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Jovanus let out a slow chuckle, shaking his head and crossing his arms. Looking at Mina, he smiled, his look surprisingly without malice. Opening his mouth, his words were nothing like his body language. "Look, this is business. Goodneighbor may be some kind of haven, but understand that if you're in this business, there is no haven. Understand that you should be at the end of the line here." Nodding at Hancock, Jovanus continued, "I am, of course, a man of respect. A man of compromise."

 

Checking his watch, Jovanus looked at Idra, gesturing with his head for her to stand down. Looking back at Mina, Jovanus brought his left arm up, the watch glinting in the light. "I'll give you some options, all with time limits. Because frankly, your hired hand does not scare me. The trust between you two is fairly low, you'll get nowhere. So the options. One: you can give me the coordinates of the Artifact now, and I'll let you go, maybe even pay to make up for the money you wasted on that hired hand there. Two: I give you an hour to gather your thoughts, and we attempt civilized chatter. Maybe you can try to convince me of something. But do not attempt to run with this option, because you must know my reputation. Nothing gets away from me. Three: you refuse both of these, and Idra here kills you on the spot."

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"Of course I'm sure!" came the response, Duren's smile widening into a grin filled with warmth, "I wouldn't offer if I didn't - ". A glance to the side and the smile faltered, dropping altogether as the man in the suit passed them by, throwing a smile at Duren before leaving. Once again, a cold shiver ran through his body; the smile had seemed sincere, but instead of a friendly greeting, to him it had felt far too much like a predator, toying with it's prey. His hand went to the collar at his throat and he shook his head as he looked back at the woman, smile returned but now with a hint of fear behind it, as he made a mental note to warn his brothers to avoid this predator of a man.

 

"I mean, you look like you could do with someone to talk to, so I thought a little kindness can't hurt, right?" With that, he took at seat at the counter and turned towards her, hand outstretched, "I'm Duren, by the way. Duren Charon. Nice to meet you, miss,"

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

"Looks like a stand-off, chief,"

 

Back at the flat, the remaining brothers were engaged in pursuits of their own. On the bed, Zaren was sat, cross-legged with several books around him, pen calmly gliding across the pages of a notebook he held, stopping only when he glanced at the pages of one of the books before returning to movement. He glanced up when Malice spoke.

 

"And?"

 

From his perch at the window, Malice twisted around to grin at him, body contorting in such a way as to make even the stoic Zaren cringe internally, it looked so painful to turn one's entire upper torso without twisting the waist, and those creepy goggles didn't make the image any more easy to look at...

 

"Waiting for the keg to blow, is all," Malice chuckled wickedly, before turning back to almost hang out of the window, causing Zaren to sigh in exasperation. The demon had been sitting on the windowsill, watching the sky and waiting for the coming storm to darken it enough for him to go out, when he had noticed a fracas occurring just a little way down the street. Curiosity ignited, he had been watching since the beginning, narrating the events for Zaren - with his own brand of sick humour added, of course, - after his cry of "Catfight!" had caused the elder brother to come running from the kitchen. Zaren's interest had quickly waned once it was confirmed that Duren wasn't involved, and now only half-listened to what the demon had been saying, but he had still moved his activities to the room from his previous station at the kitchen table, if only to make sure Malice didn't fall out of the window.

 

Granted, seeing the idiot practically sitting on the window, feet dangling in the air, must've been a weird sight for anyone in the street who happened to glance their way. But Zaren had learned the hard way that man-handling the demon was an activity best left to Duren, if he wanted to avoid potential maiming.

 

"And now there's a freak in a suit. Wonder if I can hit 'im from here..."

 

"Try it and I will push you out of that window,"

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Hancock frowned at the bad news. Alas, it would seem as though he help wasn't wanted anyways as she opted to pay Skinner a large wad of cash instead. "Let me know if you need anything." He said to him, handing him a piece of paper from his satchel with his number scribbled on it. Hancock then refocused his attention on the group. An offhand question about wrestling bears had him cock a brow, but anything to break up this large, suspicious group was needed. "Sure, sounds great bud. Just don't hurt any of them, alright?" The man then looked from Idra and Jovanus back to the injured woman. "Skinner, I don't think she has much spare time." He commented worriedly. Address the more pressing matter first. Give Skinner a chance to fix her up. Keep the peace. He ran over what he had to do in his head again. "That's a little harsh, don't you think?" Hancock said to the man. "If it's artifacts your looking for, I have lots you can have. Why don't you two come with me and chat while my friend here patches up your... 'friend'."

 

There was the friendly town she knew. A man had just offered to buy a woman something to eat. She smiled. Kindness was a dwindling thing in this world. "Here we are!" Donna reappeared with a plate of Monkey Bread (Gabe's absolute favorite). "Thank you!" Gabriel said excitedly as the plate was set down before her, just as the pair sat down a few seats from her at the counter. In a mere few minutes, the plate was empty. She was famished from her flight. "Wow, you even licked the plate clean!" Gabriel laughed and shrugged. "What can I say?" There was then a nag at the pit of her stomach and the smile faded from her face. "I really should get going." Donna nodded. "You all and your coming and goings."

