The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    Adila!

    Not opening your mouth was a good idea! Because whatever was in those arrows gets all over you when they explode right above you. It gets on your wings and your snout and starts hardening rapidly on contact with the air. Which, spoiler, makes it hard to keep aloft.

    You come crashing down into a bed-and-breakfast and wipe out the front dining room. Luckily(?) the owners are currently at the docks loading up the last of their biscuits onto a Rider ship, so nobody’s hurt.

    You can try to Overcome the goop all over you somehow, or else you’ll lose your flight for now. Even if you get it off, you’ll need to make a second approach to help out Kazelia or Alina, and Eska Glinteye still has plenty of tricks up her sleeve.

    ***
    It's in my nose! It's in my nose!

    Princess Adila does not otherwise notice the sticky effects of the goo - she rips through it so easily it doesn't even register that it was meant to stop her. She scratches rapidly at it, getting the gunk all over her claws but not pulling it away quickly enough -

    The sneeze comes. A pillar of fire lights up the sky. Luckily she has been disciplined from birth to always sneeze directly up.

    Unnnh... so weird. So gross. What was that? Princess Adila had been hit with two awful arrows now and she had no desire to get a third. She couldn't see the other Princesses and assumed they were keeping the Riders busy, so she slunk over towards the harbour to go ahead with her plan to steal the boat before anyone noticed.

    [Overcome the goop: 12]
    If the sun won't rise on our horizon
    We'll march on to spite the skies.

  2. - Top - End - #32
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    “Hey, Kazelia.” Oh, boy. Here it comes. The gloating. “Long time no see. You gonna be a good girl and drop that lance, or am I going to have to drop you first?”
    Kazelia's eyes darken and begin to bleed shadow from their corners. She would show her stupid gloating sister! she'd crush her! she would...her mind flashes to the forest, her thoughts running like her sister Azora, her hands changing before her eyes. She was not her sister, she was NOT her father. The shadows fade and she drops her lance, letting it fall to the city below. In the interest of not murdering a random cat, she concentrates and an icy hand reaches out from the roof below and catches it, letting it nestle in place.

    Then she turns to her sister and tries to give her the most friendly smile she can given the sharp teeth they share. It looks sort of like a grimace, but it's not something Eska would see normally. "Okay, there, no lance. Care to pull me up now, sister? Maybe we can talk instead of trying to murder each other? What are you doing in Askaia city, and with Kaja anyway?"
    Last edited by Anarion; 2019-06-05 at 12:09 PM.
    School Fox by Atlur

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    Anarion's right on the money here.
    Quotes

    "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
    Oscar Wilde Writer & Poet (1891)

  3. - Top - End - #33
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Alina's mouth falls open. She stomps her foot in indignation and scrunches her face into the world's most graceful pout. Somewhere in the middle of this she also tries to catch Rita's eye from the shadows.

    "A hint? You need a hint? How's this for a hint?" And she jabs a finger up at her crown expectantly. It pulses in violet light and she shakes her head, "No? Nothing? Argh!"

    She flips her hair and puts her hands firmly on her hips while she stands there literally sparkling in the streets. This is it. This is what she's got right now. Rita, please act accordingly.

    "I can't believe this! Oh sure, you'll rob Askaia blind, but when I show up it's 'who are you?' I thought our relationship meant something to you! I am the Princess of Illumina! I am Alina Cascade! They fought a war over me once, do you know that? I've never been so insulted in all of my life! You set that kitten and those treasures down right now, young lady, and you kidnap me this instant or so help me I will never be your friend again!"

    [I have no idea what I'm triggering, but it seems a bit Talk Sense? If it is, it's an 8]

  4. - Top - End - #34
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Askaia City, the Kingdom of Askaia

    Kazelia

    There is a fountain of flame that rockets up into the night, turning snow to frigid rain. Eska is quiet for a moment, then mutters, “Need the Axonia samples for the next batch.”

    Then she turns her attention to you. “I figured it out,” she says. Just like her to meander around the point for a while. And also to not pull you up onto the ledge. “Why you left. Kaja’s heartbroken, you know. Thinks it’s personal. Oh, boo hoo, Eska, was it something I said? Like, does she hate me now? But I know better.”

    “This is all because Dad put Azora in charge instead of you.” Wow. Classic Eska. “Face it, Kazzy, she’s better than you. And older. But better’s more important.” She grins, and swings you a little from side to side. “But you really are useful, sometimes. So tell you what. You let me and Kaja bring you home, we’ll tell Dad that you were on a spying mission we thought up, and you’ll owe me. How’s that sound?”

    The terrible thing is that this is Eska at her most intimate. Sure, she’s couching it in benefit to her, and she intends to milk that favor for all it’s worth, but she does want you back. Missing you is distracting and uncomfortable for weird reasons and if you make this sappy she will drop you.

    ***

    Alina!

    “Yeah,” Kaja says, “like I said, tip of my tongue. How could I forget Alina Cascade? Everybody knows about you and- oh, right, you’re the princess who dumped water on Dad’s head. Like, who even does that?”

    Timon the Rider takes your wrists and cuffs them behind your back while Kaja attends to a much more important and heartfelt matter. She gets down on one knee, and holds Natasha up.

    “Sootball,” she says, “the days we spent together have been some of the best days of my life. But you’re really squirmy, and I can’t kidnap Princess Alina Cascade and be sure I’m not going to drop you. But I promise I’m going to come back for you, okay? You’ll love it in Ilumina, it’s all nice and crisp and we really cut down on the noise pollution from all that running water. I want you to love it, so you’d better start practicing right now, you understand?” She... well, drops Natasha, who manages to land on her feet and zooms off towards a bright red feather just visible behind Kaja.

    “Okay!” Kaja picks you up with one hand and hoists you up over her shoulder like you weigh absolutely nothing. Said shoulder is clad in cold black armor and absolutely knocks the wind out of you when she slams you onto it. “You know, I really like how you princesses do things here. This is much more personally fulfilling than tearing you limb from limb. Plus we’ll get to talk on the way back- well, I mean, I’ll get to talk, at you, and you can nod your head when I say something interesting, which is like, all the time, you know? And then, oooh, yikes, Dad’s probably going to want to put you up in the north garden over Cassian’s frost flowers to keep the birds away, but maybe you’ll get lucky and he’ll just make you the court jester or- ooooh, Timon, do you think if we hit Jedad next we can get her dancing lessons? Then he’d have to keep her around and not frozen!”

    Behind you, Rita darts from shadow to shadow, grimly determined. She signals that she’s waiting on a signal from you. That’s... probably what that hand signal means, anyway. It’s either that or “you look like a sack of impossibly graceful potatoes right now.”

    It’s also worth noting that by the ancient laws of Princessdom, you now owe Kaja Ironpelt a favor in kind. It’s inconvenient, but noblesse oblige.

    ***

    Adila!

    So, here’s the thing. There are enough Rider sailors over here (you know they’re sailors because they have those white bandanas over their white hair and have interesting black tattoos all over their bared arms) looking over the final preparations that anything you do to bring the ships up will alert the Rider Princesses. I mean, that I can think of. Maybe you have a plan that won’t be really loud and obvious.

    Such as, say, getting in the water. Now that I think about it, if you got in the (frigid, ice-shoal-choked, probably shark-infested) water, you would be in a perfect position to stop them from leaving, and you wouldn’t alert the Riders to your presence.

    I don’t think these ships have anchors, per se, but there’s probably something neat you can do down there while you’re at it. Maybe even shoving them up onto the shore from below.
    freedom in the flame

    Spoiler
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

  5. - Top - End - #35
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    Adila!

    So, here’s the thing. There are enough Rider sailors over here (you know they’re sailors because they have those white bandanas over their white hair and have interesting black tattoos all over their bared arms) looking over the final preparations that anything you do to bring the ships up will alert the Rider Princesses. I mean, that I can think of. Maybe you have a plan that won’t be really loud and obvious.

