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my bio was a bit too long so I trimmed it down so it's not that extra anymore woo
About Me

Don't listen to what my profile says, I haven't been here for five years (or whatever it says). I actually 'joined' on 19th Feb 2015, which makes it four years.

anyways I'm scared of people but I like role-playing so hmu and I'll try not to be too incompetent

Eh. Most things are fine. Smut and slash still not my taste tho.

I leave my computer on in the middle of making a post so I can return to it when I'm done with other priorities, so if you see me online, I'm most likely not. Also a Muslim. Think that's about it. Beep boop nuggets.

Most Recent Posts

In Ex Nihilo 2 days ago Forum: 1x1 Roleplay
TW: A poorly-written fight scene.

Jack. One syllable. It was its simpleness that stood out to Cheryl, more than its unusual nature. Names like that weren't common in Nihilo - it was possible that he was using an alias.

'You will bring the outworlder.'

Or not. Either that kind of name was common from whatever shithole place he'd crawled out of or his actual name was weirder and he was attempting to use a version that people could actually pronounce. Come to think of it, if Jack really was from another world, didn't that make him an alien? It wasn't far-fetched, considering what she knew about the antarean dragons. Still... the concept was strange to think about it.

'Forget it. I can worry about it in the morning.'

Naturally, the universe decided to spit in her face as soon as the thought came. A wave of magic-no, not magic, magic didn't feel like this, what was this power-crashed through her and she stiffened, halting her steps. She barely managed to suppress her shudder, if only because of her muscles locking up, instinct telling her to get the flame away from whatever the hell-behind her-


Without an inch of hesitation, she twisted around on her heel, unsheathed her knife, and stopped its tip a centimetre before it could pierce Jack's throat.

'You listen carefully,' she growled. Piper, shifting a little at the movement, only wrapped his tail around her neck, chuffing softly in his sleep. 'I don't give a flying flame what the deal is with your strange magic, but if you don't get it under control and you hurt one of us, I'm taking off your flaming head. So get it under control.' Then, because she felt like it, 'Dipmeat.'

Whether Jack responded or not, Cheryl paid him no more mind. She turned back towards the stable, shoving her knife back into its sheath. She didn't stomp - that wasted energy and she was far too tired for that. Her steps were brisk, considerably speedier than they had been before her outburst. Anger, frustration; these were better fuel for energy than any amount of jump juice could be.

As she approached a particular stall, however, her frustration melted away somewhat. Guinea hissed, a sound that sounded like a cross between a spit and something coming out of her throat - her means of a friendly greeting.

Guinea was a horse of... remarkable build. Her skin - indeed, her body featured no coat - was a dusty grey in the moonlight's pale light and the only hair she had stuck up in haphazard, clumped tufts of mane that stretched halfway down her neck and drooped sadly along the tip of her tail. A horn curved up from her forehead, rings of tiny little spikes peeking out along the way, and met a pointy end. A set of two smaller horns jutted out on each of her cheeks, though they pointed to the front instead of the sides, a slight outward bend to them. Her cloven hooves featured a similar bend. Her eyes seemed sunken, almost pupils in their entirety. However, a closer look would show that she indeed had sclera; the sunken appearance was an affect of dim lighting. Her most prominent feature was her mouth. Her teeth reached forward, incisors serving as her lips whenever she closed her mouth.

Overall, the immediate image she might give a person at a passing glance was a drowned rat in the form of a horse.

Cheryl closed in, within perfect distance of having her head bitten off by those incisors.

'How you doing, Guinea?' she said, patting Guinea idly along her neck. Guinea opened her mouth, strands of saliva stretching wide between her teeth with some drops dribbling over, and let out another hissing gargle. Cheryl looked up at the sound of a distant inhuman shriek, her gaze sparing the distance a second before settling on Jack's face. Upon spotting his expression, she smirked.

'Welcome to Nihilo, stranger,' she said. 'Just another Tosus night for us murderers.' She checked the saddle, her sparse belongings - never could be too sure, considering her reputation. 'You ridden a horse before, Jack?'

πŸ„΄πŸ„½πŸ…ƒπŸ„΄πŸ… πŸ…ƒπŸ„·πŸ„΄ πŸ„ΎπŸ…„πŸ…ƒπŸ…‚πŸ„ΈπŸ„³πŸ„΄πŸ…

By the side of the grimy road leading to Sonarlis, a child appeared. There was no dramatic flash of magic or mystical sounds. She simply appeared, stumbling a couple steps forward as if touching down from a jump and having the inertia of it pushing her forward. Her legs folded and she sat on her knees with a thump, her stricken gaze pinned to the dirt.

'Hhh, hhh.'

Judging from appearance alone, the girl seemed to be around 11 or 12 years of age. Dark, unruly locks spilled around her shoulders, their length reaching the middle of her back. She wore a loose orange t-shirt with sleeves ending in the middle of her upper arms. Beneath those sleeves, another set of dark brown sleeves creeped out, hugging her arms as they disappeared into the space beneath her black leather gloves. Grey loose cotton pants and a pair of scuffed sneakers completed the look.


Her gloved hands were tight fists on her lap and her teeth clenched so hard, they creaked.

'You coward.'

She lifted her fist and slammed it down into the dirt - an impulsive action. Ignoring the pain, she growled, closed her eyes, then huffed a sigh. It was so easy, acting on anger, but so tiring. Still, most other negative, less aggressive, emotions were pests she could hardly be bothered to deal with. Anger was familiar, comfortable. Invulnerable, in a way.

Anyway, she was here now, wherever "here" was. All she knew was that she'd stepped into a dimension that wasn't the one she'd just run away from.

'Can I even call that running? I didn't step into the place.' She got up, dusting off her pants. 'Whatever. Far as I'm concerned, there's no reason I can't stay here a bit. Can't be that different from all the rest.' So long as they got the good stuff, she was right at home.

'Let's see...' she said aloud, peering at the nearest sign - a huge board held up by two posts, letters scratched into it. 'Sonarlis, huh? Tiny town but...' The Desires she sensed there ranged from wanting to get a gosh darn good night's sleep for once to wanting to go home to the most important Desire of all: getting wasted.

'...Heh.' Grinning, she set off. As she crossed the bridge and wandered into the village, leaving the sound of burbling water behind her, she couldn't help a glance at the night sky and let out a low whistle. 'Three moons... this planet must be pretty out of whack.' Noises that were distinctly un-horse-like came from what she assumed was the stables; she ignored them. Not a boring one, then, this place. Seemed a little low-tech but she could survive without phones and computers. So long as this wasn't one of those drab places with powerless little humans living out the same day-to-day lives, she could work with it.

