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X-DREAMERS [mission 01: ash and sand]

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Finding coordinates... ok.


Mission ID: 0101-2

Participants: Stan, Badu, Cistina, Lara, Duke, Jowan, Arch, Theo, + Yusei, Typheus, Fiddlesticks

World: Scadrial [Mistborn]

Location: Luthadel

Time: Late-afternoon

Current Environment: Ashfall

Status: Both anchors retrieved. Mission complete...? ### SKIP TO PART 2 ###





This is a companion thread to X-DREAMERS. In an effort not to flood the main topic with game posts (and to experiment with different RP forms, as per the spirit of Freeforms), this is a thread exclusively for off-world missions and other fast paced events such as battles that require a rapid exchange of posts.



1. Only characters submitted to missions in X-DREAMERS may participate.
2. Short posts are encouraged.
3. Your character may exit the area and return to base at any time, although they will have a few turns of cooldown and might not be able to resume in the same place they left off.
4. If you are inactive over several rounds, your character will be sent back to base.






Distributed by Pascal, the communicators are a vital piece of equipment for missions. They are handheld objects -- either a free-floating color-changing cube or an attachment to an existing communications device -- that allow for any agent to speak to any other agent regardless of distance. Communicators can be used to call the base as well, but there may be a certain amount of lag between inter-dimensional responses.


The current model of communicator (v1.0) is a cube with rounded rubber edges, which can be touch-activated on all six sides to bring up different functions; furthermore it can be enabled to float near a user's head and take voice commands for a hands free call experience.



⚀ - calling: Speak to any other agent in real-time by using a voice command or by inputting a 4 digit code into the dial pad.
⚁ - tracking: Points to nearby sources of anomalies and gauges their relative strength.
⚂ - radar: Shows relative location of other agents.
⚃ - recall button: Emergency teleport back to base. Takes about 7 seconds to charge up and immediately warps the person away when it is ready.
⚄ - small teleporter: Send objects (smaller than the cube) to another communicator.
⚅ - hands-free mode: Cube floats and turns into a small AI assistant.





Would you like to GM a mission? Are you too nervous to create an actual, full RP? You may submit one to me privately and if you're lucky, we might run it! Just fill in the form below.

<World:> List universe/media (can have multiple if they merged with something else)
<Location:> Specific location within the world
<Environment:> Particular traits of the world? ~
<Objective:> If an anchor retrieval mission state the anchor and its universe. 
<Sequence:> Summarize what happens in the entire mission in 2-5 plot points
<Encounters+NPCs:> Notes about any unusual people or enemies
<Notes>: Misc.


Edited by TehUltimateMage

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Ash fell from the sky.


The teleportation was no more of a jolt than the first time the time-space anomaly had stolen him, but nevertheless it was still a little disorienting to have his entire world shift into something else no matter how many times he did it.


Stan remarked that some time had passed since he last visited with Xker -- the sun, red behind the dust and clouds in the air, was shining almost directly overhead. Flecks of dust dropped from above like soot-black snowflakes that settled in sheets on the roofs, the ground, and any other horizontal surface, painting darkness into every corner. In the narrow alleyway, ash had accumulated up to his ankles. The main street had workers sweeping the cobblestones to clear the road, but no such luck in the back roads seldom used apart from by mice and thieves or the occasional beggar slowly getting buried.


"C̷̛a͢n ̢y̵̡ò̵̕u̶ ̵͏he̷̢̨a͢r̴͟͞ ͝m̸͟ȩ̵?͟͠" Pascal's voice creeped out from his pocket through the static, bypassing his ringtone. Stan slipped his cell phone out from his front pocket and flipped it open. It now had Pascal's custom add-on stuck to its back, and the man could only scoff at how the vulgar futuristic shape ruined the Nokia's slim, retro silhouette.


"Loud, but not clear," Stan answered into the device.


"P͘e͞r̶f͠ec̡t!̴I͡ ̧d̵id͜ń'̡t thi̡nk̴ cros҉s-d̢ime͜nsi̶ona͠l͜ ̡co̢m͜m̛u̧nicàtioǹ w͢o̶ul͜d͝ ̸evȩn͝ ͠wo͝r̨k̀,͘ ̸s҉o t̛r͜y ͘t̨o͟  ̕͢c̛o̵̷n̵҉t̸̛a͡c̀t ̶m̢̧̛e҉̛̛ ͝f̸̷r҉͏o̕m̢͏ ̡͏t͘͜įm̷̶̀ȩ̵ ̵ţ̵͏ǫ ̸̀t̷į҉ḿ̢e͢͝ ͢͏tơ ̡͝t̸̸e͏͠ş҉͝t͏̨ ͝͞͠i̛͜͝t̀͜ ҉o͏̧̀̕u̴t̵̵̢̨,̴̸̡ ҉͘͠͞a̵̢͟͜l̸̵͢͞͝r҉̸̧̕i̡͞g̡͘͜͡͞h̀̕͘͞t̸̵̕͟?̢̧̀͞"


"Pascal? Pascal, we're losing you." He let out a long breath, now addressing the group he was supposed to lead. "Guess we're still on our own, as usual. At least we have a way to talk to each other now without yellin'. This part of town doesn't look too familiar to me, so we'll have to continue where I left off last time."



((How this works: think a DnD style of play. Ask me questions and suggest actions in the Discord and I will provide information you can use in your posts. Let's get this trainwreck rolling!))

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Why did Lara feel sick every time she went through that bloody teleporter? It felt as if her stomach had been catapulted upwards and smacked into her diaphragm in the process. She took a moment to look around and take note of the thick ash in the air. It’ll be a bit difficult to breathe sometimes, I’m sure of it, Lara thought. After all, there is no way these clouds will clear up any time soon. All this ash and dust... I ought to appreciate clean air more. She looked at the Nokia in dismay when Pascal’s voice broke up. There went their source of intel from the base. At least Stan had been here, so Lara knew then that navigating this world was bearable. Nothing was more reassuring than that. She wondered if there were going to be cliffs she’d have to climb- she was due for a rigorous workout like that again... And there ought to be a gym back at base. She would make sure there was one when they returned.


Then her attention turned back to Stan. “Well, just show us where you left off, Stanley.” She went back to looking around, feeling rather naked without her signature weapons on her. Lara had had to leave her metal objects with someone, as well as Cicero, so that they would all go back to bass. Everything will be fine. Perhaps someone will feed Cicero when he comes in. I hope. Still, Lara waited for further instructions.

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"What Xker and I were doing was wandering around town, following the tracker. Standard procedure." He nodded to the old canid alien to confirm. "We honestly weren't here for real long... So if we can find a way to figure where we are right now, that would be helpful. This place's got a massive building in the middle that looks like a mass of spikes. That'll be a good landmark, if you can see it."


