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Lackeys and Associates

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"Darkness is where the Heart is."

Caprice spoke softly when she leaned forward to perform her trick as Cait let her, not wanting to harm in case those ears weren't just for show. "Such delightfully large ears can get awfully messy, no?" Caprice smirked as she performed the classic 'quarter in the ear' trick, only this time, pulling forth a light blue glazed and yellow sprinkled donut that matched Cait's hair and eyes. "One for you and one for me!" She pulled a second donut out from behind the first, this time with a black glaze and red sprinkles, before offering the donut that matched Cait.

As she was proclaimed leader and "named" the group, Hannah could not help some surprise creep into her eyes. Fortunately for her, that's what Caprice's mask was for. No matter.

"Actually, we'll take the second. The Crimson Pact. It sounds delightfully romantic, with the castles and moonlight. I wouldn't want you to get in trouble, and besides.." Caprice's tone hovered over the Crimson Pact, savoring the words for a moment, before she scooted herself off her chair. Her cane mysteriously missing, she posed for an officious statement, with her left hand over her heart. But her right hand was palming back a single card between her fingers. "As a Magician of Honor and Integrity, I despise cheating in all it's forms." However, despite her proclamation, each time the card was face up to the onlookers, it was a new card. First, Queen of Clubs, but it was Cait. Second, Queen of Diamonds, but it was Lin. Third, Queen of Hearts, but it was Rosea. Finally, Queen of Spades, but it was Sherry. Caprice herself was absent from the gallery.

“Neat tricks, ‘magician'.“ Lin scoffed at the sleight of hand being displayed by her new “leader”. “But I hope you can cast real spells. We’re not headed to any birthday parties here.” Removing herself from the bar, Lin stepped towards the bounty board to get a better look at the options before them. “Still, I have to agree with you on where we should go. You girls can go sightseeing all you want but like I said, I’m here for treasure. If I have to cut the profits four ways fine, but I’m not doing it with the scraps left behind by another group.”

"Well, this place got crowded faster than a subway during the rush hour," Sherry said before letting out a hearty laugh while scratching the back of her head. "Hi there, I'm Sherry. I can't say that I'm here for fame or fortune, but I certainly would like to find some cool places to visit so I'll be looking forward to working with ya'll," she said, introducing herself in a cheerful tone.

After her self-introduction, Sherry moved to the mission board and took a look at the quest the others were proposing before nodding silently. "Yep, it looks alright. If that's what you guys wanna do, I'm fine with it. So, how about we get going while the idea is fresh?" she asked, looking at the others, especially their appointed leader.

"Certainly, let us depart. Caprice, by the way." Caprice turned the card in her hands sideways to be invisible before flicking it away as she introduced herself.

As one by one each member of the newly appointed White Masks introduced themselves, the front door of the Dangeki Cafe would grow brighter around its hinges. Similar to Black Pentacle's own experience, a single step through the door would take them forward into a new world, a new floor within the Tower. "Good luck you all~" was Cait's parting words, licking her fingers idly of some residue pastry frosting before the world around them changed and shifted. At once, the air was immediately colder and the sky, if there even was one, was a translucent darkness held lit by only a singular object; a moon as red as freshly spilt blood.

It was a blessing the Tower didn't have a cruel sense of irony-yet-because the place the White Masks had been dumped into was a small village. Judging by the decor and overall atmosphere of the place, it was easy enough to deduce the location lived up to the expectations and implications of its quest line. Indeed, the Crimson World held many wonders, vastly strange and unique from their ordinary lives in Miso City. And as they stood there, probably gawking, the reminder that this was all very much real and prevelant would come in the form of a shaking, feral roar that resounded around their spots in the graves.

The roar gave Caprice pause, as she took a defensive half-step backwards, before letting out a slight tisk at her own slip. "It seems we are unwelcome guests, no? Perhaps we should seek out whatever manor or castle appears to be the most prominent. If there are any misunderstandings, speaking to the ones in charge might clear them up, and if we will simply face battle, then the quicker we get to our objective, the fresher we'll be for it."

Turning to the nearest building, Caprice whipped out her candycane once more, tapping it on the ground. A framework of candy canes began building the framework of a stair up to the roof of the structure. Then, a second tap and "planks" of some other sort of hard candy fell into place. Walking up to the roof, she looked around for any particularly impressive buildings that might indicate great wealth and power.