Almost before she could finish her thought, a surge of power caught her off-guard and she took a step back, raising her eyebrows. It wasn't overwhelming but she had a feeling that had she been closer to its source, it would have been. Then the screaming started - some brat making demands, it sounded like. Poking her head round the corner, she managed to snatch a brief glimpse of the whirlwind on the cobblestone path before it fell away into nothing. Something glowy faded but she had been too focussed on the whirlwind to notice what. The little group of people exchanged a few more words, then one of them stalked away. Her gaze darted up to the mouldy sign hanging by the top of the door, lit by a weak, flickering torch. It read "Blackgale"... she squinted. Blackgale what? Blackgale something. The word next to it was a jumbled mass of letters. Narbeta? Was that a part of the name?

It didn't matter. She could sense the same Desires to get wasted emanating from in there, along with a quieter one wanting the people to go home so he could close up already. Whatever its name, it wasn't hard to guess what the place was meant to be.

She rounded the corner, her pace brisk.

'Move, dunderheads,' she muttered, shoving past the two still standing at the entrance of the bar. Why were they there in the first place? Wasn't like that kid could drink.

The stench of the bar hit her and she waved a hand in front of her nose. 'Smells like someone took a shit. Loads of it.' The floor was full of suspicious muck and stains. Scattered hay covered it but it was hardly a luxurious carpet. She set herself down on a stool by the bar, earning a tired, if not slightly amused glance from the bartender. He seemed to be middle-aged, the beginnings of crow's feet around his eyes and looking like he hadn't shaved in a week. She opened her mouth, but before she could speak, the bartender started first.

Opedta tieperdid, suluchir. Boch nurl est tibithi.'

Not English-speaking. Just her luck. But if his tone hadn't conveyed his message, then his Desire sure as hell did. She sighed.

Then she reached back, drew in some Desire, and formed a knife in her hand. Nothing fancy, just a handle and a blade put together, every inch of it completely red. In that same swift movement, she flung her hand forward and let go. The bartender stumbled back with a yelp, but his worry was unneeded - the knife flew past his face and embedded itself into the wall with a dull thunk. His gaze flickered between her and the knife uncertainly, before settling on her. The knife disappeared. There was no vanishing into haze or melting into mist; it was there and then it wasn't.

'Don't call me a kid, you clogged-up toilet bowl. Just get me a drink-' She stuck a thumbs up then jerked her thumb towards her mouth, miming drinking. '-preferably something that hits strong, yeah?' This she emphasised with slamming her fist into her hand and then almost immediately realised how the action could have been taken the wrong way.

Judging from the way the bartender's eyebrows had furrowed into a V, that was precisely the way he took it. The next thing she knew, he'd reached under the bar, taken out a freaking mace, and screamed:


She ducked back as he swung the mace down, the metal crunching into the wooden bar. Stumbling off the stool, she glanced back as the rest of the bar's half-drunk patrons cheered vehemently (for her blood, show us her blood). A group of four-no, five from various tables were rising from their seats, each drawing a weapon of their own - knives and swords seemed to be the usual. Three were swaying slightly, but two appeared stable on their feet.

'Six against one? Now that's just a little unfair, ain't it?' The telltale song of Desire had her sidestepping, dodging the mace that would have smashed into her skull where she'd been a moment ago. The bartender had crossed the bar at some point - whether he'd leaped over it or walked around, she didn't particularly care. In that same movement, she sucked in more Desire, maximising her body's strength. A long-practised action; it was unbelievable how much power kid protagonists could have in some dimensions. She loved the look on their faces when she replicated their strength to-

Her breath hitched.


The bartender seized the chance to swing his mace into her direction again. She swiftly stepped into his range, closer, and blocked the mace with her arm. The thick wooden handle jarred against her flesh. Unfazed, she grabbed hold of its handle and then swung her fist at what she hoped was his solar plexus. Considering how he promptly doubled over with a wheeze, she'd guessed right. 'Yay human anatomy.' Snatching the mace out of his weakened grip, she flipped it around and promptly swung upwards, bashing him in the face and knocking him backwards to the ground.

Adjusting her grip on the mace, she turned to face the other patrons. How cute, them with their pointy weapons and reddening faces.

'Unfair for you, that is,' she continued with a toothy grin. 'Bring it!'

Erised was her name and she was about to whoop all these clowns' asses.

Location | The campgrounds on Red Rock Canyon
Interacting with | Sami @BrutalBx, Rando hitchhiker @BeastofDestiny, Emi @NeoAJ, Umbra @Severance, Val @Dirty Pretty Lies, Jules @Vox, Nate @spooner
Mentions | Matt @Legion02, AJ @TootsiePop


β™ͺ In the gallows or the ghetto,
In the town or the meadow. β™ͺ

Relentless was the summer heat - they hadn't felt much of it during the ride either due to the air-conditioned interiors for the enclosed cars or, in Kim's case, the wind whipping by Matt's hoodless ride. Trudging up the canyon, though? Whole other story. Despite this, Kim hadn't minded it much. The warmth of the sun against her back was no more different than the times it beat down on her in her leisure hikes with Jules. She only wished she could've changed into clothes more suitable for the hike, but they'd been left in her suitcase, which was under her bunk bed on Sami's RV, which now sat somewhere in Victorville.

The ride here had been uneventful. Matt had been gracious enough to let Kim to hitch a ride in his car. Kim had no interest in cars and no substantial knowledge about them for her opinion to hold any real weight, but the sleek design of Matt's car was definitely something she could appreciate.

Then Matt stepped on the gas pedal and Kim was dearly glad for the seatbelt habit her mum had drilled into her all her life. Good God, how had Matt gotten his driving license?! That was not a safe way to drive! Still, as the car sped by the minutes, the landscape all but a blur, her shock faded and a burst of laughter escaped her. Too focussed on beating the devil's speed limit, Matt was hardly good company for small talk - but then again, neither was Kim most times. With adrenaline in her veins and her mind abuzz, she relaxed in her seat and let the wind and the music take her.

β™ͺ In the billows, even over the sun,
Every end of a time is another begun. β™ͺ

That was then. Now, the air sat still around her, her hair more or less a bird's nest from the wind's earlier tousling, and she stared back at the glare of her phone. Her fingers tapped against its back, though they didn't follow along with the beat of the song playing in her ears. A tuneless tapping, with only frustration in their movements.

At least she had her messenger bag. Slightly sticky in her hand was the leftover crumpled packaging of the Mars bar, which she'd eaten in Matt's car. It had been a little melted - Matt must've been hanging onto it for a while. Her earbuds were back on and even now, sitting round the campfire, she made no move to remove them.

