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  1. Argi was almost prepared to collapse. He hadn't eaten properly in... what, a week? Since arriving in Casper, he had quickly realised that the only meals one could find within the city were ones that you could pay for - whether paying for the whole service or just ingredients - and he had run out of money soon enough, though he hadn't had much left by the time he got here anyway. While the possibility of work had crossed his mind, he realised there was no time to try and find it - he had to warn everyone of the danger in Dougton. So, he had. Day in, day out, Argi had gone from the 'shantytown' in which he had made himself resident, to the 'train station' that lay at the city's heart. He knew Ignatz to possess a similar hub of transport, and indeed, from what he had briefly read of the map, it seemed the two were connected. Either way, he knew many travellers would pass through it, and he had hoped at least some had skill enough with sword or spell, and an understanding of the situation's urgency, as to convince them to join in his quest. It... hadn't gone well. Some were simply dismissive. The military were dealing with it. If it was such a big threat, wouldn't we have been told? How much do you pay anyway? Ultimately the frustration became too much each evening, and the young man from the mountains retreated to the broken shelter of an overturned boat, both to bawl his eyes out, and to then get some sleep. A few times he had been awoken from it. Once by a friendly face warning him that the city police - responsible for enforcing law and order in the urban area - had been searching for him, thinking he had committed murder in Dougton. That night he found a different wreck to hide in. A few days later, having enjoyed the luxury of a corner that didn't pool with rain water - he was awoken to find someone trying to steal the boots off his feet, at which point he panicked and likely caved in their nose with his heel. It was back to the first boat after that. Then to the station again, with the increasingly decayed remnants of the Enrele he had procured. More and more he felt like the crazed individual he was aware that the people here saw him as. Vaguely, he had a feeling that someone, somewhere, had said that the definition of insanity was to try something over and over again, to somehow expect different results. So what a relief then, however strange it should be, that someone actually talked to him. More than one, even. Some perhaps were motivated by the sheer novelty of it all; maybe thinking him some overly dramatic storyteller, more than someone with a true fear upon his mind. There were however those that lingered. A few faces perhaps proving familiar, even. Though still somewhat set to collapse, Argi's confidence had grown considerably. People were listening. Ready to join him in this fight, when all he had to offer was the opportunity itself. Even without food in his stomach, or clean clothes, he was half-prepared to leap right from the crate had used as a podium, and rush right back to Dougton with this small force! But another came. One that extended a piece of parchment to him. There was an awkward moment as he was forced to explain that he was still working on being able to speak Terran, and even moreso read it. So the messenger - revealed to be a child as they spoke - told him simply that he, and any others present, should come to the 'Wyrm's Bane', before they departed. What might have otherwise been an hours long search for some pub or vessel by the name was cut rather drastically short by Argi's revelation that he had, in fact, seen that ship - and it was a ship, which he had come to know as how Terrans ascribed very large boats - every day for the last several days. It was, as he would show to his entourage, a junked vessel that had sat along the coast of the shantytown in which he had been living; how long, he obviously was uninformed enough as to know. But with its name emblazoned across the side - if missing a few letters, presumably having fallen somewhere into the water below - its identity was unmistakable. Further, Argi and any others would quickly realise, the lights were on. At least, in one part of the ship they are. That was enough to convince Argi, reduced to carrying the parasite's corpse in a bag he had salvaged from the area, to step aboard. Through halls that were caked in dust, coated in cobwebs, and browned by rust - or perhaps mould - the man from the mountains walked, until arriving at a large, open room, in which they was arranged a vast table, and around it, several more that had been waiting for seemingly quite a while. Argi could see one person in particular sat at the table that had an... air around her, which he quickly took to mean that this had all been at her arrangement. "Are you... here about the Enrele?" He asked first, just to make sure that no-one had gotten lost in coming here, before he quite simply spilled out the parasite - what little was left of it - upon the table. Its sacs had burst, and its stingers chipped, but still seeing it like this unnerved the very man that had brought it here. Not sure it wouldn't somehow just pop up from the table and attack. "Because I fight them. Going to fight Aleth. Promised the children in Dougton." Argi made his simple declaration, and waited to hear what the response would be...
  2. In Dougton, there was once an orphanage. It was capable of housing 24 children - quite the feat for a single headmistress. It was a gorgeous home with an inviting layout. Though it's headmistress had long ago disappeared, and various schemes had been planned behind it's walls, it had finally been given hope once more. Rebirth through the war, an opportunity to help. Those children displaced by the current civil war are most welcomed, with open (though slightly green) arms. The orphanage runs off of self-sustainability, a small farmyard behind the house, and lanterns to light their way. Children who come to this place are taught all the basic skills, as well as how to defend themselves to some minor degree. This is to hope that they will never become victims to tyranny, or will choose to stand against what they know is wrong. A strong sense of moral Justice is offered to those willing to learn it. For the moment, the orphanage only houses several children. While scared and distrustful, they have come to think of the orphanage as a second home where they will be protected and safe. Dhizzandra watches over them with pleased determination. The Dryad is simply happy to have a place to belong in this world - and she is pleased to help others, as well. Children 5 Adults 18 Completion of necessary buildings 50% Important threads/children acquisition: Home of the Brave. Children currently available for adoption: Blairville children: Peter – Age 12 – Blonde and amber eyed. He is a cautious, but brave young man who dislikes bullying. Lucy – Age 8 – Shy and slow to trust, a little bit bossy, as well. Lucy is definitely a kid who requires patience. Ruby – Age 6. Sweet and all too trusting, she’s got a sweet tooth like no other, however. Adopted by Rabbit. Izral Children: Susan – Age 14 – An older, jaded girl who was rescued by Jericho from a brothel in Izral. She doesn’t have much hope for the world, but she’s learning that not everyone is bad. Adopted by Danzilla3 Brinley – Age 8 – Young and cheerful, she takes joy in simple things. Jessica – Age 6 – Another young and cheerful child. She likes butterflies and flowers, but we aren’t into the flavor red this week. William – age 4. – This young boy loves to run in mud puddles and play with worms, as young boys tend to do. Caitlyn – 6 months – Often influenced by William regarding bugs and mud. She particularly dislikes nap-time. Derrick – Age 10 – Idolizes Peter and wants to protect the others from ever being treated poorly again. He’s often defensive on first meetings. Jonathan – Age 1 – Babbles with attitude. Hates diapers. Andromeda – Age 6 months – Sleeps a lot, when not screaming. Daniella – Age 10 – Sullen and moody, prone to dramatics. Kendra – Age 12 – Preteen. No more need be said. Adopted by Rabbit.
