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Life Anew In Eronnis

Life Anew In Eronnis


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1,527 readers have visited Life Anew In Eronnis since A Rubber Chicken created it.


Chapter 2 available for applications here: roleplay/life-anew-in-eronnis-chapter-2/
Please read through this introduction first.

How did this happen?

It is a question that will plague you until such a time as it can be answered or you find a more important one. The only way the latter is going to happen is if you accept your place here and make a new life for yourself, for better or worse. But before you make too hasty a decision here let's review the hours preceeding such a drastic change in the course of your life.

It was a day like any other in the place you called home, whatever you may have been doing. Perhaps you were at work, perhaps you were at home with the kids, perhaps you were drunk and staggering around the streets, the location and activity is inconsequential in the end. What matters is that, at some point yesterday, somehow, you stumbled across something, something that wasn't supposed to be there. Something that just stood out. How no one else spotted it is anyone's guess. Maybe they weren't supposed to or they might have just been in too much of a rush. Again, it doesn't matter because YOU picked it up. YOU took it home and YOU alone unleased the power it held. You could feel it as you drifted off to sleep with it beside your bed, could feel reality becoming unweaved around you. You knew that if you opened your eyes you'd see the very walls around you crumble into dust, you knew everything would become transparent before disappearing entirely into the darkness that you could feel creeping up on you. But instead of watching your universe fall apart around you, instinct drove you to leap for your trinket, your piece of another world, and that single act changed things more than you could ever believe.

This was no dream my friend, this really happened. You can try your best to pretend otherwise and that's your choice, along with everything else. You're on your own for now, a stranger in a truly foreign world. Best of luck traveller, I think you'll need it.

Eronnis - A brief history

The glorious land of Eronnis stretches from sea to sea, and even further, in any direction. Once it was a proud Kingdom ruled by the Royal line of Nilhelm but time pressed on and left little room for a King or Queen in the world of politics. The final heir to the throne took his leave many years ago and left the Union, a government of intellectuals and military leaders, in charge of everything. They did their duty as well as could be done. Wealth was distributed to all and for many years there was peace. But power without corruption simply does not exist and now the Union becomes more oppressive by the month, safe in the knowledge that there is no triumphant return of the King to hold them back. Liberties are being taken at every turn and rumblings have started in the underbelly of society. Rumours of a rebellion on the outer fringes has reached the capital city of Jarvaise but there are many who greet this news with a heavy heart. The Union controls the military and there are few who would dare face them on a field of battle, least of all here where their numbers are largest. And it is here, in Jarviase, that you will awaken.

What happened to the heir to the Eronnis throne is a mystery. Many claim he ran off to be with a bride he would not have been allowed to choose had he stayed. Many others believe he was threatened by the Union and left for his own safety. There are rumours as far fetched as his Highness starting an elite band of mercenaries or being transported to another world with no way back...

Jarvaise Image

The capital city does not reside in the place it does through sheer chance. It is a prosperous land, surrounded by open fields and lush, natural groves that bare fruits found nowhere else in Eronnis. The canyons to the North present a constant obstacle to any coming army and the river to the South does similarly. To the East lies open ground for a hundred miles which is mostly occpied by farmland and the West yields nothing more than the treacherous Noma Desert which remains to this day impassable to most. The capital is also well defended, the main city enclosed in a thick, high, stone wall and filled with soldiers doubling as Town Guard, ruled with inarguable efficiency by Captain Loger Kronis. Despite it's high security life goes on well enough for the residents. Few here go short as there is always work available to those who seek it. Trade is good, as is the business of proctecting said trade from bandits on the road. Miners are always needed for the desert fringe and those gifted with brains are always sought for alchemy research. If you have a skill, you will have a job with next to no problem which puts Jarvaise citizens at the top of the list of envy.

Within it's walls is a sprawling city filled with people and creatures from all walks of life. The outside, closest to the gates, houses the markets, stalls, inns, shops and guilds amongst many other places of interest. The inner circle belongs to housing and the furthest in are the wealthiest of the population. At the heart lies Jarvaise Castle, home of The Union Leader: High General Mattius Herne. None of the common folk can get within 200 feet of the castle walls, the guards make sure of that. This is the way of things and they will not change, at least not quickly.

Your Awakening

As you clung to your precious found treasure the world continued to dissolve around you, but yourself, your body and mind, remained the only remnant and drifted down in an endless fall through impenetrable darkness. How long it was is unclear. The only clear thing is that all of a sudden the sensation of falling stops and there is a faint light beyond your closed eyelids. When your eyes open you find yourself in the heart of Jarvaise main marketplace surrounded by the hustle and bustle of a city afternoon. No one pays you any heed, stepping around or over your body as they would any other vagrant asleep in the middle of the afternoon. You look up and see a sight unlike anything you could ever imagine. There are people milling around in strange clothing, some armed with ancient weapons, and other... Things, that are not quite people. Half man, half animal many of them. Some seem so inhuman that you wonder how they could possibly be walking the streets without being hunted down. Thoughts may pass your mind comparing this to any other scene that seems more plausible: A medieval film set, some kind of convention, a wild hallucination. Whatever conclusion you reach, you will soon find out the truth... You are alone, and far from home.

In Jarvaise, that day

A strong, Harvest-season sun shines down from the almost cloudless sky to illuminate the market stalls of Jarvaise, the goods and wares on offer glinting and shining in perfect clarity. Exotic fruits from the Western baronies are on display beside a clothing stall displaying robes from the coldest cities of the North, the finest silk weavers in Eronnis. Beside this and all along the streets are every kind of trade imaginable. Precious metals and gems are sold beside ancient scrolls, beside vials of unknown substances, beside wines and ales, beside swords and shields, crossbows, golden orbs, mining equipment, bottles, pans, string, metals, pottery, padlocks and almost everything else imaginable, if only you knew where to look.

And through these winding passages between temporary huts and flowing crowds moves a huge variety of figures, from the poorest beggar to the highest lord. Gold changes hands at alarming rates but it's just another day at work for these people. Buy and selling is a way of life and now is the biggest challenge to each stall. The cold-season is rapidly approaching and people are buying up everything they will need to get through, as well as selling everything they have recently reaped from the ground. And of course, there are those less savoury characters roaming amongst the public. Thieves , pickpockets and vandals move freely, covered from the law by the thick blanket of bodies around them. It is one of the busiest days of the year and there are few who care for the plight of the homeless at a time such as this. From their place, even tucked into an alcove in the city wall, those with nowhere to go but the floor will be kicked and pushed aside by the constant wave of people passing through.

To those who had stocked up early, or were well off enough to not have to bother, the inns are more than happy to take some coins from their pockets. Food and drinks are served all day and though the sun has barely reached it's highest point drunks are being hurled through the doorways and into the street where they join the individuals littering the ground. The people inside laugh and cheer at each one who finds their face in the dirt, soon either returning to drink and songs or conversations at the bar. It is here, to those who are deemed worthy of it, that real money can be made quickly without the hassle of the marketplace. Bounties are put up and paid for, meetings are held in back rooms, reputations are made and broken. There was a time that this particular trade was welcomed and governed but the Union has put a stop to it. Now it is conducted in relative secrecy, althought there are exceptions. Rumour has it that there are soldiers who take up bounties themselves, or take bribes to keep such activity hushed.

And, of course, the guilds, unofficial in title these days, are just as busy as ever. The Mage's fellowship, the Alchemist association, the Band of Warriors, the Trade confederacy, all exist as a means to an end, a way for those to make a living who have been gifted in any way from skill in battle to being silver of tongue. And nothing goes on in Jarvaise without someone in one of the guilds knowing about it. To be an honoured member is to be on the cutting edge of city news.

But this is normal, this is just another day in the capital city. The real news comes in the form of a group of dark travellers who had arrived just hours before the gates were closed for the market madness. They slipped in and made their presence well known. Numbering at least 30 and with depthless pockets full of coin, many rumours have begun already. Some claim to have spoken to them, some claim to have followed them. But what everyone seems to agree on is that they are beings of supreme power searching for something, or for someone. And since their arrival the beggars from the streets have been disappearing, though there is no evidence to link the two. An unsteady ripple of fear is spreading through Jarvaise and prayers are said for any unlucky enough to find themselves abandoned in the gutter.

If you are unsure of anything or have any questions in general, don't hesitate to PM me or my Co-GM: MercyKilling

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The Story


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It was a traditional late Autumn afternoon in London which meant only one thing: It was cold. Really cold. Cold enough to feel the chill of the breeze no matter how many layers you managed to slip into. Which was three for Sebastian Pherson. A shirt, navy blue today, beneath a heavy, green, army-style jumper and a long, black winter coat. And beneath his plain black trousers was a pair of longjohns. He was taking no chances, the flu was everywhere and he had work to do. He had a lot of work to do. Autumn was a busy time of year, the new students were in and he spent far too much time devising ever more ingenious ways of finding out who was a troublemaker. Each and every day left him exhausted and today was no exception. So, as was traditional for a man so tired as him, he stopped in at his local coffee house for a pick me up.

The reason he chose this particular cafe was how warm it was, no matter what the time of year. As soon as he crossed the threshold the gloves were off, the jacket was slung over the back of a chair and he placed his order: 'The usual', of course. As he waited he grabbed a few packets of sugar and dropped them down next to his gloves on the table before starting to remove his jumper. But... His gloves were in his pocket. He looked down and realised that is was someone elses gloves, they had been left here. He looked around, trying to place who may have left them but saw no one nearby that wasn't chatting away or reading a book over a steaming hot brew, so he gave up. They were most likely long gone.

They looked old and worn and his first thought was some equally old and worn drunk had left them here. Unable to fully enjoy a fine, strong beverage with a pair of rotten leather gloves on his table he set about picking them up, with some trepidation, and saw they were a solid, decent leather and he thought they must have cost a pretty penny when new. He knew a thing or two about fine leather as a man whose feet were adorned with nothing less than quality Italian workmanship. And then there was the palms he saw as he turned them over in his hands, the age of the accessory now forgotten to him. At least a hundred tiny gems of every colour were set into the leather, radiating out in a spiral from the centre and glinting with a magnificent intensity in the dimly lit shop. He was dumbfounded. These were clearly once an exquisite piece of work and now they lay discarded from some rushing individual.

His thoughts were broken by his order being called and, without any conscious effort to do so, he stuffed the pair of fingerless gloves into his bag and took his drink with a thank you.

The rest of the afternoon passed without incident. He finished his coffee, and some paperwork, in the cafe and made his way home with his head lowered against the freezing wind. A fifteen minute walk and he was home. The same routine as ever followed. He switched on the heating. He put the kettle on. He switched on the laptop. He made another coffee and sat down to do some work for the next few hours. The claimed gloves didn't even pass his mind until he trudged, tired as anything, up the stairs to bed, practically dragging his bag behind him.

With a long yawn and a cliche stretch of the arms above the head Sebastian removed his tie and dropped it to the floor. He removed his belt too and let his trousers fall the the floor, revealing the full length, black cotton undergarment. A few things were taken out of his bag and dropped onto the flawlessly tidy desk in the corner of the room. Then his hands hit the gloves and, for reasons he couldn't say, dropped them on his bedside cabinet beside his alarm clock as he fell to the bed and drifted quickly into slumber.

The sleep that followed was shallow and dreamless, cracked and broken. Barely managing to stay asleep for more than a few minutes at a time became irritating, then terrifying. Every time he closed his eyes he started feeling like he simply wasn't there. As though when he couldn't see something it no longer existed. This continued for an hour, maybe two or three, he couldn't be sure, until he managed to claim a few minutes of peace, soon to be shattered by the most powerful event in his life.

Behind closed eyelids Sebastian's mind shot into overdrive. His first thought was that he was ill. This rapidly gave way the possibility that he'd been drugged. All sense of reality was leaving him and he felt as though his body was constantly falling into and rising out of his bed. His stomach clenched, his hands grasped at sheets that weren't there. Just threw them off the bed in my sleep, that's all he thought but he knew it wasn't so. He knew it as well as he knew that if he opened his eyes he would not see the walls of his bedroom, nor the rest of the house or city beyond that. The sensation that he was being carried away without leaving the room persisted but he could not open his eyes, not through fear or uncertainty, but rather like they had been numbed and stitched together, it simply wasn't possible.

He panicked, reaching out for something, anything familiar, something solid and recognisable that would let him know that he was either dreaming, drugged or demented. What he closed his chubby fingers around did not comfort him. It was the gloves, far more real to him now than anything else his body was in contact with. The matress beneath him slowly began to raise it's sides up to encase him like a tomb until he fell straight through the bottom. He did not hit the floor, he simply fell, fell without screaming but not without trying. His windpipe was soon raw with the effort of calling out but there was not a sound to be heard, just an unbearable silence that was suffocating in it's ambiguity, the certainty that he wasn't dead began to merge with the plausibility that he had recently expired and was falling into hell.

And then, as suddenly as it had started, it stopped. He hit a solid ground with a jolt similar to the feeling of waking from a dream of falling, still screaming. Only now he could hear himself. And he could feel things. He could feel a smooth ground beneath his back, the wind and sun of Autumn, the pain in his lungs from what felt like an eternity of screeching. He could hear things beyond his own uncontrollable cry. He heard people, shouting and laughing, metals clinking, the crack of a whip, the footsteps of passer-bys. And then another sensation, instant pain in the side of his face.

"Shut up, ye're scarin' away m' custom!"

Oh yes, he could hear and feel very well now. And that was certainly the feel of a boot in his chops. So he opened his eyes, only to find himself squinting against a strong sun in the sky. And what he saw was far worse than he could ever have imagined. Yes, there was the boot that had delivered a healthy kick to his head, standing on flatpacked dirt and kicking up a tiny cloud of dust with every step it took away from him toward what appeared to be an old market stall covered in bottles and jars and surrounded by people. He certainly wasn't in London, wherever he was.

With shaky legs Sebastian struggled to his feet and stumbled forward into the path of a thousand people who had no time for him and simply pushed him back and forth while muttering under their breath. The confusion was so overpowering that he resorted to grabbing a man by the front of his strange shirt before his arms could shove him away and he asked in a voice as shaky as his legs:

"W-Where am I?" His reply was a fist to the gut.

"Yer in mah way is where y'are!" And then the man was gone, joined the flow of the crowd. And then Sebastian was gone too, barged back to his place in some alcove in a wall, where he collapsed into a heap and stared around with wide, uncomprehending eyes. I'm dreaming, oh God, oh God, I must be dreaming, this isn't real, this isn't real at all... Although it certainly felt real, his aching jaw and stomach were testimony to that. And those stares, those cold, unkind staring eyes were real enough to make him shrink back into his corner, those rushing people and disregard for him were real. And the gloves, still held in his tightly clenched fist that was white with the effort, were real.

Sebastian Pherson was in serious trouble.


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Kayla Hamilton missed her fiancé, Alexander. He had left two days before for a photo shoot in Hawaii and wasn’t due back until the weekend. She would have gone with him – she had wanted to go with him – but traveling by any means tended to make her sick now so she kept her feet safely on the ground, where they belonged.

It was late afternoon now. Earlier in the morning, she had a shoot in the northern part of town and she had taken her time meandering back to the studio apartment she and Alexander shared. It was only a two hour or so walk, but she wandered in and out of stores, having any purchases sent to her home so she wouldn’t have to carry anything. Kayla had a feeling that the maid would want the apartment to herself after Kayla’s attempt at cooking stir-fry last night. Kayla wasn’t known for her cooking skills – she could cook a few things and what she could cook was damn good, but stir-fry was not on the list.

A cool breeze tugged on her clothes and hair, making her smile. She loved where she lived, where the summers were hot and the winters cool but not cold. Even though it was autumn, she got away with wearing a light pink, slightly see-through long-sleeved shirt over a lacy white camisole and faded jean shorts cut indecently short. Cowboy boots made a pleasant clopping sound against the pavement as she walked, peering into store windows as she did so. Most of the people here knew her by name. Although she received many of her clothes from the designers she modeled for, she enjoyed going into regular stores to see what most people thought was in fashion. Occasionally she even dropped a few hints to the owners about what would be in fashion next season.

But what she wanted today wasn’t clothes or accessories or anything of that matter. She was on a hunt for a crib. It had to be perfect and she’d be damned if she didn’t do a thorough search. Her baby would be sleeping in it for a while, after all.

In her most recent stop, she had found one that she liked: a teak structure that came to her waist. The corner posts were twice as high and tipped in stars so fabric could be strung across them. The front and back had been carved with designs of the ocean. Alexander would say it was too much, especially for a baby who wouldn’t remember it. She would give him her best ‘kicked puppy’ look, and he would give in and she would get the crib that she wanted. But she had promised she wouldn’t buy anything baby related until he returned so she had reluctantly left the shop.

Now she was only a few blocks from the apartment building and she slowed her walk even more. The sun was moving towards evening – amazing how time flies by when you’re shopping – and the ice cream vendor in the park across the street was going to close up and go home. She had stopped for a crepe for lunch, and she really shouldn’t eat anything so… bad for you, but ice cream and warm cookies or brownies were a guilty pleasure. With a sign she turned away. Ice cream could wait for another day, when she hadn’t had nutella earlier.

As she turned, the antique shop she had been standing in front caught her eye and she wrinkled her nose. She was fond of antique shops – most were full of over priced junk. But some had rare finds. She looked up at the sky, she still had at least half an hour before the sun set. The tiny bell on the door jingled as she walked in. An old woman with a mass of white hair and sagging skin looked up and smiled, but said nothing. Kayla sent her a pleasant nod before she moved deeper into the store. It was as she feared – mostly junk. She perused several booths, examine most of the jewelry. When she was done, she made her way to the front counter. Once glance out the windows made her blink – when had the sun gone down?

“We’ll be closing soon.” The old woman’s voice brought her back. Kayla nodded and put her finds on the counter: an old, light purple dress, completely covered in beads, reminiscent of the flapper era in the U.S., and a vase covered in kittens and butterflies. It certainly wasn’t Kayla’s taste, but her maid like kittens and the woman deserved something nice besides just her paycheck. The elderly woman took a long time, looking at the price tags and typing them into a cash register probably as old as she was. She kept readjusting her glasses to see better.

Kayla finally paid for her purchase and was about to head out when something next to the door caught her eye. A tiny silver bell, polished to a high shin, was sitting on its own pedestal. The handle was made of dark, stained wood, also polished. Kayla glanced back at the old woman – she was busy writing down what Kayla had bought. Carefully, the model reached out to grab the metal and wrapped her fingers around it to keep it from ringing. Gently, she put it in her bag, in the folds of the dress, and simply walked out of the store.

On the walk home, she mused about what she had done. She had never stolen before, never in her whole life. But, really, the vase wasn’t worth the money she paid for it and the bell couldn’t be worth that much either.

When she got to the apartment, the maid was gone, so Kayla put the vase on the kitchen table with a note. The kitchen looked spotless, so Kayla avoided cooking anything and simply sat in front of the TV with an orange and a plate of crackers and cheese. When she felt her head start to nod forward, she finally stood and made her way to the bedroom, checking first to make sure the heater was on. She took the dress she had bought and hung it up in the bathroom doorway to air it. The bell slipped from its folds to rolls across the floor. Kayla picked it up and, having no where better to put it at the moment, put it on the bedside table.

As she undressed, she looked at herself in the mirror, turning sideways. Yes, there it was, the curve of her belly. She smiled and put her hands on it. She couldn’t feel movement yet – the doctors said she wouldn’t for a few weeks, nor did she know its sex. But she loved it more than she believed she could ever love anything.

Finally, she turned away from the mirror and pulled on the long silk night gown she was using this week. She pulled back the comforters and bed sheets, crawled in, and was asleep before her head hit the pillow.

Kayla awoke to the rocking and rolling of a ship during a storm. She sat up with a gasp – except she didn’t. There was nothing around her to sit or lay on, so she stayed still. Her mouth wouldn’t open, nor would her eyes. She wanted to vomit, out of both sickness and panic, but couldn’t make herself turn around. She reached for the phone that was always beside the bed. She didn’t know what was happening to her, but she knew it wasn’t normal and she was going to call an ambulance. She couldn’t feel anything beside her and the panic became smothering. Then, her hand closed on something cool and smooth and incredibly solid. She brought her knees and the object close to her body – whatever it was, it wasn’t a phone - and wrapped her arms around herself.

And then her bed tipped over and she was falling. She clamped her mouth shut so hard her jaw ached. Her fingernails dug into her arms – pinching yourself was supposed to bring you out a dream, right?

Suddenly she was on her side with the wind knocked out of her, much like when she had fallen asleep on the couch and rolled off. She opened her eyes, not yet moving, to see feet walking by. Not sneakered or sandaled feet, but boots made of leather and slippers made of silk. One hand curled protectively around her belly as she used the other to push herself up. The people around her paid little attention, though those that did were curious. They were dressed in clothes she had never seen except in movies: trousers and tunics, bodices and long skirts, suits of armor. Everyone was talking and she found she could understand them. There was laughing and yelling and bartering and various animal sounds. Then the smells hit her: sweat, spices, fish in the sun, animals, to many people with poor hygiene, sugared candies, the musty smell of cloth, the sweet small of cut grass and fruits.

Kayla promptly turned to the side and threw up. After the last of it was out, she wiped her mouth with the side of her hand, wishing for water. Now the crowd gave her a slightly wider berth, concerned the woman might puke on them. She barely noticed the sting in her upper arms where she had made herself bleed, or the small rivets of blood that snaked their way out of the wounds.

The moment she saw a break in the crowd, she half stumbled and half crawled to the side of the street, where she leaned against one of the walls. She knew it wasn’t a dream – she didn’t know how she knew, but she did. A small sob escaped her as she curled into the fetal position.

Where the hell was she?


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Ah, early spring in Sydney. Being a coastal city, spring wasn't all that different from any other season, truth be told. It did mean a larger influx of tourists, though, and for some, that was the best news they got all year. Others, locals who made their money in different industries, despised the coming of the locust plague of over-sugared American children and the parents that couldn't control them, or the old couples who'd fire off conversation in Chinese and have extreme communication difficulty with anyone else, or the uptight British with fancy vacation homes and posh, superior attitudes.

Leander was indifferent to all of it.

Then again, Leander was indifferent to most things. Closing the wooden door to the small bookshop she worked at, the young woman turned the key until she heard the characteristic click of the locking mechanism, then pocketed the lot of them and stuffed her hands into the sides of her aviator's leather jacket, probably the one item of clothing she owned that had ever been worth more than thirty bucks. Well, aside from the boots, but those were old military issue, not retail, so it probably didn't count. And if it did... well, she was indifferent to that, too.

Jerry's was, conveniently, about halfway between her job and her apartment, and a walkable distance at that. The bar's average clientele was about twenty years older than Leander and undergoing some kind of overdramatic mid-life crisis, but Jerry was the only guy in the area who knew how to make a decent drink. Besides, the other customers tended to leave her alone and wallow in their own misery, something that didn't happen if you went to clubs that served the twenty-somethings of Australia's most famous city. There, you tended to get hit on, usually by someone so far gone that it wasn't even really a compliment.

As soon as she entered, Leander took her customary spot at the bar, third seat from the end, and raised a couple of lazy fingers in a bid for Jerry's attention. The owner, an ex-military sort with an impressive collection of surprisingly-tasteful tattoos, obliged, pouring her the customary starter- a gin and tonic. Leander didn't even really like the flavor all that much- the way it burned on her tongue tasted of failure- but maybe that was why she started with it in the first place. If it came later in the evening, she might not remember why.

She noted something unusual just beside her. A smooth, flat, reflective oval was placed on the bar as though it belonged there. Leander snorted. "Reflective coaters, Jerry? I thought you had a bit more taste than that," she drawled in a bored monotone. He looked at her askance as though confused, and she grabbed the thing, holding it aloft between her index and middle fingers as one might a playing card.

Jerry shrugged. "Ain't mine, sheila," he replied matter-of-factly, and Leander raised an eyebrow, but said nothing more on the subject.

It wasn't until she was three more drinks into the night that she bothered with the mirror again. An errant bit of curiosity bid her pick it up again, and she stared for a moment into the reflective surface. Jerry, apparently noticing, spoke. "What d'ya see, Lee?" The young woman rolled her eyes at the rhyme; intentional or not, it sounded like Dr. Seuss.

Still, his tone was serious enough, and she wondered if this wasn't one of those 'the heroine gets life-altering advice from the friendly bartender' moments that sometimes showed up in crappy art-house films. Of course, that would be entirely stupid, because for that to be the case, she would have to be the heroine. Ridiculous.

"Mmm..." she pretended to contemplate her reflection, "freckles, too much hair, pointy nose, that slightly-drunk glaze to the eyes... looks like a waste of good space to me."

Jerry chuckled and shook his head. She almost liked that about him, that he assumed she must be kidding.

About three hours and several more drinks later, Leander assured Jerry that she was perfectly fine to get home, and headed out the door to do just that. He'd told her to keep the mirror, and let him know if she ever saw anything different, so she'd rolled her eyes and slipped it into a jacket pocket, the one without her keys. The woman's alcohol tolerance was remarkable, and she scarcely wobbled on her way home, though the stairs to the fourth floor were annoying as always.

After locking her door, she tossed her keys atop her kitchen island, and, deciding that she really didn't give a damn (tomorrow was her day off, after all) she plopped onto the couch in her living room, jacket and all. Her bed was a crappy mattress on top of an ancient box-spring, so sometimes the couch was just better, even if it did look like something a cat had hurled up in the 80s. Booze was always a great sleep aid, and so she was out within five minutes, though her dreams were fitful.

Leander had never been the sort of person to put much stock in dreams, and hers seemed to taunt her with the sort of peace she never got while awake. Often, she dreamed she was flying, just soaring on some kind of thermal bubble, free as anything on earth could possibly be, unchained by obligation, guilt, or memories she'd much rather drink into oblivion.

Tonight, though she did not fly; she simply drifted through an impenetrable blackness. Now this was more like her reality. She supposed she could put effort into it and try to direct herself in one direction or another, but what did it really matter when everything was the same?

If you don't like what you see, why not change it? The sound of the voice in her dream was enough to make her physical body jerk with surprise. Inside her head, she looked around, curious as to the source. The voice sounded familiar, but she couldn't quite place it.

The hell? She thought, and as if in answer to the query, a small light appeared some distance away. Oh no, I've seen this movie before. I am not going toward the light. If she'd been physically present in any sense, she would have rolled her eyes, but as it was she could not, so she settled for snarky thoughts instead.

Don't worry; it's not that kind of light, the voice replied, and she realized with startling certainty that it was most definitely her voice. Now, if you don't like what you see, why not change it?

You said that already, she pointed out in a deadpan, and the voice sighed.

I should have known I'd be this difficult. Just... just look, would you?

Leander shrugged; if she'd ever thought herself anything but completely insane, all such inclinations were banished by the fact that she was pretty certain she was talking to herself... in her own dreams. Good thing she didn't really give a damn if she was off it or not, she supposed, and decided to oblige herself and drift closer to the light. As it turned out, it was not a light at all, but the mirror from that night, reflecting light from an unknown source... or perhaps just possessed of some kind of internal luminescence. She felt her physical hand close over the selfsame object in her pocket, and this confused her. It was like she was aware of both the real world and this one at the same time.

Well? she prodded herself. Do you like what you see?

Leander looked into the mirror, which was conveniently suspended in nothingness at a good height for such an inspection. To her surprise, she saw not her own reflection, but a moving picture; scenes from her daily life, and what had once been but was no longer. She shook her head; was this some kind of trick question? Are you stupid or something? If you're actually me, you know bloody well that I don't.

So... the voice trailed off, and Leander had a feeling she knew what was coming. Change it. Touch the mirror.

The brunette was hesitant to follow such an order, but in the end this was just a dream, so she figured it couldn't do any kind of permanent damage anyway. Reaching out, she tentatively touched the surface of the mirror with her index finger; eyes widening in a rare moment of true emotion when it rippled as though it were water. She drew her hand back as if stung, but then touched it again, applying pressure this time, watching in wonderment as her hand went straight through and did not appear on the other side of the glass.

She mirror trembled, and began to expand, and Leander tried to withdraw her hand, only to discover that it would not budge. The harder she tried, she greater the resistance, until she felt herself being pulled in. She didn't think to scream, not even as she was forcibly tugged inside and deposited against the ground somewhere... else.


With an audible groan, Leander opened her eyes. A mistake; the light was way too bright, and red spots danced behind her eyelids when she squeezed them shut again. "Shit." Forcing herself to sit up, the young woman rubbed at her oculars for a second before attempting it again, this time with marginally more success.

What the hell is this place? was her first thought. Her second was that it had to be the fanciest bloody Ren-faire she'd ever seen, what with all the silk and brocade and linen these people were wearing. She was in the middle of some elaborate market set-up, and she thought wryly to herself that the merchants really were getting seriously in character.

People were staring at her, which was somewhat irritating, and Leander stood and dusted herself off, assuming the usual bored 'leave-me-alone' expression she tended to favor, staring pointedly right back at anyone who seemed to have the gall to do the same to her. Okay, so she wasn't dressed like an idiot; that was no reason to gawk like she was some kind of bizarre circus act.

Damn... I must have been way more wasted than I thought last night. Either that, or I'm still dreaming. Something was bothering her, though; it was Spring in her city right now, but the vegetables these people were selling screamed fall, as did the coloration of the few trees in sight. If this really was the world's most elaborate Renaissance Faire, why would they bother with something like that? And nobody could just make it colder outside anyway.

There was a moment in which she entertained the thought that someone had spiked one of her drinks, and she was now on an acid trip of some kind, but she was far too in control of her faculties for that. Well, fine then. All she needed to do was find whoever was in charge of this place and get directions out. she'd ask one of these weirdos, but she doubted she'd get an answer that made any kind of sense.


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Alex was walking down a street near his college. The sun was shining, no clouds were in the sky, no breeze. Basically, it was a terrible day to live in Arizona. I just had to walk today, I just had to save gas for my car. Alex was still wearing his jacket, making him even hotter. He wanted to take it off, but he was too lazy to even move anything other then his legs. His legs however wanted to stop moving as well. They felt like dumbbells after the long walk, and the heat didn't help it at all. He felt like he was going to have a heat stroke. People had offered to walk home with him, people who lived nearby, but he just ignored the offers and walked away. He didn't care much for company and felt better alone.

Alex looked up, sweat dripping down his face and onto the sidewalk.There was a bus stop ahead of him, one of the stops that had an add on the side as well as a small roof above it. That roof only meant one thing to Alex, shade. Oh thank God. He lazily walked over to the bus stop, one leg slowly lifting then stomping on the ground after the other. As the shadow of the bus stop fell over him he almost fell from complete relief. He sat on the bench under the small roof and heaved a heavy sigh of relief. "Much better." He leaned against the back of the bench, his head hanging from the top.

He brought his head forward again and smiled. "This is much better. I might just take the bus." He looked down the street, his eye catching something glowing in the sunlight. He leaned forward to get a better look at it. It was laying on the curb, completely abandoned. Alex got up and approached the shining object slowly. As he got closer, he saw it was a pole. "A pole, in the street?" He looked closer at the pole, realizing it wasn't just a long piece of metal. It was a work of art. The pole was 4 feet long and 2 centimeters wide. The base color of it was a dark red, with designs of green and blue vines coursing around it. In the center of it, 4 centimeters long and 2 centimeters wide, was the design of a majestic bald eagle, perched on top of a long branch and and seeming to be staring at Alex with a fixed expression of determination.

"That is amazing." He reached for it, his eyes fixed on the eagle's stare. He picked up the pole, admiring its mastery of art. "I wonder if someone dropped it?" He looked around, wondering if anyone was near. No one was. "Guess it's mine then." He put the pole over his shoulder and walked home, swinging the pole from time to time. Since he had learned Tae-Kwon-Do, he had loved the feel of a weapon in his hand, not that he needed one.

Alex sat on his bed, holding the pole out in front of him. "I wonder what master will think about this?" He placed the pole against the wall next to his bed and laid down. He closed his eyes, falling asleep after the hard day. He suddenly opened his eyes, the pole seeming to glow. All around him his room began to liquefy and melt into a complete darkness. "What the-?" Alex felt the bed disappear underneath him as he began to fall. Before he fell, he grabbed the pole and held on for dear life. He felt himself falling and never landing. Its gotta be a dream.

Alex felt solid ground beneath him. He opened his eyes, expecting to see his room. But instead he saw something he wasn't counting on. He was on a stone floor, his hand still holding the pole, people around him walking around what looked like a flea market. He blinked as his vision cleared from the bright sun hovering above him. The people were wearing strange clothes, some of which looked like robes and others in armor. Some of them carried weapons as well, but not guns. Instead they were carrying swords, maces, spears. Weapons not used since the olden times of mankind.

He stood up after a man walked over him, carrying what looked like a cage. He looked around him, taking in his surroundings. "Where the hell am I?" He said.. He looked fearfully around at all the people around him. They all seemed so badly tempered and were glaring at everyone around them, including him. He turned to a man nearby. "Excuse me, can you-"

"Leave me alone you rotten Beggar!" The man pushed Alex away, into a wall nearby. Alex was dumbfounded, confused, but most of all, scared. "What the hell is this place?" He looked to his right and gasped. In the road, towering over everyone else, was a...a.... creature. It had the ferocious head of a bull, the legs of a powerful bull as well, but the muscular torso and arms were that of a man. "Holy Shi-!" Alex didn't even finish before he started running away from the beast. He was trying to move everyone out of his way, only to be pushed down again. He put his hands defensively over his head. This is not happening, this is not happening...But he knew it really was. Everything looked and felt too real. He was trapped in a world he didn't even know.


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Tess glared at the dress that hung on the outside of her closet door. It was a bright blue, floor length frilly dress. The first time she saw it when she walked into her room after school she had literally gagged. The thing was layer of frills all the way to the floor and had one frilly piece that went over the shoulder. Her mother was standing right next to it and beaming. Not even taking notice of her daughters disgust.

“Isn’t it a wonderful dress? And just your style!” The woman was absolutely thrilled with herself. “It will bring out the blue in your eyes, for certain!” Tess was for certain that even in the rich society they were apart of the thing would be described as hideous. She sighed and dropped her arms to her side.

“You know that there is no way I am wearing that thing right? Not even your fancy, jewel loving friends would put their children in that. It belongs in the what not to ware pile, or maybe just the trash.” She felt the sting of her mothers hand across her face before the words were all the way out of her mouth. “but of course its what you picked out so I will ware it anyway.” That, at least, made her mother leave the room.

She moved the dress from the closet to the bed and just stared at it. Another piece of clothing to add to her collection. She had a lot of clothing, but there was not one thing, in her closet of her dresser that she had picked out or ever would have picked out for herself.

Another sigh and Tess was pulling off her clothes and stepping into a slip and then into the dress. It was only a moment before her mother showed up again to do her make up and curl her hair. She looked like a doll, just as her mother always wanted her to look. Without any words between them they got into the car and were driven to where the current party was.

Arriving there Tess immediately tried to slip away from the crowed. As she went someone bumped her and spilt their entire class of red wine on the from of her dress. They kept apologizing repeatedly but she only hugged them and thanked them with a huge smile. Leaving them rather perplex when she walked away.

It was to he dismay that her mother wouldn’t let her go home and change, instead she was taken up stairs by their hostess and put into another dress. This one with no frills and only falling to her knees. Her mother wasn’t happy but Tess was much more so. Though she was still very board and went to explore that house they were in.

Eventually she found herself in a music room, or rather it was a room with all sorts of instruments on display like at a museum. She wondered around the room and looked at everything, some times running a finger across something or plucking at a string. It was about half way to the back of the room when she saw the most beautiful thing.

Tess moved closer to the glass case against the wall. Inside of it sat a flute on a red pillow. But it wasn’t normal, it was glass, or maybe crystal and it absorbed the light from the room in such away that it looked like it was glowing. Very faintly she could see there was a design on it. She stepped closer and laid her hand on the glass that surrounded it. The noise of the glass shattering startled Tess so bad that she tripped and hit her head off of the table. She instantly loss consciousness.

She awoke dizzy and confused, the feelings only grew as she tried to pull herself out of it. She could see nothing and yet her eyes were opened, and she could hear nothing, even though there were supposed to be at least fifty people down stairs. Most concerning of all she couldn’t feel anything beneath her. But then there was something smooth and cool in her hand. After noticing that there was a pulling sensation and she was suddenly laying in a street with people and noise every where.


Tess looked around her , and when the her eyes finally adjusted to the sun she screamed. The people the buildings, everything was wrong. It just couldn’t be! She continued to scream until she was cuffed in the fact and she fell back words only to be dragged to her feet by the arm.

“You just be quiet now you dirty wench, and if you listen well to me I wont hurt you too badly.” the man had vile smelling breath and what looked like a rotting tooth. His face was inches away from hers. As soon as he groped her though she screamed again causing people walking about them to make sounds of protest. Her knee came up and made contact with the horrid mans genitals. He groaned and dropped her.

She had already kicked her shoes off when she was in that room before, and now she took off running on bare feet and she didn’t stop. She was scared and confused she didn’t know what to do, or where to go so she just kept running and running. She finally reached a place where there was no where to go, A wall stood in front of her and that was all. She dropped to the ground and rested her forehead against it.

“Oh no. What have I done, I should have stayed put, then maybe I could have figured out what was going on. I bet I couldn’t even get back there if I tried, I’ve run so far.” Still she stood and began to walk. She had never been one to just sit and do nothing.


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Marlaina booted up slowly, a little more slowly than usual, cautious, something felt odd. Her ears switched on; strange usually it was music her owner listened to first thing in the morning. She tried to pinpoint the noise, the Tv was usually to her left, but the noise was all around her; had Megan gotten surround sound? Her body started clicking, warming up and starting to load data, searching for signal on the wireless, her old friend. It wasn’t there, her eyes clicked on; opening herself to see how light Megan might need the screen. The noise was too close, something was wrong, but her camera wouldn’t turn on, she was sightless. Sure she could feel it their, panicking she opened the shutter and suddenly her bright blue eyes opened. Two cameras? That was wrong, what was going on here, had her hard drive been move to a new laptop? Was her owner upgrading, taking off the information and about to get rid of her, she panicked; this was the personal laptop wasn’t it. She hated that laptop, how her human would play on him, how she made sure he was kept to date, he didn’t self update like her, he was out of date.

“This one has a unique feature, you can turn it on and off, saving massively on oiling its joints.” A rough man spoke before her, she had in fact, never seen a real man, Megan always turned her off when company was about. “Look at her intricate craftsmanship, those eyes must be crystals.” Her lenses focused on the man before her, what was happening here? She was completely motionless, she tried her dvd drive, but nothing happened. Fear spread through her, was she broken? Had she been dropped and now was going for sale in some lowly store. She glanced around, this wasn’t how she had expected things to be in the outside world, she had expected the people to look like the people on Tv and the Dvds that she and Megan had shared in watching on her. This was more like one of those period dramas, maybe this was what it was like. A light blinked below her, loading up and she looked down. Immediately she panicked, the whole top of her had moved and in panicking, her legs had been set twitching and her arms reached up to cover her eyes. She screamed, something she had never done before, but she had to somehow express her fear at what was going on. Her mouth opened in one long loud computerized shriek, quickly lowering to a soft clay tone, silken as her perfectly molded flesh.

“See how unique; the designer gave her a voice, I’ve never seen anything like her.” The man said, his leg twitching beneath him. He reached out behind him, his rough hands fumbling across her skin. She felt him touch her glow, where her artifact had settled and knew instinctively that she did not want him to touch her. Her body jerked away, suspended as it was on two hooks, one under each arm. She blinked down at the young rich couple that was contemplating purchasing her. Clay fingers clasped around the human fingers, her skin for the first time feeling, even if practically dead compared to our own, this was the world of sensitivity for her. Her eyes flashed around, at least her processor seemed ever faster, and thoughts were flying through her head, at a speed she could not compare.

“Get off me, do not touch me!” She spoke almost metallically, her voice coming out in chunks. “Where is Megan? I want Megan!” She said, trying not to be frightened at her own voice. She had never spoken before, well yes she had, but other peoples recorded words. Her hand clenched ever tighter, unaware of her own strength, she had never had any before. The man whimpered, his second hand coming up to switch her off, hand curving over her flawless ceramic body. Her blue lenses glared down at him and she grabbed the second hand, her body leaning forward, automatically balancing itself so her face was lowered to his. She did not understand the fear held in his eyes, how he shivered before her. She was the one who was afraid, this was so new to her. She was of course not looking at the man, she bent even further, her arms twisting in their support and she looked at her fingers. The porcelain was perfectly smooth and utterly touchable, soft, the joints fine and delicate, leaving her with almost human hands. Strands of hair fell over her hands as she lent over so and quickly she processed that they were her own silver grey strands, silken and metallic and untangled, flowing around her in an aura of softness. The strands reached out, probing. They were the most sensitive part of her current make up, able to sense things far beyond her current perception with just her eyes. Her hair roiled, reaching with impossibly thin wire, incased in the supple grey silk, sending and receiving electronic signals.

“Telan, tell me where did you steal this, for I know it is not your smiths work.” Kali spoke firmly, she had been working on her way to the city’s guard headquarters, but had had to stop for this. “She doesn’t look happy, whatever you have done I would stop and let her down. I would of course hate to have to take you to a judge to see if this Golem actually belongs to you.” She smiled, her dark eyes as per usual making the other man look at the floor. Kali had a very good to her day, she was needed in late, so she had a lie in. She was less happy to see her mother had ruined yet another pair of her trousers with silver stitches and flowers, no one would take her seriously with flowers. Telan was well known for his Golems and their quality of build, but this was not one of his. She watched as the exquisite build let go of the man, letting him reach up and lick off the hooks. The Golem crumpled to the ground, her legs not holding her own weight, their was something a little wrong with this one she thought, moving forward to help it to its feet.

“Come on now, we can’t be leaving you here, where is your owner?” She asked in her matter voice, Kali had little softness to her for strangers.

“She got rid of me, upgraded I think.” Marlaina stood unsteadily, not used to having legs, nor having to stand on them. “Thank you for saving me from that man, he was trying to turn me off and sell me while I would be asleep.” Her voice was getting ever less metallic, taking on the earthy, silken tones of porcelain clay. One foot went in front of the other, she watched the other woman walk carefully, trying to mimic her.

“Well, you are a lone Golem, you should be careful.” Kali paused, her head tilting to one side “People around here will have never seen something like you. Are you a cast off of the house of High General Mattius Herne?” She asked, for a moment worried that she had done something wrong. If she had gone against the Unions commands she would be condemned, it did not matter how much service and life she had given them.

“No, I belonged to Megan, do you know her?” Slowly but surely she was forming words with her mouth, rather than just opening it and letting the sound come out. She was starting to become a little more steady on her feet.

“No, I’m afraid people with that kind of name do not exist here, maybe up in the mountains. Look, try to keep out of the way till you remember what your supposed to be doing. Your made beautifully, the craftsman must have been very proud, but your not all to bright.” She shook her head, never thinking that this Golem might feel hurt, fear, panic. “I have to go to my work now, keep out of the way.” She turned from the intricately beautiful thing, her stride long and purposeful. She did not look back, nor brake in her movement as she pushed through the crowd, not that she needed to do much of that, people found her face disturbing and her shadowling reputation set her apart from the crowd, they all knew of her. The soles of her boots tapped across the sunken cobbles, her head shaking atop her head. Who would be so stupid as to just chuck out a piece of art like that Golem, she would never understand the stupidity of some humans. Up ahead she could see headquarters, where all the city soldiers came at the start of their shift.

She waved at a few of the hulking forms outside, fellow soldiers, allowing them the respect they felt they deserved but did not give her. She slipped into her own personal changing space, being the only woman there she was privileged to have the space for her own privet use. Sure sometimes if a woman gave one of the guards trouble they were stored in their, but not many women were quite that stupid and it seemed to be happening less, she was glad of that. Slipping out of her silver stitched clothes, she revealed a more than boyish frame. She was never more than skin and bone, chest so flat you could see ribs where breasts would have been on any other woman, all to seeable under her skin tight cotton camisole. Her belly was a hollowed out hole that would never bare children, hips jutting out in almost painfully sharp curves (the closest she got to a woman’s real curves). She looked at herself their in the mirror, camisole and pants covering all that they should, here she would never dare to fully undress, not that the men here would hassle her. Those who did not find her wide set black eyes ugly, could never get past her almost skeletal figure, muscle being her only saving grace. She looked at herself for a moment, she had no self loathing for her looks, they allowed her to do her job so well and that was what she lived for, that and her family.

She quickly slipped on her black leathers, hot for this time of year, but she knew they had to do warm up exercises before heading out into the city and she did not want to risk getting damaged. The leather was soft and supple, blooming around her ankles before being clinched in, like fisherman’s trousers, hiding a little of her skinny bones. Over the top she slipped a lose pale blue camisole, covering her tight black one, this one was lose, hanging from her shoulders by thick straps and skimming shapelessly down to mid-thigh and almost lilac tint to it. Next went on light, specially made amour made to just cover her arms, they had of course been given a matt finish and been oxidized, making it hum against her honey tan. Then she slipped on her chainmail, landing just a little further down than her light camisole, that shone through the dark mail, making her smile at her reflection. She looked incredibly different to the other guards, but anyone who had gone against her in the training courtyard knew better than to say a word. Around her narrow hips she hung her belt, slipping the scabbard of her sword along its slender length and slipping her blade into that. Then last but not least she picked up her short ceramic knife, slipping it down the edge of her left boot.

“Peter!” She called, chasing after one of her comrades. “I hear I’m up against the boss today, maybe he is getting rusty. Do you know where he is?” She asks, meaning she was scheduled to go up against Captain Loger Kronis, though she had always wondered why he was on the schedule as busy as he was, but they were old friends, so she was looking forward to it.

“He is up in his office, you should be careful though, you know he’s out of your league. I don’t want you sliced in two, take it easy.” Peter was young, but one of the few who she had befriended of late, he seemed to have a genuine affection for her, like the brother she never had.

“I’ll be careful, I know I can’t match his sword, but it will be nice to see how long I can last.” She smiled taking a skipping step towards the stairs. “Will you come watch?” She asked, she often had an audience for her quick warm ups; people taking bets on who would win. Most of the time, despite being female, she won.

“Sure, I’ll see you there, play it safe chicka.” He said smiling at her as he headed off to his own warm up, where no one would watch, despite the fact he was growing in ability almost every day. She nodded down at him, her feet already tapping away on the stairs up to the main office. She was keen to see her old friend, they did not often pass one another, he was like a second father to her and she enjoyed hearing his old stories. She could not remember where they had first met, it had been years ago, she couldn’t have been more than 16 and 24, at one of her first assignments. He had kindly offered her some advice, advice that had saved her skin more than once. She trotted along the corridor at the top, moving through the first room where three girls sat, writing out all the documents for the whole complex, allowing the soldiers to do their jobs and just leave brief instructions for them. Needless to say they were busy girls, fingers tense around quills, not even looking up to see her passing. She paused outside the captains room and rapped on the door, ready to wait.


Marlaina wondered for a while, before coming to a little alcove and sitting down. Almost without thinking she started to catalog all the things she had and was. She stared in intense fascination at her finger joints, her memory storing away each and every small part, the condition and how they worked. She started learning her body slowly, moving each thing individually, an eerie sight to watch. Her hair moved in a rapid wave of sea like waves, touching over everything, sliding panels away so she could see her own inner working, blue cased wires running along the inside, wires worked into her porcelain so she could feel and sense. She slid the panel closed, her eyes shining a little light in the dark alcove. She looked around, their were quite a few people like her, all hiding in their own alcoves. She waved, not a smile on her lips, she had not figured out a smile yet, people here didn’t seem to do it much. Still she looked friendly enough and she hoped someone would come sit with her, would tell her something about this place and all the things it held. She was oh so lost and so very very alone. The first time she had been alone, had her own body and despite her fear, she was happy. She looked at the strange array of people, she wondered for a moment why Megan hadn’t stayed out more, it was so interesting
(unedited, too excited)


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It was far from a usual morning for the Captain of the City Guard, news had been flooding in about a situation in the North-West and Captain Loger Kronis had been awoken by a Lieutenant two hours before dawn to make his orders clear. And despite having not found sleep until the darkest point of the night he had no choice but to rise, dress and make his way to the East tower where meetings of military matters took place. His room was at the top of the West tower, above the barracks of other high ranking officers and he cut across town, through the central housing district, and seeing not a soul wandering other than the Night Watch on duty, to whom he returned a salute as he passed, unable to stop himself thinking how lucky they were to be going to bed when the sun rose.

This morning (Or is it still evening he thought as he walked) the Captain was dressed as he usually was: A white tunic covered mostly by dull, brown, leather armour plates fastened to his person by rawhide lace. Each plate corresponded exactly to the part of his body it covered. Unlike most soldiers his was custom cut to his specifications and each leg alone was made of ten seperate, overlapping pieces to allow for maximum movement. His boots too, reaching up well past his ankles and fitting equally as well around his calves as the armour, were made of the same smooth leather that had been worn to a dull finish through heavy use, though the quality of both the labour and the material was so fine that he would likely not wear through the soles if he walked all day, every day, until his death. And, as was deemed necessary, heavy gauntlets with a finish as bright as polished silver adorned his forearms and hands, stopping just short of his elbow. They were built with an intricacy he could not fathom, each joint as fluid as the skin and bone beneath it but as strong as the rock of the city walls. Each swing of his arms brought up a tiny, muffled sound similar to the rattle of coins in a purse as the thousand miniscule plates rubbed against each other.

He yawned, unnoticed and unjudged in the chilly, brisk, early morning breeze, hoping someone in the tower had enough sense to prepare him some breakfast (Or a late night snack). Politics was a dangerous game and he would not play on an empty stomach. However, the smell of roasting meat or baking bread did not seep through the heavy wooden door. Of course not. Only the dusty scent of old books, volumes of finance and records, greeted him as he unlocked the door with his key, one of only five in the entire city.

"What panic is so urgent that it requires me at such an time as this?" he asked, walking into the room with his glaring, orange eyes fixed straight ahead, well aware that all other eyes were now on him. His reputation, his job, his entire life, rested on other people's perception of him and he never disappointed. He was a harsh judge, a brutal soldier, a seasoned veteran and a master of military control. He was also a passionate and respected officer with endless patience, unmatched battle skills and a well-known eye for talent. He was, in every sense of the words, the perfect man for his position. Feared by every criminal with an ounce of intelligence and respected by every soldier with a hint of chivalry, Loger Kronis was nonetheless far from widely admired in the intimate circles of the common man.

"If I may report Captain?"

Kronis, for nobody referred to him by his given name to his face no matter how close they may be to him personally, turned and locked his gaze upon the same Lieutenant who had knocked on his door that very morning. A recent addition to the ranks, drafted in from a small town not two turns of the horizon East of here, who had most likely become an officer only by the standards of his own town's soldiers. He would not do. He didn't know how things worked here.

"No, sit down." His eyes barely moved before he settled on a relevant individual; a Sergeant who had refused promotion many times so he could stay in the field. "Sergeant Vander, make the report."

"Yar Cap'n." He was another from elsewhere and his accent was incredibly difficult to understand for many but the two men had known each other since Kronis himself had been a lowly private. "Rum'rs in t' Nor' Wes' war true, civerl uprise 's gettin' worse 'n ever..."

He proceeded to give the report that the men assembled had no doubt already discussed and the situation was dire. It seemed that up in the furthest reaches of the Union's control, the North West coastline and the islands nearby, civil unrest had reached unsafe levels. Riots had broken out in massive numbers and damage was significant. All sources confirmed outbreaks of violence on the same day and so it could only be assumed that there was a rebellion underway. Details about exactly which cities were affected, the trade that would be lost because of it and how long until the lack of such resources in Jarvaise sparked more rumours were spoken. A list of Union officials who knew, and would know today, of the news was recited. Requests that had been made by towns affected were relayed to the Captain. And all within five minutes. Efficiency, by many accounts, was Loger Kronis' middle name. And it was why he had denied the new Leiutenant the oppurtunity to speak.


Later that day, after dawn had broken, documents had been signed and food had been fetched from the market, the Captain sat at his desk and had meeting followed by meeting until the sun had passed it's highest point in the sky, knowing he would likely not sleep at all the coming night. But at last he was given a reprieve in the form of a knock at his door that could only belong to one person with the authority of a soldier.

"Come in Kali" he said without looking up from the exceedingly long list of favours written before him. He knew it was her even though he had forgotten about their training. The knock gave everything away and he had memorised at least a hundred individual's trademark rap on the wood. Her's was quieter yet sharper than an average soldier oweing to her smaller, bony knuckles. There was no impatience as there was with most officers and there was no clumsiness associated with a blubbery hand. These things set the sound aside from those of significant rank (And a lazy job of writing documents) and there was no other grunt who took any kind of care in making their prescence known behind a door rather than simply thundering their entire weight against the entrance.

He brought himself up to a stand while the door opened and stepped out from behind his desk, leaving his work where it was.

"Close the door, I need to have words with you." He spoke in the same bass tones he always did, never altering his voice for anyone, not even the High General himself. His voice was low, deep, strong and rarely rose or fell in pitch, remaining mostly monotone to reflect his apparent lack of emotion. "No doubt you have heard the stories about the North-West baronies." He grabbed his belt off a hook in the wall and started fastening it around his waist. "Well they are no longer stories. There is unrest that has not been seen since the dark days of King William." He started fastening the sheath for his sword to the belt. "And soldiers are needed to quell to violence. I assume the job will mostly require only intimidation, the coastal regions know nothing of effective soldiering, which means many of our own watch will be taken from our streets." A few steps towards the door and he opened a cabinet that housed his sword, gleaming and brilliant in it's sharpness. He took this and placed it in it's sheath, continuing to speak as he did.

"Despite your skills in battle you are not an intimidating sight to an angry mob so you will instead be required to take a place keeping order on the streets." By now he was ready for battle and moved to stand in front of Kali, towering both over and across her with his tall, broad frame. "Your injury leave is over, consider yourself a permanent soldier again."

Regardless of the bond they shared there was no apology for calling her from her time of well-deserved rest, a Captain only apologised to a higher ranking officer, usually for something that was not his fault. He reached past her and pulled open the door for them to leave. It had been a long morning and he was looking forward to some physical excercise at last. If she was upset about the situation he would be only too happy to oblige her an outlet for her anger.

(Will edit after dinner)


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The audience was all rapturous silence and whispered awe as the strains of music filled the room. The pianist, hunched over his instrument with a look of intense concentration on his draw, skeletal face, paid it no mind. His fingers danced in intricate patterns over the keys, never pausing, never hesitating, the evidence of his finesse obvious to all with ears. The movement was rapid, nearly frantic, and occasionally he would jerk this way or that at the bench, involuntary movements, spasms, that he did not allow to interrupt.

Deep inside his own mind, a necessarily vast and sanctified space, Thaddeus Nox rejoiced. There was never anything in the world that brought him more pain than such intensive sessions before his instrument, but neither had he any other occasions to feel the unique euphoria of bringing music to silence. The rest of his existence was a staunch avoidance of pain, a carefully-orchestrated attempt to prolong his life as much as he might be able, but when he played, he was reckless, cavalier. His life could be draining away from him right now, the adrenaline required to keep going putting pressure on his already-weak heart, and he would not cease. Would not care. Because only here, in these spare moments when the world was nothing but himself and the instrument, was he ever truly alive at all.

All too soon, though, were they over, and this night was no exception. He almost thought it should be, that tonight ought to be somehow different from the others, but it was not. The man who was mighty before the keys, a giant of prowess and maestro most exquisite, who could hold concert halls full of people in his sway with nothing more than the delicate dance of his fingertips, was always reduced once more to the stricken, diseased husk of a person who had to be helped from the bench back into his wheelchair. And then the spell would be broken, the watchers released, subjected to the reality that was his daily test of endurance, the realization that the Goliath was a dying David, with no hope of casting the stone. The applause was always momentous, but for him, the sound of it was tinged with sadness.

His new nurse chatted happily behind him as she wheeled him out of the building, and he listened politely, throwing in a comment here or there where he thought it appropriate. He was more drained than he had counted on being, though, and so when she pushed him to the coat rack and grabbed what she thought was his, he did not have the presence of mind to correct her. The agony was beginning to set in as his muscles tightened and cramped after their exertion, and he could no more lift a finger than he could run a marathon.

Thaddeus kept himself focused on his breathing, consciously forcing the air in and out from his slightly-hooked nose, that the pace of it might remain steady. His symptoms grew more acute each day. Having survived to the day five years longer than he was supposed to, he knew that his time was limited. Soon, very soon, his heart would give out; simply lose the strength to keep beating, or his lungs to breathe on their own. This, he reflected as he was ferried back to the sanatorium by car, was something he had come to accept.

It wasn't until the nurse had him settled back into his bed that he realized her mistake. "Rebecca?" he asked as she turned to leave, and the young woman, fresh from school, no doubt, halted and turned back with a smile. Thaddeus was ever one of the least-bothersome patients one could have, even at a facility for the dying. "This cloak... it is not mine."

"Isn't it?" the pretty brunette picked it up, realization dawning on her face. "Oh dear... umm... I'll just take it and drive it back, shall I?"

Thaddeus smiled thinly and shook his head slightly. "I'm sure most everyone will be gone by now. Just leave it here for tonight, and I'll tell the day nurse tomorrow that I made a mistake. You should go home and sleep." He had learned from her near-constant talking that she had a fiancee at home, and he would not want to keep her for something so easily rectified.

"Oh... of course. Thank you, Thaddeus." He inclined his head, and with the flash of a vivacious smile, she was gone, cloak left on the coat hook beside his bed. He had envied people with so much life in them, once, but now he chose not to. Everyone had problems, his were just more obvious. You never knew what was hiding behind a friendly smile, after all. Nobody had the perfect life, and he at the very least had managed to find something fulfilling in his, and that was an achievement some people would live thrice or four times as long as he and never discover.

The young man settled back against his pillows. He'd spoken to his father earlier today, and he'd played a concert this evening. Few days in recent memory had been quite so nice. He could not ask for a better day to die. Letting his eyes drift closed, he ignored his body's constant protests against existing. It wouldn't have to protest much longer, anyway. For a few moments, Thaddeus was hyper-aware of the sound of his own breathing, a more intricate sound than he had ever thought it to be, but soon even this slipped from his awareness. Darkness slowly engulfed every one of his senses, blocking him from her world as thoroughly as the midnight-colored cloak on his coat hook might, and the youthful pianist embraced oblivion.


He had no idea how long he spent aware of absolutely nothing, only that he was now awake again, albeit unable to see anything. That hardly mattered to him, though, because there was something he didn't feel that pressed upon his mind with more urgency. His pain was gone! He felt... strangely whole. Perhaps this was the afterlife? It was hard to say. He knew, though, that even though he could not see himself, he was standing, on his own, without pain. There was a weight on his shoulders he was unaccustomed to, and he touched one hesitantly, feeling a smooth, thick fabric beneath them. That was odd; he certainly remembered owning no such thing.

It soon left his mind, though, for he felt compelled to walk in a specific direction. Unsure exactly what it was that caused the feeling, he nevertheless embraced it, and took a cautious step forward. To his eternal wonderment, his legs worked in just the manner he had asked them to, and he took another. With each tread, he seemed to grow stronger, and before long, he was jogging, then sprinting, relishing in the feel of exertion he had never in his lifetime been able to manage. He reached breakneck speed, but still he did not stop. The sensation of running was so new, so wonderful, that he was certain her could spend the rest of time doing nothing else and be satisfied with that.

Something or someone seemed to have other ideas, however, and Thaddeus had the distinct impression of passing through something before he once again lost his hold on consciousness.


"Oi, blighter, what do ya think yer doin'?" The voice shattered the silence with the weight of a boulder, and Thaddeus stirred. "Oi, c'mon, I said get up now." It's tone was distinctly feminine, and though the words were rude, the tone was more amused than anything.

The blighter in question furrowed his eyebrows, cracking first one eyelid and then the other, blinking both when he noted that the morning sun was in his face. Now that's odd... I had the strangest dream. I was running, and then... He wasn't really sure who this nurse was (perhaps she too was new), but he was kind of confused. He had been so certain that he was going to die last night; everything had had such an air of finality to it. He was almost a bit put off that it was not so- he'd put all his affairs in order and everything.

The face above his swam into view, and he found himself looking at a beautiful lady... with slitted golden eyes and sharply-pointed ears. Thaddeus gasped, sitting bolt upright and looking around frantically. The strange woman chuckled and shook her head of black hair. "My, my, you look like you've seen a ghost, lad."

Thaddeus scarcely heard, so shocked was he. He had just glanced downward and caught sight of his own forearm. "Th-that can't be right..." he stammered, but sure enough, the leanly-muscled limb rose at his mental direction, and he twisted it this way and that with no difficulty- no ache. His fingers were still the long and dexterous digits they had always been, but lacked the knobby boniness that had always been their identifying characteristic.

"Of course it's not," the woman replied slowly, as though she were dealing with someone slightly simple. "Ghosts don't exist, lad."

"No, no, not that. I mean... this," he said, gesturing expansively to the surrounding area, filled to the brim with people dressed strangely going about their business as though there were nothing odd about it at all. Included of course, was his reference to his own body, which by all his mental accounts was both healthy and strong. It felt... comfortable.

"Oh, I get it. Yer from the country. Never seen Jervaise before, eh? Well, ya needn't worry too much; just don't get on the wrong end of the guard, and you'll be fine. Here," the odd woman offered Thaddeus a hand up, which he took, pulling himself to his feet with unnecessary trepidation. It was... easy, and he stood with no difficulty at all. He felt light on his feet, like a tense twine, ready to move at the slightest hair-trigger.

"Thank you," he breathed, smiling brightly at the woman, who colored slightly for some reason and looked down.

"Eh, sure. No need to thank me, country boy. Now, off with yerself. I hafta set up shop fer the day." She made a gesture of shooing, and he obliged, ducking out into the main street. The sights around him, he drank in like an overeager child, so fascinated with the fact that he could move about at will that nothing else really struck him as strangely as it should have. Unbeknownst to him, his flannel pajamas were generally hidden by the black cloak he wore, so the weird looks he received were minimal, and mostly due to his lack of footwear or the fact that he didn't really seem to know where he was going.

He scarcely noticed if there were other people like him in the vicinity, but he did catch someone waving at him. He waved back and approached the girl. Her ash-blond hair was a few shades lighter even than his, but something about her seemed... odd. As he got closer, he realized that she was not human at all, but made of something resembling porcelain or ceramic. This didn't bother him as much as it might have; he had been awoken by a woman with pointy ears and cat-eyes, after all. "Hello," he greeted amicably, not really sure if she could speak or not. "Are you new here, too, by chance? Because I just got here, and it's the strangest thing..." he trailed off, slightly uncertain of himself. After all, who would believe the story he told? A man who was once sickly and dying, waking up in a strange new world with a body that was whole and pain-free? It was a bizarre tale, that much was certain.


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Leander should have known it would not be quite so easy as finding someone official-looking and leaving. she was beginning to suspect that not all was as it appeared here, and she wondered for a moment if she was on one of those stupid prank shows where they did ridiculous things to people and then filmed their reactions. They wouldn't be getting much reaction from her if they were; hadn't anyone bothered to check if she was an expressive person beforehand? She couldn't imagine that the continued footage of a stonefaced young woman walking was going to entertain anyone.

Then of course, it could always be like The Village. M. Night What's-his-name made horrible films, but maybe he was onto something. These people all seemed to absolutely belong here, and she was pretty sure nobody was quite that good at acting. The frequency of small incidents- a drunk getting thrown out of a bar, a merchant's voice rising in volume or pitch as he argued with a customer- it wasn't perfect, and that was what convinced her it wasn't planned. All of these things happened with no regard for her positioning or whether she'd be able to catch all the words, and that was disconcerting.

Leander kept on walking, though, mostly out of a lack of anything else to do. She walked just about everywhere she went at home, and it always helped her sort things out- insofar as she could, anyway. There were some things in her life that would require a lot more patchwork than a few miles beneath her feet could provide, and quite frankly she wasn't going to waste the effort.

Something caught her eye in one of the alleys she passed, and Leander halted in her motion, taking a few steps closer to inspect it. As she had initially thought, it was a person, albeit one currently curled in upon herself as though she were trying very hard not to be. The woman was clad in nothing but a silken nightdress of some sort, and Leander immediately concluded that she was also not a part of whatever this was.

"Hey," the brunette intoned flatly, approaching the redhead and squatting low beside the prone form. "Hey, wake up." She wasn't exactly sure why she was prodding the other female with her voice, but she was, and perhaps there would even be some answers to be had from it. Leander didn't touch her- she didn't much fancy human contact, truth be told- but neither did she leave. Her unwitting company didn't look all that well, all things considered, and despite herself, the bookshop clerk felt a small measure of sympathy. From the looks of her, she was just a kid- no more than twenty, tops. She had the sort of hair and clothing (such as it was) that suggested money, but that didn't really weigh here or there in the other woman's mind. Leander had come from a great deal of money herself, present circumstances notwithstanding, and she certainly wasn't going to hold it against her.

"Oi, Princess, you really have to get up. The ground ain't good for ya." She didn't know where the nickname had come from, but it seemed appropriate enough. Leander had something of a habit of nicknaming people, even if it was only mental most of the time. Between the pampered hair and the immaculate nails and the expensive silk nightgown, it applied as much as anything else might.

Leander fended off any approaching locals with her glare, waiting for the shiela to decide she wanted to get up, hand still extended as if to help her to her feet. It was a bit awkward, but one of the few good things about Leander was that she didn't much give a damn how anything looked, and she'd always had a soft spot for the downtrodden. Maybe it was just because they reminded her that her life could be worse; she didn't care to question her reasons.


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Kali opened the door slowly, she had no need of rush today and this was someone she felt comfortable around, this man respected her and in many ways had gotten her to where she was in life today. The old door was heavy and the brass doorknob cold beneath her slender fingers. She looked tiny next to it, even smaller than the other woman might have looked asking for more papers, but this was normal, she had always been small. In many ways being so small allowed for her to do the job she needed, she could hardly sneak over enemy embankments, through the winding roads of apparently sealed off towns if she were as large as anyone else. She stepped into the light, looking at her old friend and boss, nodding at his request. The door closed almost silently under her hands, her slender form doing much to hide her supple strength. Her long dark hair tumbled around her face in an attractive way, but that was about all that made her beautiful. Awkward figure and far set black eyes allowed her no more, she would never be beautiful as they had told her she would be and she was glad of it, she had no want of the disgusting men she saw every day.

“That is both good and bad news Sir, I am not one to enjoy too much personal time and I was starting to get more than a little bored with my night hours.” She smiled, letting him know she was all too happy to be given her place back. “Plus this means I can take up quarters here in the barracks once more, I am tired of coming back to my clothes changed.” She gestured down to the silver stitches her mother had added to the bottom of her trousers, knowing it would make him laugh just a little, she was most probably the least feminine creature on earth. She stepped back as he moved towards her, letting him pass to open the door without another word. He had trained her well and this was shown both in her respect for him and her attitude towards work, neither of them took time off. She moved in behind him, glad to be moving down to the training area, she could do with stretching out her wound. Her wound was healing well and she had wanted to come back earlier, had been about to discuss it over their clatter of practice. As they moved down the hall she tightened her amour, sure she thought of him as her father and knew he would not actually try to harm her properly, but she was far out stripped by him in skill and wanted all she could get.

“Sir may I ask?” She paused for a second, not really having to do so, he had always told her to ask, it was good, “Will you be going off to fight yourself, you are more than formidable in both reputation and size. Hardly anyone will even practice with you for fear, I doubt any rebel army will stand before your sword.” She knew flattery was not needed and indeed this was not any, if she had asked any of her fellow soldiers they would have said the same, though with more Sirs than needed she was sure. Her feet tapped down the stairs as light as a feather, for she weighed little more and down on to the hard cobbled surface. Around the halls any man with a spare minute was heading to the training arena, it looked like far to many idle people, she would be glad to see the back of most of them. Ahead of her stood Peter, he smiled at her and she knew silently wished her luck. Kali loved to fight, though she was not seen as particularly good, she could out maneuver most of the soldiers here, not that they would admit to such a thing. The Captain however was a different issue, no matter how much she approved between each of their practices, he had always done the same, that was after all why he was the best.

She stepped out into the warm midday sun, the building encircling the training area from prying eyes. The moment her feet touched the ground, her whole posture changes, becoming lose and limber, her shoulders dropping, back strait and legs ever so slightly bent. She tilted her head this way and that, loosening up the muscles there and rubbed her hand across her scar. Today she would at least land a blow, she had been training so hard, despite being wounded and she knew today was the day. She watched him carefully as he moved across the cobbled stone surface, her eyes flickering to the side of the arena, where the judge was carefully sitting out of the way of their fight. In most cases, he would sit idle by the side, but the Capitan and herself had always had flare and always fought like it was life and death. Their was no point in practicing if it did nothing to hone your skills and you could not do so if you didn’t think it mattered. Her long dark hair blew across her features, honey skin covered for a moment by the thick mane. Her eyes however did not blink, did not falter and did not move from her Captain.

