Hidden 7 mos ago Post by Lady Selune
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Lady Selune Degenerate Queen, Young and Sweet.

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The Northern Spirit was an overnight train that passed from the west of Perafidion across to the East, making numerous stops in order to restock its supplies of fuel, the food that was served every morning, midday and eve in the dining carriage, and the passengers that would inevitably spend their money in the dining carriage. A third-class ticket, in a rear carriage and in poor conditions, was not a great expense, whereas an opportunity to sequester oneself in the first-class coaches near the front would run an individual no small sum.

Father Giles McNamara, along with a young, fit lad by the name of Maurice Mirtowitz, were neither in the poorest nor the richest place. Instead they found themselves in a comfortable, if slightly spartan, second-class carriage, the evening's opening of the dining carriage about to occur shortly. For his part, McNamara was quite calmly lying over the covers on the lower of the bunks, leafing through a clergyman's edition of the Third Testament of Joseph, a rather informative book covering the travels of an early prophet and firebrand of the Light.

The small cabin was illuminated by a weakly spitting candle, which meant that he had to constantly pause to allow for the flame to pick up after it sputtered thanks to a bump or rattle- which was near-constantly. He had gotten through three pages in approximately forty minutes, and it was beginning to irritate him. He didn't want to overly strain his eyes- blindness was a malady he hoped to very much avoid.

It was just when he was about to give up when the journey was suddenly and dramatically interrupted. An ear-splitting bang split the night, and with a jolt that could be felt through McNamara's bones the train came to an instant stop. The carriage he was in wobbled slightly in place, threatening to tip over and send them crashing to the side, but slowly managed to stabilise. Unfortunately, it seemed that further down such a catastrophe had not been avoided so cleanly, with a less loud, but by no means quiet crashing sound, screams, shouts and cries echoing out across the train.

The sudden jerk had sent the candle toppling to the carpeted floor, where already it was threatening to ignite. A swift boot down to the ground crushed the fledgling flame as it grew- the Light's more destructive aspect was not appreciated at a time such as this. Turning and looking at the young man that he had taken as an apprentice, Giles was a whirlwind of action immediately. "In a crisis, it is up to those of the faith to guide and educate those who are not familiar with how to handle themselves. Never must we allow ourselves to be passive bystanders." He kept his voice even as he reached for his travelling case- retrieving his pistol and six shots, before placing his book into it and snapping it shut.

Calmly, he broke the gun open and slotted in the two shells. Snapping it smartly back, he carefully half-cocked the two chambers, and then tucked the gun into a pocket of his heavy coat, making certain that it would neither topple out, nor be inconvenient to retrieve in an instant. "Equally however," he said, continuing the level, "dashing out without first adequately preparing oneself for the trials that they might face is negligent, and should also be avoided." The priest would take a lantern that had thankfully not shattered itself, ignited it, and then placed it on the small table in the room. "Take that would you please? My hands can but carry two things at once." The last things he would take would be his hat, and then the axe that had fallen from where it rested at the end of the bunk. with a firm grasp on the haft, and the other on the handle of his case, he would open the door to the small room they had gotten and entered the corridor, looking out.

Despite the time, with the sun having dipped below the horizon, it was fairly bright outside. The moon seemed large, and beamed down, shedding more light than the miserly amount given out by various light sources from the train. Just beside the tracks were thick and heavy forest, the workmen responsible for laying the tracks likely having hewn the sleepers from the same wood, with an excess of labour of course. Heading to the door normally used to a calm disembarkation onto a station, the older man would place his case down and then reach for the handle, clicking it open. Unlocked. Interesting.

A short hop down, and then he would look up and down the carriages. To the rear, he could see one... Two of the coaches on their sides. That was where the majority of the noises of human misery came from. The front however... Although less damaged, the quiet that came from the very front- where the boiler and the train driver would sit, was suspicious to him. He would no doubt be investigating that, but first... To the rear. Lend his assistance to those in the greatest need of it.
Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by Hekazu
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Hekazu Cleric to Dice Gods

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In the first carriage past the engine and boiler themselves, the second rate first class as people liked to call it, a small figure travelling with seemingly nobody to watch over them had earned quite a few concerned gazes for herself. A child in such a heavy coat all the way out here, hood over their head and a satchel held tight against their chest. Eyes cast down so that one couldn't see much in the shadows of the train, but where they did they could swear the image they had of the little one on a lonesome journey shook with the expression they could barely glimpse. That of someone on high alert, and not in a nervous manner like a child in new company would be. This one was looking out for something in particular, carrying on an agenda with themselves.

This "child" would indeed turn out to be no child at all, but Paula Creek whose current task had necessitated her presence here at the very front. She vastly preferred other means of travel, trains always getting filled with gawkers. Too many of the sort for her to really explain the situation either, and that meant she couldn't wear her mask comfortably. Not with the questions they would raise. And that set her on edge for a whole another reason, but trying to hide it any further would only end up drawing more attention to it, and so she neglected to take such measures. Besides, she had a task she needed to see to. She wasn't on the train for pleasure.

And as it would turn out, the conditions would go through a sudden and rather loud a shift. Just like had been rumoured, there was a sudden loss of speed and people ended up flung forward. Paula took the opportunity to pull her mask out of the satchel and strap it to her cranium, earning very concerned looks from people around her. Just as some nobody opened their mouth to ask, she pulled out the ratting piece and all voices fell even further silent than they already were, spare for a few moaning in discomfort after hitting their head on something or otherwise injuring themselves in the jerky stop. The Huntress confidently strode across the hallway towards the door at the other end, earning few more looks her way, but still being left well alone. Ah, and look at that, luck was on her side. Her charge was by most visible accounts completely fine. Must have been the weight keeping them anchored to his seat. Could've been nasty if he'd flown though, that was for sure.

But that was more or less where that luck ran out. Getting all the way to the window was a bit of a challenge on its own, her definitely not being the only individual with said idea. People were pushing her left, right, back and front, and some even managing such a thing diagonally too. It was a near miracle she didn't get trampled, and it could well be her only saving grace was how she could raise her voice and wave the still not loaded gun around. When would she have had time to do such a thing after all? It wasn't something these people would need to know.

As she finally reached her destination and pushed the last man in her way to the left with her gloved hand, her glance out of the window on the door explained the sudden stoppage without any doubts. Something rather integral to the continuation of this journey was missing. Namely that would have been the engine. And the boiler. Both at the same time. There were a few sparse fragments left of the latter, still attached to the carriage she as peering from and standing on one pair of wheels, but those wouldn't amount to crap when it came to getting the journey finished. And if she knew something, this hadn't been a boiler explosion. Sure, there was wood and blood scattered in many directions. But any further wreckage was missing. And the boom had been much too silent.

But that was some distressing knowledge there. Paula inhaled sharply through her mask and turned around, her eyes scanning the room where quite a few had already begun gathering their wits about them, and using them for what people do best. Panicking. Shouts rang out into the closed carriage at a volume far from appropriate for inside areas. Paula was lucky she had her hood to buffer out the biggest bite of the noise. Who would have wanted to hear shouts such as "We are stuck in the middle of nowhere!", "The engine is gone the engine is gone the engine is gone!", "Every man for himself!" and other incessant prattling that would lead them nowhere other than running each other over in their haste to kill themselves off.

