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(OOC Thread)

Chesterfield, a town that until a few short weeks ago Tharun hadn't even heard of dispite being practically neighbors with his homeland. A city with a sky that wasn't just made of more city. A city of possibilities. In the time since he'd literally stumbled into the wider world Tharun had been at a loss at what to do now; as much as the wonders of that not-quite-a-place had been amazing to him, it hadn't felt right. He needed to get back to Valucre, back to helping people. Of course, to do really do that he'd need money.

Elder Company, that name had been passed to him by the Tavernkeeper. Mercenaries, yes, but more focused on salvage than war. He could work with that. Probably. Chesterfield was just a portal away, so if he found himself in another bad situation he could probably just duck back out.

With his few possessions gathered and confidence fortified with one last drink, Tharun journeyed to Chesterfield and sought out the Guildhouse. He wasn't sure if the recruiter's look at him were skeptical or amused.

“Hi I'm here to-” He paused for a second, tripping on his own words “I was told your guild is looking to hire on for some kind of salvage run?”

Edited by Sentaris

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"Every hour of every day, pretty much."

The teenager behind the counter spat his bubble gum into a tissue and threw it away then reached beneath the counter to pull a sheet of paper free from a ream. He held the sheet out to Tharun with a pencil.

"Basic info so's we can match you with jobs that roughly go with your skill set and experience. You can pick any job off this list," The young man handed Tharun another sheet of paper with two columns, the one on the left much longer than the one on the right. "But the jobs on this one are for permanent members only, so's we know it won't be someone who bungles something sensitive or dangerous. Fill that out and I'll get you sorted with a buddy."

Assuming a base level of literacy Tharun was done with the information inside of 10 minutes and told to take a seat, read the paper if he felt so inclined. There was a neat stack of flyers at one corner of the table advertising a karaoke night that might tickle his fancy.

15 minutes later the door to Elder Company's small office opens again, and through it saunters an old man. Old because of his face and his hair, but spry in his gait, with lively eyes and an animated expression which seemed constantly to cycle through amusement and annoyance. A brief chat with the young man at the front desk and Emilio was standing next to Tharun, extending a hand to help him to his feet.

"You used to sailing? I don't want you throwing up on me! Let's get our asses to the docks boy."

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Tharun took the man's hand with an awkward moment where he had been expecting it to be a handshake. Having to trot to keep up as the man took the lead towards the docks, Tharun fell in behind him. “Yeah- I mean, no, I don't know. I've never actually been on a boat before, but I don't usually get motion sickness.”

Inwardly he winced a little; he sounded like some first-term student fumbling over his words to his own ears and half expected the elder man to scoff at him for it. It could hardly be his fault he'd grown up somewhere that didn't even have a view of the sea, let alone any actual boats or ships.

“I'm Tharun, by the way... didn't catch your name?”

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"There's a local pepper some of the chefs work with that's pretty good for nausea. We'll get some curry to go and you can take a nibble whenever your stomach gets angry at you. Emilio." The older man introduced himself with a hearty slap on Tharun's shoulder.

Emilio put them on a northern heading, which eventually brought them onto a path leading out of Chesterfield and into the Wilds of Lagrimosa, beyond the roadside taverns, inns, and entertainment depots until they got to the noodle shop. The crowd was thin and the waitstaff attentive, serving Emilio an order of steaming hot noodles in a degradable container which Emilio passed on Tharun as they went west, towards the dock, and the din of the seafaring crowd and the unique scent of ocean meeting commerce.

"What do you know about Bi'le'ah?"

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Tharun took the little pot of curry gratefully, winding the noodles around a little wooden fork as they hustled through the town towards the docks. He took a moment to try and recall what, if anything he'd been taught about Bi'le'ah. It wasn't often something from outside the Arcology mattered much to the lower reaches of Absalom, but he was sure he'd been taught something about it. Something about magic going wild there? Ah! Yes, that was it!

"It was the site of a battle, right? One that ended with the city being lost to chaotic magic. I remember hearing about the evacuation and recovery efforts a while ago." He paused to take another bite of his curry. "So that's where we're going? Just the two of us or are we meeting more along the way?

