No Time for Arguing! Head for the Showdown! (2Gen, Invite)

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Nakibe
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Unread postby Nakibe » Mon Jun 23, 2008 11:10 pm

Frowning in thought, Solis looked over at Zea. She seemed so weak... her father was probably right about it not being safe for her to take on Micheal's spirit. Who knew what would happen to her then? ...wait....

The young man suddenly grabs at his pack of tarot cards and lays them out on the ground. "What are the odds that someone in town would be able to handle this problem at all? Its possible they won't be able to help us either." Seperating out the cards most had already seen him use, he brought out only the highest-end cards of the tarot. The blue sphere covering The World was prominently in view, not too far from the Death card as well as a few others.

"... I was hoping someone else could figure something out, but.... I don't think they will. I'm going to have to use one of these." He just hoped that he'd choose the right one...

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Unread postby Besyanteo » Mon Jun 23, 2008 11:15 pm

Zea was resting, by... him, sort of. Zeke was talking. Cerene was still looking sort of indignant about the whole killing Ahearn thing... None of that really mattered a lot right now. What mattered was that Solis had brought out that crazy card deck again. That thing was starting to worry Michael. He got an ominous feeling whenever it was brought out into the light.

"What's going on now? What's Solis up to?"

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Kelne
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Unread postby Kelne » Tue Jun 24, 2008 6:29 am

Cerene was taking the responsibility of guarding Ahearn very seriously. Between her and the cat, there would be a swift response indeed if he tried anything. She was giving serious thought to breaking out something she'd never thought she'd actually use, and she would if he tried anything, but for now, he just didn't seem to be in a troublesome frame of mind.

She did cast a glance in the direction of the cards when Solis brought them out. From his tone of voice, they were very much a last resort, but it seemed a time for last resorts, and she certainly wasn't going to argue.

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Unread postby Nakibe » Tue Jun 24, 2008 9:01 pm

"I'm just gonna see what I can do with these things, Michael. Perhaps I can help you." Really, it was hard to keep the worry out of his voice, but Solis had to try anyway. After all, Michael was hardly in a position to worry about him, so letting him do so wouldn't exactly be fair. Still...

The World card? No, too risky. The last recorded use of it he could find ended up summoning one of the Gods directly to the area. Not safe for anyone involved.

The Star? No. Likely as not that would work better for prophecy than actual certainty, and he wanted to be certain that Michael would be alright...

Taking a deep breath, he realized that only one card would do. It WOULD have to be that one, wouldn't it? He puts away the others, leaving a single card sitting in front of him, its skeletal reaper figure grinning, almost as if hiding secrets from them all.

"In Your name things improve and flourish, Outside your name they wither and fade. In your power you help and guide us, though of your wrath we are afraid. Let these bonds of fate that bind us, that chain us here to future strife, be broken by your name and power, and show us how Death can create new life!"

With the final line, a feeling of something... twisting... could be felt, as if an upset stomach or something perhaps more sinister. Whatever has transpired, Solis looks alright for a moment... then seems to fall over, utterly exhausted by the effort. A few streaks of blood can be seen as, perhaps, the older mage has managed to mana burn himself in the process of this casting. "Did.... *puff pant* it work?"

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Unread postby Besyanteo » Tue Jun 24, 2008 9:34 pm

The feeling of wrongness intensified as the blue glowing stripe floated off of Solis's amulet, and once again hung in the air. It approached Michael's body, and hovered there a moment. The soft clinking of chains approached the site of the ruined house, the feeling in the pit of everyone's stomach reaching a crescendo as it drew closer.

What stepped out of the woods was simple, but somehow tremendous and horrifying all the same. A nine foot tall skeleton, loosely wrapped in black and white cloth, trailing loose chains that seemed to trail on forever behind him. He carried in the right hand an impossibly large set of shears, and in the right a loosely woven fabric, the threads so wide apart that Zeke could have fit his hand through a few loops of it, if he dared. Zea did not know this figure; He did not work for Reshtaha.

It silently regarded them all for a long moment, before raising the shears, and with surprising deftness it snipped a single white thread from the great board it carried. That thread faded to dust, and a dozen more fell out in response, quickly falling apart int he same way. A dozen new threads sprang into being and wove themselves into the fabric, replacing the old and changing the pattern. At the same time, the blue glow entered Michael's body.

Whether by or against their will, everyone blinked at that moment. The figure was gone, and Michael had been replaced by a three and a half foot tall Kobold, wearing smaller versions of Michael's previous outfit. The spiral ran over all his limbs now, as well as framing his eyes, going down the sides of his face in two long lines before spiralling down his neck.

He sat up, and examined his brand new scaled orange hands in confusion... What on Gaera had just happened?

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Unread postby Kelne » Fri Jun 27, 2008 8:45 pm

"Well, that's different," Cerene said, "Beats being dead, I'm sure, but it'll probably take a bit of getting used to."

As far as she was concerned, it definitely beat Michael being dead. But the fact that the blue runic stuff was now covering his entire body was not reassuring in the least. Living with the spectre of death perpetually hovering over your head could not be fun.

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Unread postby Nakibe » Sun Jun 29, 2008 4:45 pm

In an oddly detatched way, Solis noted that his eyesight was getting kind of fuzzy. Could that just be tiredness, or the sign that he'd actually killed himself with mana burn? He felt that the thought should frighten him... but right now? It didn't. All that mattered was the vague orange-and-bluish hazy figure that stood before him, with the sense that clearly his spell HAD worked. "Good.... Good..." fell out of his mouth before he fell over, unable to keep himself awake due to the strain.

