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Nomad Clan

The Snapa-verse

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a part of Nomad Clan, by Nulix.

Welcome to my Snap house

Nulix holds sovereignty over The Snapa-verse, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

2,459 readers have been here.

Setting

Hey Snapa, it's me Snapa
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The Snapa-verse

Welcome to my Snap house

Minimap

The Snapa-verse is a part of Nomad Clan.

16 Characters Here

Uluru [352] The slayer of beasts on the hunt for and an even greater quarry...
Dustin vel Iz'Raphel [282] Driven by duty, beleaguered by responsibility, a young man searches for a way to put meaning into this cruel existence.
Skullivan [276] The Wetland Traitor himself
Bohdana Yātrī [264] A clanless girl fighting to keep a generational dream.
Xaverius Rusten [225] Somewhat hefty explorer who wants to make a name for himself in the lands and to help those in need.
Sören Ahlgren [208] Something of an exiled prince with nothing to lose but his life
Ka'Wa Jekund [207] A warrior who persists through her collapse.
Elise Seaver [206] Young traveler seeking to leave her mark on the world.
Whisper [202] Talking your way into a grave is easy. Talking your way out, now that's talent.
Musa Grazing Bull [202] Musa's face is impassive until her eyes finish viewing you. Then she blinks and gives you a small smile.

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Setting

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Character Portrait: Mirova
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#, as written by Nulix
“Come in! come in! And let me tell you a story of hope... for I see across your faces bitter pasts. Fear not, my friends, this is not all life has to offer. There is a treasure in these sands. Not of gold or riches but of green grass, fresh water, and wet skies. The Qafar is our home, but it is also our greatest foe. I don't think there is one among you who hasn't seen a friend taken by his wrath... you though you cannot kill the desert, you can change him.”

The walls of the tent creaked and swayed as the sand storm outside picked up speed. A small, robotic creature on wheels moved through the feet of the locals, reaching the entranceway and pulling the fabric closed with a magnetic grip. “How do I know this, I hear you fine people ask?"

The dozen or so villagers inside the tent stared back at the Nomad blankly. A farmer crossed his arms. "We didn't but go on."

The story-teller grinned and pointed up. "I know this because the heavens told me. We nomads follow the stars, they give us knowledge and wisdom." The man speaking could not look less like his audience – his skin was smooth, his black locks soft, and his robes fell off his body in such a way as if they were meant to.

“No doubt you know your walls, your neighbours, your village better than I ever could…. But beyond that how much do you know? The world becomes a map of outsiders and mysteries, for the clans are divided, fractured and apart. But when you look down from the stars the desert is calm, and all of us in it are in one nomad clan.”

From a corner of the tent a woman, Qavi Rova, watched - young, wide-eyed, and with a burnt nose poking out from her heavy hood. And her lips mimicked the story-teller's words line for line.

***

"Let's go! Pack it up!" The story-teller yelled, walking around his caravan as the handful of other nomads hustled to secure their belongs onto the hover-wagon.

"Ow, ok, you-" Rova cursed to herself, attempted to attach the reigns of the wagon to a camel as the sand flew into her face. "Alright," She breathed, tightening a knot before the winds suddenly smashed into her with full force, sending her to the ground.

"Rova, get up," The story-teller hissed, standing over her.

"Mir Fydra, what are we doing?" Rova questioned, looking up to the head of the Naima clan. Fydra raised an eyebrow. "We're trying to beat the sand-storm," He responded, grabbing her roughly and pulling her up. "Come on, girl."

"I mean what are we doing, the village walls are right there!" Rova exclaimed, pointing behind them at the settlement they'd just left. "We shouldn't be out here, Fydra! We should find another city like Yusil. We've been dying in the Sea of Sand and these clans have nothing to give!"

"The Change isn't in the city," Fydra replied. "it's out here."

Rova squinted at the man. "You don't believe that."

Fydra stared at the girl but didn't respond. Instead he raised his hand, pointing out into the dunes. Rova looked where his finger led and spotted a group of three villagers walked out over the shifting sands, toward the mass of brown sand-storm in the distance. She recognized the villagers - all three were in the tent earlier. It seemed Fydra's words had gotten to them. They were going to search for the Change. "It doesn't matter what I believe, Rova," He said. "As long as they do."

***

"It doesn't matter what you believe..." Mirova repeated to herself. "As long as they do."

The leader of the Naima Nomad clan gave a final exhale before pushing the doors of her hotel open. Blinding sunlight poured in, bright coloured booths, stalls, and street performances lining the massive main-road before her. The sounds of laughter, cheering, and music could be heard as a crowd of tourists, animals, robots and villagers from all over navigated the sandy town.

The tenth of June in the year three-nine-three, the first day of the Dol Duna Summer Bizarre. The hooded Mirova gave a tired smile at the great market before her and walked out into the crowds, eager to find her tent and setup. There were travellers from all over the Qafar desert here today, and travellers meant money. Today of all days it was guaranteed everyone would be out and enjoying the festivities…

Setting

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Character Portrait: Whisper
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#, as written by WilPen

Honestly, she didn't know how much more she could take of this. While Whisper was honored by her job, it could feel like a slow drum toward death. The day had hardly begun yet she had already circled Dol Duna twice. If only her targets could all stay together when she needed them to. Things had definitely taken off in the business of secrets, though there was little competition. Getting someone to spill their deepest thoughts is not a popular career choice. It was common knowledge among the clans of Qafar (and even some of the other nations) that Whisper was the fastest and most reliable Secret Keeper. Though no one knows what she truly looks like.

Deciding to take a much needed break, Whisper stretched her legs as she leaned against a wall outside one of the many bars in town. She had just done business, what she called a Telling, with a particularly shady character, but it wasn't her job to judge. She was paid to repeat the secret and then forget it ever happened. Most don't realize purchasing a secret from her often becomes a secret to be sold, for the right price. Said character had attempted to jog her memory of other buyers with extra money on multiple occasions. As of yet, she hadn't given in, it was part of the fun to keep them begging. Also, she wanted to keep her clientele growing, not murdering each other. Sure, sometimes it could be a dangerous game, but her wealth of knowledge was a great use to almost anyone. That's probably the only reason some of the lowlifes let her keep her head.

Her mother didn't approve of her profession, but she had no choice in the matter. Whisper was sure she didn't mind the money that it brought in. Despite her success, Whisper wasn't happy. Being cutoff from the rest of your clan tends to have a negative effect on one's mental health. Had she been allowed home, she'd have settled down with a nice person by now. But that was not her path, not yet. Being 19, this was no time to think of retirement, though that wasn't something to look forward to either.

Whisper shook her head, clearing her thoughts from her mind as she noticed a woman approaching her. By now, she recognized the secretive look of a Telling. She straightened her back and dropped her hand to the handle of her favorite dagger. The sun beat down on her, a drop of sweat sliding down her spine and settling in her pants. Her clothing was made for speed and protection from the sun, not coolness. The woman glanced either way before preceding to whisper her request into Whisper's ear. In addition, the woman shoved nearly twice Whisper's normal charge into the younger girl's hand. Though she usually maintained the same fee for every Telling, people often paid her more than she asked for to ensure their secrecy.

"Do you know what the Huhoo Clan has in store for the Tifau Clan?" The woman had asked, her breath shaky. Whisper considered her question. Yes, she had been privilege to certain knowledge regarding the impending war.

"They mean to assassinate the prince. Or so I've heard." she whispered in reply.

The woman cried out in dispair, drawing a very unnecessary amount of attention to them. When the woman made no move to ask another question, Whisper left her to her grief. Once again, she was off into the unforgiving town of Dol Duna, waiting to find someone or something interesting.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Sören Ahlgren
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"There, all done my boy." Lady Minna Störmalt, one of the wise women of clan Rotgevir said, wiping the blood and a bit of grey-blue grime from the end of a bone needle. "Your runes are complete. My magic, combined with the dust of the crystal from our ancestral homeland, shall weave a protective shroud around you and your spear, young Sören."

Sören was not all that young. He had seen twenty one winters so far, had been traveling out of the Dead Forest for over a year now. But, he supposed that compared to Minna, who looked as if she had seen nearly a hundred winters, he really was just a boy. Maybe that was why he believed that her magic would work, that it was actually magic to begin with.