To her left she could hear the soft rise and fall of the flag, signaling the fight was to begin, she did not shift to check if she was right. Her small ears knew the sound all to well, feet spreading so she could lower her center of gravity, bouncing lightly in the almost windless arena. She placed a hand on her belt buckle, something that a lot of people would find odd, but something the people here had seen her do a thousand times. The old leather was comfortable and soft, she treasured it, where she had placed her hand she could feel the slight indents of the many times she had done this. Her eyes sparkled with unknown depths, something that was uncomfortable to look at, not that people often did, not many chose to hold her odd gaze. With speed unlike many could hope, she flicked the top of her belt buckle, letting it slip lose of her hips, free falling to the ground. Her thoughts were almost silent in her head, everything she had focused on what she was doing. Her spare hand came up, snatching her sheathe and sword in one from her narrow frame, her feet tapping off the ground, dust from the building filled the air with sparkling air. She reminded herself, she needed to tell them they should put it outside headquarters, not in the ring. She shot forward, hair streaming behind her, sword drawn with a slow, almost inaudible hiss. It glittered in the sloping sunlight, perfectly kept; it was the only thing she allowed to shine in all the things she wore.

She moved to strike, bring her scabbard up in defense, prepared fir her Captain’s cat quick reflexes. A smile filled her face; this is where she belonged, scar stretching across her front, sword in hand and a fierce joy in her heart.


Marlaina had been looking out at the passing people for some time now, she counted every second, every millisecond. Each and every person was stored away along with anything they had on themselves and anything they might have been saying. Her processor was working full pelt as she tried to learn all the new things she was seeing. No one had told her this was where she would go when Megan got rid of her, she did not believe in an after life, all that happened is you were turned off and never turned on again. If you were lucky you were added to the consciousness of another computer and kept in a little file, where you could be called upon at will and awaken from your sleep. This was different, Megan had gotten rid of her, but not for dead, she was still alive and different. She was most fascinated by the joints of her fingers, her hair that fell sporadically across her lenses… She paused mid thought, she supposed they weren’t to be called lenses anymore, they were eyes weren’t they? She flicked through her internal memory and looked up eyes in the dictionary, yes, eyes. Her fingers traced over the runes on her chest, her off button, where glowed the item she had found in her system.

Her eyes pause in their search, wait, she had seen something she knew. Her eyes closed, helping her concentrate, images flickering in her head till she found one she recognized. That was the pianist, the one her owner had loved. How she had sipped wine and would watch him on Tv, muttering to herself about how courageous he was, how could he do it as he was and Marlaina couldn’t help but think, why didn’t he just get fixed? She slid her shutters open, sitting up a little straighter, maybe she was in the right place, maybe this was her reward for being such a good little worker. She raised a hand as she had seen many others do and waved it some what awkwardly towards the man in the cape. She wondered if he would see her through all the people, she was a little low, but she could not quite bring herself to focus on working on her legs. The wind died around her, but still her hair moved, recording every single thing that was around her. The strands of wire and silk were one of a kind, never had the world seen craftsmanship like her, nor would they ever again.

“He-Heeee-Heeell….” She paused, trying to get her tongue to move and shape the words, unlike the unnatural sight of her just opening her mouth and letting out noise. “Helluhoo Sir.” She said softly, finally getting her rubber tongue and lips to move using the metal underlay beneath. She smiled, her tender lips moving without feeling or thought, but looked somewhat odd in her unmoving cheeks, she would have to work on it. She looked over him, had he come here to be fixed like her, it did not look like their was anything wrong with him now and he smiled at her just like her owner had once.

“I amuh neew toouh being heere.” Her words did not sound right even to herself, but she was proud at how quickly she was learning. “Ie amuh learning aahhnew so many thiings.” With each word she spoke, they were becoming clearer. “I have neehver had thiis.” She gestured to her body, her fingers moving smoothly over her porcelain skin and ceramic plated clothing. That was something she found odd, why was she not wearing cloth like all the other bipeds, even this one had bits to cover itself. She stood slowly, motioning the man to stay still, that she would be back. Her eyes had locked onto a setting up clothing stall, her movements clunky and without a single touch of grace. The picked up a knee length pale yellow dress with white flowers stitched about the puffed short leaves, across her collar bones and the hem of the dress. She held it to herself, the thing was sharp in contrast with almost everything that she was, but somehow went well with her porcelain tone. She slipped it over her head and the owner of the stall started to babble, gesturing to her, her hand out.

“You’l need to pay for that Golem.” The man said, his hand held out.

She looked at it somewhat confused, she reached out, turning his hand over in her own, she could feel heat in it though she had none of her own. He jerked it back, moving to take the dress off her, knowing Golems very rarely had any money of their own. He showed her the glittery coins in his pocket, meaning he needed some of these. She frowned and then rolled her tongue, taking out one of her many spare metal parts from the back of her mouth. A pure silver bead, no larger than a garden pea rolled out and she picked it out of her mouth. The man stared at her in utter amazement, it was far more than the garment was worth and he handed over his small pouch of coin, knowing he was giving her less that she deserved, but then she had no idea of currency. She smiled, nodding to him and held the small coin purse in her hand, dipping her head as she had seen many of the humans do and returned to the waiting man.

“You are the pianist, my owner, she loved you.” This time her words were almost perfect, she looked at him. “She said you were beautiful and what a thing had happened to you. Have you been fixed like me? I have all this now.” She gestured to her body once more, making it perfectly clear that she had never had one before. She tilted her head to one side and held out the coin purse, she had no where to put it and she rather hoped that he could put it somewhere in his many clothes. She watched his face, making sure to take note of how it moved and what it did. The cloth was weightless on her strong form, but she was glad to blend in a little more. She moved the long strands of her silver hair behind her ear, careful not to touch the fan that was to one side of her forehead. Her hand paused proffering the coin pouch, completly unmoving, like a statue, she was very unfluid and unnatural in her movements. Everything about her paused while she waited for him to take it, her look becoming blank, like she had been paused mid motion never to move again.


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The unusual earthen woman seemed indeed to be unaccustomed to speech, but Nox didn’t much mind. Rather, he took the opportunity to seat himself beside her, smiling gently and nodding reassuringly when she returned the greeting. He was unsure if she required such affirmation or would perhaps take it as rude, but it was in his nature to be as supportive as possible, and it seemed that even as odd as this situation was, that much at least had not changed.

His attention was immediately drawn, however, when she confirmed that she was also new to this place, and his eyes lit up, a million questions fighting for that spot on the tip of his tongue that would bring them to life in the air between himself and this immaculate construction of a person. She seemed unused to the very idea of having such a form, but then he could to an extent say the same of himself, and he sympathized in an odd sort of way.

She stood before he could say any of this, or ask the question that had beaten back the others to occupy his mind, and walked over to what he took to be a clothing vendor nearby. At first, he was somewhat concerned; if she was indeed as new here as he was, than she probably didn’t have any currency. Somehow, he had the distinct impression that his American dollars would not be welcome here, even if he had had any on his person. When the vendor said something he couldn’t hear, Nox recognized the tone well enough, and was halfway through standing to see if he couldn’t smooth over the situation somehow when the living doll (for this was surely the easiest way to think of her) seemed to solve the problem herself, and received a bag of coins for her trouble.

“You are the pianist, my owner, she loved you.” Nox blinked, slightly confused by the language, though the words were near-perfect this time. The first words that caught him were my owner, and he spent a moment trying to figure out how to best ask that particular question. What the question did tell him was that the two of them were from the same world, though in all his life he had neither seen nor read about nor heard tell of robotic technology this advanced. Which meant that, like him, something must have happened to her upon arriving here. Had she, too, been sick in some way, her body so far gone it could only be repaired by replacing it entirely with a finely-crafted shell of some kind? But… her mannerisms seemed inhuman as well, and he wondered why that might be.

He settled for the easy reply first. “I am indeed a pianist,” he replied with some measure of wryness, “though I don’t think the definite article is quite deserved there,” his smile was sheepish, and he rubbed at the back of his neck with a touch of embarrassment. Some people had indeed been fans of his, and oftentimes they would ask how he could continue to play through all the sickness, but it was always impossible to make them understand quite the right way. It wasn’t a brave thing; it had never been that, just a simple man trying to make the most of what he had. He’d never been called ‘beautiful’ before though, and it was a little strange to hear it in such a matter-of-fact way. “I suppose… I’ve been fixed too.” He nearly laughed at the phrasing; such an unconventional way of putting it, but as true as anything else.

“My name is Nox,” he offered at length, realizing that in the bizarre euphoria of the situation he presently found himself in, whole and discussing his situation with an intricate golem in the middle of a world he had never seen the likes of before, he had neglected the most basic of niceties. “Do you have one?” He didn’t wish to assume anything about this girl, since he didn’t really know much to begin with.

When she proffered her coins and froze in place, he was at first a bit concerned that she wouldn’t move again. He was unsure why he felt this way, but her stillness just seemed so…complete. It was a trifle unnerving, and he instinctively reached to take the small bag, but hesitated, hand just hovering there uselessly for a moment. He was fairly certain he understood what she was trying to do- despite the fact that the cloak more or less blended with the environment, his plaid flannel pants and simple t-shirt most certainly did not. “Thank you,” he said at last, taking the coins gently from the outstretched hand. “I’ll be right back.”

With this promise, he made his way to the same vendor she had used, the man wary of his approach, but seeming to relax when he spoke smoothly enough and pointed out the items he wanted- a pair of dark breeches, some leather boots, a pair of socks, and a loose white shirt. Handing over the money the man asked for (Nox had no way to know if he was being had), he returned to sit by the golem again, pulling on the socks and boots but leaving the rest for now. Unlike his companion, he wasn’t going to change his clothing in public.

A thought struck him, and he turned to the girl with a measure of excitement. “Well, if I’m here, and you’re here, do you think there might be others like us?”


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#, as written by echored
Hey, come back here with that, punk!” a voice cried out over the thrill of other voices in the mass sea of people that made up the beach this fine evening. The sun was setting over a pink and yellow sky, white clouds dissipating ever more under the fading light of day. This ‘punk’ zoomed pass tourists, jumping over beach towels and stomping on sandcastles, some kids left crying in the aftermath. The punk was gripping a wallet in his right hand, throwing an occasional glance back behind him to see if he was still being followed. Sure enough he was, the owner of the wallet now accompanied by the local beach patrol.

“Incoming, Flin!” the guy shouted as he kicked sand in all directions, some landing on Flin off to the side.

“Huhh?” he groaned, lifting his head up off the ground just in time to see his friend Tony bolt down the strip while other men ran by, kicking sand in Flin’s face as well. “What the!” he yelled to his own device, sighing in a harsh grunt as he dusted the sand off his chest, arms, and face. He had fallen asleep in this spot earlier this day, when most people were already up and carrying out their daily business. Flin spent the previous night drinking and combing the beach, passing out face down where he was now waking up. The sun setting off in the distance was his only clue that he slept until evening, yet another waste of a day in his life when every day seemed waste. He rolled to his knees, stretching his slim, yet toned arms upwards in an attempt to get going. Didn’t work though, he still felt sick and hungover. But now he was hungry.

Flin kicked up to his feet, dressed in nothing more than some jeans and sandals on his feet. A white cotton shirt hung over his shoulder, a shirt he desperately needed to clean for it was no more useful now than as a sweat rag to wipe his face.

“And off he goes,” Flin spoke of himself, referring in third person more times than not. His last possession was a brown leather backpack than he scooped up in an open hand and threw over his shoulder, letting it thud against the spine of his back. Having no particular place to go or people to see, he began to walk southwards down the beach. On days when he had more energy, Flin would find himself sparking conversations with random tourists, ranting on about the jellyfish and their mission to rule the domain of the beach. Most would giggle and pretend they were interested, all the while trying to leave the conversation in a way that might not seem so rude. Today Flin wasn’t feeling on top of his game, so he retreated to keeping to himself, letting the quiet of his steps drown the tick in his brain that chattered like a squirrel. Flin would continue his silent trail of blankness until something caught his eyes. And indeed something did.

Under the boardwalk, a light began to shimmer. Looking over his shoulders to see if anyone was coming, which there wasn't, Flin jogged forward and looked at the source. It was a pair of black sunglasses reflecting the light from the waning sun. He picked them up, slipped them over his eyes, and felt a sense of accomplishment in that moment. Flin had been meaning to steal himself a pair of sunglasses and this saved him the trouble. Without another moment of hesitation, Flin moved out of his spot by the board walks. He knew not to stay in the scene of the crime after his first few attempts at stealing. Now he considered himself a pro, getting away with most of his illegal antics.

The rest of his short day passed swiftly, only getting up an hour or so before the sun had set anyway. After roaming the beach for a good two hours, Flin made his way up to the boardwalk and to a local diner that he would eat at occasionally. The owner there knew of Flin and felt bad for the kid being homeless and all, so he’d provide Flin a meal for free every now and then when Flin decided to show up. This was one of those occasions.

“Hey Mister Arty,” Flin said as he opened the door to Donal’s Diner, Arty being the main man being the counter most nights. Flin still had on the sunglasses, pushing them to the top of his head now that he was indoors.

“Lookin’ sharp, kid, where’d you get those glasses?” Arty asked with a raised eyebrow while pouring Flin a small cup of coffee, knowing most likely that they were stolen property on his forehead. Flin knew all too well that Arty might think he stole them, and began waving his hands most passionately before him.

“No, no, NO,” his voice fluctuated, a hint of fire to his last ‘no’. “I, in fact, was bestowed this marvelous pair of sunglasses by none other than the Queen herself. Came right up to me, placed them on my head, and dubbed me Knight Flin while she was at it. Very kind lady, I must say, though she smelled like dead fi...” Flin began to ramble, though cut off mid-sentence by Arty who wasn’t in the mood for such nonsense in the moment.

“Right, right, the Queen gave them to you,” Arty repeated afterwards, right eyebrow raised in humor, but annoyance as well. Either way, he slid Flin the cup of coffee and pat him on the shoulder. “Take care, I have other customers to tend to,” he said, and walked off moments after. Flin took the cup of coffee in his hand, looking down at the brown and black swirls that danced in unison in his cup. Flin took the sunglasses off his head, smirking at his reflection. His hair was a wreck, stuck in the direction at which he had fallen asleep in the night before.

“Ah, well, I’m sure she is a nice lady,” he continued to mutter, still referring to the Queen. Anyone had to be nice to live in a palace like she did, with guards and money and food galore. He on the other hand wasn’t so lucky, barely getting a piece of bread without having his hands cut off by store clerks. Beng poor sure had its downfalls, but then again Flin would be homeless any day over living back at home with his family. After a short time in the Diner, Flin waved his goodbye to Arty, placing the sunglasses back over his eyes as he exited the door. He walked with a swagger, trying to appear ‘smooth’ and badass in his new black glasses that looked like they were from the Matrix. His persona he was trying to pull off was classic 1950’s ‘Greaser’, if only he had a leather jacket to match. Some women began to wave at him and giggle amongst themselves while most just tried their best to ignore him. A few futile attempts at some pick up lines, and he was back to where he found himself this morning on the beach, in the same sandy corner he had fallen asleep in. He wasn’t particularly tired already, but the day offered no sign of ending unless he hit the hay... and so he did....

As soon as blackness hit his eyes, Flin felt more awake than ever. Though he couldn’t seem to see anything else but blackness, his body moved and tumbled like he was out in space, or underwater just with no pressure. A dream never felt so real, brisk wind flipping and contorting his face like a vacuum of reversed air. Instead of being concerned or afraid, Flin began to chuckle carelessly, not able to get the thought out of his mind that he was in some Alice In Wonderland type of situation, falling and falling without hitting a bottom. The black spiral downwards seemed to last hours though it was only minutes. A violent thud to the surface jolted Flin back to his senses, eyes flittering until they were strong enough to stay open. Light was the first thing he noticed, which altogether wasn’t right because it was night that last time he checked. Another thing he immediately was able to notice was the different texture beneath him. His hands felt what his eyes were still trying to come in to focus on: hay. This was hay he was laying on, not sand. He literally hit the hay. When Flin’s complete surroundings finally came in to focus, he all but fumbled off the hay stack he woke up on. Surrounding him were various forms of livestock entrapped in a fence where onlookers pointed at which one they wanted to take home and cook.

“Ah! Awful! Ughh,” he growned through harsh sniffs, the overwhelming stench of feces and dung staining the air he breathed in. Taking a couple feeble steps forward, Flin nearly face-planted into the mud but caught himself, thank god. His balance was off after whatever just had happened. Flin gripped his head, trying to make sense of the situation. He felt the sunglasses still there, taking them off his head to make sure they were the same ones and not some inhuman alien creature that took shape to these glasses. The fact they were normal meant this was most probably not a dream. But how did he get here? Surely he didn’t drink during his sleep and pass out on a traveling truck that took him to some rural country side... there was no beach in sight, but booths that ran along one another in some form of controlled chaos. Flin stepped over the tiny fence that held the livestock in, sandals now hitting stone. He wiped off the mud and dung that stuck to the bottom of his shoes as he waited for someone to pass by.

“Where am I?” Flin asked, gripping the sides of a woman passing by who was startled by such forward actions.

“Get your dirty hands off me, you smelly pig!” she cried, her tiny fists pounding against Flin’s bare chest. She was honest, he did smell like pig, probably due to waking up in a livestock barn. He repeated, ignoring her plea and asked her again where was he..

“Jarvaise, you fool,” she muttered, finally managing to get away from Flin as he watched her dash off.
Jarvaise?” he repeated to himself, almost in a mock, scratching the side of his head. That name didn’t sound familiar, not in the slightest. And she spoke with a weird accent that seemed unlike anything he has heard in the United States. His inability to connect with the woman and his lack of knowledge began to frustrate Flin, throwing his arms up in the air like a beacon in the night. He needed to get people’s attention, see what the hell was going on here. He saw another haystack, this time aiding in holding up the roof to a merchant’s booth. Flin made his way towards it, lifting himself up the hay bale until he was at the top. Standing all the way up on his feet, he was at least 8 feet taller than anyone else walking by.

“Hear ye, hear ye, those of you... peoples.. below,” he began to shout, those in the area slowing in the steps as they looked up at him with curiosity and impatience. Some were fascinated by his looks, the denim jeans he was wearing not yet seen before to them. Others wrote him off as some foreign pest or village freak. “I command thee... you there! What is this place and where is the nearest road to interstate 5?” Flin asked, for from the looks up here there was not a paved road or interstate insight. Fascinating really, the places he must go while he is asleep. His buddy Tony back home would get a kick out of this one. Meanwhile, Flin continued to drawl in a crowd as he sat perched up top the haystack pointing at random people... and creatures?


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The Captain of the guard hid his feelings as well as ever and did not let an ounce of relief show on his face as Kali accepted, even embraced, her return to duty. There were few soldiers he could ever feel sorry for in the same situation but she had it tougher than anyone else he knew. A soldier coming from the outer arc (A polite way of saying the lower class) would soon find promotion little more than a dream for all but the very best. Being a woman did even more to dent her chances, so too did her foreign appearance. Of course there were strange looking and freakish individuals in the Union Army but she was one of a kind. Maybe that was why he felt compelled to help her out as much as he could. She never let these things stop her and her determination was unmatched within the ranks, having to compete with everyone toughened her up. But more than that, she was excellent at what she did. It had been noticed during basic training but nothing had been done about it until the Captain, then a Lieutenant, had happened across and recommended her for further training. And that hadn't been the end of it, his influence grew as he did and before long he became the sole reason for her being chosen for her first classified mission, something she accomplished with grace and pride, leading her to solidify her place and prove wrong all those who doubted the ability of a woman in battle. Of course, he would never admit to helping out so much, couldn't in fact, for fear of disciplinary action concerning favouritism of the troops, even as far as conspiracy. They held that much disdain for her that he would not be surprised to be convicted of treason without a trial should his actions be found out. Well, maybe that was going a little far but he would take no chances in being caught. His involvement was minimal now she was at a high point in her career and his tracks were covered well. Despite all his help, he knew her full potential was far from reached.

And so he kept composed as he walked with her to the training area, being handed his 'grapple' as he went: The three pronged ball and chain weapon that he was now famous for utilising for non-lethal combat, focusing instead on mentally preparing himself for a fight, something he felt was much needed, rolling his shoulders flexing his muscles beneath his leather armour during the journey to loosen his limbs up. One could never prepare enough.

“Will you be going off to fight yourself, you are more than formidable in both reputation and size."

The question had not been expected exactly but it did not take him off guard and his response was swift, honest and to the point.

"Who can say? For now I stay here, Jarvaise needs me. Were I to go at this point it would show only that we deem an uprising a threat. Rather than convince rebels to return to their post it may inspire others to join them..." He let his words remain unfinished as he thought how best to put his next phrase. Details were details but confidential information needed to remain that way.

"If things get worse I may have no choice." It was all he could think to say. It certainly implied the truth, that rumours were afoot of similar circumstances at various points in the country, but said nothing for certain. At the very least he didn't reveal anything in his tone of voice, he was stern as ever.

They soon reached the clearing outside, surrounded by the building itself, which was segregated by lines on the ground for different activities. Today they would be ignored. It was known by the few who were ever present at this event that boundaries, moral as well as physical, were not enforced. No training blades, no extra padding, no special precautions and no more limits than would be found on the field of battle, so far as anyone else was concerned. The truth of the matter was that the two warriors in the ring were good enough to let fly full force and still be able to prevent causing any injury to one another... Well, any serious injury anyway.

The gloves were off. He removed his gaultlets, as symbolic an act as a material one. While freeing some weight from his arms he also removed his rank, revealing thick, carved muscles on his forearms. Taking his stance across from his opponent, Kronis drew his blade in his right hand and held it diagonally across his left shoulder, waiting for the first blow to come through the silence. The flag was waved, fluttering in the light breeze that made it in from the nearby alleyway and the game was on.

There were a few seconds of stillness in the court before Kali lunged forward, dropping her belt and drawing her sword and raising her scabbard for the strike that would start a ferocious match. He was ready and his own sword dropped to across his stomach in a blur and rose to parry away the viscious lunge to the right, spinning on the ball of his right foot to bring his left forward where it planted in the dirt, a small cloud of dust not having the chance to rise before his blade swung around, bringing the scrape of metal on metal to the combatant's ears, his arm dropped, elbow locked at a right angle beneath his shoulder for the briefest of moments, before the uncanny speed set off again and a straight jab issued forth, aimed directly at Kali's stomach with a grunt.


Not too far away in the city, a little further along the wall, sat Sebastian. He was still in shock and felt frozen to the spot. It was all he could do to keep his eyes open, the scene before him was simply staggering. It stood against everything he'd ever learnt. A man simply could disappear and materialise elsewhere, it went against every law of physics ever written! Therefore he concluded that the situation was the result of one of two things. First, he was currently dreaming, although it felt far too real and what little he knew of dreams stacked evidence against that claim. The second option was that he had dreamt his life in London and was now awake. But he could remember every aspect of his life there in vivid clarity, surely a dream could not last that long?

Either concept led to the same conclusion, sitting around feeling sorry for himself wasn't the way to go. So, with more than a little trepidation, he stood, using the wall for support, and walked slowly off to join the flowing crowd, becoming aware of smells, sights and sounds never before witnessed (That he knew of). There were objects being sold that would have been at home in a museum back home, weapons on backs and waists that he had not seen outside films, people that were-


He backed up, straight into a woman with a basket of strange fruit in her arms after seeing a man with the long snout of a sniffer dog and a tail protruding from the back of his waistline to match.

"Oh, I'm so sorry" he muttered as he turned to see the produce rolling away across the floor and under a hundred pairs of boots, instantly sure his overactive mind had concieved the sight from some work of fiction or other. "Let me help you with that."

"No, no, it's fine" she replied in an accent he could not quite place, looking at him in the same manner he had looked at many himself; as though he were insane. He got the picture instantly and did not wish to make a scene so headed off without another word, mind still reeling from what he thought he saw. His eyes scanned the crowd as he went and there it was again, the man-dog. He thought no make-up artist in the world could make it look that realistic and his hands coming up to cover his face, the world starting to spin around him as he found himseld once more pushed along through the crowd until it started to slow, apparently for some preacher or other he could hear speaking about-

"Interstate 5"

-Something that belonged here no more than he did. Eyes open, hands on shoulders to ease people aside, everything stationary once again and stomach settled, Sebastian caught sight of yet another strange looking person standing above the crowd. But this one was different, he was strange by London standards, not medieval standards, and he was talking about the interstate. He'd never been so happy to see an American. An arm rose for a moment above the crowd, his own he saw, but he decided to wait, to see what else this man might say.


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Becks bolted the front door while Chris went to the back, sliding it’s long bolt home before returning to the bar. Every footfall sounded unusually loud in the sudden quiet of the joint, finally devoid of all it’s patrons now that dreaded closing time had come around, but neither of the last staff on tonight took the time or spared the energy to really care. Instead they divided up to finish their checks and, as Becks put some tunes back on, Chris poured the both of them their usual drinks. Becks took hers gratefully and they sat down with their feet up in the comfiest seats in the joint.

Tomorrow they would be in early to tidy the place up more, but for tonight their work was thankfully all done and they could sup at their well earned liquid rewards. “Dan the man was on fine form tonight” Becks offered setting her tall vodka, lime and lemonade down.

Chris only grunted an agreement, a wry smile tugging at his lips as he recalled the antics of one of their regulars, a man who would happily regale all and sundry with entirely fabricated stories of his own prowess at any subject they cared to mention. Tonight that had included a trip up Everest and the discovery of a lost tribe of cannibals in Papua New Guinea. The guy was a bit of a berk to say the least, but he was genuinely harmless with it and could always be relied on to lend a hand when it was actually needed.

Not that it often was here, with most of their patrons being decent sorts and the age limit on the bar being set up at a more American twenty one rather than a British eighteen. In fact the only time they usually got trouble at all was around Christmas when folks who hadn’t been out drinking for a while suddenly decided they still had the tolerances they used to have when they were younger and more sociable.

Last boxing day it had been a group of off-duty policemen, and frankly Chris had taken some honest pleasure in telling the lot of them to sling their hooks and not come back, before he called their fellows in to nick them.

That however had been then and this was now, the end of a nice busy enough night, but one singularly without too much drama.

“Let me guess you were too busy looking at the bunnies?” Becks joked back, referring to some college kids who had been on some sort of group night out.. complete with bunny ears and pinned on tails. This time Chris gave her a look. “Whoa” she said, holding up her hands defensively, “you might have” she asserted, “I mean they were reasonably fit and all and there’s no harm in looking...”

“Not in the market” Chris replied back, knowing her well enough to know that the comment had really been nothing more than the opening sally on another attempt at his deliberate bachelorhood. Presumably she had been working up towards another blind double date with one of her friends from outside the bar and then...

“Not healthy that you know” she said, revealing perhaps there might have been a more altruistic motive after all, her tone sounding genuinely concerned, “she wouldn’t have wanted you to be-

“Thanks Becks” Chris interrupted before she could dig a hole that would actually have hurt some, “but really” he insisted, “I’m okay” he said, belting down the last of his pint and completely missing the frustrated look in her face. “I’ll see you tomorrow?” he suggested, levering himself up off the comfy couch.

“Yeah” she replied, sounding strangely unhappy to his ears.

“Hey you’ve got a day off Sunday” he declared, completely once again missing the point, but succeeding a little anyway, because she knew the only way he knew that was because he had the same day off.. now if only...

Chris was soon gone out the back door, stepping out into the street-lamp lit beer garden and heading for the small gate in the wall that would lead to the streets themselves. Only when he stepped down from the decking his tired foot skidded on something that he hadn’t seen, prompting an honest swear word and some very undignified hopping.

In the dim light of the distant lamps Chris turned about to look for the cause , and to his astonishment found it, a dully reflective metal tool that looked all too nice to have been left lying about... and all too good a tool to leave lying around near the pub’s locks.

So he picked the small braddle type thing up, quickly quirked his lips because he thought he had bent the shaft, before guessing it might actually be designed that way when it wouldn’t bend back, and shoved it into a pocket to head home.

He’d bring it in the morning.

A short car ride took him home to his night darkened flat, some cheese on toast with Worchester sauce served for munchies and a quick shower washed away the last vestiges of the day. After that he headed for his well earned bed, stopping only to touch a single framed photo on the bedside table; falling asleep almost as soon as his head hit the pillow

Then everything went weird, starting off with a feeling like he had often had when drinking too much and only getting worse as instead of simply spinning the whole room seemed to tear itself apart and dump him into the void it created. There was nothingness, only the terrible sense of falling without end and no way to tell which way was up, down or even sideways. Blowing chunks seemed more than immanent.

Instead he found himself lying on some very uncomfortable cobbles, suddenly and abruptly aware of a whole melange of new scents and smells that were far too vivid for any drunk-dream even if he had consumed anything like enough to earn one. The feel of the dirt between the cobbles, working it’s way under his fingernails as he had reflexively gripped for purchase, was far too real for any..

“You must be really bad at Wicked Oath” a voice offered, the accent nothing like he had heard before, but paling into insignificance as he looked up to see the speaker dressed in a deep brown doublet and honest to goodness button breeches. Hell the guy even had a sword at his side.. and vertically slit pupils.

Chris found himself using the exact same word that he had used when nearly breaking his damn ankle on the burin earlier.

“Least they didn’t take yer fancy tool” the stranger offered in what seemed a friendly enough tone, before moving on, leading Chris to look for what he was talking about and find the damn metal etching tool right next to him.

Clinging to anything that made the remotest sense he swept that up and finally peeled himself off the cobbles, only to look around and see only more weirdness, with still less human looking types and not a trace of the technology the society he knew was immersed in. As if to prove the point a nearby horse let off a rip-roaring fart and deposited a full dozen dark offerings onto the cobbles, unheeded by everyone else in the street bar it’s swearing owner.

Barely he managed to restrain himself from making some trite comment about not being in Kansas anymore, and instead took a long moment to try and work out just what the hell he was going to do now.

“Oh my” offered a voice from behind him, “If my husband was built like that then I would have driven him to an even earlier grave”

Turning on his heel Chris looked about to find the speaker, a rather wizened old woman with a very clearly mischievous expression in her face, but a friendly enough one all the same. “Come on sonny” she urged nodding towards a nearby house, “we’ll see if we can’t find you something before you scare the whole street.. or get too many offers” she cackled

Without any other course even vaguely making itself known he did just that, followed her to the small two room place she called home and almost too happily accepted the shirt and breeches she supplied., listening to the rambling running commentary of memories about the old woman’s husband as he finally did something to cover his body.

She was just starting to wind down when he heard someone outside shouting, unbelievably about an Interstate.

“Er I’ll be right back!” he insisted, waving a promising finger at the ceiling, before turning and rushing to see if he was mistaken.

But there was no mistaking the clothes if nothing else, there in the street was definitely another person from Earth.. albeit one who seemed strangely more disturbed than even he at being here.


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The world seemed to slow down for Kayla. She could still hear the bustle of the street to her right, was still aware of the smells that seemed to suffocate her, but it was all distant. She had found the quite place inside herself where she was safe, and if she waited here long enough, Alexander would find her and take her home. Or a policeman, or really just anyone who was normal. By the time she was aware that someone was crouching before her, the tears on her face and dried and her stomach was making in known that it was empty. The crescent shaped cuts on her arms and dried and were starting the scabbing process.

The model ignored whoever it was – she didn’t want to deal with the reality of where she was or the population that inhabited it. But the person didn’t go away – she seemed insistent on bothering Kayla. When she spoke though – calling her princess, it wasn’t the first time anyone had called her that – Kayla finally lifted her head from her arms to look. That accent was decidedly a familiar one. At the sight of the torn jeans, t-shirt, and leather jacket, Kayla flung herself forward to envelope the woman in her arms, not caring if she startled her or not. Tears brimmed in her eyes again and her bottom lip trembled, but she held them back. These were tears of relief, but she had cried enough for one day. She had found someone – okay, they had found her – who obviously didn’t belong here anymore than she did. Maybe she knew what had happened, or how to get back.

Kayla sniffed and held the other woman at arm’s length, looking her over up and down. The silver bell sat in her lap, completely forgotten. The woman was pretty, but would probably look better in a summer dress or swimsuit than the grunge look she was wearing. But, oh how happy Kayla was to see those clothes. As unfashionable as they were, she would wear them herself at the moment.

“I-I’m so glad you’re here. I thought I was alone.” She took a deep breath to steady herself, “Do you know where we are or how we got here?” It had never occurred to her that the woman might not be from Earth, or might be out to harm her in some way. This was the first familiar sign she had seen and it didn’t cross her mind to disbelieve it. In fact, she was going to follow the woman until she got home or the woman forcefully stopped her.

With a smile, she wrapped both her slender hands around the woman’s offered one, pulling herself up. She leaned against the wall, gathering strength that had fled along with her nerves, before she stood up tall and squared her shoulders. She had never been one to cry in a corner and say the world was too hard; though she had never exactly been in this situation before either. Her stomach rumbled, but at the saw time a cow from the street gave a low. In fact, there seemed to be a lot more noise coming from the road, more than there had been less than twenty minutes ago.


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There we go, Leander thought when the girl at last raised her head. She looked substantially worse for wear than the brunette herself did, and for a moment she wondered where the only other person with even traces of the twenty-first century on them had come from. She contemplated the possibility of a barfight, but discarded it almost immediately. This one looked like the type for those swishy, upscale places you saw advertised in magazines, not the kind of place where the guy next to you was as likely to throw a punch as anything else. If this girl had ever been to a real dive bar in her entire life, Leander would give up her left arm (more of a sacrifice since she was left-handed).

Of course, she was largely unprepared for what came next, and was nearly knocked over, being balanced only on the balls of her feet in her crouch and all. When the redhead enclosed her in slender arms, she tried to recall the last time she'd felt quite this awkward, and decided that either she'd repressed some memory from her teenage years, or had indeed never quite had to deal with anything like this. She wasn't exactly the friendly, spontaneous-hug-inducing, teddy-bear sort of person. She thought idly that the last person to hug her had been her older sister, and that was years ago.

Clearing her throat softly, Leander awkwardly patted the young woman on the back. If it were any other situation, she might have- would have- shoved her off and told her to get lost, but this wasn't exactly an ordinary set of circumstances. As it was, she simply waited to get released willingly before assisting the girl to her feet.

“I-I’m so glad you’re here. I thought I was alone.” Leander blinked. Somebody being glad that she was around assuredly constituted a rare experience for the bookstore clerk, and she was unused to hearing anything expressed with quite so much sincerity. Clearly, she and her more emotive companion were from different worlds, though not in the same sense that they now both found themselves in another place altogether. If this really was a Faire of some kind (and her too-rational mind desperately insisted that it must be this, even if the rest of her was beginning to doubt it), it was certainly the strangest one she'd ever heard of, and the fact that at least two people had woken up in the middle of the street without remembering getting here in the first place was a bit more than strange.

“Do you know where we are or how we got here?” Leander shook her head, leaning against the wall a few feet from the other woman. "Wish I did, Princess... all I remember is going to sleep, dreaming something bizarre as hell, and waking up wherever this is." She rolled her eyes at the way she sounded, knowing that if they had not both been in similar situations (as she judged from the nightgown) she would have sounded more than a little crazy. Lee was a lot of things, but she had been trying to hold off crazy for as long as was reasonably possible.

Hearing Princess's stomach rumble, Leander smirked wryly. "Well, as much as I'd like to find out, I think our first choice of action might be finding you something to eat- and wear," she informed her with a raised brow. "No use hangin' around in a dark alley waiting for a solution to find us, eh?" The brunette was lazy on most days, but she was also sharp, and not particularly eager to waste her time on anything but her own terms, which meant that it was damn well time to do something about this. Just... slowly, cautiously. If the looks she'd been getting from some of these people were to be believed, it was probably best to stay inconspicuous. A brief glance sideways was enough to confirm that this would bee impossible if they continued to walk around looking like they did.

"Let's go." Lee pushed herself off the wall, checking over her shoulder to make sure Princess was following her. Realizing something, she frowned. "Name's Leander," she offered with a shrug. She didn't know if it would even matter to the woman, but she seemed like one of those nice types who might like to call her something other than 'hey you.' She navigated the streets carefully, sticking to the edges and blocking view of the other, less-clad woman with her own person whenever possible.

No places to buy ready-to-eat food or clothes immediately presented themselves to her, and Leander was eyeing a fruit stand across the street, contemplating the pros and cons of just stealing. Maybe she could barter something she had on her- though there wasn't much. The clothes on her back and the mirror in her pocket, really; she had the distinct impression that she didn't want to get rid of the mirror. If it was somehow responsible for getting her here, she wanted to keep it in case it could get her back, too.

Over the din of the people and animals moving along the street, she could hear shouting, and she gestured to Princess that she was moving again before heading towards it. It was not long before she came across a man, dressed in a similar manner to herself (at least in terms of... time period), standing atop a haystack, shouting. “I command thee... you there! What is this place and where is the nearest road to interstate 5?” Quickly scanning the crowd that either passed him or gathered to watch, she picked out another person in... well, she supposed those would pass for nightclothes. Nobody else immediately stuck out, which was bad, because there were a lot of people here.

"Oh no you don't," she muttered under her breath. There was no way she was going to let this guy draw unnecessary attention and alert whatever passed for authorities around here. By this time, she noted that all thoughts of this being some kind of costuming act had abandoned her, lost to the alarming consistency and overall... impression she got of it.

Climbing the haystack with grim determination, she lunged for the sleeve of his shirt, speaking in a rapid, waspish whisper. "Do you want everyone to know we don't belong?" she hissed, before turning to the crowd. "I'm sorry good folk, but me brother here's a little touched inna head," she said, attempting to drag the man down to ground level behind her. She imitated the dialect and accent as best she could from the tidbits of conversations she'd picked up thus far, and it seemed to satisfy at least some people.


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#, as written by echored
”Get down fer’um there, you boney pest!” called a old man from down below, his face worn from the years of working in the natural elements. His hair, or what little was left of it, was grey and in a scruffy mess on the back of his head, his temple shiny and bald. It was his hay bail that Flin was standing on, the only thing holding up the right side of his booth ever since it had been vandalized several months back. It was make-shift but it held up fairly well -- of course, with Flin on it there was a potential danger of the stall collapsing, and the old man knew he’d break his back trying to resituate the damn thing if it fell.

Flin made eye-contact with the old scruffy man, a picture out of any medieval fairy-tale if there was one. The clothing in this city was ridiculous, and that was coming from a guy who didn’t consider himself too fashionable to start with. The dream he had, the spiraling black fall of doom, it had to have been imagined, right? Flin had dreams of falling in the past, so it wasn’t particularly new, but then again... none before had ever felt so real. Flin tried to recall the last time he did any drugs-- drugs made sense. It’d been a week or so, with his lack of money he’d managed to stay clean for a few days. Was it possible he found some last night, and taken a train to Renaissance town, wiping out all his memory? Some type of festival? His eyes scanned the area, the view from up top decent enough to see for several stretching miles. The idea that this was some festival was looking less likely seeing as how the sheer size of this land, of similar peasantry style, was too vast, enormous. There was no black pavement, no mile-marker signs... this wasn’t America as he knew it, but some third world community that never modernized.

“Oh hush, old man. Like I was saying,” he cleared his throat, now scanning the fairly large crowd that was forming around the hay stack. The attention sparked his ego a bit, flashing a white smile as if he was the ring master. It reminded him of the crowds he used to drawl in on the beach when he gave his rants on the government and other relative subjects. He attempted to mock their accent as he continued to speak, finding it comical, “Thou... interstate.. big road, cars?” Yet another thing that was missing as he looked around. No sign of modern technology or transportation.. everyone was walking, not that he particularly minded that. He didn’t own a car anyway. Flin was about to continue when he noticed a girl move her way through the crowd, making her way to his haystack. As she began to climb, he protested by using his arms in a shooing motion, “Go find your own haystack, m’lady..” His last word made him chuckle, and it was in these few seconds of letting his guard down that she made he way to the top of the haystack with him, though she looked much less comfortable than he. The old man below shook his fist as his other free hand gripped his forehead, for sure his booth was doomed to fall down, destroying his pressure collection of ceramic tools.

When the woman spoke, her accent was much more familiar, present day, in his time at least. Of course this caught his attention, quieting his ranting as to listen to what she had to say. ”Do you want everyone to know we don’t belong?” she whispered in an unfriendly tone. Flin was put off by it to say the least, what gave her the right to tell him what to do.

She continued in her forward manner, Flin crossing his arms as his eyebrows perked up. “[/i]I’m sorry good folk, but me brother here’s a little touched inna head.[/i]” Oh no she didn’t. He had heard that phrase, well-- worded differently-- many times before... first from his family, then officials, as well as strangers. She was implying that he was crazy... Surely she was right, he had his moments where he didn’t make sense on all standards. But he didn’t feel crazy at the moment, in fact, just the opposite. He was being rational in his mind, trying to figure out where he was and how the hell to get back. And her brother? Who was being crazy here?

She began to tug on his sleeve, motioning for him to come back down to the ground surface. He rolled his eyes, semi-annoyed now that he would lose his crowd, but would give her what she wanted since she in fact could give him more answers than any of the rest staring up at him blankly. She at least knew they didn’t belong here. He made his way down the haystack carefully, and to the joy of the old man, his booth stood in tact. The crowd dispersed quickly, going back to their every day routines as if the whole ordeal never happened. Out of the corner of Flin’s eyes he noticed a man who didn’t move, but continued to stare in his direction. He was dressed in a familiar style of clothes as well, and in all aspects looked like he was in the same situation as Flin and now this woman. Flin directed his motions over towards the man while he continued to walk by the side of this woman. Coughing intentionally, Flin stretched his arms up and then placed them at his sides. “So now, explain. You’re part of some government conspiracy, aren’t you... sis?” he asked, directing his attention towards the woman, a smirk perked on the side of his face. His sunglasses still were intact on the top of his head, reflecting light softly from the heavy sun above. This was turning out to be an exciting day, to say the least.

((he was just in a pair of jeans-- no shirt, but for the sake of keeping your post the same and mine, and since it isn’t a big issue, I’ll go along as say he has a t-shirt on! ^_^ ))


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Getting through the crowd to get to the man in question proved considerably harder than hearing him, the people clearly geared up for some sort of show, and not of the juggling kind. But Chris did manage, albeit with a lot less decorum than he might otherwise have displayed, something he reckoned he could be forgiven for considering the circumstances. He did however take pause at one point when the person he was trying to push past fixed him with the kind of gaze that queried what manner of dirt dared be that close to him.. and simultaneously dropped his hand to the hilt of a sword of some kind at his waist.

Mumbled apologies seemed to do the trick though and Chris was through to get another look at the man on the haystack.

The interstate was one thing, but the jeans were a definite deal-closer, whoever this nutbar on the bail was he wasn’t from around here, and more importantly he might be from around where things made a little more sense. He also rather settled a nagging question as to whether this was in fact all some weird kind of dream, because Chris sure as hell didn’t have any reason to be dreaming about a rough-living American... Monica Bellucci maybe but not a wild eyed Yank talking in the strangest impression of yokel he had ever heard.

An attempt to approach the man however was halted when he found himself on the receiving end of a look none-too dissimilar to that the proclaiming personage was getting, something that was duly explained when a matronly wife turned her daughter’s head away and muttered something about men who don’t adequately do themselves up after visiting the jakes.

Looking down Chris confirmed that he had indeed not done up all the buttons down the legs of his kindly donated breeches and was rather exposing a bit more thing than was normal around here, if somewhat less than he had been doing a few minutes ago.

By the time he finished shamefacedly doing those buttons up another figure had appeared, dressed even more incongruously in still more battered jeans and a rather more serviceable looking leather jacket. Her accent was even stranger than the questioner’s, having some clear Aussie in it along with what he was guessing was some ‘proper’ British. She seemed to be claiming the man for her brother, and getting much worse with her accent.

The beardy man by their knees wasn’t buying it, and nor frankly seemed to her ‘brother’ but more importantly nobody was throwing stuff, and there was no sudden rush of whatever passed for the law about here, even when a kid very plainly did a bump and grab manoeuvre on one of the rapt audience’s dangling belt purses.

The woman tempted the man down off their haystack and the show seemed to be over for the moment, although from the look in the eyes of the man brought down there was absolutely no guarantee that it wouldn’t be resumed soon.

Either which way it seemed to be enough for the crowd who had apparently decided that the crazy-man’s head wasn’t going to explode or anything fun, so were now dispersing with muttered imprecations against sailors and foreigners in general. Chris knew enough about his contemporary dress codes to recognise the first was probably a reference to the wild-eyed man was wearing trousers rather than hose, but was left rather hoping that the attitude to foreigners here was better than most.. or else they were all likely in some trouble for being here without reporting to someone.

Another passer by insisted that the man was an apprentice of some kind, citing that for reason to go head-crazy, and Chris might have easily dismissed that but for the very sincere insistence of their parent that ‘mages are like that’

Only then did he take another look around and feel a fresh press of that sinking feeling, now able to make out some very odd things that surpassed even the weird looks of the peoples around here.. like the Merlin wannabe with the soft pointed hat and actual real glowing stick in hand.

Swearing really didn’t seem like anything strong enough at that point.

“Oh there you are” came a more familiar voice from behind him, and almost relived to have something solid to latch onto Chris turned back to the ever so helpful older woman. “That man a friend of yours?” she asked, warm wrinkled face cracking into another genuine smile.

“No, er that is maybe, or not?” Chris replied, the very model of sophisticated oratory. She just smiled again and dismissed the lack of fine details with a friendly chuckle.

“Just thought you can use some shoes?” she suggested instead, looking down and leading his gaze likewise to his still bared feet and then back up to the shoes in her hand, helpfully stuffed with some woollen looking hose.

“Thank you” Chris insisted, having not missed a certain ‘squelchy’ feeling now between his toes, only then to realise how much of an ass he was being. As far as he knew it old folks weren’t exactly swimming in personal money in an age like this, and even if this wasn’t actually an age like this...

He cut off his thoughts before they went too far down that road, lest he end up on a hay bail himself,

“I don’t have anything to repay you” he said instead, face genuinely crestfallen

“Oh don’t worry about that deary” she insisted back with a negligent wave of her hand, “my husband left me well enough off” she asserted, “and my daughters married well” she added proudly, thrusting the shoes forward again. “Enough that I can help out a crafter in need anyway” she declared, finally stepping once more into areas that made no sense at all.

Right up until she pressed that ornate metal burin into his hand too and urged him to be more careful with it. “And if’n you have trouble setting yerself up here dear” she continued, “you come back and see me and we’ll talk about prices for some more of my man’s stuff” she said, with what looked like a somewhat sly wink.

He was still thanking her as she turned and headed back towards her house, and as Chris spotted another figure here that definitely wasn’t local either, for a start she appeared to be wearing her nightclothes, and for another she was watching the first two with an expression that wouldn’t have been out of place on the face of a castaway seeing a luxury yacht come to shore. The worst thing about that thought was the very obvious tracings of scarlet clotting on her arms, not a lot of blood by any means.. but enough to thoroughly distract him from how pretty she was.

A little further around from her was yet another person, and Chris found himself breathing another honest sigh of relief, because there was a more normal type of person still, albeit likewise in his smalls and not a lot else. Other than that though the man practically radiated the type of personality that Chris had spent half his life knowing, an academic of some sort, and one who was just as confused as he.

Only dimly aware of what an odd figure he had to be cutting with the shoes and such bundled into his arms and bare feet below he set off towards the lot of them, easing his way past the last of the crowd.

He might however have arrived there a little sooner were it not for a still warm something that he had missed in his haste to advance, or rather not missed.

“SH**!” he exclaimed loudly (and accurately) as dark stuff pressed up between his toes and heel slid, “Mother..!” he added, every bit as forcefully.

So he was hopping as he finally approached the others, and dragging his dirtied foot somewhat to attempt to clean it a little on the cobbles. “Hello?” he asked them all in general, “Please tell me you’re from Earth?” he pleaded, “either that or put on a tall red and white stripy hat and finally reveal this is a crazy-as hell dream”


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Kali was of course a lot smaller than the Captain, her small form and weight about a third of his and though she was prepared for him to block her, the force of impact was painful. Her white teeth flashed, being pushed back slightly from the older man, she forced herself to take the full force of the impact rather than letting it run through her. With anyone else as a practice partner, she would have been fine to skitter back a few steps, allowing herself damage and more space to move; but with him she could not. Her grin of anticipation however was unmistakable, she was loving the chance to stretch a little, since her leave she had not been able to find many people to partner her, they didn’t like to attack wounded girls. The Captain was not often free, so she did not often practice, but now she was back from leave, the others would have no choice. Her muscles absorbed most of the reverberating blow, her short sword singing a merry tune at the parry. Her knees rocked back for a second, feet moving ever further apart to keep her balance.

Her eyes went wide as he lunged at her stomach, dark orbs sparkling in the sun; sweat beading on her perfect tan. She could not risk knocking the blade to one side, her master was quick and everyone knew that. Her reflexes were equally quick though and her spine bowed, arching back with a supple grace that none here owned. Muscles contracted as she did so, unhappy at moving so quickly into a hard position. Her arms came around her sides, her sword jabbing unhappily into a gap between cobbles, causing a rough unmusical clatter. This meant her whole back was parallel to the floor, her legs bent to balance out the position. Along her lower abdomen started the touch of the blade, hissing along her chainmail harmlessly, she had moved just quick enough to be unharmed. As it reached high, over her shapeless chest and collar bone, she tossed her hear back the blade terrifyingly close to her face. A few strands of her hair floated off into the air, not fast enough to miss the swords sharp cut.

Her eyelids fluttered closed, sending a short prayer of thanks that she had been so quick, bent as tight as a bow. She however smiled for anyone who much have been looking at her face, not that they were, entranced by her flexibility. Kali raised her foot, giving the man above her a good kick and let him fly over her with all the force he had already used to jab at her. As he soared above her, her face was scraped by his chainmail, draping down from his chest, but this was to fast for even her to move. In mere seconds all this had happened and she was more than glad for both her own and her Captain’s speed, otherwise one of them would most defiantly have been killed, both of them played for keeps. A laugh burst from her lips as she pushed herself up, using her sword as lever and came to her feet, though not standing. She crouched low, her back to the other man, her muscles already a little sore. She tossed to one side her sword, a sign that she really wanted a stretch, taking from her boot her ceramic knife.

She turned around in a pirouette, moving to stand, though somewhat bent at the knee, her upper body tilted over her legs. Her hair whipped around her in a fan of ebony black, a short hunk hanging before her eyes. She did not pause to push it out of her eyes, knowing that her master was better than to let her do so. Blood dripped down her almost beautiful face, it was almost beautiful, she had all the features that separately were very much so, but together, they were eerie and unnatural. It was only a small graze, but deep enough to bleed quite a lot, dripping down off her chin. Her eyes stayed on the man before her, weary of his next attack. She herself paused, waiting for him, she wanted him to attack her with full force, she had no wish to win, only to learn to be better every day. Blood dripped down onto her dark chainmail and then soaked into her blue camisole, her mother would hate to see it like that. She grinned, she could move back here she was sure, that meant she was free to do as she wished again.

(I hope you don’t see this as god-modding I’l change it if you do)

“Do I have a name?” She asked him or was she asking herself, she wasn’t sure really. “I am a MacBookPro number 12876926642805312” She spoke with clarity in her voice, this was something she knew, though she was unsure if this counted as a name. She tilted her head as she watched him walk away with her coin, she had no idea of money, so this did not faze her, nor had she ever owned anything, this too was new. She did however watch how he walked with hungry eyes, trying to do her best to learn how to move, she looked badly put together currently, sure fine craftsmanship, but like her runes had not been completed. She thought on the idea for a name, something that would tell who she was without a long string of numbers. She had truly never thought of a name before, what had her owner called her, her registered name was Macintosh, Megan not feeling to creative that day. She supposed she could take the name of one of the characters in the novel her owner had been writing. Who had she liked best? Percy (for Marlaina could see no difference in truth between male and female, only the clothes they wore, and sometimes not even that) who had been the male lead in “Across the sea” he had been a fine chap, but she had not like him for playing around with whores. Tarnia had been a daughter of one of the sailors and she loved the short accounts around her of letters sent home and how she missed her daddy, but she too was not right, she was to small, her name just to small. Marlaina was a character from her owner’s new book and she was unfinished, the Golem nodded, yes unfinished was good, then she could fill in the other bits.

Her eyes opened hearing the man coming back towards her, once more watching how he moved, how his feet touched the ground, her eyes mapping the ways his bones would move under flesh, a lot more helpful than the bendy squishy flesh. She did not understand humans need for a soft outer casing, it seemed silly to her, they could be so easily harmed, beetles had gotten it right the first time. Still she smiled her latex lips, quite like human flesh putting effort into it, moving the side of her cheeks so she didn’t look to automated, though anyone looking would know she was. She was just a Golem, she may have been the best ever made, but she still had all the things they had. Had one of the craftsmen looked at her, they would have been amazed at how she was built. She was built in materials that though suited the time in look, were not something that could have been created until the time she had come from. Latex was something that was unheard of, the high-pressured ceramic body work, now hidden by her dress, harder than any metal ever created here.

“You caaaaan call me Marlaina.” She told the man as he stopped by her. “Thaat is whaat you should caal me.” She gulped, she really needed to get used to this talking business.

“I mean, you can call me Marlaina, I am sorry I do not speak to well.” She bobbed her head, an unconscious motion “I am not used to being able to talk, to have my own words. I am learning.” She stood slowly, motioning that they should walk, she wanted to get used to walking, moving as well as talking and she was under the understanding humans could do both at the same time. So interesting, the humans were such clever creatures, they had after all created her, but she knew so little about them thinking on it. Any writing she had read, it had been told from a humans point of view and told to humans, she only understood part of it. She looked at trees, her eyes scanning them for electric signals, sure they had them, but it was so weak that she quickly dismissed them. She could hoot up to them later and see what they did in this world. Her eyes seemed to gravitate towards plants, she had never seen them before and her owners descriptions did not do the justice. Of course she had no idea that these in the market place were scraggily and dying, they were utterly beautiful to her.

“Us?” She asked tilting her head to one side “Other humanoids of our time do you mean?” Marlaina asked, taking one step after another, all the time calculating the next step, how to make things smoother, was she getting noticed, doing something odd? On top of this she did statistics, had others come through, if their were two, both knew and had met up. She knew the world was vast, so they must have been placed locally for the two of them to meet, so if their were others, which their was a chance of, they would be in this city. Numbers rant through her head at a speed no one who is human could understand weighing probability and then trying to see how many and the spread of them. She nodded as she walked, not taking much heed of her surroundings, thankfully no one wanted to bump into her hard form. She did not clank anymore, nor were her footsteps heavy. She went back to analyzing the world around her, hair reaching out to touch the things around her, be they people, walls or plants. She seemed particularly drawn to plants and when they were done talking, she would look at them further.

“There is a 23% chance other people have come through and a 64% chance that they are in the same city as us, after the chance of us two meeting, I would say they are pread around a central point in the city.” She paused “But I will not know where the center is till we have found the others if they are here.” Her words were clipped, every inch of a human computer.

“Will you tell me where you came from and how you got here?” She asked, full of questions and wanting the information to store away.


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“I am a MacBookPro number 12876926642805312.” Well, that certainly explained a lot. At first, Nox was confused that a computer could somehow have manifested here at all, but in retrospect it really wasn't that much stranger than him doing the same thing. A computer had a 'mind,' of sorts, and this one at least seemed to be somewhat conscious of the type of person her owner was as well, which probably only helped. She'd wound up in a body of clay that was not her own, even as he'd found himself in a casing of flesh that at once was and was not his. Who knew why; the important part was that they had, and they were now here.

"Marlaina, then" he agreed with a natural smile. Hers, he noted, was improving. It really was extraordinary if it were true, that a machine could find itself here, self-actualized, and learning to mimic a human. Of course, he probably wasn't the best example to follow, still unused to what was for him immense strength. He still moved cautiously, near-noiselessly, as if afraid that any gesture too ostentatious might bring the pain to blossom once more in his libs, ricocheting in painful echoes through his nerve endings until he was reduced to lying on the ground and waiting for it to pass.

Nox stood when she gestured, not really seeing much harm in it. His new body could accommodate so very much; it seemed a waste not to use it. "You're doing fine, by the way. With the talking, I mean. Humans are not always so skilled with it either. Some of us stutter, or can't think of the next word we want, or ramble-" the man cleared his throat. "Like I was doing just now, sorry." He ran a hand through his hair, which really was on the longer side now- he'd have to find a tie or some other way of restraining it, lest it get all over the place. It was perhaps an odd thing to think about when you were in the middle of a completely alien world with a former machine your companion, but unlike someone else might have, Nox felt no apprehension or fear at his situation, nor did he desire in the least to go back. Here, he was whole, he was able to do as he chose, and even if it were nothing but the most fleeting dream, he was going to embrace it, to hold onto it for as long as he could.

She asked what he had meant by 'us,' which when he considered it was a fairly valid question. "I suppose 'humanoids' is one way to put it, yes," he replied with a nod. After all, there was no telling what else might have randomly been zipped into this place. The dry, matter-of-fact statistics teased a chuckle out of Nox, though, and he looked at Marlaina askance. "I'm not going to pretend to know how you figure that, but I'll take your word for it," he said, though her next question gave him pause.

How exactly had he come to be here? It was certainly not something he could explain with any degree of certainty. "That is... a difficult question," he replied, lapsing into thought for a moment. It was not a matter of recalling what had happened, for that was still clear as day to him, and he would have had no issues if it were as simple a matter as showing her what he meant. But it was not, and words had to be formulated to appropriately express the images that flickered so readily through his mind.

"You were right when you said I was a pianist. I lived in an American city, New York," that part at least was easy enough. "My body... I'm not exactly used to being able to walk around, either. My body was... defective." He supposed that was a term that would make sense to a computer, wasn't it? "I had a disease, one I had acquired as a child, that stopped my muscles from working the way they were supposed to. It got worse over time, and by the time I was a teenager, I couldn't walk on my own anymore. The night I..." Nox hesitated. He wasn't exactly sure what had happened here, unlike the rest of it. "I was sure I was going to die, the night before I awoke here. Instead, I found myself in a strange dream where I was running, and eventually I couldn't stop anymore. I ran until I thought it was impossible to keep running, and then I woke up here." He gave a nervous half-smile, rubbing absently at the back of his neck. "I don't really understand it myself, you know, but somehow I wound up here."

"How about you, Marliana?" Nox asked, genuinely curious. He wondered if there might be any similarity to their experiences, or if it were just pure coincidence. Did computers believe in coincidence? Did they believe in anything at all, or just store facts? It was fascinating to think about, really.

Something caught Nox's eye, and he stopped, cocking his head to the side after the manner of a curious feline. "Would you look at that..." There was a small assemblage of people there, and at least a few of them appeared to be dressed in ways that he recognized. One poor lass was in nothing bu a nightgown, blocked somewhat... protectively?... by a woman in jeans and a jacket. Next to the second woman was a man with an odd pair of sunglasses, and he could make out a couple more people who were watching, but without the confusion or derision that seemed to emanate from the locals.

"Perhaps we should go speak to them?" he asked Marlaina, shrugging slightly before crossing the road with the intention of doing just that. Since the woman with the jacket seemed to be busy talking to the man with the sunglasses, he approached the woman in the nightdress. "Excuse me, miss?" he inquired of her, keeping his eyes solidly on her face. Nox was ever the gentleman, and certainly nothing about these new circumstances led him to believe that anything should change in that respect. "You... wouldn't happen to be from Earth, would you? My friend and I are, too, and we were wondering if perchance the rest of you might be like us."

He flicked his eyes expectantly between the group of them, hoping that perhaps at least one of them would have the answers he sought. Though Nox was happy to keep exploring this place for as long as he was allowed, he had to admit to being curious about what had happened to bring him here, and perhaps the rest of them, too, if they did indeed turn out to be in similar situations.


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“So now, explain. You’re part of some government conspiracy, aren’t you... sis?” Oh, for the love of... if this guy was actually nuts, she was going to regret getting him down from there. Or maybe not; she still had her own safety to consider. Leander ran a hand slowly down her face, half-hoping that whatever she saw when she opened her eyes next would not be this absurd situation that she could not explain.

Alas, she had learned long ago that wishing never made it so. The same details swam into vision as her pupils shrunk to accommodate the harsh light of day once more, and she had the absurd thought that this guy in some strange way resembled Keanu Reeves before she blinked and he didn't anymore. It was the sunglasses that had done it. And was his hair... purple? Now there was something you didn't see every day, unless of course you spent every day going to dingy underground raves and hanging out with the kids who liked the hallucinogens. She'd know, no question of that.

"I wish I could tell ya, Shades," she replied dryly, having rejected possible nicknames Violet and Flimflam, the first because she didn't particularly want to end up on his bad side quite yet (anymore than she already was, anyway) and the second because there was actually a chance that it was archaic enough that people around here would understand it and get suspicious. Shades it was. "I dunno much more about it than you, but from the looks we've been getting, we'd better keep quiet about it." Wondering if any of that rather ordinary logic even applied to him, she tried some un-ordinary logic. "'Sides, if this were a conspiracy, we wouldn't want them to know we were onto it, would we?"

That... actually kind of made sense, in a way. Oh, Heaven help me, I'm taking the local conspiracy theorist seriously. That did it. She was in this thing (whatever it was) way too deep, and she needed out. Usually, this was when she left her volunteer job at the shelter and went bloody well home, or at least outside for a cigarette and a few moments' peace and quiet, but neither option was possible at the moment. And she could really use a smoke, too.

"All I know is, I went to sleep last night, woke up here. Found Princess over there-" she gestured to the woman whose name she still did not know, apparently being politely questioned by a blond man wearing pajamas underneath his... cloak? Well, there you go. "And now you lot. Which reminds me, wasn't there another one over there somewhere?" She looked, but her view of where the other obvious outlier would have been was obscured by a man dressed more in the manner of the locals, only quite unwisely without shoes.

"Whatever. Point is, I think we're more likely to find answers together than separately." An alarm bell went off in Leander's head, and a niggling little sound-byte of sarcasm asked her just why she cared so damn much if anyone else figured out what was going on, but she knew how to shut it up. And so she told herself that she said these things for the sole purpose of increasing her own chances of getting the hell out of... wherever this was. Not because she cared about anyone else, certainly not because she felt some kind of weird big-sister instinct for Princess, and absolutely not because she really just needed someone to talk to about the absurdity of all this. Self-interest, right. She could do self-interest really well, if she put her mind to it.

She sighed and shook her head. To use the American turn of phrase, they really were up shit creek without a paddle; all of them. The only question was whether they'd be able to figure out how to deal with that. She refuse to submit to the possibility that there might not be a way back, becasue as shitty as her life was sometimes, it was still her damn life, and one that she had made for herself. Not whatever ridiculous parody of life this was or is or would be, but something that at the very least made sense and abided by fairly logical principles like space-time and relativity and all that good physics crap that she'd been good at but not cared about just like everything else in her life.

"God I need a smoke," she commented to nobody, shaking her head again. This was all getting to be frustrating as hell, especially the part where she was almost sure none of them were in fucking Kansas anymore, so to speak. She went through all her pockets again, just to be absolutely sure (because dammit, she always kept cigarettes in there, and a lighter, but she'd be three ways from Tuesday if there were any there now), and her hand fell upon a smooth, circular object. Withdrawing her hand, Leander glanced at the mirror and sighed. "If I didn't know better, I would say that it was this damn thing that did it. Picked it up just last night, and it's the only thing that came with..."

Now she probably sounded like the crazy one, so she shoved the thing back into the pocket and rolled her eyes. She was aware enough to know that talking had long since become word-vomit, and so she closed her mouth, intent on not speaking again unless she had something useful to say or someone asked her a question. This is no time to be losing your grip on reality, Lee, she chided herself acerbically. Ah, reality. What a concept.


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“I am!” Chris said, the words erupting from his mouth even before he was consciously aware of wanting to say them, or how desperate and relieved they were going to sound. The people talking might not be those he had first approached, indeed he hadn’t up until that point actually noticed them in the thinning crowd, but their clear assertion to be from the same world as he was more than enough to earn the declaration.

Somewhere in his mind there had been a serious worry of it’s own, one he hadn’t even dared to let swell to the forefront where it might bring a crippling despondence of it’s own, that these people with their strange nearly-familiar accents and close-enough clothing might not have been from earth, just another similar place to it. That in fact they would be as alien to the world he knew as the creature that had walked by him earlier with whole eyes the colour of arterial blood and fingers that seemed a joint too long.

Looking at the folks in question though that fear came swinging back all the stronger for its repression, the man-speaker normal enough, and perhaps even a little familiar for some reason, but the woman by his side another matter entirely, something just simply wrong about the way she was walking, even about the way she was watching around them...

And some sort of sound, some form of singing, something that drew his eyes to her in a way that was simply not natural, and immediately began to pick out those other details that simply shouldn’t have been, a smoothness to the skin, a uniformity of her hair colour, a stillness in the face...

And still the song, the opening chords of a symphony that demanded completion. It took long moments to place the feeling, and even then that answer brought no real closure, for the song was part of the abstract he had used to get past his alexia, it was parcelled with the same devices that had taught him to read again once that faculty had been torn away. Something about this not-quite real woman was speaking in the language he had needed to learn when he had lost the visual access to his own.

Then as she turned her head to watch the passing of a wind-borne leaf, he saw it, a letter, a glyph, a purest symbol, an etching that seemed to stab a shard of itself into his heart; “Life” it said, in a way that no simple collection of Romano-european letters ever had; simply and utterly true in a mode that Plato would have wept for when trying to define his philosophies.

Suddenly aware he was staring Chris tore his gaze away, ripped it from that vision and fought down the thunderous charge of his suddenly rushing heart. But the moment it was gone he already knew he needed it again, needed to read it, needed to understand it, to trace it..

To carve it himself.

A sharp spike of pain in his hand brought him back to the present, only to find his bundle discarded to the street and the pommel of the mystery burin fast in one hand, as he had begun to carve the point through the skin of the palm in the other.

Well if he had wanted further proof this was no dream, that blaze of real hurt provided some, and the sharp scent of his own welling blood more. There was no arguing now that this was simply a product of late night cheese-toasties, to feel, to scent, to read so clearly, at the very least this was a full on delusion.

One that might even be worth it if he could just remember that symbol, that rune as they shoved the paddles to his cranium and zapped him back to some sort of awareness...

“My name is Chris” he offered to the lot of them, “I was sleeping in my flat in Bromley” he supplied, “I fell and..” what else could he say, ‘woke up in fairy land without the fairies?’

"This lady helped me with some clothes" he supplied, waving his now clenched together hands past his shirt and breeches, down to the fallen shoes and hose, "but before that I was in my shorts too" he said


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#, as written by echored
As the bystanders and easedroppers dissipated back to their normal pace, the area around where Flin was standing was fairly open now-- open enough to notice that there were some people that stayed in place, and a few others walking towards him and the woman, and her companion. It was easier to feel the chill in the air as seconds slowed. More details to his surroundings were beginning to register in his mind. The way those in this city moved, communicated, dressed... all out of a movie. His heart thumping under his chest was all Flin needed to know that he was alive, not in some psychedelic coma that almost seemed better at the moment. He followed the woman until she decidedly stopped towards the side of the make-shift road they were on, out of any immediate horse traffic. Again, he reached his hand to the top of his head, this time taking the shades off their place as he ran his fingers through his blackish purple hair. He inspected the glasses further, looking in to his reflection off the lenses-- he was in need of a good wash, dirt staining around his neck and a little under his eye. It would be his luck that out of all places he would wake up here in some barn contraption. The sunglasses made their way back to the top of his hair, not in the mood to cover his eyes.

His comment to the woman seemed to frustrate her, and he watched as she rubbed her face in a slow, give-me-a-break kind of motion. He genuinely thought it might have been a conspiracy, but she was acting pretty convincing that at least she had no part in it. He’d give her the reason of doubt, listen to what she had to say. But his idea still sounded plausible, because in reality, how else would they end up here? Where ever here was.

I wish I could tell ya, Shades... I dunno much more about it than you, but from the looks we've been getting, we'd better keep quiet about it. 'Sides, if this were a conspiracy, we wouldn't want them to know we were onto it, would we?"

Shades, it had a ring to it, he had to admit. Sounded badass compared to Flin to say the least. But her logic on keeping quiet was in his opinion just as rational as his logic of straight-forward asking questions. He had to debate with her on this, it was just in his nature. “On the contrary,” he began, pointing his finger upwards in the direction of the sky, a way of saying hold on a second, “Say we just kept quiet about it, and let them think we weren’t on to their plan, then what would happen? Life here would continue to go on, and we’d never get back home. You can’t just pretend things are normal and stay under the radar unless your fixing on stayin’. And besides, if they knew we knew, at least we’d be getting some answers...” His voice trailed off after his last words, now crossing his arms in a smug manner, perking an eyebrow up at the woman countering him to see what her response would be. Flin had to admit he was enjoying the conversation with her, usually no one bothered trying to be a voice of reason to him.

Despite where the debate was going, she moved the direction along, “All I know is, I went to sleep last night, woke up here. Found Princess over there- And now you lot. Which reminds me, wasn't there another one over there somewhere?"

Flin followed her motions and glanced at where the man in the crowd he had seen earlier on top of the haystack was standing, but didn’t find him standing there anymore... most likely lost in the shuffle of people, or maybe even the culprit himself that took all of them here. It was possible, anything was.

"Whatever. Point is, I think we're more likely to find answers together than separately."

This was a good stopping point to cut her off- “I was in fact sleeping too, well before I ended up here. Right on the beach in sunny California. And seeing how you went through the same thing, and you’ve found others, then hell maybe there is a whole bunch of us spread around this place. It still doesn’t make sense,” he concluded, his face now beginning to show signs of question, of relative pondering. Obviously there wasn’t a full town of people here from the present day. So far he had only seen a few, with some approaching as he spoke, which had to mean it was a select group of people. Were they all connected in some way? Were they all here for some crime they committed? Some divine purpose they were supposed to create? It reminded him of the movie Nine Dead by Chris Shadley, where nine strangers had been kidnapped by a masked gunman and told that one of them would die every ten minutes until they could discover how they are all connected. Flin hoped it wasn’t the same in this case, he didn’t care for the sight of mass carnage. Hell, then again, those in the movie were still in present day Earth. Who was to say what year it was here, or if this was even Earth?

