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jaistlyn

[Dead] Reflection of Alignak

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The cover of night was suited for the theme of The Dead. The furnishings in the room were adequate, the table adorned with a single candle. The soft, wavering light acted as a veil for the presence of those whom she waited for. She had paid for a room in an average inn of little renown in a less-populated corner of Ignatz, its owner having no interest in where his customers came from or where they were going. In truth, she was not going to spend the night here, but only use it for the purposes of this meeting. 

Darah was sitting on a wooden chair at the table. Her black dress was business-like and impeccable as always, fitting to her petite physique. She did not exhibit any signs of impatience; no twirling of her pen, no tapping of a finger. She merely sat still as a doll, with her hands folded into her lap. The only anomaly to anyone who could have been watching was that she was wearing a mask, shaped with the appearance of a skull. This was both to obscure, and to verify her identity to foe and friend.

Prior to this meeting, those coming would have had received information that their mission was to plant a totem in Ignatz in order to strengthen the power of Alignak. In her message, she had told them to enter discretely. From what she knew of The Dead and its variety of personalities, they could very well appear from anywhere. Perhaps their creativity could impress her.

@amenities @Rin @danzilla3 @Michael Bloodfang

Edited by jaistlyn

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An utterly unremarkable man in a robe walked through the front door of the inn carrying a large duffle bag. The people dinning and drinking barely paid him a cursory glance before turning their attention back to their own affairs. Satisfied by the lack of reaction, the robed man made his way to the room. Knocking once, he then entered to find a woman in a mask sitting on a table. Once again, the man showed no reaction; simply staring at the woman.

"Shut the door already, I'm getting a cramp!"

The voice unmistakably came from the duffle bag, and the robed man obeyed it's orders. It then unzipped the bag and deposited what surely looked like a twisted lump of flesh onto the floor.

"Hold on just a moment! I need to make myself presentable."

Suddenly the lump on the floor began to contort and convulse; it's limbs twisting back into their proper shapes with sickening crunches. The point at the waist where it looked as though the spine had been snapped in half straightened out. Finally, the head of the Dead General twisted around to its proper position before snapping upwards. Once everything was back where it should be, he began to stretch.

"Ah, sorry about that. I'm experimenting with new methods of infiltration using my Jutsu. Next time I think I'll cut myself into pieces..."

Placing his mask upon his face, he turned to face the room's other occupant, "But that's talk for another time. My name is Shikai, and I am with The Dead."

Máscara de cuervo pestilencia, hecho en resina, pintado a mano, un tamaño. ¡Elija sus colores!!!! Los gastos de envío consulte envío registrado/seguimiento. Por favor en contacto conmigo para alternativas de envío más económicos. ¡NO DUDE EN ENTRARME EN CONTACTO CON PARA MÁS INFO! _____________________________________________________________________________________ Pestilencia máscara de cuervo, creado en resina e colorata una mano, unica de misura. ¡Scegli la colorazione preferisci!...

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‘I am in blood
Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o'er.’

The only way out is through.

Severed from, unable to forget all of his familial and friendly ties from Tia, Ash Himura had long been steeped in the principles of the Dead. He wasn’t the same as the other Dead. While others followed the parables of the Syndicate in either faith or fear of ejection, the victim of those possessed by the very same contracts drafted one himself to instill upon the Syndicate itself a type of vengeance he thought only himself capable of. The only way to kill Cain, he thought, was to play his game all the way through. Poor boy.

What had it gotten him so far? A tassel around the neck with three diamonds attached. Naught but some inert jewelry, for now. He had been deceived into thinking it was all worth risking his life and now he’d lost his left eye. After a long stint recovering from a broken rib, a lost eye and an augmented healing of one of his spinal columns, Himura was battle ready again. He wasn’t particularly ‘magical,’ but he was a purebred warrior; a stocky biological weapon with a sharp mind for fighting who veritably fought his way through a scuffling life amongst high-powered beings.

