Status

Recent Statuses

2 mos ago
Current Sometimes it doesn’t matter too much what choice you make, as long as you make it quick and stick to it.
3 mos ago
Merry Easter, one and all. Happy Day if you celebrate it or, if not, I just hope it was a happy day anyways
2 likes
3 mos ago
Just had a long weekend of travel, weddings, and hangovers. I will reply ASAP once my head stops hurting. Apologies for the delay
1 like
3 mos ago
You should laugh every moment you live, for you'll find it decidedly difficult afterwards.
1 like
3 mos ago
Remember never to step on a mans Timbs. Entirely not based.

Bio

Hey there, I assume you want to know about me so here it is...

The name is gowia (g-ow-ee-ah) or Alex. Or anything else you come up with, I'm not fussy.

I am a 25 year old male, though comfortably I'll play anything as a character.

I am a Brit born and bred and so that is my lingo, I use British words and love my slang, and if I don't seem to make sense I may simply be using English idioms that don't translate outside the rural country abodes I swan around.

I enjoy all sorts of things, I am an avid football (soccer) player and supporter, adore music, and live for a good story. I am in love with history. So you will always get a decent plot or conversation out of me on that subject.

If there is anything else you need to ask, feel free too. I swear I don't bite... much.

Most Recent Posts

M A N A S



The serene stillness seemed to last forever. Time was frozen whilst they both drifted into the arms of one another. The peace in which the woman seemed to accept her fate was startling, almost as if this had been part of the plan all along. How she had come to be here plagued the thoughts of the merfolk. Was she thrown overboard? Had it been an accident? Would they come diving for her? So many curious avenues of thought that would never have an answer now. There would never be a chance to ask her. Not now that she had slipped gently into his grasp. Where she had been inquisitive, exploring the touch of his skin and the shape of his cheek, he had been utilitarian. One hand had clamped down around her forearm, the other pressing down on her shoulder. The best places to hook her to him for when he dank deeper and deeper into the depths.

They had only just started to vanish deeper and deeper, leaving the light behind them when she started to fight back. Her own hands dug into his flesh and he gave a gurgling hiss in pain. Despite the weight of her dress she moved with the freakish agility of a creature rolling free of imminent death. The most dangerous dogs were those that had been cornered, when this human was being drowned she used her claws. When she carved up his chest he wondered at the wisdom of wearing some kind of covering. It had seemed a waste of what little brush they had but now, with the oozing injuries, he wished he was wearing some kind of protective jacket. Nothing like her dress of course, it had been so overly saturated he found it quite simple to urge garment down deeper. She was a goner when they had seen each other, he was simply making sure. One could never be too careful.

The more erratic she became the harder he gripped her. Webbed fingers crimping to cling tightly onto the human. Whatever she did he simply rolled with her, focusing all his strength on holding her tightly and letting the bulk of her clothes and the slow, back peddle of his legs take them into the binding weeds and out of sight of where anybody else might see them. Even if they came diving for this woman now they would see nothing. Just the slow, lethargic waving of an aquatic forest. Like she had never even existed. Just like the folk of the sea. Not that this woman wanted that fate, still fighting every step of the way. Manas had been calm before but now his face was contorted in the effort of holding her. His lip curled back from teeth similar to a human's, only noticeably divergent by the quantity of pointed canines. It appeared Manas possessed a number more than Adeline did.

All of a sudden, he went quite still, his efforts to kill this poor woman forgotten for something that had just passed by his periphery. He couldn't be sure he had seen it, the snaky web of plant life provided a confusing and blurry setting for this murder. Yet, the anxiety of what it had been was enough for Manas to completely ignore the human and instead, drift apart from her slightly. Far enough, at least, to avoid any more raking with her harpy's talons. Everything around them was moving thanks to the current, making Manas distrust his own eyes. He thought he saw it again over there, only to find it had been a trick of refraction. Finally, uncertainly, he returned his attention to Adeline. A grim resolve settled on his face. He didn't have time for the romance of a slow, sensual execution. He lunged towards her, like a bullet from a gun, seeking to wrap his fingers around her neck and choke her. As quick as he could make it, then he could turn tail home. For safety.

Unencumbered by most clothes and other unnecessary items, he moved with the agility of an eel and the strength of someone who had been swimming since birth. His whole body worked in tandem to allow for expert execution of action. He circled her, kicked at her, swam under and over her; he was predatory and waited for the first chance he got before seeking to latch onto her throat. He sought to bully her, using overwhelming force to seek her watery grave, forcing the pair of them to become tangled in the weeds and tied together. All the better, he thought, no way for her to escape. Eyes alight with the yellow fire of his origins, it seemed to burn all the brighter with the rush of execution in his blood. His vigour was short lived, however.

