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Fred quickly vantaged the salle, once the constable graced his shoulder, presuming that a team of unseen guards would undoubtedly spew out to cement and herd him off to his unanticipated exit.

However, the caress became a momentary venture.

"No, let him. If he wants to take a few steps in this dance, he will be allowed to do so."

The Master apparent invited the gambler further into the web of masticated smoke. The mythic man sat, simply strewn stoically as a pristine sepulcher, while carving a cherry wisp from the twinkled and somber sheen that lingered from the hookah. Zorkybski caught wind and sight again of the parasol toting Lady’s pretense resting comfortably upon a seated chin, whose lack of gaze suggested judgment. The other scattered high-backed chairs nearby welcomed Parlé, to join the affair of relaxation and to sculpt a throne of his own with his middle-aged body.

Yet, he remained standing.

Swaying ever so slightly, like a crystal chandelier protracted over a banquet’s feast, ingesting those very near to Mr. Spices and other masks within eavesdropping distance. The casino runner knew the dazzling game of reconnaissance. All too well.

“Royal Beth… Mahogany Hall… Certain borders one must cross to truly understand.”

It seemed a valuable Agent was lost. In which the dilapidated knowledge of said whereabouts. Dead or alive, may prove fruitful. He would not preach further, choosing a benediction before dismissing himself from the reverie.

Ah. To be in the future good graces of a Master, no less.

“How do you propose we approach this subject?”

The jarring question from the woman hung around Alf’s neck like a noose, adorned with a resplendent tombstone polished with it as an epitaph. The beginning of a headless prancing, begging fluency with infiltration. The polarity of two locations. To choose between the sun and moon.

“My bid would be to seek further entertainment than to frantic lodging.”

Freddy finally sat, anticipating that the Captain and Professor would also vote against the Hotel as the initial curious incursion.

Especially due to the implications of such baroque idiosyncrasies.

@Hekazu@Sofaking Fancy@Templar Knight

The Nietzschian ropes, once constraints, now would become the vehicle of the monk's liberation as the druid loosely tossed them over each shoulder. Smolder and screams were the first hallmarks of the guised sabretooth’s scheme. The visual pandemonium from a sample bird’s eye view, courtesy of the pirate’s Judgement, curdled the lips of the bard, hoping the spewing Gehenna whirling tumultuously in the slave’s encampment being enough.

“It is time. Quickly, lads.”

Brown fur erupted between nooks of Torus’ robes. The minotaur hide brilliantly melting onto a muscular back, bereft of a coveted fleece, only nature could bestow. His dragon fang assimilated into the sternum of the sailor, whilst the raven pirouetted in the laughing clouds. Soon, the twine laced around each extremity quickly became taut as both reins and belts, securing Leosin atop the ursine beast of burden as the makeshift monstrosity bolted away from the fiery distraction.

@Hekazu@The Harbinger of Ferocity@Ryonara@Lucius Cypher@Norschtalen
Is now the time to...

The Gates of Barovia

As the chaperone trotted forward, towering trees, whose innumerable canopies lost forever in heavy smog, continued to block out all but a death-gray light. The trunks lingered unnaturally close to one another, and the eerie timberland still possessed the silence of a forgotten grave. The collective softened hoof beats exuded the pity of an unvoiced scream. The scent of exhumed tombs frequented the air once fog spewed out of the forest to swallow up the road behind the remnant of the treading cabal.

Ahead, jutting from the impenetrable woods on both sides of the path, stood high mesolithic buttresses looming grim in the hoary haze. Huge iron gates hung like nooses, precariously on the intricate stonework, worthy of dwarven appraisal. Dew clung with cold tenacity to the rusted bars, hoping to hinder another droplet’s inevitable descent to the depths below. Two headless statues of armed guardians flanked the metallic portal, their bald heads tossed now lying among the weeds at their feet.

Their lack of smiles invited all with disappointment.

Markus suddenly galloped onward.
Bear time? Or too noticeable?
The unseeing gypsy juggled and answered each inquiry.


“Lady Eva knows.” He pitched each of the burrowing larvae onto the forest’s topsoil as the goblet hovered. “The seer who has prophesied both deaths of our Prince Von Zarovich. You are not the first to be called upon by Her.” Tremors abruptly inaugurated writhing insects constructing sultry steeds, mostly coalesced by worms. Slowly the squirming institution of six charcoal horses emerged. All equipped with a midnight-black saddle, stirrups and reigns. A quartet of helical extremities constantly shifted under the pugnacious thoraces of the still mounts, swirling like tornadoes born from a nascent thunderstorm. Whilst the ocular orbits were adorned with a pair of crimson beetles whose posterior wings served as scarlet eyelids, that never opened.