So it was that the man with a cowl over his head and masking the bottom of half of his face entered the establishment. He only seemed like a man because, beneath the cowl, there was a plastic mask with dark brows and furious eyes. It was almost comically fake, but the eyes within bore outward with such intensity that anyone who looked would be either distinctly drawn to the image or fearfully repelled from it.

Since a room had already been rented and there was no food in order for the cowled man, he walked in. Eyes were drawn, but he was in and out of the lobby and dining room adjacent that he was a sight so sudden and gone that it incited short little more than short, amused conversations at the tables who’d caught the dashing glance.

This honed specimen was up the stairs, was upon the door in graceful seconds. Without knocking he tested the doorknob, audible to those inside the room. The sequence completed with a knock was almost as conspicuous as possible without having alerted any outsiders to the sinister gathering one floor above their simmering plates.

Mask purchased by the right cheek, hefted away by a left hand, spooled the purple cloth off of the black-robed figure’s face. It was Ash Himura, a black-haired teen with a vertical scar bisecting his closed right eye. The pale figure appraised the freshly assembled Shikai and the porcelain Darah. His grim face was a ghost in the outermost reaches of the candlelight.

“Where will we put it?” he asked in a hushed voice of the totem.

In truth, his mind reeled with the approach of yet another agent the Dead. He had seen the mysteriously powerful Shikai before, but Darah was a new acquaintance to him. The brightness of his blue teen eyes settled on her, ran down and up her figure with an attempt to understand her. Without any developed psychic augmentations and no honest understanding of the Cain on whom he waged war, Ash was unable to understand what it was, exactly, she was. 

“Do we have it already, or do we have to make it?”

He was, however, capable of mission accomplishment in most cases.

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Darah turned her head to the door when the man entered, waiting for him to make the first move. The voice coming from his bag piqued her interest, but what came out of it was not a run-of-the-mill contortionist, but something rather less elegant. Darah smiled beneath her mask. “Unusual, and there’s no need to apologize. I appreciate your efforts in arriving here ..unseen.” She stood up and stepped away from the table, giving a respectful curtsey. “Darah, at your service.” Given her newer status in the Dead, it was likely that Shikai was above her in the command chain, or had been with the Dead longer. “Please, make yourselves comfortable. We are expecting one more,” she addressed Shikai and his unnamed retainer both.

They hadn’t long to wait, when the knob turned and the knock came, almost like an afterthought. She had deliberately left the door unlocked, to facilitate the smooth entering of the other agents. The less they lingered in the common corridor, the better it was. She was also confident in her ability to drive away curious eyes. Besides, those who were competent enough to truly spy would not have been stopped by a simple lock.

A man entered, and tore away his mask to reveal a youthful visage. Perhaps it was simply his age, or perhaps it was a purpose that drove him to impatience. ‘To hell with formalities’, would probably be something expected out of him. “Well met,” Darah said, not answering him immediately. “My name is Darah. For the long term, we want it in the best place possible and in a form that is least likely to be found out, so this is something that should not be rushed. In short, no, there is no location decided, and nothing has been built yet.”

She spread her hands out, to signify that she had more to say. “There is a reason we are here, in the holiest city in Terrenus. Pilgrims come from all over, and if we can siphon their spiritual energy, we can strengthen Alignak. Our first step is to identify where people offer their prayers.”

“So, I have signed us up for a religious tour happening tomorrow.” She paused, gauging their reactions to this mundane task. But what better way to know the city and ask questions than to pretend to be tourists?

“If we like the guide, we can even get them to... cooperate with us.” She took off her mask, revealing a pretty, ageless face with a sweet smile.

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Shikai frowned at Ash's lack of decorum, "Now, now young man. We have some standards in this organization! When meeting a new acquaintance for the first time, you introduce yourself properly; like the young lady just did!"

Turning his attention back to Darah, he returned her curtsy with a slight bow, "A pleasure to meet you Darah. Please continue!"