"Shut your pieholes and listen, why won't you?" she shouted out, her voice partially muffled by the mask, but she nonetheless collected the attention of a few individuals. Be it that the attention was mostly the kind of attention one would give to a highwayman, a scared kind of moment judging whether to fight or set flight. She rolled her eyes behind the mask lenses. "If I wanted to get all tough-like, I would have done so already. So sit your asses down. If whatever took the engine out wanted us too, what makes you think it wouldn't already have?" A grim outlook, but as long as she didn't know what the threat was it was the most realistic way of handling the situation. Though it naturally wouldn't sit well with all, or even most. The panicking resumed.

While Paula sighed behind her mask and shook her head again, this wasn't a new situation for her. She preferred to go into a fight knowing what she was facing, and right now she had very little clue as to what anything here could stand for. So all she could do was to try and keep this lot contained before they killed themselves off. She could always hope, since if they began brawling, then there was very little her armaments could do to defuse the situation without sending the fighters to meet the reaper.
Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by Circ
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Blood smudged the rim of her violin case where the skull of her caretaker struck. Now he, in his soiled white service uniform, lay as an inert heap rather than a man. Precipitously alone in an enclosed compartment furnished only by a single straight-backed padded bench, Lisette seemed not to notice, and sat immobile, her face, a mask of near catatonia, inclined ever so slightly toward the adjacent window glass, bereft of the minor luxuries of blinds or curtains, whereon her ghostly reflection obscured the scenery. Occasionally, her lips parted and her throat gave life to an inaudible murmur, ostensibly part of some ill-constrained inner dialogue.

“Ma’am?” the first-class porter ventured around the just opened door of her private, albeit compact, compartment.

At first she didn’t react. Her fingers were gracefully intertwined on her lap and her ankles were neatly crossed, the tip of one of her leather-soled slippers dangerously encroached upon by the grisly pool as it expanded across the carpeted floor. Whatever she thought she saw in the window evidently fascinated her. A moment passed. Finally the porter, indecisive and still somewhat whelmed by the scene, thought again to inquire, yet louder, when Lisette started. Her back straightened and she turned on him quite suddenly, a pale hand drawn up in front of her half-opened mouth in a muted gasp of astonishment. He, likewise startled, lurched backwards into the side hall, but quickly recovered his manly resolve. Confronted by the lady’s wide-eyed expression and passive silence, he again neared, rather abashed, and delicately probed, “Ma’am, are you unharmed?”

“Why yes,” Lisette replied, her enunciation gradual and mellow voice barely raised above a whisper, “I suppose it is nearly dinner. But no, I’m not rather hungry. Perhaps a chamomile?”

The porter frowned. The lady was obviously in shock, based on his inexpert evaluation. Eccentric at the very least. He perceived it best to not confront her with the body at her feet and, as he would with his anile grandmother, helpfully lied, “We’ve made a brief stop in the country. If you’d be so kind as to accompany me, you may take your tea out in the fresh air.”

With a facile gesture, she grasped his proffered hand for support. With her other she plucked her violin case out of the carnage, still, by all appearances, oblivious to the macabre display. “That would be agreeable,” she conceded. Her hand in his, she departed the compartment and avoided without acknowledgment the otherwise obvious hurdle. From there they strolled down the hall, out the car, down three steps, and into a pleasant little pasture. The promised fresh air was still polluted with smog from the combustion of coal, but a cool breeze steadily pushed such southwest.

“I’ll be back with your tea, ma’am,” the porter excused himself then rushed off to check on Lisette’s caretaker, whom he assumed, but soon with certainty ascertained, died as a consequence of the train’s abrupt halt.

“His tanned flesh a fine canvas, painted sanguine, stretched upon frame of bones,” Lisette darkly whispered, her senses focused on a distant nowhere. Inevitably, she returned to the present and relaxed herself on the lawn. There, almost indifferently, she observed other passengers disembark and scurry to and fro, in particular a man, perhaps a priest, as he rushed toward the rear of the train where several derailed carriages disrupted the bucolic scenery. Nobody, as yet, seemed to have noticed the front of the train which, from her vantage, appeared—or rather failed to appear—unaccounted for.
Hidden 7 mos ago Post by Ashgan
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Lucienne watched the wine swirl gently back and forth in her glass, staring at and perpetuating the motion with an almost hypnotic fixation. She lay sprawled on the soft, rich purple velvet of the multi-seat cabin of which she was the sole occupant, her nude feet absentmindedly rubbing against the delicate fabric. Her elbow rested on the polished wooden table to her right, whereupon a half-empty bottle of Perafidian wine rested comfortably in a small bucket. The taste, she judged, was nothing like those of her home land and she had almost felt inclined to refuse paying for the bottle entirely – but did so anyway out of pity. After all, not all nations could be held to Valencian standards, which were of course the highest on the continent. What passed for wine here would have to do, especially since, she knew, there was no wine in the entire world that could fully quench her thirst. She lusted after something else, something more vivid and intense that no terrestrial plant could provide.

How long had it been now? The coming week would mark the fourth month after her last taste, and her ordained search for the Key to the Eclipse. But the taste still lingered on her lips, sweet as honey and inflamed like a wound. A taste that twisted her insides into a knot, half from perverse ecstasy, half from mind-wracking guilt. But with every drop she drank, she found that the former only increased while the latter became less. Most likely the queen, who could not go a single day without visiting the gardens, felt no remorse at all anymore. How Lucienne envied such freedom of conscience. It would make many things in life so much easier. But perhaps this too was part of her duties as her ladyship’s knight – to bear her burdens, and to bear her guilt. If she could carry this cross for her, then the queen could remain as innocent as a virgin. What a beautiful thought. To that she raised her glass and put it to her rosy lips.

But no wine ever made it across the glass’s threshold and before she could process what was going on her drink was already hurtling towards the right-hand wall, and her ribs were pressed into the hard edge of the table she’d been leaning on. The rest of the unfixed objects in the cabin followed suit and were violently propelled forward as the train came to an abrupt and unforeseen halt, following a very loud and concerning noise not dissimilar to thunder or an explosion. The glass and bottle smashed against the wall and shattered there like a child’s skull, leaving a large, dark red stain that ran down in thick, fast-running droplets towards the ground where a dusty carpet greedily drank the strong-smelling spillage. Gasping for breath, the pain in her side catching up to her, Lucienne pushed herself away from the table and into an upright position.

“Nom de lumière, c’est quoi ça?“ she grumbled under her breath. Had there been an accident? They were in the middle of nowhere, there was no way they could have run into anything on the tracks – at least nothing that would have provoked a stop in their journey.

“’allo?” she yelled, hoping that somebody would have the decency of explaining to her the nature of this disaster. Her lips pressed together in a visibly furious pucker, she slid on her mercifully unstained, black stockings before slipping into her boots. The pain in her side pulsed in rhythm to her heartbeat and would almost certainly leave an unsightly bruise for a week or two. At least it did not feel as if her rib was broken. Fishing her suitcase – securely closed and locked – from the stinking pool of wine in which it lay and giving it a good shake, she opened the cabin door and stepped out into the corridor where could be heard a commotion of wails and panicked complaining.