There was still blood and wet ink on his arms, dripping from the angled runes that ran up both of his arms to his collar bones. He looked her work over and he liked what he saw. Sören could not read the runes, of course. They were of the Lost Language, which the Rotgevir believed to be the language of the old gods, those that were either dead or in a very deep sleep. "How do they work?" He asks. "How do I activate the magic?"

"Simple, my boy." Minna says, wiping away the blood from Sören's arms as she speaks. "All you have to do is focus, think cold thoughts, and remember the name of your clan."

Sören did as the wise woman said, and although it was warm in Minna's small log cabin, he began to see his breath misting the air before him, and could feel the bite of frost at the edges of his new tattoos.

"Careful. You need to let them heal, and even then, careful. If you use the ice runes too long, or too often, you will freeze yourself whole!"

-=-=-

Four years had passed since that day, but as Sören made his way through the sands, Duneyrr close behind him pulling a wagon loaded down with timber and furs, the memory returned to him as clear as if it had happened this morning. He had spoken with Lady Minna the night before he had left for the dessert proper, and she had told him he would never see his home again. Sören knew that if this was true, he would never see the wise woman again, but the feeling he got now in the bit of his stomach said that wouldn't happen anyway.

The Rotgevir have a belief that you will know when those close to you have passed on. And right now, his gut is telling him that Lady Minna has done just that.

"See, I told ya we'd see the horned man again this year!" A voice calls from ahead, from the shadows of Dol Duna. Two men stand together to one side of the main drag, watching as the travelers and merchants enter the city. "How can he stand to wear that cloak? And that thing with him-"

"The stag?" The other man asks, laughing a little. "What, have you never seen one before?"

"No, as a matter of fact I haven't!" The first man says, sounding irritated. "Anyway, how can either of them stand this heat? Aren't they from the Dead Forest? I've heard it's always cold there, like a Qafar night in the winter, only much worse."

The men continue to talk, one of them calls out to Sören, but he ignores them as he walks past. It was true, the Dead Forest was always cold, and if not for his runes, the tattoos which he had since learned carried no magic in them, he would not be able to stand the heat. How Duneyrr could stand it, he had no idea. Maybe the old stag had some real magic inside of him.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Jake "Honō no ko"
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"More beer!" Jake called loudly at the bartender, who smiled and shook his head at Jake's enthusiasm. "Help me wash this pasta of yours down, eh?" He grinned at the sultry girl sitting on his knee, who went by the name of Mystra. Her ample bosom pushed against his chest as she laughed, tracing a finger down his chin.

"Jake, you shouldn't be so loud!" she giggled. "You'll bother the other patrons."

The other patrons, at this time of day, happened to be three dust-covered gentlemen coming in off one of the night shifts in the town. Dol Duna was a small town, but large enough to warrant posted guards to watch for incoming storms and monsters, such as they were. Jake had helped several of the nights this last week, having been bored and restless as he was at times prone to be.

"Ah, they don't mind, right?" Jake called to the three guards. "How's your sister Calun? Still feeling under the weather?"

One of the men shook his head. "No, she's much better after drinking those herbs you suggested."

"Oh, are you a doctor?" Mystra almost cooed, her breath hot on Jake's ear. "I've been looking for someone to give me a fitness test..."

Jake shook his head and laughed, thanking the bartender and slipping the man a few coins as he brought another tankard of the light beer the tavern sold. Another day or two, he thought. Another day or two of this and then he'd set out again.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Tetra Malgore
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Tetra’s eyes were bloodshot, but no tears fell as she watched her grandfather’s body slowly burn to ashes. She had known this was coming for quite some time, but that didn’t make the loss any easier to bear. His final words, whispered to her in the dead of night, still ran through her head.

”As soon as I’m gone, the matriarch will come for you, and you’ll only have two options: Obey… or run.”

Tetra hadn’t believed him at the time, but his prediction seemed to be coming true. With the ashes still cooling, the head matriarch began to slowly hobble her way over. Tetra briefly considered fleeing immediately, but soon realized that would do no good. Her entire “family” had converged upon her, and Tetra was trapped in the middle. She inwardly sighed before bowing lowly to Mishka.

“Is there anything I can do to serve you, Mother?” Mishka smirked slightly before gesturing to someone outside of Tetra’s view. As the person came closer, Tetra recognized the man as the second oldest son of the neighboring family.

“As a matter of fact, my child, there is something you can do for me. Now that your grandfather is done coddling you, it is time to move on to the most important part of your life. That is, growing the family.” Tetra’s blood ran cold, and she warily gave the newcomer a second glance. He was, like, forty years old! Was it already time for her life to be over? Her thoughts continued to run wild until Mishka began speaking again. “Tomorrow, we shall celebrate your happy union!” Happy? With that guy!? Tetra kept her thoughts to herself and merely bowed again.

”Obey… Or run.”
***


Tetra closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and grinned. She was in Dol Duna once again, and the Summer Bazaar was just beginning to open. This was her favorite time of year, and she hadn’t missed it even once since leaving Pissarro. She tried to make at least a little money, but any money she earned from selling goats seemed to go straight from her pocket into another merchant’s hands. There was just so much stuff to look at, and Tetra did love shiny things.

But either way, she’d been selling goats long enough to actually get a stall of her own. It wasn’t anything fancy, just a simple animal pen with a canopy for shade, but it did the job just fine. Her goats never complained at least. And speaking of goats…

Tetra turned around and let out a shrill whistle. All of her goats, who had begun to wander around aimlessly, immediately perked up and ran at her. Tetra smiled and began ushering them through the open gate of their enclosure, giving each of them a couple pats or scratches on the head. The last goat, however, refused to go into the pen and gently butted against Tetra’s hip. She laughed before pulling a flower necklace out of her bag and placing it around the goat’s neck.

“There you go, Trym. I made it just for you.” The younger billy goat bleated smugly before prancing through the gate. Tetra rolled her eyes fondly and shut the opening before any goats could make a daring escape. And now all she could do was wait. Tetra had already marked the animals that were for sale with a purple streak of paint along the sides, and she had some samples of milk, cheese, and meat for anybody to try. She set them up on a conveniently placed crate and rested against a post for the pen, idly scratching behind the ears of any goat that came near.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Musa Grazing Bull
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"Esootka.. Esootka.." Musa whispers in her native tongue while stroking the broad neck of the blistering red Lion-Beast that grunt and pawed the sand beneath them.
The sun had peeled itself off of the rippling horizon only an hour ago but she and her traveling companions were still late. Their departure of Trenn had been held up by last minute goods to trade or sell. And now that small delay had grown immensely, telling by the throngs of tourists, loud beasts and impatient traders slowly filing into the city of Dol Duna. Again the Eirka beneath her shifted on its feet and flexed its jaws against the harness about its maw. Musa stroked the animal's side and turned to take a quick look at her companions, deducting that their own Eirkas were in the same state as her own. The animals didn't mind the enclosed space but it was the larger animals, tossed horns and constant baying that set them on edge. Settling back in her Saddle-Seat, she closed her eyes and gently rubbed the heels of her bare feet against the sides of her mount, listening to the chatter around her and relaxing until they would finally reach the gates.

Once in the city, Musa gave a quick tap of her feet against her ride and led her troop of four, not including herself, to their usual trading spot. Their spot was among other settlements or miniature clans that traded more primitive items or goods native only to their lands. Staying in a group with them always got them a few collectors each year or curious souls who were simply enjoying the Summer Bizarre. Besides this, her sole purpose for coming to the Bizarre this year had no alterior or personal motive. She was simply the head Trader of her clan and was enjoying the change in scenery no matter how familiar it may be. Reaching one hand up from her reins, she fingered one of her long, braided locks of hair and wondered if anything would happen at the Bizarre this year that would be a good enough story to bring home to her people.

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Character Portrait: Uluru
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Pack camels scurried down the streets lining Dol-Duna's market place, the air echoing with the cries of merchants, advertising the quality of their various wares. Crowds of people lined around various stalls, those promising miracle cures and luxurious jewelry proved to be some of the most popular, although the biggest lines tended to wrap around the stands that offered food and drink. A man wrapped in a weather brown cloak, Uluru, found himself in one such line, a large, strange smelling, burlap sack slung across his shoulders as the woman in front of him just completed trading a freshly harvested bundle of corn for a hot plate of steamed vegetables.

