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  1. Living in an office was everything Eli had expected it to be. Dull, quiet, and vaguely suicidal. It was the perfect job, in a way. Or rather Eli was perfect for the job. He didn’t think anyone else among the other Captains, let alone all of the Naho Raiders, would’ve lasted as long as he had without ending it all on the business end of a pen. Mountains of paperwork, sitting in place for hours at a time; they were the bane of a Raider’s existence. They were the bane of his existence. The only thing that separated him from the other soldiers was his apparent lack of hot-blooded lunacy. And that wasn’t Eli being egotistical—they’d chosen him as their leader because of it. He was the eye of the storm, the calm centre of a raging clusterfuck. You learned patience with a reputation like that. Even if it meant filing taxes down the road. I’m thirsty, Eli thought, leaning back against his chair. It was a lie, of course. He just wanted to get away for a few minutes. His office, while nice, complete with a window overlooking Vanora’s shores, had recently begun to adopt the sort of familiarity that was so closely associated with contempt. The desk, he hated. The bookshelf, he wanted to set on fire. Anything that had to do with writing in the slightest had become a target for his weary ire. It was a wonder he hadn’t snapped his plume yet. He set it down before realization could reach his fingers. Maybe he really did need a break this time. Going for a walk would do him some good. “CAPTAAAAAAIN!” Eli jumped. He also banged his knee against the top of his desk. By the time the door swung open, he was hunched over, hands slowly clenching into fists. “CAPTAAAAAAIN!” “WHAT?” Eli looked up and Simeon stormed in. His lips were pulled into a smile, as usual, and his pale brow was beaded with sweat. He wore his Brumak-shell armour, cutting a handsome figure in the golden carapace. It made him look bigger than he really was, particularly around the shoulders and chest. “Hi, Captain,” the young man grinned, chewing on a slightly sweet-smelling skewer. A squid was stabbed along its length, grilled in all the calories Eli was missing in his diet. “You okay?” Eli hissed, trying to straighten out his leg. “I think you gave my knee a concussion.” “Oh," Simeon mouthed. He gave his skewer a long look before holding it out like an apology. “Here, this’ll make you feel better. The ginger-soy sauce is divine.” Eli glared at the half-eaten snack, but the ache in his stomach willed him forward. He reached out, took a bite, then allowed a slight frown to creep onto his face. “Shit.” “What?” “This is really good.” Eli took another bite, then a third, until only the stick remained a few seconds later. “Is this what you were screaming about?” Simeon shrugged with an open palm. “Just thought you could use some excitement in your life.” Eli rolled his eyes. So, no emergency. He didn’t know whether to be relieved or disappointed. “While I do appreciate the sentiment – and seriously, I do – I have work that needs to get done. The Hildebrands are going to kill me if I don’t-“ “Wanna go for a walk?” “Oh god, yes.” Eli fished a key from his pocket and locked the door on the way out. They rounded a spiral staircase going down, passing a few men who saluted him as he walked by “I don’t think I’m ever going to get used to that,” he said quietly. “Please don’t start doing that.” Simeon chuckled like he’d heard a good joke. “Never planned on it, Captain.” They exited the keep to find a massive courtyard full of other shell-plated soldiers. Most of them were either sparring or lounging, with the occasional person attempting to tame some kind of warbeast. One such example, off in the corner, was a dark-skinned man training a pack of Naghu hounds. They were something of a cross between a dog and a frog, as well as a particularly muscled breed of fish. Their tentacled faces curled and writhed, exposing rows of vicious mandibles. They pounced on the man with the speed of an eel, trying to wrench the quarterstaff from his hands. “C’mon, let’s watch,” Simeon said. They moved up to get a closer look. @supernal @Lady Gilaen
  2. The Dali estate OOC OOC 2 Ampelos liked to do his business out of the primary estate. Lady Halisera's home was a private residence but shared many of the characteristics of a public hub; around her revolved the world, so far as Dali were concerned, and so there was a constant input and outpouring of valuable assets, ranging the gamut from disembodied information to flesh-and-blood people. Ampelos liked to be around those of his family who warranted the Lady's presence, both in activity already executed as well as potential. He saw their faces, he let them see his face, he wove a complex network of associations and skill, as one might expect from a Spider(valley) and (Wyrm)Walker. It was just such associations that put into his view the names of Icarus and Victra. Having just completed the transition from journeyman to master in the transmutation guild, and this on the back of his mentorship of Merida Spidervalley, Ampelos knew full well that the peculiarities of their familial network was prone to, and conducive of, reciprocal altruism. Doing for individual Dali meant doing for Dali as a whole, the