She'd kept her parents updated, as they'd made her promise to in exchange for letting her go on this trip. Needless to say, her mum was worried, especially with how things were at the moment. Asking if she was fine, if the tow truck service she'd gotten was trustworthy, if the road trip had been a good idea at all. The usual questioning.

Why didn't you take your suitcase with you?

You should've checked the tow truck service reviews. Who knows what they could do with your things?

Do you need us to come fetch you?

The last message stared back at her, a silent accusation. Kim's expression was one of flippancy, schooled neutral boredom which she'd achieved through years of practice. Yet, instead of typing out a message, her fingers continued to tap their tuneless beat on the back of her phone.

This was ridiculous. Her mum was just worried. Kim shouldn't be worked up about this. No-what was she saying? She wasn't worked up about this.

β™ͺ You understand, mechanical hands are the ruler of everything. β™ͺ

The sound of Sami's voice had her looking up, placing her phone screen-down on her lap. She smirked at his enthusiasm, an expression that leaned towards bewilderment at AJ's disgruntled follow-up offer. Even if such a place seemed like a spare bedroom to him, it was a generous, unnecessary offer. She opened her mouth to thank AJ, but the subsequent arrival of a... hitchhiker, she should say, stayed the words. She closed her mouth, eyeing the stranger during the brief conversation between him and AJ.

β™ͺ Ruler of everything. β™ͺ

Then AJ walked off, leaving the Gearheads, the Misfits, and one random dude sitting together around the campfire. Kim lifted a hand in greeting to the hitchhiker. Then she took up her phone, firing off a quick text to her mum.

Nah. Don't worry abt it.

Locking her phone, she shoved it back into her messenger bag. It was easier to ignore any forthcoming notifications when she didn't have it vibrating in her back pant pocket.

'So how about it?' she asked, glancing around the others. 'The Bellagio?'

β™ͺ I'm the ruler of everything in the end. β™ͺ
In Ex Nihilo 1 mo ago Forum: 1x1 Roleplay

'-And don’t worry, my little friend, I don’t know exactly what’s spooked you, but stick with me and I won’t let you get hurt. We good?'

Piper might like Jack, but he was still a dragon and no matter his size, he was no hatchling. He sniffed, turning his nose up at Jack as he fetched the coin he'd left on the table.

'I appreciate that, but I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself.' Despite the statement, he wordlessly accepted Jack's offer of a shoulder ride. Slinking around his neck, Piper stepped onto Jack's right shoulder, then shook himself. He started picking at his canine teeth; there was a splinter of bone wedged somewhere in there.

At Jack's request, he said nothing. As long as Jack did nothing short of actually harming Cheryl, Piper wasn't interested. Actually, Cheryl might be pissed if he did do anything to help, so he was better off not doing anything at all. So when Cheryl came into view, exhaustion apparent in every step, his only frustration was the stupid bone wedged in his teeth.

The only reason Cheryl hadn't straight-up punched the prick when turning around was the bundle of white on his shoulders. Her heart thudding, she took a step back, lowering her fists. God, she must really be out of it if she was letting that dancing fool, of all people, to sneak up on her.

'It's-' was all she managed to say before Stranger shot off a tirade of words towards her. Her expression couldn't decide if it wanted to be annoyed, tired, or disbelief at how much meat the world wanted to fling on her tonight, and ultimately decided to remain unchanged through it all. By the time Stranger finished, her hands were by her side, relaxed. Despite this, she was all too aware of the hilt of her knife brushing against her forearm. She exhaled. Then her gaze shifted towards Piper and she lifted an eyebrow. He stopped picking at his teeth, white pupils darting back at her.

It's true-' he started, then stopped when her eyebrow dropped back down in exasperation. 'Oh. Sorry.' With a flap of his wings and a push against Jack's shoulder, Piper settled back down on Cheryl's, handing her the unused silver coin before curling himself around the back of her neck. Cheryl returned her gaze to Stranger, stuffing the coin into her pocket as she pondered. Honestly? She had only one conclusion.

'This idiot has no clue what he's doing.'

Really? Of all the people in the entire village, he decided that a bounty hunter - one who was assigned to bring him in, no less - was the most fit person to help him out? Really? It was like the universe wanted to stick them together. She was trying to do him a favour by avoiding him, but apparently she was the ungrateful one here!

'Flaming-fine. Fine. You want me to bring him in? You got it. He's more than eager to walk himself to your damned doorstep, anyway.'

She was too flaming tired for any more of this meat. If he was going to keep turning up like a rusty coin, then she might as well guide him or whatever that damned cloaked figure wanted her to do. She'd tried to be nice, tried to distance herself, but sure, let's bother the bounty hunter who'd just gotten framed for a murder she actually didn't do for once and was going to be executed for after doing the monarchy's damn dirty work for years!

She took a breath.

'You talk too damn much. Learn to summarise.' She turned away, shoving her hands into her pockets. 'And give your daughter some credit. If you want to find her alive, you better stop believing all that alone and scared crap.'

Derisive cackles. Small, thin, yet precise hands. Hunger. It lay gnawing at her belly, in her eyes, and they could see it, they could all see it, but no help was coming. No help ever came. Surrounded by people, but still by herself. She was alone.

But she wasn't afraid.

Deep in her pockets, her hands clenched into tight fists, odds and ends rubbing against her skin. Ah yes, the night had already all but gone to hell, why not add in bringing up old memories that had no business revisiting her? She was doing fine, more than fine, she hadn't been, wasn't like that anymore. Was stronger than that pathetic, skinny twig.

'Flaming idiot. Stop thinking about it.'

At least Stranger wasn't a shitty dad. He had that going for him.

She yawned as she set off, her teeth clacking together as her mouth snapped shut. The stables were just up ahead, a little over to the right of the town's southern entrance - a crumbling stone bridge built over the river. Soft rumbles wandered into her right ear. Piper had fallen asleep, snuggled up against her neck. Without looking back, she spoke up.

'You got a name or do I have to keep calling you Stranger in my head?'

𝔒𝔫 𝔱π”₯𝔒 𝔬𝔱π”₯𝔒𝔯 𝔰𝔦𝔑𝔒 𝔬𝔣 π”–π”¬π”«π”žπ”―π”©π”¦π”°...

At the edge of a graveyard, a young boy was digging a grave.

He'd been at it for a while, if the depth of the grave was any indication. The cool night air did nothing for the sweat beading at his temple, dripping down the side of his face. Another grunt, another shove, and the cycle of dirt being flung out of the ground continued.

