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Pre-ST Event/Signups for Painted Sands
Topic Started: Thu Sep 28, 2017 3:37 am (2,575 Views)
Lachesis[ST]
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You can run on for a long time, but you'll still be found. You might be taken in the cold tundra near Striberg, the ancient woods in Norwood, in the broken canyons of the Chomai or even on an unassuming street in Taras. It finds you one way or another, a letter addressed to you left under a door, handed off by a courier or even slipped into your belongings when you're sleeping outdoors. Regardless of the where or the how, you've been summoned.

The language used is polite and professional, but each message is tailored specifically for the receiver. They all carry an offer to entice your interest. A boon for assistance rendered to the Black Dog Investigative Services Agency in helping with a murder investigation they are performing. Even if you decide you don't want to take the job offer, there is still an offer to join them for a meal, at least to hear the proposition if nothing else. The directions on each letter are fairly different, all of them direct the receiver to a locale relatively close by. No more than an hour's walk at most which will terminate at a quiet area with some manner of structure. Those in Kellen might run across a large circular tent, a cabin in Striberg or a hole in the wall building in Cascadia.

They all terminate in to the same interior though.

The interior of this place is clearly inside of a building of some kind. Polished floorboards of wood peeking out underneath elaborate carpets save for the clear space before a stone fireplace faintly crackling away. An eclectic array of furniture is present with differing sizes clearly meant to accommodate a number of body types. The center of the room is dominated by a large table, easily able to seat a dozen individuals. For the time being the table is clear, but the smell of cooking food hangs in the air.

Aside from the table and numerous chairs, large bookcases that extend up to ceiling dominate the wall to the left of the fireplace. Numerous tomes in a variety of languages line them. Those who have interest in the subject would be able to pick out a handful of rare books among their number. On the other side of the book shelves are eight timekeepers all tracking a different time.

Directly across from the fireplace is the doorway you enter in, and if you take a moment to look outside the two windows that flank it you may be troubled to learn they don't look out on where you had come from. Both of them in fact are looking at different locations.

Not counting you or your fellow invited, the only living thing present is a young woman standing at attention in front of a set of switchback staircase going up to the second floor. With a black frock coat, matching breeches and a white undershirt she looks ready to attend a funeral or meeting with the upper elite in Cascadia rather than idling inside of an enchanted building. Aside from her glasses the only accessories are a bolo tie centered around an engraved piece of silver, a signet ring on her hand and two dark blue hair sticks holding her brown hair in a bun.

As each of you arrive she greets you with a bit of clear hesitation and offers you to take a seat where you'd like.

"My apologies but he's not quite ready yet, in the meantime if you require a refreshment I would be more than happy to help. Feel free to acquaint yourselves with your potential co-workers in the meanwhile."

Quote:
 

Welcome to the pre-event for Painted Sands! Please don't mind the creepy stalker invitations, just kick off your boots and settle down in a chair. There's a little bit to cover here, so I'll need a few moments of your time. The reward Black Dog is offering? I'm gonna need you to come up with that one for me, you know your character better than I'm ever gonna. To give you an idea, it should be something that'd be a significant reward but not something that's -beyond- reality. Ideally something that is based around information. Location of a long lost family member, a map to some famous buried artifact, maybe the home address to someone who wronged you. The only catch is the offers are all meant to draw you in on good faith. Black Dog is not going to blackmail someone into working for them.

Second bit. Right now this is pre-event is to let you, the beautiful and darling PCs, feel each other out. Roleplaying in the topic is not mandatory to sign up, but if you make at least 3 posts of you interacting* with another PC you will be rewarded with a Priory coin. There might be some additional gains depending on activity beyond that mark. This will last 3 weeks, so I'm confident you can manage this!

Thirdly. For the first two weeks the only signups that will be confirmed are for players in the 0-1 and 2-3 ST brackets. If you're 3+ absolutely confirm your interest to give me an idea of how many players there might be, just if it (somehow) happens to be too many 3+ ST players compared to the number of slots we'll sort that out in the last week. The objective is to get all of our newer players locked in early on.

Four. You've some homework to do. Anybody who wants to post in this topic must overcome a terrible challenge. You have to PM me your character's favorite dish. It doesn't have to be the main entree, a side dish is perfectly acceptable! Keep it secret though, this'll be part of a little mini-game in the pre event to see if you can identify whose food is a favorite of who.

Five. True honesty: There'll be something else that comes to mind. My wits are never about me, the sooner we both come to terms with this fact the sooner you can get that paper work filed and get a minder for me. Until that time, I apologize if I start dropping some additional bits on you. Bear with me, it's all for the sake of a fulfilling ST for y'all!

*Interacting means having some dialogue that is more than a singular line. Looking at another PC or asking them to pass the salt doesn't count >:[


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Silnimare
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The young redheaded captain had been rather bored, of late. She sat on a large marble seat, which bordered on throne-like, at the head of the large hall that was the center of her home in the Taras Bay. It was rather isolated, mostly only reachable by ship or air, although an extraordinarily good swimmer might be able to make it from the shore. She had been entertaining some locals from her home city, who were curious about the estate, which had only been created a relatively short time ago in the middle of the bay's waters.

