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Masks of the Soul: Fragment of Truth

Throme

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a part of Masks of the Soul: Fragment of Truth, by Cienpher.

Throme - a city of urban wonders

Nivosity holds sovereignty over Throme, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

624 readers have been here.

Setting

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The city of Throme is an ever-exciting place to live. The streets are always teeming with activity, and there is rarely an idle day for any of its citizens. There are more peaceful suburban areas near the outskirts of the city, but the heart of it is an urban paradise. In the shopping district, the greatest fashions and styles line the streets. Clothes, electronics, everything is modern and stylish. The ever-famous Damon Ito, Throme's own international star, frequents the billboards and advertisements in not only the shopping district, all throughout the city. It is said that he'll be performing in a musical later this year. This youthful star's face frequents the Throme News Station (the most reliable source for current events) - yes, the one with the overly cheerful reporter, Megan Mariot, and the never-right weatherman, Kenneth Park. If you want to be prepared for the weather, always do the opposite of what he suggests.

Back to the upcoming musical, the famous award-winning actor, Damon Ito is costarring with popular R&B singer Emma Matia to bring the citizens of Throme a spectacular show they won't want to miss. However, there are of course, the rumors that Damon Ito is dating the model, Noel Delari...

On a different note, moving away from celebrity affairs, the city has recently elected a new mayor - Ms. Aline Cosette. If anything, the woman is enthusiastic and determined to help the city to thrive. She is an intelligent young woman with a new perspective, and she well-represents the heart of Throme's identity: stylish, chic, modern, yet prosperous. She is trying to support the Metropolitan Police Force and bring them back up to standard... even a wonderful city like Throme has the odd crime now and then. Her office is in City Hall, which is a large and grand building that serves many purposes. In fact, in just six months, representatives from nations all over the world are to gather there in order to discuss matters of international importance - a conference between the nations. Ms. Cosette is to take part in this as well, and many are eager to see how things will turn out.

Another popular site in Throme is Cherry Grove Park. This is public space full of flowers in the spring and colorful trees in the fall. In the center of it is a beautiful plaza with a large and ornate stone fountain. Little children like to play in it in the hot summer days. Off to the side is a wishing well - it is said if you toss in a coin and make a wish, it will come true. There is a surprising collection of coins glittering at the bottom, but it is difficult to see from the depth of it. On weekends, a fortune-teller sets up her tent a ways off from the fountain square. She is young, beautiful, and dresses no differently than any other citizen of Throme - but she claims to have accurate readings. Her specialty is Tarot cards. Despite her normal appearance, she calls herself Madam Butterfly, refusing to divulge any other name.

There is one major museum in Throme - the Museum of Throme Art and History. Here, there are various displays of artwork, sculptures, and various historic replicas of the city's development. Fittingly enough, there is a new exhibit opening in a few months where the main attraction seems to be a mask. Rather ironic, no?

Lastly, of course, there is Throme's multi-purpose and undeniably grand shopping mall. It is not just a place to shop - there's the shopping district for that, at cheaper prices - but it also serves as a recreational center. There is a video game arcade, a movie theater, a book store, an ice-skating rink, restaurants, a concert hall, and even a theater for stage performances amongst its floors. In fact, Damon Ito and Emma Matia's upcoming musical is said to be using this revenue. One thing to note is that on weekends, there is a clown that comes and sells cotton candy and balloons by the escalator of the first floor. He calls himself Easter.
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Throme

Throme - a city of urban wonders

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Throme is a part of Masks of the Soul: Fragment of Truth.

11 Places in Throme:

4 Characters Here

Aki Evedane [3] "Why risk something when there is no guarantee that you'll succeed? You'll just end up worse than you already are."
Liesel Moringmer [3] "My team. My orders. You don't have a choice in that matter."
James Lyon [2] The Jack, jack of all trades, master of none
Brandon Clavell [1] I'm Brandon. So, what is it you do?

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The Beginning ; Day One





1. Throme


Excerpt from 101 Must-Visit Locations by the APA Travel Agency

Throme. The city of the future. There's no doubt that this is a tourist attraction that everyone must visit. Not only does it contain enough delights to entertain the whole family, but as the home of world-famous celebrities, including the famed fantasy writer Micah Faret, it is a must-see. While not the capitol of our nation, its mayor, Ms. Aline Cosette has become a major player on the world stage. Numerous observatories dot the newly-founded city, just ten years in age, as it lacks that ever-present layer of smog and pollution.

Important landmarks include the City Hall, popular shopping district Little Maybelle, classy Sagaro Mall, and of course, the Museum of Throme Art and History.

Due to its open-door policy, the City Hall is always full of spectators. Be sure to ask for one of the secretaries for a tour of the grand building, and you will not be disappointed. Not only might you catch a glimpse of the mayor herself dealing with the day-to-day issues that pop up to the city, but also visiting dignitaries. Do pay attention to the artwork on the walls - especially the one in the mayor's office. It is the late Tabytha Clarking's masterpiece, Oceans of Crystal, itself.

After dipping your feet in the luxurious but chic atmosphere of the City Hall, be sure to continue down 21st to check out Goatstone Bridge. It spans the blue Liron River. Do pay the toll collector - and don't be too scared of his face. This was the recent location of the recent reenaction of Romeo and Juliet's touching balcony scene. If you have an affinity towards water, boats can be taken on a short cruise around the area as the river is calm and soothing. Keep out an eye for the Golden Angelfish, native only to this area and quite rare indeed.

If shopping is your thing, Little Maybelle is one of the more crowded districts of the city. Once simply an avenue, it's since spread block after block into a whole district of its own. Here, the greatest fashions and styles line the street. Everything from the buildings to the vendors themselves is modern and chic. Should you have a hour to spare, Brio is not to be missed. Although not the cheapest café in the district, it offers anything you should desire and much more. It's the favorite haunt of model Noel Delari, so should you wish to go celebrity hunting, this is as good a place as any other.

Sagaro Mall provides a more classy alternative. As its goods are more expensive, the local citizens are prone to visiting it for other purposes. This multistoried building rises directly opposite the City Hall in a genius design that combines both tradition and innovation. The auditorium inside is the new venue for the upcoming musical, Dreams of a Lost Spring, costarring popstar Emma Matia and actor Damon Ito. It never lacks visitors, whether lured by the promise of ice skating, movies, the arcade, or its numerous rooftop family attractions.

Just down the block is the headquarters of the Throme News Station. The most reliable source for current events in Throme, it's since gained credibility throughout the world - with its ever-cheerful anchor Megan Mariot and the never-right weatherman, Kenneth Park. While the general public is not allowed to enter, note that many photo shoots take place here. If lucky, you may spot one of the more-interesting denizens of Throme arriving for a live interview.

Should learning interest you, the Museum of Throme Art and History (MTAH) is a must-see. The one major museum in Throme, it displays artwork, sculptures, and various historic replicas of the city's development. New exhibits open monthly, so there is always something interesting and new. All of its exhibitions revolve around Throme in general, so you can always learn something more about the beautiful city that you're visiting.





The Truest Perception; XX/XX/XXXX - #172

Denizens of the internet, you will be pleased to hear that after 3.8 months, the March Hare has returned from his indefinite hiatus. In other words, he has discovered something rather... intriguing. Thus, this website is now open once more. As always, all comments and discussions are to remain anonymous and do be careful - any personal information that can be traced has been and will continue to be used against you. You have been warned.

And with that, the March Hare is at your service once again.