As the woman made her way out of the line, Uluru moved stepped forward, hefting the heavy sack over his shoulder with a grunt and placing it gently down the wooden stand. "What've you got for me, boy," the old merchant running the stand, gray sidebruns, sticking out of both sides of his mostly bald head, squinted at Uluru, his nose practically reeling back from the robust odor emanating from the contents in the sack.

"The husk of the antbane raiding your crops," Uluru answered, opening the sack as a reptilian head, sporting compound insect-like eyes rolled out of it, to the shock and mild disgust of the merchant. "Heard you and your wife complaining about it a few hours ago. Thought, I'd earn a little extra food if I took this thing down and brought it's hide in with my others," Uluru explained as the creature's tongue suddenly slid out of it's mouth and onto the table with a grotesque plop.

Uluru sighed heavily and quickly pushed the tongue back in the beheaded beast's mouth and looked towards the merchant, adding, "You might want to hurry and store this. The minute you kill one of these things, they release an odor pungent enough to wilt fresh bloomed desert blossoms within a three meter radius, but salt 'em and store 'em over a couple days and it should be fine."

"Hmm...would make an excellent trophy mounted on my wall, I'll speak to the taxidermist.." them merchant said, looking back up at Uluru. "How much do you want for it?"

"Well, for that..." Uluru began, reaching into the sack and pulling out a large pile of red and black striped fur. "This..." he added before pulling out what appeared to be a pair of wings belonging to a birdlike creature. "And that...I'd like two camel's humps swimming in that peas and cabbage stew," Uluru gave a wry smile.

"I know what this is..." The merchant stated as he handed the antbane's head to his daughter, who attempted to steer her nose away the smell of the beast's head as she hurriedly carried it into the storage room, but to no avail. "And I know what this is," the merchant continued, patting the red pelt. "But these..wings. Never seen a bird with wings like these before...You'll get one hump and the stew for everything else, but you can keep the wings. I don't like trying my hand at cooking strange animals," the merchant offered sternly. "Could be poisonous, look at these green colors along the sides of the feathers..."

"This is ridiculous," Uluru grumbled at the merchant's stubbornness. "They're wings, they're not poisonous, and you're a cook. What's it matter what they're from? You need me to spell it out for you?" Uluru asked, irritably. Noting the merchant didn't seem to take kindly to his words, Uluru sighed and spoke calmly, "Look...I caught this outside the city, last night. Spent two days prior tracking it down to it's nest. Went to find the head of the caravan that hired me to track the damn thing down, and guess what? Caravan was a no show when I got back. I traced their steps and it looks as soon as one of their scouts got confirmation that I'd killed the thing, their leader decided to split without paying me what she owed. So surely it can't be that difficult for you to part ways with a little extra food"

"I'm sorry to hear that and I understand your frustration, but forgive me for not trusting a stranger who insists that I cannot tell the difference between a non-poisonous animal and clearly poisonous one. If you don't like it, then you may try your luck at the bar on the other side of town," the merchant shot back.

"You can take my word on it, then," Uluru insisted. "My time at the University has taught me more than enough about what these sands have to offer."

"What's a university?" the merchant asked angrily, folding his arms and glaring at the cloaked man with immense hatred.

***

Uluru sat propped against the wall of a stone hut, hungrily chowing down on his single camel's hump and vegetable stew, making special note of how it was noticeably less than the portions f the same meal given to the merchant's other patrons. Was good though and as he began watching a trio of street performers perform feats of acrobatic daring, Uluru began to wonder if this town will manage to offer him any new leads in his search or if it'd just end up being another in a long line of dead end.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Bohdana Yātrī
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"Yātrī's niece?" A gruff voice responded. The man glanced skeptically from a wooden table in the middle of the room, with all kinds of goods lining it's surface.

"Yes," Bohdana confirmed, standing in the doorway of their little stone hut awkwardly. She carried with her a small bag full of items her uncle had given her to run errands with, looped over a dark green desert tunic that hung loosely over her body. Her eyes surveyed the middle aged couple before her.

"Ye' I s'pose you look a little like him," the man shrugged, chewing on his cigar with a sort of reserved distrust of the world, "C'mere then, take your pick errand girl."

Boh entered the home stiffly, unsure exactly if that was an invitation inside or not, but when neither the woman or man complained she stepped carefully toward the large wooden table to gaze at the neat piles of various items he was getting ready to sell, "Andle's a smart man," the man huffed, gazing down at Boh over his scruffy, greying beard, "Wonder if you're as smart as 'im, girl?"

"Don't tease her, Larc," the woman chastised, stirring a pot of what smelled like some kind of potato soup. She looked upon Bohdana kindly, in almost a motherly fashion, "I'm sure it's not easy traveling with your uncle, hm? Sure you're glad to be back in a town..."

Bohdana shrugged, averting her eyes back down to the wares lay out before her. Mostly food items; dried fruits and vegetables, cans of homemade soups obviously prepared by Larc's wife, creature bait, water canteens, biscuits, jerky and other things of the like. She picked up a few things, realizing she was under the watchful eye of Larc who scrutinized everything she added to the growing pile before her. A few times she put things down, deciding on another, better looking item of the same due to doubt the gruff man slowly fed to her with his occasional grunts at her choices. Her uncle was good at this, she thought gingerly, sliding one last packet of dried nuts toward her pile on the table.

"Hm," Larc blew out one last puff of bitter smelling smoke right into Boh's face and stood, scraping the wooden chair along the stone floor, "Not bad. Ye'uncle taught you well." She shrugged again as he counted up the items and handed them back to her, allowing her to pack them in her bag quickly.

He coughed, "7 Taqa crystals then. I don't s'pose Andle has stopped trading in those, has he?" Boh shook her head and reached into a pouch attached to her belt, beginning to pull out small, glistening crystals from inside when Larc grunted, "Make it 5. Your uncle has always been loyal t'us, even if he does get the best pick of the bunch every year before Summer selling."

"Are you sure?" Boh asked, still half pulling out a 6th crystal from her pouch. He gave a brisk nod and she gently placed it back, clicking the clasp in place and handing Larc the 5 Taqa's. She nodded in thanks, turning to leave them in peace before his wife stopped her, "Wait! You're only young, aren't you?"

"Mag, let the girl be," Larc shook his head, settling back down in his chair and continuing to organize stock.

"No, here, I have a gift," Mag reached into a clay pot, pulling out a few small, brown coloured squares and wrapping them up in a cloth for Bohdana. Boh stared down at the little parcel blankly until the woman explained, "They're sweets. To keep you going."

Bohdana blinked, "Are you sure?"

"Nomad kids don't get many treats, let that be my gift to you," Mag smiled. The girl nodded her thanks once more and made her way out of the small hut on the outskirts of Dol-Duna. Boh blinked the sun and dust away, allowing the hum of noise and excitement consume her back into the growing crowds currently preparing for the Summer Bazaar.

She quickly placed one of the brown candies onto her tongue and shoved the rest in her already filled bag, enjoying the taste of sugary toffee flooding her taste buds. People pushed around her as she entered the thick of the town, already starting to set up stalls selling all kinds of goods. Boh passed a particular stall selling goats and goat goods, though what caught her eye particularly was the goats cheese. It had been so long since they had eaten such a luxury and reminded her that she hadn't eaten yet today, "Perhaps I should ask uncle..." the girl muttered to herself, sucking the sweet in a sort of composed excitement.

The Summer Festival was one of her favorite events of the year, and it had already begun.

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Character Portrait: Xaverius Rusten
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The metal panel of an old world machine was pulled away as a somewhat stocky figure peered inside, looking for anything either valuable or useful, their blue eyes covered by a pair of goggles scanning over the rusted components. The dug inside, pulling out a small piece of circuitry. "Hmmm... might be worth somethin'." Xaverius muttered, putting the small green part into his backpack. He left the machine open in case another scavenger were to come along so they could find anything he may have missed. He hauled himself to his feet, his age combined with his build didn't give him the easiest time when kneeling down to look for parts, but he managed. He wiped a bit of sand from his goggles and adjusted the green bandanna he used to protect his mouth. He then looked about, seeing where he should go next. He saw what looked like a town in the distance, with what little items he had found on his latest scavenge, he made his way to the village. On the way, he pulled out a flask he used to keep water, taking a small sip, he noted from the weight of the flask that he would have to refill it once he got into town.

