Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Tatterdemalion
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Yuki!

Juniper does look appropriately chastened. “The Khatun wanted this to be a surprise to everyone,” she says, squirming a little in place, suddenly unable to meet your eyes, her brushy tail drooping. The "I wanted to tell you” is loud, but she can’t seem to say it. Whoever this Khatun is in person, however she leads her pack, it’s clear that Juniper had to choose, and she chose to lie to you instead of trusting you with the secret.

But being told that the Baygum is invited to come and get you perks her up. Her smile’s still bright and happy and so full of Juniperness. “Be careful what you wish for~! I’ll go and let her know~”

(Even the way she moves away is different now: moving almost without thinking around obstacles, flowing through gaps in the crowd, capable of freezing in place suddenly in order to suddenly burst into motion. She moves like someone who’s learning how to hunt.)



Hazel!

Oh, you lucky little thing! You know, she was just about to piece the purpose of the ceremony together. But if there’s one thing (among several) that will drag Purnima Karn-Pana away from trying to get her head around astrological symbolism, it’s a squirming, gag-talking pretty boy in her clutches. So she looks away just before the crown down there is unveiled. (Not in the same way you might be unveiled, mind you.)

“Yuki Edogawa is luckier than she deserves,” she says, rubbing firm and insistent and distinctly… not uncomfortable circles into that ear. “However did she manage to get such an excellent boytoy in her clutches? With those eyes— mm, you need to work on those lashes, you’d be delicious— and those adorable little noises.”

With her other hand, she takes your chin, tilts it upwards. Her eyes are pools of gold, flecked with— oh, if you stared dangerously deep again, you’d be able to name the color. Her thumb is on your covered lips now? For some reason?

“All the more reason to keep you as insurance. At least until we figure out some solution to the problem of that Arju and her outlander pet. In Crevas, we know how to appreciate beautiful little things~”

Her coils are squeezing and releasing in a way that suggests an unconscious muscle reaction, hemming you in on every side, and isn’t it too bad you haven’t worked up the courage to see a Nagi masseuse yet? Your muscles are relaxing, the endorphins are flowing, and all of her attention is on you, and her face—

Because you’re her prize. Her ticket to victory. The damsel in distress to be dangled in front of Yuki like you’re in that film about the hero with godlike strength. That’s why she’s looking at you like that. Almost certainly. Like she wants to both flaunt you to the crowd and lock you up safely where no one can touch you, though wouldn’t that be a shame, what with these coils pinning your limbs against you, and the very tip of her tail disappearing into your curls right at the back of your neck?

At least she’s almost certainly not going to kiss you. Taking liberties would be wrong. It’s just that Thellamie has different social boundaries than you’re familiar with, darling boytoy. (But what am I saying? You know this already. You hung on Yuki’s every word— words of a world where swordfights did not end in death, where clever foxgirls know how to tie firm knots, and where there were women with the bodies of snakes and eyes that shone. And you never told her how they made you feel.)

“For now, behave. But keep trying to talk, I… don’t mind~” The purr of those last two words rumbles through her coils in a way that is rather suggestive. Her nails are working their way along your scalp, and the spots where your new ears appeared are so sensitive in interesting ways, aren’t they?

Then the crowd goes wild, with cheers and then with howls, exploding. Purnima glances over at the ceremony, and you get to see the exact moment that she becomes literally incoherent with rage.



Rurik!

This is your element. Not making magical artifacts, mind you. (Not even Cair’s at this level. She’s more alchemy, right?) But the high ritual, the ceremonialism, the wide-eyed stare of Heron, the dancers whirling in spangled cloaks all about, the light leaking into the air, the magic thick enough to taste: this demands stoic, intense appreciation.

Civelia is singing: high, clear, pure notes. She is limned in silver. A ribbon hangs from her wrist, the end brushing against the earth. The lunar symbolism is obvious.

On Yukisworld, the sun and moon are always moving, racing across the sky. That must be so strange. Lift your eyes, and you can see the sun hanging in the sky, the sky livid as the sun’s light dims; the outer edges of it are already invisible. And in this moment, you are the sun, too, the light that the First Fallen gave to the world as a gift, and you can feel the sunlight course through you—



Tsane!

—and through you—



Cair!

—and through you—



Injimo!

—and through you—



Sayanastia!

—owshitfuck—



Kalentia!

—oh stars catch Yana she's keeling over—




Yuki!

The Crown of Light in Heron’s hands flashes the intense, livid colors of dusk, all pinks and purples, and it’s all but impossible to look away. (In the corner of your eye, you see someone— fainting? But this is an intense moment.)

Civelia looks wan but, for once, actually smiles! And behind you, Sulochana makes a noise of giddy joy. Glance up as she rises, her head haloed in that same light, the same pattern as the dancers followed slowly revolving behind her head. She’s beaming, radiantly joyful, all her hopes fulfilled. In this moment, she is nothing less than a queen.

(In the distance, faintly, there’s a noise like someone is trying to scream but is too angry to let out anything but a choked noise like a train whistle or a very large teakettle.)

Then off to your right, the huntresses explode into riotous howling. Sulochana glances over at them, a little patronizingly, as if to thank them but to request that they be a little more conscientious— and then blanches, eyes wide and uncomprehending.

Off to your right, Juniper’s face is bathed in pinks and purples as she stares, open-mouthed, at the imposing and totally goth huntress sitting next to her. The expression on her face is unreadable, her black-painted lips flat, as everyone around her howls victory, leaving just her and Juniper silent.

(No, there’s one more— the silver-haired old woman. She’s not howling, and she’s not smiling either; she’s just staring at Sulochana, and there’s something about that calculating look— as if she’s already estimating a shot from a heartbow— that should send a shiver down your spine.)



Keli!

…well, as far as magical alarms go, this is a new one.

You redouble your efforts to pick the lock to Seli’s cuffs behind your head while the walls of the room are dappled lurid, throbbing pink and purple. You can worry about the thing that popped up over your head (or Seli’s head?) later, because you’ve nearly got it and you have got to focus.



Rurik!

Civelia turns her head and stares at you, expression almost impassive, eyes absolutely furious. The unspoken "HERON.” is deafening.

Have you figured out what happened, you reliable and conscientious prism, you?



Eclair!

Credit where it’s due: the Paladin falls into a defensive stance, all of her attention intent on you, and hears you out. An ear flicks, but otherwise she is still while you berate her.

Then she chuckles and shakes her head. Which is, paradoxically, sometimes a sign that a fight is about to end and sometimes means that it’s about to redouble.

“You know, I didn’t take her seriously when she told me that you would say anything to throw me off. Well, two can play at that, little miss frills: if I’m a stain on the floor, you’re trash, and I’m here to take you out.” There is real heat in her voice. “You can drop the broom and the board and surrender, and we’ll have a talk with Civil leadership about what you’ve been doing, or I can beat you down until you don’t get back up, and then we go have that talk. By all means, pick the second: garbage like you deserves it.”

But she doesn’t charge at you like a berserker. Her grip tightens on the shaft; her breath is in short, eager bursts; but she does not charge. You are in control, for all that she is furiously posturing at you with such uncouth language.

Her eyes haven’t left you. She makes a small correction to her footwork: still in a defensive posture.

“Boooooo,” yells a child from a bedroom window nearby; while this part of the city is much quieter right now, given that most people are attending festivities elsewhere, some people are supposed to have early bedtimes. “Get her, Miss Maid!”

“Who asked you, anyway?” retorts your absolutely devastated opponent, lowering her guard to instead place a hand on her hip and glare at the little shock of hair still peeking up over the windowsill.
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Phoe
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"As you wish, Young Mistress."

Eclair offers a smile to the skies, with their little tuft of hair peeking through a windowsill and a sweet yet naughty child's eyes gazing eagerly upon a contest they were lucky enough not to have missed under the auspices of 'bedtime'. Well then, for the gift of belief she had only a show to offer. Best make it count.

Broom-as-Lance Style: low crouch, favoring right leg. Hands above bristles and at tip of handle, sweeping instrument held at angle covering body, tip pointed toward floor. Tense musculature, shift weight. Launch. Step forward, lead with hip, thrust. Target - center of adversary face.

It is hardly deadly to be hit in the face with a broom. It is not even particularly painful, even with a good stiff model like this one. The bristles spread open as a welcoming and particularly dry octopus might, and take her face without cutting, scratching, or otherwise marring anything. A trained opponent would not so much as flinch.

Fun Thellamie Fact: precious few warriors anywhere in the land can claim to be properly trained. They will say they are, but shove a broom in their face, block their vision in a tangle of woven straw, and see how they react. Mostly, like this woman. Yelp: piercing. Stance: broken. Whiff punish initiated. Rather appropriately, Yukisworld scholars refer to the following technique as a 'Dust'.

