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  1. Rebellious Rose (Inn) Another bar type of establishment that also provides as an Inn for any weary travelers. Matching much of the towns design as a medieval establishment, the inn is yet another establishment with good food, great drink, and a lively atmosphere. There are 20 rooms in the upstairs, each fit with a bathroom with a bathtub/shower, a television, and a mini bar. There is a telephone to call for room service is needed, which is considered within the cost of room rental. The inn was previously managed by the Captain/Knight of the guard, Lawrence, but has recently been bought over by Kyle 'Angel' Sander, the last of the Pegasi. Unlike in the Tavern of Legend, the staff here work tirelessly to clean up the messes of their patrons, sometimes simple things like shattered plates, but at others entire holes in the walls or craters in the ground. The center of excitement and pleasure is the pub, where several velvety chairs surround brown wood tables. The lighting is romantic, and meditation music is constantly played through a disk. The Rebellious Rose is a great base for adventurers to spend their nights at when out questing in the morning. The Inn has two unique features, namely a gambling den manned by a retired bounty hunter, Connor Fortesque, and a sparring room. If adventurers wish to spar, they can enter the room as they wish. The walls are enchanted with Dark Energy, causing one's soul to be extracted from their body upon entry and returned upon leaving. This allows sparring combatants to incur no injuries, except maybe to the mind. The staff are still experimenting with new ways to make soul combat safer for patrons. Staff Kyle "Angel" Sander - Owner @Crossbone Edric Carter - Manager @CrimsonAurora Rachel Azraelian - Sparring Room Supervisor @Alternative Connor Fortesque - Gambling Room Supervisor @Sapphire Blue Alyssa Cooper - Bartender @Alyssa Coops
  2. How long had it been? Memory didn't serve as well as the saying goes when magical persuasions had been involved in a sudden disappearance. Such was the case of the vanished Psion Queen; she'd been missing for nearly a year. Time was just as finicky as memory, there was no saying in her mind how long she was gone, where she had been, what had been happening in her absence. Red Yusuke didn't remember a single moment of the last year on Valucre, she felt weak and drained but that could lead to so many different scenarios. Her hand drifted idly to the flat, empty stomach of hers that last she knew was growing a child, one that she thought had been sucking the life from her at the Festival in Port Caelum. Could it be the child had died? Another failure in her life, another tomb to riddle the vast blackness of her deepest thoughts. Without knowing, without confirmation, the most Kahlan could do at the moment was assume another one of her children had died within her belly. Roens. Xartias. All growing yet all terminated from ever getting the chance to live life. It was no different than anything else she had loved in the past and lost, she was not meant to love or receive such things. Do I deserve even this? Spread out in all it's wonderous glory in front of her was the only child she knew would thrive, would live. Predators Keep had been left without its Queen for a time unknown to the psion and yet here it stood, lights flooding the streets and laughter fleeting from warm homes. Guards respectfully posted at the gates and in the four towers around the walls. She thought she even got a hint of a homemade stew floating on the warm summer breeze. This was where she belonged, not in Patia with some Devil that couldn't return feelings even if he had any. Not in Genesaris trying to prove to the world that she was a Queen to be admired. Here in Predators Keep where she knew her people loved and adored her, but her fears were too bright to ignore. Would this all crumble as well? Everything she loved repeatedly disappeared from her life. It was a running theme and one that was impossible to call a coincidence, although she wasn't sure what had been the fate of the growing child in her womb. If she were to just look back on history the most probable answer was death, and that was the answer she would stick with until she was proven otherwise. Dead. Gone. Abandoned. She was the walking embodiment of bad luck when love was concerned. Lovers dead, lovers disappeared, two babies destroyed by her own mothering womb. What Kahlan loved either died or would not return the emotion, the bond, the sacrifice. It was the already blackening of her heart that had led her back home with thoughts of abandonment, of her choosing to leave these thousands behind in order to save them. The only question was whether or not she could simply leave the years of hard work behind and hope this wonderful city could fend for itself. A quaint breeze picked the disheveled blonde hair from her back, the only tell that she had been without memory of much longer than simply a few months. Her hair had been shorter, the back barely touching the nape of her neck with it tapering down just to her shoulders in the front. Now her hair in the back nearly touched her shoulder blades, and the front her elbows. Although she knew it grew quickly, there was no doubt it had been probably a year or more that she couldn't recall. It had been so long since her hair had been long, and now in her current condition she couldn't imagine she looked much like a Queen at all. A tattered cloak hiding dingy pajamas, her hair dirty and tangled from the journey through the Wilds to her home. Kahlan didn't even recall where she had come from, only that she seemed to awake walking through the forest. With the cowl of the cloak pulled up to hide the color of her hair and the shade of her crimson eyes, the Psionic Queen picked her way through the remaining trees and flora towards the eastern gate of Predators Keep. She'd seek refuge in an Inn, learn what she could since her disappearance, and decide the path to take from there. There was only one thing that was certain. Kahlan had no intentions of mending the blackening of her heart.
  3. For months the Keep had been rather quiet, as did the majority of the Scarlet Region. A time of peace had washed over them after the turbulent history that had nearly cost them everything. Some though, some had gained much more than they had lost in the experiences past. The wide rumors of the Empress' condition ever since her sudden reclusive behavior had been wild overall, and yet hardly any of them ever considered that she had been with child. The truth was, she had been; To the surprise of none however, the father was one whom was in close service to her. He too had done well to keep this all under tight wraps, as well as his own distance from it all respectively. One day the boy would wonder why his father wasn't around to raise him, and one day he'd understand why that would be a blessing in and of itself. This child however, he was far from anything like a blessing. Not a single day had gone by that the boy had cried. No tears, no whimpers of shrieks of hunger, nothing. Either his eyes were open, or they were closed. Proximity to the boy often served a purpose of bringing great anxieties over them, or perhaps and immense sense of dread, fear. But not his Mother, her feelings of him were true and would always be just that. As would his feelings of her. In his infancy his mind was too ignorant still to form ideas of something or to identify with memory. Though in these latter months of his short and strange life, the boy had recently found himself constantly seeking the same figure in his slumber. Another feminine cast, maternal as well. She felt close, and yet she was always so fast and so far. As the young prodigy grew into himself however, it would seem he was gaining a grip on the greatest gift his Mother had bestowed upon him. The boy's genius lie within the mind and the way it perceives things. It served a fruitful purpose that he kept Mother close, that way she was safe. With Roen too concerned with his own son to worry about Red and her's, thus here they were in the Keep where it all began. Between manipulating her perception, and the perception of her constituents, the boy had been allowed to study betwixt the minds of all those he managed to come close enough in contact with. It was amazing what a mind was capable or incapable of, especially while doing something completely unrelated. None suffered, all survived and some prospered. Even the underground had remained silent these past couple seasons, perhaps they too had their own rumors of what was happening above in the wake of the birth or the Crown Prince. Currently the hour was late, and the Prince slumbered. As he did, his mind was left agape, devoid of any cluttering thoughts. In the way that memories that weren't his own told him, he called out to a woman whose name plagued his Mother's thoughts and Dreams. He had seen the face associated with the name, yet there were two of them; Each the likes of which he had never seen before. Still, he had to believe that whoever this woman was, if she was who his Mother thought she was, then she was always lurking. Always near, always watching. 'Akari Akako, Queen of Yokai, Lady of the Void, heed my call.' Little did he know that she had already revealed herself to him on several occasion, yet in all of his growing knowledge, he still wasn't keen enough to see through her elusiveness. The message resonated throughout what he had come to learn was called the Dreamscape. Sitting seiya in a field of grass and wildflowers, the clearing in the center of some trees and complete with a lake featuring a really big rock; the boy seemed to be meditating . @Akako Akari