Upon arriving at the village, he looked for the nearest trader to show off what he had found, upon finding one, he browsed their goods, eyeing a roll of duct tape. "Heyo, could I trade this here piece 'o tech for that there roll of adhesive?" Xaverius asked the trader, holding our the small circuit he found. "Hmmmm..." the trader studied the green card, making notes on the quality and the state of all the parts. "Sure thing." the trader said, offering the roll to Xaverius, who took the tape with a hearty "Thanks!". His main reason for his choice was for his weapon, a lead pipe with a saw blade taped to the end, since he tape holding the saw blade on kept wearing out, he had to find more tape to keep the blade on, though even without the saw blade his build made his weapon still something to watch out for. After stashing the tape, he wandered into a nearby bar, where he pulled up a chair by the bartender and looked about, he'd probably stay here for about a week until moving on, unless things changed.

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Character Portrait: Elise Seaver
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"How many times do I have to tell you, Elise, you can't be up here!" The young guard sighed and shook his head, "Honestly, you're lucky I don't take you in...I mean if one of the other guards were to find you they may think you were up to something! This is the Summer Festival you know!"

"I know, I know," she began, laughter in her voice, "It's just calming to look out over the desert from the top of the wall, and this spot has the best view." She dropped to the ground and wiped the beads of sweat from her forehead before tucking a few loose strands of hair behind her ear. "I'm sorry to be so much trouble, Valik. I'm not much of a fan of crowds and well," she gestured to the groups of people heading into the city, all there for the festivities.

Valik shrugged, "Why not go on one of those adventures you're always talking about? I mean you keep staring off into the desert, why not listen to those thoughts? See what happens to be in that direction?"

She smiled, "Maybe you're right. I mean it's been two and a half years, maybe I could use a change of scenery." She rocked her head from side to side, mulling over the thought. She thought about what she would lose, and quickly decided it was a lot less than she could gain.

The past two and a half years in Dol-Duna had been good to her, but it never felt like home. It was never meant to be. She had thought about leaving a year ago, but couldn't justify it. Nothing had really changed since then, but a sense of longing had begun eating away at her, pulling her back out into the desert. She could feel that by leaving she had a chance to find her purpose.

"Well, whatever you chose, good luck, Elise....and if you chose to stay, please stay off the wall!" Valik chuckled and headed back to his patrol. "Thank you!" She called after him.


She made her way home, taking as many shady back roads as she could to better avoid the throngs of people lining the streets. Once there she took stock of what she owned. "Well, it's not much, thankfully." She started sorting out her bag and traveling items. She only carried the basics, a canteen, Taqua crystals, a cloak, and her twin daggers. The items were all worn, her life had been in motion since the day she'd left home. Before Dol-Duna she'd lived in a city constructed from the remains of an Old World War Ship the inhabitants had come to call, Siliko. Many there had belonged to the Panistino Clan. Many asked her to stay and join their clan, but she knew that Siliko wasn't her destiny. However, it had been quiet and interesting enough to hold her five years, three of which were continuous. The other two years she had made trips back to her mothers for a few months at a time. She smiled remembering the people there.

"Looks like I should head into the Bazzar and get a few things," she mumbled shaking her head at the irony.

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Character Portrait: Mirova Character Portrait: Jake "Honō no ko" Character Portrait: Xaverius Rusten
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#, as written by Nulix
Smacow's and traders and travellers and tourists moved through the streets chaotically, weapons dangling off half of them - it was Qafar after all. Mirova fit in, her beige, dusty-cloak covering her head to toe, thick gloves and boots bunching out at the ends, and a gold-glittered veil coming down over the opening of the hood. Coins and materials from different clan's were being traded at the entrance to each stall Mirova passed, each trying to barter an equal value of goods in return. As she continued down the main-road the tents and stands got grander, stages and shows and fire-bursting out of machines on display as salesmen and women pitched the audience grandly.

Through the darkness of her hood Mirova's eyes lit up as an engine on a pedestal blasted out electrical bolts across a wooden stage, the seller laughing as the audience gasped. Stolen Wetlander technology, the trader boasted. Very advanced.

"Alright," Mirova murmured, glancing down at the market map she had in hand. The Dol clan was good at organizing these things, very orderly this chaos. "My tent should be-" Mirova turned a corner to reveal an alleyway, poisonous rats feasting on what may at one stage have been a corpse. Rocks and rubble polluted the path, and darkness consumed the alleyway ground toward her decorated, red and gold nomad's tent at the end.

"Oh sweet, I love being in a murder alley," Mirova commented as she made her way down the dark alley to set up her tent. Not the best spot in the village to attract customers, but it didn't matter. At the end of the day, once people had spent their money and were looking for a bit of hope, that's when they visited a Nomad's tent.

"Naima name still good for something," Mirova muttered as she entered the silk entrance-way, readying to setup.

***

"One drink please," A voice said from down the bar of Jake. A long-faced man with thinning, grey hairs glanced over at the cowboy-samurai and the woman on his lap before turning nervously to the barkeep.

"It's your favourite: beer," The barkeeper muttered, sliding the musky mug toward the man. He glanced a small Taqa crystal on the counter, the barkeeper glancing down at the item before nodding. It was a fair trade.

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Character Portrait: Musa Grazing Bull Character Portrait: Avari
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Death.

Even if death wasn't on his mind, the pale rider was surely creeping upon him with the sun gleaming in his scythe and the lost echoes of the underworld festering in his breath. Nerves were shot from exhaustion, dehydration crushed his dusty throat - the old man's faltering vision wavered and faded further with each blink. The searing sands beneath him scorched his flesh and burned away his willpower, but on the horizon, a lone shadow emerged from behind the dunes. With what little strength remained, he pulled himself up with trembling arms, the sandy winds biting into his face as he squinted forward into the distance. Before he knew it, the strange figure was upon him, dangerously close. He knew, then, that death had arrived-

The cloaked figure knelt down and drew back her hood to reveal frayed black bangs and glimmering eyes of gold that at this moment, seemed richer to him than any worldly treasure. As her hand waved slowly in his face, she gazed with a curious expression, one with definite hints of concern. The older man's eyes followed the motion in a hypnotic, deluded trance before he violently shook himself awake from his stupor. Gesturing to his throat, his dry lips parted as he spoke his first words since last week.

". . . Food." The word was hoarse and cracked, he suddenly wondered if she had even understood.

The words seemed to register and the girl slowly nodded, reaching into her mantle before producing a piece of bread and pressing it into his shriveled hand. With a weak word of thanks, he blinked again and the girl in front of him disappeared, replaced by an abrupt migraine. Taking careful breaths, the man looked up to see that the girl was already on her way, nearly out of sight. His eyes fell downwards, and of course, the bread was still there. Smiling to himself at his first sign of fortune in a long time, he slowly raised the food to his parched mouth when suddenly, a shrill squawk rang out above him. Turning wildly, he had no time to react as a blinding cluster of feathers swooped down and snatched the bread from his hand, leaving bloody talon marks on his palm. Stunned, he glared into the sun as the winged bandit made off above him. Curling his hand into a fist, he mustered all of his strength, all of his rage and despair into a single roar that embodied the proof that he was indeed alive on this desolate world:

"GODDAMN BIRDS!"

- - -

A small crowd was gathering. A crowd was gathering, yet it was silent - from the rear, a child tugged on his mother's hand as he squeezed his way toward the front, the adults towering above him making it impossible to see what was happening. A stick of meatballs gripped in between his sweaty fingers, the sunlight flashed again through the canopy of heads and an open ring appeared in front of him. In the center, a young woman lightly robed in brilliant cobalt raiments stood with her head down and her hands folded over one another at her waist. Her eyes slowly opened - a rich gold - and a smile that shone like no other graced her expression. In the back under the shade of a store's leather awning sat a bored looking man with a mandolin in his lap, strumming lazily. He wasn't looking at anything in particular.

The dance began slowly.

