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Arctic

[IC Thread] The World of Ash

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The World of Ash

 

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Click here to go to the out-of-character thread!

 

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There's additional information that will explain things like creatures, dangers, weapons, food, radiation, et cetera below – highly recommended to read, but not required.

 

On the grand timeline of the universe, all things will come to an end – from something as simple as a walk down the street to something as elegant as the flight of an asteroid to something as intense as the ultimate heat-death of the Universe. And so it happened, the age of civilization for the human race came to an end on a fateful day in December of 2123. How it came to pass, modern scholars may only speculate, but at the end of it many nations lay in ruins, cities of millions wiped out in an instant by the heat, the light and the shock of atomic weapons. This was, of course, the Last Nuclear War – technically the first as well, though that isn't quite so striking a name.

 

In the years immediately following, the remaining 0.7 percent of the human population (approximately one hundred fifty million individuals) were coaxed out to lay the foundation of a new society. In the wasteland, which lay under a constant mix of irradiated snow and ash, many cities were built, and many fell. Over many decades, a structure of what could be called a controlled crucible of chaos emerged. Towns of simple folk who wanted only to live, groups of raiders and bandits who wanted nothing more than to kill, vigilantes who wanted to protect (and often failed in doing so).

 

Years passed. Society developed, the human population eventually began to grow. The equator was practically the only place that lacked snow, and then only in the days of summer when the sun was high in the sky. Heat became a commodity, wood was traded like gold. Food became a luxury. Some groups made huge profit by setting up hydroponics farms, where simple things like tomatoes were grown with artificial light and filtered water. Such endeavors were expensive, but in the end, only settlements which had a connection to such people managed to thrive.

 

Almost exactly a century later in 2214, the Yellowstone supervolcano blew up. Now began the “Eternal Gray”, a mixture of old atomic smoke and new volcanic ash that blocked out the sun and made nearly any attempts at above ground farming destined for failure. Temperatures around the earth rarely reached above freezing. Again, humans had to struggle up the ladder, attempt to rebuild, always looking to the future and questioning the past. Not much has changed since then. Now, over a hundred years later, there still exists a frozen wasteland filled with undiscovered mystery, with danger and perhaps with hope. This is Earth, a World of Ash.

 

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The two sections below (Setting and Rules) are required to be read.

 

Setting: The RP takes place in California around ~2324, though nobody knows what year it is for sure (mostly for lack of caring - doubtless, there are methods for obtaining such information). Many cities have been leveled, but megacities like Sacramento, San Francisco and Los Angeles and remain standing, albeit as abandoned, volatile concrete jungles. These are good places to scavenge, but to enter is to put your fate in the hands of luck, as death is an inevitability if one lingers too long. All corners of the Earth are covered with snow. While radiation isn't an incredible issue anymore, blizzards now ravage the surface. The cold and starvation are the most volatile risks and the biggest killers. Temperatures can dip as low as -40° Fahrenheit, and only rarely rise above freezing. We will start within the area around San Francisco.

 

Rules:

• Try not to introduce anything major without permission (for instance, being led through the snow by another player, then arbitrarily making a Raker attack). It's a form of powerplaying. I might implement a sort of 'GM' system, where anyone listed as such can make important things happen in the world.

• This RP is intended to be mature, but follow forum rules. Cursing is allowed, but censor it, and try to minimize it as best you can. Additionally, stray away from unnecessarily gruesome details unless it contributes to the roleplay.

• This RP is intended to be literate. Be as descriptive as you can (this helps minimize confusion), but I'm not going to chew you out if you opt to just write a few sentences, so long as they contribute sufficiently.

• Use common sense – always – unless it's in your character's nature not to.

• No metagaming (to take information which you should not know, or which you learned OOCly, and apply it in character).

• No powergaming (to manipulate your actions so that the other has no chance of retaliation, or to manipulate another's actions without consent).

• If you have any questions, ask me. I can be harsh sometimes, but at the end of the day, I just want people to have fun.

• You are allowed and encouraged to suggest things to add in to the RP. Private message me if you have such things.

• I retain the right to kill off characters, but I don't see me doing this much. This occurs mostly when straying away from the 'common sense' rule.

• No Mary Sues.

• All characters must be at least eighteen – you can get permission for younger if you really want.

• Multiple characters are allowed.

• Use proper grammar!

• I reserve the right to add, remove and change information and rules in this post. I'll notify people when I do.

• Please stay as active as you can.

• Have fun, and if you have any complaints, talk to me.

• Add the sentence 'In a land of ash, only misery may grow' in the 'Other' section of your application.

• The introductory post will include the specific setting – wait until I set it up in order to begin on your post.

 

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Please private message your application to me.

[B]Username:[/B]  
[B]Full Name:[/B]  
[B]Age:[/B]  18 and up unless you get special permission.  Delete this text.
[B]Gender:[/B]  
[B]Occupation:[/B]  You're free to make your character whatever you like, but keep in mind that many occupations will restrict participation in RP, as many jobs are only found within settlements and it's doubtful you would have any reason to leave.  Leave this blank, delete it or just write N/A if you're a wanderer or scavenger or the like.  Delete this text.
[B]Description:[/B]  You may use a picture, but it is *STRONGLY* preferred that you describe your character in detail.  Please put in additional description if you use a picture.  Delete this text.
[B]Personality:[/B]
[B]Skills:[/B]  
[B]Strengths:[/B]  
[B]Weaknesses:[/B]  
[B]Attire (Clothing):[/B]  This includes any armor, if applicable.  Delete this text.
[B]Armaments:[/B]  Melee weapons and firearms, for instance.  Keep in mind that any advanced weaponry (energy rifles of any flavor) would likely be buried deep away in abandoned bunkers or have ceased to work.  They exist, but they're rare.  If you have an idea for a weapon you want but you're unsure if it's acceptable, private message me, or just send the application and I'll tell you if it's okay.  Delete this text.
[B]Equipment:[/B]  Anything else that might have been missed.
[B]History:[/B]  If you'd like this to be hidden when I add it to the main post, request it.  Many people like having mysterious characters.  I need you for me, however, to include any information I need to know.  Delete this text.
[B]Other:[/B]  

 

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Any feedback of any sort is appreciated. Suggestions involving content is especially appreciated, as I sort of want the roleplayers to have a say in what the world is like and how dangerous it really is.

Edited by Arctic

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Any information that's relevant to the roleplay will be added here – creatures, factions, weapons, locations, basic terminology, etc. You're free and encouraged to suggest anything via private message.

 

 

MAP: Updated May 25th, 2013

  • MAP KEY:
    • Black Text - prewar city or urban center.
    • Grey Text - point of interest.
    • Blue Dot - settlement.
    • Red Shading - Blood Pack territory and area of influence - does not represent the size of any city or settlement, just the Pack's territory.
    • Blue Shading - independent territory. The area claimed by whatever settlement is nearby. Does not represent the size of the settlement, just its territory.
L O R E
  • Culture: Ethnic culture has largely dissipated (due in part to small and mixed population). Instead, culture generally revolves around the area where a given settlement exists. The farther you travel, the more it varies.
  • Currency: Some settlements have started adapting coins as a form of trade, but it's generally much safer to trade on an item-for-item basis. Food is a very valuable trade commodity, especially sweets. Coins include (listed from least to most valuable) tin, copper and iron. There's no set value to them, so shopkeeps are at their own discretion how much they want to charge or pay for something.
  • Farms: Traditional above-ground farming is nearly impossible. Instead, the word "farmer" refers to those who work underground in large hydroponics farms, artificially growing vegetables and other delicacies. It can be a very profitable business, though it's very dangerous as farms are highly desirable to control. A risk of bandit interference is major. In addition, the fuel supply needed to power such large installations and the relative rarity of suitable locations leads the business to be an expensive endeavor only to succeed in the hands of very well equipped groups.
  • Firearms: A lot of firearms exist in the world, but many of them are broken and sold as salvage or stripped apart and used to repair existing guns. Firearms come in many shapes and sizes, but any energy based weapons are incredibly rare and require specialized batteries.
    • Primitives: Weapons in the 'primitive' group include bows and crossbows, which are widely used by hunters. Such weapons are rarely used (successfully) against bandits.
    • Sham Gun: Also known more commonly as “scrap guns”, these are custom made firearms manufactured after the war. They vary widely in just about anything you can think of and only a very select few trusted designs are widely produced. More often than not, one is different from the next, even if it's in a small way. They can be chambered in any sort of cartridge – some are even muzzle loaders, but those are rarely used for much else but hunting. The most common sort of firearm found in the World of Ash is a sham bolt action rifle, normally chambered in .223 Remington. Quality of design varies a lot.
    • Old World Gun: This refers to any ballistic firearm from before the war, such as an M16 or a Glock (or something more "modern" in relation to the timeline). These tend to be uncommon, as most that are found are inoperable and are reduced to scrap and repair parts. Those that do exist are generally trusted more than sham weapons. You're more than welcome to create your own old world gun. There was, after all, a century of development from now until the war hit.
    • Caster: These are exceptionally rare old world guns that are based on using directed plasma to fire volleys of energy. They require specialized battery packs that are few and far between – ammunition is worth a ton. Additionally, they're reknown for being hard to operate, but there's not much else more deadly in the wasteland than an experienced fighter armed with a caster.
  • Flora & Fauna: Various plants and animals still exist, despite the abundance of snow and ice. The plants have become noticeably smaller and slow growing. Generally, the only sort of tree you'll now find are pines, which appear in small clumps amongst the snow and, occasionally, in large woods. Various herbs and roots have adapted to a colder climate, most of them edible, but finding them poses difficulty. At best, they're under a thin layer of frost. At worst, they're under a few feet of thick snow. Animals such as mountain lions, caribou, elk, moose, hawks, antelope and rodents (squirrels, mice and rats, mainly) still exist, and provide a source of food for humans.
  • Food: There are some plants that have adapted to the cold weather, and quite a few of them can be eaten. While none of them have high energy content, they can be life or death to a starving traveler. The staple foods of the new world are bread, canned goods (salvage) and meat. Hydroponic farms tend to generate a moderate amount of fruit and vegetables, which are delicacies.
  • Mutation: Mutations are prevalent in the wasteland, but not common. These can range from slight bone malformations to something as serious as growths on the skin or someone being born without limbs. Most heavily mutated individuals are sterile. In addition, there are several types of creatures out in the wasteland that have been mutated over the centuries to take on different traits and managed to procreate.
  • Other Weapons: Guns and bows aren't the only means of self defense. A great number of people rely on clubs, daggers and axes, among other things. It isn't uncommon to hear of people hunting with throwing hatchets or javelins. Luckily, many melee weapons survived the war, and many more are made by blacksmiths.
  • Religion: Post-apocalyptic Earth is a deeply religious place. Many people hold a belief of an afterlife, predominantly sparked by the fear and commonality of death. Christianity (although it's been morphed quite a bit over the years) is still the major religion in America.
  • Slaves: Many raiders capture people and take them as slaves, which they then sell to travelers, merchants, other raider groups and et cetera. There are very few settlements which allow the trading of slaves, most of them bandit controlled.
  • Vehicles: Vehicles do exist in the wasteland, and they generally run on crude fuels made from genetically modified algaes (which were synthesized before the war, of course). Additionally, many cars have been skeletonized, the only protection from the cold often being a single windscreen. This process is done to lessen the weight, thereby increasing speed and decreasing fuel consumption, and to improve ease of maintenance. There are no helicopters or airplanes to speak of, and boats are used very infrequently. Horses and other riding animals are often opted for instead of cars. At the same time, those same animals often meet an early end in the snowdrifts.
T E R M I N O L O G Y
  • The Gray/The Eternal Gray: A dramatic name given to the thick, dark clouds that constantly hang overhead, block out the sun and drop snow, sleet and hail upon the Earth.
  • The Metro: Refers to the subway systems that often lie beneath the megacities, and often contain quite a bit of danger and mystery. Also used to refer to sewer systems and maintenance tunnels.
C R E A T U R E S
  • The Outland - also known as 'The Expanse'. This is the non-urban area outside of cities, where most wanderers and hunters operate and where most settlements are established. It's where “civilized” life is. For the most part, the Outland is comprised of snowy forests and plains. Excluding birds, most of the creatures who live in the Outland rarely venture near cities.
    • Wolf – wolves are amongst the most dangerous predators in the Outland, and also the most common. They hunt in packs, biding their time. When a lone, weary traveler disappears without a trace, it's often attributed to the wolves. They're almost an exact echo of the wolves of today, the only difference being that these wolves are almost exclusively white.
    • Rabbit – rabbits, almost always colored white, are very common. They're hunted quite frequently for their fur and meat.
    • Elk – light-colored, pale-furred elk. They're very common and amongst the most commonly hunted animals. Elk venison is the most common meat trafficked in the World of Ash.
    • Moose – moose are very large game and, if faced with a threat, tend to have the gusto to defend themselves. There's no shortage of reports of would-be game hunters being gored by angry moose.
    • Bear – grizzly bears, migrating south after the snow fell, normally keep to themselves. They're sought after for their fur, but taking one down is no easy task, particularly when good guns are a scarcity.
    • Mountain Lion – if the disappearance of a traveler isn't attributed to a wolf, it's going to be attributed to a mountain lion. They're intelligent, solitary hunters who prey on any form of smaller game. Sometimes, towns will go so far as to place bounties on certain lions, simply because they've been attacking or killing the local population.
    • Vulture – vultures, colored brown and gray, are the most easily recognizable bird. They circle above the dead and dying, whether an animal or a man. They're very much like modern day vultures.
    • Hawk – hawks (as a species) have grown in size somewhat since the nukes fell, to the point where they've become a danger to humans. It's not unheard of for reports to surface of a newborn being wrenched from her mother's arms, or a scavenger's dog being taken from him. These birds are endangered and a rare sight.
  • The Metro – a term that refers to the abandoned subway tunnels below San Francisco (and in other places). Generally used in reference to all underground construction, including sewers and maintenance tunnels.
    • Lurkers – the term “lurker” refers to a human infected by the rabies-II virus. The virus itself was mutated by radiation and is perhaps the only successful mutant virus. While dogs and other animals can get infected (and in turn infect humans), humans are the only ones that don't die within a week of the onset of symptoms. After infection, an incubation period of one to two weeks passes before the virus begins to affect the central nervous system. Much like the pre-war rabies virus, it can be treated before then, but medication is rare and can only be synthesized by certain skilled doctors that are well equipped and have access to rare materials. Once the symptoms begin to show, the virus is virtually untreatable.

       

      Lurkers are irritable creatures, and widely considered to no longer be human. There are not-too-uncommon reports of them talking and sometimes even conversing, but those same reports normally emphasize the unintelligibility of their speech, dismissing all of it as the ravings of madmen. Lurkers are violent and territorial. The only indication of their diseased state at a distance is their jittery, twitchy movements. They're often covered with blood, wear torn up clothing and have cuts and bruises all over them. The rabies-II virus takes control of the immune system to an extent, eliminating other diseases that may be a threat to the host.

       

      Lurkers are common knowledge, and are normally found in isolated little alcoves in the Metro where they live their lives, though a great many still live above ground. Lurkers don't respond well to the cold (normally because they don't have the knowledge to bundle up, preferring to find warmth elsewhere), meaning they're rarely found outside, which makes exploring abandoned buildings a particularly dangerous activity. Many of them won't attack unless they view you as a threat or you encroach on their territory. They're fully capable of using melee weapons and some have learned how to operate firearms. If there's one solace to be had with lurkers, it's that they only bite when they're desperate.

