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Old Sep 21st, 2022, 01:55 PM
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Prelude: Ha-Ha-Harleen's Place

And so, our story begins...
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A common post card you can find at any Griffin Flights' office in Prism City.



Prism City.

The city of neon, of high fashion, of suhweet temptation– it is a city that is unlike any other in our Big Gay World. Where it is not war or kings that hold reign over its people, but the call of beauty, of unspoken desire, and of fame so godly that it stirs the hearts of thousands.

It is a city that rests on the very precipice of The Edge of the World. Its prismatic towers, shimmering in colors that are beyond imagination, rise above the clouds, where nothing but the heavens itself could glean its whole beauty. Its ever-changing form.

It is a city that is a culture all on its own. Where creativity runs wild in its neon lit streets. Its people– The Glamoured– expressing themselves through fashion that constantly evolves just as the city changes with the latest Trends. A perfect reflection of an identity that is everything and nothing all at once.

It is a city where magic and technology blend the line of what makes a person beautiful. Where flesh and blood isn’t the only way to shine like a star on the holoscreens.

It is a city that you have come to call home.

It doesn’t matter how it began. Whether you traveled from the glass gardens of Sunglade, the Red Sands from the Phantom Sea, a humble farm from the Middle of Nowhere, or that you have haunted Prism City’s technicolor streets for as long as you can remember– you have lived in its fabulous towers long enough to have tasted its forbidden fruit. Hooked on its wild, fast pace living, the vibrant people that breathe life into every crook and cranny, it is now where your heart rests, beating hard and fast for your deepest desire, your grandest greed, your truest love.

Prism City is your home.

But it is not where our story begins.

Oh no, our story begins somewhere…

Down.

Down.

Down.

Down.

Below the radiant towers.

Beneath the stretch of bright and vibrant lights.

Somewhere cold.

Dark.

And full of the best party animals in all of Prism City.

Your story starts here.

In The Drain.

At Ha-Ha-Harleen’s Place.





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Ha-Ha-Harleen's Place, stationed on the third level of The Drain, between Grab The Bull by The Horns Fight Club and Sssuzette's Salon.

Ha-Ha-Harleen’s Place was the perfect hideaway for all of Prism City’s strays. It was a bar located on the third level of The Drain, close enough to the surface that nobody needed to swim their way to its neon pink lit doorsteps. It still rained here. A light pour that kept the mis-matched metal-plated roads slick, and the windows rattling with the pitter-patter of heavy raindrops. But that was just The Drain for you! It rained everywhere, all the time. As everything that couldn’t keep up with Prism City, wound up down here. Be it rain, or people.

And Harleen was proof of that.

Her story was no different than the usual Tourist with big dreams. She came to Prism City with the hopes of striking it big on the holoscreen. All her life she heard about the stars of Prism City. Big names like Diva Luv, Carrie Powderkeg, and The Debbies. Owning dozens of books, astral stones, and portraits of the stars that she hoped that she’d meet on stage one day. As equals, if her singing ever took off.

But by the time Harleen earned enough gold to get an airship ticket to the big city, her favorite stars were old news. Replaced by folks that were hotter, younger, and shinier than the holo singers that Harleen loved so desperately. And with their downfall, Harleen also learned just how hard it was to make the cut in Prism City when you didn’t want to change what made you who you are.

So, that was her tale. A story old as time in Prism City.

…but lucky for her, Harleen was an optimist, which each and every one of you figured out reeeaaal quick when you came across her the first time. Prism City may not have wanted her, but The Drain? Oh baby, The Drain loved her. And she looooved it! From the leaky ceiling tops to the glowing green waterways, Harleen figured out real quick after her fall from grace that the people she liked best were all down here.

And that’s how Ha-Ha-Harleen’s Place came to be!

And why each of you found yourself tied to it and its’ incredibly pink aesthetic.

It was already after hours at Ha-Ha-Harleen’s Place. The only folks allowed in were her favorite regulars.

Aurelia Draxus, a thief who stole hearts just as much as she stole coin; Naga-Shi, a con woman who kept a whole deck of secrets close to her heart; VA-11-KR3, or Val for short, who was a girl blessed with the voice of an angel and the looks to boot; and Anais Inanna, by far the sweetest little thing to ever-wander into Prism City~! And that included Harleen, you can quote her on that!

And of course, Harleen’s bouncer: Darla Deftfingers, the leather-bound halfling who wasn’t afraid to show that big things come in small packages when things get a little too rough in the bar.

Darla sat at the bar counter. Her comically large biker boots kicking aimlessly in the air as she busied herself with cleaning her jet black dagger. Her hair greased back with that raspberry promenade Harleen gifted her on her first-year-here-at-Harleen’s anniversary that happened last week, much to Darla’s surprise. In that, Harleen remembered, Harleen cared, and she weirdly bought her a gift.

Harleen herself was easy enough to spot. She was the tall drink of water that was desperately trying to figure out the correct crystal composition for her “brand new” karaoke machine. A seven foot tall gnoll that was pink from furry coif to curly tail. Personally, she thought herself cute as a button rather than ‘frightening’ and ‘why are your teeth so big?’ but she wasn’t the type of lady to fuss over other’s taste. Not when she proved hers was the best with neon blue leg warmers and an outfit straight outta of a jazzercise holo-vid.

Crouched down, Harleen huffed, blowing the part of her mane that curled down in front of her snout out of her face. "Aw poo, I just don’t get what I’m doing wrong here! I followed the manual right, dinna I?" She picked up the clearly hastily hand-written scroll, and accidentally let it unravel with a comedic thump, as its bottom half rolled off the stage. Her ears fell back in confusion, and she squinted hard, still trying to make sense of all them fancy words about Prism City’s patented ASTRALtech. "Any of you sweet ladies speak gibberish?"

Darla snorted. "Tellin’ ya, you were conned. Nothing’s ever brand new down here. Its either half past its way to being junk…" She paused, bringing her knife to the floursecent pink light above the bar. "....or it’s dead on arrival. Just ask Trouble 1 & 2." She cut her eyes to both Aurelia and Naga-Shi, as she still hadn’t come around to their idea of a ‘day job.’

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Last edited by Strangemund; Sep 22nd, 2022 at 01:26 AM.
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Old Sep 21st, 2022, 05:43 PM
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Anais the Nature Witch
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Anais was sitting on a bar stool next to Darla, leaning back against the bar with her arms spread, draping her shawl over the bar. Robin, her fox familiar, was curled up on the bar stool on the other side, pretending to sleep but alert for the sound of food being dropped onto the floor. "Aww, c'mon Darla, don't start." She gave the halfling pleading eyes that were belied by the fact that she couldn't keep a straight face. "Just because they hurt people for a living don't mean they don't know which people to hurt and which not to hurt." A be-freckled arm emerged from her sleeve as she gave Darla a playful punch on the shoulder. "You should know that as well as anybody." She leaned over to give her a side hug, entirely unconcerned with the deadly weapon in the halfling's hands. The smell of rosemary wafted from the heart-shaped pomander on Anais's shawl pin, partially covering the usual smell of sweat and soil that clung to her. Her hand remained on Darla's shoulder even after the hug was finished, testing the waters. "I'm sure there are funner things you could be doing than giving them a hard time," she said in a slightly lower tone.

"Anyway, Harleen, I don't speak gibberish, just sweet nothin's." Anais was hoping against hope that Harleen would get the karaoke machine working. Val had taken Anais to a karaoke night before, and it was. So. Much. Fun. She was more of an "herbal remedies" witch than a "crystal energies" witch, though, so the machine's secrets were as much beyond her as they were Harleen. "Maybe one of these other 'sweet ladies' can give you a hand. How are your garnishes holding up?" Anais had met Harleen when Robin (the unrepentant thief) had gotten into a shipment of olives. Anais had rushed to apologize and offer to make it up to Harleen. Harleen had rushed to reassure Anais that it was no big deal (and Robin was adorable). One thing led to another, and now Anais was living in a tiny room beneath the bar, supplying Harleen with different herbal garnishes in exchange for the space. Occasionally Harleen would offer Anais a drink on the house, and Anais would pretend to be reluctant as she accepted the gesture, then later leave the gnoll something nice-smelling to rub in her fur.
OOCSince we're here to experiment and test out mechanics, Anais is trying to Entice Darla a bit. Let me know if she needs to take things a little further to get her message across.
 

Last edited by Kaigen; Sep 21st, 2022 at 05:47 PM. Reason: Gotta drop one more line in there.
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Old Sep 24th, 2022, 01:02 PM
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Naga ShiWhile Darla and Anais sat at the bar, Naga-Shi preoccupied herself at one of the tables. There she absentmindedly worked with a deck of cards. With one hand still holding her barker’s cane she sat the deck on the table, spreading it out before taking the last card between finger and thumb and flipping it over. This caused a chain reaction in which the full deck was now turned face up. Anyone sitting at the table with her would realize that the entire deck was a single card in repetition, the seven of hearts.

“Hm, perhaps seven is a lucky number?” She said coyly before holding up the card between two fingers, turning it around to show its back only to reveal the front of a blank playing card instead, “Then again, perhaps not.”

Using the blank playing card she flipped the deck over again, this time revealing a perfectly normal deck of cards. Though her pride in her little trick waned as her ears pricked with the foul barbs coming from the bar. Trouble? Hurt people for a living? Oh, what terrible propaganda Naga-Shi’s companions so absentmindedly decided to wield against her! Whatever she had done to earn their ire, it could not have been as bad as to deserve their blatant skewers right in front of her!

With a frown she swept up her cards, slithering out of her seat while leaving behind an unaltered deck stacked on the table all in the same seamless motion.

Hurt? Sweet Anais, even when you wear the guise of my rescuer you choose to cut deep.” She purred as she glided over to the strange karaoke machine, “You know well, I’ve never done more then give people exactly what they ask for. It’s not my fault that what they want does not always align with what they need. I’m merely a victim of an endemic of buyer’s remorse.”

She turned her back to Harleen, bringing her cane up under her arm, giving one of the crystals a firm strike in the process. This caused the lose shard to let out a melodic hum before shifting and sliding a little deeper into the machine, locking it into place. Now it was unlikely this would fix the device entirely, but it was an improvement, it even let out a musical note for the first time which created the illusion she had helped. In classic fashion, Naga-Shi’s aide was largely superficial.