He heard it before he saw it, the low moan of a solitary sea behemoth. Still caught in a knot of limbs and greenery, Manas could barely turn his head to try and see what he thought he had spotted earlier. The song echoed again before the world was turned sideways and the pair, both human and merfolk, were yanked off at a break neck pace. The whale had arrived unseen, groping these waves for food and settling on a vegetarian lunch. Evidently, it didn't care that there was a pair of still squirming animals on its seaweed. Swinging around, which had been when Manas had first seen it, the mammal came in with a run up and took a whole mouthful of the restorative weeds. The length of the foliage had been the only thing that saved Adeline and Manas. Tied up as they were, they now found themselves leashed to the mouth of the creature which lazily chewed through the plant matter. So fast and powerful was the hulking sea beast that the force of the water rushing against them was enough to press Manas down against the cheek of the whale. Every time he tried to lift himself up, he was working against the force of the ocean and was smacked back down.

The warm body of Adeline was close, still entangled with him by the weeds, and he waited helplessly for whatever fate in store. The only source of comfort was that, if the whale stayed submerged for long, he wouldn't have to worry about drowning her anymore. He had his knife, a way to free them both, but for now he was content to see where they were taken. It hadn't occurred to him that it was entirely the wrong way if he had wanted to head home.
M A N A S



"Which is why we don't go around throwing knives, do we?" Manas flashed a small grin to his younger brother, daring him to make a sarcastic remark whilst the merfolk still held his hands tightly across the kelp and seaweed bandage. To the youth's credit he had the decency to look disappointed in himself and shook his head glumly. Every member of the family had an assortment of tools to aid them in the jobs they were required to do about the home. Recently, Haltoi had been given his knife and it had taken all of a week for the first injury more serious than a slight cut. Manas had tasted the irony tang in the water before his brother had appeared at the entrance to his cell, having cut himself more times than he cared to count. Whilst Haltoi had been inconsolable at first, caught up in the pain of his wound and the shame of having done so to himself, it had been the work of a few minutes to suture the puckered wound shut. Wailing had summoned both their parents but, once they saw that Manas had it in hand, they had been happy to leave this life lesson to their responsible offspring and return to the other duties of life under the sea. A sticky, pulpy compress sealed the fresh injury from infection or taint and now the merfolk was cleaning up from his first aid.

"You don't think they'll take the knife off me, will they?" Haltoi asked, faltering with anxiety. He'd always possessed a nervous disposition and, having just received the prized blade, losing this sign of his maturity would be worse than any stabbing possible. Manas shook his head, reaching up to ruffle the short, emerald locks of his sibling.

"No, I do not think they will. You see here-" Manas lifted his arm, pointing to a pale zigzag scar just below his armpit. "I got caught in some fishing line. I was so scared I stuck myself whilst I was trying to cut myself out. In my panic I didn't even realise until I noticed the sharks following the trail through the water." Manas laughed, remembering the incident fondly, though Haltoi was wide eyed.

"Sharks! But, how did you get away?"

"Papa could smell it too, he swam out to find me and the two of us made it back in one piece. Then, I sat about where you are now and listened to the same lesson I just told you. Well, except mine was about looking where you stick a knife, not throwing it at rocks." A reminder of his accident brought a hint of violet to the cheeks of Haltoi when be blushed. "We'll change that dressing tomorrow and see how it looks but I'm hopeful, I reckon you'll keep the arm." The younger merfolk rolled his eyes, a degree of teenage petulance returning as Manas winked. When Haltoi left, propelling himself from the small room and into the larger tunnels of the caves they inhabited, Manas was left alone with his thoughts. That had been the last of his compress and he'd have to make some more. The thought didn't fill him with joy, given that it meant a fairly long swim into deeper waters to find the long, stringy seaweed that seemed to possess a natural healing ointment. His mother swore by its properties and she hadn't led her son astray yet. It had also been a number of days since his last venture to the surface and he could tell his body was beginning to crave the air. Whichever way he worded it, Manas would need to brave his own anxieties and leave the comfort and safety of his home. The thought was bothersome, like excessive baggage, and he cursed his physiology for requiring such small necessities as oxygen. There was plenty in the water, he thought, but apparently not enough.