Eclair slides underneath the handle of her broom and leans so far back she has to take one hand off to plant it on the ground. Her foot snaps up, once again aiming for the breastplate where their respective armors would allow for the highest transfer of energy. This time she pushes hard enough to knock air (and the rest of that yelp) from her Paladin companion of the evening, driving her up off the ground and toward the sky, though not more than several steps' worth. She leaps up after, remastering her grip on her cleaning tool.

Tap. Handle touches neck. Dizzy opponent, delay recovering. Kick, twist, minor secondary gain of altitude. Juggle initiated. Come around from spin, tap tap tap. Strike under armpit, at armor joint in elbow, and final blow delivered directly to that rather comely butt. Lean in, shoulder check, reverse momentum toward street.

Hand on adversary face, hold tight but non-damaging. Release. Last moment, whirl with broom, hook underneath knees. Pull before connection with ground, shifting center of gravity. Drop on back, establish Mount. Shaft of broom pressed into neck, lean close overtop of it, allow breath to wash over now slightly blushing face. Smile.

"It is really no concern of mine whether you think well of me, or ill. I am not insulted. My investigation is paramount, my promises and oaths a secondary consideration. Our little tête a tête is neither."

Eclair leans closer, allowing her apron to slide across the Paladin's body until the metals underneath their respective coverings keen in that specific way that only kissing armor can. She uses the extra tension in her arms to spring up off the ground, somersaulting back over the feet of her opponent and landing daintily on hers.

"To that end I am warning you one final time. I will not be discussing my actions with Civil nor with any other brand of leadership, neither by the end of your heartblade nor your trembling maiden's fingertips. I am fulfilling an obligation to clean Vessenmer Dyes and prepare it for the workday following its reopening at the end of these festivities. Continue pursuing actions that significantly delay my goals and not only will I send you back to your patron empty handed, I shall also be returning you naked and with unignorably bruised thighs. And that is if you are lucky, even. Are you?"
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Anarion
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Yuki winks at Juniper as she walks away. Because, well, maybe she does want her to come and get her. She's not sure, exactly. The idea of it made lots of different scenarios bloom in her mind. Heart duels with the Serigalamu. Standing back to back with Sulochana holding off a group of foes as they cover each other. Epic last stands in the middle of a restaurant. But at the same time, imagining being tied together with Juniper, squirming uncomfortably as the Baygum picks her up. Being sat on her lap with Juniper on the other leg. It sounded like fun whichever way it went, and she had lots of things she might want to try. Maybe not everything, she wasn't sure. But Juniper seemed to be having a lot of fun, and that tail wag still stuck in Yuki's head. Whatever other silliness she had going on with the Khanate and their flair for crashing events, she was enjoying herself.

But then there's a show. Yuki hurriedly joins Sulochana on her bench again, lying on her left arm this time so the right still has a chance to have some bloodflow without falling asleep. She doesn't want to block anyone's view of the special event, so she lets her head rest sideways on the edge of the raised bench, flexes her legs, flexes her arms, shifts her weight from arm to shoulder so it's not pressing on her elbow, flips her pigtail behind her so it doesn't get in her mouth. She's still getting used to her body in this world, it's a grown catgirl, come off her own work in fencing and track and lots of other things. She feels strong within herself, though so far most of everything that's happened has just been startled reflexes. But if she wants to jump or run, well, she feels that strength inside her. But for now, she saves it and lounges, and only the curling of toes tells you she's still got tension running through her.

She doesn't jump when the lightshow starts. No, far from it, she's enraptured. First staring at Civelia and Heron, the light rushing through them. At the beautiful purples and pinks. She goes to a fireworks show every summer, they do one at the baseball stadium. There's a band there, they play classical music and new stuff and sometimes they'll go for a whole hour. Bright sparkles and all sorts of colors in the sky. She'd go with her family to the baseball game together, and they'd usually invite uncles and aunts and buy out a whole row along the third base line for that one day. Watch the game, watch the fireworks, everybody would get hotdogs with lots of fixings (or no fixings when she was younger and pickier). This feels like that if the world were full of faeries. If the fireworks came down to you and played around the heads of your friends mere feet away.

Her gaze follows to Sulochana, and to the yipping Khatun in turn. She realizes that it's at least two, maybe more than two. And it sounds like this wasn't supposed to happen. It's Yuki and the gray-haired woman who are thinking it at the same time. Different plans, Yuki's excited, curious, wondering what it means that the crown is split, wondering if this relates to her being here, to Hazel being here.

The older woman is calculating. Look at that face. Yuki's got her eyes trained on her, half rising already. If she actually tries anything, Yuki will pull Sulochana down before the shot goes off. But she doesn't think the woman will do anything quite that brazen. Not yet at least. Does she want the crown for the Khanate? For herself? Will her ire turn towards Juniper's girlfriend or is it only to Sulochana?

Yuki's up in a flash. All those muscles tense from her interaction with Juniper ready to burn some energy. She's up and she's over and she hasn't drawn a blade or raised a hand. But she's in front of the silver-haired woman, fearless. "You know what this means, don't you? Or you have some idea?" Her eyes are eager, her face is open, but she's making sure to stand in a line that puts her between the woman and Sulochana. "Can you tell me what you're thinking?"

[Rolling to figure out the woman. What can Yuki tell from her movement and language? What is she hoping to get from the ritual? 4+5+1=10, so Yuki gets her questions.]
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Thanqol
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Rurik!

"What just happened?" asked Rurik.

Princess Heron could be witty sometimes, but she could also be a conversational brick wall. Moments like this she didn't wisecrack, she just asked basic question after basic question until an obvious target for ultraviolence appeared or was made clear. Whatever Rurik personally thought, the duty he held to the Princess' disguise was far more important than any (scoff) personal flair he might add(1).

Hidden 1 mo ago Post by TheAmishPirate
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a boywhAT

That’s, what? What? What? What?! His lashes? His eyes?! What about them? How? Why? What? Adorable?!

“Mrrmmmph!!!”

But he couldn’t ask a one of those very reasonable questions. Not with all this fabric to talk through. Double especially not with her thumb? Pressing the cloth to his lips??? Goodness, she was. Firm. On his lips. On his earrrrrrrrrrrrr oh oh oh that’s the spot. Um. That is to say, he had to figure it out on his own, which he could definitely do if he just. Blinked. Enough? That seems reasonable. Blink enough times and the eye secrets will surely be revealed b e a u t i f u l ?!

No! Wait! See! This is! It’s just! She’s! She’s trying to butter you up! She wants you melting and blushing so you won’t try to escape! It’s a trick! She doesn’t mean it! Don’t listen to her Hazel!

“Mrrrrrrrrr…”

The coils are…definitely, also, probably, a trick. A trick she isn’t even thinking about. That’s what makes it so tricky. She probably isn’t even paying attention to his breathing, the way the squeezing lines up to the rise and fall of his bound chest. Or, was it his breathing being squeezed into rhythm? In. And press. And hold. Out. And release. In a wave. Alllll down his body. He pants, and huffs, and fights to keep his heart racing. Hold on to the adrenaline of the earlier chase. He’s still in danger. Don’t let go. Don’t let her squeeze the tension out of him. Don’t. Ngghhhh. Don’t sigh as she. Drains it away. As muscles melt. In. He clenches his jaw. And press.

“Mmmmmmmm-!”

It’s a trick, Hazel. She’s just saying that to tease you. She’s just squeezing you to wear you out. She’s just. Looking to…

Looking to what? Looking for what? Why is she looking at him like that? She’s not saying, which is unfortunate, because looks don’t explain themselves either. But they say so much. They could say so much. It’s a look for him. She’s looking at him. With intent. Golden eyes focusing sharp. Pupils drinking him in, so deep, even his reflection vanishes in them. Taking him in. Flicker flick, licking lips. Pointed smirk. Possessive. Glittering.

Hungry.

Oh…it’s bronze. Like the participation medals for sports day. But, warm, like a campfire, so, so warm…

And then he’s breaking the surface, gasping for air as she rips her gaze away, only for the breath to be pushed from him anew. Wasn’t that what made the coils tricky? That she didn’t have to think about them? Freed from her grip his head lolls against the cool scaled wall of her body. Down below there’s…something? Lights? People running around? She’s looking at that now, and he’s looking too, but it’s hard to follow as she squishes him mercilessly.

“Mrrpmrrrr…”

His muffled voice drowns in the hubbub from below.

“Mrrpmrrrr, mmmphhhh, mrr mpphh mrrrrr….mmmmpphhh…mrrmphmprrr…”

Yuki, Yuki, please, come save me…please…anyone…

Can Yuki hear him? Can anyone hear him? Doesn’t matter. Not worth thinking about. The sounds spill out of him, broken only by panting and helpless squirming.
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Tatterdemalion
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Eclair!