Her expression was still, her chest unmoving for breath, her eyes hidden behind an elaborately patterned blindfold. Silnimare bore many scars on her skin, off-color lines and patterns that crisscrossed all over her body. She wore the uniform of the Taras Navy, a smart coat and trouser number, crimson with silver accents and buttons. However, her feet were bare, and tickled by the inch of water that covered the stone floor of the hall. She called one of her servants, her tone polite, never domineering, and asked for a large glass of strong drink. The woman nodded, and returned a short time later with a tray that held a large bottle of some green liquid, and a silver mug, decorated with symbols of the ocean.

Silnimare took the bottle, ignoring the mug, and thanked her servant politely. She removed the cork, taking a long, hard swig of the stuff, the smell of death and smoke coming not from her, but the bottle, which was apparently some exotic liquor designed to kill its consumer, or so one might think, the way it tasted. She was interrupted from her consumption by a guardsman running up the hall, the thin layer of water splashing around his feet.

"Ma'am, a courier just came by ship with this letter, addressed for your eyes only, if you'll pardon the expression, Ma'am. No sender, no affiliation, as far as they could tell."

Taking the letter in one of her scarred hands, and setting the bottle on the small table beside her seat, she nodded to the guardsman.

"Thank you, Seamus. That will be all."

She held out her hand, a thin blade of ice about six inches long forming above her hand. She took the blade, and swiftly cut open the envelop, setting it aside as she removed the letter, which had been written on very fine parchment. She held her hand over it, letting her connection to the water within the ink reveal the letters to her sightless eyes.

"To Silnimare Morrighanu, Captain in the Taras Navy,
From the Black Dog Investigative Agency

Greetings.

We write you to ask for your assistance, should you be available, with a certain matter pertaining to the investigation of a murder. If you are unsure as to whether or not such a task, we ask that you still entertain us with your presence for a complimentary meal, so that we might discuss it further. We can assure you, that any aid rendered will not go unrewarded. We have come to understand that, per certain rumors, you might be interested in finding a way to reverse the nature of your animation, such that the warmth of mortality returns once more. We may be able to provide information pertaining to such a pursuit. If the rumors were mistaken, please accept our most sincere apology on the error, and understand that we will surely find some means of otherwise aiding or compensating you, in return for your assistance in our investigation.

If you would be so kind as to hear more of our proposal, preceded of course with the aforementioned social dining, then please make your way to the brickwork house on the outreaching peninsula to the west of your residence. We can assure you, the effort will be well worth your time. Should you decline, there is no need to reply, as we will be understanding your absence to mean you decline, for reasons that shall respectfully remain your own. Good fortunes to you, and we hope to see you soon.

With sincerest regards,

The B.D.I.A."


Silnimare thought hard about the contents of the missive. Was it a trap? It could be. While she had made allies and friends, she was not without enemies. Still, the promise of possibly becoming human again tugged at her mind, until she finally gave in, and stood, folding the letter into the chest of her coat. She made her way up stairs to the tower that crowned the rocky structure, and was greeted by a guard, keeping watch.

"I'm heading out, Nathan. Not sure when I'll be back. Entertain any guests, but make it clear I am not home. Lethal force authorized in the event of attack or unruly... situations. Inform the others, and return to your post."

"Yes, Ma'am."

With that, two wings seeming to be made from diamonds sprang from her back, and she lept from the tower's edge, flying west with all the speed she could muster. After a short time, she came upon the structure described in the letter, and made her way to the door. Her senses could pick up faint traces of magic, but nothing living or undead. Arcanotech, or golems, maybe? As she reached for the door, her clothing shifted into a simple white dress with a leather overbust corset, her blindfold still covering her heavily-scarred eyes. She opened the door, and walking in, surprised to find herself in a much larger area than the house should have allowed. She had only encounters such a doorway once before, and that had been quite some time ago. As she went further in the room, the mark on her forehead revealed the presence of a very formally-dressed woman, who was standing as if waiting.

"I got the message, thank you for your consideration..."

Before she went further, she was informed that the one she wanted to speak to was delayed, and she was encouraged to take a seat. She noticed a bookshelf against the wall, among a myriad of other oddities, and pulled a book from the shelf, taking it with her to her seat. She opened it and held her hand over the pages, in between turning them, feeling the water in the ink to read without vision. She waited patiently for someone... anyone to arrive.
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Keelin
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Lab Rats Bite Back

... and in doing so, the Black Dog Investigative Services Agency would be glad to provide assistance in determining the identity of the person or persons known as 'the Craftsman' ...

"Sabbatical?"

"You can't stop me." Keelin already had her bag packed. It was sitting at her feet. Rather than her crisp black custom LIS uniform, she was wearing her streetclothes and looked one step above a bum. Where she was standing right now, her manager couldn't so much as leave his own office.

