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3 yrs ago
Current I want to see things - that no one else can see

Bio

Current GM of World of Light. When it comes to writing, there's nothing I love more than imagination, engagement, and commitment. I'm always open to talk, suggestion, criticism, and collaboration. While I try to be as obliging, helpful, and courteous as possible, I have very little sympathy for ghosts and liars. Just be straightforward with me, alright? I know better than to take things personally or too seriously.

Looking for more personal details? I'm just some dude from the American south; software development is my job but games, writing, and helping others enjoy life are great joys. Been RPing for over a decade, so I know a thing or two, though I won't pretend to be an expert. Ready for some fun? Let's make something spectacular together.

Most Recent Posts

It looks like I haven't posted in a while. I don't know exactly what I should be expecting on the evacuation route, so maybe I should wait for the weekend update.
Tora & Poppi

Level 5 Tora - (13/50) EXP and Level 4 Poppi - (12/40) EXP
Location: Morgensloft Field, the Land of Adventure
Word Count: 436
@DracoLunaris@Stekkmen


Already winded from only a few moments' hard labor, Tora was glad for a distraction. He wiped his brow with a sigh, planted the butt of his scythe in the ground, and leaned on it as he replied. “Pyra is friend of Tora, and very beautypon, meh! Although, have eyes for only Rex-Rex, and actually almost never speak to me. One time, Tora tried to teach her how to be blushy-crushy, and didn't go so bad. Got shirt with her on it from somewhere, mehmeh, but don't remember where.” He leaned over slightly to whisper to Bowser, though it didn't come out very quiet. “Tora think Poppi hate it for some reason, meh!”

He didn't notice Poppi glaring at him until she spoke. “Tora awfully complimentary of Pyra all the time. Why never say such nice things about Poppi?”

The Nopon, avoiding her gaze, ran a contemplative wingfeather along his non-chin. “Er...Poppi very good at giving straightforward criticisms!”

Rolling her eyes, the artificial blade continued to harvest with her sickle. Her precise, mechanical motions were making short work of the labor, which suited Tora just fine. Tinkering over an exciting project for days on end didn't give him a second thought, but it appeared that even a short while of boring, manual labor left him fatigued. The pair, as well as Bowser and his son, continued working for a while until Tora -more interested in the scenery than the task at hand- spotted a figure entering the field. “Meh meh meh! Stranger alert!” When the newcomer grew closer, however, the Nopon recognized who it was despite a couple changes.

“Oh, it Centurion. Hello, friend,” he greeted. “Just in time to help wrap up wheat-gathering. With big arms, Tora sure friend could be super-helpypon!”

However, there came a rumble behind him. Poppi drew near, hauling a cart laden with wheat. It also held a number of other ingredients the group collected. She set it down and made a show of dusting her hands, saying, “Masterpon need not pass buck, job is pretty much done. Just one more from Bowser and we good to go.” She flexed her tired joints. “But maybe Bowser can pull cart. Once we finish dealing with village.”

Her words perked Tora up. “Meh? Poppi found village?”

She nodded. “On eastern side of field,” she explained, pointing. “There number of tall, thin houses. People too. Want to see?” The prospect piqued Tora's curiosity, but he felt tired enough already. The others could decide if they wanted to check this place out or take their haul home. He'd already forgotten about having to get meat.

Pelagic Lake

Location: the Land of Adventure
@MULTI_MEDIA_MAN@Gentlemanvaultboy@Stern Algorithm@TruthHurts22


Not a moment could be wasted. Din went on the offensive, capitalizing on most of the pelagics still being in the water by calling upon her Spell of Winter to freeze part of the lake's surface. While the cold annoyed the savage fishpeople more than it really hurt them, it severely impeded their movement, buying the youths a few critical seconds while her teammates raced to lend a hand. First on the scene came Geralt, whose Quen sign lent him protection as he loosed a crossbow bolt to dissuade Phoenix's foremost attacker. Before he knew it, several pelagics closed on him, threatening to gut him like a fish. He met them in a brutal melee, dispatching one with strength and precision only to find two more in its place. After witnessing the speed with which the Witcher killed one of their own, the two arrivals rushed him one after another, their cutlasses held high. The third turned its attention from Phoenix to wind up and hurl its spear at Geralt's back, intent on reeling him back with the harpoon's attached line.