  4. It seemed like there was more to look into than in regards to the expansion of the forest. If the expansion of the forest was to be controlled and counteracted then they would need to find the source of the magic. That meant following the stream and preparing for whatever he might run into. Enk wasn't sure what to expect, but it seemed like neither were the researchers who were looking into the matter. Magic was no friendly thing to deal with, but Enk was sure that he if things got out of hand he could always back out and bring back-up. Since he was on his was to Blaurg it made sense to get some stuff for mining. The mountain range surely had something in them, he just wasn't sure what was of value there. If the locals mined something and knew about the range, then surely there was somewhere that had more of it that was just too far or risky to mine. Or maybe far too risky to mine. With what Enk received he was decided to look through the town marketplace and get himself some supplies for the task. He mostly needed some mundane supplies, something to make himself a bit of shelter for the night. The market was certainly bustling with life. If Enk wanted to flip his money he would need to do so in a smart way, buy what the town specializes in and selling it some where in need. He found himself strolling through what seemed like the heart of the marketplace. Clothiers and craftsmen of sorts selling their products and services. A pretty standard sign of a healthy and living market. It was a pretty tempting place to be for a merchant like Enk, but he knew from the years on the road that most of this stuff wouldn't make profit elsewhere. If lucky he could break even with the costs of the product and travel. There was an elder lady, likely from the Weland country side. These kind of storefronts always seemed to have second rate items for cheap, which was a good gamble. "Welcome." She spoke, with a skeptical look. Enk took a look at the stand that she had, and it seemed like it was mostly like daily necessities and some trinkets, but it had some other odd things like garden tools, wood toys and assorted potpourri. "How much for the torches?" "A copper each. Five for four." "So how many for eight?" "Seven copper." "I'll take seven then" Enk said, taking out his pouch. He took a silver cone and a copper coin, and gave it to the lady. She looked at them as if she was counting, and shot an eerie smile at him. "Thank you, have a nice day." Though Enk was hoping to confuse the sales lady he left with a fair deal. He could imagine that the torches probably had a poor lifespan or didn't even light up, but it wasn't something which he would really need. He knew he could start a fire if it really came down to it. This was just a back-up for later. @Akiris
  5. On the outskirts of the city of Predator's Keep, great machines toiled and hard-bodied men laboured in construction of a grand citadel of glass and concrete. It would be months before the large structure, more like a fortress then any ordinary building, would be completed, but the mere construction heralded the appearance of a powerful organization on the world of Valucre for the long term. The Order of Force Majeure, a Knightly Order from beyond Valucre extended their reach onto this world, to safeguard it from threats most unknowable. The witch-space in between the dimensions is referred to by many names; the Twisting Nether, the Immaterium, the Void. They are home to thirsting gods, hellish daemons, and eldritch phantoms. It is a hellspace where logic and reason fails, and to be a Knight of the Order of Force Majeure means to defend against that horror, and be the first, and last defense for all the mortal realms. One of the two Masters of the Knightly Order brokered a deal with the sovereign of the Red Kingdom, the Red Queen. It was through this mutual understanding that they were allowed to build on her lands, and establish a formidable presence. Hopefully before long, Order personnel on this realm would at least, have a place to be able to call home. The fortress known as the Dawn Komturie. --- New Location of Importance in Predator's Keep: Check back for constant updates and quests
  6. The invitation to sit in the seat of the crown... Well she hadn't done this in awhile. Kalmuli stared at herself in the mirror, her hair having been brushed and polished to a perfect coif and her bare skin exfoliated until she was smooth as a baby's ass. She exhaled, looking herself over in the polished glass. No mirrors. At least they had listened to that request and either covered them up or switched them out. Kalmuli heard a light tap on the wood door, one of the servants coming in with the gown she was supposed to wear for the ceremony and the announcement. She smiled politely, approaching in her unabashed nudity and accepted the help to put it on. It had a silk slip underneath but her shoulders and drapery were sheerer. Kalmuli adored the feel of the lighter fabrics on her skin compared to her heavier mage robes. Looking at herself in the mirror, letting them pin a collection of emerald and gold flower pins in her hair and drape some long chains of jewelry that shimmered. Looking at herself in the polished metal, she admired the work they put into preparing things and excused them so she could get herself collected. Large crowds made her anxious. In her vision, she saw all of the threads that composed everyone in a jumbled heap. It took a lot not to want to sort them out but that usually ended up in a blood bath. Kalmuli drifted to the speech she had written and rewritten. Oh sure she could talk in front of a small crowd of students....but this was a kingdom. Someone else's kingdom. A kingdom full of expectations of the mysterious mage and fortune teller who was to sit on the throne in place of another elf who was currently pregnant. Kalmuli folded up her speech and slipped into the bosom of her dress. Another knock and it was time to go. There was a small processional that would go with her. Someone to hold the train of the gown while it fluttered around. Kalmuli let her mind wander around while she was given an arm and lead up to the stage where she would take the oath under the Scarlet Kingdom to perform her duties until it was time to step down. Then she knelt and there was a small, thin crown put on her head. Not as brilliant as the first Queen herself but enough that was enough to acknowledge the title and her position. Rising up, she was announced the title. "Presenting the Queen Regent of Altissium! Kalmuli---wait, last name?"The announcer questioned and Kalmuli just shook her head. Stepping forward, she would give the speech she had scrawled away in her bosom. "Ladies, Gentlemen and those of the sea! Thank you for those beautiful ceremony to welcome me into your city. It wasn't long ago that I took on the challenge of bringing Predator's Keep back to it's glory after ruin. To be recognized for such a humanitarian effort and extend that assistance out to Altissium is an honor."She spoke to the court. "I look forward to working with the people and the mages of this city by the bay." Once the short speech was over, it was like a weight was lifted off of her shoulders. For now. There was a reasonable feast, dancing and greeting that took her back to her younger days. Days of balls, dancing and courtly behavior that was womanly and welcome. The next couple of days after the ceremony was catching up on what needed to be done and expressing some ideas. Kalmuli expressed interest in the structures, including the Mage school that she wanted to check out their curriculum. A day later, Kalmuli was sitting in a meeting room with stacks of papers, waiting for any visitors or appointments that would distract her for a little while from sign, stamping and repeating.
  7. On the outer edge of the city we’re the tiny homes, built by the baroness for the people whom did not have the ability to do for themselves. Predators keep was the home of the psychic people but...for those whom potential was very limited it was a hard place to live. Dagon belonged to one such family, whose blood produced little psionic potential. For this family the cyclcal nature of generational poverty was apparent. Despite their lot, they were good, hard working and devout to one another. Yet the world around them was not. Growing up in Predators Keep is hard. The percentage of the populace with Psionic potential was growing with each generation. Dagon was ridiculed in school not only because of his poverty but because he was one of the few without psychic ability. Everyday came with a new jest, a new torment. The culture in the keep was not sympathetic. Predators keep valued resilience and self reliance, so Dagon swallowed his sadness. He knew that if he came to someone; they would say “suck it up” or some such. That sadness grew. It festered and churned. The night was dark. The rain fell hard and oppressive. He hid from the storm in the room he shared with his siblings, huddled in the corner as they slept. He did not want to wake them with his shaking or the tears that flooded down his cheek. He froze. Something coiled in his mind, gripping his consciousness. A keen shrieking echoed through his being and he writhed in agony, in terrible silence. A thing was born in his mind. A violent psychic awakening. A rare power fed on the resentment, all the shame, the hurt, and was born twisted. Reality buckled as it came into the world. The tiny home crumbled in a single violent instant. It was not known if any of the family survived as the the thing rose from the rubble. It was as if night was stretched over crystalline rock, cobbled in vague humanoid shape, barely visible in the backdrop of the rainy night. The thing howled with a piercing sharp shriek, this time the roar echoed in space for all of predators keep to hear.