The Paladin is indeed quite flushed, and while she’s trying to keep glaring at you, her smile betrays her, as does the thump of her tail on the tiles of the street. She’s excited, in the way that the really competitive maids get when they lose, when they have the opportunity to “brat.”

“Except you’re not,” she says, propping herself up. A lock of hair has fallen into her face, and she ineffectually tries to blow it out. “You’re going to clean the place, sure, but then you’re going to use that to justify forcing the owner to give you more information on Sister Tammithyn Murr. And she asked me for help, because you aren’t going to stop unless someone stops you.”

She looks back up at the window. “You hear that, punk? The Miss Maid is the bad girl, actually.”

She stands, spins the glaive, moves back into a ready stance. “So. As I was saying: I’ll do this all night if I have to. I’m not in the habit of disappointing a habit, and I don’t back down in the face of bullying maid thugs.

Her tail swishes over the tiles. She bares her teeth in what she likely thinks is defiance. She is so eager for another attempt to beat you, to prove that she even can, that it’s practically screaming out of her.

In fact, it’s vaguely familiar? Like you’ve met this Paladin somewhere before. But she’s definitely not in your notebook, so I’m just talking nonsense.



Yuki!

You’re in the middle of the joyful pack, and the reaction among a lot of them when you bound heedlessly is to tense up, reach out for a heartblade, and then relax. Could be because you’re, you know, Yuki Edogawa. Or it might be because this woman can definitely look after herself.

Juniper pops up like a jack-in-the-box. “I’m so sorry she doesn’t know what she’s doing Yuki what are you thinking you can’t just—“ This old woman holds up her hand and Juniper clamps her jaw shut, ears low and eyes wide.

“You are Edogawa,” the woman says. “Savior of Crevas.” She’s evaluating you the way that a teacher would, or some other adult who’s been put in charge of you. Or the way that someone playing chess might evaluate a queen who just launched herself to the other side of the board, into threat from multiple angles. (Also, you definitely saved all of Thellamie, but she’s emphasizing Crevas to underline your ties to the people here, and not in a good way.) “What this means is that your friend is not uncontested.

There is fire in the way she says it— competitive fire, like when you’re talking to Aadya. She’s not going to let Sulochana take this crown without a serious fight.

But then she dismissively waves one hand and Juniper drags you to the side. “Yuki, the Baygum— Olesya— we didn’t expect—“

You didn’t expect,” the presumptive Baygum says. Her voice is (forgive the pun) husky; she can’t be much older than you. “The Khatun did.” And what’s really interesting about that is that you, Yuki Edogawa, are in a unique position to recognize the “Mom signed me up for softball, ballet and drama club” voice.

Just then, there’s a wet slap that carries over the hubbub of the crowd. A large, greasy-looking bird has just landed on Civelia’s head.



Tsane!

In the beginning, the stars danced in the heavens. The world below was formless, empty; nothing moved over the face of the deeps, and the stars paid it no heed. There, light layered over light.

Nothing emerged from the world, and it had no shape or color, and the shape it did not have was a raven, and the color it did not have was white. It spread the wings it did not have and flew up into heaven.

There, it drowned in light, until its lack of white burned away and all that was left was black charcoal. There, it was frozen in place, until its lack of shape shattered and what was left tumbled out of heaven. And as it fell, light fell like rain from its feathers, and where the light fell, there things existed.

One among the stars turned his head and looked down at where the raven had fallen, and he saw existence struggling to continue. So he chose to fall using the path that the raven had left behind, descending among the first people to show them the shape of the world; and where he shone, there were rivers, and forests, and mountains, and he made firm the shapes of these things, so that they did not melt away, because the light stayed within them. “It is better to Be than to Be Not,” he said.

Then the darkness rose in answer, and where the light touched it, there was the shape of a dragon. “It is better to Be Not than to Be,” she declared, and made war then against the shapes of the world. Mountains she flattened, rivers she drank, forests she uprooted, and where she went, the shapes of things came undone, but still the light remained. This alone she could not undo.


And you know, because you have done your due research, that Sayanastia’s message at the beginning of the world is elsewhere remembered as "to exist is to suffer. To not exist must be not to suffer.” This is controversial even to record outside sources such as The Compromise of Heaven, which suggests that the First Fallen partially conceded Sayanastia’s point, and after she was defeated, ultimately spent all of his inner light working to reduce suffering in the world that he had shaped.

But this is going off topic.

RAVEN (Grandfather— Lightbringer— Binatured—): instigator of creation. Supposedly the only created being capable of vaulting the Sun and Moon to reach heaven. Thus considered sidereal herald, e.g., in bearing news of the crimes of the Fallen. (cf. “Burn the Messenger: Raven, Mediation, and the Dilemma of Verification.”) Reputedly, frequent visits to heaven maintain immortality, thus avoiding the Rebirth Wheel Nature of mythic figures such as the Hero of Ages, the Goddess of Civilization and the Dark Dragon.



Kalentia!

It’s a big, soggy bird that is glistening. Not just big in size; it looks fat, bloated, like a sponge used to soak up water. When Civelia extends her arm regally and it hops down, it leaves behind that glisten, that light.

Raw, pure(?) starlight. Wring this bird out and you could power all a city’s a magical needs for years. Decades, maybe.

“Split a crown, our Goddess has! How embarrassing! How embarrassing! Awk! Awk!” The voice issuing from that beak is unpleasantly wet, interspersed with noises like it’s trying to regurgitate a pellet.

The bird puffs itself up quite suddenly, fixing you (the crowd behind you? or just you?) with a beady eye. “Hear you now the word of the stars! The Crown of Light shall be bestowed on she who tames the Golden Fawn!



Tsane!

GOLDEN FAWN: goblin. Tamed by the Hero of Ages as a gift for the Goddess of Civilization. Purportedly brought good fortune to owners. Common symbol of venturer guilds: prosperity won from the Outside. Also common romantic motif: used as comparison for beloved as treasured, prized, improving lover’s life.



Yuki!

“This is unfair!” Sulochana is uncoiling, rising to an impressive height, glowering at this very, very weird bird. The halo around her head (and the Baygum’s head, for that matter) has already faded away. “A contest of hunting and taming in the Outside? When I am competing against this…” She clamps down on an insult. “On this pack of venturers?”

Jeers and laughter arise from the pack all around you: challenges, invitations to show her how it’s done, invitations for her to come be tamed (that one particularly from the Nagi huntress).

The bird lets out another series of choking, hacking noises. Laughter, maybe?

“The Golden Fawn is here with you tonight, though you know him not! Awk! Awk!

And the bird flaps its wings. Eventually, this allows for liftoff. It’s like a sight gag out of a Studio Ghibli movie: this soggy bird flapping as hard as it can, at high speed, to slowly gain elevation like a helicopter. At a certain point it seems to have gotten enough height, and it catches the wind on its wings, circling around the crowd three times, before diving down towards a viewing veranda on the edge of the plaza.



Hazel!

This? This is the nightmare scenario (and only the haze of your head is stopping you from combusting on the spot, probably). There is a bird. A big, wet, heavy bird. It is on your head. And everyone was watching the bird, which means that now everyone is staring up at you, and you can’t even explain that surely he must have made some sort of Bird Mistake (Birstake) because of the gag, and also because of how squished and helpless you are, you little boytoy, you.

“Behold! Your Golden Fawn, come round again! Claim him! Tame him! Prove that he is yours! These are the acts of the true queen! Awk, awk!

The sensation of light trickling into your hair, down the back of your neck, is strange. It is cool, and invigorating, and tingly. But it’s nothing compared to the sensation of the light soaking into your antlers as the bird wraps its wings around them in a very unbirdlike manner, and they begin to shine.

Purnima grabs the railing, grinning. “You see that, Sulochana? I, Purnima Karn-Pana, have the Golden Fawn, and I shall be the Queen of Light! Despite all your schemes and treacheries, you’ve lost, you conniving bit—“



Yuki!

You wanted to know about the Khatun?

The Khatun is a huntress at heart.

You know, even before you look, that she’s got an arrow nocked. She’s drawn the recurved heartbow’s string back to her cheek already— sights for the Nagi holding Hazel— and looses.

Fetch!

The entire pack surges forward, drawing their heartweapons— save Juniper and the Baygum, who are on you, and it’s impossible to tell whether they’ve got their hands on you because they’re trying to save you from being trampled or because the pack needs a bargaining chip. Like, Juniper’s hugging you, but she’s also pinning your arms, and it’s hard to tell if that’s intentional or not!



Hazel!

The arrow goes right through Purnima’s head, splintering into shards of silver-black light on the other side.

