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Old January 28th, 2017 (11:53 PM). Edited February 7th, 2017 by PastelPhoenix.
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PastelPhoenix PastelPhoenix is offline
A Princely Birb
    Join Date: Mar 2016
    Age: 24
    Gender: Male
    Nature: Brave
    Posts: 387
    OOC // IC
    Welcome to Dorene

    A small lurch is felt through the Convoy as the brakes finally bring the Resilience to a stop at the loading port. Merchants bustle to be the first to unload their goods on the settlement, mail couriers dah off to find the recipients of the letters in their possession, and a few officials step aboard to discuss new deliveries that need to be made. But perhaps most importantly to you, your employers will be updating their boards with information any moment now; the Mediators getting radio reports of local criminals, the ‘Ol Barkeep wondering where he put his price list on local fauna, and the Bygones both post part requests given to them by the citizens as well as have their ear out for any rumors.

    The Convoy will be here for only a short while. It’s probably best to get started while the picking is good.


    While not the largest Greenzone, Baybrook is probably the “greenest”. Home to the Salamander Flower, the radiant heat these flowers produce keep the ground from actually freezing, and allows the river delta to continue flowing. The actual settlement of Baybrook is located just north of an area known as the “Marshlands”, although a few swamps are included in that region. Several ruins lie along the river, and new technology constantly comes online in them. The warmer temperatures also allow for smaller prey to live in the surrounding areas, perfect for huntsmen seeking easy prey.

    Sub-locations: Greenzone Baybrook

    The Marshlands

    Flooded plains give way to small pockets of swampland, and the occasional cry of wildlife rings out. Traversing the land here isn’t the easiest, and you better have brought some waterproof clothes in case you fall.

    Repeat-After-Me's, Mouseticore, Torchlight Frogs, Flying Rabbits, Groundhawks:

    Willow Wisp, Horruchs:

    A large quadrupedal creature with a multitude of necks ending in snake heads. Each head can act independently, which combined with it’s size and regenerative capabilities makes them difficult creatures to take down alone. Their venom is a useful corroding agent, although not magic on it’s own. Their bestial magic allows them to move much faster than a creature of their size normally would.


    Hydera Gang

    A group of Bandits operating out of the Greenzone. Each member has a great deal of automatically in their actions, but several key members have been identified. There is a reward for the capture of any member of the gang, but fliers are only created for VIPs.

    Hydera Gang Special Target: Valeria Aurean


    A known “enforcer” for the gang, often seen leading attacks when the big boss is missing. She spends most her time at the Hydera base in the ruins, but does leave for hunting trips in the Marshlands with a few of her subordinates. She favors cutting spells, and often overcharges her spells so they can’t be blocked. Anyone confronting her should be careful not to fall under her assault.


    Weapon Caches: The human resistance hid several secret caches of weapons here long ago, including but not limited to: Wands, golems, and heavy magical weapons. The fighting never fully reached Baybrook like was expected, and most of the caches were never dug back up before the Freeze. A Freelancer with a good eye may be able to find one of these illusive stores.


    The Flooded Grotto:

    A small cave leads to an entire network if underground tunnels, flooded over from the river dams bursting. Light isn’t the best in here, and the inability to tell the depth of some areas makes it hazardous to explore. But with much of the tunnels still unexplored, who knows what is down there?


    Frostbiters, Humongous Slime Butterfly


    Informally known as a “Droptopus”, these cephalopods spend as much time above land as they do in the water. Thick hooks at the end of their tentacles allow them to climb stone and ambush prey from above. The webbed flesh between their tentacles forms a sort of net, and the hooks click together to firmly secure prey. The webbing along with their black coloration lead to their official name, looking like a thick cloak to untrained eyes, until it’s too late.


    Lord General Aldric, the first Huntsman, famously described Stirges as “goddamned spears with wings”, an exclamation even experienced huntsmen still utter. A cross between a bat and a mosquito, these large insects stab prey with their over-sized proboscis and can drain a small animal dry in minutes. Solitary predators of opportunity, they rarely outright attack humans. But more than one Huntsman had met their end from wandering right into a nest of them.


    An animated mass of… slime. They tend to bumble around magical areas, feeding off the residual magic. That’s not to say that they are passive beings, they possess the unique ability to detect large quantities of magic near them, including living beings. Their… substance… is incredibly corrosive, and burns flesh upon contact, and they possess the ability to launch it a short distance. With no observed limit to their size, being overwhelmed by a particularly monstrous one is a very real outcome.

    Razorshell Crab

    Disguised as a simple rock, this knee-high crab favors suddenly ambushing prey by rushing forward. Between its claws and jagged shell, very little of this crustacean isn’t sharp to the touch. To make matters worse, it can attack from both land and water with equal speed.


    Hydera Gang Grunts

    Hydera Gang Special Target: Jayce Alden


    Jayce is an ex-acolyte of the Bygone Church who has stolen several magical artifacts and fled to the Hydera Gang, and has acted as their repair man and supplier ever since. He is often seen sneaking around the grotto, and it is assumed his workshop is located there. Jayce is an accomplished enchanter, and it is advised that he likely has many traps and golems defending his workshop. If forced into direct confrontation he can’t run from, he is known to employ many stunning and shock based spells.


    Vehicle Graveyard: Several magical vehicles have met their unfortunate end in these caves, whether hidden away, or crashed exploration equipment. Many parts are likely to be salvageable, however.

    Communication Equipment: The Human Resistance had several communication beacons stored here in case of an emergency, both long and short range. Much of it has been drained by slimes, but some should still work.

    Drained Batteries: Old magical power cells lie unused here, likely the cause of the slime population. Many are in surprisingly good condition!


    Riverside Ruins

    Once a thriving community, this small town has become a local safe haven for bandits. Occasional fights can be heard as unfortunate bandits unknowingly activate the cities security systems. One has to be on their toes for anything here, as the next corner could reveal a bandit patrol or trip some kind of magical trap.


    Mouseticore, Flying Rabbits, Groundhawks, Slimes


    Hydera Grunt

    Hydera Sargent

    Hydera Gang Special Target: Oskar Cadell


    Oskar appears to be the second in command for Hydera, and the one usually in charge of the region. Oskar is the closest we have to a face for Hydera, as the actual leader of the gang is unknown. He’s clever, charming, and above all brutal. The only time he’s known to leave the base is during his routine walks, but a recent attempt on his life has lead to him increasing security around him during these times. He leans towards defensive spells, letting his guards do the fighting, but is known for having a vicious whip spell with as of yet unknown components.


    Golem security: Several golems are stationed throughout the city as security, activating when an unidentified person gets too close to them. They range from small drones incapable of much more than a single arrow or shock spell, all the way to large “Peacekeeper” units capable of 2 to 3 component spells. Deactivating one should give a variety of useful parts.

    Strange Generator: A magic generator has started up somewhere in the heart of the city. Why it has started up now of all times is unknown, but a brave soul following the hums could find some form of treasure.


    Baybrook Settlement

    The settlement is spread wide, covering almost all land that isn’t prone to floods. Primarily built from reclaimed ruins, a large ring of constructed buildings form a ring around the ruins. Various bridges connect the higher floors of the larger buildings, and skywalks are common in residential areas.


    Artifact Exchange: a large variety of stalls are set up in the middle of the settlement, filled with various Pre-Freeze artifacts for sale or barter. Who knows what you’ll find here.


    Resilience Contacts
    (aka who you go to for completed jobs)

    Jacqueline (Mediator point of contact)

    A bored synthetic "Doll" secretary from before the Freeze, with no memories prior to being reanimated. Likes trashy romance novels and gossip. Hates everyone who actually wants to claim a bounty. Superiority complex for days.

    Louis “‘Ol Barkeep” (Huntsman point of contact)

    The owner of the bar, a man getting up there in age. Most often seen drinking his own stock. Long term huntsmen claim beneath his crotchety exterior is a grandpa somewhere. For some reason no one leaves his bar without a meal, even if they don't recall ever having one (although the copious amounts of alcohol makes it hard to recall anything)

    Sister Temperance (Bygone point of contact)

    A cheery young apostle whom people can't help feeling nervous around. Maybe it's the obviously prosthetic leg? Maybe it's the large axe on the wall behind the counter? Maybe it's her odd resemblance to a famed slums pitfighter? Well, it's obviously not the last one. It's just a rumor, and she would prefer you never bring that up again

    • GM word is final. I will work with you on some things, but I do reserve the right to put my foot down.
    • All RPT rules apply. This is M rates, but no excessive gore, don't turn this into smut, etc.
    • Do not god mod or bunny. General RP rules, don't make yourself invincible and don't interfere or otherwise play someone's character without permission.
    • Be respectful, let in character stuff stay in character. Don't be rude to other players.
    • I get posts can take time, I'm in college so I know, just try to post somewhat frequently. Once every weeks or two is cool, once every few months can drag everyone down.
    • Please stay with the Convoy. Wandering into the wasteland isn't a smart idea, and detrimental to survival. Staying at a city is essentially retiring the character, the focus is on the Convoy, it stays there excepting very rare situations.
    General tip, not all Hydera members need to be caught, nor does every event need to be explored. Do what feels right for your character, any events left are just left, other Freelancers may pick up the slack, or plot fun can develop off them.


    SongBird as Senka, Liselotte Rosenfeld, Ren LeBlanc
    Orx of Twinleaf' as Borrix Toroflung
    Godzil as Viktor Khorek
    Fen-Kun' as Genevieve Bohneur
    Ice as Argo Salt
    Ech as Malbee
    Pastel Phoenix as Priam Endres
    Foxrally as Mr. Baimai Wèrs Myun
    Gimmepie as
    Dina Weber
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    Old January 30th, 2017 (11:58 AM).
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    Songbird Songbird is offline
    Is Unicorn a good girl?
      Join Date: Jul 2013
      Gender: Female
      Posts: 513
      “Sis, c'mon, Rose is on!” Alexander, a boy no more than ten, was always excited when REN released a new episode of his favorite show. He's been learning how to use his wand for the past three years, but he, like others of all ages, never ceased to be amazed when this lone masked idol took on greater and greater challenges with magic they only dreamed of using.

      “I'm almost done, just give me a bit.”

      “But you wanna see it too, don't you?” Delilah was sixteen years old, and as cynical as a typical teenager should be. At first, she thought it was all CGI from the monsters and effects to Archer Rose herself, keeping her mouth shut just to keep her brother happy. Despite nobody knowing her face, real name or even how old she was, though, the Resilience Entertainment Network constantly insisted that Rose was a real person instead of just a voice behind an animated character and that the dangers depicted were real. Eventually she started believing in it, too, getting caught up in the excitement, and felt a sort of accord with the feminine star.

      “The TV's not going to wait for me to finish making my lunch. You shouldn't either.”

      “Okay...” Alex turned up the volume on the television so his sister could hear better from the kitchen, and promptly glued his eyes to the screen. He was quickly disappointed to see the opening scene, another serpent—she fought one two weeks ago, why were they showing another?—but he perked up when he realized there were bubbles around the screen, illuminated by a flashlight on the camera, and Archer Rose was swimming by in a diving suit and respirator. “Sh-She's underwater! That's gotta be freezing!”

      Delilah made it in time to see the camera zooming out to a map of the world that showed where the hunt took place, carrying a pair of sandwiches on a plate. In the captions it described how a large monster was terrorizing local waters, scaring away vital sea life and fishermen, and Rose took on the job to deal with it.

      “Sis, that's near Leywood! She probably came by here and we didn't even get to see.”

      “You won't see her if you don't go outside more often.”

      “I go outside!”

      “And straight to your friend's house.”

      Rose and a set of remotely-piloted cameras took a moment to rise and tread water, chestnut hair and pale brown eyes glowing a fiery red in the sunlight over the sea. She backed away, then through her trademark crimson mask she faced the camera to tell the viewers, <It'll get darker than usual today, so for the first time ever we'll be switching to thermal video once we're far enough below the surface. I hope you all enjoy the new point of view.> Rose saluted with one of her ivory revolvers, and slipped back under the sea, a pair of cameras diving to keep up.

      <Let's brighten this place up a bit and see if we can fish it out.> She fired a bullet, unleashing a blast of white light underneath her.

      It didn't last long enough to get a good look in all directions, but something was coming up from behind. “Watch out!” Alex held his arms up over his eyes finding out a giant sea monster was barreling towards Rose and the cameras. The glowing little girl pulled one of her guns over her shoulder, and without even giving it a cursory glance called forth a barrier, colliding with the beast with such force that the entire scene was still shaking when Alex opened his eyes again.

      <Well, that was just rude,> Rose commented, turning around to face the reeling monster as it recovered from soundly thrashing its own face against a wall. <But I'll teach you a lesson you'll never forget.>

      Her body charged up with electricity, and she disappeared too quickly for the camera to follow. The view switched to the sky, Rose high overhead and aiming a single gun downward. She dropped a rainbow-colored bullet into the water that blew it far enough to splash the cameras. As Rose got ready to move, the sea monster flew straight out of the water, and the siblings watching got a close look at the large limbless serpent, covered in rough blue scales and large ridges that appeared made of stone. It left Alex's eyes wide while Delilah read off a caption on the screen about a leviathan's scales, and at the top of its arc Rose ran along its upturned belly, leaping once she reached the highest point and launching it back under with a forceful burst from her wands.

      The cameras switched to their thermal imaging modes, and in the darkness down below were most prominently two figures. The biggest was a light blue, with a long orange center, and the smaller humanoid one was burning red and white from the inside out as it chased. “That's so cool!” Alex shouted, wondering how they managed to make it happen. Well, he would have been if he wasn't so focused on the screen.

      The serpent went back on the offensive, swimming increasingly quicker circles around Rose until it grew into a wild cyclone. She got caught up in the current, soon appearing to fight against it with all her might, but abruptly stopped and ran blazing white bolts of lightning into the sea that even overloaded the nearby cameras, forcing them to cut to one above sea level until they regained control. From the bird's eye view the leviathan must have known it met its match, because the moment it reoriented itself from the shockwave it began slithering deeper.

      <You're not getting away from me that easy!> Rose yelled out, holding both revolvers towards it and firing away a barrage of rockets that went off in multiple directions. A remaining camera went under as quickly as it would fly to show off a good shot of ten, nearly twenty rockets ruthlessly hunting down the pitiable monster, leaving behind trails of rainbow lights going every which way from left to right to down and back up again in its futile attempts to escape. The resulting mass of equally colorful explosions got Alex out of his seat and on his knees closer to the television.

      “You'll hurt your eyesight like that, Alex. Come on.”


      Delilah muttered something under her breath, then giggled to herself at her brother's enjoyment of the show.

      The television presented the dizzied and damaged leviathan from below, over Rose's shoulder. Its scales were cracked and broken to expose soft white skin, with an outline of its body faintly lit by the sunlight overhead. Stuck between Rose and the open ocean, in a slow motion pan of the camera she raised both of her revolvers together so the top of the barrels linked up.

      “She's doing it!”

      <You'll be a threat to this city no longer.> The chambers of her guns spun rapidly in response to her command, causing a growing grinding noise that was only barely muffled by the water as it sped up, but all went silent when a thin red light pointed from the revolvers to their unfortunate victim. <Super Gravity Cannon.> All the sound was replaced a moment later by water falling into a massive beam that parted the sea. Through the flashing lights, Alex was able to clearly watch a poor blackened beast slowly disintegrate into nothing. It both terrified and awed him every time he saw such a destructive spell, and sometimes he wondered if his friends felt the same.

      “Hey, Delilah?” he asked, finally looking at his big sister as Rose resurfaced and closed out the show in the background.

      “What's up?”

      “What do you think Archer Rose is like when she's not on TV?”

      “She's probably really...”

      Somewhere in the world, a daydreaming young lady with chestnut hair and pale brown eyes felt a sneeze coming on while shopping in the market for her next few meals.

      “Maybe I should pick up some cold medicine while I'm here.”
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      Old January 30th, 2017 (1:29 PM).
      Ice Ice is offline
      Join Date: Aug 2014
      Posts: 3,450
      Discovery 1.01

      Argo Salt, The Ticking Tinker

      The loud noise of a magic engine reving was something Argo was thoroughly familiar with. The raising of the pitch as it started to overheat was something he was slightly less familiar with. Still, though, he was quite familiar with it.

      He grabbed his spanner, and twisted a bolt. The engine calmed down, as steam started to pour from an exhaust pipe.

      “Is there supposed to be steam?” The woman asked, as she hid herself even further behind the couch.

      Argo shook his head, and kept loosening and fastening bolts. He wasn’t one to explain. He could try it, but most likely the woman wouldn’t understand, and then he’d have to re-explain and it would all get more complicated from there on out, and then she’d probably say he was doing it wrong, which he wasn’t, he knew exactly what he was doing and… Argo took a deep breath, regained focus and turned the engine off. He knew what he had to know.

      It was his own design, the engine, so every part of it made sense to him. Why was there an exhaust pipe if there wasn’t supposed to be steam? For when there was steam, was the obvious answer. Design might be a big word for the machination. Argo tended to add to it whenever he ran into a problem. It worked out most of the time. The engine in front of him had started out as a small Filter GI19 model. Now, it was twice the size, with more add-ons than original parts. It was based on a previous attempt of his to repair a magic engine, that went slightly worse.

      “Temperature normalizing,” Jacques said. Argo patted the dollhead that sat on the table next to him. It was his way of saying thanks.

      More steam poured out of the engine, though. It was a thick and moist steam. It felt more like a cloud than boiling water should feel.

      Argo started to disassemble the bottom side of the engine, while his arm searched the top for his screwdriver. As wrapped his hand around something that was decidedly not, he checked his holster. Screwdriver. The fog made a bit more sense now. Argo quickly removed his wand from the engine, which stopped producing fox immediately.

      They weren’t supposed to do, but Argo found that with his creations what the things were capable of wasn’t typically just what they’re supposed to do. He gave the machine a slight kick, and it coughed up a final cloud, as it’s reving started to calm down to a more calm and sedated background rustling.

      “Fixed,” Argo mumbled, as he stood up, his head held low as to not hit it against the roof. He grabbed Jacques and clipped him to his belt.

      He quickly made his way out of the house. He didn’t like being in other’s homes when he didn’t need to be. The woman followed him. As she handed him his payment in a jingly coinbag, she raised an eyebrow.

      “You sure that thing is workin’?” She asked. Argo nodded, ready to walk of, before he realized he should probably explain.

      “I-it’ll work the same as before, might burn through quicker. Magic stuff shouldn’t be near it.” Argo’s eyes were on his wand’s magazine, as he checked the sudden absence of cloudian wool. The woman put her hand on his shoulder, almost standing on her toes to reach it. Argo didn’t recoil, despite the strong urge to.

      “Great job, anyway,” she said, a smile on her face.

      “The job’s fine, I guess. I’m sure there are better jobs,” he said.

      He started walking off, avoiding the frozen puddles in the street. He unclipped Jacques from his belt and extended the telescoping rod. The magnetized top clicked as Jacques connected.

      “Are you fine, buddy?”

      “I am excellent, sir,” the dollhead answered.

      Argo’s way home could’ve been a lot simpler. He knew that, but he didn’t want to break his pattern. It gave him a certain structure to always arrive at his front door from the same side. He didn’t mind having to walk around a bit.

      “Hey, Argo,” he heard Jessica say behind him. Argo didn’t turn around to greet her, instead keeping his constant pace intact. She almost had to run to keep up with him.

      “I saw you just left All’s house. So she finally got someone to fix her engine for her, huh?”

      Argo didn’t know what to say. He wasn’t good at small talk. Or any talk, really. Especially not with Jessica. He could see her long, brown curls in his periphery. She had really nice hair. It matched everything else about her being nice. It made Argo even more uncomfortable. His hand gripped his wand, as the magazine clicked over to the Heal spell. Despite it’s name, it did more than that. Jacques had suggested the combination to him. It would allow him to quickly run away, hide. He knew he wouldn’t use it though. He didn’t want to make Jessica feel like he didn’t like her.

      “So, I was over at Francy’s today, fixing that awful motorcycle of his. You should check that thing out, you’d love it. I’ll have to go there again tomorrow. I could take you if you were interested?”

      Argo kept on walking, almost turning his head to answer with an excited yes, but he kept himself contained. Jessica had noticed the slight movement, though.

      “Great, I’ll see you at Francy’s then!” She said. Argo wasn’t planning on going. He’d love to go, because he liked Jessica more than he should. But, as it stood, she was stealing his business. He shouldn’t like her. She was making it awfully hard for him to make rent. Jessica slightly graced his arm as she turned into an alley, leaving Argo to be alone again.

      “I-I-I am excellent, sir,” Jacques repeated.


      Argo’s home was small. Really small. But it was his, and it had all he needed. He undressed, wrapping himself in his thick fur blanket instead. He pulled the lever at his bedside, and it slowly turned over to reveal a work bench. Magnetically stuck to it where a bunch of different components. Argo had completely taken apart the sniper rifle. He wasn’t sure how to use it when he found it, so he had to figure out the mechanisms first. Some of them didn’t make a lot of sense to him, however, so he had attempted to change them. There didn’t seem to be a magazine to hold any magic components in it, instead there were simple slots for gunpowder-based ammunition. Argo had taken it out, put in the magic magazine he had collected from a defunct wand.

