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Ron Muller

The Reckless Garnet

0 · 860 views · located in Aires

a character in “Birthstone Spirits: The Second Revival”, as played by Roku Mushabuki

Description

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Name: Ron Muller
Age: 21
Occupation: Investing
Height: 6'0''

Appearance:

Ron is a man of simple tastes. Whether he's on the job or just kicking back, he prefers to wear work jeans with a plain, button T-shirt. He dons a light jacket and wears fashionable boots for both work and play. His hair is almost always fashioned with the exception of his worst days.

He also dons his grandfather's ring, which he inherited. The ring is silver, sketched with symbols from German folklore, and adorned with five garnets; a large one on top and four small ones around. The ring supposedly came from Bavaria and had been in the family for a "hundred generations", at least according to Paul Muller.

Likes:
-Meeting new people
-Guns
-History
-public speaking

Dislikes:
-Silence
-Small spaces
-Dogs
-poor odds

Hobbies:
-Reading
-Biking
-Hunting
-Shooting
-cooking

Strengths:
-Skilled hunter
-Photographic memory

Weaknesses:
-Lack of self control
-Alcoholism

Former Education:
-Double Major in epidemiology and History with an emphasis on the modern era
-GPA 3.8


Memberships:
-National Rifle Association
-Plainsmen Black powder association
-National Muzzle loader association

Background

The Muller family hails from North Dakota, where they they were originally cattle barons and wealthy farmers. Competition to the commercial farms leading up to the 21st century had been cutting profits for the family, but all that changed when oil was discovered. Suddenly the Mullers went from being ranchers to holding large stakes in the fracking industry. They went from being very well off to being tremendously wealthy. While the may have been honorable businessmen before hand, they had dissolved into cutthroat profiteers.

Of the five Muller boys, Ron turned out the best; that is to say, the least rotten. Spoiled by their families newly found riches they had all become arrogant, selfish, or dangerously irresponsible. He became wrapped in decadence and abused anything that could give him a rush. As a result he has had multiple run ins with the law and his grades suffered. Soon after finishing high school, Ben Muller, Ron's grandfather and patriarch of the family, died. In his will, which he included his grandchildren, a large sum of money was given to them. While his brothers invested in stable markets, Ron put it all into bitcoins despite the protest of his father. However, eventually the market boomed and it gave the young man a large personal fortune. So Ron move to NYC after graduating to go into investing as well as dwindling his money on all the vices of life.

So begins...

Ron Muller's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Aster Storm Character Portrait: Sorrell Hunt Character Portrait: Vegas Sinclair Character Portrait: James Labonair Character Portrait: Emerson Motlilio
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“Okay, this may just be a thought that everyone is having, but, what the hell is going on here?"

Great question.

A sword-wielding man, clad in layers of hide and fur, appeared almost out of thin air. Tallyho drew a quick breath, lurching back slightly as he fell into well… existence . But despite an unconventional entrance, he seemed to Tallyho to be the most normally dressed individual in the area if she discounted the fact that he was off-season. But the blonde soon learned that his appearance was nothing, if not a slight surprise, compared to what came in after him.

Tallyho would later come to think of this scene as a personal moment of reckoning. A moment where every prayer skipped and dance half-assed culminated into this brush with the physical manifestation of death (a punishment). Even later, she would reckon that her witnessing this event was her signature on a lifelong contract that she would never live to break. But that is a tale for another time.

It was something out of her Baba’s most depraved bedtime stories, and Tallyho always thought that her grandmother was a sick old broad for forcing images like this on her before rest. But it was a figure whose likeness she shuddered at nonetheless, who stole her way in fever dreams. A legend that most people mocked by the time they were old enough to ride horses by themselves, but it was no less terrifying in theory. Besides it was easy to make fun of something you didn't know could come maim you in broad daylight. And now the cyclopean was here in the flesh, ready to rip her apart like a tender breast of hen, bronzed and seasoned over the fire of the hunt. Tallyho felt the ringing in her ears as the young man next to her inquired frantically:

“Are you with them? Is this some kind of method acting?”

She searched her brain for the words, but her thoughts were stifled by the intensifying barks of his dog.

Tallyho’s instincts told her to run, but she was frozen in fear, worried that any sudden movements might agitate the cyclopean and make her its second course. A week ago, Tallyho would have said that she felt indifferent toward the idea of death. “Bone to bone, dust to dust,” she would have hummed. It wasn’t that she necessarily sought death, it’s just that she decided that there wasn’t much for her to look forward to. Yet she never desired life more than she did in this moment.

In-between panicking and straining to remember the appropriate prayers to save her soul after all was done, she probed her brain for anything ever learned about cyclopean at bed time—any piece of information that could kill this Airesian boogeyman.

The ringing in her ears continued and the sounds around her became more distant. She could feel a fainting spell coming as the songs from childhood flooded back:

The darkness, it hadn’t been fed./ Tore the town allaway to its red/till the butcher, he chopped of its head!

And then she remembered. She pressed the pads of her fingers firmly against her temples. Shutting she her eyes tight against the stress pains (and hunger pains too, she realized.)

“The head,” Tallyho huffed under her breath. She said it a second time but her voice was still weak, “The head. Take it off.” She wasn't sure about this... What if she was wrong? What if she got the only armed person in the vicinity killed and everyone else shortly after? She wondered if the warrior heard her, or if anyone who could pass the message along did?

As far as Tallyho was concerned, this entire situation—her sudden appearance in a foreign land, the supernatural events, hell, even her lack of having been able to eat a proper breakfast—was stressful and downright disrespectful. It had to stop.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Aster Storm Character Portrait: Sorrell Hunt Character Portrait: Vegas Sinclair Character Portrait: James Labonair Character Portrait: Emerson Motlilio
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H E A T H E RXD E V E R E U X
_____ T H EXA R T I S T _____

Outfit: Link Here
Location: Central Park, NY
Dialogue Color ✦ #8A4E62
Thought Color ✧ #3A0012



Considering the fact that there was a girl in a tree that she definitely didn't hallucinate because she was talking to said girl and there happened to be other people who saw her as well, the day honestly shouldn't have been able to surprise Heather any further. It just shouldn't have. She was supposed to just help this Tallyho person, if she could, and then probably get back to their hotel since she and her family were checking out first thing in the morning to get to their family's home (they only checked into a hotel because the drive had made her mom super tired and they figured that stop wouldn't have been too much). Never mind the fact that her bracelet had felt like it had been trapped by the heater for too long and there was seriously something up with the specific people who happened to wander into this part of the park where they were the only people on this side of the park. Never mind that because that was happenstance. All of those things were happenstance. Shit happened, that was the way life worked. She could accept that. A creature and a guy appearing out of literally nothingness was an entirely different story and Heather was definitely sure she had drank more wine than she had been pretty sure that she had because absolutely anything was possible at this point.

"Holy fucking shit, are you fucking serious!?" Was the only appropriate outburst at that particular point. Beasts like that one were on television. You could perhaps catch one on MTV's Teen Wolf if you went back to that one season with the original were-creature - she didn't even want to attempt to figure out what this creature-thing was - or even Supernatural. Hell, Game of Thrones was the best option - where the hell was HBO to come get their shit when you needed them? They could post all the nudity and unnecessary rape of their female characters, but can't come get one of their CGI thingies out of Central Park...Heather might have been ready to have a nervous breakdown. But Heather had to contend with the reality that this wasn't some story and she wasn't in front of a television. This was real fucking life and they all needed to really fucking get out of here...except she couldn't. There was fear, definitely. Her heart was racing, she couldn't take her eyes off of the creature - nor stop the gasp when it charged at the guy with a sword worthy of King Arthur - and it felt like something was trying to claw its way out of her chest...a scream, perhaps? It was a situation where she really wished she could call for her dad. But she didn't. And she didn't exactly think it was fear. It was awe - a deep, irrevocable sense of shock that just disallowed her to make one movement, though she did grab a hold of Tallyho, a steadying hand on something real, something else solid. Plus, it would probably be helpful to make sure that if they needed to run, the other girl actually ran.

They probably needed to run right the fuck now, but again, not being able to move was being a bitch that Heather couldn't ignore.

"W-wait, what?" Heather managed out, glancing at Tallyho. She had muttered to herself first, something almost indiscernible, but when she spoke louder, it made Heather's smooth brow furrow up slightly in consternation because how the fuck would Tallyho know that. "Hold on, how do you - ?" Yo, we ain't got time for that, her brain helpfully supplied and Heather ground her heels into the solid ground beneath her, turning her attention back to the mysterious fighter. And no, she was not going to acknowledge what he was wearing nor acknloweldge that he was wearing it during the summer. Nope, not at all. Heather cupped a hand on the side of her mouth and yelled, "Hey, take off the head!" She didn't even know if Tallyho was right - and how can anyone be right in this kind of weird ass situation? - but it was something. At least it semi justified them still being there and not getting the absolute fuck out of dodge.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Aster Storm Character Portrait: Sorrell Hunt Character Portrait: Vegas Sinclair Character Portrait: James Labonair Character Portrait: Emerson Motlilio
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Ron lifted another bite of pasta to his mouth, savoring it once it reached the destination. He was dining at Mick's Italian down 6th street. It was a nice, family oriented restaurant that had Irish and Italian food. The food was great, but what Ron kept coming back for was the whiskey, which was all imported from Ireland. Some people say that wine is great with every meal, to which Ron would interject. He downed rest of his drink after finishing his meal and waved the waiter for the check. After paying he got a cab to Central Park.

There was a meeting that Ron was making his way to in Central Park between his investment manager and man with a potential factory startup. He planned on creating a chemical plant in the Bronx, though they would be talking about ways around certain city regulations. Since the meeting was casual, Ron wore a sports coat with jeans and dark loafers. He looked forward to the meeting as he was trying to make a name for himself in the city past Wall Street.

Getting closer to the destination, he noticed an odd sight off to his side. There was a crowd of people standing around what looked like a medieval soldier and some kind of monster. As he got closer he became very impressed. The monster seemed so realistic. He looked around for any cast members and walked over to a girl with a basket of roses.

"Hey Gypsy girl!" Ron called out. "What kind of movie is this?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Aster Storm Character Portrait: Sorrell Hunt Character Portrait: Vegas Sinclair Character Portrait: James Labonair Character Portrait: Emerson Motlilio
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Sorrell felt her throat swell with fear, and her eyes widened as she slowly looked the thing standing in front of her up and down. It was large; and furry; and very, very intimidating. Suddenly her question about what was going on here seemed a lot more prevalent. Clumsy-guy asked about method acting. Sorrell snorted. This guy must be some sort of creator or something, with all of his ideas trying to explain away what was happening tonight.

"Cut the--what! You know what this thing is?" Sorrell looked to Tallyho in shock. And then her head snapped back to the monster and the cute-looking soldier-man who was fighting it. Sorrell was good at assessing people in situations, looking for their reactions. It was what she did. There was no better way to get the gist of a conversation than just to look at someone's face and know what was happening. So, when she looked to the rest of this ragtag group's faces, she knew she wasn't the only one who was scrambling to try and explain this away.

Her mother had said that some things couldn't be explained, and Sorrell was starting to think that she was right. She may be clinically insane, but looking at the scene in front of her, Sorrell could understand her justification. Only, even she didn't think it was possible for so many people to be having the same hallucination at the same time. This had to be real. Right?

"Well, someone has to get the head!" She yelled out again as the monster prepared to charge. Her feet were rooted the ground. Why wasn't someone else fixing this? She wasn't even supposed to be here, so this clearly wasn't her problem. She shouldn't have to fight this thing. But, the better part of her psyche told her that she could never forgive herself if these people died today because she couldn't just take this in stride. Even though taking the appearance of a horror movie character in stride isn't usually a requirement of life, apparently the stars were messing with her a lot today. At least Fate was having a little fun.

She saw soldier-man standing in place, ready to take on the beast with everything he had. She did not know him, but she found herself admiring his courage. Or his stupidity, depending on how this whole thing ended. Sorrell wanted to help. It was in her nature. So, she analyzed the situation. She had no athletic prowess to speak of, but her mind was sharp. And her mind was able to find a possible solution in the tree that Tallyho had gotten stuck in. The tree that seemed to start this whole mess. Just like it was in her nature to help others, it was in animals to meet a threat head on.

She sprinted for it, swinging up onto the lowest branch and staring down at the monster. She wasn't that high, barely five feet off the ground, but she was now eye-level with it, and it was staring at her. She'd had a hunch. She was not a hero in any way, but she had a feeling that soldier-man was. "Kill it now! While it's looking at me!" The beast started to snarl, but she knew that as long she stayed still, it wouldn't move. At least, if it was like the bear she'd dealt with last year, it wouldn't move. This thing was bigger than a bear, but predators were all the same, right? So, she waited for her distraction to pan out and for someone else to come and save the day, because that was what she could count on. This wasn't going to be her problem for much longer.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Aster Storm Character Portrait: Sorrell Hunt Character Portrait: Vegas Sinclair Character Portrait: Emerson Motlilio
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Dorian Steinsson


If Dorian had been concerned about fighting a legendary monster with just a sword (which, as a relatively sensible person who was already injured, he absolutely was), there was some modicum of relief for him within the following four minutes. People were screaming the moment the Cyclopean arrived, something Dorian could hardly fault them for. The words were mostly in Common, he guessed, stained with accents he couldn't quite put his finger on (not surprising given that his encounters with foreigners were few and far between, even in Kora. Those that he'd actually interacted with were more keen to practice their own grasp of his language than to let him practice theirs, as was the way of foreign diplomats eager to impress), and he was momentarily grateful for his mother's insistence on teaching him more than just the language of Hales. Well, grateful until he realized the initial gems of knowledge being throw his way were simply to run.

That was all well and good for them, Dorian supposed, but turning your back on a nine-foot nightmare that seemed relatively eager to rip out your spine simply wasn't in the cards for this soldier. He dropped into a more appropriate defensive stance, adjusting his grip on his sword. No, there was no running away. The name of the game was survival, and, as the Cyclopean lashed its tail feverishly from side-to-side and jerkily began to thrust forward a menacing claw already glistening scarlet with Dorian's blood, Dorian was reminded that one of the most important elements of survival was luck. Which, as it turned out, most people around here didn't really have.

Take for instance the dog (or at least he thought it was a dog, although not a breed he'd ever seen) hurtling towards the Cyclopean and sinking its teeth into the monster's haunch, a bewildered and horrified boy not far behind. The nightmare creature let out another blood-curdling screech, another chilling message being sent to the prehistoric hind brain of all those who heard it to run, run, run. It was a wounded animal, after all, not one seeking revenge. It would go after the most pressing threat, and that did not exclude small beasts with sharp teeth, even if it didn't succeed in breaking through the Cyclopean's thick, scaly hide.

The boy pulled the dog off but froze to the spot as his dog continued to howl and snarl, lunging for the Cyclopean again and again. The boy hissed something, something foreign and strange (and maybe about ducks and life? Was that the Common word he had used?) and turned to stare at Dorian. And now, Dorian realized, he had a responsibility. Great. There were few things worse in a battle than having to worry about another person, especially one missing both weapon and appropriate protection from the elements. It was even worse in close quarters where they made life more difficult simply by being too close, a possible further obstacle in an already difficult fight.