"I promise I'll visit you again before I leave." She pulled a handful of money (some of the bills stained with blood) and set them on the counter before leaving.

Gabriel headed down the street, letting her senses guide her. That's when she got the all too familiar feeling. There was a demon somewhere nearby. Her attention refocused, her sword shimmered into existence at the ready in her hand. Slowly, she scanned the surroundings. Rain was beginning to fall. Looking down, she saw spots of what she assumed was blood begin to run. Raising her sword she lifted it and again scanned the area. Was Raven and Hancock in trouble, squaring off with a demon? There wasn't a lot to pick up, so it couldn't have involved the demon. However, that didn't mean it wouldn't soon. They were often attracted to trouble like flies to censorkip.gif .

Edited by RavenWolf1010

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Skinner plucked the wad of bills from the woman's bloody hands and made it disappear, "Excellent", he quipped. He was in a much better mood now that the tension in the air was slowly begining to dissipate. He cocked his brow and listened intently to this guy's stippluations. Artifact? oud this womn be tangled up with the same stuff as I am? Now knowing that she was keeping something from them that they were willing the kill for, maybe he was on the wrong side of this fight. He could have made more if he would have offered to hunt her down himself.

 

It was too late for regrets now, he had a job to do. Hancock was busy playing diplomat, Skinner formulated a plan. Skinner smiled, "Alright. That pub." he said pointing at the delapitated building that was his original goal, "We meet with your friend bright eyed and bushy tailed". Wit that Skinner began to inhale, inhale longer off his cigarette than physically possiable. The tip burned brightly and Skinner winked at their foes.

 

Skinner exhaled and thick, inky smoke poured from his mouth. It spread quickly, eveloping the area in a dark smokescreen. Skinner hauled the woman behind him and snagged Hancock by the back of the shirt. Together, making sure Hancock was between himself and the attackers. It took seconds for the trio to reach the stoop of the house on the edge of the street. He jammed his oak housekey into the door and shouldered it open, dragging them all inside with him.

 

For the second time today, he stepped from his storage room and into his laboratory. Skinner immediately broke down into a hacking coughing fit. He thumped himself on the chest trying to get sweet oxygen into his lungs. "Downside....to...that particular...experiment", he explained, catching his breath and sticking another cigarette in his mouth. He offered the pack to Hancock and the mystery woman. There was a strange silence in his laboritory compaired to the comotion out on the street. Skinner walked acroos the room and started opeing drawers and cabinets, pulling out supplies he needed to be a doctor. Skinner removed his coat and hat and pulled on a pair of latex gloves, "Alright, Jump up on my cold metal table and let me take a look at you". he said, rolling a rlling stool over to the table and flippig on the gas powered overhead light.

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In the blur of movement, Namina was surprisingly tame. She followed wordlessly, naught but a trail of blood left behind. The smoke made her dizzier than before, and she struggled to think.

 

As soon as it cleared however, she gasped. Just like that, the shock had worn off and she felt the ragged wound for what it was: a grevious injury. All six of her eyes squeezed shut as the world spun with a painful throb.

 

Her middle (and dominant) set of eyes opened eventually, and she gingerly lifted herself up onto the nearest table. Having a stable place to sit made things feel a little better. As for the extended cigarette, she snatched that up as soon as it was offered. Sticking it between her teeth, she opted instead to peel off her bloodied shirt.

 

"I tried to quit..." she admitted. Her hands morphed, becoming scaled and clawed long enough to produce a flame. Bringing it to her cigarette, she lit the roll of paper. Scales melted back into her skin, disappearing as if they'd never been there to start with. "You can see how that turned out. Folks like me...don't live that long anyhow." she took a long drag from her cigarette, visibly relaxing in the process.

 

Of course, that had its own problems. She'd been so tense before, it had restricted some of her bleeding. That certainly wasn't the case now. It wasn't even fear in her gaze as she stared down at her stab wound. It was exhaustion.

 

"If I die here, do me a favor, huh?" she chuckled weakly, as if the thought of surviving was a joke. What jovality was in her expression hardened, and hatred shone in her eyes. "Stick a knife between that half-breed's ribs, 'cause I won't be there t' do it myself."

Edited by shadow_claw

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Cyan watched silently as one of the men dragged the wounded woman away, another man in tow. He sighed in relief. "Let's go check out those art supplies," he suggested to Honey. "Man, I don't think I've ever seen those guys before. Do you know who they are, Honey?"

 

Honey's bamboo staff disappeared somewhere in her track jacket. She furrowed her brow a little, knowing that she recognized all of the people, but not able to place a name to their faces. "Well, some of them are nonhuman like us. That's for sure. I just don't know what exactly they are. Anyhow, let's go find you some nice watercolors."