The roaring that shook the land did not stop. If anything, the bellows seemed to get louder and more ravenous but they were already brought to the highest pitch. That was because whatever was causing them came from the White Masks' surroundings. The ground around them shuddered and trembled as the gravestones turned in their rooted keeps. It was difficult to make out before but now it was all too clear; in place of where a name and words should have been, there was only a carved mouth filled with rows of teeth. So great were the number that it was hard to imagine how these things ate, especially with how much was sticking out their maws. Slowly, they hobbled towards the group of adventurers, dirt trailing behind them as the gravestones moved like teeth in the earth. Some of them, those closest to Caprice, were already starting to bite and gnaw on her candy cane stairway, making the structure dip and bend.

"Woah, things got grave all of a sudden," Sherry joked after being startled by the ravenous headstones. "I don't know where we are but I don't think that this has anything to do with us being unwelcome here," she added, following their leader but not before having to hop over the graves that devoured their way out.

“Whoa! I guess we're getting right into it then." Lin said as the group was suddenly swarmed by living tombstones. Though her basic instincts told her to run, something inside her urged her to fight. It was perplexing. She had no weapons or abilities to her knowledge, yet no matter how much her mind screamed for her to run, her feet stayed still on the ground. Her emotions spinning between fight or flight, while the others took action. Finally, she decided to give into the aggressive feelings.

With a scan of the impending hoard, Lin found the closest headstone and charged forward. As the distance closed, she planted her left foot in the ground and brought the right back then launched forward towards the animated grave marker. The second her kick made contact the slab of stone was reduced to a shower of pebbles.

"Holy shit I hit like a truck!" Lin exclaimed under her breath as she lowered her foot back and assumed a classic martial arts stance. "Alright then. Come get some you stoney bastards!"

Back in the Dangeki Café, Cait continued to idle about at the bar area. Naturally, it took a while for Team B to recuperate and get themselves swinging back into the motion of events. By now Black Pentacle was probably well off into the depths of their adventure and may have even been a day or so ahead of the other guys; maybe even further. That was neither here nor there though when Team B was finally piecing itself together, starting with the energetic girl who volunteered to find her companions.

“Ruby Chariot, huh? A bit wordy and pretentious but I’ll see what we can do,” Cait mused to herself. By now the drunken stupor possessing her actions had sobered up into normalcy. It was enough not to scare of the newcomer at the very least. The cat noticed Hannah rousing from her Awakening and stumbling into the world of the Tower. And so, the girl with the white mask made her way next to Cait, sliding up beside her and questioning about her ear.

Cait’s ear twitched a bit from this question but she didn’t move away even as Hannah, or rather, Caprice, plucked something unseen. Instead of the usual accounted money trick, Cait’s expression dipped into one of delight once a sweet treat was offered instead, coated in blues and yellows. “Wooow, you really are a magician! Thanks so much hun!” The cat eagerly took the pastry in hand, nibbling on it with broad waves of her tail behind her. By the time Sherry returned with Lin and a new girl in tow, she was swiping the last of the crumbs off her lips with her tongue.

“Ah, you’ve got a good eye on you….Lin, right? A natural-borne instinct for treasure. You’re not half-bad for a barista too,” Cait said with a smirk and a wink. “But it’s just like I said to the others…er, guess I’ll need to explain again since not everyone was here, eheh…” So Cait did exactly that, elaborating a second time on the Tower’s nature, Serei cards, as well as the two quests hanging on the billboard behind them. Not to mention Black Pentacle’s location, but that was pretty much a given.

“Mhm, I usually don’t allow two groups at a time taking the same quest, but I’ll sweep it under the rug for now because of your tasty treat.” The bar cat nodded at Hannah before noticing her mask. “Oooh, you must be the group leader then, right? Personally, White Masks is such a cool name that I think I’m just gonna let you sign that up now!” Similar to Umi from earlier, Cait produced a blank piece of paper and pen, quickly sketching the visage of a mask on its parches.

Their newfound Guild name, White Masks, scribbled itself magically beneath the symbol before curling up into Cait’s hand for safekeeping. “Now then, just like the others, feel free to take the same quest and go through the front door. But remember, if you wanna prepare for anything, now’s the time lovelies~”

@The 42nd Gecko

She's accepted. Place her into the Character Tab.
@I Need A Name

Now put this in her CS and put her in the Character Tab.
In Tower of Fable 10 days ago Forum: 1x1 Roleplay
@I Need A Name

Elaborate more on her Magus Hand ability and then she’s fine by me.