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Unread postby Besyanteo » Wed Jul 09, 2008 9:51 pm

Michael continued to stare at his hands. He was... scaly. And the ground was much, much closer than before. He'd need a mirror and possibly some time alone to discover to full extent of the change, but for now it was enough that he was suddenly reptilian to start him freaking out a little.

Cerene was saying something, but he could hardly pay attention right now. Maybe Solis could fix this! He'd brought him 'back', and all! Yes, he'd ask- Oh. Solis fainted.

"... Fuck."

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Unread postby Kelne » Tue Jul 15, 2008 8:37 pm

"Well, hell," Cerene remarked, moving to check on Solis. He seemed okay, just utterly exhausted. She herself wanted nothing more than to find a comfortable spot and get some sleep, but that just wasn't an option. She settled for fishing a blanket out of her pack and draping it over Solis.

"I think we ought to get some proper rest," she said, "I'll keep watch. I'm not too #munted# at least." It was going to be a long night, but she'd gotten a bit of sleep earlier, even if nowhere near enough. Still, the others needed sleep more.

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Unread postby Archmage » Tue Jul 22, 2008 12:11 am

Zeke raised an eyebrow. He figured that someone should, seeing as how everyone else in the group apparently thought that while Michael's "resurrection" was weird, no one was really reacting to the fact that it was weird.

"You want to go to sleep? What about the fact that as far as I can tell your buddy's just somehow died and been reincarnated as a kobold?" The mercenary glanced over at Zea. "Don't tell me that you think this is completely normal, at least, not to the point where you're just going to go 'oh, look, Michael's different now!' and run off to boil water for tea."

He was kneeling next to Solis now, checking for a pulse. He was apparently breathing. He'd just overexerted himself. Silly mages.

"I'll take second watch, then. Zea, let's move Solis somewhere more comfortable. And what the hell are we going to do with that Ahern bastard? My vote's that we slit his fuckin' throat while we've got the chance. Saves us a lot of trouble."
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Unread postby Kai » Tue Jul 22, 2008 12:18 am

Zea rolled over onto her side, was momentarily distracted by how nice and cool the blades of grass were against her skin, and then remembered that more important things were going on. She hadn't really taken a good look at Michael yet, and now that it was pointed out to her, she focused her gaze on him.

"Wh--" She sighed. "Oh hell. I dunno."

She glanced over at Ahearn, who looked like he'd seen better days. He didn't look as bad as she and Solis--and Michael--all looked, and Zea rather resented it. This was all his fault, and he was sitting there with a minor head injury and what? He'd gone a little crazy. So what. That wasn't a punishment. Zea had gone crazy and it wasn't always permanent. Something better needed to be done, whatever the nice folk like Cerene might have to say.

"Oh right. Uh... him." She was already losing her focus again, and was becoming still worse as a conversation partner. She made a small, tired but contented noise and curled into the grass. "Mm. Y'shoul jus... shoot him or something, dad," she muttered semi-coherently. Sleep was really tempting right now, and if the edge of slumber felt this good Zea could only imagine that a real honest-to-goodness full night's sleep would be incomparable.

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Unread postby Kelne » Tue Jul 22, 2008 6:44 am

Cerene took a glance at Zeke and calculated Ahearn's odds of living through the night at somewhere near zero. Which wouldn't do at all. She throttled down that little voice in her head that said that maybe it would be for the best.

There was really only one thing she could do that would definitely take Ahearn out of play. Short, of course, of killing him. "I'll deal with it," she said, removing a small case from a pocket. Making very sure that nobody other than Ahearn was in her line of sight, she donned the glasses within and met his unfocused gaze. Within moments, she was looking into the eyes of a marble statue.

"There, problem solved," she said firmly, carefully returning the lenses to their case, "We can tell the locals where to find him, and they can restore him or not as they choose." And if they chose to smash the statue to pieces, he'd never feel it. It could be that was all the mercy she was ultimately capable of granting him.

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Unread postby Blackwind Isao » Thu Jul 24, 2008 1:29 pm

Meanwhile...

A frown crossed the face of Jesiah Black as he flipped the last card in his spread. It was the same as last time and now he had little choice but to accept the results, even if they made no sense to him. Muttering to himself he held up a card a studied the blue haired, violet eyed girl it portrayed. She wore black robes with a pattern he could only describe as climbing vines on it and leaned rather nonchalantly on a scythe. Zea Mazuo if he remembered her name correctly, the girl had accompanied him, albeit briefly, on his doomed expedition to that damnable Valley that had caused him so many problems over the last year and a half. Turning slightly, he regaurded the other baffling card. This one depicted a tall elven woman with shoulder length red hair. She wore a simple shirt and trousers and held a rapier in one hand. The rather odd thing about this card was that the woman was superimposed over the image of firey bird in flight. Cerene Sonelle also from that failed excursion. It always came back to that. No matter who he met or what he endured, for the last year and a half, everything always tied back to that damnable Valley.

Jessie dismissed the idea of overt scrying out of hand. If Zea and Cerene meant him no harm he'd have sacrificed a good deal of security for nothing. That and the fact that Jessie felt he owed the two of them. He'd put them through a great deal and had provided them with few, if any details on anything that in retrospect they probably had needed to know. Some of that hadn't been his idea but most of it had. If they were hostile he'd find out soon enough, for now he other, more pressing problems to worry about.