Opening cabin doors and asking other passengers what was going on earned her mostly confused looks and professions of ignorance and, before she knew it, she found herself at the other end of the carriage and none the wiser. Spitting out some Valencian obscenity not at all befitting of one of noble birth, she was about to kick the door into the next carriage when it was opened from the other side where an adolescent cabin boy looked at her with a mixture of surprise and shock. Quickly regaining her composure, she retracted her foot and straightened her posture.

“Qu'est-ce que… W-what is the meaning of this?” she managed to produce after fumbling for the right words for a second or two, her tone stern. A heavy Valencian accent laced every syllable.

“Sorry Ma’am, I uh – it sounds like there’s been an accident of some sort. N-not to worry, we won’t be delayed for too long. Ah, are you hurt?”

The young man was clearly unaccustomed to both his duties and the extraordinary situation. Perhaps, she wondered, this was his first ride as an attendant. Lucky him.

“Oui, but it is not very serious. There are people in this wagon who need help more,” she pointed behind herself where other passengers – those who could stand, at least – were beginning to congregate as well.

“Yes, of course. My apologies. C-could I ask Ma’am to disembark, right here?” he motioned towards, and headed for, the door where normally one would exit onto the quay. He opened the door and beckoned Lucienne and the others, before heading back into the train and asking if there are any wounded who need help.

She paid him no further heed and hopped off the last step onto the cold soil outside, where a gentle fog (or was it smoke?) enveloped her in the smell of burnt coal. Casually resting her left hand on the polished, golden basket guard of her rapier Lucienne looked up and down the length of the railway, having slight difficulties seeing through the smoggy twilight of late evening. Near most carriages, small groups of passengers were beginning to assemble outside and she thought she saw that one or possibly more carriages towards the rear end had toppled over. Third class passengers, if she recalled, so the losses were thoroughly acceptable from a statistical standpoint, though of course the pointless loss of life was not something to be cheered at. Towards the other end, however, she had trouble seeing at all – that was, spotting the train engine. Perhaps it was simply the dark giving her trouble, but she wanted to say that there was no front anymore at all to the train. But that would be absurd. Certainly her eyes were playing tricks on her. Certainly.

Turning around, she cast a wary glance at the other passengers who were slowly getting out of her carriage and gathering near her – not too hear, but also not too far. Impatience gnawed at her as she stood and waited for something, anything, to happen.
Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by Vox
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Rowena of Roekirk
Acolyte of Light



In the buzzing backdrop of human noise inside a third-class carriage that trailed the end of the Northern Spirit, a young woman sat staring into the bright, moonlit night. On one side of her, a family ate their meal: a boy, a girl, and their mother. Julian, the boy, alternated between wolfing down his meal and laughing at his sister. Like most boys his age, he enjoyed tales of bravery and heroism, of valiant individuals who stood alone against the Dark. His sister, Agatha, was of like mind and was infinitesimally fascinated by the sight of a woman bearing arms. Their mother, Marianne, disapproved of such curiosities if the scolding of Agatha's eating manners was any indication, but she had nevertheless appreciated any sort of respite from the caring of her children.

Rowena was content to leave the family in their small bubble, granting them what limited privacy she could as her eyes remained transfixed on the moon that dominated the window on the opposite side. The irregular drumming of her fingertips against the windowsill echoed in chorus with the steady click-clack of the train gliding underneath her feet. A smile played on her lips as she hummed a hymn of Light in rhythm with the odd beat as Julian had found a mysterious piece of meat that had somehow made its way into his bowl of gruel and the subsequent argument the two siblings had over it.

Then the smile faded. A hitch in the tune, an offbeat rhythm of the tracks, and the dread of danger became burned into Rowena's every nerve and pore. With only a moment's hesitation, the acolyte leaped forward to entrap and cocoon the small girl that had sat in front of her. Whatever had followed next was only marked in Rowena's memory by a thunderous bang, a piercing screech, and the world turning sideways for but a moment before everything was encapsulated in utter blackness.

When the world came to once more, it was met with a dull ringing that slowly gave way to the sound of others coming to and the quiet atmosphere that preceded whatever shock and horror that may come next. Rowena, in her dazed state, was pleasantly surprised to find that the only issue she had in regaining consciousness was that her window had become the new floor of which she was currently curled on. Glass also lay in shards all around her, but it seemed as if her thick clothing had saved her from the worst of it. Still, she could feel them clawed into her hair. The adrenaline had also likely blocked her perception of them, but there was also no doubt that she had also suffered several bruises or two. Both problems to be solved at a later time.

What was even more of a pleasant surprise at least was to find that the bundle of warmth that beat on her chest also lay unharmed for the most part. Agatha had gripped herself tight to the young acolyte, shivering in fear but seemingly no worse for wear. Her brother and mother, however, were unfortunately nowhere to be seen.

Automatically her instincts rose to action far faster than her mind could, and Rowena sluggishly managed to extricate herself from Agatha's desperate grip in order to search for her own belongings. By some miracle of the Light, most of it had remained relatively undisturbed. The rest could be found at a later time and place. Not all of the items before her would be necessary, but out of habit, she shouldered her clothed musket and its various accouterments before grabbing her spear and the jumbled bag that held her first aid supplies.

Now armed with her tools and a prayer, the acolyte rose to walk amongst the mangled mess of humanity before her alongside the familiar rising chorus of suffering and pain that always accompanied it. Confronted with a new challenge and purpose, she strode amongst the broken and needful and resumed her hymn to this new cadence, choosing to ignore the shakiness in her voice. Truly were they all the Light's blessed today.

Her eyes wandered from one shape to the next, her subconscious sorting the list of bodies before her. Among them, Rowena had found Marianne some aisles down, dazed and concussed, but that was the extent of her injuries. Julian, who was but one aisle down further, was in much worse condition. He was trapped under an unconscious heavyset man, which Rowena moved aside easily, only to reveal the boy bloody and broken. His left arm lay at an unnatural angle, his chest moved in an odd pattern, and blood gurgled from his mouth as he also lay choking on something. Once more, the beat of her tune became off as she took in the sight in front of her. There was naught to be done by standing idle, however, and so she set to her work.

Unfortunately, the most she could do for the boy was to set his arm and force out the obstruction in his throat, which likely only exacerbated his internal bleeding. She had neither the tools nor the time to treat the boy further. The last thing she could do for him was to place him at his mother's side, and so she did. Leaving the future corpse in the loving embrace of its mother and a prayer for its Light to return to divine radiance, she set back down her path to treat those she could, resuming her song and smile once more.
Hidden 7 mos ago Post by Eisenhorn
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The constant, steady rattle of the train was, frankly, unsettling for Weiland. He never traveled by train, either marching or riding by wagon whenever en route between locations, both before and after his departure from his postings. The cramped, buzzing chatter and noise of the packed 3rd class coach was also something one might consider as unpleasant, but the former soldier took solace in the sound of human activity. The fellow passengers in his part of the coach were kindly enough folks. Two elders, a couple visiting their son in the city, and either did not care or did not feel concern at sharing space with a man who bore arms, yet no coat of arms or insignia identifying him anymore. He had held polite conversation with the older man and woman for a spell, though names were either not exchanged, or had promptly faded from memory, before the two had taken to slumber, clearly accustomed to travel by train. Weiland chose to stare at the passing trees, listening to the rattle of the carriage while an old soldier's marching tune played through his head.

