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The Multiverse

Setting

The City of Liars


"There is a place where cracked stone sidewalks meet the clandestine mystery of a moonless midnight... where frosted-steel skyscrapers merge with twilight skies canvased in rows of silver overcast. This is a city where black and white exist only between a shades of frosty gray... where the lines between good and evil are smudged and blurred into crooked, formless shadows. When crime, greed and lust rule the streets, will you stand fast against the venomous tides of human vice...?

...or descend into the delicious chaos of corruption?



WELCOME TO VAN LEUGEN
Van Leugen City is an enormous metropolis of dark and mysterious persuasion. It is a cold, cloudy and rainy place, constantly overcast and gloomy. It draws heavily from post-Romanesque architecture in the design of many of its buildings, its intricate gothic appearance both enticing and discomforting. Cold steel. Smoggy skies. Pale stone pillars and statues. This is Van Leugen City.

The name 'Van Leugen' literally translates to "from lies" or "of liars" from Dutch. Originally named 'Stad van Zilver' (City of Silver) by Dutch miners who settled the area, it was renamed 'Stad van Leugens' (City of Liars) after the alleged silver mines were revealed to be moonrime deposits, a metal similar to silver in appearance and chemical composition but virtually worthless compared to its coveted counterpart. Having exhausted their fortunes, the Dutch made due with what they had and expanded the city into a small port. The settlement's key location near the banks of Therrier-Paix made it a key trading annex, and the quaint town prospered. Today, Stad Van Leugens (typically shortened to 'Van Leugen', also called 'Leugen', 'VL' or 'The Loog') stands as one of the largest cities in all of Therrier-Paix and the seat of power for the Terran National Government in the western hemisphere. It is here that the Terran Intelligence Bureau makes it headquarters in Susurrus Tower, home of the expansive TNG Archives and the mysterious TIB agents.

Despite heavy TNG presence, Leugen is an incredibly corrupt city and plays home to many notorious gangs and crime syndicates. Public shootings, muggings, robberies and turf wars are a common sight to the average Leugen citizen. It is a dangerous city. Just walking outside your front door at night poses a serious risk, depending on what part of the neighborhood you're in. Apart from its richer, well-protected suburbs, Leugen is not a place for the weak and frail of heart. Only the strong survive in the most corrupt city in the world. Only the hard.

That said, there's a lusty charm to the city. Bright cityscape lights... high-end nightclubs and penthouses... gorgeous museums, theatres and mansions... Leugen can be a beautiful place when you look hard enough. There's a music to the city, a subtle melody laced with mystery and noir passion. Perilous, wild and riddled with pleasure, there's no telling what Van Leugen has in store for you...
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Van Leugen

The City of Liars; a place of dark intrigue and shameless mystery.

Minimap

Van Leugen is a part of The Bald Stretch.

6 Places in Van Leugen:

20 Characters Here

Phinx Munroe [31] A former gang member turned Invictus leader, recording artist, and head of the Invictus media division.
Victor Sammes [27] "Hey man, if it's happened here in VL you best believe I know who did it."
Siobhan Lowery [26] Van Leugen detective and younger sister to Mason Lowery, a federal attorney.
Da'veth Fanlas [17] Leader of an Elven mafia.
Tzeen'neth [16]
Teagan Harp [16] A mysterious woman with uncanny abilities that equip her the ability to survive the harshest conditions.
Andreas Hart [15] High-ranking member of the Rockford Drive Villains looking for a way out.
Gadget the Cyberman [15] "Typical scum. Always kill for sport & pleasure. But I vow to clean up this Multiverse."
Matthew Tametson [15] "We got your demonic entity, Demi-god of nature, and this here is matt... He's cool too."

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Catherine Dumitrescu Character Portrait: Ethelka
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A rapturous bliss swept over Ethelka as she wandered the filthly, coarse streets of Van Leugen, trying not to lose herself in its musk. Everywhere she went there was something to experience, a pleasure to explore, a mortal already bloated to the point of choking on their own decadence, screaming out for the Dark Prince's touch. Especially today, her sacred mission requiring her to weave in between the grime-soaked allies, and decaying buildings on the city fringe to keep a very low profile. Each sudden, violent hiss of acrid steam from a dark grate sent chills down her spine, every junkie hold up alone in an abandoned ruin have her hope. It was almost too much, the dark, Warp-tainted recesses of her soul howling to stay, and drink in the cacophony forevermore.

The only thing that kept her focus was the small, brown parcel tucked securely under her left arm.

With it came the responsibilities of the entire Cult - a sacred mission from Slaanesh himself, as dispatched by one of his most profane servants. Failure wasn't even a consideration, and great lengths had been undertaken by all to ensure the success of The Prince of Pleasure's machinations. A frighteningly deep web of false contacts, shell vendors, and even fictitious covens had been painstakingly crafted in preparation for this day; key actors were sent into deep cover months ago, Ethelka's temporary I.D, and traceable history dated back before the Occupation.

She'd even gone so far as to desecrate her vestments, with her mistresses' blessing, removing all Daemonic visages, Chaos Stars, holy symbols, etc. It had even been redyed, all pinks and purples being swallowed up with black.

It made the plush velour feel irrationally scratchy and cheap, but what was a little inelegance in the service to Perfection itself? Not that her willingness mattered - Mistress commanded, which meant so did He, and the file they'd managed to get a hold of made it quite clear that this "Catherine" wouldn't take kindly to open Daemon worship. Yet.

Yet..
Knock, knock, knock.

