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  #391  
Old 06-11-2019, 08:26 PM
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Talia
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...like a stray cat wasn't too far off.

Talia had been a stray for most of her life, heavy emphasis on the straying part. Her odd racial Shifter makeup didn't help matters since her "shifting" linage was of the hairless variety. it was an odd mix with her naturally curly black hair. When shifting, she doesn't sprout hairs or whiskers, but her canine teeth elongate, her fingernails spike out, and her ears jut out a bit more.

As if her already pointy ears didn't attest to that, she drank the contents of the glass in one gulp, slamming it to the table with a fang showing hiss. An audible "ahhhh", followed up the display.

Almost in disbelief at what Cyprian said, she looked around to see that they were the only ones present.
She laughed out loud, tilting her head back before she quieted to a chuckle. She poured them both another drink, still a bit giddy as she stood on the chair and said, "You tell a joke and I'm the only one to hear it. You know they'll never believe me. And no, I don't come here often, but I am a thief, and I'm here to steal your heart. Cheers!"

She winks and slams the drink again before slipping down to sit in the chair, starting to laugh again. She holds out her glass for him to refill and as the laughter tapers off she manages to get in, "Come here... often... heh. I like this guy! Where's he been. No wait! Crush that thought! Here's to him being here now, and hoping he stays!"

She holds out his glass for him to clink it together in a toast.


 
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  #392  
Old 06-11-2019, 09:43 PM
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Cyprian Thoros
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He watched Talia’s exuberance from over the rim of his glass as he drank, half entertained and half bemused by her reaction. Was what he said really that funny? He realized a moment later that it was more from the unexpectedness of what he said, and the unexpected could be a decent replacement for humor, he supposed.

A deep-chested chuckle was coaxed free as he said, “I would need a heart first in order for someone to steal it, I’m afraid.” Cyprian poured her a glass when she gestured for it and he went ahead to top off his own.

He wore a rueful grin for her next comment. He was keenly aware he wasn’t the most likable person. As some would say he was an ‘acquired taste.’ Whatever that was supposed to mean. It wasn’t his job to be liked by any stretch of the imagination. He was just meant to get things done...Although, he was doing a poor job of that lately.

Cyprian reached his cup over and touched her glass with his, and answered her remark of this 'funnier' guy sticking around with, “...For now.”


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Last edited by Odyssey; 06-11-2019 at 10:52 PM.
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  #393  
Old 06-13-2019, 01:47 PM
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GiranGiran scoffs softly at Ada’s words. "No. Our world is doomed. It would have been better if we’d all died today." His hand clenches on the hilt of his sword and he glares at the unconscious Confire with a sober wrath. "But since we didn’t, I intend to be one hell of a bitter pill to swallow. When their stars-damned mother consumes me, I’ll slice her alien throat on the way down!" Without another word or glance, the soldier turns and strides off toward his guardhouse.

BellamyDoc is really starting to hate every page of The Opened Eye. It has confounded her for a solid week! She is starting to think that its author just had a sick sense of humor. Or Hassud has a sick sense of humor. It was so aggravating! Like those gnomish box puzzles that stupid noble women amused themselves with. Mother Lucinda had kept one at the orphanage. Her guests would play with the thing in the parlor, laughing and cursing at the thing. Once in a while one of the smarter ones would get one face of the cube solved. But they all gave up before dinner was ready. But Bellamy had spent hours…days, more likely…studying that little puzzle. The way it moved. The way the pieces fit together and the patterns in the movements. She had finally realized that you could never solve the puzzle one face at a time. It was a system. And it had to be approached as a whole.

Wait! Could that be it?! Could this whole book be a puzzle? Bellamy had focused intently on each detail she had read in the damned book. But what if the details didn’t mean anything by themselves. The chapters were irrelevant! They were the jumbled faces of the unsolved puzzle box! Flipping back through the pages, the tenacious half-orc looked for links between different parts of the text. She identified certain key themes, scattered disjointedly throughout. Mentally, she moved them into order, rotating the “faces” of the puzzle in the words. Ideas took shape in the writing. Concepts formed from the chaos, and as each fell into place, the others shifted to their rightful positions as well. Until finally, she solved the entire text. She read the book as a whole in one moment in her mind, remembering it in its proper order instead of the chaos in which it was written down.