With thoughts wandering and his train of thought scattered and displaced, the feeling of his gut instinct suddenly kicking in, screaming of danger brought him back from his half dozing state, adrenaline spiking. His mind registered it seconds later, the constant of the train on tracks had been broken, and before he had a chance to bark out a warning, or even a word towards the couple across from him, the impact slammed his head back against the wall, knocking him soundly and, blessedly, unconscious for the duration of the 3rd class carriage's derailment.

With the return to the waking world came a painful throbbing in Weiland's head, and he carefully opened only one eye. He was currently under a heavy weight, and as his eye adjusted to the light present, it was the old husband, devoid of even a slight movement indicating breath. Freeing his sword arm, he checked the man's neck and felt nothing, and with a grunt shoved the old man's body off him. Picking himself up, his hand felt along the back of his reddish hair, coming back bloody. The pain was fading to only encompass where the cut on the back of his head probably was, so he had to assume he'd gotten off light. The elderly woman was also present, though she was either still unconscious or dead as well. Kneeling by her side, he didn't even bother checking her throat as well, as her head had been whipped and left at an angle that would leave someone very much dead. Opening his other eye, he adjusted to the moonlight that was filtering into the ruined carriage, letting his senses adjust as well before moving forward with any sort of plans.

What caught Weiland's ear was a song, foreign to him but sounding of something worshipper's of the Light often chanted on about. Turning to follow its source was what looked like a younger woman, standing tall in her conviction and tending to those who were injured and could be helped. She was likely far better equipped to aiding the wounded and dying better than him, a soldier's prayer a far cry from someone who seemed at least versed in the ways of the Light. Gathering his meager belongings, sword strapped to his side and shield strapped to his arm, he cleared himself from the dead couple and addressed the young woman, seeing no sense in acting independently when they were, quite literally, stuck in this mess together. His voice carried an accent typical of his home city, though he tried to make himself clear all the same. "Keep doing what you can, better than I would manage, I'd wager. I'll see to getting outside and getting an idea of what's going on, find some extra hands to help."

Weiland's voice carried with it a calm and collected tone, a soldier's professionalism in the face of wanton suffering and death. Indeed, he turned his back on the acolyte once she'd had a chance to respond, if she so chose to, heading for the end of the car, the door slightly ajar, hanging from what now formed the roof of the carriage. Hauling himself upwards, he pushed the door clear enough to get through, dropping down with the connecting metal strut to his back, cautiously moving out from between two of the wrecked carriages, one hand resting on his sword, the other arm with his shield at a low ready, scanning the moonlit fields for any sign of their assailants. First thought was bandits, and a glance confirmed the further forward, and richer, cars were relatively unscathed. He could also see some people disembarking already, and started forward, spotting what looked like a man in the robes of a Light practitioner as well. Approaching, even Weiland could recognize the markings of an Investigator, the armor and overall attire being quite distinct, but in times like these, he was a welcome sight, and assumed the man carried the title of Father.

"Hail there, Father. I've news from the rear carriages, mostly ill as it may be. One of your own, a Light follower, is tending to the injured as best she can, but she'll need help. Getting those that weren't so lucky as to be walking under their own power will not be easy either, assuming those that aren't dead already can be helped." Weiland was not about to rely on the charity or concern of the richer front class, or those assigned to tending to their whims. So that meant relying on those who weren't heavily injured by the wreck, and those who were driven by faith to tend to their fellow man. Depending what the Investigator had to say would dictate his next actions accordingly, though his head and senses were scanning their surroundings, there was no way that the train just 'accidentally' derailed violently, leaving Light knows how many stranded, including that much wealth given the forward carriages.
Hidden 7 mos ago Post by Peik
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Sitting across Father McNamara was his apprentice, Maurice of Mitrowitz, Lightbringer to the Order of the Gracious Saint Massard of Mitrowitz, and novice Church Investigator; Unlike the good father, Maurice had spent the majority of the journey napping, his head either resting atop one of his shoulders or against the window frame, miraculously comfortable with the constant rattling of the carriage atop the tracks. It was perhaps not leaving the best of impressions on his new superior, but Maurice wasn't the sort of fellow who was particularly knowledgeable about leaving a good impression; for him, there wasn't much more to show than merit at work, and acting in good faith. And thus he could sleep.

Or so he thought.

Suddenly jolted forward out of his sleep and almost into the small table built under the window frame, Maurice barely managed to prevent his face getting bashed into the furniture and possibly causing him to require medical attention. His mind, it seemed, worked slower than his reflexes did; it took him a few seconds to comprehend what had just occurred, and by that time, his superior had already begun lecturing Maurice while loading his pistol in the meantime. Not wanting to stutter out a flimsy agreement and make himself look weak, Maurice merely nodded as his eyes darted out to where his oversized 'instrument case' had been. Thankfully for him, the sheer weight of its contents had kept the case from flying out of where Maurice had tucked it; with a firm grasp, Maurice pulled it from its spot as his superior this time lectured him on the dangers of brashness, and asked him to grab a lantern. As expected, Maurice complied.

Outside, under the bright moonlight, Maurice found the lantern somewhat useless for a second, but deduced that it would be of use to find possible victims obscured by shadows. Plus, it was likely that the light sources inside the carriages were not of use anymore; from the voices that he could make out, things weren't going all too well inside them, and there was little doubt that somebody would have to go inside them to carry out the incapacitated or wounded. And there was no doubt that he would be amongst those 'somebodies'. It was, after all, his position's duty, not to mention the right thing to do; out of his immense strength, if not anything else. Although that would be delayed by incoming news, relayed by a fellow who looked like he'd just arrived from four hundred years ago. Sword, shield and mail, in this age... "And they call me outdated," he thought to himself.

Listening to the prehistoric (because everybody knew that history did not matter before gunpowder) warrior's words, Maurice could not help but look at his superior, awaiting permission to go into the derailed carriages and begin hauling the victims out. "Shall I, master?" He asked, to expedite his superior's response. While he had respect for those above him in merit and degree, this was not time for following formal protocol. Not when innocent lives are at stake.

Hidden 6 mos ago Post by Lady Selune
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The good Father had just begun his walk when his ears were serenaded by a peculiar tune- a hymn. His ears pricked up, and his eyes began searching for the individual that brought such hope to this dark time, but before he could, a man with most peculiar style had appeared. In all honesty, McNamara hadn't seen an individual wearing such garb since he was a young boy and a sword and shield had still been the symbols of the guard in many a city. To show a preference like that... The man was either very foolish, or a very experienced veteran. His words were true though, and that was what mattered.

"Another follower? I would presume her to be the individual who is so serenading us." He would tilt his head upwards, but a slight breeze chose then to waft the sound away from his ears. Maurice- his apprentice, such as he was, wanted permission to begin assisting people. "It's Father my dear boy. Sir if you absolutely insist on the military ranks, but the light renders us all equal- nobody is another's master." Perhaps the upper classes needed to be reminded of that some day. "Go, lend some assistance to them, by all means."