    Such as, say, getting in the water. Now that I think about it, if you got in the (frigid, ice-shoal-choked, probably shark-infested) water, you would be in a perfect position to stop them from leaving, and you wouldn’t alert the Riders to your presence.

    I don’t think these ships have anchors, per se, but there’s probably something neat you can do down there while you’re at it. Maybe even shoving them up onto the shore from below.
    The water had always been the plan.

    She'd actually really enjoyed Harbour Patrol, until they had to take her off it due to the accidents mounting up. Swimming silently and stealthily through the oceans, thinking ominous music at the people on board, until she burst up from the waters lifting an entire ship above her head? And then carrying them to a customs post where their smuggled cargo was impounded? It was the stealthiest she ever got to be, and she'd always loved the cool water against her scales.

    She even liked the sharks. They were so cute when she spooked them.

    So. The plan. She'd wait for the strong Rider to come aboard and then take the entire ship at a gallop away from the city. That'd let her ditch the archery Rider so she could focus on her target properly. She could then use the boat itself as leverage to get something - the strong Rider needed it to get home so she wouldn't want to risk damaging it by getting into a fight while she was holding it. Then, something. Arrange a duel? She'd figure it out.
    Last edited by Thanqol; 2019-06-05 at 07:43 PM.
    If the sun won't rise on our horizon
    We'll march on to spite the skies.

  6. - Top - End - #36
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    This was tough. Play it too hard and Eska would drop her or fly off. Play it too nice and she'd think something was up and also drop her.

    "Wow, Eska, you are not playing the long game here at all." Kazelia's voice drips with derision, most of it entirely sincere. "Azora's just Father's little pet dog. And I mean one of those little toy dogs that the princesses in Rowan have, not like Morgina."

    Kazelia swings herself around a little so she can look up at her sister. "Listen, Eska, why are you here, really? You're carting around Axonian ingredients, but you're not there doing experiments. You're creating legends of the 'terrifying ghost army' among the locals and shooting random cats full of arrows on Kaja's behalf? Do you really want to be running errands for Father and Azora all your life while you let them hurl you around the kingdoms wherever they think they need you, or would you rather be doing something else?"

    Then Kazelia just hangs there, letting her words sink in and waiting for Eska to answer.

    [Snake eyes. That's a 3 on speak softly. My questions are "What can she tell me about Azora's plans" "What was she doing and what will she do next" and "what does she want and how could we help her get it?" One answer will be false.]
    Last edited by Anarion; 2019-06-05 at 07:46 PM.
    School Fox by Atlur

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    Anarion's right on the money here.
    Quotes

    "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
    Oscar Wilde Writer & Poet (1891)

  7. - Top - End - #37
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    "For the last time," stomps Alina as she's handcuffed, knowing very well it would not be for the last time, "I did it to be polite! He looked sad so I shared my kingdom's blessings with him! What do they do where you're from, stab people in the whooaaa~"

    There aren't a great many experts on the topic, but they all agree that Alina's frightened squeal and the subsequent 'oof' of air leaving her body as her stomach met Kaja's shoulder was the most melodic example of this combination of sounds in recorded Hyperborean history. Sometimes it's difficult being so pretty. You know what would make it easier? If she were properly strong, like her companions. Or like she used to be, for that matter. But all things considered for where she's at right now, things are going really -- huff! -- well! If she could just --urk!-- get a signal to Rita then things would be --gah!-- perfect.

    Her lights pulse Green, Blue, Violet on a loop, which if you'll recall are the three colors she shared with her fellow princesses while everyone was stuck in that dratted Askaian incense mist. More time to talk, maybe a heart's desire or two, that's what Alina needs right now.

    "You know, I always liked you the best out of all your s-i-i-i-sters~," she starts while flailing on a bouncing shoulder with absolute grace. She squirms so that she's less draped over a shoulder and more curled around a neck. Her armor's all fitted pieces, it's more comfortable than you'd think. If this is supposed to keep her from being jostled, then good luck sister. But it's very, very flirty, even without the demure whispers in Kajas ears. With tickling breath that's warm and smells like a spring rain.

    "You have the best sense for which things are beautiful, and you're the --eep!-- gentlest with your treasures of all the Riders. Which is saying nothing about how pretty you've gotten. I could get used to this view, you know. You even understaaand Princess culture, which I bet your dad doesn't care for very much. But I think it's great! You'd make a wonder --aah!-- ful princess! I could help you do that, you know. It's within my power. I could help make you a proper Hyperborean Princess, and you'd have much more chances for --oof a second time!-- all that personal satisfaction stuff. You'd even get to keep the prizes you took. Prizes like me, for example. So there'd be no need to go to... did you say Jedad? Yes, in fact, no need to go there at all, and you could fill my ears with your --now you're doing it on purrrpoooosssse-- interesting thoughts and never need to worry that your father would make me into a statue!

    It sounds nice, doesn't it? It does, doesn't it? Why not stop a moment and tell me what wish is in the heart of Kaja Ironpelt."

    [gonna go ahead and take that 10+ on Speak Softly right now. My questions are "What should I be wary of when dealing with her?" and "What was she doing, and what is she going to do next?" and "What does she want, and how can I help her get it?"]
    Last edited by PhoeKun; 2019-06-05 at 11:04 PM.

  8. - Top - End - #38
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Askaia City, the Kingdom of Askaia

    Kazelia!

    “Oh, man.” Eska’s voice is dripping with schadenfreude. “I always forget how out of the loop you are. Azora is gambling everything on stealing the Djinn-Binding Ring from Jedad. And I know she’s going to fail, because I’ve got my own irons in the fire. So, uh, yeah. I think robbing these cats blind and showing how responsible and competent I am is going to be a good career move, actually. You can see it, right?”

    Her tone turns a little dreamy as she gazes off into the distance. “Once I’m in charge, I’ll aim at the very heart of this world. You and Azora can keep your magic; I’ll outbuild you and outthink you every time. Impregnable, huh? You haven’t met Eska Glinteye yet.”

    Impregnable, huh? You’ve heard the other princesses make reference to Hobling Keep, the heart of goblinkind in Hyperborea. Of course Eska would be interested in that place.

    “I could always work around not having you available,” she adds, “but I’d much prefer to use Plan A. So, again, what’s it going to be? Come back with me and Kaja, or see if you can sprout wings like Shiva on your way down? Because I’ve got things to do, people to see, and-“ She stops herself, and then chuckles. “Well. I can tell you all about what I plan to do with the dragon and the crybaby after it’s done. No sense spoiling it beforehand.”

    Spoiler: Question Breakdown
    Show
    ”What is Azora doing?” = False.
    “What do you want, and how could I help you get it?” = True.
    “What do you plan to do right now?” = Not answered.


    ***

    Alina!

    Actually, when she gets into it, Kaja’s stroll is usually smooth as silk. Barely any jar or judder at all. Which means that, yes, she absolutely is doing this on purpose. It’s funny, listening to you grunt and squeak! Maybe she’ll gag and juggle you later just to elicit more of those.

    But those wonderful suggestions! She stops, and her blush is practically neon. “Well, I mean, I’m totally a Princess, right? I’ve got the looks, the fighting-ness, the royal castle all covered in ice... and yet everybody I meet is too scared to kiss properly and too wimpy to fight properly,” she says, radiating steam. “The next pretty princess I see, I’m going to kiss then throw to the moon!

    Oh. Yikes. Okay, that was hot but a really scary hot. You wanted to know what to be wary of? She’s larger than life, wildly passionate, and possesses a truly irresponsible amount of strength. She probably couldn’t throw you to the moon - she’s not a devil, after all - but she could probably yeet Adila over the clocktower with the right footing.

