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Hello and welcome reader, to the 28th instalment of the Character Development Threads! These shared story exercises help budding writers develop their characters alongside the characters of other budding writers. No sign-up is needed; just jump right in with your characters. It is recommended that you read the thread page and the last couple of pages before starting.

Discussion Thread Thread Page Town Map

This is a "Main Series" thread and, as such, an element of risk is expected. Rules and participation guidelines may be found on this page.

The thread page groups active characters under the areas in which they are active, enabling you to see who is at a given location in which you might be interested or to find out where to go to encounter characters with whom you wish to interact.

Kindly add your own characters to the thread page, with a link to their initial post, under the area in which they are located and update the page if they change location.

Bear in mind that if your characters are arriving at a location, they are likely to know little more than what they see and hear as they arrive - what the location looks like, what other characters are there (both of which can be read on the thread page) and the last few lines uttered and actions taken as they are arriving (which can be found in the last few posts for that location in the story thread itself), so inserting characters need not be a terrifying process.

If you need help, have any questions, or want a quick recap (if the page count is daunting), head over to the discussion page, and someone is sure to help you out!

To help guide character interaction, having your character come in with a at least one short-term and one long-term goal or motivation is strongly recommended. It is not required, but it does make it easier to drive the plot forward. Feel free to come up with rumours about what treasures, adventure, locations, and dangers may be found in the setting - they need not be true or accurate, just some hook on which to hang an adventure.

The setting is specifically designed to be a vast sandbox into which details can be inserted by participants (for example, you are free to decide that there is a particular temple in the midst of the forest in which something may be found or that there is a particular shop/hotel/restaurant in a section of the town), if you come up with a location that you desire/expect other characters to visit, please add it to the thread page as a sub-location of the relevant area.

Things change as the story progresses. If, for example, a massive battle occurs at a location and the area is now strewn with bodies and buildings are damaged, kindly update the thread page to reflect those changes, in order that other participants have an up-to-date description of the location prior to sending their characters there.

Special thanks to all those who helped in getting the thread launched or provided ideas and feedback. In alphabetic order, they include:

Blackfire667, Collen, Corvidae, daird, DarkbloodCarnagefang, EternaMemoria, Gault, Kkutwar, KillerClowns, ladytanuki, Masterofchaos, nrjxll, Pyxo, Slysheen, TroPartner, WillDeRegio and yours truly

Apologies if I missed anyone - just let me know and I'll update the post.


Between dimensions, and linked to the rest of the multiverse, lies a strange post-apocalyptic environment made up of various regions strewn with the remnants of past glory - ruins, lost technologies and magic. Here and there, nature has found its way back amongst the ruined temples and towns.

In the midst of the blighted landscape, a fresh new town has emerged - a synergy of technology, nature and magic; clean and eco-friendly; a beacon of hope for a brighter future - where travellers can rest, recharge their batteries both literally and metaphorically and get whatever they may need - technological, magical or otherwise - to aid them on their adventures.

New arrivals can turn up by diverse means in the transportation area in the north-western part of the town or by whatever other means they deem appropriate. Here they may also find for rent, lease or hire, any transport they desire from riding animals to vehicles.

The wilderness areas have not been fully explored since the mysterious apocalyptic events that ravaged the area some time ago and no one is really sure what's out there - but rumours abound.

All that is known for sure is that both magic and technology have existed here for a long time, so anything is possible...


Currently in Day 1.

Current Time: 5:00 PM

Current Weather: Mostly fine, a few light clouds

See the thread page for updates.

Edited by Wolf1066 on Feb 15th 2019 at 6:24:18 AM

Sep 21st 2019 at 9:18:04 AM

Town Square, Billboard (Maelys, Mist; Soryn; Aseyu; Jobe Pearson the Disgruntled Farmer)

In a clear gesture of greeting, Aseyu switched her staff to her off-hand, brought her right fist to her chest and softly tapped her sternum. "Aseyu ul'Valmoth vash'Suela Keyaris," Aseyu said. "Just Aseyu, though, please; Ms. Aseyu if you must be formal."note 

Aseyu then spotted where Mist's attention had ended up and said, "Like what you see?"

She let that linger in the air, just long enough.

Then, as though she were completely oblivious to the implications of her previous sentence, Aseyu continued "the work of the best jeweler in Oriyith." Aseyu's deft fingers danced through the strands hanging from the necklace, letting the light catch the delicate chains and curious stones just so as she said, "though I would say that; she's my sister."

She then looked between the pair. "So Maelys vashon'Aria, and Mist. A pleasure to meet you both." Though she'd raised her hand to her mouth, covering itnote , the movement of the rest of her face and something in her eyes clearly indicated a coy, inviting smile directed right at Mist as she said this. She let it sink in for a few moments before returning to the image of polite Qorisayane stoicism and returning her hand to rest lazily atop her staff.

She also looked Soryn up and down, just as approvingly despite the battle wounds. Perhaps best to let his wound settle a bit, but she certainly didn't mind the attention she was getting from him. She gave him a courteous nod and said, "and you as well, Soryn." She gave him the same greeting.

"I'd be willing to help," Aseyu said to Jobe. "I'm not a hunter, but," she tapped the staff, "I'm no shade-flower either." Then she pulled at her shirt. "Though I'm not exactly dressed for the job. I'd have to get changed into something practical first.

Edited by KillerClowns on Sep 21st 2019 at 11:35:50 AM

WillDeRegio *stare* from Baltimore
*stare*
Sep 21st 2019 at 1:15:25 PM

Town Square ~ Notice Board (Maelys, Mist; Soryn; Jobe; Aseyu)

Maelys flinched softly. "Not you too," she said of Soryn, before adding under her breath, "I should keep an eye on you..."

Mist gave an emphatic nod at Aseyu, "Yes, I do," she said. She returned the woman's smile with one of her own, though she ended up a bit perplexed by Aseyu's shifting demeanor.

The maid gave Jobe a polite bow. "Boar disturbing your noble lively hood— I... suppose I may be willing to help," she said, hesitantly.

Mist, on the other hand, went from bright and smiling to dead-serious. Reaching behind, she drew her weapon. A click of a button and the spear's steely shaft grew to full length, longer than the valkyrie was tall, topped with the over-a-foot-long bifurcated silver lugged spearhead. An ornate weapon forged from ancient technology mixed with modern methods to replace parts lost to time.

"You have my spear," Mist said to Jobe, stern-faced.

The valkyrie's display went unnoticed by her undead companion. The maid was standing beside the snake wizard, holding a finger to her chin as she observed his wounds. "Moufreta.. ambush? That does not sound like them at all; too intelligent for their abilities," she said.


Wasteland ~ The Scar (Lerna, Nerea, Cuddles; Sallara; Varla)

The Abyssal Empress could sense Sallara's pearls reaching their limit, charged with the stormy energies. She frowned softly.

Once more Nerea indicated her servant, "As I said, my servant can handle it. She may be no emotion eater, as you called it, but..." Behind her visor, the empress closed her eyes. She sighed, pointing a finger at Varla's amethyst heart, "she has some-thing akin to that crystal heart of yours in-side of her. It can hold a vast amount of magical energy, bolstering her innate abilities. Worry not about harming her."

Meanwhile, Lerna smiled pleasantly at the bolt of energy she had been struck with. "Mmm, that feels nice," she purred.

"See, she does not mind. Feel free to make use of her," said Nerea.