Figuring that since there were a trio of new recruits following along, Stan took the time to explain their usual mode of operations. "Items that don't belong to a certain world have a different... wavelength pulse, so to speak. The more important the thing, the stronger its pulses, yeah? So we've rigged up a device that detects these changes in frequency and tells us where they're coming from, in order to help us find and retrieve the item."


"Typically when we get sent to another world we end up wandering around and solving people's problems," he added, lifting up his shoulders in a shrug. "Most of the time, when there's a world anchor around, it means one of two things: that the world is already being affected by multiverse shenanigans, or that there's at least one other world traveler like us. Given Murphy's Law, it's always the worst option of the two."

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((We haven't even started the mission, how can it be a trainwreck already? XD))


you made note of any unnatural occurrences near the base as of recent?" Cistina instinctively looked away from Duke as she finished her sentence, making note of-!!! Cistina bowed over, coughing. Ash! Ash everywhere in the air... How could this have happened? Even the air at Mount Weobry had not this much! She swiped a hand through the air in front of her face, clearing it by instinct more than intentional action. After her fit was over, Cistina shook her head and composed herself, senses alert. Pray that does not happen on a battlefield.

They were in a back alleyway. The clouds overhead were thick and gloomy, and the light of a red sun could be seen behind them. The buildings and cobblestone around them were stained black by the ash that fell as snowflakes. She could see servants out of the alleyway, clearing piles of it, in fact. Cistina shuddered subconsciously.



"We honestly weren't here for real long... So if we can find a way to figure where we are right now, that would be helpful. This place's got a massive building in the middle that looks like a mass of spikes. That'll be a good landmark, if you can see it." Stan said to Lara. It sounds like she had missed some talk while she was coughing. Stan then turned to listing their typical actions during a mission--There were three newcomers, at a count. Cistina crept forward, boots kicking up puffs of ash in the uncleaned alley, watching the servants closely as she pressed herself to the wall. Would they have a master to attend to? 


"Perhaps it would be best for us to glean some information from the servants there?" Cistina gestured at the workers. "Even if we do not, I doubt any of us could be mistaken for one of them, so carry yourself highly. Whatever pity you may feel for them, try not to show it."

Edited by Pyrowings

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Lara nodded, taking note of the walls of the buildings around them. Stone and brick... Not an awful climb, though I’m a bit leery about the coats of dust. She looked up to see how far of a climb it would be. Hmm.... It’s doable. God damn do I wish I had my grapple, though, this dust is a little unnerving.Well, I ought to take a look around. It would be easier to find what we need from a higher elevation.” Lara tested out the sturdiness of the wall by beginning to climb a meter or two up. “Excellent. There are plenty of handholds to climb. Pray I don’t slip on the dust.” She continued to climb. Hopefully if she fell someone would have been able to grab her.

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[ ash and stones : duke -- ; ] 


Duke blinks as the light of the teleporter fades away, slowly replaced by a dusty, misty atmosphere before the gathered group. He sighs, raising his uninjured arm and running a hand through his hair, smoothing out the blond strands before he shakes his head and recollects his thoughts. 


It was always strange -- this teleportation business, the idea of going on missions, but welcome. Duke has not spent his life outside for nothing, values the idea of taking action and doing something so much more than remaining constant, static. It was exciting -- he could breathe in the unfamiliar setting before him, feel the energy stir in the members by his side as they awaited whatever would greet them in this new world. Looking aside, Duke glances briefly at Jowan nearby -- how was he holding up? For sure, the actions of the X-Dre were unfamiliar, near-suspect, to newcomers, but he does not think Jowan would suddenly turn his back. He flashes a brief smile, and then turns back to Cistina.


She is as composed as ever, brunette hair nearly combed back and her dress brushing her kneecaps, immaculate despite the brief stir of magic energy from Pascal's teleporter. 


"Very unusual," he replies, his voice light and full of mirth. "I've gotten a couple reports from agents walking into what seems to be invisible walls. Strange, hm?"


Then, he chuckles briefly before turning serious -- as lovely as Cistina is, he does not wish to joke with her and not give her a complete answer. A proper report still, after all, made the difference between the known and the unknown, life and death.


"Somewhat," Duke replies, and then lowers his voice. He wants the agents to focus on the mission -- not whatever may be happening back home, as those who remained were more than prepared to deal with anything, he thinks. It would do them no good to worry them now. "The newcomers this season are a bit -- er, aggressive --"


Duke breaks off talking as Cistina coughs, the thick air certainly different from the free skies she is used to, and the blond's face is one of concern. He opens his mouth to speak, but is interrupted by Stan.


The servants? That was a good place to start. Giving Cistina an appreciative glance, the blond begins to head forward, stopping just short of the people working. 

"Excuse me," Duke says, and pauses to brush the dark-coloured ash from the edges of his white cloak, recoiling in disgust. He just had this cleaned the other day! And now it would be dirty once more ... he was running out of spare cloaks. "Can I ask what you're doing? Where is this?"


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~ @ Lara ~



The climb is not difficult for someone of Lara's athleticism, and as she pulls herself over the lip of the roof of dirty shingles the city presents itself to her. The slums of the commoners spread out like a sea of darkness, echoing the looming clouds above. Pointed shapes rise in places from the uniform mass of the working class houses, punctuating the cityscape with their importance as noble keeps or ministry buildings -- and beyond the canal splitting the city in two is a gigantic structure of spires reminiscent of a dangerous rock formation. In the far distance she spots the form of a volcano which seems to be partially responsible for the ash-falls.


Closer to her, one of the larger buildings towers over the one she is standing on: made of larger blocks of stone and decorated with artisan-worked spires and small but colorful stained glass windows, it is clear that it is in a completely different league. A marketplace full of movement fills the plaza in front of this structure. Most people below are seen in clothing the same shade of dull brown, milling about through the squares, streets, and alleyways like a mass of ants. Some are better dressed than others with varying levels of cleanliness; others still show a hint of white underneath their dark cloaks used to shield themselves from the ash falling from the sky.




~ @ Duke ~


The working man looks afraid. He shrinks back at Duke's approach, the fearful white of his eyes bright against his soot-covered face, and his rugged hands unconsciously hold his broom a little tighter when he is questioned. His flighty movements are those of a younger man, but his hallowed cheekbones and large, hooked nose make him look many years older. He avoids looking at Duke directly, taking his question as an accusation and his disgusted expression as a conviction. (Lord Ruler, did he expect him to sweep the ashes before they fell on him?)

The worker is certain that he was doing nothing out of the ordinary, or had done anything outside the law unlike some of his brethren. He had been nothing but an honest man despite the conditions. But nobles are known for their volatile and violent moods, finding any excuse however small to justify venting their frustrations on the skaa of the street.


He is therefore uncertain of how he should answer this mysterious man wearing an immaculate white cloak -- knowing that any answer could mean beatings or death by the sword at the stranger's hip or whatever other mysterious forces the nobles wielded. He quickly considers his options and chooses to reply, curt, unassuming, and meek.


