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The Low-Tide Festival! (Open Event!)

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'Now,' Slake half-sighed, half-laughed and washed away the sound with a hard swig of dark rum. 'Not to be one to comment on one's hobbies, dear - but knife-fighting flotsam ranks up there as the least...' A cocked brow and glance looked at the patchwork of fabric that covered his weeping wounds. The blood reeked of brine. '... Rewarding, we'll say.'

Where once the bar she rested her shoulder on had been made of timber, glistening with varnish it had become a shell. Transformed, in the blink of an eye into a conch whose surface was made from a series of interlocking coils and spirals. It would have been beautiful, were it not for the sound coming out of it. Half-whispered eldritch truths emanated from every hole in the calcified surface of their 'table', the words envenomed with dread and horror. All manner of prophesies and omens called out from it, in languages she understood and those she did not. An angered slamming of a basalt-clad fist halted the terrible calls, at least for a few precious moments. 

'Me? Not fond of festivals?' Her words dripped sarcasm and the look of indignation cast onto her features was overplayed. 'A burning socialite I am. Only time I walk is to find another shindig to join!'

A cough. Something foul-tasting lingered in her mouth. Of salt and blood. 

Slake shrugged those massive shoulders of hers, not entirely sure how to answer the question. 'The Widow brought me here. She insisted, we'll say.'

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M'yr flinched as her fist slammed down on the table before them, and he shrunk away from her as a reflex. He didn't have to; Slake wasn't frustrated with him, after all; he had no idea what she'd seen, but she seemed distracted, and he could leave it at that. They all were distracted, after all. A ship's bell clanged close by as it drifted into harbor. His shot glass had unceremoniously refilled itself with black ink. He ignored it, and tried to tune back into her.

On 9/22/2019 at 2:27 PM, Samø said:

'Me? Not fond of festivals?' Her words dripped sarcasm and the look of indignation cast onto her features was overplayed. 'A burning socialite I am. Only time I walk is to find another shindig to join!'

Slake coughed up several tentacled. M'yr leaned back as she unexpected began to lurch in her seat, choking and rasping. One ugly, barbed tentacle peeped from behind her lips, then another, and another, until a large starfish slowly pulled itself out of her mouth and flopped onto the table before them, the other acolyte coughing and retching the whole time. Others didn't notice, and the barkeep minded his own business. He was tempted to knock on her back, to force up whatever else might be lurking within her, living, dead, or intangible. Then, the starfish and the blood was gone, and Slake was talking again.

On 9/22/2019 at 2:27 PM, Samø said:

The Widow brought me here. She insisted, we'll say.'

That damnable boat. He didn't express his concern or disdain out loud; she'd heard everything he had to say about it already. He didn't actually know much about The Widow, but he knew, from a very early point in both of their new lives that he hated it. There were a number of reasons, but perhaps the most obvious, for him, was that he was absolutely positive he'd seen her on that expedition. Before he'd seen the skull, and walked a thousand miles through that ruined ship in the wetlands. While he and his companions had hiked across vast bridges of salt, and explored impossible cliff faces and frigid glaciers. Somewhere, while looking for a way out, M'yr had thought he'd seen that same ship on the waves, sailing proudly across churning, blackened seas. For it to get here, or wherever else Slake had to have taken it, meant that it might never have been where M'yr saw it. Or, it found a way to leave, perhaps by following them out. Or, Slake had found it somewhere, and taken it with her. Regardless of where it'd come from, or even if he'd even seen it before, just hearing about it alone gave him a sense of great dread, bordering on terror. 

He didn't like The Widow, and he was certain that She didn't like him, which was fine to him. He had no desire to get to know the boat any better.

M'yr checked his wrappings again, and absentmindedly plucked out a small crab that had climbed out from underneath his bandages. It tried to pinch him, but it was rather small. It didn't hurt him. He tossed the nonexistent crab across the room, and sighed. The room was churning by now, but not as a hallucination. The world was swimming, as was his head. He ensured he clutched the counter tightly, so as not to fall over into the water below. The floor of the bar had vanished at some point, and the water roared down into the abyss below, forever and ever. He didn't want to fall down there, either; he got the impression that something was lurking down there, waiting for him. 

However, this reminded him of his original goal. He glanced at the barkeep.

"So is it here? You have it?"

"Sure do," He grunted, and jerked a thumb behind his back, in the back room. "It's just waiting for you back there. Lemme grab it for you."

M'yr nodded his thanks, and was left alone with M'yr again. He studied himself, and himself studied him back.

"We've been through a lot," He told himself with an unhappy sigh. "I wish things were better for us, but I don't have the know-how. I don't have the skill, or the courage to make things okay, and I don't think I ever will." The other M'yr looked miserable, and so he took his hand in his, giving it a soft pat. "I'm sorry I can't be better."

M'yr wraps faded, as did the cloud in his mind temporarily, and he stared at Slake instead, and she stared back. M'yr jerked his hand out of hers, his face turning bright red almost immediately.

"I-I was talking to somebody else!" He swore. His body felt as though it were on fire; to try and cool himself off, he fanned at his face with one hand, gripping the counter with his free hand. He leaned away from her too; recoiling from his own embarrassment.

