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  1. The Beginning Of The End – A Valucre Story [Hasturian Magic Research Center, Inan Forest] Having spent the last 25 hours conducting a research on the rising levels of magic particles in the atmosphere and increasing instability of the Central Research Mana Core (CRMC), Professor Sun Lee decided it was about time she took a short time off to rest. However, things don’t always happen as planned. “Professor!” One of the researchers called out running towards her at full speed. “The mana core… It’s overheating!” The news temporarily froze the lady as she tried to process the information. That mana core was one of the world’s most powerful magical supercomputer, which contained millions of mana processing circuits. With this much processing power, it was theoretically impossible for it to ever overheat from its processing. Rushing over to the core control room, Professor Sun immediately requested for a report. “The core’s mana processing capacity is being exceeded” a researcher said, adjusting his glasses as he read over some documents. “We believe this is as a result of a reaction to a high magic emission phenomenon” “Do we have a location?” Professor Sun asked. “Not yet ma’am, but we are in the process of narrowing it down. We’ve had to forego the use of the core as it’s already at its limit.” “What about the second one?” The researcher looked stunned at the professor for a while. “It’s yet to be completed ma’am. Surely you don’t intend to put it online just yet?” “We’re short on time and options. Whatever it is that is causing this reaction, it might yet be a threat of unfathomable magnitudes. How much of it can we use without crossing into the high risk margin” “We’ll need it to run at 31% power to avoid any complications from it” “Do it. I want it online as soon as possible, and I want the source of the disturbance identified and reported to me without a moments delay” Professor Sun said before storming away to her office. This was what the beginning of what was going to go down in history as Valucre’s worst catastrophe, or as many would come to call it, The Great Collapse!
  2. Tink. Tink-tink-tink. Tink-tink. The rain pattered against the Outsider's warplate, chiming musically as it rang off the dark and polished metal. Kneeling beside a skeleton, or at least the scattered remains of one, he called back to the dry alcove he left his companion under. "It's fairly recent." He said, casting a quick glance in her direction before looking back at the bones. The rain was beating on him, a torrential downpour that buffeted in from above through the broken panes of the domed glass ceiling. Combing hair back, he studied the bones for several long, quiet minutes before he stood to his full stature in a rhythmic purr of well-maintained servos and fiber bundles. He had taken to his armour again, the dreadful fiend, and seemed less and less inclined to remove it as the weeks turned to months. An avatar of war he seemed, walking back to his companion's side beneath the archway with a horrid piece of evidence in hand. Lifting it up in a gauntlet for her scrutiny, the Outsider revealed a yellowed cracked skull, stringy with decomposed flesh and cartilage. Its mandible long since gone, he turned it over in his hands to indicate where he assumed the deathblow had been. "Look." He said, indicating indentations along the sides of the skull, where the thickest of the bone had ruptured. He fingered the edges, the metal of his gauntlet scraping. "Teeth marks. They're definitely here." They. Them. They had talked about them on the journey here from Biazo Island, after finding nothing but ghosts and hearsay in those desolate wastes. She had told him of her dreams beneath the duress of his torments, and with her dreams also the knowledge of the one who sent them. His curiosity piqued, he had done his own research and had come to an ambitious conclusion. They had departed Biazo and laid course for Terran mainland, or more specifically, the Ruins of Marlboro Keep. And he told her his plans, and what they would require. Known officially as Grotesqueries in the annals of Terran history, there existed a species or aberration of monster that haunted the lands this side of the Day River. Wretched things of undeath, they roamed the land in chittering packs to descend upon the unwary and foolish, and with most of their gruesome kills, added more bodies to their unseemly ranks. They were emotionless monsters, devoid of sense or reason, and they were to be destroyed on sight and their remains put to the flame. And they were the Outsider's own unwitting creation. Ten years ago, before the advent of wisdom and a broader control of the sorceries he employed, Roen had conjured the first of these abominations in far away Patia, and through his negligence, allowed them to flee into the wilds beyond his domain. He had never confessed this to anyone before, but made Irene Gabriela Du'Grace privy to that secret. Exhaling through his nose a superfluous sigh of satisfaction tinged with regret, the Outsider cast the skull in his hand aside where it struck the floor with a dull thud and rolled beneath a cracked and overturned table. Negligence, yes, it and inactivity marked the greater part of Roen's tenure on Valucre, and it showed more clearly here than anywhere on this world. Marlboro Keep, once a proud outpost of his fledgling empire, had been abandoned in his pursuit of other, baser desires. The knights stationed here, brave men and women all, had either deserted or been killed by the Terran empire, who he wasn't sure if he was even at war with anymore. Though truth be told, he suspected they had been attacked and overrun by Grotesqueries. Though it was too dark for Gabriela to see, human as she was, he had spotted the remains of armour in distant rooms, where doors had been smashed and torn asunder. Pitted, cracked plates of gear he recognized. There were streaks of blood in the halls, signs of pitched fighting and withdrawals. It was all too easy to piece it together. He had abandoned this place, and it had died without his guiding hand. It had died because of him in more ways than could ever be reconciled for. The thought of it made him turn his head away from Gabriela, his stern face going taut in a rictus of brief anger and grief and not a little self-loathing. Though he was a hard man and greater monster, he valued the lives of those he groomed and selected to stand by his side, and while he might not have ever expressed it, he lamented their fates and tormented himself for the part he played. But before he would let his melancholy drag him back to those depths of inactivity, he set that grief aside and steeled himself, whispering a cautionary reminder under his breath that he had come here with purpose. Extending a hand and flexing his will, the Outsider summoned Hræðilegr into his waiting fist. Immediately, the wicked blade lit up with lambent psyk-light, the runes along its flats coming to life with burning light that soon grew incandescent, then dimmed. Humming, the blade snag quietly as it cut the air, its length vibrating with an almost musical peal. He looked at Gabriela, his generous mouth pulled into a frown. "Stay close." He said. "And keep your eyes open. They'll be coming for us 'ere long." And they would be, yes. The ruins of the keep, quiet save for the echo of thunder the came from above, seemed to stir at the immediate onset of the Outsider's blade summoning. In truth, he was provoking the current occupants of the once proud citadel. With a flex of his will, he had all but announced the presence of life to them, and soon those monstrosities, whatever their number, would snuff and chase the light of his mind. No matter that he was their creator, no matter it was by his magic they had found life: they saw and knew him only as prey, and within the bowels and ruins of this castle, things of infinite predation and unreasonable hunger began to rouse from their fitful slumbers, tasting life in the air. That he should have left Gabriela behind on the Everlinde as it patrolled the sky above was a truth he was not blind to, but he had brought her here tonight to witness this turgid start, this dreadful endeavor. She was beloved and his companion besides, and he felt she must be inured to these horrors and violent delights. She was in peril, of course - there were few places more terrifying and dangerous than the haunt of Grotesqueries - but so long as she stood beside him, so long as he kept her shackled to him, she would ever be imperiled. Either here or aboard the Everlinde, Gabriela was unsafe, and so he felt it best to keep her with him at all times, where he could protect her best. She needed no weapon and possessed no armour. He was her shield in the dark and the sword at her side. A dark knight indeed, he drew her deeper into the ruined keep, where fractured moonlight and lightning lit their path, and waited for horror to find them both.
  3. It was a slightly warmer day in the temperate zone of Casper. He looks up at that point seeing the afternoon sky. The representative from Lancy Inc was a man named Delloth. Delloth looks at the old smith for a moment. "So we're clear the workshop forge you have opened here in Casper is up and running. We expect to see a lot of Rhodium revenue coming in Velindrel. You have gotten clearance." Velindrel nods. "It will be open to...individuals who need to have their equipment serviced." Delloth steps closer towards Velindrel. "We have clearance from the higher ups to operate in various shades of gray." Delloth says calmly. A short while later the shop of Velindrel powered and funded by Lancey Inc, a guild within Casper, was up and running. Velindrel begins that work week by filling weapon schematics for the local guards and militia folks of Casper. At that point in our story, Velindrel had developed quite a name for himself and wanted to become one of the most skilled engineers and smiths of that age. But all legacies started small...all legacies needed the foundation to be built on. He'd constructed the forge in Casper with Lancy Inc's blessing. He'd used a considerable amount of his own spiritual power to activate the power of the forge itself. In other words, the whole building was partially sentient. Vell takes a moment to glance at his master anvil sitting in front of the forge itself. He powers the whole building on with the spark of life. One of the greatest minds of their age... He begins to go to work. As a wind comes in from the seas near Casper, they gently rock a carefully crafted sign that reads plain as day: Open for Business. And that they were...
  4. It was during business hours again. Around 9 PM, the busiest time of night. Dia was upstairs in her usual VIP booth. Ruby was about, dressed for her task as a server. She delivered drinks quicker now, having some time on the bar gun, and plenty of nights in the club. She'd been working here several weeks now, and despite making good money and tips, she spent hardly any of it. Ratholing in secret, at this very club in a safe Dia forgot was installed as a matter of fact. Dia was expecting company again. John should definitely be showing up. Though, he probably wouldn't be thrilled to hear she didn't have his money, and that she in fact, needed more connection help. What was a girl to do anyway? Ruby came over and served Dia her 5th drink, a new freshly opened bottle Dia insisted she leave at the table. Dia was actually dreading having to talk about it. She hadn't even gotten much work, this was supposed to be a side business thing... but it was eating up so much of her time.
