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"Hey, uh, you still have that map, right?" Maat asked. He kept his eyes trained on the muddy, thin road ahead. There weren't enough trees where they drove to keep the heavy rain off of them. It came down hard on the tin roof of their rollerbus. The vehicle was long and tubular, and though the road was bumpy and mostly covered by puddles and dense mud, the rollerbus' heavy treads were made for swamping. The ride was mostly smooth. Next to him, the slender feline figure flipped the map back open again. Her amber eyes tried to juggle between watching the road ahead of them, and the map before her. Even while distracted, she managed to keep one hand close to the radio, which faithfully tried to maintain a connection to the only station within five hundred miles, which spat out distorted, but relaxing music. It sort of felt like coffee shop music, to the felinid. It faltered, again, and she twisted the 'seek' knob until it regained clarity. "Yep, we should be coming up on the place any time now." She drawled tiredly. "Pellas. Population: Like ten people." It was probably less than that, Quill thought to herself. Until a few days ago, nobody knew this place even existed. It was a footnote, an addendum to the map of Taen. That's what made this particular adventure so curious. Pellas was recently in the news for a reportedly good fishing season. Small villages around Taen weren't infrequent; it was a big place, so of course people would settle near rivers or freshwater lakes when they found them. However, none of these little towns made headlines over a huge haul of fish. It was like a farmer claiming his horse could do math, or that he had a chicken that laid golden eggs, only in this case the Horse was going to Arcturon to get a degree, and the eggs were, well...maybe the gold eggs were a better metaphor than the horse. But fishing? Fishing. Fishing. Fishing wasn't a headline-grabber, and neither was anything you could reef out of a mud puddle in the middle of the forest. Only, they weren't talking about a mud puddle in the news. No, they weren't fishing up guppies to make headlines, or a big alligator or anything, but a whale, apparently. Quill still used the word apparently, even though she held 'evidence' in her bag still. According to the story, a whale had washed ashore near Pellas, and the town's local whaling community had a field day with the body. It was a massive thing, reportedly--they'd send out thousands of cans of whale meat, produced hundreds of well-crafted bone tools, and brushes and instruments. Bone whale beads were in surplus, and while Quill didn't buy one, she was certainly thinking about it while they were there. Only, there was a minor, kind of hard to overlook problem. Pellas was, as far as anyone knew, not near any notable oceans. No seas, no inland bodies large enough for an animal of this size. More importantly, there was no reason for them to have a whaling company there either, nor did any record of this company exist before now. The felinid grabbed the can from her duffel bag and examined the label. It was still boring: red label, white letters, no markings or imagery. No company name, either. Yet people were claiming now that it had always been there. She couldn't confirm or deny that, herself. Quill and her partner Maat had decided, around then, to try and visit Pellas themselves, to get a better look at what was happening. Maat was a tall, sharp-looking half-elf. His pointed ears and arched eyebrows and his slender face always gave it away, more than his lithe, somewhat lanky body could. From the back, he almost resembled a normal man with his long, wavy hair and comfortable clothes. He didn't smack of the surreal. "See, I'm asking about the map because...I think there's a river ahead." He glanced in her direction, trying to look at the map. She peered over the map, at the rain-smothered world ahead of them. It was dark, and the headlights of the rollerbus cut through the darkness like a hot knife through cold butter, only disrupted by the heavy rainfall. She couldn't see it at first, but when she did see what he was talking about, she also saw a number of other things, as well. Before the river was a large structure--well, two of them, tall and made of metal, about a car's width or more apart--and another two on the other side. She only saw those from the reflective white chevrons painted on the sides of the structures, markers in the dark. The river itself seemed far wider than they could have overlooked on the map, and immediately Quill wondered if they were just in the wrong spot entirely. Past the structures were a number of buildings as well--two large cubes of concrete, with large front-facing windows and folksy-looking white doors. In the building closest to them, Quill could read 'Live Bait and Tackle' and 'Liquor', as well as a few strangely unhelpful ads plastered in the windows. The lights inside were off, but the light on the outside of the second building was still on. This light cut through the darkness of night, and announced in large, blocky letters: FERRY "They have a ferry to get a cross the river, too?" Quill asked, raising an eyebrow. "Are we actually in the right place? This seems a bit too put-together for ass-backwardsville." "Looks like we can ask the locals," Maat pointed. They weren't alone out here after all. A few folk were outside as well, looking somewhat lost. He steered towards them, and slowed down the rollerbus before ducking out of the vehicle. He left the engine rolling, and approached the others. Outside of the vehicle, he quickly grew damp, and tried to shelter his attire from the falling rain. His haori--a rugged, but fashionable thing he'd picked up while they were touring the continent, immediately clung to his body. The cotton shirt beneath did not fair any better. "Hey, all." He flashed a warm smile. It came naturally. He gestured towards the ferry. He assumed it was a ferry, and not just a bridge or something. "This, uh...this takes us into Pellas, does it?"