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There was scant alleviation from the deluge of visions that churned about in her mind. His presence seemed to make it worse. A conduit, a marker of madness, causing the world around him to shift and change as he walked. The planks trod beneath his feet came alive with crawling crustaceans, splitting apart and allowing them to scuttle into the blue-green, corrupted light of the bar. Darker, larger things stirred beneath the impenetrable black between the creaking boards. Glancing to and fro, hungry eyes looking for carrion. Their excitable scanning was brought low by the realisation that the world was not yet drowned. But it would come, in their half-feral, glassy eyes she recognised that. Flotsam-flesh will linger and they will feed. It is as the great serpent has promised them. 

The inevitability brought a shudder coursing down Slake's spine. 

And then a hand, clasped itself upon hers. A touch that brought with it some modicum of clarity. Though M'yrs wrappings were gone, and his wounds were shaped into the pitted circles of raised flesh bought by the grasp of a kraken's tentacles, it becalmed her. Bodyheat seared away the cold of the perceived depths, the crushing pressure of it all. 

A bemused cock of a brow and black-flecked eyes bore into him as he jerked backwards. 'Red as rage, poppet.' She chuckled at his changing complexion. 'Surprised you can, what with the lack of blood.'

Behind her, a table grew legs and claws and scuttled off. Leaning forwards and resting her chin upon a splayed hand, she clicked the roof of her mouth against her tongue. In the distance, something called back to the sound - high pitched and droning, the call of a whale.

'Maybe some lady citrus will do you better, luv.' Slake chided, pressing herself over the counter and procuring a bottle of orange juice from beneath. She poured it into a glass and after some deliberation, added a swill of her rum to the concoction as well. A flick of her fingers slid the glass over to the grovelling mass of gauze and despair that was M'yr. 

'Look, poppet. One has to face their demons every time they roll out of bed, see?' A ragged, heavy sigh escaped her lips. 'Yours just happen to be the prophet of a very damp apocalypse, savvy?' She scrunched the tufts of thick, dark brown hair on his head between her fingers. 'Stop melting your head.'

The tapping of glass brought her attentions to the widow flanking the exit of the bar. A hooded, slouched figure tapped a clawed, moulded finger against the pane. One of the Widow's deckhands. Eyes like saucers, unblinking and luminous with yellow light stared to her. 

The Widow was restless. She was growing hungry.

Edited by Samø

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On 9/25/2019 at 2:47 PM, Samø said:

A bemused cock of a brow and black-flecked eyes bore into him as he jerked backwards. 'Red as rage, poppet.' She chuckled at his changing complexion. 'Surprised you can, what with the lack of blood.'

His labored breathing steadied after a short while, but he refused to make eye contact following that. 

He's never had that happen to him before. Seeing...himself? Seeing what, exactly? Was that him? An illusion? Vision? Warning? He couldn't tell beyond the fact that it'd never happened before. He could feel his touch on his flesh, still. Where he'd rested his hand on his hand, and whispered words of comfort to himself. Was he losing it?

Well, yes, but was he losing it more so? The thought of beginning to lose himself, finally succumbing to the rising tides terrified him. He shakily reached for the table and gripped it. He didn't want to overreact, he didn't want to have an anxiety attack. Even now, tears threatened to invade his ducts. His mask was close by; could he reach for it? Should he? He might have to. In that moment, he envied the bartender, who returned with his order.

On 9/25/2019 at 2:47 PM, Samø said:

'Maybe some lady citrus will do you better, luv.' Slake chided, pressing herself over the counter and procuring a bottle of orange juice from beneath. She poured it into a glass and after some deliberation, added a swill of her rum to the concoction as well. A flick of her fingers slid the glass over to the grovelling mass of gauze and despair that was M'yr. 

The bartender took note of him reaching for the bottle of juice, but didn't stop her. Instead, he put M'yr package before the unhappy mess that was M'yr, and turned away, as if he hadn't seen anything yet. M'yr wanted to reach for the clapper and be gone, but Slake slid the glass towards him, directly in his way. He paused, his hands trembling. He was already a drink deep; would another hurt?

He carefully accepted it, taking it in his hands--both hands. One of them had no flesh on it at all anymore; just an odd jumble of salt-encrusted bones interlaced with bits of seaweed and barnacles. He lifted the glass to his lips and swallowed the contents whole. The juice was tart and sour, and refreshing. The rum hiding in it hit home.

He hiccuped, but his breathing normalized. Things weren't much better, but he wasn't about to lose it.

He was aware then, of Slake's fingers playing with his hairs. He could feel as they wrapped around dried, healthy strands, gentling pressing and tugging at them, as if trying to straighten them with her thumbs alone. Her fingers were, as to be expected, softer than one would think. The gentle noise of her fingers scraping against his skull from time to time mingled with the gentle ocean waves lapping against the barcounter beneath them. As the world grew wavy and uncertain, and it became slightly harder to find purchase on the stool, he leaned against her, neglecting the object on the counter for now.

He was unhappy, M'yr decided. He wanted everything to go away. He wanted to undo his life, and everything that had transpired, and just cow to his parent's demands all that time back. Dream smaller; do his best in class. Get a normal, well-paying job. Make his parents proud.

His thoughts lingered on that.

Would his mom have been proud of him, now?

Slake's words washed over him, like a siren's song. It pulled him away from his bitter fantasies, and dashed him along the rocks of the Now.

