The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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  1. - Top - End - #811
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    Default Re: Trog's Tavern CLIII

    "I... was, yes." Calm Reed tenses up, but it's barely perceptible. "I was a scion of House Peleps before taking the vows. But it's hardly the same... it's a different way of performing the duty of a Dragon-Blooded."
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  2. - Top - End - #812
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    "Then you remember what happened when you exalted. Your teachers took you aside from the class, introduced you to the special teachers specifically for Exalted students. Your circle of friends evaporated, and the only people you could make friends with after that were either fawning sycophants or other exalts," Halae shakes her head with a sigh, and then motions out the window, "Look around us. Nobody is treating us any different than any other human. I hate being the center of attention, of being on a pedestal. Under scrutiny. It's why I originally went to the threshold rather than sticking around in The Realm. I can't stand having everything handed to me, and for all that I'm an exalt, I have a simple soul - I just want good food, friends, and to help a few people."
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  3. - Top - End - #813
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    Default Re: Trog's Tavern CLIII

    Calm Reed's neutral expression becomes a few degrees less neutral as Halae speaks. The air seems to grow colder between the women, as though one of them was an Air Aspect.

    "That's... a naive wish." She looks like she wanted to use a stronger word. "We are not like other people. We are chosen by the Dragons, given great power and great duty. It's only natural for us to stand apart from that moment onwards. We accept that role as mortals accept theirs."
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  4. - Top - End - #814
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    "In Creation, sure! But you've seen what happens around here. There's mortals - baseline, unaugmented mortals - that can keep up with us! They're rare, certainly, but they exist!" Halae is starting to get angry, and while she's keeping her face calm, she doesn't school her voice so well.
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  5. - Top - End - #815
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    Default Re: Trog's Tavern CLIII

    Calm Reed is silent for a long moment.

    "Yes, I have met such people. One of the commanders of Vigil... he's a mortal peasant, proudly so. But he fights like a Forsaken Solar Anathema and I doubt I would be able to best him. I admit it's not easy to pick the right path in this strange land. But the Dragons still expect us to try our hardest."
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  6. - Top - End - #816
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    "You really intend to press the issue, don't you?" Halae says, "After everything I just said, you still think I should stand up to some lofty ideal. It's not going to work."
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  7. - Top - End - #817
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    "It sounds like you're both talking around in circles," Zee observes from her position Over Yonder behind the bar, as she finishes up an order of fried fresh water shrimp for a platypus sitting on a bar stool.

    Not like...

    A person shaped platypus or anything.

    Just a normal sized platypus.

    "Your duty requires you to walk a lonely road, but Halae has rejected that path. Even before she came here, she craved the fellowship she had before she exalted. You want to uphold it, though, Calm Reed. In spite of the society that duty was built around not existing here. How does that even work? You're not sure, but you're still going to try. Because you feel you must, for that's the Correct thing to do. Both of your are Determined in your course. That's admirable, I think. To feel and will so strongly. You've both been given that divine will. A divine will with the strength needed to apply it. And you're both expressing it differently."

    She tilts her head to the side a bit, regarding the two beyond-mortal women curiously.

    "How would you have Halae amend her ways, Calm Reed? What course could she take here in this land beyond Creation that would appease the Dragons?"
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  8. - Top - End - #818
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    Default Re: Trog's Tavern CLIII

    Calm Reed turns to look at Zee briefly. She doesn't appreciate an outsider trying to intercede between Dragon-Blooded, but she'll accept it for now.

    "Halae isn't alone and neither am I. We're of the Ten Thousand Dragons and that's a fellowship like no other. It may be difficult to follow here, but as a Dynast, she should try to be a leader and an example to the masses, rather than live as a common mercenary. But, perhaps, taking charge is more difficult here, with so many people who can match or outpace us in power."
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  9. - Top - End - #819
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    "Give me a reason why I should," Halae challenges the monk, emboldened by Zee's words, "A solid, practical reason why I should be a leader when I don't want to be."
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  10. - Top - End - #820
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    Default Re: Trog's Tavern CLIII

    Zee doesn't add anything further, she's just listening now.