"We are clearing the ash, m'lord. Near House Goswin, commercial district," he informs him. What he leaves unsaid is a question about how or why a nobleman would ask for directions, or if his strange entourage of ghouls and wraiths was real. It couldn't have been a trick of the mists... the sun was still in the sky and the mists were at bay. One of them had pigeons' wings appearing behind him, as the Lord Ruler was sometimes rumored to have -- and the others, they did not appear like any noble or skaa he had ever seen. The skaa servant squeezes his eyes shut and opens them again, as if the very act would reveal their presence as an illusion.


The few other street-sweepers further down the road have not stopped their work, though their eyes are focused on the scene unfolding before them. They too, saw the four-winged apparition in the alleyway, but decide that it isn't worth the trouble pursuing further.

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Lara took a quick look around, taking note of the larger building not too far away. It was absolutely stunning, quite the far cry from the other buildings that surrounded the group, including the one she currently stood on. She dialed Stan's code into her communicator and held it within a decent range of her face. "Stan, I just found the building. It's not too far off,  a little ways to the...." She looked on her communicator to see where the little compass function was. "Ummmm... northeast. Yeah, northeast. Do you want me to stick around here and be your eyes? Or would you rather me climb down and follow?" Lara looked around at the buildings, awed that the architecture was so different from back at home. It was always interesting to look at the different buildings and other things that she would come across. Nothing was better. 


"Though I am definitely intrigued by the view up here, no complaints if I need to stay."

Edited by Mikasa361

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[ blinding white: duke -- ; ]


Duke frowns as the worker slowly turns around to inspect him -- there is a certain wariness in the other's eye, following the curve of his noise and the dip of his mouth, and it does not settle well within the blond's heart. Of course, one has to be wary of strangers -- but he means no harm, and Duke does not particularly like the suspect way that the other speaks and regards him. It feels as if he is missing out on some crucial detail that he does not know, and yet everyone else is aware of; if the way the other workers keep their heads down and their sweeping intensifies is any signal of the lack of welcome regarded at his person. 


"I ... see," he says, even if those words mean nothing. House Goswin? Commercial district? Well, there would certainly be some form of royalty if the places were divided upon name -- Duke blinks upon being addressed as a lord, but perhaps that was just polite around these parts. Deep in thought, Duke rests one hand on the sword at his side, fingers sliding across the leather handle as he tries to arrange his thoughts.


He has to plan his next actions carefully, if they are to find the anchor and leave as soon as possible -- it would be good to report back to the others with his information, but at the same time Duke does not want to step out of a conversation so rudely. Glancing back to make sure the rest of the mission had not up and left him -- after all, it wouldn't be the first time that's happened -- Duke turns back to the worker.


"This ash," he says, gesturing to the falling blackness with a certain degree of discomfort, "is it ... does it ever stop around here?" 

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@ Duke


Another worker answers in the first one's stead. She scoffs at Duke's inquiry, haughty eyes behind short hair matted by ash. She inferred from his phrasing -- 'around here' -- that this noble was a foreigner, perhaps from the many lands from the south or the east of the city, and that he somehow was lost enough to ask Skaa for directions. A desperate noble was a vulnerable noble, and that fact did not escape her notice. "Just because we're in the city of Luthadel doesn't mean the world works different. Of course it stops sometimes."


"Sometimes the ash falls, sometimes it doesn't," adds another skaa servant, as if the woman had broken some taboo that prevented the lot of them from speaking. "Like how sometimes it rains, and sometimes it doesn't."


"He could be from from somewhere where ashfalls happen constantly. Like under the ashmount," a fourth servant chimes in from a distance.


The first worker Duke had addressed had backed away during this time, hanging his head low and excusing himself to get back to work. "The Lord of House Goswin tends to make his rounds in the afternoon. No skaa wants to be caught being lazy by their Lord, so if you could pardon me..."




Stan -- Alleyway near House Goswin (?)


"Do you want me to stick around here and be your eyes? Or would you rather me climb down and follow?"


Lara's voice came from his phone, as expected. Stan looked up and could barely see her perched on the roof. "Keep an eye up there. If you see anyone flying or running on the rooftops, let us know since that could mean real trouble. And I don't know how good your eyesight is, but if you see any of the 'bright sand' or 'big monsters' I heard people talk about last time, that would give us some good leads."


While he had his phone open, he navigated to the tracking application. It detected an anomaly from the northeast, which matched the direction of the big tower, according to Lara. He was guessing that was the anchor that he and Xker was chasing, meaning that they were thrown a little off course by the most recent warp.


But there was another strong anomaly. He furrowed his brow. It pointed a little more westward than the first one, though far enough to show that it was distinctly two sources. "Could you check the tracker?" he asked Lara. "Mine's showing two points. I've never seen this before. Maybe my phone's glitching out with this new update."


"Two anchors?" whispered Badu, leaning forward like an old crone to see for herself. "How peculiar. But not impossible." Stan noted that minus the distinctive mask, the plague doctor blended right in with the dull environment and the drab workers Duke had struck a conversation with. Apart from her and Jowan, everyone else seemed to stand out in one way or another, as they always did when they went off-world.


"We'll just have to investigate both. The easy part's finding the direction. The hard part's navigating the roadways to get there. Are we ready to move out?" he asked the group.



Edited by TehUltimateMage

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[ think of the peasants : duke -- ; ] 


It was a surprise when someone else answered his question -- a woman, this time, with short hair and intelligent eyes. Her tone, although not harsh, is certainly one of exhaustion at his question, as if he asked something commonly known. And, as far as Duke was aware, the seemingly neverending fall of ash was a weather that the people of this world were used to, from birth until death.


It was strange to think of that -- already he was uncomfortable with the high volumes of black soot landing on his person, staining his white cape and gloves and hair, wondering how one could stand to be outside at all, nevermind long periods of time, under such circumstances. Would this perhaps be an act of oppression, from the heavens themselves? Duke laughs at that, internally -- the idea that the weather could oppress. What a field day Elias would have with that one. Perhaps he would just start shooting into the sky, straight upwards, hoping for a solution.


"Luthadel," Duke repeats, the word unfamiliar on his tongue -- so that was their present location, then? Something at the back of his mind reminds Duke that he is still on a mission, and that he should report back any information to the rest of the group, but he is much more interested in talking to these people, presently. What interesting tales they have, and suspicious eyes.


He is pleasantly surprised when more voices join the fray, and Duke is delighted that more people are speaking -- well, he is only all the more happy to chat. The ashmount? How interesting, so it seemed this weather differed by place, too.


He laughs, then, a bright, tinkling sound. "Sorry," he says sheepishly, looking anything but. "But as you can probably tell, I'm not from around here. I've never seen this," and here, he gestures around at the ash, "either, honestly. Maybe in fireplaces sometimes. But never in such heavy volumes. Is this common? How do you handle this every day? It must be such a bore. Oh, but I suppose you're used to it, being your home and everything -- was that insensitive? I don't mean to insult your ash or anything. I'm sure it's quite pleasant, if you're into that sort of thing, I mean." 