'Well, you've been working hard.' The boy paused, the end of his shovel scraping harshly against the dirt. He looked up at the curly-haired man standing behind him, peering down at the freshly dug grave.

'Is it deep enough?' asked the boy.

'For a grave?' said the man. The boy nodded, eagerly expectant. 'No.'

The boy scowled. Without bothering with a response, he lifted the shovel again.

'Put that away, kid. Let me help out.'

'I can do it.'


'I can do it!'

A hand landed on the boy's shoulder and he flinched. He bowed his head.

'I have to do it,' he whispered, 'I failed her.'

'Doesn't mean you have to tire yourself out doing a job meant for four able-bodied, trained men.' The man patted the boy's shoulders. 'Put the shovel away.'

Defeated, the boy nodded. He stepped aside, letting the shovel drop to the ground. The man reached within his cloak, his fingertips pressing against a smooth, cold surface. His other hand reached towards the half-dug grave, clenched into a fist.

'I call on your power in my time of aid,' he muttered, 'help me do what requires more than the strength I possess. With the strength of Earth-' His fist flicked open, spreading his fingers. Visible in the pale moonlight, wisps of purple, tinted with brown, escaped his skin, focussed streams slipping off his fingers. 'Move.'

As if pushed down by some invisible force, the grave sunk deep into the appropriate depth. Beside it, the mound of earth the boy had dug up rose, as if something had expanded within it and was pushing out. The man drew his hand out from his cloak, clapping his hands to dust off dirt that wasn't there.

'Now,' he said, turning to the gaping boy, 'let's put her in, shall we?'

There wasn't much ceremony to it. They buried her, the boy had his moment, and soon, the man and the boy were off. The man didn't look at the boy, even when he heard sniffling beside him. The path they walked was tucked behind a line of buildings. On their other side, the greenery thickened into a group of trees and the ground sloped upwards. Not far beyond the trees, it steeped into the mountain the town was backed against.

'Where are-' said the boy. His voice was rough. He cleared his throat. Then tried again. 'Where are we going?'

'Like I told you. To get justice for your mother,' said the man.

'But where are we going?'

'To my carriage.'

'You have a carriage?' A pause. 'Are you rich?'

'Me? Not on your life!' the man chuckled. 'I'm just a humble man, looking for his humble earnings.'

'But you know magic.'

'Doesn't make me any less humble.'

The boy sounded like he didn't agree with that, but he didn't argue and the man didn't push his point. They lapsed back into silence. A minute later, the boy spoke again.

'You know my name,' the boy said, a minute later. The man nodded, though it was lost in the darkness. Tristan, son of the late Elena. 'The beginnings of a tragic history.' Not much different than most people's backgrounds, really. This world was harsh to the young, unforgiving to the naive, and utterly shitty to the innocent. The poor struggled, the rich pretended to struggle, and the dragons were callous in the face of it all. Survival required more than toughness. It demanded sacrifice. Not much. Just a piece of yourself that you'd never regain, tossed into the hungry mouth of this cruel world.

Not much at all.

'What about it?'

'Tell me yours,' said Tristan.



'That's my name.'

'That's a weird name.'

'Your face is weird,' said Bob. Light flickered in the distance and the silhouette of a carriage stood out from the shadows. He grinned. 'Don't worry, kid. You'll see justice served soon enough.'

They reached the carriage and Tristan stared at the cloaked carriage driver. He shifted his feet, teeth worrying his bottom lip.

'Tristan,' said Bob. He knelt down, meeting the boy's eyes. 'Do you trust me?'

Tristan stared back at him, wide eyes glistening in the firelight. He glanced away.

'I miss Mum,' he said.

'I know.' Bob sighed. 'Tristan, I know we haven't known each other long, but I've done nothing but help you, right?' Tristan nodded. 'Then trust me. My friends in the carriage will take care of you.'

Realisation bloomed in Tristan's eyes. 'You're not coming?'

'I have other things to do. Important things that all have to do with catching your mother's murderer.' At Tristan's protests, Bob placed his hands on the boy's shoulders, gripping them tightly. 'Please, Tristan. You have to be brave. If not for me, then for her.'

Tristan fell silent, his lips pressing into a thin line.

'Okay,' he said, his voice small. 'I'll go.'

'Good.' Bob reached up, ruffling the boy's hair. 'I'll see you around, yeah?'

Tristan nodded. He started to turn, hesitated, then seemed to steel himself. Bob watched as Tristan climbed into the carriage, then rose to his feet. He glanced at the driver and nodded. The carriage went off into the night, its torches lighting its way. Left alone in the moonlight, a sigh escaped Bob's lips.

'Lying to kids,' he muttered. He shook his head, a smirk colouring his lips. 'You're the worst, "Bob".'

As easily as a snake might shed its skin, the man discarded the name from his mind. He turned around, eyeing the night sky.

Now to deliver Sancho's report.

Location | Ditch somewhere near...Bell Mountain? Why, thank you, dear GPS.
Interacting with | Emi @NeoAC, Umbra @Syn, Generic tow truck service person
Mentions | Matt @Legion02


Kim hummed, giving Emi's shoulder a slight squeeze before dropping her hand. Emi's current emotional state was concerning, of course, but the relief at knowing that Emi wasn't physically hurt from the crash stood out a little more.

'You're gonna dehydrate from all those tears, under this sun,' she said. 'Wanna go back in the shade, at least?' She still didn't really recognise the guy other than as an obvious Gearhead, but judging from Emi's reaction, she knew him well - and not entirely in a positive way if he was able to set her off crying again with his presence.

Sudden movement jerked her from her thoughts and she had no time to react as Umbra came flying out of nowhere and slapped Emi. 'Bit overkill there.' Then again, maybe Emi needed something like that for the moment. Going over everything that happened in the past was normal, but she was only going to suffer at this rate. It wasn't worth it. Not when Brandon was probably hitting up some girl without a single thought for Emi.

She raised her eyebrows when Umbra turned to her, though more out of acknowledgement than surprise.

'That'd be him offering,' she said, gesturing to Matt. He was offering two chocolate bars now, instead of one. How generous. She watched as he walked away, pulling on a cigarette. At least she didn't have to deal with him now. That was one possible crisis averted.

Of course, the universe listened to her thoughts and thoughtfully decided that they needed more drama. The shouting that arose from the front of the RV only made her sigh and the sound of bodies hitting the ground made her wish she'd saved her sigh for that instead. Good thing Jules was intervening because Kim was going nowhere near that mess. Matt seemed to have the same idea, walking over only when Jules and another Gearhead girl had pulled the two hotheads apart.

