Game Thread Chapter 1: Falling Blossoms in the Moonlight - RPG Crossing
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Old Aug 9th, 2011, 01:13 AM
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Chapter 1: Falling Blossoms in the Moonlight

Somewhere in SharanalThe young man staggers down the alleyway. Sweat beads down his pale face as he stumbles from one wall to the next. One hand clutches his right thigh while the other his chest. He stops shy of a back doorway that leads into some shop and falls to his knees. He inhales sharply.

”Dear me…Johannes, you should really know better than to be running outside in your condition.” A rather soft man’s voice comes from just behind him. Johannes, the young man, whips his head around and his eyes widen in fear. ”After all, I hear all of that physical exertion only causes the wounds to worsen. I am very good at what I do, dear Johannes. I fear you will only make things more problematic for yourself if you put too much effort into trying to flee.” The voice stops for a moment. ”You see dear boy, your wounds, in and of themselves, are not particularly fatal. Painful? Certainly. Designed to cripple you temporarily? Without a doubt. Going to kill you? Not if you cooperate.”

Johannes hears a couple of foot steps behind him and the voice steps into view. A rather tall man dressed in a dark black cloak and wearing a white mask comes out of the shadows. One hand darts out from under the cloak revealing a small but gleaming silver dagger. The blade dances across the man’s fingers…going over and under and around. The man stops the weapon, holding it in his hand. He runs his thumb the length of the blade.

”You see, Johannes, what I require is rather simple. Unfortunately, though, you are making acquiring what I need to be rather…difficult. “ The man seems lost in his own conversation, so Johannes shakily returns to his feet. The young man takes a few uncertain steps but folds under the pain of his wounds. He lands on the earth with a thud and tries to raise his body up but is unable to.

”If you cut just the right spots on a person, certain areas of the thigh and calf, you make it rather difficult for them to run…hell, you can make it rather difficult for them to move for the rest of their natural lives.” The blade begins to dance across the cloaked man’s fingers once more. He closes the distance to Johannes in few sweeping steps and kneels down next to the young man. His free hand reaches into the folds of his cloak and pulls out a vial of viscous looking emerald liquid.

Johannes cannot actually see the man’s face, but the young man knows a smile lies behind that mask.

”Tell me what I want to know Johannes and I leave this vial behind for you to fix up your wounds at your leisure. Continue to be…obstinate and I will be forced to poor it down your throat now and then we will start this whole process over again.” The masked man draws the blade of his dagger gently across Johannes’s face.

Tears are now mixing with the beads of sweat on Johannes’s face. He lets out a soft sob and closes his eyes. He feels the man’s finger press to his lips.

”Shhhhhh…tell me what I want to know.”

Johannes begins to whisper and the man leans in and nods. ”Thank you, Johannes.”

Suddenly a gleam of silver in the night’s air appears and disappears into the young man’s side. He lurks up off the ground and clutches the masked man in pain. The masked man’s dagger is plunged deep into Johannes’s side. That hand releases the dagger and quickly returns to the folds of the cloak. Another flash of silver and suddenly blood bursts out of a large slash mark across Johannes’s neck. The young man gives several wet and violet coughs as he clings tighter to the man who has stabbed him. This does not last. Johannes collapses into a heap of blood and silence.

”Those wounds on the other hand are particularly fatal.” The mask man remarks to no one special. The masked man rises to his feet and brushes cloak. He frowns at the deep red splashes of blood that now cover most of the exterior of his cloak. He returns the bloody knife to the folds of his cloak and uncorks the vial in his other hand. He carefully pours the thick liquid out of the vial and onto the bloodstains. When the vial is empty, he pockets it once more. He then carefully rubs the patches of bloodstains together. The mixture fizzes, bubbles, and pops for a few moments but then vanishes along with the bloodstains on the cloak.

In the distance, a ball of green light shoots into the air and explodes in a balloon of emerald, lavender, and blue sparks.

The masked man’s face turns toward the display.

”If you’ll excuse me Johannes, I have another function that I must attend…a party if you will.” He turns away from the body but stops for a moment and turns back. His hand returns to the folds of his cloak and this time it produces a purple lotus blossom. The man kneels and places the blossom over the knife still stuck in Johannes’s side. ”That is a gift from my employer. Not my personal taste for a job such as this…but I am told that the particulars of this job matter. I’m not the type prone to ask questions, though. Sometimes can knowing too much can be a little dangerous. Wouldn’t you agree, Johannes? ”

The man stands once more and stares at the body for a few moments. He then turns quickly on his heel and walks away. Another ball of light shoots into the black sky releasing ruby sparks in brilliant sphere.


The summer sun has begun to fall beneath the western skyline. Its brilliant dying beams cast pale rods of golden light across the city of Sharanal. The city’s bustle does not seem to be dying with the sunlight though. As the sun sinks from view, the magical lamps that line the streets of the City of Tears begin to flicker on. Droves of people flock to the streets where vendors have set up stalls dispensing drink and food to any and all. Is your taste fish in sauce? That’s there. A fine bit of lamb on some bread? You’ve got it. A hunk of venison medium rare splayed out in your hand? You could find that too. The smell of herbs and wine, beer and baking fill the streets along with the laughter chatter of people. Young women and girls dressed in deep shades of green, red, and purple pass lotus blossoms out to any and all who will take them. This is one of Sharanal’s few celebrations: the Lotus Festival.

The affairs in the streets and along Trader’s Way are not the only events in Sharanal. Deep within the shaded reaches of the Royal Gardens lies the Yerringdale Manor. Here a grand gala affair is held. Within its sprawling gardens and halls, the most prestigious of the Lotus Festival's events takes place. The guest list appears to be randomly generated as all walks of life are well represented at the ball. Street urchins mingle with senator’s daughters, the rich and poor laugh with one another, and the sailor and merchant king share a drink. No social norm is respected within the Lotus Masquerade Ball.

