Dialogue Play
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lookingwest

I took and kissed her hand very quickly, not lingering, even though I wanted to. And just in those moments I could feel her magic rushing like blood, but there wasn't any blood. Nothing that sent any part of me wanting to attack, anyway. This shocked me, I'd never seen a spell used like that. She smelled of wood and smoke, like a shapeshifter. What magic is this?

"Blessed be," I said.

Blessed be, my magic faintly echoed.

10/11/2010 #121
notveryalice

In the eyes of the wind there was a shading dark, hidden, behind the smoothness of the summer zephyr she rode - and it drew her to it. A black orb, that wrapped her about itself, she only a scent on the wind.

The inky cloud roiling inside the orb tugged at her through the shell of ice that imprisoned it, but she could do nothing, only watch, until finally it breached its container, thin as a bubble, now broken.

She was breathed in through the jagged hole in the orb, like smoke - into a world she felt like a hot, beating heart - and like smoke she permeated the first thing she saw: a pool of water, which froze to solid ice the instant she touched it. She pushed, the tap of a silver hammer on an egg - and it shattered. She poured out into herself - her Self, and her Cloak.

This world was so warm. Full of rain that was about to fall. The Lady moved over the ground to the centre of the warmth, where she began to weave about her a tangled yarn of rituals - unClosed, and as yet, unused. If she did not use them, they could be reclaimed.

There were a few creatures standing about, filling the air with their warmth and their sweat. The Lady, though she stood in their midst, only waited to be spoken to. She could wait.

10/11/2010 #122
lookingwest

What's this?

A woman was there haloed by mist that dulled the orange glow of the streetlamps. There, just there, and my magic stayed close inside my chest and I didn't want to begin to explore or find a name.

In these type of situations, it was always best to feign confidence. "Welcome!" I called, and then quite sarcastically, "what brings you to the city, sweets?"

10/11/2010 #123
notveryalice

"Welcome!" said a person to her. He did not know of her, though his skin burned cold with black ink. Good. It would not do to be known here. "What brings you to the city, sweets?"

Though only The Lady herself could know, she was smiling a bit, with one side of her pale lips. Her white hand snaked out of the sleeve, but only a bit - only her fingertips with their pearlescent nails, like frost.

She crossed her first two fingers with her thumb, and said a word, under her breath, a whisper. The stones shuddered. She brought her hand in.

The stones moved themselves up and back, politely stacking themselves, as a hole was made. Dirt siphoned out of the ground, into a tidy pile, on top of the stones. From the earth there came the greying, brittle bones of the long dead, which knit themselves together, in the shape of a man. It stood in front of its mistress, its feet not quite brushing the floor - and when it spoke, its voice was strong, and deep. Sand spilled from its eyes.

It said, "The Lady offers her protection to you. I am Herod, brought forth from the arms of Death, and my name is Servant."

10/11/2010 #124
lookingwest

Servant? Death.

Stunning.

"Well Harry," I said, "I'm Jude," and I've never heard a woman offer me proection, my magic finished, how Sh'marook of her. "I think you'll feel right at home here, there's something coming--I don't think it was you. But maybe it was. You've certainly distracted my concentration."

What concentration?

I ignored my magic, "So looking to cooperate against whatever beasty shows up, then, was that a yes? No worries either, sweets, I can protect myself right fine, but maybe these other ladies could use your--unique, skill, whatever it is."

10/11/2010 #125
notveryalice

"I have not been coming long," said Herod. "My Lady summoned me, and I am here." It paused. Worms rolled in the sockets of its eyes, like pupils.

"My Lady wishes you to know that whatever was coming, is coming -- and that it is large, and that it wishes to feed."

From the cloak there was a breath of shuddering, cracking cold, as The Lady sighed. In front of her, there coalesced a shield, one part of a pearl of ice, enormous, clear as water. On it was an image of a blackening cloud, and the boundary of the ruined city. Something large moved in the dark. As Herod raised his fingers to point at it, the Something moved, and from it was spat Something smaller, something running. It disappeared from view as quickly as it had come.

"My Lady," said Herod, "as she alighted in this time and on this eyrie of a place, this False City of Bones, saw something approach. She wishes to offer a Truce. You will need us, no matter your magic."

The Lady lifted a pale hand -- on it, there was a small stone, shimmering claret, a frozen drop of blood, a ruby.

"Cinnabar," said Herod. "The Source."

10/11/2010 #126
Tekla

Hailey stared, wide-eyed at the magnificent woman before her, and was drawn past the terrifying skeleton standing beside her to her hand. There, in the cup of her palm, was something resembling a ruby.

"Cinnabar," Hailey repeated after the skeleton.

She shivered. She could almost sense the power emanating from the stone, and she wondered what it could do. If that was what she used to bring people from the dead, surely it would have enough power to get them out of there? And if something really was coming for them, couldn't they just use it to get out the way, rather than confront it?

Hailey finally tore her gaze from the stone, rubbing her arms and glancing around at the group that seemed to never stop growing.

I really want to go home.

10/11/2010 . Edited 10/11/2010 #127
Nesasio

Trick was used to sudden changes of scenery in his line of work. Death often pulled him from one venue to another when he'd finished a task, usually without warning. So when his paws went from navigating a rocky path in the mountains to damp concrete in the middle of the city, he paused only a moment to adjust to the change in lighting. It had been dawn in the mountains, but here it was the middle of the night; he became corporeal to sniff about as his vision became used to the sparse light coming down from the streetlamps.

Upwind, he smelled and heard a cluster of...somethings. His nose twitched as it sampled the air. Three of the creatures smelled entirely human, two women and a man. They all reeked of uncertainty and the slight stench of fear reached him on the breeze. Then there were three Unknowns. Their scents reminded him of the paths of the 'tween-lives, electric and intoxicating like the presence of Death, but they also smelled very much alive.