 

The two edged down the road, past the gathered crowd. They ducked into a doorway, and Cyan was relieved to smell the familiar scent of paints.

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Eleusis was sleeping peacefully in her cage, completely unaware of the current proceedings. Slowly, she blinked her eyes open and spread her wings, shaking her feathers out to straighten them. The cage door was locked, but that was no problem for her. With a few nimble pecks of her beak and perhaps a bit of magic, the door swung open. Instantly, she launched herself from her perch and headed towards the faint sound of conversation. The kitchen and hallways were passed in a mere blink of the eye as she quickly located the source of the sound. Malice and Zaren were at the window, with Malice half falling out of it.

 

What could he be watching that was so interesting? Curiosity piqued, she fluttered over and perched on Zaren's head. Perfect! From her current position, she could get a good view out of the window. She caught a glimpse of a group gathering around an injured girl before a sudden smoke cloud obscured the rest of the events. Must be some kind of magical scuffle. She'd seen plenty of those in her time, but there were always new powers to witness. Like that smoke thing. She hadn't seen that particular kind of smoke before, though magical mist was plenty common. After a while of watching, it became clear that the smoke was going to linger for a few moments more. Booorriiinnng. If her view of exciting events was going to be blocked, then she at least wanted her breakfast.

 

Giving an exclamatory chirp, she gently tugged on Zaren's hair in the direction of the kitchen. Breakfast!

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First Hancock was choking and blind, and then he felt himself being dragged away. It was a flurry of activity and the next thing he knew, he was in Skinner's house. Well it wasn't quite homey. It was filled with an assortment of things, and was more lab-like than anything. But it was a nice setup nonetheless. "No thanks." He politely declined between coughs trying to clear what felt like a glob of something from his throat.

Hancock watched silently as Skinner worked, noting what he did for future reference. The woman's bleeding was severe. Shouldn't it have coagulated some by now? He thought back to the man and woman. Maybe they used some anticoagulant so it wouldn't. That was a surefire way to slow down someone you were hunting. Or make it a slow painful death. He shuddered, deciding then he didn't care for their methods of capture. They were cruel. And for what, some silly artifact? He shook his head.

 

 

Raven scurried back as Skinner threw up a smoke screen, her eyes and sensitive nose burning. Hacking once for good measure, she then shook herself out and turned to peer at those left.

 

 

 

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"Ow,"

 

The gentle but insistent tug on his hair didn't actually hurt, but it was his habit of feigning pain whenever the little bird that he had somehow acquired during their travels escaped from its cage and persisted in perching upon his head. He glanced upwards at it while, to his side, Malice turned long enough to glare at the avian creature before turning back to his entertainment.

 

"Good morning, my little diva. I see we're hungry, hmm? Very well, you wait here and I'll make us all some breakfast,"

 

Gently pulling the little feathered creature from his hair and placing on the window frame, Zaren turned and left the room. A few moments later, the clinking of plates and bowls could be heard. In that split second, Malice pulled back his goggles and leaned down to Eleusis, lips pulled back in a feral hiss.

 

"I still think we should've roasted you by now, you sneaky little censorkip.gif , but no matter, I'll find out what you are soon enough,"

 

Then, with a snap as his goggles returned to their place, he leaned forward and was gone, landing in the street with barely a whisper before turning down the street, cloak billowing out behind him. A few seconds later, Zaren returned, a tray laid with various food stuffs balanced on his arm. He started to speak, but then he noticed the severe lack of demon in the room, and groaned.

 

"Here we go again..."

 

Outside, Malice strode down the street, water from the rain flicking up across his bare feet as he walked. The fight had started to bore him even before the smoke had appeared, and so, with the sky dark enough for him to move freely, he had decided, before trying to find his wayward master, to have a good look around the town, something he had yet to do unaccompanied by his usual lunar companion. It wasn't a bad looking place, certainly an improvement on those damned catacombs, he had to give it that much credit. But still, he longed for -

 

A wave of coldness shot through him, bringing the demon to a gasping halt, eyes scanning this way and that. There was something nearby, and whatever it was, it was looking for him. Quickly, he pulled the cloak tight around him and ducked into the shadows of the closest building, watching as a woman - far too close for comfort, - materialized a sword in her grasp, and he shrunk back further with a snarl, feeling the comforting warmth as the shadows parted and engulfed him.

 

He didn't know who or even what she was, but something told him that, for now at least, she was best avoided.

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Skinner pulled down the gooseneck light and focused it on the woman's wound. He soaked a white cloth in moonshine and took a swig from the jar, "Smells like you got cut up by a cursed blade and now your dumping blood uncontrollably" he told her, offering her the jar of white lightning, "But I can fix it". He pushed off and rolled backwards across the room to a lawyer's cabinet full of glass jars and old books. After rummaging around for a few seconds, he rolled back with. jar containing what looked like organs floating in the yellowish fluid. He unscrewed the lid and pulled out a fleshy pink tounge and without saying anything else, pressed it into her wound. He smied, "lambs tounge. Soaks up bad mojo." he tossed the tounge into the corner and wiped the area down with the rubbing alcohol.