"Excuse me, package for a "Catherine?" shouted a woman, her voice quite gentle despite being just a breath on the deep side. "I need a signature, sorry."

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Character Portrait: Catherine Dumitrescu Character Portrait: Ethelka
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"Well that was quick.." Catherine muttered hearing the knock on the door. It had said the parcel was out for delivery, but this was abnormally fast. Opening the door, she looked at the small brown paper wrapped parcel tucked under the woman's arm. It seemed smaller than she had originally thought, but perhaps the listings dimensions had been off. Either way, it was going to go under lock and key soon.

"Signature? That's a new one.." She commented thoughtfully. Had the package been signature upon delivery or no? Honestly she couldn't remember, especially when some days tended to come with a new emergency, as Isom tended to try to break his toys as soon as they were repaired.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Catherine Dumitrescu Character Portrait: Ethelka
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Perhaps the greatest flaw of all within the forces of Chaos is their ardent adherence to unpredictability. Even the greatest, most exhaustive plots of The Deceiver himself had been known to end in abject failure due to the rash, often incomprehensible desicison making of those who serve him. In rare moments akin to unholy miracles however, this penchant for impulsiveness reshaped the God's very goals.

And as the door to Catherine's house swung open Tzeentch, nestled contentedly in It's unspeakable palace, broke into wicked grin.

"Signature?"

The first syllable was all it took to snare the Cultist's attention, her ears straining in the direction of the voice. A mixed sensation of dread and exhilaration flooded her chest as she processed it, the myrid sensory faculties the Dark Prince had honoured her with making it quite the task. To Ethelka the rush of blood was a chorus bombarding her ears, emotions like anger, and curiosity could be tasted in flooding volume, whether or not a person had suffered trauma could be smelt like Spice Gas, and most importantly power could be felt. To make it worse the more a person had been through in life, the more extremes they'd felt amplified it.

This all added up to Catherine being a walking font of intoxication.

"Uh, yeah.." blinked Ethelka, slowly pulling her gaze from her shoes to meet Catherine's. "It's uh, coven policy, you know?" She gave an artful, albiet feigned smile.

In that instance the Cultist went off script. Months, and months of trial-and-error tested lines, and painful memory drills were cast out the window without a care, Ethelka instead opting to devour the sight of the woman in front of her. Obsessive rather than sexual, she truly hated photographs as an only frame of reference. The static lighting, the fixed depth, and worst of all the devastating effect of professional angles did more to hide a person's purest perfections.

Especially to someone with sensory capabilities like hers.

Catching herself getting lost in the minutia of Catherine's eyebrows, she offered a nervous chuckle. "Right, sorry." She reached up to rub the back of her neck, mind racing to try and work a compromise between duty, and greed.

"You know how it is, right? See an attractive woman," she pushed the package towards Catherine, a generic clipboard and pen on top. "Forget what you're doing. Initial at the bottom, if you'd be so kind."

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Character Portrait: Catherine Dumitrescu Character Portrait: Ethelka
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Catherine frowned looking at Ethelka, sensing a disconnect in the other's story. The woman was certainly distractible, and had just spent an uncomfortable amount of time looking at her. "Is there something wrong?" She said asked the woman in front of her, before adjusting her glasses to get a better look at the package with the clipboard and pen. "Coven? I thought you worked for the postal service..." Catherine added as she clicked the pen open. What was it with the postal service here in Van Leugen? This was almost worse than Wing City for the weirdness.

Shaking her head she signed the delivery receipt in a quick, scrawling hand. "...no I can't say I do." She remarked as she clicked the pen again, tucking it neatly underneath the metal clip. Handing the clipboard back to Ethelka, she took one last look at the address label on the small brown paper package. It was all correct, and matched what she had been expecting.

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Character Portrait: Catherine Dumitrescu Character Portrait: Ethelka
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"Oh, uh.." FUCK! It took her a great effort not to wince, and she immediately averted her eyes again, oblivious to how shifty it made her look.

Why in the name of all things Slaaneshi the word "coven" had tumbled out of her mouth was beyond her, and it blew her whole story out of the water.

An eloquent cascade of various swears, and literal curses flooded Ethelka's mind as she handed the package over, feeling ill at ease. "I could see how you'd figure that -"

A legion of heads was going to roll for this, starting with her own, unless she could think of something half believable. This was Tzneentch's realm; a clever plot, or a cunning lie was the sort of gift he sent, her own Dark Prince only interested in blessings of th-

Ethelka glanced at herself, the Warp-driven recesses of ber mind churning out a plan, and then back to Catherine with a raised eyebrow.

"Do I look like the usual Terran Express guy?" She asked, taking the clipboard back, and gesturing to her orante, ankle-length skirt.

"They don't let the normies handle things like that anymore, and here I thought I had the whole "suggestive witch" aesthetic down." She kept her face hidden in the clipboard, "busily examining" the signature. The hope that this just might work if she left it alone hit.

"Everything looks in order to me, though.."

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Character Portrait: Catherine Dumitrescu Character Portrait: Ethelka
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"Oh really? And just what exactly do you think this is?" Catherine asked observing the other's increasing paranoia and nervousness. Most of the postal service people tended to not care what was in the package, they just delivered it. "Wrong term there sweetheart, but nice try." She said catching Ethelka's use of the word 'normie'. Most of those she knew and was familiar with used a different word, 'mundane'. It made a bit more sense and tended to translate better across the different races.

