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Elegant Harlequin

The Masked Joker

0 · 433 views · located in Sagaro Mall

a character in “Masks of the Soul: Fragment of Truth”, as played by Witless

Groups

Description

Image

Elegant Harlequin
'Who did you think I was? You? Ahaha!'







Image

What Kind of Mask is it?:
True

If True, in what state of completion is it in?:
Completed

How do you create/transform with the mask?
To summon: 'When you're not used to it...'
To transform: 'Being happy is a lot of work.'


Brief Description of Transformed State:
Karim, the name she gives herself when wearing this mask, wears an elegant suit of red, white, and black, and she often carries around a rose (or a few), sometimes nonchalantly plucking petals, sometimes using it as a prop, sometimes wearing it for whatever effect it gives. She has long, blond hair and always wears a smile upon her face whether or not it is sincere. Nothing seems to surprise her, and she is always seen with an almost mischievous gleam in her dark brown eyes.




Personality:
Karim is very expressive and prone to making jokes. Whether they're good or bad, puns or wit, satire, caricature, mimicry, or any other form of humor, she'll find some way to get her point across. She seems to be constantly moving something: a hand, her head, pacing, dancing, just doing something to stop from being completely still. She laughs often, at times sincere, at times mocking, at times with little feeling behind it at all. She takes an interest in the world around her but would care little for anything outside of her sphere of influence. While she has all of Amara's abilities and memories, they concern her little.

Everything comes and goes in her eyes, nothing taking up more than a fleeting moment of her time, everything holding her attention for that eternity of a moment. In a fight, she gives her entire attention and being to it. When wearing someone's mask, she focuses on that personality completely and performs it to the best of her ability. She gets rid of her own personality traits and adopts the ones she's found out from her target, while the disguise lasts, that is. Once uncovered, she wastes little time reflecting; that moment has come and passed.

Eccentric in others' eyes, she finds others to be dull, boring, and, well, slow... She doesn't feel like slowing down to their speed and carries on, constantly moving from position to position, place to place. Everything moves in a rush, and things jumble together, the only memorable things being the ones she decides to focus her attention on. She simply focuses on what interests her and ignores what doesn't.


Skills/Abilities when wearing mask:
If this counts, she becomes more expressive and humorous.
Fast reflexes, and increased speed and agility.
Amazing sleight of hand.
Great focus/concentration, though what she focuses on changes often.


Skills/Abilities of Transformed State:
Sharp Wit (minor): The pen may be mightier than the sword, but Karim's wit is sharper. By adding a quip, joke, or other witty comment to an attack, Karim adds insult to injury and cuts to the soul, causing more harm than expected. However, if the joke doesn't go over well, it detracts from the injury, causing less harm than expected.

Decoy (minor): Karim creates a body double of herself. It moves in a mirror image to her and cannot be distinguished from the real one. However, as soon as it is hit by something, it dissipates into a cloud of smoke. The body double cannot do any damage, but it copies everything that Karim does perfectly, including attacks and powers. The line of symmetry (for the mirror image) is a straight line in the direction she faces when she creates the body double. She is aware of what the double should see and what it should hear, utilizing the two sources of information (her own and the double's) to keep the distraction going as long as possible, but it's often difficult to keep the double around for too long without one of the two running into something.

Tintinnabulation (minor): Karim rings a special bell which creates a sound. Each successive time, the sound gets harsher and louder, from a light, melodious ringing on the first hit to an unbearably loud, cacophonous toll which deafens and damages opponents on the seventh. After the seventh hit, the bell does not work until the Joker mask is removed and then donned again. If aimed at a person, the bell's sound is focused on that person, magnifying the effect. Otherwise, the bell can be heard by everyone and affects all within range except for the person who rang the bell.

Masquerade (major): Karim puts on a mask and disguises herself as another person! However, the mask has to be crafted with the specific person in mind, and the disguise isn't perfect. While she gains the look and sound of the person she transforms into, she gets no powers, mannerisms, or personality change. The rest all relies on her acting... The mask conforms to the face and does not appear like a mask, and the rest of the body is disguised by illusion which is very hard to see through. Height changes matter little, as the illusion appears to be as small or tall as the person should be, but touching the illusion's head is the same as touching Karim's head, and the same follows for the rest of the body. Touch is not affected, however, so she still has the physique of her own self. The mask can be removed by anyone (cancelling the disguise) so long as that someone realizes that it actually is a disguise. Once the mask is removed, the illusion disappears as well. It takes a lot of time to create the mask, and Karim must follow the target around to get a sense of the person. Making the Masquerade mask takes a lot of her energy, so she normally takes care of it well in advance. Actually wearing it takes a steady toll, draining her energy from full to empty in around an hour. There is only one mask for the Masquerade mask, and it must be redone in order to change the disguise it gives.


Weapons
Ignore the gun in the picture. Karim has some knives concealed on her person as well as a collapsible staff.

Bell:
Image

Collapsible Staff:
Image

So begins...

Elegant Harlequin's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Elegant Harlequin Character Portrait: Amara Calen Character Portrait: Lara Lyles Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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#, as written by Witless
Amara Calen;News From Throme Offices


Amara's offices were growing ever larger. She could barely believe this had all started a few years ago, and now the company was beginning to be respected. She had worked hard, brought dedicated people on board, and it was all paying off. The staff now consisted of around twenty-five people, and they were all working hard on their task, most of the time anyway. Writers, investigators, those who took the pictures used as evidence. News From Throme was a small company, but it was important, not just for the city of Throme to reveal just what was going on, deep below the surface, all the conspiracies that grew and maybe died out, but also for the Masked in their fight against Itex.

There was no question about it; Itex was guilty. They had killed her mother, and Amara was determined to get revenge. Knowledge was power and the first step in taking down such a huge corporation. They reached everywhere in the city, and all of the connections had to be revealed and unraveled, piece by piece until the whole structure crumbled to dust. It was risky as well; they had their own resources and could take care of things once they found out. If they found out. All Amara could do was stay behind the scenes long enough to gain the information needed to stop that fate. She had a lot of work ahead of her, but she wasn't alone. She had her Masked companions, and they would be meeting again tonight, to discuss something of importance.