  5. Dollya DuGrace impersonating the Black Queen of Orisia Asha-Kwame Imani stood under the watchful gaze of the Black Queen. However, the dark-skinned woman, with slender, long, and graceful limbs, was certain that the golden eyes that beheld her in judgment, and perhaps even contempt, were not those of her beloved ruler -- of that vampyric goddess to whom she had sworn alliance. This creature was a doppelganger. This queen was an imposter. “And the repairs of the Solarium? How is it going…” asked the Black Queen -- she walked carefully across a brick-paved path that cut through a collection of tropical flora. She seemed utterly uninterested in the greenery that surrounded her, and did not stop -- as the true Black Queen usually did -- to make careful observation of the incoming orchid blooms. “Behind schedule my queen...we were able to salvage some of the rarer blooms, and so our primary objective was the creation of a facility, temporary of course, to house and protect that which was rescued. We have been playing catchup ever since your departure to Umbra. It is hard to allocate the proper funds for this particular project when so much of the city was in need...” Asha-Kwame arched an elegant brow as the Black Queen stepped over a Rothschild’s Slipper, without seeming to give even the slightest inclination that she cared that she had nearly trampled a rare and critically endangered plant. It was nearly enough to make the Dorado Plains native lose her composure. Surely it was one thing to waltz about, masquerading as her beloved queen, but something entirely different to spit and step on that which is most precious to the true queen, and that which is a boon to their entire nation. “My queen, please -- tread lightly. As you well know, these are some of the most endangered blooms in our collection. They are delicate by nature and frail due to the accident…” Dollya stopped and turned where she stood, still amidst the colorful creeping flowers. Her arms crossed over her chest and the tight, black jacket she wore pressed into her slender figure all the more. Though she had been changed, somehow, to be a more exact replica of her mother -- the subtle differences in character spoke volumes to Asha-Kwame, who lifted her chin in defiance to the imposter. “You yourself, my queen, have taught us all here that these precious blooms are to be treated with dignity and love.” “Clearly the lesson didn’t stick. There is no excuse for this…” she toed the nearest flower with the tip of her pointed-boot. “You’ve neglected your duties as the Director of the Royal Solarium. If you cannot do your job then I must find someone who can.” “I am doing my job to the best of my abilities with what resources I have…” “I don’t want to hear excuses, Asha. Get the repairs done. Get things back in order, and stop with the whining. I am here now -- there should be nothing standing in your way anymore. It is of the utmost importance that the Solarium is brought back to working order and that the more dangerous of our specimens are properly contained. We don’t want to have another incident…” The director gave a curt bow. “I understand,” was the only verba reply that Asha-Kwame gave. “Speaking of incidents...have you complied with my request yet?” “About that…” Asha-Kwame flattered then. Her agitation showed as she shifted her weight from one leg to the other. “...I was hoping that I could speak to you about it. I do not think it is a wise idea to destroy so many specimens -- to destroy any of them, actually. There is still so much we could learn--” “You were inside the Solarium during the incident, were you not?” Dollya, lacking her mother’s diplomacy and tact, interrupted the director with short words and a wave of her small, pale hand. “You lived through what happened that night -- you saw what occurred. Why are you arguing with me against destroying any potential threat that could cause us to repeat that terrible incident, why would you want to put us at greater risk now? Keeping that damn flower alive without the adequate means to entrap it, should it manifest the same powers it did on that night? The solarium is in ruins, explain to me how you mean to control such a dangerous specimen… Actually, don’t. Have the Blood Violent destroyed immediately.” Internally, Asha-Kwame was reeling with despair -- the thought of destroying the only remaining Blood Violet went against every instinct she had as a botanist, and while she could not fault this fledgling, imposter of a queen for her reasoning, she knew that it was wrong, and what was worse is that she knew the true queen would never ask for such a thing. But the true queen was gone, and Asha-Kwame had no way of knowing when she might return -- if ever. For now, survival -- for the sake of salvaging the queen’s collection -- was the only thing that mattered. And she had a feeling that the imposter was out for blood and not just the destruction of some misunderstood flowers. Dollya must have been aware of how close Asha-Kwame was with Gabriela, and so she must have assumed that the director would know her for who she truly is. That was the only reasoning that Asha-Kwame had for any of this. So she understood that her only job now was to convince the imposter that she did not know the secret. “Yes, of course you are right, my queen -- forgive me. I will have the Blood Violet, along with all other dangerous specimens, destroyed tonight.” “Good,” was Dollya’s singular reply before heading back the way she had come, totally unperturbed by the fact that she trampled underfoot a young Fairrie’s Paphiopedilum.
  6. A Dream... She was in Orisia, sitting on the washed up, water-logged trunk of some mighty but fallen tree. In her arms, wrapped in black linen, she held Philippe -- who quietly fussed and mewed, and reached up with cherub-chubby hands and fingers to try and grasp at the wayward tendrils of his mother’s hair. The serious and thoughtful pinch of her brows melted away when she peered down at him, and her golden eyes grew warm just for him as she took in the sight of his sweet little face. They shared a moment, just a shooting-star of a moment, during which they translated to each other all of the love they felt for one another as mother and child. And then the nightmare carried on as it always did. Black blood began to spill from the child's ears, and then his fussing turned to wailing, which was silenced into the sickening sounds of gurgling and choking as blood filled his throat and began to pour from his nostrils. The beautiful little face that Gabriela looked upon turned into a grisly sight, and the small body that she clung to, which struggled and fought valiantly against the forces of death, finally gave away to surrender. And as for herself in this horrible dream, she wept as she always did, and wore the same look of panic and horror -- and desperation. Until she didn’t. Until all the motherly agony she felt disappeared, and like the body of her son, which by then had turned to sand -- black sand, so unlike the rest of the golden shores of Orisia-- all of those feelings fell away, rolling off her like a million, tiny grains of sand. Of course that’s when she recalled that this was a dream, and not just any dream, but a recurring dream. She had been here at least a dozen times before, sitting on the same tree, looking out over the same beach, contemplating the same happiness and hope before it was snatched away. And while all of the pain felt fresh and raw, in her heart she knew it was not. This was not the first time she had seen love turned to violent death. But it was just a dream, she told herself as a means of comfort. Philippe had never breathed a breath, he had never cried a single cry -- she had never felt the strain of his movements from the outside of her body. He had only ever lived inside of her where it was warm and safe, where he had known nothing but love. There was comfort in that. Now the second part of the dream, the part that was no dream… She pulled the black linen, where her son had rested, into her chest and held it there. It was still wet from his blood, and it held on to his sweet smell. “Where are you?” she asked aloud, into the twilight of her dreams, but no answer came -- not even an inkling of his presence. The man in her dreams, the creature of resolve and power, he was not here anymore. Before, she had always sensed his presence, for he had been as a spectator, watching the horrors of her worst nightmare unfold. And without judgment, he would appear to converse with her. He had never offered advice and he had never offered condemnation. The only thing he came to offer was an unspoken sense of understanding, a resolute promise of hope. But it was gone now, just as he was gone, just as this had become nothing more than a dream. The connection was severed, and this she found to be more painful than made-up performance her mind had conjured of her child’s passing. And it was not the stranger that she missed, or his company that she mourned for, as she sat there with a frown, fighting back the urge to cry. It was for the loss of hope and the rising ties of despair that manifested themselves as the turbulent waves in the distance, which were drawing near. She abandoned the burial shrouds of her child, dropping the black fabric to the ground, and stood up to watch the oncoming tide. It was a violent sort of work, the water moving in so fast and wild that one crest from a wave crashed against another, rising higher and higher, until she could not see the sky. It was all of her anxiety, all of her fear, all of her doubt -- it was the sum of her darkness that came to claim her soul, her body, and her mind. Surely, it was madness and death, and the end of all her hopes for the world. “Why have you forsaken me…” ~*~ She didn’t so much awake as she was struck by that massive wall of black water and was then thrown into a violent current that twisted and turned her body and threatened to tear her apart. At some point she crossed the border between consciousness and unconsciousness, and she felt the burning in her lungs and the dying of her limbs, and she felt the cold and horrible fear that came when one stands upon a precipice and stares down and finds there to be nothing but death awaiting. But all of her body hurt, and she could not fight to live even when death was a terrifying concept. That’s when she felt what she could only describe, or understand, as two powerful hands grabbed her from under the arms and threw her forward -- literally propelling her through the water and past its surface, until she landed roughly upon a muddy embankment. For a time she lay there, pasted down by the weight of a cloak that was soaked through with water. She was too weak to peel herself out from under it, and even the wet earth underneath her kept her set in place. So she just lay there, breathing soft and slow, with her cheek to the mud and her eyes closed. She did not question any of it -- not where she was, not what had happened, not the dream, not the reality. All that mattered was the fact that she was alive. But in time, and not much time at all, the cold did stir her eventually, for it was unbearable and she was naked under the sloping mess of cloak and badly hurt as well. Somehow, she managed to pluck herself from the muck and mire, and sat up halfway, so that she could better see her surroundings. It was daylight but the sunshine offered her no warmth. She was in shallow water, where tall grass grew in patches of overly moistened earth. Walking seemed impossible without sinking into the mud. And it was only now that she failed to see a clear horizon or indication of shore, and then the aches and pains of her body began to mount to near excruciating levels, that the panic began to prickle along the back of her skull. Why was she here? Where was here? Moments ago he had been in the soft and supple sheets of her bed, surrounded by pillows, and sinking into plush and expensive, feather comforters. She had been mostly drunk and even a little high, and she had been contemplating the possibility of inviting Saul into her bed -- of ending the recession of her pleasure, since there were so few days of her life left. And he had been there, Saul, and he had seemed so receptive to it all. He had been so gentle, and so courteous with her. But where was he now? Where was her room and the train? Where were her fine pillows and comforters -- her four post bed, her strong liquor, her good drugs? Where was the life she had pretended to want and the plans she had carefully planned? The panic grew deafening in her ears, but it was only the sound of her own heartbeat thundering away as she tried to stand up. “S...sa...sau…” her voice was broken -- it was literally broken. She tasted blood when she tried to call out. There were bruises around her neck as if someone had tried to strangle the life out of her, but of course she couldn’t see them. But she sure could feel them. Especially at the center of her throat, right above her collar bone, there she felt the most pain, the awful tear. It burned there when she tried to scream, or cry out, and mostly when she swallowed back the taste of blood. “Saul….Saul…” It was the only name on her lips -- it was the last person she remembered being with.