"Witch? You? No... you just look like you forgot Halloween was seven months ago." Catherine commented as she turned to shut the door. "Bloody weirdo.." She muttered under her breath. Since most of the unseen had now made themselves public, things seemed to have become weirder and weirder.

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Character Portrait: Catherine Dumitrescu Character Portrait: Ethelka
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From the very millisecond Catherine's fingers graced the innocuous paper wrapping of the package the world would begin to shudder, and thrum - the extra-dimensional magics of the book inside setting to work. A palpable wave of arcane energy transference began from Ethelka, to Catherine as the parcel changed hands. The latter's eyes growing dull and clouded, her jaw slackening. It lasted only a second, the Cultist's hand retreating instinctively once the complete.

She cast a stupified last glance at her clipboard again, then began to turn. "Thank you m'am," was all she muttered.

Whether aware of it or not Catherine now held a mighty relic of The Great Deceiver Himself: The Tome of Fate. Disguised as nothing more than a simple, black leather grimorie with dirtied and frayed yellow pages, It bore no title, no author, but most importantly it set it's reader free - literally. For as long as a creature possess the Tome, the threads of their destiny are unwoven from the great tapestry of all things and placed squarely in their own hands.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Catherine Dumitrescu Character Portrait: Ethelka
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“They’ll hire anyone it seems…” She thought aloud as she stood in the hallway for a moment thinking. Shaking her head, she began to unwrap the package as she headed towards the small office she kept on the back of the house. It gave her a place to store items of questionable origin or worth, well away from the prying eyes of what few guests she tended to have. This book, like others would be placed under lock and key or dealt with otherwise depending on the nature of it.

Tossing the brown paper into a nearby waste basket, she frowned as she looked the item over, “Well at least it was discrete.” Catherine said to herself as she opened the book to thumb through the pages. A quick look through would at least tell her how to treat it before going further; some were rather innocuous at first glance and others were dark, bloody things from the start. Either way, she was somewhat satisfied to have it in her possession and out of the reach of others.

It didn’t take long before an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion descended over her. It was a strange sort of feeling, like one had been awake for days, and the single most thought on her mind was to sleep. “Maybe..” She started to think before she collapsed onto the floor, asleep.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Catherine Dumitrescu Character Portrait: Tzeen'neth
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The Maze of Tzeen'neth, Realm of Chaos


Image As soon as Catherine's limp body collided with her floor, the magicks of Tzeen'neth exploded. The woman's entire house flooded with a pale, but malevolent blue arcane light for just a split second, bathing her entire block in its unseemly glow. As quickly as it came it shattered like glass, each little fragment dissolving just before touching the ground. If anyone dared to investigate the strange phenomenon they'd find nothing but a pristine, empty house - it's owner long gone from this realm, and any other.

"Hello Catherine Dumitrescu," a voice like a legion rang out, echoing from every inch of matter surrounding the still unconscious woman. It's pitch, tone, origin, and even the seemingly endless string of tongues behind it ebbed, and flowed in flux with each letter The Lord of Change uttered.

"I've been waiting for you, for far, longer than I should have," The maelstrom of a "voice" lurched towards anger, each of its myriad tones becoming less, and less welcoming, but still civil in their maddening hisses.

"All can be forgiven though, Catherine, for what is Destiny but a merciful master?" A Daemonic chorus of laughter errupted throughout Tzeen'neth's realm. The deafening cacophony would've been more than enough to wake the dead, bolstered with tainted magicks designed to force their target - Catherine - into a state of panic even if she was still out cold.

It was a trifle, a test. The spell more than enough to rend a mortal's soul clean from them, but to being like Tzeen'neth, and His new toy? He predicated it would do more little more than rouse her, and juat to be sure with a snap of his fingers from deep inside his Library, the Maze of Tzeen'neth came to life. Catherine's examination had begun.

For now she was in The Crystalline Labyrinth now, a twisted, writhing structure, forged by The Raven Lord from the rawest threads of Magic itself, and inter-woven with the concepts of Deceit and Paranoia. Designed to drag even the mightiest of Sorcerers, and minds into irreparable madness it's very structure shifts, and moves constantly, the glowing and reflective crystal pillars ever-looming as Tzeen'neth's first line of defense. To look into any of them is to invite His gaze, each though beautiful beyond comprehension, was designed to force the viewer to interoperate all nine dimensions of existence at once, and always ready to reflect emotions, memories, and nightmarish visions for those powerful enough to make use of them . All while bathing the dark hall ways in a cascade of ethereal lights, each comprising a bevy of strange, unknown colours from places far beyond comprehension.

"Welcome home, Catherine...

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Character Portrait: Catherine Dumitrescu Character Portrait: Tzeen'neth
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The voices had always been there, in one way or another, kind or malevolent. It was just a characteristic of the telepathy, and either one learned to shut them out or go mad. Though, it could be argued that most telepaths were already well on their way to madness due to the gift, or curse; depending on how one looked at it. “Destiny? Hah.” She thought sleepily as she attempted to shove the noise aside mentally. Catherine had heard the term before and found it vaguely pointless in light of many of the things she’d seen. Meanwhile sleep lay on her heavily, obstructing her wider senses from the world at large, completely unaware of her current situation.

“Forgiven? Waiting?” She thought again as she started to become only dimly aware. It didn’t take long however, before a feeling of sickness, dread and panic jolted her awake. For a moment, Catherine struggled to process where she was exactly. She remembered receiving the package, then nothing else really. It was then that Catherine began to realize that she’d become the object of someone or something’s attention.

“Oh fuck…” She muttered sitting up and looking around. This wasn’t her home, and there wasn’t anything that she could sense that told her otherwise.