  3. In the fleeting moments of the month’s lunation, when the moonless skies are a shadow amongst the landscape, a cataclysm manifests. Though the stars desire to boast in the aphotic world, the manifesting chaos devours their efforts through its own grandiosity. The wind screams prayers loud and clarion with ambition. It permeates the air and rises to the darkness of the heavens. There's a purr in response; oscillations radiate through the atmosphere and make the very imagery of the night shiver with the fear. Ripples turn to mist, mistaken for clouds at first glance until they slither like snakes. The ebony hues are seen only because the mist steals the darkness, leaving traces of a cerulean flickering in their wake. Thus, the skies are not dyed their depressing color through the abandonment of the moon, but through the toxins of iniquitous magic. As the serpents glissade to a center, the heavens become fissures of blue light with rapid motions between the black . It looks like a great cage of souls screaming for freedom. The chants in the wind become clamorous, sadistically excited at the vision above. Joining are the cries of ravens transpiring from the remaining darkness. Their caws echo ominously around the gathering mist as it begins to pulse. Then it starts to take form. No… Her voice echos the loudest, piercing through the environment but utterly ignored. This cannot happen… The sound is more desperate and louder than before, but still dismissed as the conglomerated mist spreads out like wings and a body drapes like a cloak upon the land. The mere touch of it steals life and turns it to rot. Valucre feels so inexplicably cold. The ravens dance around with insanity. Their disheveled feathers rain heavily…and the world begins to darken. It rains...and darkens more. And more. And more. ~ ~ ~ ~ The Matriarch threw herself up from her bed, a sharp grasp in her throat and eyes blazing brightly with magic. Her pearl skin resembled melting snow the way it sweat, and was inked with the streaks of stuck on locks. The pause without breath or beat faded and she slouched, compressing her hand to her throbbing forehead and breathing heavily and harshly. The internal burn of Third Eye felt like it was spreading to her entire face. She could have sworn it would burst into flames. She sat there for an entire minute, racing to catch her panicking breath and hold it still, but then finally gathered her surroundings. She was within the witches’ chambers, the second tallest tower within the orcs fortress. The smell of the orcs permeated her nostrils, unique to her room yet common to the fortress—the other witches had magically cast the smell out her chambers. They were not viciously raised by the orcs they now enslaved. She hatred the orcs with all her might, but still felt too familiar with their smell to relinquish it from her chambers. None of the mattered, the smell brought her to reality—that she was home—and also shred the horrible light that whatever she was witnessing was a premonition. She didn't dream. Suddenly a loud grunt rung throughout the room from beneath her door. The Bodyguard, her personal orc guide and protector, was checking in on her. He was an orc of little words, but obviously sensed the disruption. She didn’t answer, only ran her white hand through her long hair before covering her mouth and thinking. Luna was gone, on a search for two lost sisters within the Dark Forest. The mission was too important to disrupt , but this was too important to wait. The sky was moonless, it was the New Moon. Or was it? If it was...her premonition would come to be in only five days. She needed assistance, to consult another sister. The sound of wool shuffled from her naked thighs and she elevated herself from the bed. Her thread was odd and uncoordinated and her eyes lacked focus—she was born blind. Normally it wasn’t a problem, but the excessive use of her Third Eye made her other means of sight fatigued and thus the world was very dark. Her hands felt along the wall, searching for her memorized placement of armor. When she left her chambers, she was dressed in her metallic attire. Beside the door, a gargantuan black coated orc turned his head sharply at her. Crimson eyes took in her own demeanor and shuffling stride, but he remained still. Though he acknowledged her, she did not him. Instead she placed her hand along the wall, using it a guide as she walked down the spiral stairs of the tower. Her magic called out to the witches still within the fortress. “Sisters…Is anyone there? I need your counsel. Please come to me. I'm in our tower.”