She then looked upwards towards the sky. "The sun is setting," she said, holding a hand to her visor, "soon I will have less need for this..."


Ghost Town (Cynthia, Diantha; Arilay, Aynara, Shale; Mind-Controlled Bandit)

Diantha pursed her lips, glancing over at Cynthia. "Silver-eyed— I've never heard of a male Silver Witch before..." She said it herself, mind control isn't an innate ability of his— meaning, he's obviously not a "Silver Witch", as you young folk are keen on calling them, her noble spirit, Zoroaster, told her.

The girl had the mental image of a wizened old man closing his eyes and sighing, Harrumph. Amethyst, huh. It'll be something worth looking into— if you need me, I'll be in my library.

Cynthia gave a nod towards Aynara, "Of course. The Balamar Empire is across the sea to the south and east of Cadia. They're one of the most powerful countries on the mainland, especially after they annexed most of the former Vargas Empire."

Edited by WillDeRegio on Sep 21st 2019 at 4:16:41 AM

Thousand Origami Cranes progress: 214/1000
Masterofchaos litten!!!! from In The Void Relationship Status: In Lesbians with you
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Sep 21st 2019 at 3:33:29 PM

[Hummingbird-East of town]

"Wait, ambush?" Nick said, "Shit! I have to see if Uncle John's okay!"

Adam turned his head away, glaring. He was not brainwashed; that machine was broken. His eyes weren't silver. He wasn't shuffling like a zombie. More importantly, he lost his pull to Mael the moment the amethyst shot out of his body. It wasn't fair...why was this happening to him?

His glare disappeared, and now he felt like crying. Archery was the only good thing he was good at, the only thing that made him feel like he belonged in his group, and now he couldn't use it. He was now a unwanted load.

I'm useless now...

He quickly wiped his eyes before anyone could see him break down.

"Wouldn't this be a little crowded?" Amy asked, tilting her head to the side, "I mean, new friends joining us is great! But we already have a big crowd, and more people might make the thief catch on!"

"We'll manage," Maya said, "Now let's go."

Soon, after stepping on the teleporter pod, everyone found themselves back near the town, close to a Butte. Jackson immediately pulled up a holographic screen and stared at it, puzzled.

"Still no sign of our thief," he said, "Strange. I doubt she has spinel, but still...where did she even go?"

Marie was too busy being paranoid about every bug that crawled by her. "God, I'm more worried of a bug bite turning us into zombies or worse. Why did we have to keep on eye on that on top of looking out for a mind controller and a thief?"

Adam, meanwhile, had silently backed away from the group, though not too far from Aranaya. If he wasn't going to be useful for anything other than luring in Mael, then it was best if he stayed away from the more capable people.

Away from the people that reinforced the fact he was now a useless burden.


[Town]

I...see. Mael thought, I'll keep that in mind.

Outwardly, he kept a pleasant smile as he addressed Moobly. "He didn't say anything terribly important, my friend. Don't worry about it, okay? Let's just focus on the task at hand."

Edited by Masterofchaos on Sep 21st 2019 at 7:45:37 AM

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Sep 21st 2019 at 4:33:47 PM

Outside Hotel (Mael; Archaeologist Ellya-Salaenl, Sarquoql alias Ren 4; Nora, Moobly) -> Notice Board (Crowd)

Ellya-Salaenl tried to keep the disappointment off her face at how tame Nora's shapeshifting demonstration was. They were in public, after all, and there were children present. She relaxed her gliding membranes and let them swish at her sides as she walked.

"Moobly begs Ren's pardon? Did you say something?"

Sarquoql looked down at Moobly. He answered, "Yeah, to her," and jerked a thumb at Ellya-Salaenl's back. "Like he said, nothing important." He quickly changed the subject to a kind of pre-flirting get-to-know chitchat, tweaking his cover story. "So, I was cloned from a Prairie-dash Anthromimic Dragon. What kind of dragon are you?"

As the group got closer to the bulletin board, Sarquoql started to feel like someone was pouring molasses into his telepathic connection to Ellya-Salaenl. He identified the sensation, lunged forward, snagged her elbow and pulled her backwards. She yelped in surprise, but before she could ask why he did that, Sarquoql warned, "Keep a safe distance everyone, somebody's got anti-magic up and running!"

Ellya-Salaenl, now tucked behind her bodyguard, piped up, "Oh, so that's why there's a hole in my telepathic radar."


Hub Town Parking Lot, David's Truck (Nyorla, Zip, Zing, Plasma)

Wardstones in position, Nyorla noted that the civilians who had noticed her only saw a strange child playing on the roofs. Her singing had distracted them from her setup, All According to Plan. Nyorla glided down to David's truck and considered how to continue passing the time with Plasma under the guise of deliberately cute children. She wouldn't activate the el-kor field until Mael or Sarquoql showed up. The Web had lost track of Sarquoql a few days ago and he was in hiding, so they couldn't rule out the possibility of him being here in this newly discovered star system, even if his spaceship was rampaging elsewhere.

Edited by Miss_Desperado on Sep 29th 2019 at 1:13:27 AM

Ryuhza Spectral Season from San Diego County, California
Spectral Season
Sep 23rd 2019 at 1:53:37 AM

East of Town, Beyond the Butte - On The Prowl


"Glad to hear it," David replied, giving John a bright grin, before the mention of a certain five letter word sent a subtle facial spasm to rattle his whiskers. He seemed to ignore it, not even bothering to straighten them out as he so often did. Instead he just returned his gaze to Claire, saying in a quieter, more conversational tone,

"Well, I admire the grit. And as someone who's been across the embers a time or two, I know it's a sacrifice. You give up part of yourself, hardening up like that. You don't get to be... soft, anymore. Not in the same way. There's an absoluteness that you'll never feel again. Even if it all was undone. Baby smooth skin... no scars, no scuffs... something in you knows. It's not the same."

Begrudgingly, he allowed his attention to be pulled back in the direction of the retreating monster. "Well I didn't see any telltale signs of human-snacking around ol' Rocky's mouth, though I suppose it could have swallowed her whole." He frowned, wrinkling the bridge of his snout in distaste, "What a waste that'd be. Steal my truck and then ditch it just to be gobbled up by some beast of the wastes. Hrmph."

David paused, tapping his own fuzzy chin, "But Rocky seemed awfully aggressive for something that would have just filled its belly. Realistically, how much can a creature like that, living out here," he lifted his arms, fanning them out over his head, " expect to eat on a daily basis? An adult human, that's got to be a treat." He shook his head, "No, our thief is still out there, primed to be gobbled up by some other desert beastie."

He watched with mild interest as Claire scoured the ground, seemingly looking for tracks or some other lead whilst muttering about the thief's intentions. "I've been wondering the same thing ever since my truck was recovered. If I'm being honest, I'm still a little flabbergasted that we found it at all. I thought I knew desperate, but..." he trailed off, shaking his head again in puzzlement.


East of Town - Adrift Upon Rocks


Through the rest of the preparation and the procession back to the transporter room, Joseph was quiet. He didn't say a word, nor was his mind stirring with worried thoughts. Had anyone looked at him, they would have seen eyes far away, disconnected from the here and now.

It was peaceful, as loneliness tends to be when one is in truce with oneself. Like a faux zen, he minded only the clockwork of his body, breathing, stepping, the pulse and pump of all the blood that made him go. Even within the bubble that Arnaya produced around them, Joseph felt locked in his own small bubble, he the carried more than carrier. Carried like a tourist through an alien plane of wonders and fascinations that he could not touch.