  7. Just like they did when they finished their manor on the Ursa Madean island of Corinth, Thurgood and Aveline Singlance are throwing a housewarming party. Also like the last time, this party is not exclusive: everybody is welcome. There are three entrances: the garage, the back door on the porch, and the front door in about the middle of the non-garage portion of the house, to the left of the garage when looking at the front. However, only one is in service during the party: the front door. Just inside the front door, there is a small foyer with a wooden bench to the left against the wall, and a coat closet just to the right. Behind the bench is the staircase up to the second floor. The door right past the top is to the shared master bathroom, with three of the six guest bedrooms further left down the hall. An open section leads to one master bedroom, with a basic banister following from the stairs. Back on the first story, the wooden floor in the foyer continues to form a path to the kitchen that has an island and a "breakfast" bar. To the left are the dining and living room, separated by the line between the carpet and woden floor, and some wall between the kitchen and living room. In the living room are two couches, one an "L" shaped sectional, and two recliners, all facing the 60-inch LCD TV and audio equipment in a simple wooden cabinet, with two larger speakers on either side, and smaller speakers around the living room (and an amplified subwoofer under each couch, on the same channel). On either side of the TV are an AV receiver, a CD\optical video disc changer\player, a phonograph, and at least one video game console. There is also a pop fountain with 12 flavors of pop, all from the Damn Good Craft Soda Company: cherry, mango, orange cream, apple, strawberry, banana, jackfruit, cola, root beer, creme, lemon-lime cherry kick (Thurgood wanted Tyler Delp to remake Mountain Dew Code Red, but he agrees with Tyler that this is better), and gha'zhu. Thurgood pulls some pork from the barbecue pit on the covered portion of the back porch (of course there would be a barbecue pit), and brings it inside, sliding the back door closed with his right foot on the way. Aveline plugs in an electric beater to simultaneously mash and mix the potatoes she's been boiling with pleny of butter, mayonnaise, and a bit of salt while a gravy made from the barbecue drippings and liquefied fat simmers down on the electric stove, with cornbread in the oven, both waiting for guests to arrive.
  8. *Free ball writing an open topic to get my head back in the rp game. It's been a hot second. Take it where you want. Here's the breakdown: Location: Le Tueur Hotel in Cicero Theme: Holiday party hosted by a crime family, so all the crime things. Goal: Chaos, intrigue, murder?! Whatever your 20's heart desires. Let's party. Heavy panting echoed in an otherwise silent, dark stretch of corridor. Hollow and quick, the sound was female. It came in waves… loud and uninhibited as she sprinted along the wall’s edge and then completely muffled when she came to rest by squeezing into a crevice, meant to serve decorative, architectural purposes, just wide enough to fit her body. She pressed herself into the space and covered her mouth. Within moments it was moist with tears that flowed freely down each cheek and pooled along the length of her index finger before spilling over the back of her hand. She was scared, nervous—alone. In such a setting, it was the least anyone expected. Had the hallway had more illumination, the iridescence of ivory wallpaper and deep burgundy carpeting would have made anyone feel welcome. The small tables with large, potted flowers over gold tablecloths would have even brought a smile to face. That was the purpose of the lavish décor after all, to create a desire to be there. It was an upscale Cicero hotel with the sole purpose of hosting events. This night, Nelina’s parents’ holiday party was full to capacity and brimming with laughter and music but was barely audible two stories below where the girl stood shaking in the hallway, begging silently to not be found. Beneath the hotel’s festivities, silk fabric of a cocktail dress rustled against all attempts to keep it still, and muffled cries still plagued the dead air around it. Another sound was introduced moments later. Focused, slow footsteps began in the girl’s direction—the kind one could hear have purpose before the owner or his business was ever made known. The shadow of figure denoted that of a male, dressed appropriately for a formal event. Slacks and button up were pressed, and dress shoes shined in what little light the hallway offered. His movements where precise, dedicated to his purpose—the only purpose within the abandoned corridor—finding her. It did not take long for the girl to notice the new sound. Between her sobs, a step or two, and she froze. Her hand tightened over her mouth until knuckles whitened with the pressure. She practically suffocated herself to remain silent, and still, the steps came closer. Two more steps and she squeezed her eyes shut. It did not matter that they were in the dark, she did not want to see the choice she had so carelessly made hours before. A step, and another… “Nel…” His voice was a sweet melody, serenading anyone who listened. The way he called to her should have displaced her fear entirely. If not his voice then the firm, gentle hand that reached out to gently pull her own away from her mouth—a motion that made her sobs and shaking completely irrational. All demeanor signified comfort save for the man’s free hand rested on the pistol tucked into his waistband ready to be set free. It was hard to say if the gun was meant for her. Cicero had become dirty. Everyone played filthy. Stick, bang, move was all it would take before another daughter of crime was sent straight to hell before her daddy. Another war flag raised. Who leaves the daughter of the syndicate alone to her own devices? The man’s hand moved from Nel’s fingertips to her wrist with swift precision before tightening and tugging. “Come now, little lady. Can’t miss the boss’s speech! He gave me orders to keep you in sight. What were you hiding from? Potential beaus out to get ya!?" The man smirked as he returned his charge to the festivities. Nel's eyes darted around the empty hall as she calmed herself. "You run around like this Nel, you’re bound to get into trouble yo daddy can’t save you from. Back to the party.” "Sorry, Cal... I thought-- I don't know. I thought you were someone else."
  9. Gabriela sat in the sun. She felt like she was baking in it. The heat was like a heavy blanket -- comforting and penetrating. Maybe it was the bitter chill in the air or just the fact that the only coat she managed to grab before leaving the airship was some thin little thing that wasn’t at all equipped for the harsh conditions of the city, and the landscape beyond, but for whatever reason, sitting there on that long, metal bench, soaking in the direct light of the sun felt like absolute heaven. This was a colossal city. Blairville. A good place to make her escape. Golden eyes shifted upward to see the massive metal bodies that floated in the sky, far above her head. It was an airship port, and there were hundreds of those mechanical monstrosities ebbing to and fro in something akin to repose. Somewhere, up there, was her marvel of modern mechanics. The airship had been gifted to her by the High Lord Ryzerus, but had then been promptly commandeered by a vile fiend. Now it was in his control forever more, and things were complicated that much more because of it. But the theft of her birthday gift was an echo of so many of the other transgressions done against her person. Any and every pretty thing in her possession was often taken, and often broken by those who were stronger and more powerful. Even this escape was just a thinly veiled dismissal after the fiend had grown bored of her company, as he often did. Her escape was nothing more than rejection now that her ability to entertain had waned. It was as simple as waking up one day to find the door that had always been locked suddenly left unlocked, and in fact, wide open. No clearer invitation for her expulsion could be made, and she did not need any further explanation. So she grabbed what she could, which consisted of only the clothing on her body, and she took off before his tumultuous mind could change. An ill fitting pair of jeans, worn nearly bare at the knees, a white shirt, a gray, finely-knitted sweater, and a thin, long, wool jacket. It would have been warm enough for the winters in Orisia, perhaps even a little much. But it wasn’t going to be enough for the freezing nights of the North in Terrenus. And she hadn’t a cent to her name -- she didn’t even know the formal form of currency in this particular part of the continent. And yet she did not feel panic. For now the sun was shining and through the crisp and cold air, it warmed her directly. And although she was hungry and thirsty, neither was so great a need that she was anxious for drink or food. She wanted to take a moment to feel normal, as if she were strolling the streets of this gargantuan city, site-seeing perhaps, and had simply grown tired. Here, she had stopped to take a rest and so had found a seat to enjoy the sights and sounds of the airships flying in and out of the port. In many ways, it was like graceful ships with their elegant sails that floated along the turquoise waters of the Atitlan Lake, swaying just feet away from golden shores -- and in many ways it was nothing like that beautiful and peaceful world. Gabriela crossed her arms because she was cold and she crossed her legs, one knee over the other. She leaned back in her seat and curved her back along the shape of the bench until her head was tilted back and the sun was hitting her chin and her exposed throat. The heat felt familiar, but so much softer and kinder. “I could sit here forever,” she said out loud to herself, “I could die here.”
  10. The Unbroken Sky The architecture in Mageside reflected its motto- everything in the city strived for greatness; this establishment - the Unbroken Sky - was no different. Enormous, golden, arched ceilings bowed high overhead, sprinkling the upper field of the patron's vision with a colorful mosaic array that danced and threw vivid ghosts in the underlighting of magical sconces mounted on the walls. Here, aided by a climate that made open-air gathering pleasant year-round, the Unbroken Sky had elevated eating and socializing to an art form. Sandstone arches delicately traced the edge of the establishment's single main room like lace loops fringing a tablecloth. The main area was one colossal ovoid, spanning several hundred feet in every direction and filled with a mixed array of long, dark wood tables and smaller circular ones, topped with richly embroidered runners or clothes colored in unapologetically bright hues, and pinned in place with polished wooden bowls of fruit. It was a lively, social eating area meant for gathering, for flitting amongst tables like bees amongst flowers, meeting this one and that one with child-like curiosity. There were no strangers, here - just people one hadn't met yet - and it wasn't at all uncommon for new faces to arrive and depart with little fanfare, for the old and the young to mingle, and the rich and the poor to share bread. With no traditional bar, servers simply wandered the floor, carrying drinks and taking orders from patrons who met their gaze, or lifted their hands, or performed any of the myriad of social cues one used. Food and drink were communal; small spiced breads breads dusted with garlic and rosemary, palm-sized cups of spiced oils, piles of sliced meat and fruit, and cups of a shimmering, semi-translucent liquor were the only fare on offer, but everything was fresh, delicious, and fast out of the kitchen. The air danced with a complex set of harmonics that floated hypnotically into the open-air gathering area. Wandering musicians each contributed their individual perfection: the ting of the zil, the exotic pluck of a kanun, all supported with the steady, rhythmic, percussive demands thrummed from a pair of daire and daf. On their own, each singular instrument was mesmerizing, exotic and beautiful, but when they joined with the others the notes tickled the air in trance-inducing perfection.
  11. (OOC: For @obsdian1! Feel free to msg @AthenasFire though if you'd like to join him before it is over!) Deep in a forest near some farms a howl can be heard as several packs of dire wolves roam the floor of the forest in search of food. They have been terrorizing the local farms for a while now as every person sent to rid the area of them has failed in either inability or simply no desire to continue. On nights like tonight when the moon is gone they come sprinting from the forest and leap the fences keeping the helpless animals inside defenseless and unable to escape their vicious hunt. Their hunger for the animals never seeming quite sated until they manage to wipe a decent chunk of them out. The locals fear that soon they won't have enough left to continue operating their farms. It's already becoming difficulty to keep their families fed, let alone the rest of the village! In a desperate last attempt they sent fliers out to call for adventures to the tavern!