Listening to the young woman explain her plan, Shikai was impressed with how much she had already thought out. Personally, he was more likely to make things up as he went along; improvising his way out of any trouble he got into. Still, he could acknowledge that there were times when a well thought out strategy was called for. Darah seemed to have a knack for that sort of planning; a trait that could see going far in their organization.

Taking off his mask, he returned her smile, "An excellent plan! Now all we have to do is find a way to pass the time."

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Since the door was unlocked, Ash simply walked in; and the first thing he did was embarrass himself. 

"Now, now young man. We have some standards in this organization! When meeting a new acquaintance for the first time, you introduce yourself properly; like the young lady just did!"

“Sorry— Ash Himura,” he responded, blushing and scratching the back of his head self-consciously.

While Ash knew very little about what Cain was capable of, he had seen Shikai in action before. The zombie General was a frightening menace both in the realms of infection and hand-to-hand combat. Just knowing this was one of Cain’s associates frightened him; and Shikai’s reputation alone was enough to warrant Ash respecting his scolding.

“If we like the guide, we can even get them to... cooperate with us.”

Darah’s face struck Ash. Straight from a blushing expression, exemplary of exactly the concept to which she referred, he couldn’t help but smile back. Shikai’s words grated him back into reality, and he corralled Shikai’s digression back to their plan.

“So we’ll put the totem where they worship?” 

He perceivably mulled it over for a second before continuing.

“Could we make a totem out of an object they already worship?”

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“Yes, that is my thought. Put the totem where they worship,” Darah said. “We will need to identify a suitable location, then fashion a totem that is indistinguishable from its surroundings. Using something that they already worship can increase our success rates. The tour will bring us to places with exclusive access - we will have opportunities to whisk away items of significance.”

“Now is a good time to familiarize ourselves with each other’s abilities.” Darah reached into a fold of her dress, then took out something and placed it on the table. A doll about six inches tall that picked herself up and looked around the room. “A semi-autonomous puppet. She can act by herself on my orders, or I can control her directly. If we need anything small taken, she can do it.”

Darah moved her fingers ever-so-slightly, and suddenly the mask that Shikai was wearing was in her hands. “Or I can.” She allowed the candlelight to gleam off thin strands of thread that were connected to the mask.

She turned to Shikai. “You seem to have much experience in subterfuge, given how you made your way into this room. Any particular form that you will be taking that will aid our quest?”

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Shikai glanced at his recently vacated hands and laughed, "That's awesome!"

 “You seem to have much experience in subterfuge, given how you made your way into this room. Any particular form that you will be taking that will aid our quest?”

"Oh, I've got lots of cool tricks!" declared the shinobi, "I can raise the dead if we need some cheap cannon fodder; or I can take control of the living provided that I can bite them, preferably on the neck. But if you want, I can also transform my appearance in a couple of different ways. You want be to be a priest or something, I can do that. I can do it pretty quickly too, so we can take advantage of opportunities as they come up."

Now Shikai leaned against the wall, "Basically I can do just about whatever you need me to do. I'm following your lead on this."

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Ash had seen what Shikai could do before his transportation out of Renovatio. He knew him for being a surprisingly pragmatic fighter. Now, seeing Darah, and being at the event she'd organized at the behest of the Dead head he sought to cut off, Ash had some understanding of what she was capable of as well. Blushing ever so slightly in the darkness, he placed his sword-hand on the hilt of his blade. They were standing far apart enough that it wouldn't seem a threatening motion, and properly.

"I am a swordsman from the fallen Tia. I am," in the span of his words, without a grunt or a perceivable moment of exit, the sheen of his blade extended before him. Just the act of unsheathing, then resheathing his blade was a singular, fluid motion full of grace. "Rather skilled."

Next, Ash would put on display his own sense of pragmatism. With another fluid motion, he unrolled a map before them. A node of light above them illuminated its brown-grey surface, locations and roads labeled.