Views: 3,758




XX/XX/XXXX - Report #17732 AS - Submitter : Allen *Name scrubbed*


Location:
Liron Pier, Warehouse 34

Description of the scene and crime:
The body, the third in a recent string of crimes, is mutilated in a similar manner to previous. Cuts not dissimilar from paper cuts litter the entire body, the victim probably bled to death slowly, while enough of the right muscles were cut to make moving agonising.

There is no evidence, on the body or in the wounds, that gives us a clue to who did it, and there are no actual footprint marks or other signs of anyone other than the victim having stood there any time recently.

The victim in question is an old sailor, Sr Blane Harker, who had entire charge of a block of the warehouses. This is in keeping with the recent murders of a store caretaker and a bank guard. All three of which guarded items of import. The actual items they guarded are untouched, oddly enough, and all three were murdered in uniquely horrible ways.

The murderer never leaves a sign of their passing.

Passing case to:
*Name scribbled out*

Good luck inspector.

Setting

3 Characters Present

Character Portrait: Elegant Harlequin Character Portrait: Amara Calen Character Portrait: Lara Lyles
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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

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Character Portrait: Aki Evedane
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Aki Evedane | Home -> Dullahan Library Main Entrance | November 21


Cold. Miserable. Rain.

With a sigh, Aki Evedane, blue-eyed junior and cherry gobbler, laid his fine point pen to the side and leaned back in his chair, stretching his arms behind his head. He’d just managed to finish all of his homework, and a Chemistry worksheet rested on the mahogany table in front of him, covered in his immaculate handwriting. Getting ready to do some extra practice, he picked up the pen again, flipped it around his fingers, and read the question carefully. Before he could even finish the first calculation -

“Aki!” shouted his father from down the hall.

The boy pushed back his seat, before covering the meters to the door in a few long strides. “What is it?” he asked, poking his head out from behind the door.

What caught his eyes was something very normal - for his family that is. A tall, well-built Caucasian man ruffled an embarrassed hand through his sandy brown hair. “I can’t find my jacket - and I’ve got a class to teach in a few minutes. Do you mind going back down to the library and looking for it?” Seeing Aki’s impassive expression, he gave a nervous laugh. “Come on, you know how my brain is. Scattered everywhere. But please?”

His father had the best puppy-dog eyes in the entire world. There was no denying him anything.

“Fine, I’ll stop by the library. Next time remember that you should check that you have everything before leaving a room.” Aki’s face didn’t change at all, but he really wanted to hit his head against a wall. “Now get back to getting ready. Your 6 o’clock students are going to be here any moment now - and look at you! You’re still half-dressed!” It was times like this that Aki thought that he was the father, and his dad … er… something young and immature.

“Thanks! I love you, Aki!” thanked his father, before returning to something more important. And with that he retreated back into his room, before rummaging through the piles of sweatpants on the ground, making it look even more like a pigsty. “Don’t forget an umbrella! I wouldn’t want you to catch a cold!”

Yeah, sure.

Aki swung past the shoe cabinet, chose a dark-colored umbrella, and finally strode out of their cheery home. Fingering through the important objects in his pocket, he prepared himself to walk a kilometer or two -- again. It was remarkable that he had even finished his homework because his father managed to lose six objects throughout Throme in the time of one single twenty-four hour day.

What’d that be? One object every four hours. Yesterday, he forgot both hat and that spare pair of tennis shoes at the gym. And then, just a few minutes later, he left his umbrella at Brio. After going out to dinner with his friends, he spent twenty minutes looking for his car keys that had been in his pocket for the entire time. The next morning, he grabbed Aki’s bag, went on a sightseeing trip, and left the planner in the middle of Cherry Grove Park where it got promptly scribbled on by a toddler. And now this.

Aki’s long fingers found his MP3 player and with deft, calculated movements, lost himself inside his music. Since he was undergoing a long period of time when he was relatively uninjured, things such as viola practice had somehow become a must. His mother, worried that her son wouldn’t be skilled enough to perform with the school group during their concert, had forced upon him a private tutor and insisted that he listen to their boring, classical pieces as often as humanely possible. Cue gift of new MP3 player.

By the time that the second song had finally ended, he could see the brown dome of Dullahan Library just up ahead. And remembered that it would’ve closed an hour ago.

Great.

Hoping that some of the librarians would have stuck around to deal with a few other duties, he climbed up the stairs to try to peer inside the blackened building. And then realized that there were actually no windows - just mirrors. So all that he could see was a slightly discolored image of himself frowning at nothing in particular. Knocking on the door with a smooth movement, he waited as patiently as he could.

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Character Portrait: Strength Character Portrait: Brandon Clavell
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-Brandon Clavell. His apartment-


"Those arrogant, self important, sanctimonious pieces of crap."

The lights of the apartment automatically snapped into life as Brandon Clavell strode through the front door, wrestling with the buttons of his rain sodden jacket. Straight into the living room, finally tearing the jacket free he tossed it aside, barely registering the stark, obviously expensive cleanliness of the room, all sheer white lines and aluminium. An expensive leather couch dead centre, top class laptop sitting on the glass and steel coffee table, massive plasma screen fitted directly into the windowed wall that took up the entire far side of the apartment and looked out over the city, it was like an art deco take on a temple, outfitted for modern life. Zen connectivity. It landed with a wet slap on the back of the couch, left a dirty smear as it slid down, came to rest in a crumpled heap amongst the cushions, leaking water.

He paid it no heed, caring little for the fact that it would probably mark the leather, or that his cleaner had obviously been here earlier today. That was what he paid her for, after all, and another couch could always be bought.

Stalking into the kitchen, he wrenched open a cupboard, still muttering under his breath. "Department harbours cause for concern, oh, of course." Snatching a glass from the row of pristine, identical glasses inside, slamming it on the counter hard enough to leave it ringing, he span, all flailing limbs, wrenched open another cupboard, twisted the top from a randomly snatched bottle of alcohol, half filled the glass with what turned out to be Talisker 57 whisky, downed it in one. "Certain practices may be out of line with company policy. Yeah."

Glass refilled, bottle left open on the countertop, he marched back into the living room, slammed the glass down, flipped the laptop open. It's not like anything he'd been doing was illegal. Not like other departments hadnt done the same thing in slower times. No, far as he knew, the entire damn industry was a grey area, and his boss hadnt been quite so contemptuous when profits had been higher. Oh no. As long as the money was flowing, everything was fine. Now the economy was screwed, morals apparently mattered again.

He took a deep breath, leant back, looked up at the ceiling as the laptop whirred through its boot process. It didnt matter now, anyway. No. What mattered now was the message from Itex. Those few words meant something was happening. The laptop beeped once as he ran his fingertip across the inbuilt scanner and fired up the secure chat program then rose, pacing back and forth whilst it sought connection.

"Come on, what's taking so long." His fingers drummed a staccato rhythm on the arm of the couch until, finally, the login window swam into view, and for a second the only sound was the rattle of the keyboard, the smack of the enter key loud enough to send the glass sat halfway across the table ringing. Standing, letting out a held breath, Brandon ran both hands up his face, back and through his hair, paused before speaking the words of calling.

"Control is everything." Fingertips shivered as the mask materialised, gold and white, expressionless. He raised it to his face, spoke the second set of words as if singing a hymn. "And all I witness, I own." and bucked, snapped backwards, hit by a sudden and singular shock, a blast of wind that affected only him, vanished quick enough that a witness would have questioned it had even happened.