 

"So...big questio. Who are you and why are you being chased by lord business", he asked, removing his cigarette holder and direting a few sparks of pink XM dancing across her skin, effictivaly numbing the area. He Startedto work closing the wound up, "So Hancock. What do you suggest we do about the troublemakers in your town" he asked. In the corner where he threw his lamb tounge, a black cat now sat crouched, eating the bloody meat. Skinner glanced back at the sound and nodded towards the feline, "thats Thomas Shanks. Shanks for short. He is a convicted terrorists against fae relations. So my dad sentenced him to life as a cat and lives with me".

 

Skinner finished up rather quickly and wrapped her midsection in gauze. He threw his latex gloves in the garbage and gathered up his coat and hat, "You guys want some coffee or something stronger? I know you have a lot to think about", he said, directing the last part at his patient. He pushed open a the cracked wooden door and started up the tight, stone spiral staircase to the upper floors of his house.He pushed open the mirror that hid the door to his lab and walked down the narrow hallway to the kitchen. One half of the hall was covered in a wall of various plants. When he reached the kitchen, he turned on a burner and started water for coffee.

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The feeling remained, but her sword dissolved into bits of light and she let herself relax some. There was something around for sure but at the moment it was unimportant. If it hadn't attacked yet, it meant usually one of two things: it was smart or it was weak and smart. Movement caught her eye. A cloud of smoke. Through the haze, Gabriel couldn't tell who they were, but she sensed it wasn't what she had felt. The street was currently empty and the rain pattered steadily against the asphalt. About to turn and keep going movement again caught her attention. Was it just some animal seeking shelter from the rain? Whatever it was, it'd vanished into the shadows. "Hmm. Is anyone there?" She wasn't expecting a response really, but her gut was still telling her something was off.

 

 

Hancock was impressed by Skinner's turnaround time and his overall process. "Lamb's tongue..." He muttered as he jotted down notes. "Never would've thought of that one. We really should collab sometime." As Skinner finished up he put his notebook away and wandered a bit. When the feline suddenly appeared, it took everything he had not to turn and leave right then. He was not particularly found of cats. However some proved for him to be able to get along great with. He didn't think this was one of those cats.

"That's an excellent question." Hancock answered as he turned away from the cat, somewhat queasy. "Well, this young lady here is obviously being hunted down by the duo. She's in Goodneighbor now, though. And as a part of the unofficial code, my code, she's under my protection. Although... she's of course able to opt to not take it." He added looking over to her. Hancock sighed and ran his hand over the back of his neck. "Coffee sounds great, thanks." Trailing behind Skinner, he continued. "I'm hoping maybe I can put an end to it and help them all come to a compromise. What is this 'Artifact' anyways? Do you have any idea?"

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Ah, moonshine. A fancy name for a jar of burning senselessness. Of course, Mina took her doctor's offer, taking a swig and grimacing. The warmth of it was near instant. A few short coughs, and she managed to choke the alcohol down.

 

Her green eyes narrowed somewhat on the causation of her injury. Right. People around here didn't know her. "Jovanus used to be a business parter. 'Business' as in dealing in exotic goods. I got them, he sold them and gave me a cut. Thing is, we got into an argument years back and split off."

 

That one left her with a stab wound as well. Though, she'd been able to heal that one herself. "The name's Mina. I'm a smuggler, and sometimes a thief. But this? This was uncalled for. He was just mad." She paused, reaching into her bra and fishing out an object. A stone, seemingly made of glass, rested in her palm. It would be just a regular rock, if not for the hole in the middle of it.

 

"It's an Adder's Stone. Fairly rare, but the big deal is trying to figure out what it does. Some prevent disease, others can see through glamours. Others? Can kill someone if you look througg the stone at them."

 

By "someone", of course, she meant other supernatural creatures. Fae were especially vulerable to Adder's Stones, but it was fairly nondiscriminate. Once Skinner finished up, Mina slowly reclined back onto the table. She was exhausted. "I got a tip from an old friend. They know I like these stones. Just so happens, that when I was recovering it, that Jovanus wanted it too. I got there first, so I pocketed the thing and went to leave."

 

"That girl attacked me on my way out. We fought, and by the time I nearly beat her, I was rewarded with a knife in the back."

 

Hatred shone in her eyes, bitter and cold. She'd omitted some details, sure, but the general idea of what had happened was there. She owed that to her savior; he deserved to know the truth.

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Skinner Took the squealing kettle off the burner and stuck another cigarette in his mouth, "I you want man, I've been living in 'your' town for years. At least since it had that other name". The tip of his cigarette ignited in a flash of blue fire, "You're one of those 'don't thin about it' XM guys, aren't you? Our notes might not line up". Skinner often worked alone, being on the science side of 'magic' means he tends to argue with other users over the smallest things. Fire doesn't just appear from thin air, it was a chemical process accelerated by exotic matter.