However, Linkle entered the fray just then, needling over a dozen pelagics at once with her neverending crossbow bolts. The wounded one and the spear-thrower took the worst of it, both skewered by her projectiles and slumping into the half-frozen water. Her feat earned her some respect from Euden and Gran, embattled as they were, but too many pelagics stood on the bridge between them and the shore, and surely even with her archery skills one girl couldn't rescue the lost lawyer alone. If not for Din's efforts, they might have all been overwhelmed already, and these pelagics were no small fry. Any second now, they could still be overrun.

Seeing this, Euden chose to play the hero. Ignoring Linkle's request for a team jump, he took a deep breath. His eyes turned red, and swirling wind surrounded him as he unleashed his power. Into the air burst a huge green dragon, whose roar rang out across the lake. Once he had everyone's attention, he snarled, “HOLD TIGHT!” before beating his tremendous wings. Gran rushed to upend his sword and plunge it into the wooden walkway, and just in time. A wave of wind crashed over the bridge, knocking most of the pelagics back into the water.

The victory, however, proved short-lived. Just a moment later the dragon began to dissolve into ether, and with a strangled cry Euden plummeted toward the water. On the other side of the bridge, a loud CRACK resounded as a gnarled cestus broke the icy surface, and from the drink emerged a pelagic guardian onto the raft of the floating house.

Courier 6

Location: Coral Highlands, the Land of Adventure
@ProPro




With his companions at his side, the Courier could leave the remainder of the rocky foothills behind and enter the Coral Highlands. From moment one he could see that the whole place brimmed with life, and not just what non-radiated worlds would consider ordinary, either. Jellyfish bobbed through the air like balloons, and strange arthropods the size of crocodiles soared lazily through the sky. A great number of insects, amphibians, fanciful birds, and crabs inhabited the place as well. Though fascinating to watch, however, he did not find anything approximating the description he'd been given of a Wiggler.

That was, until he happened upon a lower area with some standing water. On the other side of the pool, a patch of sandy soil existed among the corals, and from this bank rose many long, noodle-shaped creatures with colorful eyes and flamboyant crests. Their appearance left no doubt that the Courier's Koopa ally had unwittingly deceived him; these were the Wigglers he was meant to find.

Aside from extending upward from their holes, they didn't do much until a noise from the coral underbrush grabbed their attention. A dark shape moved through the cover, advancing steadily until it emerged, and the afternoon sunlight shone off its gorgeous purple scales. While not too large, the monster was still heavy enough for its footfalls to shake the ground a touch. At its approach the Wigglers shrank down into their holes, fast as lightning. The Tzitzi-ya-ku, uninterested in the puny creatures, simply stalked by.

Nero

Location: Charnal Lane, Dead Zone


Dark Jak's onslaught against one Suffering plus Ratchet's bombs would have left Gene in the clear for when his God Hand wore off had one raging demon not remained, ready and willing to pound the martial artist into the dirt. Luckily, two guardian angels appeared just in the nick of time. A restored Blazermate swooped down from the perch where her Engineer assembled a sentry to pump her healing energy into Gene, while the not-so-familiar face of Kamek appeared from Blazermate's teleporter just in time to plant a hex on Gene that boosted him to Suffering size.

Meanwhile, the bear and bird lent their efforts to the demon hunter's rescue. Their mad Talon Trot brought them near enough to the Suffering while it whaled on Gene for Kazooie to leap up, putting Banjo in a spot to ensnare the beast in chains before cruising onward to help out Nero.

For its part, the demon did not take this development likely. With a guttural growl it started swinging, hurtling four muscle-packed arms at the man before it in a savage flurry. A couple seconds later it came around in a terrifying lariat, its arms cleaving through the air to crush flesh and shatter bone. At the end of the move it wheeled back out of the fight, kicking off the ground to fly through the air and land atop the mausoleum in the graveyard's center. In doing so, it yanked up the van partways, though the chains came off of it in the same jolt.