What snapped Flin back from his gaze off in the distance was the sound of the woman speaking up again:
"If I didn't know better, I would say that it was this damn thing that did it. Picked it up just last night, and it's the only thing that came with..."

He watched as she pulled out a little round mirror from her pocket, then shoved it back in as if what she was saying was crazy... but it didn’t sound crazy to Flin.

“You might be on to something... I found these shades yesterday and, besides these clothes, the shades were the only other thing that I’ve found on me. It can’t be a coincidence, I don’t believe in coincidences,” Flin muttered, tapping the plastic frame of the black sunglasses with his index finger before drawing his hand back to his sides, shoving them securely in his pockets.

What followed was the arrival of a man holding some shoes in his arms, and another with a cloak around him accompanied by some odd robot type of woman. Things were getting crazier even for Flin’s comfort. He stood quietly for a moment as he tried to measure what might unfold next, and where the conversation was going to lead.

”My name is Chris, I was sleeping in my flat in Bromley, I fell and... woke up in fairy land without the fairies..” the man continued, but Flin couldn’t help but come off peeved. He was relying the same story... falling asleep and waking up here. Flin’s eyes lit up, turning to face the direction of the woman who coined him the name Shades. Stretching his arms out, he placed both hands on either of her shoulders, not stopping to wonder if the contact would be too intrusive or not. He was strung out on his nerves anyway,

“See!” he said in a stresses whisper, gently rocking her shoulders back and forth, but not enough to cause her to falter in her stance, “Conspiracy, I’m telling ya! All of us were drugged in our sleep, injected with some type of knock-out drug... they moved us here during the middle of the night. Why else wouldn’t we remember what happened during the time since we fell asleep?” He nodded his head adamantly, eyes searching for some form of agreement in her eyes. “Forget the mirror, forget my sunglasses! There are some people behind this,” he muttered, finally releasing the woman from his grip. Admittedly he got a little over excited about the whole thing. He calmed down by introducing himself to the formed crowd around them of others who looked semi-modern day. “Name’s Flin,” he stated blunting with a hardened waved to those around.


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With lightning fast reflexes, and an absurd flexibility that the Captain never ceased to be impressed by, Kali bent herself around his weapon in a flash and then drew her leg up with equal speed and grace, landing it squarely in his torso, just below his diaphragm. His own momentum became a tool against him and his own feet left the ground at the same time as the breath left his lungs. Like ammunition from a catapult he rose into the air in an arc and came crashing down to the ground behind the defender, though he was not taken completely by surprise and managed to land his palms on the hard dirt during his descent, easing into a quick roll.

After a full rotation of his curled up form, Captain Kronis planted his hands once more on the floor and used his excessive upper body strength to push himself up and into another midair tumble, this one a half-corkscrew, that ended up with the soles of his boots gripping the surface of the arena once more, eyes locked on his opponent once more, who then appeared to laugh at her neat little trick while throwing away her weapon and spinning around to greet him.

In her hand was a blade Loger knew well. It was a blade that he knew no one else in the city could use better than her, not even himself. Her job involved using it a lot and it matched her in so many ways. Like her the knife was small and swift, yet packed more of a punch than would be expected. Like her it had an edge so deceptively sharp that one may find themselves unaware they had been cut until some time after it happened. And, like her, it was well crafted, practical and beautiful in all the wrong ways.

Despite his shortness of breath, something he would never have allowed to show in the field of battle, he found himself returning her laugh with a low chuckle of his own.

"Kali, you will not quit until I fell you here, will you?" he asked, throwing away his own sword and taking a grip on his ball-and-chain weapon. He knew well what that ceramic blade meant: It meant they were in business now. This was no longer a training exercise, it was a challenge. The stakes were more than a cut to the face. The only other time pure ferocity of this calibre was witnessed in the arena was a grudge match between guards. Though not enemies, the use of each's own signature weapon always took their fights to the next level and was usually followed by a quick trip to the infirmary to patch up a few wounds. Rarely anything serious but just enough to cast suspicions on them from those they passed on the way.

"Have it your way," he continued as the metal slid free of his waistband and started revolving slowly around his fist as the swung the weight with ease. "I haven't had training as good as this since you took leave." And as the steel balls continued to spin in synchrony the Captain allowed himself the rarest lapse in character. He smiled. Then he struck.

With the lethal speed reached in a matter of seconds Captain Kronis knew he needed to be on the attack to ensure he wasn't forced onto a defensive stance. Few were the soldiers who could use a fraction of a second to their advantage but he was up against one now and he knew that she knew his battle style rather well by now. Which meant he could not risk giving an opening when his weapon was not positioned perfectly for the maneuver he planned.

So he swung forward, dropping to a lower position and wheeling his arm around to send the series of solid balls careening with perfect accuracy at the side of Kali's knee while letting loose a grunt of effort.


An odd thing had happened back near the marketplace. The unusual man had been joined by an unusual woman who claimed him to be her mentally inferior brother. Whether this was true or not held no matter for Sebastian, he had seen what he needed to see. He had seen people, strangers maybe but still people, from the same time and place as himself. Or so he believed. He could not be sure but hell, he was desperate.

And so after the commotion atop the haystack had ended and the two from the twenty first century took to the ground. For a few seconds, maybe as much as a couple of minutes, the crowd around him moved, reverberated with anticipation, before the mass of life finally, collectively, decided their latest prophet would not be returning to his stage. The reaction of the people and the lack of any signs of law enforcement led him to the decision that this was a normal occurance around here. Which in turn led to the decision that he was again capable of coherent thought. That was good.

As the crowd began to dissolve into the general flow of people a few outstanding figures could be seen making their way to the man and woman now held with no more regard than himself. They all seemed to have a different air about them, they most definitely didn't belong. They moved in a way that suggested they were trying not to be conspicuous yet had no idea where they were. That's pretty much me right now.

And so he joined them, finally snapping out of his trance-like state and gearing his legs into motion. From each direction wandered people and his teaching sparked up. It's stochastic convergence; each random event has settled and fit into a pattern. Many other theories crossed his mind but none of them could be used to explain how he was here in the first place, or even where here was. Unless we consider the possibilty of of a multiverse, as well as the potential for travel between each parralel existence. Which is preposterous without faster-than-light travel or a device for transcending the boundaries of reality. And so far as I know neither such thing exists...

As his mind struggled to sort things into some kind of logic he carried on walking, becoming increasingly less aware of his surroundings as a debate roared inside his mind. Subsequently he arrived with a frown on his face and bumped straight into the back of the man who had shortly before been enrapturing an audience, finishing his mental sentence aloud with a look of shock.


He blinked and looked around himself, apologising as he did.

"Sorry, I'm sorry, I was thinking about the Anthropic principle and lost track of where I was..." He trailed off, aware of just how true that really was. "...Are you from America?" The question came from nowhere and waited for no introduction. The concept of being in a logically impossible time or place was starting to settle in again and panic started rising through Sebastian's chest, setting his heart pounding once more. He had visited twice but would not be able to place the accent to a region. But that word, 'interstate', had stood out a mile to him. "Because this isn't America, this isn't America at all."

His voice, though bordering on hysterical, was not unpleasant. It was reasonably low without being classed as booming and carried well, the tones were rich with variance and his annunciation betrayed his years of education. He spoke quickly and it did not seem to fit him, it was the fear that caused this, but he was trying to keep himself under control.

In round hands that were clearly not used for manual labour were grasped the gloves he had arrived with, though he had forgotten all about their presence, his fingers seemed unable to unclench themselves.


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“Say we just kept quiet about it, and let them think we weren’t on to their plan, then what would happen? Life here would continue to go on, and we’d never get back home. You can’t just pretend things are normal and stay under the radar unless your fixing on stayin’. And besides, if they knew we knew, at least we’d be getting some answers...” Leander could not believe she was having this discussion. It was all just surreal enough that she might still be dreaming after all. Though she had a response, she kept it for the moment. Other matters were more pressing, and among those was figuring out exactly what was going on. Only when they had that vital little piece of information would discussing what to do with it make any sense at all.

Apparently, she had not been the only one to make her way here via sleep- it looked to be true of both Princess and Shades now, though she woud have to maybe ask the others to see if- ugh. Why do I care? That was perhaps the most troubling thing for Leander- while she liked a puzzle as much as the next former honor student, she wasn't exactly anyone's definition of a humanitarian, or any kind of scientist or whoever the hell it would make the most sense to ask about this kind of thing. Assuming any of those people were even here in the first place... Leander's grip tightened reflexively on the mirror in her pocket. Maybe what she really needed was a bloody shrink.

“You might be on to something... I found these shades yesterday and, besides these clothes, the shades were the only other thing that I’ve found on me. It can’t be a coincidence, I don’t believe in coincidences,” It took her a second to process that he was answering her previous statement and not her thoughts, because really the flow was remarkable for a second there. The corner of her lip twitched. Me either, Shades, she thought sardonically. Coincidence was a shitty excuse, but statistical significance demanded further test cases, to use the dry terminology.

They were then approached by a man calling himself Chris- a brit, from the sound of it, and before she could open her mouth to say anything, Shades grabbed her shoulders and shook her emphatically, which caused Leander to scowl. She was not a big fan of unsolicited contact, and she didn't often solicit it either. Still, she had a feeling this guy didn't really get the whole concept of personal boundaries, and since she'd dragged him off a haystack earlier, she figured fair was fair at the very least. “Conspiracy, I’m telling ya! All of us were drugged in our sleep, injected with some type of knock-out drug... they moved us here during the middle of the night. Why else wouldn’t we remember what happened during the time since we fell asleep?”

"Okay, okay, just hold it for a second, Shades," she replied flatly, reaching up and gingerly removing his hands from her shoulders, placing them back at his side with somewhat-exaggerated care. "Now-" she was cut off when another man, the one she had spotted earlier in his smallclothes, bumped right into Flin.

"Sorry, I'm sorry, I was thinking about the Anthropic principle and lost track of where I was ...Are you from America?" There was an almost comic pause in which nobody said anything, then the man continued right on. "Because this isn't America, this isn't America at all."

"It's not Australia either," she replied matter-of-factly, glancing from one of the British men to the other. "Nor Britain, I think. Okay. How about this: If you're from a planet called earth and pretty sure this is not where you fell asleep last night, gather round." She increased her audibility only enough to be heard by the people in the immediate area, including the blond man speaking to Princess and the strange doll-woman. "Right. So... now... if you came across an object last night and took it home and it showed up here with you... uh, I dunno, nod or raise your hand or something." Right now that was the only commonality she had to work off of, and it seemed as fair a place to start as any.

Inwardly, Leander was praying to whatever the hell deity was out there that someone else would take charge of this bloody situation and leave her out of it. She just wanted to get back home to her life and her job and her cigs and some semblance of normality... didn't she? She tried to ignore the niggling feeling at the back of her mind that told her that this was easily the most interesting thing that was going to happen to her for the rest of her life. She looked around at the faces in the area; Shades, Princess, Blondie, Professor, the doll-girl, and... Chris. She was gonna need to work on nicknames for those last two, definitely.

Leander was a perpetual nicknamer. At first, it had just been another way to assert her lack of respect for anyone, and her complete disregard for societal convention, but she was by now far too lazy to bother with such aggressive motives. Now she just did it because she didn't really like names. They said nothing about a person, while her monikers usually did, even if it was only a bit about what someone might look or act like. Still more useful. Some people were annoyed by them, but she couldn't really care less about that, and by now it was a habit so far ingrained it was a wonder she managed to remember birth names at all.


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“Nothing really happens to me, not before, all I did was do exactly as Megan said.” She paused, had she mentioned Megan before? She was overly fond of her old owner, though she supposed now she didn’t belong to anyone, what an odd though. “Megan was the writer who owned me before, though I guess I no longer belong to her, I’ve never been on my own before.” She spoke slowly, her mind obviously thinking very quickly as she spoke, not about what they were talking about at all, but taking in all the details of the world around her. Passing she saw another Golem, no more than a chunk of malformed clay, far more normal for her kind. Her system reached over and over for wireless, knowing none would come. People looked at her curious, of course she was not to know that Golems did not wear clothes, she was simply trying to mimic the people around her, who most defiantly did. Her hair flicked out around her, touching things as she passed and gaining glares from passers by who caught the soft touch of her hair. She was building a very quick portfolio on everything she was seeing, photos of people, faces and clips of what they were saying, scans of their bodies and how they moved and notations on their clothes. Each of these things went into their own files and then similarities were grouped together, slipping into larger folders and files that were now influencing her. Every person she watched walk or talk made her blend in a little more, her body automatically taking on the steps of a woman from the area, her posture changing, she was after all, no more than a copy.

“I don’t sleep as any of you might, nor can I be drugged as you might be.” She said slowly after listening to the others, here she took in even more information, these people were different to other people, should she be with them, they didn’t fit into this world. “I only am on or off, I can be infected with viruses, but that is as close as it comes to your sleep or drugging.” She did not look at the man who had said that he thought it was a conspiracy, no she looked pointedly at the man who had been staring at her. Inside her complex build wired muscles moved beneath ceramic skin, trying to figure out what he was looking at. The wind blew around them and she looked up, not at a leaf, but actually looking at the wind, her silver grey hair flicking out and touching it, measuring it and storing it away. Her eyes could almost see it, could almost grasp the form of the wind as it moved gently around them, but her it could have been a storm, she had never been able to feel before. Then her lenses almost closing completely, she looked up at the sun, she wondered what the feeling she had when she saw it meant. The back of her tongue, where it became many silver plates clicked against the roof of her mouth, was this what her owner had called beauty?

Her head turned to the people who were talking and wondered if she should talk too, was that what people were talking. Her eyes looked over each person, tracing each outline of their clothing, who they stood with and how they spoke. Her hands ran unconsciously down the front of her dress, pulling the light summer dress, made more for young girls than adults, into array, slipping off her shoulders. She did not know what was ok and what wasn’t, but thankfully, due to the dresses small size, it did not slip off her torso. Her fingers drummed against her side, listening to the chaotic rhythm of the city, her own internal clock clicked ever onwards, at least that wasn’t affected. She watched the jacketed tall woman, not taller than herself of course, she had been made the same as most golems in size, she was taller than almost everyone walking in the street. She was talking about where they were, well this didn’t interest her, Marlaina had never been out of herself before so place had never mattered, what mattered to her was that she now had a body. Had she however found something last night? Her lips curved into a somewhat awkward smiled and her porcelain fingers, supple jointed as they were, ran down just beneath the edge of her dress, feeling the glowing signals.

“I did find something though, it glowed blue in my system, lighting up the code around it.” She paused “I did not erase it, it seemed to be doing me no harm, look its heee…..” She collapsed on the floor, having unwisely pressed her off button while pulling down her frock and inch to show her new intricate runes.


“When have I ever quit Captain?” She put undue weight into the word, letting him know that his rank would not stop her trying her best. Though they were both well trained to make sure they would not permanently hurt each other, they could most likely put the other out for a day, which would be unwise as things were. Her sharp teeth glistened in the light, some would call it a smile, others who knew her better would say that she never smiled, not unless fighting or when with people she trusted and this was far beyond a smile. Had she know the history of her kind, lost as it was now in the past wars, she would have known this was a show of fierce joy as well as power. Her teeth all curved ever so slightly to a point and she had let them stay that way, rather than filing then flat as she had in her younger years, still they were not sharp, just creepy. She watched the lazy fall of the chain, her adrenaline making everything seem ever so slow, as each link glittered in the morning sun. The heavy dark ball at the end made her smile, they each had their weapons of choice out, hers was small, but so was she and that made her no less deadly. Most people who fought with their personal weapons she thought of as stupid, chauvinistic, this was nothing like that.

“You never could get a good stretch without me about, you know the others are all far to scared of you to bring a challenge.” Her high laughter echoed around their circular enclosure and some of the men watching flinched. “I know that if you hurt me I have earned it, just as you will have if you are hurt by me.” Her almost black eyes twinkled, flipping her blade in her hand as he started to swing the heavy weapon. The thing about them being paired for practice as they were in most ways, each others weak points, he was larger, stronger and with more experience than her and she was smaller, sometimes faster and far more devious. Her teeth clicked together in rapid succession, not out of fear, but anticipation, she needed to watch, to wait. She could move in before he struck, but most likely that long chain would rap around her slight form and she would have lost the fight. Though it was true, while he was warming up and getting up to speed he was most vulnerable, but still she did not want to be wrapped in it, she’d far rather take the blow. She bent low, both arms held out to each side of her, one holding the blade, the other empty. A single drop of her blood dripped from her chin and he launched his attack.

She moved back, not a lot, she didn’t have much time, the speed it was launched was far quicker than she could match. So rather than it being a crippling blow, it hit her knee, sending a shudder of pain up her stick thin thighs. She grimaced in pain, but without a pause, her harsh smile was back. She should have been quicker, but she had been enjoying the fight too much and had just not paid enough attention to the deadly ball. Her nose wrinkled in distaste, she hated to add another injury to herself, but in truth this would only make her favor her other leg for maybe an hour, he knew better than to hurt her properly. Her ears almost twitched as she heard a commotion behind her, their were people coming and they meant business, they were not here to watch the fight. She stood strait, shoulders relaxing and dropped all hint of a fight. It was of course her mistake; the flag hadn’t yet to fly signaling the end of the fight and she was knocked off her feet by the Captain’s next move. She deflected most of the blow, but not enough to keep her feet and she fell to the floor with a thud.

“I give, you are far superior Captain.” She spoke through peels of laughter that burst from her small form, how stupid of her to be distracted by such a small thing. She hear feet patter onto the arena and waved away help, rolling to sit and look up at to where one of the lesser men were standing, waiting for permission to talk. She shook her head, he was going to say to much, she could get away with talking to Kronis for longer than needed, but this was because he was her teacher and they had known each other for many many years, not long after she was 17 she thought, maybe younger. He was her father in all ways but blood and they were fond in their friendship or as fond as either of them would get, which wasn’t particularly. She stood, making sure not to favor her other leg, knowing better than to show weakness to an inferior soldier, most watching had fought her and lost, so she had no need to show them, but this pup did not yet know his betters. She grinned, this was going to be fun. She rocked back and forth on her heels for a second, trying to decide how to play it, today she was feeling more than a little after the good news that she had her job back and was not above having a little fun.

“Sir I was told to find the Lieutenant Reshma, but I can not find him.” The man looked terrified, someone had obviously told him to look in the arena and he had assumed upon seeing the Captain, that he was to ask him. He was new, most people here had heard of her, in fact everyone was, she was subject to a lot of gossip, a lot of people had said she was off work for a year not because she was hurt, but because she was pregnant, not that they would say this to her. She lowered her lashes, attempting her best, I’m a girl look, seeming to grow small, her stance showing off what little femininity she owned. She raised her hands to her hair, plaiting it in a coy manor, knowing he could not see the bleeding side of her face. She fluttered her eyelashes at the young soldier, not that he was more than 4 or 5 years younger than her, around 18 she guessed, though she knew that he might be younger or older, he had one of those faces. She herself looked a good sight younger than she was, her body looked to young to be someone of her age, but that was just her breed, not that anyone else knew this. She moved towards him, her hips set swaying as she never did, but she could be smooth when it was asked of her. Her knife by this point was hidden in the back of her trousers. Her chainmail slid appealing across her chest and upper legs, adding movement and seduction to her steps.

“And you though you should come and interrupt the Captain’s and my… Engagement?” She asked, her almost black eyes shadowed by her lashes, that fanned out to brush the top of her cheeks. “Over such a small thing, you should know better.” Her dark hair swirled around her in the gentle breeze, light strands shifting the dirt from its tips. She was almost on him now and he looked both repulsed and interested at her obvious advances. He shook his head as if to clear ideas from it, disgust rising in place of interest, which had surprised her. Even with her act, not many men would do more than glance at her flat form and odd eyes.

“Be quiet wench, I am here on business and have no time for you.” She was sure if he had cared to look he would have seen her insignia, showing her rank, but as she was a woman, he thought her playing dress up as a soldier, maybe playing games to entice the Captain. She almost laughed, but she had been called a whore to many times for the mark not to hit true. Still no one could not say that she didn’t act well, she had snuck into the Captain of many an armies tent and silently slit their throats while they thought they were going to get a goodie, not many women would venture into the center of a battle, even for a pretty penny. She let a blush rise to her cheeks, feeling the gentle heat as it suffused her honey tan. She moved another step forwards, her hands wringing themselves in an false show of fear and apology. The air smelled of lunch being made ready for the mess, absentmindedly she wondered what it would be today, taking another step forward. She looked utterly defenseless and unable to understand the gravity of the situation. She so wanted to turn and smile to the Capitan, but knew it would show the blood on her face and mark her as a warrior for the army, though not her true calling true enough.

“You have no time for little old me? But I could be the thing you are looking for.” She smiled prettily at him with her mouth closed to hide her deadly sharp teeth. She glanced behind him to see the crowd silent, some covering their mouths to stop the laughter.

“You are making me look bad in front of the Capitan wench, I might have come to see you later, but now you will have to go poor, out of my way.” He tried to keep the first bit quiet, but noise carried perfectly in the circular space and all heard and cringed on his behalf. He reached out a hand to pusher aside. Now he was twice her weight and though not as large as her sparing partner, much bigger than her own petite frame. His hand touched her arm only for a moment, if that, the barest touches against her skin before she spun away, her blood spraying in an arch from her still weeping cheek. He blanched but it was too late as she twisted behind him, pulling her arm with her and within seconds had him staring at the floor, chest parallel and arm behind him, twisting slight form across his back and knife to his neck. He supported her entire weight apart from one foot that touched the ground, her form stretched out over him. He could have fallen to the ground in an attempt to free himself, but with her knife their he dared not, plus she would have ripped out his joint had he decided to. She grinned over his ear, her lips close enough to kiss it, but ran her tongue along it in one long movement, tasting his fear.

“You have not right to talk to the Capitan, you are not of befitting rank.” She paused, her hair seeping forward to shield his face from the crowd, it was a kindness on her part. “You should be careful who you disrespect, even a lowly whore can cut you if you are not careful and if you had taken a look around you would have seen what you needed.” She laughed, anger showing sharp on her gentle features “I even told you I was what you were looking for, you should always listen to your betters.” She shook her head, sliding the blade across his neck, though not drawing more than a bead of blood. She slid to the floor and let the man gain his composure. She did not smile as she walked to stand beside the Capitan, her face was her usual cast of indifference, almost cold to look upon. The blood seemed to be slowing now, crusting in an ugly manor across her cheek in thick dribbles, it did not bother her, it would not scar. She nodded to her master, knowing though he would not approve of her methods, that she had to drill it in early or she got subordination like no one would believe. She limped slightly now, though not enough for anyone to think it was troubling her much.

“Lieutenant Reshma, their has been a disturbance in the market, I have been told to inform you that you are to go and see what the trouble is.” The stupid man smirked at her, this one would need a good beating at some point, show him that she was his superior, not even an apology on his lips. “And that you should be more careful who you let of Telan’s store, the guards saw you let that golem go free and now she is in the disturbance.” The insolence in the mans voice made her teeth clench. She waited for a moment, letting out a slow breath, most men were so stupid that they did not know when they were bested. The crowd parted, it seemed unwilling to be drawn into the fray and knew better than to defend the stupid man. Most of them were high of rank and she knew this as these were the ones who had been quick on the uptake that she would be a danger if not on their side. Those who had not been quick but were still of high rank were learning and knew better than to go against her, she was deadly with a blade and in truth the only one who could match her anymore in a fight was the man beside her. She turned her warm eyes on the father like figure, she hadn’t even needed to prove herself to him, the first time they had met he had know. However she had to be careful, she had more than once gotten to comfortable with him and almost called him father rather than Captain.


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"You're from Earth too?" The red-haired woman beamed, and Nox cleared his throat somewhat awkwardly, rubbing sheepishly at the back of his neck. It didn't warrant quite that much relief, did it? Though he supposed the statement answered his question well enough and he dipped his head in acknowledgement. It seemed that other people like them were coming out of the woodwork now, and he listened dutifully, an expression of polite interest on his face as several of them introduced themselves and asked varying versions of the same question that had been occupying his mind: how did I get here?

Of course, a few of them at least had a much more interesting way of putting it than that, like the man who called himself Flin, who seemed to be of the impression that the government had something to do with it. Nox would have kindly pointed out that since so many of them seemed to be from different (though oddly all English-speaking) countries, it wasn't likely that, but he felt somehow that this might be missing some central point. What it was, he could not say with any degree of certainty, but surely there was something. Well, it probably wasn't terribly important.

But there was also an undercurrent of something else, something that scared Nox a bit. some of them were talking lie maybe they wanted to go back, and Nox knew that he at least would not, could not do that. He had been dying, he knew that with a terrifying degree of certainty. And this place, real or not, home or not, was offering him the chance not only to live, but to live as he had never been able to before, with a body that was sound and strong and right, and the idea of giving it up after such a small taste of normal human experience (as "normal" as this could be called, anyway), was absolutely crushing.

He shook himself; that could wait. Solving the mystery of their appearance here in and of itself was not likely to cause its reversal, and he could help with that much, perhaps. He wasn't exactly certain how he would do this, but he was willing to try his best to help. He looked around at the gathered group, wondering where they had all come from, who they were. He had names, or at least a few, but names were not identities, not really. Still, there was little time to consider it, for the dark-haired woman with the leather jacket was talking. When she mentioned strange objects, his spindly fingers immediately flew to his cloak, and he nodded, deciding he could at least contribute to this conversation. "I did the same thing," he offered tentatively. "I took this cloak from a coat rack instead of my own by mistake, and then fell asleep. I had the strangest dream, and when I woke up, I was here, wearing it."

He decided not to go into the specifics of his story, thinking that it would perhaps be strange or unwise to do so. For some reason, though he had felt perfectly comfortable telling Marlaina about his new body, he didn't want to bother these other people with it. Maybe it was because he had thought she would understand how it was, to wake up completely different. The rest of them seemed so comfortable, natural as they were. It was obvious they were not learning how to move new limbs or navigate forms they had never before assumed. Strange, that he should feel he has more in common with a computer than another human being, but he did. "Oh, forgive me. My name is Thaddeus Nox, but I'd prefer Nox if it's all the same to you." He had never been a man with a concept of his own notoriety; it had always surprised him when people recognized his name or face, and he did not even think to consider that someone might possibly recognize it. He was a classical musician, not a rock star, and his name was only as well-known as Yo-Yo Ma, nothing like a Britney Spears or one of those people on American Idol.

At this point, Marlaina had started to speak, but stopped mid-sentence and collapsed upon the ground. "Marlaina?" he asked, an edge of anxiety creeping into his voice. Nox immediately knelt at the golem's side, gently touching the smooth ceramic of her shoulder. Oh, right. She wouldn't be able to feel that. Himself feeling a trifle awkward, he tried to figure out what had happened. She'd just... stopped. Like she'd lost all- oh. Like someone had turned her off. Frowning, Nox tried to find some kind of switch or button that would rectify the situation. Maybe she accidentally hit it herself?

Ah, that might be it. He examined the spot her own hand had been and found what might work. Still feeling distinctly strange, he pressed it, at least somewhat calmed by the fact that it gave, and he backed off, giving her some space if she was indeed rebooting. He wasn't sure how she'd react to waking up in the same strange body with someone leaning over her. "Oh, uh..." he trailed off, looking at the faces above him. "She's... she was a computer. You know... before." He gestured vaguely, to encompass the entire environment.


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Victor Ortiz stood across the street from the alleyway. He mentally drew a path as to what the quickest way up was as he stretched his legs and arms.
onto the dumpster, off the wall, and catch the emergency ladder. run up one flight and jump off of that, catching the roof. He thought to himself. He set himself into the position. One foot in front of the other, one hand on his knee, the other finger-tipping the ground. As soon as an opening came between the cars. He exploded into action. Startling a group of onlookers a couple yards away. He was well known around Brooklyn for his parkour runs, so when people saw him warming up like this, they would often stop and watch, since they knew something was about to happen.

He blazed a trail across the street and in seconds he reached his first mental checkmark. He jumped up catching the dumpster with his hands to propel himself onto it. His feet landed lightly and in one fluid motion jumped off the dumpster up against the wall. He pushed himself up and off the wall and caught onto the wall of the emergency ladder. He flipped over the guardrail and ran up one flight of stairs. From there, he jumped up onto the guardrail. With a precision and balance that only years of practice could have possibly given someone. He thrust up with his arms and legs, using the momentum to launch himself up and catch on to the edge of the building. He could hear applause from the street 3 stories below, But he wasn't done yet. He continued running to a pair of perpendicular walls. He ran straight into one, but at the last second jumped and kicked off the wall, catching onto the ledge of the perpendicular wall. He climbed up and ran up to the edge. He had run this path before, so he knew what was coming. He jumped off the edge of the four story building, and landed on the third story platform of the parking garage next to the building. He land feet first and rolled onto his left shoulder over across to his right hip, and used the momentum of the roll to propel himself back up and forward. Any impact from that bone shattering landing was transferred into his forward momentum. He ran out to the back and jumped off the platform into a tree. He climbed down the branches back to the street. Where incredulous onlookers watched and applauded the acrobatic feat.

He felt good to get the attention, though that was not the reason why he did it. Really it was just for the hell of it, and to get rid of all the days stresses.

He turned due east and again burst into a run. He jumped over a bus stop bench; as in the long way. He continued forward. He could see the entrance to the park.
He didn't usually take this path, in fact he would be turning left right about now, But instead he ran across the street while the light was still green, and was rewarded with the blast of a horn from behind him. But he was already gone. He had no idea why or where he was going. But he began to sprint. Everything was a blur, the mid-autumn wind seeming to egg him on forward. He could he the blood roaring in his ears. He followed the path for about 500 feet. Then the wind stopped blowing... It was weird. The wind would blow and stop sporadically all the time, but he felt there was a meaning to this one. He began to slow down. Down to a jog. Then a fast walk, Then a steady trot. He finally reached a complete stop. He began to wonder what he was doing here. He would often come to this park to use the monkey bars for his exercise routines, but Today was just a free day. Something else that was weird: It was quiet. Brooklyn is never quiet. He looked around to see no one around. The city outside of the park was going on as normal. But the park was empty except for him. He looked up to see the sky was still bright. It was about five o'clock, usually joggers and bikers would be here doing their thing...

A flash of light to his right caught his attention. It was an empty bench. But on them what looked like to metal cylinders were set side by side, perfectly parallel. As if someone had gone through the trouble of setting them there nice and tidy. Curiosity got the best of him. Vic looked around once more. Seeing no one around he took a seat next to the cylinders.

He scanned the area once more to see no one around again. He turned his attention back to the cylinders. He picked one up, and was surprised to feel it had some pretty good weight, about three or four pounds. Another thing that caught his hands was the intricate designs one the cylinders. It was black, veined with silver in the center and trimmed with gold on the edges. He turned it to see a set of 5 buckles. He undid all of them and the cylinder swung open down the middle. He looked at the inside and was surprised to find it was padded with leather. He pushed his finger against it and found it was not cheap pleather, But real breathable leather. Something told him to try to put his arm in it. He put his forearm into the cylinder and was surprised to see it was a perfect fit. He closed the cylinder onto his arm and snapped all the buckles onto it. The cylinder tightened. But not so much as in to cut of the circulation to his hand. It was snug, just tight enough to keep it from rolling around or sliding back and forth banging against his wrist. He snapped the remaining cylinder onto his other arm and stood up. He put his hand out in front of him. They reminded him of the arm weights he would use for speed training at the dojo. He threw a few quick punches. And was pleased to see they added weight to his arms. He turned and banged them onto the bench, risking damaging them, but he was extremely surprised to find that the bench took more damage. Whereas there was a nice dent in the wood on the bench, there was no evidence of impact on the cylinders, not a scratch. And what was even more, he barely felt the impact. Besides the shaking, he barely felt the hard knock he had just delivered...

He did another scan of the area. He knew police often did stings like this to find thieves, but mostly it was for cars and stuff. What was there a serial cylinder thief running around? He shrugged it off. He wasn't a thief, but he literally had to have them. He took them off and stuffed them into his back pack. He walked out of the park. Soon the sounds of the hustle and bustle of the city was loud and clear. He didn't look back to the park. He just kept walking, all the way home.

He inserted the key, turned the knob and pushed in the door to his apartment.
"Abuela, I'm home!" He shouted as he walked inside. He was immediately blasted with the smell of sazon, adobo, sofrito, and cooking spanish food.
"Y para donde carajo te fuistes sin decirme nada a? Aqui yo estoy volviendo me loca porque tu-" He cut the rapid-fire bombardment of spanish
"Calm down I just went for a run I didn't mean to make you worry" He said holding her by the shoulders while she waved the wooden spoon at him.
"Aha, Y porque no me dejastes una nota? aqui yo estoy con cara de pendeja y tu en la calle coriendo y haciendo monerias como siempre!" She finished. She didn't let him respond she just turned back around and walked back to the kitchen.

He always did have the problem of wandering off with out giving anyone any notice as to where he was going or why. It was like an eternal struggle between he and his grandmother, though usually he always went out for the same thing; to run. He walked to his room and slumped down onto the bed. He took the cylinders back out of his backpack and snapped them back on. He layed down, backpack and all, on his bed and held his arms above him, checking how they fit him and looked on him. His eyes began to droop. He hadn't realized how tired he really was. He rested one arm over his eyes, not bothering to remove the cylinders, and drifted off. But as to what he drifted off to, he didn't know. The only thing he did know, It sure as hell wasn't sleep.

He felt like he was being smothered. He tried to speak, yet nothing came out. He tried to shout, again, nothing. He began to panic, He tried to toss and turn, Yet his arms seemed to be held down... held down by what? He was being held down by only his forearms... why his forearms?...

The cylinders.

The revelation coincided with the movement. He felt as if he was being pulled by his arms somewhere at breakneck speed. The air, or lack there of, was hitting his face so fast that he couldn't inhale without suffocating. It was already dark, but he could feel it getting darker as he slowly slipped away from consciousness.


He felt something tugging at his arm again.
"Noo... not again" He mumbled. The tugging stopped. He heard a clack and a whispered "Yes" and his something on his arms loosened.
His eyes snapped open to find a ratty looking man unbuckling the cylinders. Vic jumped to his feet In one motion, startling the thief and sending him sprawling backwards. He snapped the buckle back on and looked at the man.

"What the hell do you think your..." He stopped mid-sentence. He looked around and was shocked not to see the white, postered walls of his room. Instead, he found stone walls on both sides, He was inside of some weird alleyway. He turned around to see the commotion of a city... but it sure as hell wasn't Brooklyn. In place of Cars and loud music blowing up the bass systems, There was horse-drawn carriages and People talking. His curiosity was cut short by the man behind him.

"Oi!" He shouted. His voice was ragged, like if he was a chain smoker. "Them's some nice braces you got ther" He said gesturing at the cylinders.
"Braces?" Asked Vic. He was thinking of the braces for your mouth, and the gesture to the armguards just added to his confusion.
"Wha' are ya, a parrot? The Vambraces! On yer arms! Hand em over" He said. whipping out a knife. spots of brown between the between the blade and the handle made it evident that this knife had been used before.
Vic was still in a daze, and it took him a second to realize he was being mugged. He put his hands to his back to find he still had his back pack there, and removed it from his back. He took the vambraces and stored them in there. then he tossed the pack back on. He raised his hands up.
"Hey listen man i don't want any trouble" He said nervously. He didn't want a fight, but he wasn't giving up the vambraces.
"Take stock of teh situation boy! The only one in trouble is you!" He said, and with that, he lunged. Vic jumped back and took a few steps in reverse with out looking. He dodged the lunge, but he bumped into a man who apparently was having a bad enough day, because as soon as Vic bumped into him, the man lashed out.
"Watch where yer goin' ya damn fool!" He said. Shoving Vic off to the street. He Collided with a horse and fell down, but on the way down he tried to find something to catch on to and grabbed onto something.

That something was a guard's foot.

"Oi!! What are yeh tryna do? pull me off me horse? A day in Jail'll Teach yeh" He said angrily and reached down for Vic's arm. Vic was still not at his senses completely yet, so he didn't have the sense to just let go of the guards foot and make a quick escape. so The man grabbed hold of his arm and jumped off the horse. He pulled off a piece of rope and tied his hands together.

"It was an accident man! I fell, I don't even know where I am!" Said Vic as he tried to reason with the armored guard. He was thrown onto the horse, and it was made obvious by his awkward position that they did not care for his comfort.

After a rough thirty minute ride He was hauled off the horse and brought to the jail house.

"I'm feeling nice today, I just found out I'm getting a raise, so I'll let yeh out in the evening, so count yer blessings..." He said. Vic was smart enough to stay shut...

What the hell have I gotten myself into?

((Hope this was alright ARC))


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The Captain had expected a perfect dodge from his opponent and had planned his next strike to take her by surprise. As it turned out her attention was drawn away by a scuffle of boots from behind her and his three-pronged weapon was sent directly towards the side of her knee, a shattering blow to be sure. With a grimace at the effort, Kronis pulled back the steel and landed only a glancing blow on the joint, something he hoped would not cause any damage. Leaning back to counteract the momentum he bought the spinning metal around and let it loose behind his head where it took off in a flurry of spinning chains, covering the distance between himself and the wall in a matter of seconds. There it connected with three consecutive thuds that each arose a cloud of dust and a tiny shower of rubble.

He was angry, no, furious at being interrupted during training. Every soldier knew how dangerous it was for themselves, let alone this pair. A split second later and Kali may have left on a stretcher. A second or two later and he himself may have been caught in the midst of a counterattack and been sent to the morgue. He opened his mouth to vent his rage but was beaten to the task.

“And you though you should come and interrupt the Captain’s and my… Engagement?” came Kali's reply to the soldier, who had made the unfortunate mistake of confusing Lieutenant Reshma for a male officer. Well, perhaps a good verbal chastising from the pair of them would do the trick, so he let her go first, something he would soon come to regret.

As the unique woman put what feminie charms she had to use the Captain grew more uneasy. He could not tell exactly what was going to happen but he had a sneaking suspicion. And he just hoped that she wouldn't follow through with it. It was not his day. He watched in silent horror as the Lieutenant set about taunting the private like an animal in a cage until he had no choice but to follow his instincts and tell her to back off in a way that he thought she'd understand. And there was nothing he could do to stop it.

As soon as the slightest contact was made Kali had spun the man around and before he could so much as yell out in surprise he had a knife held to his throat and was perched precariously on the edge of his balance, or so he thought. Kali may have been angry but she was not stupid and had no intention of letting him fall and end up with a case of murder on her hands. The jury would see it as nothing but killing in cold blood and have her hanged.

She finally released him and the Captain's keen eyes noticed immediately the tiny bead of blood gathering about where her knifepoint had been. That alone would be cause enough for a tribunal, something he really didn't need in the current siutuation. As well as his regular duties there was an uprising to deal with in the West, some disturbance in the market that warranted a Lieutenant to sort it, the disappearance of the vagrants of the city and rumours of hooded figures practicing dark magic. To top it off with someone under his direct command being accused of insubordination could potentially drive him over the edge. It had already been weeks since he'd had a full night of sleep.

But it was already done and he had to simply wait until the men had disappeared and left the two of them alone again, stone-faced and impassive as ever as he stood watch. As soon as they had rounded the corner he gave a flick of his head to signal the flagsman away and waited then until he spoke, a flicker in his eye that was too much to control.

"If you so much as try to interrupt me in the next two minutes I'll have you busted down to shining swords for the rest of your career, understand? Good." No chance to reply, he simply continued talking.

"What you just did there was unacceptable. You deliberately provoked a response from a soldier you knew full well knew nothing of your rank and took an aggressive response against action that you caused." He was talking quietly and calmly but took deep breaths between each sentence to steady himself.

"For all you know Kali, that soldier could have come straight here with direct orders from the general. If he were to go back and report that to him then I can safely assume that he would pretty FUCKING ANNOYED!" Here he lost control and let fly with the full power of his commander's voice, bellowing out a scolding at the same volume he would bellow orders in war.

"Do you have any idea what kind of shit I'd have to go through if he decided to take action and I defended you? The only thing standing between him and you is me! I know you're irritated by prejudice but you're a soldier, dammit, suck up your pride once in a while and try not to bite the hand that feeds!" At this point he lashed out with a straight leg kick at one of the thick, wooden posts which marked the corner of the arena, landing the sole of his boot against it and splitting the wood visciously down the centre.

He took another deep breath and barely managed to regain his composure before starting again.

"You have too much potential to waste on idiots like him. If you want to jeopardise your career then fine, go right ahead. You tell me now so I can stop covering up for this kind of crap. But if you don't then, learn some restraint. You could be Captain one day and you know it as well as I do. Hell, you might one day make it to general. Until then though, you're a Lieutenant, start acting like one and show some resolve. You can start by taking that messenger boy with you on your little errand." It was the first time he'd ever broken out of character and let loose with emotion outside of battle since taking his place as Captain, as well as the first time he'd spoken aloud of his belief for Kali's future.

"Now get out of my sight and don't forget to apologise." He finished with a simple enough request and felt bitterly sick with himself. He'd just pummeled her into the ground for standing up for herself against all odds. Though he was convinced it was for the best, for both of them, and he felt more like a Father than he ever had before. He didn't like it.


Sebastian found himself calmer than he had been before. The adrenaline that had kicked upon realising he was in an unfamiliar place was wearing off and he was around people who were... Well, strangers. But not quite to the degree of the inhabitants of this strange place. All except one. An approaching woman who towered above them all and seemed to be made of some pottery and a lot of wires took his focus for a while, She was almost comical in a summer dress that was clearly too small for her and she somehow resembled what he imagined a robot trying to fit in would look like back in London. It was amusing but not enough to cause him to laugh. He didn't know what this machine was capable of but he wouldn't put it past any artificial intelligence to rip him limb from linb, he'd seen the films.

"Right. So... now... if you came across an object last night and took it home and it showed up here with you... uh, I dunno, nod or raise your hand or something."

It was the woman who'd dragged The Prophet, as Sebastian had come to think of him, down from his hay-stage. And what she said managed to draw his attention away from the absurd ceramic woman to his right, if only for a moment. He held up his hand, the old leather gloves still dangling from it and reflecting tiny rays of sun from each bead. Why hadn't it done that before? he wondered. Then he glanced down and saw only shadows cast from the high walls. Christ, it must be getting close to dusk... How long have we been out here?

As though they were destined to have no peace another incident kicked a few people back a little as robo-mannequinne fell to the floor. It was almost too much for the teacher, a man who lived his life by logic and theories based on evidence. None of this made sense, not a single moment since his arrival.

"She's... she was a computer. You know... before."

Oh, there it was. The breaking point, he was sure of it. He couldn't quite comprehend how he'd held on for this long already. His only option, he thought, was to accept he was now insane and treat this as reality.

"Oh, I see" he replied, trying his best to act casual about the statement. "Guess she's, err, moving up in the world..." It didn't feel natural to be talking this way but there was nothing more for it. Either this or lose control. He knew which he preferred, but it was like asking a man to choose exactly how he wished to be tortured.


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#, as written by echored
A faint push from behind caused Flin to turn his head around, seeing a man which he believed was there a few minutes earlier in the crowd. Meanwhile he could feel the woman in the leather jacket place his arms back at his sides after he had grabbed her shoulders for a brief few seconds. Flin coughed as if clearing his throat purposefully, listening while the stranger apologized several times before asking if he was from America.

“Born and raised,” he said smugly, though he didn’t particularly have any patriotism. Part of him wondered why the man assumed he was from America. Was it the accent? He didn’t think he had one in the slightest. The way he was dressed? - pair of jeans and a sleeved white t-shirt- was so general that anyone in the world could own the same outfit. Certainly it wasn’t how he was acting...

His ‘sister’ began to speak up again, acting like she was the group leader in directing those to raise their hands and such. His nose crinkled, she stole his spot light and he didn’t appreciate it. And yet he followed along, situating himself in the oval shape circle that the group had made, each unique in their own way - especially the robot looking woman. He hadn’t seen technology so advanced even in his present day, and it was even stranger in a setting like this where not even a battery probably existed yet. The fact that this robot seemed to have a brain or some form of conscious was even more surprising, and Flin willingly lent to the continued silence as he listened to the robot interject in the conversation.

”I don’t sleep as any of you might, not can I be drugged as you might be.”

Well, there goes the drug theory. And he thought he was on to something. The woman/machine’s hair moved as if it was alive on its own, stretching out like snakes in various directions, briskly touching what was around her. When Flin noticed his jaw slightly dropped by the fascination, he quickly shook off the expression and stood up straighter. The man at her side who seemed to be taking care of the robot was the first to speak up on Leander’s question. He mentioned how he found a cloak and all that good stuff. It was obvious they all arrived with an item, he could have said that after figuring out that the Australian came with an object, too. The drawn out conversation was honestly getting them no where... not that there was anywhere necessary to go to.

“Nox?” Flin perked up as the man introduced himself, as if the name had a familiar ring to it. The seconds that followed led to nothing though and he couldn’t put a clear thought on the name or where he might have heard it before. So instead he brushed it off, and was about to introduce himself again when the robot collapsed on the ground. It seemed that it lost its fuel or turned off in some way, equally intriguing but yet worrisome because he was already beginning to think this robot was badass. “What just happened?” he said impulsively, curiosity always getting the best of him. He could feel himself inch a little forward, further into the circle as to get a better look.

”She’s.. she was a computer. You know, before,” answered Nox.

Flin’s eyes widened, almost comically, as an occasional blink backed up his disbelief. He believed in a lot of things but what exactly did this man mean she was a computer? Like a box set that somehow turned into a human form? That didn’t even make the slightest sense, nor did it explain why she/it would end up here. Flin’s right hand covered his eyes in a frustrated manner, the confusion he was wrestling with on the verge of turning to anger or at least a slightly more impatient mood. This situation was getting a little too crazy, even for him.

“Alright, alright, already. So we know that none of us are from here... Apparently this place is called Jarvaise by the way... And we know we came with random objects. But other than that, we are basically at ground zero when it comes to any of us having a damn clue how we got where we are. So what we need to do is find some form of local leadership around here so we can explain ourselves.”

Flin crossed his arms, his voice raising as he continued to speak. He liked the crowd, the attention. Part of him debated hopping back up on the haystack again just to continue asking the important questions... like how to get back to the future, if indeed this was the past. The peasantry look of the locals seemed to be medieval after all.

“Watch this,” Flin said, his voice stretching out the last word to make it sound more important. He situated himself before bursting through the small circle and back into the hustle and bustle of the street. His eyes combed briefly for someone who looked decently gentle-natured and vulnerable to his ‘strike’-- not physically but verbally startling to say the least. A young man who didn’t seem older than him passed by and Flin eagerly wrapped his arm around the mans shoulders and drew him back to the main group. The young man seemed flustered and mumbled casually as he tried to walk in an opposite direction but Flin continued to hold on to the fellow. With a solid pat on the back, Flin turned to the boy and flashed a smile. “You look intelligent enough. These here folks, including my lovely self, seem to have found ourselves in a predicament...” Flin looked over at Leander and winked at her as if he seemed to know what he was doing, like he could solve their issues. “You see, we’re from the future and seem to have found ourselves here in this... place,” he paused, wanting to say dingy, but opted out of insulting where this guy might be from, “Know anyone who might help us find our way back?”

With that, Flin let his grip go around the young man as he scanned the crowd of them. The boy honestly hadn’t the slightest clue what Flin was talking about, seeing as how all rationality would say there is no such thing as time travel. Either way, the guy cleared his throat nervously as he clearly was put on the spot. “You could go to the Jarvaise Castle....” he tensed, as if that was the only option but at the same time his tone was ominous and reluctant. As he concluded his sentence, he bowed his head in a farewell and scampered off from the odd group of newcomers who obviously had mental issues. He would at once report this to a guard if he happened to pass one.

Flin turned back to the group, nodding as if pleased with the information he got, even though it wasn’t much. “So, castle... this really is some weird fantasy shit. Watch a wizards pop up next,” he said jokingly, not having an honest clue that they were only a few meters away from a mage shop.


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Well, they seemed to be getting somewhere now, anyway. It was rapidly becoming obvious that everyone had gotten here after falling asleep (except the ceramic girl, for whom "sleep mode" was probably the more appropriate term), and they had brought some object with them that they had only just encountered, like her mirror thing. Gloves, a cloak, a pair of sunglasses... this stuff was completely random, and most of it bordered on junk, assuming those gem things in the Professor's gloves weren't actually worth a fortune.

Leander wasn't educated beyond college in Britain, but she was still pretty solid on such principles as fundamental logic, and so she determined that these things had to be somehow connected. Just as she was trying to figure out what this might mean, the doll-girl (Lee was tempted to call her Barbie, but really didn't want to) collapsed, and Blondie explained that she had been some form of computer. That made just about as much sense as anything she'd heard thus far, and while Professor seemed a bit put-off by this announcement and Shades donned the classic cartoon-shock face, she went with it. Guy seemed to know what he was talking about, so fine.

"Guess she's, err, moving up in the world..." Leander snorted, and it almost turned into a laugh. Not quite, but almost. "Oh yeah, Professor, nothin' quite like wakin' up at an overwrought Renaissance Faire for social mobility," she rejoined with something approaching amusement.

“Alright, alright, already. So we know that none of us are from here... Apparently this place is called Jarvaise by the way... And we know we came with random objects. But other than that, we are basically at ground zero when it comes to any of us having a damn clue how we got where we are. So what we need to do is find some form of local leadership around here so we can explain ourselves.” Leander opened her mouth to say something- there was no way this was going to end well, seeing as how she had initially pulled this guy off a freaking haystack, in the middle of a rant about the nearest highway.

She didn't get the chance, though, and soon enough Shades had grabbed a random passerby from the street and pulled him into the circular conference. The man looked distinctly uncomfortable, not that she could blame him. He probably had no idea what his interrogator was going on about at all. The wink in her direction was the icing on the bloody cake as far as she could tell, and Leander crossed her arms and rolled her eyes in response. Okay, so Shades was amusing, and any other time, she probably would have laughed, but this was hardly the time for such antics, not when they could all land in some kind of disgusting dungeon for all she knew.

“You could go to the Jarvaise Castle....” Leander sighed. Yes, that giant looming building in the distance did kind of scream "local authorities," but that seemed like it wasn't the smartest idea in the world. They still had no idea what the government was like around here. It could be some totalitarian dictator who liked to execute the insane for all they knew, and people claiming to be from the future and traveled to Jarvaise overnight (half of them in a less-than-complete state of dress no less) would certainly come off as having a few screws loose.

“So, castle... this really is some weird fantasy shit. Watch a wizard pop up next,” Shades commented, and Leander raised an eyebrow. "Didn't you know, Shades? I'm obviously a witch." She waggled her fingers back and forth, but lazily enough that it was obviously a dry joke. "Seriously, though. Aren't we missing the big picture here? If we just walk up to the nearest authority figure and spill our guts, what are the chances we're taken seriously versus thrown in some kinda loony bin? If the reactions we've been getting thus far are anything to go by, nobody here's gonan have a clue what's up, either, and someone might just decide we're hostile."

Still, she could understand the need to do something. Maybe we just try and find some decent place to sleep tonight. If we're lucky, we get back home the same way we got here, savvy? Otherwise, we can figure it out later, preferably without getting arrested."


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Marlaina’s lights blinked, flickering rapidly as her mind booted up, her body utterly motionless. A fan that was mounted atop her temple, to the side of her silver grey fringe; whirred noisily, making her vibrate ever so slightly. Her mind woke quickly and as per usual she ran through the usual procedures, wireless connection, load memory, images of people flickered through her mind and of course she failed to find connection. Ahh, so she was still here and soon enough electricity was running down the thick coiled wires, sensations were returning, her surface clicked into place, connecting so she could feel. She opened her glowing lenses slowly, unsure how to feel about still being there. Her memory clicked into place, here were the people from her world, some looked down at her, but for the most part they were talking among themselves. She nodded to Nox, who could have been the only one to have known what happened to her, she was thankful that he had pressed her on button. Now she knew more of life, she did not like the darkness of being off, it was not restful, it was nothing, not even darkness. She blinked slowly, her hair moving around her to support her and raise her up gradually. She wondered how they new what to do, they seemed to work almost without her thinking.

Suddenly she became aware of someone’s hands on her, slipping low as to touch her off button. She froze, a rush of emotion coming, she had never felt emotion before, so anything she felt of course was strong, so her eyes were filled with it. They did not change in color or hue, they could not, nor did they swirl more than her lenses focusing on his face, a subtle spin of magnification, but anger could be seen. She stopped, utterly motionless; more still than she had been when off, like her life had been fossilised in a single moment. Alarms went off in her as he spoke, he knew the words, she did not know how she herself knew them, but knew to feel fear. If he knew he could destroy her, no one was supposed to know their runes, if he so much as put a line a scratch through her words, changing as they were, she would never wake again. She did not shudder, she did not know how, but she knew it was unpleasant to leave this world now. She wondered had happened while she had been out, it had only been a few short minuets, but to her it could have been eternity, she could sleep forever without losing a thing. The ground beneath her fingertips felt mildly gritty over the hard cobblestones, they were

Still he did not know all her runes, the two words on her chest had already started to warp into a new word and would continue to till they were done. She would be one of the few three rune creatures, one in her throat, one on her tongue and the final in her chest. She did not move till he had stopped touching her, then the blur of movement she became, scratching of her ceramics on the cobbled street. She rushed behind the nearest human being, a man who had called himself Flin, she blinked out with owlish eyes, both afraid and angered at the man from behind his legs. She held onto his leg with one firm cold porcelain hand, in the back of her mind she knew he had just bought a local in, while she had frozen, she had heard everything. The boys feet as he ran to the nearest guard, warning them of the strange people and how they were annoying the people in the market. Still she did not care, she hid behind him and felt the anger course through her body, now she had someone to be protected by, her fear quickly fell to the side. Her teeth gnashed mechanically, hair swirling around her, reaching up to touch everything around her, unfortunately this left Flin in the center of wires that curled up touching everything.

Thank you for turning me on Nox.” Her voice tilted to and fro, trying to get used to words again. “I am grateful for your help.” She did not lift her eyes from her point of anger, eyes tracing over his features, he had seemed harmless before and now he did not at all.

Do not come near me.” She spoke the words, her vocal cords whining as they tried to process her anger. “Do not touch me.” Her voice did not sound right, the clicks, high whining and low vibrations made her words almost to hard to hear. No one could mistake that she was feeling something, though some might be confused as to what she was feeling, anger was all to obvious from her facial expression, as hard as it was to move her ceramic parts. Her tongue clicked against the roof of her mouth, the metallic sound echoing around the small group and beyond. She feared as any Golem feared, that someone would scratch out their runes, it was all that kept them alive and many had been known to go quite mad over it. A small scratch, to small to destroy the rune would render her insane, a large one would end her life. While it was true she could be re-inscribed by a craftsman, no one would know if all of her would come back and as it was here she would be taken apart to see how she worked, she did not like it. Her fingers clenched and unclenched around Flin’s leg, not too hard any more, but obviously angry and afraid. She wondered how long until the guards came to get them, how long before she was once more in another persons hands. She discovered that she didn’t like being touched without invitation, she hadn’t every thought of it before.


She listened to him speak with her face utterly devoid of emotion, she was used to being told off, though not at work she would admit, her mother often scolded her for chasing off possible husbands. This was nothing like that, the Capitan was very angry with her and she to felt her own anger raise to match it, though she remained quiet as he had asked. She had no fear of position, demotion or promotion was all the same to her and they both knew the army needed her. At the moment at least with the higher-ranking officers she was regarded with respect, if she was demoted she would be treated as no more than a dog. Still this did not frighten her, she was not here for position, she was here to do a job and if she was fired here, she had no problem going out and finding another army that would take her. Being bullied, told she was ugly, that she was useless and that she was worth nothing more than a dog, had gone on most of her early life and well into her first four years of the army. She had no loyalty to those who did not deserve it and one of the few who did was the man before her. She tilted her head to one side, her eyes sliding off the Capitan; dusk was almost here, soon it would be her time to shine. She could feel her tan seeping to a paper white and a smile, small and almost unseen lit her lips.

“The general would not have sent a half wit, he is one of the dumbest recruits we have had since well before I joined.” Her face was still void of feeling; the boy had probably been given by a high-ranking family with too many children and knew the value of the armies service. If the boy rose to a good rank and gained reputation they would have gained something, if he died in battle they would have lost nothing. “They wont let him within 30 yards of the General, for fear of his snobby attitude and that his clumsiness would end with him drawing his sword, due to some small slight he deserved, tripping and stabbing the General through the foot. Stupid upper class snob, he does not belong here and that is why he was sent to find me.” She looked up at him knowingly. Any team leader who had been stuck with this creature would not have sent him unknowing of her unless they meant too, most likely because they were having issues with him themselves. She cringed inwardly and hoped it wasn’t her friend Peter, he was a good soldier and had gone up the ranks quickly due to both his sharp mind and fighting skills. She sighed he was however a soft touch with new recruits and didn’t seem to have the heart to bully the upper class back, their families could not hurt them here. No one who was leading the new recruits sent them to her unless it was to find out just what they should fear. She shook her head, this young soldier had been sent to her not knowing who she was and unwilling to see. If he had had two thoughts in his head, he would have seen that they had been sparing and taken notice of the rank she was against.

“And no, your wrong, then only thing between the little soldier (a largely offensive term) is the whole army, I doubt any of the people watching would say a word to otherwise that I had hurt him, it would only be you that would stand on his side if you chose.” Her skin once purest white was now turning to ash in color as dusk began to fall. “Think about this Capitan, if I rise to General, do you want everyone to disobey me because I am a woman, or am I right in the knowledge that I have always had to beat my way to the top, even with your help. I’d rather an army that obeyed, than a rabble that was fair. It’s not fair here” Her last words came out hushed, almost to silent to be heard by anyone but herself. She hated the lack of respect the younger soldiers gave her and from day one, even before she had become a soldier, she had always had to fight the chauvinism of a male dominated society. She longed to go see the old Smith, her first teacher here, he had started teaching her at the age of 12, less than a year after she had first come here. He had always been full of wise words, but she could not be seen as running to hide behind the bigger man. She blinked at the Capitan for a few moments, trying to see why she had annoyed him so much, he knew she had to and always had done this, just not before him.

She turned from him, not saying another word, he could come and grab her if he wish, chastise her for talking back to a superior and leaving without being dismissed, but she didn’t care. How dare he disrespect her, he knew she did what she had to. Her walk was less smooth and graceful than it had been before, he had hurt her knee, but not enough for her to let it be seen too much. She reached down, her back to him, placing her small blade back in her boot sheath and picking up her sword and scabbard, scattered across the arena floor. She wanted to turn back, to apologies, she did love the man like a father, but he was her Capitan and she needed him to understand. She felt a sadness over come her, sending one of the waiting messengers to get the young soldier and send him to the stables, along with his superior. She would go visit her old friend, she needed some new amour and to have her blades sharpened. This would only take 15 minutes then she would saddle up, she was a Lieutenant and she would act like one. As she stepped into the archway of the arenas entrance she raised a pale grey hand to say goodbye and never did she look back.

“Kali, my dear, go change, its all up and ready for you.” The old Smith said before she had even opened the door, he had know she was coming today and everyone else knocked. A wave of metallic heat consumed her, making her ashen face flush a dull grey. She nodded taking off her two blades and handing them to him before she ducked behind the changing curtain, something that had been put in just for her. She stripped off, silently revealing her dove grey skin, you could tell the time by her skin. She slipped on new pantaloons, woven of a fine silk and cotton and smiled again for the first time since her chastisement. The Smith would have ordered these in just for her, the were both beautiful in an almost impenetrable black and light to stop the heat. They of course fit perfectly, she had not changed in size since she was 16, they knew her size, Atop that went a slender fitted camisole of dark blue like her eyes, it was feminine and unlike anything she usually wore, so light she could barely feel it on her skin and she loved it. She shook her head laughing, everyone wanted her to find a man and she never would, she had no need or want of them, still she was happy to see yet another father figure who cared for her.

“The amour is made of leather and ceramic plates, light as a feather, strong as nails. Of course you can still get killed, but it should give you more stealth and flexibility due to the leather, giving you a better chance.” He told her over the hiss of metal on the sharpening wheel. She slipped it on over her top half, the thing covered her to just below her hips and up to her shoulders. Once more her brittle laugh was heard through headquarters, he had added a few too many ceramic sheets over her bust, trying to give her breasts. She shook her head blushing, would they not give up, he was almost as bad as her mother.

Trebourgh, you tried to give me breasts, you silly old man.” She shook her head ever more.

“One of the lads popped in while you were laughing, before you head off with the new idiot, your to go down to the holding sells, a man was bought in and he is odd so they thought of you.” His old face quirked into his own smile, matching her. She nodded, taking back her blades and headed off with a wave of thanks, the old man had always been able to cheer her up. She stepped down from the heated room and headed down one of the many halls, towards the holding rooms. She wondered if the Capitan would come to see her off in the stables, after she had dealt with this, sometimes he did when they fought and wanted to pass on a few last words of wisdom. She liked her father like men, she had three and they were the men she was closest too, then of course Peter, who due to lack of suitable choice, was the man she was most likely to marry. She was sad to have angered one of them, but held true in that what she was had done was right. Her new clothes made no noise as she pattered down almost silently to the holding sell. Her eyes were made for the dark and adjusted quickly to the single lamp lit hall and she picked up a bowl. She opened a pot that had been left cooling to feed the prisoners, they did not have many and they got fed sporadically. She poured some of the rich broth into a bowl and headed to the sell.

“Hey there, I hear you caused some trouble for someone.” She said hoping that her now slate grey skin did not freak him out. “Want to tell me what happened while you eat?” She asked Victor Ortiz, for that was the name she had been given, what an odd name. She crouched down holding the bowl of food through the bars, careful not to let the rest of her come into the area of contact.


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((Thanks for getting me back into this for a bit MercyKilling :D))
Vic was pacing back in the Holding cell. He could hear the life from outside through a barred window a few feet above him.
Nice going Vic... not even 5 minutes here and you go get yourself thrown into Jail... Idiota! He thought. He was not made to be kept in small enclosed spaces for long periods of time. Usually he would sleep, but he just woke up! He would occasionally walk up to the door and look around, but he did not rattle it. He was desperate to get out, but he wasn't stupid. Any misbehavior would probably land him some more time in the cell.
He tried to figure out his current situation. He had just gotten back from the park, and arrived at his apartment. Okay, that was normal. He went to his room and fell asleep. Hey, why not, he had just come back from 3 hours at the dojo and a run back home, Totally normal. Then everything stopped making sense. He had a weird dream, as if he was being pulled somewhere by the arms to some where. Not normal... After the dream he woke up, though instead of being in bed, he woke up in some freaky renaissance fair, getting mugged...
It was too real to be a fair. There would be at least some people who would be speaking in normal English... Also the guards through him into Jail... No one could be kept against their will like that, especially for so long. He was in some sort of medieval city. Whisked off by... by what? He backtracked, what could he have been whisked off by, what was different about the day before he was brought here...
The Vambraces!
He shrugged off his parkour bag, which the guard had neglected to remove, probably because he had never seen a backpack, and didn't know what it was used for. Vic unzipped it and pulled out the only thing within, The Highly detailed vambraces. They looked exactly the same as the last time he examined it, so nothing was different... He snapped them both on. They were the same...
Suddenly the sound of a door opening and closing made it's way to Vic's ears. He pulled his sleeves up, covering the vambraces, zipped his backpack and tossed it back on.

After a few hours since his arrival, he got his first "visitor", that is, besides the rats. He had to bite his tongue hard so as to not lash out at whoever it was. The person was very light on his feet, he noted so by the sound and flow of her footsteps. As soon as the person walked into his field of vision, Vic was surprised to see it was a woman, Not that he was unused to seeing that, as New York had plenty of female officers, (A few of them scarier than the males). What surprised him was that it was in this time period. He remember in school how woman's rights were something that was recently won not to long from his time, but even then, their was some inequality troubles.

He watched as the woman made her way in. She had ash grey skin, though after everything he had seen so far, not much was going to surprise him. She was wearing some sort of armor that looked like a hybrid between battle armor and push up lingerie. All in all she was not bad looking, in fact she was beautiful, but he did not let his opinion be known. She walked silently over to a pot that had a significantly less than appealing aroma to it aroma to it. She poured some of it into a bowl and walked over to him. It was now that Vic remembered he had not eaten since the morning, but he ignored the hunger pangs for now. He just watched as the woman walked over to his cell.
“Hey there, I hear you caused some trouble for someone. Want to tell me what happened while you eat?” She said, apparently trying to sound caring.
So that was their trick, send a beautiful maiden over to extort information from him. Well he would fall for it. Besides, even if he told the truth, they either would believe him, and extend his sentence, or, throw him in a loony bin. Either or, if he didn't lie, he would not be leaving at evening like he was promised.

He tentatively pulled the bowl back, and walked over to his bench and sat. He wasn't planning on eating it, It may have been drugged or poisoned. He opened his mouth to speak, and he noticed that he must have bit down on his tongue to hard, for he he could taste copper. He was bleeding. He spit off to the side, then realized that it may have been taken offensively, he tried to fix it.

"Sorry bout that, my tongue is bleeding.. Um... yea... I'm Victor Ortiz, you can call me Vic... or Victor, whatever you want, I don't mind either way... " He said. He noticed he must have sounded like a damned fool. He inhaled deeply, and started again this time devising a quick lie to make himself fit.
"Ok, So I came here from a small farm house down south,(He severely hoped that this place had farmland in the south.) It's an independent farm, we don't live in any of the cities. My mother is a tailor and me and my dad farm. Anyway, Me and my father got into an argument over the fact that i wanted my inheritance then and there, And so he did. I came here, hoping to get a few drinks and make a few friends. I went to a tavern, the name of which I forget, since i just went to the first one i could find, And I had too many drinks. I got drunk, and everything is a blur from there. I then woke up in an alley way, with some guy picking my pockets. I get up and demand my money back, and he points a knife at me. So i back away, i bump into some guy, he shoves me into the horse, on my way down, i grab onto something, which turns out to be the guards foot, and he throws me in Jail for supposedly 'Trying to pull him off his horse.' He says he'll let me out at the evening, so now I'm waiting until evening time." He finishes. Looking her dead in the eyes. He made the story pretty well, his tailor mother would explain his weird clothes, He took a bit from the biblical story, the prodigal son, from his grandmother, who was a "Catholic", And the rest was true. it was a completely probable story.

He kept his eyes on the woman the whole time, so that she couldn't say he wasn't looking her in the eyes. So he waited, maybe he would get out early for good behavior.

"Speaking of which, I never asked your name, pretty rude of me, sorry... What's your name?" He said, trying to be polite.


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(this is chris's bit that he posted me, i will remove it when he himself posts... just so everyone knows whats going on)
Even as her fingers had traced across her chest Chris' eyes had been drawn to follow them, not perhaps for the reason that would have been most obvious had she in fact been the woman her body was built to represent, instead it was for another glimpse, another look at that symbol.

He saw it as her still learning to move fingers drew the dress neckline aside, and saw it flare as her fingers brushed it, before going dead.

No dead wasn't the right word, not when the symbol was anything but, dark was better, off perhaps better still considering who she claimed to be, but never dead, not now not as long as that symbol still existed.

he got a better look this time, with the flare before she fell it was almost as if the thing had burned itself right though into his memory, and as the others around her moved to wonder at the sudden 'string cut marionette' fall Chris found himself instead desperately squeezing his eyes shut, clenching his fists tight and clinging to that image of desperate luminescence.

He could read it.

And not with the tricks of shape and implied meaning that he normally had to rely on now, but with the sure certainty that came from a word simply being what it was written to be. By comparison the most graceful of phonosomantics were clumsy and brutish; the most elegant descriptor simply a rude club from which a thug might infer the intent. That rune had simply been what it was.

Two perfect words inscribed in permanence, describing, defining, being.

"Life" as he had seen before, but wrapped through, over and completed with "Truth"

Small wonder then that this once inanimate pile of sophisticated silicon was now alive, was now walking among them. Ha such been carved into the colossus of Rhodes then they could have reasonably expected a titanic bronze warrior to give vocal praise to Helios.

Only dimly aware of how scattered, blown away his mind was to be thinking such things, coming up with such strange off-the wall pictures, Chris found himself kneeling next to the girl-golem and reaching out for the symbol she had touched, fingers straining between desperate need and quiet awe.

Cold, solid definite, Chris barely noticed the whisper of cloth as his fingers found the place, and only the sudden stirring of the form beneath those fingers occurred at all, drawing his eyes up from his fingers and to the laze of colour suddenly revealed by the opening of her lashes.

"Truth" he declared, "Life" he said, forcing himself to removed his fingers and simply gesture.

"You're alive" he insisted "Truly"


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The man in the cloak, who had arrived with the tall, terrifying woman, succeeded in reviving her... Or rather, turning her back on. He shook his head at the thought that this woman had once been nothing more than a computer, unable to wrap his head around the idea. But he wasn't paying attention to her that much, he was really listening to suggestions of where to go and what to do. Evening was settling in, that much was clear. The sky was darkening and the streets were emptying. Stalls seemed to be packing up for the night and everything was far easier to see without the constant rabble of people passing by. The suggestion of going to the castle was very tempting at first, the air had become chilly and would likely not get warmer until morning, but then the fine point was made about being locked up and classed as crazy people. They really couldn't win. And then the conversation was interrupted by the imposing lady dashing across the group to take cover behind The Prophet, apparently giving evils to a man who had been standing beside her not long before. He was unaware that computers even knew how to do that.