  12. In the middle of the night on the island, in the blackness between two rocks on the beach, a male form took shape and was ejected from the Shade. He man was thrown back, out from the Umbra, and landed on his back, on the beach. The wind was knocked out of him--he couldn't breathe. Clawed hands grasped at sand. Brick-red eyes searched his immediate surroundings from behind wires of chin-length black hair. The being turned over onto his stomach, sandying up his unbuttoned grey button-up shirt and the bright red A-shirt worn under it along with the black carpenter jeans. Black high-top CT's found the beach of sand under him finally as his breath started to come back to him. This beach...didn't look familiar. He had no idea where he was. Fantastic. "Well, I guess that's what happens when you Shadestep without...actually...knowing...how to do it." He rolled his eyes at his own moment of stupidity, shaking his head out of annoyance. Then he saw the castle in the distance. Then again, there was another possible explanation. His eyes narrowed as the thought occurred to him. "Mom. What now?" Though even as he said it, Devin knew it couldn't be true. That castle was clearly not Elysium Castle. And this...was not Elysium. Crap. Wonderful. Just freaking wonderful. He started walking toward the castle, shaking his head. "No idea where I am. Not sure WHY I'm here. Shade-stepping out of here is...not happening. Lord Chaos only knows what would happen if I tried again. Lamia, you witch. What do you have planned for me this time? Damn it..." The last was spit out through gritted teeth, baring two sets of fangs. One set of fangs resided on the top canines. The other set was on the bottom set of teeth, right under the first. He continued through the night, spitting and cursing the name of his mother as he walked at human speed. Shade-stepping was a laborious experience on one's hunger. And by now he was famished. The corner of his mouth started twitching into a slight grin. He could feel it, his beast, tugging at him. Begging for him to lost control. Any further taxing of his powers may just push him over the edge. And with the little bit of sense he had left to grasp hold of, he knew that going on a murder spree would make for a very poor first impression with...whoever it was that resided...wherever this was. Damn it! He needed answers! And whoever was residing in that castle was going to give them to him...once he got there.
  13. [Okay so I've decided that I'll post here to try and get used to this format of RP, so for convenience, here's some context! Yes, in Varhac's profile I did say he was born and raised in Valucre, and I think that'll still hold true, BUT since I'm bringing him in from another pre-established canon, I'm deciding that his life in Valucre is like, another life? He was reincarnated into it basically. Vargon is a planet my partner Rei made, and in his original canon, Varhac is from its sister planet Kordonor (also made by Rei but then handed off to me for development). Mentions of these planets, as well as of his family members and partner Nasir, are all memories of his past life. They will fade entirely before he enters Valucre and starts his new life. For simplicity's sake, his Valucre backstory is basically the same as his original canon one but now in a different setting. However, his sister and Nasir will not be in Valucre unless my partner has the energy to join and use them, as those two are their characters and not mine. I think that's all the explanation done! Sorry about that! Thank you for reading!] Varhac isn't sure how he got here, exactly. Whether he's asleep or dead, he couldn't tell you. He hopes his sister and grandfather are alright, though. And Nasir. His tail swishes anxiously as he pulls the tavern door open, figuring there's not much else for him to do but head forward. He's not sure why the warmth and the scale of the place take him by surprise. He's seen plenty of similar wonders on Vargon. Or... He's pretty sure he is, at least. It's been kind of tough to think clearly, and getting harder the closer he gets to the next world. The young man shakes his head. No, of course he remembers Vargon's insane technology. And he remembers the cabin, the forest, and the one before that, and Kordonor and the spaceship he stole away on... Sure, it sounds a lot like a dream now that he thinks about it, but- Ah, there are more pressing matters at hand right now. He enters the tavern. The sights, sounds, and smell are a bit overwhelming, and he does his best to sulk his way into some shadows. Thank the gods the nearby corner table is empty. To any onlookers, he no doubt looks very uncomfortable and clearly unsure of what he's doing, but he's unaware, and mentally congratulates himself for his quick thinking. I'll just... pretend to be a patron waiting for an order until I figure out what to do. Dammit, why'd there have to be so many people... he laments. The lynx ears on the top of his head swivel back and forth, and he keeps his head low as he listens to everything going on around him. Varhac is grateful at times like these for his difficulty blocking out this kind of noise. Though, it would be nice if every clink of glass and sharp laugh of a stranger didn't startle him and cut through his brain like the sound was something solid.
  14. Jasper-Aria, Hub of Val Cruxis Val Cruxis, Athentha 300 Days before the Revival of Azura-Dusk Tuesday, 12:00PM. Ferghas sighed as he stood there. He wasn't annoyed just disappointed that things had gotten this bad. Especially since the elder and Rin failed it from time to time. He eyed the Crowned Hearth with distrust because of everything she had done. Seldeth had broken free of the Black Heart Mirror but some effects had remained. And though she wanted to repent for her misgivings at the same time, the elf was not the same girl that started out in Platinum-Neptune. Ferghas wasn't the same either from his ordeal. But he decided to meet with Seldeth to help plan a course of action to combat Azura-Dusk should she awaken. And the two now reconvined in the Rising Moon Inn. Along with another head figure, Rin. The half-breed had put her transgressions and past mistakes behind her to tackle the bigger threat at hand. Ferghas looked at both women and shook his head, this was going to be harder than he thought. I don't think this plan is going to work at all. Seeing Esben has corrupted both the emberheart and cloverheart, that we might be in trouble. Ferghas replied as he looked down at the map. His right finger pointed at the small city of Aria-Malachite. I mean I don't even think the Zweifer Malachite-Topaz Cloverheart Sword and shield still resides there. It has to be there. Kogal wrote down the location of the three Zweifer Cloverheart items that haven't been corrupted. And that was one of them. Rin replied as she sighed softly. So that's where we are going Ferghas. We can sort our personal issues out along the way. Rin's right. Seldeth piped up. If we wait we'll never be able to conquer the ones that continue to serve Azura-Dusk. And we'll be outnumbered. Ferghas, pleaze trust us for once. Ferghas grunted as he stood, rolling up the map. Rin was glad someone was around to read the maps, since she was terrible at that. She then knew they'd have to take the train, which she didn't have a problem with. The three then gathered their meager belongings and headed out to the train station. None spoke. Well for a moment before Rin shook her head. Hm half-breed? I forgot to mention that Vex will meet us in Aria-Malachite. He wants to do this to make up for his transgressions. I allowed him to accompany us once we get there. I hope it's not an issue. The two nodded as they boarded the train and sat in the carriage part of it. Neither voiced their complaints and things seemed to be quiet for the moment. Which they didn't mind at all right now.
  15. The Underdepths of Ebony-Yahera, Border of Absolon and Ebony-Yahera Athentha 31 Days Before Azura-Dusk's Awakening Outside Val Roux Tuesday, 1:00P.M Rin shook her head as she stood in the underdepths tunnel like pathways. It seemed it was inevitable that the elf maiden--no, monster known as Azura-Dusk would make her return soon. Hiding out wouldn't save the half-breed any longer nor did it suit her but she did it on behalf of Sayndar and his so-called resistance. The resistance that had decided to vanish as the rumors came more and more true. The half-breed knew one option she could use against Azura-Dusk, it was the old weapons of Absolon Athentha. It was made of red clover seeds, black azura clover seeds and uncorrupted cloverheart. It was called Malachite-Topaz Maelstrom. A spear and sword set. Of course Rin had no idea where it was located. The old maps said the Malachite-Topaz temple, the new ones saying Farenheit-Abalone. She wished Seldeth was here, she could help with locating this. Sighing, the half-breed made her way down the tunnel, a hand grabbed her shoulder twirling her around. Rin slapped the figure in the cheek. At least it wasn't your oar. Sayndar sputtered as he rubbed his bruised cheek. Though I'd rather it was seeing you hit harder without it. Find the weapons yet? Or have you been standing here all this time? Real cute. Rin spat as she rubbed her head, chuckling a bit. But no, seeing you know more about these tunnels than I. And these maps are conflicting at best. Sayndar, do you really think they're revive Azura-Dusk? I mean, who'd be that-- Rin, you really need to learn about Athentha and its people. If what the rumors are saying, it's that blasted elf behind it. Seeing no-one can bloody catch him. But what worries me besides you, is Azura-Dawn has been missing for a few weeks. Sayndar replied as they continued walking down the tunnel towards the exit near Absolon. And if she spills your location, then we'll have more problems than we already do now. She wouldn't tell. Azura-Dawn knows that we cannot allow her twin into the world. I took over ruiling Athentha for its best interest. Though, I've not done my best, it's better than her. Rin said as she stopped then. Azura-Dusk will turn these people into monstrous elves of their greatest vile notions. Their degeneracy, their hatred, their--their greatest sins. Corrupted by the black azura clover seeds, they won't be the same. Sayndar rubbed his temples as he stood there. Something worse than Rin, he couldn't fathom it. Of course dealing with her would have to wait now, as he looked up at the half-breed. Vex would meet them at the train station so they could plot where to look for the Malachite-Topaz Maelstrom. Outside the tunnel now, the half-breed looked at the man, her personal rival, would be the best to protect her. Annoying more than usual if you ask me. Even more than you. And even though I despise being near you, I need to make sure Azura-Dusk isn't brought back. Sayndar muttered as he looked at her. I wouldn't put it past a tourist comes and revives her at this point. Let's go, Vex is waiting for us at the train station. Rin nodded. And so they began to walk down the cobblestone street to the trains. She hoped this would go without a problem.