The man who stood where Brandon had been a second before stood in complete silence for a moment, dispassionately regarding the room around him, lingering on the whisky for a second. He blinked, picked it up, took a small sip, smiling gently as the smoky taste blossomed across his tongue, and only then turned his attention to the laptop, the screen blankly stating he had less than one hundred seconds to input the second password.

Sinking into the couch, pushing the abandoned jacket aside with a flicker of distaste, he leant forward, tapped the keys with steady, even precision, then simply sat back and waited for a connection. With earbud in place he took another sip from the glass, thumbed the mic, then spoke with a voice low and melodious, but full of self assurance.

"This is Strength. What needs to be done."

Setting

2 Characters Present

Character Portrait: Cecil Vogel Character Portrait: Calanthia Rozenmare
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Cecil Vogel
Throme - Out and About


Sometimes, Cecil worried the weather would grow so dark it would blot out memories of Tania and the iced teas they spent drinking on hot summer afternoons. He worried for his plants, for his disowned sister’s glimmering smile, and for his own father’s safety. But that’s all he ever did – worry. He never actually went out and did something about it, and for that, he couldn’t forgive himself.

Cecil stared at his own hands, and peered outside the custom bulletproof windows of the Mercedes. The only sunshine these days ever brought were nothing but isolated rays bleeding through grim clouds. Sad, really.

The car slowed to a stop in front of a gardening store. Cecil preferred to walk around Throme most days, but given how temperamental the weather had gotten, he’d chosen to take the car. Besides, walks weren’t the same without Tatiana by his side. The chauffeur stepped out of the car, opened the umbrella, and – thump - the car door opened.

Rain spattered on Cecil’s crisp white button-up. What was that Tania used to tell him? That he was too pretty to ever really be strong? She was right, as always, but… Well, he was going to have to try, wasn’t he? Cecil drew a deep breath, closed his eyes and counted to three, puffed his chest out and –


Cecil Vogel stepped out of the car, self-assured and calm, with long strides that betrayed no fear. Slung over his arm was a black suit jacket, and by his side was a chauffeur struggling to keep his boss safe from the persistent rain.

“CLOSED”

Aw man. Cecil maintained an unperturbed expression. Now, where was he supposed to get some fertilizer? Honestly, Cecil knew stores would be closing around the time he left home, but how was he to know how tough the traffic would get? Scratch that. He knew. He just didn’t want to admit that maybe he’d taken too long to study for his exam next week.

The blond scoffed and returned to the car, leaving the chauffeur scrabbling behind him. He ducked into the safe confines of the car and leaned back into the leather seat with an unhappy sigh.

Er. What now? Oh, right. He ought to give the driver instructions. Cecil crossed his legs and looked out the window, waiting for the driver. The poor man was dripping wet by the time he entered the car again, and Cecil almost handed the driver his jacket before stopping himself. First of all, Father would disapprove if he ever caught wind, which he would, eventually. Father always heard when Cecil did something wrong. Secondly, the driver would probably be too afraid to take it anyway. Reinhart Vogel had instilled a strict sense of fear in his employees, constantly reminding them of their supposed inferiority.

What was that? Oh yeah. ‘It is better to be feared and loved than just loved.’ Or something like that. Cecil didn’t know, didn’t remember. He wasn’t very good with memorizing stuff. Besides, he had more important things to attend to – like how to spend the remaining hour and fifteen minutes he’d allotted for his break. After this, he’d have to go right back to studying before rushing to a dinner party being held by one of his father’s senior partners in the firm. Ack. He winced at the thought of his busy night. He’d deal with that later – his schedule was flawless, anyway. For now, he just needed some place nice and cozy, some place that felt like home, but didn’t have his father or older sisters stomping about.

Maybe Eden was still open.

“Let’s drop by Eden,” Cecil said.

The driver glanced at Atty. Vogel's only son through the rear view mirror, opened his mouth to say something, but then thought better of it.

The car drove on in silence.

When they finally arrived at Eden, it was a little past six. Closed as well, Cecil thought. Still, he thought he saw someone moving behind all the flowers arranged by the window, and decided it would be worth getting out and taking a look. He was a regular at Eden – surely Ms. Rozenmare would take that into consideration?

Hopefully.

Cecil bit his lip as the driver ran out into the rain and opened an umbrella for Cecil again. He had to stop with all these hopefullies. Father wouldn’t approve. Hope was for the weak. The strong knew the facts. There was no room for hope – just would or would not.

The car door opened again. This time, Cecil slipped into his suit jacket, buttoned it, and smoothed imagined creases away before stepped out of the car. Through sheets of rain pouring down over the umbrella, a stunning young man stood at Eden’s door.

He supposed the door wouldn’t be locked yet, if Ms. Rozenmare was still inside. Common courtesy wouldn’t hurt, though. He knocked at the door and patiently waited for the woman inside to take notice of him.

Her flowers were beautiful, as usual. He wondered if he could perhaps ask her where he could get peonies for his garden. He especially wanted blood red ones; they were so striking – or some orange Japanese lantern flowers. Those were equally beautiful. Cecil contained his excitement with a small cough and, after waiting a minute or so, peered through the window to see if Ms. Rozenmare had noticed someone at the door. If she didn’t, he’d have to knock again.

Setting

4 Characters Present

Character Portrait: Axilious Character Portrait: Aki Evedane Character Portrait: The Wheel of Fortune Character Portrait: James Lyon
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Aki Evedane | Dullahan Library Main Entrance | November 21


A few seconds later, he averted his sapphire blue eyes. Staring at his own reflection seemed to be unproductive, even when he was in such a bored state. Plus, since his entire figure was tinged copper and his appearance was impeccable like always, there really wasn’t anything to look at. Well, while he was still here at the library, there were only a few things that he could actually do.

One. Go home, explain the current unfortunate circumstances to his father, dig one of the spare jackets up from the closets, and well, tell him to come back tomorrow and look for it himself. That’d be fine - except his father wasn’t the type to do any work that he could escape from.

Two. Try to find a way in. Maybe there was a few unlocked windows somewhere - no, that strayed too far from disobeying the law, and he already had enough cops on his tail. Didn’t need a couple hundred tailing him, itching to finally get the ‘highschooler with the bandages’ for breaking and entering? So what did that leave him with -

His train of thought was broken off when he caught sight of a young male, with an umbrella, walking down the street. With his brown hair and very boring appearance, Aki would usually have never noticed him. Other than the fact that he was traveling in the middle of Throme’s less busy districts, really - he had to emphasize the point that this person was probably the most boring person in the entire city. But why would anyone be here on a Friday afternoon? Well, obviously, Aki himself was an exception to that rule, but there really wasn’t anything to do in Throme around these parts anyways. Other than visit the unfortunately closed library, of course.

His interest piqued, he stared at the guy until he disappeared and turned the corner. Aki breathed out once, trying to persuade himself that whatever the guy was doing - it wasn’t going to be interesting. He failed, of course, and found himself quickly climbing down the stairs, before following Guy stealthily. Just in time to see him hide behind a bush as though he was trying not to be seen.

Now that was interesting. No matter how Aki ever tried to rationalize it, there could be nothing normal about a guy who was trying to escape notice. Guy was doing something hidden there, and even as Aki tried to get closer without being too noticeable, Guy stepped out from his cover. “Ohho, mission me, mission my. Where else do we go to die? Hahaha.” Except for the fact that he wasn’t the same Guy. This Guy, with his eyeshattering blond hair, and flamboyant clothing, looked nothing like the mousy brown-haired one from before. He didn’t act the same either, walking down the side path as though he was the king of the world.