"Maybe we just try and find some decent place to sleep tonight."

Now that was the smartest thing he'd heard since arriving here. The only question was where? The Aussie woman had made a good point about the local authorities classing them as insane so going to the most imposing place they could see in the city was out of the question. They couldn't sleep rough because... Well, they just couldn't. He was teacher, a respectable one at that. He had a masters degree. He had a house in a prime part of London, friends, family, colleagues. He'd never spent a night on the street in his life. To do so now would be a perfect end to the worst event of his life. He racked his brains, attempting to make use of the lack of people wandering around them now to gain some clarity of thought. But the main sound now seemed to be the raucous laughter and shouts of the inebriated not too far from here. How could he be expected to concentrate with drunks shooting their mouths off this close?

Which gave him an idea. He was no traveller and no historian but he knew as much as the next man. Surely the inns around these parts would have rooms for the night? He was sure that was how things worked back then... Now... Whenever they were. The inn was the equivalent of a hotel bar, right? How they might pay was a different question altogether but they could tackle that problem when they got there as far as he was concerned. And a stiff drink wouldn't go amiss either.

“Do not come near me. Do not touch me.”

It was the seemingly deranged whine of a computer that was going as crazy as he was. She was still staring at the man across the group from her. Sebastian had no idea what she might be angry about but he knew he didn't want to get in the way of her if she lost it. Hell, he felt uncomfortable enough around her before she got mad. If a fight broke out now he wasn't going to stick around. They were all welcome to find their own way in this rotten hole of a place but he would make a dash for the inn. Maybe these gloves that he still kept held of would buy him a room for the night.


He cleared his throat, not wanting to make a sudden noise. He really was scared of this computer-that-was and worried that it could lose control at any moment.

"I don't suppose anyone has any money, or any way of finding some pretty quickly? Maybe something valuable we could trade in?" It was a stretch and he couldn't remember ever having asked for money before but he was truly desperate and these people seemed to be the only ones he could rely on. "Because we could do what anyone does when they get stuck somewhere for the night; book a room." The chances of anyone having any currency that would be classed as legal tender here were slim at best but they'd come from the future, surely someone must have some trinket in a pocket that would be worth something? Then again, he was sure his pockets had had some change jangling about when he had fallen asleep and that was now gone. His hopeful suggestion now seemed nothing but bleak to him. There was no chance they would get a free night.

It was going to be a long shot from a decent hotel room but as long as there was a bed and a roof he didn't think he'd care what the state of the room was.

Through all this Kayla found herself drifting further and further to the back of the group. The sheer weight of the situation was suffocating and she couldn't help but stay silent as she battled with her own thoughts. Somehow the presence of other people wasn't comforting to her at this point and, with no thought of where she might go and what she might do, she sliently stalked away down the street, not sparing a second glance behind her as she went. The others at this point were too busy to notice, she could hear the confusion echoing after her as she made her desperately impulsive escape to who knew where, not thinking, not worrying about her odds of survival, simply overpowered by what she could not understand.


The Captain took two deep breaths as soon as Kali had rounded the corner and was once more the calm, controlled officer he always was. Although his outburst had not gone unnoticed. A few heads were poking out of windows, eyes wide and mouths hanging open. All fresh recruits who didn't know better. Using his perihperal vision he identified them all, not moving his head in the slightest as he made a list in his mind of soldiers that would be put through additional training later this week.

"Quit your gawking privates, else you'll be the next here in the arena with me. And I won't take it easy on you, mark my words." The heads vanishd quickly and he set off across the courtyard to gather up his weapons. It wasn't until he was making his way back to the door inside that he noticed Sergeant Vander standing watch from the shadows. Sly bastard he thought, not stopping to talk as he went.

"Whatever it is, I don't have time." His words were clipped and blunt, impersonal as ever.

"I were jus' goin' ter ask if yer were alrigh'."

"I'm fine." He didn't stop, intending to get back to his office, rush some paperwork and get himself an early night for once. He knew the Seargeant, a man who had once been in command of him, was just trying to help. But he was Captain, he couldn't afford to accept help. Especially not now, not after being spoken back to publicly by his own Lieutenant. He knew he shouldn't have taken it from her. He knew he should have made an example of her in front of everyone for it. Unfortunately he was not master of his own emotions and he could no more have beaten her at the front of the assembly hall than he could have beaten his own steed.

He felt anger begin to rise up in himself again but not against Kali, against himself. He silently cursed his own feelings and made his way upstairs to his office. A report had been slipped under his door and he read it quickly, a frown scarring his features as he did. It was not good news. He closed the door behind him and put all thoughts of getting an early night out of his mind as he pulled out sheet after sheet of paper and started writing dispatch forms, wondering how long it would be until this became public knowledge.


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#, as written by echored
Flin watched as the young man he had pulled to the side ran off, and soon the guy was only a blur in the distance. Flin would never admit that it could have been a bad idea to share the information he just did so freely. Regret wasn’t a familiar reaction to him, to put it simply, and that was why it was odd now for him to wonder what the repercussions might lead to. Probably because he was in a new world, it was causing Flin to see consider things more cautiously than before. The boy could be talking to the police in the area and already having troops sent out, which the more Flin thought about, the more he didn’t like. His train of thought was a mere few seconds before he he came to the conclusion he made a mistake to say they were from the future-- though you’d need to hold him at gun point for him to ever admit this. Instead of letting his face show the uncertainty he was feeling, he hardened his features. Flin’s ‘serious’ look had been perfected over the many years of debating with strangers off the streets.

His position back into the group made the circle complete again. Flin’s feet planted firmly in the ground as he crossed his arms, letting his eyes roam from face to face. Flin finally rested his attention on Leander once more, the woman who was just the right amount of sarcastic that entertained Flin without frustrating him. He was getting the impression that she was the only one here that had the nerve to not put up with his antics, and for that there was a building respect towards her.

Didn't you know, Shades? I'm obviously a witch,” she said as their eyes met, and he watched as her fingers wiggled like tiny spider legs in the air. He crinkled his face like a younger brother would, keeping his arms crossed in a defiant manner as he continued to listen to her speak. “Seriously, though. Aren't we missing the big picture here? If we just walk up to the nearest authority figure and spill our guts, what are the chances we're taken seriously versus thrown in some kinda loony bin? If the reactions we've been getting thus far are anything to go by, nobody here's gonna have a clue what's up, either, and someone might just decide we're hostile. Maybe we just try and find some decent place to sleep tonight. If we're lucky, we get back home the same way we got here, savvy? Otherwise, we can figure it out later, preferably without getting arrested."

Flin could understand her rationale partly, especially the idea that they might find themselves back home again after another night’s sleep. If that was even possible, he wondered if they would all end up in the same place that they left from. Would he wake up on the same beach he disappeared from or would he find himself in a completely new place on the planet? Would it even be the same year? It seemed there was no way of avoiding these possibilities now that they were here. The only thing he didn’t agree with Leander on was her motion of giving up for the night, finding a place to sleep already. He wasn’t ready to sleep, in fact he wasn’t tired at all. And he wasn’t one to sit around and hope things would work themselves out.

“We won’t be arrested,” Flin chimed in as soon as she spoke her last words. Whether he was confident or not on that assumption, he was dead set on letting it be known. He had many encounters with authorities back home, so he had some tricks up his sleeve on how to dodge/’lose’ them. It would be time before any guard had the luck of catching up with Flin, and that was a fact.

Flin was just about to add to the conversation until he felt a chill against his leg. His gaze immediately travelled down to his legin question, a look of shock in his eyes as the robot woman had a firm handgrip around his thigh. So much at a loss of words that all he could muster up was a few ‘uhs’ and ‘ums’. Her hair seemed to travel in fluid motion in every direction, and now that he was this close to her, he could see that indeed her hair was made of wires- wires that were now snaking around his leg and sending chills up his spine. Flin wasn’t necessarily afraid of the.. machine, just utterly fascinated and confused at her actions. He had seen movies in his past of robots and the like, and this one here in front of him was nothing like he’d come to know. This one was extremely intelligent, flexible, and displaying an obvious level of emotion as she cowered behind his leg. Emotion wasn’t normal as far as he knew in the case of robots. A man across from him in the circle had been reaching towards the robot, a look of mesmerized captivation oozing from his every pore. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to get the hint that the robot didn’t want that man to touch her, maybe she was afraid she’d be turned off again. No matter what she was feeling, her tense words came off as warning enough-- ”Do not come near me, do not touch me.”
The threat caused Flin to gulp quietly. He didn’t know if he should assume he was safe from her quake of anger, or the one that would be the receiver as her retaliation just by proximity. The only thing that was slightly reassuring was the loosening of her grip around his leg. He wasn’t going to test her limits, so he held still with his arms bending at a higher angle as to make sure not to touch her unwillingly. Flin’s eyes looked hesitant as he made eye contact with Leander.


The older man in the group, the one that had accidently bumped into him, broke the string of silence. He began to speak and Flin couldn’t help but feel anxious as he listened. Were they all just going to pretend nothing strange was happening as the robot hugged his leg?

”I don't suppose anyone has any money, or any way of finding some pretty quickly? Maybe something valuable we could trade in? Because we could do what anyone does when they get stuck somewhere for the night; book a room.”

Yes. Just carry on your conversation while I’m being held up by this robot.
Flin thought angrily, shooting a glare towards the Professor. Sure, Flin knew several ways of getting money quickly, it was all apart of having street smarts. And yet Flin held his tongue, unwillingly to work with this man who was doing nothing to try and get on Flin’s good side. The man was obviously more concerned with himself. On further note, Flin didn’t want to waste money buying a room for the night. Flin couldn’t remember the last time he had a roof over his head and a bed to sleep in, being homeless for several months now. He was perfectly fine with sleeping up against a wall or tree, preferably tree. If he had money he would save it for food or liquor or tobacco, not a mattress to lay on.

After a few minutes, and with no aid by the others, Flin mustered up the courage to speak with the robot at his leg. In careful grace, Flin shifted his body so that his free knee could bend down, lowering his body until he was face to face with the strikingly beautiful owl-eyed machine. The ceramics that acted like her skin looked as smooth as silk, her features perfectly symmetrical. The fact that she came off almost alive was what bothered Flin the most. Taking a collected breath in, he began to speak softly to this creature as to not come off as a threat of any kind.

“I am going to place my hands on your shoulders,” he said, allowing for her to have a few moments to herself to register he wasn’t going to hurt her. He took her silence as an acceptance of his statement, and what followed was Flin cupping his hands around the sides of her shoulders. “Now we are going to stand up. Don’t worry, I have you,” he said, never sounding as genuine before, a rare side to see of Flin. This was his effort at freeing his leg so he hoped it would work- he wasn’t going to risk losing a leg in a place like this. Hell, no matter where he was he didn’t want to lose a leg. To his relief, the robot Marlaina began to stand slowly, and Flin followed her up until both were standing straight on their feet, eyes still in direct contact. “Goooood,” he whispered, the word stretched carefully, softly. His brown eyes seemed so dull compared to the light glow of her blue orbs. What he felt in that moment of connection was an understanding. She was just as confused as the rest of them, and for this, he felt sympathy towards her. Not wanting to push his limits, he let his grip around her ceramic shoulders go, arms falling back at his side. He stood next to her still but was glad to have all his limbs free to stand alone. Why he stood next to her was outside of his consciousness. There was a responsibility to protect beginning to plant a seed in his mind, little to his knowledge.

Meanwhile the boy that Flin had pulled to the side was swift at finding a guard.

“Sir, sir!” the boy shouted as he waved his arms above his head, catching the attention of a man dressed in silver armor and a scarlet red cloak that blew in the faint wind behind him. The guard’s expression was stone cold, not having left his post for several hours now. Usually peasants did dare speak with him opting to pretend the guard was invisible as the shuffled quickly along in front of him. That was why in this case of behind sought out by this boy that his eye flinched.

“Explain yourself, your enthusiasm isn’t welcome here,” he muttered, the guards long steel swords clicking against the armor against his legs.

The boy’s breath was heavy from running the distance from the circle. “There is a group of travelers, clearly not from around here,” he said, taking a couple gasps of air before continuing, “I believe they might be here for trouble. One claims they are from the future.”

The guard was surprisingly interested, for he had just recently been briefed on the growing anti-Union support growing in the East. This boy could indeed be referring to rebels.

“Your loyalty to the Union is commendable. You did the right thing to report your experience,” the guard said, his chin never dipping lower, only adding to his frightful presence. Out of a small pocket tired to his belt was a satin pouch. The guard pulled out a gold coin, placing it in the boys hand as a reward for the information. The boy flashed a gritty smile, several of his bottom teeth missing. He hadn’t seen a gold coin in some time now and his parents would surely be please. He bowed as low as he could and scampered off towards his home. The guard watched the boy run off, as once he lost sight of him, he began to move slowly in the direction to where the boy had reported the sighting. His boots cut through the stones beneath him, his sword catching the faint light from the setting sun. His eyes were peeled and yet poised, looking for this group that the boy reported of.


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Nox wasn't exactly sure what to do, when in the middle of what seemed a brave attempt on Leander's part of getting everyone organized after Flin had pulled aside that boy, a man who had yet to introduce himself got rather close to the glowing runes engraved onto Marliana. She reacted rather harshly, or at least comparatively so to what he knew to be true of her thus far, latching onto Flin's leg and well... glaring was probably the best word... over at the offending person.

"Thank you for turning me on, Nox. I am grateful to you." She didn't look at him when she said it though, but he felt he should say something all the same. "Oh, um... you're most welcome, Marlaina, think nothing of it." Flin didn't look too comfortable with her there, though, and Nox supposed he could understand that. Her prehensile hair was probably an odd sensation to say the least. He was going to suggest that the man had probably meant no offense and that perhaps she should consider standing again when Flin seemed to lose the ability to tolerate it and stood her up gently on his own. Ah, well, that wasn't so bad then. She hadn't seemed to react too aversely to this, or at least not yet.

The young woman with the dark hair spoke sense, at least to Nox's mind. Of course, the prospect of being able to go back to where he had been by nothing more than simple sleep terrified him, and he was quite certain that he would not want to close his eyes again for as long as he could avoid it. But perhaps that was selfish of him. Clearly, more than a few of these people had lives, real lives, where they had come from, and he could not fail to understand the desire to return in that sort of context.

Even so, some wicked, horrible part of him that the rest of his conscience could only regard with disgust sincerely hoped that Leander was wrong. It was this majority of himself that thought to offer up what small assistance he might. "Well, Marlaina has some local currency," he remembered. "I'm sure that she might be able to assist the rest of us in obtaining some as well." He was actually fairly certain that she would probably just offer up hers, but he didn't want to force her to or presume anything at all. "Otherwise I'm sure my cloak might sell for a bit, if we could find someone who wanted to buy..." The thing was clearly well-made, of a rich, dark material but also durable.

"Actually... if I may..." he ventured, waiting to make sure nobody protested before he spoke again. "If we are indeed perhaps anticipating being at the very least questioned about our presence, would it perhaps not be wiser to move first and discuss things later? I say this because in the case that the local authorities are horse-mounted, armored, and rather unfriendly-looking, there may in fact be one off to our left." He was positioned such that he could see what appeared to be an oncoming guardsman of some sort, who while apparently having not yet spotted them, was most certainly looking for something.

Nox, meanwhile, was scanning the area for possible avenues of concealment. He was truly a hopeless optimist, and liked to think that if in fact they were caught, they would eventually be released, having not to his knowledge committed any actual crime as such, but at the same time he was smart enough to know that some people liked to shoot first and ask questions later, and this guardsman looked a bit petulant to say the least. He certainly did not want any of these people (or golems, as the case may be) to suffer any sort of unfortunate circumstance because that man appeared to have had a bad day.

There were several small alleyways between shops and stalls here and there, but he knew nothing about the layout of this city, and could not from his angle determine if they terminated in dead-ends or not. Any direction might be a risk, and furthermore it would probably split them up when he was of the opinion that sticking together was the better idea. It was less probable that an entire group of people was simply insane than a solitary person, was it not? Yes, logically, this seemed to be the case.

Ultimately, he was left with the impression that someone with better knowledge of such things than he should make this decision. Unfortunately, he didn't really think that anyone else qualified either, because none of them had mention previous instances of time/inter-dimensional travel, or extremely embodied dreams, or even run-ins with mounted guardsmen in armor.


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She was scared of him, terrified even, and suddenly he realised why, could see what her problem was, he wasn’t acting normally, wasn’t even thinking in a way that felt like him. He could see a load of reasons why, things like waking up somewhere over the rainbow without the lollipop guild for instance, but even as those thoughts occurred he knew they were bull, excuses rather than real reasons.

The real reasons had all to do with the big change in his life in the last few hours, the big one where he could read again, where symbols could be words without referring to abstractions of shape and referencing context. These runes that were burning through his brain made strange marketplaces and alien looking bipeds into also rans, an instant obsession-addiction that made being lost onto a fresh new world a footnote.

And now they were talking about going somewhere, talking this through, concentrating on that footnote when...

“I’ll catch up” he heard himself say, before he turned about, reached down and picked up the small bundle his elderly benefactor had helped him out with.

And then he was away, forging with ever more determined strides away from the group who had so briefly seemed a refuge, but now nothing more than a false harbour against a simple squall. By the time he reached the edge of the market square, where he had first spotted the madman on the hay he was already running, putting them and their concerns as literally behind him as he was figuratively doing with their briefly shared concern.

He had never been particularly good with names, but that wasn’t exactly an issue considering how few had responded to his offer of his own when he had arrived. Their faces likewise were soon put from his mind, leaving only a persistent shame at his loss of control, and the burning need-legacy ignited by his first sight of those runes.

In contrast to the barely existent and then outright hostile welcome he had gotten among those who had apparently until recently been world-mates of his the woman who had helped him before was all warmth and understanding as he turned back up on her doorstep, swinging the portal wide open to let him in and urging him right to a seat near her hearth while she went back to cooking whatever it was she had been to the market for.

“I thought you’d be back” she offered with a smile and a generous helping of warm food from the pot, “you folks can just feel them eh?” she suggested.

“You folks?” Chris replied, his voice sounding small and lost even to his own ears.

“Rune men” she asserted back, nodding at the burin he had put aside to accept the bowl. “It’s my husband’s book that you’re after” she continued, her voice calm and indisputably assured, without a hint of rancour or defensiveness, let alone hostile suspicion. Instead she nodded to the hearth and so guided his eyes to where her husband had carved his own marks.

And there it was again, the bright, blazing clarity of these paragon glyphs, the undeniable truths that they gave form to at their inscibers’ behest.

“Fire” Chris said, unable to do anything but articulate the truth he saw.

“Look deeper” she urged in reply, stirring the hearth with a bronze rod, and flaring the heat past the symbol, giving him another clearer view.

“There’s a modifier” he said, “more than one” he corrected, now forgetting the bowl, the food, the room, and everything else as he slipped closer to the flames, “Home” he said, raising a hand as if to trace the marking, “control” he added, barely registering more than the slightest hint of annoyance as she warded his hand away from the flame with that same poker.

So she hit the back of his reaching knuckles again, harder, and then stepped outright between his face and the fire, breaking the spell just as Marlina had done when she had scuttled away from his hand earlier.

“Careful” she urged sincerely, but still with that friendly and understanding tone, “you need that hand” she half joked, only then at last getting through to him that he had been about to stick said hand right into the hungry flames of her hearthfire to do that tracing.

“the .. uh” he began, stumbling completely over the words as he attempted to explain.

“Don’t worry” she urged back, “my husband was the same whenever he saw a new one” she insisted, “it’s part of having the sight of it” she declared, “let’s you read them, but doesn’t let you not read them” she insisted, explaining all sorts of things at once, if not how exactly he had become what she was talking about, this ‘rune man’ thing.

“We’ll cool it down and you can trace them then” she offered, putting the final balm on his turbulent mind, giving him the assurance he hadn’t even been able to articulate the need of, “but first” she urged, “eat” she said, “you’re all skin and bones!”

Chris smiled and did as he was bid, honestly grateful as she moved her own chair over to keep the view blocked, and let him look somewhere else.

“Agatha” she supplied, with another smile and a dismissive wave to his responding embarrassment at not having asked, “as I said” she offered, “my husband was a Rune man” she said, “I know what you’re like”

“Thank you Agatha” Chris returned, “thank you” he said again, “And I’m Chris” he said.

“Oh I know that” she insisted with a far more enigmatic smile, “what sort of witch would I be if I didn’t know the name of the tall dark stranger at my door” she chuckled.


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(I will do Marlaina tomoro, sorry chicks are just too cute to ignore any more today!)

She watched the man slowly, her skin fading into ever deeper grey, she could almost feel the sun setting. Her kind needed very little sleep, the were suited to living in both day and night and only needed about 4 hours, recently she had been getting a lot more due to her leave, so she felt a deep rush of joy with every minute that ticked by, each moment that passed leading her to the dark. She winced as he spat, it was rude to do so in front of a lady, but then she had not been called a lady in a very long time. He didn’t know of her, everyone knew of her, not many in person or looks, but almost everyone knew of the girl so dark that she had become a lead assassin, they feared her, he could not live anywhere to this side of the country. She tilted her head, the way he spoke was odd and she contemplated it as he apologized for spitting, trying to think of any time she had heard it, she had traveled a lot in her job, but she had never ever heard this.

“Well Mr Ortiz, you seem to have pissed off the wrong person today havn’t you?” She spoke clearly, wanting to make sure he understood. She listened to his story with a face of calm, not letting a thing show. She hated to be lied to, he was not from the south, but other than this, he seemed harmless, he was not being threatening or crude. She could have laughed at his story, no father in his right mind would give his inheritance to his son before his time, people here were tight, most of the money left after the death of a loved one went to giving them a good funeral and coffin, then righting things with one of the scribes, so the deeds were in the right name. Not to mention anyone with an ounce of spare money saved it for their daughters dowries, not many people could afford them here and sometimes if they could scrape enough together their daughter would end up with a good man with a larger amount of land than their own. It was never much, but she knew how it worked here, money was hard to come by.

“Look, you seem pretty harmless, but you should think again before lying to me.” She shook her head. “Everyone around the city knows of me, the only people who don’t know me as a man and others by a name, but they live far off, you make it sound like your local and that’s just not true now is it.” She shook her head, still it seemed to be a little silly to put him in on such a small thing, they should have fined him, he looked like he had money, not put him in here. She walked off, down the hall to where Mitzu lived, the little monkey sitting idle atop his perch. The little creature had lead a good life and ended up here, which to say the truth was probably a good thing for him, life here for him was easy. She held out her hand and he slipped something smooth and cold into her hand. His coarse padded hand held on to one of her fingers for a moment and she looked up into his golden eyes. She liked the little thing and best of all, nothing could call him away from his perch as he was both well trained and completely deaf. She had no idea where he had come from, somewhere exotic as one of the lords pets to be sure, but now he was here, she scratched him between the shoulder blades and moved off.

“Right, you seem ok and whoever put you in here shouldn’t have.” She let her hair fall across her face, twining around the top of her amour “Look I’m going to let you out, you need to find someone to explain what went on, but you are not to tell them that story… I don’t know where you come and I don’t care, just don’t lie.” She stuck the thick old key in the almost ancient cell door and did not twist. She was in trouble as it was today, but she couldn’t leave him in there. She turned the key and it made no noise apart from a single click, this place was kept oiled and clean, just the way she liked it and she let the door swing open. She stepped back easily, already moving down the hall way, her feet making little to no noise on the slab floor, steps even and calculated.

“You wont get out of her unless someone lets you and I’m to busy to let you out.” She waved over her shoulder in a vague way “Others are going to give you crap for being here, so if I was you I’d ask for Peter, they all know who I mean, even if there are at least 5 Peters here. Or failing that as he may be with me in a second, ask to speak to the Capitan, he will hate you and me for it, but say Kali sent you and he will if he has time do something other than send you back to the cells.” Then without looking back she stepped out of the hall to the stairwell and took hopping steps to the top. She was of course in a rush now, why were they sending her on such needless things, god she hoped this next thing was better. She strode down to the stables, stepping between countless soldiers, they must be recruiting, she saw so many she didn’t know. She was shocked, they so rarely bought on mass new people, they really must be worried about the east. She didn’t feel fearful, if the battle came here then it would and she would deal with it as any other soldier. What she didn’t want to happen was for her to end up teaching them, she had enough problems.


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She didn't respond Immediately when he finished. Instead she paused, seeming to analyze the story in her head. Every silent second passed made Vic more nervous. Perhaps she didn't buy it, Perhaps he wasn't as good a liar as he thought. He stood silently as he watched her contemplate his story, and held back a sigh of relief when she spoke.
“Well Mr Ortiz, you seem to have pissed off the wrong person today havn’t you?” She said, speaking clearly, as if she were speaking to someone of a different country, or in his case, a different world. He nodded slowly, though he could tell she knew something was up. “Look, you seem pretty harmless, but you should think again before lying to me.” She shook her head. “Everyone around the city knows of me, the only people who don’t know me as a man and others by a name, but they live far off, you make it sound like your local and that’s just not true now is it.”

Vic's eyes widened, but he quickly regained his composure. He scratched his head.
Geez, this lady is either psychic, or just a master psychologist or somethin' He though to himself.

“Right, you seem ok and whoever put you in here shouldn’t have.” She let her hair fall across her face, twining around the top of her armor “Look I’m going to let you out, you need to find someone to explain what went on, but you are not to tell them that story… I don’t know where you come and I don’t care, just don’t lie.” She said, she then pulled out the key and let the door slide open. “You wont get out of her unless someone lets you and I’m to busy to let you out.” She waved over her shoulder in a vague way “Others are going to give you crap for being here, so if I was you I’d ask for Peter, they all know who I mean, even if there are at least 5 Peters here. Or failing that as he may be with me in a second, ask to speak to the Capitan, he will hate you and me for it, but say Kali sent you and he will if he has time do something other than send you back to the cells.” Then without turning back, she went up the stairs and disappeared from sight. Vic had a weird feeling he would be seeing alot more of her.

He walked up the stairs where she went up and was immediately encountered by the guard. Before the guard could say something Vic blurted out "I need to see the Captain." The man looked at him as if he were joking.

"An' I need to see the King, But you don't see that happening, now how did you get ou-"

"Kali sent me" Said Vic, cutting off the man. The man's skin seemed to lose a bit of color. He grunted at Vic angrily but got off his seat and around a corner. After a few minutes he came back with the Captain. Vic Nearly Jumped out of his skin when he saw the man. He stood at nearly seven feet tall, but was far from lanky. This guy was a monster His body was ripped with muscle, and Vic had to fight the impulse to free-run his ass back to his cell and lock him self in. The Captain also had an unnerving eye color, they were a fiery orange. His ears were elongated and point a few inches behind his head, so he definitely was not human, or at least not full human.

The Captain locked eyes with Vic before he got to him and did not take them off the entire time he walked to him. Vic did not show fear, which if he had not been taught the way he had been at the dojo, would have been nigh impossible, but he managed. He made sure not to look cocky. He simply held the gaze. The Captain finally reached him and stared at him. Vic half expected the man to just hit him then and there. Instead he spoke. The authority in his voice was evident.

"You say Kali let you out?" He said His eyes narrowing untrustingly. Vic nodded. The Captain cuffed him swiftly in the ear. Not hard enough to make him bleed, but enough to make his ears ring and disorient him. "When I ask you a question, I expect to be answered with words. You aren't dumb, but if you disrespect me again, I will make you so." He said. Vic blinked a few times and cautiously shook his head, trying to refocus himself.

"Yes, Sir." He said, loud and clear, to avoid any further abuse. The Captain continued the glare. but finally he grunted.

"Get out of my sight, and the next time I see you here, I won't be so merciful." He said. Vic nodded, then quickly added, "Yes, Sir. Thank you Sir." The Captain looked at the man, and the man nodded in understanding, Then he looked at Vic.

"Follow me" He said. He lead Vic to a door in the next room over, and opened it. It was the Exit, and Vic could see the now darkened streets. He stepped out and then turned around realizing something.
"Wait, where do i go, I don't have a place to sleep."
The man shrugged. "Not our problem." And he shut the door in Vic's face. Vic turned around, suddenly feeling hopeless. He had no money, no place to stay, and n belongings. Suddenly the holding cell seemed very hospitable. He turned around and looked left and right. The streets were nearly empty, besides a few stragglers and drunks wandering the streets. Vic decided to see if he could find a comfortable alley or something to rest in.

He walked down the left road. A few people staring at him and his weird attire. He walked by a small group of people about 3 people talking. He heard one man speaking and the others seemed to be listening intently.

"-nd he just grabbed me and pulled me aside. He claimed to be from the future, and asked if anyone could help him back-"

"What? Perhaps he was one of the loons from the insanity ward" Piped in his friend, a short hairy man on his left.

Vic walked by and they said nothing to him. But it made him think. Perhaps he wasn't the only one. Other people from earth here with him? If so, why? And how?
But before he could figure out that mess, he had to deal with the mess of what was happening then. Finding a place to sleep. He needed money, but there wasn't many places to do so. There were a few, very few straggling merchants, who tried to get a bit of money from the final customers. People selling oranges and trinkets, but not many. He doubt they would hire him for the next hour or so.

Another thought came to him... What if he reappeared in another time or planet the next time he woke up... or what if he woke up in earth. He though about it as he wandered the streets. Would the risk outweigh the benefits, or vice versa? What if he woke up in a place where he could not survive, or woke up in a land full of dinosaurs, or aliens... His ADHD began to act up and his imagination started to throw about visions of futuristic robot alien dinosaurs. He realized how ridiculous it was and dropped the thought.

He looked to the side and saw a small bundle of hay in an alley way. He walked over too it and sniffed deeply. It didn't seem to be dirty, so he pushed down on it. It was firm. He sat down and decided that this may as well be his makeshift bed, just for the night. He laid on his chest, with his arms under him, to cover the vambraces, it was uncomfortable, but the hay conformed to the shape. He slowly began to drift off, and eventually his vision became black...


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A knock at the Captain's door could not have come at a worse time for him. Bad news was flowing in fast, no matter how much he hoped it would cease. He stayed silent for a moment, the only sound being the scratch of his quill on parchment, the ocassional pause showing he was not a relelntless working machine and that he was giving some thought to what he wrote.

The knock persisted and was greeted with a bark of irritation.

"Come in, dammit!"

It was the soldier on watch at the prison tonight and that was rarely a good sign. Neither was the colour of his skin, it was far paler than his usual hue, though that could be assigned to the discomfort at interrupting the Captain during his paperwork, something that had been punished by a few lashes of the whip in the past. The soldier in question seemed to take a few breaths to steady himself, apparently unable to speak.

"Spit it out man, I don't have time to watch you stutter in my doorway." Blunt words, no threat behind them, calmer now if only because he wanted a straight answer.

"Yes Sir, sorry Sir." He took another breath and the Captain rolled his eyes. "It's just that there's a prisoner in the cells, a strange one Sir, and Lieutenant Reshma..."

For the love of all the Gods that ever were, she'll be the death of me he thought.

"... Let him out and he requested you personally for his freedom, with the Lieutenant as a reference, with her first name given... He seems insistent."

"He bloody would be if he has anything to do with Reshma" Kronis replied, pushing himself to his feet as he scribbled a final few words on the paper he had been working on. He looked over at the watchman. "Well, what the hell else do you want?" The soldier nodded his head no less than a dozen times as he fumbled his way out of the door and closed it behind him without another word. Then the Captain turned over the paper, wrote 'Kali - Special Dispatch' on the back and rolled it up, depositing it in his pocket. A minute later he had his sword and chained weapon (It's unofficial title was the triad) on his belt and was locking his office door behind him.

He soon arrived at the prison. Being the man in charge of the city watch he had to keep a close proximity to such a wretched place at all times. Even his home was no more than five minutes walk away. And he hated visiting, it reeked of treason.

The reason for him being called away from his desk was the strangest dressed man he had ever seen. The nights were cooler now, that much was true, but the man before him must have come from a country to the South, no one here needed such bulky apparel even at the start of the cold season. Either he was seriously prone to a case of the chills or he had stolen his clothes from a man far larger than himself. Though that seemed unlikely, he was not a small man himself. Close to six foot and strong, from what the Captain could see of him. So why the clothing? It was far from functional and looked ridiculous. The hat served no purpose, it would not protect from the elements nor the sun's rays in the morning and the boots would not last him one side of Eronnis to the other.

He took all this in just as he was rounding the corner, then the rest of the distance towards the prisoner was covered while keeping his gaze fixed firmly on the convict's face. He would not degrade himself by being seen to act as judge in this situation. The man had been apprehended for a crime and was serving his sentence, Loger Kronis was not the person who would give him so much as a second glance. However the inmate held his stare the entire time and that was a feat not often achieved even by those under his command. Prisoner or not, he could once have had the makings of a soldier.

"You say Kali let you out?" he asked when he was stood in front of the other man. The height difference was a clear foot but that made little difference, it was rare that Captain Kronis looked up at a man. And this one did no more than nod at him. A common lawbreaker standing toe to toe with someone who held the authority to have his head removed was answering as though he had no tongue in his head. His reaction was well practiced and well used and came in the form of an open palm clout to the side of the head. It was the usual way he dealt with prisoners to force some kind of manners into them and only the first in a long chain of physical violence that this low-life would do well to break very soon. In honesty it was lucky for the criminal that the Captain had planned on making this a quick visit, else he would have been knocked to the ground by the same force delivered through metal gauntlets.

"When I ask you a question, I expect to be answered with words. You aren't dumb, but if you disrespect me again, I will make you so." Following his words was the classical, comical clearing of the head that he had seen so many times before an answer was sent back, suprisingly clearly.

"Yes, Sir."

"Get out of my sight, and the next time I see you here, I won't be so merciful." Again the prisoner nodded and barely saved himself from another whallop by adding a few well chosen words. "Follow me" the Captain finished. He led the man to the street and left him out there with a slam of the door, already moving on to more important matters. Like finding Kali and informing her of what could be taken as either good or bad news. She had surprised him once already today, he hoped she would appreciate that he had no choice other than to hand her her orders and send her off first thing in the morning. He took the front way out and scanned the immediate vicinity for any signs of disturbance to indicate the scene she would have been sent to investigate.


The masses of soldiers Kali had seen mobilising were preparing to move out to the Eastern Baronies. Most of them had just woken up and were a little grumpy, some even shoving the final few straggling civilians out of their way as they arranged themselves into formation in front of a few higher ranking officers, each of whom was reading their own individual orders and discussing changes to the plan, as though they had a say in it.

Each officer was brought his horse as the North gates were opened temporarily and the ox-drawn wagons containing supplies for the army made their way through the streets under constant supervision to lead the convoy. All this happened some distance away from the assembled Earthlings but the sound of stamping, armoured feet and the cracks of leather being drawn across animal hides was unmistakable. But no matter which way they would choose if they happened to have the urge to join the procession they would not make it past the guards lining the main road. The pla ns had been put together by Captain Kronis and his years of experience had made each detail faultless in it's execution.


Back at the gathering of out-of-towners, the lone guard, one of those whose position would always be the streets he knew so well in Jarvaise, approached slowly on horseback, fixing his eyes upon each of them in turn, showing not a flicker of surprise. He was well trained and well seasoned. He also knew the alleyways like the back of his hand and was more than a match for most thieves and muggers who fled through the darkest passageways of the ancient city. He was just about to turn the corner when Chris made a run away from the group and narrowly avoided being chased down and thrown into jail.

“We won’t be arrested"

The guard was too far away to hear Flin's statement that may or may not have held truth. But he soon closed the gap, hearing the man in a rather fine coat throw his piece in to the conversation.

"-say this because in the case that the local authorities are horse-mounted, armored, and rather unfriendly-looking, there may in fact be one off to our left."

"Stand where you are strangers, you have been accused of assault on a civilian and conspiratorial activities." Perhaps a slight exagguration of the truth but he knew that the chances of a lawbreaker making a run and risking a heavier sentence was lower if the charges were more serious to begin with. Assualt and conspiracy was no novelty, it could easily lead to weeks in the cells, possibly torturous interrogation if any documents or incriminating items were found on their person.

The figure of Chris grew smaller as he ran into the distance and then disappeared completely around a corner. The teacher was astounded at his bravery, or perhaps it was stupidity. Tearing off in to an unfamiliar city in and unfamiliar time, on his own, was truly an imbecilic thing to do... Wasn't it? He couldn't say anymore, his mind was too focused on thinking of any other alternatives for what they could do if they were indeed trapped here for the long-term but all thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of the imposing figure on horseback reigning his mount to a stop just beside them.

Sebastian looked over at Flin and scowled. The loon had dropped them in the shit when they needed it the least, when they were most vulnerable. They were strangers who had been thrown together for no apparent reason and in the most extreme of circumstances. And now they were being challenged by the local authorities because of this nutjob's spontaneous activities, and he had had the nerve to give Sebastian dirty looks. It was laughable.

Althought despite the tension he could feel growing between himself and the Prophet he said nothing to incriminate the other man, instead choosing to stay silent and await the testimonial of the poor lad who had been grabbed. Better to find fault in the story and get them all off the hook than to shift the blame on to a single member of their ridiculous party. He suddenly felt like a member of the classes he taught so often. One clear felon amongst the group and everyone did what they could to make them seem innocent. And, without evidence, there was nothing the teacher could do to punish him.


Unbeknownst to any citizen of Jarvaise, a menace other than the strange new arrivals was stalking the streets. No less than two dozen figures wandered the back alleys and forgotten archways all over the city searching for something. Whether they were men or women could not be seen, all identity was hidden beneath long, black, hooded cloaks of a simple design. They could have been purchased at any clothing store across the country or just as easily homemade. Though one thing was certain, they were all from the same place. It was not just a coincidence of similar dressing, it was a uniform. And it was as plain as day to anyone who had seen them, which was a precious few. And most of those who had were never seen again.

In the deathly stillness of the night three of these figures gather around a single sleeping vagrant and without any warning or premeditated signal, they moved in a flurry of hands, seizing the poor man around the throat, the legs and the torso, carrying him off with unnatural swiftness that could have come only with much experience. There were no sounds of a struggle. Whether through cutting off his airways or through the use of magic, the victim was silent, his only telltale sign the rustle of cloth on cloth as he flailed his limbs in vain. Only too soon the cloaks disappear into the shadows and the final signs of the man can be seen being carried as though by the darkness itself. Many others simply analysed their prey, staring for long periods of time, seemingly deliberating whether or not they were the prize so desperately sought.

Tonight was slow. They had been working for days, since the gates had first shut. They had not long left, only until the first frost that would signal the end of the market frenzy and the opening of the gates. And the official word from the Mages was that it would arrive tonight. They had been wrong before but it wasn't often. They could read the skies and the leaves and it was rumoured they could read the future itself. Unfortunately, whatever way they worked was highly accurate and all possible leads so far had been chased up to no avail. But then things changed. Oh yes, the excitement could not be seen in facial features but the hurried waving of a hand to signal other members of the hooded tribe over to the location could not be misinterpretted. This one had found what they were looking for stranded on a pile of hay in a wonderfully secluded corner.

It was a man again, though much stranger looking than the last to have been picked up. He wore clothing of a kind never before seen by any of them but the vambraces were all too familiar. Unable to contain their joy, the first figure to reach him did not wait for the others to be side by side and expected little response when they extended a rough hand to grasp him by the throat.


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Marlaina closed her shutter for a second, rendering herself unable to see, people seemed to do this often, was it because they needed to guard their eyes, why not just move your eyelids when needed? She opened her shutters as she felt her shield lower itself and crouch before her. She wondered for a moment how it could balance on its two legs like that and thought maybe, just maybe she could do the same. She looked him in the eye and took photos, trying to see how people were. She was still frightened, but her anger seemed to have fizzled out. She peered out from behind Flin and looked at the man in question, the one who had seemed to want to unmake her, fear apparent. She stopped her hair moving so much, knowing that other people did not have their hair do that, though she had no idea why, it was good to know what was around her, it made her feel more secure and she liked that a lot. She blinked rapidly at his face, so close to her own, did they all think her strange? Did he think her strange?

She stood up with him, her legs moving her feet beneath her without a thought, though she was some what shaky at standing, she had only done this a few times before. Still his hands stayed on her and though she wobbled a little he seemed to absorb some of the threatening fall and before she could think to blink again, she was on her feet. She beamed; maybe it wouldn’t be all to hard becoming like these people. Her mind stored away everything that everyone was saying and then for the first time ever she ignored it completely, she did not hear of the idea to move, nor did she hear that they needed money; these thoughts were already filed away. She needed no place to stay, just to work; she did not after all sleep. She had very little concept of money, but from what she had been told so far, she had enough to get her through. Instead of speaking or listening to any of the others, she stared into Flin’s eyes. She wondered for a moment if he could be her new owner, she did not like feeling alone or belonging to herself, it did not suit her at all.

She did however turn when she heard the soldier’s voice, her teeth clicking together tightly as she spun away from her new companion unwillingly. She took a step forward, placing herself more in the view of the soldier, she did not the others here, but this man who had guarded her and Nox, they were people she liked and possible new owners. Her hair swayed around her, reaching out to touch things, but more gently this time, for comfort, she had never had any feeling before, other than a mild possessiveness of her previous owner, it was terrifying to feel. Her body was light to her, but in truth she was very very heavy indeed and more than a little strong, standing a clear head above the soldier. The air around her was unfelt, her skin not sensitive to feel anything less than a soft poke, it seemed as though it was quieting down, she wasn’t sure if this was good. Blinking her large glowing eyes she stared at the soldier, her mind taking images of the way he stood, spoke and what he wore, no he wasn’t normal.

“Why?” She asked the soldier simply when he was close enough, wires reaching to touch Flin who stood perhaps a step behind her and to the side. “What does that mean?” She asked, running the words through her mind at her ever quick speed, the words seemed to assume they were doing something wrong, they weren’t to her knowledge and she knew and awful lot. She looked back to Flin and Nox, quirking an eyebrow some what mechanically, what did the man mean, they had done nothing wrong. On her chest the rune truth stood out, and the soldier knew she could not and would never lie, this was it, they were caught.


Kali stepped into the stables and went strait to Samar, a small smile on her now pitch black lips. She moved without a sound, her amour barely showing in the candle lighted shadows, her skin and hair even less. So as it was, no one noticed her till she was at her horse’s side, the sweet mares head poking out over the stable door, almost as unseen as herself. Its blended coat looked like it was spun of shadows, weaving into the background and leaving her almost invisible. She reached out, running her hand through the short silky strands that covered her head, pressing her own dark face against it. In the day Samar was a chestnut mare of the dappled persuasion, letting her run through tree unseen, but at night she was pure darkness and Kali loved her. She was her prize position, she had been given her as a prize many years before. Every time she killed someone big and helped to end a war the army offered her some of the spoils, they did not often appeal to her, but with this she couldn’t help herself. She rubber her head up against the mares forehead, the bristles tickling against her and whispered a few intangible words of welcome, to the closest thing she had found to her own kind.

“Miss Reshma…..” A male voice spoke out behind her and she whipped around, fury in her black eyes.

“Miss, MISS!” She moved towards him, the young soldier from before, the one who had thought her little more than a whore. “I am not Miss, I have not worked away most of my life to be a Miss. I started here when I was 11 years old, can you even imagine doing something like that you spoiled little brat? I am a Lieutenant, if you do not want to respect me for being a woman in this job, then at least respect the title or I will send you running back to your mother’s skirts wherever they may be.” She had been made to do one to many things today and if this little man did not show her some respect, she feared she would rip off something he might want later in life. She stopped just a foot away, barely coming to mid chest on him and still feeling no fear of the disrespectful creature. Her teeth gleamed perfect white beneath black lips, pointed, vicious and above all at that moment feral. She did not move to her weapon, though she watched his hand move, he was no threat to her whatsoever.

“I’d step back if I were you Miss, I can’t be held responsible if you lose your job and I come from the family of Wenchich and we do not take such disrespect lightly.” He smiled as though he suspected her to back down and in truth the name should have been enough to make her back down, they were one of the top traders and she could get into a lot of trouble. She smiled reaching up and looked at his superior behind him, it wasn’t Peter and for once she was grateful. Thanking god for the small mercies she slapped him open palmed across the face. He reached for his sword and went to attack her and she smiled, oh how the grin spread across her face, its gleaming light in such contrast to her skin. She moved with elegance around him, he didn’t even manage to get the blade out, her sharp nailed hands reaching to grab his wrist and twist it behind him forcing him painfully to the ground for fear of her braking it. He landed with an huff and did not say another word. She looked up at one of the good men who had been saddled with the brat and he nodded to her, telling her to go right ahead.

“Listen to me carefully, I do not care where or who you come from, if you were the General and under my command I would treat you just the same. Right now you are just the dirt beneath my feet and I am oh so keen to scrub you from the stables floors, for you are not worth the shit that falls on it.” She had stopped smiling now, this boy was in trouble, big trouble. “This is the last time I will let you get away with disrespecting me, next time I will have something of yours for it and it will not be something you are willing to give. I am not here for the money and if they decided to be rid of me they would not find me, I love my job and I do it well, so will you in the future.” She spoke into his ear, her black lips like poison to his mind and let go of him without a thought. If he came after her now he was stupid and she did not tolerate stupidity. So she turned to the tack and picked up her warn saddle and bridle, not following it with either headgear or amour for her animal, Samar was better, quicker without.

“Asha Asha little one, no more stables tonight.” She let a kind smile warm her face once more and stroked her hand over its sides, rubbing when she felt tension, with a casualness she started putting in the gear, the stable hands knowing better than to help her. No one so much as touched her horse without permission and for the most part Samar bit those who did not have it. She did not look back at the man, did not watch as he came to his feet and looked at the corporal for help. She knew as she worked pulling at the straps, the soft leather beneath her slender fingers, he was getting the picture and gathered himself together. However all she could hear was the light breathing of he mare and the subtle shift of her muscles as she stepped from one foot to the other. She smiled, watching as the animal happily opened its mouth for her and let her put the bit in, sliding the thin black leather straps over her face and mourning that she had to put any such trappings between her and her friend, she knew she did not need it, but the Capitan insisted.

“The Capitan said you were to come with me, I expect nothing than the best from you.” She spoke smoothly without a hint of inflection and put her boot in the stirrups, her hands grabbed either side of the saddle and she used it to hoist herself up, swinging her leg over and feeling the fast creature shift to compensate. She clicked her tongue not wanting to kick the horse and leant low as together they passed beneath the stable gateway, the two of them no more than shadows. They stepped out into the night together and she clicked her tongue again, urging her into a trot, not waiting for the other men. They would follow her, she knew they would, could not deal with the loss of face shown to be outdone by a woman. Her eyes were sharper in the dark, seeing everything as though the moon, picking up even the smallest detail, touched its edges; this was her time. They moved off with the clatter of hooves and soon enough ahead near the market she could see a horse-backed soldier approaching a small group of people, people who defiantly didn’t belong there.

“Hello again their Golem, I thought I’d see you again, though not so soon.” She gave the creature a brief nod, seeing that it seemed on edge, that was odd, Golems weren’t supposed to feel “Stand down soldier, I am here on official business and I can take it from here.” The man swiftly saluted her and moved off away without a moments hesitation, it must have looked odd to them. She gave her steed a patt on the neck, taking a pull of the horses rich and calming scent before sliding off her back and dismissing the man before here with a swift nod. She walked towards the group, most probable smaller than any of them and headed strait for the Golem, best to start where you knew and work from their. She probably had no more than five minutes before the others joined her and she would like to at least get through introductions and a basic understanding of what was going on. She watched them all carefully, knowing that she would be something odd to them, she always was the first time anyone met her. She needed to know one thing first and then everything else would be fine.

“First, I know this is not an every day question from a soldier, but were any of you trying to buy her?” She asked indicating the Golem, their was a negative even from those who did not reply and she stepped back and laid one hand on her horse, glad that it wasn’t stupidity she was dealing with. She looked over each of them, taking in their alien clothing and weary looks, no one trusted soldiers ever though many of them were good, just enough were bad to cause trouble for everyone else. She laughed softly at the odd group, maybe it was her soft woman’s heart (she doubted it) but these people did not seem a threat to them and she wondered why they had been reported in the first place, they just looked like people from far away, like the man she had let out earlier. She supposed he would be out now, would he find his friends as she supposed they all knew each other, how else would so many of one place land on their shores on the same day.

“So what are you doing loitering?” She asked quirking a brow.

“We are not loitering, we are talking and planning.” Spoke the defiant Golem.

“And what are you talking and planning about my dear?” She asked leaning in conspiratorially, here black eyes sparkling from their wide set sockets.

“How we got here and that we didn’t want to get in trouble so we should find a place to stay.” Marlaina spoke without thinking what might happen, to anyone else the words sounded like enough to get them a one way ticket to Jail, but the runes that gleamed in their own light, they showed her to speak the truth.

“Fine fine, I know you speak the truth.” She tilted her head to one side, dark hair hiding her face. “In a moment a stupid boy will come along, he will be followed by a smart but older man. Do not worry when the younger man tries to take control, he will ask you questions and I must let him as to seem as though you have been properly seen to. Do not worry though, I will do my best to see you all go your way tonight.” She smiled softly and turned from the group, sure she did not know the type and they could be dangerous, but she hoped not and she liked the Golem, she seemed to be so surprised by everything and moving so like a human that she was for the most part, forgotten to not have life in the same way as everyone else. Kali had never seen anything like her, not too bright, but she supposed she was knew, they all took time, but the craftsmanship, it was breath taking. She could hear the hurried feet of two less noble steeds and nodded to herself, turning away to see them in, not saying a word.
(please feel free to use my two NPC soldiers as you like, I will leave Kali out of the questioning.)


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When Medusa (which was Leander's new name for computer-girl on account of her prehensile hair and the loose connection to stone) latched onto Shades, he shot her a comically wide-eyed look. Leander pretended to be oblivious to his distress, simply shrugging and giving him a small smile. The tall porcelain construction didn't seem like she had any intention to hurt him, and frankly she thought Chris was lucky she'd run instead of smacking him in the face. That was what Leander would have done (after kneeing him in the groin, mind) and that would have hurt considerably considering the apparent durability of Medusa's construction.

Of course, Chris (Librarian? maybe something to do with reading or writing... Scribe) chose right about then to make himself scarce. Right... because ditching the group is never how you get killed in these movies, she quipped cynically to herself, but she didn't bother moving the thought past her lips and tongue. Whether this was out of laziness or a desire to better hear what the others were saying wasn't really all that important. It certainly wasn't because she was afraid of bruising egos at any rate.

Blondie seemed to have his head on straight, as did the Professor. Not that she really suspected anyone here of being unhinged (except Shades, but he was amusing, so it was fine). When Blondie alerted them to the possible presence of a guard, though, her eyes swung sharply in the aforementioned direction, and Leander crossed her arms over her chest, watching the man approach with eyes much too sharp for the demeanor she projected. "Stand where you are strangers, you have been accused of assault on a civilian and conspiratorial activities."

Oh, that's rich, the young woman thought, rolling her oculars skyward for what must have constituted the umpteenth time today. The guard, whomever he was, was swiftly intercepted by another mounted figure, this one a woman. Well, apparently a female at any rate, though Leander had to question if she was human at all. She was hued much more darkly than anyone the bookshop clerk had ever seen, and not in the sense of African descent, either. More just... black, the actual color. Who knew? Perhaps such coloration was a regional thing here, and this woman was in fact perfectly human. It really didn't matter in any event, did it?

Whomever or whatever she was, her authority was enough to make the other mounted guard leave with little more than a grumble, and she took to questioning them in his stead. Leander might have said something, but it appeared that Medusa was taking care of that. Apparently, Shadow was convinced that the humanoid artificer's masterwork could not lie, which was something Leander tucked away for later contemplation. It would seem, though, that she at the very least lacked tact, something which Lee personally didn't mind but might have to be remedied lest it get them into trouble at some point.

Not that Leander had much in the way of tact, either, actually, but she was still pretty good at feeling out exactly where boundaries were and crossing them only if she wanted to, so her bluntness was purposeful. Shadow announced that two more guards were approaching, and Leander knew exactly what type the younger man was going to be. She'd met so very many of them as a teenager.

Sure enough, two men rode up, and the younger shot Shadow a look of loathing, which Leander immediately stacked as points in the woman's favor. It was only confirmed when the man, perhaps her own age and with a neatly-kept head of chestnut hair, opened his mouth. "Who are you all and what are you doing here?" Asking the questions louder doesn't make them any smarter, you know.

Nobody else immediately answered, and it was clear that Shadow wasn't going to save them, so Leander sighed and bit. "My name is Leander, and currently I'm standing here attempting to answer your questions," she drawled lazily, which, as predicted, drew his attention right to her. She could almost see the questions and accusations warring for dominance in his head. It was almost- almost- funny. Apparently, he decided though, because he didn't waste much time before allowing them all the dubious honor of listening to him.

"Leander is a man's name," he pointed out oh-so-helpfully, and she cursed her luck that it was apparently old-fashioned enough to see use here. And now he thought it was fake. Fantastic. She scoffed and shook her head.

"What can I say? My parents wanted a boy." She was getting the distinct impression that this was a male-dominated society, so perhaps this explanation would fly. Awkwardly enough, it was also the truth.

It seemed to satisfy him enough to let him move on, though, and she bit back any number of snide things that she might have had to say about that. Now wasn't really the time; she knew she was treading rocky ground being insolent without being insubordinate, and it was obvious her dry, borderline-condescending tone was driving him up a wall. "Fine. Why are all of you people here dressed so outlandishly?"

Well, that was easily-enough answered. "The shops are closed and we have only a little money," she replied, hoping that Blondie had been telling the truth about himself and Medusa having acquired some earlier. "We were trying to decide on someplace to stay before we were... interrupted."

Grinding his teeth in frustration, the soldier switched tactics. "You've been accused of assaulting a civilian," he asserted acidly, clearly not too happy with the fact that he was losing his composure in front of the other officers whereas she was clearly nonplussed. "Care to explain that? Not you," he amended hastily when Leander opened her mouth once more. "The description given was more like... you." The man turned his eyes on Flin, and Leander's eyes twitched involuntarily. Oh boy... don't blow it, Shades.


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#, as written by echored
If Flin had a better awareness, he would have noticed the subtle change in mood shift amongst the group members. The growing anxiety, those seconds of unsureness where anything could happen next. The robot Marliana grew quiet behind him, and one of the group members Chris, the one that was fascinated by the robot, ran off for reasons unknown. Flin turned his head around to follow the man now in a run, eyes staying on him until he disappeared behind a building. “I wonder what got into him,” Flin said aloud casually, all the while listening to various others offer up ideas on how to get money and a place to stay tonight. It was a topic that meant very little to him, and he almost completely tuned out the conversation until he heard Nox:

"Actually... if I may... If we are indeed perhaps anticipating being at the very least questioned about our presence, would it perhaps not be wiser to move first and discuss things later? I say this because in the case that the local authorities are horse-mounted, armored, and rather unfriendly-looking, there may in fact be one off to our left."

To the left. Flin’s his peeled in that direction, eyebrows curling in a what-the-hell look that only surfaced when he felt his luck begin to fleet. He had just said the wouldn’t be arrested, and he was serious about it. Maybe if they acted chill, the guard on horseback would pass right by them, “Maybe we should start to walk-and-talk instead of standing here?” Flin asked, but it was futile. To get the collection of them moving was not fast enough and the guard on horseback had already approached them, and stopped. Of course they would be eye soars around her... For the fact that they were so publicly and easily found, Flin cursed under his tongue.. an alley way would have been less inconspicuous. Truthfully though, being inconspicuous was not his style. He liked the attention in every situation, it was just this particular case that didn’t feel right. He didn’t want the attention now. He was in a world where he wasn’t sure that if he was taken to jail, he’d ever get back out.

“Stand where you are strangers, you have been accused of assault on a civilian and conspiratorial activities," the guard said in a tone of voice that made them all sound guilty. Marliana was the only figure in front, Flin right behind her to the side, and Leander to his right. He scoped each face of who all was still there, eyes lingering a little longer on the Professor who was.. scowling at him. Flin matched the scowl back, not because he was angry but because it was a brief second where he could be sarcastic before returning to a more serious mood as he met gaze with the guard again. Before any one of them could say something, it was the robot that took lead.

”Why? What does that mean?” she asked, and while doing so her hair full of wires began to curl up at the tips and reach toward Flin again, his hands trying to keep the wires down as to not poke him in the face. The wires even had the texture of hair, and it tickled his palm though his expression stayed serious. Or maybe the expression was of collected I-don’t-give-a-shits about what the guard was going to say next. Either way his lips were sealed...for now.

Behind this guard, Flin could see another one approaching. The rider seemed more foreign of a creature than the horse itself, and this was the first time Flin felt a strange feeling in his gut that his world and this world were never meant to interact. Her, at least Flin assumed it was a woman guard that had approached, authority was quickly noted as she sent of the other soldier, and he saluted her swiftly and took off. Flin wasn’t sure if he should feel relief or more panic. He stood his ground, continued to be a listen and not a provoker, as long as he could at least.

“Hello again their Golem, I thought I’d see you again, though not so soon.” Flin looked at the back of Marliana questionably, wondering where before had these two met. He couldn’t decide if it was good or bad, but he hoped good for them.

What followed was a back and forth interaction between the two. As they talked, the mounted woman got down from her horse, her dark tanned skin a foreign color to anything he had ever seen on Earth. Not to mention her eyes were significantly larger than the norm, and black as black could be. All in all this guard was dark and made Flin mildly uncomfortable. The conversation amongst the two ended in the guard saying that more soldiers were on their way to question them, but that she’d do her best to let them walk free tonight. Ah, those were the words Flin had been waiting to hear. Flin reached forward gently and patted Marliana’s shoulder, in kind of a thank you for getting them by thus far. Part of him wondered if she could even feel it, so he pulled his hand back down and crossed his arms. He was trying to stay was calm and collected as possible but there was that nagging itch to get the hell out of here-- needless to say he was on nerve underneath his thick skin. He debated hiding his eyes with his sunglasses, but opted not to in case it would look like an act of defiance.

The two guards rode up, the textbook description of comical pairing.. number one, young, thin, and clearly the dominant, and number two old, larger, and probably the dumbest looking out of any one there now on the street. Flin couldn’t help but smirk, and it was in that moment that a flame flickered in his eyes, that smirk was going no where now.

His fake sis Leander chimed in as the young guard began to grill them with questions. Their quarrel seemed to go on for a few minutes, all in useless banter for he was only asking things such as Leander’s name and why they were all dressed the way they were. Judging by Marliana’s response and Leander’s, they were opting for the very truth, and if Flin was going to have to speak at any moment, then he assumed it would be best to hop on the truth train, no matter how crazy they sounded.

“You've been accused of assaulting a civilian. Care to explain that? Not you," the guard paused as he shot Leander a harsh look, for it seemed she was poised to continue answering his questions. "The description given was more like... you." And with that, Flin couldn’t help but notice all eyes were on him, and he found himself eye to eye with this guard.

Flin debated what to say next. His right foot began twisting half-heartedly in the dirt out of habit and his arms continued to stay crossed, his posture contrapposto. The way the guard made his last few words sound were like nails against a chalkboard, thoroughly annoying.

“Alright, alright already,” Flin spoke up, clearing his throat with a pat on the chest before crossing his arms again. “Explain what your city thinks of as assault because where I come from, a friendly shoulder wrap doesn’t classify as assault. For example,” he paused, taking a few steps back as to stand next to Nox. Flin wrapped his arm around the back of Nox’s next, his palm firmly, but yet in no way harmfully resting on his shoulder bone. “I did this when asking a passerby for some help, and he indeed was in no way hurt or assaulted by such a gesture.”

Flin dropped his arm from Nox and took a step forward to where he was originally standing. “You see, there are no intentions of harming anyone. I myself find your town...” he paused, knowing he had to come up with the right word without sounding insulting- god for bid he sounded insulting. “Delightful,” he finally managed to get out, choking back a laugh which manifested itself as a faint smirk instead. He was indeed being sarcastic but his voice sounded as genuine as the rest. “Honestly, this all seems to be a misunderstanding, officer,” he began to sum up, though he wasn’t sure if officer was the right term to use here, “Bring back the boy who is accusing me of assault and certainly check his arm. You will see there is no marks, cuts, or bruises, indeed there was no foul play.”

The young guard on horseback grunted under his breath, eyes glaring angrily down at Flin. The boy that had complained to one of their fellow officers was long gone by now, and on further note, the boy had never said he was assaulted. The guards liked to exaggerate the truth every now and then, and this was one of those cases. The real reason for questioning this group wasn’t at all about assault, but that they were completely foreign to this land, no matter if one was from the North, South, East, or West. Their accents were unknown and their dressings were anything but normal. At any chance they were sent here by rebels from the East, it was precedent that they were questioned to the T. Before the guard was ready to say anything more, he looked down at Kali with pause in his eyes. He’d wait for her to speak before making his own accusations- he didn’t want to find himself face down in a horse stall again, that was for sure.


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((@ARC I noticed you had the hooded men use magic, If you want me to re write this so that they use magic to stop him, no problem, I already have the alternate retelling [magic included] in my head :) [in fact now that i think about it, i think it would have been better with the magic, but i don't know how "fantasy" you want this] ))

Twenty minutes had passed since Vic had gone to rest on the haystack in the alley. He was resting still alert of his surroundings, yet he did not open his eyes when he heard the sound of the footsteps. They were quick and swift, like someone who was deliberately trying to be stealthy, and had practiced it many times. Vic opened his eyes just a crack, enough to let him see the three men approaching him.

Great, more weirdoes. He thought to himself. He was already in an irritable mood. In less than twelve hours he had been transported to another world, mugged, imprisoned, cuffed in the ear by a six foot captain, and forced to sleep on the street like some hobo. Now a couple of hooded freaks, probably members of some cult, were creeping up on him when he tried to get some shut eye for the first time since his arrival. He needed to blow of some steam. Bad.
He came up with an idea. He rolled onto his side, it looked like any other sleeping person moving, but the purpose was more than to continue his façade, by doing so, he put his vambraces in clear view of the potential thieves. That got their attention. The one closest to him stopped for a second, and then continued his advance, ahead of the others. He reached for Vic. But not where he expected. Instead of going for his vambraces, the assailant reached for his throat. That was when Vic struck.

Quick as a snake, Vic’s hands shot out and grabbed the man’s arm and shirt. Vic tugged back, and the man’s head slammed into the stone wall behind Vic with a dull thud. The man let out a grunt on contact and fell back, unconscious. Vic jumped to his feet, and the other two attacked.
They positioned themselves on opposite sides of Vic, on in front, and one behind. At first they were at a stand off. During which Vic felt an odd sensation where his vambraces were. They grew warm and his body began to get loose. The feeling spread through out his body. It was nothing to stop him from fighting, in fact, he soon found himself with a lot of energy for only twenty minutes of sleep. Then the standoff was broken, a slight scratch of a boot on dirt from behind Vic alerted him to duck and turn around, sweeping the mans legs from under him, Which was a good move, because the man had swung a dagger at where Vic’s head had been only a second before. The man fell on his back and Vic jumped back up, taking the chance to shift his attention back to the other man. On the way up, Vic let loose a roundhouse at the man’s head, but the man caught the leg in his hands.
Bad move.
Vic spun and whipped his other foot at the man’s face, breaking his nose. The man fell to the ground, clutching his gushing nose.

By this time the man with the dagger had gotten up, and Vic looked back just in time to deflect the dagger with his vambraces, putting them into use for the first time. Then shot his palm out at the man’s solar plexus, the man jumped back, the wind knocked out of his lungs, but he quickly regained his composure. He lunged, knife forward, aimed at Vic’s face; Vic caught the assailant’s arms a few inches away from getting stabbed in the face. The man continued to push the knife and Vic allowed it to inch closer, once the man’s balance had begun to depend on Vic’s pushing, Vic stepped in and spun around, pulling the man’s arm over his shoulder, and pushing the man up with his back and legs. The man flipped over and crashed hard into the ground. Vic stood up straight, but was immediately surprised from behind when a pair of arms wrapped around him, wrapping over his neck, and a wet hand covering his mouth and nose. The hand smelled like nauseatingly like copper, and Vic could tell it was blood. The man with the broken nose must have snuck up on him, and now he had about eight seconds before he blacked out. He placed on foot behind the man’s foot, and instead of grabbing the man’s arms; he grabbed the man's legs. Then, in one fluid motion, Vic kicked up the man's foot, jumped up and back, and lifted the man's legs. The both crashed onto the floor, back-first. The man's grip loosened and Vic took the chance to pry the constraining arms off of his neck. He didn’t wait for any retaliation. He ran out of the alley.

He could hear the sound of footsteps and horses. A few times, he thought he heard orders being shouted. Something was up, and he wondered if these men had anything to do with it. But the thought was cut short when he saw a more immediate threat. Around nine more of the men had come out of nowhere, cutting off both available paths of escape. He looked around. And for some reason, He smiled. These men were about to try and beat him at his own game. Not the fighting, no, another game. These people wanted to chase him. He couldn’t restrain himself from letting out a chuckle. They stopped. They knew he had something up his sleeve. But what?

Vic looked at the opposing wall from the alley. He analyzed him mark. A single story brick building, nothing a simple wall run couldn’t handle. He lowered himself to the ground and exploded into a run straight at the wall. The men did nothing to stop him. Why fight, this fool was about to run full speed into a brick wall.
But at the last second, Vic jumped up, his right foot hitting the wall first; he ran up another two steps and jumped up. He grabbed onto the ledge and hoisted himself up. The men realized their mistake and took chase; While Vic ran on the roof, they followed on the ground. He got to a corner and jumped down to the road rolling to his feet. He ran down the street, which was easier now that the usual commuters of this city were sleeping. Vic turned back to see the men on his tail, though they were having trouble keeping up. Nearly his whole life he spent running, he could run for hours without stopping. In fact, his life was practically a practice for this moment. He turned a corner, Surprising the horses that were sleeping in the stable at the corner building.

He continued running and around three seconds the men came running around the corner. He turned the next corner, not thinking much of it. Again the men turned the corner, and Vic turned around quickly, surprised to see only six of the men still chasing him. He let out a laugh and kept running. The chase was looking good, not including the three men incapacitated in the alley, he had already lost three men, Or so he thought. He heard the rumble of footsteps and turned to see the three men on the horses, and the other six on foot.

“Oh sh-” He said and increased his speed. He took a quick right and continued running. He had to find a way to lose these men quick. He looked left and saw a rack full of apples. He looked back to see the horses turn the corner, and ran up behind the rack. He tipped the rack over, and it smashed apart releasing the apples all over the floor. Vic jumped over the once rack, and continued onward.

He looked back and saw the horses run through the mess, smashing the apples and not even being slowed by the mess, though the last one slipped on the mess, and fell, pinning it’s rider. The man let out a yell of agony as he tried to get his leg loose, but to no avail. The rest of the people on foot continued, leaving the rider behind. They slowed at the mess of apples, but got through easily enough and continued the chase.

Vic was running as quick as he could, but the horses were gaining. He took a left into the next street and ran into two horse mounted guards.

“Halt!” shouted the one on the left, But Vic continued running. The guard that shouted reined his horse to go for Vic, and was surprised from behind when one of the hooded men tugged him off his horse and jumped on swiftly. The remaining guard took chase after the hooded man, and was surprised to see the crowd of hooded men coming from behind.

These guys have some serious brass balls to pull a guard off his horse Though Vic. He decided it was about to take the chase off the ground when he saw an opportunity about 20 feet ahead; a sign in which the pole holding it would suffice as something to swing up on a scaffold ahead.. He ran faster, legs pumping and changing shorter quicker steps, then jumped. His outstretched hands grabbed onto the sign, and he swung him self up to the wooden scaffold. He landed easily on the side, and climbed is way up. The horses were nearly there, and he reached the top. He noticed the scaffold swaying from side to side, a sure sign of instability. He grabbed onto the building which the scaffold was leaning on, and used his legs to tip the scaffold. After a bit of pushing, the scaffold began to fall. He pushed himself off and vaulted over the ledge. He was already in the air jumping from that building to the next when he heard the scaffold crash and the panicked whinny of horses. He let out a laugh and continued, When he reached the corner building he looked back. The scaffold collapsed on one of the horses and it’s rider, and the other horse had stepped on the debris, and was limping. The horsemen had jumped off their horses and taken the chase on foot. And when the guard had reached the ruin, he too got off his horse and took chase on foot. Four of the hooded men had found a ladder and took it to the rooftops, and when Vic saw that he smiled. He knew he made it look easy, so he wanted to see what they could do. He took a left, following the chain off buildings, and watched as the others below followed. He hopped across the buildings with ease, and the four on the rooftop often had to stop and go back, just to get a running start again and try to jump across. Vic continued running until he approached a wall. It was a little higher than the house he was on. He ran up the wall and just managed to get himself over. He looked down to see the four men stop at the wall and try to climb up. It was no use.