Dace, Keelin's immediate supervisor in the LIS, gave her a calm stare with reptilian eyes. They'd worked together since the Founding ended. Where he was happy to process the mountains of paperwork the Division of Extraplanar Defense's activities generated, Keelin's specialty was throwing herself headfirst into dangerous fieldwork. They made a good team, mainly because they just stood back and let each other do their jobs without interfering.

"I know I can't. You have plenty of time built up. But what's Sylvia gonna think when she finds out you went running after Dagisoi conspiracies again?"

Keelin's cheeks flushed. He couldn't tell if she was angry, embarrassed, guilty, or some mixture of the three. Never knew what kind of reaction he'd get whenever the regional supervisor's name was brought up. He was starting to wonder if they had some kind of history. "J-Just distract her with bullshit reports of a Keeper or something! That's sure to keep her out of our business."

"Alright." His own tone wasn't nearly as confident.

Taking that as enough of a response, Keelin said her goodbyes to Dace. He told her not to die or do anything stupid. After failing to confirm she'd follow his advice, the mountain elf wasted no time at all searching for a particular address in Broken Cliffs.



A storefront? Keelin confirmed the location with the letter in her hand. This didn't feel right. The elf wondered if she should go in with a weapon out. Is it a trap? How did they know about the Craftsman, anyway? Shit, though. I don't wanna alienate them if they're the real deal.

After some deliberation, she realized that she was actually willing to tamp down her own paranoia in order to entertain the slim chance that the information was good. She was also willing, even eager, to do whatever job this Black Dog agency needed in order to get this information. Now that was real desperation.

I'mmmmm gonna regret this. Keelin pinched the bridge of her nose, took a deep breath, and decided on her expression. Then she walked in.

It wasn't really what she expected. Keelin's wandering took her to the smartly dressed woman at the base of the staircase. She glanced at the one person seated at the table, looked away, and then did a double-take. Caught off-guard by the presence of someone she knew, the elf awkwardly waved at Silnimare as she approached the other lady.

"Oh. Uh. Alright."

This whole thing stinks, Keelin thought. Agh! I'm scheming to find information on a counter-conspiracy for a conspiracy, but I might have just fallen into yet another conspiracy! When will this house of cards finally crush me into the mud? Or maybe it has already and I don't know it yet.

'Stop thinking so much, general.'

Keelin hated remembering any advice Lorica ever told her, since it was usually right. Keeping her expression carefully neutral, the elf pulled up a seat next to Silnimare and set her flatbrim hat on the table in front of her.

"We really need to stop meeting like this. People are gonna talk." Although she attempted a lopsided grin to try to seem more dashing than she actually was, her heart wasn't in it. Too much on her mind.


Judgment Slot
 
Since I fill the super special +1 Alice judgment slot for Painted Sands, the number of STs I've participated in is irrelevant and I also don't take up one of the 8 player slots! Cool! I guess there are some perks to being board leader.
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NinjaDog
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Pao thought it odd that he would be invited somewhere, he knew Keelin was off somewhere and this was one of his few days off, so why not take the invitation for free food! He settled into his dog house and read the letter to himself.

'Dear Guardian Beast of the Broken Cliffs, we wish to invite you to discuss a business venture. We are willing to offer you a sizable amount of treats, cooked meats, and belly rubs. Please visit the location mentioned below and we will eat a grand dinner, together. Please take on a more humanoid form so we may talk in earnest.'

Pao's tail began to wag as he barked a few times. He quickly set about arming himself, his red collar was fine, he picked out his dagger and folding sword, fastening them to his collar. With that done he made off into the streets, dipping and dodging between wanderers and eventually slinking into a caravan, hitching a ride for a while until he finally reached his destination... a house with a doggy door. He walked through it and began to cast his spell, a simple shape shifting spell, allowing him to take the form of a human... well, human enough, Pao wasn't the best with this kind of spell, no matter how hard he tried he could never get rid of his tail and ears.

His form changed as he walked, his four legged form turning into a more teenage body, he was tall for his supposed age, thin, his hair white, eyes red, his fur transformed into white ninja garb covering his body, his red collar was now a red belt, showing off the jeweled studs and the weapons strapped to his hip, but he still wore no foot gear.

When he entered the room he ignored the two other women, instead he saw someone he hadn't seen for a long time despite living in the same house. Pao ran forward, shouting, "Keelin! Keelin! Keelin!" He jumped and latched onto her, "Pao loves Keelin!"

He hugged her for a few moments before letting go and looking up at her, "Why is Keelin here? Did these people offer Keelin belly rubs to?"
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Hearne
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Broken Cliffs, Anomaly Quarantine

Hearne stood directly in front of the golden band across the polished stone floor of his cell, head slowly turning to track the ever-shifting barriers and enchantments flowing across the unseen wall. The door opened, spilling lights from cold mage lanterns into the dim candlelight of his personal library and cell. The heels of the visitor's shoes clicked on the floor, coming to a stop several feet behind the line.

"You called for me, sir?"

Hearne didn't acknowledge the clerk's question, continuing to watch the patterns of magic flowing in front of him as if entranced.

"You never call for visitors."