node was the network, which meant that he could expect Dali, either the individual or the network, to provide for him in turn. And so it was – he sent word to Icarus and Victra of engaging with him in a potentially expansive business negotiation which would serve to bring further glory to Dali. In the last year Ampelos has brought plenty of glory to his individual name, most notably with the construction of the faux-ton receivers connecting the Dali estate to specific points in the mainland, to Biazo Isle where he renovated the family vineyard, and now to Misral, where he has in turn constructed a museum and art gallery bearing the Dali stamp in Qrill. He sits now just outside the small (compared to the manor) beachfront property they own and manage near the shoreline. He leans back against the recliner, in airy but stylish shirt and shorts, a hat brim casting a comfortable shadow over his face while, to his right, are a table with sweating drinks and two more chairs. He hopes they arrive before the ice dilutes their drinks overly much.
  3. Volante Strifehowler sat atop a waist high wooden post, the Dali Vineyard layer out before him. The hat that rested on top of his head succeeded in its job of casting shadows over his eyes, protecting them from the overhanging sun. His eyes themselves stared down at his rough hands, which were currently preoccupied. They took great care in placing tobacco in wrapping paper, taking great care not to spill any as he rolled it closed. Lifting the finished product upward, he licked the paper before sealing it. Once he was satisfied he placed it on his left thigh with the other cigarettes he had wrapped. Lifting his gaze up, he tilted his hat back and looked out over the vineyard with admiration. It really was a breathtaking sight to take in, one he would admit he had missed during his way away from his birth home. He hasn't been returned to the Dali Estate long before placing posters around their settlement, looking for individuals with a like mind in regards to the vineyard. Among other... professions he had taken to during his travels, Volante was a businessman. As such, his desire was to bring the Dali to further fruition than they had already reached and the vineyard was a spectacular opportunity to begin with. Still, he had found in his time away that it never hurt to have a business partner in any endeavor. So he found himself waiting. He imagined that there was no shortage of Dali that were interested in benefiting the vineyard. All he had to do was hide his time wisely. He was, after all, a particularly patient man. He began wrapping his next cigarette as a small smile crossed his lips. Volante figured if someone didn't show soon he might need to step away from his post for a few moments. He would never light fire in such an important, luscious, area after all.
  4. Source: https://www.valucre.com/topic/40402-lost-house-of-dali/?do=findComment&comment=725522 For aesthetic purposes; not an inflexible representation
  5. There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact. Why? It's simple. You know the truth, or at the very least you believe that you know the truth. Walking into any situation with that sense of knowledge almost guarantees that you will not be searching for anything beneath the surface of what you believe you know. It is in that moment that you become susceptible to any unexpected surprise and your obvious fact is liable to begin falling apart. A lone figure traveled briskly in complete silence, each of their footfalls bringing them closer and closer to their destination. The estates of House Dali. Icarus Moonwalker Dali had been absent from the premises for some time, a few weeks to be exact. With the disappearance of Meridia Spidervalley had come turmoil. It seemed as though many had tried to get a handle on the situation in any way that they felt they could. Icarus himself was no exception to this. Those that fell under the banner of House Dali were his family, and he would gladly lay his life down to protect any one of them. By extension, he would do everything within the realms of possibility to ensure their safety. With any event such as disappearances, rumors are bound to begin circulating. Gossip worked much in the ways of plague, after all, spreading from one person to the next. As such, it came as no surprise when rumors persisted that Meridia Spidervalley had been sighted in various locations. They were all leads that would undoubtedly become dead ends, this was certain in situations such as a disappearance. Nevertheless, Icarus felt as if no stone should be left unturned when it comes to such a matter. Meridia was a Dali, and for so long as there was the slightest chance she might be found he would leave no stone unturned. As Icarus drew closer to his home his mind rewound through his journey, as it had the entire distance to the Dali Estate. When he had left to follow rumors he had been searching for a particular thing or lack thereof. It was due to this that he had found himself blindsided, trapped in a situation that had nothing to do with his family's disappearance and everything to do about territory. His thoughts drifted further, and as he continued his path he felt as if he was at the beginning of this entire debacle all over again...