    • Rat – a simple rat that can be found in the Metro and abandoned buildings. Rarely found outside.
    • Dirrat – a corruption of 'dire rat'. These are very common in the Metro, but rare anywhere else. They're large, carnivorous rats with jagged teeth and lithe bodies. More often than not, their faces are marred with scar tissue and tumors from the fights and waste they get in to. They'll rarely attack explorers unless in large groups. They're about the size of an average housecat.
    • Mocasin – one of the only common snakes found anywhere in The World of Ash, and rarely found anywhere but underground. They're warm blooded and venomous, but they're not aggressive. They're territorial, and make their presence known through loud snarls created by a sack in their throat. While their venom isn't usually enough to kill a man (it will leave them bedridden for weeks), there's a good chance that the bite carries with it flesh-eating bacteria which causes acute necrosis. They're usually white and blind, which makes them fairly easy to spot in the gray & black environment of the Metro.
    • Spore Growth – certain areas of the Metro are highly toxic, and some of such areas have spore growths to blame. They emit clouds of toxic spores that can kill within a few minutes, though they only do that if you're lucky. Spore growths appear as bioluminescent blue and green plant growth that sticks to walls and hangs from ceilings. It's a mixture of moss and vines. They're poisonous to the touch, causing rashes and chemical burns, but their main harm is in breathing the spores they release. Gas masks are advised.
  • The Bay – widely polluted due to fallout. It carries with it an unreasonable amount of radiation, though it isn't as much as a concern as the frigid temperatures or the creatures lurking within, both of which would kill you far more quickly.
    • Steelfin – Steelfins are small fish, and perhaps the most common one to be caught, cleaned and sold. They're soft and easy to handle. Best of all, they have an inherent resistance to the radiated water, meaning they can be eaten with minimal fuss. Unfortunately, they carry an unpleasant taste, and it's more often than not served salted. They're most likely descended from pacific cod.
    • Armorfish – Armorfish are large fish that have been so changed by radiation that it's nearly impossible to decipher a common ancestor. They're heavy, powerful and hard to catch, with sharp fins capable of severing lines. For this reason, their meat is a delicacy. Eating it in abundance carries with it a risk of radiation poisoning, but it has a pleasant taste and goes good with just about anything. They're called “armorfish” due to the almost crab-like chitin that surrounds their bodies, which protects them from even tyrant sharks in some cases.
    • Tyrant – tyrant sharks are grotesque, mutated creatures. They're brown-gray and have mottled skin with seemingly random spines growing on their carapace. They're roughly the size of a great white, though far more lean and thin, and quite fast. Their mouth contains rows of jagged, sharp, uneven teeth, each one differing in size compared to the others. The teeth bring to mind an array of disorganized knives. Tyrants claim more people than anyone cares to admit, sometimes going as far as to bash sheets of ice to cause people to fall in. They're not nice creatures.
    • Ray – a stingray. Oddly enough, aside from small fish and crabs, these are perhaps the least mutated animals. Some might have two whip-like tails instead of one, but that's become a genetic trait as opposed to an immediate product of radiation.
  • The Outskirts– the buildings and construction around the outside of San Francisco, as well as the various suburbs of the megacity.
    • Android – androids are commonly found in cities, though seldom found in anything close to working condition. They're common knowledge. Most are metallic husks found heaped in corners of old buildings. They come in all shapes and sizes - some are blocky industrial robots used for heavy lifting in warehouses, while some meant for human resource work might have an approaching-human. No android (except for a select few prototypes that never saw mass production) looks entirely human. There are always seams and other key characteristics that can be used to easily tell humans and human-like androids apart. Only a select few android models could be consider "self-aware" or learning machines. Most were simply coded to a specific purpose. Furthermore, since their parts are so specialized, "dead" androids tend not to be worth anything more than scrap. Also found in the city itself.
    • Hound – near the edge of San Francisco, packs of wild dogs, marred and scarred by past battles, many bearing signs of mutation, roam the abandoned lots and collapsed buildings. They're vicious and hungry, and mean trouble for anyone who happens to be scavenging nearby. They'll sometimes be infected with the rabies-II virus.
    • Raker – rakers are curious beasts. Their mutation is extreme, yet it's “complete”. They're not grotesque. They resemble large, nimble lizards with an armored carapace covering their back and skull. They're reminiscent of alligators with a shortened jaw, longer tail and lengthened legs. They're quite good at climbing, which makes for bad news for anyone trying to seek shelter in tall buildings. They sometimes bury themselves in the snow to ambush prey. They're colored white and normally have striking blue eyes. They're about the same size as a komodo dragon – perhaps slightly smaller.
  • The City - referring to San Francisco in particular. Wildlife would vary city-to-city.
    • Since no reasonable amount of people have been inside, there'd be only myths. There are plenty of them, though. San Francisco is one of the most closed off cities there is, which is largely in part of post-nuke efforts to fortify and block off the city.
  • Wasteland – refers to any significantly radiated or dangerous area. Also referred to as 'wastes'. Los Angeles is an example of a wasteland. Creatures vary widely depending on location. There aren't many wastes around San Francisco, but there may be some inside or beneath it.
    • Mutant creatures and stuff go here~.
C I T I E S & L O C A T I O N S
  • Los Angeles: Also known as Angel's Point, the City of Angels and the Hellscape. This prewar megacity was hit hard by nuclear ordnance. Even today, it's a wide berth of twisted scrap metal and ruined buildings. Mutated creatures run rampant. Radiation and a polluted, unbreathable atmosphere hang over the city, as well as what seems to be an eternal hurricane of ash. Only the brave and the foolish go to Los Angeles to look for fortune, but those who succeed often come out with valuables. For the experienced only.
  • San Francisco: A prewar megacity that was virtually untouched by nuclear ordnance. Although it experienced light bombing and riots in excess after the war hit, the only presence of radiation is that which seeped in from the surrounding area and that which resulted from the meltdown of a nuclear power plant not too long after armageddon. There are many settlements nearby, though the closest to the city itself is Winterbury. The city is very difficult to get inside due to collapsed freeways, car pileups and raider activity, all grouped together and called "The Wall". Those that manage to get in are often not seen again. All bridges leading in to the city have collapsed.
    • San Francisco Greater Metropolitan Area: Places like San Mateo, San Jose and Redwood City are included. Normally, there isn't much activity in these parts except for caravans, scavengers, raiders and mutant beasts. There are several small settlements in and around these outlying suburbs. Prime scavenging area.
  • Oakland: A developed area across the bay from San Francisco. Several settlements exist in this area, but all of them are under Blood Pack control. A good place to scavenge, though if the Blood Pack catches you in the area without authorization, you'll likely be put to death.
  • Las Vegas: Rarely ever visited due to its location in the Mojave Wastes. Said to be virtually untouched by nuclear apocalypse, but worn down to the bone from raging, radiation-infested ashstorms that sweep across the barren tundra surrounding it. Known to be a good place to find prewar relics, but anything of actual use is hard to come by. There are plenty of myths surrounding the city itself.
S E T T L E M E N T S
  • Bowport: A small Blood Pack settlement with few civilian residents (those kept around are strictly for maintenance). Located at the San Francisco international airport, it acts as a port town for ferries coming from and going to Treasure Island/Oakland to dock at. Anyone may purchase a ticket here, though keep in mind that while you're in Pack territory, you abide by their rules or face consequences.
  • Charlestown: The largest independent city in the greater San Francisco area, population approaching fifteen thousand. Ruled on socialist ideals and often said to have corrupt officials. Located in the ruins of Pleasanton, the people of Charlestown are well on their way to rebuilding the city. Power stations have been restructured and some buildings even have plumbing, although water is rationed to almost ridiculous extents. Aside from the sizable equipment and meat markets, Charlestown has a well guarded hospital and medical staff to boot. Perhaps the one location near San Francisco capable of synthesizing shots for Rabies-II. Additionally, produces quite a few firearms, a small abundance of ammunition and a considerable amount of fresh produce. Oftentimes the first stop for people coming in to the area from the northeast.
    • Graham Airfield: Renamed after one of the key founders of Charlestown. It's been walled off by the militia of the settlement, situated a small distance away. Generally assumed to be a training center for the militia, though the soldiers who've been inside say it has some closed off factories and hydroponics arrangements.
  • Dorado: Built on the remains of Treasure Island. The main city of the Blood Pack and its citizens, numbering several thousand in population. Has a few hydroponics farms, power facility and a working desalination plant. Testament to the power of the faction. The only ways in to the city are by ferry or from Oakland over the bridge.
    • Alcatraz: Nobody knows what it's used for for certain, but the Blood Pack holds Alcatraz. It may be used as a fortress, prison or factory - nobody knows for sure. It's under guard and only high ranking soldiers (and their guests) are allowed to go there by ferry.
  • Junktown: A shanty village located in the ruins of a megamall north of Alameda Naval Base. Numbers a few thousand in population and known to be the least reputable city around. Made of thieves, beggars, etc. It's also a major trade hub and is patrolled by Pack enforcers. Brothels and salvage markets line the aisles.
  • Leone: A small settlement near the edge of Pack territory in northern San Leandro. Mostly left alone by the Blood Pack. It's unremarkable, carrying approaching eight hundred people, but has a small hydroponics farm as well as medical facilities and a couple reknown doctors.
  • Luther City: Situated in an old warehouse. An unremarkable town over all with only around a thousand souls. Struggles to get by and establish a foothold in Hayward.
  • Moffett: Established in, on and around the remains of an old airport (after which it's named). Rather unremarkable except for its fish market, which is unmatched. Also a port city, so there are often ferries that will take you up the coast for a fee.
  • Proposa: Established in the remains of an old mall, though there are many buildings around it that have been barricaded and are under control. The smallest town to have a working power station, which it uses to power multiple hydroponics farm. The number one place (barring Charlestown) to buy fresh produce. The people who inhabit this town are rather difficult to work with, however - weapons have to be turned in before you enter and you have to put up with near militaristic rule. Travelers tend to only seek shelter here if night time is approaching or if there's a bad storm on the way.
  • Shearwater: An unremarkable port town established on a suburban jetty. Has a decent fish market and also has a small firearms and ammunition factory set up.
  • Winterbury: A medium sized trading settlement established in the mountains outside of San Mateo. The population is well in to the hundreds and it has its own hydroponics farm. It caters mostly to the scavenger population of the area, providing a place to trade in salvage and a handful of inns for people to sleep. Independent, not affiliated with any faction. Built against a cliff with high walls to protect from attack (though that doesn't stop raiders from occasionally trying).
F A C T I O N S
  • The Blood Pack: The most well known group of bandits, and perhaps the only one that's extensively organized. They have a small city hosted on Treasure Island that deals in scrap trade, slave trade and other miscellaneous business. They're present around the San Francisco area, but the majority of their presence is in Oakland, where the bridge from Treasure Island leads. Surprisingly enough, they're not known for being unnecessarily cruel. Those under their care are given adequate food and shelter, but they deal in slaves and have a strict code that needs to be followed. If their code is broken, by their own or by outsiders, it results in torture or death. Led by a man known as Rojcha Coirales.
  • Farmers: Usually, hydroponics farms are hosted in old abandoned civil bunkers or the basements of large buildings. These buildings are more like towns, but everyone within is dedicated to the production of produce. It is very difficult to gain entry to most of these installations. They're independent merchants, and usually very well guarded. Some settlements may run their own farming operations, or settlements may instead develop around farms.
  • Raider: Also called bandits. These are savages in the wasteland who have formed “tribes” and aim rob you, take you as a slave, kill you or worse. They want nothing more than to have a society where the winner takes all and the guy with the biggest gun rules. There are many of these folks, and they come in various shapes and sizes. There could be a lone sniper who just has desire to kill, or there could be a group of twenty who constantly attack and raid settlements. Some tribes practice cannibalism.
  • Scavenger: Though most scavengers operate independently, there are some tight knit groups dedicated to the recovery of prewar relics. This isn't so much a faction as it is a common career in the wasteland.
L E G E N D S
  • Ghosts – ghosts are perhaps the most common legend there is. Tales vary from teller to teller. Some ghosts are conjurations that appear of ash and snow, swirling and moving against the winds of a storm. Others are shadows that stand in the darkness of tunnels, always in the corner of your vision, watching you. Some say ghosts appear as shadows that follow you. Many, many people believe in spirits, but there are many different types to be believed in.
  • Scrake – scrakes are supposedly what becomes of those who get lost and die in the metro underground of some Californian cities. More often than not, they're essentially said to be walking cadavers, any semblance of life pulled out of them. While their heart still beats, their mind lies dead and dormant. They're supposedly very pale and very gaunt and normally bald. Their clothing, like a lurker's, is normally torn and shredded. More disturbing, however, is the tumor-like growths that are said to cover them; black thorns breaking their skin all over, from their arms to their face. Some grow straight, some curl around, but all of them end sharply like spears. In close quarters fights, the growths would have the potential to be fatal. Unlike other legends, there is tangible evidence that Scrakes exist – photographs. They're all grainy, blurry and dark, though, so it tends to be accepted that such things are fake.
  • The Sanguines – more a historical legend than anything, it's said that the Blood Pack rose from the ashes of a postwar utopia that had nearly achieved a level of peace and decadence that existed before the bombs fell. It's said that the name 'Blood Pack' comes directly from the name of this group.
  • Puppetmaster – used as a tale of warning in the San Francisco area. Generally, it's said that there lives in the city a mutant creature of incredible power, enough to the point where it can generate psionic effects on any man foolish enough to venture near. It's said to be able to cause hallucinations, migraines and eventually to simply break your mind and control you, thus the name. This legend alone keeps many people from trying to enter the city.
  • The Arlington Expedition – at some point in the not-so-distant past, it's known there was a revolt in the ranks of the Blood Pack. To what extent it was peaceful and to what extent it was violent isn't known. It ended rather abruptly and quickly. A story has circulated that the revolutionaries made their way in to San Francisco and were never heard again. What happened after that depends on who tells the story – some believe that their minds were corrupted by an otherworldly artifact in the city center and they blew the bridge leading in to the city, some think they outright died, some think they were horribly mutated. The leader of the revolt went by the name of Arlington, thus the name.
  • Extraterrestrials – you'll occasionally hear stories about people who claim that they've seen lights illuminate the clouds from above in the dead of night, that airships will zoom over the landscape, stirring up snow and dirt in their wake. Madmen might talk about how snowstorms are a product of aliens in order to keep people from seeing their activities. Some even claim that aliens ruined the Earth in the first place. Despite all this, nobody can seem to really describe one. The sane often dismiss these ravings as fantasy.
  • The Sunlit Valley – this tale originated about thirty years ago somewhere in south California and it spread like a wildfire simply because of how vivid it was described. A traveler claimed to have found a pristine, untouched valley somewhere in Utah, where the towns were untouched, the snowfall was soft and the sun even broke through the clouds more than once in a blue moon. The story has sent many, many hopeless people on a journey in search of salvation.
  • Hellscape – a contrast of the Sunlit Valley, this tale is a hopeless one. It also has a more specific location – Los Angeles. It's unclear when it arose. While it's no secret that the greater Los Angeles area was bombed to oblivion and twisted in to radiated scraps of concrete and metal, many travelers who catch a glimpse of the destruction (and live to tell it) say that the devastation is spreading outwards; in short, many fear that the ruins are spreading and overtaking the world, and that nothing will be able to live once it happens.
  • The Immortals – it's said that there are immortal God-like beings that roam the earth still. People who were around before the bombs fell that are somehow still alive. These tales exist all over the United States, but what's said depends on who tells it.
  • The East Coast – this legend is easily debunked, and only believed by the sheltered. It's said that the East Coast was completely untouched by nuclear holocaust, and that people on the western shore live under a quarantine. In truth, travelers from the east coast can say the truth; that the entire eastern seaboard was reduced to a decrepit wasteland, and that entire megacities stand dormant and filled with mutants.
  • Genetic Abnormality – while not by any means a legend, people with uncommon physical traits are sometimes held in mythic status. People of unusually tall height (over six and a half feet normally) are regarded by some as superhumans, while people with red hair are often seen as either bad or good luck depending on where you're from. Feel free to be creative with this, as the myths regarding physical traits are wide and varied.
__________________________________________________________________

 

Contributors:

• Arctic

• 9pmg5665

• Limitless

Edited by Arctic

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Username: Arctic

Full Name: Jovah Euton

Age: 27

Gender: Male

Occupation: Scavenger / Wanderer

Description: Jovah is a tall individual, standing at 6'3" even, but is by no means large.  He's a natural ectomorph, giving his body a slender, lanky look to it.  He certainly has muscles, but they aren't too prominent, being more athletic and toned rather than stacked.  His face is pale and has some Asiatic features to it, though such traits most likely come from long-dead relatives, as he's predominantly white.  His hair is a dark, chocolate brown and he wears it back in a small ponytail, while his jaw hosts a full (but not too thick) beard.  He has a scar across the center-right of his neck that arches around and follows his jawline up and under his hair and behind his right ear.  His hands are calloused and often dirty, and he's missing his right pinky finger.  His expression tends to have a certain calmness to it, as if he's eternally contemplating, and his light brown eyes often show a sort of cautious kindness.  The same traits are expressed in his voice, which (while being rather deep) comes off as almost paternal in nature sometimes.

Personality: Jovah is a quiet man with a mind meant for contemplation.  He's never been one for the arts or for music.  His interest lay in three specific areas: what was, technology and what may be.  He looks back on the past with a peculiar fondness and has a drive to uncover and refurbish lost relics, particularly those of high tech origins.  It isn't particularly old tech that he's interested in, however.  He very much appreciates the ingenuity in many post-war goods, and often takes time out of his day and scrap from his salvage load to “improve” on designs.  While he's never attempted to make a weapon from scratch, he can usually find a way to make them better.  All of this ties in to his final area of interest – the future.  If he had a goal in life, it would most definitely be to improve the days of tomorrow for the children of today, ideally using the skills he has.  He has no idea how to do so, so for now it's only a pipe dream.  He has no illusion of living long enough to carry such things out, anyway – many people in his field of work are dead by age 30.  He's generally approachable and smooth with movements and words, but tends to come off as withdrawn and in his own little world.  When he's feeling intense emotion, it tends to be obvious by expression only.  He could be more angry than he's been in his life, and all you might hear is a slight waiver in his voice.

Skills: Jovah is what is known as a “high-risk scavenger”.  Rather than root through abandoned scrapyards and small commercial centers, he's one of a handful of people who are willing to frequent bigger cities and old industrial yards in search of lost treasures.  Due to his job, he's developed the ability to mentally map his surroundings with astounding efficiency.  Additionally, due to high concentration of aggressive creatures, he's learned to fire his rifle with almost pinpoint accuracy.  He's quite good with repairing things and has decent medical knowledge.  He lacks, however, in skinning and preparing meat, or identification of edible plants.  He relies on scavenged goods and on others for those things.

Strengths:

• Quick and agile.

• Decent reflex - good reaction times.

• Observant.

• Tends to be good at reading others.

Weaknesses:

• Susceptible to illness (has a light cough that's never quite gone away).

• Eyes do not adjust to the dark well.

• Lower back pain caused by years of hauling.

• Often hesitant with decision making – second guesses himself.

• Sometimes unable to put on a good poker face (e.g; he's easily readable sometimes).

Attire (Clothing): Jovah has a thick white coat that trails to his thighs and has two sets of buttons along with an array of various pockets and pouches sewn on to it, mostly on the chest and abdomen (clearly, these were added at a date far after the creation of the coat, most likely by Jovah himself).  His belt, often hidden under the coat's tail, carries on it another small array of pouches and holders, and a loop for his hatchet.  He also has a pistol holster, though there's nothing in it.  Jovah's pants appear to be made of thick denim bleached white.  They've been outfitted and padded with leather (also bleached) on the knees and thighs.  He has thick, tightly tied boots that are beginning to fall apart.  Overall, his clothes, while heavy, manage to be light enough to only barely impact his speed.  They will tire him out, however, if he's forced to move around for any unreasonable amount of time without rest.  He has a large, light gray duffel bag that's swung around on to his back at all times.

Armaments:

M14 variant - a rifle chambered in the .308 Winchester round.  Over the course of his childhood, Jovah refurbished this in to working condition with the help of his father, finding and replacing parts as time went on.  By the time he was 15 or so, he knew the inner workings of the rifle and it was ready to fire.  The weapon is wrapped in white tape and one can glance little spots of scratched up black polymer underneath, which is what the gun is actually made of.  There's no scope - just the ironsights.  It can fire both automatic and semiautomatic, though if fired fully automatic it tends to jam up.  Jovah, for this reason and others, keeps it set to semiautomatic.  He has two ten-round magazines for it for it, but has around fifty bullets.  He refills the magazines every time he gets a chance. 

Military Hatchet – a somewhat rare dark gray, lightweight, very sharp carbon fiber hatchet.  Good for throwing, hacking and slashing, and has a strap looped through the handle.  'S.F BAY ND ARMORY' is stenciled in jet black along the gray hem of the blade.  Definitely of military origin.  Usually found hanging off of his belt.

Equipment:

Multitool – a black pocket knife-like device that has various fold-out tools, such as bottle and can openers and a nail file that is often used for lockpicking.  Only used as a weapon in very rare cases.  'CORELL' is printed on the side, no doubt the pre-war manufacturer.

Insulated Canteen – a somewhat large canteen used for carrying water or other drinks.  Normally, snowmelt is poured in and the whole thing is heated over a fire.

Firestarting Gear – flint and steel is the primarily used item, though there's a couple containers of matches and even a lighter for emergencies.  He also keeps some newspaper on him at all times for tinder.

Flashlight – a shoddily repaired metal flashlight.  Uses batteries, which Jovah has several of.  Can be used as a truncheon if necessary.

Care Kit – an improvised weapon cleaning and upkeep kit.  It has a sharpening rod for his hatchet and a variety of tools to dissemble and clean his rifle.

Miscellaneous gear – various little things like bandages and ointment that are necessary for survival.

History: Jovah tends to avoid the discussion of his past.  When it's brought up, or when he thinks on it, there's a certain pain to his eyes that's often accompanied by a sigh and, if any alcohol may be near, a drink.  On the bright side, whatever happened to him doesn't seem to have affected him beyond painful memories.

 

[Remainder hidden by user request.]

 

Other: In a land of ash, only misery may grow.

 

Username: Narvix

Full Name: Jasmine Lee Alas-Reyes

Age: 23 years

Gender: Female

Occupation: A traveling bard for the most part.

Description: XX She has a mixed heritage: half Caucasian, a quarter Mexican, and a quarter Filipino. Jasmine has long, dark brown hair that falls to the bottom of her shoulder blades. Her eyes are a deep, maple color with a dark brown ring outlining the irises. She normally wears practical, black rimmed glasses that don't really stand out but, as her father used to tell her, made her eyes sharper in a nice way. Her skin tone is a decent olive tan (paled slightly due to lack of sunlight), she has a thin but average frame, and she's no taller than 5'4".