Hearne paused. What lay beneath his hood slipped out of the mind, but he got the impression the creature was smiling. He was suddenly motionless, save for ethereal robes rippling in an unseen wind. Chills ran up the clerk's spine.

"You never call for visitors." it was a whisper, his own voice as if heard in an echo.

"I, err. I'm sorry? If there's anyone you'd like to see, we can always send a message." He was growing nervous. The creature typically spoke in a variety of voices, each seemingly with their own personality, but he had yet to hear this echoing.

"Send a message." The echo was stronger now, clearer. As if heard from across a hall.

"Y-Yes. Is there a message you'd like to send off?"

The figure nodded, lifting a folded parchment with a broken seal. It flicked the page across the line, where it was messily caught by the sweating young man. He read the message aloud, if quietly.

"...have discovered the location of a small grouping of Mage-Eaters that we are willing to share with you, on behalf of the Black Dog Investigative Services..." He trailed off, looking back up to Hearne. He was gone.

"Your mage tank sprung a leak. I took the liberty of plugging it." His own voice was alien to him, but he knew it was his as it was whispered into his ear. The clerk jerked straight as a psychic hand seized his mind, suddenly full of screaming voices rending his thoughts. The clerk, a Thedran refugee mage named Severin, had been working for the LIS as a specialty handler for his countryman's case.

Hearne descended on him.




Hearne rolled up his sleeves, fixing the circular spectacles perched on his nose, and smoothed the wrinkles in his shirt. All were wholly unnecessary, the illusion responding to his instincts, but it helped him keep in Severin's character.

Passing a window, he double-checked his reflection. Slender frame, angular features, a clean shave, grey-brown eyes, and the deep tan skin of his region. Darkening his hair fractionally, he entered the room of his would-be compatriots.

'Severin' clutched his letter in one hand, looking around the room with a thin-lipped smile. The well-kept clerk bowed to the few nearby, crossing his arms and joining the group around Captain Morriganhu and... he struggled for a moment to sift through Severin's memories.

Madaricatu. He knew of the angel-hunter, but had never had the pleasure of meeting her. He'd been too involved in the field to meet with anyone, up to Hearne's captivity. His captivity? The waters of his mind troubled for a moment.

"Misses Morrighanu and Madaricatu, a pleasure. Apologies, Miss Keelin. Mister... beast child." He visibly inspected the young man's ears for a moment before lifting his eyebrows and seeming to move on with a small grunt. "I am Severin. I've heard stories in Broken Cliffs, Miss Keelin. A big fan."

OOC
 
Hearne is currently wearing the guise of his 'deceased' handler, a Thedran LIS agent named Severin. Wearing a very strong Undeniable Major Illusion cast with master arcana and the academic trait.

I've participated in 3 ST events thus far. 4 including Cairns, but I only made the first couple of rounds before rl got in the way and I had to drop without qualifying for rewards.
Edited by Hearne, Thu Sep 28, 2017 9:08 pm.
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Logan
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Empty ruins, already picked over through the centuries or millennia, traps triggered, disarmed, or just broken down from lack of upkeep, leaving nothing but skeletons and dust left behind. It was a complete waste of time for a dungeon crawler like Logan, but at least they made for a good place to hole up for a while before heading off. His pack of assorted critters gathered around him until they got hungry enough to take back off into the wild in search for some fresh game. The werewolf was growing hungry, too, but he had a portal gem as an option for getting anywhere for a quick and warm meal. Maybe that place in Cascadia with the eye-candy were-waitresses and delicious pancakes.

The adventurer could put out the fire, pack up, and take off in an instant. The pack would not get lost without him, they could figure out in about a day where to find him and how to get there. How the animals got up to a flying island on their own, Logan still had no idea, but whatever mysterious means of navigation they were hiding from him were definitely impressive.

The unfamiliar pace of a stranger's boots against the old stone floor echoed off of the old acoustics of the nearly lost ruins. Either another adventurer looking for a payday or one of those weird cultists finally following through on that intimidating presence of their appointed leader.As comfortable as Logan might be just attacking first and asking questions later, if he got himself into an avoidable fight that he could not win then he would be thoroughly screwed.

"Ruins are picked over." He called to the source of the boots as he packed his bedroll, "Unless you're going to scrap a trap for metal."

"I'm not here for the ruins." The voice of a man called out. Gruff Istani accent, weathered with years but fluent in Common tongue. As far as Logan was concerned, that was not a good combination.

With a thought a rain cloud appeared above the werewolf's head, but no water fell upon the gambler on his head, tempted to use its effect to call out to his pack depending on what happened. Water pooled in the air in amorphous blobs, ammunition ready to fuel his watery attacks in case he needed to wash this newcomer out.

Just as he thought, it was an Istani man, but strangely enough he was dressed in Stribergian garb. A finger-waggler with a voice that tough. Spellcasters could be the most obnoxious to deal with.

"Messenger's Guild. I'm not here to fight." The caster-apparent said, stopping a safe distance away from the werewolf as he procured a sealed envelope from thin air, "I'm here to deliver a letter then be on my way."

The self-proclaimed messenger released the letter and let it fly gently by enchantment towards the reluctant werewolf.