  4. It had been a few years since John had come through Dougton; largely because he couldn't stand the place. An entire continent full of cutting edge magitech, and these morons wanted to live like ascetics; doing as much as they could by hand. It was like visiting the land that time forgot in many respects, not helped by the smug attitudes of many who chose to live there. Like they were somehow better than anyone else because they opted to needlessly make their lives more difficult. But, he had to admit, there were a few things that he liked about the city. The citizenry's love of food meant that they had some of the most delicious cooking anywhere in Terrenus; and their police force produced some of the best swordsmen in the world. He had killed one once, and he could say without doubt that the man would have killed him if his healing factor wasn't as potent as it was. Still, he wasn't sure what Eliza, one of his newest employees chose here of all places. He figured now would be a good time to ask, and looked over to her as they walked down the street. "You could have opened your branch anywhere in Terrenus, and you choose Dougton? Help me understand my dear." @Aleksei
  5. Westward, had been the direction Argi decided upon after all his other escapades had tried to draw him back north east. Westward, he had travelled, with only a vague notion as to his actual path. Westward, he had walked, for he had not the coin with which to afford the self-driven carriages that so many Terrans possessed. Well, not enough of the right kind, at any rate. What he had was good for gathering supplies, including a sturdy satchel that was presently slung over his shoulder, carrying much of the rations that had gotten him through the weeks. Though more a goatherd than hunter, he had supplemented his supplies with various small mammals, birds, and fish, Westward, had been the direction Argi decided upon after all his other escapades had tried to draw him back north east. Westward, he had travelled, with only a vague notion as to his actual path. Westward, he had walked, for he had not the coin with which to afford the self-driven carriages that so many Terrans possessed. Well, not enough of the right kind, at any rate. What he had was good for gathering supplies, including a sturdy satchel that was presently slung over his shoulder, carrying much of the rations that had gotten him through the weeks. Though more a goatherd than hunter, Argi had supplemented his supplies with various small mammals, birds, and fish, though not always with success. Still, it was enough to survive the travels be endured, through valley and hill and plain, all of which were at least blanketed in grass, others sheltered by great swathes of forest. The geographical features of the lowlands were not so unfamiliar, he had found, but they were taken to such a scale that he could hardly conceive of prior, atop the mountains. The road came to an end, at last, in a valley where what blanketed the area was not woodland - though there was much of that surrounding it - but buildings. Simple, similar, yet each ever so slightly unique structures; where one could tell the likes of Ignatz was crafted by tradesmen and these 'machines' the Terrans apparently liked to apply, each of these seemed as though a hut built for one's self, or perhaps by a community together. The sheer difference in atmosphere between the two cities was astonishing; truly, to a mind like Argi's, that had grown so accustomed to simply accepting the likes of Ignatz to be what a 'city' was, then it was arguable Dougton was no city at all. But, that was the wording on the sign as he entered the area; while Argi's understanding of Terran was still limited, it was growing. He at least knew the individual letters and how to sound them out now on reading them, which made familiar turns of phrase easier to pick up on. Now, Argi had come to Dougton as the sun was bidding farewell from the world, perhaps an hour or two before it would disappear below the horizon. With that in mind, and having endured enough of the outdoors these last few weeks, the stranger to these lands - both immediate and general - was quick to inquire as to the location of what the Terrans referred to as an 'inn'. Though his precise pronunciation stumbled a few people, he was eventually pointed in the direction of an establishment by the name of the 'Lovely Giant', whatever that second thing was. As Argi wandered towards the southern side of the city, he could not help but watch the people there, and how they watched him. It was... unusual. True, he had little reference otherwise, and all had indicated that he was some way obviously not like the locals wherever he went, but there was... something else in it. Something that had him looking over both shoulders every few steps, until he had arrived at his destination. The doors swung open before him easily enough, and he was greeted by a warm atmosphere in all regards; a jovial mood, the soft glow of many candles, and a noticeable heat, along with the gorgeous scent of something being cooked. Fiddling with pieces of metal in a satchel pocket, Argi wandered across to where a short wall rose up from the floor, having identified this to be a common way the owner of an establishment separated themselves from their customers, in Terran culture. "What you have?" He asked, plainly and simply. Some half hour later, and Argi was digging his teeth into something he certainly hadn't found out in the wilds - beef. Indeed, meat of the cattle had been something reserved for special occasion atop the mountains, difficult as they were to rear on the short grass, yet it seemed to be... still relatively expensive, but much less so, down here. Yet even as he ate his food, he couldn't tune out the rest of the inn. All truths told, he had never been good with not listening, and it was in moments like these he somewhat regretted it. There was so many people making so much noise... it hastened his breathing a bit, and he focused even more upon his food. Yet, even then... "It happened again." Someone said at another table. "Whose this time?" Someone else answered. Argi was trying to avoid looking, so he knew no faces, but he could still hear them so. "Loran's kids. Both of them." "Wyrm be damned, there'll be no kids left in this city at this rate." "It's not that many yet..." "Certainly that makes two dozen this month alone!" "Just remember to lock all your doors and windows tonight..." "So thankful mine are too old for this, whatever it is..." Argi couldn't quite resist any longer, and turned his head towards the table. Mostly old men, but a few women as well. They didn't seem to notice that the young man's attention was upon them... and he let it slip before they might do so. He had, he realised, finished his plate, and he figured it proper custom - regardless of where in the world he was - to return it, hastily gathering up all remains and instruments before he rushed up from his seat... face first into someone. Another thing he had realised since coming to the lowlands - he was shorter than a lot of people down here.