    Halae seemed to have liked what she had to say.

    Calm Reed... not so much.

    But she isn't sure if she said something that offended Calm Reed, or if the mere act of speaking up is what bothered the monk. Was it considered improper for a non-dragon blooded to speak to their situation? She really isn't sure exactly what that societiy's taboos are, to be honest. Most of the people she encountered from Creation didn't go out of their way to give her a primer on social moors. So... she more or less has to play things by ear.

    Which, frankly, is how interacting with anyone who gets plopped into the Nexus goes.

    What will offend?

    Who knows!

    Just do your best and hope for the same.

    Just like she's hoping that these two newcomers might be able to reconcile their differences.
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  11. - Top - End - #821
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    A pretty normal woman (appearance-wise) walks into the tavern. Adventurer. Recently started, so not wearing anything fancy, and isn't really all magic-glowy like a christmas tree. See, she just got off a dungeon raid with her party: Bob the cleric, Mephistopheles the wizard, Gregson077 the fightingman, and Madisyn the spoony bard. Oh, yeah, and she was the ranger.

    After ordering a celebratory drink, she starts to go through all the loot she got to divide it into "sell", "save", "use", and "pawn off".

    Huh.

    That's interesting.

    There's a mask. Full-face mask. Pretty plain, to be honest. White. Even stranger, no space for eyes in the mask.

    She doesn't remember choosing it out of the loot when they were dividing it.
    But...
    They were all checked for magic, and nothing came up cursed so it should be fine. Maybe one of her teammates just dropped it in the wrong pile. Oh well. If they aren't careful enough to keep their own loot separate, that's their problem.

    She feels like she needs to put on that mask. Her eyes are drawn to it every so often. When she's not drinking, her hands find themselves reaching towards it. Eventually, the next time she's distracted, she discovers that she just put it on her face.

    She silently doubles over in pain. Her head hurts. It...it-it hurts.
    Her ears seem to vanish and are replaced by a pair of fox's ears. A fox's tail slips its way out of her trousers.

    The pain's gone, and the woman sits upright again. She looks around, taking in her surroundings and what's on the table in front of her. (Wait, how can she, wearing a mask like that?) She feels her thighs and hips and arms, then looks backwards at her swishing tail. Yup, everything's all connected...and, wow, this is a nice body. She likes it.

    She begins sorting through the things on the table in front of her: the things from the dungeon that Bob, Mephistopheles, Gregson077, Madisyn, and...this woman went through.
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  12. - Top - End - #822
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    Default Re: Trog's Tavern CLIII

    Quote Originally Posted by Halae View Post
    "Give me a reason why I should," Halae challenges the monk, emboldened by Zee's words, "A solid, practical reason why I should be a leader when I don't want to be."
    Calm Reed leans back and closes her eyes.

    "This land is filled with powerful people. Some mightier than we are. But not all of them work for the good of all. Many are villains. Disaster seems to strike with some regularity. Power isn't enough. It needs to be power wielded and acquired righteously, and none are more righteous than the Dragon-Blooded. If a calamity ravages the Nexus and you stood by as you lived a leisurely life of a mercenary, aren't you responsible?"
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  13. - Top - End - #823
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    Halae is quiet for a long moment, turning that over in her head. She clearly doesn't like Calm Reed, but she was raised in The Scarlet Realm; you respect monks, whether or not you enjoy their company, and you at least give what they say its due.

    The fire aspect reaches down and takes a long swig of her drink before slamming the mug back down, "Fine. Exactly how would you have me do this, then? I presume starting with one of the local organizations?"
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  14. - Top - End - #824
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    Default Re: Trog's Tavern CLIII

    "It... could," Calm Reed says, closing her eyes and thinking about it deeply. "I've joined Vigil. But I'm a monk, so it's my duty to serve. Still, even a Prince of the Earth can only do so much on her own, so it may be appropriate. There's also the police forces of the various cities. You'd rise through the ranks quickly, but be restricted to one territory."
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  15. - Top - End - #825
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    Default Re: Trog's Tavern CLIII

    Halae nods, "I'm not joining a formal police force," she says, standing up out of her chair, "Let's go to Vigil. You're already working there; may as well see if I can stand it."