"Huuuh? Of course I said moseying. That's like, a common enough term people use you know," Pepper said. She cast a look at Lucas with a shrug, as if not believing this newcomer didn't know simple diction. But despite her body language, her smirk remained the same. She continued to listened to the new boy's explanation and what could be surmised as a story before raising an eye at the low-key accusation. "Eh, you look a little scrawny to mug. Wouldn't really have anything too valuable to pawn off." She waited a second or two to observe his face before her smirk somehow creeked wider.

Jeremy drew upon all of his willpower not to remind her that it was not in fact the 40's anymore, and that the majority of people who used mosey commonly only did so because they had long since lost the ability to hear, leaving them with no way to actually know that no one actually said it anymore. Instead, he stubbornly tried to keep his face straight and let her continue.

"Relax newbie, I'm just messing with you. Especially since you sound like some kind of a badass if you're thinking you can take on two strangers. You heavy lift or something? Or do you just make a habit of sounding dangerous-" Pepper paused when the boy suddenly yelled something out in a random direction. When she followed his sight, she spotted a girl who looked like she had her head in the clouds but she she wasn't too far away. "-and apparently loud too. That's some kind of weird cough you got there. Who's she, your girlfriend?" Another smirk, though at this point it was probably a joking one like all the rest. "Name's Pepper Rockwell, newbie. If you're gonna yell in strange directions in this town, you gotta introduce yourself first you know," she said with a hand extended to him.

"I... Badass is a bit strong, I'm kind of just your average guy." He said, shrugging his shoulders awkwardly. "I got in a few fights back home, but it's not like I worked out or anything. I just kind of got less than awful at it, you know? And as for... well, that..."

He gently tilted his head in the direction of the woman he just shouted at.

"It's... I don't actually know her or anything, but when you shout blatant mistruths, you've gotta be prepared for someone to call you out. If I didn't say anything, I probably would've had some kind of allergic reaction...

He kind of trailed off towards the end there, before shaking the weeb out of his head, or at least doing his very best to, and shook the hand Pepper had offered.

"Anyway, good to meetcha Pepper." He said, hoping that this would be the first step to people not treating him like a criminal anyore. It's nice to see that there are normal people here as well, and I didn't just accidentally move into the country-side equivalent of Innsmouth."

Alex continued his approach towards the two when he noticed the complete stranger that they were calling out to. In all honesty Alex was nearly a complete stranger to these two as well based on his memory. He listened to the conversation as he walked near. The sudden outcry of favoring ships was very offputting but Alex understood the desire to say something. What he didn't understand was actually doing it. "Dude, if you're not carful then the Otaku's are gonna come outta the woodworks to getcha for insulting their ships. I have no say in that specific battle though so bring on the fight."

He looked back at the other two realizng that he actually knew Pepper if only a little bit. She worked at the cinema if he remembered correctly. Still couldn't exactly place the other guy, and whoever that girl was that the guy yelled at was, Alex had no clue. "And don't worry, there won't be any supernatural happenings in EC. Not unless you go to the cinema. There's a demonic hound there that assaults you if you badmouth the place. You can call me Alex. And if you're wondering why I just forced my way into your conversation, I'm doing a documentary of the ups and downs of Emerald City for class. Anyone have anything they wanna mention about this place?"

"Mistruths? Buddy, you're a real weird fellow, you know that?" Pepper shook her head but accepted the handshake anyway. "But this whole town's weird when you think about it so you're bound to fit right in. But, uh, you know, you really should remember to say your name too. That's kind of how you meet people with first impressions?" Her smirk turned sly and she cocked her head a little. "Or maybe you just like me calling you buddy, Buddy."

In any case, someone new had decided to join their little gathering group. If Pepper had noticed the third boy prowling around, she hadn't mentioned so. But she did recognize him and so turned in his direction when he approached. "Yo, you're Alex...something, right? Long time no see I guess," she said. However, the smirk she was holding for the majority of the conversation deepened into a slight frown once the cinema was mentioned. "Heh, very funny there. But there's no use in scaring the newbie like that, is there? Besides, that's just exaggeration." Choosing to ignore that little remark, Pepper went silent and listened as Alex explained himself.

All the same, she flipped out her phone to check the time. Whoah, had time really sped up that fast? They still had a few minutes before they actually had to be anywhere but they might as well start walking off to the community center now. "Eeeeh? You mean the theater, Alex or just in general?" Pepper asked when she was finally paying attention to him again.