  6. Howl was not superstitious individual by nature, nor was he particularly religious. Truth be told, he’d never found much truth in any particular religion. Not that he doubted the existence of any deity, the sheer fantastical element of warfare throughout Alterion served to dissuade of any atheistic notions he may have once felt. He did, however, heavily doubt a deities involvement in the daily life of this world’s denizens. No doubt a god(s) existed, but Howl always felt quite adamantly that theirs concern for any one soul was functionally non-existent. So, not for the first time today he admonished himself as a hypocritical ass for expecting some divine hand to cure him simply because he prayed hard enough. If someone had told Howl (the old Howl, the care-free, no fucks given, mercenary) that he’d make a pilgrimage to Palgard, Terrenus, of all fucking places, to drop to his knees in the dirt and beg that a statue of some tree hugging dipshit show mercy on him...well, suffice it to say, laughs would have been had. The local priest he’d spoken to regarding his affliction beseeched Howl not to lose hope. There was always the chance that the statue could still fix him, with some outside help. Why there was a merchant in Dougton seeking the recovery of his relic from some cult and if remembered correctly, just maybe they had something to do with birds? He’d left Palgard some number of days ago and drowned his sorrows as best he could before seeing to the second biggest crisis on his plate, the accrual of currency, far faaaaaar down on the list below being turned into an owl-man. Yes, despite his mighty need to shed these feathers, Howl was faced with the same problem every poor slob in existence was forced to endure: the quest for coin, scratch, moolah, and/or fat stacks of cold hard cash. It was largely this need for employment and a tiny, slim, minuscule, infinitesimal glimmer of hope that led the erstwhile bird man to Dougton, wherein a local merchant called for a group of adventurers to recover a relic from cultists hiding out somewhere in the city. Would it be as fulfilling as his standard adventuring work? He highly doubted it. Was it perhaps connected to his current predicament? Sure, anything was possible, but his hopes weren’t high. The merchant’s shop was around the corner from The Lovely Giant Tavern and Inn: The Blind Dwarf - Accessories, Antiques and Artifacts. Nestled between two other relatively unassuming buildings, the shop was larger inside than Howl expected it to be. Jewelry and trinkets were scattered about in a variety of display cases. There was a decidedly ‘old world’ ambience, whether from the rustic decor or surrounding antiquities, Howl couldn’t tell. A large ‘U’ shaped work table was planted in the center of the shop, the tools necessary for shaping precious gemstones (Howl guessed) were laid out in a meticulous pattern. A bell sounded as Howl crossed the threshold, prompting a stout figure to peek out from behind the work table, his head only just clearing the countertop at his standing height. “G’morn. Anything marked with a red tag is half-off. This week only.” Howl was unable to see the dwarf’s eyes behind the loupe glasses, he wore, but did notice more than one set of magnifying lenses affixed to the eye ware. His beard was close-cropped, with bronze colored skin visible beneath the fine colored hairs in the right light. A warped planters hat rested atop his head, balancing a pair of thick rimmed spectacles. “Ah...uh...I’m Howl. I’m here about the job...” There was a pregnant pause as the dwarf tilted his head in confusion. “The relic...thing. Some cult took it, I gue–“ “Oh!” The dwarf exclaimed. “Yes the job posting! It’s been ages since I placed it, I’d nearly written it off as forgotten. I’m Halfdan Kole, the owner.” Halfdan moved to shake Howl’s hand from over the table before realizing he’d never reach. Climbing into his chair, the Dwarf stood y’all and leaned over to clasp hands with the mercenary. “I get one of you folks in here every now and then, but most of ya return with no luck. Not that I don’t trust our boys that protect the streets, but priorities being what they are, I can’t expect them to drop everything and scour the city...and I can’t very well do it myself. Got the shop to run. Is it just the one of you? You’d have better luck with more...Dougton’s bigger than you’d think. Not that I’m not sure you’re adequate enough, but before I start pontificating on the minutes of the job, I’d like to be sure I’m not repeating myself...not that I mind conversation per se, just seems like some folk talk these days with no goal in sight...just an aimless babble of nonsense. I had a boss like that once, went in and on about himself. Most self-obsessed man I’d ever met...not selfish though. Very generous. Loaned me the money to start this place up, but that was ages ago...” Howl waited patiently for an opportunity to interject, but found no such reprieve. It seemed he was at the mercy of the talkative award for the time being. Oh good god, he prayed. Please help me. @Garion @Thotification @Infernal
  7. There were many in the land of Terrenus who knew the ways and customs of Dougton, Eriko was not one of them. Despite being born in Casper and traveling all over the continent with her merchant father, she knew and understood very little about its different cultures. That was probably how she found herself in this situation. She had recently traveled to the town of Dougton from Casper, offloading large quantities of silk at such a low margin that she nearly wept. It was then that she heard of a man who was rather reclusive, and liked to collect antiquities. This alone wouldn’t have been enough to pique her interest, she didn’t have anything that would be of interest to the man, so an easy sale wasn’t her lure. It was the tales of debauchery and villainy that were spread by a doomsayer that preached from an overturned box in the market. This man wasn’t particularly exceptional, not by any means of the imagination. In fact, Eriko had seen thousands of them in her travels across Terrenus, there was always someone who thought the world was ending or that mole people were going to invade. But, as the man shuffled erratically back and forth on top of his box, thrusting a rusted and pitted iron cage to and fro and screaming about demons bringing about the end of Casper, she couldn’t help but feel a growing sense of excitement. Could demons really be coming? Could this man, Alban Moore, truly be able to summon creatures from another plane of existence? He wouldn’t be the first person in history to be able to summon