A pouch on a strap was hooked around a hanger and he threw that over his shoulder, checking it was tied securely so that it wouldn't escape in the rush of the water as he swam. Next, a belt upon which hung most of his own tools was strapped around his midriff, just below the waist of his kilt. Well aware he had made the same foolish errors as Haltoi, Manas had grown up enough now to know the proper use of everything he carried. It was what kept him alive and, more importantly, how he helped keep their family flourishing. So long as Manas was around they would never need to worry about a thing, or so he resolved. Just as everybody in the home did. They pulled together in all things, especially when it mattered. Finally, in case hunger struck him, he stuffed a barma into his pocket. The spongy bar of roots and shellfish had been coiled tightly together and then left to cook next to a volcanic vent. It made a filling, if slightly smelly, meal. As prepared as he could be, Manas departed with a chirpy whistle, poking his head around doorways and down other passages to see if he could spy any of his family on his way out. Ostensibly, he was checking in to see if there was anything he could do. Only, he knew he was actually off putting the need head out. An awful, black cloud lingered over his shoulder and he had a terrible feeling that it had something to do with leaving.

Not so arrogant as to assume he had an oracular powers, he ignored the feeling as a simple anxious dread and swam quickly through the exit and into the brighter waters of the reef. Their home was a majestic complex of brightly coloured coral that intermingled kaleidoscopically around a central pillar of black rock. It was their mount under the waves and they had lived in it all of Manas' life. Deep enough to be immune from the impacts of storms or ships above but close enough to enjoy the refracted rays of sunlight, the place was as close to perfection as Manas could imagine. Alcoves and furrows in the knobbly coral were home to eels and other lithe, worm-like creatures that snaked through the water whilst schools of multicoloured fish circled like flocks of glittering birds. They didn't flee or disperse at the emergence of Manas, used to the presence of their erstwhile shepherds, which granted him an opportunity to pass a quick eye over the state of their homestead. A few of the shoals were larger than he remembered and, in the name of balance, might need shrinking. Manas would bring it up to his father when he returned, the thought of a fish supper almost made his mouth water. Not that you could tell, being submerged and all. Close to the seabed small plots of various flora were being nursed to bountiful yields and even now, no less than a month from harvest, they were blossoming with startling flowers that leaked nectar into one another and raising bulging fruits. Some of the plants appeared to be struggling, targeted by the locals for a tasty snack, and Manas added another reminder to inform his sister. She took great pride in her horticultural pursuits. She would not be best pleased by this punitive raid. Manas suspected the insidious sea snails, though that was a prejudice from the last time they had eaten through almost a quarter of their harvest. Some molluscs couldn't change their spots.

With little else to note, the merfolk turned towards the west and kicked his legs out, shooting through the aqua and off towards where he had last seen the thin vines he was after. Mottled patterns played through the swell and Manas paused now and again to peer up. It seemed the surface was choppy and through the break he spied the bloom of dark, angry clouds. Furthermore, harsh, kinetic rumbles seemed to make the waters around Manas tremble with force. A great wind was dragging waves into furore above him. Good, he thought, that should mean there wasn't anybody out to sea. All the sensible folk would be safely tucked up on land, only a fool would sail in this weather. Journeying west seemed to be taking the merfolk ahead of the storm as it advanced towards landfall. It was a race, Manas decided. Who would reach their destination first? Could the merfolk harvest his herb and take in the air, or would he be subjected to an awful shock as the storm inexorably marched on? The thought made him laugh, delighted by the sheer absurdity of the notion. It reminded him of being a child. With all that in mind, it didn't stop the merfolk kicking harder and driving himself on. Thin, papery lids closed around his eyes to protect them from the impact of debris in the water and he almost snarled in excitement. His blood was up, this was something to live for, and his wake was a whirl of bubbles.

When he finally caught a glimpse of his quarry Manas was almost dissapointed. He'd almost forgotten what it was like to swim freely in the wide expanse of the ocean. He had seen nothing else, likely due to the oncoming storm, which left him with the sensation of possessing a vast empire. A whole world at his feet. Heady stuff, he decided. There was a reason for this outing, however, and Manas was never one to forget his responsibilities. The seabed had fallen away long ago, lost in the murk and mire of the gloomy depths. Creatures lived down there that made his skin crawl, yet he had no need to find them. The plants he was after were kind enough to grow in skinny tendrils that rose hundreds of metres up to collect as much sun as possible, even when bedded where no light could pierce. For the next few minutes Manas swam amongst the pillar of greenery, using his knife to cut away bundles of the vine-like flora and stuff them into his pouch. Careful never to over-prune one spot, he ensured that his harvesting had no lasting impact on the health of the plant. He was just about done when he noticed a shadow pass overhead and looked up. A whale-like silhouette had momentarily blocked out the sun, pointed out towards the east and the direction Manas had swam from. The pointed nose, wide aft, and tapered sides were unmistakable as being of one of the ships the humans used to traverse the surface.