That was when the call was made, a yell among the chaos that caught even Dorian's attention in the heat of the moment.

"Hey, take off the head!"


He spared the speaker a half-second glance, an oddly dressed girl possibly from Nomansland standing next to a nearly catatonic blonde, the only person here who didn't look strange apart from her clothes being the wrong season. The call was in Common, but he was adjusting quickly enough, always better at comprehending than speaking the other language.

The head. That was right. That was the appropriate way to do it. It was always the head in his grandmother's stories, always the neck that needed to be chopped through to kill a Cyclopean quickly. There were other ways to do it, but this was the way of the human hero, not one of the glistening Month Warriors with their spectacular powers and weapons.

Which left his next course of action clear. Step one was to get the other man out of the way, and it wouldn't be pleasant- for the other boy at least. Dorian's unarmed hand was already lashing out, thrusting a palm painfully and forcefully into the other boy's chest. The movement ached, Dorian remembering too late that he was using his injured, bleeding arm, but with any luck, the other boy would go flying back, out of the range of the Cyclopean's swooping claws and thrashing tail. The dog may be loose for a moment, may even turn on him for attacking its apparent owner, but Dorian was far more willing to take that chance than risk another untrained person running around underfoot.

Now was his chance. The beast was still distracted, black, black eyes narrowed in on the dog and its master, and it was time for step two, to simply cut off the creature's head. It would have been that easy if another person hadn't entered the fray.

It was a girl, a brunette running towards them and jumping onto a tree branch, yelling at him to... yelling at him to move while the monster was distracted. And the Cyclopean was distracted, but perhaps not in the way she had hoped. The Cyclopean was confused, but it was like an automaton, a being that would keep moving, keep fighting until it was no longer able, regardless of wounds and the odds against it*. It would go for the closest threat, and this pale little thing throwing itself into the creature's space and yelling alien, alien words was as good a threat as any.

*When later recounting the moment, Dorian would feel an odd sort of kinship with the Cyclopean at that description, which he decided to never dwell upon again because that was just depressing.


The Cyclopean reared another arm back, claws sharp as swords arcing forward in a sudden movement. Dorian didn't have time to do anything about that because it was moving too fast and just a little too far for him to intervene. He pitied her fate, but didn't feel any particular remorse on his own part. She'd thrown herself into a battle, had likely known the odds, and this was the price to be paid by all combatants some day. Instead, he let himself move behind the creature, sword arcing backwards to take its head. Too late for the girl, but not too late for Dorian or the rest of these strange people.


Jules Fontaine


This, of course, didn't happen. To pull our attention back to another player in this incredibly bizarre game of Monster Fighting, Jules was, against his better judgement, still on the scene. Of all of the Earthlings in Central Park, he was possibly the only one convinced of the monster and his vicious looking opponent's authenticity almost automatically. After all, Dorian had literally burst from the Earth about three feet from Jules, dragging an unmanly shrill shriek from Jules's mouth when the sword popped out first followed by an actual human. And that was weird. That was incredibly, stupidly weird, so Jules began to back-pedal, out of the way of the bizarre man with an honest-to-God sword who'd just randomly popped out of the Earth.

Wide-eyed and confused, he'd observed the man with the same sort of shocked way the man was observing his own surroundings. He was a fierce, dark looking person, a little too sharp, a little too lean, and a little too wolf-like for Jules's taste. His clothes were thick and the fabric- it was breath-taking, all wool and a type of cloth he'd never seen before, something painfully foreign and old-fashioned. He looked every part the villain from some Game of Thrones knock-off, and common sense had Jules inch slowly backwards, careful not to draw attention to himself.

But maybe this man wasn't the villain of this piece, he later realized, because a giant monster was suddenly digging itself out of the same hole. Now that... That was villain material. The other man looked practically heroic in comparison. The thing was a piece of Jules's darkest nightmares, too alien, too lizard-like, and too frightening almost to comprehend. He stumbled backwards, unheeding of being quiet or careful now, throwing himself behind the nearest tree. The tree that started it all, although he was never to know that.

He wanted to run, wanted to get out of there and make it for home (he would choose even the pretentious scoffs of actors over death any day, although it was a near thing), but his legs were like jelly, buckling around the knees until he collapsed behind his hiding spot. Oh, God. Oh, God. Why hadn't he just gone home? He was going to die here, and... Nope. This was not his fault. This was definitely going to be someone else's fault because Jules did not ask for this. Whether it was the monster's fault for springing into existence from the depths of human terror or his parents' fault for being so dumb and disappointed that he didn't want to go home, this was not on him. Fuck that. His choices were fine.

Despite his panic, despite the way that his teeth were set on edge and the goose flesh that rose on his skin in primal terror when the monster screamed, he was soon able to move a little, to turn back and witness the scene behind him. There was that dog again, its animal instincts driving it to attack the giant, looming threat, despite its owner's protests. And the warrior, he was still there (thank God), pushing the boy and dog back and heaving his giant sword (if it had been any other situation, he might have giggled at the phrasing) backwards, ready to take the advice of someone shouting about cutting off its head. Good. Good, yeah, that was good. Things could end well.

Or maybe not because a girl was suddenly at the very same damn tree he was trying to hide behind, yelling and swinging on a branch to catch the monster's attention. And the monster was moving too fast for anyone to stop, deciding the yelling girl was a threat to be reckoned with. Enormous claws sliced through the air, aimed right at her throat. That's when Jules did an incredibly stupid thing.

There wasn't much thought that propelled him forward, no real common sense. He was just moving, and it felt like an out-of-body experience because surely this wasn't Jules Fontaine rushing forward, surely it wasn't him jumping and grabbing the girl around the middle, pulling her forcefully down, down, down to the earth below, landing among the winding roots of the tree in a tangle of limbs. The claw passed through thin air, striking the tree itself and sending shattered bark onto the two beneath the tree.

"You crazy bitch," Jules breathed, in shock of his own actions, and one could never be sure if it was to Sorrell or to himself.


Dorian Steinsson


Now that was unexpected. Dorian hadn't seen the person behind the tree (an issue he'd have to work on because he knew better than to ignore his surroundings during a fight), but he'd certainly seen the blonde person move, yanking the girl out of the way in one quick, brutal move. Well. Good on (her? him? Dorian didn't have the time to really tell or really care).

Dorian took his opportunity, moving swiftly, unhindered by his familiar blade and the pumping adrenaline of a fight masking the ache of his arm. He could feel the necklace under his shirt pulsate with his heart beat, now warm and grounding instead of burning. He didn't bother to cry out when he moved (screaming at enemies was typically frowned upon in a sneak attack), instead swinging his sword with a quiet precision at the Cyclopean's neck. The first blow didn't cut through the scales completely, stopping halfway. The second nearly had it as the Cyclopean let out its last blood-curdling screech. The third, however, finished the job, the head toppling to the ground in a dramatic, but surprisingly clean fashion. There was no spurt of blood, no slow ooze from the stump of its neck as the body toppled over soon after. Instead, the body seemed to glisten in the sun, glitter like a thousand jewels before shattering into onyx shards.

Dorian stood above the mound for a moment, breathing hard and resisting the urge to smash through the stones again with his sword just for good measure. Instead he knelt down and grabbed a handful of them in a gloved hand. A good trophy, perhaps, or at least something to deliver back to Hales as evidence.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Aster Storm Character Portrait: Sorrell Hunt Character Portrait: Vegas Sinclair Character Portrait: James Labonair Character Portrait: Emerson Motlilio
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Aster Storm


It's just a dream.Aster told herself, denying that the painful heat coming from her wrist meant that it could not be. Really. It will be okay. I don't know where I am, but it will be okay.

She desperately clutched at the basket of, admittedly ragged, roses that had somehow managed to come with her. The tension in her stomach eased as she took a deep breath and tried to get her bearings.

Then came the roar, unlike anything she had heard before. The color left her face and, though she certainly did not want to see what had made the awful sound, she could not stop herself from turning around. Her eyes met the creature and, for a moment, Aster was completely in denial.

Impossible. It isn't real. It cannot to be real.

Of course, the people in Le Fey believed fervently in the Old Thought, and therefore the Cyclopeans. Though that was what she was raised to believe the stories of the King of the Void and the mother, she had always assumed them to be old superstitions. She never dreamed them to real, and definitely never thought to see one.

Having little idea as to what else she could do, Aster ducked behind the bench, hoping in vain for any amount of protection the small thing could provide, not even noticing the battle ensuing behind her.

Some man strolled up to her like there was no danger whatsoever and started talking to her.

Bewildered, she rambles in her almost British accent,"What are you doing? What are you talking about? What is a movie?" Then she pulled at his hand to try to get him under some sort of cover as well. "Why would you be so laid-back about a Cyclopean? They kill people!"

Nearly as quickly as she had finished her little freakout, she heard the creature's cries of pain and then a hush. How much crazier could this get?

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Aster Storm Character Portrait: Sorrell Hunt Character Portrait: Vegas Sinclair Character Portrait: James Labonair Character Portrait: Emerson Motlilio
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vegas had grown up in new york city.

this didn't mean she was immune to all weirdness, and the chaotic drama happening as people materialized on the ground was mostly easy to handle, as long as she didn't think too hard. sure, it was confusing, but she'd learned to prioritize and figure things out one step at a time. v had considered, strongly considered, just walking away and leaving the scene for the rest of the people to deal with, but the sudden burning pain from her choker convinced her otherwise.

she pulled the metal away from her skin, wondering what could possibly have caused such intense blistering pain. she noticed a few others tugging at accessories as well- perhaps whatever was bringing these people out of thin air reacted negatively with the metal. she unclasped the choker, sliding it into her pocket and hoping that some thief wouldn't snatch it.

it was clear that a pickpocket would be the least of her worries as soon as a man appeared from seemingly nowhere like the rest had. he was attractive enough, she supposed, but with how bundled up he was she couldn't really see much of him at all. the odd manner of dress reminded her of period pieces that she'd seen her father directing- clothing that she couldn't quite place, but seemed aged nonetheless. the girl backed away, careful to avoid the group clustered by the sidewalk.

it wasn't until screams of pedestrians sounded in her ears that vegas truly glanced back to the scene. a massive, godzilla-esque monster had appeared along with the mysterious strangers.

v wanted to run, to hide with the pedestrians, but something pulled her back towards the creature. she fished in her purse for a second before procuring a small can of pepper spray.

she didn't want to get too close, but if the thing charged at her, she wanted to be well-protected.

luckily, she didn't end up needing it at all. her mind was spinning, but she was sure that she saw a couple of the people distracting the creature while the man in thick clothing swiped at it with a sword that was most definitely not a stage prop. she couldn't look away- she had a strong stomach, and biology had always been a favorite class of hers. she found herself inching forward, knowing that it was quite dangerous to do so.

one of the girls from before called something out about going for the head, and things clicked for v. were these people from the same place as this monster? did it follow them here?

she watched in twisted interest as the bundled-up-man took multiple chops at the thing's neck. she didn't mind the blood and gore, and the fact that it looked like no creature she'd ever seen before piqued her interest. she walked closer, only a dozen or so feet behind the man as the creature dissipated into dust. he crouched to collect something, scale-looking rounds, and v peered down at them. she was hesitant to pick them up, but when the man shoveled a bunch into his pockets, she delicately bent down to pick a couple up. maybe she could match them up later if she had some free time.

now wasn't the time, though. she glanced around, trying to take in the aftermath of the creature's attack. the guy with the dog returned, talking to the man in coats, and v decided that she might as well try to figure out what was going on too. she stepped up, physically inserting herself into the conversation. her eyes glanced down to the dog, a tiny smile curving her lips.

"i'm vegas," she interjected. he voiced her thoughts, and she added on to the end-"are these things from wherever you guys came from? i'm assuming you're not from around here, considering those jackets."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Aster Storm Character Portrait: Sorrell Hunt Character Portrait: Vegas Sinclair Character Portrait: James Labonair Character Portrait: Emerson Motlilio
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Tallyho hardened her stance as the woman with the intricate hair gripped her arm firmly. She couldn’t blame her, utter chaos was unfolding around them: The sweet pup who’d doused the blonde’s face in sloppy kisses only moments before, was now unsheathing its teeth, gnawing at the cyclopean like a particularly empowered mosquito. People around them were screaming and gawking, aiming their small rectangular devices in the direction of the monster. She wondered if the curious knick-knacks agitated the cyclopean more, seeing as they didn’t seem to be doing anything to kill it. One woman even threw herself upon the very tree that Tallyho had been trying to finesse her way out of since the beginning of this fiasco. And when the cyclopean let out another blood curdling screech? Well, Tallyho’s heart sank to the absolute pit of her stomach. Her legs felt weak and her waif figure threatened to collapse into the grass like a skipped stone sinks to the bottom of a river bank. Tallyho’s ears seemed to fill with water as she watched the warrior take a few messy swings to the monster’s neck. She couldn’t clearly hear the curdling hack of the warrior’s sword into the cyclopean’s tough, scaly neck, or the tingle of small onyx shards raining down on the width of his blade as the terror shattered from existence.

She stood there for a while, watching the pile of shards as a few hands seemed to pick through the dark gems left behind. As pieces were taken, Tallyho wondered what part of the cyclopean they were taking with them? Arm or leg? Jaw or claw? She halfway wondered why they’d want this sort of memorabilia at all. Her light head seemed to float back down to reality and the echoes in her ears corrected themselves.

She was a bit pleased (just a little) that her advice was right. That for once, she could definitively prove to her Baba that she had been listening to something all these years. She would have counted this accomplishment as a personal victory for the day, except what happened next gave breath to a whole new list of things she could have given herself a pat of the back for surviving.

There was a soft, low rumble in the distance. A sound Tallyho likened to wind rippling past her ears when she rode a horse at full speed. The sound was dense, and increasingly becoming loud. And then there were the trees—the leaves shuddered slightly and then more abruptly. Her green eyes were trained on the foliage, and without thinking she slowly reached up to grab the other girl’s arm too. It was a non-verbal gesture—one that would have translated as “not today Satan,” had there been such a figure in Airesian lore.

And then there was a light, a growing dome that seemed to creep from between the tall buildings on the horizon. The light inched slowly at first, but as it grew closer, one would realize that it was barreling in their direction at such a high speed that there was no chance at out-running it. As it came, the slow tremble of the lawn became more of an earthquake accompanied by a fantastic gust of wind that licked back Tallyho’s tresses in a single brush.

Tallyho, if she wasn’t already gone, decided that she was going to die today. The wall of light wasn’t stopping. It was far from stopping. It was going to decimate everything in its path and all of this extraneous stress would have been for absolutely nothing. Tallyho’s existence would have meant nothing. That cyclopean? Nothing. The wind felt increasingly suffocating as the light hurdled closer. Tallyho always thought that if she was going to die young, it was going to be on her own terms. But now, she supposed that she was a total fool because, hello, who could ever forget the great big explosion of light that occasionally ravaged the planet at unexpected moments? Silly, silly Tally.

The light was here now. Blinded, the child of the sun closed her eyes, held her breath, and let the wall of energy crash into her being.