He stops talking, aware that he is rambling, and zeroes in on the first man he had spoken to, who has backed away, murmuring. "House Goswin?" he repeats, clearly confused. "Are you under employment?" What was a skaa?


Seeing a noble of this land could be quite beneficial to their mission, Duke thinks to himself -- and at the same time, he kind of wants to see what nobles look like in this land. If they are anything like the nobles he is used to back home, then they arrive in large shows of wealth, with gold-rimmed clothing and birds with feathers of a thousand different colours and the expense of thousands of men at their feet. 


Maybe I'll find another noble to fall in love with again, Duke thinks to himself wryly, with a bit of dark humour, and waits patiently for an answer.




[ search and rescue : theo -- ; ]


"What are we supposed to look for?" Theo asks, pushing his way to the front, spears at the ready. He shoves aside a person on the way over, glancing briefly at their strange, bird-like bone mask. Strange. He'll never get used to the unique quirks presented by all the people he meets on his journeys, but as long as they weren't a demon -- he supposed that was fine. What was their name again? Badoo?


What a name, Theo snickers.


"If you give me a couple hundred years," Theo says, very seriously, "then I can find anything." It only took me 900 years to find Jane again. 

Edited by taire

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Jowan [ ruining Duke’s fun ]


He tries to return Duke’s reassuring smile, but he’s unsure of how successful he manages to be. Most of the others seem to know what they’re supposed to be doing; the female rogue (Lara was her name, right?) was already scaling a building. He didn’t even have one of the strange cubes that had been handed out, not that he would’ve been able to figure out how to use one. Perhaps he was to just wait and watch while the veterans decide on the best course of action.


Waiting and watching was difficult, however, when he saw Duke’s attempts at speaking with the locals. The man that he had approached shrank back in a way that was painfully familiar. It would have been fine had Duke left it at that; the people appeared unwilling to start a confrontation, fortunately, despite how obviously out of place the group was. Jowan’s skin prickles with each pair of eyes that fall upon the group, and he bites at his lip.


He wants to trust that Duke knows what he’s doing. They desperately needed useful information, and it sounds like Duke was getting that. Duke had done missions like this before, and he hadn’t. It was just…


He’d had a lot of time to think. Months, actually. There hadn’t been much else to do. So he’d spent a lot of time thinking about getting caught and how he could have possibly avoided it. Sometimes he’d wondered how he’d ever been foolish enough to think that escaping permanently was ever possible, and sometimes he’d felt as though he’d been inches from freedom before getting caught. It didn’t really matter either way, not anymore. They aren’t going to be caught and turned over to Templars, but he can’t shake the sick feeling in his gut. Their clean clothes already make them stick out like sore thumbs, and Duke’s persistent questioning does nothing to help. 


He reaches out and rests his hand lightly on Duke’s shoulder, heart beating with the hope that he isn’t overstepping his bounds and harming the mission. “Duke,” he murmurs, eyes flickering between Duke and the townspeople. “Maybe we should leave them alone.” Part of him expects Duke to give another one of his disarming smiles- he seems so fearless and comfortable. He'll trust Duke if Duke's really sure that everything is fine, but he needs the reassurance. 

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Cistina ~ Duke no!


"Very unusual," he replies lightheartedly to her. "I've gotten a couple reports from agents walking into what seems to be invisible walls. Strange, hm?"


"I meant unusual phenomena that you were not at the center of," Cistina chuckled.


"Somewhat; The newcomers this season are a bit -- er, aggressive --"

Nothing too terribly unusual, then. Nothing like a divine wind that only stirs the hair, or a flame that could be felt but never seen.... Cistina watched as Duke ambled up and felt a shred of worry as he started pleasantly chatting with one of the servants. Duke, I do not think you are preforming well at being inconspicuous! Still, even if Duke seemed to arouse suspicion, he was getting information from the servant. House Goswin--A house of nobility? And this city too is sectioned into districts. From behind her, Cistina heard Lara declaring her intent to climb up the walls to have a better overlook and Stan reminding her of the cubes Pascal handed out before this mission, then turned her attention back on Duke. Her worry only grew when hearing another person, a woman who gave a scoff at his quiry."Just because we're in the city of Luthadel doesn't mean the world works different. Of course it stops sometimes."


Cistina ducked back into the alleyway, faintly registering Stan's comments about flying people on the rooftops and giant monsters before flying to the edge of a rooftop from the back of it, then catching the edge and pulling herself up the rest of the way. Once on, ducking to stay as hidden as she possibly could while running on the roof, she made her way and dropped down a slit to a narrow alley a building away from where they were. She quickly dusted her clothes off--maybe I should have worn some more intricate clothing than this--and composed herself before striding out towards Duke. Head slightly tilted up, back straight. Purposeful steps--Oops!. 


"Excuse me," Cistina automatically said as she bumped into someone--was he speaking to Duke just then?--Then called out (still walking) "Duke, what are you doing with these common people?" Cistina made a sweeping gesture, expression stern. "We have business to attend to at the manor! There will be another time for us to explore Luthadel at our leisure!"


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Lara sighed and looked at the different sides of her cube. I can never remember which side is which, this bloody technology will be the end of me. She finally flipped it to the correct side, looking at the tracker. It did, indeed, show two points. Two anchors? Peculiar…. But it is a thing that happens here and there.


No Stan, you’re not crazy yet, there are two points.” Lara looked around, checking rooftops and noticing nothing peculiar. Even with the dust though, it wasn’t particularly difficult to look around. Everything seemed clear, so Lara nodded and held the communicator close. “Everything is clear from what I can see. You’re clear to get going.


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@ Duke



Hushed whispers are exchanged among the curious servants. He speaks of a land where ash is contained within firepits, and the streets stayed clean enough for there to be no need for workers to push it into the river for it to be swept away.


The thought was almost inconceivable.


One of the skaa lowers her eyes, subtly clenching her teeth at the farce of a man who seemed like he was just toying with them for his own entertainment.


The first servant he had approached had begun to change his attitude -- the fear in his expression softens, then gives way to mild annoyance. He furrows his brow and tucks his broom under his arm, gesturing with his hands as if explaining a concept to a slow child. "Goswin is a lord. He resides in that keep--" he points to the pointed gothic roofs of cathedral-like structure behind him, "and he oversees all of us on this street. Good work finished on time is rewarded with food tokens -- little bits of paper that can be exchanged for bread -- and bad work is rewarded with beatings and death-by-example."


Another man approaches from the white-cloaked noble's direction. He dressed similarly to the first, and had a faint aroma of exotic fruits around him. In his eyes the worker thinks he recognizes the traits of some dark-eyed skaa, but that would have been impossible. No servant would be treated this well.