Avari made a deliberate sweeping motion with her arms, lowering her center of gravity. Many fluid, wide motions - one could swear that the wind was picking up at her feet. The motions picked up, faster and faster as her shawl encircled her like a pair of twin serpents chasing their tails. Then everything slammed downwards, a cloud of dust billowing from the earth, but only for a second. The cloud dispersed into a soft ring before shifting inwards and spinning around her, tracing the flow of her scarf. As though it were alive, the sand beneath her coalesced and leaped into the air with each twirl and pirouette - the earthen sashes bolted to and fro with her hands, the arcs of her feet, and with a blindingly quick flurry of crosses and spins, the sand collapsed to the floor in a nova of dust that drifted outwards, dissipating by the time it brushed against the ankles of the audience.

Briefly wiping the sweat from her brow, she gave a small bow and another bright smile.

After what seemed like an eternity of silence, most people parted from the audience with soft murmurs and shrugs. Tough crowd. . . Ava thought nervously as she straightened her back and dusted off her clothes. She turned around. "Hey, thanks for-" The man playing the mandolin was gone, the instrument resting against the shop wall. "Ah. . ." There was a small tug at the hem of her skirt and the girl spun around to face a small child and his elderly mother. The boy handed off his half-eaten snack to her and returned the smile.

"We loved your performance," the woman said with a nod, rustling her son's hair. "I'm sorry that I don't have anything to give you, but I hope you're not deterred by the others here. I know you'll find your place if you keep at it." With that, she gave a light pat to the boy and ushered him over. "Come on, I'll get you another treat." As they went on their way, Ava quickly surveyed her afternoon meal and took a hefty bite.

It didn't taste very good.

I'm sure Musa is doing a better job of making ends meet, the girl meekly assured herself, scratching her head. Where does she set up shop, anyway? Doesn't help that it's my first time here. . . Tossing her bag over her shoulder, she shielded her eyes with one hand and navigated the sandy streets of peddlers and con artists.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Bohdana Yātrī Character Portrait: Uluru Character Portrait: Elise Seaver Character Portrait: Musa Grazing Bull Character Portrait: Whisper Character Portrait: Tetra Malgore
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A tired looking man was passing through Dol-Duna's streets, lugging a cart carrying a stack of around twelve cages, each covered by a small cloth and rattling violently with the occasional puff of smoke flowing from their veiled bars. Every now and then one would catch a glimpse of slit yellow eyes peering out at the sights of Dol-Duna from their covered cages. As the man dragging the cart wiped the sweat from his brow, a cacophony of shrieks began emanating from the cages as their violent rattling began to intensify. "Please stop, you're making a scene, er..." the man paused, biting his nails as he tried to calm the temper of whatever creatures the cages were hiding.

"Look, will you behave if I feed you?" the weary man asked, to which the creatures in the cages seemed to respond with ceasing their agitated screeching. "Okay...okay," the man sighed, reaching into his belt and drawing out a small bag that was tied to his waist. He then reached into the small bag and drew out the leg of what appeared to be some kind of poultry and began to push it into the cage stacked at the top. But no sooner than when he pulled the cloth covering that cage apart, was he met with the sight of an orange wad of spittle flying straight at his eyes. The man stumbled back as he wildly wiped the orange spit from his eye. "Ugh you know I hate when you all do this!" the man mumbled as he attempted to grab a cloth from his pocket to dab the blinding substance away from his eyes.

As the man stumbled about, a small, slimy red claw reached through the bars and snatched a pair of keys from his wait. "Wait..." the man began. "Wait, what was that? What was-," he paused as three, toddler-sized red amphibians, standing up on their hind legs and screeching vilely. They had yellow, slitted eyes, and two constantly twitching red fins in place of ears. They began to use their dexterous fingers to use the keys and unlock the rest of the cages. "No, now stay put...please! I'll buy ya chicken, or, I'll-," the red amphibians all hopped out , bum rushing the sod and knocking him over into the sand-laden roads below. "Watch out! Salamands loose! Salamands loose!"

It turned out that, in a few moments time, the townsfolk wouldn't need the shuts to be rid of the nuisances...they made their presence known soon enough. Eating food, guzzling drinks and seemingly intentionally smashing anything that remotely resembled something of value. When confronted by any merchants and bodyguards who had gotten a bit brave, the beasts used their uncanny ability to heat up their skin to drive them off and continue their mischief throughout the town.

Uluru had long since finished what remained of his food, and threw his bowl in the local compost heap. He decided, having nothing better to do at the moment, to take a stroll through Dol-Duna and better familiarize himself with the town during his stay here. He looked around, hands behind his back, noting how odd it was that the merchants had begun to pack up so early and in a hurry as if protecting their wares. "What the hell has gotten them so spooked...?" Uluru wondered aloud. "Bandits, maybe?" He soon got his answer and it wasn't quite something as dangerous as a bandit, but twice as irritating. A red reptilian beast began repeatedly ramming it's head into the wooden stall of a nearby fruit stand, continuing it's stupid rampage until a bushel of fruit on the stand fell over, sending piles of oranges began to smash into it's spine.

"Salamands? Come on, Dol-Duna..." Uluru chuckled, in a resigned bemusement. Salamands were humanoids of some meager intelligence, often captured by dimwitted people to use as a source of cheap labor. Sometimes this can turn out quite well, provided they are paid for in meals, but treat them like animals...and they tended to become dangerously crafty, yet still bafflingly stupid creatures. "Judging from the screams, there's a lot of 'em too..." Uluru noted, punching into his opposite hand. "Didn't intend to work anymore today...but at least this'll give me something to do..."

The creatures began to spread all over the bazaar, assaulting anything they could get their grubby little paws on. A few had set upon a trading booth just being set up by a members of Lakuli Clan. Another approached a young girl, in an attempt to snatch the sweet treats she was currently snacking on.

Several more appeared to nearby a woman sporting a hood and a cap, while a herd of Salamands descended upon a trio of stalls, selling livestock, taking particular interest in the ducks and goats.

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Character Portrait: Bohdana Yātrī
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"Woah! Hey!!" Bohdana cried out, being rudely assaulted by a weird red creature, "Bloody Salamands! Get your stupid--"

The Salamand screeched at her violently and headbutted her onto the dusty floor, using its claws to lock around her bag of newly purchased goods and attempting to pull it from her grasp. Boh pulled back, trying to kick the stupid creature away but it was stronger than she expected. The child-assaulting Salamand yanked her pack from her grasp by breaking the handle and began to empty it's contents onto the dirt before them while Bohdana looked on in horror. All of the items she had just traded for went sprawling everywhere as the creature stomped on packages and other various goods, though not for long, as Boh had finally gathered her senses and got on her feet using the distraction to kick the Salamand angrily.

"Stupid--Get! Out! Of! It!" Bohdana screamed at it.

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Character Portrait: Aisha 'Ai' Abdul'la
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"The Change is upon us! Just heed my word!" Such a bold claim seemed to be lost somewhere between a debate about the worth of a dusty carpet and the squawking of exotic bird creatures, allegedly "baby cockatrices". Although the acolyte Aisha Abdul'la was aware that at such a great congregation of merchants would allow many from far and wide to come together and trade not only goods, but ideas, Aisha didn't make the connection that with all those people, there would be a lot of noise.

Aisha had thought that if she set up her little stand in the most populace area of the market, she could spread the principles of the Samariamian creed to the greatest amount of people. There she stood atop a box of wood, a sign in front of it in bold writing; The Change is Within You. Although that might have made her just a little bit taller, it, by no means, made her the biggest presence. Many seemed more preoccupied with bartering and peddling their wares. Sure, the merchants she traveled into town with, those of her clan, had warned her that people may not be so receptive to the 'ravings of a fanatic' while there's goods to be traded, but Aisha was undeterred, and remained undeterred.

After all, it's not the first time Aisha's preached before an uninterested crowd. You didn't attract the unthoughtful with theology, you attracted them with mysticism and bold statements. Aisha always seemed to get at least a few heads to turn with, 'The Change is upon us!' It was always important to create a sense of urgency, to create a sense of unease that made people more interested in what you were talking about, before you eased their troubled thoughts.

"Follow the principles of self-improvement and the metamorphosis of the soul, and I guarantee that even a life of eternal perdition will turn into paradise!"