Vic looked down at the roof top below, then scanned the area. He had reached what looked like a market district. He looked back, knowing he was not out of the fire yet. He jumped down, rolling on the landing to dissipate the force of the impact. He continued running, just as the people chasing him came through the arched opening in the wall. He looked back to see that some how two of the men had made it over the wall. He wasn’t about to stop and ask how, he just kept running. He decided it was about time he tried to lose them. He took a right, and got a running start. He got to the edge and Jumped. He looked down and saw the group of people talking to a few guards, including… was that… Kali? He hit the ground and rolled. He turned back to look at the group. They were not dressed like others, in fact, they were dressed sort of like they were from… Earth…

His attention was drawn away from them however, when the two people on the rooftops began climbing down, and one of the hooded men came around the corner and pointed. Then continued running, soon after the rest of the men followed. So now he had seven hooded men after him and the guard after the men. He looked at the group again. Besides Kali, What looked like a female robot, a guy with sunglasses, an educated looking man, and a guy in a cloak were part of the group, which, if they could fight, would up his chances, which seeing how they fought were already pretty good, but even he could fend off seven armed men…

He turned to Kali
“Kali-” He caught himself, the Captain had already boxed his ear in and Kali looked of rank to, disrespecting her would probably not be the smartest thing to do. “Uh, ma’am, these men are chasing me for no reason! I had to fight off a few of the-” He didn’t finish, the men had reached them and he had to take action…


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| witch's House
| Off the market

"And after that well," she offered, her voice toned by the same smile that graced her face, "well we really had to get married" she chuckled, "once we dried off at least"

From his seat opposite Chris couldn't help but laugh, the open, easy humour of his company about as far from the idea of 'Witch' that he had grown up with as the idea of working real runes had been. But in the last while, as he had been chatting with her there had been no denying either fact. Agatha had taken a bowl of her own and joined him at the table, and then almost immediately launched into an unashamed and more than a little racy retelling of how she had met her husband, leaving out neither the rather unintentional mud-wrestling nor the chill of the waterfall they had 'washed off' in afterwards.

And at the same time she had been gently leading him through the most basic forms from which the simplest 'true' runes were crafted, her fingers seemingly idly tracing them in spilled water on the table, then challenging him to follow on. Much to her apparent surprise he had initially suffered some serious trouble with that, only able to regain the form she clearly believed he should have had when she moved on to the slightly 'truer' of the basics. Chris made absolutely no attempt to try and explain his alexia, or share the pain surrounding the circumstances that had thrown him into it's until now merciless grip.

And she made no move to ask, instead seemingly content, happy to be sharing her own story with him; that happiness only minorly tainted by a lingering sadness that Chris put down to still existent feelings for the man who filled the lion's share of the subject matter. later he would know better.

"Now" she offered, clearing away the bowls before they were completely finished, "I think you had best fetch down the blade from atop that dresser" she urged, her voice losing all it's gentle playfulness, "and prepare yourself" she declared.

Chris of course opened his mouth to ask what had changed, but the steel-sharp gaze that Agatha fired back left no room for doubt about the urgency of her command, so he shut his trap and did as he was told, reaching up to the dusty recess atop said dresser, and fetching down a belted scabbard with a heavy carved bone grip and brass pommel protruding from it.

As he once again turned to ask what was going on the first crash came, a calamitous splintering noise that announced the death of Agatha's back door. A heartbeat after that it was echoed by a only slightly less violent end given to the front door through which she had welcomed him.

Chris fired a glance to her and saw that steel tone had now become a grim jaw-set expression, her expressive hitherto twinkling eyes now closed off and flinty. Instead of replying she set her own gaze at the front and clawed a hand.

Chris could have sworn he saw a glow there.

A moment after that though he had far more pressing things to worry about than this fresh evidence of a world he didn't know the rules of, because through the splintered door came the rush, a duo of black clad men, their faces obscured by night hued scarves under dark hoods and their hands accented by bright blades of their own. Their eyes were neither laughing nor hard, instead wordlessly expressing a violent intent that was somehow more menacing still than the blades in their hand.

The first of them though had no time at all to follow through on that intent, whatever his plans were rudely instead interrupted by a half hundred small items from about the room, including the kitchen knife and burning hearth-wood, launched themselves at him and his friend in a furious barrage. The 'friend' was fast enough to duck back around the splintered doorframe, the first was not, instead blasted into a bleeding tumbling heap against the suddenly blood splattered wall.

Which is about when the man from the rear made himself known, throwing some hex of his own at Agatha. The air seemed to compress, ripple and suddenly crack, the old woman was thrown hard into another of her walls, her aged bones audibly cracking as the fierce impact spread spiderweb tracings through the once lovingly applied plaster.

Chris had been on the edge of the spell, and caught only a whiff of it, but it was enough to throw him bodily into the dresser, crashing through the handmade doors of the lower cabinet with his suddenly pain-blossoming left arm, and rattling his spine off the more solid edging. His cry of pain echoed Agatha's only differing in the octave that it registered from.

Even as he was pulling himself up though Agatha was proving herself to be made of sterner stuff still, rolling onto injured ribs to throw another hex of her own at the same black clad attacker that had got them both. Followed by an inhuman cry of words that blazed across the earthman's mind but left no memory of their passing, she tore the very shadows from the room and cut them at the caster that hit them.

Once again bright scarlet arcs splashed through the air, darkening even as they rattled off the window and wall in their own sibilant splash. A second of the attackers went down, half his face, three of his fingers and a good number of his ribs suddenly no longer connected as their maker had intended them to be.

The effort however had clearly taken it's toll on Agatha, the cry that had birthed the hex trailing off into a ragged moan that had all too much wetness of its own in it, and clearly precipitated another fall to the increasingly discoloured floorboards. Without any conscious through, and with the edges of his vision still fuzzed by what was probably a concussion Chris forced himself to his feet to head to her.

Just in time to see the second of the two from the front re-enter, eyes even more afire with the red-promise of violent death.

Their eyes met across the ruin of Agatha's home, the murder and the misplaced, and Chris suddenly knew without a shade of a doubt that only one of them would leave this room alive.

In all his years he had never been in such a situation, one where he could honestly say he was looking into the face of a man intent on his death, no amount of films, novels or computer games could have genuinely prepared him for that moment, for the bone chilling reality of an honestly lethal intent; and no amount of rationalisation could have ever prepared him for his own reaction.

Chris wanted to kill the guy, hated him with a bonfire blaze in his own chest, a roaring inferno in his head that eclipsed his fear and even his concern for Agatha. The blade she had told him to get was naked in his hand and he hurled himself at the scarf-masked intruder, not caring for one single moment that he was a bare novice to this other man's cruel efficiency.

For once that Novitiate paid off, the killer expecting a far more rational, measured response. Which meant in turn that even as Chri's wild thrust passed through garment, skin flesh and organ, the killer's feint towards his attacker's eyes cut an unintended line of red hurt through Chris's cheek and brow, missing the eye itself only by virtue of the fact the cut had never been truly intended to go home.

Unlike the blade now in the intruder's chest, buried to the suddenly slick hilt and wrenched into a lethal turn by Chris's too late attempt to turn aside form the cut he himself received. The blade came free as the earthman slapped his other hand to his face and backed up. But by then the third would be killer was already falling, eyes glassing over to match those of his colleagues, body tumbling to lie athwart the door he had kicked to bits to gain entry.

Chris, knuckles white on the red-blade, was sorely tempted to stab him again, to make sure, but another cry through that temptation to the wind, a ragged sound torn from Agatha's throat as she tried once more to ease herself from the floor she had fallen to.

In a rush Chris was back to her, everything he had learned about first aid suddenly seeming shallow indeed, pointless in the face of the obvious breaks and raw pain he was seeing. Instead he cast about for the burin, a rough idea of using the rune he had seen on Marlina's chest to save this most generous of hosts forming into his mind

Only to be stilled by her gentle touch.

"No my lad" she whispered, "I'm gone" she told him, without a hint of fear or bitterness, instead her tone laced only with that same gentle sorrow and quiet joy that she had used when talking of her husband earlier, "and he's waiting for me" she insisted, something in her pain hazed eyes telling Chris that she had known this too was coming to her door today. "Take the blade, take the books" she urged, voice becoming steadily more distant, "do what you have to do" she breathed.

And then she died, the last of her strength leaving her body in a silent rush and rendering that strong, generous frame of hers a suddenly old and collapsed withered doll. Only a free an honest smile remained of the woman that had first welcomed him to this alien world.

With blood stained fingers he reached up and closed her eyes, gently lying the body down and shakily settling her grey framed head to the floor, before at last turning about and beginning to wonder what the hell he was going to do about the red stuff leaking from his own face.


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The Captain asked a couple of passing soldiers if they had seen Lieutenant Reshma wandering around and it wasn't long before he found out her general direction. She was pretty conspicuous after all, soldiers tended to remember her. Especially if they got on her bad side. So he took off on foot at a steady pace, eager to get his work done out here and get back to the office to finish off writing his orders for the night. It was hard work being in charge of such important matters but he took pride in his work and would not hurry anything more than was necessary, even if it meant taking another few hours of sleep away from him.

He soon found the group that had been the destination of Kali and immediately realised why an officer of recognisable rank had been drafted in. If he thought that the fellow in the cells had been dressed strangely then he completely taken-aback by this gathering of freaks. Each of them wore different outfits but all of them were dressed in such an alien fashion that he, just for a moment, felt like turning away and leaving this mess behind him. Unfortunately he needed Kali to prepare for the morning and she was there. Along with that young upstart she had humiliated in the training yard and another officer whose name he could not be certain of at the time. Although he looked relatively old and Loger guessed that he was an administrator of some description. He certainly wasn't a leader of men, sat on horse silently like a mere observer. Fool.

The scene ahead was curious so the Captain kept to the shadows, skulking closer and keeping an ear out for any reasoning given for these people's sudden arrival and apparent disruption to the market. Then he was surprised, something that didn't happen all that often these days, by the rat he had just let out of prison run from an alley and approach the Lieutenant, shouting something about a chase. Well, he thought, there will be no chase here.

"Lieutenant Reshma, seize that man."

Like a magician he appeared from the darkness and was about to demand to know what was going on but his own arrival was timed to perfectly coincide with a small group of hooded figures rounding the corner and slowing a little when they saw the people now gathered against them. Everyone in Jarvaise had heard the rumours of a gang of hooded people and now they were right here in front of him. He could almost have thanked the little convict.

Holding up his fist before him, the Captain bellowed down the street.

"Halt in the name of Jarvaise!"

The figures did not stop, they only started to run, charging at the group. The lead pulled a longsword from beneath his cloak and the one on horseback behind him drew a glass vial containing purple fluid from his sleeve, both of them heading straight for him. The Captain didn't hesitate, not for second, he simply turned to face them with his right shoulder, right hand flying to the hilt of his sword and his left crossing behind his back to grasp the triad. With perfect timing he drew his blade and parried the first's attack, spinning around and letting fly with his chained weapon. As the assailant was knocked off balance, the triad curved through the air and wrapped itself around the mounted figure's neck, sending him sprawling to the ground, likely breaking bones on impact. His vial smashed on the floor beside him and with a flash of flame, the hood caught fire. The chain wrapped around mysterious figure's neck prevented them screaming but the agony was evident in the way they writhed on the ground. But there was no time to watch, the Captain saw this only as he slipped his own blade through the nearest attacker's chest.


Sebastian didn't know what to make of the new soldier on the scene. She looked like something from a horror film, some kind of night stalker on a shadowed horse. She was terrifying, yet strangely appealing, beautiful in the way that only natural disasters can be.

“Hello again their Golem, I thought I’d see you again, though not so soon.”

She and the computer woman then proceeded to have a small amount of banter, an image that would be blazened into his mind's eye for the rest of his life he thought. A childhood nightmare chatting with lady that used to be a laptop... What an thought. He couldn't have come up with that back home, not in a hundred years.

And then lots of things started to happen around him, too much to comprehend at the time. It would only be in restrospect that he would be able to gather all the events and organise them into some kind of timeline. As two more men on horseback, clearly guards, approached, this dark woman seemed to drift backwards and let them run the show. They spoke to the crazy guy and the Australian woman, who clearly had some kind of problem with authority, and the younger of the two seemed to get increasingly frustrated and it wasn't soon before he looked ready to blow his top and draw his sword. But just at that particular moment a man who surely should have been a member of their strange little family arrived, sprinting onto the scene and recognising the female soldier who he identified as Kali.

No sooner had he turned up, yelling about a pursuit that wasn't his fault, than a voice echoed from the shadows behind him, making him almost literally leap up in fear. Then the owner of said voice made an appearance. It was a huge man, dressed in simlar gear to the other soldiers, towering over all of them, who strode out and through to the forefront of their gathering, placing himself in the way of a rabble of hooded figures tearing down the street at them. A couple more materialised from the darkness to their right, one armed with an axe, the other seemingly defenceless.

Sebastian didn't know where to look, there were unidentifiable people closing in on them, reminding him of newspaper articles he'd read about gangs of hoodies cornering innocent people and mugging them. But these were no innocent bystanders, there were soldiers among them and the mountain of a man at the front dispatched two in a matter of a second.

The older soldier on horseback drew his own blade and made to gig his horse forward to join the fray but was quickly dispatched, an arrow zipping out of a window nearby and plunging through his neck, just below the jawline, the tip re-emerging at the other side and bringing with it a splatter of blood over the unsuspecting crowd. The horse went on under it's orders but the poor man only dropped off the side, clutching at his throat as a crimson pool rapidly started growing around his head.

The younger, cockier soldier looked as terrified as the teacher felt, eyes widening and mouth hanging open when his comrade fell to the cobbled floor. He froze and that was his undoing. Another arrow hurtled with outstanding speed through the air, choosing it's target as his gaping mouth. The force knocked him clean off his mount, barreling him over in the air before he landed, mercifully, on the back of his head with a snap, signalling a broken neck. A quicker death than he would likely have had. Then the horses were both gone, leaving no protection from whoever had fired those projectiles and only showing a handful more figures shifting towards them through the night. They were almost surrounded and there were only two soldiers left alive to help them.

It all happened too quickly for Sebastian to react to. He had to defend himself, somehow, and so he bent down to pick up a sword that had clattered to the ground at his feet. It was heavy and felt unnatural in his hands but he raised it nonetheless, gripping it with both hands and holding it pointing out towards the oncoming murderous hoardes. It visibly shook in his hands and he would not have passed for a brave man at that moment and he knew it. But a sword was better than nothing.

"Take them alive if you can!"

It was the voice of one of the unknown figures, yelling out orders to his (The voice was deep and masculine) people.

"And kill the soldiers!"


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Nox chose, for the most part, to remain silent during the interrogation. He had his own theories as to what was going on, but he doubted very much that any of these soldiers would be interested in a controversial multiple-universe theory and inter-dimensional travel. Instead of speaking, he studied those who did. The first soldier to approach was a woman, seemingly cut from dusk itself, but since the first person he had seen upon awakening had been a lady with cat-eyes and pointy ears (and then Marlaina), he had surprisingly little difficulty accepting this for what it was.

To him, she seemed like the sort of person who demanded respect, but would not hesitate to give it back were she to find someone deserving. The way she spoke to Marlaina wasn't exactly what he would call friendly, but it wasn't unnecessarily accusatory, either, and he supposed that was only fair. They did look fairly suspicious given the setting, and he was further assured of her relative neutrality by the arrival of the next two. Well, one of them he would never be able to get a read on, for he would never hear the older man speak, but the younger certainly didn't seem willing to give them much of a chance.

Though he admired Leander's ability to remain so unruffled under fire, he could not help but feel that she was being almost deliberately confrontational. Not openly so, but just enough to get their interrogator angry without him being able to accuse them of anything. That was not a balance Nox thought he could ever strike, but then he was not precisely sure now was the time to make that ability apparent. The man on horseback seemed to be seething, but he swiftly gave up on Leander and faced down Flin instead.

Nox had little time to contemplate whether or not this was a change for the better, as he was rather swiftly being used as an example. He was somewhat impressed that given the difference in their heights, Flin was so easily able to sling his arm around Nox's shoulders, but he didn't waste much time giving it thought and instead offered the guards a friendly smile as if to demonstrate that no, he was not being harmed in the slightest by this, though he did find it rather unusual. Actually, once upon a time it probably would have been painful, but at present it was most certainly not.

He was thinking of perhaps trying a different tactic, perhaps something to calm the guards down, but at the exact moment he opened his mouth to speak, several things happened at once. First, yet another guard approached, but before anyone could properly react to this, the group was approached by a young man shouting something. Well, approached was perhaps the wrong word. He landed right in front of them, apparently having jumped from a roof or something, Nox wasn't exactly sure. The hooded figures that followed him were rather menacing in aspect, and Nox instinctively stepped in front of Marlaina. Later, he would realize that this was probably about the most illogical thin in the world to do- she was made of stone and probably far more capable of withstanding whatever was coming for them than he was, but for whatever reason he felt compelled to do it all the same. Maybe it was her innocence regarding human life; would she even understand why someone would come at them with murderous intent? Probably not, yet that was surely what he read in these figures' intentions. He was only proven most gruesomely correct when the two guards fell.

Sebastian took up a sword, but Nox shook his head to himself. That would never work; these men were clearly trained to kill things. He knew he wouldn't last more than a couple seconds- he wasn't even acclimated to his own skin yet! Instead, the blond man bit down on his lower lip and scanned the area for some way to facilitate the most likely option- running away. His eyes alighted on the side of a nearby building, and he saw something that might work. A frame of wooden planks crisscrossed over four vertical poles supported a building-high wood stack of round logs. Maybe...

"Marlaina? Do you think you could help me tear these planks out? If we send the logs rolling out, it might buy us some time to escape." So saying, Nox darted towards the lumber stack, pulling at the feeble supports himself. Luckily, the nails were rusty, and he could feel the logs shifting a bit even as he tugged, which meant that they probably would roll out if the x-shaped barrier was removed. He couldn't manage it on his own, but he figured that Marlaina should be able to.

He chanced a glance behind him, trying to pick the others out of the chaos. It looked like everyone was still alive for the moment bar those poor guards and a couple of assailants. Suddenly, he was glad for the presence of authority figures, for who but criminals would want to take them alive and kill the soldiers with them? That had to be some kind of capital offense, surely, and it had been enacted twice already without the barest modicum of hesitation. How people could just be okay with doing something like that was something Nox could not understand. What made one life worth so little that a person could take it without flinching? It was beyond his ken to say, of that he was certain.

He willed the others to hold out just a little longer. For some reason, in the heat of battle, none of the hooded men seemed to take much notice of himself and what he was doing, as though every time one of them would glance his way, they would suddenly find the something else was a bit more important. Which was probably sadly true; he wasn't much of a threat to anyone or anything, both by choice and the circumstances of his position. Come on, he urged the plank beneath his spindly hands, give already!

It did, eventually, and only one diagonal strip of wood remained. It looked more solid than his though, and he hoped that Marlaina would be able to help him out, else he was going to need a new plan, or at the very least a crowbar.


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Vic ducked under the dagger of the first man. As he got up he saw a new player on the battle field: The captain. The captain easily disposed of two hooded men before Vic even had to turn back. The man swung the dagger again, this time downwards, and Vic deflected it with the vambraces. He drove his palm into the mans jaw, making him reel back, then lashed out with a kick to the diaphragm. He was going to continue when he was grabbed from both arms, two men holding him back. The man who he was focused on walked up to Vic and put his hand in front of his face. Vic could feel a slight suction as the air was being sucked out of his lungs. Vic was beginning to feel dizzy when he quickly jumped and landed a two legged kick on the man's chest. The man grunted and fell backwards, and the sucktion was stopped. Vic dropped back down and headbutted the man next to him to his left. The man didn't let go, but it gave vic the distraction he needed, He pried his arm lose and grabbed the hood of the man on his right and brought his head to kis knee. The man fell back holding his nose. Vic ducked out of instinct and a fist swung high over his head. He grabbed it and twisted back, holding the man with his arm painfully twisted behind him. He kicked out his knees and the man dropped. He then held his head in place and brutally slammed the vambrace in the back of his head. The man fell silently, not even a grunt of pain escaping his lips.

Vic looked around while he still could and noticed the Captain absolutely annihalating the hooded men, but one of the men was sneaking up behind him. He shouted to the captain, but decided to go at it himself. He found a small dagger from the man he had knocked out, and picked it up. Upon doing so, he felt a warm sensation starting at the vambraces, but this time, instead of flowing around his body, it flowed to his hands. He grabbed the dagger by the blade and flung it end over end at the hooded man. It blade first in the head of the man sneaking up on the captain. The man dropped instantly.

Vic stared in shock at the lifeless body of the man. He had never killed anyone, and though it was in self defense, It made it no better. His pity however was cut short, when one of the assailants came up to his left, again swinging a dagger. Vic grabbed the arm, then jumped and hooked his legs around the man's body. Then he pulled down and around, flipping the man into a forced somersault and crashing to the floor. Vic pulled on the arm until he heard something crack. The man screamed in agony holding his arms until Vic brought the Vambrace down to his head...

((Sorry for the crap post, I am rushed but i wanted to get some fighting in. now back to school work.))


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Marlaina watched Kali carefully as the questioning was made, shifting the wires in her legs a little. This woman had set her free, would she now not let her find a new owner, that did not seem fair. She wondered for a moment what Megan was thinking, had she sold her, or like the rest of the people here, had she been taken away without warning. Her small ceramic toes dug into the earth, she’d never had toes before and never thought about the sensation of grains of earth slipping between her feet, she liked it. She watched everything, unsure of what to do, everyone seemed so agitated, she wanted to protect those who she liked, she didn’t much care either way what happened to the rest, they were nothing to her, but now she had three. She turned her head to watch Flin wrapping his arm around Nox and smiled, her friends got along, good. She watched the lamps flickering, light falling upon her friends hair, making it move ever so slightly, it was dark now. This was almost the same kind of dark she got when she was turned off, but here it was full of life and people. Lamps were lit in windows, doors closed against the nights chill and pubs were starting to get the first few people in, egger to become merry.

Kali watched everything with a small smile on her face, leaning back against her mare, these people seemed to be little to no trouble at all, they just didn’t know how to behave here. She supposed maybe they came from across the sea, like imported silk and cotton, but she didn’t know and wouldn’t ask. She liked the woman who first spoke to the guard, she knew exactly how to talk to him, it was all she could do to not laugh. Her muscles relaxed, resting slightly and turned her leg this way and that, testing the small damage the Captain had caused her, already it was healing and by tomorrow it would be completely fine. The air around them was quiet, but a little way off she could hear the sound of feet, one of which was atop the building beside her and another group on the ground. Her black eyes looked up, they would be upon them soon and crouched down to the floor, pulling her knife out of her boot, it did not glimmer and did not shine, its matt surface almost unseen in the dark.

Kali did not move as the man landed before her, or as her Capitan shouted, her eyes instead fixing their pitch black gaze upon the hooded men behind him. Without thinking she slapped her mares rump, sending the creature off at an even tread, it knew her and knew she wanted it out of harms way. In the time it had taken her to do this, the other two soldiers had been taken out and she felt sorry. She wrapped her hair up in a leather strap, the boy couldn’t help his upbringing, she shouldn’t have been so harsh. She shoved her ceramic knife through her bun, careful to not cut her own hair by leaving the blade touching the thong only. She unclipped her belt, letting it slip to the floor, she’d pick it up later. One of the creatures was running at her "And kill the soldiers!" one of the other creatures shouted and she hissed. Her hiss was inhuman, her dark skin shifting over supple trained muscle and her wide set eyes narrowed on her target. She did not slide her sword free of its covering, she was furious, the thing had killed one of her charges, two of them and she would make them pay. Leaning down she prepared, she was going to enjoy this.

Marlaina remained still as the hooded men burst over the front of their small group, her eyes glowing as she watched them. She had few friends and she would protect them, her face empty of any emotion. She turned to her friends slowly, only her head moving, face devoid of any touch of humanity. Golems were made to be soldiers, they did not tire, they felt no pain and they could be made over again and again out of mud and a few words carved wherever time allowed. She moved before Nox who had moved infront her in a reflexive protective motion,but she knew she was stronger. She flickered away from her two friends faces and zoomed in on one of the creatures hood, even she could not see their faces and all to soon the man was zooming past her to attack Flin and Nox. This time some emotion flickered on her face and she raised her arm, quicker than most would expect and grabbed the creature by its throat. The fabric was rough against her supple jointed fingers, woolen weave tickling the wires planted under her ceramic skin as sensors. She dragged it close to her and let her glowing eyes shed light into the hood, just as she had thought, she shook her head. Her metal teeth, pearly white flashed for a short moment before squeezing. The high pitch squeals that came from the dark clothing did not make her smile, did not ease her anger and did not satisfy her. It continued to make pathetic noises, turning from a yelp to a shriek and ended in a gurgle before her fingers closed tighter and tighter. A small crack signaled that she had finally broken his neck, she had not noticed his scrabbling at her body, how he had tried to stab at her, scratching her harder ceramics and cracking where he had hit her porcelain.

“Of course Nox.” She turned smiling at him, glaring at the creatures and turned some what slowly to follow her friend. She walked at a sedated pace, swatting another hooded creature with her still clasped dead man, his body dragging along the floor. Her form was formidable, standing taller than everyone and her eyes seemed to gleam with something neither she nor anyone else could understand ever. Her toes clicked quietly along the cobbled, almost unheard among the noise behind her, she wondered why she was noticing this of all things; toes. She thought for a moment as she stepped closer to Nox who was tugging frantically at some wood, of what was beneath that hood, what she had seen in her moment of illumination. She shuddered and stepped up beside him, her now bloodied corpse at her side, bleeding from being scrapped along the ground. She watched him, her eyes acting as a low torch on his work, puzzled as to what he was doing. She had though he needed her help, why didn’t he ask her to do it? She tilted her head to one side and let her hair move once more, touching over the wood before her and the man in her hand.

Kali launched herself forward, feet pushing her forward and off the floor. She smiled, her white teeth neon under black lips, the air made no noise as she cut through it, she would kill it. She landed against the surprised creature with a thud, making it topple to the floor on its back. Kali did not think, so filled with rage was she raising her covered blade above her head, where she knelt on the creature chest. As ever the creature was huge compared to her, but everything was, so it didn’t bother her in the slightest, hands grabbed at her waist, its blade forgotten and she plunged. The scabbard was as blunt as could be, covered in nicks from battle and tough as nails, it battered into the hood, crushing the nose of whatever the creature was. It let out a yell, reaching for a knife at its hip and shoved it at her side, only to be met with the soft sink of her leathers and clink of ceramics. She growled, her eyes flashing in the dark, arching her back once more, raising her sheathed weapon above her head and bought it down on its head again. It grew frantic, stabbing higher, only to find her neck too was covered by amour. She stabbed over and over and over at its head, long after its blood spattered up her front and face, long after it stopped.

Slowly Kali’s yell of victory stopped and she raised from the corpse, enough of the strangers had taken up weapons, she did not care for them though, her eyes snapped to her Capitan. She stood and with little thought dashed to his side, slipping like a fish through the stream of people, where had so many of these creatures come from? She came her friends side, blade now unsheathed, slicing up in an arch through a creature attacking the large man, spinning past it and stopping to twirl her blade behind her, shoving it back and smiling as it bit into the creatures mid-section. Blood gushed out on her and she let out a small yelp of victory, just as one of the creatures grabbed her, making her flail, dropping both her scabbard and her sword. She fell on her back, not thinking to cushion the blow and reached up behind her head, stopping it from knocking her out and driving her own blade into her scull. She slit the leather thong that held her hair accidentally as she slipped her blade free. She came to her knees, slashing at the creatures legs with her short blade. Kali had always relished close combat and this was everything at her best for her, a creature, her blade and the dark. Her arm movements were practiced and deadly quick, lying shallow wounds over the midsection and chest.

“I will help you, you do not have the strength I’m afraid” Kali spoke slowly, her voice highly mechanical and reach forward with both hands, one still grasping the evil creature and pulled at the heavy wooden cross stick, crushing the dead creature against it, blood slowly oozing over her firm fingers and its skull threatening to pop. She gave a firm tug and the skull burst between her fingers only a mere second before the wood crunched beneath her fingers and pulled free. The logs stayed as they were for no more than a millisecond (she was counting) and then rolled out in a tumble across the street, she hoped it wouldn’t hurt any of her friends. She moved after them, finally dropping her crushed victim and moving to protect the others, though it looked like the hooded men’s numbers were depleted. She headed for Flin, her other friend from her world and noticed one of the logs rolling towards him, she took a few quick steps, knocking it off course with a swipe of her leg, gaining her a crack in the porcelain of her shin, she would need fixing later, she had a feeling she wouldn’t like that.

Kali threw her blade the few feet she needed and hoped to hear the thud as it planted itself in the creatures face and she turned instead hearing Marlaina’s heavy footsteps, the creature was heading strait for her at a gallop. Her breath was taken away as the creature stepped forward, obviously the creature hadn’t been hit lethally by her knife or it had a head made of steel. As she reached up to cover her face from its stabbing hands she saw Marlaina grab it, holding its arms still at its side. Kali shuddered as the Golem looked at her, its face full of concern as its hair, thin strands of wire and silk drove into the mans flesh over an over, creating inhuman screams. She closed her eyes, not wanting to see such torture, how could the Golem do such a thing, the only thing about it moving its hair, that dove into soft flesh repeatedly, splattering blood. “Are you ok Kali? Did it hurt you?” The thing asked still stabbing her hair into it thoughtlessly. The smell of wet iron filled the air as blood showered down in fine droplets, like mist rising from the man, she couldn’t bare to breath it in. She nodded and the monstrous Golem dropped the dead man, scooping her small form up into its arms. She yelped but the Golem only smiled down at her through blood splattered lenses and did nothing more.


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Leander assumed a sly smirk as Shades went about the business of explaining himself. There was no mistaking it: the man was crazy. Not the 'someone call the men in white coats with straightjackets' crazy, but more like 'watch me do something you weren't expecting.' It was amusing to watch the guards try to deal with it. “You see, there are no intentions of harming anyone. I myself find your town... delightful.”

That's laying it on a bit thick, don't you think? Frankly, Leander had yet to encounter anything around here that she would class as 'delightful.' Then again, that word wasn't exactly integrated into her worldview. It was perhaps a word for happier people than she. Already growing somewhat bored with the pointless questions, she made no illusions that she was paying much attention any longer and looked around the area openly instead. Full night had long since fallen, which cast everything about them in a different sort of mold. She might have called it sinister, but that was no more a part of how she chose to categorize things than delightful, at least not when discussing places. Ominous, maybe.

There was a slight breeze, or so her untameable hair informed her by sending a few strands onto her sight-line. Frowning, she brushed them back, turning into the direction of the wind. In doing so, she could have sworn she caught a flicker of movement out of the corner of her eye. Blinking, she checked the spot again, but if there was anything there, it was gone by then. Leander's eyes narrowed. She wasn't even close to drunk right now (unfortunately) and so there was absolutely no way she was imagining that. Maybe it had just been a stray cat or someth-

Not a few feet off, some guy jumped down from a roof or some such and yelled something. Oh great. His arrival heralded also the presence of another armored soldier. This one looked- dare she say it?- kind of badass, which in theatrical experience meant they were about to be faced with a horde of- yep, violent idiots. These ones were apparently of the cloak-n-dagger variety, judging from... well, the cloaks and daggers. Fantastic, she thought dryly, casting a sideways glance at the others. She had a feeling the soldiers could hold their own here, and that one guy who'd jumped down here was at the very least decent at running away (which was probably what they'd all end up doing anyway), but she wasn't sure how many of the others could do or take damage.

Blondie was fairly fit-looking, she supposed, but she also had the sneaking suspicion that he'd never thrown a punch in his life. Too diplomatic for all that, probably. Shades may have been in a few scrapes at some point in his life, but he didn't exactly scream 'discipline and strength' so she didn't know there. Medusa was practically a brick wall, which helped. The Professor... probably not. Same as Blondie: too genial. Frankly, she didn't know what qualifed as enough skill anyway. Would Tae Kwon Do even work in this world? Now that's a stupid question.

And, as it turned out, one she didn't really have time to ponder. She noted Blondie trying to make himself useful and understood the basic thrust of his plan. Weirdly, she never really would be able to pick him out again after that, but she put it down to the fact that she would be very much otherwise occupied. As it turned out, one of the cloaked people chose (wisely) to go around Commander Stabby (ugh, that one was horrible, she'd have to think of something else) and pick the easier target: her.

Leander sighed, but for once in her life straightened out of her near-permanent slouch, rolling onto the balls of her feet. All in all, that simple adjustment gave her a good five inches, but that wasn't really the point. She caught the flash of steel from beneath the cloak and swore under her breath. Only one guy had ever tried to knife her, and he was roaring drunk at the time. Still, it wasn't like she was defenseless. Her black belt had been one of the few accomplishments she personally was ever actually proud of. Maybe because it was the one she had to fight her parents to let her get- no pun intended. The blade whistled through the air, and, naturally overcautious of the weapon, she dodged a bit more than was strictly necessary, which threw her landing off-balance. Taking advantage of this, her opponent tripped her, and Leander fell sprawling to the ground.

It was probably a good thing that she was so bloody calm all the time, because if she had chosen that moment to panic, she would have lost her head in more ways than one. Instead, when the figure swept the dagger towards her again, she responded by kicking at the hand involved. Aussie-military-issued combat boots were pretty damn durable, as it turned out, and the force behind the swing was enough to knock the weapon out of the man's (if it was indeed a man and not something else entirely) hand and send it skittering across the dirt and cobblestones towards Shades.

In the next few moments, Leander regained her feet. Without a blade to distract her, she felt she was going to do a whole lot better at this brawling business. There was a reason her favorite drinking establishment never saw barfights, and that was because she was better at breaking them up than other people were at starting them. She struck with the heel of her hand, aiming for the what she presumed would be the nose region of her attacker. He bent backwards to duck, though, and she knew she wasn't dealing with a one-trick pony here. This guy was going to be as problematic without the knife s he had been with it. Well, maybe not quite, if only because she was going to be more comfortable this way.

Unfazed by the dodge, Lee dropped to the ground and swept out with her legs, successfully entangling them with the cloaked man's and sending him to the ground. He was up faster than she'd expected, but she still used his distraction to step in close enough to slam into his temple with her elbow. She caught the second glint of metal too late, though, and hissed as it made shallow contact with her side, slicing with ease through her useless-as-armor t-shirt. Gritting her teeth together, Lee took a step back and shook her head to stop the swimming sensation. She'd just been stabbed. Well, not stabbed, exactly (she'd moved enough to avoid that) but certainly sliced. She and her opponent circled each other, both now assured that they had underestimated the other, his head ringing, her slide bleeding freely.

Leander cracked her knuckles. It had been a very long time since she'd had to fight someone at this level, and she was damned rusty and she knew it. Still, she wasn't just going to roll over and take it. Gritting her teeth, the woman sprang forward, but instead of going for a direct attack, she grabbed the wrist that held the knife and twisted, bringing it around behind the man's back until she head a wet crack and this knife, too, fell to the floor. From behind, she knew she could kill him, but she wasn't about to do that. Instead, she twisted back around to the front, kneed him in the stomach, and then brought an elbow down on the back of his head when he doubled over. Out cold, for now.

And just as well; she was starting to feel dizzy, probably from the blood loss. Thinking quickly, she used his knife to slice off part of his black cloak and pressed it to her side, in enough time to hear the sound of Blondie's plan coming to fruition. She watched logs slam into ankles and trip up cloaked figures, and there were two ways to take advantage of that. One: attempt, in her weakened state, to fight more of them. Two: get the hell out of there. "Run!" she shouted to the lot of them, hoping that at least a few would be smart enough to heed her. Who knew how many more of these goons the sound of this fight would attract? If she'd had this much trouble dealing with one, she didn't want to imagine another, or, heaven help them, two at once.


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#, as written by echored
While Flin waited as patiently as he could for someone else to say something, he couldn’t help but notice a man flying down from the roof of a building across the street from where this group had collected. Really there is no way Flin could have not noticed that. How convenient, a distraction for our guards here, Flin thought, his eyes flinching as he watched the man tumble to the ground. As he picked himself up Flin noticed that despite the armor around this man’s forearms, he looked relatively modern in his attire... Another one of us, Flin thought passively, already at the point of blindly accepting what crazy shit was going on in this new place. Well, maybe not quite so ready for the hooded group of men that appeared from the same roof this guy jumped from. Their clothing made them just as medieval as the guards and yet something told Flin these two groups were not on the same team. The glint of light from the moon shined off their swords and blades as they too jumped from the top of the building and landed in a roll. Night, something that came all too soon.

The first guy that fell was definitely running towards their group. “Hell no,” Flin muttered, already seeing where this was going. And it was going no where pleasant.

On the guards side, out of no where it seemed, they had another member. His presence was... to put it simply, intimidating. Massive in body muscle and height, with beady orange eyes, he definitely claimed top authority. Flin reached forward to place his hand on Marliana’s shoulder to pull her back several feet since she was in the front, as well to direct the rest of the group back a few feet from the oncoming clash. Over his own shoulder Flin made a brief eye contact with Leander, who herself was giving sideways glances at the others in her nonchalant demeanor. They only had seconds before they were about to be involved. As for the hooded figures, Flin was beginning to think that they wanted their ‘kind’ for captives, or trophies of some sort.

“Take them alive if you can! And kill the soldiers!” a voice called out from the back of the hooded men, his voice deep and damn threatening. Well that proves that theory.. The thought wasn’t comforting at all. He would fight, and for once he was actually feeling safer aiding the side of the guards. He counted on them to survive this mess. At least they had compromising skills. Within seconds the two guards that showed up on horseback had been killed by these armed figures, a bloody arrow through each of the mens’ head. Flin’s vision immediately shot upwards, catching sight of one man still on the roof with a bow and arrow. “Damn!” Flin shouted rather impressed by the ambush, but he knew this was no joke, he knew the seriousness of their situation. He had found himself in many fights before on the streets. Once he had even been shot in the leg. All in all he knew had to defend himself, but here.. it was different here. He would have to fight with weapons he didn’t necessarily have any experience with. Hell, arrows?! And all this depended on if he could even get his hands on one since all he had on him were clothes and his possessed sunglasses that brought him to this world-- or had some part in it.

Sebastian had picked up a sword from one of the fallen guards whose blood began to build a gradual puddle. Nox ran towards a stack of logs tied up in the distance. The classic cartoon trick where everyone tried to dodge the logs. Too much was taking place at once, Flin finding it hard to decide which direction he should pay most attention to. Plus he needed a weapon. There was an extra sword on the ground, and Flin found himself diving for it in a roll as he watched a hooded figure eyeing it. Luckily Flin made it in time to claim it; on the downside the hooded figure now focused all his energy into bringing Flin down. His reflexes jerked his body to the side, merely avoiding a blunt kick to the head as the hooded figure above him tried to knock him out. Instead of meeting contact with Flin’s head, his leg swung out further-- Flin took this to his advantage and swung the sword he acquired down onto the exposed ankle of his foe. It sliced his foot off right below the cut off line, blood projecting a splash pattern on to Flin’s face and clothes. Flin fumbled to stand himself up as the hooded figure fell to both knees, gripping the severed limb. Flin couldn’t help but stair for a moment in silence at what he just did, his eyes glancing at the now bloody blade. Being caught up in his few seconds of shock, Flin didn’t notice the hooded man on the ground making a signal to the sky... more specifically, to the man on the roof.

A splitting, unbearable pain shot up Flin’s back arm as an arrow sliced through his skin from behind. The arrow’s blade missed a bone but there was enough skin surface area for the weapon to get lodged into a chunk of his skin. The pain was nearly as bad as the bullet that had once been in his leg, both a lingering physical object that would have to be removed. This case might even be worse depending on the types of medicine they had in this city. No audible words escaped his lips besides low groans depending on how he moved his arm- plus he could see the narrow wooden stem sticking so conveniently out of his skin above his elbow. What words he couldn’t mutter made up for the waterfall of cuss and slang words running through his head. The arrow had hit his right arm, the one that had most of the swords support. The long steel blade fell from his arm, clinking against the stones beneath him. The hooded figure that was now missing a foot crawling towards the sword. Flin was done for without a...

Out of the corner of his eye he saw a dagger rolling towards him, the one that Leander had freed from the hooded man attacking her. If she knew she had just saved his life he probably would never hear the end of it. Without hesitation, Flin took the blade with his unwounded arm, gripping the bar with his left hand. He had no spare time to ponder whether or not his aim would be affected by not using his dominant hand, he just had to go with the flow before that sword did any more damage. The dagger swung with force into the torso of the hooded figure on the ground, the sword falling to the cobblestones once more. Flin left the dagger in the man’s chest, his hand trembling. He had never killed anyone before, and never had an arrow in his arm before.

“DAMMIT!” he screamed, clenching his right arm and yet flinching all in the same because it hurt everywhere his fingers could rest. No one was freed up to take the object from his arm and he wasn’t for sure if there was a proper way to remove such a weapon. Tiny droplets of blood began to seep from the entry area around the wound. To top off his situation it seemed Marliana and Nox managed to free the logs from their hold, and one was heading right towards him. Flin braced for impact, unsure if he was going to be able to jump the rolling weight. However, Marliana put herself in front of it. Flin was about to feel terrible in a guilty way, until he noticed she was able to kick the log in a different direction with what seemed to be such ease. His surprise in her strength distracted him from his pain for a few seconds but soon there was no denying it. He needed the arrow out ASAP before he lost his mind.

Sadly Flin knew he was now of no more aid to the fight. He had to remove himself from the central area and out of any direct view quickly or else he would only be in the way. The logs were another issue, so it was best to go to the outskirts. His legs held in strong and he managed to run quickly. A brief glance around allowed him to spot eyes on Leander who was also running from the oncoming logs. Flin continued to run in her direction, stopping only when he finally caught up to her. He couldn't give a straight answer why he chose her to follow- but he felt he could relate to her the best. The two ended up in an area shadowed by looming buildings. Good, out of sight from the man on the roof. His eyes immediately scanned Leander to check her state- he noticed the blood on her hands, and the pressed cloth against her side torso. She had been injured. Blood. The blood was bothering him more so than he thought. He had some strangers blood over his shirt and now his own beginning to form from the arrow. Neither were in good condition. And it would only get worse once the arrow is removed.

“Get it out of me, get it out!” he pleaded, his left hand shaking frantically, his face panicked. Of course it was Leander, so he still managed to twist his features just enough to where it might look comical. He couldn’t freak her out too badly or be that much of a downer. Flin even managed a weak smirk as his eyes became glossy. “Please... I don’t know if there is any way to take it out, but every time I move I feel it stabbing further in,” he said, stepping closer to her. At any other time he would try and find the silver lining. But the fact was that the battle was still going on, and there could be more hooded people on the way. The two soldiers/guards that were left held their ground. Every part of him ached as he watched. His damn sunglasses were the only thing unscathed by the fight, planted firmly in place in his hair above the forehead. His eyes shifted to the floor now, spitting to his side to keep him occupied until he could convince Leander to rip the arrow from him or at least find someone who could. Through clenched teeth he kept his voice low but still tense, "...are you okay, by the way?"


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Two men had fallen by the Captain's hands before the rabble had even reached the group but it would not be enough for just him to take them on and he knew it. And then Kali was beside him, the strangers left to fend for themselves as the bulk of the attackers charged suicidally towards a spiralling storm of slicing steel, earning themselves a massacre on a grande scale. Any animosity between the two soldiers there was forgotten as they synchronised actions, swords gliding past each other with perfect control, coming so close to grazing each other that it appeared to be nothing more than luck that left the pair uninjured by their own weapons. In reality it was just the mind of soldiers knowing each other's movements and fighting style, a perfect team capable of destroying an army.

His primary mission was to keep himself and his Lieutenant alive. The other two soldiers were dead, or close enough to it, and the others here were strangers. Yes, it was his job to protect citizens of Eronnis no matter what their background, but that wasn't possible if he was dead so until the tide of rushing bodies was thinned he would look out only for himself and his friend. He heard another arrow cut the air but it connected with someone else, no distraction. He heard shouts, cries of pain, tearing flesh. And soon the thunder of rolling logs hurtling towards him. He turned, shortsword slicing through cloth and skin alike, to see the oncoming assault of building materials. He saw the golem pick up his Lieutenant and his blade rose to strike her down, instead being knocked from his hand by a hooded figure who yelled his triumph. Before the man beneath the hood could so much as raise his weapon again he received a backhanded fist to the side of his jaw, splintering the joint like a blow from a blacksmith's hammer.

The man fell to the ground as though he'd already been struck by a log and by the time Loger had turned to attack the golem who, apparently, had abducted Kali, he was greeted instead by a view of the rolling wood and a screaming figure with an axe above their head. It swung down but he easily stepped to the side and watched as the momentum of the swing took the person into a doubled over state and they soon earned an elbow to the back of the head. Now lay on the floor, they provided a perfect kick-step for the soldier, who stepped back before taking a short run, placing his foot between the shoulderblades of his would-be executioner, and launching himself over the first obstacle that bounced down the street towards him.

Sebastian watched as the gang of hoodies marched across the open ground towards them, sword raised and trembling in the light of the moon. The air was clear, the sky was open and it was chilly as well as bright. But he had no time to appreciate the beautiful night sky because all too soon the first opponent was upon him, striking with a viscious blow from a mace that knocked back the teacher's newly acquired weapon and caused it to smash into his shoulder, sending him sprawling to the floor, elbows and back landing hard on the cobbles and blade sent skittering into the shadows behind him.

In a wave his body landed on the floor, finishing with his head, a hit that delivered extra blur to his already poor vision. It was only then that he realised he'd left his glasses on the bedside table and managed to put a finger on what was so wrong about the situation. Well, aside from the obvious. He seemed unable to move at his usual speed, feeling slowed down as he rolled over and found himself faced with the gloves he'd found, realising too that he'd dropped those when he lunged for the sword that had proven so useless to him. Without knowing why, though it was most likely a side effect of the rather savage knock to the head, he reached out and grabbed them just before he was dragged to his feet and carried off by hands beneath each arm.

As he was being kidnapped he heard, vaguely, the crazed lunatic from the haybail yell in either anger or pain, he couldn't tell which from this distance. And then he was lifted, vision filled with brown and face itching with bristles. He was being slung up over the back of a horse. Voices shouted but he couldn't concentrate on them, he could concentrate on nothing besides the growing pain in his skull. He wished he wasn't there, he wished that the horse would turn tail and bring him somewhere safer. Miraculously, it did.

As though hearing his thoughts the animal trotted in a half circle and started galloping off, much to the annoyance of those who had ridden it here. It was all Sebastian could do to hold on, laying across it's back on his front with his legs dangling over one side and his hands gripping onto the bottom of the saddle on the other. It started jumping and with his face planted firmly against the leather saddle he had a reasonable view of what appeared to be logs rolling away behind his short-haired saviour.

The Captain saw none of this, concentrating on his own battle and now the logs. Without the aid of a horse he had to leap them himself, something he pulled off well enough. He took the last at a vault and landed in a crouch, head turning in a quick arc and eyes taking in the full view of the scene. The logs had been the last straw it seemed and any figures who were neither dead nor crippled on the ground were retreating. The archer on the rooftop decided on one last arrow and took his aim. It was futile, Loger saw it coming and simply threw himself back on one side, feeling the force of it glide harmlessly past his shoulder. By the time his eyes flew back up the figure was gone and the final few were hurling themselves onto horseback in a bid to escape. Catain Kronis would not give chase, the sounds of battle were loud enough for the other guards in the area to hear, they would most likely be apprehended. Though they remained fugitive for this long he thought.

It was his final thought on the matter of the escapees. For now he had to deal with those who were still alive here, those who had apparently been the targets. However as he looked around he saw no one dangerous. In fact, these people were, for the most part, incompetent in battle. Why anyone would go to the effort of sending such brutal killers after them was the greatest riddle of all. Even the golem he had assumed to be dangerous seemed to only be concerned for Kali's safety. His mind was torn, he didn't know whether to gather up the group and put them in the cells or take a look at the deceased who had come to take them.

It was a tough decision but it was made quickly. In a few strides he reached a prone figure that motionless on the ground, limbs decidedly broken from the position of them, and pulled the hood back with his boot. There, on the ground beneath him, was clearly a man from the frozen North, his hairless skull tattooed with runes and ancient writings was traditional of the moutain villages that practiced obscure religions. But the truly unsettling feature was easily the most recognisable. It was a large 'X' on his forehead, a scar which had been seared into the skin with a brand he himself had wielded on ocassion. It was dead man, one condemned to death by the judge. If he had yet to be executed he should have been rotting away in a jailcell somewhere. But he was not an escapee from Jarvaise, no one escaped Jarvaise prison. Besides, the rumours were that these dark figures had arrived from out of town just before the gates were locked. He checked the next, and one more to be sure. Two men and a woman with feline features. All condemned.

The horse came to a standstill near the scattered group and Sebastian slid backwards off it, struggling to keep his balance on the uneven cobbled street. He wasn't sure why the horse had decided to bolt away from the people, or things, that had brought it here but he would be grateful. And considering those were murderers who had killed soldiers in cold blood, he assumed they wouldn't report a stolen horse to the local authorities. Which meant it was his to keep. Not likely, what the hell do you know about horses?

"Gather round citizens!" It was the same voice that had startled him from the shadows only a couple of minutes before, the giant soldier who was most certainly not to be messed with. "And I assure you if any of you try to run from me you will find yourself joining the unceremonious burial of your assassins here."

His voice was cold and calm, with only a hint of breathlessness, despite his battle. He sounded in control and Sebastian was glad that he had arrived when he did. He was one of the few Londeners who did not despise the police, a rare find indeed. Which is why he had no problem at all with staggering his way over and standing, swaying a little but otherwise fine, near Captain Kronis.

"You are to follow Lieutenant Reshma here, she will take you to the barracks in the North tower. You'll stay there tonight." He then turned to adress Kali personally. "They will all stay there, on the first floor, and not one of them is to leave until I say otherwise. There is plenty of space now the soldiers have been dispatched to the East. Any still there can be moved to the ground floor." Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out a squashed scroll that had torn a little down one side. "Your orders, Lieutenant." He paused, giving some thought as he held them out for her. "There are details that will have to be discussed. I shall meet you in the barracks tonight. No one else goes in except me." He grabbed her wrist when she reached for the scroll and pulled her close, leaning down so he could whisper in her ear without anyone hearing. "I don't know who I can trust anymore. Keep a low profile." He flicked his eyes towards one of the corpses that littered the street, hoping she would look and understand.

People soon started arriving, coming out of inns and homes alike to inspect the scene. Captain Kronis walked away, arms held up to bring attention to him as he ordered people back inside.


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Leander ran as fast as her aching side would allow her, which truthfully wasn’t nearly as fast as on a normal day. Her blood was still soaking into the cloak fragment, and the injury pulled every time she moved the corresponding leg, which as it turned out was fairly often. The young woman gritted her teeth together to keep from making any noise as the pain lanced through her torso. It felt suspiciously like being burned by hot metal, and she knew she was going to need some form of treatment.

Shades caught up with her, and at first she didn’t see the shaft of an arrow sticking out of the crook of his arm, because the injury was on his other side. Eventually, the two of them managed to duck behind a building, and stood leaning against the siding. Lee was panting, not from the exertion but the pain, but now that she got a better look at him, it seemed that Shades was even worse off than she was.

“Get it out of me, get it out!” His tone was frantic, and she with great reluctance pushed herself off the rather comfortable (all things considered) wall and moved to get a look at what he was talking about. She caught sight of the projectile protruding from his arm and bit her lip. Damn, that really didn’t look good. “Please... I don’t know if there is any way to take it out, but every time I move I feel it stabbing further in,” Oh, well that was lovely, wasn’t it?

Normally, she would question the wisdom of removing it, because however much it hurt right now, Leander was not a trained medical professional and they did not have the supplies here to make removing it safe, especially since that would only cause him to bleed more. Still, however bad it looked, she was almost certain it had not hit some kind of artery, which meant he wouldn’t die… but that was assuming treatment. Still, there was no way it was a good idea to let the thing drive itself further in, regardless of anything else. Plus, even though he was doing his best to look like he wasn’t all that concerned, his words betrayed him, and she knew it wouldn’t be good to risk him trying to pull it out himself.

She chanced a glance at Shades’s expression and frowned. His eyes were glazing over. That was never good, was it? “All right, chill for a second here Shades. I’m going to pull it out, but I need you to relax your arm as much as possible. Tensing up will only make it more painful,” she explained in her usual modulated tones. Like when someone sticks you with a needle, only more lethal. “This is going to hurt,” she warned him, not really wanting to give him false hope but also trying not to freak him out any more than necessary.

Hopefully the fact that she still managed to sound rational, coherent, and calm would be of some assistance. How she was managing that, she couldn’t say for sure, but Leander wasn’t the sort of person that panicked often. Quite the opposite; usually people complained that she didn’t feel enough, as though logic were a sign of emotional stuntedness. In her case, it probably was, but it was serving her well right now, and she wasn’t about to question it. She didn’t even hear him inquire as to how she was doing, which was fortunate, because she might have laughed, and that would perhaps have been inappropriate for the gravity of the situation.

As fast as she could while still being careful, she gripped the shaft of the arrow as close to the wound as she dared and tugged. Luckily, the head was no barbed, and after the initial resistance, it came out clearly, along with a profusion of Shades’s blood. Damn, now I need something to bandage him with… Her eyes fell on the brilliantly-red scarf about her neck, and she sighed inwardly. She really did like it, but right now, it didn’t matter. Tugging it off, she made sure it was clean of all hair and such before wrapping it tightly around his arm. It was probably cleaner than anything else around here, including his shirt, which had been her first choice until she noted that it was covered in someone’s blood.

Tying the red fabric off in a secure knot, she went back to applying pressure to her own wound in enough time to give Shades a cocky smile that would not give away how shaky she felt at the moment. The Professor chose that moment to show up half-astride a horse, and Leander backed up a few paces. She’d had a bad accident with a horse when she was sixteen, and though she’d been a damn good rider before that, she now refused to be within ten feet of one if she could avoid it.

Before any of them could say anything about the addition of the third to the group, though, they heard a voice urging them to work their way back to the place they’d just come from. Leander instinctively bristled; she didn’t take well to orders, but one look at Shades was enough to convince her that this might be the best idea for now. These people probably had access to real medical care, or at least whatever passed for it around here, and she knew if she didn’t convince him to go, Shades was unlikely to do so on his own. She might dislike being told what to do, but she figured him for outright paranoid around government types. “Come on, Shades. We need to get that arm of yours looked at, and I don’t much fancy fighting Captain Stabby over there.” Oh yeah; he needed a new name all right.

"You are to follow Lieutenant Reshma here, she will take you to the barracks in the North tower. You'll stay there tonight." Leander tried really, really hard not to make a smart remark. She succeeded partially, but she couldn’t resist an internal snipe. Oh will we now, you high-and-mighty pompous- she shook her head. This was not important right now.

“Yes, okay, fine,” she said aloud, resisting the urge to throw him a mocking salute. Were his eyes… orange? She brushed the thought aside. Half the people here looked weird, and that was hardly the point right now. “But my friend here needs to get treated for his injury.” Technically, she wasn’t doing all that well herself, either, but figured that clean water and some bandages would be sufficient in her case. And some sleep, because she was seriously tired right now.


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Marlaina tore away at the remaining wood, and the logs rolled free of their confinement. Nox watched as the golem was forced to divert one from hitting Flin, and he rather hoped that this had been a good idea. Still, it seemed for the most part as though the oldest trick in the book was still new here. Perhaps the book had not yet been written wherever they were? The thought was oddly amusing, but now was not really the time, so Nox instead tried to determine exactly what he should do next.

Not that there wound up being much of a choice. Apparently, the combination of the two soldier-types shredding through them and the resistance put up by the much less-practiced Earthlings was just about enough for the hooded assailants, and Nox released a heavy sigh of relief as they departed, apparently intent for the moment on escaping rather than staying to fight. Good- the fewer people hurt, the better, in his humble estimation of the facts. Nox himself picked his way back over to where the group had been standing before the attack and found the clothes he'd had to abandon to run to the woodpile. They weren't any the worse for wear, but he was scarcely concerned about that.

Leander and Flin had disappeared, as had Sebastian, so he wasn't exactly sure what was going on there. He'd heard the woman's call to retreat, and while it had likely been the best idea, he'd been temporarily blocked by his own trap and unable to follow. By the time he would have managed it, the men in cloaks were fleeing anyway. He was certain he'd have no idea where to find them anyway, but he did hope they'd know it was safe and come back soon. Without much in the way of options for the moment, he approached Marliana and the dark-hued woman.

Truthfully, he wasn't exactly sure how to take what he'd seen of Marliana's... abilities in battle. Some of what he'd seen her do was undoubtedly cruel at best, but at the same time he was almost certain that she had no way of knowing that. Whether or not she was truly a machine now was debatable as far as he was concerned, but she certainly had been before, and what did machines know of cruelty or mercy or what constituted excessive force? No, those were human concepts- well, humanoid ones anyway, since he was fairly certain that neither of the two guards was exactly human.

His brow furrowed in consternation when he saw the crack in the golem's leg. "You've been injured," he pointed out with concern. Both the words and the sentiment were probably useless, all things considered, as it was doubtful that she felt pain or had been unaware of her damage. Injured might not even be the right word. He certainly did not know how to repair what had been done, and hoped that perhaps the guards would know somebody that did. Nox was never someone that had had issues with authority figures; he hadn't really known that many for a start, and those that he did know were certainly not any different in his estimation than ordinary people, and he treated them with the same manners he did everyone else.

Turning to the dusky woman (as the male soldier was some distance off at the moment, apparently checking the bodies of the slain for something), Nox offered a smile. "Thank you, erm... I'm sorry, I'm afraid I don't know your rank or how to address you. But I'm quite sure that you and your fellow... guardsperson?... saved our lives, and you have my gratitude." He bowed slightly, more an instinctive gesture than anything else, and caught sight of one of the faces of those killed beneath the cowl. Those markings were most strange, though he knew not what they meant, and the blond man's smile dropped off into the slightest of frowns.

He might have asked about it, but the male guard, who he supposed was probably the higher-ranked one judging from the tone of command his voice carried, asked everyone to return. Well, asked was probably the incorrect term, but Nox didn't mind. It was doubtless a high-stress situation, and at times like those, a little brusqueness was the least of his concerns. It appeared that at the very least, they all had somewhere secure to stay for the evening; he was confident that the rest would work itself out eventually. The people with him, both from his world and this one, seemed a resourceful bunch, and certainly he had no reason to think they were bad people, so there was no reason it shouldn't.

Leander and Flin reappeared, as did Sebastian, Leander requesting medical care for Flin, who had a red sash of some sort ties near one elbow. Personally, Nox thought Leander looked just as bad, holding one hand to her side which was clearly bleeding, but she scarcely seemed to notice. As someone well-familiarized with pain, he had to admire her tolerance for it, and the fact that her voice was still steady. He had been occupied when the tow of them were injured, but he had seen glimpses of them fighting, and had concluded that with the possible exception of the young man (as though Nox were old) who had appeared an heralded the start of this confrontation and of course Marlaina, those two were the most able to hold their own, Leander especially.

It all made him feel rather useless, actually, because in the end he wasn't sure whether his plan had done more harm than good, but he supposed at the very least it was a positive that everyone was still alive. He didn't know what had happened to Chris, but he could only suppose that by leaving, he had avoided the trouble, which was unquestionably a good thing.

Having spent a large portion of his life in hospitals, Nox knew more of medicine than most, but it seemed that for the moment, the two injured were doing things correctly, and so he couldn't offer much to go on. The man in charge called the woman Lieutenant Reshma, though the name was foreign enough to his ears that he did not know if it constituted a given name or a surname. If he had to guess, he'd say the latter, but it didn't really matter. He doubted very much that she'd want anyone addressing her by her firs name alone, so for future reference, he committed the unusual syllables to memory. He would follow without protest as presently it seemed the wisest course to take. He doubted the threat was even necessary, and it certainly made him uncomfortable, but in the end none of that changed the truth of the situation.


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#, as written by echored
It took a couple moments before Leander seemed to fully recognize what Flin had in his arm. Flin paced himself back and forth, his blood rushing to his head as his adrenaline ran its course. A variety of emotions were beginning to surface on his face. Anger, for obvious reasons; edginess, for expecting another attacker to pop up any second, and if you looked close enough, a twinkle of fear in his eyes. As much as Flin mocked death and pain, there was a mask. He didn’t want to die in a place like this. He was meant for the beaches and the sun, to die in the comforts of 90 degree weather. They had been here for less than a day and already came close to death, and things always got worse before they got better. A sigh escaped his throat, peering over to watch Leander come to terms with what he was asking her to do. As she removed her hand from her side to walk closer to him, it was fair to say she had been decently injured by one of those hooded freaks as well.

“I swear, when I found out who did this, they’re going to pay...” Flin raised his voice in a forced ego-filled attempt, his fists clenching for a brief moment before he felt the arrow digging itself further in to the tense muscle. Okay, bad idea to flex.

“All right, chill for a second here Shades. I’m going to pull it out, but I need you to relax your arm as much as possible. Tensing up will only make it more painful... This is going to hurt,” Leander had said, her composure several levels more calm than Flin’s. He had an arrow in his arm after all. He could barely get a consistent thought formed without coming to turns with a burning sensation thought was now aching in his legs. But she was right, and her being able to keep a collected expression made it somewhat easier for Flin to breathe. He could feel her hand pressed against his arm, fingers wrapped around the arrow’s shaft. Flin squinted his eyes but couldn’t help but watch her tug, with force, the arrow out of his arm. “Fuuck, OW,” Flin blurted immediately as it exited his skin, and the sight of his blood squirting out didn’t help his stomach. He doubled over, eyes grounded at the dirt below now a blush red.

Leander wrapped a scarf around his wound afterwards, the one from around her neck, its color a deep red which made it hard to see how much blood was actually absorbing. She tied the scarf tightly, and would do for now until they could get a stronger form of bandage--- for both of them.

“Thank you, Leanny, so kind of you,” Flin said sarcastically as if he appreciated the pain, his left hand providing further pressure onto the scarf while he watched Leander go back to putting pressure on her own wound. Her cocky smile made him laugh in almost a grunt sound, but it seemed they both knew they were trying to act better than what they really felt. He was usually the cheeky one, but he’d let her have the last word for this one. There were more important things to question about.

Flin turned to look back in the middle of the street. The logs had either continued rolling further off down the road or had hit against some buildings and stopped their destruction. In the center was the huge guard, the one that appeared out of no where. He was even more intimidating than before, as he now had blood dripping from his weapons and a vicious glare in his eyes. Near him was Marliana who... was holding the female soldier, oddly. On the outskirts were the rest of them- Sebastian sliding off a horse interestingly enough, Nox walking in, the roof-flying stranger, and then there was Leander and himself.

“Come on, Shades. We need to get that arm of yours looked at, and I don’t much fancy fighting Captain Stabby over there.” He could hear Leander motion, and Flin nodded hesitantly. She was right, if anyone was going to be able to provide him a quick fix for his arm and someone for her hip, then this guard should have the connections. “If they try to run science tests on us, just know that I told you so,” Flin said as he walked with Leander back to the group’s gathering, unsure about being so out in the open now under the moon’s light. Flin flinched as he saw the building that the arrow-man was a top of. His eyes then fell on the newcomer, the man that had jumped from the roof top. Flin had nearly forgot about him, but how could he not focus on the guy now? If it wasn’t for him, those hooded figures would probably have never found them. Flin had to bite his tongue to prevent himself from all but shouting at the man. Lucky for that guy, Flin was too drained to start a public accusation against the stranger.

"You are to follow Lieutenant Reshma here, she will take you to the barracks in the North tower. You'll stay there tonight.” It was an order by the sound of his voice, an order that Flin wouldn’t try to disobey whether he wanted to or not. The carnage surrounding them was proof enough he was no soldier to mess with. At the same time, Flin resented the demand. Were they walking into some kind of dungeon without knowing so?


Kali looked into the Golem’s lenses, blackish red blood dripping a stark contrast against the glowing light of her crystal blue irises. Kali was fearless up against nearly anything she’d ever had to fight and yet being held in such a vulnerable position in the Golem’s arms made the bottom of her lip tremble. “Kali? Did it hurt you?” Marliana asked innocently. It was clear the Golem had no concept of the strength she embodied or the acts she just committed. To kill without a hint of emotion exposed- it was something she had only seen one time before in someone else, and it was no Golem. An all in all eerie feeling to be faced with again. It took Kali a few seconds to respond.

“I hurt them, Golem. Can you be so kind as to put me down so I can stand?” she asked formally, and the sound of her voice brought her back to ground. Her dark features tightened and her deep navy eyes seemed more black than before. The damage done to her body was promptly pushed into the back of her mind as Marliana set her down. Kali nodded a brief thanks, odd coming from her cold expression but genuine enough. Her eyes locked onto the Captain and she made her way to his side, graceful in her steps despite the cuts up her leg, silent as a cat. While she made it over to the Captain, she watched as he removed the hood from one of the attackers. The dead man’s face was covered in ancient writings and symbols, known to be from Northern heritages. And then there was the X, a mark Kali knew very closely seeing as how she has carved the X into many criminals sent for executions. What could it mean? As the Captain checked two others, they too had the execution X.

Kali shifted the weight of her legs, head turning to the side to scan the injured citizens. Her posture was haunting. This was a strange day. Normally, days like this entertained her, allowed the skilled fighter to do what she does best. The frustrating thing about today was that this strangeness wasn’t entertaining. Something big was brewing and even the Captain’s face hinted that his was something more than the usual.

Once Captain Kronis was done giving his orders to those gathered, he turned to her personally.

"They will all stay there, on the first floor, and not one of them is to leave until I say otherwise. There is plenty of space now the soldiers have been dispatched to the East. Any still there can be moved to the ground floor." He said, and as he spoke Kali watched him pull out a scroll- even it had been dealt damage during the fight. She hoped she’d be able to read it seeing as how even with unharmed notes, the Captain’s writing was a bear to decipher. "Your orders, Lieutenant. There are details that will have to be discussed. I shall meet you in the barracks tonight. No one else goes in except me." The Captain grabbed her wrist, leaning down and finished his orders by whispering, "I don't know who I can trust anymore. Keep a low profile."

His orange eyes dropped down to the dead assassin and then back to her again. She had a feeling she knew what he was referring to. Kali nodded silently, not a word to add. She watched as the Captain began to walk away, back in the direction of the castle. Inside she wanted to tear the man on the ground apart into tiny shreds, but she knew it’d cause an unnecessary show. Instead she settled on kicking the corpse in the side, smirking at the body and then looked towards the rest of the group.

“Come on, you heard the Captain. You can rest in the towers for the night, fortunately for you all. Seems there are bigger fisher to fry,” Kali said, her tone in a hiss like a snake, and yet smooth as honey. She listened while Leander chimed in about Flin needing medical assistance. She cut her off mid sentence, giving the two a look of one that didn’t care. Still, they were castle guests, for now. “No questions, those injured can use the infirmary when we get there. The rest, straight to the barracks.”

She nodded to the group and began to follow in the direction the Captain went, feet flicking with control against the cold stone. She didn’t wait to round everyone up like chicks. Those that followed knew what was best for them, and she would find the ones that didn’t obey.

Marliana found comfort by Nox, watching him with eager eyes to see what the rest were going to do next. The damage to her shin was now beginning to show its effects, her hair flenching occasionally in odd directions, wires throughout her core measuring the cut cords. It didn’t know how to fix the malfunction in the ceramics. “Nox, can you fix this?” she asked mechanically, pointing down to her injury. She wasn’t in pain, but yet she felt she should be.


Time: Night
Location: Eronnis, East

The sun had set over the looming ocean. From Rowan’s window she could see the last of the seagulls dipping in and out of the moon’s light, and the gentle tide of waves splashing the shore in silent grace. The building was located on a cliff in a secluded town in the East, far from the main merchant city where ships came in from afar, the same shores she arrived on more than thirty years ago. There was a knock at this time at her door, the knock every night that beckoned her to come out and join the darkness. Inside, the room she currently housed was dim, yellow fluorescent lamps covered in sheer black scarves. Clothes cluttered the floor and incense burned from every corner. Between her fingers was a half-burned paper roll of tobacco, which she inhaled up against her blood red lips, permanently stained that color. She wore a cream nightgown, one of her favorites with lace trim and a romantic drape that hung perfectly against her supple curves and slim waist. Rowan’s iconic red hair laid in waves against her back, the length unchanged since her turn as a vampire.

The knock came again. She smirked at the eagerness of her comrades. Within seconds Rowan had the door opened, faster than the man before her could bring his fist down from his knock.

“Luron,” she purred seductively, watching as the man before her blushed humbly. The same routine every night. She was surprised he kept coming back. “Come in,” she offered, her eyes as red as the fire that burned at the tip of her rolled drug. With one final hit she threw the butt outside the door. Luron took concentrated steps inside, Rowan shutting the door without a sound behind him.

”My.. my..lady, just as beautiful as, as ever,” he stuttered, which Rowan could easily forgive seeing as how her presence wasn’t easy to ignore. She had that way of clouding someone’s thoughts, making them tremble the longer they hung around her. Luron sat down on a suede couch, his arms stretching out along the rims of the couch’s top. Rowan made her way over to where he sat, his eyes in a daze. He was her pet after all. She sat coolly on his lap, her cold hands stretching up and arms his neck. Her long nails brushed the ends of his hair as she gazed at him. She could hear his heart pounding under his chest, could smell the warmth of his blood running through the length of his body. It was so... inticing.