beings from another plane, but the rarity of the ability was a draw that she couldn’t resist. Imagine, her, seeing a real, living, summoner! She tingled with excitement at the thought. She moved through the crowd, getting closer to the man and his cage, and was stunned to see a small lizard like creature with two small nubby horns protruding from its skull. The creature seemed to be upset about being swung round and round, and alternated between attacking the rusted iron bars and swiping at its captor. This was the real deal; she needed to find this man and speak with him. She rushed off to find her cart, spending no more time than necessary to wrap up the transfer of gold back to the banks of Casper and send a note to her father giving word of her delay. Then, she unhitched her horse from the caravan, asked a few people where to find Alban Moore, and raced off into the surrounding hillside. It was not a long trip, Dougton was a large city by every stretch of the imagination, but it was extremely dense. It was only once you reached the outer limits of the city proper and entered the farmlands that you stopped fighting the crowds. As she and her horsed cantered quietly across the rolling hills, she kept her eye out for the sign post indicating her ultimate destination. She muttered the instructions to herself as she rode, keeping them fresh in her mind. “Follow the main road out of town, turn on Moore Drive, then straight on until his manor.” The path down the main road had been quite pleasant, very flat, only curving slightly upward as it climbed out of the valley. Moore Drive, however, was less maintained, almost overrun with long grass and shrubs that made the entire road seem claustrophobic. As if a predator was hiding amongst the long grass, waiting for the perfect moment to strike; It was difficult to resist the urge to spur her horse forward at a gallop. Eventually though, the path opened up and she found herself mere yards from the front of the manor. Calling it a manor was probably too conservative, this was a full-blown compound. Tall fences lined the exterior of the compound, topped with razor wire. The building itself was a four-story monstrosity that loomed over her, and she couldn’t help but wonder why she hadn’t been able to see such a large building from afar, even with the tall grasses blocking her view. The building had two large wings, extending back away from the front entrance, creating that ever popular horseshoe style. The walls were made of dark stone, which was an odd choice of construction material in comparison to the rest of the buildings that had lined the streets of Dougton, which were mostly constructed from wood. Despite the imposing appearance that the building struck when she first lay her eyes on it, the front gate was propped open, as if inviting travelers to come inside. She nudged her horse forward, walking it inside the tall metal fence and into the front yard of the compound. There was a hitching post attached to the front porch of the manor so she tied the horse there and made her way up the front steps. Large wood doors loomed over the porch, twice her height and nearly as wide, they looked solid enough to stop a charging bull. She reached out and pounded the heel of her fist against the door. She had assumed that such a solid looking door would require a lot of effort to create a loud enough knock, but it boomed and the door actually creaked open a few inches. Was she just supposed to go in? Was there an attendant in the foyer that would be waiting for her? She assumed that such a place would lock the front entrance if they didn’t want people to just wander in. So, she pushed the door all the way open and stepped inside. As her eyes adjusted to the lower light of the room, she was able to take in the level of opulence laid before her. Thick rugs covered the floors, ornate pieces that were woven with golden threads, tapestries depicting all manner of scenery covered the walls, a crystal chandelier hung from the ceiling, several low tables of dark wood were surrounded by thick leather armchairs. Two fireplaces with no apparent chimney’s flanked the room, fires roaring in their hearth. But, no one was present, the room was entirely empty and devoid of life. She couldn’t help but tenuously break the silence. “Hello?”
  8. "Go go go go!" "Go go go go!" "Go go go go!" Feverish chanting could be heard echoing throughout the streets. A large group of people, identical to waht you would expect to be circled around those who would watch two people duking it out in the street had formed. And in fact, that indeed was what currently going on in front of them. However, the two were not using their fists, but their mouths and stomachs. There were two people sitting on stools in front of a counter for a famous noodle shop, and the crowd around them were cheering not for a battle of fists, but a battle of stomachs. A food eating contest. And the contestants were a young boy with green hair, and a larger man who was in his mid thirties at least. The two of them had already gone into the double digits of noodle eating. Neither of them were using magic either, this was a contest between men (well, a man and a boy) for their honor of food lovers, to prove they were the greatest. Around them, there were four others who had already passed out. As for what the winner got...it was their bill totally negated. There were orphans there as well who had been tempted to compete and try for that free meal, but they decided not to after seeing the reigning champ appear. Having met him already, they knew they had no hope and decided to cheer on instead. "Eat, eat, eat, eat!" As for the chefs, they themselves did not mind. After all, this was a sign of just how much their cooking was loved. Truly, the two in front of them were not doing this JUST to compete. They were smiling as they ate, clearly enjoying every noodle they were served. It was just a simple fact that their food was this loved, that their hard work was this admired that people were willing to stuff themselves with it. "Eat, eat, eat, eat!" The chanting continued as the two continued to eat...and then finally, one finally collapsed from being full, and from sheer pleasure. "The winner, and once again the champion, Momo Moryan!" "Woo hoo!" "He did it again!" "Where does he fit it all?!" "Are you sure he didn't use magic?" "Nope! I was actively searching for it, no magic was used!" "Yeah! The boss did it!" "We love you boss!" There were all sorts of cheering, including a few of the orphans who refered to him as Boss after this incident with just few low level thugs that