'Right,' she said uncertainly, more to herself than anyone else. She took her phone from her pant pocket, then turned to the two next to her. Emi'd be safe - more or less - in Umbra's hands so it seemed an appropriate time to actually do something about the situation. 'I'm calling a tow truck. We can probably get one from Victorville.' They'd passed it a while ago, but it was still closer than Barstow. Rising and unlocking her phone as she went, she uttered out, 'Save some for me if there's dark chocolate in there.' then went a little ways away.

At least the reception was on. Bless that sweet, sweet 4G.

Location | Ditch in the middle of sandy nowhere
Interacting with | Sami @BrutalBx, AJ @TootsiePop, Matt @Legion02, Emi @NeoAC


'Looks to me like someone else did the fucking up this time round,' said Kim. Her expression remained indifferent, but her gaze lingered on AJ longer than was necessary as she said the words. 'I'm sure we'll figure something out. In the meantime, I'll go do crash control.’ She gestured towards Emi with those last two words.

Come to think of it, the others hadn't left the van yet either. If they didn't emerge soon, she'd have to check on them too. As she moved towards Emi, she caught sight of Monica and quirked her lips up into a small smile, but did nothing else. She had a crying Emi on her hands - and it looked like someone else had similar ideas too.

β€˜Talk about candy from a stranger.’

He seemed vaguely familiar, for a reason that wasn’t just because of Gearheads. Kim couldn’t quite put her finger to it. Putting the thought aside for the moment, she squatted next to Emi, placing a tentative hand on her shoulder. While she wasn’t stingy about giving out physical affections herself, it tended to give others the idea that she was welcome to those – so she usually didn’t. This was Emi, however, and Kim may be more reserved than most, but she wasn’t about to put her personal preferences over her friend.

Completely ignoring the chocolate bar in their direction, Kim waited till Emi’s wailing had calmed down (somewhat).

β€˜Better?’ she said. β€˜You hurt anywhere?’
In Ex Nihilo 2 mos ago Forum: 1x1 Roleplay

Piper blinked up at Jack as he pulled out a sort of...alien device. Its glow illuminated Jack's face slightly, but the side facing Piper held no light. As Jack tapped his finger on it repeatedly, Piper closed in again on the foreign object, his snout pausing a hair's width from it. This time, its scents were a little more familiar. Some type of metal. More of that strange chemical scent the..."photo" had given off. There was a faint scent of something else - it reminded him of lightning. So strange.

When Jack turned his attention back to him, Piper backed up a step, though only to resume the appropriate conversing distance. He looked away, considering.

β€˜Someone is after you,’ he finally sent. β€˜I think...Cheryl is involved somehow. Yet you are here and she is not.’ His tail twitched and his wings shuffled nervously.

That overwhelming surge of power from that telepathic link...he was unfamiliar, yet familiar with it. He did not know of magic like that, but he did know of someone who’d displayed that same magic. The person sitting right in front of him.

β€˜This place is not safe,’ he continued. β€˜Something...powerful. Unfamiliar. Is nearby. You must convince Cheryl and we must leave fast.’ He hadn’t missed the way Jack looked after staring at the strange metal rectangle. The question of what he’d seen itched at Piper’s mind but he held it back. If it was important, Jack would tell him. And if he didn’t, there were more pressing matters to tend to.

Like getting away from whatever power-drunk beast that prowled in the village.


The damn beast was still there. He'd done what it asked, and it was still there. The roof shivered, the distant beat of wings seeming to rattle the shabby wood. Sancho sat in his office, pressing a rag again his wound. It was hardly necessary at this point. The bleeding had stopped long ago. It still throbbed though, and Sancho cursed his luck, his grip tightening on the quill in his other hand.

He'd written the report as best as he could. It was good enough. He hoped. He prayed. There was nothing else he could do about the situation - it had all gone to meat as soon as he'd spotted the dragon descending from the night sky like the reaper of death himself. Even so, his client had a reputation for being erratic. If things didn't go his way...

Sancho shivered, dropping the quill to clamp a sweaty hand over his mouth. He didn't even want to begin to imagine what would happen if his client didn't take this well.

Movement shifted in the corner of his vision and he turned to glare at the cage in the corner.

'Awake, lizard? 'Bout flaming time you did your job.' He got up, grabbed a key from the edge of his table, and strode over to the small, metal cage. Disdain showed plainly on his features as he glared at the pipio cowering in it. Then he kicked the cage. The pipio scuttled to the back of the cage as the metal rattled and Sancho smirked in satisfaction. He knelt down, unlocking the cage.

You know, that was really unnecessary.'

Sancho jerked at the new, unfamiliar voice and rose to his feet, twisting around as his hand reached for the sword at his hip. Standing in front of his desk was someone utterly plain. Draped in a commoner's cloak, a man with curly brown hair stared back at him, smiling pleasantly.

Now, Sancho was always happy to help a citizen. His night, however, had not been a very good one and between the damn beast hovering over his roof and the witch slaughtering people left and right, this particular surprise had him this close to losing his wits entirely.

'Who let you in here? Get out! I don't have time for-'

Relax, will you?' The man raised his arm from the folds of his cloak, pulling back his sleeve in one swift movement. Black ink stood out against pale skin, a stark symbol resembling a circle with a C inside it. 'Trust me, that's all you want to do right now.'

Sancho paled. Could his night get any worse?

Sancho. Come on, be reasonable,' laughed the man, dropping his arm back within his cloak. 'Swords don't need to be involved in this conversation.'

His hand was gripping his sword hilt, Sancho realised. Slowly, he let go.

That's a good guard. Or is it Chief now? Man, kids grow so fast these days,' said the man, tutting.

'Who are you?' said Sancho again, ignoring the man's derisive comment. Picking a fight with him, if he really was an associate of his client, would not bode well for Sancho. At all. 'And how did you get in here without the lizard noticing you?'

If I gave that away, everyone would be doing it, wouldn't they?' The man's gaze flicked down to the scroll on Sancho's desk. He reached out to take it. 'What do we have here?'

He'd only looked at it for mere seconds before his gaze returned to Sancho, staring at him above the scroll dangling from his hand.

You really think he'll be okay with this?' He clucked his tongue. 'With your...well, I'm not sure if you can even call this a performance.' When Sancho tensed further and didn't respond, he let out another laugh. 'I'm kidding! He's an understanding man. You'll be fine.' Rolling up the scroll, he tucked it into his cloak.

'Is that all he sent you here for? To collect my report?' said Sancho.