  6. "She'll hate it." "Without a doubt, master. It looks vile." Nisnav spun the deft fingers of his one remaining hand through the air, willing magical forces to undo his cravat and send it flying across the room. Nisnav, always so calm, took a deep breath and exhaled purposefully. He could not get angry. His anger was outside of him, contained in the wretched creature who stood beside him: the mottled pygmy humanoid called Vert. Vert was a homunculus, and had never worn clothes. Nevertheless he proved to be a strict critic. "And the blue, master. The blue. It says ocean and the rest of you says something entirely different. She will laugh you out of her studio." Nisnav waved his hand through the air again, rejecting the sash around his waist and the pocket square which matched its deep blue. They flew across the room to land haphazardly where they may. Yet without them he was all white and orange. "Now I look like an autumn leaf, Vert. Make me into the sun." Vert did as he was commanded, choosing an paisley necktie of various oranges, a fiery pocket square, a white glove with red brocade, and a sash of rich gold. He adorned his master's brow with a fire opal circlet and pinned red civilian badges to his chest, giving the sorcerer an aspect of the generalissimo. This white fire ensemble met with Nisnav's approval, and he decided it was a fine outfit to impress the new darling of his eye. Of course, it was also an outfit he intended for her to replace. "Much better." Nisnav promised himself. "Indeed." Vert agreed, "Though the canvass is somewhat damaged, the painter's art shines through." Nisnav ignored the insult and strode out of his walk-in closet, past the hundreds of fine outfits and shoes he had accumulated from tens of worlds worth of fashion. Now it was time to start his Dali collection. A collection that would begin with Evienne. It was not so much later that Nisnav was at the woman's doorstep. He was, as always, a horror to look upon. Though he was fully, mercifully, clothed, he was still very visibly missing an arm and the injury that had stolen it from him crept up past his high collar and spread over the right side of his face, robbing it of the skin and flesh that normally filled out a man's jaw. Instead, he looked half-dead, the sinew and tendons of his face red and raw and exposed. His appearance had earned him a peculiar nickname: Nisnav Ghoulface. And Nisnav Ghoulface had an appointment. Nisnav had not brought Vert with him to shop, indeed he rarely let the miserable homunculus out of his tower, so as to spare the world the free flow of venom that poured from the creature's lips at every occasion. Alone, he used his magical will to open doors for him, and his own voice to announce his presence. He'd come by way of horse-drawn carriage, but its jockey had a thick accent and made for a terrible herald. "Excuse me." he said, as the glass door entrance gently swung open at the wave of his hand. He strode in on his white boots and took in the lady's studio. He admired the noble offshoot families of Dali, they were all so purposefully organized. Breeding mixed with business: the finest cocktail of qualities in a free-ranging humanoid. He expected great things from this Evienne he had traveled so far to meet. Her studio made a good first impression. Despite it having mirrors everywhere, which he didn't love, the workshop had a pristine presentation which showed an overall sense of aesthetic not only in clothing, but in room arrangement, color combination, judicious decor, and a few scattered hints of hard work. This was not just a parlor for the trying on of clothes, but a true showcase of artistic skills. "I am Nisnav of Blairville, I have an appointment with Lady Goldencourt." @LikelyMissFortune
  7. ~Night 0~ Three hours had passed. Three hours had passed and still, the sickening, sinking feeling in her belly would not leave her. It rendered her all too numb, and had been helpful when they had stumbled out of the maze, bleeding, crying; a bearer of terrible news. It was a god send when she had to admit that she was gone. Merida was gone. And even more so when they had lead her to be bathed and dressed in a simple night gown, and asked to explain. But, they were gone now and milk sat cooling on her vanity for the night, next to a stack of crumpled letters that slowly enroached it's lukewarm territory. There had been an idea, taking root, curling into her words- it was as obstructive as the clock that ticked mercilessly in a corner. Evienne wanted to root it out- crush it against a wall, but, it was welcome in her bid to coax her mind into forming coherent words. It annoyed her to no end, however, and he had to