 

Jasmine has 2nd and 3rd degree burns on her right side from an accident when she was an infant. The scars are under her chin, on her chest, and on her upper arm. There is discoloration on her shoulder, back, forearm, and chest as well. In the way of discoloration, it's not very noticeable unless you actually look at the locations and see that parts of her skin are a shade or two lighter.

Personality:

-> Peace-keeper: She hates conflict between anyone. She would prefer that everyone could at least come to terms and tolerate each other.

-> Introvert: If Jasmine doesn't know you to the point of being siblings practically, she won't share much about herself. She's kept her emotions mostly hidden away and her secrets deep down inside herself.

-> Serious beyond possible: Jasmine doesn't get humor. End of story. Ever since she was little, people kept telling her that she was older than she physically was. While she does laugh once in awhile and lighten up sometimes, she's wound tightly and will blow given enough reason.

-> Kind hearted: Despite her short temper, she's been told by her mother that she's one of the most compassionate people alive. Her heart is big no matter how small she is and is more concerned about others than she is for herself.

-> Somewhat slow: Jasmine doesn't always catch on quickly, especially when someone's joking around and she thinks they're serious. She learns things quickly but the mannerism of others is different. It takes some time for her to warm up to others and get what they're laughing about. Usually, she thinks it's her they're laughing at...

-> Paranoid: She has a huge case of paranoia. She worries a lot about people sometimes and can't help but feel intimidated by the night once in awhile when she gets the awful feeling that someone's after her or watching her.

-> Pessimistic: Jasmine has low self-esteem and self-confidence. She can be rather negative or, at least, she tries to be realistic and doesn't expect much in the event that things don't fall through. Less disappointment then and less pain.

Skills:

-> Flautist: As a traveling bard, it's necessary to be skilled in playing at least one instrument. Due to the conditions of the time, she only knows how to play a small flute.

-> Tracking: Since I travel so much, I've picked up a thing or three about how to hunt decently and am able to track down nearly anything in most areas.

-> Healing: When facing dangerous situations, one must know how to care for oneself and others if you have a companion. She knows basics mostly and how to set dislodged joints or broken bones but that's about it.

Strengths:

-> Calculations: Math and science are Jasmine's forte. She's a quick study and calculating things like weather or the angle of approaching targets are good to know.

-> Willful: Some believe she's just stubborn sometimes but is that so bad? She's determined about her beliefs and following her morals or values.

Weaknesses:

-> Short Tempered: Basically, even though she has a lot of patience, Jasmine's temper can get the best of her in certain situations.

-> Losing those she loves/cares about: The hardest thing for Jasmine is to let someone go once they're gone. She's lost family members years ago and it's still painful to think about them. She can hardly do it without crying. Jasmine doesn't like seeing or knowing people are hurt and it's depressing even more so when she's the one that causes the pain.

-> Physically challenged: She's not the strongest, fastest, most flexible, agile, or graceful. Jasmine's rather average and the issue with her knees doesn't always help. Since 12 years of age, she's had a slight weakness in her knees that make it hard to run for very long. Sometimes, this problem shoots daggers of pain through one or both legs. When it does, it's entirely random. Once in awhile, it's bad enough to make it almost impossible to even stand without the threat of her knees giving out on her.

Attire (Clothing): As far as clothing goes, she prefers a nice pair of long pants that fit comfortably with leggings underneath. Typically, she wears turtlenecks and long-sleeved shirts. Her dark colored hooded jacket is worn but keeps her warm for the most part when she faces the sheer cold. For footwear, she wears a decent pair of brown and black hiking boots.

Armaments:

-> Crossbow; no scope.

-> Quiver with 15 crossbow bolts made of iron that can be reused many times.

-> Basic arrowheads made of the same metal as the bolts and easy to pull free from targets mostly.

-> Hunting knife kept in the pouch attached to the quiver.

Equipment: Jasmine has a plain, gray scarf that she uses to shield my mouth and nose. She also has a pair of faded brown gloves to help ward off the cold from her fingers. Otherwise, she doesn't have much equipment save a water flask, flint, a small case to keep her crossbow string from freezing over, and some first aid supplies.

History: Let's see… Jasmine grew up traveling with her mom and pop. Her mother was a traveling bard as all the females in her family were though she was generally able to choose to be a bard or not. Her dad travelled with them, keeping the two fed for the most part. Unfortunately, he was killed when Jasmine was very young and so her mom had to learn how to care for them food and protection wise. Shortly after his death, Jasmine was burned when a small vat of hot soup (made of what little water they had and remaining bits of meat) spilled onto her from head to foot, leaving her scarred. When Jasmine reached eleven years, her mother asked if she wished to be a bard and said she did. It took some time but her mom managed to find a flute for her (which she still has to this day) and began to teach her to play.

 

From there, Jasmine quickly learned the trade of music with the flute her mother had managed to salvage. She wanted to make her mom proud and wanted to play the grandest songs possible. She still does even when her mother is no longer here. She was taken from her by an illness that wasn't able to be cured. Either it was incurable or they weren't able to obtain medicine soon enough for her before she passed. Whatever the case, her death weakened Jasmine mentally for awhile and she nearly gave up on the music her mother taught her. However, she regained her focus and her desire to bring her mother pride. Jasmine was about 17 years old when her mother died and had never travelled on her own before. At first, she was afraid and so held back until she had no more food. Finally, she made herself go to a small town they had travelled to a handful of times before as a family and made her start there.

 

Now, six years later, she's grown used to being by herself and knows well enough to fend for herself decently. Jasmine still gets some injuries here and there but, so far, nothing too serious came about. On a few occasions, she's travelled with a companion or two. Otherwise, she's pretty much on her own and that's fine. It happens when you don't have a home.

Other: "In a land of ash, only misery will grow."

 

 

 

 

Username: Narvix

Full Name: Laviendor Morka Christobal

-Nicknames: Levi, Patch, or Stickler

Age: 37 Years

Gender: Male

Occupation: Scavenger mostly

Description: X Levi has crimson colored hair that mostly falls in tangled spikes and frames an angular face. A black eyepatch covers a gutted hole where his right eye had been, leaving a single dark emerald eye on his left. Appearance wise, his facial features may seem a bit delicate for a grown male but he isn’t bothered about it and has ignored the rare jab. Reaching a good 6’2” in height, Laviendor has more of a lithe build and long legs. His arms are averagely muscled but doesn’t deny him the force of a solid hit.

Personality: Levi is a bit hard to understand at first. Often times, he seems a bit... off, in his way of thinking but he's not insane. In all honesty, he's just open to different opinions, theories, and beliefs. Some might claim that he's bipolar, excitable one moment and gloomy another. He's not. Levi just shows his emotions a bit more than others. While most may assume that he is, Levi’s not as unobservant as he seems.

Skills:

-> Basic familiarization with firearms

-> Excellent orientation knowledge (Capable of easily finding his way to many places)

-> Near-mastered woodcarving (receives half of his earnings with this lovely trade)

-> Pinpoint accuracy knife throwing (given good conditions; less-than good: varying degrees of accuracy)

-> Basic knowledge of herbs

-> Decent historical knowledge

-> Fair map making

Strengths:

-> Quick thinking

-> Fast reflexes

-> Mid-ranged attacking

-> Slightly sharper vision

-> Light footed

-> Adaptable

Weaknesses:

-> Talks a bit too much

-> Not too good with hand-to-hand combat

-> Vulnerable to attacks in his blind spot from the right (is in process of learning to be less so)

-> Believes he is capable of befriending anyone

Attire (Clothing): He can be seen constantly wearing a dark colored trench coat but most are uncertain on if it's blue or black. Inside, the coat is layered with wolf pelts and roughened leather. Beneath the coat, he prefers to wear a plain jacket with a comfortable fitting t-shirt. Accompanying the coats and shirt, he wears faded jeans which are lined with wolf pelts and leather around the thighs and lower calfs. Levi has two pairs of jeans insulated as such and both have modified pockets for whatever he carries with him. On his feet, he is always wearing the same pair of boots. These boots have a series of buckles and clasps across the worn dark leather that reaches up to mid-calf and are, likewise, lined inside with wolf pelts.

 

A chain-link necklace is always seen around his neck, resting against his collarbone and shoulders. It's a keepsake of sorts but he doesn't share the meaning or history behind it to simply anyone. In addition to the necklace, he was two rings. One is on his left middle finger made of plain silver with no decorations. The other, on his right index, is made of black material and is likewise plain and unadorned. Over his hands, he wears thin gloves that keep his fingers from stiffening in the cold while still making it easy to pull the trigger.

Armaments:

-> Sniper rifle with iron sight: Always slung across his back

---> Iron sight is detachable; open U-notch and post

---> Rifle is Prewar, M24A2 with .300 Win Mag rounds; bolt-action rifle

---> Two box magazines hold 10 rounds each (one fully loaded and stored in belt, the other with 5/10 rounds and loaded into gun); 15 rounds total

-> M1911 Automatic Pistol: stored in holster on right hip

---> Prewar with .45 ACP rounds; Short Recoil Operation

---> 7 round detachable magazine (fully loaded), second detachable magazine (3/7 rounds and stored in belt); 10 rounds total

-> Throwing knives: 3x; stored in sheath and attached to belt

-> Single edged knife: hidden away in his boot

Equipment:

-> Broad visor: always rested around neck when not in use

-> Utility belt: slung around his torso from his right shoulder to his left hip

---> Holds up to 3x refill magazines for rifle

---> Holds refill magazine for pistol

---> Holds 4x extra batteries

---> 5 extra pockets for any small objects he finds

-> Travel-sized bag: self-made out of brown fabric

---> 5 small pouches filled with various herbs (mostly food seasonings and temporary treatments [slowing blood flow, soothing burns, and filling an empty stomach])

---> Water flask

---> Second pair of lined jeans

---> Wolf pelt bandana (worn a majority of the time during his trips outside of towns)

History: Let’s start at the top. Levi was born in a small city somewhere in the middle of Utah. His father was a tradesman and his mother was a scavenger; quite an interesting pair considering their ideals of a content life. Given that one parent loved to travel and one preferred staying at home, the boy saw more of his father than of his mother. She would travel to other cities, ones long abandoned and left to fall apart, in search of trinkets and scraps to trade. At the least, her trips would last a couple of days and her longest dragged out for about a month. His father never enjoyed the idea of her leaving for so long and without anyone to help her should she run into trouble. As stifling as his father’s fears had seemed, they were fed with sufficient reasoning. His mother was severely wounded during her last trip out and she grew ill from an infection that started at her more worrisome injury in her stomach. When Levi was about 13 years old, she passed away.

 

Starting at around the age of 7, he began learning how to trade effectively from his father. For awhile, the boy was thoroughly interested and it helped him to learn quickly, becoming quite crafty within the following year. However, his interests turned away from trading and to creating. He picked up woodcrafting close to 9 years of age after seeing an aged traveler trade a handful of carved figurines for supplies. The objects were fascinating to Levi and he sought answers about it. For a few weeks, the old man stayed in the city and taught the boy how to carve when he wasn’t trading with his father. When the man had left for another city, Levi continued working with improvement each day.

 

Fast forward to a year after his mother’s death, the 14 year old found himself growing restless and tired of staying within the decrepit city, seeking stories from those who had been outside of the gates. Most were similar with varying experiences while a few rare ones had dramatic differences. One woman had been kind enough to show Levi the map she used, pointing to where cities were located, and telling him what she knew of the regions’ histories. He was entranced, mind spinning with the stories and the past. Eventually, he was able to secure his own map and desired to add his own markings to it.

 

Time passing, Laviendor collected various items and continued to expand in his woodcrafting skill. At about 16 years of age, he came into possession of his sniper rifle. A year later awarded him with the pistol. He’d acquired the rifle (the scope absent and apparently broken off but with the iron sight still attached) through a decent trade when a woman had come in, wishing to get supplies on her way out of the city. She didn’t know how to use the large gun and she had doubted that she’d ever learn; it only came to be hers when her husband had died. Within a half hour, the woman had her supplies and Levi had his first gun with only three bullets. Similarly, the pistol was obtained through trade but in a more damaged condition than the rifle. He was able to easily replace the cracked plastic on the grip but finding a new barrel took some time, having to figure out the correct size and then shaping a bit of scrap to fit the gun.

 

Since bullets were not very easy to come by and slow in amassing, Levi passed his free time in examining his rifle and pistol. He became acquainted with the inner workings and separate parts, disassembling and reassembling his guns for practice until he was content with a decent speed.

 

At 20 years of age, Levi left home, promising his father to return safely after every three days or before the next storm hit; whichever one came first. For awhile, this agreement worked for them both. When he turned 25, Levi was forced to stay home when his father had gotten caught in a violent blizzard and suffered frost bite on his right foot. There was no doctor in the city with experience on how to treat frost bite and so Levi was stuck to care for his father without a clue of what to do. That’s when he started to pick up learning about herbs. He acquired the basic knowledge he has from a few doctors he had encountered, learning how to temporarily treat ailments such as soothing painful burns, slowing blood circulation, and soothing sore throats.

 

Once his father was taken care of (though both were disappointed in the loss of the older man’s foot), Levi returned to scavenging. He had kept the map the woman had given him years ago, fulfilling his desire of adding his own marks to it. With pen and pencil, he added adjustments to city structures, environment changes (if any), and detailed notes about various locations and scavenging areas. When he acquired more paper, he practiced copying his first map before making his own, adding detail about altitude and travel paths.

 

The next object of significance that Levi acquired was his set of throwing knives, found under the ashen snow in a crumbled town. He was shy of 30 years of age and scavenging for anything that could be traded or used. Two years after finding the knives, he found Gorf, hardly a pup and nearly starved. The German Shepherd cared little of his presence until the man offered food and Levi took him home where he could regain a bit of strength.

 

Somewhere around the age of 34, he started taking Gorf with him on trips and made constant use of his knives for hunting. Bullets became a little bit easier to obtain by this time as he now knew the better areas in which to trade for them but use of his guns was still minimal, reserved for human enemies (which he encountered on a few occasions).

 

Today, his dad still hobbles around the old house with a useless foot, making his living on his trading skills. Levi’s still scavenging with an occasional visit to his hometown. He’s been adding more details and notes to his second map, keeping his first more as a keepsake from his childhood, and still uses his throwing knives as a primary weapon with his guns saved for raiders.

Other: “In a land of ash, only misery will grow.” Levi's an animal lover. It would only make sense as he has a 6 year old German Shepherd companion named Gorf.

 

Username:  Limitless

Full Name:  Julienne “Red” Jhene

Age:  25

Gender:  Female

Occupation:  Wanderer, Trapper

Description:  Red stands about 5’ 6”, is pale, and of a very slim frame. Her face is long and thin, matched by an elegant neck and thin shoulders.  Her eyes are blue and she has a sharp nose, giving her a proud appearance. She always seems to be watching and observing, as if everything was new to her and rather interesting, especially when she is in a public place.  Her lips are relatively thin, matching her smile, which seems to always be on her face. Named for her hair, Red keeps herself neat. Her somewhat thick, wavy red hair is parted to her left side and comes to the base of her neck when a mess. When clean, it hangs to just past her shoulders. It seems she has managed to keep it as clean as possible for the most part. While she does not appear to be a very threatening adversary, Red is composed almost entirely of compact muscle. Scars on her face and arms testify to many struggles that she overcame.  Her voice carries a tone of authority and wisdom, is light and high, and when she speaks, she has a tendency to hold her vowels a little longer than most other people do, not quite enough to be an accent but just a quirk. Around her neck she wears a necklace of little glass lumps and smooth bones and a handmade scarf that she often pulls up to cover her mouth and nose from the cold air; on her head she wears a scavenged green beanie, and on her hands, two pairs of gloves (not at the same time, mind you): a pair that are missing the fingertips, and a pair that completely cover her hands.

Personality:  Red is quiet but not rude, calculating but not cold. She speaks bluntly, feeling that it is better to harm someone with the truth than a lie, and can often be somewhat finicky, especially in regards to her own cleanliness.   Red is exceedingly difficult to anger. Most of the time, for smaller grievances, she just ignores the offender, or finds something else to occupy her mind, like weaving. She seems to have found a peace in life, not seeing any reason to stress or worry about what is coming next. This does not mean that she isn’t cautious, just that she lives in the present and doesn’t give too much thought to what the future might hold. She doesn’t often reflect on the past, either, but when she does, she tends to get a little depressed. She has something of a soft spot for children, and if it is needed, will put herself in danger to help them. In battle, Red is aggressive, brutal, and tenacious, willing to chase her prey to the death.

Skills:  Red excels at making snares and traps of different sizes and uses, and can make many different things, like bandages, bags, clothing, and baskets, out of scavenged strings or plant fibers. In fighting, she prefers closer ranges due to her use of a quarterstaff, which is about 6” tall/long. She uses knives, in hunting and skinning animals, has amazing aim with her rifle, and is also rather good at a heavily modified version of (what our modern times would call) capoeira, and tends to use that in a fight before her staff.

Strengths:  Swift and strong, has rather fast reflexes, hearing and vision are top notch. She very good at staying awake for extended periods of time and operating on little sleep and minimal food.

Weaknesses:  She has little experience using her knives to attack, doesn’t take orders well, is a bit of a pacifist, and one of her knees seems to be a bit weak.

Attire (Clothing):  Red wears a coat comprised of lighter tan and grey fur. It is a bit too large for her, hanging to her knees, but is thick and warm, with a hood and deep pockets on both the inside and outside. Under this she wears a loose fitting grey pullover, a thick, black sweater, another long sleeve shirt, and a tank top over her undergarments. She wears two pairs of pants, a pair of warm up-like pants and a looser fitting pair over them. For colder days and nights, she will also wear a pair over the warm ups but under the loose fitting pants. Around her neck she wears a handmade scarf that she often pulls up to cover her mouth and nose from the cold air, on her head she wears a scavenged green beanie, and on her hands, two pairs of gloves (not at the same time, mind you): a pair that are missing the fingertips, and a pair that completely cover her hands. She wears black boots made of waterproofed leather with rubber bottoms, and fur on both the inside and the top of the outside. In these she wears thick socks, most likely recycled from scavenged clothing. Under her pants and shirts, Red also wears armor, on her chest and back, upper and lower arms (her elbows aren’t defended), and on her lower legs. She is ambiguous about where these came from, and always wears them.

Armaments:  Red carries a quarterstaff that seems to have been through quite a lot. The wood is chipped and dented, and slightly stained with blood at the ends. This is always in her hands, and slung across her back is a bolt-action rifle. (http://www.ruger.com/products/m77HawkeyeAllWeather/models.html) A smaller bag attached to her belt holds ammo, four rounds and some loose change. Aside from this, she keeps a long knife for skinning animals in her bag and two smaller knives, one kept on her belt and the other in her boot.

Equipment:  Red wears a rucksack clearly of military origins. In it she keeps mostly small trading goods and survival tools: a small sewing kit, materials, medical supplies, a few day’s worth of canned food, two small canteens, incendiary implements, a couple extra shirts and a sweater, several pairs of mismatched socks, and a small leather-bound book. Strapped to the back of her bag is a scrap-metal shovel and a canteen of water.

History:  [History hidden as per user request]

Other: In a land of ash, only misery may grow.

