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  1. Thickly gauzed between wake and sleep, Tia tossed in tense slumber. In the way one does the night before their death sentence, in the way an insect does on the spider's axis, it turned. Leather gloves groaned over thick hands and in bands around bridles and the horse’s quiet blow. Some smatterings of dusty shops and barns on the outskirts of Tia formed a desolate ghost town in the advent of its war. All that traveled here were scavengers and those in a hurry to get out. From afar, the village could be assumed haunted with the specters of future and present. Venture closer in the silent dusk, within a grey barn, and a specter from the past could be found. Clouds of dirt strayed from one of many paths to Tia and lurked among the bobbing cattails; among the buildings; among the Dead. Within the barn there were four carriages, black shawls concealing the eight heads of their steeds. One carriage would be a little cramped. The others, not so much. Cain was wearing a black jumper with several loops and pockets and had two backpacks strung over each shoulder, but no mask. Tossing back half of a potion and slipping its vial into a pocket, he turned to address the Dead. Had he become something less human yet, in the span of a million stolen experiences? More? Times like this, when pins and needles danced down his desensitized spine, made him wonder. He unshouldered the bags and placed them before him, appraising all the masked figures before him with a subtly pleased expression. All of the masked figures had a black circular sticker planted somewhere on their bodies which allowed telepathic communication between the circles. The doors to a carriage behind Cain swung open to reveal the barrels from nights before. “The fact that they don't know we're coming does not make you impervious. The masks are important. Concealing your identity is important. Victory, is important. Each bag has a Maleficence antidote in a syringe for each of you, one faux-ton pair and one MAL bomb. Hope you’re not scared of needles. Inject like so,” he stabbed a needle into his forearm and squeezed in the plunger with his thumb, throwing the needle aside. "We're the only ones with this antidote, so the waterborne illness won't get you. The plant's pheromone is stronger though; it will start to affect you after a few hours. Make you crazy. “Remember, plant one half of your faux-ton receiver at the shaft control center when you first arrive. Descend to the negative fifth level and find the incision vent to secure your charge to. When you receive the signal that Schrei and I have unloaded our barrels into the WAK irrigator, you get back to the elevator shaft, faux-ton yourself back up to the control center and get the hell out of there. If for some reason we fail, I will tell you, in which case we’ll make a scene at the WAK so you can still get into the shafts where security is minimal. I’ll remotely blow your charges when everyone is clear or they’ll blow themselves after a three minute timer. Make sure you beat that. Any problems are to be reported immediately, as I will you, though if we get off two of the charges we’ll still meet quota.” Members of the respective teams had been shown diagrams of the shafts they would infiltrate, so with rigorous studying their knowledge of entry and exit would be about two-thirds as thorough as a shaft employee. The features of the red-haired First Officer began to warp as he spoke via telepathic connection, gesturing in odd quiet at this and that. They never stopped warping, causing his face to become a constantly shifting anomaly. Eye color, jaw shape, nose, always different than the prior moment, turned from the line of individuals. “Schrei, you’re with me. We’ll go on ahead, the rest of you should leave in five minutes.” He paused while getting into his carriage, looking back on all of them. Though his features were in a constant state of melding into something else, one thing was uniform across all of the features. Concern. “Today is a terrible day. Be cautious.” In a black tower outside of Tia, where fateful happenings had once unseated Cain, sat a jagged throne of animal horns and hides. Upon it sat the Patriarch of Tia, Serafino Dolos. Some twenty-four feet to his left sat a giant cage embedded into the wall. Inside that, on a scraggly tweed chair, sat a perfect likeness of Cain; Nica Sero, the self-aware clone he’d once used to lord over Tia. Serafino didn’t sweat; his stomach didn’t churn; but he felt off. Aside from the dress, which could be reasonably mistaken for part of a funeral procession or just some emo, horsedrawn carriages without drivers were quite common in Tia. As a matter of fact, some high-faluters used mechanical horses powered by steam to drive their vehicles. As their two-horse carriage pulled into Tia amid the waking yawn of the kingdom, the Cain of many faces looked at a masked Schrei. “Are you ready?” he asked as the carriage rolled along with eerie smoothness down the WAK avenue. There were two other masked figures in the carriage who sat silently.