"Yes! That's what I've been trying to tell your friend, sir," he says to Jowan after taking in a breath to stop himself from shouting at this new man. Maybe they did come from a strange land, far, far away. The worker blinks again, squeezing his eyes and rubbing his face. Was this a particularly vivid fever dream from lack of proper rest?


Something bumps into him while he tries to gather his bearings, and he goes livid when he realizes his mistake of standing in the path of this well-dressed woman in a robe of vivid yellow. The murmuring, giggling skaa instantly silence themselves when she comes calling, bowing their heads and pretending to be working on their ever-constant task of sweeping the ash into the canal. But some discreetly raise their eyes to observe the trio of odd nobility, eager to gather more stories to tell their friends once the day ends.


A murmur of an apology escapes his lips, too quiet to be heard, but in the end he decides that it would be better to not mention anything until he is directly addressed. He silently recites a prayer to the Lord Ruler, asking this Duke to not mention anything about disrespectful servants to his Lady or during their inevitable meeting with House Goswin (since they were on official business).

Edited by TehUltimateMage

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[ a farce for the people : duke -- ; ]


Duke's face expands into a smile as the servant begins to explain things to him -- how interesting! So it seemed that the commonplace rules of servants-and-lords applied in this world as well, and the brooms held by the skaa and their world-weary expressions only reminds Duke of how fortunate he has been in his own life. Had Ace not rescued him when he was ... well, he could be subject to a fate such as this -- or worse.


And instead, here he was -- a lord in everything but name, the Guard Commander's seal against his breast and power thrumming deep within his blood. How things played out -- and how the sacrifices of many have lead to his glory today. He would be foolish to forget such little, yet important details, and it is that thought that humbles him as his face falls, upon hearing the possible punishments inflicted.


No person should have to endure such a thing -- and that is what he remembers, that he has fought for justice against such crimes, that this is the reason the people back home have sacrificed so much. Has he forgotten them? Their call?


Perhaps his loyalties have washed away with this feeling of comfort at being at the X-Dreamers behest. If Ace could see him now -- perhaps he would be -- disappointed. 


But that is not what is important -- only that Duke is here, now, and his life decisions are entirely his own. 


"That's unfortunate," Duke frowns, "are you telling me your daily meals are not guaranteed? That's simply inconceivable -- where I'm from, you get paid for any and all work you do, especially something as tiring and as backbending as this." He pauses, running his fingers through his hair briefly, lost in thought. He wants to approach this in a delicate manner, but he knows -- he has been told many times -- that he is not one for fine delicacies. Part of him wants to try and convince the servant to run away with him to a better future, but when has that helped him? He does not have Ace's silver-tongued words or Elias' revolutionary fevour. He would only make a laughingstock out of himself to attempt something like that here.


Still he cannot -- just walk away and do nothing. If there is anything Duke knows to do, it is to never give up -- even when it seems everything else is lost. 


That is when he feels a hand on his shoulder, and Duke smiles faintly -- the comfort of another person is welcome, but he is so distracted by his thoughts -- and his incoming plan -- that he does not quite register what Jowan says. Instead, Duke reaches up to place his hand on the other's, and gives a faint squeeze with a fleeting glance. "Hi Jowan," he says, distracted.


Then, he turns back to the servant. "No need for that 'sir' stuff," Duke says, laughing. "I'm from the countryside myself. You calling me sir would be like --" 


He is interrupted by Cistina, and his blood turns cold. What is she doing? Can she not see that he is trying to help -- trying to figure out a way to resolve this issue?


He has grown up around revolutionaries, heroes, criminals, and he would not think twice about throwing away the mission in order to stage something else. But he is a follower -- not a leader, despite the titles imposed upon him and the responsibilities he shoulders. "Sorry," he replies coldly, eyes hardening. "I have no idea what you mean.”


There is a slight rise to his shoulders, and he drops his hand from Jowan's, tension throughout his frame. However, Duke relaxes in a heartbeat, knowing he is still here for one reason and one reason only -- according to the X-Dreamers, in any case. "As I was saying," he says, turning back to the servant, "please excuse that. I do apologise. I don't know of any meeting with House Goswin, nor do I particularly follow any commands, either. If anyone has an issue with that, they can personally take it up with me."


He brushes his cape from his shoulder, still aware of Jowan at his side -- what must he think of this? Duke wonders.


"Tell me more," he says briskly. "What are the conditions like here? Back home, we used to have lords who abused their powers and made life miserable -- but that ended after a tad of conflict." Duke smiles faintly. "I'm interested, if you would." 

Edited by taire

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Jowan [ this won't work ]


Jowan’s breath catches in his throat at the touch of Duke’s gloved hand on his own. He considers tugging his hand away, but he can’t seem to make his body move.

It has simply been too long since the last time he felt any human contact. When was the last time he casually brushed against someone’s fingers? The last time someone touched him without the intent to harm or control? Lily, and Neria in an entirely different way. It feels like a lifetime ago, and in a way it was. 

He convinces himself that the blush rising up his cheeks is because of nothing more. 
He feels some measure of relief as Cistina’s commanding words fill the air, even as he involuntarily tightens his grip on Duke’s shoulder and lowers his eyes. Maybe she can salvage the situation. 

Duke doesn’t see it that way, apparently. Jowan should have known, but he hadn’t expected him to throw away Cistina’s attempts in such a dramatic way. Duke removes his hand, and Jowan lets his own linger on Duke's shoulder a second longer, missing the warmth. Upon realizing this, he snatches it away as if it'd been burned. 


What is Duke trying to do? He can’t- no, he can’t really think that he could or should start a rebellion. There couldn’t be a chance of it working; there never was. 

They aren’t Andraste. That aside, they neither have the time nor the duty to get involved. There’s nothing they can do for the people but retrieve the anchors. The plight of the people is awful and he sympathizes, but… he’d been told about the rebellion at Kinloch, in rather graphic detail. He was lucky to not have been there, in a way. 


He’s not sure what to do in response. Every word that falls out of Duke’s mouth makes it more obvious that they don’t belong in the city, but following Cistina’s lead would only make things worse. Unless they managed to convince the people that Duke was mad or joking, but he didn’t want to do that. “What are you doing?” he settles on whispering at Duke, looking at him with wide and pleading eyes. Maybe there’s a chance that he can make him think and they can get out of this situation. 

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Arch - Alleyway


The citizens of this new world evidently had never seen an angel before. The way their eyes strayed to his wings whenever they weren’t captivated by the boy’s, Duke was his name, questions. Although he had long grown used to the stares that accompanied the awe of seeing a heavenly being, Arch could not help but feel a twinge of self-consciousness as the strangers kept glancing ins his direction. His wings fluttered, pulling closer towards his body as he lifted his chin and glared at the few servants who were still staring at him, daring them to come closer.