Guests begin arriving at the grounds of Yerringdale around sunset. Nobles arrive in chariots and the poor arrive on foot. All are clad in costumes. Some are elaborate and others are simple. Some are heroes of old and others are villains of legend.

You manage to arrive at the gates at dusk. Several guards and staff run about the area outside the gates checking invitations and helping the various lords and ladies out of their carriages. Guards patrol the grounds beyond the gates too. They keep a watchful eye on the guests and stop and chat with those guests whose costumes include parts that could be construed as weapons. Most of the guests are allowed to pass unmolested, but a few rather boisterous guests had some of their weapons confiscated. You make it through the gates with little trouble and are unleashed on the splendor of the grounds.

Great chains of lotuses hang in the air and around the iron work of the grounds. Greens, purples, reds, blues, and yellows form a dazzling display of flowers that cover most of the grounds. Swathes of cloth hang amid the or near the flowers adding accents and complimenting covers to an already impressive floor arrangement. Two fountains of white marble dominate the front of this section of the garden. A beautiful elven maiden stands across the path from a dashing elven gentlemen. Their hands are extended to one another, forming an arch down the center path, almost touching but forever frozen in stone a few inches from one another. The water of these two statues pours from the mouths of serpents that entwine the elves. This part of the statue provides a stark contrast to the two lovers with the serpents being made from a near flawless black marble.

Guests mingle around the two statues and servants pass out drinks and food. A few jugglers are performing acts with rather large crowds watching them, a mime performs a rather odd...lude looking piece to the giggles of many masked young women. Toward the west end of the garden lies a wrought-iron gate. Two men who seem to stretch in all the wrong places, arms of unusual proportion and length and shoulders that appear a little too slanted to be natural, stand near the gates. Mouths open wide revealing a series of mismatched teeth. A short stubby one here, a fang there. Shirtless with trousers in a state of disrepair, both wear jester's caps that hang down over there eyes (shears have at one point made the appropriate holes) and appear to have seen better days. Random threads hang out at various angles and one of the points on each hat seems to be fraying apart.

Your attention turns from the two men for a moment back to the more pleasant parts of the celebration. The aroma of wine, beer, herbed chicken and roasting boar wafts across the garden. Several dancers take places near the statues and begin a routine that involves a series of twists and turns you are certain no human should be able to perform. A man whose belly seems to be bursting out of the scarlet vest he is wearing has begin to tell a series of jokes in the corner. Many shrieks of glee and polite giggles erupt near by as he slaps his knee and causes his entire leg to jiggle.

Overall, the events of the night seem like they could turn out wonderfully.

OOC Hi all! Welcome to the game. Go ahead and take some time to acclimate yourselves to the various threads. Ask what you need to in the OOC thread. Character stuff goes in that thread, and, of course, your actual RP bits go here.

Take a post, or seven, to engage with what you like at the party. You should describe your costume (remember you are at a masquerade ball) and your mask in your description. You will have plenty of time later to look like yourselves again, so please have fun with it. I will move the story ahead once I have heard from everyone in the game thread.
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Last edited by Timeless Prophet; Aug 12th, 2011 at 03:21 AM.
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Old Aug 14th, 2011, 10:21 AM
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A young woman in a sea falcon costume steps from group to group, sometimes moving with the grace and the rhythm of one dancing, or about to burst into dance. She smiles merrily and naturally at all around her, talking easily, laughing even more so. She wears a flowing dress of blues and tans, her mask, made up of feathery layers of fine silk in many shades of blue, is wide with splaying crests. In many ways her costume is sedate, it is only when she is moving that it truly catches the eye. When she moves at a quick step her cloak - the 'wings' of her sea falcon persona - spread wide behind her, showing a gorgeous pattern of sea-blue and gold pin-feathers. Her hair, a magnificent mane of carefully styled locks, is bright auburn, almost gaudy in its boldness, suggesting a natural passion only barely restrained.

She stops for a moment to admire the statues of the elven lovers, trades a few words - almost flirtatious - with the young men standing by the entrance. With a gay laugh she runs into the garden, her cloak rustling about her, spreading wide more like the wings of some mischievious sprite than an actual bird of prey. The majesty of the design and the beauty of its wearing draw attention from all four corners of the garden.

She trades greetings with another group, laborers judging by their crude made costumes. Talks for a moment of the fine food and their mysterious host, then moves on. She joins the women watching the burlesque mime and is quickly laughing as much as any of them. She joins a few of them as they walk toward the refreshments. Her conversation is airy and pleasant, she talks on the latest plays and fashions with delight, though with some cat-like languor as well. From there she soon strays to the talk between two older men, obviously military veterans. They grouch at the demanding conditions of the masquerade, not like the useless younger generations, they have done things to bring pride to their names, and want people to know who they are! After a few minutes she is calling them "pet" and "uncle" and has them tolerantly beeming and nodding in agreement to these silly conditions.

From there she moves to another group, and another. And all the while she is thinking;

'Oh this is NOT working! This is not working, and its obvious its not working, and everyone knows what I'm thinking, because... because it's not working! I can't just wink and have information pour into my lap - Rin was right, I don't know what I'm doing, and when things become serious I will panic and fall to pieces! Get ahold of yourself Tania. This is a masquerade, no one's going to slit your throat for being nosy. Worst case, you just don't learn anything. Of course, that's the worst that could happen, just that... so WHY is my stomach turning somersaults?? Oh, gods of my mother, this corset is so tight it's squeezing my guts out of place. That must be what that nasty taste is, my pancreas is being pushed up into my throat. And this wig! Real hair or not, it's making the sweat run waterfalls down my back... Or is that the fear making me sweat? Who is the host of this thing, and why the demand of anonymity? And more important, what does he DO if anyone pries too much?? Straighten your backbone Tania, just a few, natural questions, no risk here - that's all you need to keep thinking about, no risk here!'
"Oh my dear, please pardon the forwardness but THAT is the most flattering dress I have seen in this city in all my life. Introduce me to your tailor and I will be your servant for life! Or at the least, just be sweet enough to give me a hint, will you?"