He watched as Adam fell back from the group, realizing in the same moment that he had as well, somewhere along the line. More so than the usual space he made to avoid thwapping or tripping anyone with his big tail.

With the pleasantly uncertain surprise of suddenly finding company within his bubble, Joseph said, "Hey Adam."

Edited by Ryuhza on Sep 23rd 2019 at 3:07:39 AM

Having to repress what I'm feeling
Sep 24th 2019 at 5:35:40 AM

Town Square ~ Notice Board (Maelys, Mist; Soryn; Jobe; Aseyu)

"So it sounds like it's just us," Aseyu said, eying Mist's spear thoughtfully. "Nice weapon. Every boar hunter in legend uses a spear. Though if it's a daeodon we're after," and she shuddered, clearly hoping it was not, "apparently you need anti-tank weapons for those. But I'm sure we'd have heard if that was the case." After confirming the location with Jobe, she said, "I'll catch up with you guys once I've changed out of," she indicated her expensive, delicate, and generally ill-suited silk dress, and started to head back to her hotel room.

Another character is free to intercept her on the way.

Edited by KillerClowns on Sep 24th 2019 at 6:53:10 AM

Sep 24th 2019 at 10:33:51 AM

Town Square, Billboard (Maelys, Mist; Soryn; Aseyu; Jobe Pearson; Mael; Ellya-Salaenl, Sarquoql alias Ren 4; Nora, Moobly)

Aseyu then spotted where Mist's attention had ended up and said, "Like what you see?"

She let that linger in the air, just long enough.

Then, as though she were completely oblivious to the implications of her previous sentence, Aseyu continued "the work of the best jeweler in Oriyith." Aseyu's deft fingers danced through the strands hanging from the necklace, letting the light catch the delicate chains and curious stones just so as she said, "though I would say that; she's my sister."

Soryn smiled in amusement at Aseyu's deliberate bait-and-switch, and approached to whisper for her ears only, "I see what you did there."

Seeing how fired up Mist suddenly was to hunt boar, Soryn got an idea and pulled his sturdiest length of chains out of his bag. If they were thick enough to hold him, they were thick enough to hold a boar. "On second thought, Jobe, do you have a convenient steep hill or sturdy roof overlooking your property? I may be too injured for the front lines, but I can send immobilizing chains to the boars from above."

Jobe answered, "I, uh... actually I have no idea if my barn roofs can hold you. Obviously you're long enough to get up there in the first place, but I have no idea how much you weigh."

The maid was standing beside the snake wizard, holding a finger to her chin as she observed his wounds. "Moufreta.. ambush? That does not sound like them at all; too intelligent for their abilities," she said.

Soryn explained, "It was mostly my fault. I was looking at a map and not paying attention to what was going on behind me. The gate guards saw them following me before I did."

Soryn saw the approaching humanoid dragon stop short and suddenly lunge to pull the Mayatan woman behind him, warning "Keep a safe distance everyone, somebody's got anti-magic up and running!"

Soryn glanced down at his mauled abs. "Oh, so that's why these bites and scratches suddenly started hurting again." He scooted backwards a little bit and asked, "Would you mind turning off that anti-magic? You're slowing down my healing."

Edited by Miss_Desperado on Sep 29th 2019 at 1:24:44 AM

WillDeRegio *stare* from Baltimore
*stare*
Sep 24th 2019 at 6:31:13 PM

Outside Hotel (Moobly, Nora; Mael; Ellya-Salaenel, Sarquoql alias Ren 4)

Moobly blinked. "So it is," she said, before shaking her head, causing her twin-tail analog head crests to sway from side to side. "Anyway, Moobly is pheba, of what the Arians call "cynthonics", since we come from their moon."

She then tilted her head, one eye narrowing. "Ren is a plant?" She sniffed a few times, before shaking her head, "No... Not a plant. But if you were cloned—"

Moobly was interrupted by Sarquoql's sudden actions. She drew one of her tonfas, and with a bit of will, brought forth a watery (faux) blade at the gem-studded end of her weapon. She held it up, expecting it to burble away to nothing— but it didn't. She gave a confused glance towards Sarquoql, expecting him to explain himself.


Town Square ~ Notice Board (Maelys, Mist; Soryn; Jobe; Aseyu)

Mist glanced towards Maelys, "Anti-tank?"

The undead maid shrugged and shook her head, before returning her attention back to Soryn.

"Well, my spear can take down wyverns— I've been told it could even pierce a dragon's hide. So... would this count?" Mist asked, gesturing towards her weapon.

Meanwhile, Maelys crossed her arms, inadvertently drawing attention to her bosom. "I suppose inattention could lead to that. Still... They shouldn't have caused those injuries... unless—" She inhaled sharply, "Did they have red crests?"

Their conversations were put on hold at the outcries of another nearby. Maelys touched a hand to her chest, while Mist glanced up at her spear. The magically reanimated corpse and the divine shieldmaiden proceeded to exchange looks. "What anti-magic?" they asked in unison.

Edited by WillDeRegio on Sep 26th 2019 at 3:56:19 PM

Thousand Origami Cranes progress: 214/1000
Pyxo This is my good side. from under a rock (No one would look there) Relationship Status: Yes, I'm alone, but I'm alone and free
This is my good side.
Sep 24th 2019 at 10:31:25 PM

Wasteland: The Scar

Sallara kept her hand steady as Varla pulled out her amethyst heart, and neared it to her bracelet. Small lightnings arced around the bracelet, which as it recharged, heated up almost immediately. Sallara pulled back her arm and jumped back, accidentally dropping the isopod, which she had been carrying. The lightning streaks extended past the bracelet she had offered, and over the bracelet on her other wrist, and her anklet on her foot. Then, just as sudden as it started, it stopped, the pearls cooling off until only they were slightly warmer than her skin.

Salara, still a little frightened, checked her pearls closer. They were charged again, although they were coloured a deep purple rather than the normal mana blue. "Hmm, didn't know that was possible." She commented to herself. A thought passed through her mind, and her hand went straight to her necklace. To her relief, it was untouched, only glowing softly.

"Thank you." She turned back to Varla. "I'm not one ot fight. Honestly, I don't really know how to. All I can do is..." She lifted a hand and spun a finger around. The moisture on the air gathered in a droplet that followed her finger's motion. It was the most she could do with such little source of water. "And as long as I have mana on these things. Otherwise, I'm useless." She let out a strong sigh. The storm, the elemental, and later Varla's state were because Sallara's captors were hounding her down.

"Anyways." The onden tried ot shake off her sudden bad mood, which worked halfways. "Yeah, we should get moving. It's setting really fast." She crouched down next to the isopod, offering a hand to carry it again.

East of Town

Nasur shrugged at David's rather sound reasoning. "Well, if nothing gets to the thief first, then they'll probably die of thirst or hunger. There's not much that way save for rocks and dust." He paused for a moment, before adding. "At least, I would prefer that or to be eaten in two bites by that," He briefly cokced his head towards the fleeing monster. "Than to be gnawed alive to the bone by ghouls."

He couldn't help but hear David talking to Claire. He sighed. "At least you chose that path. Others are thrust into it without a choice." He said softly, mostly to himself.

"Well, anyways. It's going to be hard if we follow on foot. Perhaps we could go back and use you 'truck'?" He changed the subject, speaking to David.