  8. While constructing my rifles I'd noted the sweet spot required in Terrenus' magical fluctuations required for the gunpowder to function properly rather than failing quietly or more dramatically explosively. At the time I had shelved my designs for researching a spell designed to allow proper firing despite not possessing a weapon that was safe to fire. At the time it made sense. The rifles I'd made were intended for personal use and it made little sense for one who had a magic sword to be prepared to cast a temporary magical enchantment on their weapon. I wasn't ready to be between projects however and leaving this line of research in a dusty corner didn't sit well with me. I might actually want to shoot something with a different gun.
  9. It was getting hot, almost too hot even for a demoness. Was she getting soft? Heat didn't bother her, but for some reason she was finding her infernal meat suite was sweating. Wrinkling her nose at herself while she lifted her arm to check under her armpit, the black t-shirt had a more noticeably black stain of perspiration. The sun was high, around mid day, and it was sure to warm up a few more degrees by the end of it. Didn't she hear Red had created some sort of psionic tech system? Could there be air conditioning here?! The thought brought a smile to her dark red painted lips, her sluggish gait along the cobble sidewalk picking up slightly with more vigor, a bit more life. She was terribly bored though, her daughter was still with her father, who still refused to leave the musty, old lair they called home. Sure it was safe! That with hellhounds somehow finding them whenever they went out, which was totally her husbands' fault. With them there, and her here keeping an eye out on the Queen, knowing how much trouble the woman tended to get herself into, Emelesa found herself missing trouble. Before her daughter she was constantly in trouble, causing mischief, doing the things that demons do best! But here...Here she hadn't caused any trouble. She mulled around in the shadows, floating here and there, checking on everything to make sure the troublesome blonde was safe...Yet she wasn't doing any trouble causing. It was madness! She was known enough here, her face popped up from time to time, Red had told the guards and most of the staff about her, she had special privileges. Mel could stir the pot around the Keep, liven this quiet city up. Red wasn't here so she could slip the guards if they wouldn't turn an eye, if she could manage to not be so out of her element. The demoness had fire red hair with a very distinguishable black stripe running from her bangs on one side, her draconic looking tail was like...A mile long...At least she felt like it was. Three horns on her head, crimson eyes like their queen? And she didn't wear shoes. She stuck out like a sore thumb. "I've gotta find something to do...Damn Cas and his 'safe home' crap. He should be here with me." It was a lot of mumbling and talking to herself, with the awkward facial expressions to accompany. She was just...Bored. @Rin
  10. The non-magitech firearms, they'd gotten my attention. Or rather, the reasons they weren't used in Terrenus did. As many natives myself included were aware, gunpowder had a significant failure rate in the continent of Terrenus. However, of the multitude of those failures, the bullets themselves being rendered duds wasn't enough to warrant research into the subject. Rather it was the minority results in which the bullets exploded within the firearm that created a far greater explosion than could be explained by the included gunpowder. This was, and I was immediately curious as to whether the explosion effect could be delayed rather than detonating immediately inside the firearm. My first theory was to test similarities to the fireball spell as some variations required material components equivalent to gunpowder.
  11. Morgan was definitely not in Kansas anymore. Terrenus, although she'd been in the continent for awhile now, roaming aimlessly, was still foreign in every way. The white haired, hammer wielding mage was intending to find someplace colder to take up roots, but she hadn't gotten very far in her journey yet. Hiking along one of the main roads, she'd seen a caravan heading down a fork, and with a well worn road she felt there must have been a city close by. Her feet hurt and she looked disheveled as hell, the heavy hammer only getting more difficult to carry on her back the longer she walked. The nice couple in one of the wagons offered her a ride, and being the kind person she was Morgan had ended up giving them her last copper coin in thanks. Everything about her screamed cold. From the ice blue eyes, short white curly hair, pale skin, light blue shirt and dark pants, and not to mention the terrible smell of perspiration. She needed a shower. She needed money to rent a room. Who was going to be so kind as to offer a stinky, dirty young woman anything of the sort? The ride down the smooth dirt road was pleasant, minus the ache in her feet as they hung off the backside of the wagon. Her hammer leaned up against a few stacked crates inside, and even though her spirit seemed low...She was smiling. The world was so new along with the odd sensation of magic coursing through her, everything was actually pretty new considering only last year she'd left home worlds away where she'd been stowed away in an anti-magic city. Coming to a smooth stop, the couple mentioned something about setting up their small goods shop in the center of the market, and if she needed a right out they would be there until an hour before sundown. Tossing an apple her way, Morgan was left shrugging the large hammer over her shoulder with the makeshift leather strap crossing over her chest to keep it in place. Taking a crunchy bite of the apple, the woman stood awkwardly while looking around with a lost expression. There had to be an Inn around, she was in dire need of a shower and a hot meal. @carrionjackal
  12. Home.... Or at least the modest one story house she'd rented through a broker with 'understandings'. Isidor wasn't entirely sure what kind of finagling it took to rent out houses in the vicinity of Predators Keep, but at the end of her stay the house certainly wouldn't be hers. Meh. She'd vacated Blairville on the whisper of Safeguard a non-insignificant time ago and if her recent visit was any indication Isidor had made the right call in leaving. Something was unquestionably wrong with the megacity, but she wasn't about to make that her fight. The doorknob turned as she gripped it, causing Isidor to pause in reaching for her key. Unlocked? That wasn't how she left things. Taking a few steps back she glanced about, she certainly remembered locking up before she left and there certainly didn't seem to be any signs of forced entry. Nothing for it then. She'd just have to push the door open and make sense of things, it wasn't like Isidor's residential situation was a hundred percent on the up and up after all. Guards would only make any possible problem worse..... The concept that they could help was almost alien seeing as the mostly outsider constabulary really didn't hold a candle to one of the native Cities. Nothing immediately jumped out at her, that was a good start. An ambush at this point would certainly be a level of misery that the gray haired woman certainly did not need. There was a difference between uprooting oneself with a decent amount of notice and having to flee with only the articles on ones person. Upon further intrusion Isidor discarded theft as an issue. Everything seemed to be in place and the house certainly felt like it hadn't suffered a leave of absence.... Oh. That could be problematic. Someone was living in, minutia aside, her home during her sojourn in Blairville. However, there was no sign of a break in as far as Isidor could tell. This led her to conclude that her possible squatter was someone that already had access to the house. The actual landlord was out, if someone could afford to work through a middleman then there was no sense in breaking the degree of separation. That left her broker and unrequested house-sitting seemed exactly like something he would do. While Ed's interest in his clients was grating at times, the man's habit of poking his nose into their business was in fact greatly appreciated in the few instances when everything went sour. There was a long list of usually unique happenings that could go wrong in the life of a practitioner and it was extremely difficult to prepare for specific dangers with no notice. The most recent example would be Ed's dynamic entry through a window that blindsided the Green Robed Fuck. That definitely created a hard table one eighty in what would have been the Green Robed Fucks ambush. But if this was Ed and Isidor was about ninety percent sure it was, then trying to sneak up on the man in her own house was a recipe for absurdity. She took a deep breath. "EDG~" "MY NAME IS ED!" The corners of Isidor's mouth turned up into a faint grin that graced her rather plain face. That automatic response couldn't be faked. There were no problems here.