Once Maurice had been handled, he would turn back to the archaic footman. "Your help would be much appreciated. Can you perhaps go to the front and find out what caused us to stop in such a violent fashion? if you encounter anyone else with enough sense of duty to take care of their fellow man, perhaps ask them to assemble here at the back. That way, we might be able to come to a goodly number of the survivors."

Reaching up and scratching the little bit of stubble on his face, McNamara would settle his hat more firmly on his head. Hopefully the soldier would do as he had been bid, leaving him to take up his carrying case once more and attempt to find the dame that was singing. His feet would carry him down along the tracks, to where the rear coaches would come into view proper. The flicker of candle and lantern hid the worst of it, but it was still a terrible sight to see.

The last two carriages lay like great beached beasts, forming a rough semicircle of shattered timber and scrap metal. Glass shards covered the ground, crunching underneath each step, and here and there individuals both living and dead would lie, the ground soaking up the blood that trickled down. It was a small blessing that it had been dry- for at least a manageable campfire might be constructed. His explorations to the rear would find the source of the song- a tall, blonde woman wearing some peculiar clerical clothes.

"Sister," he said, with a slight relief in his voice. "It is good to see another confirmed of the faith. Did you see what happened here at the time of the crash?"
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A voice, calm and professional, a voice that bespoke of experience and one that sounded far from home reached out to Rowena as she was in the midst of setting a man's shoulder back into place. She didn't bother turning around to look at the voice, trusting that they would set out do what they had promised. Instead, she raised her own voice slightly higher in the hymn, singing "Yea, though I walk in death's dark vale, yet will I fear no ill," in response with a resounding crack as she righted the man's shoulder.

As she moved from body to body, she noted with some satisfaction and comfort the other voices that had begun to join her in the hymns, clinging to their spiritual bastions in this dark moment. Their voices were like newborn lambs, wobbling and shaking, but growing stronger with every note and with every voice that joined their impromptu choir. A few of the more able bodied passengers even approached the young acolyte, offering to help in whatever capacity they could. She had the most collected among them help with the more delicate operations, a few to collect supplies such as clean cloth, thread, sturdy pieces of scrap, and other things of that nature, but with most of the others Rowena sent them out to offer whatever comfort they could provide to those who were more suffering in mind and soul rather than in flesh and bone.

Her work quickly took her outside the carriage, helping those who were unfortunate enough to be thrown out of the, apparently, two carraiges that had turned over. It is there another odd voice found her, this time her hands occupied in stiching together a woman who had the poor luck to have a large diagonal gash almost across the entirety of her tricep. This time the voice was stern, cool, carrying itself with the grace of age. His words made him out to be another member of the church, which only prompted Rowena to quickly and eagerly finish the operation with a final knot before leaving the patient in the quiet care of her husband.

Rowena retrieved her weaponry from the ground where they rested and rose to face the voice of man who looked to be no older than fifty dressed in the garb of a holy Investigator. She quickly gave a small bow in deference, wiping her hands on a black cossack that was already marred with blood, the red tabard with its white flame adorning her front similarly painted. "Unfortunately no, Father, I was out of sorts during the actual crash," she replied, her voice soft yet still strong. "All I know is that one moment we were well on our way, the next I found myself lying down on what was formerly the wall of my carriage. Ah, but forgive me for my poor manners, I am not yet a Sister, but a novice that still has to fully take all my vows. Rowena of Roekirk, at your service."

As engrossed as she was in her efforts, she gave little thought to those who lay in the other carriages seeing as how many of them were still firmly placed on the steel tracks which admittedly filled her with some amount of shame. "Is everyone towards the front alright? I'm hoping most of the worst injuries are located here, but I should set up a station towards the center if there are any that require aid in the other carriages."
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Observation of the every-man’s plight and its monotonous drudgery was generally a tedious affair for Lisette, but, as she knelt in the tall grass, not yet moistened by the predawn dew, she barely masked her delight as the symphony of chaos around her dilated. Cast in an amorphous halo by the full moon’s beams, the countryside, to her already exotic given her exclusivity to the city, seemed nigh numinous. A stone’s throw behind where she waited, the line of trees that formed the forest vanguard likened to a daemonic host of behemoth black sentinels. Similarly, the rustles of limb and leaf ripened in her imagination to the plaintive utterances of those eternally damned. Such sounds accented the very real and mortal ululations of terror that emanated from the train’s rear.

What attracted her wide-eyed attention the most, however, was the rearmost carriage most severely damaged by the train’s ominous stoppage. While the smog of coal readily dissipated, given the lack of a locomotive, a miasma nevertheless billowed and poured forth from the windows of the final derailed carriage. The grimy scent of oil tinged her nostrils. Someone screamed ‘Fire!’ At last, harsh radiance lunged as wicked tongues from its shattered windows and a cascade of embers exploded into the night. From where she sat, she veritably tasted the charred flesh of the souls within imprisoned.

A girlhood memory of an old wives’ tale stirred and she recited: ‘Those who die by fire will in Perdition ever burn.’

Transfixed though she was by the fiery flesh carnival and proletariat woe, an emanation of pure evil from the train’s fore invariably piqued and subsequently enraptured her interest. Tea an abandoned expectation, she resigned her post, stood, plucked up her violin case, and advanced in prim and quiet footfalls toward the gravel. There she followed the steel rail forward in pursuit of the malignant emanation. She noted, as she neared, how very dark the shadows pooled upon the ground where the locomotive ought to straddle the track. Even with the night, the darkness was uncanny. Delightful, in fact. Then a firm and unwanted hand clasped her shoulder. Confounded, she turned on her assailant and shook herself free, her upraised face, illuminated by the moonlight, pale as a corpse’s. Yet life was belied as her eyes shimmered angrily and her anemic lips twisted in contempt.

“You presume much—” she looked him up and down then, with haughty venom, spat, “—swordsman.”

“Lady,” Weiland politely inclined his head in respect, then reclaimed command of the situation, “this place isn’t safe. You need to go back to where the other passengers are.”

“Those—those commoners?” she incredulously retorted and pointed her chin derisively at the dozen or so riffraff vomited from the plebeian carriages.

“For your own safety,” Weiland insisted. “If necessary, I’ll escort you there.”

While not necessarily engaged in her surroundings at all times, she was wilily enough that she noted the implied, albeit politely unspoken, by force.

Furious as she was impotent in a physical contest with the swordsman, she peered beyond his bulky frame toward the small crowd. Even from here, the rabble stank of poverty. She did not wish to be amongst them. Confined to an asylum cell for so long, the thought of people, particularly noisy and near, unraveled the threads of her composure. Moreover, the darkness called to her. In a final effort to get her way, she stepped back from Weiland. He matched her gait and likewise stepped forward. His hand lifted, prepared to enforce his simple-minded and presumptuous wisdom. She didn’t want him to touch her again, but was too arrogant to recoil. Instead, she brought his action to a halt as she snapped, “So be it. I shall make my own way back, brave swordsman, to the safety of the mob,” her sarcasm evident. As she heeded his demand, and they stalked along their diametrically opposed trajectories, she sneered again, deliberately loud enough for him to catch her vitriol on the wind, “May the night devour your impudent soul!”