“Hopefully, you will be the last. Markus, please escort our friends to the gates.”

The mouthless proprietor of the cup finally materialized in plain sight, shedding his invisibility and hopping swiftly onto the leading mare.

Many of the Vistani began to evaporate once again into the mist, silently in the direction of their wagons. Starovir birthed parting words, before embracing the silvery air.

“Until we meet again.”

@JohnSolaris Zaerith Dustborn

"You did not answer my question," Zaerith's eyes narrowed. "I asked how you expect the likes of me to help. Somehow I doubt the humbleness regarding the extent of your arcane power will improve my chances, and who is to say my powers can endure in this land any more reliably than yours?" Who knows, perhaps these people don't actually have any solid reasons to place any trust in the abilities of this ragtag group. Perhaps they're grasping at straws, approaching anyone who may remotely have a chance, hoping that one of them will succeed sooner or later. Which isn't very likely, given the track record of this "prince" of theirs...

Of course, there was no reason Zaerith could actually refuse, due to the very nature of this request. But the gypsies did not know that. And nor can Zaerith even trust the words coming out of the blind man's mouth. Unfortunately, there were no other leads to follow.

"Regardless, I happen to know of this prince you speak of." Zaerith's face was a carefully maintained mask of neutrality. "Not much by any means, but enough to tell me that he may have what I am looking for. So at the very least, I will meet with your Lady Eva and listen to what she has to say." Then he turned his face to the others, waiting to see if they have anything else to say.

The fighter distrusted magic in almost all of its forms and especially in a forest such as this.

"Enough with this nonsense," Egil stepped forward and looked around at the hooded man. "Who is Lady Eva?"
“This magic?”

Another empty chalice climbed the palmed atmosphere like an annoying stigmata, as the rhetoric beget a stashed answer.

“Mere parlor tricks. Mystical, but fleeting. Hoarded like leavened manna. Now bursting with worms. Our powers do not reliably endure in this blessed land. Consistency is required to save our lord.”

His outstretched arm clenched the cupped trophy, now bearing several maggots, while he glared into the reincarnated eyes of Zaerith.

“If there are no more questions, we should be off.”

@JohnSolaris Zaerith Dustborn

Ha! The voice in Zaerith’s mind barked out a harsh sound that he alone can hear. And there we have it! There was never a true cause to doubt my capabilities and my promise, my dear vassal, now was there?

For once, Zaerith felt humored enough to respond. Let’s not kid ourselves here, my liege. This was but mere happenstance and we both know it.

Regardless, this is your chance, is it not? The voice beginning to fill with the sadistic glee that was the one thing Zaerith knows all too well.

There was no longer the need to reply, not to the obvious. There was, however, the need to ask further questions of the blind storytelling gypsy.

“You say you are looking for heroes, to end your lord’s curse,” Zaerith began, “but how can you be sure that we are at all even capable of helping?” He raised the goblet in his hand and tapped on it, causing what remains of the green beverage inside to shake. “This drink you gave us, it is powerful magic. Far beyond what I am capable of. If you have the power to produce such magic, yet you cannot win against this prince of yours, what hopes can I possibly have?”
Starovir stared at the puppet and answered the initial query. “We are outcasts from Oryndoll. Led by Lady Eva, our eternal mother. We resurfaced originally upon the Vilholn Reach, before venturing the first of us into the mists of Gulthfere Forest and now here, upon the request of our prince.”

The elder refocused upon the matter of their lord.

“In life. Strahd von Zarovich. Lived as a soldier. Before becoming a tyrant. After the assassination of his father, King Barov, Strahd waged long, bloody wars against his family's enemies. He and his army cornered the last of them in a remote mountain dale before slaying them all. This valley became named Barovia. In honor. Of the recently deceased.”

A sigh pierced the bated inhalation of the man.

“Peace made the new ruler restless. Unwilling to go the way of the previous monarch, Strahd forged a pact with the Dark Powers. In return for the promise of immortality. However, jealousy is known to be a green eyed monster.”

The wreaths around his charcoal pupils, no longer washed out by the sins of an uncontrollable power, suddenly sprouted a jade hue, sparkling with sight, accommodating the lack of light in relation to the shadowy crew about him.
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