*** THE CORE ***


It was like experiencing death while still being very alive. Sounds like some form of torture, but Tallyho didn’t seem to feel much of anything. It was a form of removal. Not the emotional kind she tended to excel at, but a more spiritual sort. She was floating in the center of nothing and everything. In nothingness for eternity. Incubated and independent of all facets of reality. Healed of all that ailed her only moments before: The dizziness, nausea, and heaviness in her heart was spooned from her chest and poured somewhere far away. The scrapes and scars on her knees and elbows that she acquired from her fall were wiped smooth from her skin. Her eyes were open, but everything was so dark that she wouldn’t have known the difference.

Another light flickered in the distance, but it was nothing like the frightening wall of energy that brought her here. It was warmer, softer, like a fuzzy laser pointing to the center of the universe.

Tallyho no longer felt like she was floating. Something cold pressed against her soles, and the pull of gravity felt gradually more apparent. Below her feet, a sprinkling of small white lights, almost like stars in a night sky. They forged a path running toward the light.

Beneath the transparent path of stars, a murky body of water was churning as if it wavered in a storm. And then she looked up, catching a glimpse of a flock of twelve large birds. They, glided above her gracefully, a mass exodus of white underbellies fleeing toward the warmth of the light. Their forms were soft and round. But what was behind her? She turned around to see a wide gaping vortex, muddied with shades of blue and black.

And as if on cue, it was like the houselights came on in a theatre. Gradually, scattered along the narrow path of stars, the blonde was able to make out the forms of the other people around her. There weren’t many, but she actually recognized some of them: The girl with the intricate hair, the warrior, the man with his dog, and others. She wondered if they could see her as well as she could see them? She took a step forward and physically she felt great. It was like she never jumped out of the tree or was on the verge of throwing up. She wondered if they felt the same inexplicable pressure to make a decision: To walk toward the light? Or not?

She looked toward the soft light, the direction in which the twelve birds flew. Then she turned to face the warped vortex at the other end of the path. It didn’t seem particularly inviting.


She wasn’t sure whether or not she should inquire about what everyone else was going to do. It was simple for her, she had made her decision. Besides there weren’t many options to choose from.

“I don’t know what happen,” she began. “But I go this way, I think.” Her voice echoed softly in the darkness. The blonde turned on her heels and began a hesitant stride toward the light. Her pale skin and light hair looked luminescent as she went.

The water below seemed to grow increasingly restless. Tallyho stopped half way across the path, growing ridged as she felt the faint vibrations from the star path at her feet. She thought of it as a threat that the path could shatter at any moment and dump them all into the mysterious waters below. Tallyho knew that she wasn’t going to allow herself to fall into that, but she halfway hoped that the others would pick a side of the path and scram, because this didn’t seem like a very stable place.

The blonde flinched, sucking air through her teeth as a cold wave of water billowed up on the path and took a lick at her feet. More waves seemed to follow suit. The water was rising and it didn’t seem like they had much time to meander in the void any longer. It was now or never.

She glanced pleadingly at the group before continuing on even faster, nearly sprinting toward the light. The warmth enveloped her and she fell into what felt like a nosedive into the sun.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Aster Storm Character Portrait: Sorrell Hunt Character Portrait: James Labonair Character Portrait: Emerson Motlilio
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H E A T H E RXD E V E R E U X
_____ T H EXA R T I S T _____

Outfit: Link Here
Location: Central Park, NY
Dialogue Color ✦ #8A4E62
Thought Color ✧ #3A0012



Heather could've smacked the brunette for running over to the tree in the way that she had, ineffectively trying to distract the monster so that the warrior guy could do as they instructed. Heather herself would've did the same thing, if she had the opportunity, but it was easy from the outside to be upset, to worry. To mother-hen, as her sister said she was capable of doing. Heather denied it, but there was some truth to the accusation. When it was herself doing the risking, it escaped her primary thought process that she mattered as well and therefore, should think of her own self-preservation, not just everyone else's. But that didn't mean that she couldn't scowl at the brunette for endangering herself like that, especially since the monster had already been distracted when she did it and she only made it slightly more difficult for warrior-guy. However, then a blonde snatched her from the tree just before the girl could obviously die and Heather breathed out a sigh of relief, sending an almost ecstatic smile to Tallyho before realizing that the blonde beside her was looking at something much different than she was a moment later.

The sound that whizzed past Heather's ears reminded her of her childhood of taller roller-coasters that went faster and flipped her around and around, and it was near deafening. But more importantly, the light approaching them was overwhelming and yet beautiful. It reminded Heather of all of those Sunday school jeers from classmates that believed that the world would end in fire. That they would all be swept up in a suffocating flurry of all-consuming flames and heat, and everything that they knew would be disintegrated. She remembered crying the first time she heard it because God had promised that he would not flood the earth like he had done before, and fire seemed plausible to her younger brain. It also had seemed painful. And this light - though obviously not flame-like in appearance at all - promised a fate that Heather knew she couldn't run from. So, she stayed, a tear she hadn't even realized had been welling in her eye, dropping onto her cheek as she felt Tallyho reach out for her. As it closed over her, swiping through her being with such a blinding ferocity that Heather had to close her eyes on a gasp, she wished she could see her mother at that moment. She had promised the older woman a self-portrait before they left.

The first things that Heather saw when she was able to again were the birds. They were concentrated in their swarming, a cloud of pristine-white that glided effortlessly with one another. It was like a little show, she mused. And they were all moving towards another light, and Heather felt its beckon even as she felt a flicker of trepidation. Looking back, what she had noted as a sort of ephemeral darkness - the one that had overwhelmed her mere moments ago - looked like a black hole to Heather. It looked like it would suck her into nothingness and spit her out chewed out and damaged beyond repair. And she didn't want that, not when it felt like there was something better down the path. The decision was made even more apparent by the backward steps she took from the Void, refusing at all to be lured by it. There was a surge of energy in her core, a light presence that had not been there when they had been in Central Park, and it propelled her towards the light, her steps faltering only when the path beneath her trembled in what Heather believed to be impatience, but that was also her brain feeling slightly muddled even as she quickened into a jog. Briefly, before she passed through the light, Heather thought of her mom. She also thought of her sister and how whenever she got back home, she was never letting her older sister try hallucinogens. Because Heather was witnessing something fantastical beyond her wildest dreams without the aid of drugs. Obviously, her sister didn't need that shit.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Aster Storm Character Portrait: Sorrell Hunt Character Portrait: Vegas Sinclair Character Portrait: James Labonair Character Portrait: Emerson Motlilio
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OOC: **WELCOME TO AIRES** I've added an event to the Events/Side plots board.



Tallyho was face down in the dirt, basking in the warmth of the sun like a fried egg. The skirt of her white dress and her yellow hair spread about her in tangles, crinkles and knots, the kinds of imperfect textures a person discovers after waking from the deepest of slumbers. Once again, the bounties of nature pressed deeply into her cheek as she nuzzled the soil, sleepily brushing way the itching and pinching sensations brought on by the dry grass and small pebbles that cradled her face.

Tallyho was alive. The corners of her mouth tugged slightly, she knew it was all a dream! She knew it. She didn’t hear the loud rumbles of those machines and didn’t struggle to wheeze in the thick (likely toxic) air she was surrounded by only moments before. She was ali—

“Ahy!” Tallyho’s eyes flashed open at a sudden jut in her side. She could feel immediately that it came from a hard metal object, but it definitely wasn’t a sword. It didn’t even hurt really, it was just the kind of sensation that would make a person scream “OW” if only because they were caught off guard. She recoiled, lashes fluttering as her eyes bugged and blinked trying to pinpoint the offender, her corneas were assaulted by the sudden burst of light from the sun high in the midday sky.

Bleary-eyed, she made out the silhouette of a man. She squinted— a red-faced older man with thick grey tufts in his salt and pepper hair. He wore a white cotton shirt, dirty and untucked from thin trousers that resembled potato sacks. He gripped a long garden hoe and without much hesitation he tapped at her again, jabbing her in the side like she was a tiny spud, fresh from the dirt and ready for harvest. She sat up this time—her brows tangled in a fury that non-verbally seemed to scream, Are you serious? She curled her lips, face fixed to chew the man out, but she was so disoriented that she could only let out a winded huff.

The man, stared her in the eye as he called out, “Mary, get th’ boss. It looks like ther’re a lot of em!”

Well Tallyho could tell by the crude, unflattering accent that she was still in Solace at least. But what did he mean by a lot of them? Surely he didn’t suggest that the others from her strange dream were also in this field, strewn out around her in this neatly groomed plot? Wait, what do you mean that’s exactly what he meant?

As Tallyho pushed herself a butts’ scoot away from the old man, she looked around in panic, noticing more than a few familiar faces around her. All of the people from that strange city, all of the people from that bridge of stars. All eleven. The man continued to look at her. His voice was stern and on the offensive.

“Now look here girl. I don’t know what you and yer friends were stealing from this farm but yer gonna have to answer to the big boss now.”

Tallyho trembled quietly in fury and confusion. Steal? If Tallyho was going to steal anything it was going to be a hot cooked meal, not this guys’ nakky crops. And who exactly was this ‘big boss’?

“I-I don’t know what you talking about…” Her voice trembled but she brought it down low so that she didn’t sound too mousy.

“Don’t play dumb, girl!” his voice seemed to boom down at Tallyho and while she flinched out of shock, she was definitely feeling very attacked. The blonde almost expected him to stand tall and knock her out with his hoe because of how passionately he barked at her. She never really cared for most men, but this guy was really trying her nerves. This whole experience was trying her nerves. Tallyho was never one to anger quickly, but she was so confused, emotionally exhausted and irritable, that there was a very limited list of things a person could do that wouldn’t absolutely send her over the edge at this point. She didn’t even know if this was real life or a dream or anything really, and here was this three-toothed peasant man slinging his rancid breath and spittle down on her face like some Goddess-given natural disaster. That is where she had enough.

“I not play anything, old man! You the one who play dumb!” She barked accusingly. Her soft spritely features were highlighted by a flush of red that beamed just below the surface of her entire face. “You jab me again with that thing? You will be sorry,“ she hissed, finally swallowing her outburst at its vaguest point. Moments like these were when she wished her mom would
have let her carry a dagger, maybe then she could actually show people exactly why they should be sorry. But unfortunately for Tallyho, this man would never know. And for the record, she definitely wanted to cut him.

Yet somehow the blonde swallowed her anger nearly as quickly as it shot out. She looked away as the older man grimaced above her, his hairy knuckles were curled into two tight knots of anger. The red left Tallyho’s face and it was almost like she never raised her voice at all. This was how it always was, when Tallyho got too angry, excited or happy, her state of neutrality always overcame. She wasn’t exactly sure why she was this way, because it certainly wasn’t the case in the earlier parts of her adolescence, but she definitely had a talent (?) for calming her emotions.

“What’s going on out here?” a voice from the distance implored. Tallyho’s attention whipped to the other end of the field. Another field hand, a younger looking man who was landing a finishing swing at the loosened soil in front of him, wiped his brow and squinted out at the group. He was statuesque, a muscular frame towering six feet high. Tallyho thought he looked a bit like a candle with papery skin and fiery red hair fell in disarray from what looked like a hard day’s work. He was dressed simply—not too dissimilarly from the man Tallyho had been arguing with—but his presence felt a bit more stately. And his voice commanded an air of respect, finer and more confident than the voice of the old man towering above her in an intimidating fashion.

“We’ve got thieves!” The older man howled like a hurt dog cowering to its owner.

“No they’re guests. Stand down. They look worn,” the redhead said resolutely before dropping his gardening tool and walking up toward a grand old house in front of the field. The wood looked old but one could tell that the two story house was well-cared for and rather charming.

As the man swaggered onto the porch, Tallyho wondered if he was going to go get “the big boss” himself. But imagine her confusion when a woman with a large, prominent scar jetting across the better part of her face came gliding toward the man expectedly. On the tray she carried was a brown cloth and a small mysterious box. He took the cloth first, wiping the sweat off of his sun-burnt face and prominent brow before reaching into the small box. Out came a hand-rolled cigar which the woman immediately lit with a sulfur match fished from her apron’s pocket. And like a shadow, she retreated back into the house as quickly as she came.

Tallyho watched the man curiously, the way his narrow eyes appraised the ragtag group. If she didn’t know any better, she would say that he looked a little disappointed.

Between two long puffs of his cigar he spoke:

“You saw some things I presume. I have your answers,” he hummed, squinting at the mountains in the horizon. As he released smoke from the side of his mouth the scar faced woman came back again, this time presenting a saucer that he flicked his ashes into.

If no one understood by then, this man was indeed the big boss.

“Dinner’s almost ready. I’ll answer your questions there.” He said. He seemed so relaxed about it, as if he was used to people stumbling upon his farm like this. He looked at the scar-faced woman, “They’ll be cleaned up and settled by dinner.”

The offer caught Tallyho off guard, but when the man turned around and lumbered into the house casually, leaving no room for questions or banter (at least not with him), Tallyho realized that it wasn’t an offer at all but a fact of life.

The woman with the scar, who looked to be in her late twenties, stepped forward. She had warm brown skin, and dark silken hair that gathered into a tight, almost reflective knot of a bun at the nape of her neck. Her face, even without the scar, would have been average enough, but Tallyho couldn’t help but wonder what she would look like without it even before she wondered what could have caused it.

“That is Haru and this is his farm,” she said. She spoke crisply, offering every syllable with a sharp upward edge. Tallyho could tell even before she spoke that she was another free person (a term the nomadic tribes use to describe themselves as a greater entity)—an Oni tribesman if she was being specific.

“Please. You are welcome to our bath, food, and beds here as our guests. You look like you have many questions. Haru knows lots of things and I’m sure he can help you.”
She nodded approvingly at the group, encouraging them to step forward.

Tallyho glanced at the others, hesitating. To be quite honest, she could use the meal and the bath. But she was already the first to walk into that light and as far as the sun girl was concerned, all of her leadership credits for the day had been expended.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Aster Storm Character Portrait: Sorrell Hunt Character Portrait: Vegas Sinclair Character Portrait: James Labonair
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As the world around him faded to black, Ron was taken by surprise. It felt almost like a trip, but too real. Drugs usually gave a daze like feeling to the world, almost as if one was immortal. This was different since he was too aware of his surroundings. Turning around, there was only one thing in sight, a glowing pillar. Ron gasped as he had thought that he had died and was now in limbo. After a moment of hesitation the young man simply sprinted through the pillar, anxious to see what was on the other side.

Suddenly the darkness transformed into a lush farm. The skies were clear, the air perfect, the birds chirped, and he could hear no automobile from any distance. This must heaven. Ron thought to himself, grinning like a school child. The thought of Hell always hid in his mind, though knowing that he made the right choices in life or receiving great grace filled him with joy. Off in the distance he saw the pretty girl who was in the park speaking to an old man. It looked like an intense argument so he made his way over, so he reached into his inside jacket for his revolver, just in case.

The closer he came, the more the words became clear. The old man accused them of being thieves while the girl furiously retorted. "Shit, I guess I was wrong." He mumbled to himself. If this really was heaven, then there would be no point in coveting resources without mortal bodies. Then a woman with a scar broke the argument by stating that a man named Haru was expecting them all along and was waiting for them.