Sep 25th 2019 at 6:33:53 AM

Town Square ~ Notice Board (Maelys, Mist; Soryn; Jobe; Aseyu)

Aseyu stopped and looked between the humanoid dragon, Soryn, and Mist. "Interesting," she said. She looked over at Mist and Maelys and said, "those two must be really sensitive to that kind of thing?"

Explaining to Soryn, she said, "I'm surprised you can pick it up at all. You'd be out of range, even if I was trying. Or at least you should be. And Iveya taught me how to keep it hidden and passive until triggered by someone directly targeting me. So I wouldn't get attention like," she indicated the dragon-person with a glance, "well, that." With an apologetic grimace to Soryn she added, "this is as 'off' as it gets. You might as well ask me to turn off my immune system."

Then to Mist and Maelys, she added, "I hope this won't be a problem for you guys. And I don't have anything against mages, except, well..." she paused. Normally she'd just name-drop the Children of the Light and be done with it, but they wouldn't have that context. "It's a long story. Short version, my city had a problem with magic-using religious extremists about ten years back. My community wasn't sure the Empire would honor their obligations. So we took steps to protect ourselves." She looked between Mist, Maelys, and Soryn. "Any other questions? I'm not an expert, though, and don't get any ideas about poking me with needles."

Edited by KillerClowns on Sep 25th 2019 at 8:34:56 AM

Sep 25th 2019 at 2:21:55 PM

East of Town

Arnaya metabolized a drop of the archaeologist's blood, using her power to peek into the past. She telepathically broadcast to John Richman and the others, who were now on the other side of the butte, "I'm back. I found the thief's trail."

Then she noticed Adam slinking away and thought to herself, "This is it. Brainwash residue to blame or not, Adam is isolating himself and making it easier for Mael to reclaim him." Once more, Arnaya wrapped herself in the spinel energy her sister was siphoning and left a tangible illusion of herself behind on Zip's saddle. She leaped off and glided a short ways, landing to invisibly stalk after Adam, the boxed amethyst clenched in one fist.

Zip felt Arnaya's weight shift and lurch, so he turned his head, sniffed and snuffled. Arnaya had deliberately left her scent trail unsuppressed so that the dragonhorse could follow, but she warned him over the comm-chips not to do so just yet. She easily avoided Joseph in her prowling.


Ghost Town (Cynthia, Diantha; Arilay, Shale, Aynara; Mind-Controlled Bandit

"They're one of the most powerful countries on the mainland, huh?" Aynara continued probing, "The way you phrased it makes it sound like you're not part of the Balamar Empire, right? Are there any current wars or alliances that I should know about between the Balamar Empire and anyone else?"

Arilay was silently orchestrating parts of her spaceship. The Sick Bay AI was squawking with indignation and she had to remind it who was the administrator. The tractor beam twitched like a hand that couldn't scratch an inconvenient itch as it tracked Adam through Arnaya's defensive bubble.

Edited by Miss_Desperado on Oct 3rd 2019 at 10:06:15 AM

Masterofchaos litten!!!! from In The Void Relationship Status: In Lesbians with you
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Sep 25th 2019 at 3:38:42 PM

[Butte]

John nearly jumped when another voice entered his head, but relaxed when he recgonized who it was.

Arnaya! he thought, Jesus, you scared the hell out of me! ...Thanks for the heads up, though. We'll meet you there.

"Hey, guys?" he said, "Looks like we're heading in a different direction. I just got contacted by Arnaya, and our thief friend went on another path. Follow me."

Once again, he turned into a mist and left the butte.


[East of Town]

Adam's eyes widened in slight surprise when Joseph came to join him, but he didn't mind. Besides, he hadn't had time to finally catch up with him, and now that they were traveling together, that gave him the perfect chance.

"Joseph!" he said cheerfully, "H-Hey! Didn't expect you to see you over here. Don't you want to be surrounded by people who can keep you safe? I'm...not armed right now."

His self esteem took another nosedive, and he felt the tears in his eyes coming again, but quickly shook his head. "Ah, you don't need to hear me whine. You just wanted to check up on a old friend, huh?"

It was soon that a black mist appeared before the group, and soon, John had rematerialized, though he stumbled a bit.

"Uncle!" Nick said, "You're alright!"

"Of course I'm alright. I wasn't..." John took a look around, blinking several times at the now expanded group. Most of his attention went towards the dragonhorse that accompanied them. "...Uh, mind explaining what's going on?"

"We're hunting down Mael!" Amy said excitedly, "Arnaya said that if we triangulate the area, we'll most likely catch him! We even figured we'll help find your thief too! Isn't that cool?"

"I guess, but I'm pretty sure this will tip her off. And Mael." He sighed heavily, "But if Web of Friendship knows what they're doing, I won't complain too much. Just make sure none of you try to play hero, okay?"

Nick nodded, then looked back at Adam and Joseph. Don't worry, buddy. I'm not going let you be unarmed for long. Trust me.

Jackson looked at the ground, then put a hand on Marie's shoulder. "No bugs. I think we're good, otherwise Arnaya would've let us know."

"Yeah, like how she let us know that she was taking Adam," Maya said, twirling her knife.

"Maya!" Amy whispered.

"Fine, fine, I'll let it go for now. I'm slowing warming up to her, but the keyword here is slowly. What I mostly care about now is getting Mael and stopping him before he gets anyone else."

Edited by Masterofchaos on Sep 25th 2019 at 11:40:31 AM

im gay
Ryuhza Spectral Season from San Diego County, California
Spectral Season
Sep 27th 2019 at 1:23:25 PM

East of Town - Mooring


Joseph tilted his head a bit, blinking confusedly as his faraway gaze found focus on Adam.

"Well... actually, I was already standing here." He paused, blinked again, then smiled pleasantly. "Maybe you got wrapped up in your head. It's okay. Happens to me too." Like right now. Like all the time.

He opened his mouth to say more, then hesitated, noticing a shimmer in Adam's eyes. Joseph glanced down at his own feet, dragging one toe in pattens across the dirt.

"Do I want to be surrounded by people who can keep me safe?" he repeated, pausing once more as he gave it a good second or two's thought. Then he stuck his teeth out, loosed a real phfhouh of a sigh, and shrugged. "Not really."

Again, he seemed about to elaborate, then glanced at his friend and thought better of it. He straightened up, brushed down his overshirt, and said, "Hey, if something's bothering you, I'm all ears." He cupped his hands to the sides of his head, "I know they're a little hard to spot, but they're there. And I'm here. Remember, I've got your back. That means, uh..." he shrugged once once more, and his long mouth tugged into a goofy smile, "well, it means you can whine away. I'm here."

Having to repress what I'm feeling
WillDeRegio *stare* from Baltimore
*stare*
Sep 28th 2019 at 3:46:05 PM

East of Town ~ Returning to the Trail (Claire; David, Joseph; Aynara; John, the Hunters; Nasur)

Claire nodded in agreement with David. "You're right. I'm not the same as when I started, but that's what happens when one decides to take on a life of adventure," she said to him.

She then shook her head, "She left the truck less than an hour ago, I'd say. If she keeled over from hunger, it'd be too soon. As for other critters out here..." she shrugged, "Barring you folks, that rock monster was the first noteworthy thing I've seen all day."

The witch-thief glanced up at the darkening sky, "Though, monsters are more active at night— we're burning twilight right now, so we should—"

"I'm back. I found the thief's trail."