 

Skinner poured three cups of coffee and brought them to the table using levitation. He sat down behind his cup ashed in the iguana skull in th center of the table and spooned sugar into his dark, steaming coffee. He paused the [clink of his spoon hitting the inside of his mug. He listened intently to the woman, Mina as they just learned, told her story. "Smuggler huh? Surprised we haven't worked together in the past", he said with a chuckle. Skiner was also into some shady business involving Fae. His eyes widened when Mina fished out her small smooth stone, "Oh censorkip.gif" he whispered when she told him what it did, "I had a guy looking for one that did that. He was going to rig it to a sniper scope for silent assassinations". Skinner dug around in his shirt until he was able to brodue a thin silver chain with a few small objects hanging from it. a gold aztec coin, a rusty nail, a small leather pouch, and finally, a almost identical stone to her's, "Mine lets me see through glamors".

 

After she tlod her story, the trio sat in silence, sipping coffee. It was Shanks who broke the silence, stepping into the room and meowing. Skinner looked at the black cat annoyed, "**** off dude. You have food in your bowl". He looked at the two and sighed, "well you have a choice since you hired me. you gave me enough money to either keep me around while you negotiate for your kill rock or I can smuggle you out of town, and that means as far away as you need", he looked at the clock that was ticking way on the wall. His operatio took about half an hour, now they were having coffee. They had about 18 minutes left in Jovanus's generous offer.

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As the two talked, his thoughts turned back to momentarily back to the group. There was a lot of new faces. Which meant some discrepancies were bound to pop up. Hopefully the meeting at his house would clear things up. Speaking of which, he never specified where it was at exactly. Raven was still with the group though, she could show them where it was. Checking his "hipster pocket watch" as Raven called it (kindly given to him by Gabriel), he began to stand and excuse himself so that he would be there to meet everyone. That was when Mina pulled what he assumed was the 'Artifact' out, and then Skinner pulled out a similar one as well. "Interesting." He'd breifly read about something similar a few years ago. The Vikings called it a "sunstone", and as the legend went they used them to find the sun when it was too foggy to otherwise. They were also said to have other magical properties, but he had yet to see them. "I'm going to head home and get ready for our guests. My house is the one just outside of town. It's a dirt road turnoff that goes to my cabin. I'm sure I'll see you guys there."

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"A little kindness can't hurt."... this man had no idea how accurate that was.

 

"Ah, my name's Fotein. Fotein Psychi. Nice to meet you too." She was so pleased by this man - Duren - that she couldn't resist to let out a couple of laughs while talking. She was so happy that she unintentionally brightened her own soul. As she saw the reflection of the light in the stones in her necklace, she was a bit surprised, but also comforted. Her body was literally glowing in the middle of a café, but nobody seemed to care. This was really a great place for folks like her, then. "Oh, excuse me." She said, when she thought to see Duren noticed the faint glow around her body, or at least the quite a bit brighter glow of the stones in her necklace. "That happens sometimes", she held the pendant between thumb and forefinger, drawing attention to it. "Usually I can control it, but when I get very happy it tends to happen automatically."

 

"It's the simplest of my powers", she added, feeling the need to assure Duren that she didn't go to Goodneighbor just because she happened to glow sometimes. The fact she also released a bit more heat now probably couldn't even be noticed in the café.

 

---

 

So he was allowed to wrestle with the bears, as long as he didn't hurt them. Great, some way to kill time. As he walked into the forest, blue smoke started to spread behind him, but Corr wouldn't get to notice. When he found a single wild bear near a river, he took off his shirt and tied it around his waist.

 

"Alright, bear!" He shouted. "Show me what you've got."

 

This had the wanted effect: it drew the bear's attention and caused it to attack. Now he could finally satisfy his urge for a battle.

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Raven had trailed behind Corr and observed with amusement as he found his wanted bear. Laying down she crossed her paws and rested her head. It'd been a while since something interesting had happened around here, and she was often left to make her own excitement. Today however had proved to be quite exciting. Tracking the time in her head, she estimated about twenty minutes until they all were supposed to meet at Hancock's house. She wondered how exactly everyone was supposed to get there. Most of the people were new, and Hancock hadn't specified where his house was. Of course being in the midst of a fight might do that to you. Raven decided she'd direct any stragglers that were going to go in the right direction. Until then, she would stay and observe the large man creature.

The bear was obviously looking to fight as as soon it saw Corr, it turned and charged. From the looks of it, Raven determined it was a male. Mating season was just ending, so testosterone levels must've been fairly high still, thus explaining its will to fight.

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Mina looked wearily at the stone in her palm, running her thumb across it. Ah, magic. It was always more trouble than it was worth.

"See, that's the thing." she sighed, stuffibg the stone back into her bra. "I have no ****in' clue what it does. Being an Adder's stone and all, it's like the blind boxes of the magical world. The only way you can tell what it does is by lookibg through it. Sources say, however, that it's a killer."