As Ron made his way to the house he stopped by the old man and cocked his head. "I know you think you must be hot shit, old timer, but if you ever talk to her like that again then I'll shoot you dead." He formed his hand into the shape of a gun and jerked it back violently. "BAM! BAM!" He smirked as he made his way to the house.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Aster Storm Character Portrait: Sorrell Hunt Character Portrait: Vegas Sinclair Character Portrait: James Labonair Character Portrait: Emerson Motlilio
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H E A T H E RXD E V E R E U X
_____ T H EXA R T I S T _____

Outfit: Link Here
Location: Aires
Dialogue Color ✦ #8A4E62
Thought Color ✧ #3A0012



Without warning, Heather felt warm, soft grass beneath her hands and sliding against her bare legs as she moved, and she quickly scrambled up into a sitting position, eyes adjusting to the...landscape. And what a landscape it was because this wasn't New York. Not at all! Heather half-expected the theme song for Little House on the Prairie to start playing because obviously, the universe was fucking with her. It had to be. Today had been racked with frustration and then surprise after surprise, and Heather had reached her surprise quota for the day, thank you very much. When she had stormed out of the restaurant away from her family, Heather had no intention of seeing some random girl in a tree who was clearly more lost than Dorothy in Oz, some warrior-dude and a monster that gave the writers of Game of Thrones a run for their money, nor some random ass gust of pure light and energy that forced her to go down a path (because walking into the black void-thing wasn't even an option that Heather was going to entertain because that had all kinds of the devil in there). And here she was with a group of absolute strangers - whom she clearly was not going to be rid of any time soon - in the middle of nowhere-she-felt-particularly-safe-in and Heather wasn't going to freak out, not in front of these people, but something had to give in about two point five seconds -

"Whoa, hey, Tallyho!" Heather had only heard a small noise from the small distance between herself and Tallyho, but when she heard the blonde yell, that had been enough to get Heather to her feet and jogging over to the girl. At the back of her head, Heather surmised that her shoes were definitely not meant for this terrain. Even though by the time Heather got to Tallyho's side, there was a redhead male peering over at all of them and the older man who apparently been harassing Tallyho backed off, Heather still glared at anyone who wasn't in their rag-tag group, glancing at the side of Tallyho's face to inspect her carefully. "Are you okay?" If there was an answer, Heather couldn't hear it over the redhead male speaking up and Heather watched with narrow eyes as he basically ordered them to get bathed and to have dinner with him for answers, and she huffed in irritation. Big boss or not, Heather didn't like being ordered around, especially after a day like the one they had. But before she could utter a complaint, he was back in the house. "What in the hell is any of this?" She hissed, more to herself than anyone else.

The woman with the scar spoke up then and Heather had to take a fortifying breath if she didn't want to snap at her. The woman wasn't the one who had dismissed them and even though this Haru was offering them a kindness - again, given the day, she still wanted to snap. But the woman before them didn't deserve it. So, when Tallyho pleadingly stared back at the rest of them, Heather sighed, glancing back at the others imploringly. "We should go," she stated and then gestured around them. "We're not getting any answers out here and," Heather finally noticed there was blood on the warrior-guy, "dude, you look like you need medical attention, like, yesterday." Back to the others, she added, "And I don't know about the rest of you, but I don't know where the hell I am and I'm not waiting for another creature thing to come and let me know with their claws, so I'm going in." Sighing again, Heather turned to the woman, putting on a cordial smile, stepping towards the house. "Umm, thank you."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Aster Storm Character Portrait: Sorrell Hunt Character Portrait: Vegas Sinclair Character Portrait: Emerson Motlilio
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Dorian Steinsson


Dorian fought the urge to sink down to his knees in the grass- and it had to be grass although it was so lush and vibrant- and simply breathe for a moment. He’d probably been awake for nearing twenty-four hours at this point, and he’d just fought what was most likely the most interesting battle of his life thus far. All he wanted to do was have a seat, maybe drink a bit of water if something stronger wasn’t available*, and then figure out what in Her Fury was going on.

*Of course he had something stronger available. Stereotypical though it may be, many Halesian citizens did wander around with small flasks of Pyrewater. It was good for battling the cold and had gotten many shepherds and soldiers through the aching chill of Hales in winter.

He refrained, however. It was a matter of dignity as a soldier not to show weakness in front of strangers, especially when representing Hales. Also the strange others had begun converging on the area where he stood, whooping and chattering loudly in a bizarre variety of Common, some raising odd flashing devices, and other pocketing shards of the shattered Cyclopean like so many curious little baubles, which, alright, sort of weird.

He’d heard of people collecting the supposed relics of Month Warriors* to display, but never of Cyclopeans. Okay, yes, he’d taken up the shards first, but he had fought the thing and had earned his victor’s prize, and it seemed relevant to get something like this back home where people might like to know that a mythical creature that shattered into onyx shards was stalking the tundra. He’d never expected to be a trendsetter, and these strangers seemed like they were more inclined towards such morbid things as creature collectables, even after said creature had eagerly attempted to slaughter a few of them.

He’d seen one such relic at a little church his grandmother had taken him to. The main draw had been the favorite left shoe of June, placed on a dais for pilgrims to worship and pray towards. Dorian had never quite understood why it had been June’s favorite left shoe rather than favorite shoe overall, but he’d been too afraid to ask given that his grandmother was in what his mother referred to as “one of her religious fervors”.

He frowned a little or, to be more precise, his permanent scowl lost even more of its pleasantness as he wandered away from these flippant strangers, already more concerned about his own wound than their jovial actions and magpie-like tendencies. His arm had begun to ache as the adrenaline wore off, even if the jagged wound was now only bleeding sluggishly. It was at least a clean cut, Dorian realized as he tore at the hole in his jacket, then shirt sleeve, exposing the wound to his sight. No dirt, not deep enough to really butcher the muscles beneath, no obvious signs of poison or immediate infection (because who knew where those claws had been?). He would like, Dorian decided as he pulled out a scarf from his pack, a spare his mother had made that was a little too lop-sided to wear with his uniform, and began to dress the wound.

Then there was something pressing up against his hand. Even through his thick gloves he could feel it, soft and snuffling intently. He glanced down, piercing gray eyes meeting something far more pleasant and warm. It was the dog from before, the one who’d charged forward to try to take on the Cyclopean, tail wiggling warmly, a far cry from the way it had snarled and lunged and snapped earlier.

Dorian didn’t have a lot of experience with dogs and certainly never one that looked like this, but he accepted the small comfort with gratitude, reaching down and awkwardly patting the creature’s head. Dogs liked that, right? Well, it didn’t bite him, so there was that.

Then the dog’s handler was approaching, the first non-scavenger to come too close to the impromptu battlefield. He seemed to be showing Dorian that he had no weapons, hands up and open before crouching next to his canine companion and pulling the dog into an embrace. It was a little insulting, honestly. There was a cigarette dangling from his lips, or at least what Dorian supposed was one. It smelled more toxic than the ones in Hales, pungent and foul in an uncomfortably artificial way.

The other man, bizarrely clad in colorful clothes and a strange hat that extended backwards (possibly to shade his neck but not his face?) was saying something to the dog, and Dorian tried to pick out the words but could only manage a few. He took a moment to shake off the cobwebs of his mental Common dictionary and escape the exhausted fog that was threatening to set in. Now was no time to let his mind wander. The stakes were too high, and he couldn’t afford to let himself get distracted. Just because one danger was over didn’t mean that another wouldn’t soon begin.

He glanced back again when the dog-handler stood, the first person to deign to get too close. The words and meanings became clearer with each passing moment, and he was finally beginning to understand what was being said. It was just an introduction at first, a small thanks for Dorian killing the beast. The man- Emerson… his name was foreign and strange, as was his dog’s, but he should have expected that. He clearly wasn’t in Hales anymore, wasn’t anywhere he could possibly understand.

And the newly introduced Emerson was speaking softer now so that Dorian had to lean in to catch the foreign language tumbling from his lips. Was it some great secret? No. Just a request for information Dorian didn’t have. If Dorian had been anyone else, he would have laughed. Perhaps he would have said “I don’t know, but be sure to let me know if you find out” in a companionable and earnest way. But that wasn’t Dorian’s way, no matter how hilarious his attempt at casual levity might be.

He settled on a shrug, trusting that to be a universal sign throughout Aires. After a moment, he realized that might not be enough and he had a few questions too, damn it, so he attempted to cobble together a sentence, his ability to speak the language not quite as good as his ability to comprehend it.

“Dorian,” he said, hand flickering to himself. He took Emerson’s offered hand, shook it just once with a too-firm grip (the people of Hales were not fond of limp handshakes) before retracting his hand. “Me… I am…” He struggled to find the appropriate words before settling on, “This is… Where?” a question tinged with a demand filling his tone. The words were thick, framed with the typical Halesian accent, something like a mix between Russian and Norwegian*.

*The Halesian dialect differs depending on your location in the country. More provincial towns and villages tend to lean towards comparatively Norwegian lilts as opposed to the thick Russian-like accents found in larger cities.

Before Dorian could butcher Common further, a woman approached. He recognized her from the few that had wandered over the pile of shards, squirreling a few away as some sort of morbid souvenir. She was no-nonsense, interjecting herself into the conversation without so much as a by your leave, demanding to know if… if these things were from where he was from? Things? Now that was truly bizarre. Every Airesian knew the story of the Goddess and her Month Warriors, a tale so universal that it was found in every continent, every country with little variation. Had she really not recognized the monster for what it was?

“Cyclopean,” he reiterated, gesturing at the pile. The word was universal too, a phrase found in every language known to man on Aires. As for Hales, well… “No. Cyclopean is… Cyclopean is not-“

Whatever Cyclopeans were not, Vegas and Emerson would have to wait quite a while to find out because the light had descended on them, swallowing Dorian from behind. It would infuriate him to no end knowing that he’d been too distracted to see or feel it coming.



Jules Fontaine


In the meantime, Jules was also not having a very good time of it but for very different reasons.

When he’d pulled Sorrell down, he had been moving on pure instinct, the last of an adrenaline filled rush. With that gone, he was simply strewn out like a marionette who’d had its strings cut, gazing at the closest thing- the girl he’d sporadically helped and…

Was she laughing? Was she seriously laughing right now? Jules laid dazed on the tree’s roots, as the girl stood, groaning and chuckling lightly like she hadn’t almost died. Like she hadn’t been a completely idiot. In retrospect it was only a little laugh, something that dazed and shocked people are likely to do, but things were so muddled in Jules’s mind that it might as well have been a big belly laugh or a horse-like guffaw. Chuckling while the Man Out of Time hacked away at the monster’s neck, chuckling as the monster shattered into onyx shards, some flying through the air and dusting his face. He moved reflexively, sputtering as he tried to wipe off the bits of glittering gore that had gotten into his hair. He was met with limited success.

When he stopped his efforts, the girl was smiling at him, a bright, warm grin that contrasted painfully with the world Jules was currently experiencing.

“Only the mad are worth talking to, anyway. Or rescuing, I guess.” It was quirky, it was cute, and it sent Jules into a sputtering mess, phrases like “That doesn’t make any-“, “You crazy-“, and “What, what, what-!” warring with one another until he just staring dumbly, absently flicking a few more pieces of tiny onyx shards off of his person. It wasn’t her fault, not really, but she was the most abnormal, normal thing around him right now, and he had to grasp onto that reality.

So when she finally thanked him and shook his hand as he struggled to his feet on shaking knees, Jules could really do nothing but stare because who even was this Sorrell? How was she not having a panic attack? Is that what was happening to Jules right now? A panic attack? Yeah, well, pretty f*ing likely. He leaned against the tree, breathing shallow, little breaths as cheers broke out, cameras flashed, and others came closer and closer.

He closed his eyes and stilled because he would not make a scene in public. He was one thousand percent better than that, even if he did deserve a little meltdown because, yeah, he had been that close to a giant monster and his own horrible death. All he had to do was back away, find himself a drink (just one, to settle the nerves) and make it to the theatre to hide in his safe space filled with fabrics and sewing machines and not monsters that turned into jewels when their heads were chopped off. Plus, it wasn’t as if he could miss work. While almost dying and seeing something nearly inconceivable might be an acceptable reason to miss work for most people, Madame Belle certainly wouldn’t see it that way.

He was so preoccupied that he didn’t hear the low rumble rising in the distance, couldn’t be bothered to pay attention to the way the wind began to pick up and the ground began to tremble and his necklace had turned ice cold under his shirt. He didn’t notice anything, too far gone in his own mind, until Sorrell moved backwards, bumping into him. His eyes shot open, arms reaching out to steady her automatically as the cold from his necklace seemed to spread to Sorrell, a swear on the tip of his tongue until he saw the light.

It was already bearing down on him, and he couldn’t do much more than scowl because really? Really?


Dorian Steinsson


Dorian’s only thought, drifting or perhaps flying or maybe even staying completely still in this realm of nothingness was something akin to “here we go again”. Did these things happen to other people because Dorian was starting to think that it was just him. At least this sudden bizarre trip through space didn’t include a Cyclopean appearing in nightmare flashes around him like a demented firefly (or at least what he imagined a firefly to be).

There was none of the panic of last time, none of the fear and anger. Just exhaustion and a certain surrender as his entirety began to shift with the environment around him. He wasn’t used to it, but at least he had a better idea of what to expect than last time. Additionally his wounds were beginning to heal, torn flesh stitching together, phantom aches and pains evaporating like all of his wounds had been wiped clean with a single swipe of a warm compress.

He waited patiently as the world began to grow clear again, something solid appearing under his feet. IT was already an improvement from bursting out of the ground like a hare wiggling out of its burrow. What he’d mistaken for the sea of stars now lay underfoot, now revealed as a solid path of the Heaven, glittering as if a beacon over a murky lake, urging it him to follow it to the warm, dull light shining ahead. It wasn’t very frightening, Dorian thought, if only because had only the swirling dark vortex behind him and the rough waters below to compare it to. It was honestly downright inviting. Others seemed to think so, a handful of people who’d also been found in that strange place only moments ago- Emerson, Vegas, the girl who’d shouted her advice… All here with him.

So he began to move forward, pace hastened by the way the waters were now rising, quickly and steadily and ferociously towards those still on the path.



Jules Fontaine


Jules’s trip was not as self-assured. The calm that swept over them all brushed over him as well, kissing upon minor bruises, trailing a touch up the scrape on his hand from where he’d fallen and erasing the small aches and injuries tenderly. It was like being swaddled in a cocoon, but… But Jules had never been good at being told how to feel, unless it was in an acting sense. It was warmth, but it was artificial, and something inside his mind was demanding that he fight it, swinging fists at the soothing emotion as if yelling “Make me, you sonovabitch”

So he thrashed and gasped and found he could not speak, which made him fight it even more. He liked the sound of his own voice, thank you, and he would not be, could not be stifled.

So he arrived in the… in the nothingness, in the darkness still thrashing and gasping and a strangled snarl that echoed loudly, too loudly among the others. He quieted instantly, pulling himself together as the world became whole around him. He stood on a pathway of stars, glittering fairy lights flickering beneath his boots. It drew the eyes, like a powerful stage design, towards the water below, thrashing and murky and ominous before making you want to look up, just in time to see the large white birds overhead, flying towards a warm light, less overwhelming than the one from before. It beckoned silently, a sharp contrast to the less thank welcoming void humming behind him.