Gassed, it grabbed at nearby tomestones to hurl at the heroes indiscriminately. It threw two headstones before seizing a stone statue, breaking it into halves that it chucked one after another. The Suffering would have no doubt seized its own undead minions had Mr. Bones and Blazermate's sentry not been keeping their numbers down. With their efforts plus Ratchet and the others, there were few enough zombies that only the remaining Suffering stood out as a threat. In a situation like this, it could not threaten Nero without risking its own hide.

Thanks to Banjo's efforts and Donnie's continued help, Nero bellowed out the last of his strength and managed a final, powerful heave to bring the van up from the brink. He collapsed, hyperventilating, and Nico knelt beside him. “Hey! Y'alright there, champ?”

Wholly unable to speak, the demon hunter waved her off. He could still see the others, however, despite seeing stars, and he saw that the heroes had turned the tide. Jak's sacrifice, putting himself out of commission, had paved the way for a reversal of fortune that put the heroes in the right place to win the day. Still, they couldn't be too careful. Any complacence could lead to a sudden replenishment of enemy forces, or worse yet, getting made into mulch by the Suffering's mighty fists.
Artemisia

Merchant Row, Garleton


They were never ready. One Flux did the job, eliminating the thug on the spot. For a brief moment Artemisia bore a dry smile, but it vanished as she breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed, straightening up. Behind her, Trace dispensed with the other marauder. The whole fight lasted mere seconds, and by all accounts it seemed a decisive success. “Should have known better,” she muttered in memoriam before turning away. War would engulf this town in no time, so little effort could be spared for the dead.

Instead, she focused on the guardsman, wholly impressed by the others' efforts. “Not bad. Had my father warriors like you, ours would already be a household name.”

Artemisia gave him a confused look. “What?” Before she could get any closer, Trace accosted her, telling her to do what she'd already planned on. He offered her a vulnerary, at which point she opened her mouth to say 'I've already got one' before realizing that he meant it for the guard. “Uh, okay,” she replied instead. She moved away to offer the guardsman her shoulder to help him back into the thinning crowd bound for the castle. He resumed speaking, but Artemisia cut him off, knowing that could come later. “Let's just get out of here, mister.” She offered him the vulnerary given by Trace, and he accepted the medicine gladly. The two couldn't dally long given the spreading fire, and the dark mage doubted the city's attackers would stop at just one Resonant Flames.

Before pulling away, however, the Artemisia cast another look at her other new acquaintance, that obliging but lead-tongued spearman. His voice contained no inflection, but his face bore an offputting expression. She knew he knew about her vocation now. True, she didn't exactly bother keeping it a secret when the situation called for violence, but dark mages typically kept their status secret for a reason. What did he intend to do, she wondered. When he did speak, he voiced a desire to meet and talk with her again. Artemisia really didn't think she wanted to, since he didn't have much else to offer her, but what she said was, “I guess,” before disappearing into the flow of people heading to safety.

__________________________
Status: Disengaging
Class: Occultist
Inv: Vulnerary, Book of Secrets

Where is Merchant Row relative to the Western Street and the Castle?


I envisioned it being a side route off the main street to the castle. but its exact position is up to the GM's discretion.

I believe I'll wait to post until you do again, to give Trace the chance to act on his new knowledge about Artemisia and potentially cause some interaction before Artemisia skedaddles.
Malachi arrived at the rendezvous late, bearing a knapsack laden with sufficient goods to begin a journey. The look on his face suggested that he didn't want to see anyone here again at all, but the brawler had gone against his judgment and joined his coincidental companions one more time. Were anyone to chance upon them, he figured they'd make quite the scene together. While the others exchanged a few words and sentiments, Byron lent him a a hand once again by summing up. So, the little hellion wanted to go and slaughter some poor fools. That eager look on Sylphie's face cemented her status in his mind as a twisted, vicious killer. Sure, she bore some sort of divine power, but lots of people justified lots of things. Whoever was strongest in the end could say what was right and wrong.

