The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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  1. - Top - End - #241
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    Adila!

    “Hey there, Adila!” Scampering Jeni waves at you with the hand that’s not in her pocket. Criminal record: minor acts of larceny, criminal mischief, and being an accessory to a crime. She’s usually up on the rooftops with the Scarabs, one of the minor gangs. “Didn’t know you were coming back to town, but don’t worry! Brought you a welcome back present.”

    Then she chucks the vial down at the ground by your feet, where it shatters, and an absolutely irate sea-djinn explodes out, all tentacles and yelling and wanting to leave one-star reviews of their previous place of residence. Which, uh. You are marginally better-equipped to handle than the average Watch squad, but not by much.

    Spoiler: Sea-Djinn
    Show
    Tentacles! While engaged with the Sea-Djinn, you cannot Get Away.

    Flailing! The Sea-Djinn is Dangerous and will not distinguish between friend and foe until they calm down.
    Oh clock why

    Princess Adila moved incredibly decisively. Part of being hyperaware of your size and weight and the threat of accidentally breaking things meant that the moment things actually began to break she was on a hair trigger to react. She immediately snapped her wings out and wrapped them around the Sea-Djinn in a full body envelopment. Then she shifted her body weight to wrestle the creature to the ground and pin it while thinking soothing thoughts at it to help calm it down.

    It was an extremely practiced and precise takedown, and it should be - Djinn bombs had been infuriatingly common ever since the Goblin Princess had visited the city and started the trend, and no prizes for guessing if rampaging Djinn counted as a 'princess problem' or not.

    [Overcome: 10]

    So let's think about soothing thoughts.

    Soothing to Princess Adila is sitting in a quiet room, shoulder to shoulder with fellow Watchers in the Palatine Cobbler amphitheatre, listening to the clockmasters argue. Each of them has come prepared with stacks of books and piles of evidence, but they are experienced hands at this and don't need them. They stalk and circle each other around the stage, following the secret language of debate - drawing closer when they agree, and moving farther apart when they dissent. They talk about the flight paths of birds and the thefts of jewels and the ringing of bells - declaring that these things are causally linked and those things are merely coincidence. They dispute sources and condemn lazy scholarship and demand citations. Each week is a combination of old arguments and new, and how new evidence re-opens matters once considered settled. It's science, it's theatre, it's a sermon with two preachers in harmonious opposition. And then afterwards, as the faithful leave the hall, she argues in turn with her friends about which of the masters they found more convincing on that day.

    She thinks about days off work, when the only purse she has to guard is her own. It's an eminently freeing release from responsibilities, only made possible because the Watch made it a crime for an off-duty officer to do police work. Knowing that she is literally barred from having to solve everybody else's problems means that she can spend the day unwinding from a long and stressful week without guilt. She can spend the afternoon lounging in the sun on the top of the Brightball Colosseum and watching the flowing moves of play. She can dip under the water of the bay and dredge the harbour-bed for treasures - and people are always dumping things overboard to avoid inspections so there are always treasures to be found. She can curl up in one of the many gardens with books of adventure and romance. She can spend the afternoon in productive argument, using all the techniques she learned from the clockmasters to engage in a four-hour bout of haggling that winds up with her buying something she wanted for almost nothing on the condition that she also buys a bunch of other things that she didn't need and would need to trade on somehow during her next negotiation. She can meet up with her colleagues and friends and go drinking in the park where there's nothing around for an inebriated dragon to crash into and sleep it off under summer stars.

    There were so many wonderful ways to spend an afternoon in the Bazaar. Did you really want to spend it in a jail cell instead?
    Last edited by Thanqol; 2019-07-08 at 11:30 PM.
    If the sun won't rise on our horizon
    We'll march on to spite the skies.

  2. - Top - End - #242
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post

    Kazelia!

    Well, that’s one way to start a panic. People are screaming, mercenaries are closing ranks in case this is a distraction to raid the ships they guard, Brill’s yelling something behind you, and the gal you saw is legging it like there’s no tomorrow.

    If you let the rascal get away, you won’t know why they just did that! But there’s an angry sea-djinn whose lower body is all smoky stormy tentacles trying to beat up Adila, and we all know that hurting your friends is a good way to get in trouble. But is it really the sea-djinn’s fault? You’ve got a choice to make here, and no mistake.
    Obviously she's going to catch the girl and help Adila. All Kazelia needs is her...Oh void damn it, where was her horse? She remembered them unloading Shiva, but the girl was nowhere to be found, and didn't seem to be flying anywhere. Ugh, with all those sparkly crystal wings, they must have assumed she was Illuminan and taken her to the house of hospitality. Great, just great. Kazelia furrowed her brow in what was clearly the most extreme annoyance, had it not been hidden behind her black and red demon mask.

    Adila was already bounding off though, and she had been told in no uncertain terms that the best way to protect her friend was to not get in her way. So, she would catch the girl and show her dragon guard friend that she could help with an interrogation and, well, it would be too much to imagine Kazelia having a mental image of her and Adila skipping through a field of restored Illuminan flowers together, for many reasons, but let it be understood that Kazelia vaguely thought Adila would like her better in some indeterminate way if she caught the escaping girl. Also, Adila would get all the healing magic after this, for sure.

    But anyway, escaping girl! Unlike in the fog bank, Kazelia can see now! And that means she's going to start sprinting after the girl and she's also going to throw an icy hand in the girl's way. She's a bit bigger than an Eska brand scarab, but all Kazelia needs is to slow her down with a solid push against the direction she's trying to run, maybe trip her up and get in her way and that will do the trick.

    [I'm not sure whether this is overcome or keep her busy. But I rolled an unmodified 7, so it only matters as to whether there's a price now or consequences later. You tell me.]
    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 - #243
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    "It's you, it's you, it's you," huffs a very good girl without the slightest hint of irony in her voice, "You're my queen~"

    River, rivers, rivers, yes! Kiss her, kiss her anywhere, find a spot, she's not picky! There and there and there and there! Alina's breathing hard. She squeaks as she's lifted into the air. She's gasping, squirming, her lips are pursing. This is the moment. This is where it gets good. This is where the stress of the Slaugh finally washes away. This is where she starts making the kinds of noises that will get her scolded. This is where she'll smile impishly and say without saying she's doing it on purpose. This is where she takes her legs and wraps them around that perfect waist. Squeeze her tight, pull her close, kiss her kiss her kiss her, kiss her until silks start coming loose, until she comes up for air to say something clever and carry her off to a room and a bed and--

    This is where she's interrupted. Stopping hurts more than the impact of landing in a pile on the floor. Her ponytail is half fallen out. She's completely out of breath. There's lipstick in places she has no good explanation for, if someone were rude enough to ask about it. And her hands are tied behind her with a scarf. Not... how she'd choose to meet the King of the Bazaar again. Wait, that jerk! What's he even--

    "Are you kidding me?!" Alina shrieks with a voice full of Royal Fury.

    She rolls forward onto her feet and stomps up into the middle of the forming duel and glares at the King and his stupid, stupid mask with so much anger it's a wonder he doesn't catch fire on the spot. Speaking of flames, hers is making an appearance wrapped around a jewel across her neck. There's little bits of flickering red light around her arms. She's seconds away from Kaja-ing one of his knights and nuts to the consequences.

    "Do you have any idea how long it's been since someone's held me like that? Do you know what you just did?! You ruined it! You ruined the perfect evening! I had everything planned out, and now... a-a-and now! Just how, pray tell, are you planning on paying for this?"

  4. - Top - End - #244
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Kazelia!

    You go diving into the streets of the Bazaar after the fleet-footed saboteur. She would like nothing better than to get up and away into the maze of ropes and bridges slung between buildings, which gets thicker the deeper into the Bazaar you go. Once up there, she’d be able to vanish like a shadow at noon. It is for this reason that you do not let her.

    Handholds freeze over. Ropes snap as she clambers up on them. Ghostly ice-hands grab at her and tug her off balance. Once, she manages to get up atop a roof, working as hard as she can, and a silvery lasso of magic and jewelry flies up around her shoulders and yanks her right off; but even then, she pulls it out of your hands with a sprightly little twist of her body, and tosses it into the crowd, where it comes apart and vanishes into various purses and pockets quick as a wink. She is very, very good at scampering.

    And there are consequences. Not from her, bless her, she’s all scamper and no bite, but you are showing off your power heedless of who sees you; and you are seen. Heads turn. Some are close enough to see through the eye-holes of your mask and see nothing within but endless night. I think— it is known that you are here, now, or at the very least that there is a Rider witch on the streets. Which may be dangerous, later.

    But for now, the lass turns a corner, ducks and rolls, and pops up gasping and glowing and... right back where she started, in front of Adila.

    Like the master huntress you are, you hounded your quarry into the waiting jaws of a trap.

    ***

    Adila!

    “I think they like you,” Brill says, patting one inky tentacle wrapped around your flank. It’s like getting the biggest, slimiest hug ever. The sea-djinn has nestled their face somewhere around where your left wing meets your body, and is very, very calm. And, naturally, has reacted to this calm by spreading their tentacles aaaaaaall over. I think one’s trying to get in your nose, even. In a friendly sort of way.

    But you have saved everybody! Congratulations! The Watch patrol has made a cordon around you, and Brill and Mimsley are right by your side. “Wow,” Mimsley breathes, glowing, “you’re amazing, officer princess.”

    And right on cue, Scampering Jeni comes rocketing back into the square where you started, and then backpedal right into Kazelia’s waiting arms. She gulps.

    “H-hiya, copper. You seen my twin sister Janna anywhere about? She’s probably up to mischief or the like.”

    ***

    Alina!

    Well! That’s one way to stop a duel. The King actually takes a reflexive step back, raising his hands.

    “Sisters,” he says, imploringly, “I’ll be out of your hair. Just got to take this one back home, is all.”

    “Touch her and I will remove that hand,” Rhyza says, scary calm.

    “We very much do not have time for this. Please go back to the kissing. Promise I won’t tell anyone.” The King picks up Juniper Blue and starts bounding up, and as promised, Rhyza goes after him scary fast, one jump behind him the whole way.

    The knights start trying to impede her, but she is a one-woman army right now, and there goes the woman you really would like to spend the rest of the evening with, and you can follow along into a running battle along the rooftops or you can sit here and cry about it until a very bemused Watch shows up, but—

    If I know anything about Alina Cascade, it’s that it’s not even really a choice at all.
    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 - #245
    Colossus in the Playground
     
    Thanqol's Avatar

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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    Adila!

    “I think they like you,” Brill says, patting one inky tentacle wrapped around your flank. It’s like getting the biggest, slimiest hug ever. The sea-djinn has nestled their face somewhere around where your left wing meets your body, and is very, very calm. And, naturally, has reacted to this calm by spreading their tentacles aaaaaaall over. I think one’s trying to get in your nose, even. In a friendly sort of way.