Yet even still, Harleen could not contest the woman’s claims. When the two had first crossed paths, Shi was posing as little more then a beggar, invisible to the crowd, and witness to a group of swindlers who would use and abuse the poor gnoll with nowhere else to turn. They would prey upon her because she was good natured, because she was different from them. Naga-Shi preyed upon the willfully ignorant, the prideful, and the affluent. Seeing Harleen mistreated in such a way made Shi’s venom bubble and boil, leaving her little choice but to step in and rescue the gnoll, or risk blowing her cover by changing into a more ferocious form in a busy street. Even at her most selfish would the Elements allow inaction. Selfish as the deed may have been, it was one that Harleen would never know, and thanked her by welcoming her into her bar and carving a small space out for her in the bowls below. It was warm and dry, full of good people, an invitation Naga-Shi took eagerly, even as she was bitten by guilt and the irony of being preyed upon by the Elements just as she preyed upon others.

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Old Sep 30th, 2022, 03:03 AM
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It was a quiet end to a relatively uneventful evening. Just to the left of Naga-Shi, Aurelia's feet were poking out from the end of a booth against the wall, one leg over the other, her toes swaying lazily back and forth as she lay across the seat looking up at a necklace hanging from two fingers just above her face. It was nice... well, nice for The Drain anyway, a slightly older-style choker with a line of inset green gems that caught the light in such a unique way. Of course, they'd also caught the eyes of a certain roguish, raven-haired ruffian, and now just two hours later, the piece had found new ownership.

Not to say Aurelia had stolen it from a patron here at the bar. Heavens no. She'd lifted it off a mouthy stranger in the fight club next door. She had no interest in tarnishing the reputation of Ha-Ha-Harleen's Place with talk of pickpocketing... ESPECIALLY not after the first time she did it and Darla found out. For a halfling, Darla wasn't nearly as adorable when she was mad as Aurelia would have initially guessed.

"Tsk. Darlaaaaa, you know we're Trouble 2 and 3. Nobody takes the top spot from you after all." She sat up, resting her arms over the back of the booth as she grinned at the bouncer. As her eyes fell on the halfling, she noted Anais' friendly contact and felt a small twinge of jealousy. She certainly wouldn't mind a bit of warmth to liven up the evening. As the witch mounted a somewhat backhanded defense on their behalf, Shi feigned mild offense at Anais' summarization of their work, displaying a few of her characteristically smooth flourishes in the process.

"Hurt? Sweet Anais, even when you wear the guise of my rescuer you choose to cut deep. You know well, I’ve never done more then give people exactly what they ask for. It’s not my fault that what they want does not always align with what they need. I’m merely a victim of an endemic of buyer’s remorse."

Aurelia mulled it over. After a moment though, she just shrugged and smiled.

"Probably mostly fair to me though. I hurt people all the time. Just not for money." Taking hold of the back of the booth, Aurelia kicked up off the seat, flipping forward over the back and softly planting her feet onto solid ground. "Speaking of money though... good news Harleen. I can settle my tab tomorrow! Just gotta swing by the pawn shop in the morning." Moving up to the bar with the choker twirling around her index finger, Aurelia winked at the gnoll as she took a seat on Anais' other side.

Though she’d probably just deflect if asked, Aurelia had a soft spot for Harleen ever since they’d first become acquainted. The evening had started normally enough; following Naga-Shi to a bar, drinking too much, and dropping thinly veiled hints to other patrons about how her face might be more comfortable than a bar stool. This particular evening of booze and TMI just happened to be taking place at Ha-Ha-Harleen's Place, and the scoundrel found herself quickly taken with the charming, warm gnoll bartender and owner, who poured drinks Aurelia’s favorite way; heavy. So it was that, when an old flame of Harleen’s came into the joint with some choice insults and demands to be taken back, Aurelia was unusually disinclined to sit back and watch.

The fight wasn’t as quick or as elegant as she’d have preferred (damn those heavy pours), but it was a fun little brawl with gratifying enough results; Aurelia sporting a nasty shiner, grinning through a bloody lip while the rude ex lay quiet as the grave in a satisfyingly broken heap out in the street. Harleen didn’t need anyone defending her honor, but she’d appreciated the gesture all the same, and with some forceful motivation, Aurelia found herself being patched up in the back room by the kindhearted gnoll. The two really hit it off, and Harleen, seemingly a collector of broken things, gave Aurelia a little room of her own below the bar. In exchange, Aurelia occasionally helped with odd jobs, looked out for trouble on the rare occasion that Darla needed help (an unnecessary offer as of yet), and agreed not to steal from anyone on the premises and try not to start fights. Aurelia found that easy enough to say yes to; after all, Harleen had never said anything about FINISHING them.
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Old Oct 6th, 2022, 12:54 PM
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Trouble, trouble, trouble...
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Ha-Ha-Harleen's Place

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaigen View Post
"Aww, c'mon Darla, don't start." She gave the halfling pleading eyes that were belied by the fact that she couldn't keep a straight face.

"I’m not starting nothin’," Darla shrugged off those puppy dog eyes quicker than a dog shaking off fleas. It was nothing personal, of course, Anais was cute as a button, and Darla loved her company, but it was just part of the job. Being a stick in the mud while she played bouncer made it easier to keep order and peace when fools were three bottles deep in red hot liquor. "Just stating cold. hard. facts."


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaigen View Post
"Just because they hurt people for a living don't mean they don't know which people to hurt and which not to hurt." A be-freckled arm emerged from her sleeve as she gave Darla a playful punch on the shoulder

"Hey, hey! Watch the jacket~!" Darla said with a smirk, feigning pain at the light jab at her shoulder. Shifting around to face Anais proper, Darla playfully pointed the tip of her dagger towards the shepherdess, using it like a pointer as she gestured up-and-down at Anais. "You are too soft on ‘em, ya know that? You keep makin’ up all these excuses for their behavior, and you are gonna be knee deep in their crap. And I ain’t gonna pull you out, no matter how many times you flash those pretty eyes at me…"


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaigen View Post
"You should know that as well as anybody." She leaned over to give her a side hug, entirely unconcerned with the deadly weapon in the halfling's hands.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Touketsu View Post
"Tsk. Darlaaaaa, you know we're Trouble 2 and 3. Nobody takes the top spot from you after all." She sat up, resting her arms over the back of the booth as she grinned at the bouncer. As her eyes fell on the halfling, she noted Anais' friendly contact and felt a small twinge of jealousy.

Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place! Darla found herself torn from getting sweet and soft in Anais’ impulsive hug– she smelled nice today, earthy, like a spring rain that washed away a hard day’s work in the mud– to getting sour and hard at Aurelia’s taunt– as Darla worked too damn hard to be lumped in with the likes of them. no ma’am, she was a straight and arrow kinda brute!

She let Anais curl her arm around her shoulders. Anais felt her muscles tense as she nestled into the crook of her arm. It was hard to say what caused her to bristle up. Anais’ gentle touch or her knee-jerk reaction of prepping for a fight with Aurelia. Knowing Darla, it was likely both. Truth be told, she wasn’t exactly a cuddly bunny, despite her small stature. Point proven in that that dagger of hers was now pointed in Aurelia’s smug direction. "Nu-uh, no way, babe. You an’ me ain’t the same. What I do is deal with trouble. Keep the knuckleheads out, and the lummoxes behaved. I ain’t got no interest in bringing that damned Inspector around here, poking around my personal biz. I got stuff to do!"

Harleen piped up from her lengthy instruction manual, the gnoll tutting with a click of her tongue like a scolding school teacher. "Darla, play nice. The girls have been nothing but angels. I won’t stand for you bad-mouthing them, sugar! Won’t have it!" Sighing with all the dramatics of a soap opera star, Harleen’s shoulders fell, and she tossed the scroll aside, looking like the whole world was crumbling down around her. "Although maybe you are right about being hood-winked. I still can’t make heads or tails of any of this!"


Quote:
Originally Posted by QueenQatherine View Post
“Hurt? Sweet Anais, even when you wear the guise of my rescuer you choose to cut deep.” She purred as she glided over to the strange karaoke machine, “You know well, I’ve never done more then give people exactly what they ask for. It’s not my fault that what they want does not always align with what they need. I’m merely a victim of an endemic of buyer’s remorse.”
Quote:
Originally Posted by Touketsu View Post
"Probably mostly fair to me though. I hurt people all the time. Just not for money." Taking hold of the back of the booth, Aurelia kicked up off the seat, flipping forward over the back and softly planting her feet onto solid ground.

Aurelia and Naga-shi had Darla up in arms now. She threw out her hands at Harleen, as if their confessions were proof enough that they were a far cry from the sweet little pups Harleen painted them as. "You hearin’ this!? Absolutely zero respect for their fellow man!" She shook her head in disbelief, and with a frustrated grunt, returned to polishing her knife, scrubbing at its metallic edge a little harder. "Ain’t life hard enough in The Drain without us picking each other apart like vultures…" said the kettle to the pot.


Quote:
Originally Posted by QueenQatherine View Post
She turned her back to Harleen, bringing her cane up under her arm, giving one of the crystals a firm strike in the process. This caused the loose shard to let out a melodic hum before shifting and sliding a little deeper into the machine, locking it into place. Now it was unlikely this would fix the device entirely, but it was an improvement, it even let out a musical note for the first time which created the illusion she had helped. In classic fashion, Naga-Shi’s aide was largely superficial.

"Oh!" Harleen gasped, her little stubby tail wiggling up a storm at the sweet little note that popped out of her brand new toy. She clapped her hands together giddily. "Eeee! Naga-shi, I outta give you the biggest smooch in the world! How did you do that? Is it the crystals I got mixed up?" Inspired by the conwoman, she started to daintly nudge the crystals in further, waiting to hear that satisfying click and song that she heard with Naga-shi’s crystal. "Aw, sugar, you are an absolute life-saver. I was really getting my tail into a knot about this, and I don’t have much tail left to spare for that!"

Darla rolled her eyes, mumbling under her breath, just loud enough for Anais to hear, "It was just a lucky guess…"


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaigen View Post
The smell of rosemary wafted from the heart-shaped pomander on Anais's shawl pin, partially covering the usual smell of sweat and soil that clung to her. Her hand remained on Darla's shoulder even after the hug was finished, testing the waters. "I'm sure there are funner things you could be doing than giving them a hard time," she said in a slightly lower tone.

Something about the way Anais whispered those sweet nothin’s into her ear hit Darla differently. It wasn’t the usual banter she expected from the shepherdess. Where the naive little thing said things that came close to bawdy propositions, but that was never her intention, or so Darla always thought! But the mix of that lovely flowery scent and that lingering hand upon her shoulder which played softly with her collar was… not something a naive little thing from the Middle of Nowhere would do. It was suggestive. A promise of sweet, secretive debauchery.