"Who the abyss is sending me a letter?" Logan questioned, taking the letter and opening it to find the scrawl within. He took a glance, reading something about a meeting in a flash, but when he looked back up the messenger was gone without a trace, "Abyssmal Messenger's Guildies. Who's springing extra for me?"




. . .location of a rare magic artifact. . .

Well, damn. Somebody knew how to play Logan fairly well. He got this sensation that it might have been a trap of some sort, but at the same time he felt relatively confident in his ability to tackle whatever was thrown at him. The letter came with a specific location that he could find relatively nearby, a short trek away from the ruins to a meet-up regarding the proposition, which made things only more suspicious. Why would somebody pay for a pricey messenger just to have them go all of an hour away from where they were, anyway?

More questions than answers, but the adventurer followed the instructions provided by his goggles to the proper location. Maybe he could wring some answers from whoever.

The directions led him to a shack that seemed to have been lost to the Gwiklith Mountains for far longer than anybody could live in it. Some old runes on the outside glowed faintly with withering arcane power that could not totally save the structure from nature. The old windows were empty, the roof looked like a freeze-frame of falling apart, and the door stood out as a resilient feature against time, practically pristine in comparison.

Definitely suspicious, but Logan would not be a proper adventurer if he did not see what was on the other side. He had some suspicions rolling around in his mind with the disparity between the letter and the structure he was faced with, but there was only one way to confirm any of them.

Backpack with camping gear readjusted slightly to sit a bit better on the werewolf's shoulders, a deep breath as he prepared for the worst, and the werewolf went forward to test his luck.




Not entirely what he was expecting, but the interior definitely aligned with one of his suspicions. As he looked around at the interior, larger than the shack, with internal lighting from the windows different than the outside he left. Logan lifted the goggles off of his wolfen face to get a clear look with his own two eyes at what was around him, letting the eyewear sit on his forehead and tilt his dark hat upwards as he tried to get a better sense of where he was, confusion clear on his face.

There was a rather large table (at least large compared to what Logan was used to) that was clearly going to be temporary home for the food, somebody who kind of looked like a classic depiction of a butler, a nice fireplace, and at least one familiar form in the dark currently being accosted by a kid who she seemed to know. Well then, Logan could leave her mostly be. . . Well, sort of. Logan still had his refurbished bangle that gave him a confidence boost.

"Damn Keelin, you're popular." Logan noted casually as he dropped his backpack next to a chair he would claim as his own, a midpoint between being near and far the familiar elven angel-hunter as he flopped lazily into the seat, "And who are the rest of y'all? Oh-- I'm Logan, by the by. Adventurer extraordinairre!"
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Keelin
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"What the fu--!"

Before she could end that thought, a kid with dog ears practically tackled her on her chair.

"Pao?! What the-- why are you human? You're my dog!" Realizing she was in a room that was becoming more and more crowded by the second, Keelin's cheeks reddened and she sputtered an explanation: "I mean like, literally a dog, he's my dog, guys-- it's not anything, uh, weird or anything, I know he said he loves me but he's my dog-- literally! Right?" The next breath she took was filled with shaky laughter. She forced a smile through it. "Come on, Pao, just get off me for now. I love you too. Because you're my dog...? Guys, I'm serious, this isn't what it looks like."

Since when can my dog turn into a kid?!

She had to take a minute to fuss over getting Pao a proper seat. Once he was sitting like a normal person, she knelt down to his level in order to include some reminders about acting like a human instead of a dog. The elf rubbed the back of her neck while she nervously explained that -- now that he was shaped like a human -- it would be inappropriate for him to do things like lick her face, sit on her lap, and bark in general.

Sinking back into her chosen seat at the meal-table, the mountain elf was able to regard the entrances of the others. Next was a man she didn't recognize named Severin, who claimed to have heard of her in Broken Cliffs. "I hope the rumors make me look good," she half-joked, pairing an extended hand with a nervous smile. "Nice to meet you. The kiddo's name is Pao. He's usually a dog, so I'm not really sure about... anyway, hope this job doesn't suck, yeah?"

Next up was a familiar voice. Keelin twisted around and pushed her seat back so she could stand up. "Thought I smelled a mangey mutt, and it wasn't Pao! How you doing, my man?" After offering Logan a firm overhanded handshake and a slap on the back with the other hand, she started to feel a tiny bit more normal.

Still, at Logan's comment about her popularity the elf gave her buddy a desperate sort of I-don't-know-why-and-also-please-help-me look.

"So--" She tried to fill a spot of silence. "What brings all of you here? This is a pretty eclectic group already."
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NinjaDog
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Pao's tail began to wag as Keelin sat him down on the neighboring chair. He nodded a few times as she spoke about proper people skills, he nodded, "Yeah, I know Keelin, I'm just excited to see you! You're usually at work or I'm murdering people for belly rubs and snacks! Oh, I'm here because someone wants to give me belly rubs, meat, and treats, it's probably for me to murder someone!"