"—get a move... on... Right," Claire crossed her arms for a moment, "right behind you," she said to John, before running after him.

It didn't take her long to join up with the others on the other side of the butte.

Her attention was immediately captured by the dragonhorse, Zip. Grinning at him, she slowly approached. "Y'all are back— and you brought a friend," she said, as she extended a hand towards the red-eyed black dragonhorse. To Zip himself, she said, cooing, "Well aren't you a beautiful little monster..."


Forest's Edge ~ Campsite (Bonnie, Carol, Lily; Henry, Joseph; Mequoql, Morpho, Seenarnha)

Lily nodded at the information Seenarnha provided her. "I suppose these could find niche use where I'm from; not many have innate traits like those, and those that do, only have one. Though..." She stroked her chin, "I wonder how these would react to magic."

Bonnie approached Henry, "Those gems are frequently used by those kids. If you used them, Mael might come to the conclusion that you're an associate of theirs. He'd take you as a hostage to use as bait," she told him, "At least, that's what I'm getting from this."

She sighed, shaking her head, "Ugh, this Mael fellow is way too paranoia-inducing. And here, I thought he was a nice guy when I first ran into him..." She shivered.

Edited by WillDeRegio on Sep 28th 2019 at 7:21:53 AM

Thousand Origami Cranes progress: 214/1000
Ryuhza Spectral Season from San Diego County, California
Spectral Season
Oct 2nd 2019 at 11:52:05 PM

East of Town, Beyond the Butte —> Back to The Butte - Tumbleweeds


Ignoring Nasur's quiet interjection, David stepped closer to Claire, making like he was investigating the dirt for prints or other evidence of a trail.

"Oh the adventurer's lot. Don't I know it." He smiled and sighed at once, crouching slightly to stir the sand with a finger. "But through all the hardness, the... rodomontade, the excitement— and it is exciting, this life. ...Through all that at its hectic, energetic, propulsive pace, I find it's important to rememb-"


I'm back. I found the thief's trail.


David's claw dragged back through the sand as it returned to a tight fist. Two short statements and he could already sense the complete shift of attention. He rose to a stand and sent John a pointed smile as the man delivered the news a second time.

"Yyyyep, we got it loud and clear, John."


A moment later, he and Claire had zipped off, eager as ever to be on their way. David remained behind, bowing his head and grabbing his ears and squeezing, arms trembling. It went on for five seconds before he let up, brushed them back, dusted his shirt off, and began the march back.

"Afraid my truck is off the table for the time being," he said to Nasur, as though nothing had just occurred. "The crew upstairs had it transported back to town. I suppose I could ask for it back, but then I'd look like a real jackass, wouldn't I?"

He stalked in tense silence for several more seconds before glancing back over his shoulder.

"Funny thing about choices, Nasur. You often don't recognize them until long after they've been made. And the consequences? Not a chance. Take this- this- this particular excursion, for example. It seemed sensible enough. Track down my wayward thief, meet new people, maybe find a real sense of camaraderie in there somewhere, you know, make a connection." He turned his eyes forward, shaking his head, scoffing, hissing out steam. "Yeah. Sensible. Sensible enough that the choice was not evident. But of course, little did I know that we'd be risking our lives in a fantastic fucking waste of time. Awwwr... ghhh... that's just life, ain't it?"

Having to repress what I'm feeling
WillDeRegio *stare* from Baltimore
*stare*
Oct 3rd 2019 at 6:02:00 PM

Sun-Dry Sea (Pilot 0037, Novia; Moquoql)

Novia nodded slowly on Moquoql's lap. "This is nothing. I am fine now," she told her, before laying her head against Moquoql's shoulder the best she could, soothed by the Mayatan's purr-humming.

Meanwhile, the boy was fascinated by the automatic harness; the Empire had nothing like this.

They were soon making their way out of the lanceros' territory.

Edited by WillDeRegio on Oct 3rd 2019 at 9:02:13 AM

Thousand Origami Cranes progress: 214/1000
Oct 3rd 2019 at 9:47:27 PM

Sun-Dry Sea (Pilot 0037, Novia; Moquoql) -> Southwest

Moquoql breathed a sigh of relief as more distance was crossed without a lanceros attack. Suddenly, the medical pod in the center of the space scooted out of the way, moving to the bench opposite the boy, and a second medical pod was teleported inside. Ah, that's what her oldest sister had given her a heads-up for.

Without even looking over her shoulder, Moquoql casually warned, "Don't open that, there's a mind-controlled bandit inside, and the Web of Friendship has plans to track down the controller."

Edited by Miss_Desperado on Oct 3rd 2019 at 9:49:21 AM

Pyxo This is my good side. from under a rock (No one would look there) Relationship Status: Yes, I'm alone, but I'm alone and free
This is my good side.
Oct 3rd 2019 at 10:44:05 PM

East of Town

I'm back. I found the thief's trail.

The sudden voice in his head startled Nasur. With all the stuff that had happened in such short succession, he head forgotten about that ability. The others had heard it as well, John and Claire went on ahead.

Nasur instead listened to David's words. You often don't recognize them until long after they've been made. Had Nasur had a choice in his situation? It certainly wasn't hisidea that everyone turned on him and exiled him from Nocturna, but maybe he could have done things differently? Made sure no one had him in their sights when it came to societal climbing? If he had been more cautious, perhaps he could still be at home, enjoying his life, instead of being half-starved and fearing for his life in the surface.

"Yeah... I suppose that's just life." He replied dejecedly.

Trying to get his mind out of this situation, he followed the others around the butte. It took him some more time due to the size of the rock, but he eventually reached where the group they had left behind were now reunited, not far away from the contraption he had to leave behind. And a new wild creature in tow. "That... doesn't eat meat. Right?" Nasur tentatively asked, eyeing the animal carefully.

Ryuhza Spectral Season from San Diego County, California
Spectral Season
Oct 6th 2019 at 12:30:04 PM

Forest, Edge - Blown Out


"Does it still toast? Does it still flush? Does it drive? If the basic function is intact and I'm in some seriously critical need, then the answer is yeah.""

Henry closed his eyes and pressed a hand against them, shielding the feverishness within as it, like the gemstone, began to cool. His frown twisted and tightened, baring a jaw clenched before it too was sealed away.

"You know what, though? Whatever. I'm so sick of arguing. Just get to doing whatever it is you're going to do." He dropped the hand from his face, "but if it doesn't work, or make this thing a hundred and ten percent fail-safe, I'm not waiting any longer." He glanced at Bonnie, "I'll club Mael in the head if I have to. I'm going home."


Arku stared through Joseph's eyes, through the monitor of his prison, into Seenarnha's own eyes. With each word spoken, Joseph's face grew heavier and heavier, until it fell beyond anything Joseph could manage even at his dreariest. Finally, when she had finished, his head dropped into a deep bow, falling against the front wall of the pod as Arku propped up the rest of his body with his hands.

"Paper... paper- a paper boat, amidst these savage waters. The dogmatic erasure of my only existence, reduced to a word. You won't help me. The current will do with me as it wills. I trust it to carry me onward." He fell back, head lifted and eyes raised to the ceiling. "Perhaps I should thank you for not tying rocks to my feet. For not gutting me. No, no, this taste of nobility has hurt enough. I can stand it no more."