On 9/25/2019 at 2:47 PM, Samø said:

'Look, poppet. One has to face their demons every time they roll out of bed, see?' A ragged, heavy sigh escaped her lips. 'Yours just happen to be the prophet of a very damp apocalypse, savvy?' She scrunched the tufts of thick, dark brown hair on his head between her fingers. 'Stop melting your head.'

He was silent, and did his best to simply enjoy her attention as long as he could. Then, when her attention was divide, he eventually sat back up again. 

Things were no better, but they were less unpleasant, he supposed. Was that the same thing? It was not.

The bartender was busy elsewhere. M'yr turned his attention to what he'd come here for.

Resting on the counter before him was a large chunk of pearl. Originally it'd been a supermassive thing, hauled from the sea unexpectedly. After a series of horrible visions, he'd taken it to a craftsman in town, and paid him in the remainder of the pearl in order to have much of it sheared off, and the remainder fashioned into a clapper. It was a beautiful thing, with swirling tones of pink and grey and white mingling within it. It was large, too. Big enough that M'yr would need to carry it in both arms, like a heavy club, when he left with it.

He examined it closely. This was what this was all about; once the clapper was installed in the bell, the toll of that great artifact would tell him what needed doing next.

He wanted to take it and leave, but caught Slake looking out the window, first. They all did that, but she seemed to see something that caught her interest.

He'd been quite moody up until then. Maybe it was time for a small bit of humor. Maybe that was the drink talking. 

"You see somebody out there that's paler than me?" He suggested. "If fishbelly skin tone is your thing, I can get into another scrap for you."

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Oil on water, distorting and warping in shape. Her eyes, her mark. There had been no reckoning before she had received the flecks of pitiless black that swam against the pool of her sclera, pupils and iris. Nothing. No telling - even when she had stumbled upon the horrific likeness of the Prophet and garbed herself in the raiment of Apocryphal Tides, for weeks and weeks, she had remained unchanged in all but the physical. But eyes that once were closed and opened to never be the same again. With them, came the visions. Or so she found solace in calling them. Omens. Fate. An inevitable play that all she could do was watch unfold, see the final vestiges of the world erode as more and more of the brackish drown grew and grew.

That fragment of pearl told her more than she wanted to know. Fall sang with it in unison. The song made her bones itch, her throat close over. 

All of it, every cadence and octave the dark relics produced in their twisted, morbid choir made her head swim. Such sensations grew more intense, the longer she strayed from the embrace of the sea. Day after day, with each rise and fall of the sun, the sea pressed more of its claws into her being, her soul. Binding her. Slake found herself wishing it was the copious amounts of ingested tonic that brought about the queer feeling, but the woman could hardly lie to herself. Echoing cries of the Widow's yearning call reached her ears as well. The ship felt it too. They didn't belong here, their place was the sea. 

'Paler than you?' Slake raised an eyebrow, a faint smirk revealing the tip of a silver tooth. She didn't try and hide the duplicity of her unease in her voice. 'Ach, if I took up grave-digging, maybe.'

A pinch on one of M'yrs cheek was enough to make her somewhat senate again. 'Listen, pet. You're not fighting this and that's the problem. All the dread, uncertainty. Fear. You need to fight it, otherwise what's the point?' A cough and another grin. 'Lets just hope your capacity for that is better than your knife-skills, aye?'

Without warning, Slake rose with the creaking groan of the stool she sat on. A quick look at the face of the bartender and she spoke again. 'I'd pay you for the drink, luv but that would require having money.'

An overenthusiastic bow was all she could really afford to give the man. 'Savvy?'

Not belying her stature, Slake waded through the crowd of shifting and moving patrons with a skill and grace inherent to her elven nature. She shot one last glance to M'yr before she departed. 'Chin up, poppet. It's only the end of the world, after all.'

And with that, Slake left.

 

 

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The tension in her reply was palpable; M'yr could feel her unease, like the pallid skin of his own frail failings. He was just as easy to read, of course; the worry that washed over his features afterward was plain to see. The buzzing in his brain, and the distant fog of inebriation seemed irrelevant, compared to the creeping dread he felt. Slake was his rock, after all; what could possibly perturb the thing he continued to cling to for comfort?

On 10/2/2019 at 9:39 PM, Samø said:

'Paler than you?' Slake raised an eyebrow, a faint smirk revealing the tip of a silver tooth. She didn't try and hide the duplicity of her unease in her voice. 'Ach, if I took up grave-digging, maybe.'

She reached out and pinched his cheek. Both of them appeared a bit relaxed, by the breaking of whatever spell had fallen over them. M'yr exhaled, and gave a soft sound. A guffaw, maybe? A laugh, definitely.

On 10/2/2019 at 9:39 PM, Samø said:

'Listen, pet. You're not fighting this and that's the problem. All the dread, uncertainty. Fear. You need to fight it, otherwise what's the point?'

She coughed, and flashed him another grin. It felt false, somehow, but he knew it wasn't.

On 10/2/2019 at 9:39 PM, Samø said:

'Lets just hope your capacity for that is better than your knife-skills, aye?'

"I.....yeah." He didn't find the words to say before she stood up and stepped away from the bar. Her words stung; bitter truth cut deeper than any lie. He didn't let it show; couldn't, let it, show. He reached for his mask, and slid it back into place. It blacked out the rest of the world, except for right where he needed to see. With the world blocked out, there was nothing for them to see, and nothing for him to see anymore, either. He checked his bindings again; his arms seemed fine. Muscular, in fact, with body hair he wasn't used to. The arms of a swarthy sailor at sea, except they vanished soon after, replaced with his thin, pale limbs. His hands were clenched tight, enough so to leave marks in his palms. He uncurled his hands as Slake bade her goodbyes.