There was only one thing that could explain this. A simple, magical explanation. A mask. Either that or the ability to unfurl his skin and exchange it for another appearance.

Aki sighed, before he backed away from the dogging of Guy’s steps. While normally he wouldn’t have gone through such a hassle - really, Fortune was as bad as they came - but it was the one tool that he had at his disposal to get to the bottom of the mess. He knew enough to know that whoever these people were, they wouldn’t take kindly to an eavesdropper, and he’d probably have to do away with his relatively uninjured state.

Stepping to the side of the street, he chose one of the larger pruned trees from the library gardens and hunched behind it. Checking to be sure that the coast was clear, he held one hand in front of him. “When you’re bored,” he watched as the mask faded into his hand, its silver metal eyeholes staring into his. Flipping it over, he placed it firmly on his face, feeling a familiar chill down his spine, before he finally enunciated that stupid-sounding phrase. “Gamble on my luck.”


Wheel of Fortune | Dullahan Library Main Entrance | November 21


Black hair turned sandy, blue eyes transformed into a gleaming gold, and a white scarf twisted its way over messy clothing. The Wheel of Fortune was in the house, and it was time for some fun! Looking around, he exaggeratedly contemplated his surroundings. Really? A stubby little tree? Bouncing up on the balls of his feet, he poked his head over the poor-looking plant, and saw something interesting.

A manboy with pfft clothing.

Maybe he thought that he was good enough to attract the attention of the Wheel of Fortune himself. He could barely stop himself from sticking out his tongue and blowing Pfftboy a raspberry, but some thought stopped him. Perhaps it would be more fun to just follow him for a bit, watch the show for a few hours, and then pop up out of nowhere. Well, Mr.Pfft was certainly having the time of his life walking down that street. Maybe he got the thrills from being watched. From the way he dressed, that certainly was a possibility.

There was nothing that he liked more than an actor that could put on a show. “You’re boring me… see you later then!” he finally whispered in an uncharacteristically muted voice. His form turned into a streak of black, and before long, he found himself joined into Pfftboy’s shadow. Almost like Siamese twins but without the twinness. The manboy went straight into the garage, as the Wheel of Fortune bounded on his feet and made strange faces at his back.

Setting

7 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 Character Portrait: Liesel Moringmer
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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.

Setting

5 Characters Present

Character Portrait: The Chariot Character Portrait: Caine Strauss Character Portrait: Strength Character Portrait: Hanged Man's Trump Character Portrait: Hermit
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#, as written by Alasund
Judgement ; Itex Voice Chat


To all in the chat, a sixth voice finally spoke, though it almost seemed as if it had been there the whole time. "I see that the Tower has deigned to grace us with his presence," the voice chimed, as though congratulating the absentee on his arrival. "But it seems we've no more time to waste."

The flippant tone of the voice suddenly vanished, replaced instead by a colder tone – one which demanded obedience. "Chariot." the voice rang, before being replaced by more chipper tones. "You are in charge of the first group of three – though you'll only have two." It was almost as if he found the Tower's absence, and the subsequent hole it made in the first team, humorous.

"Strength. You're going with him." The order was delivered in the almost carefree manner it had started talking. "Both of you will be headed to Orion Street, in the backstreets, where you'll pick up a package. Chariot shall keep the package tonight, and tomorrow he will receive directions to where it will be delivered."

Not even waiting for acknowledgement from the two ordered, the voice changed targets. "Hanged Man." the chiming voice fleetingly paused on the name, "you will be leading the second group." The voice sounded like a verbal pat on the back – as if this were a gargantuan task finally completed. "Hermit. Moon. You're going with him." No accolades for them, though, just a fleeting pass over as if they weren't worth the effort.

"You three are heading to Liron Pier, where you'll meet a contact. They will recognise you, so you needn't worry about finding them." A little tiredly, the voice paused and thought for a moment, "And be careful..." the trailing sounded drawn, as if to hold the implication he cared for the Lower Itex for a moment, "of the packages. There will be quite a few angered if contents are either lost or broken." the chimed words were almost cruelly said, but before a reply could be given, the voice spoke one last time.

"That is all. Be about your tasks. And do not attract the attention of anyone while doing your tasks." There was no false warmth or happiness in this statement, blank and hard as it was. The second he finished speaking, the signal on the screen showed all present that he'd signed out.

Setting

2 Characters Present

Character Portrait: The Chariot Character Portrait: Strength
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Strength cocked one eyebrow, the only indication of emotion on his face as Judgement logged out, just as swiftly as he'd logged in. Though the face was stolid and calm, the mind behind whirled, processing the information, or lack of, that had been given, working plans, tactics, eventualities.

"Chariot, this is Strength." Despite the familiarity in tone, Chariot was as unknown to him as the place they would be sent tonight. As were most of the names he'd heard spoken. Idly, he wondered if Brandon had set something up to automatically record the conversation, as he nearly always did with important communiques, whether it was from work or otherwise. All the better to dissect and disseminate for information, for blackmail material. Amazing the things people let slip sometimes, and just as amazing how little people actually picked up in general conversation. Hence the repeated listenings.

Whilst Orion street wasnt somewhere he'd visited before, it was close by, maybe twenty minutes brisk walk, half a dozen subway stops. Thumbing the mic again, he snapped up a browser based map site, flicked it to the area they were headed. "I can be at Orion street in thirty minutes." he said, taking a deep breath and committing the labrynthine streets around their target to memory. "I'll be on the eastwards approach, just outside the.." A slight pause, one blink to recall. "Coffee shop on the corner. Meet me there."

Whilst Judgement had ostensibly put the Chariot in charge, simple things such as meeting points mattered little. Besides, whilst he wouldnt share the opinion, judging from the twisting sing song lilt of Judgement's voice, alternately harsh and lyrical, and the sheer amazing lack of actual hard information he'd given them, their boss wasnt the most professional of gentlemen. To not even be told what the package was or where or who they would be expected to retrieve it from left him cold. Still, that was none of his concern. This was the objective. It would be completed.

Without another word, he signed off, shutting down the laptop and placing the earpiece and microphone carefully on top of it. For one long moment he simply sat there staring into the black screen, as if the distorted reflection of himself held all the answers, then snapped to attention and strode into the master bedroom.

Two minutes later and he was at the door, leather bomber jacket on over the same shirt and trousers Brandon had come home in. Taking a moment to check pockets, make sure he wasnt carrying any identifying items, Strength clicked off the light and left the apartment.

Setting

2 Characters Present

Character Portrait: Axilious Character Portrait: Liesel Moringmer
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#, as written by Alasund
Axilious ; Dullahan Library Underground Car Park - Little Maybelle


Ohho, and so, the backstage players were late! A smirk replaced the casual benevolent expression, as Liesel outlined her belief that he wouldn't do his job! Well, well, the script was drawn, and the audience in their positions. The play was ready to begin, surely?

'Of course, of course, I'll try to be careful, and not alert the presence of the baleful. But seriously, mademoiselle, your doubt in my abilities wounds me.' Feigning, quite obviously, and injured look, the flamboyant man suddenly spun around towards the other Masked there.

'Very well, Ms do tell, shall we be on our way?' And before there could humanely be a reply, it seemed he already assumed a yes. 'Alright, alright, the stars alight. We've but things to do tonight! A play awaits, the play dictates. We've a job to do, after all!'