  2. In the town of Spalding, not far from Tia... The wind was blowing. Swishing and whooshing like a wolf trying to blow down a brick house built by pigs, swooshing and swirling like a merry-go-round spinning underwater (okay a merry-go-around probably wouldn't work properly while submerged but this is a simile so screw the rules), blowing and blowing and blowing like a particularly enthusiastic gay man going to town on his boyfriend. It was, one could say... a windy day. But little did anyone know, that this wind, in all its windy windiness, was carrying: DEATH!!!! *** The outskirts of Spalding. Two mustachioed gentlemen sat together on a log, gazing at the sky. The pair were birdwatchers, you see, and it had become a favorite pastime of theirs to stroll out of town on occasion to take a gander at the local avian fauna, which they would identify and catalogue for their own entertainment. Today was no exception: their eyes were glued to their binoculars, which in turn scanned back and forth in the hopes of catching a stray pair of wings for the two men to gawk at in tandem. "I say!" one said at last, "Jerome! Have a look at this fine specimen!" Jerome swiveled his binoculars in the direction indicated. His eyes widened behind the glass lenses at he caught sight of a... a... goodness, what the devil was that? "Ah... yes... a fine specimen indeed..." "A thick-billed budgerigar, perhaps?" Jerome laughed. "Oh, so one might think! But budgerigars only have two eyes, do they not? Whereas this fellow here has three! As such, it can only be a Triclopean Goshawk." "Aren't goshawks bigger than that?" "Well, yes, but... it could be a juvenile." The other man frowned, and squinted again. "What's with those purple clouds coming off it, then?" "Perhaps a bad case of flatulence?" The two men chuckled merrily as the strange bird flew over them. They chuckled merrily as they wiped their brows with handkerchiefs, and turned their eyes back to the open skies. They chuckled merrily as they ignored the tiny purplish particles trailing down in the mutant bird's wake and settling around them, seeping in through their mouths and nostrils and infecting their respective bloodstreams. They chuckled merrily, as they tore each other to shreds in the throes of bloodthirsty rage. *** The mutant bird flew on, and Maleficence spooled down in its wake, dispersed onto the winds with every flap of its twisted wings. All throughout the town of Spalding, people began to twitch, their eyes going bloodshot as something vile and vicious began to seep into their veins. First came the shouts, and then came the screams... ...and then came the shriek of an old woman, who roused amidst the tumult and fumbled for the wooden staff that leaned against the wall by her bedside. "Doggone it, not again!"
  3. From far away, a long time ago, Tia climbed into the sky a mountain of steel, shrouded in mist and fog and vapor. The giant arms of steam rigs teetered this way and tottered that, belching it all into the sky in the name of productivity and steam machinery. It was gross in the raw truth it ripped from Valucre’s mantle and excreted into the sky, but undeniable and industrial; with the appearance of strength and unstoppability. It was upon this Tia that a young man with a wild side and a taste for cologne came with hopes for prosperity. It wasn’t long before the lad found some real bustling joint called La Belle Peches. It had the ladies, the glitz and the glam, and all the drugs a guy could get his hands on. “Poppin whizzers and bangin’ pauperesses,” he used to drunkenly slur to the boys walking off to bounce at the ol’ La Belle. He got a real reputation for himself, always smelling good and whooping ass when he needed to. In ten years he got a reputation for being a real bruiser, even though size was never on his side and style always was. Wore a black suit with nice brass buttons and never fucked up one, you could even ask his coworkers. That is, until the whole place was blasted out the blazing ass of kingdom come. La Belle Peches, a long-forgotten translation of the phrase, “The Great Sins,” was no more. Benny the bruisin’ Benefactor was no more. The hotspot had been so hot, its explosion even hotter, so that government investigation into the criminal ties held by club leaders and the perpetrators of its destruction. The shell of The Great Sins was left for years, wavering and ineffective yellow tape flapping in the wind that whistled through twisted steel. Gray light through which dust swam like sea monkeys, snow and wind and rain, dancing on the broken glass-speckled floor for years. Until the crunch of glass, the grating of weight along the starlit surface, emanated from the hollowness. Months after the incident came rumors from the flats nearby that somebody was shouting from the yawning chasm of La Belle’s remains. Shouting for them to come, come say hello, come have a drink. Come, and see the wonders of La Belle Peches. Nobody ever did, but nobody ever demolished the place either. It was just avoided altogether. After a few more years, seedier businesses began moving in and taking advantage of the cleared out area around La Belle Peches’ remains. Eventually word spread that there was a demon lurking in the shadows, one who collected and manufactured scents. It was his only passion, in fact. These seedier business owners learned that by providing the demon with scents, they were able to enlist him in luring the loved ones of competing business owners into his lair. The power of this demon’s scents has been known to scintillate all manner into coming to his shadows, from which they never emerge again. The Benefactor, they call him, is not a businessman himself, from his office in the shell of the Great Sins he makes some of the most profound business dealings in all of Tia. It is through bribing these seedy business-owners that finding the Benefactor and making a wager with him is possible. Now, in a tumultuous Tia where vampires have reclaimed rule and ride through the night whooping like wildmen, the shell of The Great Sins remains a respected and feared area. Though much of Tia is in unrest, the state of the Benefactor’s sway on its economy remains unchanged. In a city infested with danger, the shell of The Great Sins is still a patch wherein lies potential for the greatest of it.