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Unread postby Archmage » Mon Aug 04, 2008 12:34 pm

Zeke blinked. If petrifying a guy was Cerene's idea of mercy it was definitely necessary for him to make sure he stayed on her good side, even if that meant not executing prisoners just because they'd pissed him off. He wondered what it was like, being turned to stone--did everything just shut down, like being asleep, but not dreaming? Or was it an excruciatingly painful experience, the victim conscious of every last bit of his body being calcified?

"Well," quipped Zeke, nervousness creeping into his voice, "at least now he'll always be rock-hard when the situation demands it."




Sunlight pried Zeke's eyelids open as the dawn swept over the world. He hadn't slept well, which made little sense considering how tired he was. Dreams about Ahearn-shaped stone golems might've been the primary source of his unrestful sleep. Then again, there was always the possibility that being magic-tired was different from being muscle-tired--Zeke had never exerted his aura the way he had the previous night, and the residual soreness from funneling so much shadow magic through his body had not abated.

It was tempting to roll over and continue sleeping, but Zeke knew that if he felt terrible that Zea had to feel ten times worse. If the group was going to get to the underworld on any sort of reasonable schedule, he'd have to get up and prod people along. Surely Zea wasn't going to do it. He supposed that it was possible that she recovered from this sort of thing more rapidly, having done it more often, but the mercenary was on his feet before the thought occurred to him and it was honestly too late at that point for him to care.

Ow. His back felt like he'd been hit by a runaway wagon.

"Gotta get a fire going," muttered Zeke. "I really hope that somebody still has a supply of coffee."
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Unread postby Kelne » Thu Aug 07, 2008 9:11 pm

While she wasn't going to roust people out of bed at the crack of dawn, Cerene did insist on a reasonably early start, after scouting out the nearest settlement and determining to her satisfaction that this was where the children would have fled to the previous night. Nevertheless, the group kept to an easy pace, favouring those who weren't yet fully recovered from the exertions of the previous night.

Their arrival, when they finally trudged into town, was greeted by a crowd of concerned citizens, trying to get further details on the somewhat garbled accounts of the previous night's events. Fending them off and imparting an accurate picture of goings on to the authorities took some time, but was eventually accomplished, leaving people to decide what to do next.

Cerene seemed more concerned with checking in on the children than with defusing widespread anger towards Ahearn.

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Unread postby Besyanteo » Thu Aug 07, 2008 9:26 pm

Michael was quiet in getting up, eating and walking to town. He stayed quiet in town, and he tried to hide himself in the middle of the group, always keeping at least one member of their party between him and strangers. He didn't feel like himself today, and it wasn't hard imagine why that was so.

He'd had some trouble hauling his pack through the woods and into town, but he'd managed so far. Being a few feet shorter than he was when he'd packed it wasn't helping. He'd taken to dragging it along with him where ever the group happened to be going. That couldn't be good for the book bindings...

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Unread postby Nakibe » Thu Aug 07, 2008 10:14 pm

Ugh. My HEAD.... Even after a quick breakfast and some coffee, Solis still felt like he'd just gotten trampled by marching elephants. Ugh. What'd I DO last night? Try to call a God or something? He barely even recalled how they got into town, it was that bad. Sometimes I wonder why me having friends always involves me nearly killing myself spellcasting

It was an interesting enough town, at least. Not particularly big but pretty livel....okay, what the hell? A KOBOLD? It was highly unusual to even SEE one in a city... actually, he was surprised just to see one outside of a textbook or some adventurer's tales of mostly-faked conquests. And why does this one have a blue stripe? And... sort of... seem...

"Oh HELL. Michael?"

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Unread postby Besyanteo » Thu Aug 07, 2008 10:21 pm

Michael started at the sudden yell. What the fuck was that for? Solis wasn't going to pester him about the damn bag, was he? Michael was in not mood for something that stupid right now... But Solis didn't strike him as the type for that, either.

"What What?!"

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Unread postby Nakibe » Thu Aug 07, 2008 10:34 pm

"Oh, Gods, it IS you. um...... as a kobold." The words slipped out of Solis' mouth before he could remember how... well. STUPID they sounded. "But you're alright otherwise, I hope. No other side effects from that card? I mean, there probably WOULDN'T be, but its kind of hard to say with that one... Eheh..." What was he supposed to say here? Apologize for making him into a Kobold due to an unstable spell? I mean, its not like I did anything wrong... at least, I don't THINK I did... did I? Shit. Maybe he wants me to change him back, I mean, its not like I'm entirely sure what happened to BEGIN with, but....

All in all, Solis found himself wondering if having a hangover and not an all-over-ache would be less embarassing. Or, well, awkward.

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Unread postby Besyanteo » Thu Aug 07, 2008 10:36 pm

Michael just sort of... stared at Solis. He wasn't saying anything just yet.

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Unread postby Kai » Sat Aug 09, 2008 12:18 pm

Zea woke that morning from dreams that held only the normal strangeness and discontinuity of all dreaming. She and James were quarreling, but they had to stop to fight a gelatinous cube that had stuck itself to the ceiling above his chair. Then they were at Gunnir and she was talking to Glykeria about what a stupid little human girl she was, and Glykeria asked Zea, "What about you?"

The dream stopped there, and Zea was walking with John. Had he halted it? Perhaps. Where were they going? Away from the living, he said. It would be just them and the dead. Easy for him to say. The dead hated him. So much easier to be hated by the dead than loved by them. They walked a long time. Then she woke up.

Everybody looked better, and most surprising of all was Michael. It seemed to Zea that everyone here was having a harder time adjusting to him than he was to himself. Solis was predictably uncomfortable, and Zea didn't know what to do for him. Her head was still a little fuzzy, and things tended to shift and blur a little at the edges of her vision. If she'd been alone she would have ridden on horseback for a while just so that she wouldn't have to try so hard to balance. But no one else was complaining, and Zea wouldn't either.