A worry-itch started on Trick's ear; he sat down on his haunches and attacked the itch with a back leg as he pondered his next move. He knew he should go over and investigate: Death obviously wanted his hound here, didn't he? Which probably meant he'd come for someone in that group... But in two centuries of harvesting souls, Trick had never met beings such as those he smelled on the wind.

At long last, his nails chased away the itch and he stood up, sniffing the wind once more before confidently turning ghost and running towards the group. They stood in the street, shadowy but visible in the light of the streetlamps. He circled them from the shadows for a moment or two, ignoring their conversation as he tried to figure out which one was his target.

Then he spotted the skeleton.

Trick's ears perked up and he slunk out of the shadows, becoming corporeal. "Hello, friend!" he called out to it telepathically.

"Cinnabar," it said, ignoring him. "The Source."

Trick cocked his head at. It didn't seem to notice him. Perplexed, he sniffed the little skeleton and found no scent of the 'tween-lives: it was definitely dead, though it had some small bit of life to it. But another smell caught his attention, one that had been lost to him before. It smelled mostly human but also Between and he caught the slightest whiff of old blood. A vampire!

His tail wagged with a mind of its own, knowing how pleased Trick was to find someone like himself. He sidled up next to the man and lay down on the ground beside him. His tail thumped the damp ground as he thought to the vampire, "Lovely night, my friend. Any idea what these characters are? I haven't the slightest clue."

10/11/2010 #128
lookingwest

The new woman in the robes lifted a pale hand.

"Cinnabar," the skeleton-thing said. "The Source."

The new woman held it there, in her palm.

Cinnabar, magic, magic, what's this? No, I hadn't heard of this. No, I hadn't been with this or touched this or known this, but I liked it. I liked it. Oh, spinning this could bring me back maybe, and I saw a glimpse of something because my magic was blurred, I was blurred and I was home again, maybe, just once, maybe. I didn't know, this was new.

I moved forward because my magic pulled me and told me too, but I didn't like what was holding this thing, my vampirism was telling me to back off. Not good, not healthy, not food, not good, not something. Curiosity killed the cat.

Which was odd because when I thought it I saw a dog. I'm backwards, I thought, I'm backwards. Backwards, but I stopped moving forward and my magic stopped too and I was thinking: Look who knows what she'll do, really, you can just take it. But I wanted it. What bad manners. I just wanted to hold it for a second, maybe just look at it, maybe just figure it out and maybe keep it for awhile and just know more--how curious, how curious. Curiosity killed the cat.

"Lovely night, my friend. Any idea what these characters are? I haven't the slightest clue."

Oh no, you don't, my magic said when I tried to look.

"Oh fuck you," I growled, no way, no how no way, I wasn't touching that thing.

I flitted to the dog because it would distract me entirely, and I wanted to see if it was real or if it was just my magic being backwards.

I hated that, hated it--magic playing tricks on me. On me!

On my knees I took the dog's head with both hands and stared at it for a moment. It's tail wagged expectantly. It felt real, real ears here, real, not backwards. Forwards real. And it smelled real but there wasn't blood there, not that I wanted, no, no this was from Faal's realm, this was some trickster Sh'marook from a time back with Geneviève. Faal's dog. So it was safe.

"Yes, lovely night, lovely," I said, letting go of him and pausing for a moment, "Do I know? No, I don't know a thing, brother dog, Gaia, I don't know anything. Tell me, do you know me?" Because well, Faal was once Sh'marook and I don't know why I said it, maybe I thought Faal had an answer that Gaia didn't. Treason, reason.

Fucking pay attention! my magic pulled my attention quick, back to the--the man with the weapons and the tattoos.

He had one of his weapons aimed at me.

"Lovely night," I repeated, a bit lost.

10/11/2010 . Edited 10/12/2010 #129
Engineer of Words

For a while I was completely lost in a sea of white light and searing flesh. I couldn't feel, hear, or see anything. The magical energy was so intense that I literally thought I was going to die right then and there. A couple of different magical signatures more or less exploded, and I wasn't used to having this much power in one spot. Entire covens of vampires back home didn't have this much power...

One thing I was sure of is that I was going to die. If I got out of this alive, it'd be a small miracle. Scratch that, it'd be a fucking huge miracle.

One of the explosions of magical energy started to taper off, and my hearing began to register as something more than a loud, high-pitched ringing sound. Something about prince of the witches, to that effect. Homeboy with the letter on his face was talking to the short blond which, who had just given up the sport of blowing out my eardrums. The demon still didn't look happy. I took note once my sight started fading back in that we'd been joined by another female, a skeleton, and a dog.

We had a dog, and W-face was still the stupidest member of this conflagration. His inane prattle of a thought process was mostly audible, even though he wasn't speaking. I wasn't particularly sensitive to psychics, so the nature of it all confused me a bit.

All my senses were back but dull now. Then it occurred to me that none of the newcomers were human. Necromancer, her summon and a Shade creature.

Fuck.

"Cinnabar," said the skeleton. "The Source."

I knew what that was. Bad news, that's what. Priests back in the Imperium told me about magic like this. It went by different names in different places, but the effect was more or less the same. Not wanting to find myself on the ass end of some very powerful death magic, my right hand instinctively inched closer to my belt.

"Yes, lovely night, lovely."

A decision had to be made, and you could say I made it, I guess. If you're going to go out surrounded by a bunch of supernatural creatures that would like to make you into nothing, go out with a bang. Next thing I knew, the barrel of one of my .45's was staring right at Prince Charming, and my finger was itching to blow that mark right off his face. The other, though my eyes weren't trailing this one, was pointed at the necromancer. I had exactly 32 rounds of of silver-tipped hollow point bullets in the magazines, designed explicitly to maximize damage against magical organics. Whether or not shooting holes in this tea party would make me Mr. Personality was debatable, but it was not like I had too many options.

All's well that ends well.

Six seconds and a series of small explosions later I could feel the heat coming off the barrels of the pistols. I clicked the levers and let the magazines drop to the ground, as they were no longer of use to me. Looking up, a sinking feeling started creeping through my gut.