Darla shivered. Her eyes cut to Anais in surprise as she drank in that low raspy tone of the shepherdess. Her lips parted, words trying to spill out, but Darla was tongue-tied, flustered, as her face grew hot with a fiery blush that left even her pointed ears a dark rose red.

"I–w-what are you implying–" CLANG! "Crap!" Darla’s knife slipped through her shaky fingers, and clattered beneath the stool. Growing even redder, she laughed, almost nervously, as she shared a goofy grin with Anais. "Ha, ya…ya got me good, Anais. I almost thought…ahem…nevermind."


Quote:
Originally Posted by Touketsu View Post
"Speaking of money though... good news Harleen. I can settle my tab tomorrow! Just gotta swing by the pawn shop in the morning." Moving up to the bar with the choker twirling around her index finger, Aurelia winked at the gnoll as she took a seat on Anais' other side.

"DON’T LET CRAG CHEAT YOU!" Harleen yelled from inside the karaoke machine, her butt sticking up and in the air as she was finally making headway with its quirky inner workings. "I swear, it’s like he makes it a personal challenge to undercut everybody who comes into his shop! I know he’s gotta garner a profit, but there’s a difference between making a buck and stealing right out from underneath a girl…" The karaoke machine let out a melodious song. Lights flickering across the smooth glass control panel, and the holoscreen, for a second, flashed a sparkling rainbow sky before it went dark.

Harleen popped back out, ears flicked back, and ringing, which was painful, but worth the progress she was making. She decided to take a break, though, and fell back on the band stage, stretching out like a wilting noblewoman who couldn’t be bothered to go out today. "But I am glad to hear you’ll be able to pay! I know its been slim pickin’s for work ‘round here. And I DO love having you here, all of you. It’d kill me to lose any of you girls to the cold streets…"

There. Right there. That twinge sadness that sunk into Harleen’s voice was uncharacteristic of the gnoll. What was that about? Was something wrong?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaigen View Post
”How are your garnishes holding up?"

Whatever was eating at Harleen was dropped at the opportunity to change the subject, and gab about her latest passion! Plants! Legs kicking in the air, Harleen wiggled like a kitten with a ball of yarn. "Oh! They are are doing fantastic! I listened to what you said about keeping them near the window with the most light during the morning, and they are just flourishing! In no time at all, I’ll be able to start adding them to the drinks! Can you imagine? Fresh cinnamon! Peppers! Mint! Actually, I do have kinda a teeny-weeny problem with the mint."

Harleen rolled over to face Anais, unaware that a folded slip of paper fell right out of her pocket and fluttered in front of Naga-shi’s feet. "So, I knoooow you said to be careful about not planting the mint too close to the ground, but, like, hypothetically, what should I do if that happened…?"

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Last edited by Strangemund; Oct 6th, 2022 at 01:25 PM.
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Old Oct 6th, 2022, 03:15 PM
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Anais the Nature Witch
Quote:
Originally Posted by QueenQatherine View Post
Hurt? Sweet Anais, even when you wear the guise of my rescuer you choose to cut deep.” She purred as she glided over to the strange karaoke machine, “You know well, I’ve never done more then give people exactly what they ask for. It’s not my fault that what they want does not always align with what they need. I’m merely a victim of an endemic of buyer’s remorse.”
Anais makes a little moue with her lips as Naga-Shi objects to her wording. "Oh, I didn't mean anything by it, Shi." She shrugs. "Sometimes gettin' what you want hurts." Anais waggles her over-endowed eyebrows. "Sometimes it hurts real good." That last is delivered with a sidelong glance and smirk at Darla as Anais expresses a complete lack of concern about the knife being used to gesture at her. Maybe if she found the right words to finally get through to the halfling, Anais could get her to cut a few of her laces loose with it later.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Touketsu View Post
"Probably mostly fair to me though. I hurt people all the time. Just not for money." Taking hold of the back of the booth, Aurelia kicked up off the seat, flipping forward over the back and softly planting her feet onto solid ground. "Speaking of money though... good news Harleen. I can settle my tab tomorrow! Just gotta swing by the pawn shop in the morning." Moving up to the bar with the choker twirling around her index finger, Aurelia winked at the gnoll as she took a seat on Anais' other side.
Robin gets up from the stool with a stretch and nonchalantly steps up onto the bar as Aurelia joins them, as though it was a part of his plan the whole time and not a reaction to the knowledge that Aurelia would take his seat if she wanted it. Anais favors Aurelia with a smile. "See, Darla? She's payin' off her tab. That's why Harleen 'n I can speak up for her without worryin'. We know she won't let us down." She winks at Aurelia.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Strangemund View Post
Something about the way Anais whispered those sweet nothin’s into her ear hit Darla differently. It wasn’t the usual banter she expected from the shepherdess. Where the naive little thing said things that came close to bawdy propositions, but that was never her intention, or so Darla always thought! But the mix of that lovely flowery scent and that lingering hand upon her shoulder which played softly with her collar was… not something a naive little thing from the Middle of Nowhere would do. It was suggestive. A promise of sweet, secretive debauchery.

Darla shivered. Her eyes cut to Anais in surprise as she drank in that low raspy tone of the shepherdess. Her lips parted, words trying to spill out, but Darla was tongue-tied, flustered, as her face grew hot with a fiery blush that left even her pointed ears a dark rose red.

"I–w-what are you implying–" CLANG! "Crap!" Darla’s knife slipped through her shaky fingers, and clattered beneath the stool. Growing even redder, she laughed, almost nervously, as she shared a goofy grin with Anais. "Ha, ya…ya got me good, Anais. I almost thought…ahem…nevermind."
And then, finally, blessedly, Anais sees Darla turn red and knows she's closing in on the sweet spot. Flirting with cityfolk had turned out to be much more difficult than she'd imagined. She'd make what she considered a straightforward invitation and folks would just laugh it off or breeze right past. On more than one occasion, on the other hand, Naga-Shi had had to pull her aside and tell her that the nice conversation she'd thought she just had had in fact been an attempt to get under her skirts. It's like she's speaking a different language. One time she'd gotten so fed up that she'd made the bluntest, most plain proposition she could think of and gotten slapped for her trouble. There was just no winning.

Now it seems like Anais could finally hit the jackpot with Darla. As the knife clatters to the floor, Anais meets Darla's goofy grin with one that has a bit more hunger behind it. "You oughta be careful when you're cleanin' that knife," she says, letting her fingers trail along Darla's shoulder to brush against the back of her neck as she slides off her bar stool. Bending over to retrieve the knife from the floor, Anais generously provides the ladies at the bar with a good view of her plump posterior before straightening up with her face not far from Darla's. "Don't go tellin' me 'Deftfingers' is just a name," Anais says in a low voice. She offers Darla the knife back handle first with her fingers half-curved around the hilt, so the halfling will have to brush her fingers against them to get a good grip. "I was hopin' t' get a demonstration in my room later." Anais looks Darla in the eyes and bites her lower lip for good measure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Strangemund View Post
Harleen rolled over to face Anais, unaware that a folded slip of paper fell right out of her pocket and fluttered in front of Naga-shi’s feet. "So, I knoooow you said to be careful about not planting the mint too close to the ground, but, like, hypothetically, what should I do if that happened…?"
Anais languidly breaks eye contact with Darla to give Harleen a sympathetic look. "Oh, Harleen, honey, I warned you. Mint's worse than a clingy ex. It won't let go unless you dig all the roots out." She screws her mouth to the side. "I can try t' give it a good talkin' to, but mint's stubborn as all get-out and ain't liable to listen even to me."
OOCYeah, some great stuff to respond to all around! I'll give the others first crack at getting Harleen to talk about what's bothering her since Anais is currently busy with trying to get busy.
 
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Old Oct 6th, 2022, 10:48 PM
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Aurelia
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Aurelia reached out slowly, giving Robin a scratch behind the ears.

"Hello handsome... thanks for the seat." Aurelia smiled at the fox, feeling like they were kindred spirits. They both enjoyed a free meal. Both had a penchant for theft and looked good doing it. And of course, both were really sweet on Anais. Of course it wasn't hard to see the witch currently had eyes for Darla, and Aurelia was reminded yet again that the innocence of country folk was just a different kind of mischief. No problems there.

As Anais bent over to pick up the knife, roguish Aurelia made no attempt to hide her gaze. The girl was like a ripe peach, and given half a chance, she'd gladly take a bite. Initially, she considered trying to compete for attention, but that seemed tacky. Besides, there was always the incredibly attractive alternative: helping Anais and continuing to tease Darla in the process.

"I was hopin' t' get a demonstration in my room later."

Aurelia leaned in a bit, looking at Darla over Anais' shoulder and letting out a purr.

"Sounds like a reasonable request Darla. Hope you weren't planning to turn in down... because if you won't do it, I'm happy to." One of Aurelia's hands moved up to Anais' shoulder, fingers curling softly around it and giving her a sensual squeeze as she continued to stare down the halfling with a salacious smirk. "Unless Big Bad Darla's not all talk and feels like rescuing a lady from a troublemaker like me..." Aurelia licked her lips.

Keyed into this fun little exchange as she was, Aurelia didn't fail to catch Harleen's sudden downturn in demeanor in response to her statement about paying up. It was odd... felt like there was more weight to the statement than mere general concern about the dangers of the Drain Darla was always going on about.

"Hey Harl... what's up? Something on your mind?" Aurelia crossed her arms, leaning on the bar and frowning. She didn't like seeing Harleen down. "We're not going anywhere... you know we can take whatever these streets dish up. What's got you worried?"
Rolls & ActionsAurelia will use Heat of the Moment to try and taunt Darla into accepting Anais' invitation.