The words were simple. But the lessons in the exercise were profound. Bellamy found a new appreciation for the art of scientific observation of all things, not just medicine. The process of collecting every detail, ignoring the chronology in which they are presented and placing them into the order in which they made the most sense, was suddenly very profound. The words on the pages of The Opened Eye now held very little meaning to her in and of themselves. It was the process that was important. That was the lesson the book contained.

Unsure if she is disappointed or relieved, Bellamy tosses the book aside and goes to sleep.

The Silvercut RoadwayTwo days later and many miles north, the party is near their goal. Confire is still not awake. Talia is watching him in the wagon, currently.

Ninazu is becoming used to his barding. Thadulos took the extra time to dye the hide a deep red. It had delayed their departure slightly, but the effect, mixed with the polished chain falling from his withers, is quite striking and likely worth the extra time. Either way, they should reach Westruun this night.

Ahead, the dark green of the Bramblewood stretches across the horizon. And above that, the eastern range of the Cliffkeep Mountains rise toward the clouds. Higher than its brethren, the dark stone mountain of Gatshadow alone pierces those clouds, its peak lost to view in their mists. The shadow of that great mountain stretches across the plains to darken the grasses around Cow and the wagon in the late afternoon sun.

Another hour of travel…

Strangely, Ron is first to spot the city, sitting like a massive ship at anchor on the edge of the grassy sea. Westruun’s high walls rise above the flat farmland spreading eastward from it. Within the walls, individual buildings can be discerned; large flat warehouses of the Market Ward, massive palaces with rooftop gardens in the Opal Ward, and the domed tops of the Temple Ward. There is one tower, higher than the buildings around it, and crowned with an intricate spherical sculpture of gold. Something shiny protrudes several feet from that tower toward the darkening evening sky.

Suddenly, Confire gasps loudly and bolts upright in bed, eyes wide!

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art by Kenneth Camaro

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Last edited by 4eyedBadger; 06-13-2019 at 02:21 PM.
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  #394  
Old 06-13-2019, 03:02 PM
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"MEELA!"

Confire stared, unseeing, at the curtain hanging in front of a window framing the greatest city in this part of the world. His breath came in rapid pants and sweat plastered the thin ribbons of hair to his scalp. For many moments he sat like that, utterly unresponsive, and then he began to sob gently and melted back into the sodden sheets of the bed.

His thoughts whirled as his conscious mind tried to make sense of what it had been subjected to. The only images which were clear were of the world ending, although the means by which that end came about seemed to twist and morph into new images whenever his mind tried to grasp at it. There were great tentacled creatures pulling the very land apart and ramming it into a back maw, or countless screaming motes of blackness swarming all over the cities and burrowing through any flesh they found, or the Gods themselves consumed with madness and gleefully wrought destruction on their own creation. It was all there in one moment, in one sickly melange of thought. He didn't want that. He didn't want any of that. No, not at all. And yet the hunger had become a part of him. He could feel it now, deep down in his stomach. A hunger for chaos, for wanton destruction.

He thought about his family and the familiar warm feelings were there, but rather than desiring to protect them from what was to come he wanted to take them with him, to show them just how absurd this world actually was and to allow them the exultation of wiping it all clean. And then they would all go too, together.

Suddenly he looked around the room, only now seeing Talia sitting there, watching him. He wiped his eyes and pulled the sheet up higher on his chest. Licking his lips he said, "I'm glad it's you. Please... don't tell anyone. I... I just need a few moments and I'll be back to my old self."

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Last edited by Lazer; 06-22-2019 at 03:15 PM.
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  #395  
Old 06-14-2019, 11:37 AM
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Talia
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As usual, Talia had gotten quite bored on the way to their next destination. She tried to coax Ron into throwing daggers at the moving wagon wheel for practice, but Ada had overheard her and scolded Talia. Seems potentially damaging the wagon wheel wasn't a good idea and didn't set well with their caravan master - or so she had mumbled to Ron only to be caught again by Ada.
"Nothing! Nothing! You're right Ada. I apologize. Are we-?"

She caught the glare from Ada and didn't finish her question. She'd only asked if they were there yet a dozen times since... a few moments ago.
She smiles and
Dice Sleight of hand:
1d20+10 (8)+10 Total = 18
does a trick with her daggers to hide them from view as if by magic to show Ada she was done trying to throw daggers.

It didn't help that she got a look from Ron since Ada had scolded them both, even though the dagger-wheel game was totally her idea.

She just shrugged to Ron and was about to point to Ada in a fashion and with a face that indicated she was being a pain, but caught herself. Sure enough, Ada was looking. She just smiled and moved away.