Amara glanced out the window. It was still raining, and it likely wouldn't stop for a while yet. Sighing, she turned to pick up her jacket and addressed those still in the office. "I'm going out to get farther on another lead I've recently discovered. Hopefully this turns out more fruitful, and I can get another story to add to tomorrow's issue. In the meantime, finish with your editing and get these articles done before you head home. I'll finish up tonight and add the finishing touches. Rain or shine, we still have to get this paper out to the world if we're going to be some competition. Oh, Lara, did you get the pictures I asked you to? We'll need them by tomorrow, so get them if you haven't yet. And Kevin, your story still needs editing, unless Ivory took care of that. You all have things to do? Good. I'll see you all bright and early tomorrow."

Taking her umbrella from the stand near the door, she headed out into the wind and rain, off to Dullahan Library. Once she was a great enough distance from her offices, where no one could be seen, she muttered under her breath, "When you're not used to it," pausing to finger the mask and smile, "being happy is a lot of work." Her poise grew less stiff, more relaxed, and a grin spread across her face, new clothes replacing the ones she had been wearing, a bright white parasol replacing the umbrella she had previously been carrying. Karim had arrived. Now things could get interesting...




Karim, Masked Joker; Throme -> Dullahan Library


Skipping along, Karim twirled her pretty parasol and recited in singsong, "Rain, rain, go away! Come again some other day! Cats and dogs raining down, pets abound for those around!" Grinning, she pulled a rose from her hat and held it in the rain, watching it unfurl. "Rain for the roses, roses are red. Red for the blood, blood from the dead. Dead are them, or soon they will be. Them and these, them versus we... Ahahaha! Roses are red, the sky is blue. Rain falling down, nothing to do." The parasol went away, rain not mattering, she pulled out a deck of cards, letting her feet continue carrying her where they would.

"King the King, high above all. Tell me something, will pride be your fall?
Queen of mine, beauty your power, influence spreads, hour by hour.
Jack, the Knave, subordinate first. Think for yourself, before you grow worse.
Ten of ten, a card of perfection. Second digit, that no other could mention.
Oh, it's nine? Square of three? Magic by magic, so it shall be.
Eight not a square, three sets of two, infinity sideways, forever is you?
Seven now, the number of luck. But as it ate nine, maybe you'll duck?
Six, six, six, a number of sin. What will it be, the devil come in?
Five by five, all is good. Half of the numbers, all as it should.
Four we're at, the number of death? To draw and survive, that is the test.
On to three, power of magic. It comes with a price, sometimes so tragic.
Two it is, choices and doors. Which will you pick, for less or for more?
Ace, not one, high and low, what it can do, only it knows."


By now, she was near Dullahan Library, and the voice nagging from behind reminded her to head inside, down to the underground parking lot. Heading in, she pulled a card from the deck. "What will it be? Joker? Ahahaha! What a joke-reporting for duty!"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Axilious Character Portrait: Aki Evedane Character Portrait: The Wheel of Fortune Character Portrait: James Lyon Character Portrait: Elegant Harlequin Character Portrait: Amara Calen
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Liesel Moringmer | Dullahan Library Underground Car Park

How long had she been waiting? An hour? Maybe two?

How many clicks had it been?

Well, then again, she was the one who came early.

One wouldn’t have thought the woman anxious if it weren’t for the lighter in her tight grip. Even now, the click, click, clicking of the empty lighter persisted, growing more frantic with each passing second. With her free hand, she braced herself against one of the columns in the lot. ‘Get a hold of yourself, Moringmer,’ the she told herself, but the crease wouldn’t leave her brow. Her lips were still pulled in that terribly agitated scowl. Damn it. She heaved a sigh tired sigh, letting her unlit cigarette fall to the ground – she was far too worked up over this, over one measly change. She had thought that he couldn’t surprise her anymore… and then he went and pulled this stunt.

“Just what the hell’re you thinking this time, Torrings?” she murmured. One would think that she’d be used to the man’s antics by now… ha. She’d like to see anyone who could read Arthur Torrings. After all, she’d known him for all of four years and she still didn’t have a clue. Just when she thought she had him all sorted, was finally dancing to his tune, he always went and changed up the rhythm and tripped her up. That man had a real knack for making her want to throttle him. Her gaze idly followed one of the last cars leaving the car park. About time. The library had been closed for quite some time now.

click, click, click

With another agitated sigh, she pulled up her left sleeve, glancing at the customized com-unit at her wrist.

Outbox: 12
Inbox: 0


click, click, click

“Fuck you too, Arthur,” she muttered, eyes narrowing just ever so slightly. Damn it. Why wouldn’t he answer? It was always like this with him – he says what he wants then just disappears for another week or two or if, she was lucky, even a month. He was never there when she needed him… well, no. That was obviously just a frustrated lie. He was always there at the right moments… but never anytime else. Like right now. His little present for a certain someone was weighing rather heavily on her mind (and lightly in the pocket of her coat). She was always the messenger, wasn’t she?...

The woman was snapped out of her thoughts and to attention at a sudden footstep. Hm? "What will it be? Joker? Ahahaha! What a joke-reporting for duty!" Ah, it was her. The first of the lot, finally. The lighter was tucked away into her pocket.

“Took y’long enough, eh, Karim?” Liesel called, an irritated smile pulling at the corners of her mouth. “Where’s the rest of the deck?” As soon as the question left her mouth, the second arrival showed himself. And then there were two… there were only two. And here Liesel had thought that she was being a kind and considerate person by setting the meeting this far into the day, but hey, what did she know? This obviously wasn’t a good time, despite everyone agreeing to it, or whatever happened to suddenly pop up in their schedules was more important than the fate of the city itself. Obviously, otherwise everyone would have been on time like she had told them to over and over.