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Character Portrait: Catherine Dumitrescu Character Portrait: Tzeen'neth
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"A clever little rat, aren't you?" Tzeen'neth was quite pleased having roused the woman, although his many-fold voice obscured any sense of emotions.

Instead his realm reflected such things, and as Catherine sat up the insidious crystal's soft glow turned into a brilliant blaze of colours and lights from beyond. As if refracting through a discoball the eerie rainbow-light illuminated the hall with its unearthly beauty, putting the Maze on display for its victim. As if on cue what had been a straight, and seemingly endless hallway just revealed in either direction fractured like glass. The horrible, jagged shards they formed hung suspend for a moment, - fabrics in the stitch of creation subconsciously plucked out by the Raven Lord's will - as a nightmarish tableau designed to torture the mind of mortal and Daemon alike.

"And in case you're wondering Catherine," The fragments of the hall twitched for a moment, then violently collided together in a blurr to form a new, twisted path for her. "I can see them all,"

The laughter started again, this time devoid of the storm of Tzeen'neth's voices. The native inhabitants were reaching quite a frenzy, each of them knowing that to capture this "rat" for their master would be to be rewarded greatly. A handful of Greater Daemons even had their own countless eyes on the strange mortal, hoping to put her to use for their own means, and experiments for power over the political machinations of Chaos.

"Let us see just where your cleverness runs dry and what you have to replace it, shall we? Either way they're coming Catherine, just for you."

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Character Portrait: Catherine Dumitrescu Character Portrait: Tzeen'neth
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Catherine nearly said something about being called a rat, but realized that that would more than likely turn out badly in the end. Watching as the crystal maze collapsed in on itself and then reformed, she felt her stomach drop. This was big magic, and it wasn't something she generally encountered. In her experience, it was a rarity, and few could really even begin to master it. "I wasn't wondering." She said bluntly, trying to push down the fear she felt confronted with this current reality. This had to be just a bad dream, or an illusion that would eventually break, right?

"I'd imagine you would, considering you put me here.. whoever you are." Catherine added carefully, keeping her voice neutral and her thoughts carefully guarded. Standing up, she took care not to place her hands on the crystal walls. Despite their beauty, she could almost swear she could sense a malevolence radiating from them.

She had little choice left but to pick a path out of the twisted maze laid out before her, and begin whatever strange journey lay ahead. "I'm not so sure I'm worth all this trouble... I'm not particularly clever or well versed in whatever this is." She said after a moment of thought. Magic wasn't a thing she did well with, especially when something was outside her realm of knowledge. Council had forbidden her access to much beyond what they had deemed necessary, and even then it was small things, carefully monitored.

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Character Portrait: Catherine Dumitrescu Character Portrait: Tzeen'neth
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For a small while the Maze would grow silent, nothing but the brilliant thrum of the crystals, and constantly shifting floors for company. It would do its best to maintain a jarring, nigh incomprehensible spiral of a pathway, forcing any who walked it to occasionally break from physics, and logic and take to the ceilings or walls. It was all just commonplace smoke and mirrors though, a false roadblock to keep Tzeen'neth's newest toy safe of all things.

"How could such a thing be," mused the Raven Lord to Himself. He'd sprung up as much as a being of indescribable form could be imagined and set to work tearing His library apart.

While it was true that even He could never truly know which realites, which possible tomorrow's, would come to pass until they did his predictions were very rarely wrong. And even then not by much.

"Something trivial, something basic, submolecular," He muttered, eyes flying over the eldritch pages of his darkest tomes. "Hair colour, appetite, pheromones, those I can see.." His finger slid down a list of entries, each scrawled by His own hands, until it came to a stop, mid page.

"Catherine Dumitrescu" was displayed quite predominately under it, with an exhaustive and almost invasive list of predictions about her categorized in smaller print just beneath. The only one He cared about though was that the Catherine he'd chosen was completely self-aware.

"Two errors, and each so dire. Hrm.." The implications actually concerned Tzeen'neth, the most obvious being that the nature of Catherine's true power put her much more on par with a creature like Himself than He could tolerate. She was obscured from His gaze.

Not one to dwell on set-backs Tzeen'neth's attention shifted back to the Maze, and He once again projected His discordant voice through the realm in an attempt to startle His rat.

"You don't even know, do you little rat?" He mocked. "They never even thought you were worth telling, did they? Allllll those years stolen, taken. All the work and blood they wrung out of you, and you still weren't good enough, were you?"

Setting

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Character Portrait: Jinhai Character Portrait: Tzeen'neth
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By now someone had come to investigate as black dusty ichor that emerges from a sewer grate eddies an orange fire at its fringe from the polluted city's rosy dusk that backlit it. Sixteen flaring grey stars emerge in the leeward side as the tides between concordances collect in four distinct places. Silty humanoids pour out into leathery-looking funerary robes as four spark-eyes roam like a bag of snakes to settle under each faceless cowl. The number of Jinhai very few here still, barely a handful underground, as they were mostly in observance upon finding the societal landscape potentially hazardous. The city of humankind was as dark and tainted as its people leaving them no direct allies. Abandoned places from the city's own rot saw them commonly only vagrants knowing them at all in such places while they served. Both kept clear of one another. Still, when a disturbance of strong Aetherkind roiled however quickly a defensive detachment of curious grey stars still came from gaps within the undercroft. Myrkul's Vein desired information of any such activity on Terra.