With such a powerhouse around Malachi felt his help unnecessary and unwanted -no doubt the others saw him as a simpleton and brute- but he did feel like punching something. At the very least, he could get an idea of the murderous tyke's real ability, and maybe by knocking out a few thieves prevent all of them from being annihilated. Crooks and killers deserved punishment, of course, but paying evil unto evil constituted something other than justice. What Sylphie seemed to have in mind was excessive at best and bloodthirsty at worst. A monster who declared herself de facto innocent. Then again what did he, some meathead from the wilderness, know about right and wrong, and higher purposes? Best not to think about such things, and certainly not to act on them. After all, what chance might a poor lunk like him stand?

The musings more or less distracted him from the perturbing conversation between Izel and Sylphie, which he was thankful for. Whatever went on between them, he didn't need to know. After a sigh, Malachi spoke. "Guess I'll 'elp check it out. Folks in town seemed nice, shouldn't 'ave to put up with any trouble."
Tora & Poppi

Level 5 Tora - (12/50) EXP and Level 4 Poppi - (11/40) EXP
Location: Morgensloft Field, the Land of Adventure
Word Count: 461
@DracoLunaris


After scrounging for a good half hour and collecting whatever they could, the two teams reconvened to head south. It took only a minutes to step out from the dappled light filtering through tree branches into the radiance of the afternoon sun, shining down onto the rolling expanse of golden wheat ahead. “Wow-wow!” Tora cried in delight, and he and Poppi raced out into the wheat. For Tora, it came up past his head, so to the others it looked like a tuft of hair running amok in the grain. Poppi didn't share his frolicking laughter, but she looked plenty happy as she jogged after him. At the far end of the field stood a decrepit windmill and nearby homestead. In the afternoon sun it made for a picturesque view.

Seeing this, Poppi pointed and suggested, “Masterpon, let's try over there! If this like farms at home, there should be tools to make harvest easy.” Tora nodded his approval at the idea, having been wondering exactly how he'd gather wheat himself, and took off through the golden sea.

He exited the field onto the farmstead's perimeter and instantly tripped. “Meh!” He turned to look and found the corpse of a humanoid rat creature, dead as a doornail, and scrambled back in panic. “MEHMEH! Wait, what?” As he got up, he looked at the thing again in bafflement. “Tora thought all thing turn ashy-ashy when dead.”

Poppi exited the field as well, looking at the cadaver thoughtfully. “Hum. Poppi thought so too.” She glanced up at the distant, multicolored aura of Galeem, hovering high above the void in the continent's center. “Maybe that was there when world was made.”

Tora gave a shake of his head. “Why would big baddy do that?” His companion didn't answer, so he gave a shrug before heading back toward the farmhouse. This time he kept a close eye on the ground, and as he progressed he noticed piles of ashes here and there. “These...ashes? So things were killed here. Maybe by adventurers, meh.” That or, something else had slain adventurers. Shelving the thought, Tora moseyed up to the farmhouse and entered the open shed. Inside, true to Poppi's prediction, there hung a selection of farm tools from a rack. Tora, unfortunately, didn't know which to pick. “Meh, this one?” he asked, holding up a shovel.

In silence Poppi opted for a scythe. “Like this. Or sickle, the one curved likes rings of Nia. Catch lots of wheat in big cut.” When she received a curious look, she added, “Poppi lean lots about vegetables from Pyra.” Tora, however, wondered a lot more about whether or not any living rats remained in the farm. He suspected that once the crew started harvesting, they would find out before long.

Pelagic Lake

Location: the Land of Adventure
@MULTI_MEDIA_MAN@Gentlemanvaultboy@Stern Algorithm@TruthHurts22


The route taken by the trio, with the help of their assorted mounts, brought them steadily closer to their goal. Just one hiccup presented itself: a gargantuan ape resting atop a knoll, surveying its turf like some sort of lord. With it unmentioned in their quests, the three were held to no obligation to face it, and steered clear. They were correct to anticipate further conflict down the road, as could be seen the moment they topped a hill overlooking their destination. The lake, ringed by plantlife and home to a few interesting structures like the one floating atop its surface, would have been idyllic if not for the desperate battle unfolding before they eyes.