Her eyes roll back, showing the whites, and with a groan she flops over the railing. Fortunately, there’s enough of her here on the couch that she’s in no danger of actually toppling over the railing, and all her muscles are going slack, meaning that you can wriggle out of her grasp! Yay! Also, oh no!

The bird hops onto her coils and gives you a little bird shrug, like, whatcha gonna do? Not its call. Will of the stars and all that.

In the plaza below, the snakegirl who was with Yuki (Sulochana, surely) is rallying city guardsmen around her, trying to physically block the venturer-pack from reaching you. But that’s not going to buy you a lot of time. They’re probably good at climbing.

(And there are a lot of people down there who really weren’t expecting to be in the middle of a fight between a bunch of wolfgirls and snakegirls today, so there’s screaming and panic and people are fleeing the plaza, and it feels, irrationally, like it’s your fault?)



Rurik!

Well, there’s what just happened. From the Raven’s beak to your lips.

And if all this wasn’t enough, a Paladin standing guard over the ceremonial ground collapses to the ground behind you.

A Maid-Knight steps over the fallen Paladin. She is wearing the traditional regalia of the Order of the Aurora, but also an Aestivali carnival mask: an exaggerated laughing face in black and white. She is also framed by a halo— but this one is just her carrot-orange curls forced into a ponytail.

She has in her hand a heartfan— an unusual close-range weapon. She mockingly curtseys, and then lunges for Civelia.
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Phoe
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"Absurd accusation. I told you, I have no interest in--"

No, stop. Wind it back, examine that thought. How would that topic of conversation even have come up? The only person who could have made the connection between her investigation and this Sister in the first place was... hm.

Pause, allow for eyebrow arch. Inquisitive, curious, dare to hope a touch cute? Possibly even alluring in all her charming thoughtfulness! A Maid is still a maiden, and a maiden's heart yearns to be desired. Or at the very least, acknowledge. Regardless this is not a thread that can be left to the mind alone. The situation calls for the use of tools.

Eclair's hand reaches for her bag. Her hand closes around something inside of it, and in an instant she rushes forward. This time she allows the perception of a continued fight to break her opponent's stance for her. That kitten-like eagerness is highly exploitable; there will be no patience in waiting to receiver her blow or follow up with a proper counter. The Paladin will instead step forward and attempt to catch her with a crushing downward blow. It's sensible - even if she misses the weight of that weapon could do not inconsiderable damage to the ground beneath them, enough to interrupt Eclair's footwork and make her easily catchable.

Unfortunately, by the time it lands she is already airborne. Her fingers find the (suspiciously familiar) Paladin's neck and 'click' goes the clasp on the lacy pet collar. She swings up and over and perches atop the woman's shoulders. She is already pulling out her notebook while her thighs squeeze tight around that hot and blushing face. She leans and sways to stay upright on her new mount, but in truth there's very little fight compared with surprise to contend with.

She thumbs through the recent pages, tracing her conclusions with the tip of a finger. Frowns when she reaches the hastily scribbled recent portion, already difficult to decipher. Review, then.

Vessenmer tactics initially flagged as hostile and avoidant despite simplicity of questioning. Degree of suspicion impossible to determine earlier, but assassin/idiot/chariot has conveyed intimate knowledge conveying link between current line of investigation and a target of previously unknown name and origin.
Possibility remains of rumormongering among dyemakers, but Lady Vessenmer requires heightened scrutiny.
Assassin/Idiot/Chariot hired by Sister Tammithyn Murr with intent to halt investigation.
Current subject of investigation is sourcing of dye sample used in Target's infuriating poetry slash warning.
Subject and response in absolute misalignment. Disproportionate in the extreme.
Implications? follows:
- Misunderstanding of Aurora tactics and purpose (innocence bordering on rampant sillyheadism)?
- Dye used in connection with untoward/illegal designs or otherwise part of corruption tangle (rot of the seedy unberbelly of city life/beware thorns of the most beautiful flowers)?
- CONNECTION TO TIMTAM TARGET?! WHAT LIES HAVE YOU BEEN SPREADING?????


Eclair wipes down her pen and pockets it before blowing on the ink per her idiom, but she leaves the notebook open this time. She reaches down between her legs with her spare hand to grip the Paladin underneath the chin, pulling her face up and squeezing tight at the same time.

Her eyes sparkle with the joy of discovery, and the promise of the hunt.

"Thank you, this is an invaluable aid to my investigation. From your commentary I am to infer that Lady Vessenmer was likely to be less than forthcoming with her information come morning. That is... disappointing. No matter. Come, begin walking. We have cleaning to finish, after which I will assuage the first and second of your fears. I will not and would never use my labor to coerce information out of a civilian, and she will remain free to dodge my questions as effortlessly as she has done since I introduced myself. Afterwards I will be accompanying you (or rather you, me) to speak with Sister Tammithyn. Her testimony is now directly relevant to my investigation."

Her fingers scratch under the Paladin's chin even as she prods her in the back with her broom.

"Were my instructions unclear? Move your legs! Inside, immediately! There is much work to be done, and time is very much of the essence!!"

[Figure Out a Person (+Wit, +String): 10. Holding the followup, but for now asking: 'What connections do you have to the mystery I'm chasing?]
Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by Anarion
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Oh, that was totally the Khatun, wasn't it? The one Juniper said was into surprises. Yeah, yeah, Yuki could see it. Surprise like a shot through the heart! A heartbow was really an interesting weapon if you thought about it. In a world where it took time to draw a heart weapon and a hit to the head or the heart completely ended a fight, a bow fired by someone who would not miss their first shot ended a duel before it had even begun. Could you even call it a duel at that point? More like an ambush, or a kidnapping, right? Or, she supposed, like a hunter catching her prey. It was impressive. Though it did make Yuki wonder. How did she fare in an actual duel? She must have had some to become Khatun. They hadn't really interacted with the Serigalamu during the Azaza incident, and while Juniper had been very forthcoming about her hunting and clothing and now her lovely girlfriend, she hadn't bothered regaling Yuki with a history lesson of the Khanate. Somehow, Yuki didn't think the Khatun just crumpled if someone got close to her though. She probably knew how to backflip or something, and fire on the move while she was doing it. She had that badass cool vibe.

Okay, hold on, rewind a bit, a lot was happening and wondering about the mechanical constraints of heartbow dueling wasn't important. After receiving the answer about competition, Yuki looked thoughtful. She was going to say something else, maybe ask why the interpretation was competition and not cooperation, but she could admit to herself that the idea of competition got her heart beating too. She didn't have the chance though, with the Khatun's dismissal, so she settled on managing a brief curtsy with her t-shirt before Juniper and, Olesya was her name, Olesya the Baygum pulled her aside. Fine, fair enough. She hadn't had a plan for after this, she just had that moment of realizing that of everyone watching events, the Khatun had been special along with Yuki in observing the multiple contestants ahead of everyone else and that deserved a chat.

So, she was going to ask Juniper what was up, and ask the Baygum how she felt about things (because, let's be real, she came across as the sort of girl that was enrolled in one activity too many and really wanted some time to just run around without any rules). But then Crowey McCrowerston showed up and like, holy shit things started happening really fast.

First, everybody's heads turned with the wet slap because that is not a sound you expect to be hearing in the middle of a solemn ceremony and it carried. Everybody distracted by Crowey, which he was obviously going for. Then the golden fawn thing. Sulochana was shouting over the crowd, but Yuki was mentally a step of ahead of her because she'd arrived with Hazel and he was the only deer person she'd seen, and it wasn't that much of a stretch to put two and two together. Gah, stupid, she'd sent him to run off. She was looking around, then caught what Crowey was saying and was tracking him as fast as she could and yep, yep there's Hazel.

Ooh, and all wrapped up with Purnima no less. Had Hazel already found a Nagi girlfriend? Wow, good for him! Gosh, she was going to have to explain the politics of this one to him, and maybe let him know that Purnima had been kind of thoughtless when she met Yuki? Nagi were usually pretty good about paying attention to their coils, but she'd given Yuki the distinct impression that she was so preoccupied that she might crush Yuki by accident, and she'd better let Hazel know about that before he got too involved. But she could probably smooth things over with Sulochana. Or well, that thought was true up to like three seconds before she had it because no way was Suli going to let the prize for the whole crown of light thing fall into her local rival's hands.

Also huh, the Khatun had been right about the contest. Good call on her part. Wonder if she'd seen something like that before, gotta remember to ask her later if there's ever a later that involves actually chatting with her.