She gave the missing members ten seconds benefit before her patience snapped. “Damn it, is it just you two?!” Her voice echoed in the car park, making it seem even louder than it was. A glance at her wrist told her the time: too late. She couldn’t wait much longer. “Leave it to you idiots to throw a wrench into plans first thing. Damn it.” She had planned to send three to one location and two to the other, but that wasn’t going to work right now. Sinking deeper into her thoughts, the woman began to pace, eyes shut in concentration. “Damn it! And you,” she said, pointing blindly at the Jack, “you’re not even complete yet. I can’t send you off alone, can I? Don’t answer that, I know I can’t.” Not unless she wanted more blood on her hands.

She could… no… or maybe… … all of a sudden, Liesel stopped, just heaving a sigh.

“Okay, you know what? We don’t have time for this,” she said flatly. She looked up, eyes narrowed, and gave both the Joker and the Jack a firm look. “Bottom line, Itex is acting up – getting more active – and we’ve got word on certain hotspots.” She glanced at her wrist once more. “There’s no time for questions – we don’t know when they’ll hit,” she continued, “so for now I want you two to head on over to Lil’ Maybelle. Not the main district, but that shady little area behind that… that spot apart from the popular bit, behind that rental shop or whatever.” They’d know where she meant. Probably. And if not, they should be used to her directions by now, so not her problem.

“Your job is to intercept whatever Itex plans to do there. If y’need specifics or got any questions, you got the units,” she lifted her wrist, “that I passed out. Just shoot me a message on the go.” Well, with that, she was done. The red-haired woman simply folded her arms and leaned against one of the supporting pillars… oh no, wait. “And you know the drill – keep away from civilians. You aren’t superheroes. You aren’t vigilantes. You have a mission, so focus on that. And Ax, you in particular, be careful – believe it or not, you have a bigger disadvantage than you realize with that mask of yours.”

And now she was done… and while they were on their way, she would be spending God-knows-how-long waiting on the rest of them.

The setting changes from Throme to Little Maybelle

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Axilious Character Portrait: Elegant Harlequin Character Portrait: Amara Calen Character Portrait: Liesel Moringmer Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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#, as written by Witless
Karim, Masked Joker; Dullahan Library


“Took y’long enough, eh, Karim? Where’s the rest of the deck?” Karim picked a few cards from her deck at random: a Jack, Queen, King, and Ace (wow, what luck!) and threw them into the air. As they hit the ground, a man walked in, the only face-up card: Jack. “Damn it, is it just you two?!” Of course it was! The cards rarely lied, though circumstances did change from time to time... “for now I want you two to head on over to Lil’ Maybelle. Not the main district, but that shady little area behind that… that spot apart from the popular bit, behind that rental shop or whatever.” Ahaha! A shady part like that? Sure, Itex might go there, none ever populated the area. It was worth checking out anyone there. “And you know the drill – keep away from civilians.” Yes, mother. It wasn't like Amy always ranted on and on and on and on about... the Jack left, wind from his cape scattering the cards and flipping two of them in the process... Karim should be getting on her way as well. A car drove in as Karim left, probably a poor soul left to face Liesel's wrath... Ahahaha! Sadly, it wasn't worth getting caught up in the back-draft to stay and watch.

It was still raining. The parasol came up, and it twirled as Karim pranced through the back streets on the way to Lil' Maybelle. So much had happened, so little, but it was time to face Itex! Who could they be? Would they be excited at all to meet them? Hahaha, of course not. But fights were just boring, weren't they? This was... thievery, yes, guile, deception, trickery... magic. Would they see it coming? Not at all, but it would help to have more than just the two versus them, however many. Oh, they were there weren't they. Amy pushed her back to attention on the streets, to the mask she kept on her. Ah, masks! They were such fun! People never knowing who you were, always guessing, guessing, guessing... And who was this lovely mask? It seemed like only yesterday it was another... Was it?



Amara Calen; The Streets of Throme; November 21st, hours before


Amara walked out of the News From Throme offices, holding her umbrella and notepad as she walked through Throme. There was a meeting today, and a chance to confront Itex; Karim needed to be prepared. Amara shook her consciousness into awareness, making her keep watch for anyone interesting, pointing it out to her as needed. Masquerade needed a new target, and it would be stupid to let the enemy know Karim as herself from the get-go. Wrapping her coat around herself, Amara walked out toward Sagaro Mall, where people would still be walking even on miserable days like today. Karim kept a lookout and pointed toward one, a man walking briskly with a suit and briefcase, some businessman. Him? Karim gave assent. Whatever you want...

Amara walked up to the man, "Hello, could I have a few seconds of your time? I'm Amara Calen, from News From Throme. It's nice to meet you." She held out a hand which the man accepted and shook cautiously. "Umm... may I help you? I'm- I'm in a rush, you see? Business, you know, as usual?" "Oh, I'm terribly sorry to disturb you, but I'm conducting a survey for the papers; it won't take more than a moment of your time, and then we'll be on our separate ways again." The man sighed and pushed up his glasses, "Alright, but... only a few questions. I have an important meeting to go to, you know?" The conversation continued for not long after that, but habits didn't escape Amara's eyes. He shifted from foot to foot, answered questions evasively. He adjusted his tie, pushed his glasses up constantly, his eyes darted from here to there in conversation. He kept looking at his wrist for a watch that wasn't there. Whatever he was doing, he seemed nervous of it; the briefcase never left his hand for a moment. It looked heavy.

They parted, and Karim took over, following from above, making adjustments to the mask as needed...