  16. Location: In the coast of a U-SHAPED ISLAND in the south. A sun beamed over the mountains, blue skies with feathery clouds hovered above the heavens. Folkstown was a small little city yet prosperous and filled with wonders. The people gave off vibes of happiness; it was so free , democratic with potential of growth and succsess. Folkstown is not just the capital of the nation; it's where the dreams of the people come true. Nobody ever starved as food was quite abundant in reasonable prices. People who owned their houses had their own personal farming area where they could eat themselves full. The highest majority of the people were educated which resulted in them in able to read and write. Clothes were hanged above the streets with a few pieces of ripped cloth to represent their nation while the clothes were just drying. People could also specialise themselves into jobs but also into being a politican. Litarature was common around here as there were bookstores where people could buy litarature or read it for free as long as they are inside the library and are not to plan to permamently own it. Schools were also common where the children's future mattered the most and everyone was able to form their own opinions. Far away from nobility or even monarchies in general, it was a free nation with it's people strong and ready. This nation is very small, it was smaller then the island with the size of a town of 10 000 people. Thanks to the compotent leader of Agana, Nesy Celvius who is an extrea terrestrial being who came from an other world beyond theirs. The nation is a social democracy where capitalism is regulated with a social safety net and wants to acheive solidaristic and Egalitarian outcomes. There were workers unions in order to make sure the workers have a say in the economy. This yet tiny, but great nation had farms in the outskirts of the town where they could harvest plants, even from the trees and bushes they set up as farms. People who were specialised with farming had wages that equaled to their labour. Let's say, workers and company owners were happy and that there was no issue yet. Healthcare was free as well and the labourers in that healthcare were publicaly and collectivly owned by the workers, including all schools that were owned by the workers. Private instututions existed in other sectors so while subsidies were present for such means of production. The perfect balance between public and private institutions they say... Many people were politicaly engaged as their main conversations were about liturature or what food they ate but also about politics and other components in the system, they were quite invested into their ideology. Communists and Socialists existed as well which still didn't favour the government but was atleast going in the right direction. Fascists were just a tiny puni bit of the entire population. Hah, must be a shame because fascists are deemed idiots in this town including imperalists but people understood they had to move on at some point. However, people still respected eachothers opinions while communists were not getting into fights as reasoning between the two sides seems to be adequetly okay with socialists as well but anarchists were pretty bummed but still co-existed peacefuly. Despite having different opinions, people were still friends while making political satire out of eachother. Ohhh it is just too funny, isn't it! The alien, Nesy Celvius walked around in town with people who greeted him on all sides. Some people gave him gifts to which he replied: "Hey, keep the food to yourself mate hehe... Your children might go hungry." Man sometimes there's too much food but he couldn't blame the town! He was the governer of this nation and many people liked him for what he has transformed this nation, including the communists. A person came out of the building and yelled, "Nesy has 315 seats! Wooohooo! Dominate the parliment my good sir!" While a few people cheered him on and Nesy's reaction was hysterical. The people surely loved him but there were a few people who absoloutly hated him, but that's how life was and Nesy had to accept it anyway.
  17. 21, August 1678AY Jacques Azura-Risa, Hub of Malachite-Topaz. Rowan Tuesday, 2:00P.M The rain had finally stopped failing as the cloaked figure made their way into the city of Malachite-Topaz. The events that had occurred in a cave days ago stirred whispers of the emberheart awakening again. And that was worrying, since the people of Rowan didn't experience the problems of Athentha and Talia. But here, here in Rowan something was starting. Something bad. Atlas remained under her cloak, trying to figure out if Azura-Dawn was alright. She had not gotten word back from her in days since she went looking for one of the emberheart swords. Atlas was cursing herself for allowing her cloverheart to be tainted and corrupted. And she wanted to make things right. Atlas stood there then, her golden yellow eyes looking about for Azura-Dawn. Where are you my friend? Atlas thought to herself finding a bench to sit upon. I do hope you didn't fall to the emberheart. Atlas sighed softly. Rowan was awakening again yet into an age of uncertainty that the young elf was afraid of. Azura-Dawn was needed in attempt to keep things at peaceful resolution.
  18. A half-submerged mound of amber has been discovered deep in the Wetlands. Peering into the golden rock reveals unnerving shadows trapped within. The Taen Exploration Committee is paying adventurers willing to unearth the amber secrets. A blissful day for a walk. Daemon, with his katana at his side, dresser in his usual back T-shirt, black pants, black jacket and black sneakers, wonders about on an unknown path. He has a small twig in between his lips, as he throws his legs infront of him in a carefree manner. "Wheeew!!! What a day." He exclaimed, as he walked on. "I need something exciting." He added, putting his hands behind him. Something bright appeared infront of him. A portal of some sorts. It was bright and glowing with energy. "I wonder what that is." Never seen a portal before, Daemon curiously walked toward the glowing light and decided to go through. "Well, what's the worst that could happen." He said to himself as he walked through. whooshhhhh!!!! Daemon falls through. Appearing on the other side, he sees miles and miles upon woods. It was dark, and only the sound of strange creatures, creatures he had never heard before, could be heard. "Where am I?" He asked himself scratching his head. After walking for about 10 minutes, he realized he was at the edge of the forest. Then finally a familiar sound fluttered into his ears. A horses. Walking towards the man on the horse, he inquires. "Say sir, where am I?" "And who might you be young man, and what are you doing out here at this time. You should know better!" The man replied. Not having answered Daemon's question, "come quick, it will soon be dark." Daemon reluctantly followed the man. Soon they reached town.
  19. After the madness of the incident, a term that would forever encapsulate the events at Club Tablillas and the bloodshed therein, the Outsider had a single, pervasive thought: home. It drove him, much how fury and spite had driven him to the excess of violence that made an abattoir of a nightclub and a murderer out of a sage. He wanted to go home, where the heart and peace could be found, knowing in the deepest of ways that he needed both to overcome the turbulence of his thoughts and the memories of his deeds. So it was that, after he was sure beyond a shadow of a doubt beloved was safe, he fled through means that were both esoteric and profound. Home, his innermost wish was. I want to go home. And he did go home, that terrible fiend and ubiquitous monster. He returned home, though home had never been the Black City or any of the other innumerable haunts he frequented throughout the years. It was sandy shores, warm weather and white, white rooms of marble and sheets and a golden-eyed girl-child. The veil behind corporeality lifted and a monster in the trappings of a man stepped through, sure of step if not of intent, with naked blade drawn. Then the veil descended again, a shimmer and rustle in the fabric of space and time, and the beast was alone in the castle's gardens. The briefly disturbed cicadas, moved to silence by the new and engaging presence of the Outsider, took up their singing again, as did the myriad of other insects that populated this lush and vibrant place. Their voices reached him from a great distance, faint through the coppery euphoria of absolute anger. Rage this deep left its taste on the tongue. Something not far from fear or ecstasy, but sweeter than both. He turned, but for a moment he couldn't see until he wiped the blood from his eyes. Hræðilegr was in his other hand, it's bright, burning edge sizzling away the remnants of gore and vitae that had frozen fast to the weapon during his travel through the realm between realms. He looked at it, looked at his bloody fist wrapped around the lathed hilt, looked away. The Outsider's sigh released the last of his clinging fury, and Hræðilegr slowly, inevitably grew cooler, its incessant whining for a return to bloodletting diminishing. The metal pinged, the super-heated edges and flat, cherry red all through the night of slaughter, dimming. He waited until its heat was no more than a draft up his wrist before he traversed the gardens, seeking as he ever did the fountain of his - their - youth. This was his home, whether he wished to admit to himself or not, and there was no more peaceful place on this planet for him than here. He also knew it better than the halls of his own estate. Every path, every tree, every stone and brook, all of these things were indelibly etched on the stone of his mind, so very easily recalled, even in turmoil. And he was in great, great turmoil. Finding the fountain in ruin did not come as a shock. He had seen it in state before, smashed by the hands of the young and temperamental. The only difference between now and then was the overgrowth that surrounded it, weeds and vines threading through splintered stone and mortar. Nature itself threatened to take this first gift back into her bosom, and while this disheartened the fiend, there was no more violence within him tonight to deter such a thing. He hadn't come to reminisce over the broken stones, or lament that he had never taken the time nor initiative to restore it again, as he restored it so long ago. His reasons were pragmatic, seated in the very real need to cleanse himself of both sin and -- he flinched, feeling the stickiness on his skin, on his face and hands and chest and -- he dropped down to his knees and started digging with his free hand. He pulled at stones and roots and vines until, at last, water gurgled and seeped out. He dug more greedily then, until fresh water was slopping across his thighs and turning the ground beneath marshy. With a steady flow pouring out from the ruin, the Outsider grabbed greedy handfuls of the clean water and splashed his face. His hand came away a deep, deep red. He grabbed more water and scrubbed. He kept scrubbing, ribbons of pink running down his face to saturate clothes already dyed by gore, until he felt sane enough to remove Hræðilegr from the death-clutch of his hand. Bending over blade and grasping fingers long since locked and numbed from impact tremors, the Outsider started plucking at his fingers, painfully pulling them from the hilt one by one until it tumbled from his shaking hand. Curling the arm beneath his chest, he grabbed the hilt again with the surer grip of his right and, with outrage, hurled the weapon into some nearby bushes like the refuse it was. Groaning under his breath, Roen rocked forward until his forehead was pressed into the soggy earth, and there he remained, rubbing life and sensation back into his killer's hand. The quiet of the night threatened to lull him into reliving the night's affair, and his mind recoiled. He killed them. Of course he had killed them. Not just the ones that shot and stabbed him, not just those who had ill-intent for beloved and those she called friends and allies, but the men and women and innocents, too. He wanted to call it fury, he wanted to blame it on the rage, and for a moment, the guilt and shame receded. Hræðilegr rose and fell without heed, without care, each of his blows slaying wherever it landed. The fury had been buzzing in the back of his head, his muscles leashed to the lactic burn and purity of violence. Each sensation, each scream and curse and cry was reddened by the delicious justification of honest anger. He screamed with them, the Outsider. He screamed alongside the innocent and guilty alike. His was a wrathful existence, and anger, pure, unfettered anger, it vindicated all of his sins. Nothing was as honest as this, this rage. What release had ever been more worthy and true than this dreadful, depthless anger. He was a father confronting his child's killers. He was a lover defending his family against murderers. He was the judgement of Hell made manifest. In rage, anything and everything was justified. It was the highest state of sentience. With rage came vindication, and with vindication came peace. He had charged through a cannoade of gunfire. Blood bathed his neck and chest, and he remembered with sudden coldness, just for a moment, if his face had been blasted open to the bone. Not that it mattered. Not that anything mattered but violence. The wrath had brought him clarity and, at last, with the spikes of fury buried in the meat of his mind, the Outsider had drifted, dreamt, and remembered. Serenity. Never peace, no never that. But serenity in rage, like the calm at the heart of the storm. Every life that could have been taken in the nightclub, was. He had left none alive, as far as he was aware. If it had breathed, if it had laid eyes on him and beheld the totality of his outrage, he slew it without compunction or hesitation. It was only now, in these gardens, that the weight of his decisions. Because he had enjoyed it. He had enjoyed the killing, had enjoyed the way Hræðilegr felt in his hands as it parted skin and split bodies asunder; he had enjoyed the making of war. And beneath it all, he had enjoyed the sick and sweet smell of fear, and the copper tang of blood, leaking from broken skin. There was purity in the smell - purity and purpose. He had been made for such things, and had spent so many, many years denying it. Reaching for the back of his gore-strewn dinner jacket, Roen pulled the ruined fabric above his head and tossed it aside. Scrabbling, yanking, jerking at his clothes, he pulled off every article of clothing that clung to his body and discarded them in heaps around him until he was nude. Wounds he had taken that had only begun to heal oozed from open rents and puncture marks across his body. With his fingernails, he started digging out bits of metal and wood shrapnel, clawing gouges in his skin to tear them from his dermis and muscles. Frantic, eager, he kept clawing and clawing, raking his skin and grabbing fistfuls of water to wash his nudity of the sins he relished. His hair took the longest of all. He held it in the deepest of disgust, holding his head to the stones and combing out filth and organic matter. Dry heaving, retching, Roen controlled his gorge as it rose and finished the task before moving away, crawling on his hands and knees to the bushes where he had flung Hræðilegr. A tool for slaughter, yes, reviled and hated, certainly, but his. He forced it to wilt beneath his touch, transforming it into the ribbon that ever held his hair bound back from his face. Instead, he wrapped the reduced weapon around his fist and between his fingers. He couldn't stay here, he knew. He needed clothes. He needed to find Gabriela. He needed -- time, the one luxury the world was never eager to give. Moving, a killer walked through the castle's gardens, seeking out the palace proper for rooms he was intimate with but seldom visited. The fiend had clothes here, if memory served. More than memories and sentiment, there were things of pragmatic value to be had here, at home. Tail swaying behind low above the ground, the Outsider did not wander, but moved with purpose. There was much to be done..