  13. The class C rank quests, they weren't flashy but they paid well for the work put into them and were of course less dangerous than the higher ranked work. Not exactly popular to those looking to make a big score and daunting to the common fighting man. These quests certainly had a special place in Akiris' heart. While the mercenary felt he had good odds on being able to complete higher ranked quests, he didn't feel that one could make a career out of them. Maybe one once in a while if he felt it was something that needed to be done, but never because of the higher payout. He'd yet to have a class C go wrong that he wasn't able to handle. And yeah, they did. Akiris supposed things went wrong at about the same rate no matter what the ranking. The escalated risk just wasn't fun. While many 'true warriors' may scoff at Akiris' philosophy, high-risk high-reward was an unsustainable way to live day to day. He relayed his way of thinking to Enk as best he could. Being on the same page before the ball started rolling was a lesson Akiris had learned the hard way and now lived with. "So according to the request, an unfamiliar magic has been felt near the southeastern wall. They think it's near the stream out there and there are folks saying the magic is coming from the Labyrinth Forest. Now the request as stated is to find the source. I'm not above tracking it to the edge of the Forest and calling it a day." One could almost hear the capital letters as Akiris mentioned the Forest. The place had a reputation... and it coincided with more than they were being offered for the job. "Under no circumstances are either of us going into that forest should this be the case to confirm exactly what the cause is. For one, the place is reputed to shift about on its own. Even if we found something, it might be gone the next time we retraced our steps. And two, I'm not about to put my life on the line because an academic wants to know exactly where some magic originated. There's a quest involving that Forest, and it's A ranked. If they want someone to go in there they can post a proper quest and find someone crazy enough to do it." @Enk Razorwood
  14. Their life wasn't always spent in the shadows of far off places. Once upon a time they held an entire family of nobility in the palm of their hands. Then it was all dashed when a wretched little elf came to stomp all over their dreams, forcing them to go underground, quite literally. Life however was filled with all kinds of opportunities, one simply had to take them in order to achieve success. At the moment they required a new bass of operations, having traveled far from the reaches of Ursa Madeum, they felt safely away from that brute Oscar Uldwar and his wrath. What better place than the dark depths of the Underground beneath the famed Predator's Keep? The place had a variety of hiding places, guards that could be bribed into silence, and best of all, there were plenty of nefarious men and women to place in their service. A new enterprise will rise from the ashes of the old, and in this new business venture, there will be no elves to ruin their plans. Now they were ready to do whatever it took to keep their dreams alive, especially if it meant spilling a little blood in the process. "I hate these dingy tunnels, it is ruining my dress." Marcella said, holding up her skirts as she tried to navigate the treacherous rocks. Ursula on the other hand had tried a new attire that would be more appropriate for their conditions. "Sometimes I swear I do not know why I keep you around, dear sister. You have become insufferable since our exodus from House Uldwar." Instead of the French styled ball gown her ebony masked sister wore, Ursula was wearing something lighter, less restrictive in her movements. A blue pinstripe long sleeved shirt, a gorgeously patterned corset for her stomach and a small tan skirt with white leggings and knee high leather boots. It allowed her to move more freely, and better yet, escape quickly if she required to. "Me? Insufferable? Please. You are the one talking of adapting and surviving, as if we are animals now." She mourned the loss of their opulent lifestyle, where they could have anything they wanted at any time. It was so lovely to have the ear of Lady Uldwar, to have so much power within that realm, and now it was all gone. Marcella swore one day she would strangle that wretched elf Ingrid and drown her little bastard in a river somewhere. Dreaming of this was the only thing keeping her from drowning in despair. "We have been laid low, sister. Living in that place made us complacent and lazy, taking our sweet time to hatch our plots. Now is the time we go back to our roots, we correct our mistakes, and this time, we succeed." Holding the torch aloft, the light danced off her ivory mask in a devilish way, like a predator waiting to pounce. Their faces were forever in the expression of untold joy, for this was their element, their pride and joy. Now they would wait for the people they had contacted to arrive. It was difficult to find the right names, but they believed they had done it. With these individuals, they would have all they required to get started anew, and soon they would have the whole world in their pocket. Not only did they have a plan this time, but a new weapon in the battle, one that would guarantee them their chance at greatness.
  15. Harry opened his eyes, amazed to be in the same place as before. His astonishment poped when looking outside. Dense, green trees around him turned into mud overnight. A string of an ironical insanity rose within the male again. "So everything is shifting all the time and can kill me any moment? Yeah, I'll add that to the list." Walking through the mud wasn't the easiest of tasks. Especially when all vines acted like trip wires for his feet. There were times where Harry wondered if those weren't traps put there on purpose. The whole forest acted... alive. And if that's how it was going to play, then that's how Harry was going to treat it. "Are you going to give me something to eat today?", he said to the forest as much as to himself. The male's supplies should be enough for about a week. Resources wouldn't appear on their own without warning. Probably. Harry had to walk past a bush three times to notice pink spots coating it. Although pink looked more like poison than food, he couldn't care less right now. He didn't need to eat right now, but he needed some kind of trophy. A physical proof that he gained something. That wandering in the middle of nowhere which could kill him any moment had some kind of meaning attached to it. He needed it. He needed the meaning! Before he could calm down, Harry had a pawful of the stuff. Now, the harsh thing was getting back home. The male angled his body in a turn-back motion. The terrain behind him was a dry savanna, but with much more trees than a savanna should have had. Harry cursed under his breath. Why didn't he expect that? For many hours, the male wandered through strange pseudo-tundras, moving sounds and mud. All this while moving in circles. Traced his steps which disappeared, or changed locations. The sun was starting to set when Harry had an idea. "1..3..8...pulse" He turned around. Chilling wind gave his scales a frostbite, but Harry didn't care. "You can only trick the blind, huh?" Without blinking, without turning around, Harry stepped back to a familiar rock. He was standing in mud. Yes, he was very close. When he looked close enough, the male could see little dark spots marking where he came from. A rush of adrenaline coursed through his veins. He was so close. Was that it? His little accommodation like a spot on the edge of vision. Harry could not believe it. He wiped his eyes, looked up and... arctic wind blew him straight in the face. "Damn it!", he roared and sat himself down. Something inside Harry was starting to crack. Only insane could make sense of a place like this. His claws were shaking, breath fast. His wings closing tight behind his back. That was when he saw it. A tail. Long, scaly appendage, pink in colour. Pulsing pain appeared in his head. Vision dimmed. Harry groaned, lowering his head. No way that he would give up now. Not after he reached so far. The male used the last bits of force to stand up. He followed the tail. Tundras, muds, strange rocks and shifts. They didn't matter any longer. Often, he would himself doing a perfect circle and ending up in a different place. Turning around 7 times to progress. The tail seemed to be getting closer. Harry reached for it with a claw. His grip picked up a scale. He pulled and... his head smacked against his home. "Ouch", he mustered as all became black.