He looked at the others, standing on his chair and raising his hand, "I'm Pao! I'm an Albino Shiba, I'm Keelin's Ninja Guardian and her dog! See!" He ended the spell, turning into a dog with weapons strapped to his collar.

He stood in his chair and barked a few times, he was so happy to meet so many people, and some of them were Keelin's friends! His paws began to slap the chair as he excitedly tried to decide what to do, but then he remembered the letter and cast the spell again, turning into his child-like state. He smiled, happy to be in such a place, but his next words didn't match his happy face, "If this is a trap and they try to hurt Keelin, I'll hunt them down like I did the people who killed my first Master!"
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Logan
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"Mangy? Never!" Logan laughed, feeling that slap against his back that made his golden eyes go wide but managing to shrug it off. He considered for a moment that mange might make him look practically zombified if he were to contract it, not a pretty look to so much as consider, "Bloody? Definitely! Apparently. Seems I'm violent enough to impress the moons or. . . blood moons or something? I'm not entirely clear on what happened, but yeah! Good stuff happened, some people died, this girl helped me, good stuff. Oh, and I'm an actual werewolf now! Pseudoimmortal, can turn into a dire wolf, the whole thing! Remind me to tell you about it when we're sure things aren't going to go total crapstorm."

That, however, paled into comparison to the next thing. The kid-- no, the dog-- no, Keelin's dog! Keelin had a dog? It probably killed a lot of angels, too. He was a shiba and his canine form looked so soft. The only thing which kept Logan from his normal instinctive response of petting the apparently dangerous critter was that it turned into a boy and that seemed like it might be kind of weird.

"Oh my gods, that's a dog-- no, no, that is a werehuman! A shiba werehuman! Kid-dog Pow, if this is a trap then we're all in for it. Wait, you're a ninja dog? That is awesome!" Logan laughed, genuinely excited. A ninja on top of being a shiba, the thought of the little dog killing people while jumping spryly around was as amusing as it was amazing. The werewolf paused only to address the elf, the apparent owner of this unique specimen of killer, "Would it be a bad idea to pet the ninja dog?"
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X'yros
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What am I Even Doing Here...

The moon that glittered a fading pale light from above lit whatever space was left open from the torches lining the street with a small number of hooded figures marching about. The air was chilled with breaths lingering and rising to the heavens. The ground was still damp and unforgiving from the traveling feet continuously turning the mud that served as the main pathway in the village. An almost deafening sound of drums beating to fierce voices shouting in bursts echoed off the thatch-roof buildings. What figures passed the main beast seemed to have more height than many average humans, and bulkier frames. These were pure-blooded warriors. They sported longer beards that ranged from each individual, but almost all had some sort of decoration. Black tattoos highlighted their dimly-lit faces as their aggressive gaze set forwards to a similar destination. They were throwing a festival for their most recent conquest and thus required all of the men to partake to bring pleasure to the Gods they worshiped. A great horn was blown and the bodies in the street completely dispersed to the towering fire in the outskirts of the stone village.

Thickly-furred dogs, closely related to the wolves of the area, came out from their hiding to find morsels to eat now that the men had left. A few darted back into the darkness when the weightier feed trudged in the mud and spooked them off. A great crimson cloak with tattered ends passed by their shadowy figures as it continued along.

X’yros paused in the middle of the muck with his broad skull turning uncomfortably in darkness. The fire from the street lights added some sort of warmth to his otherwise lead-stained skin while he began to take a few steps forwards, only to pause once again. He had been invited to join these primitive people in their celebration as he had played an enormous role in securing a win for them against their common foe and he had been on his way, but it felt as if someone had been following him. Keen senses gave the position of such a one away. X’yros twisted his skull back over his heavy shoulder, and the rest of his body turned in the motion. Quick darting footsteps from between two buildings caught his attention. A pair of smoldering amber eyes pinned the figure in the darkness. A lean man dressed for the part of a drummer came dashing up to his lumbering form. He held out a piece of parchment towards the beast before scampering off in the opposite direction of the drums. X’yros watched the man fade away before turning to what had just been placed into his curved talonish claws.

“Hmph.”

Reading wasn’t exactly his most favored thing to do at night. He moved closer to one of the flame posts before opening the neatly folded letter. Immediately his eyelids narrowed at the looping letters written by some sort of scholar. It was not what he was expecting for this area.

A drooping snort exhaled his flared nostrils as he quickly crumpled the letter and tossed it into the flames besides him. It fell to the ground and turned to ash. Help with a murder case? Did he look like some sort of detective? X’yros almost chuckled to himself before turning back to continue walking down the street. The buildings passed at his side as his mind continued to ponder why he, of all beings, would be summoned. He, that had broken enough rules to be sentenced to death in the capital city via gladiating event. The ground hardened and sloped downwards as it led him out of the village and in the direction of an enormous mottled tent. Smoke flew from the tops, and the sound of musical instruments with deep throaty song filled him. A few men standing by the entrance flaps nodded their heads and turned to disappear inside. X’yros paused as an odd feeling came over him. Still, how was he found out amongst these barbaric men?