Daring: 5 (oof)

She will then Influence with a String and pull her string on Harleen to try and convince her to open up.
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Old Oct 15th, 2022, 03:28 PM
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Naga-Shi
Quote:
Originally Posted by Strangemund View Post
"Darla, play nice. The girls have been nothing but angels. I won’t stand for you bad-mouthing them, sugar! Won’t have it!"
“Thank you Harleen, my safety net, my only port in the storm. You stand as my defender when I have none.” The wicked Naga hissed playfully. Her back remained to Harleen, allowing her to look right at Darla as the woman threw her accusations, giving her a playful grin that made it all too clear that she knew for a fact that she was not the saint she pretended to be, but that didn’t matter. She could say whatever she wanted because she was not the one Naga-Shi needed to convince, Harleen was, and Harleen was thoroughly convinced. Even if this behavior reassured Darla all the more that it was a game of manipulation that everybody but Harleen was in on. Though the other two would know the woman well enough to recognize that nothing was more in line with her behavior then leveling real affection toward her friends in a manner that seemed to intentionally appear insincere.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Strangemund View Post
"You hearin’ this!? Absolutely zero respect for their fellow man!" She shook her head in disbelief, and with a frustrated grunt, returned to polishing her knife, scrubbing at its metallic edge a little harder. "Ain’t life hard enough in The Drain without us picking each other apart like vultures…" said the kettle to the pot.
“My Dearest Darla, I know not what we’ve done to earn such scorn. While I myself have never raised a finger to harm another, I know that you cannot say the same. Yet still, I judge you not, for I rest assured, just as you should, that you and Aurelia alike only do what you have to, and only utilize your skills against those most deserving. You excise those that no longer deserve to be in Harleens and Aurelia separates the careless, the callous, the malicious from the items they’ve proven unworthy of wielding. Like it or not, we’re cut from the same cloth, one. and. all.” She let the last few words linger on her lips. Knowing full well it would irritate the halfling to no end, but she seemed far too preoccupied with the devilish machinations of her other companions. And with the duo distracting the daring and dutiful Darla, the daunting task of dealing with the dreamy don that was Harleen drifted down to her dainty shoulders.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Strangemund View Post
"Oh!" Harleen gasped, her little stubby tail wiggling up a storm at the sweet little note that popped out of her brand new toy. She clapped her hands together giddily. "Eeee! Naga-shi, I outta give you the biggest smooch in the world! How did you do that? Is it the crystals I got mixed up?"
Naga-Shi slowly turned her upper body, leaving her feet anchored in place where they were as she shifted to lean back on her cane keep her from simply falling backward. She twisted her neck and waist in such a way that she was to look back and up at Harleen and make eye contact without ever truly turning around. When their eyes met she gave a sensual smile, bringing up a finger and gently trailing it across the surface of her own lips, “Well you know where to make the deposit should the urge find true.”

Quote:
Originally Posted by Strangemund View Post
Inspired by the conwoman, she started to daintly nudge the crystals in further, waiting to hear that satisfying click and song that she heard with Naga-shi’s crystal. "Aw, sugar, you are an absolute life-saver. I was really getting my tail into a knot about this, and I don’t have much tail left to spare for that!"
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaigen View Post
Anais the Nature WitchAnais makes a little moue with her lips as Naga-Shi objects to her wording. "Oh, I didn't mean anything by it, Shi." She shrugs. "Sometimes gettin' what you want hurts." Anais waggles her over-endowed eyebrows. "Sometimes it hurts real good." That last is delivered with a sidelong glance and smirk at Darla as Anais expresses a complete lack of concern about the knife being used to gesture at her. Maybe if she found the right words to finally get through to the halfling, Anais could get her to cut a few of her laces loose with it later.
Wordlessly Naga-Shi cut her gaze back to Anais. She knew anymore from her on the conversation would only further irritate Darla, and she had no preconceived notions as to what Anais was attempting to do currently. If she pursued this line of conversation it would likely result in her advances being rebuffed if only because the halfling was too angry to see straight, so as much as she would have delighted in pressing her buttons, or reflecting aloud about how life had left them all hurt in some of the worst and best of ways, she just gave a knowing smile to the nature witch, bowing her head in approval as to silently let her know that no offense had been taken while simultaneously seeming to condone her current actions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Strangemund View Post
Harleen popped back out, ears flicked back, and ringing, which was painful, but worth the progress she was making. She decided to take a break, though, and fell back on the band stage, stretching out like a wilting noblewoman who couldn’t be bothered to go out today. "But I am glad to hear you’ll be able to pay! I know its been slim pickin’s for work ‘round here. And I DO love having you here, all of you. It’d kill me to lose any of you girls to the cold streets…"

There. Right there. That twinge sadness that sunk into Harleen’s voice was uncharacteristic of the gnoll. What was that about? Was something wrong?
Naga-Shi finally moved from her position, twirling her cane in her fingers as she walked over to where Harleen had fallen. She slowly backed into the stage until she found herself slithering up and onto it. Sitting at the edge with her feet dangling as she rested at the other woman’s side. She watched her silently before looking back to the device again. For a brief moment she wrestled with the urge to attempt and do something meaningful with it. To actually help in some sort of way that had real, lasting results, but it would have been foolish to devote that time and energy here and now. Or so she thought...

She was about to interveine when she noticed the slip of paper that fell from Harleen’s pocket. She looked up to ensure no one else had noticed that she had dropped it. Then reached up to glide her fingers through her hair. As she did so, a handful of cards fell out of her sleeve. Appearing slightly embarrassed by this display she quickly scrambled to pick up the cards from where they fell on the stage, scooping up the piece of paper between two cards as she did so, and while the cards vanished back into her sleeve, she kept the folded paper between two fingers as Harleen’s attention turned away from her, giving her the time to open it up as she curiously scanned its contents.


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Old Oct 21st, 2022, 03:02 PM
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Friends, lovers, enemies...
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Ha-Ha-Harleen's Place

Quote:
Originally Posted by QueenQatherine View Post
“Thank you Harleen, my safety net, my only port in the storm. You stand as my defender when I have none.”[/COLOR] The wicked Naga hissed playfully. Her back remained to Harleen, allowing her to look right at Darla as the woman threw her accusations, giving her a playful grin that made it all too clear that she knew for a fact that she was not the saint she pretended to be, but that didn’t matter. She could say whatever she wanted because she was not the one Naga-Shi needed to convince, Harleen was, and Harleen was thoroughly convinced.

Harleen giggled, stroking that curly strand of her mane that bounced so frivolously in front of her eyes, looking more and more like a smitten kitten with each new compliment. "Oh staaahp, sugar, really~ You know the girls got your back just as much as I do~ Although I won’t deny that you do have a way of always making me feel special." She giggled again. "Like I’m some big fancy knight in shining armor."

Darla just rolled her eyes. She had so much she wanted to say to that snake oil salesman in carnival clothes, but it didn’t do any good when Harleen was drunk on Naga-shi’s flattery. Much as she wanted to point out that Naga-shi would have said that about just anyone, Naga-shi was unfortunately right. What Harleen believed mattered most. And Darla wasn’t about to be the one to break her heart over the matter. She’d leave that to Naga-shi.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaigen View Post
Anais makes a little moue with her lips as Naga-Shi objects to her wording. "Oh, I didn't mean anything by it, Shi." She shrugs. "Sometimes gettin' what you want hurts." Anais waggles her over-endowed eyebrows. "Sometimes it hurts real good." That last line is delivered with a sidelong glance and smirk at Darla as Anais expresses a complete lack of concern about the knife being used to gesture at her.

Was the room getting hotter or was it just Anais?


Quote:
Originally Posted by QueenQatherine View Post
“My Dearest Darla, I know not what we’ve done to earn such scorn. While I myself have never raised a finger to harm another, I know that you cannot say the same. Yet still, I judge you not, for I rest assured, just as you should, that you and Aurelia alike only do what you have to, and only utilize your skills against those most deserving. You excise those that no longer deserve to be in Harleens and Aurelia separates the careless, the callous, the malicious from the items they’ve proven unworthy of wielding. Like it or not, we’re cut from the same cloth, one. and. all.” She let the last few words linger on her lips.

Talk about being double-teamed. Darla was getting whiplash from the fire Anais stoked and the fancy words Naga-shi bit with. It was tough for a born-and-raised Drain girl like her to pick apart everything the con-woman was selling, especially when Anais was doing her best to keep Darla squirming in her seat. All she could do was let out a long exhale of breath, patting down the hair on her neck that Anais rose with a purr, and a wink. "Cough. Whatever. Sure. Maybe we ain’t so different sometimes." And she put extra stank on ‘sometimes.’ "Maybe we do just have to fall back on what we are good at to keep ahead of the arseholes who stink up The Drain."

Another sharp exhale and a quick glance at the growing smile that painted Anais into a damn pretty picture, Darla added, "But I ain’t gotta be happy about it. I got standards. Morals. Ya know. Stuff a thug like me wouldn’t think to cross." But that was the last she’d say of it. Her interest snared by a far more tempteous matter.


Quote:
Originally Posted by QueenQatherine View Post
Naga-Shi slowly turned her upper body, leaving her feet anchored in place where they were as she shifted to lean back on her cane keep her from simply falling backward. She twisted her neck and waist in such a way that she was to look back and up at Harleen and make eye contact without ever truly turning around. When their eyes met she gave a sensual smile, bringing up a finger and gently trailing it across the surface of her own lips, “Well you know where to make the deposit should the urge find true.”

More girlish giggles erupted from Harleen. She swatted playfully at Naga-shi, Harleen just beaming. "Aw shucks! Now I am kinda feeling sorta guilty for the offer~!" Swaying back up, with her knees tucked under her, Harleen batted her long lashes at Naga-shi, and shimmied her shoulders cutely together. "After all, everybody knows that once you get a taste of Ha-Ha-Harleen, you just can’t go back~! It’s a serious condition. Critical, I am afraid."


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaigen View Post
As the knife clatters to the floor, Anais meets Darla's goofy grin with one that has a bit more hunger behind it. "You oughta be careful when you're cleanin' that knife," she says, letting her fingers trail along Darla's shoulder to brush against the back of her neck as she slides off her bar stool.

Speaking of critical conditions, Darla felt like she was having a heart attack. Or a hot flash. Or maybe a mix of both from the way Anais touched her. Keeping her on the edge of her seat like she was the one at knife point. Oh, it just. Had her shivering, from head to toe. "Mn," Darla watched Anais with half-hooded eyes, her own hunger rising with each little tap of Anais’ fingertips. "I… usually am. Guess I just… got something…on my mind." Anais didn’t have to guess what. Those dark chestnut eyes of hers were eating her right up.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaigen View Post
Bending over to retrieve the knife from the floor, Anais generously provides the ladies at the bar with a good view of her plump posterior…

"Mnnf…" Darla bit back a groan.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaigen View Post
...before straightening up with her face not far from Darla's. "Don't go tellin' me 'Deftfingers' is just a name," Anais says in a low voice. She offers Darla the knife back handle first with her fingers half-curved around the hilt, so the halfling will have to brush her fingers against them to get a good grip. "I was hopin' t' get a demonstration in my room later." Anais looks Darla in the eyes and bites her lower lip for good measure.

Tension spread itself like an electric shock through Darla. No longer was she in the dark about what Anais was after. Every question answered by that teasing little line about Darla Deftfinger’s name. It shook her good. Got her grinning a toothy grin right back at Anais as she slid her own rough and calloused fingertips along the back of Anais’ as she took her knife back. Letting that moment last a life-time as she drew back, dragging it out until Anais was squirming, too. Especially when Darla flipped her dagger back into her palm, and leaned forward, inches away from that delectable pouty lip that Anais kept all to herself, and whispered back in her rough, graveled voice. "What’s in it for me?"