It was a simple choice, in terms of basic common sense. Beautiful white birds, warmth, light- it all seemed to point in one direction. The void was a thing of fear, of swirling dark shades of black and blue, the color palette of something more painful, more unpleasant in comparison. Others seemed to agree, stepping slowly towards the initial light. The first one seemed to be glowing, angelic as the warm light pulled her forwards, pulled her in. Others followed, some taking trance-like steps forward, other hurrying forward, flinging themselves into the light.

Jules lingered where he was, content to stay for the moment to assess the situation. Or maybe he was just too tired, too shocked to do much more than gape at this place outside of known reality. That is, he was content to stay until something wet lapped against his ankle. He glanced down, eyes widening. The angry waters below were rising, rising upwards towards them, and urging them to choose their paths now or face something more definite and destructive. The choice was easy. The timing a little less so.

So he began to run, and that was fine except his heels were slipping on the quickly developing puddles, his body already off-kilter from the heavy bag he hugged to his chest (he always said that he’d rather die than lose its contents, and apparently the world was trying to call his bluff). He was falling, falling towards the side of the path, towards the edge, towards the murk that exuded only unpleasantness and fear when a strong hand caught his arm, dragging him up and up and up, then onwards and forwards to the light. It was the Stranger, eyes forward and hand clasped firmly around Jules’s arm, and Jules for one appreciated the assist.

“We go,” the man said, glancing at Jules only once, his voice thick with some odd accent but firm. Jules nodded once, dazedly, as both men picked up speed and jumped through the light together.

Side by Side


They awoke in a country that wasn’t their own, and both men knew from very different signs. Dorian came to facing the sky, a more relaxed heat warming him from Aires’ familiar sun than the place he’d been spirited away to before. But it wasn’t Hales, clearly. You could tell from the weather, from the fields spreading here and there, from the absence of Hales’ jagged, icy peaks on the horizon. No, he was somewhere else. Solace, perhaps, but hopefully not, he barely held back a shudder, the Rose Kingdom.

Jules’s world upon awakening was a world of dirt and pebbles. He was face-down in the soil and couldn’t be bothered to move, hunched over as he was over his bag. He was being childish, he knew that, but he didn’t want to get up and face the reality of the situation. He knew this wasn’t New York. This place was silent in a way New York could never be, the air actually weightless rather than bogged down with smog and general big city stink. Nope. Jules was good down here, defiantly lying face-down on the ground.

So it was Dorian who watched Tallyho’s verbal spar with the crotchety old man, her snarled retort to his spittle-filled rage. He never thought to step in, didn’t quite see the point given that she was holding her own and the old man had done little else than jab at her with accusations and a garden hoe. It was far more interesting to see her retract her emotions, an impressive feat in Dorian’s mind to be able to beat back the incendiary flames of anger so quickly.

But it was Jules, finally dragging himself upwards, clearly under protest, who spotted the other man first. How could he not? A ginger giant, all big and buff and with a swagger permanently set in his step. Jules resisted the urge to groan. Was this just a bizarre lucid dream? Was he in a coma somewhere or maybe Purgatory? It sure as Hell better not be the latter. Jules was not going to play that Lost game.

What happened next felt like a scene from a play, the man pulling out all the stops to show just what position in the pecking order he held. Cigars were lit, ashtrays proffered, and a smooth offer of answers and food were laid before the eleven people, linked together by a single moment, for their consideration. He left them then, seemingly knowing how they would answer.

They stared on in dumb silence. Jules still trying to comprehend what in the name of God was going on and Dorian turning over his own emotions. When the man had spoken, he’d felt the need to stand at attention, but that… That wasn’t right. This man wasn’t a military commander, wasn’t the leader of a mission. Why had he been so compelling? And where had he heard that name…

Haru. That was the man, his scar-faced attendant revealed, a pretty enough woman made all the more striking for the marking. She was more inviting, more polite and succinct in her words. She was waiting for them the make the first move, and for a moment they all shuffled their feet.

That is before one of them, someone neither Jules nor Dorian recognized, began moving forward, self-assured and swaggering. That wasn’t too terribly exciting. No, the really striking thing he did was threaten the old man nearby, the one who’d mistaken them for thieves with a g*d* gun before wandering inside. Dorian narrowed his eyes, the threat clear but the method a little less. Jules stared, mouth agape. This. This he could focus on in a world of insanity and confusion.

“Are you fucking serious?” He breathed, throwing up his arms in exasperation. “Let’s not wait to let everyone know we’re a goddamn sociopath, I guess.”

He turned to the scar-faced woman, lips pulled into a thin line. He didn’t really care what the rest of these chuckleheads did*, but the bulky red-head had mentioned that by the time they’d been cleaned up dinner and, more importantly, answer would be ready. Another girl was already willing to politely take up the offer, team leader level advice included.

*That wasn’t true. He was well and truly invested in what the man with the theoretically itchy trigger finger wanted to do and how to avoid ever going near him again.

"Not exactly any other options," he mumbled, blowing a strand of hair from his face. He glanced at the scarred woman and shrugged, his version of deference. "Mind showing us the way?". A moment of politeness. Remarkable.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Aster Storm Character Portrait: Sorrell Hunt Character Portrait: Vegas Sinclair Character Portrait: James Labonair Character Portrait: Emerson Motlilio
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Aster Storm




She really only had a moment to ponder the man completely ignoring her talking to him before a huge bright light obstructed her vision. As the light moved toward her she tried in vain to shade her eyes with her hand.

There was a moment of nothingness before a feeling of nothingness before a wave of blissful ease. No pain, and no fear.

The sound of waves came to her before she was able to see again. There was a light in the distance and it seemed the people from the place she was before were all with her. There were beautiful birds flying toward the light and it seemed that most people were making their way there as well. Some people were running, some walking. Two of the men were walking together.

After a moment's hesitation, Aster took off towards the light holding her skirt so she wouldn't trip. She loved to run, and the feeling of her legs pumping towards a purpose made her grin. She dove for the light, following those who had made it there first.

Happiness wrapped around Aster like the warmth of a fire on a cold winter's night. She remembered the years in her childhood before her father died and the smiles on her's and her father's faces as he told her stories of her mother. She remembered the feeling of accomplishment when she saw that her first healing concoction had worked.

The grass around her was was sweet and soft. She felt like she could lie there forever. There were no strange lands, people or monsters to bother her now. The peace only lasted for a moment before she heard the ruckus of an argument that was quickly put to rest. She sat to see the man with vibrant red hair invite them to bath and eat with him. What else was there to do, but to comply? After all they were in yet another land, and it didn't look like any of them knew what was really going on. She yet again followed the others into the farmhouse, thanking the woman at the door and waiting for anyone to have an idea of what was actually happening here.

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Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Ron Muller
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A couple of people stepped in to help mediate the argument, but the most confusing “savior” was one of the strangely dressed young men who threatened the old farmer with a “BAM BAM” before sauntering into the house. The blonde looked on questionably as he walked off, not totally sure of what he meant. And if she were being honest, the farmer didn’t look so keen on what was going on either. Nonetheless, he took a step back, mostly out of a dazed confusion, as the young man breezed through.

Tallyho still felt reluctant to go. The scar-faced woman looked trustworthy enough and Tallyho would be more apt to trust another free person than any other type of person, but for some reason she had trouble surrendering herself to this moment, even after all the unbelievable decisions she was forced to make today. Sure, yeah she was totally fine with running on a path of stars and into a big pillar of light, but this completely normal farm house? Well, she’d have some thinking to do, certainly! Tallyho was a pretty self-aware person (almost painfully so) so she recognized the ridiculousness of her relative skepticism, but something about this particular experience felt like it was going to last with her forever. And at this point, it would be a kick in the shin to die on the farm in the middle of nowhere after surviving an actual cyclopean attack.

The woman with the intricate hair, who Tallyho dubbed her consequential companion for the day, announced her entrance into the house. Her intentions seemed good so far, Tallyho felt, and the blonde would have felt pretty bad if she left this perfect stranger alone in what could become a peculiar situation. Many of the others began making a similar decision, and one by one they marched. She scanned the area for other forms of civilization: There were miles of wheat fields, a few wooden houses scattered in the distance (most likely reserved for the farm hands) a mountain range to the north, and a wide expanse of sky. She wasn’t sure if this place was going to be a safe haven, but there was really nothing left for her to do. At least, Tallyho figured, their host seemed to be the quiet type—a personal quality that she wouldn’t mind enduring after such a hectic day.

The woman held the door open for Tallyho as she did for all of the others. Once everyone entered, their hostess, who as about as petite as Tallyho if not slightly taller, shimmied toward the front of the group and cleared her throat for their attention.

“We have three guest rooms in this house with 4 beds in each. You may take whichever room you like,” she announced. She looked down at the dog, nodding and offering a tight line of a smile to Emerson. “If you don’t mind, we can set up a nice haystack for your friend in one of the sheds in the back? I manage the house and I have the illness to dogs,” she said, gesturing toward her nose. She nodded toward another house keeper in the dining room who curiously peered at the unusually large influx of people entering her domain. “If this is fine, Nan over there can take care of your friend, yes?”

Once that was settled, she turned to hike the stairs, the skirt of her plain cotton dress knotted up in her tightly clutched fist. “Follow me please,” she hummed. And the group was lead up what Tallyho felt like was a surprisingly steep flight of stairs. She heaved quietly, trying hard not to betray her slobbish wheezing. She definitely wasn’t the athletic type.

The woman led them down a narrow hallway and gestured toward the three doors at the end of the hall. “Choose any room you like, I will be bringing you fresh clothes. You might want to visit one of the bath houses nearby before dinner. They are separated man and woman. To find them go downstairs to the back of the house. There will be two sheds—left for ladies, right for men. Dinner will be at the turn of light in a couple of hours, please make yourself comfortable.”

And with that, she left.

Well that all seemed easy enough, although it was a little off-putting to Tallyho that there were exactly enough beds in the house available for each of them.

The blonde retreated into the room at the very end of the hall. It was a simple set up: Wooden floors and walls with a pair of parallel beds on each side of the room. But to someone who spent their entire life sleeping in the back of wagons and in tents, it all felt a bit extravagant. She was drawn to one of the beds near the window, and her slender hands traced the wood finish of the bed frame with care. Then she pressed a hand into the mattress, shifting all of her weight into the mass of packed sheep’s wool. The fabric of the sheets were light and airy, perfect for hot summer nights. This… This was nice, Tallyho thought, and her expression showed it. She smirked slyly, lips curling tight as she held back a flash of her teeth. And in one very sudden motion, she thrust herself onto the bed, limbs spread carelessly and unaware of whoever might have been watching.

It didn’t take long for the woman to come to the room with a bundle of folded clothes. She slapped them down onto each bed haphazardly, only pausing to differentiate men’s trousers from women’s dresses, depending on who occupied the other beds. “I will bring shoes later,” she announced.

Tallyho gathered the dress into her arms: a peasant’s garb, light and airy, perfect for the heat of a summer in solace. It looked a bit too Solacian for her tastes but it was a free thing and that was enough to get her at least a little giddy. Plus she could move around in it if she had to make any mad dashes. One could have called Tallyho a material girl of sorts, not in the classic, I have a white horse and the latest fashion sense, but in the sense that any sort of food, cloth or knick knack she happened upon really got her kind of excited. And if TLC ever produced a Hoarders: Aires edition, Tallyho would have easily been the pilot episode's star if given the chance to collect all the things she wanted. And it was kind of a curse (or blessing) that she lived in a community that frowned upon personal ownership, squashing any opportunities for the blonde to act on any of her hoarder-esque predispositions.

The dress was muddled with crisp wrinkles and seemed to have been folded for some time. She hugged the wrinkled ball of fabric, already stoked at the idea of claiming something so simple as her own. Then she made an immediate break for the bath house.

She took a deep breath as she entered the women’s shed. The air was thick and moist and hard to breathe through, but it was no different than any other public bath houses in western Aires. She was greeted by the attendant, an older woman, who sat hunchback between a large caldron of boiling water and another filled with cooler water.

When she saw the blonde enter, the old woman carefully submerged a wooden bucket in the pot of boiling water before hobbling over to one of 4 separated stalls. She dumped the water into the small wooden tub and repeated the process (mixing the boiling water with the cold water) until the tub was filled and at an acceptable temperature.

“Ye lot are very lucky to have this man taking care of ye,” she hummed in her thick, outdated common. “I was near m’sixties when m’son died. The only person taking care of me.”

The woman dumped another bucket.

“When ye don’t have nowhere to go ye come ‘ere… Y’know?”

In the tub, Tallyho thought long and hard about what the woman said. She sat comfortably in her bath stable, white knees pulled up to her chest. She thought that they looked like the two moons of Aires, small crescents of light rocking above the water.

Why were they here in this space for people with nowhere to go?

When Tallyho finished her bath and draped herself in her new cotton dress, she perched on a bench nearby the pump well next to the bath houses, hoping to dry her head with what little light the setting sun could muster before the moons took their shift. Though it was warm outside, the relatively cooler air made her scalp tingle and her pores gasp. She always got to bathe regularly, but that was the best bath she had in a long while. She sat alone, unsuccessfully smoothing out the wrinkles in a dress far too big for her. It swallowed her boyish figure unforgivingly, but seeing as she got it for free, it didn’t seem very reasonable for Tallyho to ask for a different dress. As she peeled back the damp hairs that curled and clung to the back of her neck and the sides of her face, she wondered what they would have for dinner.

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Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Ron Muller
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Ron wandered around the house for a bit before stopping in the living room. The furniture was humble, meaning whoever their host was, he did not care for luxury. Then he found a bookshelf and began to look through them. Most books displayed were either something that complimented the host's interest or were popular enough to recognize. However he could not recognize any of them. Most had foreign titles that he had never heard of until he picked up one called 'Scrapes to Scabs'. He sat down and began to read.

When dinner was called, Ron was stilled buried in the book. It turned out to be an educational book, cataloging every plant and various diseases of an exotic continent. After sitting down out the table he took out a small planner he kept in his jacket pocket and began writing notes to go along with the book. Many of the supposed diseases were similar to malaria or cholera, which could be treated well enough. Though the book advised in this case to treat the subject with salves and potions. It felt more like a hospice care manual than an actual remedy book. Even the treatments were similar to low yield pain painkillers.

"Excuse me, Haru was it?" He addressed the host "Is this book from before the germ theory or is it a history book?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Aster Storm Character Portrait: Sorrell Hunt Character Portrait: Vegas Sinclair Character Portrait: James Labonair Character Portrait: Emerson Motlilio
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Haru ate patiently, not paying too much attention to Tallyho who gobbled up her food ravenously, or Calliope who was clammed up in the corner. If anything he felt like his attention would have made their nervous behaviors worse, and so he focused on seeming as non-threatening as possible by just staying quiet and eating (not that that helped any.) He pinched away yet another dash of crumbs from his beard. Eventually, he thought, he would be due for a cut. But the days have been so long and preparations for this… interesting (?) group of warriors had taken up so much of his time that he didn’t get much of a chance to even think about personal grooming.

This group… They truly weren’t what he expected. Haru thought he would be given a cast of toned and well-weathered individuals ready for battle, especially considering what happened to the last ones. But instead he got a cast of, well, pretty people. The thought of training them made him want to snicker and a part of his soul buckled down for another century or two of waiting for the next cast of warriors because if this dinner scene told Haru anything, these kids might just die.