  20. Presently only the Main Hub thread is open for posting of new plots. All new visitors are encouraged to post here instead of making a new thread. If posting for a specific quest/plotline, please include the name in your post header. Thank you! ABSALOM AUTONOMOUS ARCHITECTURAL ECOLOGIC ZONE 'The Free City' "There are no gods in Heaven, for we have pierced it with our lances and found it empty. There is only Man - and from his confusion he has found the knowledge of his ancestors once again. Behold, now, Absalom! The son of Babel, the High Priest of Progress! In his grasp lies the vast expanse between the stars, and the remotest depths of Hell. Rejoice, Men of worth! Nothing is beyond our reach..." Canon In Progress Geography The Architectural Ecologic Zone - the 'Arcology' - is a colossal megastructure comprised of scintillating agri-domes, elegant spires, and graceful monorails - encompassing a microsociety of about twenty thousand souls, and myriad chattel. Its towering heights lord over the desolate remains of a once pristine alpine forest, the only point of light in the sprawling wasteland. Holographic advertisements loom over the churning industry of the surrounding badlands, acclaiming the virtues of this jewel of self-sufficient civilization. Organization Absalom is divided among its shareholders, with the position of owner and leader granted to the majority stake. While some maintenance of the overall structure is maintained by the owner, individual levels and wings of the arcology are the responsibility of their private Holders. As such, interior aesthetics of one area may vary drastically from another. Because the fundamental right of a citizen is property, those that own no property, or whose property, including their life, is rendered forfeit by incurred debts, are stripped of citizenship and relegated to servitude and slavery until such a time as the debt is repaid. In reality, however, because a lack of means to protect one’s assets is commonly considered forfeiture, even those completing their contracted enslavement often immediately find themselves back in bondage just to be able to feed themselves. Free citizens, but whom own less than 1% of the arcology, are a fragile middle class that dwindles daily, and are only replenished by new arrivals to this futuristic ‘utopia’. Government and Politics Contracts rule all but the most informal of exchanges. Because there are no non-private adjudicators, private middlemen almost inevitably favor the party with greater influence in disputes regarding these contracts, making justice a hopeless pursuit for most. When adjudication fails, squads of private security forces are deployed, leading to brief but incredibly violent shareholder turf wars in which one party will attempt to seize the assessed debt it feels it is owed. The common result is total seizure of assets, to cover the ‘cost’ of the operation, and subsequent enslavement. Somewhat paradoxically, the average day is relatively peaceful and secure for the bulk of the arcology’s denizens, as the threat of wholesale destruction and the ubiquity of high-powered personal weaponry make most sane people strongly reconsider the use of physical force, or attempting an unlawful act. Nonetheless, criminal elements do exist, inseparably entwined into the fabric of the ultra-capitalist society, functioning as yet another tool for ambitious holders to undermine their peers. The spirit of the city's founding was based on the anarcho-capitalist ideal of the Non-Aggression Principle - the idea that the supreme right of a free man is complete dominion in his own affairs so long as they do not tread on the right of another to exercise the same. In practice, like many utopian ideologies, this often boils down to who has the bigger gun. Nonetheless, remnants of this spirit continue to persist in the legal contract morass of Absalom's laws, and the sight of heavily armed citizens going about daily business, or debt slaves selling their bodies in public is both common and praised. The Holders comprise the effective ruling class of Absalom. Collectively, they own over ninety percent of the structure, with free citizens owning the remaining eight or so percent between them, which includes personages such as company CEOs, celebrities, and other independently rich individuals. The Holders are even richer - moguls that command monopolies on industries, services, or goods, raking in profits from several corporations or broad swathes of rental properties. A vanishing few members of the middle class have the deed to their own apartment or business, who the Holders usually allow to remain unmolested to give the impression that the founding myth of Absalom continues; allowing an enterprising soul to pull themselves to a place of worth in society. Everyone else is a servant or slave, whether by debt or choice. They live in Absalom but hold no political power, having no say in decisions that affect them. Women fall into this demographic with near total certainty - even those that are well-off and seemingly independent are kept in that luxury by powerful men. Chauvinism is not merely common in Absalom but almost universal - it is understood that the weaker sex by nature desires policy that is ruinous to free enterprise and free association, and thus is disenfranchised at every opportunity. Nonetheless, the enigmatic Lady of Absalom, Spaide, who 'rules' as majority owner... seems perplexingly untouched by this attitude. Technology and Magic Power generation forms the spearhead of Absalom's technological development, its ever-hungering industries and wasteful lights needing a boundlessly increasing supply of electricity. Six immense nuclear fusion reactors, each housed within one of the support columns holding up the entire structure, currently provide power to all, including the leeching underbelly that clings desperately to their onerous, oppressive warmth. Advances in material science and nanomachinery recovered from the husk of the Sarcophagus has allowed a general eschewing of chemical propellants in both civil and weapon engineering applications. Sleek monorails ride super-conducting rails, jetcycles accelerate using state-of-the-art ionic plasma engines, and wireless mechanical devices of all sorts carry incredibly sophisticated, energy-dense batteries or capacitors. Coupled with the relative fragility of many luxury areas, personal armaments in Absalom strongly favor melee and directed energy solutions, manifesting in a wonderfully creative array of absolutely batshit crazy close-range weapon platforms, from arc-sabres that weld metal on contact, to pneumatic spike-hammers and plasma torches. Despite this, projectile weaponry continues to be regularly employed outside the megastructure, and is common among more heavily armed mercenaries and security forces, taking the form of rail or gaussian accelerated slugthrowers. Magic, on the other hand, is a complicated affair. As the saying goes: There are no gods in Absalom - There is only Man, and his Triumph. The malign influence of the Sarcophagus, feeding off the prevailing vice and hubris of the glittering city above, manifests itself in a manner that can only be assumed to be a Genius Loci. Though some elements of the Lagrimosan continent are inescapable, especially the odd erraticism of gunpowder, the land around Absalom is nearly devoid of the arcane. Exotic enchanted materials lose much of their effectiveness, magical arms and armor seem to struggle to maintain their efficacy unless continually supplied with power, and only low-level power manifestations are produced by even the mightiest of magicians. In this absence, pure technology rules supreme, with only limited interests in the arcology bothering to develop magical solutions to problems. In essence, Absalom's will dampens magic in its area of influence absolutely - a phenomenon that would become troublesome indeed if their influence were ever to expand. Foreign Relations Absalom's foreign relations are currently still formative, but are generally cordial. The owner recognizes that national governments, even those with inferior technology, command resource monopolies that a neofeudal city-state cannot hope to match in open conflict. Trade and diplomacy are conducted openly to import what little the arcology cannot produce on its own, and to market its own products far and wide. Military The Arcology’s armed forces consist chiefly of the private security forces hired and outfitted by the aggregate of the Holders. However, the owner separately employs a full company of mercenaries loyal to herself, as well as a fleet of 200 semi-autonomous armored drones that can rapidly deploy anti-riot ordinance as well as lethal munitions if necessary. Lastly, in case of imminent invasion, the arcology can muster the Free City Militia, consisting of the Holders themselves, outfitted with fantastically futuristic power armors, exo-skeletons, and astoundingly devastating weaponry - the best money can buy. Economy Absalom's economy is a complicated mix of services and goods. It's a lucrative locale for companies or governments to contract out the labor necessary for product manufacture, being that labor is so cheap and available here due to the prevalence of indentured servitude. In a way you could say that the Free City's biggest export is labor. Workers of all sort are exploited within the territory of Absalom. Factory workers, laborers, programmers, service clerks, and sex workers are the most common types. A sizable portion of the population is under some contract or another, often of indentured servitude, binding them to a term of unpaid service. These terms, and by extension the people for which they are made, can be bought and sold. In the sprawling slums that comprise the hinterlands around the main tower there are dozens of industrial sectors dedicated to the processing of raw materials. These factories are populated largely by the lowest caste of people, and as they are indentured, their labor is sold cheaply. Sexual gratification is its own commodity, and gratuitous sexualization pervades society at nearly every level. Moving within the tower, scores of programmers, accountants, salesmen, craftsmen, etc are bought and sold from one corporation to the next. The trade of indentured servitude contracts is common with workers that have special skills. Another practice is for companies to own nothing but these contracts, selling or renting the rights to various corporations as freelance indentured servants. Absalom produces high tech and completed goods. Anything from portable electronics, to medical prostheses, weaponry, digital entertainment, or even lifelike android companions. The main import of the city is raw materials and foodstuffs, as these things are difficult to find or produce. If you can dream of something, and there is a way for that thing to be manufactured, then you can probably find it in Absalom. Just don't think about the exploitation that built it and you can sleep easy. In true anarcho-capitalist fashion, no 'official' currency exists - theoretically any transaction where buyer and seller agree on an exchange constitutes a legal sale. Of course, considerations for the sake of practicality and convenience still requires some manner of standardized exchange. Since the Free City lives and dies on the ubiquity of usable energy, the EUC or 'Equivalent Use Credit' constitutes the digital currency of Absalom, with each unit equivalent to the use of one kilowatt-hour of electricity. The relative stability of the value of the commodity (it is perpetually in demand) simultaneously has a strong, persistent deflating effect as well as a fantastic amount of granularity for bookkeeping. Exchange of credits is done via biosignature authenticated chip cards or implants at the point of sale, backed by individual secure deposits at Personal Vault companies. (The term 'bank' is heavily frowned upon). Personal Vault companies are forbidden to speculate with the contents of the accounts the way a traditional bank would, so instead they charge onerous transaction and security fees. One always has the option to host their hard-earned credits on personal architecture... but is the lack of fees worth the risk? Identity theft is a death sentence in Absalom. History Absalom is not a nation, not in the sense that a traditional state