      Argo held up a golden hull, not sure what do with it.

      “You’re holding an Input Stabilizer, sir,” Jacques said. It meant nothing at all to Argo. “[i]Input Stabilizer[/] i-i-is a component meant to conduct magic energy through non-standard weaponry.”

      Argo smiled. He was glad Jacques was able to help him. Everything he didn’t know, the robot would. Except when it came to people apparently.

      The plastic casing that made up Jacques’ hair was starting to lose it’s paint, revealing the base skin colour of the plastic mold. Argo would probably need to repaint it someday, but the woman who sold paint was to talkative for his liking. She always asked about his day, but not in the same way as Jess did. She was more demanding.

      It took Argo two hours in all to put everything back together. He wasn’t sure his rifle would work, and he wasn’t going to test it. He placed it back onto his workbench, clamped it with some steel clamps that forced it against the magnetic underside, and pulled the crank to reveal his bed again.
      He laid down on his bed, wrapping himself in his blanket. It was as thick as him, forming a thick layer around him. It wasn’t anywhere near nighttime yet. It was had yet to even be evening. Argo liked his bed though. It was a retreat that let him rest, for when his head was too full. He liked working with his machines, but even that had a tendency to overwhelm him, and put him out of comission for a while. He’d just nap for an hour, empty himself out that way.
      His eyes were focused on the cork pinboard on his wall though. He had hung up a request by the Bygoners on it. It was his new plan, to support himself. If people rather had Jessica to fix their stuff, he’d have to find other opportunities.

      He understood why people would rather have Jessica fix their stuff, though. She was nice. She looked nice. He didn’t understand her designs though. He could figure out his own stuff, but hers was a complete enigma. Sure, his stuff had unintended side-effects sometimes, but they were logical. He could make sense of them.

      His eyes went back to the request paper again. It was a copy of the official ad. Strange Generator, it read, with all known information about it below. It wasn’t much. Argo didn’t really care anyway. It was more interesting to find out himself. See what made the generator so strange. He’d see tomorrow. That was the plan, at least.

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      Old January 30th, 2017 (3:38 PM). Edited January 30th, 2017 by PastelPhoenix.
      PastelPhoenix's Avatar
      PastelPhoenix PastelPhoenix is offline
      A Princely Birb
        Join Date: Mar 2016
        Age: 24
        Gender: Male
        Nature: Brave
        Posts: 387

        Priam Endres || Senka

        Male // 20 // Ex-Bandit || Female // 20 // Innocent Little Girl?

        JP with Songbird (duh)

        Senka narrated her process under her breath as she slid a small box of starters into a wand, confirming it was securely in place with an audible click. “Magazine in.” Although it wasn't a standard revolver, it was close. It had a smaller form factor, with no cylinder for loading starters. Instead, it accepted a magazine that loaded into the grip; upwards of twelve ingredients with separable slots to fire multiple spells without reloading. The only real downside was that the initial loading process took longer, but Senka believed it made multi-spell combinations more reliable by preparing the starters in advance, and it was easier to carry a larger amount if they were already set to trigger. She pulled a broken model of it out of many in the Crystal Forest's ruins a short time ago, and spent the last week or so taking it apart and modifying the design for ease of use.

        “Fire test: Flashbang, Gravity bomb, Petrify.” Senka's finger pulled the trigger in. Three shifting noises in quick succession followed, and a single small cartridge fired from the barrel; a bright light flashed outside, joined by a greatly deafened, yet high-pitched shriek. Then she aimed it at her coffee table, a few books strewn over the wood. She pulled the trigger again, getting two more little shifts from inside the handle, and the books started rising from the table. Just as the magic was about to wear out, she fired once more, feeling only a single push before the last cartridge nailed one of the books, knocking it out of the air and coating it in a shell of stone.

        The young experimentor allowed herself a pleased grin at her success, but she still had real world testing to work out. She would have to remember to bring it along when she restocked her ingredients later. She could take the original model's pieces to the church when she was done.

        The sudden lurch of the convoy stopping nearly knocked Priam over, being unfortunately mid-step when the brakes fully engaged. Catching himself right before he barreled into some poor woman at a junk stall, he briefly wondered how he survived these stops all those years on the Victorie. It was only after he fully regained his balance that he realized he was clutching his fist, and putting a sizable hole in the flyer her was carrying as a consequence. Silently swearing to himself, he reconstructed the paper as best he could with his shoddy "Recovery" skills; casting it on other things was so difficult.
        Seeking support gathering materials
        For details, please come see me in my home.
        The page looked fine, and the address looked the same as he remembered it. Now he just had to hurry to the employer's house before the spell faded and the page went back to its ruined state. Picking up his pace through the rest of Market Town, he almost wanted to sprint to be the first. Sure, it was a little sketchy, but he was somewhat handy with a wand, and it beat fighting to claim a bounty first, accidentally activating a golem, or getting cut up by some beast. Ingredient gathering was simple work!

        Rounding one of the many, many corners of the Residence Hall, Priam found himself in front of the door leading to the apartment mentioned in the advertisement. After a quick check that he was presentable, he lifted his fist and knocked on the door. What answered certainly wasn't what he expected. Admittedly, he didn't know what to expect, but this wasn't really on the list. A small raven-haired girl almost a head shorter than him, with an innocent look that suggested they would be more likely to pick Salamander Flowers than anything that required "support".

        Well, I guess the wilds can get a little dangerous. Having someone around to watch your back is smart. She didn't have to do it in such a sketchy manner, though.

        The lass's eyes scrolled up and down Priam's body, apparently paying a little extra attention to the wand on his hip. Then she told him, "You'll do," and invited him inside.

        [i]Uh, did I just get checked out by a little girl?[i] he thought, making his way inside. And why the emphasis on his wand? It is a little eye-catching—he'd give it a second glance for sure—but for a simple gathering job it shouldn't matter too much if he had a custom wand or a discount junk shop one.

        "Sorry about the mess, but we'll be leaving soon. Make yourself at home; there's something I want to show you." She didn't sound ready to leave. More like she was about to yawn with every breath. A few books scattered around the living room, maybe a dirty dish or two in the sink. There was some kind of wand on the coffee table that Priam noticed when he made his way in.

        "So, what exactly are we going to be gathering out there?" He said, sinking into the couch. Truth be told, he was a little worried about how much he could make off this, judging by the general lack of organization and the girl's ill-fitting sweater. Maybe hand me downs? He didn't see any signs of a family member that would have passed it down in the house, however. Was it possible she was actually some rich, eccentric girl? Priam ran into a few entitled rich girls in the market from time to time. He wouldn't necessarily enjoy spending too much time with one, but for the right price he wouldn't complain.

        She introduced herself as Senka, sitting down next to him... rather, uncomfortably close, and he kept his eye on the wand so to not be labeled a pervert. He was starting to think there was something up, but she picked up the strange-looking wand from the table as she explained her situation. She needed to restock her less common spell starters available in the Marshlands. "Otherwise I would've been able to go alone," she nonchalantly clarified. Senka fiddled with the wand, if it even was one, for a few moments, until some small piece of metal dropped from the bottom of the handle into her grasp.

        "Uh... huh," he muttered noncommittedly, watching her work with the strange piece of wandcraft up until she put it back together.

        "I have a request, if you don't mind," she started again, gesturing the wand toward his hands. "Would you be willing to use this while we're out? It's made to use multiple spells back to back, but the ones I use aren't sufficient for such a thing."

        "Well, that does sound... interesting. But I have no idea how that thing even works, much less preparing it."

        "You have your starters with you, right? I'll show you." Senka proceeded to give Priam a rundown of the wand's loading mechanism, accepting twelve cartridges that he just needed to separate for each spell. For the next few minutes, he thought of ones he'd most likely use one after the other, and slotted the starters into the magazine per her instruction. He was particularly attentive at following said instructions, as it kept his eyes from wandering too far. Spells that were better for booking it if things went south, or things he just wanted to do more quickly. All in all, he had three magazines, with one already loaded. "So now, each time you pull the trigger, it'll activate the spells in order from top to bottom."

        "So, let's say I load this with two Phantom Bombards early, then a Gravity Mine..." he started mumbling, running the numbers and combinations in his head, "and then I can Flashbang, grab them with a Return Whip to pull them in, Grapple Whip myself away..." Suddenly feeling slightly giddy at the opportunities, he finished all the little simulations in his head. "This is amazing tech, I can fight an entire battle with one pull of a trigger! Where did you get this?"

        "I designed it," Senka answered matter-of-factly.

        "Uh..." Priam stumbled over his own words, "okay... just wow." Maybe the idea that it was a rich girl all along might not be too far off. The only people he knew who had time to actually sit down and design a wand would be a wandcrafter, rich person, or a Bygone; he had never seen the girl at a wand store when he went shopping around, and she didn't live at, or near, the church like other career Bygones. Still, he was excited to finally try out something as one-of-a-kind as this. The potential of being the first to use the unique wand was even overpowering the feeling of unease that came from an unfamiliar wand. "When did you want to head out, again?"

        "If you feel like you're prepared, just let me grab a bag to carry the materials, and we can go. We'll need to head pretty far in the marsh, so it'll be easier if we leave sooner." Introductions and preparations taken care of, Priam slid the new wand into his coat pocket, and zipped it up for later. Maybe it's just because it was Baybrook, but his employer seemed to be travelling lighter than he was when they stepped off the convoy; she didn't even put on anything heavier than the sweater, and her own wand was dangling off the side of her bag—an old-looking piece of tech.

        Of course they would head into the marsh, Priam thought a little bitterly as they departed. Still, it's not like there was anything else in Baybrook, and the weather wasn't so bad that a little water would lead to hypothermia immediately. That is, so long as he didn't fall. The mud seemed to mock him for his decision to take point, not noticing the deeper sections until it was too late. Still, letting a young girl get all muddy and risk something attacking her because he wanted to stay clean felt wrong. Cleaning this all off would be hell later, but for now he could feel pride.

        Following Senka's instructions, Priam noticed they were quickly leaving the relatively safe parts of the Marshlands, and she was grabbing ingredients along the way. If he didn't know any better, he would think that she planned to lead him to one of the swampy patches. Maybe she doesn't know how dangerous they are? he reasoned, but couldn't hold the position to even himself for long. Every kid knew that Hydras nested in the swamps, even those who had never been to Baybrook. There were entire children's stories about these kind of things.

        "Say," Priam started after seeing what looked suspiciously like a patch of swamp in the distance, "where are we headed anyways? We've been walking quite a while." He could've sworn he saw something resembling a large eggshell nearby before it sank into the water, too.

        "It's just a little farther, and I can get what I need. And stay close." His little charge had been methodically bounding from fallen trees to oversized lily pads, and had little more than her boots dirtied by the muck.

        "I'm getting a bad feeling about this; it's Hydra territory."

        "They only come back in the evenings after hunting for food. That's why we need to hurry." How did she know about its habits? He wanted to ask, but she was getting ahead, and they were already too far out to go home anyways.

        Soon enough, they'd made it into the deep marsh—the swamp, and home of the Hydra and its children, scaly little beasts with only two or three heads before adolescence. And catching back up to Senka, Priam found that they were standing smack dab in the middle of their nest. Priam then had a horrifying recollection, one that he managed to distance himself from pretty well: Hydra blood is a pretty damn uncommon ingredient.

        The babies were sleeping, thank the breezeswoops, and Senka quietly clung to Priam's left arm with her right. She told him to stay quiet, which was good, because he probably would've said something embarrassing and loud otherwise. Then she raised her free hand with a few spell starters, and he couldn't help but spot a solid red scar run down part of her arm. The ingredients dissolved into a ball of energy, releasing a wide-range pulse. At first, he didn't notice anything different. It was still quiet. Nothing was awake, except for the two of them. Senka, on the other hand, immediately got to work singling out a pair of Hydralings, and extracted their blood into some number of vials. That spell must have kept them from waking up, but her wand was still strapped to her carrying bag.

        "That should be enough," she told him as she stood straight again. "Let's get back before the paralysis wears off, or the mother comes home."

        "Say, how did you do that anyways?" Priam started, beginning the trek back to the convoy, before being interrupted by the telltale rumble of something large walking awfully close to them. He turned to Senka and asked, almost pleadingly, "You said the mothers only return in the evening, right?"

        Of course, by now he knew Senka wasn't going to respond with the same sort of panic. Instead, she still looked tired, but she answered nonetheless. "There's always a chance she found a food source closer to home."

        "So you mean there is also a chance it can also be some other giant swamp monster?" He tried to reassure himself.


        "Good, I was afraid that we might be psyducked out here." Another stomp, much closer to the duo, splashed through the murky waters, and Priam sighed in defeat. "It's right behind us, isn't it?"

        He craned his head around, looking back to be relieved at the sight of an exceptionally large horruch while Senka assured him, "No... It's in front of us." He swung his head back so quickly he nearly gave himself whiplash, a five-headed Hydra staring them down with a carcass in two of its mouths.

        What was supposed to be a shouted swear ended up a meek squeak out of Priam as he reached into his pocket and pulled out the wand Senka gave him, training it on the beast with a shaking hand. "I think we're going to need a bigger wand..."

        It seemed the two of them were blessed, though. As Priam shook, the Hydra leapt clean over their heads, brutalizing the poor herbivore behind them so her own babies could have sustenance. Breathing a sigh of relief, they mouthed, "Let's go," to each other, and very promptly moved to get the hell out of Dodge. Realizing he had his assault magazine loaded, Priam quickly ejected it and pulled out his "Nope" series of spells. Sliding it into place with a small click, he felt an eerie, sudden chill run down his spine as he heard the reptilian predator suddenly shift position behind him, like the soft click made acutely it aware the two little intruders were attempting to sneak by. Swallowing his fear for what felt like the thousandth time in the past twenty minutes, he peeked behind him and found himself in a staring contest with a curious and furious Hydra head.

        "Let it be a coincidence, let it be a coincidence," he repeated under his breath as the Hydra continued to stare him down. Priam's dreams were promptly dashed against the wall when the other four heads slowly bent 'round to look in their direction. Deciding it was now or never to make their break, he pulled the wand's trigger as fast as he could and felt the magazine slide its way through the chamber, activating each spell in turn. In no time two caches of magical energy, waiting for something to walk by, appeared on the ground, and Priam felt more alive than he had in months dropping two of his mines in as many seconds. Using the final spell as his cue, he grabbed Senka in his arms and began to run as soon as the brightly lit arrow spell left the chamber.

        And then he ran for his life, not even looking behind him as he heard the loud boom of his "Flashbang Arrow" connecting. Two additional explosions told him that the Hydra has begun the chase and promptly ran into his mines, but the loud footsteps proudly declared that they really didn't matter. His legs moving as fast as he could will them and the sound of his heartbeat nearly deafening him, he searched for something he could maneuver around to at least slow the creature down. A brief noise from below reminded him that he was carrying someone, and he looked down to see his passenger pointing out a small grove of trees to his right. Booking a hard turn, he nearly lost his footing in the mud as he scrambled for any kind of cover. Passing the first tree, he followed a serpentine path through the grove, hoping that just one of the gaps would be too small for the Hydra to squeeze through, and the trees would hold up.

        A mighty crash gave Priam the idea that being so lucky was a childishly silly notion. The Hydra just plain didn't care about the trees. At least for the first forest's worth or so, but the many, many, many beatings to its heads and necks exhausted the creature, and finally Priam and this incredibly dangerous little girl were in the clear. Still Priam kept running until reaching the outer perimeter of the convoy; last thing he needed was to accidentally end up right next to the Hydra again. Seeing two Mediators rush over to find out what had the pair in such a hurry to go inside and have a nice cuppa joe, he finally set Senka down and collapsed into the murky water of the marsh. Hypothermia be damned, if he could outrun a Hydra, he could fight a little illness. The last thing he heard was the innocent voice of his diminutive employer saying, "Good work. This is what I hired you for, after all."

        He woke up maybe an hour later, lying half-naked on a cot in one of the convoy's infirmaries. He didn't feel sick, so he had that going for him, but Senka was nowhere to be found. The only sign besides his memories that he'd even met her was an envelope sitting on the stand next to him, propped up against a vase with his name written across the front, and hanging nearby were his things, and even his jacket looked professionally cleaned of all the grime. Carefully opening the envelope, as if it could catch fire at any moment, he found his paycheck and a short note. He was immediately drawn to just how much he had made, feeling like his eyes were about to fall out of the sockets, and let loose a sigh of relief knowing his rent was taken care of for more than a fair amount of time. Next order of business...
        This is the payment for your services. Thank you for doing so well. I think you'll find the wand more useful than I will, so please feel free to keep it.

        P.S. I felt bad that your clothes were dirtied so much, so I asked to have them dry cleaned while you slept.
        Suddenly feeling exhausted, Priam collapsed and fell back into the sweet embrace of unconsciousness.

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        Old January 31st, 2017 (11:45 PM).
        Godzil's Avatar
        Godzil Godzil is offline
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          Viktor Khorek

          It was oddly quiet at The Hunter's Nest, with only the sound of a ticking clock to fill the silence. Of course, there being only the barkeep and a single patron might have had something to do with it. Viktor sat in his usual spot, a table in the corner, a half empty mug of mead and a plate of steamed potatoes in front of him. He hadn't ordered the potatoes, but Ol' Louis had brought them out anyway. Viktor had his head on the table and a hand on his mug, waiting for the Resilience to stop.

          The whole bar seemed to shake as the brakes fully engaged, and only Viktor's grip on his mug stopped it from sliding off the table. The glass bottles behind the bar rattled in place, secure on the rack. Viktor had learned to gauge when the Convoy was slowing down, especially after cutting off one of his fingers years ago by chopping into a Horruchs haunch just as the brakes hit. As always, he felt a twinge of phantom pain at the memory, downing the rest of his mug in one long pull.

          "Louis!" He called out, breaking the silence. "Where are we this time? And don't tell me it's Torfen, I don't think I could handle that."

          The Ol' Barkeep was polishing the bar, and didn't even look up at Vik. "Baybrook." he grunted. Louis wasn't much of a talker in the mornings, rarely saying more than two words per sentence.

          "Baybrook." Viktor repeated, taking a moment to think. "Warm place, wet this time of year, right?"

          "Always wet." Louis went back for his books, never looking at Viktor.

          "Right. Marshlands and all that. I fought a Hydra here once. Mind you, it was a small one, only five heads, but it was a good fight." Viktor took a bite of potato as he walked down memory lane.

          "Hm. You ran." Louis laughed, a curt sound that resembled a cough, but he was smiling.

          Viktor scowled, annoyed by Louis laughing like that. "Yeah, yeah, I ran. But killing the beast wasn't the job, now was it? I got the Torchlight Frogs, and I didn't even get a scratch. I'd call that a good day. ...can I get another?" He held up his mug.

          Louis nodded, grabbing a bottle and setting it on the counter. "..." He looked pointedly at Viktor, his gaze steely and his expression set like a stone. The rules were simple in the Hunter's Nest: you want a drink, you can come get it your damn self. Louis wasn't going to come out from behind his bar.

          Viktor heaved himself to his feet, bringing his empty mug with him. "Potatoes taste different today. You trying a new recipe?" Louis quirked an eyebrow as he poured Vik another drink. "Not as spicy this time. You run out of Flamebell powder?" Louis grunted wordlessly, not saying anything. Viktor sighed, understanding what Louis meant. "After all we've done for her, she sells you short like that? You need to talk to her, Lou. She's playing you. Thinks because her husband's a Mediator she can do whatever she wants."

          "Hm. Or she's playing hard to get." Louis laughed, making Viktor roll his eyes. "Maybe some brave, handsome Freelancer will venture into the hazardous wastes and retrieve some new spices for us all to try. Wouldn't that be something?"

          "You volunteering?" Louis said with a grin, quirking an eyebrow again. "Oh hell no. I said 'handsome', didn't I?" Viktor replied, making Louis laugh again. Viktor cracked a small smile as he took his drink back to his table. They'd discuss jobs in a bit, when Louis was more talkative, but Viktor wanted to finish his breakfast first.

          "Assuming Ryan made his delivery yesterday, how about you cook me up a steak to go with these potatoes?" Viktor requested, unable to say the boy's name without condescension. It wasn't that he disliked the kid (he wouldn't have let him run his shop if he disliked him), but Viktor considered him a poor replacement, lazy and entitled. But he was the only person he could find to leave his shop to, and it didn't sit well with him.

          Louis nodded, putting another log in the stove and pulling a steak from the icebox. "Coming right up." He got to work on that while Vik leaned back, taking a long, slow sip from his mug.
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          Old February 1st, 2017 (3:35 PM).
          Orx of Twinleaf's Avatar
          Orx of Twinleaf Orx of Twinleaf is offline
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            Borrix Toroflung

            Plant spit, monster milk, and a rattata in a bottle

            Borrix drank some more of the hot black coffee, embracing the strong bitter taste of it. While there were some settlements that yet had those versed in the ways of raising the more ancient strains of coffee, the sort that grew in warmer areas, all most people got ahold of was this offensively-bitter cold-hardy strain that Borrix had often heard referred to as "Maraglace coffee," and still more often as "liquid muk." Still, it did its job at warming the body and waking the mind.