The appearance of the ship caused Manas to offer curses towards nobody in particular. There was no chance of him surfacing here then, resolving to simply avoid the humans and not even run the risk of being spotted. Right below the ship, hidden amongst the foliage, he was certain he couldn't be seen. Staying for a little longer they would pass on soon enough and then he could safely scarper to somewhere more secluded. Yet, even as he planned his escape, Manas was drawn towards the ship. The humans, whilst evil, were also utterly alien. Their world and their way of life was one that defied comprehension. Just as he had sought out the wonders of the deep, he wanted to know about the enigmas on the land. Momentarily, he was tempted to follow the humans. To find out what they were doing. Then, sanity prevailed and he returned to his original idea. The plan had taken seconds to formulate and Manas was already congratulating himself on his maturity when there was a muffled splosh from the side of the ship. Something had been dropped into the water. An anchor, perhaps? It swirled about, constellations of disturbed water circling the erratic motions, until it had righted itself and became very still. The edges had resolved into a round orb of darkness, growing in size as it descended towards him. He still had no idea what it could be and, curious at this newfangled technology, slunk up between the strands of plant. Lingering in the shadows like a thief. It was only when the shape had sunk far enough that the light allowed some semblance of detail that Manas realised his error.

He now knew why the thing had been so agitated before and why it had formed the shape it had. It was a woman, outfitted in some long dress that parachuted in the swell, who was quite still as she fell deeper into the abyss. Her hair was alive around her, floating like his did when he trod water. yet the details of her body passed him by almost entirely, so captured was he by her eyes. Almost certainly stung by the salt in the water, there was still flashes of them that caused his body to go rigid. This was a person. A real, living person. There was life behind those eyes and a story inside her head that she could tell. Part of him wanted to hear it, just to know what her voice sounded like. Then there were bubbles, fear, and shock; she was drowning. This wasn't the world of the humans and Manas was content with that. The existential danger of the humans was oddly numb when married to the sight of one slowly sinking to her doom.

These thoughts were a rush through the mind of the merfolk and left him almost stunned. Stunned enough to forget to hide. Steadily, gently, she drifted down to the point where their faces were perfectly level. A moment, caught for eternity in the mind. The discovery of the merfolk. The most tragic crime that could occur. She may have been drowning but it wasn't enough to think, Manas would have to make sure. He was calm, peaceful even, as the sight of the woman had stolen every sense except numb shock. Autonomously, gently, he reached out towards the woman. His body was thin, hairless, and almost iridescent. Obviously humanoid in design but lacking a humanity that clung in the spirit of every man and woman on the land. His fingers were deft and nimble, they worked the water in front of them as he sought to take the woman in his arms. Reaching towards her, desperate to drag her to the end.
M A N A S



|| NAME ||

Manas

|| AGE ||

29

|| GENDER ||

Cis male

|| SPECIES ||

Merfolk

|| BIO ||

Merfolk are a people steeped in kindness and love. Their rarity, atop the fact they live in such small clans, means that there isn’t time or space to exclude those that don’t conform. Survival is paramount and, over centuries, merfolk have learned that survival is made simplest through community. Manas is the second offspring of his parents and enjoyed even more love than his older sibling. He was raised to swim, sing, fish, draw, and even tell stories. Everybody took a turn to teach him something and, in return, he was a dutiful student. He happily curled up in the arms of his mother whilst she explained how to take the scales from their trawl, even when she had to pop the organs out. Other times he would swim far from his home with his father, mapping the seafloor and surroundings in his mind’s eye. Exploring the crevices and cliffs under the swell was a time of excitement and wonder at the scale of the underwater world they inhabited. Sometimes he was left alone, allowed to delve into the passages of learned people and progenitors to his gens. The lessons he remembered best were the horror stories of humans, however. Cruel, exploitative hunters that sooner exterminated life than tried to live with it; there was no greater demon to be feared than the people who came close to the merfolk. Survival depended on their never discovering his clan and, true to his family as anything, he knew he would be forced to do his part if ever they stumbled upon him. Despite having gils, merfolk required at least a short period of time a day above the water. It was when they were at their most vulnerable. These were the moments to be most wary and Manas still found the experience fraught with anxiety. He didn’t wish to imagine what might become of any merfolk caught in the nets of humans. It was best he never had to find out, and he had grown very careful with where he broke the surface. Perhaps, not careful enough however.