    Halae isn't being polite about this; she's been forced into this position, and sees no reason to be remotely pleasant about it. At least she's taking this seriously.
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  16. - Top - End - #826
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    Default Re: Trog's Tavern CLIII

    "To Vigil, then." Calm Reed gets up as well. "They are an... interesting group. Their leaders are a warrior, who I mentioned fights like a Solar Anathema, and a sorceress who is very much like one of us. Beyond that, it's a motley assortment, really..." she goes on to say as they pay and leave.
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  17. - Top - End - #827
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    Default Re: Trog's Tavern CLIII

    Zee waves to the pair of dragonblooded as they depart.

    "Good luck!"

    And then?

    She heads over to the masked woman who has recently acquired new ears and a tail.

    "Excuse me, miss?" the barmaid says, as politely but firmly as she can manage. "It's against the rules to possess people in Trog's. I'm going to have to ask you to stop inhabiting that woman's body."

    That isn't an unreasonable request, is it?

    No crushing a person's will and hijacking their physical form.

    Even if you used some less than polite means to plant compulsions in their mind so that they would 'willingly' put your mask on.
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  18. - Top - End - #828
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    Default Re: Trog's Tavern CLIII

    Fun fact: this is my second character to have possessed someone in Trog's.

    The masked woman blinks as she considers the request.

    ...
    Well, as close to blinking as someone with only a mask with no visible eye-holes can do. "I'm not really possessing her," she says, in response. "And I can prove it's my own body. Look."

    She grabs one of the knives that was in the loot pile, and then stabs her own palm. "See? It hurts. If I were possessing her, then it wouldn't have hurt me, only her." She doesn't make any appearance of flinching or wincing in pain, however.

    Leaving the knife in her hand, the fox-tailed woman goes back to sorting through all the junk on the table. Keep, keep, useless, whatever, keep... "Besides, it's not like I ate her soul or anything serious like that: she'll eventually reincarnate or whatever it is you guys do here."
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  19. - Top - End - #829
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    Default Re: Trog's Tavern CLIII

    Zee gives the fox-eared (and tailed) entity a skeptical, scrunchy-lipped look.

    She isn't buying it!

    "Okay, one, sharing pain doesn't prove anything. Two, you aren't showing any signs of experiencing pain. And three, I watched you hijack her body," the barmaid points out. "And whether you ate who soul or anything else is immaterial. Body snatching is rude. And also illegal."

    Zee is, like, ninety percent sure that using Soul Jar (or equivalent) on people isn't allowed in Inside.

    Not that Trog's is technically Inside.

    But it's still on the list of things patrons shouldn't do to other patrons in Trog's.

    Like stabbing people!

    You aren't supposed to stab other people's bodies, either. Which is another thing the mask-lady just did.

    "So I'm going to have to ask you to leave Trog's without taking anyone else's possessions with you. That includes the body."

    Uh oh.

    Zee is doing the bouncer thing.

    Fox-mask-lady is getting bounced.
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  20. - Top - End - #830
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    Default Re: Trog's Tavern CLIII

    See, this is why fox-mask-lady Cearta prefers dealing with cursed dragons, angry pirates, and wild animals: they're so much more reasonable than barmaids. She'd bet that a lion wouldn't kick her out of a tavern.

    "Fine," she says, standing up and leaving all the junk on the table. "See if I leave you a good rating," the masked fox-lady says in a huff.

    She turns around "Maybe I should just start eating people, that'll show you," she mutters as she makes her way around tables and other patrons, towards the door...

    ...with the body. She still has it.
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  21. - Top - End - #831
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    Default Re: Trog's Tavern CLIII

    When you're a barmaid in a tavern as crazy as Trog's, you had better be used to dealing with some crazy stuff.

    Like weird fox-mask people who take over other people's bodies.

    That's pretty weird.

    And in this case, rude.

