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Victor Moltke Abigail Harlow

Location: Harrow's Keep Townstead, Artisan Market to Harrow’s Tower to South Gate.

Victor finally came stumbling out of what was formerly the Spire Inn. With one hand pressing against the doorframe to further support himself. He took one last minute to recollect himself, hoist up his pantaloons by it’s belt buckle and start what could be best described as a walk of shame into the Courtyard. He spotted the makeshift hospital, along with the true devastation that had hit the town, some of the civilians being treated, and Abigail clearing a path to free more space. ”Good lord!” he shouted at her, waving his arms around to catch and gain the girls. Abigail stopped, bewildered, and stared at Victor’s flailing. She trotted up to him, rickety cart and furious pony in tow. ”What’re you doing, trying to rebuild the tower?! Leave this bunkum alone, we have more important things to see to!”

Abigail looked around, a little startled. ”B-but sir! The civilians…?”

”Leave the others to play nurse, we have more pressing matters to see to. Things like “what the hell happened?” or “who the hell happened?”” Abigail surveyed the situation. The largest parts of the marketplace had been set aside, and it seemed as if the richly dressed man of importance had started to stabilise the community.

”I feel kinda bad leaving them to it, though…” Abigail mumbled sheepishly, already unhitching the cart from Munchkin as ordered.

”The tower.” Victor pointed at it.”Surely things are all still being civilly discussed in there.”

”Y-yeah! Maybe we can see if Lord Matthias is okay!” Abigail chirped, clinging onto the hope of peace and order amongst the nobility. She helped Victor climb onto Munchkin and they took the main road towards Harrow’s tower. It was the easiest, fastest route as it had the least amount of material to sporadically glitch out and provided a wide, flat surface for Munchkin’s tetchy canter to cross in a few minutes.

The tower started to shudder and shake. Dust plumed from the windows. It already looked unsteady before, but now…

The pony stopped in its tracks, almost as if it knew the danger of the implication a giant structure of that size shaking so violently would have. Victor stared at it with furrowed brows. ”Mhrm. Maybe we should go the other way.”

”It uh. It looks like they have it covered. But what about Lord Mattias…?”

Victor wafted a dismissive hand at the air.”Ah, he’ll be fine! He’s the grand and noble heir of the Balaur household. A crumbling, bursting tower has never killed anyone.”

Abigail nodded, cleared her throat, mumbled some hasty words of agreement and made a sharp 180. They took a decidedly jauntier canter towards the Southern Gate instead - not so fast as to imply that they were escaping the impact site of a falling tower full of the continent’s leaders, but fast enough to imply that there were very persuading reasons to make it to the furthermost edges of the keep as fast as possible. Munchkin decided that this was as far as he was willing to go when it came to the swirling grey masses enveloping the sky and dug his heels in some short distance away from the gate, snorting and whinnying and completely prepared to throw off both riders if they didn’t agree with his decision. ”That’s as far as he’ll go, Sir. I can’t blame the wee lad…” Abigail did her best to restrain him.

”What -is- this…?” Victor was engrossed in the uncomfortable sight of null visibility outside of the bubble. Partially fearing the unknown but suddenly interested in more then just escape. He could see some of the civilians clawing at the bubble, assuming the barrier itself wasn’t harmful just a trapping mechanism, or maybe even created to hold out the smoke? ”Clouds? Fog?” A million questions and possibilities running through his mind.

Abigail sniffed, rubbed her nose on the back of her gauntlet. ”’Tis a gate, sir.”

Victor’s face scrunched up at the smart remark, turned to her with a deeply disturbed and unhappy scowl. ”Is this truly the time, damn it?! he then promptly turned back at the bubble. He grabbed a small rock nearby and threw it at it the barrier to test for a reaction to confirm the effects it would have.

”If anything, now’s the best time for a bit of lightheartedWOAHWOAHWOAHSIR?!” Abigail fell off her pony trying to rush up to him. ”I don’t think we should be throwing rocks at the bubble Sir! What if it pops?!”

