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  1. 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
  2. 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...
  3. While she was enjoying her drink in the tavern, a nearby farmhouse abruptly exploded. Debris began to hurtle in every direction, smashing the tavern windows and thudding against the walls, causing the curtains to catch fire from the flaming rubble. Addison dug her feet into the ground, pushing backward forcefully before falling out of her chair. "Tch-" she grunted in annoyance, pushing herself to her feet and rushing out of the tavern to see what was going on. Where the farmhouse once was, now lay a creature of terrifying proportions. As it walked, the debris below its feet began to melt and crumble. In itself, it was three stories high and length of the farmhouse had it not been reduced to ashes. It's gaping mouth let out large puffs of smoke, and its curved teeth gleamed menacingly as it began to assess the world around it curiously. Addison cursed, removing her Rose Orb from her belt and striding forward rapidly as villagers began to sprint away from the scene. Once more, her vacation had been cut short. But that simply the way it was. A knight's work was never done.
  4. 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.
  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. 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?”
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