    (Maybe stay out of her line of sight for a little bit. She might be able to get you halfway up to the moon. Also Rider kisses steal your soul and turn you to ice.)

    Also, well... I mean, there’s one easy way to fulfill that kiss. Though see above re: Rider kisses.

    “But you’re right! I should keep more of my prizes. Maybe Dad doesn’t need to know that I caught you. You could be my handmaiden! Help me with girl troubles, braid my hair, buff out my armor, that sort of thing. In fact, Timon, forget we met her. Don’t say a thing to Eska. Alina Cascade is my new handmaiden, you got that? He can have the incense, the sword and mirror combo thing, the shrine decorations, and the queen of Askaia, but I think it’s only fair I get to have Alina, seeing as I found her first. And if he finds out about her I’ll have to give her to him, probably, and she’s my favorite now.”

    Note that she doesn’t even really consider going up against her dad. That’s so ridiculous that she doesn’t even need to form an argument against it! She’d have to hand you over because that’s just the way things are.

    “Princess Kaja!” That came from behind you, and good thing, too- the ships were in sight. “Your highness, Princess Eska managed to bring down the dragon! She wants you to go suplex the dragon and make sure it’s ready for transport!”

    “How did she know my heart’s desire,” Kaja breathes. Okay, so she has two heart’s desires: kiss a pretty princess who isn’t scared of her, suplex a dragon. (Incidentally, one might notice that the Rider calling this out is a little fuzzy around the edges, as if they were, in fact, Rita von Catabas wreathed in incense and thinking “I’m a Rider” very loudly indeed.)

    So now you are headed back into the city to find Princess Adila and suplex her. Ah, the merry life of a princess.

    ***

    Adila!

    So here’s the thing. This whole time, you’ve been dealing with the disorienting, nasty sensation of having a ghost arrow stuck in you. Everything is shades of black and orange, shaking and trembling, and it’s easy sometimes to forget that your body is attached to you.

    I say this because sliding into the sea is soothing. There aren’t all those buildings coming in and out of focus all around you, for example. It’s not enough to restore your Sense, but it’s refreshing.

    Then something breaches the water with a flood of air bubbles and movement, just beside one of the ships. And then it happens again. And again. It takes you only a moment to puzzle through what’s happening: the Riders at the docks, for whatever reason- they’re terrifying a cat in a cage by lowering them into the water repeatedly. Everyone knows cats don’t like water. It’s cruel, is what it is, terrifying a cat like that.

    That’s the sort of thing that makes the Riders worth fighting. What is your reaction, Adila?
    Last edited by Raz_Fox; 2019-06-06 at 02:29 AM.
    freedom in the flame

    Spoiler
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

  9. - Top - End - #39
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    “I could always work around not having you available,” she adds, “but I’d much prefer to use Plan A. So, again, what’s it going to be? Come back with me and Kaja, or see if you can sprout wings like Shiva on your way down? Because I’ve got things to do, people to see, and-“ She stops herself, and then chuckles. “Well. I can tell you all about what I plan to do with the dragon and the crybaby after it’s done. No sense spoiling it beforehand.”
    "Okay. Whatever it is you're planning, leave my friends alone and I'll come back with you." Kazelia means it, this isn't a trick or a trap. She's not sure that Eska will believe that she's being honest, in fact she's pretty sure she won't, but she'd still rather show her sister how people are supposed to behave. "I mean it, pull me up, promise to leave my friends alone, and I'll come with you, no fight."
    School Fox by Atlur

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    Anarion's right on the money here.
    Quotes

    "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
    Oscar Wilde Writer & Poet (1891)

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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Askaia City, the Kingdom of Askaia

    Kazelia!

    “I don’t know what sort of void-spawned blackmail they have over you,” Eska sneers, “but as long as it means you’ll come back and do what I want? Fine. I won’t lay a finger on the dragon or the crybaby. We’ll leave them here to play with the kitties and have tea parties and all that nonsense.”

    Once she hoists you up and takes you firmly by the hand, you can see that she managed to trap Shiva inside a portable Pegasus-sized cage. Don’t worry, though! She opens the cage and reunites Rider and steed, before jumping on Shiva’s back. “Well, come on. Let’s go meet with Kaja and get out of here already.”
    freedom in the flame

    Spoiler
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

  11. - Top - End - #41
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    Adila!

    So here’s the thing. This whole time, you’ve been dealing with the disorienting, nasty sensation of having a ghost arrow stuck in you. Everything is shades of black and orange, shaking and trembling, and it’s easy sometimes to forget that your body is attached to you.

    I say this because sliding into the sea is soothing. There aren’t all those buildings coming in and out of focus all around you, for example. It’s not enough to restore your Sense, but it’s refreshing.

    Then something breaches the water with a flood of air bubbles and movement, just beside one of the ships. And then it happens again. And again. It takes you only a moment to puzzle through what’s happening: the Riders at the docks, for whatever reason- they’re terrifying a cat in a cage by lowering them into the water repeatedly. Everyone knows cats don’t like water. It’s cruel, is what it is, terrifying a cat like that.

    That’s the sort of thing that makes the Riders worth fighting. What is your reaction, Adila?
    +Shouldn't we do something?+

    Even back then she knew the answer, and the thought came out of her like lead. The chaos-pipes of Devilhome blared in the background, music morphing like serpents to wrap around the tunes of alchemic explosions. Still the Watch remained, silent, unmoving.

    "We should," said the Captain.
    +But we won't?+ the little dragon thought mournfully.
    "No, we won't," said the Captain.
    +Even though I could totally fight them?+
    "Even though you could totally kick their asses."
    The hatchling snorted her laughter, then laid her head down on the stone. +I hate that they fight all the time.+
    "Mm," said the Captain.
    +Why can't they work together, like we do?+
    "Tried that once," said the Captain. "Didn't work."

    Sleepy signed from down the street. The entire alley came alive with movement, a hundred dark robes susurrusing into motion, a flowing river of fabric.

    "Do you remember the Illumian Princess?" asked the Captain. The little dragon nodded eagerly.
    +Yes! She was so pretty! She had all those gemstones and she did the double backflip like this+ The dragon tried the double backflip. It was hard to tell if it was cheating given that she was flexible enough to bend her neck backwards to bite firmly onto her own tail like Ouroboros and then roll herself like a hoop. +and it was like that time there was a rainbow, remember? Remember the rainbow?+
    "Yeah," said the Captain. "And you remember how we beat her?"
    +She beat up like... a thousand guys though! It was really cool! And a bit scary.+
    "Yeah," said the Captain. "But we beat her."
    The dragon's ears drooped a little.
    "See, they're the best, the rainbow princesses," said the Captain. "They've been the best forever. And they're used to it, see? They can win by fighting fair so they've forgotten how to fight dirty."

    The Captain lowered her hood, knelt down to look the little dragon in the eye. "And now you're here, little Princess. First Princess we've had since we settled. And maybe you're right; maybe you could go toe-to-toe with them and fight them all and win. Fair and square." She glanced down the street. Sleepy had signaled again, bringing the Watch to a halt.

    +Then why not?+ Princess Adila almost begged for the answer.
    "Because if we scumbags can beat the best Princess by fighting dirty, what'll happen when you become the best Princess and also know how to fight dirty?" The Captain scratched the hatchling behind the ears. "All the stories are the same; a single dragon is an army without even trying. But a dragon that knows how to think, plan, be patient, resist temptation, be part of a team? That kind of dragon could save the world."
    +So I'll be able to protect everyone one day?+ thought the dragon. +If I work really hard and learn everything and am patient like you said?+
    "Don't see why not," said the Captain.

    Sleepy made the gesture for assault. The time for talk was over.

    The Watch closed in.

    *

    Two dragons fought in that cold water.