Her threat punctuated by an insidious cackle, she paused. No, she would not pretend to take safety in numbers. Instead, she flung open her violin case, grasped her instrument—its ivory exterior practically luminous in the twined radiance of orange firelight and argent moonglow—and in motions that seemed equal parts exaggerated and languished, she moved her bow over the crimson cords of her violin and afflicted those around her with a beautiful if not melodramatic dirge.
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The shadows grew longer and darker with every passing minute, cast from warped, unsightly trees whose branches sometimes swayed in the eerily howling night air, and sometimes swayed when there was no wind at all. The rush of panic and excitement gradually faded from the train’s passengers, their agitated chattering dying down to a worried and fearful muttering, only to be stoked into new hysterics when the rearmost wagon caught fire. Lucienne eyed them with the mildest of disdains, only somewhat annoyed by their shallow sensibilities. Wealthy or not, these first class passengers did not have the steadfastness of one of noble blood. It was not money that elevated one above the common folk, but a nobility of spirit that could only be gained through a clear bloodline. She felt proud, then, to confirm the legitimacy of her lineage as she faced the unknown without fear but, alas, also without patience. Her right foot tapped rhythmically and nervously at the grassy pebbles beneath her but she remained otherwise perfectly composed.

A new breeze carried a hint of music from the more hind-lying carriages and there, framed by the distant inferno, Lucienne thought she was a violinist playing her cares away amidst grasping shadows, performing for seemingly nobody at all. Musicians, she found, were always eccentric by nature. It made them interesting. Then, after blinking once or twice, she could also make out another shape, decidedly bulkier, approaching from the swirling, inky twilight and soon after could hear his heavy steps crunching earth and stone. Squinting against the flame-pierced dark, she kept looking at the figure as each of his steps revealed more details about his form. A satisfying flash of nostalgia washed over her senses when she recognized his gambeson and nigh-medieval armaments of sword and shield. It almost felt like she was back home. Those were the tools of a real warrior, whose skills were honed by discipline. None of those vulgar firearms that made of any ignorant peasant bumpkin a lethal killer. Lowly times.

Some of the other passengers, upon eying Yvain, knowingly or unknowingly recoiled at the sight of him. Only Lucienne, herself an outcast amidst the other groups, stepped forward to meet him, her chin held high and a lazy hand resting on her rapier’s hilt.

“What news from the rear?” she shot at him, Valencian accent thick. “And when can we depart? I have business in the city.”



Weiland sighed to himself, mainly in response to the not so subtle curse slung his way by the irate musician. He’d not much dealings with them, but they never seemed to pan out very well. The dirge she was was haunting enough, fitting given the circumstances, but he put the thoughts behind him, where the music was as well, and proceeded to continue forward, attempting to find extra hands to assist towards the rear. Of course, the farther forward he got, the more callous and displeased with his presence those that even bothered to respond got. Such was the nobility, he thought with some annoyance, though what did catch him slightly off guard was when one such woman, another foreigner given her accent, though her words were little different than usual annoyance such rich folk experienced at a slight inconvenience.

His own accent was apparent, though it was more natural to those from the eastern reaches of the lands that had any normal contact to warrant having trains linking them to other lands, and while he noted she also seemed to carry a more classical attire, her initial question and tone of voice let him as wary as ever. “Several cars overturned by Light knows what. I’ve been sending any able bodied that’re willing to help back. As for leaving, this contraption might have some trouble with that, considering it looks to be missing some parts…”

Weiland’s gaze was torn forward, having already been looking ahead, and he saw that the same parts that had been creating all sorts of noise and had dragged the cars to carry people were outright missing, or damaged beyond recognition. How they would proceed from here would likely infuriate the rich and nobles, they would have to walk to the nearest settlement, though Light knows where that might be from here.



Lucienne followed his gaze behind herself but could see little through the oppressive gloom, save for the absence of certain expected silhouettes perhaps. The thought that the entire engine might simply be gone did not occur to her.

“I do not suppose we will be in time,” she scoffed his way. “So what happened here? Accident? Sabotage?”

Piercing blue eyes sized him up like an owl does its prey.



Weiland was watching the woman he was discussing the current situation with closely, though with her turned, the lack of facial expressions made it difficult to discern what was going through her head as body language spoke little at the moment. Though the scoffing remark and follow on questions made him shrug briefly. Sabotage or ambush were likely, though something capable of removing the engine and boiler to such an extent was going to be a problem. Her gaze was also something of note, far too focused and intent to be just some rich, jumped up noble.

“Afraid not. Odds are sabotage or ambush of some sort. Though I’ve not heard of bandits equipped well enough to remove those parts of the train that completely, not recently…”



“Completely?” she inquired before turning back and squinting harder at the darkness. “Bon sang,” she gasped under her breath. The warrior was right, the front part of the train was missing, curse her eyes. How were they ever going to reach the city now? It was of the utmost importance, after all, far more so than any of these buffoons could realize. She had to find the Key before it was too late. Before her cravings would consume her. Absolutely had to.

“I am afraid I was mistaken,” she admitted, straightening herself and banishing any hint of worry from her mien. “This train will not be going anywhere. Listen, warrior, I must get to this city as soon as possible. Can you help me or direct me to someone who can?”

Hopefully he understood which city she meant, given that she was loathe to pronounce its to her outlandish sounding name.



The fact the train’s state of being was such a point of concern was of note to Weiland, keeping a steady face as he watched her quickly wipe any concern or fear from her features, which spoke of a great deal of concealing one’s own emotional state. The sudden shift of focus and the speed at which she dictated it needed to happen hinted at some sort of concern as to either what was happening there, or what was going to be there perhaps? Either way, his tone was even as he did what he could to assist.

“If you’re speaking of the train’s destination, short of escorting you on foot, I can’t be of much help. However, a Church Investigator is aiding efforts to save those in the overturned cars to the rear. He’d be of better use in finding the fastest way to get back on schedule.”



“Investigator? I am certain he will be very receptive towards a foreigner like me, if he is like the rest of his ilk,” Lucienne darkly mocked. Yes, nominally she and the royal court were followers of the Light. But every now and again, foul rumors would attract a certain enterprising investigator to confirm their validity in a bid to earn himself a promotion. Such occurrences were, thankfully, rare enough, but it was always a terrible bother to cover up their disappearance. There was no doubt in her mind that not everybody may believe the official story. When would the clerics learn not to meddle in affairs that concern them none? Never did them any good neither.

“But,” she added, “If this man can help me get to the city, I may tolerate his person. Will you be reporting to him? If so, I would like to walk with you. Standing around here will get me nowhere, you understand.” In asking so, she eased her posture ever so slightly, assuming a more feminine and less rigid posture.



“He took little offense to myself, though a strange look for my lack of modern arms and armor did not go unseen.” Weiland had shrugged such things off, having grown used to such strange looks and sideways glances over his archaic equipment. His dealings with the Light had been more honest typically, though he was no zealot or fanatical devotee to its creed and, as such, felt rather neutral about their agents and the like. Her demeanor did shift, however, to something more eased, slight as it was, as she spoke on whether he was reporting to the Investigator and if he would walk with her back there.