Oooh antler glow. There is...a moment as the magic flows into Hazel, that Yuki feels a little jealous. Juniper might notice if she's not totally distracted. Just that feeling of Yuki changing her stance, letting her head droop, curling in on herself a bit. She's thinking, oh, this one really is for Hazel. It's not just that she got to return, it's because Hazel is the chosen one this time. And very quickly she thinks that she didn't really want to be the chosen one again anyway, and it was super awkward being a celebrity here, and this was extremely cool for Hazel and she should be happy for him and she would be happy for him. But it's never easy to suddenly imagine yourself sharing a stage that had been all yours until just that moment. She buried that deep down just in time to look back up and see the arrow loosed.

Which brings us back to heartbows and Yuki contemplating them as Juniper and Olesnya, no no it was Olesya, no N Yuki, come on, but oh she was definitely going to mess that one up with how cute it sounded to say it cat style. Anyway, with Juniper and Oley holding her and the whooping of the pack, there wasn't much to do but think about what had just happened. Poor Purnima, taken out in the first instant. From what Yuki had gathered, she was not going to live that one down, and she'd probably never let it go. Blood vengeance on the entire Khanate probably. Whoof.

As the pack and the nagi begin to mix and press, Yuki does look up, almost upside down as she cranes her neck, to Juniper and Olesya. "So, he's from my world. Friend of mine from school. His name's Hazel, really nice guy, like super polite, a little shy I think. I sent him off to go explore the festival when we got here. Maybe instead of this madhouse, we all get out of here and I can introduce you? I've got his chat set up." She gives them a big smile, though there are butterflies in her tummy too. Poor Hazel, was he going to be all right with this? She hoped it didn't overwhelm him.
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Thanqol
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Tsane!

Books. She loved books. She was so glad that she read all those books. She couldn't imagine how confused people who didn't read books must be right now. She wished she could go and read some more books instead of doing what she was about to do -

- But not entirely. Because what she was about to do was reveal her brand new offensive spell that she'd refined for years but not gotten to use in anger yet. The conditions were perfect; the backdrop was open, there was no wind, minimal humidity, clear and present danger of unknown typology, a crowd of witnesses. She'd had time to do all the precasting and all of her markers had been fresh and she'd even managed to get a purple one with a glitter effect which, according to the theories of Beautification of Violence, should add a meaningful boost to her damage output. She stood up, raised her arm, the colours surged inside her -

And something leapt into the way. She had to do an emergency halt by drawing a line of black across her index finger, blocking the mana cascade. Damn it, not again!

Injimo!

The stakes of any situation were what you allowed them to be.

To someone else this would be a moment for uncertainty, defense, information gathering. Figuring out who the opponent was, what their agenda was, the reach of their weapon and their measure as a duelist. This would be a dialogue with her opponent, one which required her to be on the back foot until the chance to reverse presented itself. That's how Heron might have fought here.

But Injimo wasn't fighting the opponent in front of her.

She smashes the initial attack aside and that's the last of the respect she pays to her opponent. One hand tears her handmaiden's dress open - sorry Rurik - revealing her short sun-yellow strapless dress, traced through with curls of soft white wool. The white pattern looked like a network of fractures, matching with the tracery of fine white lines all along her exposed olive dark thighs, her knees and shins, her elbows and hands. Each scar was a mark of pride - a time when Heron had been forced to hurt her in order to stop her. A single line of blue hair, dyed amidst the black, falls down across her left eye. Her muscles emanate heat, the lines of sweat confessions that even in the midst of this festival she'd been doing pull-ups in secret. Not a moment to be wasted, every scrap of value to be extracted from every battle.

The offensive begins with a lioness' roar, overhead two-handed strikes with the spear while advancing. She fought like a workout, combinations in sets of eight, each technique feeling like it took everything out of her - everything but the next technique. She was already so far behind she could not afford to hold back even a little.

Anyone she lost to would be one more person standing between her and Heron. She could not fall further behind. Everybody back up, she wanted this.

[Fight! 8!
- Create an opportunity for Civelia
- Seize a superior position]
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by TheAmishPirate
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This is the biggest Birstake in the history of birds, everywhere.

Him? The Golden Fawn? No, sorry, he’s Hazel. From Earth. You’ve probably never heard of him. Which makes a lot of sense why you might not realize he’s not all that, prophetically speaking. Wait, was this actually a case of mistaken identity? Was there supposed to be a different deerboy getting a wet crow to the antlers, but he’s here instead and now a prophecy’s been ruined forever by wrong place wrong time?

That’s a neat thought. He’ll come back to it later, there are more important things happening right now, like aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

He makes an undignified scramble out of the now-loose coils, and the only mercy is that nobody can clearly see this part. It’s like trying to crawl around in a bouncy castle; no purchase anywhere, and every other step the ground gives way and you go bum over teakettle. When at last he finds solid ground again, it’s another fumble to tug the sash down, and get the gag out of his mouth. Patooie! Which is almost certainly enough time for a wolfgirl to climb a tower and be about to pounce on him. Better peek so he at least sees his doom coming for him.

On the plus side, he’s not immediately captured, or peppered with heart-arrows. Downside, the huntresses won’t be stymied by the city guard forever, and one or both of those things will surely follow. Worst of all, neither of those facts have really sunken in, as each fresh scream sends his heart to yet-unexplored depths of mud. All this, because he got caught. Because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Because-

“Better get going! Awk! Awk!

“Yes! Yes! I know! I’m going!”

“Eh, doesn’t look like it!”

“It’s a work in progress!”

Right. Okay. Feel sad later, make an escape now. Escape to where, exactly? Down was no good, down had at least two snakes, that is two too many. The plaza? No, no, no, plaza is all kinds of bad. And his thoughts might’ve continued on these pathways until time and awks forced him to one bad decision or the other. But starlight does funny things to a fellow, especially one who’s never had so much as a sip, and the Crow of Destiny hadn’t asked before giving him a whole bird-ful. As his eyes danced beneath the glow of his antlers, they saw fascinating possibilities in a rope tied to the tall tower, and the sparkly light jacket that Purnima had dropped in her sudden snooze…

Hunters!

As your heartblades sing and dance with the city guard’s, there’s a glimmer of movement up above. Sorry, scratch that, there’s a whole dazzle of movement up above.

“Hey!!!!”

With a novel battle cry, the Golden Fawn wraps a spangly bit of fabric around a rope holding up some of the festival banners, the light from his antlers now positively radiant, and-

”Aughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!”

-well, he doesn’t particularly zip on down, there’s far too much friction, and it’s a struggle to get past the banners without getting completely tangled up in them, but he does stagger his way down quite admirably.

“Stop fighting! I’m running away now!”

“...please don’t chase me!”

Then he’s falling the last few feet, windmilling his arms wildly to keep from eating pavement, and he’s off at a bouncing run to the far end of the plaza and the city beyond it. Away from the crowds, away from the festival, away from anything that he could possibly put between himself and the pack. Nothing but winding streets, the dark of night, and his glowing antlers.

Well. Perhaps you’ll be sporting and fulfill one of those requests?

[Rolling to Defy Disaster (Grace) to protect the crowds, risking his own safety, taking -1 from Women Want Me, Fish Fear Me: 1 + 3 + 2 - 1 = 5. Oops!]
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Tatterdemalion
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Eclair!

The Paladin does not go down gracefully. She fights. She bucks, she flails, she gnashes her teeth— but first she crumples to her knees, and then on all fours, panting, cheeks squished, poked and prodded and given scritchies. (Don’t worry about the seating. Her back is broad and strong.)

“…you promise?” The words are muffled, but insistent. “I… nngh.” She can’t lift you; every time she half-rises, you bring her back down with a devastatingly timed distraction. The little bell on the collar jingles jauntily. “…can’t… have to… promised I’d stop you… damn it…”

Her eyes flutter shut as you find just the right spot underneath her chin. Her gauntlet scrapes against the tile. Her heartglaive is useless under her hands, pinned down by your shared weight.

It’s fairly obvious, come to think of it. She’s a sledgehammer. The kind of girl who responds well to challenges, being given good instructions, having someone to compete with. The kind of weapon that someone might fire at you if your investigation caused them problems. Come up with a sordid story, convince her that you’re a cackling, scheming villainess, and then watch as she flings herself at you repeatedly. If you don’t convince her of your innocence, she would come after you again and again until ordered to call the pursuit off. Dogged, relentless, morally struggling with the fact that you’ve found The Scritchies Spot, and… well, as devoted to her tasks as you are to yours.

She would be an excellent cleaning partner and a reliable asset, if flipped. You just need to convince her that yielding, that not being an invincible wall of stone, is not Giving Into Wickedness.

Now would be a wonderful time to introduce yourself, incidentally. I’m quite sure this is where you do it.



Kalentia!

One of the Serigalamu bears down on you, intent on going right through you— and the running and slithering people behind you— to… well, there’s probably some handhold, some boxes to climb, some route that’s so important that shoving you to one side’s no trouble at all. And your feet feel rooted to the ground, and wouldn’t a barrier have helped here?