He closed Joseph's eyes for a few seconds. Then Joseph collapsed, falling forward into the pod's front wall and sliding down to his knees, mouth ajar. His eyes were still mostly closed, but the lids twitched, and the eyes beneath were no less active.


Rootland, Forest - Direction


The woods in Joseph's mind reformed, leafless branches and roots without soil winding out into existence amid the amorphous, pearl-pocked tissue of its landscape.

The slender, billowing shape of Arku descended from outside, sidewinding down to the ground while another shape coalesced from out of the foggy depths. This shape shimmered, finding itself lost among focuses. Occasionally it looked quite a bit like the human Joseph standing in the pod out in reality. More often it was distorted, too long in some ways, too short in others. Incomplete or overcomplete, and most of all unsettled.

The eyes were always there, in one shape or another, regarding the form of Arku with fear, with interest, with excitement, with anger.

"I'm leaving, Joseph. I am leaving you to yourself, and to your friends, whatever a pit that may be. I don't know why the Will of the World brought us to this moment. Perhaps I acted too soon, possessed by my own eagerness. Perhaps the path ahead is longer and more winding than I foresaw. We may meet again, if it is willed."

I don't even... was I falling, or was that a dream?

"You fell. And you lived. You acted against your own fear, and survived. I am sorry for placing you in such peril."

You what?

"And I have been dishonest with you. Mequoql is not your enemy. You needn't fear her. But she will do you little good. A cart on tracks is bound to a constructed fate."

A cart on tracks? You're not making any sense, even for a cloud.

"You are the cart, with a job served by uncountable others like you, with wheels that will never fully fit. Spend all of your energy holding fast to those tracks, straining to find equilibrium, as others will insist you do. Or spend that energy rending yourself free."

So like a minecart? Uh, I'm pretty sure those don't just move by themselves.

"But you know my meaning."

I don't even know who you are.

"I am Arku. Still. The details are gilt. The meaning will be enough for your mind when you awake. And I will leave you with a parting gift. My impression, and a choice all your own. They are unlike to let you keep it, but if you desire, look to the light on the edge of the valley."

Arku's smokey shape gestured into the forest, where the trees blew over and the ground collapsed into a steep and vast gulf, giving way to the valley view from the mountaintop he'd visited before. This time, the light trickling over the horizon glistened with a multicolor, pearlescent sheen.

"Or else, wake up."

Like water bursting through a dam, the light overtook the hills before the horizon, surging forth at an uncanny, inescapable speed.

"Goodbye, Joseph."

Having to repress what I'm feeling
apocalemur Strepsirrhine of DOOM! from Right here Relationship Status: Seeking boyfriend-free girl
Strepsirrhine of DOOM!
Oct 6th 2019 at 2:11:59 PM

Larger River (Ozurr; Rosalind; Morag)

"Stranger approachin' from upwind," Rosalind suddenly announced. Ozurr's fingers played along the haft of his axe, but he said nothing.

"Oi! Ah heard shootin', ur ye alrecht?"

The accent made the hair on the back of Ozurr's neck stand up. Coupled with Rosalind's sudden dash to hide behind him, and there was only one place his mind could go.

"Nuckelavee," he hissed, spinning in the direction of the voice and raising his axe. He didn't see a Nuckelavee, though. He inhaled...he didn't smell a Nuckelavee either...

His instinct (or possibly his latent Third Eye) drew his gaze to the newcomer. She appeared to be human, for what Ozurr knew of humans. Oddly dressed and armed to the teeth, but definitely not a Nuckelavee.

"Excuse me, ma'am," Ozurr called to her, relaxing his posture somewhat. He crouched down and held his hand a few feet off the ground. "Have you see a woman, about this tall, grey skin, holding a crossbow, around here?"

Tidesson Son of the staves of time
Oct 6th 2019 at 4:09:39 PM

Wasteland, The Scar (Lerna, Nerea, Cuddles; Varla; Sallara)

Varla set her heart in her lap and set the first aid kit beside it. As she opened the box, she corrected, "I'm not worried about her capacity, I'm worried about dooming the rest of us if she succumbs to the side effects." She found an empty test tube in the supplemental compartment. "This black tar is not just magic, it is my frustration given physical form." She dripped the black tar into the test tube. "I had to vent it to stop myself from indiscriminately rampaging and mauling anyone and everyone who gets in between me and Sallara's hunters no matter how accidentally. Anyone who absorbs this will suffer the same impulse to maim and kill. Anyone who absorbs too much of this will succumb to the same impulse." Varla corked the full test tube. "If my former captors knew how much of a success their alterations to me were — if they knew how many suicide bombers they could motivate with this batch of physical emotion alone — they would try even harder to recapture me."

She extended her hand palm-up with three small smears still on her fingertips. "Three drops. One for each of you. Enough to let you know how I feel if words alone don't paint the picture, but not enough to affect your judgement. Your choice." Her other hand clutched her amethyst heart and her literally bottled emotion possessively.

A heads-up warning came in over Varla's communication microchip and she silently replied to Maequoql, "Don't send a mind-controlled bandit down to me now, I'm about to come up with company!" She hesitated, giving Cuddles time to hitch a ride.

Oct 7th 2019 at 9:41:05 AM

East of Town (Arnaya, Zip; Joseph; John, the Hunters; Claire; Nasur)

John had quickly arrived, followed closely by Claire, who cooed at Zip, and then Nasur. Zip snuffled into her hand and pressed his soft nose into it. Evidently David was lagging behind. Joseph was talking with Adam, distracting him from slinking off.

"That... doesn't eat meat. Right?" Nasur tentatively asked, eyeing the animal carefully.

Arnaya smirked, but it didn't reflect on her illusion's face. "Yes he does eat meat, he shared a moufreta carcass with his herd earlier today."

Still with his nose pushed into Claire's hand, Zip yawned and stretched his wings, showing the prominent canines next to his horsey incisors and his forked tongue, blue like the chow-chow dogs.

While Amy briefed John, Arnaya telepathically supplemented with her own heads-up privately to John. "We found spinel and amethyst injected into Adam and got them out, but your nephew refused to let us check Adam for brainwash residue afterwards. Adam was reluctant, too, citing claustrophobia. That's a typical trick of Sarquoql, he likes to afflict his mind-control victims with claustrophobia in an attempt to guilt us into letting them out of the medical pods against protocol. I wouldn't be surprised if Mael does the same thing. With those clues, I had no choice but to build my plan around the just in case scenario that Mael can reactivate his mind-control on Adam any time he chooses. I already saw the effects of the amethyst."

Arnaya scanned Nasur's recent memories of fighting the monster and realized a field lesson was sorely needed. She might as well do it while waiting for David to catch up, that way she wouldn't have to display the thief's movements with Mequoql and the archaeologist's copied powers twice. Arnaya took a dozen steps away from Adam and towards Nasur before she dispelled her illusion and stealth.

"Nasur, there's something you need to know about guns. They are machines designed to send bullets out the barrel regardless of what's in front of the barrel. They can't read your intent like magic can." She telekinetically summoned Mulligan's gun, pointing it down at the nearest soft, evidence-free patch of dirt. "So you need to pay attention to what's in between you and your target." She steadied the gun with one hand and her telekinesis. "If you're aiming at something and your buddy accidentally gets in between you and your target..." She stretched her free arm so that her gliding membrane was in front of the gun's muzzle, only then at the last second did she disengage the safety.

KABLAM!