He hunched down for another snarl at his hen when one of the young men inquired about his book. Scrapes to Scabs… Haru hadn’t picked the thing up in ages and was a little surprised that it was still in the house. Even more surprised that this kid had the balls to touch anything in his house and talk about it.

“It’s… One of the first books of its kind I suppose. Written a long time by this man named Constance,” Haru paused, not sure how to continue talking about the book without telling everyone that they were in a completely different world. “Let me… Help explain what happened today.”

By the time Haru sat up to speak an adequate amount of time had passed for people to consume at least one serving.

“I wanted to let you eat first before getting into all of this,” he sighed. He wrung his callused hands on the table and leaned forward like a father preparing to firmly tell his child that Santa isn’t real and that the pet goldfish died last week. He didn’t speak in the most coddling tone, but he was straining to sound comforting.

“I’ll try to answer all of your questions best I can, but I ask that you let me explain a few things first... That monster you saw today, the one that was growling and snarling, snapping jaws at you… Most of you have not seen or read about anything like it. But I’m sorry to say that there are more of them. A lot more of them. And somehow, someway, maybe because we’re all just really unlucky, it’s our job to get rid of them before they destroy everything and everyone.

It’s weird to say, but you’re not on earth anymore. Today you are in Aires. And I wish that I could tell you it’s as simple as “being on another planet,” but it’s a little more complicated than that. Aires is nothing like earth. It doesn’t run on the same fabric of time or development. It has none of the technologies most of you are familiar with. It’s a different line of reality with a different set of physics, and when you crossed that path of stars back there you were dumped right into this universe.

While Aires is very different from Earth on a fundamental level. What you all witnessed back there wasn’t normal for your world or mine. These monsters have been appearing in small numbers across our world, and it looks like they’re about to infiltrate yours.

We call them cyclopean. They haven’t been seen in hundreds of years around here, and that was because we had a full line of defense against them. And at the top of this defense was an elite group of 12 warriors named for the months of the year. They were given special abilities that were activated by the gemstones they wore. And with those powers they were given the task of protecting humans from the cyclopean. They failed their mission and were all killed a very long time ago… And now, coincidentally, all of you are wearing their gemstones. Don’t ask me how they got to your world because I don’t have much of a clue… But they are lodged into the necklaces and bracelets and rings from your grandfathers, and fate brought them to you.

There’s a prophecy that says that the stones will find kindred souls to finish the work that the original warriors started, and as much as I’d like to tell you that you can simply give them away and walk away from this, I need to be frank: You are the next set of warriors and the powers that those stones possess, can only be unlocked by you and no one else. I’m sure you felt your stones burning in confirmation… It was the spirit in your gem telling you that you are chosen and that you are not alone. That the people you are meant to embark on this journey with all happened to be in the right place at the right time. I don’t know why any of you are chosen, in fact if I had the choice I would ask for a more… A stronger group to be generous. But you are who you are.”

Haru exhaled quietly. He realized how ridiculous it all sounded, and halfway through he had already committed himself to all the hell he was about to get for it. But if he was being fair, there was no other way for him to give such a complex explanation for “here’s why you’re at my dinner table” in a simpler way.

“Okay… Now you can ask questions,” the redhead grumbled before reaching over for another slice of hen. If he was going to be roasted by a bunch of super powered, baby-faced infants, he might as well reward himself with more food.

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Aster Storm Character Portrait: Sorrell Hunt Character Portrait: Vegas Sinclair Character Portrait: James Labonair Character Portrait: Emerson Motlilio
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H E A T H E RXD E V E R E U X
_____ T H EXA R T I S T _____

Outfit: Link Here
Location: Aires - Haru's Farm
Dialogue Color ✦ #8A4E62
Thought Color ✧ #3A0012



Haru began speaking and although Heather was concerned about the brunette in the corner, she turned her head to gaze at the red-headed male as he continued. What wasn't surprising was the confirmation of her earlier thoughts, that they were far far away from home. And though she had already contended with that truth before the words had ever left her mouth, when she swallowed, it felt like something rancid had gone down Heather's dry throat. What she didn't do, though, was immediately head for the food yet. Instead, she took one of the cups of water off of one of the empty plate settings to drink. The cool drink did little to squelch the hunger Heather had been ignoring since leaving the restaurant some time ago - which now felt like an entire lifetime ago - but she needed to hear everything first.

When Haru intimated that the creatures were more than likely just starting to infiltrate their world - and fuck, wasn't that a concept? Their world? - her mind immediately went to her mother, not at all up to her standard of excellent health, still needing longer breaks in between what she normally would have never considered strenuous activity. Of her father whose favorite weapon was an aluminum bat and how puny it and he would look in the face of one of those creatures. And of her sister who had yet to tell anyone that she was dating, that she was happy and planning on moving out. It made something in Heather ache and she clutched the cup in her hand just a little tighter. As Haru continued, Heather couldn't help but glance down at her bracelets, particularly the turquoise one, as she recalled the burning from earlier. It had just been a gift. It was never supposed to be anything more than that, a thank you of sorts...except it was more. So much more. She even remembered when her mom gave it to her, how she had known that Heather preferred bangles and shades of brown, but for some reason, the turquoise just demanding that it be given to her. How right it had felt. A swirl of emotion hit her then and Heather drank the rest of the water in her cup, needing something to occupy her focus with. She almost wished she had drank more of the wine from earlier because clearly this moment required it.

What Heather could have done was call his bluff and walk the hell out of the room, just nope her way out of the situation. She still had half the mind to do it, to be quite honest. She should have demanded for the host of Punk'd to bring their asses out so she could tell them about themselves, and how they seriously need to work with HBO because their CGI had been absolutely believable. However, she found herself going to the exact plate setting from which she had received her cup and took the seat, taking a breath as she sat. "Okay," she was surprised by how steady her voice sounded, even though on the inside, she felt far less together. She felt wobbly and disoriented, to be exact. Like she clearly needed to lay down and go to sleep so that she could wake up and realize that it was all a dream. At the same time, Haru seemed too serious of a person to play games like this and the events of the earlier part of the day had been too tangible for her to deny their existence.

So, after setting her cup down, Heather reached for a leg of the hen, not knowing how the hell she was going to put anything on her stomach, but knowing that she needed to. In some weird way, food seemed like it was going to help hold her together. Or at least fill in the gaps in which she felt too malleable and not at all steady. While doing this - fixing a plate - her gaze stayed on Haru as she continued speaking, "so, say that we buckle down and do this - be this..." Heather had to clear her throat, pausing at scooping up some of the vegetable stew because regardless of how much she was giving this a chance, there was a note of ridiculousness to it all that her Earth-born brain could not ignore, "line of defense you speak of. What happens after that? Do any of us go home?" Because Heather could do this. It was crazy and she was crazy for saying that she could go with it - any of it. But she wouldn't walk away. There was nowhere to walk in the first place, especially after she herself had already come to terms with them not being anywhere near home. "Because while all of this sounds like a load of crap, at the end of the day, something had to be real in all the shit that we've seen and if these monsters are actually going to start affecting my home and my family, I'll be damned if I don't do something about it. I just need to know what the end result's gonna be if we all do this. Are stuck here indefinitely?" At the time, Heather didn't even know that there was an if to her surviving anything at all. Death just didn't seem like an option, not one she wanted to entertain at the moment, even without the knowledge of her powers.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Aster Storm Character Portrait: Sorrell Hunt Character Portrait: Vegas Sinclair Character Portrait: James Labonair Character Portrait: Emerson Motlilio
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Dorian and Jules followed behind their hostess, led along in their small group through the up the stairs and through the wooden halls of the great house. There was a certain relief that came with their entrance along with the woman’s brief explanation. It was a mental shrinking of this strange place they found themselves in to a much more manageable size. Homes, no matter how large, were far less disconcerting for the man born of ice and snow and another who’d grown up in a concrete jungle than the open fields and rolling hills cresting like grassy waves on the horizon. That was not to say that either man was comfortable, however.

Jules, for instance, insisted on walking with his bag clutched tightly to his chest, back hunched as he leaned protectively over it. It was like a child carrying a security blanket, especially given the way that the blonde was absently and anxiously toying with the shoulder strap, although Jules would insist that he was simply being practical. He didn’t know where he was or how long the hospitality would last. It was better to keep his possessions close at hand for a quick escape or at least to hit someone with if things went sour. Given the way some of the others in the group had acted thus far, it seemed like the smart thing to do.

Dorian had his own form of practicality, standing ramrod straight as his eyes darted around the halls. Each doorway, every nook and cranny was noted with a suspicious eye. This was unknown territory in a country that surely wasn’t his own. Anything was possible after what he’d experienced in the past eight or so hours, and he would not be caught off guard again. Short of the Goddess flying in through the roof, he was reasonably certain that he was prepared for anything.

The group was brought to a halt by the natural end of the hallway, three doors the only real disruption in the endless wood panels, as well as the scar-faced woman’s final words. These were to be their rooms. They could bathe, change clothes, wait for dinner, and something about that bothered Jules. Well, many things bothered Jules, especially right now, but that- that was especially not good. They were expected- the bulky ginger had said as much before, the twelve of them guests for their mysterious host. There was a quiet plot here, carrying on at least from the all-consuming light if not further before, and screw that. Jules wasn’t particularly fond of the idea of someone pulling his strings like a marionette, making him gambol and jape towards a destination unknown. His lips twisted into a scowl, and he clutched his bag closer to him.

With the woman gone without another word, the group began to scatter, wandering into rooms or to parts unknown. Some seemed at ease, taking this turn of events into stride, while others seemed harried or upset, tears pricking at eyes and deep breaths attempting to overcome all-consuming panic. They had an hour, maybe two before the light had faded sufficiently to herald the coming of a meal. Now it was all about how to spend that time.


Dorian Steinsson

The room at the end of the hall was filling up quickly, and Dorian found himself moving towards the one closest to the way they’d come. He’d rather be close to the exits should something happen, and if it didn’t, well, one room was as good as another. The rooms were sparsely furnished but almost clinically neat, the beds spread out precisely in a way that kept the room from feeling crowded. Perhaps a few others filtered in behind, so he wasn’t terribly surprised when the blonde person, the one who’d intervened in the fight just long enough to save the brunette girl’s life, wandered in as well, collapsing sulkily on the nearest bed, still cradling their bag.

Never one for breezy conversation, Dorian sat down heavily as well, finally taking the chance to give his person a once-over. The wounds were still gone, not even the crick in his neck from the watch he’d taken in Hales remaining. But the tear in his coat was still there, and dirt and blood, both his and the Cyclopean’s, still stained the fabric. He brushed his hand over the hole in his overcoat and was surprised when someone spoke.

“You want me to fix that?”

It was his blonde roommate-apparent. They hadn’t sat up yet, but their tired, kohl-smudged eyes were now turned on him instead of the ceiling. To their credit, they only flinched a little when Dorian turned fully towards them.

“Your coat-thing. I can, you know-“ He mimed a needle, stitching it through the air. “Fix it. Stitch it up. Whatever.”

Their Common was a little strange, tinged with an accent he couldn’t place, and their words were broken up, more abrupt than the flowing, flowery sentences used by diplomats or taught in school. It took a moment to adjust and piece together, and that was a moment too long for the blonde, apparently.

“Look, you know, I don’t have to. It’s fine. Just thought I’d offer, since, like, there’s nothing else to do-”

“Yes.” Dorian’s answer was as abrupt as the original question. He’d finally caught up with the other’s train of thought and found that he rather liked it. “You fix coat? Yes. Please.”

He shucked his overcoat and walked it over just as the woman returned, a pile of thin, airy clothes clutched in her arms. She handed Dorian his set, neatly folded light brown pants and an off-white shirt, and hesitated momentarily with his roommate who looked suddenly thoughtful.

“Pants, please,” they said after a moment, collecting an outfit much like Dorian’s. The woman left after catering to whoever else may have been in the room. The clothes weren’t very appealing, too thin and lacking the sturdy craftsmanship of Halesian clothes, but they weren’t stained with blood or sweat and were therefore a bit of a better option. Well, after a bath, perhaps. He may not understand or trust the situation, but perhaps he’d feel more human again after washing off the stink of the last few hours and by avoiding dying of heat-stroke in his uniform.

He moved to leave before glancing back at the blonde who had already pulled out a thick, sharp needle from their pack along with an odd sort of thread. Their face was pinched into a look of pure concentration, ignoring the clothes scattered to their side.

“Thank you…?” Dorian said after a moment, trailing off with a slight questioning look.
“Jules,” The other replied after a moment, not bothering to look up. “Who’re you, then? Since we’re stuck together for the time being.”

“I am Dorian.”

“Alright, Dorian. I’ll take care of it.” Dorian caught the affirmative nod, as good a dismissal as any, and left for the baths.


Jules Fontaine

Jules fixed the hole after twenty minutes, most of that time spent examining the cloth itself. The overcoat felt like it was wool, but not a variety Jules had ever seen or heard of, almost too thick to pass even his sharpest needle through. It was a good challenge while it lasted, but not he was stuck with the reality of the situation. This place was all kinds of fucked up. Weird warriors with almost Russian accents, fabric that shouldn’t exist on Earth anymore or ever, and God knows what lurking just outside this room. It was really all too much, so you’d have to forgive him if the only thing that drew him out of his scowl and his room was a maid peeking in the doorway, urging him to follow her to dinner. Jules followed, however reluctantly, leaving the new clothes behind but dragging his bag along with him.

He wasn’t hungry, not even when the magnificent wave of smells came wafting into the hallway as they approached the dining room. Not when the spread, something stripped out of a fantasy film, was revealed, all mouth-watering morsels and tender bites the likes of which you simply didn’t get in New York without offering up a good chunk of change. Not even when others sat down to devour the feast, the warrior, Dorian (still damp from his bath and smelling a whole Hell of a lot better), perhaps most gruesomely of all, attacking the spread like a starving wolf. He certainly looked the part, the thin clothes exposing a lither frame than Jules had expected when they’d first met. Jules sat down next to him, having labeled the other man as “kind of safe the be around” or at least “he owes me a favor”, and sullenly picked apart one of the buttered rolls.

Everyone, or at least almost everyone, had taken their seat by the time Haru cleared his throat, attention drawn to him automatically. Here were the answers to their questions, a plot unveiled. And what a plot it was.


Dorian Steinsson

Month Warriors, Cyclopeans, magic- it was like the stories of old, albeit with the addition of apparently another planet being dragged into the legend.

Most people do not have simple decision making processes, simply because people are quite complex. Dorian was not an exception to that norm, but allow us a moment to briefly see what was going through his brain at that moment. It’s only a fraction of the million thoughts that surely ran through all of their heads, but this specific fraction does a decent job of simplifying it.

The idea of another planet, another world, was probably what convinced Dorian first. These people from Earth, these aliens, accepted that for a fact. Earth, a place Dorian had never heard of, was a real place to almost all of the surrounding group, and the very mention of Aires confounded them. That would explain the general confusion in regards to legends and their frankly bizarre and mildly embarrassing clothing. And wouldn’t that also explain the world he’d glimpsed only a short while ago? The land of giant metal buildings and people with glowing rectangles (glued? Attached?) to their hands. That wasn’t normal. That wasn’t Aires.