"I propose we plant our totem here." Ever the cutter-to-the-chaser, Ash planted his finger on a church called First Temple. "This is a place of worship. Nothing suspect has happened here since its inception, and it's a huge hub for worship. It looks perfect to me."

He looked around to gauge their reactions.

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Darah nodded, satisfied by Shikai’s variety of skills, and Ash’s impressive display of agility. She passed Shikai’s mask back to him, then looked over the map. 

“The First Temple. The original temple built by Odin Haze. The spiritual energies will be strong, for certain. The tour will be bringing us there.”

-

It was a day with fine weather. The tour group had a total of twenty-odd people, and the three Dead members arrived separately, with the aim of quietly identifying or acquiring a significant item that could be fashioned into a totem, and seeking a location where they could place it for worship. The guide, Wenna, was a bob-haired lady with a pleasant voice. She brought them through the customary introduction, talked about the history of Gaianism, then started off the tour at a museum containing paintings and artifacts. The First Temple was to be the second stop on the tour. 

Darah’s gaze lingered on the statues in the middle of the floor they were on - impressive figures immortalizing Jason of the Lion’s fight with Zengi. Close by, Wenna strode up purposefully to a display case holding a white mask. “This is a replica of the mask Odin Haze wore in his campaign against the desecrators. The location of the actual mask remains a mystery, though rumours of its sighting have surfaced, even in recent times. Are there any questions?”

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Shikai had shown up for the tour in the loudest floral shirt that he had been able to find the night before, a large pair of sunglasses, khaki shorts, and sandals. The camera around his neck completed the look. Even in a setting more appropriate for his chosen attire, he would have stood out like he had a neon sign strapped to his forehead. This was the point; as he hoped to draw attention away from his allies in the tour group. If the need arose for him to take on a more discreet appearance, he would only need to disappear for a moment before returning as an entirely different person, at least outwardly. 

As they were led through the temple by their personable guide, he snapped photos of various artifacts. To the casual observer he would appear to be just another tourist getting plenty of pictures to bore his coworkers with when he returned from his vacation. Of course, in reality he was casing the place, not just looking for the item they would need today, but also cataloging them for things that might be useful another time.

The Odin mask was an obvious target. If tour groups passed it every day, it was perfectly placed spread the influence of Alignak. He would covertly glance at his comrades with a questioning glance.

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Ash wore a matte brown robe with matching slippers that looked cumbersome, but whose fit and capacity for agility were surprisingly exceptional. His frame was a stocky, veritable one, but his robe left so little to the imagination that he would not appear anything but a well-exercised young man with a keen eye for the tradition of Gaianism; if not to convert himself to it, then at least to observe—  for observation of Gaianism was acceptable even by outsiders, and Ash was as outwardly mundane an outsider as it gets.

However he, too, searched for the perfect object with which they could imbue the Totem using their minute-long ritual.

While the others and most of the tour group 'ooh'-ed and 'ah'-ed at the inane replica of the dead Saint's mask, Ash beheld the glory of a bronze work of art on the wall opposite. It was as perfectly symmetrical as da Vinci's Last Supper mural. There on the wall was depicted a scene of Jason of the Lions and the rest of his brutal battalion waging war against Zenghi's black, charred force called the Desecrators. Ash was familiar with these tales because, more than Gaianism, his father and then he had always followed the crusades of the Lions to wipe out the forces of evil from the Empire.

The Odin Mask was an obvious target, but Ash nodded his head to the side suggestively as the group continued onward.

"We should get closer to the middle," he said mutedly as the trio converged inconspicuously amidst the decent-sized tour group. "As close to the lectern as possible."

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Canon Checkpoint
The Dead reaches a point in the First Temple of Ignatz where they are to create of an object a Totem to Alignak. Totems to Alignak amplify power in that area on a scale dictated by the influence of the object made into a Totem. Theoretically, placing a Totem to Alignak would amplify power to worshippers of Alignak all throughout Ignatz.

Objective
Complete the mission, either creating of an object or replacing it discretely with the Totem, and make a clean getaway.

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