Except the Lunarian interposes herself at the last second. Unarmed, she gets her shoulder under the breastbone and flips the Serigalamu over, catching and twisting their arm along the way, disrupting the connection with their heartblade. The hunter hits the tiles hard, the air forced out of their lungs, and the Lunarian settles into the sort of stance that Injimo would recognize, ready to burst into action again.

“I am the advising of cessation of the unmaking of serenity,” the Lunarian says, a little raggedly. Yes, that’s it. Strain under the buzz of their voice. “You are the irrational unthinking, the disrupting of the serene.”

Then she looks back at you, her face hidden behind the smoky visor of her helmet. “You are the assisting of the disrupted. The path upwards is the protecting from disruption.”

Then she bounds (bounces?) into the fracas, and watch what she’s doing: trying to put herself, without a heartblade, between the people she’s waving over to you and the Khaganate pack. Taking blows which bounce off her armor, and doing her best to disarm and neutralize these rampaging huntresses.



Sulochana!

Chaos. Complete chaos. In your city! The screams of the crowd: these are your people!

All around you, loyal guards try to stem the tide of these flea-bitten venturers. Long, muscled tails smack scampering, leaping huntresses back; forked spears catch motley blades in their tines and skewer the least prepared of the lot. But the clever members of the pack know that they don’t need to get dragged into a fight.

“Don’t let them through! Crevas is on the side of the Golden Fawn—“

You barely swat aside a headshot. The Khatun, damn her eyes, snaps off another shot as she lopes towards you. Her mere presence seems to push her pack to redouble their efforts, and— you can’t look. If you take your eyes off the Khatun, you’re done for.

You have the reach advantage, and the advantage of knowing that you are defending that helpless boy (Hazel, like the Hazelnuts), who will doubtless be grateful and ready to be tamed when Yuki puts in a good word for you. Yuki! She must be ready to jump out any moment now and catch the Khatun from behind! The two of you, just like back when you were sneaking into Crevas from below. Where is…?

There. Dashing south-and-downwards, flanked by two huntresses. Your stomach drops; for all that she must have a good reason, you can’t help but feel… abandoned.

The Khatun is on you, and from her heart’s weapon— that recurved bow— she somehow pulls a broad-bladed, recurved knife, and you barely have the time to register that she’s suddenly got in under your guard before she’s sliding the heartblade into your stomach, twisting, dragging it upwards, and the hoarse scream that bursts out of you is barely recognizable as your own.

Abandoned. Betrayed. Alone.

Someone catches you as you stagger, and the Khatun has bounded past, not giving you so much as a second glance. The shock of that blow is still reverberating through you— you can hardly breathe through the tears.

This was supposed to be your night.

At least the sight of the Golden Fawn nobly descending is a comfort. Of course Yuki’s friend is noble and self-sacrificing, pretending to be clumsy and easily caught in order to draw away pursuit from festivalgoers. How noble…



Yuki!

“For the mounts?”
“No time.”
“So where?”
“Not up. Out.”

Olesya and Juniper let you go, but Juniper grabs your hand and interlaces her fingers with yours. The three of you start running, following the fleeing crowd, and… huh, Olesya doesn’t have her heartblade out. She’s moving quick, though, and it’s all you can do to keep up. She runs like she can somehow catch up with ten minutes ago and stop any of this from happening.

She slides to a halt by a low-hanging wall and drops to one knee. Juniper lets go of your hand and jumps, landing with her foot in Olesya’s hands, and— woof. That’s a very strong toss up, like a vertical caber toss. And Juniper tries to smooth down her skirt a little too late, giving you an eyeful. So stop looking up, look at Olesya! She’s going to do the same for you if you can get the momentum up.

And then, once you’re up there, that’s when the rooftop parkour will begin. There’s a lot of verticality to scrabbling over the tiles of Crevas’s rooftops, and plenty of daring jumps from one roof to another, all to try and cut Hazel off— but that depends on you trusting in Olesya first, and pulling her up after you with Juniper after.

(You definitely didn’t have the chance to do something like this last time— being up on top of the city instead of sneaking through secret passages and basements. It’s very “Assassin’s Creed,”isn’t it?)

Either way, mark a Need with Sulochana. That’s just the way these things snake out sometimes.



Injimo!

You’re fighting just like the Nagi are, you know. Not in technique, but in purpose. You don’t land a solid hit on this maid, and she can’t seem to land a solid hit on you, either. It’s all fluttery scratches, a fleeting rush from glancing blows with her fan— because she doesn’t want to drop you. She just wants to get past you, and you are impossible to ignore, not letting her slip past.

Finally, she has an opening: her fan’s edge kisses your chest, right at your breastbone. But the shock of her own heart striking yours is something you’re trained to push through. An iron heart is an impenetrable heart.

So she hops back, clicking her fan shut. Behind you, three Paladins are now covering for Civelia; you’re the head of the spear, and now the rest of the spear is in place. So she dips into a curtesy towards you all.

Excellent, excellent! You are lucky to have such a lioness defending you, goddess! But you must be lucky every time, my dear, and I must merely be lucky the once~!”

She points at Civelia with the closed fan. “For I, Eclair Espoir, the Violet Flash, shall have my vengeance on you, yes~!”

One of the Paladins moves— fool. No sooner is he in his swing than Eclair Espoir is jumping, landing on his blade’s flat in her heels, and launching off, already swinging her skateboard off her back and smoothly under her feet.

Mark a Condition as even your iron heart feels the blow. Another pale scar to add to your collection.



Hazel!

You skid around yet another corner, heart pounding in your ears, the baying of the pack and the clash of heartweapons echoing in your wake, throat hoarse from the dry Crevas air and from yelling for people who decided to stay out for a quiet cup of tea or for board games in park squares that they should get inside, pronto!

Anyway, you skid inside the alleyway and then bounce.

“There you are!”
“There you are!”

The veil and sash are snatched away from you, even as Keli takes your hand to help you back up. (Her other hand is, ah, stabilizing herself.)

“We come up to save you and you’re diving off rooftops?”
“Managing to knock out that bossy snake, yah!”
“Without even a thought of coming back for us?”
“And since when do antlers glow in the dark?”

The hunt is getting very, very close, Seli is adjusting her veil with an air of aggrieved pride, and Keli is peering very closely at your antlers.

Do you feel like digging yourself deeper into debt, little fawn? Or do you want to dare doubling back on your own trail? Do you think they really don’t know what’s going on, or are they just trying to lull you into a false sense of security? And Keli definitely isn’t letting go of your wrist now.

And you do still have your purse…
Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by Thanqol
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Kalentia!

Kalentia did not throw up a barrier.(1)


Instead she followed her traditional technique: running after the Lunarian, hands alight with healing(2) magic, waiting for her to take a hit so she can dive in to immediately cure it. This was not a dignified process; the vibe here is 'late schoolgirl rushing through a bad neighbourhood', involving lots of shrieking and ducking.



Injimo!

Fantastic. Instead of 'legendary hero defeats mysterious assailant' she'd managed to hit the bar of 'bodyguard squad leader'. She should -

Hmmmmmmm. She swallowed the frustration audibly as she set her weapon at ease. Nothing to be gained by seething. She knew she was second best, and all this meant was nothing had changed. No sense crying over the status quo. She'd get back to trying to break it along with her punching bag later.

But damn. That skateboard was fast. She should get one.
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Phoe
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"If you are quite finished having an existential crisis, there is sand that requires sweeping. I am at a loss as to how I can explain the seriousness of this situation any more clearly. It was a promise; even in defeat I would insist upon it. Quite frankly your continued stalling has reached the point of rudeness."

Eclair has continued, rather absentmindedly, scritching at the Paladin's chin. It is a soothing action in a moment that requires a re-commitment to cool nerves. The revelation that Lady Vessenmer may well have responded to her kindness by initiating these acts of assassination has rattled her rather deeply.

Investigation requires cool eyes and calm minds. Uncovering the truth requires an unbiased heart. A Maid who cannot be these things cannot be trusted with a mission. Breath. Scritch, scritch. Prod forward... step away. Chariot is broken, deemed possibly too dull witted to warrant grading as a viable asset flip.

...Dull witted is being unkind. Instead say 'held back'. Specifically meaning shackled. In another circumstance the appellation could easily be reversed to apply to herself. All the same. Reprioritize cleaning as objective number one. If duty is what is impeding this exchange, then a display of duty will resolve it.