Sliding up to Cyprian she said, "They're on to me. What can I say. You get me, right?

So, an outlaw on the high seas, huh? Tell me, RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR ye regretin' not followin' yer dream matey?"
Her terrible pirate accent got a look from Cyprian that made her think someone had paid him to assassinate her, so she leaned away from him and moved off.

To Bellamy.

Barely looking up at Bellamy on her mount she said, "Ol' Cyprian. Nice guy. Think he ate too much breakfast or somethin'. So, Bellamy. That's some nice armor your friend here has now." She patted the horse on it's flank and got rewarded with a swat from the tail.

"Pfft. Pfff, yuk. Thanks for that. Now, when we get to the city, do you think I could...? She trails off, feeling like Bellamy knew how she'd finish the sentence. She probably would given Talia has asked several times to ride the pretty mount with the pretty barding into the city when they got there. She lamented about not having a fine horse to show off how important she was to Bellamy several times since they left the Knoll.
"It's just for the ride into the city. You can tell people later it's your horse. Really? Wow. You think you know people."
She hadn't gotten any response from Bellamy other than the same look she always seemed to get from her, but to Talia she had been spoken to in volumes and she moved off.

Sliding up to Alys she said, "Hey. I've been meaning to show you this fun game I came up with. Best place is back behind the wagon."

Turning to look at Ada, she was getting a look since she hadn't tried to be quiet with what she had said to Alys.
Whether the look was real or imagined her shoulders dropped and she walked to the wagon and went inside, but not before she said, "Fine! I'll go take a nap or something."
If there was applause, she'd bow and take their gratitude before going in.

The next day she was extremely bored again. She tried a stacking game, but when the items and provisions fell over with a crash, she'd promised Ada everything was okay and that she'd stop "whatever it is you're doing", as Ada had put it.

She had her bare feet propped up on Confire's stomach, watching them go up and down with his breathing. She had placed a feather in just the right spot so his exhalations and inhales had it rising and falling over and over. Currently, she was up to the count of 19 times without it being blown away.

Twice she had yelled out for Ada to watch the bumps in the road. "Mind the bumps will ya! People are doing things in here, and... Confire's trying to sleep!"
She had went back to the stacking game, only this time using smaller objects and using Confire's forehead as a base.
When Confire jumped up,
Dice Acrobatics:
1d20+7 (17)+7 Total = 24
she had to roll with her feet being flung off and try to do a flip. Trinkets, utensils, and all manner of items when flying as well. She did a kick off the wall of the wagon, and a twist in the air to land on the floor in a crouch, like the cat shifter that she is.
Standing up and straightening her clothes as if nothing has happened, she replied to Confire's request not to say anything, "No, no. Yeah, right with you. Not a word. Take your time." She began picking up the items that had fallen from his forehead and putting them away. "This road is really bumpy", she said as an explanation.

 

 
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  #396  
Old 06-14-2019, 09:06 PM
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Cyprian Thoros
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For the briefest moment, Cyprian was confused by Talia’s sudden and odd words. Then, it all came flooding back in incoherent memories of certain things he, quite frankly, knew he shouldn’t have told her last night.

His jaw clenched as he bore icy-blue daggers down at her from his horse. She moved off after that, and he was glad to be rid of her for the moment. He had had the nearly uncontrollable urge to jump off his horse and snap her neck for mentioning it. Especially so carelessly. Of course, what else had he expected? He had got piss-drunk, which was something he knew he personally should never do...and he had done it anyway. Because of it, he divulged more information than he would’ve cared to have given.

Luckily, he hadn’t told her everything about it, particularly why that ‘dream’ came to an abrupt end. Or why he had cared to dream it all up in the first place-- other than it was the ridiculous and absurd notions of a naive child. Obviously, being a pirate or an adventurer of the high seas was a foolish delusion that he had believed in for far too long. He had buried it along with anything else that was childish or useless. He had to.

“Tsk.” His annoyance fumed as he prodded his horse forward. The sight of Westruun did little to alleviate that annoyance, as cities were rarely ever something of comfort for him. There was often too much to consider and measure in anything larger than a village. And he hated the noise.


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  #397  
Old 06-16-2019, 08:18 AM
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Ronald ‘One-Bone’ Devyn
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As they leave the Grassy Gnoll and continue the journey to Westruun, Ron is much more wary than he was on the journey thus far. He had somehow assumed they would be safe on the road, but the fact that first the orcish raiders and then some thing that possessed Confire had nearly killed some of his friends has made him realize that danger can come when you least expect it.