    The first dragon said: Think. Plan. Patient. Discipline. Fight dirty and fight smart. It's what makes you a person, a Watcher, not an animal. Stay with the water. Apply overwhelming force. Win.

    The second dragon knew that it was right but... maybe she didn't need to fight smart all the time. She was bigger now. Powerful! She could do this!

    You have a poisoned arrow in your shoulder already. You got shot out of the sky once before. It's stupid. Stay down.

    But they're hurting her!

    It's - you know this is how it works. Concentrate your forces. Don't take risks. The cat will be fine. Everything will be -

    It's not right. I can stop this. The Watch has to be smart because they're outmatched but... I can do this. I'm ready. I'm ready. I can do this. I'm ready.

    She burst out of the water, flames and teeth and roaring.

    It would be the Riders that went into the ocean today.
    Last edited by Thanqol; 2019-06-06 at 07:36 AM.
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    We'll march on to spite the skies.

  12. - Top - End - #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    Askaia City, the Kingdom of Askaia

    Kazelia!

    “I don’t know what sort of void-spawned blackmail they have over you,” Eska sneers, “but as long as it means you’ll come back and do what I want? Fine. I won’t lay a finger on the dragon or the crybaby. We’ll leave them here to play with the kitties and have tea parties and all that nonsense.”

    Once she hoists you up and takes you firmly by the hand, you can see that she managed to trap Shiva inside a portable Pegasus-sized cage. Don’t worry, though! She opens the cage and reunites Rider and steed, before jumping on Shiva’s back. “Well, come on. Let’s go meet with Kaja and get out of here already.”
    "Sure thing, let me just get my lance." Kazelia puts out a hand and the lance, caught far below, shoots upwards carried on a winter wind, flies in through the window, and stops in her hand. She slings it on her back without comment to Eska, though unspoken is the fact that yes, she could have done that the entire time. She gives Shiva a reassuring pat and mounts up with her sister, flying towards the docks. While they're on Shiva's back, she says "Oh, I should tell my friends too, I'll do it quickly." Then she concentrates on the winter wind and mouths silently into it. I surrendered to my sister Eska in exchange for her promise to leave my friends alone. I'll ask them to release the cats when we get to the docs, we're flying there now. And then she blows her message into the wind and asks it to fly to Adila and Alina to let them know. It's a secret message carried on the frigid winter wind so it doesn't have the most nuance, but you get the sense that Kazelia sounds a little proud of herself for what she's accomplished here.

    [This post has both wizardry to push/grab something as if I were somewhere else I can see to get the lance and deliver a message through mysterious means to Adila and Alina.]
    School Fox by Atlur

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    Anarion's right on the money here.
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    Oscar Wilde Writer & Poet (1891)

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    Once upon a time, the Kingdom of Rowan was in crisis. The Rowani Queen had paid grave insult to a woods-witch and denied her hospitality, for the witch had ridden into the castle on a mule instead of a horse and had even been so brazen as to ask they stable the sad creature with their own proud steeds. Now of course as we all know that mule was actually a most beautiful pegasus in disguise, but these were simpler times and Queens and Princesses both were less trained in the art of dealing with witches. And so the witch gathered all her sisters and cast a great blight upon Rowan, so that all the clouds in the sky would pack their things and leave for other kingdoms.

    The rivers ran dry. The grass withered. And with no food to eat, the horses grew weak. Something had to be done. But even in crisis, Rowan was proud and would not ask for help. They'd get what they needed themselves, even if it meant they had to take it from someone else. So as was the way of Hyperborea they sent their Princess-Knight Ansila into Illumina on her great black mare to take the water they so desperately needed from the people who had too much of it. And her horse trampled across the fields and with sword and spear and lance she carved great gashes in the earth and did her very Princessy best to drain the whole kingdom dry, for Rowan's need was greater.

    This of course could not go unanswered. Princess Marina Prism, freshly returned from Jedad (where she had absolutely been sharing the secrets of silk with the people there and not at all getting punched in the face, I don't know where you heard that), came arrayed with her glass armor and her seven lights and stole the water straight back. But the people of Rowan were desperate, and when Princess Marina came and coaxed her waters back home she found every able fighter in the kingdom perched atop a hill, waiting for her with lances in hand and Princess Ansila at their head. They charged, and Princess Marina met them head on.

    She did not use her lights. She could have, certainly, but when she saw what they had been prepared to do, her heart cried out to help them. So she ran, and as she came her footfalls were so light that even these wilted blades of grass did not bend to carry her weight. And she leaped, and when she leaped she was so beautiful that the Rowani knights pulled their charges short just to look at her. All but Ansila, who could not be fazed. And Marina landed atop the great black mare's neck, and she smiled and looked deep into Princess Ansila's eyes. Then she kissed her, full on the lips. And there was no duel that day. There
    was a wedding seven months later, under the first waters of the great glass aqueduct that would ever after carry Illumina's gift to those who needed it most.

    ***

    Alina is quiet for a moment, and trembling despite herself. Of all the times to remember that story! Everyone knows what happens when you give a Rider what they want most. Everyone knows. Her own palace is filled, they say, with the proof of that. And yet. Kazelia was scary, but didn't it seem like she had a heart? And if she did, wouldn't her sisters? And if Kaja Ironpelt has a heart, wouldn't it be scared and lonely? If she turns to ice, then she is lost.

    "Do you know why you haven't been kissed before? Nobody thinks of you as a person," she says while she wraps her fingers around Kaja's chin, "They see a monster. They see a storm, and they're hiding and hoping you'll pass by into nothing. But I see you. You are real. You belong. And I'll teach you all the things you need to know."

    It's cold. Her lips are so cold. Alina can feel the heat draining from her body the longer she's here. But a princess must be beautiful. So she keeps her lips pressed firmly against Kaja's, and she keeps her eyes open to look at her face while she does it. And when they finally break apart, she smiles, though she's shivering.

    [I went and checked ahead with our dear Overlord that yes, I do have Advantage if I apply it in this way. Finishing Kaja by showing her the error of her ways: 2d6+2 = 13]
    Last edited by PhoeKun; 2019-06-08 at 09:21 PM.

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    Askaia City, the Kingdom of Askaia

    Alina!

    Let’s start with the good news.

    The good news is that Kaja’s retinue breaks into laughter and cheering, seeing this, thinking it a princess seduced - and they are right, but in the wrong direction. The good news is that though it is cold- so cold- you are certain you feel the smallest bit of warmth come to Kaja’s lips.

    And the very good news is that Kaja is so overwhelmed that she does not throw you at the moon, like she boasted she would.

    The bad news is that she just flings you into the sky with incredible force without looking for a target, out of absolutely relatable lesbian panic.

    ***

    Kazelia!

    For the second time this evening, light shoots violently up into the sky. The only problem is that this is not Adila’s brilliant, powerful flame, but the Petrichor Princess who finds herself airborne. This is a problem, seeing as her hands are cuffed behind her and her lights are feebly doing their best to form a proper grappling hook to save her, even as she reaches the zenith of her arc and starts hurtling down towards the ground.

    Lucky for her she’s friends with a Rider.

    With a spur of Shiva’s flanks, Alina lands right in your arms as neatly as you please.

    “This isn’t on me,” Eska says, looking over your shoulder. “Not a finger, I said. But, hey, since we have the crybaby, why don’t we take her back to Ilumina with us? I’m sure she...” She trails off as she sees the chaos on the docks, and realizes that things are not exactly going as planned today.

    ***

    Adila!

    The docks are in absolute bedlam. I mean, put yourself in the Riders’ shoes for a moment! There you are, waiting for your boss to get back, passing the time by waterboarding a cat, and then suddenly a sea monster lurches up out of the water, eyes wide and rolling, and breathes fire at you, setting your wicked black cloaks alight and threatening to set the ships on fire.