|| PERSONALITY ||

• Dutiful •
Manas was fortunate enough to be raised in a place of love and he takes his responsibilities to carry that forward very seriously. Once he had mastered some skill or talent he rushed to give his wisdom onto those younger than him. He always volunteered to help with raising his younger siblings and took his responsibilities seriously. Nothing was too big or too small and, if sometimes he needed help, he would always endeavour to succeed. Even now, with most of their family having grown to adulthood and the grim shadow of travelling to find partners, Manas had resigned himself to whatever it is his family requires of him. It is his duty and his duty ensures his family.

• Curious •
Manas has always been a sponge for information and new facts. Autodidactically educating himself with everything he could get his hands on lended itself to a calm, unsupposing demeanour that was more concerned with the content of conversation as opposed to its intent. Riling the merfolk was a challenge so long as there was yet more information to be extracted. This also was a danger, however. More often than he liked to remember his father had grabbed a hold of his scruff and pulled him from some odd current he had been trying to inspect closer. The sort that dragged a person down and never let go of them. Or crashed them into rocks.

• Irreverent •
There is no fanfare or pomp in the family of Manas. With a very small social circle and the ignominy of going through childhood in full view of everyone, nobody survives with their arrogance intact. Instead, teasing and playful banter abound to pop any ego that might have developed. Manas loved every one of his family but that didn’t mean he wasn’t going to remind his mother of the time she cut her own hair too short and came out looking a little like a puffer. Just as his younger brother continued to poke fun at the time Manas had been bitten by an eel he’d mistaken for the largest piece of seaweed he’d ever seen. They were as close as anything, especially as they were all very at peace with their flaws and errors.

• Introspective •
Living so close to others has left a hole in Manas’ life. A sense of privacy and his own being that is underdeveloped. Lacking a complete sense of individuality, he spends a great deal of time lost in his own thoughts and trying to consider how he should act, not just how any of his family might. He prefers to take these moments alone or at times when it might be rude to disturb him. Self doubt and anxiety over his identity has left him with a number of questions he feels he might never have an answer to. Sharing this with any of his family had earned some odd looks and he has since been sure to keep all kinds of observations about himself to himself. Better than worrying anyone unduly.

• Caring •
Compassion was taught to Manas from as soon as he could breathe. Even if the lesson was never explicitly explained, he saw kindness in everything his parents did. They swaddled him in love and understanding. When he fell they picked him up and when he succeeded they threw him onto their shoulders and cheered. The delight in being happy and making others happy came as naturally as learning to swim. Whether he was looking after his siblings, delving into a new reef, or even fishing one of the nearby shoals, Manus did everything with kindness at the forefront of his mind. Never destroy a home, never let a creature suffer, and always teach through compassion. Humans caused pain and created fear; Merfolk are not humans.
Damn I have this great idea for a revolutionary plot that you might like. Hit me up if you wanna write
When trying to ‘see the forest for the trees,’ you can’t see the forest when completely lost in the thick of it.





The days cooped up in the carriage hadn’t done wonders for the fitness of the hunter but, with the fresh air beginning to whip across his face and the scent of wild flowers swirling, Marcus felt alive in a way he hadn’t done so for a very long time. Trapped in the spires and towers of the bigger cities where clouds of smog choked the heart and soul of folk. Out here, amidst the wilds and nature that still hadn’t been corrupted by the Hierarchy there was an energy. The blood pumped gently as he fell into a steady rhythm jogging towards the winding trunks of the trees that rose before him. Stories suggested that eyes would constantly be watching him from under dark, shadowy boughs but he couldn’t see them. Either they were very good or they weren’t actually there.

Deeper and deeper Marcus ran, finding the latter explanation of no creatures to be ever more convincing. Strange, he reasoned, as the patchwork of trees was broken by the rutted and worn dirt tracks left by beasts. These made the journey somewhat easier. The thick jacket and hunting equipment protected him from whipping branches and long tangles of nettles that tried to rake his skin. Despite this he still struggled, however. He didn’t know the routes and paths of the forest and with his head lowered to the ground to try and follow any path that he might find, he wasn’t paying attention to obstructions ahead. He collided with trees more times than he cared to count and was just glad that none of the other hunters were around to see it.