  4. It was almost like a yearning…like a voice constantly whispering with in her mind guiding her back to a city that she once loved. Everyone wants to feel powerful. They want to feel like their life is worth something in this world. The irony always lies in the fact that once a person dies, most tend to see all the time they wasted pursuing power when they never got to live their life. The idea of not living at all seemed to be chaotic to Selena. She was immortal, forever to dawn the coat of beauty and life, only to never truly embrace the sweet taste of Death’s hard lips. She had evaded that thing for centuries and sadly it was something she was starting to regret. However the spirit of Tia called to her, and so she came out of her slumber and stood before the gates of Tia. Things sure have changed. It seemed bigger and it seemed to be better than when she led the city. Selena thought back on those times and merely shook her head. She was blinded by power, blinding by ambitious and rightfully put in her place. It wasn’t often that she would lose control of territories she held her claws deeply in, but she accepted that it was for the better. Selena lifted her cloak slightly and fixed her hood which covered her pale skin and long blond hair, but did little to hide her sharp emerald eyes. She entered the gates under the guise of a nearby crowd. Once inside she merely smiled. The city was bustling and was rich with life. However her happiness faded, when the voices reached out spoke to her again. It was almost like they were guiding her somewhere. Selena just wanted to go back to her slumber. For years she sleet, in a location unknown to her and even to her family. The Nichole family, as far as she knew, was dead. She could not sense any hint of their power anywhere, which caused Selena some worry and grief. Family was everything to her. Family was the cornerstone of her life and gave her the greatest sense of pride. Selena looked around slightly and continued walking, following the voice stuck in her head. It highlighted a magic that only Selena could see, for it drew a line of light in the ground, which she followed. Selena to the world would seem like a homeless beggar; a woman covered in a long black cloak with her face hidden. However underneath that cloak she looked magnificent. She was not dirty, nor was she needing any sense of food or accommodations. What she needed was the voices to stop. They spoke up again, which caused Selena to stop. Magic seemed to open up from within her body as she sensed it reacting to the area around her. Selena solidified her resolve and shut it off. It was like she held a palm over the water rushing from a dam. Over the years she had built up such a reserve of magic that it frightened her. It terrified her, but under no circumstances was she going to ever release it in the middle of a city. That would be utterly insane. Controlling her nerves, Selena pulled her cloak tightly around her body as she gazed upwards. “Nichole School of Magick” Her voice was but a whisper as her head tilted to the side. Was this the school Kyra Nichole had created? Confused Selena stood in front of the school for a while looking over every crevice of the site. The voices in her head had stopped.
  5. Small group for this, 1 or 2 preferred, but 3 at most. PM me with any questions! All around the city, on a dozen different public boards, a single notice had been posted, often in the center or in places where the eye would naturally be drawn to such a notice. It was written on deliberately aged-looking parchment, with some artful folds and cuts worked into the edges. Any real artist could tell it was falsely aged, the color from coffee and the wear-and-tear far too new to be real, but that was more or less the point. Each poster had a motif beneath the words, carefully applied around the lettering, which resembled a sun with multiple radiating lines. The same motif repeated itself in the inked words, each bullet point a small sunburst. ¤ ATTENTION ¤ Do you have need of an artist? Do you want to give a gift that will be meaningful and last for as long as your love will? Do you just need a pass but the agency in question has been too stubborn for your liking? SEARCH NO MORE! Simply come to the Skywater Pub and inquire after 'Sunny, Artist for Hire!' ¤ Portraits ¤ Landscapes ¤ Family Images¤ ¤ Poetry ¤ Signatures (Official and Otherwise) ¤ Base rate of 40 silver pieces, with addt'l silver pending size and complexity of project First come, first serve! Sunny stepped back from the last of the posters, wiping her forehead with one arm, twirling the hammer in her free hand. "Lovely," she murmured to herself, smirking her most winning smirk in preparation to convince the uncertain to part with their coin. It was what she was best at, be it by legitimate business or less conventional means. And this... well, if she were being truly honest, it blurred the lines between the two at best. In truth, it was little more than a forgery service for the less savvy criminals or the less fortunate civilians, a means by which tickets could be 'forgiven' by the courts, so to speak. The wording was meant to be subtle but plain; come to me if you want a certificate forged. It won't be cheap. Come alone. She spun the hammer again and turned on her heel, whistling as she walked the familiar path back to the pub where she did her business. Sunny was a