    Everyone has their own set of priorities now! For some of them, it’s become “jump into the water to stop being on fire.” For others, it’s become “get on the ship and leave, right the void now.” Unfortunately for you, when surprised and trapped, some people lash out, instead.

    So those laser whips begin cracking against your sides, and one even curls around your throat! I think even for you it’s painful, though you’re a big dragon, you can take it. The real threat is that they might be able to pin you down, take you prisoner- though I think it would take a stroke of luck on their part, and they would have to take a moment to figure out what exactly to do next!

    And while that’s happening-

    That’s when you get Kazelia’s message. Whoops!
    freedom in the flame

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    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
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    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
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    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

  15. - Top - End - #45
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    Adila!

    The docks are in absolute bedlam. I mean, put yourself in the Riders’ shoes for a moment! There you are, waiting for your boss to get back, passing the time by waterboarding a cat, and then suddenly a sea monster lurches up out of the water, eyes wide and rolling, and breathes fire at you, setting your wicked black cloaks alight and threatening to set the ships on fire.

    Everyone has their own set of priorities now! For some of them, it’s become “jump into the water to stop being on fire.” For others, it’s become “get on the ship and leave, right the void now.” Unfortunately for you, when surprised and trapped, some people lash out, instead.

    So those laser whips begin cracking against your sides, and one even curls around your throat! I think even for you it’s painful, though you’re a big dragon, you can take it. The real threat is that they might be able to pin you down, take you prisoner- though I think it would take a stroke of luck on their part, and they would have to take a moment to figure out what exactly to do next!

    And while that’s happening-

    That’s when you get Kazelia’s message. Whoops!
    Princess Adila looked at the laser whips wrapped around her, and then she looked at the Riders straining to pull her to the ground. Then her thoughts bubbled over with sympathy. Oh, poor dears! You have no idea what you're up against, do you?

    She reared up and clapped her wings like a hurricane and the whole lot of them were sent tumbling into the ocean.

    Looming over the edge she thought at them firmly: +Cruelty is against the Law of Ourania. Consider this a warning.+

    [I'm assuming being stronger, scarier and having the element of surprise gives me an advantage in this fight so I'm going to roll to Finish Them against the Rider dockhands with Blood: 9]

    And then - what? Kazelia had been defeated already? And she's - she's coming here with the archer. Where I would have been able to ambush her at point blank range if I'd just waited - oh! Stupid! The dragon princess irritably rapped her skull with her talons. Okay, backup plan. All the things were still sort of in place.

    She jumped up onto the bow of the Rider's ship and looked around to take stock of how many boats there were in the harbour. Then she focused in on Eska. +You are under arrest,+ she thought firmly.
    If the sun won't rise on our horizon
    We'll march on to spite the skies.

  16. - Top - End - #46
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Alina's smile turns into a squeak. And her squeak becomes full-on screaming. Up, up, up, up, up, up, up! Then she's floating suspended at the arc of her flight --oh hey, she's still got her soul! Unbidden, she thinks about the look on Kaja's face right before she got tossed up here, and she smiles through this single moment of peace-- and then she starts plummeting back into the city like a rainbow meteor. And now she's really screaming. She has the good sense at least to not start flailing, but other than that she's useless, useless, useless, and definitely about to die unless some Riders were right underneath her stealing a cart full of feather pillows.

    Or! She could just land in Princess Kazelia's arms. Oh thank light. She flashes a dazzling and extremely grateful smile, though her teeth are chattering.

    "E-E-E-Eska Glinteye? I'm h-h-here to inform you," she shivers, "Your sister Kaja Ironpelt has been defeated. More or less. Out of respect for your nicer siblings I'm here to offer you the hand of friendship, if you'll surrender yourself to my custody."

    She notices the pandemonium at the docks. And for the first time in a long time, she dares to hope she might actually be able to do this... then she sneezes. Gracefully, of course.

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    “Nope,” Eska says. “Nope, nope, nope. We’re not doing this. Kazelia, deal with her.” So saying, she stands up - let me reiterate that, she stands up on the rump of a Pegasus in flight - and kicks off gracefully into a backflip. Before anyone can worry about her chances of landing, she pulls out - a grappling hook?? Wait, how is it fair that she gets a grappling hook?
    freedom in the flame

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    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

  18. - Top - End - #48
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    “Alina!” Kazelia gives her a big hug, even though she’s totally freezing. “You’re safe, I was really worried after Adila got shot. But she seems okay.”

    She turns to Eska to tell her that she understands that Eska kept her word, but then there she is backflipping off a Pegasus with a grappling hook. “Eska, wait!” And there she goes falling down below. “Sister, that looks very dangerous!” Kazelia grins just slightly, and when she sees the grappling hook land, a little pillar of ice suddenly crackles and pokes out from the spot where it’s attached. The ice scrapes on the metal and then just like that, it pushes it right off from where it’s attached, leaving Eska to fall whatever fate takes her.

    [Finishing her with Doom. 2+4+2=8, so it deals damage and the advantage is lost.]
    School Fox by Atlur

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    Anarion's right on the money here.
    Quotes

    "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
    Oscar Wilde Writer & Poet (1891)

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    Askaia City, the Kingdom of Askaia

    Alina and Kazelia!

    Eska ends up crashing into several laundry lines woven across an alleyway, which slows her down enough that when she splats into the refuse pile, it’s only very embarrassing and beneath her dignity.

    Then she’s gone, parkoured away into the night like a cat. She... probably has decided to go find Kaja and leave on her own terms. Probably. Let’s hope.

    [Friendship is Tragic! has been damaged, and unless someone botches a roll and it’s the super right Cut, she’s probably gone. Which means there’s only one bit of trouble left!]
    freedom in the flame

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    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

  20. - Top - End - #50
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    There was a rock in the Bazaar's Harbour that they used to call the Spear. Sudden, sharp, jagged, lancing up towards the sun.

    The Captain had told her to use it as the practice target for her fire breath. Now they called it the Slag. The creation of the Slag had coincidentally resulted in a lot less people decide to go for thrilling chase scenes in the harbour of the Bazaar.

    Princess Adila, from the air, found a similarly convenient pile of rocks near the harbour entrance and made a very pointed demonstration of what could be done with dragonflame when she didn't have to worry about burning down the surrounding city. Then she perched menacingly on the harbour shore to give the Riders a chance to reconsider their plan to make a daring escape by sea.
    Last edited by Thanqol; 2019-06-06 at 10:39 PM.
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    We'll march on to spite the skies.

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    A Forsaken Beach Resort, the Kingdom of Askaia

    "I threw her, Eska!"

    Princess Eska Glinteye rolled her eyes behind the telescopic lenses of her goggles. Yes, Kaja. This is only the... oh, eleventh time you've said that. Oh, good, you're standing up. Again. So you can keep pacing and waving your arms around. And then you'll slump down and put your head in your hands and keep moaning while I try to get this clockwork beetle archer ready.

    "Once Kazelia gets here, we'll be able to make our counter-attack," Eska said, hoping to stave off more useless moaning about how Alina Cascade smelled like lavender and that weird smell right after it rains and how even her lips were weirdly warm and she looked her right in the eyes while kissing, she looked and didn't look away, like it isn't obvious that it was a distraction to let that dragon get to the ships.

    The wind began to pick up, howling about them, running the mists through its fingers. Eska huddled her shoulders in closer and worked on gear realignment. Stupid Kazelia. Stupid Kaja. Stupid everyone. She was wasted here! She should be dealing with Azora's upcoming humiliation in the desert, not stuck babysitting her corruption of the drug-laced weather patterns of an island of cats. Not that it hadn't been fun. Oh, had it ever been fun. But someone has to look at the bigger picture here.