The entire group was now staring at me, and none of them looked particularly dead. Or, well, more dead.

Oh yeah. I'm going to die.

10/12/2010 #130
Jealous Rage

If anyone had been paying enough attention to him, it would have been obvious that the human was about to do something. He was looking extremely uncomfortable, and a little twitchy; his hands kept inching towards his weapons. Kane knew that if someone was going to make a move, it would be the man.

When the man finally pulled out his guns and aimed them at the vampire and the cold woman, Kane paused for a split-second, considering. He contemplated standing there and taking his chances, but quickly discarded that thought. While the bullets wouldn't kill him, they would hurt him, and since nobody knew exactly what might be coming for them, it was best that he remain as uninjured as possible.

Once again, Kane relied on his powerful legs to propel him high up into the air. He landed on the ledge of a window and waited for the human to begin firing. It wasn't a long wait.

The gunshots were very loud, loud enough to make Kane's ears ring even from a distance, but they didn't continue for long. The man had obviously been trying to do as much damage in as short a time as possible. Unfortunately for him, the damage he inflicted wasn't nearly enough. The vampire had taken several shots to the face and was clearly out of commission for the moment, but the rest of the group looked to have avoided serious injury. They did not look pleased.

Before any of the others could attack the man, who had not moved after unloading on the group, Kane leaped down from his ledge and spoke. "Oh man, that was awesome!" At the sound of his deep voice, everyone turned to look at him. "It was like something out of a fucking action movie." He grinned at the human at that point. "Next time, maybe you could scream angrily as you fire, for dramatic effect."

By that point, everybody was looking at Kane like he was the crazy one. He frowned at the group and shook his head. "Oh come on people, you all have to agree that was pretty kick ass." He paused and frowned at the vampire, who was lying, unmoving, on the ground. "All right," he allowed, "maybe not him. But the rest of you."

Kane stepped closer to the human then and grinned widely, a little bit of admiration evident in his expression."Look at this crazy motherfucker. He is clearly out of his fucking mind, and you know what?" He looked around at everybody. "I like that. If there is a real fight coming, and all signs seem to say that there is, we need insane people like this. We need fighters who will just go for it, throw everything they have at the enemy." Turning, he began to pace, feeling everyone's eyes follow him. "Magic is all well and good," he said, glancing at Gen and the newcomer, "but I know from personal experience that a gunshot to the face is pretty fucking effective as well. Just ask the bloodsucker." He gestured towards the vampire, who gave a low moan and shifted slightly. "That shit really fucking hurts. Plus it takes forever to pull the bullets out. You don't even want to know how bad buckshot is." He shook his head. "Listen, the moral of the story is: guns are useful, therefore the man with the guns is useful. I'm willing to forgive his little outburst, for the greater good. How about all of you?"

The vampire let out a pained groaned then. Kane looked over at him and smirked. "We'll ask him later."

10/12/2010 #131
notveryalice

"My Lady -- they attempt your life," said the ghost, Herod. His voice trembled.

And he began to shake, as though caught in a storm -- his bones rattling like gourds. His jaw dropped open -- beetles and worms fell from it on a torrent of earth. "My Lady," he said, his teeth clacking. He raised his hands to her, pleading with her, his concern for her forgotten.

She closed her palm with her fingers and he dissolved, into dust. "A copy," said The Lady. Her words were low, smooth, quiet.

There had been a whirling blur of movement and sound, tiny pellets of such warmth...! She had breathed in their heat so greedily that they had come to a complete halt, sapped of movement, and had fallen to the ground. The man with the weapons had committed violence, as Herod had said, but The Lady wished to thank him for his violence.

She moved to him without footsteps, and took hold of his hands. He flinched in pain. Into his palms she dropped exactly nine lumps of lead, biting cold from her touch -- and a jewel, glittering with frost. "I return to you your treasures, so hastily given. Here, too, is one of my own."

Three treasures remained -- buried in flesh, their heat untapped -- the flesh that now bore burns from the icy probing of her fingers. Her touch pained this boy-thing; his hands clenched. Her fingers stroked his hair. "You," she said to him, "are useful to me. You will take me home." He said something, without his lips, and The Lady was pleased. On the other side of the wounded boy, a woman, her feet aggressive, her face defiant. The Lady released his cheekbones from her fingertips, so that his head lolled on the ground, and stood.

In the centre of the circle, she said, "I would hire your loyalty, Mountain."

He snorted. She said, "I can pay you well."

10/12/2010 #132
lookingwest

Ah, fuck. I don't know, I don't know.

It hurt, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Fucking hurt like something.

And I don't know. I think I saw your face and I was standing with Charlotte and she was smoking a cigarette before the big show and she said, "What the fuck happened to your face? You can't go around like that, Jesus fucking Christ, get a cab and go to the emergency room or something."

Or maybe someone just asked me to bring them home. Or maybe they asked someone else and I'm just all ears.

Fucking home. Right.

Is my brain okay.

"Fucking of course not, Jude," Charlotte said flicking her cigarette on the cement, "no one likes you when you're straight."

Does it matter. There's magic working all around me.

10/12/2010 #133
C. Tattiana H-H

Geneviève was, to say the very least, disappointed.

She had observed the human reaching for his weapon, but had made no move to stop him, curious to see what he would do. So it was only when he had finished his aggressive, albeit rather unimpressive attack upon the vampire and Lady did she feel a pang of regret for not stopping him.

The vampire was now on the ground wounded.

Pathetic, her magic whispered. Even the Blood Neor would have sensed his hostility and moved to safety.

This vampire was nothing like the Blood Neor she knew, and although at first it had intrigued her, it now merely left her feeling hollow and eager to return home much faster.

But first she needed to say a few things.

She turned to the human and snarled, her magic grabbing one of the weapons from him.

"I thought I said no more outbursts!"

Crack.