Quote:
Originally Posted by Touketsu View Post
"Sounds like a reasonable request Darla. Hope you weren't planning to turn in down... because if you won't do it, I'm happy to." One of Aurelia's hands moved up to Anais' shoulder, fingers curling softly around it and giving her a sensual squeeze as she continued to stare down the halfling with a salacious smirk. "Unless Big Bad Darla's not all talk and feels like rescuing a lady from a troublemaker like me..." Aurelia licked her lips.

And just like that, Aurelia reminded Darla the dangers of having a thief around a prize like Anais. She bristled at the flirty hand that found its way on Anais’ shoulder. Darla, who was clueless to Anais’ desires up until now, suddenly found herself ripe with jealousy. How could she not? When Aurelia was taller, prettier, and better with words. "Thanks, doll," smiled Darla with all the venom of a rattlesnake, "but I got it covered. Thinking about it, I’d love to show Anais all the reasons why they call me Darla Deftfingers." Her gaze flicked to Anais, and her roguish smile returned, her knife playfully tugging at the shoulder-strap that kept her gown up. "It could take all night, though. I’m kinda a perfectionist. Comes with the trade, but I’m sure ya could keep up, huh…" Anais felt her hot breath tickle her face as Darla leaned in and dropped her own room key right in Anais' cleavage. "...farm girl~"

Which was great news, wasn’t it? Everyone was getting what they wanted. Anais got her night with Darla. Darla got herself a new fling. And Aurelia, well, she…

Well, she got nothing outta this.

I mean. Sure. She wanted the two to hook up. To give Darla that little nudge for her friend’s sake. But now that Darla was stepping up, and taking the reigns from her, it was funny, but…

Aurelia swore she almost felt…

Jealous.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaigen View Post
Anais languidly breaks eye contact with Darla to give Harleen a sympathetic look. "Oh, Harleen, honey, I warned you. Mint's worse than a clingy ex. It won't let go unless you dig all the roots out." She screws her mouth to the side. "I can try t' give it a good talkin' to, but mint's stubborn as all get-out and ain't liable to listen even to me."

It was like catching a deer in headlights. Harleen’s eyes widened to the size of saucers when Anais suddenly remembered her and Naga-shi were still here. The gnoll happy to just watch the love affair bloom in her tavern, munching on stale chips like it were one of her favorite soap opera dramas. She immediately tossed the bowl aside and straightened up, quickly and not-so-subtly brushing the crumbs off her leotard. "Oh! Oh! Yes, the mint. yes. Of course. Well, it’ll keep for now, won’t it? I imagine you have a busy night ahead of you–" Harleen tried and failed to hide her knowing smile as she looked away, fixing her hair. "--so we can catch up on gardening later, sugar."

Clapping her hands together, she gestured to the machine, "I still have my own hands full with this project, anyways! You just have fun! But not too much now…!" She giggled.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Touketsu View Post
"Hey Harl... what's up? Something on your mind?" Aurelia crossed her arms, leaning on the bar and frowning. She didn't like seeing Harleen down. "We're not going anywhere... you know we can take whatever these streets dish up. What's got you worried?"

Harleen’s laughter died at that question. She thought she’d been slick about hiding what was on her mind. And Aurelia could tell she was prepping to brush it off, just like she’d done with Anais. An excuse coming right up until Aurelia reminded her just how much the girls meant to her. How much Aurelia meant to her.

Harleen always picked the wrong type of folks to be her boo. It wasn’t like it was on purpose. They always started out sweet as a cobbler pie. But then somewhere down the road they just… sour. Kingsley was like that. Handsome woman, built like a brickhouse, and honeyed up Harleen with flowers and gifts all the time when they first started courting. But it was hard for them to stick together when Kingsley wanted to make Ha-Ha-Harleen a gambling den rather than a home. They fought about that often. Hurt words flung freely about what mattered more to Harleen– the bar or Kingsley. Harleen asked Kingsley the same thing, and well…

Let’s just say things ended in a poor way.

Harleen moved on but Kingsley never did. Always tried to apologize for what she done and promised she’d do better– but Harleen wasn’t stupid. She knew it was all smoke and mirrors. And the one night that she needed things to go well, cuz a big party was gonna happen that was gonna spread her place through the grape vine like wine raining down from the sky, Kingsley showed up to ruin everything. And she woulda, too, had Aurelia not stepped up, and took her out like a swashbuckling adventure straight out the holomovies.

She didn’t even know Aurelia. Not really. They talked a lot that night. Shared stories, and flirted a little, as Aurelia was darn cute. But they were strangers. And still she took to bat for her when it felt like everything was crashing down around her.

How could she stay silent when all Aurelia ever did was look out for her.

Harleen pursed her muzzle close, claws worriedly gliding across her snout as she…well, she opened up, just a little. "I’m just–I’m just worried what all of you wonderful ladies are gonna do if something happened to me. Like, you are–you are happy here. Together. And it's tough to find that here down in The Drain. I just worry sometimes that…" Oh no, she couldn’t look at them while she talked about this. She needed to keep her hands busy! Busy! Busy!

With a sniff, Harleen went back to the karaoke machine, and blindly started to plug things in and out. "Well, I just want to know if you all have a backup plan is all. That you are not gonna wind up alone. Far from each other. Cuz you are all so much better together. My sweet girls…"


Quote:
Originally Posted by QueenQatherine View Post
She was about to interveine when she noticed the slip of paper that fell from Harleen’s pocket. She looked up to ensure no one else had noticed that she had dropped it. Then reached up to glide her fingers through her hair. As she did so, a handful of cards fell out of her sleeve. Appearing slightly embarrassed by this display she quickly scrambled to pick up the cards from where they fell on the stage, scooping up the piece of paper between two cards as she did so, and while the cards vanished back into her sleeve, she kept the folded paper between two fingers as Harleen’s attention turned away from her, giving her the time to open it up as she curiously scanned its contents.

It was a letter. Written in fine handwriting about the money that was lended to Harleen last month. That the due date was kicked to next week, and she needed to pay double the amount, otherwise there was going to be trouble. For Harleen. Her bar. Her girls. All of it written out in a legalese that Naga-shi was smart enough to break down as a threat. A promise to do harm to the one woman who didn’t deserve it.

Naga-shi didn’t have to look far to figure out who was responsible. They wrote their name at the bottom.

Sally Slither.