For the time being she just makes herself at home in the festivities. Getting to know people, adapting to the ebb and flow of the ball, and listening for any talk that might be useful.
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Old Aug 14th, 2011, 04:56 PM
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A carriage pulls up in front of the party and deposits a young man and his valet. The young man is a sinister figure in sleek black, his floor length robe covered with runes of an eldritch appearance. His left hand clasps a scepter made of jet and tipped with clear crystal. The look is completed with a horrid mask of silver and ebony in the shape of a crowned skull: a fitting tribute to the vile lich-king Sodal. His bearing matches his appearance as a great sorcerer-king, although he feels less than imperious.

To be paraded around like this! he thinks to himself, as he and his valet move to the entrance. He normally doesn't have an attendant, but it's a special night and his parents wish to make themselves seem more wealthy than they really are, so he's getting the royal treatment. The mask is yet another attempt on their part to show off: a Silverhide original, worth far more than the sum of its silver and ebony. As well it should (he admits to himself): it exudes an aura of menace that few other masks can equal.

He glances at his valet, with a twinge of pity. A distant cousin, who has the misfortune to be so close to the Silverhide wealth without very much hope of ever actually making it into the family proper. He wonders how long he'll do minor services such as this one before giving up and turning to some other way of making his wealth than these attempts to get into the family proper.

Still, tonight would be a good night, he could feel it. He had hear rumours that one or two of the better bards in the city would be there, and he had plans to spread some of his poetry, making him a household name. And even if that fell through, he would still be able to collect stories from the masses of revelers.

His head held high, Jum'esh Silverhide entered the masquerade.
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Old Aug 14th, 2011, 06:21 PM
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Moments Before"Really, Master, I think I can walk three blocks," Heilan insisted, tugging uncomfortably at the edges of his cape. He was impressed by the verisimilitude of the costume; it really felt real, as though it were not literally held together by words and symbols.

"Out of the question," said Fern. "If you go wandering off through the streets I'll never see you again, you'll be off in some western harlot's bedroom for the next year and a half and you'll forget all about your studies."

"I have no interest in harlots," said Heilan, fuming a bit for good measure to show just how much he was properly insulted by the notion. "Nothing will keep me from the Ball tonight."

"Then you shouldn't have any objections to this," said Fern.

"What if it doesn't work? Or it spits me out with my stomach on the outside, or lands me in the fountain?" Heilan shook his head. "No, a nice walk to clear my head will be just fine, I think."

"Heilan, you are going to become a Manic Practitioner; at some point you are going to have to learn not to be afraid of magic. Teleportas!"


It was a singularly bizarre sensation, having one's entirety of self squeezed through a pinhole and punched out through a second hole, even smaller apparently, in an entirely different location. That it did not compress his body into a mangled pile of stretched out halfling was luck in its truest form; but once he came out on the other end of the spell with no fewer limbs than he'd had before and feeling more or less the same in terms of physical health, Heilan found the experience oddly exhilarating.

It was somewhat less exhilarating for the elven girl underneath whose dress he appeared. But after a truly heartfelt apology and an offer to make amends over a drink later or perhaps a waltz, the young lady let Heilan off with a blush and a gentle slap on the cheek that was not quite as angry as it might otherwise have been.

If he'd been an elf, or a different sort of halfling, that might have been the start to a very different sort of evening. But this was Heilan, and he had waited five years to be invited to this ball, and--

"I'm inside already?" He looked around, saw the men checking invitations, and laughed. "I didn't need an invitation after all," he remarked to himself. But just for good measure, he went over to the men and showed them that, yes, he was supposed to be here. He hadn't brought his rapier with him, which seemed only sensible, since he wasn't planning on having to fight any duels this evening, and so he had no weapons for the gentlemen to claim.

And they apparently didn't think much of the wand, made of blackened oak and carved with a curious scrawl around the hilt, that was tucked inside his vest pocket.

As costumes went, it was likely not the most extravagant, but that was because after several hours' deliberation Heilan had realized that something as gaudy as a suit made of fish-scales would not be the absolute best way to win the heart of a girl he'd met only once before, no matter how great an impression he had made five years ago.

So tonight, because the spell could give him any disguise he wished, he was dressed as Odil Frictum, the Headmaster of the Luckwater Academy. He wore a green cloak of emerald silk woven together from the threads spun by tame Tree Spiders, embroidered with the golden crest of the Academy; his vest, coat, and pants were similarly colored, but tailored from the finest fabric that could be created by magic; and he wore silk shoes that looked more like black boots, tied to his pants with invisible strands of magic.

For a masque, he wore a folded leaf of parchment, or at least that was the motif; it stuck to his face as readily as if it had grown there, and scribbled all across it were various words of power written in a script that was just illegible enough to not be a danger to anyone who read them.

This was the costume he had fashioned for himself. It could not make his skin lighter, or his hair more brown, or his eyes less gray; and it certainly could not make him the two feet taller he would need in order to match the human headmaster. But if he happened to meet Odil Frictum this evening, or his lovely ward (who was a halfling just like Heilan), this costume was bound to make an impression.