    "But I'm not sure I'll even be able to counter-attack!" Kaja threw her arms up. "I'll just be thinking about Alina and I don't know whether I want to kiss her again or, like, throw her in jail forever. Illegal! Illegal kiss crimes!"

    One moment, there was the wind, a thundering gale- and then, the next, silence and stillness, broken only by the soft crunch of sand underneath Oberon's boots. He was smiling, gently, even as Eska threw the beetle right into a tree on reflex and Kaja clapped both her hands over her mouth, her eyes full of falling stars like tears. How much had he heard?

    "And here I was expecting to see my little Ironpelt at sea." He stepped closer, even as Kaja stood stock-still, like a deer before the hunter. When he touched his hand to the back of hers, she did not dare brush it aside. "What happened to our ships, dearest?"

    "Dragon," Eska said, her mouth dry. Focus. Not really your fault. "Arrived in the city with the Iluminan princess and..."

    "Kazelia," Kaja breathed, against her own palm.

    "Ah." Oberon shook his head, still smiling. "Kazelia. She is... misguided. An old enemy of mine has put her under a terrible spell. It's not her fault, really. Don't hate her for it." He lowered his hand, running it along a spur of Kaja's armor. "So here is what you are going to do. When the princesses come for the Wound, you are to seize them fast. I know that you will get them all, but if the dragon happens to get away, well... I will not count it against you." Is he not generous? Is he not kind? Is he not the finest king to ever rule? "But you will bring me Kazelia and the Iluminan girl, alive and helpless, and ensure that this quaint little place becomes the new Slaugh. Do you understand?"

    "By ourselves?" Eska tried very hard to sound skeptical-yet-intrigued. The voice crack did not help. Both Oberon and Kaja looked at her at once, and Kaja shook her head no no no as Oberon took a step towards Eska.

    "No," he said, and not smiling anymore. "Asteria and Cassian are, at this moment, at sea with their soldiers. To ensure that you have the support you clearly require for this task, I will reroute them from their current objectives. When she arrives, you will both defer to Asteria. Is that clear?"

    "Perfectly, father," Eska said, stock-still, like a frozen statue in their castle's gardens. Oberon reached for her. He ruffled her hair, and behind him, Kaja started breathing again.

    "That's a good girl. Give your dad a kiss." Despite herself, despite the way all affection is a lie, Eska stood and kissed his cheek. It was smooth. He pointed to the beetle, its limbs weakly treading air, and nodded expectantly. She was allowed to go and fetch it.

    "Oh, and Kaja?" He half-turned, his starry eyes dark and unfathomable, his brow furrowed in concern. "Don't go committing any more 'illegal kiss crimes.' Okay? You know that the last thing I would ever want to do is break your heart." For a moment, his fingers lingered on his belt, and the abhorrent wonder-knife that sat there: Yearning, which is named Echidna. Then he was a huge black moth, darting into the night, and was gone.

    Eska sat down, carefully dislodging the sand from the beetle's gears and joins bit by bit, not looking up at her sister's silently heaving shoulders. Sisters should give each other that much privacy, at least.

    ***

    The Josune Temple, the Kingdom of Askaia

    The good thing about the looting of the Josune Temple means that you've got a dragon-sized place to have your council of war.

    Presiding: Queen Felicia von Catabas, in her true form of a broad-shouldered, deep-furred Forest Cat, the bejeweled hat of Askaia on her head. (The Askaians being more casual and relaxed than most kingdoms, even their crown looked more like a velvet beach hat with amber bangles hung along the brim.) Beside her, her husband, wearing lacquered cat armor and looking into every corner like he's scared a Rider will jump out and steal away his wife again.

    In attendance: various priests, stewards, and police-cats, all heaped on top of Adila, as well as Princess Rita von Catabas, still in her catgirl form.

    "When the Riders came," Felicia says, her voice deep and resonant, echoing strange against the wood-slat walls, "they brought with them Azora Howl, and she brought with her a terrible thing. This she has hidden somewhere on Askaia, and it sickens our holy mist, makes it cruel and hungry. Our champions are seeking out those lost in the mist, lost in dark dreams, and fortifying against possible Rider counterattack, now that we have defeated their own champions. But I do not know what sort of spells Azora Howl has placed upon her terrible thing. I do not know even what it looks like, but can feel it eating away at our magic, fouling the ley lines and growing in strength. If we cannot remove it, there will be no safe place on Askaia within the week, and we will have to leave our home."

    There is wailing at this, a caterwaul of despair and anger.

    "Rita, my beloved daughter. I wish I did not have to place this burden upon you, but I must ask you to go into the wild and remove this thorn in the island's hide. It will be dangerous, and I cannot give you aid- not without risking the safety of our people." She sounds tired now. So very tired. Perhaps it is true that the Queen of Askaia possesses a mystic bond with the incense-mist that covers the island. "Will you accept this quest?"

    "I will, mother," Rita says, sinking down to one knee and pressing one hand against her breast. For, perhaps, the first time since you met her, she is showing the proper dignity and grace expected of a princess.

    You are not asked to accompany her. It would be shameful, to ask such a thing of you; they cannot request your aid, merely accept it if it is offered. But it cuts both ways: I do not think any of you could look another princess in the eye again if you let Rita march into the mists alone. So it is up to you to offer your aid, that she may accept it.
    Last edited by Raz_Fox; 2019-06-07 at 10:07 PM.
    freedom in the flame

    Spoiler
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

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    Kazelia looks to the other two princesses and and steps forward, bowing to the queen and king next to Rita, trying to ignore the little curls of ice that form on the stones where her white hair grazes them. "I will go as well. The corruption here is my sister's doing and I will see it undone. And I would...enjoy spending more time with Rita." Kazelia remains in place, hoping that she has not been too brash in committing, but that her friends will join her as well.
    School Fox by Atlur

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    Anarion's right on the money here.
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    "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
    Oscar Wilde Writer & Poet (1891)

  23. - Top - End - #53
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    Princess Adila had busied herself organizing the prisoners. She loved prisoner duty.

    As a dragon she had inherent advantages when managing prisoners - strength, speed, eyesight and telepathy all worked together to make it extremely easy to keep track of them. That meant that she now had a few dozen people on hand who all had to do whatever she said. The obvious thing to do was what it had always been - to organize a game of Brightball.

    She couldn't play normal games, of course. How she'd wanted to! Ever since she'd seen the Illumianators defeat the Steel Hobs as a hatchling she'd been hooked. But it turns out there was a rule saying dragons couldn't play Brightball and none of the Watch wanted to play against her no matter how many limbs she promised not to use. So there was only one source of people in all the world she could live out her dreams with: prisoners. Warden shifts meant she got to organize all the prisoners and force them to play against her - teams weren't necessary, all of them verses her was fine. She could toss the ball across the pitch, fly over to it, and spike it down into the ground before it landed. Yeah! Point for Princess Adila! Take that!

    Some of the prisoners - most of them, really - had no inclination to play her game so they just stood around, hands sullenly in pockets. But some of them got into it. One of the Rider sea captains especially decided to go all out against the dragon princess and brought his entire crew with him. They set up a cunning pattern where they were passing the ball to the furthest team-mate whenever she got close - but Princess Adila had seen this trick before and one snap of her wings knocked the ball far back court where she was able to rush out, snatch it up, and score again. +Yeah!!+ Even when playing against people who weren't even slightly on her level Princess Adila still had a great time. It was as close as she was going to get to her dream of being a star athlete, but more than that, she honestly loved the game.



    She only reluctantly turned over control of the prisoners to the grizzled old tabbycat who served as Askaia's chief constable - but there was a meeting on and she'd run them all ragged by that point anyway. She showed up a few minutes late and was instantly covered in grumpy cats who let her know their annoyance of being made to wait in the cold with a chorus of meowing. Another few minutes and the cats she was carrying were once again purring as her warmth soaked through them.