Marble-eyed monsters had risen from beneath the lake's rippling surface in droves, attacking another band of intruders in waves. Two, a couple of teenage wielding their own swords, fought well enough from atop the floating walkway but were grossly outnumbered. A third stranger, older and far less scrappy, had fled to the colorfully-roofed house on the water and tried the door, with no luck. Even now pelagics closed in on him, cruelly-barbed spears at the ready. These aquatic warriors clearly possessed both strength and intelligence, making them a formidable threat in those numbers. If the new arrivals did nothing, those already embattled would be overwhelmed.

The Centurion

Location: Lumbridge's Guildhall, the Land of Adventure
@Stekkmen


Agoston's request found the guildmarm in a bit of a state, sorting through contract cards and quest files as fast as she could, with predictable results. Still, the frazzled woman managed to piece herself together enough to indulge the man's request, inferring a bit on the side. “I take it you finished your quest then. I'll, uh, be sure to mark that down.” She heaved a sigh before brightening up again, as though she'd flicked some sort of psychic switch. “As for your friends, they took Miss Mina's ingredient quest. If I remember the details right, they'll probably be in either the forest to the east across a bit of plains or the fields south of that forest. Hurry and you can catch them in time to get quest credit!”

Courier 6

Location: Coral Highlands, the Land of Adventure
@ProPro


From a distance 6 could see that his hunt for wigglers brought him and his yellow-plumed steed on a crash course with the mountains forming the Land of Adventure's western border. As he drew nearer, however, he could see what appeared to be his real objective. Across a short span of rocky foothills, nestled cozily in the middle of the range, lay an extravagant zone of gigantic, unusual structures: the coral highlands. There, he would find the wigglers he sought.

Before he entered that lush, oceanic cliffscape however, the lowlands stood in his way. Luckily his long-legged new friend made short work of the uneven terrain. The inhabitants proved not so easily avoided. A gang of living bullets roamed the area, no doubt ranging from the bullet-shaped shacks on a nearby bluff. Though not excessive in number, each one of the keg-sized ne'er-do-wells sported a large handgun of his very own, and none cared too much to examine whatever caught their gaze before they started shooting.

Not far from where the ground grew moist and corals started to crop up among the weeds, a different sort of creature caught the Courier's eyes. A large, broad beast of stern stuff, the animal struggled against a couple of bullet bullies, who chuckled metallically as they dodge-rolled between cover and took potshots at it. So far the bullets' bullets appeared to be doing little damage, especially against the pokemon's back, but it already bore a number of shallow holes and cuts.

Nero

Location: Charnal Lane, Dead Zone


Ratchet and Jak's efforts held back the Swarm for a moment, but its dual commanders wasted no time in getting down and dirty. Even after getting batted aside by one of the Suffering as Dark Jak, Jak called upon the riotous power again to engage his nemesis head-on with an ally's kart as a weapon. His blow landed squarely on the big demon's shoulders, knocking loose a couple skulls, and the monster staggered back with a snarl. It wheeled about, using its arms in addition to its legs to pull itself around at high speed, and came at him with a four-fisted uppercut to send the empowered man flying.

Meanwhile, Donnie -having escaped from the van and taken a little weight off Nero's load- maneuvered himself atop his disk to help push from underneath. Trusting his allies to see to Nero's defense while he committed himself to rescue spoke volumes of his trust and courage, and he made sure not to waste this time. His own strength plus the persistent upward movement of his disk, which threatened to squash him between the vehicles, managed to start the van moving upward. Inside, Nico struggled to climb upward and out of the passenger door, now facing the sky. As much as she loathed to leave all her stuff behind, it wouldn't avail her much should the whole thing plummet with her inside, so she employed her muscles to get her out of the imperiled vehicle and onto solid ground. Getting there, however, meant little in terms of her overall safety. A whole array of monstrosities bore down on her, bent on sending the weaponsmith, her friend, and the van tumbling down.

Gene, however, rose to lend his strength to their defense. Having extricated himself from the van as well, he tore off the Deistic Brace to let the God Hand loose, and smashed through zombie after zombie. One man could only do so much, though, and Gene knew it. The Swarm moved at the Sufferings' command, directed to take the van down while ignoring the defenders if they could. He needed to get their attention.