"Michael wasn't meant to die," Zea told Solis. "Which means that if this was the only way to save him for the only person who could, then this was intended as well. There is no alternative." Zea recalled that Michael was also here, and also a person, and might require some comfort as well. "Though that does not mean we can't change it. It just means that right now things are as they must be."

Perhaps that degree of fatalism was less comforting for those who were not devotees of death, but it's what Zea would have wanted to hear.

"Anyway, I'm going to go see if I can't get hold of a map. This is the route I took a couple of years ago, but that was a couple of years ago. I'll be back later. John, stay here so I can find them." John's silent grumbling was so profoundly put out that it was very nearly audible.

With that, Zea swung onto her horse. She needed either a mapmaker who wouldn't notice her marking his merchandise and stealing it later, or an archive with information about the area. She reached the library, tied her horse outside, and to her amusement found that one of the children from the night before was there. She turned to the girl and asked, "Afternoon. How did you get here so fast?"

The girl lifted a feathered duster in one hand and a rag in the other. "I'm gonna be here now. I keep things clean and check for bugs."

Zea blinked, and then nodded. In retrospect it made sense that there wouldn't be too much room in this town for all those kids unless they could find someplace quickly to apprentice themselves off. "Have you done the maps yet? I'm looking for one of the area north of here."

She shook her head. "No. But I know they're not over there," she noted, pointing toward one end of the building. "What's your name?"

"Zea Mazuo. You?"

The girl grinned. "Joey. But I gotta go!" She ran off, her bare feet pounding against the wooden floor. "Seeya!"

And then Zea was left alone. "Weird." She headed off to the other end of the library to start her search for some assurance that old landmarks and trails would still be here when she needed them. A lot had surely changed in the two years since she left home, but she hoped not too much.

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Unread postby Blackwind Isao » Thu Aug 14, 2008 1:11 pm

The sound of the library door coupled with the hard footfalls of the new 'apprentice' alerted Jessie to the fact that someone had entered the library. Considering the time of day and the sudden influx of the orphan-apprentices, it was a development that Jessie though warranted some concern; even more concern than normal considering the tale Joey had told Martin, the curator, and him last night. Jessie prayed fervently that this was simply some local come to bother him about 'borrowing' some book while Martin was out on his daily errands. On the other hand, as long as he didn't have to deal with either Zea or Cerene he might be able to sound out one of the others; if he didn't annoy them first.

As he rounded the corner, Jessie caught a glimpse of blue hair and a feminine figure before it disappeared into the stacks. No such luck, this was not some annoying townie nor was it any of the people that Joey had described to him last night that he didn't already know. Instead Zea Mazuo had come to the library and it was his move.

Picking his way through the stacks Jessie took a moment to consider what he must look like now and what impression, if any, that would have on the woman. The two years since they had seen each other last had not been kind to the elf, his face was lined with pain, age, suspicion and cynicism. His hair hung loose and limp from his scalp in a lifeless stringy mass and his entire body was a mass of overlapping scars. The gray robes and black gloves he wore concealed quite a bit of the punishment his body had endured but one could see the signs well enough. He supposed he would look like someone who had spent the last two years having their life and sanity tortured out of them. It was not an assumption that would be far from the truth either.

Such things however were of little consequence. Jessie did not think that his state of being would cause Zea to show him any sympathy if she were here to kill him or even if she were to just recapture him. He'd find out soon enough if this was going to be a life or death fight or something else entirely. Jessie pocketed his half-moon reading glasses as his footfalls annouced his presence behind Zea.

"May I be of some assistance, Miss Mazuo?"
Ignorance has no power over those who dare to know. And those who dare have the power to change everything. - Dana Hunter
Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one's understanding without guidance from another. This immaturity is self-imposed when its cause lies not in lack of understanding but in lack of resolve and courage to use it. Sapere Aude! -I. Kant

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Unread postby Kai » Sat Aug 16, 2008 1:04 am

"No, I'm fine," Zea answered while turning to face whoever had addressed her. "I ju--" Her sentence did not merely run down and stop. It died. It quite suddenly and completely ceased to live.

Jesiah Black's face was not a welcome one. Zea remembered him as a man who employed people without telling them anything about the situation they were getting into. No, that wasn't true. He lied to them. An omission such as "I am shifting you to another plane," or "I expect us to face enemies that you cannot help me with, or even protect yourselves from," or "I use these damned cards for everything and you don't need to know what." He paid well enough, true. Enough to pay for food and improvements for her run-down house. That had been important before James had m--

Not the time.

The point was that Jesiah Black was a dishonest man, a dangerous man. A man who had gotten James killed, and left her to keep him holding to the material phase of whatever plane they'd been on at the time. Anyone working for him did so at their own risk, and likely without even knowing the risk. With the swiftness of an old habit Zea summoned what her father might have said of him.

Unprofessional.

At the time she'd condemned him in her mind, conjuring up echoes of a father she hadn't even met. But she'd heard enough to cultivate a certain degree of his influence... if only to make her feel like he'd been there when such things really mattered.

Now it was difficult to say whether she hated Jesiah Black in her own words or Zeke's. The point was that she hated him.

He still looked like hell. It was hard to think about anything else.

"Black? My Lord, you look like death warmed over, and I'm qualified to judge." She blinked and shook her head. "What're you doing here?"