slight figure, slim and small, and her step was light and quiet. The tunic she wore under a light leather vest had both sleeves rolled to the elbow, the better to deal with Tia's copious amounts of steam. A simple rope belt cinched her pants around her hips. Her blonde hair was braided back behind her head, mostly obscuring the dark mark that stretched from the base of her skull to the nape of her neck. Her eyes were almond-shaped and quick and clever, colored golden, like the edge of a sunrise. The Airwater wasn't a very new place, or a very clean one, but it also wasn't filthy or ramshackle. The proprietor, a rotund man named Gleeson who'd once flown merchant airships, had been suspicious of Sunny at first, but after she'd given him a portion of her take he'd changed his tune. He still didn't like it, of course, but Sunny couldn't care less about that. Gleeson could huff and scowl and mutter all he liked, at the end of the day he still took her coin and played dumb to the handful of guards who ever came looking for her. Gleeson looked up as she came in and planted his hands on the counter, thick nails digging into the worn wood. "So you didn't get nicked yet?" "No, much to your chagrin, I'm sure. I've just hung a fresh set of posters." He turned his head and spat on the floor. "I'm tired of hostin' your motley crew of miscreants day in and day out, Sunny. I'm tryin' to run a reputable pub here." "Is that why your food is almost always burnt?" she shot back, arching an eyebrow. His expression soured further, and she sighed as she reached over the counter to lay her hands on his. "Glee, my friend, come now. Reputable or not, you'd still get a rougher sort of client in a place like this. It isn't me, it's just the location. Besides," she slid her hands back and propped them on her hips instead. "Besides, criminals frequent even the nicest bars. How do you think most of the government pays its way?" "Not by bloody forgery!" he hissed back, but kept his voice low by necessity. The door had just swung open to admit another customer, and he shook his head as he moved down the bar to help them. Sunny just grinned at his back and leaned over the bar, nearly climbing over it to retrieve a fresh bowl of nuts. She sat back and helped herself to a handful, leaning one elbow on the bar, her eyes far away as she pondered what the day might bring. She paid little attention to the other patron, her mind all at once far away from the bar and her profession. She half wished someone would actually request a painting again. For all her defending it, she wasn't entirely proud of her work. To paint a person, or a setting again... she sighed and brushed the thought away, focusing her eyes on the door, ready for whatever might come through.
  6. Several hundred miles from Tia, on a quiet patch of land surrounded by forest all around, a little village by the name of Colkirk was glimpsing its first winks of starlight. On an ordinary evening, that meant people retiring to their beds. Farming was hard work, if not gruelling in the summer. Hours ago, it’d been hot enough to soak shirts and keep Ms. Temple fanning away on her porch. The only people who thought it was a good idea to stay up were young lovers and Mr. Bowman, who’d always been paranoid since someone, or something, took off with his goat a few years ago. Unfortunately for Wyatt Benson, this wasn’t an ordinary evening. The Harvest Festival was the one time in the year when the village gathered together to celebrate. Coincidentally, it was also the one time his mother made him wear a bowtie so tight it made him gag at every vowel. He tried to keep his face a mask while she fiddled at his neck, though he found his fingers writhing angrily in his hands. “Aaaaand there.” A gentle tug of told Wyatt she was finished. “My, don’t you look handsome!” Ms. Benson stood up to marvel at her son. She was a tall woman, with curly brown hair and skin darker than his. As usual, she was all dolled up for the festival. Wyatt could see the way her cheeks flushed a deeper shade of red that reminded him more of sunburns than anything else. “Do I really have to wear this?” he asked. “Don’t start, Wyatt.” “But Mom-“ “Wyatt,” a voice intruded. Slowly, Wyatt’s father slipped into the room, tugging at a collar of his own. “Don’t argue with your mom. Believe me, it works out better for everyone that way." Ms. Benson shot the man a look. He seemed to enjoy every second of it, smiling as if he’d just told the world’s greatest joke. Wyatt didn’t quite understand but he smiled too. Together, they made for the door to slip on their shoes, then started walking down the dirt road where the festival awaited them. They ran into a couple of Wyatt’s classmates on the way- none of which were wearing bowties. Luckily, they didn’t tease him anymore. This would make the fifth year since his mother had started the trend, and it had only been funny until two years ago when he was eight. By the time they reached the village’s center, they’d amassed a group of about five more. Wyatt’s father gave him the nod saying it was okay to run off and go play, and the kids took off, grinning, towards the brightly lit stalls not too far away, eager to spend their allowances on ice cream and rigged contests. “That game was rigged!” someone said later. “Yeah, pretty sure some of those rings were magnetized,” someone else said. “Guys!” Wyatt exclaimed. He was pointing