    But you have saved everybody! Congratulations! The Watch patrol has made a cordon around you, and Brill and Mimsley are right by your side. “Wow,” Mimsley breathes, glowing, “you’re amazing, officer princess.”

    And right on cue, Scampering Jeni comes rocketing back into the square where you started, and then backpedal right into Kazelia’s waiting arms. She gulps.

    “H-hiya, copper. You seen my twin sister Janna anywhere about? She’s probably up to mischief or the like.”
    Princess Adila was determined to keep things friendly with the djinn, so she extracted herself from the pin before it turned awkward. She was fairly certain the last time she had been in the Bazaar she hadn't broadcast embarrassing thoughts, embraced a tentacle monster and wound up covered in slime before noon. Princess Alina must be rubbing off on her - oh gosh that wasn't the way to phrase that. Focus! You're still on duty, officer!

    +Thank you, officer Mimsley. I suggest taking the djinn here on a walk and talk her through some of the more common tricks people use to capture them,+ thought Princess Adila, awkwardly buffing the wetness from the front of her scales with her blanket. That would probably work out just fine.

    Then she lowered her head down to face Scampering Jeni directly. Her dragon eyes glowed bright and gold and there was a bit more severity behind her thoughts this time. +Well then, Jeni, I hear that your twin sister is in serious trouble. Someone put her up to an attack on the Watch would you believe? We need to find that terrible person and lock them up before they get any more girls in serious trouble.+
    Last edited by Thanqol; 2019-07-09 at 03:12 AM.
    If the sun won't rise on our horizon
    We'll march on to spite the skies.

  6. - Top - End - #246
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    You're darned right it's not a choice! Her date's fighting a crazy rooftop battle with an old friendquaintence! She's hooked her way up to the rooftop and is following along behind the bedlam before you've even finished working out whether or not that's a word. Call her a crybaby, call her weak or stupid, insist she has a cold and force feed her soup for an entire boat ride. She's Princess Alina Cascade, and there's never been a high octane rooftop battle chase that was too fast for her.

    A shy, clingy barmaid swings her way across the side of several buildings on very sneaky strands of orange, then green and then blue light. She swings up, kicks her legs together and comes sailing from an impossible angle to fly over the top of her extremely fearsome date. Her dragonfire gem is unmistakably burning on her neck now. You can't miss the ribbons of red light twisting up and down her arms now. Especially not as she lands hands-first on the shoulders of the Knight who's come closest to landing a blow on Rhyza. She grabs him by the shirt, and yanks for all she's worth while she finishes her flip, and... whoops! She watches the poor guy turn into a sparkle on the horizon. Well, at least the harbor's over that way? Be a little more careful this time!

    She twirls back into the melee and grabs another knight by the wrist. Her feet are light and dancing with her new partner in circles. Round and round, round and round, until she's got a second one by the elbow and her spin's suddenly got more heft than it should, and then suddenly it's really less of a rooftop fight and more of a straight up race against the King of the Bazaar. She smiles at him from underneath her veil and has to resist the urge to ask him whether or not those were his. That would give away the game a little too much.

    He stops. She stops. And no amount of dragon fire is enough to let Alina loom over anybody, nor is she particularly the looming type. So in fact, no looming or leering of any kind takes place. But she's got him beat and she's feeling really good about it, so she does take the time to turn and give Rhyza a cute and timid little wave. Soon, "queen". Soon. And that's exactly the moment when she feels the electricity shoot up her back and gracefully flops over into the King's waiting arm.

    "I did ask you to go back to your kissing, sister." he chides with a shake of his head.

    "Mmph." agrees Alina.

    [The classic roll a 4 on Get Away but do cool looking things anyway so long as you neither arrive at your destination unharmed, unseen, or with a person of your choosing]
    Last edited by PhoeKun; 2019-07-10 at 12:56 PM.

  7. - Top - End - #247
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Kazelia pulls up behind Jeni, or Janna, whatever he name was. The scamp had given her a thorough chase, she was faster than most Riders and obviously knew these streets like the back of her hand, and it had taken a lot of ice magic to maneuver her around into a circle without her realizing it. Adila seemed to have a good idea what to do here though, so Kazelia mostly stood to the side, acting as a blocker if little Jeni tried to bolt again or anything, making it clear that talking to Adila was the quickest way for her to get out of this situation. Though, she couldn't entirely suppress her laugh when she saw the big dragon covered with slime and extracting herself from the djinn's tentacles. "I didn't realize Jedad had such slippery fashion trends" she says before she can stop herself, then looks very chagrined. That hadn't been nice, and Adila was busy thinking at the girl right now, so she takes a step back to create some more room.

    She glances over at detective Brill instead, who hadn't gone far (he certainly wasn't as fast a runner as Kazelia was, even on his best day) and then at the alleys behind them, full of shops and stalls, and colorful buildings with those big swirly windows that people can easily look out from, now also iced over and wet in a few spots as the ice melted in the heat. "Think I went a little too far?" she asks him, to make conversation and cover up her nervousness. She really should have thought this through better, this was probably just a random prank on the Watch with a little too much edge to it and here she had gone and broadcast herself all over Jedad, not to mention to every one of her siblings within miles, and with no idea what she had gotten herself. But darn it, she just wanted to be useful, and she had caught the criminal. She tried to lean back in to hear what Jeni was saying to Adila.
    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)

  8. - Top - End - #248
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Adila!

    “O-oh,” Scampering Jeni says. “I’ll be sure to let her know. When I catch up to her. That she should just lay low and stay out of it.”

    “The problem,” Mimsley says, catching up to you, “is kinda that we know who. We just don’t know where, because go-betweens, and we sure as heck don’t know why.”

    “Oh, because you’re gonna doom the Bazaar,” Scampering Jeni says with a shrug. “Everybody knows. At least that’s what Janna told me. She’s all into that dangerous rooftop life, not like me, a very law-abiding person who’s not in trouble.”

    The nerve of this gal!

    Anyhow. I think what comes next is that you go looking for answers, yeah? Right up at the top, from the one person who’s guaranteed to have them.

    What’s the HQ like? Where is it? And when you show up, where’s the Captain going to meet you for a briefing?

    ***

    Kazelia!

    Brill blinks for dramatic effect, right at your face. “Uh, yeah. A little bit. Whatever’s going on, Jenni here’s small fry. She doesn’t even have enough money to pay fines.” The way he says it suggests that the fines levied never end up back in the Watch’s treasury. “But, you know, it’s whatever. I’m sure you don’t need all the magic you just splashed around or anything.”

    Underneath his careful devil-may-care nonchalance, you can tell that Brill seems a little rattled. This isn’t at all what he expected, coming back to the Bazaar.

    “But, hey. Switch out your mask, put on something with a little less stomach, and you’ll be invisible again. That’s the nice thing about Carnival, you know? You can vanish, just like everybody else.”

    That’s something I don’t think you’d considered yet. If Adila ends up having to look for someone, it might prove very difficult, especially as you get closer to Carnival.

    Though, if the city’s in danger... why are they still gearing up for Carnival? Wouldn’t it be more practical to cancel it, or postpone it at the very least?

    (The answer to that, of course, being “the Bazaar doesn’t choose when Carnival happens.”)

    ***

    Rhyza!

    Let’s take this slow.

    The King of the Bazaar twists in midair, Juniper Blue’s pale hair flowing behind him like a cape. He’s bringing his hand up, lightning arcing between his fingers, but he’s also trying to back up in midair, because you’ve got him.

    Your saber glints in the setting sun; it’s almost cutting the air itself as the edge shears through one of the King’s coat buttons, string by string. Your wrath burns furious in your eyes, almost leaving an afterimage in your wake.

    How dare he? If anyone is going to be a thorn in Juniper’s side, it’s going to be you, dammit! You have best friend privileges!

    The bolt goes off, roaring past your ear, a stray arc incinerating three hairs off your forehead. It narrowly misses the glowing barmaid streaking past you, and a little part of you is freaking out and stamping her feet going WHAAAAAAAT?

    You just kissed a princess. Like an actual honest-to-goodness princess. Was she into— okay unless she is the best actor in all Hyperborea she was into it. A lot. Which means. A princess. Was into you.

    ...

    Darn straight she was! You are the best. Of course! Haha! This is the only way to process this information without becoming absolutely useless! Of course you are the best and of course you are going to win this and save your BFF.

    Your saber reaches the end of its swing. Already, you’re using the momentum to bring it into the next angle of attack. Before you, the King reaches out with his other hand and his fingers grasp for the rope that he knows will be there.

    Let’s speed up.

    Now, your attacks are a furious blur, as you continually adjust your position on the rooftops in order to have the footing to follow and to avoid the lightning bolts shooting from your adversary’s hands. Again and again you clash in mid-air in a frenzy, and then fall apart to different platforms and bridges, always in motion, always running, leaping, engaging, disengaging.

    Then he leaps atop a clock-shrine’s tiled roof, where the princess already is; she flashes you the cutest little wave and your heart leaps into your throat because you can see him reach out to touch the small of her exposed back.

    She crumples, and you come to a halt, blade held out in front of you, three impossible steps away from ending him. Because he needs Juniper Blue, for whatever reason... but he doesn’t need that little princess. And he saw you kiss her. And if you attack him, kick him to the ground and stab him and teach him never to mess with Juniper again... he’ll hurt her first.

    And you would never. ever. by your honor. allow such a thing to happen.

    With a disgusted grunt, you toss aside your sword. His minions are on you in the space of a moment, trussing your wrists tight behind you, asking him if they should leave you dangling upside down from the roofs.

    “Nah,” he says, running a shaking, sweaty hand through his hair. “I respect game. And besides, I want to know their deal, now.”

    The last thing you see before one of his pathetic little rooftop rats pulls a sack over your head is your little barmaid princess, feebly trembling in the bastard’s arms, beside your helpless BFF.

    Which, if we’re being honest, sucks.

    Alina!

    So! Here’s a question for you to consider, princess!

    Where’s the lair of the King of the Bazaar tonight? And when Juniper Blue comes to, ready to be interrogated, in what condition does she find you and Rhyza, like two peas in a pod?
    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 - #249
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    "It's not, um, it's not something that runs out. I just have ice powers, I can't really make them stronger either, but they just are what they are. I just wish I'd made a scene for something more useful, if you all already knew about this, I didn't need to waste my outfit." Still, there was something she wanted to ask the girl. "So, uh, if everybody knows that the watch is going to doom the bazaar, where did they find out?" It's a simple enough question, they weren't crying it from the street corners and it wasn't like somebody had put up posters saying "the Watch will doom the Bazaar, come to our tea shop and order two sets of Oolong to learn more!" So where did Jeni and everyone else find out about this from?