”We smash rocks together for fire, it’s the best way to learn!” he exclaimed. Once he was certain it was truly just a bubble he approached it to lay a hand on it. Ever weary of drastic reactions it would have.
Abigail Harlow

Location: Harrow's Keep Townstead, Artisan Market

"As it stands, there is no mission as important as the wellbeing of the citizens. They’re dead in the streets!" Abigail snapped back, her pony shuffling in response to the sharpness of her tone. "You and you -” she pointed at two of the guards closest to her - "Spread out across the district and redirect anyone in need of medical assistance towards the market. You two over there - find anyone who even claims to be able to perform first aid and send them here as well. I’ll need a few hands to help me move what’s left of the stalls. I’m sure you can use the remainder for your important mission.” Abigail tugged on the reins and dug her heels into Munchkin’s sides as the ones she picked out clutched to the orders and marched into the residential areas, turning the beast around to trot towards the marketplace and hide her expression of sheer terror. Good Goddess. What had she done? Who was that man? She doubled down and scowled. Victor can cover the damages, surely. He’d have to.

"Bring the unresponsive to the eastern side of the plaza!” Abigail hollered, using her sword to make a sweeping gesture eastwards where there was some, though not a lot, of empty space. She turned her attention to some of the merchants who, stunned, were stood amongst the wreckage of their livelihoods. A few guards had followed her, which was heartening to see, but around half remained with the stranger. "Any of you gentlemen have a cart handy?”

One of the vendors was stirred out of his shock and, at length, pulled out a cart from underneath an impossibly spiked tarpaulin sheet. One of the wheels had turned a very funny shape. "Good enough for me! Come on then, let’s get this cleared up.” She dismounted and helped hitch Munchkin to the harness whilst a guard and the vendor gathered the detritus of what once was a ceramics stall and throw it on the back. She gazed around the befuddled faces. How come she, running entirely on adrenaline and sheer bullshitting of some semblance of an authority, could function better than men with ten years on her and a decent life making trinkets? "Get your thumbs out your arses and MOVE, people! We need to clear space!” she yelled again, nearly making herself hoarse. She was scared and angry. She didn’t know what she was doing. But she desperately needed help to do it while there were still a few people left to save.

”Shall I take these sheets to the wounded, ma’am?” a person rushed up to her with one of the tarps that were used to cover the stalls. Abigail was bemused at the ‘ma’am’, as she was young enough to be his daughter, but didn’t let it get to her. There were a lot of people looking her way and following her example as the silhouette of a sturdy yet small Balauran stallion hauling wreckage had created a chain reaction of clean-up duty.

"Excellent idea. See if you can get the others to follow suit.” Abigail lead Munchkin by the reins as more people tossed what could only be described as ‘material’ into the wagon. It made a horrible rough noise on the cobbles as the busted wheel had locked the back axle. Munchkin was undeterred from this and was rivalled only by the mageborn in terms of his sheer pent-up stores of energy, built gradually with the aftermath of the crisis and finally finding an outlet in the form of dragging a very heavy load from one end of the plaza to the other. Abigail didn’t care what happened to it. She just needed to make a heap that took up less space than it did currently. Once she got to the western edge she hopped up onto the cart and used both legs to kick all the crap onto the floor. Empty cart. Still a lot of marketplace waste to clear out, and in the distance she could see a trickle of shambling, mana-sick civilians starting to gather on a large space of colourful tarp.

"One thing at a time...Come on. There’s going to be more people soon.” Abigail talked both to herself and the small entourage she had unintentionally gathered, tugged on Munchkin’s reins, and made another pass through the ruins of the market.

17 | Female | Elf


Short, athletic and hard on the edges, Abigail's physique was a result of countless years of hard work and poor eating. She hasn't got much of a womanly figure because of the malnutrition and makes up for it with her long blonde hair, but even that gets braided and tied up for her duties. She is unconcerned with her appearance but puts care into her armour and equipment. She hardly wears makeup and when she isn't gallivanting around the stronghold in her combat gear, she puts on whatever is easiest to wash and repair - mostly resulting in a good pair of boots and thick, sturdy but plain clothes. She wears her hair loosely tied to frame her face and is fond of hats or hoods to cover the scars of her docked elven ears. She has no tattoos and no piercings but her nose has already been broken, she's missing a couple teeth, and her knuckles, back and arms are littered with smallish scars. Two long purplish lines spread across her back in an incredibly narrow cross shape.
---P E R S O N A L I T Y

Abigail hates who she is. This is the crux of her psyche - from it, everything else emerges. Deep down within the guiltiest corner of her subconscious is a tiny, cold kernel of truth that reminds her that she is an elf. The rest of her identity is built around burying that kernel as deep as possible, depriving it of light or food, and praying to the Divine that it'll never become anything more than what it is now. This is not how kernels work. She is delaying the inevitable, and setting herself up for a cruel reality check when it germinates.