 

Mina shifted her weight, testing her painkillers carefully. Seemingly satisfied, she gingerly slid back onto the floor. Although exhausted, she had business matters to discuss. Arriving to the kitchen table, she wearily rubbed her middle set of eyes.

 

The thing about being a shape-shifter was that many had multiple body parts humans usually didn't. Some had extra fingers, others had extra organs hidden within their body. For Mina, it was her eyes. Extra eyes weren't that rare, but four extra was an odd sight.

 

"Tell you what, you keep the cash. I might need a hand later, so take that as an advance." Namina decided. She had enough money for roughly one-thousand dollars to be a minimal loss. "And I, uh...I need a place to stay for a few days."

 

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Though a large demon snarling at her should have caused her to shrink back in fear, Eleusis simply tilted her head and chirped innocently. His threat didn't bother her. After all, if he killed her she'd simply come back after a while. She didn't really care about keeping her identity a secret, but if the knowledge that she could take human form made the brothers stop feeding her, she'd be less than pleased. Really, that was the only reason she bothered to stay in canary form. Who needed to work for their food when they could just get it off of others? She blinked at him once and he was gone, the whoosh of air he left behind being the only evidence of his presence. Peering over the edge of the window, she tracked the demon's whereabouts for a few moments before the sound of footsteps made her turn around. Zaren was back, arms laden with trays of food.

 

Giving a delighted trill, she abandoned her perch on the windowsill and flew towards the table. Though there had been attempts to feed her using standard bird food, the brothers had quickly learned that she simply ate what she wanted when she wanted. A single glance away from her during mealtimes had often led to stolen food, though she was sneaky enough they were never able to accuse her directly. As a result, she was soon allowed to roam free on the table. At least this way, she remained visible as she ate. A peck there, a peck here, and she was satisfied. Having to eat less was one advantage of her bird form at least. It was the only thing preventing her from devouring tablefuls of food at every meal and eating the trio out of house and home. After all, being able to rebirth oneself took a lot of energy, energy that had to be maintained constantly.

 

Barely a moment passed after her meal when she suddenly took to the air again. This time, she landed on the doorknob of the house. Evidently, she wanted Zaren to go outside. Shifting her weight from foot to foot in anxious excitement, she soon tired of standing still and flew out the window. Zaren was being waaayyy too slow. Maybe she'd head over to the cafe and see if Duren was there. That was where he usually stopped, right? Swooping downwards, she made sure to avoid the large cloud of smoke and darted into the cafe via an open window. Spotting Duren at once, she noticed he was talking to a glowing lady. Hm? A newcomer? Curious, she flew over and landed on the stranger's head, ignoring any sense of personal space. She was rather warm, and her hair made a comfortable perch.

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"Fotein, huh? Well, it's a pleasure to meet you, Miss Fotein!" Duren chirped, beaming smile once again full of warmth. It was always a joy for him to meet new people - especially new people that didn't want to immediately kill him for whatever reason - and this situation was no different. Well, actually, no, it was slightly different. The people he met didn't tend to glow after a few moments of conversation, something that caught Duren a little off-guard. But as he noticed the necklace around her neck, a touch of sadness entered his smile and - for perhaps the hundredth time - his hand want to the necklace at his own throat, gently tapping the gem at the centre.

 

"Don't worry about it, miss. We all have...unique skills, especially in this town. Some of us...well, let's just say, there's a reason I wear this. Gotta keep a wild dog chained, y'know?"

 

He sighed and looked away, eyes flickering for the briefest of moments, pupils contracting to a sharp diamond before softening back into a normal shape. When he looked back, he couldn't help but glance upwards at the notice of faint movement, and the sight sent him into a fit of giggles. He knew that the little canary that Zaren kept - or really, kept him was the better way of describing it - had a habit of pulling a Houdini act whenever it pleased. But it was still a fairly comical image.

 

"It seems that my brother's pet has taken a liking to you,"

 

~~~~~~~

 

Malice felt another growl rising in the back of his throat when the woman had moved towards his hiding place, but crushed it quickly when he saw the sword disappear once more. Perhaps she wasn't as much of a threat as he initially expected, but still he was wary. The fact that he had clearly felt her scanning him, a feeling that he knew and loathed ever since...well, for a very long time. He could feel the shadows writhing and tightening around him, their agitation palpable at the thought of their....he didn't really know what he was to them anymore, but it seemed that it didn't matter, they were intent on protecting him. Soft whispers, ancient words of a long-dead tongue, filled the air with their faint melody, and slowly but surely, he felt the shadows relax as his lullaby soothed them. Still, they remained wary, but were no longer likely to attack.

 

At least, not without his orders.

 

Turning back towards the entrance of the alleyway, where he could see the woman and heard her call out questioningly, he took a tentative step forward, the shadows reluctantly releasing their grasp on him, and pulled the goggles from his face, eyes blinking in the faded light.

 

"Who are you?"

 