Upon hearing Theo’s comment, Arch let out a soft “Ha!”.  
“If I remember correctly, you couldn’t capture Jane even after meeting her again for the first time centuries after you last saw each other,” Arch said as he looked over at his husband. He didn’t mention what Theo had managed to accomplish when he first met Jane after centuries of separation. He had shot Arch out of the sky with a bolt of lightning that day and Arch knew that Theo didn’t like to recall that memory. Offering Theo a small smile to assure him that Arch meant no ill by his statement, Arch turned back to the man with goggles who appeared to be in charge.


“If you need someone to scout ahead, I have no problem lending you my wings,” Arch said, the smile wiped from his face. “It should be a quick way to assess the situation without causing too much of a ruckus.”

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[ how time flies : theo -- ; ] 


Theo draws back when he hears Arch's voice, ever-familiar by his ear. Immediately, upon catching sight of the other, his eyes soften, and the warrior relaxes his tensed up posture as Arch smiles, his face brightening. 


"That doesn't count," Theo replies, his brows furrowed, but there is a hint of childishness in his voice and Arch knows him better than to mistake his tone for anything even slightly offended. Theo would follow Arch to the ends of the earth and back -- and he hopes -- no, he knows -- that Arch understands. "The point being, I wouldn't give up. Ever." 


He frowns when Arch speaks then, offering his help. Well -- Arch is an angel, and wholeheartedly devoted to his cause, but there is a certain fear that strikes Theo when he realises Arch would be midair, separated from the group in an unfamiliar land. As soon as Arch finishes speaking, Theo vanishes his lances with a quick wave of his hand and brushes his fingers down Arch's arm, curling his wrist around the other as he joins their hands together.


He leans up then, his head tucked in the corner where Arch's neck and shoulder meet, and he speaks -- very softly, as to not give the impression of weakness to their unfamiliar allies, but with concern, "Are you sure? We -- this is an unknown land. You don't know what dangers could be up there." Theo swallows, the sound loud in the silence between their skin, so close together. "Will you be safe?"




[ why do you assume you can't fix this? : duke -- ; ] 

((post written as a collab with pyro ~ cistina's reactions are all from her ))


Duke meets Jowan's eyes, wide and questioning and entirely unsure, and in return Duke simply smiles. He knows what he is doing -- he has seen the fall of nations, the rise of the free people; he has been involved in the creation of new empires in the best way possible, has cemented his legacy in history before his tenth birthday. He knows oppression, but not in the traditional sense -- rather, he understands oppression only in the context of revolution, only with the background of success regarding the world's injustices. There is one thing Duke believes in wholeheartedly, and that is the ability of the common individual against the state. Governments, politics, nations -- they were all structures composed of laws to be broken and customs to be redesigned, but he has grown up around people, around the beating, bloody heart of the rebellion alive in the spirits of those who have fought for such an ideal. 


There is not an idea, even the possibility, in his mind that his actions would fail. He has the powers of the ancient powers in his cheek, Vylcan's legacy etched into his skin, and he knows -- that he is indestructible, that he has a shield against even the strongest of foes. It is the same shield that has carried Ace's revolution to victory, glowing bright and blue around Chevire's borders, the same shield blessed by the Empress back in the creation of man. He does not have fear in his mind, because Duke knows -- he will not be defeated.


"It'll be fine," he replies, and the cheer in his tone is unmistakably genuine. "I've never lost at anything. I highly doubt any lord is going to challenge me to a duel now, anyways."


He turns back to the peasant, awaiting a reply, but it is Cistina who stops him instead, her posture guarded. There is a certain tiredness to her stance, and he watches as she removes her hands slowly from where she had been pressing them against her face, her eyes flashing amber fire. Duke pauses, uncertain all of a sudden at this new shift in her attitude -- Cistina was always so guarded, yet welcoming, so formal yet peaceful, and the strange, near-uncomfortable way she regards him freezes his thoughts in the back of his mind. Has he done something to warrant such a reply? He cannot, will not understand why she is so guarded, why she refuses -- just refuses -- to listen to any of the words he is saying, why she put up that facade. Why is everyone so opposed to him making an attempt at friendship?


"You cannot continue talking to these people, Duke! They..." She breaks off, obvious emotion in her voice, and is this show of sudden feeling that stops Duke in his tracks, makes the blond freeze and tense up, aware of Jowan by his side and the peasant before him, but at the moment he can only see Cistina before him, her words clenched in her throat and her eyes fierce.


What is she thinking? There is the roar of the ocean, the beating dance of waves upon wood and the isolation of one ship -- a single, lonely cruise across the grand blue. There is no one to hear your screams -- except perhaps the others who are already ensnared within the trap, except perhaps what entities lie sleeping, buried underneath the sand and stones of the great seas. A black flag, and an eyepatch -- the things of stereotypes, but certainly the chains and whips and the threat of enslavement is not, and it is the kind of things that haunts someone; a memory unforgiven, unforgotten. Perhaps -- Duke does not understand, because he has grown up around idealistic success, and perhaps because she does not voice her sorrows.


She is Cistina, in her yellow robes and with the power of the winds at her side -- but winds are so easily buffeted by the sea, and those who are too afraid to act up are often the same ones who would benefit the most. 



.... You will only endanger them!"


Her words are sharp, biting, and instinctively Duke flinches back as she comes up, grabbing him by the shoulders -- her fingers dig into his arm, her arms shaking at her sides, and she meets his gaze: warm brown on royal blue, the meeting of the earth and the sky, and Duke feels himself still.


 "I would know!"

For a second, it feels as if she is speaking in foreign tongues, in a language he does not understand -- Duke's head swims as he tries to make sense of her words. What does she mean -- she would know?


Duke's glance flies between the peasant, backed up now, eyes wide at Cistina's outburst, and to Jowan at the edges of his vision -- he cannot see the other man's face, but he wants to know -- what is he thinking? What are you all thinking?


He feels so isolated, all of a sudden -- because there is something he is clearly missing here, something that everyone else understands, and he does not like the implications that burden the furrow of Cistina's brow or the quiet whisper of Jowan's baritone voice in his ear. 


"I -- I'm --" And all of a sudden he is seventeen again, learning of Ace's death, understanding the world beyond the barriers of their protected city. Understanding that they need someone -- a guard, a commander, to protect the world they have created, taking up the mantle of Vylcan's shields at the cost of his own spirit for the benefit of the nation he has helped -- create, consolidate, prosper. 


He pushes back then, Cistina's hands shaken from his shoulders. "I will not!" he says in return, discomfort rising in his chest, his heart pounding in his throat. "There is clearly something wrong here, and I intend to fix it! You can't tell me you stare at people who are threatened daily with the possibility of beatings and death and do nothing? How can we expect to finish the mission by walking past such injustice?"