Until then, he took in the ball for the first time. He mingled, he flirted, he made promises for meetings with a half-dozen half-sized women, and he forgot them all as soon as he turned away. None of them were Eden, none of them could compare, and although he was properly bewitched (in more ways than he realized), it also protected him from any number of unscrupulous women who might think themselves in a position to take advantage.

He wandered from group to group, complimenting people's costumes, asking questions about the manor and who had constructed the architecture, and for the first ten minutes that he was doing so he didn't realize that he was slowly making his way to the wrought-iron gate at the end of the garden; and in fact it was only once he was standing almost toe-to-toe with the jester-like guards that he realized his true weakness had reared its head: Curiosity.

"What's behind the gate, if you don't mind me asking?" No use turning away now. There were secrets through there; and if he couldn't see them for himself, he was at least going to ask somebody what they were.
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Old Aug 14th, 2011, 08:07 PM
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=========================

The silence that seems to hang over the festival as he appeared over the crested stairwell was almost deafening. He had expected some glares, even a word or two for his outrageous costuming, but nothing had prepared him for this. To be the center of attention for any moment longer than never was too much. Ossicar almost turned around and gave up on the festival all-together... never mind the heaps of gold he'd put down for the costume. Still, some how he managed to take the initial step, then another, and before he knew it he was at the base of the stairs.

Dressed in a simple yet elegant red formal attire, Ossicar held a stark contrast to the usual whites and blues found at these regalia. He had considered asking a young maiden to join him, but the temptation to quit the ball early and return to his studies was simply to great to consider an escort to the masque. Besides with the Masque he had commissioned he thought he looked far to much like Death married to a Devil.

He hadn't been to one of these in... oh a dozen years. Not since his family had still been alive. It was much different then though, he had had to wait in a parlour with a half-dozen or so other children until their parents had quit the evening, or they were whisked homed by one of their servants.

'No...' he thought as he looked around the room, 'this was a lot different.' Some of it was as he remembered thought, even if a little older, worn or tarnished. Some of it though was new, or at least was so polished he couldn't tell the difference.

He made his way to the refreshments, after handing his invitation to the herald-clerk, knowing full well how he appeared to everyone. A few young, and at least with the masks, attractive young maidens smiled at him as he approached. But, it didn't take him long to realize that the smiles had more to do with the finery and obvious worth of his costuming then they did about him.

Regardless he nodded to the girls and received his drink, taking a moment to sniff, and visually identify the general make-up of the beverage. He enjoyed a fine wine every now and again, but one cannot be too careful in a festival of this magnitude. Who knew what peddlers might put in your drink to make you more pliable to sales.

There was no doubt that the scene was beautiful, the girls ever more so, and the night had so much more potential. It was early, but Ossicar was already feeling lost without having some form of alchemical element in hand. The best he could do was run a small glass vial through his fingers. A silver, liquid metal, flowed from side to side and rotated with the vial as he manipulated the glass tubing sealed with a red wax.

It was one of his most prized possessions, one of the first things he had discovered. None really knew what good it was for, but at the moment it was surely keeping him calm.

Once his nerves had settled a bit, all of this taking but a few minutes, he decided to entertain the ladies who had smiled at his entrance. If they were looking for a little attention to detail tonight, perhaps he ought to keep up with appearances and play the part of the Demon... With a curt nod and a wickedly handsome smile, he introdiced himself to the ladies... again knowing that his finery was doing all the speaking for him.

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Last edited by Tyger; Aug 15th, 2011 at 02:03 AM.
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Old Aug 14th, 2011, 11:28 PM
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It took a lot of coaxing and building up for Shiari to even consider going the ball. The invitation sat on her nightstand for days, before she finally built up the courage to go, telling herself, "You need this, you need to get away from it all."

Days later, as she stood in front of the gates, clutching the small shoulder bag and the invitation she had brought along with her, a thought crossed her mind several times.

"What the world am I doing here...?"

She would be lying if she said that she wasn't nervous about the ball, staring wide eyed at the gates and the garden beyond. It wasn't until a charming older gentleman spotted her and her nervous fidgeting and decided to help her out, lest she never move from the spot she was standing in. With a chuckle and a smile, reaching down to take her tiny hand into his own, he lead her to the gates, encouraging her about what an amazing night it was going to be in a deep and gentle baritone voice.

After entering the gardens, it wasn't until he left her, his calloused hand tracing a gentle stroke down her cheek in departing that she realized she didn't ask his name. She found herself wondering as she watched him disappear into the crowd, the spicy, almost cinnamon like smell he left in the air as he walked away filling her nostrils. Something inside her secretly hoped she'd run into him again during the evening, even as she looked around and took in the sights and experiences this night would bring. The smell of food made her tummy rumble, even though she knew she would be too nervous right now to even keep anything down. Instead, she accepted a glass of wine from a passing servant and looked at the variety of costumes people wore that made this ball what it was as she sipped from her cup to improve her courage.

There were explosions of colors here, subdued but gentle colors there. Some people went for the wild and unexpected, while some people looked like peacocks with obsessions with rainbows. Her outfit was not as extravagant or attention catching as some of the other guests. Sometimes, when you're at a party where everyone is trying to be the center of attention, and everyone is trying to be one step ahead or just a little better than the next person, it's simple and elegant, done to precise perfection, that outshines others and really stands out. Shiari decided for tonight, she wanted to be a butterfly, and with her mask in hand she had did just that.