On 10/2/2019 at 9:39 PM, Samø said:

'I'd pay you for the drink, luv but that would require having money.'

An overenthusiastic bow was all she could really afford to give the man. 'Savvy?'

The sluggish bartender shrugged, and said "It's fine; this isn't actually a bar."

M'yr looked on as Slake walked away, sashaying some as she did. Her helmet was on once more, and he already missed her face. He wasn't sure just why; was it her natural beauty, or was it M'yr's misery clinging to a known painkiller?

He was pretty sure he knew the answer. Around them, the swirling bar faded easily, and before long, they were standing alone in a cold, dank cave. Far from any mountains or tunnels to speak of, the cave was dark and cold and abandoned. The way out was still a comfortable, fashionable glass and oak door. The busy street beyond was slick with rain and bustling, and otherwise ordinary.

On 10/2/2019 at 9:39 PM, Samø said:

'Chin up, poppet. It's only the end of the world, after all.'

And with that, Slake was gone, leaving M'yr to wrestle with himself again.

Just as soon as she'd left, things stabilized once more, and he turned back to see the 'bartender.' He was still there, of course, his slug-like face still squirming and writhing as it pleased. He wiped the counter down casually, their glasses already gone. M'yr stared in silence, before, just out of curiosity, elected to ask.

"So what did you see?" He gestured at the restaurant. 

The bartender chuckled softly. "Prison cell filling with sea water."

"Oh."

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Pallas welcomed the distraction of reality breaking down.

From the top of a glass skyscraper, Pallas cocked an ear at the sound of waves crashing. He took a breath and tasted salt. He turned to his correspondent - once one of the benefactors of Khartes' privately-funded projects - and found him to be a porpoise. This was a surprising, albeit pleasant change. The man was a rare combination of idiocy, arrogance, and wealth, culminating in a creature who thought he could bully (or bribe) the prince of Taen into allowing him a commercial advantage in a new communications system.

Pallas looked at the man, who was no longer a man, for one long moment. He stood from his seat.

"While I've enjoyed our talk," - he lied, having long wished for an excuse to escape the man's blathering - "Something more important than the -" he suppressed a sigh "- advertising opportunities of this project has come up."

The porpoise chattered. Pallas directed a sagely nod towards it. "Of course. You may forward any further inquiries to Caer Loerem."

As practical as it would be to simply drop his body into the Wetlands and absorb his assets into the government... it was wrong. It wouldn't be noble, or righteous, or humane, and those were things Pallas liked to concern himself with being, these days. Empathy was easy. Ethics was another matter, especially when the practice of them concerned individuals who, for lack of a better term, were leeches.

Pallas put a hand against the glass door and found it a beaded curtain, cords strung with conch and abalone. Pretty. He brushed it aside. A step forward, and the tower had turned into a lighthouse- the walls melting away into mist and sea spray, stone steps spiraling down the exterior, carved smooth by the knife of the wind.

Something was different. Not wrong- no, the nature of Taen itself meant that wrong held no meaning here. Something was different, and as Pallas strode down the stairs, he pushed aside the kingdom's other concerns, focusing on the task at hand.

Leaning over the rail, Pallas squinted at the festivities below. He blinked hard. Currents and tides. The disturbance washed over the city, submerging it, distorting the glittering buildings as the waves bent light. A movement by a tavern caught his attention; the the surf rippled in the wake of a figure. Golden eyes watched as the figure boarded a galleon, departing from the harbor.

Ebb and flow.

It wasn't changing the city, not exactly. While worldrift tore at the fabric of being, this festival was a vision. A ship's shadow, fleeting, over the sunlit shallows. Something from the land, something that was of the land, not against it- another one of the hundred oddities that dipped its fingers into Taen, casting ripples into the stillness.

That flicker of understanding was a comfort.

Pallas took a deep breath, savoring the taste of the ocean. There was something pleasantly familiar about all this. Perhaps he'd spent too much time indoors, that the sight of a sea-that-was-not-meant-to-be was exciting. Perhaps he felt more at home here, in the space where the veil thinned and the abyss yawned in his periphery.

The prince spread his wings and dove down towards the lighthouse.

Minutes later, he entered the tavern that the figure had left.

Faced with a slug-faced bartender and the masked man, Pallas decided to address the masked figure first. He opened his mouth, then felt a memory click into place. He'd heard of this before. A group of ditch-diggers. Flood warnings. A monstrous spine in the Wetlands. The Coiled Serpent.

He swept his gaze over the man. Cult member or not, the fellow seemed to be in a sorry state. Folding his wings, Pallas slid into the seat next to the stranger.

He tilted his head. "You alright, man?"

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M'yr hung around for a short while longer, if only to cling to some scant comfort before heading out again. Beyond the windows of the diner, sailors sprinted about on the deck of the ship as ink-black oceans spilled and thrashed everywhere. Foam broke across the sides of the vessel. The orange glare of kerosene lanterns were snuffed out by the sea of darkness. Sailors tied down anything and everything, as best as they could. One of them, apparently fearing the worst, sprinted for the door and thrust it open. As he did, the illusion shattered, and the image of a ship lost as sea vanished, just as surely as it would have, if the storm were real.