The glowing light from inside the tent gave off a feeling of warmth as his feet brought him to the entrance. His hand grasped the outer fringe and moved the thicker-hide away as he slid to the side through the hole he created. His eyes had seen the men crowded together in a blur of movement, the warm light… Two steps in and it was gone. His feet no longer felt trampled grass, but wooden floor boards. Cold to the clicking of his clawed-toes. The air was still and hair-raisingly quiet despite conversation. The ceiling that had been pitched with great heights was suddenly cramped and forcing the giant into an uncomfortable slouch. The circular pupils cut like swords into nothing more than mere slits even against the dim lighting as they panickly darted about, accompanied with a sharp breath, the raising of the plates along his spine, and the unfurling of his clasped hands that pushed his cloak open to reveal his muscled frame. His lips curled backwards a bit while his hearts searched for a way to settle their thundering beats.

“Wh-”

Was all that was spit out from his gruff lower growling tone as he continued to take in his surroundings. Eventually his eyes found out the creatures in the room, as it was evident he was not alone. A darkly clad woman, a canine?, another… canine sort of person… Screw it. His lips settled and his nostrils opened for a quick drink to tell him what actually sat around the tables in this peaceful area. A familiar taste hit his brain. Immediately his spines settled and he fixed himself back under his cloak. A bit more relaxed, X’yros still looked like he was going to pounce someone. The woman at the foot of the stairs seemed to be the most tense of them all. Her stature was straightened and hesitant. Compared to the relaxed figures surrounding him, it set him off some sort of tip. Perhaps she would be the one to tell him why he was just brought into this mundane place. Or, perhaps not… he wasn’t sure. But he felt uncomfortable under the gaze. X’yros still found himself footed near the exit having a blazing stare-down with his woman, despite anything said to him.The corner of his mouth twitched upwards with a flick of his tongue as he debated whether or not he wanted to maul and shred her to pieces at the very instant, or wait until the others in the room became distracted from him.



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NinjaDog
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Another person came in as the wolfman spoke, Pao shook his head, "Pao is a dog, Pao uses ninja magic to change forms! Keelin has seen me turn into a wolf and even that one time I was a Fenrir! I used an angel's building as a sword, the angels weren't to happy about it, but it's not like they can stop me." In truth he was a high ranked target for the angels, not because of his actions, but because of his abilities and loyalty to Keelin.

When the man asked Keelin if he could pet Pao, Pao shook his head, "No. Keelin is here so only Keelin." He stood up in his chair and looked around the back, the new person was large, some kind of monster? Yes, a monster.

Pao growled even in his human form, climbing on top of the chair and sitting on top of it. He jumped off, knocking the chair over and landing on the ceiling, standing on a beam as he looked down at the creature. Pao growled and began barking, despite being a more humanoid form and hanging upside down from the ceiling from seemingly nothing. He growled, releasing the spell on his human form, returning to the small shiba form. He snarled and barked louder.
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Pyxidus
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Dear sir,

We are writing to request your most urgent
assistance.
The Black Dog Investigative Agency is investigating a most serious
crime of murder, and
hereby proposes to contract a team of qualified individuals
to render assistance. We
hope you will choose to apply. In exchange for your services, we offer the identities of individuals from
Istan who are seeking a Cascadian merchant - perhaps one such as yourself? - interested in a trade partnership.
Should you be enticed by our offer, please join our representative and
your co-applicants for luncheon at the enclosed location. Please accept
our utmost thanks for your consideration.

Sincerely,
B.D.S.A.


Pyx folded the letter and checked his pocket watch. Wasn't it rather odd that an agency was investigating a murder on board an airship, especially as no one had been killed lately? Although, that it was a very large airship, and he could have missed the news if someone had only just been pushed over the railing this morning.

It was a brisk, clear day high above the Gwilikith Mountains, and Pyx had been on the main deck enjoying the sunshine when the letter arrived. As it was nearly lunchtime, Pyx made haste below, where he climbed down several ladders to the cargo hold. He passed the access doors to the larger holds and entered a narrow corridor where many doors led to a number of small storage rooms. It was pitch dark along the corridor, and he uttered a few soft words to ignite a floating magelight in the air before him. He read the numbers painted on the doors, and stopped at door 76.

All of the doors in the cargo hold were locked, and the key was securely attached to the belt of the ship's senior merchant. However, if (unlikely as it sounded) a detective agency was, in fact, meeting in this room to recruit a team to investigate a murder, surely they would have unlocked the door. Right?

Tentatively, Pyx reached out to turn the handle of the door. It opened.

Flickering light from a fire spilled out into the hall, and Pyx banished his magelight, which was a great deal brighter. His eyes hadn't quite adjusted to the flickering shadows as he entered the room, and he collided with an extremely large, heavy piece of furniture that had been placed near the door. Startled, Pyx looked up to see that the object was so large, it barely fit in the room. Also, it had amber eyes and rather pointed fangs.

"AAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!" He threw himself backwards against one of the chairs, tripping over backwards and landing on his backside.