Because Abigail detests what she is, she's put substantial effort into protecting herself from the truth and hiding it from everyone else. She has the willpower of a stubborn mule and she hinges her self worth on how tough or strong she is, valuing a self-perceived notion of ‘heroism’ that revolves around knights in shining armour and indefatigable warriors above all else - because they aren't mages, and they certainly aren't elves. Because of this, she wrongly believes her strengths lie in her brute strength; in reality, she’s merely trying to avoid elven stereotype at the risk of her own safety. As one of the younger apprentices, she has an inferiority complex and she's quick to anger or get defensive. She has no qualms speaking her mind and in turn feels no shame asking silly questions. Because she's spent all her time and energy in improving her skills in battle, her academia suffers. It's a sore spot for her and the fastest way to ruffle her feathers. Because she does not understand or accept what has happened to her, she cannot truly grasp and live by the theology of the Path. This is her greatest shortcoming, and biggest obstacle to overcome should she wish to become a fully fledged warden.

This isn't to say that all Abigail can be is an unintelligent brute - she’s merely an inexperienced one who has a lot to learn about herself. The things she does the most are the things she has finely tuned. She’s so paranoid of being ‘found out’ that she’s become observant and wary. She objectively doesn’t weigh enough to stand her ground against larger opponents so her combat style is erratic, frenzied and unpredictable to compensate. That being said, her most impressive trait is her absolute tenacity. Abigail will keep trying and keep standing back up until somebody manages to stop her, which isn't as easy as a few stern words or heavy blows. She shows a bravery rarely seen in insecure girls and never shies away from a challenge. In brief, she has a potential for excellence - yet it is dogged down by her delusions and uncertainties.

---O R I G I N

Abigail was born onto a bed of reeds on the silty muck of a riverbank. She had no father so she had no family name to adhere to, and her mother died of complications during the birth. She was the orphaned child of a slave and an absentee and for the first decade of her life, the foetid camp in which her mother was confined had become her whole world, and her only parental figure was the slave master John Lording. It was he who had chosen her name. He was the one who raised her – and he was the one who would come to ruin her.

In this camp, river trout were caught, gutted, descaled, packed with small parcels of narcotics, delicately stitched together, smoked, and shipped out to larger riverside towns and their respective dealers. The workforce was primarily elven, for who would bat an eye if an elf went missing these days? It just so happened that one of the workers was pregnant and through some small miracle the babe survived the process. The rest of her life was saved by John Lording. He was a man of incredibly loose morals but only the most degenerate could want to cause misery to a child. For a while, Abigail was a catalyst between the elves and their masters. She was fed but without breast milk her growth was ultimately stunted and sickness was not uncommon, at which point the elves provided recommendations of herbal remedies to alleviate the pain. For a while, she invoked a surreal co-operation within a place of misery and torment. She learnt both her native tongue and the language of men. Once she grew older this treaty dissolved and she was taken under the slave master’s wing and turned into something different. If left to the elves, she might become dissident and start an uprising. John was not an inherently cruel and debase man but he believed strongly in a hierarchy and that a certain species could be regarded as property. He took the girl for his own.

Abigail was only five when she had her ears docked but she had wanted it to be done because she had been told that it would make her pretty. John explained that elves were dirty, primitive creatures that were better suited to manual labour than intellectual pursuit and that it had been their fault that magic had come to be. Nevertheless, John was charitable and he would try his best to ensure she had a better life. She could not be allowed to leave for she might tell somebody of the camp, and even if she did, what would she do on her own? Where would she go? How would she survive? It was safer in the tents, gutting fish, learning how to read and about the Divine. John would beat his workers mercilessly but only raised the whip in anger against his special child once – and the lash scars were a nauseating reminder of his overwhelming guilt. She was dirty, dishevelled, bigoted and often sick or injured, but she knew no other life and John could not provide anything more for the girl without risking his enterprise.