Outside, things were quieter. There were still people and stands waiting along the sides of the road, but many people had moved on. They'd gone deeper, travelling into the innermost parts of the street now in search of entertainment and food. Many folks were socializing in quiet groups, many of whom were wearing driftwood masks. He recognized a few familiar faces out there; Rhyss walked by slowly, and made eye contact through the glass. His canvas face mask--torn from a rough, salt-soaked flag from an ancient ship. His eyes, lurking somewhere in the depths of the hood he wore, gleamed orange in the lantern light. Rhyss continued past, and by then the newcomer to the bar had walked in and made himself comfortable next to M'yr.

M'yr paused, and took a deep breath. Somewhere, in the folds of his mind, he heard the ringing of the bell--the bell--that he'd been given the clapper for. He needed to finish the work.

5 hours ago, Csl said:

He tilted his head. "You alright, man?"

M'yr turned to glance at the newcomer. Behind his driftwood mask, his emotions were hidden from view. Security.

"I've been better," He replied candidly. He turned back to the counter and leaned into it. The clapper still rested on the counter in front of him, like a cruel ornamental weapon. 

He scrutinized the stranger, but curiously found them to be far more enigmatic than anticipated. More than once while looking them over, M'yr saw features that he almost swore had to be hallucinations--minor ticks or imperfections that betrayed his natural vision--yet upon additional glances appeared to be consistent, or at the very least intentional. That was odd, on its own. Yet, he didn't seem hostile, or imaginary, even.

"Just had a chat with one of my exes," He summarized, before lifting his hands, showing off his wraps. "She doesn't really approve of me participating in the knife fights down the road." His hands dropped, and rested on the clapper, keeping it safe.

The bartender walked over, the slug waving its blackened eyes around everywhere as he came to a stop before Pallas.

"Can I get you started with something?" He asked. His speech was burbled and soft.

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Pallas closed his eyes for a few, long moments. It was taking a while to shrug off apophenia, sloughing off the scales over his eyes. (He was still mortal, after all) A splinter of his mind still had a habit of caging reality into patterns. Eyes drew color from pitch-black darkness. Eyes traced faces in cracked tree bark and imagined lines between stars that would never meet.

Arcturon's citizens constructed a shared reality from the thing their minds struggled to perceive. It was, and then was not. Pallas saw both scenes overlaid in his mind's eye.

This man could be important, or he could be merely be one of the many masked acolytes gathered outside, waiting for... something.

"I've been better," the stranger said, looking at Pallas with a curiosity that matched his own.

Pallas wondered how the man perceived him, if the strange ripples that were washing over the city were also twisting his form. Or perhaps this fellow saw how he stood not quite fully in this world, how the void lay silent behind his amber eyes, how threads of the land itself was woven into the fabric of his being.

The prince wore no illusions, not today. Under different circumstances, he'd already have been recognized - it wasn't often the son of the Empress was seen in public. Common belief was that he kept himself locked up in Caer Loerem, a distant ruler who had eyes and ears in every city, whose unseen hands guided every decision made by the governors and every movement by the military.

The first part was wrong. Faced with the unknown, many a man would raise a blade and greet the void with a battle cry. Pallas, following his mother's footsteps, preferred to first converse with the void, and perhaps convince it to settle somewhere where it wouldn't inconvenience those in the four cities of Taen.

He had yet to decide whether this variant of the void was planning to set up shop in Taen, so talking to this masked man would do for now.

"Just had a chat with one of my exes," the stranger added. "She doesn't really approve of me participating in the knife fights down the road."

"Mhm," Pallas said with a half-smile. Can't relate. "That's good," he said distantly, his attention flitting to the window. "Sounds like she cares an awful lot about your well being." His gaze drifted back to the man's mask, to the bottles arrayed on the shelves behind the bar, to the bartender, always keeping the clapper at the edge of his periphery.

He blinked as the bartender approached, then dismissed him with a wave. "I'm good." The mundane inquiry, managed to hammer in the absurdity of it all. Pallas released a sharp exhale, a silent laugh. Perhaps his heritage had made him familiar with insanity. Perhaps these months of ruling a land of fever dreams made a strange seaside festival unsurprising.

The realization should've made him uneasy. Perhaps it did, but the growing sense of expectant curiosity snuffed out the concern.

"So," Pallas began, returning his attention to the masked man. "I have questions, acolyte." He jutted his chin at the clapper. "Should I be worried about what you're going to do with that? Does this storm pass?"

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On 10/25/2019 at 7:49 AM, Csl said:

"Mhm," Pallas said with a half-smile. Can't relate. "That's good," he said distantly, his attention flitting to the window. "Sounds like she cares an awful lot about your well being." His gaze drifted back to the man's mask, to the bottles arrayed on the shelves behind the bar, to the bartender, always keeping the clapper at the edge of his periphery.

M'yr gave a sad smile, almost a quirk of the lips and little else. It was hard to believe that Slake cared about him. He knew it was wrong to think that way--it was obviously wrong to think that way, clearly. But M'yr was...well, used to being misused. Adjusted to being forgotten. As much time as Slake had given him, it'd been circumstantial, and they both knew it. Things had just gone too right for the two of them not to end up where they were. At the end of the day, though, she probably hated him, and for good reason. M'yr was nothing, especially to someone like her. 