His taunt's effect was immediate. A crowd of undead, though not all of them, turned on him while both Sufferings lent him their full attention. Brutal fists powered by packed demonic muscle converged on him, apt to pummel him into paste if not for the God Hand's invincibility.

Meanwhile, Blazermate had returned from her brief sojourn to a graveyard full of chaos. Her time fused with the Engineer gave her an instinctive understanding of what he needed to do, so she flew up to the building on the graveyard's left to give him a vantage point before returning to fix her healing beam on Gene. Any second now, after all, his God Hand would run out of juice, and the wisecracking fistfighter would be history. His gambit, however, gave the others the time they needed. Nero had almost pulled the van back up onto solid ground, needing just a few more seconds.

North of the fight, a skull poked above a gravestone. Its eyes, blue with red pupils, beheld everything going on across the way, and nothing about it pleased their owner. The skeleton held a hand to the side of his head, distraught. Whoever they were, those people needed help. But even though he wanted to, how could he? He'd already agreed to help the other skeleton, after all, and his beam could only do so much.

“whew. that looks rough.”

Mr. Bones looked over to see his acquaintance sitting on another tombstone. “you're not thinking of running over and being a hero, are you? call me bone-headed, but those chumps look like humans. they've been crushing zombies left and right. what d'you think they'll do to us?”

Bones ground his teeth. “I know, but... I can't jus' let folks be killed by monsters like that. It ain't right.”

His friend shrugged, smiling that smile of his, as though everything were a joke. “suit yourself.”

Having made up his mind, Bones stood up and charged down the graveyard toward the fight. From where they stood, the heroes glimpsed another enemy running their way, but the moment he arrived Bones cried out, “Here to help!” He held out a hand at a Swarm and unleashed a beam of blue lightning, destroying the undead on the spot. From his position behind the mob, he started lighting up small fry one after another, though he steered clear of the Sufferings.
Artemisia

Merchant Row, Garleton




The rush of battle got Artemisia's blood pumping, and things began to feel very clear. Her bow-wielding foe spotted her spell taking shape and called in backup before knowing another arrow. Neither seemed especially composed, talented, or well-equipped. Bandits, then. Not even the advance wave of the enemy force. In a way she felt disappointed, insulted even. At least this would be easy.

All the same, she did not feel comfortable taking the initiative, but it came in the form of a new arrival to the fight. Oh, he's here too. Followed me I'll bet. Trace appeared from behind Artemisia and her new knight friend, which made her realize that a third bandit could have stolen up on her with a back-stabber in hand just as easily. The spearman, however, was a welcome arrival, and he charged to clash with the axefighter head-on.

Their bout could be decided in a split second; if Trace thrust just right, he could pierce the vagabond's heart before he got close enough to swing. If he missed that pivotal chance, however, the brute power of the axe could easily split his lance's shaft in twain, followed shortly by the boring man's head. Artemisia, who knew none of these weapon-based intricacies, at the very least wished that Trace fought more adeptly than he conversed. Primarily, she wished that the both of them would get out of her way. Unlike arrows, weightless magic projectiles arced barely if at all, which meant she needed a clear shot at the archer to take him out. With the melee in the middle there wasn't much of a chance of that, and it would reflect poorly on her if she went with her first instinct to hurl her Flux at Trace and the bandit both.

Just a moment passed before the answer came to her. Artemisia thrust her hand outward, throwing the Flux at the ground to the left of the melee fighters. With a deep tone followed by caustic sputters, it burst into purple waves and large black particles. Into the haze Artemisia rushed, using it as cover while she prepared a second. When in position she raised her hand above her head and hurled the Flux at the archer, crying, “To pieces!” She aimed for the ground between his feet to catch him in the blast. Such a target made hitting almost guaranteed, though it'd be a miracle if it did lethal damage. With a little luck, though, it could cripple his ability to fight, and Artemisia liked the odds.