Finally, he came to a small clearing and chuckled to himself. A tear of clothing was caught on the branches of some thorns and seemed to show faint prints leading towards one of the animal tracks. It made sense, he reasoned, that the witch would make for a quicker route and it meant he’d be able to avoid the worse of the rough foliage. The plan seemed so perfect, until the wrist companion chimed over and over to indicate a drone had found something. Loading the small camera feed, a little shaky image displayed a woman breaking from the cover of the forest and onto a field. The locator pinged a direction vastly different to the one the tracks led and he swore. He hated tricksy prey, they almost always weren’t worth the bounty they warranted. Still, he had a job to complete and dove back into the thickets and bracken.

The ping of the drone was the guidance he needed until it was gone. A loud boom not too far ahead coincided with the loss of the drone. Confused, he paused briefly to inspect the feed and noted the hand signal that preceded static. The witch was also dangerous, it seemed, and Marcus cursed the contract once more. She knew she had been spotted, now he needed to up the tempo and close the distance. Luckily, a hunt was everything he had trained for and his physical fitness was the strongest asset he had, next to some technological gadgetry. When the edge of the forest came into view sweat ran down the forehead of the hunter in thick beads and his hair stuck back against his skin. Blood pumped loudly in his ears but he knew he could, and would have to, go further yet. Breaking cover he stood on the edge of the field he had seen before and scanned the near distance.

It took two sweeps before he spotted the moving form of a figure ahead of him. She was close, but still so far away, and there was bound to be further tricks yet. He had to slow her down somehow. Initially, he broke back into a run. He couldn’t allow any further distance to be built between them. Secondly, he typed in a command to the two remaining drones to circle in on his position so he could dispatch them to monitor the witch from a distance he reckoned was safe. He knew if she made it to another patch of cover like a forest again he’d find everything more difficult and he wanted to head her off before she could make for the… the RamRails. Lines of them weren’t too far on the other side of the field and if she made it onto a rail he couldn’t do anything to stop her.

He didn’t have a rifle, he didn’t have a partner, he didn’t even have a friend in the tracks that might tell him the destination of the Rails she jumped on. He did have some explosives. Not much good for throwing from here but he had a few things that were faster. Reaching down he deposited two microgrenades into his palm and set the charges to detonate on impact. A drone was summoned a moment later and typing in further commands, he set it a single task. To fly up, over, and ahead of the target to drop the grenades. It was his hope the explosions would divert the witch off her trajectory enough that he could close the distance to within shouting distance.
And so the hunt begins...





Peeling paint and chipped wooden fencing spoke volumes to just how destitute this village had become under the rule of the Hierarchy. Everything seemed to be forlorn, lagging in the gentle breeze that came down from the hills on the other side of the lake. Moss and grass had wormed through the asphalt of the roads and people seemed to walk everywhere, making the asphalt itself redundant as it was. The stench of fishing clung to the air and gave everything a salty texture. The air, the people, and even the buildings seemed built to suit a single purpose and that purpose was fast fading. Yet they had the sun, and the fresh air! Marcus knew of people living in some of the new Common-Plexes who would never see or feel either ever again. Did these folk not realise just how lucky they were? Perhaps, he mused, it was hard to when for many of them they had probably known a better time.

Even so, the lack of homelessness was a delightful break from the poverty that clung to larger cities and Marcus made sure to offer a toothy grin to the inhabitants he passed. Most starred with unabashed intrigue, clearly strangers did not venture out here often, and he did not want to alert any of them to the quite serious reason for his arrival. There was nothing he could do about them taking a guess given the equipment he had thrown over his person and he spent far more of his attention scouring dark windows and creaking doors for anybody staring too hard. He was here to hunt a Wytch. The ones he had brought in before had all been manipulative, devious, and sly creatures; he knew to be on his guard in places like this. Turning down a lane that wound around a fairly large squarish house Marcus passed a grand public garden and whistled at its beauty. Winding creepers adorned old stonework that structured a maze of multicoloured flowers and the scent was overpowering, even with the wind blowing down and forcing folk into the collars of their coats.

She was here then.