Yes and no.' The man strode towards him and Sancho flinched. It was unwarranted, however - the man stepped past him. Sancho watched as he knelt by the cage containing the pipio. The man opened the cage door, calm, and the pipio stepped forward obediently. A quick gesture with his fingers had the pipio crawling onto his arm. He stood up, turning to face Sancho as he idly stroked the pipio. Sancho tried his best to restrain himself, but he was certain his disgust showed anyway. Why anyone would bother being nice to those pygmies was anyone's guess. They were meant to be tools, nothing more.

You asked me how I got in here without this little guy noticing?' He smiled, an utterly bland expression. Gazing down at the pipio with a fond expression, he continued, 'Word of advice, Sancho: in the sneaking business, you gotta relax. You're wound up tighter than a coiled snake.'

Sancho blinked at the sound of a snapping neck. The pipio lay still in the man's grip.

See? Didn't even see it coming.' The man dropped the pipio, walking towards Sancho. The same bland smile had never left his face and Sancho flinched again when the man clapped a hand on his shoulder. 'See you soon, Sancho. You'd better not mess up again.'

The sentence was said in the same friendly breath, and yet Sancho felt a shiver of fear scurry up his spine. And so he was left standing there alone, a trembling hand to his neck, staring at the dead pipio on the floor.

The distant rumble of wings continued far above.

𝔖𝔬π”ͺ𝔒𝔴π”₯𝔒𝔯𝔒 𝔦𝔫 β„œπ”žπ”―π”’π” π”¨π”’π”©...

Even in the dead of night, the town didn't still. People moved in darkened alleys with only the light of a torch and peasants scuttled around looking for a quick meal. The torches at bar entrances remained lit and the distant sounds of raucuous laughter and occasional brawls carried through the night.

From up here, they all seemed so small. So insignificant.

Lord Serrat?'

He did not look away from the window. 'Yes, serf?'

There is a delivery for you.'

Serrat, dressed in a fine silk robe, turned away from the window and laid his eyes on the package in the serf's hands. It looked as ordinary as any other package - there was nothing of note about a hand-woven basket, after all. Serrat jerked his chin towards the mahogany desk at the end of the room, on his left.

'Place it there and leave.'

The serf did as was asked and she scuttled away. Serrat paid the insect no mind, his eyes set on the basket as he walked over behind the desk. Drawing it close with one hand, he tilted the basket upwards for inspection and upon spotting the familiar symbol printed at the bottom, he hummed in approval. With his other hand, he retrieved his knife from his belt with the other and sliced it through the lid. It was the only way to open it since the lid and the basket were woven together. He pried open the lid and upon seeing what was inside, he cracked a smile.

What a beautiful night.


As far as the boundaries of Nihilo and even the rest of Terra, dragons stirred from their slumber, paused from their hunts, and looked far into the distance, in one single direction. Discussion arose between packs, hushed whispers or loud clamouring between minds, demanding to know what they'd just felt. The lone wolves murmured to themselves in varying shades of bewilderment. Florets, in forests and alpines alike, circled their young, reassuring them of nothing wrong - yet wary of what may come. Leodons prowling around volcanoes roared to the sky, challenging what strange magic had come to face them. Magis probed their surroundings with their magic, wondering what could be the cause of it all.

Stranger still were the moons tonight. A time when all three moons were together at once, something that hadn't happened in almost a century. Lunar heralds feasted on their light, their illusionary three pairs of wings flaring out, and Moonstones drew on the influx of energy from the night sky. Celestials and aeon wyverns continued wandering on their way, unaffected, all-knowing, and completely indifferent. Far in the desert, antareans scampered across the sands, unbothered. For them, the event was perhaps unexpected, but not unfamiliar. With them, mageia xenowyrms shifted in unrest, wondering what deed the humans had used the alignment of worlds for.

Somewhere in the skies, far beyond the clouds and brushing against Terra's ozone layer, a dragon filled with magic of unimaginable magnitudes snorted to itself, cackling at the fates of the small humans below. Still so archaic, still so young in their growth, and already they were sticking their hands into powers they could not begin to fathom. Just like hatchlings - except hatchlings knew better. This turn of events, this change, would be so very interesting to watch.

In the depths of a certain forest, a certain gathering of a certain dragon species was taking place.

'It was close, Tier One.' The speaker was one amongst the gathered blue siyat dragons. They stood in a neat, orderly line, all varying shades of brown with blue underbellies, crowns, and wing- and tailtips. The four siyat dragons standing before them were similar, except for their green highlights instead of blue. 'Tier Three felt it.'

'We all felt it, Tier Two. We don't need Tier Three to have pinpointed the strange magic's origin,' snapped a Tier One. Twin spots of vibrant green marked the area underneath his crown.

'Filaq,' murmured the Tier One on his right. 'You know where it came from.'

'Yes? We all do, Ruquies,' he growled, 'Sonarlis. You know I hate repeating myself.'

'Are we really not going to address one other particularly prominent issue that this presents?'

'No. It is only a coincidence, nothing more.'

'Our scout saw her heading towards the village. You cannot avoid this issue.'

He turned towards her, pulling his lips back into a snarl - albeit a small one, as he did not want to attract the attention of the Tier Twos discussing the matter with the other Tier Ones.

'I will do what is best for the clan', he hissed, 'and that includes avoiding the issue. For now. Because if I do not, my mind will be consumed by nothing but the want of tearing her to pieces.'

Ruquies only blinked back at him. Her green scales was of an odd shade, almost blue, but Filaq knew better than to use that as a reason to underestimate her.

'And if she is entangled with this strange magic? What will you do?' she said.

His snarl disappeared and he looked away. His ears, however, remained flat.

'Then I will tear answers out of her, and then kill her.' He connected back to the channel where the Tier Twos and Ones were still discussing.

'We will send out scouts,' he called out, his voice slicing through the clamour as smooth as a running stream. The siyats paused, all turning to look at him. 'We will find, and observe these sources of strange magic. If they are safe enough to bring in for further observation, we will bring them in. And if my fellow kin remembers one Cheryl Lusby...'

The name sent every dragon within hearing radius into snarls, their wings flaring out in agitation, their claws snaking out of their sheaths. Filaq didn't smile, as dragons were not known for imitating humans' many facial expressions, but he did send out a rumble of approval.

'If you find her with one of the sources of strange magic, do not hesitate to bring her in for justice.'

In the resounding roars and trumpets, loud to display their passion but low enough that the sounds did not break past their clan boundaries, there was nothing but agreement with his proposition.