"Perhaps you require additional assurances. I will offer what I may. Whatever you were told about me that sent you here, you were lied to. My intentions lie plain before you and I have nothing to hide from anyone. Certainly I have no need to resort to underhanded tactics to achieve my aims. These truths I will swear on my name, Eclair Espoir. Now, may we finally put these brooms to their intended use?"
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Anarion
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Getting out of here was happening. Good, good! Yuki looks as Juniper goes first, and blushes intensely. Juniper! Gosh! Wear an underskirt or something! She was going to introduce Thellamie to bicycle shorts after this. Gosh, gosh gosh. But, focus, jump. Her feet scuff the pavement, and her armor jingles below her shirt as she hits Olesnya with a solid running start and vaults onto the roof. She's never done this, but there's a practiced ease to her movement. The ease of feeling her center of mass, of hundreds of days spent moving and shifting her weight and being sure to always know how she can move. And the ease of having triangles and the reflexes that go with them. Her whole body was itching for something like this and she leans into it. It's almost perfect as she starts sprinting along the rooftops, pigtails whipping back as she runs.

Almost perfect. It's just, too much was happening is the thing. There was a fight, and the wolf pack vs. snakegirl guards thing was huge and chaotic. The Khatun had moved off away from Juniper and Olesnya, and by the time they rounded back into view, Yuki couldn't see the ceremony anymore. Couldn't see what was happening. Everyone else must have jumped down or off, or gotten mixed up.

She wanted to get her tablet out, start something up in the group chat. Check in with Sulochana and Juniper together, and maybe get Aadya's take too. She would soon, as soon as she could stop and focus.

Poor Suli, poor poor Suli! Yuki had only meant to jump over and ask questions. There had been risks, sure, but, the risk in her mind had been switching who kidnapped her from whom at dinner! Not a giant melee over Hazel! God sake. Suli was going to be so upset about this. It's why Yuki had snapped at Juniper about it initially. She knew Suli, and Suli was kind of uptight. If she wanted special time and didn't get it, she was going to mope about it for days! Or worse, she'd secret mope about it! [Need marked]

But then, the Khatun had relished the fight, Yuki had heard it in her voice. And on top of that, she'd heard how excited Sulochana had been about the crown of light. If anyone else thought like Sulochana did, then they were going to go all out for this too. Which meant that Hazel was...

Yuki nearly trips and falls on her face as her thoughts get ahead of the shift in roof layout to a smaller building with a diagonal A-frame roof as they move away from the market square.

"Where are we going?" she manages as she recenters herself and kicks extra hard on the jump to catch back up with Juniper and Olesnya. "I don't know this part of Crevas! When can we stop?"

She wants to stop. Wants to try and catch up, ask questions, get in touch with people, hit up the chat group, reach out to Hazel, both DM and new group chat. And she doesn't even know the half of what's happened!

And yet, she doesn't want to stop. This is good. Her body is sending her all the good signals, all the endorphins running on rooftops with Juniper and Olesnya. She could do an entire course, run all night until she's sweating and tired and needs to gulp down an entire pitcher of water.

She doesn't...she doesn't know what she wants. Well no, she doesn't want to fall. She starts counting in her head. Feet in rhythm. One two three, one two three, one two three. Like a dance, like a match. Just the counting and listening to Juniper and Olesnya. Run, learn what's next, go from there. One two three, one two three.
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by TheAmishPirate
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Oh no, had he forgotten?! It was, well, oh no, he hadn’t thought, but, was that true? Seeing them now, there’s an awful lack of surprise, like he expected them to be fine the whole time. There’s a lot of complex mathematics in that thought, flashes of a big misunderstanding sorted out multiplied by the inevitability of foxgirl escapes, to the power of everyone having bigger problems. But he’d also thought going down into Purnima’s house meant danger, so, that meant-

Ah. A tug at his arm. She wasn’t going to let go, huh.

That. Mghh.

“I’m sorry, I wasn’t able to, there was a lot going on, and,” he shook his head, ears flopping a half step behind. “And. There’s no time to explain everything, and, there’s no. I know you’re. I think you’re. This really. This isn’t. Can we please.” He takes a breath because he’s got no more air left to keep trying to talk. Flushing. Not blushing. Not this time. “Please. I have to get out of Crevas before I ruin this festival for anyone else. I’m sorry. I. Can. I can ask Yuki to cover any previous expenses.” A howl sounds. Closer, now. His foot thumps anxious on the street. “It’s okay if you run now. But. Could. You could. Could you. You two. Run, good, and. And.”

And the haze in his head can only permit so much.

Keli!

You said he could be a princess someday.

There’s no smile on his face anymore. His face is mussed with sweat and dust. The voice that squeaked now cracks with the effort to ask the question his whole heart screams. He is so hopelessly out of his depth, and his only thought is to keep from being a bother to anyone, not least of all you and your sister.

He holds that purse like it’s the most precious thing in all of Thellamie.

You hold his trembling wrist.

You said he could be a princess someday.

What do you see today?

[Rolling to Entice Keli: 4 + 2 - 1 = 5, but that upgrades to a mixed beat because of Women Want Me, Fish Fear Me]
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Sayanastia!

Welcome back! You just got punched in the soul. Metaphorically. The stars slowly wheeling overhead are mocking in their light, like someone else’s perfectly precise and unattainable brushstrokes.

Things are… relatively calm. There was a fight here between the Nagi and the survivalist pack of mostly Serigalamu, but it’s over: the pack’s howling off down-city, the Nagi are following them and trying to slow them down, and the regular people, the people who were just here to celebrate and enjoy themselves and see something once-in-a-lifetime… well, they’re now regathering in places that aren’t here, the epicenter of the whole mess.

(In places that aren’t this plaza, parents are yelling the names of their children who got lost in the crowd; people are being treated for bruises, concussions, overheating, overexcitement, and the lingering emotional effects of being grazed with heartshot and heartblades; cafes and shops are throwing open their doors, and glasses of tea and water are being handed out, and blankets are being thrown over shoulders, and lost children are sitting on chairs eating cookies. Say what you will about people, but they have a tendency to do unforgivably sentimental things like this when disasters happen.)

Here, Civelia has taken a seat pulled over by one of her paladins, hand resting under her chin, staring furiously at nothing in particular, with Rurik and Injimo over there, listening to those Paladins bicker over what to do, since the maid that attacked— pity you missed that— might have accomplices nearby, and Civelia’s tapped on magic, and there’s a vigorous and violent chase roaring down the streets between here and the city’s exit.

As far as disasters and calamities go, how is this one stacking up against the sorts of things you used to get up to?



Eclair!

The Paladin sweeps like she fights: aggressively, with, well, sweeping motions. Good for getting a mess to the point where real work can be done to make it presentable.

“If you aren’t in Crevas stalking Sister Tammithyn,” she asks, after a period of abashed and sullen silence, “why are you following her and trying to get information about her? Even going so far as to hunt down the shop where she’s been buying renovation supplies from. When I met her, she was a nervous wreck at the thought of you finding where she was staying. So why are you here asking questions about her, if you’re just an innocent maid like you say, Eclair Espoir?”

Even as she says this, she overextends, gets her broom behind a vat, leaves herself open. Open to explanations. Open to questions. And— that’s a good stretch, isn’t it? Worth admiring. Well-muscled arms. Sticks her foot out behind her just a little bit to counterbalance.

Anesh Vessenmer’s office slats have creaked, the once, and the sound of scribbling has ceased. You’re definitely being watched by the proprietor, even as you attend to the closing chores: sweeping, sorting, and oiling.



Yuki!

“Wait, you don’t?” Juniper sounds a little panicky. “What am I saying, of course you don’t! Suli would know but she’s back there and we can’t double back—“

“There,” Olesya says, nodding. Down there you catch a glimpse of golden antlers bobbing, and less down there the roiling melee of hunters and guards that’s bleeding both. If Hazel ran all the way down and back up, he’d probably lose all but the most dedicated and dangerous hunters— but that would be a mess. And, ah, the golden glow ducks around a corner and is gone.

The Khatun’s not at the head of the pack; she’s at the back, driving her hunters on. At the front are three Serigalamu who are moving together: the comparatively lanky one, the comparatively short one, and the comparatively blonde one. They’re, presumably, the huntresses that Hazel needs to worry the most about. Given that the three of you cumulatively know about as much of the city as the huntresses do, and you’re scrabbling on the roofs to avoid their fighting, you don’t have the best odds of getting to Hazel before they do.

You need some sort of plan, because Juniper’s plan is “whatever Olesya says,” and Olesya’s plan is… well, hard to tell. Want to gamble on it, or propose your own?



Hazel!

Two pairs of triangles perk up. The two exchange a Look.

“Oh. You know Yuki?”
“Maybe we should—“
“—yah, if he wants to leave—“
“—Garnet?”
“Yah.”

There is a crash at one end of the alley, behind you, and all three of you jump, and there are three high-pitched squeaks in unison. The rest of the Nagi guard who slammed his shoulder into the corner is still piling up behind him as he tries to change his direction of momentum. (There is quite a bit of tail, you see.)