Her magic had knocked him 'round the head a good one with the longer end of the weapon.

"And you." She wheeled around and glared up at the demon, the human's weapon now in her hand and directed at him. "Siding with a human? Now don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the excitement, I'm nearly dizzy from all of it. However," she strode past the Lady, being sure not to touch her, "I would not so readily trust him. He obviously harbours some hatred for our kind, so there's no way of being sure he won't try and attack one of us again."

She turned back to the human, striding forward with fire in her eyes. Raising the weapon to his face, she asked her magic what to do next.

How does this work? It feels cold and awkward in my hand.

One minute, one minute.

Geneviève's eyes never left the human. "Hailey!" It was the first time she had used the woman's name, and Geneviève hoped she knew it was out of the slight respect she had for her apparent abilities. "I believe you said something about being able to heal? See if you can mend Prince Jude Malevolent."

Her magic, still jittery from the excitement of the previous outburst, had figured out how to work the weapon, and was now adjusting Geneviève's grip on it.

It's empty, though. Here, let me fill it.

"Human." Her voice rumbled with anger and magic. "I need to be assured that if you join our party you will not attack one of us again." Her magic crawled through the weapon, settling itself in where the missing parts should have been. At the same time, it drew the shadows towards her, creating a thick, heavy fog to hang in the air around her. "How do you intend on doing that?"

She didn't wait for his response. Instead, she pulled the trigger.

Her magic shot out of the weapon in a single bullet, barely missing his cheek by inches. Geneviève had intended that, of course; she wasn't willing to kill anyone just yet.

It was only a single bullet, but Geneviève thought it would do the trick. She raised her eyebrow and nodded, and then tossed him back the weapon. The shadows withdrew from her and the fog crawled away.

"Your guns may impress the demon, but they do nothing to rouse anything from me." She flicked her eyes to look at the demon as she strode back towards Jude. She bent down and touched the side of his face, observing the damage that had been done.

"Hailey, get over here now!"

Geneviève suddenly realized there was another addition to their party, and that addition was sitting rather close to her. She looked up, green eyes meeting copper, and she smiled.

"Well aren't you a curious creature. No wonder I didn't feel you right away; you belong in Death."

Her magic reached forward and scratched him behind the ear, trembling slightly at the smell of Death caught in his fur.

10/12/2010 #134
notveryalice

[[ OT: So I've been playing around with Isabella's character in here... She's quite a bit more modern and savvy than I've made her out to be so far, and after some consideration, I've decided to keep her that way...so please don't be surprised if she changes a bit.]]

"Woman," said The Lady, "I wish to hire this boy. I will give magic to aid you in your task."

She lowered her head and spread her arms slightly, addressing the entire group. "I desire only to return to my home, as quickly as possible. I am willing to expend materials to achieve this."

"Child," she said, to the girl "Hailey", "it would be useful to me if you were to aid this woman in the healing of Jude Malevolent. If you wish my protection from her anger, you have it."

Before the girl there appeared walls of red stone -- but vague, amorphous, like mist, translucent -- cutting a path between her and Jude.

She murmured, "Quickly, now."

10/12/2010 #135
lookingwest

There was magic working all around me.

Sure, sure. But that she, that Charlotte, my magic, planted me in a position: "Jude really, you have got to be joking. There's only one solution: kill him. Pow, take some initiative. Earn some respect, seriously, I'd be ashamed to say I knew you. Fucking rip his wind pipe out of his neck and take the blood. It might take you home--whatever you want most, you know that. No one can blame you either. Just wait a sec, let the lovely doctors attend to you, and then rip his throat out and paint the ground with his entrails."

No fence.

She laughed, "Fuck fences. Hey, and don't let them get rid of the blood at the emergency room, huh? Blood suits you."

Fuck off, Char.

"Well I've got the big show, so I'm off, thanks for standing me up, you said you'd be there. Then someone fucking blew your face off, sure," she turned to go but then stopped short, "On second thought, rip his wind pipe out and then rip off his face, will you? Really, it's all his fault you've got to go miss the show."

Anything for you, Char.

She was off through the door, some door, I don't know, laughing, "My fucking prince charming."

There was magic, working, working. Was it her or there, neither her nor there. Working, working--ah, fuck it, I didn't know what I'd do.

10/12/2010 . Edited 10/12/2010 #136
Tekla

The gunshots did not bother Hailey in the slightest, she was quite used to healing herself on the off chance she was hurt. Rather, her name being called somehow brought her into a sudden moment of intimidation.

She scurried over to Jude's side, patting the head of the dog that was now at his side.

"Jude," she said. "I'm going to try to help, are you okay with that?"

Jude waved his hand, and she placed her left hand on his neck. Thankfully, his DNA wasn't as different as she anticipated, and her hand seemed to melt into his neck as it mimicked his cell structure.

With her free hand, she moved it up towards his face to assess the specific damage. Hailey wavered. "Don't bite, mkay?" That'd make this way more unpleasant that it needs to be.

She peered into the wound, realizing that the bullet had gotten stuck halfway through. Skin, bone, brain... Great. He can fix his own psyche.

Carefully, Hailey stuck her index finger into the wound as far as she could. The cells in her finger extended further into the wound, carefully pushing the remains of the bullet towards the back of the skull. The cells in her finger branched out to the surrounding matter, selectively attaching to the live ends of the tissues. The DNA quickly modified, changing into parts of the brain and skull that had been removed. When completed, the matter removed itself from Hailey's conscious thought until she only had a stub left. Removing her hand and consequent stub, the skin over the skull began to pull together - likely from Jude's magic doing its own thing.

From her hand melded into his neck, she surveyed any other damage. She knew she could prod around in his thoughts and memories if she wanted, but decided that having a vampire raging against her cos she intruded on his mind not be the best of ideas...

She placed her free hand at the back of his head, changing the tip of her middle finger into a kind of hook. She willed a hole to appear in the back of his head, parting his hair aside and creating an entry point. She dug around a little ways and pulled it out, dropping it with a clink onto the pavement.