As Cheryl wandered past the marketplace, dark from unlit torches and cluttered with covered items, she glanced up at the night sky, raising an eyebrow at the three moons. The night had all gone to shit and she was practically dead on her feet, but despite everything, she couldn't deny it:

'What a beautiful night.'
In Ex Nihilo 2 mos ago Forum: 1x1 Roleplay

Stranger was nothing. He was just a man. A potentially powerful mage perhaps, but aside from magical tantrums, he had nothing else going for him. Cheryl had faced worse than a fool who took things far too lightly.

Despite all that, the weight of the coin pouch rooted her where she was.

She shifted her glare over to Piper, and her expression tensed further. He was crouched low, body stiff. His tail twitched minutely. Something must have spooked him - she didn't think it was Stranger's doing, otherwise he'd have a faceful of claw right now. Besides, the two plates of food scraps between them spoke of a mutual negotiation. She turned to the side, her gaze expectant.

'Piper. Let's go.'

When he didn't move, Cheryl's frown deepened. She glanced over to Stranger, doubting her earlier assessment. Had he done something after all?


Cheryl knows human mages.' Baffled, Cheryl turned back, facing the duo fully. Piper glanced between them, his paws shifting in a nervous fashion. 'They might know what happened.'

'Piper,' repeated Cheryl. 'What are you talking about?' If he was talking about human mages, there was only one thing she could think of. 'I'm not helping him train his magic. Piper, get over here.'

Piper took one step, two steps, raised his wings, then hesitated.


His daughter is missing.' Cheryl's expression remained unchanged. Piper's voice carried on in her head - and, she suspected, Stranger's head as well. 'We made a deal. He gave me food and defended me when he didn't need to. All we have to do is take him to some human mages.'

'Tough. I wasn't part of that deal.' She turned away, waving a dismissive hand over her shoulder. 'When you're done playing friends, come find me at the stables.'

The chilled night air greeted her as she stepped back outside. The town seemed to have gone to sleep, with only a single torch winking at her further down the street. The moons, thankfully, lit the path for her, their soft, silvery light blanketing the town. Only the distant flap of wings broke the silence.

She kept walking, and didn't look back.

This was for the best for everyone involved. She wouldn't have to deal with a guy worth an unreasonably high amount of coins and he wouldn't get sucked into the void by mysterious cloaked figures. Win-win.

Piper wondered what to do now.

Humans tended to treat him, as they did most pygmies, either as vermin or a blubbering human child. Somehow, his size was the deciding factor on his sentience, telepathy or no. Magelights, pipios, common - once tamed, they did whatever they were told. That was something he knew as true. It happened all around him.

Cheryl was the first one to treat him an equal. So very long ago, she'd told him that if he wanted to survive this world, he had to be smart. And if pipios were meant to be stupid, then he had to grow smart.

Keep your wit close and your sense closer,' she'd said. 'You need both if you want to keep living.'

He wasn't smart. He knew that. But he could observe and put things together. And what he was seeing now didn't make sense.

Cheryl may still be upset with Jack over his outburst earlier, but she wasn't one to hold grudges. Nor was she one to walk away. Nor was she one to be excessively cruel. He was sure she would've at least heard him out. And there was the growing suspicion that she knew something about the dragon who'd spoken to him moments ago.

Power. There had been a lot of it coming from that voice. Telepathy didn't need that much. The dragon - if it even was a dragon - had obviously been trying to assert dominance over him. Piper suppressed a shiver. He didn't know who or what it was. He hadn't been able to pinpoint the range of the telepathic link before the beast had snapped it off; the surge of strange power from that link alone had overwhelmed his senses. The message's context was one that was only starting to make sense to him now.

And from all he had observed thus far, there were only two conclusions to be drawn:

One, something had happened to Cheryl in the short time he'd been away.

Two, Jack needed to go to people who could actually help him.

If only Cheryl would listen. When Cheryl had her mind made up like this, Piper didn't know what to do. It wasn't often he went against her wishes. Then again, it wasn't often that a human showed this much goodwill towards him - if it ever happened at all.

His tail thumped hard against the table in irregular beats. Convincing humans was Cheryl's area. Observation could only take him so far.

'Do you have any ideas?' He looked towards Jack. 'To change her mind?'
In Ex Nihilo 2 mos ago Forum: 1x1 Roleplay

Crunch. Satisfaction rose in Piper at the sound of grinding bone between his teeth. He spared a glance at the watch, before snapping off another piece of rib.

'You can keep it now,' he sent, 'You've already fed me so your part of the deal is done.'

He listened to Jack's problem, ears perked up in full attention. A missing human case. That was going to be hard - there were a lot of humans in Nihilo. When Jack took out some sort of pouch and held up a small scroll, Piper didn't think much of it until he actually looked up.

Interesting. Very, very interesting. Jack was indeed an alien human. Piper swallowed the last bits of bone in his mouth, licking his chops, then stepped forward to the...scroll? No. It was some version of the scroll, but it wasn't one. He closed in on it, snout almost touching the not-scroll as he sniffed it. Hm. It didn't smell like another human, despite the small one displayed on it. Instead, mixed scents of strange chemicals and what wasn't quite ink emanated from it, though Jack drowned out those scents.

'No. You are the first strange human I have seen. You...cannot find her with this?' He ducked his head underneath, peering at the back of the thin object. It was blank, pure white staring back at him. He retracted his head, sitting down in front of it. 'It is a very...realistic portrayal of a human. This is not magic that can help you?'

Just then, a faint whistle caught his attention and his ears perked up again. It was faint enough that he knew only his dragon ears could have picked it up. He glanced towards the door. His mind sought out a particular signal and found it moving at an idle pace, not that far off from the smelly food home. Switching his destination signal from Jack to Cheryl, he went back to staring at Jack, waiting for his answer. In the meantime, he sent a message to Cheryl.

'I'm in the smelly food home.'

When she saw was Sancho outside her house, the first thought she had was, 'I flaming knew it.'

When she realised how shitty he looked, her second thought was, 'Wait a second.'

And when he hurried off into the night, his guards following behind, her final thought, as most of her thoughts had been for the day, was, 'The flame just happened?'

'Wait! What affiliate are you-and he's gone,' sighed Cheryl, dropping her hand from when she'd stretched it out to stop him. She glanced up at the beast stalking Sancho from above. A dragon. It was rare to see one that big so close to civilisation. Despite herself, Cheryl tensed. Then she shook her head, turning away to tie the pouch of coins to her belt.

She could only guess that Sancho had meant the cloaked figure. That, or he thought she was in allegiance with some dragon clan who cared enough to extend her execution date. As if. The only dragon clan she knew was one who'd dearly love to see her ripped to shreds.