It was entirely natural and absolutely not. There wasn’t a chance something was doing that to the place and Marcus knew it had to be whatever kind of powers the Wytch possessed. He had never been privy to such things or how they worked, he trusted in the reliability of science and technology, but he couldn’t deny these magics had some strength. It was why he subtly shifted and clicked the protective cover off of the holster where his gun remained stowed. Arounds the side of the garden he could see down a winding path to the lake. It sat quite still, a perfectly serene pool of glittering light that reflected from the sun. Boats had been pulled up onto the bank on one side and even from here Marcus could spy some figures going about the business of making them watertight again. His eyes shifted on quickly and he spied the blackened house. Perhaps an old fisherman’s house? Odd they hadn’t demolished it yet, but then Marcus was all too aware of official inertia and the time it took any government controlled place to do anything. Whistling a jaunty tune he made off down the track and kicked little piles of mud that had been pushed up by moles.

He was enjoying himself, he had no doubt, and Marcus was looking forward to a chance to clean his face and sit quietly for a brief moment. He felt freed from the prison of the RamRails. He could afford five minutes to himself. Moving the opposite way up the path a young boy came trotting back, big eyes watching Marcus as he passed. The older hunter gave the lad a nod and smiled but the boy remained totally stony, even stopping and moving out of the way. It was odd, as if the boy was accusing him of some crime but Marcus didn’t know which one. Nothing to do but press on and so Marcus just carried on his way and meandered down to the water before leaning down to cup the cool refreshing liquid and drink greedily from his hand. It wasn’t the cleanest water and the gritty bits of dirt reminded him not to have too much, but compared to the hydration pills it was better than ambrosia. Gulping a few more mouthfuls he then used another to wipe down the back of his neck before standing and looking around.

He came to look at the blackened building and he was overcome by intrigue. He was an adventurer at heart and a quick nose wouldn’t do any harm. Moving closer, Marcus got a better idea of just how decrepit this place was. It seemed to groan and almost shift in the breeze as if it might collapse at any moment. He would have to be careful. Climbing the stars to a landing and pushing at the cracked door he peered inside and froze. The door had fallen inwards and sitting in the middle of the soot coated communal space were all the signs of a squatter. Patches of dirt cleaned by the presence of a blanket or something, the remains of a dinner tucked into a basket, and the stench of someone living without indoor plumbing over the top of something far more… arcane. Marcus ran back from the house in a start. She had been here! She had to have been, and recently. His memory recalled the boy and he cursed. Clearly he’d missed someone running away from him.

But where had she gone? Back into the village was unlikely, but there were still many directions to go. She could have headed towards the fishermen, or up towards the hills, down into the forests… or even just out across the plains! Marcus cursed again, more loudly this time, and then drew four plate sized discs from the back of his belt. With a click he activated them and watched as the smaller drones whirred into life then lifted into the air. A dancing of fingers on his wrist companion sent them shooting into the sky and veering about to begin searching the area. It would be slower than he liked but the best he could manage. Even so, Marcus didn’t want to stand still and he weighed up the options. He didn’t know much about his quarry… except the garden! Plants. She must have done something to the plants. Breaking into a trot down towards the forest he hoped he was making the right call.
Bring us the girl, wipe away the debt...





A shudder in the RamRail caused a shift in the boxes that awoke Marcus from a dreamless slumber. He'd been perched atop the precarious cargo for the last few hours and getting much needed rest for as long as he could manage, each one was packed with sardine packed supplies for the peripheral village of the Hierarchy and, despite this, there was just enough room left in each to allow shifting that caused the stacks to be unstable. Not so much as to ever risk losing the contents, but then these sorts of freight had never meant to have civilian passengers and so they were a death sentence if Marcus had got caught between two in motion. Additionally, boxes did not need to see and so all the lightning had been turned off to conserve power and he was forced to rely on the dirty light that could penetrate the mottled shielding around the doors. He had been trapped in this space for the last few days, the routine buzzing of the chrono on his wrist kept him conscious of the date and time, but the stifling heat from the engine beneath him and the danger of crates meant the entire journey was feeling more like a jail sentence than a job. He hadn't expected first class or a motorcade, of course, but he had hoped his bosses wouldn't have been so cheap as to pack him away like equipment. Yet here he was.

Each box was stamped by the triangle pierced by a scroll of the Hierarchy and had stencilled into it the contents. All was probably quite inaccurate given the corruption of the bureaucracy - last calendar year there had been over six thousand executions in the finance department alone - and especially as Marcus had looted from one damaged crate a replacement grapple and line to replace the older model he had had. Stretching to the left with a crack, and then to the right, Marcus could barely himself think over the rattle of the carts on the rails and the buzz of generators directing power to whatever subsystems were meant to keep the place habitable to inanimate objects. They seemed to suck all of the moisture out of the air and replace it with an intolerable heat. Chapped lips were a worry of a past, replaced by genuine fear of dehydration followed by delirious gratitude to his Ma for teaching him to make hydration tablets on a shoe string budget. But even those were running out and they were no replacement for a cool glass of water. Marcus had heard there was a lake near the village and he fully intended to dunk his whole head under before he got to work looking for anyone whatsoever.