Karim, Masquerade; Lil' Maybelle


Yes, Amy, no need to remind me... Ahaha! Hah. The mask went on, and Karim transformed, an Arthur Thorne standing there instead. The white suit was replaced by a darker one, a navy, dampened by the rain. His black umbrella (no longer the well-designed white parasol) did little to stop the rain hitting his legs or even the lower part of his suit. His glasses were taken off from time to time to be wiped clean then pushed back on and periodically pushed up again as they slid down the bridge of his nose. His brown briefcase by his side was wet and not getting any drier. He picked it up and began walking briskly through the backstreets of Maybelle. From time to time, he shifted his items in his hands: putting down the briefcase to wipe his glasses, moving it to the same hand as the umbrella, setting the umbrella aside quickly to dry his glasses using both hands (this got his already damp, dark brown, close-cropped hair even more wet).

The man paused in the alleys, looking for a signpost, any directions to get anywhere. "Drat. Umm... where was it. He said we were meeting... forgotten, as usual. Gosh darnit, write these things down sometime! Hmm... what was the name?" Arthur continued on his way through the backstreets of Lil' Maybelle, that bit behind the rental shop. He may have looked distracted, but he was ever on the lookout for potential meeting spots and strange characters in meeting...

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Axilious Character Portrait: The Chariot Character Portrait: Strength Character Portrait: Elegant Harlequin Character Portrait: Amara Calen Character Portrait:
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#, as written by Witless
Karim, Masquerade; Lil' Maybelle


The umbrella wasn't helping at all. Arthur put aside his umbrella once again to dry his glasses; he had no idea where he was. Wandering the streets of Maybelle would only get you something if you were lucky, and that hadn't happened yet. Well, he was finding where suspicious people weren't, narrowing down the search. Maybe Liesel was wrong? Ahaha! A quick response, No, we were sent here for a reason. Quitting halfway would only bring punishment. But they were turned around; where was a sign? The glasses went back on, see-through-able again for now (sure, they weren't needed, but a disguise was a disguise; it needed to be perfect). A nearby street sign proclaimed this Orion Street, and a quick glance showed a coffee shop nearby, with eaves which would at least stop the rain for a little while.

Arthur walked past, as a man in a coat walked up to the door before him. He paused, waiting for something, as Arthur walked by. A voice in the head, Why'd he pause? Take note, pay attention. I will not have you slacking off here! So Arthur slowed down and paid attention. And felt a slight wave of heat... that shouldn't have been there. A quick turn of the head, a whispered "Decoy" followed just as quickly by "End." An onlooker might have seen another "Arthur" for a split second, less, actually. It started to appear in the back of the head before disappearing as quickly as it came, facing the other man, and its information was conveyed to Karim, the other image of Arthur.

The man was dry; his hair at the very least, his coat stiffer than it should have been after walking through however much rain. Coupled with the sudden heat, there was something strange going on here. A coffee shop was a meeting place, and this was no normal customer. Call it investigator's intuition or whatever. Keep track of that man. And don't be seen... ...Yes, yes, 'mother.' No need to remind me twice! Ahahaha! This looks to be an interesting day! Haha! At the end of the eaves, the end of the building, Arthur sat with his briefcase to the side, his umbrella down, his glasses wiped. The watch that wasn't there was fidgeted with, as a message was input to the communicator. "@J2: Orion St Cafe, suspiciously-dry man, keeping lookout, following if needed. Come here and help. P.S. you won't recognize me. Ahahaha! ;)"

Sitting there, an organizer was brought out from his coat and looked at, scribbled-in additions entered from time to time. Suddenly, the cafe door opened once again, and a pair came out, one the dry guy, the other a man with... some presence. Something just felt... strong about him, confident. As they walked off, Arthur finished his dry spell and packed up, opening the umbrella and picking up the briefcase. With safe distance, he headed off in a... similar direction, where he could keep tabs on the duo. Back at the end of the eaves, a piece of note paper was left, left for Jack when he arrived looking for her, the Joker.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: The Chariot Character Portrait: Strength Character Portrait: Deus ex Kaos 'Dek' Character Portrait: Elegant Harlequin Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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#, as written by Witless
Karim and Dek | Maybelle Mall
(post co-written by Witless and spudjohnson)

Darn this blasted rain. Wiping off glasses every so often was beginning to be a large pain. Where was this pair headed on such a rainy night? Hopefully somewhere interesting, or this would be all for nothing. Arthur continued to follow after the two, hoping they wouldn't notice him, clutching his briefcase under his umbrella to keep it safe. The good news was, they were headed under cover: the mall in Lil' Maybelle, it was. Shaking off rain as he ducked through the entrance, Arthur collapsed his para- no, umbrella and wiped off his glasses once more.

Arthur Yes, that's who I am turned around, looking through the crowd and his watchless hand now and again. Now and again, his eyes alighted on the pair. And passed over them again before returning in another pass. Unless they suddenly sped up quickly, she... he wouldn't lose them in the crowd. What were they doing? Waiting at the stairs? Boring. Waiting again... would this night ever get interesting? Jack would respond. Eventually. They'd do something. Hopefully.

It was too far to hear them or see their expressions. Hopefully something would happen that she could see, but until then, seeing was all that would happen. Karim drummed her fingers on her- Snap out of it! Amy was getting cross again because... right. Arthur looked at his watch in impatience and shifted from foot to foot. Ugh... waiting. He had things to do and places to be, but it would have to do. His gaze scanned the crowd again, and he waited...


Dek looked upward at the face of the mall, pausing for a moment before following Strength and Chariot into it. He waited for just a moment, reflecting on nothing before heading into the mall. The automatic doors slit open noiselessly, allowing the noise, smells, and sights from the inside of the mall to crash over him in a gentle wave. The faint smell of various foods combined with the dull hum of a massive crowd. He gave a slight smile, imagining all the different ways he could make these people trample over themselves in terror.

However, lost in his imagination, Dek almost lost sight of Chariot and Strength. For the first time in his memory, a small knot of terror wormed its way into his stomach. Fear of the repercussions from the Itex higher ups if he failed the assignment. That thread of fear vanished in an instant when he saw the two again standing at the foot of a large staircase, seemingly idle. He pouted. More waiting? This is bull. There's nothing to do but wait and wait and WAIT nowadays. I want the masked to come and play! He hummed as he considered how to best attract their attention.