He sticks close to the wagon, sometimes sitting on it for a little while but usually walking alongside it. Not even Talia’s usual antics distract him as he scans the horizon, the tall grass around them and even the sky above looking for trouble.

The fact that Confire doesn’t wake up starts bothering him after a little while. Ron certainly hadn’t held back, and even if whatever possessed the man had managed to block some blows that should have broken bones, it was still Confire’s body Ronda was striking. What if he did enough damage so that Confire would never wake up? He considers this as he walks, eventually reaching the conclusion that Confire had never actually been that nice to him, and if it came to it, he’d rather the mage got smashed than one of his friends.

Bellamy, Ada, Talia and Alys all feel like friends now, even if Ron can’t really be sure if they are just pretending. Cyprian is different. He is the boss. It’s not a good idea to be the bosses’ friend for people like Ron. Bosses come and go but people like Ron remain. If a boss screws up it can cost him everything. People like Ron just need to make sure they do what they are told and they might get into a bit of trouble, but good enforcers are hard to find so it is usually better to keep them working, assuming it was the boss that screwed up.

Ron is, as has become his habit, scanning the horizon when he notices something that looks like a spire, or a tower. He climbs onto the wagon to get a better look, and as they get closer he realizes this must be the city they have been headed to. Westruun. He points at it in the distance. ”That’s the city, right?” he asks the others. A bit uncertain what a city should look like. At least this one doesn’t look too big. A few houses, a couple of towers. Not big at all.

When they get closer, he realizes his mistake. At a distance, only the top of some keep or palace is visible, but as they get closer, more and more buildings appear, and eventually a massive wall that encircles the city. A wall taller than Ron! Much taller, it would seem. ”How can people build a wall like this?” he wonders out loud, staring at the wall. ”It’s so big. It must have more than… a hundred stones in it. Two hundred or something,” he says. He’s never been that good with large numbers, as the others have long since found out.

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  #398  
Old 06-16-2019, 11:08 AM
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Ada
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Although the road had been too quiet and it was clear that Talia was feeling a bit stir-crazy, Ada sighed in relief as they bumped along in the wagon. Everyone's alive.. and we somehow managed to leave the Gnoll without casualties. After all the party had been through, Ada was starting to wonder if they were perpetually cursed to leave destruction in their wake. Well.. thanks to Bellamy we didn't lose Giran. Producing her keg, she had a little mid-road drag, treating the weary Talia to a gulp. Maybe that will settle her down for a few minutes. She smiled.

As the spires and walls of Westruun loomed, she felt a twinge of stress well up from her gut. Part of journeying here was my suggestion.. I just hope we find some absolution here.. What if there is no aid to be gained here? Adjusting in her seat as Ron climbs up for a better view, she nods. "That's it big guy. Welcome to Westruun."

Considering the wall, Ada took a deep breath and let it out slowly to calm her nerves. "I suppose it happens a lot like our little group does things, Ron. When something happens, we all work together." She knew they needed that more than ever, acutely aware of the tablet still in tow.

As Confire snaps awake, Ada slows the wagon. "He's up everyone!"



 


 
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Old 06-16-2019, 08:53 PM
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Alys
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Travel was growing on Talia, especially after the night at the Grassy Gnoll. That particular disaster joined her rotating array of nightmares, but it had all ended well enough. Somehow. Or it would have, if Confire would wake up.

Everyone seemed convinced he'd be fine eventually, and maybe that was true, but Alys had her doubts. Whatever happened to him, and to that tablet, well...Alys just had her doubts, was all.

Traveling with everyone is enough to take her mind off it. Ada was always pleasant to be around, and always free sharing her drink. Talia was always up to something interesting, though tracking the shifter down was harder than you'd expect during a wagon trip. Cyprian was stoic, but Alys was beginning to learn to see through it. Ron was...well, Ron. The big man had quickly become a loyal fixture. It was all kinda nice; the only sticking point was Confire. Sleeping, reckless, dangerous Confire.

Alys was walking alongside the wagon when Ron spotted the city, and she quicly clambered up to get a better look. Finally! Her excitement surged. Finally a real city. Not a smugglers port like Stilben, but an actual city. That was more than enough to refocus her mind, and beside her Ada had even more good news. Confire was awake.

Alys clambered down again, then up in the back. Talia and Confire were there. "Good timing," she grunted after a moment of silence, fixing the latter with a glare. "Are you, uh. All there?"
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