            Borrix put the mug back down and wiped at his beard with the back of his arm before putting his pen back to the paper. "Couldja repeat that last thing?"

            "Repeat-after-me," the gentleman seated with him said. He was perhaps not quite Borrix's age, but had been a huntsman for as long as Borrix had been a trinket-maker, and cut a stunning figure in his black leather coat and slacks. His name was Jroo Mickizi, and he had taken Borrix under his wing and tutelage after seeing the latter bumble about as a novice hunstman, insisting that Borrix reminded him of his late older brother, whom he had never been able to make amends with after some sort of squabble long ago.

            Jroo had offered to help Borrix along in a sort of agreement where Borrix essentially did lesser jobs for things like components that Jroo used to do worthwhile jobs, and give Borrix a cut of the pay. Jroo was a friendly man with a truly astonishing red handlebar and side whiskers to compliment the red ponytail that he drew back off his wrinkled face. Borrix's own less-intense brown hair and green eyes made him seem like little more than a prop next to Jroo.

            Borrix wrote this last thing down on his list, albeit doubtfully. "Repeat-after-me? You mean those little blood-sucking pixie things? The hell would you need one of those for?" He took another drink of his coffee. "You don't eat em, do ya?"

            Jroo waved his black-gloved hand dismissively. "Of course not. I'll tell you what it's for after you get me one."

            "Just one?"

            Jroo sjirachied and smiled his gap-toothed grin. "One's all the more I want to risk you handling, Bor, the first time."

            Borrix shrugged at this and checked the list again. "So, I need to get willow wisp acid."

            Jroo nodded. "Yes, that stuff is useful for cleaning wands after the hunt. You haven't had to go out in the icy places very much yet, but if you don't clean your muk after coming back afterwards your wand and every bit of metal on ya will crop up with gear jams. And trust me when I say Bor, the damn things are a lot harder to get off after they've sprouted. Besides, it'll be a nice way to lower you into handling motile plants. I take it you haven't had to deal with them while making your paperweights?"

            Borrix drained his cup fully and set it down. "Not especially. Nothing big anyway, I had to cut through a few kodama a couple times in the southern places."

            Jroo smiled and shook his head. "A kodama hardly fits the bill, you know. That's like saying you could face a feathercage after shooting down a breezeswoop."

            Borrix took this in good humor, as he always did. He leaned back for the waitress to refill his coffee and take away the scant remains of his liver-and-onions. He took a deep swig from the fresh coffee and moved to the next thing on his list. "And ... horruchs milk?"

            Jroo handed the girl his own half-eaten dish of flying buck rarebit before accepting another glass of ice water. "Once you stop gophering for me, Bor, you'll wanna be able to get some folks to party up with, and let me tell you: nothing says 'level-headed' like being able to say you've milked a horruchs. They're tamer than a drugged cloudian, but that don't make it any easier to lean in underneath four metric muk-tons of muscle and horn. And I'll pay ya fine for a bucket of the stuff. It's a damned sight better for ya than the chilled piss that passes for spirits on these damned machines."

            Borrix nodded now, seeing the sense in that. Seemed reasonable enough. Which made the last thing on the list stand out even more. "And then you want a repeat-after-me?"

            Jroo was digging in his pocket for his billfold as he answered. "Those things are more useful than a lot of folk realize. I'll show you what you can do with it once you've managed to snag one out of the swamps here. I noticed you use hydra blood in your spells, Bor, and I'm gonna teach you why I have so much of that stuff to share with you." He stood up, having found his billfold, and threw out a tip while taking his bill. "I think Gwendolee and Junsick wanted to party up with me to bring down an older hydra. Good luck, Bor, see you around."

            Bor waved one of his big hands in farewell, the other still on his mug. "Tear that thing a new ass, Jroo, and say hi to Jun for me, I think I'll stick around for dessert."

            Jroo took his black hole-riddled cowboy hat from its perch on the back of his chair and left to pay his bill. Borrix looked after him a moment before turning back to the empty table to contemplate his tasks for the day. The Resilience had stopped a few hours ago and he and Jroo had, as they always did when the grand convoy stopped, come down to the Boisterous Breezeswoop for lunch to discuss the day's hunting. Borrix had lived on the convoy for long enough now that its braking was not at all jarring to him, but he had not been totally awake at the time and had, to his gruff embarrassment, been thrown quite off the toilet he had dozed off on. He snorted now, imagining how he must've looked, red-faced and confused with his pants around his ankles.

            He was still smiling at the silliness of it as he flagged the waitress and asked for a slice of chillnut pie. "Oh, sorry Bor, we're fresh out," she said.

            "Aw hell," Borrix said good-naturedly. "Guess I'll have the flan, then."

            She left to arrange it while he considered what he'd need to secure his objectives. Jars, most like. A whole lot of jars.

            "Here you go," the waitress said, setting his dish before him and writing an addition on the check that she'd already laid on his table earlier. "Will that be all? More coffee?"

            "That'll do nicely, thank you. I'd better not have any more coffee, I'm probably on the verge of bursting as it is, ha!"

            And then the waitress left and Borrix once again had that odd feeling of being alone in a room full of other people. He looked at his flan somberly, the little jiggly concoction made of some manner of custard and drizzled with caramel, with two hard sugar crystals set in it like eyes. He picked up his spoon and poked at the wobbly dessert absently, wondering what Martha was doing. Probably taking air out in the settlement, and buying things at the stalls.

            The flan looked at him with unfeeling, sugary eyes, as if to say, She's probably getting porked by that Hightown guy she left your fat ass for.

            Borrix frowned a little at such a crude remark. It was no business of his what her love life was and hadn't been for years. He was over it, well and truly.

            Sure you are, the dessert mocked him, jiggling malevolently. And you're definitely over your boy calling that gigilo his daddy, ain't ya?

            Borrix hadn't seen his son Pyrik since five years ago when Martha left him. He didn't even know where they lived. In any case, he didn't begrudge the Hightown man his success. That would have been spiteful, after all.

            It would be manly to be spiteful! You're softer than I am!

            Borrix grunted and cleaved the evil treat's head with his spoon, and shortly had buried it entirely into his gut along with the rest of those unhappy thoughts.

            "Spells are thus reliant upon the individual that casts them, and it is largely this characteristic that sets humankind above lesser creatures in terms of spell ability. Two persons, firing the same wand and with the exact same spell ingredients, will not necessarily create the same effect. As before stated, this is due to the latching of the spell's magical affinities onto the innermost arcana of the caster—humans possessing a more sophisticated such inner presence than mere beasts. However, this is not to say that one man's spell cannot still be replicated by another: it may indeed be, albeit with difficulty. For one to teach another a spell of their own creation they need not only demonstrate and share the recipe but also lecture the learner in the proper manners of thought required to make the effect. One's thoughts when calling a spell are often automatic and on quite the subconscious level, and so it takes considerable training to be able to adjust this personal inclination to more match another's. That said, simpler spells can indeed be taught on a wide scale with proper discipline in the student. The most notable example of course is Calloway's Great Paling, a spell known by all defenders-of-the-convoy upon the convoys or else the standing defenders of any notable settlement. By casting the spell together at proper spacing, all such persons may combine their spell into a single large and powerful magical barrier, this being the most effective deterrent to the larger of Dorene's dangers. Of course, Calloway's Great Paling is perhaps a special example, as it is a manner of spell considered a summoning, this being a spell held by several casters, and will be addressed with more detail in the next section. For the remainder of this section, focus will remain upon the teaching and the learning of spells not of one's own make."
            —Excerpt from Principles of Spellcasting, Fifth Edition
            "Oh, I don't know, better make it a dozen," Borrix said.

            "A dozen jars?" Schmo seemed doubtful even as he pulled them out of a box behind him. "You're not about to go cuppin hydras, is ya?"

            Borrix laughed ruefully, slapping his prodigious belly. "My fat ass doesn't have any business within fifty feet of one of those things, Schmo, I'm just gonna be dipping acid out of willow wisps, and maybe catching a repeat-after-me in one of those jars."

            Schmo, who had been laying out twelve lids, swapped one of the standard flat sorts out for one that appeared more like a grate. "This'll let the little bugger breathe," he said.

            Borrix raised and eyebrow as he slipped the jars into his pack. "You're not wondering why I'm gonna catch a repeat-after-me?"

            Schmo shook his bald head, his long nose swinging from side to side. "It's generally easier for me not to know what my customers want my things for. I probably wouldn't understand anyway."

            Borrix shrugged at this. Seemed reasonable enough. "I also need a bucket, or a pail, with a lid if ya please."

            Schmo found a five-gallon one and set it on the counter. He saw Borrix was about to say that that was a tad too big but he cut him off. "If you're goin to the trouble of milking a horruchs," he said with a look that revealed he'd sold lidded buckets for very nearly no other reason, "you'd might as well get a good amount of it while you're out there."

            "Fair enough," Borrix said. "You milk em before?"

            "Pft," Schmo said, ringing up Borrix's purchase. "I like to think I've got enough sense not to crawl under a room-sized wild animal to squeeze its tits. Here, I've got a special going: buy a dozen jars, get a free canteen."

            Borrix swung by his place at the residence hall to fetch his kukri and fumble in his starterbox for some spell starters. His little four-chambered revolver wand had only recently begun really feeling like it belonged in his hand, and he was finally getting the hang of loading spells properly. The starters might be color-coded, but his sausage-like fingers and general desire to fire sooner rather than later had led to quite a few improper casts. After the last occurrence of Splashbang, he had completely stopped carrying around ingredients he didn't consider fully necessary for his work. Slime acid smelled funny, anyway.

            He settled for forty starters apiece of floatstone and bell-flower, and about twenty of all his other key ingredients, and ten apiece only for chameleon scale, hydra blood, and iridium. He looked at his neatly laid-out starter rounds and wondered a little: what if he should need eleven hydra blood starters? He scooped his selection up and into his carrying pouch and dismissed the notion as foolish. On his way out the door, however, he was unable to stop himself from taking a handful more of each ingredient and shoveling it into his pouch.

            He locked the door and chided himself. He didn't cast all that often, anyway, and he could well have been able to get away with half his original amount of each starter. On the other hand, it was generally better to be safe rather than sorry. He tromped back out through the winding halls of the residence car and set out for the docks.

            He turned one of the many labyrinthine corners and almost collided with the old woman who had turned the same way he had from another hallway meeting the intersection.

            "Pardon me," Borrix grunted, surprised: he hadn't heard her coming from the other side.

            "Oh, it's quite alright," she said, looking rather more like a bipedal woolly worm than an old lady, for all the numerous fuzzy shawls she had on. "You heading outside?"

            "Indeed I am, ma'am."

            They decided to walk together, then, for company.

            "It'll be nice to stretch the legs on some solid ground, eh?" Borrix ventured.

            "Oh yes," she said, shuffling with a thick cane and even thicker glasses. "Being cooped up on this thing all the time isn't healthy."

            "Here here!" Borrix agreed. "You got family to visit in Baybrook?"

            "Oh, no. My daughter's set up in Leywood, and my son's on Gravitas right now."

            They had reached the docks now. "Gonna go shopping then?" Borrix asked instead.

            "Not quite," she said before throwing her shawls off so they draped off her old shoulders like a many-layered cape. She stood up straighter and cracked open her cane: it was a wand. She loaded it with starters and cocked it back, smiling. "I'm thinking I can bring in some of those brutes I've been reading about. Young people these days. Well, have a good day, sonny." She walked off with every evidence of able-bodiedness as was needed, and Borrix realized now that she had on a thick adventuring boot on one foot, her other replaced with a wickedly-sharp steel ice pick that clinked against the floor as she walked out across the metal dock floor to meet with what must have been some other freelancers.

            Borrix looked after her in open surprise, and managed to close his gaping mouth abashedly. He heard the flan taunting him from its place in his gut.

            Even granny's got more oomph than you do, ha!

            "Quiet you," Borrix said to his stomach.

            "Beg pardon?" a young man said as he went by.

            Borrix cleared his throat and set out for the swamp. "Nothing."
            A Cup of Dreams, Pour in Your Soul, a Pinch of Knowing, Stir in with Hope,
            and Drink to Despair and Celebration: Drink it All and Stay Asleep, Drink in Parts and Vomit it Back
            Joy, Relief, Fury, Fear, Sorrow, Longing, and Pain, Colors that Forever Cope
            Despondency and Guilt with Ambition and Pride, No One of this World and Species may Truly Lack
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            Old February 3rd, 2017 (10:35 PM).
            gimmepie's Avatar
            gimmepie gimmepie is offline
            Join Date: May 2012
            Location: Australia
            Age: 23
            Gender: Male
            Nature: Adamant
            Posts: 18,729
            Dina Weber
            Female | Age 22 | Hungry

            Good Morning, Resilience!
            Dina awoke to the gentle rumbling sound of the Resilience’s engines and the rusty steel walls of her apartment. It wasn’t the most glorious thing to wake up to; a tiny single room with a rickety old cot bed and an old wooden table with a pair of wobbly chairs serving as the only furniture and a small bathroom through an iron door. There were no windows, only a single light bulb swinging from a cord on the ceiling, swaying lightly with the convoy’s movements providing any light. Despite its smallness and sparseness however, the grungy little room was home for Dina and it was a far sight better than the storeroom in the slums she had lived in with four other people after first being discharged from the medical bay.

            Brushing the sleep from her eyes, Dina got up and quickly dressed. She had never been one to lay around in bed doing nothing, especially on days when the convoy was going to be stopping. She had work to do, rent to pay and people to help. Dina opened the hefty door to her home and stepped out into a thin, dimly lit hall line with numerous doors identical to her own. She shut the door without bothering to lock it and headed down the labyrinth like corridors of the residential district. There was no point in locking up when you had nothing to your name worth stealing.

            To visitors to the convoy, these residential chambers were extremely confusing. Each chamber was a maze of several identical hallways and near identical rooms. Walking through just one was often problematic, especially when the numbers on the doors were often worn away to practically nothing. Navigating the district wasn’t much of a problem for Dina since she’d been with the Resilience since she was in her mid teens, but when she’d first moved from the slums into her apartment she’d found finding her way back home an absolute nightmare. Especially if she was going there from one of the further forward chambers since her home was in the very back of the residential district. The layout was practical but it proved problematic when used at such a large scale. Maybe it would have been less so if the numbers on doors were restored, but nobody seemed particularly inclined to do that.

            Dina emerged from the residential area into the market chamber not too long after setting out. This single chamber was enormous and filled with various stands and buildings: scavenger guilds, restaurants and taverns and shop. The area was already bustling with the inhabitants of the resilience going about their business in preparation for the stop at Baybrook. This was probably Dina’s favourite place in the convoy. It was always lively and filled to the brim with interesting people.

            Dina headed towards a small tavern where she usually went for breakfast. The food was of a questionable quality but it was some of the cheapest available and the company tended to be good. The young freelancer stepped through the open door into a cramped space. The few mismatched tables within were already full of other freelancers stuffing their faces and talking enthusiastically about Baybrook. The times the convoys stopped were the most profitable for freelancers and Dina had come to notice a lot of her cohorts tended to be in much higher spirits on these days despite the increased risk. She figured it was probably a similar atmosphere in every establishment serving breakfast.
            “Morning all!” Dina called into the room, over the sound of a young busker performing on what looked like some sort of homemade string instrument in the corner, hoping to collect tips. Several of the assembled people called back or gave a nod to the young woman. Her total disregard for acceptable manners and near overbearing enthusiasm had gradually become more tolerable to the establishment's patrons. Dina took a seat on a wonky stool at the counter and forked over a few coins for a bowl of something that existed in the realm between porridge and prison gruel, digging in happily despite the possibility that the meal would kill her.
            “What’s the plan for today?” a rough-looking man with a thick beard, a shiny bald head and bulging arms said to Dina from next to her. The two weren’t close but were both freelancers and often found themselves at the same table.
            “I’m thinking of checking for jobs from the mediators first today. I’m in the mood for a challenge!”

            As if the convoy had heard Dina’s enthusiasm and was eager to provide her with work, the world around her suddenly shook as the Resilience grinded to a halt suddenly. As was customary, this was met with the sound of a few people failing to grab their food or drink in time to prevent it cascading off the edge of a table and shouts of expletives. Dina was well and truly quick enough to prevent this from happening however, catching her bowl with ease and proceeding to devour the grainy substance within, suddenly in a rush.
            “I’ll be heading off then!” Dina sprinted out the room, not noticing that she accidentally knocked a man who’d just picked up what was left of his breakfast off the ground over again, causing him to once again have to pick up the mess.
            “Damnit Dina, not this muk again!”

            Spoiler: Spells List
            1. Hyper Velocity (Saltpeter, Floatstone, Hydra Blood, Pyrite) - Several small stone-like objects are dispersed in the area. Dina can move between these objects at an extremely high speed but only in a straight line.

            2. Flash Volley (Saltpeter/Darkmantle Hook, Spark Salt) - Releases several balls of light that will suddenly and rapidly brighten and expand, temporarily blinding those in the vicinity.

            3. Flare Volley (Saltpeter/Darkmantle Hook, Salamander Flower Petals) - As above but replace with small fireballs instead of flashes.

            4. Hurricane Mines (Corvis Feather, Saltpeter/Darkmantle Hook, Highstrider Fur, Pyrite) - Releases several objects that will explode into concussive wind gales after a short period of time.

            5. Air Lance (Cannae Root, Iron Barbs, Highstrider Fur) - A blast of slashing wind that impales the target. The area around the main spell has concussive effects.

            6. Storm Torpedo (Highstrider Fur, Saltpeter, Draconic Blood, Chargestone) - An emergency only trump card of Dina’s. A projectile resembling a storm cloud is launched but as it nears the target it will explode into something resembling a full-blown supercell complete with gale force winds and lightning. The expansion is so wide and forceful it can cause the user harm also.

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            Old February 6th, 2017 (1:58 PM).
            Ice Ice is offline
            Join Date: Aug 2014
            Posts: 3,450
            Discovery 1.02

            Argo Salt, The Ticking Tinker

            Morning came earlier than expected, in the form of a fist repeatedly banging against Argo’s door. With the blanket wrapped around him, he treated to his door. The watch told him it was 4:23 PM, which on his particular time-teller meant it was very very early in the morning.

            Argo slid open the little panel that covered his peep hole. Cold air poured in. Argo pressed his lips against the little round, squeezing them together. He had taken the glass out, to accommodate his personal preference. Also, he didn’t have to bend through his knees this way.

            “What?” He mumbled.

            “Open the psyduck up,” a young voice called out from the other side, and a piece of metal slammed against Argo’s lip. He backed up, and closed the peephole again. The blanket was exchanged for more acceptable clothing. He didn’t have many outfits to choose from. Style and fashion wasn’t something he particularly cared about. There were only three distinct outfits: dressed for the cold, dressed for even colder, and dressed for the coldest. Once done with changing, he carefully closed his closet. He couldn’t be too wild with his doors, as almost any form of furniture in his small house served a dual purpose, as did his closet. He didn’t need it changing function right now. The knocking started back up again, and he could hear faint swears from the other side.

            He unlocked his door, and the boy stormed in. He wore a thick vest, with a layer of cloth covering his neck. His hair was short and dyed green.

            “I’m pained to i-i-inform you about your di-diabetes, sir,” Jacques said. He blinked, but his eyes stayed closed for a little too long. Only the left opened back up. Argo opened the other himself.

            “The psyduck is the head talkin’ about?”

            Argo, in typical fashion, didn’t answer. He was a bit scared. He hadn’t expected the kid to come in or anything. He had recognized the swear, but he was still struggling with the intent behind it. In hindsight, he noted it probably was meant to show aggression, but he people weren’t consistent with the use. He could never really get the pattern behind it. There didn’t seem to be any logic. He had suspected it to be something that made things stronger, like it heightened their state of being. If someone said they were ‘psyducking dangerous,’ they were very dangerous. That whole belief came crumbling down when he heard someone say to him that he should stop ‘psyducking up.’

            He wasn’t used to have people other than him in his home, and it felt awful. It felt like sacrilege. This place was his, and his only. The fact that the kid just stormed in didn’t sit well with him. The bigger problem was that he didn’t know how to get him out now. He didn’t know what he wanted, and sure as hell wasn’t going to force him.

            “The psyduck is the head talkin’ about, man?” The boy repeated.

            Argo just shook his head. He took a deep breath and tried to regain himself.

            “I’m pained to inform you about your diabetes, sir,” Jacques repeated. He rarely said anything just the once.

            The boy inspected Jacques, tapping his iron ring against the doll head. The ring was a clear sign that the kid was involved in gang activity. Argo had never seen anyone in the slums ever wear one of the pure iron kind, besides those who were being initiated. They cooled down to below the freezing point, and the direct contact with your skin was extremely painful, apparently. The newest gang initiates were usually send out on a petty request while wearing the ring, not being allowed to take it off before they had succeeded.