Nothing came to mind for the moment, so Dek decided to lean back against a decorative column and just scan the crowd for anyone acting odd. Time seemed to slow to a crawl as he just stood there and waited. I HATE waiting. He scowled at the crowds, occasionally sticking his foot out to trip someone with a large amount of parcels and laughing as they tried to recover before inevitably falling on their face. Commotion from near where the two last were caught his attention. Some guy barrelled down the staircase, knocking people to their feet in some kind of rush. Dek laughed at the man's attitude, then something caught his eye.

A man seemed to be acting strangely, constantly fidgeting with his glasses, wrist, and clothing. The man was shitfting from foot to foot. Dek almost dismissed the man as a nervous wreck waiting to run to the bathrom when he realized that the man's nonchalance was just a sham. To the passerby, he seemed as normal man, just busting for a piss. When Dek stared at him again, he noticed the man's head movements were calculated, even occasionally lingering on Chariot and Strength. Now there's something you don't normally see. Finally, something to do! To hell if he's Itex or Masked! I'm so BORED. He pulled his hood back slightly, allowing the single glowing red eye to just catch the light enough to shine menacingly. A few people in the crowd noticed the sinister glint and gave him a wide berth. Others who bumped into him had their retorts die in their throats when they saw him before scurrying away. He strode directly towards the strange man, hoping he'd see him so he could glimpse the face he made when he saw Dek.


Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. Watch, glasses, shifting feet. Boring, boring, boring waiting. They were still doing nothing, and no one else seemed to be approaching. Arthur shifted his feet again and turned his gaze... right into the glowing red eye of someone approaching. What? Arthur dropped his briefcase in surprise, his mouth dropping open in surprise, shock, and... well, just a little bit of fear, no words coming out. The briefcase fell to the floor with a thud... Yes, it thudded. And hit the floor. Briefcases are supposed to do that, right? Karim? Yes, it must have hit the floor with a thud, even if it was muffled by the crowd. Shaking away the shock, Arthur glanced back at his watchless arm and then everywhere but that man.

So they did come. Liesel was right this time... Where's that Jack when we need him? That man, he wasn't- he's not coming at me, is he? What madness was behind that red- Karim! Right. Behind the illusion, Karim gripped a knife in her suitcase-hand. Itex wouldn't cause trouble, not much anyway with such a large crowd around. Right? All that was needed was to hold out until Jack arrived, escape was possible, or the pair did- He knows. He knew he was on to them. This third knew he- she was watching the pair. How didn't matter, but he knew. Somehow.

Escape rose in importance. She knew two, no, three, of them, and they didn't know her. Yet. And time was running out. It would be best to escape for now and let Jack handle the rest. Karim- no, she was Arthur - Arthur looked up to see what the man was doing, to find some escape if it was at all possible. He wasn't fit to fight this man, at least without backup, even if the other two weren't nearby. The red-eyed man hadn't reached him. Yet.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: The Chariot Character Portrait: Strength Character Portrait: Deus ex Kaos 'Dek' Character Portrait: Elegant Harlequin Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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#, as written by ZenMon
Post co-written by Alasund, Witless, Harlequin, and myself


Dek slithered through the crowd towards the twitchy man, occasionally shoving hard to create a bit of a distraction. First impressions are most important. In no time at all, he had wound his way to the man. As he drew up to the twitcher, Dek drew a knife from his coat and gently pressed it into the man's side. He cleared his throat just enough to get his attention over the obvious point of the knife. He spoke just loud enough for the man to hear clearly, but not loud enough for the surrounding shoppers to hear.

"Good evening, friend-o! I see you're getting a good look around here, it's a lovely day for people watching, isn't it? But I'm sure you aren't REALLY people watching, right? If not, what ARE you doing?"

A knife. A KNIFE! Who in their right mind would just walk up to someone and put a knife to their- Oh, wait. This is the person holding a knife in her- his hand just in case. Still, that's just so terribly rude of him, wouldn't you say? Karim, he's talking to you. Who? What? Oh... right... him. A KNIFE!!! Really! The nerve!

Arthur turned to the red-eyed man, shaking visibly. "Ah! What are you-? Umm... I don't know, you know? Ah! Calm down, there are people watching! Ummm... wouldn't want to cause a commotion, I'm sure? Anywho, my- my boss, you know, he- he set up some... meeting of sorts here? I was to meet hereabouts, you know? But, you see, I'm still here after waiting this long. I was to meet someone, but they've not shown, you know? Hence the watching! This meeting's, well, it's- it's rather important, you see? Umm... you do see, right? Can you- you know, can you be on your way? It's just, umm... well, I've answered your questions, you know? Aha." This was said softly, of course. Others weren't to hear. Important business, you know? ;)

Dek chuckled menacingly while shaking his head. "You just don't get it. Not at all. Not. At. ALL." Dek pressed the knife further into Arthur's side to punctuate his remark, but not enough to pierce the skin. "You see, I've never been the trusting sort. As for causing commotions, well, you mistake me entirely. I quite like causing commotions. You could call it... a hobby. Or my specialty. I've gotten quite good." Dek turned to look at Arthur, fully revealing the massive red eye, and the utterly blank other side of the mask. "Now, you don't mind if I enlist you for some company do you? I'm feeling rather bored while I wait for my friends to finish their meetings. Unless you're wanting to cause some commotion, in which I'd be more than happy to oblige you." Dek just stared, waiting for the inevitable response.

"A-ah!" The knife was poking. Commotions? Company? All Karim was looking for was a way out of this mess... This man was definitely Itex, and he was with that other pair. They were here for some meeting, or so it appeared, and somehow this monster had caught her gaze. Ugh. Why must stealth be so... stealthy? Can't I just... stab him? Just once? No, not yet. Yes, I know. Meanwhile, Arthur cringed back from the knife, gripping his suitcase harder, and began looking around frantically, licking his lips and obviously nervous. "Uh, sir... Uh, sure... Uh... as long as it's... just company, right? You know, no commotions. Terribly, terribly difficult to sort out, you know? Umm... ahah? Could you maybe? Umm..." Arthur trailed off, looking down at the knife to his side, and continued to look around frantically. For an escape. Maybe for information. Was the other pair still just waiting? How boring...