He couldn't really believe that, of course, no matter how much he wanted to. Like it or not, Slake at the very least worried about him, fussed over him. They'd spent too much time together for there to be nothing between them.

All his reminiscing didn't stop him from seeing the stranger eye up the clapper, and his grip on it tightened. His other arm casually settled at his side, where he was keenly aware of the constant pressure of the ruler in his pocket. The sharp, tapered edge pressed into his leg even now, a dull reminder that it was close to hand if he needed it. 

M'yr didn't grab at it, yet, though. He didn't need to. He wasn't to type to fight, anyway. He was pretty sure he couldn't take this guy in a fight, anyway.

On 10/25/2019 at 7:49 AM, Csl said:

The realization should've made him uneasy. Perhaps it did, but the growing sense of expectant curiosity snuffed out the concern.

"So," Pallas began, returning his attention to the masked man. "I have questions, acolyte." He jutted his chin at the clapper. "Should I be worried about what you're going to do with that? Does this storm pass?"

M'yr tightened his grip on the clapper, indecisive for a moment. 

What was he doing with this clapper, anyway? Where does that story even start? For a moment, he expected it to change shape. Turn into a bat, or an axe, perhaps, but it seemed untouched by the madness that pickled his senses. That was rather lucky of it, he supposed.

The tightness in his chest reminded M'yr that he was holding his breath, and he exhaled loudly, before letting it go.

"That's a hell of a question, or questions, actually." He admitted. He decided to start by sliding the clapper across the table, towards the newcomer. It didn't really matter anyway, he figured. If he tried to take it, he'd just be forced to reclaim it, one way or another. Maybe, if he failed, he wouldn't have to worry about the clapper or the bell at all anymore, and could just die instead. Talk about a win-win.

"It's just a clapper, for a big bell." He explained honestly. "The Bell is...well..." He scratched his head, and tried to make sense of what needed to be said.

"Basically, the bell is...from a ship?" He started slowly. It was. At least, he thought it was.

"We found it a few months back, under my house." He explained. "I had a nightmare that I was buried beneath my own home for a couple weeks in a row, so I tore the place up." His hands had been cracked and bloodied when he was done, but he'd torn the floorboards up all on his own, in a fit of paranoia. Instead of finding his own body, this massive bronze bell had been buried beneath his home. It appeared to be centuries old, if not older. A spring of salt water had surrounded it when he finally uprooted it.

"This, is the clapper for it." He nudged the stick. "Ideally, now that the bell is clean, we can ring it with this." 

This was another long story, that couldn't really be summarized. M'yr didn't know that this would work. He just knew that he'd found the bell, and had terrifying visions in his waking hours of it. He'd seen monstrous beings in the skies above, and heard the guttural cries of dying wails far away. But each time these new, violent visions arrived, they were always accompanied by the ringing of a bell.

Why the clapper needed to be made of pearl, he had no idea. The cluster of pearl had washed up unexpectedly in front of another follower's home, quite a distance away. One of the original members of his old trip into the wetlands reported it to him, telling him all about the same dreams and nightmares M'yr had witnessed. With no other options, he figured the pearl must be connected somehow.

"So, I'm gonna ring the bell with this and...we'll see what happens, I guess." 

None of that answered the other question. That's because M'yr had no answers to that question to give.

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Pallas studied the stranger's reaction to his words. The masked man curled his fingers around the clapper. Slowly, in a carefully casual gesture, he lowered his other hand below the table. Pallas felt no need for concern. He was in no danger. Arcturon, however...

The prince glanced outside. Despite his near-complete ignorance about where this storm would lead, he felt strangely calm. Perhaps he should've been more concerned, but there was a sort of inevitability in the actions of the ones from the void between worlds. The followers of the Coiled Beast were a new group. But with the unnatural determination at which they carried out their duties and the intensity of the thalassophobia Pallas sensed in every acolyte he'd come across, it was clear there was more to their faith than superstition.

Perhaps he should ask more questions, carve every piece of information from the stranger. but no, rationality wasn't the wisest path to take in these situations, when the membranous divide between what was and what wasn't waxed thin. He had the sense of being merely an observer here, that there was little he could do to stop whatever series of events that needed to happen, from happening.

Ah well. Taen had always taken care of itself, and the land would continue to do so after the empire had long crumbled. Cities could be rebuilt (though preferably, Arcturon wouldn't have to be._

To his surprise, the stranger slid the clapper over. Pallas gave him a quizzical look. He took the item, turning it over to admire the sheen. Pure pearl.

He listened patiently to the acolyte's scattered explanation. Pallas found himself feeling sorry for the man. This one was still human, as far as he could tell, and in over his head. It couldn't be easy for him, being involved in a cult who seemed to live in perpetual fear of the sea, where every eye had cracked to let visions of the tide seep in.

He'd heard whispers, but the details eluded him. What was the name of their prophet again?

Pallas slid the clapper back, then stood. "I'll come with you." He adjusted the folds of his cloak, then twirled a wooden staff that had not previously been in his possession. "I'd like to keep an eye on what happens too." His gaze grew distant for a moment. The faint sound of wings reached their ears. "Several eyes. As a precaution."

He nodded towards the stranger, a dry smile on his lips. "I don't know your god, but I think it's time I got to know them a little better. Maybe have a chat?"