    She tries to focus on the meeting but isn't able to fully keep her thoughts about that sick chaos dunk she did at the end from seeping out of her. Focus, Adila! This is important! +She shall not go alone, Your Highness! As Princess of the Watch it is my duty to restore your Kingdom!+
    If the sun won't rise on our horizon
    We'll march on to spite the skies.

  24. - Top - End - #54
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Princess Alina Cascade keeps herself occupied while Askaia pulls itself back together and counts up all its missing people and treasures. She shapes her light into tongs and gently plucks ghost arrows out of cat soldiers, then she bathes them in warm light until they come out of their nightmares. She's out on the docks wearing her cloak again and overseeing the dredging of some artifacts that fell in during Princess Adila's... um... daring rescue of the prisoners. Yes, let's go with that. Every now and again Alina whips out a beam of light from her wrist and pulls up a crate or similar herself. She perches someplace high and watches Adilla play Brightball with their prisoners. This makes her smile despite herself. She does not, of course, join in.

    Nobody really seems to appreciate anything she does. When she heals someone she's met with a stare that asks her without words why she left these poor kitties to suffer and didn't do this for them as soon as she got here. The dockworkers grumble about her being a bossy showoff. There's a bit of gossip about how unbecoming it is for a princess to sit like that and watch a game when there's still so much to do. But nobody ever says this to her face, nor are they so rude as to ask her for her help. She gives it anyway even if it's bothering her. It's either this, or thinking about what happened.

    And oh goodness, there it is! She kissed her! She kissed Kaja Ironpelt right on the lips! Why would she do that? Well of course because she'd looked so sad and lonely. But still! She kissed her! The usurper, the kingdom stealer! Daughter of that... that... monster! But it was nice! Really cold, but nice! Rains take me, what does that mean?? Every time she thinks about it she turns as rosy as the dawn and disappears in a flash of multicolored light.

    One more time, she decides. Just one more time. To... to make sure. Yeah.

    ***

    The Queen's words are a cold slap of reality. Alina hasn't been brave enough to sneak back into Illumina and see it for herself, but she doesn't need to. Her glass towers aren't so different from Askaia's. And here they are, coating in rime as everything on this island paradise slowly turns twisted. She can see it just fine. She's been stupid; there's only one thing for her to do. So she bows with a deep and very Illuminan flourish so that her hair flips forward and brushes just barely against the ground.

    "My final promise to your people was for better weather. Leave it to me, Your Grace! And then remember that the true Illumina is still shining somewhere, and is still your friend."

    She hides a wince under another hair toss. Her mother was a lot better at the big speech part of this job. On her head, each of her lights pulses soothingly in turn.

  25. - Top - End - #55
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    Askaia City, the Kingdom of Askaia

    The room is filled with satisfied purrs from those honoraries in attendance. Tradition has been satisfied, and their princess shall not march off into that dark alone. And how can she fail? She will have with her a dragon, a renegade Rider, and lovely little Alina, doesn't it just seem like yesterday she was five years old and running around the city with a sticky mouth and, somehow, absolutely perfect poise? She gave the best headpats, too.

    "I thank you, noble Princesses," the Queen says, and bows her head in respect. "Yet, my daughter tells me that you suffered grievously in forging through the mist once already, and I would not, upon my life, ask you to go forth a second time without giving you what protection I can."

    An old black shrine priestess comes forward, bearing a tray of crushed pigments around her neck. Rita gasps in delight, and then turns into a calico. (It's very shimmery, her transformation.) The shrine priestess dabs her paw in pigments, and then marks a lovely pattern on Rita's kitty face. Then she asks, "Rita, darling. Please pick me up so I don't have to ask them all to lie down."

    Shimmer shimmer! Rita becomes a catgirl again, now with bold strokes on her face in purple and green and sea blue, and hoists up the shrine priestess, holding her up first to Alina's face, then Kazelia, then Adila, letting her pap pap pap those little cat paws on your faces. "Now be careful," the shrine priestess says as she works the pigments into Adila's scales. "This won't come off the minute you young things start sweating, but if you wash it off or get it smudged, it won't help you anymore out there. Do your best not to fall in a river or scratch your nose."

    ***

    A Forsaken Beach Resort, the Kingdom of Askaia

    Throughout Hyperborean history, the general maxim of political science has been: it is better to be loved than to be feared. If your people love you, they will do anything for you; if they merely fear you, they will seek at every turn to overthrow you.

    Hyperborean political science had never dealt with Princess Asteria Spite.

    She stood at the bow of the longboat looming out of the mist, each pull of the oars in time to the war-drums that announced her presence (along with the trademark subtlety of the crystal spotlights illuminating her), her tall boots gleaming and her tight bob of white hair unruffled by the sea winds. Behind her, Iluminan conscripts in matching ice-blue uniforms and matching crew cuts labored at the oars, as Riders in their black cloaks stood watching over them. As the longship neared the shore, Asteria raised her gloved fingers to her lips and whistled, sharply. Then, with poise any princess would envy, she hoisted herself up by the figurehead and stepped out.

    Her boot found a chitinous black shell beneath it, as the vile sea-beasts known as Garthim surged out to obey her unspoken wish. With viciously timed clicks of her heel, she descended the ladder of rolling, surging bodies down to the sands, never once letting her head bob or sway. She then smiled at her sisters, in the sense that she pulled her lips back from her teeth.

    "Eska! Kaja! Report!"

    Eska held up a warning finger to stop Kaja from blurting out apologies, and simply asked, "Where's Cassian?"

    "Cassian is in time-out! He will be joining us once he has learned to obey orders promptly and without delay! But we will not require his services! Unlike others of my family, I do not lead a ragtag group of undisciplined sailors and 'raiding buddies,' Kaja, I lead an army! An army which, under my command, will bring order to this barbaric island! Following my orders, the two of you will succeed where, working alone, you failed miserably!"

    She snapped her fingers, and Garthim began to lumber up from the shore, splitting into a sharp V to avoid Asteria and her sisters. Eska curled a lip in disgust as the reeking, brutish crustaceans passed her by. You couldn't do subtle with one of those crabs if you were fighting the Blind, Deaf Princess of Castle Oblivious. Or against Kaja, even.

    "...so did you want the report?" Kaja asked, meekly. Asteria leaned in, still baring her teeth, looking up at her statuesque sister.

    "I will be very interested in hearing whether it differs from what Father told me," she said with murderous quiet, as behind her, the Illuminan soldiers began to disembark.

    ***

    The Mists and the Jungle, the Kingdom of Askaia

    "-I'm happy as can be! Let's go walking you and me! Ready, set, come on, let's go! Over the hill, across the field, through the tunnel we'll go..."

    It's morning now. You spent a lovely evening as the guests of the Queen, most likely covered in cats who wanted to snuggle with you all night long. The storm's ferocity has abated, and now even the oh-so-sensitive Rita has pulled down her scarf and is singing a traditional Askaian walking song as she trudges through the slushy snow. All around you, the mists peel back, and though there are ominous shadows and sounds within, they seem powerless to hurt you as vividly as they did before.

    Then Rita stops. Her ear twitches. (Does she have four ears, as a catgirl? Have any of you checked?) She frowns. "Did you all hear that?" She glances from side to side, into the foliage all around you. "There it is again. Didn't you hear that? Kind of a clicking noise?"
    freedom in the flame

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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

  26. - Top - End - #56
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Oh, what a difference the morning light makes! Everything here had been terror and pain, and now she's here humming along to a walking song she never quite learned the words to when she was small. Princess Alina has her lights again and she shapes them as she pleases, here brushing clean the path and there lifting the leaves of a plant of some description or another out of Adila's face to keep the little colored cat paws and streaks fresh on her face. In fact, she's almost sure she recognizes this path, despite the slushy snow that really has no business here. It's close, surely, to the place she used to play when some part of her still knew how to be sticky and no part of her knew how to worry. If lifts her heart to imagine it.