Chariot, beginning to lead the way out of the main thoroughfair, paused as an almost invisible haze spread across the mall. 'Keep an eye out. There's someone in here with us.' He didn't need to say the word 'Masked' to emphasise what he meant. The subtle mental pressure that was little more than a buzzing fly to the mental bastion of the Chariot hovered with the accompanying haze.

Turning back to the direction he was heading, towards a small corner shop that seemed to be rather unfrequented, which sold sports equipment, Chariot tried to blend into the surrounding crowd, even though his partner's aura made that rather difficult..


Axilious almost slouched into the mall. He'd almost lost his way after the annoying braggart of an Itex agent escaped his clutches, and he was far from dry. His flambuoyant clothing almost dribbled all over the floor beneath him as he looked around rather curiously, trying to find either the Joker or another annoyingly riddled code to tell him where she'd gone haring off to this time.

Despite the unusual appearance and sopping clothes, most people passing him seemed to not even take a passing glance at the soaking figure or even at the world around them. Most seemed to be losing a grip on reality, though a few minds broke the haze to realise on some level how inappropriate the man was and that they were doing nothing at all anymore. At least it wouldn't seem like a big deal to them in a while. Shaking himself as if to dislodge the cold placidness, he strode boldly into the mall, an obvious figure to anyone whose minds broke the numbing haze.

Grunting assent at the Chariot's instruction, as if watching the crowds wasnt what they'd both been doing for the last few minutes, Strength followed, a apace behind, still reflexively quartering and scanning the mall as they moved. He glanced towards the easternmost entrance as they passed by, took another few steps then hesitated. Something was wrong. A slow blink, brow furrowing minutely as he realised that, despite looking towards the doors, he hadnt actually seen anything.

"Wait."

The instruction was barked, he was already turning back the way they had come. Confused, Strength paused, tilted his head a fraction to one side at the sight of the sopping wet man, dressed almost as if he'd stepped out of a romance novel, walking into the mall. Out of nowhere the guy seemed to swim out of focus, the air shimmering like a desert mirage and Strength squinted, eyes twitching. It last barely a second and only took a moment longer to realise that no one else was paying the guy any attention either, and from the looks of the him, swaggering forward without a care, barely even looking at anyone he passed, it was obvious he didnt expect them too. Which was odd. Dressed the way he was, he'd have drawn attention in a carnivale parade.

"Something's up." Strength turned to face the Chariot, indicated the anomaly with a nod, watching him move in the mirrored glass of the doors. "That guy, Mr Ren Fair. You know him?"


Dek almost rammed the knife home in the man's side, but a strange sensation prevented him from doing so. Something was "off". A feeling of absurdity hung in the air, making the hairs on the back of his neck begin to tingle and stand on end. He swept his gaze over the crowds, trying to find something to clarify the sense of wrongness. He couldn't see anything wrong at first. The masses were too busy going about their lives to care at all, as if they didn't feel anything at all. They didn't even notice someone just sitting in the crowd with a fog machine on full blast. Hold on. Fog machine? What jerkoff brings a fog machine into a mall? Dek looked back and forth to see if anyone else noticed the fog, but nobody seemed to notice the fog.

Dek's suspicious were roused immediately. He stared at the fog, trying to see what it was hiding. After a short moment, the fog dissappeared and the most bizzare dressed man was just standing in the middle of the crowd. Nobody noticed him at all, bizzarely. "Hey. Bud.", he said to his hostage, poking him with the tip of the blade to get his attention. "Do you see the fog?"

The knife was poking into his side. Arthur's glasses were slipping. He pushed them up, and then noticed a strange quiet around the room, as conversations were momentarily cut off. His gaze slipped around the room, and passed a patch of... haze. Ahaha! Finally made it, did he? Quickly, the haze solidified into Axilious, and Karim almost laughed! ...until she remembered just where she was, and the knife poking into her side...

The start of a smile disappeared as Arthur's eyes glazed over. For a short while, there was nothing, then a pain in his side as the knife pushed farther, and the end of a voice "-see the fog?" Arthur started. "Ah! Uhh... hmm?" As he looked for the fog this other man spoke of, his eyes glazed over once more, and he became motionless. Hahaha! Go after Jacky, and leave me alone! I'm as useless as these other normals, you know? Hahaha!

The setting changes from Little Maybelle to Sagaro Mall

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Axilious Character Portrait: The Chariot Character Portrait: Strength Character Portrait: Deus ex Kaos 'Dek' Character Portrait: Elegant Harlequin Character Portrait:
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Chariot, Axilious, Dek, Karim, Strength ; Sagaro Mall

Post written by spudjohnson, Alasund De'astio, Harlequin Smile, and Witless.


"He's not ours." Chariot tensed, his right foot stepping out as he settled back into a battle-ready stance as he turned to check who Strength was referring to. "If he keeps this stasis on the civilians he could cause a situation." But there were also other concerns that could be dealt with quickly using this to their advantage. "Hold him or force him to leave for a moment, I'll retrieve the target." As much as his instincts yearned to fight, and self-control wavered under the chance to bring blade against a proper enemy of some bent, he had a mission to complete. And his last failure Judgement had been sure to burn rather solidly into his memory. Stepping back, Chariot turned to swiftly make his way through the currently unobservative crowd.

"Boring boring boring." Oh yes, how boring this had been so far. As he waved magnaminously to the various subjects around him who were so awestruck by his presence that they had seemed to lose grip on reality, Axilious continued to scan the floor for the almost customary piece of paper left by his erstwhile partner. "How a lord must bow before the demands of his people." The dramatic muttering continued as he finally found something in the crowd that was not quite like the other things. The figure which seemed to be talking almost scandelously closely to a normal civilian against a pole, it didn't matter that both were male, as Axilious had no prejudice to speak of for the peasants sexual relations, squinted in his direction and seemed mostly uneffected by the fog around. "Greetings." Axilious held his left hand carefully, ready to summon his weapon at a moments notice. "Have you perchance seen a rather eccentric lady pass through here?"