Pallas took a step away from the counter, then gestured towards the door. "After you--" he frowned, "--hm. How should I call you?" It probably didn't matter, but he liked having manners.

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M'yr talked, and the stranger listened, to his thanks. He let M'yr explain himself fully, despite his failure to keep things short and sweet. He asked no questions, thankfully, as M'yr had no more answers to give. Most importantly, however, the man slid the clapper back over to him without a fuss, and M'yr was able to take hold of it again. When he laid his hands upon it, he flinched and let go once again as his fingers turned blue, then black, and for a few seconds the acolyte had to watch in shock as his arm grew cold and frostbitten rapidly. Pain shot up his hand before the cold obliterated his nerves entirely. His lungs and throat felt as though they'd frozen over as well, stopping him from screaming in terror. A few more moments past that moment, and all was normal again. His fingers turned pink, his nerves tingled as if he'd sat on his arm and made it fall asleep, and it hurt to breathe for a second. He exhaled, and a long, slow plume of condensation escaped from his lips, as if he were outdoors.

Nobody appeared to notice, or care. 

The stranger stood, as if nothing had happened, and adjusted his jacket.

On 11/1/2019 at 12:40 PM, Csl said:

"I'll come with you."

M'yr got to his feet carefully, in case his legs had gone numb. They hadn't, and he stood steadily, resting the clapper on his shoulder like a heavy club. Had he taken off his mask? It was on his face, so he probably didn't. 

He didn't think about telling the stranger 'no.' It was pretty standard stuff, even. Wherever the Acolytes--wherever M'yr--went, wherever they practiced, or worked, people inexplicably found their way over to them, and eventually learned what they wanted to about the Coiled Serpent. They were happy to share what they could, of course, but M'yr didn't really have time to induct the stranger. Not today.

However, he seemed to sense M'yr's hesitation, and explained himself.

On 11/1/2019 at 12:40 PM, Csl said:

"I'd like to keep an eye on what happens too." His gaze grew distant for a moment. The faint sound of wings reached their ears. "Several eyes. As a precaution."

The sound of flapping invaded the room with them, and M'yr glanced away--eyes only, his face never looked away from the stranger--and caught a glimpse of seagulls, swarming overhead. Overhead, there was no roof to the bar, but an empty, grey sky. The restaurant pitched back and forth on heavy, ink-back waves. A sickly yellow sun gleamed on them from beyond the cloud cover, casting diseased, filthy light all over everything it could in a small controlled beam.

It was too much for M'yr to ignore, and he stopped and turned, looking towards it.

The beam swept across the sea, bathing indisciminate spots on its rocky, wavy surface at random, like a guard tower sweeping for escapees, or a lighthouse, guiding the way ashore. The wind howled in M'yr's ears as he gripped the edge of the vessel, bracing himself as they struck a wave that cascaded over their ship, soaking him to the bone. The seagulls overboard cried faithlessly, as if trying to rat out M'yr's vessel.  He didn't know, and couldn't care. He stared up at the sky, until at long last that ugly yoke-yellow marble in the sky bathed their vessel in light. 

Then, and only then he realized that among the sounds of the crashing waves and rolling thunder, among the crying gulls and spray of water and creak of wood; the sun was making noise. Bathed now in its ugly light, he could hear it clearly--a long, slow scream of--fury? terror? pain?--that invaded his senses and drove him to his knees. Bathed in the fires of the sun, he could do nothing fall prone, clutching at his head, trying desperately to plumb his thumbs into his ears, deep into them, to mash his eardrums into fine paste and silence the Sun forever. The screams never stopped, and neither did the blinding, ugly light of the insipid star.

M'yr blinked, and realized that nothing had actually happened. The sun wasn't there, and neither was the sea. They were in a tavern, and everything was okay.

That didn't stop M'yr from tearing the mask from his face for a second and coughing painfully, repeatedly, before standing upright again. He felt as though he'd come down with a fever; that his skin was boiling. Beads of sweat poured down his face. soaking into his garb as he struggled for breath. His pale features looked almost gaunt as he struggled to catch his breath.

But perhaps none of this was happening either, as the stranger didn't seem to notice. The sound of wings was still present, 

The stranger nodded at M'yr, and M'yr managed to put his mask back on again. The inside of it reeked of the sea, even still.

On 11/1/2019 at 12:40 PM, Csl said:

"I don't know your god, but I think it's time I got to know them a little better. Maybe have a chat?"

"Hah..." M'yr half-gasped, half-laughed. He ensured his grip on the clapper was still tight as he sat up straight. "You don't know my god? That makes two of us."

He shook his head, and gestured for the door. The two of them made their way for it as they spoke. Rather, the stranger spoke more than M'yr did.

On 11/1/2019 at 12:40 PM, Csl said:

Pallas took a step away from the counter, then gestured towards the door. "After you--" he frowned, "--hm. How should I call you?" It probably didn't matter, but he liked having manners.

M'yr huffed in exertion, propping the door open for the two of them. Outside, it wasn't raining. Well, it was, but it wasn't. M'yr just happened to be dry for a spell.

"M'yr," He introduced himself. "If it's all the same to you, I'd rather not talk much about myself. I'm just out here, same as anybody else." He paused, and added. "Nobody special, really."