“Golden Fawn! Make your way to the Viperiat at once!”

“You’ve really gone and made her mad, huh?”
“All the more reason to leave, yah?”

“No, don’t—!”

Seli takes your other hand and pulls you along, even as Keli blows the guard a kiss.

“You really got under her shed, yah?”
“Sounds like she’s got the whole city after you!”
“Trust us, the Garnet Shore is much calmer!”
“We’ll take you to the most exclusive spa~”

…they really don’t know what they’re getting into, do they? The glowing antlers, the frantically slithering guardsman, the running: they haven’t connected everything. They don’t have context. But would they act any differently if they did? Are…

Are you tricking them? On accident, but still with full moral culpability probably? You trickster.

No string for you, incidentally, but you do get something they think you want~!
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Phoe
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There is a need to follow behind those large, aggressive sweeps with something more careful and delicate. Those not used to cleaning tend not to understand. When you drag The Instrument with intent to merely be finished, a trail is left in the wake of your efforts. It would not be satisfactory merely to take the piles she creates and sort, store, and trash them. There is also a need to cover the tracks, as it were.

Good muscles on this one. Attractive spinal structure, curls well into butt. Lean, lack of meat, muscle definition creates sense of curves. Stance slightly open for counterbalance; quietly confident, naively trusting. Tempting to knock her legs out from underneath and show her. But, no. Best to just admire. This is also quite "cute". Akin to watching a kitten trapped in the body of a championship arm wrestler.

Eclair smiles. The only time her broom stops moving ('dancing' the more appropriate word) is when she shifts focus to organization or applies oil to another surface to polish it; then it is a rag underneath her foot that dances in its stead.

"A simple question with an obvious answer: I am not. I do not have the slightest idea who Sister Tammithyn is. Until her name fell from your lips I was not even vaguely aware that she existed. To this point in time my sole line of inquiry within this establishment has been to the sourcing of a dye sample I collected from a mural I deemed connected to my mission. Evidently that question has one very obvious answer, but to the extent I care it all it is only via its connection to my work. A civil nun has no reason to fear an hour's worth of questions, I shouldn't think."

Bend ear toward Lady Vessenmer's office. Track sounds, movement, breathing. Attempt to determine position and maintain tracking. Something is up. Assumption of kindness, or even the lack of a second knife after the first one has been buried in her pillow is a direct threat to the integrity of the mission. Impropriety of calling her out directly is unacceptable. But deference ends with silence.

Open notebook. Hover.

"However I am professionally curious in the information you were provided with. What was the Sister expecting? What did she fear? Did any specific names come up as the conversation transpired? Please use exact quotations where possible. Summation is preferable to paraphrasing where that becomes impractical. Please, Miss. The only unsatisfactory answer is a lie."
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Nobody notices her standing up. That in itself is a master-level skill. The first time she'd awoken after being annihilated by searing holy light she'd screamed and thrashed and carried on in such disarray that she'd barely had time to process what was happening before she was destroyed a second time. She'd developed the stagecraft of shrugging off her own utter obliteration, to the point where she could go from apocalyptic final battle with Heron in one moment, to stepping down out of a ritual circle and smoothly issuing commands to cultists without missing a beat. She'd been dimly proud of how cool she'd come across in that moment.

Her startracker spell informs her that the year hasn't changed. The moontracker lets her know that it is still in fact the present day. The infocyte she maintains for this eventuality warps into being and starts informing her of the political situation, technological innovations, current presumed status of the Hero - she shoos it away by blowing distractedly at it. She needs to fix her hair. Civelia keeps hers done up in extremely elaborate braids and whenever she stops paying attention her own starts knotting itself into comparable intricacy. It's a constant war to keep it loose hanging, but as with most things she still does, she does it because she refuses to give Civelia the satisfaction.

She's vaguely aware that at some point in the past this scene would have infuriated her. The way that broken things insisted on pulling themselves back together into new shapes, gaining scars and complexity each time. She would want to ram an unreality spike through the disruption and chaos, tear open the gaps until they were insurmountable, scatter this bubble of reality across the Outside in the hopes that the individual fragments would dissolve into nothing. Hoping that the web of light would not stitch them back together, and tie her wrists in the process. Maybe that was what drove her for so long. Hope. Hope that things wouldn't be as they were. It seemed like all she hoped for these days was for control of her own hair.

No, that wasn't true. She didn't hope for that. She knew that battle was as futile as the one to end reality. Her hair would never belong to her. What she was hoping for was to irritate Civelia by showing everyone what she looked like with her hair down - and that was an achievable goal. A faint smile flicks across her face, just for a moment.

She makes eye contact with Civelia, just as she shakes her hair loose. Time seems to slow as it cascades free down her back and shoulders, and she leans into the pose just a little. See? This is what you'd look like if you were freed from your duty. She gently runs her finger along her own chin, in a seductive mirror of Civelia's own pose. See? This is the impact you'd have if you let yourself relax a little. You, obsessed little goddess, wrapped up in your dignity - this is what you'd look like if you let yourself be a woman. How far do you have to go to avoid thinking about that?

[Entice: 10]
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A moment to think. Blessed, blessed moment. Yuki looks to where the golden antlers faded. She's breathing rhythmically. Not hard, steadily, her body still ready to keep running. The lightness of the Kel armor is wonderful in this moment. She knew some Kel paladins went for full plate, but she'd picked something that she could wear regular clothes over. Running and jumping like this, she felt that was the right call between protection and agility. Plus, armor vs. heartblades was a super weird thing. She'd wanted it for...well she wasn't sure exactly, but there seemed to be a range of hazards in Thellamie beyond heartblades, and even then there was something to enchanted armor that might at least slow a heartblade down or let her move herself around someone's heartblade. It would at least soften a punch if nothing else. There was also the aesthetics, Yuki wanted to be a knight of Thellamie, not a chosen queen, and not just a random person either.

When she looks back up, it's to glare at Juniper and Olesnya. ...ya, whatever. She shouldn't be mad, but Juni assuming that she knew the way around here. The first time through had been in chains, the second time as part of a festival and it was over six years ago! Maybe if they put up different colored party streamers across all the roofs to direct people between the food vendors and the perfume vendors and the souvenir stands, then she'd know where she was going. Big emphasis on the maybe though, six years was a long time to remember which way to turn without stopping in the middle of a chase!

She blinks. Glaring wasn't going to help, and as the seconds tick by, the hunters and Hazel are getting further away, and who knows what's happening back at the plaza! "Okay what are we...even trying to do here?" Yuki scratches her head, tilts her chin up. She'd started thinking about Hazel chasing plans, but then mentally backpedaled. She didn't have a specific place to be, dinner obviously wasn't happening, and she had at least three different groups she wanted to be with at the moment (Hazel, Suli, and Juni. She could come up with more if you gave her a minute). "If you catch Hazel now, you need a plan to get him out of here super fast or the entire mob is going to drop on top of us, right? And if he's racing away like that, he must already be totally freaked out. So...so, we don't need to catch him, right? What we need is for him to get away from the big group and then we can contact him and figure out what's next. I dunno if he'll be willing to meet up with you all right away. Track him maybe? I haven't seen that many other people here that look like him, maybe there's a unique scent we could follow?"

She looks at Olesnya more than Juniper, doesn't hold her gaze for long, looks around again. Maybe there was something, some landmark that would give her a hint of the best way to go to do this?

[Rolling Been Around for this part of Crevas to see if Yuki recalls an adventure here that's helpful. 2+2+1=5.]

Hidden 26 days ago Post by TheAmishPirate
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Hazel runs with all his might in the wrong direction.

He feels it, in the impact that runs through his body with each bounding step. The faint burn in his thighs and side that’s going to get much worse as soon as he really stops. He can’t hide it, the crack in his voice when he turns, just a smidge, to call back over his shoulder,

”I’m sorry!”

Later on, the feelings will have space to bloom into messy, complicated thoughts. But that’s later. Now, in the chase, there’s only time for simple. Direct. So simple, he hasn’t got the words all sorted out yet. It’s just things he knows. Things like…

The huntresses are the ones chasing him. The guards are the ones helping him. They, and Yuki, and Princess Sulochana (surely, obviously) could help him even more, if he could just get to the Viperiat. There’s danger that way. There’s people that way. Keli and Seli aren’t taking him that way. They can’t know everything he knows. Two people saw everything that happened. One of them is snoozing atop her terrace. He’s the only one left. And what is he saying?

“I think the guards are trying to help! There’s a bunch of Serigalamu hunters, they’re the ones after me! The guards were holding them back!”

And they’re running further and further away from the Viperiat.

It’ll get him out of the city. It’s not a bad idea.

It’s not the right way to go either.
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