Power. Yes. Sweet power. Oh smell its intoxicating aroma. Oh GOD I want to fight them! Fight fight fight! Dek shook his head vigorously in an attempt to dissipate the bloodlust that boiled at his core. It was then that he realized that Renaissance Man was addressing him and his hostage. Dek cocked his head quizzically, then cracked his neck. "Well! Mr. Mist! Where have you come from then, ey? Time portal? Time traveler? Or do you just enjoy looking like a peacock? Nonono, you enjoy the grandeur. Nobility then! Maybe. I don't really care." Dek shifted Arthur slightly to the side so he could address Axilious properly, all the while keeping the knife tip in Arthur's back. For now.

"Now! Strange woman.." The volume of his voice dropped slightly as he feigned trying to remember something. "Strange woman strange woman strange woman strange woman... NOPE! No strange women about here, Just these cattle! My newfound friend and I were just people watching. Nothing too serious, mind. Just observing these ignorant, pathetic, idiotic masses that are so intent on buying new shoes or clothes or whatever else they waste their money on. They never want to do anything more with their lives. Just consume, and consume, and consume. It's like they get some sick high off of it. It's really quite strange. Isn't it, friend-o?" Dek looked at Arthur, hoping for a response. When he saw his eyes glassed over, a petulant tone crept into his voice. "Aww. Look at that. Your little parlor trick seems to have taken out my only friend here. And we were going to have SUCH fun in this crowd. A little slicing, a little dicing, and a LOT of panicking! But, alas, he's gone for now." Dek pushed Arthur roughly towards a concrete support pillar in hopes of knocking the man out. He spread his hands widely, flourishing the knife before hiding it in his coat with a bit of slight-of-hand. "Well, looks like youuuuuuuuuuu're my new play-mate! How do you wanna play, mister? Nice and easy?" Dek held his right hand out to the side, preparing to bring his axe-hammer into existence. "Or will we do this the rough and tumble way?"

"Understood." Already moving before he'd even finished the single word, Strength strode across the plaza towards the oddly dressed man. Whatever it was the guy was doing, it was getting worse. Most of the people in the mall were stumbling around with glazed expressions on their faces, looking at nothing in particular. Damn right it would cause a situation if it carried on. Not often a few dozen people fall into a hypnotic trance in the middle of a public place. The tiniest of smiles crossed his face as he moved towards his target, who seemed more than preoccupied with a pair of guys standing close to at the edge of the plaza.

Obstruct or remove target. That was an objective he appreciated. Obvious. Straightforward.

Easy.

Another step and the smile was gone, replaced only with calm readiness as he ran through an automatic checklist, scanning over the entire situation. Target currently unarmed, seemingly unaware of incoming. Focused on pair of men, standing too close together. Threatening body language from the taller of the pair, pinning the other to the wall, one arm flourishing a blade before concealing it in the jacket he was wearing. Strength narrowed his eyes. The guy who had his back to the wall was the same one that had rushed past as he and the Chariot had been waiting earlier. It could be coincidence, but that was unlikely. Especially as the newcomer, the one who was playing with everyone's minds, had gone straight for them.

He flexed hands, confirmed they were free from possible restraint and prevention of weapon retrieval, both arms relaxed and ready. Approaching at an oblique angle, coming in from slightly behind Axilious so that he had to turn to face him, and wouldnt be able to keep the other two men, and presumably the Chariot, in view whilst looking at Strength, he stopped maybe fifteen feet away from the group and took a breath, projecting his voice so that all of them would hear him.

"Excuse me." A seconds pause to let them register him. "Mall security. Someone mind telling me what's going on here?"

Obvious gambit, and whilst he looked vaguely like a security guard in dark jacket and heavy boots, it was more than obvious to any intelligent onlooker that he really wasnt. But then, that wasnt the point. The point was to break flow. To get the attention on him, so that Chariot could do whatever it was he was going to do. And for that it would do just fine.

A shock of pain shook Arthur out of his daze, and he looked up to see what was happening around him. A pillar was to his side, obviously what he had been pushed into. His assailant was in front, turned to address another person... Karim's eyes widened in recognition as she noticed the Jack standing there confused. And they widened further as she saw one of the pair she had been watching walking toward them. Mind racing, she tried to think of a way to get her identity away to Jack without attracting too much attention. What to do, what to do... there wasn't much time...

Aha! Karim left a flower, a rose, against the pillar as she scrambled back out behind it. That should be enough of a hint, if that Axilious would take the chance to spot it. Message given, Arthur scrambled back to his feet and sputtered out, "Who- who are you... you... who? Get- get away!" And the backward steps turned to a full run, through the still still crowd, toward the area where the second had walked from, where the third was hopefully still waiting. These people were important, and Liesel would be furious if they let them out of their sight! Let Jack take the other two... Arthur didn't turn to see what was going on, but he could hear someone saying something about security. This would have to be done quickly, it would seem.

Axilious smiled almost cruelly as he regarded the one who had just threatened him. "Why would you like to know? I think that if you--" Suddenly cut off by multiple sources of sound, Axilious swirled irritated at the more self-important sounding one, leaving the peasant to scramble away in fear at the awe of the lords. "You attempt to beguile us peasant." Formal, blunt, and putting the villian down with his very demeanour, the audience must even now be booing at the man who dared interrupt the protagonist's witty remark. A very fast glance easily told him that he wasn't regular security, and mall security isn't ever likely to go undercover. Which meant that this was a plot twist, putting a third variable into the already explosive cauldron of antagonist and protagonist. "Explain yourself."