    Rude fox-mask people.

    Because they're ignoring that pretty clear request to leave all stolen goods behind. Like that poor lady's body. And since they're being a rude fox-mask person and ignoring totally reasonable requests, that means Zee is going to have to resort to something other than reason.

    In this case?

    She'll aim to plant the palm of her hand right in the middle of that eyeless face whilst uttering a single word.

    "אֲמִתָה"

    And in speaking it, her hand flares with the Searing Light of Truth. Things that can't, don't, or shouldn't exist tend to find this rather unpleasant as they evaporate like dew in the presence of the morning sun. And Zee has the sneaking suspicion that the entity using the mask as a conduit likely falls into one of those categories.

    Frankly, it wouldn't be fun for mortals, either. But probably better than having your body stolen.
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  22. - Top - End - #832
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    Default Re: Trog's Tavern CLIII

    The mask, as something that ought not exist, and the connection to the mask, as something that doesn't exist, start to evaporate in the Searing Light of Truth. As the mask disappears, the voice comes out one last time: "Ha, this takes me ba-" but then it's gone.

    Gone, as if it hadn't been there in the first place.
    ...
    Well, that's not quite true. The mask is gone, as is the entity. But the fox-ears and the tail are still there. There's a few other things missing, however, but the most notable is the woman's face. In its place is a reflective surface, like a mirror. Exactly like a mirror, in fact. However, the reflections seem a bit...off. Instead of reflecting the world in real-time, everything is delayed by half a second...and there's an extra woman in the reflection. Oh, yeah, and I guess every nonliving thing in the reflection looks decayed, but that's kinda minor.

    ...Hey, coincidence! The woman in the reflection looks just like the ranger-woman who put on the mask! Except, she also looks a little panicked as she's trying to interact with the other reflections in the tavern - but, because she's half a second behind the things causing the reflections, they obviously don't respond because their actions were already determined half a second earlier.

    ...
    Hm.
    That's too bad.
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  23. - Top - End - #833
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    Hmm.

    Now the body is just standing there, looking weird. Reflective mirrors for faces, in addition to fox ears and tails, look really wonky on otherwise normal people. That's Zee's take on the situation, anyway.

    She flicks the hand she had grabbed the mask with a few times, causing the incandescent glow to quickly subside. That's helpful, since she would rather not cook anything else (that isn't bamhacon) today. If she can avoid it, at least. Then? She moves a bit closer to examine the poor victim. Leans in close.

    Closer.

    Rubs her chin contemplatively.

    "This is the worst case of mirror-face I've ever seen," she eventually declares.

    Given that this is the only case of mirror-face she's ever seen that isn't saying much.

    But hey!

    Everyone starts somewhere.

    Hmm... Soul stuff. Maybe? Or at least abject nonsense stuff. Anything involving fae probably counts as abject nonsense stuff. People don't get stuck in mirrors. That's dumb and impossible but somehow faeries manage to pull it off because they're terrible like that.

    Zee will reach out and try to tap on the mirror.

    ...face.

    The face mirror.

    "Can you hear me in there?" she asks. She also does a quick biology rundown of the cursed ranger to see if there are any real physiological or neurological problems with her. Sometimes faerie nonsense piggy-backs on actual problems that she can potentially fix. But sometimes not.
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  24. - Top - End - #834
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    Default Re: Trog's Tavern CLIII

    Well, the first obvious problem is that her face is a mirror.

    And not even a good mirror. Have you ever tried to put on make-up using a mirror that only reflects your image a half-second *after* you do something? Actually, I think very few people have, but it sounds difficult.

    Second, it seems like her liver's missing. Feel free to do as many exploratory surgeries as you'd like, but you'll still be unable to find a liver.
    Strange.

    Her brain also has abnormally high levels of adrenaline and cortisol, leading to elevated heart-rate and blood pressure, among other things, and if they remain high for long periods of time could lead to her developing various mental disorders such as depression, PTSD, burnout, vivid memories, and sleep disorders...it's probably not as serious as having a mirror-for-face, however. Plus, why would a mask-fox-thing want to give somebody PTSD?