~~~~~~

 

Zaren sighed as he watched the tiny bird flit about the table, grabbing scraps from this plate and that as she tried to fill her stomach. How such a tiny thing could eat so much, he wasn't quite sure, but was immensely glad that she wasn't ten times her size. It was bad enough trying to keep himself and Duren fed, let alone a fourth member of the household who could eat as much as they could. The only good thing was that Malice rarely ate anything more than a few bites, though Zaren suspected that was more to do with the demon's late night forays into the woods than anything to do with his physical appetite.

 

An insistent chirping broke him out of his thoughts, and he watched as the tiny bird flew past him to settle on the doorknob for a few seconds, before apparently impatience took control and she darted through the open window. By the Gods, even the damn bird wanted him to go outside and....socialise, the mere thought of doing so eliciting a snort of contempt. It didn't matter that they were in a town that seemed almost designed for people like them, in the end the scaleless were the same everywhere; selfish, petty and vile. Were it not for the love of his brother, it would've been far too easy for Zaren to follow in their uncle's footsteps...

 

Still, he did need to go out, if only to stock up on more utensils and, hopefully, find some place where he could buy or borrow some more books. His own collection was beginning to prove woefully inadequate after months of use. Plus he needed to make sure his brothers weren't causing too much mischief. And if the rain was any indicator, there was a nice storm brewing, so he could at least enjoy that, right?

 

Within a few moments, he had left the apartment and was making his way towards the cafe, since he knew that was where Duren tended to spend his time. The only other person he could see was a woman, but she was of little interest.

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Skinner smoothered his cigarette in the skull and watched his two guests stand and begin to shuffle like it was time to leave. Skinner stood as well leaving his mug on the table. e streched his arms over his head and cracked his back. "Hang on, I'll just go with you" he said to Hancock. He put his coat on And strapped his leg bag on his thigh. He motioned for the two to follow him back down the hallway. The front room of the house was a wide room constructed of large timbers. On the left side of the room was a area with an impossiably tall bookshelf and a circle of chairs. On the opposite side had his less delicate work station. Every surface was covered in papers, books, skulls, herbs, ingredients, and other random items. The walls were covered in carved runes of an unknown origin. He went to the front door and opened it up, pausing briefly to eye his hockey stick resting against the wall. He shook his head and grabbed it, slinging the damaged wooden stick across his back and stepped out onto the street. As they walked, Skinner spoke up again, "Two questios, what are they and what are you?"he asked Mina.

 

(((You can go ahead and move us to the meeting.)))

Edited by padfoot

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Appearing behind a building of Goodneighbor after a more successful, short job, Jovanus whistled, adjusting the thumb ring he used for the teleportation, one of the few objects he chose to keep rather than sell. Looking to Idra, who was disoriented from the trip, he smiled. Patting down his suit, Jovanus took a moment to look for some mints before finding them in his right pocket, tossing them to Idra who unwrapped one and popped it in her mouth.

 

"Alright, just a few more minutes," he remarked, walking towards the building Skinner pointed out before. Though he could have walked in, Jovanus much more preferred staying outside, where he could keep some sort of watch. The meeting was mostly on his terms, but that didn't mean he couldn't be careful. In fact, he should be more careful than usual.

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Zoey sighed and leaned back after she ordered and ate an omelette. Eating a meal for free was awesome in her opinion and she rather enjoyed the experience whenever she could. She smiled as the bill was brought out and she paid with the money from the wallet she stole. Chirping softly in her stupid human form, she desperately wanted to be free and run around in her raptor form. Her true form. She looked around trying to find something to do as she slid out of the booth.

 

=======

 

Theo sat in silence as he ate some pancakes. Luckily for him, it was a peaceful morning and his meal wasn't disturbed in any form. He looked down as the bill came out. Without saying anything, he took some money out and paid for the meal. Turning invisible, he got up and went to go walk out to avoid talking to anyone who might seem interested in talking to him.

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So her gut had been right. There was somebody. However, it was not quite what she was expecting. The young man seemed to materialize from the shadows, which was intriguing but not so much surprising. What she found most unexpected was his lack of shoes. Her brow furrowed in a mix of confusion and humor. "My name is Gabriel." The chill that all demons seemed to emanate surrounded her. This must've been the one she'd sensed. He didn't seem hostile, but Gabe had never met a demon she could trust. Her wings twitched uneasily against her back. If he was here, surely Hancock had to of known. And had he at all been troublesome, she by now would've heard about it. Once the angel had surmised that he wasn't an immediate threat, she introduced the pleasantries. Or at least as polite as she could anyways. "Might I ask who you are? And what it is exactly you're doing here?" Did demons need places like Goodneighbor? Over the years she'd determined there were different ranks of demons. Weaker, lower ones were fairly common and often just a nuisance under the thumb of a higher up demon. The demons in charge of the Commons were stronger, and usually smarter. A group of those were tougher to deal with. They were usually lead by one or two rarer, stronger demons that even one on one, were troublesome. Those demons were usually the strongest to crawl out of Hell and reside on the surface, other stronger demons instead staying in Hell and only coming up for wars. The main reason being that they required a host, and most hosts were too weak to handle their powers.