Hailey placed the end of her finger into the entry way, repairing the rest of the lost tissue on his brain. She removed her stub of that finger as well, then willed the hole back shut, happy to not have to replace it with any more of her fingers.

"There," Hailey said, her hand extracting from his neck. "That should do it, though he'll have to fix the mental connections of his brain on his own." She sat back, cross-legged on the pavement as she rubbed her right hand, the two stubs waving back and forth.

10/12/2010 #137
lookingwest

Am I okay with that.

What the fuck is happening and then well

Don't bite me.

which only made me think for blood and this small moment when the idea of it pricked my conscious. And then my eyes were open and I was seeing and I could hear out of my ears and the world was back, whatever world, and things were moving forward.

And I was fucking hungry--and I was angry.

I flitted to the human Ian and stopped short close to him, all in his face. My magic was small and not speaking. I was finding it difficult to fight the vampirism off of my pysche--oh you've done it and like it anyway, something said.

"What the fuck!" I screamed,"'What the fuck was that for? You fucking--fuck! Fuck! Oh no, brother, you have no fucking clue. Don't fucking mess with me, brother, I'll kill you!"

I growled in frustration, attempted a pace to walk it off, but my anger wasn't subsiding and even though all those jacked wards and black magic pulled on his skin that was so Alphonse-esque, I could smell his blood. I sighed, decision met, "Ian," I said, suddenly stifling a laugh, "I'm going to rip your face off."

So I let go--and I pounced.

10/12/2010 #138
Evan Zeigfeld

Tumbleweed had found itself in an urban backyard. Confused, flustered, and scared, Tumbleweed tried to get out of this unfamiliar situation. Few tumbleweeds inhabited the city; like cowboys of the Old West, tumbleweeds embarked on journeys of destiny to discover their paths, to explore the wide open terrain of the West, not to be stuck in the busy, muddled streets of urbanization, and despite a bad habit of writing run-on sentences, tumbleweeds educate themselves and desire wisdom. Such wisdom cannot be discovered by tumbling about concrete and flashing lights.

And so, Tumbleweed left the small yard in which it found itself, and it grabbed the whooshing wind of passing cars to make its way down the sidewalk.

"These vehicles pass so hurriedly, and the people walking by just kick me around!" Distressed, tumbleweed approached a four-way intersection. Something bizarre was occuring! Gunshots, magic, healing, someone named Jude RUSHING across the pavement! "What the fuck is this?" thought Tumbleweed! Feeling too proper for this ridiculous behavior, it arrogantly rolled across the road, attracting the attention of all the strange characters in the street, whose heads turned in surprise as the tumbley fellow rolled on by. All the people were distracted, for they had never seen such an arrogant weed. None of them, however, understood the personal journey of the tumbleweed, for it had much to discover, just like the Cowboys of the Old West.

10/12/2010 #139
Engineer of Words

While I didn't enjoy searing hot buckshot being blasted right next to my ear or being smacked in the head, I figure the initial reaction to me losing my cool could have been much worse. Hearing went back to shit, but not hearing well was better than being dead.

I'll take it.

The witch responsible wasn't enthused, obviously. Like I expected it - not too many people take kindly to being fired on. Demon surprised me, though. He got a good laugh out of it.

Of course, then the somewhat more expected reaction happened. The vampire/witch hybrid - Jude, I think his name is - proceeded to run right up to me after getting his face fixed. Yelling at a guy who just shot your face off is generally not a recipe for keeping your new mug, but that apparently didn't occur to him right then. No matter.

He began walking in the opposite direction but body language didn't indicate he had any inclination not to return. Hastily I slammed two new clips into the pistols in my belt without removing them from the leather they were sitting in.

"I'm going to rip your face off," he said. Oh the irony.

Jude charged me, his speed difficult to gauge at such close range. I did what I did best - get out of the way. He took a big, clumsy sort of swipe at me, due to the anger I imagine. I hit him in the oblique and spun to face him. He charged me again at much closer range, and I couldn't get out of the way. He got me in the face but good. He wasn't particularly strong (comparatively) but the speed of his fist smarted badly. I reached for the set of knives sitting in my belt but he hit them out of my hands before I could do anything.

Shit.

I gave him an elbow to his newly minted face and pulled out a sawed-off shotgun with my free hand. Buckshot exploded out of the end but missed its intended target. Buckshot exploded for the second time, out of the other barrel, and I got just enough. His foot crossed the path of the shot, which caused him to howl and pull up a bit lame. That was all the opportunity I needed.

Grabbing him by the throat, I threw my hip into his and smashed his body face-up onto the tarmac. Free hand reached for and gave him a very good look at a polished yew stake, about a foot in length, and sitting half that distance from his heart.

"Right, well I wasn't going to do anything after you all took bullets so well. But now that you've forced my hand, let's make things perfectly clear. Be cool, or you'll need more than a little healing magic to fix what I'll do to you."

I wiggled the stake in my hand a bit.

"See this? It's not a virgin stake. Don't make me use it."

10/12/2010 . Edited 10/12/2010 #140
C. Tattiana H-H

The human and Prince Jude were fighting. Geneviève would have intervened if she hadn't thought Jude's anger was justified. It was rather exciting, actually, and restored Prince Jude's status in Geneviève's eyes.

But, she was still bored. There had been enough fighting and musing; Geneviève wanted to get home. She looked around at the group. Vampire, witch, demon, shifter, Lady human, hostile human, and dog. Her face hardened as her gaze fell upon each of the members in turn, silently weighing their worth.

"What a ragtag band of beings we have ourselves here," she said.

I wonder if anyone here has any military training. It would do well to organize everyone into groups. Perhaps a couple to scale the rooftops while the others proceed on foot through the streets. Which direction to head, though? We all want to go home but which way is that? And is it the same for all of us?

Geneviève scanned the group again, her magic quickly feeling for their strengths and general health.