at a pillar with a bell affixed to its top and a hammer leaning against its side. “No way.” “Yes way!” “C’mon Wyatt, you know that’s a scam. My brother’s a tank and he never got it more than halfway last y- Wyatt! Wyatt!" Wyatt was already gone. So was his money when his friends caught up. The older man gave him a once over as he handed him the hammer. Had Wyatt not been so young, he would’ve almost certainly seen the guilt cornering the man’s smile. For now, though, he was too preoccupied with the newfound tool in his hands. It was heavy, heavier than he’d expected. Kind of like his father’s shovel, with all the weight on one end except it was all rubber and no metal. He bounced it up and down, swung it side to side, testing its weight and what he had to work with. The pillar in front of him was divided into several rows, each one labelled progressively. Wet Noodle sneered at him from the very bottom; Catastroceps looked down on him from the very top. He thought he’d try his hand at Beef Jerky, or maybe even Roid Monkey, just a teensy bit over the middle. “You gonna swing, kid?” “Yessir!” Wyatt replied, straightening. When he swung, the whole world seemed to reverberate. The ground shook. The air seized. VWOOP VWOOP VWOOP! On and on and on, that’s what Wyatt heard, like a rapid-fire sample of garbled whale song. It rumbled him to his very bones, and it wasn’t because the bell had rung. All around him people were mumbling. Some were staring at the sky. Wyatt found himself among the latter, as he gaped at an object the size of a small building rapidly descending upon the festival. He immediately recognized a set of massive propellers, and then even bigger engines. An airship, he thought. He’d never seen one in person before. Those who hadn’t left yet watched the monstrous transport crush a swath of tents upon its landing. The audible barrage gradually dimmed, but what replaced it were the anxieties of village folk and, more importantly, the hiss of steel doors. Inside the ship, bright LEDs shone from a cavernous room. Out poured ranks of men upon men armoured from head to toe, faces hidden by dark masks. No more than a thin second later, arcane rifles flashed their neon payloads. People were screaming and falling and Wyatt was running towards his parents, who'd been impossibly lucky to have found him so quickly. They ran, so fast that Mr. Benson had to scoop Wyatt into his arms to maintain momentum. Not once did they stop, not even to help Ms. Temple who’d fallen down. Over his father’s shoulder, Wyatt watched her get up only to be struck by a bolt of stray green. Something in his chest lurched at the sight of her collapsing. He hadn’t realized he’d closed his eyes until he opened them again. Where the village used to be, there was now the darkness of the forest. Sometimes he’d catch wisps of light in between the trees, or a dark shadow snapping at their heels. Were they being chased? Or w- Mr. Benson tripped. Wyatt suddenly flew from his grasp and landed on a patch of dirt and firm roots. He curled up on his side for a few seconds, maybe five, before getting to his feet and scrambling to his father. The man was breathing hard. He tried to get up but got about as far as a groan before sinking to his knees. In the dim moonlight, it was hard to tell what was wrong with him. Wyatt turned for his mother and… “Dad, where’s mom?” A slow beat stretched over them. “Wyatt…” “Where’s mom?" His father didn’t answer right away. “Wyatt, listen to me,” he said, voice cracking in a way Wyatt had never heard before. “You have to go. I can’t get up, there’s something wrong with my ankle.” “I can’t-“ “You can!” his father nearly roared. In the distance, Wyatt heard muffled voices closing in. “Here, take this ring.” Cool metal wrapped itself around his finger. He flexed his hand instinctively, unfamiliar with the subtleness of the ring’s touch. Somehow it fit perfectly, like it had never been meant for his father’s meaty digit. “Never take this off. As long as you have it on, as long as you close your eyes, no one will ever be able to find you.” “But dad-“ The voices grew louder. “Wyatt, I need you to go.” “Over here!” one of them yelled. Wyatt’s father shoved him back into a bush. “Close your eyes and don’t open them! Don’t say anything, don’t-“ A low whine filled the air. Bright green flared against Wyatt's eyelids, leaving nothing except an abrupt rustling of leaves and crickets. A few men, he didn’t know how many, strode into the clearing. “Where’s the other one?” one of them said. His voice had a slick texture bordering on oily. “What?” another asked. "There was just him, wasn’t there?” “No, there were two. He had a kid with him.” “You sure?” “Positive,” the oily man said. “Well, if there was a kid, he couldn’t have gotten far then. Here,” the second man said, before a soft buzz whirred haphazardly. A brief silence reigned over the two, while whatever was buzzing zipped around near and far. Wyatt thought it sounded like a giant bee. The buzzing stopped. “Nothing.” “I swear he was carrying a kid.” “Hey, if you want to go looking for something this little sucker couldn’t find, be my guest. Just make sure to come back on time.” The oily man said nothing. Instead, there was just a shuffling of bodies, then silence. Wyatt waited. One minute. Two minutes. Five, fifteen, thirty. “Dad?” … “Dad.” Wyatt opened his eyes, knowing all too well his father was gone.