lean back from the latest version of her missive to her Father, and take a moment to consult her reflection. Evienne had never seen herself such a mess. Her hair, an untamed mess of frizz and knots, and sprouting even more knots with each crumple and twist of her fingers, curled angrily- accusing. Shadows like bruises bloomed underneath her eyes, and an angry weal across her cheek was made more noticeable by her pallor. Even the tips of her fingers had turned grey and cold, as though it was her who was missing. Knots in her hair, and a horrifying complexion wouldn't solve anything, she looked frightened and frightening. There wasn't- couldn't be any room for fear, she had to write down an account of what had transpired; an objective one, no room for guilt or fright or anything too frivolous. She had been frivolous enough for a night. She had accused him, the boy, barely even a man- but he had been carrying her stick and she brought all of her fury down on him. The Uldwar boy, it seemed, had not enough tragedy in one night. He had done something to Merida, not the Lad with the hollow, horrified eyes, looking at her as though some how she had shattered his world like his spectacles. She wanted to accuse him too. But he hadn't done anything wrong, it would've been foolish to berate him in front of the crowd. She had a part to play, the grieving, horrified.. Blind, small, helpless, lost. Oh Gods, this was all her fault. So, she had to explain why she couldn't return back to the manor. She would've disappointed her Lady Aunt-- No, they'd all have been disappointed in her. She had no right to return, not until it had been made right and Merida found. Evie was convinced that it had to have been the Uldwars. Perhaps, the Moontravellers had some nemesis or the other- but they were miles away. On a battlefield, in a ship, in a tent and, definitely not, eating h'ordeuvres in the bosom of the Empire. No, both Luis and Cassandra had motive, perhaps Evienne herself had been the target; but, Merida had been more vulnerable. Merida was small and blind, and she had not as many friends as Evie or Ves did. But, how could Luis or any of the Uldwars have kidnapped Merida and whisked her away from the Palace under the noses of the Emperor, the Empress and the majority of the Empire's nobility? There was something that didn't quite make sense, there were too many pieces that didn't quite fit. Evie was still convinced that they had to have known something. Cassandra perhaps wouldn't give it up; nor would her children. Ilyana, Luis, Mia, Eric... She was missing something, someone. There was already so much turmoil brewing with in them, with Oscar gone, the mantle must descend to Luis, despite his inexperience and apparent guilt. Were they the Dali- it would've passed on to Ilyana, the charitable girl, who had been as imperious as her mother, was a far more suitable choice. But, she felt as though she were discounting someone, and had resorted to writing their names down on the parchment. Half a letter, half a list of the damned. Certainly, the eldest one had died, Henry. And the second Eldest was Ilyana, but-- Godric. The second Son, not Luis, had the strongest claim. Godric, who was as far removed from the Uldwars as one could get. He had to be her salvation. It took another hour to write three letters. Two to Leizhen, one to her Lady Aunt, and, one more to Cousin Belos. It took another, for her to muss up her hair, add just the faintest of color to her cheeks and lips- just so, she looked haggard, desperate, terrified- but alluring. It was with a certain satisfaction that Evie reveled in the strange look that the attendant gave, as she pressed the missives into his hands, and asked for the whereabouts of a certain guest with a singed coat, and wild hair. He yielded to her wan, small smile with the weight of a gold coin pressed into his palm; now, he was warm, and sympathetic, and wouldn't she like for him to accompany her to the guests rooms? Evie didn't bother with a robe or the guard, and delivered a rapid series of insistent knocks on the door. The chemise was only ankle length, and breathable enough under covers; Evie resorted to hunching her shoulders before the door- no more concessions to the warning blaring in her blood. "Sir Cayne?" She called out, her voice breaking in dramatic affect. "Sir Cayne, it is I, Lady Goldcourt, would you please shelter me?" "I... I am afraid of staying by myself tonight." Tears welled with the desperate plea, a touch softer than she would've like it to sound. @Ataraxy