Prancing along, almost bouncing every step of the way, Axilious vanished from the car park, continuing to walk as if the world was watching him from every angle. Of course, there was not a single soul around the library car park entrance at this time of night, but that didn't matter. Head tall, eyes forwards,each step a measured, controlled pace with just enough saunter to make it look sauve.

Setting

2 Characters Present

Character Portrait: The Chariot Character Portrait: Strength
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#, as written by Alasund
The Chariot ; Itex Voice Chat - The Backstreets; Orion street corner


The voices washed over the Chariot. The greetings, the orders, and lastly, his teammate being decisive. He smiled. He didn't mind, he preferred allies that could think for themselves. In fact, this one would do splendidly with their initiative, their lack of patience, even, for others to decide the course of action.

'I will be there. Welcome to the Lower Task Force, Strength.' The greeting wasn't even in the script. Hell, the group wasn't even named the 'Lower Task Force', but that didn't matter to Chariot. He was already bored of orders, and wanted action. Flicking the connection off, the computer down, Chariot stood up, recalling the immediate area from Shannon's memory. Dorm room. Wouldn't be good to come out of Shannon's room at all. After all, no grabbing attention, he said.

Grinning, Chariot opened the window, glancing around. The few students out and about had no focus on the window or the dorm, and would hardly notice one man. Besides that, this wasn't even anything but the small rest area, or outdoors study area. Or whatever people called it. Chariot lost all interest in it beyond -- 'Huuuup' -- dropping down into it. It was still raining, of course, but it hardly even bothered the Chariot. It pleased him, if anything.

Cold, chilly, easily makes someone hunch into their shell. A hazard when fighting, due to the various dangers it could cause, from muscle issues to the lack of solid ground to keep balance. It didn't matter to him anyways. He was a champion of battle, and even a hazard wouldn't touch him.

Forcing himself to slow his pace, he entered the small cluster of people with umbrellas that marked the street next to the campus. Pretending to hunch his shoulders and clutch at the jacket, he let the flow of feet carry him as he worked towards his destination. He could've easily doubled his speed, or even tripled it, but 'don't stand out' rang in his mind.

Sure, there wasn't even a full crowd of people pushing and pulling, and often there was a little space. But who remembers the average trundlers over the rushers? And besides, there was no harm in letting Strength get there first. Might even be a boon in the end.

It was a little longer until he arrived at the coffee shop, straightening and looking around for the aura of Strength. That one would never hide in a crowd.... Let alone the sparsity of a rainy day's traffic.

Setting

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Character Portrait: The Chariot Character Portrait: Strength
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Two hundred meters from his house, Strength looked up at the sky and shook his head. Rain still hammered down relentless, the sun invisible behind grey clouds, thick on a sky that was also somehow itself grey. Ducking under the eave of the nearest building, another cut and paste residential block, he glanced both ways down the street, assessing options. Amazingly, despite the city traffic, there were no cabs in sight and the subway was another block away. Despite himself, he shivered in his jacket. Half a mile in this would soak him to the bone.

With no other option, Strength flicked up his collar, turned, and broke into a run. Dodging between the few people still on the streets, attracting more than a few questioning looks, he sprinted for the nearest supermarket, two blocks out of the way, barreling through the doors in a spray of rainwater. Barely two minutes later and he was back outside, unfurling a cheap black umbrella, the days newspaper tucked under his arm.

In a way, the rain was a boon. Whatever it was they were doing tonight was obviously clandestine, and the rain would provide a modicum of cover. After all, who'd be mad enough to be out in this weather. Except people like, well, him, obviously. Allowing himself a thin grin, Strength checked his watch, nodded at the clock in satisfaction, then doubled his pace, examining each person he walked past. Barely one in ten even looked at him, and the ones that did didnt give him a second glance. That was the problem with people these days. No one paid any attention to the world around them.

The rest of the journey was relatively uneventful, though he did make it a point to stop twice and let the traffic, foot and vehicle, flow on. From his vantage point across the road, the little coffee shop, some local joint called, inexplicably, the Muffin Break, was almost empty. The lights turned red and he crossed quickly, dodging between two cars as they slowed. One of them was a cab, its on duty light glowing, and the corners of Strength's eyes crinkled in wry amusement as he pushed open the door.

He'd been right. It was almost empty. Automatically breaking the room into quadrants, he strode towards the counter. The young couple giggling to themselves in the corner hadnt taken their eyes off each other, the businessman in the rumpled suit sitting at the table across rolling his eyes at each cutesy noise they made. The only other customer was a middle aged guy, alone at his table, half eaten sandwich sitting in front of him. Strength met his eyes, and the man gave him a half nod, running one hand across his shaved head.

He knew, in that half second, that the other man had sized him up in one practiced glance, just as Strength had assessed him. Mid 30s, dressed exactly nondescript enough to attract no attention, military, or ex at least, from the way he held himself. To put it bluntly, an operator. Someone who could handle himself. The guy stood, rising lithe and easy, reaching into his jacket, and Strength tensed.

"Guess it's my turn to brave the elements, eh pal."

His voice echoed with wear. Of too much hard liquor and tobacco. Smiling, or at least showing his teeth, the guy pulled a cheap cigarette from inside his jacket and stuck it between his lips. Without another word, or even waiting for a reply, he sauntered past, so close their shoulders brushed against each other, and pushed open the door. Strength watched him go in the mirrors behind the counter, only turning his eyes to the barista behind the counter when the door had closed again completely. Petite, one too many facial piercings just taking the edge off her cuteness, with a badge that proudly stated that her name was Laura and she would love to help him choose the right drink, the girl gave him a smile that almost looked genuine and rolled her eyes at the door.

"I know, right. Awful out there."

She paused, and he nodded his assent that, yes, the constant driving rain was awful. Grinning, this one real, she swept her left arm out towards the pastry counter and kitschy collection of mugs stacked against the back wall. "So, what can I get for you?"

His eyes flicked up to the board behind her head, read nothing on it. Didnt need to. His order wasnt complicated.

"Coffee. Nothing fancy, just black, one sugar." He hesitated, intentionally, followed the line of her arm with his eyes as he span slowly on his heel towards the cakes. The boy in the corner chose that second to say something hilarious, sending his girlfriend into peals of laughter that echoed oddly around the room. Glancing their way, he considered the cakes for another long second then turned square back to Laura.

"And everything in here looks good." The last word was purred, a low rumble that made her smile. And it was true. It all did. "What would you," he made a point to recheck her name badge, "Laura, recommend to me from the selection over there?" She opened her mouth to speak and he held up a hand, interrupting whatever it was she was about to say. "You know what, I love surprises. I'm going to take my seat. I'll have whatever you bring me."

The girl rolled her eyes at him, though she was smirking as she turned to make his coffee, moving with practiced efficiency. He took a seat at the table furthest from the door, back to the wall, and unfurled the paper. Looks like he'd beaten the Chariot here. He'd half expected the guy to be here when he'd arrived, had entertained the fact for half a second that maybe Mr Spec-ops might have been him, at least until the guy had spoken.

Ah well, he thought, flicking his eyes to the clock on the wall. Taking a deep breath, he lounged back in his chair and raised the paper, looking up every few seconds to check the street outside. With nothing to do but wait, might as well check what's going on in the local news.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Crow
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Hannah Lister | Throme


It was a beautiful day, all clean air and cool fresh breeze. Even though the rain might have been wet and generally horrible, it was great for the plants. And, oh, how wonderful would it be? Delicate little buds would slowly poke through the earth and start greeting the sun, growing stronger with every passing day. And, then, at the end of their development, flowers would open and nearly paint the world with their aroma~

These thoughts made her feel slightly better when... a few seconds later, she stepped right in the middle of a puddle and ended up with dripping socks and shoes. Well, at least she wouldn’t have to clean them. For a while, at least.