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Unread postby Blackwind Isao » Sat Aug 16, 2008 12:03 pm

Jessie watched Zea closely as she turned to address him and watched as the recognition was followed by surprise and then a version of disdain. Not exactly the reactions he would have liked, but all things considered it wasn't exactly undeserved and it certainly wasn't the reaction he would expect from someone that was out to kill him either. It was a start, and perhaps if they talked things out she might even revise her opinion of him a bit; maybe that was a bit optimistic but it was worth a shot.

"I could ask you the same question myself, however since you asked first. I'm doing a bit of research with a bit of lying low on the side." As he spoke, Jessie dug out a worn wooden box from the pocket of his robes and opened it, revealing a set of what appeared to be playing cards. "I'm certain you remember these gods forsaken things. I can't say as I've found any information of real use on these but there does seem to be something on Baldesar and Ignazio, whom you may remember as the people who actually make these things."

As he talked Jessie thumbed through the deck before stopping at one in particular. "I think that you should have this," he continued flipping the card over. It portrayed a blue haired, violet eyed girl dressed in black robes with a climbing vine pattern embroidered upon it, leaning rather nonchalantly upon a scythe. "I hope you believe me when I say that it wasn't my idea to do that or any of the rest of these for that matter. Then again you can see what it cost me to get these things away from those two."

"But then what about yourself? What brings you to these parts?"

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Unread postby Kai » Sat Aug 16, 2008 12:26 pm

He was right, Zea did remember them. Not that she knew a damn thing about them. After the mission she had been too preoccupied with pacifying her familiar to look up the strange magic her former employer used. Shortly after that she'd had trouble with some... religious people. Still, she didn't immediately understand what he was on about until he handed her one.

"I'm going home," She answered absently, taking the card in her fingers. "What the... fuck is this?" He said it wasn't his idea. Then whose idea was it? And how the hell did he-- Holding back the card and showing him an empty palm, Zea demanded, "I want James's card, too, if there is one. Just..." she sighed. "Listen, I know you're not very good at explaining things or in general being informative. But what the fuck are these for and why are we just now finding out about them?"

Worse still, he didn't have too much information on them. He was carrying around these weird cards that accomplished a seemingly random array of magical effects, and now there were cards with people on them: people Zea knew. For the moment she didn't care if he'd had a rough time of it because he finally did the right thing. Yes, getting the cards from those two might have been a good idea if there were cards of their employees, but right now she was more concerned that there were cards of her at all.

Zea, she heard.

John, not now.

Why are you angry?

Will you hold on? I'm kinda busy. And don't come over here, stay with the others. I might need Cerene.

Finally having managed to stave off the meddling of her familiar, Zea waited for a few answers that had been very long in coming.

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Unread postby Blackwind Isao » Sat Aug 16, 2008 5:53 pm

Jessie couldn't say that he was surprised by the reaction, in fact he'd rather anticipated it. "Quite right in that I'm not good at explaining these things, especially when I don't know half of what they can do," he said thumbing through the stack before stopping at a different card and handing it to Zea. The card pictured a slightly above average height young half-incubus with impossibly spiked teal hair. He wore a set of black robes with cuffs and hems in a bluish color that matched nicely with the set of triple wings protruding from the back and held a pair of katar in each hand.

"I think you've already received about as straight if an answer as I can give you as to the purpose of these things. As I believe you've already been told they act as a communication device and a sort of gateway. A person can contact someone else with one of these and, provided the person on the recieving end is willing can be 'pulled through' to that person's location. As I understand it this can be worked both ways. There are however, a few functions of which I do not think that you've been made aware of. As far as I can tell they can also be used to scry upon the person portrayed upon them and, unless I'm very much mistaken they can be used as a sort of mental attack against a person as well. For that reason alone I took the liberty of, shall we say, disabling them as I'm not entirely certain exactly what would happen if one went and tried to actually destroy one."

"As for the why you're just finding out about this part, I have to admit that this was done without my knowledge. I only found out about the existence of these," he said holding up three other cards, "after I absconded with the entirety of this deck."

Jessie turned over the three remaining cards that he had held. One depicted a tall elven woman with shoulder length red hair wearing a simple shirt and trousers with a rapier in one hand. This portrait was superimposed over the image of a fiery bird in flight. The second was eerily similar save that it depicted an elven male with a pencil tucked behind one ear. The third depicted a minotaur dressed in hide armor leaning on a warhammer. "I'm hoping at some point to give all of these to the proper people. Or at the very least, someone who will make certain they get to the proper people. That said I believe that Miss Sonelle was also with you, was she not?"
Ignorance has no power over those who dare to know. And those who dare have the power to change everything. - Dana Hunter
Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one's understanding without guidance from another. This immaturity is self-imposed when its cause lies not in lack of understanding but in lack of resolve and courage to use it. Sapere Aude! -I. Kant

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Kai
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Unread postby Kai » Sat Aug 16, 2008 6:03 pm

Zea took the cards and did her best to listen to Jesiah with an open mind. Quietly she ran her thumb over the image of her recently-estranged lover. If that was what they'd been. She had tried not to think about it at the time, even if now she rather wished they'd decided.

It was just as well that the cards were, according to Jessie, inert. The temptation to use the card to reach him might have been too great, and she wasn't certain if that was a good idea. She was either afraid that she would yell at him again, or afraid that he'd yell at her. The former was an excuse. The latter... more likely. This way, for better or worse, the decision was taken from her. The chance to make things worse (somehow) was gone along with the chance to apologize.

She tried to tell herself that he was better off that way. Zea had come to the conclusion that she might be dangerous, even if her father's advice had begun to cast doubt on her own judgment. Even if she missed him, wasn't that better? This way there was nothing but her and her job, and she had effectively pre-empted any effort from her superiors to test her loyalty. They'd displayed a lack of trust for her once, even if she'd received an apology.