“Any new, exciting news that happened today while I was resting, Luron?” she asked playfully, a the while humming a tune that could haunt one for life. Luron shook his head, his breath soft as it filled the air around her. Rowan frowned at his answer, wondering when those in Jarvaise wouldn’t finally get the balls to make the trip out her to the East. She and others in the rebellion had purposefully increased action and yet still no sign of an army... no sign of who Rowan was looking for.

“That’s just too bad, hm?” she said rhetorically, her lips pouting.
Don’t worry, m’lady. I’m here, Luron said, almost unknowingly for he was so far mesmerized by Rowan to pull himself out of the mind control. Her pet, her puppet. And his words were enough to bring a smile back to her calm features.

“You’re right...” and with that said, Rowan bared her fangs for a mere second before she found herself digging them into the left side of Luron’s neck. The warm blood poured down her throat, the effects from the feeding immediate. It was a very passionate ordeal, blood-sucking and all. It aroused both the bitten and the biter. His arms wrapped along her back, small moans escaping Luron’s mouth as he was both in pain and yet pleading for her to keep feeding. He had been chosen about a week ago to be Rowan’s blood source during the times she couldn’t go out and feed, such as during the daylight and around this time when she was hungry from waiting all day. It was in all honesty very convenient. Too bad she only held on to a pet for about a week before they were no good to feed off of anymore. He was about drained and she could sense it. This time there would be no more coming and going. She finished him off, drinking until the very last drop of blood leaked from his wound. Rowan pulled back, licking her lips as his limp body fell dead against her couch.

Rowan lifted his body between her arms, kicking open the door that led to the outside. With a simple toss she through him over the porch balcony, watching as his body smashed against rugged rocks below. A sound to her right pulled her attention away from what was left of Luron, reflexes quick spotting another man. He was leaning up against the stone siding of the building, dressed in a black cloak with his arms crossed against his chest. She could smell who it was without having to see his face.

“Well, if I must say so myself, Rowan, he could have lasted a bit longer,” the man joked sarcastically, his voice deep and dark.. music to her ears.

“Colvon, it’s a pleasure to find you here,” she said faintly, Rowan still riding off of a major head buzz from the blood she just drank. Only those that dared to face her at this time knew the risk they were taking. Her power was coursing through her own veins, her own tainted blood. She walked patiently over to this partner of hers, one of the main leaders in the rebellion. The two were in charge here in the rest, other key leaders scattered in the North, South and West- none yet in the center of the Kingdom which Rowan planned on changing very shortly.

Standing about an inch or so away from his ear, Rowan whispered something. Colvon nodded accordingly, pushing himself up from the wall he was leaning against.

“Let’s go and see,” he said, his voice sharper than the sword at his hip. He walked in front, down the steps of the building into the large courtyard full of tents and gathered rebels. Rowan ran inside her room, changed into a knee-length black dress that screamed killer, and stepped into the courtyard behind Colvon before he even noticed she had left. When he turned his head and noticed her change in attire, there was no flinch of surprise. He merely raised an eyebrow and nodded, continuing to lead her into the night.


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With a good portion of the soldiers in the city in the process of marching out towards the Eastern Baronies, Captain Kronis couldn't help but wonder, for the first time in his professional career, if he'd made a mistake. The arrival of these hooded figures, through the rumours at least, had coincided almost perfectly with the first reports of serious social upheaval. But surely it was just a rumour, he had thought at the time. He'd been wrong. But that didn't mean he'd made a mistake with his decision to send so much of the city's protection away, did it? A proud man he may have been, the Captain still knew where the line was between arrogance and efficiency. He could admit when he'd made a mistake but admitting he was wrong was something else entirely, especially when there were potentially lives at stake. He simply couldn't afford to think that way.

And so it was with a frown etched upon his face that he summoned over the two mounted guards that rounded the corner and gave them orders to keep any and all civilians away from the scene, then setting about conducting a thourough investigation while the group was led away by Kali. He checked every face of every body, assessed every weapon, noted any familiarities, analysed any clues to individual's origins. And for the life of him, the only factors that bound one corpse to the next was a distinct lack of low-grade armaments and that damned 'X' burned into their forehead.

That last fact was so deeply disturbing that he knew he would not rest until the mystery was cleared. Condemned men did not escape. Those who did were rounded up soon enough if they made their way towards any kind of civilisation, or cursed to exile if they didn't. Which of course only left one option - They were set free. By whom was the question he needed to answer. The only people with such authority were higher than him in the chain of command, a worrying enough thought without even considering that the targets were a seemingly innocent group of foreigners, albeit strange ones. But a pardon wasn't the only way out of a jail cell. Breakouts weren't easy or common but they had been done, although very rarely on those held in such tight security. That said, the extent of the chaos in the East was far greater than he had expected it would become, possibly enough to overpower the soldiers stationed there and over-run the prison. Well, he needed to find out which, and sitting here in Jarvaise wasn't going to help him out. He had given his own orders and was needed within the city walls but this was big and until the culprit was found he could trust no one.

Leaving the guards with orders to cordon off the area and call for mages in the morning to attempt to trace the origins of the dead, Captain Loger Kronis fetched up his fallen equipment and made off for the North tower to put his new plans into action.


Sebastian half listened as the dark female soldier rounded them up and started leading them away. His mind was focused on less important things, nothing even to do with the battle he had just been through. He wondered if there would be coffee here in this new land. He wondered if he'd be able to sleep tonight. Certainly not if he had a coffee, but maybe that would be for the best, he had a feeling it might help with the crushing headache that was setting in. He wondered if there would be books in the barracks and whether he would ever be able to read them. It seemed unlikely without an optician and so far as he could see, no one here wore glasses. He wondered mostly if he had suffered concussion upon his fall to the ground and a close look at his glazed eyes, uneven puils and the slick, red patch in his blonde hair would confirm he had. As though his strange calmness wasn't enough of a giveaway, he also started humming mildly to himself as he strolled through the night air, a tune he couldn't quite place words to but one that was familiar and oddly soothing. He wondered if he'd ever get back home and how he had got here in the first place.

Maybe I'm dead... The thought occured to him for the first time. Maybe this is the afterlife. I died in my sleep and now here I am in an afterlife that no one managed to get right. It was longshot, there were only a handful of them here after all. But maybe everyone who arrived here just settled in. Maybe there were other places and the luck of the draw had just brought them here.

Whatever the case was, Sebastian wasn't able to ponder it much longer. His head was quickly starting to feel as though a spike were being driven through it and placing a hand on the back of his skull was the first sign he found of a severe head injury. The sticky liquid that was present in worrying abundance could be nothing but blood and whether it was the thought of a laceration to the head or a delayed effect of the head injury, he started feeling nauseous. He went pale and stayed quiet, wanting badly to get some sleep and wake up back in his own bed. If I'm not dead that is

He said not a word on the journey to the near corner of the city, the tower that would serve them all as a room for the night. He said not a word as they were led through a heavy, locked door, up the winding staircase and through another door, passing a few soldiers who gave them all quizzical looks as they went. It was only when they were all inside that he spoke up for the first time since before the fight had started.

"Could summon look a' m' head?" He addressed Kali, knowing he was in need of a trip to the infirmary, assuming the medical knowledge here didn't still treat head injuries as evil spirits. She fixed him with a hard stare for a few seconds and then looked around at the others.

"Golem, you and your owner stay here. We'll find someone to fix you up in the morning, the guilds are closed up for the night. You with the braces, stay here too. The rest of you come with me." She assumed Nox to be Marlaina's keeper as he seemed to be the one who was fixed to her by the hip, she had stood beside him through the fight in the street and walked beside him the entire way there.

Kali took the injured down to the infirmary where the military doctor checked them out, dressed their wounds, treated them with antiseptic and painkillers (A relatively new discovery in Eronnis and a luxury reserved only for capital cities and the exceedingly rich) before trying to send them all back up to their rooms. Sebastian vomited twice during his examination and was given herbs to settle his stomach and send him sleep. After many ramblings and a few sarcastic comments and a complaint or two, Leander and Flin were given the same treatment.


The next morning, dawn

A click in the lock was the only warning the new arrivals in the land had, sleeping or not, before the door to the first floor barracks burst open and the Captain walked in, a massive chest dragging along behind him. He let the raised side crash to the floor, bringing up a puff of dust, and then set about locking the entrance.

"Everyone up!" he roared, clearly irritated and tired. His eyes were bloodshot and the bags beneath them were dark. "This chest contains civilian clothes for all of you, take your pick and get changed. Lieutenant Reshma, your clothes were retrieved from your home during the night, they are upstairs. You change too then bring this rabble down to the armoury. The updated details of your mission." He handed another scroll to her.. He had intended to arrive the night before and discuss the matters in person but work, as ever, had got in the way. But this time it was not dispatches and paperwork, it was a hunt to find someone who could take his place as Captain while he was away. All his gear was now packed and he was ready to be off. All he had to do was arrange the rabble to be up and out. Their caravan had also been loaded, with supplies for their journey as well a few commodities that would be able to pass as a small scale trading operation - Wine, cloth and a few medicines, things that would not stand out.

The scroll for Kali read as follows:

You are to take the strangers with you to the East coast. They are not safe here and there is no one else I would trust to keep them out of harm's way. A trade wagon will attract little attention and while dressed as merchants you will recieve even less. On your way you are to teach them to defend themselves. I don't know why they are targets right now, and I will not be able to find out if they are not alive. As much as I would like to let them make their own way and prevent any further possibility of death to any soldiers, such as we saw last night, this is a mystery that must be solved. Something big is brewing in Eronnis and I need you to help me reach the bottom of it. Which means I need the truth from these people.

Good luck Lieutenant, I think you may need it where you are going.

He did not mention that he would be leaving Jarvaise too. He did not think it was necessary. He had information of his own to gather, while not in uniform. The techniques he would be using would not be... Of military regulation.

"And be quick about it!" he finished, unlocking the door again and striding out, the lock clicking again when he was out of sight. Paranoia was a demented beast, yet a watchful guardian. He would not let himself be caught unaware.


The dawn arrived but Sebastian slept through it in a deep, dreamless state. The turning of a key and the sliding of a lock mechanism did little to interrupt his drug-induced slumber. The thundering crash of wood on stone however, did. In a second he shot up straight in his bed, still wearing his shirt and longjohns, and tumbled ungracefully over the edge of the uncomfortable mattress, landing in a heap on the floor with a slight knock to his extremely tender head.

"Owww, fuck he muttered, feeling as though he had history's worst hangover. He tried to recall the previous night, eyes squinted closed against the mild light of the early morning. He remembered little, just flashes. Meeting some strangers, stumbling back into bed, a fight! Jesus, what a night he thought, reaching for his glasses on the bedside table. They were gone, as was the table. And then it all came flooding back. The shock, the horror, the pitched battle, the strangers abandoned in a strange land. They hadn't gone home through going to sleep. They had just started another day here in this medieval hell. And it was not a good start to the day, it was all he could do to keep his eyes open even a little while a man the size of a shed yelled orders at them as though it was their fault they had been thrown into this mess.


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Presently, Leander sat in the medical bay, watching the Professor puke his guts out... for the second time. He reminded her of one of those middle-aged guys that comes into a bar thinking he can drink as much as he did when he was twenty-three. Then, four in, he's roaring drunk and decides to annoy the shit out of someone who knows what they're doing. Of course, he's completely ignored, but when he stands up to make his indignant speech about "young people these days" he tips over too far and cracks his head on the bar. Okay, so maybe she'd only ever seen that once. But the point was essentially the same, which was to say that the poor sod was out of it.

The person treating her was young-looking, maybe her age, and male. He was one of those people with gentle-looking eyes, like he had yet to figure out how much of a shithole the world was. She didn't say anything to him, and her face assumed the expression it most often did: perfect apathy. He checked her pulse and measured her breathing somehow, and she wondered if he'd look at her actual wound sooner if she made more of a fuss about it. It still hurt like hell, but Leander was not a stranger to pain. Indeed, they were rather well-acquainted, and friendly at times. Well, as friendly as Leander could be, anyway.

Eventually, she decided she would rather just sleep, and sighed ever-so slightly, lifting her t-shirt halfway up her abdomen to expose the wound just above her hip and raising an eyebrow as if to ask her medic if he was planning on doing anything about this. He took one look and turned a bit red in the face, and she slapped her forehead internally. Great. She had the new guy. An actual doctor would know how to keep his professionalism despite making a mistake. It never crossed her mind that his embarrassment might be because all but one of the guards were male and she was not, which was a good thing. If it had, she probably would have sucker-punched him for being such an idiot.

As it was, her jaw clenched visibly as some form of antiseptic was applied to her cut, the pristine white bandaged wound about her torso to cover the diagonal slice. As soon as he was done, Leander nodded, pulling her shirt back down and hopping off the table she'd been seated upon. The motion twinged a little, but she paid it no heed, instead retracing the path they had taken to get here and picking out a room. She took the one closest to the window at the end of the hall- just in case.

As a result, she was too far away to hear the clicking of the lock mechanism the next morning, even though she was awake. Her sleep had been fine; she just never managed to sleep in that well. Which really sucked when she'd been out the night before, but served her well in most other situations. The Captain's bellowing, she did hear, and frowned. Did he really have to be such an ass about everything? It wasn't as though any of them had asked for this stupid shit to happen to them. Either way, she was the first one out into the hallway, even if she did shoot the man a reproachful glare. This guy needed to figure out that obedience came of two things: respect or necessity. Right now, she did what he said because it was necessary. But she'd be damed seven ways before she respected someone that assumed authority alone was enough to warrant compliance.

She knelt beside his luggage and rummaged through it, knowing already that she was going to miss her jacket something awful. Well, that and her scarf, but she'd already resigned that to doom, being covered in Shades's blood and all. At this distance, though, she noticed something she had not before. Looks like someone pulled and all-nighter. And not his first in recent memory, either. Leander studied his face for just a second, then shook her head minutely. There was something going on here, something that ran deeper than a bunch of strangers showing up in the city and being randomly attacked. Not that she truly believed they had been struck at random. No, that had most definitely been intentional- how could it not be? They stood out like sore thumbs around here. It's not like they'd be mistaken for some other group of people who clearly didn't belong, now was it?

She grabbed a few articles and was back at her door even as he yelled at the lot of them to hurry it up. Ignoring it for the most part (it wasn't like she planned on dawdling, for the love of- whatever), she retreated back inside her room and tried to figure out exactly what she'd procured herself. She'd gone for what looked like it would wear well and take a few hits without impeding movement. Of course, that had been secondary to finding things that looked like they'd fit. In the end, she'd wound up with a dark red tunic-thing, which was short-sleeved, but that didn't matter because there was also a dark grey long-sleeved shirt- linen, if she had to guess- for her to layer underneath. They fit well enough, as did the trousers, though they were somewhat loose. She hadn't mothered with new shoes, seeing as how her boots were just fine, thank you very much, and she tucked the ends of the black pants into them. It was workable, she supposed.

Gathering her voluminous hair up into a tail, she bound it with-yuck- a scarlet ribbon, which had been the only suitable object she could find to do so with. She had a feeling most of her clothes were actually meant for men (it would explain the odd fits in places), but there was no way she'd be caught dead in a dress, plain and simple. Not only were they impractical, they were also annoying. Stepping back into the hall, Leander scanned around for the others, then shrugged and walked over to Lieutenant Reshma. "I don't suppose we're allowed to know what's to become of us?" she asked dryly.


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#, as written by echored
Night, Jarvaise


After being forcefully shoved through a set of old wooden doors, Flin found himself standing at the front of a sterile room, with slick stone walls and a floor to match. Not much has changed in what, a thousand years-- hospitals would always be boring and stark.

“It is just a, um..!” Flin insisted, shaking a finger in the air while two larger guards made sure he was sat down on a bed without wasting too much of their time. He wanted to say it was nothing now, just a scratch. Foreign shiny tools that looked like dentist torture devices surrounded the area they stationed him around. An older woman from across the room made her way over to Flin, a wrinkled smile on her face as she sat down in a chair beside where Flin was sat down.

“Don’t fuss or they might just decide to strap you down while I check out your arm,” the woman insisted, winking in, what Flin took it as, a smug way of saying shut up so you can get out of here. Flin rolled his eyes at her in a futile attempt to rebel, eventually settling on staring at those around the room while he offered his elbow up to be examined. At the treatment station across from him was Leander who looked happily unpleasant as always. She didn’t seem to have the best luck doctor wise, the man helping her looking more than half the age younger than the woman tending to his wound. Knowing this era, age seemed to mean better qualified.

“OW!” Flin yelped as his eyes jerked back down to his arm, head trying to twist around as much as it could over his shoulder to get a better look at the back of his arm. The red scarf was off and the woman-doctor, or nurse, whatever she was- began applying some thick yellow ointment that stung like hell to the hollow entry wound bubbling with blood. He had to clench his left wrist to withstand further noise-making. “About done?” was all he could muster up in a coherent question as white bandages wrapped around his now oiled up arm tightly. Part of him really wondered what they just put on him, seeing as how their medicine was in a whole new ballpark compared to the prescription meds back home. For all he knew, it was some weird animal guts that they drained from a sheep or something.. the self-induced image of a lamb being carved into made Flin nauseous. The sound of Sebastian across the room vomiting didn’t help his cause, and he quickly jerked his arm away from the woman as he reached for the nearest bowl to throw up in. Behind him he could hear the two guards chuckling, and Flin eyed them for a second which caused both to harden their features and grow cold again. The older woman patted Flin’s back with ease and walked around to face him eye to eye.

“Here is something that will take care of the pain. It’s quite effective, the best in the Kingdom,” she boasted, proudly handing Flin a few brown seeds and a vile of milky fluid. Flin felt better after getting sick and gladly set the bowl down to accept the medieval remedies the doctor was handing over. Okay so he wasa being a hypocrite. He didn’t want them touching him but... giving him drugs, he gladly received. Pain relief is pain relief and if they had something that worked, by hell he would use it.. at least to get the high from it. Standing from the bed, he put the supplies in his pocket and joined Leander and Sebastian at the door who were standing next to Kali.

Kali led the three from the medical wing, up a flight of stairs, and into the northern tower that would house them for the night. She opened a large door to reveal behind it a long hallway of rooms. These rooms were makeshift and had no permanent wall or doors. Everything was open, that is how soldiers slept in barracks.

“Pick a bed, get to sleep. Morning comes quick, as soon as the first sound of birds begin their song. Be thankful for the few hours you have,” Kali commanded to everyone now in the room. They all had the same type of clueless acceptance to their faces. It wouldn’t be far off to assume they came from the same land, but then again, on her way to the castle she had heard them talking and each had a different accent from the next. It was fascinating in all the wrong ways. With a strict glare at each of them as they found a bed to claim, she turned towards the door and made her way back out into the stairwell. She locked the door, a precaution to prevent any of them from trying to escape during the night.

Flin could hear the door locking them in like caged animals in a zoo. The lights inside these barracks was all but scarce, with only a candle and a few tiny windows scattered about that could let in the moon. He sat restlessly on his bed for a while, the mattress below him an old one for sure which made a noise every time he turned over. This was his first along time since he’d woken up in this strange place. Maybe they would wake up back home in the morning. Flin rubbed his face, fingers then moving towards his hair to brush it out. The feeling of cool plastic made his eyes widen. The sunglasses... he thought to himself while he removed them from his head and folded them up in his hands. Why they made it to his place with him was still an unanswered question. He debated putting them on but opted not to because it would be too dark to see anything in this room anyway. Maybe if it was sunny in the morning he’d wear them. He shoved them in his pocket which reminded him of the pain reliever. Flin popped the 4 seeds into his mouth and used the milky liquid to swallow them down. It literally took fewer than 2 minutes before Flin found himself knocked out, drooling peacefully against the old mattress supporting him.


Kali took residence in a room the floor above the foreigners. Immediately once she was inside and the door was shut, she retrieved the scroll that the Captain had given her back in the streets when they were amongst the hooded figures. Carefully she unrolled the tattered paper, her dark eyes absorbing every line quickly and efficiently:

For the attention of Lieutenant Reshma only,

The situation in the East has proven to be more than just an inconvenience. My orders are to disrupt the course of action they plan to take and bring the entire uprising to a standstill. News has reached me that no fewer than two dozen small towns and villages have risen up and overthrown the Union soldiers occupying them. To add to the problem marches, protests and riots have broken out in the Eastern Capital. This means that we are almost in a state of war. The only advantage we have in such a situation is that we know they have a clear leader somewhere and they do not yet have the resources to keep him safe.

Your mission is to leave first thing in the morning, in civilian apparel so to avoid all detection. You MUST arrive on the Eastern coast before the soldiers I have sent and gather information leading to the location of this elusive leader of the rebellion. Then kill him. Make it obvious that it was not an accident.

You will have access to any and all military files and movements you so desire through an officer who will go by the name of 'Leech'. He will meet you beside pier 12 in the capital 5 days from now at dusk. You will ask him: 'How goes the fishing?' He will reply: 'We haven't got the bite we've been waiting for'.

You have one week. Good luck.

Captain Loger Kronis.

Kali rolled the scroll up once she was done reading her orders. Like always, it was a classified document meant only for her eyes. It also meant burning the evidence immediately. With a controlled stride over to the bedside table, she observed the candle and the matches. Lighting a match, Kali lit the candle. She then went on to hold the scroll above the candle, watching as it burned brightly into ashes once the ink and paper caught fire. Within seconds there was no record that the scroll ever existed. Every piece of information was retained in her mind, which was a talent it took her years to master completely. The note wasn’t enough information to settle the nerves she was beginning to feel take form in her stomach. Being an assassin didn’t make her worry-proof. There were questions that had answers, answers that she was determined beyond all else to find. The only thing that gave her a clear enough mind to fall asleep was the fact that within the week, all these unknown truths would be realized and the Rebellion would be squashed -- their leader dead by her hands.


Morning, Jarvaise


Flin was dead asleep as the Captain entered the room. The pain relief medicine that the doctor had given him in the infirmary had really worked its magic, the young man sleeping through the night like a little baby. His mouth was wide open as a muffled snore was released. The dropping off the large chest by the Captain only caused Flin to flinch in sleep, rolling over his other side that was facing the opposite way as the Captain. While he seemed sedated in his slumber, the Captain didn’t hesitate to continue speaking,

“Everyone up! This chest contains civilian clothes for all of you, take your pick and get changed...”

Kali had entered the door behind Captain Kronis and was standing in full uniform, straight and poised as any loyal Lieutenant would stand next to their leader. She watched as the chest opened, a bundle of civilian clothes mixes together. Her ears perked up slightly as Kronis turned to face her. “Lieutenant Reshma, your clothes were retrieved from your home during the night, they are upstairs. You change too then bring this rabble down to the armory. The updated details of your mission,” the Captain said, meanwhile handing her another scroll. It was slightly odd to get one so soon from the last, but by the looks of his eyes which were bloodshot, it was clear he didn’t sleep at all. Which meant he spent the night brooding over details and plans. She really worried about him and his health, cared about him. He was her Captain, he in all honest father figure, the only figure she had left in her life to look up since the loss of someone she dared not mention. No matter how many times she bantered about how important sleep was, they both knew it wasn’t so simple to drop everything. Still, he needed to rest eventually. The bags under his eyes would only get larger.

The Captain left the room with a literal bang, “And be quick about it!” his voice carried as the door slammed shut again. A click with the lock made it known that they were locked inside again, to wait to be released. It was this final slam of the door that jerked Flin up from his bed. His eyes were slightly groggy at first but quickly recovered to see the light in the room and everyone standing up. His hair was disheveled in a mess of purple and black, mouth dripping open for a lazy lawn. Kali was standing in the room with her arms crossed, and the rest seemed to be picking through clothes in a chest on the floor. With a grunt Flin rolled himself from the mattress and stretched his arms above his head casually, taking his dear time to wake up fully. He was the last to look in the chest for something new to put on.

“You guys better not have left me with anything ridiculous to wear,” he stated loudly, on purpose, glancing around at the men in the room and then back to the clothes before him. Luckily enough there was still a lot left to pick from. None of the articles had tags or sizes on them so he could only judge by holding up each item to see what would fit. In the end he settled on a pair of brown linen trousers that felt they were made out of cotton or something similar. The shirt was white and long sleeved, a v-cut dip around the chest area that he assumed was to act as a cooling mechanism. The rest he took: A brown leather belt, a a pair of leather sandals, and a green scarf that he tied around his forehead and knotted in a tie around the back of his head. All in all he felt pretty comfortable and had to admit he was glad to change out of his smelly clothes that still had the stench of pig stye. Once dressed he met the rest in the center. None hesitated in dressing.

Leander was the first voice he heard of the day.

“I don’t suppose we’re allowed to know what’s become of us?” was her question, and Flin seemed satisfied with it, crossing his arms and nodding at her words. He wanted to know, too. What was with the need for them to change clothes, or be locked in this tower?


Kali took the scroll and read it quickly while the group changed into their new clothing. Her facial expression appeared tense as she read, eyes rolling when it got to the part that she had to train them to defend themselves and keep them safe. It seemed a waste of time an effort while there was bigger issues in the East to worry about. Who cares if a group of outsiders is killed? Was it really their duty to babysit such? Of course, she wasn’t about to doubt the orders given to her, especially after her actions the day before that had caused the Captain to scold her. He had shown more emotion in that one moment than she could recall seeing in him in at least a few years...

Kali shook her head, pulling herself out of her thoughts as she crumbled the scroll up into her fist. Not only was finding and killing the Rebellion leader at the top of her to do list, there was no the question of getting the truth out of these people gathered before her. They didn’t look dangerous- in fact, they all seemed a bit helpless like lost dogs. Should it be amusing that they ring in so much puzzlement to the Union? With a huff of air, she was about to turn to the door before she heard a woman speak up.

“I don’t suppose we’re allowed to know what’s become of us?”

Kali rose an eyebrow, a smirk matching as she gazed at the woman harshly. They knew so little, and yet... they held answers to something. “Of course. I, as your leader, Lieutenant Reshma, will be taking you all Eastwards. The journey won’t be fun so don’t expect to be dining off sugared crickets or stew. To put it simply, you all came to Jarvaise at a bad time to visit. It isn’t safe here, from what you all have came to notice from last night. But the East isn’t either. The one thing I can promise you all is that your safety is recognized and I can provide the protection you all will need. No more questions,” Kali said, her words blunt and rushed. She left the group in the room as she unlocked the door with her key, then relocked while she exited. About 5 minutes later she returned to the barracks and opened the door, now dressed in civilian clothes that would easily pass for any traveling merchant. Her black hair was slicked back under her brown cloak that hung down her back and brushed her ankles. It was thick and made of durable leather, strong to withstand any tough climate. Everyone was dressed and ready to head out. One by one they went down the northern tower, through a series of halls, until they made their way out of the front of the castle doors.

As planned, there was a caravan loaded up with countless supplies. Tied to the back was a cow, followed by a horse for each of the foreigners to ride.

“Pick one,” Kali said, referring to the horses. Kali’s own horse stood faithfully at the front, patiently awaiting for his master’s comforting touch. He was the only creature that had the power to show Kali’s sensitive and loving side.

Flin, upon hearing the news that they had to pick a horse to ride, at first thought it was ridiculous. He’d never ridden on a horse in his life- besides a pony at a circus when he was a young child, and there were no pleasant memories attached to that day. After a few seconds of hesitation and the thought that if he didn’t have a horse, he would have to walk all the way to wherever they were going (which seemed far), he sufficed and gave in to the idea of the horse.. it couldn’t be that bad, right? The one that attracted him the most was a tall, black horse. He liked it just for the reason that under the right glare of the sun, the horse’s fur seemed to have a purple sheen to it, much like Flin’s own hair. Plus the black horse seemed more badass than the rest and so he wanted it. With a daring first couple strides, Flin found himself sticking one foot in the holster and swinging his right leg rather clumsily around to the other side. The ordeal took him but a couple minutes, which allowed him to finally get comfortable and steady with the reins. The rest of the time while he sat, he couldn’t help but smile at the rest struggling themselves to get a grips on to their rides. Leander in particular had him chuckling. He had the feeling she didn’t like the idea of getting up on one, to sat the least.

((Sadly, very sadly, I didn’t get Rowan’s part in, I will write it tomorrow!))


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Holding your face together with your own fingers is not the sort of experience that many people want to have in their life, even less perhaps than they wish to know how the steady flow of warm blood down their forearm feels. Frankly it wasn’t any different for Chris, who was only just starting to deal with the pain, let alone that squishy feeling of his own carved up flesh and the sticky dribble of his congealing blood.

Thoughts about stitching it, about doing something properly to fix the fresh slice in his face were held up by the simple fact that he was having a hard time focusing through the pain, let alone concentrating on something as delicate as prodding a needle through his own skin near an eye he could barely see out of.

A second idea about using one of the runes he was starting to grasp to help was likewise discarded, the shake in his hands combining adversely with an honest reluctance to start carving lines into his already lacerated skin.

Which left only bandaging, and that at least he could manage, heading over to the table cloth that had been spilled with Agatha’s dinnerware, and working hard to tear it to bits, only to find it was better made than that and he simply couldn’t currently master the strength. Using both hands to try only let more blood flow down his face and across his already crusty eye.

So he got the blade he had been using, brandishing it once more with a far more innocent target of said well made cloth. As he did however he felt the rage that had consumed him earlier bubbling back up, indescribable fury forcing itself through his normally more placid nature. Without any rhyme or reason to it he found himself wanting to tear, to destroy, forgetting all about the blood now freely flowing once more down his face, and simply searching for someone to hurt.

The fruitless search led him to look at what was once again clutched in his white-knuckled fist, and in an instant he understood what was happening, because there on the red-stained steel blade he held was the bright flare of a rune, one saying simply ‘Fury’

He went to drop the blade, and found himself throwing it instead, feeling the enervating calm after the rage rush back into him even as the blade itself quivered in the wall.

Clutching his already scarlet hand back to the cut on his face Chris fell heavily into a chair, lost and feeling very alone indeed.

Which is when the back door re-opened and a gorgeous woman walked in.

Tall, leggy and with a laced up waistcoat-corset that pushed some other prominent features to fuller prominence still the green eyed beauty’s head was topped with a cascade of Auburn curls bound only perfunctorily by a simple cloth band. At one leather clad hip a sword rode from a low slung broad belt, matched at the other by an equally well worn looking dagger hilt. That same motif was echoed in two brace of hilts of small still blades slung across her chest on a knife carrying bandolier. In her gloved hands rested a dark patterned metal and wood lethal contraption, a crossbow of some sort with a metal bolt head just protruding from it’s rest... and sweeping about the room as if very much looking for someone who needed plugging.

Any which way you looked at it this was not the picture of a woman just here for a quiet cup of tea with an old friend, but beyond that there was a certain resemblance to someone that Chirs simply was in no state to put his finger on.. even if he could spare it from holding his face together.

He did however spot that the valkyrie woman’s gaze did linger on the fallen, collapsed form of his late host, and something of the fire in her eyes dimmed as she did, something of the set in her jaw softening towards a less edgy sadness rather than the promise of immanent lethal force. That expression rapidly hardened up again as the gaze swept on to take in all the other fallen figures, broken by Agatha’s hex or Chris’s wild thrust.

And she was ignoring him all but completely.

Only after she had finally assured herself that there was no threat left in the room did she eventually turn to look at the seated sole survivor, and even then her first reaction was to shake her head. “you look like crap” she declared, her voice accented with a character all of it’s own, drawing out the vowels in a way that was part Scottish and part something else entirely.

Before he could protest or explain, maybe even come up with some quip about looking at the other guy she had set that crossbow of hers down onto the table and torn a strip off the tablecloth with seemingly only token effort. Then she was brushing aside his hands, firmly cleaning the wound and tilting his chin to get a better look at the cut.

“Going to have a peach of a scar” she insisted, pressing the cloth into his hand and the hand to the wound as she then went across the room, and with some evident familiarity of the place immediately found a thread and needle, before returning back and setting to sewing up his face.

“Shouldn’t we worry about” Chris began, only to be silenced with a look that very explicitly said this wasn’t the time to be talking or moving his head at all.

As she finished her work and set to tightening the looser stitches with dextrously tied additional knots she finally gestured to the dead folks, including poor Agatha. “The guard are too busy for a little thing like this” she insisted bitterness tainting that rolling tone, “big mess involving their own in the market” she explained, skipping relevant details like what had actually happened.

“Did-“ chris began, having not missed the correlation between that location and where he had seen the other ‘earthers’ before he was drawn back here.

“Never mind” the redhead insisted again, cutting off his own concerns as she tucked the needle into his collar and passed the sheath for the borrowed blade back to him, “You’re coming with me” she declared, now standing up and reaching once more for her bow, “now” she insisted with one last look about the room, and another lingering gaze at the fallen witch.

“If we’re lucky they’ll never know there was anyone else here” she added, gesturing towards the furious long knife in silent expectation he would reclaim it, before moving to strip some more gear off one of the fallen murderers. He got the blade, gingerly gripping the crosshilt rather than the handle in the hope to avoid the rage that had consumed him last time, and then just managed to muster the mind to go for the cloth wrapped bundle that Agatha had directed him towards before she had died, and within it the precious bundle of written patterns that described her husband’s legacy.

Before Chris could even really work out what the hell was happening he found himself out into the dark streets and following her, his feet dragging even as he shivered against the cold night air, made to feel still more chill by the loss of blood and the after-fight chills.

The as yet un-named guide gave not a hint of concern for any of that and instead simply led the way over garden walls, along entirely shaded alleys and even through a family home or two, people who evidently knew his guide and knew not to notice her comings and goings. The city's backways went by in a blur and only seemd to stop as Chris staggered almost into her, and looked about to find himself having climbed some stairs and just stepped inside a garret flat above some chandlers shop, the other side of town from where the incident at the market still drew attention.

The resident was evidently haggling with Red, something she was very clearly not too impressed with, but that didn’t last too long either as she grabbed his ugly mug by the chin and slammed him back into his own wall.

After that apparently the price came back down again and the pair of them were waved through to a back room, where a ladder was extended out of the window to reach the wall and a rope leant to them to descend.

Within hours of arriving in a city he had yet to hear the name of Chris was leaving, following a likewise unnamed woman and towards an utterly unknown destination.

When he could walk no more he fell, and was picked the hell back up again, and when he could stagger no more even with her help she looped his arm over her shoulders and all but carried him. Then at last they were coming into a small camp, wagons surrounding a flickering fire, indistinct faces moving around through the shadows, making way for Red and he.

A pallet came up to meet him, his freshly gifted jacket, shoes and hose dragged from his bone weary body, catching a little on the crusted blood that had soaked through and matted into the hairs of his limbs.

Then, as the blessed darkness was at last easing himself into its embrace, he caught sight of her stripping off her clothes.. and moving to join him under the covers.


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Marlaina did not sleep, she could not sleep, not as the others did, so instead she closed her lenses and played the day over and over in her head, analysing everything. Kali had appointed her to Nox and as he was now her new owner, she stood still and silent in the corner of his room. Her hair fell useless and long against her waist and all of her wires tested her body as she watched, seeing how badly damaged her cracked leg was. She supposed she was as wounded as the rest, but not in a way that could be dealt with. She shut down most of her outer sensors, skin becoming numb, smell failing and only loud noises slipping through. She supposed the others would be back soon, they had been taken to be fixed, but she would not wait for them. She barely heard them enter when they came back, her shutters not even fluttering, not a single part of her body so much as twitching. For the most part she looked like an odd statue, standing guard like a stone angle, she slowed down her thoughts and after playing the day over many times was left with one thought alone, what was it that made her alive?


Her shutters opened in a flick, her eyes coming to focus inadequately, zooming in and out for a moment till they seemed to be working as she wanted. She had woken to the high peeping of birds outside the glassless window, she supposed this was how it was every morning here, would it always be like this for her though? She started to move slowly, moving her hands, each joint by joint, they made not a single noise, she was perfectly made, in fact she was the most well made Golem ever made so far and to be ever made. Her hair swirled with a gentle clicking, reaching up high in a stretch, touching the ceiling and then flickering about her body in an undulating wave of untangled silk and wires. Her eyes fell to her leg, the soft dawn light slowly filling the room, the smell of bread wafting up from the guard’s kitchen, but she felt no hunger, she needed nothing more than the morning sun to power her up. She stood still and silent once more as the patch of sunlight moved cautiously across the room that it always filled, slowly moving up her body. In truth she needed nothing to power her apart from the magic runes she was inscribed with, but little did she know that the sun freed her inch by inch from her mechanical thinking, it made her more human.

Through the small corridor she could hear the sound of feet, the click of a mechanical lock opening and the easy swing of a well oiled door. She put these sounds away, she may need them in the future, but really it was just nice to have all the information she could in a world she couldn’t understand even slightly. She looked down at Nox, how the sun light lit him and wondered about him, he had said he was built a new like her, but he was human, why was she not human? Turning away she moved out into the main corridor and stepped with a light clacking down the corridor, her toes stretching out to balance her weight as she did so, trying to move in the most human way possible. A loud thud was clearly heard as she came into the room, her luminous blue eyes locking on the Capitan’s own odd hue, her hair reaching out to balance her as she wobbled unevenly on her feet. A few other people seemed to be about, roused by the loud noise, her eyes went of course to her other friend first, Flin seemed to be doing ok. She nodded to herself before moving forward to take some clothes, but caught the look on Kali’s face and thought better of it.

“Golems do not wear clothes here, you are best to get some leather adornments, belts to hold things and such.” Kali told her. "Later I will take you to be fixed."


Kali lead the way to the stables, her hand brushing self consciously over her clothes, her mother had gotten a hold of them again, would no one leave her alone to look as she was? She shook her head, her normal shapeless camisole had been.. mislaid for a slightly longer one in a dark moss green that fell to mid thigh and was shaped around her dangerously slender waist. It was not just that Kali was thin, it was that she was worryingly slender, the only thing that seemed to be holding her out of a hospital bed in anyone’s mind was her well developed muscle. A long heavy cape swayed from shoulder to feet in leather and velvet, she chucked it with disdain on the floor upon reaching the stables, she couldn’t ride in such things. The trim of her top was covered in silver embroidery and led on to what should have been her usual lose trousers, but instead she seemed to have been bought fitted riding trousers, with similar silver embroidery slipping up the left leg of the thick black canvas material. Her mother had really tried this time and Kali was sure she would get a look or two off the soldiers; she hated it.

Marlaina looked up at the horses and was silent, she had no idea how to interact with animals. She was quiet as Kali lead her to one side of the stables, away from the horses and watched the other woman shake her head at the others. Hair flickering out she touched the other woman, wondering why her skin was now a natural honey tan, it had been jet black the night before. The soldier seemed unconcerned, picking up chainmail and slipping it over her tiny frame, leading them to the last stall. Marlaina peered over the lip of the tall door, hiding her steed from view, she felt worried, why was she not picking a horse from the selection like the others? She glanced at the soldier, was she getting something different, she supposed she might be, but why?

“Your to heavy for a horse, you need something else to ride and it’s difficult to get something that will fit your weight that is easy to handle and looks.. normal enough to warrant our cover.” Kali opened the door and walked into it, her eyes kept steadily on the beast before her, it was a heap of heavily built muscle, with too many legs and too many eyes, but it seemed unafraid. It blinked it’s three eyes, topped on a long elegant beak. It stood on three legs, one at the front and two behind a large birds body, its bridled head arched forward on a long supple neck, sharp eyes moving independently, then focusing on Kali. She reached up a hand running her fingers through the soft feathers, the front of its body was very muscled, thick from neck to foreleg in a rope that helped it to both move with the speed of a horse and the balance it needed to climb in its natural environment. The brown eyes looked at her, its elegant beak clicking happily to itself, the odd creature had always liked her, she wasn’t sure why. Gently cooing to him she lead it forward, reaching out for the Golems hand, pulling it up to the beak. She was somewhat glad that the Golem could not ride a horse, it both wouldn’t have been able to hold her lode and it would have been to skittish around the violence she had seen the woman inflict.

“Right, now you have all picked your steed” she looked around making sure everyone had, “Can you tie them outside, then we can all go up to the armoury?” She smiled ever so slightly, her eyes on the once leather bound human, wearing men’s clothes, she liked her. “We need some weapons, even if you don’t know how to use them. Now if you please, follow me.” She stepped away from the Golem moving to Samar, her olive tan hand pressing against his side, she did not need to touch the reins, that more often lay there limp and unused. She had gotten rid of the bit quite some time ago, now her shadow horse had only a soft snug loop around its muzzle as well as the usual trappings for any steed. The beast moved along next to her with uncaring steps, its soft lips playing with the black hair on her head, once more flowing freely around her face, following her faithfully. She loved this horse and valued it highly, in fact more highly than any of the people that were following her behind. They moved into the open central courtyard, the left side cornered off from the sparing area and stood next to the wooden standing bar, her eyes carefully measuring each of the people behind her.

Marlaina lead her beast of burden forward, her shutters snapping as wide as she could get them to record the creature and how it moved. The big brown eyes moved constantly its inadequate wings twitched nervously around its saddle straps. She pondered how the bird would support her weight so far forward, but knew that if Kali said it would be fine, the it would. Every now and then it would raise its body up on two hind legs, using its foreleg to peer over the door of the stall at one of the stabled beasts, its beak clicking. It moved with curiosity in every step, uneven, speeding up and slowing down regularly as they followed Reshma, moving out on cobbled stones that surrounded the practice area and to a long pole suspending a bar before a water trough. She supposed her animal must have a name, though she had no idea what it might be. She looked at its soft mottled brown/grey feathers, meant for mountains or forests she supposed. What would she call it, she tired to think of names for birds that she knew, things like chicken, budgie, eagle, crow and decided on duck. Nodding to herself she let her hair trail along the beasts sides, yes duck suited it. Marlaina had no idea what a duck looked like but she supposed that it might look like this, maybe they only came from her home world?

“Right, follow me and I will take you to the Capitan, if you have any experience in fighting or weaponry, feel free to speak up.” She let them finish tying their horses, how ever they sought fit, her eyes sharp and calculating. The wind billowed through the circular space, swirling her hair around her, which she reached back and snapped tight in a leather thong (strap), her fingers deft. Her knee was nicely healed today and she was feeling happy and secure in herself once more, today would go well. She started off hoping the others would follow, moving to another door in the strange space, opening the thick oak and stepping into the dark. These people were from a long way away and for the most part had not noticed her extreme change in coloring from the night before, she wondered if where they came form their were more of her kind. She had never met another shadowing, not other than Samar her horse and that was hardly husband material. She supposed she would marry a human or some such. She sighed, thoughts straying to her ex-betrothed, but alas it was not to be. She gave the armory a quick rap with her knuckle before pushing it open and waiting at the mouth of the door.


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Having no particular need for medical attention, Nox instead stayed back at the barracks with Marliana. Apparently, she would be fixed tomorrow morning, which was good, because he would not have had the first idea about what to do to help her, which made him feel awful. He chose one of the narrow barracks beds for himself, hardly surprised when his feet dangled off the end of it a bit. He was somewhat taller then the average human, though certainly not as much so as the man in whose custody they seemed to be kept for the moment.

He was a bit confused when Marlaina followed him in. Certainly, Mi- Lieutenant Reshma had referred to him as though he were her 'owner,' and at the time, he had been too distracted by the goings-on to protest, but surely Marlaina did not see it that way? She was free to do as she wished, as far as he was concerned, and he hoped she would not feel some sense of obligation to him or anything. Perhaps he would ask her about it later. For now, Nox had other pressing matters to deal with.

Someone had mentioned earlier that there was a possibility that going back to sleep would send them back to Earth. Unlike most of his company, Nox was far from enamored with the possibility. It was, in fact, almost the last thing he wanted. What person in any semblance of their right mind wished to return to the sensation of a slow and agonizing death? He had been an entire day without pain, and upon reflection, it was the second-most amazing day of his life for that reason alone. No longer did his muscles burn, his tortured body cry out in agony at the smallest of gestures, things that healthy people took for granted every day. No longer was he brought low by the mere attempt to walk or raise an arm in greeting to a friend, and it was even more than he'd imagined it would be.

If there was a chance, even the barest chance, that sleeping would tear this away from him once more, he was not certain he was strong enough to bear with it. Though he lay down and rested his head against the pillow provided, though he draped himself in his cloak, relishing in the feeling of complete protection that it offered him, he could not, would not sleep. Or at least that had been what he thought. As it truly was, the sound of steady breathing from elsewhere gave him some hope. The others were sleeping, and none of them had yet disappeared. Before he could reason his way out of it, Nox felt his eyelids growing heavy, his panic subsiding under the oppressive weight of fatigue, and he slept.

He woke with a start when the door slammed open, but upon realizing where he slept and just who was barking at him, his face lit in a brilliant smile. He was still here, still strong, still alive. how could he do anything but smile at that knowledge? It was with a more subdued but still present version of this grin that he took to rummaging about through the clothes, trying to find articles that were built long and lean, with some success. He had the clothes he'd purchased yesterday, of course, but he'd discovered that all of them were too short, so he contributed them back to the community chest as a form of payment for the assistance he was receiving. They were well-made, someone would get good use out of them, he was sure.

In the end, he wound up with a loose-sleeved white shirt, a tan vest, and darker brown pants. A pair of hardened leather boots slipped up and over his knees, and of course he slung his cloak over his shoulders. He couldn't help but think he looked a little bit silly, but it was nothing that didn't belong with what he'd seen yesterday, so he accepted it. Running his hand through his shaggy blond hair, he re-fastened the low tail, thinking that this at least was less out-of-place here than it had been before, though he could have sworn it had gained four inches in the transition. Odd, but ah well.

By the time he got outside, Leander had asked her question, though he did catch the answer. He knew the Lieutenant had asked for no more questions, so he tried to phrase what he needed to say as a statement instead. "Um... Marlaina still needs someone to look at her leg, if you could please." His tone was not one of command, but gentle request, polite as always. Trusting that it would be taken care of (he had no reason not to think so, after all), he followed placidly as the group was led to a number of horses. As a child with more movement, he'd ridden as part of his physical therapy, and it was something he'd always enjoyed. Even when he could no longer bear it, he had liked to visit the animals, who in his experience were as gentle as he tried to be.

He approached a dappled-gray creature with a silver-white mane and tail and held out his hand for her to sniff, which she did. Once she had his scent, he patted her neck and moved to her side, making sure she had no protest to his presence. When the horse showed no such inclinations, he took the reins, noting with some distaste that there was a bit attached, but obliging Lieutenant Reshma and tying her where directed before following the group to the armory. The door was held open by the Lieutenant, and he thanked her politely before stepping inside. Truthfully, he wanted to ask her how it was that she had managed to change hues yesterday evening, but was afraid it might be considered rude. Besides, it was clear they had little time for all that at the moment.

Nox's eyes moved about the armory space, to numerous weapons mounted on the walls or arranged neatly in stacks against the wall. There were swords in all shapes and sizes, knives long and short, shields, polearms, a few staves here or there, and even a few blunt cudgel-style weapons and maces. A random inventory of knowledge on ancient weaponry supplied him with specific names as well: morning star, glaive, zweihander, flamberge, pike, claymore... just how many weapons did one city need? There were ranged devices, too: bows, crossbows, slings, slender knives probably designed for throwing. It was all a bit much for the peaceable fellow that Nox was, but he supposed that after that attack last night, he had to embrace the possibility that someone would try and hurt himself and the others again. When that time came, he would have a choice between being helpless as he had ever been and being of use to the others. He knew which of those he wanted.

He had always been a quick study at those things he was able to apply himself to, and he reasoned that as long as he was willing to pick up one of these weapons, he would be able to learn at least something of it. He would wait and see what the Captain had to say before he did anything though; it was possible that some of these things were off-limits, after all.


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Sebastian rose with groggy vision and a splitting headache. The rush of the events of the night before into his consciousness was almost overpowering and he could feel his mind once more attempting to reject it all as a fabrication. Unfortunately the evidence was stacked against him and the only alternative was the most likely option. So far he was able to find no evidence that this world was anything other than completely real and that should have been the most depressing thing to have ever come his way. But instead of that he felt something else bubbling away deep withing himself, something he could attribute only to basic human drives. He was curious. More than simply curious, he wanted, no he needed, to solve this 'puzzle'. Which was not to say he was not angry or upset about the predicament, far from it, he was devastated to be without the life he had built for himself. But through all that he felt an uncontrollable desire to find out where he was, how he'd got here and how to get back home again. For the first time since waking up in the street he entertained the idea of getting back to London with the knowledge of how to break whatever boundaries he had crossed. It would be the biggest thing to happen to science since Pythagoras suggested the notion of a round Earth!

And it was with this new found mission of gathering any and all information relevant to his cause that he pushed himself up from the floor he had fallen on, with every intention of striding forward and collecting some clothes from the chest. A plan that really couldn't have gone wrong for many people. However most people weren't recovering from severe concussion and the slamming of the door behind the Captain was like a fist to the back of the head for the teacher, giving him a new need - The need to lean on the bed he had claimed for the night and regain his composure.

Thirty seconds passed, then a minute more before he could walk to the centre of the room and start rummaging around in the chest. An everyday wardrobe of a smart shirt and tie really didn't leave him with much desire for what lay here and as he pulled various garments from within he couldn't help but laugh inwardly at those he threw aside for himself.

While everyone else had set about changing, he did the same, throwing his longjohns and shirt, complete with bloodstained collar, into a heap beside his bed. What happened to them after that was no concern of his. From what he could gather they were all heading out of the city and it seemed unlikely they would return any time soon.

Five minutes later and he was changed into a very loose fitting black shirt with a ruffled collar and reasonably smart black dress trousers that were tucked into what seemed to be a variant of cowboy boots he'd seen in old westerns, except they were missing the spurs. Deep brown spiralling stitches adorned the surface of the faded hazel colour and they stood out starkly against the rest of his attire, save the belt that held his trousers to his waist. Over this outfit he threw a heavy, wool cloack, also black, that draped about his knees and was easily wide enough to wrap around himself in times he needed warmth.

Looking down at himself, Sebastian could not quite grasp that it was him beneath the clothes. He reminded himself of a costume party he had gone to, dressed as a highwayman, in his youth and out of sheer nostalgia picked up a black neckscarf, which he tied in a knot at the base of his skull, letting it hang below his chin with distant satisfaction that was so very close to creeping onto his face.

His only other possesion in the world was the final touch to his new look. With surprise, although he kept thinking that nothing now could possibly shock him, he found that the 'stolen' gloves fit like... Well, they fit like a glove. They allowed for full flexibility of his joints but tightened to a tough skin around his knuckles when he clenched his fist. His fingertips were free to perform dextrous tasks if needed and the majority of his hands was given some degree of protection. Why he hadn't tried them on before eluded him for only a moment. Because I have no idea what kind of person may have used them before me he explained in his own head. Somehow this didn't seem to matter anymore as he was dressed head to toe in someone elses clothes.

After observing the chosen outfits and accessories of the other people in the group, they all soon found themselves in the stables faced with a choice of steed. The method of travel had occured to him only as they were moving down the stairs and from what he could remember (Mostly from films and books), horses were the preffered vehicle of these times. And he had not been wrong. There were at least half a dozen lined up in a paddock inside, pawing the ground with their hooves or trotting as far as their tether would allow. Immediately his eyes were drawn to a chestnut mare that seemed to pull at it's rope to get closer to him. He had no difficulty remembering now that he was awake and even though it had been dark and everything was rushed the night before he identified the beast as the one that had turned tail and run from it's owners with him astride. He took a few tentative steps towards her and she seemed to calm as her got closer. It was a surreal experience for him. Though he'd never been particularly bad with animals, he had never really had the time for them. he had ridden once, during one of the summer camps he had been shipped off to by his parents, but his knowledge of horses went no further. He had been lifted into the saddle and the horse had been guided by someone walking in front of it. Why he seemed to draw this one was yet another mystery within the greater conundrum that was this world.

"You saved my life" he whispered, face frowning, as he got steadily nearer and nearer to the equine. "Why?" As if in answer the mare let a heavy breath of air through her nostrils at his hand, which he had raised to touch her nose. The glittering gems set into his palms dimmed as the condensation misted them over for a few seconds and he let his hand glide down her nose. Instantly she calmed completely, bowing her head and breathing deeply. He took this as a good sign and moved to her side, where he unhooked the rope that tied her in place and gave a slight tug to guide her along. She was already saddled up and looked about ready to head out, following him steadily and calmly outside where he tethered her once more. And up behind him came a lumbering creature that was utterly terrifying to behold. Resembling a giant bird with an extra leg and eye, it was easily the most ugly animal he had every come face to face with. He didn't know what he had expected in terms of wildlife here but this was just monstrous! He couldn't tear his gaze away for a number of seconds, just staring incredulously at the strangely created creature until he saw the Lieutenant walking away, at which point he forced himself to walk away quickly without a single glance back over his shoulder. He considered asking anyone else what they thought but the idea of trying to hold a conversation with a series of explosions being set off inside his head was not an appealing one.

They were led across a courtyard, shadowed by the high walls, through another oak door and down a small flight of stone steps. Inside, waiting for them, was Captain Loger Kronis.


Held in one hand was a list, in his other was a drawstring leather pouch about two palms in size. It was closed and bulged in the middle, clearly holding a few items ready to be emptied on to the table in front of him, which already held a small assortment of items. The area was well enough lit, oil lamps glowing at regular intervals along the walls and high up in the corners. There were no windows here and the air was even cooler than outside. The vast variety of brutal weaponry on display completed the effect of a dungeon. He waited for everyone to arrive and for the door to close behind them before he spoke, calmly and quietly enough to convey that he was not quite as irritable as he had been a few minutes earlier.

"You all are aware by now that someone out there had every intention of kidnapping you last night. And in the path of that two guards lost their lives. It is therefore grudgingly that I am giving you access to whichever weapons here you feel most comfortable with before sending you out with Lieutenant Reshma in the hopes of keeping you safe, as well as anyone else who may get caught up in this storm." He slammed the bag he was holding down on the table. "These people knew where you were, so we cannot assume you will be safe where you are going, at least not permanently. I expect you will be spending many nights on the road, which is why each of you will be supplied with one of these pre-prepared kits."

He upended the pouch and let the items fall out to scatter across the table.

"Basic field equipment, you shouldn't need it but it's there just in case."

Across the table now was a small knife, a flint, tinder, a compass, a roll of rawhide lace and a few other small, potentially useful things for if they found themselves in a tight jam. He then picked up what looked to be a small telescope. And that was almost exactly what it turned out to be, but with one profitable difference.

"You." He pointed at Sebastian. "The medical staff said you were poor of sight, they sent this." He threw it underarm at the teacher. "You." He pointed at both Leander and Flin and picked up a small bottle of pale yellow liquid. "For your wounds." He then picked up a ball of clay. "Golem. Spread this in the crack of your damaged limb and sear it shut with fire, it's the best we can do here, the engineers are baffled by you and would not risk further damage by attempting repairs. In the East you will find specialists who will be of more use." He threw her the clay and turned to address the whole group again. "If any of you can write, scribe your names on this piece of paper. Those of you who can't, get someone else to do it for you." For his last act he placed the paper down beside an inkwell and quill and folded his arms across his chest.

"As for your weapons, I suggest you choose quickly, the gates open in ten minutes and I expect you to be among the first out of this city when they do. Any questions?"

Whether the question was rhetorical or not was a subjective opinion, his steely gaze was close to impossible to read. But he said nothing further on the matter, only standing watch.


Sebastian listened intently, remebering vividly the gruesome deaths of the mounted soldiers the previous night, and he said nothing as he caught the telescopic object in both hands, examining it quickly before stuffing it a pocket. He had no further questions, not one, and he only wanted to be gone from this city and it's dangers, not realising what horrors may await him in the wilderness between towns outside. He cast his eyes around and his mind back, trying to make some kind of a connection with any one weapon. Again he found himself remembering summer camp, where he had achieved a basic, and probably nothing more than novel, award for fencing. His skills at swordplay had been demonstrated already and he absently rubbed his shoulder, which he had noticed was badly bruised while changing. He then remembered another activity, one he had enjoyed immensely but not had much of a chance to show any potential skill in: Archery.

It was with this in mind that he wandered into the section of the armoury that housed the ranged weapons. There were so many of them and he had no idea what the differences were between most. The bows ranged in size, some short enough to hide in his cloak while others were taller than him. Then there were crossbows, of many different descriptions also. Arrows and bolts too lay on countless shelves and in unseen alcoves, taunting him with their unknown appeal.

In the end he chose a bow that he estimated stood at a little under five foot and had very little curve. To go with it he took a quiver of arrows over each shoulder and two slung across his left arm while his right held the bow. It was made of a tough but light wood that he couldn't recognise and was an ashy grey. The bowstring was thin and created an almost melodic twang when he tested it for tension. It would do very well he thought, without really knowing what constituted a decent bow and arrow. On his way out he scribbled his name down on the paper, wondering just how much good it would do the soldier to know the names of a group of people who had never set foot in this strange land before.

And then they were moving again, each member of the group with their chosen weapon and clothes. They were led back to their mounts and had to strap their new gear on board. Sebastian kept himself very clear of the golem's apparently flightless bird-like triped as he worked.


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"No." The word was the first one out of Leander's mouth as soon as she saw the miniature herd of horses that awaited them outside. She hung back, expressionless save for the edged wariness in her eyes, as she watched the others move about as though they were not dealing with beasts that could at any moment decide that running uncontrollably away was the best idea around, dislodging you and trampling your best friend badly enough that she'd end up losing the use of her right leg forever. This wasn't the idle fall-shy of a teenage girl who just never got over a little pain; this was a healthy respect for the fact that horses could do a lot of damage, whether they intended to or not.

It seemed she was either unheard or ignored, though, because their instructions were clear. Just when did she lose any semblance of choice in this matter, anyway? Her freedom was something she'd been jealously guarding, holding close to her chest like her only pair of aces, since she'd given up everything else she'd ever had and run away to Australia. Former prison colony, current refuge to one once-rich girl who just wanted to be left the hell alone. And really, that was all she'd ever asked for. A decent check to pay the rent and to not be bothered by other people and their problems, because frankly she had enough of her own, thank you very much.

A small part of her knew that she could never be entirely like this, but she either quashed it with stubborn force of will or drowned it in so much alcohol it didn't know anything anymore. She burned a bit more of it away with every cigarette, every flame bummed from some guy at the bar or on the corner of the street or at the bus stop, because dammit, some cities still knew the joy of public transportation. She killed a little more of her kindness every day, and she couldn't wait until it was ashes in the wind. To be the affectation, to become the mask, held such an inescapable allure for Leander that she could scarcely comprehend the reasons anymore, and it didn't matter, because the reasons were dying too, the old and useless appendages of a caterpillar that needed plodding legs no longer, not when it would soon have wings of glorious apathy to carry it away from what once was.

And now she was waxing fucking poetic. Great. She turned herself back to the immediate present and watched the others. Shades was amusing in his immediate mad dash for the slickest-looking pony in the place, and she would have laughed if she hadn't felt so sick at the thought of him, too, losing an arm or a leg or something. Stupid caring. This was why she didn't socialize much; it made her give a shit, something that she was against on principle. Blondie was all gentle hands and slow gestures. He'd been around horses before. For a moment, she wondered if there was a bitter bone in that guy's body. He sure didn't act like it- mild as a baby bunny rabbit, and not the feral hare either. The honest-to-God, floppy-eared, soulful-eyed, little-girl's-pet rabbit. The Professor appeared to have found his friend from the previous night, and it was all so much like a fucking Disney movie that Leander wanted to gag. Well, no, that was probably still just the caring talking.

She was mildly relieved (and more than a little weirded-out) when the group was approached by some weird three-legged bird-thing. It looked so absurd that if she hadn't been so preoccupied being sardonic, she might have laughed. It moved along at a decent clip, she guessed, but it was seriously strange. She was almost looking forward to seeing the equivalent of a deer or a sheep, if that was supposed to be an emu (which was honestly the closest thing she could think of, plus the extra leg and eyes and well... a lot of other things actually).

At this point, she knew she was only stalling, and everyone else had selected some form of animal, which left her exactly one option. It was a leggy creature (then again, what horse wasn't?), and she did not have to exaggerate to admit that it was beautiful, a deep dark-chocolate hue broken only by the snow-white patch squarely between its eyes. Were she still a little girl or even a young teenager, she would have gushed at the sight of it. Of course, it was also easy to tell why the others had avoided it. The mare was unmistakably a mean-spirited creature, judging from the way she stood with her ears planted flat-back against her skull. Leander didn't want to approach it, but she knew she had little choice now. So she swung an unnecessarily-wide arc around the smooth, silken side, and took hold of the reins, grasping closely enough to the beast's chin as to be in total control of the situation. Her handling was not rough; quite the contrary, but it was clear that she wasn't taking any chances. That was going to be a battle later, and it wasn't one she wanted to fight in the slightest.

But everyone was moving onto the armory now, which Lee thought was a little stupid. Seriously, how many of them knew anything about bloody swords and shit? By this point, she was over the initial 'keep your head down' phase of unfamiliarity with the situation. As soon as sleeping had not brought her back to reality, she'd gotten cranky, and heaven help the first person who got on her bad side this morning. But of course Captain Grumpy was there, and she had the distinct feeling that it was going to happen soon. Sure enough, he gave everyone a little speech and a deadline, and Leander had decided that this was just about enough of being told what to do for one lifetime. Who were these people to claim to be able to send her on some ridiculous mission to 'the East'? She understood the need to keep away from the people who had tried to kill them last night; she wasn't an idiot. What she did not like was that they were being told nothing about anything else.

"Any questions?" Leander fixed the too-tall figure with her patented 'you've got to be kidding me' look, but he did not flinch. not that she had expected he would. Shaking her head, she walked first to something that had caught her eye earlier: a pair of gauntlets. Leather in construction, but with considerable steel reinforcement, they were actually mismatched. The left one had more metal, especially along the length of the forearm to the elbow, and even the fingers were in delicately-worked, but clearly sturdy steel joints. The plating looked to be capable of turning a blade if applied correctly, which was a definite plus if last night was anything to go by. The right was mostly leather, still guarded around the forearm, but only studded at the knuckles instead of jointed with steel. Offense, defense, flexibility. She rather liked the idea and slid both on, finding that they would add weight to a swing without impeding movement much. Once she got used to them, they probably wouldn't at all.

Moving back over to the center table, she grabbed a longish, curved knife for utility and mostly show (since gauntlets wouldn't come off as weapons) and one of the survival kits, which she knotted nicely to her leather belt. Still more than a little wary of the entire situation, she signed a name that was only partially hers: Leander Hastings. Hell, for all she knew, she could be signing something magically-binding or some nonsense, and she didn't trust these people enough for that, plain and simple. She'd remember the alias anyway, just in case it was for identification only. It wasn't like anyone here knew her real name anyway.

"Actually, I've got a question," she told the Captain flatly. "Why are you even doing this? We clearly aren't your citizens, so you're not obligated. I can't imagine you actually give a damn what happens to us, so that means you're using us for something. What?" She wasn't expecting much of an answer to her challenge, but even if he didn't say anything, that would tell her more than she knew already. She just wanted to see what he'd do. Blow up at her? maybe; he seemed pretty volatile. Ignore her? With the pattern so far, that was more than likely to happen. Hell, there was even a chance that she'd get a meaningful reply, though she wasn't holding her breath. "We're human beings, not herd animals. You don't just get to order us around and expect us to behave like you own us." Though her tone never modulated from her bored cadence, the look in her eye made it clear that she wasn't just going to let it go like a good little girl anymore.


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#, as written by echored
There Flin sat atop his ride, but for only a minute. The horse he so conveniently chosen as his seemed to have a mind of its own, jerking back its neck for a moment as it turned its body around, following Kali back to the stables. It’s pure black mane somehow reflected off the rising sun, not an inch of light disrupting the darkness of the creature. The large, black eyes of the steed never blinked, and seemed to survey the surroundings like it understood what was going on. It was charming in that eerie way, an individual from the rest of the pick. There was more to this horse than meets the eye. Maybe that’s what really attracted Flin to pick....I still don’t know its name..

“Lieutenant...” Flin said pointedly while trotting forward inside the barn, coming to a halt as the horse refused to walk any further. Kali seemed to know the names of all the animals here so he would ask her, as soon as he could get her attention. “Whoa... there...” Flin said casually down to his mount, stressing the idea that his horse seemed to have a power trip. “Who said you could stop?” he grumbled under his breath as if he was talking to himself, meanwhile flipping his left leg off the horse and hopped back down to the dirt floor in a wave of dust. Part of him wished he picked a better foot guard, only wearing leather sandals around his feet. His toes already appeared to be dirty. The rest of the travelers seemed to be in boots of the sort- a rational pick for the weather they might face. Then again, Flin hadn’t owned a pair of actual shoes in years and some of him wanted to hold out until the actual moment he might be forced to need a set. Wishful thinking at its best.

Once his legs became grounded again, Flin looped his horses reigns securely to the fence station against a stall. Flin’s back stood a bit straighter and his arms managed to flex further while walking towards Kali, now seeing it was best to play the role as cooperative rather than stand out like a sore thumb.. or get another arrow in the arm. It would be to his advantage if he could go undercover in this new identity with clothes of the current era- at least until he could figure out the reason why they all were brought here in the first place. The protection by Kali in their travels was a slight plus. And so it went, taking the first few steps to develop a cover: the voice. From what he’s heard so far in this town, it sounded a bit rustic, maybe old English? Like, old, OLD, English, to where some of him was surprised he could understand them. And on further note, the pure luck that the lot of them all knew and spoke English should spark the question- are they still on the planet Earth? Would aliens really speak English too? And so with distracted thoughts starting to form, Flin had to stay in tune to the current trick he was practicing, a slightly altered voice. His stride made its way to Kali and she only gazed back unimpressed. She really knew how to make an impression. “My horse, what is his name?” he asked in a decent shot with the accent, the last syllable trying to fight off a smirk at how he sounded. Eventually others would have to buy into it, if he could remember to twist his voice constantly. Piece of cake.

Kali pointed upwards to the top of a horse stall, the same stall the horse purposefully stopped in front of. A sign with large letters written in bold, black cursive hung securly. “Atropureus” Alright, so this was the horse’s name? Not quite easy to roll off the tongue... Atro would have to do. Flin nodded his head in acknowledgment for the ‘head’s up’, literally.

“Alright,” Flin spoke up to the horse as he returned back by its side, and took a quick look down to see what gender he was dealing with, “So you’re a male. Part of me wonders if you can actually speak. It wouldn’t surprise me after all...” he carried on, mostly to himself before he noted another worldly beast moving forward from a stall. It was like a bird/ duck/ ostrich creature mixed together, with an extra eye and leg to add. Marliana was stationed on the... mount.., as if it was readily accepted to be normal. The computer would see no difference, and on the other hand...

“What the fuck, guys!” Flin managed to spill as he ran his fingers through his mesh of a hair, gazing at the bird-like ride. His sunglasses hung from the pocket of his newly acquired pants, nearly falling out when Flin jerked around from his revelation of this place- never doubt anything. And this wasn’t Earth, not in the slightest. “That thing is NOT normal,” he added, expecting to get a round of cheers and support from the rest. Their expressions didn’t settle right with him. Maybe I’m still on the pain meds.. high as a kite, he thought to himself in a wishful demeanor, making sure his distance was well kept from the unusual animal. The idea of still be on the medicine side effects sounded plausible... Hell, who was Flin kidding. It was just as plausible as the idea that they all were dead, and that surely wasn’t true either. No drug was this strong. By a glance at Sebastian, he wasn’t the only one that had the idea. This was the new reality being thrust upon them and everything else logical they knew before was incorrect. There was no more hopes of waking up back where he came from and no more hopes of a U.S. government conspiracy. This was the full, legit deal, a different dimension that was placed over their shoulders. The sad thing was, no one back at Earth would ever know he went missing.

Once everyone had their ride picked, it was off to the armory. Flin had the guts to join the group once the duck mount was out of sight. They were led into a chilly, dungeon type room with no windows or humanity to boot. Rest inside was the large soldier which was the obvious commander, standing in front of a center table that held a large sack of goods. Flin made eye contact with the orange-eyed Captain, debating if such a cold, deadly looking man could be on their side, guarding them from immanent harm. There had to be a catch for the assistance, there was always a price.

Around the Captain and group were walls covered in weapons of all kinds, not an inch of free space left open. Every space housed a particular object. There were ranged weapons, like bows... and arrows. The sight of that weapon made him cringe as he directed his eyes to something else. That said, Flin couldn’t help but see Sebastian out of the corner of his eyes pick a bow. It was as if the man was purposefully trying to irk him. Ah, well. His eyes skimmed the roomed a slight bit longer before they rested on one particular weapon. It was two words according to Flin: “Fucking awesome” he joyfully hummed as he gravitated towards it. The object in discussion was an axe like nothing he had seen before. The blade was
unique in it’s curve, durable. The end was a carved, wooden handle with a pointed stake. Clearly multifunctional, there were several ways to bring serious damage with this baby. With his uninjured arm, he reached forward to lift the axe off the wall. Hoping that it would be light was wishful thinking. It at least weighed 15 pounds, possibly more. His injured arm gripped a hold of the weapon as he rested it down next to his feet... his exposed feet. Maybe there is feet armor in here he thought, amused by the idea. His eyes searched as he listened to the head hauncho list out his orders in a cold-toned speech. Soon Flin found himself grabbing one of the survival kits provided, tucking it under his arm. The Captain also handed him a vile of yellowish liquid, and Flin accepted it reluctantly from the hand of the enormous man. Then there was the paper and pen/ name ordeal.