            “You’re not psyducking with the Crystal Cobras man,” the kid said. His voice had a slight tremble in it, but Argo failed to attach any meaning to it. “I need you to follow me, and no psyducking questions asked, okay?”

            Argo took a second to figure out the nuances of that sentences. He was inclined to answer, but judging by the boy’s tone of voice, he suspected it wasn’t a question. He didn’t like it when people questionified their sentences. It became unclear, messy. If you didn’t expect an answer, why was there a question posed?

            “I-I can’t,” Argo said. “I already have plans today.”

            The boy stood up to Argo, pressing his against Argo’s stomach, and tried to deliver a menacing glare. It was a side-effect of Argo’s size, but eye contact generally felt very awkward. Especially the supposedly threatening kind.

            Argo turned his head to Jacques. Jacques winked, although maybe a failed blink would be a better name. Argo’s foot hooked around a lever underneath the small closet that held his various grey-tinted outfits. The gangbanger hadn’t noticed. With a violent force, the closet expanded and unfolded into a bar, revealing a huge amount of dust. Argo never really used the bar-part of his closet, but today seemed to be the exception. It slammed into the kid, and pinned his arm against the wall. Argo carefully grabbed his wand, checking his magazine for any trace of ammo. He hadn’t really checked after the magic engine stole some of his ingredients yesterday. It clicked into place as he put his wand against his temple and fired.

            Argo felt a rush shoot through his body. A vitality people didn’t experience without magical aid. He coughed a little, and almost let out a slight scream. Argo never really knew how to deal with the effects of hydra blood. It made him feel different in a way that felt disconnected. He felt that much stronger, that much more energetic, but his mind seemed to lag behind. He didn’t really get the time to think anything through before his body wanted to act. Or maybe he did, he never knew.

            He let out a breathy: “paah,” that must’ve sound awfully lame to the kid, before fluidly raising himself over the bar, and run outside. Not wanting to leave behind Jacques, however, he jumped back, grabbed the doll head, and ran outside again. The kid had loosened up his arm and started chasing him.

            Argo wasn’t an easy target to keep up with. His legs were longer than some people’s whole being, and currently enhanced by hydra blood. He bolted between the people, jumping over frozen puddles and the small creatures.

            He didn’t know where he was going, but he didn’t feel concerned with that at the moment. He’d rather just run for away from whomever had just threatened him. His location would be a matter of concern for whenever this rush wore off.

            Crystal Cobras were a gang of general up-to-no-gooders. They were a bunch that was hard to pin down. They weren’t very coordinated, to the point that it might as well just be a word for gangsters. Argo had always tried to avoid them. It’d had worked pretty well for most of his life, but today he was decisively less lucky, as three Crystal Cobra members stood guarding the main street, weapons in their hand.

            “Argo?” One of them asked casually, pointing at him with a wrench. “You’re Argo, right?”

            There was a lot of swagger in his walk. He walked up to Argo, and put his arms around his waist, jokingly.

            “I thought Beaubby was paying you a visit?”

            Argo pushed the kid’s arm away. He couldn’t be older than seventeen. A hit of the wrench to his stomach was the retaliation. Argo folded over onto the ground, and received a kick to his chin. His wand held tightly in his grasp, he fired at the kid that attacked him. The combination of ingredients was catered to flight, and a slightly more ruinous return to the ground.

            Beaubby, the boy who had visited Argo in his home had caught up. The kid next to Argo was only a few inches above the ground at the point, and Beaubby failed to notice.

            “Yo, Alain, he’s a weirdo man, we shouldn’t bother with this fu- wow wait, psyduck.”

            “Get him and get me the psyduck down, okay!” Alain yelled, as he swung his wrench around. “This gremlin should be taught.”

            Argo had recovered himself, standing straight again. He pushed Alain up, making him fly up even quicker. The wrench struck the back of his head. There wasn’t much power in the strike, but it hit him nonetheless.

            People in the streets kept to their own business. Fights happened often enough, and nobody wanted to risk themselves for some stranger. Argo moved out of the way. The three people around him didn’t make a move, Alain angrily swinging away as he kept rising.

            “Get him down, gremlin,” a Crystal Cobra girl said, shoving her friend forward to actually take care of Argo. Beaubby stayed back still, deciding not to act.

            “I-I don’t know how!” Argo yelled. The kids all shied back from hearing him almost scream. It was a common sentiment to think Argo was a mute, or retarded. He was used to people jumping when he spoke, taken aback by his voice.

            “May I advise patience?” Jacques said. The girl tried to grab the doll head from Argo’s head. He hit her nose with his elbow before she could take his friend from him. She screamed out so loud Argo might as well have split her head in half. The boy Argo hadn’t yet heard the name from grabbed his wand, shoved in Argo’s abdomen and started yelling.

            “You’re going to help him get down, or I’m going to scorch a psyducking hole through your body.”

            “I-I can’t!” Argo said, this time almost whispering. A tear started to well up in the corner of his eyes.

            “Boys!” A voice from behind him called out. “Leave the poor man alone.”

            Surprisingly, they actually left. In Argo’s experience, commanding youth like that wasn’t easy. He never really found out how to talk to people in general, but teens seemed to be an even worse group to interact with.

            He turned around to face a woman his age. Her skin was dark, most of it covered by a thick layer of jackets and scarves. Her gloves with finished with the leather of the crystal cobra.

            “I’ll tell them not to bother you anymore,” she said, her voice even sweeter than sugerfae honey. “I would like to talk with you, though. In somewhat of a more official capacity. As official as this muk gets, anyway.”

            Argo nodded, readying himself to move, but she interjected.

            “Not now. I’m someone that tends to be very busy. I’ll speak with you tomorrow, at noon. I’ll come and pick you up.”

            Argo almost opened his mouth to retort, but she was quicker. It was almost as if she wasn’t going to let him speak.

            “I’m not allowing you to disagree. If I were you I’d show up, because I’m willing of a lot scarier muk than those kids.” To accentuate the threat, she suddenly held a small double barreled wand. Argo had no clue as to where she had to hide that. As soon as his eyes lost contact with the weapon, it disappeared again.

            “I’ll make an attempt to be nice,” she said, before she walked off again. She brushed her hand against his lower arm, and waved him goodbye. Argo didn’t know how to interpret the signals. He felt his skin almost tingle where she touched him. Dirty, somehow, but it wasn’t the woman that had made him feel dirty. It was hard to put into words. As if his skin deemed him unworthy of her contact, and decided to counteract.


            The sniper-rifle wand was a shoddy tool. There was a slight shaking noise, but Argo rarely made any design that didn’t have at least a little rattle. The only important parts about sniper rifles were that the trigger worked and that there was a scope anyway. The original scope had broken off, but Argo had reattached it. Jacques had found that the barrel created a slight curve to whatever he fired, so he had to keep that in mind to, when reattaching a new visor. He had torn of half of a set of binoculars, and pushed the outer lense in a bit. It sat inside slanted inside its casing. There was still a slight deviation, but as long as Argo kept that in mind, he’d be fine. His target would have to be slightly outside of the scope’s field of view, only showing the slightest of slivers on the left side. Then he’d hit. He hoped. He hadn’t actually tested the rifle, but it’d be fine.

            It was a heavy burden on his back. He didn’t like to carry it, but it felt necessary for the moment. He saw tons of people carry weapons whenever they left the convoy, so he felt it was expected for him to do the same.

            The ruins in front of him drew a drab image. Argo wasn’t one for nature’s beauty, especially because most stuff outside the convoy had a very definite aesthetic. White, frozen, cold. Or, like these ruins, brown, filthy and covered in water. There was an old signal tower standing next to the entrance of a small villa. He didn’t know what kind of signal the tower had to send in the past, but he knew it was some sort of signal.

            As he walked into the ruined town, he felt his foot hook behind tripwire, introducing his face to the cold dirt of the road.

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            Old February 8th, 2017 (10:45 AM).
            Ech Ech is offline
              Join Date: May 2016
              Age: 99
              Gender: Other
              Nature: Quirky
              Posts: 240

              The SprayWand™ is a fantastic new product brought to you by the Wand Coporation. It allows the user to affix a special container, which can house a large amount of any magical liquid ingredient, to the bottom of the wand. The ingredient is absorbed through the thin straw extending from the gun, and mixes with the other ingredients added as the spell itself is cast. Grips are comfortable leather, and the main body of the wand is stainless steel. The liquid can be used to add an additional spell slot to every single spell of the user, allowing for versatility never seen before. The SprayWand™ is part of WandCorp's line of MagicRevolver wands.

              Though she was rather overdressed in her rather puffy frocks for a warmer environment compared to the rest of Dorene's gelid lands, Malbee was able to indulge herself in a lax stroll through the vast settlement with very little issue; her icy mien and unorthodox sense of fashion made it relatively easy to steal a few passing glances, however. Not to mention, owing to her unfortunate depiction as a youth, it was common for her to be asked where her parents were and folks would always be flabbergasted by the notion that she herself was a mother; albeit she forsaken that duty for some time now and her thoughts seldom regret the decision to abandon her former life. Instead, her attention was focused on the omnium gatherum that was firmly established in Baybrook, her eyes wandering aimlessly for anything that would serve any operative use in her tireless career. In particular, there was one swashbuckler whose voice managed to eclipse the other merchants and their stands like a tidal wave. Her interest piqued, she converged with the crowd dedicated to this dog and pony show. With a stoic expression, she merely observed.

              " For those of you wonderful interest-piqued individuals who have just joined us, we can recapitulate! " Mr. Myun began cheerily. A small, curious crowd had gathered around the salesman in the large open area of Baybrook's marketplace. He propped up his briefcase with a tripod, setting it sideways to use as a table. " Picture this, friends- you've got a fantastic hunting job from the boards, great payout, nice place, easy meat. Boom, you're living the good life! Then bam, something goes wrong- faulty equipment, bad coffee, or just plain bad luck- nobody blames you. "

              " Mistakes happen, it's human error, and we all know WandCorp can't legally turn us all into robots yet, haha. So now you're backed in a corner with monsters whose lucrative interests only include your life's termination! No weapon, no hope! What to do? WandCorp has the answer! Now for the great price of only 44.99, nothing more than a simple use of this new brainfuddlingly amazing wand from the lab boys at WandCorp! The SprayWand™! " he proclaimed, raising up a strange-looking wand to the crowd. It looked like a regular revolver for the most part, but it had a thin straw sticking out of the bottom of its pushed-in handle, and the clear WandCorp logo branded on the side.

              The neotenic lass wasn't able to get a clearer view, her petite stature always proved to be a disadvantage when she found herself among the back seats of an audience; she could only make out a small part of the spokesperson's graying peak as well as a snippet of his prized product. Thankfully, her ears were not obstructed by the same issue and listening was rarely an overtaxing task save for those who had more teeth than functional brain cells. This unveiling of a new wand provoked Malbee to examine her own arms at hand. It was an older model which was customized to load in larger spell starters -- six in total, giving her additional ammunition in a firefight. But because her wand predated current editions, she was incapable of automatically switching spells on a whim and must manually rotate each chamber around to select the appropriate spell. None of the chambers were labeled either, meaning she had to develop a habit of memorizing the containment of each individual chamber less she wanted to cause an incident that could lead into severe injuries, or even worse abash her in public. The price tagged wasn't anything too alarming; though she relied on bounties or selling useless artifacts for her rent aboard the Resilience, Malbee still kept a certain amount of her savings from when she was still a luxurious resident of Hightown. This sum allowed her to purchase any ornate trinkets that most who share her current level of income couldn't possibly obtain through legal means. Observing the settlers and travelers who flocked towards this one person, she didn't see any serious competition and thus her thick wallet was readied for an uncontested bid. Of course, she needed to know for certain that what was being presented even had any bearings or relevance to her interests. Rather abrasively, she shoved through the ocean of dirty commoners and drudges so she could properly greet this merchant's face.

              "With this ingenious invention, you can include any liquid-based ingredient into any of your spells with the simple pull of a trigger! All one has to do is take a licensed WandCorp Btottle™ (sold separately) and screw it right onto the bottom of the wand, to include the contained ingredient in all of your future spell-casting endeavors!" he said, pulling out a small, cylindrical flask from his suitcase. "Draconic Blood! Slime residue! Stirge Venom! Anything which you can (but shouldn't) drink can be used with the SprayWand™! But don't take my word for it, take WandCorp's!" he called.*

              Malbee peeked her head out between two older looking men; though both were packing a superfluous amount of fat, their nigh-viscous forms made it both easy to slip through and provided a surprising amount of comfort for the little lady. The rancid stench she did not care for, so she immediately popped out and startled the two obese observers with her assertive presence. She was finally able to get a clearer look and began scrutinizing this seemingly debonair gentleman immediately. Though his vigorous oration said otherwise, this spiffy salesman was indeed that of an old man. Though he was evidently tattered by age, he was not at all decrepit; if anything, it felt as though his ripen attributes were accentuated by his ripened exterior. He looked like a fine specimen had it not been for that sham smile of his. She always viewed that gesture as irksome as it felt fruitless; a facade conjured by weak-willed individuals in order to delude others or even themselves.

              The salesman reached into his briefcase, quickly pulling out three flasks, a moving toy figurine, and a pair of goggles. He put on the goggles, and screwed the first dark blue flask onto the wand. " Strige Venom and Cannae Root, boom! " he called, placing the figurine on the ground and pulling the trigger. The magic sprayed itself onto the figurine. It stopped moving, and the crowd let out a series of interested murmurs. He then unscrewed the red bottle, and replaced it with the green one. " Slime residue! " he exclaimed. The wand let out a powerful spray of acid, splashing onto the toy and slightly melting the plastic. " Finally, if we mix them all together... " he took the first two flasks, and poured them into a third clear flask. " Don't try this at home! Add some saltpeter and draconic blood, and... " he picked up the melted figure and tossed it into the air, before firing a blast of magic. The toy exploded into tiny plastic pieces as the crowd around him clapped excitedly.

              Malbee was rather irked by the arbitrary ovation; was this just some frivolous performance act and not an earnest attempt at business? The product itself seemed almost childish in its design, and Malbee failed to see what invoked such a thunderous reaction. This wand was merely a toy given its scope and capabilities, or at the very least it paled in comparison to her own. She couldn't help holding in a scoff which was accompanied by her eyes rolling to the side. Still, she decided to stay; perhaps there was a slight chance this fawning hustler could capriciously pull out a spectacle from the olden days, and provide something that felt more competent.

              Mr. Myun took off his goggles and replaced them in his bag. " You can see the baffling capabilities of the SprayWand™! Monsters, ruffians, dirty dishes, this wand can be used for anything you'd like! And if you purchase within 20 minutes from now, you'll get your own free packed-in Btottle™! Because at WandCorp, we make your magic needs come true- for money! "

              " Oh, so you're one of those con artists, aren't you? " she boldly proclaimed, having a no-holds barred on being loud about denouncing this barterer's good intentions to the crowd, " Do you think that exaggerated expression is actually going to fool anyone here in purchasing that contraption of yours? Perhaps you may have had a chance of fooling these poor and unfortunate rift-rafts, but your duplicitous wordplay doesn't mean a thing to me. "

              The salesman smiled politely, allowing the rather miffed woman to finish her sentence before nodding knowingly. " Why, madam, WandCorp thanks you very much for your concern! We can assure you thousands of times over that any product licensed and offered by our organization has a quasi-legal guarantee! If you, or anyone else for that matter, finds any grievances with the SprayWand™ in their first three months of use, they will be receiving a brand new, limited edition ApologyWand™ free of charge! " he retorted. " In addition, this young lady reminds me... As this is WandCorp's fifteenth anniversary of visiting Baybrook, I am pleased to announce all customers present at this very moment will receive 15% off all WandCorp wands and ingredients, as of right now! " he announced. The crowd clapped excitedly.

              Malbee gnashed her teeth after being tinged with frustration, though her phlegmatic countenance seemingly refused to convey any genuine emotion. Though she would normally retort with some sassy remark in an attempt to elongate her argument just to regain some composure, Malbee was abruptly shoved aside by the thunderous cheers of a hungry crowd of Beuabbies that were shamelessly seduced by the whims of this wily shark. If only for the briefest of moments, her visage managed to convey fluster as she pouted and puffed out her cheeks like an upset child. Amidst her agitation, she hadn't realized her feet was dragging her diminutive form away from the scene and trotted towards more important matters.

              * Note: WandCorp is not legally responsible for any beliefs of said 'word' held by the customer.

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              Old February 8th, 2017 (5:18 PM).
              Orx of Twinleaf's Avatar
              Orx of Twinleaf Orx of Twinleaf is offline
              Branch into Psyche
                Join Date: Mar 2016
                Location: The Corner of Hither and Yon
                Gender: Male
                Nature: Lonely
                Posts: 228
                Borrix Toroflung

                The bully, the rattata, and the bandit

                The three or four flying rabbits that had been grazing took sudden and fevered flight as Borrix abruptly shimmered back into sight, his spell timing out. Borrix watched their little, flapping, white forms disappear into a stand of trees and opened his wand, knocking out the scant remains of the spent cartridges and fishing after more. Casting Disappear took a chameleon scale starter, a breezeswoop feather starter, and a nowznummer bulb starter, and the first and third of those were things he didn't tend to carry in any large capacity. He had already spent three casts out in these marshlands in the hopes of sneaking upon a group of repeat-after-mes so he could snag one and mark that off his list. So far however, and besides lately scaring up a few flying rabbits, Borrix had succeeded only in scattering a mischief of mouseticores and pissing off a snoozing groundhawk that had needed several heavy blows of the boot to be persuaded to back off.

                He loaded his wand and pointed it at his stomach again. Disappear lasted a respectable enough time, maybe ten minutes or so, but at this rate he'd be out of chameleon scale and nowzummer bulb starters in an hour. "Might as well keep at it, I suppose."

                "I suppose I suppose!" came a crude and piping voice from nearby, as if a child were mocking him. Despite knowing better, Borrix had never been able to simply not turn his head to look at where the voice came from. No sooner had he done so than he felt a sharp and wet pain in his neck.

                He clapped a big hand onto his neck, but failed to catch anything there. "Motherpsyduck!"

                "Motherpsyduck motherpsyduck!" This time Borrix pointedly ignored the chirping voice and got his backpack off to fumble in it for the jar with a grate-style lid. There was a little bit of blood trickling off his neck. He hated repeat-after-mes, not just because they bit so hard, but because he always felt like an idiot being fooled by them. "Motherpsyduck!" it said again. Borrix holstered his wand.

                "Pooky-pooky-pooky," Borrix gibbered.

                "Pooky-pooky-pooky," the thing parroted, over and over, so that as Borrix took one ginger step after another he could move closer and closer to it, even with his back to it.

                Finally, he whirled about with the jar open and out, but missed the darting pinkish shape that ducked under his swing and pinched him through his sleeve. It left his sight again, still repeating the gibberish. It had been something Borrix had been taught as a child, to avoid being bitten: give them something long to repeat over so you can tell where they are and you can walk around them. Unfortunately, no one had told him how to catch one.

                He put the jar down with his back to the chattering thing and unloaded his wand back into his starter pouch, loading a single iridium starter this time. "Pooky-pooky-pooky," it was still crying incessentantly. He picked the jar back up, holding the lid in a pair of the fingers wrapped about its glass shape. He clutched the wand in the other hand. "Pooky-pooky-pooky."

                Borrix pointed the wand behind him and pulled the trigger before dropping it and holding the jar's mouth with both hands at where the wand had just fired from. There was a rushing sound as a gust of focused air blew into the jar and then back out the way it came, pushing against Borrix's grip. Suddenly, something pink and annoying clacked into the jar, forced up against the bottom by the onrush of air. Borrix clapped the special lid over the mouth of the jar and tightened it. "Gotcha, you son of a rattata."

                Borrix held it up to his face to look at it more clearly: it was a spindly stickman thing, pink but translucent, such that he could see dark shapes in its limbs and abdomen that he supposed were its innards. Its insectile wings fluttered insultedly as it turned its face to his. It had a pair of tiny, soulless, black beads for eyes, flanking a needle-ringed gaping hole that puckered and gaped as its jointed spike-like hands tinked against the jar angrily. "Rattata!" it called, audible through the holes in the lid.

                "What the hell Jroo wants with you I'm sure I don't have the slightest idea. I'd just as soon squash you. If it were up to me, you'd be dead, pal." Borrix looked around some more and picked his wand back up, knocking out the spent starter. It had fallen onto the soft marshy ground, and seemed to be perfectly fine. Borrix knew that repeat-after-mes had a tendency to fly in groups at night, but had rather expected the same to be true for day-flying. "Guess, you've been left all alone, huh?" he said to his prisoner.

                The repeat-after-me chattered an angry and random jumble made up of the words Borrix had said to it in the last minute or so, along with liberal application of "pooky." It continued jabbering at him as he carefully tied a cord around the jar's neck and laced it through one of the belt loops on his pants. As he finished tying the knot, though, he involuntarily caught an uncanny string of words from the evil pixie: "I suppose—pooky—wife—left—you—all alone—rattata—you—pooky—might as well—be dead, pal—!"