“Aye, I can walk you back. I doubt anyone else up here will be willing to even walk back there, let alone assist. I only met him in passing, informing him of goings on at the rear, so reporting is hardly accurate. More working with until danger’s resolved, then figure out the details from there.”



“Very good, I applaud your initiative. We shall, ahem, work with him then until the danger is resolved, yes?” she commended Yvain with a slight smile. “My name is Lucienne Desrosiers, daughter of the Comte Armand Desrosiers of Morsang-sur-Odesse.”

She extended a leather-gloved hand towards him as she introduced herself with no small amount of pride. Likely the names and places she mentioned would mean little to this man as he did not strike her as the type to be versed in Valencian nobility, but perhaps he would have enough manners to kiss her hand, as was his place even in this foreign land. Blue blood knew no borders, after all. Neither bowing nor asking for his name in return, she remained as such and eyed him expectantly.



Much to the surprise of some, Weiland would actually duck his head down to place a brief kiss onto her leather clad hand, the customs of classical nobility were not nearly as foreign between distant nations as one might have expected. It was hardly the first time he had to go about such activities, nobility expected such when he wasn’t pursuing them for laws broken, and it always proved smoother to simply acknowledge their wealth than have to fight them over such things. He hadn’t the slightest clue as to what her standing was within her homeland, though titles like that existed in very few places anymore, so he could narrow it down as further hints revealed themselves to him.

“Weiland Yvain, of Istvaargrad. Let us see things sorted out then.” He would have long since released her hand before turning to move at a steady pace back towards the rear. He would have to ask after what could have possibly ruined the engine and boiler, but for now, one step at a time.



Lucienne smirked when, contrary to her expectations, Yvain actually bent over and showed deference to her. Perhaps Perafidion’s customs weren’t quite as degenerate as she had expected? Or perhaps this man was simply one of the rare exceptions. Only time would tell for sure but, for now, she believed this one to be useful in the future. Especially with church investigators and potential bandits afoot in the night, she may have to rely upon a strong sword arm to protect her. After all, her blood was far too precious to be spilled for such trifles, she only had so much of it. Best keep it for important occasions.

Satisfied with their exchange, she matched his stride and remained at his side, casting the occasional glance towards the whispering, rustling shadows on either side. Who could rightly say what manner of thing did or did not lurk out there, hidden by darkness and black trees? Whatever the truth may be, she was not one to flinch at eerie shadows. In dark corners of the world, there dwelt things far worse than mere phantasms and bogeymen. It is after learning how to commune with such things – and that such things cannot be spoken to – that conventional terrors lose their luster.
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"A please Miss Rowena. I'm Father Giles McNamara, at your service." He paused, looking towards the front coaches. Something seemed rather off about the silence that came from the front. "It seems likely that there will have been more injury. I came from the middle I'm afraid, I haven't been able to assess the damage up there." The church might have deep pockets, but First Class sleeper train accommodation was not one of the things that was covered. Before he could consider more, a violin began playing, the confessor screwing his eyes shut at the sudden auditory incursion. "It seems to me as if every musician in Perafidion was making their way to Temnorpool." Shaking his head, he would rest his hand on the handle of his gun.

"Well. I suppose if you have this well in hand, I shall head to the front and see what help can be rendered." Tipping the brim of his hat, he would walk his way towards the front. As he did so, he looked into the forest, the hackles on his neck rising up. Something felt distinctly wrong about this... If it had been a robbery, surely there would have been some evidence of this- armed men coming for their valuables. If it was merely an accident, as unfortunate as that was, why did he feel such a deep sense of dread?

Squinting his eyes further into the gloom, assisted slightly by his lantern, he would finally come to a realisation. The front of the train was missing. Not partially, or damaged, but gone, as if it had been cut off and whipped away by some perturbed deity. His lantern seemed to throw off less light as he held it up, but before he could discern more he found himself face-to-face with two figures. One was the archaic warrior whom he had suggested investigate the front... And the other was a rather noble looking woman carrying an epee.

Securing his hatchet against his belt, the investigator would bob the lantern a little in greeting. "I see you've made an acquaintance already. Rather an excellent thing to do... And since I forgot to mention my name to you when we first met, I must apologise and introduce myself to the both of you properly. I am Father Giles McNamara."
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The front carriage had calmed down enough for Paula to hear her own thoughts, which was certainly something considering the amount of racket that had filled the air for the last few minutes. Some listened to her words and sat down. Others followed the peer pressure from there, especially when their wives or husbands implored them to. A few more rowdy examples had declared her advice to be no good and vacated the carriage, but you couldn't save everyone. That much Paula had learnt a long while back. Don't try to help those that don't let themselves be helped. "I'm not saying you cannot go", she had pointed out to them, "but I am implying that you lot have a better chance at making it if you just stay put." One had reconsidered. Others had called him a wuss and made off to the shrouding darkness of the wood, looking for who knows what. A piercing note of a whistle cut through the air, but on a quick look Paula couldn't pinpoint its source. What she did note was a small entourage of people approaching from towards the back.

Outside didn't look right still, so she had to be watchful for some trickery that could be afoot. "You", she pointed to a sufficiently bulky looking passenger. "Come hold this door for me. I see people coming from the back, and I like to think they are indeed people, but we better be on our guard", she gave the man an order. He refused, rather promptly too, telling her that he would not be taking orders from a nobody, much less a midget. He was… well, whatever the name and title had been Paula had already dismissed and left the too good for common good individual babbling about his own importance and tried looking for someone else who would take the task for themselves. And of all the options, she would eventually get the help from… She couldn't help but sigh. It was three literal children, helping the scary woman because mommy told them to. This would end well. In not a single sense of the word.

The door to the carriage opened and the beaked mask pressed outside. She hung on to the frame of the door with one hand ready to push her back in at any moment and the children at the ready to push the door closed. So far so good, nothing had lashed out at them yet. So it wasn't a shroud over the windows of their carriage, if such a thing was even plausible. You never knew with the dark side was the lesson she had learnt better than any other. Feel free to assume, but do not think yourself absolutely correct. "Hey!" she called out towards the recently halted procession of mostly church people, hoping they would hear her over the music. Of all things, music! Had people no tact or tactical sense for that matter whatsoever?

"Engine is gone. Train isn't moving from this point, not if we remember to pull the emergency brake. Anything shareworthy from back there?" the shouting continued, though other than the volume her voice was rather level. Keen eyes observed what was to come from behind the lenses of the beaked mask, her other hand fondling a glass bottle under her coat. If this was some trick, she would only have to toss it out there and have the door shut. What she couldn't afford was to let anyone close to the door until she could be sure. And at times like this, certainty was not an available commodity. One had to make concessions.

@Lady Selune@Ashgan@Eisenhorn
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Without another word, Weiland kept moving forward until approached by the church fellow from before, the Investigator who was returning from the rear of the wrecked train. He was not accompanied by the young woman who had been singing hymns while tending to the injured and dying, which meant either she had things under control better than when he originally departed, or there weren't enough survivors to warrant their additional help. He chose that the former was more accurate than the latter, even if he expected the latter to be closer to the truth. The bobbing of the lantern was met with a nod in return from the sellsword, even if his posture remained alert as he scanned the surrounding darkness, just watching for anything to come charging out of the dark. He'd also positioned himself between the woods and Lucienne, more out of habit than anything else, as it was more likely for danger to approach from that direction. The Investigators remarks on finding an acquaintance, and his own introductions, were met with a nod. His accent remained a constant, though clearly practiced in making himself clear in his dealings with nobility who had such things trained, or bred, out of them.