 

 

Username: Mistress of Whispers

Full Name: Alice

Age: 23

Gender: Female

Occupation: Scavenger (past), Wanderer (now)

Description: Alice is taller than average, with a lithe but muscular build. She has light brown, curly hair that she cuts herself just above her shoulder and, as such, it's a bit messy. Her eyes are a very light blue with grey and green flecks.

Personality: Alice is independent (to a fault) and hardy; she has survived a lot and knows that she can endure even more. She doesn't talk much.

Skills:

- Skill level: Skill (Explanation)

- Average: Basic first aid (She knows enough to prop herself up until she can see someone more skilled)

- Average: Hand-to-hand combat (She's been in more than a few fights and can hold her own against an average opponent)

- Average: Making minor (technical) repairs (She spent a lot of time alone so she knows how to take care of her gear)

- Average: Trapping (She learned the basics while living on the City outskirts, then picked up some more tricks wandering across America)

- Good: Weapons combat (knives) (Same as hand-to-hand combat. The machete allows her to make up for the fact that she's a woman (and thus, unfortunately still smaller and less strong than most men) so she is better at this than hand-to-hand)

- Good: Marksmanship (guns) (Same as hand-to-hand combat coupled with an innate talent for marksmanship, but not so much experience)

- Good: Mapping (She likes to make maps of places she visits. It started as a hobby of sorts, but she has gotten quite good at it)

- Good: Ambidexterity (Not an acquired skill, but an innate one)

- Good: Moving silently (She's been sneaking around since she was a child)

- Excellent: Athletics (running, jumping) (She's been running since she was a child)

- Excellent: Marksmanship (bows) (Same as hand-to-hand combat coupled with an innate talent for marksmanship and plenty of experience hunting with a crossbow)

- Excellent: High pain threshold (partially an innate talent, partially acquired through many painful experiences)

Strengths: Marksmanship, Athletics, Endurance

Weaknesses: 

- Alice can't read or write. She's smart enough, but no one ever bothered to teach her.

- She doesn't know much about the history of the world; only that once there was a sun and now there isn't, and that once people lived in big cities and now they don't. Again, she's not stupid, but no one ever bothered to teach her about this.

- She doesn't trust others and, as a result, chooses to remain and act alone even when being with others would be demonstratively better for her survival.

- Due to her past, she has a soft spot for abandoned and mistreated children. She will not abandon a child to its fate, no matter the risk or cost.

- Alice suffers from debilitating nightmares. Whenever she sleeps, I will flip a coin: Heads nothing happens, Tails she has a nightmare. This nightmare will leave her disoriented upon waking, which will slow and hinder her actions. If she is awoken while in the middle of a nightmare, she might react with violent reflexes.

- A fight with raiders left Alice with a bullet in her brain, which causes a constant headache that can debilitate or even give her a black-out. Every few scenes, I will flip a coin: Heads nothing happens, tails the headache is so bad that it poses a hindering distraction. If it came up tails, I will flip again in the next scene: Heads it stays with a headache, Tails she blacks out.

Attire (Clothing):  Alice wears thick grey cargo pants with a grey top and sweater and worn combat boots. Over this she wears a hooded wolf-skin coat with an extra lining of leather for warmth and insulation. The coat provides a basic measure of protection in hand-to-hand and weapons combat, but not against bullets or arrows. Several items dangle from her belt. She has a grey scarf which she winds around her head to protect against snow and ash.

Armaments: 

- Colt Python Revolver (in holster on right hip - pre-war, 6-round cylinder, 6-inch barrel, 20 bullets)

- Hunting crossbow (carried on back - pre-war, 5 arrows strapped to crossbow plus 10 more in quiver, has the initials D.D. carved into it)

- Machete (in sheath on left hip)

- Hunting knife (in right boot).

Alice can make her own arrows if time and supplies allow it. She uses the machete in hand-to-hand combat; the hunting knife mostly sees use as a tool.

Equipment:

- Hand-held Radio (hasn't received anything in years) (carried on belt)

- Compass (carried on belt)

- Gas Mask (carried on belt)

- Flash Light (carried on belt)

- Canteen of water (slung over shoulder)

- Goggles (to protect her eyes when she travels) (carried on her head or on belt)

- Snow Shoes (worn over her shoes or slung over her shoulder)

- Go bag containing: handful of medical supplies (aspirin, bandages, suture kit, peroxide, wound disinfectant, sterile gauze, tape, scissors, tweezers), hand-drawn maps of places she has been to, some canned foods, can-opener, magnesium stick (for making fires), pliers, small wire cutter, paper (for map making), pens and pencils (for map making), one spare set of pants, top and sweater.

History: Hidden by user request.

Other: In a land of ash, only misery may grow.

 

Username: CaptainInsaneway

Full Name: Sister Mary- Martha Shrike

Age: 22

Gender: Female

Occupation: Mary-Martha is a Catholic Sister. She is also an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, which means she distributes Holy Communion amongst the dying or sick. She elected to take a sister's “simple” vows as opposed to the vows of those who live an enclosed life, due to the climate of the current world.

Description:

Mary-Martha is a slight woman, slender and standing just over five feet tall. She has a delicate, heart-shaped face and large eyes with thick, straight brows that lend her an almost sad appearance. Her eyes are very light shade of green, hedged with long lashes. Her short hair is a mass of dark red curls, though she wears it pinned in place beneath her coif and veil and as such, it is usually hidden, though her sideswept bangs are left on view. Her hair is a darker auburn colour, though many of those she has encountered have treated her with outright dislike, considering it a sign from God that she was born out of despoilment and corruption. To the women she was born amongst, her red hair was holy fire, a light given by God to guide them through the darkness that had consumed them. She is exceptionally pale, to the point where her veins stand out quite starkly against her skin. However, the left side of her face is twisted and malformed, as though scarred. She was born with this disfigurement, though there is some debate amongst the people she encounters in her travels as to the origins of her “facial corruption”. The left corner of her mouth is pulled upward slightly by the scarring that lends her the appearance of having a permanent half smile.

Personality:

Mary-Martha is a sanguine woman, consistently practical and confident in her faith. She is at peace with the horrific hellscape she lives in because she has such trust in the ways of her God. Her unwavering belief is the only reason she fights so ardently to stay alive; were it not for the flame of faith in her heart, she would have succumbed long ago to the same depression and misery that has taken so many of the souls wandering the wastes. Mary-Martha is also deeply compassionate; she will attempt to aid any man or beast in need. Whether this is born out of true kindness and warmth or simple naivety, one cannot say. However, life experience has lent her a level of wariness; should the situation turn sour, she will prioritise herself and abandon the cause.  However, her  warm, personable nature only extends so far; prudence is foremost and she has little time for foolishness. She also does not tolerate “whiners” or people who won't pull their own weight. She also deeply condemns those who harm the innocent with a ferocious hatred that is quite unseemly for a woman of her religious standing. She abhors killing, but recognizes its necessity both as an aspect of self-defense and as a precautionary measure. She has adapted her religious teachings well to the new world order, but continues to struggle with conflicts of morality.

Skills:

Educated, both academically and in the ways of life. She can read and write very well.

Mary-Martha is a skilled cook and is well-versed on what wild animals and plants can and cannot be eaten.

She has some medical knowledge and can aid in wound treatment and the treatment of minor illnesses.

She is an excellent story teller; part of the work she has dedicated herself to is to spread the word of God. She tells stories of her own and stories from the Bible and uses them to raise moral and offer a greater level of understanding to those she encounters.

Some historical awareness. As she was raised amongst nuns, she had access to a great many books that belonged to her order and would be difficult to find elsewhere. These books had information on the history of the world that would otherwise have been lost. As such, Mary-Martha has earned a greater respect for humanity's will to survive, and shares this history with whoever wishes to hear it.

Strengths:

Strong survival skills.

Diplomatic, good at reasoning and debating.

Powerful sense of conviction.

Brave.

Educated.

Remarkably good shot.

Weaknesses:

Physically, Mary-Martha is not a strong woman. She is easily overpowered.

She is fearless to a fault; she has no fear of death because she has such conviction in her belief that whatever happens happened because God willed it, and is entirely at peace with whatever might befall her. This stupid level of bravery or lack of care has led her into many scrapes and dangerous positions, including endangering those around here.

Not particularly patient; she can be rather too brisk and often quite sharp toward those are not so quick (be it quick-minded or simply quick physically.) as she requires.

She makes decisions quickly, but often without considering a situation thoroughly.

Mary-Martha also occasionally falls victim to double-standards; if a man kills another, she might condemn him, but if she herself were to kill, she be able to reason that so long as she was repentant, she had done nothing wrong.

Attire (Clothing):

“Bear in mind we consider wearing the habit to be a privilege.” Mother Mary cautioned.“It says to others when in public, I am open for business. May I pray for you, comfort you, and serve you?It’s a caring symbol in a difficult world.”

Mary-Martha wears a modified form of the religious habit. Hers is white, though white was not her particular order's traditional colours. The sole reason for this colour modification is so that she can blend into the snow better. She does not wear a wimple, but only a simple white coif under a white veil. Being something of a rebel, Mary-Martha wears her veil improperly, as her bangs at the front are left free as opposed to being swept up under the coif. She wears a small silver cross on a leather string about her neck under her clothing. Her holy habit, or tunic, is short and stops just above the knee. The tunic is very beautiful, in spite of being hidden most of the time; rows of pintucks, eight on each side, run down the bodice, and the skirt is pleated all the way around.Over it, she wears a white scapular that falls just above her knees and is secured with a woven wool belt. A string of beautiful rosary beads hangs upon her belt. The typical religious habit is usually very long, often floor-length, though Mary-Martha modified hers to offer ease of movement and prevent drag whilst moving through the snow.

 

Underneath her religious attire, Mary-Martha wears a thick white turtleneck and a pair of grey woolen leggings. Beneath this, she wears an undershirt with three-quarter-length sleeves. She also wears a pair of mid-calf discoloured leather boots with silver buckles. Her hands are hidden in a pair of gloves, though when the weather is particularly harsh, she wears sheepskin mittens over her gloves. Over all of this, she wears a great, heavy cape of grey-white fur with an enormous hood. The man who sold it to her claimed it was “reindeer skin”, though she doubts the veracity of that statement.

Armaments:

A crossbow. It takes her some time to load it, so she rarely uses it for anything other than hunting large game. She struggles with it because she's not particularly strong, but she prefers it to a gun as she can reuse the ammo. Fortunately, it's small enough that she can reload it without too much hassle, and the kick doesn't knock her clean over like some larger models would. The crossbow is a combination of scavenged parts and home-made parts, pieced together by the women who raised her. She has twenty-five bolts, a mixture of home-made and found ammunition. She also has a small, fold-out knife she uses for food preparation and a larger hunting knife she uses for melee combat.

Equipment:

A leather satchel to carry all of her goods.

A canteen of water.

A bible.

A small field guide to plant identification.

Generic first-aid items.

A small sewing kit.

She also carries two small sacks, one of salt and one of sugar, for cooking and trading. These were given as gifts to her when she departed from her home.

History:

Mary-Martha was raised by a community of female religious who had found a nice plot of land to lead their lives on. They had their own hydroponics farm and even some livestock. Food was not exactly plentiful, but they survived happily enough and lived as a relatively peaceful community on the fringes of a broken society, trading where required and defending themselves where it was needed, though most were content to trade with them peacefully. Their primary trade items were in the form of food and products from their livestock, milk from their cows or wool from their sheep.  The community had built itself around a ruined church. The first settlers there had founds bibles and books amongst the ruin; apparently the scavengers who had picked through the wreckage before had not considered the word of God a valuable commodity. Thus, the community had grown on a diet of God's word and plenty thanks to the richness of the land around it and the good soil. They had remained relatively small, but had passed on their teachings in the ways of farming, religion and a peaceful existence to the next generation. They lived an idyllic existence, finding themselves largely untroubled by bandits, primary due to their own efforts in a strict scout system and carefully guarding their perimeter with scavenged weaponry, and partially because they worked hard to spread the rumour that the land they lived upon was fraught with hideously mutated beasts and creatures that may once have been human. Trusting in the fear they had generated, they grew lax in their border controls. Before Mary-Martha was born, the village was sacked. The men were slain, the women raped, their supplies stolen. The surviving women rebuilt their lives, living leanly on what they could scavenge and working to regrow their crops with a few spare seeds. They burned the bodies of the murdered and scattered their ashes. They traded what little they had managed to save from the raiders for weaponry and grew enclosed and less trusting. No longer were travelers welcome. Instead of studying the history books their forefathers had found, they learned how to use crossbows and knives. They learned to shoot to kill, for then they could recover their ammo. More than ever, they turned to God to guide them.

 

Mary-Martha had a wonderful childhood in comparison to most children throughout the remainder of society. She grew up peacefully and full of innocence. Born disfigured, the women hid her from the cruel eyes of the world and taught her the ways of God, raising her to be clever and resourceful and to live without hatred. These women educated her in every walk of life they could. They taught her how to read and write, using the bible and a hidden cache of preserved books that had belonged to the church as reading materials. They taught her how to cook and identify what animals and plants could be eaten, taking her foraging with them. Much of what Mary-Martha learned, she learned by doing, by watching. The women shared tasks amongst themselves and exchanged skills to better each other as part of their way of life. Due to the events prior to her birth, the women never told Mary-Martha of her parentage; it was dubious as to whether she was the child of her mother's husband, or the product of rape by the bandits. With this knowledge at the forefront of their minds, they taught her how to defend herself from a young age. She became particularly good with a crossbow, learning how to take down prey with a single shot. She never was particularly good when it came to skinning and gutting her kill, however.

 

When she grew older, she felt that God had called upon her to spread His message throughout the world and teach others of His goodness. A year ago, against the advice of those close to her, she followed this and has been wandering from settlement to settlement ever since, sharing stories and teachings to whoever was willing to listen. Along the way, she became something of an urban myth; strange stories popped up here and there in different towns about a nun with a scarred face who baptised babies, or a lady in white with a scar on her face where God Himself had reached out to touch her cheek who came and settled the souls of the dying that they might depart from this world in peace. She steadily moved toward the San Francisco area on the advice of those encountered in her travels; that's where the most souls needed saving.

Other:

In a land of ash, only misery may grow.

Edited by Arctic

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(The following few paragraphs are just explaining the environment and *starting* location. If you're looking to join, we might have moved past Winterbury. Private message me or read through for a run down.)

 

Before the war, the city of San Francisco had it in its mind to expand, as most major cities of the day did. In fact, it was not a desire, it was a requirement. With an ever-growing population (a mixture of both a baby boom and large waves of immigrants following a golden age in the late 21st century), it only made sense to provide more accommodations for those that had to live in the area. Buildings grew higher and, eventually, the city acquired government funding to attempt terraformation. It was widely considered a success - the San Franciscan peninsula (if you could call it that) was expanded outwards in to the ocean, and the city quickly grew with it. By the time the nukes hit, the city and its surrounding communities were rivaling New York in population (over twenty million at the time). It was also an epicenter of high tech development and medical research, with an adequate amount of military interest due to the bustling teenage population, who were seen as potential soldiers.

 

The city also expanded south in to what was previously a game reserve after federal permission was granted. The hills and mountains were flattened to be more acceptable for construction and roughly ten to fifteen kilometers of urban development seeped southward in to the once-green countryside. Small skyscrapers rose up, still dwarfed by the giant towers of steel and glass in the distance. Nearby towns like Redwood City also expanded in to the trees, meeting the crawling development and merging with it, forming one large megacity over time. When some distant conflict with a foreign power reached climax, nuclear weapons were put to use. One nuke lead to ten being fired in retaliation, and a hundred in response to those. Surprisingly, San Francisco was not overwhelmed and destroyed. One can only guess why, though it's generally accepted that government defenses of some sort protected the city. In the time after the nukes, hunger, devastation and anarchy hit the city. People killed one another for basic necessities, what remained of the police force was overwhelmed, the military was no longer receiving orders from Washington - eventually, people simply fled. Many died in the exodus, but some stayed behind to make lives for themselves. Meanwhile, radiation was carried in winds from the north and east.

 

The military evacuated some people, mostly the rich, the powerful and the skilled, and placed them in federal bunkers in the surrounding countryside. Others hid in civilian-contracted bunkers. Many opened, but some still remain sealed. Others are derelict, with the inhabitants having disappeared long ago, or opted on suicide. Many of the ones open have been turned in to farms or towns - in fact, the largest settlement in the Winter is built in to the Charleston Reserve Bunker, an old military complex located across the bay to the Northeast of San Francisco. It holds a population of several thousand.

 

-----------

 

Winterbury was a moderate settlement that had been around for as long as anyone could remember. Though it changed hands not-too-infrequently, it was well fortified and a well known trading post. Perhaps the only reason it was not more major of a town was that there was no suitable place to expand - it existed at the top of where a hill met a cliff. Imagine, if you will, a half-circle at the top where it's nearly flat, with the width roughly a kilometer, and the radius from the cliff to the edge being around a third or a half of that. It hugged the cliff behind it and had high walls, reinforced again and again over the long years, spanning all around this half-circle, meeting the cliff face and digging slightly in to it on both sides of the village. Perhaps the most interesting feature of this town was the large cavern behind it that dug for another fifth of a kilometer in to the rock face, with an artificial cave at the end that lead in to a bunker. Winterbury was one of the few safe settlements that had the leisure of having a hydroponics farm set up, which existed in the bunker itself. While it was by no means capable of feeding the entire population, which clocked at around several hundred, it provided another incentive to visit and another incentive to trade.

 

The reason the city was so successful, however, lied in the location. The cliffs above were perhaps a hundred feet high, and had sentry posts keeping watch over the wilderness on the other side. The walls at the front of the city looked down a gradual slope, barren of trees (they had been long cut down to keep visibility high), making any advances from below fruitless. A long road curved down the hill from the front gates of the city, providing an easy and very visible access in and out. It disappeared in to the trees below, many of which were long dead, and melded in to a network of dilapidated roads that had been built before the war and were no longer maintained.

 

The view was another reason many came to visit, even though one would expect sightseeing to be low priority. On good days, if you caught the weather right when it didn't snow, one could see the outline of downtown San Francisco looming in the distance, a massive shadow standing against the gray clouds, thick skyscrapers jutting upward, stacked so close together they might as well be one giant building. Closer than that, though, was the outer city - officially, where the city started and bordered the forest. This was much closer, just a couple kilometers away, and was dotted with many multistory buildings and a few skyscrapers, the building density getting higher the further in you went.

 

There was, however, a grim aura around the town. It was, after all, the only settlement that managed to survive this close to San Francisco. Each and every attempt before had eventually ended in tragedy, with buildings burned and settlers slaughtered.

Edited by Arctic

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(If it's not okay for me to post here I'll immediately take it down)

 

Hey, I stumbled upon this and thought it was an amazing idea, and if it's okay, I'd like to join, as a scavenger definitly (In reality I have both a knack and a tendency to fiddle, tinker, build and create) and for the creatues, great ideas, if you want to add more I have an idea for one or two, it feels like hundreds of years into an apoclyptic wastleland would host some more mutated or unusual creatures. On a final note, I noticed you didn't mention dragons, are they none existant or if they do exist just hard to find or rare?

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Seeing no more mistakes and a nice full plot, I deem this roleplay...

 

 

APPROVED!