                He stopped and scowled at the ground for a moment while the repeat-after-me continued on its nonsensical tirade. He loaded his wand with a breezeswoop feather starter and three floatstone starters and shot the jar on his waist with it, muting the repeat-after-me's words, even though its grotesque mouth still writhed and it was still banging the wall of its prison with its little hands. He shook out the spent starters and happened to look down: there were now eight spent cases at his feet. He decided it had been a good move after all to have brought so many starters.

                He dug in his pocket for his list and a pen and crossed off "repeat-after-me." He tapped his pen on the "willow wisp acid" entry thoughtfully and checked the sun: still plenty of day left. That said, though, he hadn't seen a willow wisp all day, although he had mistaken no fewer than six torchlight frogs for them. That both species had some sort of ball light thing, coupled with Borrix having never actually seen a willow wisp in person, had led him to punt the sixth such torchlight frog in frustration. He supposed that that had perhaps been a tad mean, but the thing had seemed only mildly dazed as it worked its way out of the muck on the opposite side of the water, likely puzzled at having been kicked by an invisible force.

                "Well," he said, talking to the repeat-after-me despite its inability to respond or even presently make noise, "let's go find ourselves some willow wisps." He looked at his prisoner: it had given up on knocking at the jar and had sat down with its sharp legs drawn up to its thin chest, staring at him censoriously. It bothered Borrix, but only a little. He looked away from it and started walking. "Just for that nasty look you gave me, I'm gonna call you 'Psyduckface,' Psyduckface."

                "If indeed there were motile plants before the Freeze, they are generally understood to have been in much fewer numbers and of much lesser variety. Since Dorene has been saturated by the lingering magics of the Yog-ganth, and general biodiversity skyrocketed, motile plants have become more common. That they can achieve ambulation without the use of a musculature applied to joints continues to befuddle biologists, but it has since been discovered that the vast majority of motile plants are capable of casting a unique spell termed Mobilize that assists a complex series of adapted basts and hydraulic sacs that allow the plant to move its stem, leaves, and roots. While all observed motile plants have this movement inherent in their roots (or root analogs (see: Phytopod Ambulation)), not all species can move their leaves, stems, or other parts. Mobilize is a strictly bestial spell, and humans have not been able to replicate it. Even with this magical assistance, it takes a plant significantly more energy to move than an analogous animal and motile plants either only move infrequently and in a patterned manner (such as with the willow wisp, Grimbald's noosevine, and other passive hunters) or else must be constantly eating (such as with the horse radish, veterum-malumflos, and other such thick-bodied plants). Of especial note are the woody motile plants. Despite often being able to move only their roots, such species as the gorepine and green giant pack as much force and more of muscular animals of equal size."
                —Excerpt from Phytoteny, Volume Three: Motile Plants
                Borrix wandered through the swamp idly for about twenty minutes before scaring up another small flock of flying rabbits. The groundhawk that had been poised to strike at the flock gave him an offended look that reminded him he wasn't cloaked. He apologized to its screeching admonitions as it skulked off into the underbrush. Borrix took his wand out and started loading it for another cast of Disappear as he came onto another stand of trees.

                Looking forward, he saw a standing plant with two broad leaves at its base go shuffling slowly but with a purpose towards a small swampy pool. It had a huge pitcher, taller than Borrix was by half, and of bright blues and purples. Something was struggling in its base, pushing the sides out occasionally. Borrix recognized the sound of a groundhawk coming from inside the pitcher. It was a willow wisp, with a fresh catch.

                He holstered his wand and got a jar out, stepping up to the big plant and trying to get it to bend down for him. It stopped when he came upon it and slapped at him lightly with its leaves, agitated by his intrusion. Borrix finally gave up and let it walk the rest of the way to the pond, where it buried its roots and stopped moving, having reduced its height by a foot and more. Borrix still couldn't quite reach over the lip of the pitcher though, and had to resort to pulling over a great, mossy rock to climb on.

                "Hot damn, that's nasty," he said as he peered over into it at the half-melted groundhawk inside, still moving weakly.

                "Nasty, nasty," the repeat-after-me agreed, its muting spell having just worn off.

                Borrix made sure his gloves were on good before touching the mouth of the jar to the side of the pitcher, deeper in. The willow wisp didn't seem to mind, and indeed the walls of its pitcher just started to obligingly ooze acid more freely. In only a moment, Borrix was able to pull back a full jar of the softly-green stuff and put a lid on it.

                He gathered three more jars in this fashion, before the repeat-after-me asked him a question. Borrix answered easily, "I need to fill a few more." And then he realized that the repeat-after-me wouldn't have asked him a question.

                He poked his head up and saw a truly filthy man standing on the other side of the pond, dressed in ragged coats and with a bayoneted rifle-type wand, and looking at him incredulously. "Ye," he said, his voice gnarled and brutish, "but why does you need it?"

                Borrix closed up his latest jar before bringing his hands out of the pitcher to address the stranger more directly. "You can use it to clean metal," Borrix said,repeating what Jroo had told him.

                The man blinked pale eyes and scratched at ratty hair. His teeth were badly-yellowed and crooked, and his nose looked like it had been broken. He had a terrible case of cauliflower ear on his left side. "Pokin yer head in a willow wisp fer ta clean metal, you ain't right." He loaded a starter into his wand and aimed it at Borrix. "Well, okey, gimme yer money den."

                Borrix was inclined to ask the fellow to repeat his bumpkinized words, wiping his gloves off on his pants and using the movement to disguise his hand unholstering his own wand. This fellow was evidently a bandit, Borrix had heard of them being in the marshland. Still, this guy was at least two decades younger than Borrix, and he wasn't about to be cowed by some young upstart.

                The bandit rolled his eyes and repeated his request, agitated, like he was talking to a deaf old man. "Yer money," he said slowly. Psyduckface piped up on Borrix's hip, chattering this phrase as if with some demonic purpose. The bandit lowered his wand to stare and say "What the psyduck?" as Borrix shot himself with his wand and blinked out of sight with Disappear.

                The bandit cursed and fired a sharp cutting shot at where Borrix had been, but it smacked into a tree as Borrix dodged away from it, his movements and his prisoner's chattering concealed by the magic. As the bandit loaded another spell and darted his buggy eyes around, Borrix came up behind him and loaded three more starters: sulphur, floatstone, and finally the most important ingredient, hydra blood.

                Borrix shot himself with his spell as Disappear shimmered away to yield to the new spell coming over him. Borrix doubled in size behind the bandit, the repeat-after-me's cry of "The psyduck?" announcing his presence. The bandit whirled around and caught Borrix's angry knee in his chest. The man's wand clattered off into the muck as he sputtered and flailed back from the giant hunter pressing down on him.

                Borrix picked the man up with one chest-sized hand closed on his legs and held him up to his bearded face, scowling. The bandit was screaming wildly, Psyduckface mimicking him tauntingly. "Didn't anyone tell you to respect your elders, boy?" Borrix roared.

                He stomped back over to the willow wisp, which was sitting placidly, blind to the world. Borrix looked at the bandit. The bandit looked at Borrix. Psyduckface screamed.

                "N-No, don't!" the bandit stammered. "Don't do it!"

                "Do it do it!" the repeat-after-me demanded.

                Borrix dunked the hapless young man in the willow wisp like a bully giving a swirly to an undersized freshman. He held him upside-down in the reeking melted flesh mush in the bottom of the pitcher, brought him out again to hear him sputter, and dunked him again. The acid wasn't fatal, of course. Borrix's leather gloves had been enough to keep it off him when he had been collecting it, so it wasn't immediately deadly. Still, the bandit's face was swollen and red with acid burns, and his dignity was likely left in the liquified groundhawk corpse in the bottom of the pitcher.

                The willow wisp finally slapped at his leg with its leaf, grown weary of the rough flailing the bandit was directing at the walls of its pitcher as he was dunked, and Borrix repented and tossed the crying man into the shallow pond. The man's eyes were red with burns and tears, and he coughed hard before cowering as Borrix stood over him again. "H-Holy muk, man," he whimpered. "Take whatever you want, please, l-let me go, I—"

                "Yer money, yer money," the repeat-after-me cried evilly.

                The bandit, either from fear or pain, didn't have enough sense to realize that a mindless pixie had issued that order and not Borrix. He was fumbling for his coinpurse and Borrix had to noisily clear his throat to get his attention proper.

                "All your weapons in the plant," Borrix said.

                The bandit went over to the willow wisp and tossed a number of knives over the side into the pitcher. It slapped at him in agitation, not appreciating this indigestible gift. Borrix picked up the bandit's wand and clubbed him in the back of the head with the butt of it, like it were no more than a fancy club. "All your weapons!" the repeat-after-me chided.

                The bandit fished out two more blades and some sort of knuckleduster and threw them in as well. Borrix dropped the bandit's wand in as his spell wore off and he returned to normal size. The bandit immediately tried to bolt but Borrix drew his kukri and flung it like a hatchet. It buried itself in the man's calf and he fell, screaming.

                The repeat-after-me mocked him as Borrix caught up with the fallen bandit. "Shut up, Psyduckface," Borrix said sternly.

                "What ...?" the bandit asked, confused.

                "Wasn't talking to you." Borrix yanked his kukri free and started loading his wand. "Here's how this is gonna work, pal. You're gonna help me finish what I'm doing out here and then you're coming with me back to the Resilience. And if you bolt again, I'm taking this leg off, get me?" Borrix loaded his wand and fired it at the man's wounded leg. A stony cast closed around the calf like something between a bandage and a shackle. It was Stony Hug, one of the few spells Borrix had actually mixed up of his own accord, and it would help keep the leg proper while they were out here.

                The bandit looked even uglier than he had been earlier, after his acid-swirly. He sneered at Borrix and then almost immediately flinched away as Borrix glared back. Even without magic, Borrix outweighed the slim man by half again. The bandit licked his lips nervously. "Is ya gonna turn me in?" he asked.

                Borrix wiped off his kukri and sheathed it before helping the man to his feet. "That depends on how helpful you are while I'm out here." He held out his big hand. "Name's Borrix."

                The bandit frowned but shook anyway. "I'm Quosid."

                The repeat-after-me interjected with its own introduction of sorts. "Psyduckface!"

                Quosid looked at it doubtfully. "Wazzat fer, anyway?"

                Borrix handed him an empty jar and led him back to the willow wisp. "Your guess is as good as mine."
                A Cup of Dreams, Pour in Your Soul, a Pinch of Knowing, Stir in with Hope,
                and Drink to Despair and Celebration: Drink it All and Stay Asleep, Drink in Parts and Vomit it Back
                Joy, Relief, Fury, Fear, Sorrow, Longing, and Pain, Colors that Forever Cope
                Despondency and Guilt with Ambition and Pride, No One of this World and Species may Truly Lack
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                  #11   Link to this post, but load the entire thread.  
                Old February 15th, 2017 (9:41 PM).
                PastelPhoenix's Avatar
                PastelPhoenix PastelPhoenix is offline
                A Princely Birb
                  Join Date: Mar 2016
                  Age: 24
                  Gender: Male
                  Nature: Brave
                  Posts: 387
                  Somewhat roughly shoving her way past a couple of workers, Jacqueline made her way out of the evening Market Town crowd and into the hallway leading to the Vehicle Bay. Taking a moment to (metaphorically) catch her breath, she straightened out her dress and head scarf. As much as she hated having to readjust it every time she walked through the market, it was still preferable to nothing. Everything would be much easier if anyone could find a suitable headplate that included hair, but all the ones that have been dug up have either been the cheap painted hair, or in awful shape from the years in the ruins

                  Now comfortable in appearance, she strode through the open space of the compartment, the dull clangs of metal workers hammering off in the distance. She worked her way down the familiar path towards the Bygone Church, probably the largest of the constructed buildings in the compartment. A few mediators on patrol left one of the smaller junk stores, pausing long enough to give a courteous nod of acknowledgement to the secretary before continuing on their path, chattering away. The sudden cleanliness of the walls meant she was nearly at the church itself, peeling paint and the occasional obscene graffiti tag giving way to fresh coats and insignias. She found it kind of funny how so many people felt uneasy around the church, when it was probably one of the cleanest places on the entire Convoy. People were probably just too used to seeing the dirt and grime everywhere.

                  Finally outside her destination, the doll paused for a moment to read over the request board. While she hated having to use some memorization space on the bounty board, Freelancers did like to brag about unique pieces of old world tech they found and sending them with necessary parts to the church was her own small form of charity. She closed her eyes a moment to sort the little memory snippets of each request, moving them to a segment that would bring back up the memories if someone around her mentioned the parts by name or description. After reassigning a few more memories while she was making the effort, she opened her eyes just in time to see a mess of red hair leaving the church itself, face almost invisible behind the tower of boxes in their arms.

                  “Need some help with that, Tempie?” Jacqueline offered to the woman, grabbing the door beside her.

                  “Jacqueline?” A small voice inquired from behind the carried stack, “I’ve got this, don’t worry about me. Brother Arun was looking for you, I wouldn’t want to keep him waiting.”

                  “Are you sure? I’m already kind of late as it is, and that does look pretty heavy.”

                  “No no,” the sister protested, starting to disengage from the conversation, “it’s only to the stand outside. Plus I’m strong enough for this, wouldn’t be useful around here if I couldn’t handle at least this.”

                  With an unsure “okay”, Jacqueline left the woman to her work, feeling uncomfortable about the rejection of her help. Closing the door behind her, she followed the familiar halls to one of the back offices. The church felt homely, how she imagined visiting the house a normal person grew up in felt. Pristine halls and large murals felt right, even her own apartment couldn’t emulate this feeling. Stopping outside Brother Arun’s office, she paused for a moment before announcing her presence. She really appreciated Arun, but he was a little overbearing.

                  “I’m here,” she announced while entering the room, “you wanted to see me?”

                  She strode in with a purpose, taking a seat in front of his paper-littered desk. Arun looked up for a brief second to acknowledge her presence before moving a small stack of what appeared to be archive records into a drawer on his desk. He was a handsome man, his well groomed hair contrasting with his stubble. Jacqueline couldn’t help but notice the gray hairs and slight bags under his eyes, it seems like adjusting to his new role was causing its fair share of stress.

                  “I’d offer you a seat,” he started with a roguish smile, “but it seems you’ve already found it. So tell me, how have you been?

                  “Fine,” Jacqueline replied with a small huff, “my shoulder joint is acting up again, but you already know that. Nothing major, I’ve just swapped writing hands and don’t even notice it now.” Noncommittal responses were best with Arun, he’d try and turn every little problem into a major mechanical issue.

                  “We’re keeping an eye out for a good replacement. Now, I hope you’ve been avoiding spellcasting?”

                  Yes, I’ve been trying. People are such idiots though.”

                  The smile faded from the Brother’s face, and his usual look of concern returned. “I really wish you’d learn to ignore them. I don’t like the stress it puts on your storages, I fear it could start leaking if we can’t get more sealant to reinforce it.”

                  “I know, I know,” she muttered, mentally kicking herself for setting him off, “but I’m this close to just arrowing the next moron who asks his friend if he thinks they made me realistic under the dress, like I couldn’t hear him whispering. They obviously don’t learn from me just levitating them. Now, can we cut the muk and get to why you called me here?”

                  Adopting his smile again with an “ah, of course” as if he had forgotten that he even requested meeting himself, Arun motioned for Jacqueline to follow him. Thankfully he understood bluntness, and his health questions could be cut short by reminding him of business. Grabbing his key from the desk, the two left the main office and headed towards Arun’s personal archive further back.

                  Shelves of old parts and dusty appliances littered the floor space, seemingly without rhyme or reason. Arun stopped at a locked cabinet next to a box of stripped right doll arms; it seems he was actually searching for a good replacement for her joint all along. Peeking over his shoulder, Jacqueline could see a wide variety of ornate wooden boxes, each labeled with a variety of symbols the church used to archive. Finally pulling out a deceptively simple box, Arun closed and locked the cabinet behind him.

                  “Let’s open it here,” he suggested, “less chance anyone walks in on us.” With a light in his eyes, he opened the box to reveal a fist-sized quartz crystal, a doll’s memory core.

                  “I guess you want me to transcribe the memories on this? Hand it here.”

                  Taking the crystal in her hands, she turned gave it a quick look over for damage. Satisfied it wouldn’t break the second she connected with it, she clutched it in her hand and sent a small probe of magic into it. A flood of anger washed over her as soon as the magic connected, and she reflexively withdrew the probe.

                  “Where the hell did you get this?” She demanded, having to focus on not throwing the crystal in disgust as soon as she left the memoryscape. “This thing is littered with negativity and locked up tight. Whoever this was seems to have been very messed up in the head.”

                  “I was afraid of this,” Arun admitted, looking down at the floor, “truthfully, this came from Cattacin.” Jacqueline recoiled a little at the name, now wanting to throw the core away more than ever.

                  “God damn it, just warn me about this kind of thing first.” She huffed, calming herself down. “I trust you wouldn’t, but for all I know, this thing could be malevolent in some way. You suspect this has important information related to the attack there, or something?”

                  Another look of concern crossed Arun’s face, and Jacqueline hoped it was only related to abusing her respect of him. Still, the look didn’t inspire confidence.

                  “You know how I mentioned that you had a pretty atypical design when we activated you?”


                  “Well,” he continued, “the doll we found this in was similar, although not exact, to your composition. In fact, it looked almost human. We’re hoping it might have information related not only to what happened with the invaders, but potentially clues on who made you. I didn’t want to get you involved, given the circumstances, but the tools we have for deciphering memory cores just aren’t working on it.”

                  “And so you think a functional doll might be able to figure it out.” She stated with a sigh, cutting him off. “I guess I’ll do it. Just, give me time. Even from the short time I spent in there, well, I could tell it was a mess. No real compartmentalization of memories, nor any other kind of organization. I’ll have to crack one of the memories and follow the connections to the others one by one.”

                  “That I was afraid of that. Please, take as much time as you need. It’s a heavy subject after all.”

                  “Just know you owe me after this. Not even a brand new shoulder joint will do.”

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                    #12   Link to this post, but load the entire thread.  
                  Old February 18th, 2017 (10:36 AM).
                  Ice Ice is offline
                  Join Date: Aug 2014
                  Posts: 3,450
                  Discovery 1.03

                  Argo Salt, The Ticking Tinker

                  Frozen dirt had a certain consistency that made it ideal for making your face hurt after falling onto it. It scraped and bruised because it was so hard, but it also almost bit because it was so cold. Luckily Argo’s face had been covered by multiple scarfs, so he didn’t feel much of it, except for his nose. Sometimes, it was almost as if his nose attracted harm to it. As if any attack, any fall, was purely focused on damaging his nose. He had broken it a good fifteen times already, if it wasn’t more. He stopped counting after fifteen, but he also stopped trying to remember if it happened at all.

                  Nobody was alerted by the tripwire, except a crystalline spider. Argo had seen them on the Convoy. Harmless creatures, but unsettling nonetheless. This one was a lot bigger than the ones he had seen before though. It crawled along the tripwire with ease. It almost looked as if the bug was floating, crawling through the air itself, as the tripwire only revealed itself with short shimmers.

                  Argo stood up again, rubbing his nose.

                  “Nothing to worry about, sir,” Jacques commented. Argo nodded to himself, not really sure what to do. The tripwire surely had to active something, right? Alert someone? He hadn’t encountered tripwire much, but he knew it had a purpose. It had to do something, otherwise it was useless. Why would someone do something useless?

                  As he stood still, more crystalline spiders appeared, again seemingly floating. The road was filled with tripwires. The bugs quickly scurried away as Argo started moving again. With each and every step he awkwardly moved his arms up and down, and his legs around, to feel for tripwire. He was sure to find one with every move he made. He had maneuvered through around six of them when he heard a revving coming from behind him.

                  The machination was a small shuttle, with thin robotic chicken legs as support underneath. In it sat a small person donned in a lot of wool and some goggles. It raced at such a pace that it was hard to follow with one’s eyes.

                  As the machine came into contact with the first tripwire, it suddenly became very clear to Argo what the purpose of them was.

                  The slices of robot were neat. The slices of man were a bit more messy, as whatever was contained within found its way out. Argo averted his eyes.

                  A bunch of snaps and whooshes erupted around him as the tripwires retracted. A man holding a big barreled weapon appeared from inside one of the buildings and headed towards the mine. Argo ignored him, waiting for a while. He didn’t like contact with people, and people that had just killed someone without hesitation strengthened that conviction.

                  Argo continued on with walking, having lost the tripwire man from his sight. The ruins were barren, desolated. There was an absence of anything alive, bar the spiders. A smokestack arose from behind a hill, drawing the image of desolate clouds, not welcomed by the others.

                  More people were present by the entrance of a mine. Argo kept out of sight. He had learned long ago that he had awesome difficulty with reading intent, and that it was better to always assume bad.

                  On the side of his sniper rifle, a small light flared up. He had installed a meter that picked up on magic conversion. The mine was either his goal, or something sufficiently magical enough to be on par with the generator. It was the option that was most nearby, so it was the path Argo’d take.

                  It was a group of five men, sitting on crates lined with a thick fur coat. One of them was trying to start a fire by rasping some stones against each other above dried pulp. Another one was skinning a flying rabbit.