With her newly dampened footwear, she continued walking onwards towards the meeting area, wincing with every step. Almost as though an afterthought, the girl checked the neon blue watch on her left wrist - ‘Oh, sorry Liesel! I really am! I didn’t mean to be late’ - and immediately shifted to an all-out run, ignoring the huge puddle that was growing in her shoes. Her watch beeped again, and a message popped up with a flash of light. ‘TRANSFORM.’

Ducking quickly into a side road, she skidded to a stop, breathing heavily all the while. She was sure that the alley had some redeeming qualities - like the fact that it was slightly drier than the main street - even despite the overwhelming stench. Then, stretching out one hand, she spoke with an overly bright, almost singsongy, tone. “Mirror, mirror on the wall~” A mask slowly faded into existence, all shiny gold and silver swirls. Prettiful.

She placed it on her face, wide blue eyes poking out of the holes almost comically, before...



Crow | Dullahan Library


“Reflect my death, show my fall,” murmured a voice quietly. And with that, magic finally took effect. Blond hair lightened, blood drained from rosy red cheeks, and in the place of a young mortal stood Crow.

The first thing Crow noticed was that it was raining. And that rain was wet. And cold. The second thing she noticed was that she didn’t like it. And that she was miserable. And cold.

More importantly, there were no bodies on the street. None of the living variety either, no matter how temporary that state was. What there was was an overabundance of liquid.

What was she doing? Right. That building with the bound paper and ink scribbles. Nothing a few little magical tricks couldn’t bring down to the ground. Wouldn’t take very long either. But no, that was not the point. The point was something else - the health-killing, smoking woman had summoned her. And other living bodies, but she was the only one who mattered.

The rest of them could not whistle up a spell even if their minds depended on it. And they were going to slip a blade between her ribs. Kill her, they would try. They were jealous of her magic, while they were still in the realm of the mundane. She was sure of that. That was why she was going to do the same thing to them first. And it would be a fast, painful maneuver. Serves them right for looking at her the wrong way. She could nearly hear their traitorous thoughts.

Crow strode down the middle of the sidewalk, eyes unfocused and unblinking. With hardly a sidewise glance, she turned into the driveway of the book-building, down into the depths of its dry basement. Other than the puddles that were there, of course. At least, it was warmer, and she was not quite as miserable. Her hair, normally voluminous, was now plastered to her thin face, which was also practically dripping with fluid.

I do hope you’ll all forgive me for my lateness, as I was attending to rather…… delicate matters.” said a voice. Crow recognized the tone quite well. The moving cadaver was termed the King. No matter how much of an ass he was. Pretending that the royal bastard had not spoken (and he might as well not have), she stood in the center of the room, staring at the ginger destroyer of lungs.

Now that the one important actually-living magician was present (as in herself), the rest of them can tick off like robots. And do stuff. Because. Just because.

Setting

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Character Portrait: The Chariot Character Portrait: Strength
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The Chariot ; The Backstreets; Orion street corner


There was no Strength in the rain. For some reason, this absence, and obvious abscond to the interior of the coffee shop, made Chariot smirk. It seemed even the mighty had fallen to the weather. Pretending to hunch into his coat, he slipped easily under the eaves of the coffee shop door, loitering there a moment as another man passed him. Pulling the flames of his powers out, underneath the clothes, he dried himself off slightly, allowing the flames to be mostly dampened by the soaked clothing and wet atmosphere.

Shaking himself off like a wet dog, Chariot swooped into the shop. The coat sitting on his shoulders, although without arms in the sleeves, hung surprisingly stiffly for what it should have endured, and the hair was perhaps a little too dry, but only the close observer would notice the slightly off details.

Moving quietly, swiftly, up towards the counter, he pretended to completely ignore the current conversation between the server girl and the man whose mere presence seemed to single him out from the entire customer base. 'One cup coffee, black, no sugar, cream.'

The words were like an incision into the flow of casual talk, like a sergeant barking orders, except with less force and volume. 'The ride is tough out there.' The casual remark was as he turned away, moving towards an empty table at the back, glancing once over his shoulder with a slight smirk. He wondered if Strength got the small reference or not. At least he'd recognise the cold voice of the Chariot, for it hardly changed from voice chat to actual conversation.

Setting

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Character Portrait: The Chariot Character Portrait: Strength
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Another voice cut through the background murmur, a voice he recognised. Without even needing to look around, Strength knew. Cursing inwardly for not noticing the Chariot's approach, he spoke without looking back, face calm, voice steady.

"Yeah."

The single word held no inflection, no indication of what was running through his mind. It was almost bait, a lead in, for the Chariot to respond to, to open up first. Despite himself, Strength was intrigued as to what the other man would bring up, what he found important.

Chosing not to sit down, Chariot stayed standing, glancing around the coffee shop. "Not much of a crowd today." The murmer of casual conversation probably irritating, Chariot almost seemed disinterested. Instead he chose to furrough his brow before striding around into his compatriot's field of vision.

"Wonder who the deliveryman with the package is." A flicker of a smile, then, for the crowd, or lack thereof, in the cafe. "Wouldn't be out on the street where delicate things could be ruined..."

Casting an appraising eye over his companion, Strength grunted an assent, raised an eyebrow in question. "Honestly, I expected you to know who we were here to meet." Between the apparent apathy of the Chariot and the fact that neither of them knew concrete detail, still, alarm bells were ringing in his head.

Giving the room another quick glance, Strength leant forward, fixing the Chariot with a steady stare. "Do we have nothing to go on? At all?" A slight pause, one almost followed with criticism, but held back. Either way, it seemed their organisation didnt believe in handing out detailed briefs.

"Judgement is one of the more caprious superiors." The reply was fired back, casually daring the obvious criticism that even Chariot, not a skilled conversant, knew hung behind the comment. "He leaves information willy nilly, but nothing coherant. It's supposed to make the operatives think on their feet."

Frowning as he stared closely at the renewed giggling in the corner, Chariot's eyes thinned to slits. "I hate peaceful missions."

Whatever Strength was going to say was interrupted by the waitress bringing over their drinks. Giving her a nod of thanks, he reached out, taking his own coffee, staring down into the murky liquid as if in deep thought. Purposefully stretching out seconds, he took a sip, set the mug back on the table, every movement slow and controlled, designed to put the Chariot even less at ease.

"I have no strong feelings either way. Whether it's peaceful or not. I just dont like not knowing exactly what I'm doing." He stressed the last few words, waited for the other man to reply, watching the steam from the two cups twining patterns into the air.

Accepting the cup, but immediately discarding it in favour of the constant stare around the room. It was almost as if the Chariot couldn't help but keep a constant surveillance on the entire shop, just in case an enemy burst from somewhere.

"Then you'd prefer several of the other superiors. It's a pity that Judgement is the most common one to give out orders." There was... not very well hidden irritation in this comment, though much less of Strength's distaste for the lack of details. "Package means it's large enough to be noticable."

From his seat, back to the wall, Strength could see the entire room, even with his attention focused on his coffee. The seat had been chosen for this purpose, and he'd also known, in the back of his head, that the Chariot would have to sit with his back to a blind spot. Glad to see that the other man was at least keeping his eyes open, Strength took another long slug of the coffee, set the cup back down with a decisive snap.