exists. Rather, having no actual governing body, it is a microcosm of individual organizations attempting to live in proximity. It is generally agreed between corporations that a certain respect for common law is necessary, but why do all of these groups choose to operate here? The reason is simple, and it has a name: The Sarcophagus. The Sarcophagus is a structure that exists buried deep underground at the very heart of Absalom. The only portion that exists above ground is a vast open hole - a hole over which the main body of the city is suspended. It has been speculated that this structure is actually a ship from some unknown space faring civilization, that crash landed in the wilds of Lagrimosa in ancient ages past. Nobody knows for sure how it came to be there. Back when the city first formed, it was occupied by tomb raiders and grave robbers who went into the opening to look for treasure, and what they found was both wondrous and terrifying. The Sarcophagus was filled with autonomous machines, hyper advanced technology, unheard of metals, and most perplexingly it was also stuffed to the brim with the living dead. Not zombies, so to speak, but rather the shells of beings whose organic components have been commandeered by the very technology that built their home. These early adventurers waded into the depths, most never to be seen again. Those lucky, or skilled enough to return, came back with tech that had previously been unheard of. It was these few who began the very first corporations of Absalom. These days, ventures into The Sarcophagus are rare and dangerous. It is less profitable than it was in the beginning as an understanding of most of the tech within has been reached. With the ability to replicate many of the devices laying inside, it's seen as a net loss to send people there, even if they do return alive. Even so, it is estimated that a mere five percent of the structure has been explored, with untold miles of corridors and chambers laying unseen beneath the wasteland below, and around Absalom. Locales/Points of Interest Fatal Seduction - As one of the few non-incorporated businesses in Absalom, this club has a reputation for having a little bit of everything, if you are bold enough. Exotic dancers grace the stages day and night, with private booths and lounges for more intimate interactions. The open bar is financed by a hefty cover fee, and robust security ensures Ryker Albrecht's investment remains profitable. Although the kingpin rules supreme in his establishment, it is also completely devoid of any recording devices and thoroughly padded with sound-absorbing wall panels, making it one of the safest places to conduct 'business' in the Free City... as long as you don't mind the head-pounding music. Arcades - Rather than the flashy game cabinet centers this name might invoke in one's imagination, these establishments are commonly found tucked away along the sides of wayfares, with warm rows of subtle lighting casting an inviting glow onto discreet booths with luxurious, padded interiors. For a few credits, one may then indulge in their basest desires upon the most unfortunate of Free City denizens - the arcade slave. Restrained into their working compartment for shifts of up to six hours at a time and powerless to resist, this is where those women (and sometimes men) whose usefulness in other aspects have become unprofitable to their owner, are sold to be used until expired. The Pantheon - The name a callback to pagan temples of old, the Pantheon is the slang term for the casino and game levels of Absalom, most notably the row of establishments all owned by Dual Face, Inc. On-site attractions include complimentary accommodations on sufficient chip buy-in, table and card games, slots, horse and jetcycle racing, five-star dining, nightly shows, and more! Stay as long as you like, and if you win big, your stay is immortalized on the golden obelisk in the central avenue. Just remember, the house always wins in the end... The Suburbs - This is the mocking name the citizens of Absalom use to refer to the slums that sprawl underneath and around the arcology. Polluted, stinking, irradiated and miserable, the rotting underbelly of the glittering city is host to the poor souls who have lost everything to debt. A hollow facsimile of life above can be found in parts, with flickering neon lights advertising grimy sex clubs, back alley medical clinics, and dive bars, surrounded on all sides by heaping shanty towns and mountains of junk and trash. It is perpetually swelteringly hot, a byproduct of the obscene heat and noise pollution from above. Why would you come here? Penthouse Park - The highest tier of Absalom is its sky-jutting spire, encompassing about a hundred or so apartments for the absolute wealthiest citizens of the Free City. Its hanging hydroponic and levitating gardens lavishly surround the twin open-platform lifts that ferry the most important personages of the city up to their slice of heaven. Perpetually illuminated in the sick haze of the air surrounding Absalom, its piercing beacon can be seen as far as Predator's Keep and the Temple City on a clear night. Access to this area is incredibly restricted, and only the most important of dignitaries or guests can ever hope to experience the nauseating level of luxury within. For the fortunate few servants and slaves that find employment in these areas, life is as good as any citizen's... materially, at least. Boutique Girl Host Club - An over-the-top, themed host club by night, and underground assassin network by... also night. The hostesses of the BGHC moonlight as for-hire duelists, spies, saboteurs, and sometimes killers, though their talents are increasingly directed towards mitigating outside threats as their notoriety grows within the arcology. The all-female cadre are beholden to an order master, who cares for and humiliates his charges in equal measure. Strapped into candy-stripe neons, ablative plastic ornamental armor, and translucent acrylics, the barely-clad kunoichi nonetheless boast good training and an array of high-tech gizmos and weaponry on which they rely to achieve their mission. Cathedral of Transcendence - Though it might be said that Absalom's society is in a way a worship of worldly goods, the Cathedral is the single counterpoint in a haze of carnality. Occupying an inescapably prominent position directly adjacent to the Forum, its digitized facades simultaneously clash with, and yet blend into the Babylonian gardens and tiled founts surrounding it. The physical structure is exceedingly plain - merely a black, rectangular prism. The appearance of the Cathedral's glowing parapets and cascading code-waterfalls are all carefully projected holograms overlaid atop the building. It is stewarded by the Elevated Brotherhood, an insular group of mystic monks devoted to perfecting the mind by reducing the burden of the body through mechanical, electronic, or chemical means. The most famous of these are widely known for their jealous hoarding of micro-scaled repulsion technology, with which they are able to levitate spectacularly in expressions of mysticism. A few especially devoted adherents have gone so far as to amputate their entire lower bodies, their torso suspended on a hovering conveyance. Replacement of at least one limb with a cybernetic replacement is common, although interestingly these replacements, which are all done internally within the sect, are not nearly as sophisticated as some of the newer products on the market. The Elevated Brotherhood shares a muted, common animosity with Ergo Tech, as their purviews overlap in the field of cybernetic body modification, but with radically different viewpoints. Quests/Plot Hooks Lagrimosa ErgoTech Expo - Ergo Tech, the foremost biotechnology and brain-machine interface developer in Absalom, is gearing up to host a one-of-a-kind technology exposition open to investors, scientists, foreign dignitaries, and even mundane citizens for a 'nominal' fee. Covering two weeks of exhibitions, other entities are welcome to rent out convention space to display and sell their own products as well. New technologies of any kind are eagerly welcomed, though of course the focus is Ergo Tech's own specializations. All convention pass holders will enjoy complimentary housing for the duration of their stay, as well as access to the vast array of other entertainment available (on their own dime, of course). This is a two, possibly three part quest that will encompass applications to display or visit at the convention, social interactions and dalliances in and around the convention halls, and of course the expositions themselves. Corporate sabotage and secret stealing are the order of the day, so come prepared to defend your intellectual property (or steal someone else's)! Difficulty: Varies, up to 10 players Weekend at Sonny's - Sonny, a notorious philandering rock star, has died of a drug overdose days before his life insurance policy matures and becomes claimable. Either as his agents, or outsiders posing as groupies/fans, maintain the facade of his continued lifestyle for at least two days, then claim the insurance money without being tossed in jail for fraud. Difficulty: Medium, 2-3 players Survey of the Barrier Peaks - While the Sarcophagus is a nightmare landscape all on its own, its massive bulk shaped the surrounding land in strange and unstable ways during its ancient impact. As (expendable) surveyors, head out into the blasted hills surrounding Absalom and take seismological, meteorological, and radiation readings at six different points, all while battling the hostile environment and aggressive, mutated wildlife. Additional rewards available for a detailed map of the findings and surrounding region. Difficulty: Hard, 2-4 players Delving the Sarcophagus - Absalom has two kinds of tourist traps - the shining, never-sleeping nightlife of resorts, casinos, brothels and clubs - and the existential terror that constitutes that yawning crypt below the megacity: The Sarcophagus. Anyone can enter, no questions asked... but no one will go looking for the return of your corpse, either. If the technological treasures within still entice your bottomless greed, by all means, head into the endless deeps. Difficulty: Extreme, any number of players. [This is an on-going plot hook for solo players or groups and actively GMed. Contact @Sigil Warden for assistance.] Completed Plots
  21. From first glance, the building appeared outdated and out of touch; nestled into a corner pocket of the universe, this old-fashion establishment was the resting place from travelers around creation. Quaint wooden doors recessed into the wall roughly reaching 8 feet high with each door containing stained glass artwork depicting angels and demons lying on a bed of clouds, symbolizing a haven for saints and miscreants alike. The doors swung open to an extravagant ballroom sized lounge with materials from worlds of the imagination; a broad bar with seats planted against the far left wall, to the right and rear were other offshoots of rooms, but the main focus was in the center of this room; tables and chairs for patrons to lounge about. The furniture littered the room in an organized fashion. An assortment of tables and chairs neatly scattered about the room gave occupants various choices to try; tables made of woods from around the cosmos, leather chairs, sofas large enough to seat a horde of goblins, chairs in all shapes and sizes, and swings that whimsically hung from the heavens. The main lounging area had all the offerings of modern-day bistros with hints of taverns; tables with books containing the history of the worlds sprawled among magazines showing today’s hottest elven men and women, and board games piled as high as the tallest giant. As far as one could imagine, everything one needed to enjoy a cup of the world’s finest coffee and chat over topics was here. A delicate glass sign floated in the air as soon as walking through the threshold. This sign was the first object all who entered came upon, always legible to those who read it no matter the language and telepathically spoken to those without sight. Today, the board read: WELCOME CLUB MEMBERS This Week: Snacks and Beverages Discussion – Room 105 Today’s Special: Coffee – Made by Wish for Death – Breakfast Blend Once past the sign and down a few steps, the main area opened to the