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Posted (edited)

"Yes my boy that's exactly where we're going. It'll be just the two of us so far as I know but the company might decide to send someone after us and we always have the option to call in support. Just keep in mind this is your op. I'm backing you up, which the company is paying me for out of your fee by the way, but you're taking the lead."

City streets transition seamlessly into the look and feel of the dock proper. Emilio points Tharun towards the local branch of the Casper Shipping Company by keeping his hand on the boy's shoulder and quite literally pointing him at it.

"The main thing to mind is that the ruins are ripe with loco magic. Madness bubbles, flame tornadoes, there's those sanity eating spiders that like to run around. You need to stay muy vigilante friend."

Up a slim passenger loading ramp to a compact and nimble ship, with the CSC's fish logo stamped across the side of it and strips of dull manipulagua which would bless the vessel with preternatural capabilities once skipping across the tops of ocean waves.

Edited by supernal

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On the deck of this ship stood an older man dressed finely in a formal black suit and bowler hat, he was also holding a large matching umbrella.  There was no sign of rain, and so the umbrella was closed, and while the midday sun was shining down on him, not a drop of sweet could be seen on his rigid wrinkled face.

The man spoke with a precise and even tone that carried surprisingly well over the bustle of the port "Good day young Mr. Foundson, Mr Arellano.  The Eldar Company would like to extend its thanks for both of your accepting of this adventure.  Due to the nature of Bi'Le'ah, the Company has elected to provide you with my services, in the hopes that it might aid your endeavors."

The finely dressed man walked to the pair with not a wasted step. "I am Thomas J. Boyle, a butler by trade but one that can provide an extensive number of helpful services."  with a flick of his wrist, the butler presented Emilio with his buisness card, and once that was taken, he presented a card to Tharun as well.  "I hope that you will both find my services adequate."

The butler removed his hat and bowed to the two adventures before placing it back on the exact way it was before.  "now, I do believe that the two of you have still to meet Ms. Letariat, who will also be joining us on this exposition."

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Prose was naked. Then again, her body was just a human-shaped mass of black gel so there wasn't much to hide. Seated on the starboard bow of the ship, she looked to the sound of her name from gazing into the ocean deep with her eyeless facets. Seeing the trio together, Prose noted that they had all immediately set themselves apart from the others either in different ways— either derived from uniqueness, experience, or decided inexperience. Her dark body moved with amazing flexibility as she swung her legs over the ship's guard rails and walked toward them.

"Hi! Prose." An electric-blue coil lit up in the jelly-woman's throat, generating her harmonic voice using the sound from a frequency of electricity zinging up the coil.

She extended her hand to each of them to offer a handshake. Her otherness which she once privately lamented was no longer a sensitive subject to her, but instead her forwardness now might strike her mostly-regular company as bold. Her voice was as beautiful as a song whenever she spoke; the truth was that she could only speak in changing tones. She utilized typical inflections, only musically exaggerated.

"I'm excited to work with you!"

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Thomas J. Boyle's business card was done up in the fashion which passed as elegant in those fields circulating business cards to begin with, essentially reading: Thomas J. Boyle, Butler. Emilio folded the card neatly in half, supposing that's what one did with little scraps of paper, and stuffed it into his satchel.

"Mr. Thomas J. Boyle. If you give out a lot of those little pieces of paper you should hire me for my services in protecting you from vodoun priests. Actually let me tell you a little more about what I can do for you sir. First –"

Emilio's counter-upsell was interrupted by the fascinating person of Prose. When she speaks and raises her hand Emilio is taken aback, quite literally jumping several paces back while raising his own hands in gestures familiar to those practiced in the arcane sciences. On seeing that the woman is merely offering her hand, not flinging a lightning bolt at him, Emilio clears his throat and relaxes his posture. He retrieves a leather glove from his satchel and uses his protected hand to shake Prose's hand without reservation, looking her square in her . . . face region.