The room was quiet. He looked around in a panic to find himself in... diverse... company. "Oh, hi, everyone," he said sheepishly. A dog was barking. He didn't recognize anyone from the ship's crew or passengers. How had he missed all of these people on the ship for so long? How had they obtained the captain's permission to light a fire? For that matter, where did the chimney go?? Had they all been lured here to be devoured by a giant? Who had smuggled it on board? The Cascadian customs office was in for a shock.

In case you missed it...
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Hearne
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Severin clasped her hand, making an uncomfortable amount of eye contact as he did so. "Almost always." He released her hand, breaking away to place his hands on his hips and face the beast child. His brow furrowed as he watched the child shift back into a dog, then returned to his mixed form. "Curious. Greetings Master Pao." The reedy man bowed a little, looking unsure of whether or not to try to shake the child's hand.

He bowed his head to the werewolf in turn as he made his entrance. He began to speak a welcome when something... new entered. He heard it appear, turning on the spot as Pao began barking at the new arrival.

Whatever it was, it was huge. He flipped through assorted memories, but drew a blank. Hands still on hips, he bent back a little to observe the creature's face, pushing his glasses in place.

Draconian, though certainly different than a majority of those he'd met. Larger specimen. Many scars, likely some type of warrior. He probably hadn't needed the scars to tell that much. Someone entering behind it startled as they ran into it.

"And hello there." He grinned, by all appearances unintimidated by the beast. Approaching he walked a quick circle around X'yros, his walk almost predatory. "Excellent. My name is... Severin" he hesitated as his posture returned to the straight-backed propriety it had been before. Rather than extending a hand, he bowed lightly.

Turning his attention to Pyxidus, his smile grew uncomfortably wide. A mage. He could see it bleeding off him like body heat. The smell of it sharpened the hunger pangs that constantly raked at his core.

"And hello to you also. What might your name be?" He extended a hand to help him up, eyes aglow with new interest.

It was going to be an excellent trip.
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X'yros
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A shrill rise of barking led by the scrambling of claws upon softer wood grabbed the attention of the beast. The noise now came from above him, had he been paying the slightest attention he would of have witnessed a truly bizarre change of state. More movement. Something collided into the hock of his right leg and tumbled backwards releasing a sharp cry into the air that caused his features to wrinkle with distaste. With the top of his arching neck already pressed into the bottom of the rafter, directly beneath the canine, moving freely was simply not an option for him. X’yros turned his neck around to peer around his own wide body, then twisted to glance downwards to the shape of a man scrambling back. It regained balance and brushed itself off.

“Watch it.” His threatening voice rumbled.

X’yros lowered his brow and narrowed his eyelids in an act of annoyance while he released a heavier snort as yet another set of steps echoed upon the floorboards. The one that had bumped into him released a torrent of speech but X’yros paid little attention to anything said. Larger amber eyes now focused on a figure that approached with a smoother gait, one that disturbed his inner being quite deeply. His heavier eyelids narrowed sharply as another inhale of scent laced his brain with distaste, leaving a ripple of discomfort to settle over his being. Something was quite off, he couldn’t tell what it was. Maybe he just didn’t like this individual as a gut instinct, and usually his gut was in a way- right. His plates, though flattened against the rafters of the ceiling, rose like hackles of a dog as those finely placed feet circled him as if looking for some sort of weakness. X’yros didn’t follow with body movement besides the turning of his head which echoed a low vibrating growl from the depths of his chest. Tensed muscles began to relax. Eventually reading that this humanoid was of no threat, he settled.

Severin was apparently this ones name, and the man did a curt bow to end his sentence. X’yros only looked away before responding in his mannerless ways.

“Interesting.”

The behemoth could barely hear himself think over the constant barking from directly above him as his he tore his gaze off of the one calling a greeting to what had ran smack into his leg. Now that his eyes had adjusted without any further interruptions, he scanned this study-resembling room lined with books and numerous places to be seated. He decided that blocking the entrance, or, staying close to the exit, was a fine idea for now.
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Logan
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"We'll see about that, ninja dog! I swear I'll pet you, eventually-- in your dog form! And you will love it, because I give great pets!" Logan swore in an overexaggerated fashion, leaping from his seat to hold a fist aloft towards the creature whose existence less surprised him and more brightened his day. His animal companions were mundane by comparison, even his dire wolf. While they had their secret ways of getting to Cascadia, they showed no real aptitude for classification knowledge like being a ninja.

Logan was not paying attention to any new arrivals, though. He only realized something was up when Pao took to the ceiling, his shiba form, and began barking furiously and the screaming of a man that he had either not taken notice of, or who had just arrived. More slightly interested than feeling a looming threat, Logan turned to see what the source of the commotion was, his golden eyes settling upon the large form of some great lizard man. His voice was thunderous despite being a creature of few words, and the werewolf instinctively looked him up and down to take in the breadth of what beast was before him.

"Okay, now I just feel short." The werewolf mused, unthreatened and now wondering what sort of job would require such an eclectic group. Some blind woman, a shapeshifting dog, an angel hunter, whatever the one guy was, and a werewolf, were so far the group, "Anyway, when's food coming? I was promised dinner in the letter."
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