He breaks from their interaction then, voice sharp, stepping backwards. "Fixing the dimensions doesn't mean just securing the anchor. If you can leave knowing you abandoned people to their fates, how? If you're too afraid to act -- the past can never be changed, but we are here -- now. I never go back on my word, and I intend with every breath what I say -- I have never lost a battle, and I'm not about to begin now. You can send the entire army and I will repel -- every one." 

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@ Duke


The scene plays out like a drama. The three strangers interact, and it is clear that the white-caped gentleman is some sort of unstable in the mind, spouting words that were understandable but senseless in their context. Some workers think about leaving the area to avoid the trouble associated with these unfamiliar people, but none of them move away, as engrossed as they are in what is happening.


The white-caped man -- this Duke, who looked as if he had barely completed his second decade of life -- spouts things that sounded almost too good to be true. "Back home, we used to have lords who abused their powers and made life miserable -- but that ended after a tad of conflict." For a moment, the workers stood, entranced by his promise. The Duke raises his voice, clearly singing a different tune than his companions, and for a few heartbeats that first worker too was swayed, his brows lifted and his dark eyes watching the man with the white cape with reverence.


A small wind stirs and blows ash around him, and the spell set upon the skaa suddenly breaks. The reality sinks in.


"Challenging a noble is useless. Challenging an army is useless." The skaa worker gently shuts his eyes and takes in a sharp breath through his narrow nose, as if ready for the peaceful blanket of death to consume him. "You'd have to challenge a god," he continues, his voice trailing into a whisper, "and gods are unkillable."


The Duke lacked any visible signs of fear or awe that were usually associated with the Lord Ruler. "Okay," he says, nonchalant. As if he were a noble agreeing to attend a dinner ball.


The worker feels personally insulted that he is not being taken the slightest bit seriously. "You are not from here," he proceeds carefully, as if explaining something to a child. He leaves it ambiguous whether or not he means 'here' as in this sector, this city, or this region, or this world. "You can't barge into here and claim to fight battles you're better off not being involved in."



Stan -- Commercial District


Badu was unceremoniously pushed aside. What a disrespectful boy, she scoffed to herself, though her face remained unchanged behind her mask.


"Sorry dude," Stan answered Theo, partly in jest. "I'll be dead in a couple hundred years, so we're aiming more for efficiency rather than endurance, if you know what I mean." He raised both eyebrows, letting the if you know what I mean linger. Getting no worthwhile response, he spoke back into his phone. " 'preciate the help, babe," he answered her -- though the line had been open this whole time, relaying all the conversation below to Lara above.


Badu held her own cube rather awkwardly in her gloved hand, then shook her head and shoved the device into Arch's palms. "I don't think I would be using this. It would be more useful in your hands, if you are to fly."


"If you feel comfortable checking the skies, go for it," Stan said. "One side should show you the relative direction and distance of the anomalies, and if you punch in 7826 you can reach me. Pascal also said something about voice activation, so you can try that out."


Checking that everyone seemed to be doing alright and that no teleporter accidents happened, Stan pressed himself against a wall and exited the alleyway carefully, mentioning a short "Duke, we're leaving," as if he had already said something similar many times in the past.

Edited by TehUltimateMage

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Jowan [ why do you assume that you can? ]


Duke’s smile is so bright and sure. In a different time, Jowan might have believed him, and even now he’s tempted. A fire burns in his eyes, and Jowan doesn’t think that he’s seen anything quite like them before. They’re entrancing, and the confidence is infectious. Looking at Duke, he can almost feel like anything’s possible. 


Something holds him back. The little bit of doubt that kept him from trying to escape until his life was threatened. The feeling deep in his gut that convinced him to stay silent about the blood magic, to hide his scars from the only person that would do anything for him. The status quo doesn’t change so easily, not when hundreds of years of history tells you that nothing can change.


As much as he agrees with her words, he’s glad that Cistina’s anger isn’t directed at him. What happened to her to make her so emotionally attached to the situation?  


He imagines Duke visiting Ferelden. Would he be so quick to support a rebellion there? He thinks so, if five minutes here is enough. The way that the peasants speak and act is familiar. Some of the apprentices were defiant until the end, but other bore the same look as the peasants whenever a Templar looked too closely at them. Missing meals was hardly uncommon, either. It happened. Life moved on. 


Duke wouldn’t be able to understand, not after exchanging a few words with a mage. He wouldn’t understand the dangers of demons, or how much sway the Chantry had over the people, or how many mages and elves would fight to support their oppressors. Jowan has read enough history books to know that the Chantry almost always gets their way. 


Is this world any different? He doesn’t know. Perhaps it is more similar to Duke’s world than his own, but he can’t count on that. Who are they to think that things can be changed so easily? How can Duke even think about trying to fight someone that the locals deem to be a god? Duke is strong now, but Jowan remembers him bleeding and pale. 


“Oh, so you expect to just fix everything yourself, then? Kill this noble - this god - and everything’s fine? You’re already wounded, you can’t just fight an entire army. We don’t know anything about this place- maybe they'll just be replaced by something worse! What’s the point if you die?” 


Duke’s face falls, and Jowan realizes that he made a mistake. Andraste, he’d meant to comfort Duke, but the words that had poured from his mouth were scathing. “I- no, I didn’t-” he says, trying to apologize, but Duke’s expression is already one of determination. The fire is back in his eyes, and he laughs. 


What if Duke is right? Neria- she hadn’t been alone, but according to the stories he’d heard from his cells Ferelden would have been destroyed without her. She was always strong, but he'd never expected her to go so far. Duke almost reminds him of her. Their eyes were different -- hers were always more like ice than fire, calculating and unfazeable -- but they held the same unfailing will. Maybe he’ll just ruin his relationship with another hero, he thinks, and he suddenly feels very small and unsure. It's an unpleasant feeling, one that he knows and hates. 

Edited by Zor

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[ ye of little faith : duke -- ; ]


He does not understand the insistence of the peasant at his inability to carry through on his word. At the mention of a god, Duke simply shrugs his shoulders -- it is in no small part a major detail, but not something Duke finds concerning. He is used to the idea of Gods, while worshiped, in equal parts helping the people -- if Vylcan's presence in his mind is any indication, the value of a god's status does not come as any sort of warning in his mind. If he has to challenge a God -- so be it, and he will see how the time plays out.


However, Duke is taken aback by the worker's persistence, his harsh words and low undertones. He is not someone from this world, no, but that does not mean he cannot understand, cannot feel -- and it is this disparity that causes him to speak. 


"I can't just turn a blind eye to injustice either," he tells the peasant.  He thinks to himself for a second on how best to approach this situation, and is just going to speak when --


Jowan's words come as a surprise, and he is unable to hide the look of devastation that shadows his features as the other finishes speaking. 


He has a point, Vylcan's voice rumbles in his head, and Duke jolts. It has been a while, and although it is not unusual for them to go long without speaking -- Vylcan, after centuries of choosing champions and aiding campaigns, prefers to leave him to his whims -- Duke is almost embarrassed at having been caught in such a vulnerable state by the other.