had apparently been trying to harass the Refuge...although it was really poor planning in Momo's opinion, it was not even enough to be a quest he thought personally. Well, with all that settled....Momo finished the food in front of him, and asked if he could take some more to go. The chefs happily complied and finished Momo's order, and Momo stored the To Go part in his bag before he walked out into the city. He didn't live in Dougton, but he loved to go around and explore and adventure all over, including places he had already been. To him, the entire world was new, and he wanted to experience all of it. "Now, is anything going on today?" "Irregular activity detected detected in the Eastern Section in the city. Authorities are on high alert, but broadcasts for backup have been put out. Due to the proximity of big and important places such as the Magistrate and the Granery, they seem to be trying to push it east out of hte city...but instead, its heading south..." "SOuth....hold on, is it by the Eastern Bridge then?" "Confirmed". "Isn't the Refuge south of that?" "Confirmed". "Advi, I need speed. We need to get there now". "Applying Wind Boost and Physical Boost Glyphs". As Advi said that, a Physical Boost Glyph appeared on his back and on each of his heels a Wind Boost Glyph appeared. Momo then began to break into a full run, even going so far as to jump over any one story buildings, or even two story when he could, to get there. Momo tended to be a shy and reserved person, despite appearances. It might not be noticeable at first glance, but he was someone who actually was on guard all the time, and didn't trust easily. However, he was also a good and kind hearted person, so...he didn't want any other children to suffer like him. "Status of the battle?" "The irregularity appears to be some sort of summoned being. It appears to be highly skilled, as it has so far been able to defeat any guard that came to fight it. That said, based on analysis, victory is possible for us. Contact in ten seconds". Momo just cleared another block, when it finally came into view. It was still on the other side of the bridge, however...it was nothing like he had seen before. It was some sort of lizard or reptile, but it was on two legs and had powerful and sharp claws on its hands, one of which was holding a badly wounded soldier. It also had four eyes, two yellow and two purple. The scales were hardened and black, with traces of ash and other attacks being done on it. However, it appears to have taken little damage so far. And in its tail, it was holding a large sword. Suddenly, two Defense Glyphs appeared on Momo's shoulders while the Physical Boost and Wind Boost Glyphs got bigger and stronger. Momo slammed his feet into the ground and pushed with all his force, launching himself right at the creature. Mustering his strength, he punched the arm that was holding the guard...and pretty much broke the arm clean off, freeing the soldier while removing the limb. "Well, that wasn't too....oh..." Momo thought he scored a great victory there, but then the lizard regenerate his arm like it was nothing. It then brought forth a huge amount of fire from its mouth and breathed it right at Momo. "Deploying Barrier Glyphs. Warning, as it can breath fire, Fire Magic and Attacks will likely be ineffective against it". As Advi said that, a barrier Glyph appeared and formed a barrier protecting Momo from the attack. "Understood. Utili..." Momo was about to give an order, but found himself having to roll and duck as a sword almost came to try and cut off his own head. Even if he could reflect at least a portion of physical force, even if the attack only cut his neck a little, bleeding from that place would have dire consequences. "I see...strong and skilled. Very well! I will accept this quest, and the rewards!" As he said that, the sleeves on his arm, which were actually not connected to his shirt and left his shoulders bare, seemed to transform or shapeshift into gauntlets. "Alright lizard, lets fight!"
  9. As on most nights, the Pixie & Bottle was in wont of custom, and the bartender, Bully — so named for the gold ring between his nostrils, not the pleasure he derived from tormenting people — made it obvious, heaving long sighs and grumbling to himself, his hands working a rag over an already clean glass for the dozenth time. Once, the tavern had been a celebrated landmark, a hangout for adventurers and mercenaries, magicians and swordsmen; and both money and drinks flowed through its doors, like the milk and honey of a promised land. Now, well, at least you could still order milk and honey. “You’ve already cleaned that one,” Valdas said, absently flicking a coin so that it spun, tracing a lazy, circular path, spinning, spinning… “Shuddap!” Bully shouted, pairing his gruff tone with a hard look, but, despite his broad shoulders and the slabs of muscle across his arms and chest, the old man was thrice a father, and twice a grandfather, now. And he had never been much of a thug. His expression crumbled away and became a grin. Bully put the glass away and then slung his rag over one shoulder. With no distraction, he took the opportunity to loom instead, and placed himself in front of Valdas, folding his arms across the chest, one massive limb over the other. Gaia, but Valdas pitied the men that had went after Bully’s daughter. Giant’s blood gave him his stature and build, and, although Valdas himself had never seen the man utter so much as an unkind words, rumors said that nobody wanted to be near Bully when he did get riled up. Valdas echoed the sentiment. “Why’re you here, Val?” Bully asked him, drawing Valdas from his thoughts. His coppery coin was a half-beat from falling over, but, before it could clatter to the counter, Bully plucked it up and disappeared it into the folds of his clothes. “It’s Friday night. Go out. Meet a girl, get married, have kids — quit bothering me.” Bully beamed down at him. “Nah.” Valdas met Bully’s grin with his own. “Besides, something’s ‘bout to happen. Soon.” He pulled his left arm back, where he had hid a hand from the Deck of Bones. Skeletal faces on four cards, with a fifth, this one depicting an image of Death, stared up from the counter. The cards alternated between inverted and not, which Valdas had interpreted as anticipated fortunes, maybe good, maybe bad; he didn’t know, only that things were in flux. “Boy—” Bully opened his mouth, but Valdas held up a hand in a consoling gesture. “I know, you hate the cards, but it’s the same draw every time. I—” He turned as the door behind hi chimed. Bully grunted. “—not this soon,” Valdas muttered.