__________________________
Status: Attacking
Class: Occultist
Inv: Vulnerary, Book of Secrets
Artemisia

Army Encampment to Merchant Row, Garleton




True to Artemisia's prediction, Trace took her up on her offer, and within short order the pair embedded themselves in a local eatery to pass some time. In the period that followed, they broached a number of subjects, but seldom got deeper than the surface. While at the dark mage's prompting Trace gave up a couple stories about his mercenary past, which seemed fairly standard fair as far as Artemisia was concerned, he did not open up about anything further back or more interesting. That was fair, though, since neither did Artemisia. Whenever asked, she demonstrated a decisive refusal to share any details of her origins or goals, though that only seemed to pique Trace's curiosity. She did, however, opt to tell him that she sought someone with an incurable sickness and pink eyes. That reveal gradually led to Trace making a new offer, which Artemisia understood as a futile attempt to convince her to rethink mercenary work with him, but one that she accepted nonetheless: to spend the remainder of the evening among the armed forces, with Trace as her guide, to look for and inquire about her VIP.

That led to a less-than-pleasant romp through the army's turf over the course of the whole afternoon. While not always threatened, Artemisia managed to feel out of place the whole time, and even with Trace helping progress came slowly. Nobody seemed to know who she sought, nor did any soldier or squire bear the characteristics she watched for. She ended up in the castle barracks by the time Prince Alnard himself opted to give the recruits a rousing speech, thanks to Trace, who as an independent mercenary answered to that noble alone. The prince's word's rolled off her back like water across duck feathers. She harbored no intention whatsoever of fighting alongside him, let along dying with him. Important things remained for her to attend to—besides, she rather liked being alive, her comrades within the Coven, and most of all her dear father. As the mercenaries were dismissed, Artemisia found herself wondering where Solomon was now. The Wyvern Courier traveled far and wide, the breadth and beauty of the whole continent beneath him. With a smile, the dark mage remembered the last time he'd taken her up with him on that surly old drake of his. Flight was a glorious thing. If she'd been born in a city rather than the swamp, Artemisia wondered if she might have followed in his footsteps as a pegasus rider. Things would have been so much less complicated.

A short time later, as Artemisia put the finishing touches on a new entry in her Book of Secrets, the hairs on the back of her neck began to tingle. The air felt...charged. As in moments before a thunderstorm burst. Galvanized into action, she jotted down another line, snapped the diary shut, and stood up from where she sat against the outside of Trace's tent. Her baby blues scanned the night sky. Two seconds passed. Three. Four. The silver-haired woman furrowed her brow. Had she been imagining things...?

Then the starry heavens lit up with flame, and the entirety of Garleton shuddered like a stuck pig. “Whoa.” Artemisia steadied herself, watching as her vision filled with brilliant, hungry orange. The town was burning. She thought of jostling the tent and telling Trace to come out, but surely he heard and felt the blast for himself. The same thought scalded itself onto everyone's minds: they were under attack. All around, chaos had erupted. There weren't many citizens in this particular area to flat-out panic, but not all the soldiers kept their heads. For her part, Artemisia surveyed the tempest coolly, looking for an exit. “Resonant flames,” she explained to Trace with nonchalance. “The work of a large mage circle. I must confess myself impressed, though not so much that I shall hesitate in my withdrawal. Thank you for your help, Mr. Trace, but I believe it is time to depart.”

That proved easier said than done, however. Orders came in, as best she could tell, for the soldiers to help evacuate the citizens via the castle. Since evacuation sounded pretty good to Artemisia, and running willy-nilly through the city could very well lead her into the enemy force responsible for the fire strike, she allowed herself to be swept up by the current. That, however, turned out to be a bad idea. With her lack of size and athleticism, as well as her robes, keeping up with the stampeding civilians ended up being both difficult and hazardous. As the stream of humans rounded a corner to head up the main thoroughfare to the castle, Artemisia took a hard shove, tripped over the edge of her gown, and stumbled out of the crowd. She hit an abandoned horse cart head-on and dropped like a sack of flour. After rolling a couple times, she came to a stop, clutching her head as unbidden tears filled her eyes. “Ow ow ow, Gwyn damn it.” Despite her arching noggin she struggled to her feet, lurching in the wrong direction a short way before falling to her knees.