Jinhai were the eyes at the end of Myrkul's Vein as the four humanoid subbeings bobbed and weaved like flotsam washing up to Catherine's door. A leathery glove tried the handle first but merely rattled the locked door on its frame. Two by two one at the front looked to the other whom immediately threw its face at the concrete. That one's spark eyes split into silty fluid again which shuffed its way under the door gap into the room. Kneeling legs struggle and strain to push it forward through to form a deep viscous puddle at the other side. A robed torso reforms from it, face up, and bends at the fluid midsection to calmly unlock the door from the inside.

Moving ever on the three outside push the door in each stepping over the one on the floor moved in an arc along with the door. A creak of complaint from the frame comes as the one on the floor legs itself sideways and reorients its torso once freed. Four of four spark eyes dart by themselves to and fro as they investigate the area. The one closest to the floor idly inspects a wastebasket. Still largely ignorant of alarms their gentle ransacking advances closer to the office. Each gingerly picking objects up to inspect them then gingerly replacing in the same hole left in the dust. Their activities driven by a shared intelligence structure rather than communication they said nothing to each other looking for a trace of what occured. It made little sense to identify oneselves to each other so Jinhai did not chitchat as each worked as humans might. They only needed to talk if their short duration of individuality produced a unique assessment.

Such it went until one noticed an important detail near the office which saw one monotone Jinhai speak to the others, "There is an abnormal decoherence in this area. Air volumes exhibit inconsistent empathic history. It is possible high level dimensional tampering has occurred by Aetherkind."

"Dangerous power levels required for such activity. A sample object will be needed to attempt tracing," Said one rebuilding a pile of wrapped foodstuffs in a bowl with eidetic exactness having inspected each in separate detail.

Another moved near the door to close it then inspects the Almanac, "Outside air did not share the decoherence. No observed increases in decoherence inside now indicating movement other than subbeings. Possible dimensional point egress."

The last considered then responded curtly, "Confluence of properties indicates possible high-value transport by Aetherkind."

A diligent candy-builder replied, "Single major Humankind dander source observed in domicile. No major taint observed outside sealed point sources."

One decided quickly, "Aetherkind can not be allowed to have the Humankind target of unconfirmed value. Inspect for objects with decoherent empathic affinity."

After redoubling their efforts in the area as Catherine ran through the maze two stare down into another wastebasket and quantify the wrapper simultaneously, "Possible secondary source. Impressions of subtle variations with a high power transition suggests a significant threat profile. Begin location and acquisition of rekindled Otto Hannig for possible retrieval if path tracing is successful."

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Character Portrait: Catherine Dumitrescu Character Portrait: Jinhai Character Portrait: Tzeen'neth
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The near constant thrum from the maze or perhaps it was the crystals themselves, had begun frustrate Catherine. Every vibration, every sound, she began to feel intensely and indescribably. It felt like her very self was threatened with being consumed by the crystals and their maze. "At least it's not the Dragon Court.. thankfully." She muttered to herself, in effort to keep her thoughts together as she hesitantly began to pick out a new path in the dizzying maze of crystal.

But, then there was that voice again, calling her a rat, insinuating things snidely. Catherine paused for a moment, as the floor and walls shifted in sickening patterns around her. She was beginning to find herself pained, and nauseated from her attempts to pick her way along the narrow path. It was tempting to sit down and just ignore it all, to simply wish for it to go away. But, Catherine was beginning to suspect that was the nefarious purpose of this whole thing.

“The veil is dangerous.” She denied vehemently. But, Catherine also knew that had she wished it, that it could be easily hers to exploit. Dark thoughts flitted across her mind, thinking of the decades she had given the Council and their own. “My.. worth is not…” She deflected, unable to find the words she wanted.

The voice and it’s mockery confused her. She had given MCU and it’s Council many decades of service, willingly allowing herself to be shuttled around like a chess piece on a board. Her so called retirement was a welcome change from having to mind special teams and address conflict between various government officials and departments.

“There is nothing to tell.” Catherine finally stated bluntly.

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Character Portrait: Catherine Dumitrescu Character Portrait: Jinhai Character Portrait: Tzeen'neth
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"Oh, but that is where you are so, so mistaken Catherine." Chidded Tzen'neth, already happy with the new "game" immerging before him. "I could fill tome, after tome with the things you don't know about yourself, in fact.."

The wall on Catherine's left made a horrendous shrieking sound as the magickal fabric was ripped and torn to slowly form a new, claustrophobic hall. No light or sound came from down the new pathway, and for the moment the Maze seemed to hold its breath, forcefully held in place by its curious master.

"I have, if you have the courage little rat." Though no one could see it, Tzen'neth's ever-changing eyes narrowed with vile glee.

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Character Portrait: Catherine Dumitrescu Character Portrait: Jinhai Character Portrait: Tzeen'neth
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Catherine sighed, this wasn't an ideal situation. "I may be mistaken, and so be it. But it's what I know." She answered. This crazy god or whatever it was that had decided to turn it's attention to her, seemed more malevolent than anything. Why else would they have trapped her in some bizarre crystal maze with the threat of other things? It didn't make sense to her.

Pulling back and away from the wall, she watched it recede, creating a new hall.

Catherine could tell that she was being goaded and wasn't certain that taking whatever bait had been laid out for her was the wisest choice. Her mind kept going back to an incident where she'd found herself similarly trapped in a magical field. Shorting it out had not been the answer, and instead she had had to be patient and wait for it to release her. Unfortunately, she didn't see that as an option yet. "If I take this new path... will you let me go or will you continue to play games?"