  10. Set outside the spectral district of Dougton, nearest to the main square sets a disembodied pearl-painted wooden door. Carved into the wood of the standing door on it's entering side reads 'CHILDREN ONLY'. It was only the night of it's first being set up, but the local police had already set up signs saying 'DO NOT ENTER' around it. Any attempts the officers over the age of seventeen has been met with severe burns upon grasping the brass door knob through their entire bodies. Those that tried to break the door with axes had fireballs shot at them from the decorative Iron gargoyle archway perched on the doorframe. The axe marks left in the wood seemed to methodically heal itself, the wood seeming to pulse and live and grow. There were talks amoungst the grown ups to hire some powerful dispelled to properly dismantle this scourge upon the town that threatened the children, while the actual children seemed drawn to the door with awe and fascination. The fliers that the strangely dressed man had sent out attached to the near by orphanage and was proving itself extremely difficult to remove. One of the head mistresses had found that the fliers fell easily into the hands of the children, and so set those children all day to peel off the fliers one by one. The fliers read in glittering golden print: " Seeking all ages, children born for adventure! Treasure and glory (most importantly fun) await you here! Tired of only having bugs and cats to slay and wish to hold a sword in your hand? Come in to the door in the square, and if you do survive, only glory and gold can be had for you here! Hate the head of the orphanage and wish she would go away? Wish you could afford a house to get you off the streets? All are welcome in Taddius's Dungeon for Tot's!" ( The rest is colorful illustrations of birds gently pecking holes into cactuses and filling the holes with ribbons in a cheerful watercolor) The whole town was alight with whispers and rumors about both the fliers and the doors, and out of fear kept their children closer in the day. Already through the chaos of the day some children had managed to sneak in to the terror of the adults. Children's minds blind to the danger and seeking only adventure and reward. Those who had went earlier by themselves had yet to come out, to the extreme worry of their parents and other townsfolk. But, this was night. Only one police officer stood guard, dozing on a near by bench in the quiet streets near the haunted and cursed alleyways only a couple blocks away. A fountain in the center of the square gently gurgled away, and the vagrants around it were sound asleep.
  11. The air was familiar, spicy and warm – like a cold winter evening huddled near a fire with a cup of cider. It fluttered on the breeze over the fields and gardens that lined the streets and outter limits of the small city – and Dhizzandra was immediately filled with a familial warmth. Some of the city looks as though it has seen better days, the small and well-built homes practical and non-imposing as they lined the streets leading in to the center. It was a quaint little city – she had to admit, and it was easy to see how such a place could produce someone like Barric. The dryad hoped he was well, as her thoughts passed to the young sorcerer who had assisted her when she first arrived in the land. She notices the lack of a Rail station, much to her disappointment. Ashton had spoken of them often, and she had wanted to see them first hand – but alas, she must wait it seems. Her nose leads her towards the Lovely Giant, and while she wishes desperately to satiate her curiosity with some of the food that Dougton is known for making – Dhizzandra has a mission. Those on the streets likely stare as the green skinned woman passes by, or perhaps they are simply used to this sort of attention, she wonders as she watches a gnome dart by – product in hand. Her attention turns back to the task at hand, however, and she meanders until she finds the abandoned building she is looking for. The Children’s Refuge was once an orphanage – if it could be called that – and over the years it has been home to many a people, both terrible and good. According to what knowledge was known, at one point it was a faux orphanage with the intention of research with psychic children behind it. All that, however, is in the past and the woman stared at the derelict building for a long moment, as if contemplating. Surely there was some sort of council she must seek to gain access. Dougton was a peaceful little village, it seemed, but she had no doubt that it’s law-abiding citizens would turn upon her. Spying a nearby officer, Dhizzanrda smiles brightly and moves to intercept. “Ah, excuse me, sir?!” Startled, the man peers at the strange flowers growing from atop her head, before raising a brow. “Yes?” “Might I ask who I can purchase a building from?” There is doubt in his gaze, and he scoffs. “You looking to settle down?” “Well, ideally, I’d like to run the orphanage. Building a home for kids who don’t have one has…kind of always been something I’ve aspired to do.” “Wellll….I suppose ya better go to the council. It’s the big building over there. Can’t miss it.” A wave of his hand in a general direction was given, and Dhizzandra pauses, blinking rapidly for a moment. “O..oh. Alright, thank you!” The dryad turns, and heads for the Town Council so that she may request permission to use the building once used by Sara Annette. The two story building had seen better days, but with some tender love and care, it could be a useful part of the city once more. 1/3.