Instead of dazzling displays of colored material, she opted for a few colors that complimented each other. Shiari's costume started with white lace in the form of gloves and stockings covering her from hands to just under her elbow, from her feet to her lower thighs. Her near cream complexion was accentuated in contrast to the snow white of the material. Her dress was quite lovely, leaving both of her shoulders bare and cut low in the back, exposing her upper back and shoulder blades. To anyone with an eye for fashion or a inkling of knowledge in tailoring, the dress appears to have been made quite recently. The way the vibrant royal purple and the soft, almost azure blue fabric clung slightly to every curve of her slender upper torso screamed of very recent measurements. Below her waist line her dress flares into a lighter, wispy fabric extending down to her mid thigh that caught gentle breezes through the garden, the shifting of air as people brushed past. She wore a pair of small, glittering butterfly wings protruding from the middle of her back, and atop her golden curls she wore a simple silvery tiara.

You don't have to be the most colorful butterfly to be a beautiful butterfly.

While not the most comfortable around masses of strangers, Shiari found herself opening up quite quickly at the party after her initial nervousness passed. Participating in conversations here and there, beaming at people as they passed her by, and blushing at the nods of approval and grins towards her outfit from some of the male guests. She found it hard to not get too wrapped up in the party with so many things to look at, to see and experience. Her curious nature and her eyesight causing her to need to be close to things took her from one end of the gardens to the other, speaking with all manner of people fancy dressed and some less so, her attention staying with the ones with the most interesting personality than anything else. She was ever playing the role of her costume, a little butterfly floating from place to place, eyes wide in excitement, wanting to experience everything.
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Last edited by Silverbreeze; Aug 14th, 2011 at 11:34 PM. Reason: Fixing little errors.
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Old Aug 15th, 2011, 04:43 AM
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Tania and the card... The noblewoman shrieks with just a little too much glee for the comment Tania proffers. Stumbling with her wine, the woman lays her arm across Tania's arm and smiles revealing crooked teeth and breath that already reeks of wine. She uses her free hand to steady the mop of white that covers her head. She quickly readjusts the rainbow of colors that she's wearing.

"My dear, oh my dear! You are too, too, too...very...oh you know...sweet! Just deliciously so. I mean really, when I first saw this, I wasn't sure what to think about it. You know those boutique pieces you buy now are sooooooooooooooooooooooooo..." The woman's body quakes with a hiccup and she nearly sloshes some wine onto Tania's gown. "Excuse me, darling. But I mean really, it's been years since good old Madam Delacr.....oh ho ho ho...ha ha...ah ha...Almost tripped up there." The old woman puts her little sausage finger to her lips and smiles (Tania would be convinced the woman would bite it off if it weren't attached to her body). "Anonymity is the name of the game here, precious. Ol' Yerringdale...or his ghost...is he dead yet Mar...oh ha...almost did again. Pardon me...sometimes I just lose myself when I drink. But the dress! Yes, this magnificent little number. Private tailors are soooooooooooooo....much better than that boutique trash you get. Here...here. Mine said to pass out these if I should ever find an interested party. You should go there, dearie. That bird thing is soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo....what was I saying? Oh yes, the card!"

The woman digs in her dress for a moment and reaches into her bossom. She pulls a card from the folds of cloth (you hope) and stuffs it into Tania's hands. She turns abruptly and waddles away.

"Oh!" A shriek echoes from the crowd. "The bird thing is soooooooo last year, dearie!" A familiar cackle erupts and vanishes into the noise of the crowd.

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The party swells and converges around all of you as you go about perusing the crowds. One way or another, your various chattering and crowd wandering kept you in the central courtyard among the stalls and performers there.

Heilan is the first to find his way over to the brutes guarding the iron gates. When he poses his inquiry, the tall man on the right cocks his head with a slight jingle of a single bell. His lips seal around his maw, and a scarred and horrifically huge tongue juts out from behind his lips. It slowly moves from one to other and crawls back into his mouth.

The one on the left chuckles softly.

The right one laborously reaches out a hand, a massive, callous and scarred thing, toward Heilan. Before it reaches the halfling, though, a figure appears from behing the tall man places its hands on the tall man's arm.

A tall man (by regular human standards) stands at the side of the brute applying pressure to the guard's arm. This new figure is dressed in a ebony trousers and shoes. He wears a fine linen shirt that has nearly crystal-like black buttons. A simple black pin-striped purple vest fits nicely onto his rather broad shouldered body. He wears a cape of the same deep purple as his vest. This item runs nearly to ground. A black top hat completes the ensemble.

The man, himself, is rather assuming. Handsome, but not overly so, his face is defined by sharp flat cheeks and a pointy nose. His mustache draws a thin line across either side of his upper lip. A mane of brown curls pours out of the sides of the hate that he wears. His brown eyes are set in glare on the man reaching toward Heilan.

The brute withdraws his arm with a grunt.

The man with the hat glares momentarily at the brutish man and then turns on his heel toward Heilan. A smile spreads across his face revealing white teeth in neat rows.

"That my little friend is an interesting question indeed." The man leans in and the scent of wild roses and...something oddly unknown hit Heilan's nostrils. Possibly brimstone...yet sweeter. The scent is strange and altogether pleasant and rather unsettling at the same time. "That, my friend, is the main attraction of the evening. A special surprise for this year's guests."

His smile beams as he rises back up and turns from Heilan. He takes a step or two toward the large open space in front of his gate's guards. He stops, turns on his heel, and raises an eyebrow at Heilan.

"That is a curious costume choice my friend. I am told that centuries ago impersonating certain officials of that place carried a stiff penalty...especially for students." His tongue runs over his teeth for a moment and then he purses his lips together. "Times are probably different now. Not to mention, tonight is a party, so I am sure he won't mind you borrowing his style. Imitation is the highest form of flattery...and admiration."

He smiles and claps his hands together.