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Character Portrait: Catherine Dumitrescu Character Portrait: Jinhai Character Portrait: Gunnac Umbercaller Character Portrait: Tzeen'neth
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Jinhai reported through the Almanac that Otto was busy with other duties. Unavailable. A moment's consideration saw them look at each other after reading it then relayed a request to another who would do. Gunnac Umbercaller. Ever at the current Way core it would be easier to get him where they needed him but possibly less subtle a presence if an Aetherkind was watching. Nonetheless far more capable and resilient. One Jinhai moved further on along the path from the wrapper seeking the primary cause of the decoherence. Another did much the same moving a small firefly across the city to a nearby park. A psychoportation locus for Gunnac moving toward the destination point.

The two Jinhai moving toward the office then came across the object screaming of aetheric power. A tome so deeply tampering upon reality within the surface upon which it sat much less the environs by proxy. The entropic force infesting through matter in similar manner to discordant cells through the body of humankind. One stepped sideways into the other a momentary tiding nebulae arranging to forment a new constellation of eyes. The eight many had a greater depth of understanding among eldritch threads it wove discerning the locus of moment it once stitched together. The other four-many sidled up in proximity reading information around the object to give a better perspective to its other. The arrangement of the wake through outer planes became apparent with the faint correlation of striae out through extradimensional space. Enough for the engineer servitors to deploy a seeker potential to chase their lost humankind minutiae down as deep as it needed to go. They could then deploy its package to move their still rareified True Rekindled into play. It would require some alteration to minimize eddy distribution. The enemy Aetherkind wasn't apparent but likely one quite aware so some subterfuge would be required.

They set to work manufacturing a launch manifold encircling the book its large gloved hands arcing blue with metacreative energies. White psistone in hoar reached and branched upward in controlled branches as a set of piercing red eyes looked on from the door. The techmarine said little standing tall above the doorframe ducking to enter the home his cloying red silken cloak grips its way around the doorframe in little torn animated strips.

The deep voice echoed from within robust artifact armor, "Servitor, what is the nature of the threat? Why is it important I arrive unescorted?"

A castle of interlocking crystal strings in front of the eight many now came to its shoulders and was almost ready to deploy the hidden seeker. Potential charges tick along inner loops in both smooth linear time and the harsh jumps of barely discernible patterns writ periodic in time rather than the space of crystal design. Just controlled enough to function but nonlinear and random enough to squeeze between controlled patterns of Aetherkind and ignored as noise.

The eight-many responded with irregular glances of its many spark-eyes though it gave a continuum of attention, "An Aetherkind of power has acquired a humankind in a way that attempts to evade notice at a significant power utilization. It indicates value in the humankind that the Aetherkind must not be allowed to possess. Empathic impression signature is not of one that is known to us. Not Celestialkind, Infernalkind, Abyssalkind, Planarkind, Nurglekind. We do not feel it resembles the behavior of Outerkind. Outerkind observed to lack impetus for covering its tracks."

The four-many made a similar assessment of a smaller strategic venue, "The seeker will drop near to the humankind. Exactly proximal distance unknown. Foreign topology unknown. Intellectually noxious reality perturbation is observed among its native power bases. Your armor and enhanced astral structure can expect significant attack inertia on that vector."

The red eyes of the Techmarine positively glowed, "Then the glory for the Emperor is mine alone, today. What is my extraction point?"

"Origin," Replied the eight-many, "as it cannot be guaranteed that we will be able to significantly move the seeker once deployed. In potential proximity of a reality perturbator compromising entropic defense to move may damage carrying capacity. I have almost completed the manifold."

"A creature shifting reality to its whim? Eldar or creature of the Warp the Emperor will have their prize stolen from them this day." Said a hulking techmarine in deep monotone carefully watching the servitor complete its task.

A thin iridescent flatworm of psionic thoughtform made careful movements between peaks of white noise and error margins hiding in the noisy shadow of true data. The seeker followed the telltale striations of the signature impressed upon its mind by the eight-many's regulation. It slowly moved spreading its affect over many potential footfalls but a very slight perturbation of the error rate operating across multiple proximal timelines. The seeker naturally attracted to humankind by way of the Jinhai's affinity curled slowly inward toward Catherine's immediate reality.

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Character Portrait: Catherine Dumitrescu Character Portrait: Jinhai Character Portrait: Tzeen'neth
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"One step is all that it will take little rat,"

Somewhere deep within the new, dark hall a light began to spark to life, pale blue and barely enough to see by it sputtered, and danced like the final embers of an abandoned campfire. It's too far down what still appeared to be an empty stone hall, and strangely the shadows it cast all along the unadorned passage flickered wildly, and often in more humanoid shapes than they had any reason to be.

"Before you now lays the Path of Knowledge, the sum of all learning. The very spark of humanties' endless thirst to know!"

Tzen'neth's enthusiastic shout rattled His entire maze, setting the very walls, and floor into motion as they reverberated and thrummed in time with His speech now. The atmosphere was quick to follow, tension and urgency becoming so palpable most mortals would feel as though they were underwater.

"Do tread carefully," He laughed, wicked mirth oozing from every syllable. "But do so quickly, before they find you.."

A legion of massive, frantic footfalls erupted from seemingly nowhere, and were rapidly thundering down the small section of Maze Catherine had already traversed. Right towards her.