Could she really be sure what they'd do? What she'd be asked to do? In light of that it was even better that the cards were inactive. That kind of power shouldn't be in her hands. Not where James was concerned. Not if she wasn't sure she could really protect him.

She just wished she could tell him she was sorry. Without talking to him or seeing him or facing the possibility that he'd be angry with her, or that he'd forgive her.

"Listen," she said finally. "Thanks for giving me these. I think you should give that to Cerene yourself. It might go a long way to actually hear you explain it, all right? Just go tell her what's going on so I don't have to do it this time. And when you're done, I'm curious why you ran off with all these cards if it wasn't due to the supreme weirdness of all these people-cards."

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Unread postby Blackwind Isao » Sat Aug 16, 2008 6:30 pm

"I would, of course be delighted to give Miss Sonelle these," Jessie responded picking up the Trumps corresponding to Cerene and her brother along with Bulworth's card as well. "Is there somewhere I can meet her later? I need to stay here at least until Martin gets back from... whatever it is he's doing."

"As for why I took these, it was partly a desperate move to get out of my own private hell and partly a way to deny them the ability to keep tabs on me by using my own card. When I found the lot of them included all of you I couldn't risk that they'd come after you next. You can see for yourself what they did to me. I owe you all more than this but, hopefully it's something."

"Now then, I believe you said something about going home? So then, maps. If you'd be so kind as to tell me where exactly you're headed I think I can provide you with the proper materials."
Ignorance has no power over those who dare to know. And those who dare have the power to change everything. - Dana Hunter
Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one's understanding without guidance from another. This immaturity is self-imposed when its cause lies not in lack of understanding but in lack of resolve and courage to use it. Sapere Aude! -I. Kant

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Unread postby Dragon Sage007 » Sun Aug 17, 2008 9:08 am

Sorune was not happy. He'd gotten tired, hungry, and quite, quite stretched-when he walked into town, he'd left his mound quite a few miles back, unable to maintain it any further. He more or less stumbled back into the town, his face pale and lined with sweat that showed the strain of concentrating on something for too long, followed by a long, long walk.

The Druid was pretty near dead from exhaustion.

But that didn't seem to matter to him-he questioned several people, giving descriptions when he could, garnering quite a few cups of water and even a sandwich from some well-minded citizens. Most of them couldn't help...but Cerene's and Solis' descriptions were odd enough that it got him a location!

He had to admit to quite a bit of happiness when he finally got to the place they were staying at, getting a room number from the woman in charge, and knocked on the door where a few people stood guard duty on Ahearn...

I swear, if I ever find Redda, I'm going to strangle her incorporeal neck for leaving me in those woods.

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Unread postby Archmage » Mon Aug 18, 2008 12:05 am

Zeke was at a bar.

"Can I get you something?"

It was a fair bet that if Zeke was within the radius of civilization that he was in a bar, and it was an equally fair bet that if Zeke was in a bar that he was drinking. "Pint of bitter, stout if you've got it." The barman nodded and pulled a draught as Zeke fished for a few coins in his pocket.

The crowd was rather mundane. A few farmers in dirty tunics. Somebody talking about the falling price of grain. A man in a funny hat eating a sandwich.

This was boring. The bars in Doma were always packed with interesting people, even if it was only noon. How did people survive in these nowhere towns? It wasn't as though Zeke had never been this far away from a major city--his work had taken him all over Igala.

We'd better stay here tonight, Zeke thought. I don't think I can put up with anymore walking. Fuck getting old. My legs hurt. Booze'll make them feel better.

He finished the beer. "Round two, barman," Zeke commanded with a lazy salute. If he hurried he could be totally wasted by the end of the hour.
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Kelne
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Unread postby Kelne » Mon Aug 18, 2008 8:08 pm

Cerene had spent the morning quietly checking up on the children. Unobtrusively, for the most part, so as to avoid disrupting their settling in. She had received a hug and a shy 'thank you' from Angela though. The town seemed to be having a bit of trouble adapting to the sudden influx of young children, but she imagined things would settle down soon enough. She certainly intended to stop by for the occasional visit and make sure they were doing alright.

It was the sight of Ahearn being hauled into town that brought her wanderings to an end, prompting her to head over and make sure things were in hand. As it turned out, they weren't entirely. There wasn't anybody in town capable of reversing the petrification effect. Cerene had to break the news that no, none of them could do it either. Ahearn wound up being stored out of sight in the jail while his fate was discussed.

Since she was there already, Cerene wound up involved in the discussion, providing her own testimony as to his actions and motives.

"My own advice," she concluded, "Is to send him down to the capital. They'll be able to deal with him objectively, and his sentence will be carried out well away from the children."

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Kai
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Unread postby Kai » Thu Aug 21, 2008 1:33 pm

There was still a lot that Jesiah wasn't sharing. He was playing the pronoun game. "They" had made these cards. "They" might use them to scry on Jesiah and the others. Zea might have to worry about "them" coming after her and her friends next. Worse still, "they" had done something to her former employer. By all indications--his personal appearance and his change in tone--it had to have been pretty bad.

She still didn't trust him, even if his own experiences were leading him closer to normal responsible levels of disclosure with people he might have put at serious risk. Zea didn't trust him, but she'd had enough of yelling at people. She just didn't have the energy, particularly when she'd already basically be kicking the man when he was down. He was trying to help, so she would attempt to be tolerant in return.