Flin felt almost insulted when the Captain questioned whether they all could write or not. “Of course we cant write, it’s not like we were born in the Middle Ages,” he had to interject in his bluntly honest way, knowing that in the phrase there was an irony and a truth. Flin gripped the quill between his fingers in a defiant manner as the tip dipped in and out of the ink. Did he want to provide his real name? Not really.... New name, new identity... plus the whole signing your name on a blank paper didn’t make much sense. Was this like some weapon check-out list?

Flin’el Wallane

Not too far off the the truth, really. Close enough to where he’d recognize this name being called out if need be. Were these guards that naive to think they could really get his right name? Ah, did it really matter? Flin turned and made his way back to his weapon, only to catch Leander’s voice chiming in ever-so poised while his back was turned. She was questioning the big guy... Flin didn’t have to be a psychic to know this wasn’t going to blow over well. Leander did the group a favor, what none had yet attempted: a face to face confrontation. The questions needed to be asked and Flin wondered if the answers would come that easily. Flin lowered his breath as the whole room seemed to get quiet once Leander was done speaking up. Not a whistle in the air broke the string of silence that stretched with every second.

She needed back-up. Flin was the first to volunteer. “I agree with Leander. We are being kept alive for a reason. Why are we here?” Hopefully his question would spark another in someone else. The entire group needed to rise up and ask the questions they all shared. What the hell happened to get them in the position they were all standing in now?


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Kali watched as everyone flowed into the room, stepping in just before the door closed, her arms crossed over her chest. She watched as each of them picked up weapons, all apart from Marlaina who just stood there. She shook her head, a small smile lighting her lips, the Golem was useless; she couldn’t seem to do a thing to look after herself The craftsman had been a dab hand at building her, unlike anything Kali had ever seen before, but he had not had the knack for magic, the silly thing was at this point relying on her owner and the kindness of strangers. She walked across the room, her eyes watchful, she would have to teach this useless lot how to use whatever they chose; she felt little hope. She picked up a pouch full of palm size steal balls and was glad their smith was quite so skilled, these would be what the stupid creatures would be learning from first. Next she headed to a box of leather straps, picking out a strap for the Golem. Her hands were swift, her mind groaning as she watched the others, they were picking things that from the look of it most of them had never touched; where did they come from?

Marlaina stood motionless, only the glowing orbs of her glass eyes showing any sign she was alive. She was taking photos of every single weapon in the room and pilling similar things away next to each other, trying to place what they were and of course placing the chosen weapons next to their owners in her files. Mostly however her eyes stayed on her three friends, Flin, Nox and Kali, trying to see what they might take. She had no idea what she wanted, she had never wanted for anything, never needed anything. She did not like having nothing on, but Kali had told her that she was not to wear clothes, that it was not normal for Golems, was she a Golem? Her hair moved in more gentle ripples now, getting used to being alive, to moving and to having her own thoughts. She licked her lips, she liked the feel of it, though she had nothing more than oil to spread across them, giving them an unnatural sheen. Her teeth clicked and she rolled out three more silver balls around her mouth and nodded to the Captain and reached forward for the jar of clay.

She watched the Golem move forward taking the jar and Kali reached out for the jar taking it from the construction without another thought. She knelt down, turning the injured leg in her hands, the Golem standing there like any of the horses might while being shoed. Tugging her out of the room she went one door down, opening to the smiths. He smiled at her and she felt pride touch her, the man took everything in his stride, just as he had taken her upon meeting her. She sat the creature down, pushing her hair back from her face, opening the jar with a soft pop from the seal. With deft fingers she dug out some of the thick clay, taking note that it was the wrong color for Marlaina, but better than nothing. She pushed into the crack, trying not to flinch as she felt the wires beneath it move under her clean fingers, she could not put the clay deep then. She nodded to herself, now using her clay covered fingers to smooth over the surface, hoping that it would tell her if she went to far. The feel of her new friend was smooth, the surface was only ever so slightly textured and she wondered if she was made in a mold, were their more of her around? Reaching sightlessly to her left she grabbed one of the many semi-clean cloths and wipe away the left over residual.

“Will you heat it Smith?” She asked knowing he would if she asked and pushed the other girl forward.

“Hello Sir.” Marlaina spoke softly, her voice almost human and tilted her head slightly, eyes drawn to the white-hot fire he worked on.

“Good morning young lady, I shall fix you up as well as may, can’t have your clay washing away in the rain, it will have to have a quick bake.” He told her, before turning to Kali. “They tell me you lost another one of my blades last night and that you will be going away. Don’t think I don’t listen to everything that comes through here little miss! There are 5 new ones for you, be sure not to lose them all and a strap to hold them on you as you like.” He spoke softly with knowing eyes, he rarely spoke for so long, being a man of few words, preferring to let his work speak for him. He nodded sagely as he felt along the crack in Marlaina’s leg, before lowering her into a chair and bringing his war furnace out and sticking her leg in it.

“Thank you Sir.” Kali said, picking up her new strap and attaching around her upper thigh with the blade slots on the outside, hooking the support strap on to her belt with ease. Their was not a spare scrap of leather, it had only one belt hole, made for her and her alone. She slotted the light ceramic blades into their four slots and placed the last one in her boot. It felt cold against the flesh of her ankle and the strap around her thigh let her feel the flex of her muscles. She smiled, stretching slowly to see how flexible it was and as ever the Smith had outdone himself in finding such fine things for her. She covered a small laugh with her hand, he had been paying attention, the detailing was done in fine silver, flowers and swirls to match her mother’s own design over the leather. Even the buckle, made to clasp at the front; it had delicate detail that had obviously been designed for a girl, she would have loved it if it hadn’t been so ridiculous. Still shaking her head she moved to stand near the Golem, holding it’s many straps.

“I’m going to strap these on you, I need you to move your hair for me.” Marlaina heard the voice of her friend behind her, ears able to pick up the smallest sound. She nodded, not trusting herself to speak; her leg was on fire. She stared into the flame, she could feel the heat, it seared her, her wires protected from the brunt of it by her ceramics. She supposed this might be somewhat like pain or at least for her, it felt like to much pressure on one part of her body. Still she let her hair float up in the air, ignoring the Smiths gasp of surprise and wide eyes. She soon felt the firm steady grasp of Kali’s hands on her. Leather straps were attached around her shoulders, tightened and leading out across her shoulder blades, around her neck and down her back where the first Sheath sat. Also leading from her shoulder straps was two on either side of her upper body, running down to a strap around her waist and then keeping on down over her seamless hips. There it attached to a wider strip of leather (a belt) and down her upper thighs, strapping around them and giving her two more sheaths. On the belt rested two pouches, though what they held she did not know. She watched as Kali moved away to the other side of the room and picked up a slender short sword and two knives for her thighs.

“Well that’s you about done little miss.” He said gruffly, pulling the furnace away and her leg was there smeared with dark clay, but whole. “You should both be getting back to the Capitan, he’ll have my hands if I don’t get you back on time.” He offered a hand to Marlaina and she took it, standing evenly. Beneath her foot the wood became scorched she was till at an immensely high temperature. The smell of burning wood hit their noses and they all looked down. Thankfully the armory was stone floored. Thanking the Smith they moved out.

Kali came back into the room just in time to hear Leander’s words and anger passed over her features briefly, though they were gone in less than a second, remaining passive. She moved around the edge of the group of people, her black eyes sharp. The tug of her thigh strap reassured her, footfall once more silent in the leather covered soles of her boots. She sniffed the air, something no human did as she did, taking short breaths through her nose, wide set eyes dim and unseeing. How could the woman dream of showing such disrespect, Kali’s hope for comrade in the woman dropped out of the sky and slammed strait through the floor. She smelt clean, not the kind of clean that you got here, no the royal kind of clean, these people, all of them had seen soap in the last two days. The soldiers might see soap once in a blue moon, most of it was kept for the infirmary and even then it was used as little as possible. These stank of it like the royals of old and that did not fit. She glanced over them, where were they from that they thought it was ok to ever say something like that to her Capitan, she wanted to skin the stupid woman. Her body relaxed, dropping a few inches in height as her knees bent, teeth shining between her thick lips.

“Nox, what is happening?” Marlaina asked, moving up to stand next to her master, her hair now still and lose about her. She reached out before her, grabbing up one of the leather strips left out to tie back long hair and tied a black one about her grey tresses, her hair was gaining to much attention. She moved back to what was going on before her, Flin moving forward to join the discussion and blinked her large clueless eyes at her owner. She tugged the leather straps that now looped around her neck, waist, hips and thighs, uncaring of its weight on her, but finding the sensation odd. The room was tense and she didn’t like it, it was not something she was used to. Her eyes flickered to the other people in the room, before returning to her owner and shuffling a little closer, though not close enough to touch, she did not like to be touched. Kali she had let because she was above her, the Golem could feel it, but no one else would. She would readily crush them like the hooded men from the previous night. Her eyes at last fell on the Capitan and stayed there, watching and listening.

“How dare you question the Capitan?” Her words came out a hiss, breath moving in out of her body smooth and swift, itching to draw her weapon. People had been hung for less disrespect to one of the upper guards, let alone someone as high as the Capitan, it just didn’t happen. “If you are given an order you should obey with utter compliance. You should be glad we are protecting you, you could get no higher, not even army officials get protection such as this.” She would know, she had killed many of them over the years, had watched the blood spurt from them. Her kills were not to be made to look accidental; she was to make sure ever soldier in that army knew just what happened when they went against the Empire. She shifted her feet on the floor, a hushed noise coming from the it, her hand left on her thigh, easy as to tell she was egger to fight. She rarely liked women, not since the last one had destroyed her and as a result for the most part she did not let them near people she cared for, let alone her father figures, women were cruel. She silently wished she wasn’t one, she knew she was cruel too, no one should take such glee at slicing up anyone. No one should love carving up someone’s face, watching the life slip from their eyes and then placing the traditional cross she left on their foreheads; once blood stopped flowing. Her killing was privet and was well loved, she was the perfect soldier, she followed orders to the tee.

“The men who came after you were no petty thugs, you barley managed to survive, would you all last with more than footmen?” She glanced at the others now, they had all been thinking it, those hooded men were the least of them. “You were one of the best and you yourself sustained injury that would lay most out for days to heal without special tending, how would you have defended yourself then?” She said to Leander, moved closer to the Capitan and it was clear to see that though she thought and could feel, when given an order she was no more than a dog. Bark dog, defend your master and she would, this man had saved her life more times than any of these people could imagine. She was loyal to those above her and respected this man like she did her own father, whom she loved dearly. Thoughts of her parents were quickly pushed to one side, this was not the time, the anger that filled her was too much. It was not even that they had disrespected her Capitan, but her way of life and everything in it and she prided herself on this above all things. She was and always would be the perfect soldier, after all she had nothing left since Rowan had taken everything from her.


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Nox was still rather uncomfortable with everything that was going on as he hefted one of the ‘survival satchels’ (which truly seemed as good a name as any) in his hand, before copying Leander and tying it to his belt. They were certain to be useful if he could figure out how to work flint. It couldn’t be that hard; it was supposed to be the easiest way to start a fire. Still it was not as though he had ever been camping before, and such basic knowledge was not something he possessed.

The others moved about the armory with purpose, but Nox really didn’t know what to do. He’d never so much as held a weapon in his life. He was a musician, not a fighter! Yet… he could not afford to let the group down by being the sole bastion of incompetence among them. He chewed his bottom lip thoughtfully, noting with a small smile that Marlaina was being led off by the Lieutenant to have her leg looked at. He’d have to ask how it was done, just in case he ever had to do it.

Still undecided, and honestly trying to quash a moderate mount of existential conflict at the thought of even trying to do harm to another sentient being (he was a vegetarian, for heaven’s sake, how did they expect him to try hurting a person?[//i]), he paced up and down the area, tentatively taking a few things in hand, testing the heft of a sword here or an axe there, but finding nothing that felt right sitting in his palms or betwixt his instrumentalist’s fingers.

He was beginning to despair the very possibility when he came across a pair of strangely-wavy blades. [i]Kris blades…
Or at least they resembled kris blades. He knew (presumably from having read somewhere, he could not say) that they were in his world of Indonesian design. About two feet long apiece, they were almost an exact match for each other, save that one had an ivory hilt and the other an ebony one. They drew him no more than any other weapon, nor did they feel any better when held, but looking around at everyone else, he figured it might be beneficial to have some variety, and he was at least confident that he could handle things of their size and weight without overtaxing himself.

Actually, given recent developments, he put his strength at enough to take almost anything from this place, but he did not fancy the idea of swinging one of those claymores around. He’d probably hurt someone. Well, someone on his side, which was actually not the point of the entire exercise.

Without any reason to distrust as Leander and Flin did, Nox signed his own name, in full, without a second thought, stepping towards the door and fully intent on trying to reach those city gates in a timely manner before the sound of Leander speaking stopped him. Her tone wasn’t rude, exactly, but it was not the one he would have chosen if he was going to address so delicate an issue with the Captain. Flin chimed in shortly thereafter, and Nox flinched when Lieutenant Reshma rushed to the aid of her still-silent superior officer.

Marliana spoke to him, and he shook his head slightly. “Leander wants to know why we are being taken to the east,” he explained as delicately as he could. The truth was, it was an entirely valid question, but one that Nox felt was ill-timed. It was clear that whatever was going on, it was placing a great deal of strain on both of their self-appointed (presumably, anyway) guardians, and her bluntness was not likely the best way to handle the situation at present. Nox debated internally with himself for a moment on whether it would be good or just make everything worse for him to be involved, but he was at heart the sort of person who hated none and wished to see all get along, so he chose to intervene.

“Please, everyone, I understand that this is not the easiest situation to be in, but perhaps this is the wrong time and place? Leander, I do not think it is fair to suggest that neither the Captain nor Lieutenant Reshma cares about what happens to us. They could very well have left us on that street last night, after all, and they did not. Whatever their reasons, they are currently assisting our departure, and it has not been without cost for them,” he said, remembering the two dead guards from the night before. Whatever anyone thought of them as people, they were still people, and now they were gone. He of all those present understood the weight of that.

“Captain, Lieutenant, I mean no disrespect by this, but we are unfamiliar with the way things work here, and where we are from, things are very different. Indeed, there you would be obligated, in all likelihood, to provide us with much more information than we have. Please forgive us our expectations if you find them unreasonable- suddenly finding oneself in a situation which one has no reason to expect, with little chance of returning, is a… difficult experience.” He inclined his head slightly, deferentially, in instinctive gesture more than a planned one.

Despite the fact that his words were gentle and his mannerisms polite, Nox was not behaving timidly, and he had the expectation that the parties would at the very least agree to disagree for the moment (even if he did not make it obvious). He had learned long ago that patience and acceptance took much more strength than anger, but he wondered if perhaps anyone else would see it this way. He stood in the space between where Leander and Loger faced each other across a table (with Flin nearby) and the door, knowing that their time limit was close to expiring and ready to move off swiftly if necessary. Frankly, though he respected what the Captain and Lieutenant were dealing with, as well as Leander and Flin’s position (nobody liked to feel the part of the blind man in a world of color), he was of the opinion that the more important objective was to ensure everyone’s safety, and the people who most likely wanted to do that were currently in a staredown with the ones they were supposedly helping.


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#, as written by echored

Time of Day: Night, before the current Morning
Location: East, along the ocean’s coast slightly north of the port city

Rowan’s troops were stationed around one large campfire, speaking amongst themselves and eating warm bread with honey jam. The smell of crisp, burning wood flavored the air with hickory and coal. All together, there were about 20 men, from orcs and elves to the basic human. More should be joining soon. So far this group had not lost a single fighter against a Union soldier, mind their fair share of cuts and scrapes, Rowan training her lot well. Food wasn’t necessarily hard to come by, there were professional thieves amongst them if they got that desperate. Food was the fuel that kept them all strong, and happy. Fortunately there were several large family units in the East, wealthy and powerful, that helped fund the Rebellion and provided meals as troops rotated in and out of the city. This particular camp of rebels was just a portion of the larger Rebellion group. Certainly they didn’t share the sheer numbers of the Union army, but their fighting tactics and skills made up for it. Her reasons for training these men were pretty simple, and selfish. It didn’t matter if they died in the end, as long as they survived long enough to face the brute strength of the heart of the Union army. What the Rebellion fought for, their hopes of freedom and other petty wishes, didn’t mean a thing to her truly (after all, she had been in the Union for many decades longer and would still be in the Union under different circumstances..) Of course, they all believed she was their faithful leader, and she was in all aspects loyal- but she led for herself, not for them. Plus she didn’t take orders well, she handed them out. All she wanted from the Rebellion was the chance to piss off Kronis, watch his face as she snapped the necks of all his top soldiers, drain their blood, and give him his own shove in the ass. Thinking about it made her hungry for more. She was a cold-bolded killer, never any remorse or regret keeping her awake at night. That was what made her so special as a soldier, for emotions never got in her way of her job. She was unquestionably the best thing the Union had in their arsenal and the Captain, her so-called dear friend, threw her out over a petty human kill that wasn’t worth a cent. Kali deserved the fate Rowan was faced with, not the other way around. And for that, Kali deserved to die. And she wouldn’t be so easy on her this time around. The ironic part of it all was that Rowan suspected neither of them had the slightest clue who and what they were dealing with now. Her nature in the Union was never one of revenge, because she could really give a damn and nothing ever upset her. But a vampire that holds a grudge, well, it doesn’t go over well. Pointless nights of brooding only made Rowan persistent on finding closure.


Rowan’s presence in the camp was immediately noted, men of an assortment of races pausing what they were doing to watch their leader walk down the steps from her safehouse towards them, led by her co-leader Colvon, a man dressed in a black, heavy cloak. Colvon was a human, age 38, a fugitive who made a mess in Jarvaise a decade back and came out East to start a new life. Under his hood, you’d find a scar stretching from his forehead in a diagonal cut across his cheek, both eyes intact somehow. His reasons for joining the Rebellion was for personal survival-- too many enemies in the Union. The two leaders passed through the crowd, Rowan’s hips swaying gracefully as her long legs carried her foreword. Some of the troops bowed their heads, afraid to make eye contact with the red-eyed temptress, others stared up at her with goggling eyes, their fascination never getting old. Her pale white skin glistened under the yellow moon’s light, flawless even through the 200 years of being on this planet. It contrasted perfectly with her slick black dress, made of silk that fell above her knees and blew freely in the slight breeze. The night was chilly but weather had no effect on the vampire. She could be completely undressed up in the Northern tundra, barefoot in snow, and she would feel no different than she did now. Of course, Rowan wasn’t an idiot when she came to clothing. A dress certainly wasn’t what she would pick to wear in battle. Up in her room, in a locked black chest, held her treasured armor, the same armor that was forged for her personally by a talented smith and mage team ages ago. The most expensive of her set was the chest and back plate, which echoed the curve of her chest perfectly in a shining steel mold (the materials imported from overseas), the back piece connecting to the front by leather buckles up and down her sides. It was strong, durable, which protected her from being staked in the chest or the back by a wooden stake--- long range weapons such as crossbows on the other hand had a chance. The second most important piece to her armor was her enchanted neck guard, made of a layer of soft scarlet cloth under a metal collar that clicked together in the front, less than a half inch thick and inset with rubies and jade jewels. If a weapon were to aim at her neck, a strong, invisible barrier would prevent the weapon from getting anywhere close to grazing her neck (minimum safety net around 2 inches away)- after all, she’d die if her head was chopped off, and she knew it was always better to be prepared than not at all. Besides the chest, back, and neck armor, the rest was light-weight and made of leather, such as her pants that clung to her every muscle like a glove, allowing her to be more agile and quick without the weight of leg plates. Numerous belts and brown leather straps were also in her black chest, able to hold throwing knives and other various weapons of small size that could pack a punch from afar. The only time she really needed weapons was for long-range combat. Hand to hand or armed combat on the other hand was a whole different story. She needed no sword, or axe, or dagger. All she needed as herself and her strength.

Colvon was leading Rowan past the camp and into the darker part of the forest that surrounded them. It took him a few seconds to adjust his eyes as his feet made noisy crunches against dead leaves, but Rowan could see through the darkness as if it was as bright as day. “Just a bit further,” he motioned, holding back twigs and thin branches that stood in their way as they made their way deeper into the woods. The campfire was no longer visible from this point, and they were able near the edge of a cliff that overlooked the ocean. Rowan could see what they were talking towards now: it was the young boy, his hands tied together in a knot of rope which was connected to a large tree trunk. The closer she got, the louder the boys noises grew, his quivers and shakes and moans for food. The young child’s eyes were bright blue even in the dark, while the rest of his body was covered in mud and blood.

“Why are you so afraid?” Rowan asked the child coldly with a sick smirk on her face, bending over slightly with her hands on her knees, her red hair falling loosely in a frame around her face. All the young one could do was wince his eyes and curl up on the ground. They had this boy as their captive for 4 days now, the only survivor in their last raid of a pro-Union city further south from here. He wasn’t alive because they felt pity for him, or had any morals on killing children. They kept him alive for business purposes. The child was the first and only child of a wealthy family that owned several weapon shops in the main port city of the East, Versten. Catch was, they were Union-lovers. To prevent further lives from being taken or another city burned, a deal was worked out that the boy would be returned in one piece if the family surrendered their weapons to the Rebellion. Personally Rowan thought it was amusing that the Rebellion is trying to fight corruption with corruption, but maybe that too isn’t far off with fighting fire with fire. Either way, taking a boy and tying him to a tree until the exchange was in place wasn’t the most decent things to do, but Colvon liked to pretend he didn’t have a heart.. at least Rowan’s excuse was that her heart didn’t beat.

“Don’t worry, if there is any left over bread and honey, I’m sure the men would be happy to share,” she said slowly, each word heavy with a sultry slur, her eyes narrowing ever so cooly, “but then again, they did look really hungry tonight.” The same smirk found its way on her lips again, standing up straight and walking back to Colvon’s side. Colvon took this as the signal he could now move forward and check the boy’s rope, making sure there was no cut or attempt for the child to escape. Colvon’s large, rough hands tugged at the rope as he inspected the length, a nod concluding that everything here was fine.

“Sweetie, get some sleep,” Rowan said as her goodbye to the terrified boy. This time she smiled in full. This time she bared her fangs.

The two leaders walked back to camp, merging from the trees to already be face to face with one of their messengers.

“Permission to speak!” the messenger asked, a young man with his chin held high, eyes not looking directly at either of the two until Colvon gave him the go ahead. He bowed and continued to speak, “Word has it that Captain Loger Kronis has sent out a large army to the East. Their arrival will be within the next few days if my sources are correct.”

“Well, are they correct or are they not?” Rowan said as she moved closer to the messenger boy, the mention of the Captain’s name bringing Rowan’s passive composer down to a thin straw.

“Correct, correct!” he squealed, as Rowan placed her right hand in a rest against his neck, any moment willing to squeeze his esophagus out. As he finished his cry, Rowan brought her arm back down to his side.

She was not angered by this news, not in the slightest. A genuine look of calm smoothed over her face and her voice grew softer. “Good.” With that, she excused herself from the two and took the pathway back to the stairs that led to her safehouse. She wanted to be alone to celebrate this victory. They finally had the big man’s attention. Her pace was swift and the majority of the rebels didn’t even see the vampire run by. She was in her room within the second, door locking behind her. Rowan wasn’t quite sure what was going to happen next, but damn she was excited. The past three years had been boring and yet filled with so much frustration that it was about time to have some fun.


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24 hours before the current Morning

That morning the black haired rebel was the last one to leave the shabby looking tent that he and other nine shared. Although he was proclaimed leader of the group, Jack never showed any signs of real commitment to his position, but somehow he always got them out of death’s grasp. It’s been two years now since he first joined the Rebellion and he managed to keep both himself and his companions alive which was not something to be taken lightly. Yet, none of the others could actually tell stories of bravery on their account, as the group proved more useful in the line of information gathering, tending to the wounded and keeping the troop morale rather than on the battlefield.

Jack had to take exactly ten steps forward to reach the cooking pot, based majestically over the small fire like a well guarded treasure. Its actual guardian, measuring almost six ft in height and 45 inches around the waist, was stirring in it with a large wooden spoon.
“Mornin’ Jabba! What are we havin’ today?” Jack asked without looking in the pot.
The large man didn’t bother to look up and replied in a deep, guttural and lazy voice, wiping his free hand on the back of his pants.
“Swan stew with oysters on the side.”
“So it’s beans again.” Jack said fully aware that beans were served at breakfast for over a week now.

When he first joined the rebels things were a little different when it came to food and drinks, but as time went by almost everything went from acceptable poor to “I can eat my own shoes by now” without any sign of improvement. At least on his part of the world.
The Rebellion had little to none financial support lately, not to mention that in the last months the rebels had to hire quite a number of mercenaries to make up for the human loss. There were few who joined for free and even those had to eat and drink.
Most of the support for his camp came from farmers and cattle owners that paid a visit from time to time to donate some of their small wealth for the cause, but they had their own family to feed and self –proclaimed members of the Union who had some influence in the land took as much as they could from their honest work. Being the only thief in the camp and not so very good when it came to teamwork, Jack could only steal from around, where there wasn’t that much to steal. He missed the old days when he could leave the camp and shove his grubby hands into the riches of the Jarvaisians, but here there were only a few villagers and the port was too far away.
Rowan’s camp had it better when it came to supplies and weaponry, she had her way of getting the funds and some wealthy families that were on the rebel's side supported her and the other camps as best as they could. Jack was glad to have her on his side. He had been part of her troops for over a year until he was stationed here along with a few of his old buddies.

Jack took a wooden bowl and scooped up with it some of the smelly food. It was so hot that he felt his tongue pinching and after a couple f slurps he decided to leave the bowl on the side to cool off. Jack was wearing his red pair of pants that day and luckily for him it was cloudy outside. Each time the sun shone on his pants, they got sparkly making him look like a sidewalk entertainer with the looks of a swindler. Not that Jack couldn’t be one of those, but he was more skilled in the art of stealing than as a fraud.

“Where’re the lads?” he asked Jabba looking around and not finding any of his companions sticking around for food.
“Morning patrol.” The man replied throwing an unwashed cabbage in the pot.
“I see the rumors were true. The old crows finally decided to send the army up here and wipe us out.”

“Still apocalyptical, Jac’ke?”
The man turned around and spotted the red haired woman that arrived on foot from the south side of the coast. Jack’s camp was stationed near the river, a couple of days away from the port and halfway between the woods and the mountains.
“Sheera. Nice to see you again, love. Why do you ask? Any good news for us?”
“I might have. We lost about ten men near the main city, but our camp in the woods remained unknown to the army. Their sacrifice protected our location. “
“How about some of them?” Jack asked with resentment. Each time they had a clash, the odds were always against the rebels.

The tall dark elf named Sheera was part of the southern camp, working as a spy for the Rebellion. She had connections with Rowan’s camp, Jack’s and the other camps in the area and she was the perfect travel companion and guide, knowing all the routes by heart. She had the best knowledge of terrain, a knowledge that made her useful for the entire region, not only for the rebels. Merchants often sought her for advice.
“I don’t need to tell you how organized the army is compared to ..this.” she said and gave Jabba a disgusted look. The cook just spat in the dust. “Be grateful we kept them away from the camp, we’re having trouble in south as it is. I have good news regarding the port though. Seems our vampire caught a bone stone . She might know everything about the rumors by now. ”
“ You mean she’s got her hands on one of them rich boys? No wonder her men are constantly winning with all the meat she shoves them down their throats. ‘Kay, maybe it’s time we get ourselves some boar. How ‘bout takin’ you there, Sheera love? ”

The dark elf smiled. “Sure, I have some information to gather up north anyway.”
“Yeah, we’ll take my horse. We should be there by the next sunrise. Jabba, tell the boys I’ll be away for a day or two and make sure to let them know I’m bringing some meat. They’ll have my head otherwise” he whispered to Sheera “Not that I care much, I’m a walking dead body already after a week of beans.”
He led the way to where the horses were kept and chose a sturdy looking brown male for himself. He mounted first and offered his hand to the dark elf, helping her on the horse’s back. Sheera jumped right behind him and her heavy pointy shoulder plates pushed against Jack’s back head, making him yelp like a little girl.
“Now don’t hold on too tightly” he backfired and stabbed the horse on the side with his leg.
“Hiyaa!” he shouted leaving the camp for the first time in a couple of days.

“Damn! I forgot to bring something for Rowan!” he said knowing too well that it has been months since he last saw her and the vampire wouldn’t take him in bare handed and raggy as he was.
“There’s a field of Kaelee’s blood on the way “ Sheera suggested amused.
“Yeah, like she’s the kinda gal who goes for flowers. ‘Though the real deal is not a bad idea. Know anyone named Kaelee?”


They arrived at Rowan’s camp just minutes after two o clock in the night. Jack was the first one to get off of the horse and offered his hand again to Sheera, helping her down.
They were welcomed by Rowan’s right hand,Colvon, accompanied by some of his men.

“Long time no see” Jack greeted him casually. The scar across the man’s cheek always reminded him of why he hated to fight. Colvon’s hand stretched from underneath the heavy cloak.
“No need for a friendly handshake.” Jack said backing away with a step.
“Your weapons, Seer.” The man demanded and his men drew closer.
“You guys never give me a break.” He sighed and handed him his throwing knives followed by Sheera who did the same obediently.

“All of them.” Colvon growled between his teeth.
Jack bent and took another knife from under his pants, just near the ankle. He kept the last one under his shirt, the only blade which he would never give up, partly because it was the only one made out of silver.
“So, where’s our lovely leader?” Jack asked trying to pierce the darkness. The campfire was dim and everyone except the night watch was sleeping. Seeing the orderly fashion in which everything seemed to stay in its place, Jack couldn’t help but thinking how rusty his leadership skills came to be and how poorly supplied his own camp was. Of course, they were also larger in number, Jack only had about 10 people himself, out of which only three of them were not humans. He looked over to one of the guards that stood behind, Colvon, a bulky older orc and swallowed with a gulp. He owned that one some money.

“Rowan is away for the moment.” Colvon said smoothly, it was obvious he didn’t give the man much credit for coming all the way over. After all, it has been some time since Jack fought with them against the army and lately there wasn’t much news about any great victories from his part.
“But I can gladly help show you the way back in case you got lost”. Colvon said without smiling.

“Well Sheera here needs some rest.” Jack replied dragging the dark elf by her hand in front of him. No one thought badly about her, she was one of the most useful rebels around. “She’s been travelling all the way from down south.”
“Very well, there’s a bed open. You could stay by the west wall and make yourself useful as a night watch.”
Jack had no objection to this, he knew the way to Rowan’s safehouse and this was a good opportunity to get away from Colvon’s surveillance.
“I’ll have him accompany you.”

The orc stepped forward with a grin on his face and Jack’s smug smile went down in a second.
Twenty two minutes later Jack Seer was left alone to take watch on the west wall with only his fresh purple bruise beneath his right eye to keep him company. His left arm hurt like hell after being twisted on the back of his body. He waited a couple of minutes, making sure no one was around and swiftly climbed up the wall and headed for where he hoped to find Rowan.

He never entered the safehouse again since that night when he first met the vampire. She caught him stealing from her, the man being totally unaware that this was her hideout. He offered his service and because the woman felt his leagence to the rebellion to be true, she spared him from a most painful, yet quick death.

With his heart racing like a trapped mouse, Jack jumped up the window and stepped into the darkness of the house. His steps made no sound on the old floor and he kept his arms as close as he could to his body. He looked like a moving shadow with his tanned skin and black eyes, but the flashy pants could have easily given him away if he stepped into the moonlight.
“Rowan, it’s me, Pitchblack. Say somethin’ if you’re home” He whispered afraid of getting hurt again if she mistook him for another.


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Captain Kronis listened as the ever faithful Kali started talking and only held up his hand to silence her when he heard the venom in her voice bordering on psychotic. He knew there was a chance that if she carried on, especially if the arrogant child decided to talk back to them again, that the soldier might just draw arms and give everyone a demonstration in weapons handling. The way he raised his arm was almost lazy, his eyes as cold and impassive as ever. When he spoke he matched Leander's don't-give-a-shit tone perfectly.

"If you don't want to do what I tell you, then that's fine. In fact, you'll be doing me a favour. Just turn around and walk out of that door, unarmed, and march on down to the cells where I should have locked you up last night, all of you. Then we'll see how long you last when people who have access to the highest security prisons in the country come after you. You don't really think you have any choice in what I decide to tell you, do you? Do you really think, just because someone is trying to kidnap you, that you have a right to more information than even the officers I give my orders to? If you do, then you really are not worth saving and I should just kill you myself."

He leaned forward, both palms flat on the table, and finished with two simple statements, uttered with a tiny smile.

"You do as I say or you die. Now get out." He did not even cast a glance at the diplomat who had positioned himself between the pair and attempted to defuse the situation. He needed no justification from anyone else.

Who the hell did this girl think she was anyway, attempting to interrogate him, the Captain of the city guard? She was either stupid or genuinely did not know the way things worked. Either way, the message would get through eventually, if not by his words than by the back of Kali's hand. He knew she would not be one to be disobeyed in her professional capacity, though he secretly hoped she would not be too harsh on them. This group did not seem the type to take a fistful of crap without a reaction and he needed them alive. If they were to run off he would be without a single lead.

Truth be told, Loger Kronis wasn't usually this rude to regular citizens, even when approached with a potentially tender subject. The point remained from the night before, however, that people under his command had died because of these people and that really got under his skin. But the real difficulty lay with the timing. They had arrived out of the blue during the start of what could become a full scale revolution and they provided the only possible route to follow in order to find the root of a mysterious evil stalking the streets. Yet the only way to keep them safe was to send them out of the city he was sworn to protect and then to leave himself, in a different direction. It was almost enough to make him pull out his intricately braided hair chunk by chunk.


Further on down in a darker corner of the armoury during this exchange of opinions stood Sebastian, far too engrossed in what he was doing to even notice there was a disagreement in full swing. He had started examining the strange telescope given to him by the Captain. It was small, only a couple of inches in diameter, and made of polished brass. The lens was not as curved as one would expect so he doubted it's range would match any modern telescope he would have used. But it turned out that was not it's function. As he twisted the lens he found the sight through it blurred. When turned the other way it sharpened. It had an adjustable focus and soon the teacher was astounded to find that he could see perfectly through the eye it was pressed up against, without the need for glasses. Every tiny detail was available to him in perfect clarity and to test it he poured through shelves, eventually finding a slightly dusty volume without a title. Upon opening it he found various diagrams and writings on weapons, many of which were present around him. But the armaments were not his priority, no, he was far too fascinated by simply being able to read once more. It would be awkward and would take some getting used to, especially as the gift was only granted to one eye at a time but it was much better than nothing. Sebastian Pherson was not an actively physical person, much preferring to learn his way through theory before getting 'hands on'.

And he looked rather strange indeed, stood alone in a corner staring through an unextended telescope at a book with a look of clear joy on his face. It was only when he turned back with a grin that he noticed the hostility going on nearby and he stepped forward, face instantly returning to the miserable, accepting look that he had worn almost constantly since arriving. He dropped the book and took a few tentative steps forward, listening very well now to what was being said. Someone had clearly earned a roasting, the bad kind, the kind that said so much more through tone than it did through words. And that tone said he didn't care whether they lived or died. Well, his opinion of the Captain somewhat fell when he heard those words, but he did not lose faith altogether. If the implication was that they were safer on the road than in the city then he personally couldn't wait to get moving. So he decided to leave before the armoury became a slaughterhouse.

After creeping around the back of the group and up the steps, Sebastian crossed the courtyard alone with his bow slung haphazardly over his shoulder. He reached his mare, who was pawing the ground nervously until he was withing a few feet.

"What's wrong with you horse?" he asked, genuinely perplexed by how attached to him his steed had become already. Another puzzle would be what to call his mount. It needed a name after all but one had not been mentioned. There would also be no way of finding it out as the people who had previously owned her were either dead or had fled from the fight. He couldn't blame them, that Captain was a scary guy, even when he wasn't fighting.

Just as soon as he had started attempting to attach his quivers to his saddle in a way that would keep them out of the way and stop the arrows from falling out of them, a rather gruff looking man approached from around the corner, followed by a pair of oxen pulling a wagon behind them, the contents of which were covered by a fabric tarpaulin over a semi-cylindrical wooden frame.

"Got some goods fer ye." The man walked around to the back of the wagon when it stopped nearby and pulled up the back of the tarp, revealing crates with bottlenecks protruding from the top, closed boxes, dried plants bound in bunches and piles upon piles of books.

"Wine and books," he muttered. "Guess this won't be such a bad journey after all."

"Tha's the spirit! Wouldn' spect ya to go wi'out yer share!" The response was unexpected, as was the hearty laugh that followed it. In all honesty Sebastian had not realised he was speaking aloud, so long it had actually been since he said anything at all. Still, a friendly face was not unwelcome and a smile broke out on his own face.

"Mind how ya go out there, ain't a good season t' be travlin' affer all" the man said over his shoulder as he started heading off.

"Wait, what do you mean?" was the instant question shot back from the teacher. It seemed he'd finally found his tongue.

"Well, it's th' cold season now" the man said matter-of-factly, recieving only a blank stare in return. "Less food?" he asked, hoping to trigger something, twirling his hand in the air as he seemed to think about something. "Ya know, out come th' wolfs, an' they can't be picky." That seemed to do the trick, Sebastian cottoned on to what the man was saying. Apparently the first signs of frost meant that prey was running short out there for... Something... And they should be wary.

"Oh, yeah, right. Sorry, I didn't realise what time of year it was, time flies."

"Well I dunno about that, I ain't no mage" he said cheerfully as though it was the most obvious answer in the world before moving off. Sebastian opened his mouth to clarifty himself but it seemed that the phrase did not manage to cross from his world to this one, though must have suited well enough. As the others had started approaching he decided it would be a good idea to attempt to mount his horse now, and instead of attaching everything he had he threw two quivers of arrows into the trade caravan, grabbing a book entitled Legacy: A history of Eronnis and it's greater legends before slinging his foot into one of the stirrups. He balanced the book on the back of the roll at the heel of his saddle and gripped the underside of the leather, ready to haul himself up.

With a deep breath he pushed up with his back leg and pulled with his arms, using the momentum to swing his leg up and over, just clearing the pile of gear that sat just behind him. For a moment, just a moment, he thought he'd done it, he thought he'd managed to clamber aboard his vehicle with no trouble at all. Then he started toppling over and he fell straight down off the other side.

A quick grasp managed to find him a handhold at the horn of his saddle and he was left suspended horizontally with his right leg still trapped in the foothold, raising it up and causing the horse to start wheeling around in a tight circle.

"NO, horse! Stop, dammit, STOP!" And it did, again, just as he had wanted it too, though this time she was clearly not very happy with obeying and she whinnied uncomfortably as he hauled himself back up into the saddle, huffing and puffing as he did.


Port of Vestern, the night before, town centre

The streets were dark and abandoned, only the foolish or anarchistic wandering at this late hour. Since the rebellion had started gathering momentum this had been a prime location for viscious attacks in the name of 'freedom' and it was rare that anyone stayed out after dark. Many had fled, many more had boarded up their windows and installed extra locks on their doors, some going as far as hiring magical help to cast charms or traps on their property. These were dire times for the previously bustling port city that was the Capital of the Eastern Baronies.

Amongst those that stalked the street, most were soldiers. The garrison here had increased threefold in the past week yet it was not enough to keep people feeling safe. The actual danger was not as great as most believed but fear was a plague that spread like fire in dry heat. Amongst those soldiers was a fresh recruit by the name of Jacob Maslow, and his orders for the night had been to patrol a particularly small area that consisted of a few streets, a couple of the piers at the waterfront and one dark alley. It was as he walked, sword in it's scabbard at his belt, down this alley that he was attacked.

A larger figure, nothing more than a vague sillhouette, hurtled out of the shadows and thrust an arm around his neck, pulling the man deep into the shadows with no more than a quick, harsh cry that echoed in the still night air. The sounds of a short scuffle ensued, the rasp of steel on stone as the armoured guard was pulled to the ground followed by the high-pitched whine of metal on metal and ended by a choking gargle.

All of this was witnessed by another man, a small fellow indeed. It was more than entertaining to him, it was exciting. It had been some time since he'd found a potential new recruit wandering these streets. It seemed there was no one else who would stand up to the Union Army, so he leapt off the rooftop he had been viewing from and dropped silently to the ground, easily able to take the fall because of his feline attributes. He was quick, strong and brutally accurate. But clearly wasn't too bright.

As soon as he was in the darkness an armoured fist closed around his throat and he knew he'd been duped. It turned out that it was another guard who had assaulted Mr Murphy, and now the pair of them were carrying him away, one fastening a scarf around his mouth to muffle any sound he might make.

"We've been watching you for days but you're very difficult to chase down, Trax. Yes, we know your name, we did a good job of looking up everything about you we could find" the 'assailant' said calmly as soon as Trax opened his mouth in surprise. "You see, it's my job to find people like you. People who aren't too kind towards the Union. People who kill other people. And it's my job to then cut them up real good until they spill their guts about everything they know about this rebellion. And if they don't, I just spill their guts." He squatted down in front of the feline male on the floor, his tanned face and emerald eyes easily visible in the brightly lit interrogation room. "Do you understand me, Trax?" he asked, face lit in a devilish grin.

"Y-Yeah, sure, yes Sir, certainly do" he said back feebly.

"Ahh, please don't call me Sir, it's far too formal. The name's Leech." And with that the soldier pulled a wickedly sharp blade from his belt and whipped it up, slicing a deep gash from wrist to elbow in Trax's arm.


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Here was a man who was clearly used to scaring people shitless, glaring across a table at a woman who simply refused to be scared. Make no mistake, the advantage was his, and both of them knew it. But she would not kowtow, she would not submit, even if she chose to acquiesce. The difference was subtle, but it was a distinction that made all the difference in the world. Theirs was a world of wolves, and she the feral cat. Her life was in danger every time she chose to defy anything they said, but she simply could not be otherwise. And so she stood, proud and disdainful and for all the world as unaffected by their words as a bird in the sky, knowing that though she was only one unwary gesture, one errant word away from meeting her end by slavering fangs, she was not afraid. I do not fear you; I will not allow you to walk all over me.

She took her sweet time departing after he ordered them out, too, testing the boundaries of that fine line she toed with full knowledge of what she was doing. If ever she had doubted that this world was nothing like the one from which she had come, all such doubts had drowned, washed away in the wake of present company. It left a bitter taste in her mouth, like one of those shitty American brews she hated so much. They knew what they refused to tell her, but she'd find out what they were hiding, one way or another.

The thing about people like Leander (if, heaven forbid, she should indeed belong to a type) was that though they really didn't give a damn about much of anything, something in them could not resist a true challenge. It wasn't often anything piqued her interest enough for her to seize upon the opportunity, but there was a canny, often too-smart-for-her-own-good person in there somewhere, and she had sometime along the line decided that she and Captain Loger Kronis were going to play a little game. Hide-and-seek, if you would. So the stalked out of the armory nodding to Blondie. She could appreciate his willingness to step in; there was a sort of strength in that, though she found it highly unnecessary for anyone to intervene on her behalf.

For now, her gambit would be perfect- if grudging- compliance. She was no stranger to subterfuge; it was all too similar to dealing with her parents. The comparison almost brought a smirk to her face, but she suppressed it, choosing instead to let her impassive mask 'crack' slightly, as though she had been defeated. Oh no, she had lost the battle, but the war might yet be hers. Leander was no fool- she knew that something serious was going on, and she would not foolishly risk anyone in her effort to find what she sought, but nor would she give up the pursuit, not when that information might just save her life too.

Outside, though, she was faced with a more immediate problem. Namely, the foul-tempered beast that someone called a horse. Looks were deceptive; what might have been the picture of elegance and equine grace was a monster in the skin of a horse, and Leander knew it. Still, a truce of some kind was going to be necessary for this to work. Sighing, she approached from the side so as to be perfectly visible, her steps becoming (much to her chagrin) genuinely hesitant for a moment as she got closer. She wondered for a moment why the Guard would even bother to keep such a finicky animal, but there had to be some form of reason for it. She was a leggy thing; perhaps swiftness? The woman wasn't so sure she wanted to find out.

At this point, the cart rolled up, and she heard but did not join the conversation that took place between the professor and the driver. The latter mentioned mages, and she wondered exactly what that was all about. Sure, on some level this seemed like something that would fit in with this little world they'd been stuck in, but in another sense she really wasn't sure she believed it. Maybe magic was just what they called science here? The thought that some random guy could just appear out of nowhere, wave his hands, and cause random shit to happen was not precisely a comforting one. Hm... if she was going to win her little diversionary engagement, she would need to start by learning as much about this place as possible. She would have asked Reshma, but she had a feeling she'd closed off that avenue of conversation when she'd made her point earlier. Mayhap someone else would do the asking, and she could get the answers anyway. Hell, she could probably ask Blondie to do it, or maybe Shades.

Aware that her thoughts were edging into stalling territory, Leander moved in front of the horse's head and reached out with tentative fingers. Contrary to her expectations, she was not immediately bitten, which was definitely a good sign. She glanced past her at the sound of a commotion to hear the Professor yelling at his own horse to cease movement, which, oddly, it did. "Heels down, toes in, Professor," she advised. "Sit deep; I imagine it's gonna be a long ride." The words were rote by now, but that advice was the good kind- it generally stopped one from falling off, even if the horse did go a bit crazy. Too bad people tended to forget it when it was important.

Her dark brown animal was still regarding her warily, and she figured if it worked for the Professor, she might as well give it a try too. "Look, it's been a while, okay? I don't like this any more than you do, so let's just try not to kill each other, okay?" She had no idea if her request was understood or not (and it was a sign of just how weird this whole affair was that she was even trying), but the mare stood obediently still even after Lee slung the reins over her head and moved to the side. She'd always thought bits were disgusting, so she'd use them as little as possible anyway.

Muscle memory moved her where her will to get going could not quite stand against her stubborn recalcitrance, and she swung lightly into the saddle, following her own advice and settling comfortably. At least the clothes here were decent for riding. She noted a peculiar leather loop on the right side of her saddle and also the uncomfortable sensation where her knife sheath dug into her thigh, put two and two together, and secured the weapon to the leather snugly. Clucking her tongue, she figured that it was now or never and applied gentle pressure with her legs, urging Katherina (a relevant if slightly obscure reference and the horse's new name) forward to wait beside the cart and for the others.


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#, as written by echored
Time: 2am the Night before the Current Morning
Location: Safehouse, North East of Versten

After she departed from Colvon and the rest of the camp, Rowan found a silent refuge back inside her safehouse. The house only had one floor with three rooms, a luxury in this time of age for one to have to them self. There was the bedroom, an eating room with a large round table and several chairs, and another room that wasn’t used for anything except to store clothes and chests with various other goods. And of course, only two windows, one on either side of the house that were covered up in drapes as soon as the sun would come out.

Currently she stood in the middle of her bedroom, a bed up against a wall and a couch opposite it, a dresser/vanity mirror in the middle up against the center wall. The whole house was dark, particularly her room which was only lit by oil lamps with black sheer scarves draping over them to dim the room even more. A breathless sigh escaped from her mouth as her arms stretched above her head towards the ceiling, feeling each individual muscle flex against her form. Could it really be true that the bulk of Kronis’s army was on their way to the East? And are they just recruits, to test the waters, or was he really meaning business this time? Rowan began to pace around, agitation and excitement swirling together as her fingers traced the polished wood of her vanity table. Her fingers rested on a glass cup full to the tip with dark rum. Her mind continued to contemplate as she picked up the drink and began to sip down the rum like water. It was a significant move on the Union’s part, no doubting that... on the other hand, would Kali be apart of this army coming? Would Kronis even leave Jarvaise? And if he wasn’t even coming out here, then... Oh, bloody hell, the ass isn’t going to come out here! she thought, her red eyes glaring at the wall across from her, and in that brief moment she let her emotions get the best of her- a rare occasion indeed. The crashing sound of glass hitting wall reverberated through the room as her half-full cup of rum now lay in shambled pieces throughout her floor, alcohol dripping down stone walls and soaking into the floor boards. It only took her a mere second to compose herself as she stared at the broken shards of glass casually, a pout on her scarlet lips. She actually liked that cup.

Rowan shrugged off the reaction, hardening her features as she walked to her bedside table, picking up an old hardback book of poetry and then made her way to the couch, laying longways so that her head rested against the arm. It was very worn, having been in her possession for years. There were more than 1000 pages of handwritten versus, once a cream color now the shade of brownish yellow. She’d read through the thing a countless number of times, but it somehow never lost its magic, figuratively. The book wasn’t enchanted, but at its best, it had the ability to calm her down. She cracked the spine of the book open to a random page, and began to read ”Lilies on Fire, when she caught a noise out of the corner of her ear. Her eyes immediately travelled to the door, but when the sound of feet meeting wood continued to echo and the door didn’t move, then the only other option would be window.

What idiot would come in through my window, she wondered curiously, setting her book down against the cushion on she crept her way around the darkness of the house, her bare feet not making a sound as she entered the eating room where the window in question would be located. She never had the need to lock windows, not when she had a full camp of men guarding her house (which they seemed to fail at considering her case now). Someone was inside, standing right in front of the window, the moon’s light bouncing against their form. Rowan stood across the room in the doorway, the moon’s light not reaching her. In fact, she wouldn’t be surprised if he couldn’t see her standing there, for his eyes wouldn’t have had the time needed to adjust.

”Rowan, it’s me, Pitchblack. Say somethin’ if you’re home,” asked a male voice, quiet and hesitant, not that she could blame the guy. His arms clung to him like a statue. Of course, she picked up on the scent, and could identify the smell to that of Pitchblack immediately. She could see him and his every feature.

Before Rowan let herself be shown, her words travelled slowly, quietly, between the air in the middle of the two. “You’ve never been the one to use a door, have you?” she asked teasingly, now emerging into the faint glow that travelled through the glass and lit her cold skin, but only for a moment. She smiled seductively, closing the gap between the two and remerging from behind Pitckblack, a quick trick of the eye. Her body was merely inches from the fellow, her mouth leaning in to where her lips brushed against his ear, hands resting against the back of the human before her, “You smell.... like...” Her nose sniffed for a moment, “Like beans... Even if I didn’t know you, I still wouldn’t want to eat you.” The welcome- though not your everyday ‘how ya doing!’, was friendly enough coming from Rowan. In fact, any welcome to a human that didn’t end in her drinking their blood was a more than kind gesture. Adding to the mixture that this was Pitchblack before her, she had the right to poke fun at him. She’d let him live before after she caught him stealing, so it wouldn’t be too far off his track record if he decided to go in for a round two.

Rowan backed away from the man, letting herself stand in the full light of the now open window so that he could get a better look at her. Her hands moved the long locks of red hair over to one side of her neck, exposing the smooth complexion of the left side of her face. Rowan’s eyes locked on Pitchblack like a feline, the red even noticeable in the dark.

“I don’t usually accept guests at this time of night or ones that come through the window... but,” she paused, turning to look out the window up at the yellow moon blocked partially by dark clouds, “Seeing as how the night is still with us, I don’t see the harm in letting you stay here with me. Is there something you need? Besides a decent meal to flush that bean stench out of you?” Her voice was fortunately normal as she rested on the windowsill, not trying to be overly vicious or cold... just normal, ‘ol Rowan with the classic smirk on her face.


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Now upright but no less steady on his steed, Sebastian was glad of the advice. He obliged by sticking to it and immediately found both relief and further discomfort. He instantly missed the joy of sitting back in luxury in the back of a london cab (Luxury? He had been here barely 24 hours and a minicab was considered luxury!) while flittering through various documents, even sometimes taking the time to catch up on his taxes during the ten minute journey to or from work when he decided not to walk. This was something completely different. How he hoped to read in comfort during the long haul trek across who knew what kind of terrain was now beyond him. Already he could feel the strain his thighs were taking just to keep him from falling off the sides of his mount. He had never imagined it would be this difficult to ride a horse alone.

"Thanks" he replied to Leander, who seemed to be the only person in the vicinity who had even noticed he'd nearly taken another tumble to the ground. "They make it look so much easier in the movies." A stupid thing to say? He thought so.

And then the trade wagon started rolling and there was no more time for complaining, he had to figure out how to drive this beast. He decided to go with a combination of instinct and Hollywood magic, choosing to dig his heels in to the mare's side with as much force as he would have done all those years ago as a child as summer camp, combined with a quick tug on the reigns. His mare, who still had no name, interpreted his actions as something else and consequently started backing up. He looked around, confused, and nearly fell from his saddle again, wrapping a hand around the side of his horse's neck to keep his balance, cursing as he did.

"Bloody hell!" Sebastian was a teacher and as such this was usually the limit of his foul-mouthedness. It was a difficult habit to break. "Forward! Forward gear!" Again, the miracle of obedience fried his logic as the mare responded to his words immediately. It seemed that she was controlled by nothing more than sound. Which can't be right he thought. It's a horse, it can't understand me.

After a quick trot through the streets, which were once more busy even at this early hour, led them to the grand gates at the North end of the city. Towering above them all, set into walls that stretched 60 feet up, two massive slabs of wood and steel, fortified against any attempt at invasion. And they were opening. As the small convoy slowly approached, the crowd parted like the Red Sea before Moses and the gates started to swing slowly outwards. Despite the fact that he knew it was just good timing on the Captain's part and the crowd's lack of a desire to be trampled underfoot, Sebastian Pherson still felt like a king as he and his... 'Companians' made their way out of the city and into the unknown.

What started as a paper-thin slit between the two sides of the gate soon gave way to the first spectacular view of countryside the travellers would see on their quest. Ahead of them stretched about a mile of open grassland, lush meadows untouched by humanoid activitiy, which ended sharply at the foot of a cliff which reached as high as the walls they would soon leave behind. The cliff was the colour of sandstone and streched out to the East and West while curving back away from them to the North, giving it the appearance of a massive, circular plateau with only a single entrance or exit - A narrow, dark gulley that looked far too smooth edged to have been a natural construct. It was magnificently lit by the sun that streamed in from low in the sky in the West. It sent heat shimmers up from the ground in that direction which obscured the desert that lay there, portraying it only as a mirage reflecting the cliffs that stretched away and faded into the distance. They turned right, heading East, and were greeted now with a portrait framed by the walls of Jarvaise on one side and the cliff on the other, twisting away to their left now.

Just past the corner of the city could be seen the same grassland they stood upon, but this had been cultivated and modified. Tall vineyards, devoid of the colour of fruit in this late season, stretched away in front of them while workers ran tirelessly from one to the other, carrying casks, yelling orders and chasing off the last few pests who had taken up shelter there the night before. Birds took flight, rodents scurried into the longer grass and a few of the larger beasts charged the workers, to be greeted with a stick to the face in what was clearly a bored and well practiced movement that sent them lolloping away to seek habitation elsewhere. None of these creatures had ever been witnessed by those who had arrived only the day before but were commonplace around these parts, some people even keeping them as pets.

Kali seemed unpeterbed by the goings-on. And why shouldn't she be, it was after all the first sight one saw upon leaving Jarvaise and she had left and returned more times than the cared to remember. It was no more unusual to her than a beggar in the street. Sebatian, on the other hand, was enthralled. The birds, to him, resembled buzzards with a larger wingspan and his first concern was for the safety of the workers here. The flying beasts looked fiercesome and sometimes tried to fight back but each man and woman took it in their stride and simply knocked them from the air. What the teacher saw as a tribe of warriors was nothing more than the everyday happenings of a vineyard, and far from the worst. Animals that looked to be long extinct predescessors of wild boar were chased out with a shout and a slap across the back. Spiders the size of a man's fist and the colour of watermelon were squashed with an open palm and the remnants wiped on trouserlegs. Burrowing mammals, like moles with the jaws of a great white shark, leapt up and were dispatched with a well-timed boot to the head. Anything that got in the way or threatened the crop was chased out or killed with such incredible precision.

They saw all this as they passed and Sebastian said not a word, he simply stared, barely even reacting when a bird soared up out of the plants and passed within two feet of his head. The utterly foreign ways struck him once more and a pang of homesickness hit him. he did not belong here. Here was a place where people did what they had to do to survive. And watching them was a man who was forced to fetch a glass and a piece of paper to remove a spider from his bathtub should he find one. A man who felt sick at the sight of a rat in the street. A man who had once been chased through town by seagulls on a seaside trip. A man who needed to get away from this place, far away.


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Nox sighed when he was ignored. He supposed it was not the worst reaction he could have gotten, but even so, he thought it would be much better if the two could at least be actually civil to each other. Oh, their manners, such as they were, had not faltered in the slightest, but it would take a fool not to sense the roiling hostility just beneath it. Eventually, though, Leander seemed to back down, and passed by him with a nod. Shaking his head, Nox made his way outside behind herself and Flin, finding his way back to his mild-mannered horse.

His kris knives, he chose to strap to his back with a peculiar arrangement of leather he had picked out beside them which seemed to be suited just for that purpose. They wound up crosswise, and easily accessible over either shoulder, though he really hoped he would not have to do such a thing as draw them at any point. Swinging up onto the gentle mare, he settled and moved up to the caravan in just enough time to overhear Leander giving some riding advice to Sebastian. That seemed a bit odd; she had appeared the least comfortable of the lot with the notion of riding, but she sat like she knew what she was doing. He adjusted his posture to match her own and immediately felt more solid in his seat.

When they started forward, he noted that Sebastian appeared to be having some difficulty and flinched sympathetically, though there was little he could give in the way of counsel, except perhaps to be softer with his gestures. All of these thoughts left his mind, though, when the gates opened, and Nox was reminded once more just how beautiful the world really was. Apparently, this was just as true of his new residence as it had been of his old, maybe more so, since he was actually in a condition to enjoy it.

The sprawling plains were a vibrant green, and it appeared that the area immediately outside the walls must be some kind of vineyard country, if the apparatuses around were anything to go by. It very much resembled the older methods of winemaking he had read about (though never seen, of course). The sun was warm on his face and in his hair, and Nox thought that maybe things weren't quite so dire as he had imagined them to be moments ago. "It's extraordinary, isn't it?" he asked nobody in particular, a fascinated smile lighting his face with almost childlike delight. He was here, he was alive, and he could see and feel all of it. For him, such simple things were enough.

The creatures caught his attention next, though, and he lay against the muscled neck of his horse so as to get a better look. The patient animal whuffed softly, but continued at the moderate walking pace that Kali had set, which allowed him ample opportunity to study what he was seeing, to really look at it. The animals were at once fantastical and mundane, as though each was a strange chimera of things he had seen before and things he could scarcely have imagined. He caught sight of a flock of shimmering, scaled birds overhead, and tilted his head back to observe the iridescent shimmers they made when the sunlight struck them just so. Their long-plumed tails seemed to leave a trail of color in the air behind them, but that was surely his imagination, for they faded as soon as they came into view.

It seemed to him that all of these creatures were used to living in proximity with people (he found that he could no longer use the word "human" comfortably, simply because it implied a set species), as much as people were accustomed to dealing with them. Still, they weren't exactly domestic, and somewhere in amidst all the wonderment and delight a thought struck him: would they have to confront larger, more feral creatures somewhere along the road? All of this was so new and pristine to him that Nox had a desire to leave it all as though he had never been by, and he was loath to consider marring the wilderness by passing where he shouldn't. There was also, of course, a tinge of apprehension, for if this place could conjure beings from his childhood dreams, surely it was also capable of producing the kin of his nightmares?

Perhaps it would be best to ask now rather than wait to be surprised. He knew that anything relating to their purpose or the Guard's plans was taboo, but surely someone would see the value in answering a simple query or two about the land itself? He supposed there was only one way to find out. "Excuse me? Lieutenant Reshma? Pardon me if the question is intrusive, but is there anything you can tell us about what we'll be facing? Speaking for myself at least, I honestly have no idea what to expect from this journey, and I think perhaps any small piece of information might be of assistance." What he was really saying, of course, was that he wished to live, and frankly wasn't sure how to go about guarding against the contrary when he knew not in which form it would appear.

Nox looked about him at the others, perhaps seeking confirmation that at least one other was thinking in the same direction as he. Leander probably was; he'd be willing to bet she'd take any information she could get, and probably be able to do more with it than any of them. Flin he wasn't sure about exactly, but he'd seemed a bit... paranoid before, and so might want such knowledge. Sebastian just looked like he really wanted to be elsewhere, and Nox couldn't blame him for that. Marlaina, he though, would probably accept just about anything with that odd sort of inhuman grace and poise she had. As for himself, who could say? Only time would really tell how any of them adapted or failed to in regards to their situation. He certainly hoped all of them would manage it okay.


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The vampire’s seductive whisper rang in his ear. “You’ve never been the one to use a door, have you?”

Then the woman’s beautiful face appeared in front of him and for a moment Jack’s gaze held hers until Rowan disappeared only to emerge behind him. He felt her hands on his shoulders, her lips against his ear. The man felt shivers on his body, but not of fear. It was the kind of feeling that made him think of his wife and how long it has been since he last saw her, of how long it has been since he felt a woman’s touch.

“You smell.... like...” Her nose sniffed for a moment, “Like beans... Even if I didn’t know you, I still wouldn’t want to eat you.” Rowan’s unique humor dispersed any romantic feeling her presence might have induced and Jack found himself laughing wholeheartedly for the first time in a couple of weeks. The vampire stepped back, revealing her full figure bathed in moonlight. She was dressed in a silk dress, an unusual choice of clothing for a female soldier. For an ordinary female soldier, Jack thought.

She tucked her red curls over to one side of her slender neck and looked him in the eyes. The red color of her iris was enchanting and repellent in the same time; it spelled “danger” to anyone close enough to see it. Of course, once you saw it, death welcomed you the next moment.
Despite his unnatural fears, Rowan had welcomed him in a more than friendly manner, exactly how he remembered her: charming and ironic. She even invited him to stay with her until dawn, an offer she never made casually except to a few.
“Is there something you need? Besides a decent meal to flush that bean stench out of you?” she continued amused and a smile curved her scarlet red lips.

“I’m happy to see you can afford to be picky.” Jack said honestly, half sarcastic. “Me and my mates on the other hand…well, least to say we can sure use some meat. I’m all bones and skin” he continued, lifting his shirt to emphasize on his words.
“I wouldn’t say “and blood”, ‘cause that might give you ideas” he continued looking straight at her bust.
Now he could relax a bit as she rested near the window covered in the moonlight. He leaned against the wall, arms locked on his chest, one leg across the other. It was a defensive position, that much he knew about body language, yet his shoulders and neck were relaxed.

“Colvon hasn’t changed much. Still looking like he has a stick shoved up his ass.” He paused for a moment waiting for a sign of approval on her part which never came. “But I’m not here to talk about old times. Yeah, I’m saying “old” ‘cause six months down there felt like six years!” he continued slightly angered seeing how the woman raised an eyebrow.
“I want my men to come back here.” He concluded sternly. “And me with them.”

Jack wasn’t afraid of a refusal from her part, but he wanted to give her something in return just in case.
“I heard the rumors. No one knows how many are coming, but I doubt we are enough to make a stand right now. You might use a few good men.” In all honesty, apart from missing a decent meal and all the other advantages he had by staying in Rowan’s camp, Jack Seer missed the action, the battles,the fun. He wanted to take part in scouting and tracking down the army’s men, to fight again and steal as much as he could while at it. Heck, he even missed Rowan’s bossy attitude and her little vengeful complex.

“I also came to tell you that our position’s not good. Sure it’s well hidden and so forth, but that’s just the problem: we have nothing to do except guarding the land. Truth be told, it ain’t much to guard either, only chicken and peasants. I know the Rebellion has to take as much land as possible, but let’s be honest here; we aren’t taking back our lands this way. We need to hit the jackpot if we wanna do something and you know it.” He took a breath and approached her, his eyes locked on hers.
“So what do you say? Wanna get back together?” he said smiling, fully aware of the double meaning in his words.


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#, as written by echored
Nightfall, North East of Versten
Rowan’s Safehouse and Camp

Out of the many rebels she has met in her time involved, Jack was the most reckless one she met. Amusing was an understatement to describe the simplicity of what made Rowan taking liking to the man, even after he tried to steal from her. Maybe it was the over confidence in himself and the sense of humor in the face of danger that made him stand out. Maybe it was the fact that he seemed to have a brain unlike most of the fools she encountered. Either way, she wouldn’t kill this man unless necessary.

Her palm gripped the window sill, her gaze partly paying attention to Jack and the outside at the same time. It was early morning, the sun would be up in a few hours. The curse of the sun would kill her if she was exposed by the warm rays of light. After dealing with it for so long now, it was a mere nuisance but nonetheless a respectable foe. Of course, Rowan managed with the night, and it was then she was most deadly.

What made her grin was that Jack was leaning against the wall across from her trying to come off as calm as he could, but the defensive stance was a give-away that he was still on edge. And he is right to feel the way, coming here so swiftly through her window.

She listened to him speak quietly, everything about her expression serene and mysterious. So he was here for some food just as she thought. The joke about “and blood” made her tilt her head, red eyes blinking intriguingly at the human. Him mentioned the word blood was starting to make her hungry. She placed her right hand on her stomach and brushed her fingers against the dress, a gesture as if her stomach was growling. Her stomach wasn’t growling but came out of habit- she was human once a long time ago, after all.

“Colvon is a bit stern, but he means well,” Rowan said casually in response to Jack’s comment. Colvon had the same cool-headed mind as she, and he was always quiet. She liked that. She also liked how he was so empty of feeling- feelings made people act rashly.

“I will let you and your men join us here. I have heard word of the approaching Union army,” Rowan said, this time moving her attention fully on Jack as she stood from her sill and began to walk to the center of the room. “There will be many of them, I’m sure of it. Kronis always was the one to out-due himself. No denying the fact that he wants this battle to be an example to all that faced him.” Rowan held her ground as Jack began to approach her, his gaze locked and unflinching.

So what do you say? Wanna get back together? And then he smiled. Rowan couldn’t help but smile smugly with the curl of her lips. Such an innuendo called for a little jest, and she slipped slyly closer, baring the tips of her fangs. “Be careful what you ask for,” she spoke, voice luring and feral like she was narrowing in on a prey. Her tongue rolled over her right fang and then back to her mouth as she reached forward and twirled a piece of his hair. “I can’t promise your men long lives. In fact I expect many of my own to die in due time. At the end of the day, I have no loyalties to anyone but myself.”

Rowan backed a step away, giving Jack back some of his personal space. She was taunting him and purposefully sending out waves of seduction all the while saying she would let him die if he got in the way of her plans. Of course, if he minded his way there would be no issues with him and his men joining the camp. The could always use more men, and she was expecting the arrivals of others.

“Make camp next to the trees by my men,” she stated, as if her way of saying welcome aboard. She moved her way out of the room they were in and beckoned him to follow her. She stopped walking when she reached her bedroom.

Looking over her shoulder, the red-headed temptress watched as Jack followed, his face lit dimly by candle lights. “I’m thirsty,” she said simply, still as a beautiful marble statue.


Flin and Gang, Next Morning,

“My ass hurts already!” Flin growled atop his black horse who was unaffected by his rambunctious rider. Flin rubbed his lower back with one hand and held the reins in the other. It had been so long since he had been on a horse and he could remember why he never really enjoyed it. The group made their way out of the city’s gates, massive as they were. Already so many people were outside ready to come in and do their daily trading. Flin scowled smugly as he made contact with strange looking monsters and demons that reminded him of the ones he’s seen in horror movies. Maybe Flin had fallen into hell? But how? The next few minutes Flin spent quietly making assumptions until he hit him again. He kept forgetting about his damn sunglasses! They had to have a part in his coming here since all of them have unique objects.

Reaching at his side, he took out the strange looking glasses again. He wasn’t sure what material they were made out of but it felt very durable. Seeing as how the sun was up now, Flin found no objection to not put them on. With his right hand he slipped the shades over his eyes. At first all he could see with them on was black which took him back a second. He nearly was about to take them off when he noticed that they were gradually beginning to take in light. His hand rested back down on the reins and he waited patiently for the glasses to adjust to his eyes.

This is strange.... I can see everything now, but there are... different colors of light emanating off everyone’s skin...” Flin thought to himself as he looked around. “My glasses are messed up!” he mused, a surprised expression building at his features rapidly. He looked down at his own arm which was fluctuating between shades of orange, from bright to dark and back and forth. “What is the meaning of this!” he demanded in bravado, but in reality he was slightly spooked. Why was he orange and could others see this too? Why was Marliana glowing a rosy pink? And Leander a dark yellow? The only color they all seemed to share, even a bit of Kali, was a hint of grey. It made no sense, and yet he was fascinated. Something was telling him to take them off while the other part of him was eager to experience this anomaly.

All of the excitement caused Flin to bypass that his horse was glowing red with frustration that Flin kept squirming around in the saddle.

“Leander! Do I look orange to you!” Flin called out as his horse moved closer to her along the pathway. He voice was loud enough to distract all of the group, and he didn’t think about how Kali would react to the outburst. Maybe she would understand though... for whatever was happening to him was definitely part of this world and not where he was from. All this was unfolding simultaneously with Nox asking Reshma to fill them in on what they will be facing on this journey to the East.


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Leander was a bit short-changed in the wonderment department, instead studying everything with a clinical efficiency that doctors themselves might envy. Her face, as always, wore the relaxed expression of complete disinterest and no small helping of boredom. If she'd bothered to think about it much, she might almost have found it funny, for the same reason that deadpan comedians were amusing. no matter what absurd situation she was faced with, it was unlikely this quality of hers would change, and the stark contrast with Blondie's innocent fascination and Shades's raging paranoia was highly laughable.