The creature which had been stalking Luke seemed to have reconsidered as more and more people arrived on the scene. Had he noticed this, he would have breathed a sigh of relief, but his own attention had been focused on the group in front of him. The young man hadn’t been silent up until this point intentionally- it was just that he was more hungry than talkative. So, he’d busied himself crunching on his granola bars while Pepper did the heavy lifting in the conversation. Was it a rude thing to do? Probably. Did he care? Probably not.

Pep’, you calling someone weird is the blackest pot trying to insult the whitest kettle.

The fact that Luke was weirder still was left unsaid, it would probably be obvious to anyone that gathered there.

As someone whose spent a bunch of time at the cinema though- it’s less of a hound and more of a demon. You see a flash a red and then BAM, lights out.

Then, with a look towards his old coworker that might have been a sly taunt- or perhaps begging for mercy- he added;

Which is why you should buy a bunch of tickets to the place and start calling out insults, a meeting with a demon’s a hell of an event to experience you know.

This Alex fellow also felt familiar to Luke, but he couldn’t quite place the guy. Certainly not someone he knew in any real capacity, but it was a deceptively small city. Everyone knew everyone at least a little bit if you lived here long enough.

Jeremy was a little confused when Pepper asked him to tell her his name, because he was... pretty sure he already had. Then again, he didn't always have the best memory, so maybe he was just wrong. Wouldn't be the first time. Still, he didn't think he was this time, and he planned to make it known.

"I mean, sure, if you really want to, but I'm like ninety percent sure I just introduced myself. If I didn't though, then I'm Jeremy Lindall.Nice to meetcha again, Pep. And it is blatantly untrue, she's talking about a relationship between two characters whose chemistry is hollow at best, and non-existant at worst. You can't just let something like that slide, ya know?"

And then he turned to face the new addition to their rapidly expanding conversation.

"Also, I think it's better not to call them Otaku these days, what with all the negative connotations from the Otaku Murders and all that crap. Plus it just kinda sounds weird. I think it's a lot more appropriate to call them weebs, or gremlins... Or degenerates... Or trash... Like Kobaru..."

After once again reiterating that Kobaru is, in fact, an absolutely trash ship, and thoroughly eviserating any hopes of pretending he wasn't a disgusting weeb in the process, he sort of just trailed off, listening to the others as Alex and the other guy tried to warn him about some demonic entity haunting the local cinema, and Pepper tried to downplay the whole thing.

"So I talk shit about the cinema and a demon appears? That actually sounds kind of interesting..."

Unfortunately, common sense had a tendency of sticking it's head into Jeremy's life whenever his imagination let him think he'd stumbled across something fun. In this case, it was the emphasis on the word 'red', and the looks the other two were giving Pepper as they spoke.

"Oh. Oh... I was actually really excited for a second there..." He sighed, shoulders slumping. "I guess the 'demon' is just you, huh? Is that like your nickname or something?"

And then he sighed even harder as the guy whose name he still didn't know talked about what an event it was to actually meet a demon.

"Man, I spent ten years being dragged into trouble by a demon. At this point, it's more of an event when I'm not meeting one."

And then he felt a vibration in his pocket, and pulled out his phone, a visibly ancient and battered flip phone from some point to the mid to late 2000s. He took one look at it and his brow creased.

"Uh, are you guys going to this town meeting? Because it's gonna start soon, and I'd better get moving if I wanna make it. I stillkindalike the idea of talking more, because you guys are the first people I've met here other than my sister who haven't not-so-subtley accusedmeof kidnapping and/or murder."

One time was fine enough to slip past, especially since Alex was more an acquaintence than anyone close. Two times, and Pepper gave a very distinct glare right at Luke for invoking the supposed demon that hounded around the local theater; her thoughts were too occupied to notice the alien terms like "weeb" and "otaku" anyway. Luke only spared himself a darker stare because he more than instantly back peddled with his words, even offering the suggestion that the newbie buy some tickets to the theater. For a moment, all was well and good as far as Pepper was concerned but then the newbie, Jeremy started catching on and this time addressed the elephant in the room without beating around the bush.

"Huuuuuh? And what makes you think I'm this inflated demon these two bozos are talking about?" Pepper switched her stare onto Jeremy now with a bit of a twitch in her expression, her lips craning into an annoyed sneer. "Look, there ain't no demon in the theater, end of story. Don't listen to these two cause they hardly know anything for as long as they've lived in this town," she said with a huff. "Besides, if supposedly you were to meet this demon, I can tell you they'd give you more than a black eye for ticking them off, especially on theater grounds...."