The cloaked figure was meddling with her affairs - something she didn't appreciate. She was more than capable of handling herself and she wasn't about to take on a job she hadn't wanted to. Stranger was probably long gone by now and if she didn't bump into him again, who could blame her?

Too bad for the cloaked figure. She whistled as she walked, a tune she knew Piper was familiar with. The way she saw it, they could hardly blame her for being unable to find Stranger - she didn't know who he was or what the hell it was about him that warranted so much money to find him or even his name. She'd just say it was "due to unfortunate circumstances" if the cloaked figure hassled her again. Surely they couldn't fault her for their own oversight. Giving her a job with barely any details. What a joke.

Piper's message rang in her head and she hummed - a habitual response, even if he wasn't there to hear her. No matter how many times she'd told him the names of different establishments, he'd stuck fast to calling all human buildings "homes". '
Too many names for the same thing,' was all the explanation she'd ever gotten from him. Not to mention, what was he doing at a tavern? And why didn't he just come to her? Cheryl figured it had to be Blackgale Inn. They'd been there earlier so it would make sense. If he wasn't there, she'd just keep whistling.

The tavern came into view. The weight of the coin pouch pressed against her waist and she didn't look at it. This would all be over soon. Then she pushed open the tavern door.

What was it she'd said? "Unfortunate circumstances"?

'You've gotta be flaming kidding me.'

Location | Ditch in the middle of sandy nowhere
Interacting with | Sami @BrutalBx, Val @Dirty Pretty Lies, Aleks @Plank Sinatra


So far, the trip was going well. After a quick check to affirm that yes, there were indeed no bed bugs on this RV, and tossing away the lizard tail, she'd slunk into whatever conversation her friends were having then. Which was, at the moment, about what superpowers that they'd want, if superpowers were real. Kim leaned back in the booth she was in, a small smile on her face. She'd already made a brief input on her choice of flight as a superpower and was content with listening to the rest of conversation.

Personally, she'd dig having fate-changing powers. Maybe Umbra knew something about that. She made a mental note to ask her later.

Then the RV jerked and she barely had time to brace herself against the table before the vehicle shuddered and inertia threw her back against her seat. Once the world stopped shaking, Kim blinked rapidly, her arms thrown across the booth's backrest and the window beside her. It took a moment before Sami's voice registered, followed close by Val's.

'Y-yeah. I'm alright,' she said, sitting up. Sami was already gone, however, and a pang of disappointment shot through her. Her expression reflected none of it; she frowned as a faint hissing sounded somewhere outside the RV. The frown fell into a deadpan as raised voices drifted in shortly after. At this rate, Sami's head was going to turn into one giant bruise. She took out her earpieces, tucking them into her jacket's breast pocket, leaving a loop of wire dangling out over its lip.

''Scuse me,' she muttered, squeezing past whoever was sitting next to her as she made her way out of the booth. Val had already left, her voice joining in on the shouting, and Kim sighed as the sound of a slap reached her. Thankfully, when she poked her head out of the van, Val was hugging some random, vaguely familiar dude. Sami wouldn't punch someone encased in a whole bunch of Val, preventing further violence in the foreseeable future. Probably.

Sssh. Please. You're all okay?'

'We'll live. But thanks for asking,' she answered the guy toeing the RV, walking up to the impromptu gathering. She glanced around and the two yellow sports cars nearby caught her attention. Then it clicked.

Ah. The Gearheads. The person Val had her arms around was AJ Tyler. Reckless guy without a care in the world and the money to afford it, as far as she knew. Her gaze shifted back to Sami.

'Don't suppose your wrench wielding magic can fix this?' She tapped her knuckles against the hood. It belched out another billow of smoke, sputtering as if to prove her point, and she stepped back, mildly startled.

'If there's anything left to fix,' she muttered.
In Ex Nihilo 2 mos ago Forum: 1x1 Roleplay

The stranger was rambling again - but this time, Piper listened. The contents seemed important, especially since he got to know more about the stranger's world. When the stranger reached out to brush Piper's cheek, he did not lean into it, nor did he jerk away. He simply accepted the touch.

'My name is Piper.' Throughout their conversation, he'd been sneaking glances at the plate of lamb ribs, the alluring scent of roasted meat nearly overpowering his senses. Unable to resist any longer, he bounced over to the plate and sank his canine teeth into utter bliss. Juice washed over his taste buds, a little dribbling out his mouth. The hunger in his belly demanded more and he obliged. The next few minutes saw him inhaling and slobbering all over his food, ravenously stripping meat from bone.

When nearly all the meat was gone, which wasn't that long later, Piper started working on the bones. The calcium snapped easily between his teeth and he chewed, calm and content.

'About earlier-' He didn't look up as he picked up where their conversation had left off, fixated on his food. 'It was very nice of you, but you probably shouldn't do that again. Almost every human here has..."prejudice", you said? You'd spend all your waking hours fighting off everyone with bad opinions on dragons. Not much point.'

Cheryl stared at the leather pouch on the floor.

'What the flame. What in the utter flame. Of hell's pit. Just flaming happened.' Unsurprisingly, the pouch didn't respond to her mental inquiries. Wary, she crept forward, reaching for the pouch. She poked it. Nothing happened. Encouraged, she took it, peeking inside.

Silver and gold winked back at her. A gasp escaped her, giddiness washing over her. Rich. With this little bag, she was filthy, meat-stinking rich. There was enough to last her more than a year, if she spent it right. Cheryl frowned.

If she could even spend it.

Whoever wanted Stranger, wanted him bad. Real bad. Bounties hardly even went this high for a single person. Clutching the neck of the bag in one hand, she leaned her chin against her middle knuckles. She needed to think this through.

'Con. He's crazy with magic that even Piper didn't recognise and that he couldn't control. If I piss him off, I'd have to kill him before he does any damage.

'Pro. That's a meatload of money.

'Con. I'd be doing shit I didn't sign up for.

'Pro. That's a meatload of money.

'Con.' She pressed her fingers against her forehead. 'He did try to help at the tavern, even if it was basically useless. He tried when no one else would have. If I bring him in to some mysterious cloaked figure organisation, it would be...'

Unfair. Then again, life was unfair. Life was, and had always been, unfair to her. Unfair to Piper and dragons like him. And now, unfair to Stranger.

She needed to find Piper and go before Sancho threw a fit. Gripping the pouch, she stood up, collected her knife - which had cooled - then paused, looking at the spot where the cloaked figure had been.

'You didn't even tell me where to send him,' she said to the empty room. When no reply came, she huffed. 'If you're gonna run a business, do it properly.'

She left.
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