Appearance was important as well. Aisha was wearing a bit more jewelry than she usually did, including a shiny golden necklace that hung from her neck and was highly visible over top her clothes. Aisha had borrowed it from her kin for the sake of this event. It gave her an air of importance, and it also sent a message; 'Self-improvement will make you rich'. As those she traveled wish told her, "All merchants follow the wealthy."

A few heads were looking her way now. Not the occupied merchants, of course, but some curious fellows who weren't hugely busy, and were probably looking for entertainment, decided to give an ear. It would likely be very difficult to hold their attention for long, but, as long as even one person becomes inspired, Aisha would consider her duty here a success.

"The clans of the desert have been guided along by superstition for far too long! We have all become drunk upon the promise of false hopes! That somewhere in the sands is the key to our salvation! But we have grown far from that original goal now, for we are living on the brink of a golden age! Look around you! Can you not see that we are already prospering? Haven't the spirits already been kind to us? Perhaps they have been generous, but it is us who have made use of nature's bounty to it's absolute fullest! You see, it is no longer necessary for us to loose more men to the sands!" Tell people what they want to hear. Have them saying 'yes, yes' and they'll be more likely to agree with anything you say.

"But—" Aisha had to catch her breath. She was really getting into it. Your faith becomes strongest when you scream it out loud and you don't care about who hears it, and goodness, does it ever fill you with a rush. "But it is not enough! For there is still strife in the world, and the clans remain divided! And while there is strife and inequality, there will continue to be suffering! But there is a way, a way in which we all can obtain eternal happiness!" She told them the real issues at stake. Now here comes the punchline, the clincher.

"And that, is through the path of self-metamorphosis! It is through the betterment of the self and the strengthening of the community! By following our creed, the Samariamus Creed, we may become better people, and create a better world ourselves! You see, the Change is not out there in the sands! It is within us, within us all! We must strive to accomplish with within all men! No soul, no matter how lost they may be, is incapable of accessing their inner Change! If we all follow this path, we can accomplish a new Utopia! For Utopia is not a place, but a people!"

Aisha was surprised that her voice wasn't cracking at this point. Surely, she would have gotten her point across. It was the same monologue she's used dozens of times before, but it never seemed to loose its power, despite it's formulaic nature. Still, although she managed to attract somewhat of an audience through the speech, they weren't paying as much attention to her. There appeared to be a big commotion, people yelling out and talking all at once. It seemed as if there was some sort of trouble brewing.

"What ills you?" Aisha called out. Then, at once, there was a great big yelling out as people seemed to split and make a clearing. One man was kicking at something, before backing off. There was a small creature hissing wildly, a Salamand, although Aisha didn't recognize the creature by name. It was carrying what appeared to be an expensive vase under its arm, seeming rather keen on keeping it. A man at the back of the crowd was shouting out, calling for the creature to give his vase back. Another person called out, "Somebody kill it!"

"Hold!" Aisha declared, raising her hand. Very gently, she got down from her pedestal and approached the creature, not trying to be threatening. It looked like it wanted to escape, but there were people everywhere. It hissed, and Aisha stopped and hushed it. Then, Aisha crouched before it and spoke gently, extending a hand, "Little one, if you would be so kind, please allow me to return that of which you hold back to it's proper owner. You will be rewarded graciously."

Now, that would have been pointless if the Salamand didn't understand what she said, but yet, the Salamand appeared to hesitate. Then, as if it was jinxed, it slowly approached Aisha, making low guttural noises, seeming somewhat wary. The crowd around them watched in awe, muttering to each other. It stopped right in front of her, holding the vase in front of it and staring up at her with those bulging yellow eyes. Aisha smiled.

Then, without warning, it dropped the vase on the ground and pounced at Aisha, clawing at the golden necklace around her neck. Aisha yelped and struggled, but, the creature's grubby little hands would just not let go. Pulling with all its weight, the slimy creature yanked the expensive necklace off of her neck, damaging it a little in the process. The Salamand then proceeded to dart of, cackling wildly, disappearing into the crowd.

Aisha called out, "Wait!" She got up onto her feet and began to push through the crowd, trying to find the little thief and her golden necklace. "Halt! Desist! Return that at once!"

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Character Portrait: Aisha 'Ai' Abdul'la Character Portrait: Sören Ahlgren
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Sören was used to the crowds of Dol-Duna, not that he liked them, and he was also used to the stares that he received. That was one of the reasons he insisted on wearing his horned helm and his cloak in public. Yes, it attracted attention, but it also inspired awe, sometimes even fear, and that was usually all he needed in order to make the crowds part before him and Duneyrr.

The wagon, loaded down with timber and skins, would soon be parked at the edge of one of the more popular areas in the village. Sören was a regular, but he never carried enough goods to permit an actual stall space, and so he simply parked his wagon, sold what few goods he had, then moved it. This usually took only a day or two, so he and Duneyrr had time to enjoy the rest of the festival. It was so different than the celebrations back in the Dead Forest, and there were people from all over, places Sören was sure he would never see. For now, all the northman got were a few glances, as he still had to navigate his way to his parking space.

"Looks a bit like a demon, don't he?" Someone said, their thick accent one Sören had never heard. "Bet it's all for show though. He's probably skinny as a starved sand worm under that get up, ya?"

"I don't know." Another voice, this one sounded younger, worried. "Maybe we should pick someone else."

"Why? Look at that wagon, and that horse! This guy has to have somethin' valuable!" The first man said.

"Duneyrr is not a horse." Sören replied in a low voice, like a rumble of thunder. He had spotted the two men by then, hiding in the shadows between two buildings. Their intentions were obvious, and Sören had come across such men before. Sometimes people come to big events like this, with little to their name, and pick of the weaker looking merchants. They murder them, hide their bodies away, then claim their wares as their own. "I suggest you listen to your young friend, and find another mark."

With his words, Sören turned to look down at the men. In the dark of his cloak, as he activated the runes on his arms, the soft blue glow caused his eyes to glow slightly as well. Once look at this and the two men exchanged a look, cursed Sören for a real demon, and fled hastily from the scene.

"Cowards." Sören mutters. Duneyrr noses his elbow and the northman sighs. "I know. There's no need for violence, not here of all places. Come on then, we're not far from-"

Sören had begun to walk as he spoke, but he stops again when something hits his lower leg. Looking down he finds a pair of stilted yellow-orange eyes staring back at him from a small red frame. Whatever this creature was, Sören had never seen one before. He didn't like it. Whatever it was, it held a gold necklace in it's grubby, clawed hands. For a moment the creature began to hiss at him, but Sören let his eyes glow again and the creature froze up completely, unable to do anything more than stare at him. A woman was shouting somewhere in the direction from which the creature had come. Reaching down, Sören holds his hand palm up, and after a moment's hesitation, the creature places the necklace in his hand, then turns and bolts, running down the street and into the alleyway where the two men had tried to threaten him moments ago.

"I've always hated gold." Sören says, straightening up, holding the necklace out as a woman approaches, looking frantic and out of breath. "Is this yours?"

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Character Portrait: Ka'Wa Jekund
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She could feel it still stirring within her, just a feeling, but one that stirred her soul and mind. The body had long forsaken her and the mind attacked relentlessly as it saw endless opportunity to do so. Even her soul, that shining light, was but a mere flicker dancing with the wind until it grew weary and went out.

What to call that feeling though?

Licking her cracked lips, the armor she wore creaked as she moved her head across the sand. Heat burst forth and tickled her ear, her nose, and finally settled upon the other side of her face as she placed it upon the cooling sand. The sun was bright. Bright, annoyingly so, but she looked upon it for a few seconds before shutting her eyes once more. The outline of what she saw still lingered behind her eyelids, purple and green among bursting red.

It lingered like the feeling.

The feeling was not contentment for it urged her to get up from where she lay. It was not satisfaction because it said that there was much ground to cover. It was not joy because the end was not something it was ready to greet just yet.

It was restlessness, it was relentless, and it was her last bit of humanity.


"Thank you very much sir, have a good day!" Ka'Wa said as the customer took the sweetened fruit in his hand and walked away. Her smile, bright and wide, remained on her face as she saw more customers were coming. Dekavi beside her, the shop owner, told her to get some more of the Summer Bizarre special treats from crates in the back of the stall. Ka'Wa nodded and headed to the back, her smile lingering but quite so wide or bright as she had worn it previously. Her hands reached into the crates, pushing aside some of the regular apples and such to get to the decorated items they had brought.