More than just a little bit peeved by now, Pepper would stew in her annoyance for the seconds of silence it took for Jeremy to whip out his phone. Mention of the town meeting was a nice change of topic as far as Pepper was concerned and she shrugged at the question. "Eh, I was gonna head down there Buddy. By the way, I'm calling you Buddy cause you look like a buddy more than a Jeremy. But yeah, I got nothing better to do and I know this bozo's got nothing too so yeah, might as well." Pepper nudged Luke gently in acknowledgment before letting her feet begin to take her away in the direction of the Community Center. It was better they walk and talk anyway, assuming the others followed.
In Tower of Fable 20 days ago Forum: 1x1 Roleplay

"The smallest courage can turn a tide of war."

When all was said and done, when Black Pentacle had properly prepared and said their farewells, only then would the Café’s exit allow them to pass from this world to another. It would linger its gates for just a while longer in case the second group decided to follow in this new plane. Black Pentacle and the rest would stumble into the middle of a hearty village that looked to be in the middle of nowhere. A quick look around revealed a town sign conveniently placed in sight that read, “Welcome to Rivenwood”.

In truth, they had entered a world of Shattering and one that looked much more typical of a fantasy game than anything else they’d encounter so far. It was perhaps a blessing they were dressed as they were then. The group’s outfits would work in perfect tandem to the environment around them and blending in wouldn’t be a problem. Indeed, barring them suddenly teleporting in the middle of the village square, none of the occupants paid them too much mind.

After all, magic was no stranger in this land. In fact, the only trouble they would have upon arrival was the concerning sound of thunderous hooves plowing right towards them. “Stop them! Thief!” Faster than any of them could react, a dark-cloaked figure sprung in between their little group before leaping away further and further among the village. A few seconds later and the sound of hooves became stronger, a platoon of soldiered men in armor riding on horseback surrounding them.

Each of them carried about long spears that were pointed in conjunction at the group. Each soldier also had a leather-bound book attached to their hips as if they were also weapons. There was general confusion on the soldier’s faces, but their steely resolve soon returned. “Halt where you stand! Are you working with the thief? Where did they go!” Whether or not it was true to them, Black Pentacle and others had seen the thief literally pass them by. It only made sense now to interrogate the newcomers.

Before more questions could be spilled, a roar split the air around them. Most of the villagers watching now shrieked and huddled back to their homes behind closed doors. But the soldiers remained firm, even parting around Black Pentacle to let someone else come through. “Make way for the commander you fools! She’ll know what to do with these close-lipped foreigners,” said a soldier. The others followed immediately after as their commanding officer towered forward.

In Tower of Fable 23 days ago Forum: 1x1 Roleplay

“Black Pentacle huh? Fancy name for a fancy group of fine ladies~ Oh, and Tokuda.” Cait snapped her fingers and in its place conjured a scroll of paper, blank and somewhat parched. Umi’s blood, which had been used to stain the counter in drawing their symbol, rose up from the surface and blotched itself onto the paper. The symbol of a star stared back at Umi, followed in short by their Guild’s name scribbling itself just above it. And then, it dispersed in colorful flames as Cait wiped her hands.

“Don’t stain the merchandise, by the way. First’s one free cause you’re a cute group, but next time I’ll be taking it out of your payments,” Cait said, eyeing where the blood used to be on her counter. “Just a fair tip for the future. Now, onto your items. You can either pay in money like I said or trade for items like you said. There’s all sorts of quests if you know where to look~” Cait’s tail flickered to a large board next to one of the shops. There were only two sheets plastered to it, no doubt questlines to be contracted.

Imperious Expedition: Explore the strange new world. Challenge others with the power of magic or your own quick wits! Bring back valuable items or defeat the World Boss for a prize! Be wary of the man who speaks in masks.

By the crude, almost scribbled writing on the paper, it was obvious Cait herself had written it out. Or maybe she got one of the lackluster employees to do it. It was certainly possible given her lazy demeanor and prone cat naps so far. Regardless, that was neither here nor there, though the next contract was written on significantly darker paper with red writing this time.

Crimson Pact: Survive the dangers of the supernatural and others who dwell in the darkness. Voyage the unbound castles if you dare or choose to scurry among the local life instead. Bring back valuable items or defeat bosses for prizes! Be wary of the red moon.

Whatever quest was chosen and decided upon, the paper would have to be picked up and delivered to Cait. Once that was done, Black Pentacle would see the Café’s front door glow around its hinges. Likewise, the summoned Serei would also glow briefly before returning to their respective cards. Kanbaru’s card in particular, blank as it was, was now pulsing, a signal she was able to trade it for a Serei now.