 

~PM a Roleplay Moderator to get all critique wiped clear off the thread~

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(( Right-o, then, ladies and gents. We have 6 people accepted in the roleplay and perhaps 2 to 4 more making applications or needing to revise current ones. I doubt we'll get too far before they resend their application. I'm going to go ahead and start this up. My one question to you right now is this - do you think I should create an out-of-character thread for this RP, or leave it as one-topic? ))

 

It was evening. At least, that's what Jovah thought. The sky was a darker gray than usual and a callous wind whistled through the streets of Winterbury, seeming to settle on the white-clad scavenger in particular and deliver an intolerable chill in to his aching bones. He pulled his coat tightly around him. He lifted one of his large, gloved hands to his face, angling it in such a way as to deflect the icy flakes of snow whipping through the streets in the wake of the churning air. Perhaps it wasn't night after all - perhaps a blizzard was setting in. He figured it was both.

 

He adjusted his bag over his shoulder and sped up his movements down the central street of Winterbury. The gate (soon to be closed for curfew) was behind him, a smooth face of wood reinforced with iron and brass. The town guard would most certainly have to awake at daybreak to shovel snow away from the door, but this was not a concern of Jovah's, so this unimportant thought dissipated quickly and without consideration. On either side of him, there were buildings constructed of scrap and wood. Some were more polished than others, constructed by architects of the modern day. Almost all of them were built in to the ground to some degree or another, with high windows (all of which were closed - there was not a single exception) and stairs leading down in to the ground to the front door.

 

Little signs and symbols hung outside some buildings, indicating their purpose. Many had no such indication - they were most likely lodging for the city's residents. Almost at the end of the street was a trading post. It was bordered by no buildings, leaving wide areas on either side of it for cars or wagons to unload their salvage. There was a ramp on one side for push carts, though like any other building the front entrance was sunken in to the ground. Bright lights shone out the window. Jovah brushed past a couple men seeking shelter as he made his way over, then carefully descended the stairs and entered the post.

 

The room within was marvelous and, aside from the inn, perhaps the most smoothed and detailed of any of the buildings. The walls were made of smoothed bricks and wood, and the floor itself was entirely wooden. Artifacts hung from hooks in tiny cages above Jovah, or sat on any of the many display shelves winding around the room. Before him was a counter with a cage separating the 'client' area from the trader's den. Behind this counter, various chests and cabinets could be seen. Some were metal. Jovah approached the counter and rang a small bell. Within a minute, a bald man dressed in a black coat with a handgun on his waist came in to sight - the trader on shift.

 

There were no formalities and few words. Jovah unloaded several glass bottles, several cans, one emptied STANAG magazine and a small plastic baggie carrying in it eight rounds of nine millimeter ammunition. Finally, he produced a small computer chip from a small lockbox inside the bag (he seemed to utilize this not for fear of stealing, but for protection from the frost). The chip was black and had faded, unreadable stenciling on it. After perhaps three minutes of inspection, during which the bald man used a magnifying glass and his bare hands to feel for inconsistencies, the negotiation began.

 

It lasted perhaps eight minutes. Jovah remained straight-faced the entire time, his gaze landing softly but piercingly on the bald man (who didn't seem particularly impressed, unfortunately). Eventually, they settled on a trade. Three .308 Winchester rounds were set on the table - one was recognizable as a tracer. Next, a handful of five tin coins was set on the counter. Jovah placed the ammunition in a satchel, and pocketed the change. The bald man disappeared, then a moment later returned with a small cloth bag. He handed it over. The scavenger untied it and looked inside - it was roughly a pound and a half of salted meat. He wasn't sure what kind, though it most likely wasn't dog. Finally, the bald man laid the last trade good on the counter - a small block of wood. It wasn't of high quality, but that didn't matter to Jovah.

 

He mumbled a thank you, pocketed the wood and stepped outside, gazing around contemplatively. The wind was picking up. He sighed and walked through the cold at a slow pace to the inn.

 

The Throne, it was called. How such a name came in to being was a mystery. There was no throne inside, unless you considered bar stools, wooden chairs and a couple of couches to be such. Jovah figured it was because of where Winterbury sat - on the top of a hill, where one could see 180 degrees to the north and was protected to the south by a cliff. It was a geological throne - a seat of power. A perfect place for a city.

 

Jovah shivered and pushed through the double doors at the base of a wide, curving set of stairs. The Throne was populated. There were perhaps around twenty souls in the lobby alone. The seats at the bar were filled up, and two tenders waddled back and forth, disappearing in to a kitchen frequently, from which a delightfully pleasant scent wafted. It smelled of honey. He knew there was probably none on the premises, though imitation honey was easy enough to make. His stomach grumbled a little, and suddenly a small bit of despair shot through him. He remembered that the kitchen was for the rich - a hot, professionally prepared meal was expensive, at least four times the meager amount of money he was carrying on him. He drew two tin coins from his pocket and approached the counter. A minute later, a bartender approached.

 

"A cup of tea," Jovah said simply, laying the coins down.

 

"Bitter-root?"

 

"Yes, please." Of course it was bitter root. It was always bitter root. It was common enough to find and, while terrible to eat on its own, made a good, strong cup of hot tea. Economic, too - it was the cheapest you could get. It was a favorite among scavengers. Coffee was a delicacy, and it was usually imitation at best, so Jovah rarely wasted his money with it.

 

He adjusted his rifle on his back (which was unloaded, courtesy of the guard - loaded weapons were discouraged in Winterbury). The bartender disappeared in to the kitchen to start steeping the tea. Jovah walked away from the counter, taking a table with two seats in a particularly dark corner. He laid his rifle on the table and folded one leg over the knee of the other. He drew from his rucksack a very old newspaper, opening it up. Within it, however, was hidden a folded civilian map labeled 'FEBRUARY 2120 - S. F. AREA', which was by far the most recent work of cartography he had come across. More valuably, it was made of a laminated plastic. Not only protected from the elements, he could mark on it and erase when necessary, and for this purpose he took a small marker from his pocket, shaking it discretely before uncapping it and beginning to scroll over the map, making plans and occasionally marking a building.

 

To anyone not in the corner, it would probably look like he was tracing his finger over words in the newspaper, reading quietly and contemplatively. His rifle was more eye catching - a rather powerful weapon by anyone's standards, and not something people would generally use for the hunting of game.

 

(( For those wondering, Winterbury has a long, wide street running from the front gate back to the gate of the cavern behind it (which also has walls blocking it). There are several curved side streets that connect to other buildings. There's a trade post, two inns (the Throne is on main street), a clinic and a few miscellaneous shops usually dealing in junk.

 

Edit: Fixed some grammatical inconsistency. Also, forgot to mention, you're free to start wherever you like, but if you don't end up in Winterbury you'll have a hard time interacting with others. You could detail a two-days-long journey if you wanted to. ))

Edited by Arctic

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((Yay biggrin.gif I think it works as one topic for now, but depends if the storyline needs discussion I guess smile.gif ))

 

The small black dot trekked up the snow-covered road, heavy footprints leaving no trace due to the falling snow. Looking closer, the dot solidified into a girl, but the bleak whiteness still overwhelmed the surroundings; while up ahead a manmade structure awaited her. Winterbury.

 

Almost instinctively her eyes flickered to the black bag hanging from her shoulders, bashing against the dark fur of her coat as it had been for so long – now the warm strands had worn away so the bare skin was exposed. Little could be seen of the girl's pale skin which twinged with a pigment-deprived glow, her natural colouring robbed from her by the ash which tore the sun from the sky.

 

The bag was caving slightly inwards, the tightly woven fabric desperately trying to fill the void inside, while the worry that dotted her pupils brought emotion to the harsh wasteland. Tramp. Her boots pounded against the icy slope, digging in for a grip that the soles just didn't have. Tramp. Brown eyes watched the settlement ahead with her broken concentration leaving her clumsy and open. Tramp. Boot met black ice, and like a rock in water she stumbled. They stone wall rushed up to meet her lower leg, and her knee locked, smashing her chin against the boney joint. Eyes widening in shock and disorientation she froze; her arms wide open in a fail attempt at balancing. Pale lips mouthed the numbers, "One…Two…Three," then she sprang into action, hands running down her leg to check for breakages, the relieved sigh confirming that her worst fears had not come true. Hands resting on the injured leg, she pushed up, blinking furiously as she regained her balance. It was her right hand which lept to her belt, while her left checked her bag's fastening. Still closed. The flush which had spread over her face faded and some of the worry drained from her eyes, only to be replaced by fear.

 

She continued walking, watching her feet this time, as cobble by cobble passed underneath her tired and worn feet. Her weight was now slightly on her right foot, giving her a slight limp as she winced when her mass shifted to the other side. Winterbury was closer now, couldn't be more than ten minutes before she returned to crowds and bustling that any settlement brought. Her face turned towards the darkening sky, with her speed increasing and her stride was now imbued with a sense of hurry. Absentmindedly she fiddled with her plait, bored fingers caressing her hasty style; but her single-minded focus was to keep on walking. Keep on walking.

 

The settlement was within hearing distance now, and she blinked as in shock as the noise of life flowed over the walls, breaking the icy silence. Each breath seemed to take an age as if every one was a sigh, and what little worry still remained in her pale face vanished like a green bud in a blizzard.

She was almost at the settlement now, what was once long and hasty footstep now turning into sludgy trails as she dragged her feet to delay the inevitable. She was only around ten meters from the gates when she stopped, reaching into the bag to find a tactfully placed black bar. Bending down carefully, her face grimaced slightly with pain as she bent her left leg, she slowly moved the magnet over the covering of snow, watching for any kind of movement in the icy surface. Back and forth it swept as her arm circled the surrounding area, until a scrap of metal flew up from beneath the snow. Her eyes gleamed as she pocketed the shiny scrap, and pride amongst other emotions flickered across her face. Every little counted. Further searches resulted in naught but the snow and she replaced the magnet fervently in the bag, carefully sealing it so nothing could escape. Stretching her hands out clawlike, she scooped up a small ball of snow, lifting it to her nose and she inhaled the pure, slightly pine scent, then dropped it down with a slight sigh of regret.

 

Pushing herself up she turned towards the settlement, taking a deep breath in then turning back to face the scenery behind her. Shoulders drooping, her reluctant body turned, and head held low she limped in through the gates, into the Winterbury settlement. Nodding slightly to the guards, she walked past them, until she stood at a crossroads. The main street led to the shops, where she could trade and resupply, but the side street led to her parent's room, where she could stay the night. The battle between exhaustion and greed fought out, the flares flashing in her indecisive eyes, before she turned down the side road.

 

It was only a short walk down to her parent's block, but her limbs slowed with every step until she was standing outside the building, watching. Always watching. Her chest heaved with emotions, yet she walked in, and through some inhuman effort started to drag herself up the stairs, her lack of upper body strength becoming pitifully clear as she pulled herself up via the banister. Her parent's room was only halfway up, yet it felt like a mountain once she had reached the worn door, dulled by years of use. And this time, just like every time she'd been in this situation, she hesitated. Hesitated, and waited while her eyes dulled and her mind left. Suddenly, she stumbled towards the door, her weight pushing it open as she stepped into the room beyond.

 

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((an OoC might be easier just to handle questions and comments/general planning. But it's up to you. Arctic, if you have any problem with where I imagined Jovah to be sitting, you can tell me and I'll change it.))

 

"Seven. Perfect."

 

Although, the voice of the grim young man would indicate that the number spoken was anything but perfect. Yet it was the best he could expect; game was hard to find, especially game with decent fur. Not all seven cuts of fur were perfect, but they were good enough to fetch a decent price from anyone looking for a future coat or covering.

 

Rune had entered the gate to Winterbury ten minutes previous and was now sitting huddled against the wall as he finished making sure he had everything in order for venturing further into the city. His heavy-fur trench coat shielded the supplies from both the snow and greedy eyes. Coughing a little, Rune glanced up from his position to watch a man in white enter the city. His cold brown eyes stared ruthlessly at the newcomer, as though Rune himself owned the city and had the right to judge any who entered.

 

Rune both hated and loved the city; hated it because it reminded him of home. Loved it because it reminded him of home. But his adoration of it won over the hate, mostly because he could only imagine how much his brother disliked cities. His brother.

 

Where is the old man?

 

He absently wondered if the city's guards would have issues with letting a wolf in the city, but he doubted it. "And twenty. All set." Replacing his equipment within his trench coat, Rune stumbled to his feet and began to walk towards the main road. The sky was dark; he had to hurry and finish business before everything closed up. Rune stopped on instinct as another traveler entered the large gates. This time it was a woman, dressed in dark furs. She was limping, and Rune immediately began assessing why. Seeing as the limp was not major and she had in fact made it into the city, Rune felt no need to help her. Just another traveler, another day.

 

That was all anyone was these days; another face in the multitude. Hopelessness abounded, only topped off by sorrow. Pity was written on every face, but no one stopped to help another unless it brought benefit. There was no reason to, as life was hard enough. Rune clenched his jaw as he was again reminded of his brother, and for a moment he wondered if Matthias had saved his life only to let him suffer a while more. Or maybe it was instinct--humans tended to help humans out of some sort of inner-instinct, some hidden pride or twisted sense of honor. Which was it? Rune couldn't be sure, and he didn't care. The last six months had been the most miserable of his life, but they had also allowed him to think a little. Swallowing pity, regret and rage, Rune managed a smile at a random child before he continued his walk down the dark, wide main street.

 

He walked until he arrived at the clinic, which was usually open later than any building besides the tavern. It was also well guarded, being one of the most important buildings other than the trading post. Rune spoke quietly to the two guards at the well-locked iron door, and they let him in without a hassle. The healer there (he could be called a doctor, although his wide array and lack of learned skills persuaded Rune to use the simpler term) looked slightly surprised to see a seemingly uninjured person enter.

 

"Frostbite?" The old man asked with a raised brow.

 

Rune shook his head. "Trade, sir." The healer frowned. "This isn't the trading post." Rune met his eye calmly. "I'm not a common trader, sir." Rune began to open his trench coat, not even hesitating when the healer took the pistol off his waist in preparation for the worst. Rune opened the coat fully to reveal the supplies he carried, and the healer seemed pleased. They spent fifteen minutes doing business and discussing the city. Rune spoke as little as possible while still trying to gauge the city's status. It was fairly open, not afraid of being attacked, frequently visited and had no room for common travelers to move in permanently. Yes, there was a surprising amount of children, at least one in every twenty persons. Yes, trained animals were allowed and often traded. No, no one had mentioned a bald man with a half-closed left eye and scarred ears.

 

Rune nodded, thanked the healer and left with his supplies. He wondered where his anti-social relative had gone off to. He had split up with Matthias (although traveling together, the two preferred to avoid and ignore each other--an odd relationship, though perhaps not so odd for the times) outside the city for many reasons, the least being that they had different items to trade to different people. Rune was a healer; he traded his things for healing equipment when possible. Matthias was... well, in all rights he was simply a hunter who occasionally scavenged and was lucky to be alive, in Rune's opinion. He traded with the common traders. Besides, Matthias hated settlements.

 

Rune set off to go to the Throne. There was no reason to be outdoors if he didn't have to. The corner of his mouth twitched up in a grim smile as he thought of his brother once more. Matthias had said he was "not coming. At all." Rune, seeing the weather and noticing Matthias' prepared trading equipment, had translated that as "I'm not coming, I'm anti-social and hate all people, I refuse to go in the settlement... and if I get there and you don't have a separate room for me in the inn, I'll gut you in your sleep."

 

That pretty much summed up what Rune had learned about Matthias in the last six months.

 

He entered the inn quietly, trying not to draw attention to himself. It was easy not to; the inn was crowded, and Rune wondered if there were even two rooms available. Rooms were fairly costly, however, and he reasoned that most people were probably just there to drink the night away. He immediately casually observed his surroundings. To his left, three men played some card game. This alone indicated that they were well off, as cards were hard to come by. Likely they were residents of the city. Before Rune sat the majority of the drinkers. None of them were drunk, for alcoholic drinks were quite expensive. However, most of them were pretending to be for the sake of their sanity.

 

To Rune's right, among other people, sat a man in the corner with an ancient newspaper. This caught Rune's interest simply because the man actually had a newspaper to read, but this also lead Rune to notice the rather large rifle on the table. He openly stared at it, calculating its power and probable range. Interesting. He looked at the man again and noticed by the clothing that it was the same man who had entered the city not too long ago. Rune's staring was often misinterpreted as glaring or coveting, so he didn't think too long on the other traveler. Just another face.

 

He turned his attention back to the front and quietly asked about rooms. There were indeed two rooms available, right across from each other. Perfect. Rune quickly slipped two small brown bags to the man behind the counter. The man opened the bags and examined the contents; herbs good for brewing or chewing, and seven coins. Rune probably could have gotten away with offering less, but he wasn't in the mood to barter. The inn-keeper accepted it and handed two small keys to Rune.

 

After putting some things in his room and lightly scratching a 'W' on the wooden door of Matthias' room, Rune went back down to the tavern area and bought a cup of Bitter-root tea. There was one corner table remaining. It was on Rune's right and nearer to the door. The man with the large rifle was to the right and farther from the door. Rune sat at the table and sipped his tea, staring at his hands as he sorted his thoughts. An onlooker might have thought Rune was planning some sort of horrible curse upon someone; that was what Rune's expression and general stance seemed to indicate.

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(Yeah... My post is probably not going to be as good as your guys'.)

Tess was freezing. Literally. She had just left the small clinic in Winterbury as a very irritated and angry looking man entered. She had caught a slight case of frostbite on her left foot. She was told to keep inside as best she could for the next few days and she would be fine. Tess was forced to pay the last of her coins to be healed. 'Time to go back to work.' She thought to herself with a sly grin.

 

Tess approached the trading post and entered quietly. The place was only mildly crowded. She might not get beat up. Tess strided forward and slammed into a large man.

 

"Watch where you're going!" He yelled at her in a deep voice.

 

"Sorry." She apologized and exited the trading post.

 

When Tess entered The Throne, she leaned on a wall and counted what she had stolen. Three tin coins.

 

"D*mn it." She mumbled under her breath. Tess looked up and surveyed the crowded scenery. There was a man in the back corner with a very nice looking gun on the table. 'He must be rich.' She thought. Tess headed into the crowd. To make sure it didn't look like she was targeting

him, she wandered a bit. When Tess felt like it was time, she walked toward his booth,pretended to trip,and nearly landed on his lap. She apologized.

 

(Sorry if that counts as god-modding. I'll edit it if you want me to.)

Edited by Quhanta

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((I interacted with you Emeraldmay but indirection (with Indigo that is), this post doesn't really interact with anyone else directly so you can skim it if you wish, short version, Matthias is asleep in the inn))

 

Let's go to Winterbury Matthias. Rune had made the suggestion. His messy black hair and beady brown eyes made it clear that he wasn't going to take no for an answer... again. Matthias, William hated that name, oddly enough, it was his. Everyone always called him by it and he never expressed his feelings on the topic, still, everyone used it. It was his first name, as if order made some magical difference in the world. William, or Will, now those two he liked, names that rolled off the tongue like liquid glass. Matthias as a warrior, or a lord, a king, or a guardian, something upstanding and social, disgusting. William was cool, was he a friend or a foe, was he a hunter or prey, would he shake your hand or stab you in the chest? William was strong and silent, Matthias as loud and social.