THUDDTHUDDTHUDDTHUDD

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Character Portrait: Catherine Dumitrescu Character Portrait: Jinhai Character Portrait: Tzeen'neth
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'It looks like that would be a firm "no".' She thought with a sigh. How bad could whatever this was really be, and was the being that had her in this place really telling the truth? Catherine didn't exactly know the answers, but couldn't let fear of the unknown take control and make decisions for her. Reacting out of fear had always made for bad decisions, especially in her experience.

Shoving her fear aside, she pressed down the new corridor that had formed in front of her earlier. She was trapped in a human rat maze, and couldn't expect any release anytime soon. "One step my ass..." Catherine grumbled.

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Character Portrait: Catherine Dumitrescu Character Portrait: Jinhai Character Portrait: Gunnac Umbercaller Character Portrait: Tzeen'neth
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The eight many focused on the seeker looking for patterns when the entire area lit up with an inflection point. One small crossing of potential paths moving slowly through the maze. A luminous flatworm snakes across hallways and around corners seeking out the crossing of paths trying to get there first. Spell potential pulled inward to something more recognizable but in stability very foreign to the locale. Alien but of a sort not from here as solid, orderly, and coiling up a psychoportive potential. The eight-many firmly anchored it down and powered the transit up. Imposing enough order on its immediate confines to keep in in place. An exact distance between it and the target wasn't something easily obtained in this mutable realm but the Jinhai reasoned it was close enough to be seen.

The eight-many looked to Gunnac spark-eyes twinkling from concerted activity among itself, "Target found, prepare for imposition."

Gunnac drew his sword, red cloak billowing around his front protectively, to kneel by the Emperor's tool that would deploy him to battle. The creatures took no identity for themselves and had no living body to taint standing as merely weapons marching for His aims. That aim entitled the Xenos to his acceptance at least and his respect for leading him to battle Chaos.

A four many appeared from the kitchen with a pair of heavy salad tongs, "I have located a gripping tool normalized to the location."

A psychoportation locus fired slowly dismantles the techmarine on top of the coiled seeker assembling his glowing broadsword and sinewy steel armor. Bass harmonics throwing a dull chant down the halls. Then the clang of his sword Inceptor hitting the floor bearing the symbol of the Imperium of Man. As soon as the red armored eyes could move they pivoted toward the tapping of human feet. Demons were heavier feral things often on four legs like the animals they were.

~~~

The four-many Jinhai padded over to the book showing a deep locus for the effect on this terrain salad tongs in hand. Insulated and resistant though they may be to this particular imposition of discordance the strength of this object easily belied something they cared not to provide easy conductance. It clacked the tongs a few times, something deep in its mind of human experience said that was appropriate, then picked up the book. With its free hand it held the book over a table where it started transmuting plates into a psistone package to better contain the object. This locus of discordance removed for safe keeping and examination by the Living Emperor. Absent a stronghold in Van Leugen the Discordant loci needed moving out of the city. Away from humankind rulers already deemed too tainted to make allies of. Perhaps a human vehicle. A note formed in the Almanac from the four-many: If the True Rekindled returns with a humankind perhaps the humankind would have transport.

The eight many did not react for to it the assessment was always so. Concordance furthering the awareness of past details. It maintained the seeker as the Techmarine took shape and maintained the spatial anchor for return.

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Character Portrait: Catherine Dumitrescu Character Portrait: Jinhai Character Portrait: Gunnac Umbercaller Character Portrait: Tzeen'neth
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Once Catherine's feet were safely across the new corridor's threshold it slammed shut behind her, the strange fabric-stone of Tzen'neth's Maze coming down swiftly like a curtain from the aether. The sheer volatility of the impact procuded a deafening clatter throughout the realm, and blasted the claustrophobic passage with a strong gust of air. Strong enough to choke out the guttering blue flame from its depth, plunging everything into a thick, palpable darkness. Once the gust died off the hall was left empty, silent and isolated from the din of the rest of the Maze.

Catherine would be the only source of sound, warmth, or life for now, left to her devices for a small time as her malevolent captor's attention was drawn elsewhere.

For once however He wasn't lying, not even by omission. The hall would be long, and ever narrowing with even the ceiling dipping in at some points, the floor running jagged and sloped here, or there. Though nothing existed thete to prevent light sources being conjured, magickal or mundane, the darkness would seem to have a will of its own - active devouring any luminescence and threatening to swallow it whole at any moment. It was safe though, a direct passage through The Bastille, and under the Rubicon leading directly to a fractured segment of His Library.

There, floating just inches above a lone and ornate onyx pedestal, rested a whithered black tome, a single name elegantly scrawled in its bearer's own handwriting, dead center:

"Catherine"
The Raven Lord's gaze turned towards the intruder, fixing on it with a combination of wrath and curiosity. It was strange for Him to see a creature He didn't readily know, and the familiarity of it was...Unsettling. It was clearly Man - or at least originated as such - that much was certain to Him, but the rest? The sigils it adnorned itself with reaked of The Empire, but the machinations it carried, the psionic motes and metals encasing it, were far more advanced than that rabble was capable of
"Well now," He bombarded the creature with the full, destabilizing legion of His voice, each every word the painful psychic screeches of a million-million corrupt souls. "what brave, or mindless beast are you, to wander where you hold no welcome?"

The Maze, and it's denizens knew a true call to arms when they heard it, and Tzen'neth's true defenses began to march - Horrors slavering, horse sized blades flailing from any of their numerous hands, feathered Greater Daemons began chanting their plane rending sorcereries, and various Champions drew claymore, and ward.

Intrusion would not be tolerated, not ever, but least of all with the delicate threads of His newest plot being spun.

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Character Portrait: Catherine Dumitrescu Character Portrait: Jinhai Character Portrait: Gunnac Umbercaller Character Portrait: Tzeen'neth
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As the entrance to the new corridor slammed shut, leaving Catherine in the cold dark she found the fear that she'd pushed aside earlier rising in her chest. It was a funny feeling thing, all at once anxious, cold, tight, nauseous and hardly able to breathe. Pausing for moment, she attempted to regain enough control over her faculties to at least start inching her way down this new drifting tunnel.

The dark inside of it was an oppressive and insidious thing, she felt that it would consume her very being if she were left alone in it long enough. Shivering slightly, she found her thoughts wandering back to all those years spent in Broadmoore, confined to a solitary cell, that the guards and the institute's director had made sure was as accommodating as possible. Misery wouldn't have been even an adequate enough word to describe it, they had ensured that she was kept weak and unable to defend herself from their assaults. "It's over.. that's not here.." She muttered to herself with an anxious and ragged breath. Catherine had been sure that she could steel herself against whatever her captor had in store by bluffing, lying, and ignoring her way out of things. Now she was coming to terms with the fact that she had very likely been proven wrong.

After some time, she found the floor gradually sloping and evening out into a new antechamber or room. By this point she wasn't sure she was even on Terra anymore or Van Leugen. "What the.." Catherine said as she cautiously approached the pedestal on which a new book rested.

She knew the writing as her own, few often used such a distinctive type of scrawling script anymore. But at the same time, she found herself doubting it to be real as she moved forwards to pick up the book.

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Character Portrait: Catherine Dumitrescu Character Portrait: Jinhai Character Portrait: Gunnac Umbercaller Character Portrait: Tzeen'neth
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Gunnac fully formed a riotous spark dulling from the translocation along his back and cloak moving to his volition. Cloak an extension of his technical prowess girded a huge red crystal adorned with faint inscriptions of machinist ideals. Inside a voice chanting honors to the Imperium crossed with encyclopedic knowledge from the faceless mouth of his armor's servitor. Among endless stacks of imperial knowledge a metalbound machine spirit in service to ideals of the Omnissiah. By Dicta the Jinhai could not believe but in the service of a humankind they certainly could create one that did. There was even one intelligence they knew that such a creature could be linked to.