  16. "Prime host control migrating to host...trigger" It took but a whisper for the male to open their eyes, a claw over his snout to see if it's really there. "Are you feeling alright, sweet?" A slick form of purple danced in front of the dragon's eyes. It shook him and pulled him closer. "My mind is brilliant, body crippled and my soul's gone. What happened?" Soon, the male was wide awake and standing. A loud noise echoed from afar. His sensitive hearing picked up a sigh of relief. "You were in a coma. Let's get off here." If the dragon wasn't sure that his heart was beating, he wondered no longer. "What do you mean in a coma?" A long silence followed. "That's not how it works. You don't just get up from full years of laying still and jump around like a butterfly! Do you know how much damage such prolonged hibe~" A solid smack across his face told him all he wanted to know. The ness pushed him off to the side. Trails of blood laid everywhere. Was this some kind of ritual? "Coming", he whispered in a cold tone. Vision turned into a blur. Screeches and screams died down to a blow of wind. "What is going on?" He asked and leaned more towards her, collapsing near to a large stone. The female let out a deep sigh. She pressed them both to the block. - Let's start with basics. What colour is the guardian? The anthro looked at her like an idiot. "What?", was all he could try to respond with. The dragoness shook her snout and let out a sigh. - Let's pretend this didn't happen. What's your name? - I... I'm not sure. - Not a problem. Do any come to your mind? At this point you can pick yourself one and we'll pretend it was always so. A swarm of thoughts clouded his brain. It took him a good few minutes before he was comfortable with his choice. - Harry. My name is Harry. - What can you tell me about yourself, Harry? - Well, maybe you can tell me? You shake me awake in a middle of a blood-stained nowhere. Tell me I woke up from a coma and start asking questions like I'm some kind of a machine. What is this, a roleplaying forum? Harry felt a claw at his throat. No knives were as sharp and intimidating as a dragon's edge. Not one in the world. "I risked my life every day. Carrying you around. Keeping you warm, safe, well fed. I hibernated you for years. Hunted for you. Cleaned you. The least you can do is tell me how much you remember!!" - Easy, easy. Alright. Fine. I was born... -he shook his snout, looked around and shook his snout again- elsewhere. The ness opened her maw, about to ask the next question before she was interrupted. - Some kind of village. My mother used to say that my hands were made to play with the strings. I never understood what she meant. One day she left me... home... like the usual... going out to buy some things. She never returned. With no one to protect me, I was being hunted. Lived alone in some kind of forest. I traded my sanity for the ability to learn. I observed, tried and... thought a lot. The thinking was freeing. But eventually, it got me down. I was... um... - Okay, that's enough. I felt her claws run down my cheeks with the dull sides. "Sorry for being rough. It was such a long time and... I got emotional. I'm going to show you something, okay? It will make you remember everything." It was still hard to see with everything blurry. The female was shaking. She embraced him like a friend or a family. The ness cuddled him as fresh tears run down her cheeks. Harry didn't know how to feel about this. It was all so absurd. From waking up with blood everywhere to being hugged by a mysterious, crying dragoness. Something was off here. It was very wrong. "Can I trust you?", he whispered into her ear. She pointed at a pile of burning trees far away. "If I meant you harm, I would have left you with them." Yeah. That made sense. Probably. A few minutes later they were at another section of the forest. A small hut, made of wood appeared on their field of vision. A blood stain rested near the entrance. Whoever lived here must have left a few years ago. Remnants of what looked like an old plaza shined with its dust. A set of stairs was at right, leading up. At the centre was a kitchen, which extended into a living room with a small fireplace. Before Harry could look around, the female took him upstairs. Along the walls were two rooms. Both had wooden doors, enchanted for better resistance. The first one led to a room with a single bed, some toys on the floor and a scent hard to describe. The second was locked. The ness used a red key to open it. The key wasn't red. It was stained in blood. Harry's eyes widened once again. Walls were painted green. At left, blue paint was splashed along the entire wall. It looked like a children's drawing but somehow was still detailed and professional. The image depicted a kneeling form. It was humanoid in build. Its wings were larger than the rest of its body, extending to the corners of the room. Half of it was human, the other mechanical-like. The figure had its head lowered, but looking forward. It gazed upon the opposite wall. This one depicted a gryphon. Its feathers were crimson and orange, made in colours of a fire. Its wings were ripped out from its body and torn to pieces. yet the scene depicted the creature soaring through the air. Below, a note in black paint. "The gryphon can fly." Something clicked inside Harry's mind. "The guardian is blue", he called aloud and looked around. Nobody was there. Not a sign they ever were.
  17. @Red the Ambivalent When it came to the Red Queen, very few beings outside of her council and close circle of advisors and friends could call upon her. The Daemonslayer, James Eredas, was one of those beings. It was not the most formal of meeting environments for personages of their stature. The place was a respectable inn in both size and regard, a short distance away from Predator's Keep. Away from the prying eyes and intrigue of the city, the place offered solitude, and allowed the Master Knight to take care of security measures in its entirety. The Red Queen has had a harsh time lately, but here, she would be completely safe. It was James's word. Now it would be her word that James sought. Before she left to Genesaris, left on her own mission, he sought her personal approval for the project he was going to suggest, a project that would mutually benefit them both. And so James waited in the reception room of the inn for his guest, resplendent in his full battle garb, the Daemonbane armor, and cloak emblazoned with the symbol of the Order of Force Majeure.
  18. Leon was awakened with a searing pain going across his chest. His eyes widened as he resisted to yell, biting his tongue to resist the need to screech out in pain. It would’ve been what they’ve wanted after all. Leon couldn’t tell you how long he had been here., a week, possibly two? All he knew was that they’ve been keeping alive until this moment, meaning that the person and possibly the Guards were having fun with him at this point. Were they looking for him to break? He would scoff but that would give them the satisfaction of a reaction. The whip came across his chest again, He gnashed down, his tongue nearly drawing blood from how hard he was biting it. His would-be torturer impressed by this sight began to clap. Leon merely staring at him with his one eye. “I have to say I am quite impressed, I was told you tended to be a loudmouth but you’ve been silent all day, it’s kind of a disappointment.” “So how is our prisoner?” That voice. That damn voice was enough for Leon’s rage to instantly spike, he attempted to push himself off of the stone walls that he was shackled to, the ball of his feet attempting to push off of the cold hard floor and meet the bastard face to face. If he could only knock that damn smug smile off of his face, along with those damned glasses he would be a lot happier off. “You’re lucky I’m in these chains or your face would be kissing the floor!” Leon struggled in his chains pushing and thrashing about. Aarin walked toward him and gave a chuckle, one who didn’t know him would find it cute. Leon however, had grown to find that laugh annoying, not helped by the fact that he suddenly decided to grip on the sides of Leon’s face and give a smile. “Oh my, you’re just absolutely adorable thrashing about like that, I wonder how you were when you suffered those burns.” Leon took the close proximity to his advantage and thrust his forehead to connect with Aarin’s nose. Other than breaking his nose, this would do the extra of breaking his glasses. Aarin staggered back and snarled, The headbutt had broken his glasses, revealing the blood red eyes that hid underneath. He reacted in sound, by gripping onto Leon’s hand. He wriggled his hand onto Leon’s wrist, he suddenly recovered his grin and began nodding in disapproval. “Oh Leon, I was just trying to be nice. Oh, you were always such a hothead, I guess I will have to punish you…” He took Leon’s hand, wrist locked onto the shakles, and slammed it into the wall, The force of impact along with the awkward positioning of his hands and wrist, caused said wrist to shatter on impact. That was more than enough to cause Leon to shout in abject pain. The shout itself echoed throughout the halls of the prison cell, and even outside toward the window. It would be clear for anyone to hear in the nearby vicinity. Leon snarled holding back the pain as he locked his eyes on Aarin again. “There we go, I hope you learned your lesson Leon, Lucky for you I have been given orders by the Intergalactic Police to keep you alive, you have to pay for your crimes after all.” “You mean your crimes De Silva.” Leon interrupted, he would be damned if he was framed for the horrid things Aarin had done on Malmosi. Aarin slid his hands into his pocket, and grabbed a cigarette box, He proceeded to give it a few tabs and gave a nod of his head. “You know as much as I do you don’t have a choice, You have a week before we drop him off, Binto. Make sure he’s stays alive until then.” Aarin said walking off sliding a cigarette from out of the box, and into his mouth. He wiped off the remaining blood from his nose and strolled away. He would need to see Red after this, certainly, she would want to know the status of the clearance of the underground.