    She stops swiftly just a step or two behind Rita. She sees those fuzzy ears twitch (and to be sure, she's always been so caught up staring at catgirls' ears to know for sure if there are normal ones there to, but she'd be quite shocked to hear there were), and strains her own to match. She tilts her head, perplexed. Then she lifts her Orange higher above everyone's heads, to maybe spook the mystery sound into being louder. Or at least let her see something she was missing.

    "Oh!" she says after a moment. Then she tilts her head to the other side and her lips purse as her face sets itself into an extremely composed but also puzzled expression. "Maybe?"

    To be sure, Illuminan grace has never once stood up against Askaian senses when it comes down to a Noticing Things Contest. But our little light, she tries her best.

    [Look Closely: 2d6+1 = 10. "What is going on here? What do my senses tell me?", "Is something hidden or out of place? If so, what looks suspicious?", "What will happen if I fire a warning laser into the morning mists?"]

  27. - Top - End - #57
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    The Mists and the Jungle, the Kingdom of Askaia

    The crunch of frozen leaves under many pincer-tipped legs. The sudden stench of something rotten from the bottom of the ocean. The chittering of maxillipeds. Hulking, black-shelled Garthim are coming for you. They’re not here yet, being incredibly unsubtle, but they have your... scent? Motion? Sound? Who knows how these creatures hunt.

    Spoiler: Garthim
    Show
    Claws That Catch. Anyone damaged by the Garthim becomes grabbed. They can grab up to four at a time, and only let go if this stat is damaged.

    Foul, nasty black pincers that smell like rotting seaweed and stale sushi, waving at the ends of four different forelimbs. Amazingly, the muscles of the arm are similar to a crocodile’s jaw: incredible closing force, but very weak trying to open again.

    Armored Shell. The Garthim can only take damage from attacks with the Piercing tag.

    The natural predator of the Garthim is probably the kraken. Or something with a great big beak, anyway. Even Adila’s fire would roll right off their backs.

    Group. The Garthim can act against two people at once. When this stat is damaged, the enemy is Taken Out, or this is the only stat remaining, replace this group with two normal enemies.

    I personally think they’re all over the island looking for you, but here? There’s eight or so.


    As for out-of-place... well, yes. These things are scavengers and parasites, crustaceans which primarily feed off ley lines which cut through the sea, though they are known to dwell in lagoons that are black enough for them. Something stirred them up, is directing their wills as one. If you interrupted that magician, the Garthim would likely mill about looking for magical things to eat and dank bogs to mate in.

    (Isn’t nature wonderful?)

    As for what would happen if you fired a warning laser into the mists... you’d probably tickle them, alert them to your position, and maybe expose yourself to whoever directs the Garthim. On the other hand, if you wanted to lead them on a merry chase away from the dragon, the catgirl and the Rider, I’d be hard-pressed to think of a better way to get their attention.
    freedom in the flame

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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

  28. - Top - End - #58
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    It was a short step from joy to misery, and for Princess Adila it came at the city gates. As soon as she was surrounded by trees instead of buildings and nature instead of people the disappointment settled on her like the snow. She was tense, twitchy, nervous, and her internal chatter started to pick up the pace to fill the empty space left by thousands of people no longer being in proximity. Some part of her looks at this frozen landscape and wishes it was paved over or on fire, possibly both.

    +What's going on?+ she thinks, awkwardly getting her legs under her to slow down from her forwards momentum. +Trouble?+
    If the sun won't rise on our horizon
    We'll march on to spite the skies.

  29. - Top - End - #59
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    Alina's first move is not to grab the crab's attention and lead them away from her friends on a merry chase at great personal risk. Oh my gosh are you kidding me? Who even put that idea in your head? No, the first thing she does is squeak, jump several feet into the air, and cling to the back of Adila's neck.

    "Oh gosh, oh no, I've heard of these! This is bad, this is very super bad, my mo-- er, Mother told me they're born princess catchers. And if they're here in a place like this you just know they're in thrall to some gross sea hag or a perverted old wizard. Oh gross, gross, gross, there's so many of them. Let's go before they grab us up and toss us in a pit full of silk dissolving slime!"

    N-not that she's speaking from experience or anything! But even if her concerns are oddly specific, is a deft hand at classical princess adventuring. It's really best to trust her experience in moments like these. She asks Kazelia to bait the place where they're standing now with some simple spell, and sets a series of multicolored tiles leading off the main path for everyone to follow. She clumps a bunch of them together so that Princess Adila's dragon-sized feet don't have any trouble stepping on them, and in this way turns even the heaviest footfalls into a tiny click click click like a horseshoe trotting on a stone street several blocks away. She pulls them up, up, up, not quite to the treeline, where no crab would think to look for them but low enough where they won't pop up in front of any nasty flying things (always assume there are nasty flying things, when the Kidnap Crabs come prowling). She stops once to wrap her Violet around Rita's waist and pull her up to the front of the line so she can point the best way forward, and one more time to ask Adila to push a really big rock out of the way (and then back into the way).

    Yes, teamwork is the real magic. Alina guides them all back down to the ground in a clearing some ways away, in a spot she's quite certain she remembers but more important she's even more certain is for the moment free of Garthim prowling about.

    "There's some things you just don't mess with," she says with a sigh of relief, "It's usually a lot easier if you just find the evil witch and beat her up instead. But who would bring something like them here?"

    [Alina rolls Get Away with Hope on behalf of the Fellowship: 3d6(best 2)+2= 3, 4, 4 = 8+2 = 10. The Fellowship arrives quickly, suffering no harm, and quietly, drawing no attention]

  30. - Top - End - #60
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post

    Yes, teamwork is the real magic. Alina guides them all back down to the ground in a clearing some ways away, in a spot she's quite certain she remembers but more important she's even more certain is for the moment free of Garthim prowling about.

    "There's some things you just don't mess with," she says with a sigh of relief, "It's usually a lot easier if you just find the evil witch and beat her up instead. But who would bring something like them here?"
    Perhaps it was her fondness for the cat princess, perhaps the success they'd had in stopping the Rider fleet and saving the queen, or the way the cats had all looked at them with relief when they'd promised but to help. But whatever it was, before the Garthim had arrived, Kazelia had let Rita's infectious laughter reach her and was, for one of the few times in her life, actually enjoying herself. While she still felt oddly happy, her moment of being unguarded ended as soon as Rita caught the clicking noise and Alina started scouting. She drew her spear and was prepared to act as her mind started whirring, going through the calculus of which of her dad's minions could pull off a feat like this one. She counted her lucky stars that Alina was leading them with such skill: the multicolored tiles meant that Kazelia left no icy footprints and the clear path meant she didn't have to cut her way through anything and leave an obvious trail of freshly sliced leaves and branches.

    "If it's my sisters, I think it would have to be a new arrival. Kaja doesn't do this kind of magic and Eska's never made a device that would be able to control garthim like this. Azora could do it, and we're in real trouble if she's here. Asteria could do it too, she's not as bad, but still really tough. Cassian...could maybe do it, he doesn't get many chances to show off, honestly, everyone always made fun of him. Or it could be a group of Father's witches. I don't think any of them are as strong as the princesses, but a small coven together could definitely work a spell like this. The witches don't like to travel to new places first though, they'd usually show up after one of us princesses had already secured a base. I remember a few years ago, I had to freeze an entire woodland around the Rowan border before the witches would set up and cast spells to help us track the Rowani cavalry. Er...them, the Riders I mean...I'm sorry."
    School Fox by Atlur

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    Anarion's right on the money here.
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    "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
    Oscar Wilde Writer & Poet (1891)

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