    Once that's done, she goes back to take Brill's advice. Kazelia is wearing a mask, so her face doesn't show much of anything, but behind the mask she huffs, and you'd get the impression that she really likes the outfit that she decided on wearing. She'll take Brill's advice though, find a nearby stall, doesn't really matter if it saw her or not, and pick out a simple mask, just black and white in a four square alternating checker pattern, along with a basic, single-color Jedadi silk in a teal that matches the buildings. It's still highly translucent, but it's close enough to her skin color that it won't stand out, people will just think they're seeing her through a darker the silk, not that she's naturally blue. She uses the back of the stall to change and moves on, flowing back into the Bazaar towards her friends.

    Adila: are you willing to take Kazelia with you on this investigation? Or does she need to find something else to do?
    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)

  10. - Top - End - #250
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    Adila!

    “O-oh,” Scampering Jeni says. “I’ll be sure to let her know. When I catch up to her. That she should just lay low and stay out of it.”

    “The problem,” Mimsley says, catching up to you, “is kinda that we know who. We just don’t know where, because go-betweens, and we sure as heck don’t know why.”

    “Oh, because you’re gonna doom the Bazaar,” Scampering Jeni says with a shrug. “Everybody knows. At least that’s what Janna told me. She’s all into that dangerous rooftop life, not like me, a very law-abiding person who’s not in trouble.”

    The nerve of this gal!

    Anyhow. I think what comes next is that you go looking for answers, yeah? Right up at the top, from the one person who’s guaranteed to have them.
    That's when it actually sank in for Princess Adila. She'd always prided herself on knowing the rhythm of the streets - on being able to smell trouble on the horizon and get a sense for what was about to happen as good as any set of boots on the force. But now she was out of sync. She'd lost track of the city's motions and now she was actually a little bit of a stranger here.

    For a moment it hurt.

    She shook her head to clear it, using the motion of cleaning more slime off her scales to hide a little sniff. Then she focused in again. She just needed to be briefed and then she'd be back up to speed. A quick report to the Captain and then she'd be home again. +Fine. In that case, Jeni, I know just the way to keep you out of trouble. You'll take this djinn that your sister unfairly tricked and take it on that walk around the Bazaar I was talking about. You'll teach it all the ways that people like to trick djinns, and since I know that you are very clever you'll teach it better than anyone - and if it winds up captured again I'll hold your training responsible. And you will also make sure your sister apologizes to it for the trouble. Am I clear?+

    Quote Originally Posted by Anarion View Post
    Adila: are you willing to take Kazelia with you on this investigation? Or does she need to find something else to do?
    She then looked over at Kazelia and a couple of thoughts rippled through her head. She'd noted the twitchy look she had thrown when Alina was being carried off earlier. She'd also noted her decision not to act on it - mostly. She'd just gone after a crook on her own, something the Watch normally disapproved of, and thrown around a lot of magic while so doing - but she'd been restrained and just directed Jeni back here. She tapped a foreclaw thoughtfully. This was serious Watch business and it was already going to be a part time job just keeping a newbie to the Bazaar from getting robbed blind. But...

    Above all, she thought, Kazelia was really trying. She could see an edge of vulnerability there and it'd be outright mean to rip that away from her. She resolved herself. If the Captain overruled her, so be it, but until that meeting the decision was in her claws and she wouldn't turn the Rider Princess away.

    +Princess Kazelia of the Riders, I hereby deputize you under my authority as an auxiliary member of the Watch,+ thought Princess Adila, producing a little emergency emerald pin from her bag. +Do you swear to uphold the Praiseworthy Articles of War and Peace? Do you swear to act in unison with the Watch and follow the commands of its full members? Do you swear to protect the people and property of the Bazaar? If you swear to these things then my standing is your standing, my honour is your honour, and my authority is your authority until you are released from service.+

    This was the formal version. The informal version - which was explicitly authorized in the Operations Manual for emergencies - went more like 'You bastards have been drafted and I'll thump you if complain'. That version was generally more popular.

    What’s the HQ like? Where is it? And when you show up, where’s the Captain going to meet you for a briefing?
    The Watch originally moved into the half-completed Pyramid of the Eternal Blades after they took the city. It was a regal structure that any other army would have been proud to have conquered, but the Watch are traditionalists. They deconstructed the pyramid with the same relentless efficiency that they knocked down shrines and impractically beautiful castles during their campaigns and rebuilt it into a standard-issue Watch Fortress.

    A Watch Fortress is designed to go from zero to defensible in two days work, and continue expanding and becoming more and more defensible indefinitely. One day every week each Watch officer is put on garrison duty which entails construction, cleaning, maintenance and training. Over a hundred years of constant work and effort from some of Hyperborea's foremost military minds - paired with easy access to vast wealth and cheap djinn labour - well...

    They might have overdone it just a tad.

    Only a few armies have ever had the gumption to besiege Hobling Keep, and the Watch evidently was impressed enough by what they saw there to copy many of the Goblin Queen's defensive arrangements. The structure can open up or close down like a puzzle box and in its full defensive splendor it towers over the Bazaar in a way that residents describe as 'kinda evil looking'. The interior is filled with localized strongpoints, sally ports, hidden passages, strategic demolitions points, eathern ramparts, retreat lines. The only things that keep it from being a true peer to Hobling Keep is the Watch's distaste (as opposed to maniacal enthusiasm) for nasty traps and not having a direct line to the most ingenious Princess-tinkerers in Hyperborea.

    The defensive preparations are more for theory, tradition and practice (and telling the Queen of Jedad not to get any ideas) than any real expectation that the Fortress will come under siege. Most of the Watch clusters in the outer keep around the main gate where concessions are made to friendliness, liveability and practicality. This involves a short wall that mostly exists to deflect cannon/laser fire from the main structure, an open field with lots of sudden sharp drops that has mostly been given over to vegetable patches and a small grove of apricot trees, comfortable and well lived in barracks, offices, drunk tanks, even a couple of on base vendor stalls. It's a warm and inviting place, like a cozy little village outside an uninhabited and haunted castle.

    Meeting the Captain often means going into the fortifications proper. Not because she's an isolated crank - on the contrary, she comes down and spends time with the rank and file regularly. But the library, the treasury, the courthouse, the serious prisoners and monster containment, the strategy room and the Watch's old armoury are all in the central keep and these are the places that demand the most of her attention. If she meets you outside in the village then that's one kind of conversation, and usually a regular and mundane one - regular praise or reprimands, requests for leave, so on. If she calls you into the inner keep then things are serious - a trial, an anti-Princess operation, sounding people out for promotions and so on.

    Princess Adila fully expects that given the current atmosphere she's going to be called into the inner keep. She's not particularly thrilled about it. Every time that's happened it's been the start of something scary - planning a takedown on a dangerous princess, an assault on a crime family... or most recently, a polite exile.

    But the one upside is that everything in the inner keep is large enough for her to move around in comfortably. And it was built that way before she was even hatched.
    Last edited by Thanqol; 2019-07-10 at 07:30 AM.
    If the sun won't rise on our horizon
    We'll march on to spite the skies.

  11. - Top - End - #251
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Well hello there, Juniper Blue! Welcome back to the land of waking, hope you're doing well. What's that? Oh, you're still groggy. Then allow me to set the stage for you, and then you can just go ahead and do your thing, if you wouldn't mind overly much.

    Now, first thing you're gonna notice is that you're (and that's the plural 'you', we'll get there in a second) in an abandoned silk warehouse. You can tell it's abandoned because tiles on the walls are showing a fair bit of crack these days, and the way most everything is covered in a layer of dust. Which just wouldn't happen if this place were still servicing the very much booming right now Jedadi silk industry. Maybe the owner got in a fight or maybe they've only got it for tax purposes. Whatever that means. Or maybe it's just that it's been used as a bandit hideout so many times that nobody wants anything decent to do with it anymore. It's not for me to say, and stop getting distracted. Right, now where were we? Oh yeah. Over there against the wall you can still see rolls and rolls of that wonderful sheer fabric. It doesn't look like the moths or suchlike have gotten to it much at all; from where you're sitting everything actually looks pretty pristine. It's just badly faded, is all. All that vibrant color sucked away by time, and now the poor material looks a month or two away from practically being Illuminan, which... ew, gross. Which, actually hold on a second. Maybe it is Illuminan silk. Those idiots don't know the first thing about fashion and -- yeah, yeah. Ok, you're pretty sure you know why this place is abandoned now.

    But let's stay focused. Now that you're done noticing silks, next thing you're gonna come to realize is that, dusty and drab as this place is it's also unreasonably comfortable. Like, first off, there are way more pillows in here than an abandoned silk warehouse strictly requires. Most of the floor is just pillow, in fact. There's piles of them all about, and over yonder it looks like somebody started building a fort. They must have been clearing away space for the tables, which now that you mention it there are rather a lot of those here too. Nice ones, too. Got a real fine finish to them. Which you can see very well, because for a dingy, dusty warehouse that nobody's used in years there are a lot of candles lit all over the place. Incense too, burning thick enough that the whole place has this hazy, dreamy quality about it.

    And, uh, if we're being honest? The more you look around you the less it seems like this is an abandoned silk warehouse at all. It's really more of a... hm. A sex dungeon? Yeah, there's some definite sex dungeon vibes going on in here. Maybe there wouldn't be normally? You're not exactly an expert. But right now there's no other way to describe it, on account of what's happening up against that wall over there. The tall redhead is unmistakably your good friend Rhyza Sussari, who's got her arms lashed together and held up over her head by a chain dangling from the ceiling. They've got her sitting cross legged on a very plush looking pillow, so at least she's not uncomfortable. But neither is she going anywhere any time soon. Snuggled up in her lap is a very pretty girl you don't recognize but who's also probably not responsible for this because she's tied up much the same as Rhyza is. In fact, they've got them lashed together, which is smart because it's much harder to break out of ropes or scarves or other sorts of wrappings when you've got the weight of another person up against you. Much less when you're bound such that your chest is squished up into hers and your face is held so that it's inches away from hers and your veils keep brushing together and-- see what I mean about the sex dungeon thing?

    The smaller girl is wriggling a bit in spite of how stuck she is, but she's not... ah, that's the trick. Poor thing. They've got her wrapped up in a rope viper. Now, normally your average work-a-day Jedadi rope viper is a vicious, ornery little thing. Their MO is hiss hiss, bite bite bite, hiss again as a warning, then bite you again while also trying to strangle you for good measure. They hate the city and keep well clear of it if they can help it. But the trick is, if you can manage to tame one you will never have a more inescapable binding. Imagine a rope that can tie its own knots, or move them on you and rebind if you ever get too close to untangling it. It's the rope that slithers and tickles and distracts. And the weird thing is, when they do get around a person like that they tend to go really quiet and content-like. So they're really not in any danger, just so long as nobody makes any sudden movements, but good luck getting out of that one, sister. Ooh, it's pressing its tail against her mouth. That means it likes her! Poor thing must be blushing herself half to death over there.