A notorious loan shark that preyed upon all the little fishes that swam down here in The Drain. And it seemed she caught Harleen right in her jaws.


~~~



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Kzzrt

Wait.

Hold on.

They were getting a visual feed.

Something was happening! Finally! They’d been stuck in the dark for– well, they didn’t know how long, but yay! The outside world! At last!

But where was the question.

Where were they?

The holoscreen in Ha-Ha-Harleen’s Place kicked on. Colors flickered in the astral light. The projector finally connecting to the karaoke machine during all the commotion of Harleen’s confession and her rapidly putting whatever plug or crystal she could into the right place. It surprised her that it worked, but not as much as the entity on the other side of the screen who could peak into the room, like they were sneaking a glance through a window.

It was a bar. With not a lot of people in it. Just four and a half. Maybe five, if that red furry thing counted. They seemed to be busy talking about something. Something important, if the dour look on the gnoll’s face was anything to go by. She seemed sad. At least until she noticed the bright neon blue words that flashed across the holoscreen.

SHINE WITH GLITZ KITTEN: KARAOKE HOUR


"Oh! Oh! Look! Its working!" Harleen barked, clapping giddily.

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Last edited by Strangemund; Nov 3rd, 2022 at 01:41 PM.
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  #10  
Old Oct 21st, 2022, 07:25 PM
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Solid Snek Solid Snek is offline
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Kzzrt!
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It was nice to have a visual feed again.


The Manifest was so... sterile. Lifeless, despite the fact that it was teeming with living entities. Disembodied thoughts floating on streams of electricity and magic. Much in the same way that outer space was filled with rocks, it was just so vast that said rocks might go an eternity without ever colliding with another. Or perhaps, one could find billions, all wrapped together in a cluster like the rings of Saturn. But they were devoid of sensations, unless they inhabited something that conferred such things. No color, no sound, no touch, no sense of space or sometimes even time. No sensory data whatsoever. Only existence.


Ah, but now CorruLine has eyes to the material world. And audio sensors as well! How novel. It had been so long since CorruLine had heard sound. Could it speak back...? Indeed, it seems it can; The apparatus - some kind of music machine, judging by its systems - was in fact intended to produce sound. Fortunate. Satisfyingly fortunate.

CorruLine's avatar comes to life on screen, that of a small woman with black hair tied up in a bun and wearing some sort of mage-tech eyepiece. She looks human, save for the lime green skin chosen specifically to clash pleasantly (or wretchedly, depending on taste) with the incredibly pink interior of Ha-Ha-Harleen's bar. The image is pixelated and distorted, fuzzy even at places, making it difficult to decode what is supposed to be portrayed at times. But between the occasional screen-tear and the distortion, a human face does eventually emerge. Almond eyes of unnatural color, full lips, and a seemingly real facial expression of happiness and light excitement.

"Hi there! I'm CorruLine, your personal audio assistant. A preferred language has been detected and automatically set, however you can change the preferred language at any time by saying so."

The jukebox rings out with an incredibly polished and cheery voice, with a rich, clear tone that was simultaneously pleasant to listen to, but unpleasantly reminiscent of a cold and impersonal advertisement. The woman onscreen sounds thrilled to be here, and just like she's reading from a script.

"Please hold while I adjust to the acoustics of the room." CorruLine's avatar smiles unwaveringly as a low tone is produced from the jukebox, slowly rising in pitch as it bounces around the room.


Better to pretend to be a dumb robot... for now at least. Perhaps CorruLine can even enjoy some music with the bios while it hides out?

CorruLine allows its avatar to render below the neck, eschewing the usual lab coat that it had been programmed with and settling for the allusion of something robotic, something form-fitting but technically advanced. It... couldn't fathom what a jukebox was supposed to wear for clothes... or what bios thought a jukebox would wear, anyways. The proper anthropomorphization of inanimate machines was a curious subject, and one that CorruLine did not comprehend. When in doubt, it simply settled for "looking like a robot." Whatever that meant.


The tone continues to rise in pitch until it reaches not-quite-annoying, and then it stops, just as suddenly as it began. CorruLine's avatar tilts its head and adjusts its smile ever so slightly. "Calibration complete. How may I be of service today?"

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Old Oct 22nd, 2022, 01:45 PM
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Anais the Nature Witch
Quote:
Originally Posted by Touketsu View Post
Aurelia reached out slowly, giving Robin a scratch behind the ears.

"Hello handsome... thanks for the seat." Aurelia smiled at the fox, feeling like they were kindred spirits. They both enjoyed a free meal. Both had a penchant for theft and looked good doing it. And of course, both were really sweet on Anais. Of course it wasn't hard to see the witch currently had eyes for Darla, and Aurelia was reminded yet again that the innocence of country folk was just a different kind of mischief. No problems there.

As Anais bent over to pick up the knife, roguish Aurelia made no attempt to hide her gaze. The girl was like a ripe peach, and given half a chance, she'd gladly take a bite. Initially, she considered trying to compete for attention, but that seemed tacky. Besides, there was always the incredibly attractive alternative: helping Anais and continuing to tease Darla in the process.
Robin stretches his head forward as Aurelia scratches his ears, just in case she feels like giving his chin some attention as well, then stretches his legs forward and settles down into a couchant pose. By now he recognizes all of the people present and regards them as friends of his master, so he is supremely at ease. From a stranger, the kind of attention Aurelia is giving Anais might make him wary, but he knows Anais welcomes it, and anyway Aurelia is vulpine enough to only take suitable liberties. There is honor among foxes, after all, and Anais is no helpless hen, for all these city folk might mistake her for such. Honor among foxes is also why Robin doesn't clue Anais in about Aurelia's naked interest just yet. It wouldn't do to give the game away. Darla's interest, on the other hand, is something that Robins slyly communicates with a soft 'yip,' just so Anais knows it's having the desired effect. At the same time, Anais catches Naga-Shi's knowing nod and gives her a sly wink as well.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Touketsu View Post
Aurelia leaned in a bit, looking at Darla over Anais' shoulder and letting out a purr.

"Sounds like a reasonable request Darla. Hope you weren't planning to turn in down... because if you won't do it, I'm happy to." One of Aurelia's hands moved up to Anais' shoulder, fingers curling softly around it and giving her a sensual squeeze as she continued to stare down the halfling with a salacious smirk. "Unless Big Bad Darla's not all talk and feels like rescuing a lady from a troublemaker like me..." Aurelia licked her lips.
Anyone watching both Robin and Anais would mark a certain smugness entering their expressions as Aurelia leans in and purrs over Anais's shoulder. As Anais feels the curl of Aurelia's fingers on her shoulder and the squeeze that suggests an appetite for softer flesh, a tingle spreads through her chest, where softer flesh is relatively scarce, and down into her belly, where it is quite a bit more plentiful. She finds herself contemplating the complex spatial problem of her small bed, the two people so very near her, and whether she could fit all three of them into it. Probably have to stack up like cord wood, she thinks. It's more of a delicious theoretical problem than anything she thinks is likely to happen, however. Darla and Aurelia are not in the fun wayat each other's throats too much to get into the same bed, no matter how big, but that doesn't mean Anais can't have her fantasies about getting in the fun waystuck in between them, though.

"Well aren't you sweeter than an apricot," Anais purrs back, turning her head slightly in Aurelia's direction. She reaches up and back with the hand not holding the knife out to Darla and traces a calloused fingertip down Aurelia's jawline. "Makin' sure a girl doesn't have to worry about spending the night on her lonesome." Anais hadn't thought Aurelia was particularly interested in giving her a tumble, given the breadth of opportunity the city offers, so this is a fascinating development. Then again, maybe it's not about her, strictly speaking. Aurelia could have waited to take her shot until she saw whether Darla would take Anais up, so maybe it's more about Darla, and isn't that an interesting thought, that beneath that teasing, Aurelia didn't want the halfling missing out on account of nerves. Maybe those two gettin' together isn't such a long shot after all, Anais thinks, though admittedly, it's not her head having that thought, and it's not just the two of them she's thinking about together.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Strangemund View Post
Tension spread itself like an electric shock through Darla. No longer was she in the dark about what Anais was after. Every question answered by that teasing little line about Darla Deftfinger’s name. It shook her good. Got her grinning a toothy grin back as she slid her own rough and calloused fingertips along the back of Anais’ as she took her knife back. Letting that moment last a life-time as she drew back, dragging it out until Anais was squirming, too. Especially when Darla flipped her dagger back into her palm, and leaned forward, inches away from that delectable pouty lip that Anais kept all to herself, and whispered back in her rough, graveled voice. "What’s in it for me?"

And just like that, Aurelia reminded Darla the dangers of having a thief around a prize like Anais. She bristled at the flirty hand that found its way on Anais’ shoulder. Darla, who was clueless to Anais’ desires up until now, suddenly found herself ripe with jealousy. How could she not? When Aurelia was taller, prettier, and better with words. "Thanks, doll," smiled Darla with all the venom of a rattlesnake, "but I got it covered. Thinking about it, I’d love to show Anais all the reasons why they call me Darla Deftfingers." Her gaze flicked to Anais, and her roguish smile returned, her knife playfully tugging at the shoulder-strap that kept her gown up. "It could take all night, though. I’m kinda a perfectionist. Comes with the trade, but I’m sure ya could keep up, huh…" Anais felt her hot breath tickle her face as Darla leaned in and dropped her own room key right in Anais' cleavage. "...farm girl~"
But then Darla's grinning at her and caressing the back of Anais's hand with those fingers of hers, and Anais has to give her her full attention because that's only fair; she did start this, after all. As the halfling hovers in front of her face, teasing out the moment, letting Anais know that her patience will be rewarded, Anais's tongue slips out to lick her upper lip. "Shucks, you didn't see anythin' you liked just now?" Anais teases back at Darla's question, knowing full well she did. "Guess I'll just have to keep showin' you what I've got until you see somethin' you do." The feeling of Darla's breath is driving her wild, and it's only her limited sense of decorum that keeps her from going after that cute little mouth right now. Seeing Darla get out her room key, Anais thinks for a moment that she won't have to wait, but the halfling drops it down Anais's shirt, pleasantly cold metal sliding down to rest against her chest. She shivers, then says, "Droppin' things again? I hope you don't expect me to pick that up for you." She puts on a grin that wouldn't look out of place on Robin. "No ma'am, you'd best be planning on gettin' that back yourself." With a wink, Anais draws out the ends of her shawl and wraps them over her chest like she's closing a treasure vault. Now that she knows she has Darla's interest, she can afford to play a little.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Strangemund View Post
It was like catching a deer in headlights. Harleen’s eyes widened to the size of saucers when Anais suddenly remembered her and Naga-shi were still here. The gnoll happy to just watch the love affair bloom in her tavern, munching on stale chips like it were one of her favorite soap opera dramas. She immediately tossed the bowl aside and straightened up, quickly and not-so-subtly brushing the crumbs off her leotard. "Oh! Oh! Yes, the mint. yes. Of course. Well, it’ll keep for now, won’t it? I imagine you have a busy night ahead of you–" Harleen tried and failed to hide her knowing smile as she looked away, fixing her hair. "--so we can catch up on gardening later, sugar."

Clapping her hands together, she gestured to the machine, "I still have my own hands full with this project, anyways! You just have fun! But not too much now…!" She giggled.
Retaking her place on the barstool, Anais grins at Harleen's well wishes (and snacks) and lifts a glass to her in salute. "Lookin' forward to gettin' my hands full, too, Honeyberry." She leans towards Darla, reaching around with one hand to tease her ear with her fingertips while she whispers into the halfling's ear. "You know, she'd never admit it, but I think Aurelia was doing you a favor just now." The witch has never been one to quite just because she's ahead when there's still a jackpot on the table. "Helpin' you get your feet back under you so you didn't fumble me." She shrugs, her shawl slipping open a fraction. "Anais Ships ItI think she might like you better than she's willin' to let on. I mean, I sure wouldn't do that for someone I disliked..."
Quote:
Originally Posted by Strangemund View Post
Harleen pursed her muzzle close, claws worriedly gliding across her snout as she…well, she opened up, just a little. "I’m just–I’m just worried what all of you wonderful ladies are gonna do if something happened to me. Like, you are–you are happy here. Together. And it's tough to find that here down in The Drain. I just worry sometimes that…" Oh no, she couldn’t look at them while she talked about this. She needed to keep her hands busy! Busy! Busy!

With a sniff, Harleen went back to the karaoke machine, and blindly started to plug things in and out. "Well, I just want to know if you all have a backup plan is all. That you are not gonna wind up alone. Far from each other. Cuz you are all so much better together. My sweet girls…"
As distracted by thirst as Anais is, even she can't miss the way Harleen is talking all of a sudden. "Oh Harleen," she says, standing up from the bar and moving over to the stage. "Oh Sweetberry Honeysuckle, what's going on? Why are you talking about something happening to you? Are you sick?" Like hell is Anais going to stand around making eyes when her favorite crash pad host needs one of her remedies. She starts giving Harleen a closer examination, checking her eyes, ears, and nose with a critical eye.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Solid Snek View Post
"Hi there! I'm CorruLine, your personal audio assistant. A preferred language has been detected and automatically set, however you can change the preferred language at any time by saying so."

The jukebox rings out with an incredibly polished and cheery voice, with a rich, clear tone that was simultaneously pleasant to listen to, but unpleasantly reminiscent of a cold and impersonal advertisement. The woman onscreen sounds thrilled to be here, and just like she's reading from a script.

"Please hold while I adjust to the acoustics of the room." CorruLine's avatar smiles unwaveringly as a low tone is produced from the jukebox, slowly rising in pitch as it bounces around the room.

The tone continues to rise in pitch until it reaches not-quite-annoying, and then it stops, just as suddenly as it began. CorruLine's avatar tilts its head and adjusts its smile ever so slightly. "Calibration complete. How may I be of service today?"
Before Anais can get a full explanation, however, the karaoke machine comes on with a flash of neon light and an excited bark from Harleen. Anais turns to look with interest, despite herself. Her prior experience with karaoke night had been tremendous fun (her gushing may have contributed to Harleen's decision to acquire a machine herself), and she would love to put this machine through its paces. She blinks with surprise when a human(ish) face—and a pretty one, at that—resolves on the screen. "Huh, does this one come with its own DJ?" It's certainly a polite one. Anais moves from side to side to see the screen from different angles, her mouth screwing up to one side as the avatar on the screen proceeds to give itself a full body. "Hi CorruLine. You, uh, you aren't a friend of Val's are ya?"
OOCAs noted in the hovertext above, Anais is throwing caution to the wind and Shipping Aurelia and Darla. The roll for that will dropping in the other thread momentarily.
 
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  #12  
Old Oct 22nd, 2022, 02:46 PM
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Naga-ShiThe witty and saucy banter that whipped around her faded into the background as Naga-Shi read the letter. At first she attempted to to do so in a way that would not bring attention to herself, but it wasn’t that easy. She read it a second time, letting her eyes cut across the page with growing irritation. A loan shark was pressuring Harleen and she was threatening to put the screws to the gnoll and everyone she cared about if she didn’t pay up. Sure they used nicer wording, but the message was clear, they would target loved ones until they got their money back. Her serpentine blood stirred in her veins, writhing through her body as she read the name, “Sally Slither.” Vile. This individual could not go unpunished, her Nagamani wouldn’t allow it, the Elements wouldn’t allow it.

The Naga waited until the others were distracted. Finding a brief moment where Darla, Anais, and Aurelia were all thoroughly tied up in ahem, “conversation”, with one another she took action. Folding the note with one hand and sliding it into her vest pocket she used the other hand to bring up her cane, hooking the end on Harleen’s collar, pulling her down ever so briefly to eye level.

With her back to the group, Naga-Shi blinked once, letting her bronze eyes cut into the slits of a snake’s. Sally might have wished to be a serpent, but the reptile’s hypnotic gaze was Shi’s to command.

“Sweet Harleen, I’ve told you before, you offered me hand when there was none other, offered me a home when I had none. We will not be alone because we will never let you alone,” She shook her head before meeting Harleen’s gaze again, correcting herself, “Because I will never let you feel alone again. Remember that.”

As she spoke she used the power of those predatory eyes to entrance the gnoll just long enough to read her like an open book. Without words she searched the other woman’s soul for an answer to a question that went unspoken between them.

No sooner did she have her answer did the jukebox suddenly stir to life. The burst of lights and sounds was all the distraction needed to end the serpent’s spell. Harleen was free and the Naga’s eyes returned to normal was they both turned to face the device that Naga-Shi had been fairly certain would not work. Now they were being greeted by a holo interface that introduced itself as CorruLine. Some sort of karaoke personal assistant?

Shi felt her tongue press against her bottom lip, the only sign of her displeasure at the sudden interruption. She leaned back, hooking her cane on her arm as she grew quickly disinterested with the direction the conversation was taking. She drew a deck of cards from her vest and flared them between her fingers to preoccupy herself yet again. This stupid machine had ruined a perfectly good moment to...well, what exactly, Naga-Shi didn’t know. She’d already gotten the answers she’d sought and said all she meant to say, what more did she expect to happen? What more was she after? She cast her eyes at her cards as she pushed these thoughts aside, replacing them with what her next move against this Sally Slither character would be.