Haughty, the gesture demanding obeisance was calculated just right, the dramaticism adding flair to his movements as the shimmering energy, very distinctively showy calling of his weapon, formed into the double bladed staff that was his hallmark. "I am to be unseen. Let me make it so." The grave pronouncement of the good guy being forced to do evil. The performance was about to start.

"Hmm. So we're going to go there, already? Really? Fine by me!" Dek shrugged his hood back and revealed his masked face. At the same time, he held his right arm out above his head, mentally invoking his weapon into existence. The shadows around Dek all shot towards his hand with such force that they moved the clothing of the people around them. The shadows formed a midnight black sphere above his hand before stretching into the sillouhette of his weapon, then materializing into existence. Dek slowly brought the hammer towards the floor before firmly planting the base of the handle on the floor. The tile beneath the handle cracked slightly under the weight of the hammer-axe and the force of his strength.

"So." Any trace of levity in Dek's voice had evaporated, leaving a cold emptiness that verged on murderous. "Where do you want to begin, whelp?" Rather than waiting for a response from his now-opponent, Dek spun his hammer and unleashed an Arc of Chaos directly at Axilious. Without waiting for the Arc to hit or miss Axilious, Dek gripped the chain surrounding the handle of his weapon and threw it towards the floor. The chain unwound from the haft with a mind of its own. Instead of piling on the floor, it sank into the ground as if it were water. Nothing happened for a short time before chains burst out from the shadows of various objects surrounding Axilious. The chains, hovering in midair, seemed to absorb the light before streaking off towards Axilious. Deep down, Dek hoped that his new friend would dodge the otherworldly chains. It would at least indicate that he'd found some real fun for a time.

The situation escalating fast, Strength took a half step back, raised both his arms, fingers curling in until his fists were clenched tight, ready and willing to summon his own weapons at a moments notice.

"Explain myself?" He raised an eyebrow at Axilious, utterly calm and rational despite the chaos erupting around them all."I think it's you that should be.."

Whatever it was he was going to say was cut off as the other man, the one who'd summoned a giant, and to Strength's eyes, completely impractical axelike thing, swung it outwards, a wave of something that twisted in the air like shimmering heat erupting from its blade, aimed at the other man. The dodge was reactionary, two quick steps back and to the right, even though it wasnt aimed his way. The summoning of the gauntlets was just as instinctual. A moment after he willed, metal wrote itself into existence, curling first across his knuckles then shot backwards, twisting so close to flesh it was like a steel tattoo that covered his entire arms in dull grey up to both elbows.

He kicked forwards, aiming for the taller man, Dek, the one who seemed by far the most threatening. With no strategy in mind save simply ploughing into and through, he was content just to pit himself against the situation and see what came of it. Lips peeled back in a grin that came just from the joy of joining battle, he amended the ever present objective list that was running through his head.

Obstruct or remove targets.

Chariot, not looking back to watch Strength's progress, weaved quickly through the scattered people to disappear into a smaller shop at the back; one of the more specialised shops, this particular one in handbags and other personal accessories. Giving the note in his hand one more glance, Chariot tightened his fingures around the missive and let the words burn as he activated his own powers for a moment. A moment later he had retrieved the target package and had moved to secure it before moving back to mop up the situation if Strength hadn't cleaned it all up by himself. As he exited the shop, he glanced once around, not that carefully but enough to pick up the more casual of persuers, and moved towards the emergency exit at the rear of the mall.

Eenie, meenie, miney, moe, where'd that stupid third guy go? Karim looked through the crowd, searching for the last suspicious guy, the only one not confronting Ax. Where'd he go, where'd he go... Ugh, this endless searching and searching was getting boring. "Ah, let's end this charade..." as Karim reached up and pried off the Arthur mask. "Where oh where has the strange guy gone, oh where oh where could he be?" she singsonged and walked toward the back of the mall, keeping an eye out every which way for him. Suddenly, Karim spotted her target exiting a random shop, something about bags or somesuch. With that, she rang her bell, "Let the race... begin!" Karim took out two knives and began pursuit, hoping a good chase would arise.

Metal besought metal, and air parted for the true showing of power as Axilious brought his double bladed staff into existance, lips firm in a straight line of disapproval. "Axilious, brave knight, who stands against the tide of darkness." The words hummed with power as he stepped right into the wave of energy humming towards him, gritting his teeth against the flicker of energy attempting to twist his very organs against him. "He who guards the nine seals, and holds the highest of praises amongst the lords of the realm." As the chains darted towards Axilious, the stoic knight began to twirl his weapon, using it as a shield against the darkened objects. "Fear the guardian of truth, for the world is his battleground, to enact victory after victory."

As the Litany of Praise continued, Axilious felt the amazing powers buried within him envelope his body in a now visible almost-halo that emerged from the dust blond hair, and slowly seemed to envelope the rest of his body in an unearthly glow. The blade rotations stopped as the last chain was slashed and knocked away, but Axilious did not attack. After all, it would not befit a leading role to be drawn into battle first. "Fight for the judge of the Air and Earth." He proclaimed, taking no note of what the other man had said, but simply letting him move in to attack his assaulter.

Behind his mask, Dek's eyes narrowed to irritated slits. This wasn't who he wanted to play with. Didn't he realize one of his comrades? This must be someone newer, someone who hadn't met Dek already. Emitting a faint sigh, he shifted his stance so that he'd be able to dodge at the last moment. The hammer hung loosely in his arms, ready to move at a moments notice. Despite it's size and probable weight, it felt no lighter than a normal hammer to him, but to his enemies it felt much MUCH heavier. Just before Strength's fists impacted with his face, Dek rolled and evaded the strike. Dek landed on his feet, hammer held with one arm at his side. "Well well, sir. It appears you've made a bit of a mistake. The person you want to maim is up there", he pointed at Axilious, ",not me. I'm on your side, I believe. Unless you've defected. Then you're meat. But it doesn't really matter to me, a fight is a fight." He shifted his weight back slightly, with his weight over his rear foot and ready to spring.