    Anyway there you are. That's the scene. Feel a little more with it? Good. But don't forget there's bandits here, and even the King of the Bazaar. You're being interrogated, Juniper Blue! It's your scene, you're up next. Have fun!

  12. - Top - End - #252
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Kazelia, Adila!

    "Sure thing," Scampering Jenni says, offering you a clumsy facsimile of a Watch salute. Like, she's not even mean about it! She just has one mode and it is Full Scrappy. "I'll make sure it never falls for another bottle, rest assured!" Then, before she can swan off with the sea-djinn, there’s the question from Kazelia: how did she find out about the whole “doom the city” thing?

    "It's running through the rooftops like wildfire. Something about the whole Jedadi blockade, and Alina Cassie being a double agent for the Watch." She shrugs the shrug of someone for whom politics are a happy accident. "And, I mean... no offense, but some of you are really licking their boots, I said no offense so you can't get mad, those are the rules." She gives the spunkiest little grin. "Try not to get bushwacked on your way there! I-- I mean, Janna saw somebody trying to get a great big dragon-knocker up on the roofs near Cotton Street!"

    Woof. A dragon-knocker's a great big log with bronze or iron fittings, designed to put a crimp in certain Watch princesses when you swing it down off a high place into their ribs or face. It's only been used a few times, usually when a family's had advance warning of the Watch showing up. Looks like Adila's return is already being compensated for by the other side of this simmering civil war within the Bazaar.

    So, uh. Maybe avoid Cotton Street on your way there.

    ***

    Adila!

    Here's the thing: the Fortress of the Bazaar has certain staffing requirements and minimums. A fortification of this size requires regular patrols, even beyond normal garrison duty. Otherwise, you get things like the "Mouse Hole Incident" in which a rooftop gang ended up operating out of one of the northwest watchtowers for three months. The larger the fortress gets, the more necessary this becomes. And what with the incident down at the docks, you'd normally expect for there to be all hands on deck here, watching gates and being in regular contact with other patrols and showing a strong face to the city.

    Instead? There is a skeleton crew. I mean, not a literal crew of skeletons, I mean a ridiculously small amount of people. It's possible that the women you see on garrison today might be able to handle... maybe sixty percent of the bare minimum requirements? But they are running themselves ragged, they're going to miss something inevitably, and it's three minutes before someone comes and opens up the outer gate for you, despite your knocking and telepathic broadcasts that, hey, you’re back. This suggests that the safety and impregnability of the Watch Fortress itself is coming second in the calculus of command. There are very, very few scenarios in which the safety-conscious, always-think-things-through Watch makes that choice.

    Like, say, if failure outside these walls would render the safety they provide null and void.

    As you make your way through the outer encampment, there's nobody able to stop and talk to the four of you: you, your new deputy, Mimsley, and Brill, who's lagging in your shadow and trying to look like he's too busy to get drafted to do anything else. You come home, and suddenly it stops looking like home any more. (But, hey, at least you're not Alina, right? Don't imagine the barracks and the gardens frozen in ice, this lovely little village where you were born and raised empty and ruined... because that's what's waiting for her back home.)

    (If you don't get your scaly butt in gear, worse still is going to happen.)

    When you get close to the great gate of the inner keep on the other side of the encampment, the huge double doors swing open noiselessly. The Captain's got access to certain... let's call them triggers. Clearly, you're expected, darling. And then it's just a matter of padding down those great big corridors, each one so richly decorated in the various shades of black that stand out like reds against blues to your familiar eyes.

    In the antechamber of the Great Hall, there's a welcoming party waiting for you. On the left side of the room, in their blacks and tough boots, there's half a dozen of the watch's oldest and most crotchety, led by Brookley herself. She gives you a nod, almost keeping a professional coolness, but she can't hide the crooked little tweak of her lip upwards as she looks you up and down. "Captain's ready for you," she says, crisply. Like a river in first thaw, she always got more sharp and clear when you turned the heat up on her; her blue eyes are unflinching. Behind her are the watch's own grandmothers, metaphorically speaking, from all over the world, skins tanned and hardened by the sun and scarred from various street brawls; from Ojaa, her grey hair in lazy bloom, to Thumper, her electric blue hair close-cropped to the skull, to Newt, whose beatific smile belies the pounds upon pounds of muscle packed into her uniform.

    On the right side of the room... well. Maybe it's because Scampering Jenni already primed you for Jedad being an Issue today. But there's three of Shazari's courtiers there, too, looking like greyhounds ready for the hunt, all hair decorations and veils and giving Kazelia looks like she's a choice hunk of meat to tear apart the moment they're left alone.

    "As I was saying," Ojaa continues, taking point for Brookley, "you really do have to wait. Captain's orders."

    "No need to apologize," the lead greyhound says. "We'll be happy to wait out here."

    "Mimsley, stay out here with the civvie," Ojaa then says. "Help her root."

    "Auxiliary member," Mimsley mumbles, but it's really no use; there's an inner circle and an outer one, and Mimsley and Kazelia aren't part of the old guard. How this is going to shake out is you going in to meet the Captain, and Kazelia... hopefully not getting her self-esteem shredded waiting with these snakes.

    ***

    Kazelia!

    bad place bad place this is a bad place

    Maybe Azora's got some spell lingering over this place. Maybe she's watching you from a tower right now. Maybe it's just the looming shadow the inner keep casts. Whatever it is, it is taking all of your willpower to put one foot in front of the other and not draw your lance and find a corner to back into. How can Adila not feel this? You are walking into the wolf's waiting jaws!

    Any moment. Any moment now, you're going to turn around, and it's going to be Azora there, ready to duel you with magic, and she'll win, and in the process she'll blight all those cute little vegetable gardens and turn Adila's scales old and white and crusty and tear all the heat and light away from this place. Or, no, it'll be Morgina, and she'll hit you right in the kidney and dig her claws into Adila's neck and grow new mouths for biting Brill and-- or, no, it'll be your father himself, and you'll go for your music box but he'll hit you so hard your head rings and you can't keep your balance, and then he'll draw his sword and he'll hurt Adila and you won't be able to stop him and he'll drag you back home by your hair and and and

    Cool. Cool and dark. The keep is a little... homely. Maybe it makes you uncomfortable that being in a place like this is comfortable despite yourself, despite your fears. Maybe uncomfortable enough that you miss the contemptuous looks that the Jedadi women give you, or that you're not expected to walk in after Adila. Maybe you'll make a fool of yourself. Or maybe not! Maybe that breath of cool air is what you need to calm your pounding heart.

    ***

    Juniper Blue!

    Well, your back is all sore. The most sore. So is your front. Actually, all of you is the most sore. This is worse than the time you got ambitious and decided to try and beat Adila’s exercise records. (Spoiler: you did not.) You close your eyes and let your head roll back and groan like your soul is escaping your body.

    “Morning, princess,” Rhyza says from off to your left. Stressed, but trying very hard not to show it. “Had a nice nap?”

    “shut uuup,” you wittily mumble out of numb lips.

    “Don’t give them ideas.” Them. Right. Toll and chime! On cue, the King looms into view before you, taking a chair and turning it around so that he can sit on it with his arms resting on the back.

    “Assaulting an officer of the Watch is a grand felony,” you manage to say through your headache. “With additional penalties for doing so during a state of emergency.”

    “Yeah, well.” The King reaches up and slowly unwinds the scarf from round his neck, lets it fall in lazy coils, then tosses it into your lap. He bares his neck, and you can see the vivid silver scars there, strongly contrasting against his rich black skin. “As the proverb goes, sister: you aim at the King, you best not miss.”

    “I have no idea what you are talking about.” Your head is spinning. Is this why he never showed up to the rendezvous? “We need your help, King, why in the world would we attack you?”

    “Here’s a thought,” the King says, languidly, but with an undercurrent of cold fury. You can almost feel Rhyza trying to tear out of the ropes on the other side of the room so she can roundhouse kick him in the face. “If Jedad saved the city from certain destruction, we’d all be so grateful. Grateful enough to hand over the city officially. And your Watch is scouring the city, except you’re playing Find the Queen. You’re not going to find your lost heart because it stays in your pocket the whole time. The only risk is if someone rumbles you, figures out your game. Like the best thief in Jedad, maybe. So you send a message for a meet, and then, you snuff him out.”

    “No,” you say, horrified. If you could stand up, you would. “Your highness, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

    “Well, then, I’m sure you won’t mind me going and having a look around the place,” he says, breaking into a grin. “Wanna help me plan the trip, sister?” He leans in close enough that you can smell his perfume, which is actually really nice. “I’m sure Rhyza would really appreciate it.”

    ***

    Alina!

    So the really frustrating thing is that you’re facing away from this tense conversation, and have to watch Rhyza’s face to get the play-by-play reactions. You’d try to twist and look over your shoulder, but that rope viper is going to pull tight in some interesting places if you do.

    So let’s hit pause. How has your evening been? How close are you to permanently losing brain function due to overheating and flusterment? How comfy is that snake? And, by any chance, do you blame yourself for Rhyza ending up in this mess?
    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.
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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.

  13. - Top - End - #253
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Okay wow things are going fast. Let's back up. First, we are in the street. Adila finishes her oath and Kazelia says "I swear" and she actually blushes a little bit, her cheeks turning that dark indigo color beneath her new mask (nobody can see so it's fine, right? Right). Because Kazelia used to serve and fight for a cause, and she left that cause and felt bitter and betrayed and swore to do something new. And now, Adila trusting her, that's worth being proud of, it's worth saying an oath, even if she doesn't really know all the laws or anything.
    [Adila: Kazelia would like to write down the bond "Kazelia swore to follow Adila's code." Do you agree?]

    Then Jeni/Janna is saying something about rooftop gossip and Kazelia is trying to wrap her head around what kind of people that actually means. Like, was it all urchins just spying around the city? Or those dueling thieves that Adila and Brill had talked about but that Kazelia hadn't seen any of yet? Or were there just little families living on the rooftops above the other families, which honestly wasn't even that weird at all so that was probably it.

    But while Kazelia was thinking about Jedadi rooftop living, she was also marching through the city with Adila, avoiding Cotton Street (she leans over to whisper to Adila "hey, do they actually sell cotton there, or is the street name some kind of joke because of all the silk?) and reaching the fortress.

    Then they reach the fortress of the Watch and every part of Kazelia's body is tense and ready to move on a hair trigger. How does anyone live here?! Her sisters are here, they're here, they're here oh void oh Ourania there's an ambush, there's going to be an ambush somewhere. She can't help herself looking back and forth, trying to get a feel for the layout, looking for the ambush or the illusion. Oh god, was it all an illusion, what if the entire fortress was actually somewhere else and they were inside an illusion right now? "Adila, this place is all wrong! My father's servants are here! I can feel them!"