The confusion settled in when a Blackwarden following the trail of the drug problem in the north-eastern provinces of the Southron Confederacy came across the camp. All of a sudden, John’s ‘special child’ was not so special anymore. In his final moments on this earth he betrayed his pseudo-daughter and used her as a hostage, nearly slicing her throat open before tossing her aside and unceremoniously begging for his life, offering names in exchange for his freedom. The Blackwarden did not need names. He needed John’s head and the money that went with it. From then on, Abigail learnt that she had no true father and that the man was manipulating her. She was told that her life was cruel, unjust and a squalid existence. She was granted a chance at a better life. The Blackwardens needed fresh bodies. She was a clean slate if plucked directly from the camp and placed into the stronghold – she could be moulded to suit their ideals.

They weren’t expecting the anger.

Abigail had no parent, no source of guidance and two vastly conflicting systems of comprehending the world around her rattling around in her tumultuous brain just on the cusp of puberty. She was brought out of her tiny bubble and into an unfamiliar world where she spiralled out of control. She didn’t know who she was, so she doubled down on what she was taught. She didn’t feel like she could contain and control the flood of new and unfamiliar knowledge around her, so she was slow to pick up academia. Since she couldn’t get a say in her life Abigail obsessed over her body but since she was a Blackwarden’s Apprentice first and a girl second, she obsessed over physical prowess instead of superficial appearance. She dug her heels in and fought back against authorial figures trying to dictate her actions; not to send a message but because her sense of identity had been dictated by others for so long that she was desperate to figure out who she was. She kept her birth-name because it was hers but refused to take on any surname until she found one that was worthy.

Because of these problems Abigail stagnated in her training. She was confrontational, brazen and frustrated. She had the drive, potential and desire to become better but never had a consistent guiding figure to sit down and decipher her complexities. The situation was a delicate one. If she had more focused, one-to-one tuition there was a high chance that she’d be able to shed some of her childhood trauma and internalised bigotry, which in turn would open her up to the principles of the Path and greatly facilitate her progression into a formidable warden. She could receive that if the stronghold allowed her to begin her proper training as an apprentice under a veteran. But it was a gamble; if she rejected her tutor, or became too reckless in her desire to prove herself and consolidate her identity, she would no doubt incur the horrible consequences that weighed heavy on all the apprentices on the Path. But there were no other options within the Stronghold. She had to proceed; whether or not she would sink or swim was left to fate.

---E Q U I P M E N T
Values listed in number of full uses. No value = unlimited use. Uses can be rationed in times of crisis.

- Shortsword
- Buckler
- Hatchet
- Hunting Knife
- Dried Rations (7)
- Hip Flask (water)(10)
- Healing Potions (4)
- Soap on a Rope (50)
- Sharpening Stone (70)
- First Aid Kit
♦ Tweezers
♦ Wound Dressing (12)
♦ Bandages (12)
♦ Antiseptic (12)
♦ Pain-numbing Potions (4)
♦ Burn Salve (5)
♦ Safety Pins (6)
- Tent (waterproof)
- Bedroll
- Spare Clothes
- Hammock
- Spare Rations (10)
- Second First Aid Kit (See Above)
- Spare Healing Potions (4)

---O T H E R

Can speak passable Elvish, though prone to errors.

-A Template by Load Wraith
Victor Moltke and Abigail Harlow

Location: Harrow's Keep Townstead, The Spire Inn

"I'm sure you're down here on call, sir, in case lord Balaur needs an expert opinion on the policies…?" Abigail offered up hopefully.

The Spire Inn was a large, luxurious manor house converted into an upscale tavern for wealthy merchants - or petty nobles ousted from world changing negotiations. Sir Victor Moltke had taken one of the larger suites to conduct his research and keep up with the ceaseless administration of maintaining a small portion of Lord Balaur's footsoldiers from afar, and Abigail got the much smaller room opposite. They were in the main suite, and the squire was watching the esteemed Black Knight pace up and down the room.

”Your measly attempts to comfort me in this dismal situation are meaningless. I mean can you believe this?! Hrm?! -Me-! Stuck down here, doing what? Supposed to fondle myself here am I?!” he continued pacing with creeping annoyance.

"I-..I mean, if you want, sir, but I'd quite like to be excused if you do," Abigail stammered.

Victor shot her a glare before clasping his hands behind his back once more and returning to his pacing. ”Make yourself useful and at least go get me the day's news, will you?” he wafted a hand at her dismissively. Abigail nodded, bowed, and left the room.