"And that ladies and gentlemen is why we are here." He is now addressing the crowd in loud yet pleasant stage voice. "Our art, our imitation if you will, is to relive and create the greatest glories or fiendish betrayals of our lives. Tonight, we explore the latter. The dangerous." He draws his cape up to his nose and takes a step forward. His words continue to flow like a song."I am the Stagemaster, or so I must be for the rules of the night prevent me from appropriately introducing myself, and you are all my players. The fanciful actors in our macabre and devilishly wonderful play. The greatest murder mystery where every crack in the ground carries ancient curse, and every trinket you pass a potential clue. Who would pass these gates?"

He drops the cape and levels his hand at the gates. They creak open in reply and a strange fog begins to pour from the ground behind the gates. The fog wafts out in plumes and envelopes the Stagemaster's feet. Several of the guests begin to clap and cheer. Several chattering woman shriek with delight, and a few men whose bravado comes from the drink step forward to accept the challenge.

The Stagemaster waves a finger at the men and speaks. "All in due course, dear friends. All will have a chance to either be my guest or the guest of one of my dear assistants." Several men and women dressed in elaborate costumes of the same deep purple as the Stagemaster's step out from the crowd and arrange themselves in rows near the guards. "I assure you, all shall have their chance...but first a trick. I am guessing all of you took amply time to examine your invitations? Well, if you would be so kind as to examine them again I would appreciate it. I am looking for those gifted with peace to come forward first."

Murmurs erupt as everyone scrambles to examine their cards. Most let out heavy sighs and a few complain then a familiar, at least for Heilan, woman's voice shouts out from the front of the crowd.

"Clever Stagemaster...a dove. A very nice trick. I assume it has to do with some enchantment on the paper."

A slender woman steps out from the crowd. She wears a dress of deep red, that sharply contrast her pale skin, that seems to move even when she stands still. Several dragons wrap their way around the gown and seem to move, wink, or breathe fire at various times. One of the patterns wraps it way up from the middle of the dress and extend to neck. There the cloth bearing the dragon pattern seems to shift into a wood or more solid material that extends around her brow into a dragon's claw. The claw clutches a gold frame in its fingers that forms the mask of the maiden's outfit. Her black hair is done up nicely upon her head with thin red dragon snap blossoms laced throughout.

Heilan recongnizes Eden Green.

Her lips are the color of flowers in her hair and she purses them at the Stagemaster. She holds the invitation in between two fingers whose ruby paint on the nails stand out from the white paper. The Stagemaster smiles, crosses to her, takes the invitation, and examines it.

"Indeed...for those of you still searching for the answer to what you should be look for: It is in fact a dove. You shall be one of the first my dear; the answer to the trick may not be as simple as the lady puts it though. Surely a wizard of your caliber would of seen through that trick." He hands the invitation back to her and smiles. "Have any others heard the doves sweet call?"

Tania, Jum'esh, Shiari, and Ossicar look to their cards. They too have the doves upon their cards.

Heilan looks to his invitation. It has a dove; but if he shifts the card just slightly, the doves fades and is replaced by the image of the bird being skewered through the heart by dagger. A dagger with an emerald blade.
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Last edited by Timeless Prophet; Aug 15th, 2011 at 03:01 PM.
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Old Aug 15th, 2011, 10:58 AM
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There she is, as beautiful as when I last saw her, he thought. Five years older, but still as stunning as ever. He stepped forward to speak to her, oblivious to the goings on of the masquerade. Then it dawned on him that Eden Green had mentioned a dove on the invitation, and if he wanted to speak with her at all tonight, he would need a similar insignia on his own invitation.

He readied the spell on his lips, prepared to manufact a picture on the card in his hand, when he saw the shimmering bird already there. "Well I'll be damned," he said. "There it is."

He stepped forward, raising the card in his small hand. "I heard it," he said proudly. He looked to the masqued Eden and added, "Five years ago I heard it." He bowed low to her and moved to stand by her side.

It did not occur to him to move the card about to see if there was a second image hidden there. It didn't occur to him, and so he didn't see the dying bird, or the emerald blade piercing its heart.

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Old Aug 15th, 2011, 04:41 PM
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The party had been a reasonable success for Jum'esh thus far. He had put up with a few people attempting to ingratiate themselves with his clan for various reasons, and he had done so with more tact than he usually mustered. A chance meeting with a former classmate had been a pleasant waste of fifteen minutes, until the flow of the party dragged the two of them apart. He supposed his parents would be happy with the reaction to his costume: several people had complimented his mask, and he had dutifully shilled on the quality of the silver and its crafting. There had also been a minor argument with a woman wearing a costume that would have been considered too revealing at half her age. She had been insistent that The Shining Crescent was to be taken at face value, when Jum'esh knew for a fact that it was a very harsh satire on love and the knightly ideal. Jum'esh had not spared her any of his razor tongue, and had left the woman fuming and the onlookers split between horrified and amused: for his part he had enjoyed putting her down a little too much. But mostly he had simply wandered the party, casually joining group after group, saying little and listening much.

At the Stagemaster's announcement, Jum'esh glances at his invitation, noting the dove in the corner. He considers briefly whether he wished to be thrust in the spotlight in this manner, rather than in a method of his own choosing. He fingers his spell component pouch under his costume. A simple illusion would have someone next to him thinking they had been the one selected. In the end, Jum'esh decides he might as well use this opportunity as any other. He walks slowly and silently to the front, allowing the crowd to part in front of him as if he were truly a wraith stalking through the party (a simple trick for one his size and dressed in such a fearsome costume). When he reaches the Stagemaster, he wordlessly lifts his invitation to show off the dove, then replaces it in the depths of his costume and joins the rest. He attempts to be the last to answer the call, so that he sticks in everyone's memory that much more.
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Old Aug 15th, 2011, 06:40 PM
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The man in purple had presence. It was something Ossicar had gotten quite used to in his time within the Senate's research guild, so many others carried themselves with a dull wit and an over-pompous self importance. This man, this stage-master was different. His words, mannerisms, and even the body language that he offers reads him to be a confident sort, surely, but one who likely has reason to be so.