    Plus, there's a hole in her hand where a knife briefly resided.

    ...anyway.
    It works! She can hear the tapping. Or, alternatively, she heard Zee's reflection tapping on the mirror and saying something. Inside the mirror-face's altered reflection of the world, she heads towards Zee and the mirror. She obviously can't make any sound but that dosn't stop her from talking. Anyone who can read lips might be able to understand her. The ranger looks out through the mirror at the real Zee, then over at Zee's reflection, looking pretty confused. "Hi," she says to Zee's reflection, "What's going on? How are you doing that? Do you know what happened?"
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  25. - Top - End - #835
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    Default Re: Trog's Tavern CLIII

    It's a perfectly serviceable mirror if you want to look at a past where non-living objects are all decayed.

    But Zee isn't really interested in looking at those things. Chances are, the trapped ranger isn't either.

    Alright!

    So.

    Missing liver (explains the fox-stuff maybe?) missing face, and rearranged anatomy to make the new tail and ears possible. Those are real problems she can (probably) do something about. But she isn't sure if messing with the mirror will damage the woman's soul. Because Zee has no idea what weird things will make stuff happen to souls. They don't follow any sensible rules that she's aware of. Which is a giant pain.

    Though... the woman's perceptions appear to be trapped in the past. Kind of? That's a time thing. And Zee doesn't really deal in time things. That isn't one of her spheres of influence. Maybe pay an ophanim to help? They would, almost without question, make fun of her for trading something with actual value for helping a mortal she doesn't even know. Or maybe find one of the gods roaming around the Nexus who messes with souls?

    Ugh.

    What a pain.

    Well, for now at least Zee will take the woman's injured hand in her own and fix that. Mending a knife injury is easy. Just encourage the damaged mean to stitch itself back together properly. It would do that on its own, after all, it just needs some encouragement to do it faster.

    "Oh! You can hear me. Great," Zee replies brightly. "You put on a weird mask and a faerie hijacked your body. I gave it the boot, but it did some things to you that I don't know how to fix."

    By 'gave it the boot' Zee means 'vaporized the jerk'.

    Technically it wasn't totally selfless.

    Fragging fae can give her access to Icons. Nothing level-up worthy, but little bits add up!

    "It turned your face into a mirror? For some reason. And you're trapped inside. I'm trying puzzle through a way to get you out."
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  26. - Top - End - #836
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    Default Re: Trog's Tavern CLIII

    Oh, you're right, the mirror does sound pretty useful if you use it right. Hold the face up to a wooden door or wall or chest you want to see through, and then since decayed wood frequently falls apart, you'd be able to safely see through it. Every adventuring party ought to have a mirror just like this.

    And, just like that, the once-stabbed hand is whole again.

    The ranger, based on the observation that from her perspective the Zee next to her is looking at a floating mirror while the one inside the mirror is looking at her as if the mirror were a window or something, figures out that maybe the the one looking at her is the real one.

    Looking out the mirror at Zee, she mouths: "Really? I remember there being a mask, yes." This...is something she's never experienced before. However, as an adventurer, she's been in some pretty weird situations before so she is no longer panicking.

    Upon being told that her face is a mirror, she brings her hands up towards her own head to feel her face. ...Nope, still feels like a face...oh, wait! She must mean her face out in the real world where the barmaid is...or something like that. She can't really see everything that's going on but that might make sense. "So that floating mirror is my face or something?" she asks, for clarification.

    ...She reaches out to touch the mirror, so that nearly all the reflection is covered by her hand. She pulls away her hand, but some skin oils and fingerprints are left behind in the reflection. Kinda like what happens when you touch an actual mirror.

    "Is there, like, some sort of ransom note or puzzle left behind?" she asks, hopeful. There's not: well, not literally. How do I get a soul out of a time-delayed mirror can be called a puzzle of sorts. "And is my...body(?) alright?" That's a weird thing to ask, so she's a little uncertain about asking it but figures she might as well.