As she left, she cursed every little thing she could think of. Keeping up with Sir Moltke was in and of itself a challenge; she had heard rumours that people tended to act like their gates, and a fire gate most certainly suited him. Abigail didn't know why she had a fire gate then, much less a force gate. She could think of a good few things to say to her mentor but the thought of so much as giving a firm 'no' made Abigail quake in her boots. Making her way out of the lobby, she started the long trek up to the tower, hoping to receive word from any of the guards posted out front.

But first, Abigail made a quick detour to the stables. She was going to check on her pony, Munchkin. In true Balauran fashion, the rugged little beast had been gnawing on his lead again and stamping his hoof. "Munchie no! I told you not to do that, you'll split it again," she cried out, calming down her tiny yet ferocious steed. "I'll take you out on a ride once I'm back, okay?" she promised him, petting his nose until only some of the whites of his eyes were still visible. It was as calm as she was going to get him. With reluctance, and a nervous pit in her stomach, she departed from the stables and made her way to the tower.

Abigail made it to the middle of the street before a bright light emanated from above. She looked up, tried to run, and was engulfed in whiteness. The world rumbled and was rent underneath her feet - everything crumpled in on itself and was gone in an instant. She didn't even have time to panic.

She awoke to a gentle stamping and nibbling.

Abigail rolled over and threw up first, then pushed Munchkin away from the pool of vomit that he was trying to slurp up. Then she took a good look and saw that the pony had pulled the rope clean from the stall and made it to her side. She dry heaved a little, shaking from head to foot, confused and disoriented. Munchkin headbutted her once or twice to help the girl to her feet, whereupon she hastily slung herself over her steed's back, and dug her heels into his ribcage.

The world was broken. That was the best way Abigail could describe it. There were people laying in the streets...and if Abigail hadn't steered away from them her frantic pony would have trampled the dead and unconscious alike. She made it to the inn again and found a bit of the wall sticking out in a perfect loop, decided not to question anything until she had her bearings (and her stomach settled), lashed the little horse to the impossible outcropping and made her way inside.

The inn was broken too. The kitchen had materialised halfway into the lobby. There were knives and shattered glass everywhere, the innkeeper was-...there was a lot of blood because he-...Abigail was sick again and tried not to sob. She climbed the steps on all fours since they had stretched out across the foyer. People were in the rooms. Some were dead, and a few stared at her without really seeing her. luckily, the corridors were so wide, and the rooms so big, that the destruction was minimal and she could somewhat navigate back to Victor's chamber.

"Oh thank the Goddess," Abigail exhaled, seeing that the damage only extended to one corner of the room, where another room cut into it at a diagonal angle. She stumbled over to the prone figure lying on the ground and shook his shoulder. "Victor, Victor please get up, everything's broken!"

”Mhrm-... hyngrh. It’s -lord-.” he murmured in his delirious and devastated state. His brain slowly and steadily rumbling back alive. ”What happened, are you well? Why has the room turned upside down?” he continued stirring awake but couldn't get the thumping out of his head.

"That’s not our room you’re looking at, Sir," Abigail explained, but the absurdity of the situation was starting to get at her and she was starting to panic. Realising that Sir Moltke was in imminent danger of choking on his own vomit, she started to put him in the recovery position that she had been taught. "I-..I, I’m not well. Not well at all, Sir, " she stammered, her heart started to hammer at her ribcage. ”The world just broke, and there’s things-...embedded in other things, and, and fuck, is it just me or is it getting hard to breathe?” The second wave hit, and a blast of mana filled the air. Abigail didn’t know what it was but it dimmed the corners of her vision and made her head pound. She fell to his side, shutting her eyes and focusing on her breathing.

Victor spent another good minute reeling from the reality of the situation. He couldn’t get up, but grabbed Abigail by her collar and pulled her closer to grab her full attention. “Listen closely to me, girl. Hrm. Rally the men, set up a perimeter where the world hasn’t turned upside down and start aiding the civilians out. I simply need to… gather and sit.” he rattled at her collar, trying to make sure she had received his orders.

”D-don’t I get to gather and sit too, sir?” Abigail asked, still pale and trembling.

“What, you think I’ll grab a tavern wench to carry out my orders? Move!” he had by now at least managed to clamber onto his hands and knees, heaving still.