"You scared me. I'm sorry. I look forward to work with you also. I have to say lady, gentlemen, it is unusual for this to happen but life is unusual in its way. Still for four company members this must be a task more complex than I thought, or very, very tedious, or Tharun here is secretly a prince in disguise."

Emilio glanced sidelong at Tharun, waited, continued.

"He has had curry to settle his stomach the poor lad has no taste for the ocean. Would anyone else be interested in a drink as we set off?"

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Thomas once again removed his hat and bowed, this time to Prose.  "ah, Hello Ms. Letariat. I trust that all your things are in order.".  He turned back to Emilio "Mr. Arellano, as you might already know, the ruins of Blaizo city are highly unpredictable due to the abundance of chaotic magic.  while there is a chance that this expedition could be completed by just one of us, there is also the chance that we will run into endless hordes of teletypes.  additionally, while I do appreciate your offer, I already have my own means of dealing with curses and the like."   "With that said however, we can continue our discussions while on commute.  The captain has allowed us access to his cabin where I will be serving tea once we have left port.  now, if you may momentarily excuse me, I will go ask the captain to set sail."

With a tip of his hat, The butler walked over to the captain, who was smoking his pipe thoughtfully by the ship's wheel.  The two spoke exchanged a few words before the captain emptied his pipe overboard and began shouting orders at the various sailors and seamen.

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Once she'd been a fearless captain sailing the global estuary between Sea of Regrets and Southern Sea. Way out there was a perfect, one-hundred-mile line where the oceans touched like crushing black and clear blue. The optical illusion was created by a depthless trench nobody had ever ventured to the bottom of. It was here, seeking an answer to the darkness, that Prose had met her untimely demise at the hands of an *unimaginable sea beast- only instead of death, she found consciousness digested and spit out in this new elastic vessel, her mind given physical form as the black substance that filled her transparent flesh.

Since then she'd become accustomed to people being frightened or put off by her appearance, so Emilio's shock didn't deter her in the least.

"Sorry to catch you off guard!" She chuckled in response to his superfluous fright.

Prose looked to Tharun, the crevice where her mouth would have been forming a grin while the aluminum coil embedded in her gel throat lit up with electricity as she spoke.

"I'm sure he'll be just fine! Right?"

As the butler man went to engage the captain, Letariat addressed Emlio and Tharun both with a gesture of the hand that culminated in her hand sliding along the banister on the side of the ship. She wouldn't need to— her balance was developed for the sea as a cyclists' for wheels— but she would use it to steady herself as the ship lurched away after being unmoored. By now, assumably, Thomas had returned to hear her continue.

"I like to think I've been around a ship my whole life! Every one is like a different animal, and you could say I'm good with them." She looked at the coast, still so near you could make out individual expressions on faces working the harbor; even still she reminisced departing the shores a hundred times before. "These seas were my playground, years ago. It's good to sail them again."

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Blinking as he watched Thomas peel off and harangue the staff, Emilio concluded that either Elder Company had come into a windfall and aggressively expanded its human resources department, or the butler was a consummate professional who butlered as a way of life, and brought his expertise to bear in every engagement and interaction into which he happens to find himself.

"Either way something tells me I'm going to like this guy." Emilio continued, concluding aloud a sentiment he had started inside of his mind. Turning to Prose: "You heard him say he got the captain to give us access to his cabin? And that he's going to serve us tea? It didn't sound like a joke did it? I've met a person or two who only pretends to be nice and might sprinkle a few maggots into your coffee to teach you about taking drinks from strangers. I will check my tea, but he seems very nice."

Prose told Emilio more about her . . . it? herself than Emilio felt he had a right to expect. She had been apologetic for his social blunder, and even though he felt unequivocally justified in his reaction (after all, he didn't actually blast her right?!), Emilio couldn't help the feeling that Prose was only being so open because she felt she had to put him at ease so he didn't jump out of his skin like a big wuss.

Emilio took a breath and puffed his chest up while folding his arms on the ship's railing. He looked out onto the ocean, not across at the harbor, but straight down into the water as it rippled and crashed against the ship's hull.