                  Argo didn’t plan on meeting them, figuring out who or what he was dealing with. He’d rather just pass them without them noticing at all. The sniper rifle on his back offered a nice out. A high vantage point was all he needed.

                  Inspecting the backsides of the buildings, Argo struggled to find anything that let him reach a rooftop. There was rarely anything that let him enter a building with being noticed, and the buildings didn’t present any stairs to him either. Most of them had started to crumble, showing themselves throughout various states of decay. The most useful building was one that was layered, each floor being slightly smaller than the last one, and standing at a only thirty feet tall. It didn’t have any extensions intended to help someone up, but the crumblings of the wall had created a canvas full of protruding stone and dents.

                  The material was brittle, the cold having eaten away at it from the inside. Water and moisture would’ve broken it up, leaving little of it in good state. It made it so Argo could dig his feet in, almost. Just wiggle it a little, create the slightest hint of a better support.

                  If he would’ve jumped, he could’ve reached the first edge. It was pulling himself up that was the real problem. Gear and clothing bore him down. Protecting yourself from the cold could double your weight.

                  His hands didn’t offer him much grip, as the thick layers of cloth gloves made grabbing anything difficult. He couldn’t take them off, or his hands would die off of frostbite. He didn’t like the idea of having his hands being amputated, as they were one of the few parts about himself he deemed useful.

                  He inched his way up, spreading his arms and legs thin across the wall. The supports weren’t neatly placed. The wall hadn’t broken down with the idea in mind that someone was going to climb it afterwards.

                  He almost fell to the ground as the piece of rubble he was holding on to decided to tear itself loose from the wall. He quickly grabbed the edge of the first layer of roof, hurting his arm in the process. He felt his muscle succumbing to tension. It didn’t tear, but it felt like it wanted to.

                  Digging his fingers into a small dent allowed him to reach the first layer of rooftop. The group of men revealed a sixth and seventh figure to him. He almost felt like he made eye contact with one of them, but they seemed to ignore him.

                  The top of the building allowed for slight cover if Argo laid down, letting him peak the barrel of his sniper through an indent. Now, what spell to use, and what to hit.

                  Argo had four spells with him ready to use. He hadn’t loaded a round of his enhancement spell into his sniper rifle though. He found it difficult to aim his sniper rifle at himself.

                  “I regret to inform you of your impending liver failure,” Jacques shouted towards the group. At once, all their heads turned to Argo. A bolt of magic struck the building underneath, crumbling it down.

                  Argo quickly unleashed three shots with his sniper, not aiming anywhere in particular. It was mainly a panic shot. Mist started to pour over the area, shrouding his enemies.Out of the mist, one of them started to rise up, kicking his legs furiously.

                  “I’m blind! I’m deaf! I’m dead, I’m dying, psyduck, psyduck, psyduck,” another voice exclaimed from the mist.

                  Another shot struck the building Argo was hiding upon, taking a bite out of the structure. The ground suddenly seemed closer than it should be, as Argo was taken down with the collapsing building.

                  The upside of wearing twelve layers of wool was that falling became a way less painful activity. It even had left his nose intact. The sniper rifle had landed underneath the rubble though.

                  Placing his wand against his head, Argo fired, flaring himself up with energy. He threw some rubble aside, only to be tackled by one of his opponents. They crashed into a wall leaving a very small amount of it intact. Argo quickly fired his wand, leaving his attacker to float up too. He felt a sudden flare of heat in his back, and felt his clothing being singed off. The flame flickered off before it had done any real damage, but there was a clear hole in the wool on his backside.

                  Argo started running, jumping over the remainder of the wall, pushing aside those in his way. Another magic bolt flew past him, digging a big hole into the ground. He leaped over the fur lined crate, almost landing in the mine entrance already. He took another leap, as yet another attack came for him. A slash of wind hit him in mid-air pushing him down.

                  The entrance was mainly a staircase, and Argo tumbled down it. There wasn’t anything to slow him down, break his fall. He just kept on rolling for what felt like a good couple of minutes. Only when he crashed into someone did his descent stop.

                  The man, dressed in the small style of clothing those outside wore, fell forward, allowing a thin thread of tripwire to dig its way into his head.

                  Argo stood up, averting his eyes.

                  “I regret to inform you of internal bleeding in the brain. I inquire you to seek contact with a doctor,” Jacques said.

                  Blood shimmered in an odd way under the light of the lanterns. The red tripwires created a drab visage in the mineshaft. He could see a spider skittering over the line, before being pierced by the tail of a mousticore. The small rodent flew pasts Argo, grazing him with its wing.

                  Argo carefully climbed through the wire, again feeling out before him. There were more crystalline spiders here, though, showing him where the wires were.

                  He locked eyes with a man at the end of the staircase. The same man that he had seen near the other set of tripwire. He was clad in black, a hint of red in his outfit. There wasn’t any skin shown.

                  He grabbed the tripwire gun from his back, and the tread behind Argo started to retract, knocking into his back. As the last step hit Argo, four wires pierced his clothing and nailed him to the ground.

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                    #13   Link to this post, but load the entire thread.  
                  Old February 26th, 2017 (9:12 PM). Edited February 26th, 2017 by PastelPhoenix.
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                  PastelPhoenix PastelPhoenix is offline
                  A Princely Birb
                    Join Date: Mar 2016
                    Age: 24
                    Gender: Male
                    Nature: Brave
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                    Priam Endres

                    Male // 20 // Ex-Bandit

                    Great Cave Adventure I

                    Priam ducked into the cave system, taking extra care not to slip on some ice near the surface. Truth be told, he didn’t even have to work right now if he didn’t want to; the money he got from Senka was more than enough to make the trip to Baybrook worth it. Still, rumors of a massive vehicle graveyard intrigued him. He had long since sold the little speeder he stole from the Brotherhood to the convoy, afraid of running out of money before he got settled and wanting to avoid extra storage fees. Now firmly on his feet money-wise, he wished that he had kept it after all. It was a luxury, yes, but it sure as hell beat freezing his ass off in the cold.

                    The grotto was honestly beautiful. Dangerous as hell, but beautiful all the same. There was a certain elegance to something as undisturbed as it; especially with almost all the useful land being exploited by the settlements right now.

                    He carefully maneuvered around the underground lake, trying to avoid getting soaked twice in a row. Reaching a narrow path, he inched along the wall when the ground suddenly began crumbling under his foot. Pulling back just in time to avoid falling, the rocky ledge splashed into the water with a loud splash and awoke a small flock of Frostbiters. Smushing himself against the cave wall as much as possible, Priam slowed his breath, praying the little bat-like creatures didn’t see him. And there he stood for a few minutes, long after the tiny wing flaps ended. Breathing a sigh of relief, a quick shot of self null-crystaling would help prevent a disaster like that from happening again.

                    Eventually the narrow walkway led to a small chamber, perfect for a small rest before continuing on. Set to take a load off his feet and have a quick meal, he began unpacking his gear when the sounds of a struggle sounded from the next chamber, proceeded by a very human scream. Picking up his wand, Priam peeked through the cavern entrance and noticed a woman partially covered by a Darkmantle, and several disturbed Stirges flying about.

                    “Muk,” He shouted, praying the woman could hear him, “stand still for a moment. I’ll hit it!”

                    Quickly loading one of his “Red” starters, he lifted the heavy wand and fired off a long slash of magic. The spell condensed into a sharp point and cut into the cephalopod's flesh, taking off one of the creature’s hooked tentacles. Wincing in pain, the Darkmantle loosened it’s grip on it’s prey, and a bundle of curly, red hair emerged as the woman ripped the creature off her head and tossed it away.

                    “Toss me my lance,” the newly freed prisoner shouted at Priam, “quickly!”

                    Suddenly noticing the steel weapon to his right, he rushed over and grabbed the handle, a feeling of magic connecting telling him the weapon also acted as a wand. Flipping it around, he tossed it to the stranger, hoping she would be able to grab it. A flash of pain in his back grabbed his attention as soon as the lance left his hand, one of the Stirges finding it’s mark. Whipping his wand behind him, a quick Arrow took the insect's body off the proboscis, which Priam had the pleasure of having to pull out of his shoulder.

                    Meanwhile, the woman had managed to catch the lance successfully, and drove the point into the still slowed Darkmantle. The creature squirmed a little, until the lance suddenly poured fire from several holes in the body. The flames poured down the lance and roasted the droptopus, who soon quit moving under the assault.

                    Now the only enemies left were three Stirges, still flying about. Finally pulling the spear like mouthpiece from his flesh, Priam winced in pain as he loaded a “Purple” cartridge. As soon as he pulled the trigger, a thick strand of magic emerged from the barrel of his wand and wrapped around one of the mosquito like beasts. Whipping the wand sharply, the pull of the wand as well as the retraction of the strand caused the captured Stirge to hit the wall at a high speed. A loud crunch could be heard across the chamber, and the insect collapsed to the ground a crumpled mess.

                    Several arrow bolts lit up the chamber, emerging two at a time from the woman’s lance. Wildly innacurate, most just broke against the wall. Quantity eventually won over, and a bolt hit one of the flying Stirges, leaving a clean hole in the fragile flier. Letting her guard down, the lancer didn’t notice the last Stirge flying behind her, ready to begin her charge. The click of his trigger told Priam that he didn’t have a spell loaded. Panicking slightly he looked down to grab another starter and saw a small wand lying at his feet.

                    Picking up what he presumed to be the stranger’s spare wand, he fired off whatever spell was currently loaded. A large arrow shot forth from the barrel, speeding towards the Stirge. Right before it hit, it spread into a small bubble and hardened to Pseudoearth, dropping to the floor with the Stirge inside it. The crash attracted the woman’s attention, who looked from the orb to Priam.

                    “Thanks,” she said, clearly out of breath, “that your own spell?”

                    “Uh, no. Just whatever was in here.”

                    The woman walked over to grab the wand, popping it open and looking at the started inside.

                    “Odd, I’ve never seen it do that before.”

                    “What was in it?” Priam inquired. That could be useful in the future.

                    “Cannae, Ironbark, Pyrite, and Corvis. Supposed to be a shield that shoot forward a second later. At least, it is for me.”

                    “Weird. Damn useful spell either way,” Priam remarked before feeling the pain of his shoulder again, his adrenaline wearing off.

                    “Let me see that,” The stranger demanded, pulling bits of cloth away from the wound. “That looks pretty bad. Let me get some Brightpod. Just take your shirt off.”

                    “That’d be great,” he replied through a grunt of pain. Taking the shirt off hurt quite a bit, but it was better than leaving a hole in his shoulder.

                    “Least I could do, you did save my ass there. Should also be able to save the clothing too… Mr?”

                    “Priam, just Priam. And thanks, I’m damn awful at using brightpod.”

                    “Well then, it’s a good thing you got hurt around me, just Priam. Name’s Anna, and let’s get you fixed up.”

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                      #14   Link to this post, but load the entire thread.  
                    Old February 27th, 2017 (1:52 AM). Edited March 26th, 2017 by gimmepie.
                    gimmepie's Avatar
                    gimmepie gimmepie is offline
                    Join Date: May 2012
                    Location: Australia
                    Age: 23
                    Gender: Male
                    Nature: Adamant
                    Posts: 18,729
                    Dina Weber
                    Female | Age 22 | In Need of Directions

                    When Without SatNav
                    Dina stepped out from the convoy into the cool, fresh air of the Greenzone Baybrook with a wanted poster still clutched crumpled in her hand. She wasn’t the type to only go after criminals, in fact she could probably get more of a thrill from hunting down a particularly nasty beast. She’d arbitrarily decided that today would be a bounty day though. Stretching her arms up towards the sun, Dina made for the Baybrook settlement.

                    As she walked, Dina took another look at the paper in her hand. Oskar Cadell was known to hide out in the Riverside ruins with a bunch of Hydera thugs at his beck and call. He was described as being a charming man with a knack for manipulating people but behind his more palatable facade he was a brutal man who’d been involved in all kinds of crime ranging from minor things like theft all the way to more serious offences like kidnapping and even murder. He was noted as rarely leaving the safe haven of his base and for possessing a particularly nasty whip spell, even though he otherwise focused on defensive magic. It sounded to Dina like he would be quite the challenge, and she liked challenges. She paid little mind to the fact she was probably getting in over her head.

                    It didn’t take long for Dina to reach the main settlement of Baybrook, a sprawling mass of reclaimed ruins many linked together at higher levels by skywalks. It was quite an imposing sight, the kind that made Dina want to climb the outsides of the buildings until she reached the top. She forced herself to refrain from undertaking the outlandish activity for the time being though, she was only passing through on the way to the Riverside Ruins. She kept walking at a rapid pace, eager to get to the sleazier side of town.

                    “I’m going to need directions. The notes don’t say exactly where his hideout is.” Dina mused, as the scenery around her gradually changed as she left the main settlement, only a few other people heading in the same direction as she was. Dina hoped that they weren’t mediators or other freelancers going after the same target. She didn’t really mind some friendly competition really, but it would suck if they knew where they were going and got ahold of Cadell whilst she was still skulking around trying to work out exactly where to go.

                    Eventually, Dina found herself in a place very different from the clean main settlement where throngs of people, visitors from the Resilience or otherwise, bustled about. The riverside ruins were dirty and decrepit, with few people moving about - and obviously avoiding certain areas where ancient golem security still had not been successfully shut down. Everywhere Dina looked, the blue, three-headed logo of Hydera was painted onto some surface - making it clear just who ran this little community.

                    “Shouldn’t be too hard to find what I’m after then.” Dina said with a cheery grin, following behind a man somewhat recognised from the Resilience as he and a handful of others made their way to a building blaring music. “Really? A party like that at this time of day? I approve.”

                    Dina entered what she assumed was some sort of bar or club, or rather some place where scummier people could hangout. Sure enough, she entered a dark room where the only lights came from a couple of dim bulbs and violently bright strobes. The atmosphere was heavy with the scent suspicious-smelling smoke and toxic levels of booze and rowdy patrons were already harassing scantily clad waitresses who seemed to have forgotten what kind of climate the planet had. Many of them had Hydera tattoos. It was a wonder really that the place wasn’t crawling with mediators… other than the ones being served drinks.

                    It didn’t take Dina long to find something helpful given the nature of the establishment. At a small round table in the corner, a group of about five people were talking loudly over the music. They wore various mismatched outfits and all looked quite different bar the bright blue insignia common to all of them. They were proudly proclaiming their loyalty to Hydera. Meaning they were exactly who Dina wanted to talk to.

                    “Hi fellas!” Dina said with her trademark, bright smile still plastered on her face. “I was wondering if you could give me some directions.”

                    Spoiler: Spells List
                    1. Hyper Velocity (Saltpeter, Floatstone, Hydra Blood, Pyrite) - Several small stone-like objects are dispersed in the area. Dina can move between these objects at an extremely high speed but only in a straight line.

                    2. Flash Volley (Saltpeter/Darkmantle Hook, Spark Salt) - Releases several balls of light that will suddenly and rapidly brighten and expand, temporarily blinding those in the vicinity.

                    3. Flare Volley (Saltpeter/Darkmantle Hook, Salamander Flower Petals) - As above but replace with small fireballs instead of flashes.

                    4. Hurricane Mines (Corvis Feather, Saltpeter/Darkmantle Hook, Highstrider Fur, Pyrite) - Releases several objects that will explode into concussive wind gales after a short period of time.

                    5. Air Lance (Cannae Root, Iron Barbs, Highstrider Fur) - A blast of slashing wind that impales the target. The area around the main spell has concussive effects.

                    6. Storm Torpedo (Highstrider Fur, Saltpeter, Draconic Blood, Chargestone) - An emergency only trump card of Dina’s. A projectile resembling a storm cloud is launched but as it nears the target it will explode into something resembling a full-blown supercell complete with gale force winds and lightning. The expansion is so wide and forceful it can cause the user harm also.

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                      #15   Link to this post, but load the entire thread.  
                    Old March 1st, 2017 (6:05 PM).
                    Orx of Twinleaf's Avatar
                    Orx of Twinleaf Orx of Twinleaf is offline
                    Branch into Psyche
                      Join Date: Mar 2016
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                      Borrix Toroflung

                      vegemite bros and monster milking

                      "So tell me about yourself, Quosid," Borrix ventured.

                      Quosid shook his head and bit into the sandwich reluctantly. Borrix supposed Quosid probably just disliked the situation more than the sandwich's perfectly-proportioned margerine-to-vegemite ratio. Borrix had made two of them, expecting himself to grow hungry enough for it, but he had given one to Quosid as they settled on a low log by the pond for a break. Now Quosid chewed unenthusiastically at his sandwich, rubbing his leg above the stone cast still closed on it.

                      "There's no use being tight-lipped, you know," Borrix said. The boy was rough enough to look older than he probably actually was, but he was still only a boy as far as Borrix was concerned. Borrix finished his sandwich and then pricked his finger with his kukri, letting himself bleed onto the holes in the top of Psyduckface's jar. The pixie chattered excitedly and lapped at the red drops before Borrix drew his hand away and stuck it in his mouth to suck it to stopping.

                      That at least got Quosid talking long enough to ask, "Yer feeding it?"

                      Borrix shrugged and wiped his finger off on his handkerchief. "I don't know how often they're supposed to eat, and we might end up being out here for a while. I'm supposed to bring it back alive."

                      "Fer what?"

                      "Fer what fer what?" Psyduckface asked as well.

                      Borrix shook his head. "I'm sure I don't know. Buddy of mine asked for it, so I'm bringing him one."

                      Quosid had by now given up on finishing the second half of his own sandwich. Must have been too big for him. No other reason someone would turn down fresh vegemite. "Same guy what asked fer the plant acid?"

                      Borrix nodded. Quosid and he had spent some two or three hours finding another willow wisp to milk, the first one having evidently decided their antics were too annoying, as it began to flail at them in agitation after they had gathered a few jars out of it. Borrix supposed it might have been angry with them for throwing bladed weapons into it.

                      They had found a smaller willow wisp to milk after it tried and failed to enclose Quosid, who hadn't seen it and stepped into its trap. It was small enough that Quosid's head poked out the top of the pitcher, though, and it had been unable to lift off with him. It had tried regardless, and they had filled the last few jars Borrix had on him before Borrix reached into the pitcher and scraped it along the inside with his kukri. The willow wisp—thoroughly dissuaded by this sensation—dropped its pitcher to let Quosid hobble out before scurrying away.

                      After that they had stopped by another pool so Quosid could kick around in the water and get the acid off his boots and Borrix had gotten out the sandwiches and a thermos of muk coffee. Borrix had offered Quosid some, but he seemed put off by the smell, and got out his own canteen instead.

                      "Aren't you gonna finish that?" Borrix asked now, pointing to the remainder of Quosid's sandwich.

                      "Uh, no, I'm good."

                      Borrix took it and it was gone in the span of two seconds, tops. He swallowed down some more coffee before bundling the thermos away and getting up to look at Quosid's leg. "I think I should probably recast it. Feeling okay?"

                      "Yeah, you can prolly leave off the cast now."

                      Borrix got out his wand and loaded it. "You'll probably bolt, too," he said. "Best leave it on: wouldn't want Psyduckface sucking on it if he gets out."

                      "Probably, too," the pixie piped up, having lapped up the last of the blood on the lid.

                      Borrix clubbed the rock cast with the butt of his kukri to break it away, and then held his wand to the leg and fired another shot of Stony Hug to replace it with a fresh one. Quosid yelped a little at the rough treatment, but it scarcely took a moment before Borrix was up and putting away his kukri and wand.

                      "We headin back to the convoy?" Quosid asked, getting up. He sounded less than enthusiastic at the idea.

                      But Borrix shook his head. "One last thing I need to get out here." He patted the lidded bucket dangling from the side of his pack. "I need to milk a horruchs."

                      "Yer muktin me," the bandit said. Psyduckface chimed in with its own echo.

                      Borrix shrugged, though. "It shouldn't be all that bad. They say you can just walk up to a horruchs and climb on its back half the time. Big softies."

                      "Half the time!" Psyduckface protested.

                      "It's not like I'm gonna walk up to one and stab it, they should be perfectly fine with me milking them."

                      "Gonna get yerself smashed, you mean," Quosid said, shaking his head.

                      "If they smash me, they smash me," Borrix said, setting course for a way out of the wetlands, over to the dryer perimeter where he at least wouldn't have to be knee-deep in a pond if he wanted to get under a horruchs.

                      They walked in silence for a while before they scared up a small bunch of flying rabbits. Borrix's colorful words in response to catching one in his face wound up being their accompaniment as Psyduckface picked up on the words and chattered them on repeat for the better part of twenty minutes. Borrix was sorely tempted to shake the jar to make the repeat-after-me stop repeating after itself. In the end though he resorted to spending another breezeswoop feather starter to mute it and its chattering.

                      This left Quosid and him in some more silence, made all the more awkward now by their passage out of the deeper swamps: the noise of the brush and its inhabitants was dying down now as they neared more solid grounds. "So," Borrix ventured, "banditry, huh?"

                      Quosid remained silent. Borrix was walking in front and didn't turn to look at the boy. "I suppose there are worse things to be these days. But there are better things, too."

                      Still no response.