Abigail took that to be both a command and a warning, and with the greatest reluctance she stumbled back up to her feet and left Sir Moltke to empty the contents of his stomach onto the floor on the spot where she once lay. She ducked and wove down the corridor, pointedly ignored the sparkling, bloodsoaked mess in the foyer and braved the incomprehensible world outdoors. Luckily, she didn’t have to do it alone; Munchkin was looming nearby and remaining stalwartly angry at everything that had the displeasure of getting somewhat near him.

Abigail took a good long look at what she had to deal with. There were bodies in the streets. Parts of the street weren’t even streets anymore. Houses were floating in the air. How many people were trapped under rubble? How many floating in the sky? And, worse still, how many locked underground, where nobody can hear them cry for help? She took another moment to breathe and focused on her appearance. Not only was she Sir Moltke’s spokesperson now, she was also dressed in House Balaur regalia. Until they knew what happened in the tower and the status of the heir, she may very well be the face of the entire country in a moment of crisis.

Abigail squeaked and tried not to be sick again. Munchkin gave her an affectionate snuffle to bolster her spirits.

She brushed off the dirt and fixed her hair to the best of her abilities and lead her pony to what fractured remains of the stable were left. It had spectacularly spasmed and deposited its rooftop some partial distance into the adjacent tavern. Several shingles lay broken on the cobbles around it. The horses were going mad, with half of them already missing. To prevent further catastrophe, Abigail did what she did best and went around subduing the frantic animals before they broke out and trampled men in the streets. Afterwards she hastily swapped Munchkin’s tattered lead for his Balaur blanket and decorative official riding tack. As the formidable Lady Shieldbreaker once put it, first impressions are everything. In this case, the squire was quite intent on looking like she had her shit together.

Rally the men. Set up a perimeter. There was no place left untouched by this nonsensical destruction but Abigail could surmise the place of least damage. She grabbed Munchkin by the bridle and stared down those soulless eyes. ”Listen up Munch, you are to jump or avoid the bodies. You understand? Do as I say, or so help me I’ll-...I’ll turn you into a tasty meal for the wounded!” It wasn’t exactly the content of her orders but the tone that managed to get some flicker of understanding from the tiny beast. He knew she meant business and that was all that mattered. She lifted herself effortlessly onto the back of her pony and, though she desperately wanted to rear and charge down the streets, she instead carefully trotted up the path towards the Artisan Market, making deliberate effort to avoid the people laying in the road whilst calling out ”Make way! Move everyone to the edges of the street!" in what she hoped was a commanding voice.

Once the tangled swathes of buildings opened up into the clearer marketplace, Abigail wasted no time trying to find the largest group of guards she could and approach them. It was decidedly easier on horseback; people tended to move for you when you were riding an agitated beast capable of kicking ones ribcage in. ”I’m here on behalf of House Balaur to offer assistance,” she explained solemnly. ”I believe we should clear as much space in the markets as possible to bring in the wounded. How many hands can you spare to help me?” A straight back and a cool gaze was all she could offer up as signs of her authority. The decorative riding gear and elaborate armour no doubt helped as well but Abigail was banking on the disorientation of the guardsmen to take command, even if only to establish a safe place to bring in anyone else who narrowly avoided the innkeeper’s fate.
Lmao @ "There Be Elves"

You mentioned a group chat, is there a discord server for this RP? Me and Dino have our character concepts roughed out but it's going to take a bit of back and forth to make sure they're alright with you. Similarly, if there's lots of worldbuilding going on, I wouldn't mind being a part of the conversation. I'm in GMT though so it might be a bit intermittent.
Definitely interested in applying with a friend, if you're willing to have us both. I'm a fan of how you've focused on the 'other' continent that most imperial fantasies use as the colony instead of the original setting, and the tone really reminds me of Celtic mythology. My only request is that we may have a map of Lerenthia with the Southron provinces and Anemor's main cities to get a sense of place, and a timeline for a better visual aid of the overlapping events. For example, the war between the two kingdoms was only mentioned in passing - but it feels like a much larger and drawn out conflict than mentioned. Seeing how long it has been since Theudelinde's coronation would also help ground the setting a bit more as it'll give a sense of how potent imperial rule is in Lerenthia.