 

Rip growled, wrenching Matthias out of his thoughts, the wolf never liked it when his master zoned out, it made him uneasy. Matthias scuffed the wolf's ear, testing his mood. Rip shook his head and lowered it, good, it wasn't Spring yet. The seasons normally wouldn't have mattered much to Matthias, the cold of winter was little different than the cold of summer. For some old traditional types the seasons and days might have a deeper meaning, but as Matthias continued packing his ruck, he could have cared less. In fact, he wouldn't have cared at all if Rip weren't so beasteously affected by spring time. The wolf was worth his weight in copper coins as far as Matthias was concerned, but having a wolf had it's own set of unique challenges, including the fact that every spring, without fail, Rip would make an all too serious attempt on his owner's life. It was the dominance game that Matthias played every year, and so far, he'd won, he was still alive after all (if not scarred from past bouts).

 

Rip growled again and Matthias smiled, stroking the wolf's head, something Rip hated. "Yeah yeah, alright, I'll stop zoning on you. It's not like we're in the middle of a hunt." They weren't in fact they were at the very end of one. Rune had left a few hours ago, making his way towards Winterbury and while Matthias had no desire to travel into the settlement, his brother's hasty departure was bound to scare up some game as he bumbled around in the woods on his way there.

 

Matthias zipped up the rucksack and tightened all the fastenings, tossing it onto his back and strapping it across his chest and waist. The sack was old but sturdy enough, at the moment it was filled with furs from many many successful hunts. Rune had said it was high time to trade them out, they'd make a tidy sum. Matthias didn't care about that though, he'd just as soon toss the furs into a snowdrift as trade them up at the settlement, he wasn't low on anything, he didn't need to trade. The success of the last few weeks in this area near the abandoned city meant he could live without human contact for that much longer, why trade now? He sighed, lying on his back and placing his hands under the front legs of the elk he had killed an hour ago. His brother had scared it up, he's shot it, and rip had brought it down. By now all the blood had drained, fresh meat, it would sell.

 

Matthias grunted, heaving the small animal onto his shoulders, resting it's midsection on the top of his ruck and adjusting it so that he was balanced. The elk wasn't full grown, but it hardly mattered, meat was meat, and the younger the more tender.

 

Matthias stood for a moment to adjust the wolf-pelt he wore on his head which had been messed up in his effort to stabilize the elk. "If you decide that we need to have a little fight on the way to the settlement, while I'm carrying all this, and I survive long enough to drop the elk..." he glared down at Rip, "I'll gut you and make you my hew hat, got it?"

 

Rip barked at him, obviously having no idea what it was he was being told but eager to respond. Matthias nodded, "good, I'm glad you understand." Of course, Rip understood nothing, but Matthias treated him as if he understood everything, he was well trained but that wasn't the reason. It seemed that even he, anti-social as he was, needed someone to talk to, Rip had filled that gap. That is until his brother had showed up six months ago to remind him why he didn't miss being around people.

 

Matthias made his way out of the woods, walking steadily towards the settlement. He kept a close eye on the ground and on Rip. A tiny deviation in the contour of the snow told the difference between a three-foot drift and a three inch dusting. He wasn't interested in falling with this much weight on his back. He kept an eye on Rip because the wolf would pick up anything predator in the area attracted by the blood before Matthias ever would. Also, the wolf was acting antsy, whining and prancing around, that meant a blizzard.

 

Maybe it is wiser to be indoors tonight... he mused, cursing his brother's eagerness to be amongst humans again.

 

He wasn't far from the treeline when a figure, also heading towards the settlement, piqued his interest. It was immediately identifiable as human, and the normalized clothing meant it wasn't a stray lurker. The small frame and gait told Matthias one thing female.

 

Rip whined, spotting the easy prey. Matthias growled back at him, an obvious no. He didn't hunt humans... often, and never females. She didn't notice him, it would have been difficult to notice him though so Matthias wasn't surprised. He was still at least three hundred yards to her rear and his whole body was covered in white fur, the only distinctions being the elk and Rip, who was a dull gray and white mix. His eyes immediately picked something else out, even at this distance he recognized her limp. His gut told him easy prey, and he reminded himself that this wasn't a deer or a wounded raker, it was a woman and therefore not on his list of things to hunt, but he understood Rip's compulsion, she would have made an easy target.

 

She continued toward the settlement, limping slightly, carrying something, a bag of some sort. She was probably a scavenger. Still, she intrigued him. She was out here, alone, limping, small, not obviously armed, everything about her said 'come kill me' in any predator's language. She pressed on with such tenacity, even though it was obvious that she was in some pain. Matthias decided not to make contact but simply to follow her. She was hurt and obviously headed toward the settlement, he would make sure nothing bothered her before she got there.

 

As she reached the gate she stooped down and opened her bag. Not wanting to make contact, Matthias turned sixty degrees to his left, positioning a moderate snowdrift immediately behind himself, and allowed himself to fall backwards into the soft snow. He sat up, head barely above the indentation he'd made, and watched the woman. She was doing something, he couldn't tell what, seemingly through though she stopped, looked about, and entered the settlement. Matthias heaved the elk back onto his shoulders and returned to the moderately shallow snow of the road that lead to the settlement. No longer having her in sight, he jogged up to the gate and nodded at the guards.

 

Nodding, it was the slightest of gestures, but if you nodded at someone and just walked in, like you had lived there all your life, people tended not to ask questions. It helped that he had Rip with him, and that he had no firearms on his person. They didn't stop him, so he kept on going, continuing down the main road until he caught sight of the woman again. She was the most interesting thing he'd seen all day and was determined to find out where she was from.

 

Matthias was no longer worried about her spotting him, there were enough people around that it didn't look like he was following her, even though he stood out what with the elk and the sack bursting with furs. Rip growled at just about everyone though so he was given a good berth. In Matthias' mind... that was Rip's most useful feature, the distinct social bubble the wolf gave him when walking amongst others. The wolf may have been seen as a a threat and done away with if not for the thick black-leather collar that Matthias had him wearing, obviously marking him as anything but a stray.

 

There she was, pausing now at a crossroads, she finally turned off the main road and up a side street. Her gait seemed to shout out to Matthias that she was exhausted, near passing out it seemed. She was too tired to watch for anyone following her, did normal people do that? Matthias wondered as he turned down the same street, checking to see if anyone was following him. No one was.

 

The woman, or was it girl? He couldn't tell past all the clothing she wore to stay warm. She opened a door and pushed her way inside. It wasn't an inn, so this must be where she lived, or at least someone she knew lived here. Husband? Matthias' gut told him no, she wouldn't have been out alone if that were the case. Good.

 

Matthias turned and whistled for Rip to follow him. He would remember where the house was for later, for now he needed to get rid of this elk... the extra three-hundred pounds were starting to wear on him, even with the ruck sack balancing it. Five minutes later he was walking into the trading post. The doorway was large and he had little trouble fitting through it. The elk immediately drew attention as William set it down on the floor.

 

Two men came out from behind the counter and began to inspect it. Meanwhile Matthias set the rucksack down and pulled the large bundle of furs out from the ruck, quickly closing it again to hide his bow and other items he wasn't interested in broadcasting that he owned.

 

"The elk is fresh, only an hour old, the furs are all good quality, they're all up for trade." Matthias spoke, "the dog is not," he said as one of the men eyed Rip keenly.

 

With a shrug the man went back to inspecting the elk and the furs. Eventually the two men left the room with the elk leaving only the man behind the counter who was writing something down. Matthias pretended to read what he was writing. The man took the furs too and placed them behind the counter, it was time to find out what he could get back.

 

"Alright, seems to be in good order, what are you looking for."

 

"Scrap," Matthias found himself saying, "metal, computer parts, the like, the more sophisticated the better."

 

The man frowned, "we don't get a lot of that, but you're in luck, a fellow stopped by not too long ago with a computer chip."

 

"Tools, blades, magnets, tinder, salt, sugar, candy, yeah, candy." Matthias replied, indicating what he was interested in.

 

The man nodded, leaving the computer chip on the table and fetching a few rough blades the nicest of which was a multi-tool like leatherman. More interesting was a bunch of hard candies as well as a sack of sugar and one of salt, and interestingly enough, a large magnet. Scavengers love magnets, girls love candy, it was a perfect trade. After several minutes of bartering, Matthias walked away with the magnet and the computer chip in exchange for the elk, and a half pound of sugar, a pound of salt, a handful of candies and thirty copper coins for the furs.

 

Matthias kept a small patch of black wolf-s fur that he'd sewn into a bag and deposited the computer chip, the candies, the magnet, and the multitool. Satisfied that he'd finally found something to do with his earnings, he left the trading post and walked back down the street to the same house he had seen the woman enter. Matthias knocked on the door, moments later a man came to the door, but not the woman's husband, this man was older, a father perhaps? Good.

 

"I'm sorry to intrude, but there was a young woman who came into the settlement recently and she dropped this," he handed the man the wolf-fur pouch that was tied shut at the top, "my dog lead me here so I assume this is where she is? She was about this tall, thin, limping slightly." Matthias described.

 

The man, seeming suspicious, nodded once, "I'll see that it gets back to her."

 

Matthias translated the words in his head thank you now go away and so he turned and left. Hoping that his gift made it to the curious woman he'd seen earlier. While he couldn't write, the pouch contained not only the gifts, but also a simple patch of deer-leather with a large "W" sketched in the middle of a wolf's paw, the mark that Matthias had used for some time now to identify his furs, maybe he would see her again, he could always prove it was him who had sent the gift because of the mark.

 

Either way, he wasn't betting on it making a huge impact, he didn't even have any intention of seeking the woman out to meet her. She simply seemed like she was probably having a bad day, and in truth Matthias didn't have anything he wanted to trade for the elk, it had been a surprise and blessing. Giving away his trade didn't register with him as strange or as a sign, it just felt good, so away the black fur pouch went, up the stairs, and into the room in which Indigo was sleeping. There it rested, next to the door, awaiting it's new owner's waking.

 

Matthias headed to the Throne, the inn he had only visited twice in the past four years. It was time to get some sleep, and maybe some alcohol, depending on how he felt. He walked into the inn and showed his mark to the man in charge who directed him to a room.

 

Looks like he's useful for something, Matthias mused, slipping into the room Rune had prepared for him. The room was simple and though there was a bed, Matthias opted for the more familiar feel of the hard floor. He shut the door and slid the latch into place, tossed his rucksack down on the middle of the floor and lay down against it, Rip shuffled over after sniffing around the whole room and lay next to him.

 

Matthias closed his eyes, gripping a seven-inch military blade in his right hand as he drifted off to sleep, one could never be too careful...

Edited by Rakashua

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As Jovah's index finger traveled across the map hidden behind the old newspaper, his eyes caught sight of a building labeled as 'CHASE PHM.', and he maneuvered his finger over to mark its place. The building was located deep in to Redwood City, almost bordering the coast of the bay. It was rather large, about four times the size of the surrounding office buildings, but the map didn't indicate it was a skyscraper. There was a small code underneath it, reading '513'. Jovah dedicated the number to memory and flipped to the back of the map, scrolling down a list of numbers. As he sifted the pages looking for the five-hundreds, he thought.

 

The building was most likely a high tech development, meaning it had security systems. This indicated that it was likely there were some rooms locked up and untouched, which was good. The problem was getting them open. Any locked doors would be locked for a reason; if nobody before him had managed to open them, how could he manage to? Furthermore, the building was surrounded by thick commercial and industrial development, which gave further hope that it had remained mostly undiscovered. He had noticed a subway station nearby, which would serve him well if he needed to escape in a flash. He cut off his thoughts as he reached the page he was looking for.

 

507 - Parks & Recreation (general).

508 - Parks & Recreation (nature).

509 - Parks & Recreation (garden/zoo).

510 - Parks & Recreation (amusement).

511 - Pharmaceuticals (commercial).

512 - Pharmaceuticals (warehouse).

513 - Pharmaceuticals (development).

 

Jovah flipped back over to the front of the map and drew a small black circle over the building, as he had done to five or six beforehand. They had most likely long been looted, but there still were buildings that were untouched by human hands, and he hoped Chase was one of them. He bolded the circle and put two dots off to one side. He then continued his search, pausing only when the door opened. His eyes flickered up (as they always did to new arrivals) to catch sight of a man dressed in various furs sewn together. Jovah sized up the man quietly until the newcomer's gaze fell over on to him, during which he lowered his eyes back to the paper and carried on as if he was reading it.

 

The man took a seat, and Jovah put him out of his mind.

 

Not two minutes later, the door opened again and a woman entered. She seemed curious of the place, and Jovah's eyes once more flickered up and moved with her as she shifted in to the crowd and slid through it. She carried with her a certain wily air that unsettled Jovah, but only that of what a concerned mother might feel towards a stranger and perceived threat to her children. She soon emerged from the crowd and was suddenly heading nearer to him. At this point, he regarded her like a circling shark. He tipped the newspaper inwards slightly and adjusted himself, preparing to disarm her - his intuition, as usual, paid off. She tripped (whether or not it was feigned was difficult to tell) as she neared him, nearly falling upon his lap. He quickly shot out a hand and caught her fall by the arm, deflecting her from his lap, but keeping her mostly upright and stopping her from clattering to the floor. Playing it off, he smiled and set the newspaper fully on his lap, his kind eyes remaining focused on her as a whole - hands, feet, face. Anything that might try to trick him.

 

"Whoah! Easy there," Jovah exclaimed, feigning surprise as he caught her. He adjusted himself, then helped tip her back on her feet. He leaned back, regarding her quietly, checking each of her hands with his eyes - she had taken nothing in the one second they had been touching. "You alright there, gal?" He asked softly, resting his arms over the newspaper in his lap.

 

(( By the way, in the event there is a powerplay against your character, you're free to "block" it much like I did here. Change the course of what they do. "John punches James in the face" turns to "As John sends a punch at James face, he tilts to one side, taking the blow in the shoulder instead". Makes the RP progress more quickly - no one has to stop to complain. If it gets bad, I'll speak up. ))

Edited by Arctic

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(Sorry this is a bit short, I'm writing it at school :L )

 

Sitting in her room, Indigo shrugged off her furs, which seemed like almost a second skin to her now, feeling somewhat vulnerable as the cold latched to her skin, causing her to shiver. Her families’ flat had always been bare, and the pile of blankets that lay in a small alcove was the only sign of her prescence. No childhood toys remained – they had been long sold – the last traces of her youth lingering as height notches cut into the plaster doorway. A basic heater leant against one corner surrounded by two beds, and the floor was heaped by fraying rug upon fraying rug, the bare metal long hidden under so many skins. There was a lot of free space.

 

Her right leg was tucked lay under her torso, while her left lay out front as she examined it. Throbs of the bruising kept her heavy eyelids from sinking, yet some part of her lay hesitant to remove the leggings and see the extent of the damage. Her father had confirmed the lack of a break, and told her she would need naught but a few nights rest, but already the call of travel echoed round her bored mind, and she itched to keep moving. Spread out in front of her lay the contents of the bag, clothing in one pile to be painstakingly washed in the icy water, while what remained of her food rations was still in a motely heap, the waxy wrappers melting slightly in a warmth they were unaccustomed too. An assortment of tools lay next to a half dismantled gun, which careless wires stretched out from like pine trees through the snow, and a small grey pouch lay next to. Gunpowder. She was running low, and needed to stock up soon, yet could she afford too? She hadn’t travelled that far, and her meagre finds would just support her supplies, let alone any extra. A few coins, unearthed by an avalanche, mere scraps of what would have once been long wires, and the hidden prize, a gear.

 

She turned now, laying her heavy furs out across the floor. It had been a long time sicne it had been fully aired, and she doubted she would have the opportunity again. Sweeping up her finds, she refilled the black bag, leaving only the clothes and trade in a neat pile to one side. Night was drawing in, and she couldn’t risk losing even such a meagre amount in the dark.

 

They had no candles – there was no point, you worked in the days and the nights you slept, rested and awaited the morn. This made the light precious, as it went to fast, but nights – you just sat and watched. When she’d been young, the darkness hasd scared her, as fears of beasts ripping her apart came. But as time ticked on, it became clear that her parents would never turn the lights on, no matter her wailing. So she had stopped.

 

The door knocked now, an unwelcome surprise. In all her time here, nobody had ever knocked. She’d always come to the traders, and who else would call, when there was nobody else? She’d been less than an hour in the city, and the crowd of people was already bothering her, like buzzing fly in the room that you just can’t swat, so her frustration as a child… she preferred not to think about those days.

 

“I’ll get it.” Never had Indigo felt so grateful for her father, as she could parely pry off the jaws of sleep, let alone answer the door to any visitors who would come this late. Who even travelled around at this time? Unless you had the supplies to waste, you stayed inside. Nobody could waste. Darkness was almost here, and she was glad, a this day had brought too much exhaustion to her tired frame, and she’d barely arrived in time. What madness had possessed her to walk this far, all through the night to get home? The weather seemed clear, and no creatures could be seen for miles.

 

Plotting it out in her head, she worked out it would take her about two days. Wake up early. Do washing, trade for supplies, return and sleep. Day two, wake up early, fiddle with gun, finish packing bag. Day three, up early and leave. Sorted. Pushing the worries about her leg out of her mind – of course it would fix, it was just a mere bruise – she untied her hair, steadily unplaiting the tassel of dirty hair, which hadn’t been washed in how long?, and winding it down until a mass of curls flowed down from her scalp. It wasn’t naturally curly, but after so long caught in the straightjacketed style led it to boudnd towards freedom.

 

Her father had returned now, and she looked up at him, too tired to even mouth the words which lept into her head. “Who was it?” Had she said that outloud, or was it a mere whisper in her mind? Either way, she got a reply.

“Some guy called.” He thrust a dark fur bag at her, yet her arms were too tired to catch the thrown object, resulting with it spilling out around her feet. Some kind of rocks, no, candy toppled out, making a neat pile on the floor in front of her. Two V’s seemed to be tanned onto the fur’s surface, but they blurred into four, six, eight under the mist of tiredness.

 

“Are you…messing with anyone you shouldn’t be?” The harshness in her father’s voice she knew was masked concern, yet her body involuntarily flinched at the lack of trust he seemed to have for her. Yes, she did have a tendency of collapsing in half dead, but she didn’t even mess with good people, let alone the wrong sort. Other’s opinions had no matter to her, and while the gift was a pleasant surprise, she couldn’t help feeling in the giver’s debt.

 

“No.” The sharpness of her voice surprised even her, and she wavered slightly, as if her denial left her guilty. “I work alone.” The world was becoming dizzy now, as reality blurred and inanimate objects seemed to dance along the screen of her eyes.

 

She was asleep before her head fell onto the pile of blankets below, and she barely noticed as her father covered her with the worn blankets.

 

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Rune was brought half out of his thoughts when the door opened again, and a young woman entered. Rune didn't look up, only catching sight of her out of the corner of his eye. He continued staring at the lines in the wooden table as he sorted out the future. Tomorrow, if the weather was half-bearable and the gate wasn't totally covered in snow, they would leave as the sun rose. They would go far from the city, as Matthias wouldn't want to be near people for another hundred years or so. They would hunt, look for good 'pits', and continue with life. Matthias would surely ask Rune to read the bible Rune had happened to grab before leaving home (because in Rune's mind, Matthias wasn't intelligent or motivated enough to learn to read himself) and Rune would, if only to pass the time. Most of that he didn't understand anyway. They would hunt, scavenge, survive, hunt some more, and scavenge some more. Life would go on; nothing would change except for their routes and the amount of scars Matthias had.