  8. I. Each day passed as the next. Adrift, wind billowing into triangular sails, the current ever pushing until Vesper Moontraveler told it stop. The sea always listens, but it never forgets and it never forgives. It had been two days. Two days since she returned to the Dali manor to arrange for an armed guard to accompany Cassandra and her children as the sought refuge in House Dali’s halls. Two days since she was interrupted from her contemplation before the gilded triptych altarpiece of the Uncanny Gods. She had stood, hands clasped behind her back, shoulders squared, the blue linen of her fresh shirt tucked into her trousers, her blonde hair damp—not quite praying, but reflecting upon both stillness and the void above. There was a tug, she saw a flash of steel, and then there was only Jonathan. Anxious beads of sweat clung to his brow. How had the under-butler, spry for over twenty years, aged so suddenly? The tension of her unspoken question was answered with a single name. “Merida,” he whispered. “Lady Merida has been taken.” Her younger brother, Dominic, lingered around the corner. The pallor that clung to him was unnatural. Terse and gray beneath his tanned skin, the laughter he so often sung now absent. She watched him; how his sword hip angled slightly away from her, the subtle shift of his weight in his legs and feet, how he watched her like one watches a pacing tiger in a flimsy cage. Vesper bared her teeth. “I need details. Now. How could this happen on the Emperor’s grounds? She was supposed to be watched—the imperial guard demonstrating its imperial incompetence. It is an embarrassment, a further indication of their ignorant authority, it—“ She swallowed her rage and altered its direction. “Who took her?” Dominic cleared his throat. “Signs point to the Uldwars, although it is inconclusive at this point.” “Tansy and Eldwine seek her?” Both men nodded, both men observed the cold fury radiating from her. “Cowards,” she spat. “There was a point when the Uldwars had honor. I see it is but a distant memory.” Information could only travel so quickly, but the Wyrmwalkers had methods of extraction unlike any other. Vesper absorbed the further report Dominic shared silently. To dismiss them, she gave a curt nod of her head and turned back, facing the Gods once more. She closed her eyes, and she felt as though she were dragged beneath the surface of the sea. There was water in her lungs, in her mouth, in her ears, in her blood, in her skull, but she was not afraid. She breathed in salt, she opened her eyes, and she saw a blade. Guided by an unseen hand, it plunged into her heart. She opened her eyes, and she saw the illuminated portrait of Music’s human avatar pluck a rose from their garden, wearing a cruel smile for in their grasp was Pain. Vesper picked up a vase and shattered it against the sanctuary’s stone walls. Water pooled around broken porcelain before it was absorbed by the thick burgundy rug on the floor. The Gods would guide her, as they always did. They had granted her another gift: an oath in her head and a blade in her heart. She rubbed her knuckles against the gnawing emptiness spreading in her chest and left to seek wisdom from Halisera and Belos. II. Compasses would swirl uselessly in her presence. Land was unbearable, each step on solid earth brought her an agony she bore with a tightened jaw and clenched fists. Behind the closed door of her bedroom, she ran her hands through her cropped hair and gasped for air. Is this how Merida felt? Was she at sea? It had never been permitted, Vesper had never been allowed to take her out of Dali lands. Many times, they had stood along the shoreline, sea foam lapping at their toes. Stories and memories were locked inside of the Lieutenant, things forbidden to share. The girl knew little of her aunt, only that Vesper loved her. She knew even less of her father, only that his name was Evander and he was a Moontraveler. A cough wracked Vesper’s lungs. She spat out stinging saltwater into an empty jug of wine and thought of how satisfactory this, too, would shatter against the wall. A sketched portrait of a dark haired woman with lonely eyes rendered in charcoal stared at her with a sweetened sympathy. “I have to go,” Vesper confessed. She braced herself against another round of choking land-sickness. The blade in her heart twisted deeper. “She’s lost—“ her voice was a raw and foreign whisper “—and I have to go elsewhere.” III. A message bearing the Moontraveler seal, strictly for Lady Evienne Goldcourt Evienne, It is not your fault. It is mine. I placed the needs of another house above our own. Do you forgive me for my failure, Goldie? Dance your dance. I know you will know when to strike and when to smile. Should you return to the estate, do not expect me. Enclosed is a seer stone. Should you need me, submerge it in water. We can speak then. Moonie lV. A message folded on parchment, passed to a boy, en route to Demourte in Pirate’s Cove Bricks in the Basket Feed the Wolves well The Old Boars sail