She put the safety back on with a fanged grimace of pain, put the gun down and showed Nasur the dark blue blood now flowing out of the hole in her gliding membrane as she continued, "...then you'll end up having to find a way to somehow live with the guilt of accidentally punching a hole through your friend and all the negative medical consequences thereof. Let this painful demonstration be a lesson that guns cannot be casually waved around like you've done with your magic focus."

Edited by Miss_Desperado on Oct 10th 2019 at 6:32:55 AM

Masterofchaos litten!!!! from In The Void Relationship Status: In Lesbians with you
litten!!!!
Oct 7th 2019 at 1:03:36 PM

[Wasteland]

Adam smiled. "Thank you. I'm sorry, it's just been a hectic day. I mean, there is just so much we dealt with today and I'm kind of at my limit. Now I got something wrong with me and I have to be looked over...that's the last thing I want! It makes me feel like I'm slowing everyone down."

His eyes then widened, and something he just now thought about came into his head. It made him feel awful, since he and his friends helped him out earlier, but he has been so caught up with stopping their main threat he was put on the back burner until now. "This might be a bit of a dumb question, but...do you know a guy named Henry?"

John, meanwhile, got Arnaya's heads up and sighed. Nick...he and Adam are really close, and he promised to protect him, no matter what. So he's going to be a bit hesitant. He smiled softly, Reminds me of James and I. Just one quick thing, Adam has always been claustrophobic. Also, who's Sarquoql? I'm a bit out of the loop.

KABLAM!

Everyone jumped at the sound.

"What the fuck?" Nick asked, getting into a fighting position, "Are we under attack? Again? How many times do we—" He then noticed Arnaya and Nasur, and he finally figured out what happened. "Oh."

"Oh no!" Amy said, running to her, "You're hurt!" She hugged Arnaya gently and initiated her healing magic, the moonstones glowing softly. Once she was sure she got her wounds healed up, she pulled away. "You have to be careful! If you get hurt super badly I'm not sure if I'll be able to heal you!"


[Board]

Mael's demanor was, once again, stoic....until the mention of anti-magic came up. Now he turned to attention to Soryn and Sarquoql, his eyes slightly widened.

"Anti magic?" he asked, trying to keep the worry out of his voice, "What...does it mean what I think it means? I'm sorry, this is new to me."

That part was true, but what he didn't want to mention that he was begging that it did not mess with his amethyst, or it run the risk of derailing his plan with WOF and freeing Melissa and anyone else he controlled along the way. He didn't need this. He did not need a setback that huge. He could only hope Sarquoql or someone could explain what it all meant.

Edited by Masterofchaos on Oct 10th 2019 at 10:07:15 AM

im gay
WillDeRegio *stare* from Baltimore
*stare*
Oct 8th 2019 at 5:05:26 PM

Sun-Dry Sea (Pilot 0037, Novia; Moquoql)

Any curiosity the boy had was instantly snuffed out by Moquoql's statement. "OK," the boy said, nodding. Crossing his arms, he instead looked towards the pilot's seat, watching the pilot and Novia.


Ghost Town (Cynthia, Diantha; Arilay, Aynara, Shale; Mind-Controlled Bandit)

Cynthia shook her head, "The kingdom of Cadia is its own sovereign nation."

Diantha frowned, "It seems there is always a small war going on somewhere. But none involving the Balamar Empire right now. As for allies, I'm not particularly keen on the politics of it all, but I don't think they have any major allies nearby."

"They do have alliances with some small nations in the Dytia and Anatolia regions, in addition to backing certain Shugolese warlords, and claiming territory in the Abyssal region," she continued.


Large River (Morag; Rosalind; Ozurr)

Morag cringed. She had startled the woman and put the frost giant on edge. Raising her other hand, she said, "Ah didnae mean tae startle ye."

With the relaxing of the frost giant's guard, so too did the catkin. Lowering her hands, she slowly raised one to scratch her cheek as she closed her eyes. "Ah cannae say that a've seen one aroond 'ere. Thare was a grayish lassie back in toun, but she didnae hae a crossbow," she said, recalling the maid she had seen in town earlier. She tilted her head, "Does that help?"

Edited by WillDeRegio on Oct 8th 2019 at 8:07:35 AM

Thousand Origami Cranes progress: 214/1000
Oct 10th 2019 at 8:11:04 PM

Outside Hotel (Mael; Ellya-Salaenl, Sarquoql alias Ren 4; Nora, Moobly) -> Billboard

Pheba or cynthonic... Sarquoql didn't recognize that draconic variant, but there were so many different kinds of dragons, he wasn't surprised that he didn't recognize it.

She then tilted her head, one eye narrowing.

"Ren is a plant?" She sniffed a few times, before shaking her head, "No... Not a plant. But if you were cloned—"

Evidently Moobly hadn't heard of genetic vats. Considering how difficult they were to access, Sarquoql wasn't surprised.

Town Square, Billboard (Maelys, Mist; Soryn; Aseyu; Jobe Pearson; Mael; Ellya-Salaenl, Sarquoql alias Ren 4; Nora, Moobly)

Meanwhile, Maelys crossed her arms, inadvertently drawing attention to her bosom. "I suppose inattention could lead to that. Still... They shouldn't have caused those injuries... unless—" She inhaled sharply, "Did they have red crests?"

Soryn glanced at Maelys's arms, his gaze drawn by their movement. But his genetic engineers had seen to it that he wouldn't get stuck staring at any one body part for long. He was a man of action, not a spectator. He had to be — those who stared with lust without taking action (evasive or otherwise) got maimed or slaughtered by Varla.

One look at Maelys's analytical face and its lack of coyness told Soryn that she wasn't drawing attention to her chest on purpose. He shrugged, "I didn't think to look, I was more focused on looking for opportunities to impale them through their eyes. Why do you ask, are red crests important?"

Moobly was interrupted by Sarquoql's sudden actions. She drew one of her tonfas, and with a bit of will, brought forth a watery (faux) blade at the gem-studded end of her weapon. She held it up, expecting it to burble away to nothing— but it didn't. She gave a confused glance towards Sarquoql, expecting him to explain himself.

Soryn noticed the other dragon was evidently confused by the humanoid dragon's sudden warning.

Maelys touched a hand to her chest, while Mist glanced up at her spear. The magically reanimated corpse and the divine shieldmaiden proceeded to exchange looks. "What anti-magic?" they asked in unison.

Now contemplative, Soryn glanced back and forth between the shorter dragon's water blade, his own bag, and the great big honkin' heavy chains in his hand.

Mael's demanor was, once again, stoic....until the mention of anti-magic came up. Now he turned to attention to Soryn and Sarquoql, his eyes slightly widened.

"Anti magic?" he asked, trying to keep the worry out of his voice, "What...does it mean what I think it means? I'm sorry, this is new to me."

That part was true, but what he didn't want to mention that he was begging that it did not mess with his amethyst, or it run the risk of derailing his plan with WOF and freeing Melissa and anyone else he controlled along the way. He didn't need this. He did not need a setback that huge. He could only hope Sarquoql or someone could explain what it all meant.

Sarquoql sighed, "Yes, anti-magic. Does exactly what it says on the tin."

Aseyu stopped and looked between the humanoid dragon, Soryn, and Mist. "Interesting," she said. She looked over at Mist and Maelys and said, "those two must be really sensitive to that kind of thing?"

Sarquoql grumbled, "More like the rest of you are oblivious. In what universe is anti-magic anything but blatant?"