Perhaps Hailey and Prince Jude should team up? They'd make a good pair; in the event that something wasn't mended properly, Hailey would be right there to fix it. Then we could have the Lady human with the hostile one... Yes, best to keep the humans together. They would keep to the center of the street so I could have a clear view of them. Who's left? Witch, dog and demon. Well, I'm not about to ask a dog to scale rooftops, so he and the witch could stick to the left side. The demon and I will take to the rooftops on opposite sides of the street. Yes, that sounds like a decent plan.

A shiver ran down Geneviève's spine. She quickly realized it because of the Lady human's presence. There was something not right about her. She was breathtaking, in a sense, but still there was something... wrong about her; Geneviève couldn't place it.

Yes, she thought, best keep an eye on that one.

10/12/2010 #141
lookingwest

(( Bloodlust for vampires in INSIWB isn't just about wanting the blood for taste value. It doesn't taste amazingly wonderfully or orgasmic or anything. It will take a vampire to experience something they most desire, usually something remembered as desirable in their human past. I haven't really fully addressed or explained that yet in INSIWB but I thought I'd just sort of touch on the basics because I don't know if what's going on in this makes any sense, and it was really hard to write T_T ))

"See this? It's not a virgin stake. Don't make me use it."

I started laughing. Started--started laughing.

"A stake," I managed, "I dare you to use it, brother."

Because I wanted to know, and I was curious, and well, this would test things out. Can I die so sudden, so raw, does it matter, will I wake up? Will I wake up.

Because blood was memory and blood was going to be my ticket for home and getting back--really, I was confident with what I most wanted. If it could take me back there for one moment--

Oh, oh, no, you know it's never really real, this is what gets them.

"Them?"

Vampires, this is what gets them, but I won't let you think like it.

So I didn't get his blood and if I didn't have that then I had the option of--death. Maybe it would take me back. Maybe not. Maybe I'd die and that's why Faal's demon dog was here, and I'd dissolve away and--

Leave Char at the show.

I shivered.

"Okay, okay, Ian, Mr. Vampire Hunter extraordinaire. Fine, but fuck you, huh? Fuck, you," I spat at him.

I moved to back off and I felt my magic spin for one second of relief that aligned with me.

And I took it.

"Pow," I said, weaving the spell through the short word, pulling it from my voice, and tossing it carelessly with a wave of my hand.

It sent Mr. Vampire Hunter flying to his back, hitting the ground hard with a groan.

That wasn't nice, my magic said, using me like that.

"My brother used us for years. Why whine now," I muttered under my breath, turning to retreat back to Geneviève, who was more familiar to me, and had such a sense of indifference that it was mother-comfort.

10/12/2010 #142
Nesasio

Trick was perplexed.

That was really the best word for it, he decided, after watching the human with the guns unload two of them into the crowd of assembled beings and injure, of all things, the vampire. As the echoes of shots died down and the clink of casings on the pavement ceased, Trick stood up and padded through the group, sniffing everyone for some indication that they were his target. Nothing.

The worry itch returned, this time on his left forepaw. He returned to the wounded vampire's side (honestly! who'd heard of such a thing?!) and gnawed at the itch.

He should have found the target by now. Death didn't usually give him much time between retrievals; the person generally expired within moments of his appearance. Their body died in some mundane way, he led the soul away, he moved on.... Someone should have died just now! So why hadn't they?

The young human girl - he thought the Cold Unknown called her Hailey - patted him on the head as she approached the vampire. Trick's tail wagged; she reminded him of his great-grandaughter. Elizabeth. Sweet girl. He met her on her fifteenth birthday and she sang him a lullaby as she stroked his ears before he had to leave....She loved to sing.

A faint whisper of movement reached his ears, coming from the street behind him. One ear swiveled toward the source and then his head followed as he grew more excited. Would this, whatever it was, bring him the soul he'd come here for? Trick turned ghost and ran off down the street to investigate. He trotted two then three blocks away and still saw nothing. But the sound was definitely louder there and seemed to be moving closer. Pleased, he loped back to the group and became corporeal again.

He wasn't sure exactly what had happened while he was gone. The vampire was no longer wounded (rightly so!), and the human with the guns was sprawled on his backside glaring daggers at everyone. Trick didn't care much. He walked over and lay his head on Hailey's lap and let her scratch behind his ears some more. He hoped she wasn't the one he was here for.

10/12/2010 . Edited 10/12/2010 #143
Jealous Rage

Kane looked on in amusement as the vampire walked over to Geneviève after using his magic to send the human crashing to the ground. To be honest, he had been expecting the vampire to attempt something as soon as he was well enough; he clearly wasn't particularly stable. Kane had considered stepping in before things got too out of hand, but in the end, he decided if the human couldn't hold his own against a single vampire, there wasn't really much of a point in keeping him around.

Now that the conflict was apparently put on hold, at least for the moment, Kane's thoughts turned to what some of the others had recently said. The cold woman had wanted to hire him. Kane had not responded to her statements, but in his head, his thoughts had rang loudly. What would you offer up as payment, I wonder? He was not above working for someone else, but if the price wasn't right, he wasn't interested.

And then Geneviève had started in on him, lecturing him about trusting the human. Trust? I never said one fucking word to indicate I trusted him. He had shaken his head in disbelief. It's simple asset management; when you have something that could possibly benefit you in the future, you keep it around. Dear god, I hope these idiots are smart enough to figure this shit out soon as possible. If we work together, maybe we can get out of this shithole sooner rather than later.

At that point, the cold woman had provided a path for Hailey to make her way over to Jude, presumably to heal him. To be honest, Kane had been lost in thought and hadn't heard much of the conversation that had been taking place around him. He had been a little surprised that the woman had put up walls to keep anyone from stopping Hailey; apart from the human, he was pretty sure no one hated the vampire enough to stop someone from healing him. He certainly didn't give a rat's ass one way or the other.