  19. Gravel crunched beneath the heel of boots stretching just over the knee. Within the straps, a knife was sheathed. The leather of boots gave way to the stretch of black jeans. It was easy to blend in when she traveled at night—and she had traveled for quite some time. Her soft leather jacket kept her warm in the cooling days—and colder nights that she walked through. It too, black. In fact, she was impossible to miss. Beneath the black of her jacket, was the belted olive green vest she wore. And beneath it? More black. In fact, there was hardly any other color to her, but the spot of silver on her ears—studs. And above it? black studs. And above those? jade green stud. There were eyes on her—she could feel them. They thought they were discreet, but it was hard to be. For all the modern facilities at the city’s disposal, the way she dressed was not just foreign, but otherworldly—and in most cases, that was a danger. There were outsiders—those who traveled from the other cities—from other cultures. She was something else. What strange creature was this, casually walking down the main road leading to the city’s gates? Why did she walk with such confidence, as if she knew where she was going—as if she had been there before? At her pace, it took her approximately forty minutes to reach the main gate. She knew this—as she knew most things about the city people didn’t particularly care to notice. The water source was twenty minutes away. The forest’s tree line was approximately half an hour away from the east and west sides. She stopped twenty-six paces from the present guard, favoring her left leg. The tension between the five of them was palpable—what in the world was she? Why did she dress that way? At last, someone remembered they were on duty. “State your business in the city of Predator’s Keep.” She squinted at him through the long measure of her silence, her head cocked. It was the sun, really—it was at the wrong time of day to be looking at them, the way it glinted off their armor. Rather than look at them, she looked past them. Her nose seemed to wrinkle in dissatisfaction. Arching a brow, she—almost comically—glanced behind her to see if, perchance, they were speaking to someone else. With both brows raised, she looked back to the four nervous souls. “Casper’s booked.” She replied, intentionally dodging their question. No—she was testing these poor men. Clipped, informed. Blatant disregard—this made them fidget. “State your business in the city of Predator’s Keep.” The man asserted again. Ooh—he was getting testy, that one. “Got many refugees, yet?” Now her head was tilted, side-glancing them. Her right heel was rocking, a half-hearted repetition of pivoting. She had yet to remove her hand from the pockets of her unusual choice of clothing. This, too, made them edgy. They were already getting a feel for the pikes they wielded, only one of them was left handed. “Please, answer the question.” Another confrontation—no. Not a confrontation. A civil courtesy to a stranger. From around her waist she unfastened the belt, revealing a black leather sheath for a dagger, She cautiously held it out to them as a show of disarming herself, "The blade is poisoned. This belonged to my husband--don't lose it." She knelt and unsheathed the second dagger strapped to her boots and relinquished it handle first, "Not poisoned." Reluctantly they took her weapons. "My business in the city means nothing if I don't have the tools to conduct said business." Not that she intended to do something, but she hoped the lesson stuck. Disarm strangers first, ask questions later. "Are you a psion?" "Sometimes." She answered. There was a scoff of disbelief, "What do you mean, 'sometimes'? You either are or you aren't." "Sometimes, I'm a psion. Sometimes, I'm a sorceress. The only one in this city, matter of fact." Slipping her hands back into her pockets she casually strode beyond the gates and into the city, "I should know, I helped build the damned place! If you happen across another one, let me know!" The guards exchanged glances before returning to their post and dumping both daggers into the metal crate to be taken to the armory where they could be picked up. Perhaps some twenty-odd minutes later when another traveler came through, none of the four seemed wise to the black sheath's disappearance. Somewhere in the city, Raveena was buckling her belt, the dagger hidden by the flap of her jacket. People stared at her--and for good reason. Fresh out of Durem City, she did not bother to change her attire to suit the Terran world. She had a lot of work to do in a very short amount of time. The time for exodus was coming, and the Matreyan people needed to be ready. @Howlykin
  20. Months had gone by since her initial summons so she could speak with the one man she had to truly thank for the completion of the underground sector of the Keep. He hadn't arrived, and according to some of her guard and some whispers around the city, he had simply up and vanished, leaving the city without word to her or anyone else. As of just this morning rumor had been swirling that the man was back, so Red sent another summons to him, one she dearly hoped he would return this time. She had a task for him, something rather secretive that only the closest people to her knew about. It was regarding a gift she'd received long ago, locked in a trunk and recently examined by a wizard or two. There was an egg that hadn't hatched, mostly due to her neglect of knowing what exactly it was in the first place, and she knew Vince was more knowledgeable because well, he was part dragon. She hoped he knew something, could give her advice, not knowing whether or not the hatchling inside was even viable, if she'd killed it because she hadn't kept it warm or taken care of it. The egg was craddled in both of her palms as she sat stone still in the high backed chair she always occupied in the War Room, where the Council usually meets to discuss anything important for this city, and as of late even the Scarlet Kingdom itself. Her eyes were intently watching the egg, a deep set frown marring her expression as if she could simply flex her will and bring the thing to life. Likely the blonde wouldn't be so lucky, no matter how many times she tried to reach out and prod for life within the shell, she couldn't quite penetrate the shell to see if there was even life inside to probe for. She was holding herself back, there were too many uncertainties of how such a thing would react to a psionic invasion, if there was actually something alive within it. So she didn't poke and prod too hard, when she felt resistance she backed away each time, leaving her more and more frustrated while she awaited Vince to heed her summons. A sigh filled the silence of the room after her frustration hit it's pique, wooden chair legs scraping across the floor as she pushed herself back and shifted in her seat, very carefully lowering the egg into a soft, cushioned nest she'd created by stuffing pillows and blankets into a large trunk to keep it safe and warm, even though she didn't know if it mattered much or not. Getting up from her seat, Red moved around the table and opened one of the double doors leading into the Keep's Great Hall, where a guard was posted just on the other side. "Any word? Is he actually going to show up this time?" The agitation was evident in her tone, yet by now the personal guard around the Keep were all too used to her moods flipping so there wasn't the typical flinch nor shifting on his feet. "He was seen moving this way not long ago, my guess is he'll be here soon, Your Grace." The guard was a formal man, taking on a formality not many other people could be heard using when speaking to her. 'My Queen' was the most typical, 'Your Grace' seemed old, hundreds of thousands of years ago old, but she secretly enjoyed the way it sounded more than the normal. With a nod, Red retreated back into the room and found herself standing in front of one of the walls where a giant map of Terrenus was posted. There were marks all over, circles and words written in areas she'd claimed, oblong ovals around the lands in which she held rule over. Next to this map was a Genesaris map, and next to that one of the many islands. Each one had the map, markings and words scribbled, showing the true growth of her Kingdom over the past couple of years. @Ishenaelyr, the Scaled
  21. The man struggled inside of his handcuffs, finding himself unable to escape from his current incapacitation. His dark hair thrashed about as he attempting to struggle outside of the handcuffs, wondering why nothing he attempted seemed to work as it should’ve been. The guards paid no mind of course to his constant belligerence, this was not the first time they had to deal with them, and this time they came prepared, while he was restrained with bracers specifically set to hinder his ability to gather electricity, they also took extra care to keep him away from anything sound oriented. Which explains his recent transport. This transport was quite a special one, instead of the standard Black Maria style of a police vehicle, there was a distinct difference, mostly with what was inside. Once the prisoner stepped in, he would find out. All four walls of the back seat were padded with acoustic foam, which in theory would isolate the target inside of his padded vehicle, and leave him completely unable to use any of the abilities he was known for. Aarin De Silva sighed in relief at this thought, he had been a thorn in the cities side for more than a while now, let alone his own. He was relieved to finally have a criminal like him caught and ready to be shipped out. Leontias Mettaliene Former Soldier for the Malmosian Military corp, second division bard, or at least he used to be. How many innocent people felt the edge of the soldier’s blade? A Thousand? Ten Thousand? Aarin was not sure anymore, he was just glad a criminal like him was caught alive and without incident. Of course, he put up a struggle, The EMS Trucks escorting the charred remains of a few of his men were more than enough to remind him of that. However, with him captured, they and the rest of the men he murdered will finally have the justice they seek. That was…if this all goes smoothly. Leon had many he was close to in the underground, and Aarin knew some of them would want to let this criminal goal, either to not lose on a possible allegiance or to honor one already made. That wasn’t going to happen, even if he had to hire extra individuals to make sure it didn’t. Which is what he waited on right now, he now stood, measuring the damage caused by Leontias, making sure there was no one else hurt by his actions, and other than the men that went to attack him, and a few thousand dollars of property damage to the nearby bar (Which included but not limited to a broken front window, charred doors, a destroyed sound system, electrical malfunctions, a blown generators and two broken pool tables.) they found him at, everything seemed well off. That said, his main concern were the people he hired for this job. Seeing how Leon snuck from under him and his guards before he needed to make damn well sure that it wasn’t set to happen again.