One of the soldiers tasked with evacuating noticed and left the crowd to jog her way down Merchant Row. “Miss? You alright? You're going the wrong way.” The man, with long blonde hair in a ponytail, wielded gauntlets and wore a concerned expression. With his green eyes on Artemisia he didn't notice the arrow sailing his way until it was too late. “Gah!” It sunk into his right thigh, provoking an agonized grunt. He staggered but avoided falling over as a few marauders came into view. Gritting his teeth, he raised his gauntlets into a ready stance, only to wince again as Artemisia used him for support to stand up again. In grim silence the woman held up her hands, surrounding them in purple energy and black particles. Whether he appreciated it or not, this fistfighter would be backed up by a practitioner of the dark arts. Whoever these aggressors were, they had no idea what they were in for.

__________________________
Status: Dazed, small, and ready to brawl
Class: Occultist
Inv: Vulnerary, Book of Secrets
New entry
This afternoon I spent perusing the area's armed forces. I expect ordinary soldiers would be loathe to have someone such as I in their midst, but I had the fortune of being vouched for and guided around by my new acquaintance, Trace. While our conversation at lunch did precious little to endear himself to me in terms of intrigue, the fellow is certainly proving himself obliging and useful. All the same, I fear today's end will mark the termination of our cooperation. I did manage to behold the prince himself, whose striking features have inspired me to learn more about his exploits come the next opportunity. Perhaps it is construable as indulgent, but I am sure time spent learning the tale of the royal family is not time misspent.

As I write now, I find certain sensations gnawing at me. A lick of magic haunts the air, tingling the mind and body. I am sure that something interesting is soon to happen.

Artemisia

Garleton




As the stranger leaped into his response, more than making up for his silence before, Artemisia listened with her brow furrowed and mouth just slightly open. All of a sudden, the man -Trace, it seemed- just wouldn't stop rambling on, and was he ever forthright. Not only did he appear unduly concerned with her wellbeing, but he made no bones about a potential arrangement being for his benefit, too. Artemisa appreciated honesty, but this Trace wasn't making a good case for himself. Of course the roads and towns would be perilous with a war brewing, but Wayfarers could handle themselves, even one not long down the path. In fact, Trace offered exactly the opposite of what the dark mage wanted—she needed to keep her distance from armies and battlefields, sticking to the shadows as she hunted her quarry in safety. Sure, travel meant new places, and the one she sought could be among the ranks of the Prince's army, but sticking with a company meant losing her agency. They would decide where she went, and if her target did not serve in the corps, leaving to continue her search would mean branding as a traitor. That was, if her status as dark mage or witch didn't get her stoned first.

Running over these considerations in her head, Artemisia came to a decision. As much as she wanted to pay back Trace's kindness, not a single definitive positive swam among the murky sea of negatives. The dark mage, now with something to build off of, gave her answer with confidence and finality. “I am unable to acquiesce. My prerogative is to remain as far from the armed forces as I'm able while I pursue my own endeavors. To be certain there are risks, but I assure you I am more than capable.” She reached up to remove her monocle, which she slipped into a discreet pocket. An opportunity lay before her, and a subtle air of mischief entered her eyes. “However, since we seem to be very forward today, I would not mind joining you for lunch as recompense for your aid.”

She looked at him sideways, a smile on her face. “Having labored in the medical ward for a while, I am less-than-ideally informed about recent happenings, and could use some conversation as well as sustenance. Furthermore, this plaza...” she eyed the crowd, watching a few interesting figures near the dancer, “Is fit to burst. If you remain eager to offer me protection, you can save me another round of bustling brutes and thieving fingers with a meal in a nearby tavern.” Surely this fellow harbored experiences more interesting than his looks, and while she took her mind off the melancholy of the clinic with someone's story, she could also comb him for potential leads. As a loner herself, she figured that this Trace, quite possibly attention-starved given his nervousness and obvious discomfort talking to a woman, wouldn't possibly decline.

__________________________
Status: Decisive
Class: Occultist
Inv: Vulnerary, Book of Secrets
I was planning on waiting for Flood to post before posting again. But, I have this feeling that I might not get the chance to escape the awkward moment... or even make it worse, if I don't post in the next day or so.

Any thoughts?


I myself would advise posting sooner rather than later. There's a decent amount of conversation that could happen and a move-on from Sho could come any time following the arrival of the person he's waiting on.
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