    Okay, head in the game Kazelia. If this were an illusion, it would be the best illusion ever, like better than that. Inside the keep, they've got all five senses going, she can feel the cool stone around her beneath her feet, she can see the deep dark rock that makes up the fortress, she can hear the sound of footsteps pinging around the space like all the walls are real, and she can smell the military presence, that mix of pressed uniforms, leather, oil, and the tang of metal in all their workings. This must be what home felt like to Adila, that smell, and that was reassuring, nobody faked that. She took a deep breath, tried not to panic, let Adila lead the way with the soldiers. She had warned her friend, she'd just keep a careful watch out.

    By the time they reach the room full of people, Kazelia has contented herself with slow, cautious sweeps of her eyes side to side as they round each corner. And then there are all these people. That's a different kind of overwhelming. She doesn't know who any of them are. There's a general sense of Watch and Not Watch, that's pretty obvious with the black uniforms, and some of them are old so that probably means they're like Oberon's witches and you shouldn't mess with them (oh no what if they were actually Oberon's witches in disguise?! Shut up Kazelia's brain, keep it together). When they told her to stay outside, the place she looked was to Adila. She didn't say anything, but the question in her eyes was "I'm your deputy, I'll go where you tell me."
    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)

  14. - Top - End - #254
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Quote Originally Posted by Anarion View Post
    Okay wow things are going fast. Let's back up. First, we are in the street. Adila finishes her oath and Kazelia says "I swear" and she actually blushes a little bit, her cheeks turning that dark indigo color beneath her new mask (nobody can see so it's fine, right? Right). Because Kazelia used to serve and fight for a cause, and she left that cause and felt bitter and betrayed and swore to do something new. And now, Adila trusting her, that's worth being proud of, it's worth saying an oath, even if she doesn't really know all the laws or anything.
    [Adila: Kazelia would like to write down the bond "Kazelia swore to follow Adila's code." Do you agree?]
    Certainly. Adila hasn't formed one of her own quite yet.

    +Thank you, Princess Kazelia. If you're wearing the badge, take off the mask,+ she thought. +The Watch... celebrates Carnival differently from the rest of the City.+

    But while Kazelia was thinking about Jedadi rooftop living, she was also marching through the city with Adila, avoiding Cotton Street (she leans over to whisper to Adila "hey, do they actually sell cotton there, or is the street name some kind of joke because of all the silk?) and reaching the fortress.
    +They only sell silk there. It got the name Cotton Street back before Jedad...+ Princess Adila did the mental equivalent of a cough to mask if she was thinking 'stole' or 'liberated' so as to not incite a riot +... the secret of silk from Illumina. Now they sell cotton down over at Barrel Lane.+

    Her eyes were regularly marking rooftops with the wary vigilance of someone who had learned that lesson the hard way. It kept her from being as talkative as she might normally be. Instead the dragon released a constant flow of observations, psychically muttering to herself. Contact rooftop, armed gang, wizard, passing guildmaster, contact running... she didn't act on any of these observations, they were just the tactical tick-tetching to herself as she filtered the chaos of the Bazaar's streets into the most significant details. The walk was short and direct and there wasn't much time for her to fall out of this mood.

    She absorbs the warning about the Riders without comment, but with a heightened state of nervous vigilance.

    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    In the antechamber of the Great Hall, there's a welcoming party waiting for you. On the left side of the room, in their blacks and tough boots, there's half a dozen of the watch's oldest and most crotchety, led by Brookley herself. She gives you a nod, almost keeping a professional coolness, but she can't hide the crooked little tweak of her lip upwards as she looks you up and down. "Captain's ready for you," she says, crisply. Like a river in first thaw, she always got more sharp and clear when you turned the heat up on her; her blue eyes are unflinching. Behind her are the watch's own grandmothers, metaphorically speaking, from all over the world, skins tanned and hardened by the sun and scarred from various street brawls; from Ojaa, her grey hair in lazy bloom, to Thumper, her electric blue hair close-cropped to the skull, to Newt, whose beatific smile belies the pounds upon pounds of muscle packed into her uniform.

    On the right side of the room... well. Maybe it's because Scampering Jenni already primed you for Jedad being an Issue today. But there's three of Shazari's courtiers there, too, looking like greyhounds ready for the hunt, all hair decorations and veils and giving Kazelia looks like she's a choice hunk of meat to tear apart the moment they're left alone.

    "As I was saying," Ojaa continues, taking point for Brookley, "you really do have to wait. Captain's orders."

    "No need to apologize," the lead greyhound says. "We'll be happy to wait out here."

    "Mimsley, stay out here with the civvie," Ojaa then says. "Help her root."

    "Auxiliary member," Mimsley mumbles, but it's really no use; there's an inner circle and an outer one, and Mimsley and Kazelia aren't part of the old guard. How this is going to shake out is you going in to meet the Captain, and Kazelia... hopefully not getting her self-esteem shredded waiting with these snakes.

    **
    Once Princess Adila had been watching the Old Bastards playing cards together. She'd been straining her ears to overhear what they were saying and straining her body to pretend like she wasn't. They'd sat and chuckled ominously and said things like 'I bet the usual', or 'fine, it's time for me to bet that' while no chips moved about the table. In between their cryptic gambling they'd been gossiping about new recruits - who was handsome, who needed more training, who had a stupid haircut. She'd only heard bits and pieces. But then she'd overhead a sentence that had her name in it and the entire table had turned around in their chairs to stare directly at her.

    She'd never been so scared in her life. She'd sat there frozen nose to tail, trying to simultaneously not move a muscle and phase through the floor. The moment had dragged into eternity and she didn't even notice Detective Brill snapping his fingers in front of her eyes. Eventually they picked their cards up and went back to their game and she'd had to go outside and hyperventilate for a few minutes.

    They weren't always so scary. Sometimes they were just, you know... regular scary, normal scary. But when they all got together and schemed it was a whole different thing.

    She swallowed hard. Glanced at Detective Brill. She kind of wished he'd come in with her, but he had more reasons than most to seek to avoid a face-to-face with the Captain - and to be entirely fair she wasn't sure she'd do the same for him if their situations were reversed. She straightened up, gave Officer Brookley a crisp salute - and despite it being a salute she was trying extremely hard to do right she still felt many eyes silently noting every imperfection in her form - and nervously headed into the fortress.

    She thought about wishing Kazelia luck but she thought she'd need it all herself.
    If the sun won't rise on our horizon
    We'll march on to spite the skies.

  15. - Top - End - #255
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    How's her evening going? Well, being honest it's a bit of a mixed bag so far. If she blushes any more or any harder she's going to be in danger of setting this nice veil on-- will you stop thinking things like that Alina? -- on fire, or else she's going to pass out from sheer embarrassment. But on the other hand a very pretty girl has given her as much attention as she could ask for just about all day long, and she's roughly one less rope viper and a lack of audience away from this situation being what she'd have planned anyway. So it's weirdly nice, actually. Worryingly nice, in fact. Get your priorities straight what is the matter with you Alina nice.

    It's a very serious situation. She's trying her best to respond to it seriously. She listens to every word, and she diligently watches Rhyza's face to get an idea of how bad it actually is. But then right in the middle of the bit where the King is laying out his vision for what's up with the Heart and the Bazaar that snake chooses to get incredibly up in her business and it's all she can do not to moan right through Juniper's horrified responses. Her cheeks somehow flush even redder and she turns her eyes down to stare at her legs. On top of Rhyza's legs. This isn't helping! Nothing is helping! This isn't fair. She's a serious deal: the Petrichor Princess. Nobody in this room has anything approaching her pedigree, and yet they've all collectively written her off as the least important person here. And the worst part about it? They're probably right. And if she tells them who she really is... well, you know how things are. That'll only make things worse.

    Not that keeping quiet is doing very many favors either. Poor Rhyza. If it wasn't for her, she'd be off somewhere having a very nice night with some actual barmaid, probably. Or if she'd played her role correctly and kept well out of things, maybe the swordswoman would have succeeded and they'd all be off celebrating stopping the King from making off with this other woman. Except that wasn't right either, was it? He's actually a really good guy, in his way, and from the sound of things some very scary things have been happening that he deserves answers for. But if she'd at least managed to stay on task, then poor, legitimately honorable Rhyza wouldn't be tied up here at all and they'd all be having this conversation in a more placid setting over iced tea and water fruits. It's only because Alina meddled and got cute about it that she's here tied up at all. And it's just going to ruin her when she finds out her date isn't only a princess, but literally Alina Cascade. Oh, what was she thinking? It wasn't ok for her to have been doing this in the first place!

    Well, there it is. There's the motivation she needs to ignore the ministrations of the rope viper. She's got those trademark Cascade Tears welling in her eyes the more she thinks about it. And she can't even speak her mind, apologize, or try to defuse the situation because she's got a snake tail stuck in her mouth. She'd give a lot to be able to try and fix this right now...

  16. - Top - End - #256
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    Adila!

    As you head inside, leaving your three companions behind you, the Old Bastards form your honor guard. Which might make one, if they were twitchy, remember the old adage that an empress should fear her own bodyguards most of all.

    You all step into the Bazaar.

    Sergeant “Batty” Bella gets one hell of a salary and more days off than any non-commissioned officer, on the one condition that she be able to recreate the Bazaar through illusions at up to one-tenth scale. There are a lot of advantages to being able to walk through a map of the city you guard, and make visual notes with a simple command.

    Right now, Bella is looking at you with the non-plussed acceptance of someone who’s gotten maybe four hours of sleep in the last forty-eight, all while maintaining several visual filters over the illusion: greyed-out blocks, representing places cleaned in the sweep; red front lines and concentrations, indicating resistance; and a ticking “estimated time until arrival” clock, which is a lot lower than anybody would like it to be.

    And there, in the middle of the city— her city— is the Captain, her shoulders bent and tensed with stress, her hands clasped gently on the handle of one of her matched pair of enchanted black devil-canes, the ones covered in grotesque visages that pull faces at you out of the corner of your eye.

    “Walk with me,” she says, and begins to take you down Queen’s Way.

    “Three days ago, the Black Princess informed the Jedadi royal family that her agent had stolen the Heart of Jedad, and that unless she was paid Ourania’s own ransom, she would happily watch as ‘Our Husband’ destroyed the Bazaar in a jealous passion.” She slams the verbal quotation marks down like slabs of stone. “Upon receiving this message, Princess Shazari erected a blockade around the Bazaar and... suggested that the Watch locate the Heart of Jedad before the serpent’s arrival. Failing that, in exchange for certain concessions, Jedad is willing to pay the ransom for the city.”