Of course, she didn't think this closely about it. Just as well, maybe: knowing it was funny probably would have ruined it. Rather, her mind was in a million different places, it's analytic functions perhaps finally having a chance to live up to the expectation made reasonable by the sharpness of her stare. She had snickered once, at the Professor's comment about the movies. "It's the same principle, I suppose... only less. A nudge will do where John Wayne would have stabbed with spurs." She shrugged, and fixed her eyes on the landscape again.

Of course, after a couple minutes of relative quiet, someone decided to kick up a fuss again. It sort of figured; she doubted this group could survive long without doing something strange or weird or new and puzzling, but to Leander it all sort of shook out into the same adjective anyway: troublesome. Right now, Flin was shouting something about being orange, and Leander glanced back at him. "And here I thought that tan was au naturale. No worries, Shades, whatever bake bed you're using to grill yourself hasn't turned you orange." She rolled her eyes.

Honestly, she doubted that was really the reason for his distress, but it wasn't like bombarding him with questions would make the sensical half of the explanation come any faster, so she simply deflected with bone-dry humor as usual and hoped that the fact that she was doing something about it would stop Shadow from having flip-out episode number two. Surely I have enough luck to be spared that at least.

Kali, who had been riding towards the front and trying her hardest to simply ignore the people behind her, almost allowed her irritation to get the better of her when the loud one started yelling. Almost. Though she was trained as a disciplined member of an army, self-control was not always her strong suit, and enduring this trip without hurting any of these ignorant people was going to be a challenge, she knew that much already.

It wasn't as though she was inherently violent, she just didn't appreciate their behavior, and that same military training dictated that often a good beating was the best way to resolve that sort of thing. It wasn't as though she hadn't given out plenty on her way up the ladder to where she was, and honestly some of them had been given for less flagrant idiocy than they displayed on occasion. She reminded herself that as far as she could tell, they really were foreign to all the customs and rules here, and in that sense they should probably be looked at as children rather than soldiers. She wasn't overly fond of children.

Whatever she might have done in response to Flin's outburst was diverted by Nox's much more reasonable question, and she was glad that at least one of them seemed to know how to show respect. She wasn't entirely sure he had a spine, but that was something that would be shown in time, one way or another. "That depends on a number of factors," she answered him. Like whether someone sees through this disguise, or the rebels figure out that we're coming. "The animals will get bigger and more aggressive as we move away from the city, and we'll have to post watches at campsites, because that can be dangerous."

She didn't want to sugar-coat the truth, but she also was not about to give these people any more information than they needed to know, so she blamed all the potential danger on the wild beasts. It wasn't as though the rebels were much different anyway.

"Here, let me see," Leander sighed, dropping her reins and steering Katherina with her legs so she came up alongside Shades's horse. "Stop squirming unless you want to get thrown off," she informed him calmly, then plucked the sunglasses off his head smoothly. Turning them around in her hands, she noticed nothing out of the ordinary about them, but shrugged and slipped them on anyway.

The world greeted her in darkened hues, but nobody was any abnormal color. "Nope. Nothing out-of-the-ordinary here. Who knows? Maybe it's some weird magic shit. Someone mentioned mages earlier, right? Maybe it only works for some people. Or maybe just you." She never lost her devil-may-care tone, but she had to admit to a certain level of curiosity. She wasn't going to discount the truth of it just because Shades had said it; she was beyond that by now. Still there was no denying that she hadn't seen anything, so logically that only left a few options, the most likely one being that something was up with his eyes.

She handed the glasses back and moved her horse off a bit again, just catching the tail end of Shadow's answer to Blondie. Wild beasts, huh? She'd be damned if that was all there was to it, but she'd accept the warning at face value and be on her guard at any rate. Be on my guard? When did this turn into some kinda swords-and-sorcery storybook? She almost scoffed at the very notion, but it was a little too close to reality presently for her to follow through on the inclination.


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Sebastian was drawn out of his trance by words floating back from the head of the pack about wild animals. Clearly what they had just passed had not been enough to be classed as 'wild' and he doubted whether he'd enjoy seeing anything more ferocious than those pests charging towards him. Though what Kali said made sense, any larger and more dangerous creatures would have adapted and set up home further away from civilization so that the chances of being hunted would be diminished. But these few were now on the open road and anything could take the advantage of surprise when darkness fell. Despite the warm breeze from the desert behind him on the back of Sebastian's neck, he shivered, giving thought to the odd qualities of this place and the events they had bore witness to thus far. The convenience of finding help where needed, the journey they had found themselves on, the unbelieveable way they had all convened at once and the strikingly different characteristcs of each member of their troop. From the calm and possibly naive through the sarcastic and emotionless, the overt and rambunctious, the quiet and introverted, the new and reborn, every end of the spectrum was present in some form and the probability of such a thing happening by chance was simply staggering. But there was no longer any denying the truth. They were here, and it looked like it was for the long haul.


Back in the city however, Captain Loger Kronis was doing nothing of the sort. His mind was not occupied by nightmarish creatures nor impending danger, despite his journey ahead containing both. Genuine peril came with the job and he had long since lost almost all traces of fear. Fear was weakness. And Loger Kronis was not weak. This was his personal philosophy and it kept him comfortable during long nights alone in the wilderness.

And the first of many would be coming tonight. Orders had been left with a small number of chief officers detailing the procedures should any foreseeable circumstances arise, so too had rotas and shifts for the next fortnight. It had taken more work than he would usually have done in a week but over the course of two days and nights the plan was set for hopefully any result concerning his many expeditions sent out.

He mounted his horse in full battle gear, there would be no secrets about his leaving, only his motives. Rumor would have it that he was setting out to personally oversee the crushing of the rebellion and he would follow in the steps of his Lieutenant for the first few miles to add credence to the falsification, then he would turn North and charge on for the frozen lands, intent on gathering as much information about the escaped prisoners as he could. His horse was fast and strong, as loyal as any other and would carry him to the capital of the Northern Baronies in three days, four if the mountain weather was treacherous. There he would find answers, and the answers would dictate his next movements. He hoped, severely hoped, it would take him East so that all loose ends could be tied up and trimmed in one fell swoop.


A mile or two on (Distance judgment was not a skill with which Sebastian had much experience) outside the city, the vineyards came to a stop and a few large buildings, probably distilleries judging by the smell, dominated the landscape as the only structures in view. The plains stretched on to the horizon without so much as a shrub to break up the endless flat expanse of grass. Relief washed over him as any thoughts of a potential ambush by feral beasts were eradicated from his mind. With such terrain it would be difficult, if not impossible to sneak up on someone. Clearly he had not considered the effects of nightfall yet and, as they say, ignorance is bliss.

Behind him there was some mention of the sunglasses that were forever adorned upon the loud one's head but never, it seemed, worn until now. That the world was seen differently through the glasses did not surprise Sebastian at all. In his opinion the strange man must have a rather twisted view of the world as it was, a touch of orange to that would only serve to make it a little more colorful. Perhaps he was being a little bitter, but he just couldn't help but hold it against the guy that they'd had a run in with the law because of him. It was also true that that run in had saved their lives, presuming those people had wanted them dead eventually. He couldn't imagine them being there to help, surely that was what the soldiers were doing by sending hem East? He didn't know, he didn't know anything anymore except that this was a fresh start whether he liked it or not and he was not going to be seen as someone to back down easily.

As the miles rolled by and any idle chatter he had been involved in gave way to relative silence Sebastian found himself pouring through the book he had slung up on his horse before setting out. He kept to himself mostly, taking the time to get to know this new world a little better. And though he would most likely always prefer a book over first hand experience when it came to such matters, there was barely a thing happening to help them figure out anything as it was.

Noon came and went and it was perhaps an hour after then that Kali called a halt to the convoy and ordered them down off their mounts. This was easier for some than for others. Sebastian may have managed to get up on to his horse (Eventually) and find a relatively comfortable position that allowed him to get some reading done but dismounting was something else altogether. As such he ended up examining the lush, green meadow close up. Even though he landed hard on the leg he threw over his horse and ended up collapsed on the ground he could not help but appreciate the scent of fresh grass. It was sweet and fragrant and reminded him of the countryside, where everything was slow and safe.

The ate a quick lunch of bread and red meat that the teacher assumed, and dared not think anything else, was beef and washed it down with a generous helping of wine from the wagon. All except Kali that was. She was a soldier, a damn good one, and it was rare, if ever, that she let her guard down in any way. Not a drop of alcohol had passed her lips in more time than she could remember, even in her absence from duty. Quick though the meal may have been, it had a quaint family feel to it, like a picnic, and whether it was the wine or the beautiful surroundings, Sebastian soon ended up smiling as he leaned back on his elbows and gazed up at the endless blue sky that stretched away in all directions.

But all too soon they were back on their horses and heading East again. How many miles had been covered was now a mystery to anyone who hadn't been counting, with the possible exception of Marlaina. And every mile passed by unnoticed to one man in particular, who had found a seemingly endless summary of the history of Eronnis, this land they had all been brought so unceremoniously to, as well as lists and descriptions of it's many flora and fauna. Names of the things they had passed started to bury themselves in his mind and every fact or snippet of legend he read that held some relevance to him was stored away in his thoughts for later reference. Tales of travelers and ancient explorers who had disappeared or reputably found 'hidden doorways' were noted dutifully in his quest to get home.

However there was so much to trawl through that often he found himself reading into totally irrelevant things and it was all he could do to stop himself from believing he was reading a fantasy novel instead of a historical document. Here was a land of epic ventures and arcane events, magic and dragons, knights and quests. It was the stuff of every child's dreams and he was there, trying to find what he needed to escape it.

He read about the takeover of the Union and what they stood for, he read about insane entrepreneurs who were attempting to tame dragons, he read ageless tales passed down from generation to generation conceived with the express intention of scaring all but the most hardened of intrepid venturers witless. Sebastian Pherson, physics teacher by profession, read about things he could never have imagined, let alone believe, and he soon became lost in time, oblivious to everything around him until darkness fell and they were forced to make camp.


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The Lieutenant's answer wasn't exactly comforting, but then if he had wanted to be comfortable, he simply wouldn't have asked at all. Nox was not a reckless individual, nor did he think he would seek out danger under most circumstances, but, well, there was a difference between that and cowardice, which was a trait he most certainly did not have. Predatory animals, and large ones at that... something told him this was not the only danger they would face, but he also got the distinct impression that even if he asked, he would receive either an evasive answer or an angry command to stop inquiring.

Not wanting to push that particular boundary too much, he chose instead to thank the Lieutenant for her assistance and resume riding in peace. The scuffle in the back seemed to have died down, so it was somewhat quiet as they rode on. Nox divided his time between making conversation with anyone who seemed amenable (avoiding Sebastian because he seemed absorbed in a book) and studying his surrounding, attempting to learn as much as he could about what he was seeing with the occasional question directed at Kali, which for the most part she answered with impressive patience considering how basic they must have seemed to her. Nox thought he had a pretty decent feel for the boundaries of her tolerance by this point, though, so he was careful not to bombard her, even if that was what he wanted to do.

Lunch was nice. If he had ever been on a Sunday afternoon picnic before, he would have had something to compare it to, but as it was he found it singularly pleasant, and discovered that he much enjoyed Leander's dry wit and her frequent verbal repartee with Flin. It reminded him of a lot of comedy duos, actually: the no-nonsense "straight" one whose humor mostly consisted of deadpan one-liners, and the much more animated "funny" one, whose humor was as much in gestures as words and certainly counted as far more bombastic. Marlaina was just interesting to talk to, and Nox had respect for Sebastian's obvious dedication to learning what he could, and wished he had thought to bring some reading material as well.

He discovered that his new, repaired body had aches of its own, and by the time everyone dismounted for the evening, he was ready to not sit down for a while, which was convenient, because apparently help was needed pitching camp. Nox made himself as useful as possible, learning how to pitch a tent and set a rabbit snare in the process. Well, he thought it was a rabbit snare, anyway, and he didn't ask the member of the caravan who taught him what specific fauna it was intended for. He was still a vegetarian, after all, though he would not balk at helping someone who asked for his assistance.

Once the camp had been pitched and the watches arranged (Nox had volunteered to help with the first, since he was not in the least tired at the moment), the group arranged themselves around a campfire and ate dinner. The generally-sociable pianist realized he wasn't really sure what to say, if there was anything to be said. The situation they found themselves in was unique to say the least, and really it was not hard to tell that most conversation-starters would be laughably inapplicable. All the same, his ingrained friendliness wouldn't really allow him to maintain silence, especially not when they didn't really know much of each other in the first place.

"Well," he started at last, "does anybody mind my asking where you're all from? What you did there, perhaps?" He offered a universally friendly smile. "The way I see it, we're going to be around each other for a while, so it might be nice to know..." he trailed off slightly sheepishly. As a rule, Nox didn't like stepping on toes, but he didn't seem much point in treating each other like strangers. Like it or not, they were all in this together, and he at least thought that they should each make an attempt to know a little something about the others. "I myself am from New York City in the states, and was a concert pianist, as frightfully dull as I'm sure that sounds."


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Rowan wasn’t one to compromise, Jack knew that well. With her there was always black or white, nothing in between, even if she painted her words in color. “I can’t promise your men long lives” she said touching his hair and her words sounded natural.
”At the end of the day, I have no loyalties to anyone but myself.”

“I wouldn’t say that if I were you. If word spreads out, you won’t have anyone left to follow your lead by the next sunrise.” He commented knowing that unity within the troops was the only thing that kept the rebellion alive.

She offered him the place next to the trees to set camp and then walked out of the room. Jack followed her until they reached the bedroom, that’s when she stopped to look at him once more.
”I’m thirsty” she said. That wasn’t what he wanted to hear, but her eyes said something else. Or maybe he was mistaken. In any case, this was usually his queue to leave.

“I have something else I wanted to ask you” he searched in his pockets and took out a wrinkled piece of paper that smelled of tobacco and unwrapped it in front of her eyes. It was a poorly drawn map of Eronnis. The details were quite accurate though, it even had some stick figures on it: there was one with a mean face right in the center of Jarvaise, representing Kronis, a hero of some sort with a cape right where his camp was and another of a woman whose chest took half of the body, in the same spot Rowan’s post was.

“I know from a certain someone that the Trade Confederacy wants to sent a group of men past the river. Their destination is unknown, but I believe they’re headed for the Capital, passing through here” he put his finger over the only open road that passed through the forest in the East, staining the map with dirt.
“Now we all know that the Trade pays tribute to our buddies for over a decade and we didn’t manage to get one coin from them in our so called victorious battles. That’s ‘cause we never tried to get it before it leaves the port.”
His head was dangerously close to hers and Jack had to back away from her fangs when he realized his position.

“I suggest taking a walk to Vestern. Not alone, of course. They might be about ten to fifteen on the road, only half of them soldiers. We could take’em down before they meet the Army outside of Vestern,but that means to act in the open and get ourselves killed. What if we take the load from under their oversized noses? They must surely keep it in the main builduing’s basement.”

He brushed his fingers through his unruly hair, taking off the dirt along with a few pieces of hair.
“I would go back to take my men, but I’m in dire need of a bath and a hot meal. Would you be so kind to send someone after them and my things?”

He wrapped the map and placed it back in his pocket.
“Where can I wash my overly muscular body, by the way?” he asked looking around with interest. Washing himself in the river at that time of night when the water was colder than usual didn’t appeal to him. He gave another one of his charming smiles before looking at Rowan with a not so subtle look on his face.


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#, as written by echored
Location: East, Early Morning Before the Sun

Rowan’s fingers traced along the side table near the couch. Small particles of dust clung to her skin, fragments of accumulated time. Years could pass by and things wouldn’t change for her, the same body and mind haunting her being since the moment she was created. This was the life she found herself in now, much different than the life she stumbled upon thirty years ago. Jack would never understand the true meaning behind her words of loyalty. ”You won’t have anyone left to follow your lead by the next sunrise...” Jack’s words carried, only a faint twist of Rowan’s lips giving clue she heard what he said. Everyone would eventually die, why did it matter to her when? She would be the only one standing like always, and the cycle of finding a new life would begin all over. Besides, the last time she gave true loyalty a shot, she was nearly, literally, stabbed in the back.

“Please, sit or stand over here,” she called to him, motioning that he stand near her bedroom window which was slightly open. Outside, there was a distant sign of the rising sun. Morning would be here soon. As she spoke to him, she moved to a glass jug sitting on her dresser, half-way full of blood, her version of fine wine. With an empty glass she filled her cup up and took a sip. The fluid ran smoothly down the back of her dry throat, her fangs relishing in the taste.

All the while she watched Jack as he pulled a piece of paper from is pocket, a whiff of tobacco lingering between the grips of his hands. Within just a moment she was by his side near the window, her cup of blood gripped in one hand while the other examined the map drawn of Eronnis. Her eyes narrowed when she noticed the stick figure planted at her location, obviously her- it almost made her chuckle, but she hid any sign of amusement asher red eyes scanned the old, torn paper more.

Jack continued on with what sounded to be a mission he took up. It was true that Trade Confederacy helped the Union, she was very aware of that. The idea to take the loot before it left the port was reckless but indeed amusing. Breaking into their main headquarters could work if there were enough trained rebels to take this on. Her camp had money to go on, but many lone troops of the rebellion didn’t have the luxury, just like Jack’s men. Taking the coin would solve that issue, as well put the Union back a few more days before they could resupply. The East was the Rebellion territory whether Kronis liked it or not, so they had the advantage. Still, Rowan wasn’t an idiot and knew how to pick her battles.

“Your mission is intriguing. You can take 5 of my men. Leave this coming evening,” she stated, purposefully leaving out that she would observe this mission once nightfall circums, but only to watch and not to take part. If any of the Union army noticed she was apart of the Rebellion forces, she would lose her step up. Yes, she had to keep her position in the shadows and sniff out what Union members were actually on their way. Only she would decide when it was time to let Kronis know of her presence.

“You can wash your overly muscular body in the forest’s spring, just like the rest of the men in the camp with overly muscular bodies. I don’t want my own bath smelling like beans and dirt. Find Colvon and tell him to send Speral after your men. Now listen,” Rowan said, and backed away from the window as the sun continued to inch further up in the sky. Her back was turned to him, dark auburn hair motionless. “No more requests or I will show you what happens to men who ask for too much,” she slipped slyly, referring to the pile of tossed bodies that she threw over her balcony-- men who served as her feeding supply. Rowan turned her had around, lips appearing to be stained with blood as she gripped her cup.

“The Trade Confederacy is your target, just watch your back in Versten.” With that, Rowan opened the door to the outside from her room, motioning that he take the steps down to the camp instead of taking off through the window.

Location: Path to the East

Flin rode alongside Leander atop their horses as he continued to gaze out through his sunglasses. The different glows that surrounded everyone in this group was fascinating and yet he had no clue what it meant. All that he could try and match this with was Captain Planet of the Power Rangers... they all had their own colors. Then again something told him this was different than that. The colors around each of the people here had to mean something, they weren’t just for variation purposes.

What broke him from his tangled thoughts was Leander, who effortlessly plucked his sunglasses off his face and placed them over her own eyes. Flin’s expression widened, expecting for her to see the lights, too. But to no avail, Leander saw nothing strange... So was it magic? Why could he only see it? The glasses did come with him to this land but they weren’t his to begin with. He sighed fully, loud enough to irk others while he slipped the sunglasses into his pocket. There was no use in tripping out to a light show when he didn’t have a clue what the lights were or meant. Maybe in the next town he would be able to find someone who could help answer his questions. There was no doubt to what he saw, he wasn’t being crazy.

Flin and his horse fell back to their previous position on the path, though this time slightly closer to Leander. She was the only one out of the lot of them that seemed to be held together, besides Kali of course. The Lieutenant marched onwards, no hesitation in her swift glide. She could walk this road in her sleep for all it seemed. The conversation of beasts and monsters bypassed Flin as he continued to harbor thoughts in his head of knights and wizards and fairy tales. Were his eyes magic now?

Flin’s nose ruffled as he caught the scent of alcohol, eyes catching sight of what appeared to be distilleries. The buildings seemed old but then again this had to be advanced technology in an era like this. Soon the structures passed and what was left was a vast open field. Lunch came and went as the sun grew heavy with red and orange, on its way to setting. Soon they would find themselves making camp.


Flin lay stretched out in the open plain, the moon now high and bright in the sky. Never before in his life has Flin seen so many stars, this land untouched by light pollution like the modern era has. Constellations marked their place in the universe above, but Flin still wondering what universe this may be. Rolling on to his stomach, he glanced at the rest of the group about 15 or so feet off. Nox was getting the tent up while Marliana started a campfire. Kali was carrying different baskets of food from the caravan to the fire with ease. The smell of roasting meat finally gave Flin enough strength to muster his way over to the group that now surrounded the campfire. He might not show his appreciation like the others, but having this type of food in a place like this was very comforting. Flin flashed a glance over at Leander, for a moment pondering about what she may be thinking.

Nox then began to speak, breaking the chill of silence. He would be the type that found the silver-lining, he had to give it to the guy. Introductions were about the only conversation topic that seemed relevant besides bugging Kali for more hints on where they were going to go once out East.

“I will go next,” he said with a smirk, eager to get everyone’s attention though he didn’t have too much to say. “Originally born in Boston, but I’ve travelled the country. Lived in New York for a couple months,” Flin said, looking at Nox then back at the rest, “Finally ended up in L.A.... California, you know? Great weather, friendly homeless population...” The last of his words slipped out unintentionally. Hhmp, homeless... well, to late to take back what he said now. “Yes, I slept out on the streets and beaches. Before I woke up here, that was what I was doing.” He didn’t want any pity, nor did he expect any. He also didn’t care what they thought about him being homeless, since the truth was all of them were homeless now.


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Leander passed much of the rest of the journey that day trying to decide exactly how she felt about what was going on. As much as she generally found emotions irrelevant and not worth exploring, she knew that she probably ought to get everything sorted out as much as possible now so as to avoid some considerably more inconvenient and possibly embarrassing outburst later on. This was much more difficult for her than it would be for a healthier person, because she made a habit of shutting out anything that even resembled feeling on most occasions, with the exception of dry humor or the mildest of amusements or surprises. Easy enough for her to do now that she'd ha d so much practice, but difficult to reverse even to the degree needed to examine her own situation from all angles.

So she slowly unraveled her circumstances and made with the introspection, as she would have put it to someone who asked, if she would be of a mind to answer at all. It was a complicated skein, fraught with knots and tangles more numerous than she really knew how to deal with most of it, so she skipped over a great deal and got to the heart of the matter. Even she was surprised by what she found. Leander decided that after her superficial anger at Kronis, after the frustration of not knowing, after the instinctive rebellion caused when her own will was superimposed by another, after all that, she didn't really feel much at all. Uncertainty was there, yes, and even the roots of her thinking contained a healthy dose of indignation (which should have come as a shock to nobody), but under that was not the apathy she affected at all times, but simple accepted. Yes, she was in some strange place she had no reason to be. Yes, apparently there was a good chance she'd die before she figured all of it out. In the end, though, there wasn't much she could do about any of that except fight with all she had until she couldn't anymore.

Well, all right then. Leander was no stranger to fighting, in any sense of the word, and that much at least was something she had every confidence she would be able to pull off with some aplomb. Never roll over, never give up, and never let them know they have you on your toes. Something like that, anyway. It was shockingly similar to the attitude she'd taken when her parents finally disowned her, and she guessed that it couldn't hurt to take up the mantle again. And here, in the unfamiliarity of a completely foreign world, she'd found a small fragment of what she considered to be her only redeeming quality. Go figure. And she'd tried so damn hard to be beyond that sort of thing, too. Oh well.

When it came time to dismount and make camp, she staked the Shrew (her horse, because everything got nicknames) to the ground and gathered firewood for Marlaina's fire, occasionally using her knew knife to hack through underbrush that demanded to keep its dead wood. Probably a disgraceful use of a weapon meant for battle, not that she cared any. She'd camped often enough in her life, mostly in those rebellious teen years when her parents thought she was at a friend's house. Granted, that friend was with her, but they were more likely to be drinking and smoking in the middle of a forest than studying on someone's bedroom floor.

Stacking her burden into neat piles beside the fire (but not so close that it would catch), Lee took some of whatever was offered for dinner and settled herself somewhere in between Shades (who was a ways away from the fire, stargazing), and Blondie. She sniffed at the food and decided that it didn't smell half-bad, so she ate it swiftly but quietly. Some things never left you, snooty tablemanners among them, as she had discovered. The long-haired man with the friendly face started talking, and she shrugged. What he said made sense, and she wasn't easily offended anyway. Except apparently by the military types around here, which was weird, because there were loads of old soldiers who frequented the same bar she did, and she got along swimmingly with them. Hell, maybe it was just Stabby. She didn't bother contemplating why, though, because something Blondie said caught her ear.

"Thaddeus Nox... hey, wait a second, I know you! You played a show in Sydney with the New York Philharmonic." she hadn't gone, not having the income or the inclination, but one of her coworkers couldn't stop raving about it for weeks afterwards. What was it she'd said? Something about Blondie being really brave, to be able to play in his condition... she looked him over for a second. He looked just fine to her; Angie (the coworker) had also been fairly obviously infatuated, but there was something she couldn't quite remember...

Shades took the opportunity to talk, though, and Leander dropped the point. If he hadn't seen fit to mention whatever it was, what business was it of hers? He slipped up somewhere along the line and mentioned being homeless, but frankly she couldn't have cared less. Leander knew plenty of homeless people, and most of them were way nicer, more decent sorts than the ones she'd grown up around. Shrugging, she decided she might as well contribute. "Hmm... the family's from London, but I moved to Australia a while back. I work in a bookstore, believe it or not." Most people who had to guess went with bartender or, for some odd reason, artist. Granted, she could draw pretty well, but she was nobody's Van Gogh. "How about you, Professor?" she asked the man, in something between curiosity, an attempt to draw him into the conversation (which was unlike her enough that she was confused by it) and a desire to move the focus away from herself.


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There wasn't much to do really, everyone seemed to settle happily into a role as though they were on some sort of family camping trip. Sebastian had not the slightest idea of how to put up a tent, nor how to start a successful fire. He could not hunt, he could not build, he could not fight. Really, he started to think, he was useless out here in the wild. In fact, he seemed to be useless pretty much anywhere he could think of in this mystical land. While some had basic skills in combat and others clearly had the gift of the gab, he was left alone to watch as they all worked as a team, something he had always thought himself good at. Maybe at the end of the day he wasn't, he was just good at being told he was part of a team and then left to his own devices. It seemed likely enough to him now that he thought about it. He always seemed to work better alone, despite getting along with everyone. Well, everyone was perhaps too conclusive a word. There were no enemies, but there were relatively few close friends either.

And all this left him stood staring into space as he wondered what possible contribution he could make to the proceedings. It soon struck him that the only option would be to do what he did best, which was the boring stuff that no one else thought of. So he slowly strolled over to the wagon and made use of the dwindling twilight to start rummaging around inside. He trawled through books and bottles and bags until he found an empty journal and some ancient stationary (Which may have been cutting edge as far as he knew), deciding that at least making himself look busy was better than gawping at everyone else. He made an inventory of everything in the wagon, from the largest crate to the smallest sprig of herb, and by the time he was done the fire was crackling away and the group had settled down to the smell of roasting meat, something that no amount of distracted thoughts or procrastination could keep him from.

As he went to place the final book back in it's place, he was nudged from behind, reasonably hard in the shoulder. He turned with a frown and was greeted by a snort in the face from his horse. He retracted his head for a moment then raised his hand to rest on the mare's face.

“You don't mind me, do you girl? I can't be all that bad then.” He sighed. “But I can't depend on you to save my ass every time something comes up.” He scratched absently at the back of his head for a moment and reached into the wagon to bring out a few vegetables that were stacked in a crate near the front (Everything had been placed back in an appropriate and easily remembered order), dropping them on the back of the caravan before heading off to fetch dinner of his own as the horse who needed a name started chomping away.

Mouth watering, he took his place near the fire, dropping the book he still held in front of him. Despite clear signs of hunger and a hard day of riding, Sebastian could only pick at the food that he took, instead choosing to stare into the flames as thoughts consumed him. He half listened to everyone around him and made mental notes about them as each took their turn. Intending to go last, if at all, the teacher was surprised when the feisty bookkeeper from down under asked him of his origin directly and his head snapped around, eyes blinking away the heat that had been blazened upon them by the dancing, flickering fire.

“Me?” He recognized the reference, she had called him 'Professor' before, but he was just a little caught off-guard. “I'm no professor, not yet anyway.” He shifted himself back and placed his palms on the cool grass behind him, back popping softly as he stretched. “But I'm from London, now you mention it. A physics teacher, if you must know. Not exactly where I saw myself at this point in my life but I'd still quite like to get back there right about now.” He was speaking casually, having seemingly, finally, accepted that he was stuck here for the foreseeable future, but the words escaping his lips made him realise something about himself; he had not given up.

Something, or someone, had taken his home, his job and his entire life away from him but he was going to get it all back somehow. He had no idea how but if he never managed it then he would die trying, he promised himself that much at that moment. But for now, he was here, with these people, so it was probably best to get to know them a little better, tired though he was from the journey so far.

“And it's Sebastian, my name that is” he added, gesturing to himself. “You know what I do and where I come from, you may as well know what I'm called.” That added up to about half of them with names now. “How about you?” he asked, looking over at the other side of the fire to the few who had yet to give their names; the Australian bookkeeper, the Boston vagrant, the New Yorker Pianist and the Lieutenant from... Well, it wasn't like they'd know it even if she had told them. And frankly, he wasn't feeling in any place to ask, his attention had suddenly shifted to the front of the book he had brought to the gathering, which lay in front of him, title glowing in the firelight.

Magic and the Arcane arts, a leather-bound volume that seemed devoted to the mystery that was magic. His first thought, obviously, was that it was fictitious but he had leafed through a few other documents and they all seemed to be factual, documentaries of the medieval era. Was it so hard to accept that in this bizarre world of terrifying creatures and semi-humans that powers of the supernatural could exist?

He decided to leave the book for the next day. He would need something to occupy his mind for the remainder of the journey and such a mystical idea, trivial though it may still have seemed to him, would be just the thing to keep his mind busy.

When names had been given and conversation was just beginning to take form Kali walked over, having seated herself apart from the convoy to eat and reflect on the happenings of the day.

“It's getting late, I'd get some sleep if I were you. We're up at dawn. Except you.” She pointed to Flin. “I'll wake you when the next watch starts.” She started to walk off. “Nox, with me, I'll talk you through what you need to do.”

She guided the man away from the camp and positioned him far enough away that the firelight would not illuminate him, but close enough that he could see any oncoming danger.

“Keep your eyes open, watch in all directions. There are creatures out here that can sneak quicker than your eyes can follow if you don't pay attention. If you see anything, anything out of the ordinary, just shout.” She started back to camp, though with no intention of sleeping. She would keep watch tonight too, there was no chance she would leave it up to civilians to guard each others lives.

“Good luck” she said bluntly over her shoulder, almost grudgingly. This was not her usual mission, it was far from it, but she intended to do it as well as any other assignment given to her. People were not exactly her strong point but she knew her fair share about manipulation and gaining trust would be necessary on the journey, she had a feeling she would not be rid of these people any time soon.

Kali took her place in a tent but was soon out, camouflaged in the darkness in a change of clothes, watching all around her restlessly while the others set about preparing themselves for sleep.

Sebastian lay awake, as unwilling to sleep as the soldier who sat watch over them all, mind once more flooded with thoughts. It was far too dark to read but he had an unexplainable urge to just keep on filling his mind with information. He had not felt such a craving for knowledge in many years and it was, in a distant way, comforting to relate to a past time in his life at an hour as dark as this one.

The night passed, the watched changed without incident, and the dawn arrived. Sebastian had managed a couple of hours of broken sleep and emerged from his tent with dark bags beneath his eyes, hair stuck out at the back of his head and a strong desire for a coffee and a shower, neither of which he would find out here. Kali, the travelers would see, was waiting outside for them around the remains of the fire, dressed in battle gear and at arms. The time had come for them all to learn the art of combat.

“Gather your weapons, we'll train before we head out” she said simply, swinging her sword in a lazy arc around her hip. Sebastian groaned. He was not a great morning person and the last thing he wanted right now was to work up a sweat.


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When Leander had alighted on his identity, something inside Nox had frozen up. He realized that he really didn't want anyone to know his whole story, and this surprised him. While he had never been averse to lying to protect people's feelings, he was generally an honest soul, and the thought that he wanted to keep such a full-fledged deception between himself and the others startled him. But that was just it, wasn't it? If the deception wasn't there, it would be replaced with something far more cumbersome.

In every relationship he'd ever had with anyone (his father included), there had always been his illness, his infirmity, his body's frailty and fallibility. It was not in the nature of human beings to be able to see past such things completely, no matter how much they wished to. Even if they called him by his first name or commended his skills, it was always his name or his talent in spite of his disease. He was always at once less and more than he knew himself to be because of it, that iron-plated wall that separated him from everyone else. He'd never had any sort of interaction with anyone that was free of that taint. Unlike a cancer patient or someone with HIV, both equally deadly in their time, he could never hide the evidence of it, never pretend even in the smallest moments of his life that it was not there. Because the evidence was so readily visible that it destroyed all possibility of this.

He didn't want to take the chance that knowing what had been would be enough to induce the same thing now, in these people. Because, regardless of what they thought of him, if they liked or disliked or even outright hated him, he would welcome it all, knowing that not one lick of it was based on that monster of an illness. If it had only to do with a mix of personalities, he could deal with anything, he was certain of it. Genuine dislike would be so much better then veiled pity. He'd be ecstatic if he made a friend solely on his own merits.

She seemed content to drop it when Flin spoke, though, and for this, he was immensely relived, and he was sure that made it through to his face somehow. He was too happy to mind much. Everyone turned out to be interesting, after their own fashion, and he had to admit that he was surprised that Leander was a bookshop clerk. He would have pegged her as something closer to a bush pilot, maybe, but then that could just be his active imagination talking. He'd had Flin down as one of those graphic design people that made the environmental-activism billboards at night when they hadn't paid for them, or graffiti'd anti-war messages on government buildings. An establishment saboteur. Sebastian had been an astrophysicist that worked for NASA (imported, obviously) and studied pictures from telescopes all day. None of the revelations about their actual jobs disappointed him in the slightest, though, because to Nox that meant that there was just so much more for each of them to become, and he might actually get to stand back and watch it.

Sebastian's statement caused him to realize that he'd never actually stated his name, though Leander (whose signature he'd seen on the sign-out sheet back in the armory) had. Aware that he may inadvertently trigger more recognition, his words were careful. "My first name is dreadful," he pointed out. "Really, I'd just prefer Nox, if it's all the same to you."

Shortly afterward, Kali was teaching him how to keep a watch, and he smiled appreciatively. "Thank you very much, Lieutenant Reshma," he said with a nod, and then he tried to make good on the advice. It took a little bit of practice, but eventually he got the hang of looking everywhere at once and not really focusing on any one thing in particular. It was a largely uneventful watch, though once he almost thought he saw someone moving around. It was just out of his peripherals, and he spun around. As it turned out, it was the Lieutenant, skin darkened by the night again, and she simply nodded at him to continue, which he did, until it was time to wake Flin.

Nox slept quite well after that, and woke feeling refreshed, if a tad sore. It seemed like the day was to begin with a rather large bang, so to speak, and while he didn't mind as such, he still could not help being repelled by the idea of violence. All the same, he retrieved his kris knives from his things, and joined the others around the dying remains of the fire. If they were careful, there was no need for anyone to get hurt, right?

He wondered how exactly they were supposed to do this. Would the Lieutenant attempt to fight all of them at once? He was not convinced that she would fail if she tried. In fact, he was pretty sure she'd succeed admirably. Still, it didn't seem like it would help any of them learn anything new. He decided that the most obvious likelihood was that they'd be squared off against each other and given instructions. It was almost humorous, trying to imagine himself and Sebastian especially doing anyone any damage. Leander, he was almost certain he didn't want to mess with, and Flin... had a rather enormous double-headed axe. Nox wasn't sure exactly how the shorter man planned on lifting it for more than a few minutes, but it didn't seem like he'd need finesse to do damage- gravity would probably take care of most of it.

Nox's fingers tightened around the hilt of one of his knives. New body aside, he was not the burliest of men, rather the opposite. Rangy and wiry if anything. Which meant he'd probably want to stay away from any direct contests of strength. So... speed? Flexibility? He realized he had no idea if he was fast or flexible, and the sensation of foreignness that he'd felt upon first waking in this skin, at once his and someone else's, surely. Perhaps this exercise would give him an opportunity to discover some of these parameters, though why he hadn't done so already was escaping him, as so many things about this situation just seemed to do.


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Jack was glad that the vampire agreed with him and even sought out to give him five of her men for the job. Of course Rowan wouldn’t join him on terrain, why should she when she had bigger fish to fry? He didn’t complain, it was in his nature to do the dirty jobs after all.

The man folded the map as best as he good and shoved it in his pocket.
“Damn, I’ll freeze my ass off! I think it can wait” Jack thought upon hearing her suggestion to wash in the river. She also explained what can happen to him if he asked any more favors, so the man had no other option but to follow her command and walk out of the room.

“The Trade Confederacy is your target, just watch your back in Versten.”
“Yeah, no sweat!” he replied rushing down the stairs already thinking that he had no choice but to see Colvon again. He found him near his tent, watching over the fire with a few others, lost in his thoughts.

“Thinking about me?” Jack asked as he approached them casually. “Rowan said to give me five men for today’s evening.” Colvon looked at him with suspicion, but he knew that no one would joke with that. Rowan would probably kill anyone lying about her orders, if not suck him dry first.
“I’ll pick them first thing in the morning,after I get my beauty sleep. I want him too.” Jack pointed to the orc and got a growl as reply from the one in question.

“My men, my picking.” Colvon said aprubtly, without losing his temper. “You’ll find them here at four o’clock and I shall have them back in 24 hours.”

“I guess I can go with that. She also asks that you send Speral after my men. If you don’t remember where my camp is, I’ll be more than glad to draw you a map.” He concluded ironically with a smile on his face.
“It will be as she requested.” The man replied and signaled his group with a bow of the head. The orc and another grabbed Jack by both arms and started to drag him toward the back of the camp.
“What the hell!” he shouted confused as his legs left trails in the dirt.
“You moved from your post, Seer! That is still under “desertion” in my book.”

The two brought Jack to a sturdy tree trunk used as a pole for the Rebellion flag. Jack saw their faces, so different from one another. The human looked worn out and he was obviously very pissed that he had to do this in the middle of the night instead of sleeping, while the orc was smiling like a kid in a toy store.
The latter told him to climb up the pole.
“Come on guys, you don’t really want to do this.” The orc pulled his sword and grinned. Jack turned his back on the two looking up. It was a long way to go. He turned his head ready to complain when he felt the point of the sword poking his bottom.
“Auch! No need to get violent, I’m going!”

He climbed the trunk like a moneky, using both his hands and feet. The other one plunged his spear into the ground, point up, just beneath Jack’s body while the orc went on the other side in case the man would think of circling the trunk.
“Oh, come on! Isn’t this a bit too old?” Hungry, tired and in desperate need for a bath, Jack clunched to the pole, six feet away from the ground.

“~ He was a saucy sailor boy/ Who'd come from afar, /To ask a maid to be the bride
Of a poor Jack tar.
The maiden, a poor fisher girl/ Stood close by his side…..~”
Jack’s awful voice echoed in the night, as he started to sing in hopes of annoying the two out of their duty. Some even heard the growls from his stomach just before the sun started to rise.


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#, as written by echored

The door slammed followed by a click. A brass key locked the entrance way that blocked Rowan from the outside world, from those that can relish in the sun without fear of being burned. She lost that privilege long ago. Now with all further distractions gone for the time being, it was time to rest. She took her time walking to the window, fingers lingering on the dark curtains that shielded the room from the rays. Sometimes she wondered what the feeling would be like to experience day light. Her skin was cold and empty of any color to life, it was her curse to the shadows.

Rowan pulled the drawstrings to the curtains, the room engulfed into darkness within seconds. She hummed to herself as she made her way to each candle that glimmered against her dresser. At the moment it was time to rest, for she grew weaker during dawn, but twas the night was looking forward to. It would be an interesting one, no doubt. Within Union forces coming into the port city, playtime was about to begin. Jack and the lot of her men would be heading out the oncoming evening to face some early troops sent in. Her supervision from the distance would be the determining factor if anyone important was present.

“Kronis.... I’ll see you soon,” Rowan whispered while sliding under a hand full of layered black comforters. Sleep struck her fast as she closed her heavy eyes, meanwhile the sun was rising high up above.


The small bonfire in front of the group of nomads was the only source of warm in the area. Everything else around was black as the color itself and letting off ominous owls that weren’t all too comforting. The sharing of stories continued amongst those involved until Kali interrupted as gracefully as she usually seemed to be.

”Except you, I’ll wake you when the next watch starts...” Kali said while glaring at Flin. He glanced around at the people on both sides of him, making sure he wasn’t mistaking the look into her eyes.

“Alright, alrght... but a get a few hours, right?” he groaned, rubbing his forward more exaggerated than normal and then leaning back down on his side. With a salute towards Nox, Flin quickly resorted to shutting his eyes before wake up call. His lips twitched for a moment at the feeling of Nox shaking his shoulder to switch positions.

“Okay, okay, I’m up.. hell,” Flin muttered, a funny growl-type expression across his face as he took post. The only familiar comfort he could pick out was the music of the crickets and grasshoppers. I guess some creatures are always the same no matter where you’re at. Restlessly gazing at the darkness, Flin decided to slip on his sunglasses again that he continued to keep clipped to his pocket. At first nothing seemed to change with them on, but then certain areas began to lighten up. Faint colors of purple and reds off amongst the treeline away from camp. These were the same weird colors Flin had noticed earlier while everyone was riding. “Whatever those colors are, they give off a fucking creepier feeling than the rest of us..” Flin spoke to himself, his arms crossing with a nervous grip.

Flin continued to keep the sunglasses on, not flinching his gaze from that which was off in the distance. Morning came quicker than he expecting, getting to firsthand witness the sunrise of this land. He sighed happily, knowing that the rest would be up soon enough and he could rest up a bit and let his guard down. His shoulders will killing him from the posture he found himself in for most of the night.

Kali was the most awake out of everyone, clapping her hands to collect everyone together. “Combat training, huh?” Flin mumbled, stretching his arms and legs while walking towards the wagon for his pretty hefty axe.

“Pretty badass, huh, Leander?” Flin said while clutching the base of the axe with a sturdy right fist. The weapon was heavier than what it felt yesterday but her was stubborn enough to make it work. With enough training he would be a deadly evil killing machine.

“So who is my training partner, Lieutenant Mam?” Flin called directly to Kali.


Upon the hour of sunset

Rowan’s camp collected in a circle around the freshly started campfire. It was almost the time for Rowan to wake from her rest and join the circle.

The soldiers that tied Jack up at sunrise and made him cling to the pole had now let him come back down. With Colvon’s permission they allowed the obviously drained man to have some freshly cooked red meat and a variety of roasted vegetables that were leftover from breakfast.

Colvon was meanwhile speaking with Jack while he watched him eat his meal.

“Jack, these are the men that will be best suited to take with you into the city tonight. Don’t make a fool out of yourself and get these recruits killed under your watch,” his voice rang, slick as oil without much effort put behind them. One could tell he was always in a worse mood without Rowan around. Those men that were selected were standing on both sides of Colvon, eyes fiery with intention on accomplishing the mission set out for them. “They are briefed on all the details, so handle this flawlessly or it will be your heads.”


Rowan twitched under the sheets, the tingle of the night creeping up her spine. Her red eyes beamed open, awake instantly and standing within seconds. She smelled the air. It was almost time... The time to thrive. She ran her fingers through her long tresses, fangs exposed under her top lip. She was hungry for some blood and some action.


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Kali looked out over the assembled group and cringed inwardly. She would never externalize such an expression, of course, but just because she appeared unfazed by the monumental nature of the task before her did not mean that she was. She didn't question the Captain's judgement, but if she did, she'd be doing so right about now. Watching the loud one heft his axe around was almost enough to make her want to walk back into her tent and pretend they didn't exist. She was a soldier, not a babysitter. But then, it was for exactly that reason that she had to try and make them capable of defending themselves. No simple assignment.

"All right. You," she pointed at Sebastian. "You've only got a bow, so find a tree, make sure there's nobody in front of it, and get to practicing. We'll cover how to dodge and avoid melee combatants later." That left her with an odd number. Fantastic. She briefly entertained the idea of telling both men to go after Leander, but that wouldn't work out the way she wanted it to. There was a possibility that Flin would figure out how to use that thing he was waving around, and she highly doubted someone like Nox would agree to an unfair fight. It looked like she would have to participate rather than simply instruct from the side.

In a sense, this was much more palatable than standing back. She needed the workout, too, but the chances of any of these people providing her with a challenge was laughable at present. Though, there was one other way she could get the most out of this... Kali frowned, considering her decision for a moment. "You and you," she pointed at Leander and Flin. "Your opponents are each other for today." They both seemed to know their way around a fight, and though in some sense either one would have been more of a challenge than Nox, she was actually going for the opposite idea now.

"Nox, you're with me." Instead of drawing her sword, Kali dispensed with it and went straight for her ceramic knife. Nox had selected knives as well, which meant that he could benefit most directly from the knowledge she had. He was also least likely to have picked up any combat "habits" already, meaning that she was essentially working with a blank slate, something she found interesting.

"Are you kidding?" Leander countered, crossing her arms and fixing Kali with a disbelieving look. She pointed at Shades and his axe and raised an eyebrow. "If he manages to hit me with that thing, I'm dead. If I hit him in the wrong place, he's dead, too. I don't know anything about swords or any of that business, but I do know how to punch a guy and these-" she held up a reinforced gauntlet- "are more than enough to make a jab to the throat or something lethal."

Kali's eyes narrowed to slits, and she stared the other woman down. "Than you'd best not get hit. Aim elsewhere if you must, but do you think your enemies are going to use wooden weapons because you're new at this? That if you rationally explain you situation to them, they'll strike only nonlethal blows? Don't be naive." Still, she grudgingly supposed there was a point in there somewhere, and marched over to a pile of wood, grabbing a branch about the size and weight of Flin's axe. "Use this. As for you: if you don't think you're skilled enough not to break his neck, then fight him barehanded. You and I will still be using actual weapons, Nox."

With that, she turned to face the tall blond man, knife at the ready. "Come at me in any way you can think of. I guarantee you won't kill me, so don't hold anything back, or I'll make you pay for it."

Leander huffed, but did not don her gauntlets. This was practice; the idea was to improve, not kill anyone. "I'd recommend the stick," she told Shades flatly. Cracking her knuckles individually (a habit her mother had always hated), Leander settled into a low stance, resting on the balls of her feet and ready to move in any direction at the notice of a mere instant. Her art was by nature a more aggressive one, but not without defensive postures and forms. Taking a deep breath, she tried to remember all the things she'd learned as a teenager; it had been about a year since she'd even approached a dojo; this was going to take some oiling before the rust went away completely.

Her best bet was probably to goad Shades into doing something stupid. But how? A wry smile twisted her face. Maybe a better question would be which of several methods she should use. Cocking her head to one side, she extended an arm, palm up, fingers curled, and gestured him to come at her with the first two. That one had been in several action movies; he was bound to know it and heed its advice right? There was always the joke about that axe compensating for something, but she'd save that one for later, if she ever used it. She wasn't overly fond of innuendo-based humor, actually.

Without taking her attention off Shades, she glanced over at the confrontation between Kali and Nox. What was up with that, anyway? Did she have enough of a grudge against the guy that she wanted to slice him to ribbons, or was she just that insane? Considering the fact that Nox probably couldn't offend someone if he tried, she was leaning towards the latter. Unless he refused to fight her for gender reasons, he'd probably survive. Hell, every time some idiot tried that on her, she hit twice as hard on principle. If you were getting in a barfight in the first place, there was no way you were a gentleman, why pretend to be one then?

In retrospect, the Professor had probably done the smart thing by choosing a ranged weapon, though that promise of "dodging practice" did not sound like much fun.


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Being ordered to head away from melee combat and fire arrows into a tree for a while was somewhat of a relief for Sebastian, who had never thrown a punch nor a wielded a weapon in his life, hence his particular choice of weapon. There was also perhaps some vague patriotism in deciding on a longbow but the thought had not yet crossed his mind as British history of warfare couldn't be further from his mind right now. What was at the forefront of his consciousness at this particular moment on a sunny yet chilly morning was no longer how he had ended up where he was or what he was going to do about the situation, not ona large scale at least. No, what was really bothering him was that it was now the start of his third day without a decent wash and the signs were clear for all. As he reached back inside his tent for the bow he caught a waft of his own body odour from beneath his arm and cursed medieval standards of hygeine.

Sebastian was a little surprised at the pairings behind him and took a moment to silently question Nox's chances of surviving the next few minutes of his life before rubbing his hand absently across his chin and grumbling something about triple-bladed razors as he grabbed a quiver of arrows from the back of the wagon, seeing his horse (Who he decided would be named that day) staring at him from her post. He raised the projectiles in greeting, shook his head and started talking aloud on his way towards the edge of a small, lightly wooded area that had remained unnoticed to him in the darkness of the previous night.

"Can't believe I smell this bad and I'm waving to a horse... I must be going insane. Well, I am talking to myself, they say that's the first sign."

He continued this way until he reached a suitable distance from a tree he picked almost at random (It just happened to be the largest one on the wood's fringe). With a weary sigh he dropped his weapon to the ground and set about rubbing his thighs in a pathetic attempt to soothe the cramp which had set in overnight after the effort of riding all day before getting to sleep. Needless to say, his childish attempts failed and with yet another sigh he picked up the bow and slung the quiver of arrows over his shoulder, ready to teach himself archery once more.

Straight back, front arm slightly bent, slow draw he thought, finding the stance surprisingly familiar after so many years. Annnnd, draw. This went well at first, this simple act of pulling back the bowstring, but all soon fell to pieces. The tension was high and the string was sharp, meaning the teacher could do little more than hold the bow in position without an arrow in place. Aiming was simply impossible because his arm shook far too much under the strain and after a few seconds he was forced to release, not a good idea when his hand was moving quite so violently.

With a viscious swish and twang, the energy in the bowstring was released and the original position was re-attained structurally, unfortunately catching a chunk of the man's far-from-firm chest in the process.
"OW! Bastard!"
With a shout and words to match how he felt, Sebastian threw down his bow again and began rubbing at the afflicted area with the same false hope of making it any less painful. It seemed it was a habit he would soon be forced to break and so he tried now, bringing his arms to his side and gritting his teeth. He growled in frustration and anger and contemplated simply taking his horse and making a break for it, living free on the road. Of course the diea was preposterous, he knew nothing about this land or it's people, he knew nothing about the road ahead or the dangers he was certain he would face. So he was forced instead to raise his weapon and simply try again.

Though Sebastian was in no short supply of perserverance, something about the act he was trying to perfect just felt wrong to him. Combat, in any shape or form, was designed for men who were different to him in many ways. Men who were physically stronger and faster, not he who could analyse the laws of physics and look as imposing as a housecat when holding a lethal weapon. Thoughts such as these raced around the man's mind and the seeds of doubt began to grow, in turn helping his anger to bloom and raising his stress levels to dangerous points.

The fuel of combined rage and worthlessness may not have been pleasant for him but it served it's duty in stimulating the release of adrenaline and his second attempt, mostly through impatience, found him holding the bow steady with an arrow in place. He waited and held his breath, counting down from three, right arm quivering noticeably but not nearly as badly as before. And when he reached zero he let go of the bowstring and watched in stunned slience as the arrow flew a straight and true path, ending it's course embedded, and quivering like his arm, in the centre of the trunk of a large tree. Of course, it wasn't the one he had been aiming for but it was a hell of a good start for a man who had not held a bow in perhaps three decades.

Elated, Sebastian forgot his troubles and raised a fist in the air, happier than he had felt since arriving, and called out a short, blunt phrase for the second time that morning.

"Yeah! Get in!" Words he had never before used in his life, most likely plucked from memories of his students that lay just beneath the surface of his awareness. He had gone from being teacher to student so quickly that maybe he was taking on traits to fit the change. Or maybe it was a bizarre, new situation that required new language on his behalf. Whatever it was, he was overjoyed and didn't give a damn what he shouted.


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Sebastian wasn’t the only one unsure how Nox was going to survive the next few minutes. The gentle pianist himself was rather certain that little ceramic knife and the small woman who wielded it were going to be the literal death of him, and he was made most apprehensive by the possibility. Swallowing his fear, though, he simply nodded, and unsheathed his own knives.

Kali immediately shook her head. “No, just one first.” He blinked with suprprise, but trusted that she knew what she was talking about and complied, sliding the black-handled knife back into the sheath it had come from and leaving it at his back. The blade of the one he’d withdrawn glinted in the morning sunlight, the wave to the steel producing and odd effect. One might have thought it looked innocuous, but Nox did not entertain such delusions. It was a weapon, and it was made to kill someone. Why was he doing this again? He really couldn’t remember.

Thaddeus Nox had never been what one would refer to as ‘macho.’ In fact, he barely qualified for remotely masculine. His benign nature and rather artistic profession had earned him some rather unsavory nicknames, actually, and while he had never let them get to him, he was for some reason remembering them now, as he stood facing a diminutive female who fit society’s expectations for manliness better than he ever could. There was most certainly an irony in that, now wasn’t there? Then again, the same could be said of Leander, what with the devil-may care attitude and the rougher mannerisms.

He didn’t put much stock in things like that, of course, but even so, it was all yet another reminder of his inadequacy come to taunt him when it already could have not been more obvious. Kali stood there, like a viper coiled to strike, fangs dripping toxin that would lay a bear low (metaphorically of course), and he was simply standing there like a dullard because he had absolutely no idea what to do. He’d never needed to hurt anyone in his life, and he’d certainly never desired to. Yet, it seemed that this was what was now demanded of him. The question was: was this a demand that he was even capable of meeting, much less willing to meet?

He realized that the answer had to be yes, else he’d be nothing more than a hindrance to the group as a whole, and he did not desire to have that role in the slightest. So when the Lieutenant challenged him to come at her, he obliged, surging forward with more speed and grace than he would have expected of himself. It seemed this body of his at least knew a little bit about what it was doing, even if his mind and his heart could scarcely comprehend it.

What effectiveness he could muster was, of course, not nearly enough to contend with the experience and reflex of the soldier he was faced with, and she sidestepped his lunge, leaving him with a small cut across his cheekbone for his trouble. “That’s once I’ve killed you,” she informed him bluntly. “The majority of all fights end in less than three seconds. He who strikes quickest is victorious, but that means nothing if I know exactly what you’re planning on doing. Don’t project your movements; move as quickly as you can, but not that far in advance. You have to feel it instead of thinking about it. Again.”

Nox nodded, ignoring the sting on his cheek as blood slowly dribbled down from the wound. That was once he’d died; she was right. He had to do better. This time, when he lunged, he feinted left and switched at the last minute. His blade scraped ceramic; she’d blocked, then delivered a blindingly-fast counter. His bicep now bore a thin line to match his face. “That’s twice dead. Better, though. You’re still thinking too much. Again.”

Did the punishment she was doling out amount to ritualized torture? In some senses, most definitely. Would he benefit from it in the long run? Without a doubt, and he sensed this. So even when he was riddled with small wounds and panting, having managed to land not a single hit on Kali, he did not complain. The world blurred, and all there was was the two of them, the weapon in his hand, and the whiplike crack of her voice as she urged him to try again. And again. Again, again, again, until his little wounds burned and his vision blurred with fatigue. And still, it was again, and again, and again. There was nothing else, no thought of cessation, just constant motion, until he was flowing from one attempt to the next instead of stopping and starting, until her comments were less and less frequent, reduced only to that one word.



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Jack Seer, the brave rebel that fought for peace, freedom and honor, the solitary man that lived for love, friendship and It should probably be “manslaughter” instead of “ love”, it makes me sound like a sissy he thought while chewing his third course of meat. Jack was making up his epitaph, proving his unique ability to see into the future...the very, very close future.

Looking at the soldiers around him and Colvon, the men designated for that night’s mission, Jack felt somewhat better. Nevertheless, that false sense of security didn’t stop the heavy thoughts from invading his mind. What the hell was I thinking? Going against the Trade Confederacy at their main building..who does that? Jack blamed everything on his greed, on his unlimited hunger for gold, on his unquenched thirst for everything remotely shiny or valuable. He also blamed the gods for making him a kleptomaniac, for not being born rich, for not having a decent meal four times a day everyday,for ending up in the Rebellion, for his aching limbs that wouldn’t stop shaking after he got down the pole.

The gods are so good to me! he thought when the dark elf passed by, her beautiful body and feminine grace being in deep contrast with the rough and unwashed men around him.
“Sheera, love!” Jack shouted and moved away from his precious dinner. “Wanna go to Vestern with me?”
“I can’t Jack’e, I’m heading up North tonight.” She said searching for a saddle in one of the crates near the tent. “I’m sorry we didn’t have time to catch up like we wanted, but maybe next time.” A hint of sadness clouded her beautiful face, “next time” meant at least three months from now on.

“It’s alright, it’s not like we don’t have a lot of time on our hands! It’s not like I’m dying tomorrow!” A laughable attempt of a laugh came out of Jack’s lips. It sounded more like a shriek than anything else as he raised his voice on the last sentence.
“You make sure everything goes well in Vestern, I have no doubts about your skills.” The dark elf replied and gave him a smile. She took out the saddle and headed for the horses without glancing behind.
The gods are fat, ugly, cruel beings was the conclusion Jack came to at the end of the evening.

After he took a bath in the river and put on some hand-me-down clothes from one of the soldiers, Jack felt a little more refreshed. He wasn’t nearly ready for the task ahead, but he had no choice. On the other side of the camp a few men cleared some space for the upcoming troops: Jack’s men. They weren’t to arrive until tomorrow evening and that if they hurried. He felt a little doubtful taking such an important mission without the men he trusted the most.
“At least I have you guys” he said looking at his throwing knives. They were shiny and in perfect condition, probably the only thing of value in his pockets.


They arrived in Vestern a little bit after midnight. The port was one of the few towns in Eronnis that still had actvity at such a late hour, although it didn’t compare to the commotion taking place during the day. Most of the “respected entrepreneurs” preffered the night, thus most of the good merchandise arrived in that period of time. The best time for stealing, as Jack saw it. Because a group of soldiers entering the town gates draw more attention and hostility than a group of vicious bandits, Jack improvised a set of normal clothes for each of Colvon’s men to make them go unnoticed. They all looked like beggers, the really poor kind. They blended in perfectly.
Jack pointed toward the largest building on the east side of the town. The Trade Confederecy had its top workers there along with the largest warehouses in which most of the Union’s supplies were stored. It was believed that they kept a lot of weapons there for the Union’s army, but in truth the Confederacy never took any unecessary risks. Jack and his men were about to find out what exactly was that they kept in the building’s basements.

He signaled them to split up. Soon enough the main streets that led to the building were filled with sturdy beggers and creeping shadows. Nothing out of the ordinary in Vestern. Having his eyes set on the building’s windows, Jack bumped into something...someone. The old man with missing teeth in his mouth and the stench to match his look frowned at him “This is my turf, young man! Go somewhere else!” Jack’s coal eyes widened in surprise. He should have such bold men in his camp, not the lazy bastards he hanged out with.
“Ah, and here are the guards!” Jack said to himself leaving the spot and looking at the front of the building. Two men were permanently stationed in front of the main gate, while other two circled the building. “Four men outside, I wonder how many are in.” Jack Seer felt sorry that he didn’t came in the possession of the building’s map. He had to search for the best way in himself. Colvon’s men took their positions near each side of the building, covering the territory. The plan was quite primitive, really. He had the task to sneek inside and find the merchandise, then the most hidden and practical exit. They just couldn’t take the supplies out the window, they needed a secure way out. He highly doubted that they could pull this in one blow, but at least he could gather some information about the building. The wisest thing to do was to scout ahead and plan the attack much later, but Jack’s greed didn’t approve of such slow actions. Besides, he planned this for over a thousand times late at night, just before going to sleep. It should work just fine.

Jack’s silent footsteps took him into one of the bushes near the right side of the building. Just two feet away he saw a big wooden pipe meant for gathering rainwater. It didn’t go all the way to the building’s roof, but it reached a couple of windows. Then at his left side near his feet was one of the basement’s many windows guarded with steel bars. The men were waiting for his orders. There was almost no way that he could do this without killing or knocking out some of the guards. In one swift move Jack started to climb up the pipe like a cat, reaching the first window just when one of the guards passed by below him. The guard didn’t look up.
“ were do I find an open window?” Jack asked himself looking around. Smashing glass wasn’t an option at that point of time.


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#, as written by echored
Flin worked on lifting the hefty axe. “You shall be called... the beast,” he mused in the type of accent he was picking up on in this land, mildly entertained with the stark sheen of the steel under the rising sun. Flin didn’t believe they were in this country.. kingdom.. or whatever it was called, for more than two days or so, and even still, so much has happened. Waking up on a bale of hay surrounded by pigs, and now positioned on a dirt road through the most alien terrain. His muscles admittedly felt soar from their escapades, such as riding horseback for a handful of hours he would rather not keep track of. And not getting any rest during the night for keeping ‘guard’, like he could really do that much but call out for the soldier in charge. So when it came to feeling confident in wielding the axe he picked at the moment, there was some doubts. Any wrong move, and with his bad luck towards himself, and he could lose a finger or hell, a whole middle section. These doubts had a silver lining, for he was determined to master his weapon of choice. It wasn’t like he could pick a new one anyway.

By the time he reached the group gathering with his usually stride, he listened as Kali pointed out what each should do now. Morning called. It was obvious by her stance and hard jaw that she didn’t want anything to do with them. Flin partly understood the attitude lingering from her presence, the invisible sign that rang “Keep Your Distance or Else”. Her words had a sting of indifference when she debated the match-ups. And Kali’s grand decision was, drum roll, please... Leander. A smirk twisted the edges of Flin’s lips into a devious, playful smile automatically. If there was anyone to pick on, it would be his so called sister of the new-world. He sauntered over as smooth and cool as possible towards his opponent Leander- the comical thing about the walk was that his right shoulder sunk lower than the left slightly due to the weight of the axe he was carrying. The tension in his biceps was the giveaway that it wasn’t as easy to carry as Flin‘s face made it seem, which was as cool as a cucumber. His eyes only grew more lively as he heard a muffled Leander cringe, “Are you kidding?

“No, no. I believe she is serious,” Flin’s voice carried, with maybe too much persistence in his gust closer. There was a certain charm to his voice despite the fact that he was talking about combat. His knuckles gripping the pole of the axe were a hinge white but he surely was rallied up. Partly due to lack of sleep, partly due to his deranged outlook.

The scuffle between Kali and Leander took foot for a minute, and once again Flin had to wait as patiently as he could last, for the two strong-willed woman to finish up their debate. All of what Leander had to say carried some weight. He hadn’t actually considered the outcomes behind their training. Her sword and gauntlets verses his axe from Hell would end up killing them both in the process if they were actually trying to land their targets.

Before Flin knew it he could feel Kali’s snake fingers wrapping around The Beast and replacing his weapon with a rather large branch or log of some sort. It wasn’t nearly as lethal. Then the next thought rolled casually into his thought train. Was he still supposed to swing at Leander as if it were serious? It could knock her out, or take the wind out of her, to say the least. He didn’t have that certain urge in him to hurt her. And take her on while she was barehanded? If that was the case, he’d just take her on barehanded as well. He threw the log out of the way as soon as Kali was out of his vision, mingling with Nox.

“I think I’ll pass on the stick,” Flin called out over the gap of 5 yards that was separating him from Leander. Her stance sunk into a defensive crouch. To add, she cocked her head to the side with a kind of smile that said bring it on, followed by a beckoning of her hand to come at her. She was surely giving Flin the impression that she didn’t want to be treated lightly.

“Ladies, first,” Flin answered in response to her planted feet. His body fell into a rather unique stance. Whether one would classify it as defensive or offensive was up to the viewer. Flin had never taken any fighting lessons. When he wanted to take karate as a kid, his parents could care less. All his experience came within the recent years of being homeless and having to defend himself from other homeless or punks that would try and rob what little he had. Plus the occasional bar fights with a local gave him some practice, too. That being said, he wasn’t that educated but he was light on his feet and could wrestle his way out of all the danger he has had to face, so far that is. He mimicked Leander’s beckoning, but his was more of a welcoming swoop, using all his fingers in unison on his right hand to wave her closer. And despite how he was supposed to spar with this woman, he couldn’t help but be relatively attracted to Leander’s spunk, and the expressions she made to coincide.

Over his shoulder he could hear the variety of different noises coming from Sebastian who was struggling with his bow and arrow. Usually Flin would be mocking the old man, but since his wound from an arrow the other night that severely wounded him, there was a new found respect for someone who could wield such a weapon. Flin did his best not to flinch at the sudden shout of “Get in!” and also tried his best to not look over his shoulder at the now cheerful man. That would be putting his guard down and he knew that was rule one in what-not-to-do in combat. Neither Sebastian or Nox appeared to be that excited at first in the combat practice. Nox considerably had it worst out of them all though, having to go one on one with Kali who could kill them all before any of them would realize it. Leander on the other hand was gung-ho about the training, and that kind of cheerfulness was enough to get Flin seriously interested in the lesson at hand.

“Bring it on, chicka,” he added with a smile contrasting the harsh stance of his lean body. He was egging her on, yet so far their only shots had been words. He took this moment of silence between the two to break down what he might do when she actually would come at him. His father wasn’t a role model in the slightest and yet the rule of “not hitting girls” stuck to his consciousness. Flin would block Leander’s shot. Offensively, he was between a rock and a hard place. If he didn’t swing at her, Leander and Kali both would take haste to call him out. If he did swing and happen to strike her in the face or stomach, it would come off to the guys as him being a jackass for hurting a woman purposefully. Back home Flin knew he’d surely get arrested for domestic abuse if even a bruise were to show up on her body. So in the end, all Flin deemed best was to block everything she threw at him. He was agile but damn sore, so he was ready to take in some punches. Leander was tough and he wouldn’t doubt her ability to pack a punch. Still, he was determined to block her every swing, which was training enough if ever in another melee confrontation.


“Again,” Kali purred through her movements in and around Nox, slithering around his body fluidly and with born grace. The tresses of her black hair clung to the wind made behind her back, her black eyes sharper than any blade made. To her, this match up was a warm-up, a test to see how much these foreigners could take in. Each small gash she would create on Nox’s body was her way of making him realize the truth. If they didn’t learn how to protect themselves and fast, they were in for a heap of danger. Or to put more bluntly, death. As strong as she was, she wasn’t the best babysitter and this lot of travelers didn’t seem to like hanging together like most caravans did. That said, Nox was catching on quick which slightly interested her, but then again he could just be a natural. Something about his earlier expression made it clear he was reluctant, but looking at the passion in his gaze now, the honest drops of sweat dripping from his tense forehead, he was willing to take all of it in. Not once did he insist on stopping, even after she had cut him with her blade more than ten times now. She could see the red blood soaking into his clothing and skin.

“Try not to bleed,” Kali finally added, breaking her quiet routine of ‘again’. She slowed down the pace after around an hour, letting her partner have a deserved rest and a chance to tend to his wounds. She herself could feel her heart racing faster than normal which meant this training had some purpose behind it.

“Get a drink from the goods we brought, Nox,” Kali instructed in a tone that carried the energy to fight longer, harsher. She held back. If this Nox fellow continued to learn so quickly, there was hope she might have a decent battle with him one day. Her eyebrows arched down, realizing what a stupid thing she thought. Once this group was safe at a drop off point, she would be done with them. No more babysitting these humans, even if they did arrive to their capital under strange circumstances.


East, Right after sunset

The darkness kissed the clouds outside Rowan’s bedroom window. She pulled back the abundant curtains and wrapped a black rope around the drapes to keep the window clear. The lovely moon was meeting the horizon and only tiny drops of orange light hit the branches of trees across the shore line. She made her bed quickly, appearing in and out of vision only when to straighten random objects up around her place. The scent of Jack still lingered around the air, and she wondered just then what he might be doing at the moment. Surely Colvon was managing things like usual.

Rowan strode over to her dresser, sliding out a drawer filled with a variety of clothing. Her plan was to go out into the main city tonight on a private mission, so she wanted to be as invisible as possible. Not even Colvon would be told of her whereabouts. That was how Rowan liked to handle things. What followed was Rowan deciding on a black pair of tightly fit suede pants and a deep red tunic for a shirt made of rough, thin wool. The sleeves cupped the curve of her shoulder bones but stopped immediately after. A deep V cut across the center of her shirt, gleaming the supple white curves of her marble body. What was left was her pale skin which carried its faint glow and appeal under the opulent moon. Once completely dressed Rowan made her way to the door, locked it accordingly, and zipped down to her camp in a matter of a second. Her energy level has high despite the need to feed on more blood. Hungry, always hungry. That was also on her checklist tonight.

In clear vision was Colvon and several other of her men standing around conversing. The moment her presence was noted, the camp grew silent and dropped their heads. Colvon stared bravely ahead, with a slight nod recognizing his parter in this particular camp of rebels. “Good evening, Rowan,” he said as charming as any old soldier could without breaking code, and Rowan accepted his greet like usually. She bared her fangs, lovingly of course, and gave him a faint pat on his upper arm. She liked the feel of his blood pulsing throughout his body, the tension in his triceps.

“Where is Jack? I notice some of the men missing as well. Have they left already?” she asked in a sluggish interest, red eyes tilting to her left as she listened to