"Well, Judgement said something about the backstreets. I came in here as we didnt seem to have a timeframe, and, honestly, to get out of the rain." He stood, pushed his chair back under the table, fished a note out of his pocket and tossed it onto the table, set a spoon on top of it. "Sitting here is accomplishing nothing. The sooner we start searching, the sooner we can find this package."

Again, Strength noticed that he was taking charge, despite the assertations that Chariot was to be the leader of the two. Calm and steady as a mountain, he simply stood and waited for the younger man's response.

Flicking his eyes back to Strength, Chariot turned his lips up in a smile. It certainly wasn't the casual cruel smile, more of a.. somewhat startled, but completely amused smile. He had always found those with initiative despite put in a lower position an amusing type. And certainly one that Itex could use. That she could...

"Indeed." Still not having touched the coffee, he stood with Strength. "The package wouldn't be out in the rain. More likely it'll be in a public meeting place out of the rain. This shop is actually one of the few places that could be described like that around here. But obviously is barren of the contact. So, all that remains is the small local mall down the road, and the covered food court that competes with here." The eyes had flashed cold, as the minutae detail of the map of the area was recalled. He paused long enough to almost imply he was deciding where to go...

Then. "So, which do you suggest?" The smile returned as he stared. Eyes unblinking in a gaze which seemed to expect something.

'The package wouldnt be out in the rain.' So Chariot did know something about this mission he wasnt sharing. Interesting. Strength met his gaze, returning the smile with one of his own as he spread both arms in a half shrug.

"What do I suggest? I seem to remember you being put in charge." The smile widened, fractionary, for a moment, then was gone, replaced by a pure and focused, businesslike calmness. "What do you suggest?" A slight pause, then a semi-sardonic, "Sir"

The smile from Chariot vanished just as fast as the eyes narrowed again. He never was good at expecting changes in conversational flow, and the persistant feeling that Strength was trying to get something from this that he couldn't fathom irked him.

"I suppose I was." The admission ruined the attempt to draw a suggestion, but then, the other had chosen that route quite intentionally it seemed. "On a rainy day, the Mall is likely the least likely place to be spotted in a clandestine meeting, so I suppose that is my suggestion of where to start."

"Well then." Gesturing to the door, Strength kept his face carefully straight. On a rainy day, a mall, the only covered place in the area, would be the least likely place to be seen? Still, it didnt matter, every word, every passing moment brought fresh information forward. Like how the Chariot was still deferring to him, or at least acting at it.

For some reason, Strength couldnt grasp the other man. Couldnt read him. The erratic changes in personality, the twitchiness. None of it was congruent with what he'd been expecting. Filing it away, to be dealt with another time, he nodded once. "Lead the way."

Well, game over. The new recruit was more than what had been expected, certainly. And Chariot hated how the conversation was turned around on him. Oh well, the game was over, the report would be filed back after this was over. Closing his face into the cold reflection of a perpetual icy stare, he nodded and headed towards the door himself. It was time to get this done with. No more reason to loiter, after all.

Striding out into the rain with nary a glance to see if the other was following, the Chariot seemed to ignore the wetness, despite the coat not being much protection against the heavy driving rain. And he never stopped his roving eyes, taking in anyone on the street. Anyone passing by. The very fact that Itex suddenly called a meeting not originally scheduled, and upping activity around the place, meant that something big was happening. And whenever something big happened, there was always danger.

(Written by Alasund De'astion and Harlequin Smile)

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#, as written by ZenMon
Orion Street - Rooftops


The rain fell onto the rooftops with a soft hiss and the occasional plunk as the raindrops struck a metal surface. It pooled in slight depressions in the surface of the roof, or in the corners where the level of the building wasn't quite perfect. A few sullen looking pigeons huddled together on the nearby lip of the building, doing their best to cram underneath the overhanging gantry of a billboard, but not wanting to disturb the black hooded figure already beneath it. He radiated wrongness to them. The deep hood of the figure turned ever so slightly towards the pigeons, barely acknowledging their presence. They scattered, flying off through the rain in hopes of finding a safer sanctuary from the rain.

Dek watched the pigeons fly off with a small smirk of satisfaction on his face. Rats with wings. But they know better than to stay around someone like me. The tall pale man leaned forward slightly to glance at the street below, several scant drops of rain falling on the back of his hood with faint snapping sounds. Watching. His least favorite task. Too much waiting, observing. Not enough destruction, or fighting. Nothing worth doing any work for. His smirk quickly turned into a grimace. What's taking them so long? Surely they have it by now. Or are they doing something fun without me? Surely they wouldn't. His hand reached into his pocket, taking out his mobile.

For what must've been the tenth time in the past five minutes, Dek read the same message on his phone:
From: Anon.
Orion Cafe. Overwatch, 2 Itex w/ package. Approach after retrieval. Do not be late again, Tower. Punishment will be severe.



Dek snorted derisively before putting the phone back into his pocket. Christ he hated waiting. Again, he peered over the lip of the rooftop to stare at the people below. Almost like insects. So weak, so fragile. Not knowing who or what watches them. Not knowing of the dangers they could be in. A minute more of watching before he withdrew his head back underneath the gantry on the billboard. It wasn't that Dek hated the rain. In fact, he quite enjoyed it when he wasn't being forced to stand by idly. Then it wore on his patience as obstinately as an itch that was just out of reach. One final glance, then he'd go find something more interesting to do. Punishments be damned.

Within moments of looking over the edge of the building, he saw who he was looking for. Heh. Those two. They couldn't blend in if they tried, not with that kind of presence. Dek smiled as he turned into the rain as he placed his hands into his pockets. With those two exuding the presence they did, try as they might to blend in, any Masked would be drawn to them like flies to an open garbage bin. Dek followed the two on the street, keeping close to the edges of the buildings, barely staying visible. He hoped the Masked would follow, that'd make his day much much more interesting. And his day had been mind-crushingly dull so far. Oh what a day what a day this will turn out to be. What a day, what a day...

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Character Portrait: Caine Strauss Character Portrait: Crow Character Portrait: Liesel Moringmer Character Portrait: Cedric Valsche
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Crow | Dullahan Library -> Liron Pier


Sharp teeth bared into a smile meant anger - which was bad for the heart. Brought with it promises of future heart attacks. What a shame. She needed her bodies to be healthy in life.

And it’s only half-past late. Damn it, when there is a set time, there is a fucking reason! No message, no warning… you might have been caught in traffic or you might have been caught by Itex. How the hell am I supposed to know?

Yes, this was probably anger. Although whether or not Itex even had the means to capture a jinxflinger was doubtful. Very. There was a reason why magicians were always in demand. Because they were helpful.

And I think you -

Crow ignored whatever she said. There was no point. She was talking to the royal bastard who had no powers whatsoever. Really useless. Could be taken down with an arrow to the head. Probably aimed between the eyes. Would be simple enough.

Listening to the instructions to the warehouse with a quarter of one ear, Crow simply stood there, unmoving, not reacting, even as she inched her back closer to a wall. Always nice to have some backup. Her senses were at the top of her game - making her almost hypersensitive - and for a second, she was aware of the constant smell that always surrounded her.

So she was supposed to leave?

Exiting the room with the same blank expression that she used when entered, she paused after a few steps, just in turn to hear voices from inside start as soon as she left.

The two of them leaned together closely, whispering in each other’s ears with the appearance of common criminals. A tiny wavering smoke curled around their faces. ‘How soon are we going to do the deed. Well, of course, it will have to be done soon. Very soon. A poisoned blade will do the trick very well. Yes we have to be careful. The girl is only valuable to us dead.’ Faces marred with deadly smirks. A weapon fingered lovingly.