Skintails, rats that seemed to thrive on waste into nasty, brutish and wretched versions of themselves, occasionally became visible from the glimmer of their eyes but quickly darted back out of sight. At first a small gaggle had tried to nibble at Marcus whilst he slept, but the slash of his knife and a few shots quickly asserted his pre-eminence over the pack in the train. Now they were a helpful reminder of his fate if he failed this mission. The powers that be were never a forgiving sort and his was a long line of debts to payback for. Most not of his own creation, but then debt forgiveness upon the death of a parent had been rescinded long ago. Now, caught in the web of indebtedness and oaths, Marcus was looking for the final piece to unlock his lifelong puzzle. Suddenly, a screech of metal on metal broke his thoughts and Marcus ducked into a crevice built into a wall section and braced himself. The screeching got louder and then the train shook as a new cart rammed into the back and immediately joined the growing convoy of freight.

RamRail, so named for the technology that made it useful, functioned cheaply by having engines run twenty four seven up and down the lines, with stations collecting cargo along the route and firing full carts into the back, known as Ramming, to connect up and be carried along the line until disengaging and diverting off the rails to their destination. It was fully automated, apart from some mechanics and maintenance engineers, and had made some very influential people very wealthy. As the cart returned to normalcy Marcus pulled himself up and felt out where his boxes now lay before finding a new position to lay down and try to get more rest. It would do his back and head no good to enforce this much sleep, but the alternative was even more miserable. It would be another two days before the cart he had boarded disengaged and rolled into the RamRail depot for Brightlingsea. Loaders and porters deactivated the shielding and hauled the locking restraints back, only to wretch at the stench of of man who stepped out with a wide, if weary, grin. Coated in grime that had been kicked up in the cart and stuck to his sweat soaked body and carrying a bag filled with his waste from along the route he must have seemed like a homeless ghoul to even these brutes. But he still managed a chipper nod and then hopped down, moving between the confused faces, and marched off on his way to the village which stood a few stories high the other side of the depot.

His thick boots were steel capped and his clothes bulked to contain as much protection as he could afford, as well as conceal some of the more archeotech equipment he used to capture the very specific quarry that he hunted. Moving between the other carts being loaded and unloaded, Marcus hurled his waste behind one untouched structure for some unlucky soul to find and diverted for the gateway that led through the chain link topped with razorwire that acted as protection. One of the men on duty noticed him quickly and sniffed the air before his face split in disgust. "What the bloody hell are you, and why'd you stink? Homeless ain't allowed round here, how'd you get in?" Marcus noticed the worn Hierarchy overalls and the tremor of a drinking mans hand. This was hardly a patriot of the state.

"Got lost the other side of the rails, chum. Almost got taken out by the latest one coming in, just had time to dart over here before I was red paste on the tracks!"

"You get what you deserve wanderin' 'round the tracks like that." The man sniffed, scratching a particularly flaky patch of skin on his chin.

"Ah, but then one of you would be in the dog house until you cleaned up my brain matter. I feel I saved you a job, didn't I?"

"S'pose. Pretty well dressed for a bum, though. Where you from?"

"Oh, I travel about a bit. Find jobs wherever I can. Used to Sherriff up Routlidge way, that was until they closed the office." The employee kissed his teeth in sympathy of another stiffed worker and Marcus knew he was fine. ""So, you think I could get into town? I'd really like a drink and a lie down." There was a nod and Marcus thanked the man before moving around the arm of the barrier on the tarmac road into the depot and out into the short distance between the outermost buildings of the village and the depot proper. Spring had just arrived and the crisp autumnal air was receding in favour of warmer, but that hadn't kept the edge of a chill from nipping at the flesh and forcing people into coats. Marcus was once again thankful for his thick working gear, and practically ecstatic for the freshness as compared to the 3recyled air of the rail cart. Now, where abouts was that lake...
Marcus 'Janus' Waller

Hunter by trade, Marcus is employed to bring in - or down - targets who threaten the peace in the land. | 31
He was lowborn and raised, scrapping for everything he had until finding himself apprenticed as a hunter and now he thinks he's just found the witch to make his name famous to those who matter.


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