                      Borrix kept talking to fill the air. "Must be nasty work, having to hole up in places like this. And that's nothing to say for all the people that will come out looking for you, bounty hunting and whatnot. Some folks make a living doing that—going out and rounding up bandits. I used to think 'They must be like torquelk, just go out there and breed up in the wild so we have to go shoot a bunch of them and keep the population down.' I suppose that probably isn't exactly how it goes, but it seems right enough, innit?"

                      Silence in response. Borrix wondered if he had offended Quosid. "I ain't calling you rats or nothing," he reassured, "but I do have to wonder where you all come from. I don't suppose you actually keep kids out there?" No answer. Borrix nodded to himself. "We have gangs on the convoys, and in towns, and I guess that's the same kind of thing. Something rebellious kids go into to stir up trouble. Must be strange, wanting to make a splash in a pool too big for little rocks like us."

                      A groundhawk screeched somewhere to the east, a flock of flying rabbits going up from the grass in terror. "After a while, Quosid, you just stop caring about being somebody. Or I did, at least. If you ask me, heroes and villains died with the Freeze. We're all just people now, and we'll never be anything more or less than that. No one will remember us small fries." For some reason he was reminded of the flan he had eaten, and at the taunting way it had wiggled at him. It made him angry for some reason, and then tired.

                      "You could just be another bandit, Quosid," Borrix said, now, "and I could just be another hunter. Two nobodies doing nothing nowhere. But I tell you, Quosid, that I want to be something more. I can't really care so much any more, not after all that's happened, but I still want to try, you know?Maybe I'll never be anything, but I can still say that I tried to be, and maybe someone will remember me and say 'Yeah, Borrix, he was a good fellow, you could count on him.' "

                      Borrix saw a small group of horruchs moving just over a hill to the west and adjusted his course. "Leastwise it would be better than someone remembering me saying something like 'That Borrix, cheating son of a rattata, he'd stab your back and twist the knife.' " He crested the hill and approached the first horruchs. It regarded him unconcernedly and kept chewing its cud: he was no threat to it.

                      "Wouldn't you say so, Quosid?" Borrix turned around and—just as he thought—the bandit had taken the opportunity Borrix had presented and snuck off while he was talking. Borrix nodded at nothing and sniffed. "Yeah. Me too."

                      "Just another bandit," Psyduckface said, its muting having worn off.

                      "Don't be mean," Borrix said, patting the jar. He looked at the repeat-after-me. "You don't share vegemite with someone without bonding, Psyduckface."

                      "He was a good fellow."

                      Borrix sighed and got the bucket ready.

                      "For lo! The Freeze froze not only our land, not only our homes, not only our world, but our very souls! It chilled us to the core of our beings: see how neighbor has turned on neighbor, see the raving bands of cutthroats and thieves, see the desperation and debauchery plaguing every town and convoy! Our children form gangs, our elders give in to madness, our brothers draw their wands on us. O, how cold Dorene has become, how heartless and apathetic! We must warm her! We must return to her flesh the pinkness of life! The convoys shall carry the flame, shall carry the torch of hope across her land, and in so doing light her soul anew. Only when we have all thawed our hearts and broke away our frozen tears may Dorene again cast her eyes skyward and become warm in turn. It is in us all to warm this world, but the cold keeps us down and uncaring. Cast it off! Seek thy neighbors' arms and give them yours, share together what little hope you each have and warm one another so that you, too, may give your fire over to the convoys and finally bring about the Thaw! But I hear you: 'Frenwiq,' you say, 'it is not possible. There is no hope left. There is no warmth.' That's the cold talking! Don't let it numb you to the very real heat you all have. I've seen it and see it still: every one of you has a fire in you, and even the smallest spark can light a beacon to guide us all to a greener land."
                      —Transcript of a sermon given by pastor Frenwiq Peiken on Gravitas
                      Borrix managed to crawl under the lumbering bovine hulk on all fours, gingerly dragging the bucket under with him. The horruchs, for its part, snorted confusedly, but did not move from its position, except to shift its weight onto its left side leisurely. Borrix, now completely underneath a multiton mass of muscle, fat, hair, and horns, rolled onto his back to search the thing's undercarriage.

                      The shaggy, knotted hair all over its belly, though, made it difficult to discern anything from furry stalactites. He reached out and started pawing the vast expanse of flesh and the horruchs shifted its weight again, completely unconcerned with having its belly so exposed. "Don't these psyducking things have udders?" Borrix muttered to himself.

                      "Don't!" Psyduckface answered from where its jar had been left with the rest of Borrix's things a small ways away.

                      Borrix was sorry he hadn't gone to the trouble of learning more about horruchs anatomy: he was still running his gloved hands all over the place and he could have sworn he felt—

                      "Don't!" Psyduckface said again as the horruchs made a queer sort of coughing noise and twitched its back leg.

                      Borrix rolled out of under it quickly, pulling the bucket away angrily. "You coulda said you were a psyducking bull, pal," he barked at the horruchs. The horruchs regarded him with a half-lidded eye as if to say "I've had better" and Borrix punched it in the side, cursing. The horruchs snorted and slapped its side with its tail jeeringly before stomping off to stand somewhere else.

                      "I guess you did tell me to stop," Borrix grumbled to Psyduckface as he wiped his hands off on the grass in disgust.

                      "Did tell—you."

                      Borrix eyed the horruchs a little more and found that what he had initially supposed were just a pair of particularly thick knots in its shaggy hair were what should have given it away. With this invaluable piece of intelligence in mind, Borrix approached one of the other horruchs that were milling about and found that it, too, possessed the symptoms of milklessness.

                      The next one he approached, however, had a great black-teated bulge between its hind legs, and Borrix got his bucket ready. When he got down to crawl under it, though, it sidestepped away from him. Borrix got to his feet with a hand on his wand, but the horruchs wasn't eyeing him angrily, it just seemed shy of him. "Aw come on," he said to it. "I'll be gentle."

                      It lowed chidingly and slapped its side with its tail, not at all convinced. Psyduckface was complaining now from its place by his things, "Come on, come on, come on." Borrix approached the horruchs again, but it, again, moved away from him.

                      Borrix drummed his fingers on the butt of his wand, thinking. "Aw psyduck it," he said finally. He dug out some spell starters and shot himself with Disappear and shimmered out of sight. "Aw," Psyduckface said. The horruchs regarded the space Borrix had been in with confusion, and then directed that confusion at the bucket that started floating towards it.

                      As strange as that was, it still didn't bother the horruchs, and it simply turned its head to watch the bucket pull itself underneath her belly. In short order there was a quite invasive tugging sensation on her udder, and she twitched her leg to try and make it stop. In response, the tugging grew less fervent, and much gentler. She snorted at this and relaxed, going back to chewing her cud until the tugging at last stopped and the bucket heaved itself out of underneath her, its lid back on but evidently much heavier. The horruchs blinked at the strangeness of the event, and moved away unconcernedly.

                      Borrix's spell timed out as he reached Psyduckface and his things with his bucket full of hairy milk. "This stuff's psyducking heavy," he said as he fastened Psyduckface to his belt.

                      "Come on come on," the repeat-after-me insisted. Borrix put his pack back on and picked up the bucket. The milk had been thick, with practically no foaming, so the bucket was full up with the heavy liquid. He made sure the lid was on right and looked at the sky to check his direction. It was later in the afternoon, now. He figured he'd reach the convoy in time for supper. He hoped the milk would keep for that long. He started walking.

                      It had been a lot easier to milk the horruchs than he had figured. Bull-fondling notwithstading, of course. The things really were rather tame. The bucket sloshed noisily as he walked, and he couldn't help but think he heard words in the noise: of course, of course. Borrix wondered what that was supposed to mean and something he had eaten earlier that day roiled in his gut with its own wobbly words. They aren't scared of you because you're nothing, the flan jiggled through his stomach.

                      Borrix frowned, making a mental note to ask for the freezer buns next time. He shifted the bucket to his other hand to give his arm a rest. "I could take one," he said idly to himself.

                      "Could," Psyduckface agreed.

                      Borrix stumbled briefly as his foot caught a low root. The bucket sloshed loudly as he regained balance, the sound like a liquid cackle. His stomach rumbled as the vegemite met the flan and its own bitterness found gelatinous voice: The good hunters could take a whole herd on.

                      Borrix was inclined to think that to be a gross exaggeration. He'd heard tell of a horruchs being capable of knocking down brick buildings, when they got riled enough, but he admittedly had never seen one so much as trot. He shifted the bucket to his other hand again and now looked down at his belt buckle: a simple brass thing stamped with a detailed horruchs in profile. He had had it for a very long time now. He couldn't remember where he had bought it, or exactly when, but he did remember resolving after his divorce to be more like a horruchs.

                      Ha! the digesting flan jiggled from his bowels. You're already a lumbering oaf!

                      "I'm a tough guy, right Psyduckface?" Borrix asked aloud.

                      "Tough," the repeat-after-me affirmed, tinking rhythmically on the wall of its jar.

                      Borrix nodded, satisfied that the parroting pixie had repeated back a word that he could tell himself was a conscious answer. "That's right."

                      He shifted grip again and looked out across the way, at another group of horruchs moving into a stand of trees, a groundhawk slinking along behind them to shelter under their indifferent bulk. The milk was still sloshing, but less noisily now, and the evil flan had evidently now been fully drowned by the coffee that had chased down Borrix's lunch.

                      Borrix looked and noticed there was a splash of white on his sleeve, quite the stain on his dark coat. "Muk. I hope that's milk."
                      A Cup of Dreams, Pour in Your Soul, a Pinch of Knowing, Stir in with Hope,
                      and Drink to Despair and Celebration: Drink it All and Stay Asleep, Drink in Parts and Vomit it Back
                      Joy, Relief, Fury, Fear, Sorrow, Longing, and Pain, Colors that Forever Cope
                      Despondency and Guilt with Ambition and Pride, No One of this World and Species may Truly Lack
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                      Old March 3rd, 2017 (11:20 AM).
                      Fen-kun's Avatar
                      Fen-kun Fen-kun is offline
                      An RP Hermit
                        Join Date: Dec 2015
                        Location: San Antonio, TX, USA
                        Gender: Male
                        Nature: Quirky
                        Posts: 276
                        Eve Bohneur

                        Waking up in the bed of her modest apartment, Eve sat up and yawned. She got out of her bed and looked around. It was still quite an adjustment living in a decent, relatively clean place with a few possessions to her name, namely her snub-nosed wand, the accompanying cartridges and some little items of decor at Hainley’s suggestion. It was certainly an adjustment, not having to worry about waking up with a need to evacuate whatever place she was in last to evade the Mediators, nightmares or because of the shoddy condition of her lodging. Of course, old habits ingrained in her head didn’t really seem to go away, always looking at everyone with wariness and if need be an intimidating glance at anyone who she thought looked at her the wrong way. More than a few times she has made a child cry because of the look she had on her face or an adult visibly afraid of her. She sighed, seeming to have a lot more time to reflect on herself and what she has done in her short life. It seemed like only yesterday she was running raids with Pogs, Bentley and Viper, only for everything to turn to muk.

                        After sitting on her thoughts for a while, Eve got up out of bed and got dressed. As per usual, she dressed in her crop top, midriff jacket with a scratched out insignia on the back, wool lined pants and combat boots. In something Eve never would imagine doing several years ago: she began to read. Surprisingly, despite opposition from Eve as something stupid and not worth the effort, Hainley managed to convince her to read, offering it up as a challenge to be “vanquished”. So far, she was reading at the equivalent level of a primary school student and was actually enjoying it. Not that she’d admit it to anyone else. Her thoughts were interrupted by a knock on her door. She subconsciously tensed up, reaching for her wand just in case. She called through the door, “Who ‘s it?”

                        A male voice replied, “Hainley. May I come in?”

                        “Whaddya need?” She stood up to greet her superior, crossing her arms across her chest.

                        “It’s concerning your previous assignment. You’ve done excellently since we had you help out the old woman with her son and the other one with the fight. No complaints about the work.”

                        Eve rolled her eyes. “Whatever, man. Jus’ trying to get by n’ muk. Can’t bite the gift horse in the mouth.”

                        “I think you mean look a gift horse in the mouth.”

                        She replied, “Whatever. You get what I mean. ‘S there anything else you wanted?” Eve’s tone was a bit deadpan.

                        Hainley explained, drawling out Eve’s assignment. “Yeah. There’s something you can cut your teeth on...for real this time. I want you to go after some Hydera gang member. His name-”

                        Immediately, Eve’s eye lit up and excitedly replied, “What, really? I get to finally kick some guy’s ass?”
                        Hainley chuckled dryly, “Easy there, greeney. Let me finish. His name is Oskar Cadell. Like I just said, part of the Hydera gang He keeps himself closely guarded and has a nasty whip attack himself. This gang is no rinky dink collective like the gang I rescued you out of.” Eve for the briefest of moments had a flicker in her eyes and looked away. “The guy means business, and he is not reserved when it comes to lethal force. Understand?”

                        Eve nodded, facing Hainley again. “Yeah. I can take him. Lil’ punk won’t know what hit him.”

                        He chuckled slightly, “I’d sure as hell hope so.” He lowered his voice and got more serious. “Look, I’m gonna be level with you for a sec. You’ve done very well for yourself, coming and helping enforce the law for a change. I’m not usually a man to sprinkle compliments like snow around here. Hell, you’re hardly the type of woman to be dishing them out yourself. But really, you sure as hell are taking an eager shine to this whole business. Surprisingly so given how...rough around the edges you are. As good as you’re doing, make sure that you are doing it for the right reasons. You may be wondering, ‘Why the hell’s this geezer tellin’ me all this crap?“ He uttered a rough approximation of Eve’s husky, street-affected voice. “Well, I’m only telling you this as a guide. To help-”

                        Eve interrupted him, “I don’t need no guidance.”

                        Hanley shrugged, “You’ve been fine letting me be your guide this whole time. You don’t look it, but you are quite the lost little lady.”

                        “Whatever you say. Jus’ lemme do the job.” She stood up and walked over to get her wand and holstered it. “I’ll be back in a few hours.” Eve grabbed the cartridges and left abruptly without so much as a goodbye.
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                        Old March 26th, 2017 (11:16 PM).
                        gimmepie's Avatar
                        gimmepie gimmepie is offline
                        Join Date: May 2012
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                        Dina Weber
                        Female | Age 22 | Making Bad Decisions

                        How to Conduct a Siege and be a Badass
                        “We give up! We give up!” one of the men yelled over the awful music that continued to play even as pretty much every person in the room had turned to face the commotion, wide-eyed. Several of them had even dropped glasses. Dina, naturally the source of the commotion that had the onlookers so shocked, was standing in the corner of shady establishment, her boot jammed into the back of one of the Hydera members. His right arm was pulled across the front of his body by the wrist and pulled hard passed his left side by her until it threatened to pop out of its socket. With her free, hand Dina had her revolver wand pointed at a second gang member who stood frozen with his hands raised. The other three cowered behind the table that Dina had recently upturned, covered in shards of glass and foul smelling alcoholic concoctions

                        “I didn’t ask you if you give up - that’s a given at this point silly!” Dina said, maintaining her cheerful demeanour as she gave the man’s arm a short, painful tug. “I asked you to give me directions. Where is Oscar Cadell’s base. I really can’t be bothered wandering around until I find him.” Out of the corner of her eye, Dina noticed the man she was pointing her wand at shuffling forward. She whipped her head around to look at him, smiling happily like she’d just ran into an old acquaintance. Dina raised an eyebrow and the man took several steps back until he collided hard with the wall behind him.

                        “Okay fine!” the gang member Dina had a grip on groaned “I’ll tell you anything you want just let go of my arm already!”

                        It was then about forty minutes walking at a brisk pace before Dina found herself standing outside of what she could only describe as a fortress. Tall, partially crumbling, stone walls surrounded a building that looked like a miniature castle. Like the walls, much of the building was worn or damaged with parts of the upper floors being altogether missing. An iron gate blocked entry from the road was seemingly the only way in and several Hydera members patrolled on top of the sturdier parts of the wall.

                        Common sense dictated that the best move would be to wait for Oscar to either emerge for or return from his morning walk. The fortress was old and crumbling but it was still well and truly capable of holding up to a one person assault. Trying to break through its defenses and then also face down one of the scariest criminals Hydera has to offer would be madness. This, of course, meant that this was Dina’s preferred course of action.

                        Dina pulled out her wand, opening its chambers and calmly loading it with the materials she deemed necessary before snapping it shut. She then aimed the weapon directly above the open concrete expanse between the building and the wall and pulled the trigger. A rocky-looking clump burst forth from the weapon flying over where Dina had aimed before it burst, dispersing several smaller objects around the area. The projectile grabbed the attention of the Hydera guards, each of them following the pellets with their eyes as they landed around the area.

                        “I guess that’s showtime then.” Dina stated to herself, twirling her wand around a finger by the guard around the trigger. Keeping the weapon drawn, she assumed a loose runner’s stance with one hand pressed firmly onto the ground. Them, she took off, running full pelt at the wall. Of course, because of the spell she had just shot through the area, full pelt was a blistering speed that send a cloud of dust into the air. Moving faster than the eye was able to properly follow, Dina reached the wall in an instant reaching the first of the pellets she had dispersed. From there she continued on straight up the side of wall, sending loose rocky fragments to the ground like hail as she ran.

                        Dina reached the second pellet before the Hydera guards were quite able to realise what was happening. Unfortunately for the man, this was just as true of the guard now directly next to Dina. She clubbed him over the head with her revolver wand, then backhanded him again for good measure, knocking him out. From that position, she aimed at the space between two guards who were suddenly realising what was happening. She pulled the trigger as the pair each raised weapons of their own, but they were far too slow. A savage gust of wind blew through the space between the two guards, carving a gash on the top of the wall and blasting the pair with a concussive force that knocked one guard over, his head banging against the stone surface of the wall. The second Hydera member was knocked off the edge of the wall, barely managing to catch the edge.

                        The man that had gone over the edge pulled himself up and rolled onto the surface, only to become painfully aware that Dina’s earlier hypervelocity spell was still in effect in the area. In the painstaking few seconds it had taken him to climb back onto the top of the wall, Dina had crossed to him from the other side.

                        “Hi there!” Dina chirped enthusiastically before booting the man in the head just hard enough to make sure he wouldn’t be getting back up for a while. By now, the other Hydera members had finally gotten their wits about them and were beginning to counter attack. A fireball shot passed Dina’s head, having been fired by a woman with a shaved head on the ground below her. Beside her, a heavy set man was also taking aim with a firearm of some sort.

                        Dina jumped off the wall and caught the edge with her right hand before she could fall too far, forcing her body into a sort of sideways crouch so she could get traction against its side. Pushing of the wall, she launched herself directly past the pair of attackers, reaching the next pellet instantaneously.

                        Shame there wasn’t one where they’re standing, this is close enough though. Dina spun the chambers of her wand as she ran towards the pair that had just shot at her. They were looking for her, scanning the area. Their eyes settled on her as she pulled the trigger and several small shining orbs flared into life, flying forward. A moment later, the gang members were surrounded by a bunch of fist sized lights that suddenly expanded and intensified in brightness. Dina’s targets cried out with shock and pain, their eyes prickling and stinging and their vision temporarily nothing but white. Dina reached them whilst they were still unable to see. She kicked the woman in the stomach, then as she staggered back slammed her elbow down on her back just below her neck and knocked her face first onto the ground. The stocky man had somewhat regained his vision by then and, squinting to the point his face looked deformed, was leveling his weapon at Dina at close range. This meant that this was close enough for her to interfere, so she did. Dina knocked the weapon with her left arm, ruining the squinting man’s aim an unidentified projectile flying off past her. Continuing on, Dina reached past the surprised man’s arms, grabbing him by the back of his head. She lunged up and pulled his head down simultaneously, driving her knee into his face and shattering his nose. When that didn’t bring him down, she delivered three repeated punches to his injured face and repeated the first maneuver a second time. Turning, she knocked the bald woman out with a swift kick.

                        “Might have gone slightly overboard on the big guy…” Dina said, expecting a long-winded lecture from the mediators. “Oh well, that’s out here dealt with, now where’s Oscar?” She turned towards the main building and headed inside.

                        Spoiler: Spells List
                        1. Hyper Velocity (Saltpeter, Floatstone, Hydra Blood, Pyrite) - Several small stone-like objects are dispersed in the area. Dina can move between these objects at an extremely high speed but only in a straight line.

                        2. Flash Volley (Saltpeter/Darkmantle Hook, Spark Salt) - Releases several balls of light that will suddenly and rapidly brighten and expand, temporarily blinding those in the vicinity.

                        3. Flare Volley (Saltpeter/Darkmantle Hook, Salamander Flower Petals) - As above but replace with small fireballs instead of flashes.

                        4. Hurricane Mines (Corvis Feather, Saltpeter/Darkmantle Hook, Highstrider Fur, Pyrite) - Releases several objects that will explode into concussive wind gales after a short period of time.

                        5. Air Lance (Cannae Root, Iron Barbs, Highstrider Fur) - A blast of slashing wind that impales the target. The area around the main spell has concussive effects.