  22. "This decision wasn't made lightly, I need someone strong in both mind and body. Running a city isn't a walk in the park, General De'Silva." Matters unconcerning the General had come to light as of late, after the sudden loss of Myrlande whom was supposed to be the reigning Baroness of Predators Keep within Red's Kingdom, the psion hadn't put a rush on appointing someone else into the position until now. Plans had changed, she was no longer going to be living in the city to oversee it while the throne sat empty here, it was important she appointed someone else now, before her leave again that would take her to Genesaris to take on a mission she wasn't sure she would even return from. Ensuring these cities had a leader was her priority, so sitting in the War Room across from Aarin was the last step in safeguarding her legacy. "This Keep needs a transformation, it's a city now but what I need it to be is more than just a city. If you accept this position, you will not only be the Baron but you will retain your title as General. The military is small, my intention is for the Keep to be the central hub for my military. The Underground is riddled with criminals and unsavory people of the like, I want you to focus on either ridding it of those people or converting them into joining the military." It would keep the man busy, she was aware he wasn't a pencil pusher as she hadn't been before she had began this adventure on Valucre. While he grew accustomed to the position he could focus on something he was familiar with, Predators Keep was in a position that was comfortable, self-sustaining, there wasn't much of importance to focus on besides expanding her military. "Along with the Underground conversion, I want you to use these blueprints." On the table between them lay plans, a monstrous airborne ship with the capacity to carry nearly ten thousand men. "It's bare right now, but I trust your expertise to mold it into a formidable tool for the military." @Trexasle
  23. The invitation had been unexpected, even for someone who was a Fate Weaver like herself. She could usually predict aspects like this but she was blindsided and distracted with her usual frivolousness regarding her dirty habits. A man in a carriage had arrived while she was working in her leather crafting work in Predator's Keep when her student came in, letting her know that someone had arrived with a summons. Kalmuli left her little room to be greeted by a nobleman's servant bearing a scroll in hand that contained an invitation to the Altissium court for a special request from the Queen's Regent and the Red Queen herself. To what end, she didn't know. She could very well cheat the system of surprise and figure out what was happening...but what would be the good in that? If they wanted her done in, doing it in a palace court wasn't the wisest route to go. The invitation gave a date and time of her meeting with the Queen Regent Lyra. It was in a few days. Kalmuli would dismiss the servant so he could begin the long trek back toward where he came from and Kalmuli herself began the arrangements to leave for Altissium. She was given a pass as well in the invitation that would allow her to pass through the city gates. She gave herself a day to pack and prepare for the trip. A carriage would take her out to where the cut off and then she would continue the rest of the way on foot so she prepared a light pack. Anything else she could purchase there in the city. The carriage arrived the next day and she left instructions for her student as well as her higher ranking apprentices to mind the shops and the academy before she headed out. A Queen's summons was to be taken seriously and if she needed some time, she would have to prepare for a long absence. The trip itself was pleasant. Kalmuli slept most of the time until they stopped for the night at an inn where they ate what the inn had for the meal of the night and then continued their travels in the early morning. It took several days to get there and the warm, tropical climate was a welcome change once they reached the pass where she had to travel on foot. This at least allowed her to give her some time to get adjusted to the weather and take the time to take in the sights. One in particular she found herself fond of was a cat peacock. She managed to hunt it down, holding onto it until it surrendered and toted it around with her into Altissium itself, carrying it around like a pet. A new pet for her collection no doubt. At the gates, the Peacock Cat stayed on her shoulders while she presented her pass and entered the city. A pair of guards met her near by to take her right to the Queen Regent's home. There she was allowed to clean up from her trip and dress in attire that was more comfortable for the climate and more formal for meeting the Queen Regent. She dressed in a gown of green, similar to that of the Peacock cat who now enjoyed the idea of being pampered with affection and free food. "I think you'll fit in nicely at the Pendulum...but let's see what Lysandra has planned for me first hm?"She said with a chuckle, licking up the bird-feline and let it perch on her shoulder with the tail feathers adding a nice trailing addition to the back of her summery low-cut gown. She was guided to the chambers where she would meet the woman who invited her, standing with her hands folded in proper courtly mannerisms. "The Lady Kalmuli from the Pendulum Healing Houses has arrived, your grace."The handmaid with her announced, waiting for permission to enter. @Red the Ambivalent
  24. @Metty The wanderer in rags had stepped outside of the Pendulumn for a quick smoke. He would take some time before heading out to see his apprentice. In the mean time he would try one of these wrapped up herbs he stole of someone with some misdirection. Makiel shook his head and dug in his pocket for the strikebox he had bought before he made the trip to Valucre. With a quick strike and a lit flame, Makiel lit the herbs and took a deep inhale. It burned a bit on the way down but it helped to get some flame essence as well. His back against the walls of the Pendulumn he had begun to sing a bit of a tune he had picked up from the river king. It was a soothing melody that helped to get him back to a very relaxed state.