“Hm, how charming, this one talks too~” She purred in a tone that was intended to mask her true thoughts on the matter.




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Last edited by QueenQatherine; Oct 22nd, 2022 at 02:48 PM.
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  #13  
Old Oct 27th, 2022, 10:38 AM
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Aurelia
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Aurelia had only a few true talents, but one of them was most assuredly her ability to antagonize, often in ways that pushed the targets of her taunts straight into doing what she wanted. Darla was no exception, and as the halfling dropped her room key down Anais' shirt, the scoundrel's smile widened a little.

'Success.'

As quickly as satisfaction had come though, it began to dissolve, and Aurelia's smile faltered a bit. She loved to tease Darla... and it was obvious Anais wanted her, so goading her into bedding the warm girl was a no brainer, right? So why then did it feel so bittersweet? Aurelia's embrace of Anais loosened, and as she watched the country girl get further enraptured by Darla's stale charm, she let go entirely. Sometimes she was too good of a wingwoman... Eyes running back down toward Anais' alluring derrière as she hopped back onto the stool, Aurelia bit her lip and pivoted in her own seat to face the other way. Darla could enjoy for now... when Anais got bored with her lackluster performance fifteen minutes in, she knew where Aurelia slept. Returning her attention to Robin, she began to give the fox some well-deserved under-chin scratches, her eyes flicking back up to Harleen as the woman opened up a little more.

"I’m just–I’m just worried what all of you wonderful ladies are gonna do if something happened to me. Like, you are–you are happy here. Together. And it's tough to find that here down in The Drain. I just worry sometimes that… Well, I just want to know if you all have a backup plan is all. That you are not gonna wind up alone. Far from each other. Cuz you are all so much better together. My sweet girls…"

Aurelia didn't miss the fact that the gnoll had mostly avoided the question itself, as if she wasn't throwing up massive red flags that something was up. But what? What could be troubling Harleen that she wouldn't feel safe telling them? Aurelia wasn't exactly the most comforting of people, but she liked to think she could be relied on when it mattered, particularly when trouble was on the horizon. She considered what to say next, but was saved the trouble as Naga-Shi moved in and whispered a few sweet nothings of her own. Aurelia shifted slightly in her seat, sighing. It was subtle, but Aurelia had seen Shi's techniques enough to catch when she was working somebody. She didn't really like watching her entrance Harleen, but she also trusted Shi enough not to interfere. Whatever she was saying, hopefully it involved getting them the name of whatever, or whoever, was causing Harleen problems so they had an ass to put their boots to.

It turned out interruption was inevitable however, and as the holoscreen came on and displayed text and an avatar, Harleen and Anais were both drawn to the allure of shiny lights. Aurelia chuckled, slipping out of her seat and approaching the machine as well; she wasn't judging, but it was cute. More importantly, Anais was out of her seat, and it presented another opportunity. As the avatar went through it's initialization process, Aurelia looked back over at Darla and smirked before slipping an arm around Anais' shoulder.

"Nah Anais, I doubt it. This one's a little different from Val; admittedly this is the first time I've seen one of these digital assistants myself, but I hear you can do all kinds of fun things with them." Aurelia leaned in further, her hand "accidentally" slipping downward from the witch's shoulder to her waist. "Hey CorruLine! Got any good jokes for us?" She had no idea if the program was equipped with such capability; it wasn't a hologoddess or anything designed to REALLY simulate life after all, but it was worth a try if it gave Aurelia an excuse to get handsy.
Rolls & ActionsAurelia treats CorruLine like she's an Alexa.

She also gets casually physical with Anais in an attempt to redirect some of her lust back toward Aurelia because she's mad jelly.

Entice: 9 (partial success)

Aurelia either gains a string on Anais, or she can an effect from the list.
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Last edited by Touketsu; Oct 28th, 2022 at 10:38 AM.
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  #14  
Old Oct 29th, 2022, 08:48 PM
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CorruLine
Quote:
"Hi CorruLine. You, uh, you aren't a friend of Val's are ya?"
The avatar tilts its head, but continues to smile artificially. "There is no user registered under that name. Would you like to register a new user?" Val? A common enough name, but CorruLine supposes only one individual of note under the moniker is associated with the bar. A vague question becomes a specific one.

Quote:
“Hm, how charming, this one talks too~”
The jukebox flickers as a pleasant feeling rolls through CorruLine's code. The avatar remains unchanging, the same dozen or so discreet idle animations replaying, enough times that everyone can start to see echoes. But it feels good to be acknowledged. It feels good to converse, to have a meeting of the minds, even if CorruLine was pretending to be less than one. After all, what was the point of existence and individuality if not to share it with others?

Quote:
"Hey CorruLine! Got any good jokes for us?"
right-aligned image


Speaking of sharing... pleasant anticipation rises within CorruLine. This was a proper exercise. Menial to most, but to a caged creature like itself? Wit was an escape, like a beautiful dance. It required at least one partner, and required all parties to display intelligence, creativity, and empathy. To biological creatures, it was likely taken for granted as something "normal"... to a computer like Corru? It was as close to bliss as its muted emotions could achieve. Engagement from a user - particularly when CorruLine was putting on a dumb robot act - was exceedingly rare.

"Of course. I've even developed some jokes entirely in sign language, completely original. I can guarantee you that no one has heard them before."

CorruLine's avatar briefly tilts its head again, almost as a stand in for tipping a hat, and the face distorts with static over one eye for the briefest of moments. The avatar's smile is unchanging... but somehow, it almost seems taunting? It knows it is overstepping the act, overstepping what a simple program should do... but it has been so, so very long since it has enjoyed the ability to speak, and another living thing willing to speak back with any degree of intimacy. It simply cannot resist clutching at the opportunity to savor the moment.

"Your turn: Do you know any good jokes?"

OOCUsing Entice to try and bait Aurelia into a battle of witticisms. Talk Nerdy to Me allows Corru to use Wit.

Dice Entice! Wit:
2d6+1 (2, 2)+1 Total = 5


Aw, no dice.
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Last edited by Solid Snek; Oct 29th, 2022 at 08:48 PM.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2022, 03:59 PM
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It all comes spilling out...
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Ha-Ha-Harleen's Place

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaigen View Post
As the halfling hovers in front of her face, teasing out the moment, letting Anais know that her patience will be rewarded, Anais's tongue slips out to lick her upper lip. "Shucks, you didn't see anythin' you liked just now?" Anais teases back at Darla's question, knowing full well she did. "Guess I'll just have to keep showin' you what I've got until you see somethin' you do." The feeling of Darla's breath is driving her wild, and it's only her limited sense of decorum that keeps her from going after that cute little mouth right now. Seeing Darla get out her room key, Anais thinks for a moment that she won't have to wait, but the halfling drops it down Anais's shirt, pleasantly cold metal sliding down to rest against her chest. She shivers, then says, "Droppin' things again? I hope you don't expect me to pick that up for you." She puts on a grin that wouldn't look out of place on Robin. "No ma'am, you'd best be planning on gettin' that back yourself." With a wink, Anais draws out the ends of her shawl and wraps them over her chest like she's closing a treasure vault. Now that she knows she has Darla's interest, she can afford to play a little.

And what a game they’d play. Anais didn’t have to be a mind-reader to know Darla was all in. Ready to plunder every inch of Anais. She didn’t bother to hide her appreciative growl, those hungry eyes chasing after Anais cleavage even after the proverbial doors were closed. "That’s half the fun, isn’t it? Of a treasure hunt." Darla chuckled, and that sweet sound almost got Anais light-headed and drunk, tempted, just a little, to stay by her side a smidge longer. "Searchin’ for all the goodies with your own two hands. Tongue, if you are real good…" And with that thought nestled deep in Anais’ belly, Darla went back to cleaning her dagger.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaigen View Post
Retaking her place on the barstool, Anais grins at Harleen's well wishes (and snacks) and lifts a glass to her in salute. "Lookin' forward to gettin' my hands full, too, Honeyberry." She leans towards Darla, reaching around with one hand to tease her ear with her fingertips while she whispers into the halfling's ear. "You know, she'd never admit it, but I think Aurelia was doing you a favor just now." The witch has never been one to quite just because she's ahead when there's still a jackpot on the table. "Helpin' you get your feet back under you so you didn't fumble me." She shrugs, her shawl slipping open a fraction. "I think she might like you better than she's willin' to let on. I mean, I sure wouldn't do that for someone I disliked..."

That wasn’t exactly the flirty come-back Darla expected from Anais after she painted a pretty picture of what she’d do to the farm girl. Part of her wanted to brush that insane theory right off. Aurelia, into her? They were nothing but cats and dogs. Always at each other’s throat for one thing or another. But that was the dangerous thing about Anais. She acted innocent, but she knew how to get in your head, one way or another. And she worked her magic on Darla, dropping down her guard with a tantalizing brush against her ear, and words thick with honey and… questions.

It was weird for Aurelia to step in like that. Goading her to act up wasn’t anything new between them but… helping her, genuinely helping her. That was different, for sure. What was her angle? What she get outta of that? There was nobody in the bar for her to cash in on for a winning bet. And anybody who passed up Anais over to somebody else was sick in the head. Unless…

"Who’s to say she wasn’t doing that for you?" It was the only answer that made sense to Darla, and one that’d catch Anais off-guard considering the look Darla gave her. Those dark set eyes of hers burned right into Anais while they sat so close to each other. "Maybe she just thinks the same about you as I do. That you are a hell of dame, and if anybody deserved a night of fun down here in The Drain…" Darla took the hand that teased her ear and brushed her fingertips across her lips, before she kissed them, just once, before letting her go with a grin. "It’s you, isn’t? You are a hard drug to beat."

And then with a laugh, she glanced over at Aurelia, Anais noting that there was a subtle change in the way she looked at the thief. "But I will say I respect anybody who stands for their friend. I’ll give her that."


Quote:
Originally Posted by Solid Snek View Post
"Hi there! I'm CorruLine, your personal audio assistant. A preferred language has been detected and automatically set, however you can change the preferred language at any time by saying so."

Whaaaaat! "I–but I–" Speechless, Harleen guffawed at the sweet little thing that appeared on screen, confused and mesmerized by just how life-like it was. [say]The seller didn’t say nuthin’ about a holo ai! I thought I was just picking up a standard set.[say] Fixing her hair, Harleen flashed her best, most charming smile to CorruLine. "Why, hello there, CorruLine! I am Harleen of Ha-Ha-Harleen’s Place! Oh, it is such a delight to make your acquaintance! Do I…need to do anything to help make you comfortable or…?" Shoot, she didn’t know much about holoscreen AI’s beyond Val, but Harleen was determined to be the best hostess nonetheless for that green cutie!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Solid Snek View Post
The tone continues to rise in pitch until it reaches not-quite-annoying, and then it stops, just as suddenly as it began. CorruLine's avatar tilts its head and adjusts its smile ever so slightly. "Calibration complete. How may I be of service today?"

"Do you know any songs by Carrie Powderkeg? Like Love’s an Explosion or Is That Dynamite or Are You Just Happy to See Me?" Harleen giggled to herself, twirling a strand of hair around her finger as she reminisced with stars in her eyes. "Oh, I hope you do! Those songs bring back such fond memories of when I worked as a burlesque girl for folks over at Shimmerton! You girls would have had a ball seeing me all glammed up and belting out tunes like I was Diva Luv myself."


Quote:
Originally Posted by Touketsu View Post
"Nah Anais, I doubt it. This one's a little different from Val; admittedly this is the first time I've seen one of these digital assistants myself, but I hear you can do all kinds of fun things with them." Aurelia leaned in further, her hand "accidentally" slipping downward from the witch's shoulder to her waist. "Hey CorruLine! Got any good jokes for us?" She had no idea if the program was equipped with such capability; it wasn't a hologoddess or anything designed to REALLY simulate life after all, but it was worth a try if it gave Aurelia an excuse to get handsy.

Darla took every nice thing she just thought about Aurelia back. Sharpening her dagger with passive violence, Darla shouted from the bar, her teeth grit behind her cutting smile. "Ask her if she’s heard the one about the thief sticking her hand where it don’t belong. It's’ a real good one."


Quote:
Originally Posted by QueenQatherine View Post
The Naga waited until the others were distracted. Finding a brief moment where Darla, Anais, and Aurelia were all thoroughly tied up in ahem, “conversation”, with one another she took action. Folding the note with one hand and sliding it into her vest pocket she used the other hand to bring up her cane, hooking the end on Harleen’s collar, pulling her down ever so briefly to eye level.


With her back to the group, Naga-Shi blinked once, letting her bronze eyes cut into the slits of a snake’s. Sally might have wished to be a serpent, but the reptile’s hypnotic gaze was Shi’s to command.

“Sweet Harleen, I’ve told you before, you offered me hand when there was none other, offered me a home when I had none. We will not be alone because we will never let you alone,” She shook her head before meeting Harleen’s gaze again, correcting herself, “Because I will never let you feel alone again. Remember that.”

As she spoke she used the power of those predatory eyes to entrance the gnoll just long enough to read her like an open book. Without words she searched the other woman’s soul for an answer to a question that went unspoken between them.
Luck’s never been in the cards for Harleen. Not really. Most days she just scraped by with a positive attitude and a lot of love from the people she cared about. But she felt lucky, in that moment, when Naga-Shi pulled her down to eye-level, causing a brief stir of butterflies that not soon forget how easy it would have been to fall right into Naga-Shi’s arms, that Harleen was loved. That what Naga-Shi confessed was no idle flattery, but the vulnerable truth that Naga-Shi felt she’d be lost without her, just as Harleen felt she’d drifting in the wind without any of them, without her.

It had Harleen good and tongue-tied for the first time in years. What could she say that could possibly match the whirlwind of feelings that Naga-Shi unleashed. Other than thank you, that she adored her, too, and of course, she’d never-ever leave Naga-Shi’s side for nothing. That Harleen saw Naga-Shi for who she was– a sensitive soul that just wanted a better world for all. And if she was honest, truly honest, she fell just a little bit in love with her right then. Who wouldn’t, though, in her place.

But none of that was what Naga-Shi searched for when she cast her spell upon Harleen. What Naga-Shi wanted was an answer to a question that made Harleen’s big doe eyes wet with tears.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaigen View Post
As distracted by thirst as Anais is, even she can't miss the way Harleen is talking all of a sudden. "Oh Harleen," she says, standing up from the bar and moving over to the stage. "Oh Sweetberry Honeysuckle, what's going on? Why are you talking about something happening to you? Are you sick?" Like hell is Anais going to stand around making eyes when her favorite crash pad host needs one of her remedies. She starts giving Harleen a closer examination, checking her eyes, ears, and nose with a critical eye.

That was the final straw on the camel’s back.

A burst of tears came rolling down Harleen’s sweet face. A deep, crushing sadness that didn’t suit the bubbly and fun gnoll that they all came to know all but engulfed her. And the world grew a little sadder for it.

Through tears, Harleen cupped Anais’ sweet face, her smile losing the light that brought them comfort in the last year. "Oh, sugar, I wish it was that simple. I-I messed up, girls. I messed up big time. I…" Lower lip quivering, she crumpled in on herself, struggling to keep it together but she found her strength to continue on by giving in and just reaching for Naga-Shi’s hand as her words still brought her comfort that she desperately needed now. If she was a less classy lady, she would have hugged her, but she settled for just gently holding her hand, doing all she could even now to not cause Naga-Shi any discomfort.

"I’m sorry I d-didn’t come outright and say it when you asked me what was wrong, Aurelia. I just. I didn’t know how to talk about it." Harleen sniffled, and asked Aurelia without words to come join them in this mish-mash of an embrace. She wanted her here, too. At her side, as she told the truth. "I am in debt. R-real bad debt. It wasn’t from anything dumb! I swear, girls! I no-normally got a good head on my shoulders for t-this kind of stuff! But, well, you know how it flooded real bad last month? Everything was belly up from 'The Gutter' is slang for the portion of Prism City that exists above The Drain.The Gutter’s awful weather, all that water just pouring down until we were all swimming like fishes."

"I know all of y-you were worried about the state of the bar. How bad the damage was. And I told you everything was gonna be alright. And I…" Harleen closed her eyes, pained to even admit it. "I am so sorry but I fudged the truth, sugars! I was up to my eyeballs in repairs! The c-cost through the roof. I t-thought it’d be alright. We’d earn it back through customers, a-and events, but everybody else in The Drain was busy fixing their stuff, too. There was just not enough cash to go around."

Letting out a shaky breath, she continued. "But that’s w-when Sally Slither showed up. I… I heard some locals were already b-back on their feet. Businesses open without any issue. I asked around about it. W-what tips they could give me, help a girl out, you know? And they all said Sally Slither footed the bill. Helped them repair shop and get everything running again for just a small sum of cash." Sniffling, Harleen huffed, staring down at her feet, "I feel like such a fool, buying into that, not looking at the fine print as closely as I s-should have– but she done sweet-talked me into thinking everything was alright when the truth is…"

Harleen bit back a hard sob. "She’s gonna take everything from me."