Explaining to Soryn, she said, "I'm surprised you can pick it up at all. You'd be out of range, even if I was trying. Or at least you should be. And Iveya taught me how to keep it hidden and passive until triggered by someone directly targeting me. So I wouldn't get attention like," she indicated the dragon-person with a glance, "well, that."

Sarquoql criticized, "Iveya didn't do a very good job hiding your anti-magic." He tried to soften his words by adding, "I doubt anyone can hide anti-magic."

With an apologetic grimace to Soryn she added, "this is as 'off' as it gets. You might as well ask me to turn off my immune system."

Soryn experimentally opened his bag. There wasn't a literal refreshing breeze, but the equivalent sensation of one told him that his Bag of Holding was pulling in magic from its dimensional twist and overflowing some nenro to him to compensate for the anti-magic. "I think I'll be okay," he smiled at Aseyu.

Ellya-Salaenl came out from behind her bodyguard and added, "I think it's weak enough to where I can work around it."

Sarquoql added, "I won't like it one bit, but if it's that weak, then I think I can put up with it too." The first reason his heart had started pounding was alarm at the possibility of his disguise and/or his mind control failing. His heart was still pounding, but the reason had changed. His body was working harder to pull in extra nenro for his reserves just in case. Sarquoql got an idea, but since the woman was neither freaking out at the sight of Soryn and other obviously inhuman beings, nor loudly trying to delude herself that she was dreaming, he just as quickly dismissed it.

Then to Mist and Maelys, she added, "I hope this won't be a problem for you guys. And I don't have anything against mages, except, well..." she paused. Normally she'd just name-drop the Children of the Light and be done with it, but they wouldn't have that context. "It's a long story. Short version, my city had a problem with magic-using religious extremists about ten years back. My community wasn't sure the Empire would honor their obligations. So we took steps to protect ourselves." She looked between Mist, Maelys, and Soryn. "Any other questions? I'm not an expert, though, and don't get any ideas about poking me with needles."

Soryn mused, "Magic-using religious extremists... I've never heard of them. I have heard about the opposite — anti-magic-using atheist extremists — but last I knew, they were confined to a single planet in a different galaxy."

Sarquoql recognized what Soryn was talking about and just had to interject, "It's not just atheists among the extremists — the self-designated 'normal people' — the other anti-magic factions are extremists from various religions."

Ellya-Salaenl raised an eyebrow at him. "How did you find that out? My community doesn't know much about that planet because hardly anyone wants to go there."

Sarquoql grimaced, "I found out via some very unpleasant involuntary visits to their planet that left me physically ill. Thank the Maker their toxic world view hasn't spread beyond their species or their planet. Why the Maker continues to allow their existence is beyond me." note 

Ellya-Salaenl commented, "That makes sense... I think... I guess being a mercenary gets you into jams like that from time to time..." Sarquoql had to use his mind-control to steer her attention away from wondering how.

Soryn tilted his head in deja vu at the spacesuit-wearing dragon. There was something very familiar about the dragon's stance, his voice cadence, and his choice of words.

Aseyu contemplated Mist's spear. "Nice weapon. Every boar hunter in legend uses a spear. Though if it's a daeodon we're after," and she shuddered, clearly hoping it was not, "apparently you need anti-tank weapons for those. But I'm sure we'd have heard if that was the case."

Jobe scratched his head. "I don't know what a 'daeodon' is. The two boars bugging me are pigplants."

Mist glanced towards Maelys, "Anti-tank?"

The undead maid shrugged and shook her head, before returning her attention back to Soryn.

"Well, my spear can take down wyverns— I've been told it could even pierce a dragon's hide. So... would this count?" Mist asked, gesturing towards her weapon.

Sarquoql grumbled, "With this talk of your spear piercing dragonhide, need I remind you that I'm a dragon and I'm Standing Right Here?" He gestured to the illusory green scales on his face.

Jobe Pearson jumped in, motivated both by his problem and a hope that he could distract the dragons from being offended. He interrupted, "Excuse me, as fascinating as this all is, what about those boars?"

Sarquoql nodded "Ah, yes, that's what we were on our way over here to inquire about."

Jobe raised a querying eyebrow. "How did you know about that from all the way over there?" He pointed to the hotel.

"Telepath," Ellya-Salaenl answered, tapping the side of her head.

"Oh, that makes sense." Jobe nodded. "Was my frustration that obvious?"

"Yes," Ellya-Salaenl confirmed.


Rainforest, Drop Pod (Murquoql, Lectri)

Prompted by Murquoql's question, Lectri turned to face the general direction of where Swanwhite had split from the group, and whinnied loudly. Swanwhite's distant bugle was barely heard, but it was followed by gunshots.

Murquoql tuned in to Swanwhite's communication microchip. Swanwhite was OK, she was playing Roger Dodge-em in the fog while figuring out how to rescue a humanoid lamprey from a human who smelled like drugs and alcohol. And it was a sad state of affairs that the only rare part of that sentence was the phrase "humanoid lamprey".


Larger River (Ozurr; Rosalind; Morag)

Rosalind peeked out from behind Ozurr's boots. She'd seen illustrations of nuckelavees, and whoever that stranger was, that was no nuckelavee.

Ozurr described Varg and asked if the stranger had seen her. The stranger replied, "Ah cannae say that a've seen one aroond 'ere. Thare was a grayish lassie back in toun, but she didnae hae a crossbow," she said, recalling the maid she had seen in town earlier. She tilted her head, "Does that help?"

Rosalind considered this information. Unless the stranger had abruptly teleported from the town to here within the last five or ten minutes, the stranger had seen the "grayish lassie" way too long ago for that grayish lassie to be Varg. Carefully suppressing her Texas drawl, Rosalind asked a follow-up question, "She... she went missing, as did a handsome wizard, just a few minutes ago. How long ago did you see, um...?"


The Ridge -> South (Mustang herd, Whisper, Skvader)

Finally, there was a small waterfall just big enough to turn the babbling brook into a substantial stream. The grass was now wet and tender instead of tough and dry. The horses eagerly fell to eating, slowing their previously purposeful pace. But they didn't quite stop. They still had to put more distance between them and the last places they'd seen Sabertooth Airbeasts. Slow progress was better than no progress, so they grazed their way downstream.


Edge of the Sun-Dry Sea (Pilot 0037, Novia; Moquoql)

Any curiosity the boy had was instantly snuffed out by Moquoql's statement. "OK," the boy said, nodding. Crossing his arms, he instead looked towards the pilot's seat, watching the pilot and Novia.

Moquoql checked the GPS and landed a short distance away from where the land dropped down into a narrow ocean channel. The dropship's tractor beam set down the Panzerfaust wreckage and Moquoql said, "All right, now that we're out of Lanceros territory, I can finally start manufacturing parts for the Panzerfaust." The door opened and the harnesses released.


Ghost Town (Cynthia, Diantha; Arilay, Shale, Aynara; Mind-Controlled Bandit)

Aynara listened and nodded, then said, "The Web of Friendship has a bone to pick with the Balamar Empire regarding their treatment of child soldiers, so I'd appreciate it if you not hinder what I'm about to do to Haydn and Wilhelmine. Don't worry, they'll live." Her preemptive reassurance was undermined by her Slasher Smile as she added, "They're more fun alive."

Edited by Miss_Desperado on Oct 10th 2019 at 8:16:36 AM


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