  7. Dancing with Devils Land - Terrenus City - Tia Tia, an amalgamation of technology, industry,military might and Magic. Long ago forged on the backs of those seeking fortune and favor. The city itself was far from beautiful with its large pipe lines weaving throughout largely metallic structures, each more patch worked than the last. But in this city there was treasure to be found, those who were not adverse to hard work would find it easy to make a living in the various factions of the city itself. The military and police often needing new recruits, the manual labor forces always need new hands to replace those retiring or those who vanished without a trace. It was a prosperous city indeed, but with each city there was a darker side to it. This one was largely accepted as part of every day life, after all what could be done against the denizens of the night? Gangs, fight clubs, and mysterious missing people cases were nothing new to the cities underground scene. The vampires who called the city home were more often organised, choosing to lay low and not attract a large amount of attention to themselves, although as with most groups there were those who would ruin it for the rest. Creatures who would stalk the shadows of the buildings after dusk, seeking out anyone who had not yet returned to the safety of their homes. It was a given that most places were safe but to go walking through the dark maze like pathways that were dotted about the town was asking for trouble. Additional business for this thread: Devil's and Ladies bar and hostel: A seemingly run down bar with a patchwork of iron plating making up the exterior of the building, located not far from the storage warehouses that good were often placed after coming off the trains. Although it is situated in a place where there is a large number of people passing by it is often overlooked due to its odd opening hours, the owner deciding to cater to the more nocturnal crowd instead. Offering a sanctuary for anyone arriving late into the city as well as good food, beer and sometimes entertainment. Inside it was well set up, comfortable yet cheap leather chairs were placed around small tables, the lighting enough to see but dim enough not to blind the already drunk patrons. This is run by Marg, a rather hearty former adventurer. A heavy blonde braided beard, round almond eyes and rosy red cheeks would be what most knew him for, as well as his thunderous laughter. He is both the owner and bartender for the joint. No one bothers to try anything inside for fear of being tossed out a window by the 7ft giant of a man. Storage depo no.7 - The basement: Further down the winding maze like walkways and roads would be the less expensive storage facilities. Usually only used for emergency storage until a more desirable unit would become available. However there was one unit that was always in use, the lights coming on each night as various people gathered to go inside. Once inside there would be an elevator that would take customers down to an underground room that was carved out from the rock and molded around existing pipes. It resembled a hive in a way, with four stories of walkways and viewing areas all surrounding a blood stained boxing ring. Inside this area people looking to make a quick buck or test their skills would face an opponent who would no doubt be there for a similar reason. Guards would be hired to stop any of the viewers from interfering with the fights, cameras there more to record the event itself instead of for safety reasons. The area seemed brutal but it was a favorite pastime for some of the residents of the city, why not gamble your money away? Spend the night watching complete strangers beat each other senseless and sometimes to death? There is no known name for the group of people who run this ring, only that the dead contenders vanished without a trace quickly after, could it be a deal with local vampires? Who knew, maybe it was vampires who ran the ring itself? ((So this is my first thread, please feel free to jump on in and play as you see fit. I am doing this to give my character a chance to step in and settle down in this city. Interactions are welcomed, but be aware I have my own story to weave. ;) Other than that please adhere to the site rules and enjoy yourselves.))