    ...
    Hm.
    Hopefully somebody who can help feels like visiting the tavern for a drink. That would be a great coincidence.
    Favorite sports:
    Fencing
    Football (Soccer)
    Figure Skating
    (and basically everything else that starts with 'f')
    ALSO! Come roleplay FFRPG in the Nexus!
    Nexus Characters.

  27. - Top - End - #837
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Deathkeeper's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Definitely lost
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Trog's Tavern CLIII

    Well someone who comes for a drink right now is a little furry, canine imp. Well, really he's here to put up posters on the board for the Third Circle book club, and the jazz band his brother Exar is in.
    But...
    Taim keeps telling him to lighten up. Maybe he should try one of those alcohol things he's always going on about? The imp sits down at the bar with his oversized tome, trying to flag down Zee.
    Spako Highclaws by Ceika.

    [Sorry Boss, but as always, I get the last word.]

  28. - Top - End - #838
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Rebonack's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    The King's Grave

    Default Re: Trog's Tavern CLIII

    The Nexus DOES like serendipity, so someone coming in who just happens to be able to do something about souls being sealed in mirrors that have replaced someone's face wouldn't be unheard of.

    You can't always count on that, though.

    Sometimes you have to see problems through yourself! Or actively look for someone who can solve problems.

    Regardless, Zee frowns a bit when the inside of the mirror (window?) gets smudged. At least the woman still has finger oils and other normal things? Ghosts usually don't leave smudges on mirrors when they do ghostly nonsense things.

    "In the future, you should avoid putting on mysterious masks that suddenly come into your possession," Zee points out helpfully.

    Assuming there will be a future.

    "The floating mirror is your face," Zee confirms. "Aside from the mirror face and a missing liver? The faerie gave you the tail and ears of a fox. For some reason."

    Faeries are weird.

    "No notes, no puzzles, just a mess of nonsense. Your body is locked into sleep paralysis. I'm going to try to freeing up your arm out here, okay?" Zee says as she does exactly that. "Alright, try moving your fingers. I don't know if I can get you out of that mirror thing, but I may be able to at least give you external control back."

    And then an imp begins waving at Zee!

    She gives him an apologetic smile.

    "I'm sorry, one of our patrons was injured and or cursed by a faerie. Was there something I can have the servers get for you?"
    Warning! Random Encounter™ detected!
    The Eternal Game Nightmære Stuff
    It doesn't matter whether you win or lose, just how awesome you look doing it.

  29. - Top - End - #839
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    5a Violista's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Next to the Mandolinist

    Default Re: Trog's Tavern CLIII

    Oh, right! If the ranger leaves smudges all over the mirror and lets it get dirty, how will she be able to see out of it? She tries to clean it off with some of her sleeve.

    Once her arm and sleeve is out of the way, she responds through the mirror by nodding and saying "If my face stops being a mirror, I'll definitely avoid touching any kind of mask." If it remains a mirror, then a mask wouldn't fit anyway so she'll be fine either way.

    "That is rather weird. Why would a mask take my liver?"
    After Zee does her thing, she tries moving her fingers.
    Her fingers in the reflection move, but not her actual fingers.
    Then, she says, "Wait, I can feel something different? Like I have two arms, or something like that." Well, two arms on the same arm.
    She tries moving her fingers, again.
    Her hand in real life moves. "Did it work? It felt like it did, but maybe I'm just imagining it."
    Favorite sports:
    Fencing
    Football (Soccer)
    Figure Skating
    (and basically everything else that starts with 'f')
    ALSO! Come roleplay FFRPG in the Nexus!
    Nexus Characters.

  30. - Top - End - #840
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Deathkeeper's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Definitely lost
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Trog's Tavern CLIII

    ”Oh, faeries are just the WORST! Almost as bad as the undead in my master’s homelands. Who do they think they are, not taking a side? What did they do? Steal their sense of direction? Make someone a donkey? They always love those ridiculous pranks.” rambles the book imp, almost losing his glasses in the process of gesticulating with his head and arm.
    Spako Highclaws by Ceika.

    [Sorry Boss, but as always, I get the last word.]

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