"Portal in the Shumans. I'm going to the Netherworld. Part of the reason I need a map is so that I can give the people coming with me clear enough instructions on how to get back without me. Cerene's the only one from that mission who's here, so unfortunately you can't return the rest just yet. I don't see much of Bulworth, and James didn't come." She put James' card in her pocket as if to illustrate that even if James wasn't here, she was taking that card. "If you want to find them, I can just send you with my familiar. He's been travelling with them to keep communications open, but he can get you to them."

She sent out a silent call to her ghostly familiar, and he replied with no small amount of concern.

Zea. What's going on?

Nothing is wrong. I'm here with Jesiah Black, and I think he'll need a guide back to the others. If you know where Cerene is, you need to take him.

Seething rage bled down across the connection between them. I won't help that man.

Yes, you will. Do it. Get here now, and take him to Cerene.

In her mind, Zea could hear him growl in annoyance. It was a vocalization he'd learned from James, and Zea wasn't sure it was a welcome addition. Very well.

"He'll be here in a bit. I'll warn you in advance. He doesn't like you. Whole planar shifting without notice thing left him behind and he... can really hold a grudge." She shrugged. "But I've told him to take you back. If you don't talk to him he might not talk to you. And that should make it easier."

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Unread postby Kelne » Fri Aug 29, 2008 2:48 am

As it turned out, Jesiah didn't need to go all the way to the jail to find Cerene.

"You know," the sherriff remarked, "There's that Black fellow. He seems to have a few skills; might be able to undo the effect."

"Oh? Where do I find him?" Cerene asked.

"Library, most likely. He's the bookish type. Keeps to himself mostly, but he's alright."

Thus it was that Cerene laid eyes on Jesiah just as he was coming out the door.

"YOU," she pronounced, leveling an accusatory finger at him.

"You know, I've always wanted to do that," she remarked, momentarily amused by the pose she'd struck, "Nevertheless. YOU."

It was a safe bet that she wasn't thrilled to encounter Jesiah Black here or, for that matter, anywhere else.

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Unread postby Blackwind Isao » Sat Sep 06, 2008 11:42 am

For his part Jessie had long ago become accustom to having someone point an accusatory finger at him and use the ever popular 'YOU' as if they were both astounded at him and filled with a vast, unquenchable rage at the same time. He suppressed the reflexive sarcastic remark that came nearly immediately to mind. It would do no good to taunt Cerene Sonelle in this situation. The situation was delicate enough without him provoking her.

"Well John," he remarked to Zea's familiar, "I don't know if you had a hand in getting Miss Sonelle here or not but it seems as if your job is done. Give Zea my thanks when you see her if you would."

Turning back towards the damning finger he continued. "I'm not certain why you decided to come to the library Miss Sonelle but it seems to have saved me a bit of time. Perhaps I could repay this by attending to your needs first. So, what is it that I can do for you?"

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Unread postby Besyanteo » Sun Sep 07, 2008 12:03 am

Michael had opted to follow behind Cerene. There wasn't any particular reason for this, he simply had. He was far too deeply rooted in his own thoughts and some entirely understandable angst over the dramatic change in his person. Still, he'd brightened up just slightly as he considered that Gunnir, being a mage's school and therefore having a medical staff experienced in treating magical ailments and abnormalities of all sorts, might be able to fix him...

When suddenly Cerene started talking, loudly and sounding angry. He looked up sharply, looking about to see what might have provoked her. He'd expected any number of things; Perhaps Zea had come back, looking more drained than before, which would be cause enough to be irritated. She didn't need to strain herself further, indeed quite the opposite... But no, no Zea. Maybe Solis and Zea's familiar were ahead, arguing, and he simply hadn't heard. But no, neither of them was present either. Ahearn, through some arcane means, might have restored himself, and come back to seek revenge for the foiling of his grand scheem to punish the gods? No, he wasn't there either.

His eyes finally settled on Jessiah black, who had just begun to speak. His first thought was that the man looked like hell. His second was that that was still a step above what Michael himself looked like. The third and final before he spoke was that the man had just said something that vaguely implied that he was a librarian. Why was Cerene mad at a librarian? She didn't seem the kind of hold a grudge over a late fee...

"What's going on...?"

He winced at his own slightly rasping, peevish voice. He'd always taken his original one for granted before...

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Kelne
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Unread postby Kelne » Sun Sep 07, 2008 7:36 am

"Michael, meet Jesiah Black. Ex-employer slash scum-of-the-earth, no doubt even now engaged in some grand design which we mere mortals need not know the details of." Yes, Cerene was still bitter. And given her generally easy-going nature outside of actual life-threatening situations, he must have really ticked her off.

"Since you ask, Jesiah, there's a man back at the jail in need of de-petrification. Rather insane and potentially somewhat dangerous, though I expect the sherriff can keep him in line." The man had mentioned a set of the anti-magic cuffs which were supposed to be standard issue, but weren't always, so that ought to take care of it.

"Now, dare I ask why you've got John leading you to me?" Her tone was quite cold, suggesting she'd prefer that he conduct his business and be gone. Cerene could have quite happily gone the rest of her long lifespan without encountering Jesiah Black again. Now that she had... Well, she'd vented somewhat, airing that roiling anger which might otherwise have lurked all but forgotten for untold years, periodically refreshed by the sight of that lingering faint scar.

In a way, perhaps it was for the best that she'd come face-to-face with the cause of her anger. Carrying it around could not be good for her soul, and now she'd been forced to confront it. Abruptly it came to her that this was what her father had warned her about. The kind of festering grudge which eventually came to poison one's soul, and had been the downfall of so many of the elven people. Worse, she had seen the end of that road personally, in a pitiful shell of a creature motivated only by petty hate. It was a road she didn't want to travel herself.