  8. A sudden scratching and rustling broke the silence of the modest cottage. Wooden furniture quite and undisturbed, the faint like off a shaded window cast heavy shadow throughout the main room. A lone corner had the faint glow of blue, emanating from a cluster of fungi lovingly gathered and kept in an earthen dish. All was still and void of movement. The scratching at the door grew more fevered, the lock rattled, and the the bolt suddenly slipped. Light cut the room in half as the hefty oak door floor wide and slammed into the framing post behind it. A massive figure, bulbous, and wild lumbered forward. It groaned, panting in a apparent duress, or even a craze. The figure stumbled about making such a commotion, furniture creaking as it moved aside. Buckles, pans, and fabric all adding their own songs to the racket. It all abruptly came to halt following a particularly loud screech and a thud. "BY GODS!!" the voice barked as bags were thrown aside and a man fell to the floor, clutching his shin. "I'll have you into compost by the morrow, blasted coffee table." The druid slowly got to his feet, still wincing as he applied pressure to his leg. He moved to the kitchen area and pulled back the shade. The room quickly came into full view, a couple roughly made chairs, side tables, and one offending coffee table. Closer to where he stood in the kitchen, a small table set with two chairs. Thorn breathed a deep sigh and came back to his senses, while time was of the utmost urgency, he had gotten a little overzealous. He smirked and made his way about the room lighting a few of the lamps so he could make his way about the cottage and leave again in one piece. Thorn righted the furniture as he made his rounds, collecting his bags and righting those too. As he went to shut the door, he noticed a letter on the floor. No doubt it had been slid under the door while he had been away on another of his journeys. He quickly slipped it open, breaking the familiar was seal on the back. A passing smile swept over him, a momentary respite from his current preoccupation. My good friend, I have passed on your information to a friend of my own. A Magnolia should be seeking you out in the very near future. She is a very promising student with excellent skills in healing and alchemy. I suggested she seek you out to learn more of the ancient and herbal medicines of your own trade. How much you share is your business, but I could not resist recommending her to an expert in herbalism... The letter went on a little further, falling into the usual pleasantries before closing. Thorn sighed deeply. He did not have enough on his plate already, and now a visitor. There were so many last minute preparations to make. He was not even sure where he would be going from this point forward. All he knew is that he need to find him. He would seek him out at all costs. Surely there were other would be adventurers and sleuths available, just as much as he was sought out for his skills, there was only one that came to mind when there was a grave mystery to be solved. Thorn still could not shake the strange feelings surrounding all this news, but he had the burning drive to press onward. There was something just not right in the city of Tia and he had to seek out Leandros Kostikos. The problem was simply, where would he even begin to look for the wizard? It had not quite been a decade since they had last been on a case. At the time, Kostikos had been residing in a swamp, quelling a zombie plague. The man could be anywhere, involved in anything. Thorn set the letter aside, having no time to even dispatch a reply. Perhaps when he came upon a tavern he could dispatch his regrets, now was not the time for a course in herbology. There was some thing abducting young women in the city of Tia, and there was no evidence left whatsoever. He did not want to waste another second and potentially leave another victim to vanish. Much of his supplies were already gathered, but such a task would be perilous and require some of his most unconventional supplies. He went down into his cellar a retrieved a hefty and rather well traveled knapsack, adorned with various charms and ornaments, in his hands he had a grey cloak and a rather ornate staff. The staff was wooden, nothing elegant like the priesthood, but hand carved and painted with a few modest inlays of earth stones and bone. Leather strands had been tied to the head, to which feathers and beads had been added. It was more than a walking stick, and it was precisely what Thorn would need. The last thing he nearly forgot. He had already stored some of his latest procurements and repacked others, and was nearly out the door with his bags when he remembered a particular item. He rushed back through the cottage, and into a cupboard in a side room. This time he was certain to avoid the fiendish coffee table, waiting for another chance to disable the druid. He returned to his sitting room with a small leather pouch. From it his weathered hands produced a modest little stone, hand carved at hard angles, hung on a heavy steel chain. He slipped it around his neck, smirking faintly as he held the stone once more. It was likely only an ornament now, its magic long gone. But perhaps, perhaps it could be re-energized. Regardless, there would be ways to find Kostikos. Luckily for Thorn, Leandros Kostikos was rather raucous and flamboyant. He never really faded into the shadows or the background. That particular trait was left for Thorn. Smiling he moved to the door, taking up the hefty staff, ready to take upon himself this dire quest. He paused, an untimely thought freezing him in place for a moment. "I do hope the bastard has not been killed... Gods, let him be well." @The Hound @Grim Wolf @danzilla3
  9. Steampunk technology was incredible! Anouk had seen the odd gadget and gizmo in the past, but only the trinkets carried by the occasional traveler in Ignatz. Never before had she witnessed anything like the grinding, pumping, whirring, and steaming in the city of Tia! She loved Ignatz, but if she were ever going to live anywhere else, it would be here in Tia. First Lieutenant Anouk Enouk has taken leave after her last mission, which had left her laid up in a hospital for three days, and recovering for weeks. Her ribs were mostly healed, but still sore. The cut on her jaw was no longer red and puffy, but it would leave a thin scar. Another scar to add to her growing collection. She had only arrived in Tia the night before, and she had gone straight to bed at the inn, being weary from travel. Now she was ready to do some exploring and meet the locals. She strolled down the city street. Normally, Anouk stayed ready for combat even when she was off-duty. However, she had forced herself to dress down this time. She wore a simple white blouse over a simple black pleated skirt. Her black boots were not quite knee-high, and slightly more stylish that usual, though they were still functional. Her jacket was gray leather and, like the boots, functional yet stylish. She had even gone so far as to have her hair done up in an elaborate braid. She had not been able to leave her trusty bow behind, but she carried it on her back, along with a few arrows, and hoped it did not ruin the ensemble too much. She felt confident and was ready to have some fun!