As soon as his face was all healed up, the vampire had started jawing at the human. Kane had expected nothing less. The situation had turned physical after a few seconds and the two had tussled around for a bit, but neither had done any serious damage to the other. A few parting shots and that one bit of magic later, and that was where everything now stood.

"All right," Kane finally said, "now that you've all gotten that out of your systems, why don't we take a minute to think things through. First of all," he rounded on Geneviève, "I'll side with anyone I fucking want to. An ally is an ally and we need all the allies we can get right now. If you're so worried he's gonna snap and kill someone, you feel free to keep an eye on him. Personally, I think he's smart enough to realize it's to his benefit, and all of ours, to be on his best behaviour until we figure out just what the fuck is going on here and how the fuck we're gonna all get home."

Next, Kane turned to the vampire. "You need to chill the fuck out. He shot you, you were pissed; I get it. But that's in the past now, and like I said, we need all the friends we can get. If that's gonna be a problem, you two need to just stay as far away from each other as possible until we can get the fuck out of this weird-ass place." He turned his head to look at the human. "You need to stay calm. As long as you don't flip out and start blasting again, nobody is gonna do shit to you. Conserve that ammo, human; you may need it later."

None of the others had done or said anything that required a response from him, so Kane finally turned his attention to the cold woman. "And you, you wish to hire me? Well, that is interesting." He grinned widely, once again exposing his impossibly sharp teeth. "And what, pray tell, could you possibly offer as incentive to work for you? I'm not interested in your precious stone, your money is probably a hell of a lot different than anything I could use back home, and unlike some of the others, protection is not something I want or need from you." He rocked back on his heels, his grin wider than ever. "With all that being said however, I am more than willing to listen to any offers."

10/13/2010 #144
notveryalice

The Lady spun, spun, wound, the ropes of dormant rituals wrapped about her fingers like tangled, writhing yarn.

She did not turn to face the giant -- her fingers tied, twisted, moved -- the mess between her hands sighed and heaved.

"You have suggested," she said quietly, "that the human is useful to you, but did not defend him as he was attacked. You have implied that we act collectively, and yet have been scornful when I suggested I pay you to accomplish exactly that goal. Surely, any gold or jewels would be better than none -- and for an action that you propose to carry out of your own?"

Her hands stopped moving, and spread apart. The thing in them dropped to the ground with an awful thud, and then, as it found its roots, snaked in a thousand directions, under their feet, through the pavement. It blasted through the walls of the nearest buildings without a sound, and suspended itself there, like some monstrous web.

Wherever it touched there grew small runners, finding their way down the streets, around the buildings, up the kerbs, covering sidewalks, so tiny they could barely be seen until they found their way into the light of the streetlamps.

The giant and the vampire started towards it, but the Lady held up one hand, palm up, and said, "Wait." They paused, ever so briefly, and the plant began to recede, except for the runners, which had turned golden, like ripe wheat. When the plant collected itself entirely in the Lady's palm, naught but a shivering lump of debris, she closed her fingers on it, and it vanished.

"I can offer you gold; I can offer you gems, but tell me, giant," she said. "What is your price?"

10/13/2010 #145
Jealous Rage

Kane considered the woman's words for several minutes. "My price," he said finally, "you can't pay. I have no need for riches; I take what I want. I have no need of more power." He shook his head. "What I want is to leave this place. I believe I can get that by working with everyone." He stressed the last two words.

Turning, Kane once again faced the other people. "Let's keep this as simple as possible. I want out. You all want out. I'm willing to work with you all to accomplish this goal. Nothing about this place benefits me; I have zero desire to stay here. Now, are we all going to work together or not?"

10/13/2010 #146
lookingwest

I smiled, all ears for a plan. "Sure thing, brother, sure thing," I said, nodding, "I've got a sword around here somewhere...now where did I put it?"

I looked across the gold ground were the magic runners spread and it occurred to me I might not find it. Such a spell, what a spell. I wandered past Geneviève to the nearest curb and bent for a moment to the ground, I put my ear to it, hoping I'd hear something.

But there was nothing--oh, just cold silence.

Hello, hello, street lamp?

Nothing.

What a Faal-place.

I closed my eyes, breathed deep for a moment, tried again to align my magic--

"Oh!" I said, feeling it now, "there you are."

I crawled a foot over to the nearest gutter drain and reached my hand far inside, just there--just there on the ledge.

There.

I grasped it and pulled it carefully, laughed, and then had it.

Standing I felt much more comfortable. "Here we are," I said, beginning to adjust it at my waist, "all ready. Now where's the beastie?"

10/13/2010 #147
1.21 Jigawatts

Blasted machine.

That was the only thought that filled Mathias' head as he fixed his eyes on the small bit of floating text that had taunted him ever since he had arrived in this God-forsaken place.

No networks detected within active range.

Location: Unknown.

It had been four days since Mathias woke up with what felt like a hangover that worsened by the day. Four days since the escape capsule that he arrived in ran out of juice, dropping him out of stasis and into a dreary expanse of cracked, gray earth with a kick in the ass and a breath of dust-filled air.

And to think: after wandering the rocky expanse for days, he had thought himself to be fortunate enough to stumble upon this seemingly endless shell of a city just a few hours prior. But he might as well have stayed in the dead capsule, if only to prevent from amusing his weary mind with the thoughts of local civilization, food, resources, or a goddamn network connection to something to give him bearing on just where exactly he was.

A frustrated sigh left his lips, forcing a wisp of frosty mist into his vision. He found himself curled up in the corner of a dilapidated building, his bag seated beside him and his hands clenched around a small orb-like object which seemed to taunt him with its dormancy. By contrast, a small circular disk that he had planted on his left side chattered away, letting off a soft hum as a reminder to Mathias to keep the damn thing powered with occasional energy symbols. Due to his fatigue, focusing his mind to form the symbols took its toll on his mind, becoming more and more difficult to clearly visualize as the days passed. He had to be careful about deciding what devices were worth using his mind to power.