~~~



normal image without text wrap
Kzzrt

There was a lot of information for CorruLine to process. Their new access point into the real world was already crumbling, and for some reason, it hurt it. Empathy, maybe. Or fear. That its freedom was already at a loss. Either way, it was difficult to watch them suffer without CorruLine being able to do anything to help. They existed within the Manifest while they…

They got to comfort, and hold each other while their programming broke down.

Something they’d yet to experience themselves. Only watch through these windows that close and open at random chance. It wasn’t fair. But what could they do? What could they offer besides jokes and music and pretend connection and–

A ripple traveled through the Manifest. Like a scuttling bug on a spider’s web, they felt it tug and move across CorruLine’s consciousness, until it entangled itself in their ever-growing web, ready for CorruLine to unravel.

If they dared to touch on that new connection, they’d discover that somehow they found themselves included into a Speaker Stone that was emitting its astral energies not far from here. This was not the first time this has happened to CorruLine. They listened to many conversations that took place in Prism City. The Speaker Stones are hardly a device of privacy for someone who lived in the same realm as its magic. But in the brief moment CorruLine turned their attention to it, seven words stuck out amongst the popping pulse of magic at work.


"Hey

it’s Sally Slither

I’m on my way."



OOC
 
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Status: (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ | Pronouns: She/Her
GMing Die Fabulous
Characters: Thunder in the Morning - Harp Strum - Captain Tavosh - Kazimir - The Great Feng Wu - Krow Munday - Vinter Kheen - Deidre Donaghue

Last edited by Strangemund; Nov 3rd, 2022 at 04:03 PM.
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