The monstrosity he’d fought was a second clue because that was a Cyclopean. It just was. Despite the fact that he’d very contentedly spent a good majority of his life assuming they were merely nightmarish stories to make children behave, he knew one when he saw one. It would be like if a centaur pranced in front of someone from Earth. You would know it to be a centaur from the horse bits combined with the person bits in a very certain way, and it would be impossible, of course, but there it was, eating a carrot right in front of you. That would be a centaur, and in the very same course of logic Dorian knew his mythical encounter was with a Cyclopean.

The magic was perhaps the most difficult thing to grasp, but already Dorian was posed to believe that more than his Earthling neighbors. For a person who’d seen Aires’ first attempt at a flashlight only six months ago, his mind simply wasn’t ready to propose anything like hallucinogenic drugs or perhaps advanced portal technologies. Magic was a much easier explanation for everything that had happened to him within the past day, something thoroughly engrained in even a more scientific culture like the great cities of Hales. Nothing else fit the puzzle quite right, and it was the last answer standing.

Dorian was a rational man, and sometimes the most rational explanation was also the one that you didn’t really want to believe. When you have managed to discount every other possibility, the only explanation left, no matter how fantastical, has to be the truth. Even if he wasn’t thoroughly convinced that he was the right person, he believed enough not to throw a fit or attempt anything rash.

His eyes darted wearily down to his shirt, the impression of his aquamarine necklace under the thin cloth now more ominous than comforting. Dorian didn’t like the idea that a myth was around his neck, dangling like a noose. He wasn’t fond of the fact that now everyone was in an uproar and his life was going to be changed no matter what he did. He certainly disliked the fact that he was miles and miles from home and his worldview had been tilted on its axis. And he hated, absolutely hated, that he had no questions to ask because all he wanted to know was when he could go back home. Home to his job, his family, his beloved country. His home, which was in danger because even if Dorian had rationalized away everything Haru had said, he knew that Cyclopeans were real now, that their attacks would likely increase. So the only question he could think to ask was the one he already knew the answer to; once the job is done.

All of these complex thoughts translated outwardly in this manner: Dorian’s eyes widened a bit, he nodded his head with a little grunt of agreement, and then he turned moodily back to his banya. Because he knew, he knew he couldn’t even think of leaving before he found out a way to bring a solution to the most pressing problem of evil monsters once again terrorizing the land back to Hales. This place, this man, was his best shot. And if it was fake, what had he done other than survived a strange encounter in a strange land? There really wasn’t much to lose

Jules Fontaine

Others did not take the revelation quite as well. Others who had thoughts that echoed Heather’s own initial desire to leave, which she’d squashed down for a more sensible attitude and questions that might actually get them somewhere. Others who did not feel the natural inclination to be mature about all this. Others like Jules.

“Nope.” The single word almost echoed in the initial silence before Haru could reply to Heather’s question, the “p” popping loudly. Jules was already standing up, almost knocking his chair over in his haste. His face had gone white as a sheet, his lips pressed together into a thin line. He was backing away from the table now, quick little steps leading him to the door as he shouldered his bag once again. “I'm gonna ..."
Jules stopped at the doorway, fingers tapping nervously on the door’s frame for a fraction of a moment as he surveyed the table, eyes flashing over everyone gathered together before landing on Haru. He took a shallow, shuddering breath.

“Excuse me. Just a minute." And with that announcement, Jules was gone leaving only the sound of his footsteps fading behind.

Where was he going? Jules really had no idea and was oddly comfortable with that fact. His present destination was “not here” or, alternatively, “far away from whatever the Hell was happening”. There was only so much a modern, reasonable human could be confronted with before his mind reverted into something a little simpler to help him cope.

As far as Jules was concerned, he’d already been subjected to a giant lizard monster, almost dying, what was maybe a pocket dimension straight out of a sci-fi novel, and with what he was beginning to expect was a dinner from maybe Game of Thrones. You would have to pardon him if being told he was on a different planet and had super powers he had to use to save the world was a bit too much. He didn’t have a better explanation, of course, but fever dream and an elaborate prank were at least possibilities he could accept, unlikely as they may be.

Jules wasn’t running as much as he was striding with determination. That is to say that he was going as fast as he could without actually running because he wasn't particularly desirous if a heel getting stuck in a gopher hole. He’d find a cab, eventually. Maybe a surrounding house that wasn’t completely batshit backwards like this place. With that pace he made it out the front door with no one to stop him and was halfway across the yard, headed towards the fields or the hills or wherever the Hell he was going when he noticed that something was off.

It was nighttime. That much was obvious. The blue skies had been traded for a blanket of darkness and stars twinkled overhead. That was fine. That was normal. It was just that there was a strange brightness about everything, the world a little less dark than it should have been, especially with no electric lights to be found. His gait faltered for a moment as he glanced upwards and found the moon. And the moon. There were two moons, both nearly full and glowing in the night sky. It was beautiful, it was fantastic, and it was horrifying all in one. That was it. There was no denying that this wasn’t Earth anymore. This was somewhere else completely, a world away from home.

Jules heard a little whimper as he fell backwards into the grass and was only slightly surprised to realize that it had come from him. He sat there, body still and eyes glued on the alien impossibility hanging overhead.

"Fuck,” Jules breathed, frustration, and the first notes of acceptance staining his words. He lingered for a moment, gazing at those impossible moons before getting to his feet. Well he might as well keep from dying for awhile longer. Somehow cowardice meant not running away, which was very disappointing. Running away tended to be much easier. Well, self preservation must win out in the end.

Jules made his way back inside, slower than his initial exit. If he was going to have to play the marionette, he was going to do it with all the reluctance he felt. No gambolling or japing included.

Jules returned to the dining room, although he refused to let any sheepishness or embarrassment bleed through.

"Yeah. Yep. Best option only option."

"They have two moons, you know," he said dryly as he sat, arms crossed. "Just in case you people were wondering. Jesus."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Aster Storm Character Portrait: Sorrell Hunt Character Portrait: Vegas Sinclair Character Portrait: James Labonair
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As Ron sat through Haru's long explanation of their current situation, he could not help but let his emotions run rampant. On one hand he was now the main character of what was essentially an RPG/Manga plot. On the other hand he would never be able to finish that final season of Game of Thrones. Overall there were probably more pros then cons. In this world he would have superior technological knowledge and magic to boot. He could use his powers to place himself at the center stage of importance.

Ron began to run through all the scenario's in his head on how the shows placed the protagonist in power when they were sent to a new world. If he had an offensive power he could raise an army and use superior weapons and tactics to claim vast territory; If instead he gained a passive magic then he could gather a cult of personality. Earth was a violent, wicked place that he felt indifferent in, getting high with no clear purpose in life. However, in this world he could be the savior.

Feeling giddy as a school girl he decided to voice his thoughts. "Don't you guys see? This is a blessing in disguise! We'll have the knowledge and power to reshape this world as we see fit. I personally don't want to go back to being a gear in the cog like on Earth. However, I want a few things before signing on. First I want all the books on the history, culture, and geography of this world. Second I'd eventually like a keg of gunpowder. Third, I'm more of the gun for hire type so I'll need a payment up front or I'm sitting right here." Ron reached for the bottle of wine on the table and began to pour wine into his cup, before realizing the last question he would need to ask. "By the way, what's my power?

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Aster Storm Character Portrait: Sorrell Hunt Character Portrait: Vegas Sinclair Character Portrait: James Labonair
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Tallyho felt a little flutter in her chest when the young man who had threatened (at least she supposed he had) the farmer from earlier spoke up. But it wasn’t a flattering kind of flutter — the kind that makes a person steal looks across the room between the warm rushes of blood swelling their cheeks. No it was the kind of flutter that signaled a bit of baffle and shock. Maybe a bit of disgust.

Reshape this place? Them? If she understood everything correctly, now these aliens were coming to change her world to how they saw fit? Tallyho wasn’t the smarted person, but she definitely wasn’t an idiot. If there was a moment where she was kind of on board with the month warrior thing, this new element of world domination really took her back to the drawing board. Especially when he had the audacity to ask for payment. And Goddess only knew what a gunpowder was…

Tallyho pressed her lips firmly together, stoic. The only expressive behaviors that gave away how turned off she was at the nerve of this man were the glances she stole across the table toward to the only two dinner guests who, by dress, she could assume were from Aires. The warrior and another blonde.
Then she looked to Haru.


Image


Haru wasn’t the most patient person, but he had will power.

“Well Ron,” he put an emphasis on his name as if to signal that he knew all of their names, and he did. “I can certainly get you the education you need. First lesson: There is no gun powder here. No guns even. This is the kind of world where men fight fist to fist and sword to sword, which might be honorable to some… I highly recommend you get trained in hand to hand combat, especially with the power you have… Which is why I’ll be talking everyone to a special academy north of here for training at the break of dawn. It will be your home for a little while. A hero’s journey begins with your ordinary world, a call to adventure, the refusal to said adventure and then a brush with a mentor. And I am your mentor, not your contractor. Therefore, I won’t be paying you. But you’re welcome to forego the journey. Sit here, run off, you’re welcome to take some food too. But if you choose not to cross the threshold of this adventure, then you ought not to know anything about your power, right? You’d be safer not knowing anything if you’re not committed to the cause. So go off if you’d like, or stay. But these are the terms.”

Haru stood up and his chair slid back with a heavy grunt. “For those of you who will be here tomorrow free of charge, be ready. When we get to the top of the academy, I’ll tell you your true potential. But for now, sleep. It will be a very long day.”
And with that, Haru left.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Aster Storm Character Portrait: Vegas Sinclair Character Portrait: James Labonair
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#, as written by Linnea
When Haru first spoke, Angela’s heart muddily skipped a beat. It wasn’t a pleasant feeling. Rather, it was one of inevitability finally arriving. Like test scores being revealed or checking your credit score. It didn’t help that he was an intimidating man. Though different than the soldier that slayed the beast and ate like a man condemned to death, Haru still had an air of power about him. Angela swallowed a bit of stew. For whatever reason, this didn’t seem like something to listen to with her mouth full.

And it really wasn’t, for she just might have done a dramatic spit take had she actually had anything in there when she heard the news. She could deal with the reality of monsters. The park had solidified her thoughts on that. But another world? Even she found that hard to believe. As he went on Angela stared wide eyed. It was a lot of information to digest.

Angela wasn’t exactly what one would call a sceptic. There comes a point where after buying multiple candles and going through so many seances (failed though they were) that one simply has to admit they might be a bit of an eccentric. Still, even Angela had her limits. Even she needed some shred of evidence. Some reason to believe. She brushed her fingers over her own gem, hoping it would burn as it did before. Any bit of confirmation would have been wonderful. However, it remained the same. So, she was left to think about this situation. Questions just couldn’t come to mind. She was too confused.

This was all unbelievable, but it had happened. A monster appeared in central park. A bridge of stars and oceans had led them somewhere. There weren’t any other explanations. At least, none that Angela liked. Drugs, kidnapping, these thoughts had been racing through her mind. But for some reason they seemed less believable. Maybe, the more she thought about it, the less she wanted to believe it. A reality where they were warriors and there was magic, that one was more palatable.

Others spoke up, and Angela found herself nodding in approval. She even had the brief thought of following the blond who left the building. But, she remained in her seat. Even if it was out of nothing but begrudging acceptance. She couldn’t stay skeptical for too long. It just wasn’t in her nature. So, fine. There were monsters, and other worlds, and warriors with magical stones. It was better to believe in this reality. In this reality, they had a fighting chance.

Maybe that’s why she stood up after the threatening man spoke, her face flushed with anger. Haru left, and had said his piece. Truthfully, Angela thought he said it well. He said it far better than she.

“You gotta be kidding, dude! Like, holy shit. Reshape? What, like a god or something? I mean, if this is all real, these are peoples lives we’re dealing with! Man! I know this is weird, but you don’t gotta be a creep about it!” The words tumbled out of her mouth, clumsy and awkward. She sank back into her seat sheepishly, refusing to make eye contact. But she continued to speak.

“If there are people in danger, in whatever world, and we can do something to stop that, then shouldn’t we? Do we even have a choice, like, as humans? It’s just the moral thing to do, right? Be good and helpful and stuff? So, I’m going along. If there’s any way I can help, I want to. And even if this is all just some dumb thing or drugs or whatever or who knows, at least I tried. I can be proud of myself for that.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller
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Tallyho let a wheeze escape her lungs as one of the foreigners (a blonde one, and boy were there a lot of them) boldly condemned the other man’s reasoning. Perhaps they wouldn’t be as much of a problem in that regard as she thought. It would be bad, but not that bad, she thought. And almost immediately she realized that she was already making concessions for a life she didn’t officially choose yet, accepting this task and the nakky personalities that came with it as reality. She was never that good at fighting back, always raising a voice but nary a finger. Her mind wasn’t racing with plans to escape. At the time she didn’t think of the door as much as she thought she would, and didn’t take the prospect of stealing a horse and galloping out into the night that seriously. She didn’t think about inciting a revolution where they collectively flipped the table and marched out. And to be quite honest, she wasn’t sure if she would have joined in on a rebellion like that anyway.

“I too, am staying,” she hummed. She wait to see who else was going to pledge their lives away to a cause they never knew existed. Instead, she made swift break for the door, marching up the stairs with a firm haste. Her hands were pale and clammy on the stair rails and her palms stuck to the wood as she went. The last they heard from Tallyho that night was the heavy thud of a door.

Tallyho had trouble sleeping that night. After all, she was petrified. This was the most important night of her life. Her presence on the farm by the break of dawn was her signature on a very serious contract. And this very night was her last moment to rip it to shreds before it was notarized. Yet, while she was scared of this metaphorical contract and all the terms and footnotes that came with it, she was more anxious about what would happen if she didn’t sign it.

She knew too much. Too much about the legend and the stakes of a mission like this. And now, too much about herself. Because unlike the warriors from earth who knew nothing about the legends of the gems, Tallyho knew who she was supposed to be. She clasped her stone between her fingers, and a look of wild panic crossed her face. Tallyho was born on February 17th, seventy five seasons ago*, during a thunderstorm. Her birth, as her mother always told it, consisted of her mother, father and a midwife from the Oni tribe, nestled on a bluff overlooking the coast of Freeland. Birthing a child on the face of the edge of the world. It was always a poetic scene by its own merit, but when the baby born of thunder and lightning becomes its conductor, it’s a completely different poem altogether.

She sat up in her bed, watching the window and the way the dark mountains only slightly traced the horizon. She imagined herself galloping northward on a dark horse, determined to be reunited with her nomadic family. But her trot would slow as she moved farther and farther away from the tiny farm, and then, with a face filled with stupor and regret, she would stop her horse completely. She would look back at Haru’s tiny farm, and wonder where on Aires she would go next. She would be alone.

It was this vision that made Tallyho give up on another alternative. She wasn’t going to find her family on her own. And as far as her mom knew, her daughter could have run away on her own merit to find something better. It was very unfortunate that Tallyho only now realized how little she seemed to enjoy her family. And with everything she ever knew lost somewhere on the continent, probably miles and miles away, she was missing them incredibly.