    It makes sense. While in aggregate everything in the city might be worth double what the Black Princess is asking, it would be a nightmare to gather it all up, especially with all the receipts you’d need to hand out. Jedad’s treasuries are the target here— but Shazari can’t let the opportunity for political games pass, even so. From the stony look on their faces, one can imagine how much that’s not appreciated by the Old Bastards.

    “While Shulamis provided djinn support to slow the serpent’s advance,” the Captain continues, “we began a sweep of the city and contacted our associates on the rooftops.” Ah, yes. The criminal families and their associates, currently loosely led by a charismatic young man who styles himself the King of the Bazaar. Harmless, usually, enjoys seeking thrills more than hobbling trade for the most part. “Instead of cooperation, we found ourselves targeted. The rooftops have declared open war on the Watch, without explanation or demand. It is possible they have been subverted by a currently unknown party for the purpose of keeping us from the Heart.”

    The Watch and the various gangs and families of the rooftops have always had... if not a friendly relationship, then amiable competition. Open war? If you hadn’t seen it yourself, it’d be unbelievable.

    “Shazari has faith in our ability to find the Heart. Therefore, she won’t pay the ransom until the serpent’s visible from the south walls. By that time, we will find ourselves dependent on the honor of the Black Princess, as well as her ability to send a message to her agent or agents in a timely manner, in order to avert disaster. For this reason, once the serpent is visible, we will wear the bronze again.”

    There’s nodding around the room. A glorious last stand! Throwing all you’ve got into defending the city! That’s the sort of thing that the Watch is supposed to do. But the way that the Captain’s speaking, it’s like she doesn’t expect to find it at all.

    “Adila, this is why you were sent to us,” the Captain continues, and her iron voice softens almost imperceptibly. “I am turning over the investigation to you. You have my explicit permission to use any and all means you deem necessary to find the Heart. Deputize who you will. Knock over what you must. Put the fear of dragonfire in our enemies. And when you find it...” She looks at you, and her one eye is sharp as flint. “If you turn it over to Shazari, I’ll have your badge. You are to bring it back to the Watch, and then consider your command complete.”

    She turns away, and murmurs to herself, “We’ll throw the book at her.”

    ***

    Kazelia!

    You are alone. Terribly, horribly alone. I mean, sure, Mimsley and Brill are with you, but Mimsley is trying to look as small as possible as the Jedadi courtier tells her how brave she is, wearing her hair like that, and Brill is letting himself get pulled away from the two of you while talking up his bravery. The chances of your secrets staying secret are slim; he’d sell out everything about Alina’s disguise for the promise of one (1) kiss, and while you could probably stop him... you’ve got your own snake to deal with.

    “I thought the Riders were supposed to be more... wicked,” she says, running two fingers along your breastbone. “Forgive me for saying so, but you hardly look like you could deal with a bunch of half-drowned silk thieves. What was your secret? I’m dying to know.” She smells like spices and kisses. Hot, wet kisses.

    “And how in the world did you end up traveling with that dragon? You know her reputation, after all. Really, if you want to fit in, I have some tips...”

    Your head’s pounding almost as hard as your heart, it’s tough to tell which way is left and which way is right. Maybe this is why Alina was always so snooty when the topic of Jedad came up. Personal space! Why doesn’t she understand personal space?

    On the other hand she’s probably important to the people surrounding the city so maybe don’t throw her into the void to hang out with Eska? Just a thought.

    Spoiler: Shazari’s Greyhounds
    Show
    Dizzying. When you listen to a Greyhound for too long, your Sense is damaged.
    Irresistible. If your Sense is damaged, a Greyhound can distract you for as long as they like.


    ***

    Alina!

    From what you can tell, several hours later, from Rhyza’s simmering fury and from the sounds behind you, the King’s lit incense all around Juniper Blue and relentlessly grilled her while she’s gone more and more out of it. She started with defiant statements that she’d never reveal the secrets of the Watch, and at this point she’s just really giggly and spacey and going “nooo... I’m not supposed to tell you anything about the guard change... hmm? oh, yeah, they do change twice an hour, you’re so smart, except it’s only once because of the reduced crew. I won’t tell you anything about it, though.” Then a slurp as she sips from the yogurt smoothie they provided her. “Ooh that’s so good. Hmm? Oh yeah there’s a super secret alarm spell hung there, heeeee, you’ll neeeeever figure out I made the password Juni-juni-payo.”

    Rhyza makes a disgusted little eyeroll, and then glances at you. And then she stops, and really looks at you: beet red, tearing up, with a snake’s tail wrapped around your head, having the most miserable night of anyone here. She leans in close, which, uh, means you do end up a little overwhelmed lower down.

    “Little princess,” she breathes, even as Juniper Blue giggles breathlessly behind you, “I don’t know your name. I don’t know why you agreed to be with me today. But I know that it brought you here, and if it wasn’t for me, you’d be enjoying the Bazaar properly. I swear by my honor that I... I will do everything I can to see you free. I’m sorry for being so selfish, and though you don’t need to forgive me, I... hope that you will. So trust me, please. I will keep you safe.

    She kisses you, slowly, firmly, on your forehead, her lips a hair’s breath from your skin, as she leaves her lipstick on her veil, a major fashion faux pas. But, apparently, there are things much more important here than being fashion-conscious.

    The sound of folding paper, chairs scraping on the floor. Rhyza glances up, her eyes hard once more. “Thank you,” the King says. “You’ve been a great help, Juni.” Then, to a knight: “Toss her in the snake pit.”

    He has an entire pit of Rope Snakes??? The stakes are suddenly much, much higher.

    He flops down on the pillow next to the two of you, and for the first time, you can properly see the wicked scars of a Rider’s blade on his neck. They’re familiar, aren’t they?

    The same terrible silver as your own.

    “So, sisters,” he says, cupping your chin with one hand. “What’s your story? Let’s start with you, mercenary. If you don’t want to tell me, try telling your girlfriend.” And for the second time today, you find yourself forced to nod up and down.

    “Pig,” Rhyza sneers at him. They’ll probably be going at this for a while, and— oh gosh the rope snake recognizes its master and is getting frisky.

    So. How’s it feel, having information that will blow this thing wide open, and no way to let them know, because the noises that are coming out of you are not helpful at all?
    Last edited by Raz_Fox; 2019-07-11 at 12:12 AM.
    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.

  17. - Top - End - #257
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Oh Rhyza no, please... don't say things like that. Don't make that promise. It's only going to make it hurt more when you realize how much you hate her. But of course, all she can actually say is "Mmrph." She squeezes her eyes shut to hide the tears and leans her forehead against the mercenary's face for all she's worth. Just this one more moment. Let her keep this one moment before everything falls apart again. Please.

    She doesn't get her moment. The King arrives and grips her firmly under the chin. He nods her head for her like a good little puppet, turns her into Rhyza's adorable confidant that she can spill whatever secrets she's holding to while interested third parties happen to overhear. Then she sees his scars, and her eyes go wide. Right before they roll to the back of her head. She moans, but whether it was an attempt at speech or a reaction to extremely frisky and invasive snakes is anybody's guess.

    Please. Please! She whines through the snake tail and starts wiggling and thrashing against her restraints, past the point of caring how much it's going to excite the rope snake. It's already got her brain going kind of fuzzy, unless it knows some truly spectacular tricks things are already as difficult as they're going to get at that front. It's more important that she get attention right now. She tries to nod in the direction of the King's neck, and opens her eyes wide and pleading. Please, just listen to her! Let her speak! She can fix this, she can she can! Give her the chance, please just give her the chance to talk this out without having to force the issue.

    Because she could. She's Alina Cascade: so long as she's got her light she's only as trapped as she wants to be. But that's the problem, isn't it? If she makes her big move, everybody here is going to know that she's not just a princess, she's that princess. And there's not a single other person in this room that couldn't make things worse for knowing that.

  18. - Top - End - #258
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Kazelia takes off her mask as Adila commands, slips its loops along the same line as her spear and salutes (as best she can, if you thought Adila's form was off, Kazelia's verges on the unintentionally sarcastic, she's still got that Rider vicious streak in her and that's the only way they ever salute). Then she watches her friend walk off to the inner sanctum and she's suddenly very alone in a pit of vipers (they're not rope snakes, but then again, can you really tell the difference here?).

    Every muscle in Kazelia's body is tense right now, her senses are still screaming at her, with no reassurance at hand. So, perhaps she can be forgiven for responding to one of Shazari's handmaidens touching her by taking a large step back and drawing her spear to ward them off from following. It's entirely reflexive, every muscle poised to react, the spear already out and pointed before she's even conscious of the opportunity to make a decision about what to do next. Her first thought when her mind comes back to her is something like oh void what have I done?! because she knows nothing of the geopolitics here, she's in a foreign place surrounded by armed people, and she probably just committed some terrible social faux paus that will echo down through the ages and also get her tackled harder than Tam Pattersley.

    Her second thought, if she manages to remain untackled that long, is to say "I'm sorry" which happens out loud, and slowly pull her spear back, equally slowly, with large obvious motions, placing it back along the strap she wears over her back for it. "I'm sorry. I'm very tense, there's something wrong here. Please forgive me." She tries to look over at the watch officers, dressed in their blacks as well, so they understand she's not a threat here either. "Can you, can you all just tell me what's going on here?"
    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)

  19. - Top - End - #259
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    “If you turn it over to Shazari, I’ll have your badge."
    Princess Adila rocks back on her claws as though struck. But - she would never! Why - didn't she know that, didn't she trust -

    Well... obviously not, surely?

    She calmed herself. They were up against the Princess of Jedad. All her connections, all her friends, all her allies, everyone who was in love with her. Imagine having to keep track of that! Imagine being the one who had to think about loyalty after all this time? She didn't even know which side Brill would come down on - how was the Captain to know if she'd secretly been meeting with Princess Shazari? She settled into place. It hadn't been personal. She pushed past the shock and took in the rest of the information, thought about the problem like a Watcher.

    And she was just as shocked when her mind immediately started thinking about the Captain as a person of interest.

    She narrowed her eyes. She had just been put in charge of the investigation. The Captain herself had made the stakes plain to her. Princess Kazelia had warned her about the presence of Riders. It was her duty as an officer of the Watch to follow her intuitions to help crack this case, and - as the Captain had just made plain, loyalties were not to be counted on.

    Her silver light ignited - the first time she had revealed her new power since returning to the Bazaar, and she floated a notepad and quill up in front of her ready to take notes. +In that case, Captain,+ said Princess Adila, +As chief investigator on this case I have a few questions regarding your involvement. Can you please provide a full recounting of your recent activities and upcoming plans? Can you provide me with a thorough assessment of your contacts and information sources? And -+ Princess Adila took a deep breath, but her eyes in that moment were just as sharp as the Captain's. +given that you seem to have no expectations of my success in this operation, can you explain why I have been assigned to it?+

    [Speak Softly: 11
    What were they doing, and what are they going to do next?
    What should I be wary of when dealing with them?
    What do they want, and how could we help them get it?]
    Last edited by Thanqol; 2019-07-11 at 06:50 PM.
    If the sun won't rise on our horizon
    We'll march on to spite the skies.