Do you agree, then? he questions.


There is a low rumble, something that could be interpreted as agreement or laughter. Duke does not know which -- but he will put his bets on the latter. 


I lent my abilities to Ace against the Esteau army. What do you think, little one?


This brings a laugh from Duke, bright and cheerful, and eases the tension building in his chest. Of course. 


"Not quite myself," he says, holding up a finger to correct Jowan's words. "I'm also blessed by the presence of the dead man in my head. He happens to be quite an expert in revolutions, I believe." A pause. "Like I said," he said, his voice dropping from slightly humorous to impossibly soft, "I won't stand by and refuse to act simply because there is the fear of the unknown. Fighting among X-Dre barracks isn't the same as fighting for thousands of lives," he stresses, his arms raised to emphasize his point, the pain in his wounded arm forgotten. "I won't lose when there's so much to account for."


"Plus," he adds as an afterthought, his eyes warm. "I'd have you, if you're willing to come along. I understand if not, though. But I promise you no harm will befall you, nonetheless. Agents take care of each other."


He smiles, and then turns back to the peasant. "What's your name, by the way? I can't believe we've discussed for so long and I still don't know anything. Lovely to meet you, by the way, the name's Duke Lefevre. Do you need anything? Some water? Like a break maybe? The destruction of this oppressive societal class that allows a higher class to profit from the labour of millions?" 


A pause. "I want to apologise," he says. "I don't mean to make you uncomfortable. But please trust me when I say I understand the implications behind my statements, but even then," and here, Duke rests a hand on the handle of the rapier by his side, his other hand raised to gesture as he speaks. "I have no qualms about the difficulties that lie in my path. You're right -- I'm not from around here. Where I come from, Gods are killable -- as long as you have their powers by your side." He taps Vylcan's emblem then, embedded in his cheek. 

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Lara took this time on the roof to relax and explore her communicator a bit. It was cute, with the little face it had. The different sides stood for different functions- she hoped that Pascal taught Winston how to use the communicator properly when Lara decided to go home for a little bit. Constant communication with the people back home was always important to Lara. She looked at it one more time before placing it in front of her and looking at the sky, hoping nothing was going to come after the group this early. There was a strange beauty in the constant fall of ash, something peaceful about it. It was so new, which was one of the things Lara loved about travelling around. She knew all too well how dangerous new places were, but hell! It was always worth it seeing sights like these. 

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Stan -- Commercial District > Crossroads with the fountain


Stan had to glance down at the tracker at intervals to make sure he was heading the right direction. Two arrows, two dots. It wasn't like this when he first visited, which meant that one was new. Unless they were two parts of the same one? Ancient magical artefacts were never that simple, and he was glad that nobody in the organization had encountered a case of 'collect all 7 maidens to put this anchor back together and save the world'. That only worked for video games looking to artificially increase play time, and would be nothing short of tedious in real life.


The roads themselves were labyrinthian, twisting and turning between houses that clambered for space. He felt a little naked without a cloak of some kind, both because the ash continued to fall, and because the green and red he sported was a little unusual compared to what the locals wore -- but nowhere near as unusual as Arch's wings or whatever Theo was wearing. At least, the city guards didn't question him when they passed him previously, though Stan was ready to push the four-winged angel into the ground if it meant hiding him from the Garrison.


It paid to stick together so that everyone could be on the same page. However, at the moment Stan prioritized time and the health of his lungs over corralling everyone and, as long as he had the newbies within sight, he could trust that most people could find their way back using the spiffy new communicators (or good old common sense).




Then again, this was Duke. Knowing him, he'd probably end up punching an aristocrat and bringing the wrath of the entire city guard upon himself, like the last time. Letting him come was an idiotic move and it was too late to change minds -- even though, perhaps a day five years ago, he would have done the same thing as the blond haired boy.




The street opened up to a large crossroads, the center of which was punctuated by a weathered copper statue of a heroic young man standing in cloak and armor, one foot placed on top of a formless liquid shape cast in metal that seemed to melt into the black waters of the fountain it adorned. The green of the copper was partly blackened by ash, and the waters almost looked like ink, pooling around the statue as if it were a live, shifting extension of the monster the hero was fighting.


[ Lord Ruler Vanquishing the Deepness ], read the descriptive steel plaque.


It was a nicely crafted piece of art, Stan concluded. If only they took better care of it, and if only this world wasn't dirtied by injustice. The crossroads plaza itself was littered with beggars taking advantage of the high traffic, and Stan didn't think he saw a single one without some sort of handicap or disfigurement. He scrunched his nose, but this time not because of any unpleasant scents.  He had been in many run-down places and a couple slave colonies. The surroundings here were beginning to unsettle parts of his mind, digging up uncomfortable memories. He wanted to throw some coins, but he had no currency.


He noted the people milling about, coming in and out from doors that lined the streets, some of which showed off wares and others through which he could see artisans like carpenters and tailors hard at work trying to make an honest living. That life was a cut above the slaves, but a precarious line to toe if you ended up getting too wealthy. He also noted that most of the people with the freedom to travel were at least somewhat well dressed but not excessively so -- high ranked servants or low-ranking nobility, presumably.


He caught Badu looking into the dark waters of the fountain, completely unfazed by the beggars trying to clamor for her attention. She saw sparkling appeared and vanished at intervals, as if it were swimming. That was curious. "There is something in the water," she stated. "Some glittering particles swirling within the darkness."


Stan glanced down to his tracker again. Now that he was halfway through the plaza, he saw that his phone's tracking arrow had completely changed direction. He turned slightly to adjust his orientation. It pointed straight towards one of the open shops on the street. "I'm one hundred percent sure that sparkling water isn't normal in this universe," he replied. "Be on guard. I think we're close."


((Leaving it open for people to examine either the shop or the water. Or Arch to get harassed. Or other stuff.))



@ Lara


The pitched wooden roof creaks and bends slightly from a new weight. She is no longer alone.


A lithe human form slipped through the cracks of the building and climbed onto the roof while she was distracted by her odd contraption. He is completely at ease, as if he walked the rooftops every day or at least frequent enough, navigating them with the balance and grace of a dancer.


"What are you doing up here in the middle of the day, good-lookin?" The man -- no, the boy, for it still looks like he had one or two years until adulthood -- looks her over from head to toe, lingering for a touch too long on her bare thighs. His face is sharp and square-jawed, framed by dust brown curls that cover his ears. His skin is tan and his eyebrows are heavy, but none of his features stands out particularly; underneath his cloak is but a simple linen shirt and tan trousers marred with enough soot to signal that he was no noble, just a vagrant.


He finds it curious that this rooftop girl was wearing even less than certain slave-girls. He gives her a smug look with both eyebrows raised, expecting her to humor him.


Edited by TehUltimateMage

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