Yes, they had to be plotting against her. To destroy her life and steal her magic. They coveted her mask. They wanted her dead.

Arriving there did not take that much time. Walking in the center of the sidewalk, ignoring all of the little in number, hapless, brainless mortals that dared to be in her way. Fists clenched tightly, making her knuckles whiter than the rest of her skin, as she tried to drive back the urge to see them all to the loving embrace of death with a well-placed arrow.

The warehouse came into view faster than she expected. A quiet burbling from the river continued to annoy Crow even as she looked at the slightly open door that beckoned her closer.

A

Trap.

Refusing to get any closer, Crow stood there and looked at the opening, half expecting to see skeletal fingers curl over the wood. Then, a few minutes later, she continued walking forwards. The Queen could have fun setting off the trap because Crow was not going to waste her life on any dangers. Not if she could help it.

Just ahead, a wooden surface jutted over the silver-blue surface of the water. Skin tingling with the feeling that someone was going to kill her, Crow strode closer, magical sparks dancing from her fingertips.

There was someone there.

A boy.

With black clothing and white hair. Almost like her. Drawing one of her Lirael arrows from the air around her, she flicked it into the air, aiming a few centimeters away from his face. A warning shot across the bow. And if he moved into its trajectory, it wouldn’t be too much of a loss anyways.

A few minutes later, the arrow was arching elegantly towards the pier, leaving a faint trail of light as it traveled. Keening the siren call of death as it went.

With deft movements, Crow continued to pull a second arrow out of the air, letting it sit dormant in her hand. Always good to be prepared. Tongue tripping through the complicated incantation to control her still-flying arrow, the magician looked at her target through disinterested eyes. ‘How would the body react?’

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#, as written by Alasund
The mall loomed ahead as the two wanderers in the rain approached. Still silent, still unreacting to the rain, Chariot strode ahead. As if sensing that something was going to happen very soon, the rain beat down harder, the small drops of rain hitting hard enough to sting on exposed skin. And yet, that hardly stopped either man from Itex.

Chariot, pausing to look around once as they arrived at the mall entrance, grimaced in distaste while glancing around, his face shielded from his current partner's. Of course he'd been caught on the spot and said the most logical sounding thing that came to mind, and now he would look like a fool to Strength, most likely. Especially with the clusters of people inside the mall. So much for being as deserted as he wanted it to be. Not that it effected the mission in any way..

Shaking his head, he stepped into the covered entrance, before stepping to the side to 'allow' his partner to also get out of the rain, although the entrance was easily wide enough for them to have gone abreast and still have room for more. No, the action was to obscure him while affording him a clear view of both in and outside the shop for people paying undue attention. After a moment finding nothing, a simple 'Let's go.' and the cloaked man was off at a brisk walk again. There was no hesitancy for where to go, or a pause for Chariot to get his bearings.

With one glance back out into the rain sodden street, Strength shrugged his shoulders and followed his partner into the mall, unable to shake the feeling that something was up. Maybe it was losing the jump in the coffee shop, or Chariot's twitchiness, or even the underlying distaste he felt for the way the missions were being handled around here, but then, maybe it wasnt. When it came to his own intuition, Strength trusted himself implicitly, despite knowing full well he'd despise someone else for using 'just a feeling' as a justification.

The mall was far from busy, but far from the ghost town Chariot had suggested it'd be. Aware that Chariot was doing the same, Strength settled into the same, familiar pattern of easy stride, head on a swivel, eyes flicking across each knot of people, each storefront, looking both for their contact, not that he knew what he was looking for, and for the out of place. Anything odd, strange, anything that could become, as he'd once heard it euphemistically described, a situation.

"So." It wasnt really a question, his tone flat and low, demanding response. "We're here. Now what."

Pausing at the base of the stairs to the second floor, Chariot carefully watched a pair go past. 'As soldiers, we're here to await contact.' There was no give in the words of Chariot. Turning to regard the man with him, Chariot's smile, pasted on for the passers by, was wiped away. 'I thought it was understood that trust with information should be earnt.'

Through blind obedience, or if not that, at least measured and patient obedience. 'Anyone with information regarding us should find us fairly easily. Where as the contacts we work with specialise in fading into the background.' As if this explained the entire situation, Chariot turned away again.

For a long second Strength gave no indication or response to the Chariot, just kept the same steady flat gaze on the other man, then nodded with a curt, 'Understood."

Trust for information should be earned? They were, as low level 'soldiers', not privy to information he'd assume was obvious for completion of their objective? Despite his misgivings increasing with every new word, every piece of information given, Strength kept quiet. From the other man's reaction either he wasnt used to being questioned so incessantly, or Strength had pushed simply too far. Showing no emotion beyond stolid readiness, he placed his back at the wall and waited for their contact to show.

Chariot nodded once to himself, satisfied by the other's response, and went back to casually surveying the surrounding people. The escalator above, hardly teeming with people at all, suddenly had a bit of a commotion as someone went barrelling down it, drawing the eyes of the surrounding people. The older man in the business suit merely muttered at everyone in a hostile manner as he barrelled past them.

For those not just watching the stairs, the man that paused right next to Chariot might have been an interesting person to watch. Wide brimmed hat and rather casual clothes masked his figure quite well, though his face was fairly visible. After watching the spectacle for a moment, he nodded at the two Itex people and continued on his way.

Chariot, meanwhile, now had his hands in his pockets while watching proceedings. 'We wait until another potential contact could give us information in some way before we move.' Resisting the urge to look at the written instructions that he'd received in the commotion, he left it in his pocket as he waited.

Before long, as the preacher with the pamphlets moved past, forcing one each on the pair, Chariot put the useless article inside his coat as he motioned for the duo to move to a more isolated place.

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Image??? ; Itex Voice Chat

A few seconds after the Moon finished speaking, a username flickered into existence on the side of the chatbox. Although the name itself was merely three black question marks, there was an icon floating on its left - two haloed golden wings, whatever that meant.

What emerged was not the flippant chiming of Judgement. The voice was silk-hiding-steel and oddly feminine at that. Cold, self-centered, and slightly airy, the voice came almost immediately as though its owner had been there the entire time. “Moon,” she enunciated carefully. “Were the complications taken care of? Have the bodies been removed from the scene and evidence destroyed? Or shall we put a count of two hours of paperwork on your head, Moon?” Without waiting for an answer to this barrage of questions, the woman continued firmly. “No matter. Do not answer. This is nothing to be discussed on the Internet even with the Hanged Man monitoring our security.”

The voice paused, and then a few seconds later, continued as if there had been no interruption. “Bring the package to Cherry Grove Park, on the corner of Tyr and Cinda, Northwest Throme. You shall recognize it by the cherry trees. The greatest care and secrecy is to be taken. Not even your own Itex teammates may know of this tryst. Arrive in the next thirty minutes, thirteen seconds. We shall give you an exact nine minute leeway on time, but do make haste. Upon arrival, look for a cloak and red ribbons.”

These instructions taken care of, there was another second of silence. “We should not have to remind you, but do not open or cause any damage to this package of ours.” Then voice became cold like the rain still pouring from the skies, before finishing her speech. “Even with the greatest of witnesses protesting your promising signs of innocence, Moon, our trust in you is not to be broken unless you are willing to face our judgement.”

“Hurry and go.”

A moment later, if there was anyone who was there to see, the name faded off of the lists, almost as though it had never been there.