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Unread postby Blackwind Isao » Sat Sep 13, 2008 11:05 am

Jessie's normal response when faced with a person as disdainful as Cerene was at the moment was to display an equal amount of disdain, ignore the person entirely or change the subject. Unfortunately for him, none of those options were available to him at the moment. He could potentially deal with the man at the jail later and although he'd rarely seen a kobold brave enough to venture into a mainly human town, he'd have to be introduced to Michael later, if at all. With effort he resisted himself, reached into a pocket and brought out a worn wooden case.

"There is no easy way to do this and if Zea is anything to judge by I expect that this will both surprise you and anger you even more than you already are," he said as he slowly opened the case revealing a set of cards that Cerene could likely recognize in an instant. Without a word he thumbed through the dozen or so cards he held before removing two cards and stowing the rest back where they had come from. "I have as much right to this now as the men who made it now that fate or fortune has allowed for this meeting," he said revealing Cerene's trump. "You should know that I've taken the liberty of deactivating this and, though I hardly expect you to believe me when I say it, that I had nothing to do with the fact that it exists."

Still holding a single, unrevealed card in his hand Jessie waited for Cerene's response. There was only one way that he wouldn't hand that card over to Cerene as well. He had no right to her brother's card either, the only thing holding him back was the possibility that he could give it to Keros himself. Granted that would likely require Cerene to teleport him here and he could but wonder at how likely that was. If the last year and a half had taught him anything however, it was that one could always hope.
Ignorance has no power over those who dare to know. And those who dare have the power to change everything. - Dana Hunter
Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one's understanding without guidance from another. This immaturity is self-imposed when its cause lies not in lack of understanding but in lack of resolve and courage to use it. Sapere Aude! -I. Kant

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Kelne
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Unread postby Kelne » Wed Sep 17, 2008 9:15 am

The cards again. Better yet, one with her picture on it. A rather disturbingly accurate picture. To say that Cerene was unimpressed by the card's existence would be something of an understatement. The card would make a very handy summoning focus, and if she was sure of anything, it was that she would not want to be summoned by Jesiah or any of his numerous and shadowy enemies.

Keeping a hold of it herself was probably the lesser evil, she decided reluctantly, removing it from Jesiah's grasp with a few choice mutterings in some foreign tongue.

"Alright Jesiah," she said, returning her gaze to him, "Here's your big chance to assuage my terrible wrath." Directed at anyone else, that statement would have been a joke. Directed at Jesiah, it was a joke that fell extremely flat. "What else do I need to know about the blasted cards and their creators? Or any related subjects, for that matter?"

It was a question she had precisely zero hope of receiving a satisfactory answer to, but there was always that remote chance he was turning over a new leaf. The death-warmed-over look certainly suggested he might perhaps be in a less arrogant frame of mind than usual.

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Unread postby Blackwind Isao » Sat Sep 20, 2008 11:41 am

Jessie didn't answer Cerene's question immediately as he shifted his gaze upwards towards the empty sky. Just how much did he know and how much was simply an educated guess? The better question in his mind was how much of a difference there was between the two at this point.

With a sigh, the elf returned his gaze to Cerene. "I can't be certain how much of this is accurate, most of my knowledge is at best second hand or gained through observation so I'd caution you to take that into account. I'm certain however that you already know some of the uses of the Trumps. They seem to mainly be used as a communication and travel device. Anyone holding a Trump for a certain person can concentrate on it and, should the... target be willing to receive the 'connection' a link of sorts is established between the two parties. This allows a limited amount of view of exactly where each other is and for easy communication. Also one party or the other can 'pull through' the other. I should note that once the 'connection' is established you can get pulled through to the other person despite your wishes, it's a matter of brute strength at that point. A person who doesn't wish to receive a 'link' can choose to block an attempt. As far as I know it's as simple as refusing the link. That doesn't make you safe though. Another use of the Trumps is to mentally attack the target. This is sheer force of will. Should you lose that contest... let's just say things won't go well for you. Should you happen to win however, you seem to block that person from being able to use your Trump."

Jessie continued to speak but shifted his gaze upwards again, "As for how the things work. I can't say for certain, though if you pressed me for an answer I'd say that I think they're somehow connected to a person's astral aura in some way or another. If you look closely enough each of these things has a pattern of some sort in the way that it's drawn that repeats itself over and over. Lastly, as for who made that card in particular I couldn't tell you for certain but it's easy enough to check. If you look in the upper left corner you'll see either a B or an I. Now I'm not certain if you remember the two men that accompanied us way back when but it was one of those two. B is for Baldesar and I for Ignazio, of whom I can tell you nothing. I don't know who they are really or what it is that they're after aside from the fact that it's something to do with the' Valley of Shadows'."

"I'm sorry I can't be much more help than that and I'm afraid I have a favor to ask of you as well." Flipping the card he still held in his hand over for Cerene to see he return his gaze again to the phoenix, "Perhaps you could get this to your brother for me?"

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Kelne
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Unread postby Kelne » Thu Oct 09, 2008 5:30 am

Cerene reached out and took the second card, slipping it into the same pocket as the first. Just what they were going to do with the blasted things was something of an open question.

"Dare I ask how many other people I know are on the cards?" she asked in a somewhat less frosty voice. That speech was certainly more information than Jesiah had given out at one sitting to date, and as she paid more attention to him, it began to look as if he might actually have gotten his much-needed comeuppance. "I take it Zea's already got hers?"

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