The basement was dark, the few features of the room around you cast in shadow from the light beyond the door, and it was strangely shaped too; the door and the stairs leading up to it were at the end of a long rectangular cellar, the walls made from large stone blocks - the kind that you might see in an apartment building, without paint or whitewash, rather than an older ruin or monument - and around the place was scattered rubbish and piles of refuse, all sunk just slightly into the mud. At the far end of the room, shrouded in shadow and mostly obscured from view, there is a table; a simple thing with folding metal legs and a thoroughly fake wooden surface, next to it there is what looks like a sleeping bag laid out on wooden pallets to keep it from the filth of the floor.

There is a camping lantern on the table, unlit and cold, and a small backpack lies still next to it. On closer inspection, the rubbish in the room doesn’t seem to have come from whoever may have - or may still - lived here, but instead it has been pushed away from the makeshift sleeping quarter at the rear of the room.

The air is chill, and still, but not quite entirely stagnant; something has moved here, and may yet again. Abigail narrowed her eyes and toed the sleeping bag with some trepidation. Deciding that the dank, sour, dark cellar was not the best of places to linger, she heads back up the stairs to have a crack at the door.

The door swings open and Abi is confronted by sunlight, bright at first from the persistent darkness of the basement, and then faded and pale as her eyes adjust - pale enough that it might be morning. Morning in winter, perhaps.

The cold does not waver as she takes the steps up into… a garden? A garden. Somebody’s back garden. There is frost upon the branches of the one, bare, tree here, which itself is tucked away into the corner of the tiny, green-white place. The grass turns dark with her footsteps, the ice melting to the touch. Abigail wheeled around to take a look at the abode above the cellar.

It looks abandoned, is the first thing that crosses her mind. Made of the same stone blocks - which themselves, in the daylight at least, might have been cast from concrete of some sort - it reaches into the sky for five storeys before rounding off in a shallowly slanted slate roof. Most of the windows are broken, and there is plant life visible through most of the hollow frames that remain.

"Ah fuck. Ahh fuck." Abigail rubbed her hands together, sniffling loudly. "Might as well." She went for the nearest entrance she could find to start climbing up to the top of the abandoned building.

Almost to the rhythm of the thought, Abi noticed a door in the building’s face, with another short set of steps leading up to it. The door was flaking red paint, with a dusty, cracked, wirebound safety glass pane running down the left side. Inside there was a long hall, with a floor of cracked concrete, and doors set into the walls. Some of the doors had brass numbers screwed onto them - 1, 3, 4 - and one of them had a spot where there might have been one once, a long time ago. At the end of the corridor was another door, different to the rest but similar to the one Abi was looking through - must be the front door. Between the apartment doors and the front door, there was also a visible stairwell.

Abigail didn’t even bother checking all of the apartments, she made a beeline up the stairs as far as she could. She was lighter and faster on her feet than usual, but it made sense in the strange, lurid dreamscape that she was in.

Progress is good for the first two floors - and then it stops entirely. A tremendous trunk of twisted vines, brambles, and what might be an especially deformed tree blocks the path.

The window, however, is broken open. Muddy footprints, a candle put out long ago by rainfall in a jar still full of the water, and… a handprint. A handprint of very old blood.

Either way it shows the signs of travel, at one point or another.

Abigail poked her head out of the window.

There was a slim ledge, more an aesthetic feature of the building than a functional one, but one which could lead along to another way back into the building nonetheless. The front of the building was densely packed with ivy, running through the concrete like veins, and another set of vines dangled from the roof - not far enough to reach, but far enough to curtain the uppermost flaws.

The street below was… empty.

Wherever Abi was, it had not been populated for some time.

“Ah shit. Where am I?” Abigail continued to poke her head out of the broken window and looked down, immediately getting struck by vertigo. She sat down by the wall. There was no way she could chance climbing across the vines, since she had no idea how old the building was and this wasn’t a video game, it was...a something. She was somewhere. She exhaled. “Where am I?” she asked herself again. Wasn’t she in a car at one point? This wasn’t Arizona. It was empty.

Abigail jerked her head out of the broken window and yelled “HELLOOOOO?”, if only to listen the sound of her voice echoing across the street.

There is silence.

For the next ten minutes.

There is silence. Her voice doesn’t even echo.

Until there is a reply.

But Abigail does not remember what it said when she awakes, only that there was one.
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