                        6. Storm Torpedo (Highstrider Fur, Saltpeter, Draconic Blood, Chargestone) - An emergency only trump card of Dina’s. A projectile resembling a storm cloud is launched but as it nears the target it will explode into something resembling a full-blown supercell complete with gale force winds and lightning. The expansion is so wide and forceful it can cause the user harm also.

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                        Old May 21st, 2017 (3:10 PM).
                        PastelPhoenix's Avatar
                        PastelPhoenix PastelPhoenix is offline
                        A Princely Birb
                          Join Date: Mar 2016
                          Age: 24
                          Gender: Male
                          Nature: Brave
                          Posts: 387

                          Priam Endres

                          Male // 20 // Ex-Bandit

                          Anna pressed up against the cave wall, signalling Priam to keep quiet. After a moment of nothing aside from the soft splash of water droplets from the ceiling, she turned the corner with her lance drawn.

                          “We’re good here,” She said, motioning Priam forward. The two had decided sticking together was the best course of action. After Anna got trapped by the Darkmantle she was a lot less eager to explore the Grotto alone. Priam was realized the scale of the cave system and needed someone more adept at navigating them to find the scrapyard, which he thankfully found in Anna.

                          “Think we’re getting close?” he asked, brushing wall moss from his jacket. “This muk doesn’t stain, does it?”

                          “We gotta be close. See the scrape marks? Too deep to be an animal. And your jacket should survive, just don’t let the moss dry.”

                          The two continued to follow the deep gouges in the ground, keeping an eye out for anymore opportunistic wildlife. Before too long, they had stumbled upon an obviously man-made entryway,blocked by a massive sheet of scrap metal, leading into the next chamber. The metal was painted roughly the same color as the cave wall, and if they were further away they might have missed it entirely. As they inched closer to the door, a sudden shaking of the entire cave nearly caused Priam to fall over.


                          “No,” Anna responded, helping him up. “Earthquakes would be a lot louder down here. Something made that sound.”

                          Nodding towards the door, the two quickly moved to flank both sides of the entryway. Priam tossed over a starter with enough Hydra Blood for roughly a minute of effect. Both he and Anna pointed their wands at their own heads, and after counting down 3 second with his fingers, both fired. As soon as he felt the pleasant numbness of the blood flowing through him, he grabbed one side of the metal. Both slowly and silently moved the sheet away from the entrance. Peeking through the uncovered hole in the wall, Priam made two discoveries.

                          The good news: the expanse of vehicles told him they had found the graveyard.

                          The bad news: It was guarded by probably the largest golem he had ever seen. A poor Darkmantle lie splattered across the room, a likely victim of the machine’s wands.

                          “Well, I think we found the source of that noise,” Priam said.

                          “Unless you think there’s an even bigger one, I think you’re right. Got a plan?”

                          Priam took another peek through the hole. The golem was easily 15 feet tall, and armored to hell. The core of the golem was squarish, with six crystal optics to give it vision. The barrels of four wands pointed out of the ingredient storages on each side. Two massive legs gave it mobility. The thing was a juggernaut, and none of the spells they were packing would even begin to scratch the armor, much less penetrate to energy stores or “brain” of the machine. Just when all hope seemed lost, Anna smacked his shoulder to grab his attention.

                          “Look,” she whispered, “there’s crystals forming on the top of it.” Sure enough, Priam saw the telltale rainbow glimmer of Mana Crystals forming around a small puncture on the top of the machine.

                          “Good catch. Looks like that leak goes straight to the power supply. If we can get a spell inside of that, we can roast the vitals.”

                          “I can jam my lance inside if we can just knock it down. Think that pillar would fall on top of it?” Anna pointed out a stone pillar near the golem. It would certainly pin it down if they could maneuver it to fall towards the machine, but Priam was still unsure.

                          “I’m not sure, that’s at least touching the ceiling. I don’t want to blow up a support and have this entire cavern fall on us too.” Looking around the cavern, he searched something that could work as a suitable replacement. “Hey, what about that tank right there?”

                          The tank itself was a solid, squarish hunk of steel. From here he could see that the generators were scrapped some time ago, but the entire machine was balanced somewhat precariously atop several other ruined vehicles. It would take a hell of a blast, but he might be able to flip it over and trap one of the golem’s legs.

                          “Think you can actually launch that?” Anna asked, skeptically.

                          Quickly checking his stock of saltpeter and Draconic blood, he gave a steady nod. “I can’t exactly launch it, but I have more than enough to flip it. I just need a good distraction so I can sneak over there.”

                          Gripping her lance tightly, Anna sighed and nodded towards a solid looking chunk of scrap.

                          “I hope you’re right. If you psyduck this up, we’re both dead. Be quick, I don’t trust any of this cover for an extended barrage.”

                          Suddenly she dashed into the room, making a break for the scrap. Pointing her lance in the direction of the massive walker, she blindly opened fire. Arrow spells flew from her lance, two at a time. Most hit, mostly due to the size of the golem more than intentional aim, but shattered helplessly against its thick steel.

                          Suddenly aware of the intruder, the golem pivoted in place to scan the room behind it. Spotting Anna just as she made a foot first slide into cover, it adjusted the angle of the wand barrels. The sound of whirring gears emerged from the ingredient storage box, and soon the cannons were armed. A small glow from within the barrels was faintly visible, just before a massive arrow spell emerged from all four barrels at once. The arrows stuck the scrap pile and left a massive crater in the side of one of the vehicles. Swallowing his anxiety, Priam started running across the room, sticking to cover in case the golem decided to turn around. He had to be quick, Anna’s cover could only take a few shots.

                          A second impact sounded through the room as Priam reached the tank. Quickly observing the situation of the tank from the other side, he mentally marked a few locations that would provide the thrust he needed to flip the hunk of steel. He loaded his high-explosive rounds into the wand with shaking fingers, nearly dropping one. He applied the spell with both hands, afraid he would misplace one and not provide the lift he needed, and soon had three catches of explosive magic ready to go off in a few seconds. He quickly retreated once the last one was in place, vaulting himself behind a sturdy burnt out excavator.

                          “HEY, JUNK HEAP,” he yelled out while firing a small arrow of his own towards the golem’s back. His shot connected, and the golem quickly turned to fire at the new intruder.

                          As soon as the golem took its first step to confront Priam, the stasis on the spells ended, unleashing the explosions. Three explosions provided enough lift to flip the tank over, and the golem suddenly found a large object moving very quickly towards it. An earthshaking crash prompted Priam to peek over his makeshift cover, where he found the foe both on its back and unable to move its now trapped leg.

                          A blur of red rushed out of cover, approaching the struggling machine. Using the momentum of her run, Anna shoved her lance through the crystals and deep inside the machine. The sound of several delicate parts breaking could be heard as she pulled the trigger, launching a burning spell inside the “brain”. The golem gave one last struggle before the light in the crystals faded.

                          “Holy muk, that worked,” Priam said, exasperated.

                          “I don’t like that you’re surprised by that.”

                          Meeting up in the middle of the room, both collapsed and let the adrenaline fade. A few minutes of “I can’t believe I’m alive” giggles and breath catching later, they got up and dusted themselves off.

                          “Well, I don’t think there’s anything worth scavenging in this thing.” Anna poked around the shell of the golem, peering inside the lance hole and running her fingers over the shattered optics.

                          “Not unless you want to lug a ton of steel, and I ain’t in the mood for that.”

                          “Someone must have reassembled this,” she muttered while walking back towards Priam, “no way that thing has been running all this time.”

                          “Who ever it is, I’ll pass on meeting them.” Priam chuckled while walking through the vehicles. “I’ve had enough golems for this month, thank you very much.”

                          “C’mon, we did so well with this one. Sure you don’t want to make a hobby of this?”

                          Anna took to filling her bag with various pieces she found, some low values but she knew she could flip within a day or two, and a few more valuable pieces that would need the right client.

                          “Found it!” Priam cried out, suddenly causing her to jump.

                          “The guy who made this?” she asked, moving towards him.

                          “No,” Priam said, beaming while moving rubble away from a vehicle. “Got a snow quad! The treads are in good shape too! I just need some engine parts and to replace the living bay and it’ll be just like the one I sold years ago!”

                          The vehicle was large enough for two people to ride, and largely intact, aside from several holes in the hood where someone broke it open to nab some parts, likely the mana condenser. The thing moved on four small treads for traction, and had a hookup on the back for a small “living bay” trailer, with a bed and cold suppression enchantments.

                          “So that’s why you brought so much floatstone.”

                          “Hell yeah, this thing is going to be awesome!”

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                          Old June 1st, 2017 (6:42 PM).
                          Orx of Twinleaf's Avatar
                          Orx of Twinleaf Orx of Twinleaf is offline
                          Branch into Psyche
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                            Borrix Toroflung

                            "home" sweet "home"

                            Borrix had gotten back to the convoy in the early evening, the sky not yet quite darkening. He surprised himself with how quickly he'd managed to round up all the stuff on his list. He hoped that he was getting better at being a hunter, after all. He still remembered one of the first things he'd done for Jroo, something about catching a young horse radish and harvesting radishheart off it. It had taken Borrix hours and hours running after the thing before he'd finally tried sneaking up on it. And even then, it still took until some time in the middle of the night just to catch it. He had come back to the Resilience in the wee hours of the morning with an improperly-shaved radishheart, a nearly empty starter pouch, a dull kukri and duller machete, and a colorful string of words being thrown liberally into the air.

                            Jroo had been patient with him, of course, and he shaved the radishheart properly and showed Borrix how to boil it and make a toxic lure that smelled powerfully of roast meat to bait traps with. Borrix had never had any reason to use radishheart since that point, since the stuff was generally reserved for poisoning big things like feathercages or hanglions, or weakening giant things like hydras or snowsharks. At his level of experience, Borrix rarely willingly engaged anything much larger than a groundhawk, or maybe geistmares if they were alone, so he didn't think it was worth the expense for him to buy any radishheart. Still, he clearly remembered how to prepare it, and was sure it would help him out down the line sometime, maybe.

                            Borrix stopped by one of the customs officers as he approached the convoy and the many stalls and stands set up around its entrance to process immigration and emigration, and keep track of goods coming and going. He shot the breeze with the wiry woman in her uniform while she weighed the jars of willow wisp acid he had harvested and took a small sample of the horruchs milk.

                            "Milking a horruchs, were you?" she asked, labelling the side of the sample with some sort of scribbled code and placing it into one of the several strange cases on the counter. "Well, best get it out of the way while ya can. I think the rut's coming up again, and you won't want to be out there when they start knocking down trees."

                            "Don't have to tell me that, that's for sure." Borrix removed the jar from his belt and placed it and its prisoner on the counter. "This is the last thing I'm bringing in."

                            The woman eyed the repeat-after-me curiously and then looked at Borrix with a look he couldn't quite place. "Are you ... Are you gonna eat this?"

                            Borrix furrowed his brow. "No?" He found it strange that a customs officer wouldn't recognize the use of something Jroo had specifically told him to bring in. Maybe Jroo just wanted a hematophagic parrot as a pet?

                            The woman picked up the jar and looked closer at the pixie. Psyduckface tinked the wall of the jar menacingly at her and piped, "Eatme!"

                            She frowned in thought and put the jar on the scale, writing something on one of the several sheets she had laid out on the counter. "Strange choice for a pet," she said.

                            Borrix wondered what Jroo had been up to, asking him to get a repeat-after-me. "It's not illegal, is it?"

                            "No, no," she assured. "As long as it's not something that could kill someone you're allowed to have it onboard, and even then as long as it's tame. I just need to make sure it's not carrying a disease." She brought out a large bottle of blue fluid and plunged a syringe through the lid to fill it. It was a huge needle, longer than Psyduckface was tall, but she only sucked a few drops of the fluid from the bottle before handing the needle to Borrix.

                            "Aren't you gonna do it?"

                            She shrugged. "I would but it's awful small. I think it'd be better if you tried it." Borrix saw the sense in this. Seemed reasonable enough.

                            Borrix took up the jar in one hand and the syringe in the other, and inserted the needle in through one of the holes in the grate-like lid. He wondered just how he was supposed to get Psyduckface to stay still long enough to jab the needle at the pixie without impaling it, but as he lowered the needle in, the repeat-after-me stood very still and looked up at it.

                            After a moment it fluttered up and closed its mouth over the tip of the needle expectantly and Borrix pushed the plunger and let it drink the drop or two of fluid in the syringe. Psyduckface hissed in displeasure but didn't spit it up: the dosage appeared to be a success. "Awful, awful, awful," Psyduckface chattered nonsensically.

                            The customs officer took the syringe back, a little surprised. "Huh. I didn't think they drank anything but blood."

                            Borrix was taken aback as well. "Me neither. They're jsut little nuisances less deadly than monsterquitos but dumber than gear jams, that's what they say."

                            "Neither-neither, huh. That's what that's dumber." Psyduckface continued chattering nonsense as Borrix clipped its jar back onto his belt.

                            The customs officer wrote something down on her papers and waved Borrix on his way. He had to admit, he couldn't help but think Psyduckface had meaning in its gibbering sometimes. At the end of the day, though, everyone knew repeat-after-mes were incapable of understanding any meaning behind the words they parroted. Even now, Psyduckface was still jabbering randomly. It was well-known that they were unthinking animals, after all.

                            As Borrix went to board the Resilience, though, he heard Psyduckface's words form another coherent sentence, as if in response to his thoughts: "Meanything but."

                            "An important rule for any person who might find themselves wanting for sustenance or hydration: magic cannot be relied upon for long-term survival. Spells operate via transmogrification principles and follow the four Laws of Arcane Balance. The first two of these laws are well-known: the Law of Absolute Death (that magic may revivify or bolster organic substances but cannot create organisms or raise a dead organism to life) and the Law of Absolute Ratio (that matter transmogrified to energy or vice-versa, or any matter or energy transmogrified from or into mana, undergoes a reversing process afterwards in such a way that the end state has the same amount of matter and energy as the beginning state). The third law, the Law of Immediate Response, states that a spell begins its effects at casting and that those effects lessen and disperse throughout the spell's cast time, independent of the perceived strength a spell may appear to maintain over its duration (spells utilizing timers or triggers are still technically in effect when cast, as the magical timer or trigger is an effect in itself). From a survival perspective, the interaction of these three laws (the Law of Agency not having a large hand in these issues) means that one is unable to subsist on water condensed from spells utilizing Hydrate: the water leaves the system before, or sometimes during or even after, it is processed by the body. In the former case this leaves one essentially no better off, but the latter can result in a condition commonly called magemuffle, resulting in withering of the body and weakening of its systems over time. This extends even to situations one might not consider related; a case in point being the attempt to use light-bringing spells to raise grain in an underground bunker, the failure of which eventually led to support of convoys in general over other contained community types. Although the grain raised was not magemuffled or even abnormal in any apparent manner, the community subsisting on it suffered heavily from kwashiorkor (a sort of nutrient defficiency, involving lack of proteins), even among adults, that was untreatable by increased rations of meat from the livestock, also raised on the grain. It was determined that the magical light used in bringing up the grain attributed it some manner of arcane toxicity, or else simple nutritional unsoundness. Why the livestock were not affected in their person was attributed to bestial rumination spells, although their meat retained the properties of the grain. This incident and others helped to cement the rule that magic is a fuel, and not a foundation; magically-powered lighting machines do not impart this effect."
                            Excerpt from Magic: Fun to Cast With, Not to Eat; Dos and Don'ts of Using Magic to Survive
                            "Not in right now, or else I don't feel like talking. Leave me a message, I'll get back to you." Jroo's recorded voice crackled a little through Borrix's cheap phone and gave way to a low beep signalling his answering machine was recording.

                            "It's Borrix, I got those things you asked for. I'll be at the Boisterous Breezeswoop for lunch tomorrow if you wanna meet me there, or you can call me back when you're ready. See ya then." Borrix hung up the phone on its wall mount and then took off his backpack and set it down in his ancient recliner.

                            "Ready," Psyduckface yapped from its jar on his belt. The little pixie had been surprisingly quiet on the way into the residence cars but had still drawn a lot of funny looks.

                            "You wait, Psyduckface," Borrix said, unlatching the jar and setting it on the nightstand, next to the shadeless lamp and one of the three drinking glasses he owned, this one still holding a quantity of a pale liquid Borrix couldn't remember pouring but would most definitely end up drinking regardless. He grabbed the remote and turned on his bulky television; Psyduckface promptly set to watching it and ceased tapping on its jar.

                            Borrix's residence was one of the smaller residential quarters, a D-Rank Residential Room: a long room akin to something Borrix had occasionally seen pulled around some of the eastern villages, "mobile homes" they called them, but lacking windows and with more width to it. Something like a wide and short hall, with a single door near the back that opened into a small bathroom, rendering the whole thing L-shaped to an extent. The D-Rank room next door was L-shaped with its bathroom near the hall entrance, such that Borrix's room fit with it and allowed a vacant space behind the walls that Borrix had always supposed had minor water pumps or electric utilities, judging by the hum that occasionally came from there, although he also knew there must be some sort of incinerator or trash chute because of the hatch he'd always used as a one-way trash can. D-Rank rooms benefitted from heating, unreliable or no, and were comfortable for single persons. And Borrix was a single person. He didn't need any more room.

                            Most rooms didn't have a windowit'd sap the heat anywaybut Borrix knew Jroo's did, so it wasn't unheard of. Borrix's room, like most below A-Rank, did not benefit from natural light, but a single switch-operated ceiling light proved handy enough, with an extra switch near the bed, and Borrix had his old floral-pattern lamp if he needed extra light, although he had lost the shade somehow. His television, clunky and aged, had been among the things he had brought on when he first boarded the Resilience, and he had to admit it looked more at home in this room than it had in the C-Rank room he had been in with Martha and his son.

                            At this unhappy trail of thought, Borrix paused to regain his composure, and joined Psyduckface in staring blankly at the TV screen, that soft nonsense glow had been one of the only things that made him feel really at home for some time, now. Currently portrayed was a rerun of an earlier recording by that young Rose huntress, fighting something in the ocean and exemplifying quite prettily how a slight girl was easily combatting monsters in the harshest of freezing conditions when meanwhile Borrix had had a hard time sticking a jar into a plant and pulling on a big bovine's nipples. Borrix flipped the channel past an episode of Bobby the Breezeswoopthe one where Bobby tried to be a convoy pilot, Borrix recognized it even from the brief glimpse of that iconic cartoon bird talking to Milton the Mouseticore, both in convoy engineer garband left it on a publicly-broadcast report on the state of Baybrook and its surrounding areas.

                            Psyduckface made chittering noises and tapped its jar in agitation until Borrix flipped it back to Bobby the Breezeswoop, though, so Borrix had to endure hearing the episode play in the background while he unpacked the jars of willow wisp acid and stacked them against the wall. He took the lidded bucket of horruchs milk and set it in the icebox he kept at the foot of his cot; there was just enough room for it once he moved all his various jams and pickles to one side. He replaced the bread and unrefrigerated jars on top of the ice box and then went to the writing desk he kept next to the televisionso he didn't need to move his chair too far to use it, seeand brought out his starterbox, putting back his unused starters and making sure his wand was unloaded. He put away the box and his wand, and took off his kukri and hat, and then went to his chair, moving the backpack to the floor.

                            Although the heater worked it didn't always work well, and Borrix preferred to leave his coat on; the carpet had suffered worse affronts than swamp mud before, and Borrix left his boots on, too. He picked up the remote and switched off of Bobby the Breezeswoop; it was reminding him too much of the son he couldn't see anymore. "Sorry Psyduckface, I wanna watch something else."

                            "Wanna watch," Psyduckface protested weakly, but subsided and seemed to be just as interested in Borrix's choice of Stories of the Slums. Borrix had initially found the program vulgar, but its more recent episodes had been more interesting than shocking, and Borrix considered them as much likely to expand his mind as the handful of rented textbooks he rotated out of the bottom drawer of his desk. Tonight they were covering an incident onboard the Gravitas from several years ago, when local bounty hunters managed to crack down on the prime suspect in a string of murder cases that had been committed in various open alleys, often mere feet from the main streets. The culprit had evidently been using Muffle spells, or some composition of them, to render the acts silent, and the bounty hunters had worked with local enforcers to track large purchases of breezeswoop feathers to an Overtown (Gravitas's Hightown analog) man that had employed cutthroats and supplied them to thin the number of junk peddlers to keep his own scrap metal business going strong.

                            Borrix yawned and felt himself dozing off with the television's droning lullaby speaking to him. Psyduckface clinked the jar and, without thinking as clearly as he might have without the haze of sleep on him, Borrix reached over, unscrewed the lid, and said, "There's jam in the ice box, make yourself a sandwich if you get hungry."

                            And then he was asleep.
                            A Cup of Dreams, Pour in Your Soul, a Pinch of Knowing, Stir in with Hope,
                            and Drink to Despair and Celebration: Drink it All and Stay Asleep, Drink in Parts and Vomit it Back
                            Joy, Relief, Fury, Fear, Sorrow, Longing, and Pain, Colors that Forever Cope
                            Despondency and Guilt with Ambition and Pride, No One of this World and Species may Truly Lack
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