"Aye, and one of few who were willing to return this direction. Of even fewer who didn't groan and curse me for even suggesting such things. Well met all the same, Father, Weiland Yvain." What might seem odd was he did not introduce his current companion, though that was perhaps due to the shouting from behind them. In practice, nobility of Istvargraad had a saying that 'One is only as important as those who introduce them'. It was considered grave insult for some lowborn sellsword or guard to introduce a titled, suitably advanced noble, and Weiland had quite enough of hearing that to last him a lifetime. Instead he turned his attention to the masked individual, female given the voice, calling out from the wagon they had only just passed. Professional and to the point, this was something Weiland could gladly work with. His own voice was steady and matched the volume to overtake the damned music, amplifying the accent due to the forced volume. Of course the woman with the violin had to throw a fit and start playing, nobility and musicians seemed to go hand in hand in their temperaments some days.

"The wagons rear of yours are wrecked and overturned, with the wounded being tended to as best as possible. No sign of culprits or assailants yet. Otherwise nothing else to note." Weiland did not approach towards the woman, since that given the circumstances, that was likely asking for one to be shot. Considering she had only just poked her head out, or the wrecked cars aft of her would have been noticed, she was likely tending to those within before having poked her head out. Which meant, at best, she had either knife or pistol waiting in case those she was addressed would prove hostile. He'd rather not get shot after surviving a wrecked train, not without good reason at least, so he stood his ground instead, mostly to avoid potential trouble as best he could.
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“Mind,” Lucienne snapped after Yvain said his piece, “I am not here to provide charity or help. Quite the opposite.”

She absentmindedly waved her hand as she studied the cleric in front of her. He was certainly easy to identify at a glance, with multiple holy icons dangling from his large coat that enveloped him like the wings of a gigantic bat. With graying hair and possibly early wrinkles, she estimated that he was not the youngest in his profession anymore. That was a good thing, should he ever prove troublesome. The dark, wide-brimmed hat completed his impression as the harbinger of ill news. He certainly looked more intimidating than the last of his kind she had seen. That one had been significantly younger, sharply dressed, and entirely too fond of Valencian wine for his own good. His naiveté had been charming, then, but something told her that the good father here would be far less easy to perturb.

“I am Lucienne Desrosiers, of the house Desrosiers of Morsang-sur-Odesse in Valence,” the noblewoman introduced herself, but this time kept her hand firmly to herself. Perhaps it was not customary to offer it to men of the cloth, or perhaps she simply felt no desire to be touched by McNamara – who could say? “Now that introductions are out of the way, let me be very frank, Father: I need to reach this… Temnorapool post haste. What can you do to help me?”

Lucienne audibly struggled with the city’s name, which sounded crude and barbaric to her ears and merely speaking it felt like choking on thorns. It really did seem like Valence was the heart of culture, and that the arts and customs degenerated quickly the further one went away from her home land’s majestic mountain ranges. It almost made one shudder to think what sort of troglodytes must live even further beyond Perafidion and the seas. Would these savages ever be graced by the light of civilization and elevated from their hovels?

Her thin, blond brows furrowed deeply when Yvain turned around and began shouting of all things, apparently communicating with somebody who was yelling from the train’s front section. She could not care less if they were exchanging useful intelligence from both ends of the train at this point.

“Don’t do that,” she hissed at the sellsword, visibly annoyed. He was not her paige, but she would not tolerate such a rude interruption. Once she was satisfied that her reprisal was received and understood, she returned her attention to the Father, hoping against hope that he might have something useful to say.
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Like a carnivorous tenebrous maw, the forest’s presence loomed dangerously close to Lisette in the final moments before she brought the motion of her violin’s bow to a climatic screech—in part punctuated by Weiland’s premature retreat from the train’s fore. He, accompanied now by a woman and obvious foreigner whose attire and bearing elevated her far above his low station, hurried again toward the maudlin mass of peasantry. The expression worn on his haggard face suggested to Lisette that the mystery in which they were presently all ensnared was no more plumbed than when she began her performance. That projected fault fueled within her an irrational antipathy toward Weiland. As long locks of jet hair cascaded in lines before her pale face, she jutted forth her chin, bowed her back, and savagely leered at the sellsword as he trudged on by. The words she spoke, equally audacious, were unleashed as a half-shouted, half-moaned accusation,

“Uuuuuuseleeeess. Impotent! You save none, scurrying to and fro as a sewer rat addled by a plague unknown!”

Her taunt emphasized by a barely subdued cackle, her compulsion toward self-expression nevertheless, no matter how vehement, seemed yet insatiable. Lisette’s long thin fingers shifted on the delicate cords that plunged from the neck of her violin and she transitioned the tone of the night from a somber, yet not unpleasant, dirge to a deeply discordant strain. In reaction, the pair, too dignified to deign her with anything more, partook of incredulous sidelong glances in her direction, remained silent, and became, a few paces later, a trio, augmented by what was obviously a priest given his garb and various accouterments. Furthest from Lisette’s desires were the unsolicited afflictions of a holy man’s remonstrations, thus, in the prelude of her secondary performance her spittle struck the ground in her own repulsed and repulsive acknowledgment of the priest’s self-insertion. Then she turned her back on the trio and wandered from them toward the front of the train—that is, its remnants. This was, more specifically, done in defiance of Weiland’s entreatment and wild assumptions about what constituted her safety, but by now she was certain his attentions were otherwise enjoined.

As an ominous figment, she drifted alongside the train, her mantle nigh-indistinguishable from the night mist that crept weirdly forth in convoluted postures from the roots of the trees. Behind her, the screams of the flame-damned and urgent discussions of those fortunate enough to thus-far go unscathed became muted and indistinct. Around her, the crowd of quasi-nobles, insufficiently moved to help their fellow man, let her pass unhindered, their only trace of acknowledgment rendered as whispered rebukes of Lisette’s performance—all politely contained behind gloved fingers. They did not concern her, as they posed no impediment to her advance. However, as she walked, it appeared she engaged in a steadily belligerent congress with things unseen. Truncated utterances and scornful chortles clarified her position—she would not halt, in spite of the fear these beings expressed at venturing onward; rather, enslaved as they were to her music, she compelled their continued presence.

Inevitably guided, in her mind, by arcane fate, she arrived at the locus delicti. Shards of metal and wood were strewn round about, but in insufficient abundance to explain the locomotive’s absence. There she saw clearly what was not there to be seen—between the tracks the darkness was acute, not merely in terms of visual presence but also the spiritual. Not content to be a mere observer, she stepped between the tracks and into absolute obfuscation. There, unable to see her own hand before her face and veritably invisible to lookers-on, all she heard was her music and all she felt was the caress of darkness. From without, it seemed as though her malignant music emanated from a pool of sinister oblivion. Augmented, even, the melody grew louder than the physical laws that constrained such an instrument as hers would ordinarily allow.
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