  10. "Flesh and blood, but not human, we are as memories that never die in a haunted kingdom. We pass our horrors down, from generation to generation." ~Lastborn Theme Sullen raindrops fell on the microphone like snapping jacket buttons. Between them prattled the angry voice of noblewoman Jane Blastice across all news waves in Tia. Jane was the wife of renowned elven lawman Merrin Blastice. More importantly, she held positions in several vampire and Unnatural hate groups. On this rainy afternoon, she stood behind a podium staged on the gigantic North Lodge market square in Tia’s northwest center, broadcasting a message of human-to-vampire intolerance. On either side of the stage stood two armored guards, a specialized faction of Tian enforcers known as the Problem Solvers, and all around the square were positioned great, tall floodlights, currently off position. The crowd she had drawn was.. disconcertingly large, especially for the impromptu toppling of a thirty-foot high cast iron statue. The woman’s eyes, heavy with makeup, were yet by no means as darkly lidded as her intentions, her convictions no less red stained than her lips; but that gaze and conviction exuding from her blue eyes were even thinner than the gaunt blonde’s frame. Jane lived a life of privileged detachment, unknowing ignorance of her protection plain in her tone. Even some Natural humanoids in the crowd, who could not afford bodyguards or keep their children safe at night- as Jane could- looked at one another incredulously. For the large part, however, Jane’s divisive message evoked still-present fears of vampire rule not one decade earlier. Her message evoked the paranoia festering within every human, even those trying to give the benefit of the doubt, that the monsters under their beds had decided not to stay there as agreed. Disappearances have, after all, been on a continuous and curious rise in years past, even though the Nica Sero administration claims to have toppled all vampire rule and invigorated safety in the streets. The fact that a vast majority of the disappearances imply Unnatural involvement has not helped the matter. As a response, vampire lynching mobs and armed human civilians have taken to the streets with physical, verbal, and unjust vilification. “...You, me, our husbands and wives and kids, we have not been freed. No, we are but handed from one pair of cold, dead, Unnatural hands to another. Human-to-vampire crime had all but diminished, according to Together Weekly,” Jane said, inaccurately citing a human-biased news source. “And still our mothers and fathers weep for-” click! “Brother? Is something bad going to happen?” “N-no! May, no.” smiled Karl as he turned from the radio in their small Tian flat. He grabbed a brown jacket off the kitchen chair and approached her. He knelt on one knee and took his sister-in-law’s hands in his. “I need you to stay here for me while I run next door, can you do that? It’s a bad day out for a little girl and I promised Del you’d be safe with me. I may be next door for an hour or two, but there’s plenty for you to do here! We’ve got Pyres of Love Season 2, Find Me at Midnight, and Wolfsbane if you want to watch something, if you want to read there’s—” “Karl, I’ll stay,” the young one interrupted while leaning her forehead on his. The two rested there for a moment, her hands in his, sharing the cold between them. Then Karalanos Solvei, as his state ID said, entered the scent of rain that washed in the door before it clicked carefully shut behind him. The girl, whose ID said May Solvei, watched her brother through the rainy panes as he moved next door, nodded to a cigarette smoking man at the door, and entered. Then she immediately grabbed her black peacoat jacket and ran out the back door. She cut through two alleys to evade the smoking man’s sight. Then she ran down dripping Main Street toward the rally, where several men tied a noose at the base of a large iron memorial of vampire Viscount Jean DeCorbin. Karl entered the house, nodded to an unresponsive elderly couple watching the woman’s hate speech— “And purge them from our homes and businesses, and burn their most heretical at the stake, really fu”— and closed the door leading to the basement behind him. Jane Blastice’s gathering was not the only being attended in Tia. Unnatural flame licked out from the figure. It flickered hotly across the room alongside torchlight and bubbling pits of something molten. Something organic. Filling the cavern were aberrations with dripping fangs, oozing talons, with mien and composure which stood at the furthest, darkest brink of human ken. “The Dolos family gathers the night around it, friends,” said the one they called Heretic. His voice was elegant and smooth, a dangerous whiskey warm in the crackling fire. It did not rise and fall about fake intonation as Jane’s currently rang above, but remained disconcertingly level, comfortable with the conference at hand. “I call you here, young and old, far and near, strong and weak, because this land is our capitol. I call you here because the time has come for us to fight and take back what once was ours. The Inferiors have deemed us a scourge but again, called us a bane to their freedom. While we have taken the keys to our freedom, they have given us the keys to theirs.” Visible behind the billowing flames surrounding Heretic, beneath the sigil of the Dolos family, were numerous silhouettes. “Now come forth, those with the courage to lead this night.” @Mag @MrDoubleSunday @Wanderlost
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