“Once you exit the Café you’ll be walking into the world you chose. Good luck you all. I’ve got some new recruits to speak to,” Cait said with a giggle, laying her gaze on Sherry. “Be a dear and go grab your companions will you? I don’t think there’s more of you expected to come so we should get your Guild name and next quest sorted out as soon as possible. Unless you three wanted to join Black Pentacle too?”

“Nghn....hmm?” In the short time that followed, Pepper decided sleep was much more important than food; a decision she came to regret eventually, but at the moment it seemed like a nice idea. That was why she was sprawled out over one of the benches strewn about near Moore University. As she heard a voice calling out for her, she readjusted her posture from the short nap and yawned. She rubbed her bleary eyes and noticed a few of the locals finally hustling about, before blinking away sleep.

Was that Lucas? “Yo,” she said with a wave to match his own. Seeing as he was on the other side of the street, she figured she’d make the first move and meet him. She dusted herself off from the bench and quickly crossed the street to stand in front of the boy. “Let me guess, work’s closed too? Man, this day is starting to become a real drag and not in the good way.”

If anyone overheard her words, she didn’t bother to give them the time of her eyes. They could have glared at her all they wanted but it didn’t change the fact businesses were suffering for an entire day. “So, whatcha you up to. You went dumpster diving again?” Pepper smirked casually with hands rested behind her head as she stretched. Lucas’ meager meal didn’t escape her gaze so of course she had to take the time to tease him about it.

A quick look around showed it wasn’t even afternoon yet, the light of early morning still shining on their small little town. “Maybe if you convince me I’ll treat you to a real meal later. I know that’s not a good lunch for growing boys like yourself.” Unlike the boy, Pepper didn’t much care about the circumstances that led to her former coworker being let off from Green Bay Theater. Or rather, she wasn’t as hung up about it as Lucas probably was, but that was neither here nor there.

Another round of yawning took over and she looked around to see if anyone else was buzzing around the city. What she noticed was another boy who, much like them, seemed to have the face of nothing better to do written all over him. Peering from a distance, Pepper grinned again before she tried to nudge Lucas in his direction. “Hey, see that guy? Doesn’t he look new around here? Maybe he’s got something to do with the mayor’s daughter. Ain’t it just a little bit too coincidental?” By the tone of her voice it was obvious she was teasing again.

Even so, the boy was practically making himself a red target of suspicion by walking around with no destination in mind. “Yeah, he’s gonna get himself killed,” Pepper decided before waving at Jeremy. “Yo there stranger. You looking lost or just mozzying around?” She walked towards him now with only the assumption Lucas was following. Well, she might as well cause as much interest in the few short hours before the town meeting as possible. It was barely even lunch time after all, and she knew neither Lucas nor herself had anything better to do.

“Man this blows.” It was all too expected of their small town to be up and arms about the recent incident. Indeed, a full week had passed and there was still no real word about the mayor’s daughter. The fact a town meeting had been called in place for today could only mean the worse and that meant only one thing really to Pepper. The Green Bay Theater would be closed for the day.

Much like any other sensible business, the theater decided to close its doors for the day out of respect for the town mayor. They even gave her the day off as opposed to working on menial tasks, having assumed she was deeply influenced by the tragedy. Now of course she did think the whole thing sucked and it was in fact a tragedy. But if she was being honest with herself, Pepper didn’t have much to gain. She never knew Lily like some others apparently did and didn’t have any close attachments by any means to her.

“Yeah, it all blows. But I can’t just tell my boss that. Or anyone else lest I get stoned,” she sighed to herself. With nowhere left to go for the morning until the town meeting, Pepper decided to go on a walk. It was probably to clear her mind about the week’s events or maybe just to get some fresh air. It wasn’t like she had any scholarly responsibilities to uphold now after all. In fact, she should have felt elated on a free day of no work.

So why didn’t she? “Probably because everyone around me’s feeling depressed,” she answered herself. Hands in her pockets, she picked a random direction for her feet to carry her while her mind flitted to other thoughts. Perhaps it was on unconscious instinct because when she paid attention again, she was walking past Moore University just on the other side of the street she was on. No doubt the students there would also cancel classes for the town meeting.

Pepper didn’t need to check the time to know she was still way too early for the town meeting; That meant more wandering around for something to do. “At least the weather’s nice, I guess. But that’s some kind of cosmic irony for the mood of the day,” she sighed. She continued her merry way, wandering around. She supposed she could go for some breakfast at least, assuming any place was open for today. It wasn’t like she didn’t have the time.
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