 "That sounds very good for you. I am happy you can enjoy it so much. It must be like a little vacation for you then before the work even begins. Me, I am only okay with ships. I have ridden on very, very, very many of them in my life but don't ask me to steer one. Fishing though, ask me to do that whenever you want.

"Hey I think Thomas is fingering for us to come for tea."

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“I've met a person or two who only pretends to be nice and might sprinkle a few maggots into your coffee to teach you about taking drinks from strangers. I will check my tea, but he seems very nice."

“Oh my,” a slender hand rose to the outline of her mannequinesque lips like a dark cloud at the remark. Sails were unfurling around them, cranks and pulleys creaking and swinging into motion. Prose showed all the consummate bearings of a sailor who knew the length of this pole and that the swinging velocity of that rope, masts swinging within a foot or two of her head without her flinching as she considered Emilio's unfortunately experienced suspicion. 

“I will have to check my tea as well," she raised her thundercloud finger in resolution as the ship went into its first smooth swell of motion. She could feel that, on top of wind, there was another type of engine below deck churning them forward. "He does seem like the type of fellow who’s either quite honest or a real sneak.”

Then, gesturing at the one who’d ingested curry but still addressing Emilio, she went on as they made their way toward Thomas and the departing captain.

“I don’t know if this one will be much for tea, but I could really use a spot. Thomas! Have you ever been fishing before?”

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Thomas Lead the old man and weird Jello creature into the captain's cabin.  The room was remarkably clean and well organized (In no small part thanks to Thomas, who had spent his morning giving the cabin a very professional thrice over.)  To a regular eye, it would appear that the whole room's furnishings were brand new, sadly, Thomas had yet to reach the point where he could even fool a trained eye on this matter.

A round table had been set up in the middle of the cabin with three adjoining chairs.  an exotic flower and glass vase were the table's centerpiece and seemed unperturbed by the creaking swaying of the ship on the open water.  Thomas propped his umbrella upright against the thin air and made his way to a silver tea set on a nearby dresser.  Thomas pressed a silver button on the handle of the silver tea pot, which caused the pot to hum and glow a faint red.  He then pulled out a large portfolio labeled "Tea Bags" and begun looking through it

The butler answered Prose's questions as he flipped through the portfolio of innumerable tea bags "There are many flavors of tea Miss Letariat, You may simply have yet to find the one that speaks to you.  As for fishing, I am knowledgeable in the act, the art, and the profession, however I have never once fished as it is an activity that goes beyond my station.  The duty of a butler is to provide services to improve one's standard of living, The act of catching fish, while undeniably useful, is not included in that."  "That said Miss Letariat, if you wish to fish, I can assist you in numerous other ways.  Mr Arelleno, is there a specific tea that you would wish to have, or should I provide you with what I think might be best?"

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Emilio was impressed by the condition of the room which Thomas secured and prepared for them, but he was shrewd and kept this awe to himself. Emilio tucked his hands behind his back and marched through the shared living space, closely inspecting every angle and aspect. He concluded his inspection running a finger along a countertop, then scrutinizing the tip of his finger for a blemish of any kind. Finding no fault he turned to Thomas and the gentility of his charade finally racked.

"Hooty hot damn Thomas! Listen I worked with elder company for a little while now and never have I been in a room like this on one of the ships they charter unless I'm paying for it out of my own pocket. If you have a comment card or something, you get a five star review from me."

Emilio sat himself down on one of the chairs while Thomas and Prose dialogued, his attention absorbed by the flower and its vase, by their zen-like serenity even amid the chaotic turbulence of a ship pushed out to sea.

"Whatever tea you think is best will be fine Thomas. Everything about you tells me your taste? Impecable!"

The manipulagua strips along the hull of the ship kicked to life and rippled control over the surface of waves in a tight perimeter around the ship, providing it thrust and stability in equal measures; after a few minutes the ship was moving as if under a strong wind.

"So Thomas do you mean to tell me that if Prose and I do the actual fishing you'll contend with the scaling and the cleaning?"

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