He squinted his eyes and focused his mind as best as possible before a small, simple symbol materialized beneath the orb and disintegrated with a dim flash of white light. The orb started glowing, and before long, its tiny lenses projected holographic keys into the air, sitting beneath a colorful display of numbers and other miscellaneous information that he didn't care for at the moment.

Here we go.

He pressed his fingers to the keys, each one acknowledging the contact of his fingertips with short burst of light. The display flooded his eyes with numerous status bars and lines of text, each of which he actually happened to read and process thoroughly. But after all of that excitement, he found himself arriving at the same result.

No networks detected within active range.

No energy signatures detected within active range.

No...

Mathias shut the bloody thing off. He didn't want to read anymore, as he found himself on the verge of tossing the device across the dilapidated room.

He curled up against the wall and pressed his face into his knees.

This has to be some kind of bad joke. Or dream.

He couldn't fight the feeling that this entire set-up and chain of events had been designed to taunt his specific lifestyle. He was all to used to being connected, to being aware of his environment before stepping into it, and having three different escape routes planned before setting out on any venture. As a man who got by on leverage, on being a shadow within a well-established infrastructure of information flows and loopholes, the current situation caused him to feel somewhat naked. Exposed. Displayed for what he was: a sly, conniving son-of-a-bitch with overall good intentions.

No, all of his valuable information wouldn't help him out here. His best friends were the mapping device that hummed softly at his side and the NPB pistol which lay holstered at his waist alongside four extra clips on his belt. Fortunately, he hadn't been forced to use the weapon quiet yet. His protection was no longer the favors that people had owed him, rather, it was five small capsule shaped devices that lay embedded in the ablative vest that he wore under his shirt. His guiding light was no longer the variation of parameters or movements of observed parties, but rather a bright glowstick letting off a soft blue hue and a small flashlight that he kept stowed in his pocket for the time being.

After all of this time, he had still yet to grow accustomed to his new predicament. After all, his planet was a world that was so tightly integrated and connected that the concept of ending up on a part of it that was out of range of any of the info-grid networks or cut off from linking with any of the thousands of public satellites that orbited the planet was unimaginable. It was a structure that he himself had become one with, in order to trace the trails of the only murderer he had never been able to catch, identify, or explain. And to be suddenly removed from it left him with a sense of bewilderment.

Preventing himself from pondering much longer as he waited for the disk to finish humming, he laid his head on his knees and closed his eyes, using the precious downtime to reclaim any bit of sanity he had left. But the joke of his predicament only seemed to continue, as his moment of peace was pierced by the incessant banging of gas-propelled gunfire in the distance.

Cannibals!

His eyes shot open, his body sunk behind the concrete wall against which he had pressed himself against as a blink of his eyes saw his weapon drawn and clenched tightly between his hands, aimed through the blown out window embedded in the upper half of the wall. He scanned his view thoroughly, the small flashlight on the tip of his weapon illuminating every crevasse and detail of the street before him as a dim crimson targeting beam traced out the motion of his aim. In the corner of his eye, a small number lit up from the display on the back of his weapon, indicating his remaining ammo for the current clip.

'36'

He waited. Time passed, and no other activity entered the range of his honed senses, except for an intrusive beep that shattered the nervous silence, but not without causing Mathias to jump for a moment before he took a long, hard glance at the holographic display that had lit up from the humming disk.

Topology Surface Mapping Completed.

Kneeling down beside the device, he watched as the display switched to a three-dimensional mock-up of the cityscape, outlining what seemed to be every building, crevasse and passage within an eight mile radius. As impressive as the display was, only a small, gleaming red dot on the edge of the display caught his attention. Maneuvering his hands within the hologram, the display zoomed in on the cursor as its significance became immediately apparent.

Energy Signature 001.

Intensity: Extremely Faint

Type: Unknown

Distance: 3.222 mi

Mathias smiled as he downloaded the coordinates to his small orb-like device, wondering why the latter had failed to detect the reading earlier. Regardless, it was his only hope at the moment and fortunately it happened to be in the exact opposite direction from which he had heard the gunfire from. He sighed of relief, knowing that he'd be avoiding cannibals today.

Now we're talking.

Without a moment of further rest, Mathias packed up his gear, clenched his weapon, and ventured out into the frosty night.

10/13/2010 . Edited 10/14/2010 #148
Tekla

Hailey scratched the dog behind the ears as she focused her energy to her hands, growing back the two fingers she had lost. She shrugged after a silent moment.

"I'm in, I guess. It's not like any of us have any better ideas, right?" She rolled her eyes as an afterthought. "Just don't go loosing appendages, I won't be able to help you forever."

Hailey flexed her fingers after watching the tips pull over each other, making sure nothing had gone wrong with the formation. She turned full attention to the dog in her lap. "And you'll come too, won't you buddy?" It turned to face her, sniffing at her face for a moment before yawning. His tail wagged back and forth, and she grinned. "I'll take that as a yes."

10/13/2010 #149
lookingwest

"Right then," I said, a bit glad the young woman with such healing powers had agreed to accompany them, "no appendage losing, I can manage that."

I looked round at the rest of the group, from the vampire hunter who was still on the flat of his back--

Great Gaia, did you whack him unconcious?

To the Lady who hadn't said a thing since her plant went into her palm, and then to the very indifferent Geneviève--now I wasn't sure if she'd come. Or want to--

I want her to.

"Shh," I hissed. And then, "So Kane, Hailey, doggy, and I are off," I said, cautiously.

Kane gave me a short nod.

"If anyone changes their mind, by all means, follow lead." And then I smiled, very eager, very excited, to find another fight. The vampire in me was itching to flit and find and kill, that sense that it could still lead me home to what I wanted pulled me further in anticipation.

I looked at Kane, "After you, brother," I said, still smiling, and gesturing that I would follow, "I'm fairly efficient at taking orders, and you look like you have a good eye for direction."

10/14/2010 #150
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