 

Rune didn't even glance up when the door opened again; he could tell by the way the door opened that it was Matthias, and the soft step of the wolf was very recognizable. He didn't move as Matthias and the wolf passed by, going directly up to find their room. 'W' was its mark; Rune had seen Matthias mark his goods this way, and out of the shred of respect he had for his brother's hunting skills he politely used the 'W' when necessary to wordlessly communicate with his brother. When it came to Matthias, anything was better than communicating with words.

 

Rune sensed a sudden tensity to his right and turned his head just in time to see a small, young woman trip and almost land on the man with the newspaper. Fortunately, the man seemed prepared. Rune stared curiously. Had she fallen purposely? She was the one who had just entered minutes ago. Had the newspaper man been so prepared because he knew she was coming? Rune wasn't sure, and he honestly didn't care very much. The only thing that really interested him was that he had seen this woman before. Yes, she had been leaving the clinic as Rune had been entering, and like most people she had given him a rather wide berth.

 

"Whoah! Easy there," the newspaper man said. His voice bothered Rune for a moment, for it reminded him of someone else... someone from his past. Rune gazed at the two strangers, his grim jaw set. The young woman seemed rather tired and yet quite intent. She had been favoring her left foot earlier, which was probably what caused her to trip. From the way she walked, Rune guessed she had caught frostbite. Such a thing was expensive to have looked at, especially by 'real' healers in cities like Winterbury. Either she was well-off or desperate. Rune sighed and turned back to his own table. Then he glanced at her again. She was really young he thought, certainly no older than twenty and probably younger.

 

The man she had almost fallen on seemed surprisingly polite to her, unlike the drinkers at the main bar area who were laughing and making crude jokes already. The unusual nature of this man caught Rune's interest enough that he decided to subtly follow the conversation that the young woman and the newspaper man were sure to have. But he no longer stared at them; he now stared at his empty tin mug, idly tracing the dents in the metal with his finger. He smiled slightly, imagining what Matthias would have done if a young one had fallen on him... and what his smelly wolf would have done.

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Winterbury was close to San Francisco. A lot of people worried about the proximity. The closer towns that had been previously founded there had all failed. It was a disturbing thought. No one wanted to think that they were in danger when they felt so safe. But, in all honesty, Winterbury seemed so safe. It didn't just offer the comforts that a scavenging life didn't, but it had walls. Walls were hard to come by anymore. They took a lot of work to put up and, frankly, there weren't many fortified towns. Many of the people who were still alive were alive because they were nomads. The nomadic peoples seemed to live longer than the townspeople. Townspeople got too used to the comfort of their daily lives. Not everyone in Winterbury worked to correct this, but some did. It was a select few, mind you. In fact, if there was more than one, that one person didn't know of the others.

 

The one person who worked to always feel alert was a young man. He was 24 years old. He was taller than the average man, and was so obviously healthy. Unlike some of the more wealthy townspeople in Winterbury, the man kept his weight down by constant and rigorous training. It was important to him to stay healthy. He'd heard too many horror stories of what happened to the people who got too comfortable. Having been born in deplorable conditions, the man was more than happy to keep himself ready for any battle that could arise. He was broad shouldered, heavily muscled, and had a rather rugged look to him in general. His deep brown eyes were like shadows, and it was near impossible to see his pupils. The man had jet black hair, cut just short enough that no one could get a hold of it. His facial hair was kept as short as he could with just a knife.

 

Benjamin Reed was that man. He had come to Winterbury only a few years ago. From that moment on, he'd worked. Not only the fields, but his body. As a former slave, Benji knew what hard labor felt like. It was proper to push oneself as far as they could go. If you didn't do that to yourself, then you got too soft to defend yourself. In a world like it was today, no one could allow themselves to do that. And yet, here it was. Disgusting. Benjamin had half a mind that this laziness is what caused the world to end up like it was now. This notion, however, bothered him greatly. So, like the good physical person that he was, he chose not to think about it. Not to think about it, and still do whatever he could to combat the disease of laziness from spreading farther into humanity.

 

There was a certain love for freedom that no man, other than a former slave, could feel. This love was reflected in his work. He worked as though he'd never get the chance to work again. It was a strange idea, that a former slave would be afraid of not being able to work again. But, be that as it may. He still needed it. It made him feel as though he not only had a place in the world, but was actually making a difference in that which he cared about. Ben loved working, and he was awfully good at working on the farms. He could outshine all of the other workers within a few hours of working and, being a fairly non-confrontational person, he never said a word about it to the others.

 

He soon became the most trusted worker of the hydroponic farms in Winterbury. And, as soon as that was decided, he was offered a job as a foreman. Graciously, he accepted. Ben's life wasn't easier then. In fact, he often wished that he was just a worker again. Unfortunately, however, no one knew the farms quite as well as he did. If he were to quit, he would cause more trouble than ever. The job as a foreman wasn't all that bad. He met many interesting people, and he even got to sell some of Winterbury's crops out to the people who needed it. Ben was a kind man, but a shrewd business man. While he rarely cut anyone slack, he would occasionally. Those moments were well hidden to the others, not that many other people cared whether or not he gave someone his own rations.

 

Today, Ben was off of work. It left him feeling... empty. He needed to work somehow. He was running. The tunic material lightly flitted around his body except in the spots where it stuck to sweat. He should have been wearing more than just his parka. He could feel the biting cold, but he needed to run and sweat like this. It kept him sane. Benjamin's blood was pumping and, though he couldn't feel the majority of his body all that well, he felt more alive than he had ever when dealing with the paper work of being a foreman.

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"I-I... um..." Tess had never been caught before. Psychically caught. Usually if she missed, she hit the floor and everyone around her would laugh. This man, though, saved her from the pain of hitting the table or floor and even seemed kind. 'No.' She thought to herself. 'He couldn't be. To him, she was but some random stranger, what reasoning would he have for being kind to her.'

"Th-th-thank you, sir." She replied grimly. Tess removed his hand from her arm. She needed to lean on the table slightly, her foot was starting to hurt more from the overuse. Sitting would have been nice to do at one point in between heists. Unfortunately, if someone yelled out that they had been stolen from, she wouldn't want to be there sitting.

"I-it's my foot. I s-seemed to have gotten frostbite on it. It's w-why I fell." Tess gave him a few curt nods and examined the room. She realized that she would have to leave and try again somewhere else. Unfortunately, it was already dark and there were probably no available rooms, not like she had enough for lodging anyway.

"May I sit and have a chat?" She asked politely, losing the stutter that came with her surprise. Tess figured that if she was going to be in this place for the night, she might as well speak to someone. Although, she did examine him carefully. He had a large scar on his face and neck and a missing finger, both not unusual in this region, or any for that matter. By the looks of him, she decided that she didn't want him to think that she had tried to steal from him. What would happen if he found out? Would he try to beat her like the other men?

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Jovah's chocolate eyes shifted up to look into Tess's. While they carried kindness in their depths, they also carried a sort of firm, paternal disappointment and warning - he suspected her, and he made it apparent. Still, this didn't seem to at all affect the warmth of his personality. He reached over and took his rifle from the table smoothly as he spoke, eyes never straying too far from her.

 

"Go right ahead. I'm simply waiting on my tea," he said kindly. The rifle in his hands -- well, its condition was hard to make out, but some effort had clearly gone into it, so it was safe to say it worked. It was wrapped in white tape, almost definitely for the purposes of camouflage, but you could catch glimpses of black polymer (what the pre-war firearm seemed to be made of) underneath gaps in the coverage, providing an interesting contrast. Judging from the size of the barrel and the length of the magazine input, it could be concluded that it fired rather large rounds - certainly enough to set a man lifeless in no more than two shots or so. It was not an implement of hunting, and this much was obvious. The kindly gentleman sitting before Tess had killed, and perhaps killed often. This was fact. His demeanor did not reinforce this fact, though - he was not grizzled, nor cold in personality, nor hard in spirit. He was actually rather open and accepting, and while he showed pain in his eyes, a peculiar peacefulness lingered about him, almost a warmth that seeped through one's skin.

 

It was as if this scavenger was at peace with the world.

 

"It may be nice to have someone to talk to," Jovah continued, placing the rifle between his legs. He folded the newspaper over itself and rolled it up a little, map still hidden within, and slipped it into a particularly large side-pocket on his duffel bag (which rested off to his right side, sandwiched between the wall and him. The table was on his left.) He zipped it shut to ensure it wouldn't be taken.

 

He turned the creaky wooden chair he sat on so it faced the stone table, and rested his left arm on the mostly smooth surface. His eyes shined with nothing but kindness and thought as he gestured towards the chair opposite of him with a smooth wave of his right arm. Jovah then dropped the arm down onto his lap and wrapped a fist around the barrel of his weapon gently, partially gloved fingers taking hold of the aged metal.

 

"Have you gotten your foot looked at?" Jovah asked curiously and concernedly, for the first time turning his eyes away from her face and down to her left foot. It was now that it could be noticed that he put a particular emphasis on 'v', almost to the point where it hissed out as an 'f'. His words also seemed to slur together slightly, as if the spaces between them were there to mark an exhalation or sigh rather than a pause. Still, his accent was barely noticeable and was more likely a result of being brought up in a settlement rather than some speech impediment.

Edited by Arctic

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Tess met his gaze and stared, with the green stones she called eyes, into his deep brown eyes. The look in her eyes could startle small children, as it always could.

"Thank you." She replied calmly. As she sat down, she noticed is gun. It did not look like it was very useful for hunting.

"Yes, I have." Tess replied to his inquiry about her foot's well being. As a man approached them with a mug in his hand, Tess shrank away, hiding her face. When he left, she returned to her regular straight-backed posture as though nothing had happened.

"May I ask your name?" She asked with a subtle hint of blithe in her tone. Tess was not accustomed to having conversations with many people.

 

(Grrr... Sorry it's so short.)

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Jovah's eyes followed Tess as she took a seat. He leaned back and rested his head against the wall, rapping his fingers on the stone countertop slowly. He blinked slowly and looked around the room. Each time Tess spoke, Jovah's lips parted a little as if he were about to respond, but only ended up speaking after a few moments of silence had passed. This seemed to be another peculiar mannerism in how he spoke, and once more more likely attributed to his upbringing or intellect rather than an unknown impediment. The hesitation was characteristic of those either incredibly shy or incredibly careful, and the scavenger was most certainly not the former of the two. It was immediately after Tess asked his name that a staff member, a waiter, approached, cutting off Jovah as he began to respond. A metal mug with a cardboard insulated handle was set before him, wispy tendrils of steam rising upward from the hot liquid, carrying with them a delicious, bittersweet scent.

 

Jovah took the handle of the cup and gave a nod and mumbled 'thank you' to the waiter as he left, then took a sip. The heat didn't seem to bother him. One could be quite certain it burned his mouth with how hot it seemed, but the pleasant sensation of the heat would far overpower the pain. He almost seemed to shiver a little with pleasure and warmth, settling back in his seat with a content sigh. He set the mug down.

 

"Jovah," he replied. "I'm a scavenger. I've never particularly liked being labeled as such, though. I prefer to think of myself as a hunter of relics."

 

Jovah kept his hand resting on the counter. In the darkness of the corner, his Asiatic features seemed more pronounced - his eyes carried with them a slight narrowness and his skin was taut against his face and slightly darker than one would expect in a sunless world. He leaned forward and pushed the cup over to her, gesturing to it with his left hand, offering her some.

 

"And what, pray tell, would yours be, my dear?" He paused, keeping his mouth slightly open and settling back against the wall and adjusting his heavy, white winter coat around him. Bits of snow could be seen in his beard from when he had been out in the street, though now they were quickly melting away, leaving specks of glistening water in their wake.

 

"Moreover, what are you doing in Winterbury, if it isn't too sensitive a question?" Jovah finished. "Tell me about yourself."

Edited by Arctic

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'Jovah.' She thought. 'Nice.' The word she thought, she also said. Tess stared at him as held the hot, silver, metal mug out to her. It looked like he was enjoying it and that was a good thing for him. He could have it all, it was his after all.

 

"No thank you." She replied in a quiet and polite tone. Tess was not fond of any types of tea or coffee. When Jovah had asked her what her name was, she fell silent for a moment and dived into her memories. It had been a while since anyone had asked, so she wasn't quite sure what it was. After a bit of concentration, she replied clearly.

 

"Tess." She stated finally. "Tess Mayort." She blushed mildly at his next question. Jovah had asked her what her job was. 'Crap!' She thought. 'Oh yeah, I'm a pick-pocket.' Going against her better judgement, she blatantly spoke the truth.

 

"Since I am a young woman, the men at the trading posts usually don't take me too seriously; They think that whatever I try to trade is fake or broken. Whatever I have, they don't want. So... I'm kind of a... Pick-pocket, I guess." She whispered the last bit. Tess rubbed the back of her neck anxiously.

 

"Sorry about trying to steal from you." She remarked, tapping her fingers upon the table. Tess instinctively moved into a position of which she could run away easily if he advanced toward her in any form of a threatening manor. He would not be able to catch her if she could make it outside. His gun most likely could though.

 

"So... What are you doing in Winterbury?" She said awkwardly, attempting to change the subject. 'I am so going to die, aren't I?' She thought to herself. Her face hid her slight panic, but her eyes portrayed it a bit. 'Why did I say that?' Tess mentally reprimanded herself.

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Jed had been up long before most creatures would be awake, and as he stood over the kill that would sustain his daughter for the next several days, he glanced briefly at the thick grey sky before turning back and continuing to drag the carcass toward the home that awaited him. Inside that house would be his daughter, his ever-hungry daughter that was dependent on him to help protect her and to help her survive. There were many that would want to kill her if they knew she was there, but Jed would slay them all if that was what it took, and it just so happened that that was exactly what it had taken just the other day. The man hadn't seen her yet, hadn't opened the door to her bedroom yet, but he had entered Jed's house. Without a care in the world for what could be lying inside, the man had entered the house that Jed was living in, and if Jed hadn't entered just then, it could've been his daughter's carcass lying on that floor instead of the stranger's. What if another one came? What if another man came in while Jed was away and wished to hurt his daughter? Gripping his throbbing forearm, he shook his head and told himself not to think about it; if he did, it could quickly become his own downfall, and without himself, what did his daughter have? She would have nothing but certain death.

 

When he had woken that morning, he was sure that he would have to leave; the wound he had obtained from the fight with the man who intruded upon Jed's domain had gotten swollen and red. The heat that emanated from the gash was disconcerting, and he knew that he had absolutely no idea how one was supposed to treat a wound of this sort. Clearly it would need something more than a bandage, and that was something that Jed didn't have. There was only one answer, and that was an answer that was most unwelcome, for it involved people and asking help from them. Jed knew that everything was based on trade, and he had nothing to offer, unless someone wanted a few more pelts or some meat. There was not another option, and he knew that the safest thing for his daughter was for him to leave her behind. He could never take her somewhere so dangerous, but there was also a risk in leaving her behind, for he didn't know what might get to her. He couldn't let anyone hurt his daughter, and taking her towards people would just be taking her towards her demise.

 

The caribou was young, lost and already half-dead from lack of food and the cold. It already had some wounds on it's side, and he probably only would've had to wait for about an hour before it fell and died on it's own, but he didn't have that kind of time. He tossed a spear towards it, and watched as it sunk thickly into its side. With a loud scream, the animal's knees buckled and it collapsed, though its agonizing breaths could still be heard. Drawing a dagger, Jed slit its throat and crouched by its legs, grabbing them and getting ready to pull the caribou behind him. Though he could clearly use the meat, it wasn't for him. Along with he man he had killed, this small caribou would help sustain her for a few days. With a grunt, he began a slow walk towards his house which he could see in the distance, and suddenly wished that he had thought to take Bolen with him, that way he could've just held the carcass in front of him as he sat comfortably on his horse's saddle. Instead, he had to make it hard for himself, and he found that he was trudging along on what now seemed to be a long hike. His home gradually grew close, until he was by its font, whereupon he heaved it up the steps and into the house, leaving a blood trail behind him. As soon as it was inside the hall, Jed closed the front door and turned towards the bedroom at the end of the hall, which's doorknob had been turned the wrong way so that Jed could lock her in.

 

The doorknob slowly turned and opened the door as Jed let himself into his daughter's room. In her own small parka, she sat in a corner, her hands tied behind her back to the old radiator behind her. Smiling softly, he rested the carcass in the middle of the room and walked over to her, gently petting her head. It was a shame he'd have to go away, and he'd miss her all the while she was gone. Untying her hands, frowned at himself. Why did he do this? Couldn't he trust her by now? He fed her, cared for her, protected her. Surely she wouldn't try and do anything now, right? Untying the gag on her mouth, he left the room quickly, leaving behind the caribou and the remains of the man whom had foolishly entered the Colston residency.

 

"I'll be back soon, Darling," he murmured quietly, he voice raspy and ill-used. With this quiet promise, there was no more hesitation. Everything was quickly packed. His sleeping bag was rolled up and tied to be compact. His spears and daggers were attached to Bolen's saddle, and the saddle was then lifted onto his horse. Taking what minimal meat he allowed himself to have, the rest of his provisions were packed and the house was stripped of all valuables. Excepting, of course, his daughter. Bolen was readied and the garage door was opened to the outside world. The draft horse did not react to the loud clacking noise of the door forcefully being thrust open, and it patiently stood as its rather short owner managed to climb up onto its back. Jed lightly tapped Bolen's stomach, and they were off, off to people who could help Jed's wound.

 

Truth be told, Jed was not known for being a man who frequently traveled cities or townships or anything of the like. He had no clue where he was going or how to get there, but he knew that somehow he would manage. He ran Bolen as hard as he dared, but he knew that they couldn't go on forever, and he knew that when night fell, they would have to find shelter. The gnawing hunger in Jed's stomach was not a new feeling, and so he ignored it, only stopping when he could tell that Bolen could go no farther. He didn't want to risk his horse sweating too much, for sweating in the cold could be dangerous. Taking off the saddle, he took the water which he was able to bring and poured into a bucket he had. Bolen guzzled the water quickly, but Jed couldn't afford to give his horse anymore than that without endangering them both. Who knew where they were going or how long it would take to get there? They were just running aimlessly, running aimlessly to anywhere that might be able to help. With tinder he was able to scrounge up, Jed started a fire and unrolled his sleeping bag next to Bolen, who had laid down, which was rather unusual for him. The horse's body heat was easily one of the most valuable things about him.

 

'You heading to Winterbury? If you've got food, I can help you,' someone sharply asked, forcing Jed to awake again. The crunching of footsteps nearby startled him and he looked around towards his horse, who was standing up now. The fire had gone out, and Jed wondered how he hadn't woken up sooner. With bleary eyes, he slowly turned toward the noise and barely registered the human figure that was walking towards him. The person nodded and pointed somewhere off in the distance. Struggling out of his sleeping bag, he starting packing up his camp and saddled Bolen without saying a word to the other person, who clearly was getting a bit more than irritated. Apparently they had decided that Jed was of no serious danger. 'Excuse me? Are you headed to Winterbury?' they repeated, and Jed turned around to look at them once more, though his expression was surprised as if this was the first time he had noticed them.

