beforehand, and now they sought to impose themselves on her good will. At least Lunara wasn't so bad. I mean, the fairy was laughing at her, not with her, but Nines was accustomed to worse. It didn't hurt that Lunara was a pretty lass and prettier still when she was having a good time. Lunara compensated for Agony and Rodan's shortcomings. If not for Lunara and her powers of exposition, Nines would have left Agony and Rodan to their fate right then and there. For the time being, Nines contents herself with glowering at Agony as she transitions from the prone position to a crouch. Her crossbow is trained (attempted) on Agony's visor as she moves. Her breathing is slow and controlled. Her hands are steady, her pulse causing her pistol-crossbow to imperceptibly sway as she steadies herself. The real Agony wouldn't care that she's pointing a loaded weapon at him. He didn't care what she did before; why should it be any different now? A crossbow bolt won't damage him. If the threat Nines presents registers, this tin man isn't Agony and she's being played. The tension should be feigned, the flourishing desire to splatter Agony across the wall behind him should be purely imaginary, but it isn't. Nines's rage is as undeniable as as her ability. This was appropriate; she was preparing to battle Agony, after all. Nines's left hand flies from her right forearm to the quiver on her belt. She draws her gloved index finger across their shafts from the first on the right to the third from the left. Not once does Agony leave her cone of vision as she primes the bolt in her hand with a flick of her wrist, mixing the fluids trapped in a glass cylinder at the tip of the projectile. This cylinder encloses a shard of metal, though this shard is obviously shaped to neither penetrate armor nor flesh. Now the weapon posed a threat to Agony, not that Agony was Nines's target tonight. This is evinced when Nines presses the index finger of her left hand vertically against her mask's voice emitter, signaling for Agony to be quiet. Her left hand unzips and dips into one of the pockets of her trousers, withdrawing a ballpoint pen, which she pops the cap off of, and a pocket-sized notepad, which she balances on her elevated leg and scribbles on for a good minute or so. She rips one page from the notepad and hands it to Lunara. She rips a second page from the notepad, folds it up, and rubs a pinch of dirt on it for good measure. She waves this paper at Agony, stows it in one of the other zip-up pockets of her trousers, points at Agony and then at her pocket, and deposits her writing materials in her pockets once more. Lunara, who should be close enough to Nines to peer over her shoulder as she writes, may observe that the first note is a set of instructions to be delivered to a cargo ship on the docks. At the top of the document is a cryptic message: "R + 2." The second note is written in Undercommon. It is unlikely that anyone in Orisia aside from Nines can translate it. Nines glances up at Lunara. It doesn't take an empath to tell that she's less than enthused over the Triumvirate's current predicament. "I trust that you will be so kind as to deliver this to Rodan before shit hits the fan. It's the location of the vessel I disembarked from and instructions for the captain so knight-boy, the duck, and I aren't stranded at sea. The captain owes me one; he'll execute the instructions as quick as he can. I've also asked him to make Rodan and his girlfriends walk the plank if he gives the crew too much trouble. You're free to join them, but you could join Agony, the duck, and I instead. After Agony captures me, that is." Nines returns to her regularly scheduled program: glaring at Agony. While Nines's tone was almost neighborly when she conversed with Lunara, it is anything but now that she must speak with Agony. "Clip the duck's wings. I'm going to set the temple behind you on fire so guards will close in on us. You will have the privilege of fighting one of the drow rogues who infiltrated the castle and stole the queen out from under your nose. You will best me just as more guards arrive. You're going to snatch the note I just showed you from my pockets, and you're going to put the screws to me until I start talking, and I'm going to tell you off. You'll look at the message again, realize that the kidnappers are supposed to pick me up, and drag me and the duck, which I was attempting to capture for reasons unknown to you, onto a civilian ship. You'll claim that they're waiting to pick me and the duck up at [coordinates outside of La'Ruta's influence], and that they won't show themselves unless I perform the blood ritual and show up in a civilian ship." "You will be quote working me over unquote privately until we're outside of the blockade. Then, we're going to scuttle the ship and drift on a lifeboat for awhile." Nines is not pleased with this plan. The more she dwells on it, the less inclined she is to put faith in Agony's restraint and the more she wishes to murder Agony and Rodan on this very spot. She is not going to pay for their poor life choices! Besides, this scheme was convoluted as all heck. "You know what, fuck it. You've given me practically nothing to work with, and I'm not becoming a paraplegic up just so Rodan can cozy up to a bevy of busty beauties. Either they cooperate with us and help us strip more guards naked so we can steal their clothes and their orders and pretend we've been assigned to one of the ships and that the duck is our mascot because we're specialists or I burn this district to the ground and leave you to fend for yourselves. It'll be a damn sight easier just to sabotage the ships around us in the blockade than trying to run it or praying that A leads to B leads to C leads to D leads to relative safety and, as an added bonus, I get to keep all of my teeth!" "Take it or I walk or we all walk to another city and board a ship there or we wait for them to give up hope and relax their security measures and then split. This evening was rough enough without you." Nines lowers her pistol-crossbow but does not unload it. Again, she is ready for someone to attack her. Agony, Rodan, an elf, and a dragon-lady were nearby, and there were monks or something chanting in the background. Something could jump out of the lake. Hostile guards were swarming the streets. If Nines was suicidal, she'd have options!