  9. Just outside the Dali estate, a man approached, carrying with him a box, looking calm and easy going. If he had any idea what was in the simple brown box, he would be white as a ghost. All he really knew was that someone in a cloak gave him good coin to have this delivered to the Dali estate. Gold was gold, and in his town, it went for miles. Seemed nearly too good to be true, which he soon found would be as soon as he gave the package to the first man wearing a Dali patch he could find. “This is to go to Halisera as soon as possible.” The man known as George said, too busy thinking about how he was gonna spend his gold to think about the consequences that would come soon after. “It's from the sons and daughters of Ursa Madeum, which I guess would be me as well.” He said with a slight chuckle. Within the box was a ring finger, wrapped in a pink bow, with a thin gold ring still on it, the ring having been etched with a black spider. Underneath the bloody finger was a note, reading: Dali leaves Ursa Madeum for good, or the next box holds her head. Sincerely The True Sons and Daughters of Ursa Madeum @supernal @LikelyMissFortune
  10. The MOGAH is the brain-child of Ampelos Spiderwalker Dali in partnership with Evienne Goldcourt Dali [1], each of the Dali House of Ursa Madeum. The MOGAH can be found in Qrill, a township in Misral within (long) walking distance of the Tankred estate. Qrill [2] is an industry town with a suppressed artistic community which is finding its voice thanks to the various local exhibitions and contests hosted by the MOGAH. Because of the attention and tourist-based commerce that the MOGAH is bringint to Qrill, town leadership has agreed to install a Faux-ton [3] within walking distance for accessibility. Purpose The purpose of the MOGAH is to serve as a repository and showcase for the significant artistic and cultural creations of societies the world over. It combines artistic expression of any medium, from paintings to sculpture to whatever avant-garde happens to be in season, with the historical context of those pieces so that one can learn about a country through its people, its pieces, and its past. Security Not all inclusive; part of the security is that the best features are kept under lock and key so that thieves can't prepare for them. In terms of design a number of security features are concerned with keeping a thief inside as they are with deterring theft in the first place Pressure and weight sensitive podiums and tiles Night-vision and infrared sensors Ex-military Recon officers for strategy and on-premise guard duty 360-degree visibility from museum Man-traps
  11. With their fixation on funneling improved technology and infrastructure into the islands, Singlance was undoubtedly onto something. It helped that they were onto the same thing that Ursa Madeum was on during Decamron's reign, when their tentative alliance with the mainland allowed them to lay hands on the manifold gifts of Empire, before that brief but painful dark age that set them all back generations and surrounded them in the smoldering ruins of their shattered culture. And now they were here again, on the very cusp of transcendence into a greater collective being. Ampelos checked his pocket watch. His voyage from Gold Harbor to Misral was into its tenth hour; they set sail in the bleak, gray morning and could see Misral's jagged edge in the light of a mature afternoon. He made his way off the deck and into the ship's interior, to his cabin, to put away the few belongings he brought with him and prepare to debark. The boat rocked when it ground itself ashore and Ampelos betrayed his competence by swaying with the motion, letting it carry him out, then up, then over. Between Misral and Thraece as candidates for a second internal faux-ton relay, MIsral was the obvious choice. Thraece was riddled with pirates – you jam enough armed, drunken, often desperate men and women together and you learn to expect certain things to come out on the other side of the equation. Misral, on the other hand, was brimming over with mineral resources, their metalworking industry was non pareil, and, most importantly of all, it was home to House Tankred. He could see the future standing on the shoulders of that family. The Biazo vineyard was already bringing in some disposable income. He used a portion of this to rent himself a horse and rode it hard towards, but not into, the Tankred estate.
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