It was nice to get out of the established shop once in a while and the Summer Bizarre was one of the few times of the year she could do so. Instead of their regular stream of customers, there were sporadic amounts and she wasn't so pressed to look busy. Instead, she could relax and take her time except when a rush came. Considering their stall was in the middle of it all, rushes did come but she worked fast and Dekavi had another boy who worked as well, the boy off getting something for them to eat. Ka'Wa sighed. She was thankful the owner decided to pay for her meal, not having to come up with an excuse as to why she wasn't hungry when her stomach gnawed at her.

Ka'Wa frowned but when she presented herself to the Bizarre once more, the smile had returned. There were customers waiting after all.

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Character Portrait: Musa Grazing Bull
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Musa was under a large, pitched tent that modeled the colors of the Lakuli people, her arms folded and her stance wide. Her eyes were in a slight squint, as if she were thinking about something, and her golden eyes were narrowed. "Chata." She jerked her chin to the left.

Two members of her group who were lifting a large vase shuffled in the direction she motioned to and placed the pottery down while their golden eyes looked to her for approval.

Musa gave a small nod and placed her hands on her hips. A ray of sun that shown through the gaps in their tent caught the shape of her arm, illuminating a single line of one of her scarlet tattoos and made the ebony colored enamel on the horn of the water buffalo skull she wore, shine brilliantly. Her hand reaches up to twirl one of her braids. "This is good. I feel we will make much in Taqa crystals and other wares this year.. San, check on th-" her sentence caught in her throat as she watched 3 little fat red devils rush into her field of view and set to work causing chaos in their tent.

"They are ill-minded! Protect the goods!!" a woman from her group wailed as she grabbed a nearby stick and jabbed it at two of the imps to try and drive them away. Musa shook herself out of her surprised state and kicked one of them in the side on reflex as it dove for something round and shiny. "My staff! Retrieve it!" She demanded as she quickly subdued the fat thing by forcibly nudging it onto its back and pressing her foot down on top of it. Her eyebrows rose as its third attempt at freedom nearly knocked her off balance. What are these little beasts?

In the backround, the 5 Eirka pulled at the harnesses that kept them firmly bound to a pole while snuffing the air and scratching the ground. One of them attempted to start a real frenzy by letting off a short, rough and guttural sound that was like it was saying Ruck. Ruck.

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Character Portrait: Uluru Character Portrait: Whisper
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#, as written by WilPen

When Whisper wanted to find something interesting, she definitely hadn't meant an advancing pack of Salamands to be the answer. She'd been hoping more along the lines of a nice murder or something. Overall, she just didn't want it to possibly lead to her death.

To be honest, Whisper wasn't well versed in combat with these... people? She wasn't quite sure what to call them. Her only experience with the beings was witnessing their labor. No matter how tame they usually seemed to be, their claws were waving menacingly and she wasn't taking any chances.

So, Whisper did what she did best. Run. Out numbered, there was no way she'd be able to take them on with her daggers. A quick glance around showed more of them in the area keeping nearly everyone else busy. Except one man, he was large, dark, and seemed entirely way too calm. In the true spirit of survival, she lead her pursuers right to him.

"Want to tag team?" She called over the shrieks of the crowd. Truly, it didn't matter if he didn't, the beasts were coming either way.

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Character Portrait: Mirova Character Portrait: Jake "Honō no ko" Character Portrait: Xaverius Rusten
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"Bartender, one beer and a refill on my flask please." Xaverius told the bartender, placing his flask on the counter. While he waited for his drink, he looked around at the other patrons, giving his stubble a small rub. "So, how's everyone doin'?" He asked, not sure if any of them would respond, but trying to start some sort of civil conversation would be pleasant.

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Character Portrait: Mirova Character Portrait: Jake "Honō no ko" Character Portrait: Thessir Character Portrait: Xaverius Rusten
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#, as written by Zalgo
The winds howled at the walls of his tent, sand sweeping over endlessly. Thessir's day was restless as he struggled to sleep through the constant noise. Life was hard and he was used to hard but losing sleep never made life any easier. Such was the cost of knowledge worth seeking however. There was little choice in comfort when he desired to find evidence with which to find the builders of old.

Struggling to his feet as he knew he wasn't going to get any decent sleep while the sand continued to blow he opened up his watch to check the time. The time read four, at least several marks before the greater mark of five which was when the sun would touch down on the horizon. He growled, bothered by the fact that he would have to trudge out in this awful light for some hours before the darkness would set. He closed his watch and put it away as he got dressed.


Clad in his full garb he packed away his things and opened the front flap of the tent only for sand to start pouring in. He shouted profanities in his native tongue which to the uninformed outsider would probably sound like a series of growls, hisses and clicks. Stepping outside after a long days rest only to find his tent was halfway to being buried in the sweeping sands was not a pleasant way to begin an evening. With the wind at his back he took down his tent and unearthed it from the sand while making an effort to not leave sand inside the tent. He didn't want to have to carry more weight in sand given he already had enough things he had to haul by backpack.

With everything secured to his back he marched on forward, his boots sinking into the sand a little with each step forward. He took care to make sure he was covered from the sun as the heat beat down on him. While his clothes were comfortable it was still so warm it was nearly intolerable. Worse yet for him was the sunlight itself. He couldn't leave a single scrap of skin left uncovered or it would blister from sunburns in a mere matter of minutes. Everything was just so bright right then too. Even with a hat he needed to shield his eyes from the light reflected off the long fields of sand.


His extended walk into the morning had paid off however as now despite his lack of rest he was close to the city of Dol-Duna. It was within he was sure he could find respite from the wages of the desert. Through the gate he entered the town and filtered into the crowds of people, most of them being travelers in their own right whether they be merchants, journeymen or otherwise. The people were of little concern for him right now though. His eyes looked past the curios and food items, searching for an establishment with a roof he could put between him and the accursed sun.

He never really had much trust for crowds but what really put him off were the beasts. Creatures of many sorts walked shoulder to shoulder with people all around. He never had any sort of fondness for animals, especially those which walked the surface. Given how life was like in the Downder most animals were either eaten or trying to eat him. Even though his people kept animals for things like milk and silk they were nothing like the creatures of the outer lands. He never much cared for animals and the added strangeness of these beasts only soured their appeal to him even more.


Mincing his way through the crowd he scurried through the door of what appeared to be a tavern. Out of the sun he gave a sigh of relief, his eyes still hurting from the exposure. Awkwardly he made his way over to the bar before settling down on a stool.

"Care for a drink?" The bartender greeted him as he would most other patrons. "Just a glass of water." Thessir answered back, not even looking up from the bar when he addressed the man. He was already fishing about his many pockets as the bartender poured him a cup of water. As the cup was set before him he took out a small taqa crystal and placed it on the bar. Naturally the bartender took it as payment for the water. After all, water wasn't free, not out in the desert.


Thessir's eyes scanned the room as he drained his cup. There were a couple other patrons, most notably a person dressed for travel who seemed to be living it up. He tried to pay the others little mind as he produced a strange crystal roughly the size of a chicken's egg. It was a deep dark blue color, similar to a sapphire only darker. From another pocket he held up to his eye what appeared to be some strange form of jeweler's loupe. It was of a construction well foreign to surface-dwelling clans since he made it himself.

"So, how's everyone doin'?" The other man in the hat asked, seeming to be addressing them in general. Now Thessir wasn't very familiar with social conventions when it came to outlanders which was basically everyone at this point for him. He wasn't sure if the question was supposed to be answered or if it was simply rhetorical. He also couldn't really decipher just what it was he was asking. Just to be safe he decided to answer. After all, it wasn't like he was going to out himself as anymore of a foreigner than he already appeared to be.


"I am doing it very well. I do good work." He replied to the vocal man's query. In talking his accent was quite thick making his already flawed understanding of terms sound even further out of place. The origin of his accent however could not be placed.

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Character Portrait: Jake "Honō no ko" Character Portrait: Thessir Character Portrait: Xaverius Rusten
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"Heh, nice to hear, I just got back from doin' some scavenging, found some sweet piece of old tech I traded in for some more adhesive." Xaverius replied, he had a somewhat gruff voice as he spoke. He then proceeded to take his drink and take a swig. "Ahh, nothin' beats a good ol' beer, ey?" He chuckled, setting his beer back down on the counter.