So didn't he have some 'nest' to hole up in with a bunch of other demons?

 

 

While the two chatted, Hancock was making notes of what he had to do to prepare. It was probably better if he cleaned up his living room of the numerous sharp, and deadly swords he kept lying around. No need to arm people who already wanted to kill each other.

It wasn't long before they reached his modest cabin. He pulled keys from the satchel on his side and the deadbolt of the door slid open, and he opened the door. "I played around with a bit of enchanting so when my keys are near the door, it unlocks itself. Anyways, come on in." He forwent mentioning his first mishap with trying to enchant his '92 YJ. Similar in his door unlocking, he tried to get his Jeep to start when the keys were nearby. The machine must've been too complex for the magic to work on as it ended up backfiring. For weeks at random times of the day, his Jeep would roar to life scaring the living censorkip.gif out of him, including a few times in the middle of the night. It took him another few weeks to try and disenchant it. Eventually he succeeded. Mostly. There were times it still started on its own, but it was a rarer occasion.

Hancock's house was usually fairly organized. However in the recent weeks he'd neglected cleaning up. In the living room, random objects and papers layered the coffee table. He took it all in a single armful and disappeared down the hall across from the front door and into one of the three rooms. "The bathroom is the first door on the left." He yelled from his office. Returning, he gestured to the kitchen on the right. It was a fair size, half wood floor like the majority of the cabin where a dining table resided, also littered with miscellaneous junk, and half a tacky, outdated linoleum. Swords spattered the walls here and there. Any displayed in his house were his favorites. There were more decorating the walls in his shed too. It was how he made a living. He collected swords and would sell them at high prices to whoever wanted them. It was a simple business, but it was (usually) legal.

"You guys can have a seat at the table or on the couch." The couch faced the coffee table and an outdated TV. "I'll start on the tea." Hancock started into the kitchen and saw more stuff piled on the table. With a sigh, he started the water boiling and took another armful back to his office which doubled as his spare bedroom. "If you want," he said as he joined them in the living room. "You're welcome to stay here until you're back on your feet. I have a spare bed. The bathroom has pretty modern commodities. I usually sleep out in the back anyways."

Edited by RavenWolf1010

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Namina smiled ruefully at Skinner, flashing sharp teeth in the process. As soon as they exited the building, the guise of a normal face flickered back on. That, and clothes. She was still shirtless, so a fake shirt was the best she could manage.

 

"Straight t' business, hm?" Although reluctant to spill the details about herself, she had no qualms in telling the magic man everything she knew about he enemies. "Jovanus is a hybrid. Half human, half nymph. Or dryad. Something along the lines of 'forest spirit'. The other one, Idra, is full blooded."

 

She hesitated to spill her own biology until they were within closed doors. It was best not to give possible eavesdroppers information. As soon as they were all in Hancock's house, however, her glamour lz and suspiscions fizzled away.

 

"You, in the next room." Mina snapped her fingers and pointed at Hancock, watching the man until he exited the living room. Even then, the woman didn't seem at ease. Leaning forward towards Skinner, she spoke in a low voice.

 

"It's best this stays between you and I, no?" While her middle set of eyes remained on the man, the other two darted about the room. Eyes narrowed but seemingly satisfied, she began to speak.

While the broad term 'Shape-shifter' certainly applies to me, that is not what I am. To best understand...know that I'm not of this world. Or dimension, as far as I'm sure."

 

The more she spoke, the further an entirelt different layer of glamour faded. This time, however, it was willing. Her face elongated to form a soft snout, and ears legenthed to a point. A soft green frill edged said ears. More than this, her already impressive height topped off at around seven feet. Human legs became digitigraded, and signifigantly more animal. A long, thick tail twisted behind her. Her body was covered in soft gray, feather-like fibers. To thin to be real fur, but definitely there. Stretching into her new bones, she winced. It'd been to long she was hiding under glamours.

 

Her six eyes no longer seemed odd. In fact, they seemed comfortably placed across her strikingly feral face.

"See what I mean? This isn't something that can leave this house, let alone this room. So, uh, don't." As Hancock returned, her gaze immediately snapped to him. Namina stared at him for several long, tense seconds. Eventually, she settled. "That means you too, sword boy."

 

 

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His words tapered off as he caught sight of something entirely out of this world. ((Heh.)) Hancock didn't dare to edge closer, despite how much he wanted to. The creature itself was the most wonderous thing he had yet to witness in his lifetime. Then it spoke. Mina? Only now had he noticed her absence. "Of course." Hancock said, surprise and wonder obvious on his face. It was Mina. He searched for something to express his feelings. "You look... amazing...?" The man cursed in his head. He didn't want to offend her, but he couldn't find the right words to convey it properly. Thankfully, the whistling tea kettle spared him some embarrassment as he awkwardly shuffled into the kitchen. "Tea anyone?"

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