wonders of the building. A comprehensive bar took over a section of the lounge, table-top seats neatly placed in front of the exquisite mahogany bar that stretched for what felt like eons. The bar was meticulosity organized; glassware hung from specific locations on the bar, placed so that the barkeeps could grab but not hinder the view of others, taps with odd symbols gave proof to ale and beer, and a large array of spirits rested on glass shelving. In one section behind the bar were makers for coffee, expresso, and storage containers packed with tea. A spherical, glass globe was mechanically turning colored ice inside for those needing a cooler treat and drink at once. The bar was the heart of the operations, it was where food could be ordered, drinks were made, and occupants sat discussing news of the world. A behemoth chalk board was hung center stage behind the bar. In ogre-sized print read: No ordering ‘The Strongest Drink’ centered above the lists below. The chalk board listed every cocktail, ale, wine, spirit, coffee, and other various drinks available on the upper level bar. Following a roundabout path on the outer parameters of the lounge, the rear of the room gave birth to smaller, more intimate dwellings. On the top of each doorway was a room number as well as a pedestal to match the corresponding club for that room. Occasionally all rooms were open, but time schedules generally kept one topic for a week to allow beings to join in whenever possible. The furthest hallways behind the discussion rooms zigged like a labyrinth trying to confuse those who wandered down the halls. These hallways lead to the kitchen and business offices. Paintings plastered each side of the hallways. Eyes of ancient warriors uniquely watched anyone as they roamed through. Artwork depicting wars, scenes of love, violence, and peace were only a snippet of the meaning behind the paintings. Inside the kitchen you would find cooks creating dishes from ingredients, rotating every week. A head chief watched over them as a prison warden would watch his inmates. Everything was made to be perfect. The business area consisted of 24/7 staff who kept the machine oiled day to day. These workers paid bills, ordered supplies, and other clerical necessities. Very little interest was back here. A special access point within the business area allowed only those with administrative access to reach the second level. The second level office took up the ceiling space above the main lounge, allowing those in the tinted windows to oversee the operations below. Few have access to this area, and fewer know the innerworkings of this office. Taking an immediate left after the welcome sign would navigate occupants to a stairwell leading to the lower levels where other amenities lay dormant; a lavish wine cellar, a smoker’s lounge, bowling alley, these were just a sample of activities located there. Unlike the above level, these areas were more private and quieter, allowing for deeper conversations creating an atmosphere where one could grow stronger bonds. The wine cellar contained rarer wines than the first floor, but the selections were limited. A scruffy old man whose kyphosis had continually crept up on him throughout the years stood outside as rain poured down soaking his black and white attire. “Welcome! Please, grab something to drink, very cheap I say, and make yourself comfortable. Those who are here for The Citadel’s weekly discussion forum, the topic is on all things edible as well as drinkable.” He spoke elegantly, more so than his appearance eluded to. A toothy smile manifested on the cryptic face of the man, one lateral incisor was all that was left, the rest of the cavity that was his mouth was darkness and gums. OOC
  22. Luna glanced quickly behind her, before focusing her attention back on the path in front of her. Dappled light shone through the trees, onto her face which was now freckled from the recent harsh sun. Even her long black hair seemed lighter, almost brown, though tied up as it was the color wasn’t so obvious. Her boots were scuffed and worn, it was obvious that she had been walking for a long time, but the physical endurance that was her power allowed her to do so without many signs of weariness. However, it was now almost fifteen hours straight of walking that she had been doing, and she needed to stop. It was obvious she wouldn’t reach the city today, but for now she had to find a place to stay. Luna had expected an inn around, but she now realised the area she had found herself in was almost desolate. With a groan, she turned around, scanning the area for any building, when she heard the familiar crunch of boots on the dirt path, and it wasn’t her. Steeling herself for the encounter, she walked forward.
  23. I had moved to union city, for a change of scenery, besides who wouldn't want to live in the capital city? I had been staying at the traven till I found a shop and house just like the image I had in my mind. I had finally settled in the place after lengthy process of haggling with the magistrate. But finally everything was as it should be. And I hung a wooden sign outside of the shop with the name I had come to call my shop elysian etched in shimmering effect on the wood to draw everyone's eye. My shop was a two part shop the smithy that dealt with weapons armor and other such things was in the back and the apcotharcy I had was in the actual shop I had bought. I had every thing set up, everything you could need lined the shelves or was in drawers. Also if you were really sick I had beds in the a room off to the side. I guess it was strange to most being both a doctor and a smithy, but the way I looked at it they went hand in hand. But of course I also had other such things like reguarl tea leaves and such. And my most valuable items were behind the counter and if you were magically sensitive you could probably see or feel or maybe both all the wards and runes I had running all over the shop. But of course you can never be to careful espically when you created things as I did. Gosh I was so bone tried I never knew how hard moving was til I did or just how much stuff I had til I unpacked my shop and sorted It all out. I felt like I could sleep forever after putting up all the wards and everything. It had taken a month to finally get every thing in place and now it was opening day. I took a deep breath and unlocked the door for the first time and stood behind the counter waiting for the bell above the door to ring , or for the other bell to ring for the smithy. I was eager to see how the city would embrace me. But I was cautiously optimistic.
  24. Fox


    It's all about poetry, in the end. As the Sun begins to set, the surface of the Earth begins to redden, reminding me of a metal sword rusting away in the sunlight, lost to the sands of time. "You ever read King Arthur?" I look to my right. The blackbird that's been sitting just a few feet away watches me, its black eyes sparkling. "We could be friends, you know." It says nothing. Shrugging harmlessly, I return to gaze out at the view. My outstretched hand is motionless, so as not to frighten the creature, and yet a few seeds slip between my pale, thin fingers, tumbling past the edge over which my legs dangle. Precarious. "Of course, that's not a problem for you, is it, My Winged Traitor?" The blackbird maintains its silence. Or should I say "their" silence, thereby granting some form of personhood to the creature? I chuckle. I smile. My eyes--sometimes green, sometimes blue, sometimes grey--narrow. Blackbird can reach the city in the sky forbidden to someone like me. Up there, I wouldn't be good enough. I wouldn't be... suitable to their standards; I wouldn't be considered worthy, or good, or even lovable. That's why I'm down here, in the lower parts of Earth's atmosphere, known affectionately to the sky people as the "Wasteland." That's right. I'm living in a dump. My lip curls. "What I wouldn't give to see through your eyes." When Blackbird doesn't answer, I make my hand into a fist before thrusting the seeds to the side, sending the small grains scattering across the curved surface of the roof. The bird squawks and dives after the pebbles in a furious motion of feathers. Sighing, I shake the last few specks from my fingers before drawing my knees into my chest and lowering my head to my chest. My dark, straight hair covers my vision further, until all I can make out behind my closing lids is an array of sunlights filling the air with geometric light-shapes. But this doesn't have to be the end. "No?" I poke my head up, entertaining the small voice that urges me to shy away from the drop. It says nothing. "And why not? Why not now? Why not here?" I feel the wind tickling the hairs on my unshaved legs, the possibility existing because of my dark orange shorts. I reach out toward the Sun, attempting to grasp it. The light shines brilliantly between my fingers, although it's all a blur. The contact lenses Dad acquired for me are in the workshop, next to my bed. They were there this morning when I woke up, and they're there now; I haven't touched them all day. I planned to never do so again, actually. "Dad told me he could heal my eyes. But can he heal my mind? I don't think anyone can. What's the purpose of living, anyway? Up there, they say I have no value. I'm meaningless; my entire existence is. I don't deserve Paradise; all I deserve is this Hell." Tears well up, and I taste the salt when it reaches my dry, cracked lips. A moment later, my hand is running along my mouth, feeling the ridges of the valleys. Are my eyes sparkling now, the way my fingers were when the Sun was in-between them? Are my lips glittering with a lubricating gloss, woven from the realization of meaninglessness? If it weren't for beauty, I would never had withstood the sadness for this long. My bitter self-reflection comes to a jarring end when I become aware of something for the first time. Blinking the tears away, I turn my head cautiously to peer over at the bird with the eerie eyes, whose small body is bent as it attempts to gather seed. Except... it hasn't managed to. The bird continues to peck, in an almost metronomic fashion, the sound of metal on metal cutting through the otherwise serene silence of the twilight. A cold, electric chill permeates my body. In the fading light, I begin to notice the uncanny jerkiness of the bird's movements. My heartbeat begins to pick up as I perceive a shudder running through the bird's body every time it hits the roof's metal surface, as though absorbing an impact shock. Dread fills me as I begin to pick up on the metal echo emanating from its rich plumage. As though it were fully hollow on the inside. Trying not to make a sound, I begin to move. Wanting to take off running, despite knowing the foolishness of doing that in such dimly-lit environs, especially without my contact lenses, I begin to lift myself from my seated position. My body shakes as I maintain awareness of the blackbird, and my legs threaten to give out underneath me. But I rise anyway, attempting to get my footing. Blinded by the darkness and distracted by the newest threat, I lose my former awareness of the building's edge. My hand trembling as I lift myself, my rings clink together repeatedly. The bird stops. Swallowing forcefully, I stop breathing. The bird tilts its head, which then snaps to face me. It sounds like its neck is breaking. A motion of 180 degrees, in the blink of an eye; its body hasn't moved. Its eyes glow a pale white. My muscles are too paralyzed to scream. Driven by instinct, I stumble over my bare feet, then break into a run. Deafened by the sound of my own heartbeat in my ears, I fail to notice the unstable groaning of the metal underneath my feet. Glass cuts into my skin, but its sharpness goes unnoticed. Then the tinkling sound of crushed glass fills the air, and the next thing I know, the floor is giving way and gravity is pulling me through. A scream escapes me now. My body passes through a glass rain, which leaves my lips bloody. Innumerable cuts adorn my exposed legs, and my exposed arms. I fall freely down into the long-abandoned building, the fluttering of bird wings accompanying my rapid descent. The speed of the fall is what shocks me the most; it takes my breath away. Yet I scream the whole way down.
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