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Visions seemed to buffet the stranger, slamming across him like waves against a vessel in a storm. Pallas watched the masked man's eyes dart to and fro, focusing on things which were not there - or perhaps were there, just not on the same plane as was most of what one would call reality.

Or perhaps he had some way of seeing his starlings?

Outside, a small flock of black birds beat their wings against the walls of the city. Pallas' vision fractured, forming a composite of the views through a dozen golden eyes.

Whatever was happening, it didn't seem to be affecting the birds. They saw nothing but the old glass buildings which housed smaller buildings. Lights within boxes within boxes.

He broke the contact, returning to the present. The stranger wasn't looking too well.

Curiosity got the better of him. Pallas held himself carefully on the saner side of perception, but dared to peek through the thoughtstream, through the stranger's eyes. This man had been in Taen for months; wildlight had suffused his body like any other person, and its influence threaded through his skeleton. Pallas placed an intangible finger on the wildlight cords binding the acolyte and tugged on the wisps of excess stimuli.

He glimpsed a sun, and the sea, and the harsh cry of seagulls.

He withdrew back into his head. "The birds are mine," he added helpfully, attempting to reassure the trembling man as he put his mask back on.

The stranger gave his name. "M'yr."

Oh. There was a moment of silence as Pallas realized who he was talking to. At M'yr's next words, her decided to comment nothing further, simply replying, "I'm Pallas." Nobody special either... not when facing whatever it is we're facing, that is.

As he stepped outside, a starling alighted on his shoulder. Pallas stroked the bird's head with a finger as its siblings remained aloft, circling above him. He held his staff loosely, swinging it casually. He strolled out into the street, eyeing the other acolytes and the ongoing festivities.

So, a bell.

He took a few steps down the street. A bird swooped ahead of him, through the corridors of the glass-walled city. Another flitted in the opposite direction.

Pallas turned back to Myr. "Where's this bell you have to ring?"

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On 11/11/2019 at 10:06 AM, Csl said:

He withdrew back into his head. "The birds are mine," he added helpfully, attempting to reassure the trembling man as he put his mask back on.

That doesn't help, but thanks. M'yr thought ruefully to himself. The birds were real, then. Maybe not the seagulls, or that twisted, knotted sun or the rolling seas, but the birds were, which was concerning on it's own. 

The stranger clearly wasn't of the sea. The acolyte knew that much for certain. However, it was undeniable that he was alien, or non-real to some degree as well. M'yr had been willing to put up with his odd appearance, dismissing it as some sort of failure on his part to see somebody as they are, but he had been seeing him correctly, after all. He was a testament to the unknown; a guarantee that the things M'yr had been through, the things they'd prophesied, weren't necessarily unique, or novel. But did that make their goals noble or sinister? Futile, perhaps? M'yr didn't think so. In fact, he supposed it only made sense. Just until a few months ago, he'd been blind to the rain and rising water. To be exposed to more, ever stranger things wasn't that great a surprise. There were likely tonnes of things he didn't know of.

The acolyte adjusted his mask, and his strange company introduced himself.

On 11/11/2019 at 10:06 AM, Csl said:

Oh. There was a moment of silence as Pallas realized who he was talking to. At M'yr's next words, her decided to comment nothing further, simply replying, "I'm Pallas."

A bird lit upon his hand, and M'yr watched. It was dry, despite the rain, which infused him with a twinge of envy. To fly above the waters would be nice, even if it only bought him a few seconds above the rising waters. He swallowed his jealously like a bitter pill, and moved on, walking down the road among the crowds.

They were dispersed mostly, but M'yr followed them deeper into the center of town. There, the sounds of festivities and music continued strong, and the density of bodies grew thicker. A random passerby bumped into M'yr, immediately turning into a tidal wave of frigid water that crashed over him. M'yr only barely managed to remain upright, clutching the bell clapper for stability. When the water dissipated, flowing across the concrete beneath them, the man who had collided with him apologized and quickly staggered on, clearly drunk. M'yr reeked of alcohol, from the beer splashed over his torso.

He chose to ignore it, for his own sake, and moved on, leading Pallas through the festival grounds. Around them, the majority of party goers had driftwood masks by now, all handed out by devoted acolytes trying to reach as many people as possible. It didn't do much to ease his shattered mind, but it was comforting, a sense of solidarity, if you will.

On 11/11/2019 at 10:06 AM, Csl said:

So, a bell.

He took a few steps down the street. A bird swooped ahead of him, through the corridors of the glass-walled city. Another flitted in the opposite direction.

Pallas turned back to Myr. "Where's this bell you have to ring?"

"Just in the center of the festival," He answered, pointing ahead. Not far from them, a large stage had been set up, and beyond it, a massive bell awaited.

The bell was larger than life, a colossal thing supported by two towering planks of wood, and suspended by a long length of rope. It was dull and dented, but where the barnacles and rust hadn't eaten it, there existed numerous etches and markings in its surface. The bell was beautifully crafted, and once, when it'd been molded, it was likely decorated with a number of ornate symbols and lettering. Now, it was a derelict from the bottom of the sea, a sea that didn't exist. A sea that might exist someday.

M'yr swallowed hard. The clapper in his hand was heavy, suddenly, and he moved it off his shoulder, dragging it across the ground. The sound of it rattling and scraping as it went hurt his ears, but he didn't mind. 

"We just need to...ring the bell," He gasped. Why was he sort of breath?

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