  25. Let’s take a walk down Main Street. I’ll show you a little bit of the fine city we call Altissium. Come on, let’s go. First I’ll ask you to breathe. In – out. No, not the shallow sort of mouth-breathing that it seems the common have grown accustomed to, no: breathe deeply. Take the whole of the city into your lungs, every droplet of air, every speck of salt-spray that comes flying off the waves that thunder against the immutable stone of the docks. That’s the smell of mortality and immortality both. Now I’m going to ask you to focus a bit, and try to find the earthiness of baked clay, the fresh sea-salt scent. If you’re good, you’ll get the smell of wide-brimmed, fresh growth hot with sunshine. These are the foundations of our city, and these foundations are immortal. We have built a palace that skims the surface of the ocean and we’ve built it to last the ages. We have the favor of the earth, the sky, the deep blue sea. It fills you with life, right? Now let go of that focus, and let the rest of it hit you. The obvious. The overt that you can see and hear right there. The sweet mass of life – and it’s not the humid or hot tangle of bodies that you feel in the cities, it’s sets of doting lovers, families, laughing children, the old with suntanned faces wrinkled by smiles. It is fresh and vivacious, and with that brush they throw themselves all across the street, poring over fresh fruit, toys, perfumes, clothes spun of silk and linen, of cloths whose names I can’t even pronounce. That heavy spice, pepper and anise, honey, wine, hot, savory oil and hearty breads and the reassuring rumble of boiling water running undercurrent. You want to eat here? It’s a favorite of mine, I’m good friends with the owner – Hey Brunswick, (he’s the owner of this fine establishment, see), how’s it going? – come on in! Against the cloudless sky of high noon, a man can’t ask for more than this. We, my friend, are the firmament that God created to divide two brilliant, divine blues: one cerulean, speckled with the beaming rays of the sun, and the bottomless deeps. That’s Altissium, first of the world. Leastways, I think so. They say the whole world’s an oyster, and – hah! – in this city more than anywhere else, we know how to cook ‘em. Come on, bask in the sun a little. I prefer balcony spots at this place, anyway – there’s an empty table over there. The walls and halls don’t really feel like walls and halls do they? They are free of restriction, free of the sense of imprisonment that they are full of elsewhere. They don’t keep us in, any more than we keep others out. They don’t push us into alleyways, or guide us onto the proper path. It’s a natural thing, like the trees and the sand and the birds and the bees. Coexistence – they’re outlines for the city here. Look at it! Red stucco and brick, plaster and the sunbaked sandstone, under the spreading shadows of great towering palms. We build our villas not because of anything so brusque as “shelter”. It was because we couldn’t think of anything better to put there, and isn’t it a beautiful thing? Gentle on the eyes, yes, but never ordinary. It’s hot, strange, like the touch of an exotic woman. The kind that takes you breathless, and doesn’t take your wallet afterwards. There’s a piece of Altissium for you. Hold on, watch this. There’s a coconut. I can’t eat any, I’m allergic, but here. What you do, is take a knife and carve out grips for your fingers – it’s fibrous, so the peel is easier to pull off than pare. I spent a long time learning this in my youth, because my father would come home from fishing all sunburnt and the first thing he’d always demand was a fresh coconut. Being the oldest, I had to learn to cater to him, reasoning being that one day I’d be out there, drinking coconuts and slapping around a rowdy bunch of boys. (Funny that I ended up a baker.) Then we’d go out, all of us, and one by one we’d slap the haul onto ice and wheel the whole thing into the market: the market right outside, actually. How things have changed, and how things have stayed the same. Drink up, let yourself relax a bit. In the end, nothing has changed about this paradise Altissium. We’ve got five senses, that’s what I learned in school – this city of ours, then, is beautiful in five ways, and perfect in each of those five. It’s a god damned delight. If I could describe this city, now and forever, in five words? “The summertime of our youth.” It’s a place that you fall in love with, that you could just as easily fall in love in. The air exudes romance. Never happened to me, but hey – I had my livelihood to care for. Who knows, you’re a strapping young lad. And you know what? I’m feeling good, lucky, for you. I have a feeling you’ll find what you’re looking for in our city. Nobody’s ever unsatisfied who comes here. Alan was acutely aware of the stares that were pointed in his direction, like spotlights, from around the quieted room. (He thought of the words “firing squad,” briefly.) They belonged to people who had a right, in his opinion, to look: curious patrons, worried patrons, confused patrons, and most egregiously, a dark and stormy glare from the presumed owner of the establishment, whom his companion, the Baker, had pointed out earlier as a “friend”. But these bothered him little. The man was used to being an object of mockery and hatred, although typically his audience and tormentor was the mirror. This was different, slightly, being watched by others – but Alan too was a man of extremes, and the size of a slightness did not reach deep enough to inspire shame or embarrassment. He was already uncomfortable enough. Nothing could make him more so than he was. So he quirked a complementary smile for the baker sitting beside him, acknowledging his generously spoken prophecy of romance, and touched his pen to his notepad for the tenth time in as many minutes: The Baker – Mr. Mendal – has no recollection of his wife. He says that being married “never happened to me,” and insists that he prioritizes his bakery over love. The statement was given unwarranted. “Thank you, Mr. Mendal.” “OH, DON’T THINK ANYTHING OF IT, PLEASE,” the baker guffawed, and slapped Alan on the back audibly. “CONSIDER IT YOUR FIRST TASTE OF ALTISSIAN HOSPITALITY!” The stares continued. There was, briefly, the crashing surf in the distance, the gentle burble of the canal that the restaurant overlooked, and the muffled clatter of the kitchen. All muted, all undertones; the lack of true sound was painful. Alan winced as his back began to sting with the man’s full-bodied blow, and nodded quickly and with false smiles and whispered reassurances. “Yes, yes, thank you so much, this city has been a true delight – “ and deliberately left out the subject of payment. He felt that “Altissian hospitality” had more than a few words to say – to shout – about that. It had grown increasingly clear that the man had been tampered with. That he was not quite whole, that there was something off with him if he was still himself. A puppet being pulled along by some distant strings, if even that – more likely, he was as a machine, rebuilt with a single function: to hinder all parties in investigating Agatha Mendal’s disappearance and presumed death, the latest of a long chain in Altissium. It did not unnerve Alan as much as it should have, but the people around glaring at the duo were clearly disturbed at their friend who was not their friend, and the stranger who had dragged it out into public with hardly a care for the terror that plagued them all. But this was his mission. He was here for a cause: because Dove ordered it, because a friend had demanded a favor from her, because that friend himself had a friend in a dire strait.. It was a poor cause, made by a poor creature, but men had died for lesser causes than this. In this way, Alan was a puppet as well, and he had a little sympathy for the pseudo-Mendal that tried so desperately to be real before him. Did he have emotions, still? Did he think of love, sadness, grief, anger, joy? To which of the two was Alan asking these questions? Thinking is a dangerous thing. Too much thinking, and a man grasps the fragilities inherent in his life. The inconsistencies. Reality isn’t much of a truth; it is just a very well-put together dream. From a distance, from the high vantage of the mind, so vivid and colorful and real but if one looks too closely one begins to see flaws. Bumps, stitches where the imperfections reside. A bit too much prodding, and it falls apart in one’s hands. A statue of sand. Mendal was one such thing. Alan, too, enjoyed not thinking. It was a life of thoughtless discomfort, but that was easier than facing one’s demons thoughtfully. But the demons were still there, outside the door, waiting for the one day he’d be mad with courage. The man would have preferred to forget, to be rewritten, maybe. That was the whole of what swam within Alan’s mind as he closed the notepad, tucked the pen into his shirt pocket, and made ready to leave the restaurant. Mendal, you lucky son of a bitch. The scientist froze as a great, large presence came from behind him. Brunswick, a giant of a man, placed a giant of a hand gently upon his shoulder, and although he steadfastly refused to look back and reveal his nervousness, he could feel the threatening, dazzling grin of the restaurateur burning into his back. “Upstairs.” Then, to the baker: “Al, it’s so good to have you back. I was worried, I hadn’t seen you in a week. What’re you doing!” “I just haven’t had the time, you know? Last batch of bread was a rush shipment, they doubled the order the day before – apparently I’m getting popular someplace.” Mendal dug his hands through his pockets, searching for his wallet. “So how much is that gonna be, eh? I’m treating the newcomer – he’s a real nice fella, new to this place, says he’s thinking about moving in. Gotta show him what good stuff us Altissians are made of, yeah?” Brunswick and Mendal laughed at the same time – perhaps more accurately, pseudo-Mendal synchronized his to his once-friend’s – and the restaurateur held up a hand. “Please, please. It’s on the house.” “Oh, you son of a bitch!” Mendal turned to Alan, proferring his hand. “Well, it’s been a fine pleasure. Hope to see you around.” “And you too, Mr. Mendal. Ave, be well.” The grip on his shoulder tightened. Alan swallowed and faked one last smile for the machine’s benefit. A small mercy. Godspeed, you husk. Pitiful, enviable, empty thing. The sunlight swayed as the door to the restaurant swung on its hinges, back and forth. When it came to a stop, Brunswick and Alan were still there, standing at the head of a quietly attentive crowd. Hand on shoulder, twinned smiles that tried too hard. It felt somewhat like a death sentence, but Alan understood that this case had yet to open. The false Mendal had made a mistake, and brought him to a friend of the former one. Lead after lead…Mistress Dove had a knack for picking the interesting assignments. Alan let out a breath and shakily turned his head to face the man. “Mr. Brunswick. Let’s talk.”
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