  12. Part I: The Famine It was barely morning as the sun rose over the path which approached Loughmiller. A low-hanging mist parted in the wake of Mae-Lynn and her galloping steed, the pair stepping into the light from the shadows of the forest behind them. The day before her journey had been spent wandering Doughton’s center square in search of a suitable beastly companion for her journey. The time spent was maddening, but necessary. Mae needed a horse that could do two things: carry inventory and do so at full tilt. She fidgeted under the idea of lost time most of the day, fumbling through half-hearted negotiations on the worth of her family recipes in exchange, before she was finally free of the task and able to leave. Having arrived in Loughmiller so quickly after departing from the food mecha had her in high spirits, despite the fact she’d just sold off a treasured family secret. Gaia, Mom would be so upset right now... Just stay focused. It’s was only molasses. Mae approached the outskirts of the farming village, the road surrounded by boundless rows of various crops and other fruitful export. She caught a glimpse of the small square in the space between homes, seeing a handful of figures about the area. Maybe not too late, then. A few feet ahead, she noticed a small pile of undisturbed ashes in the road. Leading her horse around it, she glanced down at the oddity. Weird. A superstition? Upon entering Loughmiller, Mae dismounted and looked at the villagers standing in the center of town. There was no acknowledgement of the elf as she stood there in the shade of the buildings. Their stares went on for miles, framed by a visage skewed and drained of life. Eventually, as though delayed by an immense lethargy, some of the motionless citizens cast their gaze in her direction, watching the woman as she tied off her steed to a nearby post. “Hello!” she called out, somewhat ashamed of having energy at all. She hoped someone would be capable of answering, “I’m here about the notice! I would like to speak with someone - I’d like to help!” The center was dead quiet. There was no response. No bustle, no voices, no ambience of walking or conversation. Even the birds were silent; crows seated upon the rooftops of homes, staring, watching, waiting. For what, that was left to the imagination. No one acknowledged her request, but instead continued to observe her in complete, unwavering silence. She could feel every eye that laid upon her. “Uh...” Her hand found itself upon the hilt of her lancet as she backed toward one of the buildings, turning once close to peer through an open window. It was a general store. And by the looks of it, there was someone seated behind the register. “Here we go, I guess.” Easing a mild case of spook to the side, Mae reached for the door and let herself in. The place was otherwise empty. “Hello!” “AH - I mean, H-Hello!” A young gentleman behind the register jumped, “Place isn't the best for wandering travelers at the moment!" “So I’ve been reading,” she pulled the notice from her satchel and placed it on the counter, “I’m here in response to the notice. I specialize in healing and protection, I was going to start looking around for clues and - ” He adjusted his glasses, “A notice! Someone sent out a notice?! How much do ye know?!” Her gaze narrowed, “Well, sounds like no one can eat, for starters.“ “Gods it is the worst feeling! Every single time, just the sensation of the dust fallin’ away from yer fingers! The pangs are debilitatin’! Can ye make it stop?” His hands gripped her shoulders from across the counter, “Can ye?!” “Depends!” She winced, pointing down to the notice, “Can you help me figure out who wrote this? And maybe let me go...”
  13. On the road from Blairville to Mageside City, the boxer Jason Ortega had decided to stop at the rural farming town of Dougton, where once, one of the Watchers had defeated a demon called Leraje. Jason had long been a fan of the Watchers and their exploits, and according to the townspeople, it had been two years since the little farming town had been visited by the Angel Knight and his ally. The town had not much changed since then, but its grateful citizens had built a statue in their honor, on the exact spot that Leraje had been vanquished upon. Jason approached the statue with an awed expression, nearly dropping his gloves in the process. He stopped a short distance from it, allowing him to take the whole thing in. Built from gray marble, the statue depicted both Max and Ara, standing side by side over the prone demon, a vaguely humanoid figure dyed green with their swords upraised to strike him down. Max’s features had been rough hewn, but still were lifelike enough to show he was indeed the pretty boy of the group he belonged to - with shoulder length hair. Ara on the other hand was slender and willowy- with her wings proudly outstretched. Written on the statue’s base in common lettering were the words: “Angels on our shoulders. Saviors of our town.” “Enjoying the statue?” Came a voice behind him. Jason turned to face the speaker, a portly bearded man with a balding scalp of red hair with gentle blue eyes. From his garb and the flour stained apron, he was clearly a baker. “Yes I was.” He replied, turning back to the sculpture for a moment, then back at the man. “So the Angel Knight really did pass through here?” The baker nodded. “I was the first one he encountered. He damn near broke my arm.” To Jason’s surprise, the man chuckled. “Still I owe them both my life and soul. When they defeated Leraje, we were set free from his spell.” He took a few steps forward and put a hand on the statue’s base. “We will never forget their bravery, or the debt we owe them.” “Do you remember which way they said they were going?” Jason asked. “I’d like to try and meet them.” The baker nodded as he turned back to face him again. He pointed east. “The Hill of Lost Hearts. That is where the Angel Knight said he was heading. You might find him there.” “Thank you.”
  14. It had been about a week since his emersion from Barnstable Coast. After a night of rest, he was able to take to the skies once more to head north. For a few days straight he soared through the air with only the occasional flap from his titanic wings. Though even an animal with his level of endurance needed a break after some time. Besides, he needed to figure out exactly where he was and how far he's travelled. He needed to stretch his arms and legs out. With that in mind, the beast began to descend towards the rural farming town far below. Before long his talons touched on the ground with a loud thud and slight indentation on the ground from his immense weight. Getting a quick grasp of his surroundings, this was perhaps the best location to accidentally stumble upon. The threat level seemed low, but his ever present predatory instincts kept him perpetually on guard.
  15. Acreanda was walking in the rural town of Doughton looking to sample mead, when he found a tavern. Acreanda walked in, and immediately he noticed something was off. There was only two people there. Acreanda walked into the tavern and began to talk to the bartender. "Hello, one bottle of mead please," Acreanda said trying to lighten up the mood. The bartender walked off without saying anything and began making the drink. "Heard anything around town?" Acreanda tried again. The bartender handed him his drink and walked off. Acreanda then walked to the only other person in the bar. "Have you heard anything lately?" Acreanda said, struggling to make conversation. With Acreanda's short height, the man looked like the Empire State Building. "There's been talk about ghosts around town. Just like in the children's tales." The man said with a rough voice. That was the one thing this guy chose to say. Acreanda sat down and kicked his feet up. The only reason he is staying there is because the mead is so good. He looked at the job board and saw a poster. Missing: Harper Grace. Reward: $100. I'll do anything for that much cash. Then it showed and address. I'm going to be glad to leave this place Acreanda thought. Then, Acreanda saw that the posters were everywhere. Acreanda thought he knew where that was. Time to get my cash on! Acreanda was excited.
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