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Character Portrait: Bohdana Yātrī Character Portrait: Avari
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"Oh no, no, no. . ."

The city guard pulled his hood over his head and snatched his sword, fastening the sheath to his belt. The mask fitted messily over his face and the gloves came on just as hastily. "On the first day of the summer bazaar! Of course!" Viitor grumbled behind his mask. He was already beginning to feel the sweat pouring, but if you wanted to be a guard, you had to put on the uniform. He scrambled to the scene of the chaos, finding vendors already packing up to relocate to a space away from these tiny reptilian terrors. Brandishing his weapon proudly, he called out to the invading pests: "Alright, you little cold-blooded rats, c'mere-AHHHHH!"

One of the bigger salamands had latched onto his ankle with tooth and nail, digging deeper with each jerk of the leg. "Ow! Get off of me, you little shit!" No matter how much he kicked and stomped, the bugger refused to let go. Prancing and stumbling like a drunken idiot, the unfortunate city guard tripped and slammed his foot into a wall. "Ya! My toe!" The small lizard yelped and made to scamper off, but was too weakened by the blow pull itself up. After taking a sweet moment to recover from his toe annihilation, he limped over to the creature with a scowl as curses spilled from his lips. Raising his saber high into the air to strike down the cowering salamand, he growled, "That's enough out of you, you damn lizard-"

A firm grip kept his wrist in place. Startled by the sudden intervention of his lizard murder, Viitor turned to find that a younger girl had stopped the blade from coming down to finish it off for good. For someone so small, the elaborately dressed dancer was quite strong. A bit too strong, actually. . . and the girl looked like she was about to cry.

Easing his tense arm, the guard lowered his weapon with a sigh, slipping it back into its sheath.

"Oh, you poor thing," Avari spoke softly, crouching down to the injured salamand. The creature feebly attempted to push itself further back into the wall, hissing and clawing weakly at her. "Let me - ow - here, let me - ow - would you cut that out?" Shaking her scratched and stinging hand, Ava pulled on a pair of gloves and tried again, lifting the lizard up by its hands until it was standing on quaking feet. "Are you okay there, buddy?" After a long pause, the salamand hissed again and an intense, searing heat radiated from his body. Feeling the burn scorch through the leather of her gloves, the girl instinctively backed up and watched as the injured lizard awkwardly scampered away and out of sight with surprising speed. Rubbing the charred tips of the fingers together, Ava glanced up to. . . not quite meet the gaze of the guard's metal face plate.

"Sorry. . . I don't mean to get in the way of your job." With a sheepish smile, she gave an unsolicited pat on his back and said, "but keep up the good work anyway. I hope you won't get too rough with them." Then she hurried off in the other direction. Viitor lifted his mask and squinted for a second before rolling his eyes and setting it back in place.

"Darned kids." Cracking his knuckles, he kept the sword in its sheath and looked for troubles elsewhere to resolve.

- - -

I hope this kind of thing doesn't happen every day, Ava thought, looking left and right at scorched stalls and shattered wares. If this is what Musa has to deal with, it must be very hard for her. There was a rush of wind as she jumped from one roof to another, her light feet pattering almost silently on the floor beneath her. Peering curiously over the ledge, she spotted some more commotion below - the Lakuli girl dropped down with something like grace before crashing on her rear. Guess I'm not used to climbing this high, hahaha. . .

Brushing sand from her clothes and skin, she absentmindedly waved to the girl who obviously needed help and asked, "Do you need any help?" That said, she was already beginning to wrestle control of the lizard's limbs without trying to harm it, though that was easier said than done.

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Character Portrait: Bohdana Yātrī Character Portrait: Avari Character Portrait: Tetra Malgore
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“Thank you! I’ll be here next year as well!” Tetra waved goodbye to a couple that had just bought a young buck and doe to hopefully start a small herd. “Take good care of them!” She smiled before turning towards the goats that were still with her. Only a few of the goats she was selling this time were left, and Trynn was one of them. He seemed rather pleased with this, as he had been actively harassing any people that wanted to examine him. Tetra grinned and rolled her eyes at Trynn’s pleased bleating. Apparently he didn’t want to be sold and leave his primary herd. There were always one or two animals like that every year, and they were the ones that stayed with Tetra’s herd until they died.

CRASH!

Tetra turned around just in time to see a group of Salamands running around like maniacs, shrieking and smashing anything they could get their hands on. Not those creatures! Tetra may like most animals, but these definitely weren’t part of that group. Ever since a few of her goats had been injured by some angry Salamands a few years ago, she held a healthy dislike of them. Suddenly, a large handful broke off from the main group and started running right at her stall. Oh dear. Tetra immediately grabbed the remaining milk and cheese before throwing the rest of the meat in a random direction, hoping it would distract them. And a few did stop and scamper towards the meat, already salivating. But for the most part, they kept right on coming.

“Don’t even think about hurting my babies!” She growled before pulling out the switch she carried in case her goats got rowdy. It stung quite a bit if Tetra put enough muscle behind it. When the first Salamand got close enough, she flicked her wrist sharply. The Salamand screeched and backed away, a welt already forming on its face. Tetra smirked, but quickly became serious when she realized just how many of the beasts there were. She backed up slowly and bumped against the animal pen where her goats were all restlessly stirring. That’s it! Tetra flung open the gate and whistled sharply. All her goats immediately looked up, and Tetra grinned. “Go get ‘em.”

With wild bleats, the goats began to fling themselves at the Salamands, biting and head butting anything in reach. Tetra was going to just leave them to it when she noticed a girl being attacked by a lone Salamand. It appeared to have broken into her bag and was breaking what was no doubt valuable items. Tetra grabbed Trynn and pushed him towards the two but before he could start charging, another girl... Fell out of the sky? And began to wrestle with the lizard. Well then. Tetra paused for a second before shrugging. The more the merrier, right? "Onwards, my esteemed goat friend!" With a snort, Trynn ran at the Salamand and slammed into it roughly from the opposite side of the wrestling girl. The Salamand hissed before running into a nearby alleyway. Tetra fondly patted Trynn on the head and glanced back at the rest of her herd. They seemed to have scared off the little buggers and were now relaxing back in their enclosure. Tetra giggled quietly before focusing back on the two other girls. She knelt down and began to pick up what was left of the packages.

“Are you all right? That Salamand didn’t hurt you too bad, did it?”

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Character Portrait: Aisha 'Ai' Abdul'la Character Portrait: Sören Ahlgren
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Aisha gave out a sigh of relief when she saw the man holding her necklace, apparently having retrieved it. She smiled approached him, as he inquired, "Is this yours?"

"Why, yes, it's mine," Aisha confirmed, almost out of breath, "Bless you, sir, bless you." She accepted the necklace back from the man's thick hands and took a moment to look up at him and observe how truly intimidating he appeared. The man towered over her, with a great big clock covering the entirety of his appearance, which wouldn't have been unusual in the sun, but the great big antlers that stuck out of the man's made Aisha doubt his humanity for a split second. He was either the follower of some strange pagan belief, or he was one of the northmen. Probably leaning toward the latter, judging by his merchandise behind him and his... livestock? Mount? Or perhaps it was a companion. Aisha honestly didn't recognize the creature, although it seemed very goat-like, with branch-like horns.

The Northmen were very foreign to Aisha, but, she didn't think that made them savages or anything. Surely, they would be a civil people, just as this man was civil to her, even if he appeared intimidating at first. Perhaps they would be receptive to conversion? Aisha would have to consider such for the future.

"You are a man of great virtue," Aisha declared, "as you understand how kindness is the key to enrichment of the soul. I can only hope you continue on this path, and find further happiness and inner peace." Aisha examined the necklace, finding that she wouldn't be able to put it back on immediately. Hopefully those that she borrowed it from would forgive her, but giving it back in such a state would be unforgivable for an acolyte like herself. She would have to find a craftsman who was capable of repairing it. Perhaps the horned man could assist.

"Oh, good sir, I don't mean to ask too much of you, but, is it possible that you could direct me to a blacksmith or jeweler within the market? This thing requires repairs, and, I have to return it to somebody else."