As instructed, the Alchemist took a glance at his card. It too bore the image of the Dove. The odor encompassing his being is that of one similar to the stage-master's, though the arid scent of leather adds to the smell of flame. He only notices the aroma as he approached the richly dressed man himself. With a flick of his wrist, a well timed maneuver, Ossicar presented his card to the well dressed man. A confirmation of his being one of the few with the dove. And in another, less practiced,
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almost imperceptible movement simply aim to hide the card within his glove. To anyone not thoroughly looking it would appear as if the card had simply vanished.

Ossicar didn't concern himself with how others perceived his own appearance, he had long overcome that issue... his only lament was that he had thought to exit the party early, now it seemed, at least, that he would not be able to garner himself that reward. Society, being what it is... people fluctuated like the tides, with their various ebbs and flows. This is why he truly enjoyed Alchemy. Not for it's destructive or beneficial practicalities... but because it was a provable, consistent point of reference in a wishy-washy world.
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Old Aug 15th, 2011, 10:18 PM
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Shiari was in mid conversation when the events of the evening began. With a little smile in the corner of her mouth, and a mouthed word, she agreed that they'd continue their conversation another time.

Her eyes drifted towards the sound of the gates as they creaked open, and she found herself subconsciously taking a tentative step backwards at the crowd's reaction, and another when the drifting smoke finally came into her sight. As she wondered what lay behind them, a thought came to her that tonight wouldn't just be spent chatting with new acquaintances.

As the crowd fumbled for their invitations, Shiari slowly reached into her little shoulder bag, pulling the card out to peer at it as she shook her head slowly from side to side, tousling her curls. "I don't remember seeing anything special about mine. Not surprising, my luck when it... oh dear." Her mumbling stops short as her eyes lock into the little dove on her card, and she feels a cold tingle go down her spine, making her shiver slightly. Believing that her eyes might be playing a trick on her, she puts the invitation away, and glances at it again, her eyes locking on the dove once again. "Well I'll be, but why me?" she wonders, as she glances around the crowd and catches a glimpse of activity and movement of what she assumes is the other "lucky" people moving towards the stage.

Shiari wasn't the most confident person in the world. At least, not anymore. She definitely was never the most confident around masses of strangers, even in years past. The thought of standing on the stage with all those mocking, jealous, angry faces behind those masks made her shiver a little bit as her nerves got the best of her. With all the money floating around in clothing and the air of superiority people carried themselves with here, what would they say about her when she went to stand on stage? She swallowed, loud and audible in her own ears, and chewed on her bottom lip a little as she normally did when she was nervous. Glancing at the stage at the beautiful woman in red didn't help her nerves either. She felt she'd look like one of the urchins invited to the party standing next to her. It took a short moment before she finally got a grip on herself and willed the fear and the butterflies in her stomach away.

She started walking towards the stage on shaky little legs, glancing about as she held her invitation in trembling little hands. Upon reaching the stage, she holds out her invitation to the Stagemaster shyly, her eyes downcast as she glanced at her feet nervously. She could feel the heat on her cheeks and in her chest as she blushed furiously on stage, wondering what this all meant. It colored her face quite prettily, but it was the last thing on her mind at the moment.

Shy little butterfly.
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Old Aug 16th, 2011, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Timeless Prophet View Post
"Oh!" A shriek echoes from the crowd. "The bird thing is soooooooo last year, dearie!" A familiar cackle erupts and vanishes into the noise of the crowd.

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Tania takes the card with a rush of gratitude, studying it and all the other tells the woman gave away for some clue who she might be. Her barbed comments do not annoy Tania - some people can revel in petty cruelties, and the anonymity of the masks will surely bring out the worst in such people. Besides, Tania is here with a purpose; she has no time to waste squabbling with anyone here just to swill drink. She wants to find an in on some serious powers in the city - to listen in on their plans, and what they know about (or are doing to!) her family. Easier said than done... She could group with the young women sporting the most expensive costumes, encouraging them to talk about themselves. Surely there are a few senators' children here, and she could easily mix with them - but what good would it do? Which of them would know anything, or be easily convinced to introduce her to their fathers? She could also try to approach some of the truly powerful politicos themselves; such men who love power and influence would hardly be trying their best to keep their anonymity, and many such love the attention of a pretty young lady. But then what? Would any amount of spiked wine be enough to make a savvy senator fool enough to blather anything useful to her?? If she must start somewhere... she will look for older women, with the expensive clothes and bearing that might mean the wife to a powerful man. Such women might have overheard the secrets Tania wants, and boredom, or a love of gossip, might get them to share them. If she can only find the right one...

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"And that ladies and gentlemen is why we are here." He is now addressing the crowd in loud yet pleasant stage voice. "Our art, our imitation if you will, is to relive and create the greatest glories or fiendish betrayals of our lives. Tonight, we explore the latter. The dangerous." He draws his cape up to his nose and takes a step forward. His words continue to flow like a song."I am the Stagemaster, or so I must be for the rules of the night prevent me from appropriately introducing myself, and you are all my players. The fanciful actors in our macabre and devilishly wonderful play. The greatest murder mystery where every crack in the ground carries ancient curse, and every trinket you pass a potential clue. Who would pass these gates?"
Now this DOES annoy Tania! Just as she is getting somewhere there is this interruption. And this nosy halfling and this Stagemaster are doing what she most wants to do - be the center of attention! She listens to his strange stage-patter, checking, like so many others, her invitation at the end. There is the symbol of the dove - a symbol of peace? She'd always thought it symbolized love? Perhaps that was the influence of her father, the gruff old man was, in some ways, a constant romantic. She has to think quick at this, part of her is tempted to ignore the invitation, carry on with her gossiping and eavesdropping, but then, who knows how this might prove useful to her. Well, if she can no longer be subtle than let her share attention in a way that people will remember! She waits until it seems all the others of this first group have appeared, then holds her invitation high in the air.