  20. - Top - End - #260
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Alina!

    The good news is that the King tickles the snake’s ribs just so, and here it unwinds, releasing your mouth. You can take a breath of fresh air and squeak all you like!

    The bad news is that he only does this after Rhyza gets through the story of how she met Juniper Blue, back when she was fresh to the business of selling her sword and Juniper was a fresh-faced recruit. It’s a thrilling story that you can remember mayyyybe five minutes of, due to a host of other distractions. You’re red and breathless and disheveled and I think that ponytail is basically dead at this point.

    “So, sister, how’s a barmaid end up strong as a mountain, but foolish as an Iluminan silk merchant?” Rhyza would doubtless complain, except — to make things fair — the King has one hand firmly over her mouth. She’s had her chance to talk! Her turn to be quiet and listen.

    ***

    Kazelia!

    The handmaiden who was getting handsy makes a disgusted little noise in her throat. It’s very similar to the kinds of noises Azora would make when you showed up to dinner still wearing your dirty riding boots, or Cassian would make when you confused two different kinds of flowers. You’re so stupid and uncouth, Kazelia.

    Go ahead and try to Overcome the putdown, or damage your choice of Sense or Wisdom as it really gets to you.

    “I don’t know,” she says. “If I told you what was going on, you’d probably try to fix it with your spear, and not even take the time to do it correctly. But...” She pauses for a moment, lets you jump to conclusions in your head.

    “If you apologize like a good girl, grovel a little bit, and don’t swing your weapon around like a hyena, I might be tempted into sating your curiosity...”

    ***

    Adila!

    The Captain nods, with a wry expression that says: you’re wasting time, but I knew that this was going to be the first thing you did.

    “I have been here, organizing our sweeps of the city, since word arrived. Now that I have handed it over to you, I’m going to go rest my eyes and then have the strongest cup of tea in this bloody castle.” Makes sense. She’s got an iron will, but even it has its limits. But if she was behind it, of course she would have been directing all the searches herself, just to make sure the Heart wasn’t found. More information necessary.

    “Major Brookley will update you on our contacts and information sources, but they’re getting few and far between on the rooftops and with the professional thieves.” Delegation! Understandable. Unless she’s secretly an infiltrator of some sort who wouldn’t know that list!

    “And I fully expect you to succeed,” she continues. “Well before the serpent gets here. It is for that reason that I must instruct you to bring it here. If the Black Princess’s plot fails, then she will vanish back into the desert sands; it is only if she believes she will gain her ransom that she will risk revealing herself. And she has threatened our city, Adila.” She strikes the black floor with her cane, and the crack resounds through the room. “I will see her prosecuted to the fullest extent. I want her in irons, facing our justice. She has used our city as a pawn in her games, and she must learn that there are consequences.” Checks out! A little risky, sure, but—

    Wait wait wait. Your eyes focus on the Captain’s lips; for the briefest moment, her breath condenses cold.

    Okay let’s do the math really quickly. Illusion, Captain replaced? Possibly. Shapeshifting also possibility. Enchantment or spell to subvert her, more likely. Ask Kazelia, resident Rider witchcraft expert.

    But you’re also absolutely sure that she was being honest re: the Black Princess. Black Princess unaligned / fighting against Rider interests? Likely. Possibly attempting to fill war chest to take back Ilumina. Didn’t Alina’s sisters scatter to the Four Winds? Likely Riders want her captured, funneled back to Ilumina.

    Behind current situation, or taking advantage of it? Unclear. More information needed.

    Or maybe she’s just— no way is she that cold. In the Bazaar? No way.

    “I trust that satisfies your questioning,” she says. “Now, please. Time is of the essence.”
    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.

  21. - Top - End - #261
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Sometimes when confronted with a controlled officer, especially when perceiving such tangential evidence as she had just encountered, the correct option was to play along for a little while to draw out the culprit.

    But not here. Not when it was the Captain. And especially not when it was Princess 'Subtlety' Adila who'd have to carry out that deception.

    She folded her notebook and tucked it away. +Captain, I have reason to believe that you have been compromised magically. You are under arrest until such a time as you can be put through a full decontamination. Your co-operation in this matter is appreciated.+

    She was unbelievably tense when saying that. Eyes everywhere. She was forcing somebody's hand right now and it was entirely possible she'd have to fight all the Old Bastards and a Rider Princess all at once - and Ourania forbid, the goddamn Captain. She only had a few seconds to figure out what she was up against and act accordingly.

    [Look closely: 9
    - Is something hidden or out of place? If so, what looks suspicious?
    - Tell me about Sergeant Batty's illusions. How could it hurt me? How could it help me?
    - Tell me about the Old Bastards. What are they doing? What will they do next?]
    If the sun won't rise on our horizon
    We'll march on to spite the skies.

  22. - Top - End - #262
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Adila!

    Okay, okay, okay. Let’s start from the top. I don’t think anything is hidden in here, exactly; there’s nothing in this room that would make me go “yes, something’s out of place.” Out of line, maybe, but not out of place.

    If Batty’s doing anything other than maintaining the Bazaar illusion, she is the greatest witch in Hyperborea. Or a Rider witch whose capabilities are unknown, I guess. That’d be a hell of a place to hide in plain sight, right? But also she looks like there’s an hourglass turning inside her head, and in a minute or two she’s going to gasp in shock at what you just said.

    If a fight breaks out and she drops the illusion? Uh, then she becomes a huge, huge wild card. She could make things in here downright psychedelic, the way only a sleep-deprived witch can, and that could lose you a fight, or win it. Depends on whose side she’s on, or if she realizes there are sides at all and not just “everybody needs to sit the heck down right now.”

    As for the Old Bastards, those grannies of the Watch, they have pulled out a motley assortment of brass knuckles and saps and knives and are surrounding the two of you. They haven’t committed to a side. When they do, one of you is going down.

    “That is a very serious accusation, Adila,” Major Brookley says, carefully. “Do you have any evidence?”

    “I’m very curious to hear if she does,” the Captain says, her mottled hands closing firmly on her cane. If the Old Bastards call for her, you are going to have a Bad Time, and the chances of you being spanked by that cane are high.

    ...you might even end up in the Monster-class Drunk Tank with a muzzle. The shortest and most ignominious stint on an investigation in Watch history!
    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.

  23. - Top - End - #263
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    [Overcome 1+2+0=3. I'll damage my wisdom, if I still have that choice.]

    Kazelia reeled. It wasn't the insult itself, as you note, Kazelia has a long history of not caring about that sort of thing, and Azora's harumph was way better than these minks, nevermind the sorts of noises that Asteria could make. But, the way they were treating her said everything here. She'd insulted them, made exactly the mistake she thought she'd made, embarrassed Adila, showed them that she was a fool, and now they wouldn't take her seriously. She wanted to put her hands on her head and just sink into a hole in the floor. A purple blush crept into her exposed face at the thought.

    HOWEVER. Kazelia was in no mood to grovel here. None. Like, you have to appreciate how not in a state of groveling she was. She felt like she was about to be attacked at any moment, that's why she had drawn her spear. She was on edge, now upset that she had ruined things, feeling a spiral of despair. And, the only target for that were these two handmaidens. No, no, she's not going to banish them with darkness, this isn't that kind of threat. But be aware that she looks like a coiled snake about to strike, and unless they're very stupid, they can see that touching her again right now is likely to incite violence.
    Last edited by Anarion; 2019-07-11 at 08:04 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)

  24. - Top - End - #264
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    Adila!

    Okay, okay, okay. Let’s start from the top. I don’t think anything is hidden in here, exactly; there’s nothing in this room that would make me go “yes, something’s out of place.” Out of line, maybe, but not out of place.

    If Batty’s doing anything other than maintaining the Bazaar illusion, she is the greatest witch in Hyperborea. Or a Rider witch whose capabilities are unknown, I guess. That’d be a hell of a place to hide in plain sight, right? But also she looks like there’s an hourglass turning inside her head, and in a minute or two she’s going to gasp in shock at what you just said.

    If a fight breaks out and she drops the illusion? Uh, then she becomes a huge, huge wild card. She could make things in here downright psychedelic, the way only a sleep-deprived witch can, and that could lose you a fight, or win it. Depends on whose side she’s on, or if she realizes there are sides at all and not just “everybody needs to sit the heck down right now.”

    As for the Old Bastards, those grannies of the Watch, they have pulled out a motley assortment of brass knuckles and saps and knives and are surrounding the two of you. They haven’t committed to a side. When they do, one of you is going down.

    “That is a very serious accusation, Adila,” Major Brookley says, carefully. “Do you have any evidence?”

    “I’m very curious to hear if she does,” the Captain says, her mottled hands closing firmly on her cane. If the Old Bastards call for her, you are going to have a Bad Time, and the chances of you being spanked by that cane are high.

    ...you might even end up in the Monster-class Drunk Tank with a muzzle. The shortest and most ignominious stint on an investigation in Watch history!
    +Of course I don't have any evidence!+ retorted Princess Adila, visibly relaxing when nobody ripped off their faces and revealed themselves to be Princess Azora Howl. +How would I possibly provide evidence of magical persuasion without consulting directly with a sorcerer? What I do have is unlimited authorization from the Captain herself to, and I quote: use any and all means I deem necessary to find the Heart.+

    She stared directly at the Captain - but she also shifted about slightly so that Sargent Batty was within range of her tail. +In this matter I deem it necessary to ensure the Captain is free from any foreign influence. To disobey me is to disobey a direct order from the Captain.+

    She could not believe that she was pulling rank on the Captain with the Captain's own rank.
    If the sun won't rise on our horizon
    We'll march on to spite the skies.

  25. - Top - End - #265
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Kazelia!

    It’s two against one! Wait, hold up, two? Oh, Mimsley ran off crying while you were busy making terrible socialization mistakes. And now you’re being circled, as the two judge your dress (pedestrian) and your stance (feral) and your deputization (hi-larious).