~~~

The faceless red-robed body of ritualistic cog and electronics read of the techmarine's own knowledge referencing a crystal labyrinth. It had an attendance on the powers of change some the sacred mechanics and others it hadn't yet considered long. A toroid librarium of tools and books the metal feet standing perpendicular to the surface very ignorant of gravity. The notion of external time a thing that ticked so very slowly as the Techmarine completed transition. It tapped an image of Tzeentch from a book floating among the stacks, the chaos god of knowledge.

Turning gears and knobs along the support pillar the movement of the machine imparted knowledge by its changes. This place seemed not of their own by the subtleties and redundant parts that engaged and it turned to inspect a whirring obelisk of dials and metronomes at the center of the toroid in a vast workshop full of turrets, weapons, and tools varied. An inner dias which housed a swirling red brass mechanism clacking and chiming to tune along inspired by the Omnissiah's own inscrutable design by one finding its nature compatible. The servitor carefully divined the right mechanism assembling in the adapting machine to represent their location. A metaplanar Orrey attuned to Myrkul's own form of Astronomican that still needed a careful eye to its unguent and rituals.

The tattered red cape shot and careened at surfaces as the servitor tasted crystal maze around it to turn gears and align the Orrey. Gears of the squriming gear sections and riotous cams squeaked and ground finding heresy in the the place they were in. The faceless metal skeleton stood to contemplate a thrumming deep within as here were hymns of the Emperor here. Archaic to the library but here still new. They were in the past or perhaps in a world slightly not their own running just behind? Another eternal enemy, another eternal God-Emperor, another Omnissiah. It bore out further study. Should such a thing be true could the emperor's servants hear the second beacon? Hm. Sacred work to do still and barely a few seconds had passed. The techmarine should be cognizant by now at least.

~~~

The Servitor's voice lifted angry speech taken from Gunnac's memories of unguent-oiled gunmetal just ahead the warcries of men, "Here lies the Chaos demon of knowledge, Sempiturnus Techmarine. Step in careful time with the Omnisiiah's instruments for the Emperor's rightful wrath. Enemies be upon you here. This place may not be where the Living Emperor of Mankind resides."

The techmarine stood red eyes raising his sword to the ready as the tight ferroplasm and plasteel weave shift under his plating, "One of your eternal enemy, Chaos God, the Emperor of Mankind. One that took an oath to turn the warp to dust wherever it be found."

Myrkul spoke into the techmarine's mind a placid monotone voice as the overbeing reevaluated stratagem, "Techmarine. Change of objectives. We feel the anchor of the humankind can be moved out of range to return her to Terra. New goal: Reconnaissance - hold position as long as possible. Servitor: narrow planespace location then attempt warpspace location probability matrix for future reinforcements. Evacuate if planespace location is achieved and position untenable."

~~~

The other Jinhai binding the focus of change in the area completed his psistone wrapper and picked it up with the salad tongs. Myrkul quietly directed it to return the book to Genesis for analysis by the Living Emperor. Whatever it was, to be of a Chaos God made it a thing of danger to remove from this city. Even if it did not have a developed presence of servitors in the location. The spark-eyed Jinhai padded out Catherine's home, locking the door behind it, proceeding down the street to the nearest point the cacophony of minds in this city was low enough to psychoport away.