A few days ago, a scout returned to Hydra's Haven from an outing. He spoke frantically of a mad people who presided east of Lunaris, claiming that they had gone insane. He himself exhibited strange symptoms in the following days, changing his story; never adding up to his original claim afterward. With no shortage of hired hands between and about Taen and Fracture, an immediate listing was posted for work. An added note advises caution, as scholars have theorized that some strange, vile creature may have manipulated the village into becoming it's mind slaves. Little is known about said creature, due to those who survived encounters with such only hardly able to acknowledge it's very existence in retrospect. What is almost certain, is that something in the Moss Forest is driving people insane, likely preying on them. It is possibly capable of exerting psionic ability, and told to resemble the liking of a rare Eldritch Hydra of some sort. The listing asks for any of guile or glory to gather at the inn in Hydra's Haven and ask the keep for a man known as 'Jared Haywood' to inquire further. The bustling hub of adventurers and would be monster hunters was as lively as ever today, albeit there was still a strong sense of unease within some resulting from the news of the maddened village. One such unsettled settler, known among few of the earliest inhabitants of the land as a washed up hero, played a hand of cards in the corner of the room; surrounded by scoundrels and roughnecks. It was an ordinary day at Maggie's Inn, and his luck wouldn't turn around any time soon; truly. He folded this hand, holding onto what little cash he had left for now, but curiosity always killed the cat. The man across from him goaded him into another. He was a large fellow, brooding, no 'John Wilder', but it was apparent that he had seen his fair share of scuffles. It was written on his face, his wirey beard, spelled out in rotten teeth and the stench of the road. The large man raised, and the white haired one was forced to go all in. Before he lost all wealth, the two spit a few crass lines between. "Yer fucked Haywood." The large man warned. Jared shook his head, still trying to beat the odds. "Only when your mother's in town." He explained, grinning like a cat. The large fellow hadn't liked that much, but he took it on the chin like a grunt. Jared looked over his hand once more. He had three kings, on the table sat another, and he could do the math himself. Still, the big man had played his hand; revealing a full house. A pair of kings and a three of any kind, it was irrelevant. Jared confirmed his suspicion. The gunslinger brought a cigarette up to his lips, knowing well what was to come next. Everything seemed normal as the others would arrive, or maybe they already had. Maggie went about her routinely duties, as sweet as ever. She tended to the customers while keeping her eye on the door, a business courtesy of sorts. Jared had paid her well to see to the ones that answered the ad on this day, and she waited for the company, ready to direct them to him and serve them drinks when they arrived. @ticklefarte @Jiv'undus @Zashiii
The citizens of Lunaris are piiiiised! Even though jungle pigs have invaded Taen a long time ago, the native carnivores have kept their numbers in check. Recently, their population exploded, and their war with the zkriz'ka population spilled over into Lunaris. Now, a crowd of citizens surround the City Hall, shouting at the government. "Those fucking pigs ravaged my pasture!" "They ate my whole garden!" "They killed my baby!" "We can't go outside safely!" Then one person starts a chant. "Pigs out now! Pigs out now! Pigs out now!" As chants normally do, this one also catches on with the surrounding people. "PIGS OUT NOW! PIGS OUT NOW! PIGS OUT NOW!" It isn't long until the entire crowd is chanting "PIGS OUT NOW! PIGS OUT NOW! PIGS OUT NOW! PIGS OUT NOW! PIGS OUT NOW! PIGS OUT NOW! PIGS OUT NOW! PIGS OUT NOW! PIGS OUT NOW! PIGS OUT NOW!" @danzilla3
Aveline got back from that whole noble house bullshit she left early just a couple days ago, and since then she's been putting the finishing touches on Lithist O'Malley's new treehouse, connected by a rope suspension bridge to the Mil Dot Lunaris. In all the activity in Ursa Madeum, she never really had the time to stop and take a good look at Lunaris. The latest rough population count put the place at around two million. Two million! When she got here, there was no more than a few hundred here after the hydra attack, and soon after, their house was only a 350-square-foot box in a tree. Now Lunaris is a proper city, and the Mil Dot is still the only place around with mechanical refrigeration for both perishables in the kitchen, and the rest of the building, and in the high heat and humidity of the jungle, it is nice. The thing that most surprises Aveline is that even though the city has exploded in size, the only buildings close are the Mil Dot/her house the Morrisons' house, and Lithist's new treehouse. All of Lunaris' residental and commercial expansion happened east, and even the agricultural lands around this little cluster form a wiiiiiide crescent around, as if nobody else wants to settle anywhere close to the Singlances, or actively want to isolate them. But there's a problem... ...electrical demand is getting dangerously close to generation capacity. With a growing population comes growing patronage, which requires the air conditioner to run much longer, and it was already their biggest consumer if electricity. They could set up more solar panels, but at this rate, they'll need to put a panel roof over Lunaris to meet their near-future electrical needs. They'll need something bigger. @SteamWarden