    “Oh, honey, I’m sorry. If I’d known this was your first time out of the castle, I would have gone easy on you.”
    “First case, sweetie? Be nice, she’s got the jitters.”
    “You know, the Captain will do whatever I ask her to. We could help you out, see about getting you reassigned — how does solving the case of the missing lemon cakes sound? Much more your speed.”
    “No, no, she’ll end up using her spear as a lemon cake kebab. She needs something less stressful. The case of the vanishing stick? She’ll need to be positively self-reflective to figure out where it went~”
    “Oh, naturally. But be nice, darling, doesn’t she have such a unique complexion? With the right veil, she could guard my tent any day.”
    “Oooh, and those hips. A little chunky, but some dance training would clean her right up, don’t you think?”
    “Mmmhm, mmhm, and if we got her some lipstick that didn’t make her look like a cow, she’d look so nice.”
    “Adila’s going to take a dreadfully long time in there, don’t you think?”
    “Oh, absolutely. We have time for a makeover before she gets out.”
    “Maybe even send her back to the camp with Lizha, so we can really take our time with her.”

    The smell of them is making it really hard to think. They’re not touching you, but they’re circling you like wolves and their back-and-forth is making your head spin as you try to track who’s saying what from where.

    Damage your Sense, honey-cakes.

    ***

    Adila!

    Sounds like you’re Talking Sense to me. Gracefully, even: dazzling them with your amazing pulling of rank. That’s something you’re really good at, right?
    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.

  26. - Top - End - #266
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    I would just like to take this moment to point out that if shadow magic were a more acceptable social convention, people would be a lot less mean to witches.

    As it is though, the two should not be surprised a game of "I'm not touching you" provokes the same response as touching. Kazelia endures for as long as she can before it is too much, at which point she leaps to her feet and slaps whichever of the two is closest in front of her at that moment. Hard. Right across the face. Then she turns away and walks out of the waiting room after Mimsley, grabbing Brill forcibly by the collar on her way out, whatever else he might be up to at the present moment. "I hope you tell Princess Shazari about the welcome you offered me" she says as she's leaving. "It will help her understand why her kingdom won't receive aid when my sisters attack it."

    Then she storms out of the room. Sorry Adila, she won't be there when you come out, nor will anyone that you came in with. Kazelia considers her options of course. She's in a foreign fortress, the watch guards will probably require that she depart in the most expedient manner possible or throw her in a jail cell for wandering about their fortress without permission. But they're also horribly understaffed and this place is still wrong in some fundamental way. On top of that, Kazelia would like nothing more than an opportunity to get in a fight with a guard right now. So, which way (other than directly back to the Captain's waiting room) feels the most wrong in here? Wherever it is, she'll go straight towards it and woe be whoever gets in her way.
    Last edited by Anarion; 2019-07-11 at 09:14 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)

  27. - Top - End - #267
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Alina is a gasping, heaving wreck right now, so please do not besmirch her princess pride by getting on her case about not defending herself from the King's jabs just yet. Her face is redder than her light ever was, and her ponytail's entirely fallen out and now it's a messy, sweaty blond wave that bounces about violently while she tries to collect herself. Ugh, why is it always rope vipers? It's not fair that every adversary in Jedad should have access to her weakness like this.

    Ok... ok. She can breathe now. She can think now. Is there a way out of this? Probably, yes, there are several. But she's had all this time to... not... think, and she hasn't seen a single way to keep her secrets in a way that helps anybody here. She's here in Jedad in the first place, right? If she really meant it when she thought it on the trip here, about setting aside old prejudices and grudges, then she can't turn away now. She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath.

    "I remember you being smarter than this. You're asking for the wrong story. What you really want to know is: how did you get those scars? I know. I know because I have one too. You weren't betrayed by the Watch or anybody else you know. That's the mark of a Rider blade. And if it got you, it must have been someone very skilled. A princess, maybe, or Ourania forbid it the same man who beat me. I promise you, I know what I'm talking about better than any person in all of Hyperborea. You're all being played against each other. And if you keep playing into their hands like this you're going to lose everything you know to snow and ice and nightmares. Nobody... nobody deserves that."

    She lowers her head. It's a shame Rhyza is about to ditch her forever, because after the past few hours she could really use some more hugs and tender whispers in her ear, and it hurts because it seems so impossible. But it's fine. If they all sell her to Shazari first thing after she stops talking, it'll be worth it if they just come together. Just a bit. She already knows what it looks like when a Kingdom's best and brightest scatter against the plans of Oberon Greymane. So she tells her story, just the way it happened. She never once says her name, but it doesn't matter. It's the story of a young girl come back fresh from the heist of the century (though she stops short of calling it that). The story of a girl who happened across a sad old man, and thought to share a laugh and a meal with him. Who blessed his food exactly the way she always had, and got a sword through her chest for her troubles. How he broke her and stole the best parts of her away to wear as jewelry. The way he spit in her face and promised her that she'd cost her mother a country, and he'd made good on that word and turned her beautiful home to ice. It's tiring. Worse than if she'd tried to fight her way out of here.

    "...The only chance you have against something like that is to choose to trust the people who can help you, even if your minds tell you that you shouldn't. I'm asking you to start with me. I can't give you a good reason why you should, except that it would be very easy for me to get out of here if I wanted to. What I was doing in that alleyway is none of your business, but if I'm still here putting up with your macho act, it has to mean something, doesn't it?"

    Her eyes flicker over to Rhyza without her meaning to. Please don't hate her. Please don't hate her. Please don't...

  28. - Top - End - #268
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Kazelia!

    I really, really want to know how well or poorly this goes. Can you roll to Get Away, please?

    ***

    Adila!

    Newt places one broad hand on the Captain’s shoulder. “Adila’s got a point, ma’am,” she gently points out.

    “Very well,” the Captain says, with icy poise. (Further proof??) “Dare I ask who you trust to provide an unbiased opinion?”

    Oh. Uh. Oh. Right.

    Also, you owe Brookley a favor for not shutting you down here. And it’s going to come due very soon.

    ***

    Alina!

    It sounds like you are doing a very good job at Talking Sense. Use your Wisdom to illuminate the path ahead.
    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.

  29. - Top - End - #269
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    Adila!

    Newt places one broad hand on the Captain’s shoulder. “Adila’s got a point, ma’am,” she gently points out.

    “Very well,” the Captain says, with icy poise. (Further proof??) “Dare I ask who you trust to provide an unbiased opinion?”

    Oh. Uh. Oh. Right.

    Also, you owe Brookley a favor for not shutting you down here. And it’s going to come due very soon.
    +I came in with the recently deputized Princess Kazelia,+ thought Princess Adila, who was grateful that Princess Kazelia was making such a big effort to be trustworthy and patient and surely wouldn't storm out in a huff after being left alone for fifteen minutes and leave her in the lurch. +If she says the Captain is fine then I will consider the matter closed.+
    If the sun won't rise on our horizon
    We'll march on to spite the skies.

  30. - Top - End - #270
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    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Rhyza!

    You are a conflicting mess of emotions. On the one hand, oh no. You just seduced Alina Cascade. You have no regrets, but pretty much every other person you know will make sure that changes if you don’t dump her immediately. Your survival instinct is at war with your honor, a common dilemma for a sellsword. (Your honor is joined by your ardor, which is less common. If you are a coward, you will not be able to make Alina Chiming Cascade sing your name later.)

    But also. She is a princess, which means she is far above your station; she is the heir of a conquered people, which means she would never settle down with you; she has suffered enough. You don’t need to break her heart any further.

    You resolve firmly to not seduce her any further and to gently push her away. It’s the only way you won’t fill those eyes with tears again; you have seen it once, and that is enough.

    But you promised to keep her safe. And you will do so.

    “May I see it?” You are this close. This close to strangling the King, somehow. You’ll will your hair into magic life for that purpose. Who knows if it’s possible? You’ll do it through sheer outraged fury on Alina’s behalf as she lets him tug down her top ever-so-slightly and hiss in recognition.

    “Well, sister,” he says, running a hand through his hair, “either you’re the best plant the Watch could ever find, or you’re telling the truth.” He runs his hand along the rope viper, and it slithers up his arm affectionately, becoming a fashion accessory rather than a binding.

    “So I’ll let you pick. You walk away, go find your princess friends, try to stop these Riders...” He extends his hand to her. “Or you stick around here and help me figure out what in the name of Ourania’s hair routine is going on here.”

    She looks at you, just for a moment, her expression full of unreadable things. Maybe she’s about to ask the King to set you free. Maybe she’s about to ask you if you’ll stay with her. You take the knife for her, stop her from degrading herself any further, from expressing worry about some raggedy sellsword.

    “I promised I’d keep you safe,” you say, gruffly. “Even if you are, you know. Cascade.” That’s better. Last name basis. Less emotional attachment. Let her down easy. “Wherever you lead, I’ll follow, if this pig lets me go.”

    Ignore the fact that it hurts like hell to say. Be strong for her sake.

    ***

    Kazelia!

    I’m afraid Brill’s vanished off into another room, and it would really ruin the flounce you’ve got going to stop and check which way he went. So it’s just you. Solo. Alone. Fuming and maybe trying not to cry? I mean, after something like that, I wouldn’t blame you.

    You couldn’t hack it. Adila put all her trust into you, and you let her down. Those Jedadi jerks are probably tattling on you right now. Just another wicked Rider using violence to get her way.

    Worse still, you can’t get a good fix on which way is most bleh, so you end up having to just go in a random direction, and end up...

    On the walls, looking out into the desert. There’s someone out there who serves your father. You can feel that truth. And, hey, wouldn’t that be nice? Get out of this stupid, pretty, confusing city. Run and fight and be cruel all you like, out in the wilderness. Go find whoever’s out there instead of chasing your own tail in here.

    You could. You’d even find them. You’d just have to abandon Adila to do it.

    ...but it’s not like Adila even likes you, right? With your “chunky” hips and your reckless use of magic and your slapping of Jedadi officials? With that stick somewhere and that lipstick that apparently makes you look like a cow...

    ...why would she ever want to be friends with you?

    ***

    Adila!

    “You, Watchwomen! We want to register a complaint!”

    Oh, uh. Oh boy. There are now only two (2) women in this room. No Mimsley, no Brill, and no Kazelia. Just two high-ranking Jedadi courtiers, one of whom has undone her veil and is pressing ice to the rich bruise on her face.

    “The mad dog your dragon brought in here struck my friend and then ran off. We demand she be found and charged with criminal assault.”

    Oh boy. This is the nightmare scenario. The Captain is under arrest, you have just pinned your professional reputation to Kazelia, and in less than half an hour she has managed to a) vanish on you, b) right after you declared you trusted her to clear the Captain, c) and slapped a very important emissary from Shazari, the person who is going to pay to make sure the Bazaar is not exploded, on her way out, while d) the Old Bastards are all looking at you with their judgey faces.

    This looks super bad, Adila. Even, maybe especially, if you turn it around and blame the victim of the crime here. Brookley is deploying a Tactical Eyebrow in conjunction with the Captain, whose cane is making a mildly rude gesture at you with several of its faces. You are on ice so thin you can hear it creaking underneath you.

    “Well?? Aren’t you going to do anything??”
    Last edited by Raz_Fox; 2019-07-12 at 03:46 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.

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