 

"Winterbury? Is that a town? I'm heading there. If- if you can show me the way, I can get you food," he said slowly, nodding. It was clear he was barely awake, and taking a spear with him, he plodded away towards the wilderness, and roughly thirty minutes later, he returned with a hare. He was reasonably surprised to see the other person still there, but he supposed that food must really be important to them. They reached towards the hare, but Jed shook his head and pulled out his food provisions he had packed, which was a small amount of cooked caribou meat. Leaving the other person to that, he attempted to blow on the remains of last night's fire, and succeeded in striking up a new blaze, with which he started to cook the hare. He attached the pelt to Bolen's saddle, and when the hare was done, he ate the whole thing, intestines and all, leaving behind only the bones. Every bit of the hare was essential to his survival, and he wasn't about to leave any of it behind.

 

'Alright, a deal's a deal, buddy. So long as I get a ride up on that big horse you got there, you've got yourself an escort to Winterbury. Once we get there, though, I'm not about to show you around,' the person said, and as his mind slowly awakened, Jed became aware that it was an older woman. Hopefully she knew the area well enough, for he didn't want to spend any more time on this than he had to. Getting up on Bolen, he reached down a hand to her, to which she just laughed and clambered up on her own. With a gentle tap, they were off at a slow trot, the woman giving Jed directions and telling him how to get there. He began to wonder how many times she had gone this way, for she seemed to know the area and the landmarks reasonably well. As they wandered on, they encountered a few more people, several of which who asked for a ride and all of which were denied one. And suddenly, after they climbed over a few hills and took a few turns, Jed got his first glimpse of Winterbury.

 

They fed into a direct road and somehow managed to get close to the town, which appeared to be built by a cliff face. The fortified, well-protected walls loomed high above them, and Jed hardly remembered getting in the town. They just ended up inside, and he barely noticed that his guide was gone. There were so many people, so many talking people. Getting down from Bolen, Jed held on to his horse's bridle and led him through what seemed like a huge crowd, though it was nowhere near one. He needed somewhere to go, somewhere to stay, and his eyes locked on the first place that seemed to have people by it. Where was he supposed to leave Bolen? Where did he put his horse? A few people had given him some funny looks, but he payed no mind to them, for that could be because of a variety of reasons, including the fact that he was a short man riding a rather tall horse. There was a sign for an inn that he gravitated towards, and he just left Bolen by it, knowing that his horse would fight back against anyone trying to move him from where he was, and that Bolen would stay right where Jed left him. Taking everything of any value off of his horse's back, he went down into the inn and grimaced at how crowded it was, but turned into an area where people seemed to be going up to the counters and receiving things in return. Walking up to the counter, Jed placed a chunk of meat on the surface and pulled up the sleeve of his parka, revealing the wound he had.

 

"I'd like this fixed. And could you tell me where I am?"

 

'Erm, sir, we do not treat wounds here, and I'm pleased to tell you that you're at The Throne. Is there anything else that I can help you with?'

 

Disappointed, Jed continued to stand at the counter, though he took the chunck of meat off of it. Unsure what to do or where to go, he glanced around the room, looking at the people. What were they doing that he wasn't? They seemed to have better things than he did. Better items, better clothing, better food. Staring at his piece of meat, he wore a dark grimace and glared at the person whom had seen him at the counter. What did he do now? Where did he go from here? What was he to do with Bolen and who on earth would help him with all of this? He now understood why his father had lived so far away from all this; this all was terrifically confusing, and Jed wasn't sure why anyone would possibly want to live like this.

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Jovah nodded wordlessly at Tess's refusal of the drink. He brought it back over and took a long sip after he had finished speaking, eyes remaining fixed on the young girl adjacent from him. He then gingerly set the metal mug down on the table in front of him, slowly raised his right fist up and coughed a couple times in to it, then just as soon replaced it in his lap, once more wrapping his callous fingers around the barrel of the weapon.

 

As she concluded her explanation, Jovah once more returned to his odd mannerism of speech - his lips parted a little and remained that way for a few moments before any vocalization came. When it did, his voice sounded as calm, thought-out and collected as it had before.

 

"I stray from judgment when possible, but never from advice." Jovah leaned forward slightly, adjusting himself in his chair. "Thievery will lead you to undesirable reaches," he continued. "Banditry, for instance. Such people were often petty criminals before turning to rape and pillage. Far more dangerous than any other profession, and far less respectable." A thought seemed to enter his mind and he leaned back again.

 

"I could turn you in now if I wanted to," Jovah warned, "but I'm not of any inclination to. Fortunate for both of us, I suppose." He paused once more.

 

The scavenger chewed the inside of his cheek thoughtfully, eyes wandering up to the rafters above them. "As for what I'm doing in Winterbury," he trailed off as the door opened again, a soft whistling coming as the whipping winds momentarily invaded The Throne. A remarkably odd man entered. His gait was foreign and he was bundled in thick furs. While in and of itself this wasn't uncommon, the man looked out of his element and out of place, as if everything around were new to him. Jovah's eyes flickered up to him and tracked him as he uncomfortably made his way forward to the counter and seemed to attempt trade with the bartender.

 

The man rolled up his sleeve - he seemed to be injured. A spark of concern flickered in Jovah's eyes and he frowned slightly, sitting up a little straighter. He did not elaborate further on what he was doing in Winterbury, preoccupied with thought, consideration and, above all, curiosity of the new arrival. He needn't really answer the question, though. It was likely he was just in the town on business.

 

(( Just a note, Packgoater - the wasteland isn't a populated place. It's unlikely you would run in to anyone on the way to Winterbury. One person is fine, but it's doubtful you'd run in to anyone else. ))

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It was cold. It was always cold and she hated it. For someone living in the cold every day of their life, one would think that they would be used to it by now and, for the most part, be unaffected by it. Not really. Jasmine hunched her shoulders, rubbing her gloved hands together and double checking that her scarf covered her mouth and nose. The temperature had dropped, signs of a coming blizzard growing more and more prominent. She hated blizzards more than just the regular snowfall.

 

Her toes were starting to freeze, growing numb in her boots. Hiking boots were lovely for walking long distances but they hardly were made for deep snow. Still, they worked well enough to serve her traveling and were the only shoes she could afford to have. Being a traveling bard didn't always pay much but she wouldn't complain so long as she could get some small bit to eat and a decent place to stay the night in before moving on. Typically, Jasmine stayed one or two nights in each city she came upon, long enough to rest and share her music with. Sometimes she told stories to those who would listen and she would share legends or myths. If a story came to her from someone else, she would share it at least once. A few times, she created her own tales if she had no other stories to tell.

 

Jasmine loved stories. They always held messages or snippets of the past before the war and the volcanic ash. She loved the worlds they created, worlds where snow didn't cover the face of the earth year round. Music did the same in a way. Music provided emotions and colored images. At least, it did to her. She didn't know if stories and music invoked the same mental images or emotions for others as it did for her. Hardly anyone spoke to her save a rare few and the bartenders at inns who requested to know what she sought for as payment. She was an entertainer after all and not really expected to do much else. She may as well have been a jester or a magician who just pulled rabbits out of hats. A majority of people didn't really care so long as there was something to distract their minds from their gloomy lives.

 

She frowned slowly, deeply, and shook her head. She needed to stop thinking negatively. Her mother was always telling her to be a bit more positive. Who cared what people thought of her trade or how they saw her? Especially the disagreeable ones. If someone didn't like her music or her stories, tough. Though... if too many in one location disliked what she had to share, that might cause trouble...

 

Stop it! Don't focus on them. Focus on the ones who do enjoy the stories. Standing straighter, Jasmine went back inside the inn, The Throne. She had arrived at Winterbury closer around the afternoon or, at least, what may have been afternoon. It was hard to tell time other than the difference between day and night. Of course, that was only because the gray light grew darker when night fell. If it wasn't a blizzard coming, that is. She had arrived and rented a room in exchange for her entertainment services. Jasmine would share her stories and her music for as long as there were still people in the lobby area of the inn. In case that took most of the night, she was compensated for most of the next day to be spent resting. This deal would last the two nights she planned to stay in Winterbury so her room could not be rented out again until close to the third night.

 

Inside the inn, there was a decent crowd occupying most, if not all, of the tables and the counter-space. The young woman took note of the new faces as she brushed back her hood, letting her dark hair out of the old tie that kept it out of her face, and pulling down her scarf from her face. Jasmine removed her jacket and rested it on the back of the seat she was provided earlier, pulling off her gloves and stuffing them into her coat pockets. As the door opened a few moments later, she fought off a shiver when the cold air rushed inside. The sudden cold faded away shortly after and she unpacked her flute, carefully putting the joints together and testing the keys.

 

"You'll want to visit the clinic if you want your wound taken care of." Jasmine was close enough to the counter to just catch the stranger's request. She briefly glanced at him, tilting her head slightly. He looked uncomfortable being here and, considering he had come to the tavern looking for medical aid, was no doubt lost. "The clinic's just down the main road. You can't miss it. There are guards standing by the entrance with a large, iron bound, door. There's a sign post above the door too with the image of a bowl and grinder."

 

Whether or not the man paid any attention to what she told him, she lightly touched the old flute to her lips and played a few soft notes. She would warm the metal and stretch her fingers before starting to actually play. Scales were the usual exercises she used with some variation here and there. The flute, due to age and imperfect condition, didn't sound as clear as it should but the quality wasn't too bad. Once she had played through a couple of the scales she knew, she paused a moment before starting to play the music she wished to share.

Edited by Narvix

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Rune stirred his tea idly as he listened to the conversation between the man and the young woman. It was very interesting compared to other conversations in the bar. The woman seemed skiddish, as though she was guilty of something. The man's name... Rune couldn't quite hear it when he said it. He was still a wonder of a man to Rune; it wasn't everyday a man would be polite to one such as the woman. Yet perhaps he hid his intentions and--

 

No. I will not go there. Nothing like that happens here.

 

He gritted his teeth and clenched his fist, forcing away images of a ten-year-old girl's life fading from her hopeless eyes... her last words...

 

He sipped the tea, despite its warmth (Rune disliked warm tea) and turned his attention back to the conversation in the corner just in time to hear the young woman (did she say her name? he couldn't remember) announce that she was a pick-pocket. He swallowed quickly, almost spitting his tea. It took all his effort not to turn his head and stare at her. Did she just announce that? forty-nine out of fifty smart men would have killed or turned in her right then. Well, maybe not killed since they were in town, but she did look ready to run which was a sign of guilt...

 

Rune was glad when the man did not try to kill her, but he shook his head anyway. A pick-pocket. Pitiful.

 

Just another face.

 

Just then the door opened, and Rune looked up in surprise to see a very pale, very thin man enter the inn. He looked determined--no, desperate--and intense, and Rune immediately was inclined to avoid the man. He watched out of the corner of his eye as the man walked right up to the counter and dropped a chunk of meat on it. To Rune's great surprise, the very next thing the man did was reveal a terribly infected wound on his arm. Rune immediately assessed it; it was recent, but hadn't received any treatment. It was inflamed, and if the infection continued to spread the entire arm might eventually become useless. Surely it would take months to heal on its own, if it did heal.

 

When the man started speaking, Rune could only stare. Three interesting people in one day; it was almost too much 'interesting' to take after being stuck with Matthias for so long. But not only was the man asking the inn-keeper to be a doctor, but he also had no idea where he was. Rune watched with some sympathy as the strange man glanced around the room. Feeling awkward for the man's sake, Rune didn't meet his eyes.

 

Just then another woman entered the inn. Rune caught himself staring at her when she removed her hood and scarf; she was... fairly exotic compared to the majority of pale-faced people. Her skin was rather dark and her eyes were deep. Her hair was as black as Rune's own, and her eyes looked kind. He noticed she was a bard and he smiled slightly.

 

"You'll want to visit the clinic if you want your wound taken care of." Her words made him frown and turn his attention back to the man.

 

There's no way a man like him has enough money to pay the cleric, and there's no way the cleric would accept that chunk of meat. Rune frowned. I don't need the meat anyway, although smelly what's-its-face will eat anything. Plus, this guy seems a bit... off. Crazy? Maybe. I don't want to deal with that.

 

He took another sip of tea. I'd help him, you know, even if I don't know how to heal.

 

Rune gritted his teeth. "You're dead. Go away," he mumbled. She did.

 

But this caused Rune to sigh, and he looked at the man once again. What have I to lose, anyway? He stood slowly and half-dragged his tired body towards the man. It wasn't fair, leaving the man in such pain. Rune nodded politely to the bard as she warmed up her instrument. Then he turned his attention to the man. "Excuse me," he said quietly. His eyes were narrowed and his stare intent; this was a natural look for Rune, often mistaken for a look of treachery. In the past it had made trading difficult, but when trading Rune had unconsciously learned to change it. However, he wasn't trading now; he was doing a favor.

 

"I am a healer, a cleric if you will, and I can help with your wound for a price you can afford. Please, join me at my table and I'll do my best to assist you." His words were well-formed and clearly he was quite educated. He waved a hand in the direction of the table. He had kept a distance of about five feet from the man, unsure of what to expect. However, his mind was already thinking of what he would need to treat the wound even as he still had questions to ask the man.

 

As he offered a chair to the man, an unusual but pleasant sound met his ears; the sound of wind through metal, the playing of a flute. How long had it been since he had heard an instrument? He brought his mind back to the present quickly, not wanting to lose concentration right before doctoring someone.

Edited by LadyNatasha

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Matthias' eyes snapped open and sat up abruptly, throwing his knife out in front of him. He would have let it go if he hadn't held it for a split second more than was required for reflex, allowing his eyes to see that there was no intruder before him. So what had awakened him?

 

Rip growled from his position next to his master, he wasn't bothered by the music he sort of liked it, and Matthias was interrupting his intent listening. Matthias grumbled back at him and stood, only now catching the sound that had drawn him out of his light slumber. He had always been a light sleeper, it had kept him alive. On the other hand it meant he rarely could fall asleep in a place such as Winterbury, not at least, without placing wax in his ears, a dangerous proposition.

 

He heard it more clearly now, the sound of music, an instrument, something of the wind of the lips, like a whistle, but far more beautiful. For the life of him he couldn't remember the name of the instrument even though he knew he'd heard it before, many times if not often. It wasn't something he would ever tell his brother, but Matthias truly loved music, both that of an instrument and the raw music of nature. Many nights alone he would sit up and watch Rip howl at the moon, often wondering if wolves had a secret language of their own, a secret song they all knew to sing from birth. Staring up at the brightish spot that must be the moon... Matthias could fee the same intense pull of something, moving him to music, but he knew only one song, and while he had a good voice... singing meant giving away your position and so he didn't often sing, while it might be relaxing, it wasn't overly useful.

 

Rip whined, pawing at the door.

 

"Yeah right..." Matthias stood and stretched, "like you would behave, one missing scrap of meat and you'll get me kicked out of here, and I'd prefer not to sleep in the middle of a blizzard."

 

Rip continued to paw and whine, he usually wasn't this persistent, this was borderline not accepting Matthias' established leadership. But when Matthias stared at the wolf, he decided it wasn't rebellion or dominance that was the issue, the beast simply enjoyed the music and wanted to be closer, he certainly hadn't reacted this way to anything else in the inn earlier so that must be it. Matthias sighed, "alright, but we compromise, you wear the leash."

 

Matthias stretched and pulled a long leather chord out of his pack and held it out toward Rip. If there was one thing the wolf hated more than anything else, it was being on the leash. But after staring at one another for a moment, Rip lowered his head and Matthias attached the leash. The leather chord served two purposes. It wasn't strong enough to hold Rip if he truly wanted to get loose, but it represented Matthias' authority to both of them, meaning, Rip wouldn't try and get away unless Matthias needed him to. That made Rip extremely useful. If he was tied up he'd stay, but if Matthias needed him badly and called for him, he'd break free to get to him, very useful.

 

Matthias glanced down at himself, he hadn't changed out of his furs, not that he had anything to change into, but they could use a cleaning, and his feet could use a rest from the special boots he wore. Matthias took a moment to unfasten his boots and pull them off, allowing the cold air to kiss his feet. He also took off his wolf-pelt headpiece and his outer two layers of furs, leaving him wearing only a white, wolf-pelt vest that draped over his shoulders and was held together by leather strings on either side (like a life jacket), his fur bracers, also white wolf's fur, covering his upper and lower arms with a break that left his shoulders, elbows, and hands exposed. He also took off his leather pants in favor of short pants made of similar white fur that went only from his waist to his knees. With every piece of clothing he took off, he wiped the inside down with a bar of homemade soap, sterilizing it, and spread it out on the bed, allowing it to air out so the bacteria would die.

 

Matthias took out a second set of linings he had for his boots. Alone they acted as thick, furry moccasins, when in the boots they provided padding and warmth. Matthias took a moment to look at himself, noting new scars he hadn't had before, not surprising, he couldn't possibly remember every scrap, cut, or case of frostbite he acquired on a daily basis. He frowned, the scars always drew attention, so did the furs, so did the wolf. He sighed, but there was nothing to be done about it, he'd just growl at anyone who asked too many questions.

 

Feeling rather naked, Matthias grabbed two knives and stuck them underneath either fur bracer. Finally prepared to venture into the world of social contact that his kid brother seemed to find so appealing.... Matthias opened the door, holding tightly to Rip's leash, and shut it again, walking down the stairs and into the lobby. As he predicted, more than a few heads turned, first it was the wolf, or dog if the people weren't very experienced with wolves and couldn't tell, then it was the man holding the wolf, then the scars. Matthias watched as each person noticed him in their own way. Ignoring them as best be could and ignoring the bartender who asked him if he wanted a drink, Matthias moved through the room towards the corner furthest from the door. A man was sitting there, but, seeing Matthias' intent expression and the way he walked, as though ready to leap on anyone that might make a move against him, the man just shrugged and moved to a different table.

 

Matthias made eye contact with everyone who looked at him, just for a moment, most looked away, a few did not, those he would watch, the others were nothing more than prey, if it came down to it. He sat at the table and flicked his wrist, catching one of the knives as it shot out of the bracer. He wrapped Rip's leash around the handle, tied if off, and slammed the blade deep into the thick wooden beam that supported that corner of the building.

 

That business taken care of, Matthias sat atop the table, ignoring his brother's presence, and stared at the woman making the music. She had long, dark brown hair and her eyes were a deep, maple color, reminding Matthias of fresh and healthy wood, or the dirt that you rarely saw during the spring. She had a far tanner shade of skin, by decent not contact with the sunlight, and glasses. Matthias stared directly at her as she made her music, examining every detail that his eyes could see. He paid close attention to how she moved, how she carried herself, whose eyes she met and whose eyes she avoided, and how regular her breathing was. All of these things told a story that was this woman. She was young too, but not a hunter. Her eyes were kind and wide open. There was something about her that gave Matthias a feeling of freedom, it was something he only felt when in the middle of the forest, no one around, staring up at the sky while Rip howled at what was possibly the moon behind all the ash and snow.

 

I wonder if she'd marry me... Matthias thought to himself, watching her intently, never breaking his gaze. As far as he was concerned, she was the only thing in the lobby that merited a second glance.

 

Rip was content to lie down on the bench, his dull yellow eyes joined the piercing blue ones of his scarred master as he too watched the woman who made the pretty sounds.

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