"What luck!" she cries. She moves towards the gate, but where the crowd is too thick to pass she hops onto a refreshment table and holds up her skirts to skip down the length of it, her falcon cloak and musical laugh flying behind her. Coming up short before the Stagemaster she gives him a jaunty curtsy, presenting her invitation with a flourish.
"I don't know why I have received such an honor, but I have caught your dove, good sir, and relish being among the first to meet your challenge. These are to be my companions, then." she curtsies politely to the other four, "It appears I am the last..."

Quote:
Originally Posted by GrazztTheDark View Post
... Jum'esh decides he might as well use this opportunity as any other. He walks slowly and silently to the front, allowing the crowd to part in front of him as if he were truly a wraith stalking through the party (a simple trick for one his size and dressed in such a fearsome costume). When he reaches the Stagemaster, he wordlessly lifts his invitation to show off the dove, then replaces it in the depths of his costume and joins the rest. He attempts to be the last to answer the call, so that he sticks in everyone's memory that much more.
'Why does there ALWAYS have to be someone else trying to take the center stage?'
Tania smiles and curtsies to the man in the impressive crowned skull mask. For a moment there seemed to be a sour grimace on her face, but apparently it was a trick of the light.

Last edited by Dragonsnack; Aug 16th, 2011 at 12:10 PM. Reason: needed editing
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Old Aug 16th, 2011, 02:39 PM
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Heilan was partly busy being enthralled by the presence of Miss Green, but he did notice the way that the others conducted themselves, displaying their strengths like cards in a game of badly played poker. Even you, Eden, he reflected, but everyone knows you're a mage - even if they didn't know who you were, until a moment ago.

His focus shifted immediately, however; because although Eden had pointed out the possible magical explanation for the dove on the cards, it was the stage master who called out her skills as a mage. He's the one who showed her hand without her permission, he decided.

But it was the others, playing for attention, that made him smirk. I'm the only one here that hasn't made a spectacle of himself. Which meant that his strengths were still hidden from view.

His smirk broadened into a smile, and he relaxed. "Does this sort of thing happen every year?" he said, speaking to but not looking at the girl beside him. He hoped his voice wouldn't
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Old Aug 18th, 2011, 09:35 PM
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The Stagemaster acknowledges each of those invitations offered to him. He is certain, though, not to take a single one. He takes Tania's hand and gives it a quick kiss when presented with the invitation. He smiles at the young noblewoman and waves her on to the others with a wink at her comment to Jum'esh. He bows to Shiari as she presents her card to him.

Heilan's words come out flawlessly, and Eden smiles warmly at him for a moment. The smile fades quickly and a puzzled look comes across her face.

"That is a very odd choice in costume. I'm sorr..."

Before she can finish, though, the Stagemaster resumes speaking.

"So it seems that we have all our players...or at least I believe so.” He looks out over the crowd and everyone in the crowd seems to shrug or murmur discontentedly. ”Indeed, it is dear friends, but I assure you that you all shall have your turn at the go. Help me welcome our intrepid players into the first act of our stirring little drama.” He turns and begins clapping and the crowd joins in thunderously. He beams another smile at the group.

One of the Stagemaster’s assistants, a woman in a mauve dress with black webs etched across it, steps forward and almost glides to the Stagemaster in a matter of a second or two. Her lanky frame is accented by pale, nearly ivory skin. Her lips and nails are painted black. An ebony braid hangs down her back. Her eyes are pale emerald and her lips curl into a pained little smile.

The Stagemaster takes her hand in his right and motions toward the gates with his other. The two brutes creak toward the and grasp it between the their fists. They pull at the gates for a moment and nothing seems to happen. They strain and a low grating-growl comes from behind set teeth. After another moment the a sharp metal snap emanates from the gate and the iron barrier parts. The brutes let loose with a heavy sigh and their arms drop from the gates. They resume their positions on either side of the now open gate. The Stagemaster beams even more brightly (if that was possible) at this rather curious display. A few feeble claps come from the crowd, but for the most part everyone stands in silence. He shrugs his shoulder and leads the woman into the gated area of the garden.

”Come dear players. The show must begin!” The Stagemaster calls over his shoulder.

The woman in the red dragon dress shrugs her shoulders and sets off into the misty gates.

”Curious...very curious indeed. A lot like that costume you are wearing.” She calls over her shoulder to Heilan. He can very nearly hear the smile in her voice.
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Old Aug 19th, 2011, 12:34 AM
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Heilan stood back, stunned by Eden's positive response. That worked better than I could ever have dreamed, he reflected. That she had not only smiled, but had actually spoken to him, had noticed his choice of costume...

The others were moving; with a hop to trick his feet into moving, Heilan hurried after the group into the mist.

Almost immediately, the lack of visibility stirred him out of his euphoria, and the reality of what he might be stepping into began to dawn on him. Master Daega would hesitate before entering into an arrangement like this, he thought. There is something darker at work in this 'little drama'. He glanced down at the invitation in his hand, and almost stumbled.

Well, he reflected. The one good thing about all this is that they didn't take my wand.

He patted the spot in his vest where the blackened wand was hidden, and his step steadied enough for him to catch up with the group. "I wish I'd brought a torch," he mused, pretending not to be concerned. He looked up at the woman in the red dragon dress. "I have a distinct feeling they're going to turn the lights out. Don't you?"
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