The blonde reclined back into her bed and blinked away a wave of tears. She breathed in, clearing her sinus of an impending gush of mucus. She, at least, hoped that her mother craft a more positive narrative around her disappearance. One where Tallyho ran away to find a passion that didn’t fit within her current reality. One where she fell in love and was off having fun and being free. Her mother would like to think that, even if she lost her child in a pursuit of happiness. More than anything she hoped that her mother didn’t have nightmares about her daughter face down in a river, or defiled by a man, or both. Tallyho wasn’t sure if she would be able to live with those images. And so, for the first time since she was an impressionable 8 year old, Tallyho prayed to the Goddess.

The last time Tallyho Abel fell asleep, she sunk into her blankets and woke up in another world. On this day, however, she woke up in Aires, to soft light from a dusty window, a bed head like a fuzzy halo, sore legs and her hands clasped and cramped from the fervor of nocturnal prayer.

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Every morning Haru would perch outside with a cigar and watch the dawn’s white sky turn blue. It was a ritual he rarely missed, and today was no different. The redhead was perched on the back of a cart, breezily blowing smoke into the air. One farm hand was perched on the driver’s stoop, and though the soles of his feet were pressed firmly against the footboard, his legs were so long that they folded dramatically to his chest like twin spires. He was bent over a jar, spooning a goopy starch into his mouth and shooing away persistent horse flies between bites. He was spooning up glops of warm biscuits and venison gravy that the maids prepared in the wee hours of the morning. Another farmhand was loading extra jars in the back corner of the wagon. They were wrapped in cloth and he was careful to stack the two dozen or so jars in such a way that they would not take up too much space. It was enough food for everyone to have a breakfast this morning and a lunch later. Anything after that would have to be bought from a village market on the way up north.

Haru took a long, deep inhale of his cigar as he waited for the warriors to come outside. They were going up the mountain for the first course of their journey, for training. Truthfully, he looked forward to this moment, interested in seeing who lasted the night. He didn’t think many of them would stick with the program so one could imagine his surprise when one out of the house was one of those shrimpy blonde kids.

Tallyho was bracing herself against the cool air of dawn. The early mornings were getting colder and colder, a sign that summer was ending. Haru squinted his eyes and chuckled dryly.

“Well… Hello my savior. At least there’s one of you.” As she got closer Haru could tell that she wasn’t very amused. The farmer flattened his lips into a tight, awkward smile. He wasn’t the best at jokes he supposed. “Hop on in the cart and get a good seat. There are jars for food back there, some water tins too. I’ll have them pack some blankets. The ride is going to be a day or two.”

Tallyho nodded dejectedly and rummaged through the jars, and although they all had the same amount of food she selected one that she thought felt the heaviest in her hand. The jar screwed open with a wheeze and a pop and the blonde proceeded to push her biscuit down into the thick gravy with the wooden spoons Haru provided. The taste was warm and hearty.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller
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H E A T H E RXD E V E R E U X
_____ T H EXA R T I S T _____

Outfit: Link Here
Location: Aires - Haru's Farm
Dialogue Color ✦ #8A4E62
Thought Color ✧ #3A0012



Heather had felt her heart flutter when Haru stated that the sooner that they won the war, they could all go home. That was her motivation. There was no glory in the battle that she knew of, no adrenaline at the thought of fighting and swords clashing (because she was seriously envisioning one of them on some excalibur type shit at the moment) and possibly getting hurt. Heather could definitely do without that last part. She'd seen enough fantasy shows and films to know that guts on the ground and all that gore wasn't exactly the kind of life she was about. At the same time, experiencing all of that could lead to going home and unlike Ron, Heather wasn't ecstatic about being away from the life that she had known. She didn't hate her world as much as he apparently did. So, she had already made up her mind, yes, that she was going to do it. But Haru confirming that home could very well be an option only solidified her resolve.

Ron speaking, however, made Heather cut her eyes at him, even as she wanted to apologize to Haru like a mother for the sake of her irrational and disrespectful child. Except had it been Heather's mom, said child would've gotten their butts spanked in front of the company they disrespected while being expected to apologize afterwards or even during. Such a thought, even paired with the memories of a younger version of herself being crazy hurt over being hit for something she had done, sent a pang of longing to Heather's heart that she stuffed with a mouthful of bread. Nevertheless, she almost choked on said bread when Haru threw what Heather was definitely going to classify as shade before dipping out, leaving just them. The Month Warriors. Definitely gonna take some getting used to, she thought as she poured some wine into her cup. Heather had really not wanted to do it, but after the kind of talk they had all had, it was needed. No point in denying herself that. She had half the mind to leave the Ron situation alone; Angela had handled it in her own way. But Heather couldn't help but feel insulted in Haru's place, especially after all of his hospitality. More than that, though, Ron sounding like a complete ass made it an excuse for Heather to unleash some kind of venom from her mind. She had let everything roll over her today and other than a brief moment of weakness that she thought only one person had seen, she didn't want to let this roll over her. Plus, they were all going to be together for a good amount of time. They were going to have to get used to each other anyway, and that included getting used to her mouth.

"And gun for hire type , dude? Really?" She demanded incredulously. "You're honestly lucky he wasn't an ass for hire type who told your dumb butt to go follow the yellow brick road off a goddamn cliff for even demanding some shit like that after helping us like he did today, with your wannabe Joffrey Lannister lookin' ass." She sneered, mocking Ron's tone, "'I'll need a payment upfront.' You better hope your newfound god complex don't make your payment me Olenna Tyrell-ing your ass on this road 'cause I might not know much here, but my parents are doctors and I learn fast." It occurred to Heather, only after the fact, that Ron was the only one with a gun and that he could therefore pose as a threat to her for her to be issuing threats of her own. But this entire day had been a threat to Heather - to everything she has ever known - and that made her unflinching in her anger and disgust as she glared at the man. Before long, though, Heather was exiting the room herself with nothing more to say to him nor anyone else at the table, leaving behind her half-finished stew and nearly gone piece of hen. She took the cup of wine with her, though.


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By the time Heather made it past the front door, she was back in her clothing from yesterday and was in the process of tying her hair up into an updo. The cool breeze that greeted her made her almost rethink the idea, but then her hair was fully up and Heather just didn't have it in her to let it back down. Besides, she figured she would need to get used to it. They were supposed to be training or something like that; she had to accustom herself to having the hair out of her way. She had even debated just using the night before to take out all of the locs, but opted against it. While the thought had been a good distraction and something to focus on other than second thoughts about her decision to stick with Haru, Heather thought it smarter to deal with a protective style for as long as she could before having to deal with her own natural hair, especially with limited options as there were. Eventually, though, she was going to have to deal with the fact that none of them were really going to be able to do much about looking cute or switching up like she was used to. So, for now, this would have to do.

"Morning," she greeted with a thin smile as she climbed into the cart, distantly trying to tell her mind to not worry about the cool weather. Heather was used to telling her mom that she could handle the cooler weather just a little while longer, opting plenty of times to wear lighter sweaters or jackets than the ones her mother had always wanted for her. She ran warmer, she would always remind the woman, warming her mother's hands with her own when her thin gloves did very little for her. At this point, though, Heather almost wished she had a sweater then and there. It wasn't unbearable and she would adjust soon. Hopefully, anyway.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller
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Haru resolved that this would be a long ride, and boy it was. If it wasn’t the way his jaw tickled as the cart piqued and dipped sharply against the crude country roads, it was his attempt to explain to the group that yes, they would need to squat behind some trees during pit stops.

Though the weathered man preferred his silence and solitude, he did try to engage them during the ride. His first attempt at trying to seem like a people person was a corny icebreaker, with an introduction that seemed more fun and lighthearted in his head than it did coming out of his mouth.

“Did you guys introduce yourselves to each other?” He asked gruffly. Surely they weren’t so socially inept that they didn’t at least trade some names by now? “After surviving a cyclopean you’re practically bonded by blood.”

He peered at Tallyho who was perched next to him in the corner of the cart. The blonde was compact, knees drawn to her chest. “You start,” he said with an inflection so clear that Tallyho couldn’t have mistaken the fact that he was talking directly to her. “Your name? Your birth month?”

She appraised the group, words were slow, apprehensive and the thickness of her nomadic accent highlighted.

“I am Tallyho. Born February.”

Her eyes reluctantly shifted onto Haru, an innocent request for a confirmation that she did it right.

It wasn’t the best start, Haru thought, and it definitely felt more awkward than he intended. But one has to commit to things they start. “Okay great,” he said before gesturing toward the next person. He went on like this for the next half hour, pushing them to share their names and promising that when they got to the top of the mountain, he would tell them the power of their month.

The introductions withered down and the cart fell back into patches of silence. After a couple more hours and a few failed attempts at nodding off, Haru decided to engage in tour guide mode, another socially-oriented activity that he wasn’t the most adequate at.

“So… This is the country Solace. Most people are either landlords, sharecroppers or tradesmen in these parts. They’ve got good blacksmiths in the north… ”

Haru paused, unsure of what more to say than that. He wasn’t much of a scholar after all. But he was a simple man who, at the end of the day, knew his limits and eventually he gave up on smalltalk. Unsurprisingly, when he alleviated himself of the burden of trying to get a bunch of teenagers to bond in a hay cart, he finally dozed off. It was a deep sleep, actually. His limbs were spread about (as much as they could be in the crowded cart) with both arms propped comfortably off the cart’s edge. An unfortunate position for whichever warriors lucky enough to be in direct contact with his armpit hair. He was also a very apparent snorer and remained asleep for a good portion of the ride. He only woke up around the ninth hour to help the driver build a fire so that they could set up camp by a river. By then they weren’t too far from the capital city Malboro, but it was only right that the horses got a more finite break instead of the little water pauses they’d make.


When they started moving again it was the next morning. Only this time they only rode for a couple more hours before they reached the capital city.

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Malboro is a very visible pocket of civilization that thrives in the middle a fertile plain. The stone wall surrounding the city makes it very hard to miss, and it has a circumference so wide that its borders contain, not only the condensed collection of inns, taverns, feasting halls and the market bazaar, but the farmlands as well. The wall, some say, is one of the most notable architectural feats to this day. Its foundations were started by Halesian defects who, after forfeiting Solace, helped new settlers from the Rose Kingdom erect Malboro as the capital. Of course, this was in exchange for protection from the territory’s Oni natives. The construction of the wall was slow-going, but it wasn’t until the incubating years of The War of Ten Thousand Horses, which occurred between the Oni and the northern settlers, that the wall was completed in a fantastic feat of time. The thing that makes the wall so amazing, some scholars say, is the speed at which it was built. Every man, woman and child in the settlement was given a stone, a spade and put to work on the wall. The result? It was completed and functional it in less than a season. So it’s unsurprising that one type of person might view the wall as a symbol of unity, of citizenship, of triumph against the debauchery and delinquency of “wild men.” But another type of person may look at the wall and see a legacy built on a load of horse shit.

And that’s exactly what Tallyho saw when they came wobbling up to the great door. She never quite liked the city of Malboro, always finding the streets too messy and the people too ignorant. Audiences from the walled city were of a special breed: They often liked to sneak into shows for free and there has been many a time where Tallyho caught a faux patron jigging with all the rest. Ironically, the ones who cheer the loudest, are often the ones who don’t pay at all. It was almost as if they thought their gratification alone was more than enough reward for a lowly caravan, and that money was just an added bonus.

Usually when the caravan comes to town, the guards at the door of the wall are very scrutinizing. They ask them questions about where they had been previously, sometimes checking their carts for weapons, and sometimes confiscating belongings as unoffered bribes to buy them passage beyond the wall. The way they scrutinized outsiders though, really depended on which lord the capital was contracting a militia from. Solace doesn’t have an official military, only a collection of privately-owned militia who constantly duel for who’s the best. Some lords expect their men to be more upstanding and represent their house accordingly, and others let militia do what they please with the only stipulation being that they are killing machines in the times that matter most.

This time, however, things seemed a little bit easier. Sure, they definitely stared down Heather who, looked the most out of place in this particular part of the globe. And they did a once overs on all the blondes in the group just to see if they were the “good kind of blonde” or the lazy, debaucherously sing-songy kind (which to be honest there’s very little that physically distinguishes a courts man in the RK from a flute player in the Caravan of the Sun.) But somehow Haru’s casual assertion that this specially curated cart of attractive young people was just a load new farm labor was enough for these men to just let them through without so much of a question.

When entering the walls of Malboro, the first thing one sees is an expanse of tilled farmland and a scattered suburb of cabins they call the Spras Acres. This is where the farm families live and where most of the city’s food is grown. The farmers do most of their business in Sanguine Square, the large flea market in the heart of the city. But whatever they don’t sell there, they sell (or sometimes forcibly give) to militia men who sell their goods in other cities.

The borders of what constitutes Sanguine Square from the other central parts of the city are so blurry that its name evokes, not just the literal market, but all of the businesses and residential lots in its immediate (and not so immediate) vicinity. And so, Sanguine Square is where all the other townspeople live: Craftsmen, merchants, inn and tavern keepers, the royal family and its highest subjects.

Tallyho never felt more ready to start walking again and she curled her toes in anticipation, wincing at the uncomfortable tingling sensation emanating from her waking foot. The road into Sanguine Square was bumpier than the roads beyond the city. The road was cobbled with stones from the same material as the wall, and the jagged bumps in the cart’s trudge forward intensified from the gentle shudder of jawbones to the jagged clash of molars. And finally, at Haru’s instruction, they stopped just before the road became too dense with the bodies of busy townspeople to continue forward. The redhead hopped out the cart, motioning for the others to follow along. And as they unloaded, he provided the cart driver with directions to the nearest communal stable.

Tallyho wasn’t as intrigued by the sights as much as others might have been. The congested streets, and the enthusiastic shopkeepers… She had seen it all before, though from a slightly different lens. And the things the people wore weren’t much different than what Haru provided them a few day ago.

Haru led the large group into an inn where he promptly fished into his coin purse and presented a few choice pieces of metal that made the older innkeeper do a bit of a double take. He squinted intensely at the offering, probably more so because he needed glasses and glasses were a luxury in these parts.

“Howmanny ye want?” he asked? His diction slurred and slippery.

“Two beds per room?” Haru confirmed.

“Ye, two!”

It didn’t take long for the innkeeper to collect the keys on the wall and present them to Haru with their appropriate room numbers. And with their numbers, the group almost cleared out the entire wall of keys. Haru passed them out at random, leaving the team to figure out their roommate situations.

“There’s going to be two of you and one key.” Which was his way of saying be considerate to your roommate, whoever they were.

Tallyho, who was given a key at random, immediately looked to Heather. After all, that was the person she was most familiar with.

“You’re free to explore tonight,” Haru explained as he fished into his coin purse and began dropping a few into each of their hands. “Try not to leave central parts of the city. This should be enough money to get you a good meal with a little to spare… Just seem confident and I’m sure they’ll give you the right amount of change. And keep your identities to yourself. Don’t mention your business. Everyone isn’t your friend. This is your home base tonight, so don’t get lost. We’re going to leave here tomorrow morning and start moving up the mountain.”

Tallyho clutched the coins tightly in her hands before looking to Heather. “Food?” she asked. Although she said it loudly enough so that it could have been an invitation for any of them. She wearily scanned the group, looking for any takers.

OOC: *** Folks can start going their separate ways for their side events! To the tavern, to the heart of Sanguine Square, etc. I'll probably have Tallyho start off with the group witnessing the play before she breaks off into her thing.